Juggling Balls

I do not know how to juggle. In this I apparently fail a classic geek test; reportedly a very large percentage of programmers can juggle.

However, I recently decided that it might be time to learn. This was spurred mainly by the days I spend at the Village Free School with the kids. The space is about half baby proofed, so I can’t exactly let Mica wander unattended, especially at her current stage (mobility: 100%; danger awareness: 10%). I end up with large blocks of time simply watching the baby, and that gets boring quickly. Boredom, as I learned long ago in school, is death to any endeavor.

What to do, though? I need something that occupies me without completely absorbing my attention and vision, so obvious things like reading, writing, and drawing are tricky. But tossing a ball, while keeping one eye on the baby? That’s proven distinctly possible.


Then I discovered (thank you, Google!) that you can make your own juggling balls, each one a simple construction of 1/2 cup of bird seed and three balloons, and the idea became irresistible. Last week I took the materials to school (with lots of extras, just in case any of the students wanted to partake as well) and sat down outside to make a few juggling balls. I briefly became immensely popular — not because there was much fascination with making the balls, but because I had balloons. Over the course of the day I must have distributed forty balloons, and the energy level of the school went up noticeably.

But now I have my juggling balls, including some extras (because I know how object attrition works around here), and am (intermittently) working on learning to use them. Perhaps by the end of the year I’ll be able to keep them in the air..?

Posted in Making. 3 Comments »

Baby Rage

I hear there are books out there where you’re supposed to record your baby’s milestones: their first word, first step, first smile, etc. I’ve never actually perused one, but I wonder if they include some other firsts: first time deliberately running away when called, for example. Or first time hiding the evidence. Or first rage.

That last may seem a bit pointless, but over time and children we’ve learned to recognize some of the differences in baby cries, and I don’t think young babies experience rage in the same way as older children. Oh, they hate things — I need only remind myself of our most recent 4th of July to be certain of that. But until recently Mica hasn’t seemed to take things personally. The actions of other people have caused her to protest in much the same way as the actions of gravity have. Gravity, by the way, can be a real jerk to babies.

But just recently she’s made that mental leap, which I think — though to be fair, I have no direct access to her brain — is one of realizing that other people make deliberate choices. So when I take the cup of water away from her, just before she completes her task of spilling it on the floor, I am not an inexorable force of nature but a person making a choice. I could be making the kind and rational choice to allow her to play with the water (again); but I’m instead making the cruel and arbitrary choice of curtailing her fun.

Hence, rage.

Rage is not the same as a tantrum but closely related, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Mica has recently thrown herself to the ground in tears several times. I don’t believe this is for effect — she isn’t that advanced — but I imagine it could easily become so if it didn’t make Dave and me laugh so hard every time.

Posted in Kids. 1 Comment »

A Backpack For Ryan

I’ve had kids’ backpacks on my mental sewing list for some time. Nathan has one that I made a long time ago from an old pair of Dave’s jeans, and I still like it, but it was definitively figure-out-as-I-go and there are some things I could have done better. And now that we’re going to Free School two days a week again, I’d like to pack their lunches in backpacks rather than the much less convenient bags I made last year.


For this project I turned to By Annie, because I’ve had awesome luck with using their foam instead of batting to give body to bags. Also they have lots of patterns on their site, including one for a mini backpack.

Yes, using a pattern has some advantages. His backpack has pockets in front, pockets in back, and pockets inside — some zippered, some not, one with little credit card sized slots. The whole thing is sturdy and compact and (he agrees with me) pretty cool looking, especially since he got to choose the fabrics.

And now it’s time to work on Nathan’s…