Jul 14, 2009

Who's Your Twin?

I was at the local donut shop getting coffee this morning. And the daughter of the owner, who has seen me at least once a week for the last year, asked me if I worked at the bank next door. She was in utter shock when I said "no." She swore that I worked there and couldn't get over the fact that it wasn't me.

Reminded me of the numerous times I've been chased at the store or in the mall by individuals calling my name (or "a" name that wasn't mine), swearing that they knew me. Even after catching up and talking to me for a few minutes, they would still not believe I wasn't the person they thought I was.

So, leads to me to believe the old adage of "everyone has a twin somewhere in this world" is TRUE.

Who's my "true twin?" I'd have to say Belinda Carlisle, lead singer of the Go Go's.

OK, so I know we don't really look alike. But stay with me. Here's why I think we're twins.....I am a child of the 80's. All through High School, people told me I looked like Belinda Carlisle. Then, I cut my hair short (molly ringwald in Breakfast Club style...see SILLY photo taken in about '86/'87) and was sort of "mod" (i.e., wearing lots of black). When I cut my hair, I received comments ALL the time that I looked like her. When I went to college, comments continued. And the topper was one time I was at a bar, and a guy I did not know walked by and said "belinda." TRIP!

It's probably because we both have light hair, round faces, chubby cheeks, and high cheek bones.

So, when that many people say you look like her, you're twins...Right? HA!

(By the way, did you notice I haven't changed a bit from my 80's photo to now.... r i g h t ...)

Who's your twin?

Jul 6, 2009

Dangers of RSS Feed into Twitter Account

I'm a victim! First time ever (hee hee).

Recently, I learned through kind followers on Twitter that "inappropriate" links were showing up in my Twitter postings. (very bad bad stuff). At first, I thought my account had been hacked. After further investigation, I learned that my automated RSS feed from my google alert "allintitle: girl scouts" was pulling in XXX information. It happened two or three times in a week, (appalling, I know). I immediately shut down my auto feed and now post updates manually.

Thankfully, those who follow me immediately alerted me to the situation with comments such as "Not your usual feed," "doesn't look like something you'd post," "is everything Ok?".

The moral of the story -- auto feeding is not always the best approach. So be careful.

Thank you to everyone who follows and understands!

5-Finger Behavior Contract

At the beginning of each year, my girl scout troop sets rules and expectations for the year. I learned the 5-Finger "Full Value" method at a Girl Scout training (I believe it's used in outward bound programs as well). Highly effective and the girls enjoy doing it. To find more "full value" contract ideas, just google "5-finger contract" or "full value contract."

5-Finger "Full Value" Contract

Large piece of paper (tape a few together if you need)

1) Each girl traces their hand on the piece of paper, side-by-side in a "friendship" circle.

2) INSIDE THE CIRCLE -- the girls write all the things we ask of each other such as selling cookies, positive attitude, safety, cleaning up, rules, attend meetings, wear sash, say hello whenever we see each other etc. Commitments should apply inside AND out of school.

3) OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE -- the girls write all the things that we keep OUT of troop - such as put downs, negativity, disrespect.
  • Agreement for inside and outside circle should fulfill the five categories: Physical & Emotional Safety; Participation/Commitment; No Put-Downs or Negatives; Taking Responsibility for Personal Actions; Celebrate Efforts
  • Modify categories for your troop/group
4) DISCUSS -- each girl has to agree to EVERYTHING written on the paper. If they can't agree to it, then discuss as a troop whether or not it should be listed.

5) Girls discuss consequences of not fulfilling contract and agree.

6) If everyone agrees, they sign their hand as a binding contract.

7) Bring contract to every meeting. I take a picture of it and print for their Troop binders.

This is a powerful activity to open conversation with the troop. The first time I did it, we wrote "everyone has to say HI to each other -- whether at school or at sports -- no matter who we are with." Surprising, this was hard for some girls. And surprising, some of the more "popular" girls found this hard. It was eye-opening for the others to know that even those who seem to have it all can be shy. But they discussed and all agreed to do it. It has made a huge difference in the respect levels w/in my troop.

The Spider Web of Friendship

Traditions are an important way to build connection with a group of people or an organization. In college, I was an Alpha Phi -- our traditions included ceremonies, songs, and handshakes. To this day, when I see my sorority sisters, we reminisce about the traditions we shared that only we knew about.

I wanted to share a tradition of my Girl Scout Troop 31621. (reposted for the Friendship Book).


SUPPLIES: a ball of yarn

Have group sit in a circle.

  • Leader begins.
  • Hold onto the end of the yarn and unravel enough yarn so you can throw the ball across the circle to another girl.
  • Each girl passes the ball of yarn to another girl across the circle while holding on, creating a big spider web.
  • Create a theme so as each girl passes the ball the to the next girl, they need to say something positive. For example:
    --What I admire most about you is....
    --What I learned about you this weekend is...
    --Why I enjoy being with you is....
    --The leadership quality you most posess & why is....
    --You are the example of a good Girl Scout because....
    --Have them pass to someone they don't know and say, "I'd like to get to know you better because...."
  • As the girls get older, I set rules that they can't say "nice" or "pretty" as a comment. They need to try harder.
  • When everyone has passed the ball, hold on for a few minutes and reflect. Reflect on you day's activities together. Tell the girls that in order for the spider web to be strong, everyone must hold tight. If one girl lets go, it will crumble. This is why we need a strong troop with strong participation (we don't want a crumbling web...). Give the girls an opportunity to reflect as well.
  • To unravel, everyone can drop the web gently -- then roll up the ball. OR, take it as an opportunity to pass the ball in reverse, winding it as you go and giving opportunity for the girls to comment back to those who passed them the ball.
I started the Spider Web tradition as Daisies after a meeting. Then we introduced it in First Grade during our first campout before lights out. Now, the girls ask for it every year! It's been very special and I hope they will always remember it!

Jun 30, 2009

Wow. Nothing!

I realized I have not posted since June 14th. So I'm sitting here trying to think about what to post and I draw a blank. Is it due to lack of creativity? Is it due to the fact that there isn't anything annoying me or new or overly exciting? I think it's because things are just "good" right now.

That's right -- life is good. Kids are healthy. Family is (mostly) healthy. What else is there?

Sometimes, when things are at par, we fail to think things are exciting. I'm taking this moment to remind myself that "par" is exciting. If this was golf, and we hit every hole at par, we'd be thrilled. Why aren't we as thrilled with life at par? Maybe because par can seem boring in life. Maybe because par means "everday" in life.

I'm here to announce --- PAR IS GOOD!

So if you ever find life is boring, uneventful or not exciting, think about it -- is life at par? If so, this is good.

Jun 14, 2009

An example of what the world has come to....

I have decided to treat my 10 y/o daughter to her first concert. After-all, Miley Cyrus is touring this summer. What better way to begin? (Unlike my first concert -- Andy Gibb at the Concord Pavilion. I was 9. Went with friends. We were on the lawn and I brought my holly hobby sleeping bag to keep warm. Ahhhh, memories).

I asked daughter if she would like to go and the answer was, "Yes yes yes!!!!" I called her friend and friend's mom and they are both on board as well. So, we're all set. Just need to get the tickets.

Who knew that buying tickets would be SUCH A CHORE!!!!!!

Take a look at this challenge (thankfully, I lived through it).

6/8 - found out about the concert. Called friends, they are on board as well. Unfortunately, ticket sales go as follows (very deflating):

  • MileyWorld.com Presale Mon, 06/08/09 10:00 - Tue, 06/09/09 NOTE: COSTS $30 TO JOIN MILEY WORLD, WHICH GIVES YOU ACCESS TO THE PRESALE
  • American Express Presale Wed, 06/10/09 -Fri, 06/12/09
  • Onsale to General Public Sat, 06/13/09 10:00 AM
6/10-6/12 - I start searching for American Express pre-sale tickets. Honestly, the seats were NOT THAT GREAT. So I decided to wait until the general sale to see if I can get better seating

6/13 - logon at 10am sharp to ticketmaster to begin searching for tix. NOT THAT GREAT. So I call ticketmaster. Apparently, gone is the day when you can try to get good seats. They can NOT tell me what seats are available. They can simple say "here's best available -- take or leave." And while I searched online at the same time as the rep searched, I was getting a few rows closer than him. RIDICULOUS.

3 hours later -- still searching. but the same sections/same rows keep coming up. Finally, I broke down and just bought the darn tickets. They aren't horrible. But not what I wanted.

6/14 - day after bought tickets. Went on to tickemaster and the same rows/sections were popping up again. WHAT IS WITH THIS?

I find it a SHAME that we can no longer aspire to obtain good tickets. Yet, through a google search, I found a slew of ticket "agencies" with awesome seats...for $385 each. RIDICULOUS.

Thanks to scalpers and "agencies", tickemaster is forced to put these crazy seating controls in place. So the average person who wants to enjoy a good concert is no longer able to.

If anyone has tips on how to get through this system, please share. There is no reason we should all suffer like this. Some of my greatest memories are front row at a favorite concert. I want my children to grow up with the joy of music -- and being close shows that "rock stars" are just people.

What's an average joe (or joanie) to do????

Jun 11, 2009

Cute Daisy Chain Beanie Hat

Found this really cute crochet pattern for a daisy chain beanie hat. Think I'll make them for my girl scout troop for our next camporee...only add ear flaps and "braid" ties (the new thing).

View the pattern

Top Chef Takes on Girl Scouts

Thanks to BoyandGirlScouts.com for posting this update for us:


I LOVE Top Chef and am excited that the Girl Scouts were on last night. Darn. I missed it. Will have to DVR it for the weekend.

Who saw it???

Jun 9, 2009

Wicked is "wicked"

I went to see Wicked at the Orpheum in San Francisco this weekend. It was INCREDIBLE -- for a couple reasons.

The story and the performance was great. If you haven't seen it yet, Wicked provides background on how the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz becomes "wicked" and how Glinda the Good Witch becomes "good." The dynamics of the two girls from start to end was very interesting and loads of fun.

PLUS, Wicked gives background on how some of the characters from Oz came to exist. SO COOL! I could see it again...and again....and again.

My 10 y/o daughter attended with me and the storyline ended up providing us the start of a discussion about caring, kindness, and popularity. Who knew!

I attended with my daughter, mother and grandmother. We took BART into the city. And made a day of it. Whenever you can spend time with 4 generations, it's a good day!

Everyone should check out WICKED!

Jun 4, 2009

Planning for October....Already?

I know it's only June but I'm already planning for our annual Girl Scout Fall Retreat in October. (I know...I need a vacation).

Surprisingly, the Fall Retreat concept came from my days in college in the sorority. We got together at the beginning of each year and went to a cabin out of town (typically in La Honda) and spent the weekend team building, calendar planning and goal setting. And of course, bonding.

I have carried this concept over to my Girl Scouts -- seemed logical. I recommend you consider it as well.

We began our Fall Retreat tradition as 2nd grade Brownies at Camp Twin Canyons in Lafayette. Each and every year, my girls look forward to it.

Here are some tips:

1) Go cabin camping -- might be a little more expensive but it's easier on set up with less gear to haul so you can spend the weekend bonding versus outdoor camping.
  • Did you know Girl Scouts owns and operates many campgrounds in the U.S. Here's a link to those in Northern CA. We have camped at Twin Canyons in Lafayette and Butano Creek. Both were terrific with good hiking, clean cabins. Butano is right near the beach so we spent 2 days tide pooling, chasing waves and visiting Pigeon Point Lighthouse. I am definitely not an expert tide pooler so no worries if you don't know what you are doing -- they seem to figure it out!
2) Set a theme for the weekend -- and have the girls plan food & activities that tie in with the theme

3) Keep it simple -- the point is to bond and set goals for the year. We save the "outdoor camp" experience for the spring

4) Have team building games & simple crafts ready to go. Each year, I introduce a new version of a friendship bracelet for downtime.

5) Create your own traditions at retreat. Here are our traditions:
  • We save Rededication for Fall Retreat and do it in the woods

  • We have a spider-web ceremony the final evening: Take a ball of yarn. Pick a topic/theme. Each girl tosses the yarn to another across from her (without letting go) so eventually it creates a big web -- the concept being if one girl let's go of their part of the web, the web weakens so it takes everyone to keep the web strong. THEME IDEAS: to each girl you toss the yarn to, tell that girl: 1) what I admire most about you, 2) what I learned about you this weekend that I didn't know, 3) why you are a strong member of this troop, etc....

  • For every campout, when it's lights out, the parents sing "Good Night Girl Scouts" softly outside the room or tents. The girls LAUGH every time. LOL. But it's become a tradition and we'll do it until they graduate...and beyond. (Imagine that).
Hope this info is helpful. Have Fun.

Jun 3, 2009

What am I thinking???

I know I owe an update on the "fabulous" Miss Teen USA party and some photos. Will get to that shortly. In the meantime, let me just say it was a HIT with the 10 year olds. They loved playing characters and, as they were leaving, they all commented on how next time, they want to do the "murder" mystery version. Geesh. What do they take me for? A super star?

May 28, 2009

Jigsaw Puzzle TeamWork Activity

Here's a team building activity I recently came across. Troop loved it and actually learned something. Works great for younger kids (any age as long as they can put together a puzzle). I used this team building as a precursor to bronze award planning to prove the point that we MUST work together.


Get several small puzzles from the $1 store. Best to use the ones that have about 25 pieces for ages 3-7 in which the puzzles are all cut from the same die (ie, all have the same shaped pieces).

Before hand the facilitator takes three pieces out of each puzzle and includes the same piece from a different puzzle so it would be possible to put the puzzle together, however the picture would not be correct. There are three pieces in each of puzzles I have that are cut like a cat, a pig, and a rabbit. These three pieces are the easiest to pull out and mix up. Make sure that each puzzle has at least one piece from the other puzzles.

You should have enough puzzles for the entire group to work in small groups of 3-6 people.

The facilitator announces "we will be working on a teamwork activity. Your challenge is to put together a puzzle". That's it. Don't say another word until it's over.

The "groups" will do several different things -
  • they may assume it is a race
  • Someone will eventually say they don't have the correct piece -do not respond
  • Some groups will figure out that the pieces are mixed and will go find the piece they need
  • some may try to "hide" their "extra" pieces
  • some will just sit there looking confused
After things settle down and puzzles are finished, the facilitator will ask what just occurred which should stimulate some good discussions. Ask:
  • Raise your hand if you tried to win -- explain why
  • Raise your hand if you hid other teams pieces -- explain why
  • Raise your hand if you tried to help others with their pieces -- explain why
The objective is to have everyone realize the original statement was "this is a team activity" at no time did the facilitator say each group was the whole team. Everyone on the team must work together or the team will not have all the pieces to complete their puzzle regardless of the activity the team is currently working on. We must all seek information/assistance from other team members AND give information/assistance to other team members.

Thanks to Elaine Royer | Link to original post

10 y/o birthdays -- why oh why oh why

I'm in the midst of putting the final touches on my daughter's 10th birthday party. This year, we decided to do it "bigger" than the last couple years in which we had 3 or 4 friends for sleepover.

First she says -- ROLLER SKATING. (Lordy -- can you believe how expensive roller skating parties are these days. In my day -- which was a long long long time ago -- skating was the CHEAP sport. I know this because, believe it or not, i was a competitve roller skater. Why??? I have no idea).

Then we went through some of the typical ideas -- Pump it Up, Rock Climbing, etc.

Thankfully, my oh-so-creative mother hosted a "who killed santa" murder mystery party at christmas time. If you read my previous post, you know that my daughter is writing a horror story right now and loves scary stuff. So I offered up the idea of hosting a murder mystery party.

She LOVED this plan. Yay!!!

I was amazed at how many murder mystery kits exist that are kid-appropriate. We settled on "Who Stole the Crown from the Miss Teen USA Diamond." (I know, it's not a murder mystery but still tons of fun).

We ordered the kit, redesigned ALL the invitations (of course), made sashes, purchase the red carpet (of course) and tiaras (need I say more). I tell you, you would think these 4th grade girls have NEVER gone to a b-day party. It is certainly the talk of the school. And their faces just LIGHT up.

I will be the pageant host, Ms. Victoria Morningstar -- going for a texas, big-haired, over sparkled look with a huge accent, saying "Sug" and "dahlin'" all night. The girls are just tickled over the whole thing.

We're down to the last few days. I'll let you know how it goes.

May 26, 2009

Definitely a Crazy Life!

Just back from girl scout camporee. It's our annual city-wide campout. This is my troop's 5th year attending and we love it everytime. I was pleased to bring 9 of my girls with me (for 2 of them, it was their first time).

All went well -- left on time, was able to fit EVERYTHING into the cars with room to spare (not sure how that happened!), and only 2 threw up in the car on the way up. Doing pretty good at this point.

Unfortunately, drama ensued. Guess it's not possible for 500 girl scouts and parents to get together without a little excitement. We learned just after arrival that an 11 year old girl from another troop ran away from her group and hid in the woods. Thankfully, her mother was present and aware of the situation from the start. I couldn't imagine making that phone call home (hi, Mrs. Johnson, you daughter ran away into the woods and we can't find her. I'm very sorry)....

The girl was found the next morning and all were relieved. The alternative would have been extremely difficult to handle.

This was definitely a life-lesson for us all. When going into the woods with girls:
1) EVERY girl should wear a whistle so when lost in the woods, they can blow it and be found.
2) BUDDY system is extremely important and if the girls cannot handle it, then they shouldn't be at camp.
3) EMERGENCY procedures should always we covered. We all start our planning and say "nothing ever happens so no worries". This time, something did happen and we panicked. Always practice practice practice your emergency procedures. KNOW what the different siren sounds are and how to respond (gather, leave, ignore)...

Some interesting thoughts came out of this experience from my girls.
1) If the incident is on the news, then bad people will know where we are and come get us
2) if the girl is hiding, she may jump out at us and scare us

(Things I never thought of -- but interesting to keep in mind).

So, all is well. And the trip ended up a success. I don't think any of us will ever forget it.

May 22, 2009

The Book

My 9 year old is writing a book. Not just any book. It's a horror story. g r e a t. Why a horror story? No idea! It's her thing right now.

At this point, I think we're on chapter 6 and have rewritten it twice at least. She says "mommy, it's a really long story. It's handwritten FRONT AND BACK of the paper. and each chapter is 2 pages.". (I hate to tell her that when this is typed, it's only going to be about 1 pp per chapter. Wonder if she'll care.)

So, every day, 9 y/o has a question about this book (the book that is not yet finished).

Q1: Can I publish it?
Q2. When can I publish it?
Q3. When it's finished, will you find a publisher so I can publish it?
Q4. I want to give it to my friends so we need to publish it.
Q4. Will it be Hardback or Softcover???? (when it's published).

Geesh. It's exhausting. Told her to not ask anymore questions UNTIL it's finished!!!!! (is that bad? i guess I'm a ruiner of inspiration).

What are Girl Scout Leaders Thinking

Why oh why do girl scout leaders do everything the hardway? Don't you know that everything you need is online. Don't EVER reinvent the wheel.

My favorite resource: www.scoutingweb.com. Click on the Site Map -- much more helpful than the tabs.

Self-inflicting stress

Of course! I've overcommitted. Why not. Life's too short to sit around.

It's the friday before memorial weekend and I realized I'm completely over capacity. I've not only committed to taking 9 of my girl scouts camping for the weekend but I'm in the midst of planning my soon-to-be 10 y/o's "Miss Teen USA" Mystery Party, my Girl Scout end of the year party, designing my grandmother's 80th birthday invitations, and I just took on another invitation design project.

Lord, what am I thinking?

On top of it all, I have to work, work, work at my "regular job" (you know what those are...they actually pay the bills).

Of course, I can't do anything half-way. My fabulous pre-teen needs tiara's for the big day. Can't be a pageant queen (not even a fake one) without tiara's. And the mystery party kit has pre-party clues to mail out the week before the party. It says optional. Oh well, optional or not, they MUST go out. You cannot have a mystery party without pre-party excitement. But they look HORRIBLE. So I'll have to find time to redesign them so they fit "our" theme. Maybe add a tiara, change the font, add some color. Won't take long. After-all, It's what I do.

Wish me luck.

May 21, 2009

Fabulous Fabris -- it's a family life!

So, this is the first blog I've ever done for my personal life. Been blogging for a while now for work. Just not the same when you aren't talking about yourself.

Hoping to share some laughs about kids & life. Hoping to share my tips for parties, girl scouts, and fun. And hoping to have an avenue to connect.

Give feedback whenever you can!

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