Tag Archives: family

My Owl – Keep Watch Tonight…


I spent a little time in KS with my brother, sister-in-law, nieces and nephew.  Their newborn, Lilly, was born by c-section, so we went up not just to visit, but to help.  There was plenty to do with three kids under school age in the house.  And dear Lilly’s sleep schedule hadn’t ironed out yet, as is par for the course.

Staying a week up there was a change of pace from home at the end of the school year and a joy to spend time fulfilling the role of “aunt.”  Over the last weekend of my visit I made a little owl amigurumi from a crochet magazine for my two-year old nephew.  I’d already been making flowers for my oldest niece and wanted to find a ball “recipe” I thought I saw in a magazine.  I was flipping through pages when my 5-year-old niece noticed the owl design.  “You know… Aunt Julia…” she said, drawn out with coy emphasis.  “I think you should make my brother an owl.  Maybe the little one….  (innocent pause)  Don’t you think?”  I looked at her with a barely veiled “is that so?” in my eyes.  And so it was that the simple ball toy for a boy that I was looking for became abandoned to a more involved ami owl.

I always bring yarn with me everywhere.  Trips especially.  I looked through all my bags and found enough navy blue yarn to complete the job.  “Ma’ owl,” my dear nephew kept saying as I crocheted, pointing to the photo in the magazine.  I worked on it all afternoon and on into the next day between chores and other activities.  Then on the second day, as the body was finally stuffed and starting to take form with the eyes sewn on, my nephew got real excited as he realized the owl was coming into being.  “Ma’ owl done?” he kept running up to ask as I sewed on each piece.  It seemed like every 5 minutes at this point.  “Not yet, still working on his feet/wing/beak,” I’d say each time.

Then finally the owl was complete and he was elated.  I managed to finish it right at his bed time, and he carried it around with him as he got ready.  “Owls are nocturnal,” his big sister said at one point.  Then referring to her new baby sister she piped up and said, “Maybe Lilly’s nocturnal!”  My sister-in-law and I shared a chuckle.

Then before they headed off to bed, my nephew put his new owl on the kitchen counter to keep watch.  Eyes on the fridge I guess – we’re not sure why.  The next night he had his owl sit on the banister outside his bedroom to keep watch.  I look forward to hearing more about where it roosts for the nights to come.

It’s a wondrous thing, to be able to create something special, while the kids watch, quick as a wink like that.  Wondrous indeed.

I’ll try to post which pattern this was when I find the magazine I used.  I don’t remember what it was or where I got it.

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The Gift of a Mother


I don’t often share my poetry and prose.  But today, I finally share this as my Mother’s Day Gift to you, dear reader.  If you like it, please thumb it up and share the link back to my blog post.  Thank you for sharing.


The Gift of a Mother
06-10-2005


It just happened,
The Way
She was lying in bed
When I chanced
By her open door,

That her silhouette
Suddenly appeared
Just as that
Of her 3 year old self. 

I was about
Morning Chores

When Suddenly
Out of the Corner
Of my Eye,
I caught Her
Sleeping Visage. 

Back turned,
Laying sideways,
Head buried
In her pillow

Bedclothes piled around,
There she was…

My Toddling Little Girl. 

 I stood There,
Caught. 

The lighting
Trickery
Brought out her short
Tousled Curls,

Back when
It was just finally
Starting to grow. 

Head turned,
Her Face appeared
Smaller
And Younger. 

I felt the pangs
Of Beauty
Of Sorrow
Of Fear
As I turned to continue. 

Sorrow that Time
Seems to pass so quickly

That I Haven’t
Held
My Baby
As Much
As I’ve Desired. 

Fear that Time will
Escape
From my grasp
Completely

And I might
Forget
Or Lose
This Moment Forever. 

Beauty because a single Glance
Holds an Infinity
Of Joy
And Knowing. 


As I passed on
Through the house
Capturing
The Reflection in my Mind,

I Saw that it was
The Gift
Of a Mother

To see Her Child
So. 

To Know Her
So. 


For a Mother has the Privilege
To See Her Child in Ways
Even her own beautiful Child
Will never See. 

 To watch Her Child
Grow and Develop.

To Remember
The Quirkiness,
The Sweetness,
The Sheer Innocence,
The Purity of Heart. 

To Remember
Their Boldness,
Their Courage
And Determination,

Their Worries,
Their Challenges.

The Privilege to
Nurture them,
Teach them,
Guide them,
Protect them,
To Set Them Free… 

It’s all Summed
Within a Glance. 

As I came back
By her room…
There She was again.

Face returned,
Angelic in her dozing,
Cuddled into blankets,

Transformed
In a second

From
The Toddler
To the Girl. 

All that She Is,
Flooding Back
To Me
In Pride
And Joy. 

A rare Moment
Of Experience;
Remembering
With Feeling
Yet again,

How our Time
As Parents
Of Little Ones
Is so Small. 

I have Seen
Beauty
That no one else
Will See,

Nor ever can. 

I have the Privilege
Of the Truth:

You don’t know Her
As I Do.
You haven’t seen
What I have Seen. 

It is My Prize.
My Gift.
As a Mother. 

It is the Gift
Of my Mother. 

To See
The Face of God.

Copyright © 2005 by Julia Meek Chambers, All Rights Reserved.

She turns 14 soon, but it is still the same as 6 years ago.


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It’s My Birthday Week!


My dear hubby and I have birthdays in October that are only 6 days apart. So in our family, between our birthdays is “birthday week” and the weekend that falls in between we call our birthday weekend!

Once a year, I really try to step back from the craziness of Life a bit during that week, keeping it as “zen” as possible and do something personally meaningful that adds to my life experience and memories somehow. And together, we try to do something special every year on our birthday weekend. That and our anniversary near Christmas have been our main “date traditions” we strive to make sure we do something special and different for each year (going on 14 soon)!

So last night, my sister-in-law took the kids and we tried out a new wine bar/Italian cafe in town that we heard great reviews about. It’s called Pizzeria Corvina. It was soooooo goooood! Their coal fired pizza, chicken alfredo, wine and beer selection, desserts and coffee were just excellent! Not to mention the incredible atmosphere and open kitchen and the service was top notch! I could hang out there all day – just simply lovely and the staff are awesome! And open ’til midnight on Saturdays!

We tried to get a photo of us together with the wine in the background, but alas! My camera seems to be on the fritz and it was impossible to get a clear shot! Ack!

Still I think you will like it – go check it out!

Blurry John and I at Pizzeria Corvina For Birthday Weekend!

Blurry Shot at Pizzeria Corvina For Birthday Weekend!

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Crochet for Preemies….


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While on my latest trip, I was asked to help teach 3 young girls how to crochet simple “preemie hats” for a charity project in their area. It was a fairly simple task, however I’d never been asked to make hats for preemies before. Generally when I get involved “crocheted-ly” in a charity project, it’s been for children going through chemo. So I learned a few things regarding the needs for preemies-related handcraft.

Initially, the one basic bit of “requirement” guidance I received (3rd hand), as to what the hospital wanted, was to make a hat for about the size of a doll……

Ah hmmmm…. Well now…

Unless you have a good frame of reference, this guidance alone may seem confusing. As, after all, dolls come in various sizes – so just what does that mean? But the truth is, so do preemies.

Preemies can burn a lot of calories to keep their bodies warm. Something we don’t want, because then those calories are not there to aid them in gaining weight, etc.. So the need to keep little preemie heads covered, and save those calories to help them thrive, is great. NICUs can also go through a lot of hats as, once one has been dropped on the floor or the like, it cannot be put back on the baby. The parents are allowed to keep it, wash it at home or whatever, but it cannot be put back on the baby while still hospitalized. Needs for multiple sized hats are also high because they get outgrown pretty quickly. An 8 to 12″ circumference seems to be a good place to start for most preemie hats. But there are needs for preemie sizes even smaller.

After consulting with some of my crochet peers and researching the subject a little, here are a few more details that stood out as significant, most specifically for charities within the US.

1. Most US hospitals require “no natural fibers.” Preemies are born with their immune systems already fighting, so hospitals want to avoid all possibilities of allergies before they start. Also, fuzzier fibers are not allowed at all where oxygen is present, to avoid all static risks. So acrylic fibers only.

However there are other countries that do prefer wool as that’s something they are more used to than we tend to be in the US anyway. And a few charities up north request soft wool for warmth. There’s also the issue that your donated wool hats may also become history with a toss into the washer or when sterilized. Care tags are not helpful as hospitals will remove all tags before using with the babies. Check with your charity for specifics on their fiber requirements. Otherwise, stick to non-static acrylic yarns.

2. Make sure the fibers are soft. Believe it or not, I actually saw a hat made for a preemie out of old scratchy yarn scraps. And had to say something about it too. Because it’s important that they be soft to the most sensitive skin you have – realizing that a preemie (or any baby) is going to be even more skin sensitive than you. When taking on such a charity project, please consider your fibers and don’t skimp. Many hospitals are reluctant to say too much on some of these details because they are afraid people will stop donating and they don’t want to discourage the well-meaning. So nip it in the bud and consider it now before you get started and your donation doesn’t become one of the ones that simply can’t be used.

3. A lot of hospitals require that the hats *not* be laundered. Though I found some places where people do pre-wash them in Dreft or something else baby appropriate, I also found that many hospitals prefer this not to be the case, due to concerns of allergies and soap exposure, etc.. Preemies have unique medical concerns and needs. Of course, then again, you can make a case for gee, why wouldn’t you launder the hat! Unfortunately, when it comes to preemie hats, you are creating something that has the potential to expose an under-developed baby to foreign things, whether chemical in nature due to soap or environmental in nature because you own a pet or crochet around your kids, etc.. Either case can be a potential issue, so I’m not sure there’s an absolute answer here, except to follow your hospital’s requirements.

4. Consider making hats with a fold down flap or a hole in the top for tubes and scanning equipment, etc.. This makes it much more comfortable for the baby and easier on hospital staff so they don’t have to remove the hats constantly.

5. Avoid pom-poms and yarns that shed. These are typical avoids for any baby hat, but certainly for preemies. Pom-poms are one of the most nightmarish of choking hazards, because as one emergency worker put it to me, the fuzziness makes it near impossible to dislodge from the throat. The fibers just tend to “stick.” Yarns that shed easily can also be breathed or swallowed. Either way, they can get inside a baby, and that’s something no one wants.

6. Donations must be from a smoke free home/environment and made from new fibers. That old stuff you might have pulled out of Grandma’s attic unfortunately won’t do.

7. Consider checking with your hospital/charity of choice as to whether they have greater need for preemie hats or newborn NICU hats. Some hospitals receive a ton of preemie hats but their newborn nurseries run low.

Here are some additional websites that offer very helpful preemie-hat related info:

(Be sure to read!) Some very potent and detailed insight about preemie clothing from a nurse! http://www.bevscountrycottage.com/preemie-clothing-tips.html

A list of suggested yarns here: http://www.thepreemieproject.com/volunteer/yarn_list

Preemie growth charts: http://www.babylinq.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=107

Lots of crochet Preemie patterns links listed here: http://home.inreach.com/marthac/preem.html

Patterns for charity here: http://www.p2designs.com/Links-CharityPatterns.htm

These sources and information should give you a good frame of reference to get you started in your own fiber-related preemie charity efforts. However, as we sadly know that many preemies don’t make it, another consideration for fiber related charity work might be via bereavement needs. Charities like Emmazing Grace specialize in serving families who have experienced the loss of an infant. You can find them at: http://www.emmazinggracefoundation.org/index.html

Here you’ll find a list of patterns for bereavement items: http://www.bevscountrycottage.com/bereavement-gowns.html

Here’s a list of hospitals in need: http://www.bevscountrycottage.com/peds.html

Hopefully this information will help you in your quest towards charity projects such as these. If you found this info helpful to you, please let me know!

Copyright ©2008 – 2009 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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Out of the Mouths of Babes….


Hubby and I busted out laughing in the truck earlier this evening. Someone driving in front of us appeared to be lost and stopped dead in the middle of the road, waving everyone to drive on past. As we skirted around them my daughter piped up and said, “Mommy, that car had Louisianna license plates! That’s the 4th car with foreign tags I’ve seen since we left the house…!”

Howling we were, I tell ya. How could we not! (No honey, Texas only seems that big…….. lol!)

That was almost as good as the time, when she was much much smaller, she assured me – “Don’t worry Mommy, I have everything under the Troll.”

Copyright © 2008 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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Grandpa….


My grandfather died two weeks ago and my life has been in a whirlwind as I run back and forth in and out of state to be of help to my grandmother (88 years old) who is fighting cancer. So much of who I am is because of them, so I decided to honor Grandpa here with what I wrote and read for him at his funeral:

Jack H. Meek was my grandfather. I grew up just down the street from his home. It is the perspective of a grandchild that I share with you and honor him with today.

It was a blessing for me to grow up with my grandparents right here at home. They were not some strangers, far away, who I didn’t really know or only saw once in awhile. They were a part of my life growing up. Though I’ve come to visit frequently since I left home for college, a few months ago I had the opportunity to come visit my grandparents alone and without children, for the first time in years.

Without the daily pressures and responsibilities of being a mother, it was easy to feel like a kid in their home again. I found myself chattering away freely with them, sharing my life’s aspirations and worries, just like the little girl who grew up down the street.

This trip was unique for me, as Grandpa and I had time to talk quite a bit. And it became obvious that he had some things he wanted to say. Grandpa surprised me. He tried to tell me that he had not been there as a grandfather enough for me growing up. That he too often had been too busy. He had been busy with work, busy with his church, busy with the things that demanded his attention in life. He believed he had not spent enough time with me and for that he was sorry.

I tried to argue with him. His presence in my life has been profound. His home has always been a home to come back to now that I’m grown. As I started out in life, uncertain and scared, there was always a safe place to visit and refresh. His presence acted as a solid part of my foundation and my development as an adult, as a student and as a professional. Not everyone is observant. Not everyone looks up to others. But I did look up to my grandfather.

I began to tell him what a difference his presence had made in my life and how important he was to me. And it’s because of him that I dared to break out on my own, to work for myself, start my own business and even help create a charity project for kids. He did so much in his life it seemed to me, and without pretense. And in watching, I knew I could too. But Grandpa just told me how much he loved me, was proud of me – encouraged me to forge on. He gathered me up in a hug, prayed over me and blessed me. I didn’t get to say as much as I wanted, so I share this for him today.

Grandpa may have felt that he had been too busy, but I feel he and his example were always there for me. As every parent begins to realize, children really do learn by example. And grandparents, without the barriers that parenthood sometimes present, teach in every move, word and image. Perhaps it’s because we children look forward to seeing them so much.

My grandfather was a small business owner. He might downplay the facts, but having an idea, following through with it, giving it life and maintaining it over a length of time is something that takes discipline, confidence and guts. Though I’m sure he had his worries, he never gave the appearance of insecurity or hesitation to be his true self. He seemed confident, successful and strong. He never seemed to me to be a pretender. Grandpa was who he was. What you saw was what you got.

I was often down at the shop and watched my grandfather as he worked. I saw him work hard, and it seemed that whatever he put his hand to do, he did it with his might. The work he produced was of quality and it was done right. I learned from that.

When I had an event or awards ceremony, at school, at the county fair, or when I won at the science fair in town, I remember seeing my grandfather and my grandmother there. When I won my place to a regional talent contest, my grandfather without hesitation congratulated me and showed his support. When I graduated with a few scholarships under my belt and started college at the tender age of 15, my grandparents were among the first to clearly say “You can do it!” Grandpa always gave me a hug and kiss, always seemed to know what I was up to and always welcomed every visit and bit of news when I went to college, got married and had children of my own.

He was never afraid to learn something new and remained interested in continuing his education on a variety of subjects. And he always encouraged me to be the same.

I can only give the perspective that a child would have about her grandfather. But between my parents and my grandfather, I felt encouraged to reach farther and beyond what I knew to achieve even more. When grandparents back up the support parents strive to give, it can mean everything. By example, I came to believe that no matter what happens in life, hard work and a good heart can get you almost anywhere. I feel I learned from Grandpa that success is not a destination, but a state of mind and a place of being. As a result, no matter what life has thrown me, I have been able to meet it with confidence in who I am.

I love my grandpa. I could only know him as a child would. But he meant a lot to so many.

And he meant everything to me.

Written by:

Julia Meek Chambers

March 3, 2008

9:01 am

Copyright © 2008 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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