Saturday, September 09, 2006

Silver Awards and September errata

September makes me think of cooler weather. As a child, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, September meant jackets in the evenings and early morning hours. Warm sunny afternoons morphed into chilly nights. Schools days began with the exhilarating feeling of sucking cold air into your lungs as you waited for the bus in the morning. By the time you came home in the afternoon, it seemed like summer again. September felt good, not too hot and not too cold.

Of course, living in Houston, the cooling off is marginal and hardly invigorating; however, temperatures did moderate last week, with several days of mere 80 degree weather. That slight cooling off, combined with the lower angle of the sun's rays, remind my body that fall is here and make me long for crisp, clear jacket weather. It will sneak up on us in late October, most likely.

It started raining sometime in the middle of last night, a steady downpour without thunder and lightning, the kind of rain that makes me want to stay in bed and pretend to be asleep. This morning I stayed in bed actually asleep, which I shouldn't have, because I had a 7:45 A.M. date. If my ride had not called me at 7:50 A.M. to say she would be there in five minutes, I'd have been in real trouble.

Tori and I had to go to Texas Children's Cancer Center today with fellow Girl Scout, Gabby, and her mother, Anne. Tori and Gabby are completing a service project for the Cancer Center in order to earn their Girl Scout Silver Award. The cancer Center sponsors and annual art exhibit of works by children/patients at their center and around the world. Gabby and Tori helped set up the art exhibit today and tomorrow will operate the arts and crafts booth during its opening reception.

In addition to assisting with the actual art show, Tori and Gabby also made 300 pony bead kits to give to patients and their siblings at the Cancer Center. If you don't know what a pony bead is, let me enlighten you!

Pony Bead Aside: These colorful beads are the kind that girls use to decorate their hair. Made of plastic, they are 9 mm around and come in every shade and hue imaginable. We ordered ours from a wholesale company I found on the web and got quite a nice price for them. Instead of paying $5.99 for a bag of several hundred, we paid $2.99 per bag of 1000. This is particularly good when you consider that we needed 20,000 beads to make our kits!

The pony beads are strung together on cording or ribbon in, usually, animal patterns, to make keychain decorations and zipper pulls. Gabby and Tori choose to assemble kits for a penguin, a dragonfly, and a lion. In each kit, the girls put the correct assortment of beads, a lanyard clip, a yard and a half of cording, illustrated instructions, and a business card identifying their troop as the donors. They spent many hours sorting beads, creating a veritable assembly line in my kitchen. It's nice to think of 300 children happily making the decorations.

The Girl Scout Silver Award is one of three awards that a Girl Scout can earn. For Junior G.S. it is the Bronze Award; for Cadette G.S. it is the Silver Award; and for Senior G.S. it is the Gold Award. Each one requires harder and harder accomplishments. At each level, a girl must earn service hours, leadership hours, and multiple badges, plus other requirements. A major service project tops off the work. For Bronze it is a 35 hour project, for Silver it is a 50 hour project, and for Gold it is a 75 hour project. Projects must meet certain Girl Scout conditions to be approved.

Earning these awards is a major accomplishment for anyone and very few actually put in the work to do it. Tori and Gabby both earned Bronze Awards in 6th grade and are now finishing their Silver Awards - with only days to spare - in the 10th grade! (The last date before they lose eligibility to earn this award is September 30 because they have now bridged up to Senior Girl Scouts.) Earning their Gold Award comes next, but, right now, neither one of the girls really wants to think about it, and who can blame them?

I am their troop leader and get to go along on almost all of their activities as chaperone and driver. Lucky me, because Girl Scout activities are usually fun. Today, however, Anne was our designated driver and I was supposed to sleep in. That plan came to an abrupt end when Alexandra (my eldest) had another fainting spell at work and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. She ended up at St. Luke's in the Medical Center, certainly an inconvenient location for us any day except today. St. Luke's is across the drive from Texas Children's! So I rolled out of bed way too early on a rainy Saturday morning and hitched a ride in the troop transport.

While Tori, Gabby, Gabby's sister Christa, and Anne worked at the Cancer Center, I visited Alexandra. She is feeling much better, a little disheartened at being in the hospital - which will cost her a minimum of $250 - yet again when there is really no benefit to being there. She has syncope - sing co pee - which is fainting or losing consciousness temporarily. The syncope may or may not be associated with her recently diagnosed problem of complex migraines and her recently discovered friend Larry (a calcified colloid cyst near her third ventricle). An episode of syncope triggered her long summer of ill health, hospitalizations, and related issues.

Say a prayer, light a candle, chant, or whatever it is you do for Alexandra's return to equilibrium. (And I mean that in its broadest sense!!)

I am going to go to the Houston Ballet tonight with my husband for a few hours of blissful removal from reality. Hope your evening is as pleasant.


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