By the skin of my teeth.

Dear friends,

I finished my very first quilt earlier this week . . .

. . . the one I started in this post, and struggled mightily with in this post, and finished the “flimsy” in this post. (By the way, a “flimsy” is a quilt top waiting to be quilted.)

If you’re doing the math, I started and finished the quilt top in about month. Then I did nothing for nearly three months.

Well, not exactly nothing. Actually, I started six additional quilts and finished five of them. But the first one — well, it languished.

I can’t explain why because I had a deadline. And it was the most sentimental of all my projects. I had intended to finish the quilt in time for Kate to take it back to college. I knew it might take a month or two for a quilter to quilt it for me (waits of 4-8 weeks are common in the quilting world), so by mid-July when I had failed to wrap up the finishing touches, I knew I had blown my deadline. Earlier this summer I had purchased Kate a store-bought quilt for her home bed, so I told her to take it to college instead and maybe we’d have her mother-crafted quilt ready by Fall Break.

So a couple of weeks ago I knuckled down and spent a Saturday finishing up the final details. I pieced a backing and I spent a few hours hand-embroidering Kate’s name and the date on one of the blocks. Then I bundled the whole thing up and delivered it to a friend’s mother who promised to put it in the hands of her favorite expert quilter several hours away.

Unfortunately, the “expert” was backlogged past November.

This did not fit into my plans.

Fortunately, my friend’s mother graciously agreed to do it for me instead. (This is a woman who’s been quilting for decades and had more than one quilt accepted at the prestigious Paducah quilt show, so I’m not really sure how she doesn’t consider herself the “expert.”) She knew Kate had left for college two days earlier and my deadline was blown, but she inexplicably decided to do it right away anyway.

There is where it gets weird.

Turns out, Kate ended up coming back home unexpectedly. She had left a week early in order to attend a wedding and shuttle her tennis teammates from the big-city airport to their small-town college. But with several days left before classes started, she decided to make another trip home for more gear.

About two hours after Kate arrived home, my friend’s mother called to say she had finished quilting Kate’s quilt. This gave me a little more than 24 hours to bind the quilt and FINISH-finish it before Kate headed back to college. It wasn’t ideal, but I stayed up well past 2:00 am that night and crossed the finish line with less than four hours to spare.

And Kate drove back to college with quilt in hand, as originally planned.

Can I get an amen?

Oh yeah . . . Would you like to see it?

(I thought so.)


Here’s a close-up view:


And here’s a photo Kate texted me after she made her bed at college. It sure made my heart happy to know she’ll be sleeping under my labor of love every night.


(It didn’t make me happy that she didn’t pack an iron and her new bedskirt is wrinkled, but that’s the mother in me, I suppose.)

With gratitude {for serendipitous but totally cool outcomes},

Joan, who thinks the Pottery Barn Teen sheets we snagged on deep discount are a perfect match

The first sign of Fall.

Dear friends,

In my world, the first sign of Fall is the school photo.

Not cooler temps, not football, not aisles of school supplies including “a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils” (name that movie!), all of which have arrived in our corner of the world.

No — the real first sign of Fall for me is the ubiquitous school photo, that 2″X3″ technicolor reminder of poor wardrobe choices, goofy smiles, and regrettable hairstyles.

Every now and then, though, a good one comes along. And forgive me if I brag by noting I received a good one yesterday. Take a look:

I’m not sure when school photos got all fancy and stuff, but I’ve noticed the last couple of years we’ve had far more ordering options. I don’t even remember selecting this particular three-shot lineup, but I was delighted to see it sitting on my kitchen island when I got home last night.

I used to think my boy had a whole lotta me in him, but these days all I see are Mr. Mom. Some days I feel like I have two versions of my husband under foot — Mr. Mom 1.0 and Mr. Mom 3.0. Fortunately, both versions seem to run compatibly in our household.

By the way, it feels like approximately 2.47 weeks ago that I came home to find this school photo on the kitchen counter.

I promise not to get all weepy on you, but I do want to say this:


Sorry. I’ll contain myself now.

By the way, the “adorable child” gene did not come from me. My dear sweet Gram saved every single one of my school photos in a small Hallmark book titled “What is a Grandmother?” that I gave her when I was a child. She glued one or two photos to each page of the book and carefully noted the school year and the grade of each. You only need to flip through a couple of pages to figure out I’m not the source of my children’s photogenic features.

That third grade overbite was a doozy, though I have to give my mother props for choosing the snazzy plaid jumper and crisp white blouse.

Before I get off the nostalgia wagon, I just want to mention that I have vivid (and fond) memories of my first- and second- grade portrait outfits. Both were made by Danskin. Does anybody else remember their line of girls’ knit basics — jumpers and turtlenecks and skirts and trousers in Dick-and-Jane shades of navy, red and white? I recall they were a little pricey, more than my single mother could afford, but my Gram always took me “school clothes shopping” and always seemed to find a way to buy several pieces of Danskin to round out my back-to-school wardrobe.

Parker’s back-to-school wardrobe this year consisted of a new pair of athletic shoes and four t-shirts ordered online. Sixteen-year-old boys wear a lot of t-shirts and seem to prefer shopping online rather than going to stores with their mothers, who might or might not hover outside the dressing room and insist they model every conceivable combination of apparel within reach. It’s a modern parenting dilemma I’m learning to live with.

But only until I have grandchildren and get a do-over.

With gratitude {for school photos of my children that on any given day make me weep, but that just might be a sign of aging},

Joan, who invites you to leave a comment about a memorable school photo and thereby convince her that the Year of the Overbite wasn’t the worst in school-photo history