Friday, February 27, 2009

Frequent Philanthropy Friday

I have decided to change my Friday theme. It will now be known as Frequent Philanthropy Fridays. I mean, who are we kidding here. I am a lazy person and writing is no exception. I cannot be expected to write every single Friday. Why do you think I gave myself until 40 to write a book? I set that deadline when I was 15! No really. I know I have two kids and my husband works weird hours and I feel like a single mom half the time, but none of that is an excuse for the dishes that don't get done, the washed clothes that don't get put away, and the dinners that do not get made. Unless you count cereal. I do slice the bananas! Anyway, the really real truth is that I am a sloth. Seriously. Ask my husband. I do pick up my clothes and make the bed and things like that. I'm not a slob. I am just a little more laid back than some. Most. Whatever. At least I admit it and admitting it is the first step to fixing it, right?
So I plan on occasionally, excuse me, frequently, telling you about a charity or organization that I give to, love, etc on Fridays. Frequent Philanthropy Fridays. But not this one. Happy Friday!

(FYI: Seeing as how I am almost 38, my new deadline for writing a book is 50. I just found out that my magnificent and extremely original idea for a book was recently done by someone else. Obviously, someone less lazy than me. Makes sense. And the reviews were exactly what I had expected, "this is such a new take on this", "he really made me understand what he has gone through", "so different from all the other books I have read on this subject, and that's a lot of books", blah, blah, blah!)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Philanthropy Friday

Okay, I know it is not Friday but I am always late so... I wanted to say that I think giving to those in need is something everyone should do, not only because of like God and all, but also because it really feels good to give. You don't always know how the other person is feeling when they get your gift, but the feeling you get from knowing that you might have helped someone through a tough week or month or even given someone a brand new shot at life is an incredible feeling unlike any other. Honestly, even those people who are a bit tight fisted with the dough will feel a sense of oneness with the world and things greater when they give. So, to highlight the spirit of giving, every Friday, I am going to tell you about either an organization that I give to or would like to give to, or relay a story of my experience giving.

This week I wanted to tell you all about Kiva. It is an amazing organization that my sister told me about last year. Everything is done online through their

Kiva is an organization that locates people in other countries that need loans that could not otherwise get them. Basically it's lending money to poor people, low-income entrepreneurs. The loans are micro loans so the repayment doesn't typically take more than a year or so, and you can pick and choose who you want to lend to and how much of their loan you want to fund. They have many profiles on the website detailing the information of each individual such as why they want the loan, what the repayment terms are and whether they have borrowed before. You can loan the entire amount or a small fraction and then others can also donate. The best part is that you can transfer money through
Paypal and then the local organizations in these countries do the rest. Periodically, you will be sent updates as to how things are going with these entrepreneurs and how much of their loan they have repaid. As they repay the money you can begin to loan this money out to others in need. So even if you only have $25 or $50 to give you can still touch many, many lives.

What I like about this organization is that you are helping people not just to survive, but to thrive. So, we give to Kiva. Right now we are helping three different people. One person is a mom who needs to add another room on to her tiny makeshift house in Mexico for a baby she is expecting. Another woman is a carpenter in Bolivia who wants to expand her business. And the third entrepreneur is a woman in Cambodia who wants to add more crops to her small farm and would also like to add new inventory to the little store that she runs from her home. These people might be touched by our help but I am also moved to see the drive each has to overcome their circumstances and better their lives and the lives of their children.

So go to Kiva, open up an account, and change someone's life forever.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Here Fishy, Fishy

I routinely forget things. I have ADHD and I routinely forget things. I don't mean routinely forget as in sometimes I leave the clothes in the washer and forget to dry them. I mean routinely forget as in at least once a week I put the water and soap in the washer, throw the clothes in, go to grab one more shirt that I really need to wash for tomorrow, stop and see that a friend wants to chat on Facebook, and forget to wash not only the shirt I need, but also forget to close the washer lid so that the clothes already set to be washed sit in water for hours until my husband goes into the garage for a screwdriver and sees the washer, full of water and clothes. I don't walk into a room and forget what I came to get. I can't even get out of the first room to go get something before forgetting the thing I am going to get in addition to remembering five other things I need to remember but then forgetting those things by the time I get to the room I was going to in the first place. Are you following here?
Once on a trip with some friends my forgetfulness struck again. We stopped to get some coffee. As we were all getting into the car my sister and I shared, I placed the coffee on the roof of the car so I could get situated first. Do you see it coming? Yes, I forgot the coffee. I forgot until we had already driven several blocks, made a turn and were waiting at a stoplight. As I looked to my right I noticed the person in the car next to us was pointing to the roof of our car and laughing. Then I remembered. I reached out the open window, calmly grabbed my coffee cup, and took a sip. Honestly, I am more than a little surprised that I have yet to forget one of my children somewhere.
Anyway, since I have the ADHD curse I burn food all the time, because of course I forget I am cooking something five minutes after it goes into the oven. Whenever I make cookies I always have one batch that is larger than the rest, because I usually burn at least one sheet of them. Then to compensate for the loss I have to make the rest smaller. I also often serve things blackened. Really, I am not as into Cajun cooking as one might think. It's just the burning thing again.
But not tonight. No, no! Tonight, I am beaming with the pride of a soccer mom whose son just scored his first goal. I cooked myself some salmon for dinner and it came out perfectly cooked. No one was here to share in my delight but that's okay. I triumphantly enjoyed my delicious salmon and toast anyway. I had toast because I forgot to make any vegetables to enjoy with my salmon but it matters not. I ate the best salmon I have ever cooked!! It really is the little moments in life that make it all worth it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Celebrate good times, come on!

I am not a girlie girl. I know I have said this before. It's not like I don't like wearing dresses or makeup. I do enjoy those things. And I don't particularly care for many sports, so I'm not really tomboyish either. But I do know that you will never see me truly enjoying extended shopping trips, creating Christmas letters, or spending hours creating scrapbook masterpieces. And I really dislike party planning. I love parties but the planning produces much anxiety in me. I never really thought I would have to plan parties but I overlooked the fact that as a mom I would be spending many hours on just that.
Every year, around this time, I start to stress about my son's upcoming birthday in March. Maybe it would be easier if his birthday were in July, for example. The choice would be so obvious. Pool party! Or in October, dress up party! But March? Not only do I have no idea what theme to do most years, I also don't know whether I should plan an inside or an outside party because March weather is as unpredictable as my son's temper. And if you think you can get away with having a child's party without a theme, you are just as naive as I once was. Everything is sold in themes. Plates, cups, napkins, even the invitations. There's no getting around it. Throw a birthday party without a theme, using plain colored products and homemade invites, and you will look like an amateur, which the perfectionist deep within me cannot accept.
So far, I have been pretty lucky when it comes to the weather aspect. His first birthday was held outside and despite a little excessive wind that practically blew the table decorations away, the party went just fine. It was a rubber duck party and I had planned on making a ducky in a tub cake. The heat inside my tiny little house caused the frosting to melt and the bathtub water, i.e. jello, never quite set right. But because of my anxiety, I had already bought a "just in case I am not as talented in the cake decorating department as I would like to imagine I am" cake, fortunately, so the day was saved!
His second birthday party, I held outside and we managed to have a perfectly sunny sky that day. Our theme was Mickey Mouse and his cake, bought from the store, looked fabulous! We ordered about six pizzas too many so we ended up wasting a lot and begging people to take some home. But the favors did look really cute. And my sisters, always one step ahead of my thinking, brought good wine. So everything was great, in my slightly buzzed opinion.
His third birthday party was a little rough. Again I held it outside but at my current home. Having never lived through a March here, I didn't realize that it would be so hot outside, so my guests were sweating quite a bit. And opening presents inside was not too much cooler since there were so many people jammed into my little living room. But the theme worked great. There were only four kids, including my son. The theme was pirates at my son's request. We dressed the kids up as mini pirates with painted on moustaches, temporary tattoos, hook hands, fake pirate earrings, and bandannas. The kids played pirate games, ate pirate boat hot dogs, decorated treasure chests and then went on a treasure hunt to rival all others. (It helps to have acreage and lots of clutter inside the home to properly hide clues.) I even bought real shovels for the kids to dig out the treasure chest that I had my husband bury in the dirt. It was a great time and the kids celebrated their loot with a cake, made 100% by yours truly, shaped like a pirate ship, complete with big sails, cannon balls, a plank, and even mini pirates. (Really, no applause is necessary.)
Last year the little man had met more friends here, so we held the party at a local children's museum and just did cake and ice cream. Against my better judgement and at my husband's urging, I did not serve any appetizers and I think the guests might have been a little hungry by the time the cake was served. And the cake. It was really pretty when we picked it up. Unfortunately, the cake department at Von's had just finished decorating it. If you know anything about transporting cakes then you know you should always chill a cake before easing it into a box and placing it in your car. My husband drove pretty cautiously, but the cake still slid to one side and the top layer almost fell off! I was very frustrated at this huge mistake the bakery staff had made, and that just made me even more anxious than I already was. But the kids seemed to have a lot of fun running around and trying out all the museum had to offer and everything looked very Spongebobish. My big bargain find was packages of crabby patty candies at the dollar store, to put in the goody bags. I had almost ordered the same product from an online party store, for five times the price. Plus the weather was on the cold side so we made a good choice doing something indoors.
Was I relaxed at any of these parties, you ask? Not even close. I should seriously consider asking my doctor for Valium just to make it through the day, I am that anxious. I worry too much about others comfort and enjoyment I guess, to truly enjoy the time. And of course, I also spend great amounts of time trying to catch perfect candid shots with my mid range, sometimes takes good photos sometimes blurs the hell out of them, camera. It is exhausting and I begin dreading the process every December.
And now we arrive at this year. I am even more stressed this year. We took the little guy bowling recently and he really enjoyed it so I thought, what about a bowling party? But part of my dilemma is that we live so far away from all the fun indoor places. The other part is that his preschool class has 19 other students. 19!! That's a lot of kids!! Do I have to invite them all? Would it make some kids feel bad if other kids talked about his party and they had not been invited? And I have seen some of these kids families. More than a few of them have several young kids. One even has eight kids. Are they automatically invited as well, by default? Do I tell the parents to drop off their child so I don't have to pay for families of 5 or 6 to attend? This isn't a wedding reception for heavens sake. But then who watches all these 4 and 5 year olds?
Not only do I have to consider who to invite, but I have to think about where to have the party and then there is, of course, the concern over theme. My son changes his mind on a weekly basis. First it was a Star Wars party. Then it was a dog party. Then a Lego party. I think we are back to desiring the dog party this week but I think he needs to make a choice soon so I can start shopping, (insert sarcasm about my feelings towards shopping here). And if these things are not enough to stress a mom out and make her want to pack up her things in her mom car, drive off and never look back, I just found out during a parent meeting at his preschool last week, that there are four other kids in his class that also share a March birthday. That means five kids having parties spread out over four weekends. I am no math whiz but that does not seem like good odds that his favorite playmates will be at his party. I think I might need to get that Valium sooner than I thought.
I am just hoping to make it through another party planning season without losing my mind. I think I might offer him a trip to Disneyland in place of a party. The cost will probably work out to be the same, maybe even cheaper. I do know one thing. God was smiling down on me when he gave me the baby girl. Her birthday is in July which blesses me doubly. Easy party planning (pool party, duh) and no cupcakes required for school. As long as they don't start doing year round school up here, at least my summers will be relaxed.