sonahoodie

Another whole month has gone by and I don’t really know what I’ve done. Mostly, I’ve been watching this girl grow and change at a rapid pace, alternating between feeling completely competent and utterly useless, and still — still! — trying to wrap my head around the fact of her existence. Maybe it’s because I’m a much slower learner than other people seem to be, but it always takes me a good long while to get used to a new situation. I finally feel like I’m just settling into this totally different life.

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I turned 30 at the end of May and to be honest, felt exactly the same as before. Last year I had planned a big birthday party and ended up cancelling it because I was super-duper grouchy and not wanting to be around people (I later figured out that this maybe have been related to early pregnancy hormones or maybe I was just being a pill). This year I really did want to celebrate with friends and family, so we threw a super-classy barbecue where we forced people to bring their own meat and mostly just bought sides from Costco. There was also this delicious cake from the Lighthouse Cake Company, probably my favourite bakery on the island. It was supposed to feed 50 but it fed, um, maybe 25?

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gingersona

The absolute best part of my birthday was a surprise visit from my friend Julie and her daughter Elyse, who was born just three weeks before Sona. Mark had allegedly gone out to a business meetup, then called when he was around the corner, saying that he’d picked up a surprise and would I please go hide in my office. I went in there, and when given permission to come out, I was cursing the dog for barking and waking up the baby, plus wearing my most voluminous muumuu and no bra. I kind of stared blankly at Julie for a second and then started screaming. It was the best thing ever. My heart felt so full and I was so indescribably happy — for her company, then for her husband’s (he came out two days later with [way-too-good-for-me] Sauternes, because he knows I love them), but most of all for the opportunity for Sona and Elyse to meet for the first time.

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They don’t live in the some city, or even the same province, but my dearest hope is that they’ll grow up together and have a friendship even half as strong as mine and Julie’s. I value it so highly and I want Sona to have a Julie, or a Liz, or a Heidi. I am so lucky that I have those three and many more besides.

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Life is slowly starting to return to normal, or at least a new version of normal. The weather here has been glorious, and we’ve been getting out a lot. This past Saturday we checked out the first farmers’ market of the year, and I picked up some amazing technicolour dream eggs.

colouredeggs

farmersmarket

I’m finally getting back into my office and starting to sew again. It feels so good to be doing that. To be honest, I thought I might never feel creative again; those first three months were just so all-consuming that I couldn’t imagine being able to make time for my little business. However, I’m very happy to report that I am slowly finding both the time and the impetus to make things again. This probably matters to no one else but me, but it does feel important. I already know I want Sona to grow up seeing both Mark and me taking time for ourselves to do things we love.

Speaking of things I love:

sonasmile

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And one more extra-dumb one for good measure:

beards

Back sooner rather than later, with a recipe round-up and hopefully some exciting news!

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sonagirl

I haven’t blogged in well over a month and I haven’t made anything remotely crafty in well over two. At the moment, my whole life is composed of dipe-dipes (diapers) and chub-chubs (Sona) and fat-fat (Luka) and coming up with stupid words for things, and sometimes frantically making and eating cookies.

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I had done so much intensive research about labour and birth and somehow didn’t really read much about the actual business of, you know, being entirely responsible for the life of a small human being. But really, even if I had, there’s no way I would have been able to comprehend how completely all-consuming it is. I feel like I’m just starting to emerge from the sleep-deprived haze of the last ten weeks, and finally beginning to understand and accept how drastically life has changed.

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To be completely honest, there are times when I really mourn my old carefree life. I’d always heard people say that raising kids was the hardest work they’d ever done, and I’d kind of dismiss it, or not even really think about what they meant, but now I can say with all certainty that there is no truer statement. She’s only ten weeks old and I already feel like I’ve been tested in so many ways. There have been nights that ended up with all three of us crying simultaneously, while the poor dog slips away to his bed and probably curses his woeful situation. There have been moments when I felt like my heart was breaking wide open, and I can feel myself resisting that, because it is so scary to feel that vulnerable and I know I have so much at stake now. There have been days when I’ve just thought, “Man, this is really, really boring” and wished for time to go faster, and then immediately felt guilty because everyone says to just enjoy it now because it does all go so fast and I know I’ll look back on this intense period of my life and wish I had been more present.

 sonasmile2

I know that we are actually blessed with a very easy baby, for the most part. She’s not always a great sleeper (neither is her dad), but over the past few weeks we’ve all been working really hard at it. I am the kind of idiot who has literally fallen asleep on the back of a motorcycle while speeding over pothole-strewn roads in Vietnam, so it is hard for me to relate to this. I just close my eyes and sleep, easy-peasy, no big deal.

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She’s really started to smile and laugh and coo and respond to us in the last couple of weeks, and that makes all the difference in the world. For example, I no longer believe that she solely thinks of me as a giant floating boob! The other night I was nursing her at 3 a.m., underneath her tree, and she looked up at me and broke into a huge grin, and I was so happy I thought I would burst. I am self-aware enough to recognize the complete cheesiness of that statement, but I swear it’s true.

sonasmile

Luka is mostly indifferent towards her, though he does give her a sniff and/or lick every once in a while. He’s just such a giant baby himself that I don’t think he’s capable of being especially protective or fond of her. She’s sleeping in her own room now, though, which probably helps. He does push her door open when she’s sleeping and he’s making his rounds of the house, determining that we’re all where we’re supposed to be. That might be as good as it gets with him, though.

lukacouch

I’ve been making a list of all the things we’ve been eating and reading, and I’ll post that next time. I’m starting to feel like myself again, slowly but surely, though definitely a different version of myself — one who sleeps half as much, does laundry three times as often, and loves infinitely more.

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Whew! That was an unexpectedly long break. I have a good excuse, though:

sona6

Sona Grace Garrison was born on March 7, 2014, after 28 hours of labour and the complete disruption of our plans for a home birth. She was a week overdue, which at the time seemed excruciatingly long, but now I’m so glad I got ALL THAT EXTRA SLEEP. I think of it so fondly now.

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I’m still processing the whole experience, and know I will be for a long time. I’m still in shock that I’m someone’s mother, that we made her and I grew her and now I feed her and she’s really here. I know these are such clichéd, mundane observations, but it’s really all I think about these days, along with where my next meal’s coming from, because I am eating like a crazy person (but so is she).

sona2

Shortly after I gave birth, I was lying in bed thinking about how even though I planned and prepared for the birth I wanted and it didn’t go that way at all, I was still completely content with my birth experience because I felt so cared for and supported. I had the most amazing midwives, doula, and Mark was a total champ. I completely abandoned my ingrained never-nudeness (despite once asking Mark if he thought it was possible to give birth with underwear on) and I only snapped once, when Mark innocently tried to eat a banana right next to my face. A few days after having Sona, I was reflecting on my labour and tried Googling “feeling proud after giving birth”. Such few results came back, and all of the suggested searches were things like “feeling sad after giving birth”, “feeling disappointed after giving birth”, etc. I don’t want to discount anyone who has those feelings, but I’m so grateful that I have such positive feelings about how it went.

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The baby is yummy and scary and we’re all just figuring things out together. We have an amazing support network, and still there are times when it is terribly overwhelming, but then she does something fantastic like make this ET-ish face and we fall further in love with her.

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Her first name is the Hindi word for “gold”, and we settled on it fairly early on. Her middle name is for Mark’s mom, although to be 100% honest, I have wanted to use Grace as a middle name since well before I met Mark, so it was also a happy coincidence.

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Mark is now freelancing, which is the greatest blessing. I honestly don’t think I could do this without him, though I know I’d figure it out if I really had to. I have a million more things to say and no words yet, so I’ll leave you with this sweet face; my little lady, my golden girl.

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babydress3

When we found out we were having a girl (something I won’t fully believe until the baby comes out of me), I was mostly surprised and a little bit terrified. However, I was very, very happy that I would get to use all of the beautiful baby clothes my grandmother sewed for me. I’ve mentioned this before, but she is an amazing seamstress, far more precise and skilled than I’ll ever be, and I have bags and bags of handmade dresses and sweaters and pinafores, many of them smocked, knitted or embroidered with such skill that it blows my mind. I should have ironed these before I took pictures, but I never iron anything so I didn’t want to falsify information on my blog.

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There are tons of embroidered and smocked dresses like the ones you see above, ranging in size from newborn to about six-seven years old. There are stacks of the sweetest pinafores, though they are impossibly small and baby will have to have several costume changes a day to get through them all.

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As stated above, I am nowhere near the seamstress my grandmother is, and probably never will be, but I did want to make a few things for the baby myself. I had never done any type of garment sewing before, and the thought of it has intimidated me for years — patterns, sewing on curves, finishing seams, BLECH. I just always assumed it was never an attainable skill for me. Have I mentioned I’m a total optimist? Guys, it turns out it’s not that difficult, ESPECIALLY baby clothes which are tiny and usually boxy because babies don’t need fitted things.

jumper

This crossover pinafore is the first garment sewing I ever attempted, and it was mind-blowingly easy, because the instructions were crystal-clear. I’m sure there’s some way you could even make it reversible but the logistics of that confused me (mostly just the button placement) so I didn’t try. I love it because it can go from a dress to a top as she grows up. Trying this really simple thing first gave me a lot more confidence to branch out to this peasant dress:

heartpocketpeasantdress

There’s a free pattern available for this dress for newborns 0-3 months, but I would highly, HIGHLY recommend purchasing the pattern with sizes from newborn to 6 years, which also includes options for a top or dress, and straight or scalloped edge. I LOVE THIS DRESS. So easy to customize in any way you want (embroidery, appliqué, pockets, etc.) and such a confidence-booster.

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This is the same dress with an iron-on transfer from this embroidery book, which took about two hours in total, including embroidery time.

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..and the same pattern again, with added pockets and scalloped edge.

newbornwrapshirt

This newborn wrap-style shirt is from the Purl Bee blog, one of my favourite sites for free patterns. When we were in New York on our honeymoon, we went into the Purl Soho brick-and-mortar store, and I wandered around in a deliriously happy daze for a few minutes. I couldn’t afford anything in there, but it was the most beautiful place in the world.

babypants

The baby pants are from the same blog, though I hurried through these so they’re not as neatly finished as I would have liked. I might try making another pair with a drawstring waist instead. Though maybe that’s somehow dangerous for a baby? I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ANYTHING, YOU GUYS.

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Here’s another pair of baby pants that sewed up quickly and to which I added elastic at the cuffs, just because. Again, I wonder if these might end up being loose around the waist, so next time I might either cinch them a bit tighter or use a drawstring instead.

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These hooded kimono wrap jackets may be the cutest things ever, and though I had never sewed with jersey, this blog post really cleared some things up for me. Basically I just switched to a ballpoint needle and it was fine.

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I’ve made a lot of appliquéd onesies, but this one is my favourite. We might put this phrase on her birth announcement. Have I mentioned that Mark is a redhead?

I also whipped up a few bibs (think I just Googled “bib template” and worked from there)…

bibs

…and a few of these super-easy pacifier clips (though I made them shorter than the tutorial called for because of strangulation risks)…

pacifierclips

..and finally, this oversized baby quilt. I’ve made a lot of blankets and quilts for her, mostly just to kill time. I’m working on my first entirely hand-quilted quilt right now, but I go so terribly slow that she might be a teenager by the time she receives it. For this one I just sewed a bunch of triangles together into patches, and then I had them up on my basting board in the order I thought I wanted, then Mark came into my office and started switching them around and we ended up with this sort of parallelogram thing. Hey, that’s the first time I’ve used that word since junior high, probably! I like that we both worked on it together. Also, I know this is the girliest fabric ever, but I have so damn much of it.

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I just quilted diagonal lines — it took less than an hour to quilt — and when she’s born, I’ll sew on a little patch with her name and birth date on it.

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This nesting period has been so delicious. I know I won’t have time to be doing a lot of this when she’s here, and I also know that second baby will probably get nothing (Mark and I are both youngest children, so we’ll be able to sympathize). I have a few more things I’d like to make, but I’d also be very happy if she showed up tomorrow. Which is totally possible. Which is terrifying.

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crib

When Mark and I were getting married, waaaaay back in 2010, I remember a lot of people asking us what our “theme” was, and I’d always stare blankly and be like, “uhhh…marriage?”. We really didn’t have a theme, or specific wedding colours; it was more a slightly batshit crazy amalgamation of whatever stuff we liked (mason jars! the Jeopardy theme song!) and whatever, it all kind of went together or maybe it didn’t, but we were surrounded by stuff that was important to us.

Putting together the baby’s room has been a similar process — we don’t have dominant colours, or an animal theme, or matching…well, anything, but it’s been a labour of love in ways I can’t even fully describe. Almost everything in the room is handmade, either by us or someone we love. We don’t have a diaper genie, or a fancy crib (so far we’ve bought every single item for this baby secondhand, with the exception of the stroller/carseat combo), but everything in there was made with so much love and excitement and anticipation.

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This print was the first thing I purchased after finding out I was pregnant. It’s classy, it’s timeless, you’d have to be a monster to not love it.

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The mobile pattern came from Etsy, and I also purchased the fabric panels so that putting it together would be nice and easy. I made it in one gloriously lazy day spent on the couch, and it was such a fun, satisfying project to work on.

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I had a several-day stint of making baby shoes, which are really kind of stupid and impractical but OH MY GOD SO CUTE. From left to right: Felt baby shoes, baby shoes pattern from Etsy, felt baby booties from this shop (can’t find the specific listing, but there are tons of shoe patterns available).

lambsoftie

This lamb softie was really quick to sew up and the only thing I would change would be to use the same grey felt for her body as well.

 maggierabbits

Of all the things I’ve been making for baby (another post of clothes is forthcoming), I think these Maggie Rabbits have been my favourite. I love all of Alicia’s patterns (I currently have about four of her projects on the go) but these might be my very favourite. They’re completely handstitched (except for the clothing), and the perfect project for a rainy day. I’m not going to lie; baby might not actually get to keep these ones. These might just be for me.

There are many other things I could show you, like the beautiful shelves Mark made to fit into a very oddly-shaped, specific spot, or the rapidly-growing collection of baby quilts, but here is the thing I love most about the room. It’s a bit bizarre and out-of-place, but we made it together and I love it so much. Behold baby’s tree:

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There’s an owl to watch over her

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and several well-hidden birds as well.

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There are leaves cut out of old children’s books

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and gauzy Bodhi leaf lights.

leaflight

I’m not sure where the idea came from — though I think Mark was the one who suggested it — but working on this together was so much fun. The “trunk” is PVC piping wrapped in burlap, and the branches are cut from a huge twisted filbert tree from the front of our house that we let dry out for a few weeks and then attached to the PVC with screws. There’s a wooden mount at the back of the tree securing it to the wall on two sides, so little missy can’t pull it down when she’s having a tantrum. I know that when Mark and I look back on this pre-baby, nesting time, some of our fondest memories will be of putting this tree together, talking about how we want her to feel like it’s a little bit magical in there. In the wintertime, maybe we’ll hang snowflakes from the branches. Next fall, perhaps we’ll find an old bird’s nest to place up high in the tree. Mark might make a little squirrel to peek out from behind the trunk. We can adapt it any way the three of us want. I anticipate many nights nursing her underneath her tree, trying to stay awake and thinking about how seven and a half years ago, I walked into a coffee shop to meet someone, and now here she is.

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