Valuable Friends and Life Skills in Brownies

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This is the fourth year that Sugar and Spice have been in Girl Guides… Two years in Sparks, and now they are nearing the end of the second year of Brownies. They are super excited about going into Guides next year, too.

The girls love camping, and it’s great experience for them to be away from home, by themselves, for a clue of nights. They learn to pack and live with whatever they took with them, self-sooth and comfort others at night, make new friends, and keep track of their stuff. Never mind the making bedrolls and crafts… These are such good life skills for eight year olds!

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Sometimes the girls aren’t fond of all the activities they do at meetings, but they still want to go every week. For the most part, they are engaged and feel very welcome. It’s also great that we have a nicely diverse Brownies group including a good handful of little brown-skinned girls. We are blessed with a great leader who knows what she is doing. So this year, the girls have put together backpacks for people experiencing homelessness, sung Christmas carols at retirement homes, shared food from their own cultures, brought their pets, and this week, had a Valentine’s princess party where they learned and practiced table manners.

If you are looking for a wonderful, non-religious, community serving organization for your daughter, I’d highly encourage you to check out Girl Guides or Girl Scouts in your own neighbourhood!

 

Me, my two besties and Michael Franti

It’s been three weeks since I went to Vancouver for a girls weekend with my two best friends… But that shows you what kind of busy I’ve had since!

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I really needed a getaway… With starting the clinic, I hadn’t had a day off in months. So I asked Von and T to go to Vancouver for the weekend. As it turned out, Von was going anyway for some doctor training (she’s an MD) so T and I invaded her hotel room at the Fairmont. Sweet.

Oddly enough, Von, my best friend (since grade 4/5) and my best buddy in Kelowna T, had never met. Sure, they’ve heard a lot about each other, but hadn’t ever had the pleasure. I knew that they would get along well, and sure enough, they found common ground in teasing me, Asian cuisine, and raunchy jokes. 🙂

We wandered about the city, eating at delicious restaurants. We all share a passion for food and eating, so we take the restaurant selection pretty seriously. We had Japanese tapas, hand pulled noodles, and French seafood. YUMMers…

T and I also caught the exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery about China’s emperors. I honestly don’t know that much about Chinese history, but I found it fascinating, and we both thought we learned a lot from the exhibit.

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Lemonade Stand: Learning the value of money

Today the girls set up a lemonade stand at the end of the block, to make some extra dough. It’s certainly a great experience to learn about hard work and business.

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For a few years, our girls have had an allowance. They get five dollars, which is a lot of money! But they have some restrictions on it. Sugar and Spice put one dollar in their “learning” jar, which is for their education and travel, one dollar to a “giving” jar, from which they donate money to a cause of their choice, and then three dollars into a “fun” jar, their discretionary income. In the beginning, we had to give them loonies, to teach them relative value. But now they make change!

Anyway, having their own discretionary income means that we say “no” to just about everything they ask for, and they have to save up if they want toys. I don’t remember the last time I’ve bought them a toy. They even treat us occasionally to icecream or frozen yogurt, which is lovely.

Sometimes the girls want to increase their income, however, especially if they have their eyes set on something. Apparently it’s a play mobile veterinary set right now. So they get entrepreneurial; we totally support this. For a little money, they can do extra chores around the house, like wiping baseboards (with so many pets, we always have baseboards to wipe.) But sometimes, if they want to make more money, they set up a little business.

They’re so experienced, they’ve already had a failed business. Sugar came up with an idea of making hair ties. They bought yarn (out of their own money.. I don’t do capital investment…) but after selling a few on credit, realized their friends were never paying them. They lost their investment.

A lesson well learned. “Never sell anything to someone before you get the money first,” Spice will tell anyone who needs business advice. “Especially your friends.”

The tried and true business model is the lemonade stand. First, they save enough for ingredients. Frozen lemonade mix, then sugar, flour, butter and chocolate chips for cookies. They have bought premade cookie dough in the past, but they realized the higher costs were cutting into their profits. So now they make the cookies from scratch. Luckily they’ve found out that Daddy is a cheap employee… For two cookies, he’ll help them bake. Sucker.

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They figure out their advertising and distribution. Today, Spice was thinking about selling the cookies door to door. After carefully consideration, she decided that “we might sell more cookies to one family, but some people will also say no. I hate that. And we’d have to lug a tray from house to house. So I think we should just sit on the corner and they will come to us.”

The advertising is a big poster that they make, with prices clearly marked. Then, they chose their location wisely, which is beside the synagogue parking lot at the end of our street. It has good drive by visibility, and good parking. “People just stop because we are cute and we have cookies,” pronounces Spice, without a lick of sarcasm.

So, today was family day, with the girls choosing the activity. And guess what?

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Jason helped make cookies, I helped with the sign, and we all sat out in the sun. In an hour, they made $42. There were a few tips in there, and some people even just drove up and handed them money. I kid you not.

Playmobile vet set, here they come!

“We didn’t actually make $42 an hour, mommy,” my daughter Spice reminded me after I read her this post. You forgot to count our baking time.”

Such a smart cookie.

We support BC Teachers

It’s been years of cutbacks, no limits on class sizes, and declining supports for kids in the classroom.

Yesterday, the girls and I decided to stand with our local teachers and make our voices heard.

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The girls are well aware that we have a right, privilege and duty to be active citizens in Canada. They know about some other places in the world where people, especially girls, are not allowed to have a public opinion. So I encourage them by sharing current affairs, examining even complicated issues in a way they can understand, and letting them form their own (although, of course guided!) opinions. Let me tell you (and ask their daddy!) they get pretty strong opinions on politics, the environment, culture, etc.

After deciding that they wanted to support the BCTF (try explaining unions to a 7 year old. That was tough!) the girls made up their own posters, and we stood on the bridge with 300 other supporters in Kelowna. Little did we know that we would be on the national news…

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… and that Spice would grace the BCTF newsletter. And yes, she is completely that witty.

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Way to go, little girls! And way to go teachers- for standing up, and not taking the bullying anymore. We stand with you, 100%!

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Spring Festivities

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The last week has been full of festivities around our house, celebrating the coming of spring, and a visit from my wandering husband. (He’s been loccuming in Saskatchewan for five weeks, so it was a lovely four day visit home.)

First, we had a wonderful backyard potluck, with many of our local friends. One of my friends from the college suggested I celebrate quitting my job with a party, and I reminded her that I was now officially broke and unemployed. She laughed, and said “then host a potluck!” Which was the perfect idea.

We caught a lucky break in the rainy weekend weather, and the kids ran around outside, decorating eggs (pre Easter,) skateboarding on the street, and blowing bubbles. The adult’s typical sitting and chatting activity was priced up by a wonderful folk artist, who joined us for an hour in the evening. Much to everyone’s delight, a couple of our guests jumped in, and we had a great music session on the back porch.

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It was great to host a party… I love hosting and socializing, and somehow, that’s fallen off the radar in the last year or so. I also love bringing people together. We invited our adoption and Ethiopian peeps, but also a good handful of fellow neighbourhood granola crunchers. It’s so neat to hear people who haven’t met before find commonalities and strike up interesting conversations. And one of the funniest things is when people run into others that they already know at your house. One of our guests remarked with a laugh, at a chance meeting: “well, there are only so many cool in our community, so it’s not a shock when we run into each other!”

Ok, so I just have to add in a little picture of my munchkins and their chocolate puppies. The Easter bunny, in a moment of weakness, forgot about buying fairtrade chocolate and went for the shaped waxy stuff instead. They are so cute! But they didn’t finish the whole thing, since they like the richer stuff…

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The next day after the potluck, we went out for an Easter egg hunt in the park beside a friend’s house. There were twenty some odd kids there, and their respective adults, standing around and eating fruit. Good times!

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Our family time was spent relaxing, and enjoying the sunshine. Jason has been in the still snowy wilds of Saskatchewan, so he was pretty stoked to enjoy little bits of spring. We went for icecream, mini golfed, went on walks, and even went out to the Woodfire bakery for some carnivorous deliciousness. For the record, Spice did not actually eat all that. It was leftovers for days! Lol

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