Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Time Marches On

Sometimes I wonder where the days go. Yesterday was one of those days that's busy, yet I really didn't get all that much accomplished. My walk was split in two, an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, which broke up the day even more (though was quite enjoyable.) I had practice in the evening and came home to most of our kids, plus a couple of extras, watching the Cubs game and they had saved me a seat. Usually when the kids have friends over I make myself scarce and just check in with them occasionally, but with new romances left and right in our house we have young people who want to get to know us (and vice versa) and want the chance to make good impressions.

I hand quilted for a bit, but this outer border is giving me fits. It's so hard to see the markings that I really need to re-mark it but I'm having trouble with the white pencils that I'm finding in my sewing room. They are NOT wanting to mark the fabric well enough and the one that I normally use seems to have gone AWOL.

I do have a wonderful little zip pouch that I keep my marking pencils and sharpeners in, but, in an effort to organize my sewing room, I put it somewhere for safekeeping. Particularly safe for the pencils it seems because if I cannot use them, they will remain intact!

I'm babysitting this afternoon and will have to get dinner ready while he's here. Tonight is the last Awana night and it's Awards Night so I will be packing up Ruthie right after dinner to go watch Lucas receive his awards.

And, of course, there are sinkloads of dishes (I do dishes at least 3 times a day,) a couple of loads of laundry to be done, the ever present straightening and picking up and assorted kids demands (one of the more pleasant distractions of the day!)

I'm having trouble coming up with a plan for the day so I guess that means it's a "wing it" day. I know what chores have to be done and will do those as time and energy permit. In and among the chores will be finishing the next set of pincushion tops (35 of them.) Ideally I'd like to see them ready to stuff by the end of the day, but with all else we have going on I don't know if that will happen. I think I'll run out of sand before this set is done as well, so a bag of white sand will be on my list for shopping tomorrow. I LOVE pincushions and have some more patterns for them, perhaps a bucket full of sand waiting to be used will motivate me (I store my sand in a 5 gallon bucket courtesy of my husband, who empties them of cleaning solutions on a regular basis!)

I'll also do some handquilting on the next topper. And try to find the marking pencil that will mark so I can see the lines! I'm anxious to get this quilt done now, and I really need to get quilting on the album quilt as well.

I'm not getting anything done sitting here, so off I go.
Happy Quilting!
Sue and Ruthie

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday Madness

I'm hoping to get a lot accomplished today. Saturday night I finished the first dozen pincushions. This morning I started stuffing and shutting 17 more. I think I'll get another batch going as well.

I finally basted the next topper and will probably start on the quilting today. I should also try to quilt a motif per day on the flower quilt so I can get it finished. Usually I'm really excited once I get to that outer border, but the markings are so hard to see that it's hard to get motivated to work on it. I may try to finish the next topper, too, as all I have left are the leaves and yo-yos.

I have dishes soaking in the sink, I have to do our business billing and some general straightening but other than the "usual" upkeep and a load or two of laundry I should be fairly free. Our older two play softball and with Ruthie getting older and a little more predictable I decided we'd go to as many games as we can...unfortunately today is cold and breezy and it's supposed to rain, so I'll be keeping her home in all likelihood this evening.

Ruthie loves her magnadoodle! She can often be found drawing on it and her scribbles are now more deliberate lines and shape looking objects. She's a little out of sorts this morning and right now is watching her favorite movie, I'm hoping that it helps her mood some and my smiling girl returns.

Our oldest daughter, Rebekah, is in cosmetology school Tuesday through Saturday each week. Friday is prom, so she is doing a test run on her sister's hair today, they are in the kitchen at the moment trying a new updo. She'll wash it out in a few hours because she doesn't want her boyfriend to see it before Friday, when we'll drive out to the school so her sister can do it for her for the big event.

So now it's time to run, I'm hoping to have most of the chores and work of the day finished by noon so I can concentrate on my sewing projects for the remainder of the day (well...when not making dinner and busy with the kiddos!)
Happy Quilting!
Sue and Ruthie

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Where to Start??

The events of the last few days have been mind-boggling. Much of it is almost too complicated to go into because without all the details one wouldn't get an accurate picture. Suffice it to say that both of our teenaged girls now have boyfriends and our oldest son is what I call "dancing around the edges" with a nice girl from church. They are clearly interested but not quite declaring themselves a couple.

In the midst of the craziness, I got a package in the mail. This came from Connie. She sent some adorable sewing cards for Ruthie and a wonderful pattern and lovely fq's for me. Thanks so much, Connie! The pattern is an interesting way to machine piece trapezoids so they make hexagons. I'm anxious to try it and will go through my fabric to see what I can find that will go with these to make this quilt.

The first dozen pincushions should be finished today and I'll maybe piece some more. This is the night my husband goes to bed early because of jobs early Sunday morning, so I often stay up and sew for a while in spite of having to get up for church in the morning. I'll see what's up with all of my kids and if I feel like handwork I may move to the family room and watch a movie. If I feel like machine work I'll stay in my sewing room and work on that.

Among the possible tasks for today is basting the next topper to be quilted (this is likely to happen) and also to baste the album quilt since I'm now quilting the outer border on the purple flower quilt. Basting the album quilt is less likely because it's seeming like a monumental task at the moment. That usually means I'm better off waiting until another day.

My husband, Ruthie, Lucas, and I may be taking a walk this afternoon to the Gigi's Playhouse grand opening. It's a Down Syndrome awareness center and we're going to see what they have to offer.

It will be one of those days that I call "nicely busy." Not a scheduled "I have a million things to do and not enough time to do busy", but my favorite kind of day. A list of things I enjoy to choose from and no real pressure to do any of them on this particular day.

And here is Ruthie, peeking around one of her new sewing cards.
Happy Quilting!
Sue and Ruthie

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Trying to Stay on Task

They say if you want something done, give it to a busy person. I think there is a lot of truth to that. I'm not good at just sitting. If I'm sitting down, I'm reading a book, making a list, doing some hand sewing, planning a new get the idea.

Yesterday I managed to finish the applique on the topper I was working on and start another. So far, I've been basting and quilting each right away and not starting another until I was finished with one, but I was in the middle of watching the Cubs game and was comfortable where I was. Since I had 3 toppers ready for applique, I just picked up the next one and kept going, which worked out great.

Our church is having a ladies spring luncheon. I rarely go to these things for several reasons. My walking partner of late is on the decorating committee and the theme is "Homemade Love" so they are wanting to decorate with quilts, flowers and other handmade items. I've been helping her figure out ideas for the tables, etc, and we're on a budget so it's been fun and challenging.

They were also hoping for some type of favor to put at each place as a momento of the luncheon. I told her about the pincushions I'd made for a guild prize several years back and she loved the idea. As they are filled with sand, they could be used as paperweights for any of the women who don't sew. If you look closely you can see the pattern printed on the paper.

I asked how many women they were expecting. 80 - 100 was the answer. The luncheon is now just over 3 weeks away, so I need to get busy! I found a pattern for a square in a square variation, and printed out 100 of them. While Ruthie played outside yesterday I sat on our porch trimming the edges of the patterns I'd already cut apart (I could fit 6 on a page.) I tried pulling fabrics but was having trouble deciding. The last I'd heard we were going with a variety of colors but were exluding red. My friend has since talked to someone who will make lovely little watering can and flower centerpieces for a reasonable price and the flowers will be pink, purple and yellow. With a smaller color palette to work with, it will actually be much easier to pull and choose fabric.

Since I love scrap quilts, it's very hard for me to throw out even small bits of fabric. I've gotten better as realistically to wade through tons of little pieces is not something I'm likely to do, so I try to keep them only if I really think they might be useful. One thing I have kept are the trimmings of backings, they were too big to justify throwing out and I figured they would be useful for background for smaller projects, scrap quilting and probably some uses that I hadn't yet discovered.

The pincushions are best lined because they are filled with sand. I can dig into my "whites and off-whites" box and cut the two 2 1/2 inch squares needed to line each pincushion from this array of "cast offs."

I'm about to head out for my morning walk. Today it's to the bank and a local grocery store, which will help cut down on my errand time when my husband arrives home with his van, sometime mid to late morning. Once the groceries are put away, there will be his lunch to make, his box lunch to fix for when he leaves for work, and some dishes I put off from last night because I was enjoying the baseball game too much. By the time all that is done, it will be just about time for my babysitting job to begin. Dinner needs to be made while he's here, but about 6:00 everyone is fed and where they are going for the evening and I should be able to sit and sew some. I'm hoping to at least get fabric pulled during all of this so I can begin cutting today. I don't often do machine work in the evening, but I'll have to see what tonight brings, I may be anxious enough to get these going that it will appeal to me.

Ruthie has made great strides this week. We walked to the park yesterday afternoon and the smaller children's equipment is in a big sandbox that has a step down into it. Up until now she mostly crawled up and down even small steps. This one was probably only about 5 inches. She sized it up and stepped down. Then crawled up. Then stepped down again. Then stepped up. She went up and down several times, quite pleased with herself.

She also walked a good part of the way home, and at a much quicker pace than I've seen her walk before. She was nearly at a run a few times, another of the skills we've been working on with her.

She looked outside later and saw my husband's van here (he rides a bike to his evening job when weather permits) and said "Dad home!" Both relatively new words in her spoken vocabulary.
The other day I looked out to see her reading my Chinese cookbook out on the swing, I believe she's making Dim Sum for dinner! Well, maybe she's not quite advancing that quickly, but the days of her sewing and cooking with me don't seem so far off.

I had planned to post this before the walk and just as I was about to submit it I deleted the picture by accident...just as I had to be walking out the door. So the walk is done, and I have a little time before my husband gets back, which means I can get the dishes done before shopping. This will ease up my day a bit. Perhaps I'll even have time to pull some fabric and get the cutting area set up before I go!
Happy Quilting!
Sue and Ruthie

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Quick Update

Whew! Things have been busy since my last post. I've added a nice walk to each day to try to get the weight loss going again. It's been very slow going since the holidays and I'd really like to get most, if not all, of the last 17 pounds off by the time our families come in August.

I'm NOT an early bird. While I'd love to get up at 6:30 and get my walking in before the day really begins here, that would quickly take it's toll as my husband works until 11 and we're rarely asleep before midnight. I had hoped to be one of those people who needed less sleep as they aged, but so far the opposite is proving to be true.

I'm doing some extra babysitting this week, and a 7 month old in the house means not a whole lot else gets done! I have found a couple of new projects I'd really like to start, and am poking around for a few more with all that beautiful background waiting for me. The next topper is nearly finished and I think that will be the project for the day. I don't want to run myself out of time at the end. I also need to baste the album quilt, which I might do tomorrow since I won't have to babysit at all.

For the moment, our walking time is 9am and we walk for about 2 hours, each day we plan the next, perhaps picking a new route (today we are walking to Walmart to check out decorations for a ladies luncheon at church and then will also walk the neighborhood some) or adjusting the time to meet the schedule of the day. We aim for walking all 5 weekdays. If, for some reason, my friend is unable to walk or we can't find a time that works for us both, I can always pop Ruthie in the stroller and she can walk with me that day.

While working on clearing out my cutting area (I tend to toss things there to get them out of the way) I found an old project I had pulled out a while back. There really was very little left to finishing the top so I decided to go ahead and do that rather than find somewhere to store it, still unfinished.

I still have some organizing to do in my sewing room. I try to do it often enough so that it is not too big or overwhelming of a job. It's also much nicer to work in there when it's organized!

So today the plan is to organize in the sewing room, finish the topper, prepare for basting the album quilt, and maybe even hand quilt a bit on the flower quilt, which has been sadly neglected with the warmer weather here. And of course the usual several sinks full of dishes, couple loads of laundry and various kid tasks and chats that occur throughout the day.

Comfortably busy and full of things that make me content, a lovely way to spend the day!

Happy Quilting!

Sue and Ruthie

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ruthie's Story

In some ways, Ruthie's story began many years ago because I think that God had been preparing me for her all along.

It began in earnest in March of 2004, a few months before my 45th birthday and just a few days from our 22nd anniversary...when I found out I was pregnant.

We thought we'd already had our "surprise" over 40 baby when Lucas was born almost 4 years earlier. We actually thought about another baby after him, so he wouldn't be alone at the end of the pack (he came 6 years after our 4th child) but after a couple of years I didn't get pregnant and, as I'm well versed on fertility statistics, I knew the chance were becoming slimmer and slimmer and we mentally moved on from the baby years. We were so certain we were finished, we canceled our maternity insurance, which cut $240 a month out of our tight budget.

My husband knew I was "late" and was asking about a friend who was also late and concerned she might be pregnant. When he asked if I was still late...and I nodded my head...he then asked if I was going to take a test. I actually already had, but it was very faint and I was going to re-test the next day, but there it was. I couldn't lie, so I told him I had, and it was positive.

After the initial look of shock, he put his head in his hands, shaking his head. A moment later he looked up laughing and asked "what are we going to sell?" If he had any doubts or misgivings after the initial momentary shock, I never knew about them.

All in all, the pregnancy was rather uneventful. I walked with the friend mentioned above almost daily, I actually lost weight. By midway I had to watch my blood pressure and my blood sugar, but neither posed much of a problem.

A borderline non-stress test, just days before her due date, had me in the hospital for a bio-physical profile, which is a very detailed ultrasound.. The technician spent a lot of time with the wand in one spot, looking at the screen. I was getting nauseous from being on my back with him pressing on my belly and his demeanor was making my skin crawl. Her score was 4 out of 10 and we were sent up to labor and delivery for an induction.

I was never so glad to be hooked up to those monitors and hear the heartbeat clicking away. There was apparently some mix-up and I was there all afternoon before the cervical gel was placed, at 6:30pm, to get me ready for an induction. I hadn't eaten since breakfast and now couldn't in case I needed a c-section to deliver the baby. I was starving, scared and stressed. The gel started some mild contractions and at about midnight, the baby wasn't reacting so well to them. The gel was removed, the contractions stopped and the baby stabalized. The surgical team was called and I was wheeled to surgery.

I was crying and shaking, afraid of surgery (both my mom and my sister had severe allergic reactions to meds post-op), and scared to death they wouldn't get the baby out in time. When the spinal didn't take right (I could still feel everything) I was put out and I woke up in a post-partum room, no husband or baby in sight.

I was barely conscious when I started asking about the baby. What did I have? Where was the baby? Is the baby ok? No answers. "I don't know, I'm here to take care of you." was the reply. I KNEW that was a lie. She had to know. It's a tiny hospital. I was sure my baby had died and they were waiting for the doctor to come and tell me. I could hear my husband, agitated out in the hallway, asking about me. It had taken a long time for me to come out of the anesthesia and he was nearly frantic by now.
They let him in and he walked up to my bed. "It's a girl, and she has Down Syndrome." I remember thinking, "Down Syndrome isn't dead. We'll deal" and being so incredibly thankful we hadn't lost our little girl.

They brought her to me shortly after. She was tiny and beautiful. She weight only 6lb 9oz, almost 2 1/2 pounds less than my previous baby. She was hooked to an oxygen tank and sound asleep when I first saw her. She had a head full of red hair. I was mesmerized by her.
I don't quite remember the order of some things, I do remember pretty quickly they told us about the hole in her heart. That's why she was on oxygen, though she was doing extremely well. They had brought my husband to look through the surgery doors when she was first born and he said she was screaming her head off and her arms and legs were going like crazy. Her apgars were 9 and 10, almost unheard of for a baby with Down Syndrome, especially considering the heart defect. The doctors were laughing because she'd settle for a minute, then that bottom lip would stick way out and she would begin screaming all over again. It was a look we grew accustomed to as it usually proceeded a cry when she was startled.

This was the only time I got to see her in my room, but it was the middle of the night and the floor was not busy so they brought her to me, the nurse had to stay because of the oxygen. By afternoon that day I was walking to the nursery to be with her.

This is her first bed in the nursery. They wouldn't let me pick her up because of all the wires. It looked much scarier before they explained what everything was. Most of it was monitors. She had oxygen and later a feeding tube in her nose for a couple of days, until she could figure out the suck/swallow/breathe pattern needed to eat.

I cried a lot. Afraid because of the heart defect, missing my baby terribly as I'd never had to be without my new babies like this before. I felt like they didn't want me in there with her and I desperately needed to be with her.During the night she was moved to this bed, which was a "step up." She was out of the special care nursery and in with the regular isolettes. Her doctor had come in and told us he'd left orders that my husband and I could be with and hold her any time, day or night, as long as we wanted, and if there were any problems we should contact him.

She spent a couple of days in a bili-bed, the only time she could be out was for feedings. I went for every feeding and the nurses often were conveniently busy when the feeding was over so I could hold her a little longer.
I'm sure they must have thought we were the nutty old couple with the crazy hours. My husband was working two jobs. He had taken a second full time job, mostly for the insurance (which unfortunately didn't kick in until after her birth) so he worked until 11pm. He'd stop on his way home to see us for about an hour before he headed off to bed.
Here is the first time I saw her without tape and tubes on her face. I could hardly wait to get her home at this point. She was born at 1:30am Tuesday morning and Friday night I was discharged. She would have to be able to keep her O2 sats up to 90% consistently before she could come home. The monitors can drive you crazy after a while. I noticed every little blip and variation and much of that happened when I held her, probably more because the wires were being moved than any physiological change, but it was still disconcerting.
Saturday morning I stayed home with the other kids, and around noon went to spend the afternoon at the hospital. I had called in the morning and they said she was off of the oxygen, but by noon she was back on again. I stayed until dinner, went home to have dinner with the family and then both my husband and I went back for a few hours in the evening.

I arrived the next morning to this:
No oxygen, no hat to help her keep her temperature. All traces of tape were gone and she'd been without it long enough that even the red marks were gone. I sat in the rocker by her bed, just watching her sleep. The numbers on the monitor were good and they were nice and steady. The neo-natal doctor happened to be in there working on paper work and told me it was ok to take her out. I told him I knew, but that the monitors looked so good I didn't want to rock the boat. He laughed and told me she'd be going home that day, to go ahead and pick her up. I quite happily obliged.

My husband had just dropped me off at the hospital and had gone on with the kids to church, He wouldn't even be coming back for a couple of hours or so, the plan was that he would bring the kids home after church and then join me for a few hours in the afternoon at which time we'd figure out the rest of the day. I had no way to tell him we were coming home. I could hardly wait for him to get back!

The discharge process takes forever, by the time we were ready to leave it was about 3:00. I don't think I've ever dressed a baby so quickly in my life, I couldn't wait to get out of there. How excited the kids were when we arrived home with her! They had seen her only a couple of times through the nursery window, once from a distance the first day in the original bed and the other the night I went home. I helped bathe her, then fed her before we left and they weighed her right in front of the window and held her up for the kids so see up close. They all quite eagerly took turns holding her. Our oldest son was on a hunting trip and wouldn't be home until the next day, but the rest of us spent the entire day Sunday camped out in our bedroom. It was so good to be home!

The nurses were incredible. A couple of them would whisper to me how they "fought" at each shift change over who would get Ruthie to care for. They went out of their way to make things easy for me and to get me answers when I was having trouble asking the right questions. Though the week seemed interminable and stressful and scary at the time, I look back on it fondly now, in large part due to the wonderful care we both received.

She arrived home the Sunday before Thanksgiving. For the next couple of weeks we had to see the pediatrician every few days to have her weight and O2 sats checked. When we'd gotten through those first couple of weeks without incident, those visits weren't necessary.

Our pediatrician at the time was also a pediatric cardiologist, so he handled the first tests to find the extent of her defect. It was decided that this was not something that had to be fixed immediately (at first, there was talk of correction before she ever came home) and we could wait until after New Year's, when our new insurance would then be active.

We took her in that first week of the new year and soon after learned they wanted to do the surgery in early April. The hospital where the surgeon is was about an hour away so there was no going back and forth, I couldn't have left her there anyway. We were told she could be in for 7-10 days and to plan accordingly. Her surgery was Wednesday morning and I think Tuesday and Wednesday were two of the most stressful days I've ever had to endure.

We had been well prepared for what to expect when she came out and they explained all the tubes and wires.

I was told to expect setbacks, that often heartrates or blood pressure went a little wonky and they'd give meds and it would settle down again. She didn't have any. Her surgery was Wednesday morning and we were discharged on Friday morning. We ended up having to hang out in a room all day because we didn't expect to be going so early and my husband couldn't get there until 9pm.

Here she is on Saturday, only 3 days after open heart surgery.
Here are some pictures from our vacation in North Carolina, just a few months later.

And here are a few more current pictures.

Ruthie is doing incredibly well. In spite of the warnings that her health might be precarious (people with DS are prone to ear and respiratory infections, and a myriad of other difficulties, health-wise) she has been very healthy. She's only had a couple of colds and a short bout with the stomach flu, none of which required doctor visits.

Her fine motor skills are excellent, her gross motor skills are good. Right now we're working on running and jumping. Her speech is slow, but she knows enough sign language to get across what she wants and in the last few weeks has been attempting words much more often, using the ones she knows more regularly and often responding verbally instead of signing, which are all very encouraging. Her receptive language is excellent, it's clear she understands most, if not all, of what is said to her and around her.

There is probably much more here than there needed to be, yet I feel so much was left out. I hope that this gives those interested a sense of what absolute joy she brings to us all.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

An Immeasurable Blessing

Well, actually it is the yard! I received a box in the mail on Thursday that I could barely lift to get into the house. I gasped when I opened it as this is what I found.

The box was stuffed full of lovely background fabric and a few pieces so pretty I may just work a quilt around them. Each appears to be about 5 yards (I measured a few of them and they all appear to be about the same size) and there are 19 cuts. These were sent to me by the same lovely lady who sent the patterns a magazines a few weeks ago and I'm awed by her thoughtfulness and generosity.

One piece is perfect for the backing of my parents' album quilt and, as I have the batting here for that, I can now baste whenever I'm ready. Once I get to the borders of the flower quilt, I will baste the album quilt so it is ready to go.

As I "inventory" my quilts in the works, I'm also daydreaming of a few new tops. With the toppers well under way and the album quilt ready to be basted, I'm not feeling so pressured, time-wise, about finishing in time for the party. The party projects will be top priority, but small breaks to spend on other things will not pose a problem.

Poor Ruthie is having an "off" day today. I think she is just tired and is in my lap right now, something that is rare during the daytime hours. I plan to post her story on Monday or Tuesday. I need a block of time to do it justice and I think I finally have the time.

Our van is being worked on today, we are praying that there are no other problems found along the way and that he is able to do the work safely and accurately. He seems certain I will be shopping with my van on errand day this week.

Ruthie went a stretch of time where she didn't nap, but lately has been napping occasionally again. It seemed awfully quiet one day and when I went looking for her, this is what I found. She was curled up on her brother's bed with her baby for a little snooze.

And now I'll run. I would like to make as big a dent as possible in the quilting on the flower quilt this weekend...and won't get that done sitting here!

Happy Quilting!


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Keeping Our Fingers Crossed...and some quilting

Yesterday we waited not so patiently for a tow truck to take our van. Late Sunday afternoon, our daughter's friends came back to take another look. The verdict? Not the worst, but not good either. As one said "The good news is, it's the flywheel. The bad news is, it's the flywheel." He was able to hand crank the engine so we know it hadn't seized, which was the biggest worry.

My husband asked them if he could have it towed somewhere to make it easier for them to work on, and one of them has a heated, well-lit garage they use for working on cars so they were glad to have him do that.

While riding to the mall on Monday, we heard from one of them. He said it would be good if the van could be delivered between 4:30 and 5:00 on Tuesday. My husband called to make the arrangements, but afterward thought he made a mistake and said 3:30 to 4:00 to the towing company. No matter. By the time they arrived and got it hooked up, it would probably be close to 4:30 anyway, and our oldest son was going along to help push it into the garage. If the homeowner wasn't there yet, he could officially "take delivery" of the van at the other end.

4:00 came and went. No tow truck. I assumed that my husband gave them the correct time after all. 5:00 came and went. No tow truck. I texted my husband, who called the towing company. Apparently they lost the order or just forgot but someone would be out in 10 minutes. 20 minutes came and went. No tow truck. My husband had gotten a staticky message on his cell phone that he couldn't understand from the towing company so called me to see if they'd come yet. They hadn't. He called them, agitated by this time, then called me back. They said the tow truck got a flat tire, but it was fixed and they were on their way, they'd be here in 10 minutes.

My husband told me he gave them our home phone in case they got another flat tire, LOL, which did make me laugh, which made him laugh which was a good thing, he was pretty irritated by this time.

20 minutes later the tow truck arrived, and the rest of it went without incident.

Our driveway is completely empty at the moment, a rarity here. We've told the young men to take their time, we've been without it for this long, a few more weeks won't matter. We know the plan is to get it running this weekend, whether or not that happens remains to be seen. Then the brakes need replacing, which they've also agreed to do.

We are hoping the parts don't amount to too terribly much. While the total will be vastly smaller than if we had to take it somewhere, it will still be a pricy fix.

We're still not out of the woods, yet, but they felt pretty certain they can now solve the problems.

And now quilting! I've been reading some this last week so that eats into my quilting time, but I have 3 more toppers ready to applique and have started one of them. I will probably work on that mostly today, though will also try to fit in some hand quilting on the purple flower quilt. I'm getting anxious to get that one finished.

Since my machine is running again, I was anxious to use it and I finished the album quilt for my parents. This will be the next top to be quilted, hence the push to finish the flower quilt. I'm hoping to get batting for this tomorrow and will see if I have anything big enough for backing. I might have to wait until next week for that, but the flower quilt won't be done before then anyway.

The leaf block pieces are almost all basted, I have enough done to start doing some of the blocks, so I'll be working on that soon as well. I need to do a check again to see what projects are in the works and what the next steps are and I have a few other patterns marked in books and magazines that I may start doing prepwork on if I have fabric that will work.

It's a dreary day here, perfect for finishing up a few chores, then curling up with some handwork, which is exactly what I plan to do!
Happy Quilting!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Small Miracles

I had one today. I was greedily hoping for two, but the second seems not to be forthcoming.

The missing miracle was a fix to my van. A friend of my daughter's graciously offered to fix it for us, but so far has been unable to solve the problem. We are likely many weeks, if not months, away from affording a mechanic to fix it, so we're a little disappointed, though very grateful to this young man who has given up his Saturday afternoon to try to help us out. I don't believe he's given up, but will need to consult with another friend who has more training and experience. He had high hopes of getting it running and then moving it to his well-lighted and well-stocked garage to do the brakes.

I stayed up late sewing last night. I was working on the album quilt for my parents' anniversary. I made a nice dent in the blocks. I was thinking while I was sewing and knew that I'd have a good amount of time today and again tomorrow for sewing. I started to think about my poor, disabled machine that I've been missing so dearly. I had decided some time ago that I would try again to fix it before giving up and bringing it somewhere (again, a fix that would have to wait) and I decided last night that today would be the day.

I pulled it out of the rolling case it resides in when not in use and started going through the motions. I knew I had done everything I knew how to do the first time around and even tried to turn the knob a few times over the last 3 months to no avail

I plugged it in, heavy hearted, and tried to turn the wheel...which still wouldn't move. I pulled out the bobbin casing and stepped on the foot pedal, expecting the buzz that happens when the machine won't move and then the stop of the buzz that indicates the machine is protecting itself by disengaging. BUT, IT MOVED. The needle popped up and stopped. I gingerly stepped on the pedal and watched as the needle moved effortlessly up and down. Could it really be? With fumbling fingers I replaced the bobbin casing, put in a bobbin and threaded the machine and watched with glee as it sewed perfect stitch, the motor quietly humming along.

So, my baby is BACK and I'm a happy camper. I only have 5 more album blocks to make, I hope to finish those tonight. I'll probably wait until tomorrow to put it all together. I really need to try to get to bed at a decent time tonight as I have to sing tomorrow and that means dressing up more than I might on a Sunday and getting out of the house earlier for practice. I'm afraid if I start the assembly that I won't want to stop!

While I was busy sewing this afternoon, Lucas went outside with Ruthie, who was quite happy to be out. As the ground dries up she'll be out a lot more, but today, she was happy to be out for a little while and testing her skill on the slide in our yard. She quickly remembered how to maneuver up the steps and did this quite a few times, big brother closely behind her as she worked her way up.

We just got an update on our van, they've ruled out a few things but still feel hopeful they will get it running, maybe even this weekend, which would really be great. In any case, I'm thankful for these young men who so willing do for others in a day and age where selfishness abounds.

Here are the blocks that are finished so far, I'm hoping to post a picture of the finished top by tomorrow night!

Unfortunately the last van update isn't sounding so good, it could be a major mechanical problem which I assume isn't likely to be fixed sitting in our driveway. We could be van-less for quite some time, but so far we've managed to get where we need to go, I'm sure that will continue.

For now, I need to run, dinner is just about ready and I've said all I wanted to for today. This evening, I'll think positive thoughts and finish the last of my blocks.
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Quilting Update

As you can see, I've had a little bit of help. Thanks so much to Amy, a blogger recommended to me by Bren, she got my sidebar elements back to where they belong. I'll keep the new look for a while because I'm afraid to touch anything, LOL, and someday maybe I'll tire of it and get brave enough to try a new template!

And now for a quick quilting update. I've been keeping really busy lately and have hand quilted some on the flower quilt, finished the 5th topper and am cutting and readying freezer paper for 3 more. I hope to have the pieces ready for basting today, along with 3 more tops marked.

I had picked a pattern some time ago for the album quilt, but hadn't figured out fabric. I'd wanted to avoid going out to buy fabric if possible, for several reasons, but was having a hard time coming up with what I wanted to use. I had a piece out for another project that I found wasn't quite right and that has become the main piece for the album quilt. My first thought was to use one fabric, but I didn't think I had enough of this to do that, so it became the main fabric (13 blocks out of this one) and will be the borders and binding. There are 3 other fabrics going along with it. One of the blocks is already made, I did a test block to see if I really wanted to do 25 of these and if I thought they would work for what I wanted. It was actually quite easy and not terribly time consuming. It has a nice space in the middle for signing. I'm going to also bring along some nice sayings to fill in any blank spaces at the end of the party. I cut the fabric for the other 24 blocks, did the strip piecing and subcutting so that these are now well on their way. I made little "packets" with all the pieces for one block in each one, so it will be easy to keep track of what needs to be done. I hope to have the blocks finished by the weekend and maybe even have the top finished. My husband has a busy weekend, which usually means lots of extra free time for me. I will spend as much of that time quilting as I can, but if it's nice out I'm sure we'll take a couple of walks as well. We walked to the library this morning and even though it was a bit chilly, Ruthie loved it, so we'll be doing a lot more of it.

I can also now post the "Joyful" baby quilt that I tested for Tyanne as it's now published and posted on her website along with the many other beautiful patterns that she's designed.

I attempted to upload a video but for some reason it wouldn't process. I'll be trying that again another time, hopefully I can get that to work.

Our walk to the library set me back a couple of hours. I've got to get stew going and told the kids I'd make them a cake. I've got the Cubs game on and my grocery list is finished, so I can sew in the spare minutes that crop up for the rest of the day.
Happy Quilting!