The Maternal Instinct in Nature is Unbendingly Strong

Lioness with young lion cubs

It’s high time we get some good news about competing groups working together for  the common good. Leave it to the wild kingdom to show us the way…

Recently, the Washington Post reported on the first recorded sighting of a lioness nursing a presumably abandoned or lost tiny leopard cub. Click on the link to see  some adorable photos.

According to the article, the lioness, living in the Serengeti, had been wearing a GPS tracker for a study on lion behaviors and one of the researchers caught a glimpse of the leopard nursing. This is so unusual because, since lions and leopards are competitors for the same prey, they generally are not generous about letting vulnerable members of the other group survive. The conjecture here is that in this case, hormonal urges overcame all others when the lactating lioness saw the motherless leopard.

In another fascinating Washington Post  article, the history of interspecies nursing is traced. There are stories of goats nursing human babies (reason: the nipples are close to the same size!), and women nursing orphaned baby animals. Some people believed that the babies would take on  the character traits of the animal nursing it, so generally stayed clear of pigs, but approved of donkeys, according to the article.

And of course, humans happily drink cow’s milk, which is crossing species, though most of us would draw the line at suckling on the cow. Of course, we have many options now, both as infants and as adults. But centuries ago, when it often meant a matter of life and death, needs were met however they could be.


Sew This Easy Gift Bag for Toy Donations This Holiday Season

The winter holiday season is a difficult time for hospitalized children and their families. It can be a time fraught with stress and anxiety and disappointment in not having everyone healthy and  at home.

Knowing this, many organizations gather gifts for the hospitalized children, to help bring joy to  the season.

My friend, Laurie, and the others  who work at the same quilt shop designate a 2-hour period and sew as many of these simple gift bags as possible.  They give them to Children’s Hospital for the staff  to hand out gifts. I timed Laurie to make sure this was as simple as it seemed. Laurie is an expert sewer but the sewing requirements are very rudimentary. She finished from beginning to end in 35 minutes with plenty of time to chat while working.

I also took photos of  each step and  will lead you through step by  step. You will want to have access to a sewing machine for this project.


First off, choose colorful fabric. You need a yard for each bag. Do not remove the selvedge. I chose Christmasy fabric, but one thing is certain, you  will find fabric you love at any quilting or fabric store. Buy a wheel of grosgrain ribbon for the drawstring.

Turn under the top edge 1/2 inch and press. Also do the same down a few inches on each side.

Then turn the top under another 1-1.5 inches and press. This  will be the tunnel for the drawstring. Stitch across close to the folded edge to make the tunnel. Backstitch a little at the beginning and the end.

Fold the fabric in half, right sides together. Stitch the bottom together 1/2 inch from the bottom. Then sew up the side, encasing the selvedge if you have it.

Turn the bag right side out and cut 2 yards of the  ribbon.

Use a drawstring threader or large safety pin  to run the ribbon through the tunnel. Knot the ends  of the ribbon.

And, voilà, gift bag finished!


Knit Your Own Infant Cap. Make a Few More and Donate Them to a NICU!

Newborns often have difficulty regulating their body temperature right after birth. Most hospitals recommend skin-to-skin, or kangaroo, care, in which the naked baby (with diaper) is place on her mother’s bare chest, between the

breasts, with the baby’s head turned to the side. They are then both covered with a light receiving blanket or cover. Mothers should not fall asleep while doing skin-to-skin, so I always suggest having someone else in the room who is planning to stay awake and alert.

But things can be a little more difficult for babies in the NICU. While in many cases, the infants are still encouraged to be held skin-to skin, there are some instances when that contact is limited or delayed because of medical care.

The staff will make sure  your baby is kept warm and monitored and  will put a

cap on your infant. We’ve all seen those cute little blue and pink  striped stocking caps the hospital gives you.

But if your baby has  a protracted stay in the NICU, or  you just want an individualized look, or maybe your baby is born in winter so you need a cap for outings, you might want to knit your own (or ask someone to do it for you!). And you (or your friend) might have so much fun doing it, you want to knit a few more to donate to your nearby NICU. A cap  you donate is given to a baby who takes it home at discharge time.

My neighbor, Maire, knit  these caps using multicolored yarn. She is donating them to our local hospital.

Of course, because it is a NICU, it’s important to follow specific guidelines. Maire used the pattern and instructions (“the infant cap”) at You do have to join but it’s free.  There is a $4 download fee for the pattern.

I am not a knitter but am assured it is not a difficult pattern at all.

Maire suggests, if you are planning to donate them, calling the NICU you are planning to donate  to and get any specific guidelines they have, especially about yarn type and washing before you start.