Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Birthday Bags 4 Kids

Yesterday morning, as I was browsing about the internet, reading the local newspaper websites and I stumbled across this local news article. I went to the website the article listed, Birthday Bags 4 Kids and started looking around.

I found their list of accepted donations and it make me think about how I had straightened up my gift/game closet earlier in the day and how I had this abundance of gift bags. And then I got to thinking about the two rubbermaid boxes of beanie babies that someone at church had brought to me for the girls this past weekend. Both were accepted donations. So I emailed the lady, inquiring about a possible drop off this morning as I had errands to run in her neck of the woods.

She emailed back and told me they'd be there this morning. So after a couple errands, my Mom and I stopped by their warehouse.

My girls' birthdays have always been a special event in our house. When we've had parties, I try my best to theme it to the max and be as creative as I can. When we've not had parties beyond that of the grandparents and the only local uncle and aunt and cousins, I've still done their birthdays up special. Birthdays are special, and they deserve to be celebrated no matter how small or how big. So when we toured this small warehouse today, it really touched me.

With the holidays approaching, there are so many opportunities this time of year to take part in making sure those families that are in need have something. But what about the other ten-eleven months out of the year?? What about the kids' birthdays?? Birthday Bags 4 Kids is something that runs all year long and is growing and growing.

The Birthday Bags 4 Kids warehouse was just that. A warehouse. But inside those four walls, you could feel the love and generosity of many people. Generosity through things donated, through time volunteered, through the thought and care that went into packaging the bags. The space was very well organized. Pink bins for girls, blue bins for boys. All labeled and broken down into age ranges. Each birthday bag gets a large item from the top shelf, as well as a few smaller things from the bins. The birthday bag isn't just ONE present, it's filled. Besides the birthday presents, cake mixes, a tub of frosting, and candles are put into the bag as well. And as if that wasn't enough, they include festive party paper plates, napkins, cups, tablecloths, and streamers. It's a party in a bag, just waiting to fall into the hands of a special child!How many times are cake mixes and frostings on sale!?!?

How many times do we pick up a couple packages of napkins thinking we'll use them all and only open one package??!?!

How many gift bags do we have overflowing in closets, thinking we'll use them again, but don't!?!?

How many gifts do our kids get that are sometimes not age appropriate and could be used by another child?!?!?!

How many times do you shop the clearance rack at Target and pick those gifts up to use as birthday presents for any upcoming parties your child might get invited to and then forget about?!?!

Seeing this today, brought tears to my eyes. What an awesome opportunity. I asked Julie, the founder, if I could come back with future donations. And I asked her about volunteer time and coming and helping fill bags. She was a very friendly person and I'm so happy to have stumbled across this awesome organization. It really touched my heart and I hope to go back and give some of my time once we get through Rachel's surgeries and the holidays.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Box Tops Contest Comes to an End

As I've mentioned before, this year, I took over the position of Box Tops Coordinator for our school. Since the first day of school, I've been collecting Box Tops out of my box in the office and keeping track of the counts for each classroom, rewarding classrooms for every 300 Box Tops brought in, etc.

That contest came to an yesterday. And I am excited to share that we collected 24,293 Box Tops just in the last 12 weeks!!! That amount is over 7,000 more than what our school collected this time last year!

Thankfully, the coordinator who I took over for already had a great system in place for staying on top of the count, etc. So when the contest came to an end on Thursday afternoon at 2:30, all I had to do was count what I had collected that day (can you believe I collected 2,604 in just one day!!) and then verify all my counts and package them up!

This is what 440 snack bags of 50 Box Tops in each bag looks like! In other words, this is what 22,000 individual Box Tops looks like organized!! And here, is the box that has those 440 bags, as well as another 6456 Box Tops in Bonuses for a grand total to send in to the company for 28,495 Box Tops! I had some Box Tops that were collected at the end of the school year last year to send in. But in December, our school will receive a check for $2,849.50! It's been fun watching the amounts come in, the competition amongst the classes rise, and the excitement of seeing our numbers increase from last year!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Crazy Busy

There's been so much going on in the last week, lots of ideas running through my head as to things I want to blog about, but I've been busy!! There were three major things that held my attention last weekend. And it was amazing the relief I felt once they were all done and behind me.

Our church has a ministry that we call Hands and Feet. And every other month or so, we take care packages out to the homeless in nearby parks and other areas known for where the homeless hang out. Donations for those care packages have been slim in recent months, so last week, I offered to go out and get the things we needed for the care packages and then put them together. I did this project last Tuesday. After three trips to the Dollar Store, I managed to make over 40 care packages for the team of people that would be going out this past Sunday following the church service.

Next on my list of things that had my attention last week was our church Harvest party that was held Friday evening. I coordinated the event which included asking Mom's to help host activity tables, worked out the details of food for the evening, making flyers, and all the other tons of details that go into planning a party. We had over forty people come and over fifteen kids participated in our nine tables of activities. The night was a success and was a great evening of just hanging out and fellowshipping and the kids having fun. Here, The Pumpkin Patch Parable is read as the kids all sat on hay bales listening.Finally, the last big thing on my plate for last week was Pastor Appreciation. October is Pastor Appreciation Month and the last week of September I sent out an email to the people of our church seeking out donations in the forms of cards or special scriptures, monetary donations, or anything else so that a gift basket could be put together and presented to our Pastor and his wife on Sunday, October 17th. It was a blessing for me to be able to put it all together, but it did take time collecting from people, going out and getting things for the basket, different places for gift cards, etc. But when it was all said and done, the basket turned out beautiful and on Sunday at the close of the service one of the church elders called our Pastor and his wife and their kids up to the stage and we presented them this basket and offered our appreciation for all they do and then prayed for them. To say they were surprised would be an understatement. They had absolutely NO IDEA! Which is totally awesome in my book.

So these were the big things that kept me from blogging last week. LOL. Throw in all the normal day to day things of our life - playing taxi, homework, speech, making dinner, etc, etc. And it made for one crazy busy Mama!

Next big thing up for me: The ending of our Box Tops for Education contest at school on Thursday!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Helpful Cooking Tip

A lot of recipes call for "diced cooked chicken", which can really add to the prep time of a recipe if you have to cook the chicken before you even start putting the recipe together.

To help make those recipes a lot less work at the time, I cook my chicken ahead of time and freeze it. I buy the family pack size of half chicken breasts and cook in a pot of water.It takes about an hour, hour and a half to cook a pack of chicken, sometimes a little longer depending on the size of the chicken breast. Once cooked, removed from the pot to a plate to cool.Once cooled off, you can either put the chicken into the refrigerator to bone at a later time, or bone then. The chicken really is easiest to bone when the chicken is still warm. Either way, the next step is to cut the chicken into small pieces. And then I measure the chicken out into 2 cup portions and then place into a quart size Ziploc freezer bag, remembering to label the bag and date it. Making sure all the air is pushed out of the bag, zipping it shut, and then placing into the freezer.Now the chicken is ready to pull out, defrost, and use for whenever I have a dish on the menu that calls for cooked chicken. It's been a tremendous time saver!



**Sometimes these family pack of chicken breasts can be found on sale for .99 cents a pound at Stater Bros., making the packaged about $5-$6. I usually wait until they are on sale and then buy two or three at a time. One family pack, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, will yield about 4-5 bags of 2 cups of chicken.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Beautiful Sunday Afternoon

Our friends were camping this last weekend, down at San Elijo, where we like to camp, and most times usually all at the same time. After a couple of texted pictures and texts inviting us down, we did just that!

We got home from church, changed our clothes, ate a quick lunch, and tossed extra clothes, sweatshirts, hats, and pajamas into a bag and our chairs, beach umbrella, and an ice chest of water into the car and we were off...

Scott and Paula had said in their texts that it had been beautiful the last few days, and upon arriving, they were right. It was an absolutely gorgeous day! It was a wonderful afternoon of sitting on the beach, fellowshipping with great friends, taking in the beauty of the day, strolling the beach as the tide was getting lower and lower and there were treasures to be looked at and collected, and then eating dinner on the beach, watching the sun set. Eating dinner on the beach on a makeshift table of a boogie board positioned on an ice chest and then using a beach towel as a table cloth, we decided we need to do more dinners like this on our future camping trips. The sunset was amazing. We weren't able to see many sunsets when we camped in July, it was cloudy and overcast almost the entire week we camped. This sunset sure made up for it!After sunset, we packed up and went back to the campsite. Giving a quick shower to Rachel in Paula and Scott's trailer and dawning of the jammies, we said our goodbyes and headed for home. It was most definitely a great Sunday afternoon!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another Book Recommendation

A few months back, I recommended a book, "Her Mother's Hope" by Francine Rivers.

The sequel to that book recently came out and last week, my Mom purchased it on Amazon and she let me be the first one of the two of us to read it. I guaranteed her I'd have it done in 3-4 days. And I did!

The book book is called "Her Daughters Dream". It continues where the story left off in the first book. I don't want to give the details of the book, but just know that it's an excellent, excellent book and I highly recommend it!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Disappointed

Over the last couple of months, our Pastor has mentioned a time or two in his messages about how we sometimes wear these 'masks' or put up these 'facades". We are quick to answer the question "How Are You?" with a "I'm good" or "Fine", when in reality things aren't good, or aren't fine.

Last Sunday, I woke up with heart palpitations and some shortness of breath, and pain upon breathing. Ah, the joys of anxiety!

When someone asked me how I was, I decided to be honest...

My response, "I'm okay".

Their response, "Just Okay?"

"Yeah, just okay."

"I'm not even gonna ask" was their response, and they turned and walked away.

And this Sunday, when anyone asked me "How are You?", I had to laugh to myself and pondered how to answer that question.

It also left me wondering, truly wondering, just who in that place really did care about me? I know without a shadow of a doubt of a few people who care about me (aside from the obvious of my Mother, Father, Brother, etc). But this exchange last week, really made a HUGE impact on me.

I sat a few times and really gave it some thought as to whether or not I've ever been like that. And as a couple of old friends come to mind, if I knew they were lying to me about being "fine" when asked "how are you?", I called them on it and asked them again until they were honest. "How are you?" isn't something I'd just ask in passing without having the time to listen if someone should say they weren't fine.

If we as Christians can't expect to love each other like Jesus would, then how does He expect us to love and an extend a hand out to those who are lost? Sadly, a lot of time Christians are disappointing, and unfortunately, this time it was me that was disappointed by one...


"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
~ Galatians 6:10

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Catching Up and Cleaning Up

Today has been deemed one of those days to clean up and catch up.

It's been a busy week around our house and this next coming week will be a busy one as well. So today, I'm catching up on laundry, taking care of little piles here and there, cleaning out the email box and taking care of things in there, as well as having a couple of things I'd like to tackle in the garage.

The girls are also catching up. They are catching up on chores and cartoons and are so far playing nicely together with a craft set that Rachel got for her birthday.

And Steven, he's on an overnight mens campout and is due to return sometime today...

Happy Saturday!