I’m fairly certain that my mother has seen me at my worst-many times-but as an adult I definitely don’t want her to see me as a lazy unmotivated slob. My mom rocks, she’s totally laid back and that makes it even easier for me to go into vacation mode when she’s around. We always have big plans but somehow we sleep in and sloth around a bit and then the day is mostly over. I love these visits but I wonder if she loves them as much as I do?
I just spend the last four or five days cooking, eating, and napping. I’m done with the food part of that cycle. My body is rebelling and I honestly think I could fast for a week and not feel the least bit hungry. Why do we overeat on the holidays?
We had lots of sloth-ish family time while my 9 week old baby nephew was here and I think my sister-in-law enjoyed it just as much as I did. I’m a little bit of a freakishly excited new aunt but my nephew loves me mucho. I’m good with babies, really good. I think it might be partially due to the squishy comfort they find in my arms-let’s not mince words, my boobs make me a very comfortable place to hang out. Mostly, I think babies can smell love and I love this baby, he’s adorable and has such a great temperament. We’re going to be buds, of this I am sure!
What do you do when family is in town? Do you go into “tourist” mode and entertain or are you like me and just let your hair down?
Merry Christmas Eve dear readers! I can’t help feeling giddy when I think about the crazy festival of happy giggling that explodes in my house every year on Christmas Day. I know that we are a fortunate family and that there will be others this evening and tomorrow morning that won’t experience the same explosion of magic that my children will. Thanks to an amazing donation from the makers of Zhu Zhu Pets my children and I know that there will be at least 104 smiles on the faces of children in need this Christmas Day.
I am grateful to Cepia, LLC for including me in their “Random Act of Zhu” holiday toy campaign. They sent me 104 Zhu Zhu Pets and Kung Zhu Hamsters to distribute to local children in need. You may remember my first “random act”, it was so rewarding that I’ve literally been floating from the experience and I intend to become more involved with Denver Safe House in the future.
The site of my 2nd Random Act of Zhu has special meaning for me because when my children were younger we were part of a playgroup and every holiday we would donate gifts to the Ronald McDonald House Denver. I remember the first year that we donated we took all of the kids to pick out gifts and then when we delivered them a very kind woman in reception took us on a tour of the facility. Our kids were too young to truly understand what their gifts would mean to the families spending Christmas away from home but to this day I remember the tour and the conversations we all had.
The Ronald McDonald House’s main focus is providing comfortable, low-cost housing to out-of-town mothers and fathers needing to be near their hospitalized children. Many children from rural parts of Colorado come to Denver for treatment and the Ronald McDonald House makes it possible for these families to be near their children during what can be a frightening time in a child’s life. The Zhu Zhu Pets that we brought to the house this week will bring smiles to the children who receive them and joy to the hearts of the parents who are able to celebrate the holiday with their children.
The Ronald McDonald House Denver facility is a 35,000 square foot residence with 31 bedrooms with private baths, and includes 2 kitchens, a laundry, 5 TV lounges, dens, and indoor/outdoor play areas. When we visited yesterday the house was decorated for the holidays and favorite childhood characters lurked in every corner….
Some News Is So Big It Deserves Its Own Page – That is the caption on the Huffington Post Haiti Earthquake page. Click on the link. Read the headlines and look at the images.
I have to be honest, there are times that I catch myself looking at images like the ones we see from Haiti and not quite believing that conditions such as these could possibly exist. I’ve never seen anything like this first hand. Most of us would never imagine sights like these.
We read about celebrities, politicians and church groups that visit places where the daily reality is nothing short of a nightmare. They go to “help”, to bring attention to causes, and to raise funds. The prospect of heading to Haiti right now when nearly 95% of the rubble from last January’s earthquake is still to be removed, almost 6000 people have died from a cholera epidemic, and political unrest sparks daily violence, is a little frightening.
Yet, it is something I have contemplated. It’s an opportunity that could possibly present itself…. possibly. Maybe. The Heart of Haiti campaign will be sending one of the program ambassadors (of which I am one), to Haiti in January over the one year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake.
I’ve lived an incredibly blessed life. I grew up in a loving family, had the best education, married a loving man, made beautiful babies….. no matter what difficulties I’ve had to face somehow I’ve always landed in a good spot. Sometimes this feels weird, like I’m not sure I deserve to be quite as lucky as I am. I know that much of this is due to my attitude and the perspective with which I choose to look on things, but my reality is a very good one. I am grateful and I try to be generous. I’ve been generous in my community with my time but mostly I’ve been generous financially. My “giving back” has always been quite comfortable. I’ve never looked into the eyes of a man or woman who faces challenges very few Americans could ever fathom. There is not a doubt in my mind that traveling to Haiti would be a life changing experience, one that would extend beyond myself, to my community, my family and my readers, but…
Am I worthy of such an experience as traveling to Haiti?
Does that sound stupid? It feels like it sounds stupid but that is the question that has weighed on my mind lately. Do I want to go to Haiti? Yes. Why? … Why? Well-and here is where I fall flat…. My eyes fill with tears and I feel that tightness of anxiety in my chest. I should be able to say something of great significance that would set you all in awe of my fabulous-ness. Instead, I make up words like “fabulous-ness” and wipe the snotty tears from my nose.
Personally, my own community has struggled with more tragic events over the past three years than statistics say should be possible-so much for statistics. More than once I have uttered the question, “how does one go on after this?”. When I look at the images of the Heart of Haiti artisans on the Macy’s website I feel gratitude. EXTREME gratitude for the hope and humanity they represent. If after all these men and women have endured (even before the earthquake), they can create and live and love and smile … well, it just proves how resilient and determined we all are as a human race. These people inspire me and they give me hope.(Well, lookie there, The Blonde, seems to have answered the question!)
Just being an ambassador for this program has been incredibly fulfilling. Last spring I set a goal for myself-to live with purpose and to hold all of my work up to the MomActive mission statement, “To motivate and empower women to be positive role models for their families”. My involvement with the Heart of Haiti initiative is the cherry on top of all of the amazing work that has come my way in the past 8 or 9 months.
These are my fellow Heart of Haiti Ambassadors, visit them all and read about their experiences with this project. Read about the women they have chosen as The Heart of Social Good and learn how trade for aid initiatives touch the lives of so many people in so many ways. And stay tuned because I will be following the blogging, vlogging, fabulous-ness of the ambassador that does travel to Haiti because I know that the experience is likely to change all of our lives.
One Brown Girl: Tracey Friley @OneBrownGirl
Ananda Leeke: @anandaleeke
Green Your Decor: Jennae Petersen @greenyourdecor
Mommy Niri: Nirasha Jaganath @mommyniri
The Broke Socialite: Shameeka Ayers @brokesocialite
Madre Minutes: Barbara Collins @madreminutes
Real Life Sarah: Sarah Pinnix @RealLifeSarah
Peas for Prosperity: Christy Annis @Peas4Luck
My Brown Baby: Denene Millner @mybrownbaby
The Fabulous Do-Gooder: Bessie Winn-Afeku @fabdogooder | @sheismeprogram
I was brought up to be very cognizant of others and to use proper manners at all costs. My kids are complimented all the time on their manners. It may be the only area of parenting that I have had some success in.
Sometimes being polite can include putting your own feelings and desires aside. This isn’t easy but it builds character… or something like that.
Have you ever just known you were meant to have something? To be part of something? Maybe there was a really cool project that someone was talking about and you felt like you should be a part of it. So you steamroll over every thread of self-restraint you have and become a part of it?
Maybe you would normally feel embarrassed by you own audacity, but you really don’t because you know that your heart and soul love this project and the people involved?
I have. I did. Recently. I’m the 11th wheel and it was meant to be.
Have you ever met someone and known instantly that they were your kind of people? When we were in Las Vegas earlier this year for BlogWorld Expo, Stephanie Schwab invited me and Michele McGraw to a nice dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio in The Venetian. It was an amazing meal but most it was the quartet of women gathered around the table that made the meal. The conversation that evening covered the gamut of topics from our upbringings to our careers and we even touched on politics!
Stephanie introduced us to Karen Bantuveris that evening. I was “social media style” acquainted with Karen and had vaguely heard of the organization she is Founder & CEO of, VolunteerSpot, but this was the first time I’d had the opportunity to sit and get to know her. She’s one fabulously fun gal! Later that night, while visiting VolunteerSpot.com and reading one blog entry after another, I discovered what an amazingly brilliant thing Karen has done.
Volunteerism is essential to the economic and social workings of many communities. The organization and mobilization of volunteer efforts, whether in the wake of disaster or for a simple school fundraiser, can make or brake the experience for all involved. The “burnout” rate for volunteers is a hot topic in the news and it’s something we’ve been addressing in my own community this fall. The extraneous “noise” and hoops one must often jump through just to give of their time can be overwhelming. I have often found myself weighing the value of my time (and the time taken away from family, work, and household responsibilities) against the good I’m able to accomplish. The reply-all emails, clipboards, online groups, and late night reminder messages can be incredibly time consuming and frustrating; it was just this type of frustration that fueled the launch of VolunteerSpot in 2009.
VolunteerSpot is a free on-line organization tool that simplifies organizing and coordinating volunteers in your community, congregation and social networks. VolunteerSpot’s simple sign up application makes it easy for community members to participate without having to wait for approvals and passwords, there is no software to install, just easy, free scheduling and sign up tools.
Through my work with The Blogrollers, Fair Winds Trading, and Macy’s as an ambassador for the “Heart of Haiti” initiative, I’ve been asked to highlight someone that is doing great things to raise awareness, empower and/or inspire others, and is all out passionate about making positive changes in her life, her community (online and/or offline), or maybe even the world! Karen Bantuveris is someone who personifies many of the themes present in the Heart of Haiti project. I chose to highlight Karen as a person who represents the “Heart of Social Good”; Karen is passionate about increasing parent participation in schools, engaging parents to fund education technology, and using new media tools to inspire social action in the ‘real’ world.
Thank you, Karen, for sharing your talents and for your passion for empowering and inspiring others to make a difference in their communities!