This Blog’s Not Dead

Ok, so I didn’t actually keep blogging. Sorry about that. The thing, I wouldn’t have really known what to blog about even if I had tried.

To begin with, my nieces have both quit. The younger one never adjusted and only attended a couple more meetings before giving up, and the older one lost interest over the summer. What can you do?

As far as meetings go, before the end of last year we had a camp rep come out once to lead our girls in a wild about camp activity for a fun patch, and we did a make your own badge. The girls chose Pinterest, which turned out to be a lot of fun. They worked together to write the criteria and then fulfill it. First, they had to learn internet safety and how to use Pinterest. Second, they selected one each: a life hack, a craft, a no bake dessert, and a drink. As I recall, the dessert was an Oreo parfait, the drink was a unicorn float, the life hack was turning a glass soda bottle into a soap dispenser, and the craft I completely forget.

There was pumpkin carving.

There was a Christmas fair.

A camp-out got cancelled.

They went bowling for their end of year party.

My daughter went to summer camp for the first time. She loved it. My husband hated it. Lice were involved (picked up at a church camp, got her sent home at check-in at girl scout camp, luckily there was another week later in the summer with the same program).

We earned badges at home and finished her brownie journeys so she could get her second summit award. I think we only failed to finish 3 or 4 badges. She didn’t notice.

There was a service unit bridging ceremony and my girl went from brownie to junior, now the only one in her troop.

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We lost our third week meeting time at the school we use, so starting back in the fall we were reduced to meeting once a month on the first week. Fall product took up most of the fall, then there was a Christmas party. I honestly can’t remember if they earned anything at all other than sales rewards before the new year. I think there was social butterfly for the juniors, making friends for the brownies, for the start of a new school year?

There was an overnight council event cut short by lice, not my daughter this time, but in the troop.

There were cookie sales. Yay cookie sales. She didn’t meet her sales goal, but that’s a lesson in itself, right?

Oh! We did a world thinking day booth, then I completely blanked on the day of the event and my daughter missed it. Oops.

Seriously, I cannot figure out what else has occupied our time. I think there has been one more badge in the spring, and we just finished one of the financial awards (after cookie season, not in conjunction with…though we did use cookie earnings to work on the budgeting idea; the girls decided what to do with their new troop funds. It was like pulling teeth to get usually really opinionated girls to contribute to the discussion, though, go figure.)

And there was one overnight event that I was underwhelmed with. We watched a movie and had a single nature hike. Ok.

I think I may be forgetting a single badge or activity. It’s all been somewhere between a hot mess and perfectly adequate. My daughter is still really enjoying it, but there seems to be little to no motivation and very little learning/progress being made. I can’t complain too much, though, because I’ve been exhausted this year from stress and a boy, about to be two, who still keeps me from sleeping well. It’s only been a month and a half that it’s kinda gotten tolerable.

We’ll do badges, a journey, maybe two, this summer to keep her busy and make me feel like it’s worth the investment of time and money.

So, adequate is ok. It doesn’t all have to be spectacular. We’re still moving forward.

So why am I back today? Well, it’s been a year since I disappeared. Look at my last post for a clue about what prompted my return and what I’ll be writing about tomorrow.

Easter Egg Dyeing: Year 2

If last years theme was ways to tie dye eggs, this years theme is experimenting with dye. My daughter even decided to keep a journal of the results.

We started out with a ubiquitous PAAS egg dyeing kit. I let her choose her three colors and then choose three from what was left. (our kit contained nine color tabs.)

Word of advice, when planning to dye eggs, make sure you have white vinegar on hand. I did not, and we did not. However, in gathering methods, I found an explanation of why we needed the vinegar. I had never thought about it before, but one gentleman who dislikes the smell experimented with quantities until discovering the optimum pH level desired for egg dyes. So, since we had apple cider vinegar, I looked up the acidity as compared to white vinegar and, it being half as acidic, I doubled the amount and we were just fine.

It being an experiment in dye sources, we didn’t do anything fancy, only dunked a whole egg in one color.

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my daughter’s eggs are on the left, mine are on the right

Then, because solid eggs aren’t all that much fun, we’re also going to add something different to each type. This week we added glitter.

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my daughter’s are in the front, mine are in the back

She started with random and messy on the pink egg while I started with swirls on the orange. She she did zigzags and polka dots on the red, and her zigzag gave me the idea of making the yellow egg a Charlie Brown egg. She finished with a large band around her teal egg, and I opted for half-covered on the slant for the blue.

After a while I plan on coating them with a clear acrylic sealer to contain the glitter, but I forgot to pick some up while at the store, so that will have to wait.

I think PAAS has changed their formula over the years, because I don’t remember them turning out this well, but it’s been a long time since I’ve used them, so I can’t be sure. Also, I wonder if hollowing out the eggs first has anything to do with it. Surely not.

 

P.S. I bought the PAAS set at the store.

Oh Drama

So the troop drama continues. According to our Service Unit manager, we were never forgotten; my coleader never responded to her. Okay, well, whatever. My coleader quit anyway and took her three kids and three neighbor kids with her anyway. Go figure. I’ll never know what happened, I guess.

We have been adopted by my SU leader’s multilevel troop so my girls get to stay together. yay, but one of my nieces doesn’t handle change or new people well, ouch. Well, we’ve been to one meeting she didn’t like, but the other niece and my daughter both have made new friends already, yay, so hopefully she will adapt soon. It was a rough meeting for new girls anyway, they were finishing up cookie business and financial badges. This week will be something new, so it should be better.

Even if I’m not planning and running meetings anymore I’ll still chronicle the troop activities here since this is about troop ideas and not showing off or taking credit.

**sigh** I just want it to run smoothly again…

Hey, it could happen to you…

Well, this year has been a banner year for girl scouts. At least for us. Can you sense the sarcasm? Communication between troop leaders is good, and we get along fine, but people keep getting sick or having family emergencies. We’ve met half the times we should have and had half the troop there, but at least it was a different cross section of girls each time?

Yeah, that and we pretty much missed the boat on cookies this year, but that one we blame on our council basically forgetting we exist and making no effort to involve our troop and make sure the new folks have a clue what’s going on or coming up. I have yet to attend a council meeting, still unclear when they happen or where.

At least our girls are busy enough that they don’t seem to mind too much…

Anyway, given our stop and go meeting schedule, I’ll make an end of journey post to sum up how we made it through.

Talk about disheartened…

The Girl Scout Way

The good news? Troop communication issues have been resolved. One leader quit, and the only reason I hadn’t heard from the other was that she had been out of town on a trip that had been planned well in advanced. She had trusted her coleader to take over for the week. A meeting was cancelled; a leader walked away. I’m now officially the coleader.

The bad news? There isn’t any! At least, not for the troop. I was in a car wreck last night, but that’s not a troop matter.

Before the wreck, we had a very good troop meeting and earned the Girl Scout Way badge for all the girls. It’s an easy badge to earn across multiple levels as the requirements are all the same.

Our first, get to know you meeting was a Girl Scout birthday party, so there was one step right there, step two, I think.

We started the meeting by learning the Girl Scout salute and making the Girl Scout Promise. It’s a very important tradition, part of the final step.

The we moved on to silly songs. We all shared the titles of our favorites, then one of the girls, the only one brave enough to go first, sang hers. After that, I taught them make new friends, and they had completed the first step.

Enough talking, really, for our girls, even if some of the talking was singing. I’d been standing in front of them quite long enough, so it was time for a craft.

The plan was to make bracelets. I bought pony beads and baker’s twine from the dollar tree. While leaders were cutting length of twine and was tying off a loop in the middle, I had girls passing out ten beads to every girl. I used the daisy petal colors to represent the law. The packs I bought only had a lavender, no dark purple, so I subbed a dark blue for that one.

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To start, you fold the twine in half and tie off a loop large enough to fit over a bead. Slipping the loop over a pencil helps keep the bracelet steady as you string the beads, especially if you held the pencil between your knees. As you string the beads, this is what it will look like.

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Separate the two strings hanging from the pencil and slide one end through the bead.

Fold the string around the bead and pinch the two ends together so that the opening is clear.

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Feed the other string end through the bead going in the opposite direction as the first so that if you pull both ends, the bead slides up the bracelet into place, against the loop or the last bead.

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Then tie half of a knot to hold the bead in place while you string the next one.

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String the first nine beads in order. Once you have the pink bead in place, for make the world a better place, measure the left over string around you write. Slide both strings through the loop you know where to tie off the light purple bead. Keeping the string pinched just below the loop, pull it off your wrist and tie a single knot, like you did to make the loop, so that it lands where you have it pinched, just pull the ends all the way through. String the light purple bead up against this knot the same way you strung all the other, except instead of tying half a knot next to it, tie it off securely and trim the excess.

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Now you have a bracelet. The purple bead, sister to every girl scout, slips through the loop to keep the bracelet on. Just like your girl scout sisters help you keep the law.

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I prefer this to other traditional camp style friendship bracelets because you can take it off and wear it when you want, rather than wearing it once until it breaks or you cut it off.

That was the plan. Our strings were cut a little short, so the girls put the purple bead up against the pink one, tied it off, and called it a key chain. It worked, and they all said they could hang them from their backpacks.

This not only reviewed the law for the girls, but it satisfied the third badge requirement, celebrate sisterhood. So that’s one, sing; two, celebrate the birthday; three, celebrate sisterhood; and five, enjoy traditions.

I had some girls pass out the snack, and while they did that, we moved on to the next activity. To take traditions a step further and organize meetings a little better, we set up a caper chart.

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I glued the ribbon from the bunting to the depth of the pan, starting halfway up one side, all the way around, and halfway back up the other so that there is plenty of glue and string to hold the weight of the pan and chart.

I had prepared a chart before the meeting by gluing bunting to a pizza pan, both from the dollar store, and just left the spots empty, and reviewed what  I had girls help me with throughout the meeting. I also mentioned that we would need to start taking attendance and collecting dues. Together, we made a list of capers to fill in the blanks. They came up with:

  1. take attendance
  2. collect dues
  3. lead the opening promise
  4. pass out art supplies
  5. pass out snacks
  6. lead the closing
  7. odd jobs
  8. clean up

Once we had the list, I passed out foam gift tags, also from the dollar store, and cut them in half so they’d fit the chart better. They all wrote their names on their tags and affixed a piece of magnetic strip to the back.

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It’s a little crunched from the accident, but it’ll be ok.

I had planned to rotate the name each meeting, but they have opted to randomly pull from a bag each week, so we’ll see how that goes. Girl led, right?

We closed with a friendship, singing the second verse of make new friends before spinning out of the circle.

It was a good meeting and we all had fun. It’s going to be a good year.

New Year, New Troop

That’s the pattern so far, and it still holds. Yay us. At least this time it’s because we moved out of state. Pretty good reason for a new troop, don’t you think?

The subject of this post? TELL ME IT ISN’T JUST ME or, alternately, YOU AREN’T THE ONLY ONE

So…I’m not sure how I feel about our experiences yet. Without wanting to be too hard on Girl Scouts, or any subdivision there of, communication really seems to be a struggle everywhere we go. I came to town fully ready to be a troop leader again, desperate to avoid another span of inactivity due to troop shortage. It was incredibly difficult to get word about anything. At first they seemed rather excited to have a parent so eager to volunteer. Then I heard nothing. Pushing, I found out they were waiting to see how recruitment would go. Would have been nice to know that. I really wanted to get started early enough to do fall product sales, which, if you ask me, is way to close to the beginning of the scout year to really do effectively, but, there you have it. They were ecstatic to have someone who not only was eager to volunteer but was desperate to jump in. Miscommunication regarding recruitment event location, barely finding another event in time to go (found while attempting to figure out what happened to the missed event), talk of only needing a coleader, no more talk at all, and voila, communication from my daughter’s troop leader about meetings!

What’s that? My daughter has a troop leader and it isn’t me? That would have been nice to know.  It’s a multi-level troop, as well, so I’m guessing they just never found me a co-leader? Again, would have been nice to know. I mean, with a multi-level, they could have put me in touch with the leaders, three are better than two when several grades are involved, right? Fine, at least we have a troop this year. Better late than never.

The leaders seem great. They’re new, willing to listen to my compulsive talking about my own learning experience and tidbits of advice they had barely said they would appreciate. That alone earns them points. I mean, obvious annoyance or even a “would you please just shut up and go sit down with the other moms,” would have not been entirely uncalled for. That said, and with full understanding of busy lives, man do I understand busy lives, once you tell me to consider myself a third leader, I’d at least like to be kept in the loop about upcoming troop meeting plans. I’m I asking too much? Maybe?

Anyway, it’s a slow start, too. First and third Thursday meetings, starting the third Thursday of a month with five Thursday and a last minute cancellation of the following first, and I have an upset niece who’s eager to dive in. Now, this I get. It was a late start, they had to finish training an all that, and starting on a week that would be followed by three off instead of two makes sense because you just want to get going rather than waiting another month. Thank you! I love the thought and wholly on board. The cancelled meeting I completely understand as well, no explanation needed, your personal life is your personal life and unexpected obligations come up. That’s just the way it is. My niece’s understandable frustration is not your fault, nor your responsibility. However, it is real and valid as well.

So, now here’s my plan:

  1. Make sure I haven’t missed anything myself that is contributing to the problem
  2. Track down the council meetings so I can get involved and hope to improve communication
  3. Give the busy ladies I’ve only met once the benefit of the doubt and try to get to know them better. I don’t even know how long they’ve known each other or how much they communicated with each other about the next meeting.
  4. See where I actually fit in troop leadership and step back if that works best for everyone.
  5. Organize Girl Scout stuff for my daughter and my two nieces, a fourth and fifth grade junior respectively, who have joined in the scouting journey this year. Just supplemental stuff to keep them active and interested in the off weeks.

End of Year Court of Awards

So, I have a really good excuse for this post being so late, as opposed to all those other times I just failed to write up the meeting. I had a baby on June 4, and our end of year meeting was on the 1, so there you go.

It was a simple affair, really, held in our usual meeting place. We had a veggie dip platter to finish up our snacks badge, made baking soda air fresheners to finish up our household elf badge, and then we had our court of awards.

I used a very simple idea I gathered from the Pinterest conglomerate: a ribbon with the badges attached.

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Each girl had a ribbon with all their earned awards. The journey patches are on one side, the skill badges on the other, and the “fun patches” are on the name badge itself. I also printed out little brownie elves to decorate the name badge a bit. (As you can see, my daughter earned a few council’s own badges as well, which are worn on the back with the fun patches, so her name tag is particularly crowded.) This not only prevented the patches from climbing up around the girls’ necks, but was a handy way of letting moms know where they go on the uniform once they get home without requiring a print out.

Now, not every girl made it to every meeting, so some of them were missing requirements for this badge or that, so I made up personalized badge requirement sheets that only have the steps they missed included. That way, they can finish up over the summer if they so desire.

And that’s it for our year. There are a few personal achievements I might take my daughter through over the summer, like the “My Promise My Faith” pin, or the Brownie Safety pin. It depends on what she wants to do. I’m telling you, nothing has helped me conquer my tendency to be a tad over-controlling concerning my daughter’s choices than Girl Scouts.