119. Meet all the Littles I Haven’t Met Yet

I write about my sorority occasionally every single chance I get. Clearly I enjoyed my experience. A lot of people that aren’t involved in Greek Life question how a fraternity or sorority differs from any group of friends. There are a lot of ways that the Greek experience is different, but few of them are tangible. There’s really no way to explain exactly what is brotherhood or sisterhood. One thing that’s NOT standard in most friend groups is the idea of Bigs and Littles. And like plenty of sorority women, I think that my big is the smartest human being on the face of the planet and that my little is perfect.

Look at that perfection right there!

Look at that perfection right there!

Thanks to the ever-continuing tradition of Bigs and Littles, I now have a sizable family tree. My aging, post-grad brain can’t handle learning the name of every single new member, but I always get excited for a new addition to the family line. I would love to be able to meet all of them as they are welcomed to the family, but, you know, post-grad problems, I have a job and stuff. The next thing I knew, I had multiple generations of littles down the chain that I hadn’t met yet!

Big Little Night with the fam in 2011

Big Little Night with the fam in 2011

In March, I made it back to Rochester for the first time in ages and was able to meet all of the littles during multiple events throughout the weekend. I felt crazy old…I’m a big to the 5th! (And yes, I just had to count down the chain on my fingers.)

My L4 Jenna, me, my L5 Amanda, and the original little Heather

My L4 Jenna, me, my L5 Amanda, and the original little Heather

RML!

RML!

I hope to see more of my littles (all the littles) throughout this project and include them on some of my goals!

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I’m Baaacckkkkkk

The last time I updated this blog (over a month ago, whoops) I mentioned that I was sick and work was crazy. Looking back, that might have been the biggest understatement  since the time Bill Clinton uttered “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”. (Sorry 90s kids, I’m on a mid-to-late 90s SNL kick.)

I’ve probably used work being “crazy” for a few missing posts by now. Back when I was in college, I used to think that I’d have so much free time once I was working a “real” job. I was incredibly wrong. I miss having my free time scattered throughout the day – it forced me to get stuff done! Now I get home at the end of the day and am just exhausted. I don’t want to do the dishes or my laundry or clean or work on my blog. It doesn’t help that during the past month, I’d come home from work and just open the laptop and get right back to work from the comfort of my living room. That’s a habit I really need to break.

Why has work been so crazy? Earlier this year, we found out my boss wasn’t going to be coming back from her maternity leave. She had decided to stay home with her newborn son. I don’t blame her at all! Half the time I don’t want to leave Lilly to go to work! But since it was unexpected, we did not have a replacement for her and clearly there were tasks she did that need to be done. We split them up and I somehow wound up with housing selection. Housing selection is not easy. Housing selection is long and painful. Oh – and I didn’t know anything about housing selection going into it. For three weeks, I was working every hour I was awake on every single day – including when I was in Boston! The process is nowhere near done, but now that I know what I’m doing, it’s much easier!

So onto that other part…being sick. When I first wrote that, I had a sore throat. That’s all. My throat had been bothering me in the mornings for about a week prior and coming back to Reading from Joplin made me feel TERRIBLE. I blame the major change in the weather. Eventually I felt so miserable that I went to the doctor – not something I normally do. It turned out that I had strep throat. I was given antibiotics and told to take some time off work, but since it was right at the beginning of housing selection, my “sick days” were really “work from your bed so you don’t contaminate the office” days.

Around this time, I also discovered a lump in my breast. Now, this isn’t the first time this has happened – it happened when I was 16 and 19 and both times I was told it was nothing and that I was just “a growing girl” (which is a big fat lie cause my boobs haven’t changed since ninth grade). But this time it was right where my underwire is and it actually hurt to wear a bra, so I had it checked out. First they did a needle biopsy, but the doctor wasn’t able to get anything because the lump was rock hard, so they scheduled me to have it removed. I don’t like surgery. Or needles. Or getting put under. Or pain. So I really didn’t stop to think “oh hey this could actually be serious” until AFTER my surgery when the doctor said he’d call with the results. Luckily, everything is fine and I’m just “enjoying” my time at home, recovering from surgery.

My plan is to go back to work this week, although I’m not sure when and for how long…sitting at my big computer just to type this isn’t the most comfortable. I’m still super tired and feel like I’ve been kicked in the ribs. My plans for today include taking the dog for a brief walk, looking at my work email, and maybe working on another post or two. Hopefully this is the start of work slowing down and blogging getting back to speed!

My recovery buddy!

My recovery buddy!

Just Another Manic Monday…

I’m back from Joplin, but unfortunately I’m sick AND it’s a very busy week at work, so I’m not sure when I’m going to be write my Joplin post. For now, I’ll just leave you with my newest Joplin video!

In other exciting news, I found out that I’m going to be moving at the end of May! The building that my apartment is in is going to be renovated over the summer, so I needed to go somewhere. At first there was talk of just moving me for the summer, but the idea of having to move twice (during check out and RA training) made me incredibly anxious. There was a period of time that I knew I was moving but just didn’t know where I was going at that was pretty nerve wracking too. Right before I left for my trip, I found out where my new apartment was going to be and now that there’s only eight weeks to go, it’s time to start packing!

Going through my list, I noticed that a lot of items had to do with where I live. It looks like a lot of things are going to be crossed off during the moving process…I REALLY want to get rid of stuff before I move. Another exciting thing about this move – my new apartment will have a dishwasher AND a washer and dryer. Now that I’m back in Pennsylvania, I kind of just want to skip ahead to the point where I actually move!

Junior League

I leave for my big Joplin trip tomorrow, so I figure I’ll just keep going with this week’s theme of volunteering!

Before I joined the Junior League, I had several different “pictures” of it in my mind. The first image that came to mind was a bunch of rich old ladies that wanted to do something good with all of their time and money. Next, I imagined a bunch of bored, rich, housewives…that view may have had something to do with “The Help“. So when somebody recommended that I join Junior League as a way to make friends, I was completely baffled! I didn’t think that I was old enough to join Junior League. But I decided to give it a try – at the very least, I thought I could maybe get some babysitting jobs out of it.

At my first meeting, I quickly learned that Junior League was NOTHING like I imagined. Yes, there were some rather well-off older women and some stay-at-home moms, but there were also working moms and single moms and unmarried professional women and recent college grads. Even though everybody had joined Junior League for different reasons, everybody supported our Junior League’s mission of helping kids in the Reading school district.

Similar to a sorority, my first year in Junior League I was considered a new member. We were welcome at the general meetings but also had our own new member meetings and planned a new member project. The ultimate goal of your new member year is to become familiar with ALL aspects of Junior League so that you can easily serve on a committee your next year.

I’m currently in my first active year and I am on the New Member Committee, so I am still attending all of the new member meetings and teaching the new members about Junior League. Each year you get “placed” with a different committee and while we don’t find out our placements until May, I’ve had a few people ask if I would be interested in a certain position, so I have a feeling where I’ll be heading next year!

Unfortunately with my work schedule, I haven’t been able to GO to every volunteer opportunity, but I try to help out behind the scenes. Last month I was able to spend most of my Saturday volunteering at Junior League’s Young Women’s Summit. Each year, the Junior League invites teenage girls from the Reading school district to come together for a weekend to learn leadership skills and discuss how they can improve their community. It was really fun to go an interact with the girls, but my favorite part was chatting with a former attendee that is now going to college and doing all sorts of awesome things. She came back to speak to the girls about her experiences prior to and during the summit. It was really emotional but at the end of her presentation, all of the current attendees told her how brave she was and that they looked up to her and admired her because she had worked hard, despite everything else going on in her life.

Joining Junior League has not only allowed me to meet people, but it has been an awesome way to get to know Reading and the surrounding areas. I’m excited to see what comes next!

Volunteering

This was originally going to be part of my “Manic Monday” post, but as I started writing, I realized it was easily turning into it’s own post! Volunteering is something that helps me get involved in my new communities as I move, so I’m more than happy to write an entire post on it!

The first time I can remember volunteering was when I was maybe nine or ten. I was with my Girl Scout troop and we were helping to pack boxes at the local food bank. I knew the boxes were going to “poor people” but I didn’t think they were in my own town. One of the girls from the troop wound up sneaking a peak at the list of families getting these packages and all of the sudden she blurted out, “C—, why is your family on this list?!” We were all so stunned! I remember being appalled by the one girl’s behavior – she was going out of her way to look at a confidential list, which was bad enough, but then to call a “friend” out in front of everybody?? I couldn’t believe it. I was also shocked that a family from our town, let alone a family I knew, needed help. It made me realize that you can’t always “see” when somebody is in need of help.

Through Girl Scouts and various other programs, I frequently volunteered in my community until I graduated high school. My favorite opportunity from Connecticut was to help out at a summer school/day camp for students with special needs. These students ranged anywhere from having really hard to control ADHD all the way to having severe mental disabilities. Several students didn’t speak at all. When I went to college, it was harder to find ways to volunteer. I was living in a brand new community, so I didn’t know WHERE to look for these opportunities. My contributions at that time were limited to helping out with food drives.

My sorority highly values both service and philanthropy. By this point, service was an old hat, but philanthropy was something completely new to me. I was a broke college kid – I had never donated my (non-existent) money to any cause and I had never run any sort of fundraiser. My pledge class and I collected cans to raise money for a local animal shelter and my senior year, I was Mr. RIT chair! I was still able to help out my hometown as well – one of my pledge sisters was from my hometown and shortly before Christmas one year, we held an event at the house to make Christmas cards which we then distributed to nursing home residents at my grandma’s nursing home.

Mr. RIT 2009

When I started at the University of Delaware, I quickly found ways to volunteer. I hosted a “Day of Service” project my first year which gave me one of my favorite UD memories – we ran out of bread for the “PB&J Jam”, so I ran out to buy more. When I returned, it was POURING so I asked some RAs to meet me at the door. The RAs and residents participating in the program actually made a line stretching from my car into the building and passed everything down fireman brigade style. I WISH I had a picture of it. Back then, “Day of Service” was only complex-wide, but it soon became a campus event and now various alumni groups hold their own service events the same day that UD is hosting Day of Service. This year I met up with some alum from Reading to volunteer at an animal shelter.

My favorite organization that I got involved with at UD was the Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation. I had heard Andrew’s story years and years prior when I was still going to RIT. My then-boyfriend was from Wilmington and had siblings that had attended school with Andrew. The B+ Foundation’s goal is to raise money for children’s cancer research and to assist families with expenses they are unable to cover. I got to personally meet Joe McDonough twice during my time at UD – the first time he came to speak to my staff as we were racing money for UDance and the second time I invited him to come to speak at Widener University during my internship. My favorite part about working with B+ is that they emphasize that every little bit helps. At Widener, Joe McDonough told the story of how just $400 was able to get a little girl a portable oxygen container so she could fly home and spend her final days at her own house with her family members and dog.  I really hope I get to work with B+ again.

Since moving to Reading, I’ve continued to volunteer in my community and in other parts of the country. I joined Junior League a few months after moving here and have been able to help with several organizations that serve the children of Reading. I’m planning on doing a separate post on Junior League later this week! I was also asked by my students to be a trip advisor for Alternative Spring Break. I said yes without even knowing where I was going to be going or what I was going to be doing. I wound up going to Joplin, Missouri to help with two organizations and in just a few days, I’ll be heading back!! I’m super excited and Joplin is DEFINITELY getting its own post! 

If you have any favorite volunteer stories, be sure to leave them in the comments!

It’s Just Another Manic Monday…

I don’t think I’ve done anything off my list since Christmas…and I haven’t written those posts yet! At the rate I’m going, I should just save them for next Christmas…

I clearly haven’t been writing so what have I been up to? Well, first off work has been CRAZY!! Recruitment was a few weeks ago and since then I’ve been really busy with housing selection stuff. There’s also a LOT of changes going on in the office. I’ve been coming home and doing work (after work) and honestly by the end of the night all I want to do is watch TV and lay around with the dog. Here are some other things that have been on my mind or keeping me busy…

Tropical Vacations

It seems like EVERYBODY has been off on some tropical vacation recently! Carly (aka The College Prepster) was just in the Dominican Republic, my friends are off in the Caribbean (jealous), and from what I’ve seen on Instagram lately, Sarah Vickers from “Classy Girls Wear Pearls” and her handsome fiance KJP are on some beach somewhere. Meanwhile…I’m heading to Missouri.

I had so much fun on my vacation with my big and my little last fall that we’ve been talking about planning another trip. We definitely can’t afford Disney again any time soon, but some ideas that we’ve thrown around include a cruise, California, and some sort of beach vacation. By this time last year, we had a lot of details worked out for our October vacation, so we should probably start looking into that soon…

Thirty-One Bags

Recently I’ve been seeing EVERYBODY carrying Thirty-One bags. They’re perfect for if you have to drag a ton of crap around (which I do) and they’re really cute – you can pick different prints and even have the bags monogrammed! I’m a big fan of the “Zip Top Utility Tote“. I’d love to have one to carry all my work stuff around. It’s one of those companies that you have a “party” to order things, so maybe I’ll have one…eventually…when I have time…so after graduation!

The Gym

Back in January, I did join a gym. I’m trying to go three times a week and get in some sort of groove, but my work schedule (not to mention the weather) has been all over the place, so I really don’t have any sort of routine. Coming up with a workout routine that works for me is on my list (#84!) so this is an area that I’m definitely going to work on in the coming months!

102. Print out pictures that I’ve taken and display them.

I might be dating myself here, but some of my favorite days in middle school were the days after a field trip. Why the day after? Because everybody would have taken their rolls of film to get developed and a good portion of the day would be spent passing around those little envelopes filled with pictures. I remember spending HOURS organizing my photo album so my favorite pictures were all in there.

Unfortunately with the invention of Facebook, my favorite one hour photo place took a major hit. Instead of passing around a pile of pictures, now you could click through them while not paying attention during an Art History lecture. Now there are even MORE ways to share pictures. I swear, I have like eight different accounts just to see people’s pictures.

And then came Shutterfly. For those of you not familiar with Shutterfly, it’s a company that lets you upload and print pictures and photo gifts like mugs and calendars and cell phone cases. I’ve used them to print photos for YEARS, but I’ve also made photo books and Christmas cards. My two favorite things about the company is the frequency that they send me coupons and the ability to print to Target. I’ve gotten some AWESOME coupons since I’ve signed up as a Shutterfly member. I printed a photo book for last year’s Joplin trip and shortly after Christmas, they sent me a coupon for 101 free prints…hence this entry.

So with that coupon, I was able to print some pictures from the past few years. The next step was figuring out how to display them. I have quite a few pictures in frames in my living room, but with all the effort I spent hanging them, they’re not coming down until I move out. I wanted something cute, but also easy so I could change the pictures frequently…maybe that will encourage me to print more!

I wound up creating a display above my bed, as my bedroom didn’t have very much decoration. I’ve got some colored twine taped up with hair bows clipped at the end to disguise the tape. The pictures are clipped to the twine with clothes pins. Very Pinterest!

My newest picture display!!

My newest picture display!!

In other decorating news, I did attempt to fix the gallery wall in my living room, and the frame that holds my concert tickets promptly fell down. Again. I also thing I can do more with my bedroom. With as much as I’ve moved around, I always feel like once I have “finished” decorating, it’s time to packet it all up and move again!