02 January 2013

Something New

Alright...so it's been about 6 months since I've posted here.  I guess that's just the way of it.  I haven't completely given up on this space, but I have started a new blog with my mom and sisters called Swan Bay Family.  It's going to be a collaborative effort between the four of us to share traditions, inspiration, projects, reflections, and kid-friendly activities.  I am super excited about!!  We're starting out with a giveaway.  If you go to the first post and leave a comment, you'll be entered to win a sweet gift basket with something made by each of the Giberson girls.  Please do check it out!!

02 July 2012

Judah's First Birthday: Part Two

Secondly, the Mama Makes

I had all sorts of plans that didn't happen.  But given the time that I had, I actually got a fair amount done.

We didn't have a party, but I still wanted to decorate for Judah's birthday.  So I made some garlands out of circles I cut out of felt and sewed together and another with some wool felted balls stung up on yarn.  I also used some pom-pom fringe I had on hand.

I forgot to take a picture specifically of the garlands all hung on Judah's birthday.
They looked better then, but this gives you an idea.

Here's a [terrible] picture of everything all decorated.

I made Judah a birthday crown loosely based on this pattern.  I'm hoping that I can just replace the elastic as his head gets bigger, so I just tacked the 1 on a felt diamond that I can easily replace with a 2 next year.
Spoiler Alert: You'll see more pictures of the crown in the next post in the context of the day's festivities and (more importantly) on the head of one very adorable birthday boy.

Crochet Ball
For Christmas, I crocheted a blanket for Judah.  I had some yarn left over, so I decided to crochet a ball for him to match.  I used this website, which I found on pinterest.  But the website is in German, so I had to improvise a bit here and there because despite taking 2 years of German in high school and 2 semesters in college, I was never taught crochet vocab.  Can you believe that?!?  I feel a little cheated by the sub-standard quality of my education.  (Sidenote: In adding this website, I just noticed that google chrome can translate it into English for you.  That would have been helpful to know 3 months ago.  Also, I just realised that I probably could have easily found another pattern for a crochet ball with a simple google or ravelry search, but this also did not occur to me.)

Draw-String Bag
Back in the fall, Jason and I scored a bunch of books and toys for Judah at a yard sale that we saved for Christmas and his birthday.  We got this set of blocks for 25 cents, but they came in a ziplock, which I thought was unacceptable.  So I made Judah a drawstring bag to put them in.  (Sidenote: no matter how many bags I make with flat bottoms, I always sew the corners wrong the first time and have to rip them out and redo them.)  And speaking of ripping things out and redoing them...

The Quilt Saga that Epically Broke My Heart
I finished the top of this quilt before Judah was born...so that's over a year ago.  It was loosely based on this sewing machine cover design in this book by Malka Dubrawsky.  I used a log cabin strip quilting technique to make 120 little blocks.  I pieced it together beautifully.  This thing was perfect...every little block perfectly squared.  But I never got around to quilting it.  Because I had this baby, and the rest is history.  Still, it was just so pretty that I used it in Judah's monthly photo shoots.

I was determined to have it finished for his first birthday.  It was going to be his big special gift made especially for him by his mama.  I worked on it all week...adding the borders, laying out the backing and batting, pinning every few inches, and finally, quilting it all together.  It was hard to pull all the layers through my basic singer sewing machine, but it was a matter of will.  I got to the end and inspected my work, and here's what I had done:

My perfectly squared blocks were all askew.  The back was all ripply.  I had ruined my masterpiece.  Apparently, the reason it was so hard to quilt was that my tension was off, and I didn't have a quilting presser foot.  I called my mom to ask her what I should do.  She said, "Well, you have two options.  You can just add the binding and call it done.  Or you can rip it out, bring it down to Jersey, and quilt it on my Elna 6003 Quiltmaker's Dream.  Do you want it to be finished, or do you want it to be done right?"  Boo.  I was hoping for "It's not that bad.  You're being silly."  But she was right.  This was Judah's baby blanket, and I wanted it to be an heirloom.  So I put it aside with a frowny face, feeling like a total failure of a mother, artist, and person in general.  Nevertheless, this was Judah's birthday.  And I wanted it to be about him, so I put the quilt out of my mind and moved on to the celebration.

[Edit: Since then, I did take the quilt down to Jersey, where my mom and I patiently ripped out the quilting.  She gave me a new piece of backing fabric, and we pinned it together.  Then she set up her Elna 6003 Quiltmaker's Dream, and I went to town.  And it turns out...it wasn't my Singer's fault after all.  I'm just a bad quilter.  I think I hold the fabric too tightly as I pull it through.  Because Judah's quilt was still ripply.  Jason and my mom both said it looked better, but if that's true, it's a minimal improvement.  I wasn't about to rip it out a second time, so I let my mom sew on the binding fabric, and I proceeded to hand-stitch it to bind the quilt together.  Finished.]

[Edit 2: But then I ran it through the wash, and the batiks bled onto my beautiful, clean, bright white fabric.  My mom says that if I keep washing it, eventually, the fabric will stop bleeding, and the stains will go away.  But the machines in my building are $3 per load, so that's just not going to happen any time soon.]

So for now it lives on the back of Judah's little recliner...wonky, wavy, and splotched.  So very far from the perfection of my original vision for the project.  But he is my sweet little boy, and he has compassion on his mama, and he's started taking it down and playing on it just to let me know that he likes it and that he loves me, despite all my insufficiencies.

Thanks, Judah.  I love you, too.

Judah's First Birthday: Part One

It's been over 3 months since my baby boy officially became a toddler.  It was a crazy time in the Lawrenz estate.  I had a week between finishing up work at Gordon and Judah's birthday and about 3 weeks worth of ideas I wanted to cram into 7 days.  It was a flurry of making, cleaning, planning, baking, and rearranging that honestly left Judah pretty miserable leading up to the big day.  But his actual birthday was a wonderful celebration during which Judah had my full attention, which made for a happy birthday boy and a happy mama.

I wanted to celebrate his first year in three ways: finally finishing his room, making him a few presents, and giving him a very Judah-focused day.  So here begins the 3 part series of Judah's birthday.

First off: Judah's Room

Judah's room had been in a state of clutter and unrest since we moved here back in October.  Because we were living in a 1 bedroom apartment when he was born and planned on moving shortly afterward, I didn't get a chance to nest like I wanted to.  I wanted to set up a beautiful nursery for my baby boy.  I went through various theme ideas: jungle (to maximize the Lion of Judah connection), enchanted forest, Narnia (again, lots of lions), and It's a Small World.  I talked to Jason about all the things I wanted to make to decorate Judah's room, but he didn't really understand the need for a theme.  I answered, "Because that's what you do for nurseries."  In the end, practicality and frugality won out, and I ended up using things I already had, making Judah's room very void of theme but a brighter, happier, and less cluttered place as a result.

But deciding on decorations wasn't really the problem.  There were still unpacked boxes from our move, and a lack of storage furniture for his ever-growing collection of fun.  But I was determined that it would be finished for his birthday.  So I unpacked a few final boxes, shoved some others into closets, got Judah some storage furniture, and rearranged everything into a workable set-up.  And this is the final product:

The view from the door. 

And the other corner.

Judah's big birthday present: a toy storage system complete with  animal cubbies.

Judah's dresser with some favorite stuffed friends (including the all-important Sleep Sheep).
The little basket is for his socks, and the blue container holds his pacifiers.

Above the dresser are some lovely works of art.  The painting is by my sister Megan.
It was inspired by Psalm 4:8, which reads, "I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."

My friend Rachel made this beautiful owl frame for Judah's shower.
I filled it with a picture taken by my friend Hannah in Judah's 1 year photo shoot.

Above the rocking chair corner are two more lovely pieces.
To the right is another painting by my sister Megan inspired by Psalm 1:3: "He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers."
My mom made the fish wall-hanging for me a while back.  Judah loves to point at it and make fish faces.

A close-up of the toy shelf.

On top of the shelf is Judah's lion collection.  To the far left is a lion face that I paper-mached and Megan painted.
Above the shelf are Judah's hand and foot print from when he was a month old and...

This beautiful lion embroidery made by my sister Amy to commemorate Judah's birth.

A bookshelf made for Judah's shower by my friend Lisa.
It's full of board books right at his level for his reading pleasure.

This lovely stained-glass quilt hangs above Judah's bookshelf.
He loves pointing out all the colors.

This beautiful quilt hangs above Judah's crib.
My mom made it for me my freshman year of college. 

And here's the little man himself.

Judah's room is a very happy place.  Just about everything is Judah proof, and all the things he loves are within reach.  So we actually spend a good amount of time in there now.  I love that he finally has a space that is completely his.  And Judah loves it, too!

09 March 2012


So I'm back at Gordon, working at that job I quit two years ago.  If I could go back in time, I probably would not agree to do this--it's put a good amount of strain on Jason (taking care of Judah while I'm at work) and on me (having to leave Judah and sit in an office by myself).  But this is where I am, and I decided that while I was here, I would make the best of it.  And that is why, when an email went out to faculty and staff announcing a game of "Secret Heart," I decided to be a little joiner.  Secret Heart is kinda like Secret Santa, but it centers around Valentine's Day.  You have a few weeks to send encouraging notes, candy, little presents to your person and then there was a big reveal party...which I did not go to...because let's be honest: I'm not REALLY a joiner.

But I did put together a little make for my Secret Heart.  I tried to think about what would be encouraging to me...sitting at my desk...bored and unmotivated.  And I thought that something homemade with a daily little encouragement would be nice.  And this is what I came up with:

It's a little bunting with five little pockets, one for each day of the work week.  It was a simple construction...didn't take me very long.  And I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

I filled each pocket with a verse or several...some of my favorites in the "chin up" category.

And I wrapped it up with a note of explanation (because sometimes I just get self conscious and wonder if a recipient will "get" a Robin-made something), a mini box of chocolates, and a little felted heart.

I actually drove to Gordon and dropped it off, Judah in tow, which I was pretty proud of myself for doing because I don't get out much, just me and Judah.  When we got home, I decided to have a little photo shoot with my little man to send to his daddy while he was at work.  So to round out this little Valentiney post, I thought I should share some pictures of a boy I love very very much:

Forget toys.  He prefers coasters.

Paper is pretty high on his list, too.  Especially for a light snack.

Happy [belated] Valentine's Day!!!

Disclaimer: I do not actually allow Judah to ingest paper.