Growing up, I was the only girl on one side of my extended family for many years. Then, they just kept bringing home one little girl after another for a lot of years. When it was just me and the boys, I learned to love a lot of things that my brother and cousins did. Do not get me wrong. I was ALL GIRL, playing countless hours of dollies dreaming of the day I would have a huge family, but I loved baseball, football, muscle cars, building things, and superheroes as much as they did. I am so thankful those conventions of my childhood are starting to break down.
The first weekend I met my future in-laws we took all the grandkids (one niece and two nephews at that time) to a petting zoo. I don’t remember why there was a petting zoo, but I do recall pushing the old umbrella style stroller with my little tow-headed niece down the streets of Leeds, North Dakota.
From the first moment, I was smitten. If I wasn’t going to marry this wonderful guy, could I, at least, keep these kiddos and this family? When I later learned that the oldest nephew loved a certain clan of superheroes, this news only solidified my thoughts of love at first sight. My future nephew’s favorite was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For years, my sweetie and I would search high and low to find the perfect TMNT items for Derek’s gifts for Christmas and birthday. Whenever we would visit, we would watch the cartoons together. All these years later, Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Master Splinter feel like old friends. I can never take a home-baked pizza out of the oven, and not think of one of the turtles wearing oven mitts doing the same thing.
Over the years, his interests changed as he grew and matured, and he is now a husband and daddy himself. But I never forgot about all the hours we would spend bonding over the latest way our favorite mutant reptiles would battle Shredder and his lackeys, Bebop and Rocksteady. Many times in my daydreams, I remember joy savored in the days long gone. So this last year I put my mind to preserving some of that joy by making a quilt for Derek and his little girl for his birthday and her Christmas present.
I thought this would be a great plan since our TMNT friends were making a comeback. Maybe if I lived in a larger area or maybe if I was a last minute gift planner, that plan would have come to fruition easier. It however did not. I could not physically find fabric anywhere. Rather than despairing, I called my sister (I dropped the in-law moniker years ago) and asked if by chance she had saved any of the bedding our boy had years ago. Not only did she, but she had just ran across it! As a busy mom of busy kids, knowing where something is located is a incredible feat in and of itself.
Words do not adequately express how thrilled I was when I got the flannel fitted sheet, but I will confess to being more than a little nervous. This worn flannel was a precious part of his childhood. I had a hard time cutting it into quilt squares. Once I finally mustered the courage, there was no turning back. I wanted the quilt to be cuddle sized for each recipient, and I wanted a simple design that exuded all things cartoon turtle. It didn’t take long to choose a fleece blanket backing with flannel squares in orange (for Mikey), red (for Raph), blue (for Leo), purple (for Donnie), and turtle green. The only difference between daddy’s and daughter’s quilts would be the addition of some denim squares in the larger quilt and a different sized quilt blocks due to the nature of the repeating pattern of the original sheet.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing. ~Proverbs 31:13 (MSG)
While I love quilting, cutting squares is not always my favorite thing to do. I chalk it up to having tiny hands; so I did have more than a few helpers on that part. The piecing and simple tie quilting were all my handiwork and I loved every minute of it. What an honor to accumulate those three original nieces and nephews and to have added four more on that side of the family and five more on the other side of the family! My dreams of a huge family came true, and with that dream came more blessings than I can even count, including these two cuddle bugs for sure.
Thanking God today for all the little boys and girls in my life over the years, and all the great adventures they have added to my world! Cowabunga!