Archives for posts with tag: family

I don’t think I could bear the thought of going to the complete other side of the Earth – about as close to war as a civilian should ever get – and not make a pit stop to see my parents first.

I will start by saying that I have some of the most loving parents any person could ever be blessed to be born to.

I think this is how your parents always see you. Forever and ever.

They have completely supported my crazy ideas in the past.  This time, I knew it was hard for them yet again to say “okay, we support you – now how can we help you?”  I can only imagine what it must feel like to send your child away to a place you don’t know, to a people and culture that couldn’t be more different than what they have ever experienced.  Moreover – to a place about as volatile and dangerous as the world has to offer.

That said.  We have done this before.  At 12 I had the bright idea that going to boarding school would be the best thing ever for my young developing mind.  And, surprisingly (and I’m sure very painfully) they let me go.  They encouraged me, supported me, always left the door open for me to come home… which gave me the strength to make it through to the end.  That experience was a wild ride.  A girl from Gary, Indiana (murder capital at the time) going off to some school that looks like a castle in the middle of nowheresville Minnesota – with people of a VERY different tax bracket? … not to mention races, cultures, and languages I’d never heard before all huddled into this 150 year old school.  Yes.  a wild ride it was.

This time, I’m sure their fears are different….but I have that same feeling I did all those years ago.  Ms. Niki – wanting to do something everyone else she knows would pass.  Willing to fail – knowing she will do whatever it takes not to.  So they stand by and support.  Financially, physically, emotionally, and in whatever other way could possibly be imagined.

For example, they’ve agreed to play grandparent to the only grandchild I think they’ll ever know for quite a while – my cat Willis.

The Magnificent Willis Maguillicutty

My father seems to be kind of grumpy about this whole portion of “support” but, he’s always like that toward the family pet.  However, he’s usually the most sad when they go.  It’s an interesting dichotomy to watch unfold.  My mother will spoil him rotten in between almost stepping on him.  Again, normal for how family pets are treated in this house.  It’s cool.  I know he’ll be safe.  He’ll be loved.  And he’ll he happy.

Just like me.  I’m loved.  I’m happy.

That said, I’m also growing more and more nervous the closer I get to my departure date.  How will I make it with all these bags?  Will the people hate me where I’m going?  Will I be effective?  Will I truly be in harm’s way?  What if it’s just plain old hard to live there and I hate it? I’m brown – will folks treat me more harshly because of it?  I’m American – will the kids I work with (or their parents) hate me too? None of it too major of an anxiety… just thoughts that pass through my mind.  Especially the one “Niki, what are you thinking?”

Whelp, I leave on this epic journey in 4 days or so.  So many little details to remember and tie up.  I know I’m up for this challenge.  I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds.  I want to really suck up every moment of it.

Written by Niki



Are you gearing up for a new year of sending out birthday cards to your relatives and/or friends? Or are you like me, determined that THIS year will be the year that you will remember everybody’s birthday and actually send out a card this time around?  

Here is a great way to connect with your family and remember them on their special days.  

Your family can decide to take part in a birthday gift exchange. For the next year, 2010, everybody agrees to send one dollar (or whatever amount agreed upon) to each participant on their birthdays. This fun idea guarantees that everyone is acknowledged on his/her birthday and receives birthday cash to buy a little something-something and nobody is breaking the bank trying to include every family member.  

Sounds like fun? Great! Here is what you do:  

For example, you have a groups of about 41 family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, siblings, etc)  

You all agree to send $1 for each birthday. 

1. THE ORGANIZER(S): Collect the names, emails, addresses and birth dates of every family member who wants to participate.  

2. ORGANIZER(S): Send out/email the list as soon as possible at the beginning of the year! Try to get it out at least 10 days before the first birthday listed.   

3.PARTICIPANTS: Buy Notecards  

Some options:  

Die-Cut Notecard Set 50-pk from Target: $9.99  

Notecards from


Birthday Cakes Notecards (Deluxe Notecards) from  ($11.16 x 2 packs of 20 ) $22.32  


Or, to be really budget-friendly…  

1 pack of envelopes (50 count) from $0.99 Store: $1  

1 pack of colored index cards (100 count) from $.099 Store: $1  

4. PARTICIPANTS: Buy Stamps  

One option is the Birthday Mice Custom Stamps: ($20.95 x 2 sheets of 20 stamps)  $41.90   



Other birthday designs are also available.  

5. PARTICIPANTS: Add birthdays to your calendars so you won’t forget!  

6. ORGANIZER(S): Send out email reminders.  

7. PARTICIPANTS: Address and stamp your envelops. Write a nice little personal note on the note/index card. Insert dollar into the package. Send out BIRTHDAY DOLLARS about 5 days before birthdays.  

8. RECIPIENTS: Watch your mailboxes and enjoy as the moolah comes pouring in. And don’t forget to send your share to others on the list!  

TOTAL COST: From $44.90 (low range) to $52.89 (mid range) to $65.22 (high range) 

 TOTAL VALUE: Priceless 

If done right and fairly, everybody receive $40 (amount depends on # of participants and the dollar amount agreed upon).  But really, it’s not the money that makes this a great project. It’s the birthday wishes on your birthday from your extended family and the warm, fuzzy feeling  you get by being remembered by your loved ones.

You can also use this idea for a large group of friends.