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Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

April 17, 2015 EditionLooking at a selfie of my granddaughter and me, I experienced a déjà vu moment. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the selfie reminded me of, until yesterday. Yesterday was my birthday. When I checked my Facebook page, an image of me and my daughter appeared on the computer screen. The image showed a much younger me, sporting a short hairstyle, carrying my infant daughter. The hairstyle in the photo is almost identical to the haircut I just got a few weeks ago. Other than carrying different babies in my arms, having a few more lines around my eyes, and showing a more generous sprinkling of freckles now, the two moments, 25 years apart, illustrate the proverb, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

#1 – Reincarnated Art
Telmo Pieper's Reincarnated Art Artist Telmo Pieper, from the Netherlands, took drawings he made when he was 4-years-old and reincarnated them with the help of digital effects. Check out the transformations of his art here.

#2 – Reliving The ’90s
How to Throw a '90s Party If the ’90s was your favorite decade, you might enjoy reliving it by throwing a party. Here are 29 Essentials For Throwing A Totally Awesome ’90s Party.

#3 – Children Versus Grandchildren
Are Grandchildren Better Than Children? Before my granddaughter was born, numerous friends and family members told me that being a grandparent was better than being a parent. Could that possibly be true? The article Are Grandchildren Better Than Kids? attempts to answer that question. If you are a grandparent, let me know what you think.

#4 – Things That Get Better With Age
50 Things That Get Better With AgeAmazingly some things actually improve with age. Would you like to know what these possibly could be? Check out this list from Prevention on 50 Things That Get Better With Age.

#5 – Changing
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Leo Tolstoy

Now go and spread joy!

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Remembrance Box The woodworker stood back and looked at his project. While pouring his heart into the design and construction of it, his mind focused on only one thing – the purpose of it. At a recent meeting of local woodcrafters, a plea had been made for boxes. Keaton Raphael Memorial, a nonprofit organization that assists families with children with cancer, was in dire need of woodworkers to help make Remembrance Boxes. When a child being helped by Keaton Raphael Memorial passes away and becomes a special KRM angel, the organization gives the family a wooden box containing bereavement reading materials and oftentimes a grant to help with funeral expenses. The woodworker rose to the challenge and his expertly-crafted work reflects the beauty of fallen leaves, signifying, in my opinion, the short, but significant lives of young souls.

#1 – Land Art
Land Art Nature doesn’t need any embellishments. However, when man works with natural components, interesting art can result. You will be impressed by the scale of some of the projects in 21 Unforgettable Examples of Land Art.

#2 – Got Stuff?
Recycling Goods With children moving hither and yon, I am left with a garage full of “stuff.” All of it is useful – to somebody. Rather than toss everything into the garbage, I’d rather find new homes or new uses for them. If you are in the same situation of having stuff and not wanting to add to our landfills, go to earth911. Type in what you would like to recycle, add your zipcode, and a listing of local recycling centers should appear.

#3 – Easter Decorations
80 Fabulous Easter Decorations While scrolling through the ideas in 80 Fabulous Easter Decorations You Can Make Yourself, I went into creative overload. There are so many cute and clever ideas in it, I don’t which project to start first!

#4 – Fresh Eggs
How to Buy the Freshest Eggs PossibleWith Easter right around the corner, you’ll want to make sure you buy the freshest eggs possible. In How to Buy the Freshest Eggs Possible, learn how to read the Julian date on an egg carton. And here’s a tip from me: when selecting a carton of eggs in the grocery store, just don’t open the carton and look at the eggs. Always wiggle each egg. If an egg doesn’t move, there’s a good chance that its shell is cracked, causing it to stick to the carton.

#5 – In Every Falling Leaf
“In every change, in every falling leaf there is some pain, some beauty. And that’s the way new leaves grow.”
Amit Ray

Note: The beautiful Remembrance Box in the photo was made by Mr. Jim Hunt

Now go and spread joy!

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March 6, 2015 Edition Model Tyra Banks coined the word “smize.” According to one of her websites, the word means: a fierce, sizzling eye expression, typically with the eyes squinting with maximum focus and intensity; the art of smiling with one’s eyes. So what’s a girl to do when she has a camera-toting grandmother? Why, she poses, of course! As I propped up six-month-old Charlotte on a chair for a 30-second photo shoot, she “smized” into the camera. I told her, “Tyra Banks would be so proud of you!” Life flies by and babies grow up fast. Don’t forget to smile through your eyes and take photos of your journey!

#1 – Photographing Kids
13 Tips for Better Pictures of Babies, Toddlers and Teenagers Photographing kids takes skill and a little bit of luck. For those of you who take photos of your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews read professional photographer Brett Harkness’s 13 Tips For Better Pictures of Babies, Toddlers and Teenagers.

#2 – Easter Crafts
Upcycling Empty Egg Cartons Easter is a month away. As you think ahead to dying Easter eggs, also think ahead to what you will do with the empty egg cartons. Discard them? Never! Here are a few cute ideas for upcycling those cartons.

#3 – Those Downtime Thoughts
Bizarrely Odd Shower Thoughts Some of my best blog ideas come to me while I blow-dry my hair. It’s a mindless task, so my mind wanders freely. Bizarrely Odd Shower Thoughts is a compilation of those types of wandering thoughts. Where do you do your best and most creative thinking?

#4 – Flowers, Flowers Everywhere
Flowers Surviving Daffodils in full-bloom sprinkle the slope of my front yard with cheerful color and Daphne blossoms near my front door provide a heavenly fragrance to those who come visit. Plants bring so much joy to our world, especially those that manage to thrive in unusual conditions. Check out Life Finds A Way: 25 Plants That Just Won’t Give Up.

#5 – Smile
“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

Now go and spread joy!

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Chinese Steamed Pork Turnovers My Yin Yin, my father’s mother, calls out my name in Chinese and I drop what I am doing and run to the kitchen. I know that a fresh batch of homemade Fun Guaw, savory Chinese turnovers, have finished steaming and are waiting for me. My grandmother picks up one with a pair of chopsticks and holds it up in the air. With light coming in from behind her, I can see little bits of pork, mushroom, and water chestnut through the remarkably thin and translucent “skin.” And like a little bird waiting for a mama bird to feed her, I open my mouth. Plop! My grandmother drops a warm Fun Guaw into my mouth, and I gently bite through the tender outer layer to release its delicious contents. Fifty-two years later, I still remember how my grandmother made and fed me these delicacies. So, as an ode to her and a nod to Chinese New Year, I decided to make these wonderful little turnovers with my daughter. When the first batch came out of the steamer, I anxiously tasted one to see if it was as good as I remembered. It wasn’t as good as my Yin Yin’s, but how could it possibly compete with a childhood memory? Like Marcel Proust, though, I reveled in a moment of remembering things past.

Steamed Pork Turnovers (Fun Guaw)
Adapted from Dim Sum by Rhoda Yee

INGREDIENTS
Wheat Starch Dough
1 cup wheat starch
2/3 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp oil
1 cup and 2 tbsp boiling water

Pork Filling
1 lb minced fresh pork butt
12 water chestnuts, minced
1 tbsp minced salted turnips (choan choy)
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 stalk minced green onion

Sauce Mixture
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp sugar

2 tsp oil for stir-frying

DIRECTIONS
To Make Dough:
Wheat Starch Dough
1. Mix together the first 4 ingredients in the order given.

2. Bring water to a rolling boil and stir into dry ingredients with chopsticks until dry ingredients adhere.

3. Cover and let it cool for 15 minutes.

4. Lightly oil kneading surface and knead dough for several minutes, until dough is well mixed and smooth. Now it is ready for wrapping.

5. Dough can be kept at room temperature for 1 day, if you wrap it in plastic wrap.

To Make Filling:
Pork Filling
1. Soak dried mushrooms for 1 hour or until soft. Discard stems and mince mushroom caps finely.

2. Mix sauce ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

3. In a wok or skillet, heat 2 tsp oil and then stir-fry the pork, water chestnuts, salted turnips and mushrooms for a few minutes. Stir in seasonings (sugar, salt, and white pepper).

4. Add sauce mixture and stir into meat mixture well. (Sauce mixture is very thick.)

5. Add green onions last.

6. Let meat mixture cool before wrapping in dough.

Assembling Turnovers:
1. Divide the dough into 3 parts. Roll each part into 3/4 inch wide rolls.
Dough Rolls

2. Cut each roll into 3/4 inch wide segments.
Cutting Dough

3. Roll each segment into 4 inch rounds.

4. Place 1 tbsp of filling in the center of round and bring opposite sides together and pinch to seal. Turnovers will resemble half moons.

Steaming:
1. If using a bamboo steamer or aluminum steamer, fill the bottom layer with water and line the steam rack with a piece of parchment paper (prevents sticking).

2. If you don’t have a bamboo or aluminum steamer, set up a steamer in a large pot by putting water in the bottom and using a steamer stand or inverted heat-safe bowl. Oil a cake or pie pan to prevent turnovers from sticking.

3. Bring the water to a boil.

4. Place the turnovers in a single layer either on their sides or standing with their seam sides up in the steamer. Do not let them touch or they will stick together.

4. Steam for approximately 15 minutes. Skin should be somewhat translucent.

5. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before handling.

6. Serve with light soy sauce for dip.

Do Ahead Notes:
These turnovers can be kept for several days in the refrigerator or 2 to 3 weeks in the freezer. In either case, keep them well-wrapped to prevent discoloration. Reheat by steaming, 10 minutes from refrigerator or 20 minutes from freezer.

Yields about 3 dozen

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Wheat starch, tapioca starch, dried mushrooms, and salted turnip can be purchased at most Asian markets.
se Ingredients

2. I prefer rough minced pork over ground pork. That being said, I buy a piece of pork butt and mince it in my food processor.

3. Instead of 12 water chestnuts, I chopped one 8-oz can of water chestnuts.

4. My family thought the filling was a bit too salty, so I cut back on the salt in the filling by about 1/4 tsp.

5. My daughter and I had trouble rolling the balls of dough into 4 inch rounds, as the skin became too thin and difficult to work with. Ours were closer to 3 inches in diameter. Because of the size differential, we used less filling per turnover. Having a tortilla press would have been helpful.

6. My family always served these turnovers with oyster sauce instead of soy sauce.

Chinese Steamed Pork Turnovers

Enjoy!

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February 20, 2015 Edition Why do socks never stay on a baby’s feet? Here are a few of my observations. Being super flexible, babies can bring their feet all the way up to their faces. They then can pull off their socks and feast on their tasty little piggies, all the while giggling with delight. Remember when you could do that? Babies also squirm and kick and writhe and stretch a lot, so with no shoes to hold them in place, socks work their way down and eventually fall off completely. Another reason socks don’t stay on tiny baby feet is an anatomical one. My adorable infant granddaughter has “cankles.” For those of you who don’t know what cankles are, they are the areas where chubby calves abruptly converge with chubby ankles. The straight cut of most socks refuse to cooperate with the triangular shape of cankles. Why is any of this information important? None of it is. But I bet some part of it made you smile.

#1 – Your Inner Child
3 things Kids Can Do that Can Lead to Self-Love and Happiness Think back to the days when you were a child. Do those memories bring a smile to your face? What feelings do you have when you think of your childhood and when did those feelings change, if they did? Somewhere along the way, most of us lose our inner child, the part of of us that is joyful, open, and inquisitive. In her article 3 Things Kids Do That Can Lead to Self-Love & Happiness, life coach Theresa Ho reminds us of ways we can nurture our inner child and develop more self-love. I particularly like the Jean Shinoda Bolen quote in the introduction: “When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”

#2 – It’s A(Door)Able
A(Door)Able Game Here’s a mini game for you to play on your computer. Use the arrow keys on your keypad to pick up a key and stick it in a door on your screen. Sounds easy, right? Not so! To play this A(Door)Able “minute-long” game, you must have nimble fingers and act quickly. My husband got through the game and was able to see the cute surprise ending. Have fun playing!

#3 – Flower Power
Three Dimensional Photo Just in time for spring, here’s a clever way to capture the spirit of the moment and frame a photo. The vibe for Flower Embellished Photo Art is so happy and carefree. Think of all the different materials you could use alternatively to get the feel you want.

#4 – Paying It Forward
Looking for another way to pay it forward? Look at the thoughtful example that Rosa’s Fresh Pizza parlor in Philadelphia started. Other businesses should take note.

#5 – There’s No Outgrowing It
“A baby is born with a need to be loved – and never outgrows it.”
Frank A. Clark

Now go and spread joy!

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Beanie Cap Made From a Sweater The model napped during the construction and fitting of the garment, so a giraffe graciously stepped in to help. What? After using a sweater to make a Christmas stocking last month, I wanted to learn additional ways to reuse old sweaters. I searched for ideas online and found the site Make It and Love It, which had some cute examples. Making a “sweater” cap is easy. By the time my granddaughter woke up from her nap, I’d fashioned a beanie cap for her. It’s a little large for her right now, but it looks great on the giraffe. I’m going to make an argyle cap tomorrow. Hopefully the model will be awake!

How to Transform a Sweater into a Beanie Cap

MATERIALS
Old sweater with ribbing at the bottom
Paper and pen for pattern
Thread
Pins
Scissors
Sewing machine

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Using an existing hat that fits, flatten it out and place it on a piece of paper. Trace around the perimeter of the hat with a pencil or pen. Draw a 1/4″ seam allowance alongside the first outline. Cut out the pattern.

2. Lay the sweater on a flat surface and place the pattern on top of it. The bottom edge of the pattern should be flush with the bottom edge of the sweater hem/ribbing. Pin pattern in place. Cut around the pattern making sure to cut through both layers of the sweater. Note: In this photo, I used the half of a sweater leftover from the Christmas stocking project. That’s why the sweater looks so narrow. Using an old sweter to make a hat

3. To make the bow feature, cut an additional piece of sweater at least 1.5 inches longer than the width of the base of the beanie and about 3 to 4 inches tall.

4. Cut a smaller piece for the center of the bow.

5. Fold each bow piece in half lengthwise with right sides touching. Sew 1/8″ seams. Turn both pieces right side out. Place the small piece around the center of the long piece, making sure all seams are facing towards the back. Pin together and stitch the small piece as close to long piece as possible. Cut off excess length on the short piece. Turning an Old Sweater Into a Beanie Cap

6. Lay one of the cap pieces right side up on a flat surface. Place the constructed bow on top of it, making sure it is centered and the seam side is down. Pin it in place. Place the other cap piece right side down on top of the bow and pin all three layers together. Sew all layers together using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Trim excess bow fabric that sticks out beyond the seam. Making a beanie cap from an old sweater

7. Turn beanie cap right side out. Embellish with button, if desired.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I don’t have a serger, so I used a stretch stitch on my sewing machine. Working with a cable knit was more difficult for a first-time attempt. I recommend experimenting with a smooth knit first.

2. If you don’t want to include the bow feature, just omit the steps related to bow construction and placement.

Enjoy!

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Charlotte While watching my infant granddaughter suck on her little jacket, I think about all of the fun we will share in the coming days and years. I dream of blowing giant bubbles with her, of making pies out of Play-Doh together, and of sharing favorite books. Very, very soon it will be the Charlotte and “Yin Yin” Show, as that is what it will be when I take on full days of caring for her. With much excitement and a little trepidation, I consider all that I need to have on hand and all that I need to do to prepare for her visits.

As far as equipment goes, I am well-prepared. Thanks to my thoughtful son and daughter-in-law, I have a Pack n’ Play, a space-saving highchair, a baby bathtub, a super-duper baby monitor, and an array of other helpful items. I purchased a car seat and a stroller on my own, because I wanted specific features. If you are a first-time grandparent planning to care for an infant or young grandchild in your home, here is a list of items to consider having on hand and some additional helpful information:

Equipment
I am fortunate to have been given many of these costly items. Many grandparents look for used items. There is nothing wrong with that, but before you look for second-hand items, I urge you to use caution. Because safety standards in the baby industry change constantly, you need to do some product-safety homework prior to buying or borrowing certain used items. Be smart and research current safety regulations and check out product recalls.

Crib and mattress, portable crib and mattress, or Pack n’ Play
Car seat
Stroller
Highchair of some sort
Baby carrier for hands-free movement
Baby monitor, optional
Baby bathtub, optional

Basics
Keep in mind that babies are messy little things. You’ll want to have more than one set of bedding and a couple of sets of baby’s clothing on hand.

Crib sheets, minimum of 2
Waterproof mattress pads
Waterproof multi-use pads (I use these for change pads at home and on the go)
Free and clear laundry detergent
Diapers
Wipes
Extra changes of clothes
Changing pad, optional
Baby bath towels and washcloths, optional (I like using baby wash cloths, because they are thinner and can more easily get into baby’s nooks and crannies)

Health Care, Safety, And Emergency
Safety measures have changed since my children were young. Infants now sleep on their backs in cribs with no bumpers or blankets. Syrup of Ipecac is no longer recommended for your home emergency kit.

Pediatrician’s contact information
Health insurance information
Copy of child’s health history, including allergies, immunizations, and significant health conditions
Poison Control contact number 1-800-222-1222 on or near every phone
Consent for treatment signed by parents
Digital thermometer and extra batteries for it
Baby acetaminophen and Acetaminophen Dosage Chart
Diaper rash ointment
Safety gates
Cabinet and drawer latches
Door knob covers
Outlet covers
Toilet latches
Swimming pool fence, alarm or pool cover
Corner guards
Take a CPR class that includes infant resuscitation and CPR. At the very least, watch an instructional video, such as the one below:

Feeding
Ask baby’s parents what supplies and brands you need to have on hand.

Baby bottles, nipples, and rings of the type the parents use at home
Breast milk or baby formula
Bottle brush
Infant-safe spoons, cups and bowls
For an older baby: baby food that baby’s parents recommend
Two types of bibs: some for catching food and some for absorbing drool

Entertainment
I’ve been known to entertain my granddaughter with just about anything: soda bottles, empty mylar candy bags, metal tins, and red party cups. All things can create sounds and movement. However, never leave a baby unattended with any of these things! Charlotte loves music, so I downloaded lullabies and other baby songs onto my smart phone. I can play music for her wherever we are and especially when she is in her crib trying to fall asleep.

Chunky board books
Age appropriate toys
Music
Infant stimulation cards (I downloaded these for free and printed them up)

Note: This list is a work in progress. As I learn and adjust to caring for Charlotte, I’m sure this list will grow too. And of course, the needs of each grandparent and grandchild are different. Let me know if you have any suggestions of items that should be included and please share with me your child-caring experiences with your grandchildren.

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