It’s the little things.

Since last Tuesday, I’ve been working extra long hours to help solve a problem with a system I work on (along with several co-workers).  We had to turn off part of the system as a result of the problem, so we’re working extra hard to get everything back up and running.  I’ve missed my time at home with my kiddos, with the puppy dog and with Uncle Grouchy.

Last week on Tuesday when we discovered the problem, I was at work till after 11 pm.  I missed kissing my kiddos goodnight, and it was even too busy to call.  The next night, we didn’t work quite so late, so I got home early enough to see them before bedtime.  I was exhausted, just happy to be home, and looking forward to some dinner.  The girls and Poppy Cotton all met me at the door.  Poppy was bouncing around like Tigger and the girls enveloped me in a big hug. After such a long day, it felt great to be welcomed home like that.

They had spent part of that evening before I got home making me a bracelet, which they gave me after the group hug. They used beads and charms from our shared stash of beading supplies.  They had braided together three strands of embroidery floss in my favorite colors and attached the beads and charms they thought I’d like as they braided. They told me it would help me think about them while I was working.

I wore it for the rest of the week…and they were right.  I was missing them while I was at work, putting in long hours, but it made me think of them whenever I noticed it on my wrist. Somehow, they knew exactly what I needed to help me through the week.  I’m still wearing it this week, as we continue working longer-than-usual hours to solve the problem. Hopefully we’ll be able to implement the solution soon and I’ll be able to go back to my regular schedule. Till then, I’ll be wearing my fancy new bracelet, and thinking of how lucky I am to have the two of them at home waiting for me.

Tinker Crate

For Christmas last year, we got the girls subscriptions for Kiwi Crates – the Tinker Crate for Molly and the Doodle Crate for Megan. They look forward to receiving the box of crates every month (they come packaged together) and can’t wait to see what the next project is going to be.

First, a little info on what it’s all about: The Kiwi Crate brand offers several monthly subscription boxes with educational themes targeted at different age groups.  They offer Cricket, Koala and Kiwi Crates for younger age groups (8 and under); Tinker and Doodle Crates are for kids ages 9 and up. Tinker Crates have mechanical and/or science related projects and the Doodle Crates have more involved art projects.  The kits come with almost everything the kids need to complete the project, plus supplemental information and additional project ideas to further their experience.  The only things they leave out are what you’re sure to have at home…scissors, water, etc. Megan’s last Doodle Crate even came with a hole punch!

Each kit comes in a cute and sturdy box decorated like a crate. Molly stores her projects in these after she’s done with them and some projects use the box as part of the base.

The project in Molly’s Tinker Crate this month was Fiber Optic Stars. She got out the instructions and set up all her pieces to get to work.  The instructions are really easy to follow, they’re illustrated, and she can usually follow them completely on her own.  They also offer videos on their website for some of the trickier bits like the wiring for this kit does (incidentally, she didn’t need it, but it’s nice to know it’s there in case she did!)

Hard at work on her project. The stand for the LED light was well labeled and showed exactly where all the parts went. Assembling the foam board with the fiber optic strands looked like fun.

I love that she got to practice building a circuit and learn about constellations in one project!  And she loved that the project was also simple enough occupy her for the space of a rainy afternoon (it did require a bit of drying time for some glue). The kit even came with enough extra supplies that she can make another constellation from the templates or make up her own design some other time.

Molly chose to make the Leo the Lion constellation. Here she is with the finished product.

If you’d like to purchase a Tinker (or other) Crate subscription for a special kiddo in your life, you can do that here. Using this link should give you a $10 discount on any subscription and will also give us a credit to use on future purchases.

More than just cookies

When I tell people I’m a Girl Scout leader, the first thing they ask is “Can I get some Thin Mints?” But Girl Scouting is SO much more than selling cookies.  The girls learn about all kinds of topics through badges – from cooking to camping, from government to jewelry.  They do community service projects, big and small.  Every few years our local Girl Scout Council chooses a big topic to focus on and offer programming about.  This year, it’s all about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  As you might have guessed, that is right up my alley.

They had Legos set up at each seat for the girls to play with while waiting for the day to begin.

Over the weekend my Girl Scout troop went to a STEM Day hosted at Harrisburg University. It was planned by a Senior Girl Scout as her Gold Award project. The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. I was so impressed with the quality of programming organized by a girl who’s still in high school! It was a full day of half-hour sessions about lots of different STEM fields including Physics, Chemistry, 3D printing, Forensics, Computer Programming and more. The sessions were led by students and teachers from the University whose majors were related to the session topics.

Top: The day’s schedule and a clay model of a hand the girls made when learning about 3D printing. Bottom: Watching a 3D printer do it’s thing. And directions for how to make a cake, to demonstrate how you have to plan before creating a computer program.

The girls had a blast. During the sessions they were engaged and asking great questions. At the end of each session, they wanted to know what was next. They wanted to know more about the topics and have access to the technology they saw and used during the sessions. But most importantly they heard over and over that they can and should consider further study of these fields and maybe someday working in them. And that they can thrive in these fields by bringing that special something that only they can bring to the table.

Top: Learning about Electricity with ballons and the Van Der Graph machine. Bottom: Doing a chemistry experiment with milk, food coloring and checking about the chemistry lab.

In addition to the great content in the workshops, the Harrisburg University facilities were impressive. The university occupies several upper floors in a building in downtown Harrisburg.  Everything was modern and new.  It was open and airy and there was great light.  There were inspirational quotes everywhere.  It *almost* made me want to go back to college to study something, anything, just to be able to spend more time in their awesome space.

Playing old school Pac Man, investigating a “crime scene”, and building robots.

These types of events are one of the reasons I continue to be involved in Girl Scouting. I know these girls have bright futures. Big dreams. Amazing ideas. And I want to make sure they have all the tools they need to accomplish those dreams and make those ideas happen.

My favorite quote we saw on the walls of Harrisburg University.

Always watching

Like I said in my “Hello World!” post last week, I’ve been considering starting a new blog for a while. My old one had bad links and wasn’t relevant to the things I wanted to write about.   A friend of mine recently started a blog with some of her friends and talking to her about their experiences  made me want even more to start blogging again. Hi Megan – thanks for the unintentional push!

So last weekend I decided to go for it: I set up my new blog, worked on getting it to look like I wanted and wrote my first post.  There were moments of frustration and grumbling when the template I just spent 2 hours customizing didn’t support something I wanted to do.  And when I broke down and changed the style sheet to fix it and the page still didn’t look how I wanted it to look.  Uncle Grouchy to the rescue with the advice to do a Hard Refresh to make the browser go get the new style sheet. Oops…sorry for the slip into technobabble.  Anyway, in addition to the frustration, there were lots of “aha” moments, where it did work and I got excited about it coming together.  And when I published my first post and I wondered “Will anyone even read this?”

No one sat here next to me, watching my every move. The girls would pass through the living room, briefly ask what I was working on, peek for a moment, and then move on. Even though they didn’t really seem to pay a lot of attention or have any interest (because what tween or teen really wants to read her mom’s blog about mom stuff?) apparently they noticed all the same.

My oldest daughter asked to start her own blog yesterday.  So we have been working on setting it up. And by “we” I mean I did a new WordPress install for her and gave her a 2 minute tour of how to do stuff. Then she want off and customized it and started writing her first post. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she creates.  She likes to do art. And write short stories. She has a really fun-to-read writing style. A little quirky and very conversational.  And she has good ideas. Great vocabulary due to reading mountains of books.  Smart kid that one. I’ll share if she decides to make it public.

With two girls at the ages of 11 and 14, we have lots of challenging moments around here.  Sometimes I feel like they don’t appreciate what I do or even notice me at all. It felt pretty cool for her to want to do something like me.  And it was a good reminder that even when they’re not really watching and listening…they are.

Scroll To Top