Monday, May 23, 2016

Raising Awareness for Child-Sex Trafficking with Go Jane Give

Six weeks ago I sat on a train bound for the city alongside my sister.

I stared out the window, lost in my thoughts. I turned to her, "I can't stop thinking about all the suffering. The pain. The needs. Do you realize children as young as four are being sold for sex? Some are sold by their own parents. But what can I do?"

I had just recently listened to a podcast (episode 24) about a family that up and moved to Cambodia to help prevent child sex trafficking. I so admired their efforts and contribution.

I continued, "I should be doing something. I can't just sit in my comfortable home in the suburbs, running kids here and there and continue ignoring the needs of so many. But it's so overwhelming. I have no idea where to start."  

A couple of weeks later, on a Friday morning, I posted this after visiting a friend of mine in the assisted living center in which she resides:  

"Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the needs in the world and I feel heavy with burden wondering what I can do to make a difference. I especially worry about the mistreatment of women and children.  I am trying to recognize the good I can do in my own community and the light that can be given to those around me who are suffering. I may not be able to rescue on a large scale (right now) but I can offer some relief that matters to one."

Hours after that post, I sat at my computer and came across Go Jane Give and I marveled at the timing.

Go Jane Give is a new and amazing platform for lifestyle giving that inspires women to use their talents, interests, and everyday tasks to raise money for causes that are near and dear to them.  You'll find women donating photo shoots, homemade baby food, baked goods, lessons, or even hours of silence in exchange for donations and to raise awareness. 

I didn't even finish reading the blog post about Go Jane Give, before I clicked over and started my own fundraiser.  (I really should have thought through my fundraiser a bit further, but I was soooooo excited to have found a way to be able to help!)

I chose to raise awareness and funds for Prajwala:

"20 million women and children are trafficked and tortured every year in the sex trade. Prajwala, an internationally recognized nonprofit, has rescued and rehabilitated over 15,600 survivors of sex trafficking and prevented more than 8,000 others from entering the sex trade. When you support Prajwala, you provide educational opportunities, housing, vocational support and recovery tools for sex trade survivors. You also help prevent children from being sold into sex slavery in the most hard-hit areas of India."

I offered fresh-baked bread to anyone who donated $15 or more and two hours of decluttering and organizational services to anyone who donated $50 or more.

Because of incredible friends and family (and a couple of strangers), the $500 goal was met three days later.

I am still offering fresh bread to anyone who makes a $15 donation (if you live in my area.)  You can find my Go Jane Give fundraiser HERE.

And an article about my experience HERE.  

What an incredible thing Go Jane Give has provided, to be able to offer direct support and relief from our own little corner of the world!

"Helping is helping even when it feels like a drop in the ocean."

Monday, March 14, 2016

Celebrating Easter and Holy Week

We began celebrating Holy Week along with Easter several years ago and oh how we love it!  This year we're a bit behind as we haven't planted our resurrection garden yet.  I had great plans of doing it last night, but as we got going I realized we used the rest of the grass seed to fill in a gap in the yard last year.  Hopefully we can get the ball rolling and get to it tonight. 

If you're interested, you can click HERE for the day-by-day outline of our Christ Centered Easter and Holy Week from rice krispy tombs, to Palm Sunday, reading scriptures by candlelight, flat bread recipe, an Easter Tree printable and more.

Here's what our Easter Tree looked like at the end of the week.  There are two pages of images you can print, cut, punch, and hang.  Each image depicts what happened that day of Christ's last week.  The full outline includes scripture verses, videos, activities and ideas for each day of Holy Week.



Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Fifth Birthday

Last night I tucked my sweet, little boy in bed for the final time, as a four year old.  I told him he couldn't turn 5.  I begged him not to.  He said, "I have to do it.  It's the ways Jesus made me." 

He's been so anxious for this day and was careful to put a bold square around his big day on the calendar he has hanging at his bedside.

We woke him up with our beautiful rendition of "Happy Birthday." Ha!  Then we all climbed into our bed and opened presents (a scalp massager, ABC Spot It!, and a soccer ball--we're pretty simple around here.)  He is such a great receiver and we got to playing ABC Spot It right away and played a few rounds before it was time for all of us to get up and going.  I think he may love the scalp massager more than anything (I've been enjoying it too!) 

Later in the afternoon, we whipped up some cupcakes.  

And while we did that, Tigerlily did this: 

She was not one bit pleased that she wasn't front and center of the baking process.  

Hawk had a friend come over to play for a few hours.  Here he is showing the drawing his friend drew for him.  So cute. 

No birthday is complete without costumes! 

Hawk chose the same birthday dinner he chose last year: nachos.  

During dinner we all took turns telling something we love about Hawk.  I loved hearing the heartfelt and thoughtful comments from the kids.   

We wrapped up the day with a bedtime story, "Happy Birthday To You!" by Dr. Seuss. 

5 things about this birthday boy:

1.  He tells me randomly and often he loves me.  He may be playing across the room and he'll shout, "I love you, mom."   (I don't ever want to forget this.)

2.  He is a good friend.  He doesn't leave people out and he plays nicely.  I don't think he's got a mean bone in his body. 

3. I love how he tries to teach his baby sister good things.  He wants her to say "please" and "thank you" and he's so good at helping her. 

4.  His imagination is so fun to see in action.  His head is chock-full of interesting things.  

5.  He loves boiled eggs, yogurt, and cooking his own egg sandwiches, and he's become obsessed with soccer. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Best Reads of 2015

In 2015 I had one goal.  Well, I had one goal and one wish.  My wish was to lose ten pounds, but instead I gained twenty.  But I don't really want to talk about that.  Let's talk about books instead.

My one real goal was to read 52 books in 52 weeks. I tracked my reading all year long to make sure I kept up.  (LOVE Goodreads!) Even though I've never read this much in one year previously, it really wasn't hard because I kept at it week after week and little by little book 2 turned into book 22, and in week 47, I finished number 52.  (And I had a little help from listening to two of them on cd, instead of actually reading them.)

Here are my favorites.

Best in Family Read-Aloud

I love reading to my kids.  I mean really, truly love it.  You know how some moms are so awesome at doing crafts with their kids and some are amazing at feeding their kiddos 100% organically because they love it and are naturally good at it?  That's how I am with reading.  Snuggling those kids up in my lap and reading to them comes naturally (crafting--not so much, darn it!) and just feels so right.

The Winner:
Caddie Woodlawn is hands down my favorite book I've ever read to my children.  I will forever remember the sweet, golden moments we had as we read about Caddie and the looks of wonder in my children's eyes as they gazed at my teary eyes and wet cheeks. 

Other favorites:  
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
The Twenty One Balloons by Willam Pene du Bois
The Story of the World Volume 1 by Susan Bauer Wise

Best in Fiction

The Winner:
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
The Boston Girl is the story of a young girl coming of age in Boston in the 1920's. Each chapter is a short story about Addie Baum and is told as an 85 year old woman to her granddaughter.  The characters are strong, the stories interesting, sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes light. 

Other favorites:
Still Alice by Lisa Genova (Foul Language Warning)
Wonder by R.J. Palacio 
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Best in Non Fiction 

The Winner:
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
This book rocked my world and you should read it.  That's all.

Other favorites
Beautiful by Katie Piper
127 Hours by Aron Ralston
My Story by Elizabeth Smart
American Wife by Taya Kyle
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Best in Parenting 

The Winner:
For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
I've read this twice I loved it so much and have recommended it to anyone who will listen to me.  I've gotten numerous texts from friends as they are reading it to tell me about how much they were enjoying it too.  It's not really a parenting book, but kinda sorta is.  It's like my new bible.  I laughed so hard I cried and then I cried because my heart had been so deeply touched.  

Other favorites:
Smart Money Smart Kids by Rachel Cruze and Dave Ramsey
Real Moms: Making It Up As We Go by Lisa Valentine Clark (Written for an LDS audience.)

Here's to another year of great stories and learning. 

And....Easter is just around the bend!  (Can you believe it?)  Click HERE for an outline of Holy Week Activities and a free Easter Tree Printable. 


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Homeschool to Public School: 90 Days Later

Yesterday was the 90th day of school.

That means we've reached the halfway point.


I thought it would be fun to do something a little silly to celebrate this milestone, so I cut breakfast in half.  Half a plate, half a cup, half an egg, pancake, and orange, and half a napkin.  The kids sure got a kick out of it.  It took me all of 30 seconds and I think it is something they will long remember!

For me, these last 90 days have gone rather quickly.  One of the boys agrees and one not so much.  (Six hours is so looooooong, Mom.)  :)  Love that boy.

I knew this was the right decision for our family.  I wrote more about that (back here) when my heart was ripping out and I had so many worries and concerns.  But those boys have done marvelously.  They've had (mostly) good attitudes and positive experiences.  The frustrations have been few and far between and I'm happy and grateful for the experiences they've had.  I've been delighted at many of the crafts and activities they've done and have found myself complimenting their teachers repeatedly for their positive efforts and ideas.  

Here's what half a year of 2nd grade looks like.  Bud looks through this folder every once in awhile and he loves to show his papers to his dad.   I had grand plans to have him cull it a bit over Christmas break.  That definitely didn't happen. 

And he LOVES hanging each new craft and creative writing assignment on his wall.  (I keep thinking we need to revisit our morning routine because I've noticed a lot of unmade beds lately! Ha!)

All ready for their Halloween parties.  

I chose to skip the costume parade (massive crowd + toddler + no parking = I'll pass) and instead volunteered in both of their classes for their parties.  Hawk and Tigerlily happily joined in and Mowgli and Bud loved showing them off to their classmates. 

We've been fairly consistent with an after school snack and chat.  The boys know they need to be prepared with at least three things to tell me about their day.  Sometimes I have to follow up with more probing questions like asking them to tell me something funny, or sad, or silly, or interesting.  

 Mowgli became "bathroom certified" and cleans the kids' bathroom each Saturday.  

One afternoon, I sneaked them on out for a field trip to the Natural History Museum where we got to dissect an owl pellet.  (So cool!)  

Mowgli's tried to keep up on scouts, and he's still doing a pretty darn good job, but I've noticed it getting pushed aside for other things. 

Homework in the van has happened a time or two.  

Mowgli decided to run for student government and won!  We celebrated with ice cream.  

Hawk and Tigerlily have enjoyed their "schooling."  We don't have a set schedule, but whenever it works out, they get their backpacks on and walk around the basketball hoop in the driveway and come back and knock on the door--I welcome them to preschool.  They sure get a kick out of it and really act like I'm their teacher.  At the end, they "walk home" and come tell me all about it.  Oh boy, it cracks me up every time.  This is nothing formal or even well thought-out or planned, it just happens. 

We began doing piano lessons every other week, which is seriously dreamy and I don't think we'll ever go back to weekly music lessons.  It's been perfect for us.    

When fall break came around, I loaded the kids on up and headed for the mountains of Wyoming.  Here we are by the Tetons in Grand Teton National Park.  

And we threw in a stop to The National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 

 There was also that day we played hooky and ended up here.  (More days like this to come!)

Bud did a report on his culture and identity and was proud to have his dad join him for his presentation.  They did a Samoan slap dance together and showed some artifacts.  Those kids drank it up and even some of the staff and assistant principal came, once they caught wind of what was going on.  

I look forward to every other Wednesday when I spend 1 hour in Bud's classroom. (And we always take a selfie.) Some weeks I hang out for recess and play a game with he and his friends and some weeks I just stand back and enjoy watching them from a distance.   

All of the 4th graders did a super cool project on Utah counties.  They were each assigned a county that they researched and built a "parade float."  Mowgli was excited to get San Juan County and he sure loved that project!

Then the students had a parade where parents and students could walk through and see all the floats.  

We still try to make sure we have plenty of time to read together.  We've done 3 read alouds this year: James & The Giant Peach, The BFG, and A Christmas Carol.  We are currently reading The One and Only Ivan

We still try to enjoy the arts in ways we did before.  Here we are at James and the Giant Peach in live theater.  We also went to A Christmas Carol. 

Our first time at parent/teacher conferences.  (Don't ask me why my eye looks to be melting into my face.)

We still make an effort to spend time nourishing our souls in nature.  

About 6 weeks ago, one of the boys asked about homeschooling next year.  Truth be told, I was a little surprised.  They've been so positive, I began to wonder if they may want to continue on this path for another year or two (which really caused mixed emotions for me).  They've since brought it up a few more times and one of the boys is fairly (very) confident he wants to be home next year.  The other vacillates.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months.

Two things I've learned:
1.  Scary, new adventures can be really good. 
2.  Seasons change and so do we.  And as we change, our circumstances, lifestyle, and choices may need a little tweaking too.

Well, my time is up.  The boys will be home shortly and Tigerlily is beginning to stir from her afternoon nap. 

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