Monday, February 28, 2011

Day 73- Gander Area Food Bank and Electricity

After being as into the Olympics last year as I could possibly be without actually being in them, I was thankful for Canada.  It's fabulous to be able to watch sports 24/7.  It's fun that everyone else watches and it provides great conversation for a few weeks.  I am also a huuuuuge sucker for the touching moments.  Oh, those touching moments!  I know other people completely disagree and just want the events, and I do find myself a bit weary of the back stories by the end, but I love me an emotional story.

One story in particular that touched me last year was that of the town of Gander, CA.  When the planes crashed into NYC on 9/11, many other planes were rerouted to other places.  That's how Gander factors into the whole thing.  Many Americans were stranded there for days, and the people of this town took them in and treated them as if they were family.  There's much more to it than that, and I encourage you to look it up.  It really moved me.

Anyway... short story long, I decided to donate to Gander in honor of my "Canada" post from last year.  Tom helped me to find a food bank there, and I'm pleased to contribute to this sweet little town today.

http://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=s77405

******

We had a real doozy of a storm last night.  There were sirens and rain and blustery winds and hail and all kinds of wacky weather.  Many of my kids today had heavy lids from late nights spent watching the news or hiding in their basements.  Others frantically asked me, after hearing the stories of their classmates, if it was a big issue that they had slept through it all.  Hmm... maybe kind of sort of that's an issue, but I was diplomatic about this.

The whole thing really didn't disturb my sleep.  I don't need a whole lot of sleep to function like a normal person anyway.  Perhaps normal is not the correct word, as I'm not sure anyone would describe me that way, but you catch my drift.  I went to bed (in front of a big window) during the sirens because I was tired.  The second set of sirens was mildly annoying, but I was ready to get my sleep on... so I did.  I hoped for the best this morning...

...and I got it!

Growing up rurally (I don't think that's really a word, but I like it), storms did not scare me that much.  They never really have.  In fact, I think it's kind of fun when you're safe inside and you have the snow/rain/sleet/wind/tornado globe effect happening all around you.  However, the ruralness (woo hoo!  another new word with the rural root) of my childhood living situation led to storms scaring me in a different way.  It was the aftermath that was uncertain and often undesirable. 

storms= tree branches all over
tree branches all over= lots of cleanup and no electricity
no electricity= spans of at least three days at a time and learning to use toilet flushes creatively before they run out

I was ecstatic to wake up this morning and realize that our power was still on.  No joke.  I'm a suburbanite these days, and I doubt that we would ever go without power for too long, barring some sort of major occurence.  Yet, I do not take post-storm electricity for granted.  Not one bit.   

I smirked during my shower and after I flushed the toilet (just because) and while I was blow drying my hair and so on and so forth.  It was as if I had won some sort of bet or beaten some kind of odds.  Electricity rules!

Thank you, electricity, you made my day.

Day 72- Piast Institute and PS 22 Choir

In honor of my girl Justyna Kowalczyk representing for all of us Polish ladies last year, I made a donation to the Piast Institute.  This is the National Institute for Polish and Polish American Affairs.
Piast Institute is the only independent think tank and research center in North America devoted to Polish and Polish American affairs. It is also one of fifty-six United States Census Bureau Census Information Centers, the only such center with a special focus on a major European ethnic group.

With its staff, boards and international network of fellows, Piast develops conferences, seminars, publications, public programs, lectures, and exhibits that provide accurate, timely and current information about Poland, Poles, and Polish Americans. It also has a special interest in the role of Ethnicity in American Life.

With its resources and its position as a Census Information Center, Piast Institute also acts as a data resource center helping Polish, Polish American and other community groups develop policy papers and historical, cultural, political, economic, social, and demographic studies on a wide variety of topics.

The Piast Institute is also officially certified by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration as a designated assistance site with trained staff to help immigrants with visa, documentation and status issues.

The Institute’s mission and programming also aim to celebrate Polish contributions to American as well as general world culture, and to address and counter inaccurate or defamatory information about Poland, Poles or Polish Americans.

The Institute was founded in 2002 by Dr. Thaddeus Radzilowski, a celebrated historian, writer and academic, and Mrs. Virginia Skrzyniarz, an accomplished executive serving non-profit organizations in various capacities for over twenty years.

Lots of folks with random "z's" thrown into their names?  These are clearly my peeps.

http://www.piastinstitute.org/home.html
******

I'm not sure this really needs an explanation.



I love the Oscars.  I know it's silly, but I do.  I love the fashion and the montages and the emotional speeches and all the little moments.  However, those PS 22 kids topped all of it for me this year!  C'mon, did you watch the video?

It was a perfect example of true beauty amidst the glitz and glamour of Hollywood (which I also love, but I know the difference here).  I have adored watching those kids cover song after song, and it was wonderful to see them have their own Oscar moment tonight.

Thank you, PS 22 Choir, you made my day.

Wizard of Oz

I turned my computer off last night before I blogged because we were having some weather!  There were tornado sirens and everything.  It kind of reminded me of the beginning of The Wizard of Oz, and I was even a bit surprised to find this morning that our house had not blown to a new location.  It was half scary, half fun.  Well, since we were safe inside (and because we still have power), maybe it was 1/4-3/4.

I'll catch up later :).

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 71- Parsons New School for Design and Vacation Fever

In honor of my love for Tim Gunn on this day last year (and every day, really), I made a donation today to the Parsons School for Design.  This is the school featured on Project Runway, another one of those guilty pleasure shows I find myself addicted to season after season.  Tim was on the faculty there for a while and has been a mentor to many who have passed through their doors.

Tim and Parsons are fabbbbbb-u-lous!

https://epay.newschool.edu/C21120_ustores/web/store_main.jsp?STOREID=1&SINGLESTORE=true

******

Within a span of less than five minutes this afternoon, I got my passport in the mail (name change) and found a cute bathing suit that only cost me $13 (plus shipping and the cost of that other suit I got too). 

When I went out with great friends for great times tonight, I wore my "Sun Your Buns" t-shirt.  I can't remember is Manda found this gem at Goodwill or if I did, but I was sporting it today.

My vacation fever has kicked in fully and completely!  Could I be any more excited?  Probably not.

Thank you, vacation fever, you made my day.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 70- Sweet Sleep and Five-year-old Feminist

Man.

Last year I wrote about an amazing couch nap experience.  Those experiences are rare lately, and this made me feel a little nostalgic for those drooling good times.  However, the good news is that even if I'm not the best sleeper these days, I did find a way today to hopefully make a few other people sleep better.

http://www.sweetsleep.org/aboutus/index.html

Sweet Sleep is an organization focused on providing beds for orphaned and abandoned children.  And this is important?  Heck yeah it is!

Orphaned and abandoned children around the world suffer from lack of sufficient or healthy places to sleep. These children often sleep on old, broken and soiled beds or have no beds at all – forcing them to sleep on paper-thin mats or cold, hard floors, making them susceptible to crawling, biting insects and disease.

Donations help get these kids into "healthy, comfortable beds" and provide mosquito nets to protect them.  I would imagine that giving another a good night's sleep would have to be one of the best gifts you could possibly give.

******
I laughed really hard today.  At a video.  Of a five-year-old.  I don't know her, but I like her.

If you're on facebook, you've probably seen this video posted alllll over.  I have too.  I like it so much that I click on it every time someone posts it.  That has been quite a few times.  I can't help myself.  This little five-year-old feminist is hilarious, and I think I may vote for her in an election in thirty years or so.  I'd like to help give her that job she's dreaming of.

Please watch and enjoy. :)



"I don't wanna marry someone if I don't have a job first.  If a man comes asking me, running out, no!  I don't wanna marry you yet.  I WANT to have a JOB.  And, if he says, 'I will not come back to you,' fine!  I'll find a different man.  This is my life.  You better stop caring.  I'm not going to do anything for you until I have my job.  I don't care if I marry you.  I don't care if I marry another man.  I care if I do something that's special.  I don't wanna marry someone if I don't have a job first." 

This little one cracked me up today (and yesterday too, if I'm being honest).  She's also kind of my hero.  I hope she does the television circuit so that I can see her sassy, precocious little self share more of her views in some interviews.  You go, Ms. Thang!

Thank you, five-year-old feminist, you made my day.

Day 69- Fisher House Programs (Hero Miles) and Test Scores

This one is exciting.  A solid connection!

I was all excited last year to have Tom home.  I was so excited that I thanked American Airlines for bringing him home.  I'm not an airlines groupie, but that's just how excited I was.  My idea for today was to find some kind of way to donate airline miles to someone else to try to create a similar kind of moment to make someone else's day.  With the assistance of my wonderful assistant (Tom), I found one!

The Fisher House Programs help military families in all kinds of different ways.  It just so happens that one of their programs, Hero Miles, fits what I was looking for perfectly.  Through their website,

http://209.20.92.145/programs/heromiles.html

people can donate unused airline miles to help members of the military to fly to their families (or to help their families fly to them at one of the medical centers). 

Tom and I are truly honored to take this opportunity to donate miles to the men and women who serve our country.  USA!  USA!

******

Whenever I give a test or project to my kids, I hold my breath.  I want them to do well so badly.  I want to know that they are learning and that I'm doing my job to the best of my abilities.  As I tell my kids, I'd love to give them all "A's" if they all earned them.  This is not always the case. 

The most recent assessment I gave was one that got scanned into this computer program we use to compile data.  Still holding my breath, I pulled up the results today.

I was delighted to breath a sigh of relief today.

My students did well.  Some of them even totally rocked it.  Teacher is happy and will have a good night's sleep on that one.  Then... back to the grind in the hopes of replicating this kind of result over and over until June!  I am grateful for the fuel.

Thank you, test scores, you made my day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 68- iheartmom and Puppy Participation

Here's a first.  My donation for the day was in Canadian dollars.  This makes sense because last year I wrote about a Canadian who inspired me and touched my heart, Joannie Rochette.  Joannie lost her mother to a heart attack just days before she was scheduled to figure skate in the Olympics.  She chose to continue in the competition, to skate in honor of her mom. 

Joannie ended up earning a bronze medal, but her performance was so much more than that.  She exuded such poise and grace in the most difficult circumstances.  It was more than most of us can hope to demonstrate in our everyday lives.  Her moment trascended a skating competition, a sport, and even an Olympics. 

I was delighted to discover that Ms. Rochette has since become the spokesperson for a charity in honor of her mom.  She supports the "Heart Your Health" campaign, fighting the number one killer of women and speaking out about the importance of a healthy heart.

I trust Joannie.  I saw her heart last year, and it was incredible.  I think this is a woman who knows what she's talking about.

http://www.iheartmom.ca/

******
Our dog really does complete our family right now.  Sometimes I forget that he's a dog and not another member.  Don't worry, I don't forget in a dress-him-up-in-ridiculous outfits way or a take-him-everywhere-like-even-the-grocery-store kind of way.  It's just that he is an active participant in our lives.  I love him.

Puppy had quite a night tonight.

He danced.  Ever since Glee did Justin Bieber, Tom and I have been passing the inability to get the dang songs out of our heads back and forth.  As part of our singing/dancing/dinner making routine this evening, we changed "Baby, Baby" to "Puppy, Puppy."  To show his appreciation (or just because he likes dancing), puppy jumped up and down and danced with us until we were all laughing hysterically.  You may not think that a dog can laugh, but I assure you that he was.  Puppy has not shown us dance moves like that since he used to jump up and down to "In the Ayer" (ayer, a, ayer... ayer, a, ayer...). 

He worked out.  Ever the good helper, Puppy simply could not pass up an opportunity to "spot" Tom as he did push-ups in the living room.  He was all over it.  Literally.  Hysterical laughter again.  Tom couldn't even get mad. 

He conversed.  General has two toys that make him seem even more like a part of it all.  The first is a gefelte fish he got from Aunt Amanda and Uncle Jason.  Instead of squeaking, it says "Oy vey!" when he presses down on it or bites it.  He likes to throw this exclamation in at the most appropriate of times (like when someone is eliminated from a reality show or murdered in an episode of Law & Order on t.v.).  This obviously brings on yet another round of hysterical laughter.  General also got another talking toy for Christmas from Grandma and Grandpa M.  It's a Mr. Bill, and this one says "Ohhhh noooooo!" in the classic Mr. Bill voice.  These things are like those voice boxes for General.  They really allow him to express his feelings.  They also allow us many giggling opportunities.

Thank you, puppy participation, you made my day.

Day 67- Diabetes Action and Mr. Schuester's Shenanigans

http://www.diabetesaction.org/site/PageServer?pagename=index

Last year... Nestle Tollhouse
This year.... Diabetes Action

Connection made?  It works in my head in a roundabout kind of way.

Their focus

  • Alternative and complementary research
  • Grants for nutritional research
  • Promising research to find a cure for diabetes
  • Innovative research to prevent and treat diabetes
  • International medical assistance
  • Children's camp scholarship program
  • Education and prevention programs
Donate.  Just do it.

******
Tonight's Glee, although enjoyable, was a bit inapproriate for much of its young audience.  By a bit, I mean a whole lot.  There were a few shining moments that I couldn't help but laugh at, though.
 
1. Mr. Schue got a little tipsy and graded papers.  This completely cracked me up.  He was giving an A+ to each and every student, regardless of the other comments he was making.  He got to one paper, paused, and said, "Who are you?  I don't even know you!"  Maybe it's a teacher thing, and maybe I'm a bit tired (remember what "a bit" really means tonight), but the whole thing was just hilarious.
 
2. Mr. Schue accidentally drunk dialed Sue and left a message intended for Emma.  It was funny.  I promise.
 
As always, I loved everything about Brittany.  Every word and expression that comes from her is fabulously funny.  Beyond that, she is an amazing dancer.  Tonight she got to take center stage and really shine again.  It was also a clever move to have her singing Kesha because she looks kind of like her... it was even funnier when the principal introduced Kesha as "Key-dollar sign- ha!"  Is that just me?
 
Thank you, Schuester's Shenanigans, you made my day.   

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 66- Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and Modern Technology

Today was another one of those days where I wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into.  How exactly would I go about making some sort of donation connection to the ABBA entry of yore?  I thought about what I had written and why ABBA had made my day.  I realized that I probably could have written about ABBA at least enough days to fill a month last year, not just a day, and one word kept running through my head.

JOY.

I like to surround myself with things that bring me pure unfiltered joy.  I plugged "joy" into the search on charitynavigator.com and found a more than suitable answer to today's donation question.  My contribution has been made to the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.  After reading this little blurb on charitynavigator,

The Ordway is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading nonprofit performing arts centers and Saint Paul's most elegant and inviting performance space. The Ordway's Music Theater and McKnight stages attract diverse audiences with an array of productions showcasing the finest in American musical theater, world music, dance, and vocal performance. Education and community engagement are integral to the Ordway's mission, with major initiatives including the annual Flint Hills International Children's Festival and Ordway Education programs that serve over 50,000 students annually. The Ordway also sponsors the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, a professionally guided academic and artistic environment that trains aspiring pre-professional performing artists.

I was sold.  I was even more delighted when I went to the actual website for this organization.  While many of these sites ask me to "donate!" or "give now", this one simply requested that I "give joy".  Do they realize that's precisely what I was hoping to do?

http://www.ordway.org/

******

It's quite simple today, really.

My curriculum is cyclical.  There are all kinds of fancy educational language ways to make this sound fabulous.  What it really boils down to is that fact that I am teaching my kids the same kinds of skills over and over again.  This is wonderful because I get to watch students progress throughout the year and (hopefully) get better and better at what they are learning.  This also keeps me on my toes.  I am constantly looking for creative ways to make learning "the same old thing" more engaging.

I am, in essence, in a constant process of trying to reinvent the curriculum wheel.

Modern technology has really helped me out today.  It has taken me from "How in the world am I going to sell this to them again?" to "This week will be fun!"  I have a PowerPoints full of links to songs and fables.  I have great notes written out in a pretty way with pictures and colors and fonts.  I have a school district that allows me to use You Tube.

Mama's gotta wear her flats this week... she'll be working it!  (In case it isn't clear... ahem... um, I'm "Mama" here.)

Thank you, modern technology, you made my day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 65- GenerationOn and Mini Shopping Spree

Last year's board games= this year's GenerationOn donation

http://www.generationon.org/

This is an organization sponsored by the Hasboro Children's Fund (and there's our connection).  Their mission?

To inspire, equip, and mobilize youth to take action that changes the world and themselves through service. generationOn is the global youth service movement igniting the power of all kids to make their mark on the world. generationOn has brought the nation's leading youth service organizations and programs under one umbrella including New York-based Children for Children, The League, Learning to Give, Points of Light Institute's Kids Care Clubs, HandsOn Schools, and HandsOn Network's youth-driven programs. By partnering with teachers, parents, schools, community organizations and businesses, generationOn gives kids the opportunity to see firsthand the issues in their communities and the tools and resources they need to respond and become part of the solution.





The only thing I wonder is how I have not heard of this before.  A donation is clearly in order here. : )

******
I have said it before, and I'll say it again.  I am so blessed for so many reasons... more than I can count in sets of 365 days for the rest of my life.  I'll just add on to that list of reasons today.

I am lucky because we are going on our first vacation since our honeymoon in a few weeks.  We are so very excited beyond belief.

I am lucky because we went on a mini shopping spree (aided by Christmas gift cards, mind you).  I felt a little guilty about spending money, but we really don't shop much or spend a whole lot on ourselves.  It's always gifts or the house or the dog... we have to allow ourselves these little pleasures every now and then.

I am lucky because when I presented Tom with a "this one or this one" situation today, he said both without hesitation.  After much debating (and the guilt again), I got both.  I work hard.  Both. 

I am lucky because this time at the mall and the food court and the mall and the adjoining restaurant allowed me another day of hanging out and giggling with my best friend.  Yeah, we ate a lot too.  We decided today was our bachelor party before our marriage to getting into better shape to wear this stuff we bought for Spring Break.  Don't judge.  You know you've had your fair share of late night cheese sticks too.

I am lucky because I could be carefree since I have tomorrow off.  Church, Gingham's breakfast (tomorrow we're good, tomorrow), mini shopping spree, puppy play time, board games...

I'm just plain lucky.

Thank you, mini shopping spree, you made my day.

Day 64- Little Sisters of the Poor and Bleu Ribbon Burger

http://www.littlesistersofthepoor.org/

I wrote last year about my old lady Hallmark tendencies and a candle scent that brought back memories of tender moments with my grandma.  Hmm...

Here's what I came up with.  Little Sisters of the Poor

- help actual older ladies and gentleman (not those of us with senior citizen tendencies)... check!
- provide nursing and assisted living services to those in need.  My grandma was a nurse... check!
- give senior citizens the opportunity to participate in activities... check!
- is run by Sisters (not of the relative kind, more like the nun kind, so no one is drawing a salary from my donation)... check!

I think you can tell a lot about a society or a country by the way they treat certain groups of people.  I think the elderly are one of these groups, and I am pleased to donate to a charity with this cause in mind.

******
Sometimes I have no idea what I want to eat, and I consume whatever is at hand.  Other times I think I know exactly what I want, and then I see something else on a menu... and I order wrong.  I spend the rest of the meal kicking myself for not ordering my old favorite friend that I know I like. 

There are also the times when things just click, and I know exactly what I am craving.  These often result in some satisfied eating experiences and some unbuttoned pants.  I had one of those for dinner.  I was craving a hamburger with bleu cheese on it, and I just knew that nothing else would be anywhere near as good.  Tom agreed, as his mouth was watering for a chili cheese burger (gross). 

Enter Red Robin.  Yummmmmmm.  Did you just hear the song in your head?

My stomach was singing a happy song as I ate my Bleu Ribbon Burger.  In elastic waisted pants. 

Thank you, Bleu Ribbon Burger, you made my day.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 63- Lance* and Lunch Pop

An opportunity presented itself at dinner tonight.  I was delighted to find that Tom and I had a waiter who also just so happened to be a former student of mine last year.  I had thoroughly enjoyed having him in class, and it was nice to see him again.  We chatted for a bit, and he caught me up on what he's been up to.  He's in college now, majoring in all kinds of different things, and it's wonderful to see that he's happy and doing well.

I had not yet figured out where to donate today in honor of the men's figure skating I wrote about last year.  I decided that I had a different kind of idea instead.  Let me start by saying that my husband is a great tipper.  He always has been, and this pleases me.  However, I tip even more than he does.  This probably has a whole lot to do with the fact that I waited tables for a few years in college, and I understand how exciting it is to get good tips.  He'll always ask me at the end of dinner what I'd like to leave because he knows no matter what he writes on the credit card slip, I'll want to leave a dollar more.

I decided today that I'd make a "donation" to someone who is both deserving and in need.  We left an extra something for Lance*, my former student.  His job is helping to put him through college, and that's definitely a cause I can feel good about supporting.  I hope it made his day to clear the receipt from the table and realize that he'd have some extra money in his pocket today.  I must admit there was a somewhat selfish motive, though.  I'm hoping to be thanked in his Oscar speech someday.

Instead of a link, I'd like to again offer a simple suggestion.  Be kind to your server.  The few extra dollars that may mean so little to you can be a big deal to that college kid or parent or struggling someone or other.  Why not make someone's day?

******

I used to be addicted to Mountain Dew in college.  I would chug it like it was going out of style.  I'm not even sure how many I'd have per day, but the collection of cans that I'd build up to take back to the store told a somewhat scary story of dependence on the substance.  I wasn't really a coffee drinker, though, so I allowed myself this vice because it helped me with that not sleeping thing I talked about a few days ago.

After college, I realized that it would probably be best for me to break the habit.  Little by little, I cut down, much like the addicts I see on those Lifetime movies I love so much.  I got down to one per day, and I think that's just fine.  I still only occasionally drink coffee, and I'm still not good about making myself sleep, so I think a little caffeine here and there is acceptable.

There are some days where I don't have any pop (yes, I know I'm supposed to call it soda now that I live a little further south).  I'm a good, solid water drinker much of the time.  However, most days I have my once a day treat at lunchtime.  It helps me to perk up and make it through the day.  Today was a long day full of meetings and a persistent headache.  That lunch pop never tasted so bubbly.  Ahhh...  it's amazing how after just a few sips, my entire view of the world had somehow changed. 

I can't remember what I said I'd marry before if I could (Michigan football?), but let's add Mountain Dew to that list too.  I Dew.

Thank you, lunch pop, you made my day.
     

Day 62- Church and Soulologie

Where do you donate when you're trying to get money to God?  How do you decide which people or which places are really doing His work?

This is a rather daunting task.  I decided that in honor of last year's post, I would do two things today (or this week, maybe I should say).

1. Set aside $5 extra to put into the collection at church on Sunday.  That is the place where I go for my soul refresh and the place where I make sure to turn off all the noise in my life and focus.  It's the place where my heart sings loudly... and sometimes I do too (like a few weeks ago when the guy behind me sang with a voice so robust that I figured no one would notice my own joyful-yet-out of tune sound).  It's the place that reminds me how imperfect I am but inspires me to continue to strive to be better.

2.  Consciously find one way each day this week to let His light shine through me.  This is something that should be a focus each and every day, but some days I am better at this than others.  It never hurts to make sure I'm looking for these little reminders.

It's about to get really cheesy up in here.  If you'd rather not, scroll to the next section.

There's no internet link to post today.  The only link I can offer is from my heart to yours.  I hope that through my thoughts and words and actions... well, I hope that you'll see it and feel it too.

******

I mentioned before that we had some Ferri family photos taken this past December, didn't I?

Tom and his siblings and I gave the session as a gift to his mom for her birthday.  We scoured the internet to find a photographer who we thought could produce some family images to last a lifetime.  That's how we found http://www.soulologie.com/site/#/home/.

We noticed that the photographer, Erin, did not usually do family pictures.  However, we loved the images that we saw on her website so much that we decided to ask her anyway.  She agreed to take us on, and a few month long planning session began.

I wrote back in December about the fun we had at our session.  Today we got the results in the mail.  We couldn't be more pleased.  Tom and I went a bit overboard when we were ordering, but we were happy that we did today as we looked through our package of gorgeous images after gorgeous image.  We have family pictures and pictures of him with his siblings and pictures with fake mustaches and all kinds of others that we'll frame and hang on the walls and treasure forever.

We also finally got our "engagement" pictures.  Tom shared with the photographer about our botched engagement pictures the first time around, and her photographer self decided that it just wasn't acceptable for us not to have those heirlooms.  The thought of our awkwardly posed basement studio unordered images struck a chord, and she took great care to make sure that we got some beautiful pictures of just the two of us on top of everything else she captured.

Anyone who knows me (or has simply seen any selection of photos of me) knows that I am not photogenic.  I somehow always end up with chins I don't have or closed eyes or one dead eye or a pained expression or something else that isn't good.  Erin is magical enough to have somehow captured not just one but multiple images of me that I actually like.  It's a photo miracle! 

To top it all off, Tom called his mom tonight to see what she thought of the pictures, and he said that she was thrilled.  Happiness all around!

Thank you, Soulologie, you made my day. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 61- SC4K and Mom Call

** There's a new post from "yesterday" under this one too :) **

Since I wrote about shoes last year, it was time to find another charity that donates shoes to other people. 

search + charitynavigator.com + shoes = JACKPOT! (SC4K)

Shoes and Clothes for Kids (SC4K) popped up today.  They seem awesome.  Not only do they provide shoes and clothes for kids, but they also donate Payless gift cards to kids in order to let them choose their own shoes. 

Their mission blurb from charitynavigator.com

Founded in 1969, Shoes and Clothes for Kids is devoted to fulfilling the needs of the Greater Cleveland area's most deserving children - those without shoes or clothing. Shoes and Clothes for Kids provides the unique service of distributing brand-new quality clothing such as shirts, underwear, socks, pants, mittens and infant layette items to thousands of families. We also provide Payless shoe gift cards for children to choose their own new shoes. Utilizing a community-wide distribution network, Shoes and Clothes for Kids reaches into every neighborhood where need exists. The distribution network encompasses more than 40 strategically located partner sites.


Math problem

On the website it says that they can take a $40 donation and transform it into $1000 worth of brand new clothing and shoes for kids.  That means my $5 will be turned into $125 worth of the good stuff.  I like that. 

https://www.sc4k.org/Default.aspx

*******

It somehow came up in a discussion in one of my classes last week.  We were talking about a guy in a story we read who went to jail.  I made a joke about my own experience in jail.  One of my students, one who was clearly only half listening, looked at me with big eyes.

"What did you go to jail for, Mrs. Ferri?"

I explained that it was a joke.  I asked if I looked like I had been to jail.  The kids told me that I'm sassy and they wouldn't put it past me.  Interesting.  I explained further.  I have not been to jail.  In fact, I rarely ever even got in trouble, I told them.  I was never grounded when I was younger.  I also never got a single detention of any kind.

I was surprised at the surprise my students showed.  Some of them flat out didn't believe me.  I told them to call my mom and ask her.  They got all excited and asked if we could.

Today we did.

After discussing the whole thing with my mom, we decided that it would be funny.  She'd answer at school and put me on speaker phone while my kids had her on speaker phone.  I told the kids the next day that we would make the phone call happen, and they were really excited.  I asked them to write a few questions that they'd like to ask her.  Here are some of the things they came up with:

1. Was Mrs. Ferri really that good when she was little?  Did she ever get in trouble?
2. Do you like Justin Bieber?
3. Is it cold in Michigan?  What's your weather like?

Our schedule has been packed the past few days, and we haven't had time to call.  The kids would come in and ask me about it at least two or five times, and I'd tell them that we had too much work to do.  We finally had a few minutes at the end of class to call today, and the kids were so delighted.  They picked a spokesperson to call and all leaned in close to the phone.

My mom informed them that yes, I was an "almost perfect child" and no, she does not like Justin Bieber at all.  She also told them that it does get cold in Michigan, but they're wimps down here in MO and aren't tough against the cold weather.  They loved it.  After some other conversation back and forth, they hung up with satisfaction. 

Thanks, Mom, for being such a good sport, taking our call, and entertaining my kids (and for having my back on what a model child I was most of the time).... and...

Thank you, Mom Call, you made my day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 60- Operation Smile and RENT on GLEE

My body used to work in a way that really ticked other people off.  I used to be able to eat anything and everything I wanted (which was A LOT of stuff... cheesy, gooey, steaky, buttery, saucy, baaaaaaaaad stuff), and I spent a good six years or so operating on just a few hours of sleep a night.

These days all the butter and sauces go straight to my food baby, and I have learned that sleep actually has become a crucial part of my ability to function.  Last year I was great about throwing something together for the blog every single night.  This year I have a whole lot going on.  Some nights I stay up late to get things done.  There are other nights when I fall asleep on the couch way earlier than intended as a result.  Sometimes the blog just doesn't come together.  I'm learning not to beat myself up about that.  That's not the point of this whole thing.  I will always catch up.  That being said... here's what I would have written last night had I not fallen into an early slumber.

******

Dr. Finkenbinder made my smile a little brighter on this day last year.  Of course.  He's a dentist.

It makes perfect sense to me to donate to Operation Smile today.  A logical connection!  Here's why. 

Operation Smile is a charity organization healing children's smiles, making the world a better place.

As a children’s charity, we measure ourselves by the joy we see on all of the faces we help. At Operation Smile, we're more than a charity organization. More than an NGO. We're a mobilized force of medical professionals and caring hearts who provide safe, effective reconstructive surgery for children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate.

More than 200,000 children are born with a severe cleft condition each year — often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile. In some places these children are shunned and rejected. And in too many cases, their parents can't afford to give them the surgeries they need to live a normal life.

That's where we come in as an international charity providing much needed surgical services. Since 1982, Operation Smile — through the help of dedicated medical volunteers — has provided free surgeries to children around the world. As one of the most prominent children’s charities in the world and with a presence in over 50 countries, we are able to heal children’s smiles and bring hope for a better future.

Making this donation today really made me smile.  Too cheesy?  Sorry.

http://www.operationsmile.org/

******

The title of this post is RENT on GLEE... need I really say more?

Rachel and Amber sang a duet of "Take Me or Leave Me" tonight.  I was so pleased that I almost cried.  Happiness overload.  Truly.

If they would have just added in one more four-letter-all-capitalized-extravaganza, ABBA, I may have exploded. 

I'm sighing with happiness just thinking about the song... and then rewinding and watching it again... over and over and over...

Thank you, RENT on GLEE, you made my day.




  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Oops!

I fell asleep on the couch tonight before I took care of this.  Oops!

It's bedtime now.  I'll be back tomorrow :).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 59- Hands On Network and "Blind Date"

DISCLAIMER: All of the projects have been graded at last!  Hallelujah!  As a result, I cannot possibly bring  myself to edit or proofread anything else.  I just can't.  Please excuse the mistakes I am sure I will make. : )

I spent a romantic day hanging out with my Depot Family last year on February 14.  Oh... is that a holiday? 

It was easy to find a good place to donate to.  One of the things I adored about the Depot was the people.  They were so giving and loving and willing.  The company really ends up employing people with big hearts one way or another.  They are also deeply involved in a number of charitable organizations.  I had the privilege of volunteering with Team Depot when I worked there, and it was such a nice experience.

The charity I've decided to support today is another way that HD gets involved in the community.  The name of the organization is the Hands On Network.  Here's a description of the valuable work they do:

HandsOn Network inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world. Our network, now the largest in the nation, is leading people from impulse to action, turning their ideas for change into impactful projects, like wheelchair ramp construction, watershed protection projects and tutoring programs.

The most powerful projects are those that inspire and activate volunteers to be leaders and problem solvers on their own - creating new opportunities to bring others into service. HandsOn Network has helped millions of individuals, thousands of companies and hundreds of Action Centers solve some of the most pressing problems of our generation through volunteering.

The idea of mobilizing people to take action to improve their communities is a powerful and important one.  I'm pleased to support this cause today.

http://www.handsonnetwork.org/

******
I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day.  I'm not cynical about it or disgusted by it or anything.  It's just not something I get overly excited about.  I sure did have a great day this year, though!  I had fun giving my Ac Lab some Mad Libs valentines, and I got a lot of cute little things from my kids.

We also had a fun little exchange at school.  There was a "Blind Date" thing going on, which is basically like a Secret Santa kind of deal for this Hallmark holiday.  We gave gifts for a few days last week, and today we revealed ourselves to each other while giving our final gifts.

I had fun leaving little surprises for my blind date over the past few days, and I had to get reallllllly creative to stay within the spending limit.  I was also excited to find out who had been getting me such cute gifts over the past few days.  I received a chalkboard coffee mug (one that I can write on with actual chalk), and a big ol' delicious cupcake. 

I was showered with even more gifts today, and I couldn't believe my blind date had stayed within the spending limit.  It turns out that she is not just a hilarious woman with the cutest son ever; she's also quite crafty.  She made me a cookie boquet, a darling little candy-paper-I-don't-know-how-to-explain-it thing, and something that looked like a little box.  Again, I have no idea to explain how cool this was either, but know that it was.  The inside of the box was lined with pictures of me with my school friends doing fun things throughout the year.  Upon further examination (and with prompting), I realized that the box could fold out into a collage of all of these pictures.

When I say that I was showered with treasures, I mean it.  I will most certainly treasure these gifts and the time my friend put into making them for a long time.  I was once again reminded that I am a lucky girl.

Thank you, blind date, you made my day.

Day 58- Active Giving (Gilda's Club) and Lunch Lady Corn

The wife of one of Tom's good friends posted a link today asking for donations.  She will be running a 25k and is trying to raise money for Gilda's Club, an organization that "lends a helping hand to local families dealing with cancer."  She said that even $5 would help.  That's when the little bells in my head rang.

Hey, I'm giving $5 today.  Why not use this opportunity to make a donation to someone I know?

This was a no brainer, and I hope NN reaches her fundraising goal!  Here's where you can go to add to the pot.  This is a place where you know your $5 will count and make a little impact.

http://www.active.com/donate/gildasclubgr2011/nniemi

******
When I was in elementary school, I had a strange obsession with school lunch corn.  I was not a fan of mystery meat pizza, I had to pinch my nose sometimes to eat entrees named for their colors (rather than their ingredients), and I smothered fish sticks in a ridiculous amount of sauce to make them bearable. 

Man oh man, though, I sure did love my lunch lady corn.  Come to think of it, I loved the turkey biscuit gravy stuff too... but OH the corn.  It was always floating around in some kind of liquid and had been peppered heavy-handedly.  I know it's weird.  I can't explain it.  There was just something about it.

I made stuffed peppers for dinner tonight, and I can never figure out what goes well with them as a side dish.  I decided to make corn because we hadn't had it in a while, and it introduced a brand new color to the dinner palatte (another weird thing that is important to me).  I drained it most of the way but left a bit of liquid on board.  I added just a touch of butter and went to town with the salt and pepper.  As it heated on the stove, an old familiar smell wafted at me in the living room.  Could it be?  Was it possible?

Purely by accident, I had created lunch lady corn.

I mentioned this to Tom, and (surpisingly!) he knew exactly what I meant.  He was even excited too.  I think this really proves once and for all that we are meant to be.  We savored our corn and packed a bit away to continue the joy tomorrow at lunch.  It's the special little kernels that make life grand, isn't it?

Thank you, lunch lady corn, you made my day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day 57- Teach for America (STL Region) and Heather

I get to donate to education today-- yahoo!

In honor of my entry about my classmates last year, I thought it was only fitting that I donate to something we all have in common... and by this I do not mean liquid refreshments or our suspicion that one of our professors also enjoyed liquid refreshments... before class (him, not us). 

Instead, I thought the most important thing we all have in common is our belief in education and public school systems.  One organization that really fits in with all of this is Teach for America.  Here's some information about them:

Since its inception in 1990, Teach For America has worked to close the education achievement gap by placing a corps of our most talented future leaders in under-served communities, providing students with excellent teachers and creating an alumni force of influential advocates working for systematic change from every sector. Your donation will help us continue to recruit, train, and provide ongoing support to our corps members and to foster long-term change through our alumni network.

http://www.teachforamerica.org/

When you donate (which you will, of course), the site even lets you pick a specific region you'd like to support if that interests you.  I decide to keep my money somewhat local.  There are definitely a whole lot of schools are this area who could use it! 

This program does amazing work.  It turns teachers into leaders and advocates for their community and for education.  It sends people with good intentions into schools with bad problems.  It pushes to end educational inequality.  It's just plain nice.

******

When I was little (up until just a few years ago), my mom took me in for regular haircuts.  On schedule.  Without fail.  I really don't know how she did it, but the older I get, the more I appreciate it.   

We didn't have a whole lot of money in the early years, but Mom would always make sure that only people who knew what they were doing were allowed anywhere near our hair.  Cheap haircuts that looked like cheap haircuts were just not good enough for her girls. 

I'm also not sure how she made the time.  I find myself so busy these days that I don't even make time to call to make an appointment for a haircut, let alone make it to one.  By the time I remember to call, it's 9 o'clock, and I put it off one more day.  One day turns into two... two into three... three into three weeks.  Luckily, I don't use a lot of product or heat on it, so it takes a while for my hair to become a complete and total disaster.  When I start to get split ends, tangles, and crazy flyaway layers, I finally know it's time to make the time. 

I paid a visit to my girl Heather today.  She's a lifesaver (okay, maybe just a hairsaver, but still).  She is always able to squeeze me in ASAP.  This often means that she finds time the next day.  She's pleasant, does a nice job, and doesn't charge too much.  She works at a salon five minutes from my house.  I tip accordingly.  I took a huge step forward with Heather this fall when I let her to highlight my hair.  It took me two years of seeing her to build the kind of trust I needed for such a bold move, and she did not disappoint.  It was the beginning of a beautiful hairship.  Friendhair?  Hmm... that one still needs work.  I wrote a paper in college that was mildly amusing about how hairdresser-client relationships resemble dating relationships in just about every way.  In that case, I have to say that Heather is a keeper, and we are currently exclusive.

I always leave Heather with a bounce in my step and some bouncier hair.  Ahh...

Thank you, Heather, you made my day.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day 56- Save the Music Foundation and Valentine's Sweets

I wrote about one of my students coming out of her shell last year.  It's fitting that I just got an e-mail from her the other day.  I'm thrilled that she keeps in touch with me and still remembers me every now and then even though I'm not still at her school.  She reminds me a lot of myself at her age, and she's special to me :).

This particular student is really involved in instrumental music, so I thought I'd donate to a place that supports programs like the one she loves so much.  My donation was made to the Save the Music Foundation.  Their primary goal is to "restore instrumental music programs" to give all students access to music instruction.  They believe in getting instruments into the hands of our students. 

Music has been proven in study after study to impact students in a number of positive ways.  I've seen the research, and I have also seen numerous real life examples of this, including the student I mentioned last year. 

Another donation, another great cause!

http://www.vh1savethemusic.com/

******

I love getting packages in the mail...

... especially when those packages are full of cookies and other sweets!  My parents are still my valentines.

Thank you, Valentine's sweets (and mom and dad!), you made my day.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

See you in the morning!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 55- StuCo Fundraiser and Deceptions Story

I am still a bit drowsy, as I am freshly awake from an amazing couch nap.  I'm not actually really "up" this late.  So... allow me to somewhat be brief this evening, if you would please :).

I donated to a fundraiser at school today for Student Council.  This had been postponed a bit because of all of the recent snow days, and they were worried that this might lead to not making very much money.  What better place is there to drop a few dollars than my very own school?  The money will go to people who need it, and there are a whole lot of people who need it in our neck of the woods.

While there's no link to post to hopefully inspire someone else to donate to this same cause today, I can certainly post an idea.  When I donated, I got to send a little "heart gram" for each $0.50 increment I spent.  This means that I sent out ten notes that people in the building will receive on Monday, ten notes that will hopefully make ten people's days just a little bit brighter.  Surely that's something everyone could do, fundraiser or not.  Don't you think?  :)

******
 We have some fabulous books we get to use in the eighth grade at my school.  The series is called Deceptions, and they're full of all kinds of stories that remind me of the Friday night Dateline episodes I love so dearly.  In fact, I swear I may have seen one or two of the stories from the book on an episode once.

Each story contains some sort of deception (makes sense, eh?), and the kids love them.  People rat poison each other and cheat in marathons and run Ponzi schemes (the original is in there).  There's Milli Vanilli and the Trojan horse and all kinds of other goodies.  We love the stories because not only are they great non-fiction pieces written at a perfect length for a one class lesson, but they also have excellent questions already written for them that hit on a number of our curriculum standards.  It's a twofer!  I love twofers.

I told the kids we were going to read a really romantic story today to give them my take on Valentine's Day.  What we read was "Giovanni Vigliotto: King of Romance (and Deception)," a story about a "world champion bigamist" who was married to 105 women at the same time from 26 states and 14 countries.  He even married four women on the same cruise ship.  Shortly after marrying the women, he'd take off with thousands of dollars worth of their stuff and vanish without a trace.  The kids were really diggin' it all day long, and the boys loved that this was the Valentine's story I chose.  Beyond that, the questions really got them thinking, and we had some great discussions.  Another twofer, perhaps?

Thank you, Deceptions story, you made my day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 54- Wildlife Conservation Network and Course Map

On this day last year, I had a snow day.  Thank goodness we didn't today!  It has been nice to have some time at school to teach.  Snow days are wonderful in moderation, but it's about time we have enough days in a row to really get down to business again.

When I typed in "snow" to charity navigator, nothing came up that really linked in with the idea of a snow day.  So, I picked one from the results that did come up, the Wildlife Conservation Network.  Here's what they do:

Wildlife Conservation Network is dedicated to protecting endangered species and preserving their natural habitats. We support innovative strategies for people and wildlife to co-exist and thrive.

WCN fosters the entrepreneurial spirit in the field of conservation. We partner with independent, community-based conservationists around the world and provide them with the capital and tools they need to develop solutions for human-wildlife coexistence. To magnify the effectiveness of their work, we sustain a strong network of wildlife supporters through which these courageous conservationists may learn from each other and communicate directly with passionate donors.

100% of any donation can be designated to the conservation of a specific species, guaranteeing that each donor dollar has the greatest possible impact.

http://wildlifeconservationnetwork.org/

******

Yeah... so this is going to bore you today.  Sorry about that.  It will also contain all kinds of different teacher acronyms.  Excited yet?

We had an extremely productive PLC time today.  PLC stands for Professional Learning Community, and I collaborated with my counterpart for the afternoon after our students left.  We were able to map out all of our remaining curriculum in a way where we have time designated to hit all of our standards before the MAP test.  We even worked in a review period and some extra flex days.

Sure, I still have tons of planning to do to make sure that each and everyone one of these days is a valuable teaching and learning day.  I'm pleased, though.  Simply by talking about everything and putting it all out there, I have been able to kick start my mind into the churning stages it goes through when it produces all kinds of creative ideas.  I've got a long way to go, but I know that I'll get there.  I'm happy to be a few more steps closer to "there". 

Thank you, course map, you made my day. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 53- Ozarks Food Harvest and Random Coworker Acts of Kindness

Last year I wrote about a wonderful dinner we had, one of my home-cooked favorites.  I think I wrote about food just about as much as anything else throughout the course of the year.  I am becoming increasingly aware of how lucky I am to have food in surplus and to have never truly felt what it is to be hungry with no food fix.  This becomes even more clear on these "food days" when I search for food related charities to donate to.  At times, I find so many of them that I can't even comprehend where to start. 

Since the St. Louis Foodbank has already made my donation list for the year, I found another special place to send my donation to today.  The Ozarks Food Harvest Food Bank is an amazing organization, and I was thrilled to find them.  They distribute food and goods to over 300 agencies around Missouri.  Beyond that, they have a number of programs through which they can provide direct relief to people in need.  There's a mobile pantry and a kid cafe and all kinds of resources.

There's also a program that really grabbed my attention, the Weekend Backpack Program.

The food bank’s fastest growing program, The Weekend Backpack Program™, provides severely at-risk children with a backpack filled with nutritious child-friendly foods for them to take home on the weekends, when they might otherwise go hungry.


The program is designed to allow students to get the assistance without drawing any attention to themselves by using backpacks, which look like any other student’s backpack.

Nearly 1,000 children in 30 elementary schools receive healthy food over the weekends through this innovative, life-saving program.

It has been my dream to start a program like this at my own school.  I hope to take the initiative to turn this dream into a reality within the next year.  For now, I am excited have the opportunity to throw a few dollars at this program.  You?  (This is another one of the $10 minimum places, but honestly, isn't it worth it?)

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

******

Even though my commute home from work is really short, I still get a good few minutes to myself to really reflect on my day.  Sometimes there are a million things running through my head, and I can't even keep up with myself.  Other days, I sing at the top of my lungs to whichever song seems to reflect my emotions at the time.  There are also days where I have a peaceful, thoughtful ride.

Today was one of those days.

I must admit that I even got a bit choked up on my way home.  I've hit a few roadblocks in my life lately.  However, I trust in myself and in my faith, and I choose to believe that these things are simply detours.  I will always find my way back to the right path, and I know that everything will be okay.  That's probably enough cliches for now.

One of the things that really got me going today and one of the things that keeps me going many other days is my incredible support system.  When I think about my life and the people in it, I often just feel completely and totally overwhelmed with gratitude.  I've heard it said many times that people can be judged by the company they keep.  I really hope this is true because I somehow manage to find myself surrounded by the most amazing people in every aspect of my life.  If you consider the people around me, I come off looking pretty darn good.

I had multiple coworkers make my day today, each in the most meaningful way.

My day started in the copy room watching the machine chug away on some stories for my kids.  I was approached by another teacher,  one who I don't know that well yet.  She took the time to stop and pay me a compliment out of the goodness of her heart, and it meant the world to me.  I want her to know that.

Later, I received a little gift from another coworker.  She had noticed that yesterday was a long day for me, and she brought me a package with cute little papers, pencils, and some "emergency chocolate."  Again, this was completely unexpected, and it touched me to know that she would think of me and go out of her way to do that.  I hope she knows that too.

I got sage career advice from another coworker this afternoon.  She has taken it upon herself to be my unofficial mentor, and I can't tell you how thankful I am for that.  She is willing to drop everything (and has many a time) to talk to me about students or life or anything else that may come up.  I hope she understands what a big deal this is to me and how much I appreciate her each and every day. 

I ended the day with what seems to have become a daily chat with a new friend I made this year.  She welcomed me with open arms at the beginning of the year, and she's been a great friend ever since.  Even though I've only known her for half a year or so, it's hard to remember not knowing her.  I admire her as a teacher, a person, and a friend.  I aspire to be as good at all three of these things as she is!  I want her to know how important her friendship is to me.

I think a little link copy and paste action is in order to deliver this message to four lovely ladies who really made me feel significant today.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all four of you.

Thank you, random coworker acts of kindness, you made my day. 

Day 52- Action for Healthy Kids and Positive Parents

Are you ready to play fast and loose trying to make connections to last year's gratitude?

During the Super Bowl last year, I looooooved a romantic Google commercial.  I like the slapstick comedy junk commercials as much as the next guy (unless the next guy is Tom... he REALLY loves those and sometimes laughs so hard he cries), but this Google commercial was warm and fuzzy and special, and I had to write about it.

I found all kinds of charity work that Google does, but I couldn't figure out how to donate to any of it.  Instead, I donated to a charity today that has kind of a connection to the Super Bowl.  It's called Action for Healthy Kids.

http://www.actionforhealthykids.org/

The NFL just so happens to be one of the main sponsors of many of their big programs.  The basic goal of the organization is to fight the national epidemics of childhood obesity and undernourishment.  As the site points out, these things are not cosmetic issues.  They are health, academic, and economic issues that can affect every aspect of a child's well-being.  The work they do is crucial to our nation's kids.  That's a cause close to my heart.



******

My students had a big project due today.  I kept having to push the due date back because of all the snow days, and today we finally reached the big day.  I collected all kinds of beautifully done little masterpieces all day long, and I'll spend the next few days grading (and hopefully enjoying) all of these. 

Unfortunately, it seems as if with every assignment comes a group of kids with a missing assignment.  This concept is completely foreign to me, as I can't imagine ever not turning something in, especially without a good reason.  Sure, I procrastinated with the best of them and stayed up into the middle of the night many times before a project was due.  However, I always ended up producing something suitable, and I always handed something in.  Kids these days, eh?

I decided to contact the parents of all of the kids who had not turned in their work today.  This project is worth enough points that it is imperative that students get me something to grade.  If they didn't care enough to turn it in on time, I thought I'd need to go directly to the source to get things accomplished.  Parents.  Parents these days can be a little scary.  Just as kids aren't built just the way they used to be, parents are not either.  I think the one follows from the other, right?  This idea, coupled with my distaste for awkward phone conversations (or phone conversations in general), had me a little nervous about the task I set out for myself this afternoon. 

I have to say... I was pleasantly surprised.  I had a lot of conversations with parents who were warm and friendly.  Many of them thanked me for taking the time to let them know the kinds of things they couldn't get out of their kids at home.  They thanked me for informing them about the project and promised me tonight would be business time at home.  They chatted with me and listened to me and agreed with me.  They were, it seemed, actually on my side.  I had not expected this.  One dad even said at the end of our conversation, "Thanks so much for doing what you do."  I certainly had not expected that.

I'll see tomorrow whether or not my work paid off in... well... more work from the kids for me to grade.  I'll be glad to have it!  In any case, I had a lovely afternoon with lots of great conversations with parents.  I suppose it makes sense because we have one very important thing in common-- our desire to see these kids succeed and realize their potential.  What could be more important than that?

Thank you, positive parents, you made my day. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 51- West Michigan Cancer Center and Six-year-old's Dream Dinner

While I was away, I also missed my Aunt Peach's donation.  Her choice for the day is the West Michigan Cancer Center. 

http://www.wmcc.org/

Their tagline is quite simple, and I love it.  Together, we win.

I love winning.  I also love doing things together and being a part of something bigger than myself.  Therefore, of course I'm excited at the idea of winning together!  Who wouldn't love to kick cancer's butt?  I know the West Michigan Cancer Center would like that.  Me too.

I often like to share the mission of the charities I select on here.  This one should be pretty self-explanatory, though.  Instead, I'd like to share the WMCC plans for the future (as they're stated on the website).

We have great plans for the immediate future. Before another 16 years pass by, we will add several more tumor-specific clinics so patients can experience even more seamless, integrated treatment. We will deploy even more sophisticated technologies for detection and treatment of cancer. We will continue to handpick the best and the brightest doctors and staff. We will ensure our community, neighbors, and families have every tool possible to win their personal challenges with cancer. We will fight for our patients when they are weak, and fight with them when they are strong. Because, together, we win.

Sounds good to me!  Is this good enough for your $5 today?  Pretty please.

******
Bad poetry time!  It's been a while...

I've been losing weight
and getting thinner
because I haven't been hungry
for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

I'll be fine soon,
I'm sure of that.
I'll pack back on
that five pounds of fat!

What to eat? 
I thought tonight.
Then, an idea...
a child's delight!

With marshmallow fluff
and cheese of cream,
add strawberries and bananas--
a six-year-old's dream!

It may not be the healthiest thing
that I've ever had,
but I got two or three food groups,
so that's not too bad!  (right?)

Even when I'm back to
where it's everything I eat,
I still think I'll enjoy
this dream dinner treat.

I'm filled with fluff and joy
enough to rejoice in the new "Glee,"
then in my marshmallowy dreams
I'll sleep oh so happily.

Thank you, six-year-old's dream dinner, you made my day.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 43-50- ConnectUS and My Husband

I'm baaaaaaaack!

After a brief sickly hiatus, I am happy to be back to blogging and donating.  This project is as important to me as it has ever been, and I hope that people are still reading after a few days away.  Now to the good stuff... rather than throwing some things together to make up for the days I was "out", I have decided to donate a lump sum to one place to make it count more.

I wrote about Carolyn Whalen at the end of January last year because she is near and dear to my heart.  Today I am honored to donate $40 to a charity that is near and dear to her heart, ConnectUS.  Here's why the organization is so important to Carolyn (in her own words):

This is actually a charity my mom started with two of her friends for people like my brother.  When you are disabled like him and reach the age of 26 in Michigan you can no longer go to school, which leaves you with the options of group homes or sitting at your house all day (not spectacular options).  So, what they are doing is trying to create a day program where the disabled peeps (like my bro) work with people in the community to build things (they created this awesome assembly line type thing to make dog biscuits that they send to PAWS for a Cause and made cookies with ginger in them for cancer patients since chemo makes you nauseaus and ginger makes you not nauseaus).  It's still a work in progress, but they've already had a slight brush with fame, as they make these puppets and sent one to Dianne Sawyer and she held it up on the show during her last day on Good Morning America.

If you go to the website, you can see the famous puppets and find a lot more great information.

http://connectus-livonia.org/

ConnectUS is based on the belief that everyone has something to offer, and that the needs of one can be an opportunity for another.  Our goal is to make the connection happen.

Thanks, Carolyn, for giving me the opportunity to give to such a wonderful organization.  I hope my donation will be matched by others too!!

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I thought about a million different things I could be thankful for over the past few days- soft tissues, jello, a 98.6 temp (I missed that for a few days), my couch, my sweater blanket, sweatsuits, Dr. S., prescription medication, etc.

However, if I'm being totally honest with myself and with you, all of these things can really be traced back to one person.  I'd like to let him know once again how thankful and grateful I am to have him in my life every day, but I'd especially like to let him know how much I have appreciated him over the last seven days.

Tom, you are my hero, my nurse, my favorite, my Shipoopi, and my always and forever.  I love you.

In the movies and in books, we are led to believe that love is something that happens in softly lit rooms with crackling fires or on beaches at sunset or in exotic countries in faraway places.  It's ball gowns and tuxedos.  It's dreamy and lovely and abstract.  That's not real life.  In real life, my husband showed me how much he loved me while I was clammy and shivering on the couch in a sweatsuit with wild hair and no makeup, snotting and coughing and heaving at the same time.

I am thankful to my husband for surrendering the couch and the television for a week.
I am thankful to my husband for calling into work for me when I was insisting that I could go with a 104 temperature.
I am thankful to my husband for making me go to the doctor and for faithfully making sure I took my meds at the right time so I could recover.
I am thankful to my husband for going out in the snow to get me a chocolate milkshake, and I am even more thankful to him for holding my hair back as we both realized what a bad idea the milkshake had been.
I am thankful to my husband for looking at me the same and loving me the same even after seeing me at my worst, a gross, sick mess.
I am thankful to my husband for getting me grapes and jello and graham crackers because they were the only thing I could even think of eating for days.
I am thankful to my husband for forcing me to drink glass after glass of water.
I am thankful to my husband for helping me up and down the stairs, on and off the couch, in and out of the car.
I am thankful to my husband for never once complaining or making me feel as if I was a burden.
I am thankful to my husband for completely taking care of everything around the house for a week by himself.

I could go on and on, but I'll end with this one.  I am thankful to my husband for simply shrugging his shoulders and saying, "You would have done the same for me," after I tried to thank him for the trillion things he did for me. 

I am grateful to have married the most wonderful man I have ever met.  He has been incredible to me over the past week and over the past five years.  It is not just a figure of speech when I say I really don't know what I would have done without him this week. 

No, there was no softly lit room with a crackling fire in this house this week... just a whole lot of snot and a whole lot of love. 

Thank you, my husband, you made my day (week!).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ohhhh Dear

For the first time since I started this blog more than a year and a half ago, I ran into some unforseen circumstances.  I am guilty of neglect.  Please take the following as an attempt at an explanation and NOT as an excuse or rant.

On Friday night/Saturday morning, I felt exhausted and achy.  I thought this was just that end-of-the-week-fall-asleep-on-the-couch feeling I get every now and then, topped off with a little extra helping of stress.  It turns out that at that point my body was already in a big fight with a nasty little bug (of the illness kind, not the insect kind). 

By Sunday, I was out of it in every way possible.  I couldn't eat or sleep, I was simultaneously sweating and shaking, I had a runny nose, I was hacking up a lung every two minutes, and I was in a bad place.  I tried my trusty chocolate milkshake fix, but that idea quickly went down the drain... literally... and into a trash can or two along the way.  Yet, I was still trying to convince Tom that I would NOT take a sick day on Monday.  I was upset with him for even suggesting such an idea because I do not take sick days.  I think I got this from my parents. 

After I fell over and shouted "Dad!" into the kitchen, Tom realized he had a better case than I did.  At that point, he took my temperature, and I was at a cool 104 degrees.  Yikes.  He made the call, wrote down some lesson plans that I tried to dictate, and put me to bed with multiple glasses of water.

When things did not improve all day Monday, I went into the doctor in the afternoon.  The nurse took my temperature, gave me a look, and said, "I bet you feel like you got hit by a truck!"  Those had been my exact words for the past two days, and I felt strangely pleased and validated.  The only hypochondriac part of me is the part where I believe I'm a hypochondriac when I'm not.  Does that make sense?  I always think I'm not really sick, and I need evidence to prove actual illness before I think am allowed to feel it.  Therefore, I was happy to have the doctor and nurse tell me that I was, in fact, nasty sick (not their exact words).  I was also glad to have Tom hear this (as if he didn't believe me... he was the one who had to convince me I was ill in the first place).  I know it's weird.  I can't help it.  This visit was also productive because I got a good prescription, and Tom, my wonderful caretaker, got a preventative prescription in case he caught my death.

With the help of LOTS of sleep, tons of water, a couple of snow days, and two pills per day, I am slowly on the road to recovery.  I have reintroduced grapes, toast, and mini bowls of soup back into my diet.  Next stop... all other foods.  There's still some hacking, some Rudolph nose, and no appetite, but I'm back to my regular life and so thankful for that!!  There are a bunch of other things I'm thankful for that I'd like to catch you up on this weekend.  Short story long, I will not let this poor old blog be neglected anymore.

Back at it tomorrow... :)