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Showing posts from December, 2010

Day 13- Missouri State Park System and Bowl Season

As I was racking my brain about where I would donate today in honor of "Dump Guy," I had an e-mail come in from my sister-in-law.  She had quickly suggested yesterday's donation via text message, but she had another place in mind that she really wanted to use.  Perfect!  This can be tied into some sort of opposite-of-the-dump-donation scheme. 

Today's donation was made to the Missouri State Park System in honor of Ash, our future game warden.  She explained the importance of today's organization beautifully.

A special meaning? Just read their mission statement, and that should say enough. "The mission of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is to protect, preserve and enhance Missouri's natural, cultural and energy resources for present and future generations." There are so many unique places in every state, but most people don't know about them. The state parks try to capture these areas and make them known and available to the public. …

Day 12- PAWS and BD's Mongolian Grill

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I wrote about Ashley Ferri last year because of the way she opens gifts.  She really makes the givers of each gift feel as if they have chosen and wrapped up treasures.  It's just plain nice, and we had another lovely Christmas with her.

I thought that maybe she would also be good at giving, and I asked her to choose a charity for us to donate to in her honor today.  She didn't disappoint.  Ashley asked us to send her donation to the shelter where we adopted General from, and we were happy to oblige.  The organization is called PAWS (Pets are Worth Saving) in Anna, IL, and they do great work.  They are a not-for-profit group, and it is also important to us that they are a no kill shelter.  They count on donations of money, food, and supplies as their primary source of funding to keep them going.  They gave us our General, one of the most precious gifts we have received to date, and all they asked in return was a small donation.  We have been donating there regularly ever since…

Day 11- A Hole in the Roof Foundation and Sweatsuit

Mitch Albom published a new book last year, and I bought it as soon as it came out.  It was called Have a Little Faith, and I figured that it would be an excellent Christmas gift for someone. 

True confession of a Mitch Albom fanatic- I kept it for myself.  I read almost the whole thing in one sitting.  It touched me deeply and inspired me in every way and made me want to be a better everything.  I friggin' loved it.  You should probably read it.  That's your vacation homework.  Quiz on Monday.

I whole-heartedly support just about anything my buddy Mitch does, so of course I am thrilled to donate to his charity, A Hole in the Roof Foundation.  This charity ties in directly with everything he wrote about in Have a Little Faith (the foundation itself is named after a church he profiled), and it is based in my home state.  Here's what they do.

"The mission of A Hole in the Roof Foundation is to help faith groups of every denomination who care for the homeless to repair th…

Day 10- MusiCares and Hot Chocolate

Let's see if you can follow this logic.  I wrote about my iPod on this day last year and how it helped us to get through the looooong drive home from Michigan.  Okay, maybe it's more like looong, not looooong, but you get the point.  One of the songs that helped us through was "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz.  Love that guy.  I looked up information about which charities Mr. Mraz is involved in so that he could help to "pick" for today.  One of the organizations that stuck out and seemed to fit was MusiCares.

"MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares' services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community."

http://www.grammy.org/…

Day 9- St. Louis Area Foodbank and Guy on the Phone at Gingham's

Today's donation task was an easy one.  I had to find something that would tie in with my thankfulness for "Foods from Home" for last year.  While I am grateful to have both a home and food every day, I understand that many people go without one or the other-- or both.  There is a wonderful organization in our area that is working hard each day to fight hunger in our community, the St. Louis Foodbank.  Tom became acquainted with this place when he volunteered there earlier this year, and he has seen the amazing work they do firsthand.  Our donation will be going to the St. Louis Foodbank today, and we only wish that we could give more.

If you'd like to add on (yes, please!), here's the website.  http://www.stlfoodbank.org/  With just $1, the foodbank can provide four meals.  That means our measly $5 could provide twenty.  With $5 more, we could be up to 40!  Who's with us?

You can also search the database on the website to find a list of agencies closer to y…

Day 8- Student Fund and Christmas

Even before I became a certified teacher, I was planning.  I was constantly tossing around ideas in my head and buying supplies when something cute struck my fancy and figuring out how I might decorate my room... all of it.  Now that I am legit, the thinking continues.  I must admit that I get a little annoyed when people comment around this time of year (or Spring Break or summer, for that matter) about how they wished they were teachers because they want the vacations.  The thing is, unless you are a teacher or have lived with one, you have no idea how many hours it takes to be an effective teacher.  If I'm not grading or lesson planning, I am thinking about the kids.  I am a workaholic during the week, and I will spend a great deal of time on my coveted "break" doing things to get ready for next semester.  It's possible that I care about the kids too much sometimes, and I could focus more on my own life.  Yet, I can't help but think that the day I stop caring …

Day 7- American Heart Association and Hoelscher Family

The Christmas Eve 2009 blog was about my Mierzwa family, of course.  I have spent more than twenty Christmas Eves in the house of my Grandma Ginny cracking up at the... um... individuality and wackiness of my family.  For this donation, I asked my dad to think about someplace that might be fitting to donate to in honor of his family.  He made an excellent choice:  

This will be the 34th Christmas the Mierzwa family will celebrate without my father and your grandfather, Frank Mierzwa, being physically present, but he will be there in our thoughts and stories.  Heart disease took him from us, so I think a donation to the American Heart Association would be appropriate.  Ongoing research and improved treatments have helped many other families keep their husbands, fathers, and grandpas around a lot longer, and it would be nice to support that continued work.  I will be sending a check to them on top of your donation.

I think it is absolutely wonderful that we can honor the family in this w…

Merry Christmas!

Santa will be bringing Day 7 and Day 8 tomorrow when we get back to the Ferri homestead. :)

Merry Christmas! Rejoice!

Day 6- Allegiance Health and Erin

Last year at this time, we went to a basketball game and ended up in the ER.  My husband was given the terrifying task of driving precious cargo from Ann Arbor to Jackson, all the while hoping that something was not seriously wrong.  My dad spent a few days in the hospital.  I won't overshare and get into the reasons why because that's really not the important thing here.  What's important is that the people at Allegiance Health took care of him and got him home (albeit still in rough shape) for Christmas.

Today is an easy one.  We will be donating to Allegiance Health, of course.  I hope that they are continuing to take good care of the residents of Jackson and beyond and that someone else's dad will make it home for Christmas this year.

http://www.allegiancehealth.org/

******

My mother-in-law had a big birthday this year, and Tom and I wanted to make sure that we found some sort of meaningful gift that would fit the special birthday and make the special lady happy. …

Day 5- Vogrich and A Mid-Afternoon's Nap

I did a little online researching (er, stalking), and found a bio for Matt Vogrich (the object of last year's Day 5 affection) here.  After reading through his bio and discovering that he is involved in a few different charitable organizations, I made a donation here- Big Brothers Big Sisters..

You may still not have any idea who Vogrich is, even though he's getting some playing time this year, but surely you've heard of Big Brothers Big Sisters before.

"For over a century, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been helping change kids’ perspectives and giving them the opportunity to reach their potential. And we have over a century of volunteers, donors, and advocates just like you to thank.

It all started in 1904, when a young New York City court clerk named Ernest Coulter was seeing more and more boys come through his courtroom. He recognized that caring adults could help many of these kids stay out of trouble, and he set out to find volunteers. That marked the beginning of t…

Day 4- Don the Shoe Salesman and Snowflakes

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Last year I blogged about my quest for the perfect brown boots... blah blah blah.  The real point of the post was to recognize an amazingly calm and pleasant man who was working in a crazily hectic and unpleasant holiday retail work environment.

In honor of Don and in an attempt to think beyond adding to my own shoe collection, I have decided to donate to a charity called Shoes That Fit. 

"Shoes That Fit is helping kids improve their self-esteem and fit in at school by eliminating one of poverty’s most visible and debilitating marks." 

I see this issue firsthand at my own school.  We had a heartwarming moment earlier this year when one boy brought in a pair of gently used expensive shoes for another boy whose shoes had holes in them.  Neither one of them made a big deal about the whole thing.  They matter-of-factly carried out the exchange in the hallway while a few of us teachers looked on teary-eyed in the hallway.

http://www.shoesthatfit.org/

This charity receives no gove…

Day 3- Caitlin and Heat!

Today is Caitlin's day because one year ago today she got engaged to Mr. Jesse Sheldon, a fine man if ever there was one.  It is only fitting that the two of them are off on their belated honeymoon today in a land far, far away.  Since I didn't want to bug my old friend cmil (she is now cshe, but I haven't made the transition yet) while she is on a romantic vacation, I took the liberty of choosing where to donate "her" money.

Bates College in Lewiston, ME will be the lucky recipient of today's $5 windfall.  Bates is a place that is near and dear to Caitlin's heart.  I'm pretty sure that she feels the same way about Bates that I do about the University of Michigan.  Yeah, it's like that.  She spent some of the best years of her life thus far learning and growing at this school, and she is still close friends with many of the people she met there.  Tom and I sat with our Seattle friends at cmil's wedding this fall, and the talk of our table was …

Day 2- Mother Nature and La Carreta

I thanked Mother Nature on this day last year.  She gave us a beautiful dusting of snow for our Christmas trip home without dropping a bunch of it on the roads.  That was nice.  The Weather Girls thanked her publicly in a song (you know, "God bless Mother Nature, she's a single woman too...").  That was fun.

Sometimes Mother Nature is not a nice lady, though, and sometimes she does not give people a reason to be thankful.  One prime example of this that still sticks out in my mind is Mother Nature's nasty tantrum that we know as Hurrican Katrina.  She really destroyed a lot of lives and communities and one amazing city.

I was inspired by a speech George Clooney gave this year while accepting a humanitarian award.  He commented that people do a pretty good job of rallying around a cause when it's current and at the forefront of the media coverage or when there's a celebrity telethon.  However, the real test of giving is continuing to remember these people who …

Day 1- Tom's Choice and Sheryl Crow

On Day 1 last year, I wrote about someone who I dearly love.  Day 1 this year is devoted to making a donation in honor of some of the people that he loves so dearly. :)  Here's what Tom had to say.

The Marine Corps has always held a special place in my heart and in my family's hearts. My dad served for twenty years and met my mom in the process. My brother, who is currently serving in the Marine Corps, will soon be a helicopter pilot. Working in the defense industry, my livelihood relies on the continued support of the U.S. Military and Marine Corps.

The men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces sacrifice everything to defend our freedoms, and that is something I will never take for granted. Injured Marines and armed services members often face a long and difficult recovery when they return home. The Semper Fi Fund provides immediate financial support for injured Marines and members of the other U.S. Armed Services and their families.

This donation, albeit small, is in honor of my d…

Promises Promises

I just fell asleep sitting up.  Does that do a sufficient job of explaining my current mental state and abilities?

I have some charities picked out and ready to go to get me on track and to get this giving thing kicked off.  However, I want to be able to give a little blurb on each one and its importance/meaning, so I fear that I may have to put the actual post off one more day.  I want to do this right.

My last day with the kids for the year is tomorrow.  They have a half day, and then they'll go on their merry way to break.  I'll do the same at 3:30.  I may even jump up and click my heels together on my way to the car.  I told my students that their homework tonight is to abstain from sugar consumption and soda drinking until 12:20 tomorrow.  They laughed politely (or maybe out of pity?), and I could just tell that they were thinking about going home and dissolving sugar cubes into a two-liter and drinking it.  I actually saw some of my students do this last year.  That kind…

A Sappy Series of Statements and An Announcement

Seasons of Love, RENT

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned,
Or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned,
Or the way that she died.

It's time now to sing out,
Though the story never ends
Let's celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love
Remember the love
Seasons of love

Oh you got to got to
Remember the…

Day Off

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After 365 days of blogging and gratitude and six hours of shopping (which was an excellent reminder of why I usually do my Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving), I am exhausted.  I need just one day off.

I'm really looking forward to sharing what I'll be blogging about for the next year, and I want to make sure that I take the time to write it right.  Therefore...

Stay tuned until tomorrow.  If all goes well, I plan to post a sappy reflection about the past year and an exciting (at least for me) announcement about what lies ahead for the ol' blog and me for the next 365 days.   Check in tomorrow... pretty please? :)


Day 365- Tacky Teacher Friends

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Day 365... wow, is that right?  It can't be!  I'll get into a bunch of the sappy stuff tomorrow.  For now, it's time for one more day of gratitude. :)

Less than six months ago, these people were complete and total strangers to me.


They are now my coworkers, my community, my MO family, and my support system.

I am so incredibly blessed to also call these people my friends.  From the day I was hired, they welcomed me into their family, and they have been amazingly kind to me ever since.  They inspire me.  They accept me for who I am.  They allow me to vent.  They constantly keep me laughing, and they laugh at my jokes.   They know when to give advice and when to listen.  They are fantastic teachers and even better people.     
They also know how to celebrate tacky holiday sweater day in style.  The kids may have forgotten after our snow day yesterday, but we sure had a g with an o, o with a d, t with an i and an m and an e.  I look forward to many more good times to come...     

Day 364- Ice Day

Please excuse my Jerry Maguire-esque blog moment yesterday.  Today's blog will be much more simple, I promise. : )

I really enjoy a good Girl's Night Out, but I also adore a nice Family Day In too.  I got just that today on our ice day.  It was technically a snow day, but we didn't get any extra snow last night.  It is much more common around these parts to have freezing rain and nasty ice storms than snow.  Since the roads looked like skating rinks, everyone stayed home today.  

I heard the news at about 10 o'clock last night.  I would rather not have a lot of snow days because they just end up getting tacked onto the end of the year here.  Plus, we only have a few more days until our big break, and I'm doing fun writing assignments with the kids anyway.  However, that being said...

Today was just lovely.  Tom was supposed to be out of town, but his trip was cancelled.  We got to spend the day at home together with our little General, and we really had a good tim…

Day 363- Weight Lifting

What a difference a few days make!  I kind of felt like a fraud on Monday.  I could muster up enough optimism to produce a blog and some positive thoughts, but I was upset.  Big time.  This close to the end of the year, I faced one of the biggest tests that I've had to my positive attitude.

I suppose I should explain.  My students took their district summative test last Thursday and Friday.  I have been working my tail off all year to do everything that I'm supposed to do (times ten) to make sure that these kids are learning all of the skills that they are supposed to be learning.  Beyond that, we reviewed for the three days leading up to the test to fully prep students and to go over some of the standards that we hadn't touched on in a few weeks.  I felt confident that I had done everything I knew how to do to teach them and prepare them, and I was absolutely confident that I had done everything that my curriculum director, principal, and department head had asked of me. …

Day 362- Disco Tuesday

Since my kids started to check out about two weeks ago, I have been trying all kinds of things to keep them involved and engaged in what we're doing in class.  I put together a few fun assignments/projects/pieces for them to work on this week, and they will be doing a lot of working independently, reflecting, and writing.  My babysitting and management skills have already come in handy this week, and I can only imagine what Monday and Tuesday are going to be like next week!  Only five more days until break...

Five more days!  Five more days! 

I find myself chanting things like this under my breath occasionally.  I love my job, and I enjoy the kids, but I will certainly never turn down a chance for a break.  I'll also never turn down and opportunity to see our family and friends, to relax, or to spend my evenings doing something other than grading papers.  I digress.

Anyway... I grabbed one of my big cd holder cases out of my car on my way into the building this morning.  I lik…

Day 361- Cheddar-Ale Soup

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Tonight.
A new recipe.
A new kind of delicious.


It started with vegetables- carrots, onions, celery, and green onions.


Then there was butter and bacon and basil and oregano.  Look at that baby sizzle! 


There was a little chicken broth added and a little ale.  Of course, there was cheese.  A whole lotta cheese!


It simmered and melted and simmered and melted.


The smells wafted through the house, and I couldn't help but taste test once... or twice... or twelve times.  Finally, ta da!


Well, that was good.  It was a much need warm and hearty on a less than desirable cold and stressful.

Thank you, cheddar-ale soup, you made my day.

Day 360- Christmas Decorations

We bought our Christmas tree last Sunday, and it sat in the garage for two days.  On Tuesday, Tom finally had time to bring it into the house.  We hoped all week that we'd have a little extra time to make it nice and pretty, but things have been crazy and hectic around here.

At long last, our house FINALLY threw up Christmas all over the place today.  Ahhhhhh.

We made the time to get the tree all decorated and beautiful, and I'm so happy that we did :).  It was fun to carry out our annual tradition where we spread out our treasures all over the living room and find a place for each special item one by one.  We laughed about the ornaments, sniffed all of the candles and pine cones, fluffed the bows, and relived the memories that we have attached to many of the items.  We had a few really special additions to it all this year too!  My mom created a gorgeous tree skirt for us with all of my favorite things on it-- felt and sequins and bright colors.  We also put out the cutest li…

Day 359- Cousin Eddie

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Ummm, do you really even need to ask  what made my day today?


We went to a Christmas party tonight at one of Tom's buddy's houses.  It was our first ever Christmas costume party, and the idea was to dress up as some kind of Christmas related person/thing.  Since I am a proud member of the Griswold family, of course we dressed up as characters from NationalLampoon's Christmas Vacation.  Tom was Cousin Eddie, and I was Frank Shirley (you know, the boss that he kidnaps at the end of the movie).  Not only was this easy to do, but I got to wear my old pajamas for the whole night.  I think I may have to strategize my way into more frequent pajama wearing at parties (and not just at pajama parties, silly).  I was able to eat everything I wanted without any kind of denim or button restriction at the waist, and I was pretty much ready for bed when we got home.  That definitely counts as a win.
Thank you, Cousin Eddie, you made my day.

Day 358- Christmas Parties

This has been a looooooong week.  L-O-N-G.  It was lovely to cap it off with my work Christmas parties this afternoon.  The first party was in the library after school.  This was put on by our Not So Secret Society (of which I am a member).  We had an excellent turnout, some light snacks, and a successful White Elephant gift exchange.  Many people brought gifts that were more on the nice side than the funny, but that was alright with me because I took home some cute Christmas cookie jars.  My more traditional White Elephant gift was well-received, especially in its fairy (Ferri) bag :).

After we cleaned up that party, it was time for part two... happy hour!  Our turnout for this was much lighter, but most of my favorite people from the building were there.  We had half-priced appetizers, cheap drinks (although I mostly stuck with iced tea of the regular, non Long Island variety), and great conversations that weren't all about the kids for once.  It's hard for me to remember th…

Day 357- Food E-mails

I was sitting at my desk today eating mini peanut butter cups that I had bought with the intention of giving them to my students.  It was my passive aggressive response to a number of them "forgetting" to study for my district test and forgetting their #2 pencils.  I'm not usually a sweets person, but the more of them I ate, the more forgiving I felt about the whole thing.  I know that my kids have a lot on their plates right now, and I know that it is a struggle for kids and adults alike to work full force up until the break.  I was on the upswing of understanding.

Then, I got an e-mail from my main man.  It was a reminder that I needed to place my order for dinner from Breakaway Cafe tonight.  This had completely slipped my mind, and I was instantly excited once I read the e-mail.  Tom and I used to go to Breakaway once a week last year.  It's a little restaurant that is located conveniently nearby both the UMSL and Boeing campuses.  We'd meet there last year w…

Day 356- C-Dill

Our main Administrative Assistant (we'll call her C-Dill) is a hardworking woman if I've ever seen one.  She has about a million different responsibilities, but she seems to handle each one of them with ease.  I learned very early on that no matter what kinds of questions I had at school, the answer would almost always come back to, "Ask C-Dill."  The nice thing was that when I did ask her whatever it was, she would get back to me quickly and always seemed to know what to do.  She is a woman who knows how to get things done.

What makes this lovely lady even better is the fact that she is completely unassuming about what she does.  Although she is single-handedly running multiple school operations at once, she never finds it necessary to stop to tell people how busy and important she is.  She's way too busy and important to have the time to do that.  Instead, she stops to ask how people are doing and what she can do to help.  Isn't that refreshing?

C-Dill orga…