The holidays have been a bit weird for us this year. They seemed to swoop down upon us, with Christmas following just a day or two behind Thanksgiving, and now it’s New Year’s Eve. Their swiftness has probably been a good thing. I don’t think any waiting-for-a-while-but-ever-hopeful adoptive family will tell you that they have warm and fuzzy feelings about spending another holiday season without a little one. As our adoption coordinator put it, the holidays sort of serve as a way-marker….you find yourself thinking at various times throughout the year, “maybe by Christmas…” And now that Christmas has gone….well, to say it’s a bummer would be a gross underestimation.
I don’t want you to get the impression that we’re wallowing in it, by any means. We learned when we began the wait that keeping busy was key, and the past few weeks have been pretty well filled with things to keep us occupied. The stuff we usually do around this time of year – doing our just the two of us (so far) special traditions, spending real quality time with far-flung family members in our hometown in Alabama, making lots of stuff for giving as gifts, showing off recipes we’ve been trying off all year, that kind of thing – we really enjoy the holidays and we’re so grateful we’ve gotten to do those things. And thankfully everyone was kind and upbeat and we didn’t have to field a single “So, when’s this adoption thing going to happen?” question. (Very grateful for that!)
Prior to whatever line one crosses where holiday craziness begins each year, *A* and I both found several distractions that helped and continue to help us take our mind off the adoption wait. *A*’s returned to honoring her nerdy side (once a nerd, always a nerd) and is in the beginning stages of researching a counseling-related article for which she might pursue publication. And she’s been teaching a class at our (most recent) alma mater this fall (and for the late summer session, too), and is teaching another one this spring. She’s really enjoying teaching – I’ve not attended her classes, but I suspect she’s a natural.
I’ve been doing some teaching, too – my little preschool art class has taken off in the past few months. We’ve been averaging 8-10 kids each week (up from 3-4 this time last year) and it’s been a lot of fun coming up with projects to do. Two weeks ago, just before Christmas, we painted salt dough ornaments that they cut out the week before, then we decorated gingerbread houses that I had pre-made (I hot-glued graham crackers into a house design – worked MUCH better than that silly royal icing that dries in, oh, 3 weeks, as you sit holding the walls and roof with your hands). Doodlebug Club continues to be the best part of my week. Lots of good practice for dad-hood. 🙂
One new hobby that has been a very good distraction for me is quilting. I mentioned in a post last summer that I had made a quilted picnic blanket – my first quilt. It was really more of a blanket than a quilt, but it was pieced and it was quilted, so I think it still counts. But I hadn’t attempted anything else for a few reasons: first, I figured that quilting took a lot more skill than I possessed; second, I perceived a fair amount of snobbery over quilts that weren’t done entirely by hand – as if they weren’t “authentic” or something; and third, guys don’t quilt.
But since August, I’ve gotten over all three of those issues. First – I started with an easier quilt with piecing that wasn’t terribly involved and with an idea for quilting that I figured I could handle. Second – sure it’s great to do things by hand, and I might try it some day. Mine were made using a sewing machine, which is, arguably, still done by hand, if you consider how much tugging and pulling and holding and so forth that one’s hands must do in order to quilt on a regular-sized machine. Third – ha. From what I’ve been able to read, most hopeful dads don’t write an adoption blog, either. But here I am.
So, want to see the quilts? Well, you can only see three – the fourth was a Christmas present for an unnamed faithful reader of this blog – and I forgot to take photos of it. Oops.
Since I got a little snap-happy with quilt photography, I’ll divide this post into three (one quilt per post) so as to not overwhelm.
Here’s my first real quilt, made for the Littlest (of course!), and completed in August 2014.
I used this blog post for the idea and for specific measurements, but I made a few changes and personalized it a bit. It was a simple pattern to follow and to piece, so it was a good choice for my first quilt. I really liked the fabric, with its bees and strawberries and clover and frogs. It’s from a collection by Heather Ross called Briar Rose and decided to pair it with a very summery and Irish-looking green and white.
I didn’t want to do the all-over cross marks like the person who made the quilt in the original post did, so I settled on a version of outline / shadow quilting, inside the squares. Then I decided the white spaces needed something, so I decided to add double lines in the white sashing between the squares and four shamrocks, one at each intersection.
Here’s a close-up of my first attempt at free motion quilting – the little shamrocks 🙂 Why I thought I’d try free motion quilting on my very first quilt…well, I do like a challenge…
My dad loved telling tales about Billy Bullfrog, so when I saw this fabric (above), that’s the first thing I thought of when making the Littlest’s first quilt.
I used a shamrock / clover flower print on the back (above), piecing it with other fabric from the same collection. This picture is from a sunny fall afternoon – the quilt isn’t really this see-through!
And, because my quilting grandmother believed in always signing your hard work:
Can’t tell you how happy I’ll be to have some little someone crawling around on this quilt, or turning it into a cape, or a parachute…
Coming soon – quilt #2…
In the meantime, we’re excited about the possibilities that 2015 might bring our way! We hope you and yours have a very happy New Year!