Longtime readers of this blog (Hi, you two!) will remember that I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Malawi in 2015 with Heifer International and ONE. I saw first-hand how those two organizations are changing lives and making the world a ...

 

Wendi Aarons




Milk Money: Heifer International

Longtime readers of this blog (Hi, you two!) will remember that I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Malawi in 2015 with Heifer International and ONE. I saw first-hand how those two organizations are changing lives and making the world a better place for so many, and for that reason, I’m 100% Ride or Die for them. If Heifer has a new cow, I want a picture. If they plant a tree, I want to know where. And if they’re doing something to help children in need, I want to spread the word far and wide so more people can help children, too. I’d probably get a “Heifer” tattoo on my back if I didn’t think it’d be misconstrued at the public pool.

But because I’m such an advocate of Heifer, today I want to share with you their new initiative, The Heifer School Milk Feeding Program. Launched in July of 2017,  this feeding program was created to encourage a new generation of milk-drinkers and increase the well-being and nutrition of eager students in Africa. I mean, just look at this sweetie.

This milk-in-schools idea is all part of a bigger plan, however. Heifer started the Heifer Tanzania program in 2008 to help local dairy farmers increase milk production, and via the supply for kids, they’ve now created a viable and diverse market for these farmers: the school milk program. Farmers, government agencies, and school districts are working together for the good of the entire community. Think of it as “cow to the classroom,” only the cow isn’t actually coming into the classroom because that would be awkward during circle time. “Moooo-ve it, kid. I need to learn my colors.”

The launch of the Heifer School Milk Feeding Program in July 2017 is just in its first phase, with 1,742 students in the Njombe region now receiving fresh 200ml packets of pasteurized milk every day during the school year. For kids who suffer from a lack of nutrition, this is huge. The daily milk helps make them healthy, happy, and able to focus on learning instead of the hunger pains in their bellies. The ultimate goal of this program is to provide 9,000 pupils (ages 9 and under) in the Njombe, Iringa, Mbeya, and Songwe regions with a packet of free fresh milk every day.

And that’s where you come in: Just $75 can provide one student with milk for an entire school year. That’s 40 cents a day, which is less than you spend to download a song on iTunes, right? Not only will your money help these growing kids, it’s creating a ripple effect of reducing poverty for the farmers and their families who provide the milk. Even a little bit goes a long way in these areas.

Like this woman who I met on my visit. She’s the mother of six, and she told us that the cow she was given by Heifer will change the lives of everyone in her village, not just hers. Heifer adheres to the “pay it forward” credo, and I saw the results of that time and time again.

With everything going on in the world, I know there are a lot of places that can use your money right now. But if you’re able, any little bit you can donate to help these kids is appreciated. Even $10 makes a big difference. And, here’s some exciting news: The Women Online agency will donate $1 (up to $2,000) for every retweet or Facebook share of this post! How awesome is that? You can help these kids with just a few clicks.

For more information about Heifer International, visit:

Thank you for reading about this organization that’s dear to my heart, and thank you for any help you’re able to give to these communities.

This post was sponsored by #GiveHeifer. All commentary and opinions are mine.

     
 

Quiz: Do You Know Proper Social Media Behavior?

If you want to become a social media guru, or at least someone who has a lot of close personal friends they will never, ever meet in real life, you must always show your best self on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Easier said than done, right? That’s why I wrote this simple quiz to let you know if you’re an internet hero or an internet zero. Good luck!

 

One should always choose a social media profile pic that looks:

  1. Professional
  2. Real and authentic
  3. Like it was taken underwater by a camera with Vaseline and Crisco on the lens

 

When a friend posts a picture of her daughter with the caption, “Have you ever seen a more beautiful child?” the appropriate response is:

  1. “Cute!”
  2. “Stunning!”
  3. “jesus christ linda i’ve seen more beautiful mop handles”

 

Appropriate things to mom-brag about on social media include:

  1. Potty training
  2. Straight A’s on a report card
  3. The judge ruling that it was only a class-D misdemeanor

 

Inappropriate things to mom-brag about on social media include:

  1. How fast you lost the baby weight
  2. Your baby sleeping through the night from day one
  3. The DNA results showing that there’s an 89% chance your child’s dad is one of the performers at the Yacht Rock concert you attended 10 months ago

 

If you post a hot picture of yourself in a bikini, make sure to caption it with:

  1. “Hard work pays off!”
  2. “Not quite a six-pack after 15 kids, but close!”
  3. A Brene Brown quote about loving your inner self

 

When you see a friend’s picture and she has bunny ears and giant eyes on her, ask:

  1. “Is that a Snapchat filter?”
  2. “Are you into dressing like animals and going to conventions now? Cool.”
  3. “Name and number of plastic surgeon?”

 

The perfect comment to leave on a picture of a friend volunteering at school is:

  1. “I hope that bake sale has gluten-free options so kids don’t die lol”
  2. “Must be nice to have so much free time to volunteer #workingmom”
  3. “I’m helping starving people in Africa, but good job raising money for new lacrosse sticks, Susan”

 

A funny and original mom/wine meme that nobody has seen yet is:

  1. IS IT WINE O’CLOCK YET?
  2. WHINE, THEN WINE!
  3. It’s 2017, bitches– they’ve all been seen

 

When someone posts gushy love declarations about their spouse on a daily basis, it means:

  1. They are truly in love and want everyone to know
  2. They just can’t contain their feelings
  3. A divorce lawyer is about to get a job

 

The vacation photos you should always post are:

  1. Anything from a Hawaiian resort, especially other Hawaiian resort guests
  2. Family group shots on a scenic cliff where everyone is smiling ear to ear
  3. Your pedicured toes by a body of water

 

The vacation photos you shouldn’t ever post are:

  1. Anything from a waterpark, especially other waterpark guests
  2. Family group shots on a scenic cliff after someone just tried to push someone else off said cliff for bringing up a sore point from 1984
  3. “what’s this rash on my thigh, anyone know? it’s spreading quick”

 

When a friend writes a really personal story about something that’s tearing her up inside and posts it on Facebook, you should:

  1. Offer your support
  2. Type a bunch of heart emjois
  3. Let her know she used the word “affect” the wrong way

 

Facebook is the best way to:

  1. Know what your ex-co-worker’s cousin’s mechanic thinks about Obama’s foreign policy failures
  2. Reconnect with high school friends and delight in how they’re aging
  3. Occupy yourself while you’re supposed to be watching your kid’s baseball game
  4. All of the above

 

Results:

If you answered mostly 1’s, you are are a social media star! Good job, Zuckerberg!

If you answered mostly 2’s, you are doing just fine on the internet and probably in life, too.

If you answered mostly 3’s, you are completely inappropriate and rude, and you should immediately go see a therapist after you send me a friend request.

      
 

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex (But Didn’t Learn in Texas Public Schools)

As the mom to two teenage boys, I’ve always known that I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, rely on them getting any useful sex education from our Texas public school system.  And that’s okay because I believe it’s ultimately the parent’s responsibility to inform their kids about important subjects like the Birds and the Bees and what to expect during puberty. My husband and I have had many frank conversations with the kids about these topics over the years, so I felt that they had a good handle on the facts.

But then the Texas public school system threw me a curve ball.

A few months ago, my 15-year-old son told me they’d had an assembly at school about “health” with a guest speaker from some (probably religious-based) organization. He said that the speaker was a young guy who was funny, and who was there to talk to the kids about how to prevent unwanted pregnancy and STDs. “Did he tell you about birth control like condoms?” I asked.

“Nope! He said that condoms break and birth control methods don’t always work. He said the only way to not get pregnant or get a disease is with—–abstinence,” my son said with a smirk on his face. “Then he told us to keep our pants on and handed out t-shirts that said I HEART PANTS. It was hilarious.”

Sigh.

This was distressing to hear, even though my son is more fortunate than some kids because he’s learned from us that “keeping it in your pants” isn’t the answer. Many students don’t get that lesson at home, and they only know what they hear in school. And unfortunately, 83% of schools in Texas teach abstinence-only sex education. How well has that worked out you ask? Texas has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, with over 35,000 girls under the age 20 having babies last year.

Of course we’d all love it if teenagers waited until they were older before having sex, but that’s not realistic. It’s probably going to happen, and when it does, you want them to have the knowledge and tools that will prevent a pregnancy. That’s where AMAZE.org can help. AMAZE is a collaboration between three expert organizations in the field of sex education: Advocates for Youth, Answer, and Youth Tech Health. They want to help empower parents to be the primary sexuality educators of their kids, which is of paramount importance if they’re getting contradictory information from their school.

What I love about AMAZE is that they teach kids via really fun animated videos that acknowledge that yes, sex stuff is weird, but just get over it and take a look at the facts you need to know. They don’t talk down to the kids at all. The videos are meant for kids age 10-14, but are fine for pretty much any age except small fry. Here’s one about birth control that’s both entertaining and informative:

 

I highly recommend you watch these with your kids (or text them the link so they won’t be embarrassed, if they’re the type of kid who gets embarrassed). Even if you live in a state that has more realistic version of sex-ed than Texas, they’re helpful at reinforcing the message that birth control involves way more than just wearing pants.

Take a look at @AMAZEparents’ Facebook page, which includes video shares as well as fantastic curated content related to sex ed, health, etc. and find them at these places, too:

Thank you to Amaze for making me a part of this sponsored campaign. All opinions mine. All helpful information theirs.

 

 

 

 

 

Shaping Up for Summer Camp

Ladies, a question: Do you ever wish you could attend summer camp? When you’re writing your child’s name on his underwear for his two weeks at Camp Fungal, do you sometimes wish you were writing your name? When you’re busy packing your daughter’s sleeping bag, do you fantasize about it being your sleeping bag? In the middle of your humdrum, middle-aged, out of shape, chubby thighed life, do you dream about living in a cabin? About making lifelong friends? About hiking through the wilderness, waving a cheery hello to squirrels and chipmunks? And most important, is the only thing missing in your life the opportunity to hang out in bear country while not showing any visible panty lines? Well, hold onto your fat pockets, girlfriend, because—

Introducing, CAMP SPANX!

What seems like a nightmare created by body-shaming lunatics who have no f-cking clue that grownass women really don’t enjoy being pandered to in this manner is actually a reality! Yes, now you can gather up your lady friends—lady friends who will also pay a pretty penny to have smooth lines and no disgusting lumps anywhere on their bodies—and head on out to the wilderness where you’ll glamp! Glamp in a tent that has no bottom IN your bottoms that have no tents! (#goodwriting) Isn’t that amazing?!

“Hey, Janice! How do you feel about marshmallows?”

“Well, I’d rather eat one than have my ASS look like one! Hahaha! Thanks, Camp Spanx!”

“Hahah—wait, are these damn things on our legs flame retardant? Sweet jesus why is my ankle smoking? WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY CONTAIN SILICONE?!? Debbie, get that f-cking blow-out out of your face and go find some pond water to throw on my reproductive bits!”

Ahhhh, shapewear in the wilderness. Just like God intended when he created women on the second day of his creating shit or whenever that whole thing happened.

Then, after you and your Camp Spanx besties cook stick food over an open flame, you can head into the deep woods for even more bonding in your bras! As every 80’s movie written and directed by men taught us, women totally love to hang out together and compare cleavage when we’re not having pillow fights in our lingerie! Giggle!

Here’s Tammy telling a joke about how she can’t breathe in her bra-lette because it’s squeezing her fat chunks into her ribcage and impairing all air capacity. Hilarious!

Spanx Bralette: $48

Stupid trendy neckerchief and stupid trendy hat: $20

Being eaten alive by Zika-carrying mosquitoes because you’re too idiotic to put on a shirt, then having to track down a creepy park ranger to radio CareFlight so you can be airlifted to the closest ER before you go into anaphylactic shock: Priceless

And let’s not forget the biggest event of Camp Spanx, Camp Talent Show night! Yes, strut your sassy girl stuff on a log? fence? barn plank? with your gal pals to the tune of “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves.” Sure, these women are all probably saddled with debilitating student loans and mortgages, but will they still spend $68 on pants that make their legs look like Wisconsin bratwurst? You bet your sweet ass they will! Plus, that slimming double waist band will come in handy when you all fall off the log into a colony of angry fire ants and they try to march into your nether regions. Smart AND shapely!

So this summer, forget about relaxing and feeling comfortable in your own body. Forget about letting it all hang out while you’re exploring outside. Instead, pack your trunks for Camp Spanx where the motto is, “Nature. Only a Little Better.” The male population of the world will thank you.

Hello, mudda. Hello, faddah.

Here I am at Camp gasssssssp can’t breatheeeeeee

 

Engage Your Brain at the Science Mill

Anyone who’s ever driven through the Texas Hill Country knows that it’s an area full of surprises. Hit the road just outside of Austin and you’ll see exotic game ranches, oil derricks, and random BBQ trucks pop up along the highways, much like the wildflowers that also decorate this part of our state. But perhaps the least expected attraction you’ll come across is the Science Mill in Johnson City, Texas.

Located about an hour away from Austin, the Science Mill is housed in an iconic Johnson City feed mill built in 1880. A few years ago, a team of people passionate about growing science leaders for the new generation recycled the historic landmark into a gathering place for the community and a forum for science exploration. And it really is something to see, both inside and out.

The Science Mill is a perfect day trip for families, or anyone who wants to spend a few hours in a fun, interactive learning environment. There are activities suitable for all ages, and their cutting-edge technology-based exhibits, games, and programs, teach science, but not obviously so. Meaning, you’ll be so busy having fun with the hand-on exhibits that you won’t even realize your brain just grew a few sizes. Here’s my son doing some elementary coding to make the Longhorn move.

And here’s a simple, yet educational, exhibit about energy that made me hungry:

The Banana Piano is just one example of how the Science Mill works to show kids to appreciate science in their everyday lives. Their hope is to pique curiosity enough that kids will be inspired to forge a life-long career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math.) Full disclosure: upon entering the Science Mill on our recent visit, I had “we’re so not a STEM family” in my head, but I was proven wrong just a short while later when I couldn’t pull my boys away from one of the hands-on exhibits in the outdoor area. They worked and modified what they were doing with this until they figured it out. Yay, STEM!

Other exhibits include the Paludarium, Cell Phone Disco, Story of Water, K’Nex sculpture, Chemical Reactions, Virtual Body Table, Molecular Detective, Create an Explosion and more. You get the idea. One of the most eye-catching exhibits is the Fractalarium that combines mathematics, art, and biology to get a model based on Romanesco Broccoli. The broccoli takes the form of a fractal – a complex geometrical shape that looks the same at every scale factor. I don’t fully understand it, but it’s sure pretty to look at.

The outdoor area, the Science and Art Park, is currently being built-out, but it’s already a lovely place to enjoy the weather and various activities (and two entertaining tortoises), and there is also the McKay art silo that currently houses a really interesting art exhibit involving Tibetan singing bowls.

The Science Mill is a great destination for kids of all ages, especially over the summer when you can spend a few hours on the exhibits, take in their 3-D movie, then have lunch or a snack at the on-site cafe. There are year-round events and exhibits at the Science Mill, too, so be sure to take a look at their website to learn more.

Finally, the Science Mill  offers great summer camps, both in Johnson City and in locations around Austin, so check those out for kids who are interested in STEM. Or for kids who aren’t yet interested in STEM, but will be after just a few minutes spent learning how awesome it is.

Thanks to the Science Mill for inviting us for a visit. We returned home both happier and wiser.

 
 
   
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