12/year: really belated

This blog has been sorely neglected lately, so I decided to (belatedly) link up with Barbara’s 12/year photo roundup! Most of the pictures were taken on my phone, but at least I’ve got a few pictures!

In March,

I received an “Honorary Doctorate” for reading to the pre-K when the school celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday.
I spun a science-fair-mishap into a delicious cookie/brownie combo!
We had much better luck with our second attempt at the science fair cookie recipe! Read all about it–the cookies were terrific!
It snowed–the most snow we got all year.
Little Brother is a Boy Scout now, so he got to help with the Easter Vigil fire. Here’s the “before”…
…and the “during.” You can’t see Father; he’s on the other side of the flames. 
Alleluia! Easter sunrise.


This morning, while waiting for Little Brother’s basketball game to start, I was talking with his Cub Scout den leader (whose son was on the opposing team). He mentioned that after next weekend’s Blue and Gold Dinner, which will feature the boys’ crossover into Boy Scouting, his son probably will not continue in Scouting.

That’s a shame.

At first I thought that the boy just didn’t feel like Scouting was for him. I told the den leader that my older son had felt that way for a while, and we asked him to just give it a certain amount of time. If he still didn’t like it after that time, he could walk away.

Apparently, though, that wasn’t the case. This young man is having academic difficulties in school. His parents are considering after-school tutoring to help him improve his reading skills. That’s a good course of action to take, and I hope that it helps. But then, the den leader went on, they had decided that if he does go to a tutoring center, he won’t be allowed to go to Scouts until his grades improve.

That’s an even bigger shame. Before the opening buzzer to the game sounded, I tried to convince this dad that Scouting was definitely worth the investment of time, and that his son would learn about managing his time as part of his Scout training.

I probably failed, unfortunately.

In this town (and many towns surrounding mine) the emphasis is ALL on sports. Little Brother is one of the few boys his age who is held to a strict “one sport per season” limit. I’ve known several kids who play on two or more teams for the same sport during the same season, and always wondered what happens when the inevitable schedule conflict comes up. The boy in question here plays multiple sports in a season, sometimes on travel teams whose games are an hour or more away. I’m not against sports–my kids are athletes too–but a steady diet of nothing but sports is awfully limiting for an eleven-year-old.

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.–the Boy Scout Law

Yes, you’ll get some of that in sports. Ultimately, though, the goal in sports is to win. The goal in Scouting is to fulfill that Law. By doing so, it’s not only the Scout who wins.

And when a child’s punishment for poor grades (or poor conduct) is removal from his Scout troop, he definitely loses.

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Little Brother is getting ready to go on his very first camping trip with the Boy Scouts. The troop has invited the Webelo 2 den along on this weekend’s camping trip so that the Webelos can begin to learn the camping skills they’ll need as Boy Scouts.

There has been much packing and preparing. Last night he began gathering his stuff and stuffing it into an old backpack. We had gotten him a multi-tool-utensil (Swiss Army silverware?) and it was still in the plastic clamshell package. He spent more than 10 minutes with his Scout knife, stabbing that clamshell in random places.

I could have taken care of the situation with one swipe of my kitchen shears, but I let him struggle with it himself, even when that struggle proved potentially dangerous to his fingers and my coffee table.

That’s a lot of trouble to go to, especially when you consider that this kid still doesn’t use utensils on a regular basis.

This morning I tripped over his fully-packed backpack with the flashlight sticking out of the front pocket. I asked him if he’d packed extra batteries for the flashlight.

“I won’t need those,” he informed me. “I’ll have the moon and the stars to be my light.”

Good luck with that.

(He packed the batteries.)

Long Day Ahead

I’ve been up since 4:45, so I’m two hours into the day already.  I’ve finished my Big Travel Mug of coffee (it’s half-caff; I’m easing up) and have moved on to my Big Cup of Water.

There’s a lot to do today, which is probably why I was up so early.  Later this morning my Secular Franciscan fraternity will meet with our Regional Minister and others from the Regional Council for our Regional Visitation and Paperwork Jamboree.  It’s not supposed to be a stressful time, but because it’s outside the norm of our regular meetings, it’s a stressful time.  And I’m the fraternity minister, so any missing paperwork is on my head.

I’ll be getting there early to unlock the meeting room and put the coffee on–and turn the heat on, since Mother Nature has finally gotten the memo that it’s February.

I’ll also be getting there early because the back of my van is fully loaded with enough groceries to feed a spaghetti dinner to 105 people, which is what I’m doing tonight.  It’s the annual Cub Scout Blue & Gold Dinner.  Fortunately, it’s in the same building as my meeting this morning, so I can unload the van once and be done with it.  When the meeting is over, I’ll put on my apron, change out of my “confident shoes” and put on my sneakers, and start making spaghetti sauce.  A lot of spaghetti sauce.

Yesterday I rolled and baked 225 meatballs.   That’s a lot of meatballs.

When the meeting is over and I have closed up the meeting room, I will appreciate the quiet in the building.  I’ll be the only one there for a few hours.  While I open cans of crushed tomatoes and stir in the garlic and oregano, I’ll have time to decompress.  Never underestimate the value of cooking as an aid to decompression.  (I get to be Martha and Mary all at the same time–yay for multitasking!)  I made sure to load up some good playlists so I’ll have music, and since there will be no one else in the building, I can sing as loudly as I want.  Or I can just enjoy the quiet, which will come to a sudden end when the Cub Scouts show up.

There’s a long day ahead, but I’ve got the tools to get through it:  coffee, an entire bag of fun-size Milky Ways, “confident shoes,” an apron, a Sharpie, my favorite music, and prayer.  A lot of prayer.

Are the Stars Out Tonight?

So my husband and I went over to the Boy Scout Spaghetti Dinner in 2 separate cars because the Cub Scouts are planning to leave right after spaghetti for an astronomy field trip.

I’d been gone all day, so at dinner, my husband (Mr. Cubmaster) gave me the scoop on the plans for the evening.

“After dinner I’m going over to where they’re meeting and I’ll make sure everyone has directions and see them off.  Then I’m going to come back here and hang out with the Boy Scout leaders.  Little Brother will be with me because he wants to help with the dinner.”  (Translation:  Little Brother wants to hang out with the Big Boys.  And they put up with him, so it’s all good.  And sometimes he actually helps, a little.)

So I ate my dinner and enjoyed the ’80s music provided by the Troop’s own DJs, the Clubmasters.  (Nice job, guys.  I particularly enjoyed “Addicted to Love,” for the record.)

I asked my husband, the meteorologist, if this trip was even going to happen.

“It’s cloudy,” he said.  “There won’t be anything to see.  Even if they go, I’m not going.”

“What if Little Brother wants to go?”

“I’m not going.  After they all leave, I’ll bring Little Brother back here.”

OK.  Middle Sister and I finished our food; she visited with her friends among the Scouts and we left.  I wasn’t expecting them back for about another hour anyway–and then my cell phone buzzed to signal a new text.

“We’re in the middle of nowhere.”

Yup.  They went.  Should be interesting to hear all about how that went down.

Learning from My Mistakes

Someone famous once said that if we don’t remember history, we are doomed to repeat it.

With that in mind, I declined Cubmaster Dad’s generous invitation to stay at the Cub Scout Pack meeting tonight. 32 little boys with 16 basketballs in 1 gym is not my idea of a good time. And only the new kids are getting any awards, since all 13 of our new Scouts (yes, 13!) earned their Bobcat badge. So it’s not like I need to be there to clap for Little Brother.

But most of all, I declined this invitation because of something I saw in the Shopping Bag of Cub Scout Meeting Supplies. Along with ropes for knot-tying practice, “Hello my name is” stickers for parents, and lots of pens, Cubmaster Dad had put several rolls of toilet paper.

I have very vivid memories of what happened last time someone brought toilet paper to a pack meeting. And someone still owes me Milky Ways for that time.

He now owes me some toilet paper, too–since he took all the extra rolls from both bathrooms.

Don’t Rush It!

It’s that time of year again. The “Be A Scout!” signs are all over town with our phone number written on them, and I’m taking random calls several times a day from people interested in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and even Toddler Scouts.

For the record, Toddler Scouts does not exist.

And we don’t have any Girl Scouts here. I don’t have the Girl Scouts’ phone number. All the children on the “Be A Scout!” signs are BOYS.

(Note to the National Boy Scout Council: It would be really great if you’d spring for the extra ink needed to print “Be A Cub Scout!” on your Cub Scout recruiting signs. That would save all of us moms who answer phone calls a whole lot of trouble.)

I’m used to moms of kindergartners asking if the Cub Scouts has a program for their boys, since the Girl Scouts has created the Daisy program for five-year-old girls. But today’s phone call takes the cake.

A mom called, saying, “I got this number from the Scout sign and I was wondering if my son is old enough for Scouts yet.”

“How old is your son?” I asked. “Cub Scouts begins with first-graders, in our Tiger Scout program.”

In a disappointed tone, she answered, “He’s three and a half.”

Picking up my chin off the floor, I told her, “We don’t have anything for boys that age. We’ll be happy to see him when he’s in first grade, though.”

I wish I’d kept her on the phone and told her not to rush things with her little boy. I wouldn’t have been sarcastic, saying things like “Cub Scouts don’t wear Pull-Ups.” But a three-year-old is so young. He doesn’t need structured group activities like Cub Scouts yet. He needs time to dig in the sandbox and push Tonka Trucks around and dance silly dances to ’80s tunes and run around and kick beach balls and build with Legos and color with crayons and learn to eat with a fork. (OK, Little Brother still needs to work on that last skill. But you get the idea.)

I feel kind of sad for this mom and her little boy. It’s not that I don’t think Cub Scouts would be good for him. I’m a firm believer in just how good Cub Scouting (and Boy Scouting) can be for a boy. But I’m also a firm believer in not overcommitting children, especially very little children. When Big Brother (my Eagle Scout) was three and a half, he wasn’t even in pre-K yet. So far, his lack of a full slate of early-childhood activities has not seemed to have any ill effects upon his intellect, achievement, or ability to make friends.

I wish I’d told this mom to let her little boy enjoy being three and a half. There’s plenty of time for Cub Scouts later.

It Never Fails

TheDad and Big Brother are off to Summer Camp for the week with the Boy Scout troop. They’ll be living in tents, battling mosquitos and looking to beat last year’s second-place finish in the Iron Camp Chef competition.

Usually, we just say goodbye to them at home, but this year the rest of us went over to the church where the Scouts were packing up the vans and trailer. I’m sorry we didn’t do this other years. It was nice to hang out with the other moms and leaders’ wives, to wish all the campers well (not just the ones in my own family) and to trade cell-phone numbers with moms who worry that their child’s phone won’t pick up a signal in camp (it probably won’t. But someone will manage to call, and then we’ll all let each other know that everyone’s OK.)

And then I came home, put down my coffee cup, and headed directly to Big Brother’s closet (do not pass GO, do not collect $200) where I took all his t-shirts out of the closet organizer where they’d been stuffed, folded them neatly, and replaced them. That thing has been driving me crazy for months, but I’ve managed to resist until now.

(I’m now wondering if he has any shirts at camp with him. He has an awful lot of t-shirts.)

Middle Sister is off to a sleepover with the cousins on Wednesday. Her dresser is next.

I expect that before the week is out, I’ll rearrange some furniture. Because doing that, and cleaning closets and dresser-drawers, is how I say “welcome home” to someone who’s been away.

A Boy Scout at the Easter Vigil is…

Trustworthy. He can be depended upon to build and tend the Easter fire in a safe manner.
Loyal. He honors his commitment to help the church that sponsors his troop.
Helpful. He cooperates with other Scouts and leaders in building the fire.
Friendly. He greets people as they arrive for Mass.
Courteous and Kind. He shows people a safe place to stand.
Obedient. He follows his leaders’ and pastor’s directions.
Cheerful. He performs this service with a smile on his face.
Thrifty. He makes the Easter fire from scrap wood and sticks that have fallen from trees.
Brave. He knows what to do when the wind blows the flames to one side.
Clean. He makes sure that the wind does not blow pieces of wood or kindling out of the fire area.
Reverent. He behaves appropriately during the prayers and blessings that accompany the Easter Vigil fire ritual.

And after the Easter candle has been blessed, and everyone has sung “Thanks be to God” and gone inside the church, he quietly roasts marshmallows on the coals of the Easter fire and shares them with the other Scouts who are helping with the fire.