Here she is... Miss America...

Or rather, our middle child as a National American Miss Jr. Preteen State Finalist.
Pretty Princess & Proud Papa
While she didn't make the Top 15 in her division, she did have a ton of fun and is determined to come back next year and really bring it. This was her very first "big" competition and she learned a lot. We'll be receiving her scores sometime between September & October so we'll have some guidance for how to improve.

Next week, she and I will be heading off to Royal Galaxy Pageant's National/International combined event while her siblings are at camp. This was truly serendipitous because she won her entry paid to Royal Galaxy via a contest on The Pageant Planet. I had been worried about how we'd spend the week since her brother and sister had all day camp. As it turns out, I shouldn't have worried at all.

Her dress & shoes are courtesy of The Aventura Bridal. The dress was designed especially for her by the owner of the shop and it's a great honor to have The Aventura Bridal as a sponsor.

Playing the catch-up game

Since I've neglected my own blogs for almost a year, the side effect was that I neglected to keep up with the blogs I was following as well. The Blogger/Google Reader app for my Android phone quite frankly sucked. It was SO much of a pain that I eventually threw in the towel and said "When I get some spare time..."

And we ALL know how that goes. Some things that happened in the last 12 months:

I was diagnosed with ADD. Which means better living through Big Pharma for me to be able to cope with life. That's fine, though, because I've never been MORE productive and MORE focused in my life. So YAY DRUGS!

My oldest daughter was diagnosed with ADD. Actually, SHE was diagnosed first and then I got my diagnosis. But this is my blog, so I come first. MUAHAHAHAHAH See "Better living through Big Pharma" for her too. Her issues are different than mine so she gets more/different meds than me. All I can say is that they WORK and she's actually acting like a normal 10 year old. Most of the time.

My oldest daughter was diagnosed with "pituitary dwarfism", that is, lack of growth hormone. So she gets injections every night for her condition. She's getting so TALL now.

My younger daughter started participating in pageants. She's done really well all things considered. She's won quite a few titles and this weekend we're off to our state's National American Miss finals. She's wearing a suit I made from a vintage pattern for her interview suit. She'll also be representing our state at the Royal Galaxy National/International Pageant at the end of this month, thanks to the help and votes of my family and online community.
Interview Suit, not quite finished here
Incidentally, her formal wear and theme wear both took first place at a local competition. Her sister got best theme wear too.
She designed this herself

I designed this. The tree lights up as do the wings.

Beware of big presents...

My oldest daughter had her tonsils out a couple of weeks ago. She's finally back to normal.
Sayonara Tonsils!

My oldest daughter ALSO got her feet issue sorted out. She suffered from Siever's which is basically an issue with the Achilles Tendon pulling on the heel plate and causing inflammation. Poor kid suffered for two years from painful feet. Couldn't do stairs, run, jump or otherwise be highly active like every OTHER 7-9 year old. Thanks to the fabulous Ortho at Nemour's, she got physical therapy and shoe inserts which actually FIXED her issues. Now my klutzy wonder, oft called "Grace", has better balance and is able to run, jump and play. Apparently her ankles rolled so far in that it was causing balance issues. She's only able to wear sneakers most days (we have one pair for outside and one "nice" pair for church) but she's happy with that. It makes MY life easier when I tell her to find her shoes and put them on.

My son recently brought the plague to our house and everyone but ME(for once!) got sick. My better half missed two days of work, we all missed the 4th of July frolic downtown and poor Oldest Daughter was less than a week post-op and coughing up a lung. Thankfully she recovered just fine. We think it was a flu virus. How I did not get sick is beyond me. Maybe it was all those kids' gummy echinacea & vitamin C supplements.

Everyone passed the school year and matriculated to the next grade. So in about 4 weeks, I'm going to have a 1st, 3rd & 5th grader. This is Oldest Daughter's last year of elementary school. Next year I'm shipping her off to my mother-in-law... JUST KIDDING! I don't have much use for the typical "middle school" thing. I missed out on all the drama that was middle school because I was homeschooled from 4th-9th grades. I'm glad. To this day I'm just SO not into the drama of who did what to whom and how it's like so totally whatever and stuff. Funny thing is, Oldest Daughter is just like me. She says she doesn't get along that well with the girls in her class because "all they do is sit around and talk about boys and gossip". She'd rather be playing Beyblades with the guys or building Gundam models. Frankly, so would I.
Gaza C Gundam Model

I thought I was TOTALLY DONE with sewing for a while. I closed my Etsy shop for the summer because the orders were actually coming too close together and I couldn't keep up AND take care of my family. I know, I know, what a terrible problem to have...

Now that I'm done with pageant clothes, including embellishing the store-boughten ones, I've got to focus on UNIFORMS. I have a love/hate relationship with uniforms.

I LOVE that they make it so easy to decide what to wear each day. It cuts down on morning drama when we're already running behind to make it before the tardy bell rings.

I HATE that they have to have Polo shirts. Those things are terrible. They trap stains like Ursula trapped those "poor unfortunate souls" in The Little Mermaid. What's wrong with woven cotton shirts? Yes, they need to be ironed, but SO DO THE POLO SHIRTS. Because if you don't they look like [potty word].

I HATE the quality of mass-market uniforms. Especially JC Penney's. Yes, I'm calling you out Penney's. And because this isn't Etsy, I CAN. Those skirts didn't even last the year before they looked like [potty word]. In contrast, The Children's Place uniforms last long past the time my kids grow out of them. But they are pricy. And they HAVE TO BE IRONED. Even though they say "Wrinkle Free" don't you believe it for a minute. If it's cotton it has to be ironed. I'm seriously thinking about sending their uniforms OUT. Target makes some decent twill pants that are pretty OK. But still.

I HATE the fact that Younger Daughter is SO SMALL that she wears a size 4/5 in the waist but a 7 in length of pants. She's 8 and built with a very tiny bone structure. You'd *think* she was super-fragile, but she can kick both her sister AND brother's collective butts. She's pretty much ALL muscle. So for her, I usually end up putting her in shorts or skirts or making her jumpers.

So uniforms. Earlier this year I was stalking Etsy's vintage patterns and came across two identical patterns in sizes 8 & 14. Neither of them exactly fit my girls, but it's something to work from. Oldest Daughter wears a 10-ish in vintage sizes. Younger Daughter wears a 4. Her interview suit was a size 6 that I took no less than 4" out of the jacket and 3"+ out of the skirt. She's SO small that my child size dress form at it's smallest setting is TOO BIG. Ugh.
The Pattern (Source)
Anyhoo, I'm going to make the shorts and skirt for my girls for their school sartorial splendor. The Boy is on his own. He's already got plenty of pants and shorts from last year that still fit.

Sew ya later!

#backtoschool #schooluniforms


It's funny how a word will always have a connection to a certain song, place or memory. For me, "Summertime" means song Old Skool DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.

Back in '91, I was a sophomore in college and lived for summer vacation. 21 years later... I've got three kids who wish summer would never end and I'm counting the days until school is back in session. That's exactly one month from now as school starts on August 13th.

I know that the next month is going to go by so fast that I'll wonder where the time went and how my kids grew up so fast and all that other stuff that goes along with it. But at least I got a jump on the school supplies. Yes, we have all the supplies on the list except uniforms. Those will wait until just before school starts because, well, there's still a month of summer left and have you seen how fast kids grow in the summer?

#target #schoolsuppliesrock

Facebook, what have you done to me?

Dear Readers,

The reason I haven't blogged lately is that Facebook has consumed my online time.

The various 'Villes, social quizzes and ANGRY BIRDS have become a time-suck. I ignored my favorite bloggers. I'm sorry.

Speaking of Angry Birds, I can't exactly blame Facebook entirely. No. I got a smartphone just about a year ago, too. And it, too has consumed my time. I ignored my favorite bloggers some more. But for good reason: the app for that sucked. Still does actually. I've yet to have a decent Blogger Reader for my Android device. And you'd think what with Google being the Big Brother behind Blogger, YouTube and practically everything else on the web.

But that's no excuse for abandoning my blog and you, all twelve followers. I know what a good excuse is! It's starting up a non-profit org that runs beauty pageants to help benefit abused children. No really. Seriously. I did that. Between September of last year and March of this year, my life was consumed with pageant prep. Well, that and major back problems. My back is better now.

If you're interested in my pageant program, please feel free to click here. I'm in the process of redesigning and moving the website to another host, so bear with me.

I promise I'll do better about blogging. I've done a bit of sewing and crafting and stuff, so I'd like to share it with you.

Sew ya later!


Sewing Patterns Without Pity

Or, where I wonder WHO is doing the art direction & styling for McCall's pattern books.

First up, Baby Daddy. This picture had me so flabbergasted I had to take pictures. Thus was born the inspiration for this post. See what I did there?
In our first game of "What's Wrong With This Picture", we have the OBVIOUSLY pregnant man. Either that or he's had one too many beers. Then there's the Rebel Without A Cause leather jacket coupled with Maverick's sunglasses from Top Gun. But the real gem is the COWBOY-themed diaper bag. Because every hipster-dad I know rocks that cowboy quilter's fabric style. Uh huh.

Moving on, we have McCall's 6027:
While there's nothing inherently "wrong" with the picture, her shoes are ALL WRONG for that dress. Royal Blue suede shoes would've been more fashion forward than peach strappy sandals with her foot hanging far enough off the back to wonder HOW she manages to stand at all. This is a case of taking that "shoes have to match the hemline of the dress" just a wee bit too far. It's joined by it's friend McCall's 6278:
Now this one is DEAD wrong as far as styling. I'd go so far as to slap the person who chose the fabrics for this abomination. If anything the loud/busy fabric should have been the contrast with the darker fabric in the middle. However they didn't ask me. The strappy sandals (what IS it with strappy sandals?) lack the proper proportion & color to complement this one. The proper footwear would have been some sort of black shoe to complete the look. As it stands here, the dress feels unfinished at the hemline because there's nothing to anchor it.

Speaking of anchors... McCall's 6346 has given me the WTH? reaction every time I've seen it. If it were possible to make her look more like an oompah loompah, I don't know WHAT they could've done.
First off, the hem line is WAY low on the longer dress. It's out of proportion with her height and the shoes aren't helping. Switch the shoes! Put the taller shoes on the long dress and the flats with the short dress!

McCall's 6342 just makes me say Oh MYYYYY!
George Takei & Quattron technology couldn't save this. It's just all kinds of wrong.

McCall's: The 70s called. They want their shoes, floppy hat & high-waisted with charmeuse blouse with neck tie back.
And it's a "Fashion Star" pattern no less. I'm almost 40 and I KNOW my mom had an outfit or three like this when I was growing up. The 70s were great when it was, you know, the actual 70s.
But wait! There's more! Just like those Ginsu knives we all remember, so McCall's & Fashion Star are going to give us MORE 70s Redux Greatness.

You'd think they'd have a bigger budget for shoes & accessories though. At least the model was different...

Which brings us to McCall's 6612.
Let's spot all the things WRONG with this one, shall we?

1. "Easy" and "Knits" do NOT go together. I've been sewing for going on 30 years now. Knits aren't straightforward like a woven. They have special notions, presser feet and techniquest to keep them from rolling, bunching and otherwise being a nuisance.

2. Skin tight hoochie showing dress and "Plus Size" do not go together. As a member of the "Plus Size" crowd, I wouldn't be caught dead in a dress cut up to my lady business and have it be spandex. I've got a little more dignity.

Way to go McCall's for making a dress in a plus size that would most likely never be made AND worn by a truly plus size woman. But thanks for thinking of us! At least there's McCall's 6127.
If we can't pull off the t-shirt masquerading as a dress, we can always layer on flowy, voluminous pieces that totally hit in all the right spots to de-emphasize our plus sizedness.

What's that McCall's? We should be grateful? Or what? You'll give us a muu muu pattern? Oh wait...
I kid you not. This ... uhhhh ... is in the current (Fall 2012) pattern catalog. My great-grandmother wore dresses like this in the 60s. They were called "housedresses" or "muu-muus" back then. Nothing says "svelte" like a tent hanging from your shoulders that just gets wider as it goes below your lovely lady lumps.

Speaking of the 60s, did you see Nurse Nancy McCall's 5895? You didn't? Well here it is!
I haven't seen a nurse in a dress since I was kid. Or when I was hospitalized in Jakarta two summers ago. Again with the tent-with-a-neckhole style. I'm guessing THIS one is maternity scrubs. It has to be.

If you've stuck with me this far, THANKS! Now let's look at the Bumblebee dress and the scrubs dress. They look awfully alike. Maybe THAT is why I get asked all the freaking time "when are you due?" I'm not pregnant, I'm FAT.

Another thing I've NEVER seen in all my sojourns in medical establishments is a "fashion foward" scrubs top. But they do exist. Thus seweth McCall's 6473.

I've also never seen a medical professional armed with a bottle of hand sanitizer as if it were some sort of weapon. And I've seen a LOT of medical professionals over the last few years. I've logged so many hours in so many medical facilities that I've started asking them for "frequent flyer" cards.

Lest you think I'm full of pattern catalog hate, let me leave you with two really good examples:

I can't post individual pictures because the entire catalog is really, really well done. The children were photographed in settings where one would expect to see them. Even the studio shots had some real thought put into them with props and so on. Made me want to buy them all. The models inside looked like actual models who actually modeled for a living as models. Maybe that's why the patterns are all $11.99 and never go on sale for $1.99 or $.99 like McCall's, Simplicity or Butterick.

Speaking of Butterick, I want to point out that this offering in plus size was actually something a real human being might wear and look GOOD in.
It is the right proportion and fit, is modeled by an actual plus size model and is styled quite nicely. Shoes that look good and model position that isn't unnatural and forced-looking. Butterick uses a lot more pattern illustrations than McCall's. Maybe the reason why the photos look so much better is because they are interested in quality of photo, not quantity.

Sew ya later!