From Fires to Hurricanes: How to Give

It seems there has been no shortage of devastating disasters hitting our nation recently.

Yesterday the house of some good friends of ours living in the U.S. Virgin Islands was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. They are doing OK, but it really got me looking at options for doing what little I can to help.

If you’re like me, you want to know the money you give is being used responsibly and to go to the cause for which you designated it. I don’t want to donate to fire victims so the CEO of a non-profit can install a new pool at his home. Still, I realize there are some major costs associated with operating a non-profit. Advertising alone can cost a pretty penny and is critical to effective non-profit campaigns.

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(Image from newyorktimes.com)

When doing your research, look at a non-profit’s Cost of Impact, essentially their ROI. There are some unbiased websites out there that rank the effectiveness of non-profits. GuideStar is one of the most robust and is easy to use.

The American Red Cross receives a platinum GuideStar rating and makes it simple to give anything from $10 to $1,000 online.

The United Way is a good option because  you can designate a specific community to which you want to donate. Having spent a brief period of time in the non-profit fundraising sector, I can tell you The United Way does not spend dollars willy nilly. There is careful consideration taken in regards to financial stewardship.

As annoying as it is to be asked in the store checkout lane if you “want to donate a dollar to (insert charity name here),” what’s the harm in adding an extra dollar to your bill when you’re swiping your card? Some chains like Target and Walgreens give 100% of those donations to the cause for which they’re collecting at that time.

So I understand there is some skepticism surrounding charitable giving, but I hope that won’t stop you completely from helping when and where you can. There are still a lot of good people and organizations out there doing great things. Do something.

If you can’t give financially, considering donating blood or giving your time. The American Red Cross also offers tools to search for blood drives and volunteer opportunities.

If you have other ideas for the most effective ways to help out our fellow man (and woman and child) please comment here.

He Was Here First

Do you ever wish your husband would look at you the way he did when you first started dating? Guess what. He probably wishes the same thing sometimes. Instead, he often gets that look you give him when you’re trying to load the dishwasher and he’s standing in the way looking at ESPN on his phone. Do you know that look?

But we’re pulled in a lot of directions. We are distracted by work obligations, raising kids, volunteering, maintaining friendships, and household tasks. Sometimes making time for one more person is just too much. I’m so guilty of putting the hubby on the back-burner. Most of the time he is not getting the kindest, most patient version me. I spend all day trying to be as courteous as possible to everyone else I encounter, then snap at him when I see an innocent pair of dirty socks on the bedroom floor.

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(Photo by Alyssa Crawford Photography)

We know children benefit from observing their parents having positive relationships with their spouse, friends, and family. Still, when we’re taxed and tired, it’s easy to use up all our kindness on everyone but the guy who had all our attention on a second date at a mini golf course many years ago.

We can’t wave a magic wand and create more free time, but what we can do is be more aware of our priorities. Our husbands should be one of them. Weekly date nights aren’t as possible as they were before kiddos, but carving out a few minutes of one-on-one time usually is. Take a minute to appreciate him. Ask him about his day, and actually listen.

I’m trying my best to take this advice because I love this guy so much, and after all, he was here first.

 

When’s The Babysitters Club Opening in My Town?

Ready to feel old? Today in 1986 Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club was first published. If you’re like me, your bookshelf contained several of these iconic novels, which tell the tales of Kristy, Mary Anne, Dawn, Stacey, Claudia, Jessi, and Mallory, seven friends running a club of highly qualified babysitters, just chomping at the bit to watch the children of Stoneybrook, and for a reasonable fee!

Each of the club members had a specific personality. I identified as a Claudia because I liked doing art projects, but was Kristy during softball season, except that she was good at softball. Although, looking back I was really more of a Mary Anne. Jessi was really the most level-headed of the group, but Mallory was super responsible (the oldest of eight kids.) Dawn was the health-food nut and Stacey was the sophisticated city girl with diabetes.

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Now that I’m a mom of two little ones and have a husband I still enjoy dating, I wish Kristy and her pals existed in my town. How amazing would it be to call one number (Claudia’s private line if you’re a fellow BSC enthusiast) and reach all these babysitters? We are fortunate to have a couple of fantastic young women in town that we occasionally hire to watch the girls so we can go to dinner or a play, so I’m not complaining, but I think most moms and former BSC readers would be dialing that number frequently if we lived in Stoneybrook, Connecticut circa 1986.

 

 

Three!

It really does feel like it was just a few weeks ago that we were celebrating my oldest daughter’s first birthday and second birthday. How can it be that this past weekend we celebrated her turning three?

Amelia is three cake

Her pals from daycare, cousins, and some other friends showed up to celebrate, and my mom made these adorable Elsa and Anna cakes.

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I might say this about every age, but three is my favorite so far.

Amelia is three

She has her “threenager” moments of course, but overall she is a kind, sweet, inquisitive little girl. She continues to amaze us and make us laugh every day.

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The Blue Tub

Something about the blue tub seemed to offer a glimpse of the future. We were planning our wedding and house-hunting. I fell in love with the quirky character of the 1940s cottage. The archways, the brick fireplace, and the original hardwood floors felt so inviting. I could imagine bathing our future babies in the blue metal tub, original to the home. The babies would be boys so blue would be appropriate.

It is hard to believe four years have gone by and now I bathe our baby girls in this blue tub. I don’t know why I had always thought if I had children they would be boys, but I had that feeling often growing up. I’m not a tomboy. I love being a girl and doing girl things. Still, I imagined mothering boys. But it’s true that God knows what is best for us.

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Having girls is amazing. They are kind, sweet, emotional, and head-strong. They make our lives better every day. The blue tub is a piece of our home’s character that I would never want to change. It serves as a reminder that life doesn’t always turn out exactly as we think it will. Sometimes it turns out so much better.

 

In My House: Noodle & Boo

I had never heard of Noodle & Boo when I received some of their products as a baby gift. I was instantly hooked on the delicately fresh scent.

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I have been using the lotion and baby hair and body wash on both my newborn and my toddler. I have also used the products myself a few times and love them. Noodle & Boo also has a line of products for pregnant women. Several of their items come perfectly packaged in adorable boxes like the set I received did.

Noodle & Boo’s web site says the company is “Where nature and science come together in perfect harmony to create world-class products that are both safe and effective for every newborn, child and “mama-to-be.”

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Their packaging is recyclable and products are nontoxic, biodegradable, and developed with sustainable, plant-based ingredients.

I loved receiving Noodle & Boo as a gift and will be ordering more when my supply runs out.

I received no compensation for writing this post, I simply enjoy sharing products I love.

Happy Fourth of July Weekend

The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love the togetherness with family and friends without the pressure of buying gifts, complicated meal preparation, and travel plans ruined by blizzards.

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I will admit fireworks paired with dry weather make me a bit nervous. I grew up on a ranch where grass fires and spooked cattle could be the result of firework play. I love that so many small communities put on public firework displays often with the local fire department helping. Fun and safe? Sign me up. Now if I can keep my pyro husband away from the fireworks stands…

This year I am cherishing the holiday even more because it marks my last few days before returning to work after maternity leave. I plan to soak up every single moment with my girls (in their matching outfits because I can) and husband. Happy Fourth of July!