Tuesday, September 20, 2016

On Finishing A Quilt And Not Being Ready For Baby

I think this might be my favorite baby quilt that I've ever made, and that is saying something because I really liked Margaret's flower garden quilt and I'm itching to start a twin sized one for her big girl bed.  I ended up hand piecing a bunch of nine-patch squares at random using scraps from John's baby quilt (as per his request so that they could match) with some bits of the boys' old shirts and daddy's old boxer shorts thrown in for good measure.  The boys like to pretend that this wanton use of undergarments horrifies them but I'm pretty sure they really think it's hilarious.   I say waste not, want not.  Am I right?  Then I laid them out on the floor to make sure the same fabrics weren't touching each other anywhere which I was not entirely successful at.  Unfortunately I'm a lazy quilter and was not about to pull it apart to fix it so the mistakes will just have to give the thing a bit more character.  I really like the way the perle cotton hand quilting turned out--especially on the back.  It totally makes up for the randomness of the front, don't you think?

Now, finishing up the baby's quilt probably should have been a clue that I might actually be having a baby soon.

It wasn't

Chris mentioned last week that it was just four weeks to go before the baby arrives to which I replied, "no, you're crazy" before checking the calendar and realizing that no, I'm the crazy one.  Now it's more like not quite three weeks until d-day and I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that I'm about to have another baby.

I did spend last weekend pretending this was actually happening and forcing myself to prepare basic baby necessities anyway.  I got all the 0-3 month baby boy clothes out and gave them a soak in ye old oxyclean to remove those pesky milk stains that like to manifest themselves sometime between when you laundered the clothes for the last time and whenever you opened back up the storage bin.  In this case that would be almost four years.  I also mended my favorite fancy muslin blankets which had become so worn with use that they had some pretty intense holes.  It was a rough job but what they lack in beauty they make up for in functionality.  Muslin is hard to mend.

My sister-in-laws also gifted us with two perfectly timed donations of cloth diapers, liners and other accouterments--one tiny baby sized and one giant baby sized which were exactly what I needed to resupply my sad, worn out diaper stash but didn't particularly want to spend the money on.  Which just goes to show that if you wait long enough to buy things that you need, something will eventually turn up.

So baby Christopher officially has milk-stain free clothes, some functional if obviously mended swaddling blankets, and plenty of diapers.  I suppose once I have Chris pull the infant car seat and my overnight bag down from the attic I'll be pretty much set to get to the hospital and care for basic baby needs.

Being mentally prepared to deliver and actually have another baby at home, that's another story.  At least he has a pretty adorable quilt.

Friday, September 16, 2016

On the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Yesterday was the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows and the parish where our little Frances was buried offered their annual Our Lady of Sorrows Mass for families who have lost children.   We made the hour long trek out to Holy Trinity even though I was pretty sure mass without Chris would be a disaster since Margaret hasn't made it through mass without needing to be escorted outside for months.  It was well worth it though, even if I did end up in the cry room with my screaming toddler and then the apple picking I dangled as a reward for attending mass after an hour long car ride plus another thirty minutes to the orchard lasted all of fifteen minutes before the bags were full and the children done. Kara, the woman behind a m.o.m.s peace, who literally buried many of those lost babies herself, was at the memorial mass and, as usual, was working tirelessly to bring comfort and peace to all the grieving families there.

When we lost Frances we didn't realize what an ordeal it would be to have her buried with some modicum of dignity.  When we lost our first daughter in Pennsylvania, our parish referred us to the funeral home owned by another parishioner and he just handled everything at no cost to us.  He said he always took care of babies for free.  He was even willing to fly her back to North Carolina where we wanted her to be buried at no cost to us.  We ended up having Chris' parents drive her down, but it was such a blessing to not have to worry about the logistics of anything on top of our grief.  I just assumed that that was how it was everywhere.   I was wrong.

Here in Virginia we were looking at either the cost of a full funeral which would have been several thousand dollars or letting the hospital "dispose" of our daughter's remains themselves.  Neither was an acceptable option.  We just needed a place to bury our baby and someone to help us figure out what to do to make that happen.  That's where Kara came to the rescue.  Kara knew the law, gave us moral support, offered prayers, and arranged the burial with Father Woude from Holy Trinity presiding and even provided baby blankets and a much more appropriate tiny casket than the tupperware container holding our daughter's remains that we left the hospital with.

Well, I didn't set out to write a pitch for this wonderful ministry, but losing a baby is difficult enough without dealing with all of the aftermath alone and seeing Kara again at this mass reminded me of how much she did for our family and so many others.   If you live in the Northern or Central Virginia area remember that  a m.o.m.s peace is here if you or someone you know needs them.  Or better yet, contact Kara and see how you can help.  Goodness knows she could use it.  

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Lego Party


David turns eight this week so naturally he wanted to celebrate with a Lego party.  We threw the standard Reintjes Family party involving a theme in which we could use mostly our old decorations, a homemade pinata, beer for the grown-ups, and pretty much no scheduled activities.

We brought down most of the boys Legos for everyone to play with and they were almost completely ignored.  Mostly the kids all ran rampant through the yard and house playing with various weaponry, Pokemon cards and eventually the opened birthday presents.  I think everyone had fun.

This year was fun because David was able to do a lot of help with the planning and execution of the party.  He put together the invitations, made Lego crayons for party favors with me and even took charge of the table decorations--which consisted of his Lego train and track and a big number eight.  He had very specific requirements for his cake, i.e. the same strawberry cake he always wants, which was tricky to bring into the Lego theme of it all, but we settled on a bunch of minifigures holding birthday candles.  It was pretty professional.

The whole party was pretty professional.  Or the opposite of professional, it's hard to say.

Either way, David had a really good day and that's the important thing, right?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

This Is My Dollhouse

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I grabbed this book at the library a while ago and it is so cute.  It's all about a little girl who builds her own dollhouse out of a cardboard box and other random bits of this and that and then compares her experience to that of her friend who has a "perfect" plastic store-bought dollhouse.  Spoiler alert:  they have more fun playing and creating things in the cardboard house.  It reminds me of my own dollhouse as a little girl and how I was always making things for it out of odds and ends.  Of course mine was not made of cardboard, but a lovely three story wooden Victorian but the sentiment was similar.  It's so much more fun to make things for your dollhouse than to just buy it all.

The kids love the book so much I think I may have to add it to Margaret's birthday list.  John just about burst into tears when I told him this is our last week with it from the library--we only have an eight week max before they make you bring things back :)

Now Margaret's new dollhouse isn't exactly made from cardboard either but I thought I'd share an update on the renovations in case you haven't been following along on her dollhouse's Instagram account.*

I wanted to giver her a dollhouse for her birthday, because clearly two is the perfect age for a first dollhouse, so I grabbed this little beauty on Craigslist for $15 without any of the furniture or people.  And by "I grabbed" I mean I sent Chris on a three and a half hour journey to pick it up along with the amazing patio furniture I also found for a steal that same day.  Both things needed a little sprucing up.  I tackled the dollhouse and Chris handled the actual furniture which in his words "was not in the best condition" to which I responded, "that's why it's in our price range."  It was all worth it.    I'm sure Chris would agree.

I might have gotten a little carried away with my sprucing.  Obviously the dollhouse needed paint and shingles, and a brick chimney, and wallpaper.....and popsicle stick shiplap,  I mean, what would you have done?  I did have to order some specially sized furniture on Etsy because apparently Melissa and Doug decided to make these fold and go dollhouses a completely different size than any other toddler dollhouse in existence.  The beds and little chair I found are adorable though and fit the little chipmunk family perfectly. I even went ahead and ordered the "diy special" so I could do all the bedding and upholstering myself.  Sewing dollhouse bedding is surprisingly satisfying.  Well, dollhouse crafting in general is satisfying.  I would do it all day if these children didn't keep needing things like being fed and bathed and homeschooled.

I'm almost done but I'm still trying to decide if it's lame to have a dollhouse with no kitchen in it.  I could make something out of wooden blocks, or order an actual wooden kitchen and just use the parts that fit, or I could do no kitchen and put in a cute little fireplace I saw at the craft store for three dollars. I was also considering making a felt play mat similar to this to go with it since I have a giant sheet of green felt in my basement that someone passed on to me a while back.  That might be a bit ambitious though.  Ambitious but adorable.

Besides the great kitchen decision of 2016, I have a few little things I still want to put together before the little miss is presented with my masterpiece and I have to give over control of my house to a newly minted two year old.  Every time I pull it out to work on it though, the boys immediately swoop in and commandeer it for their own.  It would be precious if I didn't have things that need to be done.  Those tiny pictures aren't going to frame themselves, am I right?

I think the main draw is the stash of dollhouse accessories from my childhood that I've managed to save.  They love to put them all in and rearrange and rearrange and rearrange some more.  I totally understand the appeal but I'm going to simplify what very tiny things are in the dollhouse anyway and pack most of them up for when Margaret is old enough to have an actual, real, hopefully three story Victorian, dollhouse of her own to work on--with me--you know, if she's into that sort of thing, which I may or may not be desperately hoping that she is.

No pressure sweetie.

What do you think?  Kitchen, no kitchen?  Play mat?  She might really need the play mat.  And don't fret, I'm sure I'll have at least one more update with the whole completed work of art once it's totally finished.  Well, as finished as a diy dollhouse ever is.

*Don't judge me, making dollhouse Instagram accounts is a completely normal thing to spend my time doing.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

On Getting Away

Last weekend Chris and I went away for the weekend and I managed to leave my actual camera behind and return with just one picture on my phone that really doesn't do our destination justice.  We went to Solomans Island, which is on the water.  This is a cornfield. With some cars.  

It really was a beautiful place though.  All boardwalk and crab cakes and old men singing Jimmy Buffet songs.

Before you get too jealous of our escape from the children I'd just like to point out that this was the first time Chris and I have gone away together since 2007 when his ship pulled into St. Augustine and I drove down to meet him for a couple of days--before we had children.  You might say we were overdue.

Elizabeth offered to come and watch the children so we could get away and I'm pretty sure on her way out she said something about how wonderful it was and how well behaved my children are and how absolutely no one pooped all over themselves, their sheets and everything in between their bed and the bathroom.  Absolutely no one.  You know, just in case any other family members were thinking of offering their services.  Of course I might have still been coming down from our post alone-time high so I can't be held responsible if I'm not remembering her exact words.,,,,,

We spent the weekend at an adorable bed and breakfast situated right behind the local Catholic church eating in restaurants where no one was yelling at me, walking along beaches where I was completely unconcerned with the potential of anyone drowning, and perusing little stores along the way where no one asked me approximately one hundred times if we could leave already.  We also got to have the fun of watching strangers' reactions when they asked if this was our first baby and we got to say that no, actually it was our fifth.

It was pretty amazing.

Especially the part where no one was yelling at me.

It's the little things.

Now we're home and I'm feeling very rested and recharged.  Well, I suppose as rested and recharged as a very pregnant person can feel.  Hopefully it won't be another nine or so years before we can sneak away for a couple of days again.  I could certainly get used to this whole taking vacations thing.
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