Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Asian Destiny

A while back Chik-Fil-A was giving out Chinese language CDs in their kid’s meals. Saylah was all over this CD and went to bed nearly every night for months and months listening to Chinese. Which was a win win for us. Get her to go to bed easily and hope some foreign language skills seep in while she’s slumbering away.

Well, this was probably two years ago if I had to take a guess and to this day she still remembers a few choice words in Chinese and has a real keen interest in the subject. Which is somewhat annoying to me as I’ve also taught them bits of Japanese and we’ve even had Japanese exchange students visit us and become part of our family, yet her interest still seems to be stronger in the Chinese culture over the Japanese culture.

With her consistent love for the Chinese culture, Saylah has recently discovered that many of her possessions are “made in China.” It was super funny and pretty darn cute, I have to admit, when she exclaimed to me last week, “Mommy! Every thing I have is made in China!”

She is convinced it’s her good fortune that she “keeps getting stuff made in China.” I simply don’t have the heart to break it to her that Mommy and Daddy just buy a lot of cheap stuff. ;)  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Those Girls Who Aren't Technically Mine

For those of you who don’t know, I take claim to a group of girls who I absolutely adore and would certainly give my right arm too, should they ask. I simply love these eight precious young ladies who’ve touched my heart, and in many cases, opened my eyes. Though they are not technically mine, they certainly have become an important part of my story. 

You see, for the last nine years I’ve had the honor and privilege to serve as a Girl Scout leader to teen girls. Call me a glutton for punishment or an odd bird, but I really enjoy hanging out with teenagers. They are fun, witty, ridiculously intelligent and often push me to the edge of sanity ;). But they are worth it.

It all started back when I was way younger … and way cooler than I am today … for sure. I had this cock-a-may-me notion that if I worked with teen girls in Scouts I could show them by example that cool people could also be a Scout. (Yes I realize this was a stretch calling myself cool, but hey, I can live in my own world if I’d like, thank you very much. ;)) I had been in Girl Scouts through my senior year of high school, and I deeply believe that if it were not for the leadership opportunities and skills I had through this organization, I would not have been able to cultivate the leadership abilities I possess today, nor would I have been able to seek and snag the opportunities I’ve had thus far in my wonderfully fulfilling life.

I’m no dummy. I realize the general teen populace does not consider Girl Scouts cool. Heck, it may surprise you that many adults don’t either. But I think it’s an abomination that peer pressure can steal positive opportunities from you and I wanted to offset that any way I could.

So I set my sights to volunteer with the organization as soon as I moved to Florida. Boy was I flabbergasted when I was asked to be a leader. I seriously thought they would let me volunteer a little here or there but had no clue they would ask me to lead my very own troop. I vividly recall calling my mom on the way home, driving down the 408 in my little maroon RAV4, exclaiming, “MOM! I’m going to be a GIRL SCOUT leader! Yes they are going to let me be a LEADER!” I was so excited and so very proud.

Little did I know that when I started this little “let’s inspire girls” endeavor, that they’d be the ones to inspire me. I’ve learned more about being a teen (a handy skill for the three who will some day become those alien beings in my own home), how to lead people, how to let them lead, and how to earn the respect of others. I’ve learned what it really looks like to stand beside your friends who may not be the most accepted among their peers. I’ve seen these girls protect one another, compensate for each other’s shortcomings and lend a helping hand to a stranger struggling. 

They are the hardest working children I’ve ever known. I’ve had one studying at 11 p.m. in the freezing cold for her next AP Exam instead of snuggling up in her warm and inviting sleeping bag while camping. We’ve had discussions about everything from bullying to books and every silly thing in between. I’m thrilled some have come back from college and want to come visit and participate. Many I’ve known since they were five and I’ve seen them grow from annoying (yes annoying) ‘tweens to tolerable and even enjoyable, young adults. Words cannot express how proud I am to serve as their leader and how honored I am that their parents trust me to influence their lives.

And, when I thought I was going to teach them stuff … well, they’ve simply taught me way more. I can’t get over a teen’s tenacity, dedication and commitment capacity. It’s fun to see them dream of adult life and then even more fun to see them take the steps that will get them there. 

I will say though, sometimes I get the upper hand. I secretly smirk at the times when I remind my teens that hard work and a little discomfort is necessary for success … like the time I was the only one to climb the 50 ft. rock wall and ring the bell. Ding. Ding ladies … can you beat that? ;)

I laugh when I recount the enormous diversity we represent. We’re our own little American melting pot micro-society, comprised of young future leaders who are Christians, Muslims, Jews and those without a faith or denomination. They relate through their differences as band kids, orchestra kids, soccer kids, dance kids and drama kids. Those with affluent economic standings stand beside their peers whose families may be struggling to make ends meet and the topic doesn’t even come into consideration. 6th graders through high school seniors laugh, lovingly tease, and teach each other just what it means to better this world hand in hand. Our only children, sister pairings, and kids with siblings at home equally represent what it means to be and act like a true Girl Scout.

In my nine years (and counting) as a teen leader I’m concerned with how much teens go through today. They are asked by their peers to deal with grown up things way too early. They strive to accomplish way more than we were ever asked to accomplish. They know the world competitive market. And their schedules make my life as a writer, consultant, girl scout leader, mother of three, wife and person training for a marathon … quite frankly, look like rest time on the beach. 

I think it’s important for those of us outside of the teenage storm to be mindful to support our community teens. They need grown ups; parents, teachers, friends, youth ministers and neighbors to look out for them; build them up; and offer moral advice without judgment each and every day.

Nine years later, I’ve grown up enough to know I was never really cool, but that my childlike spirit has been just enough to relate to these girls who’ve allowed me to be a mentor, friend and educator.

To date, I’m proud to say I’ve had three girls graduate from Scouts … two of which who earned their Gold Award (the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve) and one who received the Young Woman of Distinction Award from our area Council. I’ve had a majority earn their bronze awards and many working toward their silver. We’ve earned badges, served our community, made new friends, kept the old, had way so much fun, and mentored others. But most importantly, these girls represent what it is to love others despite differences and build one another up so that every girl can become the future leader she was meant to be.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Blog-lacking & New Antics

I’m falling behind. I have subscribed to three of the top blogs in the country to get a better idea of how this blogging thing is supposed to work and it seems they send notes out every three days at the least! So, for all my blogging groupies (ha ha) or to those of you just sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to hear about our newest antics … my apologies for the crickets.

The latest on our front is it seems I MAY be raising slightly sheltered kids … if our recent viewing of The Parent Trap is any indication.

I simply LOVE The Parent Trap. I mean Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills singing Let’s Get Together (yah, yah, yah) rings in my head and brings a smile to my face. So I was stoked when I found it at the library yesterday. I immediately snatched it up in fear that some other mom from my decade would spy it and we’d have a mad dash to get our clutches on the treasured movie. I’m not gonna lie … I may have thrown some elbows should this incident have happened. ;)

I knew that I’d have to probably explain the premise of the movie. The girls have heard of divorce before but they don’t really get it and it’s not a big part of our social circuit. I was a little nervous they’d be distraught over that part, but knew it would be okay.

To my surprise … they didn’t bat an eye at that piece of the plot. However, I’m pretty sure Saylah was entirely put out by the fact that Susan and Sharon (Hayley Mills & Hayley Mills) were going to leave their respective parent and not return to their proper home after camp. Halfway through she looked pointedly at me and said “they are lying Mommy.” She was not amused.

Audrey got stuck on two things. One, she thought the short-haired Hayley was a boy. And two, she told my Mom today when she arrived at my house that “there were two mean kids in the movie.” She was referring to the pranks the girls pulled on each other at camp. I am torn now … laugh at Susan cutting Sharon’s dress or play Ms. Goody-Two-Shoes and point out that’s not proper. If you know me at all … I laughed. Come on, it’s funny. =)

The girls were spot on though when they were aghast at the people smoking. I’m not going to correct that. As long as they think that’s bad for them, the better chance they won’t try when they are old as far as I’m concerned.

If you’re looking for a flash back flick, check this one out again, it is still fabulous! And the ousting of the bride-to-be chick is still funny! Apart from not being able to keep up with who was who, overall the girls enjoyed the movie and Audrey was intrigued by the concept of twins. I didn’t even dive into the fact that it was the same girl. I figured that would totally blow their minds! And I suppose I didn’t scar them too much … Saylah requested to watch it again today … although she did call it The Family Trap. LOL