Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Harry Potter's Sorting Hat and Laundry

Laundry sorting is fun (sort of) when you use the sorting hat.
Like most people, I'm a Harry Potter fan. My kids and I read all the books as soon as they came out. We own all the movies and have listened to Jim Dale read the audiobooks.

One summer, I went Potter crazy with the kids. Instead of chores, I gave them tasks from the goblet of fire. It was serious fun. Yes, my kids knew it was another way to get them to work. They're not dumb. They didn't enjoy it too much. Still, my Harry Potter sorting system worked for years. All you need is a big hat and some labels to put next to your laundry baskets or piles. (I photocopied some of those little pictures at the beginning of each chapter for the labels. Then I added my own words--Slytherin, Ghosts, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw. I'm sure someone more crafty than I could do it better.)

We sorted this way:

Rags were Slytherin.

Whites were Ghosts.

Darks were Gryffindor.

Lights were Hufflepuff.

Towels and Sheets were Ravenclaw.

Since this has been such an inspiring post, I'll end with my favorite quote:

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."--Albus Dumbledore

How have you chosen to bring your favorite books into your life?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How to Do a Super Simple Eagle Court of Honor

My son Ben earned his Eagle in scouting last month. He worked really hard to earn all his merit badges and to clean up graffiti for his project. We're proud of him. Since we had his court of honor, several moms have asked me how to do an Eagle court of honor. (Our troop expects the parents to plan a personalized court of honor for each boy who earns an Eagle award.) Since my boys just want to get through the ceremony and eat, we keep ours short and sweet. If you want something super fancy, my plan may not suit you, but if you want to keep it short and sweet, this might work.

Here's my to-do list summarized:
  • First, decide where you want to hold your Court of Honor. Make a reservation if necessary.
  • Have your son print out invitations and take them to his former leaders, friends, family, etc..
  • Have your son call any special guests he wants to have for speakers or to receive a mentor pin.
  • Make a facebook event invitation (or other e-invite.)
  • Plan out any refreshments you want to serve.
  • Buy supplies at the party store. I got some disposable tablecloths, plus some plates, cups, napkins, and utensils.
  • If you want to do a display, gather items like award certificates, picture albums, scout projects, trophies, extra scout badges, art projects, and anything else that showcases your son's abilities. Before the ceremony, you can lay these things out on a table. It gives people something to look at when they arrive.
Agenda for the Ceremony:
Prayer: (we asked one of the scouts to say it)

Flag Ceremony: (we had my cub scout lead it. Click here to get instructions for an easy one.)

Eagle's Nest (make sure you have some chairs set off to the side for all the boys and men who are Eagles to sit in. Then the person conducting invites all the Eagle Scouts to come forward and sit in the chairs.)

Talk by Scout leader (my older son didn't want this part, so we skipped it the first time.)

Presentation of Award (This includes a mother's pin, a father's pin, and the boy's Eagle. We asked his old scoutmaster to present the award.)

Presentation of Mentor Pin (The boy presents the mentor pin to one of his leaders who has helped him a lot in scouting. At this point the boy can say a few words, thanking his leaders and those present for the support they've given him.)

Refreshments (Our first court of honor was at night, so we served rootbeer floats. The second time was in the middle of the day, so we served a light lunch with pulled pork, chips, etc. I used this recipe for pulled pork.)

 I'd love to hear from readers about what worked for them in planning their Eagle Court of Honor.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lies My Hairdressers Tell Me

For the past few years, I've been bouncing around among hairdressers, trying to find one I like. This is a great way to learn new hairstyling tips. However, there've been a few times when I've scratched my head. I'm pretty sure that some of the things I've learned weren't exactly . . . true.

I've shared a few below. Let me know what you think:

I had one hairdresser tell me about a great way to get rid of split ends. You twist a length of hair tightly and then run a lighter up and down the twisted strands. The lighter burns only the split ends sticking out. The rest of the hair doesn't burn because it's twisted too tightly to let in oxygen. Hmmmmm. (Needless to say, I haven't tested this tip.)

The same hairdresser told me that I need to use two different conditioners when I deep condition. The deep conditioner and the every-day conditioner have different Ph levels, so it's necessary to use them sequentially. 
Gee, and I just thought one was thicker than the other.

Another hairdresser told me that tiny mites live in the ends of our hairs. These mites chew through our hair, causing split ends. The only way to keep the mites in check is to get haircuts every four to six weeks.

I'm pretty sure they're all lies. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tender Mercies

I just got back from a visit to my mom and dad in Virginia. My dad was diagnosed with dementia about two years ago, and it's gotten to the point where he doesn't remember much at all. The day after I arrived, he looked at me and said, "You're so much taller and heavier than I remember." I wasn't offended because I realized he was expecting me to still be a child.

His mind seems to have gone back to his long term memories. He's forgotten the death of his parents, his first marriage, and most events from the past thirty or forty years. According to mom, he asks the same questions over and over again. Sometimes it's hard to be patient with him.

Dementia has been a hot topic lately. I hear all sorts of things about how you can prevent it by reading, learning new skills, and exercising. You can bet I'll be doing all those things. I just hope that people don't start to think that people with dementia somehow dropped the ball on learning new things, reading, or staying active.

On Saturday, as we sat eating breakfast, I opened the Parade magazine from the newspaper and started reading an article to him. The article was about people who were making a difference in other peoples' lives. Two of the people featured were working to create prosthetic limbs for children in other countries. "Hey," I said, "that's kind of like what you used to do. You used to help kids get wheelchairs and walkers. Do you remember that?"

Dad perked up. "Yeah. How come nobody ever talks about that?"

Surprised that he still remembered, Mom got out a huge framed picture of children that Dad helped while he was a PTA president of Kilmer Center, a school for disabled children. My sister, who is also disabled, was one of the children pictured. (I wrote about my sister previously. Click here to read my post about her.) We reminisced about how Dad went to all the teachers, compiling a list of needs. He then went to the town Lions Club and other groups, seeking donations. In addition, he spear-headed multiple fundraisers. Through his efforts, the school received enough money to help several children walk with the aid of walkers, to buy other needed equipment, to build a new handicapped-accessible playground, and to send teachers to special education training conferences.

After his service at Kilmer Center, Dad went on to serve in other volunteer positions that benefited disabled adults in his area.

It strikes me as ironic that he is now as disabled as the people he spent so much time helping.

On Sundays, Mom frequently has my sister home for the day, so she's, in essence, caring for two disabled adults without any help. This Sunday I was home to experience what my mom calls "the circus." Mom said she prayed all day that we'd be able to handle it all. (That says a lot, doesn't it? That she worried about it, even when I was home to help her.)

It didn't help that we experienced an ice storm that day. Dad was very anxious, and, at one point, went outside on the icy sidewalk, thinking he needed to go somewhere. I followed him outside and forced him to come back inside with me. He is still strong, even though he's unsteady, but I got him back inside without him falling. That was miracle number one.

Miracle number two was that my sister was so well behaved. Normally, it's very difficult to get her out to the car so we can take her home. She does something that my parents call  "a sit-down-strike" where she just sits down and stays. No one can budge her. Personally, I have never been able to get her out to the car. My dad, mom or sometimes my brother were always the ones who eventually succeeded in getting her out to the car. This time, though, she obeyed me. I took her hand, gave her a lecture, and she got up. Granted, she sat down again in the icy slush once we got outside. I told her to get up again, though, and she did! It might be the first time she has ever obeyed me in her life, and it gives me great hope for our future together. Maybe I can actually take her somewhere by myself.

My mom is one of those those people who always hears, "you're such a strong person." She is a strong person because she's risen to the challenges life has presented her. In her way of thinking, there wasn't much choice. Now she has to be strong enough not only to help my dad, but also to accept help from others. It's not her favorite thing to have in-home-care helpers during part of the day, but I'm proud of her for putting up with it all.