welcome to three

partial layout

Due dates are elusive…and that goes not just for babies, but for births of all kinds, projects included.  Well over a year and a half ago — late January 2011, to be exact — we found ourselves twiddling our thumbs in what seemed like endless anticipation of having an official moving date for our big venture out West.  With all the bureaucracy associated with both buying and selling, we were at what seemed like an interminable standstill.  Not knowing the timing of big things (like a cross-country move) can make some personalities (ahem) go a little crazy.  What does one do when one can’t control (or speed up) the timing of major life changes? Well, one makes a quilt, of course.  I remember vividly, during that excruciatingly endless period of waiting, some thoughtful friends of mine encouraged me to engage in big projects to take my mind off of what I couldn’t control.  So, I got out my brightest scraps of fabric and started cutting.

cut strips

Now, I’m a big believer in preparation — getting ready, psychologically and physically — for not only what is going to happen, but also what you want to happen.  Around the same time that we were anxiously awaiting a green light for our move to Portland, some very good friends were deep in the process of trying to get pregnant.  Trying, that is, and not succeeding.  As I anxiously twiddled my thumbs, obsessing over my own problems, I thought of them, of how long it had already been that they had been hoping for a pregnancy, and how badly I wished I could do something to help.  And thus, my mindless fabric cutting became something else entirely.  I remember thinking, there’s not much I can do besides hope hope hope for these lovely people, but in the act of hoping, I can prepare a welcome gift…perhaps even summons a baby with some handmade love.

layed out

Usually I do things the other way around — I receive pregnancy news from someone special and I happily trot into my sewing space and commence the process of creating a welcome quilt.  This ritual has become one of my most treasured.  For this child — the very spark of whom was already so wanted, so beloved in the hearts of these lovely friends and a whole community of people surrounding them — well, we needed to pull out the big dogs and work every angle we could.  I put as much love into that quilt as I could muster, hoping someone out there would get the message and work some conceiving magic into the Brooklyn air.

The project at hand worked wonders for my restless spirit.  I worked away on it, loving the simple design, feeling cheered by the bright colors during a very grey January, and enjoying how meaningful it already felt.  Someday, I knew it, this quilt would have a baby sitting on it.

Of course, a week or so after I started the quilt we received our green light to move, so I packed it up, in its unfinished state, and hauled it cross-country with the rest of our belongings, unearthing it months later, still unfinished…still no pregnancy.

Months passed, I worried.  I finished the quilt back, sent the whole thing out for quilting, got it back, and tacked on the binding.  All it needed was a label…and a recipient.

And then, pregnancy news broke.

label

finished quiltupclose flipback

No one moved during those early months, and then 2 months turned to 5 to 7 and then to 8 and a half and with bated breath, the insular world of these fine friends quietly waited as he made his appearance about a week ago, in perfect health, a sweet little being.

The best things in life truly are worth waiting for.  And hoping for, and praying for, and summonsing in every which way we can possibly imagine.

Oh, welcome, welcome to three, my dear dear friends.

porch

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the benefits of being 2nd born

I am the 2nd of two children and I do believe there are benefits.  Benefits, that is, beyond the endless barage of hand-me-downs and some more relaxed parents.  Benefits beyond inheriting a cool sibling.   They do say 2nd children tend to be more creative. Smarter, definitely.  More gorgeous, obviously.  (I hope my brother is reading this.)

But let’s face it, we do receive a whole lot less attention…and I would think especially in those 1st couple of years.  Our older counterparts get constant googly-eyes and all their jokes laughed at.  According to my mother, us well-adjusted 2nds get the occasional glance.  I’m exaggerating, of course.  Somewhat.

This 2nd-born idea is on my mind lately with the imminent arrival of a 2nd born child for a very special friend on the horizon.  Let’s be honest, the parents did so well with the 1st born — she’s imaginative, hilarious, polite-when-necessary, ecologically-conscious, and practically literate at age 3.  This baby-in-utero, doesn’t realize what’s coming, truly.  Lucky duck.

I’m sensitive to 2nd borns, being one myself, and like to think there are some other advantages to this birth order that we just haven’t pointed out yet.  Living at home alone once our older sibling goes off to college can’t be one of them.   I’d like to think, though, that at least in the baby years, and with the very limited caveat that you must be friends with me, I can say with confidence that the 2nd-born child gets a better quilt than the 1st child did.  A significantly better quilt. That’s something, right?

For this one, I used the pattern “Wonky 9 Patch” from the book Block Party.  It is, of course, a twist on the traditional 9-Patch quilt that’s been around longer than people have been having babies.  The “wonk” part comes with some deliberate haphazard cutting to create squares that appear mis-measured and harken to the days of hand-sewing.  In the instructions in the book, they actually say, “don’t be afraid of the wonk!” which makes me laugh every time I think of it.  In any case, I think a Wonky 9 Patch is the perfect quilt for these particular friends who are, in one sense, solid, clear, and razor-sharp and in another sense, as wonky as they come.  (In other words, my favorite kind of people.)

I’d like to think this unborn babe will soon recognize that he/she benefited in the quilt category from choosing to come 2nd — that a few years under my belt of making and gifting these little bundles has afforded some happy accidents and a heck of a learning curve.  But let’s face it, by the time he or she is capable of such complex thoughts as comparing quilt quality, this thing will likely be loved, tattered, and torn to pieces which is, actually, the point.  Then again, he/she will be the child of geniuses…so we’ll see.

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cousins and quilts

It’s springtime and the rabbits aren’t the only ones procreating around here.  Nope, several friends and a few family members have been too — much to the delight of this quilter who loves the ritual of giving a welcome baby quilt.

I started this quilt quite awhile ago and finished the top (aka, the fun part) pretty quickly.  Then, as we quilters tend to do, I set it aside and started up on something else…probably another quilt top.  At the time, I didn’t know who this quilt would go to…no specific babies were on the horizon yet, but then one thing led to another, and here we are, mere weeks away from the arrival of another cousin.

I love the part of the process where you lay it out so see where all the pieces fit best before you sew anything together — like a ceremony or a garden…or a decent outfit.  You can see, this early stage occurred when we were still living in the apartment in Brooklyn — hence a quilt in pieces laid out all over the floor of the music studio/everything-else room.

Admittedly, with the strange issue of having fertile friends and family members, I haven’t had the time to actually quilt any of my own quilts in the past.  I usually send them off to amazing Pat in Colorado for the quilting module while I stay home and do the fun parts, headaches averted.  This time, though, I thought I’d try my hand at the actual quilting and see how it went.

I used Rae’s Storytime pattern and followed her instructions to the tee — straight lines that make cool ditch squares all around the quilt top.  It was fun, and gosh did I learn how much L.O.V.E. goes into quilting.  I thought I already knew…but now I really know.  But, it’s busytown these days, so I think I’ll go back to employing Pat for the next set of welcome quilts.

In anticipation of popping this quilt in the mail in a few days, I let her sit in this glorious Portland sunshine on the porch for a few hours today — to soak in all that is green and fresh and good here.  When I brought it inside, I noticed the cat made her way over quickly to nuzzle her face into the soft cotton and pause for a photo opp.  As if to say, “hey, don’t forget — he’ll be my baby cousin too.”

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the thumb twiddlers

Hello blogreaders!  Just checking in to say hi as the waiting game ensues.  Two months ago I was stomping my feet around the apartment calmly saying yelling, “I’ve had about enough of this waiting!  I can’t take another day!  Let’s move already!”  And here we are, still in Brooklyn, and it’s January 19th.  Touche.  (Modeling Supreme Patience and Perfect Anger Management — two easy checkmarks in my parenting manual.  Ha ha.  But stomping around the apartment really is SO therapeutic.)

So, thumb-twiddlers we have become.  What does one do when the proverbial waiting game seems to mimic all-too-closely the reality of a NYC doctor’s office waiting room?   One bakes cookies and makes quilts, of course.

Orlis and I have decided to take our favorite Brooklyn bakery with us to the West Coast, by mastering the art of the Monster Cookie, along with several of their other unbeatable recipes.  (I noticed in the recipe in this link that she uses chunky peanut butter, which is an adaptation of the original recipe.  I used creamy, but chunky probably makes them even more monstrous.)  This everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cookie has so many delicious things in it, you practically have a cookie identity crisis while eating one (or 7).  Is it a peanut butter cookie?  Oatmeal?  Chocolate chip?  Wait, are those M&Ms?!!   We have continued our fall tradition of a weekly soup drop-off, and have added some of these bad-boys to the delivery basket.

And, with so many loved ones getting pregnant these days (or trying trying trying), I have realized it is going to be a year of making baby quilts like never before.  With anxiety in my belly and a bit of time on my hands with which I can not yet do any real packing, I figured I’d better start stockpiling baby quilts for all the little babes coming soon.  The way I see it, the best help I can be to those who are having a little more trouble getting pregnant than expected is to go ahead and put my energy into making a warm welcome gift.

I found this dreamy woman online, Oh Fransson, and immediately purchased a few of her fun, modern quilt patterns.  Guess where she lives?   That’s right — Portlandia.  (Maybe we’ll be friends.)  In the meanwhile, I plan on totally indulging in her terrific patterns in the makings of some very special little quilts.  I started with one called Frames.  Here’s a sneak peak:

Isn’t it cute??  All those oranges, greens, and yellows — how can that not make you smile?

And in this process of waiting and thumb-twiddling and making cookies and quilts to assuage my nervous energy, and snapping a few photos to pop online for you all to see, I am once again reminded of the metaphors surrounding me.  The monster that is this transition and move.  The torturous not-knowing if or when you will ever get pregnant and how to plan your life in the meantime (and how closely that feeling now resembles our current waiting game).  And, what this picture of the quilt-in-process above that I unwittingly titled “half-laid” depicts so perfectly: that so many of our plans are just that.  Half laid.  Sometimes for longer than we may like…bringing out the foot-stomping monster in all of us, and pushing past our limits for not knowing what will happen next.  And there’s not much we can do but throw some more colors on the floor and sugars in a bowl and twiddle our thumbs the best way we know how.

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