Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bow tie quilt c'est fini!

I got started with this project at the beginning of June, and made sure to complete it by the end of June! How nice is that? I mean, the baby is going to be 2 months old before you know it! There's a slight chance I'll see this friend sometime throughout the July 4th weekend, so I wanted to finish it up.

It only took a few sittings: 
Maybe one for the cutting, 
two for the blocks, 
one for the piecing of the blocks together,
one for the borders, 
one for the sandwich-ing
one for the quilting (as you can see, I kept it simple with modern lines to highlight the 'bow-ties'), 
and one for binding & labeling & photographing.
And by "sitting", I mean 2-4 hours spent in the workshop spread throughout the day, perhaps in between feeding and entertaining kids and hubby.

So, if I'm being inspired by Susan @ The Bored Zombie to document my time, that would equal:
8 'sittings' x 2-4 hours = 16-32 hours. I'm going to estimate on the low side of that number, so, say 20 hours to make this baby quilt. That's a weekend! Not bad.
As I mentioned in the first post on this quilt, this a city baby who will be spending time in NYC and Paris throughout her life, and one of her parents makes bow-ties, so I had fun with city fabrics and other prints that looked like bow-tie fabrics.

I also decided to use shirt-ing for the backing, which can be a little slippery and stretchy, but in some ways, that's kinda forgiving. So the final product came out very nice and 'light'. Great for a summer baby.

If you recall, I like the 'self-binding' method, so I trim the top and batting even with each other, and leave about 1 1/2 " of backing all-around the quilt so I can fold it in and sew it as the final border/binding.

If you want to be really neat about this method, then you could pin and iron it down to keep it even all around. I tend to eyeball it.

But since I didn't know exactly how the shirting would respond to the walking foot, I did make a little practice run out of scraps and it proved the shirting would be pretty easy to work with.

So I quilted inside the 'bow-ties' and then inside the white squares, using seam allowance only. I've been liking LOTS of negative space lately.

Not so much, however, that I didn't enjoy making a heart-shaped label that would show through to the other side for the bottom corner. That came out cute.

One of the parents is French, so I attempted to get a little poetic in the label.

And that's it! C'est fini! 

All 'tied' up [hyuk hyuk] and ready to be delivered to sweet baby girl.

Happy Project Day! 

What are you working on this weekend? 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Worried? or proud...#funforFriday

This is what I found in hubby's jacket pockets as I was prepping the laundry...

These are the 'nests' my daughter creates all around the house on a daily basis...

The laundry basket handles just gave in....

The little guy says he loves me so much it could "break all the numbers!"...

Asked her to put her clothes away and all of a sudden she's organized her panties by theme (hello kitty is the large bag, naturally)

We're trying to learn how to write our letters this summer and we must add some "flair"? to each effort...
The girl
The boy
Caught him singing "go to sleep.....go to sleep....go to sleep everyday" to his baby boys while putting them to bed: 

[ok that one is a no-brainer]


Hope you are enjoying some proud moments this weekend...

As for me, the blog is growing!!

[right after I decided to almost give the thing up, as life goes...] 

So I'm proud of that, and I want to thank you...and let you know that that includes some surprises & giveaways next month! Stay tuned!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sitting still

I finally and most eloquently, if I do say so myself, got out my feelings at this moment in time in our lives, or possibly up to this point of parenthood and going forward, to my husband the other night in so many words:

"I know you don't think I live in the real world, but I'm finding it's just the opposite. Most people are running - you are running to work - running to errands - running home - and running to put the kids to bed - running to mow the lawn - running, running, running - and not thinking about what's happening. You can avoid all this emotion, and this living. You are all running and I am sitting still at the table, like having a cup of coffee, while I watch it all happen. I see them grow up before my eyes and I need a God damn pause button before it all goes. I'm watching time pass right before my eyes and it is killing me. I see every moment as it happens and it is a moment to cherish and preserve and I know we will blink and it is over." 
Maybe it is a mom thing.

Maybe I have too much time on my hands.

Maybe it is a dramatic-former-actress-so-emotional-Gemini-thing.

Whatever it is, I am very grateful to be aware of this while I'm in it. While I'm in this beautiful world where frogs are stinkin' awesome and the kids want to hold my hand.

I don't need you to forward blog posts to me about 'enjoying the moment' and turning off the screens and running and jumping with your child and pushing them on the swing while fireflies and dandelion seeds dance around us in the sunshine.

I do it. Everyday. And I laugh. And I'm happy.

I'm so damn happy - it hurts.

It hurts to have so much to lose - the opposite of what Janis Joplin sings about:

"Freedom's just another word for - nothing left to lose..."

Sometimes I have anxiety about how this whole family thing is going to work out. My husband and I are both children of divorce, and my brother and I have drifted apart in our adult lives.

How do you keep this feeling? How do you preserve these innocent, loving, family days?

I find it so hard to settle into my role some days. I see other moms fully entrenched in full-time mommy-ness, aware that this is their life for a good, long, while, and they are prepared to make a lot of lunches and drive to a lot of swim meets. I always feel like the rug is going to be pulled out from under me at any moment. Hubby's going to lose his job and I'll need to go back; the NICU will call and say they need the babies back, the kids will be drafted to some prodigy think tank and my services will be null and void...

All irrational fears, granted, but omnipresent. 
Or perhaps, again, just my manifestation of my anxiety approaching kindergarten. 

(For the kids, mind you; I'm not entering least...I don't think I am...let me check my smartphone.)

While I may not be a 'working' mom, I am working at this calm, meaningful family time, my most prized investment, everyday.

And every moment.

Every mama needs a playgroup

Ugh! I'm so. damn. nostalgic today! Although I have posted about playgroups before, I want to record a few of my memories here so that I can remind myself of this special time in the twyns' lives.

Last night we had a lovely cocktail party to bid one of our fellow mommies farewell as she and her beautiful family head to a new city.

As is customary, one of our fearless 'leaders' capped off the night with a video montage of photos and video messages to the kids and mama of the family.

And we all sobbed.

And I say 'customary' because, we have had a few changes and moves over the years and there is always some type of send-off; and I say 'leaders' because this group has had its ebbs and flows and there are have been several members who have always kept momentum and structure to help the rest of us cope with the unending drama of motherhood, births of new babies, career changes, and the like.

I can't even begin to describe the importance of this group - and I didn't even get a chance to live as close as they all did and share subsequent births of subsequent children, the preschool days, etc. But if you could ever experience being a part of a group like this - just once in your life - well - then you know what true friendship feels like.

And I was lucky enough to have my own playgroup of twin mommies for a good while. But in this group, for a short while, I was unique as a twin mommy. And it made me feel special in more ways than one. I don't think I got to finish a conversation in that first year, but the bits I heard included such things as "I don't know how you do it" and "well, you have twins..."

And now you think I'm crazy and this sounds like a movie or a sorority - but it is. There are no less than... 16? ladies? and now more than (I'm saying more than because I'm sure I'm missing one or two) 38 children.

This is why, when we had a house party for the twyns' second birthday and I invited both my twin playgroup and this, my 'singleton' playgroup, we had 75 people! I, for once, did not make enough food.

The twyns' second birthday party
And now it just so happens that our friend is leaving as most of the older kids are finishing preschool and heading off to kindergarten. So it truly is a capstone moment, one that got my river of tears a' flowin'.

The playgroup formed when most of them met at a prenatal yoga class. Last night one of the mommies said, "I remember seeing one or two people not at class and thinking, 'Oh! They're having their babies!'"Many of them had just relocated to Philly, so it was a great environment for making new friends.

I met them all about six months later, when many of them took a music class together. This was my first structured venture outside the house, and after a few classes they were gracious enough to invite me into the group. Only a select few have been invited since those baby days...I am so incredibly grateful I was! I remember the exact moment like it was yesterday, and it was a full five years ago:
Having struggled through another music class chasing after my two wayward crawling babies, mixed with fear and gratitude as the teacher graciously held either the spit-uppy one or the whiny one with the head too heavy for his shoulders so that we could actually hear her and get something out of the class and hopefully be on our way to music prodigy-ness, I evaded the faces of my fellow mommies, embarrassed as I was in the chaos with which I had just invaded their sweet little peaceful and perfect worlds, and loaded the twins into the double snap n'go, navigated it around the hallways to the elevator, squeezed it into said elevator only to wait ten minutes while it slowly made its way down ONE floor that I could have skipped down in the span of 5 seconds before having children, all the while trying not to let-down in the midst of crying twins, exited the elevator in a wave of crying-ness, kicked one side of the double doors of this quiet church open to give my monstrosity of a stroller a head start in barreling through it and headed back to the car, my head hanging low, my success as a mom feeling far far away in a land no one knows about, and my activity 'done' for the week. 
I loaded one child in, leaving the other behind me in the stroller with my foot twisted backwards and placed strategically behind its back wheel so that it wouldn't roll in the parking lot. I then kissed baby boy, as I always and still do, upon load-in, because I had heard from another twin mommy to take the moments alone with each as much as you can and this was and still is my 'alone' moment some days, and headed to the other side of the car. Loaded in baby girl, and proceeded to head to the back of the car to load in the stroller. I closed the door on her side and before opening the back of the car, enjoyed the silence for a split second. Tried not to cry, tried not to let down as I had a twenty minute car ride ahead of us before getting to a place where I could nurse, and get back to business. As I was opening the back of the car to load in the stroller, my friend yells down the parking lot, "What are you doing on Friday? Would you like to come over?" Or something to that effect. I honestly can't tell you what she said other than to INVITE ME OVER. And I said something to the effect of yes and called my husband on the drive home and held back tears [again, jeez, I was an emotional wreck that first year], as I told him I HAVE. A MOMMY DATE!!! 
That first playdate - their Christmas PJ party - included a reunion with a pregnant mommy I had a chance encounter with the previous week at the mall Santa display. She had approached me because she was pregnant with twins, and I was, clearly, surrounded by them. We chatted, but didn't exchange contact info in those few minutes we shared. But lo and behold, there we were! It was one of those moments where you realize life takes care of you. Philadelphia is not *that* small of a town, and we are still dumbfounded to this day at our lucky reunion.
Our boys in that first year
Our boys a few years later
We reminisced about that, and so many other things last night... about themed playdates [log cabin? I missed that one], my crazy awkward rotting back deck, the 'littles' playgroup that grew when the mommies were having their second pregnancies and the older kids had started preschool, and we laughed about the many group shots we've tried to choreograph [someone is always crying - someone always has a sippy cup attached to their mouths...]

 Valentine's Day playdate 2010
Christmas Chaos with all the kiddos 2013
It is such a unique time in one's life - becoming a new parent - and sharing that experience - the absolute happiest moments mixed with the most deeply frustrating and emotional - is the most special thing ever.

 I highly recommend it. 

[And forgive me friends, for not getting these photos onto the montage, I didn't want to get into this ugly cry by digging them up and now look what you made me do!!! where are those tissues...]

Saturday, June 14, 2014

This is why we quilt

Remember how I was talking about the fourth charity quilt I made this Spring, this time donating it to our Moms of Multiples Annual Banquet Raffle? I was hoping it did well. did! 
Last night I won a beautiful blanket at the banquet thinking I would give it to the baby. On further inspection I noticed the caterpillar featured in the Eric Carle books. My son has Autism and even though his reading ability is beyond these books he still fixates on them. He also loves to wrap himself in blankets. He woke up with the blanket this morning as a surprise and besides swimming in the ocean and riding on some rides he has been wearing it ever since. Thank you for bringing unexpected tears of happiness to this Momma. I'm sure you never knew when you made that blanket with love and donated it to the banquet that this kind of joy could exist.

Oh I could just melt into a puddle after this one! 

I received this note from the member who won it, and the funny thing is, I was actually thinking about her baby-on-the-way [perhaps partly because she is one of those super-moms who is pregnant with her sixth, three of which are triplets!], and I was thinking of her the entire time I was creating the quilt, because I knew she would be at the banquet! 

Insert mysterious music here: doo-doo-doo-doo....

So, in case you ever needed any inspiration to honor your own creativity and throw it out into the universe...

Happy weekend; happy creating, friends.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ugh. The convergence is coming.

Tonight hubby and I had a heated discussion.

Well, he was discussing and I was flailing my arms about wildly and dolphin noises were coming out of my beak.

There is dread.

There is fear.

All of which, by the way, I fully recognize, are #firstworldproblems.

Nonetheless, my husband and I differ in our parenting strategies, usually in mutually beneficial and complimentary ways, but sometimes in complete odds with each other.

And now comes the convergence.

They will be headed to school full-time with children who have been in daycare since day 1.

It's kinda like a SAHM moment of standardized testing.

And when we made the decision for me to be at home with my lovelies, we decided this because we thought it would be in the best interest of the children.

And while I know there are many ways in which my children have benefitted from my being at home with them, I also recognize that there are ways in which they are at a disadvantage heading into kindergarten.

There are certainly children who will be more disciplined and used to a full day of structured activity, and possibly more willing and ready to accept that discipline and structure from other adults. The day care child will already be used to his name and label put on every piece of clothing and item he walks out of the house with; kind of a signifier that not everyone is perfectly placed in this world to serve, entertain, know, and admire him.

But isn't that what we wanted? A sense of trust in the world and confidence in oneself to carry about in that world, just before we tear it down and explain that it is a terrible, horrific, and awful, dangerous place?

Yes, but the reading. The one-on-one time, the trying again when we fail the first time. The striving and competitive edge to succeed. The listening. The wiping of one's own ass. We are behind. We are undisciplined and chaotic. We are inconsistent. We are not scheduled within an inch of our lives.

We. are free.

And by *we*, I know I, in a large part, mean *me.* And I know that I am inconsistent with many things in my life, and chaotic, and unstructured and undisciplined. [I do wipe my own ass, mind you.] I recognize all of these flaws and in some ways look forward to a day when I will be back to work, pencil and lunch bag in hand, once again lulled into the security of a 9 to 5 workday and direct deposit.

But today is not that day. And in our alternate universe, we must enjoy the benefits of our freedom. I know not all stay-at-home-mommies are like me, running their kids around town to various playdates, activities and mayhem. Some of them are actually at home, God love 'em, organizing their lives and giving them rituals and time markers for their days. But that is not me. That is not my children. Yet.

I tried to explain to my husband that during the convergence, there will be ways in which our children will soar, and ways in which our children will fall behind. We have to be on board with our choices to date regardless of the immediate outcome when the mixing begins in kindergarten. There is no way to quantify or qualify what we (and by *we*, we both agree I primarily mean *I* since my contact time with the children has been significantly more than *we*) have accomplished by having me stay at home with them.

Well so then he tried to quantify and qualify what we have accomplished.

And by *we*, I mean *I*.

And when you start giving GRADES to your SAHM wife, you better be prepared for someone to cut your class and go smoke underneath the bleachers for the rest of the year.

Or, just, for someone to cut you.


Stay tuned...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mommy camp 2014 #funforFriday

I don't have the stamina for this this year!

I must simply record all the ways I try to entertain these children monkeys in between school days and camp days. 

In years past I had a lot more of these and somehow they seemed to be a lot easier! 

I don't know if they expect me to be as attentive as their preschool teachers or if I have just lost my touch over this past year. I'm no longer able to get little tasks done without offering a bribe of some sort. This must be a systemic problem. 

Day 1: Yay! It's summer! Let's get outside!
Tyler arboretum starting at 9 am and going until about 2 pm...Alternate carrying kids back to entrance and dragging them by their sweaty neckholes.
Crash for a movie: Brave, while mommy works on Etsy orders.
Run out to Kindergarten Orientation/Playdate. Meltdowns ensue. Times three.
Calm nerves for an hour (both mommy and kids) by playing outside with neighbors.
Throw dinner together.
Throw bedtime together.

Day 2: Wow! It's still summer! Let's get outside and learn new things from mommy!
Start off at 6:50 am straight into a game of Busytown
We like to use our own game pieces
Kids yoga. Spend 20 minutes finding video, give up and use a YouTube video; spend 20 minutes alternating explaining why we are using this video instead of our favorite and actually trying to do yoga. 
Craft some fairies that no five year old would ever be able to do alone with string, beads, glue, cardboard cutouts from a paper set the little girl got for Christmas, explain for 10 minutes how the 'treehouse' part of it must be lost because I threw it away in a messy heap about three weeks after it was received.
Reading exercises after kindergarten orientation panic.
Check garden for weeds, caterpillars, blooms and vegetable possibilities.
Hot, sweaty playground play for about 2 hours.
Crash for a movie: Finding Nemo.
Prepare lovely dinner from fresh groceries.

On the third day she rose again in fulfillment of the...wait what?: Meltdown city
At this point I wasn't even brewing fresh coffee, I was literally heating up 2-day-old coffee. Not a good sign. Coffee: fail.
Yoga with our fave video Daddy found for us the night before. We muscled through.
More reading exercises as kindergarten panic continues to grow.
Bear Hunt: all was well until we started getting wet.
Shhh....don't tell mommy we're about to get wet.
Hit Staples for mommy's business cards: fail.
Make up gymnastics class: ok.
Two-for-one frozen yogurt: MAJOR fail.
Hit Staples for mommy's business cards a second time: half fail.
Crash for movie: fail.
Beg to hit the pool. Sign up for swim lessons for Mommy Camp Week #2: Win. The boy scrapes knees upon entering pool and proceeds to cry for twenty minutes while I continue to change band-aids every time he wants to 'look' at boo-boos. Leave. Pool: fail.
Throw dinner together, but not enough for Daddy because it's looking like he's not going to make it home for bedtime. He calls during clean-up. Dinner: fail. Rant on phone: fail.
Rant when he arrives home: fail.

Day 4: Let's slow that roll for a bit
Ahhhhh....coming together....
Sewing orders for mommy while kids ransacked toys in cabinet.
Legends of Chima marathon while mommy continues sewing.
Reading exercises a third time to assuage guilt from Chima marathon.
Play outside on swingset while mommy gets it together to leave the house.
Have lovely late lunch together at Zoe's, eat real food with bribes.
Last gymnastics class: great.
Home to crash....but decide we want to hit pool....wait a sec...

It was by Thursday of this week that I finally realized the secret to my earlier successes: a third cup of coffee in the afternoon. Well, of course! Yes, naturally. That acid reflux isn't going to flare itself. And that bedtime dance party's gotta come from somewhere. I swear my kids are going to associate dancing with quarter end somehow. It will certainly affect their career choices.

It reminded me of my addiction to crack cocaine and how much that has served me in life. Certainly a little sneak-week wasn't gonna get me off track or anything...

Cue Hallelujah chorus while sipping an afternoon cupa Joe. Actually cue Bach's Coffee Cantata.

So....we head to the pool and swim laps! Lots and lots of laps! And we are amazing swimmers.  Laps for the girl in the big pool (this is HUGE; she cannot stand in that water), laps for the boy in the medium pool (this is a cute attempt to be like sis.)
Check out that intensity. Check out that hair bow.
And it is not really that cold. And our boo-boo's don't hurt anymore. And we can do the big pool AND the medium pool. And we can get home a little on the late side because we ate lunch a little on the late side and...

We get home. And dinner gets started. And Daddy is on his way home and is starving and there is enough for him too! And everything is great. And coffee is such a wonderful thing. And Daddy wants to hit the range after bedtime...oh? Daddy wants to hit the range instead of bedtime? No problem! I've got this.

Oh but then I start having delusions of grandeur again...the Ironman always lingers...the great American musical....the great American novel...the Texas Lone Star quilt in honor of my grandfather...

Who said I was a great American anyways? I'm just a great. mommy.

Today is Day 5
let's go for broke and hit Dutch Wonderland and the Zoo. Mama's got the lock on some hot Columbian brew...

Daddy works so hard for our money. We should really enjoy it. Especially when he listens to my rants and why I'm so tired and responds:

"This is your JOB! I don't want to hear how hard it is!"

Does that, work in reverse? 
Actually we are having breakfast on the patio while mommy blogs.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Business of Business cards

Oh my blog-reading friends, you would have been *so* prouda me!

As I mentioned, I produced yet another charity quilt out of the A Very Hungry Caterpillar fabrics I used for the twyns' preschool auction quilts and submitted that to my Moms of Multiples Club for their annual auction.

I hope it does well.

Well my fellow twin mommy who picked up the quilt mentioned I should give her some business cards for the 'swag bags', to help advertise my little mommy business.

Oh, good idea.

Oh, I don't have those.

I have been meaning to print some up for a while. I'm no stranger to printing, as I was promoting myself as an actress-singer-songwriter for many years before being hired to promote the University of Maryland School of Music for many years. And I've been inserting various 'thank you for your order' pieces into my fulfilled orders thanks to some color copies I printed at my hubby's work and I keep cutting up by hand.

So how to do this official business card thingy quickly? I turned to Staples. I designed it myself online, ordered online, and can pick up in store after 4 hours. 

Sounds like a dream, right? 

[Well, mama did always say if it sounds too good to be true.... ]

I actually decided to order two batches because marketing products are 50% off right now. 

So I got to the store, and one of the cards was cut wrong. 

So they told me they'd fix it. And I told them I'd come back.

So we went for a bear hunt. Naturally

With our "lovey's" of course.
Throwing rocks into the stream is always a great time waster.
No this is not an American Girl ad, sorry.
I get a notification from Staples the order is complete again, so we head back.

It is still messed up.
Witness how they progressively effed up the cutting; 
hint: watch the disappearing "E" in the upper left hand corner
They knew the issue was the cutting, so they were in the process of adding a border to my design to re-print and re-cut.

Well.....that's not really up to you, now is it?

I'm sorry, did you go to design school?

Did it look like I wanted a border?

You know you cut it wrong, right? No, I didn't design it wrong.

I promptly told them I would take the ones that were not cut horribly wrong, and not take the ones they cut wrong. And that I did *not* want a border, that I followed the design parameters online, which suggested I do a 'full-bleed' design, and that's what I did, and that's what I wanted!

Boy. I am never this assertive with anything or anyone. 

It didn't help that while we were waiting for them to explain the situation to me, my daughter asked me:

"What are you doing here? All these people work. 
But you don't work."

I'm not even joking or paraphrasing. That is what she effin' said. That's a WHOLE 'nother thang we gonna get to another day, child.

But even if I'm not making a ton of extra money, if this business of mine has taught me one thing, it's that I can have a thing that's all mine. And I really kinda like that.

So I want it to be just what I want it to be! [insert two-year-old-tantrum in my head.]

So I will tweak the design a bit, and I will re-order from a business that more regularly does printing and not just copying and cutting.

But in the meantime, I'm going to give my friend the best of the crop for her 'swag bags.'

But while we are on this subject, which design do you like better?

Thanks for your input! 

Happy Assertiveness, friends!! 

Let my bitch-iness inspire you and tell me the story!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sewing room Reno part trois

It's "mommy camp" this week, meaning no school and no camp for the kids so mommy is squeezing in bits of sewing in the down moments (and with this gorgeous weather, those are few.) 

But I am still plugging away at making my sewing space more efficient and unique. 

I hung the memo board, the safety pin, and applied the vinyl letters to the wall above my machine. 

And then I mounted the magnet strip to the side of my cutting table.

And then paid homage to our new city above the couch.

Pay no attention to the fabric and papers on the floor that still need filing! 

Happy creating! 

What are you working on today? 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bow-tie baby quilt with a city twist

Oh I'm so excited to get started on this project!!

No I'm not caught up on my other nineteen million projects, but I just started cutting and piecing this easy baby quilt and I couldn't stop.

I'm using 12 inch block size in this tutorial.

The fun part about this baby quilt, is that the parents just got married in Paris (because one of them is from France), and they live in NYC!

So I'll be representing both cities in the design. of them makes bow ties!! They were featured in the Martha Stewart American Made contest this past year.

So this pattern immediately spoke to me when thinking about a baby quilt for their new baby girl, who was born a little early two weeks ago (hence the timetable of this project got moved up in my studio.)

3 of 12 blocks complete in  just under 30 minutes!!
NYC block #1 features the Guggenheim, Flat Iron Building, Chrysler Building and Central Park Fountain!
Paris Block #1 featuring the Left Bank, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower!
Wouldn't you like to know what other blocks I have in store?? 

More to come on this one, I'm sure! 

It's so super cute I can't wait to finish. 

Happy Project Day! 

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