It's all about the little things…

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Week 44-Rocktober!, Day 2-Let’s brush our teethes

I am so exhausted I can barely brush my teeth, but I will because it’s National Dental Hygiene Month.  Every night before I go to bed I get out my little toothbrush and scrub away all the germs from my pearly whites.  I love that feeling of running your tongue over your teeth when they’re freshly cleaned, and the minty fresh breath that goes along with it.  I’m also a fan of keeping the teeth God gave me for as long as possible.  I did have a little stint where I didn’t visit the dentist while I was in college, but I happy to say I am back on track and no worse for the wear.  Thank goodness for good toothpastes and a qualified dental staff.

Oral Health America is all about educating the public about dental health, and I’m not just talking about the “brush your teeth twice daily” adage.  Their five pillar programs Smiles Across America®, Wisdom Tooth Project, Medical Dental Dialogues, the Campaign for Oral Health Equity, and NSTEP® show that they are committed to not only education but also advocacy for the public.  Founded in 1955, OHA has reached out to the most vulnerable populations of people and provided them with oral disease prevention and basic oral health services they would otherwise not receive.  Oral care is extremely important at all ages so OHA centers its programs around reaching a wide range of ages in order to bring healthy mouths to life.  I don’t know about you but that makes me smile.  Speaking of smiles, is there anything better than seeing a child smile?  Their little innocent faces light up at the very thought of a toy or a tasty treat.  Healthy Smiles Healthy Children has a vision for the future and has made a commitment to the present.  It comes as no surprise that good oral health can improve the overall health and well-being of kids.  Half of children will tooth decay before they reach the age of 5.  That means we need to get in there and brush those baby teethes as soon as they show up!  Everyone deserves to love their smile!

Oral Health America Donation 

Healthy Smiles Healthy Children Donation 

So here’s to brushing our teethes!  You’re pretty much engrained in most of us by now, but it helps to remind us every once in a while.  Without you we would all have stinky breath, and smile a lot less.  You’re one of life’s little accomplishments that we should be proud of day in and day out.  You may be a small feat but you’re a huge victory in the end.  Thanks for making our lives a little healthier and our smile a lot brighter.

Week 44-Rocktober, Day 1-Let’s celebrate boobies!

Yes I realize that we September still has a couple of days left but this week is all about celebrating the awesomeness of October.  There are so many rocking causes and charities that are celebrated during this upcoming month.  Probably the biggest and most well-known celebration in October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Monthalso known as Pinktober.  I have not ever known anyone personally with breast cancer, but I know it affects millions of people every year.  I love my boobies.  I can’t imagine my life without them, and I’m thankful for them every morning I get dressed and walk out the door.  Hopefully they make someone else’s day as well. 🙂

That's just not true Bart!

What better way to celebrate breast cancer awareness than throwing a huge party?  Hard Rock figured this out about 12 years ago when they decided to host their first Pinktober shindig.  HR also puts out the message of hope that “the answer is out there, together we’ll find it”, which I strongly agree with.  We have chipped away at the causes and possible cures for breast cancer more and more each year, and that will only continue as generous donors support this innovative research.  Hard Rock also knows how much their patrons love their apparel so a portion of the proceeds from the sale of any Pinktober merchandise goes directly to breast cancer research.  HR is even decking out some of their rooms pink, and donating 25% of the room rate to breast cancer research.  Several different organizations will benefit from all the Pinktober campaign including the Caron Keating Foundation, a family run non-profit honoring Caron who lost her battle with breast cancer.  There are so many great charities out there who support research, but I really like The Rose because they focus on the less sexy but just as important aspect of screening, diagnosis, and early treatment regardless of their ability to pay.  Yes, you read that correctly, their life-saving services are free to low-income uninsured women.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that cancer doesn’t discriminate on age, sex, or income.  A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but it wouldn’t be as generous.

Buy some Pinktober swag or donate to the Caron Keatng Foundation 

The Rose Donation

So here’s to you boobies!  We all know what you are and I think for the most part we’d all like to keep you around.  You come in all sizes, shapes, and colors.  I could go on and on, but really you need no introduction or explanation.  Thanks for giving us a reason to tie one on and kick cancer’s butt!

Tie on those pink ribbons ladies and gentlemen!

Week 43-Fall Favorites, Day 7-Pumpkins!

It would be a sin to write about my favorite fall things and not even so much as mention pumpkins this week.  I love pumpkins so much I had them at my wedding!  I mean they were white, but pumpkins none the less.  I love to carve pumpkins, eat pumpkin seeds, drink pumpkin spice lattes (yum!) and make pumpkin pie.  Pumpkins are one of those great fall items that have so many different uses.  Plus you have the fun of going to a pumpkin patch or stand and picking out just the right one, or two, or five.  Pumpkins are the quintessential sign that fall has arrived.  Those big balls of orange joy make me want to take a hayride, sip some hot cider, and carve till I can’t carve no more.

Somebody got a little hungry

The Pumpkin Patch for Kids was started back in 2002 in order to help raise funds to help children and young adults who are in need of medical attention.  Every year they throw a huge costume party in hopes of bringing back those fond childhood memories that we have collected over the years.  PPK hopes that keeping the mood light and fun and then maybe people will be willing to let their pockets get a little litter as well.  PPK focuses on local family, friends, businesses so that they can grow their organization from the ground up.  This year the charity ball is benefitting Meghan Sheehan, a 19 year-old college student with a rare brain condition where the base of her brain is too long causing the brainstem to extend into the spinal cord known as Arnold Chiari Malformation I.  So if you’re around the Havertown PA area you still have 32 days to get your tickets to the ball, and figure our your costume!  Charities, especially churches raising funds for mission trips, can also have their own little pumpkin patches to raise funds every fall.  Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers has been around for 31 years working with charities to sell pumpkins and split the profits.  This will be the 18th year that Immanuel Church on the Hill has peddled pumpkins to help out local charities like ALIVE and Carpenter’s Shelter.  40 percent of all the profits Immanuel makes goes directly to their charities of choice.  If you’re reading this thinking that this is something you wish you charity could be a part of, you can!  Just contact PPF for pricing and setting up delivery for your very own pumpkin patch!

The Pumpkin Patch for Kids Donation 

Work with Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers or donate to someone who does

So here’s to you pumpkins!  You are quite possibly my very favorite tangible thing about fall.  Well, you’re at least part of my all of my favorite things.  I’m pretty sure a pumpkin spice latte is a sip of heaven, and perfectly seasoned pumpkin seeds are like having little bits of perfection for a snack.  Thank you for being one of the brightest reminders that fall is here, and the height of the giving season is upon us.

Best season ever

Week 43-Fall Favorites, Day 6-Indian summer

I don’t know what the weather is like where you guys are but it was daggum 80 degrees here in WV today!  Last time I checked, the weather is supposed to get cooler during the fall not warmer.  While this is usually the case there are those warm interludes in September that we affectionately refer to as Indian summers.  It’s like summer’s way of saying, “Hey I’m not ready for the party to end you guys!”  I think there’s also part of us that isn’t quite ready to say goodbyes to long days, hazy nights, and exotic vacations.  Don’t get me wrong I am beyond ready for fall to be in full swing, but I sure was thankful for the warm sun beating down on my back today.

Even though I looked it up, I still don’t’ really get where the adage of Indian summer comes from, but I love the name anyway.  Hopefully the students funded through the American Indian College Fund can figure out the  meaning behind this meteorological phenomenon.  Tribal colleges are a new form of education that are popping up near reservations that give American Indian students the opportunity to keep their culture at the center of their education.  They are able to get the secondary education and earn an accredited degree without sacrificing their way of life.  There are over 30 tribal schools in 13 different states that serve over 250 American Indian Nations, and the AICF provides 6,000 scholarships a year to these institutions.  They have made educating their minds and their spirits a priority.  Summer means freedom, and it’s often the time when those are looking find themselves where they really want to be.  Summer Search looks for resilient low-income high school students and changes them into responsible leaders in the community by giving them amazing summer experiences, year-round mentoring, college advising, and a support network that last through all the seasons.  What started over twenty years ago in San Francisco has turned into seven offices across the nation, and a program that helps more than 1,100 students a year headed down a path of positive change.  Summer may be when we find ourselves again, but autumn is when we harvest the fruits of our labor.

American Indian College Fund Donation

Summer Search Donation

So here’s to you Indian summer!  Movies and songs have been written all about you, because you have this magical quality that is hard to describe.  You’re there to rescue us from cooler temperature for a couple of days and make us forget that soon we’ll be up to our ears in snow and hot chocolate.  Thanks for stopping by and hanging out and letting us savor the last drops of sweet summertime.

Week 43-Fall Favorites, Day 5-Blankets

The windows are open and the cool fall breeze is blowing through our house, and I am happy.  Seriously happy.  I love when it’s cold enough to snuggle up under a blanket if you want to but you won’t freeze to death without it.  There’s something so exciting about pulling out those long forgotten warm blankets after a blistering summer.  Sundays are usually lazy around our house, well at least we hope they are, so blankets make perfect companions on this day of rest.  Blankets are the best when you have someone you love to share them with.  Our little love seat can get a little crowed when Scott and I are joined by both of our dogs but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Bring on the blankets and the snuggle fest!

Blankets are great for chilly Sunday evenings but they are also essential when disaster strikes and families are left with nothing.  Shelter Box understood this and decided back in 2001 that they would be the ones to step up to the plate and help disaster victims of all kinds out.  Over the past ten years, SB has helped over 800,000 people in 57 different countries recover from floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and even war.  This green box of hope shows up with new tents, blankets, sheets, gloves, plates, tools, and even a stove for cooking.  Even the box can be used to store food or even as a cot.  SB also includes some coloring books, crayons, pencils, and paper to draw on because they know that a smile can be just as warming as a blanket when mother nature has stripped you of all your possessions.

The awesome contents of a Shelter Box

Warm Blankets Orphan Care International may not provide actual blankets like SB, but they do save the lives of orphans and widows in third world countries.  WB has a fresh take on the challenge of finding homes for innocent children, by creating church based family homes.  We all know by now that it takes a village to raise a child, and that’s exactly the type of system that WB has worked to establish.  No matter what your opinion of religion may be, you can’t disagree with the love and security these widows and children feel for the first time from WB church members.  They provide a real-life security blanket.

Shelter Box Charity

Warm Blanket Orphan Care International Donation

So here’s to you blankets!  You are there for comfort and warmth starting in the fall and carrying us all the way through the depths of winter.  You’re can be fleece, cotton, wool, or micro plush.  You’re on our beds, on our couches, in our favorite recliners, and even on our back porches.  Thank you for making our lives a little warmer and our weeknights are little cuddlier.

Week 43-Fall Favorites, Day 4-Apples

Good morning everyone!  I know you’re probably surprised to see me post so early in the day, but it’s because we have big things planned for this afternoon and this evening.  In case you haven’t heard, ESPN’s College Gameday is here in Morgantown and we’re playing LSU, the number 2 ranked team in the country at 8pm tonight.  So we’re up this morning preparing a delicious apple crumble to take to the tailgate and share with some wonderful people.  I love apples, and I love them even more when I’ve picked them off a tree in the mountains of NC thanks to my Dad and Jane!  Smelling those apples baking in the oven makes my heart happy.

I know there are some people out there who are more into eating apple crumbles than baking apple crumbles, but still love the smell of baked apples in their home.  That’s why the good people of the Charity Candle Shop have made a hot baked apple pie scent in their soy candle collection.  CCS is on a mission to support charities with their very own scent.  So you can shop for candles based on the smells that you love or the charities that you wish to support.  Let’s say you wanted to buy a cinnamon stick soy candle to go along with your hot baked apple pie scent, you would be supporting the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.  What’s that?  You don’t see a charity that you would like to support on CCS’s list.  No problem, they are always looking for new suggestions for charities to build partnerships with and give back.  Charity never smelled so sweet.  If you’re one of the people who wants to be out there picking apples, then an orchard like Little Rascals is where you want to go.  This non-profit is dedicated to providing Massachusetts family with opportunities to experience both agriculture and nature, as well as parterning with other children’s charities to raise funds through fun events.  Sometimes I think our nation has forgotten how to have good, clean family fun.  LRO is there to remind us how to spend our fall days enjoying the cool weather, being together as a family, and giving back to others who really need it.

Buy a Charity Candle Shop candle!

Find a farm where you can pick your own apples and give back to your community!

So here’s to you apples!  You are tasty, healthy, and oh so fall.  You can be eaten right off the tree, baked in the oven, or mixed into some stuffing for Thanksgiving.  You come in an array of beautiful colors and flavors, but I’m partial to the tangy Granny Smith variety.  Thank you for showing us that an apple a day gives back in a big way.

So many reasons to love apples

Week 43-Fall Favorites, Day 3-Beer

Happy first day of fall everybody!  I don’t’ know what the weather is like where you are but it was nice and brisk here in Morgantown today and I loved every minute of it!  So in order to celebrate the inauguration of my favorite season of the year I’m celebrating with a delicious Oktoberfest Leinenkugel brew.  Yes, that’s right I am enjoying an adult beverage.  I mean I am 26, I’m allowed.  Quite frankly, after a hard week of working and shaping young mind (shea right) I think I deserve one.  So let’s raise of glasses to the season of cool temperatures, hot football rivalries, and seasonal beers.

I know you’re probably wondering how in the world I am going to connect booze to charitable organizations but get ready to be surprised kids.  The Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, CA has been hosting annual charity events, like Beerfests, for fifteen years!  One of their favorite charities to raise money for is The Surfrider Foundation.  TSF was founded over 25  years ago when some very dedicated surfers got wind that their favorite wave, at First Point, was going to be destroyed.  Now, I’m gonna be honest with you guys.  I have NO idea how a wave can be destroyed forever, but I know I would be really upset if my favorite thing in the world was taken away from me.  So even though I can’t wrap my mind around the concept, I totally empathize with the feeling that motivated the three founders of TSF to take action.  They are a grassroots organization that protects what they love; oceans, waves, and beaches.  So you’re probably pretty impressed, but would you believe me if I told you that you could buy beer and 50% of the profits would go to charity?  50 Back does just that.  Paige and Kim wanted a way to say thank you to all of the service men and women who have or still serve in our nation’s military.  They wanted to establish a method that would be well received and capable of donating again and again, so they landed on crafting their own beer.  Totally makes sense if you ask me.  The charities that are supported by the purchase of 50 Back beer include the USO, Homes for Troops, American’s Vet Dogs, and more.  The only thing better than drinking to the beginning of fall is drinking to brave men and women.

I'll take a give-pack please!

Surfrider Foundation Donation 

Where to buy 50 Back Beer 

So here’s to you beer!  We’d had a chance to get to know each other over the past five (ok maybe a couple more) years.  I never thought you and charity would get together, but you’re like peas and carrots.  Thanks for being there after a long week, and giving back in a very adult way.

Week 43-Fall Favorites, Day 2-TV is back!

It's baaacckkk!

I love TV.  So sue me.  I love the fact that all of the good television shows have returned from their summer hiatus.  I also love that their seems to be a plethora of really good new shows this fall as well.  After being in school all day and putting my brain through the ringer, there are just some days when I want to veg out in front of the TV.  I am watching the new 2-hour season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy as I type this.  Yea, I know I can’t believe I still watch it sometimes either, but I think this is going to be their redemption season.  Anyway, even though it may be shallow and thoughtless and a guilty pleasure, today I am thankful for new and old sitcoms, dramas, and even reality shows.

As much as I love a handsome man on my television screen, I love a strong women in a drama even more.  The Women’s Image Network produces the WIN Awards which honors girls and women by celebrating their roles in both film and television.  It doesn’t make any sense that women only early 10% of when men earn even though we make 85% of the purchasing decisions in families.  Most people think that in today’s day and age that sexism and gender inequality are a thing of the past, but they would be wrong.  There is no place that this is more evident than the film industry.  There are more than 86% of films with zero female writers, and 77% of film critics are men.  You don’t have to be a mathematician to see how imbalanced those numbers are.  The WIN awards honor both men and women who promote gender equality through their creativity, innovation, and leadership.  On a much more superficial level, I love to Keep Up with the Kardashians and see where Kendra and Hank are living now.  All of this is thanks to Mr. Ryan Seacrest, who also turns out to have his very own charitable organization.  The Ryan Seacrest Foundation is focused on making life for seriously ill and injured children a little bit easier through multimedia and interactive platforms that educate the public.  Something Seacrest knows just a little bit about.  Another reason to love RSF, it’s a family run non-profit.  The family that runs a charity together, stays together.  The Voice is the first initiative of RSF that puts broadcast media within pediatric hospitals so children can explore the world of radio, television, and new media.  RSF wants to aid in the healing process of these patients, and bring an overall uplifting spirit to the hospital.  Seacrest out!

Women Image Network Donation

Ryan Seacrest Foundation Donation

So here’s to TV being back!  We have spent our summer frolicking in the sun and soaking up all the outdoors had to offer, but now we’re ready to settle back into our couches and be entertained.  Thank you for coming back into our homes and into our hearts.  Ok maybe not into our hearts, but that sounded a lot better than “and into the empty cavities in our brains that we’ll never use again”.

Week 43-Fall Favorites, Day 1-Chloropyll-less Leaves

This week in the in lab, I’m teaching my students about what makes plants green.  For all of my virtual students out there, it is the chlorophyll in the leaves of the plants which give them their green colors.  We also discuss how in the fall chlorophyll is the first pigment to die off, so the other accessory pigments (which makes the leaves turn pretty colors like orange, yellow, and red) get their chance to shine.  Walking around campus today I was also noticing the tops of trees starting to realize that fall will be here in just two days.  Fall is my favorite season for soooooo many reasons, but the beautiful changing leaves still take my breath away.  Thank you Mother Nature.

Leaf peeping for one please!

Trees are beautiful, but they’re also useful.  They help us breathe, they give us shade, and they even grow food for us, all in addition to just being pretty.  It’s no wonder that the non-profit Trees Forever has been working since 1989 to connect us with the trees that provide for us.  Obviously you can tell by their name that they are concerned about planting new trees, but TF also empowers individuals, builds communities, and promotes stewardship.  TF works in Iowa and Indiana to make curbsides beautiful, downtown streets scapes green and lush, and add some pazazz to bicycle and hiking trails.  Thanks to TF over 160,000 volunteers have given up over a million hours of their time to plant more than 2.8 million trees and shrubs, and help complete over 4,000 community projects.  TF envisions a place where people are able to sustain where they live, work, and play by planting and caring for trees.  I’d say they’re off to a pretty good start.  The American Forest Foundation wants you to visit your local forest!  They also want you to make sure that we preserve the gorgeous forests that are scattered across our nation for generations to come.  Go ahead and think about every cliche saying about how our children are the future and we have to show them the way, and how we only preserve the thing we love, because they apply to this scenario.  Having said that, I know that I really do want to take care of our forests for my children to see.  How else are they going to learn that chlorophyll is what gives plants their color?

Trees Forever Donation 

American Forest Foundation Donation 

So here’s to you chlorophyll-less leaves!  You have consumed my eyes and my brain so far this week, but I’m enjoying it so it’s cool.  You’re the trademark of autumn and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The vibrant oranges, yellows, and fiery reds ignite this desire in me to put on a wool sweater and drink a warm caffeinated drink.  You may be chlorophyll-less, but you’re full of life.  Thanks for warming me up from the inside out.

All roads are headed to Fall! 🙂

Week 42-Lucky Number, Day 7-13

You really didn’t think that I would go this entire week writing about lucky numbers and skip out on ‘ole number 13 did you?  I really have nothing against 13, but there are lots of superstitious people out there who do.  13 is also that age where boys and girls no longer think that the other has cooties, and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are thrown in their honor.  Most students are also transitioning from middle to high school during 13, and trying to find their place in the world.  Some hotels may not have 13th floors, but I would miss my baker’s dozen if there were no 13.

Six days before I turned 13 I lost my grandmother, and I’ve missed her everyday since.  Even though no one can replace her or even come close, the International Council of 13 Grandmothers is there to make sure the world is a better place for all of us.  In the fall of 2004 a group of very wise women gathered in upstate New York to form a council that protects Mother Earth.  Their mission is to represent a global alliance of prayer, education and healing for us all for the next seven generations to come.  The unprecedented destruction of Mother Earth and the destruction of indigenous ways of life deeply concerns the 13 grandmothers, and they believe the teachings of those who came before is will light the way through an uncertain future. 13G’s achieve their mission through projects that protect the diverse cultures: lands, medicines, language and ceremonial ways of prayer, as well as educate and nurture children.  No matter what your background is, everyone can appreciate the sentiment of taking care of the planet that takes care of us on a daily basis.  This next charity has nothing to do with the number 13, but I just saw a commercial for it while blogging and was inspired by the simplicity of their mission.  Krochet Kids International began with three snowboarders in high school who wanted some unique hats to wear out on the slopes.  Pretty soon their friends started to take notice, and began to place custom orders and they were featured in their hometown newspaper.  Years went by and the boys realized that what they once thought of as a silly little hobby was actually  life-changing skills for  many people around the world.  By teaching women in Uganda how to crochet hats and sell their products they are accomplishing their mission to empower power to rise above poverty.  KK provides these women with a job to meet their immediate needs, educate them so they can evolve past the need for any aid, and provide mentorship to help them plan a better future.  Who knew a hat could do all that, and they’re actually pretty cute too.

International Council of 13 Indegenious Grandmothers Donation 

Krochet Kids Donation (aka buy a sweet hat for fall and winter!)

So here’s to you 13!  Some people think you’re lucky and others think you’re the exact opposite.  I don’t really have an opinion either way, I’m just glad you started off my teenage years right.  There would be no rugby teams, or epic Tom Hanks movies about us missing the moon if you weren’t around.  Jennifer Garner was 13 going on 30, but I think I’ll stick to 13 going on thankful.

Hmmm what should I be thankful for today?