Five Ways to Give This Holiday Season

Christmas Gifts that make senseTomorrow, after a weekend of shopping and spending many will also be looking for ways to give back this year. I think that is why we have #GivingTuesday, right after a weekend of spending, we really do not want to forget others.

There are so many different ways you can give back. Some shop using free trade stores like I wrote about last month. Some will use the latest app to use their spare change to give back each month. I wrote about ChangeIt last month as well. Both got me thinking about the ways I am giving back this holiday season with my teen daughter. We have some traditions that we do and some are simply easy ways to lend a helping hand. So just in case you are looking for some simple ways to give you can remember these: If you want some simple ideas here are mine but you can always check out the Giving Tuesday site for more ideas:

1. We always look for ways to complete at least a number of random acts of kindness this month. It might be something simple as paying for a coffee or a meal, it might be as simple as shoveling the snow of a senior or baking cookies for a friend.

2. We always do a deep clean looking for items we can donate. Getting new electronics? Remember there are many was to give back with your old ones. Did you know if you recyle your electronics they can be made into new products, and if you simply want to donate you can do through agencies like Goodwill.

3. The food banks always need help every year and I go to #Hohoto and while there donate to the food drive as well as helping raise funds for my local food bank.

4. Donate toys early, that way they can actually get under a Christmas tree. Here in Toronto we have Toy Mountain and CHUM Christmas Wish campaigns that are always grateful for donated toys. There are also police and firefighter campaigns going on as well. Over the years I have had several opportunities to help prepare hampers and toy bags for the kids for Toy Mountain.

5.The gift of time is a way many of us can give back as well. Many charities need an extra set of helping hands at this time of year. As well there are many lonely folks that could use a visit. Can’t afford to give, the gift of time is something you can always do.

For us it is so important to find as many simple ways to give back as we can. How do you find ways to give back over the holiday season? Let me know. Is giving part of your family holiday schedule?



Giving Birth and Being A Mom Not Always Safe

I have been pregnant twice in my life.

When I was pregnant the first time 20 years ago I was terrified to say the least. I had not planned on getting pregnant that summer in fact it was the farthest thing from my mind.  I had been raped and even though I had been given meds the morning after I still found myself pregnant.

At that time in my life I was an active Mormon (member of the Church of Latter Day Saints) and I would not think of abortion, but then I would of been a single young mom on my own and how would I ever tell a child of her or his conception. So I decided to give the child that was growing inside me up for adoption. As I looked through files of possible parents, I wondered what would become of this young being.

Well at 18 weeks in, my cervix suddenly opened. Nothing could be done to stop what was happening. It was a whirl of activity in the emergency room, and I was thankful I was in Canada where I could get the best of care. I lost the babe I was carrying, and was told it was unlikely I would ever carry a child to term.

Fast forward 7 years, I was a newly wed, excited about being a step mother to 3 awesome kids, and life was good or so I thought. Shortly after our honeymoon I figured out I was late. I sent my now ex husband to the store for a kit that confirmed my suspicions. I wondered would I lose this child too.  I sought medical care in rural New Mexico where I lived at the time. I was able to get great care again for which I am thankful, my pregnancy was well monitored. My first 14 weeks I was extra careful willing my babe in waiting to be patient. At 14 weeks they were able to sew my cervix shut so my babe would have a safe place to grow.

Even thought my pregnancy became even more high risk I still got the best care. I felt safe, and was able to deliver a beautiful daughter at 37 weeks.

Now why am I writing about my pregnancies?

Moms 4 Moms

Moms writing and supporting Every Mom Counts an organization that wants every mom to have a safe birthing experience.

Did You Know?

• There is one maternal death every 90 seconds.
• 15% of all pregnancies result in complications during labor and delivery and sometimes are fatal.
• Pregnancy is the biggest killer of girls ages 15-19.
• For every woman who dies in childbirth, 20 more suffer from debilitating complications.

And the most important thing

90% of these deaths were preventable, we have the knowledge!

What can we do? What can I a frugal mom do?

There are a few ways to lend a to Every Mom Counts. Tell your kids and hubby forgo the big gifts and the flowers and how about saving lives this Mother’s Day. Please do visit Every Mom Counts and see how you can count! A cell phone, a donation or even sharing the message all of it helps. Doesn’t every woman deserve to live when giving birth? You and me, all of us working together lets get this right, and help moms .

A Thank You Post

As I sit to write tonight my heart is full. I had seen the wonders of people before but the last 48 hours have been such a blessing for me and Rachel.

It all started at #PlaybookTO an event hosted by Blackberry to launch the Blackberry Playbook. They hosted a twitter contest, and I was lucky enough to be one of 50 winners of the new Playbook.  I got to take 3 girlfriends and get my playbook We also got to play and learn the Playbook.

Well it was late in the night Wednesday, when I told my girlfriends my plan on using my playbook which I love for something better–getting Rachel to summer camp. They thought it was a cool idea so in the wee hours of Thursday morning I posted that I was going to give my Playbook to someone who helped me get Rachel the summer she deserved.

What happened next was awe-inspiring, breathtaking and brought pure bliss to my 13 yr old daughter. People we knew and didn’t know tweeted and retweeted the post. So many gave both big and small amounts. Thank You so much Sheldon, Henry, Shasha, Jacki, Marcia, Linda, Beth, Sue, Kathy, Gerrit, Lori, Julie, Mara, Gloria, Marcy, Tamara, Kim, Heather, Daniel, Michelle, Melany, Shawn, Kimberly, Shawn, Frank, Sharon, Leah, Gerrit, Cow and Moon Paper Co, AHaz Desings, DCDG Development, Edley Imagineering,Ripple Connection, and Scott.

And then a couple of things happened yesterday that brought smiles and joy and as the day wore on. First I think there was more than one person who contacted the Blackberry team about my post. Sara from Urban Mom, I do know got through and by the end of the day there was an email from Carolyn at Blackberry that made me want to cry, it seemed the team there read the post, loved the idea, and wanted me still to have a Playbook so they are replacing the Playbook.Thank-you Blackberry!

Two of my other friends, and I do consider both of these people friends Scott  gave Rachel and I a Season pass to Wonderland. When I told Rachel this morning she was excited! She can’t wait for all the looping rides and I think I am going to have a heart attack at the thought of one. My other friend Mara decided to share a win she had recently with Kobo and gave Rachel a GC for Kobo Books. Rachel has already added her summer reading to our Kobo desktop. Thank you Scott and Mara.

For each of you who came read the post, sent retweets, shared the post, sent good vibes, and wishes and helped along the way I say thank-you! Those words do not seem enough to echo what is in my heart, it is full of  thanks to the wonderful community Rachel and I find ourselves apart of.

We will definitely be posting Rachel’s AWESOME summer here on the blog, on twitter, and on my Facebook account. Thanks Again!

Frugal Ways For Canadians to Give to Haiti

Tonight is the telethon hosted by CTV,CBC and Global here in Canada. So it got me thinking I have already given both to the Red Cross and World Vision and I wanted to do more but I am a mom on a budget. So how could I give a little bit more?

Well today I was at Zellers and they asked if Iwanted to donate my points and since it was a way to give that would not effect my pocket book it was a big YES for me. It got me thinking how else can I possibly use points I have accumulated for Haiti

Both Air Miles and Shoppers Drug Mart have partnered with charities to help support in the Haitian relief efforts.So if you are like me, a little low on cash there are ways that you can give.Shoppers has partnered with Yele. I watched Yele on Oprah this week talk about what he saw on the ground and what they are doing, as well many Haitians I know really have seen Yele do some amazing things with his NGO.  I think it is a good way to make use of your points.  Air Miles has teamed with the Red Cross, an organization known for its emergency response. They have already on the ground the largest contingent on aid workers flown in to help.I sometimes you need to think a little outside the norm.

Now I am about to watch Canada for Haiti and the American telethon. If you can dig deep and give more I encourage you to do so.

Helping in the Haitian Relief Efforts

As I sat and watched the news this week that came from Haiti, at first all I could do was cry and remember. I remembered what is was to lose every thing. I remember what it is like to lose everything or almost  everything you physically owned ( home  and everything in it) and to know even though your family is safe there was loss of life just feet from where you were. I also know what it  is like when a hurricane damages your home so bad that it takes months to recover. First I was over come with emotion..Those emotions turned into a desire to help. I have lived through homelessness, a hurricane, and a fire.

I gave immediately at first to the Red Cross. Why the Red Cross? When I was going through the fire literally literally they were there within minutes. When it comes to emergency responses they are well trained and get the job done. They work with other agencies and see that needs are met. Six years ago my daughter and I lived in Hamilton and lived through the experience of  being rescued by fire fighters in the dead of the night and then watched as the 30 unit apartment complex next door burned . A young woman died just 5 feet from where my young daughter slept and the other side of the wall. We got out. She did not. I have always been thankful we did. It was in the immediate hours after our little disaster I saw how fast and efficiently the Red Cross can work. Within hours we were being taken to a hotel where we stayed for the first 72 hours after the fire. Clothing came. Food came. We were taken care of. They helped us rebuild quite quickly.We were able to go back in. Our neighbors could not. Some on the lower floors were allowed in to get some things out. The 30 unit complex left families homeless and it was the Red Cross who came to the rescue. For us we went in and cleaned up the broken windows, threw out many smoke filled things, covered windows and had to move weeks later to a safer place.

I saw the work the done in conjunction with other agencies when living in Toronto and volunteering with the Salvation Army’s emergency response team. When 900 people were displaced due to an explosion and fire the 2 agencies  worked together to see that the immediate needs of the people where met. When it was known that they would not be able to return to their homes for months. These agencies worked with others to make sure each person had shelter.

If you are Canadian and can give please do give. The Canadian government is matching our giving up to 50 million dollars.

There are many agencies you can give to, and many ways to give.

Here is a list of some:

To donate just $5 you can text:

Wireless companies are providing a way to donate $5 by texting.  

• “Yele” to 501501 to donate to Wyclef Jean’s Yéle Foundation;

• “Haiti” to 85944 to donate to Rescue Union Mission and MedCorp International;

• “Haiti” to 25383 to donate to the International Rescue Committee;

• “Haiti” to 90999 to donate to the Red Cross in the U.S.;

• “Haiti” to 45678 to donate to the Salvation Army in Canada (Canada only).

Now here is a list of charities with WELL known ties and established ties in Haiti. Consider them please:

The Red Cross ( this agency already has a team of 50 of its best emergency response personnel on the ground and they are working tirelessly with other agencies to get needs met)

The Salvation Army already had and has personel on the ground in Haiti and a team of Canadian volunteers are enroute today to help distribute aid.

Doctors Without Borders/ Medicins Sans Frontieres is another agency on the ground. Many of their doctors and nurses who were in Haiti are missing. They are in need of medical supplies.

World Vision is another agency that had been working in Haiti. I have been following them on Twitter. I am a World Vision sponsor. So this one is near and dear to me. We will be giving more to them in the weeks ahead.

The Humanitarian Coalition. Oxfam, Care, and Save the Children have teamed together to offer assistance.

This is just a small list of agencies who are on the ground already. They are working to get help to the 3 million Haitians effected.

Now the blogging community is also giving in there own way and Money Saving Mom has complied a list of bloggers who have posts about how to help and what they are doing. Some bloggers are saying leave a comment and I will give. So if you can do check out some of them.

Well I am already giving and my daughter and I will be giving more in the months ahead as the need will be there for a very long time.What are you  doing?

Remember if you can not give , you can still do something: You can pray. So what are you doing? What have you done?

New Family Member

For the past number of days I have been following a friend who has been blogging from Africa about Compassion’s work over there. The pictures and videos spoke to my heart and my daughters as well . We see how very lucky we are. How even though by Canadian standards we are considered poor by many we are actually very wealthy by world standards. We made a commitment to sponsor a child…her name is Chelsea and she is now part of our family! For the cost of a can of diet coke or a cup of coffee and a muffin a day you could really help a child and their family become self sufficient… I couldn’t help but think of something that was recently by a very wise man.. “we live in a knowledge based world, and the best way to become self sufficient is through eduction”…so my hats and prayers are with the bloggers who went…they really showed us how blessed and lucky we are!

World’s Largest Stocking and Tom Brown

World RecordPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketToday at the Sony Center on Front street, we took part in the making of the world’s largest Stocking! Roo and I went out and bought a couple of large unwrapped toys this morning(thanks alot GC’s). Then it was time to head down to the Sony Center. We got there at 11 and already there was a line! I think this speaks volumes to the generous hearts of Torontians. All the toys are headed to the Salvation Army to help families here in To have a better Christmas. When we got there, cookies and hot chocolate was offered up to all of us waiting our turn…Then it was a quick dash inside where Roo struck up a conversation with Tom Brown, yes the CTV weatherman. She ended up doing the lunch time weather with Tom and then they both had there picture taken. Then they both made a mad dash up the stairs to where they could both put toys in the 9o ft  stocking. Soon I had my daughter back and we stood in line for a quick pic gifted to us by the fine folks of Sony and then we headed up the stairs where Roo put our second gift in the stocking. She was so excited that she was on tv. It was funny because when we got home there was a message from my aunt saying she saw her on the news. It was great fun to be part of the action today and all for a very good cause and at 4 pm it was annouced that we had the record!

Christmas Tip#7- Before in with the New, think recycle and get rid of the old. I have Roo clean out her toys boxes and we give her toys that she no long plays with to the local shelter here. As well I use this time of year to get rid of things that no longer fit. You have to have room for the new stuff right!

Today I am thankful for a fun day out with Roo that taught all the right stuff!