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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Camera Critters~ The Petting Zoo

Camera Critters

Last Sunday I began a series of photos taken on a day a few weeks back at a Game Park. It was a beautiful day, and Sugar Bear was thrilled with all the opportunities to "meet" some of her favorite animals.

This week, I'd like to share some of the photos from the portion of the day where we were introduced to a variety of small animals. All the animals featured in this section were available to hold and/or pet. It was a bit crowded, which along with the strange colored Plexiglas roof, proved to make photography difficult. I was very grateful for our friend tagging along, so that she could assist the Sugar in the "meeting", while I jockied around and snapped away.

This first animal had Sugar a little weary.

She is a HUGE fan of the movie Bambi, and I have explained to her why Thumper thinks it is soooooooooo funny when Bambi calls the little skunk a flower. She is well aware of the skunks interesting defense mechanism. I am fairly certain she was just waiting for this little guy to fire off a stink bomb.

I don't know about you....but I think skunks are pretty cute.

Several years ago, before Sugar bear, I had two ferret babies. Hubby and I enjoyed our little ferret's antics, but I grew tired of the smell. After 4 years, we gave them to a friend of a friend, who in my opinion, was a bit ferret loony. Here entire day consisted of taking care of her ferrets that had complete run of her house. It was ferret heaven. This was the first and only time I have ever given up a pet, and it was extremely hard on me, but I know they loved their new home.

I was pretty excited to see this little ferret at the game park, and hoped Sugar would get a good kick out of it as well. Unfortunately......Mr. Ferret had been taking a nap, and was still pretty drowsy, so she didn't really get to enjoy the full Ferret experience. She did think he was pretty cute though.

This last little honey was a real treat to see. What a sweet little baby wallaby she was. The presenter kept her in the fleece pouch the entire time, but we still got a pretty good look at her.

Her fur was fuzzy, and her face so darn adorable.

When holding her, she found a way to tuck way down low in her pouch, for safety, so we mostly enjoyed her back feet, and tail. tee hee....Sugar didn't care. I think she would have been more than pleased to take her baby home.

Stay tuned next week for part three. All I can say is.....MEOW!

Photo Hunters~ Self

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Not too long ago a bloggy friend asked me for a photo of myself in my favorite sunglasses. Being that I am rarely in photos I had to go right home and snap some. As I went about setting up my tripod and camera, Sugar Bear asked me no less than 43 times, "whatcha doin' Mom?" I explained how I was setting up the camera to take some photos of mommy in her sunglasses, and she insisted on being in on the action.

After getting a few quick ones of myself using my handy dandy remote shutter, Sugar could no longer hold her excitement in, and insisted on trying it herself. So I let her have at it.

Then we had a little fun taking some together. We don't do this often enough. She was in charge of pressing the remote shutter, and I set up the shot, so this was a joint effort. :)

Oh, and it isn't a successful photoshoot until you say, "CHEESE!!!!"

Thank you for coming by my blog this week. I am giddy with excitement to see some of YOU! Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

This is a test......

a test of the emergency blogcast system. Ignore me.....but do read anything that catches your eye the post I wrote last night, but isn't showing up in many readers.....hmmmmm.....wonder why?????

OH and if you want to be completely and totally tarnished against the people of this planet check out the last three blog posts over at Joeprah. I love Joe's blog. He is a great blogger, and a wonderful person. He has pointed out two really awful incidents in the last few days that has me wondering....WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO????

A Few Simple Rules~ Part one

This post is a long time coming. I promised it back in.....ummmmm.....March. I have meant well, but these posts take more time than I usually allow myself to blog these days. I have been hiding behind the simplicity of posting photos instead. I have found lots of reasons to put off sitting down, and diving deep into the subject of taking the emotion out of discipline. It isn't that I don't have plenty of passion for this subject, because I most certainly do. I just find it particularly daunting to write a post I care so much about, when I don't have a lot of time to give it. I have a little problem with committing the amount of time I think something deserves.

So here we paragraph into this important post, and I haven't said a darn thing. Was this worth the wait or what? tee hee I bet you are wondering if you need a potty break before this thing really gets going or not. To be honest....I don't know yet. I'm flying by the seat of my pants here, so we'll just have to be surprised together.

This is my third....or is it detailing my parenting style. We've asked ourselves
WHY, started LISTENING to our bodies, and tuned ourselves in to our NEEDS, and EMOTIONS. Now it is time to figure out how we might work on checking our emotions at the door of discipline, and start entering the room of consistency.

Understanding and acknowledging that we, both parents and children, are extremely emotional beings, is a wonderful first step in the process of parenting. It is ludicrous to expect any of us to remain emotionless in our day to day life. Have you ever noticed that in many environments we expect others to hold back all emotions that are deemed unpleasant? Anything other than happiness, contentment, or satisfaction is just plain unacceptable. I find this especially true of expectations placed on children. If a child is expressing any emotion other than the ones that fall in the "happy go lucky" range....they are simply being difficult. Think about most situations are young children encouraged to be sad? mad? frustrated? overwhelmed? agitated? fearful? Jealous? Anxious? Greedy? Disappointed? What do you think? Any of those sound like something we encourage in children? Ummmmm no!

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating for teaching young children to strive to BE in those emotional states....I am just pointing out that these are common emotions that humans naturally feel, and we should expect that not only ourselves, but our children will at some time be experiencing them, and THAT is okay. It is learning how to properly handle these emotions that should be encouraged. It is my belief that if the parent is unable to effectively, and acceptably handle their own emotions, it is nearly impossible to expect their child to master this skill as well. Children are little sponges. They are absorbing everything you are offering, and if you are serving up a big old plate of "out of control", well then you better believe they will be digesting it.

We all know that keeping our emotions under control can be difficult day in and day out. We are tired.....and grumpy.....and overwhelmed. If we have to say, "because I said so!" one more time we might just explode. Keeping this in mind, I have discovered that laying a foundation for discipline that isn't based on emotion or mood is the best defense....or actually.....a really good offense. The best foundation to build on, in my opinion, is consistency, and consistency only works in an emotional setting if the parent is clear about the rules.

Have you ever noticed that on days when you are feeling GREAT.....the kids seem to do no wrong? Of course there are some problems sprinkled throughout the day, but on a whole, there is fun....and laughs.....and good times had by all. On the other hand, the morning you wake up feeling like you've been hit by a Mack Truck, nothing seems to go right. You spend the majority of the day breaking up fights, cleaning up messes, and wanting to scream. Some might ask....was it YOUR mood that set the tone for the day, or was it the day that set your mood? The Chicken or the Egg....the egg or the chicken???? I don't know about you, but I think it can easily go either way.

Today I'd like to focus on the effects of letting YOUR mood drive your discipline choices. This post has been mulling around in my mind for months....and months. I have a friend who often vents to me about her struggles as a parent. We talk a lot about the fact that her discipline style relies heavily on her mood. One day, it is perfectly acceptable for her child to jump on the couch. Mommy is in a great mood, the sun is shining, and the couch is ultra bouncy. The next day....Mommy has a headache, it is raining, no one got a nap, and so help me if you even think about jumping on the couch I am going unleash on you. Sound familiar? I call this style of parenting, "emotionally driven discipline." In this particular house, there are no set rules, at least none that the children are aware of, and it all depends on the mood of the parent as to what is or is not okay today. It is a hard thing to admit, but I think many of us have this form of discipline in our house to some extent. You when you child obviously just did something wrong, but you are too tired to deal with it, so you let it slide....just this one time. Or when, you are so darn frustrated, and angry that you yell at your child for simply asking, "why?", when you told them to pick up their jacket. It happens. It isn't easy keeping our emotions in check, especially when things are going wrong. Consistency often takes a back seat to exhaustion. Sometimes we just can't imagine dealing with discipline at all.

My mission is to figure out a way to take as much emotion out of the discipline as possible BEFORE an incident occurs. This is where RULES come into the picture. In my opinion rules are a necessary element in the parental tool box. Living in a house without rules can be extremely difficult,and in many cases the root of a lot of problems. I once told my friend to imagine driving through a town where all the stoplights and signs were completely different than the previous one. There was no universal traffic light system, and you had to carefully read each sign as you approached to decide if you could safely proceed. One minute green meant go...the next it meant stop. Sometimes the sign was round, and sometimes it was in the shape of a triangle. You simply had no way of knowing what any of it meant. Imagine how frustrating, or scary that would be, and how often you would be WRONG. You'd go when you shouldn't have, or stop when you were meant to go. It would be completely and utterly inefficient. Now think about how this might relate to a child living in a home with out consistent rules. They proceed through their day trying to READ the signs, but they really aren't sure when to GO or when to STOP! Imagine how often they might be WRONG, and how frustrating, or scary it might be to even proceed at all not knowing what might happen. You tell me.....Is today a jumping on the couch day or not?

When adults make, and stick to rules that are clear, simple to understand, and predictable, children feel safe and secure. Even though children might act like they want to be in charge, they really need the adults in their lives to be consistently in charge. It is the child's job to test those boundaries, and the adults job to create them, and stick with it. When rules work, you help your child feel safe, loved, and successful. You give them the base knowledge they need to safely navigate their day. In my opinion....that is a gift. The gift of knowing what to expect. The gift of knowing that it isn't about whether you are in a good mood today or NOT. It is simply about the rules. It is the rules....the family rules.

Okay appears....that I have been extremely wordy...yet again, and I have A LOT more to say on the subject, so this will have to be a two part post. Please stay tuned early next week for a further look into the importance of rules; how to make them, and how to use them effectively. Please know that these discussions are not only meant to outline my own parenting style here on my blog, but to foster some good thought, conversation and questions among any of the readers. I am in no way an expert, and what you have, and hopefully will, read are my opinions only, and I greatly respect the opinions of others. Thank you for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to share a piece of me. If at any point you have a question, or would like me to further explain something I have mentioned, please feel free to leave it in a comment or email me directly. I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday~ Eye Love Blue!

For more Wordless Wednesday go HERE and HERE!

*** oh and don't forget I'm on Top Momma! CLICK HERE!!!!! I know.....It's getting a bit old, but I am so thrilled to have lasted 4 months on there. What a blessing. Thank you all who have clicked on the link and helped me achieve this accomplishment.***

Being on the Cheap isn't always so bad! (repost)

I am reposting this for those of you that mentioned last fall when I orginally posted this, that you hoped to remember this idea for summer. I wanted to help you out! It surely isn't because I am a lazy blogger these days....nope....just me being helpful! wink wink......

It is common knowledge that I am officially "on the cheap", and I have a grave disorder I so lovingly refer to as "my fear of spending." It is a real blessing thorn in my side. It often cripples me to a point that is hard to explain. I can agonize over the simplest purchases. If you haven't read about this crazy little quirk, go right ahead and read about it. It is really something that sets me apart from EVERYONE I know. (A little update for you...I finally did purchase that DSLR and of course I am loving it. The funny tidbit is this...I purchased my camera through Amazon. I signed up for the Amazon credit card, and saved $30 off the top, then....then....I used my Amazon points to get a FREE Waffle Iron! tee hee, so don't fret....I'm no longer deprived of waffles.)

This crazy non-spendiness covers all areas of my life. Since having Sugar Bear, I am constantly eager to take hand me downs when offered, shop second hand, and often...and I mean OFTEN I choose to just MAKE her what I want her to have. Here are a few of the examples of this particular illness.

There was the "I'm not paying THAT for a Boutique Bow" phase:

The beginning of the "I'm not paying THAT for portraits" era (my photograph skills have come a LONG way, huh?):

The "I'm not paying THAT for Boutique Overalls" era:

Then to top that all off, I usually end up making these things to sell, so that I can actually MAKE money. It really gets crazy here in my little head.

This past summer, the preschool teacher in me was going crazy. I badly wanted to give Sugar Bear the sensory stimulation that a Sand and Water Table could provide. You know what I'm talking about, this little thingy. The only thing holding me back was the pesky price tag. All the ones I could find, cost at least $50, and I just couldn't justify spending that much money for something she may or may not like, and would soon outgrow. I did a lot of thinking. I picked my hubby's brain, and this little set up is the result. Not only was the price right, it is quite functional.

We purchased four clear storage totes. Two of the large ones, and two of the shallow ones. As you can see in the photos, the smaller ones fit right down into the larger ones leaving some space in the bottom.

We use one as a water table. I simply filled the shallow tote with water and added some cheap water toys. When she was done playing, we would dump the water and store the toys in the bottom of the larger tote.

We use one as a sand table. We "borrowed" some sand from the beach. We put the extra in the bottom of the larger tote, so if the sand slowly disappeared, due to a young child not quite keeping it in the container all the time, we had extra to replace it with easily. The sand toys were also stored in the bottom of the water table tote. We simply place the lid on after playing, to keep the cat from using it as a litter box.

I can not recommend this set up enough. Not only was it about $20, it can be used for storage both now and when she is no longer interested. Sugar has been playing with her sand and water tables for over 5 months now, and still loves it. If it is too short of her by next summer, we'll just put the totes up on something to lift it to the right height. Possible some wood blocks or some bricks we have laying around here.

I know this post would probably be better timed if it were sand and water table season, but I just edited these photos recently, and wanted to share our great idea. I'd love to hear what you think....go ahead leave me a little comment. wink wink...even if it is just to tell me that I am the weirdest person you know.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Camera Critters~ Peacock Park

Camera Critters

Last weekend Sugar Bear and I were accompanied by a dear friend of mine, who recently retired from my place of work, to a fairly local Wild Game Park. It was a lovely morning for a visit with the animals. We thoroughly enjoyed leading following Sugar around the park. Her excitement was infectious, and it almost helped us adults forget the sadness that usually consumes us when viewing animals in cages. For the next few Sunday's my Camera Critters posts will feature different animals from the park that day. I look forward to sharing with you a few of the special moments of the day.

This first set of photographs feature the animal of the day. The Peacock. There were so many peacocks freely wandering this place we jokingly called it Peacock Park. Sugar Bear was enamored by these creatures. Who wouldn't be? How incredibly beautiful is this?

Each time we rounded a corner and came across a male peacock, he would proudly display his feathers. The striking tail feathers stood much higher than Sugar, and I am quite certain it was a bit extraordinary from her perspective.

As a young toddler, Sugar had a small fear of three peacock feathers displayed in her Aunt Amy's bedroom. She did not like them one bit. She would hide behind my leg, and say, "I no like peacock!" This memory had me a bit worried when the very first animal to greet us to the park was a peacock, but I guess time eased her fears. She was completely taken with the amazing colors.

When looking at the full body of this bird, it really makes me wonder what the purpose of all the colors are. Any ideas why the wings are starkly different then the rest of the bird?

As much as I love the tail feathers, I have to say one of the most interesting parts of these handsome fellows is the cute little crest on the top of his head. It makes me giggle actually. It reminds me of those great hats you see women wearing to the horse races. You the ones in "My Fair Lady". Or maybe more fittingly....a Vegas Show Girl.

This post wouldn't be complete unless I mentioned how incredibly noisy these birds can be. The entire time we were at the park, you could hear at least one peacock making a horrible racket. Sugar and I thought is sounded an awful lot like a small child yelling, "HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLPPPPPPPPPP!" This was a bit disconcerting, but I was able to convince Sugar Bear that no one needed help. Unfortunately, towards the end of our visit we found the source of the nerve racking squawking and I do think.....maybe....just possibly......he was calling for help. Recently he noticed that he misplaced his pretty colors. Poor fellow!

See you next Sunday, as the story continues.

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