Thursday, June 21, 2007

Getting there....

Getting there…

I’ve watched many of my Leaders come back from International conference floating on air. They are completely blissed out and they can’t say enough about the experience. I’ve always wanted to attend International but there has always been one thing stopping me---Money!!

I read articles on how Leaders raised the funds to attend International with much interest. I kept my eyes open for scholarship applications until I saw the Ripplewood Foundation scholarship. After a bit of scrambling, I managed to get the application in on time.

I got it!!! The only sad thing is that the scholarship was designed for those that would be traveling alone. No family trek to Chicago. I was going to be on my own for this one. Gulp. I haven’t been without my family --ever.

Even with the Ripplewood Scholarship, which generously pays for the conference registration, I still needed to figure out how to pay for room and board. I turned to my La Leche League Area, which is always so helpful, and they kicked in some cash. Still there was a deficit and I decided to take care of it the old fashioned way. I got a job. Actually, I got two.

One of my jobs, was a work at home position with very flexible part time hours. So for several months I sat at home and typed my little fingers raw for my friend’s transcription business. Then I had a dream part time job pretty much fall into my lap. I get to coordinate fitness clinics for a local non-profit. Get this—I get paid to exercise with children. Yes it really couldn’t get any better but it was only a few hours a season and the transcription job was what really made it possible for me to save money.

My husband helped me budget my earnings. Every week we would meet and figure out if I was staying on budget if I was saving enough. These weren’t fun meetings because even though I don’t usually have a lot of money, when I do have it I’m awfully good at spending it.

In a matter of months, I had earned enough to make it to Chicago. That was a pretty big load off my shoulders. It isn’t that I hate working but I have to admit that several hours of sitting on the computer was taking its toll on my household. I just baked muffins for the first time in months because I no longer have any deadlines hanging over my head.

Of course, none of this will matter in about a month when I’m in Chicago having a ball. Still I thought that it would be cool to share on how I got to attend International. I know I can’t be the only one working hard to get there.

To all you hard working mamas—BESOS!!!

**********************************************************************************

Yo he visto lideres regresar de la conferencia internacional flotando en las nubes. Vuelven felices y no puden describir la experiencia. ¡¡Yo siempre he querido asistir a la conferencia internacional pero siempre he tenido el mismo obstáculo—el dinero!!

Con mucho interés, he leido los artículos sobre los lideres adquiriendo los fondos necesarios para asistir a la conferencia internacional con mucha interes. Me quedé alerta buscando aplicaciones de beca. Vi la informacion sobre la beca de “Ripplewood Foundation.” Y la pedí. Claro, que entregé a aplicación en los últimos momentos.

¡¡Gane la beca!! Lo triste fue que la beca Ripplewood es para los que viajan solos. No puede ser una exursion para la familia. Tengo que viajar sola. Imagínate--- yo que nunca estoy sin mi familia.

La beca paga por la registración pero todavía me tocaba buscar dinero para el hotel y los otros gastos. La Liga del Leche local me ayudó con un poco de dinero. Pero todavía tenía un déficit y yo arreglé el problema en una manera muy tradicional. Consegí trabajo. Acutalmente consegí dos trabajos.

Uno de los trabjaos, era en casa con unas horas muy flexibles. Por varios meses me maté trabjando en la computadora para la compañia de una amiga. Tambien me gané un trabajo ideal. Es un trabjo de coordinar clinicas de ejercicios y buen salud para una organización sin ánimo de lucro. Me pagan por ser ejercios con niños. Es un trabjao perfecto pero es de pocas horas. Por eso fue el trabjo de computadoras que me ayudo ahorar el dinero necesario.

Mi esposo me ayudó ahorar y presupuestar mi sueldo. Cada semana tuvimos reuniones para examinar el presopuesto y hacer cuentas. Estas reuniones eran difíciles. Para mi ahorrar el dinero es difícil, pero gastarlo me viene muy naturalmente.

En unos mesos de trabajo ahoré el dinero que me faltaba. ¡Que alivio! No es que no me gusta trabajar pero yo noté que las horas de trabajo estaban afectando mi familia. Hoy coci al horno para la primera vez en meses. Tengo más tiempo porque no tengo que preocuparme sobre el trabajo.

Claro que en un mes voy a estar disfrutarme en Chicago. Yo quería contar lo que me tocó hacer para llegar a Chicago porque yo sé que no soy la única trabajando duro.

Para todas las madres trabajando duro para llegar a Chicago---Besos!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sling-Boy

My nearly five year old son, Ethan, proudly went to Jr. Kindergarten today with Big Panda and Little Panda in his hot pink 60's paisley Heart to Heart sling... tandem.

My heart leapt.

With joy, initially...say if he were going off to a NiNi Meeting or a LLL Conference.

Then dread ... as I imagined the flack he might get from people who have never seen:

a) babies worn in a sling all morning long
b) a human daddy caring for his twin panda bears
c) one panda who loves dinosaurs and another who loves trucks riding in the same sling.
d) pink paisley from the 60's

I quickly gave him the junior low-down on the benefits of the baby carrying, and the who-does-it world wide, as ammunition against any baby-wearing doubters that might cross his path today. He nodded his head in agreement, satisfied that he was taking the best and easiest care of his babes.

My neighbor's nanny from Nepal agreed all her babies were carried that way and on the back too!

My heart leapt with joy again at the bus stop when Ethan's Sr. Kindergarten buddy, Ryan, came up lovingly to ask about his bears and administer the tenderest of hugs and kisses to them. None of the other grade 1-5 children at the bus stop did anything more than glance over at the proud Panda Dad who was hoping to convince his teacher to change his "Show and Tell" day to today.

That last little face peering out of the bus window waving good-bye happily ... sigh ...

Yes ... back to the lists ... the TO DO lists ... less than 5 weeks to go for my LLLI conference!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Cafe Con Leche

My co-leader Valerie and I love this concept, especially the name. Cafe con Leche. Coffee with Milk. Valerie speaks Spanish, I speak French. It has a good bite to it. The name sounds like it could be a worldly and cosy cousin to La Leche League. Part of this millennium's phenomenon.

Times have changed.

Even Bake Sales I've heard, can no longer sell home baked goods - only store bought goods. Not sure how people make money or enjoy community treasures that way, but apparently it is to maintain standards of quality, cleanliness, and maybe peanut free-ness. Having worked in both the food service industry and the food processing industry, and personally not being able to keep up even close to "Fly Lady" standards in my kitchen, I still beg to differ about store bought being better than home-made.

At my Ikenobo Ikebana (Japanese Fresh Flower Arranging) Sensei's 1st Arrangement of the Season Annual Potluck, my lady friends bring the best takeout in Mississauga. There is no time, no will, no know-how to whip something up homemade, and the takeout is remarkable and cheap. I appreciate sharing these "secret" finds of the best of the best takeout in town, sometimes we just don't have time to roll a hundred sashimi, which my son Sam could gobble down in five minutes, and to tell you the truth, my Godzilla sushi's just don't go over all that well. I am out of practice, after all, we are ladies busy enjoying our flowers.

Even at La Leche League gatherings in the city, rarer are the days of the homemade potluck dishes of old family recipes or new homemade experiments.

One of the reasons my co-leaders and myself appreciate conferences and leader days is the shot of adrenaline that you get from the ether that glows throughout LLL events. It helps boost our moral after years of dribbling memberships, enrichment and series meetings, the emergence of poorly copy cat breastfeeding buddies and clinics, etc. and wondering at the back of our minds if LLL is obsolete ... or rather, the way LLL reaches out to people is obsolete. The conference get togethers helps us to glean fresh ideas, and maintain the old ideas that are the key to what LLL is and what has held firm and true after all these years.

Not all things modern are better, as we well know, and it takes time for science to catch up to mother nature, but sometimes you have to step out of the box to find where your potential tribe is hanging out.

And I don't even drink coffee!

Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

World Breastfeeding Celebration 2007

We had one of our World Breastfeeding Celebration Planning Meetings today (our LLLC WALK). LLLC Brampton Group and LLLC Mississauga Group have been working together with Peel Public Health for the last few years to make a bigger event (in a major mall this year), more awareness (where is that media?), and a working relationship with each other. One of the attractions at this event is the Quintessence record breaking "Latch-On". Alas, last year, my youngest (4 year old) spotted the cheese doodles, the 50th LLLI Anniversary Cake, in chocolate, and wanted nothing to do with latching on cue, luckily too for the sensitivities of the newbie mothers. DS is a slight boy compared to his nursing sister at that same age (who somewhat gave me the nursing EBGB's being just short of the size of a small adult) ... he on the other hand has this cowboy swagger like he's pulling up to the bar when he asks for his "ni-ni".

My two co-leaders from Brampton Group, Valerie (also a scholarship recipient) and Cheryl will be attending the conference and sharing a room with me. We were accredited around the same time and our three children each are all close in age. Between family, work, and volunteer work, we have all not had many moments to spare to catch up on conference e-mails or communicate with each other about the conference ... just these rush e-mail notes or whispers stolen to each other at monthly WBW planning meetings between needy bobbing heads, "The scholarship deadline is tomorrow!", "The airfare just jumped $20. overnight!", "I've booked us into the hotel with the two bathrooms!", "Have you picked your sessions?", "You've got to sign up for the Harry Potter!", "I've got my Canadian Flag pins and my Laura Secord Canadian maple leaf chocolates", "Fill this card out for customs for your camera", "Don't forget your red & white for the parade"... barely a moment to respond ... I say, we'll have an hour on the airplane to catch up!

I'm not sure how I can fulfill my scholarship requirements to share my experience with others (I can barely figure out how to make a living, or carve out my new "after children attend full day school" career). Valerie is a passionate global thinker and takes wonderful photographs. Cheryl is a calm, thoughtful, sensitive person who has a remarkably organized home and work life. I wonder how I can translate these chaotic mumbled thoughts up in my head that merely amuse myself no end into something useful ... take a picture, sing a song, tell a joke, write a story ... ? Such an introvert that I am, but it's true that from behind the scenes, I think that I like to make a good party. I guess that's why I'm on the World Breastfeeding Celebration Planning team.