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Showing posts from April, 2011

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…

Day 126- Locks of Love and Rainy Day Off

I've always thought that I would donate hair to Locks of Love at some point.  However, I can't get myself to grow it long enough in the humid STL summers, and I have jumped back on the highlighting train.  That's another no-no.  I've always thought that I would run a marathon at some point in my life too, so maybe I'll focus on that one instead.  Then again, maybe growing my hair out extra long doesn't seem that bad after all...

I can still make a contribution to Locks for Loves in a different way, and that's what I did today.  I had written about the wonder of a good bobby-pinned updo last year, so today seemed like a good day to donate to this hair charity that I've been meaning to contribute to for a long time.

http://www.locksoflove.org/

WHAT IS LOCKS OF LOVE?

Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair…

Day 125- A (Hopefully) Meaningful Letter and Miss Helper

I wrote about a sweet girl last year who said some sweet things that really touched my heart.  She was a student of mine in my student teaching and one of my favorite kids (hypothetically, I mean... of course I don't have favorites... ahem).  She was funny and kind and personable and all kinds of wonderful.  Furthermore, she actually asked for help when she needed it.  She worked her tail off and would come to see me in Ac Lab or on her own time to make sure that she understood what she was learning.  She actually cared enough to seek me out and to let me teach her.  I learned so much and gained so much from having her in my classroom.  

I hope this doesn't come off the wrong way, and I hope it has become very clear that I am not full of myself.  That being said, my donation is a bit different today.  I've kept in touch with this student on and off throughout the year.  My donation today is a simple letter, but I hope that this gesture is meaningful.  I want this student …

Day 124- Education Through Music and BBQ Chicken Pizza

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Today marks the one year anniversary of the epic GLEE Madonna episode.  This has inspired me to get out the soundtrack I bought again and play it tomorrow.  I'm sure that it will be on repeat for the next few days... or weeks.  It's only right that I honor this important anniversary by making a donation to a charity that the Glee cast supports. 

http://www.etmonline.org/

Here's what they're all about:

At ETM, we believe that every child deserves a well-rounded education: one that includes music. Unfortunately, many schools, especially those serving children in low-income communities, provide no music instruction or rely solely on short-term programs that do not serve every student. ETM created a comprehensive program that incorporates music into the education of every child, including those with special needs.

ETM forms long-term partnerships with inner-city elementary and middle schools that lack the resources to develop school-wide music programs. We ensure high-qualit…

Day 123- Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis and Tom's Guacamole

http://www.acceleratedcure.org/

I was delighted to soothe my aching muscles last year after a long weekend of hauling mulch and soil and fountains and trees and whatever else those HD customers asked me to.

My donation today was to an organization that helps people with MS, a disease that causes far worse aches and pains than I could ever imagine.

"Our mission is to cure Multiple Sclerosis


We will not be content with simply finding ways to slow the disease or treat symptoms. Curing means preventing the disability caused by MS, permanently stopping the progress of MS, and repairing the damage already caused in patients with MS.


As quickly as possible

Speed and effectiveness of finding a cure are much more important than other outcomes such as growth, wealth creation, and publicity (for the organization or any individuals involved with it).

By concentrating on finding the causes of MS

The logical route to a cure will come from determining the causes of MS."

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Neither one of …

Day 122- Water=Hope and THE Picture

Since I wrote about the ACMs last year, I thought this year I'd donate to a charity that one of my favorite country stars supports.  Braid Paisley won the ACM for best male vocalist, so I investigated where his own funds go.  It turns out that he's a major supporter of the Water=Hope campaign.  This means that I am now a minor supporter of this campaign.  Here's what they do:

A small drop can have a huge ripple. Clean water = healthier life. Healthier lives = productive communities.  Water = hope. It's as simple as that.

Access to clean water combats extreme poverty, global disease, economic instability, and political stability. In keeping with the mission of HTHH, clean water is a currency for peace around the world.

Your donation will go to building wells, providing water purification systems, and addressing sanitation issues both in the United States and around the world.

http://bradpaisley.musiccitynetworks.com/index.htm?id=18930
http://www.hopethroughhealinghands.org/…

Day 121- StoryCorps and Palm Sunday

I was growing up in a very important way around this time last year.  I had a large project due to complete as part of my teaching certification.  I had to create a monster portfolio to basically tell the story of what my beliefs about education are and what I had done so far in the classroom.  I was actually responsible and spent a great deal of time putting it together.  For once, I did not save something until the last minute, and I took the time to do it right.  I bragged about my own productivity.  I'm getting a whole lot better about that and about managing my time.

It meant a lot to me to be able to tell my story through that portfolio.  It means a lot to me to be able to use this blog as an outlet and to tell my story in a different kind of way, a way where maybe people I don't come into contact with every day can "listen" to my story.  This all lead me to the discovery of an awesome charity that is definitely deserving of my donation today.

I've always b…

Day 120- Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and Chick-fil-A

I wrote about a joyful boy jumping off the bus and bounding home.  His joy was infectious and made my day. 

I donated to a different type of transportation today.  The ITDP "works in cities around the world to bring about transportation solutions that are environmentally sustainable and socially equitable. ITDP primarily focuses on work in the following program areas: public transport, cycling & walking, traffic reduction, sustainable urban development, and climate & transport policy. ITDP is at the forefront of efforts to reduce carbon emissions, protect the environment, enhance social equity, and improve the quality of urban life."

In short, I think the ITDP wants everyone to enjoy riding the bus as much as little guy last year.  I want to help :).

http://www.itdp.org/

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I had my first ever Chick-fil-A sandwich today.  One just opened up down the road right next to my old Home Depot store, and we couldn't wait to drive it.  After driving by on meatless Frid…

Day 119- BMS Kids and Steph's Sectional

BMS Kids

Their t-shirts have been ordered :).

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My friend Stephanie just moved into her new house last weekend, and I got to see it for the first time.  I am so happy for her and for the steps she is taking to move forward in her life.  I have a feeling the next few years are going to be really exciting for her.

What was exciting for me (you know, beyond all that happily ever after for my friend stuff) was her brand new sectional.  She told us about it at lunch after she bought it, and I had been excited to try it out ever since.  After having spent a few hours lounging on it (finally!), I can see where the excitement came from.  I may just have to invite myself over there for a few more Friday night loungings.

Thank you, Steph's sectional, you made my day.

Day 118- BMS Kids and 2nd Hour

It's all about the kids again.  Yesterday's donation plus the breakfast donation I have made to the kids testing in my room all week were a whole lot more than my regular sum.  We've snacked on apples, granola bars, and juice boxes for the past three days.  It's amazing how much the attitude of a kid who needs to eat can change once he or she is given something to munch on! 

Are you involved in your local schools?  What might you be able to bring to the table (literally and figuratively)?

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I adore my second hour.

They are fun and cute and smart.  I know that I can always expect them to buy into whatever we're doing.  There's always someone raising a hand and someone sharing an insight and someone doing something goofy that I know I should be mad about but can't help but laughing at anyway.  I started a mental list, which we plan on turning into a real list, that I share with my second hour often.  I told them that it's called "Things I Never…

Day 117- BMS Kids and HT

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I'm hesistant to write about this.  Today's donation was personal, and I would have made it anonymously if I could have.  I don't ever want to give the impression that the only reason I make these donations is to talk about how I'm making donations.  One of the main ideas behind this project was to hopefully inspire others to donate and to give them ideas about all kinds of different organizations.  I'm not sure that I've been successful with that at all. 

The other main purpose behind my daily donations is similar to what started this whole blog in the first place.  Last year I was hoping that by looking for things to be thankful for each and every day, I would start to be more thankful in general.  I learned how to practice gratitude, and I now look for the little moments each day that make my life beautiful.  I hoped that by focusing on giving, I would become a more charitable person and that I would begin to look for giving opportunities on a daily basis a…

Day 116- Teammates for Kids and Boot Camp

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This day marks a very important anniversary.  I have now been totally, completely, head over heels in love with Trisha Yearwood for a year.  Over the past year, I have sampled numerous recipes from her cookbook and added every single thing I've tried into our rotation.  Trisha has impeccable taste.  Girlfriend knows what she's doing in the kitchen.  It's hard to believe that we've only known one another for a year.  Yet, at the same time, it seems as if our first chicken piccata together was just yesterday (this may be partly due to the fact that we did make this on Sunday).

Trisha doesn't have any charities listed on her website, but Garth has one of his own.  You know... Garth Brooks (her husband and the recipient of her cooking).  I made my donation today to Garth's charity to show my adoration for his talented wife.

http://www.teammatesforkids.com/

"The purpose of the foundation is to contribute financial resources to selected nonprofit organizations th…

Day 115- WaterAid America and Teacher's Husband

Last year I was singing the praises of iced tea and heralding it as thee supreme refreshing summer beverage.  Today I have also enjoyed my daily lunch Mountain Dew, copious amounts of water, and my first glass of Oberweiss lemonade of the season.  This is a blessing.

My donation today has been made to WaterAid America.  Having constant access to safe, fresh water is something that many of us, myself included, take for granted.  I have enjoyed liquid refreshment in just about every form today.  Other people go days, weeks, months, and even lifetimes without this privilege, but WaterAid is working to make access to this most basic of needs a reality for many people.  Here's what they have to say in the "What We Do" section of their website:

WaterAid enables the world's poorest people to gain access to safe water and sanitation. Together with improved hygiene, these basic human rights underpin health, education and livelihoods, forming the first essential step in overcom…

Day 114- Broadway Lullaby and Strawberry Cake

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I went to see some of my students in a school play last year.  I must admit that I went solely for the purpose of supporting my kids, and I did not expect to get a lot out of the experience myself.  This doesn't happen all that often, but... I was wrong.  It was thoroughly entertaining, and I loved it.  It meant a lot to my students that I was there, so it meant a lot to me too.

 The donation I'll be making in connection to last year's post is to this year's play.  I'm at a different school with different kids, but this whole formula works in the same way.  I'll buy a couple of tickets to "Broadway Lullaby" go show my kids that I care about them and the things they're involved in.  I'll chat with them about how much I enjoy it afterwards, and we'll all feel good and happy.

The funny thing is that I almost feel as if I'm cheating.  Even though this is a "donation" of my time and money, I always seem to get as much out of it al…

Day 113- Polish American Association and Spring Gel Clings

I met a wonderful Polish man last year who reminded me of my grandpa.  He made me feel as if my grandpa was speaking to me and sending me a message to make it to Poland someday.  I know I'll follow that advice one day, and I'm sure that it will feel as if he's with me again.  For now, I'm making a donation to the Polish American Association in honor of these two fantastic men.

The goal of this organization is to help the Polish American community.  They assist with language classes, vocational training, job development and classes, computer literacy classes, and much more.

http://www.polish.org/

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We were at Target today.  Have I mentioned how much I love Target?  I just ADORE that place.  We had a bunch of things to take care of, but I have an obligation to look at the dollar section every time I go in, so I had to stop there first.  Have I mentioned how much I love the dollar section at Target?

I got all excited when I saw a price tag for gel clings on the shelf.…

Day 112- Binder Park Zoo and Trivia Night

Last year= folders and binders
This year= Binder Park Zoo

http://www.binderparkzoo.org/

"Binder Park Zoo is located outside of Battle Creek, Michigan, on 433 acres of natural forests and wetlands. In the past 33 years, we have grown to be one of the leading cultural attractions in the region. Binder Park Zoo was created on the model of an entrepreneurial self-supporting nonprofit organization, and is managed by a zoological society board of directors.


Mission


Binder Park Zoo’s mission is to nurture empathy, understanding, and conservation of nature."

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Instead of falling asleep on the couch while watching my stories this Friday night, Tom and I took a friend up on his offer to join a trivia night tonight.  People in this area loooooooove trivia nights!  I believe this may be my first official trivia night (you know, one that's not just Trivial Pursuit at home).  It's about time.  Perhaps this was one of the last steps to being an official resident here.

I can see why…

Day 111- Operation Write Home and Honey Bunches of Oats

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Reading last year's post from this day made me realize that I need to make a good trip to Hallmark soon.  I think it's been like a month... maybe even more... GASP!

Reading last year's post also set me down a path to find a Hallmark-related charity for today's donation.  Find one I did!  It's a good one too. :)  Check out Operation Write Home.

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

Our Mission:
Supporting our nation's armed forces by sending blank handmade greeting cards to write home on, as well as cards of gratitude to encourage them.

Who wouldn't want to donate, right?

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I don't often have after dinner snacks these days.  This may be shocking to those who knew me in the days of yore, but it's true.  I just couldn't help myself tonight, though.  I made honey nut chicken strips for dinner last night, which involved coating some chicken in a combination of things that ended with crushed up Honey Bunches of Oats.  I may or may not have sa…

Day 110- Candy and Bingo

There's no separation between my donation and gratitude today.  It's all part of one big happy family!

At this time last year, I was celebrating the very end of a LARGE stack of grading... research papers and projects and outlines and journals... it was a lot.  Today I started a week's worth of review before my kids start to take their standardized tests.  While I think the day to day moments and learning I witness in my classroom are the most valuable to my students, others use these standardized tests to measure both my worth and that of my kids.  Therefore, it is crucial that my kids do well.  I want everyone else to see what I see.

I'm trying to make this review as enjoyable as possible.  I want the students to feel confident and capable... we ain't afraid of no test!  Bingo was the big item on today's agenda.  Students filled out cards with the words from their study guides, and we went to town.  I spent way more than today's donation amount on edible …

Day 109- buildOn and Voting

I won my NCAA basketball bracket last year and celebrated with a blog post (and some  totrash talking).  I didn't do any brackets this year because we were in Mexico when everything was announced.  As much as I love joining the fun and winning, I was definitely okay with the situation.

Since UConn won the tournament this year, I found a fabulous organization in Connecticut to make my donation to.  There's your connection.  The charity is called builOn, and here's what they do:

buildOn is a non-profit organization that empowers primarily urban U.S. high school students through in-class and intensive afterschool youth service programs. In addition to tremendous contributions of community service in their own cities and neighborhoods, buildOn youth actually build schools and bring literacy to children and adults in developing countries around the world. buildOn programs are designed to build confidence and real-world capabilities in American youth while also empowering communi…

Day 108- Saint Louis Zoo and Posters from Poopi

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Ok, I'm stretching today.  I'll admit that.  See if you can follow...

Outback saved our Easter dinner on this day last year by being open when I got out of work.  The Outback (like the real region in Australia) has a ton of animals.  The Saint Louis Zoo has a ton of animals as well.

http://www.stlzoo.org/

Um, yes.  I donated to the St. Louis Zoo today.  This connection may be weird and loose, but I don't think anyone being sent my money is complaining. :)

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I love getting catalogs because I point out all of the things I wish for to Tom and turn down corners on pages.  Even though these catalogs usually end up in the recycling bin with the corners still turned down and nothing to show for it, I feel as if I'm "shopping" when I obsess over the contents for a week or so anyway.

When I got home today, Tom gave me a box that had arrived in the mail.  I told him that I had not ordered anything, and he smiled.  The contents of the box were three posters I had tu…

Day 107- Powerfully Good Words and Randomly Wonderful Sunday

It must be adverb day!  Everything's coming up -ly!

My "donation" today is just that... a donation that, when spoken about, requires quotation fingers.  I have to throw a curveball in there every now and then to keep things a little interesting.  While this one doesn't involve any kind of exchange of money, I'm hoping that simply trying to put things out there in the world might make a difference in its own way.

The past few weeks we've been talking about words in my classes.  We've gone over vocab strategies and affixes and root words and details and all kinds of other wordy things.  I gave my kids homework one night that was simply to use their words in a powerfully good way.  I didn't ask them to write anything down or have anyone sign anything to hold them accountable.  I simply asked them to try it.  Honor system.

Our warm-up the next day was for them to write about what they had done.  I asked them to share what they had said, how others reacted…

Day 106- Give Kids the World and Panera Breakfast

It's funny how these things line up sometimes.  I was thrilled for my parents last year because they were on their way to a much-deserved vacation.  One year later, it's the same old story.  As hard as they both work, I couldn't be happier that the two of them are off for another week of fun and relaxation.

In honor of this, I poked around to try to find an organization that would help others who deserve vacations get them too.  I found one!

http://www.givekidstheworld.org/

Give Kids the World was my answer, and here's what they do:

Give Kids The World is a non-profit organization that exists only to fulfill the wishes of all children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the world to experience a memorable, joyful, cost-free visit to the Central Florida attractions, and to enjoy the magic of Give Kids The World Village for as long as there is a need.

100,000 children have had their dream come true at Give Kids The World. No child in need has eve…

Day 105- Boy Scouts of America and Silly T-shirt Day

http://www.scouting.org/

Since I was thankful for holding class outdoors last year, I thought I'd donate to some kind of outdoor education today.  The Boy Scouts seem to fit this bill well!  I made my donation to our local troop, and I hope that it will help a scout earn a badge... or maybe it can help pay for a badge... I just like the whole badge thing :)

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Sometimes when I get a bit exasperated at work, I wonder "In what other career would someone have to deal with this kind of stuff?"

Today, as I wore Tom's "Ice ice baby... too cold" t-shirt (with two bags of ice and a baby saying "too cold") for Silly T-Shirt Day, I thought the same thing.  Who else gets to do that?  I love our silly little dress up days. 

Thank you, Silly T-Shirt Day, you made my day.