March 22, 2013

Pirate Minnie Pattern Review

I'm embracing my new embroidery machine with gusto. I made this Pirate Minnie dress by using the Minnie Pirate Face embroidery design from Etsy seller glitzystitches and the really great "Irelyn" dress pattern (with tutorial) from Fairytale Pattern Designs. They both made it so simple to download the design and the pattern. With the pattern, there's also step by step directions which are easy enough for even the most novice of sewers to follow. 

Disclaimer: My pirate princess is wearing a pettiskirt under the dress so some of the fullness is from that and not the dress. Also, I did adjust the pattern a bit to make it longer-I used the 2T pattern despite the fact that our daughter fits an 18 month dress. I wanted her to be able to wear it longer and I thought a full-length skirt would look more "pirate."

The only aspect of the dress that was a pain was the ruffles. For this itty bitty 2T dress, there were about 10 yards of ruffles. I thought I was smart and bought a ruffler presser foot to make life easier. I have never hated an inanimate object more than that thing. I bought a "low-shank universal ruffler foot" that claimed it would work on any Brother machine (it was about $20  at Joanne's while the only machine-specific foot I could find was online and over $60). It lied. It bent two needles and jammed my motor with an E6 code a dozen times before I cursed it and went back to ruffling by hand. Before anyone asks, I tried different strength needles, rethreaded everything every time it stopped and adjusted the thread tension repeatedly. I also wasn't sewing too fast and made sure the needle screw wasn't being jarred loose. 

All that to say, if you don't already have a ruffler foot you love, be prepared to do a ton of ruffles by hand and if you don't know how to ruffle by hand, it's easily explained in the pattern directions that come with the Irelyn design.

March 18, 2013

Princess Pics

Over the weekend, I had a little fun with my camera. I got my wedding dress out and took some shots of our daughter in it.

(I'm a horrible bride-it's been 7+ years and I STILL haven't had my dress professionally cleaned/preserved...but I will...soon...) 

This is why having a daughter is fun...makes her first sentence, "I'm mad at Mommy" so much easier to deal with.

March 17, 2013

Goodbye Deployment

Today is so much more than just St Patrick's Day for us. Today marks the one year anniversary that Joshua has been home from deployment. To say I've been anticipating this date would be an understatement. I've been desperate for it...particularly for our children. Reintegration has been hard, at times as hard as the deployment was. Learning how to be a family of four, discovering our marriage again while also simultaneously helping Joshua adjust to how much our son had grown was difficult-Joshua left for the deployment when the boy was two and a half and was gone for 13 months but to be honest, Joshua really left for training when the boy was a year and a half and was gone 19 out of the next 24 months. It took a toll. I'm in awe of how well our son has done but there are remnants of the pain he felt. 

Last week when we took both the kids to the optometrist (neither needed glasses-more than a small miracle itself!), we were about half way through the 45 minutes route when the boy's eyes got huge and filled with tears. I was almost panicked, watching him struggle to get control of himself to be able to tell us what hurt/what was wrong and then he said it...

"Does this mean Daddy is going far, far away again?" 

His four year old mind had linked the one other time he remembered being at the optometrist with his Daddy being gone as it was shortly before Joshua had returned. 

It's not the first time he had asked it...when we were on our way to Disney last September, he had remembered the year before's R&R trip and had a small breakdown thinking we were all going to Florida but that his Daddy wouldn't be coming back with us.

I've been so ready for this day to come. To be able to say a year ago today my husband was home (or at least not being shot at) is a blessing that I treasure. The deployment taught me many lessons but one of the biggest was patience and what long-suffering love really is. It took long-suffering love to get through the deployment but it's also taken a long-suffering love to get through reintegration. We've made it to a year. We're still married...and I'm sad to say that isn't the case for everyone we've walked this journey with. Our children are healthy and happy and we've found our new normal. With Joshua still in the military, I don't take his being home for granted. I recognize and accept we may go through this same cycle again but today, we celebrate the time we've had together.

Maybe it's providential that this anniversary falls on St Patrick's Day. Many mistakenly assume he brought Christianity to Ireland (or miraculously rid it of snakes-although that would certainly be something to celebrate) but what he really did, according to Jon Sweeny who wrote a book about St Patrick, was organize, inspire and expand Christianity within Ireland but he didn't even do that right away. He spent six years as a slave-which is where he discovered his faith and then decades studying before he returned to Ireland. 

Regardless of what the future may hold...what deployments, training separations or anything else we may face, St Patrick's Day will always stand as a personal reminder to "rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope."

March 15, 2013

Top Ten Disney World Planning Sites

Below is a list of our favorite Disney World Planning sites...

AllEars - a great source of massive amounts of information, including nearly every Disney World restaurant menu

DisBoards - what's better than learning from someone else who has been there and done that?! DisBoards is just's a place for people to share their experiences and ask questions...but be warned, it's very popular and it can be a little overwhelming

Disney Addicts on Facebook - if you have a facebook account, this can be a helpful site for any question you may have...just post it and someone will know the answer (just be warned, we they named it "Addicts" they weren't exaggerating)

Easy WDW - a wonderful resource for predicting crowd levels based on historical data-it includes the average high/low temps for each day, extra magic hours and show times for the nightly fireworks/light shows

Magical Trips - to be honest, we were a little hesitant to put this one on here-kind of want to keep it to ourselves but it's a favorite because it's a small, tight-knit group of Disney fans who are always kind and willing to help with planning's much less overwhelming than the DisBoards and we've formed real-life friendships from it (there's also a facebook page for it)

MouseSavers - if you're looking for discounts, information/tips on Disney World, Disneyland OR Disney Cruises, this is the place for you!

Official Disney World Website - Surprisingly not as helpful as many of the unofficial sites, the official Disney World site does offer a couple fun and helpful things others can't-including the ability to order the free official vacation planning DVD and also free customized park maps (allow about 6 weeks for either to arrive)...just click on the "My Disney Experience" on the right side of the home page

Undercover Tourist - a well-rounded site that allows you to find some great tips, order multi-day discounted tickets or even download a wait time app to your phone (which covers both the Disney World Parks and Universal Studios)

Walt Disney World Entertainment - a meticulous site that offers weekly firesworks, parades and live-action show times for each of the parks

WDW Info - a really well-organized site with tidbits of information (not overwhelming amounts but certainly helpful) that cover not only Disney World Theme Parks, Resorts and area hotels but also the Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland, DVC (Disney's version of a timeshare program), Adventures by Disney (vacations around the world) and Orlando's Universal Studios

Again, these are just our favorite places to go when we need an answer to a Disney World planning question but we also know there are dozens of other really helpful websites and blogs out there so enjoy your planning and have a magical time!

(PS....check out YouTube for first-person accounts of the can really help little ones-or big ones, who are afraid of roller coasters)

March 14, 2013

Time Flies

Hello blogging may (or may not) have noticed my total desertion of this page for the last month (and a half). To be honest, nothing major really happened to drive me away. I just needed a break. I needed to focus on my family and myself. 

Here's a (hopefully) quick breakdown to catch you up...

We cracked down on homeschooling and have officially decided to go with Classical Conversations next year and are super excited about it. 

We had a snow-pocalypse that was a ton of fun...

I got a new .22 rifle for Valentine's Day and we took some good friends shooting... (the boy and one of his best friends had a blast)

I escaped. I took a long weekend and flew down to El Paso (thereby leaving the children alone with Joshua for the first time ever!) to visit this awesome lady...

(cell phone, sorry)

Joshua and I had a weekend away...hotel, theater tickets (Cathy Rigby's Peter Pan-I highly recommend seeing it!-that woman is in better shape at 60 than I am today!), dinner out...the basics

In related news, the boy also got to see Peter Pan as his first broadway show with his Grandma. He LOVED it!...he wasn't so much a fan of the pics I insisted we take before he left but I couldn't resist. I love my bow-tie-lovin', suspender-wearing little man!

Also, I've been on a sewing kick...big time. I made a couple new dresses for the girl...
(she was less than thrilled to do pics at that particular moment)
(I got the hat from Halo Heaven)

And finally, the biggest news (for me at least) was that I finally got my much coveted Brother PE-770 Embroidery Machine!!! I'm in love! This was the first thing I made...

So that's what we've been up to...kind of a crazy busy season for us but a good one.