Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rewind: Up the Lake


After a week of Girl Scout Camp, I was ready for some relaxing and decompressing.  Camp has this way of consuming a person, and going to the lake place up in New York was like coming up for air.

The first couple of days, we hung out with aunts and uncles and cousins.  Still in Arts and Crafts mode, I tried to inspire the girls to do watercolors of the lake.  They didn't get quite as excited about it as I'd hoped, but they humored me for a few minutes before the Lure of Swimming in the Lake was too strong.   So, I let them go, and did my own painting, which wasn't very good, but wasn't horrible either.  My 3-year-old nephew took a look at it and said, "Hey! Dat's da wake!"  So at least he could tell what it was supposed to be.  Good or bad, I really enjoyed doing it.  Very relaxing.  I can see why my dad likes painting so much.

After everyone left, there was a lot of time spent going for boat rides.  In the mornings, it was cold, so there was always a nice misty fog on the lake.  So pretty.  Kev took this picture:

Morning boat rides are my favorite.  We all got turns at rowing.

I tended to go in circles, but Daphne was very good at it.

I think Daphne's favorite thing was catching fish in the net.  She caught about five.  I think it might have been the same fish every time. 

She also enjoyed "diving" for shells with her mask and snorkel:

I think Kev's favorite thing was this:

The Dutchess County Fair was on, so we were able to get our annual 4H milkshakes, ride the Fun Slide:

 and the Ferris Wheel:

And see some llamas.  I love llamas.

 The critters back at the lake were much scarier:

Attack of the Baby Snapper

So, it was a good trip.  A mix of action-packed-ness with everyone and quiet time with Kev and Daphne.  Good friends.  Good food.  And I read a whole book. 

 And there was no foam or pipe cleaners or screamers.  The lake is good.

On Foam and Pipe Cleaners

I guess maybe I'm feeling a little bad about my rant in the previous post.  Perhaps there is something going on in the Screamer's life that I don't know about that made her behave so horribly.  In spite of having a really terrible attitude, she DID work hard, so I have to give her credit for that.  She also DID plan the entire week of camp crafts by herself, so some credit there too.  But not much.  Because it is the above "craft," modeled by Patrick the Dog, that I just can't get past.  A strip of foam, stapled together, and "embellished" with two pipe cleaners.  This is what she took the whole summer to plan.  This is what the kids took home to their parents, and quite frankly, it makes me feel really embarrassed.  As a member of the Arts and Crafts team I feel ashamed, because it reflects on all of us when one member screams at the girls and sends home, well, crap.  Oh dear.  I'm ranting again.  And the thing is, she didn't HAVE to plan the whole week of crafts by herself.  There were three other adults and 6 teen aides on the team that could have, and would have, helped.  The Girl Scout Law says "use resources wisely."  The Screamer did not. 

A little girl at camp came into the arts and crafts area for her 2nd or 3rd visit of the week, and saw all the foam and pipe cleaners on the table (again), ready to be made into the fashionable accessory above.  She looked at me sadly and said, "Are we ever going to make God's Eyes?

I just hung my head.

Anyway, that's the last I will say on the subject.  I promise.  All I can do is let it go, and strive to do a better job with my own troop.  And possibly hijack the arts and crafts center at camp next year.  And if I do, little girl, yes there WILL be God's Eyes.

Rewind: Summer Camp

The week of August 13 thru 17 is a blur.  Every morning, we woke up early and headed out to Lucketts for Girl Scout Day Camp.  Daphne was a camper, and I was a volunteer in the Arts and Crafts center.  It was the first Girl Scout Camp experience for both of us, and I'm happy to say it was a (mostly) amazing one.

Daphne and "Spirit."
Daphne started each day arriving early with me, so she was considered a "super camper."  Super campers get special privileges, like donuts in the morning and popsicles in the afternoon.  After her daily donut, she headed to the flag circle to meet up with her group of 20 Daisies for morning flag ceremony and announcements before heading off to various activities.

Waiting for Morning Flag
She got to visit me in arts and crafts, she got to go fishing, hiking, letter-boxing, and swimming, she got to try tie-dying, stencil painting t-shirts, leather working, and gimp (braiding plastic strips into bracelets, key-chains, etc), she got to learn sign language, songs, and dances, and she got to cook on a camp fire. And she got to meet a lot of great people. 

Foam and Pipe Cleaners...Sigh

On the last day, the girls traded SWAPS and signed each others' t-shirts, and I was lucky to be able to watch from the window above and get a few pictures.

I also got to take a break and go down to the pool to watch Daphne's group's "regatta" on the last day.  But more on that later.

Eyes on the Prize
Daphne was pretty sad when camp was over.  I had to practically drag her off the premises.  At the end of the day, I joined her at super camp for one last popsicle, and we took one last little walk in the woods:

Happy Camper

Daphne said she wished camp was 15 weeks long instead of one.  I'd say that means she had a pretty great time.

My experience was slightly less amazing, as working in Arts and Crafts was not exactly what I was hoping for.  The main problem was one difficult person on our crew, who was very negative and cranky, and who screamed at the girls.  Screamed.  At the girls.  At Girl Scout Camp.  It was pretty horrible and upsetting.

Also, I was disappointed that our team did not get together prior to camp to do any kind of planning, so I had no input in the crafts that were chosen or how they were organized.  The Screamer planned everything in advance, without the rest of us.  And I have to say, I was not impressed.  Most of the crafts were things made of foam sheets and pipe cleaners.  Somehow, I expected something  I mean, it's GIRL SCOUTS.  Girl Scouts existed long before foam sheets and pipe cleaners.  I thought it was a real cop-out.  And as it turned out, one of the crafts was exactly the same as one they did last year.  Ugh.  Almost everything Daphne made in arts and crafts is going to end up in our trash, and then eventually in a landfill where it will never ever biodegrade because it is made from foam sheets and pipe cleaners.  It could have been SO much better.  Girl Scout camp crafts should be keepsakes, not throw-aways.  I have so many ideas.  Maybe next year.

The one craft that WAS cool, was thrust upon our crew by one of the camp directors, much to the dismay of the Screamer, because it actually required some effort.  The girls each got to paint a wooden regatta boat, which they would race in the pool on the last day.  We actually had to set up paint tables (the horror!).  There was a lot of stomping and muttering under her breath by the Screamer, but this was a great project that the girls enjoyed and will probably actually keep.  Unfortunately, this project was also poorly planned, as no one bothered to open the kits prior to camp to notice that we were going to need to carve grooves into the bottoms of the boats to attach the rudders to the bottom.  There was quite a scramble, some tense moments, and some minor incidents involving super-glue, but we got it done.  Unfortunately, most of the boats capsized immediately upon entering the pool, but the girls didn't seem to mind.

Look Ma!  No Foam!
In spite of the less than ideal experience in arts and crafts, I am still so happy that I was able to volunteer and be part of such a fantastic camp.  All of the other volunteers were great, and it was really special for the girls.  And for me to be able to watch Daphne from the window and see her making new friends and playing and smiling and participating so full-throttle was awesome...something I will never forget.  Plus, I got to make my OWN tie-dye shirt!  Which I LOVE!

I am so ready to start my own summer camp for adults.  I just need a financial backer.  Who's in? to do something with this day.  The house isn't going to clean itself.  Pictures and tales from the lake coming soon!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Days of School by the Green Front Door

Ages 3, 4 (word), 5, & 6

Full Circle

Hello, Blog! I have missed you!  I haven't written since the night before my birthday, which seems like a million years ago.  I will say it was a really great birthday, with pancakes for breakfast (by Kev and Daphne), lots of great gifts, phone calls from friends, lunch out with my mom and dad (lobster bisque!), Batman with Kev, and even a Birthday Tree (pictured above, hand-made by Daphne).  I might be the only person to ever have a Birthday Tree to put my gifts under.  I'm a lucky girl.

Fast forward through a week of Girl Scout camp:

and a week at the lake:

and that brings us to yesterday, otherwise known as The First Day of First Grade:

We started the morning with green eggs and ham.  It looked pretty gross, but Daphne was excited about it.

Then, the traditional First Day of School Front Door Picture:

And then it was off to meet the bus:

Only we waited...and waited...and waited, but the bus never came.   Finally a bus went by, but it was the WRONG bus, and its driver hollered out the window at us, "Your bus broke down...I'll be back to get you later."  Since it was 12 minutes to the tardy bell, we decided to take the car.  So I didn't get my traditional First Day of School Getting on the Bus picture.

But I did get a Crazy Face Getting OFF the Bus picture:

Somebody loved first grade.  Hooray!

Meanwhile, I spent the morning with some awesome friends, celebrating the first day of school (aka Sweet Freedom - thanks, Emily), and - and this was a surprise to me - also celebrating the birthdays of me and three other people. There was red velvet cake from my friend Jill, and these beautiful flowers from my friend Ann:

So, it was back to my almost forgotten birthday all over again. 

Daphne's first day of school was really great.  She has a lot of friends in her class, she really likes her teacher, and she is excited to go to art, music, and PE this year.  I can't believe I have a first grader, and I might have even cried a little yesterday if there hadn't been all that craziness with the bus.  I am really proud of my cool little kid, and I hope she has a great year.

Tales from the lake and summer camp coming soon!

Friday, August 10, 2012

It Ain't Bad to be Old(er)

On this, the eve of my 44th birthday, I have been thinking.  Because I have this dilemma.  You see, the basket weaving class I want to take conflicts with my mandatory monthly Girl Scout Leader meetings.  And when I was young(er), I never in a million years would have imagined a life that involved basket weaving and Girl Scout Leadering.  While we're at it, I also love knitting and bird-watching and, apparently, Hall and Oates.  Listening to Ratt and KISS and Bauhaus and other icons of my youth is fine in small doses for nostalgia, but it always sets off my silliness detector.  Plus, it's too LOUD.  Now, I get excited about field trips to sheep farms.  I have a hard time staying awake past 9:00.  I frequently take pictures of food.  And I am on the PTA.  And I am totally OK with all of that.  The Ghost of Teenager Tara would be mortified, but I am happy.  I tried pretty hard to be cool as a teenager, but I was really just a dork all along.  The difference now, is that I KNOW I'm a dork and I embrace it completely.  So, hooray for birds and yarn and baskets and the smooth and mellow sounds of the 70s!   Hooray for the silver streak in my hair!  I am happy, relatively healthy, I have awesome friends, and the best family ever, most of my favorite people live close to me, and the ones that don't have the miracle of Skype, or visit from time to time. I am really really thankful for all of it.  So bring on the cake and ice cream and all 44 candles if you've got 'em.  I'm not getting depressed about THIS birthday.  I'll take as many as I can get.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Level 3

I am very thankful to the good people of SwimKids Swim School.  There was a time when Daphne was totally afraid to get water anywhere near her face.  Now she can't wait to go to swimming lessons, and she is so proud that she can swim.  Too bad there isn't a BikeKids Bikes with no Training Wheels School.  Oh well, one step at a time.

Meanwhile, there is this dilemma:

It is HOT outside and I don't like it.  I am so ready for fall.  I want to wear sweaters and make pumpkin bread and Guinness Beef Stew.  Let the countdown begin...

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Olympics Fever and Fun with Hall and Oates

We have Olympics Fever around here.  I love the Olympics.  Daphne seems to like them too.  I think she has been especially inspired by the swimming and the beach volleyball.  I have been inspired by Oscar Pistorius and the US Women's soccer team and all the nice teenagers with good attitudes who seem to have their acts together as humans.  They have a lot to be proud of.  I hope the world never gets itself into such a bad state that there are no more Olympics.

When we were in Ocean City, we got to watch the sun come up every morning.  We took a lot of pictures, like the one above, that reminded me of  those old TV commercials for 1970s music compilations.  The funny thing is, I LIKE a lot of those songs.  A lot.  A good friend of mine posted on Facebook recently wondering if she should be embarrassed to like Bruno Mars.  I don't know Bruno Mars, but it probably can't be as dorky as liking Hall and Oates.  Not the hand-clap-happy Hall and Oates of the 1980s, mind you, but the early stuff, like this:

Anyway, I don't think people should ever be embarrassed about their musical taste. Music is supposed to make you happy, and if it does, no apologies. Whether you like Bruno Mars, Hall and Oates, Liberace, even.
I say let your freak flag fly!
If Kev ever re-installs my iTunes, I am totally going to make myself one of these awesome Mellow Sounds of the Seventies Mix CDs. (Don't tell him, or he'll never re-install my iTunes.) Here is my track list so far...let me know if you want a copy:

1. Sara Smile (Hall and Oates)
2. How Much I Feel (Ambrosia)
3. She's Gone (Hall and Oates)
4. I Can't Tell You Why (The Eagles)
5. Rikki Don't Lose that Number (Steely Dan)
6. Superstar (The Carpenters)
7. Killing Me Softly (Roberta Flack)
8. Ain't No Sunshine (Bill Withers)
9. Silly Love Songs (Wings)
10. Fernando (ABBA)
11. Hello It's Me (Todd Rundgren)
12. Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac)

We got together with our musical friends on Saturday night, and broke out of our usual bluegrass box a little. SO much fun. We played Tainted Love, Panic (by the Smiths), and a Nirvana song that I can't remember. Looking forward to the next band practice. I may suggest some Hall and Oates! Hope you are all having a good week and enjoying these Olympic games. I am going to get going now and Google this Bruno Mars I keep hearing about...

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Ocean City - Some Final Thoughts

Ah, the beach.  As you can probably tell from the photo above, I'm not crazy about the beach.  I know, I know...everyone is supposed to LOVE the beach.  But it just isn't my thing.  I can't help it.  Give me a nice cool mountain.  Of course, I certainly WISH I loved the beach.  Then, everyone would not think I was so weird.  But I am 43 years old (for a few more days, anyway), and I don't think I'm going to change my mind.  I will never enjoy the hot hot sun, the cold cold saltwater, and having sand everywhere. 

What I DO enjoy, however, is watching how much fun Daphne has at the beach.  And I enjoyed it briefly from my nice comfy chair inside our awesome shady beach tent.  It was quite nice inside the tent, actually, like VIRTUAL beach.

In spite of not being a beachy person, I did enjoy our vacation very much.  It is not often that I can get up and watch the sun come up over the ocean while riding my bike with Kev six mornings in a row.  No sun, no sand, no saltwater.  Just peace and quiet.  And that is my idea of a vacation.  Serenity now!

Plus there was ice cream every single day.

So, thanks to Mimi and Papa for the great vacation.  It was so great to get to spend time with everyone.  I loved seeing the kids play together, and I look forward to next time we all get together.  I will be practicing my Rock Band guitar moves in the meantime. 

Next stop, Girl Scout Camp.  Lord help me.