It's all about the little things…

Monthly Archives: August 2011

Week 40-All I needed to know, Day 1-I learned from my Grandma

My sweet, smart Grandma

My Grandma always asked me what I learned at school that day when I would visit her after school.  My favorite answer was, “Nothing”, but that was never good enough for her.  “No, you learned something today.  Think about it and answer me again.”, she’d say.  So I would sit there and think of one thing, big or small, that my little brain had taken in the day.  She taught me how important it is to always be a student.  Life is about learning, and sometimes the most important lessons are taught in places that don’t look anything like your classroom at school.

I guess to better understand why my Grandma was such an advocate for learning, it would behoove you to know that she was first a teacher and then a principal.  She was actually my kindergarten principal, which is not something most people can say, and it is something I truly cherish.  Partnerships for Learning in Seattle, WA is focused on creating a stronger public education system that better prepares students for their collegiate careers and beyond.  Nearly 1 million teenagers decide to stop going to school every year.  Our future is literally dropping out before our eyes, and organizations like PFL are pulling out all the stops to decrease that number.  PFL is also extremely successful is taking complex issues and making them accessible to the public.  My Grandma knew that learning isn’t something that starts and stops during the school day, and PFL is carrying on her message in the state of Washington.  It turns out there are some other organizations that care about their “grand kids” education.  Founded by Curtis Granderson in 2007, the Grand Kids Foundation, is on a mission to improve the educational experience across the national and re-establish baseball opportunities for inner-city youth.  Granderson is often called the “nicest guy in baseball” and his track record for community service backs up that nickname.  Money that is given to the GKF is used to fund educational field trips, art and science initiatives, and buy foreign language software that is needed more and more everyday in schools.  My Grandma taught all three of her grandkids well and Curtis is taking her lead.  Go ahead Curtis, do the thing!

Curtis doing his thang with the "grand kids"

Partnership for Learning Donation

Grand Kids Foundation Donation

So here’s to what I learned from my Grandma!  You were way more than what I’ve typed here, but I can’t give away all the good secrets she passed down to me.  Obviously this lesson stuck with me though, because here I am almost 27 years old and still a student.  Every time I learn something new I can feel the warmth of my Grandma’s smile wrap me up in a big hug.  Thanks Grandma.

Week 39-What’s today again? Day 7-Loooong Tuesday

Yes kitty it has!

I was literally at school today from 8am until 9pm.  Yes you read that right.  13 hours.  It’s a good thing I like my job.  The best part of my day was explaining a new concept to my budding freshman and seeing the lights come on as they finally grasp what I’m talking about.  I am partially responsible for building the foundation of their collegiate career.  Plus I’m pretty sure they like me which makes all of our lives a little easier.  Even though Tuesday are by far the longest day of my week, they are the most rewarding, and I come home with a smile on my face.  Thanks Tuesdays for kicking my butt and making me like it.

Maybe I should join the National Science Teachers Association so I can have some fellow Bill Nye the science guy colleagues to bond with.  Founded back in 1944, NSTA is the largest organization in the US that is devoted to making science not only informative but also fun to teach and learn.  With over 60,000 members from kindergarten all the way to college professors can connect with each other through three regional conferences a year and one national conference every spring.  NSTA’s guiding principles are to be an example for excellence; embrace diversity, equity, and respect; and use research to enhance teaching and learning.  I mean think about how much more boring the world would be without science teachers.  Who else would teach your kids how to blow things up with household items?  I’ve figured out over just the past two weeks that sometimes teaching is all about getting your hands a little dirty.  Resource Area for Teaching is the place to go to figure out way to have your students learn their objectives in a hands-on fashion.  RAFT provides teachers and community leaders with tools professional development classes, workshops, continuing education units, and informal gatherings where members can share their ideas.  You are probably wondering where all those cool things like computers and fancy markers that teachers needs to prove their creative points.  Thousands of local businesses donate their old items or manufacturing by-products to RAFT to provided fuel for the creative juices that flow during RAFT programs.  One man’s by-product is another man’s science project.

National Science Teachers Association Donation

Resource Area for Teaching Donation

So here’s to you looooong Tuesday.  I can barely keep my eyes open as I type this, but that smile is still on my face.  Somebody once told me, “If everything worth doing was easy, everybody would do it.”  You are a challenge my motivation, dedication, and endurance every week.  Instead of resenting you, I’ve decided that I’m going to kill you with kindness and embrace you.  Thanks for reminding me that what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.

Week 39-What’s today again? Day 6-Manic Monday

Another week has started and if you’re reading this then you’ve survived another manic Monday.  This Monday was definitely heads and tails above my Monday last week, but it was no walk in the park.  I have been up and at ’em since approximately 6:45am this morning.  I logged in quite a few hours in the lab, prepped for teaching Biology lab next week, met with our financial advisor, back to the lab, home to make some delicious BBQ chicken quesadilla, and prepare to teach lab tomorrow, and blog of course.  You might think that this blog is the last thing I want to do when I get home after a long day, but I’m finding more and more that I love how grounded it keeps me no matter what day it is.  Thanks blog!

There are a couple of websites that I use every single day to write this bliggity blog.  Charity Navigator is my go-to website when it’s time to connect my crazy thoughts with some great charities.  Apparently I’m not the only one who turns to CN either, because since they were founded in 2001 they have become the largest and most utilized charity evaluator in the nation.  They also make it so easy a caveman could do it.  It’s like Google for charities.  It’s hard to know which charities to donate our hard earned cash too.  CN lets you know how financially responsible a charity is on a daily basis as well as their potential to sustain their programs in the long run.  They even rate the charities with pretty little stars from zero to four so you can see what you’re getting at glance.  They help me decide which charities to write about, but more importantly which charities to recommend to you guys, my faithful readers.  The other website I absolutely need is Look To The Stars.  Let’s face it, most celebrities (if not all of them) have more money than we’ll ever have.  Some of them blow it on fancy cars and shiny toys, but there are a lot of them who actually want to give some of their money away.  LTTS lets you know what charities your favorite celebrities support.  Let’s say you watched the MTV VMA’s last night and you’re so excited that Beyoncé is preggers that you want to donate to a charity she supports as an early birthday gift.  LTTS will let you know that she co-founded the Survivor Foundation with band mate Kelly Rowland to help support families whose lives have been affected by disasters and displaced from their homes.  Now you know how I get by with a little help from my friends.

Charity Navigator Donation 

Like Look To The Stars on Facebook (apparently they’re so rich like celebrities they don’t need donations 🙂 )

So here’s to you manic Monday!  You’re one of the most challenging days on the week, but at the end of the day my faithful blog is always there waiting for me.  We have been together for 39 Mondays, and I’m still excited to spend the 13 we have left together.  Thanks for loving me no matter how tired, cranky, smelly, or unthankful I may be.  You make me a better person on Mondays, and every other day of the week.

Happy Monday!

Week 39-What’s today again? Day 5-Lazy Sunday

Sunday is the best day for utter and total relaxation.  Saturday is all about running around doing the errands you were too busy, or too tired, to get done during the rest of the week.  Sunday is about eating, napping, and catching up on all the television you’ve DVRed during the week.  Even though I should totally be thinking and preparing for the upcoming week I can’t make myself do it.  It’s like I’m allergic to it or something, so I don’t’ fight it.  I mean the big man upstairs took a day to rest, so I’m just taking one out his playbook.  I’m always a little more thankful for my comfy couch on Sundays.

One of my very favorite parts about Sunday is the delicious breakfast Scott loves to fix.  The week is filled with bowls of cereal, but not on Sunday morning.  The Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission is the third oldest rescue mission in the country.  Founded over 130 years ago, they have reached out to the homeless community of Philadelphia in more than one way.  SBRM has two locations in Philly to better serve all those in need.  Their location in Center City is the main shelter, and the second location in Germantown is a traditional home for women and children.  As the name suggests they provide three square meals a day (and a snack!), but they also make sure they have clothes on their back, and encouragement in their hearts.  They also have a couple of thrift stores so people can donate and purchase clothes to help support the SBRM mission.  Scott and I also love to watch reruns of The Sopranos on Sundays.  Mr. Tony Soprano, aka James Gandolfini, had all of his costumes from the series auctioned off for the Wounded Warrior Project and raised almost $200,000.  WWP works to raise awareness about the needs of injured service members, and aid them in readjusting to their new lives.  WWP focuses on those who have started or continued serving our country after the tragedy of September 11th.  They want to both honor and empower the warriors, and believe that the “greatest causality is being forgotten”.  Plus I’d be afraid to not support any charity that Tony Soprano stands behind.  You know what I mean.

Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission Donation

Wounded Warrior Project Donation

So here’s to you lazy Sunday!  You’re that sweet day of rest when we get a chance to recharge our batteries and mentally prepare for the busy week ahead.  You also give us a chance to remember what’s really important in life like; family, a good night’s sleep, classic movies, delicious food, and spending time with the people who mean the most to you.  Thanks for the weekly reminder that the best things in life aren’t things.

Week 39-What’s today again? Day 4-Shopping Saturday

I don’t know about you guys but my I usually reserve my Saturdays for sleeping in, drinking even more coffee than normal, and shopping baby!  It seems like the rest of the week I am either too tired or too unmotivated to get my behind to any type of store that sells anything.  I used to really only care about going shopping for clothes or fun things, but now even grocery shopping gets me pumped.  A full fridge at my house makes for a happy couple the rest of the week.  As we left Giant Eagle with a cart full of groceries today I was acutely aware of how lucky I am.  I’m thankful for the money to buy things I need, and the sense to leave the things I don’t on the shelves.

Some of my favorite grocery stores are the ones with awesome salad bars in them, like Whole Foods.  It used to be my jam to go there and get some fresh fruits and vegetables when I was nursing what you might call a “hangover” Sunday afternoon.  It turns out that WF is also one of the founding partners of the very cool Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools Project.  SB2S has a vision of providing all of the children in schools with the option of having fresh fruits and vegetables every day for lunch.  I know you’re probably thinking that most kids would rather have a cheeseburger than a salad, and you might be right nine times out of ten, but if we can our children to start eating healthier for one meal a week then that’s a start.  Research has also shown that if you give children the choice, they are willing to try new foods and even incorporate them into their daily lives when they otherwise would have continued to chow down on greasy french fries.  Never forget, kids have the innate ability to surprise you.  Always.  Ten Thousand Villages was a little shop near NC State’s campus that I used to shop at from time to time in Cameron Village.  I even got a Secret Santa gift from there one year, and I still love it.  TTV is on a mission is to “create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term fair trading relationships.”  They have everything from jewelry to stationery from countries all around the world that is unique and adorable all at the same time.  You wanna know what the best part is?  They have an online store so you can shop from the comfort of you own home and support hard-working artisans with the money they deserve!  Winning!

Let’s Move! Salad Bars to Schools Donation

Ten Thousand Villages Shop…Buy something!

So here’s to you Shopping Saturday!  You’re the day when I get to break out my list of things I need and go crazy!  You’re also the day that I spend all my money, but you gotta spend money to make money right?  After 26, almost 27 years of shopping, I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out where my money is best spent on others on any given day.  Don’t worry, something for me seems to sneak in my cart every now and again. 😉

Week 39-What’s today again? Day 3-Casual Friday

TGIF!  We’ve made it through another work weeks guys!  Go ahead and pat yourselves on the back.  This first week back to school has really kicked my behind, and I am looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow.  Anybody who knows me this means I’ll only sleep to about 8 am instead of 6:30 am, but that sweet hour and half makes a big difference!  Since the students I teach think pajama pants or hot pants with their favorite t-shirt is appropriate to wear to class, it doesn’t take much to look more professional than them, but thankfully on Fridays I am sans teaching duties.  This means a little less effort goes into my wardrobe for the day, but no hot pants.  Ever.

GH founder Chris Canales

When I was in high school, Fridays meant one thing.  Friday night football!  Going to the games was very important in order to maintain a thriving social status back in the day.  Oh, and my brother played on the team so I would occasionally pay attention to the actual game in order to get my parents to pay for my ticket to get in.  Luckily my brother was never seriously hurt while playing but, Gridiron Heroes is a non-profit that is dedicated to helping high school players who suffered serious spinal cord injuries while playing.  In 2001 senior Chris Canales suffered a spinal cord injury during the fourth quarter of his final regular season game, and lay motionless on the field for 19 minutes.  Over the next year Chris fought for his life and battled to learn how to live his new life as a quadriplegic.  When he saw another player suffer a similar injury he decided he wanted this athlete and his family to have the support that was missing during his own rehabilitation.  Thus, GH was born in order to give immediate and long-term support and resources to athletes suffering life-changing spinal cord injuries playing high school football.  Chris and his family didn’t want to start an organization that found a cure for spinal cord injuries they wanted to help people live their life in spite of them.  The inspiration that grows inside of a single person can change the lives of thousands if they will just follow their heart.  Chris followed his heart, and his dedication to what is still so important to him moves me.  As a NC State graduate, I have a special place in my heart for Philip Rivers who was arguably the best quarterback during my time in Raleigh.  It turns out that not only is he a great football player, but he’s also a great person too.  Rivers of Hope Foundation was founded by Philip and his wife Tiffany to help orphaned and unwanted children find loving permanent homes.  Family, faith, and football are Phil’s top priorities, and I can only imagine how difficult it must be to manage the five kids of his own with the adorable kids of RHF.  But he’s Philip Rivers, so I’m pretty sure he can manage.  I mean he did win the Gator Bowl for State back in 2002 so he can do no wrong in my book, but I think you’ll agree that he does a lot of good.

Gridiron Heroes Donation

Rivers of Hope Foundation Donation

So here’s to you Casual Friday!  You give us a chance to let loose and put on that cute top we just bought.  Actually you wear a bunch of hats.  Football Friday, TGIF, Fiesta Friday, ect. ect.  Basically everyone is in love with you no matter what nickname you have because you mean the weekend is here!  Thank you for showing your face every week, even if it does seem like it takes you FOR-EV-ER sometimes.

Week 39-What’s today again? Day 2-Jersday

That’s right folks, today is no longer known as Thursday, it is officially Jersday!  In case you’re still not sure what that means, it means that my night has been taken over by the Jersey Shore on MTV.  I can’t say that I’m proud of the fact that I can’t get enough of these fist pumping alcoholics, but sometimes trashy television is the perfect ending to a long day in the ivory tower.  And judge me if you want to but I think Vinny and Pauly D are absolutely hysterical.  I think the key to watching JS is knowing that while it is entertainment gold, there is (thankfully) so much more to the state of New Jersey than boardwalk fights and clubs with ridiculous names.

It's true, I do.

Even though the cast members of the JS could be considered a breed all their own, they don’t need special protection like some of the other wildlife in New Jersey, and yes there is actual wild animals.  That’ where the New Jersey Audubon Society steps up to the plate.  Founded way back in 1897, they protect birds, mammals, plants, and other wildlife in NJ especially those that are considered endangered or threatened species.  NJAS also encourages the people of NJ conserve and protect the valuable natural habitats of these flora and fauna, and spread the word to others.  NJAS also maintains 34 wildlife sanctuaries across the state, and presents educational programs to the public in its ten facilities.  I mean, New Jersey is the Garden State for a reason guys, I have even seen some beautiful areas with my own eyes!  For those of you who don’t watch the show, on the first season Snooki was hit in the face by a young man at a bar.  Clearly, this is no okay and organizations like Jersey Battered Women’s Service are there to help victims of this senseless violence.  JBWS works to prevent victims of domestic violence, and create a community that refuses to tolerate any type of violence between partners or within families.  JBWS has a 24-hour hotline, counseling services, a safe house, batterer’s intervention services, children’s services, and the list goes on and on.  For over 35 years JBWS has worked to keep New Jersey safe, and they aren’t stopping anytime soon.

New Jersey Audubon Society Donation

Jersey Battered Women’s Service Donation

So here’s to you Jersday!  You may have started with a small following but now you’re a pretty big deal.  You’re given new meaning to “Cabs are here!” and “It’s t-shirt time!”.  Once we’ve made it to you, our problems from Monday and Tuesday seem so far away.  You’re the prequel to Friday, so people already love you for that. Thanks for being so cool, even before JWow and Pauly D spray tanned your image.

Even the JS likes to Do Something!

Week 39-What’s today again? Day 1-Hump Day

It’s officially all downhill from here folks.  We have climbed over Monday and Tuesday and we’re sliding down the back side of Wednesday.  Only two more days left until the glorious weekend.  I overheard several people greet their friends with a “Happy Hump Day” as they passed them on the way to class today.  I funny thing is, I knew it was Wednesday but hearing that it was hump day automatically put a smile on my face.  Hey, if you can’t make the best out of the day you’re in then what can you do?

Hump Day mascots!

So I knew I wanted to write about this since this morning, but the rest of my day was dedicated to figuring out what in the heck kind of charity would fit with today’s theme.  Luckily my days as a Teaching Fellow at the Bronx Zoo came back to me and I remembered that there is one particular animal that has a hump, or two.  That’s right, camels!  Camels are actually the eighth most endangered large mammal on the planet, but the Wild Camel Protection Foundation is working to change that.  WCPF is also the only organization that has the specific mission of saving the camel and preserving its unique habitat from being destroyed.  Founded in 1997, WCPF works in the Lop Nur Nature Reserve in Northwest China and the Southwest of Mongolia to help the population of wild camels thrive.  There are over 2 million domesticated camels in Asia compared to the 950 camels that are living naturally in the wild.  So hopefully now on Wednesdays you’ll think, “Yay it’s hump day and I need to make sure those wild camels don’t become extinct.”  Even though it’s only shares a name with this beautiful animal, the Camel Springs Conservation Easement is also a haven for animals living in northern Washington state.  The 560 acre preservation site is situated around McCartney Creek, which is critical in proving water for one of the largest shrub-steppe habitats left in the state of WA.  CSCE is just a small piece of the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust that is devoted to protecting the clean air and water, thriving wildlife population, and beautiful natural areas in Chelan and Douglas counties.  I love small local organizations like CDLT that protect specific areas of our beautiful country so I can enjoy them one day.  That sounds a little selfish but you know what I mean.  I think sometimes we forget how much natural beauty surrounds us in our own 50 states, but we have to be sure that it stays that way.

Wild Camel Protection Foundation Donation

Chelan-Douglas Land Trust Donation

So here’s to you Hump Day!  You’re right up there with Friday in my book, because you represent the great accomplishment of making it halfway through another week.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you’re that little reminder to push through for just a couple more days.  And let’s face it, bars and restaurants must love you because they always have great specials when you’re around.  Thanks for breaking up the week for us, having such a fun nickname.  

Week 38-Back to school, Day 7-Laboratories

I had  a serious case of the Mondays, but after some great encouragement via Facebook and text messages from some great people I had a terrific Tuesday!  I didn’t lose my coffee cup, I taught my first two labs in the Biology department of WVU, and I wore my new jeans that I’m in now in love with.  Teaching those two lab sections was definitely the highlight of my day though.  It’s always a little scary when you’re giving a presentation to a group of people, but so far the kids seem eager and I love watching them learn.  Some people say that those can’t do, teach, but anybody who has ever taught knows that those who teach, do make a difference.

Laboratories all over the country are where the nitty-gritty research to end serious diseases happens.  The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was found in 1890 and they lead the way in efforts in molecular biology and genetics to generate new information that will yield better way to diagnose and treat cancers, neurological diseases and other major human health issues.  CSHL was first founded as a teacher-training laboratory for biologist, but has evolved into a highly respected molecular biology and genetics research facility.  Thousands of scientists come to CSHL every year to participate in their renowned Meeting and Courses program.  Discovery and education go hand in hand for CSHL, which is something I can definitely appreciate.  The students in my class will learn all about genes this semester during lab, but they probably don’t know about Jeans For Genes Day in October.  JFG is all about raising funds and awareness for children who are born with genetic disorders.  One way they accomplish their mission is by giving schools educational resources to share with all of their students.  It is hard enough on these children to learn to live and thrive with their individual diseases, the last thing they need are other insensitive kids making them more uncomfortable in their own skin.  Plus this gives me one more excuse to wear my jeans to teach.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Donation

Jeans For Genes Donation

So here’s to you laboratories!  You have been a part of my life since high school, and you’ve only gotten better with age.  It doesn’t matter if you are Biology, Animal Science, Microbiology, or Biochemistry because just learning from you is enough to make my day.  I mean you’re the place where we get to dissect, replicate, grow, and experiment in brand new ways.  Thank you for giving us a place to be a kid again.

Week 38-Back to school, Day 6-Tomorrow is only a day away

I know I usually start off writing about something really positive that happened over the course of my day, but today is not that day.  Even though today was the first official day of classes at WVU, my one and only class was moved to Wednesday.  I lost my travel coffee mug.  I waited in line for 30 minutes for two little CDs at the bookstore.  My access card to get into my new laboratory isn’t activated yet.  I think you get the point.  So after I got home, sat down, had some delicious Mexican pizza made by my wonderful-beyond-words husband, I realized I needed to suck it up.  I’m healthy, I’m happy, and tomorrow is a new day. 

Sometimes the best medicine for today is tomorrow.  The Women of Tomorrow Mentor & Scholarship Program has been helping young women reach their full potential through their unique mentoring program since 1997.  WOT pairs extremely successful professional women with at-risk teenagers in public high school for monthly mentoring sessions over a period of three or four years.  The mentors of the WOT program are judges, doctors, lawyers, executives, entrepreneurs, and even airplane pilots that want to make sure these young women know the possibilities that lie ahead of them.  Over 2,000 teenagers are reached in 99 schools across South Florida by WOT’s network of 250 mentors.  Everyone needs someone to look up to so they can visualize how much better their tomorrow will be compared to today.  Something I’m really looking forward to in my tomorrow (like a lot of tomorrows from now) is having kids.  Kids for Tomorrow knows how valuable kids are to our world so they work to bring educational opportunities to developing countries.  Their projects in Kenya and Cambodia focus on primary grades, and brining a holistic approach to solving the problems facing these nations.  KFT wants kids to have a safe and inspiring learning environment but they know that they also need access to clean water, affordable and healthy food options, and the involvement of their local community in order to sustain projects.  I may not be a kid anymore, even though I kind of pouted like one today, but I still see a bright future ahead of me.

Women of Tomorrow Donation

Kids for Tomorrow Donation

So here’s to you tomorrow!  You were the only thing getting me through the rest of this long Monday.  You are never promised so even though your friend, today, might seem crappy, it could very well be our last.  Even though we should live like you’re ever gonna get here, we should give like you’re never gonna end, because without you there is no future.

What's on your agenda?