Thursday, April 4, 2019

I got a random leader survey from GS USA so I told them what I thought

I got a random leader survey from GS USA.  They asked what I thought of my experience in Girl Scouts so I told them, they gave me a small box but I just kept typing.

I think that work needs to be done on fundraising.  Cookies are our thing but they can be better.  Councils bordering each other should be the same price because families sometimes cross the boarders and then question why ours are more expensive than theirs.  I also think that the rules for outside fundraising need to be loosened up.  Not all girls like selling cookies.  All troops don't sell thousands of cookies, especially as they get older and less girls in the troop.  But troops need money to survive. 

I am a proud Girl Scout Mother of 2 girls, an Ambassador working on her Gold Award and a Cadette working on her Silver award.  I am also a proud mother of an Eagle Scout.  I have supported both organizations for many years.  I think they both have given my children opportunities to do things that they might not have had otherwise.  I am also the proud Girl Scout Leader of 2 troops, for 12 + years of over 50 girls in total through the years.  Each troop is down to 3 girls now, but these 6 girls are committed and have been together since they were Daisies.  I have watched these girls grow from shy and silly children into confident and courageous young women.  Not only have the girls developed strong friendships, but the adults have too.  We have so many great memories together that I cherish.  At the end of every ceremony I always thank the parents for giving their daughters the gift of Girl Scouts.  Because I really believe that it is a gift to be part of this organization and watching their daughters grow has also been a gift.

The thing that saddens me is the relationship between Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.  I do not agree with the changes made to Boy Scouts over this past year and I feel it has devalued the organization and the rank of Eagle Scout.  I don't think that Robert Baden-Powell and Juliette Gordon Low would be very happy with the way things have been.  They were friends and that friendship is where our journey began.  In the beginning we celebrated Thinking Day because it was Robert Baden-Powell and his wife Olave Baden-Powells birthday, the founders of the Scouting Movement.  I think that some need to be reminded of that.

I also wish that the Girl Scout Gold Award got more recognition.  People including myself always say is equal Eagle Scout.  But in fact I have learned recently while my daughter is working on her project that the two are not equal.  Girl Scouts requires more hours, must be sustainable and gets less recognition.  Another difference is that Eagle Scout is considered a rank and Girl Scout Gold is an award earned.  I would love to see the statistics how how many girls earn Gold compared to Eagle.  In my daughters troop that was once 25 Brownies and now 3 Ambassadors only my daughter is going for Gold.  In my sons Cub Scout Pack that was once 21 went down to 3 for the last 4 years in Boy Scouts all 3 earned Eagle Scout.

I probably could have gone on more but like I said the box was small and I'm surprised it didn't stop me from writing what I did.  (I also posted this on my other blog, )

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Opting Out Shouldn't Be An Option

Opting Out Shouldn't Be An Option

It's that time of year again, STATE TESTING for grades 3-8, in New York.  No one likes to take tests, especially long, 2-3 hour tests, but its part of life.    There are some parents who started a movement a few years ago to opt their children out of taking the state test.  It was a big thing around here.  However to opt your child out of the test you couldn't just keep them home that day, you needed to write an opt out letter and they still had to go to school.  Those students whose parent opted them out of the test still have to sit in a room quietly reading for 2-3 hours so as not to disturb the rest of the building students taking the test. The thing that kids don't understand is that they can't just opt out of tests for the rest of their lives.  Taking the state tests in grades 3-8 is practice for what is to come.  I don't think the test needs to be 2-3 hours long at that age.  I think they should start small and work up to a longer test.  New York State Regents exams are 2-3 hours long and high school students take them.  The SAT is 3 hours long, again for high school students.  I  think at elementary age an hour test would suffice.  Then at middle school a 2 hour test.  This would build their stamina and start preparing them for high school exams. 

We have never let our children opt out of taking the state tests.  We tell them it's good practice and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  We took them when we were in elementary school, back in the ice age, ha ha.  But seriously, you can't opt out of test all your life.  If you want to drive a car you need to take a permit test and a drivers test. If you want to graduate from high school you need to take final exams.  If you want to go to college you need to take entrance exams.  If you want to graduate from college you need to take final exams.  If you want to be come a nurse, a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a veterinarian, fire fighters, police officers, a construction worker, a plumber, an auto mechanic, a computer programmer, a secretary, even an athletic trainer you will need to take some type of test to become certified in that field.  You need to know how to read, write and do math.  In every day life you need to know those skills.  And I know some teacher family and friends are going to hate me for this but teachers too need to be tested and graded by their students test results.  In most jobs you take tests regularly to advance in your field and even to keep your job.  Teachers should not be an exception.

A few years ago I compared the "Opt Out Movement" to "breast feeding."  Some people got very offended by that statement.  All I was saying is that there are 2 sides to the both and each side thinks the other side is crazy and wrong.  The "Opt Out" parents and the "breast feeding" moms are very judgey of the people who have their kids take the test much like the moms who bottle feed.  When in fact it's your right to have your own opinion, just dont' shove it in my face. 

By writing this, I'm not trying to shove my opinion in any ones face, it's just that time of year again and it got me thinking again.  Especially because my youngest is in 7th grade now, and came home insisting that she was going to "Opt Out" of the state test.  I of course told her, "no, our family doesn't opt out," and continued to explain to her what I said above.  You can't opt out of life.

Parent for Student vs. Education Today

Parent for Student vs. Education Today

There is an amazing filmmaker, speaker, activist, his name is Prince EA. (Click here to see who Prince EA is.)  He speaks of truth, love, kindness and so much more. He is an inspiration.  The Oola Guys say, “you are designed by God for a purpose.“ (Click here to see what Oola is.) Prince AE and the Oola Guys are truly living their purpose.   My goal is to help my children find and live their purpose.

I was introduced to the work of Prince AE by my 17 year old daughter, Emily.  His messages are very strong and leave lasting impressions. My daughter struggles putting her thoughts into words, but when she does her thoughts are profound.  She has an amazing mind.  She has always been disregarded as shy and quiet. When in fact her mind is not shy and quiet, but it is hard for her to put her thoughts into words. She is a junior Amsterdam High School, in Amsterdam, NY.  She is working on her Girl Scout Gold Award Project.  Her project stemmed from a writing she did a year ago, it was about school one day when she was extremely frustrated. Teachers have always said “she’s just shy."  I always had a feeling that she had more of a struggle then just shyness. She gets excellent grades all year on classwork, homework and in school tests, but any standardized type test since 3rd grade she would fail. The breaking point for her and us as parents was last year during our nightly battle at the table doing homework.  Whenever she would say she didn't understand we would try to help her and then tell her to ask her teachers for help.  Well on that particular day when she in fact did ask for help from a teacher the response was, "I don't understand why you don't understand," at that point Emily shut down, deciding to never ask that teacher for help again.  After discussion about the frustration we decided to get an educational evaluation.  It turns out she has a processing delay and test anxiety. So in fact she does struggle to put her thoughts into words and the professionals agree.  As a result of having her tested she can now get extra time and a separate location when taking tests.  She has showed some improvement, but still not where she wants to be and now is realizing the bigger part to it, test anxiety.

When I watched Prince AE’s video last week, "Teacher vs. Student," I got a lump in my throat, it was very emotional for me to watch.  It was as if my daughter had told him her thoughts.  She is that student watching the clock in class, looking for inspiration and creative education. How and where do we as parents get started to make a change? I told my daughter it starts with one voice, and that voice can be hers. By sharing the video, finishing her Gold Project, getting teachers and administrators to think outside the box, outside the classroom hopefully we can make change.

Her project is an outdoor classroom and an adventure club at the high school.  (click here to see her the blog for her project, still in progress) The idea is to get teens outside, off their phones and experiencing the world around them.  Her writing is there that got it all started.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Summer Reflections 2018

Another summer is over time to reflect once again.  I better post this before you know it summer will be here again.  The kids are growing up, becoming more real.  Some day soon they will fly out of the nest and have to be real adults. My goal is that they will have enough childhood memories of summers to take with them.

End of year band concerts, kayaking with Girl Scouts, soccer games, Amy got the first in Pool Award, Father's Day,  pool with cousins, Exchange Student from Spain arrives

1st Week at Camp Fowler for Emily, July Exchange student arrives, Sunsets at the bridge, 4th of July & Fireworks, Hike to Abandoned Factory, Night time Bridge walks, NY State Museum, Lake George Village, Kayaking with Cousins, Re-make picture with cousins at park, tennis camp, Kayaking with Exchange students and host families, day at the beach, Great Escape, kayaking with Alex, Jumpin' Jack's, Good-bye to cousins and exchange students, Sunday worship at Camp Fowler

Tall Pines for a week, searching for waterfalls, river fun with cousins and friends, Creative collages, tiny frog, diving board, BIG rocks, suspension bridge, campfire, s'mores, 2nd and 3rd weeks at Camp Fowler for Emily, week at Camp Fowler for Amy, Sunflower field, Glimmerglass, kayaking with friends, Got our own kayaks,  night away and kayaking with Ken, Sunday worship at Camp Fowler

Friday, March 22, 2019

Update on Me and a Change of Plans

Update on Me and a Change of Plans

So, last February I started on a new life journey to find and live my Oola Life.  This isn't something that just happens after you read the 1st book, "Oola, Find Balance in an Unbalanced World" or after you read the 2nd book, "Oola for Women: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World- How to the 7 Key Areas of Life."    Life is an ever changing journey and adventure.  Living your Oola Life isn't always going to be easy, there will be many obstacles to overcome along the way.  Just like the saying goes, "don't put all your eggs in one basket,"  don't just focus on one area of your life.  You need balance in all 7 areas: faith, fitness, family, friends, fun, finance and field, in order to truly find Oola.

In early October I met the Oola Guys, Dr. Dave & Dr. Troy, (Click here to find out what Oola is) at a Young Living Rally, in Rochester, NY. (Click here to find out what Young Living is)
 My husband and I went away for the weekend with out the kids.  It was a much needed get away, just the two of us, and definitely not long enough.  Before we went to the Rally we walked along Lake Ontario.  Even though it was windy and a little over cast, when we got out of the car the skies cleared and it was beautiful.

When I met them I was totally freaking out with nerves and excitement.  Just thinking about it brings me back.  They are 2 awesome guys.  I got hugs, they signed my books and I got my picture with them.  I also gave them 100 dreams that I had collected for "The Heather Project."  You can see by my red face how nervous I was to meet them (Dr. Dave is holding the dream stickers in his hand in the picture below.)

Well last year I was really working on balancing my life.  I was loving exercising for the first time ever in my life. I loved it so much so that when I was working on fitness, I was also working on friends, family and fun.  I tried kickboxing last year and loved it, I still do.  This has now become an obstacle I need to overcome.  In late October I began having bad pain behind my knee, and calf.  I was back and forth to the doctors, with an ultrasound, an x-ray, MRI and getting physical therapy.  First they checked to see if I had blood clot, NOPE.  Then I was diagnosis with a Baker's Cyst behind my knee.  Well the pain and swelling got worse and I went back to the doctor.  This time they said that they cyst probably ruptured and that was causing the pain and the swelling.  I was told to rest, ice, use compression and elevate.  Because of the pain my blood pressure was elevated over all of these appointments and they told me I needed to go on medication for high blood pressure.  Needless to say I can't do kickboxing anymore.  I felt awful and was depressed, which turned me back to bad habits of not healthy snacks.  Eventually when my leg started feeling better I tried a few times going back to kickboxing with alternative exercises, only to be in pain the next few days.  One step forward, two steps back.  I gained more than half of what I lost back.  But thru it all there is one thing I haven't gone back to and that is coffee.  So the weight I lost from giving up coffee and switching to tea with nothing in it, has stayed off.
About a month ago I tried kickboxing again and ended up at urgent care the next day, in excruciating pain and not able to put weight on my leg.  The doctor went over my last MRI with me but this time he told me something that the doctor in November never mentioned.  In addition to a minor meniscus tear and arthritis, I have NO CARTILAGE left in my knee.  He said the only thing he could offer me was a cortisone shot, so I took it.   I am feeling better than I was but I still have days of pain and stiffness and probably always will.  I don't know what the future holds for my knee exactly but I will not let it take over, I will overcome.  Today is the first day to turn things around, the winds of change have blown into my life, my adventure is just going to make a slight turn and adjustment.  I will keep working on getting my Oola Life, because I am worth it.  As the Oola Guys say, "I am designed by God for greatness and a purpose."

So my wheel is off balance right now, and I have to slow down a little but it will not stop me.  I will keep trying new things to find balance in my life.  I will continue watching the Oola Guys videos.  I signed up to be part of the focus group to review their next book coming out in July, "Oola for Christians."  And even though the doctor said I can't do kickboxing any more, I'm not giving up on me.  I did it before I can do it again.  I will loose weight and get feeling better.  #oolalife #liveoola

It's been a's time

It's been a's time
by Laura L. Brittain

It's been a while...
It's been a while since I've logged in.
It's been a while since I've written.
Thoughts race thru my mind all the time
I need to get back to into the grind
Time to get back to me
and work on artsyBE
Time to work on my purpose
Time to live a life of gratitude
Time to write done the thoughts racing thru my mind
Time to share my visions
it's time

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