Brownie Hiker badge

Well I have to say, this one is pretty simple – we do a Fall Hike with all Girl Scouts in our area, it’s a family event and really laid back and fun! We arrived early so we could do certain requirements prior to starting our hike…

  1. Decide where to go
  2. Try out a hiking skill
  3. Pick the right gear
  4. Pack an energy snack
  5. Go on an hike & play a game

Step 1: Select a park with trails or Girl Scout camp to take a hike in – we choose a local public park

Step 2: We had maps printed out of the park prior to going, we learned how to look at the key and figure out where we were on the map several times during our hike

Step 3: The right gear – well anytime my troop plans ANYthing outdoors, it rains – so we discussed types of shoes you should and shouldn’t wear, clothes to wear, backpack or small bag to carry water, snack, small first aid kit, and extra gear if necessary. 

Step 4: A snack – so we had every girl sign up to bring an ingredient to make GORP (Good Ol Raisins & Peanuts) so we had all sorts of things like chex, pretzels, peanuts, mini marshmallows, dried fruit, mini chocolate chips/m&ms, and baggies to put it in. Obviously if you have any allergies omit items as needed. We had each girl dump the item she brought in a big bowl, then divided it into baggies to carry on the trail. We also discussed why some things are good to pack, nuts for protein, chocolate or marshmallows for sugar/energy…etc.

Step 5: We played iSpy or nature bingo…not sure what we called it. Basically each girl had a sheet with pictures of different things they may see, and they marked them off as they saw them. And of course if they did see something they were to share it by pointing it out to the rest of the troop so we could all enjoy. 

Now you are all official Hikers, and hopefully it doesn’t rain every time you go outside.


Brownie Quest Journey

Brownie Quest Journey

This Journey we worked on slowly but surely…start to finish it took us 6 months to complete, mostly because we had to wait to do our service project – the winter here in Michigan was brutal!

The Discover Key: We did this along side the My Best Self badge by adding a few components…so while the girls were presenting their colored picture of themselves they also shared what special qualities or talents they have.

The Connect Key: The girls brought props if necessary to show the group their talent, we had everything from artwork/drawings, gymnastics, soccer ball handling, to violin playing. After the girls shared their talent we took a poll to see who else posses that talent/skill. We learned we have a lot of artists & gymnasts in our group. 

The Take Action Key: This one took a lot of brain storming – and many changes in our plans until we finally nailed the project we could execute and the girls actually agreed upon. We did this after cookie season, we had 72 boxes so 6 full cases of Girl Scout cookies donated. (Momma brag – 60 of the 72 were sold by my Boo!) We had to find who we wanted to donated all these cookies too, and who would take them (yes! this is MUCH harder than you would think).

  • We settled on a Fire Station to which one of our girls father is a fireman at and who had recently lost 2 men in a blaze, we gave them a case – the girls all made a card…happy cards, thanking them for their service – whatever else upbeat thoughts they wanted to express. (**side note- when doing community outreach projects, remind girls to sign ONLY their first names, not their lasts – kids are so use to being in school and writing first and last but for safety we should keep it secure). 
  • The remaining 60 boxes we were going to donate directly to our community social services, but then we learned about an even better way. In the Spring the local food bank, social services, and family aid have a “basket” contest. Basically local groups, organizations, businesses, or individuals create a “basket” for donation and then people voted with money on the “best.” The “baskets” and the money used in voting is all donated to the 3 organizations – which just amplifies the donation. We used our artist skills to create a “basket” which typically aren’t baskets but various other containers, the girls had a blast creating it! We didn’t win in our category…but we donated all our boxes of cookies, had fun, and raised a little extra money for charity. 

Celebration & Reflection Unlocking the Code to Leadership: We didn’t hold a huge celebration but we did talk about what we did, and even though we didn’t win how what we did helped so many people. 

Brownie Badge – My Best Self

We did this as our kick-off to Brownies badge – girls worked on some while we had a parent meeting.


  1. Get to know your body
  2. Eat & Play in a Healthy Way
  3. Find out how your body works
  4. Know what to do if something bugs you
  5. Meet a health helper

Here’s what we did to meet them…

Step 1: The girls colored pictures of themselves, with hair, skin & eye color, outfit in their favorite color – then the girls shared with everyone

Step 2: Try 3 different kinds of activities – skipping, jumping rope, and dribbling a basketball – we did as stations, and had the girls talk about what they liked and didn’t like, then they committed to doing one new activity 3 times for 20 min in 1 week.

Step 3: We discussed what a healthy body temperature is, and what it means when it is outside the normal range. We took each girls temp. and charted it on a graph

We had a line for 97.6*, 98.6* “average”, & 99.6* which are the upper and lower limits for “normal” then we looked at how close everyone was, and if anyone was outside the “normal” range.

Step 4: Create a “happy bag” with about 5 items that make you smile 🙂 we had brown lunch sacks and decorated them with pictures, the girls names, words…then when the girls got home they filled them with books, squishy squeezing balls, stuffed animals, pictures of happy times, or any other things they wanted.

Step 5: We had a school nurse visit our meeting, she spoke a bit about what nurses at school would do and then the girls got to ask questions. The nurse said her biggest thing she does is monitor head lice (ewww) she worked at elementary level. The girls then all shared their lice stories (eww eww!)

As a side note – isn’t it funny that lice is something pretty much everyone (at least girls) has lice at least once growing up…and if you have kids you dread the day – but the funny part is no one talks about it with other moms. Boo had lice like 4 or 5 times last spring/summer…totally gross but when you have hair to your waist you are high risk. We have learned the tricks of keeping lice at bay…besides all the things we were taught as kids don’t share hats, brushes, or hair accessories. We keep her hair back in braids, ponies, and hair spray – lice don’t like hair product and its hard for them to transfer when hair is tight to the head. 

And with that you have earned My Best Self

Dressing girls

My sister and I grew up in a traditional household, the two of us girls about 22 months apart in age (she’s older), and our parents. We never ever wanted to be mixed up, even with almost 2 years between us people often thought we could be twins. We made she we never ever dressed remotely similar, mostly because she was a “I don’t care girl – not really a tom boy” and I was very girly and pink and clean. The only time we dressed even somewhat alike was for family pictures, like once every 5 years!

Now fast forward to today…let’s first talk kids and ages 

#1 is my 9yo step-daughter who visits our home once a month
#2 is my Boo who is 7 – about 17 months younger than #1

#3 is my 4 yo step-daughter who lives with us 50%
#4 is my 3 yo step-daughter who also lives with us 50% – about 15 months younger than #2

3 & 4 live with their mom the other 50% of the time, she dresses them alike, partly for convenience but the other part for attention I think. When they are at our house, the wear clothes from our house, and I dress them as different as possible, they are two different little girls, and have 2 very different personalities.

Now here’s the funny part, #1 & Boo only see each other about once a month or so, they have become better friends then “sisters.” These two little girls want to dress as identical as possible. To me this is such a foreign concept as when I was growing up I did everything of the opposite. If one is in a skirt, you bet the other is going to find a skirt to wear, even if she has to pull it out of the dirty laundry :/ 

Well the one benefit of having 4 girls is that there are hand-me-downs galore, and since they are all girly princess girls, none of their clothes get “worn-out.” The other benefit of the girls being close in age is the older two and the younger two can basically share clothes. The older two wear the same exact size in clothes and shoes, its basically like having a double sized wardrobe. 

Maybe this is a girls dream….hmm

Firefighter for a day

Boo was recently “fire fighter for a day”…pretty cool experience.

How you say? In the Fall at Boo’s elementary they do a “Fun Run” which is basically like a fun hour to play outside and be active. The kids collect donations for the Fun Run – similar to sponsoring a runner for the laps they run, or a flat donation for running in a charity race. This is the schools main fundraiser, hallelujah I don’t have to buy or sell “crap” to my friends and relatives! Most families just write a check, they set a goal of $50 – per child, or $70 – family, however they make it competitive…and anyone that knows me knows I LOVE to win. So class that earns the most wins a recess prize pack (not sure what this really is) but Boo’s class also won this. And then the top 4 earners win a “for a day” experience, Principal, Secretary, Fire Fighter, and Police Officer. Pretty cool huh?

Parents donate money, with little effort, and give away “free” prizes…the PTA has made this work in everyone’s favor.

So Boo was #3 at her school, with $270 in donations. Her good girl friend in her class was #4, and according to Boo, #1 was a boy “who was #1 every year,” and #2 was also a boy. Now this is where the wonderful magic starts…this is the great world in which we live…they get to choose in the order of which they placed. Here goes…

#1 – 3rd grade boy (who has been #1 for now the 4th year, and always selects Principal) he selects Principal – again

#2 – also a 3rd grade boy selects Secretary (of the school)

#3 – my Boo, 2nd grade girl selects Fire Fighter

#4 – 2nd grade girl selects by default, but was her second choice Police Officer

What a gender role reversal. Now I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I was just quite surprised to learn the 2 boys choose traditional female roles, and the 2 girls choose traditional male roles. I actually think its pretty cool that either a we have evolved enough to not see a difference or b that these kids even at 8 or 9 years old are comfortable enough to choose roles that interest them instead of what they are “suppose” to choose.

This is only the start of raising strong women. She was also featured in our local paper about her day, and all the girls in her girl scout troop have told her how awesome it was! One mom told her “you’re famous?”


The unexpected I wasn’t expecting…

Finally realizing that I’m the party planner of my family is a bit bitter sweet…let’s look at today, and then why I am shocked.

Mother’s Day 2014 – This was the most amazing thing I could have asked for, it started yesterday Boo and I went on a girl scout field trip, hubs was taking Harm & Tater to his moms for a visit…I return home and find my parents in my front yard – all new plants along foundation and weeds dug out of front yard. This desperately needed to be done, when we moved in 2 summers ago, the sellers had just planted new shrubs along the foundation, but they died…we tried planting new plants last year and they also died. The front of our house faces the south, and has direct sunlight all day not to mention there really isn’t anything blocking the sun hitting the front of our brick house so basically if you wanted to cook a brick oven pizza you may be about to use my front yard. I was dreading doing the dig-up and re-plant so I was so grateful to see my parents had done this task for me! Hubs thinks this day, and most, are lame and useless. And I never want much, but its nice just to have one day where you feel like a Queen. Last night he rounded up the 3 girls and made cards. Which is a HUGE step for him, as he is not crafty by any means. This morning I got many hand-made cards from the girls, which I LOVED! Then he made breakfast for the girls, and me – again I LOVED. And then Boo “took” my mom & I to lunch on his dime. Now this was my kind of day…not some “stuff” you bought just to “give” me something, but time together, love from the girls & hubs…this was the ultimate Mother’s Day. 

…now the part of why I’m shocked…let’s take a look at history

June 2004: My parents 25th wedding anniversary, I was living out of my parents home but within a 10 min drive of their house, my older (by 2 years) sister was home from college for the summer. I planned a surprise party for my parents, coordinating the invites, how to get them out of the house, the food, the booze, the hotel accommodations for out-of- towners – which is anyone related to me – and of course most importantly how to get them out of the house. My sister was a brain to bounce ideas off of, and a financial partner. Went off without a hitch!

Jan 2007: My mom’s 50th birthday, I was still living within minutes of my parents, but had just had my first daughter 6 weeks premature about 10 weeks prior to the party. Again planned it all, as my sister was now living out of state where she had attended college. Again went off without a hitch!

**side note: after both of these events my mom always said she didn’t know but she knew something was up because my sister and I were “getting along” lol. We are sisters, we love each other, but we’ve never been the bff sisters.

May 2012: My sister’s 30th birthday – now remember she lives out of state, in a city I have never resided. I began brainstorming and researching right after she turned 29, because I had no idea how I was going to pull this one off. I began planning, and enlisting the help of my mother and a friend of my sister’s who lived in the same town. I eventually got this party planned and again sister was shocked and went off without a hitch!

June 2013: Last summer – my dad’s 60th birthday, now this one was quite challenging because my dad is VERY skeptical of everything. I had to plan for a long time, and coordinated several people to make this work. First I had to figure out how to get him to take the day off work, because at this time he was working a job that he occasionally worked weekends. This is where my sister came in handy, I had her call and tell him she was coming to town this weekend because she was out of town on business the weekend following his birthday. Now as an adult my dad never had a close local friend, but he had lots of fraternity brothers that he kept in regular touch with. As a side note – grown men revert back to college frat days even when they’re 60 with grandkids. He knew nothing was going on until maybe a few hours before the party. Remember I said he was always on alert? (I think this is where I get it) He thought something may be up so he started checking for clues…he “noticed” a couple of my parents coolers were missing from the attic…now he had no reason to be inventorying the attic but he was. So he might have know we were going to have a party…but he had NO idea who was going to be there. Never the less he was SURPRISED! Frat brothers, relatives, former co-workers, and of course his buddy (my daughter). 

So that brings us to current times…March 2014 I was due – the big 3-0 was coming whether I was ready or not. Birthday comes…and goes, with barely a blip on the radar. UGH! My co-workers were about my only celebration – balloons, cake, flowers, desk wrapped in caution 30 tape, and of course lots of fun cards. Now I had realized about a month prior to my birthday that I wasn’t having a party because my sister had to undergo planned surgery (not elective – had to and fairly swiftly). My parents we down and were with her for this, my dad stayed an additional 4 weeks to help her get around and take care of her 2 dogs, my mom was home for my birthday. But hubs – didn’t really do anything either, I had flowers delivered to my work and we went to dinner with my mom & daughter the day after. Otherwise there was nothing…and up until now I have been rather bitter about it, kinda like “seriously people? you couldn’t even send me a card?” I guess I’m still a bit bitter but I have been trying to tell myself that I can’t be upset, it’s not worth it.

Today is the day I realized that I’m the “party planner” of the family…no one planned my any sort of party because they don’t do that. They may assist, or throw money in to help, but to plan is not in their blood. I guess this is good and bad – the good is when its party planning time I don’t really have any competition, the bad is when it’s my turn unless I plan it it isn’t happening. 


Why has Facebook all the sudden become everyone’s personal soapbox? Everyone from all walks of life young, old…

I don’t talk politics, there were a few items I learned you don’t talk about: money, politics, & religion. Not that you never talk about these items but you don’t talk to just anyone about them.

At church, or whatever religious place you go to…that’s where you talk religion.

With a financial assistant, loan officer, your boss 🙂 or any other financial influential person is who you discuss money with.

Politics…well I’m not sure when this is appropriate.

The HOT political topics I currently see lighting up my Facebook are gay marriage, vaccinations, and who are next round of elected officials will or will not be.

A brief look at my thoughts that I rarely discuss deeper…

Gay Marriage: What’s the big deal? Let people marry who they want – our country was founded on a freedom of religion and a SEPARATION of church and state. Church Marriage – Not legal, if you don’t go to the state to get a license your religious ceremony means nothing. State Marriage – legal. So if churches or religious organizations choose not to marry people they do not agree with…then fine they have the right. The state however doesn’t, because there is no legal reason why they shouldn’t be able to marry. Let people adopt children and have equal rights…if two loving people make a home and raise children in it, who cares what sexuality they are. I briefly watched some of the court proceedings here in Michigan over the rights of gay marriage…and this argument made me say hmm “The state also argued that it has a “legitimate” interest in preserving the traditional family structure because it claims children thrive best when married moms and dads raise them.” So if the state would rather married moms & dads live together and raise children, why haven’t they banned divorce? (I know not realistic but a hypothetical) What about single mother’s who end up raising a child alone? Our government really thinks that same sex couples are worse than divorced parents fighting, single parents, no parents, or state foster care? I think not! 

Vaccinations…I have done much research, but am by no means a medical professional. However I do believe parents should be allowed to make their own decisions on how they want to raise their children. I do not think that it should be forced upon people and parents should be berated over their decisions. If our government didn’t have a hand in the drug companies pockets, it might be easier to agree with the science. But did you know every time you get a vaccination – the government receives cash? Do you realize that every year since the “flu shot” has come to the mainstream it went something like this:

  • year 1: “here’s a flu vaccine – if you receive it you won’t get the flu, we only have enough for pregnant woman, children & the elderly” 6 months later “whoopsy we didn’t get the right strain this year nature chose fu3 and we vaccinated for fu1”
  • year 2: “here’s a flu vaccine – if you receive it you won’t get the flu, we only have enough for pregnant woman, children & the elderly, oh and anyone who is in regular contact with any of these groups” 6 months later “whoopsy we didn’t get the right strain this year nature chose fu8 and we vaccinated for fu3”
  • year 3: “here’s a flu vaccine – if you receive it you won’t get the flu, we have enough for EVERYONE…you get a flu shot, and you get a flu shot, everyone gets a flu shot!!!!! and this year we nailed it, we put 2 strains in” 6 months later “whoopsy we didn’t get the right strain again this year nature chose fu14 and we vaccinated for fu2 & fu4″

Again…I’m not anti-vaccination, however I am – do your research, know what you are putting in your body or your child’s, make an educated choice not one someone made for you. People do more research on which smart phone, or TV they are going to purchase then the medicines they put into their bodies.

Money: we don’t talk about money. when people talk about money they probably don’t have it, when people don’t talk about it, they also probably don’t have it. 🙂


Chalk art


Welcome to my blog!

First I’ll introduce myself, I’m Andrea, or as 4 small people call me mom. I just turned 30, and I’m trying to refocus a smidge more attention to myself, but I have 4 daughters (almost 9, 7, 4 & 3), one biological, and 3 step, and a husband that kind of acts like another kid! 

I’m a typical 2014 mom, I work full time outside the home – the only one that pays me, then I’m also a Girl Scout Brownie leader, housekeeper, chef, personal assistant, finance manager, chauffeur, counselor, doctor, magic maker, and fairy tale creator. 

I like to organize and plan events. I don’t like “just wingin’ it” I like to know what I’m in for. I usually have a minimum of 5 different things going on, and somehow I manage to get it all done, and sometimes even impress myself!

With a big family, we have to get creative and watch our budget closely. I like to buy in bulk & prepare dinners for the freezer – I’m still working on getting this system down. We sacrificed living in a smaller house to live in a wonderful city – that I grew up in – with an excellent school system, but at times it feels like we are going to burst at the seams!

I am heavily involved in our local Girl Scouts, I am my 7yo daughters Troop Leader, as well as a Troop Organizer for all of the Brownie troop in our area. It keeps me busy, and I really enjoy working with the girls. Soon we will start camping…I’m not an outdoorsy chic but I somehow have to convince 12 little girls that its “cool!” 

The girls and I started an organic garden in our backyard last year – we didn’t get too much but it was fun and a jump start to learning. We will be starting up our garden again soon, but this winter ins SE Michigan was brutal! The girls love all the parts of gardening, and that’s the best part.

Even if no one ever reads this blog I don’t mind – I’m just doing it for fun!

♥ ATenn4