Wednesday, November 28, 2012

World AIDS Day 2012

The Big Girl ChroniclesWorld AIDS Day 2012

“Working Together For An AIDS-Free Generation”

A globally estimated 33.3 million people have been diagnosed with one of the most destructive pandemics in history.  This destructive force to which I’m referring is HIV.  HIV/AIDS has claimed the lives of over 25 million from 1981-2007.  That’s over 25 million families that have stories to share about their loved one’s personal battle with this deadly disease.  December 1st has been designated as a day to increase knowledge of the facts surrounding HIV/AIDS and put that information to use so that not another person has to be added to the millions that have already been affected.  

The truth is that there is no known cure for HIV/AIDs.  However, scientific research has advanced tremendously since this disease was first uncovered.  Take this day to talk with those who are engaged in the battle with HIV/AIDS and learn about what you can do to help.  The following are some online resources to get you started:

You can also take a quiz to test your knowledge at

Know your status.  You can text your zip code to KNOWIT (566948) and find a testing location in your area.  Talk with health professionals and other victims to find out about safer sex practices and what you can do to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Happy Holidays!

The Big Girl Chronicles:  You Said A Mouthful…

Blogging about my life lessons has been tremendously challenging.  It has forced me to take an honest look at myself and how I think.  No matter how I want to blame someone else, the only person staring back at me in the mirror is my own reflection.  I’ve been angry.  I’ve cried.  But when I’m done with my tantrum, I have to grow up.  I’m not too sure that I’ll continue with my blog, but I do hope that what’s been posted thus far has been helpful to you as well.  I’m closing with a renewed sense of self and purpose.   As I take my hiatus for the forthcoming holiday season, I want to encourage you to challenge the negatives that can take the focus off of your goals and potential.  Also take some time to focus on those that are less fortunate and how you can help someone else, but being thankful should by no means include being complacent.  Above all else, love yourself.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Holiday Planning On A Budget

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Holiday Planning On A Budget
The stress of the holiday season is that much more a source of angst for all the single parents that have to make it happen for their children.  Add to that underemployment or unemployment with limited income and the challenge can seem impossible.  Really, that’s not so.  Single parents have developed an expertise at doing more with less.  If you start planning early, you can have an abundant and meaningful holiday season with plenty to spare.

If you’re not in your state’s supplemental nutrition assistance program, you can still have an amazing holiday feast for a fraction of what you would normally pay.  Research your local churches and community service organizations for economically friendly alternatives like the Angel Food Network that usually offers holiday grocery packages specific to the occasion for considerably less than what you would pay at the grocery store.  Local food banks also provide complete holiday meal boxes to feed an average sized family sometimes free of charge or for a small donated canned good.  Another resource is your local public service organizations such as your local fire department or police department that sometimes choose a family to sponsor around the holiday season.

Once you’ve gotten the menu taken care of the next area to tackle is the gift-giving.  The key here is to plan early.  Those black Friday deals are great if you have the cash, but even the cheapest of tech toys and goods can seem out of reach when the money is low.  You can still do fabulous gifts that are economically manageable and more meaningful if you apply a little creativity.  Get out your craft tote and get to work.
*Buy serving utensils that can be found at your local dollar store or general store for as little as a dollar each.  Pick up some industrial strength adhesive, beads and wire and you’ve got all you need to make a beautifully ornate and unique serving set that will be the pride of dinner conversation and should only have cost you less than $2 per utensil to make.

*  For an added touch, or another gift altogether, attach a simple compilation of your family’s favorite recipes fastened together with decorative ribbon and adorned with handmade stencil art. 

*Another goldmine at your local dollar store are hand towels and kitchen towels that can be easily personalized and make great gifts. 

*Still looking for neat gifts for neighbors or children?  Save your wide-mouth jars that once contained peaches or pasta sauce.  Rinse thoroughly and strip of all labels.  Buy simple cocoa, chocolate and marshmallows.  Layer these in the jars, attach a ribbon and add a cute personalized message for a simple thoughtful gift that will help take the chill out of those winter nights.

*Research other crafty ideas online that you would like to receive as a gift.  Make sure that it’s doable on a small budget, get the entire family involved and make gifts that will not likely get tossed in the back of the closet.

*Local community agencies like the Salvation Army also sponsor families by supplying clothing and toys.  Contact your local Goodwill or Salvation Army for details about all the information required and the process to get your family approved.

Finally you know what you’re going to eat and who’s going to get what.  If you have older children, decorations probably aren’t going to be a big deal.  But if you have little ones who are expecting all the magic of the holiday season, creating a holiday milieu might seem another financial burden…NOT.   You can do wonders with construction paper, scissors, tape, glue, glitter, newspaper, spray paint, ribbon and string.         

* Cut newspaper into three by three inch squares enough to line about two feet or more of yarn or string.  Crinkle them up.  Take two feet or more of string or yarn and line through the center of the newspaper squares.  Tie the ends tightly.  Spray paint whatever color of your choice and adorn with ribbon for a festive, one-of-a-kind wreath.  Or leave the ends untied for a garland to line your window or hang from the ceiling.

*Cut shapes appropriate for the occasion using construction paper and decorate with glitter and yarn or string for unique ornaments.

*Use yarn or string to make festive shapes on the wall appropriate for the occasion.  Take scraps from the construction paper cuttings and add them for a great alternative to pricey, traditional d├ęcor.

Whatever you do to make your holiday season happen, be sure to keep in mind the less fortunate that would have nothing if not for the generosity and kindness of people like you.  If you can’t afford a monetary contribution, donate your time by volunteering at your local food pantry, church, community kitchen or homeless shelter.  And remember the true value of the holiday season is having those you love close to share it with.   

Friday, November 2, 2012

Response to Hurricane Sandy

The Big Girl Chronicles:  Response to Hurricane Sandy

Few things are more sobering than when a natural disaster strikes and we are left to face the remnants of its devastation.  Things that have taken a lifetime to build and invaluable landmarks are destroyed mercilessly by the force of nature.  Even more priceless are the lives lost.  Tragedy such as this is never easy to recover from.  But those of us that weren’t directly affected by the storm can do some things to reach out to those suffering from the catastrophe of our most recent natural disaster, Hurricane Sandy, and assist in efforts to reestablish those areas that were affected.

Send a care package.

Now more than ever a simple act of kindness, such as sending a care package, can make an immeasurable difference to a family that has endured this crisis.  Things like toiletries, sanitizers and other personal care items can help ease the stress for families having to care for small children.  If you can afford it, include things like seasonal apparel, blankets, pillows and other items you would need if you had suddenly lost everything.  For children, some comforting items such as a stuffed animal or other items like books, activity pads, crayons and toys could prove useful to help occupy their minds and distract them from the anxiety that parents are likely experiencing during this time.  It could also be helpful to include a disposable camera, postage and prepaid cards that could assist in meeting needs of families in addition to traditional items such as water and canned goods that will be shared. 

Make donations and begin charitable giving.

Businesses can ante up and begin to assist the city in rebuilding by donating labor and supplies.  Begin a charitable fund and/or donate a percentage of sales towards the rebuilding efforts.  As much as your budget will stand, make in-kind contributions of supplies and labor that can be instrumental in repairing some of the structural damage.  Volunteer manpower to quicken the progress.  This is a wonderful opportunity for mental health professionals and other crisis intervention specialists to not only go onsite and help families recoup, but also provide valuable experience for interns.

Personalize your support.

To make your support extra special, share your contact information and consider making a video or some kind of memento introducing yourself to your new “adopted” family.  Do something special like plant a seedling or plant to nurse as you follow your family’s progress.  You can post video online and provide a link, send a dvd, create a blog or some other form of communication in honor of your family reestablishing itself. 

In times like these, imagine the difference that you can make by taking the time to reach out to ailing families that are enduring such loss.  No matter the size of your contribution, the effort that you put forth to comfort someone during this crisis speaks volumes.  The feeling that you get knowing you were a help to someone is more than words can express.  Our continued thoughts and prayers go out to the people affected by Hurricane Sandy.