Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This Quilt

This Quilt

quilt 1

...Is not a very good quilt.  When I was inspired to start quilting again, I had to do it RIGHT NOW.  I couldn't even wait three days for a fabric order to ship, so I ran over to the local JoAnn's and bought as many pink fabrics as I could.  As a result, I threw together a lot of pink fabrics with a miss-mash of different design colors.  It is also the first quilt I made in fifteen years, and it really shows in my messy stitching.

This Quilt

quilt 2

...Is about the rejuvenation of my crafting mojo.  I'm a life long crafter.  My mom started teaching me as soon as I showed interest.  I remember stitching scraps of fabric into little wads of knots when I was no more than five years old. She taught me how to sew, quilt, and stitch.

I've always loved the technical aspects of quilting.  I love the design, the piecing, the basting, and especially the quilting.  However, I learned to quilt in the traditional style and with the fabrics of the '80s.  I just never clicked with the fabric designs.  Everything looked muddy and undefined.  Even the crisp whites used for backgrounds were replaced with taupe batiks.  I ended up doing mostly Amish and Hawaiian style work because they traditionally only use solid colors, and even that I abandoned after Michael was born.

Then, Last summer I met Liz.   In addition to being completely charmed by her three adorable children, I was charmed by the quilt that they sat on in her yard.  It was crisp and vibrant and nothing like the quilts I had learned to make.  With continued nudges from Liz's Quilting Blog It was only a matter of time before I was hooked. Thank you Liz.

This Quilt
quilt 3

...Is the Snuggle Quilt.  One afternoon, while I was cutting the fabrics for the quilt, Michael asked me what I was doing.  When I explained that I was making a quilt he immediately claimed it for his own.  He didn't even wait for me to finish the quilt before he started using it.  One chilly morning while I was working on the quilting, he squeezed up next to me and pulled an unfinished corner over his lap.  It has been the Snuggle Quilt ever since.  Whenever he wants to cuddle, he'll grab the quilt and ask Andy or I for a snuggle.

This Quilt
quilt 4

...Is a catalyst.

As I mentioned, my mom taught me to quilt.  She has been an avid quilter for many years, and it is her craft of choice.  She'll take breaks to knit or cross stitch, but in the end, she always returns to quilting.  She's such a serious quilter that in addition to having a dedicated sewing room, she also keeps a card table set up in her living room for extra space.  She may be using it to baste a quilt, or to pick out fabrics, but it's always in use.

That all ended when my mom started her cancer treatments.  She was so tired and sick during chemo and radiation that even small knitting projects were too much for her.  The table remained clear for many months.

My mom completed her treatments last fall, and I was hoping to see her return to herself again.  I discovered a small sign of hope one winter day when she babysat Michael for me.  When I picked him up, my mom had set up a jigsaw puzzle on the table, and the three of use completed it that afternoon.

That puzzle sat on the table for several months.  It became clear that my mom was not doing well.  All of her tests were clear.  Her heart was undamaged by the chemo.  The X-rays and bone scans were perfect.  Physically, everything was fine, but emotionally, the fear and illness had taken their toll.  She could not get past the trauma. She suffered so much to try and beat such a frightening disease.  She even spoke with a professional about it, hoping that he could give her medication to help her feel better.  He told her that it was just something that she had to go through, there are no magic pills to erase such a dramatic experience.

It was right around this time that I caught the quilting bug again.  However, it had been years since I quilted, and I had a few questions.  Who better to ask than the person who taught me to quilt?  Not only was it fun for her to answer my questions, I think it made her feel good to know that she had valuable skills to share.  She really seemed to enjoy those calls.

She also seemed to really benefit from her last visit with her oncologist around the same time.  She brought up how frightened she was, and how it wasn't going away even with the end of her treatments.  He sat with her for a long while and discussed his experience of suffering from heart failure and eventually ending up needing a heart transplant.  He explained how hard it was for him, a doctor, to be end up helpless in the ICU.  He validated the lingering trauma of going through such a difficult medical crisis.

This validation lifted her spirits a bit.  She was doing so much better that when I finished piecing the quilt I asked her to come with me and help me pick out the fabric for the back of the quilt.  We ended up having a wonderful time at JoAnn's as she helped me find a brown fabric with pink dots to go with the miss-mash of colors on the quilt front.  She showed me some tools that I could use to make quilting easier for me, and she even started browsing the fabrics a little.

The next time I walked into her living room, there was a quilt sitting on her card table waiting to be marked for stitching.  Not long after that she actually found the energy to purge her fabric stash and pull out all her unfinished projects.  To date, she has completed three quilts that had been abandoned when she received her diagnosis.

At long last, she seems to have found her passion for quilting - and life - again.

This Quilt

quilt 5

...Is more than just a quilt.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

No Big Deal...Except for the Pictures

The weekend before last, Laura stopped by for a little while.  It was no big deal.  Which is kind of a big deal.

See, once upon a time, meeting people on the internet was creepy and only something weirdos did.  (I realize I'm showing my age here.  I grew up in the pre-Internet days.) But somewhere along the line, instead of being weird and rare, meeting people over the internet became more common.  And as a result, a bunch of crazy women who met on the old Baby Center May 2006 boards actually decided to meet up.  And it was awesome. We discovered that the friendships we had developed on-line were real friendships.  Friendships worth building and expanding.

So, we got together again.  And again.  And again.  And BOOM, it was normal.

When Laura showed up at my house for the first time, it didn't feel like having a formal guest at my house.  It was just like a friend dropping in for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.  And it wasn't just normal feeling to me, it was normal to Michael.  He was excited to see her, and giggled away when she followed him into my living room and jokingly sat on him. In fact, he was so comfortable with it that he didn't hesitate to try and talk over her and try to dominate my attention.  Which is so annoying, but something he only does around people that he's down with.  I think.

One of the awesome things about it being no big deal is that it allowed Laura to snap some great pictures before she had to leave.  I've seen her at work before, and she really knows how to engage children and get them to give her their all.  In just a few short minutes, she was able to capture this picture, which I LOVE!

She managed to catch both of us smiling!  I thought that was impossible.

And oh my,  I want to eat him alive in this picture.

 But the great thing about Laura's photos is that she also knows how to capture her subject's character.  She not only caught the sweet pictures.  She caught this one.

Which is just so Michael.  He's a very animated little boy, and I loved that she caught him being, well...himself.

Which brings me to the picture that cracks me up.


Michael tries to pull the pouting thing all the time, I guess in hopes that I'll give in.  Unfortunately, he's not very good at it and in the end both of us end up laughing.  This face is the transition face, the face that tells me that I've got him.  And that he knows he's got me as well.

So thank you Laura for stopping by for the afternoon.  And thank you for capturing these great pictures of my little imp.  And know that you have an open invitation to stop buy.  I'll gladly treat you to a cheese steak anytime.  And that goes for the rest of my internet friends too.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Insanity! Michael's In.

Andy and I have kind of been in an exercise slump.  We are still working out, just not as much as we used to.  And...maybe not as hard as we used to.  We've also started picking up some bad eating habits again.  To be honest, it was a nice break for me at first.  I've spent the last several years tracking every minute and mile that I've run, biked, or rowed and I was clearly burned out on all the tracking.  But I've discovered that if I don't have a race or a goal to work for, that I start to let things slide a little.  At this point, both of us have let ourselves slide enough that we either need to find some new motivation or buy new clothes.  Considering we just invested in a new heating/Air conditioning system, we are newly motivated to go with the cheapest solution.

After doing some research, Andy suggested that we give Insanity a try.   They are the same company that produces P90X, which I know about from a bunch of the military guys at work.  To give you an idea of the intensity of P90X, even many Marines find it too hard.  Clearly, that's not the program for me.  So I checked out Insanity, and while it looks hard, it has the two features I need right now.  First, everything is incorporated into a cardio workout.  I love cardio.  I hate resistance training.  Second, Insanity is all about the core, and trust me, I need to work on my core.  Badly.  I'm not talking about working on my six-pack here folks.  I'm talking about trying not to look five months pregnant.

We ordered the package last week, and it arrived yesterday.  Before diving into things, we decided to watch the first workout and see what it's like.  It's pretty much insane.  Andy and I groaned just watching some of the stuff.

However, Michael was watching with us, and his response was insanely enthusiastic.  He watched the entire 25 minute workout and then insisted that we play the DVD again.  Sure, why not.

This was the next thing we saw.

Michael really got into the warm-up. I was sure, however, that once they got into the hard stuff, he would sit it out.
Nope. He kept going.

And going.

Guys, you have no idea how funny watching this was.  Six year olds are not necessary the most coordinated people in the world, and as I discovered later, this program takes a lot of coordination.  Michael was huffing and puffing, laughing, and falling dramatically on the floor during the rest periods.  He teetered and tottered at times, and we had to rearrange things around him for safety.   He even kept running to me asking me to feel how fast his heart was beating.  But you know what?  He did the entire workout.

I've never seen anything like it.  Michael has always had energy, and he has always enjoyed exercise, but his exuberance for this was a total surprise, not to mention his perseverance.  When he finished up he was grinning from ear to ear.  (And I can assure you that when I finished the same workout two hours later, I was NOT grinning from ear to ear. Oh no, I was not.)

Despite the fact that he did the work out right before bedtime, Michael went to sleep without any trouble.  I didn't think anything about his workout again until this morning.  As soon as Michael was done his breakfast he insisted that I turn the DVD on for him again.

This was the last thing I saw before leaving for work this morning.

I just had to laugh.