Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blast from the past...a tribute to Carol!

I will be the first to admit that this whole blogging concept is rather new to me. I don't really know how it works, or how to set it up to let me know when I have comments. And so, just a few minutes ago, as I was about to start working on a post about Anne's finished quilt, I discovered a comment on another post from June from CAROL - my friend who I babysat for for several years when I was in my tweens/teens. I can't tell you how happy this made me! I don't even know how she found me on here, but I'm so glad that she did!

My brother, Rob, first babysat for Carol's older son, Frankie, but as my brother got older and more involved in high school activities, I inherited the role. Frankie was a great kid, but he was a kid, not a baby, and he could really wear me out trying to keep up with him (and yes, thinking of that makes me scared as we contemplate starting a family)! If I couldn't keep up with a 3-year old then, what makes me think I'll be able to at 39 or 40!? Of course, Carol is the answer to that question, too, since she had a great career as a businesswoman with a copier company, as I recall, before/during her kids early years.

When Carol had Michael in her late 30s (38?), I absolutely fell in love with this adorable little baby. I didn't even mind that I had to have a special outfit (called my "Michael" outfit...this fabulous knit shirt and shorts from Banana Republic) that I always wore because, without fail, he always spit up all over me at some point in my visit. It didn't matter...I could hold and rock and coo at Michael for hours (even if he fell asleep in my arms!). It was Carol who taught me all the early things I needed to know about taking care of children, and she really boosted my self-confidence/self-esteem by giving me a lot of responsibility for helping with him.

I remember once...I guess Frankie must have been somewhere else (pre-school or with his dad), and Carol and I took Michael to the grocery store. I carried him around while we shopped, and as we were checking out, the clerk made some comment to me about "how cute my baby was". I think I was maybe 12 or 13 at the time, so I was slightly appalled that anyone thought I was already having babies, but I was also very tall (at least 5'8" at that point...though I don't think I'd hit my final growth spurt to get me up to my current 5'11"+), and I doted on Michael like he was my baby, so it made sense. (This was in that strange time before MTV had shows about being "13 and Pregnant", so the concept was foreign to me, but I think I did like pretending that I was his mom!)

Of course, Carol taught me all sorts of things besides baby care. I loved all things "crafty", and my mom really was the opposite of crafty/artsy-fartsy (hysterical now that she runs an art gallery and makes fussy polymer clay jewelry and filgree work), so Carol was my substitute craft-mom. I remember us working on Halloween costumes for the kids, and we tried sewing clothes...a pair of shorts has been a source of quite a bit of laughter over the years, since I kept sewing them time they looked like a skirt with an upside down "U" in the front and back. (Carol, I'm still not great at sewing clothes, though still trying occasionally!) I actually still have some of the early outfits we sewed at my parents' house, I think. Looking back on it now, I think that both Carol and my other babysitting customer (next door neighbor Cathy) probably liked having a girl to do girly stuff with, since they both had sons, plus I was a very eager and interested sponge for anything related to home-making/crafts. I was also a pretty mature kid, I think, perhaps because many of my friends from my childhood were neighborhood ladies or the wives of my dad's work colleagues. (When I was in second grade and living in Alabama, I liked to visit "Ms. Sheila" because she'd let me use pledge on her furniture (a big no-no in our home) and then we'd bake cookies...yes...this thought cracks me up now! If I don't have a daughter, I totally need to find a little girl who likes to dust and will clean my house in exchange for attention, kind words, and making cookies!)

This is a long lead-in (and fun trip for me down memory lane) to the story of my first ever quilt. I wanted to make something special for Michael, and I was primarily a cross-stitcher at that point, so I cross-stitched a really cute big bunny in the middle of a large block of teal fabric, and then I made a patchwork top of squares around the central square from dark teal and light teal. I feel certain I didn't bind it properly - I'd guess I did a fold-over binding. I think it was a tied-quilt, since I don't recall knowing how to actually hand-quilt at that point. This was probably about 20 years ago. The fabric was from Jo-Anns or Hancocks, and it had a sheen to it, so I wonder now if it was even cotton. I'm sure I bought it for the color (a color that I still love today). I actually found a scrap of that fabric when I was home in August going through old stuff that my mom has been storing for forever, and I brought it back up here, so I'll have to try to see if I can figure out the fabric content!)

Anyway, in Carol's comment on that other post, she let me know that Michael still has that quilt today! I cannot express how happy that makes me! I haven't seen any of them in many, many years...I got older and had my own high school activities (perhaps even more so than my brother), and then I went off to college and my parents moved away from the old neighborhood, and I lost touch. I saw that I had a follower named Carol, and I wondered who she was because the picture is so small that I couldn't really recognize her (and wondered who this person was, since I only have a few followers!). Of course, now it all makes perfect sense! Who better to see my evolution as a crafter than my first "craft-mom"!

So, Carol, if you see this, please look at my note on the bottom of the earlier post, and please send me an e-mail (ellegtown at gmail dot com) so I can get in touch with you. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to update this post with a picture of that old quilt that must be tattered and falling apart by now! And more importantly, I'll get to catch up with an old friend whom I met when she was just a few years older than the age I am now. Wow...what a fantastic blast from the past!


  1. Ellen, you are so kind; you will always be very special to me (even though we can't sew shorts!!!) I will take a photo of Michael's quilt and e-mail it to your gmail account. Love ya!

  2. Oh hooray! I'm so excited and looking forward to catching up!


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