Friday, May 1, 2009

Give 'til it hurts...

The boys' elementary school ran a fundraising contest between grades this week: Coins for Cancer. Little did I know this would spark a lesson money management.

Walk with me. Let's chat.

I knew about the contest and provided ample change for the boys to take to school. Each got to take a fist-full of loose change from a jar used for collecting said loose change. This was Wednesday morning, the last day of the contest. Oh, did I mention the contest prize was a pizza party for the classroom collecting the most money?

Wednesday evening, in the driveway.
Me: Jack, make sure you grab your wallet out of the van. You wouldn't want it to get stolen.

Jack: Oh, there's only about six bucks left in it anyway.
(Commentary: Since when did $6 become "throw away money" to a 9-year-old boy?!)

Me: (knowing he had at least $40) What happened to the rest of your money?

Jack: I donated it at school.

Me: WHAT?!

Jack: Yeah. And Charlie gave about $30 or $35...

Apparently, my sons decided it was OK to shell out a total of $75 of their own money for this contest. Granted, it was a fundraiser for cancer -- and the fact that I had a fit about what they did makes me feel like an ogre. (And not the funny kind from Shrek.) Jeff and I not only donate to, but participate in fundraising for very worthy causes. WE should be the big-dollar donors in our house, not the two 9-year-olds and the 7-year-old whose generosity isn't fueled by the thought of helping fight cancer, but rather for securing a pizza party for their respective classrooms.

Thursday afternoon, school
Sam: (breathlessly climbing into the van) My classroom won the pizza party!
(Didn't see THAT coming!)

Me: Well, don't make a big deal out of it in front of your brothers. Just let it be for now.

Jack: (arriving at car) Sam's class won the pizza.
(Not as gleeful as Sam.)

Charlie: (arriving at car) We didn't win.
(Definitely not as gleeful as Sam.)

Me: You guys are missing the whole point of the fundraiser. You donated money to help fight a serious illness, not to eat pizza.

As we drove, I told the boys that in the future, they were to run any and all donations past me, Jeff or their dad. I would've gladly OK'd a $5 donation from each of them if that's what they wanted to do with their money. but the amounts they gave were a bit over the line. If it was pizza they wanted, they could've called Papa John's and ordered a few carry-out specials at $5.99 a pop. That would've fed their class. And then some.

I don't know where I am with this situation. On one hand, I'm upset that they all but opened up their wallets and let someone help himself to their money. On the other hand, they donated to a worthy cause -- but only because they wanted a pizza party. Obviously, this is proof positive that they aren't exactly the financially responsible boys they think they are. And it's a wake-up call for me that we need to do more to teach the value of a dollar and earning/spending money.

Looks like we have some 'splainin' to do. Any suggestions?

By the way, Sam's class garnered something like $503, with $250 coming from one student's parents. Jack and Charlie thought this was in incredible injustice and totally unfair. Their class raised somewhere around $230... so even if that family hadn't donated that lump sum, Sam would still have earned bragging rights.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

It isn't rocket science...

Everyone's buzzing about the swine flu problem. I agree, it's a growing concern, but are you listening, people? It's preventable. All you need to do is use common sense and wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.


In our household, because of the baby, we've been drilling this into everyone's heads -- want to hold the Bobby? Wash your hands. The kids have listened to me harp on this point endlessly. Coming home from school? Wash your hands. Want a snack? Wash your hands. Cough and/or sneeze into your hand? Wash your hands.

Simple, isn't it?

You would not believe the number of people I've seen -- and we're talking grown adults here -- who fail to wash their hands. Especially after using the restroom at work. That is, in a word... disgusting. Work in a certain place a while, and you'll eventually learn who these "non-hand-washers" are. Then you avoid them like the plague. (No pun intended.) The worst part, though, is that you can't always avoid them. Sometimes they just happen to find, and invade, your space -- bringing their nasty, post-toilet bacteria with them. One person in particular, a well-known NHW, used to breeze into the office, all happy-go-lucky and help herself to the bowl of candy on a co-worker's desk. Eeeewww. I don't think I want a mint anymore...

There is nothing more disturbing to me, than being in the restroom, hearing another woman finish her business, then simply walk out the door... Some women probably look at me, my golf-ball sized dollop of foam soap, hot water and roll their eyes. Because, YES, I AM WASHING MY HANDS FOR A FULL 20-SECONDS. JUST LIKE ANY HEALTH PROFESSIONAL WILL TELL YOU IS MOST EFFECTIVE. And to those who turn on the water and quickly pass their fingers through the water, that is NOT called washing your hands. That's called "wetting your fingertips."

Let's review the basics, shall we?
1.) Turn on hot water.
2.) Put a decent amount of soap in your hand.
3.) Rub soap all over your hands, concentrating in between fingers and (especially) around your fingernails, which is often neglected. Useful tip: use one hand to scratch the palm of your other hand. Excellent way to scrub that area.
4.) While you're scrubbing, count to 20. Or sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself. Or out loud if you're feeling confident.
5.) Rinse soap from hands. DO NOT TURN OFF THE WATER!
6.) Grab a paper towel and dry hands. Use paper towel to turn off faucet.*

*In the event there is only an air hand dryer, use your elbow to turn off water.

My sons learned about this in Kindergarten. And the adults aren't doing this because.... ?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

At least I have my health...

You know how in my last post I was the loving aunt who dutifully wished her nephew a Happy 17th Birthday? Yeah, well I was just told by my mother that Allen turned 18 today. So, apparently, for me, turning 40 meant the steep decline of my memory. Because I am the first to admit I have never, ever been good at math. There's TWO strikes against me now.

Maybe that's why God gave us a brand-new baby... so I can start over with remedial counting when it comes to candles on birthday cakes. The twins will turn 10 this summer -- uh-oh. Look out. Double digits. Oy vey.

Well, if I can't count and I certainly have some memory challenges... at least I have my health.

I'm not old... HE is.

My nephew, Allen, turns 17 today.

He was my family's first grandchild; my first nephew. I vividly remember walking back to my room at the DG house after class one morning, where my roommate Linda greeted me with, "You're an aunt a month early!" I was a senior in college then, just 12 days from graduation.

Allen will begin college at Montana State University in the fall. He plans to get his degree in earth sciences with a paleontology option.

I don't know when it happened, but the boy grew up. He grew up into a tall (very tall!), kind, respectful young man -- the kind of person I want my sons to grow to be. Of course, they're still young and think the word "poop" is hilarious. But I remember when Allen was that age... so there's hope for them.

Happy Birthday, Allen!


Which is what I was after hearing a knock at the bedroom door Saturday morning, and watching Jack, Charlie and Sam parade in with breakfast for me. In bed. Seriously.

Toast and orange juice have never tasted so good.

Catching up with Depeche Mode

Actually, I'm just catching up with myself. Catching Up with Depeche Mode was the title of the band's November 1985 release, made available only in North America.

And that was your 80s Trivia Minute for today.

Seriously, where has the time gone? Once the whirlwind of activities begin, there's just no stopping until... well, until I absolutely feel like a slacker and make myself quit procrastinating. But a lot has happened since last Friday. For instance, baseball season has officially begun.

See? There's Jack pitching...

... to Charlie.

I will see this happen about 715 times before the middle of July.

If their team performs as well as last years' did, it should be a great season. Last summer, the boys had a terrific team -- too bad they had a bit of tough luck in the final tournament. On the bright side, both Jack and Charlie were chosen for their league's All-Star team. What a proud Baseball Mama I was! That, alone, totally made up for every inning we sat through in the sweltering heat and humidity.