Yesterday was Father’s Day and of course the blogs abound with stories of great fathers, terrible fathers, and absent fathers.  I dedicate this post to the brave men and women who take the choice of bringing children into this world seriously.

I won’t write about the epidemic of children left fatherless because of a lack of responsibility, or of the joys of growing up with an awesome father.

I want to celebrate and thank those people who by whichever means have chosen not to have children when they knew they were not prepared to raise them.  Whether through abstinence, contraception, or abortion, I salute those who consciously stay child-less for the sake of said unborn child.

Some people are deservingly praised for raising children despite harsh circumstances or changing their ways to become good parents, etc. I praise those who know their circumstances or themselves well enough to know that a child would not benefit from them.

I respect those who rather than fix a problem, avoid the problem altogether. The people who abstain from children until they are well-prepared to handle them. Some people say that women who have abortions are selfish, som emay be, but I say many are self-less. If you believe that a child is a blessing, then said woman is foregoing a blessing in order to not bring a child into unworthy circumsances.

For some women, it is not financially viable to raise children, and although some may argue that you can work 3 jobs and get government assitance, I say not putting a child through that hardship is better than just scratching by and through a hardship. The same goes for marriages that are on the rocks or people simply not emotionally prepared to raise children. Why have them and hope that you can figure it out later? Rather, make the tough choice, don’t have the child. Choosing to abstain from having children is more responsible than just working the situation out, or hoping it will work out.

Happy Non-Father’s and Non-Mother’s day.

I vividly remember one summer retreat I went to with my church. I must have been about 15 years old.  At the time, I had very clearly defined goals for my life and headed towards them like a torpedo. The “youth group” from my church consisted of approximately 20 youths ranging from about 14 – 21 plus our youth pastor. About half of us went to the cafeteria for lunch one day and sat around a long table to talk. Our youth pastor decides to go around the table and ask each person “at what age do you want to get married and how many kids do you want to have?”

Each kid responded w/ some age range of about 20-25. When it was my turn, I confidently and proudly answered, “I’m not having children or getting married!” All eyes on me widened as the youth pastor gasped and exclaimed “don’t say that! how could you not want kids or marriage!?” The man even asked me if I had family problems or what was wrong in my life that would make me say something like that!

I have to say that at the moment I felt embarrassed and very put down, but a few minutes later when my brain kicked back in I got angry! How dare he! I had spent my life (albeit short as it had been) pouring my heart and soul into academic excellence! I started taking advanced classes in the fourth grade and my hard work had placed me in one of the most rigorous high school programs in the country. I pulled all-nighters with Eastern European history, John Donne, French, German, Japanese, and Jeffrey Sachs. I had bigger plans than marriage and kids. I was going to go to a top-tier University. I was going to go to law school. I was going to travel the world!

How dare he gasp at the thought that a young girl might wish for academic and career success over marriage and children?

I’m not saying that wishing for marriage and children is somehow un-feminist or unsuccessful. I’m also not saying that you can’t have both.

What I do want to get at is why society seems to think that a woman who does not share an interest in marriage and children is somehow unfeminine. That is unfair! It is as unfair as some feminists saying that stay-at-home moms are not progressive.

My life has taken many twists and turns since 15. I am still chasing down academic excellence, with dreams of law school and world travels and I will not cease until I attain all of my goals. I do find myself married now, happily blissfully married. But, I could have done without it. My husband and I were blissful in our relationship before marriage too.

Now that I am a newly-wed, the inevitable question continues to pop up incessantly: “When are you having kids?” as they point at my tummy. “Nope, we don’t want kids,” we answer. And the gasp returns. My mother, as she has always done, acts as though I am cursing myself every time I pronounce those words. My friends laugh it off and say “we’ll see”. It is infuriating. I am happily married. I have goals other than sitting at home with a baby. It does not make me any less of a woman than the lady down the street running behind her four kids.

So to society I plead: respect each individual’s choices. I don’t gasp at stay-at-home moms or ask them if they are unfulfilled. So, next time you meet a woman who proudly replies: “I don’t want marriage or children!” Don’t ask her what’s wrong with her, applaud her courage for going against the grain and respect her goals. Careers can require just as much time and nurturing as a child. Womanhood is not measured by a ring on one’s finger or the ability of one’s womb!

 

logocolom

 

 

 

 

Colombianitos Bingo

Colombianitos Bingo

 

 

Press Release

COLOMBIANITOS Annual Bingo Extravaganza 2009

Saturday April 18th 2009

 

On Saturday April 18th 2009, from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM, COLOMBIANITOS non- profit organization will host its 8th Annual Fundraising Bingo to raise funds for children victims of violence and extreme poverty in Colombia. The event will take place at the Auditorium of the Atlanta International School. Address: 2890 North Fulton Drive, Atlanta, GA 30305. Following you will find directions to get there.

 

Purchasing a game board for $50.00 will enable participants to play 15 times to win fabulous prizes such as, airline tickets, hotel stays, restaurant gift certificates, tickets to Atlanta area attractions and much more.

 

COLOMBIANITOS is a non profit organization that offers comprehensive programs that cover education, sports activities, soccer, music instruction and rehabilitation for children who have been displaced and affected by violence and extreme poverty in Colombia.

 

Thanks to all the contributions received and the money raised, the following has been achieved: 3,800 boys and girls benefit from its “Goals for a Better Life” program in Bogota, Puerto Tejada, Cartagena, Sincelejo, Barbosa and Medellin; 25 children victims of landmine explosions have received physical and physiological rehabilitation; 329 children attend school through the child Sponsorship Plan, 29 youngsters graduated from high school and 9 more are enrolled in various universities with scholarships.

 

In 2008, the coverage of the music and dances program expanded from Puerto Tejada to Medellin, Cartagena and Barbosa reaching 616 children; the school reinforcement was implemented in all the communities where the program operates, 1,485 informative workshops were given to families and 150,806 meals were distributed to children participating in its programs. Without a doubt, this has been possible thanks to the support of people like you, interested in the development of our Little Colombians.

 

To buy tickets or get more information about our programs, you can contact us at (770) 541-1131 or by email at aarizabaleta@colombianitos.org You can also visit http://www.colombianitos.org.

Marriage is great because it brings you together forever with that one special person that touches your heart. You get to share every morning and night together. Every thought and every experience. Marriage is difficult for the very same reasons.

Marriage puts you in one shared house where everything is shared from time and space to food and things.  Now I love my husband and thoroughly enjoy spending time with him. However, I also thoroughly enjoyed having my own place and living alone. I was never one of those women who wished she had someone to come home to. I was the one that rushed home to the peaceful quite of an empty apartment. It was blissful. Everything was done the way I wanted because I did it myself. Everything was right where I left it when I came home. I ate if I was hungry, I didn’t if I wasn’t. I cleaned when the mood would strike me, sometimes from 9pm to 4am. I left a mess when I felt like it. I watched what I wanted on tv. I  shopped for whatever I wanted, budget with my own priorities, sometimes savings was no. 1, sometimes new shoes were top priority. When the mood would strike me to plant a garden I drove to the store picked up a gardening book and a bunch of plants and spent a week doing that. Basically, I lived on my own. On my own time, my own money, my own terms, my own moods, etc.

Now, I am happily married, but painfully aware of my husbands needs. I can’t do my own budget, I have to wait until we both have the time. I can’t ever put new shoes as priority no. 1, savings always goes first. When I got the urge to garden, I had to wait a week until we could re-analyze the budget to create a gardening budget. Then, I spent 2 weeks researching gardening and real estate markets to come up with a gardening plan that would make the house more profitable when we decide to sell it. Then, I waited forever to go plant shopping with the hubby and in the end: Gardening never happened.

Compromise and teamwork can be great in a marriage, in fact it’s indispensable, but I gotta say, I’m a little over it. I get these bouts sometimes where I just want to break free! I imagine myself going back to my old apartment and finding it just the way I left it: perfectly alone. Alas, no such luck. When I want to retreat, I go into our shared home office, until of course, my husband needs to do something and comes in or simply misses me and comes looking for me.  Poor guy, he’s gotten the brunt of my cabin fever frustration this week. he cleaned the office for me and that put me on edge as it was all my paperwork I wanted to clean and organize myself. Again, I’m not a fan of people touching my stuff or doing things I already had a plan to do. And yes, people includes my husband. Then, he tried to be nice and help with something else, but only wound up creating a mess.

My conclusion: I need to lighten up on the “I want to do everything myself” deal. I also need to find a space all of my own where I can retreat to. I let him have the guest room. He has all his stuff in there, I don’t touch his stuff or bother him when he retreats in there for whatever reason. However, he is not like me and doesn’t feel his own room is necessary. This week I will be on the hunt for a space to call my own.

One…we bew our budget when we bought our new cars. 

Two…we didn’t take into account insurance

Three…budget has to be revamped entirely.

Four…budget has no room left in it now. For anything. This is not good!

Five…hubby and I agreed to deposit all of our paychecks into our joint account and transfer a small “allowance” into each of our personal accounts for things like lunch, gas, etc. Hubby decided to just have 66% of his check deposited to joint account and keep 33% rather than set up a transfer. That was fine. This agreement was made in January. His checks or even 66% are not being direct deposited to the joint account. He just deposits a set amount when he remembers, or more accurately, when I remind him 3 times! this week he got paid for overtime. I though whoohoo we will have extra money to cover things. I was wrong. Extra money stayed in his personal account. He is also avoiding putting the money in our newly set up joint savings. I’m beggining to lose my patience. We have had this conversation 5,000 times. I even offered to not have a joint account and we split the bills 50/50. He said no, he wanted a joint account. What is the deal with his hesitation! I’m ready to scream, but it’s so difficult to ask him about his money when I’ve always been so independent. I just want to know where things stand. I want to have one decision we both follow through on!

I was gone for a few weeks because things got hectic at home and at work. We finally bought our new cars. They are quite lovely and we are very hapy with them. We wound uo going over our planned payment by about $100/month on each car, but decide it was ok because we can afford it and they’re great cars.  What we had not considered was the insurance premiums. We figures they would obviously go up somewhat, but for all of our reasearch into the car buying process and all of the math we did, neither one of us thought to get an insurance quote for our desired cars. It turns out that our insurance payments will go up by $350 per month. We were prepared for a rise of $100 – $150 only. This really caught us by surprise and we almost choked. 

Anyhow, after the initail sticker shock, I took a look and saw things we could dispose of.  We bought a warranty for my car that includes a loaner car while mine is at the shop and roadside assistance, so I removed the rental reimbursement and roadside assistance and raised our deductible for collision and that rdeuced the total premium by $280, which reduces the monthly payment by about $46.  Since we have a few grand in the savings account, we figure we can safely assume that we can pay the deductible if it came down to it, and would rather save on the monthly payment. 

Either way, it still rocks our budget quite a bit as we had planned on saving about a grand per month. then, we decided to bite into that a bit to get nicer cars with warranties and now we’ve ate most of it up with this insurance increase. Thankfully we refi’d before we bought the cars and reduced our mortgage payments . My husband did not renew his gym membership, opting to run outside and make use of the bit of gym equipment we have at home, this gave us a little morein the monthly budget. Thankfully though, the hubby is also doing extra work on the side of his 9-5 job, so that money should cover the rise in insurance as well as the overage in car payments, so hopefully we will be about even and able to still save a nice chunk each month. 

I’ve been searching for some sort of virtual assistant job that I could take on in the evenings, but have had some trouble finding a legitimate offer. I’ll keep on it. 

We will be keeping a very watchful eye on our budget in the coming months so that we may adjust as necessary. I think Starbuck will be quicly going out the window along with random shopping in order to stabilize the budget at least until we figure out exactly how our monthly budget works out with all the changes we’ve made.

We sponsor a child through the Colombianitos Foundation.

Colombianitos

Colombianitos

 

She is provided with school tuition, school supplies, and lunch daily. She is also a part of theirs Goals for Life Program, which all sponsored kids participate in. The program aims at keeping children off the streets and providing them with life skills through soccer academies. They are found in the lowest income areas of Colombia where the children are at the highest risk. All for only $25 a month which is debited from my account automatically and tax deductible!

As part of being a sponsor, we get letters from our kid and we are allowed to send her gifts on Christmas and her birthday. I contacted the local program coordinator and asked if the Christmas gifts could be sent late, she said that would be fine. I also got information on the family, the home situation, and her size. I found out that she has 3 youger sisters. All in all it is 4 girls ages 12, 11, 8, and 6. They were recently moved into a home provided by the municipality as their home was destroyed in a mud slide. 

My original plan was to send some housewares such as sheets, etc. However, it became to difficult to find out what they really needed. So, last night I hit up Wal-Mart.  I got some great deals for the kids. I chose to buy for all 4 girls because even though I only sponsor one of them, I would hate to imagine one of the girls getting gifts and not the other 3. I tried toi buyt things they needed that might be difficult for their parents to buy. things that I remembered thinking were “so cool” at around 11. I also wanted something that all 4 girls would enjoy. I bought them school notebooks at 97 cents each. I bought them a pack of about 25 pens at about $1 and 25 pencils with the cool earaser topper and grippies and sharpener the pack cost $2. I also bought them the cool gel glitter pens that was about $2 too (not a bargain, but it has the “cool” factor). I got a 75 pack of colored pencils along with professional sketch books and the professional earasers for the older girls to practice drawing (total of about $10) and construction paper 100 pack of crayolas and kiddie sketch book for the little ones (total of about $7) I also bought them a calculator for $1. Then came the fun stuff: a pack of 10 puzzles (100 – 500 pieces) for $10, Uno Cards for $5 and Dominoes for $5. As I walked out of the store, I walked by the girls section and noticed the clearance section. I found shorts for each of them for $1 and t-shirts for $3! I also picked up really cute bookbags for $15, $10, $10, and $7 for each kid and two jumpropes that were $1 each. All in all I spent about $100. I will also spend about $40 to ship it. My original total budget for this was $100, but both my husband and I know that when it comes to gifts and charity, I always blow the budget.

I am excited to know that I will have provided these 4 girls with clothing, school supplies, and games for $100. TO me, that is a bargain, specially considering that it will be tax deductible.  Shipping will be between $40 – $50, just because shipping to Colombia is expensive, but I’ll deduct it from the taxes and make peace with that. 

If you think you cannot afford to give to charity, just add up your trips to the coffeeshop or the bar. Personally, I spend $100 monthly on Starbucks (and that’s after cutting back) and about $75 on liquor a month. So, if you can cut that in half, you would have more than enough to Sponsor a Child. Everytime you want that extra cup of coffee, you can just think that you are feeding and educating a child that would otherwise not have that opportunity.

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