Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Name, Same Blog

The name has changed! It's the same site, but just a new name. I've been using the CharityMom name for my twitter account and have gone accustomed to it. It describes me. These are two of the most important things in my life--Maggie and Heroes for Children.

What do you think?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Pics

The dress. Yes, she was pretty damn happy!

The first gift opened on Christmas morning-the dress, of course

There were more costumes...

Hanging with cousin Max

More cousin loving
My beautiful girl in her new Christmas outfit

Friday, December 26, 2008

Cousin Christmas

We had a great Christmas! I have a lot of pictures, including the famous "mary dress" excitement from good ole St. Nick, but I'm not posting them all tonight.

My favorite thing at Christmas is to get a picture of the cousins all together. This year was no different. It is my goal every year to get these adorable children. Maggie adores her cousins and looks forward to any time she gets to have with them. Luckily, we'll see them two more times in the next week.

Just as I did for Halloween, I thought it would be fun to have a look back at cousin Christmas pictures.

The first one:

2005: Isabella, almost four years old, Maggie two months old. Max just days away from being born!

2006: Maggie and Max age 1.

2007: Izzy almost 6, Max and Maggie 2.

2008: With our newest addition, sweet snuggly chunky Ellliot

Saturday, December 20, 2008

From Our Home to Yours

Happy Holidays from the Scotts! Our holiday card, thanks to the talent of Jen at Sugar Photography and the graphic design of Megan.

The front...
The back...

Wishing all my friends near and far a happy, healthy, safe holiday this year. I hope you have wonderful times with your family and happy memories this year. I'm looking forward to a peaceful holiday with my loves.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Five candles

My angel's birthday

Five years ago, around this time, my water broke. I was in the hospital by that point, preparing for the arrival of my first baby. I began pushing at 5:30 and at 8:10 (seriously--it took that long--I was whooped!!) I heard her crying for the first time. My Allison. Allie was a gentle, easy baby from the beginning. Today, I am missing that sweet angel and my heart is aching.

I'm having a rough day, I'll be honest. To be completely honest with you, I've been having a rough MONTH. I spent the last few days focusing on Maggie and having some good quality time with her. Monday, we played hookie from work and school and went to the mall to see the train exhibit and then saw the movie Bolt. Yesterday's ice day ended as a blessing since it made me be home with her again. I worked all day and she played around me. We set up her picnic table in the living room to let her do art, playdoh, crafts, etc while I was right there. She had great behavior. Last night, I was supposed to have a board meeting for HFC, but that was cancelled as well due to inclement weather.

Today, I'm having trouble focusing. I'm at work and getting done the things I need to before Andrew picks me up for our annual tradition--taking Dr. Goldman birthday cake. Andrew will pick up Maggie and then we will all go together. Maggie knows that today is her sister's birthday. The first thing she told me this morning was "Today is Allie's birthday and we're FINALLY going to pick Allie up!!" I explained that no, Allie had to stay in Heaven. Just as she has done anytime Allie's name has been mentioned lately, Maggie tilted her head and said, "Aww, poor Allie."

Must get back to work. Happy Birthday to the most beautiful blue-eyed angel that changed my life forever.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Allie on Sale!

The handbag that is. The Allie bag from Elaine Turner is now on sale! I have the red bag featured above and I LOVE it!! Check out the clutch bags to see all the colors the Allie comes in(and see Taylor's gorgeous bag under the Satchel section). I love Elaine Turner's bags. They are durable, pretty, and reasonably priced. There is always a crown somewhere (her logo) and an element of bamboo such as the clasp above. My favorite part about Elaine Turner? She is one cool chic! She and her staff are the best! I love any chance I get to visit a little with all the girls there--Elaine, Heather and Lauren. Plus, they are incredibly generous, supporting Heroes and Handbags each year in both cities!
Enjoy browsing at Elaine Turner's site. You want it all, I promise! At least I do!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Three Part Update

My life these days can be broken into three parts--the family, the job, the diet. So here's an update on all three:

The Family--
We are having some really good times these days. Sunday was our last trip to Six Flags this year with our season passes. It was Holiday in the Park with the entire park twinkling with Christmas lights. Maggie was giddy because we were at Six Flags at "night night time!" We've also been to Disney on Ice and the Nutcracker in a Nutshell. She loved them both and stayed perfectly still to watch the performers. I'm most excited about our next adventure with my mom and Andrew's mom--going to Bass Hall in Ft. Worth to see the production of Annie!! Annie was my favorite movie as a child and one that I watch incessantly. Maggie watches it over at my mom's and really enjoys it. We're dressing up, going out to dinner, and seeing the show. It is my hope that Maggie, my mom, and I will see at least one show or more a year together, so long as Maggie enjoys it. That is my special thing to do with my mom, and we are excited at the possibility of including Maggie in our times together. Over the years, Mom and I have tried to make one musical at least a year. Some years we're lucky and catch two! I wish I could afford for both of us to have season passes, but that is just not in the budget right now.

Allie's fifth birthday is next Wednesday. I usually don't struggle with the birthdays as much as I do the anniversary. This year, that's not the case. I'm struggling. She is going to be FIVE. I find myself on the verge of tears or crying every time I think about it. Five years ago, I was preparing for my first child to be born. I should be enjoying her last year of preschool before preparing to send her off to kindergarten in the fall. Her absence is so strong this holiday and I miss her so much. Right before Thanksgiving, I found her death certificate for the first time (Andrew had handled it for us when it came in and then put it away. We found it when we were cleaning out the guest room getting ready for a guest to spend the night). I came to this site to write about it more than once, but I could not find the words to fully describe the pain of seeing that. It sent me into about a weeklong funk. OK, I'm going to stop writing about that now because even describing it here has me in tears again.

Maggie is talking a lot about wanting a "baby boy just like Max has" (she has her new cousin Elliot so she says she wants one too!). We've tried to tell her the likelihood of a boy is not as great given that we've had two girls. Andrew says he would be shocked if we had a boy! She insists it must be a boy and she doesn't want a girl. Remember--I'm not pregnant. Not trying yet either, so we're just talking hypothetically at this point. Her reasoning for not wanting a baby sister--"I already have a baby sister!!" Duh, she has Allie. She looks like we're so stupid to even suggest another one when she clearly already has a sister.

The job--
Things at Heroes for Children are going really. We're so busy! I kept thinking I would slow down a bit in December, but truth be told, I'm just as busy as ever. We have a lot of preparation for the Spring going on. New board members are joining us in January, so I'm preparing for that. Tonight, I went to the Texas Motor Speedway to pick up a $15,000 grant from the Speedway Children's Charities.

This month has been our big Holiday Heroes program for cancer families. We've adopted 40 families throughout the state for the holiday season. For some families, we bought everything down to the Christmas tree. On Sunday, a pre-med honor society at TCU hosted a party for the Cook Children's families of Ft. Worth to come and get their gifts. This group went all out for our families--three crafts, lunch, Santa, and even the TCU mascot SuperFrog! We spent more than two hours with the family. The Pi Phi's sorority of SMU are hosting a similiar event for the Medical City and Children's families this Saturday. I cannot begin to fully describe how gratifying this experience was for me on Sunday. I watched a mother cry over seeing a Christmas tree with her stuff. A father cried when I told him we would be able to secure a laptop through our Laptops for Love program on top of the Christmas we were already providing. With tears in his eyes, he asked me "how is this possible? You've done so much for us." His son has been battling cancer for close to four years with three relapses. I stood and cried up against the wall watching these families and feeling so grateful that I get to be a part of their lives in a very small way.

As you already know, I love my job. I continue to love my job, and I'm looking forward to more good things we can do for these families in 2009!

The diet....
You know what triggers my downward spiral into bad eating habits? My stress and my grief. Yeah, I have both of those right now and I'm struggling my hardest not to let them sabotage my success. I want to eat a milkshake when I'm upset. With Allie's birthday next week and my dad's birthday today (we miss him so much!!), I am fighting myself to keep from turning to my normal staple--comfort food. I have some challenges in the next week or so--dinner with my family about my dad and Allie, pot luck lunch with the HFC staff for our all staff meeting on Friday, dinner with good friends to be prepared by a great cook (that one has me a bit stressed truth be told because I don't know what I will be able to resist), and our annual birthday cake outing to visit Dr. Goldman at Medical City for Allie's birthday. Oh yeah, and then there's Christmas! I fully intend to enjoy Christmas, but I want to remain good the other times so I don't have guilt on Christmas day.

The good news? I've lost 11 lbs! Clothes are starting to fit again. It's so frustrating to have clothes that I own sit in my closet unused because I can't zip the pants or I hate the muffin top the shirt shows on me. I have pretty clothes that aren't being worn because I can't fit in them. Some days I am very discouraged by how far I let myself get before trying again. I look back on journal entries I've written before about my weight and the need to diet. In all of those entries--I weighed my current weight (you know, the one I'm at AFTER the 11lb loss) or less. And in those entries I talked about how big I felt. Nothing compared to what I did to myself this summer and fall. Because last April? I was 5lbs less than what I was now. Now, if I was really brave like some people I know, I would post my weight stats here, but that's honestly just not going to happen. Just know they are currently going down in the right direction and I am getting better.

Training for the half marathon is really making a difference. Andrew and I are enjoying our walks together. It has given us time to reconnect. We've been so busy lately, especially me with Heroes for Children. There is little time to talk about issues other than what's been going on with Maggie. Our training has given us dedicated time to talk about what's going on and have time to be together. Maggie loves riding in the stroller with us on night walks, and my mom has been so nice to have her overnight on Friday nights so we don't have to take Mag at 6:30am for Saturday trainings. Right now, we're doing 2 miles, 3 times a week on our own, and then we have a group train on Saturdays currently at 3 miles. We'll move up to 4 miles next weekend. By the end of January, we'll have worked our way up to 9 miles!

So, that's my three part update. I'm logging off to try to do a little exercise tonight before bed. The bed is calling my name, but the weights must be used first.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Impact on Cancer Families in 2008

Click on the image below to read our Year End mailing about what Heroes for Children has been up to this year!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

We're off to the Nutcracker

It's a princess' world and I am just one of her royal subjects

It's a "Girls Only" day--shopping and lunch, the Nutcracker and then
the Sugar Plum Party after.

First, she is applying fake makeup on the dog. All the girls must
look our best you know

Monday, December 1, 2008

Charitable Giving in Economic Hard Times

Dear Generous Blog Readers,

Did you know that more charitable donations are made in the fourth quarter every year then any other time? Imagine how difficult that is this year when many charities are relying on these end of year gifts, especially when we have been officially declared in a recession.

I'm frequently asked about tips for fundraising and giving during these tough times. Just as I did last year, I would like to give a few simple tips to charitable giving during these times. Most of this is probably stating the obvious, but I wanted to highlight something so very important to me. Now more than ever, charities need us. Some things to consider:

  • Don't stop! While you may have to cut back on your financial contributions to charities, I urge you not to stop all together. As the economy continues this way, there will be two important things happening for charitable organizations--1)the donations may DECREASE as people begin tightening their spending habits 2)the need from the clients served (especially for social services organizations) will INCREASE.
  • If you give less, don't spread the wealth Choose one or two charitable organizations instead of giving to five or more with smaller increments. Choose to make a bigger splash than more small drops in the bucket. Instead of giving 5 $20 gifts to 5 different charities, choose one that means something to you and give $100.
  • Donate in-kind gifts Think about ways you can donate and support a charity without giving cash. A disclaimer--be sure that you have done your research with the charity in advance before you donate in-kind gifts. For example, we had a kind woman do a big used toy drive for HFC. When she called us with boxes upon boxes of used (albeit gently) toys for us to donate to the hospital or cancer families, we couldn't do anything with them. Due to immunocompromised patients, hospitals will only accept NEW toys! So, we had to sadly turn the woman down for her charitable giving.
  • Consider food banks Now more than ever, local food banks are struggling. Again, the strain of the economy will further push the demand of services provided by local food banks. Many will struggle to keep their shelves stocked. Pick up a few extra cans at the grocery store--even the smallest gesture helps!
  • Engage your children I cannot stress enough the importance of getting children INVOLVED in philanthropy. Whether it is having them research charities with you (for the older kids) or coloring pictures to give with your donation, make them a part of your giving process. Put a collection jar on your counter. Find a cause that will be meaningful with them. *Side note--if anyone in the Dallas area is interested--I do an entire speech on children and philanthropy that I love to do for moms groups, PTAs, church groups, etc. Contact me if you would like to set up a speaking engagement!*
  • Make a donation instead of purchasing a gift this holiday season When I taught, I was overwhelmed with the gifts of candles. It took more then three years after I taught for the candle box to dwindle! I'm not kinding. There are only so many candles I can have in my home. I would have been honored to have a donation made in my honor in lieu of a Christmas gift as a teacher. Better yet, if the parent had asked me about my charity of choice, it would have made it all the more special. Instead of spending $15--20 on a small gift for the teacher, make a donation to an organization that is meaningful to the teacher. Most charities have cards that can be sent to the honoree stating the donation. Think about all the different groups you can do this with--office co-workers (our staff does this every year and this year we're purchasing gifts for a Holiday Heroes family in lieu of buying small gifts for each other), giving family gifts (my mom and I are choosing a charitable donation instead of a gift to each other this year), or even as a company's gift instead of items to send to clients (we just had a company make a donation and they are now sending cards to their clients saying they made the donation to Heroes for Children this holiday season in honor of their clients--shows they are charitable and not being frivolous on things like a fruit or cheese basket!)
  • As I said last year, make it a year long commitment The holiday season isn't the only times charities are in need. It is often when our hearts are most geared towards philanthropy due to the holiday season and that general feeling of gratitude many of us have. However, there is just as great of a need in July as there is in Christmas. Make it a New Year's resolution that you can stick with--stay involved. The best way to do that? Match your talents/gifts to your volunteerism. If you are a graphic designer who has a passion for your work, put it to good use helping a worthy cause. If you aren't shy and willing to ask for donations, get yourself on a fundraising committee to help the charity build a stronger base of donors. Finding the right match for your is key to keeping you engaged longterm.
  • Did I mention DON'T STOP? Yeah, well, that's a big point I want to get across. Keep giving. No matter how much or how you go about doing it. Find a way to give, even in the smallest of increments. If we all gave even a small increment this holiday season, it will make a difference.

Thank you for your willingness to support the many worthy causes out there. If you would like, highlight a charity or cause that means something to you in the comment section. I would love to hear about the things near and dear to your hearts!

With gratitude,