Restitching the favor.

Dear friends,

Forty years ago, I was an ungainly young girl, where ungainly equals skinny, bucktoothed, freckled, and half a foot taller than most of my contemporaries. Looking back, you could have called me a living illustration of the word awkward.

Of all the things that made me uncomfortable about my appearance, I was most sensitive about my height. In the ’70s, clothing sizes were much more limited than they are today.  If you were “unlucky” enough to be both skinny and tall, you had a heckuva time finding clothing that fit. All my shoes were flats, all my jeans had fringed bottoms (I let out the hems to create another half inch in inseam length), and all my nightgowns looked like they belonged to a child five years my junior. I fretted excessively over my lot in life.

Then one year, my dear friend Julie gave me a special gift: an extra-long flannel nightgown that she had sewn herself. I couldn’t believe when I opened up the package and tried on the gown to see that it fell all the way to the floor! For the first time in my life, my feet and ankles were not visible under the hem of my nightgown, even when I raised my arms. I later learned that while making my special gift, Julie had forced her brother — a tall farmboy — to try on the gown and stand still for several minutes while she pinned the hem to the proper length. I’m not sure Julie’s brother has ever forgiven her for that onerous chore and I chuckle to this day when I imagine a teenaged cowboy trying to stand still in a flannel nightgown just so Boney Joanie could have one garment that didn’t make her feel like a freak.

<Go ahead . . . take a minute to smile about such a touching gesture of friendship>

Anyway, despite the fact that I, too, knew my way around a sewing machine, I never managed to make a single item for my friends. And as you know if you’ve been reading my posts, I only recently took up sewing again after a 20-year hiatus.

So it seemed high time to return the favor, don’t you think?

That’s where this little cutie comes in.

tucker

He’s the apple of Julie’s eye, her first grandchild, a tow-headed little boy named Tucker. Here he is “watering flowers” with JuJu on her front porch.

He turns 1 on July 9th and, earlier this week, I sent a package to him with this in it:

tuckerquilt

I think it’s my cutest quilt yet (says the woman who’s made all of three quilts). Here’s a closer look:

tuckerquilt2

I’m pretty happy with those purty stitches, thanks to my new Bernina. There’s not an unintentional pucker or pleat anywhere, and my corners are beautifully mitered. It’s my best work yet, and I couldn’t be happier to share my new passion in tribute to my thoughtful friend. It’s been a long time coming, but I hope sweet little Tucker sleeps as contentedly wrapped in my quilt as I did in the nightgown his grandmother made long ago.

With gratitude {for lifelong friends of the J variety},

Joan, who learned in her 20s to embrace her stature and now regularly wears high heels because she’s still only the third tallest person in her family

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The Js.

Dear friends,

Three sweet daughters in their matching outfits before they got old enough to just say no.

Every summer for a very long time, I’ve gone on a trip that I look forward to more than most anything else in my life.

Girls’ Weekend!!! (The exclamation points indicate a squeal.)

I know plenty of women who kick up their heels together on a girls’ trip. Heck, I think they made a movie about it — a little picture called “Bridesmaids.”

But my particular girls’ trip is more awesome (awesomely better?) than anybody else’s because I go with my childhood friends. And my childhood friends happen to have daughters who are childhood friends — and we bring our daughters on our annual trip. So we’re a group of BFF mothers with a group of BFF daughters, all having the time of our lives together every single summer.

The women in my life most dear to me are known as the Js. I don’t why the stars aligned in this way, but at age 10 when my mother moved us to our hometown, I became fast friends with Jamie, Johnna, Julie and Janet. We are the 5Js and we’ve remained close friends to this day. Until a year ago when I moved away, four of the five of us lived in our hometown.

In the early years, only three of us (and our daughters) traveled. Along the way, another one of the Js was able to join our summer trips. Our first trip was in 1993, only a few months after Kate was born. She just turned 19, so you get the idea how long the Js and our daughters have been doing this.

In the early years, we went to a lot of amusement parks and water parks in every major city within a day’s drive of our hometown. Our exotic destinations included spots like Wichita, Kansas City, St. Louis, Branson, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Tulsa, and San Antonio. In recent years, we’ve spent most our time shopping and eating in those same cities — and always staying up late and laughing ourselves silly in our hotel rooms. We laugh at old stories we love to tell every single year (our daughters — two of whom are now in college — never seem to tire of hearing about the J’s high school adventures), and we tell a few new stories in our lives by way of catch up.

In the early years, we bought our daughters matching outfits and dressed them alike for our outings. I don’t remember at what age they declared “no more,” but I can’t help that I miss the sweet young faces of our daughters in their matching outfits gracing our trip photos. These days, we tend to buy matching t-shirts at one place or another.

This year, the girls are coming to my house because they haven’t yet visited me in my new place. We plan to hit a nearby outlet mall and take a float trip on the river. I’m going to cook something really yummy for them and show them the sights in our scenic new home, and I’m sure the seven of us will camp out in my den until the wee hours laughing and being girls.

In keeping with the new age we live in, I planned this year’s trip by text. And without fail, after the date was agreed upon yesterday, I got texts from all my girls saying things like I can’t wait! I miss you!!! Love you!

I love my girls and their daughters and I can’t wait to see them, too.

With gratitude {for friends who know the name of the first boy I kissed, who shopped for prom dresses with me, who propped me up when a boy broke my heart in college, who stood by my side as I married Mr. Mom, who diapered my babies, who cried with me when my mother died, and who would turn heaven and earth upside down for me if I needed them to},

Joan, who can’t imagine what life would be like if her name didn’t start with J