Thursday, November 17, 2011

Give a little cheer

First of all, I know that I promised to do this more often and have failed miserably, but I promise I have a good excuse. I've had sick (and I mean really sick) kids for the past 2 weeks that have kept me up at night, home from work, and elbow deep in laundry. So, I ask for your forgiveness, and promise that I will TRY to do better next time.

Now, I've had a blog idea that I've been wanting to write about for a month, my little helpers (or should I say 1 helper and my anti-helper), but yesterday something happened and I feel compelled to save that story for another day.

Yesterday I found out that our daycare is closing. And as horrific and panicky as it made me, I immediately began to feel for the 20 or so dedicated men and women who will be losing their jobs, right before Christmas. It made me sad, and upset that I couldn't pay for each and every one of them to have the wonderful Christmas that they deserve. Which got me to thinking about all of the children around the world that won't have toys at Christmas and won't have anything to eat that day, let alone a Christmas dinner.

It also made me think about how thankful I am that my mom raised me the way that she did, knowing that when you can and are able, you should always give back. Every year that I can remember, our family has always adopted a family at Christmas, or bought for an angel off the angel tree, or bought something for someone at a nursing home who won't get any visitors at Christmas. My mom was also always involved in service organizations growing up that had nothing to do with my brother and me. She was involved because it was the right thing to do. She passed that on to me.

In college I picked up the tradition and am so proud to say that my friends and I have adopted a family for 10 years. That is 10 (actually more than that because some years we did 2 families) families that we made a difference in. I'm not writing about this to toot my own horn, but to show how easy it is to make a difference. You might ask why I'm writing about this in a parenting blog, and it is because one of the most important values we can teach our children is philanthropy.

I don't have a lot to give, but I remind myself that the $10 I set aside each month in my grocery budget to buy food for the food bank will provide a meal for a family that would otherwise not have one. And when Braden asks why the mac n cheese I just bought can't come home with us, I happily explain to him why we buy for other children. Now, at 3 I have to put it in terms he will understand, but even as young as three he is beginning to understand what it means to help people. What it means to give of yourself and not expect anything in return.

So, this holiday season, I urge you to give back, and take your children along when you do it. Below I've listed some places that we've chosen to give back to in the past, in case you need an idea to get you rolling:

- Send a letter of thanks or a package to a soldier. You can adopt soldiers at (We adopted an entire platoon one year at Christmas and they wrote us a very sweet letter back)
- Find out from local schools if they do backpacks at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most kids who are on free or reduced lunch at school won't have anything to eat during long school breaks.
- Get an angel from an angel tree (Wal Mart usually has them; I know our Walgreens has an elderly angel tree, too)
- Call a school, church, or nursing home to see if anyone has expressed a need
- Rainbow Village is a domestic violence center we've worked with in the past. I know sometimes these centers are difficult because of the secrecy surrounding these women, but I am sure they can always use help.
- Reach out to your local volunteer clubs (Kiwanis, Rotary, Junior League, and Junior Auxiliary). They've always got folks in need.

And remember, it doesn't have to be a lot of time or money, but what you do can make a difference in someone's life, and that is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ballet Birthday Bash

Ok, so I know I've been bad about updating this, but life has been a little hectic lately! I have some great blogs in the works so stay tuned!

Since I last wrote, Amelia has turned 1! And of course in true Benson fashion, we partied! On Amelia's actual birthday, we headed out to Aunt Nancy's house for cupcakes and presents from the family! The birthday girl tried to sample each and every cupcake, but can you blame her when we sat her on the table right next to the cupcake stand?
My aunt made her her own cake and cupcakes for everyone else. The other 3 kids ate 11 cupcakes between themselves!
New rocking horse from the Sanders

Last day for bottles - I'm a big girl now!

Then, on Friday Mimi came to town to help us celebrate! it was off to one year picture session (after mommy and Mimi had some Cothoms downtown!)

Saturday before her party we went to the pumpkin patch and both kids had a blast. Then it was off to nap for Amelia and time for mommy to get the party ready. Now, we've discussed my tendency to go slightly overboard with birthdays, but I do not see anything wrong with individual tulle tutus for each cupcake… I really don’t =) The theme of the party was a ballet birthday. Mommy made tutus for all of the little girls that came to the party. The weather was perfect so we partied outside with lots of friends and family! Amelia very much enjoyed her cake and then it was off for a quick bath and outfit change. Then it was present time. She got lots of great stuff, and she wanted to hold it all at one time. Every time she got a new baby or pair of shoes she would try to squish it all into her chubby little hands at once.

The table with the banner mommy made for Amelia

Mimi, Amelia, and Marlee


Yes I'm under here, but I must have room for all my babies!

Good party...I'm ready for next year!

It was a wonderful time, celebrated with special people, and even though she won't remember it, I will. We had a wonderful time celebrating Miss Amelia!
Now, in honor of birthdays gone by, I'm posting some pics from some of my old birthday parties. You can probably start to see how I got the crazy birthday gene… (you mean it's not normal to wake up on your birthday to a banana with candles in it and the family singing happy birthday to you?)
13th birthday dance party with Lizzie Hood - we had a rock and roll theme

9th birthday pool party at the Holiday Inn (January birthdays do not lend themselves to outdoor pool parties!)

Another pool party birthday

Luau birthday party - mom hand made the outfits for all the girls