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25 Days of Giving: Day 19 – More Love Letters

December 19, 2014

Somehow “writing letters to strangers” has become a normal thing in my life.

For Day 19 of 25 Days of GivingI wrote notes for More Love Letters. MLL accepts requests from loved ones of those who could use a little pick-me-up, then shares the requests on their site. Every December they host 12 Days of More Love Letters (#12DaysMLL) to squeeze in a bundle of love around the holidays before the year ends.

25 Days of Giving - Day 19 - More Love Letters

I got to use a bunch of fun cards. Apparently I like note cards?

25 Days of Giving - Day 19 - More Love Letters cards

If I knew whether any of them were cat people, I’d be sending some pretty funny kitty cards too.

I hope the notes shine a little light in a dark spot. I hope they encourage people to remember that there are good times ahead and that they’re strong enough to get through the current yuck they’re in. While there’s so much nastiness going on in the world, there are also a million people doing really cool, kind things. I choose to focus on those who will be even more awesome if you just give them a hand.

25 Days of Giving: Day 18 – Give All Day Long

December 18, 2014

In the spirit of 25 Days of Givingfor Day 18 I simply gave all day long. I normally choose one specific give, donation, or activity, but today I just kept my eyes open for any opportunity to give.

Here are a few ways I accomplished that:

  • I smiled at several strangers
  • I opened the door for a guy carrying way too many boxes
  • I bought candies for my boss and lots of Christmas gifts
  • After my Mom helped me make two lasagnas for a family gathering she isn’t going to (my Dad’s side), I made one for her too
  • I complimented and thanked John when he got out of bed to help me
  • I gave Lexie-kitty extra lovins this morning (that counts, right?)

This wasn’t my original plan for the day but I kind of love it because it’s something anyone can do on any day of the year.

25 Days of Giving is quickly coming to a close and I still have a few exciting gives to share. Can’t wait!

My Grandpa

December 18, 2014

Three weeks before Thanksgiving, we celebrated my paternal grandfather’s 90th birthday.

His health had been a bit of a rollercoaster for two months prior but he put on his game face for the party. I guess it helped that most of his presents involved chocolates. Specifically, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It cracked me up how happily he sampled the chocolate goodies that day. Every day, really.

In the weeks following the party, Grandpa’s health didn’t improve much until it all just went down hill very quickly. It was shocking, scary, and sad.

My Grandpa passed away on Friday November 28th, 2014. Black Friday, indeed.

I haven’t said much to family or friends because, well… I’m a writer, not a speaker. So this post is for my Grandpa. I hope he’s in heaven relaxing with his siblings, snacking on some sweets, and reading this post.

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The things I’ll remember most about my Grandpa are his quirks. Isn’t that how it always is? He’d give me hell about not calling or visiting in a while which was really just because he couldn’t get enough of his family. He was always happy to see everyone and wanted to see us as much as possible.

grandparents, Dad, J-slice, and John

Grandpa taught us that if we’re going to do something we shouldn’t – like eating his York Peppermint Patties out of the fridge – we should at least hide the evidence. That makes me laugh because it was never meant to be a deep life lesson, just to keep us grandkids out of his candy stash!

Grandpa and me

Grandpa was the heart of our family, the one who brought us all together, made us laugh, and encouraged each of us. He loved deeply and others loved him in return. He’s a man I admire for so many reasons but mainly his ability to ask the hard questions, listen to your answer, and “tell it like it is” in a loving manner.

grandparents May 2013

I miss him every day and wish I could call him up in heaven to ask for advice or just fill him in on my life; I know he’d be proud.

Grandpa and me

Grandpa’s passing leaves a huge void that will never be filled. His sense of humor, kind and caring manner, and genuine love for all people are the qualities I admire most and are also the things I will miss the most about him. His stories will be passed on and his memory will live on through our family.

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I didn’t get to say goodbye to Grandpa or tell him “one last thing” while he was still alert. John says that Grandpa knows. I’d like to think that (for once! ha) John is right.

This is the first time I’ve lost a loved one who was very close to my heart. It’s been rough on the whole family. But I have a little story to tell about that:

I caught the end of a radio program the other day where a medium was taking calls and currently speaking with a young female, probably in her 30s. A close friend came through and the medium acknowledged a few things but then almost dismissively moved on to another spirit coming through: the caller’s grandma.

This woman’s grandma stepped forward so the caller explained that the family had just celebrated her grandma’s birthday before her passing on the day after Thanksgiving. Just like my Grandpa. Then the medium told the woman that her grandma doesn’t want her passing to affect the family’s celebration of the holidays, even though she passed during this time.

Celebrity medium Theresa Caputo says that spirits often “piggyback” on other spirits so if you hear something that relates to you, it’s probably your loved one too. You can get cynical about that or you can put judgment aside and just believe that sometimes the universe tells you what you need to hear when you need to hear it. And I needed to hear that. That’s my Grandpa, speaking to us from the other side, still leading our family.

This weekend our family is getting together to celebrate Christmas early. The head of the family will be notably absent. I hope we share funny stories and repeat for the great-grandkids “don’t take any wooden nickels.” I hope we laugh, only shed tears of happy memories, and enjoy our time together.

Christmas family photo2 2012

Grandpa, you’ll be missed every single day. Thank you for the fun and love you gave everyone in your 90 years. Rest in peace.

25 Days of Giving: Day 17 – Great Strides Walk

December 17, 2014

It’s official: The J-Team will participate in its third Great Strides walk in 2015!

For Day 17 of 25 Days of Giving, I registered our team for a Great Strides walk in our area, an event benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I also got our team off to a good start with a monetary donation.

Great Strides 2013 The J-Team

We walk to support and honor the Bermudez family who lost a precious soul in 2013. And truly, we walk and raise money for anyone dealing with cystic fibrosis, with the hope of finding better treatment to improve quality of life.

The J-Team - Great Strides May 2014

The two different Great Strides we’ve been to were on the small side so you really feel the sense of community. The J-Team is thrilled to participate once again!

25 Days of Giving: Day 16 – Recommendations

December 16, 2014

For Day 16 of 25 Days of GivingI did something I’ve been meaning to do for years: write LinkedIn recommendations.

25 Days of Giving - Day 16 - LinkedIn recommendations

I chose a couple people that I’ve worked closely with, let them know I’d be writing a recommendation, and then later went on the website to post them. Of course the recommendation goes to the person first so they have final approval.

The next time you have an enjoyable experience working with someone, connect with them on LinkedIn and write a nice recommendation. It doesn’t have to be long or serious; in fact, I read a lot of articles that suggested adding your personality and maybe a brief story. This is win-win because the person gets a great recommendation and you get to expand your network.

Don’t you love getting recommendations? While I know it can be important for someone’s career, I’m thrilled that it can just make them smile. It lets someone know that they’re kicking ass and that you notice. It’s like a massive gold star. If I could just carry around a sheet of gold star stickers (and get over my dislike of gold), I totally would. Gold stars for everyone!

25 Days of Giving: Day 15 – Box Tops for Education

December 15, 2014

Perhaps you’ve seen the little pencil logo on some of the products you buy. My Mom and I cut those out, save them up, and for Day 15 of 25 Days of Givingwe’re donating them to J-slice’s school.

25 Days of Giving - Day 15 - Box Tops for Education

Each box top label is worth 10 cents and the school gets the cash to spend on whatever they need.

It’s super easy to notice the logo on products and cut them out. Even if you don’t have a child in school, you could always mail them to a local school or give them to a friend who has school-age kids. It’s probably the easiest way schools make money and hopefully they cycle that right back into their teachers and students.

PS – We also donated to J-slice’s classroom on Day 12 so his school is doing well over 25 Days of Giving!

Create: Art Day Project

December 15, 2014

Amy’s Art Day (usually Art Nite but this one was special!) get-together yesterday had three parts:

  1. a donation to a local food pantry
  2. a craft/art supplies swap for things you no longer need so you can get someone else’s supplies to try
  3. a project swap

I don’t always make a project for Art Nite because it’s low on my priority list. I’m working on bigger projects (to be shared soon!) so I don’t get to freely create items as often as I’d like.

On Friday nite though, I decided I’d make something. I had an idea (super important, obviously), the means to create it without going to the craft store, and it was simple enough that I wouldn’t get frustrated. Those are the stipulations when you spend your Friday nite painting and your to-do list is waaaay too long to give a project more than an hour.

I think they turned out pretty cool. This painting is much more interesting in person. The camera and especially my photography (lack of) skills don’t do it justice.

Christmas-themed art day / art nite project - painting

The canvas is about an inch thick and I wish I’d gotten a photo of this at an angle so you could see the depth. That adds to it. The painting itself is a knife-scraping painting using greens, reds, and white. Overtop is Ho Ho Ho.

John and J-slice said they liked my ho’s then snickered. So mature.

My other project is two ornaments in blues and neons. NEON!

Christmas-themed art day / art nite project - ornaments

They’re just flat round glass ornaments and I drizzled paint into them, tilted them a bit to form patterns, then let them dry. The paint takes on a life of its own and just does what it wants at that point. I wish I had a photo of immediately-after-creating-them vs dried. They look a little different because the paint drips and mixes more.

The ornaments are a lesson in flexibility and letting go of control. Obviously I should make about 72 more ornaments so I get lots and lots of practice in letting go of control!

Since these were projects for the Art Day project swap, I no longer have them. Someone else gets to enjoy them!

Have you DIY’d any of your own holiday decorations? Or received a homemade decoration?

PS – Today is BFF Lauren’s birthday. Happy Birthday dear friend!

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