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A good reason to start blogging again

11 Feb

I haven’t had the time or interest in posting to the blog in over a year…life has been busy but mundane, so there just hasn’t been a lot of fun things to share or time to post.  However, now Chuck and I have a new reason to post periodically…

As of today, we are 18 weeks and 2 days pregnant with a little boy!  His estimated date of arrival is July 12, 2012.  Yesterday, we had our second sonogram and the first sonogram where the baby actually looked like a little person and not just a grey blip on the screen.

Unfortunately, the baby wasn’t being too cooperative when the technician was trying to get one of those lovely side profile pictures.  We mostly got pictures of his little butt (from the bottom) and a front view of his face.  During the sonogram, we saw closeups of the his bones, his legs, feet, arms, hands, heart, abdomen, all sorts of organs…the technician looked at every little detail and explained it to us (if he didn’t immediately explain what we were looking at, I asked for clarification).  The baby appears to be healthy and normal in every way.

Below are some first looks at little boy dela Cuesta!

And finally, from the bottom looking up, we got a very clear view of little boy’s bits and pieces…

So…there’s that!   We’re having a boy!

I currently have placenta previa (the placenta is situated over my cervix) but this early in pregnancy that’s not uncommon and nothing to be alarmed about…  Because of that, though, we are scheduled for another sonogram in April just to keep an eye on it.  The technician said that he would make a note for the next technician to try to get a profile picture so we have something more human-looking to show off to folks.

We’re not making any big announcements on Twitter or Facebook…we’ve already told our families and many of our friends know.   It’s no longer a secret, but we like the intimacy of keeping something this wonderful somewhat quiet on the internet.  We like having control over who we share information with, so I will send links to my blog posts to our close family and friends so we can continue to share pictures and updates, but you probably won’t see anything on the social networking sites until July, when baby boy arrives and we start posting gratuitous photos of his adorable exploits.

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Graduation!

19 Jun

Fairfax County Schools are graduating this weekend (even though we teachers and poor little underclassmen must trudge on for another four days).   Chuck’s cousin is graduating high school and is off to the Culinary Institute of America, affectionately called the CIA…not to be confused with these guys or these guys:

Over a year ago, I purchased an adorable apron pattern from Sew Liberated, in hopes of making one for my one-day, some-day, in-my-dreams, kitchen of my very own.  Here’s the Emmeline Apron pattern: an adorable, reversible apron that is anything but matronly.

Very cute, indeed!  I like the gathered bodice (which gives the allusion of boobs to those of us who weren’t gifted with them naturally) and it looks more like a summer dress rather than a groddy old apron.

I decided to use the same JoAnn print for both sides, in two color-ways, blue and lavender (our cousin’s favorite color is purple).   I paired it with black for a simple, chic look.  Here’s what I came up with:

Complimentary colors:

Blue Side:

Purple Side:

I like how you can tie the apron in the back, on the side, or in the front.  The ties are extra long so you have some choice in where you wear your bow.   I took some pictures of Chuck’s mom wearing it, but they all turned out blurry, so you’ll have to imagine how adorable it is on.  It’s very flattering.

I think this is an adorable project – it wasn’t very difficult to make and I really like the way it turned out.   🙂   Hopefully, our cousin will whip up some  yummy meals in her dorm or apartment while wearing this cute apron.

Unfortunately, I’m still nursing a wicked cold, so I’m unable to take this gift to the graduate, myself.  I sent it along with Chuck, so I won’t get to see her reaction when she opens it, but she’ll receive it tonight at her graduation celebration dinner.

Congratulations, Amanda!!!  We’re proud of you!

(Totally unrelated:  Gus and Francy’s cousin, Riley, is here with us for the weekend.  He’s keeping me company while I lie in bed, coughing and sneezing…he’s a little cutie-patootie!)

Lydia’s Bunny

17 May

Our friends, Mike and Maya, just celebrated their little girl’s first birthday.  To show Lydia how excited we are that she’s been around for a year, Chuck and I decided she deserved a snuggly bunny, handmade with love.

I had no pattern, but I drew one out on paper and this is what I came up with…

Looks kinda like a chenille pillow with legs and ears, but it’s very soft and snuggly, which is what all stuffed animals should be.

I struggled with the embroidery on the face…  Embroidering on a fuzzy surface proved difficult, so it turned out a little less neat and symmetrical than I had hoped, but again, as long as the stuffed animal is cuddle-worthy, all’s well!

So, happy first birthday, Lydia!!!  We love you! (even though you don’t remember us well because we’ve been rather absent from your life)  :o)

Newest Quilt…

18 Apr

I recently sewed what I think is my favorite baby blanket yet…   I am long-term subbing for an English teacher who has just started her family with a bouncing new baby boy.  I thought the best way to thank her for asking me to sub (and providing me with nearly 4 months of steady income) was to make a baby blanket for her little one.

I scouted out an adorable line of fabric by Riley Blake called “All Stars” (I purchased a 10 yard bundle here).  I am IN LOVE with this fabric.  So is Chuck.  I’ve saved the scraps in hopes that I can use them in a quilt for a little boy of our own some day.

I got my inspiration from a quilt featured on the Moda Bake Shop website.

Their quilt looks like this:

Here’s what I came up with:

(Sorry for the blurry picture…it looked clear on the camera screen)

I used Heat-n-Bond to hold the appliquéd letters in place, then hand-sewed them on with a  a tight whip stitch using matching embroidery floss.  I can’t sew with a thimble on, so I actually ended up creating a deep hole in the tip of my middle finger from all of the hand stitching.  I’m SO GLAD I machine-quilt and don’t hand-quilt.  I love the look of hand quilting, and truly appreciate the hard work real quilters put into their work,  but man-oh-man, I don’t believe I will ever hand-quilt anything in my life.

I really love the All Star prints – my favorite is the small dots with stars, which I used for the backing.  My second favorite is the star print.  I love the colors and the design.  It’s simple and very “boyish”, I think.

Here’s a look at all of the prints together:

I’m so proud of my mitered corners.  I think if it weren’t for easy tutorials online, I might have never mastered this, but thanks to the internet, I got the hang of these early on.  I always love the  finished look of a nicely mitered corner.

And again, a look at the final product.   It’s larger than a crib-sized quilt, but smaller than a twin.  Here Chuck is holding it up, so I’m guessing it’s roughly 6 feet by 3.5 or 4 feet.    I think what makes me like this quilt so much are both the fabrics I used and knowing that I put a lot of work into this one – although it’s a simple design, I spent a little time on it every night for a couple weeks, hand sewing the letters on and then spent two nights perfecting my blind-stitch to finish the binding by hand.  I was super proud of my blind stitch – it was the first time I’d used it and it looked professional!   I was really annoyed that I didn’t put a label on this one – I didn’t want to embroider one (because my fingers were already so sore) and my printer is broken, so I couldn’t even crank out an iron-on label.  I think I’m going to actually order some printed twill tape with my name on it to use as labels in the future.

Ta-Da!!!

Keeping Busy!

18 Apr

I know I’ve fallen off the blog-wagon as of late, but I’ve been busy – making and doing!

Several months ago I made some fleecy Hokie blankets – I guess I can’t say I made them, but I cut the fabric and sewed on satin trim and then added a little embroidered label.  I made identical blankies for two little girls, so I put their nick-names on each so they wouldn’t get mixed up.

A few weeks ago I got a notion to put something on our bare bathroom walls.  I used some scrapbook paper and my handy-dandy X-acto knife and made some really simple papercut “art” to fill those empty spaces.  Turned out alright…  I like paper cutting, but I need practice and better ideas…I have to keep it simple for now, since my skills are pretty limited.

I accidentally cracked the glass when I was putting it back in the frame, but otherwise, they turned out pretty cute…

Babies

15 May

Today was a baby day…

We had AP testing in the library today, so the library was closed for usual business.  This seemed the perfect excuse for me to leave work early and go into DC to meet up with Rachel, one of my dear friends from my UK study abroad program back in 2002.  Her husband, Jimmy, is a police officer in Chesapeake and they were in town for the National Police Week festivities in DC.  They had the blissful luck to start a family last fall and today is the first time I’ve been able to meet their sweet little Emily!  She is absolutely adorable!!!  What a happy little girl.  I had such a lovely afternoon just hanging out with Rachel and her new daughter.  BTW – I love the word “lovely”…it’s so much more apropos than “nice” or “good”…it’s the perfect descriptive word for those things which are just right in every way…today was, without a doubt, perfect in every way.

Then, this evening Chuck and I drove out toward Centreville to enjoy a yummy dinner outside on the porch at Joe’s Crab Shack .  We even got a free dessert (which was SO GOOD)!   Afterward, we went to visit my boss, who gave birth to her second baby this past Tuesday.  I’m still in awe at how teeny-tiny she is!  Little Olivia is absolutely precious!  She is still so new to the world she’s doing that awkward hand waving thing that infants tend to do…you know – they move their arms, hands, and fingers around as if they’re still trying to get the hang of all this mobility…  She was so funny!  What a beautiful girl.  Chuck and I made our visit fairly brief…we dropped off some gifts that had come into the office at work and then I was granted the honor of holding little bitty Olivia for a few minutes before she decided she was quite hungry (that’s because while I held her, she made some productive little toots and squirts and made room for more in her tummy).

And then there’s this baby…

Christmas 2008 (11)

Yesterday, Chuck took family leave from work and took our two babies to the veterinary clinic to have their teeth cleaned.  This means having pre-operative tests done to make sure they’re okay for anesthesia, then they’re put under and their teeth are super-duper cleaned…we’re talking about miracles that are performed here.  Horrendously stinky, brown, plaque-encrusted teeth come home white and sparkling with nary an odor.  Miracles!  (At quite a shocking price, I might add!

Our youngest, Francy (who is 10), had two teeth pulled (because they were apparently already loose), but came home no worse for wear.  She was already acting like herself by the time I got home from work.  She’s taking pain meds and antibiotics for a week, but she seems to be unfazed by her visit to the “dentist”.

While our eldest, Gus (he’s 15, going on 16 this year), was under the general anesthesia, we had the doctor remove several worrisome places to send away for biopsy – two growths on either side of his nose and a fairly large spot on his back.  Poor baby also had four teeth pulled.  He came home in pitiful shape.  He’s now got sutures on either side of his muzzle and a row of stitches on his back, not to mention his sore gums from the dental extractions.  He’s on pain pills twice a day for 7 days and an antibiotic twice a day for 10.  We can take him to get his sutures out in 10-14 days.  He seemed relatively spry and happy and basically acting like normal today.  But yesterday he was just plain pitiful.

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Chuck’s dad was terribly grossed out by the sutures on Gussie’s back.  He kept making faces and asking (with great disgust) why we didn’t cover it up.   It does look a little yucky, but other than the little puckered bits at each end of the incision, it’s a pretty clean cut and the sutures are holding well.  It’s on a part of his back near his tail which he can’t reach to scratch or lick, so that’s a good thing (no silly cone collar for this old man).

When I got home yesterday and saw him I burst into tears.  Not little tears that just well up in your eyes and then disappear.  We’re talking big huge buckets of tears and a fair measure of sobs.  He just looked so vulnerable and fragile.  It broke my heart to see him so pitiful and it seemed so much more evident to me then that he’s 15.  15!  That’s like, way beyond senior citizen for doggies.

Reality hit me when I was looking at his stitched-up, sweet little face. He’s not going to be here forever.

It’s hard to imagine my life without him.  It’s impossible to imagine my and Chuck’s relationship without him.  He’s been with us practically the whole time we’ve been together.  We’d been dating for less than a year when my sister allowed me to have him (he was originally her dog, but when she joined the Army he came to live with me at my dad’s, and when Chuck and I moved in together, she gave us “full custody”).  He’s been in my family since my sister’s then-boyfriend gave him to her as an early Christmas gift – he was a 6-week-old little fluffball and we were all instantly in love.

I can’t imagine coming home after work and Gus not greeting me at the door.  I can’t imagine life without his stinky kisses.  I just can’t imagine going to sleep without him cuddled up beside me, a warm, snuggly little ball of fur, snoring away.  I don’t want to imagine it.  I want to hold on to him forever.  I know eventually we’ll have to let go of him.

But I’m not ready yet.  I will never be ready for that.  Because this little guy right here…he’s our baby.

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This is one reason I’m so sleepy right now…

28 Apr

Ta-Da!

My second baby blanket!!!

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I fell in love with this fabric combination and had to do something with it.  The white fabric on the front with the multi-colored dots is the Mod Dots in Paprika from the Anda Lucia Collection and the complementary back fabric is Mod Blooms in Petal from the same collection.  I bought a yard of each online at Etsy from Fresh-Squeezed Fabrics.  (If you want to read the blog of the owner of Fresh-Squeezed, go here).  I was lucky enough to find complementary orange and pink fabric at Jo-Ann Fabrics last weekend…

I just finished writing a Linguistics Report on the Gullah Sea Island creole language and culture.  In my research, several sources talked about the “long-strip quilts” that the Gullah women used to make.  I don’t know what a long-strip quilt is, but by golly, I was inspired by the idea and this is what I came up with!  The fabric was perfect – because it is basically a large polka dot design, cutting it up into small pieces would have ruined the effect, so I thought why not cut the fabric into various width strips and just make my own “long strip” quilt?  I think it looks lovely.  I’m really very pleased with myself (can you tell?).

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As this is only my second baby blanket/quilting experience, I have to say, I did pretty well this go-round.  I only had to rip out two seams (I stitched two panels together backwards) and I’m quite proud to say that I mastered the art of mitered corners with ease! (I thought it was going to be much more difficult than it was!)  This is the first time I’ve ever used double-fold quilt binding, and it wasn’t difficult to work with.  I used my handy-dandy quilt binding clips (they look like hair clips to me…) and it was no problem at all!  My first baby quilt took roughly 12 hours to make and this one I whipped together in 4.5 hours.  Granted, the first one had a lot of piecing which took a long time to do, but I think I might be getting the hang of this baby quilt thing!

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I included my little iron on “label” again.  I like this idea of marking my work with my name, but I hate that it looks like an iron-on transfer.   I think what i want to do is order a personalized stamp and find some colorfast stamping ink that can be used on fabric.  Or some custom-printed twill ribbon that I can stitch on.

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The final quilt/blanket size was approximately 36″X45″.  It was a little larger than my first quilt, but not too big to machine quilt (I have the smallest size Singer sewing machine, so there isn’t much room between the needle and the motor box, so machine quilting is a bit tricky and limited to small projects).

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I love the color combination so much.  I didn’t finish stitching the binding on until 2am last night, so the only light to take the photos by was the overhead lighting in the basement, which doesn’t do justice to the colors in the fabric…it’s so much prettier in person.  Even Chuck loved it!

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And, of course, we have to be matchy-matchy (because I’m totally anal like that, as you well know) – and luckily I found the  most perfect pink and orange gift bag at Target which matched the quilt exactly!!!  I also looked long and hard for a card that would match…the little orange giraffe (or is that a pony?) card was adorable and matched my little color-crazy theme here, so of course I had to get it!

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I also put in the bag two Keep-it-Kleen pacifiers (they have a little contraption that closes over the nipple when the baby drops it, so that the nipple never touches the floor or dirty surfaces when out of baby’s mouth…not sure how it works, but it sounded cool) and two sets of outlet covers that claim to “save your nails” with some special pop-out button for easy removal.

The recipient is my boss who is due at the end of May with little Olivia Suzanne (what a cute name, right?  Her other daughter is named Emma, which has always been on my baby names list…)  We had the baby shower today after work and all of our coworkers loved the quilt (which made me feel good…ego boost!) and I think my boss really liked it…  I’m so excited for my boss and I really can’t wait for her to hurry up and have this baby!  Hopefully she’ll take me up on my offer for free babysitting so I can play with little Olivia! 🙂