Six And A Half Things To Do While We’re Away

Our office will be closed from Monday, December 24 through Wednesday, January 1st.  We’re taking a break but we’ll start blogging again in January. Wondering what to do ‘til we get back? Here are six and a half things you can do while we are away:

1.  Read aloud to a child. Kalamazoo Public Schools has identified eight pillars for building a college-going culture and reading is one of them. You can find all eight pillars listed in our CIS Connections newsletter.

2. Tell someone you love them. And, if for some reason you can’t, then read aloud to them. Nothing says love like reading aloud.

3. Make giant marbles with your kids or someone else’s kids. I am totally going to try this! I found this and other really cool ideas on Kalamazoo Public Library website by going to their “Pinterest” site.

3 ½. Figure out what Pinterest is all about.  (Hint: It’s an on-line bulletin board and people who “pin up” an idea/photo on it are called “pinners.”) Just think how, at your next dinner party, you can amaze your friends and family by casually mentioning that it was when you were on “Pinterest” that you got the idea to make the towering tree of grapes that everyone’s oohing and aahing over.

4. Read a book to yourself. As of this post, the Kalamazoo Public Library has “pinned up” 37 books suggested by their staff. In looking it over, it reminded me that I have been wanting to read Wonder by R.J. Palacio (about a fifth grader who is born with severe facial deformities). They have some great picks, like the dark and thrilling When Captain Flint was Still a Good Man by Kalamazoo’s own Nick Dybek. Donna Carroll lent me her copy and I couldn’t put it down.

5. Find something you have lost. Okay, I’m totally doing this, too. Socks, I’ve discovered, are slippery little rascals.  I think I’ll start by organizing a search party to hunt down mates who have abandoned their partners.

6. Give away something you love. Some wise person once said, “What you keep to yourself you lose. What you give away, you keep forever.” It may not be easy but you’ll be better for letting it go.

See you in 2013, dear readers!

What’s Underwear Got To Do With It?

I once worked with this guy—let’s call him Ben. First day on the job he showed up in a short sleeve shirt and sandals. Apparently, he didn’t get the memo that it was cold and snowing outside. Ben also smelled a bit funky. A male colleague pulled him aside and encouraged him to use deodorant. (Later, Ben admitted that it was challenging enough to get food on the table, let alone worry about such extravagances as deodorant.) We tried not to smell him.

Or stare.

But it was hard not too, especially when, during the middle of a presentation Ben was required to give, he wet his pants. The boss sent him home. Ben returned the next day. He was wearing the same pants and they hadn’t been cleaned. He didn’t last long on the job. How could he? He didn’t even have the basics.

Okay, so I fibbed. I never worked with a guy named Ben. But our CIS Site Coordinators do. Every day they have younger versions of Ben coming into their offices. These children want to do their job: be the best student they can be. But they need help with having the basics covered (literally!) so they can focus on learning. Last year, Site Coordinators reached into the “CIS Kids Closet” and handed out over 7,200 items of clothing items, personal care, and school supplies to kids. That need for the basics continues to grow. This school year, the demand for socks and underwear (particularly the smaller sizes) has never been greater.

So what do underwear, socks, and shoes have to do with school success? If you ask one of our little Bens, they’ll tell you that sometimes it is everything. Speaking of underwear, I’ll leave you with a portion of an email I recently received from our Executive Director, Pam Kingery.

…this past weekend I was doing “big shopping” for Kids Closet—cart overflowing with children’s socks, underwear, and pants, this time all small sizes as the numbers of wee ones have increased.  So for the first time I was buying lots of size 4 undies and pants.  Anyway, when I do this, I attract a lot of attention in the check-out line at Kohl’s—mostly because no one wants to get behind me.  However, many curious on-lookers start by staring, followed by, “uh, um, do you have twins or something?”  Usually I make jokes and say I have lots of grandchildren or the bargains are just too good to pass up. This time I told them that really, I just have 12,000 kids, lots of whom need a little help with socks, underwear, and pants.