on the needles

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Yet More Good News!!

Remember that nice lady I told you about that I met at the bird store? Well, it turns out she really is a nice lady! She just emailed to let me know that she has sponsored a teenage girl through Children International! I was so happy to hear about that because I know the girl, Miriam, has been waiting awhile to find a sponsor. Go on over to her blog and congratulate her on becoming a first time sponsor mom!

And in even more sponsor kid news, my daughter's class is going to be sponsoring a child as well. I cant wait to get these kids involved. I really think it will be a great experience for them. First step - fund raising. Probably a bake sale - but if anyone has any other ideas I'd love to hear them!

Oh and also - I should have mentioned this before - if anyone would like to sponsor any of the siblings of my sponsor kids please email me. In most of the cases the kids are not on Children International's website. But if you let me know, it is very easy to get you all set up. :) The kids are in the program already, just not online.

And lastly, I thought this was kind of cool. I had noticed lots of hits to my blog coming from a single source. I finally got curious enough about it too take a look and was surprised to find that it was actually a website about Pre-Raphaelite Women that is run by Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas. They included a link to my book review of May and Amy by Joceline Dimbleby. (Look under the section for Mary Casavetti Zambaco click on the link for Burne Jones' wife, models, and lovers.) If you are interested in the Pre-Raphaelites then definitely check out the website - it has lots of great links! I'm totally flattered that they included my book review. I hope that means I didn't write anything stupid. :)

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lesly's Family

Awhile back I asked Children International if they could have their field workers go around to all of my sponsor kids families to:

1. Determine if there was any Income Generating Project I could fund. Essentially this would be enabling the families to set up small businesses which would be a continuing source of income for them. I don't think every family will qualify because they will either have to have a marketable skill or a community which can support a small business.

2. Take photographs for me of my sponsor kids with their families in front of their houses. I wanted this so that I could determine which families needed the most help in obtaining new housing. (Obviously Jenny and her family who live under a bridge in Manila will top my list but I hope I can help all of my families to make at least some improvements in their housing.) I also hope that the family photos will help me recruit sponsors for any of my kids siblings that are currently lacking a sponsor.

3. I also asked Children International to determine if there were any other special needs which I could hopefully help the families with. This could be just about anything from school supplies to a bed - whatever they might urgently need.

I was really delighted when I came back from vacation to find that the first of the responses to my requests were starting to come in. Total kudos to CI and their field workers for getting things done so quickly!! Over the next weeks and months I will post about the progress of these initiatives. I'm really really excited to have the opportunity to go above and beyond just sending in my sponsorship fees every month. It's my hope that with Income Generating Projects and possibly better, safer housing my sponsor kids and their families might be able to find a way out of the poverty they live in. It's certainly worth a try!

I thought it was really fitting that the first response we got was a series of pictures of Lesly (our very first sponsor child) and her family outside their home in Guatemala.

I just adore Lesly. Her smile is just so precious!!

I love Lesly's family too! This is her father Hugo and her mother Aura. The oldest boy is Osny and the older girl is Yennifer. In the blue shirt is Lesly's younger brother Henri. Osny (12) and Henri (4) are both in the program but do not currently have sponsors. If anyone has considered sponsoring, then either of these kids would be a great choice! I know I am generalizing, but in my experience, the Guatemalan people are very friendly, happy and welcoming. They are close and loving families. And Lesly's family in particular has been just wonderful to get to know.

It looks like little Henri has Lesly's big bright smile. Aren't they just a sweet little family?

Lesly's father is a bricklayer. Their home is constructed of wood with a corrugated metal roof and a concrete floor. You can't see too much of the home in these pictures but it gives you a fair idea of what it is like. There is one bedroom and a kitchen where they cook over an open fire. (Serious kudos to Lesly's mom Aura - I doubt I could manage to cook a meal over an open fire!) They use a community faucet for water.

The family income has gone up by a third since I began sponsoring Lesly. They now have about $156.00 a month which I think is about average for the families living in poverty conditions in Lesly's area. I'm really happy that their income has gone up - CI sent me a update/report about the family recently - but I am hoping that I will also be able to help them set up an Income Generating Project soon. Hopefully I will get a letter about that in the next few weeks if the family is able to come up with any ideas for one.

I have to add that this is a perfect example of why I LOVE Children International and the concept of direct sponsorship. They are giving me all the information I need to help me to help my kids and their families. And I am able to see the progress that they make through the reports and photos that CI provides.

In an upcoming post I'll tell you about the first Income Generating Project we've set up for another one of my sponsor families. I'm so excited about it!!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Silly Puppy

She doesn't usually look this...crazy. LOL!

Thanks for the suggestions on the Hexagon Blanket - keep 'em coming!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hexagons? Help?

So I finished sewing up all of the patches for my Square Target Blanket. Yay!

Today I started laying them out to try to get a feel for what I have. After trying out many designs and not finding anything I liked I finally decided to sort the patches by color. I ended up with three piles - "crazy colors", "sort of crazy colors" and "normal colors". Not much of a system I know. :) So it looks to me like I've got the makings of one large blanket and two smaller blankets.

I think I can possibly finish the "crazy colors" blanket with just a bit more crochet with the skeins of yarn I already have.

The bummer is that I think I need to buy some more yarn in order to finish the larger blanket. :(

I felt discouraged so I put the patches aside and took a look at the hexagons. I crocheted the last one today.

This is what I've got.

Close up of some of the colors:

Here's my idea for now of the layout.

I'm not set on the order of the colors other than keeping the two dark blue stripes where they are.

Any comments are welcome because I'm not in love with this arrangement!

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Monday, August 25, 2008


You may have noticed the plural when I mentioned we had new additions to our family.

This is the other one.

Her name is Mayumi - Yumi for short - and she is a four and a half month old Japanese Chin.

How in the heck did we end up bringing home a puppy? Well, there is a long story behind that of course but I'll try to keep it short! Suffice it to say that, I let the kids convince me to go visit the local puppy store - about a week before we left for our vacation. We saw Yumi there but we were NOT getting another dog so we dutifully went home and supposedly that was that.

But, over that week I kept thinking about her. The kids kept talking about her. I kept remembering that we didn't NEED another dog, that I didn't want to buy a puppy store puppy etc etc. We went on vacation. I still kept thinking about her and the kids brought it up every now and then but I figured there was no way Yumi would still be at the puppy store when we came home. It just seemed really unlikely that no one would buy her in three weeks time. At some point during the vacation though I tried to get the idea out of my mind by deciding to leave it all up to the fates. Maybe if she was still at the store when we came home then she was meant to be our dog - if not then...oh well. I called the store a few days after we came home.

She was still there.

And now she is here. :)

She is super sweet, very smart and gets along great with the rest of our dog herd.
It's a different experience for us having a puppy. All of our other dogs were second hand and came to us as adults (except Luca who was an older puppy). They all needed to be house trained and learn their manners just like a puppy does (most of them had apparently never even climbed stairs!) - but still, a puppy is a whole 'nuther thing! Our dogs are all 4 years and up so the introduction of a youngster was potentially going to be a disaster - but so far we've really had no problem. After all, we did have many weeks to think about whether Yumi had a personality that could fit in and whether we could handle another dog. :)

Mayumi supposedly means "truly beautiful reason" in Japanese. The kids had said they wanted to name her "Beauty" but I really wanted to pick a Japanese name for her. We gave them a list of ones we liked and they chose the one that happened to mean "beauty".

So, more lucky good fortune and serendipitous happenings. Some things are meant to be I guess. :)

(But now we REALLY REALLY REALLY have no more room for any more dogs - or parrots for that matter. I'm serious. I mean it. Stop laughing.)

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

So much good fortune lately!

So many things have happened lately! So many posts to write! Knitting progress, sponsor kid news and new additions to our family are just waiting to be revealed. I will get caught up and post about it all as soon as I can manage to get photographs taken and uploaded.

So,to start off, meet Indy our new baby Senegal!

We put down a deposit - oh so many moons ago - and waited and waited and waited. Finally the Senegal babies arrived! We went to the bird store this weekend to make our choice since we were first on the list and had first pick.

Originally we were thinking we should get a boy since (hopefully) the new Senegal will live with Scooter in his big huge cage. But the only boy available was...not so nice. In general Senegal babies have a reputation for being very very frightened and timid. Well, the little boy sure was! To the point where I was starting to question if getting a Senegal was a good idea at all. The male baby bird just didn't seem to connect with us AT ALL.

Then good fortune intervened and a couple walked in who happened to be second on the list for choosing a Senegal. They were in love with the baby boy and were really dismayed to learn that we were thinking we wanted a male. So we decided to let the other couple have the boy (to the satisfaction of all concerned), and take a look at the little females. Thank goodness we did because Indy is just THE SWEETEST little girl imaginable.

As you can see, she really connected with us and was giving birdie kisses right away. (I'm sure bird + human kisses really gross out some of my readers - but I think it's sweet. :) )

Indy will be coming home in early October. I can't wait! Until then we will visit her regularly so she can get used to us.

The addition of Indy completes our small flock so I'm extremely happy that she is just so perfect for us!

And in another stroke of luck I managed to meet a new bird friend - and her humans too. :) A nice lady had emailed me a few weeks earlier asking me all about Lucy and where she could find a Pionus baby. I directed her to the bird store and she ended up choosing an ADORABLE Blue Headed Pionus baby girl that she named Violet. While we were at the bird store I mentioned the story and guess who was standing right behind me? Of course, the nice lady!

You can read all about Violet the Pionus on her new blog here.

Scooter and Lucy didn't seem to be upset with us for taking a vacation and leaving them behind. They are both acting just the same as usual. Lucky us! It can be problematical leaving your flock behind (right Mary? :) ) and most birds let you know they don't appreciate it much. I wondered how it would go since this is the first time we have gone on vacation. But everything turned out fine.

So the fates have been looking out for us and all is well in our little flock. :)

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Thursday, August 21, 2008


Back from vacation.

Still recovering from Theme Park Shock and the East Coast/West Coast Time Continuum Disturbance.

Glad to be home!


Friday, August 01, 2008

Jester's Gifts

Ok - this is the last set of sponsor kid pictures I have right now. After this I'm all caught up. :)

This is Jester. He was our first boy that we sponsored. He just turned twelve and is from the Philippines.

Jester is co-sponsored by our son. We sent him a money donation as part of my Mother's Day presents this year. His family spent the money mostly on food. The trend that I notice is that my Filipino kids usually spend most of their money on food. They are just that poor. Most of my kids in the Philippines have about $25 a month for their family income. And the Philippines has been hit hard by the global food shortages too. It makes me so sad!!

Jester is a truly special kid. He is an idealist with a big heart. I truly hope that with our support, he will be able to achieve his goals in life. I really feel like he has a lot to contribute to this world.

Jester lives with his siblings and his grandmother. His father abandoned the family and his mother has to work as a maid in a big city so she is not able to live with the family. She sends money back to the family but Jester still needs to work in order to do whatever little bit he can to contribute to the family. He does anything he can, from street vending - selling food that his Grandmother cooks (Can you imagine letting your twelve year old wander the city selling food to strangers? I worry about his safety!), to weaving ropes and carrying lumber on construction sites.

Jester is a truly amazing kid and I am humbled and proud to know him. He waited two years to find a sponsor but I feel that we are the ones who are lucky to have found him! He is an inspiration to our family.

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