Sunday, October 31, 2010

Planned Donations

With all of the craziness of the past few months (moving twice, setting up a new household in a state I had never even visited before, and starting a new job), I neglected to make my donations for June and September. Hopefully, I can remedy this over the next two months. So I've been planning out three months' worth of donations. So far, I want to donate to Safe Passages for October to provide food, clothing, and education to children whose parents work in Guatemala City's garbage dumps. I also plan to donate through the Hunger Site for June and September's donations. Right now, I'm debating between funding several different projects. The options?

$35 Clean Water for Children
$20 Send Two Girls to School in Afghanistan
$18 A Year of School Lunches for an AIDS Orphan
$17 Send a Child to School in Guatemala
$100 Train a Backpack Medic in Burma

I love the feeling that I've made a difference. I can tally it up---I've sent two girls to school in Afghanistan, sent a child to school in Guatemala, funded two high efficiency stoves in Darfur, and vaccinated two children in India. I've also provided a prosthesis for a person in the developing world.

I may not earn a lot, but I can still make a difference.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cat Fight!

Tanea and Janessa are best enemies. They can go from being absolute angels, playing drums together peacefully and laughing merrily one minute, to scratching each other's eyes out the next. It makes the last two hours of my nine and a half hour shift interesting, to say the least.

It's the time when kids have been in preschool all day. They're tired, and cranky, and ready to just go home. Instead, they have to play nice with the other kids for two more long hours.

Janessa and Tanea had just discovered the joy of the small hiding place beneath the stairs of the indoor loft. Three sides are boxed in, with a fourth side semi-open. Yesterday, Tanea climbed into the farthest reaches, with Janessa sitting right next to her. I was cleaning up the last of the toys, listening to them giggle and chat away merrily, when all of a sudden I heard a horrible screeching sound. Howls followed, and pained screams.

I rushed over, crouching down and risking life and limb by sticking my head in. The scene that met my eyes could only be described as a cat fight. Sharp talons were digging into tender flesh, and I could only reach one hand of the culprit. I ordered her out, but she would have none of it. Knowing that if I pulled her out by her arm I would lose my job, I was forced to flail around for the other hand to at least stop the horrible clawing.

When I finally maneuvered Janessa out and persuaded Tanea that it was safe to emerge, little Tanea had scratches all up and down her face. The top of her head was scratched, and her arm was covered in welts from Janessa's pinches.

I cleaned her up and bandaged her as best as I could, and tried to sooth her. Needless to say, getting so cut up with no way out doesn't feel good at all. I just sat with her in my lap, talking with her quietly.

When the two had a few minutes to cool off, I talked with them both together. Each was eager to blame the other, citing what each did wrong (She pinched me first! She said she hated me! She wouldn't scoot over!) Both pinched and scratched, but given the difference in size and strength, Tanea came out on the rougher side. Strangely enough, the other girl didn't have one scratch on her.

I wrote out an incident report and informed the site director of what happened. We are blocking off the cubby hole, and talked to both set of parents. Let me tell you, that was one fun conversation to have.

As it was, I was already blaming myself. Even though I was only assisting in the classroom (and not actually a lead teacher), I wondered if I could have handled things differently. Could I have somehow gotten them out of there faster? Should I have just pulled Janessa out, at the risk of losing my job?

Who knows what Monday will bring.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Samson, the Lion Cat

Samson (a fitting name for a lion like cat) looked exactly like this at the animal shelter I worked at. He had the cutest meow (almost a purr). When they shaved him, they left just a tuft of hair at his tail, and a ring of fur around his face. He was such a cute lion!

I'm still searching for a close by animal shelter to volunteer at. Unfortunately, my AmeriCorps program won't let me count it for hours, since it doesn't directly affect children birth to five. However, it still is totally worth it!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cat on the Computer

funny pictures of cats with captions
Why is it that cats want to be in the most inconvenient places? Sit down with a textbook on your lap, and inevitably, a cat will crawl on top of it, purring away. Sit down at the piano to play, and suddenly your kitten is a concert pianist, banging away on the keys left and right. You can check out more hilarious pictures at Lolcats.

What's your funniest cat story?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Frugal Hints and Tips

Money can be tight, especially for college students and recent graduates. Here are few simple money saving tips that have saved me more times than I can count.

1) Explore the bulk section of your grocery store or health food store. They are often much cheaper than buying prepackaged foods, and you are able to buy just the amount you need for a recipe. If you don't use much cumin or dill, bulk bin spices are the way to go. You can measure out just a half teaspoon of spices, and pay just for that, rather than have a whole bottle languish in your pantry for years and lose potency. This is also the way to go if you're trying out a new grain. You can buy just the amount you need for your recipe, and not be stuck with an entire bag if you don't like it.
2) Check out grocery store ads online before you shop. I used this tip a lot in college. I could save gas and driving time by figuring out which of three grocery stores nearest to me had the best deals. Simply Google grocery stores you frequent, and check out their store circulars.

3) Visit your local library! They have DVDs, books on tape, book clubs, Internet access, and language tapes all for free!

4) Frequent thrift stores and garage sales! I got a dresser for $8, a terrific bookcase for $2.50, and a large TV for $10. My roommate got her futon/bed for $35. Not only are thrift stores and garage sales cheaper than Walmart, Target, and furniture stores, but they are also more ecologically friendly. They keep objects out of the landfills, and give a second life to pre-owned objects!

5) Visit your local farmers' market! The produce is fresh, local, and many times cheaper than that which you find in the supermarkets. Especially check out damaged produce, which may be sold at a substantial discount. I recently found a three for $1 deal on slightly bruised peppers. The damage was mainly cosmetic, and I just opted to use these peppers first. Cheap and healthy!

How do you save money?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Coping with ADD

I have a few little tricks I plan to implement this year to make living with my Attention Deficit Disorder a little easier. Here are just a few:

1) Scan and save important documents to a flash drive, resulting in less paperwork to be lost. Also, fewer boxes to move each year!

2) Utilize online bill pay. I often leave bills until the last minute, and this makes paying them easy and saves money on postage and late fees.

3) Schedule follow-up psychiatrist appointments a few months in advance. When I finish with one appointment, schedule the next two, and write them in my day planner. Also, request a phone call reminder so that even if I don't check my appointment book, I still won't miss my appointment.

4) Schedule automatic refills with Walmart. They'll call me when my prescription is ready, and I won't have to remember to fill my prescription before it runs out.

5) Write key phone numbers (doctor's office, work, psychiatrist scheduling office, apartment office) in my day planner, and input them in my phone as contacts. That way I'll have no excuse not to call in advance of needing a doctor's appointment.

What hints have you found helpful in your day-to-day life?

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I love Spanish music---Reik, Camila, Juanes, Aleks Syntek---it's an addiction. However, I'm in AmeriCorps, and don't have endless founts of money to buy expensive CDs.

Batanga online radio, however, has solved this dilemma. I can listen to a personalized radio station while writing papers, surfing the web, or blogging, all for free. I can personalize my radio stations to only have one artist, or a mix. Best of all, it's free---there is only the occasional ad (about every three or four songs). If I'm listening to the Spanish version of Batanga, that ad is in Spanish, and I get to test out my understanding of spoken Spanish. If it's the English version of Batanga, it's a little more annoying, but nothing major.

Check it out today!

Friday, October 15, 2010


Recently, my roommates came across a free trial offer for eHarmony. Given that it was nearly eleven on a Saturday night, what could be more entertaining than filling out the application form?

eHarmony asks some very strange questions. Take, for instance, their inquiry as to whether you feel: Safe? Plotted against? or Out of control? Who would honestly answer that they felt plotted against?

They also asked you to rate how you viewed yourself on a scale of not at all to very much so. Some possible characteristics? Quarrelsome, honest, and impulsive. I suppose the honest bit proved just how honest you were: if you listed very much so, obviously you were lying; if you listed not at all, who would want to date you?

They also asked how important your partner's various traits were to you: your sexual compatibility, the romantic attractiveness you felt for your partner, and you partner's attractiveness.

Wow. All I can say is that I'm so happy I don't qualify for eHarmony. Have any of you tried online dating sites?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Kid Is Special!

So my three year old at the Head Start is a little special. The fact that two of his rules are: "Don't lick the window!" and "Don't pee on the sink!" says it all.

It was your typical nap time: a few tears, twelve stories, four backrubs, and all thirteen children were out for the count. I had just finished taping together a few books that our "angry child" had ripped and had moved to the sink to wash my hands (kids get the weirdest things on books). Suddenly a little face popped up by the edge of the sink. It was Noah, my little trouble making machine.

I waited for him to slip by me into the kids' bathroom, or say that he had a nightmare. Instead, he kept looking straight ahead with a glazed look in his eyes. A few seconds passed, and I began to grow concerned.

"Noah? Noah, stop!"

I could hardly believe my eyes. He was peeing against the sink.

I jumped back, not eager to get my flip flops, or my toes, wet. Why, or why, hadn't I worn my sneakers that day? Baby pee I can handle. Three year old drenching pee? Not so much.

I got him to stop long enough to direct him to the toilet. After he washed his hands, still expressionless, he went back to bed.

When I brought the incident up with the lead teacher, she was incredulous. This had never happened before. Yet the puddle next to the sink was vivid proof that something crazy was going on.

When Noah woke up from his nap fifteen minutes later, we led him over to the puddle to help with clean-up. He kept asking why he was cleaning up, and what the big puddle was.

It turns out we have a sleepwalker on our hands. And not just your garden variety sleepwalker, but a walking, peeing sleepwalker.

This year is going to be fun.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kitty Gets Tickled

funny pictures of cats with captions
Just a little something to brighten up your day! Check out more at Lolcats and funny pictures. After a rough day at work (how many times can one kid bite you in day? Just how many dirty diapers can one teacher change?), this is a definite stress reliever.

How do you relieve stress?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bone Marrow Donation

I recently signed on with Be the Match (the National Marrow Donor Program) to donate bone marrow to a patient in need if a match is found. The process was surprisingly easy: a short application process online, and then a simple cheek swab tissue matching. I was able to complete both from the comfort of my own home.

Being an AmeriCorps member, I have very little disposable income to donate to charity or contribute to medical research. This is one way that I can help others without cost to me---the medical procedure is covered by the other patient's insurance, and the tissue testing was done at no cost for me. Travel costs are reimbursed when a donation is made. With the exception of the possibility of a few hours taken off of work here and there for additional testing if a match is found, and a day or two surrounding the procedure, there is no significant cost to the donor.

Check out Be the Match today!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Habitat for Humanity Fridays

I have learned how to shoot nails through concrete, fasten plywood onto the roof with just six strikes of the hammer, and install interior walls, all in two weeks. How did I do this? I signed on to Habitat for Humanity's Women Build.

A team of nearly all women work to construct a home from crawlspace to roof in just sixteen weeks. These homes are then sold to individuals living at or below the poverty line. In lieu of a down payment, they must contribute 250 hours of service building their home, or the homes of others. The homes are sold at cost, with a zero percent interest rate, making these homes decent, safe, and affordable.

Volunteers make this project possible, so search Habitat's website today for an opportunity near you. You don't even need to know which end of the hammer is used to pound a nail to volunteer---you just need the willingness to learn. I went there knowing nothing about nail guns, but by the end of the afternoon, I was a pro.

Volunteer today, either at a Women Build or with Habitat for Humanity's regular building!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

To Do List

I just got back from a leisurely three hour babysitting stint. Half the time, the kids were asleep. The only strenuous part of the night was reading two long fairy tales in Spanish. I got to practice my rusty Spanish, and got $40---enough to replace my dying phone!

So my To Do List is fairly simple:
  1. Visit Verizon and check in on getting a replacement phone. Even though my phone is fully charged, it will randomly shut itself off. It also refuses to alert me when I have messages, so I find out weeks later that my friend called, needing a place to stay, or tWQhat my sister sent me a picture of her engagement ring.
  2. Order more checks. I finally ran out, after seven years with my bank. I always use online bill pay, as it's fast, easy, and free for my account. However, occasionally I will need a physical check, and they're always good to have.
  3. Buy groceries for the week. I need tempeh, whole wheat tortillas, fruit, bread, and garlic.
  4. Wash my laundry! I participated in two Habitat for Humanity builds this week, so I have a lot of really muddy, grubby clothes. My shoes probably could do with a wash, too.
  5. Call my family. I haven't talked to them in a while.
  6. Head over to the library to research Washington, D.C. and pick up some books on tape for my drive to work.

Tomorrow will be busy, but productive. What's on your to do list?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Do You Want to Smell My Man Breath?"

You have to love three year olds. I woke little Jeremiah up from his nap, and needless to say, he wasn't pleased. However, when he finally got over the tragedy, he was cheery enough to offer the chance to smell his "man breath." When I asked him whether it smelled good, he looked at me like I was crazy, before replying very exasperatedly, "No, it's smelly!

It definitely beat the day that I went to put Tony to sleep, and he tried to punch me. And put boogers in another teacher's hair. And bit the co-teacher. Three year olds are a strange, crazy bunch.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

You Can't See Me!

You have to love little kids. Their idea of hide and seek is to cover their eyes, or turn around. Apparently, if they can't see you, you can't see them. So we have little kids hiding from their parents at pick up time with their legs sticking out from behind a corner, or curled up in a little ball with their head hidden. They also love to call out that they left half an hour ago.

Kids are silly.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Yard Sale Madness!

Yesterday was a busy day. I have a cold, so I didn't actually get up and moving until 11. However, I made the next four hours really count: I hit the pharmacy to pick up two prescriptions and submit another one to be filled, got a library card (and 17 books), found a lovely, cheap bookcase at a local garage sale, and hit the grocery store.

I love the local Baptist garage sale. I got a small, two shelf bookcase for $2.50, a dozen children's books for a lending library at my Head Start for $2, and two purses for imaginative play at my center, as well. The grand total? $6.25.

I then headed over to the library for some frugal book perusal. Unfortunately, I live just over the county line, so my nearest in county library is a half hour away from anywhere I could possible find myself. Therefore I splurged and got a $60, out-of-county library card. Given that I visit the library at least once a week, I figure this will work out better economically (and environmentally) than driving 30 minutes out of my way every week.

What did you do with your Saturday?