Random Acts of Kindness – How We Share and Give Back

The holiday season approaches and may encourage some households to make their annual donations to their respective charities. It may include cash, food or items they no longer need. We used to just think about giving back and sharing before becoming parents. Then, it became more about teaching our children to give year round. We have giving and sharing traditions all through the year with Random Acts of Kindness.

Purging the House

In April, August and November of every year we purge our house of what we do not use. The kids love going through toys to share with another child. The reason why we pick those dates are because April is post winter, August is before our kids’ fall birthdays and November as it is before Christmas.

Mom’s Job Perks

One of the gifts of being a freelance blogger is the products that are sent to me from clients. From books, to Kinder Eggs to gift cards we discuss as a family who to share the perks with at the time. Our sweet youngest girl, who has autism, loved sharing a box of Kinder Eggs with her class in pre-school on her birthday. Weeks later, her classmates have included her in playtime.

Daily Kindness

Frequently, my kids delight me in how they share and give to others. My oldest needs no reminder from me to open a door for a senior citizen or mom with a stroller. She is known to offer a kind word if she sees another kid sad on the playground. My youngest gives her headlight bright smile to anyone who needs it. She may not have a verbal word to give but has a gentle spirit.

Through our parenting our children, my husband and I show our gratitude of our life. Collectively as a family we have had our challenges as have those kids in the support of the Children’s Miracle Network.

I am very excited to tell you all about KINDER®’s ‘A Joy To Share’ program. KINDER® Canada is very proud to support the Children’s Miracle Network, who has been helping to save and improve the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals since 1983.

To kick off the sharing, our friends at KINDER® Canada will be giving away 7,500 coupons to enjoy their delicious Kinder® Mini Eggs, for free on Facebook! This giveaway will begin today,November 26th, and will last for 10 weekdays, giving out 750 coupons each day at 12pm ET. Like them on Facebook now as it is exclusive to their community.

Have you watched the Martin Family story on our Facebook page? Please “share” it with your friends and family to help encourage donations to the Children’s Miracle Network. For every share of the video, Kinder will donate $1 to the Children’s Miracle Network, up to $5,000. Tell us if you know of other inspiring CMN stories like Leah’s.

Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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Autumn Gratitude

For years I fought with the overwhelming rollercoaster of depression, anxiety and mixed emotions. I give out as much as I can for my family and friends. I know I could always do more. I do not ask for much in return. Feelings of “I am not worth it” invade me when the dark times hit me hard.

On October 10th of this year I turned 39 years old. The age that my mother did not make it to see. It is the fact that I felt guilty about for a long time on why am I still living and she is not. Days before my impending birthday I walked into my house to a surprise party. When I opened my eyes on the 10th I felt a little lighter. The day was a regular day in momville. However, that I was the recipient of kindness, and that warmed my heart. A song, a scrapbook and more gifts left me humbled and grateful.

Ten days later, my youngest turned 4. With all her challenges, one the sweetest gifts she got was to meet her idols, The Wiggles. We were all privileged to meet the troupe and see the show from the floor, all because of the kindness of their organization. Our oldest cannot stop talking about The Wiggles and drawing creative pictures. Our youngest loves looking at the pictures with her and her boys.

This past Sunday, I was asked to speak on a blogging panel. The topics were varied from starting, getting paid and finding inspiration to pen a blog. I was honored to talk about my passion to write alongside of my boss at The Momoir Project, publisher of West Coast Families and Kerry of Crunchy Carpets.

Well I made it to 39. I will seek to learn from this fall to keep paying it forward. I am still here for a reason. For that, I am so grateful.

What are you grateful for today?

So this one time we met The Wiggles…

 

The weather is crisp and clear, perfect for a secret road journey into Vancouver. It is a secret because we are surprising our girls with a trip to see The Wiggles. The suspense has been killing me. With experience, we know not to tell our girls too early about something, otherwise they would ask every day if it is time. We do not get to surprise them often, because of The Wiggles we can do it.

We race around the stadium to find where we are to be. Then we drop the bomb. Our six-year-old is so excited that we are minutes away from meeting the talented performers that have been part of our household for years. We are escorted into the bowels of the stadium to reveal a small area set up with chairs and a back drop. Like magic, the men come out. Our sweet youngest walks right over to them to hang with the troupe. Her look of pure delight made my year. She keeps wanting to touch their costumes. Our oldest cannot stop calling out their names.

My heart and tears began to overflow. To see our girls’ excitement is the sweetest thing ever. When it is our turn to pose with them Captain Feathersword lets our bonus babe play with his feathersword. The look of childlike wonder to see her heroes live makes my heart swoon. The gentlemen could not be more accommodating. Looking around at the other parents I realize that these Auzzies have a special heart as many of the kids have special needs or disabilities, or many other afflictions. To say I am touched is an understatement.

We walk out of the room to our seats and cannot stop saying WOW! We look forward to the show.

 

A Twiggly Tweet Made My Family’s Day

 

I am trying so hard to not give up. After talking with my family we decided that I would take our sweet youngest girl to see The Wiggles. When we tallied the cost for all four of us to go we decided it would be just us two. With her sensory issues and non-verbal words, The Wiggles are rock stars in our house. The concert will be one week after her birthday. It will be the perfect gift.

So I open my computer to search online the best seats for us. After trial and error at live events I know that I need to find something close to the stage and  an aisle seat as she tends to want to run. I could not find anything that would be appropriate at the venue. I decide to step away and think about if it was really worth it.

The next morning, I search again. I cannot find anything appropriate to make the concert a success for us. I take to Twitter to ask The Wiggles if there is anything they can do to help. Much to my surprise and delight they answer me back requesting me to email a certain address.

With trepidation, I email Chris at The Wiggles office explaining our story. I hope that they can tell us of better seats. What happens next seems like a dream. Chris sent me a voucher for 4 tickets and passes to Meet and Greet The Wiggles!!! I had to look at it several times to see if it was for real. We decided to not tell the girls until we arrive at the show. I am stunned at the compassion and kindness that Chris and The Wiggles for giving us this great gift.

Here is the voucher for the October 28th show.

My Motherless Birthday Wish

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My heart has stopped, and then starts again full throttle. The music is filling the room with memories and dreams of the future. The words mix with the music notes from the guitar flooding my eyes with tears. The happy kind.

I am in the middle of my living room that is brimming with family and friends. They just gave me a surprise party. The icing on the cake is the gentleman who is singing the song. Chris and I only just met today, yet I know his stories as he knows mine through Social Media. He and my husband have long since connected the same way.

Only, this song came from the collaboration of the two of them for my surprise birthday party. What really made me weep is that the song is titled A Million Oceans. The very words that my own mother would say, “I love you more than a million oceans. “ My heart and soul is filled with the compassion and kindness that is bursting from my home. I am turning 39, the age my mom did not make it to. My dear husband knew this and made me a surprise like no other. That is not easy since we have been together over 22 years now. Next month we celebrate 20 years of marriage. This is one of the top romantic things he has ever done for me.

I look at the faces of my friends and family who took the time during their Thanksgiving weekend to come here to celebrate – for me. My sweet sister-in-law came from Calgary for this weekend! I am stunned and humbled all at the same time. Just when life stops surprising me, this happens, a million oceans over.

The one thing that struck me in why Chris came out was about paying it forward. It is so true. As parents, we hope that our kids’ future is at least 50% better than the way we had it at their age. I always mourned the fact that I was cheated out of having my mother as I grew up, and that my kids do not have their grandmother. I also dreaded turning 39 because my mom didn’t.

There is one thing I know today, my 39th birthday, is that she did leave a world for me that included kind-hearted people that remind me of her. My birthday wish is that you do pay it forward for someone today, for them, you and our children.

Thank you to all of you for the love and light you have brought back to my heart.

Please feel free to share here how you paid it forward today.

Here is the song:
https://t.co/9ZJVgHjI

CIBC Run for the Cure Works!

In 1998 I got the call that stopped my world, my young sister has cancer. After all the losses we have had in our family, this one ripped my heart out. Ever since our mom died when we were kids the word CANCER loomed above our shoulders. As the oldest sibling I was convinced it would be me next. Biology had another idea.

After a year of sleepless nights, chemo and many, many appointments she was clear! The relief was impalpable. So in 1999 I became more aware of my own health. I also wanted to find a way to give back to the universe. To have my best girlfriend alive and well filled my days with gratitude.

One day I was in the CIBC bank for work. I spied a brochure for the CIBC Run for The Cure. Immediately I knew what I had to do. I registered and began fundraising. I traveled alone on the sky train full of emotion, when I saw the other women and kids wearing the Run shirt and clearly going to the same stop as I was. When I got to the Start line the tears fell fast. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was not alone. Cancer has affected a lot of people.

I dared myself to do the 5K. It took me a long time between walking and running. I saw the finish line and sprinted to it. As I crossed there were cheers. I thought that was odd. I did not know anyone here. This community of Cancer Warriors is warm and accepting. We are all here for a reason.

Years passed and my husband, sister and her husband joined me. I was honored and proud of the money we raised to help more families like ours. The motivation is that what if the next dollar raised helps to cure the evil disease. The answer is no one knows. We do need to find a cure so families can stop losing loved ones.

When I became a mom the desire for my girls to not have the same fate of losing a mom too soon made me bring them along to the runs. With the stroller we can walk/run, and this year we have joined a team. Please consider giving up one coffee and donate. You never know if the next dollar can save your family.

Thank you.

This year I have the pleasure joining the wonderful Yummy Mummy Club team with my family on September 30th, 2012 . #TeamYMC.  Please donate here. Thank you.

An Open Letter to Customers this holiday

Letter to the Public this Holiday

Dear Customer,

I am standing behind you with my youngest child while you rant to the clerk on why isn’t the hottest toy in stock five days before Christmas. The strain on the clerk’s face makes me want to jump in her defense. Yes, the crowds are crazy busy. Yes, Christmas is soon. Taking your stress out on the clerk is not cool. That clerk probably has been working all day with barely a bathroom break.

My sympathy for her and all clerks is personal. For fifteen years, I clerked in malls everywhere throughout the Christmas season. Many times there were so many customers that I couldn’t take my lunch or a coffee break to pee. It was how it had to be.

Hearing customers rage why we were out of an item days before Christmas made me boil. Christmas comes the same time every year. That is not new. The staffs in the stores are on the front lines. The supply and demand in retail is very tricky. That is up to the corporate headquarters and the buyers. It is not the clerks, whom make (in most cases) minimum wage.

I hug my daughter tight as he leaves in a huff. I take my turn at the counter and pass over my items to purchase. I give the girl a smile and tell her she is doing fine. I remark that she handled herself well with that customer. She thanks me. She tells me it is her first job and feels daunted.

As my purchases are bagged I smile at her and remind her soon, the holiday will be gone. She laughs a tired laugh and agrees. As I leave I grab a comment card and fill it out about the wonderful calmness I witnessed. I do not know if it will make a difference. I remember getting customer accolades after the fact. It motivated me to keep smiling.

So to all customers, please be kind. It isn’t about getting the latest cool toy last minute. It is about spending time with loved ones. There are many who do not get that opportunity.

Be kind. Happy Holidays.

Love,

A former sales clerk and now, a mom.

Grief with Children

As posted this week at amotherworld.com

The tears race down my cheeks uncensored. The shock allows the floodgates to open before I realize my 4 year old is watching me.

I warble out to my husband who is steps away, “He died.” I feel paralyzed in the living room chair.

My husband comes over to me. I am staring at my iPad going through Facebook where the announcement that our friend’s 13 day old newborn had passed the night before. Baby was waiting for a new heart which never came. Being under constant hospital supervision since birth, he never got to go home to where his older siblings were waiting.

My husband holds my hand as we explain to our older daughter why I am sad. Her friend’s youngest brother passed away. I tell her that it is not fair.

“Oh, he went to heaven to see Harley?” she asks. Harley is our cat who passed away when she was fifteen months old. I wrote 2 books about him. The last one was about how he was sick, went to the hospital and passed away. Harley became an angel where he felt better and still watched over us. The books are read frequently in our home.

She looked at his picture on the screen. Never have met, she nods and says okay. I watch her go back to playing her dolls. I try to shelter some feelings from my kids. After dealing with my mom’s illness and subsequent passing, I never had a true childhood. That motivates me to allow them to be innocent and enjoy their rightful time in their young lives. I do believe in being honest with them.

Having my eldest girl appreciate and understand my sadness because of the Harley story validated that I am doing something right as a mom. As my 2 & 4 year old grow up and have their tween dramas, I hope that by allowing myself to show emotion they will be open and free with themselves. Also, to know that I am here for them any time as my mom would have for me had she lived.

I wipe my tears and close the iPad feeling a little less sad by letting myself be open in my feelings. Holding it in does not help. Despite my overwhelming need to go back to bed and stay there all day, I have to take care of my kids. One step and one day at a time is a good place to start.

I am grateful for:

1. My healthy children. They continue to exhaust me and amaze me in one breath.

2. My long marriage. 18 years and going strong to my best friend.

3. My Kobo. I can travel anywhere through the day. One of my favorite places to read is the car when the kids are napping in their car seats.

4. My writing. Through the long, emotional year, my writing still keeps me grounded.

5. Twitter. Facebook has re-connected me with old friends. Twitter makes new ones. Twitter has been so kind to me through all day and night.

6. Anyone who has donated time and/or money to finding a cure for cancer. You may save my sister.

What are you thankful for this season?