Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Got Water?

Hello my friends!  It's that time of year again.  The African Well Fund 7th Annual Got Water? Auction is underway.  We have over 40 items that have been collected and donated to us this year.  A lot of U2 stuff but some other good stuff also such as:

  • an autographed copy of the Playbill for How to Succeed in Business - yes HP fans Dan Rad did touch and sign this with his magical hands.  As did John Larroquette - for all you Night Court/The Practice/Boston Legal fans (insert my picture here).
  • An autographed copy of the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook - I dare you not to love this book. You become more fabulous just looking at it.  And if you have not read The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer- Purcell (one of the Beekman Boys) I suggest you run out and get it now.  It is such a great read.  Laugh out loud funny and inspirational.  Trust me.
  • An autographed copy of Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch and Lisa Dickey.  Sue Silvester will come to your house and beat you if you do not bid on this book.  I swear she told me herself during recess.
  • An autographed copy of Bossypants by Tina Fey.  Perfect for the 30 Rock fan on your Christmas list.
For a list of all the other items we have up for auction click here.

Remember 100% of the proceeds from these auctions go to fund clean water and sanitation projects in Africa.  Some of these items will make the perfect stocking stuffers AND they help out people who are less fortunate than us.  It is a win win in my book.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported us in the past...and a THANK YOU in advance to those who will support us in the future.  We are literally nothing without  our supporters.  Happy Bidding!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

School Daze

It is back to school season and I have to say that I LOVE this time of year!!!  We have an in-service tomorrow and next week we are back in our classrooms making them ready for a fresh new group of little ones.

I am excited about so many things this year. Two fantastic new grade partners. A new principal. Maybe some lunch bunch shifts. And of course the best part - a new group of students - cuddly and adorable and ready to have fun!

I have always been that student who looks forward to the start of school.  Being a teacher is no different.  I am excited to see the wonderful women I work with again on a regular basis.  I cannot wait to re-arrange and decorate my classroom based on what worked and did not work last year.  Did I mention school supplies?  Possibly the best things ever invented!!!  Construction paper!  Glue!  Crayons! Pencils! Yay!!!

I have always felt that September was a time for new beginnings, more so than January.  And so I go into this September with high spirits and the joy of knowing what good things I have to look forward too.  May all of you feel this joy also as the school starts and the seasons change.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I'm leaving on a jet plane

Off to the AWF Board Meeting in Los Angeles.  I CANNOT wait to fly there.  By MYSELF. In FIRST CLASS.  My Kindle is giddy with anticipation of the intimate time we will spend together WITHOUT interruptions.  Or having to be read in the bathroom with the door locked.
I am also hoping to make it out the the fantastically decked out Restoration Hardware in Beverly Hills.  I know, I know...I go all the way to LA and all I want to see is the same store I work in...but the people who have been there say it is magical.  And they serve tea.  How can anyone resist?

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

You can dream, so dream out loud...

Those of you that know me well know of my involvement in the African Well Fund. I have been on the board for almost 6 years now (where did the time go!) and each year is more inspiring than the next.

We are very close to reaching our "1 million dollars raised since inception" milestone.  In fact we will probably reach it by the end of this year.  This is pretty amazing in itself, but when you stop to consider we are 100% volunteer run it makes this milestone even more extraordinary.

The AWF was born because a group of U2 fans, inspired by Bono's work in Africa, decided that it was time to be the change they wanted to see in the world.  Every year we honor Bono by holding a fundraiser for his birthday, which is May 10.  Every year people who donate to the fundraiser can sign Bono's birthday card on our website and every year Lara (a very talented board member) creates a fabulously cool card which then gets mailed to Bono.  We know he gets the card because he has let us know in the past that it is his favorite birthday present (see this post).

This year we were able to present the card to him him person before the show in Nashville. Five AWF board members were on hand to personally thank him for being our inspiration and Lara was able to hand Bono this year's card herself - for pictures and her account of the meeting click here.

This year proceeds from the Build a Well For Bono's Birthday fundraiser went to clean water and sanitation projects that will be implemented by AWF partner Africare at four girls' schools in Benin that are supported by Angelique Kidjo's Batonga Foundation.

We are really close to fully funding this project so I am asking you to make a small donation to get us there.  It is as easy as clicking here and then clicking on the Donate Benin button on our homepage. 

Now is a good time of year to think about the value of clean drinking water.  It is hot out and we are consuming more water than ever - without it our bodies will not function - and we are so fortunate to live in countries where access to clean water is a given.  Take a moment to help change the lives of some very deserving young women in Benin by making a donation. 

And then go pour yourself a nice clean glass of water and drink it knowing that today, with the click of your mouse, you have given someone a great gift.  A great man once said, "Every generation has a chance to change the world."  Now is your chance.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hello World

It is amazing to me how the simplest of things can be so extraordinary.  I took this video of Spy playing in the fountain at my mom's house.  I could have watched him "watering" the flowers for hours.  How such a simple activity could keep him entertained for so long is a mystery.  The joy I gained from watching him do such an ordinary task was also kind of shocking.  Yet when I watch my sweet boy I am not surprised that such a simple, monotonous action could bring such hapiness to my heart.

Allow yourself to see beauty in even the most mundane of things...and your heart will be filled with joy. I promise.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

My mom, Spy and I spent 4 hours in the emergency room today.  Mom picked Spy up from school and she noticed he wasn't moving his arm.  To make a very long story short he dislocated his elbow - also know as Nursemaid's Elbow - and was in a lot of pain.  I was incredibly relieved when the x-rays came back normal and the doctor just walked in, snapped this bone back into place and viola, Spy was using his arm again in under 10 minutes.

Sitting there in the emergency room with him asleep on my shoulder made me think about how lucky I really am to have such a beautiful child.  I know my last post was not so positive.  Re-reading it now I realize how easily I become overwhelmed when even the smallest things do not go as planned.  Today, however, holding my little one in my lap surrounded by the sick and in pain, I was so thankful to have him in my life, and I was begging, pleading to God for him to be OK.  And he was OK.  So I am going to do my best to try and not let the little things get to me.  I am going to do my best to see every temper tantrum in a positive light. I am going to do my best to make sure that Spy knows how much I love him and how he means the world to me. 

Don't sweat the small stuff, isn't that what they say?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mommy I want something to eat.

Today was a really tough day for me.  Despite it being Easter and a beautiful sunny day outside, Spy was in a rare mood, contrary and defiant, which started at the torturously early hour of 5am.  Every morning, upon waking my son greets me with the same six words, "Mommy, I want something to eat."  Now those of you who know me well know about my crazy relationship with food and my perpetual struggle to lose weight.  So hearing my son, ask for food every morning before even smiling or saying hello makes me paranoid that my son will inherit the unhealthy relationship I have with food.

To make matters worse, my son is THE PICKIEST eater.  He tortures me on a daily basis by refusing to eat the food I make him.  This is a power struggle that he saves only for me because I know for a fact at school (and for my mother) he eats everything that is put in front of him and then some.  I fear that this was a result of his earliest days...when he was not latching on properly and literally starving in the hospital - something I only realized when the nurse came to do a home visit that next day and Simon had lost weight.  The nurse recommended supplementing with formula (which by the way I had no objection too and I was furious that the nurses in the hospital did not pick up on the weight loss before we checked out - I would have started supplementing immediately had I known he was not getting enough to eat).  To this day I still feel guilty knowing that he was screaming in the nursery because he was hungry.  So I think subconsciously he is paying me back by refusing to eat what I give him.

Today besides refusing a healthy breakfast and throwing two temper tantrums before 8am because I would not give him Fruit Snacks (he calls them Fiats), Simon refused to wear his Easter outfit which I lovingly picked out for him at Gymboree and was so excited for him to wear.  He literally thrashed and tried to rip the shirt off of himself for 10 minutes - he wanted to wear the monkey shirt he has slept in and worn for the past 2 days to the restaurant.  Dan and I wrestled him into the car where he continued to thrash until 20 minutes later, defeated, we pulled over and I changed him into a different (ie clean) monkey shirt which luckily he accepted. 

When we got to the restaurant he refused to eat again...only taking a few nibbles from the foccacia and having a few french fries despite our attempts to ply him with pasta, chicken fingers and dinner rolls.  So by this time he is starving and miserable and is only happy when my father (thank goodness for Nonno Mario) takes him outside to watch the cars go by on West Chester Pike.  While outside he promptly removes his shoes and walks around the parking lot in his socks...the perfect solution to his non Easter monkey shirt outfit.

So today I am not feeling like that much of a success.  I have no pictures of my son in his adorable outfit, just a few pics that I managed to snap at 5am of him opening his Easter basket, which by the way Dan missed because he grunted and rolled over when I called to him to come and help us open the basket (another post for another time).  I hope that this whole food thing is just a passing phase becuase I am not sure my already fragile food loving/hating ego can take much more of this rejection.  At the very least I hope he starts to wait until we get downstairs in the morning to ask for food.  "Hi Mommy" would sound much better first thing in the morning...a mom can dream...right?

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Being Mindful in the Moment

These last couple of months I have really been struggling to keep my head above water.  It seems like whatever I try to accomplish be it eating healthily, maintaining a clean house, coming up with creative and fun lesson plans for my students, I am not having much success achieving any of it.  This inability to do anything "right" has been a huge drain on my energy levels, and in turn has dragged me even further into a hole that I find hard to stick my head out of on most days.

I realize that most of the time, the reasons for my failures are a direct result of self sabotage.  I find this especially true of trying to eat well and trying to be neat around the house.  My intentions are good.  I fall asleep at night determined to eat a healthy breakfast and throw in a load of laundry before I leave the house.  But then I was up - late - because I have not slept well (for a million different reasons) and as I rush to get myself and Simon out the door on time breakfast becomes hot chocolate and whatever leftovers are in the teachers lounge at school.  The laundry...well let's just say by the time I get home it has been forgotten...as I fret over the 3,000 other things I need to do around the house.  This is where I become overwhelmed and shut down.  And if I am lucky and Simon is napping, I curl up in a ball on the couch and try to catch up on precious sleep, instead of house work.

Now I know that I can take steps to prevent the teacher lounge scrounging and house work procrastination.  I have already told you I am my own worst enemy, giving in to the lull of a nap instead of catching up on the necessary parts of my adult life.

Last Sunday, as I gorged on Chili and Wings from Hard Times Cafe in Alexandria - another impulsive albeit delicious misstep in my quest to be healthy - I read this tip on my smart phone from my FB "friend" Jillian Michaels:

Smart Tip: Most people sabotage themselves because they aren't mindful in the moment. Let your daily actions be governed by your goals & dreams. Whenever you are making an important decision first ask if it gets you closer to your goals or farther away. If the answer is closer, pull the trigger. If it's farther away make a different choice. Conscious choice making is a critical step in making your dreams a reality.

Now I wouldn't qualify eating lunch as an important decision per se but it is a decision I have to make every day and in the end it does affect my well being and my long term goal of being healthy. I loved this tip and have been thinking about it all week as I went about my days eating unhealthy meals and avoiding housework.
So this morning I made a conscious decision to try and actually stop and ask myself if what I am doing is going to help me get closer to or farther away from my long term goals.  Because I do sabotage so many aspects of my life I think that it is going to be a very rock road for the next few weeks or at least until I get some tangible results from this decision. For this I apologize to my friends in advance.
So if you happen to see me talking to myself I am probably trying to talk myself out of having Thai food for lunch or skipping the gym to go to Starbucks.  Just ignore me...or even better...remind me of my choice to live in mindfully in the moment.  And I highly recommend looking up Jillian's FB page and friending her - the advice she gives a great - now if only I would follow it!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth

No, not Disney.  Wegmans. 

Dan and I went to Wegmans this morning with Simon.  We had breakfast at the breakfast bar and then all full from a yummy meal we went shopping.  It really is the best place ever.  My favorite yogurt was there for only 99 cents - at Walmart they are $1.29.  Even JD likes the Wegman brand cat food better than anything we have ever gotten him elsewhere.

There is a rumor that they are going to open one up right here in KOP.  Seriously. I will be there everyday if this is the case.

I hope that you are all enjoying the bright and sunny day outside.  We are heading over to my brother's for a little superbowl action  - should be fun.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Daddy's Little Helper

Getting bundled up to go outside

Such a good helper

Bringing the wood to the fireplace

Are we finished yet?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How on Earth?

Somehow I got an issue of Budget Traveller in the mail this week.  I thought I had let my subscription expire but that is a whole other blog post.

So I am leafing through it on the couch and Spy is playing next to me.  He comes up to me, points to the cover and says "Farful Tower."  I looked at the cover and lo and behold it is the Eiffel Tower.  For a minute I thought, "Wait, how does he know this is the Eiffel Tower?" Then I realized the answer.  Ratatouille. 

Ah, Disney.  Thank you for making a world traveller of my 2 year old without having to leave the house.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Come on take me away...

Shocking that I have not posted a new entry since May...and here we are a new year ahead of us.  I find myself mostly in the same place as I was this time last year.  A few things are different.  Instead of student teaching I have a job as a preschool teacher.  I also work part-time at Restoration Hardware.  My little Spy is not so little any more.  He is embracing his 2-year oldness with a ferocity that is pleasing and yet shocking at the same time. 

I also have a new kitchen (yay!).

So today, as I tried to tidy up the dishes in my wonderfully deep sink with my fantastically modern faucet, Spy safely tucked away in his crib for a much needed nap, I was whisked back to a time and place I have not thought about in a long time.  The trigger: The Unforgettable Fire by U2.  The random shuffle on my impossibly small iPod Nano playing at mommy volume from my shiny red iHome landed on this song and poof! I was transported back to the summer of 1985.  I am 12 years old and I am sweating my ass off trying to manually clean our pool with what was then the "top of the line" pool cleaner.  The songs from this cassette tape were playing on my beat up old radio/tape player which I had received for my 9th birthday. 

This flicker of a memory lead me to a train of thought about my thoroughly modern kitchen and my beautiful son, who on most days stands next to me on his little stool playing with the fancy new faucet while I wash dishes.  What will the world be like when he is 37 years old?  Will he wistfully think back to the "old fashion" gadgets of his youth and laugh at how terribly difficult things were for him then? I think about that dreaded pool cleaner.  I had to drag it up and down the sides of the pool repeatedly to get the dirt off the sides and the bottom.  And I had to do it at least twice a week or else the pool walls started to turn green. I also remember thinking to myself, "There has to be a better way to do this!!!"   Who does this job now?  A little love bug of a gadget known in the pool world as a Polaris whom my family has affectionately nicknamed Herbie.

So I wrap up this first post of the new year with a reminder of how far we have come not just in one year but in the many that have passed.  I hope that this year brings all of us further along on our journey in this life, sometimes strange but mostly wonderful.  And I hope that Spy will be able to look back on this time - well what he may remember of it - and see how far he has come on his own personal journey.