Kevin Hellriegel's Blog of Worthless Advice

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Tag Archives: Girl Scouts

Halloween 2015

Yes, Halloween is tomorrow! Are you excited? Ready to get your freak on? 

No? Me either….

This year we didn’t even bother to get the Halloween decorations out. Sure, we made a quick trip to the pumpkin patch with our Girl Scout troop a few weekends ago. This is where I paid $12 for a pumpkin. Ironically, that “special pumpkin patch” pumpkin was trucked in and placed there by a farm employee; it wasn’t grown there on the spot like everyone wants to believe. So I guess we know who got “Tricked”, right? Just me and my wallet, that’s all.

Our family did however, want to carve a few pumpkins (so we can at least pretend we care about Halloween).  We went ahead and purchased a few more pumpkins at the local grocery store which is a mere 2 minute drive from my house. That 2 minute drive was in comparison to the 30 minute drive I had previously done for my $12 pumpkin. And guess what?  The pumpkins at the grocery store were $4 each.  Yes, my $4 grocery store pumpkin was the same size as the $12 “farm/pumpkin patch” one.
I know, it is all about the “experience”, right?  Everyone wants to drive 30-40 minutes, walk around a muddy field, look at a bunch of dirty pumpkins, carry the dirty pumpkin, buy the pumpkin, overpay for the pumpkin, and then drive back home for another 30-40 minutes.

My daughter is actually into carving pumpkins and turning them into Jack-o-lanterns. I was pretty impressed with her ability to slice and dice up these pumpkins.

Now the pumpkins are carved and ready to be kicked in by some teenager’s shoe on Halloween tomorrow night. We strive to make it a pumpkin smashing good time!

  

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Happy Mother’s Day! A message from your favorite Worthless Advice Blogger!

A Happy Mother’s Day to all the awesome moms that take the time to read my blog; I do appreciate you taking the time away from your kids to read my words of wisdom (or rather my Blog of Worthless Advice). Of course, by reading your blog you are really just learning how to be an even better mother than before, right?
Well, it probably has been a month since I last posted something; which is just plain awful. I was swamped with work (and still am) so I’ve put a lot of projects on the back burner. Then, when I do have free time, I’ve been working on Boy Scout projects or hikes. In fact, last month we did a service project and managed to get in a hike. I’ve decided to include my Girl Scout troop in on these hikes and the girls do just. Our last hike was on May 2 to Taylor Mountain here in King County. I thought it was going to be between 3 to 5 miles but we logged in 8.65 miles on a wonderfully sunny Pacific Northwest day! You can’t complain when you get a great hike in!
I’m still behind on my work, but I’m fairly confident, I can catch up this week. Of course, this is what I say every week. But again, I think I can do it this week. It’s all about positive thinking, right?

Twin Falls State Park Hike – North Bend, WA

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Twin Falls in North Bend….no one fell in so the hike was a success in my book!

The semester ended for our kids this past Monday so the whole school district has to let the kids off for the day. I’m not sure if my kids really go to school for a full five days in a row. What, with all the holidays, late start days, etc. my kids never seem to go to school for a full week.

Wait children….

However, we aren’t here to complain about the state of our education system. Instead we are here to chat about another great little hike here in the Seattle area. It is the Twin Falls Hike off of I-90 in the North Bend area. This is a short hike coming in at only two miles round trip.

Of all the years I have live here, I have never done this hike. With all of this great winter weather we have been having lately, I thought we should take advantage of going on an easy hike during the “off season” of hiking. (Die hard hikers would say there is never an “off season”). From what I have read about this hike, it is a fairly popular hike especially during the summer. Consider it is January and we usually have a bunch of rain, I figured this is as a good time as any to do this hike.

Luckily, I checked the trail report at wta.org and learned that there was a washout on the trail to the Twin Falls. This would stop is if we left from the traditional trailhead off of Exit 34. Good thing I check it out before we started our hike. The Wta.org website is an excellent resource for all hikes in Washington State and I highly recommend checking it out before any hike.

We modified our starting point to the Ollalie State Park parking lot off of Exit 38. You start your hike on the Iron Horse Trail for about half a mile until you come to the spur/trail to the Twin Falls trail. The Iron Horse Trail is an old Burlington Northern railroad bed (now a service road) so the downhill grade is mild for about half a mile. The trail to Twin Falls is clearly marked (from the Iron Horse Trail) and you won’t miss it (unless your face is buried in your phone texting a friend).

After you leave the Iron Horse Trail and use the Twin Falls Trail, you will be going downhill for about 3/4 of a mile. Just remember, you will be going down and that means the way back is uphill.

Easy trail down for my hiking partners and myself. In our hiking band, we had my wife, my daughter, and another Girl Scout (and friend) with us. No one complained about the hike so that means it is a fairly easy one for 12 year old girls and 40 year old parents.

For all you math geeks, the different route brings this hike in at 2.5 miles.

Awesome detailed map of where you will be lost. The best part? You won’t have a clue of where you are at!

Overall, this hike is a good family hike and easy to do. We left the Covington area around 2 pm and we’re back to Covington by 5 pm. That included a stop at McDonalds for hot fudge sundaes (for the girls). Hey, I’m working out so I can win the Fat Ass Dads Weight Loss Challenge so I’m skipping that stuff. Well, until I get home…then I pig out and cry into my bowl of chocolate peanut ice cream….

At least Cyndi (my imaginary stalker) cares….

See those two dots? Those would be the kids I’m suppose to be in charge of.

This is Boy Scouts, not Whiney Scouts!

Yesterday, our Boy Scout troop hiked through the Ape Caves. This isn’t the easiest of hikes, nor is it the hardest of hikes, but it is a hike. You will be walking, climbing, scrambling over piles of boulders, and getting wet. Now, my Boy Scouts took all of this in stride. However, we had some visitors (age 11) from a local Cub Scout pack with us. The Cub Scouts were fine, it is their adult leader that was a pain.

One situation that sticks out in my mind from yesterday’s hike was climbing the lava fall (like a dry waterfall). It is an eight foot wall (drop) and we were climbing up it. To be honest, if your kid likes to climb trees or climb the playground structure at his local elementary school, he can climb this wall. My Girl Scouts could climb this wall (disclaimer: My Girl Scout troop is pretty much fearless and they do an awesome job. In fact, they do a lot of things better than boys. That is for another blog post. And there is nothing wrong like “throwing like a girl”.)

So Mr. Gung Ho Webelos Leader gets to this wall and says “Oh, we can’t climb this. Looks like we need to turn around.” What? I don’t think so. We don’t give up because of a small wall. We passed little kids in this lava tube cave that made it up and down this wall. We passed people that had extra padding on themselves (they were overweight) and they made it up and down this wall. You bet your candy ass, we are making it up this wall.

Sure some of the younger scouts were a little scared but nothing to the point where they were having an epic meltdown. They were frightened but nothing to where we needed to turnaround. Using the EDGE method (Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable), we allowed the older scouts to go up, then some of the younger ones, and finally the fat ass old adults.😄

We helped the Webelos Scouts up and they didn’t have a problem making it up. Sure, it might be a little scary but you don’t give up. Overcoming a little hurdle makes a big different in helping to build their self esteem and demonstrating that teamwork helps to accomplish your goals.

You also have to push your child sometimes. A little motivation from older Boy Scouts and other leaders (other than your parents) can be helpful to get over those whiney moments. A little push in the right direction never hurt anyone.

So what happen to the scouts that were a little afraid? They all made it up the wall. Five minutes later the fear of the wall was a distant memory and they were scrambling over the next pile of rocks.

I asked the scouts afterwards “Did you have fun?” This is when they all broke down, started crying uncontrollably, and said they hated me and Boy Scouts. They screamed and asked in their high pitched voices (between all the sobs and sniffles), why I made them do it.

I didn’t wait for an answer, I just turned and walked away. Jumped in the Green Van of Doom and drove myself home. Bye, bye whiney scouts!!

Some other data from the cave hike: we had six Boy Scouts ranging in ages (12-15), three registered Boy Scout Adult Leaders, a Webelos Leader, and three Webelos scouts (ages 10-11). It took our little band about 2 hours to go through the Upper Ape Cave. We started at the lower entrance and exited out thought the upper entrance. Due to recent rain, the cave/tunnel is wet and there is a lot of water dripping. Be sure to wear waterproof clothes to stay dry. Temperatures in the caves average 42 degree F year round. A single person or a group of two (in reasonably good health HWP) could probably whip through the tunnel more quickly. The hike back is very easy. Make sure you take two sources of light (headlamps were better than flashlights), extra batteries, etc. No food is allowed in the caves.

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Everyone Wants to Be Special or at least feel Special

Let’s get something straight….everyone wants to feel special. They might say that they don’t want to be special, they don’t want to be noticed but, in reality they do. Regardless, everyone wants to be special whether they admit it or not.

If you write a blog, you know this to be true. Sure, you can say you write your blog for yourself, but secretly you hope it becomes hugely popular and you have an extremely large following of devoted followers.

You can say you are an introvert and therefore don’t want to be noticed. This isn’t true. You might be very outgoing when you need to be, yet hate to be around people. You can write an extremely funny blog yet never be able to hold a conversation at a party with new people.

However, on the flip side, if you are comfortable with the people at the party, you are the life of the party.

Everyone says extroverts are the outgoing ones and you want to be around them. However, they dominate the conversation because they need to be always “on”. I think extroverts are a overwhelming. Extroverts love to hear themselves talk. Introverts have the power to turn “on” (or “off”) the “outgoing” side. Introverts have the ability to sit back and not say anything. They can melt into the background, hide in the crowd, and just observe.

I, like everyone else that blogs, hopes my blog takes off and becomes hugely successful. It would be ideal to sit back and construct witty blog posts everyday that lead to more and more followers.

So click on the “like” button and share with your Facebook friends my blog….

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Why wear sunglasses on a dark, cloudy day?

You know what drives me nuts?

People who wear their sunglasses on dark cloudy days.

Sure, I know you can have a bright cloudy day and need your sunglasses. You need your extremely cool sunglasses on bright sunny days; I get that.  I’m a photographer and I am aware of the amount of light I see every day.

No, I’m talking about dark, overcast, ready to pour down rain on you days. I’m talking about people who insist on wearing sunglasses regardless of how dark or light it is outside. I’m not talking about the old grandma types that need them because of cataracts. I’m talking about people who are old enough to know better but want to look “good” in their shades. They can be in their twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties, and they still insist on wearing sunglasses when they clearly don’t need them.

Granted, some people’s prescription eyewear does change with the amount of light that hits them but they have a free pass to wear them. They need them and they aren’t trying to be a model from a hip clothing line. It makes no sense to me. You look like an idiot and it seems to me that you are hiding something.   A little too many martinis at lunch today? That hit off the old meth pipe too much? You were crying because you realized your boyfriend was an ass and you should have dumped him three months like your friends told you to? Why wear the sunglasses? Why look like someone who is clearly an idiot?

Being from the Pacific Northwest region, we have over 200 days of cloudy weather. I understand you might want to wear the sunglasses but it makes no sense. Accept the fact you live here in a cloudy, rainy area of the world with no hope of sunshine except for two months out of the year. Get use to it. It is cloudy here most of the time and the weather is cold (40-50 F) most of the time. If it is 65 F and sunny, we are in heaven here!

Comments? Please for the life of my blog….make some comments!Image

How to Lose Your Girl Scout Troop in Seattle

Girl Scout Adventure to the Smith Tower and MOHAI!

Excuse any mistakes….this blog is from my phone!

On Friday, our Girl Scout Trip had a little adventure to the Smith Tower located in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle via the Sound Transit’s light rail train. All eight of our Girl Scouts showed up for the trip to the top of Smith Tower and the Chinese Room.

We were able to catch the light rail train from the Tukwila station directly to the Pioneer Square neighborhood where the famous Smith Tower (42 stories tall and at one time the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi River) is located. Being from the South King County city of Kent, we have quite a few options to get into Seattle. Instead of driving on Friday morning, we took Sound Transit’s light rail train into Seattle.

My son also came along so we had a total of 12 people on this outing: 8 Girl Scouts, one Boy Scout, and three adults. If anyone is keeping track or needs to plan a trip into Seattle, I’ll be giving you costs for each of travel legs. One of our scouts met us there so our train fare was $34 for our group of 11 people.

Smith Tower is the only place in the Seattle area that has elevator operators. The elevators are staffed by actual human beings that will take you to the observation floor of Smith Tower from the beautiful lobby. The doors on each floor and the elevator’s doors are glass. This allows you and your fellow passengers the treat of seeing each floor as you pass by as you race to the top.

Cost on this part of the trip was lower than normal because Groupon had a deal for four tickets for $14.99. We used three Groupon certificates for the group of 12 we had.

The Smith Tower offers an excellent view to the south, southeast, and southwest of it. The industrial area lays to the south and I-5 freeway to the east. You can see the downtown Seattle business core to the north plus other landmarks like the Space Needle, CenturyLink Field, Safeco Field, and the cranes on the Port of Seattle waterfront. If you have time, you can watch the Washington State Ferries come and go into and back out of Coleman Dock. While the weather wasn’t too clear for us on Friday, I’m sure on a sunny day with blue skies, Mt. Rainier would be visible.

After we had explored the 35th floor observation deck, we descended back down to lobby and returned to the metro tunnel to catch another link rail train to the Westlake Mall area. The transit tunnel was built roughly 25-30 years for buses with the idea that it would one day have trains running through it. Currently, our transit tunnel allows both the light rail trains and buses to run through it and is handy when you know where you want to go.

We got back in the light rail train and rode the it to Westlake, got off and had lunch at the food court. To keep costs down, we had the girls bring a sack lunch. However, there is a small selection of restaurants and smoothie stands in the food court to choose from. The dining area is clean and well lit. Lots of places to eat at and we just made it in before the big lunch rush.

We then went back down to street level and caught the South Lake Union Streetcar north to The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). The Seattle Streetcar is different from the Sound Transit Light Rail system. The street car is run by King Country Metro which is our local county transit authority and the light rail train system is run by Sound Transit, our regional transit system. Confused? I bet. If you live in the area and travel on both frequently you may want to purchase an ORCA pass. However, for a short day trip, we opted to pay the general fair for the ride. Your ticket is good for the ride and you have a two hour transfer that you can use for the return trip. Cost for the streetcar is $2.50 for adults and $1.25 for youth. You can purchase tickets at the kiosk at each stop and on board the streetcar.

One problem I noticed is that the ticket kiosk is designed for you to purchase one ticket at a time. Not a big hassle until you have to purchase 12 tickets and you have to do it one at a time. One of the moms and I spent half the ride purchasing the tickets for all 12 of us. At one point I was tempted to skip it but what kind of example does that set?

We finally made it to the MOHAI and the weather had turned to sunshine. It was a marvelous sunny day in Seattle and one that makes you love Seattle. MOHAI is a beautiful museum and offers so much of the way of Seattle’s history. It moved to this location a year or two ago and it is well thought out. I wasn’t able to finish the whole museum myself. The nice part about the MOHAI is the cost is free for kids under 14. It is pricey for adults at $14 each. Of course they offer a teacher rate and senior rate as well. Luckily for us, I had planned ahead and asked the parents to look for Entertainment Book coupons and we got the four adults in for $24. Not a bad price for a group of 12!!

Our age for our Girl Scout troop is 11-12 years and this seems like a prefect age for the MOHAI. They were busy but not bored. Again, I could have spent a few more hours reading and enjoying the museum. I didn’t get to finish the whole thing but I definitely give it a thumbs up!! My favorite display was the Great Seattle Fire display. It has a little show you can watch and enjoy. Quite well thought out and keeps all ages entertained.

After we finished up there, we headed back home. You would have thought I planned it perfectly because as soon as we walked to the streetcar stop the streetcar was arriving. We hopped onto it and rode it back to Westlake Center. Then we went straight to the light rail stop and waited a few moments for the light rail and hopped on that. A quick fun ride back on the light rail to the Tukwila station and we were almost home.

Now before we left the Tukwila light rail station we had to park in the parking lot which doesn’t have enough parking for the ridership this station produces. They do have a special parking section that is marked S.O.V. Permit parking from 6 am to 10 am. I’m not sure what or who S.O.V parking is but we used two of their spots. The rest of the time it is open to general parking. We had arrived at 9:20 am and parked there. My troop moms were worried about their cars getting towed but our cars were there when we returned. For forty minutes, we were breaking the rules but it did work out in the end. No cars or cats were towed and I didn’t have to pay to get two vehicles out of the impound lot.

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Girl Scout Day

It is Girl Scout Day!!

I almost totally forgot but it is National Girl Scout Day and it is always celebrated on March 12.

Girl Scout Day recognizes and celebrates the Girls Scouts of the USA(GSUSA). This date celebrates the creation of the first Girl Scout group (troop) on March 12, 1912.

Lady Olave Baden-Powell, founded Girl Guides and was the wife of Lord Baden-Powell (who created the Boy Scouts in 1910), she was born on February 22 (1889).

On March 12, 1912 Juliette Gordon Low started the first Girl Scout group in Savannah, Georgia with 18 girls. The Girls Scouts became a national organization, and was chartered by the U.S. Congress on March 16, 1950. Today, there are millions of girls currently involved with Girl Scouts. Both Girl Scouts of the past are still involved with scouting and continue to be involved as adults. Heck, even a few dads like myself have been sucked into Girl Scouts!

Currently in the Seattle/Puget Sound Area it is Girl Scout cookie time. In our household Thin Mints are the most popular. The annual Girls Scout cookie drive helps to teach the girls valuable skills about selling, managing money, and how to be rejected by complete strangers and their own friends and family. However, the cookie sales do generate income to support girl scouting activities like camping, canoe trips, summer camp, and horse camp.

Our Troop 42301 has eight Girl Scouts plus adult leaders that keep our troop going. This coming Friday March 14, 2014 we will be headed to Seattle to visit the Smith Tower and the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). In fact, we plan to use both the Sound Transit Light Rail trains and the Seattle Streetcar system (South Lake Union route SLU) to visit both the Smith Tower and MOHAI.

Sound Transit Light Rail Train

Sound Transit Light Rail Train

Girl Scout Day Camp is Over!

Well, Girl Scout Day Camp is over and we all survived!  It was actually a very well run camp and I would go back next year.  It isn’t easy have running any kind of camp and a day camp is especially hard.  Luckily, this is Girl Scout Day Camp and as a father, I can skip out on being a senior manager of such a function.  I don’t mind helping but don’t stick me in charge of anything.  Let me be a warm body that makes sure your kids don’t kill themselves.

Trust me, I like to be in charge but at Girl Scout Camp, I firmly believe that the mothers are totally capable of handling all functions of the day camp.  Heck, we have lots of great moms in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts so I know they can handle a Girl Scout event.  Both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts events are tough.  You are a volunteer leader running a bunch of teenagers and other clueless adults (not really) and everything has to run smoothly.  Nothing ever runs smoothly when you are a volunteer.

However, my hat is off to the wonderful mothers and daughters that ran the Service Unit 026 day camp this past week.  They did an awesome job and I was very pleased with everything.  I will recommend this day camp to all of my Girl Scouts.

As always your comments and thoughts are welcome on my worthless advice blog!

Girl Scout Day Camp: Hump Day is Over!

Girl Scout Day Camp

Today was hump day at our local Girl Scout Day Camp.  Day 3 out of 5 days is now done.  For my all my kids, I have attended their Cub Scout, Boy Scout, or Girl Scout day camps as a parent volunteer.  I have served as staff member or just as a guide parent.  Regardless, most of these camps are run by volunteers who do their best to give the Scouts the best experience possible. However, since we are all volunteers, sometimes things don’t run as smoothly as possible.

In the first place, it is extremely hard to get parents to commit to help out for four or five days.  Sure, let’s give up some more of our limited vacation time to work at summer camp.  A lot of parents want to help but they may have other younger children that they actually need to take care of.  You can’t just lock them in the car with a bag of potato chips, some water, and a few coloring books and call it good.  Gone are the good old days where your parents left you unattended in the hot car and told you and your siblings not to kill each other.  And if one of your siblings was stupid enough to get hurt after a playful game of “Smash Your Sibling into the Car Door” and was crying when your mom got back, heaven help you and them.  Even the victim of the crime was guilty.  Everyone was punished.

Ah, parental justice.  Everyone is guilty….even the crying kid.

So naturally, when I get halfway through scout camp week and get to the ‘hump’ day, I’m pretty delighted.  I know it is a downhill coasting trip and I just have to make it through the next couple of days and then I’m done.

It isn’t that I dislike Scout Camp. Scout camp is a lot of fun for these Girl Scouts.  The thing I dislike is the fact that this is hard work.  It is much harder than my actually career job as a school photographer.  Even in my role as a safety advisor where I just shadow my group of ten girl scouts around to make sure they don’t wander off or get left behind, it is a tough job.

Girl Scouts is very focused on having the older Girl Scouts lead, train, and teach the younger scouts.  It is an excellent program for that but they still need adults around.  I’m one of those adults.  My job this week is that of a safety advisor.

For example, my unit leader is going into the 11th grade and she is in charge of 10 Girl Scouts (Junior Girl Scouts).  These eight to nine year old girls like to wander off.  This is especially true if their mother is one of the main people in charge.  Just like the mayor’s kid is the worst, the poor people running the game have the worst behaved kid (except my kid of course).

My unit leader is also learning that kids move at their own pace.  Girls (and boys) take forever to change from their swim suits back into normal clothes.  They are always leaving behind their backpacks or water bottles at an activity station.  They really don’t pay attention to where their lunch pail is at or that everyone is headed to the next station.

On the plus side, the Girl Scouts are definitely better behaved than Cub Scouts that are same age (or older for that matter).  Boys always have a stick in their hand in an insane effort to hurt themselves or each other.

The only major drawback for me when attending summer day camp for Girl Scouts is the singing.  I’m a terrible singer and I hate singing.  Even in Boy Scouts they like to sing songs in the hopes that they will drive me nuts.  I hate singing so much I don’t bother to learn the lyrics no matter how many times I’ve been subjected to the same song.

It reminds me of a prisoner torture scene where the prison warden starts playing “It’s a Small World” over and over until the suspect talks.  That is how I feel when I have to sing songs.  And in Girl Scouts, we sing lots of songs.  Songs about birds, songs about watermelons, songs about squirrels, songs about bears in tennis shoes, and then when that is all done, we have songs about singing more songs.  It never stops.

So let’s start singing a song about the end of my blog!  Leave your comments and hit that “Like” button so Cyndi (my imaginary stalker) can buy a new dress.

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