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Showing posts from 2011

Day 168- The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse and Foot High Pie

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I have had a crush on Johnny Rzeznik for over 10 years.  We've been through a lot together.  It turns out that he is of Polish decent, so we have that in common.  He's cute in a bad boy in a band kind of way, and that definitely helps.  The biggest reason for my undying love, however, is that I am obsessed with the Goo Goo Dolls and their music.  I wrote about them last year after popping Dizzy Up the Girl in my cd player last year and singing along to every word of every song.

I did a little research on my longtime love to try to find a good organization for today.  I discovered that Johnny's dad had a problem with alcohol that really affected the Rzeznik family deeply, especially after his alcohol-related death.  Johnny's mother died just a few years later, and he was an orphan at a young age.  This just makes me want to hug him more.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse works to help people with all kinds of addictions and problems like the one Johnn…

Day 167- Pitch in for Baseball and First Pool Day

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What a difference a year makes!  Armando Galarraga technically (but not officially) pitched a perfect game for the Tigers last year.  He's currently playing for the Diamondbacks now and not even a Tiger anymore, but I'd still like to make a donation in honor of his (almost?) accomplishment last year.

Pitch in for Baseball is a charity that focuses on kids.  The program lists four crucial goals on its website:

• To support the growth of baseball in the U.S. and internationally.
• To give kids equipment so they can get out, have fun and stay healthy.
• To teach kids important lessons through baseball, like teamwork and sportsmanship.
• To make friends across the world through America's pastime.

These are all really excellent lessons for kids, and I think Galarraga would be proud.

http://www.pitchinforbaseball.org/html/index.html

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After our teacher breakfast and a short stint at school, I am officially DONE for this school year.  I think that means I am no longer a first…

Day 166- Humanities Washington and School's Out for Summer!

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Art of Dancing in the Rain by Garth Stein last year.  The book made me laugh and cry and think, and reading the blog from last year made me want to read it all over again.  I just might.

I looked up Stein's website, and it turns out that he is involved in some really great organizations.  By stalking his calendar of upcoming events, I found one that I'd like to donate to today.  Stein grew up in Seattle, moved away for a while, and now resides there again.  Many of the groups he works with are scattered around that area, including Humanities Washington.  Their mission is to honor "stories, ideas, and perspectives from across our state that connect Washingtonians from all backgrounds and communities, allowing us to understand our past and present as we work to shape our future." 

Through reading, writing, storytelling, conversation, presentations, and other avenues, Humanities Washington reaches out to all to create a deeper understand…

Day 165- Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust and "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!"

Speaking of Memorial Day... it was on this date last year.  Here's an excellent charity that helps out our veterans.

http://cst.dav.org/

Not only is this one of the highest ratings I've ever seen for a charity on charitynavigator.org, it is also on their list of "10 Consistently Excellent Charities".  The program helps veterans in a variety of ways:

•Helping to maintain a volunteer-operated transportation network providing rides to sick and disabled veterans needing transportation to and from VA medical centers for treatment;

•Providing food and shelter and connecting homeless and needy veterans to essential medical care, VA benefits counseling and job training;

•Meeting the special needs of veterans faced with specific disabilities such as blindness and amputation;

•Supporting significant therapeutic initiatives;

•Supporting physical and psychological rehabilitation projects aimed at some of America’s most profoundly disabled veterans; and

•Bringing hope to the forgotten a…

Day 164- Sheltering Arms Senior Services and Memorial Day BBQ

I was thankful last year for Carol, a woman who was not too proud to accept some help from me.  I Tetrised (a new word?) a patio set into her car for her at good ol' HD and helped build and lift stuff.  I got as much out of the deal as she did.  It made me feel good.

In honor of this, I found an organization that helps out senior citizens.  It's called Sheltering Arms Senior Services, and they seem to do wonderful work.  I really like their motto, which is "Preserving Dignity and Independence".  Their mission is:

Sheltering Arms Senior Services is a nonprofit organization committed to the health and well-being of older adults and their family caregivers. Our mission is to promote the dignity and independence of older adults through service, advocacy, and support for caregivers.

http://www.shelteringarms.org/

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When we left Seattle a few years ago, I was happy to be starting the next phase of our lives, to go back to school, and to start teaching.  I was also read…

Day 163- National Disaster Search Dog Foundation and Stand-up Guys

It's Puppy's choice time again!  I so enjoyed a walk with him on this day last year, which means he gets to choose another charity.  Believe me, he's totally excited.

General chose the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation for today's donation.  He likes dog things and helping people.  He figured this would be a good way to combine a few of his interests.  In all seriousness, though, this is a wonderful organization. 

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) was founded in 1996. Our mission is to strengthen disaster response in America by recruiting rescued dogs and partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters. We offer the professionally trained canines and an ongoing training program at no cost to fire departments. And we ensure lifetime care for every dog in our program: once rescued, these dogs never need to be rescued again.

This is also a timely donation, as teams of these dogs a…

Day 162- TZONE and Stress-free Saturday

Believe it or not, I was thankful for Tyra Banks last year.  (Believe it!  It happened.)

Tyra actually does a lot of great stuff and does use her celebrity for good.  One of the wonderful projects Ms. Banks lends her time, money, and fame to is the TZONE Foundation.  She's talked about this a lot on America's Next Top Model and on her talk show, and I thought it was time for me to check it out.

http://www.tzonefoundation.org/

TZONE was born in 1999 when Tyra, passionate about inspiring girls to believe in themselves and take control of their lives, launched the TZONE camps. The camps provided a "Tyra style" leadership and empowerment program which gave teen girls a unique, week-long overnight camp experience held outside of LA, where Tyra personally lived among and bonded with the campers. TZONE's mission was to reinforce positive values and encourage girls to resist social pressures through a fierce, self-esteem building adventure.

Building self-esteem?  Sign me u…

Day 161- Yearbook and Husband to the Rescue

As a Comm. Arts teacher, I had job of handing out yearbooks to all of my students.  I had been telling the kids all year as they got little reminders to order that if any of them needed a little help, they should approach me privately, and we'd work something out.  Our yearbook is not your typical middle school book (or at least it's not the floppy kind I got in middle school).  It is a full color, hard cover, nice looking, yet expensive type deal. 

A kid looked all sad in my class today as the other kids got their yearbooks, laughed at all the pictures, and started signing.

By the end of the day, the student brought me his yearbook to sign.  He was beaming.  The thanks in his eyes warmed my heart.

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I DID IT!  I finally finished my grading for the year.  It is hard to believe that I will not have another paper to grade until August.  WOO HOO!  I'll miss my kids, but I won't miss the grading.

My husband really helped to make this moment possible today.  I decided…

Day 160- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Day of Celebrations

Last year= Domino's pizza fun and deliciousness
This year= A donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a Domino's favorite

"Find cures.  Saving children.

St. Jude is unlike any other pediatric treatment and research facility. Discoveries made here have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. With research and patient care under one roof, St. Jude is where some of today's most gifted researchers are able to do science more quickly.

St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay."

http://www.stjude.org/stjude/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=f87d4c2a71fca210VgnVCM1000001e0215acRCRD

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I got to do a lot of things that made me very happy today. 

I started a tradition last year.  I created PowerPoints for my classes at the end of my student teaching to share a few …

Day 159- A BroaderWay Foundation and Shut Eye

Idina Menzel rocked my world a year ago, and she's still doing it today.  I'm happy to support a charity that Idina created with her equally wonderful husband, Taye Diggs.

http://www.abroaderway.org/

A BroaderWay Foundation was established in 2010 by Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs as a means of supporting young people in the arts. A BroaderWay sponsors camp programs, theater workshops, innovative educational programming and offers scholarships and opportunities to experience professional performances.

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After hours and hours of perfecting some slideshows for my classes tomorrow, I am happy to get a few hours of shut eye.  This sleep will help me to be warm, nurturing, and perky tomorrow as I attempt to share one last time with my students how special they are.  I really am excited.

Thank you, shut eye, you made my day.

Day 158- Honor Flight Supplies and Pranksters

Our school district raised quite a bit of money this year to send an entire group of WWII veterans on an honor flight.  Never heard of honor flights before?  I hadn't before this year either.  Basically, the goal of the honor flight program is to send veterans to their memorials in Washington, D.C. in order to honor the service they gave to our country and the sacrifices they made along the way.  It's good stuff.

Our social studies department and librarian held a fundraiser this year for staff and students to donate to this great cause.  It was a great success!  They raised enough money to send a whole bunch of vets on their honor flight, and our librarian and one of the teachers get to go with them tomorrow.  They sent out an e-mail asking for all kinds of supplies they would need to take with them, and I happily obliged with today's donation.

For more information on how to support these flights for our heroes, check this out.

http://www.honorflight.org/index.cfm

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Th…

Day 157- SOME and Worthwhile File Note

I was thankful for something quite simple on this day last year, a lukewarm shower.  After hours working hard in the hot sun, I just wanted a cool place to hang out and a shower to wash it all away.  I couldn't possibly imagine what it would be like to not have a place to go home to.

I decided to donate to SOME today.  Here's what they do:

SOME (So Others Might Eat) was founded by Father Horace McKenna, S.J. and an interfaith group of priests, ministers, and lay persons in 1970 to help feed the city's destitute citizens. Today, SOME is an interfaith, community-based organization that exists to help the poor and homeless of our nation's capital. We meet the immediate daily needs of the people we serve with food, clothing, and health care. We help break the cycle of homelessness by offering services, such as affordable housing, job training, addiction treatment, and counseling, to the poor, the elderly and individuals with mental illness. Each day, SOME is restoring hope …

Day 156- Goodwill and Clean Floor

I laughed out loud when I read last year's entry.  Before you go thinking I have a big ego, it was someone else's words that cracked me up, not my own.  Do you remember the Nordstrom Guide to Men's Style?  The sport coat compared to MacGeyver?  It still cracks me up.

It only makes sense to donate clothes in honor of this, right? 

I cleaned out the ol' closet, and everything is being donated.  By everything, I mean a LOT of stuff.  This definitely tops the $5 marker for the day :).

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Lately, I don't have much time,
and my floor has gotten out of line.

It's hard to keep the cleanest space
when I am moving at such a pace.

Since my closet's way too small,
I just can't seem to fit it all. 

But today I took just a few minutes,
and I'm no longer living in it.

Where all those clothes were strewn before,
all I see now is a nice, clean floor. :)

Thank you, clean floor, you made my day.

Day 155- Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Tim McGraw

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http://new.lincolncenter.org/live/

I enjoyed a wonderful date night with my even more wonderful husband last year.  We thoroughly enjoyed seeing a play, and that gave me an idea for where to donate to today.

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (LCPA) serves three primary roles: presenter of superb artistic programming, international leader in arts and education, and manager of the Lincoln Center campus. As a presenter of over 400 events annually, LCPA complements the offerings of the 11 other Lincoln Center resident organizations through a variety of popular series. Live From Lincoln Center extends the reach of Lincoln Center's stages to millions of Americans across the country. As an international leader in arts and education, LCPA takes a wide range of activities beyond its halls through its educational cornerstone, Lincoln Center Institute, as well as offering arts-related symposia; family programming; accessibility; and other community initiatives.


Support the arts!  I do :)…

Day 154- Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund and Bridesmaids

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I was oh so pleasantly surprised with a little blue box from my husband on this day last year.  It's been a year, and I am still just as proud to have my apple pendant dangle from my neck. 

When I was poking around for ideas about where to donate in connection with Tiffany and Co., I had a thought.  Shocking, I know.  I have always adored Breakfast at Tiffanys, and I know that Audrey Hepburn was a great humanitarian.  She spent many years of her life working for UNICEF, and her sons created a charity in her honor.  On the website for the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund, her longtime partner is quoted as saying,


“Audrey never, it seems to me, strove or hoped to leave a lasting legacy with her films. Certainly she was tickled by the fact that so many of them had become as popular as they did.

What I feel she would have wanted, had she been given more time, would have been to continue her efforts on behalf of children - because she knew it is a never-ending task with much still to…

Day 153- Canine Partners for Life and Hometown Visits

Puppy and his dreams made my day last year.  That little guy sure cracks me up.

Here's where he chose to donate to today:

http://www.k94life.org/

Founded in 1989, Canine Partners For Life (CPL) is dedicated to training service dogs, home companion dogs, and residential companion dogs to assist individuals who have a wide range of physical and cognitive disabilities. CPL works to improve the quality of life of persons with physical disabilities. Each CPL dog receives a comprehensive and customized training program to meet the specific needs of their human partner. Depending on the assigned program, the dog will receive up to two years of training before being trained to work with its person. CPL has one of the strongest follow-up programs in the industry to ensure the success of each team throughout the lifetime of the partnership.





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Yes, I still watch American Idol.  It happens.  I just can't help myself.

The hometown visits are one of my favorite parts of the show.  I usua…

Day 152- Food on Foot and Special Note

Last year-- 3 letters-- N... P... H!!!! 

He was brilliant on Glee, wasn't he?  I still smile just thinking about it.

In an effort to make NPH smile back (you know, because we're good friends and surely he reads my blog), I donated to a charity he supports today.  It's called Food on Foot, and they do fabulous things.

Food on Foot operates a weekly meal program every Sunday in Hollywood. Food on Foot began in March 1996 as one man's response to the hunger he witnessed among the poor and homeless of Hollywood. What initially began as the distribution of meals from the trunk of a car has grown through the dedication of its volunteers and now serves more than 250 meals each week to homeless, disabled, elderly and low-income adults and children.

http://www.foodonfoot.org/

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One of my students gave me a really nice note today.  She told me that she has truly enjoyed being in my class, among other things.  This was especially meaningful because it came from a completely u…

Day 151- Children's Miracle Networks and Deep Discussions

I was listening to "What I Cannot Change" by Leann Rimes on repeat last year, and I thanked her for making my day.  Man, I love that song!  I still listen to it on repeat every now and then.  It's in my inspirational/motivational/sensational/all kind of other -ational rotation.  Upon examination of Leann's website, I found that she is a supporter of the Children's Miracle Networks.

Here's what they do:

Children's Miracle Network's mission is to generate funds and awareness programs in partnership with and for the benefit of member hospitals/foundations and the children they are privileged to serve. We raise funds for more than 170 children's hospitals. Countless individuals, organizations and media partners unite with Children's Miracle Network hospitals to help sick and injured kids in local communities. Donations to Children's Miracle Network create miracles by funding medical care, research and education that saves and improves the lives…

Day 150- Mailbox Surprises and Bright Pink Scarf

Last year I appreciated the simple pleasure of getting things in the mail.

Today my "donations" went into mailboxes at school.  I have learned from personal experience that a nice little unexpected note can go a long way in brightening a person's day.  It always seems as if these kinds of things pop up in my life just at the right time when I need some words of encouragement.

I tried to spread my sunshine today in the form of brightly colored cards with kind words on the inside.  I hope it worked. :)

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The bright pink scarf
is a good disguise.

Food baby...
what food baby?

Pimple...
what pimple?

All I can see is the bright pink scarf. 

So my shirt didn't fit quite right,
and I lost a button on my pants.

I didn't fret.
I mesmerized with the bright pink scarf...
or distracted at least.


Thank you, bright pink scarf, you made my day.

Day 149- Children's Museum of Houston and Lesson Plans

I was thankful for Texas last year.  That created a somewhat daunting task for today's donation.  The state of Texas is huge, and the pool of charities is even larger.  I hopped on over to charitynavigator.org (see "yesterday's" post) to see what I might do, and I found a goodie.

The Children's Museum of Houston caught my attention with their tagline "a playground for your mind".  I love museums, and I love playgrounds (the monkey bars kind and the mind kind). 

The Children's Museum of Houston is the highest-attended youth museum in the country for its size and is dedicated to its mission of transforming communities through innovative, child-centered learning. Housed in a whimsical building designed by internationally acclaimed architect Robert Venturi, the Children's Museum of Houston offers a multitude of exhibits bursting with action-packed fun that engage kids in the ultimate learning experience. The Museum was founded in 1980 by a group of …

Day 148- Charity Navigator and Movie Date

Ok, I'm not to blame for this bit of cheesiness.  Blame Tom!

I was thankful for a Jeep Compass last year because it got us to Medina when our airplane couldn't.  It only makes sense to donate to charitynavigator.org today.  Compass... navigator... get it? 

We're blaming Tom for that one, remember?

In all seriousness, charitynavigator.org is a great website that I use almost every day.  It's like a Better Business Bureau of charities.  Organizations on the site are analyzed and given rankings on a 4-star system in order to help people like you and me more easily navigate which charities are legit and which should be avoided.  The site also makes it easy to find charities and to search by keyword for exactly the types of places you want.  In order to keep the site running, they need their own donations, and I'm happy to provide one today.

http://www.charitynavigator.org/

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Tom and I had not seen a movie in a long, long time.  We kept planning to go to one... and…

Day 147- Puppies Behind Bars and Sub Compliment

Last year I wrote about the fabulous people at Country Lane (General's "camp") and their kind treatment of our little guy.  I asked Puppy where he'd like to donate to this year in honor of last year's post, and we decided on Puppies Behind Bars (Tom helped me all of this too).

Puppies Behind Bars trains inmates to raise puppies to become service dogs for the disabled and explosive detection canines for law enforcement.

"As our puppies mature into well-loved, well-behaved dogs, their raisers learn what it means to contribute to society rather than take from it."
http://www.puppiesbehindbars.com/


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I received a really nice compliment today, and I know I'm going to carry it around for a long time.  My CWC teacher was out, so the sub was in my room for part of my CWC class.  I saw her again when she approached me at lunch.  She told me that she really enjoyed being in my classroom.  I was delighted at this remark, but that wasn't all.  She went o…

Day 146- Anderson House and Choir Concert

http://www.andersonhouse.org/

Jay Mohr made my day last year.  Oh, he's a funny guy!  He is a big time supporter of the Anderson House charity and does a lot of work for them.  If it's good enough for Jay, it's good enough for me.  Here's what they do:

Dedicated to providing quality treatment, Anderson House supports women as they develop the necessary goals and life skills to return to the community as responsible, sober and productive individuals.

With a success rate of 78-84%, Anderson House is a well-respected halfway house program serving women from all New Jersey counties.

Anderson House is committed to serving all women regardless of their ability to pay. Everyone at Anderson House is dedicated to making it the premier program in the state. We take great pride in the work we do helping women build new lives for themselves and their children.

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At the request of some of my kiddos, I attended their last choir concert tonight.  Boy, I'm glad I did.  I can hon…

Day 145- "Key Club" and Contract

I'm thrilled to say that a coworker and I are creating a new club at my school next year.  I am even more excited to say that it will be a volunteer and service club for students.  It will somewhat like clubs at other schools that are called Key Clubs.  There's my tie in to last year's Key Lime cake. 

The two of us are both on our building climate committee together, and we discussed our mutual interest in this idea at a meeting a few weeks ago.  We've both noticed that there are often opportunities for our kids and staff to donate money and stuff to good causes.  I always support these things and encourage my kids to as well, especially my can-drive-winning Ac Lab.  I love to see my kids learning the value of charity and giving back. 

However, many of our kids at school are in need of help themselves.  They don't have the means to participate in these contests because they don't really have means at all.  That's why we want to give these kids and the res…

Day 144- C Gift and Breakaway Date

I have a coworker who does all kinds of things for all kinds of people. She stays late to help out, is always good for a casual conversation, and takes good care of the people around her. She's just plain awesome.

Our department decided to put some money together to get something nice for our wonderful coworker. It was the perfect cause for my $5 today.

Is there someone in your life that you might recognized today? Who doesn't love to feel appreciated?

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Breakaway Cafe is

a. a place near the UMSL campus where Tom and I used to meet for dinner before I headed off to a night of classes
b. a restaurant with an amazing house Italian dressing, turkey melt, and seasoned french fries.
c. the location of our date last night after I was back at it on campus.
d. a place where one can get a Dr. Pepper in a cute little glass bottle.

E. ALL of the ABOVE!!! :)

Thank you, Breakaway date, you made my day.

Day 143- My Kids and Swirly Dress

This day last year was Mother's Day, and I wrote about my own lovely mother. When I asked my mom before where I might make a donation in honor of her, she told me to use the money for my kids. That's just what I did! :)




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When I was little, I loved to wear dresses. I could get dirty and make mud pies with the best of them, but I still loved my dresses. I'd twirl around in them to watch the skirt flow out until I got dizzy. My mom even used to call me Vanna White because I used to watch Wheel of Fortune just long enough to see what she was wearing. It makes me laugh now to think that she was my fashion icon, but I think she was something back in the day.

It turns out that I still like dresses, and I still like that swirly dress trick. I had fun flouncing around all day.
Thank you, swirly dress, you made my day.

Be Right Back!

I'll be back tomorrow to catch up on this crazy, busy, fabulous week! :)

Until then...

Day 142- Morris Animal Foundation and Sock Monkeys

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I was on the Betty White bandwagon before it was the cool place to be.  I've loved her since "Golden Girls".  Heck, I've loved her since I used to watch old Mary Tyler Moore reruns.  She's magical.  When she hosted SNL last year, I had no choice.  I had to write about her.

Betty just so happens be on a bandwagon of her own.  She's a huge animal lover (c'mon, I'm not a stalker... this is a matter of public record).  One of her main charities of choice is the Morris Animal Foundation.

Founded in 1948, Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) improves the health and well-being of companion animals and wildlife by funding humane health studies and disseminating information about those studies. MAF has been at the forefront of funding health breakthroughs that have helped animals on all seven continents. Our funded research helps a wide variety of animals, including companion animals such as dogs, cats, horses, llamas/alpacas, as well as wildlife including mountain g…

Day 141- United Through Reading and Heather's Birthday Party

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I was a "bad girl" last year in Barnes and Noble.  What can I say?  I love flipping through brand new pages of a brand new book.  That's about as bad as I get.

Part of the reason I love books so much is because I grew up surrounded by reading and books.  I see firsthand in my classroom the differences between kids who have also had these kinds of experiences and those who have not.  I just wish everyone got that chance at home.

United Through Reading is a program that helps.  Their mission is to "unite families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together."  I belive wholeheartedly in this idea and its importance.  I'm happy to support this program today.

http://www.unitedthroughreading.org/

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Perfect weather.  Perfect company.  Lovely day (I won't say perfect day because there may have been a little too much fun for a couple of people...haha... and it wasn't me this time).

Thank you, Heather's B…

Day 140- V-Day and "Flowers"

I adore Law and Order: SVU.  I know it's kind of strange to really enjoy a show about violence against special victims, but it is a fascinating glimpse into a world that is completely foreign to me.  I wrote about my love for the show last year (and for my love of the show's Detective Staebler, which still exists).  It's fun to watch because it's not at all real to me.

The scary thing is that many of the episodes seem as if they are ripped from real headlines.  I often recognize the stories as being at least partially real, and this kind of violence does exist in the real world, even if it has not invaded my own little world.  That's why I donated to V-Day today.

http://www.vday.org/home

Founded in 1998, V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the figh…

Day 139- Michigan Environmental Council and Puppy Flowers

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I was thankful for my clean bathrooms last year.  I wish I could say that this year, but they may have to wait another week or two until the end of the school year.  Days like "clean bathroom" present a bit of a challenge when trying to connect donations, but I did the best I could.

I searched for "bathroom" on charitynavigator.com, and I was shocked to find 0 results.  By shocked, I mean I wasn't surprised at all.  "Clean" produced a bunch of results, among them the Michigan Environmental Council.  This sounded like a more than suitable organization, and my donation was completed.  Here's what they do:

The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) provides a collective voice for the environment at the local, state and federal levels. Working with our 70 member groups and their collective membership of nearly 200,000 residents, MEC is addressing the primary assaults on Michigan's environment; promoting alternatives to urban blight and suburban spraw…

Day 138- Drinks and Mom Who Gets It

I'm in the Secret Society at school.  Don't worry, I'm not spilling any big secrets here.  We're called over the intercom to remind us of our meetings, and we claim all of our good deeds.  The word secret is used quite loosely here.

The Secret Society is a club at school that does nice things for the staff.  We bring treats to faculty meetings, organize fun holiday things like Secret Santas and door decorating, and try to make things in the building fun.  One of our best recent contributions was a chocolate fountain with all the dipping lovelies at a staff meeting after school.  It was delicious and well-received.  Plus, it made the meeting more entertaining because everyone had gotten a little something chocolate somewhere in the dipping madness.  Good times.

Today we organized a lunch situation for our half day before professional development.  We had pulled pork sandwiches, chips, fruit, desserts, and... the drinks I donated. :)

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I didn't realize how much …

Day 137- Food Allergy Initiative and Dynamic Duo

http://www.foodallergyinitiative.org/

Benadryl saved the day for me last year.  I don't even really remember the situation, to be honest, but I think it had to do with a month long cold I seemed to have that may have had something to do with allergies.  We've got an extremely high pollen count in these parts, so I wouldn't be surprised if there's a little more of that now. 

I know that this type of allergy and food allergies are not the same, but they're all allergies.  Right?  Sounds good to me.  Therefore, my donation today was made to the Food Allergy Initiative.

The Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) was founded in 1998 by concerned parents and grandparents. Our goal is to fund research that seeks a cure; to improve diagnosis and treatment; and to keep patients safe through education and advocacy. FAI-sponsored research seeks to find a cure and improve clinical treatment, including anaphylaxis and chronic diseases of the skin and gastrointestinal tract caused by foo…

136- Talent Show Judging and Hallway Supermodel

Hahaha... I made myself a fine challenge today.  I wrote about "I Just Want to be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb for last year's blog.  What in the world could I find to donate to that might connect to that?  It's a good thing that I have experienced years of suspect transitions used by my dad in conversations.  This has given me an inflated sense of confidence about my own connecting abilities.  That will work nicely in this situation.

Andy Gibb is a talented singer.  Stop laughing.  It's true.  I volunteered my help for Monday and Tuesday of this week to listen to what I hoped would be other singers and talents.  Barnwell hosted their annual talent auditions, and the choir director asked for staff volunteers to come judge and help pick who would make the show this year.  You better believe I jumped on this opportunity!

I'm always looking for ways to get more involved in my school, and this was a fun one.  I got to spend an hour pretending I was Simon Cowell …

Day 135- St. Charles Parks and Recreation Foundation and Pirate Party

I rejoiced in my first lazy Saturday in months around this time last year.  I had just finished my student teaching, and this meant my six-day-a-week work schedule had finally come to a conclusion.  In the spirit of nice, lazy Saturdays, I made today's donation to our local park foundation.  After all, parks are excellent facilitators of lazy Saturdays.  I hope to spend many more visiting all of our local parks with my boys, even though General will feel the need to "mark his territory" on at least seven trees per park (no joke).

http://www.stcharlesparksfoundation.org/index.php

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What's cuter than a bunch of little munchkins whacking a pinata at a 4-year-old's pirate birthday party?  Hmm... not much. 

Hot dogs and all kinds of other fixings, an adorable treasure chest cake, and great company rounded out a wonderful Sunday afternoon spent at little AM's birthday party.

Thank you, pirate party, you made my day.

Day 134- Early Morning and The Barbras

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It's interesting how things work out sometimes.  On this day last year, I was thankful for my sleep.  I gave up my sleep this year to donate my time.  Good timing!

I chaperoned my first field trip today.  We went to Springfield, Illinois to see all of the Lincoln historical sites.  We toured his office, his home, and his museum.  It was pretty cool to walk around and see everything!  It was almost equally as cool that a bunch of eighth graders cared enough to give up their Saturday to pay to go on a field trip that was not required.  I was willing to donate my one day of sleeping in and me time to help out on the trip.  Again, I suppose this must mean that I love my job.

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I knew that all of the historical things I saw today would be cool.  I love museums, and I definitely get wrapped up in the whole oooh-I'm-standing-where-so-and-so-stood business.  It was a fun time for a dork like me. 

What I was not expecting today was for the kids to be so good.  I suppose that I sho…

Day 133- Dress for Success and The Royal Wedding

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I recounted the somewhat humorous story last year of my first teaching job offer and the events leading up to it.  As ecstatic as I was, I had no idea how much that day changed my life.  This has been an incredibly rewarding (and tiring) year.  I am thankful to have gotten a job in the tough teacher market, and I am thankful that I will still have my job for at least another year.  All I need is the opportunity to teach, and I am happy to supply everything else.

I thought Dress for Success would be a nice place to donate to in connection with this idea.  I have heard countless times about the importance of making a positive first impression at a job interview.  I know firsthand how much a good interview can change a person's life.  Dress for Success can help with an important part of this process.

"The clothing that Dress for Success provides to our clients symbolizes our faith in every woman's ability to succeed.

Dress for Success solves the catch-22 that confronts disadv…

Day 132- Friendship Bridge and Howl Night

Last year a student offered me her friendship in the form of a bracelet.  I donate my friendship today in the form of Friendship Bridge.  What is it?

Friendship Bridge provides microcredit and education to help women and their families create their own solutions to poverty.


We believe that:

- Microcredit helps impoverished women reach economic independence.
- Education for women and children is an important tool for development.
- Health education enhances personal, family and community well being.
- Respect for the spiritual and cultural roots of communities is fundamental.
- Participatory techniques incorporate each client’s voice.
- Women are leaders for change in their families and communities.
- Effective programs are created through listening

http://www.friendshipbridge.org/

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I got to wear my cowboy boots today.  A sundress, a denim jacket, and some cowboy boots.  It was Barnwell's annual "Howl Night", and the theme this year was something about the Old West.…

Day 131- Ronald McDonald House and Plays

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard...

Well, actually, last year my boy brought the milkshake and not the other way around.  It's a special trick when I am sick.  Yes, that totally just rhymed.  Anyway... milkshakes made me think of McDonald's and made me think of being a sick little kid.  The Ronald McDonald House charities combine both of these things.  Bingo!

http://rmhc.org/

Our Ronald McDonald House program provides a “home-away-from-home” for families so they can stay close by their hospitalized child at little or no cost. Our Houses are built on the simple idea that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on healing their child – not where they can afford to stay, where they will get their next meal or where they will lay their head at night to rest.

Allow Families to Face the Weight of Illness Together


Families are stronger when they are together, which helps in the healing process. By staying at a Ronald McDonald House, parents also can better commun…

Day 130- Central Institute for the Deaf and "Born This Way"

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I had the somewhat frightening task of teaching with hand signals only at this time last year.  My voice had left me, and I was trying to complete my last few days of student teaching.  Slowing down was not an option.  Luckily, my kids responded well to the hand signals, and it taught me some new teaching skills.  My voice returned for my last two days.  I was thankful to have the opportunity to say all of the things I wanted to say to my kids before I left.

My donation today was made to help people who need to successfully navigate the world with their hands much of the time.  Their hand signals form the majority of their communication system, and I'm sure I could learn a lot from that.  The Central Institue for the Deaf helps this population in a number of important ways.

Since its founding in 1914, Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) has demonstrated that regardless of how severe their hearing impairment, children can learn to speak and to understand the speech of others when e…

Day 129- Raffle Basket and O'Ekaki

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Thursday night is Barnwell's annual Howl Night, and all of the teams at school are asked to put together a basket for a raffle.  My team decided to do a movie theme for ours.  Since my movie favorite (popcorn) was taken right from the start, I contributed all kinds of different boxes of movie candy.  Sour Patch Kids, Snowcaps, and Milk Duds... oh my! 

Our basket turned out really well, and I hope we raise some money! :)

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I can't remember how I discovered O'Ekaki, but I'm sure glad that I did.  It is one part logic puzzle, one part paint-by-number, and 100% awesome.



In my puzzle books, I have created pictures of everything from Marilyn Monroe to the Mona Lisa to Jesus.  I'm hoping that this constant exercising of my brain has its benefits.  Even if it doesn't, I could do these puzzles all day.  In fact, I just may have done that once or twice.

Thank you, O'Ekaki, you made my day.

A Promise

I promise I will catch up soon.  It has been a long couple of days!!

In the meantime, I have a request.  If you are the praying type, will you please pray for my students?  A few of them are going through things that are far too heavy for eighth graders to be dealing with... or for anyone to be dealing with, for that matter.  It's been a rough few days, and I want more than anything for them to come out of all this strong and shiny.

I probably care about these kids more than I should, but I can't help it.  The day I stop thinking about these kids day and night is the day I should find myself a new profession.  I just hope they know how much I want for them to be happy, well-adjusted people.  If these people report back to me in the future about their successes, I will be over the moon.  My students will impact this world in one way or another, so I fight every day for them to make the right choices and to overcome everything that is thrown at them.  It seems to be a lot these …

Days 127 and 128- United Way Tornado Relief and Easter Weekend

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United Way Tornado Relief Fund

What started out as some thunderstorms in the area over the past few days turned into something much worse.  The greater St. Louis area was ravaged by a series of tornadoes that brought golf ball sized hail with them and left behind a trail of destruction.  Our airport was shut down because of shattered windows and massive damage to terminals and runways alike.  Tom and I were shocked to see the footage on the news of the devastation surrounding us. 

We had some bad storms at our house.  However, it was not nearly as serious as what we were seeing.  In fact, we had joked around about it all.  I laughed at Tom and said, "The weatherman told us to stay inside and seek cover.  What you heard was, 'Go outside to see how awesome the storm is.'"  We were lucky. 

People here got hit, and they got hit hard.  A lot of this happened just miles away from us.  Again, we absolutely could not believe the images we were seeing.  Other than a big swam…