Thanks(4)giving

It's all about the little things…

Tag Archives: children

Did you miss me?

That’s right people, I’m back!  I can only hope that you missed me as much as I missed you!  I do have to admit however that I have throughly enjoyed a little break form the blogging.  It’s funny how you don’t realize how much work something is until after you’re finished.  There are nights when I get home from school and the fact that I don’t have to write a blog is what I am most thankful for.  Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system let’s get down to business.  Just in case you’ve managed to go all day without remembering, today is Monday.  For most people that means an extra cup of coffee, hitting the snooze button one more time, or a well deserved adult beverage at the end of the day.  It also means new beginnings.  Since this is my first post of 2012, it only makes sense that I’m thankful for a new year, a new semester, and new chance to blog!

It's the year of the Dragon people!

Life is all about beginnings.  We are born, we start school, we start college, we start a career, we start a family, and the list goes on and on.  It’s easy for us to forget that we even though we like new beginnings and what they represent, we didn’t really have it all that bad to start with.  Orphaned children in Uganda on the other hand, deserve a new start.  There are over 2 million children who are orphaned because of war, poverty, AIDS, or famine.  New Beginnings Charitable Trust works to provide the resources these children need for a safe place to call home, somewhere to receive medical care, and the education they deserve.  NBCT started by purchasing 8 acres of land in the Nakasangola District of Uganda near the local school.  Your heart will break when you read the stories of the brave children whose spirits just can’t be broken.  The team from Northern Ireland works closely with a carefully chosen African staff to make sure they change the lives of Ugandan children one at a time.  Nothing says new adventure like starting a new business.  I mean it is called the American dream for a reason.  New Profit Inc. exists in order to help entrepreneurs find a way to make their dreams of improving the lives of children, families, and communities come true.  Some of the most innovative organization I’ve ever come across have been non-profits.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to watch ridiculous infomercials as much as the next gal, but I would much rather give my hard earned moola to an organization that is changing lives.  Can I get an amen?  I know I don’t loose any sleep over the donations I gave to charities last year, but I bet you’ve got a ThighMaster taking up space in a closet somewhere.  Sorry Suzzane.

New Beginnings Charitable Trust Donation

New Profit Inc. Donation

So here’s to you new beginnings!  Sure, we’re all about you this time of year, but I have a feeling this year you’ll be sticking around.  You represent all the things we hope for and dream of.  You’re a huge part of our life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Without you there would be no new years, new semesters, and new babies, and who doesn’t love a new baby?

Welcome to the world baby Connor!

Week 52-The Final Countdown, Day 4-Reunited

So it’s the last night we’re here in good ‘ole NC, and I’m so excited to see all my girls!  I’ve seen a few of them here and there over the past 5 days, but tonight is going to be like a mini-reunion!  There was a group of about 8 of us who were super close in high school, and stayed that way even though we went our separate ways for college.  They are the type of girls that I love with all my heart, and I know that no matter how far apart in distance we are, we’re never more than a phone call away.  We’re all grown up now, or at least we’re suppose to be, but I’m so thankful that we take the time to reunite and reconnect. 

I can hardly stand being separated from my friends, so I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to be parent separated from my child.  Reunite International was created in 1987 to help parents who are trying to navigate through the legal nightmare of international parental child abduction.  They provide information and support to parents, family members, and guardians who have had their child abducted or are afraid their child may be at risk for abduction.  RI is also there to talk to and give practical advice to a parent who may have abducted their own child.  RI is also dedicated to raising awareness about international parental child abduction on a global level.  RI works closely with government agencies and other organizations to formulate quick resolutions that are in the best interest of the children when abduction does occur.  RI is able to provide support to parents when they need it the most.  The closest thing I have to children right now are my dogs, and I would be heart-broken if something were to happen and I was unable to see them on a daily basis. Nowzad Dogs is a charity that was created in order to rescue stray animals in Afghanistan and Iraq that soldiers have come across in their everyday lives.  Afghan and Iraqi dogs and cats spend most of their days just trying to survive.  ND knows they can’t possibly rescue every stray dog in those two countries, so they are also trying to educate the locals on animal welfare.  ND gives hope and new homes to numerous dogs that someone else has just totally forgotten about.  A few soldiers have even been reunited with the animals they took the time to care for and nurture while they were deployed.  I don’t know how anyone could say no to adorable little faces like the ones below.

So cute!

Reunite International Donation

Nowzad Dogs Donation

So here’s to being reunited!  There are very little things that compare to hugging the neck of someone you haven’t seen in way too long.  You can be played every 10 years, or impromptu, but you’re always a chance to catch up on the latest.  Everyday life may try to keep us apart but you will have none of it!  There’s no place like home, and there are no words to tell someone you love how much you’ve truly missed them, cause we’re reunited and it feels so good!

I love a good reunion!

Week 52-The Final Countdown, Day 3-Forgiveness

It only seemed appropriate that I miss one of my blog posts during my final week.  I remember when I missed my first post on Christmas Day last year, and I was sure the world would end.  Wrong.  Just like it kept on turning yesterday even though I didn’t publish a post.  The great thing is, there’s always tomorrow.  I always find a way to rally and make sure that I get caught up from the day before.  So even though I’m a day late, yesterday I was thankful for forgiveness.  I knew you guys out there wouldn’t stop reading just because I skipped a day.  Thank you for being so forgiving, and just plain awesome.

Forgiveness is one of those lessons that is hardest to learn, but oh so important.  The Forgiveness Project is a charity across the pond that explores forgiveness, reconciliation, and conflict resolution through real-life experiences.  TFP collects and shares the stories from people around the world who have chosen forgiveness over revenge.  By healing the wounds of the past we can start to build a better future.  TFP works in prisons, communities, and with any group of individual who wants to explore what it’s like to forgive.  Forgiveness can be big or small, but what TFP hopes to do is inspire just one person in the right direction.  The F Word is an exhibition put on by TFP which shows powerful images of forgiveness triumphing in atrocious situations.  Basically, it makes me being worried about not posting one day look like a walk in the park.  If you’re interested in sharing your story about forgiveness TFP would love to hear it!  Forgiveness can also be extremely difficult.  The Caylee Marie Anthony Foundation was created to honor Caylee’s memory, but I also think it’s helped those involved find peace and work towards forgiveness.  The mission of the foundation is to help prevent child abduction through creating awareness of child safety measures, and provide support to families and law enforcement agencies during child recovery efforts.  Obviously the Anthony family has experienced what it is like to have a child missing, and they want to reach out to others during this difficult time.  They may not have made it all the way to forgiving the person who took Caylee away from their lives, but they are helping others as they journey towards that goal.

The Forgiveness Project Donation

Caylee Marie Anthony Foundation Donation

So here’s to you forgiveness!  You can be hard pill to swallow when you want to be, but you always seems to make us feel better.  We learn about you as we grow up, but sometimes we need a little reminder about you even when we’re grown.  Thank you for making the world a better place, one “I’m sorry” at a time.  

Week 52-The Final Countdown, Day 1-Brother

Well this is it folks, the very last week of my post-a-day marathon!  I know you’re all terribly sad, but trust me, life will go on.  This week is all about getting back to the heart of why I started blogging in the first place.  To be thankful for all the little things I take for granted on a daily basis.  Even though this endeavor has helped me realize how blessed I am, it still amazes me how easily I can forget that.  I may not blogging everyday anymore after this week, but I will continue to be thankful everyday.  Like today for example, I am thankful I got a chance to eat dinner with my brother.  I have eaten dinner everyday for almost 18 years, but it made my day.  Little things, people, little things.

Can ya tell we're related?

Even though they’re not my brothers, there are a lot of screaming tweens everywhere that are thankful for the Jonas Brothers, and tonight I’m with them.  The Jo Bros founded the Change for the Children Foundation in order to support charities that motivate and inspire children to face hard with a positive and determined outlook.  I’ve actually already blogged about most of the charities CCF works with like Nothing But Nets, the American Diabetes Association, and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.  The cool part is, the Jo Bros agree that the best people to help these kids, are other kids!  There is something like 1,788,643,438 people in the world who are between the ages of 5 and 19.  That translates to a heck of a lot of people to help each other out.  The Jo Bros are also no strangers to getting their peers to help them out a little.  CCF has teamed up with Edward Norton and Crowdrise to help them raise money, and so far they have raised over $12,000 towards their $15,000 goal.  Not too shabby.  Another impressive charity is Brother’s Brother Foundation which founded in 1958 in order to promote international health and education.  BBF has provided more than $3.4 billion worth of donated medical, educational, and agricultural supplies in 140 plus countries on five different continents.  Thousands upon thousands of text books, medical supplies, seeds, and food have given people better health, an education, nourishment, and a hope for more good things to come.  My brother doesn’t have a brother, but if he did, I’m sure he would follow suit with BBF and give him anything he ever needed.  He’s taken pretty good care of me more than once.

Change for the Children Foundation Donation

Brother’s Brother Foundation Donation

So here’s to you my awesome brother!  You’ve been there for me through thick and thin, and I know we still have lots more trials wade through together.  What I’m really thankful for is the fact that we still have lots more memories to be made.  You may be the only brother I have, but I know a good brother when I see one, and you’re it.  I love how we can have an entire conversation without saying a word, or finish each other sentences.  Thank you for being the peanut butter to my chocolate.

Week 51-Meet me in… Day 3-In the middle

I feel like I’ve been in the middle of a tug-a-war match all day long.  Go do surgery, go to class, go back to the lab, oops you forgot you scheduled a haircut.  I loved being busy but today is one of those days when I wish there were about three more of me.  Being in graduate school is all about keeping it between the lines.  If you go too far outside them your program will suffer, if you stay too close to the middle you will never have any fun.  Plus the Diamond Rio song with the same title is one of my all-time favorites.  It comes on and I immediately turn it up and jam out.  Thanks for making me want to meet you in the middle every time.

One of the hardest places to stay in the middle, ironically, is when you are in middle school.  It’s such a weird time for boys and girls emotionally, physically, and socially.  The After-School All-Stars program works to enrich the minds and bodies and spirits of these young adults.  Middle school is the time to prepare students for high school and even college, but these days that is easier said than done.  ASAS provides enrichment opportunities, academic support, and health and fitness activities for over 81,000 kids each year in 12 different cities.  Oh, did I mention that this daily after-school program from 3pm-6pm is free!  I don’t even have kids but I can imagine the sense of relief that those All-Star parents much feel knowing that their kids are safe each day while they finish up work.  ASAS also provides a model for other middle schools that want to implement an after-school program in their area.  If Lebron and Arnold both support this cause then it must be a pretty big deal.  Being in the middle of a divorce is one place that no child should be.  Kids In The Middle  uses education, counseling, and support to help children, parents, and families work through a divorce.  KITM also promises better, healthier futures for children of divorced families.  My parents have been divorced a long time, and I was one of the lucky kids who wasn’t put in the middle, but unfortunately that is not always the case.  Founded back in 1977, KITM was originally created to counsel groups of children whose parents are divorced or separated.  Over the past 34 years they have expanded to 35 committed professionals who counsel entire families.  KITM also has a great section on their website for just kids.  That way kids have access to things they need to help them cope 24/7.

After-School All-Stars Donation

Kids In The Middle Donation

So here’s to the middle!  You are right there in-between the good and the bad, the rich and the poor, and the crazy and boring.  You know who would love you?  Goldilocks!  That was a girl who knew a thing or two about liking things in the middle!  Thanks for giving us a place to meet when we just can’t pick a side.  

Week 51-Meet me in… Day 1-Your dreams

Six o’clock wake up call for me this morning means weird dreams for me last night.  I won’t go into all the details, but one was that I forgot to blog and everyone was terribly upset with me.  Obviously this has happened before and the world has not stopped turning, but it was scary in my dream none-the-less.  This week it is also hitting me more that there are only two weeks left of my 365 project.  It’s become a part of my daily life and I really don’t know what I’m going to do with myself when it’s over.  Even though this part of the journey is quickly coming to an end, I am thankful that we can always meet each other in our dreams.

See you when the sun goes down!

No matter where life takes us, we should never stop dreaming.  Kristi Yamaguchi has used this as her personal motto for years.  First, I just have to confess my serious girl crush on Kristi.  I have so many found memories of watching her kick some serious butt on the ice, and then she showed she can dance her way to the mirror ball trophy just a few years ago.  If her dreams take me as far as she’s gone, sign me up!  Kristi founded the Always Dreams Foundation in 1996 to support organizations that have a positive influence on children.  Fifteen years later they are still looking for a diverse range of programs which are created with the sole purpose of creating and nurturing the dreams of children and adolescents.  ADF has provided funding for summer camps for children with disabilities, back-to-school shopping sprees for underprivileged children, and purchased computers for after-school mentoring programs.  Some people are blessed with amazing family and friends that believe in our hopes and dreams and help us reach them no matter how lofty they are.  Krisit and ADF knows this isn’t the case for everyone, but they are hoping to change that.  It turns out that even though we grow up, we never grow too old to dream.  Dream Foundation was the first, and is still the largest, national wish-granting non-profit for adults who have life-limiting illnesses.  DF has been working for 17 years to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their families as they reach the end of life’s journey here on Earth.  DF is the adult version of the Make A Wish Foundation that we have all heard about.  Everyone’s dream is different but DF makes it come true.  Some people just want to be sure their family is taken care of after they are no longer with them, and other people want to meet Justin Bieber.  Hey, who are we to judge?  DF also gives its supporters the chance to sponsor adopt someone else’s dream, and make sure it comes true.  Who doesn’t want to be a part of the Dream Team?

Always Dream Foundation Donation 

Dream Foundation Donation

So here’s to your dreams!  Sometimes they are filled with flying and other times with falling, but they are always a nice break from reality.  You really can be anything our little heart desires, and that type of freedom is hard to find in the world these days.  You let us be us without anything thinking, decision-making, or judgement.  Thank you for setting us free from the constraints of real life, and making the impossible, possible.

Week 50-The Golden Week, Day 6-Gold Medal

I think everyone should get a gold medal every week just for making it through another Monday.  I think even for people who like what they do Monday can be grueling.  You just enjoyed two lovely days without work and now you’re thrown back into five more days before you get another break.  I realize that completing a single work day does not take near the dedication or effort that winning an actual gold medal does, but sometimes the small accomplishments help us work up to the big ones.  So today I’m simply thankful for the gold medal of a yummy home-cooked Mexican dinner and being home before 9 pm.

I'll take 3 please

Gold medal snowboarder Hannah Teter does her fair share of winning off the slopes as well.  She started Hannah’s Gold, which is a company that makes maple syrup and donates its profits to provide water for the Kenyan village, Kirindon, and helps buy plots of land for homeless AIDS victims.  You’re probably asking the same question that I am.  What does snowboarding and maple syrup have to do with Africa?  I love Hannah’s answer to this.  “I always felt like there was a lot that needs to be done in the world, and who better to do it than me?”  Exactly!  That is the same way she approached the Olympics and that seemed to work out pretty well for her so she kept spreading her positive energy around.  Hannah grew up in Vermont so making syrup is something that is special to her because she used to do it with her family, and she wanted to share this with others.  She also sells organic cotton/hemp sweat bands to help out bring clean water to Kirindon.  I’d say Hannah is shoo-in for the gold medal in charity work.  Other gold-medal winners like Clara Hughes and Joey Cheek have donated thousands of dollars to the organization Right To Play.  Every child has the right to play, and by jointing with RTP we can help make that a reality.  The power of sport and play for development, health, and peace can be used to help some of the most disadvantaged children in the world.  Sports are capable of bringing children from all backgrounds, religions, and ethnicities together to become active participants in society.  Real social change happens because these children are actively engaging in sports on a regular basis.  More than 700,000 children are a part of sports activities because of RTP.  Officially founded in 2003, RTP has helped countless children build self-esteem resist peer pressure, and learn how to communicate with others.  I wish I could give every one of those kids a gold medal, but they probably feel like they’ve already won.

Hannah’s Gold Products

Right To Play Donation

So here’s to you gold medal!  You’re that shiny prize that every athlete hopes to win every few years when the competition really counts.  We even keep a tally of all the medals each country has won during the Olympics.  It’s a big deal, I get that.  All I’m saying is that maybe the rest of us are pretty good at what we do as well.  Thanks for giving us the motivation to reach for our goals, and help somebody else reach theirs along the way. 

Week 50-The Golden Week, Day 3-Golden Opportunity

Stacks of opportunities!

TGIF!  Today was a fun day filled with lots of animals and lots of laughs.  Even though I am in the animal science department I don’t get to work with actual animals near as much as I’d like to, so it’s always nice to spend a day out at the farm.  I was also surprised by my wonderful grad school friends with balloons, cupcakes, and presents for my impending birthday.  The best part is, we still have a whole evening of fun ahead of us.  We’re going out to celebrate Fiesta Friday (which is Mexican Monday’s first cousin) and going to the WVU men’s basketball game.  Having the opportunity to move here to Morgantown and meet so many great people is something I am more and more thankful for everyday.

There are opportunities swirling around us on a daily basis.  Tiki Barber, former NY Giants football player, decided to start the Opportunity League for disabled children back in 2008.  The mission of the OL is to promote health, physical fitness, wellness, and independence for people of all ages and abilities.  They also help to improve the quality of life through inclusive fitness programs as well as recreation and sports competitions in community-based handicap accessible parks, schools, and healthcare facilities.  OL specializes in developing and building park and playground equipment that helps everyone have fun together.  OL isn’t just about the sports either.  Their facilities bring people together as a community to celebrate their differences and learn how to help each other.  Playing outside is the universal language for children, and OL makes sure that no one is left out.  The United Nations Population Fund is also doing their part to make sure that every woman, man, and child is able to enjoy a life of good health and equal opportunity.  UNPF uses population data for programs all over the world that help reduce cases of HIV, make sure every birth is safe for mother and child, and make sure that every young girl and woman are treated with dignity and respect.  UNPF knows that every person counts.  We’re all interconnected in this small world, so the more we help to take care of other the more we will be taken care of.  We just have to make sure we’re ready to see and take on the opportunities that life throws our way.

Opportunity League Donation

United Nations Population Fund Donation

So here’s to you golden opportunities!  You make life a little more interesting.  We never really know when or where you are going to show up, but you find a way to pop up when we need you the most.  You weren’t named silver or titanium opportunities for a reason.  Thank you for putting a certain shine on life’s little wonders.

Week 50-The Golden Week, Day 2-Liquid Gold

As this fabulous week marches into Thursday I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Fab Fit Fun titled, “Tap into Liquid Gold”.  Seriously?  I can’t make these things up.  Obviously they don’t mean real liquid gold, but I could hardly believe it when I got the email this morning.  FFF is referring to all the amazing uses for good old-fashioned olive oil.  As I’ve mentioned more times that I can count, I like to think of myself as a food connoisseur, so of course we use olive oil in our household!  We dip our bread in it, marinate in it, and drizzle it over our veggies when we grill them during the summer.  So if you are still whipping out your butter like Paula Dean, sit back and prepare to be amazed at the wonders of “liquid gold”.  Thank good I’ve versed in all things edible.

I love goooold!

One reason olive oil is so good for you is the fact that it is packed full of polyphenols.  Polyphenols have high anti-inflammatory properties and help protect our cells.  I bet Shania Twain knows all about that cause she looks fabulous for 46 years young!  She also knows how to protect children who sometimes fall through the cracks of the education system.  Shania Kids Can is a program that was specially designed to help primary school children who are having problems at home.  These children often come to school hungry, tired, depressed, or with low-esteem.  Obviously none of these are good for their ability to learn new material and thrive in an educational environment.  Shania admits that she didn’t have the best life when she was growing up so she knows what it feels like to come to school with other things weighing on her mind.  SKC helps to educate teachers on how to identify these students and provide a safe, productive, confidence building environment where they will thrive.  It’s like they provide polyphenols for the soul.  With all the Penn State scandal news flooding the media, it has a lot of us wanting to know what we can do to protect the innocent children and young adults around us who can’t speak up for themselves.  Olive Crest has been dedicated to preventing child abuse and preserving families one life at a time since 1973.  It is sad statistic but everyday in America there are five children who die from child abuse.  OC provides safe homes, counseling, and education for both children and parents.  What’s really special about OC is that they continue to follow the children who went through their programs long after they have graduated.  OC has served over 50,000 abused, neglected, and at risk children and their families over the past 35 years and they’re not slowing down anytime soon.  You hear that Jerry Sandusky?

Shania Kids Can Donation

Olive Crest Donation

So here’s to you liquid gold!  FFF thinks that you come in the form of olive oil, but I think the real liquid gold comes when we give of ourselves.  Those little pieces of our hearts that we give to others during our lives are what make their lives so much richer.  It’s no wonder the price of gold is at an all-time high.  Thank goodness I know that the more you give the more you receive, and nobody can put a price on that.

Week 49-Knowvember, Day 2-Adopt-a-thon

Today was a very productive day for me so I rewarded myself tonight with a little television therapy of my favorite kind.  Sex and the City episodes.  Anytime I get the chance to walk Charlotte, Miranda, Samantha, and Carrie frolic around New York City in fabulous clothes and have even more fabulous adventures.  Tonight’s reward session included “Out of the Frying Pan” where Charlotte and Harry first consider adoption as a solution to their fertility problems.  Is it a coincidence that November is also National Adoption Month?  No way Jose!  I love babies, and it makes me so thankful to know that the month of my birth is all about finding all kinds of adorable happy homes.

For those of you who don’t know, adoption is expensive.  Which always boggled my mind, but that’s a whole different blog.  Gift of Adoption Fund is an organization that inspires adoptions by giving grants to those who are looking to adopt.  More than 80 million Americans have considered adopting a child but less than 1% have actually seen that dream come to fruition because of the costs.  Since GAF was started in 1996, they have gifted almost $2 million dollars to help change the lives of 650 children and families.  I also love GAF because even if you can’t adopt a child yourself you can be a vital part of transforming so many lives.  140 million children in the world are orphans, and there are 500,000 children in the United States foster care system that do not have a family to call their own.  GAF embodies what charity should always be about.  Helping those who are not as fortunate as we find ourselves.  World Association for Children and Parents has been providing life-changing aid and adoption services to orphans and other children in need.  Over 10,000 children have been placed into homes where they are fed, clothed, and loved thanks to WACAP.  Starting in 1976, WACAP has been committed to providing love and care to those in need, one child at a time.  WACAP is also there to educate the public about which adoption plan fits their lives the best.  Adoption in theory sounds easy, but there is what seems like endless red tape that has been torn down before any forward progress can be made.  WACAP helps you pick up those scissors and cut up those road blocks.

Gift of Adoption Fund Donation

World Association for Children and Parents Donation

So here’s to you adopt-a-thon!  You picked a great month in November to spread the world about your great cause.  Babies are booming in November.  Heck, five of the six people in our office are born this month.  Bringing a new life into the world is a beautiful thing, but sometimes it happens just a little too early for everyone to appreciate it.  Thank you for giving us a world full of people who see the beauty where others can not.

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