Wednesday, June 28, 2017

52 Questions in 52 Weeks Challenge - Week 1

I ran across this challenge about a year ago and thought it was a marvelous idea... A year later... I never started it. Better late than never, right?

The whole idea is to tell your own story by answering one question a week. People that love ancestry love finding diaries, journals, and letters, because they tell about everyday life. Not just the big stuff, but the every day little stuff.

So... be prepared... I'm going to start blogging 1 question per week. If you have a blog and want to join me, please link in the comments. I'd love to follow your journey, too.

Week 1: What is your full name? Explain why your parents gave you that name

Lora Ann Brinkman (Fredrich)

The story goes... my Dad didn't want me to have a long first name, as he felt it was cruel to do that to a child who had to learn how to spell their name. I find this a little funny, because apparently my Dad didn't think I'd be too intelligent or something. Ha!

My Mom wanted to name me Loralea after someone she knew, but Dad convinced her to shorten it to Lora. "lea" would have also been a tribute to my older sister, Leatta", but they were overruled.

My middle name comes from a lady my parents went to church with. My mom promised her if I was born on her birthday (March 6) she would give me the same middle name as her, Ann. Well, I was born on her birthday, so that is the middle name I received.

My maiden name is Fredrich. It's a derivative of Friedrick, which is German. When my great-grandparents immigrated to the US, as with many people, their spelling or their surname was changed. My Grandma often told me it was because my Great Grandpa didn't want to be associated with a side of the family that still spelled their name "the old way", but I seriously doubt that story. She also told me an entire branch of the family was disowned because the  man married an American Indian. They weren't what I consider "high-society", so I just don't know if I should buy the stories... but, maybe.

Nonetheless, that is my name and I hope I live up to the expectation of my ancestors.

Monday, June 26, 2017

5 ways to keep your scouts interested

My troop typically doesn't meet over the Summer months. We meet during the school year and then when school ends, scouts ends.. until the next Fall.

This year we are doing something new. We are going to get together to complete a Journey in a Day. Senior Journey Mission: Sisterhood. A couple reasons for this.
1) They are BUSY!!! My girls are going into High School and I am full aware that our meeting frequency will be drastically different. Two of the girls are in Marching Band (you should see that schedule!). Two are in cheer. All have multiple clubs and things they do besides scouts.
2) The older they get, the harder it gets to keep them interested in scouting. They are torn in a million different directions. I'm chuckling to myself here a tad, because I realize this is only the beginning of our young women having to make choices and feeling pulled in different ways. It doesn't get any easier, does it? What's worse is that a lot of times it's our own gender criticizing the  most... stop that, okay? 

If you want to keep them in scouts, you have to keep them interested. Here are the 5 ways I hope to keep my scouts interested through their Senior year in High School. 

1. Keep it easy
The first thing we need to realize is, scouting is only one option they have. ONE of many. Scouting is awesome because you don't have to practice every day like sports. You don't have to take expensive trips. You don't have to have a set in stone schedule. We can be flexible and we should be. 

This is their Freshman year. I hope to meet with them one time a month. The theme of the month will be different and they will be setting that schedule and theme for the year at our first meeting this Fall. If they miss a meeting, it isn't the end of the world. Do I want them there? Absolutely! But, keep perspective and understand they are beginning their transition into the "real world" where schedules get tricky. Choices have to be made. You can't be in two places at once, no matter how hard we wish we could.

You want to keep them in scouts? Keep it easy! 

2. Keep it fun
They are in school all day long. Scouting should be fun. You can learn through playing at any age. Don't forget that. Get them outside as much as possible. Get them laughing and playing. Yes. Playing. We're not jump roping and hopscotching, but you can and if your girls want to do that... do it. But, find ways to let them let loose and have a good time. 

If they feel like they are going to sit and stare at a book for the whole meeting, they aren't going to want to be there... and let's be honest... I don't want to be there either. 

My girls got on a Sculpey clay kick for a while. Each meeting their plans included making something out of clay. They loved it. They were tying it in with their badge, so let's do it. The one thing we did this past year that was requested time and time again... Uno and Spot It. They would plan their badge work to get done early, so they could play games. Game time would erupt in laughter and memories. Time well spent. 

It doesn't have to be about earning a badge all the time. Promise. Life skills where they are learning how to let themselves be silly and relieve stress... those are skills that will pay off time and time again. 

Keep it fun to keep them in. 

3. Keep it girl-led
Starting with their 7th grade year, the girls started planning all of their meetings. My co-leader and I helped them come of with ideas when they didn't like the suggested activities. WI have helped them organize thoughts by giving them a sheet for planning. It also helps me know what supplies they are requesting. 

I'm sure we have all heard "if you want a child to eat something new, have them help prepare it." Well, that mindset transcends into scouts. You want them to stick around? Make sure they are involved with the planning and decisions. You are more likely to show up if you take ownership in the activity. 

Yes, I do plan the large things for them, such as the Journey in a Day programs. But, they still give me direction. I listen to what they like and don't like. I pay attention to what they have really enjoyed and the stuff they could do without. In fact, they asked me to put the day program together for them. They still enjoy being able to show up and participate without all the prep. I'm fine with that, because I still like to feel needed. 

Girl-led doesn't mean they have to do all of it. Girl-led means they give input and set the direction and make decisions together. Remember, these girls are BUSY. Don't pile "one more thing" on them all the time. They'll choose to leave, if you don't help them out. Plus, let's be honest, they are entering into a world where they will have so many things dumped on them... cut them a little slack. Prepare them, but don't overwhelm them!

Follow their lead. If they want and ask for your help, then that is still girl-led!

4. Keep it low-stress
As they enter High School, they enter a new world. They are immediately expected to start thinking about college, career, and life choices. Not to mention all the scholarships and advanced placement classes students are just expected to do. It's a lot different than when I was a High School Freshman. They also have to think about how to make themselves most interesting to perspective colleges. No more is it just about the grades and the course work. It's about the extracurricular activities and volunteer work. They have a lot to think about. For the most part, college isn't an option... it's a requirement.

When it comes to scouting, keep it low stress. Work with them and ask them what works. Ask how you can help relieve the stress of their every day life. Encourage them to keep that line of communication open as their lives change. Don't pressure them to do everything and be at everything. Remind them you want them there, but you also understand. 

5. Keep it engaging
Let me tell you something brutally honest... if you are bored at a meeting, so are they! Help them plan activities that inspire and motivate. I don't know about you, but I have enough things I "have" to do that aren't fun. When it comes to scouts, it needs to be engaging.

Bring in some patch programs to learn some life skills where they have something to show for it. If they like cooking, check out Share the Season. Do they love singing? Complete Just Sing. Are they artsy? Ask them about Handmade Treasures.

Want to know my summer plan? This is the bare bones list: 

This is what I'm hoping to do...
  • Journey in a Day meeting over the summer (July; planned)
  • Dinner and Movie night (August; before school starts)
  • Mailed note card to just check in
  • Convention trip (October; planned)
  • and...I gave them an option of a Summer Patch Program to help them have a little fun

Sunday, June 25, 2017

52 Weeks Challenge

I love the world wide web (most of the time). It's a happy little place where you can connect with others and find that people really aren't that different. We all want the same basic things as we travel along.

I ran across this challenge on Family Search to answer 1 question a week. Instead of being overwhelmed to document you whole big ol' life, you take it one question at a time. They are in their 2nd year now, but I'm playing catch up, I suppose.

My goal is to post a blog entry... 1 per week... to answer 1 question. In the process, I hope you are able to see we are so much alike and yet unique and lovely in our own ways.

If you'd like to join me, I'd love to link to to you! I'll add your blog link right here.  If you'd like to be added, either comment below or email me:

Are you in? Jump in at any time.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Senior Journey - Mission: Sisterhood Journey in a Day

This has been a labor of love. I am hosting a Journey in a Day program for my brand new Seniors this July. They have expressed the need for Journey in a Day events and not a semester of meetings for a journey. They want to do other things, too.

I spent a number of hours developing a plan. I used a few other references (namely the Turnkey from GSCNC) and the Leader book to pick and choose ideas. Then, I brought in my own twist to make it a little more "fun". At least, I think it's  more fun.

What to expect:
The Journey in a Day program I put together is a 9 hour program, but you aren't just doing the journey during that time. There is also time for lunch, afternoon snack/ceremony, and dinner. Plus some game time, craft time, and chill time.

There are 20 activities in all and I have tried to use time wisely, yet not rush through the more important items.

I am planning this for a group of 6. If you are hosting this for a larger group, I suggest you break the activities down and set up stations or turn it into an overnight activity to make sure you have enough time to get through everything. You could also cut things out, if you want.

The Take Action project is not completed with this journey in a day program. The girls will discuss what to do and a plan will need to made to make that happen.  I typically try to encourage them to keep perspective and not lasso the moon for a Take Action on a journey. Lasso the moon for your Gold Award, instead. The plan is to encourage them to set up a Movie day and invite other troops and people and do some SWAPs and dinner and watch a movie or something. Expand your network and keep it realistic. Our troop does a service project every month, so believe me... we're expanding the network and reaching out all the time.

This is the good part... it's probably easier for you to just download the information and read through it and think it out. Lots of information in there and all the activity cards you need are included. You just need to add some basic supplies and girls. I even included a Supplies List for you by activity so you know what you need.

In the resources library there are two files: 
  • Mission-sisterhood-journey-in-a-day-program.pdf - This is your one stop shop. It's 27 pages including the Overview, explanation, time chart, activity list, activity cards, and more. I've included blank cards, too. It's a PDF and you can't edit it. I spent a lot of time putting these together and I don't want to provide any of the cards in editable format. 
  • Mission-Sisterhood-Journey-In-A-Day-Planning-Blog.docx - Speaking of editable format... The program activity chart would be very helpful to you if you could fill in names and change the times, rearrange activities, etc, right? So, that's the one piece I'll provide in Word. I don't have plans to provide it in any other format. It's included in the big ol' PDF, so if Word doesn't work for you, you can use the PDF and make it work. 
I'll try to remember to add some pictures after the event is held. If I don't, don't stone me... remind me, though. Our event is going to be help July 22, 2017.

I have a post on planning a journey in a day program, if you want more tips and tricks. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cricut Quick-Look Sheets

This is loosely related to Girl Scout world. If you don' think you can use this for anything scouting related (which I'm sure you can!), please skip over and enjoy your day!

When I first became a Girl Scout Leader (I feel like this would make a great tune), I was also a paper
crafter. I love scrapbooking, cardmaking, stamping, home decor projects, and all the like. My amazing, awesome, totally supportive husband bought me a Cricut Expression for Christmas or my birthday or something... it's been like 10 years, okay? I still have it. I still love it. I do not want a Cricut Air. You know why? I hate the idea that I have to design everything on my laptop or tablet. This coming from a highly techie gal. I want to plug in the cartridges and set the size and press cut and be done with it already. So, yeah.

Anyway, this past week I splurged on a little item for myself and I am over the moon happy. This will give you insight into my personality and Type A-ness. I bought... wait for it... a laminator!!! You know why? Because of this project!!

I saw a post somewhere (I don't remember where, because... well... I hop around the internet faster than a bunny on Jolt soda; if you don't know what Jolt soda is, then you are most definitely not my age). The post showcased a binder of Cricut cartridge images used to quickly flip and decide what font you want to use. Oh... it spoke to me. It spoke to me loud and clear to the point I was conviced I MUST make one.

So, I spent about 3 hours googling (yeah took some time, but hey I am not a quitter!) to find all the images for my 23 cartridges. At least all the ones I could find. 137 pages in total... holy smokes, right? Don't ask me for links to where I found them, because oh my oh my... I was deep in the lost directory world of many sites...

I put all the images into Word with headings on each page and uploaded my happy little file to Staples and had them printed. The laminator arrived. The binder was waiting. The sheets were laminated and hole punched. I can't even tell you the level of "OH MY GOODNESS" my little heart was screaming at the gloriousness (yes, I know that isn't a word... chill) of it all.

Then, came the problem... tabs... regular page dividers don't work because the lamination sheets are wider than the dividers. Back to Google I went and WOO HOO a solution. Then, I tweaked that idea a bit and did my own thing.

Here is the breakdown:
* 137 sheets printed by Staples in color; I didn't do double-sided because it was $12 more... ridiculous, I know.
* 70 laminator sheets
* 46 labels printed and punches with an adorable scallop punch
* e6000

  1. I sandwiched the image sheets back to back in the laminator pockets and laminated
  2. Hole punched the sheets for the binder
  3. Put them in alpha order in the binder, because what other logical way is there???
  4. Made a cover sheet for the front of the binder and a spine label, because why wouldn't I?
  5. Printed out 2 sets of the 23 cartridge names on purple cardstock (yes, I know they sell tabs.. this is cuter)
  6. Punched the 46 scallops for tabs 
  7. Glued them back to back so the cartridge names were on both side of the tab
  8. Laminated those sweet little tabbies
  9. Tried to punch them out with a larger oval and that didn't work... boooo... so I cut them out
  10. Separated the bottom of the laminated punch oval tabs
  11. Put a little e600 between the loosed punch tabbies and slid onto the appropriate sheets

I probably spent a good 6 hours doing all this, but it's so cute and I know I'm going to use it every time I use my cricut.

I also found out that at least 2 of the cartridges I own have things on them that I didn't even know existed! Did you know Robotz has a FONT?!?!?!

My Quick-Sheets are not meant to replace the books. They are to help me quickly flip and glance at fonts and not have to go through all the books every single time. It helps narrow it down and then if it's a special cut that I can't figure out from the overlay, I can always grab the book.
Like I said... this isn't really scouting related, but it makes me really happy and thinking of all the ways I can use my laminator and my cricut... WOO HOO!!!!

Also, the little tab idea could be used for so many things... ooooohhhh... I love organized things!!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fur Babies Patch Program

Patches are guaranteed available through November 15, 2017 and then while supplies last.

Do you or your group love animals? Do you have pets in your midst? Are those "pets" really just part of the family? Then, check out the June 2017 release from

Life wouldn’t be complete without our Fur Babies. For most of us, fur babies are our first experience at caring for another living being and going through all the ups and downs that come with being a caregiver. Whether you have a dog, cat, gerbil, hamster, or non-furry animal in your life, use this patch program to show them how much you love them and learn more about taking care of them. 

By completing 4 suggested activities, you can learn more, do more, and give more to the ones that give so much love to us. 

Order the Patch
$2/each (inc shipping), 2 1/2" x 2 1/2", fully embroidered, sew on

Download the FREE Guide
includes some tasty treats and fun gifts for your fur baby!

Need ideas? Check out the Pinterest Board - BCG Patches: Fur Babies

Meet my fur babies! Newman Alexander and Fast Eddie. :)
Their very own Instagram account!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Plan a Journey in a Day (with planning secrets)

I have hosted several Journey in a Day workshops for my troop and I have attended one that was hosted by our Council. My girls have always preferred this method over spending six months on the same thing for 3 patches that really look like one patch. It's a lot of work for not a lot of bling.

Today, I plan to share a few secrets on planning with you. I have developed a journey in a day plan a couple times and I go through the process the same way. Once you break it down, it's easy to do. Promise!

Step 1: 

Choose the journey. Let the girls guide you on which journey they want to earn. I will tell you that some are easier than others to complete in a day workshop, but all of them can be done with planning. Planning is the key!

Note: Sometimes the Take Action is the same day and sometimes it's a "homework" project and sometimes it's a planned service day. It depends on what the girl's decided to do. But, you should be able to get through all the activities in one day.

Step 2: 

Get the Leader Guidebook and Girl Book for the journey. Yes. Both! No. Do not try to do a journey without the leader guide. Even if you follow someone else's plan, without the leader book a lot of things will not make sense and you'll pull your hair out wondering why you didn't cough up the few extra dollars and follow my advice.

Step 3: 

Use my worksheet for planning and breaking it down. You can download it for free!

Yes. It's in the store as a freebie. Yes. You need to fill in your information. Yes. You will thank me. No. I won't share your email or information with anyone else under the sun!

Step 4: 

Look at the badges to be earned for the selected journey. This is where the biggest secret comes in and one that most of us don't know until you READ the Leader's Guide (another reason for getting the Leader's Guide). 

There are 3 badges in a journey. Three. For each badge, you only have to do so many things. The leader's guide tells you how many activities you need to complete. My experience has been 3-4 for each badge. Yes. Do the math. That's about 9-12 things TOTAL. It's not 3 per session with 12 sessions. It isn't 36 activities. It's like 9-12... repeat that with me and let it sink in... 9 to 12 activities TOTAL. Uh huh. You're welcome. That seems much more doable, doesn't it?

Step 5: 

Break down each badge individually. Select the 3-4 activities you know you can complete without the eye rolls of young ladies. This is the pattern I typically try to go with... something educational, something fun, something hands on, and something memorable.

What does that mean?

  • Something educational: A video, a short story, a relevant science or news article
  • Something fun: You will not make it through the day without FUN... a game, a crazy activity to make them move, a goofy story or science experiment
  • Something hands on: My group is crafty, so if there are not crafts there are not smiles. We learn and remember by DOING... so one of the activities should be something they have to touch, do, create.
  • Something memorable: If you only need 3, then be sneaky and bring this in on one of the other activities. Maybe the craft is something of substance that they can take with them or the game ended with belly laughs and they'll talk about it for years. Create a memory for them. At the least, take photos!! 

Step 6: 

Choose your adults. Let's be honest. We all have adults that help with our troop. Some of them are not cut out for this. Some of them are. Be selective. Journey's completed in a day are fast moving, concentrated, intense blocks of time. I don't say that to discourage you from doing it. I say that to make sure you aren't continually having to explain and do everything. Get the adults that you KNOW can handle this. I have done a workshop with 2 other adults and 1 other adult. Both worked well. You assign out to them what you know they can handle. If you have a great adult that is willing to help, but you know that they can't glue 2 pieces of paper together without needing to call the paramedics... don't put them over any crafts! Use their strengths for everyone's sanity.

Step 7: 

Divvy out the activities and assign the roles to people. At this point, you need to decide if you want to get all the supplies or if you want to tell people to get their own for the activities they are doing. I'm pretty Type A, so I default to "I'll take care of all the supply gathering". Plus, then I know what we have and can reuse things here and there.

Step 8: 

Make a box for the event. Yes. It's going to take a little more work, but it's going to save you SO MUCH TIME the day of the event when you are trying to manage activities, girls, food, and everything else.

I use gallon ziploc bags and a plastic tote. you could also use file folders, but I'll explain why bags are the bomb in a second.

I have one bag that are "day supplies". It contains pencils, pens, tape, markers, notebook paper, a copy of the plan, the leader guide and girl guide. This is the first bag in my tote.

I also have a plastic ziploc for EACH activity. So, if we are doing 9 activities, I have 10 bags. 9 activity bags and 1 "day supplies" bag.

In the activity bags, I place anything specific to the activity. Remember that worksheet I told you to go grab? Yeah... print an extra one and cut that baby apart by rows in the table and put the correct table strip in the bag so you know you have them all covered and so on the day of the event, you know what you are looking at. Also in the bag, Craft supplies (unless they are too big to fit and if so, I have a note in the bag saying where they are), activity sheet/instructions, and I label the bag "Activity 1: 10:00-10:15am". This tells me which activity it is, what time we need to start and the amount of time I have estimated. It helps the day of to stay on track and make sure all is completed in a timely fashion.

Note: If you are dividing the event into stations, then make multiple boxes. One for each station with their activities IN ORDER and numbered with the overall event activity and times.

Step 9: 

Double and triple check everything. 

Step 10: 

Hold the event and earn that journey!!


Helpful Advice: 

  • Don't forget to build in some breaks. I tend to do a break every 1 1/2 hours for older girls, every 1 hour for little girls. OR use that fun game activity AS your break. With my older girls, I let them know if we stay focused until break time and we are ahead of schedule, they get to decide whether to take a longer break or end early for the day. Sometimes, they decide to skip the afternoon break and then we have time for a short movie or another game or craft. 
  • Don't get overwhelmed. Remember. 9-12 activities. It isn't that much. Really!
  • Presentation is EVERYTHING. Do NOT present this to your girl's in a negative fashion. Be positive. Be excited. Be "in it to win it". Be the cheerleader they need to conquer a journey. 
  • Keep it fun!
  • Make sure you have food. Fun food! Something they can help prepare or a surprise afternoon delivery or sweet treat. 
  • Enjoy your time with your group. You are making a difference. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Patch Quilt: A long time coming

If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that once upon a time I was trying to collect all of the Girl Scout Council patches. Well, I got them all! Woo hoo!! This is a lot of work and was sometimes a lot harder than it sounds. When thinking back to those awesome people that helped me with trades, trips to their council shops because the shops wouldn't ship out of state??, and the groups I stalked for months... I feel blessed and connected to my Girl Scout sisters all around the world. Yes. World. Because I have a few patches from England, Switzerland, Australia, and others. Crazy awesome!

This past week, I drew up my plan, cut out all the pieces, and start sewing it together. It's far from done, but it's well on it's way.

It's a multiple step project. I will be putting the quilt top together, then having it quilted (I don't do that), and then ironing on the patches. I plan to use Heat N Bond or maybe Badge Magic.. there are a ton of patches, so Heat N Bond sounds like a wiser choice.

If there are quilters out there who have any suggestions or tips on the best way to get 120 patches onto a quilt, I'd be thrilled to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Seniors... here we come!

This is a fun year for my Cadette troop... oh, wait... they are going to be Seniors very, very soon. I have a couple girls finishing up their Silver Award and then we will bridge in the early Fall. They chose to wait to do Bridging, Court of Awards, and the Silver Award ceremony all together in the Fall. This means that traditional Court of Awards that I'm used to doing in May didn't happen. I love the troop being girl-led, but I missed the end of school year Court of Awards. It was weird to just end the year without a ceremony.

We did have a fun end of year activity. We went to a local ceramics painting studio and then had frozen yogurt. In addition to our small, but mighty, troop of 3... we invited another small and mighty troop to join us. Next year, we are planning to merge the two troops together and become a slightly larger and mightier troop. I'm excited, as the girls in the merging troop are awesome young women... just like the young women in my troop.

Anyway, this is just a post about personal troop plans. We are moving up to Seniors. I have all the Senior badge booklets and journeys anxiously awaiting to be filled through. We have a tentative date set for July 22nd to complete the journey Mission: Sisterhood as a Journey in a Day program (of course, I'll share my plans and outcomes with you!). I'm hoping to work in a badge workshop day over the Summer, too. We are going to Convention in the Fall and we're toying with the idea of doing a badge along the way. Sounds like something we could do to use up some of the 8 hours in the car.

So, yeah... stay tuned... Senior stuff coming your way very soon.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Super Hero Strong Patch

This is the May 2017 patch release day at BCG Patches

Super Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and have a various array of “strengths”. Some use their muscles. Others use their minds. Others use the art of cleverness to save the day.

The program guide has a wide variety of ways to earn the patch and become Super Hero Strong!

I'm so excited about this program for so many reasons. A good friend and fellow fearless leader helped develop the program. She is an amazing woman. Without her, this program guide wouldn't have been anywhere near as awesome. 

In addition to my friend, Lisa, helping on the guide, I am overwhelmed to announce Teresa Power's, author of The ABCs of Yoga for Kids, sent BCG Patches an exclusive Yoga for Kids poster fora 5-Minute-A-Day Yoga Routine that is great for all kids (and adults!). We can't thank her enough for allowing us to include her amazing yoga program with our Super Hero Strong Program Guide. You can find the poster on the last page of the Super Hero Strong Program Guide. The sheet includes 10 yoga poses to form a balanced yoga routine for kids and adults to practice for just 5 minutes a day. The poses only contain standing postures, so they don't require any extra equipment (not even a mat!).

Please, check it out!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Parent Trap

As a Troop Leader, parents are your best friend and worst enemy. It's hard for parents of young children to let go sometimes. They want to see and do everything with their child, because they always have up until the point of starting school. With our society where both parents work, they know they miss so much and it's hard to accept their child is growing and learning without them, especially when it's fun activities and there isn't a one-way mirror to watch them learn to dance in dance class.

So, how do you handle a troop of girls with parents who all want to be at everything? As a Service Unit, we have given our troop leaders a great gift and battle. 5 years ago, our Service Unit started enforcing an adult/girl ratio policy for all our events. It isn't because we don't want parents to attend. It isn't because we're mean. It's because we have a large Service Unit and it's hard to find venues large enough to hold our events within our budget constraints. The problem we were having was troops of 10 showing up with 10-12 adults. Events are organized well and the girls are doing things at each station and there are plenty of adults around to monitor for safety and inclusion. What happens is, you have a lot of extra adults standing around complaining about how crowded and noisy the event is and how they aren't even able to be right next to their child. After watching this at multiple events, we put in place a policy to limit adults attending the events. It took a year or so for troops to not try to cheat the system and just show up with extras (yes, they did that). But, I stood firmly in my Mickey Mouse ears and explained to a 6'6" dad that they could not come in 1 1/2 hours early to an event to "just watch". We also make sure all adults are registered with Girl Scouts, because otherwise some little kid is going to trip and fall and break their head open and Girl Scouts is not going to cover that liability because the adult shouldn't have been there! Same holds true for little ones under the age of 5 and boys, who can't be registered Girl Scouts. The result has been events with a lot more space and less extra chatter. As a station leader, it's hard to talk to 25 excited girls to explain the craft when you are also battling 25 adults chattering about whatever in the background. (btw, I have no problem asking the adults to be quiet so the girls can hear. Yes, I have gotten looks of surprise, but the event is for the girl... not the adult... so hush and the girl can hear and have fun with the activity and I don't have to explain it 20 times).

Was it easy to implement and explain to our troops? No. Do I feel they are thankful 5 years down the road? Those that remember pre-policy are thankful. They have a way to limit parents and say "It's Service Unit policy". Those new troops coming in have never known any differently, so to them it's just the way it is.

What it has given our leaders, though, is the ability to work with their parents to rotate chaperones for events. We have all Service Unit events for the upcoming year planned in July. They can go down the list and select the ones their troop will attend. Then, they give the list to parents and have them select 1st, 2nd, 3rd choices and set up their chaperones. If you have 10 girls, you get 3 adults. Attend 4 events and everyone gets a chance to chaperone. This is just Service Unit events, too. There are also Council events and troop activities and meetings. You can easily do the same for those events. It takes planning, but you need to plan your year and give a list to your parents. That's just being a great leader and your parents will appreciate knowing what is coming up and how many dates to add to their calendar.

Working with your parents can be challenging and rewarding. When planning your meetings, reach out to the adults and ask them how they can contribute. Make them understand that if they are involved in the meeting or activity and have an active role, then you welcome their help. When you have parents that insist on being there, start assigning jobs. If they feel they just have to be there, at least they'll be helping you with something.

I also have a Troop Leader/Parent agreement I do with all my parents at the beginning of the year to outline expectations.

I leave with this... keep in mind, this is GIRL Scouting... not FAMILY Scouting. But, you need the family support. If you have little girls in your troop, don't worry. They'll grow and parents will become much more selective when they want to be around. By the time they reach 4th or 5th grade, you most likely won't have this problem anymore. Ha!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Volunteer Appreciation Dinner: Pinterest Party

For Volunteer Appreciation this year, I hosted the dinner as a Pinterest Party. Everything was designed as a "make n take", including dinner which was a potato and salad bar.

We had 4 stations, plus a small gift for each of our adult volunteers. Guess what? I'm going to share all my "stuff" with you. YAY!!

Gift: Knot Book
I Googled and found a resource that sort of was what I wanted, but then it wasn't exactly... so, I tweaked it.

The cover is in Word form, so you can change the words and such. The covers were printed on green cardstock. The interior pages I printed on white heavier paper, but it wasn't cardstock.
I had them printed double sided, folded, and stapled at Staples.

To complete the Knot Book, I ordered paracord in green and white. It was cut to 2' increments, sealed with a lighter to singe the ends from fraying. Then, I just tied those around the binding of the booklet. We passed them out to each adult volunteer attending the dinner.

Station 1: Juliette's Pearls

Simple SWAP that you may remember from my Daisy days.
All the "stuff" was ordered via Amazon.
The table was set up with instruction sheet and baskets of supplies.

Prep was simple. Just print and cut the inserts apart from the SWAP Sheet.

Station 2: Girl Scout Bottlecap magnets
I found the images online (and if they are yours.. THANK YOU! I'd love to give you credit, but I really have no idea where they came from... too much Googling) and put 3 copies of them on one page. I had those printed on heavy white cardstock.

Prep was minimal on this. I had the images printed and I cut the groups apart just to make sure they were easy to punch.

The table had the baskets with supplies and instructions

Station 3: Post it Holders
Again... all stuff from Amazon.
I did design the printed paper through an online site that will turn your words into word bubbles and you can upload any shape you want to begin with. It's super cool and fun and you should try it out! (

I had the images printed on green cardstock with black lettering.

Prep for this... I cut the pritned paper down to the correct size and had a couple friends help me round the corners with a punch. I've listed the punch below, because it works great! If you do this in advance of the event, you won't have all the little corner pieces to clean up...

Station 4: Colorful Soup in a Jar
This was the biggest hit, I think. The looks I got at Wal-Mart were awesome, too... try checking out with 14 bags of split peas and 14 bags of lentils, plus a ton of noodles, rice, minced onion, etc. plus canning jars... people give you looks.

I found the recipe online and I liked it the best because there wasn't beans in it. There also wasn't a ton of pricey spices or things that I would have issues finding. The hardest thing to find was barley, which I sent the new Service Unit Manager in search of and she found locally. I didn't purchase these items through amazon, because it was cheaper locally.

To prep this station, I poured ingredients in bowls and put the correct size measuring cup in each. So, if you needed 1/2c, there was a 1/2c measuring cup in the bowl. I had the ingredients in order on the table and provided canning funnels for the jars to minimize the risk of spills. This sped up the process as it was just go down the line, scoop, pour, done.

Other "things" for the event I used:
table markers
Word Art Levels
Word Art Traits

In closing

The last thing I want to share is the reason behind each activity choice, as I explained it at the dinner to my leaders.

We are all Juliette's pearls. She believed in Girl Scouting enough to sell her strand of pearls to fund a national office and continue Girl Scouts. I hope each day I live up to her expectations to further the movement. As a volunteer, I know we can all relate to the sacrifice she made. We believe in Girl Scouts, too. Our girls are worth it.

The bottlecap magnet: It takes a magnetic personality to build and grow our troops. The friendships we form and the friendships our girls form will give them something to stick to for a lifetime. And, let's be honest... sometimes at the end of the camping trip, we can all use a cold drink and can't wait to pop the bottlecap.

As a Service Unit, we have caused Council to take note of the things we are doing. I am asked frequently about how we do this and that. It's because of all our troops that I can confidently say that we stick together and bound together by a common mission... developing amazing future leaders.

Finally, a colorful soup... that's us. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all bring something special to the group. We all have our own "flavor" to offer to the larger picture. Together, we work well and nourish our girls into greatness.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Have a Soaring Summer

Make it a Soaring Summer! Whether you are blowing bubbles, flying paper airplanes, or getting a sugar rush on homemade ice cream sandwiches… put down the electronics and have some fun outdoors and indoors.

Sample activities include:
  • Make homemade bubbles and a bubble blowing wand
  • Bird watch to discover 6 different types of birds
  • Document a “week in the life” with photos or journaling or both
  • Plant flowers to attract butterflies
  • Set up a net for volleyball or badminton
  • Watch for fireflies
  • Paint a design on canvas sneakers
Patches are available NOW and all orders placed by October 15, 2017 are guaranteed to be filled. After october 15, 2017, we will sell off remaining stock and that will be the end. 

If you can't print at home, you can order a guide we print and mail to you!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

When Humility Goes Too Far

This is me... sharing a story about myself. Something I have battled with throughout my lifetime.

I was raised to be kind, genuine, and humble. I don't boast about my accomplishments. I don't step into the spotlight. I often pass the credit on to others. None of those qualities really made me feel like I was missing anything, until one fateful day.

I have a new boss for my full-time job. I instantly respected him. I quickly connected with his line of thought. I genuinely feel he has the company and my best interest at heart in every decision he makes.Those are rare qualities for a manager... sad, but true.

For a full time gig, I'm a computer programmer. I code ColdFusion. I'm proficient in SQL, HTML, CSS, and I'm learning all about this responsive design internet world we live in. I'm getting pretty good at that, too. (It took everything in me not to rewrite the proficient, pretty good, etc. and remind myself it isn't ostentatious to admit you have skills that you've worked hard to achieve!)

I work in a predominantly male career field. I have fought for the past 12 years against the "boys club". I have quite often been dismissed or ignored by my peers and my female bosses. When you hear people talk about the gender gap, I have lived it. I do live it. I typically feel I have to fight to be taken seriously. I have to prove time and time again that I am good at what I do. Being second-guessed has simply become part of my routine. It isn't that I don't have the experience. It isn't that I don't have the knowledge. I don't even think it's that I don't have the respect of the people I work with.

Two weeks ago... my boss (remember, I really like him)... asked if he could give me a call after a conference call we had together. This happens a lot, so I thought nothing of it. What he told me was like running full force into a brick wall. It hit me so hard, that I have went back and thought on it multiple times. Of course, in his true fashion, it was phrased so eloquently and insightful... and that is why it made such a huge impact. He told me "The way you presented yourself today, it just lacked confidence. The phrases you used when talking about the issues that had come up and that you resolved or had made decisions on how to resolve just didn't sound like you were sure of yourself. You handled everything. Everything was resolved or you have a plan on how to take care of it. You know what you're doing. You get the job done. You just need to present yourself in a more confident manner." Of course, this is not verbatim, but the overall intent is there.

So... for the past 2 weeks... I have self-monitored myself. I have listened to how I speak about things I accomplish. There is a huge difference between being humble and self-deprecating. I now sit and wonder how many times I felt I was fighting the boys club and it was really a fight against myself. A fight that I was losing because I was too kind or too humble to take credit. I think back and remember how many times I allowed someone else to take the credit and they would say "I I I" when it was really "ME ME ME!" or at least "us us us".

If you are so humble you have crossed the line into not allowing others to give you a compliment and take credit when it is due... you are your own worst enemy. I'm preaching to myself here. We need to step up and say "Yes. I accomplished this and I worked hard for it." "I took care of it. It's resolved."

How does this fit on a Girl Scout blog? WE are leading the future women for our planet. We tell them to have courage, confidence, and character. We instill the values to be kind, helpful, and considerate. We need to make sure we are balancing the scale and tell them to not put themselves down. Don't downplay your contributions. Don't feel as though if you say "Thank you" to a compliment that you are boastful. We work hard every single day. We deserve credit for what we have done. We definitely don't deserve to allow ourselves to be shut down, overlooked, or discredited. This has nothing to do with gender, either. Shocked, I know. This has to do with personality and human character.
This week, I actually followed up with my boss and asked what he thought of my presentation on a call. I told him I was trying to sound more confident and not downplay my contributions. He remarked that he had made a mental note on the call that it did sound better and he was pleased that our discussion was taken to heart. I appreciate that he tok the time to point this out to me in a way that really did make me stop and think.

You can teach an old dog new tricks. (And no... I'm not "that" old).

Friday, April 7, 2017

My Google Drive - aka The Leader Motherload!

I try to keep my Google Drive organized and I share out portions with different groups. Sometimes, it needs a little... ummm... straightening up and decluttering, though.

Why am I telling you this? Well... because I Google a LOT... and I find things that help me now and in the future. I also find things I wish I would have had in the past.

My mission here is to help YOU! I have a folder named "Blog Shares". It's sole purpose is to help you and save you time from the Google vortex. I don't modify the documents I find. So, if it doesn't have a name on it, I don't know where I got it. If it has a name, then credit is still in tact. These are NOT all my documents .The pieces that are, for the most part, have my blog and name on them. I would appreciate you keeping that in tact and giving credit where credit is due, too.

A lot of these items have been linked on the blog at one time or another, but this is your one stop shop.

Without further blah blah-ing... here you go!!
Lora's Blog Shares Folder on Google Drive

Now, before I get a million requests for edit... I don't give edit access to docuemns in my Google Drive. You can download a copy and you can save a copy to your own Google Drive. But, I don't allow others to modify my stuff. 

FIRST... there are different types of files in my drive... There are Word Documents, Excel Sheets, Google Documents, Google Sheets, and PDFs... there are probably some jpg and png and other image files, too. Go. Explore. Check back often.... I add things...

When you look at a file, the icon will tell you what it is. PDFs are NOT editable and if there isn't a Word or Google Document with it, then I don't have one there or I don't have one at all... You can ask, because sometimes I just don't put "raw" files out there. 

In the image below, 

  • The red square with PDF in it is a PDF... easy, right? 
  • The one next to it with a great big blue W... that's Microsoft Word.
  • The blue square with squiggles... that's Google's version of Word... called Documents. Depending on the document... sometimes the Google files are formatted the best. Just being honest here. It depends if I created it in Google or if it was converted from a Word document... so... just know that formatting may be off... don't judge me... I MAY go back and check things out when I have time, but don't hold your breath. 

File types

To save your own copy in Google Drive (which you are welcome to do... but please give credit when sharing): 
If you have a Google Drive of your own. 

  1. Sign in to your Google Account, if you aren't (I'm always signed in.... always).
  2. Navigate to the folder link above.
  3. Click on the document you want. 
  4. Depending on your view, you will click in the upper right on the navigation to Add to Drive (image 1) OR if the file is open, click on File>Add to Drive (image 2)
Image 1

Image 2

If you do NOT have a Google Drive, you can still download and print copies of anything in there: 
To download a copy:

  1. Click on the link above going to my shared folder. It will open a view like image 3 below.
  2. Click on the file you want. (You may need to double click, depending on your browser, etc.)
  3. Click Download to save or the Printer to print. 
Image 3

Image 4
I do hope you find something that helps you. I plan to start adding meeting plans and such out there for various badges and things we have done... as I have time... 

Lora's Blog Shares Folder on Google Drive

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Badge Planning Sheet

A skill we are working on with our girls is planning. It's a skill that is very beneficial in life. Take the big picture and break it down into smaller steps and you won't feel so overwhelmed when it comes to tackling the task at hand. It also helps things flow more easily and relieves some anxiety and stress.

Our troop have begun to plan their own meetings. We gave them the task of providing us a list of activities they would be completing and supplies they need. Easy enough, I thought. After a year of getting plans that took quite a bit of my time to decipher and going back and forth on what requirements were missed, I decided I needed to share some secrets on planning. It will save both them and me time in the long run.

For years, when I was planning meetings I had just broken it down and typed it up and within a matter of 30 minutes or less... I had a plan that worked wonderfully. It also comes in handy when you are sick or have a family emergency and someone else has to step up and lead the meeting in your absence. Yep. Life happens!

This is the way it works... You can save the Blank Planning Sheet (listed below). Update the header and your badge/patch/activity will appear on every page. Type in the name of the badge/patch, date, who is leading, and the steps.

For each step, you have a row in the table. List the requirement number, requirement description, activity with instructions, estimated time (if you want... I do this to make sure I have enough and not too much planned for the length of the meeting), Leader, and Supplies List.

Why each column? 
Requirement #: I list this, so I can make sure I have all my steps done. If you are splitting a badge across a couple meetings, this will save you so much time. You can reference both meeting outlines and make sure you have all of them covered.

Requirement Description: I list this piece of information so I can quickly reference why we are doing what we're doing when we're doing it. Yes. I know they are listed above, but sometimes you have multiple pages and if you are fortunate, you can hand a page to someone else to lead. They have all the information about the activity they need.

Activity: This is self-explanatory. You need to know what you are doing. I will add that if it's a rather long description, sometimes I put "See Activity Sheet" or something.

Estimated Time: You know how long your meetings are, so why not track the time for each thing to make sure you don't have too much or too little planned. You can always let things run over time or under time.

Leader: With the girls leading meetings and splitting badges, it helps to know who is doing what. So, I list it or have them list it.

Supplies: Always good to know what you need. I try to keep "fluff" out of this column, so when I go shopping for supplies or it's time to gather supplies, I can quickly look down a list of things needed.


I hope this helps save time and energy. If your girls are still young and aren't at the point of planning the whole meeting, then use it for yourself and for assigning other volunteers tasks at your meetings!

Completed plans are also great to start building and saving and sharing with your Leader friends... they will give you great big hugs.

Note: You can also use this for Event Planning... Instead of requirements to complete, use it for Stations at your event.

Friday, March 24, 2017

20% off 7 Patches at

I have marked down SEVEN of the patches by 20%. 

All prices have been adjusted and are waiting for your to order... and YES... shipping is still included in the price.

Sale ends March 31, 2017 or while supplies last (inventory in the store is correct. If you see it, it's available).

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

In the midst of a cookie storm

I know I've referenced this song before and I may again, so hopefully you like it.

The past month or so has been all about cookies. We have been taking orders, delivering, transporting, shuffling, selling, boothing, and getting really sick of them (just being honest). I think at this point, all the adults and girls are tired of cookie season. We still have another 2 weeks to go, but our troop... is done. 

This morning, I made an early day run (like prior to 7am!) to a friend's house to trade out this for that to fill some orders from parents. On the way down the street to turn around, I was thinking about the sacrifices we make as Troop Leaders. We give up time with family, friends, and ourselves. We become stressed, overwhelmed, snippy, and down right mean to those we love the most at times, too (talk to my husband... he'll tell you I am not perfect..) ... myself included. I really try to keep myself in check... but it's hard when you have a million things to do, badges to sew on, cookies to sort, meetings to prepare, trips to plan, and then all the normal "stuff" we do. 

I turned my car on and the song by Tim McGraw was playing.. "Humble and Kind". It was at that part in the song where it says "Always stay humble and kind"... "when you get to where you are going, don't forget to turn around and help the next one in line." I have to say it stopped me in my mental tracks and spoke to my heart.

The girls that I've watched grow and mature and take on responsibility and laugh and plan... they are why. They are worth the early morning cookie run, the late night badge sewing session, the crazy week full of here and there activities, the booked calendars, and the sometimes unrecognized sacrifices.

In the midst of the cookie storm.. take a moment and remember why we do it. It isn't about the money for the troop. It isn't about being the top seller. It's not about being recognized for the things we do. It's about setting the example for the next generation. They may not see it today... but they will see it. They'll understand it. They'll know. Someone cared enough about them and the world we live in to stand up and say "Yes. I will do this."

Thank you, to all the volunteers who Believe in Girls. 
Invest in Her. 
Invest in our Future. 
It really is ToGetHer There!