I know nothing about babies.  And I mean nothing.  (For example, I thought that there were diapers for girls and diapers for boys...this is not true.)

So, ever since AA was born, it's been a learning experience, to say the very least.  For both of us.  For AA, to learn how to be a human.  For me, to learn how to be patient, flexible, steadfast, understanding, creative, spontaneous, and basically a better person all around.

Early on, I would find myself thinking (and sometimes saying out loud), "Why are you doing this to me?" whenever AA would be especially fussy, or unpredictable, or just downright befuddling.  I felt like he was against me somehow, that we were competing to see who could live on less sleep or who could cry longer, or stop the other person from using the bathroom when they really needed to.

But that's not how it is, and thank goodness I snapped into that realization sooner rather than later.  AA doesn't know how to be a baby any better than I know how to understand a baby.  We're both starting at square one.  We're both total newbies.  Neither one of us knows what the heck we're doing.

So that means we're a team.  We're in it together, figuring out how to sleep and eat and nap and play and smile and laugh.  I can't become patient, flexible, steadfast, understanding, creative, spontaneous or better without him; he can't become a human without me.  We need each other mutually and equally.

We're teammates.  Go us.

photo by Sam Lorton


Another Quilt for a Little One

I'm on a roll with little quilts over here!
I loved the look of the rainbow quilt I made for AA so much, I decided to repeat the basic pattern for the upcoming 1st birthday of some of our dear friends' daughter.
I used 5" squares in 4 colors [mustard, coral, cream, and grey] for the center, added a 5" border in a very pale green with white stripes, and used a white & grey patterned fabric for the back and the binding.  [The border and back fabrics are remnants from my 20 Year Quilt I finished last summer!]
The center squares are placed completely randomly, and there were a few more each of the grey and the cream, so it took a lot of rearranging to get it to where no two adjacent squares were the same color.  Good thing I love a challenge :)
Hope this can become a favorite blanket for a very sweet one-year-old girl!


Becoming a Work-From-Home Mom: Crafting My Day

Now that AA is 4 months old, I'm starting to slowly adapt to new life as a mom and, hopefully, becoming a work-from-home mom.  I could spend all day forever doing nothing but lounging around with that sweet, sweet baby.  But!  I also have a house to take care of and ambitions for a career in design and sewing that I'm not willing to give up, and I'm dedicated to finding a way to succeeding in all the areas of my life that are important to me.

My priorities must go in this order:  self, family, home, career.  With that in mind, my day-to-day is starting to come together according to those priorities.

First, my self and health:  because if I'm not well taken care of, I can't take care of anything else.  Happy mom is a happy family!

Second, our family:  that's Scott and AA.  I want to be present with them both at all the times I can be.  The most important thing to me during the day while Scott is at work is, and has to be, cherishing my son.  If I have the luxury of being at home all day with him, I have to take full advantage of that and never take a moment for granted.  I get to be there to witness him learning and growing every single day - that is a great, great blessing for all three of us.

Third, our home:  part of taking care of my family is providing a home that is inviting, comfortable and comforting, clean, and full of love.

Lastly, my career:  when the other three priorities are well taken care of during a day, I have time to pursue my other dreams.  This means I may or may not have time for working every single day at this point, and that's okay.

Here is what all that looks like for me on a practical level each day, depending on if AA is awake or asleep:

MY HEALTH [physical, mental, spiritual, emotional]

While AA is awake, I:
  • Pray - I pray over Anderson every night when I put him to bed, and I have the Jesus Calling app on my phone to meditate on each morning during AA's first feeding.
  • Exercise - we take walks about 3 times a week (pushing a 25 pound stroller is such great added resistance!), and since we spend the majority of our day laying on the floor anyway, it's the perfect time for me to stretch!
  • Read - I'm sitting in a chair nursing a baby for about 2 hours total a day, so why not use that time to devour a bunch of books?
  • Eat - I'm not preparing anything that complicated and time-consuming for any of my meals these days, so AA is perfectly content to play alone while I get my meals together and chow down.
While AA is asleep, I:
  • Take care of my hygiene - I shower at night after AA is asleep, and I get up in the morning before he does to get ready for the day.
  • Sleep - Duh.
  • Watch TV - We've made the decision to try to limit AA to zero hours of screen time a day for as long as possible (we're aiming for 2 years old...maybe we'll make it to 1 year, haha), so any TV-watching I want to do must be done while he's asleep.  This means I've greatly reduced the amount of TV shows I watch, because there are just other things that are more important to me now.

OUR FAMILY [Scott and AA]

While AA is awake, I:
  • Engage with him as much as I can.  And do a bunch of really stupid antics to see if I can get him to laugh.
While AA is asleep, I:
  • Talk to my husband - Meaning have any adult-type, boring conversations we need to have (like talking about finances or the yardwork!).  We can talk about those things when AA is asleep; when he's awake, it's more fun to be talking and playing as a family!

OUR HOME [keeping it a happy place]

While AA is awake, I:
  • Run errands - AA loves a good car trip, and Target fascinates the heck out of him.
  • Do some chores - If I toss AA in my Moby wrap, he is perfectly happy being toted around the house while I dust and vacuum.
  • Work in the kitchen - Give this kid a whisk, put on some music, and do some singing and dancing while you empty the dishwasher or cook dinner, and he is happy as a tiny, adorable clam.
  • Do laundry - I toss a load in the washer in between naps and fold while he's awake.  He loves looking at different colors and feeling different fabrics, so that's a win/win!
While AA is asleep, I:
  • Do all other household chores

MY CAREER [Dottie Adele and other sewing endeavors]

While AA is awake, I:
  • Sew (a little) - AA can entertain himself for about 15-20 minutes at a time at this point, so if I have something I want to quickly finish up, I bring him in the sewing room with me and let him play while I sew.
While AA is asleep, I choose to:
  • Sew (a lot)
  • Internet things - blogging, e-mails, Etsy stuff, etc. can all wait until AA is asleep so I don't have to divide my attention.
So, that is what life looks like as of now!  I'm interested to see how it evolves and changes over the next couple months as he gets older and how things pan out for my own small business endeavors.  Oh, and yes:  my Etsy shop is now re-opened for business!


Crazy Pants: How to Bleach Tie-Dye Jeans

I love black jeans.  And I've been rocking the same pair from Stylemint for the last couple of years, but the downside of black jeans is that with too many washes, they become faded to a sort of dark-grey-wannabe-black.   Exhibit A:  my old jeans on the left.  Exhibit B:  those jeans compared to the new black ones I just got.  So faded!  (See what I did there?)
But I love, love, love these jeans and how they fit, so I wanted to find some sort of way to salvage them.  For some reason, the idea popped into my head to bleach them.  Tie-dye bleach them.

I looked up a few tutorials on the interwebs ("how do you bleach jeans") and every one seemed to have a different idea of how much bleach and how long to leave the jeans in, so in the end, here's what I did:

I balled up my jeans and held them with 5 rubber bands, then dumped them in a bucket along with that entire small bottle of bleach, which was about 10 cups, and 27 cups of water (I came by these numbers simply by what was needed to cover the jeans in the bucket.  Science!).  I left the jeans to soak for 3.5 hours.  Important notes when using bleach:  wear gloves and do it somewhere well-ventilated!

I took out my jeans and squeezed them out as much as I could, then refilled the bucket with clean water and let them soak for about 10 more minutes.  Then I squeezed them out again and laid them out to dry for a little while in the sun.  They looked insane:
Something about the bleach and the color of the jeans created three colors:  the faded original black, violet, and a dark ivory!  My obsession was immediate.

Then I put the jeans through one "rinse only" in the washing machine, followed by a real wash with detergent by themselves, and these wild things are the final result:
New favorite pants, NO DOUBT.


Rainbow Baby Quilt

I finished sewing something!!!
Just as I thought it would, this took me weeks to finish in between taking care of AA all day (and the fact that I go to bed at 8:30, right after he does), but despite how long it took me, I am so pleased with it!

Someone else seems to be pleased with it too:
I used 56 squares from a Michael Miller Charm Pack for all the colors (left out most of the bolder colors so it would be a little more subdued), and then just an ivory colored quilting cotton for the border, back, and binding.
I decided to quilt it diagonally and love the subtle triangles it creates all over the quilt.
Scott thinks there are too many "girl" colors, but realllllly there's almost exactly 1/3 "girl" colors, 1/3 "boy" colors, and 1/3 neutrals, so it's the most neutral colored quilt it could possibly be!
What a little baby model I've got.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I just may have been bitten by the quilting bug...


29 + Everything is New

Yesterday was my 29th birthday!  I spent the day with the littlest handsome guy above and the evening with the biggest handsome guy above and our little group of friends.  It was a good day.

Last year on my birthday, I got all introspective about what the previous year (27) had been like for me, and all the changes I imagined 28 was going to bring.  I was certainly right about all the changes that were coming, but as I thought about it last night, I was struck by just how significantly different my life is this year:

At 28, I was a wife.  At 29, I'm a wife and a mother.  [In fact, I wrote last year's birthday post the evening we found out I was pregnant - one year ago tomorrow!]

At 28, I was working full-time.  At 29, I'm a stay-at-home mom, and don't have a job of any sort for the first time since I was 16 years old.

At 28, we lived in a tiny apartment in a sort of ungentrified neighborhood in New York City.  At 29, we live in a house that is (literally) three times bigger than that apartment in a suburb neighborhood in Las Vegas.

At 28, we celebrated my birthday by going to an experimental theater production downtown and got back up to our place at midnight (on a work night!).  At 29, we celebrated my birthday by eating pizza and cupcakes at our house with friends...and everyone was gone by 7:15 PM.
Last year's birthday, and last year's life, seems a world away at this point.  It's hard for me to remember what it was like to ride a subway for 2 hours round trip just to go a show or to have to wear a coat in March, and I almost don't even want to remember that I had to spend 28 birthdays before this without kissing the face of my little AA a million times. 

This year is so different.

This year is also so, so good.


Viva-ing in Las Vegas: Pinball Hall of Fame

For all the nostalgia geeks out there, there is a magical place with your name on it here in Las Vegas.  That place is the Pinball Hall of Fame.
If 10,000 square feet of pinball machines--old ones from the 1950s all the way up to brand new ones like a Transformers one--sounds appealing to you, this is your place.  It sounds SUPER appealing to Scott and I, and we've spent many a quarter in this dark concrete building already.  Walk in with a $20, visit the change machine, browse the rows with about a pound of quarters in your pocket, and you've got a good hour of solid entertainment for a Saturday afternoon!  My personal favorite is the Space Jam one; it gives you crazy good bonuses and, you know, Michael Jordan.

The Pinball Hall of Fame is actually on Tropicana Ave, essentially down the street from the Strip, so it's not even too far off the beaten path.  Plus, I figure if you're going to be putting quarters into a machine and losing all your money anyway, you just as well give your wrists a workout while you do so, right?

P.S.  There is also a Super Mario Bros (the first one) arcade game here, which I dominated for like 30 minutes straight without losing all my lives.


Books I Read: This Winter + A Rearranged Bookshelf

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Hmmmm, what to read as your first book after you've just had a baby?  How about a memoir about a woman whose husband suddenly dies one night at the dinner table, while their only child is in a coma due to an unexplained neuro issue on and off for the next year?  Sign me up!  Who knows what possessed me to pick this one up as my "before going to sleep"book when AA started to going to bed in his own room, but I did...and while it basically destroyed me emotionally (but so did the Olympics, so...), it was an absolutely beautiful read.  It was brutally honest to the point that Didion shared thoughts and feelings I almost can't imagine she would have been willing to share with even her closest friends, and it was just a heartbreaking, stripped bare portrait of marriage and family and death and recovery that will resonate with me for a long time to come.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

First off, prettiest book cover ever, huh?  Secondly, I picked up this book because I had seen many, many "best of 2013" lists in which this novel was at the top.  WORTH IT.  Weaving in and out of the lives of 6 people who met at an arts camp in the late 70s, the plot explores how a shared experience among teenagers can continue to have a ripple effect throughout our lives.  I also felt super connected to the characters for a couple of reasons:  I, too, went to an arts camp as a teenager, for modern dance!  [However, I didn't thrive quite as well as these kids...I spent the entire 2 weeks basically unable to walk because I was so sore from our daily Pilates sessions, which I had never done before!]  Also, the adult versions of the characters all live in a very authentic New York City, which of course has a special place in my adulthood as well.  [At one point, two characters meet up for brunch at "a place on Amsterdam with popovers as big as a baby's head" - this is a real place, and I've been there!  It's called Popover Cafe!  Though it apparently closed at the beginning of the year :( ]  Connections like those aside, this novel is really just a story about people and their lives and their friendships and how life can be interesting if we just make it be so.

Yesterday, I did that thing where I accidentally start organizing something I didn't mean to organize and rearranged our bookshelves!  Here they are, in our upstairs loft space, which I love.
I was looking for a new book to read, but all our books were just sort of haphazardly thrown up there and I kept running across books I had already read.  So I decided to separate all our books out to see just how many there even were that I have yet to read.  Of the 18 shelves, this is what I ended up with:

2 shelves of knick knacks
3 shelves of photo albums
1 shelf of games
1 shelf of coffee table books (should these go on a coffee table, by definition?  Probably)
2 shelves of college textbooks (whyyyy do we keep these?)
1 shelf of travel books


4 shelves of books I have read
4 shelves of books I haven't read!

I gotsa to get to reading!  Not only that, of the 4 unread shelves, one entire shelf of that is Christian theology and philosophy books, so I've got the perfect opportunity and a host of books to choose from to expand my mind and explore my faith even further.  We will be moving again in August, but I'm going to see if I can get one more entire shelf read before we have to pack up again!


Bridesmaid Dress Collection: Karen

Last fall when I was still pregnant, I was sewing up a storm of bridesmaid dresses, and here's one more collection I haven't documented yet!

Karen wanted a black dress similar to this David's Bridal dress but liked the idea of having the dresses custom-made for each girl instead, which is where I stepped in, of course!
The prettiest feature of these dresses are definitely the neckline.  I based them on Sewaholic's Lonsdale Pattern but created a loop for the strap (which I also thickened by a few inches) to thread through instead of having the straps tie at the neck.
The other features - the cummerbund waistband and the pleated skirt - I created my own pattern for and then pieced it altogether. 
Since these dresses are made from black satin (basically the most classic bridesmaid fabric of all time, right?), they are (hopefully) timeless (let's check back in 10 years and see if they look obviously out-of-date!), and I loved the elegance the neckline added to an otherwise fairly simple dress!

Here's a pic I very creepily stole from Facebook - looked like a very fun group of gals!


AA's Best Blanket

When you are having a baby, you get a lot of baby blankets.  Like, a lot.  And you need a lot!  For the first 6 weeks of his life, AA was wrapped up in a blanket basically constantly, and thus many bodily fluids of various types ended up all over these blankets...which is why you need a lot!

But there was one blanket AA got that was a little more special than all the others, because it was crocheted by his Aunt Kelsey!  And it's basically the coolest baby blanket ever.  I mean, look at it!
It has raised adorable animals crocheted into its border.  I don't even understand how that's possible to make!  But I don't need to understand anything more than this blanket is so beautiful and so special, so I figured this blanket needed to be in as many pictures as humanly possible for the rest of AA's life.

So every Thursday, we take a picture on this blanket, and I watch AA grow before my very eyes.  To think he started out smaller than that middle square!

Here AA is at 1, 5, 9, and 13 weeks. 

(And my heart already hurts for the day he outgrows the outer square too...stay tiny, baby!!!!)