Monthly Archives: January 2015

Christmas In The Park

I finally finished the Christmas quilt I’ve been working on since late December.  The pattern is from the book Quilt a New Christmas by Piece o’ Cake designs.  I first saw the book shortly before I got pregnant with B, and I was determined to make this quilt.  However, I was too tired and sick to do it while pregnant, and it got put on the shelf for about a year.   To be honest, I’d lost some of my enthusiasm for the project over the last few months, but I was determined to check it off my to-do list and also to have a somewhat serious go at applique.

It turned out to be a lot of work.  As you can see from the photo, there are dozens of individual pieces of applique.  Each circle on the middle tree, for example, is a separate piece of applique.  Each piece had to be traced, cut out, ironed onto the applique fabric, cut out again, ironed onto the main quilt fabric, edge stitched, and then quilted.  I did the edge stitching and quilting in the same thread color as the applique pieces which meant eight or more thread changes first when edge stitching and then again when quilting.

It’s hard to tell from the photos, but the quilt is very densely quilted.  I more or less copied the quilting done in the book, and it was a lot of work.  For example, each individual red and green stripe is quilted.  Each house, roof and tree is quilted.  The large red and white patterned areas are densely quilted.  It took several hours of quilting to get it all done.

I should take some more pictures of the quilting.  Late January is really not an ideal time in Seattle to be photographing anything.  I may try again when the weather improves a bit.  The colors really look a bit garish in these photos, whereas I feel in person they are more bright and cheerful.


Michael Miller – Garden Pindot Red, Holiday Funky Christmas Yule Trees, Ta Dot Berry

Debbie Mumm Jolly Christmas Snowflakes, Jolly Christmas Tonal Texture Red

Christmas Pure & Simple Multi Stripe Red, Multi Stripe Bamboo

Other – Farm to Fork Stripe Red, Elf on the Shelf Snowflakes, Flannel Polka Dots, Riley Blake Home for the Holidays Stripe Green, Christmas Scandi Star, Candy Cane Wide Stripe Red, Remix Tossed Dots Pear, Pimatex Basics Polka Dots Navy, Christmas Time North Pole Ditsy Hot Pink, Playtime Dots Green, Winter Warmth Flannel Small Floral Snowflakes, Moda 25th and Pine Yultide Ave, Season’s Greetings Tree & Reindeer Red


Aurifil Cotton Mako 50wt White

Radiant Threads Embroidery Thread


Quilter’s Dream Natural Cotton White Request

All in all, I’m happy to be done with this project and moving on to something else not involving applique or Christmas!

Preschool, part 1

I was at the park a couple of weeks ago, and a lady asked me which preschools I was looking at.  None, I replied!  It’s not that I didn’t plan to send L to preschool.  It’s just that I figured I’d send her this Fall . . . and it’s January.  Too early, right?  Well, I figured I’d better have a look, and no, not too early.  In fact, there was one preschool with an application deadline of 1/19 for this Fall, which I obviously missed.

I immediately went into spreadsheet mode and created and XLSX of all the preschools within 20 minutes of our house that looked even mildly promising.  There are quite a few, most about 15 minutes north in Bellevue.  I ended up with a list of twenty-four potential preschools.  I then narrowed it down to the three that looked most interest: Poll.iwog Preschool (run by the city of Bellevue), the Bellevue Disc.overy Center, and Nat.ural Start Preschool.

We started by attending an open house for Poll.iwog.  It features 90 minutes of outdoor time in the Mercer Slough, a giant natural area where H and I used to go kayaking.  The kids also spend an additional hour or so indoors.  It runs two or three days a week, depending on which session you sign up for.  H and I were impressed.  The teachers seemed young and passionate, and the setting was great.  You aren’t allowed to visit while school is in session unless you’re accepted, so I haven’t seen an actual class yet.  The only hitch is that it’s very popular and there aren’t many spots.  Students are accepted by lottery.  We have applied and will find out some time in the next month.

I then went to see the Bellevue Disc.overy Center.  It’s an upper end preschool targeted at gifted kids.  I can’t say whether L is gifted or not, but after my visit, I do think she would thrive at this place.  It has a 4:1 teacher student ratio, and it appeared very well run.  The teachers were young and enthusiastic and completely engaged with the kids the whole time.  I was impressed by the way the teachers interacted with the students both during free play and during structured activities.  The hitch with this one is that it costs more than $12,000 for four mornings a week.  B and I felt that was too much at this stage.  He basically talked me off the ledge and said he just doesn’t buy into the theory that we need to be pushing to provide L with the best opportunities at this age.  If she is gifted, the doors will still be open in a couple years when she’s ready to start school.  I also strongly believe that there is more than one way to nurture her brain.  While this was truly about as good as a preschool can get (from what I’ve seen), I’m not sure it’s any better than an outdoor program like Pol.liwog or a more diverse set of activities like attending music and dance classes  in addition to a twice-a-week preschool program.

I then went to see the Nat.ural Start Preschool.  Obviously, the bar had been very high by the BDC.  When I arrived, the kids were involved in free play.  There were three teachers there with a class of sixteen, so there was actually an excellent student teacher ratio.  However, no more than two of the teachers were engaged with the kids at a time, and a lot of the time, only one teacher was interacting with them.  I realize it was free play, but I still wasn’t impressed.  It was complete chaos for part of the time.  I was told free play normally lasts 30 minutes, but it went 45, at which point they went to circle time.  I stayed for part of that and observed them setting up for what looked like a less than impressive craft project.  This preschool also features an outdoor component, one hour at a time.  The big difference between this program and the other two really seemed to be the quality of the teachers.  They seemed nice, cheerful and good-natured . . . but not as energized and passionate about their jobs as the other teachers.  It seems like a bit much to ask for a preschool teacher to be passionate, but that is what the teachers at the first programs were.

I plan to visit one or two more schools.  Our baseline is Poll.iwog at this point, but I’m not sure what our chances are of getting in, and I want a backup.  Nat.ural Start will work, but I’m not excited about it, and I’d like to see if there’s something better out there that’s affordable.

The whole experience has made me think hard about school options for L at all levels from preschool through college, but more on that another time.

two lives

My life – three preschool visits in the last week, a trip to the eye doctor, grocery store outings, and the park.

(Yes, I own more than one carrier.)  Is it a wonderful life?  For sure.  But.

My sister’s life?  A successful start-up gone public and surfing in Bali.


BLUE CRUSH 3: BALI from cristinc on Vimeo.

Even if I wasn’t fully in Mommy mode, I don’t think I’m athletic enough to surf like that.


winter illnesses

This winter seems to be lasting forever.  I am just really worried about Briony catching the flu or bronchitis or RSV or something else nasty.  When L was born in early February, we didn’t go out much for the first couple of months, and we also didn’t have a toddler.  Therefore, by the time we started getting out more, it was spring.  By the following winter, she was nearly a year old.  Briony is five months old, and I feel she’s really vulnerable at that age.  Of course, this year the flu vaccine is nearly useless (we are all vaccinated, of course, except Briony).  I’m not sure if they’ll want Briony to get the vaccine at her six month appointment.  Also, we kept L away from large groups of toddlers for the first couple months of Briony’s life, but we can’t do that forever, and we’ve been going to story time at the library since late fall, as well as lots of outdoor parks and things.  Anyway, I’ll be so happy when spring comes and the risk of all these nasty illnesses is much reduced.

on the run

I chose not to run a single step this pregnancy.  I also avoided walking whenever possible.  Whether as a result or not, I did not suffer the debilitating groin pain I experienced with pregnancy number one.  I did have pain, but it was not nearly as severe as with L.  I did swim 2000 yards once a week and do water aerobics once a week, so I while I wouldn’t say I was in good shape, I maintained some level of fitness.  However, the complete lack of weight-bearing exercise could not have been healthy.

I started with just walking, usually with at least one of the babies in the stroller.  B was crying a lot in the stroller, so it was rather harrowing to say the least.  Given the weather we’ve been having, it also isn’t all that easy to get the girls sufficiently warmly dressed.  I went on my first run on November 22, just a half mile.  Since then, I’ve been adding a half mile to my run distance every one to two weeks, and running three or more times per week.  There was one exception to this, the second and third week of December, when the entire family got sick.  I backtracked a little after that, and started with one mile again and began building.

Yesterday, for the first time in about thirteen months, I ran three miles.   My last run had been the day before I found out I was pregnant.  I wrote the following in my log, “Felt really awful and turned back early.”  The following day, I got a positive pregnancy test.  I remember that run.  I had planned to go our for four miles or so, but began feeling really awful.  I turned around after one mile, but I still felt like I might not make it back to the house and might have to ask a stranger for assistance.  I did make it back and spent the rest of the day in bed.  And so began pregnancy.  I consider being able to run three miles sort of an indication that I have my body back.  I’m still very, very slow.  I’m still dealing with a variety of pregnancy / baby-related health issues.  But overall, I feel pretty good.  And I felt great when I got home after chugging slowly but steadily up that last hill.  The fact that it was breezy and rainy only helped.

I have my first 5K this Sunday.  I signed up for it to motivate myself.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to run it faster than 30 minutes.  If not, that’s OK.  The point will mainly be to finish it without walking, and then to try and get faster.

I also got new running shoes today.  I have about 500 miles on my old pair, and my plantar fascitis has been bothering me.  Hopefully new shoes will help.

quilt top done

The lighting is a little odd in this picture – the quilt is not quite so neon pink/orange as it appears.  Nevertheless, the quilt top is more or less done.  I plan to baste tomorrow if I have time. I am so ready to move on from this project.  Doing a Christmas quilt in January is just a little uninspiring.


Obama has come out with some positive proposals lately.  When I read that he was pushing for free community college I was super excited.  For about five seconds.  Then I realized it has zero zilch nada chance of passing congress and that it was political grandstanding on his part.  I think it’s a fantastic proposal and well worth spending money on – and I’d be willing to pay higher taxes to support it.  I could go on about why it’s a great idea, even if it’s pricey, but it’s pointless.  It’s not going to happen, at least not during Obama’s presidency.  Seriously the best thing about Georgia is the Hope scholarship.  I’m not sure what it’s status is today, but fifteen years ago, it was an amazing thing.

Then, today I read he’s pushing for six weeks paid maternity leave for federal workers.  On the one hand, this would be a great thing.  Are there federal workers out there not currently getting paid maternity leave?  My NASA counterparts get six weeks, don’t you, even without sick leave?  So, I’m a little confused.  Second, what about the rest of the country, all the non-federal workers who actually need the leave?  If this was really important to Obama he would have brought it up sooner.

On the bright side, I read that the percent of families suffering major financial insecurity due to medical costs dropped five percentage points in 2014 (from 2013, I think.)   I think it’s safe to say that Obamacare gets the credit.  That is a plus.  I just hope the Republicans don’t dismantle Obamacare.  While it’s obviously not a great system, I have yet to hear any counterproposals.  My first would be, how about the US stops funding the pharma companies all on its own and the rather smug Europeans and Canadians get to start pulling their weight?

I read in the NYT the other day that people with health insurance use the emergency room more than those who are uninsured.  Remember when we were going to save money by insuring more people because they’d stop using the ER?  In retrospect, that POV was rather insulting to the uninsured.