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*UPDATE* Great news! Remember the twins that I mentioned down there, in the orginal post? Well, Keith & Angela welcomed Athena Catherine & Luke James to the family on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. Scroll down for pics of the babies! Warning: They are *really* cute!

 

 

First & foremost, I’m not a Lance Armstrong fan. But I love my brother, Keith.

This is Keith and his wife, Angela

Keith & Angela at his medical school graduation

This is my Mom

Mom at the Louvre

You’re on your own for a Lance picture.

Mom’s been fighting ovarian cancer for almost 13 years (!!!). Keith has ridden for the last three years in the LIVESTRONG Challenge. The LIVESTRONG Challenge benefits the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The foundation strives to raise cancer awareness and funds to help inspire & empower those affected by cancer (it kills me to type his name it really, really does but I’ll get over it since it*is* for a good cause.).

Keith will be riding again this year in October: a 100-mile ride outside of Austin, TX. He’s put together a two-man team with his friend, Jonathan Chapelle. The team is named Osteofight (Keith & Chapelle met in medical school & are currently Orthopaedic Surgery residents {but will he look at his aging sister’s bum knee? No, he will not}). If you’re interested in riding with them, e-mail me & I’ll forward your information to Keith.

The kids & I will be donating our July, August and September $30 Challenge funds to the cause. And remember it’s not because I love Lance Armstrong but because we love my brother & my Mom. Plus we love Angela, Keith’s wife. This is important to add because when Keith goes to ride this year in Austin, he will be leaving his lovely wife and their newborn twins. Twins that will be two, maybe three weeks old. So go visit Keith’s Livestrong page and if you can, please make a donation to help Keith meet his fundraising goal. I’d love to see Keith make his goal both to honor my Mom & make it worth Angela’s (and those precious twins) while.

Thanks a million for your consideration. And thanks to me for temporarily suspending my dislike of that Lance Armstrong to write this post. Now scoot on over to Keith’s page & help him out. You’re a doll. But mostly, thank you. 🙂

Proud Dad

Keith and babies

Athena

Athena       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke

Luke Yawning

trike-a-thonLittle bit of catch-up. Honestly, we took care of the last three months in the last week. We missed our March deadline looking for the perfect cause, nothing we ran into struck our fancy. April was strikingly similar.  So for May we had lump sum of $90 to spend on someone else.  Not a bad spot to be in.  All of the sudden in the last few days we found two great causes to support. 

At Patrick’s preschool, the four-year-old classes were taking part in St. Jude’s Trike-A-Thon.  Preschools around the country take part in the event that helps educate the children about bike safety while raising money to support St. Jude’s childhood disease research efforts. It was a unanimous vote for us to use our May funds to support Patrick’s ‘ride’.

We then stumbled upon a fund-raising effort by mystery writer Laurie R. King tied to the release of her book, The Language of Bees. By donating at least the equivalent of two beehives ($60) to Heifer International, you would receive among other things, a pot of honey from a Heifer International community. The kids were intrigued by tasting the honey & as luck would have it we had $60 to spend. So just like* that* in the span of a few days, we were back to caught up on our $30 challenge. Whew.

If you’ve read the $30 Challenge  entries here on the blog, you’ll know that one of our favorites is Epic Change.  We are huge fans of the work Epic Change is doing to support a growing school in Tanzania. Of course, I’m also a fan of being passionate about something and I love the passion Stacey Monk puts into her baby, Epic Change. Simply put: she’s brave & caring & inspiring. Okay, enough gushing (well, for now).  I love that I have the chance to share with you a way to help Epic Change win $10,ooo. The plan for the money is to build a technology lab for Mama Lucy’s school in Tanzania. So take a break from the facebook quizzes and use your clicking for good versus vapid.

Vote for Epic Change here: at their IdeaBlob entry or on the front page of Ideablob.  If you’ve never voted at the site, they will need you to register with an e-mail address so they can send out a registration confirmation, that way your vote will be counted. Voting ends on May 31st. I hope you’ll find a minute to support one of our favorite causes. Think of all the people that could benefit from your vote. Remind me how many benefit from learning your perfect New York City neighborhood or your five favorite anythings or your pirate/hippie/Star Trek name? Right. So scoot, go vote!

 

This blog post is part of Zemanta’s Blogging For a Cause campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

Just a brief little update on our $30 Challenge. The classroom that got it all started is finished! Check out the pictures here  The kids were so excited to see my Twitter name,@cara19, on the wall of the classroom representing our donation. You can spot the @cara19 on the wall under the blue ‘This Classroom Built With Gratitude. Thank You:’ And though it shouldn’t be the only reason for looking at the pictures the kids were, well, stoked (for lack of a 21st century word) to see it in so many pictures. It’s gratifying for all of us to see the students working in the classroom.  Now we just have to get those books to Tanzania for the library (suggestions on shipping packages to Africa accepted & appreciated)…

In the meantime, there’s Tweetluck.  Another great way to help Mama Lucy’s school. And I also got to revel in what I hoped would come from our $30 challenge. I asked Carol Anne if she thought we should be Lucky People ($7.77 donation) or Lucky Stars ($7.77/month for a year). Initially, she liked the name Lucky Stars (seriously,what did I expect, asking a 7 year old?).  She thought the single donation of $7.77 would be good enough. For some reason, she thought the monthly commitment was a bit much.  I asked her how she’d feel if all we had to do was give-up eating out just *once* a month to participate as a Lucky Star. Can I tell you how much I love to see her brain at work? Her answer to that was to give-up 3 meals at restaurants and go for the monthly commitment! How did I get so *lucky* to have such a great kid? Consider it done! So we’re Lucky Stars. Officially (I already thought we were, but now it’s in writing).

How lucky are you? Go share your luck & love. http://www.tweetluck.org

 

 

P.S. I found out that Carol Anne’s reluctance to donate monthly was due to the fact that she thought it would come from our $30 monthly challenge budget. Once she found out we could participate and still do the monthly $30 Challenge, she was as they say in Texas hold ’em: all in.

Since it’s March & I’m clearly running a bit behind I thought I’d just combine January & February to streamline things.

January

We had big plans for this month’s challenge. Then I found out it’s a bad idea to mess with bees when they are cold. Had no idea. Good information to have on file, though. So the original plan for January has been moved to March or April. I’ll save the details for then. It”s going to be a fun one. Stay tuned..

So that being said, we had to change gears quickly once we found out our plans had to be scratched. So we decided to go ahead and finish up what we started back in November with Tweetsgiving and Epic Change.  Turns out our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. As we were deciding what to do with our $30 this month I saw a tweet about  some test results at Mama Lucy’s school. As it turns out the school placed #1 out of 117 schools in their district on their national exams! (you can read all about it here) Carol Anne felt it would be great to celebrate by buying books for the school’s library. Originally, she wanted to send a copy of The Princess and the Pea and Patrick was dead-set on a book about cars. However, faced with all the choices at Borders (seriously, I think almost every children’s book in the store was considered as a choice) changes were made and another old favorite made the cut. Patrick went with a book all about the Arctic and Antarctica. Carol Anne couldn’t resist Kevin Henkes’ Chrysanthemum (one that has been read over & over at bedtime around this house) . I picked out a read-aloud version of Stuart Little and we all decided on a copy of Mercer Mayer’s I Was So Mad. So once we get the logistics figured out, four new books will be on their way to Tanzania along with love and good wishes from Texas.

February

Carol Anne turned seven this month (don’t get me started!). So as per the rules of the $30 Challenge, it was her choice as to where we donated our little sum. We went local and global and had a small field trip. She chose The Pangea Network Local: headquartered in The Woodlands. Global: Their mission is to support women economically & socially in Kenya & the Holy Land. Field trip: the Pangea Network offices are located down the hall from my yoga studio. So in between yoga & lunch, the kids & I met with Nicole Minor.  Nicole is the Executive Director of The Pangea Network  and one of the greatest women around. Nicki took time to explain to the kids how microloans work, why women especially need economic support in developing countries. She & Carol Anne discussed the different ways a woman might so to help support her family. The kids also got to look at some of the incredible pictures Nicki has taken on her travels. They were especially taken with the handmade soccer balls & the dirt floors in the homes. I made sure they took a minute to check out the map of Africa,so we could get a visual idea of where these people are. Nicki was kind enough to share a handcrafted necklace with Carol Anne & a beaded keychain with Patrick. The kids are looking forward to visiting with Nicki again soon once she returns from her current trip to the Holy Land & Kenya.

We’ve got four months behind us in our $30 challenge.  The kids, especially Carol Anne, are really enjoying it & on the look out for new opportunities. The March project has been in the planning stages since December. At the beginning of our challenge, I said I didn’t want to dictate the path of the project. But here’s the beauty part: The kids are enjoying it & talking about it(she told her class at school all about it today when she wore her African necklace to school). So all I can say is that I hope the challenge stretches past a year and becomes less of a challenge and just a good habit.

Honestly, December could have easily been a no brainer. There are lots of choices everywhere you look. And though I know absolutely nothing about charitable giving trends, I would guess that numbers inch up just a bit during the holiday season. If I’m wrong, someone feel free to set me straight and let me know how it works. I may need the information for a game of Trivial Pursuit or just to spout off a random bit of  information that comes seemingly out of nowhere. Not the point.

We toyed with lots of ideas for our December challenge. Lo & behold we were delivered from our quandary by cable television. (this is where I need a good emoticon for eye rolling) We saw a commercial (of all things!) for The Great Sprout Tuck-in. Sprout has formed a partnership with the Pajama Project to provide new books and pajamas for children in need. The Pajama Project operates nationwide and many of their pajamas & goodnight books go to children in foster care. For the first year of The Great Sprout Tuck-in, Sprout will match donations for up to 100,000 children in need. Not a bad deal. Again, since one of our goals of the $30 Challenge is that the donation be something the kids can relate to, this was our December no brainer. My kids are  big fans of the get-into-jammies-and-Mom-read-stories routine. We practically jumped in the car and left for Target immediately.

Now here is the part I have come to love about this little challenge, even in the short time we’ve been doing it. Inevitably, we get to work on other lessons while getting our donation taken care of. This go round: the kids got a big lesson in making your money go farther. Carol Anne first picked out a lovely pair of Nick & Nora jammies for $14.99. She was thrilled with her choice so off we wandered to the boys’ section for Patrick to make his selection. Easy-peasy: a two pack of dinosaur jammies for $14.99.  Instantly, Carol Anne’s brow furrows: Patrick’s getting two pairs. So we had a brief lesson on how we were spending 30 dollars, they each got 15 dollars to spend, Patrick’s pick was the same amount of dollars but more jammies.  I swear a little lightbulb appeared above her head: Can I pick again? So we ended up with 4 brand new pairs of jammies to send to The Great Sprout Tuck-in. The Christmas miracle: neither child asked for a pair of pajamas for themselves.  (This trip. Baby steps…)

All in all, everyone was very pleased with our December choice for the challenge. Now when we see the commercial on Sprout, we have to rewind it and talk about the jammies we sent in and lots of , look, look we did that. And sometimes the jammies conversation leads to a reminisence of the November challenge and then, when are we going to pick for January. This is all quickly followed by an announcement that Carol Anne gets to pick for February since it is her birthday month*.   Maybe not all commercials are evil.

 Jammies for The Great Sprout Tuck-in

 

*She’s right, one of the rules is that most months we pick the charity together, but in your birthday month, you’re in charge. In charge of picking the charity. Let’s clear that up not,  ‘In Charge’-in charge

Well, Thanksgiving is over now. All the turkey has been eaten and packed away for leftovers. It is now officially the Christmas shopping/decorating/celebrating season. This year in our house, we were inspired to start a new tradition. Last Wednesday I started seeing tweets (Twitter posts) about Tweetsgiving. I looked into it and was instantly intrigued. The idea was to raise $10,000 in 48 hours to add a classroom on to a school in Tanzania. Ten dollars bought one brick: 1000 bricks=new classroom. The money was raised before noon on Thursday and all the additional donations were allocated to the new library that is also needed at the school.  I immediately sold the kids on the idea that for only $30 ($10 for each of us) we would be donating some*thing*, literally, a concrete thing. It was easy for them to see how their dollars could help someone else, even all the way around the world.  We were especially touched by Glory’s story. Realizing how one shoe could keep a child from going to school really hit home with my daughter. We often have ‘discussions’ in the mornings about which shoes to wear, which ones feel funny, is it a P.E. day, do I have to wear tennis shoes or can I wear my Crocs, ad nauseaum or ad put-some-shoes-on-or-you’ll-be-sorry-ium. Lots of words about shoes, yet we then pile into the car and she is chauffeured to school, walked in by her mother to start her school day. Carol Anne could really start to see her privilege. I felt it was a good way for them to see that charitable donations have a destination. So anyways, a new tradition was born.

We have decided that each month we will donate our small amount to a cause. It will be a cause/organization that the kids can grasp the concept and *see* where their money goes. I’m planning for us to keep a journal of each donation & maybe have the kids draw a picture or something about the donation or where it’s going or who they think it will be helping. December is clearly an easy time to get this going. We have a short list of charities to investigate. Ideally, I would prefer that we deal with smaller, more grassroots-type organizations. Though regardless of the size of the organization, I want the donation to have a tangible purpose, i.e. the bricks, a group of chicks, to a fund to teach something. I’d prefer the donations not just go into some sort of amorphous general fund. In the coming months we’re going to consider: The Kokua Hawaii Foundation, The Pangea Network, & Microplace. Of course, Epic Change will probably be a default if we can’t decide on something new. Carol Anne would really like to send a copy of The Princess & The Pea to Mama Lucy’s school…

So this is going to be our small foray into the world of charitable giving. The amount is small but manageable. If we want to increase it one month it’ll will be a treat, but otherwise it’s a number we can live with month after month.  It is my hope that the kids will grow to be more appreciative of the bounty that they already have and enjoy finding ways to share.  I don’t want to make predictions or layer this adventure with expectation about where this may lead, but rather start the journey with our $30 challenge and see where it takes us.