The Third Week of Christmas



I bought some Christmas cards a few weeks ago and they became a highlight of my kindness acts this week.

There’s just something about receiving a hand written note that makes a person feel good inside.

So on Monday I wrote words of encouragement to the people who were entered into our Giving Jar contest but didn’t win the jar.

Total Cost: Postage


DECEMBER 16:

My friend Nikol who blogs over at Celebrate We Will had posted on Facebook about a homeless woman her mom was helping that had a two week old baby girl and was in need of warm baby clothes.

Funny enough, that very same day I had bought a Target gift card thinking I was going to give it as a gift and then ended up realizing I didn’t need it.

The minute I saw her post I knew where the gift card was meant to go.

So I mailed it out to her mom to give to the woman.

Total Cost: $25


 DECEMBER 17:

I wrote Christmas cards for strangers and left them on their cars.


Some friends and I decided to all go in on a gift for someone.

One of the girls was kind enough to pay for the item and then have the rest of us pay her back.

I ended up needed to mail out the money but I noticed that one of the girl’s in our group had stopped responding to the emails a while back.

I didn’t want my friend to get stuck covering this other girl’s costs for the gift all by herself so I went ahead and paid extra so that it would help cover the majority of the absent girl’s portion.

Total Cost: $8

**Ready for more craziness?**

For some reason I woke up Thursday morning in a rut.

I could feel my heart being tried, Declan was on a good one, and I was feeling overwhelmed.

I called on one of my best friends for prayer and encouragement and she instantly reminded me just how lucky I am to have her in my life.

Then, within an hour of talking to her I received a notification that I had a new comment on my blog.

The Giving Jar winner Amy Martinez had messaged me, and this is what she said:

“Again, thank you so much! I hope you don’t mind but we are using the money to buy warm coats and gifts for a few kids in need at our church for Christmas. We have also decided to keep this money jar and collect money all year to do the same next year!”

.

I was floored and crying for the second day in a row.

It’s been said that “If only one life is touched – It will have all been worth it” and I have tried to live my life by this principle.

After feeling all week like I was incapable of making a difference God showed me just how wrong I was.


The Second Week of Christmas

I wanted to post this on Friday but when Declan took his nap I ended up dosing off with him so I never got around to it.

Something about a rainy day makes it impossible to get things done.

But now I’m checking in to share with all of you my second week of Christmas giving.
You’ll have to forgive me, I hardly took any pictures this week.
I know they make a post more appealing but sometimes when you’re trying to do something nice you don’t have time to stop, snap, and filter.

DECEMBER 6:

We are all no strangers to the Salvation Army donation set up every year for Christmas outside of stores.
But did you know that these men and women are all volunteers?
I love that and so when we saw a lady standing outside of our store I decided to buy her a water bottle since I know she had been there for a long time.

Total cost: $1


DECEMBER 7: 

We took Declan to the park bright and early and when we got there I noticed a city worker cleaning up a huge mess that had been left behind by some people that threw a birthday party.
I was actually at that very park the day before and I saw them there while the party was going on.
They hadn’t cleaned up a thing.
Literally, they left all of the decorations including the piñata.
Streamers, popped balloons, and candy trash littered the entire park and I couldn’t believe someone would just leave their mess like that in a public place.
So I decided to go around and clean up all of the trash so that the city worker didn’t have to do it alone.

Total cost: FREE


DECEMBER 8: 

I had a doctors appointment and so I decided to bring an old book with me that I loved.
I wrote a little message inside and left it for someone else to take home with them.

Total Cost: FREE


DECEMBER 9: 

I forgot to hit the grocery store with Declan during the day so we went later on when Derek was home.
They were crowded and very busy and as we approached the checkout line I noticed that they had an excess of baskets piling up.
So I decided to grab them and put them all away for them.
It was clear that they had their hands full and as it turned out there were no more baskets at the entry so it was perfect timing.

Total cost: FREE


DECEMBER 10:

I made a donation to Toys for Tots while shopping for Christmas presents.

Total cost: $5


DECEMBER 11: 

I sometimes feel weird approaching strangers because you never know how they are going to respond.
But I pushed that aside and decided to compliment a stranger.
The woman in front of me at CVS was wearing a really beautiful pink blouse that brought out the blue/green in her eyes and so I told her.
We ended up chatting for a few minutes which is something that has been happening a lot since I started doing this.
I love that I’ve been able to connect with so many strangers just by showing kindness.

Total cost: FREE


DECEMBER 12:

We had to go to Macy’s to pick up Derek’s suit for the annual Christmas brunch we attend.
When we got there I was chasing Declan around and I noticed that their were wallets all over the floor.
People get crazy during the holiday season and just through things around which blows my mind.
So I went around and picked all of them up and put them away.

Total cost: FREE


Well that wraps up last week.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Sit And Stare

Kindness is Free

Source

When I was just a kid in school I would often come home hungry.

My mom worked full time so she wasn’t usually the one picking me up from school but I’ll never forget one time when she did.

When I got into the car I asked if she could take me to In-N-Out.

Didn’t I give you lunch money for the whole week?

She did, but I had already spent it all and it was only Wednesday.

This was normal for me.

If a friend forgot their lunch or couldn’t afford a cookie at break I was always quick to fix that for them.

I was generous to a fault, but I didn’t realize that at the time.

My mother scolded me:

Andrea, that money was for YOU to eat lunch.

I remember feeling resentful that my mom was lecturing me about helping others.

I couldn’t grasp the real issue at hand which was that in trying to help my friends I was DOUBLING the cost of my lunch each day for my parents.

I wish I could say that when I grew up and moved out on my own I got better with this but I didn’t.

I DID finally understand why my mom was upset with me but I would still come down to the last $20 of my paycheck each month from buying other people’s lunches, coffees, random gifts, etc.

I still struggle with this.

During the last giveaway I was so touched by everyone’s story that I felt like I needed to do something for each person.

Derek recommended sending everyone a card of encouragement but it didn’t feel like enough to me.

I kept racking my brain around how I could scrounge up enough extra cash to give to everyone else.

And then Amanda unknowingly changed me.

When she posted about her Christmas Pledge (Read about it here: A Christmas Pledge) I was reminded of when she joined me in our month of kindness.

I was so inspired by the things her and her girls did for others, particularly because she found ways to make a positive difference in people’s lives without spending a bunch of money.

So I’ve decided to follow my wise friend’s lead and tackle this month of kindness with less money and more heart.

Somehow she has three girls all 4 and under and has managed to blog every single day.

I don’t know how she does it but I do know that there is no way I will be able to get on here daily.

So instead I’m going to do a weekly recap of the things I did, starting today.

December 1:

While at the Dollar Tree I saw a toy drive box for military families.

I let Declan pick out one girl toy and one boy toy for us to donate.

Total cost: $2

December 2:

I decided that instead of mindlessly scanning Facebook and “liking” people’s posts and pictures I would take the time to comment on them with something positive.

So I went through and told people how beautiful they looked in their profile pictures, how adorable their children are, and how wonderful their new recipe looked.

Also, I was on Instagram later that evening and I came across a post from @LoveisLouder and I knew I wanted to get involved.

Benefit Cosmetics was donating $1 for every funny faced IG picture posted using the tag #LaughOutLouder.

If you’ve never heard of Love Is Louder you can read all about it here: Love is Louder

Total cost: FREE

December 3:

I’m a pretty social person but ever since I became a mom I often rush myself out of conversations before my kid has a tantrum in the middle of a store, coffee shop, etc.

But on this day as I was at MY GYM with Declan one of the teachers struck up a conversation with me.

I noticed myself giving her one word answers and decided to quickly change my attitude and get to know this girl that helps out with my son once a week.

So I sat there and asked her about herself and it was pretty cool getting to know her.

Also, I was invited to a breastfeeding/supplementing Facebook group which I thought was really strange at first.

I stopped breastfeeding back in September so I thought maybe I had been invited by accident but instead of just leaving the group I decided to scan the page and see if I could offer up any advice or encouragement to these mamas with younger kids.

Turns out a lot of these women have been going through some pretty hard times with their feeding journey and I was able to contribute support and knowledge which is awesome.

Total cost: FREE

December 4:

While at the grocery store I came across a bunch of pre-packaged food drive bags they had created.

I actually walked right past them but then I felt a tug at my heart so I went back and grabbed one.

I wanted to take a picture of the actual bag but the cashier was looking right at me and I didn’t want to be like:

“Wait, I have to take a picture for my blog!”

Because that’s weird.

Total Cost: $10.30

December 5:

I follow The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation on Facebook and I came across this article yesterday that completely broke my heart into a million pieces.

A six year old girl named Addie Fausett has an atrophy of the brain, causing this to be her last Christmas on this earth.

So her family came up with the idea to have her receive “a lifetime of Christmas cards” and they are asking people to send this sweet little girl a Christmas card this year.

(Please read all about it here: Addie Fausett)

After I stopped crying I knew what I had to do:

So together Declan and I made Addie a Christmas card and I really hope you will all consider doing the same.

Total cost: under $5 for art supplies and postage


It’s not too late to join us in making someone’s holiday season a little brighter each day.

And I hope that you have been inspired realizing what I did:

That you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a difference.

Happiest weekend to you all.

20140526-155648-57408884.jpg

And The Giving Jar Goes To…

The Giving Jar

At the beginning of 2014 Derek painted a Whey Powder container green, slapped a red bow on top, and declared it our Christmas fund.

We decided that we would put our spare change and dollar bills into it all year and then use it at Christmas time to bless a family in need.
A few days ago Derek came to me with an amazing idea.
“Why don’t you blog about our Christmas fund and let your readers nominate a family that could use it.”
He has the best ideas and I am beyond thrilled to get this going!
Since Christmas is coming up (it’s less than 6 weeks away, guys!) we decided to open it up and count everything.
The total was $156.35 which we will be rounding up to $160.
I know it’s not a million bucks but I also know that it’s enough to help someone this season.
So here’s how it’s going to work:

1. Nominate a family. You can leave a comment on this post, on the Facebook post, Instagram post, or you can email me at amfranklin1016@gmail.com

2. Give me a brief rundown on why you have decided to nominate this family.
Next, I will be featuring each brief story on my blog. 
We will then randomly select one of YOUR suggested families to give our Christmas fund to. 
Since I want them to actually be able to use it for Christmas, I will need to get this baby mailed out to them so that they can have it no later than December 15th. 
Thus, I will only be excepting nominations until Thanksgiving and I will be announcing the winner on December 1st.
I’m super excited that you and I will be working hand in hand to bless someone this holiday season.
Thank you guys in advance for showering someone else with love this year!
Your nominations alone will show families struggling that they are not alone and people are thinking of and looking out for them.
20140526-155648-57408884.jpg

Welcome To The Neighborhood

It’s that time of year again in Woo-Ville (aka my neighborhood).

I just received my notice for our annual cherry picker Christmas lights breakfast thing-a-muh-bob.

As we found out last November, our neighborhood is apparently one that people flood during the holidays to come and see the lights.

Yeah, we’re kind of a big deal.

It’s both awkward and quirky and I actually really love it.

The best part about it however is getting all of my kooky neighbors in the same place at the same time and watching the magic unfold.

Unfortunately you won’t be able to drink coffee, eat your weight in sweets, and gossip with me at 9am on the 22nd so I thought I would give you the run-down on my neighborhood so you can visualize it in your head.

I am using fake names for everyone.

Less because I am trying to protect them and more because I can’t remember half of their names.

Hey, I’m a face person!


First we have our next door neighbor Paul.

Paul is kind but quiet and to himself.

I once brought him a homemade chicken pot pie and he answered the door naked.

Luckily he didn’t fling the door open so all I saw was his shoulders and I left the dinner on his porch for him so he could, you know, put pants on.

Last week while playing with Declan in the backyard I saw him in his tighty whiteys….

Some things just can’t be unseen and dammit, we really need to build a bigger wall back there.


The couple living on the other side of us are Susan and Alfred.

Susan keeps telling me she’s going to make me her world famous banana bread but I have yet to see a slice.

Alfred hates us.

My theory:

He’s heard our late night jacuzzi conversations.

Derek and I have what I like to call vacuum syndrom.

We think that just because something around us is loud that must mean our voices are muffled and thus we need to talk even louder.

Yet, when those bubbles automatically turn off in 20 minutes we realize, “Oh shit. We were talking really loud.”

What do YOU talk about in the jacuzzi with YOUR partner late at night after a couple glasses of wine?

EXACTLY.


Next up is Claire.

She is married but you’d think it was to her dog since that’s the only one you ever really see her with.

(Her husband is perfectly healthy, just lazy apparently).

Derek and I have an irrational fear of Claire.

It’s probably because one time we saw the silhouette of her Pharaoh crown shaped hair in our living room bay window at night.

She was legitimately in our planter right outside our window with her dog because she lets her pooch determine personal boundaries and big surprise, he has none.

Recently she sternly told us to get necklace lights for our walks since it’s getting dark so early now and we spent the next 4 days trying to avoid her and come up with excuses for our lack of lights because we kept forgetting to get one.

“You don’t have your lights yet!”

The next night when we realized we had forgotten again we hunted down a glow stick from Halloween just so she wouldn’t say anything.


Then we’ve got Richard and Maria across the street.

They’ve got two kids and in the last year and a half we have only seen the whole family together maybe once or twice.

We’re pretty sure that Maria is having an affair.

One time Maria came over to our house with a bottle of wine and asked to use our wine opener.

Then she got into her car and left rather than going back in her house.

Another time I was on a walk with Declan and I saw her leave.

When I had made it to the other side of the block I then walked right past her sitting in her parked car texting, around the corner from her house.

She also yells hello at us ONLY when Declan is asleep.

If he’s wide awake in his stroller she completely ignores us but if he is visibly knocked out all of a sudden she wants to have a shouting match while standing right next to us.


And of course, a well rounded neighborhood wouldn’t be complete without an All-American dream team like Anita and Tom.

Tom is a professor/writer and Anita home schools their two boys.

They are active in their church, hold bible studies at their place weekly, and have a homemade swing in their front yard tree.

Anita might legitimately be the nicest person on the planet and I’m not sure she is a real human being because of it.

The world needs more people like them and I leave anonymous gifts at their house every few months as a thank you for being such wonderful people.


Honorable mention goes to the Dog Parade.

We’re actually certain that only one of them even live in our neighborhood but every single day a group of 5-7 old people get together and walk their dogs around our entire block.

Someone told us that the ring leader is supposedly a dog trainer but one time when we were walking Tucker and Calypso one of their dogs came running at us with like we were Beggin’ Bits and the trainer was unable to get them to come back.

So I’m convinced the bat is a phony and just likes to take nice old people’s money.


Then there is us, The Franklins.

I’m pretty sure we are the weirdest ones of all.

We are always in the most stylish outfits.

Usually involving NFL tees and yoga pants/basketball shorts.

I do this dance every night when Declan falls asleep.

On our walks…

In front of people.

And Derek sings the first verse of You Are My Sunshine on repeat because that’s the only part of the song he knows.

So there you have it!

I can’t wait to stick us all in a front yard at 9am next weekend and see what kind of shenanigans ensue.

Hopefully I’ll come back with stories and a food baby.

Have a beautiful weekend!

American Horror Story is Ruining My Life

I know I’m behind…

Like, WAY behind.

But Derek and I finally jumped on board the American Horror Story train and we binged on Season 1 last week.

Now that we are about to move on to season 2 I’ve got to tell ya:

American Horror Story is Ruining My Life.

**Season 1 is from 2011 so I don’t feel guilty about the “spoilers” in this post. But if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to have it ruined for you, don’t continue reading.**

You’ve been warned!
….

First of all, this show is making a lazy woman out of me.

We watched the entire season in 5 days and we are parents which means we don’t even get more than an hour or two a night to ourselves.

5 days in parent time is like 24 hours, so you know it’s been pretty serious.

Also, I’ve become even more paranoid than I already was which I didn’t think was possible.

image

Derek turned on our house alarm the other day and I thought it was the fan in our room turning on by itself.

They sound the same and AHS has taught me not to trust unexplained noises.

When Ben lied to Vivien about Boston I started chasing Derek around the house yelling:

image

Because I assumed that he was taking the bros before hos creed seriously and Hey, the house CHANGES YOU.

And then they killed Violet and turned my whole world upside down.

I can’t sleep and I’m pretty sure the Rubber Man has been drinking my last K-Cup and stealing socks from my dryer.

My nightmare is to wake up coffee-less with mismatched socks, so clearly he’s playing on my fears.

I tried to walk away from the show but it’s too damn good.

So here I am.

All wrapped up in Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s twisted, sinister minds.

It’s hard to believe that the same guy who came up with kids breaking out into song while covered in various slushie flavors created an anti-christ rape baby.

File:Slushie.gif

Actually now that I think about it, they’re both pretty similar.

I may need a nightlight, a ghostbuster, and a carafe of wine but I’m moving forward to season 2.

Because American Horror Story has ruined my life, but I have to watch every season.

How right you are Constance.

So I’ll see you on the other side of my sanity guys.

I’m off to scare myself into never going to another hospital again with Season Two: Asylum.

Happy Monday everyone!

20140526-155648-57408884.jpg

It Takes a Village

Yesterday I found my self on the “Mom Walk Of Shame”.
Clad in pjs, dirty hair, and no bra I desperately strolled Declan through our neighborhood for a generous 45 minutes before finally giving up.

At one point when he all of a sudden decided to go from almost asleep to wide awake and trying to catapult himself out of his stroller I hunched over the hand bar and began to weep.
I had been up with my hyper fussy babe since 2:30 am and by then it was after 8:30.
He had spent the duration of the morning trying to do everything dangerous that he possibly could and screaming at me when I told him no.
Already on my third cup of coffee for the day, I was positive that November 6, 2014 was the day I was finally going to keel over and die from physical exhaustion.
I’m not proud of days like this.
The ones where I feel utterly lost in the world of parenting.
But I AM proud that on this day, I got help.

I knew I needed to have just an hour away to collect myself.
And so I called up Derek’s grandparents and asked if they could watch him while I went to lunch solo.
I texted Derek and told him:
“They seem to be really busy today but said of course they will watch him and to bring him on over. I think they could hear the desperation in my voice.”
I was right.
After my hour to myself I came back a new woman.
Grammy said:
“Not gonna lie, you sounded like you were pretty desperate on the phone earlier.”
Spot on Grammy, spot on.

Declan only napped for 15 minutes all day yesterday despite the 2:30 am wake up call.
But because I realized that I couldn’t do it alone and reached out, I was able to smile for the rest of the day.
It’s not easy for me to ask for help.
I’m prideful to a fault and I hate admitting that I can’t do something.
But I’ve come to realize that they say “it takes a village” for a reason.
Because it really does sometimes.
And I am so thankful for our village.

Today is a new day and I am stronger because of yesterday.
Our wake up call was 4:30 am today (an improvement) and instead of menacing today Declan has been my little sidekick.
We cleaned out the pantry together, played in the hamper, and he even napped!


Some days are hard.
But those days don’t define us as moms.
How we handle those days, how we move forward from them…
THAT is what makes us who we are.

Take some time today to thank your village.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

20140526-155648-57408884.jpg

Lend Me Your Kite and Fly We Shall

Once upon a time there was a woman scorned.

Pretty normal, to be hurt by someone in your life.

But this woman, she did not know how to let the mistakes of others go.

Instead she walked around with a heart full of grudges and kept a pouch of stones to throw at those who had ever wronged her.

As the grudges grew, so did her pouch of rocks until it was so heavy she couldn’t walk.

All she had to do was take off the pouch and leave the stones to their rightful home in the earth but she could not seem to part with the very thing that was weighing her down.

One day as she struggled to rise from her bed she saw her reflection in a mirror.

The once dainty and fair woman was now heavy and dark, cloaked in her unforgiveness and drenched in distain.

She ran her fingers over the bruises on her hips where the pouch lie and hunched over in anguish.

“I’ve wasted so many years”, she cried.

She raised her head, glanced at the woman in the mirror, and wiped the salty tears from her cheeks.

Her hand reached behind her and a loud THUD filled the room as the pouch of rocks crashed to the floor.

Suddenly she was free.

No longer bound to the burden of her own resentment she was luminous and exuberant.

Her cup ran full and she finally knew what it meant to let go.

With a grin from ear to ear and a song of rejoice on her lips she set out to mend her heart from the years of damage she had caused it.

She went to see all of those she had been angry with for so long and with a servants heart she exclaimed:

Lend me your kite and fly we shall.

And as they soared she knew that this was all that had been missing from her happily ever after.

 20140526-155648-57408884.jpg