It's all about the little things…

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Week 9-Senses, Day 6-Relief

Usually we think of senses as the five I have already blogged about so far this week, and sometimes we even include a sixth sense.  But this morning as I was doing laundry I was overcome with a different sense that was very tangible.  A sense of relief.  Relief that I didn’t have to put quarters into the washing machine in order for it to clean my clothes.  Relief that I could walk away until I was ready to take them out of the washing machine and put them into the dryer that I also don’t need to put quarter into.  I’m thankful for the sense of relief that seems to be surrounding me like a security blanket now that we are starting to settle in here in WV.

Yes please!

My sense of relief started my wheels turning about the type of relief those who have suffered a disaster must feel when help arrives.  The two disasters that immediately popped into my mind were Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti.  Say what you will about either of these former White House residents, but the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund is working to rebuild Haiti’s future through economic opportunities.  CBHF has been there since the beginning bringing immediate relief to Haiti, and is now refocused their efforts towards long term reconstruction, job creating, and various economic opportunities.  CBHF has raised over $53 million dollars to date and continues to work hard to make sure Haiti continues its road of recovery. Nobody does disas relief better than the American Red Cross. Clara Barton began a tradition so rich that the ARC is the nation’s leader in emergency relief. 91¢ of every dollar donated to the ARC goes towards helping others I times of need. Plus who do you runs all those blood drives? You guessed it, over 4 million people give blood through the ARC. Blood is truly the gift of life during national and international disasters.


Clinton Bush Haiti Fund Donation

American Red Cross Donation

So here’s to you relief! You seem to visit us at the times when we need it the most. You manifest yourself in our lives I ways big and small, but we can always feel you when you’re there. We can find you in laughter, blood, sweat, and even tears. My biggest relief is knowing we can all change the world. One person, or blog, at a time.

Week 9-Senses, Day 5-Touch


One example of how cool PTM is

Seeing as there are only five senses it doesn’t a genius to figure out that touch is the last sense left.  You would be correct in your assumption that this is what this post is about but I can’t tell you how thankful I am to touch all my belongings again.  After four long days, two air mattresses, three sleeping bags, and 360 miles we were reunited with our bed, our TV, and our trusty pots and pans.  I told you we liked to eat.

A lot of times when we took trips when I was little it was to visit my Dad’s family in Philadelphia.  I loved visiting my younger cousins and going shopping with my aunt at all the cool stores we didn’t have in NC.  But one of the things I remember most was visiting the Please Touch Museum.  Founded in 1976 PTM is nationally recognized for it’s efforts to reach and teach children from all socioeconomic backgrounds.  PTM was the first national museum to target families with children seven and under.  They are experts in how to make learning feel like playing and vice versa.  I still remember standing in a bubble and being a weather reporter with a live map.  Sure there are lots of children’s museums with these activities now but almost twenty years ago this was not the case.  The Colorado Neurological Institute is touching lives and changing futures by helping patients who have suffered brain and spinal tumors, epilepsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, hearing impairments, movement disorders, ALS, neurotrauma and many others.  This non-profit that was founded over twenty years ago is the largest facility of its kind in the Rocky Mountain region.  CNI prides itself on being physician driven and not hospital driven.  This unique environment helps patients and doctors work together to diagnose, educate, and rehabilitate as a team.  I love that by helping someone regain how they touch the world CNI really touches their soul.

Please Touch Museum Donation

Colorado Neurological Institute Donation

So here’s to you touch!  You help us tell the difference between hot and cold, and decide if we want to wear the cotton or cashmere sweater to work.  You guide us to the light switch on the wall and to the slow swimmer in Marco Polo.  But nothing compares to the touch, the feel, of giving.  The fabric of our lives.

Week 9-Senses, Day 4-Taste

It’s barely noon here on the east coast and I have already had a plethora of yummy things to eat and drink with plans for more to come.  Chef Husband fixed his specialty of breakfast hash browns, fried eggs, bacon and sausage.  Now we’re at Starbucks taking full advantage of the free internet and having a delicious skinny caramel macchiato.  Only 140 calories for a grande.  Yes please.  So today as we continue on our new adventure I am thankful for my little taste buds.  I hope they’re ready for all these new restaurants and holes in the wall that we’re about to discover.

Breakfast was something like this...

Taste is such an important part of our daily lives.  I mean obviously we need to eat to fuel our bodies but, our choice to eat a bacon cheese burger instead of a garden salad with oil and vinegar dressing is because the first option tastes better and makes us feel less like a rabbit.  The fourth annual Taste of Red Hook was held this past October in Red Hook, Brooklyn New York to benefit the Red Hook Initiative.  This food festival brings in a variety of cuisines that are reflective of the diverse community that is Red Hook.  RHI believes in the young people of the Red Hook community and works to change the inter-generational poverty through support of education, employment, and community development.  I’ll eat to that.  My second favorite thing to taste next to food is, yep you guessed it, wine.  The charity event Wine & Roses in San Diego, CA (shout out to K and her family) benefits the non-profit Camp Oliver and other charities of the Social Services Auxiliary.  Funds raised at W&R are used to help maintain Camp Oliver and send children to camp who would otherwise be unable to afford a week they will never forget.  For a week during the summer kids can escape to Camp Oliver and be archers, swimmers, hikers, singers, and make friends that will last a lifetime.  If I need to drink some wine to support them, well then that’s my duty.

Red Hook Initiative Donation

Wine & Roses Tickets Purchase or Camp Oliver Donation

So here’s to you taste!  You are the reason love to sip our Italian inspired espresso drinks and nibble on fancy French cheeses.  You make us want to cook and eat and socialize with all of our friends.  You inspire the expression, “You have go to taste this.”  You reside on those little buds on our tongue and help us see the difference in sweet and salty.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve recently acquired a taste for giving and I keep coming back for more.

Week 9-Senses, Day 3-Hearing

Wild and Wonderful

So we are officially out of NJ and now residents of WV!  Six hours in the truck, about ten highway patrolmen, and many tunes later we picked up our new key to our very own townhouse.  No more apartment.  No more seeing our neighbors as we walk into the building.  And no more hearing other people’s music.  Today I am thankful for more things than I could really blog about, but I am really thankful for the sound of good music and new television series (thank you instant Netflix) that have gotten us through the past 24 hours.

So I asked this question in my blog a few days ago but would you rather be blind or deaf?  I still can’t decide.  There’s nothing like an awesome song to totally change your mood, or picking the right one to reflect your mood.  The National Education for Assistance Dog Services has been working since 1976 to train service dogs to help deaf and disabled individuals live more independent lives.  NEADS has trained over 1300 dogs from all across the United States to be all types of dogs including; hearing, service, social, specialty, service dogs for the classroom, ministry, therapy and walker dogs.  Plus they have a graduation ceremony for the service dogs three times a year to celebrate the all the hard work and giving that the dogs and countless volunteers have accomplished in few short months.  Dogs and children are weak spots for me, and most of America, so the Central Institute for the Deaf seemed liked a great choice for my second charity to blog about.  CID is a school in St. Louis, Missouri that has been teaching deaf and hard of hearing children to listen, talk, read, and succeed for almost 100 years.  Technology like cochlear implants and powerful digital hearing aids along with education tools developed at CID are increasing the number of deaf children who are able to talk, read, and hear.  Giving the gift of hearing is priceless.

Cute and charitable 🙂

National Education for Assistance Dogs Services Donation

Central Institute for the Deaf Donation

Here’s to you hearing!  You give us the gift of being magically charmed with only those little pieces of cartilage on the sides of our heads.  You help us put a voice with a face, and a song to our everyday lives.  You help us hear the crickets chirp in the summer and the squirrels scampering across the rooftop in the winter.  So let your voice be heard for something worthwhile.

Week 9-Senses, Day 2-Smell

By Mennen

Day two of sleeping the air mattress that won’t stay fully inflated all the way through the night.  The bright side is we got about 14 inches of snow yesterday, and they still haven’t plowed our little street in front of our apartment where the truck was parked.  I love moving.  I love NJ.  Yes that is sarcasm that your “wait a tick” meter is picking up.  What I do really love is the smell of my husband after he showers.  We just bought him some new deodorant at Target a couple days ago.  Usually I’m an All Spice kinda girl but Speed Stick has won me over.  I am so thankful that my husband showers (daily), uses deodorant, and that I can smell him even after he goes to work.

They say that smell can bring back some of our most intense memories instantaneously.  This is because our olfactory bulb is so close to the part of our brain that is associated with memory and feelings.  Just the smell of cookies baking or lasagna in the oven is enough to put a smile of the faces of a lot of people.  The good people at Monell Chemical Senses Center are unique because they work for the only non-profit scientific institution dedicated to researching taste and smell.  Founded more than 40 years ago Monell is working daily to discover how our sense of smell and taste affect our health, behavior, and the environment.  They are also working to discover why a smell means one thing to you and something totally opposite to your bff.  Ok so I don’t exactly have Beiber Fever but I am a fan of Justin’s new philanthropic fragrance.  Although the company who is backing the Beibs is new (JB is their first big client), Give Back Brands Inc, is genius.  They want to partner with celebrities and turn some of their proceeds into a real change.  Beiber hasn’t decided which lucky charity will no doubt benefit from the sales of his fragrance to millions of his devoted fans.  Too bad Hanson didn’t jump on the charity train when it was en Vogue.

Smell ya later Beibs

Monell Chemical Senses Center Donation

Sorry kids you’ll have to wait till this summer to buy Beiber’s new fragrance but swoon over him here

So here’s to you smell!  You make us hungry even when we can’t see any food.  You made us hold our nose to take medicine when we were little, because we were convinced that if we couldn’t smell it that we might not barf swallowing it.  You are the reason we stop and stick our noses in the roses.  But there is no greater smell than the smell of sweet success-fully giving.

Week 9-Senses, Day 1-Sight

The apartment is completely empty with the exception of three fold up chairs, an air mattress, a couple of dog beds, and a few change of clothes for Scott and I.  So as I look around the 900 square feet around me and there is a lot to be thankful for.  I’m thankful for the 6 plus inches of snow that made it such a beautiful day to move.  I’m thankful for the moving company who braved the weather to strap our belongings to their back (seriously they do that) and put them into the truck to our new life.  But I have this overwhelming sense of thankfulness for the ability to see all the sights I have seen over the past year and change.


Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan

We’ve all played the wildly popular would you rather game at some point in our lives.  You know, would you rather be famous or rich?  Would you rather be blind or deaf?  This one always stumps me.  How do you really chose?  I don’t think I can after being blessed with being able to enjoy both for 26 years.  What if blindness could be prevented?  Well lucky for a lot of children there is the Helen Keller International organization that works to fight and treat preventable blindness and malnutrition.  Founded by Helen Keller herself in 1915 this non-profit strives to deliver simple, low cost, and proven solutions to those around the world who are the most vulnerable.  Adequate vitamin A, low-cost surgeries, and annual doses of antibiotics are just a few of these simple solutions that can prevent 80% of all causes of blindness.  So your mom was right.  Eat your carrots if you want to have good eyesight.  The Braille Institute works to break down barriers for the blind and severely vision impaired so they are able to live the life to the fullest.  An outpouring of hope and encouragement come from the gratis integrated educational, social and recreational programs and services provided by the BI.  BI is able to help the visually impaired learn daily living techniques, check out a huge variety of braille books, get a braille book published, and assist in finding a career.  That’s what I call a one stop shop.

Helen Keller International Donation

Braille International Donation

So here’s to you sight!  You give us the amazing ability to make shape and form of the objects that surround us on a daily basis.  You let us see the beauty in a sunset and the magic in a rainbow.  You help us put faces to names, and give us a reason to travel to the other side of the world to see the pyramids.  Without you we would be lost.  Literally.  So as Helen Keller said it best, “It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”

Do you see what I see?

Week 8-TV Shows, Day 7-Friends

I think you may know these people...

Hard core packing all of our belongings day 2, and I am exhausted.  The good news is we’re done.  Well except for a few odds and ends but all the cabinets, closets, drawers, and shelves are empty.  There was no little red envelope in our mail today but lucky for us the good people at TBS know Friends is awesome.  Yes the episodes may be fifteen years old but they never get old to me.  I have never been more thankful for 4 o’clock or Dr. Drake Ramoray.

So what kind of charities reflect this iconic show?  Coffee charity?  Done it.  Smelly cat charity?  Animals were so last week.  How about charities with the word friends in their name?  Now we’re talking.  Friends of Acadia works to protect and preserve the natural beauty and ecological vitality of Acadia National Park.  As one of American’s top ten most popular national parks Acadia has over two million visitors to the one of a kind Mt. Desert Island, Maine.  Since it’s foundation in 1986 FOA has raised over 14.6 millions dollars in endowments and other investments.  You may have heard of a little company called L.L.Bean who has given 2.2 millions dollars to FOA to support the Island Explorer bus system, and establish the L.L.Bean Research Fellowships and Kids in Acadia programs.  Another non-profit I’d like to be buddies with is Friends of Karen.  FOK supports critically ill children and their families emotionally as well as financially.  FOK works with children who are U.S. citizens have cancer or other illnesses in the New York metropolitan area.  New Yorkers, or anyone in the vicinity, can volunteer with FOK to help wrap birthday presents, address holiday cards, and pack back to school supplies for the kids.  Since their beginning in 1978 FOK has helped over 4,000 children and their families.  All I did today was put some stuff in boxes.

Friends of Acadia Donation

Friends of Karen Donation

So here’s to you Friends!  What would the world be like without Phoebe, Monica, Ross, Rachel, Joey, and Chandler?  You have given us a theme song that always gets stuck in our heads, and a show that is timeless.  You have made us realize that friends are one of the best parts of life and we would never get out of (or into) life’s messes without them.  So even if it hasn’t been your day, your week, or even your year, you can always be there for charity. 

Week 8-TV Shows, Day 6-United States of Tara

I hate moving.  Boxes, trash, packing paper.  I hate it.  We’re in the final stages of putting our entire lives inside cardboard boxes and I am over it.  Lucky for me, the cute little red envelope that Netflix DVDs come in made my day.  I was so thankful we decided to pop in the second season of The United States of Tara when we were running out of steam .  For anybody who hasn’t heard of this show it’s about a woman with one husband, two kids, and multiple personalities.  It’s funny, exciting, complex, and a great distraction from packing.  Did I mention I hate moving?

You never know who you're gonna get

Over the past couple of years there has been an increase in the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder or as it’s now known, dissociative identity disorder (DID).  The National Alliance on Mental Health uses education, advocacy, and awareness to improve the lives of individuals and families with mental illnesses.  NAMI gives a face and a voice to mental illness.  NAMI uses supportive networks, educational programs, and years of experience to educate thousands of people about a variety of diseases.  NAMI has  StigmaBuster Alerts to speak out and challenge stereotypes about mental illnesses that are portrayed on TV, film, print, and other media.  I think even NAMI would be please with all of Toni Collete’s characters in USOT.  In her real life with only one personality, the Aussie native has a passion for Greenpeace Australia.  Greenpeace does pretty much exactly what it’s name says.  It fights to expose environmental problems and find solutions that provide both a peaceful and green future for the world.  I mean, green is the new black.  She was even a member of the Greenpeace City to Surf team in 2004 that participated in the 14 kilometer race to support the charity.  She urges everyone to get out and do something simple and enjoyable for the planet.  I couldn’t have said it better myself Toni.

National Alliance on Mental Illness Donation

Greenpeace Australia Donation

So here’s to you United States of Tara!  You gave me a much needed break today when I felt like I was packing my whole life in a box.  You are wildly entertaining and always a good thirty minutes of complete distraction.  You make me feel a little less crazy after watching an episode, and you’ve given me the ten cent education about DID.  So no matter if you’re an Alice, Buck, or Tara you can always be thankful.

Week 8-TV Shows, Day 5-The Sopranos

Sundays are for church, napping, and watching The Sopranos.  A&E usually plays a minimum of two episodes back to back every Sunday for our viewing pleasure.  I have to admit that Scott was the one who really got me into the show.  We even convinced my mom to get HBO so we could watch the series finale a couple of years ago.  We have also gotten in the habit of quoting Tony or Christopher in our everyday conversations with each other.  While it creates hours of entertainment for us, which I am so thankful for, it can cause a couple of strange looks from strangers in public.  Plus Scott now likes to think of himself as an honorary member of the Italian American society.  He has red hair and freckles.  Now you realize why this is so funny.

Mi famiglia

While the National Italian American Foundation may not agree with the portrayal of Carm and company but they would appreciate Scott’s love of all things Italy.  NIAF was established as a non-profit in 1975 to promote Italian American heritage and culture.  NIAF also has great educational and youth programs including scholarships, grants, heritage travel, and mentoring.  Even my girl Giuliani Ranic is a NIAF fan.  She emceed the NIAF Gala a couple of months ago, and during her speech she stressed to the young people not to “Jersey Shore” the Italian American community.  You may not put The Sopranos and St. Jude Research Hospital together at first, but the whole cast came out in full force to fight childhood cancer.  I’m sure everyone knows about the awesomeness that is St. Jude.  They have countless celebrity supporters that believe in their mission to advance the research for pediatric diseases, and never turn away any child because of their race, religion, or ability to pay.  St. Jude has increased survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to 80 percent today.  There truly is no place like St. Jude.

National Italian American Foundation Donation

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Donation

So here’s to Sopranos!  You confused us with all your long shots on meaningless objects and abrupt series.  You gave us a glimpse into the everyday life of the people who really run north Jersey.  You gave us the Bada Bing, Satriales pork store, Green Grove Nursing Home, and Baron Sanitation.  So make like you’re Tony Soprano and throw some money at these great charities and forget about it.

Week 8-TV Shows, Day 4-Dirty Jobs

What’s a better way to start a work free Saturday than watching somebody else do dirty work?  If you said there is none, then we’re in the same boat.  Watching Mike Rowe castrate lambs, shovel various types of waste, shear llamas, and wrangle alligators never gets old to me.  It’s like a car wreck.  You don’t want to watch but you can’t stop staring right at it.  I’m not envious of these insane jobs that he doesn’t get paid enough to do, but I am thankful that I get to watch these crazy experiences he takes on.

Hottie with a body

Ok now that I’ve given my preamble about how I’m thankful, here’s the real truth.  Mike Rowe is hot.  He’s in great shape, he’s adorable, and he could charm the pants off a pig.  He’s also a concerned citizen to boot.  Dream boat?  I think so.  Mike supports The Mission Continues, a non-profit with a mission to build an America that allows veterans to continue to serve their country again as a citizen leader.  TMC likes to say, “It’s not a charity.  It’s a challenge.”  CEO Eric Greitens founded TMC after returning home from Iraq in 2007.  After visiting wounded Marines in Maryland he discovered that every single one of them still had the desire to serve their country even if it wasn’t in the armed forces.  Eric used his own combat pay and the generous contributions of a couple of veterans to found TMC.  It seems Mike has a soft spot for those who serve our country because he also supports Any Solider.  There are lots of us out there who want to support our troops but we don’t know where, what, or who to send packages to.  That’s where AS comes in.  They have a list of thousands of military and service member contacts, what to send in their care packages, and the easiest way to send them.  They have made it so easy a caveman could do it.

The Mission Continues Donation

Any Solider Donation

So here’s to you Dirty Jobs!  You let us see what working hard is all about.  You give us Mike Rowe as eye candy which is reason enough for the female population to watch all day long.  You help us realize how lucky we are to have our own jobs, both dirty and clean.  So roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty in some charity work.