Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What I Made Wednesday: Pumpkin Patch Apparel

(Warning: Long explanation about problems with my embroidery machine, followed by pics of Halloween Shirts.)

My embroidery machine and I are not friends right now.

Back in July, I started having some trouble with the alignment-- the machine would embroider the bottom half of a letter then move ever-so-slightly to embroider the top half. It looked awful. I was able to complete the design on Liam's birthday shirt, but when it came to adding his name, I had someone else do it.

Fall is so event heavy-- that means I make Halloween shirts, a Birthday shirt for Jack, Thanksgiving shirts and Christmas shirts for the boys. So, it was time to get the problem taken care of. Last week, I took my machine to a local sewing shop and had it serviced & cleaned. I described to them what it was doing and they determined that there's not a problem with the alignment of the machine-- they said it was a problem with the memory card.

So I bought a new memory card. I brought it home, loaded my designs & did a test. No go. I thought, maybe it's the design that I created-- maybe the file is corrupt? So, I recreated it. Nope, still doesn't look right. I noticed that there was a recently released update to my software, so I installed it. Nice try.

Out of the 20-something tests I did, at one point, it appeared that if I did an applique design in one file and the lettering in another, it would work. But then, when I tried it tonight, the lettering is still skewed. I thought, well, I could try the built-in fonts on my machine... but even those seem to be hit or miss.

It's really frustrating and I'm not sure what my next step is. I'm definitely going to take back the new memory card, because it's obviously not the issue... but if the repair guy says he can't find anything wrong with the machine, what do I do? These machines are VERY expensive. I make a lot of the boys' clothing (and save a lot of money by doing so!) and I NEED it to work.

Here's the silver lining-- even though the lettering is messed up (Goodbye personalized stuff! Grrr!), my appliques seem to be stitching just fine. So, while I'm not necessarily making the shirts exactly how I want them, I can still do some holiday designs for the kids. And if I *have* to put their names on them, I could always have someone else do them-- although this kills me. I know it'll get fixed eventually-- I just need a new plan. 

So... Halloween Shirts! I sat down today to work on these-- a little late, considering Halloween is two weeks from today, but what else is new? (I rarely make the boys' holiday stuff early enough for them to get a lot of use out of it, unfortunately.) We're going on a train ride to a pumpkin patch this weekend & I wanted the boys to wear their shirts! 

I did Liam's this afternoon & will do Jack's on Friday while the boys are at school. Last year, I did all of the truck appliques: Pumpkin in a Truck, Christmas Tree in a Truck, etc. I wanted to do something different this year. 

A Spider!
(This design had so many stitches-- it took FOREVER, but I think it was worth it!)

First time I've ever appliqued on a tshirt that's not white!
Also, I can't get enough of gingham. Ever.

 Liam LOVES this shirt. When I showed it to him after his nap, he immediately asked to put it on.  When he and Rob went on their nightly walk & I tried to get him to change his shirt, he threw a fit said said "Want to wear it!"

He kept walking around, pointing to it, saying, "Spider!"

Kid Approved-- Liam's Pumpkin Patch ready!
(Maybe this weekend, we'll get shots of him in some pants!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Blakely Boys' Pajama Party

 I'm linking up today with my friend Meredith, over at The Tichenor Family for her Little Skeletons Virtual Pajama Party! Meredith came up with the super cute idea to pick a night, have all of us dress our kids in their Halloween skeleton pjs, then take pics, post them & link up!

Here are The Blakely Boys in their scary skeletons!

Next up, I need to snap some shots of the boys in their pumpkin pjs-- I LOVE Halloween! Liam's already practicing saying "Trick or Treat!"

(Also, my kids *really* need haircuts.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

For the Boys: Glow Bath

I'm a crafty & creative mama. 

I like to plan parties for my boys and sew them outfits & make them fun gifts. I've been thinking lately though, that a lot of my efforts in being creative towards the kids involve special occasions & things that they really are too young to appreciate or really care about.

I'm not saying that I don't want to do these things for the boys-- I do. I love pulling together ideas to celebrate their birthdays in style. I am so proud when I see them dressed in an appliqued shirt & a pair of pants I made for them. These things are just small ways that I show my mama love for my boys & I have no intentions of quitting these things.


What I really want to do is to make sure that (in addition to those things) I'm putting my creative energy towards things that my boys will enjoy right now. I have so many fun activities/crafts pinned on Pinterest that I've seen and thought, "That's a great idea!"-- but the boys are either too young for some of the activities or I just pin them & forget about them. 

Not anymore.

Last week, when I was strolling through the Dollar Spot at Target I stopped to look at all of the Halloween stuff-- glow sticks were 2/$1, glow bracelets were 15/$1 and a mini black light was $2.50. It all went into the cart. That night, when he finished dinner, Liam had a bath.

Three purple glow sticks, the mini black light & a handful of bracelets-- He couldn't wait to get in & play!

I can't even describe how much he loved it-- He stayed in the tub for an hour and a half saying, "Nice Bath!" & "These are nice bracelets!" After he's felt SO crappy for the past week, it was really good to be able to let him do something really fun-- and the steam (we emptied and refilled the tub several times) was great for his croup!

I stocked up on glow sticks & bracelets & we've done several more glow baths since that first night!

A little money saving tip I've learned so that we don't go broke buying glow sticks: You can freeze them & they will last more than one night-- They stop glowing when the liquid inside freezes, but they'll glow again once they defrost!

There are some more fun bath things that I'd like to do-- I've seen some DIY glow in the dark bath paint that would be fun to make. I'd also like to get some glow in the dark stars and put them all over the bathroom or Liam's bedroom to surprise him one night.

Hopefully, this is the first of many fun new activities for the boys!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Baby It's Cold Outside.

(Ok, well, it was...Yesterday morning it was in the low 50's. Today it was almost 80.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

I broke my blog.


Well actually, IntenseDebate broke my blog.

Last August, I installed this program to help manage my comments-- What a HUGE mistake. The feature that sold me on it was the ability to directly respond to someone's comment, underneath the comment that they'd made, so that if someone asked a question, it was easy to provide a clear response. (This is a feature that Blogger has added since then, I believe.)

Anyway, I installed it and everything worked well for a while...until it didn't. Back in February, they made some changes to their widget installation & I started noticing that comments were disappearing from my posts. I'd look back to something I wrote 6 months ago--  a post that I knew had comments-- and it would say that I had none. I ignored the problem figuring that they'd come back eventually.

Well, over the past few weeks, I've noticed that the comment formatting under each post was entirely screwed up. When I looked at my most recent post, it would show I had 6 comments, 1 comment, 5 comments, 3 comments-- it was listing comments from previous posts on the current post! Not only is the annoying to me, but it makes it confusing for anyone who wanted to comment to know where to click.

I could fix the last issue by uninstalling the widget and adding it into my blog template, but I'd read enough to know that this was a disaster-- if I ever wanted to remove it, I would have to wipe out my entire blog design and rebuild it. The company seems to have gone completely M.I.A.-- they haven't posted anything on their website since Feb 2012 and I've read site after site of users who are furious that they are not getting any response from customer support.

I decided to uninstall it. I'm glad it's done, but here's the (really) bad news:

1) I have lost all comments that anyone has made on my blog since 8/5/11. This just hurts. I've had so much love and support through these comments-- especially through Jack's birth. It killed me to know that if I got rid of IntenseDebate, it would take all of the comments with it... but they were already randomly missing and giving me problems-- I figured that the longer I had it installed, the worse it would be to uninstall it later.

2) For some reason my comments are not turned on for any prior posts that were created while I was using IntenseDebate. I can manually go into each post and enable comments, but that will take a while. I'll probably just do this for my last 10 posts or so until I figure out a faster solution.
I'm sure that this is a much bigger deal to me than to anyone who reads this blog, but I wanted to explain where all of the comments went in case anyone noticed! So it's back to Blogger commenting for now-- and while it's not perfect, I can at least count on my comments not to disappear.

So thank you, to those of you who take the time to comment-- even though I can't go back and read them, the words you wrote are still with me.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Odds & Ends or "Croup is Crap"

 Just some random updates from the Blakely Crew:
  • Liam woke up with a 103 fever after his nap on Sunday. As the hours passed on Sunday night, he lost his voice, started sounding hoarse and his breathing sounded wheezy & labored. Monday morning, I took him to the doctor & he was diagnosed with croup. We're wading through Tylenol, steroids, humidifiers, steam showers and everything we can to make him feel better. The cough has gotten worse, but the fever has gotten better. No school for him this week but I think we'll see improvement in the next few days.
  • Tuesday night I started feeling congested & yesterday I woke up with a fever. Today I feel like I've been hit by a truck-- my head hurts, I'm congested, cough, runny nose, low grade fever...just generally crappy. It could be a sinus infection, it could be the virus that caused Liam's croup-- who knows? I started an antibiotic this morning, just in case, but otherwise I'm living on Mucinex D & just trying to survive the day.
Edited to Add: I went to my ENT on Friday because the ear & teeth pain/pressure were more than I could handle at this point. Yep, a sinus infection on the right side of my face, according to my x-rays. I got a steroid shot, an antibiotic shot & 10 days of oral steroids and antibiotics. So glad I went to a specialist instead of a doc-in-the-box who would have felt my glands and sent me home with a z-pack.
  •   Jack slept until noon yesterday-- I knew he was obviously sick before I even went into his room. Yep, 102.4 degree temp. Doc says it's likely it's the same virus that Liam has & that if he starts the wheezy breathing or cough to give them a call back (it's possible to just have the same virus that doesn't actually progress to croup).
  • I'm fully recovered from Liam's Birthday party and my etsy shop has re-opened. I may end up putting it on vacation again near Jack's party, but right now I don't feel so overwhelmed that I can't fill an order here and there. I have so many new designs that I've worked on over the past few months. I need to create listings for them all!
  • Speaking of Jack's party, I'm finishing up his invites now & hope to put together a post in the next week or so outlining my ideas! It will be less complicated than Liam's party (pizza & a dessert table), but I still hope to pull off some nice personalized touches. Can't believe my little man will be ONE in 5 weeks!!!
  • And last, Rob and I are celebrating 4 years of marriage today-- I use the word celebrate loosely,  seeing as we have two sick babies & all I want to do is lay around on the couch and moan about how awful I feel, but we have plans for a fancy dinner out as soon as we're all back among the living.