Summer Days

Yikes, sometimes I have so much to say I have to schedule posts and then a week or two goes by and nothing, nada, zip.

We just got back from vacation, which was lovely. We stayed on a farm, in an old log homestead. I was thankful again, that despite C’s CP, she has been very healthy. She got a fever on Day 6, and if she’d had a shunt, we’d have had to race to a hospital to make sure it wasn’t malfunctioning. Thank goodness, she seemed to just have a virus, and I just dealt with it the way we do with the others. But she was so sad and so much weaker. She couldn’t even tolerate holding her head up in her high chair. Thankfully she’s on the mend and she is back giving her patented Coco smiles.

I knit a lot, but didn’t count on no web service, so I couldn’t access my Ravelry patterns. That means, I just did about 20 more Pop Blanket Squares, but I won’t bore you with pictures. Instead I’ll bore you pictures of the kids.

Coco on Hols



I also read two books. The first was Four Walls of My Freedom, by the mother of a now-adult child with CP. It was a good read – first just because it’s interesting to read the perspective of someone looking back on the early years. With the benefit of hindsight, she questions whether all the more intense therapies or medical treatment was worth it in the long run. The balance between “fixing” and “accepting” is a constant moral dilemma I have. It’s sobering too, as she explains some of the trials they’ve gone through, such as when she thought the doctors were finally understanding the pain her child was in, and instead she was investigated for giving her child too much pain killers. It’s more than a memoir though, as she makes some interesting arguments about the way we value people with disabilities, offering a sort of a primer on some of the philosophical thinking in this area. She discusses controversial figures like Peter Singer, who has argued that infanticide may be warranted in the case of children born with severe disabilities. The prejudice and stigma faced by people with disabilities is very real – perhaps one of the last areas in which it is socially acceptable to make that kind of argument. She proposes a very different approach, based on the thinking of Amartya Sen, which values experiences and relationships as measures of well-being. She works with someone to develop an index of well-being that applies to her family.

I also started, and am mostly through, Andrew Salomon‘s Far From the Tree. At first I was puzzled by this book, which deals with a concept he calls horizontal identity – children who are different from their parents due to deafness, dwarfism, severe disability, or even things like being born of rape. I wasn’t sure what it all had in common, or whether I should be insulted by the idea that having a disabled child was similar to having a child who commits mass murder. Anyway, I put it aside and read it and accepted perhaps we shouldn’t place these experiences in a hierarchy. Each chapter stands alone and simply recounts the experiences of families dealing with these “differences.” He tends to the extreme – his examples on disability were all families of kids with multiple severe disability, and I found his chapter on autism particularly bleak. But he resists easy, pat summaries – discussing the controversial Ashley Treatment with sensitivity and compassion to both sides of the debate. His strength is that he lets the stories speak for themselves, and they in turn speak to the larger human experience. I felt profound empathy for what they were going through, even in stories where parents walked away and said “Sorry, I can’t do this.”

Baby Doll Shirt

Sewing can’t always be about the kids!  Sometimes it’s important to sew for yourself too!  And with spring right around the corner and my return to work impending (less than a month) I thought I’d freshen up my wardrobe with a few things made for me.

My lovely sister-in-law sent me Christine Haynes’ book Chic and Simple Sewing after seeing me lust after it in a quilt shop.  I decided to make this baby doll shirt first, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. Pardon the goofy photo – next time I’ll model it against my back fence or something, but in the meantime, here it is.

The book is called “Chic and Simple” and the shirt was indeed simple to put together – it took me about an hour and a half.  It’s definitely a baggy baby doll, but I like the look.  It would also be cute tucked in to a high-waisted skirt or pants.

My sister-in-law warned me that some of the reviews on Amazon Canada were a bit negative.  But I’m pleased with it – there are several projects in it that I’d like to do, including a couple of tops, a dress, and a very basic skirt.  The author also includes some basic techniques, like learning working with bias tape and gathering. Another feature I really liked is that it tells you exactly which pattern pieces to cut out for each project. I have a few books like this, and in some of them you really have to hunt to find what you’re supposed to cut out, and halfway through you might realise you forgot a cuff or a facing.

The book is definitely one for very beginners – none of the projects are remotely tailored, and hence are all quite casual. There are no zippers or even buttonholes.  Still, I think this is a great book for someone just starting to make clothing. I know it’s given me some confidence. Although I haven’t shied away from making stuff for the kids, for some reason I’ve been intimidated to make things for myself. But since this top worked out so nicely, my next project for me is going to be a linen and silk jacket from another, slightly more advanced, level book I have.

(Fabric for the shirt is from Denyse Schmidt’s Hope Valley Collection in Piney Woods.)