Checking it twice….stoves!

Its’ the feast of St. Nicholas!
And, as I’m working on my own elfin to do list, in the spirit of the real St Nicholas, I want to put this on the top of our Christmas list.  The real St Nicholas was known to throw small bags of gold over the walls of some of the poor in his village; not the standard help mode of the time….

A citizen of Patara had lost all his money, and had moreover to support three daughters who could not find husbands because of their poverty; so the wretched man was going to give them over to prostitution. This came to the ears of Nicholas, who thereupon took a bag of gold and, under cover of darkness threw it in at the open window of the man’s house. Here was a dowry for the eldest girl and she was soon duly married. At intervals Nicholas did the same for the second and third; at the lasttime the father was on the watch, recognized his benefactor and overwhelmed him with his gratitude

So, in light of the spirit behind that…by which I mean, doing what works to help families – because we all need it from time to time….I offer this.  This is what I want for Christmas.  I want a new stove.  I don’t want the biggest Viking house beautiful stove or cooktop. I want this stove.  Because it will be a way to make a home more beautiful, and a family do better, this Christmas.  Go, see.  Put a stove on your list!  Put ten!  This present will last longer, taste better, and bring more joy than any other gizmo that is topping the charts.  Step into the spirit of Father Christmas today…..
The Adventure Project Holiday Stove Campaign from The Adventure Project on Vimeo.
All I want for Christmas is…a stove or two or ten!”  
Think about THAT as you’re warming up your cocoa! “

Stitched together

See this quilt? Right there?  Well, it’s mine! Yup! And, out of a spirit of decorum I will not whoop, too loudly, so as not to make you all feel bad.

But, I want to say…it’s gorgeous, beautiful and wonderful.  You see, I won this quilt through the silent auction hosted by JC Marie for the Kololo School through the Tesfa Foundation.  I had little  hope of winning, after seeing how beautiful the quilt was…and yet, with the help of a good proxy bidder and friend, I did and now it is already well used in my room.

The artist is an adoptive mom herself, Andrea Fox, and let me say, this quilt is just lovely.  It’s fabrics were carefully selected and designed (by another adoptive mom of a Haitian child), it is colorful and charming, it is beautifully crafted, and the back is soft as butter in sky blue. Even the note she sent with it was made from handmade paper…loveliness abounding.

The quilt is wrapable art and it is just what the best quilts are all about: connections and community.  And that is just why I’m so smitten by it.  This quilt is a soft touchable connection for me and my kids to other families like ours, across the continent and even across the ocean.  We are sort of stitched together, even in this quilt, by our love for our kids and their home country and our love of books and yearning to get access to more books and schools for kids.

Some might scoff and say I make too much of this.  I disagree.  Those connections, those stitches, are so important for us moms, our families, and especially for our kids from afar.  All those stitches sew hearts and minds together in support of things that are bigger than our doddering, pottering or crashing days.  And when my cherished little Ethiopian boy pads into my room, snuffling and sleepy-eyed, I can wrap him up in this quilt and know that he is embraced not only by me, but, in a way, by so many other hearts….connected by stitches of caring for these, our children of the world.

For any brave souls , look for the tiny “comment” below.

>One to One: barefoot

>So today is a day to go barefoot….not only because we all prefer it when it’s warm (c’mon, you know you do)…but because it can  help a good cause:

Today is the day that TOMS, the cool shoe company and one of my personal favs, has a push for awareness about the need for shoes, worldwide.  Go to their site, go see, watch below.

Now, once in a blue moon folks ask me to post a pitch for their products (I know, imagine! Me, who’da thunk it?).  And I almost never do it.  Because really, I’m not anyone that folks ask for opinions or reviews.  And so, I offer them freely, on the things I USE, HAVE, or THINK about.  And only those things.

But these shoes are one of those.
I love TOMS!
I have a number of pairs, which makes my husband kind of crazy.  He of the fashion challenged maleness doesn’t understand the style differences and needs between pairs.
But they are the shoes that make me happy: because they are so cute, because they are so comfy, and most of all because they get a kid who needs shoes a pair.  So, they are worth it.
Kids, shoes….c’mon it’s a mom template.  

So think about it.  Think about your feet.  I have very cranky feet and I utterly appreciate good shoes. 
Everyone deserves a pair of shoes, at the very least.  Everyone.

Moms always want kids to put on their shoes.
Now you can help with that.
Wiggle your toes.
Feel your feetThen, go buy a shoe, give a kid a shoe. 
One to One.

>Unshaken: Look again

>It’s World Water Day.
And it’s still lent.

Which means, as we are traveling through the far side of the desert and are feeling all “parched”…this day and what it means, in real tangible, corporeal life, is oh so apropos.
It’s World Water Day.
People are Thirsty.
Not only for renewal of their heart and soul…but truly, literally, thirsty for clean safe water.
I really like this charity. They do good work, and thus, I want to show you this, today.

Please watch, open your hearts, it’s Lent.  We are called to care.  We are called to give alms…and what better way than to provide safe water where we can.  That is what lent is all about.
Look, again.  Haiti needs us.  Look, they are thirsty. Help.
Unshaken – charity: water’s campaign for Haiti from charity: water on Vimeo.
Lent is waning, Easter beckons…..

>Roll on up!

>Ok, I don’t usually do this, but I am taking a break from my usual blather to point you in the direction of a happy fun worthwhile thing.  This is a win-win deal all the way around and so, I’m gonna do you a big favor and shout it out. 

You see, one of my friends, the amazing Adrienne Parks (and another post will have to do her and her program justice, this one is focused), is doing a fundraiser for her adoption from Bulgaria.  Now, I know, I know, we are all fundraising weary.  It’s a weary time of year: the winter blues, seasonal affective disorder, spring fever, Haiti needs, and so on.  

However, do yourself a favor and head over to her blog and check out her stuff.  Because after much pestering persuading by myself and surely others, she has expanded her stock. 

So, what is it?


What do I mean? Well I mean the cutest rollups for crayons or pencils or markers that you could imagine.  I know from personal experience.  I ordered a few, both boy and girl versions, of the crayon ones and liked them so much that I started nagging politely requesting her for the marker or pencil versions and for bigger/older kids.
  And now they’ve got ’em!

They really are very cute, and well made.  They have cute fabrics for girls and cute (read boyish, cars etc) fabrics for boys.  They stay closed well with a nice springy band/button latch and they DO stay secure.  They are perfect for backpacks and cars and travel.  I’m thinking spring and summer travel coming up: a great option for those hard to corral pencils and crayons and pens.  Fun, clever and well made.  Now I know  you can get these here and there online or now and then in one of the stores, but honestly, these are by far the nicest I’ve seen and they are for a great cause: bringing home a particular little girl who is waiting in Bulgaria for the process to clear. 

So it’s money for a good family, and a good cause, and you get a useful cool tool.  It might even be add a bit of sunshine to the winter blahs……What’s not to love?

I’m going to go order more for big kids now.  Go, check it out and tell Adrienne I sent you and said hello!

>On Haiti


Photo by Reuters/Jorge Silva, courtesy
We are all – in our homes, across the blogosphere, around the world – praying and watching and agonizing over Haiti and the incomprehensible anguish there.  
It weighs down our hearts and minds.  So little, it seems to be done.
However, for what it’s worth, here is a great organization:  
They are on the ground in Haiti, intact.  They have had offices there for a long time and have a history of great work, around the world, but even more pertinent now, in Haiti.  
Their offices are intact.  They are there, front lines, now.

 CRS staff load a truck with meals-ready-to eat for medical staff 
at St. Francois de Sales hospital on Friday, January 15. 
The hospital is supported by CRS’ AidsRelief program. Photo by Lane Hartill/CRS

[First responders, working NOW, reputable, well respected, well managed organization.  The money doesn’t go to administration costs, it goes to NEED.]

You can trust that the donation (any amount helps) will be put to the best of use by the folks who are there and know the needs and how to make it happen.
Every little bit is needed.

Another way to help is, of course, to pray. I firmly and deeply believe, I know, it makes a difference.  We are connected.  Prayer helps, in ways we cannot fathom.

So, if you have a mind towards it, please keep Haiti in your prayers.
From our Pope Benedict:

I would now like to make an appeal regarding the dramatic situation in Haiti. My thoughts go out in particular to the people severely afflicted, just a few hours ago, by a devastating earthquake that has caused massive loss of human life, left a great number of people homeless, and left widespread tremendous material devastation. I invite everyone to unite themselves to my prayer to the Lord for the victims of this catastrophe and for those who mourn the dead. Be assured of my spiritual closeness to those who have lost their homes and to all people suffering in any way from this grave calamity, as I ask God to grant them consolation and relief amidst their suffering. I call upon the generosity of all so that our brothers and sisters living in this time of need and pain may not lack our concrete solidarity and the effective support of the International Community. The Catholic Church will not fail to take immediate action through her charitable institutions to meet the most pressing needs of the people.” — Pope Benedict XV 
{h/t to Curt Jester
Go, HERE, to read the Zenit article/interview with Cardinal Cores on the Haiti Crisis.
All Eyes on Haiti.”  A thoughtful interview, good information and things to think about as well.

>Real kids. On their own.


What happens to them?
I mean, what happens to them if they don’t have a family?
If they don’t have a home?
A bedroom?
A safe place to be?
Enough food, enough care?
Someone to watch over them, to give them grief, to tell them “good job”, or “nice try”, or “hey, no attitude!”?
What if no one is there to say “It’s gonna be ok”, and really mean it.
What if they are cold or hungry or sick or scared.
What if they are alone?

Grim huh?
Well, its real.
Its real here in the states.
Its even more real, to an unfathomable level, around the world.
Real kids.
The “lucky” ones are in an orphanage or foster care.
But they are not really lucky at all.
Because they don’t have a family, or a home, or anyone who really cares about them, every day.
And that temporary haven, of sorts, that orphanage or foster home, it’s gonna end.
The time there is limited.
And then these kids, and even as older teens, they are still kids, with the same needs and wants of any teen kids….they are sent out.
They are sent out.
To a bleak future.
Tough to get a job when jobs aren’t available, you have no connections, no transportation, no proper clothes, not enough food, and not enough or any school.
Tough to find a place to stay when you have a tiny pocket of money to “get you started.”
That money can’t even rent a place to stay for a few months, if you could find one.
That money can’t get you in school, or help you find a job.
That money runs out.
Then the future becomes Grim.
It is all too easy to have that future include drugs, assault, living on the streets, prostitution, begging, illness, hunger, desperation.

And these are kids.
And these are our kids.
This was MY kid.

So this topic is close to home for me.
Too close.
It hurts to know that so many of these kids have such a bleak future.
That is not an overstatement.
Bleak. Grim. Future.
They have little to no future, in fact.
This could have been my girl.
She did get lucky.
We got lucky.
I’m not posting this to say that everyone should adopt older kids.
It’s very hard.
It’s very different from adopting a small one.
Oh, its worth it.
But there are other ways to reach out as well.

I want everyone to SEE these kids.
I want everyone to know that these are real kids, who like jokes, ice cream, hugs, a warm shower and bed.
These kids deserve a chance, any chance.
All of these kids can use a hand.
This new initiative by Gladney, “On Their Own,” is for these kids.
For our kids, these forgotten ones.
As they age out, we can help them have a bit of hope.
We can help provide some of the tools they can use to get started, safely.
To find their footing, to know that even now, someone cares.
On their own.
Donate what you can, if you can.
Buy the bracelet above, the proceeds donate, the exposure helps.
You can help them step out on their own and step past the grim, maybe.
You can help them step over into hope.
You can change a life, just by caring a little.
You can change your life, just by caring a little, for these real kids – about to be on their own.

>Look closer


These are the faces of the littlest ones. Not necessarily the youngest, I mean, the littlest.

These are the ones it’s so easy to pass over and look beyond. But these are our children too. We are so bombarded with causes and pictures that it’s easy to get overwhelmed, desensitized, numb.

But look at these faces. Really, look at them. These are kids. They are orphans. They lost their moms and or dads to AIDS.

See them with your heart and soul. Do something, even if only to give them the dignity and humanity to really SEE them, and say a prayer for them, donate, reach out.
They are just kids…our kids….who have a future, or should.

>Keep it Simple: Charity:Water

Because I am a techno-simpleton, I cannot get this video link to work without totally wonking up my page layout or something weird. So, go to the source to see it. It’s worth the look!

Now, I know, I hope you all are seeing this around the web. But I am a little slow and I just found it. Thanks Lori!

And I don’t do politics, and I don’t usually even do charitable plugs. I think most of us do the most we can and are very able to determine where and how we can contribute, on our own.

But, well, this one is worth it. This one is about the basics. No political agenda. No mixed up, muddied up involvement . Simple. Basics. Rock bottom fundamental human dignity. What every living soul is entitled to. Period.

My son, my Buddybug, was born in September. So, I love this even more. And this year they are in Ethiopia, which of course also holds such a special place in my heart. Go, look, see, donate, open eyes, hearts, wallets.

We all deserve the basics. It really is that simple.