Personalized Shirts

Here are some more new applique designs. This first one is for a race car-themed birthday party. Happy Birthday, Eli!

The football design works great for your littlest football fan or on a spirit shirt for mom with your school name or mascot. It's a fun way to promote your hometown team. I know our family is going to be sitting on some high school bleachers every Friday night this fall.
 This is how you announce your special day when you're 5:

Boy Burp Cloths

I've added several new embroidery designs to my library recently and have enjoyed trying them out. I especially like the fun, not-too-scary pirate ship. Any of these designs can be added to a onesie or t-shirt too.

Name Pillows

I just found lots of product photos from June that I never posted before I closed for the summer. These are several pillows I completed, including a set for 3 brothers who share a room. Bless that poor mom's heart.

The First Day

The day I thought I had dreaded since knowing that Tatum was my last and would one day walk through the door of a kindergarten classroom has come and gone. And I didn't shed a tear. It's actually kind of ... nice. Of course, I'm only about 48 hours into this whole new phase of my life, but so far, so good.

We have many traditions we celebrate before school starts that help to build excitement for the new year (and soften the blow of summer ending). Here's what we do:

The girls don't really enjoy school clothes shopping but like to try them on at home, so last year we established "The First Outfit Fashion Show". I lay out all their new clothes with matching accessories, they decide which ones they want to model for Tye and I, and we have a fun fashion show. I get to see how the clothes fit on them and we help them decide their best look for the first day of school. Dad's opinion carries a lot of weight.

Next, we make the traditional snickerdoodles for teacher gifts and for a snack after they get home on the first day when I make them recount their entire day to me from beginning to end. It eases the torture a little bit. Then we go up to their school (this year we had 2 campuses to visit!) and say a prayer together, asking for blessings throughout the year and praying for protection while they are away from home. We've done this since Ava started 6 years ago, and it just gives me a greater sense of peace watching them walk into school each morning. God has been so faithful in granting our requests each year, and we won't ever skip this important tradition. Finally, I buy a charm for each school-goer that represents their grade and I present it to her when she comes home. It got a lot more expensive this year with all 3, but one day they will hopefully have a bracelet full of charms that they will remember and cherish. This year's selections held specific meanings for each recipient and were:

Tatum was ecstatic on the first day of school. She was up at the crack of dawn, raring to go. At breakfast, her teeth were chattering she was so excited. There were a few moments of hesitation here and there, but when I finally left her in the care of her awesome, fun kinder teacher, she was sitting at her table coloring her Snow White picture like it was her job.

Gentry has grown and matured overnight, it seems! She stands almost eye to eye with me and walks around in my shoes at home (which are still thankfully a couple of sizes too big for her). She is so sweet with Tatum and takes her role as big sister very seriously at school. Yesterday I surprised them at pick-up time and met them to walk home together. Gentry was already holding Tatum's hand when they came out of the doors. Tatum saw me and her face fell, then she whispered something to her sister, who told me, "Um, she said she wants to walk home with just me. We'll meet you there." Okay, then. I took the shortcut home and waited for them to arrive. I think they'll do just fine.
I've had a harder time with this one. My big 5th grader. I vividly recall her first day of kindergarten, what I picked out for her to wear, where she sat and how we were all so glad to see her when she got home. Now she's taking another big step farther away from me. She's at a new school with a different academic approach, more technology, harder classes with kids whose parents I don't know. This child loves school like no other so I know she will do great, but for me, it's taking some adjusting, and I'm not just talking about the insane car pick-up line!
This next picture is a little misleading because they don't all go to the same school anymore, but I couldn't resist a photo of all 3 as we walked Tatum to her class. The older girls both subconsciously flanked her to escort her through the halls they know so well, pointing out every room and teacher we passed.
They made lots of these fun "Rolo pencils" for some of their favorite teachers/staff. My favorite part: they could put them together themselves!
It blew my mind a little bit to find out that one of Ava's teachers was a male. The possibility had never crossed my mind, and all of my teacher gifts are always for women! I had already made the gifts, complete with ribbon, when we discovered "she" was a "he" so we removed the ribbon, added the name, and Voila! A guy teacher gift!

My little sous chefs making the First Day snickerdoodles.
And finally, the traditional kindergarten signing of the school photo frame. Ava and Gentry both signed theirs before their kinder year, and Tatum's has stood blank for several years, waiting for her turn. As you can tell, penmanship is not her strong suit, and she insists on underlining everything, but it's legible.
Happy New School Year, everyone! I'm off to sew, uninterrupted, in my quiet house!

Pink, Brown and Green Pillow

I just completed 2 different custom pillows, both requested to match this Pottery Barn bedding. You know I'm a fan of pink, green and brown. A new favorite, though, is pink and gray, so get ready to see lots of it in upcoming posts.

Spirit Shirt

Kindergarten Rocks

I can't talk about this rationally yet. One of these shirts may or may not be for someone who lives in my house. How is it possible?

Pale Pink Baby Girl Set

Sweet and feminine. I especially love the 3-initial monogram.

I'm accumulating orders already and trying to assemble some fall/Halloween sample items as well. It's made for some VERY late but productive nights. I made a tactical error last night by listening to a Stephen King audiotape while I was working until around 2 a.m. I knew I couldn't sleep a wink after that tale of terror so I watched Youtube videos of surprise military homecomings until 3 and went right to sleep with a smile on my face. Those get me every time.

Pink and Brown Pom-Pom Pillow

I added a little extra something to this pillow. The customer requested ball fringe around the edges and I think it adds a fun touch of whimsy, don't you think?

Pillow with ball fringe - $30

Baby Boy Set

No ruffles or bows on this one. It says "all boy" and I love the simplicity of the onesie.

Monogram Onesie

This set was for a sweet friend who just had a precious baby girl after 2 little boys. I know she will love dressing her in lots of pink with big bows and frilly ruffles, and those big brothers will definitely take good care of their baby sister!

Summer Vacation Part II

It turns out I didn't take as many photographs of our summer activities as I thought, and the ones I did are not that blog-worthy, but I'll share a few just to make the narrative a little less boring.

We started our Texas tour with a stop at the home of Blue Bell Ice Cream in Brenham. The company was nice enough to send a truck to escort us all the way in to the factory.

After a brief and educational tour of the packaging process we enjoyed a free scoop of Blue Bell's finest flavors. I never depart from my trusty Dutch Chocolate, the girls enjoyed Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Dessert Trio, and Tye discovered a new favorite, Southern Blackberry Cobbler.

This, people, is a car packing genius. Tye has honed the car-loading process to a fine art. We bring our suitcases, bags, hanging clothes, etc., park them at the back of the car and stand back to watch the magic happen. We're not allowed to touch the bags once they are placed into the vehicle because of the precision involved in the stacking, wedging and balancing of the items, but you can't fit a quarter between them because of the efficiency with which he packs. Okay, moving on to Houston.
We spent many hours at the Johnson Space Center learning all about the NASA Space program. It was a little deflating because of the recent closing of the shuttle program but we were emcouraged to hear about the future plans for deep space exploration and opportunities for commercial space travel.
It was reassuring to confirm that I didn't miss my life's calling as an astronaut. Those poor souls have to cram themselves into claustrophobia-inducing spaces for hours at a time and subject their bodies to brutal conditions, with no guarantees that they will ever breathe the fresh air of earth again. It almost made me hyperventilate just thinking about it. Of course, some of them did make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of space travel advancement, God bless them.
Touching a moon rock (trying not to think of all the grubby little hands that have touched it before my precious children's).
We eventually made it to our final destination of San Antonio. We stayed here as our home base while sight seeing in San Antonio,  but honestly, I could have stayed at the resort and never left. If you're ever looking for a fun, family-friendly, all-inclusive summer getaway location, this is it. Tye and I took an anniversary trip here back in May for a grown-up weekend with golfing and spa treatments, and knew that our kids would love the kid-friendly environment too. Every evening you can make S'mores at the beach area and float the lazy river until midnight. The girls' marshmallow cooking preferences ranged from barely warm to burned to a blackened crisp. Blech.
Of course, what's a trip to SA without a stop at the Alamo? I had never been before and, as a proud born-and-bred Texan, it's always been a source of guilt for me. It was...different than I expected. I appreciated the reverent atmosphere inside (men must remove hats, no photos, no touching the walls) but that was cheapened a little by the gift shop immediately outside where you are encouraged to buy everything from a fake coonskin cap to a stuffed teddy bear donning a shirt that reads "Remember the Alamo!". I was disappointed in the commercialism, I guess. My little history buffs still enjoyed it.
Then we made our way to the Riverwalk to enjoy a meandering riverboat ride and hear some San Antonio fun facts. Did you know the historic Fairmount Hotel set a Guinness world record when it was moved by crane six blocks from its original location in 1985 and reopened in its current location? Me neither.
See, I was there too. When this picture was taken, it was a balmy 104 degrees and the water was blindingly bright. We scrounged and found a couple of extra sunglasses in my bag, much to Ava and Gentry's relief. Poor Tatum had to squint for 45 minutes. We waited a tad too long to eat lunch and it really was just HOT, so our fun meter dipped significantly at this point, but it rallied again after some authentic Mexican food and a respite in good old A/C.
Awkward photo transition:

The resort offered fun kids activities each evening on the main lawn, and this night it was "Zoomagination". An animal rescue organization presented several unusual and exotic animals for the kids to see up close. They brought out this cuddly arachnid, a sloth, talking parrot, porcupine, hedgehog, Bearded Dragon lizard, Blue-tongued Skink and a couple of nasty giant cockroaches. Each of these animals had been someone's pet at some point and had lost favor with their owner for whatever reason. Really?! Who thinks a nocturnal hedgehog will make a good furry pet for their kid?

Our last full day was spent at SeaWorld and I didn't take my big camera because you get DRENCHED at SeaWorld. Highlights of our day were seeing the Shamu show (and getting drenched), Ava and me riding The Great White roller coaster together (our new favorite) and feeding the dolphins. Gentry loves dolphins, so this was pretty much the highlight of her little life so far. I took a video with my phone and I've watched it over and over just to see the sheer delight on her face. If my phone weren't smarter than me I might be able to post it here too. 

And, before the final trek home, we stopped at Lulu's for one of their famous giant cinnamon rolls. It's 3 lbs of goodness on a plate. Now we're all fasting for a week to make up for it. I apologize for the armpit hair in the background. I had to eat breakfast while looking at it too.

That's a brief look at our Texas Tour 2011. Now it's back to work in my newly organized sewing room with a recently serviced machine and a fresh perspective!