All posts by Robyn

In The Hoop

A couple weeks ago I finally broke out my Piece in the Hoop book that Sean gave me for Christmas, and decided to try making a few things “in the hoop” (ITH) of my embroidery machine. ITH basically means that you make an item using your embroidery machine rather than your sewing machine, letting the machine do most of the work for you.

I started out with a pressing pad from the book, using scraps of material I had laying around. I wasn’t going for anything pretty, I just wanted to learn the technique while creating something that would be useful for other ITH projects. This pressing pad is meant to slide under the hooped fabric in the embroidery machine, so that you can iron things without removing the hoop. This is useful since a lot of projects have you laying down a piece of fabric, stitching, flipping it over, ironing it, repeat… which means taking your hoop on and off repeatedly gets old really fast and also adds to the wear and tear. The back of the pressing pad is covered in a teflon material to protect the sewing machine from the heat of the iron. You can see a few places where I forgot to remove the pressing pad and ended up stitching over it. I think having a baby kills about 70% of your brain cells. You would think that after the second time I might have remembered, but no.

The next project was a pin cushion, also from the Piece in the Hoop book. The book had it embroidered with an image of a needle and thread that I did not like, so I put an “M” on it instead. Again I used scraps I had laying around; these are leftovers from that Flower Patch quilt I still haven’t finished. I think the blue fabric on the corner stands out too much, but oh well.  The pin cushion isn’t stuffed yet in the photo. I could just stuff it with fiber fill, but I think I will pick up some emery sand instead so that it will keep my pins sharp.

And, lastly… tonight I decided to try making a little wristlet bag in the hoop. The digital file for it was only $1, so I didn’t expect much out of it. There are better options out there that say they don’t have exposed seams, but for my first try at it I decided to go the cheap route. I guess if you don’t look too closely, it looks okay from the outside. However… The tension wasn’t right at first, so some of the stitches aren’t pretty if you inspect them closely. The seams are also exposed, so you see the raw edges of the fabric and the batting. And to make it even uglier inside, the stabilizer (material you put under fabric to aid in stitching in the hoop) is still in it because I really didn’t feel like spending an hour or two picking it out of the million little spaces between the quilting… even if I did, you would still see the ugly backside of the quilting. You can see pictures of it below… the strap on the bag is just a cell phone strap I have had laying around in the closet for about six years so I decided to clip it on for the heck of it. If I make a better wristlet later, it might end up on that instead.

I think I like this ITH thing… I will have to add a new page to the site to showcase ITH projects if I make any more, which I am sure I will. Hopefully whatever I do next will look better on the inside than this wristlet does.

Finger Foods


Anna has finally started eating finger foods. For the longest time she would gag at any chunky foods, but she had a bit of a break through over Memorial Day weekend. Before that she was doing okay, but still gagging some, when we gave her easily mushed things like banana. As a result we were really hesitant to give her anything other than the pureed baby foods, despite the doctor telling us we could start her on finger foods two months ago… we would just occasionally try giving her soft things to see how she did.

Memorial Day weekend I decided to grab a muffin for breakfast. I was alone with her since Sean was at Animazement, so I decided I would just sit in the floor with her to eat while she played. Anna seemed really interested in the food, especially in the fact that I was eating with my fingers. So, I broke a bit off and offered it to her. Anna gobbled it right up and wanted more. I kept giving her little bits and she would immediately shove them in her mouth, where when we tried this before with things like banana she would play with it before it made it to her mouth more often than not. Apparently this kid loves muffins.

The next day I decided to get another muffin and try this out again, since my muffin was nearly gone by the time I had offered her some. Again she gobbled up whatever I gave her without gagging once. When Sean got home from Animazement I reported this to him, and she of course got to share another muffin so Sean could see her eat it. I was pretty tired of muffins by that point.

The next food she got was avocado, which she again ate without any problems. She made one heck of a mess with it, but she seemed to really like it. Then she got to eat some bread that I pinched off of my sandwich, and since she really liked that I gave her a bit of bread after she finished her usual pureed meals a couple times. Anna even got to try a little salmon when we went out to eat, which she also liked.

All that was over the course of the past week, so we are still really new at this real food thing. It is still a little scary. The following weekend (as in yesterday/today) we went shopping to restock the baby food bin, and picked up some more finger foods for her to try: some little puffs that dissolve easily that are made of grains and some made of yogurt. Last night and today she was snacking on those and really seems to enjoy them.

So it looks like we are entering a new stage!

Test Post

I enabled the WordPress feature that automatically shares posts on Facebook, so I am testing it out. There really isn’t much exciting to post about right now…

The only new thing with Anna is that she is starting to wave back when we are waving “goodbye” to her. It is more like waving an arm at us, but it is adorable. However, she has also started doing something that isn’t so adorable… screaming. Loudly. I have no idea why, but last night she suddenly decided it was great fun to randomly and incessantly scream at the top of her lungs.

At first I thought she would do it a few times and get over it, but after 15 minutes or so of it I began to lose hope of that as a terrible headache set in. Hopefully we can teach her not to do this… but the only thing I could think to do was to put my hand gently over her mouth and tell her ‘no’ or ‘shh.’ This morning she was shrieking again. So if anyone has suggestions…

Nothing else new for Anna aside from her standing on her own a few seconds longer before plopping butt-first to the floor. She still isn’t really showing much interest in walking independently, but she is starting to cruise (walking while holding on to things) a bit more towards things she would drop down and crawl for just a week ago.

And since I haven’t posted any craft-related updates in a while… not much exciting there either. I am finding myself floating between projects a lot recently, ADD-like…

  • Over the weekend I finally got around to making a couple things from the Piece in the Hoop book I got for Christmas: a pin cushion and a pressing pad. I will have to post pictures of those soon.
  • I have also been slowly working on piecing the four May blocks for the Elegance quilt (pain in the ass!), which I did post a picture of already. I need to hurry up and finish the last couple blocks because the next class is 10 days away and I don’t want to get behind.
  • And in the past couple days I picked up that Yellow Brick Road quilt again because I am tired of it sitting around unfinished. I think I am nearing the halfway point with the quilting.
  • I have put the scrap quilt aside because I have grown tired of working on it, and am not sure I like the direction I was going with it anyway… so I will let it sit for a while until I decide to either rip it all apart or continue on with that design.
  • And that just leaves the Thangles quilt. Apparently people were getting bored with doing one block a month with the Thangles, so they offered the option to just buy all the blocks at once. I took them up on that, but now I wish I hadn’t… because now I actually have to figure out what colors to use for the blocks! When they were done individually the fabric was planned out for me. Now that I have all the blocks for the year, the fabric is all just in one pile and I have to decide which ones to use for what. Ugh, now I have to actually put effort into it. Sigh. But, on the bright side, I got some software for Mother’s Day that will help me plan out what to use… once I find time to get around to tracing the block patterns and scanning the fabric.

Anna Updates

Happy Anna



Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Pretty much the same old same old around here right now. There isn’t much new to report with Anna since last month. Her crawling skills have improved, as has her speed. When Anna really wants to get somewhere fast she has developed this strategy of tucking her left leg under, and propelling herself with the right leg. It is totally adorable, especially since anything that catches her fancy enough for such increased speed usually also means she has a huge silly grin and, often, a squeal of delight.

Anna has also learned to clap her hands in the past week, and sometimes when we sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” it even appears as if she knows she is supposed to clap at certain times. But mostly she just claps throughout the whole song, or randomly as things make her excited throughout the day. She has also been trying to imitate the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” hand movements, although she is completely uncoordinated and it looks a lot like clapping. It is so cool that she is starting to do things like this, as it shows she is paying attention to us and learning.

As far as walking, Anna hasn’t quite figured that out yet. She is cruising around (holding on to things) and occasionally standing on her own for a few seconds before falling down. I am perfectly fine with that, as I don’t know if I am quite ready for her to be walking yet. She is growing up so fast! Plus, she is already into absolutely everything and doesn’t want to stay still for a second. Once Anna is walking we are definitely in trouble.

Anna has also just about mastered the “pincer grip” that lets her pick up things with thumb and forefinger.  It started just as her touching things with one finger, and progressed into her figuring out how to pick things up. Which of course means we have to be extra careful about small things on the floor now, since everything goes in her mouth. She still likes to touch things with one finger, which is also super cute. They say that this skill is a sign they are ready to try table food, but Anna doesn’t seem ready for it yet. We have tried a few things, but she gags when she swallows anything that isn’t pureed. I am not overly concerned about that yet, but I will mention it to the doctor when she has her check up at the end of the month. The past few days we have started giving her smooshable food in a mesh feeder, and she seems to really enjoy that. Hopefully it will help her get accustomed to the idea of “chewing” (still no teeth) her food since she has to smash it up to get the food through the mesh. She hasn’t gagged with that so far, even though she has made a few gagging faces with the chunkier baby foods. It is scary when she does that! So we are just trying to take the whole finger food thing slowly, trying not to freak out, and are very seriously thinking about signing up for an infant CPR class. I have read about how to give and infant CPR and how to help a choking infant, but both of us will feel much better after getting some hands on training.

Another Full Weekend

"Elegance" Block of the Month for April 2014
“Elegance” Block of the Month for April 2014

We had another full weekend, but luckily this time it was all good things… no doggie emergencies. Eddie seems to be doing well, although he is still a bit squinty. He has been tolerating his eye drops (3x a day) surprisingly well, and he has been gobbling up his pain killer and steroid laced pupperoni without issue.

Since this was the first Saturday of the month, I had my sewing class for the “Elegance” Block of the Month, and Sean had his Animazement meeting. Of course these things overlap in time, so it means finding a babysitter. It is worth it though! Three hours of uninterrupted sewing before the baby’s bedtime is a rare luxury. Heck, lately any sewing time has been rare.

I think this month’s block is my favorite for the whole quilt. The class was more about guided sewing than learning as usual, but I did pick up a helpful tip for getting my patchwork squares to line up. There wasn’t as much chatting this time, most people were heads down this week. Although some of the conversations pointed out exactly how much of an age gap there is for me and the majority of the others that attend that class. During one of the quiet spells when 7 or so sewing machines were running, one of the ladies remarked that it reminded her of “the war” when all the girls were making things for the soldiers. And another spoke about her husband (I assume) and how in school he had to knit squares that were joined to become throws (blankets) for the troops. Sigh. I think I am about the only one south of 60, although there was one lady that came this time who appeared to be in her 40’s.

Sunday we got another sitter and went to see the Captain America sequel. I think this was only the second movie I have seen in about a year. When I was pregnant I didn’t really feel up to it most of the time, and these days the opportunity is harder to come by. Plus there haven’t been too many movies that looked worth the hassle.

Overall it was pretty good, although I am trying not to think about it too much. If you think about it, you may fall into a hole. Like, I guess their buddy Iron Man was busy? The Bugs Bunny escape holes were a little too much for me. And I am so tired of catwalk fights and last second-of-the-countdown saves.

Poor Doggie

It has been busy/crazy around here the past few days. It started Friday night when we ran a couple errands after work, which we rarely do because of the baby’s bed time. But there were a couple things we had to do. While we were out we made a poor choice in restaurants, so it took forever… and the baby had a minor meltdown from being sleepy, but luckily it was so noisy no one was bothered. Once we finally got home and got her to bed for the night, we were so exhausted we didn’t even get up with her during the night. We both vaguely remember her crying a couple times, but she settled herself back down because we were too zonked.

Saturday we had some things to do around the house in the morning, then headed to Washington (NC) for my cousin’s 4th birthday party. That is about a two hour drive. Anna did pretty good on the way down, we were nearly in Greenville before she got cranky about being trapped in her car seat so long. So, we stopped at a gas station in Greenville to change a diaper and let her get out of the car for a few minutes. After that she was fine for the last thirty minutes of our drive, aside from a couple short moments of irritation.

Anna did great at the party too, and didn’t mind being passed around the entire time. Audrey (the birthday girl) was so sweet and gave her hugs and held her for a little while. She was also very impressed that Anna is crawling now, and asking to see her crawl was nearly the first thing she said to us when we walked in the door. We had been there probably about three hours when Anna hit her cranky (screaming) over-tired point, but there was too much going on to get her to settle down and sleep. So we exited hastily. I think we were in the car about two minutes before she fell asleep, and she stayed asleep until we hit Raleigh. We were somewhere on 540 when she woke up crying, but she settled down again after a few minutes. In all, she did pretty good for being on the go all day and stuck in a car for so long.

When we got home though, we noticed Eddie’s right eye was shut. I thought maybe the cat had finally scratched him, but when I pried his eye open (the little he would let me) I didn’t see any scratches or blood or other apparent injury. I did think it might look a little off, but I couldn’t figure out in what way with just the little bit I could see. I would later realize that it looked cloudy.

At that point it was pretty late, so we decided to just go to bed and check his eye in the morning. Well, the next morning (Sunday) it was still shut, and he barely left his bed all morning. I knew that eye things in dogs were typically bad, but I was still thinking it was just a scratch and wasn’t too concerned. Regardless, I thought I should call the emergency vet number just to see if it was okay to wait for office hours on Monday to bring him in.

I got the vet’s voice mail, which said she was in church and would return the call later. Since we had a busy day planned, we went ahead and left the house when she still hadn’t called at noon. Of course she called not long after, and said we should bring him in right away. Still thinking it wasn’t going to be anything major, I delayed a little so we could finish a couple errands and grab a bite to eat. It was around 2pm when Sean took him in to meet the on-call veterinarian.

It turned out that Eddie had acute glaucoma. Sean had him at the vet for over two hours while they tried to bring the pressure in his eye down. The pressure reading is normally around 25, Eddie’s was 65. By the time he got home with him, they had only gotten the pressure down 10 points. So, it was back to the vet with him Monday morning.

At the follow up his pressure was back to normal, but he was still in pain. Our vet referred us to an ophthalmologist. Yes… a doggie ophthalmologist. They had an appointment available at 5:30, which worked out well since we had Anna’s 6 month check up at 2:30. Full day!

Anna’s check up went well… 16 pounds, 5 ounces… Then it was a quick snack at home for us and for the baby.

The doggie eye doctor appointment was kind of like a the next level of vet. The office was nice, the service was fast and friendly. The same lady that checked us in was actually the nurse (not just a tech, but actually called a nurse) and she was friendly and knowledgeable. She did an exam, explained some things with an eye model, and then explained that we would see two doctors. The first doctor came in right away (they called her a resident) and did a more thorough exam, and explained her findings. Then we had to wait a bit for the main doctor, but it wasn’t too long before he came in and confirmed her findings and went through the prognosis and treatment options.

Apparently this is a very common genetic ailment in rat terriers. The fibers that hold the lens in place break down, and eventually the lens breaks free and becomes displaced. The lens then pushes forward and blocks the drainage ducts at the front of the eye, causing pressure to build. The pressure causes the glaucoma and if it isn’t caught right away the dog will go blind within a couple days. The lens in Eddie’s right eye was displaced, and the fibers in his left eye were about 50% eroded.

The only options for treatment were to a) let the dog go blind and then remove the eye to stop the pain or b) remove the lens to release the pressure from the optic nerve in order to save the sight.

Option B is very similar to cataract surgery, and leaves the eye very farsighted. At the moment he is very near sighted in the right eye due to the clouding of the lens, so it will be a big change for him. Once the eye stabilizes in a few months, they would be able to go back and replace the lens to help restore his vision. The doctor said most people opt to replace the lens when they go back to operate on the second eye.

For his “good” eye, the doctor said he would be blind by July without medication to slow the progression. With medication he has maybe a year. Then we will be in the same place with left eye as we are now with the right eye.

So, Eddie has an appointment for surgery in the morning. We will have the lens removed in order to give him the best shot we can at saving his vision. We also have drops for his other eye that we will be using to try to slow the progression of the disease. I need to ask the doctor if we opt to have the other eye’s lens removed before it is an emergency (as it is with the right eye), if we could have the lens replaced without the need for a second surgery later down the road. I know that with cataract surgery they replace the lens at the same time. While it is tough to stomach the vet bills, I feel like we have to do this if it will save him from going blind. I don’t know if we could really afford to pay for two more surgeries, but if they could do the other eye and replace both lenses at the same time… it would be great to have Eddie’s vision fully restored. I know some people would just let him go blind since he is just a dog, but I would feel awful knowing I could have saved him from that and didn’t. I want my little buddy to live a happy, healthy life. And I can tell he is in pain right now, and there is no way I could carry on knowing he was in such pain and do nothing for him.

UPDATE: Eddie’s surgery went well; his follow up appointment is next Friday morning. The vet said that he has a 10% chance of going blind in the eye from retinal detachment, as that is a risk with all interocular surgeries. It will take a little time for him to get use to his new limited vision. Sean had to help the poor guy find his food bowl last night. Although he certainly didn’t seem to have any issues finding the treats I offered him, nor the ones that hit the floor. So, for now, we wait through his follow up appointments and keep monitoring the left eye. Hopefully the meds will keep that eye good for a long time, but it could be anywhere from months to maybe a year before his left eye goes as well. We are still struggling with the thought of spending $2000 to have his other eye fixed and both lenses replaced. If I can take a 100% certainty of blindness down to a 10% chance for the little guy, I really want to… but that is a lot of money.

New Toys

Today was a busy day, preceded by a long night. Yesterday I had an awful headache, and by Anna’s bed time I was miserable. I got her to sleep fairly quickly, and then laid down in her room because my head hurt too much to even think about doing anything that required my eyes to be open. I chose her room over mine because I knew she would wake up a few times, since she hasn’t been sleeping well lately. Sure enough she woke up two or three times within the first few hours, but I only had to stumble over to her crib and pat her back to get her back to sleep.

Around 11ish though, she woke up screaming and it took me a little while to get her back to sleep. Then she woke up again a little while later and was wide awake, so we let her play a little before trying to get her settled down again. I think it was sometime after 1:00 when I finally got her to go to sleep… for about two minutes. Then she was wide awake again. I tried leaving her on her own in her crib a while with no success, and then close to 2am I threw in the towel. I told Sean to give the kid a bottle, my head was still splitting and I had to go to sleep. I think it was around 3am before he got her to sleep, but I was sound asleep and don’t even remember him coming to bed.

Luckily after that she slept until around 8:30, so I managed to get enough sleep to not feel wrecked. Even though my head still hurt a bit when I woke up. Despite grand plans of getting out and starting our day early, we didn’t make it out of the house until 11:45. I had a hair cut scheduled for noon, so Sean dropped me off there while he took Anna shopping. Then it was lunch, clothes shopping for Sean, a quilt show at the fairgrounds, a walk through the flea market, dinner, shopping at Buy Buy Baby & Target, and then finally getting back home around 7:30.

Anna did great for being on the go so long, I was really proud of her. She did “talk” really loudly a lot, but no one really seemed bothered by her. It seems like we will have to stick to noisy places for the next few months! She took two naps on the go, and only got a little cranky a couple times. For the most part she was happy all day. And of course while we were at the quilt show we were stopped by some coo’ing old lady about every 10 feet. For some reason a lot of people thought she was a boy today… I don’t get it. She had on pink socks and a pink top, and jeans with pink stitching.

I was also happy that somehow we managed to go the whole day without formula, despite being out of the house for nearly 8 hours. I was able to feed her in the parking lot at the fairgrounds, and in the mother’s room at Buy Buy Baby. We also gave her some solid food while we ate lunch, which was the first time we did that outside of the house.

So it was a really good day. The quilt show was pretty awesome, and Sean was a trooper. He pushed the stroller, weaving through the crowd of old ladies and being patient with all the people that wanted to talk to the baby. He also didn’t complain too much about me buying some things that I don’t really need, considering all the un-started projects I already have waiting for me.

There were tons of cool quilts on display, which I hurried through because I didn’t want Sean or Anna to run out of patience. I just stopped at the really cool ones. Most of my time was spent at the vendor booths, since there were several shops there that I was unfamiliar with or are too far away for me to frequent. Plus lots of the vendors had project kits put together, which I like because it saves me time.

I picked up a couple things to make for Anna, and a couple things for myself as well. Of course, Sean rolls his eyes when I say I am buying stuff like this for Anna. But it really is for her… and me. I get the fun of making it and then watching her play with it.

For Anna, I picked up a kit to make a little taggie blanket for her. It is a small “blanket” of about 12″ square with one soft, fuzzy side (made of a fabric called minkee) and one cotton side; and all around there are little “tags” of folded ribbon sticking out. She LOVES tags, so I know she will really like this. It shouldn’t take me long to make at all since it is really just sewing two squares together, so maybe I can whip it up tomorrow. I will of course post a photo in the Sewing Projects section when I get it finished.

The other thing I got for Anna is a panel of fabric that is printed with pieces for an owl pillow. This is another thing that shouldn’t take too long to do, but I will probably put it off until I finish the Yellow Brick Road quilt… or until I just need a break from it at least.

For me, I picked up a kit to make a little wallet. It is a bifold that closes with a button, and holds a couple credit cards and has a zippered pouch. Honestly I don’t need this, but I liked the fabric and it looked like a fun learning experience. Aside from that, I also got a quilt pattern and ruler – yet another addition to my “to do” list of quilts.

So those were my new toys, and Anna got a new toy as well. Since she is pulling up on things, we decided to get her a toy she could play with while standing. The one we ended up with is called the “Ball-cano” … you can see why Sean chose this one. (click the link for a photo) The box claims it is for 6+ months, but I think she is a little young for it. She does like playing with it, but she is too young to grasp putting the balls in the top piece, or the cause and effect of it. Right now she is still refining the motor skills to pick the balls up, which is super cute to watch. It takes both of her hands, and a fair amount of concentration. Mostly I think she likes the sounds and flashing lights it makes, and she likes that she can stand up with it. For now it seems like it will take both of us helping her to play with it. One person to make sure it doesn’t flip over, one person to make sure she doesn’t face plant into the hard plastic, and both of us to keep feeding the balls through. The mechanism that pushes the balls out of the “ballcano” is triggered by a rolling piece up top, which she can do on her own even if she doesn’t quite connect that cause with the effect of the balls being pushed out and the lights and music starting.