WordPress For Kids

This past weekend inspired me to make a post after another long period of silence, so I’m back for a moment to share my thoughts on a class I had the pleasure of teaching at WordCamp Phoenix.

I’ve mentioned WordCamp briefly before, but I don’t know that I’ve truly explained what they are, so here is an excerpt from the WordCamp site to give you an idea on what the heck I’m talking about.

So what is a WordCamp? WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress, the free and open source personal publishing software that powers over 25 million sites on the web. WordCamps come in all different flavors, based on the local communities that produce them, but in general, WordCamps include sessions on how to use WordPress more effectively, beginning plugin and theme development, advanced techniques, security, etc. (source: http://central.wordcamp.org/about )

So now that you know that much, here we go:

Over the past two years, I have attended 12 different WordCamps.  I originally went to them to support my husband Shayne because he was presenting at them.  After 2-3 of them, I kinda fell in love with the people and the absolute passion behind the WordPress community.  Good people, brilliant minds and good times.  I began to learn more and more about WordPress, blogging and started to feel a little like a loyal part of the WordPress family.

So, fast forward to a couple of months ago when Amanda Blum–WordCamp organizer extraordinaire–contacted me about doing a presentation of my own at WordCamp Phoenix.  She asked if I would be interesting in teaching a WordPress for Kids class.  I was momentarily stunned, but she she explained it something like this, “A) You’ve been to more WordCamps than just about anyone.  B) You homeschool your children and can totally handle a room full of kids eager to learn. C) You know WordPress and you’ll be at WordCamp Phoenix anyway (Shayne was scheduled to speak at this one already).”  Amanda can be very convincing, so within a matter of minutes, I committed to teaching the class.

Fast forward again to this past weekend.  Shayne and I headed out to Phoenix on Thursday.  He taught a 7-hour WordPress for Beginners class on Friday. Saturday was packed full of sessions on all levels and the brainpower in the building was pretty incredible.  Sunday was WordPress for Kids in the morning followed by Dev/Hack day for developers & contributors.  As Sunday inched closer, my nerves kicked in.  See, I’ve got a history of being super shy and a huge tendency to blush, stutter and just generally feel like a fool speaking in front of people.  It’s just never been my thing.  However, after 2 years of observing how WordPress, being Open Source software, has become and continues to evolve into an incredible thing because of people contributing their knowledge, I realized it was time for me to buck up and get more directly involved in the WP community.

My class was held at a really, really cool co-working space in Chander, AZ (an amazing city that supported WordCamp beyond all expectations.  Very impressive city.) called Gangplank.  I arrived that morning (with Shayne by my side for moral and technical support, of course) and watched the kiddos come piling in loaded with notebooks, laptops, iPads and beautiful, eager minds.  I’ll admit that it was intimidating for a brief moment, but I went around to meet them as they came in and their blend of shyness, curiosity and excitement got me going.  I simply walked them through setting up a blog on WordPress.com.  Baby steps.  Nothing extraordinary on my end, but I got so excited to be a part of introducing these children to blogging and creating their own sites.  That’s big to me.  Exposing them to the world of WordPress might  just change what career path they take one day.  Maybe they’ll even end up being part of the team at Automattic one day!  These little ones we’re raising are the future of our internet experience, so getting them inspired early could lead to beautiful things.

Since this was the first WordCamp session targeted at children, deciding on the best way to present to a group of varying ages and WordPress experience was a bit difficult.  Now that I have that the session under my belt, I have a few ideas on how to better accommodate each child and help them get the most out of the class.  If the opportunity arises for me to teach the class again, I look forward to trying a slightly different approach.  In the meantime, I hope that the idea of having a WordPress for Kids class spreads like wildfire through the different WordCamps.

T-shirt Bracelet Tutorial

Not too long ago I spotted a really great fabric bracelet at a high end store.  Since I’m not a big jewelry wearer, I couldn’t bring myself to pay big bucks for a bracelet.  However, that bracelet popped into my mind this afternoon and it sparked a recon idea in my head.  I just gave it a whirl and while it’s nothing fancy, it’s a fun, quick project that’s perfect for a funky accessory.

The absolute simplicity of this project makes it a great summer project for a teen or pre-teen that’s trying out his or her sewing skills.  My 3-year-old daughter is begging me to make her one in ‘prettier colors’ as we speak.

Let’s get started!

Supplies:

Old t-shirts or any old piece of clothing made of knit or other stretchy fabric

Scissors

Sewing machine

So…get your t-shirt.

Cut strips of fabric, making sure the the stretch goes down the length of your strips.  You’ll want the bracelet to stretch a bit so you can easily get it on and off.

My wrist is child-like in size and measures just under 7 inches, so I made my strips about 8-8.5 inches long.  I made mine too wide to start with and ended up narrowing them to about 1 inch.  This is all very approximate.  That’s the beauty of the funky little bracelet–the more random and rough it is, the more fun it looks!  Despite the yard stick in my photos, I didn’t use it once.  Just freehanded the whole thing.  Fast and fun!

Now, simply fold the strips in half and sew, using a straight stretch stitch.

Now loosely gather the ends and stitch across them to secure them.  There’s no rhyme or reason to how I need this.  I just bunched them up and stitched across using a slightly longer stitch length to accommodate the thickness.

To close this bracelet up, you’ll want a wider, shorter strip of fabric that is something like this:

It should be wide enough to cover the end seams on the strips on both ends and long enough to overlap when wrapped loosely around the ends.  Like this:

After you’ve stitched one end into the wide strip (should look like photo above), tuck the other end of your bracelet into it and repeat.  Easy enough, right?  Here’s my bracelet:

To make it more your style, you can mix and match colors, thread on some random large beads, change up thread colors.  Just have fun!  Grab the kids and bust up that summer boredom!

Painting birdhouses

I’ve been trying to think of activities to keep the kiddos busy and away from each other’s throats while Alex is home on his spring break.  So I set them loose with some birdhouses and paints this afternoon and they really enjoyed it!  Well, Alex did.   See, Elliott cannot handle messy hands.  Hates messy hands.  As you will see, that is really an issue when paints come into play!

Everything started out okay.  She chose white paint and set to work.

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Alex opted for a beautiful shade of green.

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Everything was going smoothly until….bam!  White paint on her hand!

“MOMMY!!!!  WASH HANDS!!!!”

A wet washcloth did the trick and they went back to work.

I love alex’s “Hi, Bird!” painting!

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He was so focused!  Check out that tongue! ;)

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Elliott gave up on the washcloth and managed her stress as well as possible as she continued to work on her project.  The prospect of baby birds (baby buhds!) living in it was enough to keep her motivated despite the mess all around.  She was covered in paint and so was her newspaper!

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They put the finishing touches on…

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Then it was all business….we had serious matters to deal with!  Just look!

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I ran her a tub of water and I swear that kid had more fun working away that paint with a washcloth than she did painting the birdhouse!

Hard mommy days call for….

A big ol’ dose of In the Motherhood. These girls have me laughing so hard with every new episode that I just almost wake up those kids I worked so hard to get to sleep. It feels so good to watch them and be able to know that life as a mom is something we can step back from, take a long look at and then just laugh our asses off!

If you keep up with them, then you probably have already seen the newest episode. If you don’t….grab a glass of wine–orr a jug of milk and a package of cookies.–and sit yourself down and watch them from the very beginning. The episodes are only a few minutes long and are fantastic stress relievers for weary mommies.

www.inthemotherhood.com

Oh yeah…and it’s brought to us by Suave who I am a HUGE fan of because of their mommy-oriented commercials. Especially the one with the mother breastfeeding. Freaking fabulous. Way to go Suave!

Alex and his quirks

Alex has never been a camera ham. He avoids pictures as much as possible…especially pics of just him. Sometimes it even brings him to tears if you try to take pics! Why? Who knows. It makes me sad, really because he makes beautiful pictures! Yesterday he agreed to 2 shots:

First he had to peek around the tree…

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And the second, he was getting kisses from little sis. That makes everything okay!

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He’s such a sweet boy…gentle and kind. I wish you could know him just by seeing his pictures.