On Golf, Homelessness and Forever Homes

I am quite behind on my Do Good Summer Reading Challenge posts.  I could offer up an excuse about my kids being sick or my computer crashing, but in reality, I was simply enjoying my time with my family.   On Wednesday, my mom and I saw Once on Broadway.  Seeing a live performance is always fun, but this was made much more special because we know the little girl who played Ivanka. Thursday, we relaxed and played as a family.  Friday we jumped waves and floated on a lazy river at a water park.  The long holiday weekend culminated with fireworks on the Delaware River tonight.  It has been busy and this blog has been neglected, but I am going to make up for it in the next couple days.  Here’s a start:

 

Day 8: You may not know that I enjoy golfing.  My husband trained me to be his golf partner and it is one of our favorite things to do together.  I was out on the golf course when I was 5 1/2 months pregnant with Josie and I am pretty sure it was the best golf I ever played.  We don’t get to play nearly enough, but I envision us getting back to it now that we are done making babies.   So, today, when I encountered Now On The First Tee via the WordPress Reader, I was intrigued.  And then I read the post 5 months… which led me to the very first post This is Why.  What I found was a young man, passionate about the sport of golf who is dealing with the loss of his father.  This young man is following his dream of playing on the professional circuit and doing it not only for himself, but also for his father.  I am rooting for him.

Day 9:  Wow!  Talk about an inspiration!  The blogger I discovered today actually found me in two ways.  He followed my blog and he was also nominated for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Miss Happy Spirits.  To be honest, I am not really sure what took me so long to make my way over there.  Dennis Cardiff’s blog, Gotta Find A Home, is a tremendous example of how one person can make a difference.  By connecting with those who live on the street and sharing their stories via his blog, he humanizes them and calls attention to the plight of homeless individuals everywhere.   Through his blog, I am inspired to seek out ways to address homelessness in my region.  Project HOME is a well-known agency that provides an array of services to the Philadelphia homeless population.  According to their website, on any given day, it is estimated that there are 4,000 homeless people in the city.   Further, in 2005, the City’s Office of Emergency Shelter and Services served 14,986 homeless people through its emergency shelter system. Of this number, 9,468 were adults without children, 2,011 were heads of households, and 3,507 were children.  It is mind boggling to me that 3,500 children experienced homelessness in one year.   Project HOME is on my list of charities that need my help, be it financial or a gift of my time by volunteering.  If you are in the Philadelphia area and are interested in volunteering, Project HOME has an extensive list of opportunities.  At the very least, next time you encounter a homeless individual, be kind.  In the words of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”

English: A homeless man in New York with the A...

English: A homeless man in New York with the American flag in the background. Français : Un homme sans domicile fixe à New York. Un drapeau des États-Unis est visible en arrière plan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 10:  Today,  I walked down memory lane with Tric at My thoughts on a page. She wrote a beautiful post, The tales a house could tell, about revisiting her childhood home, the home in which her parents still live.  It is at once emotional, humorous and thought-provoking and I immediately felt a connection to it.   You see, my family (The Hubs and The Girls) moved in with my mom in August 2012, into the home in which I was raised from birth.  My husband and I are sleeping in the bedroom I inhabited from birth through high school graduation.  It no longer has the orange shag carpets of my nursery decor, or the mauve walls and pink carpet of my tween and teen years, thankfully.  But it does hold loads of memories, though many of them have faded and I am somewhat surprised by how many details I cannot remember.  I suppose that happens with time, but now I wish I had been better at keeping a journal or scrapbook of those years.  Now, I am making new memories in this “forever home” with my family by my side.  Where I used to see my brother’s room, I now see the girls’ room, the room in which Lily first climbed out of her crib and earned her toddler bed.   When I look outside, I see the driveway where Josie learned to ride her bike and the sidewalk where Lily got her first scraped knee.    Our time here is special.  It is full of memories and milestones and I know how lucky I am to be able to return to this home of my youth.  I hope someday to settle in a house that my children will be proud to visit as adults with their families, a home that will always be their “forever home.”

Chores, Comedy and Unfortunate Mishaps

A couple days ago I read a lovely post by Lori Leigh Wilson about lightening things up.  She shared some some great ways to inspire laughter, and in fact, I ended up spending an hour laughing that morning.   Lori introduced me to Kid Snippets and I had to share the one about Chores, given my trials and tribulations with establishing a chore system in our house.  Please, please, please stick with it until the end.  It is so worth it – I am talking bust a gut at the very end worth it!

Watching this, I was taken back to the time that Josie picked up a used tampon applicator at a park and said, “Look Mom!  A spyglass!”  After gagging back my vomit and forcing her to drop it, I doused her in Purell and properly disposed of the “spyglass.”

What is the grossest thing your child has ever picked up?

CFC Benefits the Kawasaki Disease Foundation in June

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June’s Chores For Charity dropped into my lap unexpectedly on May 30, 2013 via CrowdRise.

I was drawn into CrowdRise when my husband shared a fundraiser led by Sarah Chalke for the Kawasaki Disease Foundation.   When Josie was 18 months old, she came down with a fever, not such an odd occurrence in a child who was in daycare a couple days a week.  On the 4th day of the fever, the doctors began to become concerned and started her on high dose antibiotics that needed to be injected into her arm on two different occasions.  She had a chest x-ray to look for pneumonia – it was negative. The fever persisted. Then she needed blood testing – have you ever held a toddler down and allowed 4 huge vials of blood to be drawn from her tiny arm?  I have and it was one of the most awful experiences of my life.  The tests showed high white blood cell count, high sed rate, high platelet count – all of which are typical in patients with Kawasaki’s Disease,  a rare childhood condition that can lead to long term heart defects.  But, she only had one of the other symptoms, swollen lymph nodes.  Her tongue did not look like a strawberry, her eyes were not blood shot and she did not have peeling skin or rash.  She was admitted to the hospital on her 8th day 103+ degree fevers.  The doctors diagnosed her with Atypical Kawasaki Disease, though there was disagreement about the diagnosis since she lacked so many symptoms.  She was given IVIG treatment on the 9th day of fever and responded well to it.  She was without a fever for the first time in 10 days.   Her stay in the hospital was prolonged when she picked up another bug just prior to her release.  In total, she was in the hospital for 7 days and our health scare saga lasted over two weeks.

As a parent in this situation, it is heart-wrenching to watch your child suffer and be unable to help her.  The number of tests that our little girl underwent while they were trying to diagnose her is staggering.  She had multiple chest xrays, multiple blood draws, strep tests, catheterization to collect urine for a urinalysis, and a CT scan.  I, like Sarah Chalke, just wanted answers and each time the doctors suggested a possible ailment the tests came back negative.  The path to a Kawasaki Diagnosis (particularly with Atypical Kawasaki) is a process of elimination.  Your child’s pediatrician tests for anything and everything it can be, and if it is not that, than it is presumed to be Kawasaki’s and treatment is given.  It would be such an amazing gift for parents and children to have a diagnostic test for this mysterious ailment.    Please support this amazing opportunity to fund research on a prototype of a diagnostic test that could be 95% accurate.  Even better, The Gordon and Marilyn Macklin Foundation will the first $100,000 in donations.  Please consider donating in any amount that you can.  Josie and I will personally thank you.

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Of course, Josie will donate her Chores For Charity earnings in June.  Won’t you join her in helping to ensure that the path to a Kawasaki’s diagnosis is shorter and more concrete?  The Hubs and I already kicked off the fundraising effort – I’d love to raise at least $500 for this cause.  Can you help?

 

If you are looking for information on Kawasaki Disease, I recently found a tremendous resource page compiled by a fellow KD mom.  Please check out Desperately Seeking Kawasaki  for articles, personal stories and more.   You should also visit the Kawasaki Disease Foundation website for information about diagnosis and treatment of KD.

The Power of Thank You

SONY DSCIf you’ve been reading for a while, you know that Josie donated her Chores For Charity earnings in March to KaBoom!  Well, her mommy had a terrible case of Procrastinitis and finally sent in her donation a couple weeks ago.   Yesterday, the postman delivered a letter addressed to Josie and she could hardly control her excitement.  We read it together as a family and I have to say that she has been beaming with pride about it ever since!  She is so excited that she helped to make a playground and the Thank You Note addressed to her was the perfect reminder.  It will definitely go into her memory box.

Of course, Josie was excited to get mail.  But, I think the fact that it was a Thank You card addressed to her was meaningful and really made her day.  So, my friends, don’t underestimate the power of a thank you.  Go forth and spread gratitude, thanks and goodness!

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Do Gooder Kids Activities – Quick Reference Page!

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I’ve taken a hot second to compile some of my ideas into a more organized form and I’m really excited to debut my Do-Gooder Kids Activities page.   If you are looking for a quick reference guide for ways to help your children learn to live philanthropic, service-oriented lives, then this is your go-to guide!   I will continue to add ideas and encourage you to share your ideas in the comments section.  Click the link in this post or find it on the menu bar and let’s empower our kids to make a positive impact in their world!

Mother Earth is our Chores for Charity Beneficiary in May!

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brain (Photo credit: natalia love)

It’s May 9th and we have not even talked about this month’s Chores For Charity Beneficiary.  And that’s mainly because Josie and I have only talked very briefly about it.   We’ve been doing chores for the unnamed green charity.  In Josie’s words, “you know, mom, we should help the earth, like vacuum up all the trash and stuff. Hey! I have an idea.  Let’s take the Dustbuster on a walk [like we can put it on a leash like a dog] and we can vacuum up the trash.”   And then the conversation turns to her “rainbow brain,” her words not mine, and I begin to wonder what life in the Technicolor mind of Josie must be like.  Of course, this leads me to believe that my brain is utterly boring with all its gray matter and white matter.

English: The Nature Conservancy logo

English: The Nature Conservancy logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All that aside, we did decide to choose a conservation type charity and I confess that this is not an area of expertise for me, so I selected a big name charity for this month:  The Nature Conservancy.  Their mission is simply stated, but complex in practice:  To conserve the lands and water on which all life depends.   They are making a conservation impact in all 50 states and 35 countries around the world.   The Nature Conservancy is in the business of protecting habitats, from Rainforests to Coral Reefs to the Rivers and Lakes in which my kids discover frogs and toads.  I like this.  Every child should have the chance to let the mud squish between their toes as they walk along the banks of a lake or river in search of their next adventure.

Photo Credit: Flickr - (Hoyasmeg)

Photo Credit: Flickr – (Hoyasmeg)

Given my background in urban education, I LOVE that they have a conservation education initiative, complete with paid internships, in partnership with environmental high schools in urban centers in 9 states.  This program, called LEAP, opens doors for students who reside in cities with very few natural elements to become leaders in the nature conservancy movement.  Straight-up awesome!

Boardwalk on the Wolf River in the William B. ...

Boardwalk on the Wolf River in the William B. Clark, Sr., Nature Preserve (Nature Conservancy of Tennessee) in Rossville, Fayette County, Tennessee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So folks, as you saunter through the month of May, remember Josie’s commitment to “vacuuming up all the trash on Earth” and do your part to protect Mother Earth.  Put your trash in a trash can, recycle and, if you have some dollars to spare, support The Nature Conservancy.

 

What are your favorite environmental conservation charities?  I’m going to use this month to learn more about this topic and could use all the help I can get!

And The Total Is…

It’s the end of the month and like every other 3.5 year old on the planet, Josie has bookkeeping to do to prepare for the next month. And since she can’t afford to pay for an accountant, that means she has to count her earnings all by herself….

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Well done Josie!  You earned $18.50 for Operation Gratitude, despite your mother’s mismanagement of the chore program and your propensity for tantrums.  🙂

The flags flying at the Vietnam War Memorial

The flags flying at the Vietnam War Memorial

In all seriousness, we are so excited to give this money in support of care packages for members of the armed forces and their families.  Did you know that May is Military Appreciation Month?  It is the perfect time for you to show your appreciation for the folks that keep us safe and their families who stand strong at home when their loved ones are deployed.  If you are reading this and you have not checked out Operation Gratitude yet, leave this blog and go there NOW!  You can help them achieve their March to a Million goal by donating money or products or even your time.   Show your support for our military – they deserve it.   Oh, and just another reminder, click HERE to visit their blog and click HERE to visit their website.

We will be adding a few dollars to Josie’s earnings so that she can send The Corpsman care package. And, since Beanie Babies are in high demand, we will be culling through our small stuffed animals to find some to send along too!

Please join us in supporting our troops!