Every post between now and the end of the year, I’ll be highlighting a charity at the start of every post. NONE of these charities have asked me to do so; they are charities I have been touched by or believe in/donate to myself. I’ll tell you a little about the charity, why I support it and a link.
HPP has three major goals:
- Healthy Babies: ensure that parents give birth to healthy babies and successfully bond with their infants
- Safe, Nurturing Families Where Children Thrive: ensure that parents are knowledgeable, motivated and empowered to support their children’s success and healthy development
- Economically Stable Families: ensure that families have access to information and resources that move them towards permanent, stable housing and economic self-sufficiency.
I first read about the Homeless Prenatal Program when it was highlighted in People Magazine in early 2011, and it struck a chord with me.
The fastest growing population in poverty are women with children.
As a woman who grew up poor and saw her mom struggle, I want to help them. We were never homeless and my mom has never touched drugs or alcohol, but I did drop out of high school in part to help my family pay rent and for food when I was barely 17. My mom was a great mom, and she always wanted more kids…but one of the biggest reasons she didn’t was that another child would have tipped the balance from the knife’s edge to major poverty. I’m also lucky that my mom knew that her biggest priority for me was an education so that I would have options.
As a teacher I had students who WERE homeless. Who were the victims of abuse (including children who had been removed from their parent’s homes). Who had parents who loved them but had no resources to help them with even third grade work. Who rode the bus for over an hour each way from a homeless shelter to attend seventh grade. Who felt like giving up because their parents referred to them as “the fuck up of the family” (true story, but I wish it weren’t). Who joined gangs for a sense of belonging. Maybe if Boston had an organization like this, I might have seen fewer of them.
These are families in crisis, who need help. I’m lucky enough that prenatal care, or developmental support is well within my financial grasp. I don’t question that I’ll have a roof over my head or my children’s. This past mother’s day, rather than buying me gifts, I asked for a donation to this organization; something I’d like to make into a tradition.
It’s probably the thing I miss least about living in Boston. Or at least the part of snow that involves shoveling out my car, icy roads, scraping ice off my car windows, the paucity of parking spaces, and a thousand other nightmares. While I’m focusing on the ones you feel most as a car owner, it’s not exactly fun to trudge through slushy icy sidewalks, or in the road if the sidewalks have yet to be plowed. Not owning a car means shivering on the side of the road or at a subway stop wondering when (if?) the next bus/train will arrive, and the inevitable weather related delays in public transportation.
Even having said at that…it just doesn’t feel like Christmas or winter without snow. While I may hate shoveling it, there’s something magical about a day when you’re free to just relax in your home and watch it blanket the world outside. The joy of catching snowflakes on your tongue. The immense delight as a student (or teacher) of an unexpected snow day. The utter stillness of the world just after a snow storm. The way a tree’s branches looked encased in ice as if it were crystal.
After almost two years, I have to admit, I’m almost as excited about the prospect of snow when we return home as Elanor is (because she doesn’t remember ever having seen it before).
Imagine my pleasant delight, then, to know I could see “snow” in Singapore.
The Tanglin Mall has a “Snow storm” every day (twice on weekends and public holidays) through January 2nd, 2012. I just had to take the family. Sure its’ fake, and there’s something strange about snow and shorts (but not a killing dose of hypothermia) but I’ll take what I can get.
We got there a bit before the Avalanche (which turned out to just be a cascade of foam at foot level…meh) began, and let Ellie explore.
We had been talking up the snow to Ellie quite a bit, but she was getting out of sorts by the time things got going around quarter to 8. This should have been a red flag to us (as her regular bedtime is 10pm and the child hates napping with the force of a star going supernova), and in fact, looking back I can tell she was getting sick. Instead we thought she’d just had a long day and was feeling a bit cranky.
The storm itself is, if you let yourself believe for a few moments, actually quite magical to watch. It certainly made me homesick for a few moments. Then I got caught up in observing other people’s reactions. I take snow for granted–I don’t remember a winter without it, and until our move to Singapore, I’d only had two Christmases away from Boston–in 2006 when we were in Mumbai, India for our wedding reception and 2007 when Ravi and I went to New Orleans. Snow is just something that has always been part of my life, so I’ve never really given thought to what it must be like to encounter it for the first time or how magical fake snow might seem if you’ve spent your life in the tropics.
Here’s a vlog of the snow storm…my favorite part isn’t my reaction to the snow, but those around me and the car horns that started honking in enthusiasm.
Sorry for sound issues…especially when I was next to the generators, it gets hard to hear me.
Ellie was awake during the snow storm, but was uncharacteristically “meh” over the whole thing. Within minutes of the novelty wearing off, she had passed out on me. I handed her to Ravi to get photos and video of the crowd as they giddily danced (literally…there was a conga line) and played in the “snow.” We didn’t let her play in it as one of the signs I’d read said it could be toxic if ingested and the poster on the mall’s website warns against letting it get in your eyes. To me, this did not seem like stuff I wanted Elanor playing in.
While I am generally not the over reactive parent, I’m still not sure I’d love my kids playing around in that stuff. I walked around in it for a bit to get photos and it seemed more like the stuff you spray on your windows than soap (although there was obvious soap bubbles on the ground from the avalanche). But if you want to play in it or let your kids play in it, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a hosing off area just off to the side by Starbucks.
It’s an annual tradition at Tanglin and one worth checking out if you’re in Singapore for the holidays. Especially if you’re feeling a bit homesick for winter…the sight of kids dancing around in fake snow in the bathing suits and grownups dropping dignity and doing a conga around a tree will give you a smile.