It’s been a long time, friends. I apologize for neglecting this blog for so very long, but I do at least have a pretty fantastic excuse for my absence, and she is the very cutest creature on the planet.
As the most smitten auntie in the world, I am exuberantly proud to introduce my niece, Miss Raya Langdon Chernov. She is the apple of my eye, the light of my life, the honey in my bee. Raya was born on Tuesday, January 25th at 1:41 am and weighed 6 pounds and 4 ounces. From the very instant my brother, Gabe, and my sister-in-law, Erin, laid eyes on their gorgeous daughter, they knew that she was a Chernov—as through and through as a Chernov could be.
In the days leading up to my trip home to meet Raya, I worked feverishly and furiously—ok, manically—on a very special gift for my new favorite person. In fact, I stayed awake into wee hours of the morning, several days in a row, slaving over my sturdy Brother sewing machine in order to finish this project in time for my trip to Milwaukee.
Now we all know what a crafty lady I am, and how I can sometimes lose myself in a hardcore crafting twilight zone. I love to spread my fabric and supplies all around me on the rug in my living room, put on some mindless TV for background noise, and get my sewing on. Making something special for my brand new, first-ever niece felt pretty amazing in itself, but the nature of this project amplified that feeling ten-fold.
It has been nine years since my father died, and all this time, my family has kept his clothing and shoes largely untouched. We’ve each taken a few favorite shirts or sweaters, but his closet remains fully stocked. At first, there just didn’t seem to be any pressing reason to clear those things out, and I loved being able to open the doors to his closet at camp, lean into the hanging clothes, and bury my face in whatever fading remnant of his smell I could find. The years passed, and then Raya was born. And when she came into the family, all of my father’s clothing suddenly took on a new purpose: I would make baby blankets out of the things my father wore, so that Raya, who is named in honor of my father, could feel the warmth of her grandpa’s love all around her—in both spirit-form and blanket-form. It almost feels as though his clothes were just waiting for a grandbaby all this time.
When the packages arrived with my father’s favorite shirts and sweaters, I carefully opened the packing tape and gently lifted the shirts to my face. I closed my eyes and let my cheeks drop down into the familiar fabric, breathing in deeply while tears began to wet my eyelashes. His smell was long gone, but I was comforted at least by the smell of our house at camp—the smell of home.
I set to work, measuring and cutting, pinning and sewing, all while wearing my dad’s favorite REI chamois shirt so that I could better feel his presence with me as I worked. After about 40 total hours, two broken needles, 15 shirts, four spools of thread, and one very sore back, I had three fittingly sloppy but adorable baby blankets of varying thickness and size. I even made a distinctly ugly blanket to honor my dad’s fondness for incredibly ugly clothing, which wasn’t hard to accomplish given the selection of shirts I had available.
Laying Raya on these blankets in her sun-light nursery, we all felt my father’s presence enter and fill the room. I know that he is surrounding our family during these happy days, watching over our new little Chernov and keeping her safe.
Raya looked so happy and peaceful resting on her patchwork grandpa blanket. And as I pulled the camera away to reset the flash, a sneaky little half-smile formed on Raya’s lips that sure did remind me of her Papa Richard.