Happy Things

There are some days when I struggle to think of a good, picture-worthy blessing to be thankful for. Lately, that has not been the case.

After writing Wednesday’s blog (on Tuesday afternoon), Dan emailed me with news about another house. On Wednesday evening we went to look at it, already almost certain this would be ours. By Friday we had filled out the paperwork to put in our offer, it was accepted, and suddenly we’re on our way to having a home of our own. As things fall into place, I plan to share more about how God brought everything together for us.

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Also on Wednesday, Lydia started to figure out potty training. It’s a work in progress, but now it really is a work in progress. This is making all three of us so happy. (Abby doesn’t know what all the fuss is about).

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On Sunday, we packed up a picnic and met up with my parents and brother on their way back home from vacation. After lunch, my mom took Lydia over to the playground while Dan and I chatted with my dad about their vacation.

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It was good to see them again, especially after such exciting times with the housing (and potty training).

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And I’m only days away from finishing the front of Abby’s quilt and moving on to the actual quilting step. I thought this day might never come.

Today is a drizzly day outside but here in this home we are overflowing with blessings. I just wanted to share a little of that overflow this afternoon.

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Pretty Quilts and Measuring Spoons

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This Saturday a couple of young ladies from church hosted a bridal shower for our friend, Rachel. Rachel and Peter are a sweet couple from our church who have known each other for years and will be getting married this August. It has been such a joy and a privilege to watch them grow from friends, begin a courtship, become engaged, and now anticipate their wedding. We are so excited for them!

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Dan totally saw it coming all along.

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After some snacks, a group of girls from church sang, “May the Mind of Christ My Savior.” They did a great job singing a beautiful hymn.

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Our Pastor’s wife, Rachel’s future mother-in-law, gave a little talk. A big part of the talk was expressing our church’s excitement for the couple and telling Rachel how much we love her.

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Then it was time for presents!

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There were lots of kitchen items. Here, Rachel was telling everyone that she had just opened some measuring spoons.

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Rachel is very sweet and thanked everyone for their gifts. This is her “thank you face”.

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Her grandma framed a picture of a mountain in Alaska. Peter and Rachel plan on traveling through Alaska for their honey moon, and may even go hiking on the mountain pictured.

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One of the last gifts Rachel opened was a very special quilt made by a family friend.

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And, believe it or not, the next gift was another quilt made by another one of Rachel’s good friends.

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Congratulations Rachel! We are looking forward to your wedding in less than two months!

Quilting Away

It’s been well over a year since a vision formed in my mind of a quilt for Abigail. It looks like that vision is ever so slowly becoming a reality, and I thought I would give a little update on how her quilt is coming along. Things go slowly when you’re working around two little ones, but progress is progress.

Here’s the original picture that I sat down and put together on the computer one night shortly before Abby was born. Next to it is the revised color scheme I decided on to make it more girly.

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Literally the weekend before Abby was born we went out and bought the first fabric and I got busy embroidering away…for the next six months!

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When that was finally finished, Dan and I put our mathy degrees to good use. We sat down together one night and tried to calculate the smallest amount of fabric I would need for the inner border and binding if I was to cut the fabric on a diagonal instead of straight across. The good part is, after all that calculating, we ended up just buying the amount I needed to cut it straight across. It just wasn’t worth the risk for the few pennies or dollars that would have been saved. The better part is, we accidentally did all of our calculating based on the shorter end of the quilt (my fault) and I had to cut it all on the diagonal anyway to get it long enough for the longer sides of the quilt. So I guess our mistake saved us a few pennies after all.

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Next it was time for me to tidy up my edges. I was afraid to cut into the fabric from my embroidery work. What if I made a mistake? That was six months of work I was cutting into!

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But I put on my most courageous face and cut away.

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Lydia had fun playing with the scraps.

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Then I laid out my freshly cut fabric to get a glimpse of the quilt-to-be.

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Sewing the inner border on was almost just as scary, but once I finished I breathed a sigh of relief and laid it out again to see what the corners would looks like someday.

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Then, for the hardest part of the quilt so far…I cut out the hills and sky. I laid it all out once more to see how the colors looked and if everything was cut well enough. Looks like it might work!

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But, that’s as far as I got. I still don’t know if those curves are going to work out, because shortly after that last picture was taken we had to pack up and move. Half of the quilting supplies made it to our new place but half got put away in storage.

I’m keeping busy around here, learning piano and cross-stitching a birthday card for Lydia, but as day after day passes I get a little gloomy thinking about this on-hold project. I had hoped to have it done by Abby’s first birthday but now that’s only three months away I’m re-hoping for an eighteen-month gift.

This week we put in an offer on a house. If it’s accepted I may just wait it out to get back to my quilting. If someone else gets this house, I’ll probably ask Dan if we can dig through our storage to get my supplies. For now, I’ll just post this update so I can look back on it and be encouraged that this little vision has come so far. For someone who has never quilted before (except for a rag quilt for my nephew), I think it’s turning out pretty nicely.

Abby and her Quilt Updates

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Weight: 2 pounds, 7 ounces

Today we said goodbye to my parents who have been helping us out since Saturday. Their visit allowed us to formulate a rough idea of what the coming weeks will look like, rest and recover as they chased around Lydia, and spend time alone with Abigail. They also helped out with cooking, cleaning and laundry. I don’t know what we would have done without them!

Abigail is continuing to do well. Within the past couple of days, she has begun to digest her milk! She is breathing very well on a high flow nasal canula, although she doesn’t like it and often gets caught trying to pull it out, and her feeding tube as well. Until today, Abby was kept in an isolette with humidity, to protect her skin. Today, our nurse informed us that her skin looks great (and has since birth) and they turned off the humidity. The only slightly unhappy news is that Abby was back on the bilirubin light, although we were warned that she would be. Her levels have climbed over the past day and she still has bruises from the labor and delivery. Both the bilirubin and bruises will go away as her liver continues to do its job.

Dan and I are pretty worn out from all the running around. My parents helped us make a massive grocery trip, stocking up on nonperishables for the next month so we won’t have to go out again. Today was also nonstop as Dan and I signed our lease for the apartment we are scheduled to move into this Friday. However, I have been able to hold Abby on three different days and Dan has gotten to hold her once. Those times are very special, although a little scary as she is so tiny and is connected to so many wires.

Praise the Lord
We are thanking God for:
-My parents visit and all of their help
-A plan that is starting to come together
-Special times alone with Abigail
-Abby’s improved digestion and that she’s off humidity

Please Pray:
-that Abby will gain weight
-that her bilirubin levels would drop as her liver improves
-for continued healing for me as we are often on the go
-that Abby’s ultrasound tomorrow would show no bleeding in her brain

The rest of this post is actually a post I wrote the day before Abby was born, intending to post on September 11, which turned out to be her birth day. Rather than take the time to change it, I am posting it as written, even though Abby is obviously here now. (Time is a scarce resource around here these days)

Thanks to all who gave feedback on my quilt color dilemma a couple of weeks ago! I so appreciated all of your creative and girly ideas. Now it would only be fair for me to share my revisions and update you all on the quilt’s status. As a refresher, this was my initial design:

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But it was too green and not very girly. I had played around with the colors but was just stuck. My Mom and sister, Christina, sent me these color revision ideas:

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And many others made suggestions as well: make the sheep pink, lighten up the colors, use patterned fabric for the hills…I liked a lot of the ideas, but couldn’t incorporate them all. Here are some of the ideas that I had to give up on:

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1. I actually had this idea from the start, to put Baby’s name right there on the quilt. However, I also thought that maybe Baby would want to use this for her own kids someday (one could only hope), and so I decided to leave her name off of it just in case.

2. I think the quilt could have looked really cool with some patterned fabrics. However, I am new to this whole quilting thing and not extremely artsy myself. Just walking through the aisles of fabrics at the store was overwhelming. On top of that, I think it would have taken me ages to find fabrics that all went well together and I had an impatient toddler and eager-to-leave husband wandering around the store while I made my decisions. In the end, it took long enough just to find solid fabrics that went well together!

3. I think this picture with the bow on the lamb’s ear is very cute, and meets that girly need. But, what I don’t have shown in the picture, is that the sheep and sun are going to have “rag quilt” seams. I’m already nervous about sewing some curves and a friend a church suggested using the frilly external seam to make these curves less bothersome. So, the sheep and sun will have different textures and 3-D-ness already, and I didn’t think I could fit a bow in on top of that without things getting too busy.

4. I love the way this ruffle edge looks on the quilt, and I may still end up using it. However, with all of the embroidery, hand-quilting and stitching, and curves to navigate, I think this project is going to take me ages as is. So, while I may change my mind, for now I’m going to stick to the traditional binding.

So what am I going to do?

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1. First I took the collective advice to lighten up the greens. I’m actually not a fan of pastel colors, and was hoping to keep the blanket bright. However, I realized it didn’t take much adjusting to make the greens look more girly and to make them more compatible with other girly colors.

2. The second thing I did, that made a huge difference, was take out the orange and lighten up the sun. The orange was clashing with almost everything I had tried.

3. Next, I lightened up the black on the sheep to a grey. I had never thought to do this and it also made a big difference. I decided to play around with the colors on the border a little more as well.

4. Once I picked out new colors for the quilt borders, I added in some embroidered flowers using the same colors. This brought the pinks from the border into the quilt and seemed to tie things together.

So, here is:

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On the left you see the original design. On the right is the new and improved color-scheme. (The flowers on the real quilt will not look like a four year old drew them) The writing around the border will match the darker pink, and the writing on the hill will remain a dark green.

After I came up with a design that Dan and I both liked, we took a trip to Jo Ann’s and bought some of the first supplies. However, I realized, in the process, that it’s not always so simple to match fabric colors that are available in the store with a picture on a computer! So, I did my best, wrote down the fabrics I liked, but only bought the light pink and embroidery materials. I know embroidering that passage is going to take a very long time, so I’m going to wait before buying everything else. Only time will tell how the quilt will turn out in the end, but I’ll keep you updated as I make progress.

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AND to go along with an update on the quilt, I thought I might give a Baby update as well. I am now just past 28 weeks!  Reaching 28 weeks is a big deal because 90-95% of babies born after 28 weeks survive. However, a recent prenatal appointment gave us a heads up that Baby just might want to come early after all. So we’re taking extra precautions, making preparations for Baby to come early, and I’m handing over my “standing” responsibilities to Dan and Lydia while I keep off my feet as much as possible. It makes things a bit more chaotic than they were before, but we’re adjusting ok. Dan’s already taking over so much (laundry, dishes, cooking, Lydia’s baths, cleaning…) so I was mentally preparing myself for a slightly messier house, toys always all over the living room, and an unmade bed each day. It was to my own pleasant surprise Monday morning when I walked into our bedroom after Dan left for work and the bed was made. It’s the little things.

Surely Goodness and Mercy

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In the first few weeks after we found out we are expecting Baby Two, I had to wrestle through the fears of having another preemie. There’s nothing like having a baby born early to make you realize how little control you have over when a baby arrives. The biggest fear, then, is that Baby will come too soon, too soon to survive, that is.

I spent quite a few nights laying awake and praying for Baby, that she would make it to term, and that I would not be anxious all pregnancy long. After a while, Psalm 23 would start to come to mind every time I prayed for Baby, specifically the part in verse six that says “surely goodness and mercy will follow me”. I began to feel like God was confirming that “surely goodness and mercy” were going to follow Baby.

This wasn’t a guarantee. I had no assurance that Baby would even stay put long enough to reach an age when she could survive if I suddenly went into labor. However, I began to trust that she was safe in God’s hands. Maybe she would make it to term. Maybe God would take her home. Either way, God’s goodness and mercy would surely follow her.

Then one night I woke up with some pain. I immediately thought I was having contractions, Baby was coming, and it was too soon. There was nothing I could do but drink water and lie down and pray. As I did that, different verses from the same chapter sprung to mind: “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”. The valley of the shadow of death: that place where the fear of death lingers uncomfortably and inescapably close. We made it through the valley that night, and I finally fell asleep with some peace; God’s rod and staff were comforting me.

As the pregnancy continued, and I would often pray for Baby, a picture started to fill my mind: a happy scene with rolling green hills, a sunny sky, and a safe and happy little lamb. In my mind, the picture took more and more form until I realized it would be a beautiful quilt, and I began to pray for the chance to make this quilt for Baby.

I’m not a very experienced quilter. I have made one quilt for my nephew, and it was a rag quilt, pretty simple. The only other projects I’ve ever even sewn were an apron for Lydia’s birthday (using an online tutorial), a dress for Lydia that sort of turned out, and a cover for her diaper changing pad (which needs some repairs). But soon I had my sights set on this quilt for Baby, if only God would provide money for the materials.

Well, thanks to some kind gifts from my husband, my Mom, and another family member, along with some of my own savings, I now have enough money to make Baby’s quilt! So here is the grand introduction and also a request for some input from my readers. This picture is the computer generated version of what the quilt will look like:

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I’d like to keep the design unchanged, but I’m having a little trouble working out the colors. We’re having a baby girl (according to our ultrasound), but Dan and I think this quilt looks a little too boy-ish and certainly is dominated by greens. I’ve tried changing the color of the writing around the border and the background, but nothing seems to fit well with the rest of the picture. I’ve also considered using a patterned fabric for the dark green border and binding, but haven’t found a fabric that would match the inside picture and bring in more girly colors. Thoughts? Suggestions? Specific fabric recommendations? I appreciate any comments, and I look forward to keeping you updated on the quilt’s status and the months go on.