Geeetings from sunny Connecticut, where I’m helping my sister with my three-week-old niece. Which mostly consists of changing some diapers, making a lot of tea, and trying to get Snapchat to recognize that my niece really is a tiny human.
God bless my husband for agreeing to hold down the fort while I’m here. Not only was he ok with me abandoning my own family for a whole week, he also prepped a bunch of slow cooker meals, and picked up some snacks at Costco. He knows better than anyone a) just how helpful it is to have people make food for you when you have an infant and 2) what a hopeless (pun possibly intended) cook I am.
The two meals I put in the crockpot were delicious. He did a decent amount of prep work and gave me very explicit instructions.
There’s not much to report from the week so far. It’s been lovely and cozy, and very non-eventful. I am sleeping better here than I do at home, which is kindof ironic. Something about the two closed doors between me and the baby, and a strategically placed mini-waterfall for white noise.
Also, no tiny humans have been jumping on my back at 5 in the morning. Which is definitely something that happened the night before I came down here. I would have like a million babies if I could snuggle with them during the day and then hand them off to someone else before getting 8 hours of sleep or so.
There was a regrettable incident involving a box of gluten-free pancake mix and a vacuum cleaner without a filter, but other than that I think I’ve been a net gain in terms of household chores. At least, I’d like to hope that my taking cleanup duty after a particularly impressive poo explosion makes up for the fact that I have literally displaced my niece from her own nursery.
Sorry if this post is dull, but life with a baby probably should be.
Hey, so, uh, did you miss me? Because I kinda missed this blog. But I could never seem to make the time to write in it. Especially as the months went by and I would say “well, now it’s been so long… is this really what I want to write about for my first post after such a very long hiatus?”
But, hey, it’s a new year. Let’s turn over a new leaf. Except you know my leaves. My leaves usually involve a long apology for disappearing, followed by… a long disappearance. But, I can at least say hi.
Life has been good. Busy, but good. Work is sumultaneously fulfilling and exhausting. Lilian is mostly a source of real joy, but also likes to push every single one of my buttons. I’ve been making a lot of craft projects, but not really sleeping enough. And I signed up to run a half marathon in June, because life was starting to feel slightly less complicated. Let’s just say that it’s a very good thing that I married a man who has the patience of a saint, and who knows I’m a lot less grumpy when I go on regular jogs and make things with my hands.
Kristian gave me a fancy new Cricut cutter (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, just google it) for Christmas and I’ve been like Bart Simpson and his label maker with his thing (you should probably go ahead and google that one as well). I was very pleased with the ironic sweatshirt that I made with it… until I came downstairs with it and Kristian asked me what I did to his favorite shirt. The moral of that particular story is that you should always doublecheck before ironing things onto a hand-me-down from your husband. Also, being good at eBay is a surprisingly useful skill.
Kristian got two brand new sweatshirts out of the whole deal. So I think he’ll forgive me… eventually.
We’re currently visiting my grandmother, which seems to have become our New Years tradition. It mostly involves Kristian cooking a steak and us all drinking wine, so it’s a pretty nice little tradition. Grandma stayed up until midnight this year, but Kristian and I were both in bed by about 10:30. Did I mention that we haven’t been sleeping enough?
We gave my grandma an Amazon Echo for Christmas and it’s been wonderful to see how delighted she is with it. When I set it all up for her, she asked me if I could connect her Pandora account to it. How many grandmas do you know who have a Pandora account and an Echo? As I type this, I can hear her chatting away with it. I’m just so proud at how quickly she picked it all up. I wasn’t surprised, though. Grandma was a computer programmer back in the day. She’s a real technology badass.
Myself, I recently learned how Snapchat works from my four-year-old. So, I’ve got that going on for me right now.
It’s been almost four years since we renovated our old guest room to turn it into a nursery, and I still haven’t documented the work that we did. Why must I document all of the work that we did? Is it because this is the Internet and we must document all of the work that we do, no matter how trivial? Is it because I needed an excuse to use the wide angle lens on my dSLR? Is it because the cleaners came today and I wanted to prove that we don’t always live in our own filth?
It’s because this is what the room looked like when I was like a million months pregnant, heavily nesting, and trying to not lose my mind over the entire process:
Somewhere out there, someone is frantically googling “Can my baby still get into Harvard if they spend the first month of their life sleeping in a cardboard box?” (Answer: yes. It’s called the entire population of Finland).
Welcome to my website, frantic googler. Everything is going to be fine. Have your partner make you a nice cup of chamomile tea, elevate those swollen feet of yours (I assume you are nesting, and therefore pregnant), and take a nice, deep breath. I think we finished our renovations on time (I honestly can’t remember, which just goes to show how unimportant this stuff is in the long run). Even then, our daughter spent the first few months of her life in a co-sleeper attached to our bed. Babies will sleep pretty much anywhere. Put them somewhere safe, and they’ll be fine.
Now I get to brag a little about how cute the room finally ended up.
Note the distinct lack of construction debris. I really feel that it adds to the feng shui of a nursery when the closet is no longer crumbling into dust. That closet ripped my Dad’s hand open (twice!), but it’s now the nicest closet in the house. I should probably have opened up the closet doors for a picture, but there is a very nice Elfa system in there (thanks Uncle Andre and Auntie Michelle!).
(I am so totally jealous of that closet, even if the hanging rods are all sized for someone who is only a couple of feet tall).
I think the room is a nice mix of classic and modern pieces. Or, as I like to put it, “stuff that people gave us for free, and stuff that we bought on-sale at Ikea.” The crib (now a toddler bed) is new (because: safety), but the other big pieces were in my sisters-in-law’s room when they were little. We didn’t have to do anything with the furniture except to give it a good scrubbing.
The wall hangings were all made by my grandma, who is a truly talented quilter. I made the curtains, some of the cushions, and that butterfly mobile. It’s a little hard to tell, but there is a quilt stand in a corner that has a whole bunch of homemade blankets on it, including a blanket knitted by my great-grandmother. That rocking chair is a family heirloom that my grandparents had re-caned. There is a plush cthulhu doll sitting on it, because how awesome is it that someone gave Lilian a plush cthulhu?
I intentionally hung a lot of the pictures and other decorations low. I mean, it’s a room for a tiny person. She should be able to look at everything. My mom gave us a really lovely gift that I put right at Lilian-height: it’s a recipe for her grandmother Lillian’s snow pudding. Lil was the OG, even if we did accidentally change up the spelling. It’s a beautiful frame, but somehow it always ends up slightly askew. I kinda dig it though, because every time I go to straighten it out, I have a nice little moment thinking about family history.
(I’m not OCD. I can stop straightening picture frames any time I want. I just choose not to.)
I kinda wish that the rest of the house was as nice as this room. We’re (slowly, oh so slowly) getting there, but this is the first room that we really planned out in advance, and then saw it through to completion. It’s also the easiest to keep clean, even if it houses a tiny cyclone. Kids’ stuff was made to be purged when kids aren’t using it anymore, so there just hasn’t been that accumulation of crap that you don’t know what to do with. I’m sure that someday soon it will all be bursting at the seams with random plastic toys that she can’t bear to part with, but for now it’s nice to be able to do a quick sweep and put everything in its place.
I wish my closet was half as organized. I wish my closet had real walls!
So there you go, frantic googler. You can rip apart your nursery and patch it back together before your baby arrives. I don’t know that I would recommend it, per se, but it is technically possible. I would highly recommend taking advantage of every friend and family member that offers to help. We sure did, and it’s the only reason that it all got done. That crown molding didn’t hang itself. It took two very tall friends and a shorter friend to supervise.
I also wouldn’t recommend getting knocked up as a ploy to get your friends and family to help you with your house. But it was also a pretty effective technique. So is marrying a very handy man. Kristian did a lot of the work in this room himself.
I am really glad that I took before photos, and that I remembered to go back and take after photos as well. Because, after all this time, I am actually kindof in awe at the transformation.
First things first, how cute is this?
We have had a lot of fun with Alexa. She tells some truly terrible jokes. And I’m sure that I will in no way, shape, or form regret teaching our daughter how to turn the lights off on us.
My hilarious work stories are all currently classified, so here are some more photos of my Splendid Sampler blocks.
I had to pick this one out and re-do it like 7 different times. Or, as my grandma likes to say, I had a lot of reverse sewing to do. There were a lot of little corners to line up. And the directions were not completely clear. They randomly switched back and forth between referring to fabrics by color and letter. And one of the colors wasn’t even accurate (she calls it pink and it’s red in the illustrations). I think maybe I was just really tired, but I had a hard time following along with this one. I’m pleased with how it came out, though.
This one looks pretty simple, but was actually a little hard to line up. Possibly because I had to keep an eye on Lilian while I was working on it. And she kept making a play for my permanent/fabric markers.
This one was actually easier than it looked. And I put a bird on it!
We had a nice little weekend… low-key and not too stressful. None of us slept enough (Lilian woke up in the middle of both nights, and got up super early both mornings). But we got a lot of work done around the house, I got to do some sewing, and Lilian had a very sweet play-date with one of her friends from school. They played together unbelievably well while Kristian and I sat on the back deck with her friend’s mom. It was just what we all needed.
Oh, there was that little bout of food poisoning I had on Saturday night. That was not quite so relaxing. I guess that’s the power of chilling out in the sunshine. I’d almost forgotten how miserable Saturday night was.
I am so excited for it to be warm again!
I’ve been feeling really stressed out lately. The combination of pet and house problems, plus a travel schedule that’s kindof bananas, plus living with a toddler, plus never sleeping enough, plus I don’t know there’s probably some other stuff on that list… has done a real number on me. So, I’ve been sewing. A lot. I go upstairs to my craft room, crank up some tunes (or a podcast), and then just lose myself in the creative process. It’s done wonders for my mental health.
How do I find the time to sew? Well, the combination of listening to the Note to Self Infomagical series after reading this post from my friend Vicki got me thinking about how much time I spend randomly scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. And so I gave myself a new mantra. “There is probably something better I could be doing with my time.” I still spend far too much time staring blankly at my phone, but I am so much better about it these days. I cleared out a bunch of RSS feeds that I wasn’t really enjoying anymore, deleted all the podcast subscriptions that were piling up, and have been making more of a conscious effort to put my phone down somewhere when I get home and then just leave it there. And now, I remind myself (again and again), “there is probably something better that I could be doing with my time.”
Lately, that something better has been to sew. Lilian goes to bed and I wander upstairs to spend the evening. The only problem? Sometimes I get so immersed in what I’m doing that I stay up way too late. Which is somewhat counter-productive (see: never sleeping enough). But! I still feel better than if I was spending my evenings watching TV. Plus, I managed to make some pretty things.
I am doing not one, but two quilt-alongs. I like the Crossroads Quilt Along, but new blocks only come out once a month. So, I decided to do the Splendid Sampler as well. I am way behind on the Splendid Sampler, but I have been just loving the blocks. I splurged and bought myself a bunch of orange and pink fabrics. I’m making this one for myself and it’s all about the prints that bring me joy. Lilian has been bitten by the sewing bug as well, so she and I have been making some things together. I am working on a quilt for her that just needs to be quilted and bound, but the hand-basting is taking me forever. I have another project that I’m working on as well, but that one is a present, so no pictures until it’s done!
My first four blocks for the Crossroads Quilt Along. I am using these awesome Scandinavian-inspired prints in pink and grey for this one. I had to re-do one of the blocks, because Lilian got her hands on it and cut it with her little scissors. I was steaming mad about that one, but it didn’t end up being too bad a fix. And it was a great lesson that Lilian can reach a lot farther than I thought!
This is block one from the Splendid Sampler. I used a decorative stitch from my sewing machine, which is something that I’ve been bad about doing. I’m trying to push myself out of my comfort zone. The decorative stitches are so much easier to use than I thought! I just have to remember to switch to my walking foot. I think I must have tried one with a regular foot and then convinced myself that I couldn’t handle them.
Here is block two! I didn’t like the busyness of that grey pattern, but it’s growing on me. I will probably sew all of the blocks together with a solid sashing, and then it won’t be too busy at all. One of the things that I really like about the Splendid Sampler is they give you the block designs, but also some suggestions on how to improve your technique. The idea is to learn a bunch of new ways to sew as you’re putting all of the blocks together. The tutorials that went with this one were really helpful. I think the corners came out much better than similar blocks that I’ve made in the past.
Here is block three. This one was harder than it looks! Lots of little corners to line up. I whiffed on one or two of them, but I don’t think it’s worth ripping out to re-do. This is the first block I made with a bunch of the new fabrics that I bought. They make me so happy!
And, finally, Lilian and I have been making some applique projects together.
This is a pretty genius pattern design. You trace the design onto a piece of backing, both the front and the back of it. Then, you iron on fabric scraps to the front. You don’t have to worry about staying in the lines, because you have the pattern traced on the back as well. Once everything is ironed down, you flip it over and cut it out. Very easy, but the lines come out perfectly! Lilian loves cutting up little pieces of fabric for me to iron down. This is what we were working on when she took the scissors to one of my blocks. Note to self: nothing but scraps on the table when we’re working on these. It was a bit of a pain to sew everything down (I only had medium weight Heat N Bond on hand), but she is so pleased with her new pillow. The only problem is, now she wants a million more! We’ve made a kitty and a unicorn using the same pattern, but I haven’t sewed those down on anything yet. She asked for a new duvet cover, but that seems like an awful lot of work.
I feel like I never have time to blog these days, but then I reminded myself this AM that blogging could be that something better than scrolling through Facebook. So, maybe I will try to make a habit of posting a little more often. We’ll see. Usually I say I’m going to post more, and then disappear for a few months instead!