Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Elevated Track.

Elevated track

Joe's train track designs have been getting progressively more complicated and his work more independent (he rarely asks us for help).

His verbal skills may be a tad bit behind his peers, but I think we can safely say that his creativity, spatial reasoning, and motor skills are just fine. He has an eye for structural integrity and interesting design (almost Seuss-ian here), and a very steady hand.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Weekend Miscellany & Late June Garden Ramble.

We're having a quiet weekend here. Just hanging out, doing a little sewing, running errands, and doing a little cleaning. (Am I finally getting that nesting urge? Or maybe it's just that the house finally reached a state of filth that even I cannot tolerate.)

We've had a stunningly beautiful June here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lots of sun and only a few days of our characteristic "June Gloom." (Knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood.)

The garden has been soaking up all of this sun. I don't know whether to thank the new raised beds and compost, the fact that we removed several shade trees, or the unusually warm weather for this unbelievable bounty. This is definitely the happiest and most productive vegetable garden I've ever grown! And after we built the boxes, it hasn't felt like much work at all.

Check out our tomato box! The tomatoes are almost as tall as Steve!

Tomatoes as high as Steve's eye.

Our small strawberry patch produces about one or two delicious, sweet, sun-warmed strawberries a day. So every day, Joe and I share the harvest. I am planning to expand the patch next year, for a larger harvest, because these are so tasty. (By the way, that is a poppy seedling coming up there on the upper left. Steve spread some seeds around earlier this year, and seedlings keep popping up and surprising us. On the right - yep, that's coriander, a.k.a. cilantro gone to seed.)

Strawberry Patch.

This is just our first summer squash harvest. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. (Planting three summer squash plants seemed like a good idea in April! What on earth was I thinking?)

This is only the beginning!

Of course, the people have been soaking up the sun too. I actually got a sunburn after sitting in our back yard for about 20 minutes last week! After almost seven years of living in Oakland, I've become more concerned about getting adequate vitamin D than regularly applying sunblock (obviously, I apply sunblock when I know I'm going to be out in a sunny place for hours, but not usually for working in the garden). I almost forgot that it was possible to get sunburned around here! But to be fair, I do burn really easily. My husband isn't getting sunburned in our yard.

Joe's loving the sun too. Here he is in his mama-mades, grinning in very harsh mid-day light. Instead of "cheese" he says "smile!" for the camera, since that's what I'm always telling him.

Joe in his mama-mades.

Of course, the dogs are getting their summer on too. There's nothing nicer than a nice patch of warm dirt, didn't you know?

Dog in a warm patch of dirt.

And finally, because I know everyone wants to see my ever-expanding figure, here I am at 35 weeks and change. I don't think I look all that much bigger than I did at 32 weeks (same outfit!), but in the past few weeks I officially grew out of pretty much all of my maternity pants and a good number of tops (including my me-made stripey top, sigh) as well. Now baby girl is simultaneously pushing upwards into my ribs and downwards onto my bladder (fun times!). So she is definitely growing! Luckily, my ruched maternity tees and skirts still fit. 

35 weeks, 2 days.

With only four and a half weeks until my due date, it's starting to really dawn on me that this new baby thing is for real. Like, I'm going to have to give birth again!  (I know, I'm a little late to come to this realization.) Eek! Time to reread my pile of Ina May Gaskin books and get psyched up/channel my inner hippie!

Hope everyone is having a lovely, sunny weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Coming Soon: Shorts on the Line!

shorts on the line button

Well, things are definitely slowing down a bit on the sewing front over here. I'm almost 35 weeks pregnant now, and I'm getting pretty big and uncomfortable. My back is pretty achy after a day at work, so spending my evenings cutting things out on the floor, standing at my ironing board, and sitting at the sewing machine is not as appealing as it was a month ago.

But I do have a couple projects in the works, and one of them is pretty exciting! Rachael of Imagine Gnats, Carla of small + friendly, and Vanessa of Designs by Sessa invited me to participate in their upcoming sew-along, Shorts on the Line. For the first couple weeks of July, they will be featuring guest posts (including my very first guest post ever, people!) with shorts inspirations, tutorials, and pattern reviews.

My post goes up on July 3, tee hee! You all know how I enjoy sewing shorts for my little guy! I've only sewn about a billion pairs, but he always needs more. I have an idea I'm pretty excited about (hint: I'm going to try using contrasting lime green thread on black chambray). So now I just need to get to work!

Check out the Flickr group and the Pinterest board

7.1 shorts on the line kick-off!

week one: imagine gnats
7.2 Rachael (imagine gnats) and Melanie (A Sewing Journal)
7.3 Courtney (mon petit lyons), Inder (Inder Loves Folk Art), and Nicke (Kiss Kiss... Quilt)
7.4 Rashida (i heart linen) and April (Sewing Novice)
7.5 Andrea (the train to crazy) and Kristy (Hopeful Threads)
7.6 Shannon (luvinthemommyhood) and Erin & Carla (Clever Charlotte)
7.7 Emma (Hello Beautiful) and Cassandra (Cass Can Sew)
7.8 Gail (probably actually) and Becky (Owly Baby)

week two: small + friendly
7.9 Carla (small + friendly) and Sophie (cirque du bebe)
7.10 Ros (Sew Delicious) and Veronica (sewVery)
7.11 Shelly (Figgy's) and Alyssa (Pile O'Fabric)
7.12 Jessica (a little gray) and Diane (from blank pages)
7.13 Kristin (skirt as top) and Kelley (Casa Crafty)
7.14 Katie (There and Back) and Tara (girl like the sea)
7.15 Alli (B. Yazoo) and Jennet (Feathered Nest Studios)

week three: Designs by Sessa
7.16 Vanessa (Designs by Sessa) and Jessica (Me Sew Crazy)
7.17 Cherie (You and Mie) and Jane (Buzzmills)
7.18 Karen (Sew Well Maide) and Stephanie (The Crafty Kitty)
7.19 Bianca (Sweet Diesel Designs) and Tara (true, pure, lovely)
7.20 Jenny (Stumbles & Stitches) and Susan & Adrianna (crafterhours)
7.21 Danny (Mommy for Reals) and Marian (Lady Face)
7.22 Jill (Made With Moxie) and Christina (2 Little Hooligans)

features and deadline
7.23 sewalong features, Rachael's favorites
7.24 sewalong features, Carla's favorites
7.25 sewalong features, Vanessa's favorites
7.26 final deadline for shorts sewalong entries
7.27 viewers choice voting begins

winners annoucements
7.28 judges' choice third place announced
7.29 judges' choice second place announced
7.30 viewers choice winner announced
7.31 judges' choice first place announced

grab the code and share the button!

Boring Blog Administration Note:  I've decided to turn off word verification in my comments. It's getting harder and harder to read Blogger's word verification, and I'm getting sick of squinting at it on the blogs I love to comment on, so I figured y'all were probably tired of it too. It also makes it much harder to comment from a mobile device. So let's see how this goes. If the spam becomes overwhelming, I'll switch it back.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Helen and her dolly.

Yay! My matching Helen/dolly outfits are a success!

Helen and dolly

Both outfits fit their recipients perfectly! And I think Helen is a fan! Isn't that a great feeling?

Helen and dolly

Helen is up and walking around on her purple cast, which is actually pretty hilarious and darling. She looks like a pirate hauling around a heavy peg leg! My brother-in-law Mike is teaching her to say "Arrrr!" and "Walk the plank!" But you can tell she is so much happier to be moving around! Later this week, Helen goes back to the doctor to see if she can be downgraded to a less restrictive cast or even lose the cast altogether. Baby bones heal so fast!

Now that Helen is up and moving around again, she's once again very difficult to photograph! Most of the photographs I took of her yesterday involve some blurry component.

Helen and dolly

But at least her dolly will sit still.


Helen decided to accessorize her new outfit with one purple cast, and one bright red leg-warmer.

Cast and legwarmer

Happy late birthday, Helen!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Not Nesting.

When I was pregnant with Joe, I was all about the nesting. Even though my back was killing me, the house got cleaned more thoroughly than it ever had before (with Steve's and my sister's help), cupboards were reorganized, and heaps of baby-related things were purchased or acquired by hand-me-down and set up. I even managed to write thank you notes for at least half (ahem, sorry about that other half) of the gifts I received.

I'm pretty sure that I made Steve set up the cosleeper and get the carseat ready when I was less than 36 weeks, because I was convinced that this was a matter of the utmost urgency.

The second time around, I can't say I've been as motivated. Yes, I did go on a baby pants making spree, that is true. But other than that, well, meh. I have been putting in as many hours as I can at work, trying to finish up big assignments and put myself in a good position for maternity leave, which might count as a very odd form of nesting, but I have barely even cracked open the bags of baby stuff in our back room, my friends have promised me hand-me-downs and I haven't followed up yet, I don't have a breastpump, baby swing, or carseat, and my ring sling project was a disaster. I'm planning to get Steve to set up the cosleeper after the baby is born, because scooting around it super-pregnant is just annoying, and anyway, I don't have high hopes that the baby will actually sleep in it, since Joe never did (he was more of a velcro baby). Joe, the world's worst sleeping child, turned us into a bedsharing family out of sheer necessity, and while it would be nice if this new baby was a better sleeper, I know better than to count on that.

And needless to say, I've done hardly any cleaning and pretty much no organizing.

And I'm totally not panicking.

I think part of this is just the pragmatism of having a second child. This time, I'm just less obsessed with stuff. With a first child, the stuff felt like a defense against the fact that I had no earthly idea what I was going to do with an infant. Like many expecting parents, we dealt with the colossal unknown by spending a ton of money. This time, I'm better acquainted with the reality that there's nothing much a newborn needs besides parents, really. And since I'm expecting this baby in mid to late July, she won't even need much clothing at first. Joe, a late-spring baby, spent most of his first months in a diaper and a swaddle or a Moby wrap. So I know I can get by with a lot less this time.

I don't need to prepare a nursery, because, well, we don't have a nursery. Joe still sleeps in Steve's and my bedroom, and this new baby will as well. (My house is currently at full capacity, with both Harpal and Rebecca living with us, and there are no "spare" rooms.) Some people would consider this a hardship, but I've found it's a lot easier to have Joe closer to us anyway. (Also, our housemates help  us pay our ridiculously underwater mortgage, so any sacrifice required is well worth it at this point in time.) However you view it, this is one less thing on my to-do list.

I also seem to remember that the last couple weeks of my pregnancy with Joe went very slowly, allowing me plenty of time to clean, organize, shop, pack a bag for the hospital, and generally prepare. If I get all of that done before that time, I won't have anything to do when I'm too pregnant to work! Right? And that would be terrible!

I had hoped and even maybe expected that Joe would come early (for no good reason other than that I was enormous and extremely uncomfortable and it just didn't seem possible under the laws of physics that I could get even more enormous and uncomfortable), but he came right on his due date. So this time, I'm not allowing myself to get my hopes up for an early delivery. It turns out, you can almost always get bigger and more uncomfortable. Live and learn.

Finally, I think I'm just kind of lazy (or is that tired from chasing a three year old around?). Cleaning, in particular, just sounds like too much work. Scrubbing back corners and reorganizing cupboards seems less important when you spend most of your cleaning time putting away train tracks that you put away just the day before, etc. I am not feeling the urge. Maybe I will in a few weeks, but in the meantime, I'd rather just hang out over here on the couch eating It's-Its, thank you very much.

But .... my mother (an astrology buff) will be happy to know that I am prepared for this little girl, whatever her sign may be (my due date is right on the cusp of Cancer and Leo, so we've been making bets as to which one she will be - me, I'm betting Leo because I have no illusions/hopes about an early delivery, see above).

So I'm done now, right? Ha.

What do you think? Will the nesting urge kick in later? Am I going to wake up 38 weeks pregnant in a total panic, disgusted with the state of my home and horrified that I have nothing more than two astrologically-themed sleepers for this child to wear? Or is this just a feature of my less materialistic and more realistic attitude approaching the birth of our second child?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Milestones: Helen's Second Birthday and Joe's First Trip to the ER.

This post was supposed to be about only one major milestone. My niece, Helen, turned two this past weekend. Unfortunately, just a week before that, she was running around her at-home daycare, got her foot caught on an infant bouncy seat, and broke her little shin bone (tibia). Ouch! So the poor little mouse is currently sporting a cast that goes from her toes to her mid-thigh. It doesn't seem to be bothering her too much now, but you can tell she is sad to see her little friends running and cavorting around while she is limited to sitting and watching. Luckily, we grown-ups know well what is probably a bit abstract to Helen - that the next four to six weeks are going to pass in a flash, and she'll be running with her friends again in no time!

So for her birthday, I wanted to make (1) something she could comfortably wear over her big cast; and (2) something she could play with quietly without having to move too much.

Helen loves her baby doll, so I decided to make matching outfits for Helen and Helen's doll (a soft, plush, almost newborn-sized doll).

Matching Helen and dolly outfits.

(I'm hoping to present these to Helen and get photos of the outfits on their recipients, but it may be a week or two.)

For Helen, I made a pair of Oliver + s Nature Walk Pants, which I think will be plenty wide-legged enough to comfortably fit over her cast, and an a-line sleeveless tunic/dress using Made by Rae's Flashback Skinny Tee pattern.  I made the same modifications to the top that I did for Joe's tank top (it's hard to see in the photo above, but I used cream ribbing around the neck and armholes here, which will hopefully photograph better on Helen), and lengthened and flared the sides into a dress. And of course, I added a tiny stripey pocket, to match the pants.

For Helen's baby, I made matching pants and an a-line apron top with a little Velcro in the back for ease of dressing up. I basically winged these items based on measurements provided to me by my sister (for the pants, I modified the Newborn Knit Pants pattern), so I have my fingers crossed that they will work on Helen's doll.

With this project, I finally used up most of this day-glo orange and stripey orange knit, leaving only scraps. Incidentally, if you're wondering how many items of children's clothing you can make with two yards of 60" wide knit, the answer can more or less be seen here, here, here, and here. It's been a great run, and I really love these fabrics, but I can't say I'm entirely sorry to see the last of this stuff! I have many other knits clamoring for my attention (although none quite so loud as these at the moment).

(It's also possible that I just bought some really lovely linen yardage in a similar shade of Blaze Orange and have more clothing in the works. Cough cough. What can I say? I believe children should be highly visible.)

I hope little Helen likes her birthday present!

But then there was a second milestone: Break out the baby book! Joe's first trip to the emergency room! Not long after I finished and photographed this little project yesterday, Joe cut himself pretty deeply on an exposed nail while running and playing. He didn't cry very much, so when he presented me with his "ouchy" and I saw a small but really deep and ugly cut, I was a little surprised! As anyone who knows Joe in person knows, he has an unusually high threshold for pain for a three year old, but this seemed a bit extreme even for him. Both Steve and I took one look at it and said, "Ugh. He needs stitches." So we packed him up and headed over to the ER, where the triage nurse took one look at the cut and seemed to agree with us.

And then they made us wait for five hours before actually stitching him up. As I'm sure many of you know, this is what happens when you bring a child with a non-life-threatening injury to the ER on a Sunday night.

Joe hated the ER and was miserable.

Joe's first ER visit.

Ha! Just kidding.

Actually, with nothing more than a piece of gauze covering the nasty gash on his arm, he was pretty much his usual self, running around, getting into mischief with medical equipment, smiling, and generally having a blast.

Steve and I, on the other hand, were bored out of our minds. And I was really hungry (we missed dinner) and trying not to add "pregnant woman fainted from hunger" to the hospital's caseload that night. So while Joe ran around getting into trouble, we whiled by the hours playing with our phones and joking that maybe if Joe seemed a little less cheerful and less totally thrilled out of his mind to be up hours past his bedtime, we would get faster service?

Towards the end of our stay, Joe started to tell us, "I want to go home." As an aside, you know you've got a kid with a speech delay when you hear your child say this at the ER, and your first thought is, "Wow, that was a perfect sentence! Go Joe!" So anyway, I kept telling him, "You have a big ouchy, and the doctor needs to fix it up. Then we'll go home."

After a while, he responded, "No big ouchy. Teeny tiny ouchy! Go home! Tiny ouchy!"

Oh, honey! My heart broke a little for my brave boy there.

"No, honey, I wish it was a tiny ouchy, but it's a big ouchy. It needs a doctor to fix it up."

When the time finally came to stitch Joe up, he was basically a superstar. He let the nurses strap him into a "papoose" without much complaint. While the doctor was injecting the lidocaine, it obviously hurt (we all know that's the worst part, right?), but Joe didn't cry. He just wimpered, "doctor fix up ouchy!" Later, while the doctor was stitching him up, she told him he was being really good, and Joe looked sad, but just repeated determinedly, like a little toddler mantra, "really good! really good!"

My brave, stoic, seriously good little boy. At that moment, I was so pained that he had to go through this, but also so, so crazily proud of him. I wanted to tell him he didn't need to be so brave, that it was okay to cry, but I was trying too hard to be brave and not to cry myself.

I was also trying not to watch what the doctor was doing, because, yeeesh. You can be sure Joe didn't get his toughness from his mother. I'm 100% positive I would have complained more if this happened to me as an adult, forget at Joe's age.

Result? Two little stitches in my baby's chubby, cute little forearm. No big deal in this wonderful world of modern medicine. Definitely a "tiny ouchy" compared to Helen's broken leg, which is also, in the scheme of things, not too big a deal.

Once the sutures were in, Joe was back to his normal self, and, like the sensible child that he is, decided he was outta there. We couldn't agree more! Seriously, we left that place so fast, the nurses almost had to run after us with our discharge forms.

So that's that. In seven to ten days, Joe will get his stitches out and in the meantime, the big challenge will be keeping them clean, given that most of Joe's favorite activities involve dirt.

This morning, I asked Joe if his arm hurt, and he just pointed to his sutures, grinned, and said "all fixed up!"And then he ran away to do Joe-like things. Probably involving dirt.

That's my boy!

And thank goodness for the tetanus vaccine!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Best package ever.

Whoever decided that internet friends are somehow not as good as other friends clearly didn't have as wonderful a bunch of internet friends as I do! I met my friend Christine, who blogs about her sewing over at OakRoseMama, through the La Leche League Mother-to-Mother Forum, a wonderful online resource for breastfeeding moms. Christine lives in rural Texas, where she's raising her daughter Elena, who is almost exactly a year younger than Joe. Besides breastfeeding our kids, we have a ton in common. We both love to sew, we both love all things vintage (especially Depression-era vintage), we both studied anthropology (Christine is getting her PhD in archeology!), and we both love dogs and gardening. I haven't (yet) met Christine in person but she's as "real life" a friend as anyone could hope to have.

She's also an incredibly generous and giving person. I already knew this about her, but I was reminded when I got a big box in the mail last week!

In addition to a pile of pretty fabrics, which I'm sure will be showing up made into clothing on this blog soon, Christine sent me a pretty little dress for my little girl on the way. She knows I love white collars and details on dresses - it's so old-fashioned and lovely.

Pretty little girl dress!

And a bonnet that she made from embroidered linens. Isn't it just darling? I can't wait to see it on my baby girl.


And, oh my goodness, you guys! She made my little baby a quilt using a vintage quilt top!!

Feedsack Quilt

As she writes in her card, "I rescued an old feedsack quilt labeled a 'cutter.' It was the size of a king bed comforter. Sadly only a baby quilt sized area could be saved." So she picked the quilt apart, retaining part of the quilt top, including some of the border (the red print). Then she sandwiched it with new batting and a new backing, and then - here's the really crazy awesome part - she and her mother-in-law hand quilted it.

(Christine reports that she hand quilted it while watching Downton Abbey, which officially makes her Downton Abbey addiction a million times more productive than mine. The only multitasking I do in front of the television these days is eating.)

I know. My cup runneth over.

The pattern is basically a giant version of Grandmother's Garden - really big hexagon flowers. I love it. It's somehow both darling and surprisingly modern (as vintage quilts often are). 

Check out these gorgeous feedsack fabrics. Stunning.

Feedsack Quilt

The printed plaids are darling, and I love that they are cut on-grain, but set off-grain in the quilt.

Feedsack Quilt

If you look very carefully at the shot below, you can see where Christine's mother-in-law skillfully darned a hole in the original quilt top. I didn't know anyone knew how to darn anymore! This woman has mad skills.

Feedsack Quilt

And here's a shot of the binding and back. I love Christine's choice of fabrics here - they complement the vintage feedsacks and fit right in, despite probably being 75 years newer.

Feedsack Quilt

Wow. It's so beautiful. I'm just blown away. I promise to take good care of it, Christine!

Go check out Christine's blog! It's a good 'un.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ruched Maternity Tee, Take Two.

I started this project two weeks ago, but then life, in the form of a bad head cold, way too much to do at work, and a BBC Sherlock obsession, intervened. You know how that goes.

The idea was to use up the fabric left over from this dress and this top to make another Ruched Maternity Tee from Megan Nielsen's pattern line, and I totally ripped off was inspired by this gorgeous floral-backed version of the Ruched Maternity Tee at Cotton and Curls.

Result: A coral pink tee.

Megan Nielsen's Ruched Mat. Tee, Take 2

With a contrasting striped back.

Ruched Maternity Tee

Contrasting back.

Um, I'm pretty sure that these horizontal stripes make me look even more gigantic from behind (not that anything would make me appear tiny and slender at this point). The stripes are cool in concept, but I'm wishing I had just stuck with the coral all around! Oh well. Live and learn. (Anyway, how often do I wear short sleeves without a cardigan? Not often.)

I'm 32 weeks pregnant now, and at my last appointment, my midwife told me I look "ripe." I'm taking this as a compliment? Ha.

What I'm noticing is that after a relatively easy pregnancy (at least compared to my pregnancy with Joe, when I suffered from nonstop excruciating back pain), I'm finally slowing down a bit, in sewing and in life. I took Joe to the farmers' market this morning, and for once, his slow, meandering three-year-old walking pace (stopping every few seconds to exclaim "yellow flowers!" or "blue train!" or "look Mommy, a bird!") was just perfect for me. Anyway, "taking time to stop and smell the flowers" has a much nicer ring to it than "waddling," don't you agree?