Thursday, March 26, 2009

Volunteer At A School - They Need You

My youngest son is 4 years old. He recently started preschool at a nearby church. I was as excited about this milestone for myself as I was for him. I planned to dedicate my new found free time to working diligently on my current novel. Then I read all the paperwork that accompanied my son's admission. Surprise! I was expected to volunteer in Ethan's classroom at least three times during the school year.

At first, this frustrated me. I went to my selfish place and figuratively had a tantrum that my little piece of freedom was being encroached upon. I didn't stay there very long because I realized that my little boy's childhood is speeding by as fast as lightening and I didn't want to miss it.

Yesterday his eyes lit up and he held my hand as we walked into the school. "This is so awesome, Mom," he said. I helped his teacher, Ms. Kelly, prepare the crafts, serve snack, and clean up at the end of the day. Ethan stayed near me all day and occassionaly blurted out to one of his classmates, "Hey, that's my mom!" Now it was my turn to beam with pride.

I watched the children's reactions when they found out they were making puffy flowers with glue and shaving cream...messy, fabulous fun....and I was thankful to be there and be part of it. It did me a world of good to remember the joys of childhood and how simple life can be if I don't complicate it.

Ms. Kelly appreciated the help and thanked me at the end of the day. I'm going back in May to help her again. Our children's teachers need us - our time, our commitment and our support. Also, our children need us to participate in their education. If they see learning is important to us then it will take on a new meaning to them.

Educators complain that parents use schools as babysitters and surrogate parents. What if adults had to sign a contract to volunteer in the public school where their child attends - like I had to for my son's preschool? Would things be different in that community?

Sign up with a teacher to be a helper for the day. Elementary schools are always looking for volunteers, as are secondary and high schools. Don't be leery of the big kids. They need us, too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Be Part of Earth Hour 2009

Earth Hour 2009 is set for March 28th at 8:30 local time. No matter where you are in the world you can participate. Turn off your lights and any other electrical items for one hour. That's it, just one hour without electricity. Can you stand it? Last year my family and I turned off the circuit breaker to our house and went completely black. It felt good to do something for my planet. The kids complained for a few minutes then we began to enjoy the quiet and the peace as we curled up in blankets on our back porch.

My only disappointment was that my city, Las Vegas, did not really participate in Earth Hour 2008. No one seemed to know about this event or care that it was going on. Tourists still walked the glowing neon streets, nothing was allowed to interrupt their fun.

This year is different. The tourists will have a different kind of treat. I'm proud to say that Las Vegas is a flagship city. The list of casinos and business who plan to turn off the neon is impressive and expansive. If they all follow through with their commitment the strip should be dim if not completely black. Now that will be a historic occasion.

I'm kind of sad that I won't be in town. I want to see and participate in this event. But again, where ever I am and where ever you are, you can turn off the lights and make a difference. Just imagine what would happen if we all did this once a week, or once a month?

Here is a link to my post about Earth Hour 2008. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sign Of The Times - Shopping Resale

This post is not about sharks. It's about the clothes I'm wearing while acting silly at Universal Studios.

One of my favorite pastimes is teasure hunting in thrift stores. This is something I've always loved to do, not just when the economy is declining. I love it when a search through racks of clothing produces an expensive designer blouse in perfect shape. I find satisfaction in paying five dollars for it instead of the fifty plus required at the mall.

There are compelling reasons to shop resale. The average family is hurting and must find ways to conserve. It's the perfect time to recycle, reuse, and repurpose. Did you know that every year the average American throw away 68 pounds of clothing. Then we go to discount retailers and buy another 68 pounds of new, cheaply made stuff. Silly behavior on our part - hurtful to the environment and to our pocketbooks.

This brings me back to almost being eaten by Jaws... the outfit I'm wearing in the photo was 100% used, purchased at my favorite local thrift store, Savers.

I love shopping at Savers because unlike some stores of this type it's clean, the items are in excellent shape, they do not over charge, and best of all they donate a portion of my purchase price to nearby charities.

The Savers in Las Vegas, NV where I shop donates to Safe Nest which provides emergency shelter, counseling, advocacy, crisis hotlines, and other services for domestic violence victims.
Since the chain stores inception in the 1950's, Savers Inc. has paid out over a billion dollars to its non-profit allies. And on the environmental front, last year Savers reclaimed 262 million pounds of clothing, saving them from going to the landfill. It seems like a win/win situation to me.

Here's that win/win cycle in a nutshell:

I bring my clothing and used items to Savers and get a receipt to be used as a tax deduction, plus the store throws in a 20% off coupon on my next in store purchase.

They put the best items on the rack. I go back and shop there with my coupon, getting great deals and beautiful, gently used clothing at a reasonable price.

They donate a portion to a charity that benefits families in need and help conserve resources by rescuing perfectly good clothing and other household items from the landfill. I can't think of a more perfect way to shop! Try it and share your experiences with me, here on LifePrints.

Here is a list of Savers store locations around the world.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Back on the Postive Thinking Wagon

This picture of my family and friends watching the Super Bowl commercials makes me laugh. It makes me laugh so hard that my sides hurt...and I need that because I haven't laughed much in the last few months.
Absence of laughter, absence of joy, and abundance of conflict - these are my reasons (excuses) for staying away from LifePrints, the place where I put out to the world how great life can be if we all love and care for one another. I learned a big lesson. It's difficult to write about happiness and compassion when I become consumed with how the people in my life, my house, my family are not doing those things for each other.

It all seems futile and a waste of time.

This morning I got a gentle nudge from Anonymous. This loving person sent a comment to my blog asking where I've been, saying that, "Hey! Three months is long enough. New post please!" Well, that's paraphrasing but I got the point.

I smiled and wondered, "Where have I been?" I asked myself this question with a different attitude besides the pitiful one I've become accustomed to. Now I can tell you that since December...

I've watched fireworks signal the dawning of a new year and swam in a pool full of splashing children on the same cold night in small Utah town.

I shed tears of pride and accomplishment while watching the inauguration of our new president and again during his first address to congress. I recognized the love that passed between him and his wife, so much like the silent understanding that passes between my husband and me.

I climbed sand cliffs with my husband and child and watched the flaming Nevada sun set behind the mountains. Then we played tic tac toe on paper napkins while waiting for our breakfast the next morning.

I sat in the front of a crowded movie theater and craned my neck to watch Edward and Bella fall in love. I marveled at the intensity on my beautiful daughter's face as she watched Twilight play out on the big screen.

Everyday I wear a red and gold glass heart pendant on a black leather cord because it was a gift from my husband - the man who has wiped away many of my tears in the past few months.

I reached out to friends, family, and strangers for help and no one turned me away. There have been phone calls, emails and hugs to carry me through. I'm grateful for each kind word and piece of valuable advice.

I watched through a plexi-glass window while my son pelted his birthday party companions with little exploding balls of paint and relished the fact that I remained unmarked and unbruised behind the glass.

My son who struggles with grades, proudly waved a paper under my nose. It said he had a 97% in Pre-Algebra. We immediately went for ice cream!

My little boy started preschool and beams every time he walks into the classroom.

Despite my troubles, I have much to be thankful for. God bless us all. Thank you to my friends and readers who've let me know how much LifePrints means to them. I needed the encouragement to keep going...and a special thank you to Anonymous for giving me that last needed push.

I have much to look forward to and searching out stories for LifePrints is among those pleasures.