Sunday, April 28, 2019

Quilt #126 :: Peace, Love, and Intergalactic Donuts

For the second year in a row, I participated in the Project Linus mystery quilt. Last year's mystery quilt drew me in because it had an international theme. 

If you aren't familiar with the organization, Project Linus distributes homemade quilts and blankets to children facing long hospital stays. It's a wonderful way to brighten up a hospital room and bring a little love and cheer to someone who could use it. 

This year's mystery quilt was called Sweet Violet's Bakery and Confectionary. 

Because it was a mystery, I started making blocks without an idea of what the final design would be. Because of the name and main character, most of the quilts featured a lot of pinks and purples. As the mom of a boy, I decided pretty early on that I would make a more neutral quilt. My inspiration print was this tie-dye heart print that I used for the backing.

The designer of the annual mystery quilt, Mary, always challenges me to try something new. This year, I learned to make some 3D blocks. My cupcakes were filled with extra frosting. 

My candy wrappers stick out a little. If I were to do it again, I might have sewn some cereal box bags in the ends to make them crinkle.

When I got to the big Violet block, D suggested I make a rocket instead of a flower. Such a great idea!

One of the last sections was the awning, which is made of real flaps. I decided to practice my freemotion cursive by writing the name of the quilt under the flaps--Peace, love, and intergalactic donuts. 

For the last three flaps, I wrote, "You Are Loved."

When I showed D, he loved the secret message. He also really loved the rocket. First, he asked if he could have it. Then I explained why I made it. He agreed I should give it away. Then he asked me to make him another one!

I'm not sure if I'm going to make another one of these for D, but I did recruit him to help me take pictures of the quilt at our local donut shop, which inspired the name. The first time we came by, they were already closed, so I had to settle for this picture. 

When we came back the next day, to buy donuts and ask permission to take some pictures, the staff was wonderful, suggesting backdrops and even holding up the quilt!

In addition to delicious donuts, the shop is very retro and cool.

I didn't realize how much orange played into the theme until we came to take pictures. 

As I worked on this quilt, I thought of the little one who will eventually snuggle under it and prayed for his/her healing, for peace and strength for the parents, and an overwhelming sense of love for them all. Perhaps, like D, the new owner will be comforted by dreams of delicious donuts. 

This quilt was my One Monthly Goal for April, but I forgot to link it up to the update party. But, I did make my goal!

Linked to:

Design Wall Monday @ Small Quilts & Doll Quilts
Modern Patch Monday @ Modern Cologne Quilters
Monday Making @ Love Laugh Quilt
What I Made Monday @ Pretty Piney

To Do Tuesday @ Stitch All the Things
Colour & Inspiration Party @ The Clever Chameleon

Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Midweek Makers @ My Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss @ The Inquiring Quilter
WIPs on Wednesday @ Esther's Blog

Needle & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

Beauties Pageant @ From Bolt to Beauty
Finished Or Not Friday @ Busy Hands Quilts
Off the Wall Friday @ Nina Marie
Whoop Whoop Friday @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict

UFO Busting @ The Madd Quilter

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A New Dream

The dream lasted 2,627 days.

Today, at 12:30pm, we sold the de Jong Dream House.

Niels and I started this blog on May 11, 2011 as we prepared to break ground on what would become the de Jong Dream House. We built the most earth-friendly, energy-efficient, universally-designed home we could afford. We built it with the idea that it would be our forever home, where our son would grow up, where I (Jen) could live comfortably with my brain injury, where we would welcome family, friends, visiting teachers, soccer coaches, refugees, college students, and anyone else needing a place to stay for a day, a week, or more. We envisioned play dates and game nights and dinner parties. We didn't imagine me becoming a quilter, but my love for the craft took bloom here. Our dream was that eventually, my mom would move into in the in-law suite. Our dream was that we would never move again.

Pardon my slight detour down memory lane...

Whew, who's cutting onions around here? I loved the process of building this house. I have loved living in it even more.

But as that wise sage John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens when you are making other plans."

The only thing we couldn't anticipate when we dreamt up this home was what our boy would grow up to dream up for himself.

We love our home. It has truly been our dream house. But we love our son more.

For the last six years, our son has been fortunate to attend a highly-rated community choice school where he is able to work at this own (accelerated) pace in all academic areas. He has been able to work with the school counselor and an understanding hub teacher to help him with the emotional development that is more challenging for him. 

He has been inspired to dream of a future in aerospace engineering. As his parents, we are privileged to have the means to fully encourage his dream. He has attended countless STEM camps, visited many of the NASA space centers, and has twice gone to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. We realize, and he realizes, that many families do not have this same opportunities.

As his time at his school winds down, we have had to figure out what is next for him...and us. Our local school is well-respected, and deservedly so. It's part of the reason we built in this community. But when your child is an outlier, what is good for most is not necessarily good for each one. So, about 16 months ago, we started looking at our options. Niels is very good at what he does, so he is frequently recruited to consider other jobs. Instead of a quick, "Thanks, but no thanks," we listened. We briefly thought about living in Nashville, Phoenix, Orlando, and even Brussels. But Niels really likes his current employer and there wasn't enough incentive to leave.

Next we looked at schools. We live in an area with many great school districts, lots of private schools, and, fortunately for us, and all day, tuition-free gifted school. We very nearly dismissed it because it is over an hour each way from our current house, but we realized we would regret not considering giving him the opportunity if it was at all possible. D took the entrance exam and passed with flying colors. In December, he spent a day at the school. When we picked him up, he was beaming. He loved meeting kids with the same passions and quirks as him. We loved that knowing that he will have good friends in middle school ..and no tuition. We did not like the commute. We quietly realized that we would have to move.

It took awhile to wrap our head around leaving the house we poured so much time and energy into building. We knew we would need to lower our expectations because a new house would not be 100% designed and decorated by us. Housing costs in our area have soared in the eight years since we built our home. We met with our current builder, but knew immediately that we couldn't afford to build this house again, even in the same location, let alone closer to Cleveland where land is more expensive. We met with other builders. Even with our lowered expectations, building was still going to cost more than we really wanted to spend, and even if we could build a house, finding a lot that helped with the new school commute was a greater challenge than we anticipated.

So we started looking at existing houses. So. Many. Houses. Nearly every Saturday and Sunday, and often in the middle of the week, we were going to showings and open houses. Though we knew we couldn't afford the same quality, we still needed a floor plan that worked (or could be renovated to work). By the way, if you want some home buying humor, check out Please Hate These Things on Instagram! The "What were they thinking?!" photos of homes for sale brought some much needed levity to our days of searching.

As much as we really wanted to just pick up our house and move it, we had to prioritize what we really loved and needed in a new home for the next chapter in our lives.

As we were making this realization, my mom came to her own bittersweet conclusion that her days as an independent horsewoman had come to an end. Mom is still young at heart and feisty, but also ready to let go of the responsibilities of her own place. By moving in with us, she is able to have more disposable income to work through her bucket list, to travel, to have a built in puppy sitter for Murphy, to help D navigate his tween and teen years, and yes, help me out on my bad brain days. 

Our house hunting list included:

* a ranch with finished basement
* 4 bedrooms, including a first floor in-law suite for my mom with a sitting room and no stairs, and a guest room so we can continue to welcome friends and family around the world
* Office for Niels
* Craft room for me
* Within 45 minutes of school/work
* Close enough to stores and social activities for mom and I to find our people
* In our budget

Preferably, we'd find a house:
* with wooded or lakeview lot
* with unique features like a pool or tree house, or cool architecture
* has an en suite for D
* was either less than 10 years old or has had all the major systems updated in the last ten years

Our big prayer during this whole process was that we would find a house that D would be excited about. When we first started looking at houses, D understandably had a really hard time. This is the only house he remembers. Moving is hard enough for us, but especially so for him. We didn't promise him veto power, of course, but privately we decided we wouldn't buy a house that he didn't love.

The first two items on our list knocked off about 98% of the houses we saw on Zillow or any real estate site. My new biggest pet peeve is a space being advertised as an in-law suite when it is located in the lower level or above the garage. That may be a great option for teens, a nanny, or guests, but not so much for the grandparent set!

We joked with our Realtor that we were looking for a unicorn. We hoped it existed, but were skeptical. She and her associates were rock stars as we looked at just about every house that fit our criteria in an hour radius around Cleveland. After thirteen years in Ohio, I finally know where all the suburbs are!

We were starting to make peace with an extraordinarily long commute for the boys for the next four years. But then, we found the Lake House.

We'll share more about the new house after we close. My fellow quilters will especially enjoy watching me transform this area into my new sewing studio with long arm!

But today, we will be sad and mourn the end of this wonderful chapter in our lives. The new owners are letting us stay until school is out so the next few weeks will be busy with packing, making some updates to the new house, setting up Vesper View Studio, celebrating the end of D's elementary school career, and remembering all the happy memories we have made in this home.

I cannot begin to show pictures of all the friends and family who have made our years here so much fun, but here are a few snapshots of what life has been like in the de Jong Dream House.


We won't be quite as excited to move out as we were when we left our little temporary apartment to move here, but we are looking forward to new adventures in our new home. Each of us found something in the lake house that was above and beyond what we hoped for, and while we will come to love our new home, our dream house will always have a very special place in our hearts. 

Ultimately, a house is just a house, no matter how much we love, laugh, cry, and dream within in. For us, the de Jong Dream House has been the home we always love. But the dream, the dream of us and what we will do and be together as a multi-generational, international family and how we will love and welcome others, that dream will continue at the lake.

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