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To One Person You Are the World…. #GivingBack

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” – Mother Teresa… This is a really great way to look at things. There are huge problems in the world – hunger, poverty, sickness and disease, lack of access to things like basic medical care, education, and clean water. Things that we totally take for granted here in the US. But most people feel like these issues are too big, too far away, too vast to do anything about. And it’s true – you can’t solve world hunger, bring about world peace, or cure all of the sick kids across the globe. But you can use the resources you have, no matter how big or small, to make a difference in someone’s life. Sure, you can’t fix it all – but to that one person that benefits from your generosity, what you do DOES matter.

1000 Shillings Jewelry gives back

“You may be only one person in this world, but to one person at one time, you are the world.” – Anonymous

One very simple way to help – that’s extra relevant during this season of shopping and gift giving! – is to direct your spending to places that use those proceeds to give back, help out, and do great things. A site that I’m especially excited about is 1000 Shillings. Why? Read more…

  • Empower: This isn’t a site that gives hand outs. That doesn’t solve the root problems of poverty, and can make the recipient feel  powerless. Nope, this is a campaign that EMPOWERS women! It gives them the opportunity to use the skills they have to create a product that can be marketed and sold, to bring their families out of poverty. A hand up, not a hand out.
  • Voice: When you’re struggling, what’s the most important thing to you? Being heard. Knowing that someone hears you, and cares what you’re going through. That’s why 1000 Shillings gives the artisans a voice, telling their story on the site, so you can get to know the women you’re supporting.
  • Educate: They don’t stop at simply making and selling their handmade pieces. The women are partnered with mentors – they help them build a sustainable business plan, or reach a goal like paying for school or purchasing land, using the seed capital from the products they create. This helps create more opportunity for everyone around them too.

Give a hand up, not a hand out!

Want to show your support?

Visit 1000 Shillings online, and check out all of the beautiful handcrafted, one-of-a-kind artwork available to purchase. Then share some love on their social media pages – “Like” them on Facebook, and share the page with your friends. Follow them on Twitter and tweet them a message of support! Connect with them on Pinterest and pin some of their gorgeous products. And visit them on YouTube, and subscribe to their channel for new updates. {I was the very first subscriber there – woo hoo!}

Together we can change the world, one good deed at a time.

For more ideas on doing good and giving back, visit Mom Bloggers for Social Good – which is who connected me to this great site, and follow my Giving Back board on Pinterest

Help fundraise for schools in need while shopping at The Ultimate Green Store.com!

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Could your baby have a deadly heart defect and not even know it?

Today is Newborn Heart Defect Screening Awareness Day… I’ve told you guys before about Abby’s birth – she was almost 3 weeks early, and had an incredibly rough delivery. That first day, we weren’t sure that she would make it through the night – but luckily, she pulled through, and quickly grew into a happy, healthy baby girl. But some kids aren’t quite as lucky…

Each year, thousands of babies go home from the hospital with undetected congenital heart defects, sometimes leading to future problems.

Learn how you can help – whether it’s keeping your own baby safe, or helping to spread the word to friends and family. About one in 100 babies are born with a congenital heart defect, but early screening can save lives.

Why should I get my newborn's heart screened?

Why should I get my baby screened? 

Well, as I mentioned, one out of every hundred new babies born each day are born with a defect in their heart. Congenital heart defect {CHD} is the most common birth defect in the US, but sometimes these defects can go undetected into adulthood. I know this first hand – My youngest brother, Brian, was born healthy as could be. As a toddler, he was a chunky but active little guy – no problems whatsoever. At about 6 years old, we switched to a new family doctor, one who would see both of my parents and all of us kids – my mom liked the idea of a doctor who knew all of us, and one that we could grow up with, and still continue to see as we got older. He was the first one to detect a very faint sound when listening to Brian’s heart, something that was probably fine – but he was a really thorough kind of guy, and sent us for further testing.

Those first tests came back normal.

We saw another doctor for a second opinion, who said there was nothing wrong, and to forget about it all. But my mom really trusted our new family doctor, and her mother’s intuition – so she agreed to his advice to have just a couple more tests done. It turns out, my little brother had been born with a defective aortic valve in his heart. It wasn’t causing him too many problems yet, but it was incredibly dangerous. The specialist that we saw said that it was the type of thing that is usually missed by doctors, and leads to a sudden death in a child – either as a baby, an energetic toddler or thriving kiddo, or even as a high school athlete who dies suddenly during a game. Scary stuff to hear as a big sister – Now as a mom, I can’t imagine how frightening this type of news would be.

November 30: Wear pink and do a random act of good.

One little girl that wasn’t as lucky as my brother was is Cora Mae McCormick

After she was born and later passed away in 2009, a new tradition was born as well. Her parents asked for people to wear pink on the 30th of every month and to do an act of good in Cora’s name. So to honor Newborn Heart Defect Awareness Day, pick out your favorite pink shirt, dress or socks or accessories – Together, we’ll wear pink for not only Cora, but for all of the babies born with undetected congenital heart defects.

Do a random act of kindness in their honor that day.

And there’s more you can do. Sign the Pledge to ask your baby’s doctor about screening for congenital heart defects. Share the pledge with other new mommas-to-be. And spread the word about this important screening test using the tweet button below – this test is done in the first 24 hours after a baby arrives, is painless and quick, and you can even hold your baby while they do it – so no separation anxiety for new moms. Learn more about the pulse oximetry test for newborn heart screening.

Let’s Chat: Did you know that this test isn’t standard at many hospitals, in many states? Have you ever heard of it, or had a child in your life with heart defects? Share your stories and your thoughts in the comments below…

{Disclaimer: Photo credit: SabianMaggy. I learned about this cause through Mom Bloggers for Social Good – an amazing group of women using their social media power to do great things and promote amazing organizations. I received no compensation, and all thoughts shared are my own.}

 

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How this Free Gift Helps You Show Gratitude During the Holidays

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy… Since today is Thanksgiving {and yes, I’m still working. *Sigh*} – I thought that this was a wonderful quote to wrap my mind around in. It’s important to not just use today to give lip service to those things we appreciate – but to truly live them, enjoy them, slow down to appreciate them. What I personally love most about Thanksgiving is that chance to slow down – as a work{aholic!}-at-home mom to a toddler, my days are filled with chaos. There is always one more chore to do, one more email to respond to, one more post to write, one more story to read, one more mess to clean up. But today is a time for me to shake all that off, and slow down enough to see all of those amazing blessings around me, and actually enjoy all that I have.

Show you're thankful [Read more…]

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Teaching My Toddler How to Give Back

‘Tis the season for giving back… We all know that it’s the little acts of kindess that count the most, right? Paying for the coffee order in line behind you, holding the door for a mom who’s arms are overloaded with packages, or just offering a compliment on the great service to an overwhelmed retail clerk. Here’s a random good deed I saw earlier today on Facebook, that I just love…

Random act of kindness after hurricane SandyI’m not sure who to give credit to for this photo – It was one that I came across on Facebook, with no credit given. But it’s just such an awesome example of doing something nice for others, with no expectations in return. Totally makes me smile. And it’s exactly the way I try to live my life – to do my best not to focus on what I don’t have, appreciate what I do have, and share as much as I can.

Teaching Toddlers to Give BackThis is my favorite face in the whole entire world – my little girl, Abby. Like most women, becoming a mother totally changed my life. And not just because I suddenly knew more about poop than I ever imagined, know the lyrics to every nursery rhyme song in existence, and have learned that yes, it IS possible for a human being to survive on only a few hours sleep for months at a time. No, she also made me want to be a better person. I want to be as amazing as she thinks I am. I want to work hard, so that I’m able to give her a great life full of awesome experiences. And I want to set a good example for her, and help her grow up to be a kind, compassionate, caring person who gives back to the world around her. Lofty goals, yes. But it’s what I work towards every day.

How to give back during cold and flu season - Free Kleenex care packsSince this is also cold and flu season, I want to share a very simple, totally free, but incredibly sweet way that you can give back to others – By joining the Softness Worth Sharing initiative. Here’s how it works:

Upon purchasing a Kleenex Brand Care Pack, you may redeem the code on the package at this site in order to send a care pack to someone special: http://www.kleenex.com/softness/.

So, after stocking up on Kleenex tissues for your family {or your kiddo’s school, if you donate supplies like we do} – you simply enter those promo codes online, and you can send this super helpful little care kit to someone in need of a smile. It comes with everything you see – a small box of Kleenex tissues, the adorably decorated travel pouch of tissues, a bottle of hand sanitizer, a little tin of Balsam soothing nose & lip balm, a free song download code, and a sweet note with coupons, that reads “Someone who cares about you has sent you this gift from Kleenex Brand, the softest tissue.” Wouldn’t that just make someone’s day?

Fall cold and flu seasonDuring the fall season, as the weather changes quickly to much colder days and nights – there are a LOT of times you’ll need Kleenex. We brought a mini pack with us last night while trick or treating, since Abby and I both tend to get runny noses when it’s cold out. {That’s her, walking her crab along with us last night to the neighbors house, lol.} And there are a lot of other things we love to do during the fall – from visiting the U-Pick farms to get the last of the local fall produce, to playing in the leaves at the park. So having tissue in our diaper day-bag is a must. Plus, with cold and flu season here, hand sanitizer is pretty important too! That means that these little Kleenex care packs are such a great gift to send – to your best friend, the kids’ favorite teachers, a neighbor – or that coworker who always seems to catch every office bug! We got an extra couple Care Kits, and I let the kids – Abby, and my nephews – help me choose who to give them to. The boys both wanted to bring one to their teachers, so that they won’t get sick, and if they do they’ll get well quicker. {They don’t like substitute teachers, lol.} Both teachers sent home notes in their backpacks, thanking us for such a thoughtful gesture! Love it, and it’s a nice lesson for the boys too.

To learn more, check them out on the Kleenex facebook page, or follow hashtag #KleenexCares on Twitter!

{Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in an ambassador program by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of the Kleenex brand and received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.}

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Here’s Your Chance to be a Superhero…

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James... Giving back to others in the world around me is something that I am very passionate about. Growing up in poverty, I know what it’s like to not have enough. Luckily, I grew up in the United States, where we have programs to help mothers who are raising children – programs that act as a safety net if you lose your job, someone gets sick, or an emergency happens. Children in countries around the world aren’t always so lucky.

Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it's inspiring.Especially after becoming a mother, the struggles that other families must go through, just to provide the most basic of essentials to survive – well, it just tugs at my heart in a whole new place. When I talk about charities that I support, I often get asked why I would want to send money to mothers and children in other countries, when we have starving kids right here in America. Here’s what I wish more people would realize – we THROW AWAY more food in this country than some other areas even have available at all. No children in America starve to death, unless they are a victim of abuse. Imagine it – You’re homeless, with not a penny to your name, and a baby to feed. You’ll visit a food bank, the Salvation Army, a soup kitchen. If your child was near death from lack of food – they’d be saved at a hospital, without you needing money up front.

Now imagine that there are no resources available.

That your neighbors have no food either. There are places in the world where children actually die from lack of food, water, or medicine. That is NOT something that a mother in this country, not matter how poor, will ever have to face. Which is why I support some wonderful charities here in my town that are a tremendous help to local families in need – but I also passionately support families across the globe who are in even more desperate need than I’ll ever be able to understand, living life here in the US.

WFP: World Food Programme in BoliviaI realize that not everyone feels that they have many resources to help when it comes to big issues such as poverty. But there are always ways that you can help – big or small. One amazing group that is working towards ensuring that children don’t go hungry is the World Food Programme. Currently, I’m working to support their program in Bolivia:

Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America: of its 9.5 million population, two thirds overall – 80 percent in rural areas – live below the poverty line.

This is a poor nation, where the majority of their income – and food – comes from agriculture. But frequent natural disasters make agriculture an unreliable source of income, leading to a serious amount of children growing up malnourished. The WFP is striving to get these children basic nutrition so that they can grow up healthier, so that they can go to school instead of working, so that they are fed enough to even be able to concentrate while in classes, and to enhance emergency preparedness and response capacity in their country, to minimize the impact of future disasters. These kids are the future of their country – the more we help them grow up strong and successful, the brighter the future for their families.

What can you do to help?

Get to know these kids! Watch the video below, click the graphic above, or visit them online – You can ask a question for the children in Bolivia that will be translated and delivered by Ximena, WFP’s Communications Officer there. Let them know you’re listening, you care, and that you want to help!

If you want to do more, there are so many resources on the World Food Programme’s website that you can check out, that make it truly simple for every single one of us to help out:

Make sure to take a minute to take some of these small actions – they might seem small to you, but they’ll have a huge impact on families who are in dire need of your help. As moms, we should do all that we can to help make sure that no other mother, anywhere in the world, has to watch her children go hungry…. So make sure to share this info with your friends and family too.

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.” – Marian Wright Edelman

 

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What is Your Happy Haven?

As most of you know, when I found out that I was going to be a mom, I started moving towards a cleaner, greener, lifestyle… I didn’t do this to be trendy. I didn’t do it to be cool. I did it, behind the scenes, imperfectly, to try and learn how to make changes that would keep us safer and healthier, without causing me to make totally drastic lifestyle changes. We’re still far from perfect, but I feel like we’ve moved miles away from the way we used to live! So, to help me along my way, I’m also always on the lookout for cool tools and resources that can help me make changes, without being extreme. A recent favorite of mine is HappyHavens.com. Learn why…

Happy Havens covers a wide array of topics from DIY and wellness to tips for saving money and going green. [Read more…]

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Teach Your Kids Kindness During Anti-Bullying Month

October is National Anti-Bullying Month… Did you know that American Justice Department bullying statistics show that one out of every 4 kids will be bullied sometime throughout their adolescence? As someone who was bullied for years and years as a kid, that’s a really sad statistic to read. And, it’s one of those problems that sometimes feels overwhelming – You think, “Well what can I do about it? My kid isn’t a bully…” But bullying isn’t just about the really dramatic, in your face type of meanness that happens. It’s also about the small things – Whispering about a classmates new dress behind her back. Not picking the new kid to play a game at recess, even though he’s sitting alone. Those little acts add up. And with the negativity and nastiness in so  much of the media – from trashy reality stars, to the sometimes equally-trashy anchors on cable news shows – it’s more important than ever that we constantly strive to set good examples, and teach our kids compassion and kindness.

Free Hugs - Anti-Bullying Month

Teaching Compassion to your kids [Read more…]

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