100 Ways to Give: Number Two, Help Each Other Out

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Over the next year, I’m going to share 100 ways to give. The 100 days won’t be in a row, but will be over the entire year. Cora taught me so much about giving, being there for people and loving each other. Most of these ways to give will use little to no money. See previous posts in this series here. 

My husband walked in the door after a long day of fighting the 10 inches of snow on the ground and brutal temps, looked at the monitor we have to monitor the alley and the garage and flew through the back door.

“Someone is stuck back there,” he said.

“You just got home, and we don’t even know them,” I said. I’m all for helping people, as often as possible, but I’ve learned that “as possible” is different to my husband. No one knew he saw them in the alley. He didn’t help out of a sense of guilt.

It’s one of the biggest reasons I love him. If he notices someone with a taillight out, he’ll drive out of his way to tell them, when I would just ignore and go on.

In brutal temps, hot or cold, he stops and asks elderly folks on bikes or walking if they’d like rides.

Things that this day and age many of us don’t do.

Including seeing someone stuck on a monitor and racing to help, even when you’ve been working all day.

This winter, I’ve thought a lot about how we all need to help each other to get through. I’ve witnessed so many acts of kindness with people helping out. I’ve been part of and witnessed people just walk by without even trying (like the teenagers who just walked down the middle of the road and stared at me when I was stuck in the snow one early morning).

A few weeks after he helped those people, we became stuck in the alley. I’m not much help with pushing and we just couldn’t break free. A neighbor pulled into his garage and immediately came to help.

As I thanked him profusely, he said it was no problem and that it was his girlfriend my husband had helped a few weeks earlier (the car on the monitor).

Times like a brutal winter remind us that we really need each other to get through. We need to help push other people’s cars. We need to shovel sidewalks that aren’t ours. We need to offer rides (when we feel safe, my husband doesn’t do it when I’m in the car, and many times offers the pick-up truck bed for the people to jump in).

We need to just notice people around us a little more. We might not realize someone needs help because we’re not paying attention. I didn’t notice those people on the monitor. If I did, it probably wouldn’t have even clicked that I should help them.

I love my husband for noticing, and for helping when he does.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy CHD Awareness Day! Celebrating progress–Made with Love

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It’s a day of hearts, so it’s especially close to my heart.

Today is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day. It’s also Valentine’s Day.

I’m celebrating over five years as a couple with my husband. It’s been rough and not always easy, but I’m so glad he is mine.

I’m celebrating progress.

The Newborn Coalition and 1in100.org keep a map of progress across the country with implementation of congenital heart defect screening. 

Here’s a copy of that map about two years ago. Only the states in green had laws. Only two states had laws that had gone into effect (Indiana and New Jersey).

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Here’s the map today. States in green have laws and states in blue have added the screening in a regulatory way. Think of it if your state is green or blue, screening has been added.

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And this week my niece was screened. The first grandchild in my family after Cora was born and my mother’s second grandchild was screened in one of those first states to add the screening (she passed with flying colors).

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Fitting CHD Awareness Day is on Valentine’s Day. It takes a lot of love to make big changes for little hearts.

My photo engraved necklace from Jewelry Keepsakes, you can win one too!

This is a sponsored post, I received compensation and a free necklace in exchange for my honest opinion about JewelryKeepsakes.com. If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, it goes to say I only talk about products I truly love, and all opinions are my own. 

When I was introduced to the Jewelry Keepsakes site, I was immediately drawn to a small silver heart with an engraved photo.

I find myself talking to people all the time and wanting to show them what she looked like. I obviously have photos in my purse and sometimes pull up them up my phone, but it’s always a bit awkward.

I thought how great it would be to be able to point to the necklace to show them. People need to know when I tell my story how perfect and healthy she looked.

So when I was contacted by Jewelry Keepsakes, I was extremely excited.

I was a bit nervous too, would the engraving be too much? Would it be too noticeable on neck? I look talking about Cora, but would it stick out so much that everyone would comment and ask? I don’t always feel like speaking about her to the passer by.

My worries were absolutely calmed when I got my necklace just a few days later. The engraving is beautiful. In fact, I ran to the mail box where the sun blinded my eyes a bit and when I first opened it in our dark living room (winter time, gotta bundle up those windows to save on heat) I thought they made a mistake. I couldn’t seen the engraving. As soon as I turned on a light, I saw indeed it was no mistake. The engraving was there, unmistakable, noticeable but subtle. For lack of a better description, it wasn’t tacky or over the top.

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The necklace looks perfect around my neck. I opted for a longer change because I’m a tall girl with a not so small chest, and really like how it hangs.

I can’t say enough about the engraving. It’s not easy to entrust your baby’s beautiful face to someone else. Luckily for me, it looks perfect. On the back, they engraved Cora’s name and birthday.

I also tear up hoping someday I have a daughter whom I’ll pass the necklace on to when I pass away. Hopefully she’ll pass it on, and it will become a family heirloom.

The ordering process was easy for me, and according to a representative to the website, orders are usually shipped within a few days.

The site has a large focus on cremation jewelry, which is beautiful. I have a necklace with Cora’s remains similar to some of the ones on the site and love it. In that way, she’s always with me.

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One of the cremation pieces from Jewelry Keepsakes. Photo copyright Jewelry Keepsakes.

However, the engraved pieces especially are for any mom, grandma or proud aunt (like me, my sister is due any day now, yay!) that wants to have a beautiful picture handy.

Want one of your own?

Enter code “Cora” at checkout for a five percent discount!

Win one following the directions in the Rafflecopter below. (Open to US residents over 18 only).

The very, very best ever? The company is donating a percentage of profits from all purchases of necklaces like mine to help children with congenital heart defects through Sisters By Heart. As a heart mom, I can’t thank them enough. Anytime a company takes up our cause, I’m extremely touched. This will last through February. Here’s a link to my necklace. 

Enter to win a photo engraved necklace!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

For $5 you can help save two lives, supporting cleanbirth.org

I lost a baby to something possibly preventable, but I still feel like we had a chance. I was able to birth in a clean, sterile environment and really got top-notch care according to the current standard of care.

In countries across the country, babies and mothers die because they don’t have needed basic necessities during childbirth.

I’m so thankful to Cora for waking me up and opening my eyes to both the needs and plight of moms and babies here and the in some cases desperate need of mothers and babies across the world.

That’s why I’ve joined World Mom’s Blog as a contributor. I hope to write more there about moms and babies worldwide.

Today, World Mom’s Blog is joining forces with Girls Globe and Multicultural Kids Globe to support CleanBirth.org.

CleanBirth.org was started by a US mom who wanted to do something about the disturbing death rate of moms and babies in Laos. In Laos, the infant mortality rate is higher than Sudan’s.

The organization provides moms with clean birth kits, and trains nurses to provide a clean, safe birthing environment among other advocacy.

Moms and babies are dying because of something that can be prevented with a $5 clean birth kit, infection. I know that frustration. Cora died because of a $5 test, but at the time we didn’t know better.

We KNOW that clean birthing conditions save lives and are a must.

How you can help

Please join World Mom’s Blog in supporting CleanBirth.org by donating through the fundraising page. 

For just $5 you can provide a WHO approved clean birth kit, and possibly save a life, or two. Just skip a cup of coffee today. It’s more than worth it.

Join the Twitter party, February 6 1 to 2 p.m. EST with hash tag #CleanBirth
#CleanBirth Twitter Party!

Spread the word! Visit CleanBirth.org and share what you learn.

100 Ways in 100 Days: Tell Them When They Do A Good Job

What better day to introduce a new series that’s been in the works in my mind since last month. I thought about where I wanted this blog to go and what I wanted to do with it, and realized I wanted to help make the world better–even in any teeny way I could think of.

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So today on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I’m starting the “100 Ways in 100 Days” series. Over the next year, I’ll share 100 ways you can help someone else.

Cora’s taught me so much about this topic. Obviously, being better to each other is a lesson that is ongoing and something I hope to learn more about.

For my first way, I want to share a spontaneous letter we sent.

Some of you might know that late last summer my brother-in-law (or as he says, let’s drop the “in-law” and just call each other brother and sister), moved in with us.

One day he was on the phone looking for help for something. I’ll be vague about that something because it’s his story. You all know how it can be calling around trying to figure something out, you can get lots of folks who are sick of answering the same questions, or who don’t seem to have the time.

Finally, Patrick reached someone who not only answered all of his questions, but walked through everything so slowly and carefully and told him things he never would have thought of.

I listened to his side of the conversation and when he hung up I said, “let’s write that lady’s boss a letter!” And so we did, and mailed it out immediately. I hope it goes in her permanent file and she one day gets a raise.

So often we only call to complain about bad service. Both my husband and I have worked in the service industry before so we’re far too used to the complaints. We remember how the “good jobs” stood out. We try to call and tell people when we are happy.

We even called McDonald’s once because we got some out of this world crazy good cheeseburgers (seriously, I don’t know what that cook was doing differently, but they rocked).

100 Way number 1: Write or call to tell the supervisor when someone makes you happy!

 

Groundhog Day

I’m afraid to write this post. I hesitate, and that tells me it needs to be done. I need to write more fro those scary places.

It’s nothing awful, but see, sometimes I feel like I’m a repeat record. Cora died. I’m sad. I try to save babies in her name. I’m a better person for her. Let’s do some awesome stuff. Will you help me do awesome stuff. I’m sad. I’m really sad. I’m actually okay, but don’t want to write, so that means I’m sad. It’s all that and rinse and repeat.

That’s what I want to write about. That feeling like you’re living in that movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray’s character keeps reliving the same day. It’s easy to feel like that this time of year. Look it’s 10 degrees and snowing out and I’m stuck inside. Wait, wasn’t that yesterday and everyday last week. I’m a homebody, and I’m getting some serious cabin fever.

It’s like being our lives have been put on to repeat when the DVD ends. From prior experience, I know stopping that repeat cycle isn’t so easy.

The thing about Cora’s life and death is that we’d just stopped a bad groundhog day cycle when I became pregnant with her. We battled some really though things. Ben was in school and doing great. I was working, getting healthy and feeling great.

We became pregnant and soon were more financially stable than I’ve ever been.

Then she died, and because our new-found stability was so fresh, it crumbled.

We’ve been scratching to get back to that place ever since she died. Not that we’ve had it worse than anyone else struggling, but as soon as we climb up out of the pit and have one hand on solid ground, something shakes us back to groundhog’s day.

I’ve been thinking a lot about it the last few weeks. I know “just thinking” isn’t enough. To escape, you must take action. Even tiny little actions. I’ve been taking the first little actions to break free and make myself stronger to be able to grab the hand that keeps pressing the repeat button on the remote. The hand is bodyless and a mosaic of many things, but it’s strong and firm right now.

The death of a child will throw even the most stable families off balance, but many of these families have resources and back ups. We were thrown off kilter before we could develop back ups.

Groundhog day will end. We will get back to the shaky point we’d reached when I became pregnant.