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The Dude Bridges

My Dude worked so hard the past two years as a WEBELOS to complete all the requirements (and many more – he’s so motivated!) to earn his Arrow of Light, the only patch you can take with you to Boy Scouts. They had their official Bridging Ceremony last weekend where he went from a Cub Scout to a Boy Scout. It was a great ceremony – I love all the traditions that Boy Scouts and this Pack in particular have.

First, they had all the parents of the WEBELOS IIs come up on the stage with the boys.


We got to hang out with them while the Scoutmaster talked about the Arrow of Light and how special it was that all of these boys had earned their arrow. The boys each presented an Arrow of Light pin to their parents for helping them get through Cub Scouts. Then each of the boys was presente with their very cool handcrafted arrow . . . Dude was very proud of his.


Next up, the actual bridging ceremony. Each of the boys was announced and invited, one-by-one, to come sit by the campfire with their fellow Cub Scouts who were bridging that day. The campfire is awesome . . . a fake wood box with a red lightbulb in it . . . it’s been in the pack for 30 years! Anyhoo – Dude is always first because of our last name.


After all the boys were announced and sat by the fire together for the last time as WEBELOS, they went back to the side of the stage and got ready to actually bridge. They were all so cute (can I call 10 year old boys cute?) as they stood on the bridge and soluted the crowd before officially being welcomed into their chosen Boy Scout troop.


Quite a few of the boys from Dude’s den went to the same Boy Scout Troop. See my little Dude in the front? He looks so tiny! See that “kid” in the back on the far right (as we look at the photo) – that kid is the Senior Patrol Leader in Dude’s new troop – and he’s bending down!


Dude is beside himself with excitement about moving into Boy Scouts. He can’t wait to start actual real live camping and hiking and all the other stuff that comes with Boy Scouting. He’s really motivated to start working on Merit Badges right away. I think he’s going to be shocked when he sees how much more difficult it is to earn Merit Badges than it was to earn belt loops and pins in Cub Scouts!

Here’s one last look at my little WEBELOS with his Arrow of Light. From here on out, he’s no longer a Cub Scout, but a Boy Scout.


The Final Run

Some time ago about when Dude was still a teeny tiny little Cub Scout, he participated in his Pack’s Pinewood Derby. I love how my Dude gets so into the whole thing . . . not a lot of kids his age would decide to sit down after school to sand their car just a little bit more so it was perfectly smooth. He was particular about the whole process!

First, to think of the perfect design. Ah ha! He came up with one – you’ll have to wait until later to see what it was.

Next he made a template and traced it onto his block:



After he finished drawing the outline on his block, he called Uncle E and asked if he could borrow his tools.

Aside: Uncle E is the first person we met when we moved to Colorado. He was new here and so were we. He is a Packer fan and so am I. It was a match made in Heaven.

Uncle E is an Eagle Scout. He has 3 daughters, so he was more than happy to have Dude over to do guy stuff in the woodshop for the Pinewood Derby! And he’s sooooooo patient. He took a scrap piece of wood and showed Dude how to use the saw.


Then he had Dude practice on a scrap piece of wood. Then it was time for Dude to actually cut out his car. Uncle E sat back and just watched him do the whole thing.


Dude loved it! He was so particular about it, following all the safety rules and making sure he stayed straight on the lines he’d drawn. And Uncle E is such a good teacher. When you’re an awesome woodworker, it’s gotta be tough to sit back and watch a little boy fumble through cutting out his own car!

Dude spent the next week sanding his car . . . and sanding his car . . .


And sanding his car some more  . . . and just a little more here . . . and a little more there . . . and in one more tiny spot here. Who says young boys won’t put forth the effort to make their own awesome car?!

After the sanding came the days and days of painting, coat after coat after coat. Then he spent a few days coming up with the perfect design for his car, because guess what he saw at Uncle E’s house . . . a laser! Yup, Dude got to create a design to have lasered into his car.

Back to Uncle E’s house where E showed Dude how to get his design onto the laser computer and explaining what happens with it. Again, super patient!


Next, he got to watch his design get lasered onto a sample piece of wood.


Do you see a pattern here? Yup – everything is sampled and measured and remeasured before you do something final. E is a perfectionist when it comes to this stuff and there was no way he was going to let Dude skip any of the steps.

They worked and reworked until they finally got the design just how they wanted it, then it was time for the moment of truth – lasering onto the actual car! And how did it turn out?

Pretty darn AWESOME if you ask me!


He decided to make an Arrow Of Light car since that’s what he was working toward these last couple years in WEBELOS. I thought it was way cool :-)

That weekend, we were off to the races! His Pack has a pretty cool setup for the Derby. They have what looks like a giant 4-lane Matchbox car track. 


The cool thing is, there’s software attached to it. The software tells you which cars to put in which lanes, and then when you say go, there guys let go of the switches and the cars are off. When they get to the end, the software automatically registers the times and shows the results on the big screen. This keeps going until every car has raced four times – once on each track to make sure it’s fair.

The really really cool thing is that they had a video camera at the end of the track, so you could watch the race on the big screen if you couldn’t see well – AND they showed instant replays and slow motion of the race while the next heat was being set up.


So how did he do? He was 2nd in his Den and 3rd in his rank of WEBELOS II :-) WOO HOO! He was way excited to go home with a couple trophies.


What’s next? Waiting. He came in 4th overall for the WEBELOS (WEBELOS I and II together). Only the top 3 get to go to the District race, so he’s the alternate in case one of those kids can’t make it. The huge bummer – he only missed out by 1/1000 of a second! The 3rd place boy’s car averaged 3.0128 seconds per race and Dude’s averaged 3.0129 seconds per race!

He wasn’t too bummed, though. He worked hard on his car and had a great time at the race – that’s what’s it’s all about.

Here, Kitty Kitty

This past Sunday, Dude’s WEBELOS den had a meeting at Serenity Springs, the big cat sanctuary about 50 minutes east of us.


I must say, I wasn’t real thrilled about going – I’d read recently in the news that the guy who started/owns the place was being prosecuted for misusing donations . . . like using the moolah for his personal self rather than the cats. However, after spending a couple hours at the sanctuary, my mind was TOTALLY changed. He may have made some bad choices, but that place is awesome! There are tons of big cats, and they ALL look so happy. They come up to the fences and rub against them, they “purr” at you, they play games with the tour guides . . . totally worth the small fee and the donated supplies that we took.

We got to see all kinds of big cats from black leopards (did you know there’s no such thing as a black panther?), to tigers (they have a tiger that is documented 86% genetically identical to a tiger that is extinct in the wild), to lions (did you know that old lions lose their manes?), to goofy animals that I can’t remember the names of, to movie star animals (ever seen Second Hand Lions? Savannah the lioness from that movie lives here), to exVegas white tigers, to stupid people’s tigers (ever heard of Mike Tyson – ya, that winner of a person used to spar with his white tiger, who now lives here).

This guy was one of my favorites. He’s SOOOO white and beautiful! And I love the two black dots on the top of his head, like he used to have horns :-) Did you know that you don’t need two white tigers to create another white tiger? Just like people, if two regular tigers have the white recessive gene, voila! White tiger babies.



This guy is one of the many mountain lions we saw. I swear, as sweet as all of these big cats seemed behind the fences (which we got to be within 2 feet of!), you could tell that when they were looking at the boys, all they were thinking was “buffet” :-) We had one little girl with us, maybe 2 1/2 feet tall. If any of the cats weren’t paying attention to us, all we had to do was put Erin out in front. It was AMAZING how they would zero in on her little self and stalk her from behind the fences.



This mountain lion is the Clyde, the mascot for the UCCS. You can tell he’s well cared for – he’s about twice the girth of the other mountain lions :-) I like how he’s just hanging out up there, posing for us.



Then Erin, the little girl, squealed and walked in front of her mom, at which point Clyde did this . . .


Mascot or not, Clyde is STILL a wild animal! Then the tour guide told us this nifty little fact . . . even if you’ve never seen a mountain lion while hiking in Colorado, one in every three times you go hiking, AT LEAST one mountain lion has been watching you. YIKES! Of course she went on to tell us what to do if you ever do get approached by a mountain lion . . . we have a new list of items to make sure we take on our hikes with us :-)

It was kind of creepy watching all the big cats obviously stalking us. One of the tigers always played a game with the tour guide. When she turns her back to the fence, the tiger goes to the corner of the enclosure. He then ever so quietly stalks around behind his structures and peeks out at her with one eye, taking the quietest steps you’ve ever seen something that large take. He is sooooo quiet and smooth until the gets to within one foot of the fence – the he swipes his paw at the fence as if to tag her. It was soooo cool!

At the end of the tour, we heard a rumor that for a donation, the kids could play with a 13 week old tiger cub. When was the last time you got to do that? Never? Ya – me neither. I was feeling generous, so I let the kids do it. It was so worth it! Shepe was the cutest little cub ever . . . with the most ginormous paws ever! Dude and Princess got to go right in the cage with him, and with Shepe’s handler of course. Shepe is just a regular little cub – likes to nibble and pounce and roll and chew and swipe and have his tummy rubbed.






Each of the kids got nibbled on a couple times . . . and they both came out with some scratches. They’ve been telling their friends that they got mauled by a tiger 😉

So all in all, 2 hours very well spent. We would totally go out and see the cats again. In fact, I think there’s a certain Brownie troop that would enjoy this kind of outing!


The good things about selling $930 worth of Boy Scout popcorn? You earn a lot of money for your Pack, you earn some cool prizes for yourself, and people get to eat yummylicious caramelly and chocolaty and cheesy and buttery popcorn.

The bad thing about selling $930 worth of Boy Scout popcorn? You have to deliver all of it.

That Damn Sewing Machine

Dude has been busy earning lots of extra patches and belt loops and pins for Cub Scouts. It was finally time to get him one of those Boy Scout sanctioned red vests that you put your extra stuff on and wear over your uniform – you’re only allowed to put certain things on the actual uniform shirt.

So off to the Boy Scout shop we went . . . and got a red vest. And when we opened the package, BLUCK! They’re this really weird stiff felt like fabric . . . yick.

I told Dude we could go to the store and get some red fabric and I’d make him one . . . yay he said.

I needed a pattern, so I grabbed some fabric out of my hobby room scraps box and started tracing away with the vest we didn’t like. Then I cut it out. Then I realized I had enough fabric to make an entire sample vest . . . you know, for size and so I could figure out how to make it while not ruining the real fabric I’d paid for. So I got out my trusty sewing machine for the 2nd time in one week (what the hell is happening to me!!!) and sewed a red vest.

I had Dude try on the sample when I was finished. He said he loved it and couldn’t wait to wear it and wondered when would I sew the patches on.

Ummmm . . . I thought to myself . . . if he likes the sample so much, why would I ever go to the store, buy fabric, and do this again?

So, my little Dude is happily wearing a red vest . . . made out of the curtains that used to hang in his bedroom :-)


The First Pinewood Derby

One of the events Dude was really looking forward to in Boy Scouts was the Pinewood Derby. A block of wood, some wheels, power tools, sandpaper, paint, decals, a huge Matchbox car track . . . what could be better? Not much when you’re 9 :-) We went to MN over Christmas break, so we took the kit with us so he could get started. Dude, Hubby, and Monster Grandpa had some great Guy Time out in the garage designing Dude’s car.

After cutting out the car and using the belt sander for the big sanding work, Dude went to work on the detail sanding.


Putting on the finishing sanding touches . . .


It was too cold to paint outside, so Dude and Hubby put a box in the shower in our crappy basement bathroom when we got home and spray painted it in there. Dude thought black would be awesome and very cool looking – so black it was. He chose a pretty difficult design only because the middle was very thin and could’ve easily broken. And with so much of the block of wood being cut away, they had to drill some carefully placed holes and put tungsten weights inside to get the car to place the center of gravity properly and get the car as close to the 5 oz. limit as possible. The finished product . . .




Looks like a winner to me! Dude and Hubby took the car to weigh in and got to add one more weight to get it to 4.9 oz. After weigh in and inspection, you have to leave your car there so you don’t make any illegal modifications overnight.

The next morning, we were up and ready to go to the races! Dude was so excited after Hubby showed him his old cars from cub scouts. Dude checked out all the available hardware while we waited for the race to start. A boy can dream, right?


There were 66 cars in the race, so there were a lot of heats! Each car got to run on each of the 4 lanes. I’d never been to a Pinewood Derby before, but I had no clue it was so automated! Everything from the start button to the times to the rankings to matching similar speed cars together to make good races – it was pretty darn cool! Dude and his buddy had a good time watching all the heats while waiting for their cars to race.


The races started – Dude was so excited to watch his car race! I mean, who wouldn’t be after working so hard on it and waiting so patiently.

The first race – he came in 4th out of 4. The 2nd race – 3rd. Third race – 4th. Fourth race – 4th. He was SOOOO disappointed! The thing was, all the cars did well and were so close. Out of 66 cars, the difference in time between the winning car and the last place car was only 1.05 seconds. Not bad! Dude ended up coming in 62 out of 66. He was quite bummed until we pointed out the times to him. And after we got his car, we noticed that the last weight they’d put in at inspection was missing! It had fallen out at some point . . . so as far as Dude knows, that weight could have been the different in some time 😉 He was pretty excited to start thinking about next year’s car already on the ride home . . . I love how he just bounces back and takes on a challenge.

After all the trophies for placing were awarded, they awarded trophies for craftsmanship. Since it was our first race, we had no clue how fun the cars could be. Maybe next year in addition to working on more speed, we’ll go for one of those craftsmanship trophies :-) There were tons of really fun cars – the boys did well – and honestly, I don’t know which car won the race or the craftsmanship award. Here were some of our favorites out of the designs:

Swiss cheese with a mouse on top:



2 Lego guys surfing on big waves



Cool white car that I’m sure has a name but I don’t know it



A Wii Remote



And my personal favorite, the roller coaster. I love how all the people have their hands up in the air :-)


All in all, our first Pinewood Derby was a lot of fun and a great experience. We can’t wait for next year! But first, Dude is getting very excited about his overnight sledding campout in the mountains in a couple weeks – good times!

The Night for WEBELOS Badges Has Arrived!

Tonight after over a MONTH of waiting, Dude was so excited to get to his WEBELOS Pack meeting. He’s been to all day outings in 15 degree weather and snow, Den meetings where he’s earned 3 badges, and has worked really hard to earn some belt loops and pins on his own. And since he’s new to scouting, he also had to complete the requirements to earn his Bobcat Badge, so he can actually get the other badges – gotta have that Bobcat Badge first!

So he waited patiently after school until I got home.

Then he worked really hard at his tennis lesson for an hour.

Then he waited patiently while we picked up Duma from doggie daycare.

He waited even more patiently in the car in the drive-thru of McDonald’s.

He did not patiently eat his food in the car – he inhaled it!

He ran up the stairs to his bedroom to change from tennis attire to WEBELOS attire.

He talked nervously the entire time we drove to his Pack meeting.

He sat in the front row quietly watching the science demonstration given by the folks from the Air Force Academy.

He looked at the clock every 10 minutes.

Was it time yet? Time for the awards ceremony?

He could hardly contain himself – he was FINALLY going to get his first badges to put on his uniform!

One more glance at the clock.

Then another.

And another.

It was 8:00 – and they were starting ANOTHER demonstration.

Wasn’t the meeting supposed to be over at 8:00?

How would we have time to get our badges handed out?

He turned around and looked at me with that nervous smile on his face. Was I feeling his anxiety?

Another glance at the clock – 8:10.

The science demonstration was FINALLY over!

It was finally time . . . time to get his first badges.

He waited patiently while the Cub Master walked to the front of the room.

He had his eyes trained on the manilla envelopes that contained the badges and other awards for the Scouts.

His legs kicked nervously in the air.

He waited patiently while the Cub Master raised the microphone to his lips.

He waited patiently as the Cub Master spoke . . . “Unfortunately, we’re out of time for tonight. We’ll award all badges and pins at the next Pack meeting on December 2nd.”

What?! Did he REALLY say that? No awards tonight?

My disappointed little Dude dropped his shoulders in his chair.

He waited patiently for the removing of the colors.

He helped stack up all the chairs and sweep the floor.

Then, finally, he came to see me, a sad little look in his eye.

I gave my Dude a hug – he let me.

I told him I was sorry.

He looked at me, smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and said: “It’s not like it’s the end of the world. I’ll just get an even huger stack at the next meeting after I’ve earned a bunch more stuff.”

Ahhhhhh – that’s my little Dude – always looking at the bright side :-)


WE’ll BE LOyal Scouts

Yup – we did it. Dude joined Boy Scouts . . . he’s a WEBELOS 1. Had is first den meeting last weekend and LOVED it! He was so excited to earn his first badge on his first night. And I loved his Den Leader (and the fact that I wasn’t it!). Long story short – we joined a different pack that was already established and had dens and stuff. Dude is in a den with 3 kids from his school in this Pack as well . . . so yay! And I only have to lead the den meeting twice in April – the rest of the year the other parents trade off. So we’re off to the races with Boy Scout stuff and Dude is SOOOO excited for it! He and I are going on the first campout October 10-11 . . . yes, we still live on the front range in Colorado and yes it very well could be snowing while we’re tent camping at the Air Force Academy . . . good times, good times!

Anyhoo – isn’t he the CUTEST WEBELOS you’ve ever seen? I think it was his cuteness alone that earned him 7 popcorn sales this evening 😉


“Hi. My name is Russell. And I am a Wilderness Explorer in Tribe 54, Sweat Lodge 12. Are you in need of any assistance today, sir?”