Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vincent's Quilt!

Remember these?  Well, I've had them sewn up into a quilt for a little while now but since I finally got to give it to my godbaby tonight I can post pictures of the finished product!

Ta-Da! I'm really glad with the design overall. I started before I knew Vincent was going to be a boy, but I think this looks like a boy quilt. I think it's the olive green and grey. For the top I used most of the two charm packs of Little Apples that Ryan gave me for Christmas from the fabulous Sewn Studio.   I did go out and buy backing fabric, because the design was so cute and cutting it up into pinwheels didn't really let you see how cute it was. I've never done a quilt that was mostly all one line of fabric like this, especially the designer stuff; generally I will use up lots of odds and ends and maybe buy one or two new things to tie the color scheme together. But this is for a very special boy, so I suppose it's ok. :-)

Another first: This is the first project I've ever done with straight line vs. free-motion quilting. I think I prefer free-motion, even though it does take much longer than this simple in the ditch (more or less) grid. For one thing, I do not have a machine that's really meant to do quilting. I think it is due for a cleaning, too. I sort of had to rig up an even-feed foot that wasn't really feeding evenly, so the stitches got larger and smaller and pulled to the side no matter how carefully I worked. With free-motion, obviously you don't have to stay within the lines. Unless you're doing a complicated traditional design, which I have not yet attempted. I really enjoy meditatively moving the quilt back and forth, working into a rhythm making swirls or loops or just squigglies, either listening to music or just thinking. Next time it's back to squigglies, but I think the straight lines work with the design and make it more masculine.

See?  The fabric is really adorable.  Now to go work on my own baby's quilt!

Friday, April 20, 2012


The baby pretended to come on Tuesday.  I was really sure it was real labor this time.  Contractions got to 6 minutes apart, starting from the back, and strong enough for me to be doing hands-and-knees on each one.  But no, after seven hours she (or he) decided to stay put after all.  I was disappointed, and a little embarrassed for having called in the troops yet again.

I know it's silly to be embarrassed since I have no control over these things, but I just can't help feeling bad that my dear friends had to drop everything to help us take care of our son and my husband missed half a day of work for what was just "practice" labor.  The good news is I now know that our D-Day strategy works just fine, and we are very blessed with really wonderful friends!  After two false alarms, Anthony is also getting used to spending long hours without Mama at his godparents' house, so I definitely won't be so worried about him when the time really does come.  They have a big dog that actually lets Anthony ride her like a horse and lots of kids to play with and he just loves it there.

This whole false alarm thing is new to me.  With Anthony, I had no Braxton-Hicks whatsoever, and when labor started it kicked into high gear within the first hour.  The whole process from first contraction to birth was about nine hours.  I suppose I ought to refer to it as "trial labor" or "practice labor," because that's more positive-sounding and that really is what my body is doing.  I've been re-reading my Bradley books and practice labor is actally beneficial for the baby, because it helps the baby get into the best position and is gentler overall than an all-at-once fast-and-furious descent.  For me, I'm less likely to tear and likely to have a shorter, less painful labor because some of the work has already been done.

I think it was also a blessing because it made this new baby seem more real to me.  That might sound odd, since I've been feeling kicks and so forth for a long time now.  Or maybe the way I'm feeling is perfectly normal for second-time and after mothers.  Throughout this pregnancy I've been primarily focused on my child who is requiring my constant attention as he coasts on his little bike down our neighbor's driveway right into the street.  This baby's comparatively easy.  All I have to do is eat and drink and she's taken care of.  I'm sure once the baby arrives the balance of attention will shift, but up until now it's certainly been skewed in Anthony's favor!


I'm realizing now that everything really IS about to change in our family.  I'm at once savoring the way things are now and getting excited about the little one who will be here so very soon.  We had a special spontaneous day at the zoo last week, just Anthony and me.  It will probably be a long time before we ever have just the two of us again, and by that time he will probably be very different than he is now!  I just won't be able to give him this kind of attention for much longer.  Actually, that's already been true on those days where I'm just so tired from being pregnant.  It sounds bittersweet, but it really isn't.  He's definitely benefitting in the long term by receiving the gift of a new brother or sister!  He just has no idea what he's in for!  And neither do Ryan and I, really.  But I do know that it's going to be wonderful.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter and Happy Birthday

Yesterday was doubly special for us.  It was Easter Sunday and Anthony's 2nd birthday!  We had a little party with his godparents and their eight children.  It was a gorgeous Easter Day.  I had another special treat that day:  Going to Easter Mass all by myself!  I do think it's important to go to Mass as a family, but Anthony was awake pretty much all night as his two year molars decided to come in exactly on schedule.  He was just too tired to be expected to behave himself, and Ryan had gone to the vigil the night before.  I must admit it was quite nice to listen to the entire homily, to pray through the consecration without any need to keep an exuberant, "Jezzzzzzus!  There!" somewhat subdued, and to know that none of the screaming in the back of the church was being caused by my child.

See?  Completely zonked out.  This was taken at about 11 a.m.  Naptime's not usually til 2 or 3.  But it worked out well because he was able to have fun at his little party.  Once again, I didn't take very good pictures, so for the family here's what I have:

Helping to make his birthday cake.

Head dishwasher.

He was very excited about his truck cake!

Two of Anthony's god-siblings, Paul and Josephine. 

And lastly, for Easter, I always make this braided loaf.  Recipe here.  It's surprisingly easy to do the braiding because the fatty dough is nice and stretchy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Marbury vs. Madison

If you haven't heard our President's latest ludicrously absurd remarks about the health care law, read this:  "I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."  Now think back to fifth grade Social Studies.

Uh, yeah, that whole checks and balances thing.  (Skip to 2:00 for the key visual here.  Yep, overturning a law.)  The entire point of the Supreme Court is to act as an intermediary between the legislature and the people, particularly to ensure that the other branches don't overstep their authority.  I guess somebody doesn't like the idea of limits on his power.  The fact that he was a law professor and completely misses the basic point of judicial review scares me.  We as a nation really need to know our history!

Ryan told me about this latest imbecility over breakfast this morning, and I've been wanting to write all day about Marbury vs. Madison.  I doubt many people remember that case from their U.S. History, but I'm weird like that.  Of course, the Wall Street Journal beat me to it.  Darn those professional journalists who have nothing better to do with their day.  It's a very to-the-point article, so do read it.  It doesn't go very much into the actual history of judical review, just that the Supreme Court has always been able to do what the President says is impossible.  Actually it's really, really basic civics.  And that's really the most important thing to be grasped, for sure.

A summary of the case leading to the decision in 1803:  (1803.  The Constitution was only ratified in 1788, so for almost our entire history the power of the Supreme Court to overturn laws was recognized.  And not challenged again for 209 years.  Sorry, couldn't help it.)  In 1801, lame-duck President John Adams and his Federalist lame-duck Congress modified the Judiciary Act of 1789 to create several new judgeships, in order to fill them with Federalist judges, before the Democratic-Republicans took control of the presidency and the legislature.  (See?  Even then Democrats and Republicans were the same!)  Not all of the commissions were delivered by the time President Jefferson took office.  The new Secretery of State, James Madison, refused to deliver them.  One of the would-be judges, William Marbury petitioned the Supreme Court to order him to do so. 

The decision:  The Supreme Court decided that Marbury did have a right to his commission, but it was not the place of the Supreme Court to enforce that right.  That power was not granted to the judiciary by the Constitution, and Congress cannot extend the power of government beyond what the Constitution states.  The part of the Judiciary Act of 1789 giving the Supreme Court that power was therefore void.  A key quote from the decision:  "A Law repugnant to the Constitution is void."  Ever since Marbury vs. Madison, the Supreme Court has been the ultimate authority in the United States on the Constitutionality of any law or executive action, and has had the power to overturn all or part of them on that basis.  This is what is meant by judicial review.  Perhaps the most famous example of the exercise of judicial review is the Dred Scott Decision.  (Look it up. :) It's good for you.)

One interesting point is that the decision was written by Chief Justice John Marshall, who was Secretary of State under President Adams!  Potential conflict of interest for sure, (Elena Kagan, anyone?) but as a result of the decision Marbury never did get his commision!  I can't stress enough the significance of this decision to American history.  Marbury vs. Madison and judicial review established a government governed by the Constituion.  In the United States of America, no person, not even the President, can freely work his will in violation of the written Constitution.