Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Quilt #124 :: Purple Abacus

My 124th finish was more than a year in the making. In the fall of 2016, I decided to join an online quilting bee organized by Blossom Heart Quilts. I was placed in a group with 11 other quilters and we gave ourselves the name The Lovely Bee. Each one of us chose a month and a block. The block I chose is called Abacus

Here are some of the other blocks I made for the others when it was their turn to be Queen Bee. 

I chose August when I was on vacation. It was pretty fun to come home to squishy mail from around the country. Our group decided to send a little something extra with each block. Here are a few of my favorites. 

After I received all my blocks, life happened and I worked on other quilts. 

In January, I made a list of all the UFOs I could think of as part of Quilting Jet Girl's Planning Party. I want to see how many I can finish this year. Hopefully putting them in a list to compare to next January will motivate me!

The final push for this quilt was the announcement of the day when our local group would deliver quilts to a full grade of kindergarters at a local school. It's one of my favorite days because there are few things better than watching a child be surprised with a gift of a quilt. Totally makes me day!

Once the blocks were put together, it was the perfect size for a baby quilt, but I wanted it a little bigger for a lap quilt. 

For the quilting, I echoed along the white chevrons to make the purple abacus pop. 

I finished the night before our distribution. Just in time to let D finish the most important step. Product testing and adding his love to the quilt. 

Yesterday the quilt joined 50 others to be chosen by its new owner. 

I can't share photos of the little learners or the sweet girl who chose my quilt, but let me assure you that she adorable and her big smile is the reason I quilt. 

Linked to:

TBI Temperature Quilt :: February Update

I've decided that unless if I have something special to add or share, I'm going to make updates on a monthly basis. As you can see, February got off to a pretty rough start. 

Truth be told, it ended on a rough note, too. 

For the first time in years, I had two crashes in one month. What is a crash, you ask? Every brain injury is different, so let me tell you what it means for me. A crash is a way of explaining what happens when my brain is overwhelmed with too much sensory input. It can happen slowly over a day without enough rest or quiet. Or it can happen suddenly when I find myself bombarded by too many or much stimulation. One of the limitations I face with my brain injury is that I have a hard time filtering sounds and noises. For example, in a restaurant, I hear a lot of sounds at the same level. I hear the sounds of conversations around me, clanging in the kitchen, music over the speaker, chairs shuffling across the floor, silverware clanging, etc. at roughly the same level. It's really hard for my brain to keep up and I will get cognitively exhausted. It's like when you run and swim for a long time. You start strong but tire as you go on. 

When my brain is flooded, it responds by shutting down the things that aren't essential. So things like vision and speech start to fade. Even on a good day, I have a hard time holding focus because my optic nerve and brain don't play well together. When I'm flooded, my vision is jarring, as my eyes are like a camera trying to focus out a moving car. I can't hold a clear gaze, so I'll often close my eyes to avoid the vertigo this process causes. My ability to communicate also shuts down. First, my words will be slow and quite possibly be incorrect as aphasia kicks it. For example, I might say cigar when I mean guitar. If I'm not removed from the stressful situation, my words will start to slur, like I'm drunk. After that, I can't speak at all. 

I'm very lucky to have people around me who recognize when I'm flooding. They know that it's essential that I get to someplace dark and quiet so I can sleep it off. But sometimes, it doesn't happen fast enough. 

The first time it happened this month, my son had a snow day. Some friends decided we would take the kids to a movie. I can't usually handle movies without problem because it's dark and there aren't any distractions other the movie. I do have issues when there are things like the strobe lights in The Incredibles 2. After the movie, we went to a restaurant. Again, on its own, I'm okay with going out to eat, but it does take a toll trying to tune out all the sounds. Being with a group was extra taxing because I was trying to listen to multiple conversations and was focused on making sure my son was on his best behavior on the other side of the table. At this point, I recognized that I was starting to feel symptomatic, or flooded. I should have called it a day. But my son had private swim lessons and I had already canceled the week before. I did ask my friend to drive us to the Y. Indoor pools are a nightmare on even the best days because of the way sound echos. I can't make out anything. Usually, I watch from the lobby, but my son asked me to watch from inside. I should have said no. By the time his lesson ended, I was in bad shape. My son is 10 and has seen me crash, so he knows what to do. I both love and hate that he has that knowledge. I was slumped over in the lobby trying to block everything out. He ran to my friend and said, "Mom needs to get home NOW." By the time, my friend and her two sons got to me, I was non-communicative. My friend had seen me crash, but her kids had not. It was a little scary for them, but definitely gave them a lesson they won't forget about brain injuries. My friend drove me home and got me in bed safely. After a couple of days, my brain was reset and I was fine. I kick myself because it could have been avoided if I would just done one of those things, and not all three. 

The second crash was a different story. It was one of those rare situations where I am immediately speechless. My husband planned a date for us to see comedian Tim Hawkins. We saw him a few years ago and had a great time. He does parody songs as part of his act, so he came out with his guitar and sang. Hilarious. Because my vision has worsened since the last time we saw him, Niels bought the pricey tickets so we could be closer to the stage. It was a great idea, until Tim came out with strobe lights and sound at more than 100 decibels.

I was immediately disoriented and crashing fast. Friends from the venue moved us to the sound room but it was too late. I was done. 

A few days later, Niels and I bought a movie on demand and watched in the quiet of our home. As much as I love the idea of going out with my husband. Movies at home are more my speed!

On the other end of the spectrum, I did have two great days in February. I clarified my definitely of great for the purpose of this quilt. In order for a day to be great, it means that
  • I was out of bed before 10:30
  • I sewed for at least 4 hours
  • I didn't take a nap
  • I cooked dinner for my family. 
In other words, I was able to spend a good amount of time quilting in addition to taking care of my family, rather than "instead of." I try to make a homecooked meal every night and we do make eating together a priority. But sometimes we have leftovers, sometimes Niels cooks or we make a pizza, and sometimes we eat out. 

In February I had my first two travel days. I got to see my long-time besties at our annual girls weekend.

I'm so I recovered from my first crash in time to enjoy the company of my friends. I picked out a purple and gray print to use on days when I travel and am away from my sewing machine.

We've started to make plans for our summer trip to the Netherlands to see Niels' family. It's guaranteed that in those three weeks, I will have at least a few days. I decided that I would add gray or purple circles to indicate in general terms how I feel that day. I won't sew, so they arrow will point down, but the purple or gray will convey if I'm able to participate with the family or need a down day.

I printed the circles on fabric backed with Steam a Seam. When I travel, I will bring my temperature squares, travel rectangles, and these circles. I will do the applique when I get home, but with the Steam a Seam, the circles will stay put. 

The biggest hiccup I had this month was the realization that I lost one of my fat quarters and was not going to have enough for the year.

Fortunately, I only had to go back and redo 11 blocks.

Looking at my half square triangles, February looked like this.

These blocks really show the effect of my TBI on my ability to work a full time, 8-5, as I did before my brain injury. In February, I would have been able to work 2 days (the top row + the empty row). Yikes.

Here are the numbers for the year.
TBI Tally, as of February 28:

Previous Posts:
A Husband's Perspective (Niels reflects on the 15th anniversary of my TBI)

Follow along with the progress of this quilt on Instagram at #TBITempQuilt. I'd love the encouragement to keep me working on the rough days! You can use the hashtag #tempquiltalong to see what other quilters are doing for their temperature quilts. To see what I'm currently working on, follow me at deJongDreamHouse.

Linked to:
Temp Quilt Along  @ Twiddle Tails (click here to see other temperature quilts)


Monday, March 4, 2019

Quilt #123:: Beauty and Brains

I finally have a new finish to share! My sister Carisa had a new baby more than a year ago. While she was still pregnant I had the idea for this quilt, but I'm just finishing it now! Sorry, Millie!

My original idea was to make similar quilts for both Millie and her big sister, Molly. Molly received the 6th quilt I ever made, and it was time for a new one. Molly has my fellow lover of all things purple, but recently she has changed her allegiance to team teal. No worries, I'm putting my hope in Millie (thus, her quilt is mostly purple!)

Since I love Lori Holt's book, Spelling Bee, my thought was to have each girl's name front and center, with icons that represent them. When Millie was still in utero, I decided on beauty and brains to represent my prayer for her to pursue inner beauty and wisdom. Like so many girls of her age, Molly loves unicorns and mermaids. As I was looking for mermaid patterns, I found the pattern by CoopCrafts, and made Molly's Mermaid instead. 

The inspiration for the crown came from Kimberly Jolly's pattern, Katherine, in her book, Fat Quarter Baby. 

I resized the blocks, added two additional gemstones, and adjusted the size of the tall sections--I'm sure there's an actual name for those!

For the book section, I had fun looking for books that fit the brains part of the quilt.

I need I wanted a Bible storybook to reflect the wisdom of accepting and sharing God's love. I chose The Little Girls Bible Story Book for Mothers & Daughters. 

When I saw the title Your Auntie Loves You, I had to included even though I haven't read the book because the title really is the point of the quilt, and part of emotional intelligence is knowing how to love and accept love. 

In the same vein, I loved the sentiment of this book's title. Millie has her whole life ahead of her. Another aspect of intelligence is knowing oneself: strengths, weaknesses, and passions. 

Finally, I choose two books that reflect a more traditional view of intelligence. As the mom to an aspiring rocket scientist, I laughed at these books because looking back, I think my son would have loved them. (And maybe I could use them to understand what he's talking about!!) Chris Ferrie has published a whole collection of these books, so it was hard to whittle down to just two, ABCs of Physics and Rocket Science for Babies. (Okay, fine, I picked them because the covers most closely matched my quilt colors!) 

Fun fact, many moons ago, I wrote a children's book called "I Don't Wanna Go to Bed." It had a very limited print run and is so out of print it's not even available on Amazon anymore. Boo. I gifted a copy to Carisa after Molly was born.

I wrote the book in the middle of the night when D was about six months ago. It was the last bit of creative writing inspiration I ever had. A few months later I sustained my last brain injury--the one that took the last of my writing ability (as well as permanently messed up my vision and metabolism). But I am forever grateful for the gift of that night to have something written just for D. 

So, no more books in my future, but quilts are more snuggly. 

The label is attached and I'm almost ready to send it.

I made a slight error in judgment as I started the quilt and made the letters a little too big.

Thanks to the wisdom of the interwebs, I'm thinking I may make a bunting out of the oops letters.

I did whip up a bunting!

You can find more pictures of this quilt on Instagram at #BeautyAndBrainsQuilt. To see what I'm currently working on, follow me at deJongDreamHouse.

Linked to:






Friday, March 1, 2019

One Monthly Goal :: March 2019

March 2019. It's a big month here at the de Jong Dream House. After a couple decades in Arizona, my mom is moving in with us to be a professional coddiwompler. We are so excited to have her close in between her adventures. 

In other news, the end of D's career at his school of the past six years is coming up quickly and I still have two more quilts I want to make. So this month, for my One Monthly Goal I'm going to work on a quilt I've been excited about for quite a quilt. It's an enlarged version of the Omigosh Quilt by the late Sue Garman. I'm calling it Omigolly. 

I'm actually planning on making an Omigosh, too, but this month I will focus on Omigolly.

This shows the scale of the original block size.

This is my original idea for Omigolly.

I have no aspirations to finish this month, but I hope to make some serious progress. Wish me luck!

You'll be able to find pictures of this quilt on Instagram at #OmigollyMissJ. To see what I'm currently working on, including my 2019 Brain Injury quilt, follow me at deJongDreamHouse.

Previous OMGs:

June 2017 - Niels' Weighted Blanket (full post)

Linked to: Elm Street Quilts

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