Thanks(4)giving

It's all about the little things…

Tag Archives: summer

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 41-I can’t live without, Day 4-Camping

I love me some camping.  The fresh air, the sleeping bags, and sitting around a camp fire with some of my favorite people.  Every year we head down to Boone, NC and join our friends for Kristinapalooza to celebrate the birthday of my very best friend!  Every year it seems like it gets better and better, and this year was no exception.  We always get the same spots at the most adorable campground in the entire world.  Camping is like a spa retreat for me.  It’s a time to relax, think about how blessed you are, and remember what’s important in life.  The world would be a better place if we all did a little more camping.

I never really went away to camp when I was younger.  Well, that’s not totally true.  I went to a 4-H Camp once, but that was pretty much it.  Camp Ramapo has been providing children with all types of disabilities the opportunity to have their own camp experience for the past 89 years.  CR has been nationally recognized for their work with children with special needs.  They work to inspire children with mental, social, and emotional challenges to develop healthy relationships, experience how good success feels, and learn important life skills.  During the summer the traditional camp is in full swing providing all the favorites of a traditional camp with a unique approach of having a one-to-one-staff-to-camper ratio.  CR provides adventure-based learning experiences and programs that help boost self-esteem, create positive character values, and spark hope in their campers.  I love the idea of CR, so I was so excited when I stumbled upon Camp Courageous, which also helps the disabled.  CC is open year-round and has campers ranging in age from 1 to 105.  Since CC began in 1972 they have expanded to 14 buildings on 150 acres, and help over 5000 campers annually.  CC also has their campers experience the sweetness of success by trying a variety of new and challenging activities.  Camp is all about letting loose and having a little bit of fun, and both CC and CR make sure that no one is denied the fun they deserve.

Ramapo Camp Donation

Camp Courageous Donation

So here’s to you camping!  I always forget how much I love you until I get a little taste of you again.  You’re the best when the leaves are starting to change, the weather is getting cooler, and snuggling is a requirement.  Thanks for being there to keep me grounded and connected to nature and the loves of my life.

See you next year Flintlock!

Week 29-Sweet Summertime, Day 7-Fireworks!

Summer is officially here! Bring on the fireworks

Happy first day of summer everyone!  It has been so much fun to write about all the great things that summertime brings to us every year and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to light up the sky with some fireworks!  Okay so I’m not really gonna light any fireworks tonight but I do love to enjoy them for all the summer holidays.  Last year Scott and I got the chance to watch the incredible fireworks show on the Hudson River with the Manhattan skyline in the background.  It was something I will never forget.  I also have so many great memories of watching the fireworks with my family every year in NC.  I’m thankful for all the fireworks shows during the summer, and all the great celebrations that are worth all that gun powder and lead.

Katy and her mold for KAB

Katy Perry’s hit song “Firework” has been blowing up the charts and inspiring people to let their inner confidence shine for months now.  Katy is also doing a little inspiring work with The Keep A Breast organization.  First of all, I’d just like to say kudos on the name, because the double entendre is amazing and it’s one of my favorite charity names of all time.  KAB is on a mission to totally get rid of breast cancer by exposing young people to ways in which they can protect themselves, detect problems early, and get help.  You would expect a charity with a such a creative name to have some creative ways to raise money to support breast cancer awareness and education, and KAB doesn’t disappoint.  They have convinced some pretty famous um, chests, to get plastered in the name of breast cancer.  The plaster female upper bodies are then customized by artists and then auctioned off.  This is probably one of the few times getting “plastered” is a good thing for a charity.  Katy has even inspired the all-male acappella choir at Ithaca College in NY, better known as Ithacappella, to lend their voices to charity by covering Firework.  All of the proceeds from the iTunes sales of their rendition went to The Trevor Project, which is the leading national organization for providing crisis and suicide prevention for the LGBTQ youth community.  Before TP there wasn’t any type of support line for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) youth to reach out to if they were feeling rejected and by their peers and needed someone to confide in.  Thanks to the magic of the internet TP has also expanded its reach to LGBTQ youth everywhere by creating an online community called Trevor Space.  This social-network was created specifically for LGBTQ individuals aged 13-24 to meet new friends, and find out where resources for them lie within their own communities.  Katy is right when she sings, “If you only knew what the future holds.  After a hurricane comes a rainbow.”

Keep A Breast Donation or buy their cool swag because you know you ♥ boobies too!

The Trevor Project Donation

So here’s to you fireworks!  You light up the warm summer nights and the hearts of big and little kids everywhere.  You’re the quintessential celebration signal that we all know and love.  We all have a little bit of explosiveness inside of us that you’ve inspired.  We’re ready to let our colors burst and show ’em what we’re worth!  Thank you for showing us the way to make ’em go, “Oh, oh, oh!”, and let them in awe-awe-awe.  

Week 29-Sweet Summertime, Day 6-Outdoor Concerts

One of my very favorite things to do during summer is go to outdoor concerts.  The weather is gorgeous (hopefully), the music is loud (definitely), and I’m surrounded by people I love (always).  Even if you’ve totally memorized every single song off an album it’s a totally different experience to hear it played live.  The energy is palpable in the both the artist and the crowd.  I also love concerts because they are a great platform for charity.  Music is something that everyone can relate to in one way or another and bring them all together.  So sit back, relax, and listen to the sweet music of giving back.

Kings of Leon summer concert last year with some great people

Rock Can Roll is just one organization that has proven how successful the combination of concerts and charity can be.  I’m not just talking about the local high school band putting on a performance either.  Crosby Stills and Nash, Brett Michaels, Maroon 5, Blink 182, and Train have all teamed up with RCR to stop hunger.  RCR coordinates events and creates projects by collecting healthy and nutritious non-perishable food (and other essential necessities) for men, women and children in need of assistance.  RCR also defines itself as a think tank to solve the huge hunger problem that our country is facing.  They believe that a simple act of kindness CAN provide dignity and relief, and that together we CAN help our neighbors.  RCR is restocking local food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters because they have harnessed the power of music.  “If music is the food of love, let it be the food of life.”  Couldn’t have said it better myself.  There have been and still are so many great benefit concerts but one of the largest and most memorable was the Live Earth concert on 07.07.07.  LE staged concerts in New York, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg and Hamburg  featured feature more than 150 of the world’s best music acts.  Everyone from The Police to Madonna to Kanye West and the Black Eyed Peas were all a part of the concert to combat the climate crisis.  Even if you’re not sure that global warming is a real thing you gotta admit pulling off this concert was a serious feat.  LE was also founded on the fact that the entertainment business has the power to transcend both social and cultural barriers to move the world into action.  Music makes us want to get up and move, and hopefully after reading this you’ll want to get up and move to your butt to volunteer!

rock CAN roll Donation

Live Earth Donation

So here’s to you outdoor concerts!  You are my happy place when the days are long and the nights are warm.  There is nothing better than being wrapped up in a blanket of stars and being serenaded by your favorite bands.  There are so many good things that I could say about you, but I think until everyone has a chance to experience you, they can’t feel the gratitude I feel for you.

Yes, yes it does!

Week 29-Sweet Summertime, Day 5-Happy Father’s Day!

That’s right, it’s that time of year again when we get to tell the great fathers and men in our lives how much we love them.  It happens every June and we can all thank President Nixon for making it a national holiday.  I’m so lucky to have an amazing father and I love every minute I get to spend with him.  Today also makes me think about all the great men, like my Mom’s dad, who I never got a chance to meet.  So many fathers have raised great children that have grown up to change the world and make it a better place.  Today’s post is for my own Dad, but it’s also for all the Dads out there who deserve more than one Sunday a year to be honored.  Thanks!

Obviously I’ve never been nor will I ever be a father, but I do know that it’s got to be one of the toughest jobs on the planet.  Boys Town has been changing the way America cares for children and families since they were first founded by Father Edward Flanagan in 1917.  I had no idea BT was founded by a real-life “Father” until I already decided to blog about them today, but how perfect?  BT works hard to provided the right services at the right time based on the needs of the children or family.  Part of the reason they have been so effective for over 90 years is the fact that they bring their programs and services straight to the families’ homes.  Every year BT reaches millions of individuals and directly cares for over 121,000 children and families.  BT has more than a dozen sites across the country and also has its well-known national hotline that has answered over 8 million phone calls since it started in 1989.  They are busy bees!  Another organization that is busy helping families is Father Joe’s Villages.  FJV is a multi-city homeless rehabilitation organization that is focused on helping underprivileged children and families get back on their feet.  FJV is working to make communities where everyone is able to obtain food, housing, healthcare, and education; and to achieve his or her full potential.  They have come a long way during their sixty-year history from handing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to seven large villages helping people across the west coast.  The comprehensive program they have developed over the  years included a full medical and dental clinic, so the physical needs of families can be met as well as their emotional ones.

Boys Town Donation

Father Joe’s Villages Donation

So here’s to you Father’s Day!  You’re that summer reminder each year that we all need to be a little nice to our Dads.  You’re also a great excuse to go out to eat, buy Dad a new watch or necktie, and just spend some good old-fashioned quality time as a family.  Sure we should do that anyway but sometimes we all need a little push.  Thanks for being there to give us that extra shove into the arms of the men who raised us up right.

Week 29-Sweet Summertime, Day 3-Vacation!

Arguably the very best part of summer is going on vacation!  Whether it’s to the beach, the mountains, somewhere exotic, or just a weekend away at the lake, summer screams vacation.  We wait all year-long for school to get out, the temperature to be just right, and our bodies to get in tip-top shape to don that swimwear we bought on sale from the season before.  Vacation is the place where we get to leave behind the cares of work, schedules, diets, and any kind of social stigma about drinking before 5 o’clock.  We get to let loose and really remember that life’s not all about making money or driving the fanciest car on the block.  It’s about soaking up every single second we have during our short lives with the people we love in places that make us feel alive.

When it comes to vacation, Florida is pretty high up on the list for the very best places to visit.  I mean come on, they have Mickey Mouse.  Who can compete with that?  Ok, California can but just roll with me here.  Since 1986 the non-profit Give Kids The World has fulfilled the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the world to experience a once in a lifetime cost-free visit to the Central Florida attractions, and to enjoy the magic of Give Kids The World Village.  They continue to honor their promise to never turn a child away.  Over 100,000 children and their families have had the chance to visit the 70-acre “storybook” GKTW Village resort where all their daily worries melt away.  I mean just look at this Gingerbread House Restaurant, what kid (or adult for the matter) wouldn’t love to eat here?

Gingerbread House Restaurant

Compassion, dedication, credibility, integrity, and team work are the core values of GKTW and they show through the smiles and memories these children are able to keep with them forever.  Vacations are definitely made for relaxing but these days they are also for volunteering!  It gets even better, organizations like Global Vision International and GlobeAware plan everything ahead of time so all you have to do is sign up!  GA puts together short-term volunteer vacations that promote cultural awareness and/or promote sustainability.  GVI was founded in 1998 and has sent over 10,000 volunteers overseas to be a part of critical environmental and humanitarian projects.  Both GVI and GA are the cream of the crop as far as volunteer vacations are concerned.  They have been featured in countless news outlets and are the place to go if you want a great, safe experience abroad.  Find the perfect GA or GVI volunteer vacation for this summer or next!

Give Kids The World Donation

GlobeAware Donation & Global Vision International Donation

So here’s to you vacation!  You are the reason we work so hard for the other 51 weeks during the year.  You’re like the best friend we had in elementary school who moved away, and who we don’t seen enough anymore but we revel in the time we do get to spend together.  You’re the bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas, and the cool kid in class that everyone wants to be friends with.  Thank you for being there to catch us when we fall away from reality.

Peace out reality!

Week 29-Sweet Summertime, Day 1-Fresh Air

Open all the windows in your house or apartment and take a nice deep breath.  If you have allergies you might want to skip this little exercise, but for those who can, doesn’t the air smell like summer?  It will be here on the 21st, and I could literally smell it coming for a couple of weeks now.  The flowers have bloomed, the vegetables are growing in the garden, the days are longer, and I have the sudden urge to walk barefoot everywhere.  Summertime meant total freedom when we were kids, and thankfully it still holds that sense of magic and possibility no matter how old we get.  At least for me anyway.

Ahhh breathe it in people...

Kids love being outside during the summer, but what if you lived in the concrete jungle that is New York City and you couldn’t afford to get away?  No worries, the Fresh Air Fund is already two steps ahead of you.  Since 1877 they have provided 1.7 million New York City children from disadvantages areas summer experiences in the country.  Every year thousands of Fresh Air kids visit host families in 13 different states and even in Canada, eh?  They named it the Fresh Air Fund because when they began there was a tuberculosis outbreak in children living in NYC and “fresh air’ was said to be a cure to this respiratory aliment.  The FAF is another great example that the simplicity of a charity can also be its biggest strength.  FAF also knows that fresh air is good for you year-round so they host off-season camping and programs during the rest of the year.  The only thing better than breathing in the warm fresh summer air is doing it from the top of a tree house.  Treehouse has worked since 1988 to fill in the gaps for foster children that other agencies have dropped the ball on for years.  TH has six core programs tutoring, educational advocacy, college and career planning, Little Wishes, the Wearhouse, and last but not least, summer camp!  Camp gives these kids a chance to forget about all their worries and just have a little fun.  They make new friends, meet new positive role models, and they get a little time away from their foster parents. It’s things like one little seven-day camp week provided by TH that helps these foster kids have a childhood and a future.  Who could ask for anything more?

Fresh Air Fund Donation

Treehouse Donation

So here’s to you fresh air!  You help refresh our nostrils and renew our souls.  You may smell a little different to each one of us but there’s always a lingering scent of fun and frivolity.  You make us feel like kids again, and we always seem to want to let our hair down when you come around.  Thank you for always showing up when we just can’t handle the sight of another snowflake or the allergy attack of a spring day.

Week 27-Get Bikini Ready, Day 4-Buy a new babing suit!

Rock it Barbie!

You can work out everyday, get a spray tan, and shave those legs but if you don’t have a bathing suit, or babing suit as my friends and I like to say, then you’re not bikini ready!  Most of us dread getting into one, but unless you want to be that kid that swims in shorts and a t-shirt you’re gonna have to bite the bullet.  Luckily there are lots of affordable and body friendly options out there for everyone.  Even the one-piece is making comeback in a big way!  It turns out that leaving a little something-something to the imagination is all it’s cracked up to be.  I’m just thankful someone designed a suit that I can wear to go swimming and cool off in the heat of the summer.

It probably comes as no surprise that there has been more than one hottie-with-a-body celebrity to design a bikini for charity.  Take for example Ms. Gwyneth Paltrow who designed a swim suit for the Lily Pulitzer Colorful Cause: Celebrity Designer Program to support the EB Medical Research Foundation.  EB stands for epidermolysis bullosa which is a painful, genetic skin condition that causes skin to break and blister at the slightest touch.  Those who suffer by EB fight daily against fluid loss and infections from the open wounds they have on their bodies.  They are also very susceptible to skin cancers and do not usually live past the age of thirty.  Gwyneth isn’t the only celebrity supporter of this great charity that is working to learn more about EB, its causes, how it can be treated, and how it can be cured.  Brad Pitt, Courtney Cox, and Eva Longoria have all dedicated their time and famous mugs to support EBRF.  The Victoria Secret ex-girlfriend of Leonardo DiCaprio, Bar Rafaeli, designed the perfect little black bikini to benefit Boarding For Breast Cancer.  This non-profit’s name pretty much sums up what they’re all about.  Their mission is to increase awareness about breast cancer, early detection, and the value of an active lifestyle.  B4BC believes the best way to prevent breast cancer is to combine early detection by giving yourself monthly self-exams, and an active lifestyle of snowboarding/skiing/any exercise you love!  Plus they have awesome apparel that lends a little humor to talking about two very important assets that all us women as blessed with.

EB Medical Research Foundation Donation

Boarding For Breast Cancer Donation

So here’s to buying a new babing suit!  Sure you can wear the one you had from last year, but isn’t it much more fun to buy a new one and donate your old one?  I think so!  It’s also much more fun to actually say babing suit, than bathing suit.  Go ahead try it, you’ll thank me later.  Thanks for helping us reach our full summer potential!

Week 27-Get Bikini Ready, Day 3-Bye-bye hair!

Say hello to Grandma Wrinkles

There is just something about being out in the bright summer sun that makes us all more self-conscious about every little hair on our body.  As women we shave, wax, laser, whatever we have to do in order to make sure that we are bikini ready.  While it is a little bit more socially acceptable for the dudes to be sporting some body hair, I know plenty of guys that have their own “manscaping” routines.  Hey, to each his own.  Even though it’s a pain in the you-know-what to remove, I’m still thankful to have my hair.  I’m afraid that without it I’d look like Grandma Wrinkles.

Now that I’ve scared you all out of your wits, let’s talk about The Human Life Trust.  Normally you think of permanent makeup or tattoo removal as elective procedure, but that’s not always the case.  HLF works to alleviate the physical, psychological, and social effects of alopecia and other hair loss disorders, tattoos, and scarring.  You may be reading this thinking that this sounds like one of the most vain charity causes you’ve ever heard of, but I bet you’d feel different if chemotherapy left you with no eyebrows.  HLF isn’t just changing the way people look on the outside, they are helping them start a new life and feel good about themselves from the inside out.  A tattoo, scar, or lack of hair can be a painful reminder of a past life an individual has worked hard to forget about and move on.  Alopecia areata is an auto-immune skin disease that results in hair loss most commonly on the scalp, but occasionally in other parts of the body as well.  The National Alopecia Areata Foundationis dedicated solely to finding a cure and a treatment for this life-altering condition.  NAAF has also been working for over twenty years to educate the public about what alopecia areata really is.  Alopecia doesn’t discriminate between age, race, or gender.  It can begin in childhood and continue for years until there is no hair left for the disease to take.  When it comes down to it, this is not a matter to split hair over.  Okay, so that was a bad joke, but living with alopecia isn’t so remember that the next time you’re complaining about shaving your legs.

Ahh the joys of being a woman...

Human Life Trust Donation

National Alopecia Areata Foundation Donation

So here’s to saying bye-bye hair!  You have got to take a hike during the next couple of months.  We might even make you stay away longer than that, but we’ll see once we start wearing long pants again.  Even though we’re kicking you to the curb, we’re still thankful for you!  Thank you for keeping us warm during the winter months, and reminding us that we’re all just mammals. 

Week 27-Get Bikini Ready, Day 2-Tantastic

Let’s face it, nobody really wants to be pale and sickly looking, especially during the summer.  Sure if we were Parisians in the Victorian age we would all paint our faces white and look like ghosts, but that is so two centuries ago.  Sorry, we’ve been watching the John Adams series,  so I’ve got colonial times on the brain.  While nobody wants to be known as Casper, they also don’t want to be referred to as George Hamilton either.  Luckily the evolution of self-tanners have left us all with the opportunity to glow a little more and get cancer a little less.  Even though I make a valiant effort to slather the sunscreen on before I go out in the sun, I am still a fan of feeling that warmth on my skin.  We all gotta get our daily Vitamin D someway, and I can only drink so much milk.

Yea you don't wanna be that guy

The completely obvious, but still totally important, non-profit that has set the standard for educating the public about how to protect our pretty little faces is The Skin Cancer Foundation.  SCF is the only international organization whose sole mission is to combat skin cancer, which has now become the world’s most common cancer that is occurring at epidemic levels.  One in every three cancers that are diagnosed is skin cancer.  Scary stuff, especially considering how many times I’ve had a sunburn already in my short 26 years.  SCF also has an online interactive Smart Sun Safety program for children in grades 6-8, where they can learn about how to prevent cancer and still be active in sports and other outdoor activities.  You can also fight skin cancer with Style, the network that is.  They have even created a new PSA that is loaded with celebrities like Brandy, Ashlan Gorse, Danielle Fishel, and Meghan McCain…naked.  That’s right all these women stripped down to their birthday suits to make the point that if you go outside without sunscreen on you might as well be naked.  The Shade Foundation of America has partnered with Style in their efforts to help educate our nation that gym, tan, laundry may be cool if you’re on reality TV, but not if you live in reality.  SFA wants the world to be skin cancer free and they are doing their part by educating as many people as they can reach.  SFA was founded by the Shonda Schilling, wife of award-winning pitcher Curt Shilling, after her very public battle with melanoma back in 2002.  Shonda has her cancer battle scars as a reminder to herself and others that seeking shade when you’re out in the sun is smart, and sexy.

The Skin Cancer Foundation Donation

The Shade Foundation of America Donation

So here’s to you tantastic!  Now more than ever we know how to get that beautifully bronzed physique without running the risk of looking like a lobster.  Sure you can still get carried away with sunless tanners but it’s better to look like an oompa loompa for a few days then the alternative.  So take a lesson from everybody’s favorite Friend, Ross, and take a little trip down to the mystic tanning booth.  Thanks for showing us how not to do it Ross.

That's one fine tan you got there Ross