Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thankful Thursday- 10/31/13 - The color blue

I am thankful for the color blue. (Just in case you're wondering, it is NOT my favorite color.) Why the color blue? It reminds me of so many things God has created for us. The sky, the sea, robin's eggs, Morpho butterflies in the Amazon...the list goes on and on.

Why else am I thankful for the color blue? Because it can convey so many emotions. Sometimes it is light and cheery, sometimes it is deep and somber. It can be cool and sometimes almost sterile, but more often blue is inviting. The color blue helps me relax.

One of the ladies in a Bible study I attended years ago told me that blue always reminds her of God's faithfulness. To me, blue is a comforting color.

Some days, you just sigh with contentment when you see a beautiful blue sky. Even though I didn't see the blue sky today (because it was raining,) I know I will see the blue sky again. It will remind me of all God has made, and hopefully, I'll sigh with contentment.

Today, I am thankful for the color blue.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Costume or Character?

Later this week, a lot of children will dress up and go around ringing doorbells. This post is NOT about that...but it got me thinking.

Do we teach our children to put on a 'costume' of doing or saying the right things... or do we teach their character? I want our girls to grow up and be known as young women of high moral character. I don't want them known for being the prettiest or best dressed (although there is nothing wrong with either.) I want people to know them as girls who care for others, who serve others.

So how do we go about growing our kids' character? It starts with a lot of prayer. Then a lot of getting our own character worked on by God.I can't expect our girls to do or be something that I haven't bothered to do or be myself.

If I want their character to include self-control, I had better exhibit some restraint...even under pressure. If I want them to learn how to serve, or love others...I need to be serving and loving.

Let me encourage you that none of us parents has achieved everything we set out to do last week, or last year...but that doesn't mean we stop trying.

If your child wants to dress up in a costume, let them. (I'm not so sure I'd send them out to ring doorbells, but that's YOUR decision to make.) Just don't neglect to work on the deeper side of their character as well.

Praying for grace to cover your day!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns - a Crew Review

Do you like to sew, or are you clueless? (Either answer is ok!) Would you like to be able to have your daughter (or son) learn how to sew but you have no idea how or where to start? If your answer to the last question is "Yes!" I think you'll really like Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns. Arlene has been reviewing the Learn How to Make Doll Clothes Video Course with 8 Free Doll Clothes Patterns from Rosie's for the past 5 weeks. She has been having a lot of fun with this review!

  photo rosies2_zpse8168139.jpg

This online course is designed to take about 6 weeks to complete, but allows you 12 months' worth of access. In the course, Rosie teaches through step-by-step videos how to use your sewing machine and tools, as well as how to complete eight different clothing pieces for your 18" (think American Girl) doll. At the time of this review, the course costs $48, quite a reasonable price for all you receive. (The price may vary slightly due to exchange rates between the USA and Australia.) The course videos show you all the tools you will need (or would want) for completing the outfits, and gives you practice using them. Although I have been sewing for more than 35 years (yes, I really DID start when I was 4), even I learned about a couple notions that make life easier.

  photo Rosies_zpsc853bd7c.jpg

The Doll Clothes Video Course is designed for ages 8 and up. Arlene is 13, and has done some sewing for 4-H for the past few years. While this past experience DID help Arlene adapt some of her patterns (her doll is 15 & 1/2", not the standard 18",) previous experience is NOT necessary. It would be possible to adapt the program if you didn't have a sewing machine, but it would take a long, long time... so if you don't currently have a working sewing machine, I suggest you wait until you can borrow or purchase one!

From a parent's perspective, I love that Rosie shows each step in her videos. While I CAN teach Arlene everything I know about sewing...she doesn't always want to listen to me. If your child is really interested, it isn't hard to get them started.

On Rosie's website she has some great pointers that you *might* let me tell you the short versions now. 1- if your doll is non-standard size, you can reduce the patterns on a copier, and save having to adjust them after they are cut out. 2- if you have a beginning sewer, buy some muslin (it's cheap) and let them practice each piece on it before moving to the nicer fabric you have pickedout for each pattern.

Because we are a sewing family (My Grandma was a Home Ec teacher & my Mom sews too,) we had almost everything we needed in the way of supplies. What we didn't have, we purchased using coupons at our local sewing store. It was quite convenient that they had wide felt on sale the week Arlene needed some for her pumpkin outfit! (You'll see a picture below.) We also purchased some brown knit for doll leggings, 1/4" elastic (because we ran out,) and a nifty notion called a looper.

When you download each pattern to print, it also comes with instructions that specify what material and notions (velcro, elastic, buttons, etc) you will need. We probably spent $10 total, but if you don't have any scraps lying around from previous projects, I would suggest a $30 budget for the 8 pieces. Be sure to look for sales or coupons...or ask your friends who sew! Lots of times, the amount needed for one of the patterns is a large scrap that your friends may be willing to donate.

When Arlene and I started watching the videos, a couple times she asked if we could skip ahead because the intro to sewing ones covered topics she already knew about. I let her skip some of them, and move ahead to the patterns. If you're not a proficient sewer already, please take the time to watch all of them, as Rosie has some great tips for 'extras' like using ribbon, buttons, and other fasteners, that you will truly benefit from. (Just two weeks ago, Arlene was instructing one of her co-workers adult... on how to sew on buttons so they wouldn't keep coming off his coat! That's my girl! Her Great-Grandma would have been so happy to see that!)

So, are you interested yet?! I hope so! Because now you're going to get to see the cute outfits Arlene made for her doll. (Once the pattern is mastered, it is easy to make multiples in different fabrics. Arlene plans to make some as gifts for her friends with American Girl dolls.) 
 photo doll-collage-large_zpscbbc4c2d.jpg
This picture shows the pieces you will learn to make during the course

The course starts with the simpler patterns and adds skills each piece. The first pattern is for sport shorts. The second makes a crop top (Arlene added some length to hers), and then you have your first complete outfit!

Ariel's photo shoot...

This is how Ariel greeted me when I came home from work... in her new outfit!

Then you move to the pattern for a 'sarong' (the doll version is easier than making one for a real person!) Next is a halter top to go with the sarong. By now you have completed 4 pieces and can begin to mix and match outfits!
Hula anyone?

The fifth pattern is more difficult (but not overly so, remember there are step-by-step videos!) It is a pattern to make a summer nightie. This pattern could easily be adapted to make a jumper. The sixth pattern makes a hat. (I will admit, Arlene skipped this one because she had just crocheted her doll a hat and wanted to move on to the pumpkin outfit.)

This is the one outfit Arlene hasn't resized for Ariel. She plans to give this one away as a gift, and make a slightly smaller version with the same material.

The seventh pattern is the most difficult, because it has the most steps. You will be making a pumpkin outfit, and leggings for your doll to wear underneath. This outfit wins the 'cuteness' award! 
Pumpkin outfit, leggings, and her Arlene-custom-made hat

The eighth pattern is for making underpants for your doll (one of those things that drive parent crazy, but kids don't seems to notice.) If your daughter just wants to go play at this point, make the underpants yourself!
Mix and match pieces...

The skirt Arlene made with her newly-aquired skills

The cape Arlene made with a pattern we already owned. It's great to see her using her skills!

I know this course is designed for Moms and daughters to sew together. The reality in our house is that Arlene did not want to wait until I had time, so she made all the outfits herself. Then, she made other pieces with the skills she had learned! Arlene also made a pleated skirt to match her doll's top, and a cape from a pattern she found in my sewing room. If you're wanting something to do with your daughter, or you're been wanting to learn how to make doll clothes yourself, Rosie's is a great idea! The course would make a great gift.
Arlene & Ariel

Overall, I give Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns an A! Arlene thoroughly enjoyed making new outfits for her doll, and I saw an improvement in her skill level as she watched the videos. IF you live in a place where your internet is really slow, Rosie does have an option for purchasing the videos on a DVD. There is also an option to get your doll patterns to fit an 18 & 1/2" Cabbage Patch doll instead of the American Girl Doll size. The only drawbacks you need to know about are that Rosie is from down under (Australia) so she talks with an accent, and it takes a few seconds sometimes for the videos to load because your computer is talking to a server half-way around the world. The loading times were not long, but the accent sometimes made us laugh. When Rosie says "raw edges" it sounds like "roar edges" and we chuckled.

This has probably been the review labelled 'most fun' of this Crew year. If you would like to know how other Crew families fared on their Doll Clothes voyages, click the link below!


 photo Disclaimer2_zpsff718028.gif

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thankful Thursday - 10/24/2013 - A Full Year

It has been almost a year since we began these Thankful Thursday posts. Some weeks it is really easy to come up with a topic to be thankful for . . . other weeks are more challenging. One thing it has taught me is that I can ALWAYS find something to be thankful for if I look hard enough.

Living in America, I have found it is easy to get distracted from the important things - by the urgent things. I have never lived anywhere else, although I have been blessed with friends who have or do live in foreign countries. 

Anytime I leave my house, there seems to be something else to do or buy that requires money. But hardly any of those things are important in light of eternity. Why am I so easily distracted?

God has been teaching me a lot this past year about contentment. I'm not saying I've achieved contentment yet - because I haven't - but I'm starting to understand. I really want to live a life that glorifies God. In order to do that, I know I need to be thankful for all that He has done for us, including all He has provided. I also need to understand that God does things for HIS glory, not mine.

So today, instead of just choosing one or two things to be thankful for, I'd like to share a few snapshots of things that have happened in our rather-full year so far.

By the way- when I started this idea, I was going to just do Thankful Thursday posts for a year. I think we'll continue further. I hope we have been a blessing to you, and in the midst of whatever is going on in your world, we have encouraged you to take time to be thankful!

So here goes: (in no particular order)

Arlene & Emily completing their 4-H sewing projects on time (& looking great!)

Apple tree blossoms, that turned into apples...and apple jelly!

Rosie's Doll Clothes review that taught Arlene how to make cute outfits for her Ariel doll :)
You can read the whole review next week!

Family Camp with our church

One of many hikes through the forest

Jello... need I say more?

A roadtrip to Oklahoma, and a bunch of fun side stops!

Popcorn that grew, and matured, and is now waiting to be popped & eaten

Fun at the Indy 500 car show day

Our whole family at the State Fair

Strawberries. . . the best part of gardening?!
I think it is at least one of our favorites.

So take a look through YOUR year, what do you have to be thankful for ?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

********** SNOW ***********

Believe it or not, we had SNOW this morning. Not a lot, but enough that I am REALLY glad I put the new wiper blades on the truck yesterday.

Do your kids get excited about snow? How about you? I must admit, it WAS fun to watch it for a few minutes . . . but then the reality struck that I would soon need to go out into it.

So, am I still excited we had a little snow??? Yes.

Why? I have no idea.

Ok, I do have one idea. Maybe, just maybe, it goes back to my childhood. Because the arrival of snow usually meant it was getting closer to my birthday. And birthdays usually mean presents. (That sound like  a line from a Winnie the Pooh story doesn't it?!)

Time to update the to-do list. I think it's safe for me to cover the air conditioner now --- don't you?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall in the Forest

Thanks for joining us on the Fall Into Nature Blog Hop!

We spend a lot of time outside. Not as much time as we would like to, but still, a lot. One of our favorite places to go is into the forest. Some people call them woods, we call them forests. (Now I know, there are technical terms for the types of wooded areas, but let's just skip all of those right now and take a trip together into the forest.) Are you with us?

There are several small forests near by. One of the easiest ways to find them is to look up your state parks. Recently, we went on a guided hike in our local state park. We have been there dozens, probably hundreds of times, but it was humbling and exciting to go with a guide... who could tell us the names of all those trees and plants we love to see.

This forest has several small ground-fed streams that run into the river along the edge of the forest. It can be relaxing to just stand  (or sit) and listen to the water trickle down through the rocks.

Sometimes you see strange and unusual trees in the forest. I believe this one was a shag-bark hickory. Quite shaggy!

Along the hike Arlene and I took pictures. We switched back and forth a lot with the camera, so you're seeing things from both of our perspectives.

Speaking of perspective, this is one of my favorite shots from the hike. This tree reminds me of an Ent! (You know, tree-herders from the Lord of the Rings?!) I love seeing things from a different perspective.

While we were out looking at the flora, some fauna decided to show up. Our group found these two little snakes.

I love hiking in the forest. It challenges my body while calming my mind. For this particular foray into the forest, all four of us went. (So did about 30 other people, but it was still quite relaxing!)

This tree is, well, HUGE! It must be deeply rooted. I want to be deeply rooted in God's word.

Some wild asters just to remind me that God loves flowers too!

Here is a shot of the river that winds through the Forest. I could take my lunch and sit on the bank all day. Something about being in the forest takes away the distractions and lets me hear God. I see His work all around me, and my soul starts to sing.

Evidence that even deeply-rooted trees have an appointed end.

Emily and Arlene stood still long enough (at our friend's insistence) so I could get a picture of them too!

The tree branches reach for the sky in praise to their Creator!

This is Kevin, our guide. He helped make a list of ALL of the plants that live in our local Forest. I think there are about 280 varieties. He's a great Naturalist, and loves to share his knowledge.

One other tree that met it's appointed end. And now we are at our appointed end. 

Maybe it's time to stop taking your world so seriously and find some joy for today! May we suggest a hike in the Forest? As You're spending your time wisely, Fall Into Nature, and spend part of YOUR Fall in the Forest!

Click HERE to read all the other Fall Into Nature posts!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday - 10/17/13 - Sunrise, herbal tea, and warm blankets

Today I am thankful for a lot of things. Like the sunrise I saw Tuesday morning - it was awesome! (Ok, so the pictures might not be stellar, but I took them on my phone.) This was the sunrise that greeted me Tuesday morning when I walked out of work about 7:30 a.m.

I am also thankful that this morning, I saw the stars when I went outside. It was cold, but there were stars! With it turning colder this week, I'm also thankful for herbal tea, and warm blankets! Arlene and I love herbal tea, (well, she at least likes peppermint and apple cinnamon types!) I tend to stock up during the summer when it's on sale, then we have several types to choose from for the Fall and Winter.

What else am I thankful for today? My Savior, Jesus Christ. My husband Kurt, our girls, our church family, and that I get to sleep in tomorrow morning! (For the first time in what seems like forever... but it might have only been a month.) 

So tonight, I'll be thankful for warm blankets, and a house to help keep me warm. I'm also thankful that I got some good buys on produce today.  I'm thankful that I DON'T have to go to work tonight, and I'm thankful that tomorrow we'll get to see some of our friends.

It's turning out to be quite a Thankful Thursday!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

GOD'S WORLD NEWS - Trak level (a Crew Review)

What resources do you use to talk about current events with your children? Do you listen to talk radio, search the internet, watch the nightly news? While any of those may be a starting point for a quality conversation with your child, they each also include the risk of your child seeing or hearing things you wish they had not. Emily and I have been reviewing the Trak magazine from GOD'S WORLD NEWS  (Trak is the High School level of the six different magazines available.) GOD'S WORLD NEWS also has a website for further study (you log in with your subscriber # from the magazine.) Once you log in you can choose to read the digital version of the magazine (any issue from the last 2 years), read about international news in the 'Globe Trot' area, or read Biographies of dozens of different people.

  photo godsworldnewslogo_zpsbc5c7163.png

When we agreed to review Trak, we were only expecting the printed magazine, so having access to the online areas is a great bonus! One other nice feature of the online part of a subscription is the online map. Sometimes, I just don't remember where a country is, and this has come in handy . . . and saved me from searching for the globe or atlas.

Our subscription began with the October issue and got Emily and I talking about current events right away. For only having 32 pages, each issue packs in a lot of food for thought. I appreciated the articles as they were truly written to high schoolers. They don't assume you already know a lot about a particular subject, but they also don't talk down to you as though you aren't able to do some additional research on your own. 

An article in the October issue talked about people fleeing Syria. Emily and I had heard a little about this on the news, but the article did a valuable job off not only talking about Syria, but also talking about other people groups who have fled their homelands en-masse such as the Afghans or Iranians. With a little information about several different groups, we can now do further research with a focus. We can also be reminded of how fortunate we are to live where we do where persecution is quite limited. Some of the articles quote Scripture to give a starting point, but almost all of them give you  information to think about . . . how one person's choices affect the lives of many.

I remember reading a weekly magazine in High School during our current events class. GOD'S WORLD NEWS offers a better choice . . . reading a magazine that points you back to the Creator instead of to the lewdness of the world. I can see this magazine being helpful for families, as well as an excellent choice for co-op classes. The articles can be assigned for reading throughout the month, and then discussion, further research, and even short writing assignments could be done individually or as a group. 

For the review, we were also sent copies of the August & September issues. These allowed us to see how the magazine flows over time. We were particularly interested in the article that talked about yoga being taught in public schools as gym class. Emily & I had been discussing yoga (and it's Hindu religion ties) for several months.

Sometimes though, I just want to close my ears and STOP thinking about current events. That's another thing that is nice about Trak magazine. You can put it away for a few days. While current events are important to learn about, especially for High Schoolers as they transition into adulthood, they are not everything. You still need to keep your educational focus on first things first . . . in our house that means a focus on Christ, with a healthy dose of Math, History, Science, and quality Literature.

Here is a snippet about GOD'S WORLD NEWS from Emily (age 15):

God’s World News is a good way to learn about current news stories from a Christian perspective. It covers a wide variety of topics, including politics, sports, world news, technology, human interest, pop culture, and current trends. One good example was an article published earlier this summer about yoga being used, not just in gym, but also in classrooms to promote peace, harmony, and better thinking. The article talked about parents who are arguing against this as religious agenda in schools, as the money to do this was coming from a Buddhist group, and that, even though the schools said different, that the group was using it to push their religion. The Buddhist agreed, saying that you couldn’t be of another religion and do yoga without compromising your faith, whether or not you are a Christian. They finished the article by asking  for the readers' opinions on the matter by telling them to contact the editor. 

Trak is published 10 times a year, and costs $28 for a U.S. subscription. If you are wanting to use it in a co-op or classroom setting, there are options to get bulk discounts, either on year-long subscriptions, or on bundles of the same issue. I think $28 is a solid price for the amount of value you can get out of the magazine. Emily has been reading (& re-reading) the three issues we have received so far. It is something I feel safe handing her and telling her to go read and we will discuss it later. (This would NOT be the case for the other methods of learning about current events I mentioned at the beginning!)

I believe Trak offers a solid, safe way to read and discuss current events with your High Schooler. The time you invest in it is time well spent.

Click the banner below to read about the other age levels of GOD'S WORLD NEWS that Crew families reviewed!


 photo Disclaimer2_zpsff718028.gif