Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Holiday Homes Tour 2012 - how familiar!

We managed it much earlier than last year - we decorated on Dec 22 last year. Just so you can see how little we change from year to year, here's:
 All our wee bits and pieces: revolving presents (from the German Christmas market in Birmingham a few years ago), candle, Nativity scene, Lego snowglobe, Playmobil Nativity pieces, wooden Nativity scene (Birmingham Christmas market again), glass candle holder decorated by daughter at Guides last week, and our Habitat Christmas lights tree.
 My Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar, won on Kelloggsville's blog.
 Tree lurching forwards
 Snowmen, son's Lego Advent Calendar, and Santa
Goldfish crackers, sent to us from the US by the very host of this Holiday Homes Tour- not exactly decorations but part of Christmas! The children are rationing themselves to make them last, we don't have these in the UK.
 Glass bells from Austria
Back when I had time to cross stitch, I made this. That's our Marie Curie jar to the right, where we are collecting coins (as are all our Brownies) for Marie Curie Cancer Care till next March.
The Christmas Minas Tirith sitting on our Christmas tablecloth (which isn't on the table yet, too much homework to be done at that table between now and a dressed up table)
 The tree
 The Christmas Pterodactyl in the Christmas barbed wire.

These are our traditions!

 Be sure to check in with Jen to see who else is participating in the 2012 Holiday Homes Tour.

Been turned into a snaffler of sorts

I won a Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar and despite it being called Truffles for Two, I have been scoffing both truffles each day, usually one in the morning and one in the evening.

But Kelloggsville, with her Sharer or Snaffler question, has made me into a Sort Of Snaffler. Because it turns out I don't like the Mulled Wine truffles and despite offering them round the family, no-one else does either. And it also turns out that I love the Salted Caramel truffles.

So I have opened up the back of the calendar.

Removed the mulled wine ones.

Taken one of the two truffles from a few of the other days to ensure that when I open the days the mulled wine was meant to be there then there will still be a chocolate for me.

And while I was at it I moved the two remaining Salted Caramels to December 24th.

So that I get the very best treat on the very last day.

Kelloggsville! I both thank you for running the competition that I won, and blame you for these snaffling tendencies!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Rocked it

We're pretty lucky at our unit, we have 24 Brownies and 4 leaders plus another leader in training.
We all have a lot on in our lives and only 2 of us have Brownies in the unit, among the things such as husbands, jobs and other commitments that we juggle along with Brownies is 8 other children with their own out of school activities including one with particular needs.
So while 5 leaders looks like luxury, what it really means is that usually we can manage 4 leaders per week, sometimes as few as 3.
This week was necessarily one of the 3 leader weeks. And just to top it off, I really needed to spend time with the 5 newbies so I was going to be in the entrance hall with them away from the others. And it was leader in training's first time to lead a meeting. And she was stepping in to lead because one of the absent leaders wasn't well.
Baptism of fire!
But she rocked it. The girls worked on one of the Rights badges and really got to grips with the idea of similarity and difference. While I wasn't in the room for most of it, I know she did well because there were Brownies talking about it in the playground this morning - always the sign of a good meeting!

Saturday, 17 November 2012


Last week we fit in a pow wow for the girls to tell us what they'd like to do next term. Girls in the lead is a very important principle in Guiding, and pow wows are a very effective way of doing this.
This week we couldn't use our venue because of police commissioner elections in the hall, so the leaders got together at the same time as the regular meeting to create a programme for the term - actually the next two terms as next term is really short for us, just 8 weeks.
We put together the girls' wishes, some aspects we felt strongly about and finished off by making sure we were including the three important Brownie strands of You, Community and World.
I'm pretty pleased with it, we've got some good strong Guiding content in there, some learning of new things, some teamwork, some fun - seems like good plans to me!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembrance Sunday

Lest we forget

Friday, 9 November 2012

New additions, Halloween and daffodils

We've been so busy as a unit and I've been so busy as a Guider and in all my other roles (work four days a week, mum, wife etc) in the last few weeks. And it's only going to get busier as we head for Christmas. So for now, forgive me for the bullet points - I can elaborate on anything if people are particularly interested.

•The sleepover I mentioned in the last post went really well, three of the girls have now signed up for our big London weekend next year as a result of the fun they had. We're thrilled to add them.

*Our new Guider is doing so well too. I'm loving her attention to detail. The rest of us have been doing his a few years now and it's very good for all of us to have things questioned. Yes we do it that way but why? Often there is a good reason, but sometimes there isn't and her fresh eyes help with that.

*Our YL stepped up brilliantly to run a Halloween party for over 50 Brownies. She was patient, adapted her plans when something she tried didn't go well, worried about that till we reassured her that being able to adapt is very much the important skill her mentor would be looking for and allinall was just fab.

*Our most recent meeting was led by me - a logistical nightmare for me with a husband who was ill and a daughter who needed picking up from somewhere else just as Brownies started, feeding and dropping off somewhere just as Brownies ended. A friend helped me out and it does show how fitting these things in, particularly when your own child is no longer part of the unit you are involved with, can be a juggling act.
We planted daffodils for Marie Curie and the girls will be nurturing them through to St Davids Day next year when they will bring them back to see who has the tallest one and will also bring back their fundraising money. Lots of excited girls already telling me they have collected over £5 each within days of starting so we should have a good total!

What else is coming up?
*County training day
*Remembrance Sunday
*First evening run by our new Guider

And that's just the next few days!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Really organised or barely made it?

We took 9 of our newest Brownies plus two leader daughter Brownies on a sleepover this weekend, and they had a great time, they were even asleep by midnight and didn't wake up till 7.

Among the things we did was crafts, and the crafts were kindly donated to this blog by Baker Ross - where else would I use them? Sadly, I wasn't quite as prepared as I should have been and we weren't able to do everything I got sent *blush*. We'll use them another time, but I should have thought just a tiny bit further ahead!

OK, so we were sent:
Scratch Art Door Hangers - these went down really well, some of the girls spent ages and ages on them, there was a preponderance of ones with No Boys allowed on!

Rainforest Colour-in Window Decorations - these turned out beautifully. The girls worked very hard on them and each design looked totally different. Big hit.

Design a Patchwork Wall Hanging - now, I didn't schedule this in, because we actually made one of these already, back in May. But I chucked it in the box just in case, then realised I hadn't included any fabric pens. We have sets of those, plus fabric paint, so while we could have tried to make this with normal pens, it seemed a terrible waste.

The last two items, all I was missing was glue! I cannot believe I forgot the glue! They sent British Bird Felt Hanging Decorations, which needed glue for the very last step, to add on the ribbon.

We could have made those and sent the ribbon home, but there was only half the number needed, we also needed the Butterfly Foam Magnets (I checked online and they don't seem to have these just now?) to make up the number we needed and the magnets needed glue for the very first step.

So, what we used was fab, and it was kind of them to send them to us to review. And we will use the other items soon, when I make sure I am armed with fabric pens and glue!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Behind the scenes - Brownies in a bank

Brownies from across our district were invited to see behind the scenes in one of our local banks this week - Barclays.

We got to go in the back where they sort the money and have the safe (very very firmly locked while we were there) and saw all the tight security there. We saw where the bank manager's (shared) office was, and heard the doorbell the staff can ring to summon him when he is needed out in the main banking hall. And the girls got to go behind the tills to see what it's like for a teller. (While I am conscious we saw NOTHING that would compromise security, I still don't want to say too much detail on anything!)

It was a lot of fun - and opened the girls' eyes to potential careers I think - they were very impressed at just how young the bank manager was. And it's made us think it's ages since we did the Fire Safety badge so we could go behind the scenes at the fire station which is always fun, so we'll have to look at that for next spring.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Bear times two

Good luck to all the Brownie leaders doing Bear's Bedtime tonight! Units all over our county (I think it's just our county?) are doing sleepovers simultaneously tonight - though how much simultaneous sleep there will be I do not know! Everyone is to take a teddy, hence the Bear's Bedtime.

We aren't taking part as we had camp two weekends ago and we had a sleepover already booked for our new girls coming up quite soon, there's only so much time we can give up, out of the five current leaders, we have 10 kids between us and only two of those are actually Brownies (though another three are involved as YL and Brownie Helpers). We need to spend SOME time with the rest of our families! Having said that, one leader and her Brownie are helping out another unit by going on their sleepover so we do have two representatives.

You may notice I said current leaders? One of our leaders actually left us this week, she had said she was going to leave, but the decision to go quite so quickly was a surprise. She's been with us 5 years - you can trace her time back with us on this blog! - so it will be strange without her. We actually have someone else who came on camp, is coming on the upcoming sleepover and wants to be more involved, so without putting too much pressure on her, I think the team will be just fine.

You may also notice I said Bear times two? That's not because we have two taking part in the Bear event, but because there are two Bear events today, Scouts all over the Midlands and Wales have been running camps and events this weekend and their chief scout Bear Grylls has been popping in to see them. A total of 4,200 took part in an event locally, and my Cub son was one of them. He popped a notebook into his lunchbag and was certain he'd be able to ask for an autograph...I warned him there were thousands there and it wouldn't happen...and back he came with the autograph! I don't think many Scouts had been quite as prepared as him, he said some of his fellow Cubs got a handshake but he was the only one from his pack that got an autograph.

So it's a Bear weekend all round!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Huh? HOW much time just elapsed?

Could have sworn I posted just last week!

Well, it's been busy:
  • Four new Brownies started - the fifth didn't turn up first week, 2nd week mum said she would be there week after, I declined as we were out the meeting place that week and I didn't want to meet the girl while we were on a trip, so hopefully she's starting next week
  • We've started World Guiding badge and Speaker badge, most will finish World Guiding though Speaker will only see a few finish I imagine, you need to be quite outgoing so I suspect we'll only see about half finish but that's fine
  • We went on a chip walk - and, of course, it rained!
  • Most exciting of all, we have been camping! We went to Warwick Castle, and camped overnight, with events including birds of prey, a bowman, knights fighting, a flaming trebuchet, a Princess Tower and the Merlin Tower. It wasn't a normal camp - we needed parent help to get tents up as we had a one hour window to do it in, and we had to have the tents down so early they all came down wet from dew alone. Also, no water needed to be collected as fully catered. It was very very cold at night but all the girls made it through despite a couple of wobbles - we were very proud of them.
What's next? More Speaker and World Guiding, a sleepover for the newbies and some Halloween fun. Baker Ross have been kind enough to send us some goodies to test and review here (anonymity for the girls of course) and we'll be using those on the sleepover, so watch out for those pics.

I didn't realise we'd been away, but we're back!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Revving up again

The summer's (almost) flown by, not quite giving up on it yet as our kids don't go back till next week so we have one last weekend!
It's been a busy one for us, I started a new job in June so hadn't accumulated enough holiday to take anything more than our two weeks away in the French Alps (blissfully wonderful and we want to go back) which meant I had to be on top of childcare while working.
The very first week, Daughter climbed Mount Snowdon with my friend and her daughter, I was very impressed! She also had a week of Guide camp and loved that. Together with my parents being here for a week, the time has raced past us.
So, back to school and back to Brownies! I've already delivered out the term's plans and I used some quiet time to sort out the consent and health forms for our upcoming camp today, so I (think) I am on top of things.
Let the good times roll!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Olympics are finally here!

We've been talking about it for a long time! I know I have:
 April 2011 I applied for Olympic tickets
April 2011 Olympics quilts (we didn't) 
March 2012 Olympics crazy
April 2012 Facepainting Brownies for the Olympics
April 2012 Games go Global with WAGGGS
May 2012 The Olympic quilt we did make
June 2012 We made gorgeous promise torches
June 2012 Football coaching by a torchbearer
July 2012 The torch visited Brownies
July 2012 Visiting London for the Olympics?

Opening ceremony is tomorrow, and we have tickets for football. To everyone who is going, or going to watch it on TV, I hope we all have a great time!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Visiting London this summer for the Olympics?

If you're a Guiding leader, don't forget to visit Girlguiding HQ when you're here! The shop sells badges, gifts, and all kinds of lovely Guiding stuff, and as you can see, it's very close to Buckingham Palace.

View Larger Map

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Guiding news

I thought you might like to read about a few other Brownie and Guide groups apart from my own!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Camping, and Brownies, and summer

Scout camp was great, all praise to the leaders, though as predicted, husband was not a fan. I'd put money now on me not being able to get him back there next year! Children had fun and the rain was not as bad as it was predicted.

Brownies is all done for the (school) year, we had to relocate our last meeting from the campsite where we planned to hold it, but it worked out fine. The YL who carried the Olympic Torch was kind enough to bring it to the meeting as well, so that was a real highlight!

We've managed to squeeze in the planning for next term too, the plan includes:
  • a camp
  • an overnight for newbies
  • a couple of Brownie badges
  • fundraising for Children in Need
  • Remembrance Sunday
  • Christmas Carol Service
  • fun crafts
So veering away from the sport-heavy term we've had this term, it's been fab celebrating the Olympics but we gotta keep it balanced! We're going right in the opposite direction, with the rather fun choice of a chip walk, always a hit with the girls!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Olympic torch in Leamington

The Young Leader who works with us and ran the football development session carried the Olympic torch today in Leamington Spa.

We travelled over to see her and it was extra exciting to see it carried by someone we knew.

This pic is of her, I am being discreet and showing you the one of her behind one of the surrounding police minders! If you know me on Facebook, you can check my page and see proper pictures.

I've also been busy making cake pops for our school fete next weekend, a fete I won't be attending because I will be on a Scout event - not a Girlguiding one! - with my family all weekend.

So although we do have Brownies this week, our last one of this term, this week is more about fitting getting ready for Scout camp around work than anything else.

My ticklist:

  • I need to dig out the tent, poles and groundsheet
  • Find all four self-inflating mats
  • Find four sleeping bags that zip up, we have 5 and one doesn't and I can never remember which it is!
  • Find four blankets
  • Four camping chairs
  • Sort out crockery for four
  • Pack generally.
It's more complicated than usual, usually only one or two of us are camping, so we don't have four of everything. Husband is not a happy camper, he is doing it for the family for the weekend but he's not thrilled!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Racing by

Is it just me or is this term racing by? We had an excellent session this week: one of our YLs is also an FA coach so she ran a football training session with the girls. Now, while she works well with this age group, of course at football training all the girls want to be there whereas I did wonder if some of the Brownies might not want to play football but they all threw themselves into it. It went really well. Just three more weeks to go: an Olympics planning evening where they will pick their country, design a flag, create gold, silver and bronze medals and plan what games they want to do. The week after will be the actual brownie Olympics then finally our usual end of term meeting at a local scout campsite with smores etc. That meeting will include a promise ceremony and at both the ceremony and the Olympics, we will use the Olympic torches we made.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Promise torch

Kelloggsville asked to see a picture of the promise torch I mentioned in my last post. I did add it to Facebook as she suggested but then thought it might be worth showing here, because while UK Guiders might be using the excellent On Your Marks pack, leaders from other countries may well be interested.

Start by breaking down your promise into small sections and talking those through with the girls. An excellent opportunity to go over the meaning of the promise and how we should try to follow it in every day life.

Then send them to their sixes to create their torch - we did have an adult and a YL or PL on each table of six and they did need the help with sticking and holding the shape of the torch.

Roll up a sheet of white A4 card into a cone shape and stick (tape not glue, unless you have all night!). Draw six flame shapes on paper and cut out, then write on the promise in sections. Position around the top of the torch and tape.

Use flame coloured tissue or crepe paper (yes, mine is not flame coloured but this was the demo) to fill centre - we used two 99p packs of 100 sheets from the Works, that was enough orange, red and yellow sheets of tissue paper for 24 Brownies. You can stick these down or just stuff them in, tear up into bits or just crumple...

Finally we added a sheet of satinette - the sheet left behind when sequins are stamped out! It looks like the holes on the 2012 Olympics torches, we were really pleased with the effect.

Those Brownies who finished fast were instructed to keep decorating, those who worked slowly were helped by the adults, so it worked well on all levels.

We told the girls to keep them, we will use them for our Brownie Olympics in a few weeks, and also for the promise ceremony for our new girls.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Really? It's been a month?

I kept meaning to blog, and then I would not get round to it...and here we are. So, a quick recap of the last month:
  • The girls made a beautiful quilt, each designed a square and we tied them together, it's around the theme of Olympics, and 2012, and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and whatever else the girls wanted to put on, including a lot of horses!
  • My daughter, her friend who is a big sister of a current Brownie, a former Brownie and the big brother of that former Brownie, all age 13 and 12, led the Brownies in a taekwondo session. They did a brilliant job, very patient, and I was proud of all four of them.
  • We made promise torches - Olympic torches with the Brownie promise added as flames, they look fab.
  • And we just had a Diamond Jubilee party, jointly with our Guide unit. Lots of fun and facepainting!
Been a busy month at Brownies as you can see, and also at home - I got a new job at the beginning of the month and have been working my notice at my current job. I finished today *sniffle* and will start the new job after the half term week. My niece was also born, so all in all, can you see why I haven't been here? :-)

Now bring on the half term week and the bank holidays!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Today I will mostly be...voting

If you are in the UK, most councils are up for election today. My son's school is closed as it is used as a polling station. That means no Brownies either. So, if you have one, use your vote - those Suffragettes who fought hard to ensure women would get the vote deserve to have their legacy supported and remembered. Even their win was partial - women had to be over 30, married and have a husband who had the right to vote. It wasn't till 1928 that women got the vote on the same terms as men - ie over 21. Now we can all vote from 18 - so use it!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Face painting Brownies for the Olympics

We started the new Brownie term this week, with a really fun start using the On Your Marks resource from Girlguiding UK

Three new Brownies (a fourth didn't turn up, and she's changed her mind about starting, so we have a fifth lined up for next week instead) joined us and all had a great time.

We picked a number of starting activities from the resource and one of them was a rings game: 5 leaders and helpers hid around the grounds of the place where we meet and the girls had to find them, then as they found each leader they had a ring drawn on to their face by the leader.

Each leader had a different colour of the Olympic rings so eventually the girls had the 5 Olympic rings painted across their faces - they looked fantastic! Even those with sensitive skin had a little dab on their faces or on their hands, so they all joined in really well - we'd obviously have come up with an alternative if there were any girls who weren't able to have face paints at all, but that wasn't necessary.

We bought the face paints from Baker Ross* - they are really good quality ones and will last us ages. They were £3.65 each as we bought 6** - the 5 Olympic ring colours and white, because then the blue and red can double up for Union Jack facepainting when we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.
*Guiding leaders can get 10% off even this discounted rate, so we actually paid £3.29 each, if you are a leader and want to know more, then log into the members bit of the Guiding website.
**I'm not on commission from GGUK or Baker Ross, just passing on info that might be of use to other units.

More Olympics fun next week, we're going to concentrate on a single competing country.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Friendship bracelets for Sangam or Games Go Global with WAGGGS

I spotted two great ideas, thanks to a fabulous email list run by an American Girl Scout leader. Though this term coming up will be filled up with Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, I think we could do the bracelets next term as a worthy craft project. Games Go Global I doubt we can squeeze in but you never know.

Sangam bracelets
Sangam in India is one of four World Centres for Guiding - the other three are Pax Lodge in London (been there), Our Chalet in Switzerland (would LOVE to go there) and Our Cabana in Mexico.
They want Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from all over the world to make friendship bracelets and send them there, to be sold for 10 rupees (approx 20 US cents or 13 British pence) to support projects at the centre.
I really like the idea of our girls getting to make a craft - perhaps one for themselves and one for Sangam - that would be able to help others. So I'll be suggesting this one at our next leaders meeting.

Games Go Global - bronze, silver and gold

We're less likely to do this, as it is Olympic themed and I think our girls will be Olympics-ed out by the end of the term! There's a pack with a good balance of physical, mental and emotional activities, so it may even be a resource we use later without involving the badges - even on skimming it I spotted a few good ten minute games we could use as time-fillers. But for those who aren't embracing the GGUK On Your Marks resource quite as thoroughly as us, there could be some good evenings in here, and girls can earn bronze, silver or gold badges depending on how many activities they complete.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Guiding even in Zurich

I was in Germany with my family for six days over Easter, and although the trip had nothing to do with Guiding, there was one tiny tiny little Guiding element.
When getting off the plane at Zurich Airport (yes, that's in Switzerland but it was the nearest airport), daughter spotted a girl a couple of rows behind was wearing a Big Gig hoodie.
Big Gig is a pop concert held at least once a year (this year, twice) in the UK for Guides and Senior Section members - they have a blast. Daughter's unit was hoping to go but did not get tickets this year, maybe next time. Cazbly's unit took a few girls though.
We did speak to the girl in the hoodie, she admitted she was really lucky to get to go and said she had a really good time.
Incidentally, Girlguiding UK does actually exist in Zurich too, though both my daughter and this girl are UK Guides, there is a Brownie unit and a Guide unit at an international school in Zurich too - I even sent a Brownie there a few years ago when she moved with her family!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Olympics crazy

That's the term wrapped up, we finished with a trip to Disney on Ice and then an Easter party - the girls searched the grounds for eggs then decorated biscuits with decorations including little mini eggs.

Summer term lies ahead - after an Easter break - and we're pretty much going Olympics crazy. There's a little bit of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in there, but mostly we'll be doing sport, learning about the Olympic values and enjoying a bit of culture from around the world.

Also, smores. Duh, it's summer!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Brownie weekends away, past, present and future

A report will follow about our Brownie weekend away as soon as possible, one of my fellow leaders was doing her holiday licence so I want to be sure she has completed it before sharing.
In the meantime, here's a jaunt back through a few of the weekends away my Brownies have enjoyed over the years.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Sleepover at a castle

Remember a while back I said I was going to visit a major tourist attraction about the possibility of a sleepover there?
Well, it was Warwick Castle - and it's happening!
The castle is arranging two camps in the autumn term for Scouts and Guides, and we're hoping to go on one of them. I've got letters out with parents right now, so we should know interest and numbers fairly soon.
The castle ran sleepovers during the Guide centenary in 2010 so they have the plans down pat, and we know it will be suitable for our girls.
You get there on a Saturday, pitch tents, have tea, are welcomed by the knights, take part in a round robin of demos, and then they fire the trebuchet - and at night they even light the ball so it is a flaming trebuchet!
Then on Sunday there's breakfast, break camp, bird display and we can wander the castle before the public arrive for the day.
The price is great I think, £32 is a lot for a one night camp, but when you look at all you get for it, it is good value, plus we plan to use our Gift Aid so we can offer it to the girls at a lower price.
The event is only open to Scouting and Guiding groups but if you think your unit might be interested and want more details, the Trade Sales Account Manager is Georgina Forsythe, her email (she gave me permission to share it!) is georgina.forsythe@warwick-castle.com
They also run similar events at Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventure, if those are closer to you.
(I wasn't paid to write about this, or sponsored, or anything like that. I was invited to visit the castle and hear more about the planned event so I could ask questions, along with lots of other Scout and Guide leaders. And I got free hot chocolate for me and the two kids who were with me as well. But that's not sponsorship, that's planning!)

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Baden Powell Award - so nearly there

I've recently had one of my "let go of the reins a bit" experiences, as daughter went off to do her Baden Powell Adventure weekend.
She's been working towards her Baden Powell Award since last January, fitting it around schoolwork and the other things she does, and when she reached 8 clauses completed she was able to apply to go on an adventure - a weekend where she went away with other girls doing the award, none of whom she had met before, to carry out a series of challenges and also learn more about Guiding once you are 14.
At 13 and 3 months, she was the youngest on the weekend - you need to have completed two years in Guides (which starts at age 10) before you can start the award, so you rarely go on an adventure before the age of 13, and most of the girls were 14 and 15.
So I dropped her off at Guiding HQ in the nearest city to us, where 2 Guiders were waiting for 12 girls. They spent the night there then went to a nearby town for challenges the next day, then stayed at the youth hostel there, then headed to a third town the day after then back to the HQ. All along the way they had to budget for meals and whether they would cook them or buy them, complete the challenges and get themselves around using bus timetables to certain places at certain times.
They did a great job - and it proves to me she can cope with that kind of thing so I can worry less next time I need her to get the bus home from town after a school event.
But this letting go thing...it's hard!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Girlguiding news

There's lots of Guiding news around just now, and a few things leapt out enough that I wanted to share:

A new girl every hour in 2011 - isn't that great? What an eye-catching spin on the statistics

Devoted Guide leader hangs up her woggle - this leader sounds wonderful and I hope she is persuaded to stay as an assistant guider with a unit or be involved at division or county level because she really seems to get the useful aspects of the Girlguiding programme and to have inspired a lot of girls

And finally, it appears I am not alone in thinking both Guiding AND Scouting rule - the Chief Guide and Scouts UK Chief Commissioner have issued a joint statement to that effect.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Busy Guiding time, quiet blog

I've been really busy with Guiding stuff and with life, and never seem to find the time to come here and share. If World Thinking Day is Feb 22, does that mean this is a new Guiding year? So I can make my new Guiding year's resolution to be to make the time to share. :-)

I will start by trying to help out a friend's daughter. Her daughter is fundraising to go on a Guiding trip to Switzerland and is making the keyrings and woggles you see on this blog post. She's selling them for £1 each, if you think you might be interested, then you can message me in the comments (include your email address), and I will pass on the comments without publishing them.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

World Thinking Day aka Founders Day aka Wednesday

To anyone who has anything to do with Guiding: Happy World Thinking Day.
To anyone who has anything to do with Scouts: Happy Founder's Day.
To everyone else, have a great Wednesday!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Nervous, or jealous?

I'm struggling with a new look blogger interface so while I want to post about the fantastic day I had at Warwick Castle last week and how my Brownies are definitely signing up for an event there, I'm going to wait till I can get links working and add pictures.

In the meantime, a story from the past I was reminded of today in passing. Four years ago, my darling son was struggling with his t and k sounds and often mixed them up, so cat became tac and so on. We signed up with a marvellous speech therapist who resolved the problem - but at her first proper session, we did have to recover from a fit of the giggles.

She gave him a smiley face and a sad face on card and got him to stick them on to lolly sticks for using with various planned activities. She asked him how did he think each face was feeling? Usually a child will say happy or sad.

My son? Nervous and jealous.

No problem with his vocabulary then!

Friday, 27 January 2012

So much excitement

There's our regular meetings.

But like furiously paddling swans, appearing calm on the surface, there is so much more going on:
1. Fellow Guider has clearance to do her holiday licence even though we are going out of county, so our trip away this term will be two nights!
2. Disney on ice cheque is written, all I have to do is post it tomorrow.
3. I'm helping get 250 lightbulbs for a division project.
4. In a few days, I am going to a major UK tourist attraction to see if we can run a sleepover there.
5. Daughter is so close to finishing her Baden Powell Award, that she has been accepted on a county adventure weekend in next few months.

And the girls think all we do is turn up and chat (ok, we do that a bit too!)

Update: the girls are excited about #1 too, we've had 19/24 sign up and 3 of those not going have a dance festival otherwise they would come too!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Badge tab

Clair of Kids, Craft and Chaos posted her badge tab online this weekend, she is quite rightly proud of herself for finishing her Guiding leadership qualification - well done!

And while I am bigging up other Guiders, well done to Cara in Canada, her brilliant website Brownie Meeting Ideas is one year old today and is a massive hit with nearly 25,000 hits already!

Although I like Clair's minimalist badge tab (I am particularly jealous of the Blue Peter badge and love that she has a badge from the West Highland Way, which starts near where I grew up in Scotland) I have gone the other way, my badge tab is bling bling because I like to cram on as many badges as I can that mean something to me.

From top to bottom:
Black trefoil - my promise badge as an adult, it should be dark navy but mine is one of a few that came out black!
Silver trefoil - an award from my Guiding Region, Midlands, for services to local Guiding. I was given this in 2008 and it has been very inspiring to me to keep going on those occasions I think it is all too much for me.
Just under the promise badge is my five year award, next one is ten years and amazingly I am only three years off that already!
To the right of that, hiding under my promise badge is a tiny Canada flag. I was given that by a Canadian Guider, Claire, who I swapped some badges with a few years ago and became a really good friend who stayed with me a couple of summers ago. She's a great friend I would never have made if it wasn't for Guiding, we had a wonderful weekend in London together and I know if I make it over to British Columbia, I have somewhere to stay!
To the right of that is the Camp & Holiday Scheme badge, I only have an overnight licence but you get the whole badge anyway!
Next row is my Penguin badge, that's what the Brownies call me. Next to that is my 20:10, 20/10, 2010 promise badge, given to anyone who made/remade their promise at ten past eight on October 20th 2010 to mark 100 years of Guiding. Very special.
Nearly there! The small shamrock is a present from the Senior Section girls who joined our Brownies weekend in London in March 2010. We were happy to help them have a weekend away and the badge was a very sweet gift. To the right of that is an Adventure 100 pin badge, that's probably the first one I will remove, we did have fun doing that challenge though!
To the right of that and slightly over the centenary promise badge is a World badge, I love having that to show we are part of a worldwide sisterhood of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
Hidden under that and the last badge is a Baden Powell House badge. That's there because we have stayed there with the Brownies a couple of times, on that March 2010 weekend but also on the exciting night when my Brownies met JK Rowling - the very reason i started this blog!
Finally, my Leadership Qualification badge hangs off the bottom of the badge tab, I use it to anchor the badge tab on to my tshirt so it doesn't swing and hit Brownies in the face when I lean over to talk to them!

So, that's my badge tab, I loved seeing Clair's and talking about mine - see, it isn't just bling for the sake of it, all the badges are special! Would love to see other Guiders tabs, not just in UK but abroad as relevant!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Birdhouses presented

Our birdhouses were presented to the school where we meet during last night's meeting and the headteacher was really thrilled. In fact she included them in assembly this morning as well (I was able to attend as I am off today) and all the Brownies that go to the school got up and showed them off, it was quite sweet how proud they were of them.

Great job girls!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Duchess of Cambridge volunteers

The Duchess of Cambridge has volunteered with Scouting, and will be helping occasionally with Beaver colonies and Cub packs near her home.

OK, as an ex-Brownie, it would have been great if she had signed up with Girlguiding. But it's up to her - either maybe there were no Guiding units near her home, or maybe she wanted to try something similar but different.

I'm not quite as Strictly Guiding as you might think, I am all for both Guiding and Scouting, with a child in each and as a leader in Guiding and a former helper with Beaver Scouts myself. So anything that brings in the volunteers to either organisation, I'm all for it; the publicity around her involvement might make a few people think they could give up similar amounts of time.
Both organisations have lots of children desperate to take part and not enough adults, there's about 1 million members between the two organisations and around 80,000 kids waiting to join.

To volunteer with Scouting: http://scouts.org.uk/join/join_volunteer.php
To volunteer with Guiding: http://www.girlguiding.org.uk/get_involved/volunteer/register_your_interest.aspx

(Picture Copyright St James's Palace)

Friday, 6 January 2012

Brownies Build Birdhouses

Is it madness to decide to build four birdhouses from scratch (well, the wood was cut to shape but that was it, no drillholes etc) as a Brownie pack?
I decided it wasn't and bought everything we needed. Then I panicked and decided it was foolish. Husband tried to talk me down and we decided to open one up and see how hard it was to put together. We put it together but it wasn't easy and I decided it wasn't viable for Brownies so I would take the other three unopened ones back.
But then I spoke to one of the four dads who had volunteered to help us that night and he was happier about it, he even offered to pre-drill the holes on the remaining three to speed up the process so the girls would just have to hammer and use screwdrivers.
And that's what we did! In the space of just over an hour, we set up workbenches, then had one of three dads focus on each of three areas of the three birdhouses: the legs, the roof and the base of the house. The girls moved round each area in turn so they participated in each bit and the fourth dad helped on whatever section was going slowly.
By the end of the just over an hour, every girl had had a go with a hammer, a screwdriver or both, and had helped to collect screws and nails, measuring them to ensure it was the right type each time.
And we had four bird feeding tables, ready to donate to the school where we meet - well, almost ready, I am going to use woodstain to add a squirrel, a rabbit, a fox and a hedgehog to each to represent our sixes.
I am glad we did this - I panicked and we nearly didn't do it but the girls did brilliantly, the dads were very patient and very careful and we had no injuries at all, not even a splinter!
I've included a picture of the girls working, I can barely tell who each girl is in that picture, so I don't think it identifies anyone. I can't include the one of them beaming with the end results, but trust me that they do look very like the one you can see here!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Looking backward then forward (personal edition)

I did post about what happened at Brownies in December and what we have planned for the months ahead.

Some personal news too:
  • The newest Cub Scout was invested
  • And my daughter, age just turned 13, achieved her black belt in taekwondo

I don't often talk about my kids on here, it doesn't feel right after an experience a few years ago that caused an issue - hmm, is that vague enough!?! Just know that I have a reason.

But I am so proud of both, my son for carrying on the Scouting tradition that's been in our families since the 1940s and my daughter for achieving such an amazing level in her sport at such a young age and with so many other things like school and Guiding to fit in at the same time.

Normal Brownie-related service will be resumed!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Looking backward then forward

I was quite lax in December with updating what the Brownies had been up to, a very busy month for me and a fair bit of stress (nothing serious or too long term) meant I just didn't have time to write things up.

Two things to tell you though:
  • We took 24/25 Brownies (the last one had another commitment) to have breakfast with Santa! It was at our local garden centre, and the girls had such good fun. They had a cooked breakfast then decorated gingerbread men, then finally got to meet Santa and each speak to him for a little while. Then they got to walk through his grotto and choose a present. They were all very excited, we had hesitated a little because we knew our sister Rainbow pack had done this a while back and loved it but we thought maybe some of our older girls would be a bit jaded, but they all had a brilliant time.
  • We followed that up the next day (a busy weekend!) with the division Guiding service. Our district was organising it so I saw very little of the actual service as I was helping late comers find seats, then setting up to serve mince pies and tea, but I did get to see my daughter who had been chosen to do the reading for her district, which was lovely.

So that was 2011 - what lies ahead for 2012?

We are planning a weekend away at a venue Kelloggsville knows very well, and we are going to Disney on Ice just before Easter. In regular meetings, we will be building birdhouses then donating them to the school, having a cinema night, a mystery games night, Thinking Day, two weeks on Sri Lanka, a promise evening (exploring the promise rather than a ceremony) and an Easter party.

We are in the unusual situation of no new Brownies this term, we had 25 last term and one has gone to Guides, so we're back to 24 for one term. Then 5 leave at Easter so we will have lots of newbies then!

That takes us up to Easter, the summer term will definitely be hinged around Olympics but we haven't planned it out in detail, there's enough to be going on with.

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