Thursday, October 31, 2013

A TOS Review: Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns

I took my first spin out with the sewing machine when I was 8. Since then, sewing has provided a much needed creative outlet…not to mention a little extra income now and again. 

I do need to admit, however, that I am merely an adequate seamstress. There are certain sewing skills that I avoid like the plague. Take for example, button holes. I don’t believe in them.  

I come from a long line of more than adequate seamstresses. In fact, my wardrobe during babyhood was entirely handmade. Now that is love. My mom called it economy, but every time I see each and every precious piece I feel special. 

I don’t think every girl needs to know how to sew (though I certainly lean that way). However, I do feel that this particular skill lends itself to just a bit more creativity and self-sufficiency. Need a couple of throw pillows or a new library bag? Just stitch them up.  

I am the mother of an only boy. His only interest in my world of sewing has been to see if my sewing machine would pass as a Star Destroyer. So when I recently had a chance to review the Learn How to Make Doll Clothes Video Course with 8 Free Doll Clothes Patterns from Rosie’s Doll Clothes Patterns it was entirely up to me to check it out.  I really do love this part of my life.  

What I Received

There are over 130 instructional sewing videos available with this course. Some are more involved than others, but I think there is a little something for every caliber of seamstress. Rosie takes us through the very basic (how to set up a work space) to tips even the most experienced seamstress will appreciate. 

In addition to the instructional videos I had access to 8 free patterns (PDF), plus step-by-step videos to follow.

Rosie, herself, has a wonderful teaching style (she’s also an Aussie and I found her delightful to listen to). I loved that I could rewind and watch bit of lesson I might have missed or needed to see again.

The cost for the video course is $47.46 (for a 12 month course, plus 8 free patterns).

As far as age level goes, I think it is up to you. I personally feel this course allows even a younger child to learn basic sewing skills. You, as a parent, obviously need to supervise. I think it is a wonderful course for those (a-hem) older “girls” to use for sewing instruction. The recommendation age for the course is 8 and up.

How I Used It

Because I am not a beginning seamstress, I did not follow each video in order as instructed. I loved that I wasn’t locked into a particular set of lessons. This being said, however, I loved how Rosie divides the lessons. They aren’t overly long or overwhelming.  

The lessons are divided into modules so if you are a beginning seamstress or working with a beginning seamstress they are all set up for you. I plan on using them (in order) with a niece who is anxious to learn how to sew. 

Rosie has some pretty fabulous tips on how to make sewing just a bit easier. I found a lot of them to be extremely helpful. 

Okay. I realize that there is a heart placed strategically on my fingernail. You can do a lot to hide a bad manicure on the computer. 

After printing the patterns (there is even an instructional video for printing them), I set them up in a handy dandy notebook I recently purchased on clearance to keep track of them.
Then I set to picking out my fabric. 

Here is where I need to give you a little hint. Be sure to read the fabric recommendations. I ran into a surprise when I stitched up the undies. 

I have buckets and buckets of fabric. Some of the fabric I have purchased (I have been known to stalk the remnant bins), some has been given to me and I often use articles of clothing which no longer have a use in my home…or I happen to find at the Thrift Store. 

Because these particular little outfits don’t take very much fabric I didn’t spend a penny on my creations. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to sew. 

So without further ado! I want to show you my end results...with a little commentary, of course! I need to apologize in advance for the quality of my pictures. My camera is being contrary. I also realize my pictures aren't exactly to scale for my blog, but I wanted you to be able to see them extra good (did I even say that right?)

Before we move on, I need to first to admit something. There isn't a great supply of doll babies at my house. Though I could probably set you up with a whole host of Star Wars figurines. The doll baby you see this picture is an old baby I have standing on a bookcase in my living room. And (gasp!) he is a little boy.

I assure you I am not encouraging cross dressing...I did the best I could. I did stick a red ribbon in the baby's hair. It works.

Anyhoo. This baby was a bit small for the clothing, but Rosie has a great video on sizing up the clothes to fit any baby. I didn't do so because I plan on giving these clothes as gifts. 

This outfit is the Summer Nightie and Underpants. I made a boo-boo and used a cotton fabric for the underpants instead of the recommended knit. 

This outfit is the summer crop top and sports shirts. Purty cute!

This little outfit is the Sarong, Halter Top and Hat. There was a little spot on the Sarong fabric so I just whipped up a little flower to cover it up.

Making a hat was a brand new experience for me. I loved it!! I'm thinking I need to make one in my size!

A few more thoughts… I think this an Ah-mazing course regardless of your skill level. It is perfect for the young girl (or lady) just starting out or someone like me who wants to learn more…it’s like being in a master class. Rosie is a terrific teacher. 

Rosie has patterns for both American Girl Dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids on her site. I do wish I could have reviewed the Winter clothing patterns, but the little girls in my life will have plenty of sweet summer outfits ready to go.  

Don’t be intimated. You can do this! 

The only outfit I didn’t make was an adorable pumpkin costume. I didn’t have the right fabric on hand. I did make a few extra nighties. I had plenty of Strawberry Shortcake material and a few little girls in my acquaintance who might need one.

Other members of The Crew reviewed this product. I have to say that it has been fun to see what they (or their kiddos) have created. Go take a look! 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tomorrow is Another Day (thankfully)

So I left you last night lamenting (almost an alliteration) about my mini breakdown in front of 20 strangers. 

I have to share with you the beautiful email my momma sent me late last night.

I expect your emotional reality check on life made much more impact on your audience than if you delivered a dry, factual lecture of "duh y ha bin berry berry good to meh".  Besides, God has given you these opportunities for a reason and He knows how you will share and exactly who needs to hear. Keep it real sweetie and test God's good judgement.
Love, your momma

This was exactly what I needed to hear. And course, sent me into another crying jag.

Fortunately, I am at that age where I can blame almost anything on menopause. TMI?

I will say that when I showed up at the Y today (without the paper bag I had contemplated wearing over my head) I was received as a conquering hero.

I think sometimes we (at least I do) of being perceived as something we are not. I want to appear poised, confident and put together.

Unfortunately, most of the time I am my own traveling circus.

Here is the whole truth of the matter. Or at least a few truths.

1. We all have issues. So maybe mine have been a little more obvious. I haven't been able to keep all of my pain private. I have a harder time pretending to be more than I am.

2. It's not always about me. 'Nuff said.

3. And in the words of Scarlett, "tomorrow is another day."

Scarlet had some wisdom. I think I might just go and whip myself up with that curtain (or was it a tablecloth?) my mom sent home with me to use for a project.

Have a mentioned I'm a bit crazy?

A Book Review: The Promise Box

I recently had the opportunity to review The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer. 

The Promise Box is about a young woman, Lydia, who comes home to attend her mother’s funeral. She was raised Amish, but left her community years ago for the Englisch life.

While she is home, Lydia discovers a box filled with prayers and scripture her mother left for her. As she starts to reevaluate her life, Lydia begins to question the choice she made to leave the Amish community in the first place. 

Of course, there is Gideon. He is a young Amish man who has a story of his own.  Over time Lydia and Gideon begin to fall in love with each other. But will their secrets keep them apart? 

Dun Dun Dun! 

I love those stories that have a little mystery and intrigue. I also love that Lydia, our heroine, is adopted. Being an adoptive parent myself, I had a soft spot in my heart for Lydia immediately. I also was extremely inspired by her mother’s Promise Box. It made me think of what I am leaving for my son.

Gideon's story was especially poignant. I won't give anything away, but I have to say I didn't expect the revelation.
This book was beautiful written. I also love that it is one I can pass on to my teenage nieces. Some romance novels are just a bit much. This had all the angst one must feel while reading a romantic story, but none of the “ickyness.” 

And of course, this book is sure to be a hit with all of those who love a good Amish novel. The Promise Box is actually a part of the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series. I look forward to reading more of Tricia’s books. 

I was excited to learn that Tricia Goyer is also a homeschooler. We strange homeschool people have to stick together. And I just want to know when she finds the time to write such awesome books! There are some days I can barely form two (if that) coherent sentences. 

If you enjoy Christian Romance (especially about the Amish) I’m sure you will enjoy this book!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cry Baby

I am a mess tonight.

So I'm doing a little bit of blogging therapy. Sorry about this. 

It's silly really. I used to do a fair amount of public speaking.

I used to pride myself with my ability to remain fairly unemotional when speaking in front of groups of people. Of course, it's easy to do so when talking about "how to make your curriculum work for you" or "the stages of early childhood development."

After I got hurt and started to speak to more church groups, my public speaking grew a bit more emotional. As you can imagine. But over time, I was able to learn to focus myself and get through a talk with only a stray tear or two. Which is quite a feat. Subjects like infertility, a health crisis (or four) and financial ruin aren't the most comfortable of topics for people to listen to, let alone for me to talk about.

There came a time, however, when the tears started to flow more frequently. And then they just wouldn't stop.  We were right in the middle of some anguishing times. The hurt was fresh. And every time I talked about it it seemed as if I were relieving some of those more despairing moments all over again.

Over the past few years I haven't had as many opportunities to speak. I spoke to a ladies group a few weeks ago. Yes. There were tears And yes, those ladies knew to expect them. These ladies were my friends. Still. I was disappointed in myself.

So tonight.

A few weeks ago, the program director at our local Y called me and asked if I would come and speak to some of the employees there at the Y. Of course, I said yes.

However, the more I thought about it the more I worried. You see, she wanted for me to talk about something of the difficulties I had experienced physically and how the Y had benefited myself and my family. We have benefited from their financial assistance program for a few years now.

I can talk about a great many things without crying. I can talk to you about my weight loss. I can discuss the benefits of Thrift Store shopping. I probably could also present a pretty good lecture on Doctor Who. "Why You Should Just Get Over Your Phobia of Time Traveling Phone Boxes and Just Watch."

I have been chronically ill or physically impaired for 17 years. I have been infertile for 22. I have suffered the guilt of surviving when others with my condition didn't. I have known what it was like to feel worthless, unlovable and broken. I have watched my family struggle over and over again....all because of me and my issues. Yet. I have seen great hope and healing. I have seen miracles in my life and answers to promises given. It's hard not to cry.

For a week I thought about what I would say. I prayed that my funny gene would kick in and I would laugh more than cry. I assured myself that I could talk about those broken places...and not cry.

It didn't work. I still bawled in front of 20 folks. Most I didn't know.

I left feeling a bit ashamed. Josiah told me that I did a great job and "Mom! You just don't need to get so uptight!"

He's right. It's just so stinkin' hard. This living a real life.

TOS Review: VocabularySpellingCity

Spelling. I recognize that the mere mention of the subject might encourage severe stomach spasms and cold sweats in some. I, myself, develop an annoying twitch in my eye when anyone whispers “quadratic equation” in my ear. 

Sadly, unlike “quadratic equations” spelling is a much used and important skill for our young people to have. Unfortunately, it also appears to be one that has been much neglected in our high tech age.
In our home, spelling practice isn’t the most pleasant of experiences. Josiah is dyslexic and has a tendency to spell phonetically. This causes all manner of problems (as you can guess). The traditional method of remember and drill doesn’t generally doesn’t work with Josiah. He is the kind of kid that thrives when every part of his senses are involved. He also loves games and challenges.  

When a chance to review the Premium Membership package at came our way I jumped at the chance.  

What I Received

VocabularySpellingCity is an online interactive vocabulary, spelling, writing, and language arts tool for kiddos from K through High School. The beauty of this site is that it can be used in any setting. A homeschooler (such as myself) can use it for a curriculum or supplement. A traditional classroom teacher can use it to help his or her students review or a parent can provide extra spelling practice at home. 

One of the great features of VocabularySpellingCity is that you can import your own lists from the curriculum or studies you are currently using or you can use one of the already prepared lists available. 

The Premium Membership costs $29.95 for a year to use at home. This membership includes up to 5 students. It costs $49.95 for a class room that includes up to 25 students. There are plenty of activities  available on the site that are free, but the Premium Membership allows you to do so much more. 

You can check out a complete overview of what comes with the Premium Membership here.
To use VocabularySpellingCity, you will obviously need a working computer, good internet connection and a set of speakers or ear buds. These games and activities talk to you!

How We Used It 

One of the nice things about this site is that I didn’t have to do too much preparing (or for that matter, thinking).   I simply set Josiah up his own account. Each week I would select a word list from the already prepared lists and assigned what activities I wanted Josiah to complete for that week.  
I will take you through how we managed it all. 

The site has so many resources. The already prepared lists were so helpful to me. I decided to start by letting Josiah work through some of the Dolch Lists. They are generally intended for kids in lower grades, but I knew that Josiah would benefit from every bit of the review. 

 The site allowed me to import as many lists I needed.
 Each week I created an assignment for Josiah. I first selected a Word List from the lists I had imported.
 I then could select the activities I wanted Josiah to complete for the week. I was only allowed to select 10.
 One of the lists Josiah has used more recently was not from the Dolch lists. He went through those fairly quickly. The list I chose for this particular week was fall themed words. You can see the list below.
 You can see all the activities that are available for this word list. The activities on the left are free, while the activities on the right are available with the Premium Membership. I always had Josiah take a pretest with his words so we could see where he was. The games and activities not only helped teach the words he was unfamiliar with, but also reinforced what he already knew.
 This activity is one of the vocabulary activities. 
 This is a screenshot of one his spelling words. He simply clicked on the card to flip through them.
 Josiah loved this game. Actually, I was kind of surprised. This is a word find game. He had to not only unscramble the letters to create his spelling words, but he had to make 3 new words out of the letters as well. Sometimes he has difficulty with this, but he loved playing this game. I think it was a fantastic way for him to gain more confidence.

 There are sooo many other fun things to do...I can't even begin to tell you. 

Of course,  VocabularySpellingCity keeps records. You can keep tabs on scores and even how much time your child spends on the activities. I liked that it also keeps track of the words missed.

We also used the “vocabulary” part of the site quite a bit. Josiah has a tremendous vocabulary and as long as he is allowed time to read through the questions carefully he manages quite well.  

We had finished up a severe weather unit and I was even able to utilize a “weather” list for the vocabulary. I loved being able to use the site as reinforcement. 

My Thoughts

I think overall this has been a positive experience for Josiah. My favorite part of it is that I can just assign what I need to and let Josiah take responsibility for his work. He is at that age now when developing that sort of responsibility is important. I love being able to hand him a bit of independence in this way. 

As far as helping his spelling (which is what it is all about) I think this sort of “drill” has been extremely beneficial to Josiah. The interactive nature of the site does not only keep his interest, but it reinforces what he is learning. 

I almost forgot to mention that there are plenty of worksheets and other activities to print as well. We didn’t take advantage of this feature. Though I know that many of you like to have that extra “pencil to paper” reinforcement. 

Check out more reviews at The Crew blog!

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