Monday, January 31, 2011

A Beauty-Full Weekend

We all need them from time to time. A weekend to pamper ourselves. Ash and Lys came home for the weekend and we embarked on a girly-girl time of it. Pedicures Saturday morning, side by side looking at magazines and giggling about things from time to time. Lunch on Cannery Row in Monterey. Then shopping at Del Monte Center for the perfect lipstick, an exercise diary, sweet smelling lotions at Bath and Body Works, skin care regime products I've been dying for (or should I say my skin has been dying for).

Lys even fit in a haircut with our favorite stylist and while she was being shampooed and clipped, Ash and I explored a couple of nearby art galleries.

Monterey Museum of Art

Even Frosty got into the act with a trip to the groomers Sunday morning. We thought we needed pampering but he was so shaggy that the groomers said he was like a "doggie makeover". Poor guy was so grateful to be able to see again!

We finished the weekend going to the matinee to see Gwyneth Paltrow in Country Strong, and although we're not big country music fans the movie was good.

Such a relaxing two days and the best part was sharing it with my two daughters!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Plant a Book - Sponsor a Teacher

January heralds that organizing time of year, cleaning out old files, preparing for income taxes. For those of us serving on the Board of Directors for Plant-a-Book International it means preparing and sending out donation receipts to our loyal donors. This has been keeping me busy over the last week. It's a job I couldn't love more because with every receipt I send out I think about how those donations have helped lay the groundwork for a brighter future for a child living in poverty.

We KNOW that education is CRITICAL for the kids living in extreme hardship. How else will they ever be able to pull themselves out of it?

Plant-a-Book International started a Teacher Sponsorship program in late 2009 at Galilee Primary School and Waddington High School in Nairobi, Kenya. We are very happy with the response but our goal for 2011 is to see many more teachers sponsored. Just think -- you are not only helping the school retain a valuable staff member by providing a stipend, but you are helping ALL the children in that classroom benefit from the consistency of a better qualified teacher! Some teacher sponsors take it a step further and send Plant-a-Book funds to purchase for classroom supplies, desks, textbookds or send a care package of pencils or toothbrushes -- in essence adopting the class. Now that sounds like FUN to me!

So pardon my plug for Plant-a-Book today but this is my PASSION. I became involved in child sponsorship and helping children living in poverty 9 years ago -- live it and breathe it. I've worked with Galilee Primary School and Waddington High School (where the teacher sponsorships are) for years, know the school director, have traveled to Kenya and visited the school. I've met the teachers and see the challenges they face, trying to teach large classrooms of students without enough textbooks and visual supports, no copy machines, sometimes not enough adequate desks.

The least we can do is offer these dedicated teachers our support! Think of how many children you will impact through this simple sponsorship (and it's only $45 per quarter -- just $15/month!).Bold
Please visit our website and let me know if you have any questions. And please consider making a difference in the lives of children living in poverty this year.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Holiday Magic!

In the midst of the holiday celebrations blogging time slid right off my plate. The joyous festivities have been on my memory stick, patiently awaiting their moment to be shared -- Disneyland during Thanksgiving weekend, Carmel-by-the-Sea wrapped in red ribbons, favorite ornaments dangling from our tree, a table laden with family favorite recipes. Since it would be a shame to move on without honoring these traditions, I decided to go ahead and share a few memories of the past month.

Let's just say Disney always knows how to do it right. We could literally SMELL the gingerbread cooking in It's a Small World as the little dolls changed their song to holiday favorites.
And what a surprise to walk out of a shop on Main Street and be greeted by SNOWFLAKES coming down (courtesy of Disneyland). Everything was beautifully decorated, the holiday parade was delightful, and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the park at this time of year! Even Cinderella's Castle had a facade of snow and sparkled with lights.

The drive home along the coast from Southern California was peacefully beautiful and I was grateful Ash shared in the driving.
Added in during the holiday activities was an outstanding workshop I attended in Carmel. Not only was my knowledge in the field of Speech Pathology enhanced, but I had the pleasure of being surrounded by the village at its most enchanting time of year.
Finally my dear ol' Dad and daughters arrived! We decorated the tree with all of our beloved ornaments we've collected over the years. Our tree is not particularly sophisticated. There is no theme. But each and every ornament MEANS something to us.

Brenda's Baby Ornament (a friend had this made for me when I was expecting Ash)
Lys's First Christmas and her first grade schoolmade ornament
Pets (cats, dogs and horses) -- the one below is of Bambi, Lys's filly
Little houses that open to hold trinkets (given by my mother to my daughters when they were little)

Momentos from our travels -- everything from Innsbruck, Austria from our travels through Europe to Durango, Colorado and Washington D.C.
And at the top of our tree stands "Angela" -- this angel is from the 50's and adorned my parent's family tree as we were growing up. She lights up. When my mom passed away she was given to me and now Angela (as my sisters and brother and I named her) watches over my family tree. Just below Angela you can see part of a gold locket -- it says "Our First Christmas Together" and was the first ornament my husband and I bought for our tree.

Lastly, jolly old Santa Claus. He's looking pretty good! I LOVE this Santa. He was a gift to me from my parents on my 5th birthday (since I was born Christmas week) and I was thrilled to get him. He had been sitting on a shelf at Sunday's Market (a little corner dime store a few blocks from my childhood home) and I'd been eyeing him for a couple weeks. He still winds up to move back and forth, ringing his bell.

2010 provided lovely memories.