Thursday, December 18, 2014

Retirement :: Age 62 :: I have the very Best Daddy in the world.

He is the best man I know.
He loves me unconditionally.
He thinks I am exceptional.

My entire life, I thought all men worked 7 days a week.
I thought having more than 2 jobs was the norm for a Daddy.
I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world because I had a Dad like him.

He played baseball with us.
He took us for rides in the back of the pickup.
He went to all of our school conferences and came home and told us that we were very smart.

He took us to his parents farm in Swengel, Pennsylvania. 
He taught us to love the land.
He loved his Mom and Dad and helped them in every way that he could. 

He drove us to visit our Grandma near Pittsburgh.
He took us to church every Sunday night.
He splashed on Old Spice.

He has never needed new clothes or shoes.
He is frugal from head to toe.
He always smiles and makes people laugh.

He is genuinely kind.
He talks to the check out girl at the grocery store.
He showed me that every person matters.

Every person is important. 
Every person is loved by Jesus.
Every person gets a smile. 

He can spot a good deal from a mile away.
Name brand? No need.
Thrifty is the name of his game. 

He always made Christmas a big deal.
Every year he made sure we got something special.
He never felt like he gave us enough.

He gave us more than we ever needed.

What he gave me didn't come in a box with wrapping paper and ribbons.
There was no return receipt.
What he gave me was the best gift any parent can give their children.

My Daddy told us we were great kids.
Sometimes we were bad, but he still thought we were great.
Sometimes we were mean and ungrateful and rotten but we never doubted for one minute that we were loved. 

He built a dog house.
He built a chicken coop.
He built up my sister, my brother and myself. 

He was patient.
He was funny.
He was good.

He took us for pizza on Friday nights.
He took us to get haircuts at Five Star Haircuts in Quakertown.
He loved our mommy and he showed us every day. 

He told us we could do anything in the world.
He told us all to go to college.
He believed in us.

He called me every week.
He listened to my stories.
He sent me money.

He helped me when I ran out of money 
(and energy and hope.) 
He helped me when I wanted to help but didn't have anything with which to help.
He helped me shine my light. 

He loved the kids I worked with in the city.
There was never anyone I loved that he did not. 
When Kaish came, he welcomed him with open arms.

His first grandchild.
He loved him so.
He played with him and read him books.

He helped me buy him food and clothes. 
He said he would always help us.
And he has.

He is my greatest supporter.
He is my hero.
He is my Daddy.

Today he will retire and start a new journey.
Dear Daddy, I pray it will be an adventure like no other.

You are my heart.
You are my soul.
You are the best man in the world.

I love you. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Giving Back :: Twin Hill Santa :: Merry Christmas #TwinHillsSanta :: Alaska

Can you feel it?  This time of year there seems to be a little extra magic in the air, people seem to smile more, have longer conversations with people they don’t know, hold doors open and find ways to do more kind things for people.  People they may know or they may not.  Its the holidays!  

My friend Colleen, who happens to be a food blogger, had the idea to reach out to other bloggers as well as some of their collective contacts to pull off a fantastic holiday surprise for 21 children who live in a small remote village in Alaska where one can only get in or out by bush plane or a small boat via the rough Nushagak River. Over 20 bloggers from PA, NJ & DE jumped on board and #TwinHillsSanta began to take off.

A friend (Dani) of Colleen’s took a position in the village teaching this year, Dani didn’t know what to expect when she packed up and moved from Pennsylvania, however she has already fallen in love with the people, their culture and Alaska.

She has 16 students ages 4-13 and the village has 5 additional kids under 4. There are no places for the 76 residents to work or shop, so they live simply.  They don’t have much.  As a matter of fact while discussing Christmas and Santa recently one day in school, one of the younger kids said simply “Santa doesn’t come to Alaska.”  

Let that sink in for a second….

This year...these kids have one heck of a surprise in-store for them!!

We reached out to some of our contacts and I am so humbled and thrilled to share with you that they hopped right on board!  

Lee Jeans is sending clothes to the kids, those kids are going to be so excited and well dressed!!

CVS Pharmacy is sending all kinds of personal products from toothbrushes to scrubbies and body washes, & shampoos to chapsticks, candy, small toys and much more!

Nuby USA jumped in to send the younger children sippy cups, infant and toddler toothbrushes & toothpaste, toys and fun feeding plates & utensils!  

Tyrrells English Chips (who has the most fun website BTW)  sent cases of their crazy delicious chips - those kids are going to be happily crunching away with a new-to-them snack!

And speaking of snacks, Pretzel Crisps sent cases of their crazy-good pretzels - Boy are the kiddos in for a tasty treat! I see new fans just ahead!

Kind Snacks shipped some of their healthy AND tasty Kind Bars to the kids, those will get them pumped up and full of energy!

And DecoArt sent a bunch of craft supplies to the kids who I hear are LOVE making things and crafting any chance they get, they are going to be blown away!

How awesome are these 7 companies who said YES to pay-it-forward!  When stories like this reach my ears it makes me an even more loyal customer OR it makes me want to try/support a brand I am not familiar with!  Thank you all!

All of the bloggers involved made sure every kids will get a new pair of pajamas, hats, scarves, gloves and more!  Then additional friends, some bloggers and many not heard what was happening and either grabbed USPS flat rate boxes or hopped on Amazon to send stuff the kids way!

I can’t wait to share more specifics, which I will do in January once I get the intel from Dani as to how it all went.  The pilot who flies in and out of Twin Hills with deliveries won’t know what hit him and neither will the post office!  

Magic is in the air!!  When people come together...great things happen!

Thank you Lee Jeans, CVS Pharmacy, Nuby USA, Tyrrells English Crisps, Pretzel Crisps, Educational Insights, Kind Snacks and DecoArt for making THIS a very special Christmas for 21 children, who I know are going to be so very grateful!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Family :: The Creativity Project :: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” Mother Teresa

My family is my heart. 

If you only know one thing about me, know this: 
I love my family.

When we are together the voices get louder.
The hugs get longer.
The love grows.

We irritate, annoy, irk.
 Laugh, joke, kid.
 Talk, listen, leave.

These people are everything to me.
Absolutely everything.
I hope you have this too.
There is nothing like it in the world.

My parents did a great job raising us, 
because no matter where life takes us, 
we are always coming home. 

Next up in our circle is one of my very favorite photographers:
S. Badiyah Austin
Her work is outstanding.
I can't wait to see her take on our theme this month.
We would love for you to post a picture to our facebook wall any time during this month.