Tag Archives: kids

He’s Smarter Than He Knows…


It was one of those days, with all the details and “have to’s” coming down on my head.  Too much demanding my attention, too many things vying to converge on the same space-time continuum, too many worries and nothing I could ignore, put off or say no to.  And it all required a lot of concentration.  I stare at figures and paperwork and bills, trying to apply a sense of logic and peace to it all.

My son runs into the kitchen (my office).  His enthusiasm about a funny incident at school gushes over me. Then he notices I’m already sitting there in tears.

“Mommy, what’s wrong?”

“I’m sorry honey, things are not so great right at this moment and I have a lot to figure out.”  Caught off guard, I’m not very good at choking back tears.

“Well, but things are going to be so much better now that you are here,” he tells me.

I smile.  “I love you very much son.  That was sweet.  Thank you.”  There are times he’s amazingly sweet and his belief in me catches me off guard.  Changing subjects and pulling myself together though I add, “But I do need you to do your homework.”

“No…” he declares.  “First I’m going to come over and hug you right now!”  He loom tackles me in my chair.

Sigh…..  It’s one of those sighs where I love his hugs, wish I wasn’t so stressed and am trying to refocus so I can do what I need to do.  My son never hugs lightly.  It’s always a tackle and a bear squeeze.  And in effort to comfort me he hangs on a little longer.

I hold on to the moment just a bit and then pat his arm.  “I wish I could just live on hugs dear.  But there are just so many things coming down on me right now and I need to think.”  He lets go.

“So…” he says lightly, “just use an umbrella.”

I know I am here to teach my kids and guide them in life, but so often it is they who teach me. I stare at my son as he walks away, his words striking a tone.

And I realize he’s right.  It’s so simple.  Just use an umbrella.  And there’s always time for hugs.

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Filed under Conversations From the Passenger Seat, Friends and Family, kids

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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A Roomba for the Lawn…


Sighing, I gaze at the lawn after pulling into the driveway.

“I wish I had a Roomba for the lawn,” I say.  “Only to cut it, not vacuum it.  A Roomba lawnmower…. yeah….”

In his completely genuine, yet most logical Spock-like tone, my 11 yr old son quirks his eyebrows at me from the passenger seat.

“You do realize that if you did, someone could hack into it and go on a killing spree.”

Blink.

No.  That was not the first thought that came to mind Son.

Not at all.

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Have You Heard of The Five Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Kids Do) – From The Tinkering School?


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I was recently introduced to an educational concept I’m completely in love with, called The Tinkering School. It’s right up my alley in a Maker Faire kind of way, calling straight to the heart of my inner child. As well, it sweetly validated a general sense of parental philosophy when it comes to learning what I call essential life-skills and the duty of parents to expose their children to the real world and humanity’s natural state of innovation.

Started by Gever Tulley, The Tinkering School concept provides an exploratory environment using real tools and real materials to get kids directly into the mix of experimenting and learning how to take an idea and simply make it. But also it stimulates kids to learn how things do work, might work and could work. A rather organic way of learning if you ask me – very, very natural.  I love it!  (Or is that just the steam punker in me?)

Though I’m new to the knowledge that such a wondrous “school” (official title and expert’s books and all that) exists, I am not new to the philosophy. If anything, it’s a part of the

Jack's Key Blade (Kingdom Hearts)

code of life I carry in my heart. You can see an example of this in my daughter’s creative efforts pictured here. I didn’t design any of her key blade (based off a magical weapon in a popular video game called Kingdom Hearts). She did the whole thing herself. Hers was the spark, hers was the plan. About all I did was take her to the lumber store for the dowel rod and the dry cleaners for the cardboard tubes from hangers. Aside from a little cutting Daddy really had to do, this entire project, even down to asking a thrift store to help her find a piece of wood in their scraps so she could cut stars out of, was all her. On the one hand, I’m adamant about taking care of the things my kids can’t do yet, like driving themselves to the store. One the other hand, I’m adamant that if they have an idea, they should get creative and make a plan themselves too. Even down to “What kind of materials and how will I acquire them?” I love supporting them even though my pocketbook is not very thick, and I know better than most that where there’s a will, there a way. Figuring out how to afford things is a life skill too.

So as you can imagine, finding the following video on Five Dangerous Things (Kids Should Do) just made me feel incredibly happy, validated and empowered in my principles of parenting! #1 on his list just flat out made me giggle. Then again, they all kind of did.

Austin is lucky to have it’s own version of the school called Austin Tinkering School. Though related in concept, the two schools are actually independent from each other. My son had the exciting experience of attending their boat making workshop (big enough for a kid or two to sit in) on his birthday and LOVED it. As my little engineer, it helped make for one of the best memories he’s probably had in getting to just get right into the materials and try to make something without someone trying to lecture him first or slow him down. I haven’t seen the boat yet, since he went with a friend’s family, but when I do, I’ll be sure to post a photo. For now the hard part is finding a date to have the truck to pick up the large boat and find a body of water to haul it too and let us test his thing out!

So all the links are here – go check it out!

If you’re wondering how I found out about the Austin Tinkering School, I had help from some friends of mine from our half-day charter school who keep up with the Austin Area Homeschoolers. If you landed on my page because you’re looking for alternative educational approaches and life enrichment, etc., I do highly recommend AAH as a great local resource, whether you are a traditional homeschooler or not.

So Happy Tinkering Ya’ll!

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My Latest Crochet Collection – Teddy Bear Hats for Toddlers….


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Well, I figured I’d share with you guys the collection of crochet I’ve been working on of late. These are my latest designs specifically for the toddler/preschool sized head. I’m putting together a collection of items to go in a local gift store and I have a custom order with some special considerations, so it was good timing for the two right now. These are all created from some of the softest fibers I’ve worked with and with the exception of one hat in this collection so far, out of fibers that are no longer available. The bows you see are not permanently attached to the hats yet, just in case my customers do not want a bow, with the exception of the orange hat, which I have already permanently secured. It has a blend made with a very unusual fiber that happens to be the softest of the bunch. The glass globe you see is the perfect size to display these.

Hopefully these designs will be just the thing for each of my customers!

Baby Blue Bear Pink Bow 2 Baby Blue Bear Pink Bow

Black Brown Bear 2

Black Brown Bear 3

Blue White Green Pink Bear 2

Blue White Green Pink Bear

Orange Bear Pink Bow 2

Orange Bear Pink Bow

Pink Green White Bear Pink Bow 2

Pink Green White Bear Pink Bow

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MO-Hair…


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Setting: I’m working on my latest hat design one night, trying to get all my notes down and actually record the creative process. So, I’m trying the hat on, trying to make sure the shape of the bill is just right and just about ready to make the final snip to tie off. Dear hubby is multitasking – recommending a yellow flower for the side while wailing on the new Fender he just bought. And my dear daughter (11 at the time) is fondling the yarn balls I just snipped free from the hat I’m finishing.

Story:

“Oh, I just love this yarn,” my daughter sighs, handling the shimmery lilac one. “That’s mohair,” I say, never missing a moment to teach. All these years she’s always heard me talking about one fiber or another.

But this time, she paused long.

And then my super genius 6th grade but high-school level science whiz tells me, “Ummm Mom, I don’t know what a Mo is……”

So that’s where I stop and nearly choke laughing!

To make matters worse, without skipping a strum, my dear hubby chimes in dryly, “Oh you know honey,” he says to our daughter. “From the Three Stooges. The guy with the hair chopped off in the front. Mo-hair.”

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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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Filed under Charity Crochet, Crochet Techniques

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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