Friday, February 26, 2010

A budding hair stylist?

So Dorothy spent a long time being very quiet behind our big chair today, and I wondered what she was up to. But what could she be doing right there a few feet from me? I figured she was reading a book, and (sorry, but parenthood is gross) maybe picking her nose. After a while, however, she ran quickly from her hiding spot into the kitchen, then yelled, "Mom, don't come into the kitchen!" Never a good sign. So of course I went into the kitchen, and confronted a small child with a really bad hair cut. I wasn't sure what to do. I walked back out of the kitchen and inspected the crime scene (above). It was kind of funny, but I couldn't laugh, right? I went back in and matter-of-factly told her we'd have to go immediately to get her hair cut at a hair-cutting place, since we don't cut our own hair, and it doesn't look okay unless someone else does it. She burst into tears even though I didn't get mad (ahh, the guilty conscience!). I took money from her piggy bank to pay for the outing, and off we went. The result is below. I think I'll take her to my own stylist next week (or let someone else if I'm tied up with a new baby) and have it shaped up a bit--I'm not crazy about how it looks, but then, I'm sure what we came in with was a bit difficult to work with! The self-haircut is a right of passage, right? But then, I never did it myself.

Luge, and booties in two sizes

First, here is the finished version of the baby quilt. I love it, but then I'm just kind of digging baby things lately. I intentionally left the internal layer of flannel unwashed, so after I laundered the final quilt it puckered up a bit like a soft, old vintage quilt.

Next, Dorothy and I met a new refugee family being sponsored by our church at the airport yesterday. When no one speaks a common language (and the translator is tied up with airport personnel trying to locate lost luggage...ugh), there is nothing like the ice-breaking power of a preschooler to help everyone come together! She was holding hands and dancing around with the teenagers in no time, and in a situation where the (well-meaning) American volunteers seem to hold a little too much of the power, it is so nice to have an international symbol of "I trust you back," to give, in allowing the newcomers access to interact with and touch my own child.

When we came back home (unrelated, but see photo), I helped Dorothy fashion a luge track out of a paper towel tube, and her little dolls competed for gold medals for over an hour. We're normally tv-free at our house, but we've pulled the little 13-incher and the rabbit ears (now with digital box attachment after last summer's switch) up from the basement for the winter games and are enjoying some family time in the evenings watching the athletes.
Finally, a couple nights ago I was having the really annoying kind of contractions--the kind that don't seem to go anywhere, but can't quite be slept through either. So I got out of bed and started another pair of booties for the baby, on the grounds that although he is well stocked, he didn't have a newborn-sized pair that matches his hospital outfit. (We have matching blue and white jammies for our first day together.) So I made the navy booties, above. But then I finished them and thought maybe they were a wee bit big, but by then had grown attached to the idea of booties for the hospital, so I made another smaller pair, out of a not-so-matchy but lovely soft alpaca, and have both pairs packed. So I am ready for his feet, whether they happen to be on the larger or the smaller side for a newborn. The navy are more matchy, but the alpaca ones look more like my own hospital footwear (see crocheted socks, below). Both pair are variations on this pattern, which I have made many times. I think I'm officially a crazy pregnant lady, churning out superfluous booties here in the latter days, but what else am I to do? A mama can only judge baby-doll luge events for so long.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gifts for a girl baby

The last couple days' projects have been for someone else's new baby, one that is already born. One of Rob's coworkers had a baby girl and I've been crafting for her. I made a little quilt (above, in progress) that is now done and in the washing machine. Like the one I made our little guy, it is just simple strips of fabric and I've machined it to the flannel lining and soft cotton backing. I used fabrics I already had on hand, and I really like the way they came together.

I also crocheted this hat (this pattern), which is a quick project with nice results. I've made a couple in other colors for our baby and can't wait to use them. The yarn for this hat is a nice ashy rose color--the picture really doesn't do it justice. It's a soft washable wool/acrylic blend and very stretchy, should be great for a baby. After working on it last night before bed, I had dreams that my own baby surprised us by being a girl!
Now I just hope we have to send these gifts to Friday's shower with someone else, because we'll be in the hospital cuddling our own! Although at my 39.5 week doctor visit today, I scheduled my 40.5 week visit, which was a bit discouraging. She'd induce me beginning next week if I wish, but I can't help thinking the baby should be able to pick his own birthday, even if I wish he'd hurry up. I don't see any reason to go all nuclear on him yet--he should come out in his own time. (But don't get me wrong, I'm impatient!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

One problem solved

Ok, so by the light of day I figured out a better solution to the new purse situation. I made another new bag along basically the same model as yesterday's, but this one has practical features like being big and roomy, having pockets, and a snap closure. This is a zoo trip bag if I ever saw one! Instead of competing with my practical summer messenger, this one will supplement it, quickly packed with water bottles, snacks and other summer outing essentials. Yes, I'm killing time at this point, but it seems harmless enough to turn on-hand fabric (a damaged vintage tablecloth I found at a thrift store, in this case) into bags while I'm treading water, fair enough? And I'll give yesterday's cutie little bag to Shannon next time I see her, since she liked it. ;-)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A useless item made

One more project snuck in at the end of my day. I was awake from 4 to 6 a.m. this morning, too uncomfortable to go back to sleep. During the time I spent awake I decided I really wanted a new spring handbag, but that such an endeavor was really not practical given that I already have made a new messenger bag to carry both my purse items and a few baby things as soon as the little guy makes his appearance. But after we got back from our family walk this evening and I was still feeling all energized from the warm weather, I decided to go ahead and make one anyway. Maybe now that I've done something silly like this I'll go ahead and go into labor! Or maybe I'll get to carry this cute new bag for a week or two, then transition over to my messenger bag at the point I start needing to tote diapers. Either way, I'm happy with the way it turned out. It's from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing, and I felt like the pattern was good except my bag appears a bit smaller than the one in the book's photograph, although I followed the pattern and directions as listed. Now that I have this cute and impractical item on hand, I think I'll go ahead and call my hair stylist tomorrow and try to move up my next hair cut and color to this week if possible. I'd made the very practical decision to schedule this one a few weeks after my due date, but for pete's sake, I'm showing my gray and I need a hair cut, and I'm about to be in a bunch of family photographs holding my new baby--I think I need the hair boost now!

Thrift store rehabs

The warmer weather and impending Major Life Change have given me a little spring fever, so Dorothy and I have been hitting the thrift store circuit these last few days. I've gotten a few cute new shirts that I hope to be able to wear post-partum--nice roomy, soft ones that should be easy to nurse in and were cheap enough that I (in theory) won't care about all the spit-up. These two I made into projects today, and altered them a bit to personalize them. The pattern on the front of the blue is Dover clip art from their free samples mail list, which I've printed on printable fabric, fused, and sewn on. The brown I just free-formed some simple flowers out of pretty fabric scraps and added homemade bias tape to the arms. I'm not sure if I like the tape on the arms or not--it makes them a little stiff, like wings or something. I think I'll launder it and then see how they look, and I may snip off the sleeve embellishment.
My due date is one week from today...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dishwand "refills"

AKA: Not signing over the family budget to 3M.

Rob and I, sadly, have never owned a dishwasher in our 7 years of marriage. We both had dishwashers before we were married, but for some reason have only owned homes together that will not accommodate this particular boon of American middle-class existence. Although there are many other things that fall into this category we do not hanker after (appliance garages, are you serious?), we do aspire to one day own a home with a dishwasher. We can dream, right? In the meantime, we have had plenty of meals at home to perfect our low-tech family dish washing system. We prefer these soap-filled dish wands that ooze out just the right amount of soap while we're washing. For several years, we replaced the sponge tips at regular intervals. They are actually pretty expensive--more than a dollar per sponge--and can't be reused because the sponge separates from the plastic if you try to launder it. (Or overuse it.) But about a year ago I figured out a way to stop paying The Man for sponges every week--I just make our own. I crochet these little sponge covers out of washable acrylic yarn, and we tuck little washable, reusable sponges inside (the kind you can buy in multi packs for $1, cut in half, and still wash and re-use!). The whole thing fits nicely over the plastic framework from the original sponge refill (so if you're going to try this at home, don't throw that part away--just peel off the old sponge and leave the plastic framework in place).

We've been using these now for about a year, and today I decided some of our little crocheted sponge covers needed to be purged and replaced, which seems reasonable for the use they've gotten. They've been used and washed many times. The new ones only take a few minutes to make, too, and only a tiny amount of scrap acrylic yarn. If you crochet, this is how to make them: Using an H hook and worsted weight yarn, chain 5. Turn and single crochet a row of 4 stitches, repeat. (For two rows of 4.) Next row make an increase on each end, for a row of 6 single crochet stitches. Make 5 more rows of 6 stitches (for a total of 6). Single crochet evenly around the whole periphery, then repeat for 3 more rows. The sponge should look a little like a bootie. Slip stitch or use a yarn-threaded needle to sew together the top (narrow) half of the sponge, then slip a little cut-up sponge inside and tug the whole thing over the end of the dish wand.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Retro shrinky fun!

Daughter and I are suffering from some cabin fever lately. I actually don't mind having to stay inside on these obnoxiously cold and snowy days, being oh-so-pregnant, but Dorothy is really done with the cozy indoors. So yesterday we spent almost all day out running errands (in our newly fixed car--hooray!) and we came home with some new projects to try. I bought shrinky plastic from a crafts store and we went to town with permanent markers and the toaster oven, and now each have a collection of new shrinky plastic jewelry. So 1980s! I'm not sure I ever felt like there was a lack of shrinky plastic jewelry in my life, but we've certainly had a great time making it, and the materials were cheap. I'm not sure which part Dorothy likes best--watching the shrinking in the toaster oven, or using mom's (usually forbidden) permament markers. I made the earrings above using a circle paper punch on the unbaked film. The little holes for wire are made using a regular paper hole punch. The pair below seems almost unbearably retro to me, but I realized last week I didn't have any heart-shaped earrings to wear on Valentine's Day (because why would I, really?), so now I do. Dorothy's charms we strung on colored embroidery floss for her to wear as necklaces, but she is not inclined to pose in them for pictures right now. They are cute, though, and it's been quite fun to have something new to do inside.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

A very nice Valentine's Day (thus far) for us, and I hope everyone else is having the same! Dorothy is modeling her new Valentine's dress here, but today she actually wore it over a pair of pants and shirt so that she could also wear her new sparkly Valentine socks. I did not make the socks, but the little dress is out of the same pattern and former bedsheet as her cousin's (below) with a clip-art transfer image ironed on the front. It's cute on her, even over a full other outfit!
Dorothy and I went to church and then out for Indian food with my parents this morning and gave Rob some quite time at home to catch up on work. While we were walking through the mall with my folks, Dorothy saw the LUSH store at Macy's and announced, "Mom! That's where Daddy and I bought your Valentine surprise!" She's not really so good at keeping surprises, that little one of mine. :) So hopefully I'll enjoy a nicely-scented bath tonight after we polish off our mama-made heart-shaped pizzas and pink cupcakes, decorated by Dorothy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Socks and a snow queen

I've been sewing more than crocheting lately because I feel like if I have to stop in the middle of a project and have a baby, it will probably be easier to subsequently finish a sewing project than a crochet one. But I was still hanging onto a couple crochet projects I hadn't completed yet, and this pair of socks is one of them. They are superwash merino, soft, and so warm and comfy! I'm going to launder them tomorrow and pack them in my hospital bag. I'd never crocheted grown-up socks before, but I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. I suspect they won't be my last pair. I used the Ultimate Crocheted Socks pattern, and although I had to make adjustments suggested by other pattern users (use a smaller hook, start the gusset an inch early, mind the gusset-related errata), the final socks fit quite nicely. Wearing them around the house in a few weeks while snuggling my new baby will feel like quite a luxury!

In other news, this is how Dorothy insisted on dressing for a quick trip to Value Market today to purchase lentils. As if her snow queen getup itself weren't enough, her attitude when people (naturally) turned to stare or made comments was quite a riot. (Why did that girl make that noise? Why is that woman looking at me?)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A big sister goodie bag

Today I crossed the last major item off my pre-baby to-do list. Now I'm really, really, really, really ready! I wanted to put together a gift to give Dorothy when she comes to meet her little brother in the hospital, so I finally completed and wrapped the big sister goodie bag. I was having trouble finishing the last items because she's always around, and I wanted this to be a surprise. Today my wonderful neighbor took Dorothy to play in the snow, and I got to stay inside the warm and sew with ample privacy. I've put together a little collection of items she can use to care for her doll while I care for the new baby (idea stolen and modified a bit from what my own mom did 30 years ago when I became a big sis!). I'd already purchased a doll car seat and made some new doll clothes and diapers, and today I finished a little doll ring-sling and a diaper/messenger bag that matches (in miniature) the one I've made myself. I think she'll enjoy it, and hopefully it will give her something to do during a hospital visit that will likely be rather awkward in spite of everyone's best intentions.

For Messes of the Future

I'm starting to feel like I want the house to be clean all the time, so I won't be walking away from a huge mess when I go into labor. The problem is, all projects are somewhat messy, so it's hard to actually pass the time and keep a clean house. Yesterday's project doesn't seem like it should have been messy--a half dozen bibs for future real messes in the kitchen--but in reality I dragged up a bunch of fabric scraps from downstairs and now they are all over the living room. Too bad it is difficult to bend over, or I'd just pick them up instead of whining about it! Anyway, here are some of the bibs I made yesterday. They are all just simple, two-layer bibs with a snap, made out of scraps from other projects, and on one I made a simple dinosaur patch. Sometimes it doesn't pay to sew items over buying them discounted, but I love being able to get whole projects like this from scraps (plus a few snaps)--it's like creating free stuff out of nothing!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Plaid like Dad

Rob recently decided to finally retire an old pair of frayed, holey, well-loved pajama pants and I gave them a second life as an outfit for the new baby. The soft, worn fabric made a great pair of baby pants for next fall, and I used double-sided fusible interfacing to attach a coordinating pig to a onesie, then zig-zagged around it. I can't wait until this baby is actually here to dress in these new little things!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Two projects and an irritating typo

I think it's hard to craft for men. Not sure exactly what the problem is, but I often find it difficult to come up with nice handmade gift ideas for the younger and older men in my life. Maybe as the new baby grows my idea store will grow with him. In the meantime, I did think of a nice gift for my father-in-law's birthday, and this one was handmade by Dorothy. I took her to a paint-your-own pottery place, and she spent a painstaking hour meticulously covering every millimeter of a cereal bowl in her selected paints. Unfortunately, this kind of crafting doesn't come with the cost savings or the sky's-the-limit creativity of projects made at home, but it's still very heartfelt and I think he'll love it. The store fired it for us and we got it back and wrapped it this week. Here is Dorothy (in homemade cupcake pajamas!) displaying her beautiful work before we wrapped it.
With about three weeks to go in this pregnancy, I've also been thinking about clothes for myself after this little guy comes out. A couple weeks ago I made myself a new spring skirt out of a fun cotton bird print I'd been eyeing. I think the cut of the skirt (Simplicity 2758) will be easy to wear as my waist shrinks, and it has cute pockets that don't show up in the picture, but should be very handy when toting around a new baby and his associated stuff. (I think the lack of pockets is often the fatal flaw of skirts.) Today I made a matching cotton/spandex top (Simplicity 4076) that I hope will also be figure-forgiving and easy to wear during the post-partum season. The neck looks big to me, but I think the fabric just stretched some during sewing, and hopefully a trip through the laundry will pull it back in a bit. I'm looking forward to having something besides slouchy sweats to wear to pediatrician visits and such, because I always feel like you get treated better if you dress like a grown-up at those sort of things.

I wrote a ranty letter to the Courier-Journal today about the chemical spill in my neighborhood (see below) and the fact that my Metro Council is spending time doing things like contemplating banning trans fats instead of shutting down the stupid factory until they can get the leak fully stopped and contained. Makes me so mad! But of course after hitting "send" I realized I'd misplaced an apostrophe in my letter. There's nothing like getting up on your soapbox and sending off an angry letter...and then realizing you made an elementary mistake in writing it. Sigh...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Brother/Sister Outfits

We've had a little more than our fair share of drama in the last few days. We finally got the snow that had been threatened last week, and on Saturday morning while Rob and Dorothy were out playing in it, they witnessed some crazy driver careen down the icy street, smash into my car, pause, then move on. Rob was not able to catch the license plate number. Ugh. So now the only one of our cars that will hold a rear-facing car seat is in the shop, and I'm waiting to hear back how long it will take to fix the damage. (But am so glad my Mom has loaned me hers in the meantime! And that we have insurance.)

Then on Monday afternoon, after struggling to find the source of the strong, strange odor in the house all day, a man in fire-fighter gear knocked on my door and suggested we open doors and windows "and might want to leave for a little while" due to a chemical spill at a nearby factory. He assured me it wasn't explosive. Um...great. So Dorothy and I headed to my parents' for the rest of the day (thankful once again for them!), and also ended up spending the night and next day there as well, because the smell lingered. My already-packed hospital bag came in quite handy as we were trying to leave the stinky house in a hurry. Phone calls to the local government hotline and fire station were not helpful--apparently it is "unclear" which chemicals spilled, or what noxious concoction they made once mixed. My doctor feels like as long as the odor didn't give me breathing trouble, the baby is fine (not going go grow an extra head at this point, with just a few weeks to go), but of course I worry about my three-year-old's lungs! I wish we hadn't stayed to breathe it all day, but I was blaming the whole thing on my super-pregnant nose.

But today we're back and I got back to my sewing machine. I'd left this dress project half-finished in Monday's evacuation. I want to get photographs of the kids taken together a week or two after the new guy is born, and I'd been thinking of how to dress them. I decided to make Dorothy a blue dress (above) trimmed in white, and will dress the baby in a coordinating blue diaper (also homemade) and white t-shirt. Dorothy loves her dress and looks cute in it, and I let her go ahead and wear it now. Hopefully it won't get terribly stained between now and that eventual picture day!