Thursday, June 23, 2011

Made with love

Next Spring my daughter will become bat mitzvah and I will present her with the tallit that I am making for her. I have spent the last two days rubberbanding fabric and carefully pouring dye to create what I hope will be a very cool tie-dye effect for her tallit. Last year when I had the chance to make a tallit for myself I knew that this summer I would make one for my daughter to wear. I have been thinking about colors for a year now, so I was ready to start on the first day of camp.

I thought I was ready, but I have been surprised at how spiritual the experience has been so far. Holding the blank fabric in my hands, I realized that less than a year from now I will be standing next to my daughter on the bimah and presenting it for her to wear. The blank canvas was full of possibility and I felt the pressure to get it right. I wanted it to be perfect for her, something that she will love and treasure and hopefully want to keep and use for many years. It took me much longer than I expected to get all the fabric rubberbanded the way I wanted -- at first I thought I had a pattern and design in mind, but I soon realized that I had to give up the pattern. Today I carefully used a spoon to pour the special sun-activated dye over the material, again thinking that I could follow a pattern.

Choosing tie-dye meant that I had to give up some control. I know it will look like a tie-dye... I think it will look cool and I like the colors I chose for her, but it is not an exact science. I won't actually know what it looks like until I remove the rubber bands and open it up tomorrow.  I am not the most artistic person and I have been known to be a bit of a control freak, so it was a good exercise for me to create something that just by the nature of the project I can't control. It was an excellent metaphor for parenting -- another creative endeavor that requires me to let go.

As I worked with the dye I was thinking about my daughter, about how proud I am of her and all the blessings she brings to my life. I was also thinking about all the blessings that I hope her future holds and imagining the day when she will wrap herself in this tallit and the blessings and love that it was created with.

Friday, June 17, 2011

My tips for packing for Summer Camp

My family and I have been going to Camp Newman for 5 summers now and we packing for camp down to a science. Here are my tips for packing for camp:

15 tips for packing for camp:

1. Make a few copies of the packing list for camp - I write each kids name on the top list and use it as a checklist, I keep one in my purse so when I am out I can look to see what I still need to buy.

2. Zip top bags - I use them for everything - shampoo in one, sunscreen in another, bug spray in a third. They also hold stationary, pens and friendship bracelet string. I write their names on the outside of the bag and what goes in it so they can find their stuff.

3. Label everything, and I mean everything.  My favorite tags are Name Bubbles and Label Daddy, but I also keep a sharpie next to me while we pack. My kids tease me about putting their names on everything, but I have seen the inside of a cabin half way through camp - stuff is everywhere, the kids just throw all their stuff together when they are in a hurry to clean up.

4. Not everything that goes to camp comes home again. One summer one of my kids left her duffle bag at camp, she brought home everything in her laundry bag instead. Don't send anything to camp that you would be heartbroken if you never see it again. I still miss that duffle bag and I'm still not sure how a kid can forget to bring that home.

5. Don't be afraid to make adjustments to the suggested packing list. Our list never includes a flashlight, but I always send one. Our list also suggests only 4 pairs of shorts for 12 days - I send 6 figuring that my kids are likely to be able to wear the same pair for 2 days, but not three. I make the same calculation with shirts and pajamas.

6. Yom Sport is color wars - send something in Red, Blue, Yellow and Green  - you never know what color they will be.

7. My girls like an organizer to hang from the bunk - there are camp ones, but any small hanging organizer works. Some clothespins are also great to send.

8. A plain pillowcase works great as an autograph memento at the end of the session. Send a sharpie to go with it and everyone in the cabin can sign.

9. Those $1 glow bracelets are fun to bring to share with the cabin.

10. I send a fitted sheet to go on the mattress under the sleeping bag. No particular reason, it is just a nice little touch of home.

11. This year my oldest packed some crazy accessories for theme nights. As kids get older groups have more theme nights and activities - don't worry if you don't know what to send - the counselors also bring things to share.

12. A small backpack. At Camp Newman they go on an overnight in tents, away from their cabin, a small backpack helps them pack for the overnight.

13. Pack lots of sunscreen. I also send a sunscreen stick to make it easier to put sunscreen on their faces. Kids will share, counselors will remind kids to apply and reapply but I try to make it as easy as possible for my kids to stay slathered in sunscreen.

14. Closed toed shoes are a must.  I love Keen toe protecting sandals, I'm sure they have saved me from a bloody foot on more than one occasion.

15. That being said, I throw in a pair of cheap flip-flops for the pool or shower or for stepping outside to hang up a towel on the clothesline. They are not an alternative to shoes, but an alternative to bare feet.

Still want more packing advice? Check out All Packed Up