Courageous & Strong

Each time my Daisy Scouts meet, we discuss a line from the Girl Scout Promise. And every time they learn a new line they receive a petal (patch) that represents the concept. Recently we talked about "courageous and strong". We read a story about what it means to be courageous and strong. We talked about things that we do that require courage and strength. And we watched a short cartoon about people who were courageous and strong. Helen Keller and Rosa Parks.

My child really latched on to Rosa Parks, recognizing her in a similar cartoon short about Martin Luther King and referencing her several times in conversations. I was (am) really happy that something she learned in Daisy Scouts stuck. Not for nothin'- all this effort. So, I hatched a plan to nurture this interest in Rosa Parks, combining it with another relevant interest- a desire to ride a city bus. Janie Kathryn is somewhat obsessed with buses and wanting to ride on one.

Jorma was not as enthusiastic as I had hoped. Honey, let's take a 40 minute bus ride downtown, transfer to the trolley and check out the Rosa Parks exhibit at The Civil Rights Museum. But when he realized how excited Janie Kathryn was about the idea, he relented. A trooper, that husband of mine.

So, we headed downtown. Janie Kathryn's favorite part was riding the trolley. My favorite part was her excited chant, inside the museum, as we stood in line to board the bus with a statue of Rosa Parks. "I'm going to see Rosa Parks on the bus, I'm going to see Rosa Parks on the bus." Note: Janie Kathryn wanted me to break the rules and take a photo of her on the bus, but Girl Scouts respect authority, so no photo. Jorma's favorite part was when it was over. Did I mention my husband is a trooper?

If you're wondering if the Civil Rights Museum is age appropriate, I'd have to say no, if your child is six years old. There are quite a few large photographs of noose victims. There was a 10-minute video at the beginning of our tour, about which I inquired about age appropriateness. Yeah, a little inappropriate. After the film, we were the last to leave the theater, explaining why crosses were burned and the police (POLICE!) were dragging women across the ground.

Though my original plan was to zip in and out, visiting only the "Rosa Parks bus," our overall experience was good. As Jorma pointed out, everything else opened a dialogue- a dialogue that fosters an understanding of just how courageous and strong Rosa Parks and so many others had to be. And if you're wondering how I explained burning crosses to six year old...  

"Well, in this world some people are mean just for the sake of being mean. Those people who burned the crosses were trying to make people afraid- afraid of doing the right thing." 


Valentines with Heart

Here at the Skeen house we like to make our valentines from scratch. Okay, so we like the idea of making them from scratch. The execution isn't always pleasant, but the end result is always satisfaction. This year I found my valentine inspiration on Pinterest, of course. I found this adorable friendship bracelet valentine and thought it would be the perfect project for Janie Kathryn's class and my students as well... all 127 of them.

Obstacle #1: Bracelets
There was no way that we (me and the little one) were going to make 16 bracelets for her class. So, there was like double... no triple... or quintuple no way I was making 127 more for my 2nd-5th graders! I once again turned to my handy dandy search bar and after several trillion searches I found a fair trade company, based in Denver, that sells wholesale quantities of bracelets made by craftspeople in Peru. The best part: all profits benefit schools in Peru. I take 150, please!

Obstacle #2: Valentine Cards
After splurging on the bracelets (even for a good cause), it wasn't in the budget to buy 150 valentines or the supplies to make them. So, I had to get resourceful. An idea came to me while working on Valentine's Day bulletin boards at school. I was using my school's die cutter to cut hearts and tossing the frames into the recycling, when I realized how useful those pieces of paper with heart-shaped holes might be!
The teacher workroom proved to be a valuable resource indeed. I rummaged through the recycling bin and found all sorts of scraps that I could use. A few pieces of pastel copy paper, some die cut scraps added to a collection of half used sheets of heart stickers I had at home... I was ready to get crafting!

The Finished Product:
After all the effort, I have to admit I was a little concerned that it wouldn't be as appreciated as I hoped it would be. I went around, from room to room, leaving my valentines in 127 festively decorated valentine bags. The next day I was delighted to see so many students with bracelets tied around their wrists. I received many heartfelt thank-yous and engaged in several conversations about fair trade and Peruvian crafts. It was a good feeling and a happy Valentine's Day!


Mrs. Skeen Loves a Theme!

Janie Kathryn was invited to an Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party. When told the guests could dress up, I immediately started searching my mental inventory of appropriate attire. Her Dorothy costume could be converted into Alice easily enough, but the birthday girl would be Alice. Then I remembered a haggard old dress in her dress-up box that would be perfect for the role of Queen of Hearts!

So, a few hours before the party, I got to work. I had to hastily sew up several obvious tears. Next I stapled, yes stapled, several playing cards to the inner layer of the dress. Always save your incomplete sets of playing cards, you never know when you might be able to use them! Happy that I found a reason to use my red staples, I also stapled several felt heart-shaped ornaments to the dress -75% off Christmas Clearance find.

Then I used felt Valentine heart stickers, stuck to the inside of a gossamer. The sheer outer-skirt protected the accoutrements while obscuring my make-shift, no-sew fastening job. With the addition of one more felt ornament to the front of the gown, the Queen of Hearts began to take shape.  It was time to move on to hair and make-up. Both are important parts to a successful off-with-their-heads kind of look.

The easy peasy crown was fashioned from half sheet of 12x12, red, glittery scrapbook paper, stapled of course, and finished with a few felt heart stickers and the pièce de résistance- The Queen herself. The heart-shaped lipstick, a heart on the cheek, and a little bit of eyes brought the look full circle.

"Who's been painting my roses red? Who dares to taint, 
with vulgar paint, the royal flower bed? 
For painting my roses red, someone will lose his head!"