It's all about the little things…

Monthly Archives: May 2011

Week 26-Half Way There! Day 7-Guest Blogger #4

This week of celebration wouldn’t be complete without a blog post from my bff Kristina!  We have had so many great memories over the years that I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her.  I always tease her that I keep her around because she always laughs at my joke, which is a great bonus to our friendship, but I really keep her around because she’s amazing.  No two ways about it.  So here’s to you Kristina, and many more laughs ahead of us!

Yep, that pretty much sums us up

Throughout our friendship, Lizzie has said numerous times that the only reason we’re friends is because I laugh at all of her jokes.  When she asked me to write this blog, I thought about how thankful I am to have her as my best friend.  Whether our friendship is based on my laughter or not, I’m certainly grateful for a good chuckle in so many ways.

For starters, I’m thankful for those who make me laugh.  One lady (besides Lizzie) that does just that is Chelsea Handler.  No matter your opinion of the First Lady of Late Night TV, we can all agree that there’s more to her than vodka & celebrity jokes.  Ms. Handler is an advocate of lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender equality, and in 2009 was even given the prestigious Ally for Equality Award by the Human Rights Campaign.  HRC is trying to make the world a fairer place for members of the LGBT community by fighting for the basic civil rights they deserve.  It’s the same fight for acceptance that women and African-Americans once fought. Check out or become friends with HRC on Facebook to learn how you can be part of their work.  I know Chelsea & HRC would agree with me when I say that equal rights for every human is no laughing matter!

As much as I love to laugh, I also love to watch Justin, my husband, laughing.  It’s usually in response to an E*Trade baby ad or a new Old Spice commercial.  One time he’s guaranteed to laugh is when he watches “Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory”.  He’s amused by Rob’s random & crazy ideas (like having sharks & tigers attack him and making up songs about his mini-horse).  I’m constantly surprised by Rob’s man-child ways, but also because of how big his heart is.  He created the Rob Dyrdek Foundation’s SK8 4 Life program that donates skateboards to at-risk kids.  He believes that exercising and being able to legally & safely skateboard, can be wildly beneficial for kids.  It’s also why he created the idea of ‘Safe Spot Skate Spots’.  Rob & his friends work to find places where large, safe and fun skate plazas can be built in cities like Los Angeles, CA & Kettering, OH.  You can be a part of a SSSS too.  Check out to get step by step directions on how to gather your friends & petition your city for your very own SSSS!

 Human Rights Campaign Donation

Rob Dyrdek Foundation Donation

So here’s to you laughter!  You are truly medicine for my soul.  When things seem dismal or bleak, I’m thankful for the things & people who can bring me back with you.  And I’m thankful there are funny people using you for more than just a good laugh!  In the words of Chelsea Handler, “Give, give, give and laugh, laugh, laugh.”

If laughter is the best medicine, K and I are in great health!

Week 26-Half Way There! Day 6-History Channel

Happy Memorial Day!  I hope everyone has had a fun and relaxing holiday weekend, and remembered to thank those who protect our country and their families.  I know that’s one job I could never do so I am incredibly thankful for those who do.  I’m also thankful for the always informative History Channel.  I used to make fun on my Dad all the time because at his house the TV stayed on about three channels, and History was one of those.  They have great shows like American Pickers, Pawn Stars, and America Restoration which reconfirmed the fact that learning really can be fun.  This week is Civil War week on History and I for one am happy to help spread the word about how to “preserve our past, and protect our future.”

The History Channel’s Give 150 campaign is urging us as Americans to give as little as $1.50, which they will match, in order to protect Civil War sites and stories.  150 years ago our country was pitting father against son, brother against brother, in the war that would shape the future of our country forever.  All the donations from Give 150 go to the Civil War Trust and the National Park Foundation.  The CWT was founded in 1999 is the nation’s largest non-profit dedicated to preserving our nation’s Civil War battlefields that are literally disappearing by the minute.  CWT also has a great education website that includes animated battle maps, videos, historic maps and photos, and lesson plans and quizzes for teachers.  Saving the battlefields not only saves open land, but it also provides economic benefits to local communities.  CWT has already saved over 30,000 acres of Civil War battlefields in 20 states, and the Give 150 movement is putting them on their way to saving 30,000 more.  The National Park Foundation makes sure that all Americans have the opportunity to be connected to all of our national parks.  With over 70 parks in the NP system with resources related to the Civil War, it’s easy to see why the NPF wanted to be a part of Give 150.  I have had the privilege to travel to several different national parks and I can definitely say that I want my children, and their children, to be able to experience the history and natural beauty that lies within those protected borders.  Smokey told you that only you can prevent forest fires, and I’m telling you that only you can protect our history.

Use your iPhone or iPad to increase your brain power instead of playing Angry Birds...

Civil War Trust Donation

National Park Foundation Donation

So here’s to you History Channel!  You are the channel I flip to when I’m in the mood to learn something in the big classroom of life.  I’ve learned more from you about knucklehead motorcycles and civil war firearms than I ever learned in my 18 years of formal education.  Thank you for helping us remember where we came from and how it continues to shape where we’re going on this Memorial Day.

Week 26-Half Way There! Day 5-Guest Blogger #3

That’s right folks, you have the pleasure of reading posts by guest bloggers two days in a row!  Today’s blog is written by my sweet and adorable friend Melanie, who I love more and more everyday.  She has such a giving and unique energy about her and she is always looking for and thinking of new ways to help others.  She has been an avid reader of T4G since day one and I can’t count how many times her comments on my writing made my entire day.  So here’s to you Mel, and your big, big, heart.

Reading Thanks-4-Giving reminds me to be thankful and encourages me to be a better person while helping others. When Lizzie asked if I wanted to be a guest blogger I was excited and overcome with so many things I am thankful for, it’s hard to blog about just one.  Something that has never let me down, is always there for me and I’m sure lifts you up too, is music. I am thankful for music and my favorite musician, Brad Paisley.

Last year Brad’s H20 tour ticket sales benefited the charity Pattison’s Academy, which improves the quality of life for children with multiple disabilities by providing education and rehabilitation programs. Pattison’s Academy came to be when a little girl name Pattison was born with significant brain damage as well as auditory and visual impairments, the brain damage led to cerebral palsy and multiple handicaps. Pattison’s parents were not satisfied with the educational philosophies and limited therapies offered by the schools, so they took a stand and did something about it.  They opened Pattison’s Academy where students participate in community based instruction, field trips, and outside therapy services that are not typically offered in the area’s public schools or medical facilities. Pattison’s Academy also loans equipment to families to make life and tasks that we take for granted a little easier for those affected by disabilities.

Another charity Brad supports is Musicians On Call, an awesome organization that brings live and recorded music to healthcare facilities for patients, families and health care providers to promote wellness and help patients heal. Studies show that live music can lower blood pressure and reduce depression and anxiety in hospital patients. Musicians On Call has played for over 250,000 individuals and their families. You don’t have to be a rock star to help, it’s as easy as donating old cd’s, volunteering, attending special concerts, and bidding on artist’s memorabilia- and even meet and greets!  Check out what artists gear is up for grabs and more on how to help.

Yesterday kicked off Brad’s H20 II: Wetter & Wilder World Tour where ticket sales will again benefit great charities like Pattison’s Academy, and Musicians On Call. Concert tickets can be expensive, but knowing some of your money is going toward awesome causes, make the music sound even better when you hear it.

Pattison’s Academy Donation

Musicians on Call Donation

So thank you Brad Paisley for your charming, witty and memorable songs. You’ve touched people’s lives with your generosity as well as truthful lyrics. You’re more than just a song on the radio to me, you’re an inspiration and your music turns my day around.

We love Brad! H20 Tour 2010!

I end with these lyrics, appropriate for Thank-4-Giving’s motto- be thankful! It’s called One of Those Days from Brad’s new cd, This is Country Music. Give it a listen.

It’s been one of those days; I let things get to me. I got no right to complain, cause when I look around I see folks that are fighting for every breath, and it makes me realize it’s just been one for those days for me, but for them it’s been one of those lives.

Week 26-Half Way There! Day 4-Guest Blogger #2

I couldn’t think of a better person to be the second guest blogger for Thanks(4)giving than the woman who has supported me from the very inception of this blog, my Mom.  She is a source of inspiration, a shoulder to cry on, and a sounding board for me as I work my way through hundreds of blog posts.  So here’s to the most special woman in my life and her insightful and moving post!

Like mother like daughter 🙂

When Lizzie asked me to write a guest blog entry to mark the halfway point in her blogging adventure of being thankful, I had no idea what my topic would be. This past week while seeking inspiration for my post, I found it – on the Oprah Show finale. Now, I have only been a “hit and run” viewer of the Oprah Show in its 25-year run but while watching the final show, I understood why Lizzie holds her in such high regard. Oprah is inspiring and influential in many, many people’s lives in lots of diverse ways. I am thankful that she has been a positive role model in the media to Lizzie and others. I mean, come on. I grew up in the 60s and my TV role models were Miss Kitty, Samantha Stevens and Elly Mae Clampett!

During Oprah’s last show she talked about everyone having a calling. This has been a theme on her show throughout its years on the air. Over the last two years I have given much thought as to what my calling truly is. I know that my passion – what lights me – is creating through video, film and photography. But when I became a mother, I began to understand that I had a golden opportunity to create and shape a person. Mothering is truly one of my life’s calling and I am proud of my greatest creations, Lizzie and Clay. I am grateful for being a mother with a calling and thankful for my remarkable children.

Like Oprah, I believe that reading IS fundamental for all. Oprah’s Book Club has encouraged and rekindled people’s passion for reading in the USA as well as other countries. Room to Read is a charity that seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in the developing world. Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments, they develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children and ensure girls have the skills and support needed to complete their secondary education. Through the end of May, Room to Read is having a special “Celebrating Our Mothers” campaign. All donations go to their Girls’ Education program and will be matched up to $350,000 by a group of generous supporters.

I am thankful for so many things in my life. It really is hard to choose just a couple to write about for this post. I know I may not have all I want but I have enough. I have the essentials I need – housing, food, health and family. In the last two months so many natural disasters have hit our country that many people do not have those essentials. Images and stories of flood, fire and tornado damage are constant in the media and on the Internet lately. Since March 31 the Red Cross has launched 32 relief operations in 23 states to help people affected by tornadoes, floods and wildfires. I really like the Red Cross as a charity because you can donate not only money but time. There are many opportunities to volunteer for the Red Cross, nationally and locally. While I can’t travel out to Joplin, Missouri now or donate monetarily, I can volunteer on a local level. I pledge to call next week to do exactly that!

Room to Read Donation

Red Cross Donation
As some of you know, I have been unemployed for over two years. In a strange way, I am even thankful for my unemployed status because it has given me an opportunity to re-evaluate my calling in life. I have so much to be thankful for EVERY DAY, including one very inspirational daughter with a loving, giving spirit.

Week 26-Half Way There! Day 3-A Memorial Day to remember

A salute to the real heroes this weekend.

It is the start of the Memorial Day weekend, and this year it holds a slightly different meaning to me due to this little blog project I’ve got going on.  In the past it’s just been a wonderful and relaxing long holiday weekend that meant the start of summer was upon us.  Even though all those things are still true this year I have a new appreciation for those who gave their life for our country.  Even though I haven’t had anyone close to me lose their life in order to protect mine, or the rest of us for that matter, but I’m so thankful for those who have.  War seems like a game to me.  A make-believe game that little boys just play out in the front yard, and for hours on their PlayStation’s, XBox’s, and Wii’s.  It makes me think that one measly little day sure doesn’t seem like enough for the people who gave up the rest of theirs for their country.

I’ve written about veterans and soldiers a couple of different times during our 26 weeks together, but today’s post is to remember those who aren’t with us today and the grieving families they left behind.  The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund began back in 2000 and has provided over $120 million to support families of military personnel lost in service to our nation.  IFHF doesn’t try to put a price on someone’s life, but they instead work hard to “pay tribute to and support those who have sacrificed for our nation”.  Giving your life to your country may be the ultimate sacrifice, but family members of those in the military sacrifice a piece of their future everyday by living without them.  This weekend is about the fallen heroes and the family members who were left to pick up the pieces to make a new life.  What really breaks my heart is to think about little boys and girls who will grow up without their mommy and daddy, because they died in combat.  Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) has worked for over 25 years to help children who are challenged by family military service, poverty, domestic abuse, homelessness, and illness.  K.I.D.S. works with major manufacturers, retailers, and companies that make children and youth’s products and thousands of leading local agencies to donate books, toys, clothes, and other products to those who need it most.  It’s not rocket science, but the hope that it brings to children and their families is as life changing as launching a new space shuttle.

Simple yet genius.

Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund Donation

K.I.D.S. Product Donation & K.I.D.S. Monetary Donation

So here’s to a Memorial Day to remember!  Eat all the hot-dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, and coleslaw that your stomach will hold, and be sure to wash it down with a cold beverage of your choice.  Have fun, relax, get some sun, and splash around in some water.  Take just a moment of your holiday weekend to really remember the people who can’t be here to celebrate.  Those who believed in the red, white, and blue, gave this beautiful weekend to you.

Week 26-Half Way There! Day 2-Guest Blogger #1

Today is a very special moment for my 365 project, because I have my very first guest blogger!  My sweet, loving, and supportive husband Scott has graciously agreed to join the week 26 celebration and share his thoughts about what he is thankful for.  So here’s to Scott and his fabulous guest post!

Scott and I

To allow Lizzie a break from writing this day she has asked me, her loving husband, to write about what I am thankful for.  Today I am thankful for charity, simply defined as the giving of help to those in need.  When you think of the word charity what instantly comes to mind are organizations that provide a service to those in need, but I think that charity is, and can be, so much more than that.  Some synonyms for the term charitable include kind-hearted, generous, sympathetic and philanthropic.  So, in some form or another, we have all been the beneficiary of charity.  Whether the charity came in the form of a kind word from a friend, a c-note from mom and dad or help from a complete stranger; at one point in time each and every one of us has been in need.

Sometimes time the easiest form of charity is to help those in need of the basic things in life.  With the natural disasters that have recently occurred in Midwest, many more American families are in desperate need of food and shelter.  The organization Feeding America was established to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engages the country in the fight to end hunger.  FA estimates that they deliver over 3 billion pounds of food each year, providing a source of nutrition to 1 in 6 Americans.  This is what FA does on a daily basis, but currently their focus has been on providing food and shelter to those who lost their homes in Alabama, Missouri, and Oklahoma.  However, the homeless and hungry can be found throughout the world.  Architecture for Humanityis a charity that designs and constructs temporary housing for victim of natural disasters in impoverished nations around the world.  In addition to helping those in immediate need, AH also works to develop sustainable energy solutions for communities lacking infrastructure found in industrialized nations.

The work of Architecture for Humanity

Feeding America Donation

Architecture for Humanity Donation

If you have made it to this point then I am doing better than I expected!  Clearly, Lizzie is the better writer of the family but we both have passion about helping those in need.  Having been the beneficiary of many forms of charity I am very thankful for it but I also feel the drive to return charity to others that are less fortunate than I.  Bringing awareness to the multitude of charities that Lizzie has blogged about over the past 26 weeks has shown me that charity really does come in all shapes and sizes, and all the ways I can be charitable without simply donating money.  So go forth and be charitable, in whatever way you see fit.

Week 26-Half Way There! Day 1-It’s a celebration!

Get our your party hats, balloon arches, noise makers, and calorie loaded treats because it’s a celebration!!!  This is officially the half-way point in my 365 days journey of being more thankful and sharing it with the world.  A lot, a lot, a lot has happened since I began this adventure 6 months ago and I can’t wait to see where the rest of the journey takes me.  I’ve thought about how I could make this week special for a while now and I think you’re gonna like what this week has in store.  Let’s just say that we’ll have some special guests bloggers at some point, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out when and what they are thankful for.  Thank you to everyone out there who supports me and pushes me to write another blog each day.  Without you I would just be writing to myself, which would be a lot less fun! 🙂

Cheers Week 26!

After writing this blog I have a daily reminder that each day is a reason to celebrate being alive and relish in the opportunity to live another day.  Lance Armstrong and the LiveStrong movement embodies this mantra.  Lance credits his life to cancer, because when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 25 he decided simply living wasn’t good enough.  He also decided that if he was going to live strong then he wanted to help other people with cancer do the same.  Founded in 1997 the Lance Armstrong Foundation wasted no time getting to work.  LS is there to help you the moment you find out you have cancer, during your treatments, and after when you are not a victim but a survivor of cancer.  The awareness events, programs, and advocacy work at the end of LS is changing lives.  “We believe that unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything.”  Amen.  Plus who didn’t/doesn’t have one of those yellow bracelets?  I’m not having a party to celebrate this week, but if I was I would totally go through In Lieu of a Gift for my e-vites.  That’s because you can attach a charity to your invitation for people to donate to instead of bringing a gift to you event.  I love this idea!  There have been lots of other charities where you can buy gift cards, or e-cards, or some kind of merchandise that will support a charity but this gives the host of the party the ability to decide what charity they want to support.  Seriously the older we get what else do we really need in life?  More stuff?  Not me.  I’ll take my awesome family & friends, great experiences, and the gift of giving back to causes I believe in over new towels any day.

LiveStrong Donation

In Lieu of a Gift Registration…make your next party one that you and your guests will never forget!

So here’s to a week of celebration!  I love a party as much as the next person, and I think this week is going to be one to remember.  26 weeks down and 26 weeks to go.  It’s all downhill from here and I can’t wait to enjoy the ride.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy this very special ride through thanks(4)giving town.

Week 25-Celebrity Apprentice, Day 7-Ivanka Trump

The female heir to the tremendous Trump throne is also a key player in the hit show we’ve been talking about all week, Celebrity Apprentice.  Sure she’s business savvy, but this blonde bombshell has also made a name for herself in the modeling industry.  She’s walked down the runway for Versace, posed for Tommy Hilfiger ads, and even graced that very coveted cover of Harper’s Bazaar.  She also recently became a wife, one day after my own wedding I might add, and is due to become a mother this summer.  Oh, and in her “spare time” she is trying to save the world one charity at a time.  I’m thankful that I keep finding these great female role models to write about, be inspired by, and strive to be like.

A few years back Ivanka served as the Honorary Chair for Miracle on Madison Avenue that benefits The Children’s Aid Society in New York City.  In this annual holiday season event over 75 retailers along the swanky Madison Ave. donate 20% of their revenue for the day to CAS.  CAS has simple mission: help children in poverty succeed and thrive.  The success that they have had over the past 150 years in reaching this goal is what makes them a vital part of the New York city community today, tomorrow, and essentially forever.  CAS works with children before their even born with their prenatal care programs and sticks with them through their high school years as they decide where their future lies.  Any Trump baby is clearly going to be born with a silver spoon in his or her mouth, but Ivanka is making sure more and more kids are getting the love and support they need.  Ms. Trump was also a presenter at the 10th Annual Women Who Care Luncheon, which benefits United Cerebral Palsy of New York, just last month.  The sold out event which attracted 600 attendees honored Lauren Bush from the FEED Foundation and Petra Nemcova from the Happy Hearts Foundation just to name a few.  UCP NY is the leading non-profit agency in the city providing of services for children and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.  All of their programs work towards their mission of creating opportunities for people with disabilities to live independent and fulfilling lives for the past 65 years.  I know I take my independence for granted pretty much daily, so I’m thankful for this jarring reminder that not everyone has that luxury.

Ivanka performing miracles on Madison Avenue

The Children’s Aid Society Donation

United Cerebral Palsy New York Donation

So here’s to you Ivanka Trump!  You are sassy, beautiful, intelligent, and a true role “model” for young and not-so-young women alike.  You have proven to us out here in the real world that is possible to have it all if you work hard and keep your priorities in line.  You make sure you play your trump card when it really counts, especially when it’s for a charity.

Week 25-Celebrity Apprentice, Day 6-John Rich

And the winner of Celebrity Apprentice season 4 finale is….John Rich!  That’s right folks John had himself a big and rich time all the way to the end when he heard The Donald say, “You’re hired.”  He’s not only an extremely talented singer but also an award-winning songwriter who has written some favorites like “Redneck Woman” and “Here for the Party”.  I actually had the opportunity to see Big & Rich in concert many moons ago, and let me tell you, they put on one heck of show.  Plus, I can never get the words of “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy” out of my head once I’ve heard had it blaring from my car radio.  I’m thankful that this cowboy showed the world that Southern hospitality extends beyond sweet tea and apple pie.

John was playing for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which all you avid blog readers out there will remember that I’ve already written about in Week 8.  Honestly though, I would write about this great charity a million times over because how can you not love St. Jude?  I mean they are so loved that they are the main charity for country music, which is why John chose to play for them on CA.  I think he hits the nail on head when he said during his Q&A session that, “…I believe that the most important thing in this world is the kids. If you have the chance to help them, you always should.”  He raised over $1.2 million over this season to help the hospital that never turns away any child because they can’t afford the treatment they need.  Country Cares For St. Jude Kids gives country starts an outlet on the radio that has resulted in over $385 million over the past thirty years.  I would be a fool to try to compare any other charity to St. Jude, so I’m not going to, but I am going to tell you about Whatever It Takes.

Big smiles for Rich

WIT has gathered 660 world leaders that range in occupation from writers to Nobel Peace Prize Laureates to create original artwork that feature “Symbols of hope for the 21 century.”  All of the money raised from the auction of the artwork goes to many different causes that address issues we are facing in the 21st century like poverty, environmental conservation, and protecting children.  St. Jude is among the list of charities that are a party of this unique and fascinating project.  If you’re looking to redecorate your house or buy a one-of-a-kind present for the graduate in your life please check out their shop before heading down to Target or TJ Maxx.  You’ll be one thanking me this time.

Country Cares for St. Jude Kids Donation

Whatever It Takes Donation

So here’s to you John Rich!  You are known for your signature hat and handlebar mustache, but now you’ll forever be the Season 4 Celebrity Apprentice winner!  You played with integrity, heart, and passion for one of the greatest charities there is.  Trust me, your loyalty and hard work have not gone unnoticed.  You may have done it for the kids, but you’ve touched the lives and hearts of a lot of grownups too. 

Week 25-Celebrity Apprentice, Day 5-Marlee Matlin

First of all, can we just talk about how this is week 25.  Really?  That means that next week marks the official half-way point in this labor of love.  I wouldn’t be here without the push from you guys out there reading, so thank you.  Ok, now on to this season’s finalist Marlee Matin.  She has been acting since the tender age of 7 as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at a children’s theater company in Chicago.  Totally a girl after my own heart.  She has been in The West Wing, The L Word, and of course Dancing With the Stars.  Oh did I also mention that she is a mother of four?  If you’re wondering if she doubles as Super Woman when the sun goes down, then we’re definitely on the same page.  I’m so thankful for strong women of integrity in the entertainment business who are amazing role models for girls.

Marlee has already raised over $1 million dollars for her charity of choice, Starkey Hearing Foundation.  Founded almost 27 years ago, SHF is supported by the likes of Bill Rancic, Miley Cyrus, and Patricia Arquette in their mission to change the social consciousness of hearing through education and research while providing the gift of hearing to those in need around the world.  They have given almost 500,000 hearing devices to those who couldn’t afford them by themselves all across the globe.  Even though that is a great accomplishment SHF is not resting on their good merit and taking a break.  There are still 63 million hearing impaired children around the globe who still need the gift of hearing.  SHF is also in the business of educating young people about how they can protect their hearing from a young age.  The House Ear Institute is also using education to improve the quality of life of those suffering from hearing loss.  HEI has been pushing the research envelope since 1964 to explore the auditory system all the way from the ear canal to cortex of the brain.  A real life Dr. House was the founder of HEI over 60 years ago and has watched it grow from a one-person office to a five-story building with over 180 staff members.  They are working to improve hearing aids, auditory implants, and clinical treatments for this generation and the next.  They have turned up the volume on what we should expect from research.

Starkey Hearing Foundation Donation

House Ear Institute Donation

So here’s to you Marlee Matin!  You are beautiful, talented, and my new role model.  I’m not even going to try to form some witty sentences or play on words to express how thankful I am for this woman.  She is already a winner, but hearing Donald Trump tell her she is hired would be the perfect cherry on top of the sundae.