Friday, March 28, 2008
Every day, Sofie becomes more and more funny and odd; she obviously has complex, rich big-kid thoughts inside her head but is still unable to share them with us. She's trapped by her 18-month-old vocabulary and the fact that she can't say any words of more than one syllable. She can't really say things like, "Well mother, I'm reacting oddly to your attempts to take me out into the world today because I'm concerned about whether I might have left my blanket over my dinosaur's face, back in the crib, and I'm worried that he might be scared of the dark. Maybe we should go back home and check."
Until now, she's been very straightforward. I didn't always know what she was thinking, but I could usually make a pretty good guess. Now, I sometimes feel like I have no idea what's going on in there.
For example, child of mine, can you explain to me what is with the squeezing-your-eyes-shut-and-pretending-you're blind routine? You shut your eyes and reach around blindly with your hands to find your breakfast food, then cram it into your mouth. You close your eyes when we have to wait in line at the post office, only to open them when we get up to the clerk. You pretended our friends weren't at breakfast with us the other morning for an entire hour. What's up with this? What does it mean?
Why do you say that yes, you want to go to Gymboree, only to burst into tears when we pull into their parking lot and shake your head "no no no" the whole time we're walking up to the front door? And then sit in my lap and say you don't want to play for the first ten minutes we're there, then say nononono when I ask if you want to leave? And then the next time we go it's the greatest place you've ever been and the most fun ever?
Why do things you've seen me do every day, like vacuuming, suddenly fill you with terror?
This is a good preparation for the rest of childhood, where I'm guessing every year your kids' minds become a little less understandable and remote. She's becoming her own person. We're becoming less this fused MommyAndSofie creature we've been for the last eighteen months, and instead Sofie, her own person, is emerging. She's separating from us, just a tiny little baby step at a time, which means we're doing our job.
Which I should celebrate. And I do. But it's bittersweet, too.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
So I've been quilting on and off for about ten or eleven years, but only quilting in what I would call a serious way for the last two years or so. Ever since my wonderful husband gave me a Pfaff Quilt Expressions for Christmas one year. Now I sew almost every single day, and am getting better at this bit by bit. And yet, still, I have never made a bed-sized quilt. Just little things. Little pretty things, but still little things. Crib quilts and wallhangings are a lot of fun, and I'm not set up well to quilt a larger quilt on my machine.
The largest thing I've made is probably Sofie's birthday quilt, (below) which still isn't finished because I foolishly decided to hand quilt it. It's darn close to twin-sized, I think.
Apparently I'm ready to take the plunge, though, since I've suddenly found myself working on two double-bed-sized quilts at the same time. How did this happen? I've already posted about my Sunny Lanes quilt, which I'm a quarter of the way through now and which is SO UNBELIEVABLY EASY that I can't believe I didn't make something from this book before now. No real pressure there since I don't have to have it done until my nephew's birthday in October. I'm trying to make one block unit a week. They're large blocks, so it goes fast -- only 12 in the whole quilt.
And now, I've signed up for the Orange Crush Mystery Quilt at Quiltville. Which is also full-sized. And I have no idea how fast that process goes -- if I'm supposed to get the whole thing done in a month or a few months or what. But I've pulled fabric for it and cut scraps and bought the little ruler I didn't have that was needed and so I guess I'm committed. We'll see how that goes! Here's my fabric for that one:
The orange and rust-red are batiks, and the blue in the back is much darker than it looks in this picture. The turquoises are accents. These colors seem sort of strange to me but it's what was called for in the quilt, plus a ton of dark, neutral, and medium-toned scraps. We'll see how it goes -- the last mystery quilt turned out to be a stunner so I'm sure it will be lovely when it's done.
Anyone want to sign up with me and compare progress? :)
And now for my gratuitous closing cuteness, here's Sofie at the egg hunt at the zoo last Saturday. She had a great time trying to clean up the whole zoo by herself. This is right up her alley.
Monday, March 24, 2008
I finished up the tulip top for the Four Season Quilt Swap. What do you think?
The original pattern had these squares set against white triangles in the corners, but since it was only one I wanted to dress it up a bit with some color, so I created the orange border and matched it with the sky blue flower fabric on the edges.
Now the hard part is over. :)
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I think I must not be liking the swap quilt I'm making. Because I keep finding something else to do instead of work on it. Like make an owl. Or today, make a doll quilt out of some old applique heart blocks I've had sitting in a closet for the last four years. I'm going to make two of these, because I have exactly twelve little hearts that were completed out of the fifty or so I was trying to make ages ago.
Nice, no? The red around the edges is just the backing fabric which is sitting behind it. It's also going to be the binding fabric so I just wanted to get a sense of how it looked.
Here's a more head-on view, again with the backing showing just for effect around three of the edges:
And here's the Four Seasons Swap quilt, so far -- all that's left is for the last two tulips to be sewn down. It'll take an hour, maybe. And yet I keep putting it off.
So why am I not finishing it? I think it's because applique, although I enjoy it, makes me a little neurotic. You're so up close to what you're working on that you can see every little imperfection and foible, even if they completely disappear when you back up a foot. I always second guess myself on pieces like this. But I think it's going to be nice. It's going to be set on point, so there are big triangles that go on each side to turn it into a square. I'm trying to think of something creative to do there.
The good news is that she's picked up the word "booger" -- such a nice word for a little girl to spout off at the drop of a hat. Add that to the way she shouts "poop!" when anyone goes into the bathroom, loudly says "cock" at the zoo for peacock and calls her private area "hoo ha", and we're succeeding admirably in setting her firmly on the road to being the life of the party someday.
Brett is back, home a bit early yesterday from his conference. I was a bit worried that Sofie might be all nonchalant about his return, but she did a good job of running into his arms when he arrived, and settled in happily to read a bunch of books with him shortly thereafter. We celebrated by ordering Chinese food, which is Sofie's favorite food in all the world, and we had to laugh when she took one look at the delivery bags and ran to her high chair screaming "cluck! cluck!" She knows there's chicken and broccoli in those bags.
We went to Sofie's 18 month checkup yesterday, and although there was a mixup in the appointments (it got deleted somehow), they fit us in with another doctor, Doctor Sarah. Sofie was not pleased with the whole endeavor, having been woken up mid-nap to go there, and she was pretty pathetic, sitting on my lap in just her diaper, clutching Gloworm to her chest and bursting into big, fat tears whenever anyone touched her.
But she's doing fine -- less tall than she used to be, average weight, still developing a big giant head (but not anything medically worrisome; I have a big head too). The doctor looked over a list I'd been keeping of what she ate in a week and pronounced her diet fine, even with her paltry meat consumption, suggested we switch to cups instead of a bottle before bed, gave her a couple shots and sent us on her way.
The shots really got to her -- she cried all the way to the car and then most of the way home, until I told her she could go see Grandma and Grandpa when we got back. A visit to see them invariably cures almost everything that ails her. Lately she's started running back and forth between them when we're leaving after a visit, throwing herself into Grandma's arms for a hug, then Grandpa's, then Grandma, then Grandpa. It's awfully cute.
These are the last shots for quite a while, so that's a relief. Now once her final molars come in later this year we'll be done with a lot of unpleasantness for several years -- no more shots, no more teething. I can't wait.
And that's about it. I'm not getting a ton of quilting done because of the sickness and how tired I seem to be by the time she goes to bed. But I'll catch up soon. I'm almost done with the applique part of my swap quilt and still hoping to finish it by Friday night.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
By questions like, "Oh, how hard could it be to make a stuffed owl without a pattern?"
Answer: not real hard. Although when you decide he needs wings and then decide to teach yourself how to blanket stitch to fasten down his eyes, you can easily find yourself suddenly missing a day of your life.
Sure, his nose is crooked -- I was going to fix it then decided that it adds character and also it might be a good learning tool for Sofie later, if she ever comes to me and requests a nose job. "Your owl's nose isn't perfect," I can tell her, "and you love him just the same." Oh yeah, I can see the good parenting awards rolling my way.
Our new owl is suspiciously committee-sized. Who thinks I should sew a big number seven on his chest?
- She's having a major language explosion, trying to say everything that I say and picking up dozens of new words a day. Yesterday I swear she said at least twenty new words, which is a first. One of them is "trip", as in "Daddy is on a trip."
- Last night, between dinner and bedtime she disappeared into her room for a while. I peeked around the corner to see what she was doing when it got suspiciously quiet, but she was just playing with a book so I went back to clearing off the dining room table and doing some pre-bedtime chores. She came out a few minutes later and we played and danced until bedtime.
An hour or so later when I took her to her room for our bedtime routine, I found out that she had located and stacked her bedtime books neatly next to the chair, and then dug the four animals who go into her crib with her at bedtime out of the toybox and laboriously hoisted them each over the edge of the crib. They were all in a heap in there waiting for her.
Perhaps not remarkable to anyone else, but she's never taken the initiative before to prepare her room for bed this way. When I noticed she gave me this big delighted smile and looked really proud of herself.
- Today she made her very first attempt at pouting to get me to do what she wants. She has a small container of bubble liquid and a wand that blows dozens of little bubbles at once, and yesterday we played with it in the living room for a while. Today she saw it sitting on the windowsill and pointed and grunted and basically asked for some bubbles.
"Not right now," I said (because it makes a huge mess I didn't feel like cleaning up just then) and she stopped and gave me a huge, big-eyed pout, corners of her mouth all turned down. Like she might cry. Except she clearly wasn't about to cry. And she was watching me intently to see if it was going to work. And when it didn't, she gave me a smile and went on with her day.
I see the terrible twos looming ahead, I do.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sofie is styling:
And also, she's a really good climber:
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Sofie is aware Brett's not just at work and seems to be thinking about it. Over lunch today we had this conversation:
Sofie: <sees her big green ball on the hutch> Ball! Ball! Ball!
Me: Yes, that's your ball!
Sofie: Daddy! Daddy!
Me: Yes, you play ball with Daddy!
Sofie: <thoughtfully> Bye bye.
Then she got down and got her ball and threw it like she throws it to Brett when she wants to play soccer, and stared at the ball for a while before turning away to do something else. I don't play soccer. That's a special Sofie-and-Daddy game that I don't want to pre-empt.
Me, I'm using this time to try to get my spring swap quilt mostly done. I'm doing applique, which takes longer, but it's just one small piece, 20x20, so I think I'll have it pretty much done by the end of this week, aside perhaps from adding borders. I'm also working on Andrew's quilt, and thinking about maybe getting ready for Quiltville's mystery quilt that's posting next week. I've never done a mystery quilt. Can I manage all three of these projects at once? Probably.
Several people have asked me how I get so much quilting done with a toddler. Two answers: 1) my kid is a very good sleeper who goes to bed by seven p.m., and 2) I don't clean as much as I probably should. Or rather, I've gotten more comfortable with what really has to be done and what doesn't.
Which segues neatly into my next item. In addition to getting a lot of sewing done, I'm using Brett's away time to actually get the house clean. Really, really clean. It's hard during a normal week to make much headway on it -- I just get one room cleaned and suddenly Brett's home from work and there are shoes on the couch, mud on the floor, socks under the dining room table, and fifteen things piled on various pieces of furniture.
It's not all his fault, either, but I'm more prone to putting things away when I've finished with them than he is, and with the three of us bumbling around using the kitchen and the bathrooms and engaged in all our various activities it can be hard to make a dent in things. So now I've cleaned the upstairs bathroom, deep cleaned the kitchen floors (another part of my strategy for an easy week is to try not to use the kitchen much for the next few days), and done a thorough job on the living room. Tonight, I might vacuum the stairs. Big fun, woo hoo!
By the end of the week I know I'll be anxious for him to get home and start throwing his shoes on the furniture and tracking mud onto the rug again, anyways, so let me have my little moment of calm. :)
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I had intended to take lots of pictures of the quilts I liked and post some of them, but my battery died after only five pictures, approximately twelve minutes into the day. Arg. So instead I'll show you what I got.
These are all fabrics for my spring swap quilt -- the green is a hand dyed fabric and the rest are a watercolor roll. I'll post more about that soon, but it's gonna be great!
A great animal print I couldn't pass up - Sofie has been enjoying pointing out the frogs and ducks and sheep and making the appropriate noises, so this will probably end up in a quilt for her:
Practical buys - thing I needed for projects in progress:
Pretty things I couldn't resist adding to my stash:
And a few more that are for a specific project I have in mind:
And a couple patterns I've had my eye on for a while:
And finally a couple charm squares and some sparkly fabrics for the next foxglove quilt:
Wow! Lots of stuff. But it was a great time, and I really enjoyed it. As Robin put it, people at a quilt show are really, really HAPPY. None of the stress and tension of everyday life, just lots of creative people walking around beaming at things and oohing and aaahing. It's a great vibe to soak in for an afternoon.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Setting up - who's missing?
Here's Mr. Cat:
I suppose you're wondering why I've called you all here today:
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
1. When sewing through a paper pattern, do NOT get the brilliant idea that the paper will come away from the stitching afterwards easier if you spray it with water first. It will not. It will shred, leaving little tiny pieces of paper embedded in every single stitch. And you will have to pick them all out with tweezers. Which is no fun.
2. Do not cut your scissor-phobic kid's bangs at lunchtime, without a comb, thinking one quick little snip will make it all better. Because you'll undoubtedly screw it up and end up evening it out until your kids bangs are a good two inches higher than they ought to be.
Sofie, now starring in a home production of Brother Cadfael and the case of the missing comb:
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Today, an immediate dose of Dayquil followed by two large cups of coffee managed to give me enough of a jolt to stay on my feet until 12:30, when I put Sofie down for her nap. She's NOT sleeping. She asked for a number of her stuffed animals to be put in her crib with her for this nap -- never a good idea, since it just leads to lots and lots of playing -- but I was too woozy to resist her indomitable little will so I gave in. And sure enough, she's screeching away and jumping around in there, having a wonderful time.
Me? I'm on the couch, three feet away on the other side of the wall from her, listening to her, hoping she'll sleep, staring out the window and half-napping myself, listening for the electrician who's due here at 1:00 to attempt to fix our wiring problems in the kitchen, wishing I could just go to bed for a few hours.
The good thing is that Sofie weaned herself about a month ago, just as the pollen counts began to rise, so I can now take whatever allergy or cold medicines I want to, night and day, without worrying about what they might do to her. What a considerate little girl! Thanks sweetie.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
For $70, I got probably a few hundred dollars worth of great quality stuff, including:
- Four pairs of really nice shoes in the next size up from what Sofie is wearing now, including a beautiful, hardly worn pair of a great brand that can be her every day shoes for that size
- A winter coat for next year
- A bathing suit for this summer that would cost $20 new
- Four pairs of shorts
- Three dresses that would have cost at least $15 each in a store
- Three hats
- Three shirts
- Seven books
- A wooden plane
- A dress-me doll, the kind with laces and zippers and buttons to practice on
- A play phone
- Doll accessories
- A puzzle
May not seem like much unless you're actively shopping for new toddler stuff these days. I swear, I can't believe what retailers expect you to pay just for a pair of tights. Or a swimsuit. Why should I lay out $20 or more for a toddler swimsuit? I've been watching catalogs for a good deal on these but have yet to see anything as good as the one I picked up today for $5. And the books! I paid $1-2 for hardback picture books that go for $15 each at Target.
So I'm feeling thrifty and like I accomplished something today. And I saw about half of the moms I know -- one from our main group of playfriends, one from PEPS, one from childbirth class, one from Listening Mothers, etc. Apparently lots of people have the same idea.
Friday, March 07, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
What do you think? Are the colors sufficiently manly enough for a teenage boy who's rather sensitive to these things?
I've taken a break from sewing for most of this week -- after I finished the purple thing, I didn't really feel like starting anything else. But today I sat down and started on what will be a full-sized bed quilt, for my nephew. It doesn't have to be done until October, but I wanted to get started on it so that I can make it slowly -- a few blocks a week, here and there, as I feel like it -- while still goofing around with other, smaller projects.
This is the first block -- pretty, no? The fabric comes from a set of charm squares from the Climbing Jacob's Ladder line, and the pattern is Sunny Lanes from Nickel Quilts. When I get four blocks and can show you how they lay out to make a larger "X", I'll post a new pic. I think it's going to be really nice.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Not that you haven't already seen a million pics of this tiny little quilt, but I finished the sleeve yesterday, washed and dried it, and it's now hanging in Sofie's room looking cheerful on her purple walls. She LOVES this quilt, so much that I had to keep grabbing it away from her to get it finished. I hung it this morning and she noticed it when we went in to put her down for naptime -- big smiles from her, plus pointing at the wall saying, "Kilt! Kilt!" (Her word for quilt.)
I think she likes it up there.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Miss Sofie -- what IS it about the library books? Why do they instantly turn you into such a screaming, book-throwing little despot??
Sofie loves her books. Loves them so much that she routinely makes me read at least 20 or 30 books a day. Which means we need to have a lot of books around. So we go to the library every couple weeks, pick up four or five music CDs and a half dozen toddler books, and drag it all home again. The books she really takes to, I buy used on Amazon. Thus we are slowly building up a library.
But oh MAN, the struggle to get her to accept any new book is just unbelievably hard. I didn't quite realize how freaking strong the whole "familiarity is good, unfamiliarity is bad" routine was for kids this age. I pick library books she's probably going to like, about kitties and ducks and dinosaurs and babies, with rhymes and enough story but not too many words. Once she gives them a chance, she usually likes at least a couple of them.
"Once she gives them a chance" being the operational phrase there. Because this process takes three or four days. Here's how it goes:
Sofie: Climbs into my lap. "Book! Book! Book!" she shouts
imperiously, pointing to the book basket next to us.
Me: "How about this one? pulls out new library book featuring friendly insects frolicking at a picnic.
Sofie: insistently "No no no no no!"
Me: "Oh cmon, it'll be fun! Let's try it!" opens to page one and holds book slightly out of reach. "There once was a bee named Fred..."
Sofie: goes rigid with irritation, flailing wildly for said book. "No no no no no no! Ugggggggggh!"
Me: tries to turn page, accidentally bringing it into her reach.
Sofie: grabs book and flings it across the room. "Book! Book!
BookbookbookbookBOOK!" Gestures wildly at basket.
Me: quietly count to ten
Then I pull other books out of the basket, one by one, showing them to her majesty for approval, 90% of which she shakes her head at, until I undoubtedly come across the book that we already read 35 times earlier in the day. At which point she happily settles in for reading number 36, and I settle in and try to determine whether I can yet "read" this book to her with my eyes closed.
Note that the book flinging and screaming stage of this often happens multiple times, and goes on for several days until all of a sudden, she's SEEN the library book enough times to concede that it just MIGHT be interesting, and lets me read it.
At which point it becomes her Favorite Book of All Time.
This transformation from bad, unfamiliar book to good, familiar friend happened just today with the library books we got last Friday. I've now been able to read all but one of them to her. That one, alas, she just doesn't seem to like.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Finished the quilting, cut and sewed on the binding and hanging sleeve on the pinwheel quilt:
Note that the binding is not stitched down on the back yet, which is why it looks a little loopy and weird right now. That's a hand-sewing job that I'll tackle tonight while watching television.
This was supposed to be a gift but I'm not sure -- it's got some mistakes in it on the borders. I was quilting through a paper pattern and it didn't go as well as I would've liked. So I think maybe I'll hang this in Sofie's room, where it will look great with the purple paint and green accents.
Also -- yay! I got the foxglove wallhanging put together and I love it!!
What did I do on this today? I connected all the blocks, removed all the paper, found some nice border material (you can't see it well here but it's small birch tree branches on a sky background, which I liked in the context of this quilt), and put the borders on. I also cut the backing and batting, so this is another hand-sewing job I'll do tonight to baste the layers and get it ready for quilting.
This one is definitely a gift, although I'm not saying for who yet. I'm going to make another version of it for myself, but the full quilt instead of the wallhanging -- the original pattern has four of these flowers next to each other, in different shades and heights. But I've been thinking about a gardener friend of mine the whole time I've been working on this, so once it's quilted, off it will go to its new home.
And that's it -- about all you can really get done in a day with a toddler afoot. But I'm here to make the other quiltathon ladies look good. :)