New Beginnings

The last couple of weeks have been a blur. I was planning a lovely post on Thursday, April 14th, which happens to be Ryan's birthday, about what a wonderful and amazing partner he is. However, our little one had other plans. In the small hours of Wednesday, April 13th, I went into labor - almost a full two weeks early. At 2:02 pm on Thursday, April 14th, we welcomed Dylan Amelia Tyler Miller to our little family. Not only does she share her birthday with her daddy, but she's every bit as lovely and amazing as he is. We've spent the last couple of weeks overcoming some newborn challenges and getting to know our sweet girl. I'll probably take another couple or so weeks off before I get things back up and running here - just wanted to stop and share our great news.

We brought her home in this sweater I made. Because she was two weeks early, the rest of her coming home ensemble was comically large on her - thus the fashionable hospital cap.

Much love,
Melissa, Ryan and Dylan


The Baby Bee Shower

One of the very first things out of Alexis' mouth upon learning of my pregnancy was, "Can I throw you a shower?" Well, yes, of course, nothing would make us happier! She immediately enlisted Sanna. So, while Ryan and I were reading up on what to expect during pregnancy and beyond, our sisters were planning one hell of a party. We were so very touched at all of the thoughtful details and creative touches! Let me show you.

The theme came directly from the nickname we gave our little one: Baby Bee.

The invitations: Lex made each one herself, so they were all unique. Aren't they sweet? One guest said she pulled her invite in and out of its envelope several times so that she could "watch the grass grow!" Goodness, I love our friends!

For the future nursery: Lex made this adorable sign. She wrapped the hanging pole in ribbon and painted the letters and the bee, which have just a bit of sparkle.

The gift table: Isn't it lovely? It was almost a shame to open all of those beautiful presents. We've saved the little tissue paper poufs hanging under the table to use in her future nursery.

The activity: Lex strung a line with plain onsies in sizes from newborn to 12 months. Check out the tiny clothes pins!

Katie and Jen got crafty right away.

Then our many talented friends and family each decorated a onsie using fabric paints, pens, stamps, and even their own fingers! I'll show them all to you at the end.

Sanna made this little flip book for us to read on sleepless nights and during moments of doubt. By the way, Sanna has always insisted she isn't even remotely crafty. I think, after seeing all of her little projects, that you'll have to join me in disagreeing with her!

Everyone wrote such lovely sentiments. I'll be sure to remind Sanna of her offer to help with those diapers!

Speaking of diapers, Sanna made sure to include the Midwestern tradition of the diaper cake, but with a Northwest twist. She used cloth diaper prefolds - made with repurposed fabrics! - and gDiaper disposable inserts to craft the cake. So cute!

Julie and Ryan, enjoying some of the wonderful food. There was a huge spread of little bites. I was remiss in not taking photos of the snacks. Everything was picture perfect and delicious. Among the treats: Lex made a wonderful bread pudding, Sanna and Terre baked and decorated adorable bee, spring & shower-themed sugar cookies, and there was a plate of divine french macaroons from Ken's Artisan Bakery - a yummy gluten-free treat for me!

Me and Jen, after she completed her masterpiece. I'm 32 weeks along.

Ryan's Mom, Terre, and my parents all made the trip from Illinois to help us celebrate. That's Terre on the left, then good friends KC and Ruth - who happen to be mother & daughter - and finally my mom on the right.

Superstar Sanna in the middle and my dad on the right.

And now, the onsies. We were blown away by the talent and creativity of our friends. Katie free-handed those stunning flowers. (She's a pro. No, really. You can, and should, buy her work here.) Gramma Terre made the little lamb. Mother daughter duo Alison (who made the doll from my last post) and Izzy painted the polka-dot goat.

Ruth's onsie is a nod to one of Ryan's favorite jokes around the office - sheets of paper included in the middle of documents printed with "This page intentionally left blank." Get it? The next one is humor from my Dad, who I'm sure was not suggesting that I actually resemble a cow - ahem. The footprints were a clever collaboration between Julie and April, who used the side of their hand to make the feet and their fingers to make the toes.

Sanna professed her love. KC whipped up a mini Timbers jersey, complete with Addidas stripes on the back, so that Bee will be ready for the soccer season. Alexis made sure Bee will have an outfit for what are sure to be many trips to The Farm.

Jen also embraced the farm motif. I think it was about this time last year when our families when to the farm together to view the pig and her new babies. Perhaps that was her inspiration. That, or as a mother of two, she's giving me a hint as to the probable state of our little one... The monkey is the work of Brittany and Kalyan - it says "little monkey." LOVE the ears! Finally, on the end, my mother is already playing favorites... I hope I gave everyone the proper credit!

These were the favors Lex made. She had a whole basket filled with these little jars, which were in turn filled with honey. If you've been reading the blog for a while, you know that I love honey, so it may come as no surprise that the honey didn't last long enough to get photographed, but the jars are sure cute! Lex says she has extra - more honey for me!

By the way, I'm not sure how, but Lex evaded having her picture taken. However, the shower was given in her apartment, so in some ways she's in every photo...

Gratitude. We were stunned by the turnout of friends and family from all areas of our life, as well as by their generosity. We so enjoyed spending a sunny afternoon in my sister's beautiful apartment, surrounded by people we love, all of whom are all excited to meet and love our little girl. These are some of the notecards I made to send out after the shower. I'm not sure we were able to truely express our gratitude, so let me say "thank you" again. It bears repeating. We so appreciate all of the time, thought, love, and support you have all given and have offered up for the future.

One last bit of cleverness. Those are your aunties, Baby Bee. I've got the feeling they're gonna spoil you rotten!


The Book Shower

Welcome to Baby Shower week! We were so lucky to be honored with three baby showers. What an amazing feeling to have such an outpouring of love and enthusiasm for this next phase in our life!

So, let me just get right down to things. Our first shower was organized by lovely friends from Ryan's office. I went down on a Friday at the end of February (I was 31 weeks along) and was stunned at the turn-out. Well, they do love a party... Not only was the majority of the staff in attendance, but also several of the attorneys - including many of the partners. That's a lot of people!

The office treated us to lunch from "Give Pizza A Chance," a fantastic cart downtown that makes great pizza. It's well worth cheating for! As an aside, they also make delicious craft sodas, and have a terrific sense of humor. There's a pizza on the menu called "i give in," which is ham & pineapple. Love it!

After we finished downing pizza and salad, we got to the business of opening gifts. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, there was a distinct theme to the shower. Just about everyone brought a book with which to help us start Baby Bee's library!

I should've taken a shot of the basket of books before we opened them all... It was such a lovely presentation.

The books ranged from simple board books like Daisy Duck, to classics like Good Night Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, to more grown-up reads like The Little Princess, Nancy Drew, and the entire Ramona series. Some people brought their own childhood favorites and some brought their children's favorites. Some of the titles were familiar, ones I remember loving as a young reader, and others were new and wonderful surprises.

In addition to the books, we also got one or two gifts from outside the theme. My favorite is this adorable doll, made by Alison. Isn't she sweet? It's a good thing that Bee won't be ready for dolls right away, 'cause it will take some time for me to be ready to share this... (Oh, and Alison got the pattern from Hilary's wonderful new book.)

After the gifts, we enjoyed this yummy, yummy cake. It's a carrot cake from Beaverton Bakery - also well worth the cheating! Nikki, who arranged for the cake, said that she had a hell of a time trying to communicate her wishes for the cake decorations. The bakery is an institution and they just couldn't grasp that she didn't want a shower cake decorated with a baby buggy overflowing with flowers, or something similar. We love those baby animals, though. Thanks for persisting, Nikki!

Of course, we received lots of well wishes and great advice. No, really, the advice was all good stuff! We were told things like: "Trust your instincts," "Cuddle her every chance you get," and "You'll never regret making more time to be involved."

Here are all of the books at home on their very own shelf in our newly cleaned & reorganized bookcase. There a couple there that we already had on hand, but most are gifts from the very kind and generous folks in Ryan's office. Thanks, ya'll!


Sexy Sweater

I try to knit a thing or two for Ryan each year - you know, because he is so supportive of my passion for knitting and because he is always so eager to tell everyone when he's wearing (or I'm wearing) something I've made and because it is truely wonderful to be able to literally wrap him in love. With the push to crank out sweaters for myself that I could wear while pregnant, and after, and then my excitement to stockpile knitting for Baby Bee, I wanted to be sure Ryan wasn't overlooked this year. And, because I'm not sure how much knitting I'll get done after Bee arrives, I wanted this year's project to be really special.

The pattern I found is the Shawl-Collared Cardigan from Erika Knight's Men's Knits. Btw, this fabulous book is stuffed full of patterns that a man would actually wear. So, I fell pretty hard for this sweater, and after telling Ryan how incredibly sexy I thought the sweater to be, he (surprise!) agreed that it would be a very good idea for me to knit one for him. One huge bonus for me was that the bulky yarn used would make it a very quick knit.

So, the yarn is Brown Sheep Burly Spun. It's absolutely gorgeous. The pattern called for Rowan Big Wool, but I liked the color selection for the Burly Spun better. After Ryan and the sweater got caught in a downpour not once, but twice, though, I wonder if the plied Big Wool wouldn't have been a better choice, after all. The sweater is designed with a fair bit of ease, as it is meant to be layered as a jacket, but all of that rain caused it to grow a bit - even with reshaping. Oh, well. Live and learn, right? I still think it's gorgeous, and Ryan loves it.

I'll mention that I sewed in the zipper by hand, rather than use the machine. It was tedious work, but I was afraid to put that chunky fabric through my machine. Also, I feel that hand-sewing helps guard against that horribly uncomfortable wavy-zipper thing that so often happens when pairing zippers with knitwear.

Ok, that's all I've got for you today. I'll be back next week with pictures from our three(!) baby showers. Hopefully I'll also have had the opportunity to finish & photograph a few more of the baby knits I worked on while I was sick, as well as some of the sewing I've been doing. Oh, and for those who are counting, I'm now 37 weeks along. That means Bee is now considered full-term, though hopefully she chooses to wait until the 40 week mark before she makes her entrance into the world! I'll do my best to keep you posted on all of the projects keeping us busy as we make our final preparations...


The Romper Re-Do

Well Howdy! And Happy Spring to everyone! I'm sad to say that I started my spring with a head cold which left me feeling like death and which lingered for a couple of weeks. Ick! I have now had time to recover and regroup. It wasn't all bad, though. All the time I spent on the couch left lots of time for knitting! I have a couple wee knitting projects which are just waiting for some finishing touches and then will be ready to photograph and share. Hopefully, they'll be ready for you next week. In the meantime, I wanted to show you another little something I just finished.

Ryan's father recently sent down a box full of little girl clothes picked up at a yard sale or auction. (He and his wife run and antiques mall in Minnesota and are always at such places looking for treasure.) It was stuffed full of all kinds of sweet outfits, but there were a few that, while in great shape, I just couldn't love. Why? 'Cause I couldn't embrace the ridiculous images and sayings across the chest. I was tempted to forward them to the thrift store, but Mom & Lex persuaded me to work a little crafty magic and just fix them up. So I did.

For some reason, I just can't get on board with branded characters all over my kid's clothes. Even though this is Elmo from the fabulous public tv series, Sesame Street, and not a Disney, Looney Tunes, or other big money maker, I couldn't deal. When she's old enough to tell me she wants clothes with certain characters emblazoned on the front, ok. But for now, no thanks. Anyway, I carefully removed the offending pocket from the little overalls and intended to make a replacement with fabric from my stash. You would think that as much as I sew with blue, there would be something that worked, but no. Fortunately, I thought to throw it into the wash before I went out to buy something new to use.

The stitching lines came right out! I had to invest very little time and no extra money, and the other embellishments on the outfit still make it super cute.

I don't even know what to think about the next one. While the graphic is ok, the words are a bit ridiculous. I know, there's nothing really wrong with it. But still... Since the offending logo is screened onto the romper itself, I had to work a bit more for this one. Fortunately, I had the perfect fabric leftover from this project.

I used a stencil to trace the butterfly onto my fabric scrap, then used 4 strands of embroidery floss and chain stitch to get a nice bold line. After all of the stitching was finished, I cut a piece of HeatnBond to size, fused it to the back of my embroidery, and then fused that to the onsie. A quick trip to the sewing machine to zig zag the edges and we're done!

Here's a full-length view. Isn't that better?

This is the last of the offending onsies. My feelings about patriotism are like my feelings about religion: I have them, but they are mine. I will save my public rah-rah! spirit for the Timbers and for Mizzou. In addition to not being crazy about the idea of having part of The Pledge on baby's clothes, I really don't like the addition of the store brand to the pledge. That's just tacky. The solution was again in my stash.

I used the same process as on the last little romper, except that I used 6 strands of floss and stem stitch. Not sure how well you can see, but I tried to lengthen the stem stitch across the top of the tail a bit where squirrels have that extra fluffiness. The fabric is left from a project I made for myself, but somehow never photographed and shared. Now that Bee has an outfit to match mine, I think I'll try to photograph us together and then can show off - I mean share.

This little outfit has the added bomus of perhaps appeasing Lex, who is as devoted to red as I am to blue. (Really, the second half of that sentance goes a long way towards summing up our basic personalities!) I don't really wear red as I don't feel like myself when I do, and I prefer to keep the colors of my personal environment pretty serene. Lex, of course, like to tease me about it. I would like to take the opportunity here to state publicly that I don't actually dislike red. I just prefer it in small doses. As an accent. Probably paired with blue... Anyway, this one is for Auntie Alexis. A red romper for our sweet girl.

So, hope you've enjoyed my little show & tell. I'll be back tomorrow with a peek at the fabulous sweater I knit for Ryan for Valentine's Day. We finally had the opportunity to photograph it this last weekend - my, how the time is flying by!