Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Annapolis, Our State Capital

It's not often that I'm allowed at the high school, interacting with students and teachers. Today, my son allowed me to chaperone a field trip with the 11th grade AP Government students! Must be because it's Leap Year Day. :)

We went to the State House in Annapolis, our state's capital building.

This picture was taken after the tour, as it was POURING to beat the band when we got there and stopped only about an hour before we left to head home.

The flagpole on top? One of Ben Franklin's first lightning rods. Yup. Ben Franklin.

This is the state seal on the floor of the rotunda. It took over 4000 tiles to create the seal. Wow.

I did my best with this one, a picture of the glass at the top of the dome. I had to lean over a railing and battle my vertigo to get this one. It's made by Tiffany. Yeah, THAT Tiffany. Just beautiful.

This is one of the committee rooms. Empty except for 130 11th graders and their chaperones. 

The ex-CNN employee in me wanted this picture.

Early on in our tour the students had their picture made with the President of the Senate, Mike Miller, who also just happens to be the State Senator from our little county.They usually take a full group shot on the capital steps, but since it was POURING, they were in groups of 50 inside. Nick is 4th row from the back, 2nd from the left and a black hoodie and green T-shirt. NOT the kid with evil eyes--that is Joey. :)

This is an old flag--8-pointed stars and stripes that begin with white instead of red. I either didn't hear the explanation why, or the tour guide didn't know. It was still pretty.

This statue of George Washington stands in the old Senate chamber, where he famously resigned his commission in the military. Several years later the states came back and asked him to be the first President of the United States. He accepted. :)

The actual spot where George stood. After taking this picture? I stood there, too. History in the making!

We got to sit in on a session of the Senate, debating and voting on bills. These are the State Senators.

The white-haired gentleman in the back is the Senate President.

It's a tad blurry, but this is the voter board, so everyone can see who voted and how. Everyone approved this one, as all the dots are green.

 Here's my little AP Gov student, Nick, after the session was on break.

It was an interesting day...I just wish we had been able to tour the grounds. Maybe next time. 

Maryland, my Maryland...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cub Scout Cake Bosses

Once again, the weekend finds me at a Blue and Gold Banquet for the Cub Scouts. Pack 789 is our former Pack, when my boys were Cub Scouts. This time our troop was there, as well, as we were receiving 3 boys into our troop at the crossover. 

The facility was dark, so no pictures of the actual crossover, but as always, our former Pack puts on a fabulous Father and Son cake contest. The cakes get better and better every year.

As Commissioner of the Pack, I got to be one of the cake judges. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. It was actually hard to decide some of the categories, as the cakes were really good. The rules were: made by a father and son combo (or at least a male adult and Cubbie), and everything must be edible.

Loved this Pinewood Derby track! (The flags were part of a table decoration, and not part of the cake.)

This teeny star, made by my young friend Mateo, was hands down the winner of the smallest cake!

Nice job on this replica of a Cub Scout hat.

I'm not sure how much adult intervention was needed for this cake, but I enjoyed the Cub Scouts made of fondant.

Many, many, many mini-angel food cakes made up this, the tallest cake award winner.

While the Banquet was held in February, this young Scout is clearly looking ahead to March!

God Bless America. This was probably the healthiest cake in the bunch!

A very nice re-creation of the old Webelos badge.

Bad baby! This one was disqualified from judging because the doll was not edible, but I still thought this was pretty funny.

A good ole Scout campfire, made of iced cake balls.

 I spoke to the Scout who made this cake, and it was an interesting story behind this. He was making a pirate ship (the theme of this summer's Cub Scout Day Camp is Pirate Adventures) and it collapsed upon removal from the cake pan. Not to worry--it's a Pirate Shipwreck! Very creative. I voted for this one for Most Creative, but I think there was a mistake tallying the votes, because it didn't win.

This cake was unbelievable. All the tiny stars that made up the Cub Scout was freely admitted by the mom that she made the cake. Unfortunately, it was disqualified because even without the admission, it was OBVIOUSLY not done by a 3rd grader. But I really liked it, so I included it in my gallery.

My young friend Casey made this lovely pool cake with teddy bears swimming. Mom tried to find Life Savers to add for preservers, but the candy machine was sold out. It still won an award.

And Judges Choice went to this one, the garden. It was awesome. Up close you could tell that it was kid-made. Very nice!

My Nick wanted to know why we didn't do cake contests in Boy Scouts; he got lots of great ideas while he was there. I told him to organize one of his own. He declined. Too much work. :)

Great job by all the Cubbies and Dads!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Arrow, Arrows Everywhere

Tonight I had the privilege to attend an Arrow of Light ceremony for one of my Cub Scout Packs. The boys and their leaders decided to have a separate ceremony for this last rank of Cub Scouting before they "cross over" next weekend into Boy Scout troops. After a delicious potluck dinner, the ceremony began, performed by the Ceremonies Team of Scouting's Honor Society, the Order of the Arrow.

This is Kathleen, one of the sponsors of the OA, banging the drum signifying the start of the ceremony. I think she had some aggressions to work out, because she was banging VERY LOUDLY. :)

The Ceremonies Team brought out the Webelos Scouts who were receiving the awards.The boys are blindfolded with the neckerchiefs until they are brought to the front of the room. I'm not sure of the reason why, but they seemed to enjoy it.

This is the Master of Ceremonies, describing how great Scouting is and what an honor the Arrow of Light is.

The Scouts enjoyed the pomp and ceremony a great deal, and the OA Scouts did a great job. These are the boys...the MC in the middle and the other 4 Scouts are the 4 Winds, illustrating the 12 points of the Scout Law.

All in all, a very somber and very respectful awards ceremony. Congratulations to all of the boys receiving the Arrow of Light!

Monday, February 20, 2012

What a Rip-off

The big winter event is coming! The big winter event is coming!

We've been hearing about this for the last few days. Finally, we're getting a real snow!

Then...we're getting maybe 1-3 inches. Maybe.

At the end of the "big snow", this is what we were left with...

Really, Mother Nature? Really?

I feel robbed. I just want one good snow. Is that so wrong?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Dessert Fit for Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

I decided, since we had the day off from school (teacher in-service, not because of Valentine's Day) that I would take some time and cook a nice meal for the holiday. The Food Network has some great recipes, and had a lovely Valentine's Day section. Our entire meal came from the Food Network website.

We had Shrimp Scampi with Linguini and Roasted Asparagus, both from Tyler Florence's show "How to Boil Water."

For dessert, we had Chocolate Pots de Creme. Wow. That's all I have to say about that.

Recipe can be found here. It was very decadent. Very.

Here are the ingredients. The recipe called for chopped semi-sweet chocolate, but I skipped a step and went to fine semi-sweet chocolate chips. They worked great.

The amount of chocolate needed is 9 ounces, so I put my math skills to work and came up with 1 cup and 1/2 cup of chips.

Put the chocolate in a blender.

Then wisk together milk, cream, egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a heavy-bottomed pan.

I broke 2 of the yolks, but trust me, there are 6 yolks in here. Cholesterol alert! 


After stirring constantly for 5-6 minutes (it was more like 11 minutes for me), quickly pour over the chocolate in the blender and put the lid on. Be sure to use a thick towel to hold the top, as it get VERY HOT! Blend until completely combined.

Pour into ramekins...I finally got to use these heart-shaped ramekins that I bought several years ago.


I only had 4 of the heart-shaped ones, so I needed to get out a couple of regular ramekins.

The puddings need to chill for at least 2 hours, then top with whipped cream and serve. We made our own included in the recipe.

Wow. I think I already said that. It was very rich, and very good. And very easy.

I'm glad I took the extra effort for dinner...I received a nice present.

It's a great day for roses and chocolate!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Celebrating the Birthday All Month Long

I attended the first of three Blue and Gold Banquets of the month today, celebrating the birthday of Scouting, and celebrating all of the awards of the hard-working Cub Scouts. 

The theme from this particular Pack this year was "Out of This World". Lots of fun space-themed centerpieces:

A rocketship

 I'm not sure what this is, but it's creative!

The solar system

A whole box of fireworks, personalized with each boy's name!

One of the highlights of a Blue and Gold is the Arrow of Light ceremony of the 5th graders--2nd year Webelos Scouts. This is the final rank in Cub Scouting--the Final Frontier, if you will. In addition to the actual badge, each boy receives a plaque in the shape of an arrow, to commemorate all of their hard work.

And of course, no celebration is complete with a cake to mark the occasion!

Congratulations, boys! Job well done!