In the past year our family has undergone a series of changes. Don’t get me wrong, some of these changes were tough challenges, but as happens with life they came together in a way that had a lot of upside.
A little over a year ago, my husband and I were both working full-time, with one kid in first grade and the other finishing up pre-k. Our hours were bananas. In particular, my husband, who worked in retail management regularly worked 80 hours a week, making me the parent responsible for kid pick-up and drop off most days – and I was usually the first one to drop off and the last to pick up. We did a good job of keeping up regular family dinners, but other than that , we often felt like ships passing in the night. Suffice to say, we were tired and we felt that our faced-paced lives were making it hard to slow down and focus on each other. We knew we needed a reset, but didn’t quite know where to find that button. Then, something happened that would force our hand.
Around this time we noticed that our youngest son, Jackson, (4 years old at the time) seemed to be losing weight. He was otherwise healthy, so we assumed he was just having a growth spurt. However, a couple of days after we noticed it, I was curious enough that I decided to measure him and see exactly how much he had grown. And he hadn’t. Not at all. So, of course I put him on the scale, and long story short he had lost about 10% of his body weight. Naturally we were concerned, so I took him to the pediatrician the next day. To my surprise, the first test they did was a blood sugar test, and his level was literally to high for the meter to read. The doctor confirmed that he had Type 1 Diabetes and immediately sent us to the Children’s Hospital.
Three days later we emerged from the hospital with a still mostly healthy child, but with a diagnosis that would change our lives. His Type 1 story is a story in its own, but the important thing in the context of this blog is that it was the push we needed to make some life changes.
My husband left his job and we agreed that he would likely stay home indefinitely, not only to help manage Jackson’s care, but also to support our commitment to more quality family time. And I accepted a job which included a relocation from our beloved Colorado to Georgia. So, we loaded up the kids and moved across the country, determined to make a fresh start with new priorities and focus.
Once we settled into our new routine, I started thinking – for the first time since before the kids were born – about pursuing a hobby. Thanks to my husband staying at home, and a new work culture that is more supportive of work-life balance, I had spare time. Not a ton of time (I still had a 4 and 6 year old to contend with), but enough that I had the opportunity to invest some back into myself.
Now, I had always enjoyed sewing and remembered fondly making the boys’ baby quilts. To me, quilts are like a 3D puzzle (and I have always loved puzzles)- they provide hands-on challenges in problem solving that allow me to grow my creativity. Moreover, my Grandma Mary, who had been a huge inspiration to me, was an avid quilter and seamstress. I couldn’t help but think that pursuing quilting in earnest would help me honor her quilting legacy.
So I set out to begin my quilting journey in earnest. I started combing through quilting websites and worked through some small projects in a beginner quilting book. I learned pretty quickly, that although my sewing machine was a little dynamo, it was going to be very difficult to quilt anything larger than a baby quilt on it – due mostly to the very small throat space. I talked to my husband and we agreed (through some tense conversations) that I would invest in a new machine and set the budget at $3,000. For us, $3,000 was a lot of money, especially on our now single income, if you’ve looked around in the sewing machine market, you know that it’s a pretty conservative budget. I have more information about my sewing machine search on my recommendations page, but the important thing is that about 6 months ago I became the proud owner of a Janome domestic sewing machine…with a HUGE throat space :).
The next investment was fabric. I had hardly any stash to speak of, and if you know fabric, you know how easy it is to walk into a fabric store and walk out with over $100 of fabric. I knew that since I needed a lot of practice pieces to start on, it wouldn’t make sense to spend a ton of money on fabric, nor would it work in our budget. Then one day on the way home from work I started thinking about the incredible stash that my grandmother had and wondered what had happened to all of her fabric. A few phone calls later and two of my aunts had lovingly agreed to share parts of their stashes (part theirs/part grandma’s) with me. And only a few weeks later, my parents visited and brought me the mother load of fabric.
During this time I picked up a few other notions along the way (see recommendations page) and started making my list of quilting projects to try. With my new machine, stash, and other tools in place, I was ready to hit the ground running.