Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Transatlantic Holiday PSA

Being in an interfaith transatlantic marriage means that Jon and I and our families get to celebrate twice as many holidays.  We do Hanukkah and Christmas, Thanksgiving and Guy Fawkes Day - the list goes on.  It's a lot of fun, and I love introducing Jon's family to my family's traditions (and vise versa, I think)!  But one of the hardest holidays to celebrate from the wrong side of the pond doesn't commemorating any national or religious occasion; it's personal.  It's Mother's Day.

This year, Mother's Day in the UK is March 15 - in the US, it's May 10.  Mother's Day sneaks up on you when you're in a different country than your mom.  You don't have all the Hallmark advertising around to remind you which Sunday it is, and it's almost impossible to find an appropriate card for such a specific holiday out of season.  And, if you forget to send a card on time, it's a lot more complicated to call because of the time difference and dropping by with flowers or bagels for a surprise visit isn't an option.

Jon, of course, planned ahead when he moved to America* and packed a Mother's Day card that he'll send to his mum back in Suffolk tomorrow  And now, thanks to the internet, you can find relevant cards from the US to post to the UK in time.  So consider this your heads up in case you forgot, British expats in the United States - it's time to get your Mother's Day card in the mail!

NaughtyLittleCards on Etsy
*That's one way to explain the British Mothering Sunday card in Jon's desk drawer.  Is it also a possibility that Jon just threw the contents of his desk in London into his suitcase when he moved over and this card is, in fact, a card that should have been sent in 2014.  But let's give him the benefit of the doubt, shall we?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Charlie's a PAL

Back in November, after the Ferguson grand jury verdict was announced, I blogged about wanting to get involved with my community.  I work in the arts at an organization that has deep ties to the DC area, but I felt like it was important to be more personally invested in my city and in the lives of its inhabitants who aren't as privileged as I am.  After researching options, Jon and I found an amazing program called The Homeless Children's Playtime Project that we really wanted to volunteer with; unfortunately, though, Jon's current schedule doesn't allow the commitment that the Playtime Project asks of its volunteers.

So, until we have the time to devote to that sort of program, we've decided to go the route we've half-joked about for years: we're getting Charlie certified as a therapy dog.  On Saturday morning, our application having been successful earlier in February, Charlie and I arrived at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Northwest DC for preliminary approval by People Animals Love.

PAL was founded to "leverage the human-animal bond to make the DC metro community a better place," and partners with organizations all over the area to bring pets - primarily dogs as cats can be unpredictable, though other animals are allowed as well - into  contact with people who, for whatever reason, can't have their own.  The majority of the organizations PAL works with are hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes, but I'm especially enthusiastic about their collaborations with after-school programs and libraries.  It's incredibly beneficial for children to read to dogs, who don't judge the children's abilities, and having access to pets maximizes children's natural affinity for animals to stimulate scientific inquiry, improve reading and math, reward good behavior, and cultivate social skills.

Along with a dozen other dogs and their owners, Charlie and I attended an hour-long orientation; proved his ability to sit, lie down, stay, and come; and then mingled for 30 minutes with some of the seniors at the AFRH.  He passed the morning's tests with flying colors, and now we have to do two site visits at approved locations for final evaluation and approval.  I can't wait to get more fully involved in our community with Charlie!