Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fourth Generation Girl Scout

After devoting a large chunk of the past 72 hours to things Girl Scout, I just logged onto a GS alumnae page and set up an account. It asked me what generation girl scout I am, and since my mom was a scout, I put, 2nd.

Which means, this little girl?

Third Fourth-generation girl scout.

(After posting this, my Grandma informed me that she had been a Scout too. I didn't know that! So I am actually a third-gen Girl Scout, and Nutmeg is Fourth.)
Kinda cool, isn't it? That picture was taken Friday night, when her troop held a little ceremony to bridge the girls from Daisies to Brownies. She's wearing her brownie sash for the first time. See the blue daisy vest in her arm? Headed for the lucite case in Mother's Trophy Room. (AKA the crawl space.)

Not only was Friday evening dedicated to me choking back tears while jostling with other parents for the best photo angles, I mean, scouting, but today was all about the scouting as well. We drove to Wisconsin to visit the Girl Scout Camp that Nutmeg will be attending this summer. Just two nights, but still.

My baby is going to CAMP!

Girl Scout Camp produced some of the most positive memories of my childhood. Since I was not popular socially at school, I relished the chance to start fresh summers and make at least temporary friends. I had read lots of books set at camps so I came prepared -- a little too prepared -- with contraband candy, Mad-Libs and lists of practical jokes, most of which we fortunately never pulled off. I still sing the songs I learned at camp all the time, like Linstead Market, which I just found out is Jamaican. I always pictured it being an Alaskan Eskimo singing for some reason. Sometimes I even sing the one terribly un-PC song where you are supposed to pull your eyes into a slant as one of the hand motions. Nutmeg won't be singing that one at camp because it's been removed from the Girl Scout song book, but too late, it's part of my psyche and I'll never be able to forget it, because it's so dang catchy. (Tangent: This one time, in China? A Chinese kid came up to us and pulled their eyes and mouth wide open to make fun of US

In my later years of Girl Scout Camp, I went to a session where we went horseback riding, and I made some good friends and we arranged to share a platform tent together the next year, and wrote each other letters. It was a big thing for me, both the riding of horses and the making of friends.

So when we pulled into the camp to tour it today, I expected to be flooded with memories. In reality, nothing looked all that familiar. Never mind, I had a wonderful time watching Nutmeg's excitement grow as she made and ate a s'more, visited the cabin where she's be sleeping in bunks, and chatted with some counselors. She'll be going along with her best friend, and I just reveled in the way she held her friend's hand in the beginning and introduced the both of them to the counselor who asked their names.

The lodge looked familiar, yet not. I found out that an entire section had been added in recent years, which explained that.

Then I went home and started Googling, and I soon realized that this was not the exact same place where my Girl Scout camp had taken place. I had noticed that the names were different, but I thought that it had just been changed because my camp had an Indian name and the mascotization of the Native American stuff is not so popular these days.

But on a map, I saw that they are actually two different camps, six miles apart. They're on two different lakes. I found some photos of my camp, which looked much more familiar and brought back more memories.

We probably did take a long hike at some point to that lodge, so it makes sense that this would look familiar to me.

No matter. To my newly minted Brownie, everything was fresh and new, and she came away bounding with excitement for her return visit. Can you imagine, that my little baby is going away to camp?

She's not worried about it at all. And honestly, neither am I. Let the camp games begin!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

This Land is YOUR Land, This Land is MY LAND (repeat)

We went on a trip. I'm not calling it a "vacation," because when you are even a part-time SAHM, in my book you are only on vacation if there are no children on it with you. Sorry.
Our trip took us to three cities in eight days, with three children under 8. There has got to be a story problem in there somewhere.
Yes, I now realize that this was a bit overambitious. Not so much because of the number of children involved -- mostly because of the number of car seats. But considering that, it went smashingly.
We met three babies of friends that we had never met before, I mean we had never met the babies, obviously we had met the friends because they were not those Internet "friends" who you have never met before, but real life friend friends. You know. One of those "babies" was 3 years old so obviously it had been too long since we got together with our West Coast friends. All the babies were much better looking, smarter and more charming than your average baby, because that is the kind of gene pool we swim in.
We stayed in the homes of two of our wonderful, generous friends, and I hope those friends will agree that our kids were reasonably well behaved there. We also slept on an Amtrak train, in a sleeping compartment, which the kids loved. I would have loved sleeping in there if I could have slept -- unfortunately Toth was very restless and he kept Epu and I awake for much of the night. Then there was the little incident where our train ran somebody over. Fortunately, the kids didn't hear the details of our 5-hour delay, and really, Eugene, Ore., is not such a bad place to be stuck on a sunny afternoon/warm evening. Really, the worst part of the whole event (for us, not for the "trespasser" who was hit) was hearing the new conductor saying on the speaker the next day, "Let this be a lesson to you." Really? What lesson would that be? I'm thinking, "Stay the eff off our tracks because we will eff you up."
Lesson learned.
Throughout the whole trip, what impressed me most is how much the kids enjoyed the simple things we did. On only two days did we go anywhere that charged admission -- the Seattle Aquarium, the Seattle Children's Museum, and Muir Woods outside San Francisco. The rest of the time, we walked around, looked at waterfronts and neighborhood gardens, visited bookstores, ate in restaurants, and ran around on the beach. The girls drank in all the sites, joked around, and sang 10,000 choruses of "This Land Is Your Land."
It was our first true "family vacation," and although I will definitely wait until Toth is out of his car seat -- and diapers -- before taking on another one, it filled me with dreams of more family trips to come.
It did the same thing for Nutmeg, apparently. While we walked through Muir woods, marveling at the redwood trees, she asked me, out of the blue, if we would take her to Yellowstone Park someday.
"You bet!" I told her. We held hands on the path and spun a plan to put a map of the United States -- or maybe the world -- up on a wall at home and mark all the places we've visited together.
Now that we're home, and the daily grind has returned, the idea of purchasing the map and hanging it on the wall feels as daunting as any other little plan floating around our half-decorated house. And yet, the fact that all three of my kids held it together on our whirlwind West Coast tour, pulled their own suitcases (Nutmeg pulled hers and carried her backpack even after she threw up on the floor of O'Hare on our post-midnight return trip), and slept in four different locations over eight days? This is the light at the end of my tunnel, the beacon showing me that our kids are becoming more independent, and one day I will have a long enough break from preparingmealscleaningupfrommealschangingdiaperscombinghairnaggingtopickupyourclothes to put up that map. And even plan the trips that will fill it up.