Sunday, December 26, 2010


Christmas is over, the presents are all unwrapped, the recycling bin in full of brightly colored paper, and we are feeling content and overwhelmed with good things in our lives.  I really love some of the gifts in our family this year!


First off, I sewed some little mermaid dolls for the girls.  These are from the Mermaiden pattern by Wee Wonderfuls, and I am sooooo happy with how they turned out.  They were very fun and rewarding to sew and used up just tiny scraps of fabric.  The only thing I bought for these dolls was the embroidery thread for the faces. (Doing the faces, by the way, was just. too. fun. seriously.)

Two little mermaid friends

The black hair and the blue hair are from felted old sweaters; the black hair was from a merino wool sweater and it turned out an especially awesome texture, sort of squishy.  (The blue hair was from an old cashmere sweater and turned out more soft and fuzzy, as you might expect.)  The original pattern has you do hair flowers from rickrack, but that didn't work at all for me.  I used some lace and regular ribbon for two of them, and then did little beading embellishment on the other two.

Two more little mermaid ladies

I used three different fabrics for the body/skin and they turned out pretty different from each other.  They each had different amounts of stretch, so the dolls each turned out slightly different sizes.  The medium brown skin was a woven with no stretch (what the original pattern calls for), so that doll turned out petite and little (also, kind of wrinkly because there is no stretch-- she is a blue-haired granny mermaid). The fair skin is a hemp/cotton French terry that has a medium amount of stretch, so those two dolls turned out medium-sized (and I think this was the most appealing amount of stretch; I'd love to find it in more skin colors or dye it or something).  The dark brown skin is very stretchy and that doll turned out, well, a bit on the plump side.  In hind sight, I should have sewn her a bit smaller to start with.  Also, the next time I sew an African-American doll, I will use a darker red for the mouth.

I really love how they all turned out different and quirky and individuals, and I am DEFINITELY going to buy her new book.  Also, I may buy this pattern from the same designer for future doll sewing.  I have never really sewn little toys or dolls before this and I am feeling a little obsessive and addicted right now because SQUEEEEEE THEY ARE SO CUTE AND FUN TO SEW.  Also, the girls really like them; Grace's are in the bottom picture and she has named them Aubra (left) and Princess Tail (right).

A subversive necklace

I got many lovely gifts myself, including this necklace from Rob.  It is made from a vintage dictionary page; isn't that the most wonderful, appealing idea?  You get to choose what word you want in the necklace, so Rob decided it should be a subversive necklace.  LOVE.


And then here is what I gave Rob (actually for his birthday, which is a few days before Christmas).  It's an oil painting done by this artist as part of a project he did for small, affordable commissioned art.  He did 100 little oil paintings based on photographs that we sent in; Rob's painting is based on this photograph of Grace when she was about 18 months old. Again, LOVE.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Once in royal David's city,
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby,
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall:
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle,
Is our Lord in heaven above:
And He leads His children on,
To the place where He is gone.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Two Years of Violet

Two Years of Violet

Today is Violet's birthday and she is two whole years old.  She has changed so much since this time last year; I don't I will ever become accustomed to the whiplash-inducing rate of change of these first years of life.  She says more words than I can count, identifying herself as "BIOLET" and stringing together little proto-sentences.  She runs full-tilt when the fancy strikes her and in the wee small hours of the morning sleepily toddles from her little bed in the room she shares with Grace to our room to cuddle for the last hours of the night.  She sings recognizable if hilarious versions of "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star" and "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel".

She likes using forks and spoons and pushing buttons and eating blueberries and nursing before she goes to sleep, and she dislikes having her teeth brushed and sitting at the table to eat and being thwarted from her adventures.  She's pretty much grown out of babywearing, except for very rare special circumstances, and protests at anything that restrains her unfettered independence, from the Ergo to the stroller to the grocery store cart.  She is so daring and fearless, approaching the world around her with confidence and curiosity.

Violet is much more assertive than Grace was at this age, insisting that it is "BIOLET'S TURN!" and clasping items to her chest and declaring them "MINE!"  She is generally a laid-back, easygoing individual, though, and is philosophical about the ups and downs that life brings her way.  She loves being around other kids her age, calling them "OTHER BABIES!", although she doesn't get as many playdates and dedicated Violet-oriented activities as Grace did at this age.  The plight of the second child...  I do think I am going to do a gymnastics class or music class or something with her after the holidays.

Yesterday was Rob's birthday and I think it is just this year sinking in that their birthdays will always be intertwined and linked.  I hope she doesn't resent it later, when her birthday comes at such a busy time of year and won't ever really get a lot of undivided attention, despite how hard I may try.  At some level it makes me happy, though.  We are all tangled together forever, even our birthdays.  And then I think I will always associate this time of year with the joy of bringing home the amazing tiny new person that Violet used to be.  I was dreamily in love with that milky Christmas newborn, but now I see how everyday she is becoming more herself.

Happy birthday, my sweet, intrepid, even-tempered, beautiful girl.

Happy to be out of the stroller

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Life has been a bit full lately.  I see this largely as a good thing because I think it means that we are settled in here and are building relationships with people and finding our place and whatnot.  We are doing church stuff twice a week and MOPS has turned out way better than I feared it might, and then there's always stuff for Grace's preschool and storytime at the library and adoption paperwork and so forth.  The holidays are, of course, a contributing factor in recent weeks. Rob and I try hard to be deliberate in cultivating peace and avoiding insanity for our family during these times, but even when you try for mindfulness, there is still so much going on this time of year!  For whatever reason, this is the first year that I decided to really make gifts for the girls, a decision which brings with it its own brand of busy-ness.  (By that I mean frantic sewing whenever the girls are asleep.)  This afternoon I finished Violet's birthday present, though, and it turned out so cuuuuuute that I feel another burst of motivation to finish my last bits of work on Christmas presents for the girls.  Violet is getting a baby doll for her birthday from my parents and the rest of us are all giving her things to go along with it/her. (I wonder what the appropriate pronoun for a baby doll is...)  Here's what we (well, really I, I suppose; Rob's role was being supportive and nodding appreciatively) did:

Violet's doll bed is finished!

The bed itself is from IKEA (the DUKTIG bed, in case you are in the market for a doll bed); it comes with some linens but they are pretty second-rate so it was time to break out some fabric.  The mattress is foam from Joann's that I wrapped in cotton quilt batting and then covered in white flannel. The quilt, which took probably 90% of the time of this whole project, is just a scrappy pattern I made up as I went along (mostly strip-pieced but cut up to make it look random).  And the little pillow is covered in sweet doll fabric that my grandmother gave me.  I bought the foam for the mattress and the pillow form, but everything else was stuff I already had.  This probably says more about my fabric stashing than about my frugality, sadly.

A tiny quilt

I am not a big quilter normally.  I usually think, "So we take whole fabric, cut it into little pieces, then sew it back together in to a big piece?!" However, occasionally I get a hankering for the geometric mathematics and patterning of it, and I really enjoyed making this tiny quilt.  And those pieces really are tiny-- about 1" on a side.  The batting is Warm & Natural, which is my faaaaaavorite; I don't preshrink it and then laundering the quilt when it's finished makes the whole thing shrink up and get that fabulous vintage-y puffy texture.  I quilted it pretty heavily-- free motion wavy lines on the solid light pink and a decorative leaf stitch from my sewing machine on the pieced strips.  I had so much fun making all this, although it has taken up all my sewing time recently.  Busy Santa's elf, that's me!

Of course, being busy is not entirely a good thing.  For starters, I am not the kind of person who thrives on having too much scheduled activity going on.  I like my free time, and honestly my most favorite kinds of days are the ones with no places to be and no tasks to take care of.  There is a strong hermit streak in me, and I do get a bit de-centered and off-kilter when there is too much activity in my life.  And then there is exercise; I am sad to report that I do not still work out 6 days a week like when we were living in that rental house this past summer.  Rob and I joke that we exercised so much then because it was so unpleasant to be at that house.  The beautiful gym at the Jewish Community Center where Grace goes to preschool was a much nicer place to be.  Now, between our lovely new house that is just so darned comfy and hard to leave and the full, busy days, I am doing good to exercise 3 times a week.  Hopefully I will get back on that after the holidays are over.

Looking back, I am realizing that I never really was busy in Dallas.  This is partly because I had a baby during those years and it is hard to get super involved in anything in the outside world when life is so absorbed by the urgency of a newborn, but I don't know that I can wholly attribute it to Violet because the same thing did not happen when I had Grace in Connecticut.  The couple of activity/social things that I tried went rather badly and the dominant culture there is just not the best fit for my personality and interests and values and whatnot, so I kind of gave up eventually, I admit.  It is such a relief to see my life here now rich in relationships and full of things that make me happy, and I am very grateful.