Inching closer

May 31, 2009

The second most popular baby question I’ve gotten, after "have you thought about names?", is what our nursery theme will be. I feel terrible to have to let people down when they seem so interested, but I wouldn’t say that "themes" have ever been my strong suite. (Luckily, I’m not sure how much the baby will notice.) Theme-incompetence aside, we are making progress on the nursery front. After all of the furniture mayhem three weeks ago, we finally have a plan that we’re both excited about for how to free up one of the bedrooms. We have our great glider, have ordered a crib, and have our eyes on an IKEA bookcase that will complete the furniture. We’re planning to use the second vanity in our bathroom as a changer, and the preexisting closet shelves (with baskets and/or hangers) instead of a dresser. I found a pattern online for crib bedding that looks like extremely quick and easy sewing – I just need to find elastic and fabric. There’s the quilt. And then the only major decision-making left is what to do about the walls and floor.

We picked up paint samples after work on Friday – such a cheery pile of potential.

(The two vivid orange squares aren’t really contenders, they were just too pretty to leave there.) It's been months since we painted anything (last project was the bathroom in January), and while I can't say that I've exactly missed it as an activity, the color is a fun choice to make.

Also, we’ve been planning to replace the carpet in the two front bedrooms (one of the last remaining projects from our initial list), but it wasn’t a high priority item. Since we’re moving all of the furniture anyway, now seems like an ideal time. So we’ll need to find carpet samples, too.

No theme, but I think that both front bedrooms will look extremely pretty by the time we’re done, and it’s not that much work left. :-) Good timing, since last week finally marked the beginning of the third trimester!

On your mark...

May 30, 2009

Before we left for our trip, I finally went out and found fabric for the bento box baby quilt I've been mulling. I found two spools of ribbon that seemed like ideal color inspiration: lemon, lime, turquoise and light blue.

I'm delighted with my fabrics for the front.

And I love my back fabrics, too, (shown here with the iron for size reference) but the jury is still out whether they are too saturated. My thought was that I’d make little orange and yellow nine-patch grids scattered across the blue, but it may be too bright. I'm thinking that I'll make up both the front and back and if it's not working in combination then I can sub in a lighter color for the back panel.

The fabric is all ironed and waiting for me to start cutting -- I can't wait to see it come together.


Our welcome home

May 29, 2009

We arrived home to find the yard brimming with brilliant flowers.

Our azaleas and rhododendrons are all beautiful, and we managed to catch the tail end of the lilacs (I have a nice big vase of them on our kitchen counter, and they smell wonderful).

Kevin went out with his macro lens, and had fun snapping photos of the bumblebees enjoying the rhododendron blooms.

The bush is right next to our front door, and the pink flowers are spectacular. It's right outside Kevin's office window (soon to be the baby's room) and every time I walk along the path or through the hall, the size and sheer pinkness of the flowers is amazing.

We were quite delighted to see that the grass seed appears to have sprouted as well! It's still early, but the lawn already looks impressively better. Kevin put in lots of time the week before we left raking up the moss (more than a yard waste bin's worth! A herculean task) and then raking in the seed, so it's great to see that a healthy amount of it took even without us here to coddle it. Also, apparently we had cool weather and sufficient rain while we were away so that the container plants didn't bake -- they all look happy and bigger.

Eight buttons shy of finished

May 28, 2009

My travel knitting for the trip was the Sirdar Baby Jacket. I managed to leave the patterns for the matching hat and booties at home, but the ribbing took much longer than anticipated and so I didn't end up casting off until midway through the trip home anyway. The yarn (a bamboo blend) is wonderful -- so soft, great stitch definition, and allegedly machine-washable. I wish I'd found it earlier -- it's a great option for baby knits. I still need to get the buttons sewn on, and clearly this needs to be blocked, but here the jacket is in its nearly-complete state:


PA trip, part 2

May 27, 2009

The second half of our PA trip was a weekend in the Poconos with my mom's side of the family to celebrate my grandparents 80th and 85th birthdays. The hotel was a stately place surrounded by nature trails and a golf course, and they offered a daily list of activities and good meals. Seeing everyone was wonderful, but it was especially fun to do it in such a pretty setting.

We arrived mid-afternoon and immediately found my mom, grandparents, siblings and cousin in the lobby.

The frequency and ease with which we ran into family members continued to make me happy all weekend. It was such a treat to be in the middle of family – we usually only get to see everyone a few times a year at holidays, and the long weekend visit was wonderful.

The hotel grounds were quite pretty. Here’s one of several hiking groups returning from a hike down to one of the nearby waterfalls with all of the loveliness in the background.

They had dancing on Saturday night – a grand march followed by open dancing with live music. Here’s my sister and grandmother processing by during the march.

The weather was great – sunny and warm most of the days, and then on Sunday our group lawn-bowling event was interrupted by a big thunderstorm, with nice, dark clouds and even a bit of hail. We all took cover under a porch until the storm passed.

(We barely get lightning in Seattle, and a good storm is always a treat to me.) A second storm rolled in a few hours later, but it would have been more fun to watch if it hadn’t disrupted a wedding. They ended up moving it under the roof on the main porch which also seemed pretty, but the bride looked distressed.

PA trip, part 1

May 26, 2009

Our east coast trip was wonderful. The first portion was a trip home to see Kevin's family for his sister's graduation. For Nursing, there's a pinning ceremony (which we attended -- a happy, proud celebration for her nursing class) and a college graduation, which Kristina decided to skip. We have plenty of great photos from the pinning. Here's Kristina and my in-laws beforehand:

In between graduation festivities, Kevin and his dad spent the first few days working on re-staining the deck. They did great work, and then Thursday was sunny and gorgeous so we all spent the day outside enjoying it. We've had a handful of beautiful days so far in Seattle, but nothing that compares to east coast summer weather.

We made a few pilgrimages to Dunkin Donuts. No photos, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Lots of time was also devoted to trying to let Kevin's family feel the baby kick. He gets very quiet when I'm talking or moving a lot, and so it was hard to stay settled enough so that he'd really get going when other people were around. Increasingly, I can feel body parts pushing out, but it's hard to decide what they are exactly (a knee? a foot?), and unless he moves other people usually can't feel what I'm talking about. We had lots of failed kicking attempts, like this one:

I was so pleased that on the last evening everyone finally got to feel squirming and kicking.

More speedy sewing

May 18, 2009

As a quick project before we left on our trip, I made two more rice- and lavender-filled microwavable heating pads.

I inadvertently filled these ones a bit more than the original, but the slightly less moldable shape works well with the smaller size. They’re a great size for sticking in my suitcase. Since I still use my original heating pad more evenings than not, it’s a relief to know I’ll have a good allternative for the trip.

Container garden progress

May 17, 2009

All of the seedlings on the kitchen counter have been merrily growing away. I've been debating what to do about transitioning them to outdoor weather, and when to replant them, but we're heading out of town for a ten-day east coast trip and I procrastinated long enough that the answer ended up being throwing them into containers the day before we left and hoping they'd survive my absence. Benign neglect has worked surprisingly well in the past, so hopefully a similar strategy will work this time as well.

For the first time ever, I not only have everything in appropriately sized pots, but I actually amended potting soil with compost the way you're supposed to.

I'm very pleased with myself, especially after such a half-hearted and late attempt last summer.

I have two containers of peas, two beans, one oregon star tomato, one brandywine tomato, a large bowl planter of leeks, and a strawberry pot. The tomato pots still contain multiple seedlings – I’ll thin them a final time once the plants are bigger. I divided up the lavender, but otherwise left the flowers in their seedling trays until I get back. I'll wait for them to get larger and sturdier and then just transfer them into the ground directly. I bought supplies (aka a lidded bucket and some flexible tubing) to make a drip irrigation system for later in the summer so that I’m not tied to the daily watering, but I didn’t have enough time to get it up and running before we left. Instead, the containers are all in a huddle in the part of the patio that I guessed was most likely to get any rain and sunlight while we were gone.

Grow well, little plants!


Baby's first Red Sox game!

May 16, 2009

My parents have good friends who live in Seattle, and they've made a tradition of inviting us out when the Red Sox are in town. The seats are amazing -- right behind the visitors' dugout -- and we always enjoy the game. The Sox are only in town once this season and so we were quite pleased to be invited again.

Sadly, the Red Sox lost, but it was still a great game to watch. The baby seems very into baseball -- lots of kicking, especially when the game is tight. I'm sure I probably just have lots of adrenaline that he's reacting to, but it does feel like he starts rally-kicking when when we need or get a great hit!

More furniture moving

May 14, 2009

This week was the week of furniture turmoil. Once we sat down to think about it, and especially after we started moving furniture, we quickly compiled a surprisingly long list of preferences and requirements. The red couch looks best in a room with green walls, the glass coffee table does not work with the other fish room or family room furniture, blue fabric and oak furniture looks best in the fish room, the dining room table and cabinet should stay as-is, we like the butterfly chairs in the corner arrangement in the family room, etc, etc. We had opinions about the traffic patterns of rooms. Kevin considered forgoing a desktop (and a desk) altogether. We considered five places in three rooms for my desk. We considered buying a new couch, or new chairs, for a living room grouping.

We were pretty pleased with ourselves for considering options, moving things around to see if they worked, and stopping for breaks before we got too frustrated or discouraged. The house plan and to-scale furniture helped a lot.

And now we have a tentative plan for a shared office that we’re sitting on for a few days to be sure that we’re both happy with it. :-) It feels like a very successful week.

Farmers Market Flowers

May 12, 2009

The farmers market opened two weekends ago. I’ve been going to prenatal yoga on Saturday mornings (a wonderful thing) and now I can pop over to the market afterwards. They don’t have very much produce yet, but the flowers, as usual, are spectacular.

Portrait of a Sunday Night

May 11, 2009

In the foreground: Mothers-to-be Day tulips from Kevin! :-)

In the background: Total disarray. The furniture/rooms question was starting to weigh on us, so I measured all of our furniture and printed out a floor plan of our house and to-scale furniture so that we could start considering our options. We have a three bedroom house, and currently we each use one bedroom as an office. My office also has a twin/trundle bed in it for when guests visit. Once the baby comes, we’ll turn Kevin’s office into the baby room. But the third bedroom isn’t big enough for both desks and the guest bed, so some creativity is required.

We were doing a good job with the paper cutouts for a little bit, but before too long we thought we had a good option and just rolled up the rug and started moving furniture. Several couch, coffee table, and bookcase configurations later, we abandoned the effort in favour of dinner. I took the photo while Kevin cooked.

With a bit of a break, we thought of new possibilities to try which actually turned out pretty well. We’re still not quite there, but definitely getting closer, and we got the room put back together once we’d eaten.

They'll let us leave the hospital

May 10, 2009

In a big step closer to baby-preparedness, we have a carseat! (A gift from Kevin’s parents!!)

For those who are interested in such things, it’s a Britax Diplomat. We decided to skip the infant seat in favour of a convertible, and then I found a great sale price with free shipping.

We had a good time trying it out in the car (with my 26-week shape quite evident). Rear-facing for the first year:

And then forward-facing up to forty pounds:

It’s now packed back into the box in the garage. We’re saving all of the LATCH and installation fun for July, which still feels very far away. People keep telling me that time is going to start to fly, but I’ve been feeling acutely aware of the fact that it isn’t and I’m struggling not to feel impatient.

Debbie Bliss Ribbed Jacket

May 08, 2009

Continuing the theme of baby knits on the rock wall in the back yard, here’s the finished Debbie Bliss Ribbed Jacket with some pretty white mystery flowers.

This sweater, knit in aran weight yarn, was a lightning-fast knit. I used Cascade 220 superwash, and I’m wondering if I should have gone down a needle size as it grew substantially when I blocked it. The fabric feels nice, with good stitch definition, and while the under-arm seams aren’t smooth, I think they’ll look fine when the sweater is actually being worn. (Ignore the raggedy hemline, here. The sky was starting to open again as I took the photo, and I didn’t take the extra second to straighten it. In real life, it’s even.)

I suspect that the buttons may not be in the best taste, but I’m leaving them anyway.

I bought them on Queen Anne in the first month or two after we moved to Seattle, and I’m quite pleased that they finally have a home.


Baby Surprise Jacket

May 07, 2009

After a long interlude without buttons, the baby surprise jacket is done!

I finished it early in the week but the rain and dark clouds were a constant this week and this yarn is had to photograph without real light. After so many days of downpour, the garden is vibrant, though, so it was clearly for a good cause. Here’s the finished jacket with the blooming violets, forget-me-nots and periwinkle (not to mention the ever-present moss and a few ivy starts that I missed while weeding. You can also see a stand of mint in the upper-left. The mint was simply delighted with all of the rain this week and has been flourishing. We’ll have to do mojitos or something similar soon to subdue it a bit).

A less leafy view of the front, but hard to see the purple and green accents in the yarn:

And here’s the back:

I probably won’t use this yarn again – it feels wonderful and was so pleasant to knit with, but the color variation looked prettier in the ball than knit up, I think. Nonetheless, I’m pleased with the sweater and it’s so nice to finally have the buttons sewn on and be able to cross it off the list.


Sunrise Circle Jacket

May 06, 2009

After four nights of work, including during a particularly unfortunate 0-13 Red Sox loss, I finally finished seaming the Sunrise Circle Jacket, and got the buttons all sewed on!

I’m reasonably pleased with the fit. The arms are a bit long (an inch or two shorter would probably be better), and the entire sweater is roomy, especially under the arms. The back fits very well, though, and the length is great. I’m still not wild about the color (probably the sweater’s biggest fault), but it’s cozy and I think I’ll wear it, especially in the evenings at home. I think the style should work for breastfeeding, and it’s machine-washable so that’s certainly a plus.

The button placement works well for my current body shape, but I’ll probably redo the bottom button or two at some point next fall. I love the way the button line looks with the overlapping hems and pretty curving rows of stitches.

The buttons were a find. I’ve been looking for quite a while without much luck (that purple is tough to work with), and then found these. I think the color and size are great, and I love the carved circles on the surface – they reinforce the lines of the sweater well, I think.

All in all, a long project, but a satisfying result.


Friday grilling

May 03, 2009

The weather on Thursday and Friday was gorgeous, and the forecast for the rest of the weekend looked discouraging, so we had Larry, Kelly, Shawn, Sanna and their dog William over for grilling on Friday after work. William treed his first raccoon (I wish they’d stop hanging out in our neighbourhood, but maybe we’ll just need to invite William over more often?), to everyone else’s bemusement. After we were done eating and the sun had set, we retired to the kitchen for brownies and chatter.

Kevin’s parents found a toddler backpack and sent it out to us a few months ago. We knew that Larry, especially, would be delighted.

He’s an avid hiker, and has already been scheming about introducing the baby to the great outdoors. (Lending new meaning to the phrase "baby hike"?) On the counter, you can see the gorgeous tulips he brought – wine for everyone else, and flowers for me! :-)

While Larry played with the backpack, everyone else took a turn with the stroller (a gift from Kevin’s friend Sunil!). It’s quite the mean machine, with shocks, bright colors, and a great stroller/lifestyle instruction booklet. Here it is with the top down, facing backwards, with the back fully reclined:

William wasn’t too sure about it (his nerves were probably still on edge after the raccoon encounter), but luckily the humans in the room were much more appreciative -- we’re quite enamoured of it and it was fun to show it off. :-)