Friday, April 20, 2012

Cub Scouts

I was in Girl Scouts as a girl, well, Brownies actually, for just one year.  I had fun, but I mostly remember wearing brown and doing a lot of crafts.  When we had our first son and my husband declared he would be a Cub Scout I had no idea what that entailed.  But since we had only been married a few years I dutifully said, "yes, dear".

When first grade rolled around it was time to find a pack.  I really was quite unsure how to do that.  I asked around church and the soccer fields.  I discovered that you usually join the pack affiliated with your school, but not all the schools in our area have packs assigned to them.  We were entirely unsure which pack to join, so ultimately we joined the pack where we had the most friends.  Our reasoning was that we would be spending the next 9 years with this pack (since we have 3 sons) and knowing someone who can help with carpool and enjoy all of the upcoming camping trips will make the whole experience worthwhile.

I was pretty naive our first year of scouts.  I was blindly following along and showing up for every event that our pack hosted.  We have a very large and very active pack, so it seemed every month we were hiking, picking up trash, etc.

We are on the tail-end of my eldest son's Wolf year and in the fall our second son will become a Tiger.  I have learned quite a bit about scouting.  Enough that next year I will be the Tiger Leader for our pack.

1. Search for a pack at the end of the Kindergarten year.  A lot of packs have activities over the summer. You don't want to miss out on all those fun activities, new friends and new patches.

2. Buy your Tiger book over the summer and get cranking.  I have found that we fulfill a lot of the scouting requirements just in our everyday lives.  But by familiarizing myself with the book over the summer I can better guide our activities to ensure all the requirements are met.

3.  Familiarize yourself with the available belt loops.  I am proud to say my son has 22 belt loops after 2 years of scouting.  Most of the belt loops are easily attained with a little planning.  The majority of his belt loops were earned with activities we normally would have done as a family.  The scouting program simply gives us a focus.

4.  Volunteer.  Your child will get out of scouting only what you put into it.  There are many positions with varying amounts of commitment required.  You can be the snack parent, in charge of finances, Awards, and a Den leader (which hopefully isn't as scary as it sounds). If a long time commitment is too burdensome you can volunteer to organize one of the monthly events or a single-game at one of the pack meetings.

To find a pack near you go to:  https://beascout.scouting.org/BeAScoutMap.aspx




AYSO Sign Ups

We have been playing soccer with AYSO Region 88 for a few years now.  If you count up all the kids and separate seasons I think it numbers about a dozen seasons.  Our first time at sign ups was a nightmare.  But I think it was mostly because I was unprepared.  I mean, who knew you would need a birth certificate for a 4 year old to play soccer.  Well I know now.  This year I was ready.  I was organized.  I pre-registered in February and I showed up at 9 am at Rosemont Junior High to sign up all three kids for soccer.  I had forms, a checkbook and a birth certificate (you only need one the first year they play).

I was pleasantly surprised to see the Girls U19 soccer team set up on the grass outside of Rosemont with not only a bake sale, but soccer balls and small goals.  They encouraged me to leave the children outside with them while I went in *alone* to sign up.  Um,  Yes Please!

I stood in a very short line, quietly, with no one tugging on me or fighting.  I quickly signed up the three children, wrote my check and left, all within 10 minutes.  The children were sad to leave their little soccer clinic so I plied them with cookies.  It was the easiest sign up I have ever done.

If you still haven't signed up for soccer go to Rosemont Junior High this Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm.   Be sure to go to AYSO88.org before and print all the necessary forms.  Hopefully the U19 girls will be there with cookies and soccer balls.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Privacy for our Children

Since Caskey works for Google we have been very strict about the children using the internet age-appropriately.  None of my children have Google+ or Facebook pages because they are not legally allowed to do so.  Quite frankly we have steered clear of social media for the children for a number of reasons; cyber bullying being one of them.

Its not that I want my children to be computer-illiterate, quite the opposite.  We encourage the children to learn touch typing, email family members, and use complicated digital devices like GoogleTV and Kindles.  They manage just fine.  But releasing them out into the big bad internet world where I can't "overhear" their conversations.

I don't just worry about the affect social media will have on them now, but in the future.  Potential employers have implemented policies on Googling candidates as part of the interview process.  Any information they put on the internet will represent them and follow them, the internet has a long and unforgiving memory.  I don't want their poorly thought out escapades of the teen years to come back and haunt them as they apply for college or their first job.

Its hard to believe that my children already have a Facebook presence, despite the fact that they don't have an account or even access to Facebook.  I have told anecdotes about Student of the Month, shared pictures of being dressed up for holidays.  In addition other family members and friends post stories of my children and pictures.  We are flying by the seat of our pants in this new age and a new protocol needs to be created for sharing images and stories of ones children.   When is it okay to post pictures of a play date with a friend?  Do I need to ask the friend's mother first?  Do we ask the child?  This is a whole new territory and simply uploading pictures and stories isn't a one time event, the internet remembers.  What kind of affect will this have on the child's future?

Perhaps I need to take down my blog when the children reach the teenage years, maybe before.  I don't think I want potential babysitters stumbling upon stories of childish antics.  Keeping my blog active to connect with far away friends and family is necessary, but so is respecting my child's internet privacy.  Finding the middle ground is quite the challenge.

Fundraisers

I hate fundraisers.  I said it.  I don't feel badly at all.  I acknowledge the need for fundraising.  I contribute in fundraisers and I know that fundraising efforts done (by our school specifically) have improved my children's education.  I am grateful for the opportunities it provides and I look forward to more.

But we are doing it wrong.  We as a society are doing it wrong.  Fundraising is less about raising money and more about the event.  We are having walks and runs in the name of awareness and cure.  We get totes, t-shirts and keychains to tell the world "I made a difference".  But the reality is only a portion of the profit goes to the charity in question; much more of the money is spent on paying a corporation to organize the walk, pay for the t-shirts and materials.

As a Girl Scout mom I have discovered the same thing when selling Girl Scout Cookies.  A very small portion actually goes back to my daughter's troop.  I wonder why we are spending so many hours selling cookies to get back less than $1 per box sold.

I personally have opted to donate directly to the school.  I no longer participate in Dine Out nights where just 20% of my total bill goes to the school.  Instead I donate at the beginning of the school year when I know the school will keep 100% of the money.

The most recent incarnation of these fundraisers are carnivals.  Not only are they outrageously expensive, but they are simply unattainable to our family.  The price is $20 for an unlimited wrist band per person.  I have 4 children that will want to play games, plus food.  We will top out at $100 for 3 hours of fun.  That's quite a chunk of change.  I know that $100 of that money will not be kept for the organization, because I know how many trinkets and lollipops we end up with at the end of the day.  I wonder what the actual profit is?

I would really like for organizations to just ask for money; no more trinkets, incentives, or selling.  Think of how much more money the organization would retain and how much less I would have to spend.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Watch Out

I have gotten back on the exercise bandwagon recently and Mindy has been kind enough to work out with me, kind of like a personal trainer.  She really pushes me.  Recently, after a particularly rough work out, I was complaining in the car, "Ugh, Mindy really kicked my ass.".

Alexander piped up from the back seat.  "I hate Mindy".  I was quite surprised as they are very close friends of ours and we spend quite a bit of time with their family.  I asked him why.  "Because she kicked your ass, Mommy"

You better watch out, Mindy.  Apparently I have back-up!