Friday, June 29, 2012

I made Evelyn a quilt because I love her

I made this quilt for Evelyn nearly a year ago.  I finished it and wound up never writing about it, but now I will because I love it and I'm proud of it and now she's going through a phase where she likes it.

She doesn't always like the things I make for her, so this new love of her quilt thrills my soul.  No exaggeration.

I love quilts.  I love fabric and I love squares (always squares) and I like sewing, even when it's slow.  I don't do it a lot, but I knew I'd be making a quilt for my baby a long time before she got here.  How else would she know I loved her?!

Somewhere in our closet, Cody has a hideous flannel quilt that some random girl gave one of his college roommates.  This girl obviously liked the guy more than he liked her, because she made a quilt and he wanted to throw it away.  Cody rescued it because he loves quilts.  Loves them.  The weight, the design, the way they just seem more substantial than a blanket.  He loves everything about them and I remember him saying--all the way back when we were friends and I was trying to figure out why he had his roommate's quilt in his bedroom--something about how he wished someone liked him enough to make him a quilt.

The next year I crocheted him an afghan, which seemed good enough for both of us.

Two years ago I finally tried to make him a quilt for Christmas.  I never wrote about that one, either!  I had planned for it to be this great surprise that I'd work on while he was at work, but then the sewing machine had other ideas and a needle broke in the middle of a flood and I sewed some things was terrible.  And there were pictures.  There's no need for you to see them.

I showed him the fragments of his Christmas present on Christmas Eve Eve, and he was very impressed.  And surprised.  I finally finished it during one of those snow days we had in February.  By the next year, we were planning a quilt for our nearly born daughter.

We didn't make that quilt.  The fabric didn't seem quite right, or quite her.  Time got away from us, and we had plenty of blankets and quilts to last forever.  And yet, I was buying and storing fabric here and there.  I keep clothes we can't wear anymore for sewing projects.  And so on and so on.

On the 4th of July, we enjoyed the holiday at home and I cut out squares.  I laid them out.  I laid them out again.

 Once Evelyn was napping, I sewed the squares into strips and sewed the strips into a quilt.  Evelyn woke up at some point and I made Cody entertain her while I ignored her in order to make her a quilt so she'd know I loved her.


They ran out and did some cool stuff at the grocery store while I laid down some batting (left over from Cody's quilt) on some backing (a fitted sheet with holes in it) and basted everything in place.

I left it alone for the rest of the week and then quilted about half of the blocks when I came home early and Cody and Evelyn were still napping.

The rest of the project was pretty slow.  There wasn't a lot of quilting to do, but I wanted to do it by hand because I have difficulties with sewing machines.  They're loud and fast, and the one my grandmother loaned me is pretty uncontrollable as far as speed and tension go.  Plus, I just love hand quilting.  My stitches are a little crooked, but not too terrible.  I stitched along edges to keep me relatively on track, and I knew it would hold everything together well enough.

Then I folded the backing down, pinned it, stitched it in place, and quilted a little line in the border some time in September.  

And did this:

And then we used it and life went on.  I didn't post much during that time.  I went to 3 funerals in about a month's time, Evelyn woke up a lot during the night because we moved her out of our room (I'm not sure why we didn't just move her back in for a little longer), my mom had surgery, and life did all those things that make you sit in front of a computer screen and go "This is stupid. I don't care what other people make and I'm sure no one cares about what I make." before I'd get on with the business of introducing solids and slogging through difficult days and enjoying happy days so much I didn't want to take a break from them to do much updating.

For the past month, Evelyn sits up and points to her bedroom when she's through nursing and ready for bed. I carry her to her bed and lay her down.  I put a pacifier in her mouth, and place her teddy bear by her right side.  She hugs him while I cover her in the quilt.  Then I stroke her hair a little, pat her feet, and say little goodnight things.  The quilt part of the routine is just for me.  I like to tuck her in, and I like doing it with the quilt I made.  It just makes me feel like a thorough mom.

Lately, though, Evelyn's been doing this thing where she likes security objects.  Or maybe she's just noticing things differently now.  Whatever the reason, she'll point to the quilt sometimes when we play in her room.  I put it on the floor and she sprawls out on it and pats it.

We were pretending to sleep on it the other day and I thought I should take some pictures of her on it and let you know I made a quilt for Evelyn because I love her.

Because I did.

And I do.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Open for business

Here's our very serious baby being very serious about her first cash register.  It's no secret that she absolutely loves them, but I was still a little surprised that she played with hers nonstop when we brought it home.  She'd probably been sitting like this for nearly 20 minutes when I started to record her, and she kept reaching for it when I carried her off to bed (and maybe she cried when I told her it wasn't a bathtime toy).

And, in case you're curious about many times she can open and close the cash register drawer in a minute and a half, the answer is 8.

My favorite part (that I didn't manage to capture) was when she first started playing with the drawer and had just figured out how to open it.  Once it popped out, she grasped the edge of it and tried to lift it up.

You know how most cash register drawers have a tray that holds bills and coins that you can lift to store checks and large bills underneath?

She knows, too.

Just give this genius your money already.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Balcony garden comparison

Last month/last week:

And this week we have lovely dark orange marigolds too!

And we ate some of our green beans for the first time a few nights ago.  They were so delicious we didn't even salt them.  We just boiled them and ate them and loved them.

Except for Evelyn, but she doesn't seem to like green beans.

Fine.  More for us!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer snacks

Evelyn had 2 teeth last week and now she has 4--and there are a lot of ominous-looking bumps on her gums still.  We gave her popsicles a few times in the hopes that the cold would help her feel a little better.

Let's just say the concept of popsicles seems to be helping her out more than the actual popsicle itself.  The video has way too much of me moving the camera and talking (and it proves that I'm doing most of the dessert-eating around her), but if you suffer through it you'll see her toothy grin and hear her laugh.  Seems like a good trade to me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sometimes I cook!

I'm going to talk to you about recipes.  No, really.

I don't cook a lot. I can.  I just don't.  I already clean, and I don't want to come home from work to cooking AND cleaning while Cody does....whatever it is that guys do when they're not cooking and cleaning and they don't have a garage in which they do manly things.  That's always been the deal in our marriage, and since Cody actually enjoys cooking, that's probably how we'll keep doing things.

But these aren't rules we set in stone.  Even though it would never occur to Cody to sweep the floor, he does a fairly good job of loading dishwasher.  And while I'll never be the person in this family to come home and exclaim, "Oh my gosh, I have been waiting all day to bake some bread.  I'm really excited about this!", I do sometimes volunteer to try out certain recipes or cook for certain events. I've noticed that I'm starting to volunteer more than I normally would in the past couple of months.  Even if we didn't take into account my occasional boiling of a sweet potato or an apple for baby food purposes, I've probably cooked more this month than I have in several years of this marriage.

But that's not exactly saying a lot.

I've made biscuits.  I've made oatmeal.  I make excellent sandwiches.  And I made Cody's Father's Day supper because I am amazing.

We had lamb in the freezer, so I decided this recipe would help me make a dent in the major tomato haul I brought in from the farmers market.  Tomatoes are so pretty and so plentiful (and, as a result, selling so cheaply) that I always forget I don't like eating them. So sad.  But even though something that looks like this:

is one of the most disgusting things I can think of, I went for it.  I'm so brave! I really dislike raw meat.  I was extra sad when I thought I didn't have enough meat for the kebabs and had to thaw and cut up a chicken breast.  I did like picking the mint leaves off our little plant for the seasoning, though!  Everything else was a little traumatizing.

I had to pan grill them because we are not a grilling family.
 The sad part?  I wasn't short on meat.

The little measuring cup of meat was for little pieces I didn't add spices to, for Evelyn. She wasn't a fan anyway.
 I also bought some multicolored fingerling potatoes from the corner store because we love fingerling potatoes and Cody got excited when he saw them.

I was really proud of myself when I bought them on Saturday night.  I felt less proud when I came home and realized I'd accidentally locked Cody and Evelyn out on the balcony and Cody had already stripped Evelyn out of her wet swimsuit and diaper.  At least they both have short memories.


Anyway, I also made my mom's recipe of salt and buttered potatoes.  That's when you boil one-inch chunks of potatoes until they're 'soft enough'.  Then you throw in maybe a third of a stick of butter (depending on the size of the serving.  One stick is too much for the two of us, but probably okay for my family) and some salt. I used coarse kosher salt because I'm fancy.  Okay, I know that's not a recipe. I am a very simple cook.  I like things that only have a few ingredients and a few tastes jumping out at me.  Sometimes I want a break from Cody's marinades and casseroles and I look for a good excuse to eat some plainer fare.

Cody made the bread. I didn't have time to make the biscuits because I was busy filling the apartment with smoke.  But the kebabs had a really authentic scorch to them!
Yes, I do realize I wrote a whole post about a basic meat-and-potatoes (literally!) meal like it was a big deal.  Be quiet.  One day I'll tell you about the green beans I made, or pass along the recipe we found for tomato and plum salad that's my new favorite thing.  Simpler foods just seem more summer appropriate, and if Cody's willing to relinquish some control and spend some extra time with Evelyn (even though he hates that), I'd love to make a few more meals here and there because I enjoy making things and cooking can satisfy a desire to create in a way that vacuuming just can't.

In general, though, I'm glad this is usually the extent of my kitchen work (outside of cleaning) and thought I'd let you know about the very special summer thing that happened over the weekend:

Behold, my first sweet tea of the season.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dads are great

Cody took Evelyn to the park while I made Father's Day dinner.

This is his completely normal reaction to sunlight.  He has prescription sunglasses.  Evelyn noticed his discomfort.

She decided to help him out because she's sweet.

And there's my dad.
My dad is great, and Evelyn's dad is great.  I'm so grateful for both of them.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Evelyn June is 15 months old!

Evelyn is old.  She's a very big girl.  She's growing and learning all the time.

She woke up at 1:30 this morning to nurse, doesn't walk or talk, and falls apart sometimes without a pacifier.

She's also still a baby.

She's enjoying a lot more solids, and she even tries to feed herself with a fork sometimes.

She nods, in a very slow and exaggerated fashion.  And only if you're watching, because she likes when people agree with her.

She likes being read to, and will sit still for amazing periods of time if you'll just read every book she hands you.  Or the same book 5 or 6 times in a row.  She's enrolled in the library's summer reading program and they said that counts.  The librarians are her friends.

She likes to push her stroller around.  She likes pulling things out of bags, boxes, and purses and putting them back.  This doesn't explain why she put a teething toy in her dad's water bottle a few weekends ago, but we were impressed with her ingenuity.

She'll say "mama" and "dada" every now and then, but not with a lot of intention.  She communicates, well, though!  Lots of pointing.  Pointing to bed means she's sleepy. Pointing to the rocking chair means she wants to nurse.  Pointing to the high chair means she's hungry.  She makes a terrible whine sound (even if she's not that upset) if she wants something, and she yells "Ooh!" as a way to make sure you see something she likes.  She hands us our shoes when she wants to go outside.

She has 3 teeth!  They're gappy, like mine (were).

Teething makes her clingy.  She came to see me at work today and burst into tears before some people even tried to shake her hand.  Sometimes she's super friendly and more than ready to dispense waves and smiles to the world.  Other days, she's just tired.

She takes pretty long naps, and usually sleeps 11ish hours at night.  I usually nurse her for about 30 minutes in the dark and carry her to bed because she is more than ready to go to sleep without rocking or extra lullabies.  She loves her bed and her same sleep objects and blankets.  As long as she has a pacifier, she's fine.  Boris the bear is turning into quite the security item.

Boris and Evelyn, nearly a year ago.

She still loves patting buildings and plants--she's very good at patting plants gently, and she's stopped pulling them up.

She made two day trips, rode in her first classic car, went on some lunch dates, and was an adventurous girl.

She likes to wear necklaces and sunglasses and hats.

She's fashionable and funny and an avid reader.  We like her an awful lot.

Her very first Mickey Mouse pancake at the restaurant!  She ate nearly all of it.

Dressing can be a challenge sometimes.

Happy 15 months, big girl! We've enjoyed them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book list for May

I never told you what I read in May!  Here it is.  Library books are marked with asterisks.

Faceless Killers. Henning Mankell. Trans. Steven T. Murray.*

The Pyramid: The First Wallander Cases. Henning Mankell. Trans. Ebba Seberberg and Laurie Thomson.*

A Clash of Kings. George R. R. Martin

A Storm of Swords. George R. R. Martin

A Feast for Crows. George R. R. Martin

Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972. Adrienne Rich

The Reptile Room: A Series of Unfortunate Events Book #2. Lemony Snicket*

I really raced through the Game of Thrones books, but I've switched to the Kurt Wallander mysteries because that fifth book can just wait a while.

I read the first book this winter after a friend loaned it to Cody and I wound up reading it instead.  It took me a while to feel involved with the story, but once I did I was pretty wrapped up in things.  So much so that I woke up one night and thought Cody had brought Evelyn into bed and smothered her because he wanted a male heir and was trying to make her death look like an accident.  After beating him awake and nearly throwing him out of bed, I realized Evelyn was in her own bed in her own room and Cody's arm had every reason to be underneath his body and wrapped in blankets.

After a minute or two I also realized that we didn't have a need for a male heir because girls can own titles and property now....even though we don't have either of those things, meaning I really, really have nothing to worry about.

Every time I tell this story Cody likes for me to remind people that he likes Evelyn, has always liked Evelyn, and would never do anything to hurt Evelyn.  All things considered, his reaction to me physically lifting him up while trying to hurt him was pretty gentle too and it was really nice of him to give me A Storm of Swords as a Mother's Day present.

So I waited a while before delving back into Martin's Never-Ending Orgy of Sex and Violence and Stilted Dialogue, and then lost giant chunks of my life reading through the books in May.  Until this:

Cody: Did you get to sleep late this morning?
Jen: Somewhat. I had a hard time falling asleep last night.
Cody: Seriously?
Jen: I was completely awake. Like, completely wired.  Then I fell asleep and woke up a few times, but it was okay.  Then I woke up at 7 because I was having a Game of Thrones nightmare. A bunch of us were in this place as captives or guests, and we did something to make somebody mad, so we were going to have to appear before someone in the morning but it just meant we were going to be executed, or tortured and then executed.  Anyway, we were going to try to escape because a wolf showed up.
Cody: Wait.
Jen: It was a really big wolf.  It had something to do with...nevermind.  Anyway, there were people with the wolf and they were going to help us.  So we're trying to get our stuff together and I'm trying to pack enough diapers and wipes for Evelyn and cold weather clothes as I'm changing her and there's not enough time and THEN I find out that the Red Priestess--she's a bad guy and I think she wants to take Evelyn as a sacrifice--has been posing as this nurse type woman the whole time and she's there
Cody: [takes a breath as if to say something. Stops]
Jen: and I'm trying to act like I don't know and I'm having to make that stupid small talk I have with everyone "Yes, ma'am. She's great and we like her a lot!" and I want to run away and then she says "Give me the baby" and I try to run and hang on to the baby and she moves really fast to grab Evelyn and that's when I woke up because I knew she'd take my baby from me.  Most of my nightmares are about failing to protect Evelyn, by the way.  Or just letting her down somehow.
Cody: You know what at least part of this tells me?
Jen: That it's a really good thing I'm taking a break from Game of Thrones?
Cody: Yes!
Jen: I know.  If I saw the fifth book, I don't even think I'd pick it up at this point.  I'm ready to read the Wallander series.
Cody: But that's depressing and it's all about crime.
Jen: I like how it's written.
Cody: It seems like you need to read a comedy or maybe one of those Jan Karon books or something.
Jen: [look of cold, contemptuous rage]
Cody: Do you know of her?
Jen: Do you even know me?!
Cody: [flinches]
Jen: Jan Karon?!??!?!?
Evelyn: Oooh!
Cody: My grandmother likes her. I know you don't read her. But something like--
Jen: I'm reading the Wallander series.
Cody: That's so depressing.
Jen: I like the writing and the characters.
Cody: [laughs at me while sighing]
Jen: Yes, there's violence and sometimes it's a little graphic. But it's not gratuitous and everything's well-paced and I like the structure of things.
Cody: [sighs]
Evelyn: Oooh!

So there you have it.  George R. R. Martin is out (for the time being), Henning Mankell (and translators) are in, and Jan Karon will probably never ever make it into our home.

And, in case you're wondering, everyone is sleeping peacefully these days.

And safely.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Our Saturday day trip adventure

We had a party in Hot Springs.  I remembered to take some pictures.  I'm glad I did.

Our first stop was McClard's.  I ate ribs.  Everyone else who wasn't Evelyn had half-spreads.  Evelyn had baby food and beans and crackers.

She loved it.  I promise.

The birthday girl and her adventure purse posed with Evelyn under the McClard's sign.

My mom bought this because she thought you filled it with air and played with it in a pool or bathtub.  It turns out that you fill with water and let your child beat it repeatedly on a carpeted surface.  (It lives on our balcony now.)

Yes, Evelyn wore necklaces most of the day.  She's very fancy now with her bows and flowery sandals and baby maxi dresses.  This was a party adventure day!

We walked around downtown and visited a toy store.  Their baby toys were pretty boring, but I saw a few dozen things to consider buying when she's just a tiny bit older.  She probably thinks she's ready for a train set already.

We ran into some Star Wars people working for the tourism bureau.  They were very friendly!

Good thing Evelyn is such a friendly girl!

Because I know exactly what would have happened if my parents hadn't protected me from someone like this:

(I, on the other hand, nearly knocked Laine over trying to get my camera out of the diaper bag fast enough.)

Unrelated to anything, but here's a picture of a classic car for Dad and Levi.  I wish I could have shown you the perfect Model A we saw.  It was a prop for someone's wedding pictures and one of the prettiest cars I've ever seen.

We sent Evelyn and Sara and the guys back to the hotel and went to a yarn store!

You wouldn't think this would be very fun for Laine's birthday, but she likes finding skeins with labels bearing French translations.  She kept running around saying "Look Mom! 100% Laine!"  (PS: Laine = wool in several languages.)

And sometimes my love of yarn works out well for her.  This is a cowl she can't wear for another few months, but she said she was happy with it.

Then I made her stop talking and take a decent picture for my Ravelry page.  She was very patient.

Not pictured: our food, Evelyn giving lots of hugs, a bunch of laughing, a bunch of eating, and Evelyn finally passing out for the duration of her ride home, Levi, Robert, and our parents.  We were all there and we all had a lovely time.

Happy birthday party, Laine!