Friday, December 24, 2010

to whom much is given....

5. Make a once a month donation to an organization that could use it  - in progress

Well, as of three days ago I'm officially 29.5 years old, so I'm OFFICIALLY at the half way point of this project.  Tonight also just happens be Christmas Eve (happy half-birthday to Shannon!!) so I think it's a pretty timely post.

I'm not one to spout of Bible verses, but this one (Luke 12:48) has always been a favorite of mine: "To whom much is given, much is required."  I don't think you have to be a particularly religious person to appreciate the charity of that verse.  Without going into a big speech of how blessed and lucky I am, I'll just suffice it to say, Sadira and I have a great life and are surrounded by great people.  I know a lot of other single mamas who have to struggle a whole lot more, and I'm not one of them.  We've got a great supportive family, and wonderful friends.  Sure, I'd love a bigger house, or a newer car, or even a flippin' iPhone, but what we have is greater than those material things.  I realize that we have been given many blessings, and with that comes the responsibility to give back.

This is the season of giving, after all, isn't it??

When I put #5 on my list, it was purposeful and thoughtful.  And since I'm coming up on the halfway point of this 30 Before 30 project I figured it would be a good time to check-in on my progress. 

So to recap:

July - St. Vincent de Paul Society's Mobile Clothing Bank delivers clothing, blankets and personal care products to the homeless in Baltimore City.  Sadira and I were able to pull together three huge bags of clothes and give our closets some breathing room.  Here's hoping they like Gap and BabyGap. ;)

August - August was an easy month!  With my office collecting grocery donations and personal care items for the homeless in our area, it was a piece of cake for me to venture down into my stockpile stash of grocery and personal care items I've stocked up from my obsessive couponing and pull together two huge boxes to donate.  And cheers to you if you made it through that insane run-on sentence I just typed. ;)

September - Gaudenzia's Women and Children's facility.  I risked my life and my sanity and with the help of extremely generous donors, we were able to raise $2,235.00 to send me Over the Edge.  A once in a lifetime experience (which shall remain once in my lifetime) that not only raised money for an organization that could use it, but also helped me to conquer a fear and cross #1 off of my list. 

October - After a marathon September, with my friends and family super-ceding my fundraising expectations, I decided to give back to a few fundraisers they were working on.  First, a donation to the Alzheimer's Association in support of my friends Erika and TJ who were walking in honor of his mom.  Secondly, a donation to the Dundalk Youth Service Center where my friend Mary works in support of their annual campaign.  Lastly, a donation to the Susan G. Komen foundation in support of Blanca, whom I joined while she Raced for the Cure.

November - Inspired by my experience volunteering at the Maryland Food Bank with my co-workers, I decided to kick off a Virtual Food Drive with the help of Baltimore Ravens.  I decided to support the effort by holding a yardsale, with all funds raised being donated to the Food Bank.  Several friends, including my awesome daycare provider, Janet, donated items to sell.  The yard sale combined with independent donations yielded $486.00 for the MD Food Bank, just $14 shy of my $500 goal!  I was very pleased with the outcome of the fundraiser, especially considering that the Food Bank can feed one hungry Maryland for one FULL WEEK on just $10.50!!!

December - There were so many opportunities for us to donate to worthy causes in the month of December.  Back in November around Sadira's birthday she asked if we were going to be donating toys again this year. Last year for her birthday, in lieu of presents (since Sadira's birthday is just several weeks before Christmas) we asked our birthday party guests to instead bring toys for Sadira to donate to Toys for Tots.  We talked about it, and she understood what we were doing.  I was actually very impressed because she really got into the idea and was excited about giving toys to kids who didn't have any. I was a proud Mama when we dropped them off at the Toys for Tots location and there wasn't a single tear:

Making her donation.

Giving the lady at the Toys for Tots drop-off a high-five.

So fast forward to this year's birthday.  I decided that Sadira could keep her gifts this year, but imagine my shock when she asked if we were going to give any "toys to the poor kids" this year.  We decided to use a little bit of Sadie's birthday money to let her pick out a few toys and make a donation.  I was really touched that she remembered what we did last year and wanted to give back again this year.  You can plant the seed in your children, but it's another thing to see it grow when they make their own decisions to be charitable.

So off to Toys R Us we went and picked out some toys that Sadie thought the kids would like.  Even better, we got them on a great sale, so we could afford to get MORE!

Sadie and some of the toys we picked. :)

I figured we'd donate to Toys for Tots again.  But then one morning, as I was driving into work, I heard one of the local radio DJ's talking about his daughter, Lilly, and how she came to him with the request that she wanted to give toys to sick kids in the hospital.  You could hear in his voice that he was really trying to convince the listeners that this was Lilly's idea and not his.  He was just putting her idea into motion, with al proceeds going to the University of Maryland Children's Hospital.  I could relate to this because oftentimes Sadira comes to me with ideas or says things that are pretty unbelievable.  Sometimes I don't even tell people, because I think there's no way they'd believe me.  Heck, I wouldn't believe it sometimes, if I didn't hear it for myself!  She's definitely wise beyond her three years.  And I got the same feeling about Lilly.  

It seemed a perfect fit.  A Toy Drive inspired by a three year old little girl, with donations from my own little three year old girl.  So that night I talked to Sadie about it over dinner at my grandmother's house.  We talked about how scary it must be to be stuck in the hospital, and sad it must feel to not be able to celebrate Christmas at home.  We both decided this was the charity for us.

So last Saturday--during the last weekend before Christmas--we braved the crowds at Arundel Mills Mall, after 30 minutes we FINALLY found a parking spot, hauled our bag of toys INTO the Mall, while everyone else was hauling their purchases OUT, and found the Z104.3 folks.  Here's the photo gallery of their event. (We're on Photo 25).

Sadie got a little shy cause everyone wanted to say hi to her and thank her for the gifts, but later when we got in the car she declared, "Mommy, those kids are WEALLY WEALLY gonna like our toys!!"

Job well done, Sades. :)

Read More

Monday, December 13, 2010

nasrene's favorite things

So this post has nothing to do with my 30 Before 30, but it is a kinda close?  Sorta?  No? Well, it's my blog, so I can switch it up if I want to. ;)

I've noticed some other bloggers out in bloggy-land doing this recently so I figured I'd hop on the bandwagon and post about my favorite Christmas gifts of 2010.  Some of these are things I already have, and some are things I would love to have.  But if you're looking for suggestions for gifts for someone in the 25-32 demographic, specifically female, more specifically a mom, then I think I have some good suggestions for you.  So here we go, in no particular order.

Okay, so I know some of you are going to think this is a cop out, but let me assure you IT IS NOT.  I know body washes and lotions may be thought of as generic gifts, but I swear to you, I could be given a case load of this stuff and die happy.  My co-worker, Alyson, gave me the whole stress relief line gift set for my birthday and this is BY FAR my most favorite product.  LOVE IT.

Okay, so many not EVERY typical 29 year old Mama would enjoy this gift, but this one's definitely on my list.  Thank you Arizona Cardinals for giving him up, cause let me tell ya, we LOVE this guy in Baltimore!  I'm due for a new jersey, and it's just icing on the cake that his number (81) is also my birthday year. :)

I know, I know, so predictable right?  I kinda hate that this item is so expected, but I'll be honest, I am probably the LAST person to put a Coach purse on a Christmas wish list.  Not because I don't like Coach, but because I just can't support spending so much money on a PURSE.  (Somewhere my friend Amanda weeps for me...) I'm sorry, purses just aren't my thing.  Back before babies, my "thing" was shoes.  Heels, to be specific, but never purses.  So why put a nearly $300 purse on my list?  Well, cause I like it.  And I have the matching wallet, courtesy of Brian, last Mother's Day.  I'll be honest, I have exactly TWO Coach is a diaper bag and the other one my Dad gave me for my birthday....4 and a half years ago.  So I suppose it's time for a new one...and I LOVE LOVE LOVE this silver Mia Signature Lurex Carryall.  But the realist in me would never spend that much money.  I'm just too cheap thrifty.

My boss actually gave me this as my gift (a little early) this year.  Not only is Starbucks VIA coffee DELICIOUS as far as instant coffee goes, but this tumbler is so handy, and you can actually fit 6 VIA packets into the clear plastic slots, and that's just cute.  One of my New Year's resolutions is going to be stop spending so much dang money at Starbucks every week--and I plan on doing this by limiting my weekly grande-half-caf-non-fat-with-whipped-mocha's to a monthly treat and enjoying beverages made by ME in my cute new tumbler instead.

I don't care about the haters, I LOVE UGGS!!  They keep my tootsies warm all fall and winter and are soooo comfy. And despite what others say, I think they look cute.  Now I'll be honest, these are yet another item that I will not spend money on to get the "real" thing.  So despite the fact that my daughter, Sadira, is now on her SECOND pair of REAL UGGS (courtesy of Gannie, of course) I have been rocking the TUGGS (Target UGGS) for three years now.  And before that it was WUGGS (Walmart UGGS).  So although I'd really love a pair of the real things, I'd settle for the knock offs again.  Anyway you slice em, I love 'em. I need to even explain this one?  I was a kid when New Kids on the Block exploded and a teenager when the Back Street Boys hit the scene.  The only thing that would make this better would be if it was N*SYNKOTBSB.  This concert is like a dream come true for 99.9% of women my age!!!!  AND they are coming to my area on June 3rd...less than 3 weeks before my 30th bday.  This gift could easily double as a Christmas gift and a birthday gift....I'm just sayin'....

Yeah, this one will never happen, as I'm stuck with Verizon indefinitely and due to complications with my plan I'm stuck with a dinosaur of a phone..but that's another story.  In a perfect world I'd have an iPhone, with all of its fun apps that I hear everyone talking about all the time.  I'm certain I would almost never get any work done at work if I DID have one of these fun gadgets, so it's probably best that I don't.  But if I COULD get a new phone, it would be the iPhone.  Or at least a phone that had some sort of internet access...

Honestly, any combination of the above would be fantastic.  This is the probably the number one thing I dream about the most--a day of pampering.  Or a half day.  Or an hour.  When you are a busy mom there's no greater gift than a tiny shred of relaxation.  Seriously, this could be my only gift for every birthday and Christmas for the rest of my life and I would be happy.  LOVE IT.

#2  Gift cards!

I know, I know, another cop out gift, but what can I say?  I love them!  Especially when they're from my favorite places like the Gap, Victoria's Secret, and yes even Target! I love gifts cards.  End of story.  No one should ever, EVER feel lame for purchasing these for someone else, cause I think they're the best gift ever.  Case and point?  Today Sadie and I spent half the day at the mall and brought home tons of new goodies bought with gifts cards I haven't used over this past year.  Glorious, I tell you, glorious.

What do you mean "it's not in the budget this year?"  :) What can I say, a girl can dream, right?  For a fun, relaxing vacation this would be my numero uno destination.  And ONE DAY (as God is my witness!) I will get there! :)

I should also add that the only REAL thing I asked for, I already got, thanks to my wonderful mother, who's not only awesome, but also cannot keep a secret or a surprise.  And that was an external hard drive.  So now I can use my laptop without fear that one day all of my precious videos and pictures of Sadira will vanish into an oblivion.  Honestly, any of the things on this list would be fun to get, but I already have everything I need right here under my roof. ♥

Read More

Saturday, December 11, 2010

schoooool's out!! for! evah!!!!

 This was Sadira, many many moons ago, helping me write a paper. :)

9. Complete my Masters program. - DONE!

Well, it's official.  My semester ended last week and grades were posted on Thursday.  I am OFFICIALLY finished my Masters program, praisetheLordinheaven!!  I'll be honest, there were a few times I wanted to throw the towel in and say forget it, because honestly between full time work, full time school and full time mommy, I was FULL TIME EXHAUSTED.  But luckily I have friends who kick my butt and call me out when I'm being ridiculous.  So here I am.  FINISHED.

I started my Masters program in January 2007.  It was SUPPOSED to be a two year thing.  I decided on a Masters in Health Care Administration cause it just made sense with my experience.  I had no desire to go back to school, but my dad kicked my ass, and my mom said DO IT NOW.  So I listened to my parents, for once.

Two months after I started my program, we found out Sadie was on the way.  And in my Fall, with another full month of school in my semester, Sadie was born.  It was definitely interesting adjusting to life with a newborn and finishing off a semester.

The next year I went part time instead of full time.  Which tacked on another year.  It was worth it, though.  I got to enjoy my baby without being completely bogged down with school requirements.

Last December I finished off my Masters in Health Care Administration and I was 99.999% positive I was FINISHED.  But the opportunity to do a dual Masters presented itself.  I wasn't going to do it, but after talking it over with friends and family (who once again kicked my ass), I decided it was worth it. For one extra year of school I could earn an MBA in addition to my MHA.  I knew it was worth it.  If I ever wanted to go back in the future for an MBA it would take a lot longer than one additional year, and I'd have to go through the whole application process again.

So, begrudgingly, I signed up.

And now it's a year later.  I'm not gonna lie, this extra degree KICKED.MY. BUTT.  My background is in science, NOT lots of these concepts were totally new to me.

And then last week--MY LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL--I had the ULTIMATE week from hell.

No, I'm not being dramatic.

Any good procrastinator will tell you that the last week of school is do or die time.  The final group project, the final paper, any outstanding assignments...they all HAVE to be completed in that last week.  I started my last week in similar fashion---I had a research paper to finish, a group project to finish, and an assignment that was overdue from the week before that I needed to complete.


So when Monday rolled around and my car wouldn't start, I worried that this was NOT the right way to start my last week of classes EVER.  AAA came to the rescue, though, so all was fixed...right?

Not so fast.

On Tuesday I got a call from my daycare provider that Sadie was throwing up.  Great.  So as soon as I could get out of work I rushed home to get her...and she kept puking....for HOURS.  I had a project for work that I HAD to finish that night, so as soon as Brian could come home and take over Sadie duty, I had to go BACK to work...until almost 9pm.  Gross.

The next day, Wednesday, I was driving into work in a downpour when, while stopped at a red light, a car ended rear-ended another car next to me, and one of the cars ended up sliding into my car, denting my side panel.  GREAT.

That evening I finally thought I'd be able to get some of my work finished; however that was put on pause when I came home and came down with the same stomach virus Sadie had the day before.

Have I mentioned that I have a fear of puking? UGH.  Horrible.  Thus started the most disgusting 12 hours of my life.

The next day, Thursday, I was exhausted.  But I HAD SO MUCH SCHOOLWORK TO DO.  I also had a ton of projects for work that had to be completed. I worked from home as best I could.  That night I was in bed by 7pm.

Which brought me to Friday.  I had plans with some girlfriends to get together for a crafty night.  But, sadly, I had to cancel to get my work done.  So I hit the books and after hours and hours of work...going into Saturday and even Sunday...I FINISHED.

It was a pretty glorious feeling, especially after the week I'd had..but I wouldn't let myself celebrate until I had official grades in hand.   And this Thursday, it became OFFICIAL.


And it feels AMAZING.


Nasrene M. M., MHA, MBA.
Read More

© 2011 My 30 Project, AllRightsReserved.

Designed by ScreenWritersArena