Starting the Girl Scout Journey

I have fond memories of Girl Scouts from when I was young.  From Brownies up to Cadette I did crafts, earned badges, did crafts, ate snack, did crafts….  It was fun but by the time I was a Cadette in junior high I was pretty bored of doing crafts and being on my own if I wanted to do anything else.

With Steve being a die hard Boy Scout there wasn’t really a question on if Rose would start Girl Scouts as soon as she was old enough.  With a vision of years of craft projects running through my head (and a small amount of dread), I started to research what it is to be a Girl Scout in the modern era (not that I was a GS back in the dark ages but it was *cough cough* 25 years ago).  Imagine my happiness when I found out that the Girl Scouts have made a huge effort the past few years to move away from the weekly crafts and focus on actually preparing our girls to be the leaders of the future.

Taken from the Girl Scout Website:

A girl Discovers her special skills and talents, finds the confidence to set challenging goals for herself and strives to live by her values. This includes being proud of where she came from as well as where she’s going.

A girl Connects with others, which means she learns how to team up, solve conflicts, and have healthy relationships. These skills help her in school right now and prepare her for any career she chooses in the future.

A girl Takes Action and makes the world a better place, learning a lot about her community and the world along the way.

How cool is that?  I’m starting to read more and more articles about the Girl Scouts working to do many of the things that have made the Boy Scouts such a successful organization and then some.  Not only are they working with top executive women to publicize how the Girl Scouts helped them as children (think the Eagle Scout network) but have put a huge effort in to incorporating more outdoor skill and a STEM curriculum (a field close to my own heart).

Rose has now been a Daisy for almost 7 months now and still looks forward to every meeting.  Of course at her age, many of the activities that we do are centered around crafts but all have a purpose towards teaching them about respect, caring, and being better people.  Just this last week they learned all about being resourceful to keep the planet healthy.  I’m proud of my little Girl Scout and can’t wait to see where the journey takes her.

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Disneyland through the eyes of a 5 year old

BC (before kids) I always told myself I wouldn’t take MY kids to Disneyland before they were at least 7.  I didn’t want to “waste money” when they most likely wouldn’t remember it.  Then I had kids.  When Rose was 3.5 and Evelyn was 6 months we took a family trip to Disneyland.  It was fun and Rose enjoyed it but she was still a little young to really get the true magic of the park.  After that, I figured it would be at least 5 years before we went again since then Evelyn would be tall enough to go on all the rides and Rose would be more then old enough to remember it.

Wellllll, then a few months ago my parents mentioned that they wanted to take Rose.  And the more I thought about it the more I couldn’t bring myself to send her down without me.  I had to be there to witness her reactions to her first full size roller coaster (she was tall enough to go on all but 1).  Steve stayed home with Evelyn, bless his heart.  Evelyn at 2.5 is old enough to know what Sissy is getting to go on that and she doesn’t plus would have to be carried/pushed most of the time.  Turned out to be a good thing anyway as they both came down with separate cold/flu bugs while we were gone.

So I don’t know if Rose will remember much about her day at the Happiest Place on Earth but I will never forget the joy and happiness on her face as she experienced everything.  My little roller coaster queen begged to go on the fasted roller coasters over and over.  She laughed along with the guide on the Jungle Cruise.  She marveled at the animatronics on Pirates of the Caribbean.  She stopped to watch every street performance.  She sat open mouthed as the Small World floated past.  Worth. Every. Penny.  I wish that we could have spent more time there.  Or better yet, afforded to stay at the Disney hotel.  At a 5 year old pace, we really only saw 1/2 the park and we were there all day.

As an adult, Disneyland is a fun place.  As a 5 year old, Disneyland is magic.

The Jungle Cruise is hilarious to a 5 year old.

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Fun STEM Books for young Girls: I am Amelia Earhart

I found I am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer at the library completely organically.  I was walking out of the children’s section with Me…Jane in my arms (that’s a separate blog post) and just happened to notice the name Amelia Earhart on the spine of a book at eye level.  Imagine my delight when I pulled it out and saw that it was a children’s book on the life of Amelia Earhart from her perspective as a child.  To put it mildly, this book is awesome.
wpid-20150101_184456.jpgSeriously, how can you not be inspired by that?  Rose thought the idea of having a parade thrown for you was pretty cool, I loved the words.

Awwww.  How can you not love this?
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I had fun explaining the engineering behind the roller coaster she built (way to reduce the friction with grease Amelia!).  I also expanded on the themes of her learning to fly with a discussion on the technology she needed to learn (simplified for a 5 year old of course).
wpid-20150101_185701.jpgRose was entertained by this book, a large part of which was the great illustrations that are very kid friendly.  It was great that Amelia was illustrated as a kid through the whole book.  I think it helped her identify with the character better.  More than having to imagine herself as an adult, Rose got to see the KID doing all this cool adult stuff.

2014 12 21_3056I would recommend this book for any adventurous girl you want to inspire or one that you want to inspire to be adventurous.  You never know where that adventure may lead.

“Why I review” and a disclaimer:

This post is a continuation on my series of book reviews of children’s book which emphasize topics in the STEM field that would be interesting to young girls.  It started when I had difficulty finding STEM related children’s books that weren’t obviously written for boys.  Most had only male main characters or even only male characters period. My girls had a hard time identifying with them.  Thus, this blog series was born.  The opinions in these blogs are purely my own.  Well, really they are my girls opinions.  Either they like them or they wander off half way through the book.   We’ve read an ever growing number of these books and quite a few bore them or turn out to be subtly sexist (those “disappear”).

The links to Amazon are affiliate links which means I get a few pennies if you end up ordering the books.  These pennies are used for… more books. 🙂

If some random link on the internet brought you to this post and you want to learn about other awesome STEM books for young girls that the girls and I love try these posts:

Rosie Revere, Engineer

Going Places

Me…Jane

Violet the Pilot

For a huge list of books to inspire, try the A Might Girl site.

Know of other STEM books that are age appropriate for the younger girls?  Let me know!  I’m always looking.

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The Gingerbread Man and his Tree

Rose and Evelyn made Gingerbread Men and Trees for their Aunts and Uncles for Christmas this year.  A few days later, I started to receive this series of texts from “Mr. Gingerbread Man and his sidekick Tree” via their Aunt Karen.  This had me laughing out loud at work and constantly checking me phone for each new one.  The girls thought it was funny although Rose was a little worried about Mr. Gingerbread Man until she figured out it was Karen who was slowly eating him.  🙂  I had to share since it reminds me of Mr. Bill from SNL.

Dear Rose and Evelyn,

Hello from Mr. Gingerbread Man and his sidekick, Tree.  We were walking through the forest and saw a bear.

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I went to pet the bear, and he attacked me!  He bit off my arm!

wpid-img_20141229_112353_530.jpgWe went to visit our friends at the North Pole.  It was so cold; it made our decorations fall off!

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We climbed a tree but….

wpid-img_20141229_140434_467.jpgIt was icy, so we slipped.  I broke my leg and Tree broke a branch.

wpid-imagejpeg_0.jpgWe were taking a nap, when a hungry lion snuck in and ate part of us!

wpid-imagejpeg_08.jpgTalk about a nightmare.

888After our terrible nap experience, we decided to warm up by the fire, but…..

wpid-imagejpeg_09.jpgWe got too close to the flame.  Lost another limb and branch.

wpid-imagejpeg_045.jpgWe visited our friends in a galaxy far, far away, but…

wpid-img_20141229_173950_641.jpgWe didn’t know Darth Vader would turn to the Dark Side. We also didn’t know he loves gingerbread cookies.

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We decided to go far a relaxing time in the hot tub after all our adventures.

wpid-img_20141229_174813_594.jpgTree went in first, and I never saw him again.wpid-img_20141229_175001_726.jpgI decided to swim in and look for him.

wpid-img_20141229_175145_058.jpgIt was the last thing I ever did.

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Aunt Karen just wanted to say thank you for my delicious and beautifully decorated cookies.  Thanks for being so kind and thoughtful nieces!  I love you both.

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Darn Darn Darn Darny-Darn!

It’s taken me a year since I first started this journey to write about this. Well, it was going on a lot longer than that but it’s been a year since I have been actively trying to figure out what’s up.

It started last November when my right pointer finger started getting stiff. It had bugged me off and on for a few years but never badly. I just attributed it to over use during hoof trimming (when it usually hurt). Thing is, this time, my middle finger started to get a stiff a few weeks later. I went to the doc and she stated that I had tendonitis after 2 minutes of looking at my hand and gave me Meloxicam for the inflammation.

So I Google doctored myself and tried everything under the sun to get my “tendonitis” to improve. I even went as far as to splint the two fingers together and type/mouse with my left hand for a day or so. By the end of the second day using my left hand more, the pointer and middle finger of that hand started to hurt. Went back to the doc and once again, she said it was tendinitis. Really?? I walked out of the office with another prescription for a narcotic this time (no thanks) and decided it was time to do some of my own investigation. Back to Google I went!

After a long trip down the rabbit hole that is Google diagnosing, the thing I kept coming back to time and again was arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis to be exact. I sent an email to the doc and she agreed to approve some blood tests to investigate.

A week later I had my answer. No huge red flags but my Rheumatoid Factor was just over on the positive side. Humph. The doc agreed that it was time for a more expert opinion and I was referred to a Rheumatologist who sent me for yet more blood tests. This time, another type of test called the cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) came back very high. Like off the charts high. While my outward appearance was calm, this was what was going on inside my head:

The Rheumatologist prescribed me Methotrexate (a low dose chemo drug) and I’m happy to report that my system seems to be taking it ok.  I did switch to the injectable form from the pills and I think it helped with keeping the tummy upset to a minimum.

Now, more then 6 months later the pain in my wrists, knee, shoulder and feet are almost totally gone.  I’m still on a low dose of Meloxicam but otherwise doing well.  My middle fingers are still a bit stiff so I might up the Methotrexate slightly but I can’t complain.  I’m doing pretty darn good compared to a lot of people with this disease.

Long story short, I’m accepting about it all now although sometimes I do want to do a little Unikitty on something:

My Sunday Night Ritual

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A little more about me

I’ve always been curious to know more about what my fellow working moms do for a living so I thought I would expand a bit on the basics described in the About Me page.

What I do when I’m not home being mother/wife/horsewoman:

By trade and training I am a mechanical engineer. More specifically, I use rotor dynamic analysis to determine the potential for or source of existing vibration issues with machinery. In layperson’s terms, I determine why things that rotate (or have internal rotating parts) are shaking and figure out how to make it stop. 🙂

It’s been a rather interesting job over the years. I’ve studied machines that ranged from a reusable space launch vehicle to waste water treatment pumps.  There have been a few long time line projects but most are completed in a few weeks.  I have always like to have an immediate goal so this works well for me (I’m one of those people that takes pleasure in simple things like finishing the last of a jar of peanut butter.  Look I finished it!!  Now on to a new jar!)

I work in a small company.  Like it’s me and my boss and his wife (the office manager) small.  We have some off site people we contract with but I don’t interact with them on an every day basis.  This has it’s good points and bad points.  I’m an introvert so I relish the quiet.  However, it sucks sometimes not to have anyone to complain to about difficult customers or non working analysis.  It also doesn’t lend to making me get out of my comfort zone and socialize.  Thus I have been doing other things like rejoining SWE to make myself actually interact with others.

So there you have it.  That, in a nut shell, is my life for 70% of my waking hours every weekday.

My office reference book stash and engineering toys

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Fun STEM books for young girls: Going Places

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To continue my review of books for young girls that encourage innovation, engineering, and science, this post reviews Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds.  At first, I almost passed this one by (it came up as a suggestion on Amazon) when I read that the main character was a boy (remember this is about empowering girls).  Luckily I read more carefully and saw that he teams up with a girl pretty quickly into the story.

Going Places follows a boy named Rafael who is very excited to build a go cart for his class’s go cart race.  He gets his kit and quickly builds his cart following every step of the instructions.  Proud of himself, he heads next door to see how his neighbor, Maya, is doing with her’s.  To his surprise, he watches as she uses the same material to build a birdlike airplane instead of a car.  Inspired by her creativity, they team up to combine their talents and build an airplane because as Maya says “The box doesn’t say it HAS to be a go cart”.  Of course, they go on to win the race and build many more fun inventions.

I didn’t buy this book (I found it at the library) but it has definitely made it to my wish list.  Rose loved it and was rather traumatized that she had to return it.

What I took away from this book is the fun and benefit of teamwork with innovation.  And not just working with a team, but being open to other people’s  ideas as a way to improve on yours.  Working with other people’s strengths to compliment your own.  And, when it comes to my daughter, not being too bossy and letting others work their ideas into the project as well.

If you do that, you might just invent something cool like a frog submarine.  🙂

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“Why I review” and a disclaimer:

This post is a continuation on my series of book reviews of children’s book which emphasize topics in the STEM field that would be interesting to young girls.  It started when I had difficulty finding STEM related children’s books that weren’t obviously written for boys.  Most had only male main characters or even only male characters period. My girls had a hard time identifying with them.  Thus, this blog series was born.  The opinions in these blogs are purely my own.  Well, really they are my girls opinions.  Either they like them or they wander off half way through the book.   We’ve read an ever growing number of these books and quite a few bore them or turn out to be subtly sexist (those “disappear”).

The links to Amazon are affiliate links which means I get a few pennies if you end up ordering the books.  These pennies are used for… more books. 🙂

More STEM book reviews:

Rosie Revere, Engineer

I am Amelia Earhart

Me…Jane

Violet the Pilot

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The big girl bed and potty training a 2 year old

Rose was relatively easy to potty train.  We took it slow but she was fairly willing to try.  Especially with poop.  She was poop trained by 2.  You know the old adage that Every Child is Different?  No kidding.  Evelyn has definite opinions on when she wants to use the toilet.  No amount of discussion will get her to use it if she doesn’t want to.  We tried the things that worked well with Rose.  Gummies, M&Ms, reading book after book.  Nope.  Sure she will happily take the offered items when she does go in the toilet but the bribes did nothing for her motivation.

After months of trying various things, we have finally found something that has at least a little pull.  Sleeping in the “Big Girl Bed” in the “Big Girl Room” (Rose’s room).  We moved a toddler bed in there a few months ago and she has wanted to sleep there ever since.  So the last few weeks we have been telling her (as she obviously squats in a corner to poop in her diaper) that if she poops on the potty she gets to sleep in Rose’s room.  Finally last weekend it worked.  She got up, moved into the bathroom and pooped right before nap time.  Yay!  Of course, she spent 45 minutes playing in the bed and I finally found her wandering around the room pulling things off shelves by her sleeping sister.  Back to the crib she went!

Then, two nights ago I again reminded her of the prize at the bottom of the toilet and again she chose to use the potty.  This time, with the lights out, she only spend 5 minutes talking and singing before falling asleep.  I had given her lots of warnings about staying in bed and it seemed to work.  When I went in the next morning this is what I found.

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One happy kid.  I have no idea if this will continue to work (the next night she was back in the crib after deciding to use her diaper again) but I have my fingers crossed.  I really want her potty trained before she gets too close to 3.  I remember Rose at 3.  If I think Evelyn is independent and opinionated now, wait until she is a threenager.

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Girls and Legos: Making it Work

You may remember in my Tinker Bell post that I expressed the desire for Tinker Bell themed Legos to encourage my daughter’s creativity.  Since Disney doesn’t seem to have read my post, I thought I would take matters into my own hands.  I found a little fairy* (and a mermaid for good measure) at Target and thought they would fit well to Rose’s creations.

The look on her face was priceless when I pulled them out last night when we went to build with her Legos.  Her imagination immediately went into overdrive and there was soon a lake for the mermaid and a flower garden for the fairy.

I think the smile on her face says it all.

Girls Lego Collection Barbie

It didn’t stop there.  Soon there was this.

Girls Lego Creation 2

And lots of this.  Best. Idea. Ever.

Girls Lego Creation

I can’t wait to see where her imagination takes her.  Time to encourage her to engineer some of the cool devices Tinker Bell creates in her movies.

*I tried to find the fairy and mermaid I bought but Amazon didn’t have the exact one.  This is the same thing but with a Princess, Fairy, Mermaid, and Unicorn. I wish I had seen this one!

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Fairytale Town (the sequel)

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Rose was off with Nana and Papa doing some canoeing so we decided to take Evelyn for some fun of her own.  What better place to take an active 2 year old then Fairytale Town.  We’ve taken her a few times before but usually with Rose and Rose definitely likes to be in charge, to put it mildly.  When she was a temporary “single child”, she just thrived.  All the parent attention was hers!!

She wants to go down a slide?  Sure thing!

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She wants to play on the Little Engine that Could?  Sure thing!

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She wants to walk the Crooked Mile 3 times?  Sure thing!

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She wants to drag her Daddy down a small concrete tube?  Sure thing!

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  Plus, unlimited Daddy back rides! (Isn’t that the cutest thing ever?)

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 Look!  I was there too!

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And no trip to the Land Park area is complete without a Vic’s cheese dog sandwich (and a chocolate shake).

imageIt reminded me of when we took Rose there about the same age.  Same full on, pure happiness that only a 2 year old can have when allowed free rein.

Just to add to the cuteness.  Evelyn in her element.  Tiny and in charge!

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