Friday, December 21, 2012

Seven Quick Takes: My Random Sick Thoughts

~~ 1 ~~

I am sick, and I do not respond well to decongestants. This morning, I've already caught myself mixing up who's and whose and thinking that $456 + $4 = $500. So be warned, and be charitable. :p

~~ 2 ~~

If I were a better person, I would write a post about how my sickness is nothing compared to the suffering of waiting orphans, or the grief of families who have lost children, or something like that. But I'm me, so I'm just going to say boy, do I hate being sick.

~~ 3 ~~

Aisha made it over her $1000 goal! Thanks so much to everyone who contributed! If you still want to contribute, you can do so, or you can pick one of the many children who are still far away from their goal. Donations can be made here. (Speaking of which, there's currently a bump match--for every child that gets bumped over $500, one child will get bumped over $1000, up to a total of $3000 donated.)

~~ 4 ~~

Still looking for Christmas presents? Look at They choose a different charity every week and sell clothing. $7 of every item sold goes to the chosen charity. This week's charity is Reece's Rainbow! The goal is to reach $25,000 raised by December 24th. The shirts are pretty cool-looking--I'd buy one if I weren't broke.

~~ 5 ~~

I am home for Christmas, and it is good to be home. I have almost all my Christmas presents bought and wrapped.

~~ 6 ~~

Speaking of presents, I stupidly left half the supplies I need to finish K's Christmas present in my dorm. Oh well. I will have at least a week to finish in between getting back to school and seeing him.

~~ 7 ~~

Please pray that Russia does not finalize the ban on international adoption that they are working on passing right now. This would be devastating to so many people, most of all the orphans.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Book review: Brief Light

An embarrassingly long time ago, I told my internet friend Sally Thomas that I would trade a review of her new book for a free copy of it. (Do I have to put in some kind of legal disclaimer here? She did not pay me, but I get to keep the book. Unless she doesn't like this review, in which case she can ask for it back! Just kidding, she didn't say that.) The book is called Brief Light: Sonnets and Other Small Poems and you can buy it right here.

I warned her, and I'll warn you, that I don't really know anything about poetry. I can more or less check if something scans, and I can tell you whether or not I like something, but that's about it. Nor do I really know what a proper poetry review consists of.

Disclaimers over. I really liked this book. The first poem, "Choice," literally took my breath away. There were other poems like that, to which I had an immediate emotional reaction. (These were mostly the ones about kids. Or death. Not sure what that says about me.) Others I had to read a couple times to understand. And there are also some that, to be honest, I feel like I just didn't "get". This is a problem that I always have with poetry (and certain kinds of prose too). I have trouble getting past literal meanings. But I found Brief Light to be--I don't want it to sound like I think it's shallow, because that is NOT what I'm trying to say at all. But it did seem more accessible to me than a lot of the modern poetry I've read. Very few of the poems left me with that "What the heck was that about?" feeling.

So I recommend this book, even if you aren't much of a poetry person (I tend to like the kind of poetry whose meter is so strong you can bounce up and down to its rhythm, with a very predictable rhyme scheme, and this is not that kind of poetry). It is very cheap (less than $7.00) and has some very moving poems. It's definitely a book I want to keep and come back to.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Teamwork Tuesday: Carter

I haven't been doing my Teamwork Tuesday posts recently....I am sorry! Unfortunately this will have to be a short one because I have a paper to write.

Little Carter is five years old. He has Down syndrome and needs a family now. His profile says that he is "strong and attentive" and that he shows perseverance. He is learning to feed himself and can pull himself to standing. These are all behaviors that he will lose when he gets transferred to the mental institution. Someone needs to save him from that fate!

Carter is on the angel tree this year. His warrior, Kristi, has a giveaway for him. The top prize is a Samsung Galaxy tablet! Click here to see the rest of the prizes and enter! Please pray for him and donate if you are able.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

In Memory of Henry (Link-up included)

(Image credit Colleen Novit)

It is with a simultaneously heavy and joyful heart that I share with those of you who have not heard that Henry Dobrovits died on Wednesday of complications from surgery.

I went to Mass today with Henry's family as my intention. As I flipped through the hymnal before Mass, I discovered that all the music for that Mass was joyful. And oddly (or not), everything fit.

Our opening hymn. "Have you not seen? All you have needed has been met by his gracious ordaining." Henry "should" have died alone. He was only able to be registered for international adoption because his medical condition was misdiagnosed. And a family saw him, loved him, worked so hard to bring him home. Henry spent the last year of his life in a family. He experienced so much love in that year. It was the hand of God, graciously ordaining that Henry get everything he need.

The Scripture passages. The first reading: "Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb." Henry was called to that feast yesterday. He is blessed indeed. Our responsorial psalm: "I will go in to the house of the Lord, singing my song of rejoicing." How could Henry not rejoice as he entered into God's house?

And oh, the Communion hymn. "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord." Henry gets to taste and see that goodness in a way that we have never experienced. But I am sure that it is not an unfamiliar goodness. God is love, and because of his family, Henry learned what love is. As Henry's soul slipped from his body, he slipped into true love, the place where he is meant to be and for which his family was always preparing him.

Henry is in Heaven now, and all his pain is gone. But my heart is broken for his family. Henry was the youngest of seven. His parents and his siblings miss him terribly. They desperately need our prayers.

A collection for Henry's medical and funeral expenses is being taken up via chip in in the top right corner of this blog. I have created a link-up so that Henry's family has an easy job finding lots of posts for their child when they feel ready to read them. If you have a post about Henry, please feel free to add it here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Auction for Angels is live!

Some of the other Angel Tree warriors and I have set up a joint fundraiser. We didn't have enough items to each have our own auction, so we clubbed together and made one big one. Here are the items that I'm selling for Aisha:

Hair clips that my sister made. (Side note, my family is awesomely supportive of my obsession desire to help orphans.)

Some baby booties, knitted by me.

That elephant, of course.

Some books.

Click here to view the auction! Place bids by commenting on the photo. If you don't have a Facebook account, comment on this post with your bid amount and a way to get in touch with you.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Seven Quick Takes: Angel Tree Edition

~~ 1 ~~

Good morning and welcome! This week all my takes will be about the Angel Tree fundraiser, which has officially started! (Don't know what Angel Tree is? Find out here.) The page where you can see running totals is UP. You can see it here. It updates every 15 minutes. That's fine, I wasn't planning on getting any homework done for the next two months anyway.

~~ 2 ~~

Please pray for success! I forget to say this sometimes, but it's actually the most important part of any fundraiser I do. Don't think that if you don't have money, you can't do anything. Praying helps more than donating money (although if you feel moved to do both, PLEASE FEEL FREE. Haha).

~~ 3 ~~

Donations made through the Angel Tree link, Aisha's profile page, or either of the boxes on the right side of this blog are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE. Isn't that awesome? If you donate $35 or more, you can choose to receive a Christmas tree ornament with Aisha's face on it. Totally going to do this when I get paid. If I had $7500, I would buy one for each child on the Angel Tree. *sigh* Maybe after I marry my software engineer!

~~ 4 ~~

Don't want an ornament? Go check out my fundraisers! Most of them still have no purchases and I don't know why. These would make great Christmas gifts. And everyone knows someone who drinks fair-trade coffee, right?

~~ 5 ~~

Another way to help without money: Share! Everybody's got at least one friend who has money and would be willing to put it to a good cause like this one, or else a friend who wants something I'm selling. So please spread the word!

~~ 6 ~~

Keep your eyes peeled for an auction featuring handknit stuff by me. (I have it on good authority that the bidding for my elephant is going to be intense.) There will also be baby booties! And uh, I haven't decided what else. Haha. Stay tuned.

~~ 7 ~~

I'm also working on getting enough stuff knit up to open a store in the Reece's Rainbow Christmas Craft Mall. A lot of crafters have collaborated to make buying homemade gifts that support orphans easy. Go check it out! (I don't know if you need a Facebook account to see it. If you want to purchase something but don't have a Facebook account, leave me a comment!)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Knitting: Elephant for Aisha! (and general fundraising)

I just finished the stuffed elephant that I have been knitting to raise money for Aisha. I am pretty pleased with how it turned out! What do you think? More photos are available on the Ravelry project page. (If you knit or crochet and you aren't on Ravelry, you should be! Their pattern database is just about the most awesome thing the internet has to offer.)

I'm going to be selling this on a Facebook auction. I'll post the link here once it's up! My next project is also for this auction for Aisha--a set of baby booties. Stay tuned for those.

Random side notes: Happy Halloween! And go check out Gertie's family's blog. They have their first fundraiser: Nursing Cookies and Running Cookies. Don't know what those are? Neither did I. Go check it out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Teamwork Tuesday: Wesley

I know, I know, I'm so bad at keeping up with these....some is better than none, right? Today's Teamwork Tuesday child is Wesley.

Wesley is eleven or twelve. He has albinism and associated vision issues. Despite his disability, he likes playing outside, especially with cars and balls, watching cartoons, and listening to stories. Poor little guy needs a family now!

As always, pray, share, donate. Wesley's grant fund is here. And Wesley's prayer warrior is holding a giveaway for him! If you donate, you can be entered to win some gorgeous jewelry here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

7 Quick Takes, The I Don't Want To Do My Homework Edition

~~ 1 ~~

Yes, this is just procrastination. No judging please. It's better than Facebook because at least I'm creating output.

~~ 2 ~~

My current knitting project (an elephant which I am going to sell for Aisha) had stalled due to a lack of stuffing, but I went on an excursion with a friend to get some and I'm back in business. Body and two legs are stuffed and sewn. Pictures coming soon.

~~ 3 ~~

With respect to that craft store excursion, it is not a good idea to make a non-time-sensitive trip off campus after lunch on the day of a 3:30pm football game for one of the most famous teams in college football when they are undefeated. Traffic patterns get changed and cops try to convince you to park in a field and tell you that they don't know what to say about the fact that you have an on-campus parking sticker and it might take you twice as long to complete the last 1/2 mile as it did the rest of the drive. Just saying for your edification. I of course would never try anything that stupid.

~~ 4 ~~

Poor little Kurt still needs his family. Someone please go get him so I don't have to find a social worker who will approve a homestudy for a newly-married 22-year-old couple to adopt a seven-year-old. And yes, if the time comes and he is still waiting I will do that. Please don't make him wait that long.

~~ 5 ~~

Go check out my fundraisers! Most of them still have no purchases and I don't know why. These are all useful and would make great Christmas gifts. (I'm thinking of buying some pasta for my brothers, who like making pasta for breakfast...don't tell them!)

~~ 6 ~~

Wow, I got all the way to six before I ran out of stuff to say! This might be a record. Ummm...go give Gertie's family some money. They have $10 in their fund. Gertie had $215.86 in her grant, and Gianna had $100 in hers. That leaves about $29,675 still to raise. Even $5 will make a difference.

~~ 7 ~~

Shoot, this is the last take. I guess I should go do my homework now.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fundraiser: Fun Pasta!

I've just started a new fundraiser with Fun Pasta Fundraising. This is a company that makes pasta in all kinds of fun shapes. I've posted a picture of the music-themed pasta, but you can get pasta themed from everything from breast cancer support to your favorite college sports team. If you don't like making pasta, they also sell chili, soups, and cookies.

40% of your purchase will go to Aisha's fund. Please go check Fun Pasta Fundraising out!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


This might be the blog post I've been most excited to write. GERTIE IS ON MFFM! A FAMILY IS COMING FOR HER!

Thanks be to God. That's all there is to say. Thanks be to God.

Update 10/19: Gertie's family has a profile now! They are also adopting a little girl named Gianna. You can donate to help them here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Help Save a Life (or Two or Ten)

A few requests today.

The first is extremely quick. Reece's Rainbow is in a contest. If they get the most votes, they will get $50,000 to help save orphans' lives. Click here to vote for Reece's Rainbow!(You must be 21 because it's a wine company.) Vote once a day, every day, until October 31st. (Some people have reported that their cookies allow them to vote more than once a day--please don't do that, because Cultivate Wines can check that kind of thing and they could disqualify RR.) Want to know which kids are going to receive the money in their grants if Reece's Rainbow wins? Click here.

The second request: As you know, I'm an Angel Tree Warrior for Aisha K. There are still many, many children who need warriors. Please consider signing up. This would be a great service project for a group if you don't think you can do it alone. Here are the girls on the Angel Tree, and here are the boys. (There may be more than one page of children.) Children who don't have a grey image with a starfish next to their info still need warriors. Click here to learn more about the program and here to sign up.

The Flesher family are adopting a child with Cornelia de Lange syndrome (also known as Babydoll Syndrome), a condition that causes mental and physical disabilities. They have been fundraising in their community, but they are in desperate need of funds. Mrs. Flesher also just got hurt. They currently have a matching grant: When their funds reach $2575 they will be given another $1100. Right now they are at $710. If they don't get this money, they may not be able to proceed with their adoption. Please help them out! If you can't donate, spread the word!

Lastly, if you've been participating in the fundraiser for Gertie, September's over! Please count up your electronic change and donate it. So far only three people have put money in, and one of them was me. (I do know that some of you are still fully intending to donate and are waiting on an external factor, so please don't feel insulted if you are one of those people.)

Thanks for reading! If you're sick of reading about money, hang tight--I'm planning out a post on a totally different topic.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The End of the Story

Aisha is cute and chubby. She really doesn't look like a child who needs to be saved.
Saved from what exactly?

Let me show you Aisha's past.

Baby Aisha. Probably born to a mother who wanted her, but was told that she would be impossibly hard to care for because of her Down syndrome.

So Aisha's mother left her in an orphanage, trying to give her newborn daughter a better life.

The baby grew. She turned one. She turned two.

She turned three. She wasn't being starved or beaten. She had enough to eat. What she was missing was a family.

Now the baby is three and a half. This photo was taken in August, less than two months ago.

Shall we keep going? What is the end of the baby's story?

Meet Ksenia. Ksenia wasn't starving either. Then she got transferred to the adult mental institution.

This is Ksenia too. This is what the mental institution does to children.

Maybe that was just that one institution? Maybe that's not a pattern?

If only that were true.

Meet Nathan.
Meet Darina.
Meet Sonny.

So what will Aisha's future be? I don't want to see her turn into an example on someone else's post like this. If she is adopted, she will not be that example. Instead, she will be an example of how love and family save children.

Help me save Aisha. Pray. Share. Contribute to one of our current fundraisers.

(Just to be perfectly clear, my early life history on Aisha is nothing more than an educated guess. I have no real information about her past.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Christmas Fundraiser: Tastefully Simple

Like to cook? Hate to cook? Either way, there's something here for you.

What it is: I'm hosting an online party with Tastefully Simple, a company that sells, as the name implies, yummy easy food.

What you're getting: There are too many options to list them all! Here are just a few: breads, serving dishes, spices, recipe books, cookies, drink mixes....and the list goes on.

How it works: Click here to get to the page of the consultant who set up the party for me. Browse for items you'd like to buy and put them in your cart. At check out, click on "Find Host" and type in my name (Teresa Gorman). Then continue with your purchase. Aisha gets a cut from the purchase price.

Christmas Fundraiser: Flower Power Fundraising

Here's one for all you gardeners.

What is is: I'm selling flower bulbs to help Aisha through a company called Flower Power Fundraising.

What you're getting: Flower bulbs! Right now they're having a deal where anyone who spends $40 or more gets 10 miniature daffodil bulbs free.

How it works: Click here here to go to my store page. Then choose your bulbs and check out. (There are more bulbs available than what's shown on the first page--just click on any one of those and you'll see six pages of options down at the bottom.) 50% of what you spend goes to Aisha.

The picture is the "Spring Garden Collection"--tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, and irises!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Christmas Fundraiser: Just Love Coffee

Are you a coffee addict? Do you know someone who is? Then this is a great fundraiser for you.

What it is: I'm selling coffee through Just Love Coffee, a company that provides fundraising opportunities for adoptive families and those in orphan ministries.

What you're getting: The coffee is organic, fair trade, and hand roasted. It comes from all over the world from sustainable and shade-grown conditions. There are many different types of coffee available, including some unroasted beans if you like roasting your own, and some samplers if you don't know what kind to try. They also sell a CD or two, some apparel, and coffee-related things like mugs, filters, scoops, and coffee makers.

How it works: Click here to get to my store info page. Then click on the button on the left that says "Shop & Support." Select your products, and check out as you would for a normal online purchase. It's that simple! Aisha gets a cut from the purchase price, and 5% of your order also goes to an organization that provides clean water so that fewer children are orphaned in the first place.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Here she is....the big reveal

This beautiful child, "Aisha K" (the name is fake for privacy reasons), is three years old and condemned to a life of neglect and abuse because she lives in Eastern Europe and has Down syndrome. When she turns four, she will be transferred to an adult mental institution and left there until she dies. Her only hope is to be adopted.

Reece's Rainbow is an organization that tries to save as many children from this fate as possible. They do this by raising funds for waiting children and families adopting children with special needs internationally. Their biggest fundraiser each year is called the Angel Tree.

Aisha K is my Angel Tree child! That means that I am going to do my best to raise $1000 for her between November 1st and December 31st. You can help by making a purchase through one of my links, or by donating money to her grant fund, or by participating in one of my other fundraisers.

Click here to view Aisha's profile on Reece's Rainbow.

Click here to view current fundraisers and sales links.

Please pray that my fundraising is successful and that Aisha's family finds her soon.

Thank you!

Teamwork Tuesday: Kate 26HA

I haven't been doing a good job with Teamwork Tuesday recently. But I'm back! (At least for now!) Today's child is Kate. Click here to see Kate's profile on Reece's Rainbow.
Isn't she pretty? She is eleven and a half and described as social, interactive, and liking dress-up. Her only special needs are HIV and "delayed psycho-motor development". Nowadays, thanks to modern medicine, being HIV+ has almost no impact on daily life. It doesn't pose a threat to people around you.
Kate has over $1000 in her grant fund. It would be nice to start an adoption with $1000 less to worry about, wouldn't it? Are you the lucky family to get Kate and $1000? If you are not Kate's family, please consider donating to her fund to help her family out when they find her. If that's not possible for you, please pray for her.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I have a Christmas baby!

Reece's Rainbow has a fundraising program every year called the Angel Tree. Some of the kids on the website are selected as targets for a concentrated fundraising effort. Each child picked has a target of $1000 raised for their grant between November 1st and Dec 31st. You can read more about the program here.

Christmas Warriors are assigned to a particular child and asked to raise at least that $1000 (this is not a legal commitment). I have a child to fundraise for. It's not Kurt, and it's not Gertie. She's a three-year-old (so baby in the loose sense of the word) with Down syndrome. I will release more information about her later--watch this space!

My sister (who blogs here) is planning to help me with some fundraisers, including an auction and a blog giveaway. If you're interested in hand-sewn items, hand-knitted items, jewelry, books, or other such items, I suggest you check back soon. Other ideas I'm playing with include a run at my school and participating in some commission sales things like Tastefully Simple or Just Love Coffee. Got suggestions? Want to help? Let me know!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fundraiser for Gertie!

Please read the whole thing--ways to help if you don't have money are included!

"Gertie" is a little girl waiting in an orphanage in Eastern Europe for a family to adopt her and bring her home. (Gertie is a fake name because of privacy laws.) She was recently listed on the website of Reece's Rainbow, a non-profit organization that raises funds for international special needs adoptions ( Gertie turns five in September. She is currently in a "baby house", but once she turns five, she will be eligible for transfer out of the baby house, and it is very likely that she will not receive adequate medical care in the new place. She may be in a facility that is not designed for young children and in which she is not kept safe. Gertie's special needs are a heart condition, kidney problems, and a gall bladder problem. I don't know the details, but it's very likely that these problems need medical attention that she will not get in an orphanage, but are fairly standard in the US.

It will probably cost about $25,000 to adopt Gertie, and she only has $22.50 in her fund right now. I have committed to being her Guardian Angel, which means that I have promised to fundraise for her and raise awareness of her in the hope of finding her a family and reducing the financial impact on that family. In honor of her birthday, I am having the following fundraiser:

Electronic Change Round-Up
The basic idea here is that for the month of September, you will donate a small amount of money for each purchase you make. Here's how it works:

Every time you buy something, look at the receipt and figure out how much money you would need to round up to the next dollar. Remember that number. At the end of the month, add up all the numbers (or keep a running total through the month if that's easier) and make one lump sum donation to Gertie's grant fund.

Here's an example: I bought gas yesterday for a total of $36.09. That's 91 cents for Gertie. Then I bought coffee later that afternoon: $1.06. 94 more cents for her. Today I bought more gas (I drove about 450 miles this weekend--I don't usually spend this much on gas!): $36.52. 48 cents. So far I owe Gertie $2.33. Make sense? (If you're feeling faint at the thought of that much adding and subtracting, commit to give a flat amount, such as a dollar, per purchase instead. It will cost you a little more, but it's for a good cause and the math is easier.)

To donate to Gertie's grant fund, go here.

If you don't want to participate in this fundraiser, but you would like to donate, please do that at the same link. If you want to help, but you have no money, please share this fundraiser with your friends! And whether you donate or not, please pray that Gertie will be taken care of and that she will soon be adopted into a loving home.

Monday, August 27, 2012

My collection is growing (and matching grant update)

Four-year-olds are like potato chips--you can't have just one. I would like to introduce you to Gertie, my second prayer warrior child.
Isn't she beautiful? Gertie has a heart condition (I think, based on someone else's experience translating the translationese on her page, that it's an atrial septal defect with pulmonary hypertension), a gall bladder problem (no idea what), and a kidney infection. All of these, as far as I know, are or can be fairly dangerous if not treated. She needs a family fast! Please share her around, and please join me in praying for her as well.

Gertie's smile spoke to me at once, and I knew I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about her, so I figured why not make it official. Then I noticed that she is in the same country as Kurt and was born in the same month of the same year. Wouldn't they make great adopted almost-twins?

Matching grant update: Kurt met his matching grant because of the generosity of the community. Thank you to everyone who donated! The check with matching funds has been mailed and should be posted within a week or two.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Matching grant for Kurt!

My precious Kurt has a matching grant! With a matching grant, someone has promised to donate a certain amount of money once that amount of money has already been donated. Kurt's is for $50, which is not huge, but every little bit helps! Once $50 has been donated to his fund, another $50 will be added. He needs to hit $111. After matching funds have been added, he will be at $161! When I first started praying for Kurt in early February, his grant fund was EMPTY. Let's not miss this chance for Kurt.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Teamwork Tuesday: Kurt!

Yes, today's Teamwork Tuesday child is my precious Kurt. Those of you who know me know that this child is the Reece's Rainbow child that I love most. If I were eligible to adopt right now, I'd be in process for this child. (Yes, in between classes and homework, and yes, in the knowledge that he would be home before I graduate.)

So, little Kurt. He is almost five years old (his birthday is in September), and he has "very mild" cerebral palsy. CP is a non-progressive condition, and Kurt appears to be in great shape. He can stand up by himself, and he doesn't seem to have problems with his arms. (Maybe his left arm is a little pulled up, but from what I know of CP, this is a problem that physical therapy/stretching can greatly improve or even get rid of.)

Kurt's legs don't seem to be greatly affected either. Here's a photo that shows him either jumping or running, I'm not sure which. He's unlikely to be getting good medical care in his baby house, so with the care that he could get in the US, I wouldn't be surprised if he presented as a physically typical child.

Kurt's Reece's Rainbow profile is here. I've blogged about Kurt before here, and you can find posts from my blog that mention him here. Other people are writing about Kurt for Teamwork Tuesday, and here are their blogs:

Love Leaving Legacy
You Will Go Out With Joy
Tripping Differently
Saving Emmitt and Victoria
Imagery of My Heart
Wyatt's Warriors
One Child One Voice

Leave your link in the comments if I haven't linked to you yet!

Please consider whether you are Kurt's family. Please donate to his fund. Share posts about him on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest board, or social medium of choice. And, most importantly, pray for him. Pray that he finds a family soon. I would love to adopt Kurt, but I pray that I don't get the chance to try. I would hate it if he had to wait 2-4 years for me. Please help me keep him from waiting that long.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

An open letter to summer camp parents

(I work at a chess camp, but most of this letter is probably relevant to other summer camps as well.)

Dear Parents,

Hi, I'm one of the coaches at your son's/daughter's chess camp. Your child is not causing any problems. However, there are a few things you could do that would make my life much easier.

Please don't bring your child too early. I know you have two jobs and six other children in twelve different camps (eleven across the continental US and one in Hawaii). I'm expecting kids to come before camp starts. But bringing your child by at 12:20 when camp starts at 1 is excessive. And if you bring your child early and I'm not there, don't sigh at me and say that you were wondering if you were in the right place when I come in at 12:45. Yes, the room with the chess boards and the sign on the door that says CHESS CAMP is the chess camp. Sorry that I'm eating lunch. Wait, no I'm not. And trust me, your child doesn't want me to take care of him all afternoon without my having eaten.

Don't try to have an important conversation with me when I'm clearly doing something else. See all those kids with their hands up? I have to do something about them. See that girl clutching her crotch? I have to take her to the bathroom. See that little boy taking off before his mother arrives? Gotta fix that too. "Hi, how are you" is great. "Jimmy just loves chess camp" is fine too. "Kevin has been coming home in tears because Stephanie makes fun of him for losing" is not a conversation that I can have in between checking checkmates and making sure that everyone is signed out. If it's more than chit-chat, either ask to talk to me for a minute, at which point I'll get another coach to cover for me and we can step out in the hall, or send me an email, or call me in the evening. (I once had a parent send a letter with her child in the morning. She then sent the father to pick the child up, and the father had no idea of the issue that led to the letter, so we couldn't talk about it. This is unnecessarily silly and non-confrontational. Just talk to us.)

Don't expect me to know who your kid is. There are 35 kids registered for this camp. Each of them has two parents, a grandparent, a friend's mom, and two different babysitters. I don't have a great memory, and I simply can't keep track of who belongs to whom like that. So if you walk in on Monday afternoon and say, "How's he doing?", don't expect me to immediately have an answer full of details on your child's skill and improvement. I don't know who your child is!

Trust me that I have at least some idea of what I'm doing. If you tell me your child is a very advanced player, and I put him in the intermediate group, I'm probably right. I actually do know how to play chess. That's why I work here, not at McDonald's. If you think that your child's placement is wrong, we can discuss this. Key word: discuss. Don't just inform me that I'm incompetent. Yes, I might have made a mistake, or I might have decided to place a borderline child down with the intent to move him up later in the week. But your child may just not be as advanced as you think.

Don't blame me when things are your fault. I've had a parent angry because no one told her that the location of the camp was changed. We apologized, explaining that we had sent an email. She snapped, "Oh, well I got an email, but I didn't bother to READ IT." I'm sorry that you came to the wrong building, but at this point, it's really not my fault anymore.

Don't be late. If you remember only one rule, remember this one. I understand that traffic jams happen, I understand that Google maps can send you through gated neighborhoods and streets that don't exist. Please leave a little early if you don't know where you're going. I do it. So can you. And if you can't make it on time, pull over and call me. 9 times out of 10, your child is worried about you, and informing us that you're stuck in traffic means he knows you're safe. (If you are late, apologize when you show up. If you aren't sorry, just fake it. You should be.)

Lastly, talk to me. I'm fairly reasonable, and I am willing to work with you. If your child absolutely needs to get here at 12:20, I can bring the sign in sheet to lunch and she can join us in the cafeteria. If you have a chronic problem with an aspect of the camp, tell me that on Tuesday, not on Friday. I actually have had parents say on Friday, "He liked the games, but I wish the lessons had been harder. He told me every day that he was bored." If you had told me that on Tuesday, we could have done something about us. He never told us he was bored.

Anyway, I want to reiterate that your child is (usually) a joy to have in class.

Sincerely, Your Child's Chess Coach

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Teamwork Tuesday: Angelina 3G

Look at cute little Angelina! This beautiful four year old girl has Down syndrome and a heart condition. She would really benefit from having a cardiologist examine and treat her. But her greatest need is for love. Angelina needs a family. Older parents and single mothers can adopt her. I believe large families and Canadians are also able to adopt her. Angelina has a grant of $4790.50 that the family adopting her can use towards her adoption. That's a lot of money--probably almost 15% of the total cost!

Click through to learn more about Angelina and to donate to her fund. Discern whether she is meant to be your daughter. Consider whether you can spare her some money. Pray that she finds her family.

Deb at Love Leaving Legacy is Angelina's prayer warrior and advocate. Hop on over to her blog and check out her posts!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Teamwork Tuesday: Heather

Look at this little girl. Compare her size to the sneakers in the background. How old do you think she is? Two? Three?

Actually, Heather is TEN years old and will turn eleven this September. She has Down syndrome, with no other health complications listed.

Poor tiny little Heather needs a family so that she can grow, mentally if not physically. (People who have Down syndrome are usually short, and after orphanage life Heather will probably be especially tiny. But with a family to love her and proper nutrition, Heather will hopefully be able to make up for some of her stunted growth.)

Heather is in an area that welcomes large families and older parents. Several children can be adopted together, even if they are unrelated. Only two trips are required (one by both parents, one by just one). The total cost is around $25k, and the program moves very quickly (average of seven months start to finish).

As always, consider whether Heather is your child. Consider donating to her adoption grant. And pray for her.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Seven Quick Takes

~~ 1 ~~

To follow up from week before last, the visit went great and I am happy about it. Missing K terribly now. I did not anticipate the distance being so tough. My last long distance relationship was nowhere near this hard. I take it this is a good sign?

~~ 2 ~~

My friend sent me a link to a secular website promoting the Creighton method of NFP over artificial contraception. I was pleased, but at the same time it makes me slightly sad. The voices that say, "Don't use contraception, avoid children this way instead!" are so much louder than the voices that say, "It's okay to have eight kids," even in religious circles. (I do know there are legitimate reasons to limit family size so please don't get insulted.)

~~ 3 ~~

My little sister's friend from a play she is in died on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning sometime. It was completely unexpected, and as I write this, I don't know what the cause of death was. Please pray for him and his family.

~~ 4 ~~

I started writing this post on Wednesday and never got around to finishing it until today. Sigh.

~~ 5 ~~

Check out this article: 10 Great Tips to Help You Pray, Not Just Say, the Rosary. Much of the advice is transferable to other prayers as well.

~~ 6 ~~

I have not been doing much knitting lately, and I miss it.

~~ 7 ~~

I've been watching the BBC Sherlock with my family. It's interesting and well-done. I recommend it. (Warning: It would be more accurate to say that it is inspired by Doyle's Sherlock Holmes storied than that it is an adaptation for film. If you can't get over that, don't see it.)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Teamwork Tuesday: Millie

Today Teamwork Tuesday features Millie. Millie just turned eight last month. She has Down Syndrome, crossed eyes (a side effect of the DS), and excema. Surgery and lotion respectively can fix or improve those last two conditions.

Millie likes listening to music and playing outside. But she looks so sad--maybe she doesn't get to do those things very often. Millie needs a family to make her smile! Are you her family? Can you give her some money? Do you have five seconds to pray for her?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Blog blitz for Marcus

Look at this little boy. Isn't he cute? This is Marcus. Marcus is almost ten years old. His birthday is in December, just like mine! Little Marcus is very smart, but because he has spina bifida, he is in an orphanage. He thinks that no one will ever come to adopt him because his legs don't work. Somebody out there is meant to prove him wrong. Is it you? Do you know who it is?

Daneille at The Wonder of Boys has posted about a matching grant and incentive gift cards for Marcus here. Please go check it out and consider donating.

As always, pray. Not everyone has money, and only one family is Marcus'. But everyone has three seconds, and that's longer than it takes to say, "God, please give Marcus his family." (I timed it.) What would happen if everyone said that every day, and meant it?

Friday, June 29, 2012

7 Quick Takes

Never done this before, but I'm feeling random.

~~ 1 ~~

K, B, R, G, and A are coming to visit for the 4th of July and following weekend. We have planned fun activities like fireworks, swimming, bonfires, and swing dancing. I think I might explode if time doesn't speed up a little!

~~ 2 ~~

I wish someone would adopt Kurt. His special need is so mild. And he's so cute. And I know so many people who want him but can't go get him for some reason. Like me, for instance. Sigh.

~~ 3 ~~

My friend just got a new cousin. I wish I had a baby. Biological clocks are frustrating when you aren't married and are in no condition to get married soon. (The problem with long-distance college relationships. Sigh.)

~~ 4 ~~

I went grocery shopping tonight with J. I haven't been grocery shopping in a while. They reorganized the whole store. All the aisles are in a different order. I was rather confused.

~~ 5 ~~

Am I doing this right? I feel like other people have more interesting randomness. Why did I start a blog? Oh yeah, self centeredness. Well, ok, specimen #45922: this post.

~~ 6 ~~

I'm so hopelessly confused by this SCOTUS ruling. Every time I turn around I hear something different. This was obviously planned from the start. The dissent was clearly written to be the majority and only flipped at the last minute. Conservatives should cry. Conservatives should rejoice. This is good. This is bad. This is neutral and we have to see what happens. And I'm just like....uh so did they make the Cliff's Notes yet?

~~ 7 ~~

I swear I'm not stupid, I just don't follow politics enough. Ignorant, uninformed, and irresponsible, sure. But not stupid.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Orphanage 9 needs your help!

Some people from the orphan advocate community are doing a blog blitz (when several people post about the same thing) for Orphanage 9 today. There are seven children listed on Reece's Rainbow from Orphanage 9. (Due to privacy laws, I can't publicly post what country this orphanage is in. Let me know if you would like more information about eligibility.)

These children have varied medical needs: from FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome) to HIV to hydrocephaly. I believe that pictures speak louder than words, and that these children's faces are more important than their diagnoses, so without further ado, I present to you the children from Orphanage 9. Click on the name below each picture to find out more.




As always, three requests: Consider adoption. Consider donating. Pray.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I went swimming today for the first time in, uh, let's just say a while. I swam 1000m in 21 minutes, which is much faster than I had expected to swim. I wish I were better at working out regularly. For one semester, I swam two or three times a week, and I felt great. But now all those benefits have been lost due to not working out and too much junk food. Sigh.

Side advertisement, I use a site called Fitocracy to track my workouts. It's a fun site because working out gives you points towards "leveling up". Leveling up doesn't really do anything, but it's an ego boost and a way to see progress happening even when you don't feel like your body's making progress. It's free, or you can sign up for a paid version. I use the free version; I think the paid one just has some more bells and whistles. If you're interested in joining, click here! (That's my referral link. I don't get money if you sign up through it, but if enough people use it I get a brief period of free access to the paid portion of the site.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Religious education

This article (link to Google cache, as the original seems to have been deleted) on Fr. Simon's blog has gotten me thinking about religious education. I have taught CCD for two years in local parishes, and I mentioned briefly a while back that I have some issues with the curriculum I used last year, and would post about catechesis later. It's officially later. So here goes.

I think there's something terribly wrong with our current religious education system. Some anecdotes: I was confirmed with eighth graders who went to Mass every Sunday (and still do, as far as I know), but did not know what day Jesus died on. (Was it Ash Wednesday?--No, of course not, it was Easter.) I have seen children in white dresses and suits raise their hands to answer during the homily and announce clearly that it's not really Jesus, it's just bread--and then be admitted to First Communion!

Clearly, this is a problem. It saddens me to say this, but I suspect that religious education, for many children, simply does not make a difference. I know that for some kids, religion class is the only exposure they had to religion, and that for some kids, that is enough to make the difference. I'm not suggesting cutting out religion class.

But I will say that I have had 13 years of religion class, using different books from different publishers, including some very highly recommended ones, and not one moment of any of it has ever made me want to be Catholic. I have had college classes that made me want to be Catholic, and conversations with people I love that made me want to be Catholic, and experiences of God that made me want to be Catholic. But if it all came down to religion class? I think I'd be an atheist. Religion textbooks were saccharine and shallow, filled with tacky pictures and lame essay prompts. ("Look at this picture of a bird flying across a sunset. Write a prayer to the Holy Spirit.") If this is the best the Catholic Church can come up with, what does that say about her?

So I see two big problems with the current state of religious education. It doesn't effectively convey the factual information it is intended to teach, and it doesn't effectively convey the beauty of the Church. What can be done about this? I don't know. I wish I did. I would be a better CCD teacher if I did. Here are some ideas. I'd love comments on them.
  • Go back to catechism-based instruction. I do not remember anything from first grade religion class except for the following: Who made us?--God made us.--How did God make us?--In His own image and likeness.--Why did God make us?--To know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in the next. I'm not saying we should turn religion class into children memorizing by rote phrases that they do not understand, but I believe we underestimate the importance of simply being able to state definitions. (What is a sacrament?--It's uh like this special thing that happens like at church? And uh you need a priest? Surely this is not our goal, but this is what we achieve when we water things down too much.)
  • Get rid of the link between sacraments and age. If four-year-olds and eight-year-olds are both common at First Communions, the pressure to "pass" unprepared children will be lower.
  • Involve parents. What if CCD classes involved family homework? "CCD is supposed to be fun, so we don't give homework." No offense, but that's garbage. Religion is not supposed to be easy. If you have to read a Bible story with your mother and talk about it with her, it's not going to kill you. Or her. Obviously it is better to evangelize children through their parents than parents through their children. But I think something like this actually does both. (How to get parents to actually do this is another question entirely. At the church I last taught at, the parents were invited in to join the class for prayer at the last five minutes of class. I usually had two or maybe three parents, out of a class of ten, bother to come five minutes early.)
  • Focus on beauty. (Please don't tell me this contradicts my first suggestion. I will cry if you do.) Teach the kids to sing chant. Introduce them to old prayers. Show them paintings. As a commenter said at a post on Little Catholic Bubble, "Start by seeking the Beautiful. This will lead you to the Good. Eventually you'll end up at the Truth. Then you can dive into all the rules you want."
So those are my initial thoughts on what the problems are and some ways to move towards fixing them. Please tell me what you think, even if you totally disagree. In your experience, what works? What doesn't?

(Side note: In the interests of avoiding self-plagiarism, I feel obliged to state that some of this post, content-wise, has been on my Facebook page, and some of the text is actually just a copy-and-paste.)

Teamwork Tuesday: Alexander

Today's Teamwork Tuesday child is Alexander. Alexander desperately needs a family, because he is suffering from a brain tumor. His brain tumor has affected his vision. If he stays where he is, HE WILL DIE. Moving to the US may be the only way to save his life.
A missionary who visited Alexander's orphanage said that he was "happy, cheerful and sociable...a very lovable kid and very smart." (There's a much longer description if you click through the link to his Reece's Rainbow page.)
Look at this child. You can see that his eyes are damaged in this picture. I'm sure he knows he's dying. But he's still smiling, and his failing eyes are still full of hope.
Someone please go get Alexander! Don't let the spark in his eyes go out. Don't let his tumor destroy his sight. Don't let him die.