Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cleaning House

There is a recurring theme here, as I work through the past week's events...

Last Saturday, Rylan went through promotions and earned her blue belt.

A warm up round of jumping jacks

Star block set
Blue belt!  I love the confidence showing here... When she was started last November, she was afraid to look her instructors in the eye.  This makes me very happy to see!

Here is a short video of our Rylan, along with the other Rylan (love it that there is another Rylan  - it is such an unusual name to begin with - and to have a classmate with the same name is just plain hilarious in my book)  doing the Tiger Set #2 with their instructor, Mr. Baptista.  The other Rylan then went on to do Tiger Set #3 on his own.  He was the highest ranked belt in this current promotions, and our Rylan is just one belt below him.  I think Rylan is only just beginning to learn Tiger Set #3 - and there are only nine weeks between promotions - I'm anxious to see if she will learn it in time...

Rylan's grandparents, (my dad and stepmom) attended the promotions - this was their first time seeing Rylan doing karate.  They loved seeing all the little kids in their outfits and they were very impressed with how long they could stand still, at attention.  (quite frankly, so am I!).  It was great to have them there.  Afterwards we went to walk around a sidewalk chalk art show that was going on across the street from the academy.

This square was just one of about 70 that various local artists were creating as part of a fund raiser for a safehouse.  There was some amazing stuff - I wish I had taken more pictures.  :(

On Sunday afternoon, our Girl Scout troop held a fall picnic and beginning of the year ceremony, including Rylan's Daisy Troop Investiture Ceremony.  I am the Daisy Troop Leader, and I can say, without a doubt, I have no idea what I am doing.  I just wing it.  I am trying to invest myself emotionally in this, but it is not working.  I have spent untold hours trying to make sense of the Girl Scout website and the program... but I am just lost as to what the end goal really is.  This is where Boy Scouts really shines for me - they know what they are doing.  I just can't really understand what the GS leadership is thinking here  - and they have had 100 years to figure it out.  I read about tremendous frustration on the GS message boards every day - so much that it is dragging me down and feeding my negative vibe here...  The bottom line is that if this is the way to bring Rylan together with other little girls - then in that respect, it is working.  Our group of girls is wonderful.  They are inquisitive, respectful and cheerful.  I just feel so much like a fish out of water with all of this, I hope I am not doing them an injustice by being so aloof.  Anyway... I digress.  Here is a photo.  Dean was running the camera during the ceremony, while I was bumbling my way through, pinning the Daisy pins on the girls and distributing patches.  I wish I had more pics to share, but they all contain a lot of other girls, and that requires a lot of parent permissions, so I am not messing with it.

We also had the girls do a flag ceremony.  Apparently this was the first time the troop has ever done that.  I had asked the other two leaders (Brownies and Juniors) during a planning session how they did the flag ceremony, and I got blank stares. (no, I am not indicating that my fellow leaders are in anyway negligent - it just had never been done before)  See, that is the thing about the Girl Scouts organization.  There is none!  The whole entity is just this feel-goody nebula of ideas for activities that girls could do, if they felt so inclined.  Here is what bothers me deeply.  See that American flag patch on Rylan's vest up there?  The Girl Scouts organization indicates that the patch is a required emblem.  Well of course, they do - they are a patriotic organization.  Why, in the second line of the Girl Scout Promise it reads : To serve God and my country.  If that is the case, why are there no clear and defined guidelines for proper flag ceremony procedure for the organization?  Sure, there is a loosely detailed run down on the GS website - complete with what to say, but here is the kicker.  It is listed as *optional*.  There is no *optional* when it comes to this.  If you are nationally organized patriotic entity, a flag ceremony should not be optional, it should be required.  Major fail, Girl Scouts.  I'm not some patriotic fanatic - but I have been to enough Boy Scout events to know that they take their flag ceremonies very seriously, and it is eternally shameful that the Girl Scout are all *whatever* about it. 

Long story short, we did one.  We took our awesomely huge flag that hangs on our house, and Dean rigged a pole and stand with stuff he found in the basement.  The extension pole from our paint roller, some PVC pipe and a patio furniture umbrella stand were used.  The beautiful thing is is that it worked.  The older scouts were excited to do the ceremony, and they did a pretty good job for only getting the instructions on how to do it about five minutes before we began.  My biggest fear is that they would forget what they were doing and accidentally drag the flag on the ground.  That would be bad.  But, nope - they did great.  I was also a bit pushy about doing a flag ceremony because our picnic fell on the date of 9-11, and it would be a shame if we skipped it.  As an afterthought - I really need to make it a priority to teach Rylan the Pledge of Allegiance.  There are just some procedural things in life that you never think about when you homeschool.  Saying the pledge is one of them.  Teaching the kids their phone number and address is another.  And fire safety.  And self-protection. (stranger danger).  I need to get on the ball with some of this stuff.

The rest of the week is a bit of a blur.  I spent a good deal of time cleaning (I just 'met' FlyLady - oh boy....) and working on making organizational tables for writing out short-term lesson plans.  I have always wanted to make a homeschool binder that would house everything.  Our schedule, lesson plans, book lists, long-range checklists...  So I started with the basics and will go from there.  I also had an incentive - we were holding a meeting with our homeschooling group (the topic was organization), and I, the organizer for this particular meeting, didn't want to look like an unprepared fool.  I've got all these great ideas in my head, it is just hard getting them down on paper.  I know that organization is THE number one topic of concern when it comes to homeschooling, and a lot of parents would be looking for ideas/help/answers and so forth. 

Wednesday we picked up Jordan from the airport - he was coming home from a six week stay with his mom.  The visit seemed to go okay for the most part.  Jordan sounded massively bored, whenever we talked with him on the phone.  His grandma (Dean's mom) kept him very busy with field trips and stuff to do on the days that she had him, while Jordan's mom was at work.  That was a huge help!  Jordan got to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of Braum's (lucky dog), several museums, do a volunteer day at the food bank, and play with his cousins.  He also came home with a ton of new toys - courtesy of some doting grandparents and money he earned cleaning the house for his mom.  It was a little bit of a rude awakening for him to come home with this 'stuffitis' mentality (gotta buy more stuff) and we are in the midst of our financial crisis (see other blog) and we have the mentality of BUY NOTHING.  I think he is over it, at this point.  The re-entry period is basically over.  He went through his typical gaming withdrawal, and has rediscovered the joy of reading.  The novel that he took with him for the six weeks was barely touched while he was there, but when he got home he started reading again and he is done with it.  Glad to have him home.  We are back on the full-blown school schedule with him this week, and he is actually happy to be back at it.  That says something about the level of boredom he experienced.  His mom apparently had a CT scan while he was staying there, and it is supposedly clean - no signs of cancer.  The odd thing is, there was no email message about this to us, so we are not sure what to make of it.  It is good news for sure - if it were me, I would have told the world!

Thursday night was the meeting.  I brought absolutely everything that I could think of that fit along the lines of organization.  I talked about grocery shopping, meal planning, house cleaning, scheduling, tracking school hours, short-term and long-term planning, goal setting and so on.  That got me thinking that maybe I would do a series of posts about each topic.  Then you won't have to hear me complain about anything else.  :)  The meeting went well, was fairly attended and I learned a lot from a couple of other moms who were there.  I am sure I came across as a psycho-organizational-fanatic, but oh well.  I hope not, but I think after passing around page after page of different sorts of lists and tables, the reputation couldn't be helped.  I tried to convey the fact that I have no short-term memory - no front OR back burners working here!!  If it is not written down somewhere, I will forget it.  If I don't plan my day, I will fritter it away without fail.  I use these lists for basic survival, people!

There was some emotion at the meeting - it has been a rough month or so for our group.  We have exploded in size (we are now 140+ families strong.  When we joined five years ago, there were only 50 or so active families), and there are so many differing opinions about which direction the group should go.  The email traffic went off the charts during the month of August, and it got to the point where I could no longer face my inbox, I was so overwhelmed.  I organize one of the three Park Days (three different days, three different cities) for our group, and made a change last month to the time frame to include a portion of the morning hours as well, to accommodate moms (like me) that have afternoon nappers.  Since no one hardly attends the park day, I felt I was well within my rights to do so.  I had sent out an email two months ago soliciting comments/suggestions, and I heard from no one.  140 families.  NO ONE!!!!  Excuse me?  So I said, f*#k it - if no one cares, I'll customize it to suit the few moms that do go.  We've had rain the past two Wednesdays, so I have no idea if this new time will actually bring more people to Park Day or not.  So, now I've heard that one mom in particular, who attended one of the other park days was talking smack behind my back about the fact that I had no right to change it. (I have never seen her there)  Talk about high school mentality.  So you wanna go there?? inner high school bitch coming through...

* You've been a member how long?? Uh-huh... that's what I thought.
* You can get off your fat a$$ and organize your own thing if you don't like it.
* You can read your f*#king email and respond when I was ask for opinions instead of complaining after the fact.
* You can take your rude comments and go join the Christian group instead...
ooooo... now that felt good.  A little too good.   Just like cleaning house - I had to sweep that crap right out of my brain.  So sorry it had to fall in your lap, though.  Let's shine this all up with something pleasant to look at.

That's better

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