Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Safari Dreams

I want to return to the Kruger National Park and take my kids with me. I want to spend endless days exploring this magnificent park. Bird watching. Animal sightings. Sun ups. Sun downs. Curfews. Brai parties. Identifying spoor. The sounds and smells. The night sky with the Southern Cross. Take it all in and in and in. This park is a jewel. Forget Disney, I'll take safari.

I have been following a couple of safari bloggers to inspire my savings account. I ran across this post and couldn't take my eyes off of the video. I had to share it with my kid crew. They loved it too. The cape buffalo is underestimated by tourists. They are part of the "Big Five" for a reason after all. They are mean. They are dangerous. They are also very, very yummy and my favorite steak in the whole world.

This video is amazing. Absolutely remarkable and just plain luck to catch it on tape. It is all drama, the best kind with a surprise ending.

(I'm still trying to order Cape Buffalo steaks in the US but haven't had any success. If anyone has any tips on Cape Buffalo suppliers, please let me know. Mouth watering here.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Organizing and Inventory of Children's Clothes

My Challenge.

1. We have micro closets.

Evidently in 1924 people did not own clothes. At least not the family that built our home. Our closets dictate that we must put non-seasonal clothes in storage.

2. My short term memory.

In our town we have consignment sales twice a year and I try to purchase the bulk of my children's wardrobes at these sales. But, the sales are BEFORE the seasonal change and before I've unpacked our wardrobes for the new season. So, twice each year I "over purchase" clothing for our kids because after 6 months I've forgotten what they own. (Memory Issues!) And, um, the little monkeys won't stop growing and then they've outgrown some, or not grown enough to fit into the hand-me-downs. Whatever my problem is, I just end up over purchasing and the makes me grumpy! Grumpy because with micro closets, you can not fit in the extras and grumpy because it's a complete waste of money to have too many clothes.

3. Laundry.

Laundry for a family of 6+ can be a challenge. I can not tell you how much easier it is to do laundry if you do not have a mega wardrobe. I need to stay on topic here. Laundry tends to entice me to tangent. I love laundry. Laundry is fun. IF you don't have too many clothes. I used to hate it just so you don't think I'm a freak or something.

My Solution.

A digital inventory. I have tried written inventories in the past. They did not work for me. I would write something like 3T yellow dress, but then forget it's style/fabric or some other important detail.

What I used:
Digital Camera
Marker and Index Cards
Label Maker
Clear Plastic Boxes (clear so I can see in them and tight lids because of arachnophobia)

My daughters helped and we had a little assembly line.
First we pulled out all the summer clothes or anything outgrown into a big pile.
Second we laid an outfit on the floor with index card of size next to it. (Sometimes we had multiple sizes since I like to dress the critters in matching outfits.)
Third, we put the item in clear boxes labeled for size.

This was so quick and easy!
Finally, I organized the photos on my computer by creating folders by size. Examples: Girls 3T, Girls 4T, Mom's Summer Dresses I just click and drag the photos into the folders.

Disclaimer: OK, let me say that this is my solution for this year. I do not want to imply that I have solved this challenge once and for all. I give myself permission to later declare it an utter failure and revise. I will evaluate in the spring when we begin shopping for the summer season and unpacking/packing the closets.

Friday, October 3, 2008

More Is Caught Than Taught

Tonight I was poking around in blogland and stumbled onto this post at Shell in Your Pocket. This one really struck an emotional note for me.

More is Caught Than Taught.

I don't know where I heard this. It's been so long ago that I can't credit the phrase to anyone. Wish I could because I'd like to meet him or her again so I could beg for more pearls of wisdom!

Our children are little sponges and they just seem to absorb us. Despite my best efforts and intentions in parenting, it really boils down to what I live out in front of my children. What I live out is really what they reflect.

Shell in Your Pocket has this lovely and sweet story of how Shell lays out her daughter's clothes at night in preparation for their morning routine and how her daughter lays out the clothes for her doll. She is "catching" her mommy's parenting and love. She is reflecting her mommy and absorbing all of it.

My youngest daughter turned 5 this week and reading this story brought to mind a memory of my sweet daughter and her doll. My daughter would send her doll on foster visits. Off with an imaginary stranger (visitation worker) to a supervised visit with the doll's other daddy. Then her dolly would return and she would care for it and love it. She did all the normal dolly play....just insert foster visitations. You see, our daughter came to us at 13 months old as a foster daughter. All attempts at reunification with either birth parent failed and we were pleased and blessed to adopt her 2 years later.

I remember watching this and it would break my heart. My mind would flood with so many thoughts of which I can summarize....children should not have to go through this. I must admit that I felt both sorrow for my daughter and anger toward the adults that failed her and forced her to enter foster care.

But, somehow after reading Shell's story of her daughter and her doll clothes, I am reflecting on my daughter's story in a different light. I have read many books on parenting and adoption and have attempted to apply various parenting techniques and tips gleaned from these books with varied results. In the end, my children just seem to "absorb" me....little sponges that they are. All of it...the good and the bad. (Yikes!) Previously I thought my daughter was absorbing all the ugliness of foster care and that despite my best efforts at being purposeful in my parenting, I was failing. Wow was I wrong! She was learning to be a mommy with a heart big enough for loving on hurt children and their families. In her little girl and dolly way she was playing out the best side of foster care....she was reflecting my love.

I love her and pray she never loses her optimism and resilience! I have a brave little girl!

PS....She never did play out the "ugly".... her dolly never suffered...she just loved her when she came home from visits.
Picture of our daughter on the morning we adopted her. She received an Bitty Baby as her adoption gift from us. She's such a little mommy. She immediately stuck a bottle in her new baby's mouth!
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