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"Pace is all. Rhythm is master. Consistency is your friend."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Overwhelmed and Yet . . .

I've been (once again) trying to catch up on my magazine reading - mostly political in nature - and I've been trying to keep up with the many email lists I am subscribed to - again mostly political in nature - and I've become, well, disenchanted.

I used to think that by "getting involved" I could make a difference, have an impact, help move along real change. And while I still believe that I'm getting frustrated with the enormity of the situation. That is, I try to stay on top of so many issues, and the mere fact that there are SO many issues to keep up with, that I'm overwhelmed by all that needs to be done.

It's like when I was a kid and my mother would tell me to clean up my room. Usually she didn't bother making me clean it up until it was a disaster area, so when I went into my room I would suddenly be struck with a terrible feeling of dread, of hopelessness. How would I ever be able to clean this WHOLE room all by myself? It just wasn't possible! And so, usually, for the first 20 minutes (or maybe it was an hour - Time has no meaning for a child) I would simply fall onto the floor and cry.

Well, that's kind of where I'm at right now. I just want to fall on the floor and cry because I just don't see where I fit in. I don't see where I can help because the need is so great and I don't know where to start. I want to do it all and yet, right now, I'm really doing very little.

It's like my booklist. I have this list of books that no matter how many books I read off of it the list never seems to get shorter. Well, sometimes I get really excited about a book or two that I've found and I add it to the list of "to read" but I feel like I can't wait and I toy with the idea of reading several books at once. But I know that I can't do that because I'd be short-changing myself by trying to keep up with the plots or arguments of several books at once. I'd get confused, then frustrated and wouldn't enjoy any of them. Instead, I finish reading my current selection and then move onto the next title. I don't find myself wishing for fewer great books to read, just more time to devote to reading them.

So I think the answer is to go local and to pick something or someone I want to give some of my time to. And then, I think maybe it's time for me to figure out what one or two "causes" I really and truly care about, the ones I feel most passionate about and think I will have the most impact on - those are the one or two things I should focus on. While I don't want to become ignorant with regard to all things political - there is after all a VERY IMPORTANT election coming up in 2008 - I think I need to take a step back and stop getting so worked up over it.

Yes, I think that's the answer, at least for now. Going local. Going small. More is not always better. While my intentions are honorable, they are ineffectual because I they have no focus and I feel scattered, as if I know a little about a lot of things and not a lot about anything.

So I'm going to go read now. I'm reading an amazing novel, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, about a very scary future that isn't really that far-fetched. Kind of Orwell, 1984-esque but in a different world, a world where women have become nothing but vessels for procreation or beings well-suited for domestic work. It's a frightening and intriguing tale and I'm going to go back to it.

Because while I've been going a bit crazy doing so many other things, I haven't been reading enough - I haven't been doing what I want to do enough.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Think Before You Drink That Glass of Water

World Water Day March 22, 2007

According to

"The world water crisis is one of the largest public health issues of our time. Nearly 1.1 billion people (roughly 20% of the world’s population) lack access to safe drinking water. The lack of clean, safe drinking water is estimated to kill almost 4,500 children per day. In fact, out of the 2.2 million unsafe drinking water deaths in 2004, 90% were children under the age of five. Water is essential to the treatment of diseases, something especially critical for children.

This problem isn’t confined to a particular region of the world. A third of the Earth’s population lives in “water stressed” countries and that number is expected to rise dramatically over the next two decades. The crisis is worst in developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The world water crisis is created by a confluence of factors including climate and geography, lack of water systems and infrastructure, and inadequate sanitation, something that 2.6 billion people (40% of the world’s population) lack access to. Some of these countries have additional problems, including high levels of arsenic and fluoride in drinking water.
Many women and young girls in rural areas in Sub-Saharan African and other parts of the world must trek as much as six miles everyday to retrieve water for their families. Due to this manual labor, such women and children are prevented from pursuing an education, maintaining their households or earning additional income.

Thus, the lack of clean water, coupled with the lack of basic sanitation and a dearth of hygiene education, is one of the largest obstacles to progress and development in these regions and across the world. The UN has prioritized water access among its
Millennium Development Goals because it contributes to such widespread suffering, including increased poverty, high child mortality rates, depressed education levels, and political instability. Without question, the world water crisis condemns billions of people to a perpetual struggle to survive at the subsistence level, thus inspiring millions to engage and alleviate this problem. Join us. Get involved today.

As if I need to say it again, but if you're reading this you are one of the LUCKY ones. So what are you going to do for those who aren't?

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

It's That Time of the Month Again

I'm blogging over at The Soccermom Vote today. I'd love to hear some of your thoughts here or over there. With all this early politicking for the 2008 Presidential election, I want to know what two issues are the most important to you, right now, today. What issues will determine who you vote for in '08 or what issues would you like to see addressed before you cast your vote that you aren't seeing addressed now?

Like I said here or there, I'm really curious about this one.

Have a great Monday!!!

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Friday, March 16, 2007

My New IPod :)

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It Happens All the Time

This was the entry from The Blog of Henry David Thoreau today. (If you want to read something really interesting this is one of the good ones. The blog updates daily with an excerpt from a journal entry of Thoreau's that corresponds to that particular date. And since he was a New Englander it's a great read for me, especially when he talks about the changing seasons as I can see the same things, more than a hundred years later, in my own backyard.) Anyway, here's the quote:

"No sooner has the ice of Walden melted than the wind begins to play in dark ripples over the surface of the virgin water. It is affecting to see nature so tender, however old, and wearing none of the wrinkles of age. Ice dissolved is the next moment as perfect water as if it had been melted a million years. To see that which was lately so hard and immovable now so soft and impressible! What if our moods could dissolve thus completely? It is like a flush of life to a cheek that was dead."

I always find it so amazing how cyclical and repetitive things are. In this world of new technology and never before seen medical advances, etc., in everyday life and in most people's realities things haven't changed all that much. Sure there are cellphones and our perception that we have "less time," but the very essence of our daily living, of our families, of what we do with our spare time - not much has changed. While our great-great-grandparents would probably think we look like chickens running around with our heads cut off, they would still be able to recognize the majority of what we do in our 24 hours of time day in and day out.

And this entry of Thoreau's is particularly intriguing to me because he could have written it yesterday; it's exactly what I've been seeing myself for the past three days.

This is just one of the many reasons why I love to read . . .

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Parade Day, My New Website and Whatever Else I Think Of

St. Paddy's Parade Day was a lot of fun on Sunday. Our city holds a St. Patrick's Day parade every year on the Sunday before March 17th. It's a grand tradition that was always sold as a great day for the family. Of course that's not how I was originally introduced to the holiday.

It used to be that my husband and his friends (along with girlfriends/boyfriends/spouses as they became a part of "the group") would all meet up at someone's home and, usually Shannon, would cook everyone breakfast (and I don't just mean coffee and donuts; I mean green pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs - you name it!). So everyone would eat up and start drinking up around 9 a.m.

Once everyone was feeling all warm and fuzzy inside we would all gather in one room (I remember the basement one year) and someone would make a toast. Now this was no ordinary toast. This was a toast that was thought about, and often written down, in advance. It was something to bring a tear to your eye, except that we were all getting drunk so we usually just giggled a lot.

Then it was time to call the taxies and make our way out to the bars. Now the bars are along the parade route so I usually got to see, oh I don't know, all of 15 seconds of the parade. Which was fine by me at that time in my life when I all I wanted to do was follow everyone else into the bar and continue to get hammered all before 1:00 p.m.

So we drank. And we drank. And we drank some more. Finally it would get to the point where many of us had been separated; several were stumbling down the sidewalk trying to find another bar to let them in; and I would get just plain tired. So my husband and I would wander back home and take a much needed late afternoon nap. (It's a very strange feeling to be hungover from drinking when the sun hasn't even set yet)

Well, that's the way it used to be. But over the last few years things have changed dramatically. Our usual hosts have moved away from the city, but others have picked up the gauntlet to host breakfast. Still others have moved away and don't always make it back for the parade. And then there's the most dramatic change of all - we're all getting old and many of us have children now. So instead of drinking our faces off on Parade Day, well, we actually went to the parade on Sunday, with our children, and we actually saw all two hours of it.

And it was so much fun!! The sun was shining. It was in the 50's. My boys loved it, although my younger son didn't like the "loud noises" of the bands when they would play right in front of us. And, well, we saw plenty of people drinking their "coffee" and "Coke" and having a great, but in moderation, time ;)

Isn't it nice to know that while everything changes, traditions will survive in some form or another.

On a completely different note, I wanted to (finally) introduce everyone to my new website. It's a BIG step up from my last attempt and I'd love to know what you guys think. I've started a weekly journal of sorts over there, too. I've taken quotes (I LOVE quotes!) that I come across or that strike me in some particular way and I write a thought or two about what I think it says. But I'm trying to use it more as a meditation; something to give people to think over in their own lives and interactions with the world. I don't know. We'll see how it goes. But there are also all kinds of links to blogs I read, websites I like, books I'm reading - well, it's a lot of stuff about me!!! Me! Me! Me! (Isn't that what this technology is all about anyway? ;)

It's just my way of sharing my interests with others and really a way for me to have a central catalog for everything I like to do on the Internet. (I'm also a closet wannabe graphic designer, so once I started I just couldn't stop and I didn't know what else to do since I'm not selling anything!) I plan on adding to it over the coming weeks - maybe some writing samples, action campaigns, etc. - but it's ready for public viewing and I'd love for you to go check it out.

OK. This post has gotten entirely too long. See what happens when I don't type for three or four days? If you got all the way to the end - Thanks!!!

Oh, one more thing. I believe that Cheryl has touched down in NH and I should be getting a visit at some point tomorrow. It's been almost 10 years since we've seen each other and I can't wait!!! I'm giddy with excitement! And I get to show off my boys and my husband and I get to meet her adorable daughter and, well, sometimes life is just so sweet that it reminds us why we put up with all the other crap.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Everyday Life is Beautiful

The kids are in bed (and have been since about 8:30!) My husband is out. My house is quiet except for the occasional hum of the fan inside my laptop. I don't have much of "substance" to blog about tonight, but I felt like writing - so here I am.

It's been a good couple of days. My four-year-old just wrapped his Dr. Seuss week and even tried (much to my surprise) green eggs and ham yesterday. I can't get him to even put his lips on a piece of fruit or to smell anything resembling a vegetable. He didn't like the green eggs and ham and made it very clear to me that he "only tried a tiny bit." What is it about preschool teachers? What kind of magic do they practice?

It's been an exciting 24 hours for my older son actually. Today was his first friend from school birthday party. He's been looking forward to it all week because the birthday party was held at none other than Chuck E. Cheese's. Now, we're boring parents and we actually frown on most fun, so my son had never been to Mr. Cheese's, but had gotten a taste of the action through - what else? - TV commercials. Well, it apparently lived up to the hype because not only did I hear about all the "cool" things he did all afternoon, but when he came downstairs tonight to tell me that he had taken a shower all by himself (under my husband's supervision; please no calls to social services) I believe his exact words were: "Mommy! I took a shower all by myself! But it wasn't as much fun as Chuck E. Cheese's." And when I asked him whether cuddling with me or Chuck E. Cheese's was better I was met with a pause and then, "Chuck E. ... They're both the same," and a big smile.

And so here I sit. I could call Cheryl right now and see what she's up to, but I'm not sure I've completely recovered from our last phone call - a four hour telethon that lasted until about 2 a.m. Friday morning!! Thankfully, my husband had the day off and I was even allowed to sleep in. (When I thanked him for that, he said "No problem. I mean it would be pretty hypocritical of me if I didn't let you, right?" Isn't he the cutest?) So I'll just rest up since I'll be seeing Ms. Wallaby next week!!!! I can't wait! I can't wait to hug her and to introduce her to my boys and to meet her little bean and to reminisce some more - CAW! CAW! CAW! (I'm still tearing up when I even think of that one, Cheryl!) - so here's to a safe trip and good times :)

That's enough rambling for tonight. I'm going to go do some reading. I'm still trying to catch up on my magazines. That's the funny thing. Magazines just keep coming so I feel like I'm never any closer to catching up . . . I'm sure I'll have something interesting to report after tomorrow's St. Paddy's Day Parade. It's not as "sloppy" as it used to be now that many of our friends have children who actually want to watch the parade and need supervision while they do so, but something good always happens.

Sweet dreams.

P.S. Has anyone noticed my latest online "gadget?" Put your mouse over any of the links in my posts (sidebar, too, I think) and you'll see a bubble appear that shows a preview of the webpage I've linked to. Pretty cool, huh? ... Well, I think it is :) Thanks to WannaBeHippie (do it now ... see?) for sharing it.

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Thursday, March 8, 2007

A Day to Celebrate & Help

Today is officially recognized (yes, by even the U.S.) as International Women's Day. Dating back to 1908 when 15,000 women marched through NYC fighting for shorter work hours, better pay and voting rights March 8th has evolved to include activism, celebration and a chance to honor and respect women around the world for the struggles they endure and ultimately conquer.

In several countries (Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam) IWD has become an official holiday, much like Mother's Day, where women are given flowers or small gifts in a show of appreciation by their children, husbands, boyfriends, etc.

Events are planned all around the world including rallies, fundraisers, lunches, lecture and discussion groups, all demanding better pay, more opportunities, health care, a safe place to raise a family, etc. - not unlike the women marchers from 1908; so while much progress has been made in the last 100 years there is still so much more that needs to be done.

While I will be going about my daily routine today I am going to take a minute to make some kind of donation in honor of all the beautiful women in my life. I am one of the lucky ones. I have a wonderful, safe home in which to care for my family; I have good health insurance to assist us when we are ill; My husband and I are both employed with jobs that do not cause us physical harm or require us to work obscene hours and provide us with enough money to afford food, shelter, clothing, toys for the kids, etc.; While our country is involved in a war the war is being fought in Iraq and I do not fear for the safety of myself or my children when I step outside my front door.

But the women of Iraq do have that fear; the women of Darfur are still struggling daily to protect themselves and their families from the genocide being perpetrated in Sudan; Mothers in Africa are dying by the thousands from the AIDS virus and leaving behind millions of orphans who must raise themselves and their younger brothers and sisters; a mother and her daughter were in court yesterday fighting a citation regarding "illegal housing" within town limits (a town just miles from where I live) that posed a health hazard both for the family and the public - the family of four lives in a 15-passenger van - in not one, but now two separate towns. And what would be less of a public health threat? Having them sleep on a park bench or in a cardboard box in an alley when the temperatures have been dropping to the single digits for the last week? That would be more suitable and less of a health code violation?

My point is that we cannot be complacent and assume that because so many of us have computers and heat and food and clothing and all kinds of toys and gadgets that the rest of the world is just as fortunate. What is in fact true is that if you're reading this - you're in the minority when it comes to your lifestyle. Poverty, extreme poverty even, is an epidemic and we must not forget those, most of them women and children, who are struggling everyday just to survive.

So here is a list of some of my favorite organizations. Make a donation. Get involved. Find something locally. But do something. Do it in the name of your mother, your sister, your aunt, your girlfriends, your daughter and do it for all those women who don't have the opportunity to help themselves unless they are given the means. If we all do just a little bit we will create a world as of yet unimagined.

  • - an organization that is fighting extreme poverty through legislation and direct action.
  • Women for Women International - my favorite right now where you sponsor a woman who goes through a year long program to help her get herself and her family back on their feet after suffering the atrocities of war. (My sister in Kosovo is about to graduate from the program which she has said has helped her immensely since her husband is still unable to find work. She lives in a house with just two rooms, but has told me through letter writing that I am welcome their any time. Yeah. Take that in for a moment. And it cost me only a few dollars to help change someone's entire life.)
  • Global Sistergoods - an online marketplace where fair trade items are available from around the world made by women who are paid a fair wage for their creations.
  • - an international humanitarian organization working to eliminate extreme poverty with a special focus given to poor women.
  • The Greater Good Network - another online marketplace where you can purchase fair trade goods with a portion of the proceeds going to charities to fight breast cancer and hunger, save the rainforests and abused animals and promote child health and literacy - you choose where you want your money to go.

That's just a small list of organizations I have had good luck with. If you don't see what you're looking for above, find your own outlet. But do something. Don't wait another day.

P.S. March is also Women's History Month so you'll be hearing about that in upcoming posts as well. It's time to rise up, ladies!!!

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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Evening News

While watching the evening news last night I was struck by two stories in particular. Usually I just want to throw something through the screen after watching what broadcast news has to offer about the day's happenings. Instead I got thought-provoking and, well, a story about Wal-Mart which of course made me want to throw something through the television screen :)

  • I saw this story on WHDH in Boston where apparently one elected official has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to smoke in a car with a child under the age of five or weighing less than 40 pounds. (The guidelines come from the child safety seat law where a child is required to be restrained in a car/booster seat until reaching the age of five and 40 pounds.) First time offenders would be fined $25, while repeat offenders would be fined $100 for each subsequent violation. Apparently about 12 others states are also considering similar legislation including fellow New Englanders CT and RI. Maine already has a law in place that fines drivers $50 if caught smoking in a car with anyone under the age of 18 in it. What do you think?

  • The second story involved a young mother, Cindy Jaeger, who is the wife of an Army serviceman and a former Wal-Mart employee. (It was one of those "shorts" so I can't find any kind of article about it on WHDH's website, but of all the network Boston stations, my opinion is that WHDH is the most reliable so I'm going with what they said in their report.) According to Jaeger, when she applied for a job at Wal-Mart (it just pains me to even type their name btw! And now they want to put a supercenter within a few miles of my precious new home ... YUCK!!) she informed them that she would need weekends off and possibly extended leave if her husband were deployed to Iraq. Apparently that wasn't a problem and she was hired. Well, Jaeger's husband was recently deployed to Iraq and she went back to her supervisor and asked for one month of unpaid leave so that she could work out day care arrangements and other adjustments that would be needed now that she would be the sole parent, caretaker of the house, etc. 24/7. A big adjustment I think we'd all agree. Well, Wal-Mart said "no" and told her that if she didn't come to work then obviously, she'd be fired. Jaeger is now a former employee of Wal-Mart. So I was thinking. I wonder how much money Wal-Mart has made off of those magnetic yellow ribbons that say "Support Our Troops?" Apparently, supporting our servicemen and women doesn't include the family they leave behind to fight in a war that's being sold as necessary to protect the safety and freedom of everyone here in the U.S. including the management of Wal-Mart. Must you ask me again why I loathe this bottom-feeder-like corporate leech?

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Just Checking In

Well, I've still got the sniffles and I haven't had a decent night's sleep in, oh, three days? But I wanted to check in with my online comrades and let you know that, yes, I am still here.

It was a nice weekend. My older son didn't have school on Friday because we got some icy, snowy mix in the A.M. and there was a delay to the start of school. Since he only goes to school in the morning, well - snow day! We took advantage of the time off by making it a "pajama day" where we don't change out of our jammies all day. It was low key and I was feeling rotten, but we still managed to do our Dr. Seuss reading. When I asked if my boys wanted to read "The Cat in the Hat" they were all over it. My younger son picked "Green Eggs and Ham" while my older son offered up the suggestion that we climb into my bed, pull up the covers and read there. Great idea.

We read our books, we cuddled and my older son made me grin from ear-to-ear as he often does: "Mommy? I love books. They teach us about everything!" Just another example I can look to when I'm feeling unsure that I'm doing anything right with these two precious lives.

My need to imprint our reading time was especially important to me that day because I had just read this extremely sad post I had stumbled upon at one of the mommy blogs I read. This mother had been blogging through the nine months of her pregnancy, posted a notice when it was time for her to go to the hospital two weeks after her due date, posted a short entry about Walker's birth and then wrote a final entry about the death of her newborn just five days after his birth.

When I read it I was almost moved to tears. I'm more of a visual person when it comes to crying, but this one almost changed all of that. The other thing that kept me from crying, I think, was the strength and vision of this grieving mother. She wrote about all these blessings that she was able to find during those heartbreaking five days and yet her devastation is palpable. I'm sure she isn't as together all the time as she was in this particular moment - I mean, I don't think I could get myself out of bed ... I don't even want to think about it.

So when I was reading with my boys I was sure to give them an extra big hug; to look deep into those twinkling blue and chocolate brown eyes that so obviously hide so much; I let my heart ache for a few moments as I fought the urge to scoop them both up in my arms and hold them until, well, until the world couldn't hurt them - EVER.

Although I've thought of baby Walker from time to time over the last few days, our lives haven't really changed. I've tried to treasure my moments with my children just a little more, but I know that months or weeks or even days from now I'll snap at one of my boys for being too loud or for hitting his brother or I'll forget to just stop during my busy day and just be with them.

For little Walker's mom, well, she'll never forget her little guy because he'll always be with her in his absence. Why is it that it takes something so sad to make me remember how lucky I am?

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

One Book Down, 11 To Go

Well, I told you all at the beginning of the week that I was going to be going on a "banned" book tour this week and while I thought I would be able to read three books in seven days, it looks like I'll have to settle with just two. I've been suffering from a pretty nasty cold for a couple of days and my reading output has suffered.

But I finished "The Chocolate War" today and I'm starting "Bridge to Terabithia," as soon as I finish this. I was somewhat disappointed in myself because as I was reading I realized how much I had forgotten since I'd read the novel in my sophomore(?) year. It was almost like reading it for the first time. I'd completely forgotten the ending (which was tremendous), but it was apparent to me that in high school I pretty much approached assigned reading as such: Get it done. Remember as much as you have to for the quiz/report. Move onto the next assignment.

Sad really since there were so many great titles on those required reading lists. So I decided to do something about it. I was tipped off by fahrenheit451moderator on a previous post that the Pelham Public Library in Ontario was going a step further with the "Freedom to Read" campaign and issuing a "Banned Book Challenge." The challenge is to read as many banned or challenged books as you can between now and June 30th. The library is inviting the world to participate and have started a blog with more information about the challenge, list after list of challenged books, as well as plenty of links for further research about censorship and banned books.

I'm taking the challenge and I've pledged to read 12 books by June 30th. I've got a list to work from and was (again) surprised to read some of the titles that have earned challenges. My biggest surprise was the listing of Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax". Apparently, the Laytonville, California School District challenged this classic because it "criminalizes the forestry industry." (One quick wit remarked, "Don't they mean the de-foresting industry?")


So, yes, "TheLorax" has been added to my list of subversive reads and I think I'll have my son bring it to preschool next week when they celebrate the life and writings of Dr. Seuss.

P.S. I just realized that Dr. Seuss' birthday is tomorrow (March 2nd)! In celebration, gather your kids, get your copy of "The Cat in the Hat" and join millions of others in reading this classic tale at 2:36 p.m. tomorrow. And when you're finished with that, check out the Cat in the Hat 50th Birthday website; Send a birthday card to the cat and Random House will donate one book for every birthday card sent to children in need.

While you're there be sure to find out other ways you can help Random House get books into the hands of children who so desperately need them through the Project 236 project. (I was actually saddned to read that MA ranked 50th among all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Canada. Alaska was #1 for cryin' out loud!!)

It's estimated, according to the CITH website, that children in middle-income neighborhoods have on average 13 books per individual child, while children living in low-income neighborhoods have one book for every 13 children. That's appalling! And it's also why public libraries are so important. Literacy is still a BIG issue in the U.S., so be sure to take this opportunity to find out what you can do to help.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!!!

First Book: Do You Remember the Magic of Your First Book?

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