Saturday, August 25, 2012

10 Ways Working Moms Can Volunteer at School

Guest Post by Carol Watson of

When children are young there is a lot of parent participation that’s encouraged through classroom parties and events because kids are still learning how to be away from home. 

Most kids want their moms to be able to volunteer at the school for these events so that they can still see their mom in the hallway or at the class party. However it’s not always feasible for working moms to volunteer onsite regularly.  Fear not, there are ways that you can volunteer, even if you work full-time.

Check out these 10 ways that working moms can volunteer at school:
  1. Coordinate class parties through e-mail.  Technology makes it much easier to plan events these days.  The teacher may send home flyers asking for snacks and craft supply donations.  Consider volunteering to coordinate these donations; this is an easy task to accomplish over e-mail or phone, and allows you to still participate in some way with the party.  
  2.  Cut out or prepare things at home.  Many times the teacher will have a need for different shapes to be cut out or packets to be put together for a party or upcoming project.  These types of activities can be sent home with your child and you can do them in the evening when you have time so that you can still be involved.
  3. Send money to help with a project.  With the cut-backs that the government is making, oftentimes the teachers don’t have enough funds to do creative projects with the kids.  By sending in money for a special project you can help the teacher explain a concept in a new and fun way.
  4. Make calls at night.  Many activities happen at the school and there may be times when there’s a need to call parents and remind them of an event.  For example, if the choir is going on a field trip on Friday and the kids need to remember to wear their choir shirts and to bring their permission slips, then working parents can make these kinds of calls from their cell phone while they are waiting at soccer practice or during the evening when they are home.
  5. Provide extra school supplies.  Throughout the year, the classroom supplies may start to dwindle.  Contact the teacher in January and ask her what items she is running low on and send in additional classroom supplies. 
  6. Ask your nanny to stand in for you.  If you have a nanny you could have her volunteer at the school in your place.  She may also be able to attend class parties or other daytime events when you are unable to attend.  Your child will be happy because they have someone there that’s cheering or clapping just for them.
  7. Join the PTA or PTO at your child’s school.  You may not have time to join the board of the PTA, but by supporting the PTA, your money goes towards a lot of projects that will benefit every child in the school.  Funding these programs for the students allows the school to concentrate their funds on other things, like teacher salaries.
  8. Chaperone a field trip.  A field trip is a one time commitment that you may be able to take off work for, if you plan far enough in advance.  If your child is going to the museum or aquarium with his class and you can take a personal day, you will be able to share that experience with him.  Unlike being a room mom or lunch mom, this is a one-time deal and something you can commit to and plan for ahead of time.
  9. Help with set up for an evening event.  Many times music or sporting events are held during the evenings. Offer to help with set up or clean-up for one of these events after you get off work.
  10. Volunteer to work at the concession stand.  Sometimes events like the school carnival will be held on a weekend. Volunteer at a booth or concession stand if you can.  The shift is usually only an hour or so and when it is over, you can enjoy the event with your child.
chaperoning a class field trip is a great way to get involved
The next time your child asks why you can’t come to the class party, explain to him that you have to go to work, but that you are still trying to be involved regardless. Remind them of the phone calls you made or the 30 hearts that you cut out for their class project.  Your child will appreciate that you are making the effort to be involved.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Day of Third Grade

Faith is wide awake at 8:00 a.m. ready to get going on her first day of school
But before getting up, she has to get in one final stretch
Wow that was fast! Faith is all dressed and ready to go!
I am so happy that Faith is all smiles and excited to go back to school!
Daddy is very proud of his big girl!
So cool and ready for school!
The bell was ringing and Faith said, "I don't want to be late!"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Missing My Stay-at-Home Mom Days

Last year at this time, I was a stay-at-home mom. And part of my stay-at-home mom duties were getting Faith ready for school in the mornings and getting her there on time. I was also the one who was in constant contact with her teacher, her instructional aides and her therapists. Part of the fun of taking Faith to school was getting a chance to visit with those who looked after her throughout the day.
After coming home from dropping Faith off, I would have breakfast and enjoy some quiet time. At least once or twice a week, I would call my friend Tina or she would call me and we would talk for at least an hour. Being home gave me a chance to work on my writing, to join a morning women's bible study, to take a nap if we had a rough night or cook and clean at my leisure. It was nice being a stay-at-home mom. But I did find that if I didn't get out of the house, I would go a little stir-crazy.
Another great stay-at-home-mom duty was to join Faith on her fun field trips!
Everything changed when my husband lost his job and we found ourselves with no source of income and no health benefits. One of us had to find a job and fast! And so it was that October of last year, I went from stay-at-home mom to working mom and all the changes that went along with it.

Some of those changes were good - Rob would be home with Faith doing all of the lifting and dealing with her not-wanting-to-go-to-school morning meltdowns. Some of the changes were more challenging like not having as much time with Faith and trying to squeeze in a pacemaker battery change during Thanksgiving so I wouldn't miss any training at my new job.

I must say though that with the role reversal - Rob has done extremely well. He keeps up with the cleaning, the laundry and does what he can to help out with the evening meal. He is also in charge of getting up with Faith in the middle of the night and getting her back to sleep which means more sleep for me. He really is a great stay-at-home dad and he loves doing it!

Putting Faith's new stander together and getting her in her stander are great dad duties!
Yesterday Rob and I took Faith to her school's open house where she got to see her classroom and talk to her teacher - whom she has known since Faith started school there. For whatever reason she and Faith were sort of drawn to one another.When we saw her third-grade teacher yesterday she said, "Oh Faith, we've been waiting for this moment since kindergarten!"

Faith at her desk in her third-grade classroom
Taking this week off to spend time with Faith and get her ready for a new school year along with being back in the school made me miss my stay-at-home mom days. I feel really blessed to have stayed home with Faith for nearly three years. And though there are days I struggle with being a working mom, I believe for reasons known and unknown, this is God's present plan for not only my life but my family's life as well.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fun Times with Friends

These past couple of weeks, we have had lots of fun seeing some wonderful friends we have not seen for awhile.

Our flurry of visits started off when our friend, Brittnee was in town for the Sidewalk Prophets concert. The next day she came over to say hi to Faith and to hand-deliver the gift she bought for Faith when she was in Disney World.

Faith was so happy to see her and of course continues to ask when Brittnee is coming over again.

Another friend who came up to visit drove all the way from Kansas with her husband and her sister. She and her husband got to share with Faith that there is a baby in Kimberly's tummy! We are so happy for them and we know that Kimberly is going to be a great mom! She took such good care of Faith for us when she lived here and it was with Kimberly that Faith started playing with her doll and together they named her Baby Allie.
Faith, Kimberly and Melanie getting baby Allie dressed

Kimberly and Matt with a picture of the baby!
Two of my college roomies were also in town last week. Mary and Keri are both agricultural education teachers in Bowman and Powers Lake, North Dakota. It was fun to get together with them and hear about their many teaching stories! I saw Mary earlier this summer and I was so glad to see her again along with Keri who I haven't seen for about five years.

me, Keri and Mary
Mary and I got thrown together in college at NDSU while living in the dorm, Dinan hall and Keri lived just a couple of doors down. The next year we all got an apartment together.

We had lots of laughs living together and I pretty much survived my first two years of college on their cooking! I really hope we can all get together more often!

Not too long ago, some friends of ours moved from Sidney, Montana to Washburn and we have been planning on driving there to visit them. We did manage to make the 35 mile trip this past Saturday and had a blast seeing them!

I brought some dresses and a coat that Faith had outgrown for Aubryn and Rob managed to round up some Lego for the boys. They are quite an amazing family as Greta home-schools all of them and the older kids are involved in Junior Bible Quiz.
Faith hanging out with the Sago kids in Washburn
Fun with Lego!
To finish off our week of socializing, my brother Todd and his wife Barbara came over and we had a great time listening to them as they shared about their missions trip to Kenya, Africa and showed us over 1,000 amazing photos.

They had some great stories including the bus getting stuck on a dry riverbed bottom and the story about Barbara talking to the animals - the crow that quacked and also the goats.

There were also sad stories too as Barbara hand-fed a little baby who hadn't eaten for two days simply because the family had no food. Their mission had been to build a church for a tribal people living in a village called Korr, outside of Nairobi, Kenya. They accomplished their mission and over 400 people came to the Lord.
A new church being built in Kenya
Now that all of our visiting is over and done with, it's on to the next big event - getting Faith ready for school!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grandparents at a Distance

Grandfather and Grandmother spending time with Faith
 Guest Post by David Bousfield

Cari, our daughter-in-law, has asked me to write up an article for her blog. Not being a blog-writer myself, this has been something of a new experience for me. I do trust that your reading of this will be worth your while.

How our son Robert found himself living and working in Watford City, North Dakota, is a complex story. Robert had lived and worked for a time in Regina, Saskatchewan, thus we had some preparation for his wanting to move back to the west, although we thought that his move would be a move back to Regina.
That Robert met up with Cari in Watford City did not entirely surprise Jean and me. With other family members plus friends from Green Bay, Wisconsin, we were able to get to the wedding and meet up with Cari’s family and friends. We have lived in a number of smaller Ontario towns, but for the most part we are big-city people, the greater part of our lives being spent in Toronto.  Actually, we now live in a suburban-city just west of Toronto, a city called Mississauga.

Christmas 2003 in the NICU
The birth of our one and only grandchild, Faith, was one of joy and delight, but it was also one that was fraught with anxiety and concern. We were able to drive to Bismarck at Christmas to see tiny Faith, beginning to see at first-hand just what Robert and Cari were beginning to cope with. We were immediately impressed with the great care and wonderful support that everyone the clinic in Bismarck was providing for Faith and for her parents.
Because Bismarck, North Dakota and Mississauga, Ontario are so many miles apart, and our resources are somewhat limited, we do not get together all that often. We wish that circumstances were different, but we have to do what we are able to do. Thus Jean and I find ourselves to be “grandparents at a distance.”

Cari’s blog is the most important means of communication for us. We are grateful that Cari enjoys her writing so much. We in turn enjoy her weekly blogs which make us feel included in what Faith is doing and what the family gets up to week by week. Robert misses his family and friends here in Ontario, and we are always delighted when we learn of how he has become more and more involved with life in Bismarck.

I want you to know that I have become a great promoter of the State of North Dakota. I could live in North Dakota quite easily, although I would have to learn how to ride a horse. And if I were to actually own a horse, I would want to own a “paint” horse just like the one Tonto would ride in the Lone Ranger comic-books of my childhood.

David's Dream Horse
As a boy growing up in a large North American city, I enjoyed cowboy comic books and going to the cowboy movies at the local movie-theatre on a Saturday morning: fifteen cents to get in, five cents for popcorn, and five cents for an orange-crush or a coke. Of course, that was big money for a kid in those days.  And I was so excited when I saw the full-length feature-film “Tomahawk” that I talked about it for weeks.

About ten years ago, when Robert and I were on a motoring trip which took us through Custer State Park in South Dakota, I was overwhelmed with emotion as we read the signpost indicating the actual site where “Tomahawk” had been filmed.  Once again, I could see the mighty Chief Red Cloud and his thousand warriors riding over the brow of the hill and into sight!  But I digress.  

Of course, there are the many telephone calls. Jean has us with a telephone plan which enables her to speak with anyone in North America for as long as she wants to: I get the impression that the telephone company is paying Jean to make telephone calls to Robert and Cari, and also to our daughter Johanna. Johanna lives a hundred miles or so from Mississauga, in Peterborough, Ontario.  And Johanna is very much a part of all this. Johanna lives with her two cats: Lucy, a lovely old tabby; and Ruby, a younger tortoise-shell cat who is always expressing her “tortitude.”  I would also like to write some things about our little dog Sheba, Sheba the “Wonder-Dog,” but she died two years ago, and my words would have us all in tears.

Faith with her aunty Joh and kitty cat Lucy

Robert and Cari now have a Dodge Caravan outfitted with a side-ramp for Faith and her powered wheel-chair.  All of this has made travel so much easier for them.Thus they were able to visit with us last October when we had a marvellous time together, Johanna coming in from Peterborough. However, because our apartment is on the small side, Jean and I moved out to a local motel for a few nights. If the truth be told, when Robert and Johanna get together, even for a few hours, Jean and I have a serious need to escape! 

From our first meeting up with tiny Faith, the Christmas of 2003, we have realized that as grandparents we do not have the skills nor the confidence to be looking after Faith on our own. This also adds to the sense of distance with Faith: Cari or Robert must be with us, just as a qualified care-person must be with Faith when Robert and Cari need to have some time just for the two of them. Jean and I are very proud of Cari and Robert in the total dedication of their lives to Faith and her special needs.

Again, let me express how grateful we are to the staff at the clinic in Bismarck; to the staff in the Bismarck school system; and to the wonderful care-givers; all of whom have done everything in their various powers to make Faith’s life so rich and fulfilling. I cannot write these lines, nor even re-read these lines, without my eyes filling up.

Taking a break while shopping at the mall in Toronto