Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bitty + Squash

There's nothing quite like a new project.  Choosing colors and fabrics and patchwork designs can be so perfectly delightful when inspiration flows.

 Bright and funky

I started this small project with the intention of going bright.  I'm making a set of placemats for some friends who like fabrics by Allison Glass.  I don't have many of her fabrics at home, but I certainly admire her bold use of color and clean design.  After settling on a basic placemat layout and some patchwork designs, I felt my way towards bright or saturated colors like jade, emerald, lemon, aqua, sapphire and gold.

Bright and funky

At first I pulled fabrics from my stash, which is organized by color, to create a specific working palette.  But as I started cutting and sewing patchwork, I soon found myself rifling through my scrap drawers for already-small bits and pieces.  Soon I had a table full of this and that... as well as an assembly of playful bitty blocks.

It's dangerous leaving this much fabric out as kitty Susan just lives for the chance steal fabric and redecorate the house with random fabric offerings.  This time the full table seemed to work in my favor though, because she kept moving my scraps and leaving my carefully-arranged bitty blocks just so.  Gotcha, Susan!

 Bright and funky

I'm using two different patchwork concepts for the placemats, so they'll coordinate but differ.  My second concept is less playful, more planned.  First I chose fabrics with plenty of value contrast, so the patchwork would really pop.  Then this morning I made a test block.

Bright and funky

You see, I'm resizing the 12” squash blossom block, which I met originally on Jodi's blog, to a 6” finished size.  It's quite a big change!  I've changed some pieces to flying geese or rectangles in order to eliminate seams.  Avoiding extra seams can really improve the final look of a block when you go small.

 Bright and funky

And, check it out!  Success!  Now when this blossom multiplies I'll be ready to set my patchworks into placemats and see how the concept works out in real life.  Endings... not nearly as fresh as beginnings, but they do have their pleasures.  Wish me luck!

Monday, August 31, 2015

my Pink Latte

Pink Latte quilt top

This quilt top is done!  Since you were privy to the original fabric pull and fabric changes, what do you think about how it turned out?  It has the calm, but pretty feel I was hoping for, though I can't say it's exactly what I imagined - because, in fact, no quilt ever is.  I can't possibly imagine how all the fabrics will come together with a pattern until I make it.  And that's a big part of the fun of patchwork - cutting and stitching your way to a discovery!

On this side of the process, I'm so glad I added solids to the mix.  They made all the difference!  I used Kona White, Oyster (my favorite off-white), Parchment (that's the khaki color) and Sky (a super pale blue).  You can find these and lots of other Konas on sale for 30% off at Marmalade now!  Sadly Marmalade Fabrics is closing its doors.  I'm sure going to miss working with Tammy.  She's liquidating her inventory - all prints are 40% off (prices marked) and now you can get Kona at 30% off with coupon code CLOSING.  I scored lots of Cotton & Steel, plus some Konas to round out my stash.

Pink Latte quilt top

Did you notice what I added at top and bottom?  My herringbone tutorial creates a lot of trimming scraps.  I saved all of those which could be squared up to 2" and made several strings of tiny 1.5" finished squares.  I also used the leftover cut 2.5" wide strips, unused but already cut for herringbone blocks, to make wider 2" finished strings of squares.

Pink Latte quilt top

Each 6" wide herringbone block half matches (3) 2" squares and (4) 1.5" squares.  Nice when things line up so tidily!

Pink Latte quilt top

But my favorite feature?  It's still those converging diamonds.  Pure pretty.

Pink Latte quilt top

And now this quilt top is going to have to take a snooze while I divert my attention to a time sensitive little project.  In the meantime, maybe I shall sort out a nice backing for her.  Voile, velvet...  something smooth!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Eleni, 6 months

Today Eleni is 6 months old.  This morning I was a swirling pot of anger, resentment, despair; but, sitting down and letting some out helped some.  If you don't need to hear that gritty stuff, skip down to the Progress and please read about some special Fundraising News there at the end!

Eleni, 6 months

Eleni, 6 months

This month baby is photographed on Mustang Rose Border available at Jones & Vandermeer!  I've had my eye on this fabric for a long time.  It's as lovely in person as I imagined!

The CPAP machine finally came this week, nearly 3 months since I originally brought Eleni's apnea to the pediatrician's attention.  Maddeningly, we were advised by the respiratory therapists that brought the machine that it would be wise to have another study done before using it very much.  It seems her doctor may have been cutting some corners, and without more testing we won't know if the machine is helping or hurting her.  I am just so angry about the whole situation.  This is breathing we are talking about, people.  Breathing.  It's kind of important.  Now I'm waiting again, unsure whether to use the CPAP or not, unsure when the tests might be scheduled, always unsure.

Eleni, 6 months
using midline

We're also waiting on an occupational therapist (since end of May) and waiting on a nutritionist (just got on that list, since baby is getting older and still can't take any food by mouth), waiting on an official vision diagnosis so that baby can start getting some help there too.  On Tuesday we see a neurologist who will read Eleni's follow-up MRI and tell us what he thinks is likely possible for her.  The following week, on my birthday, she will see the developmental pediatrician so we can hear just how far behind she is.  These are our realities, so there's nothing to do but face them.  I knew that 6 months was going to be hard.  And here it is.

I hate that she is six months old.  I wish we could put time on pause, so that she could heal and then resume life as a more-typical baby.  A baby that smiles or laughs or babbles or can hold her head up.  The kind of baby that you can take to the park or to church.  I really do think she'll eventually be able to do some of those things, but she may not be a baby then.  I do try to enjoy her now just the way she is.  So much easier said than done.

Just this morning I asked Aria to clear the suction machine.  It's a machine we use to suck secretions out of her airway so that she doesn't choke or aspirate them all, given that she can't swallow.  After using the machine, we clear the line with some water to keep things clean.  Liam's done this lots of times, so I assumed Aria had too.  Turns out no.  She used so much water to clear the line that she flooded the filter.  No matter, I have two back up filters.  But... oh, they gave us the wrong kind and these won't work and the machine can't work at all without them and baby sounds like she's trying to breathe underwater and she has a low grade fever and whoops, we're late for our walk with our friends.  Tally ho.  Be sure to enjoy that walk!  Right.

Ok, official end of rant.

the Progress

Let's talk about progress.  What's been good this month?

First off, we tried a new Anat Baniel Method practitioner by the name of Josie Davenport in Florida.  She was great!  Mom and I loved the way she treated Eleni like a little person: talking to her, giving her the benefit of the doubt regarding intentional movement, praising her for what she can do already and even holding her when she was fussy to soothe her.  Eleni and Josie have a sweet connection.

I found myself letting go and relaxing on that trip.  It felt so unusual, so foreign.  Definitely refreshing for all of us.

This month...
  • Eleni's apnea and breathing remain hugely improved.  
  • Picking up her head independently a good 4 inches from the ground during tummy time.  She can't hold it up, but she picks it up and drops it down many times each day.  I know she'll get stronger with all that practice.
  • Picking up her legs often, so much so that I was finally able to get some photos!  Occasionally she holds them up.  We'd love to see a kick.  

  • Closer to independent rolling.  Eleni's learned to twist through her chest better, swing her arms up and bring her head forward to assist with rolling.  She also pushes with her feet and gets a good deal of momentum.  Truly, I don't think she'd be nearly this far without ABM.  The therapy really helps her find her muscles.  It seems like she'll figure rolling out sometime soon...
Eleni, 6 months
she makes a face and winds up before giving her best effort!

  • In fact, she's rolled over a few times this month, all by herself, when in a position with leverage or momentum, such as rolling out of my lap.  We're getting there!
  • Left hand is often held softly, instead of fisted.  Brandon recently got the hang of working on her hands and says that can be "his thing."  Loved to hear that.
Eleni, 6 months
softer left hand

  • Many things that started last month are getting more clear or frequent, such as: sound startle, fussing when suctioned or being lowered into her bath, face responsive to touch.
  • Holding head properly about 25% of the time, when held with lots of trunk support.  Yes, the spinning is translating to every day life!
  • Continuing to be more alert and also to consolidate her sleep into longer naps.  Some 1+ hour naps happening this month.

Fundraising News!

As we've raised money for Eleni's continued progress through Anat Baniel Method (ABM) therapy, I've been thinking about the other little ones out there who do not have the opportunities that my baby has.  We are so fortunate to be known and loved by you all!  I'm so glad to share that I've arranged for Eleni's fundraiser to also help other children as well.  Let me tell you how!

Eleni, 6 months

Do you know what got us really going with ABM?  Eleni was given a small grant for lessons in May/June from Access to ABM, a small non-profit that gives grants to children through practitioners across the country.  Our nearest practitioner in Asheville chose to extend her 2015 grant to Eleni, based on need.  The grant partially covered the cost of lessons so that we could feel responsible committing to three sessions spread out over about 7 weeks.  By the time we had used up the grant, it was completely clear to us (and her current physical therapist) that ABM was helping Eleni far more than regular physical therapy.  Thus, we were motivated to raise funds to keep her going.

I am pleased to announce that an anonymous donor has volunteered to give matching funds to Access to ABM, so that other children will be able to experience the healing and hope we've found in this therapy.  They've agreed to match at 10% of the amount raised for Eleni in our YouCaring Fundraiser, up to $2000.  Our goal amount is $20,000, so if that goal is reached, the donor will give $2000 to Access to ABM!  That amount would fund grants for two children to try ABM therapy in 2016.

Eleni's YouCaring Fundraiser "Breathe, Move, Eat, See" will conclude on September 1st.  All monies raised via the fundraiser still go directly and exclusively to Eleni's therapy expenses.  Monies are collected without any YouCaring fees and delivered regardless of whether our goal amount is reached or not.  We are about $5000 shy of our goal, but I'm not stressing about that.  No way.  I am thankful.  Everyone has already been so generous.  May you be blessed as you have been a blessing!

with Love,

Rachel

Eleni, 6 months

Note:  Access to ABM, founded by Marcy Lindheimer, is a division of Butterfly Educational Arts, Inc. and is tax exempt under Section 501(C)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.  All contributions are fully tax deductible and 100% of all monies go exclusively to ABM lessons for special needs children.  Contributions may be mailed to Marcy Lindheimer at 2109 Broadway Apt 9-93, New York, NY 10023-2148, and made payable to Butterfly Educational Arts, Inc.

Butterfly Educational Arts is a very small operation dedicated to education.  Access to ABM is a project within the nonprofit.  All operating costs are volunteered or paid for by at the founder's expense so that 100% of Access to ABM monies go directly to lessons grants for children.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

bee blocks + gratitude

Before I left on our last therapy trip, I made and mailed my (late!) July bee blocks to miss Ara Jane.  So grateful for something easy!

July Love {do. Good Stitches blocks}

Just half square triangle blocks - some small, some big - whipped up with the popular double-batch method.

July Love {do. Good Stitches blocks}

And I got to use those snails.  Nice!

July Love {do. Good Stitches blocks}

Ara Jane has impeccable color and design taste, so I have no doubt this quilt will be special.  Glad to be able to contribute my part!

And speaking of contributions... I need to let you know how much this helps, how much you help.  A post like "in her blue eyes" brews over time.  In my previous life I used to have many opportunities to verbally process strong emotions with empathetic, wise friends.  Nowadays those moments are hard to come by, and when they do arrive I don't always feel welcome, able or interested in getting to the bottom of hard feelings.  The wonderful thing about this space is that you are here when I'm ready!  You give me the benefit of the doubt.  You make it clear that you care.  It's truly a blessing that I don't take for granted.

In the comments on my last post, several wondered if it helps to hear time and again that I'm a good mom, a good writer, etc.  Well, let me tell you... it's been a hard week.  These past months I feel I'm not enough of a mom to Aria and Liam - not enough patience, not enough attention, and far from enough physical time.   And as for Eleni, it is literally impossible to do enough for her.  I am losing touch with that part, that big part, of my identity.  Often I feel that I'm not a mom anymore, which probably doesn't make sense, but at least communicates how large is the gap between what I used to do and where I feel I am now. 

So, yes, it does fight away some of that darkness to hear you say that I am a good mom, a capable mom.  Thanks for your faith in me.  Thanks for your verbal hugs!  Thanks for being here.

xo,

Rachel

Sunday, August 23, 2015

in her blue eyes

"She's a beautiful baby!"  I don't go out often with Eleni, but when I do I often hear that phrase.  There's never been a point when a person couldn't tell just by looking when she's awake that there is something wrong with my baby.  They look a little longer, pause, wonder and say the only nice thing they can say, "She's a beautiful baby."

It's her eyes that give her away.  

She has beautiful blue eyes.  Miracle eyes.  Eyes I always wished upon a star for my child, more than half knowing it could not be.  I have brown eyes.  Well, brownish-green now that I'm grown up.  We all had dark brown eyes as kids, as does my dad, all my nephews, nieces and my first two children too.  When I married Brandon they showed a slideshow of our growing up and I reveled at his shining blond hair and clear blue eyes.  My grandmother's eyes were blue.  There was a chance, after all.

When Eleni came into the world so tragically, she did not show us her eyes.  We didn't know their color until she opened them a week later.  And there they were, a dark steel blue, like Aria's when she was born.  Like Daddy's.

in her blue eyes

Everyone assumed they would turn, as Aria's did, around 4 or 5 months, but I wondered.  I wondered because she had a sprinkling of blond hairs.  I wondered because it would be just so wrong for God to give me a blue eyed baby... like this.

I had been wishing for the wrong miracle, but now I know.  I know what a mother should wish for.

I have never been one of those women who just wishes for a healthy baby.  Oh, no.  I wanted a GIRL.  And quietly, absurdly, I wanted a girl with blue eyes.  I kept wanting that during months of trying to conceive, as we questioned whether surgery had made conception even possible, even after miscarriages  - still wanting a girl.

After Eleni was born, in those early days and weeks going home every night without our baby, my husband and I would let the words and the tears come after Aria and Liam went to bed.  I would sob, "I don't get to have a baby.  She's not what I wanted."  And then from the depths of my soul, "She's exactly what I wanted... but horribly, horribly injured.  And it's not her fault.  She's still the baby I wanted."

Eleni is six months old.  Her eyes haven't changed one bit.  If anything the centers are just a fraction clearer and paler than before.  I would give back anything, anything to make her whole again.  I would trade blue eyes in an instant.  But that's not the way it works.  There is no bargaining.

in her blue eyes

Today, in her blue eyes, I still see a pang of sorrow.  Hers and mine.  I also see the beauty that others see.  And the injury too, her sightless disorientation.  It's all there.

She's a beautiful baby.  Yes, she is.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Almost Primary Winners!

It's a brand new weekend!  Lots of possibilities to make and to enjoy.  Let's start by congratulating the two winners of our Almost Primary mosaic contest.  These mosaics share many of the same fabrics, something that's never happened before with our winners.  They both have a strong red/yellow/blue element, but with a twist...

Primarily

Primarily by Wobbly Bobbin

{Fabrics}  Line 1:   Velocity Rooftop Jewel, Comma Commas Mustard, Botanics Foliage Fern
Line 2
Odds & Ends Junk Drawer, C & S Basics XOXO Dandelion, Mini Pearl Navy
Line 3: 
Flea Market Fancy Dotted Leaf, Bungalow Stripes Maize, Bungalow Swallow Study



by Luna Lovequilts

{Fabrics}  Line 1:   Chicopee Ziggy MedallionVelocity Rooftop Jewel, Chicopee Voltage Dot 
Line 2:  Bungalow Swallow Study, C & S Basics Netorious Steel, Emma Grace Knotty Rain
Line 3:  Charms Sheep Mustard, Comma Commas Mustard, Architextures Crosshatch Curry

Congratulations to our winners who will receive their bundles in fresh, delicious cotton real soon!  A great big thanks to Lark Cottons for sponsoring our fun.

Thanks to all of you for participating with your mosaics and your votes.  Enjoy your Friday evening!

P.S.  If you love these winning fabrics, you can find bundles to match at Lark Cottons:  by Wobbly Bobbin and by Luna Lovequilts.  Plus, save 10% off storewide with coupon code "aprimary" entered on the shopping cart page now through Monday!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

::Voting:: Almost Primary Mosaics

It's time!  I was so very impressed by all the gorgeous Almost Primary fabric mosaics you've created from among the enticing offerings at Lark Cottons!  By last night's deadline there were such a diverse selection of mosaics for our contest.  I love that you found lots of different ways to interpret the theme.  This morning I've narrowed it down to 10 finalists, choosing mosaics that felt cohesive and inspiring. 

Enjoy perusing these lovely mosaics!  I've presented them first at large size to help you find your very most favorite one, with the name of the artist under each mosaic.  Voting is below with smaller images for reference.  Vote now through noon (eastern U.S. time) on Friday the 21st.   The two winning mosaics with the most votes will be announced on Friday afternoon.

Good Luck Everyone!


Still Summer by I Love Neutrals
Primary Remix by three little pumpkins
by Luna Lovequilts
aqua yellow red
Aqua, Yellow, Red by Vicki C
Primarily
Primarily by WobblyBobbin
summer : in the garden
Summer in the Garden by Annabelle Gardner
Fading Summer
Fading Summer by H Noel Mauri
Primary Industry by Adrianne On the Windy Side
Almost Primary mosaic
by Carmen
Almost Primary
by Summer King




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