Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Many Hands

Livy's Hope Kids Crew
Question – What do you do with 20 kids, a bunch of craft supplies, and over a hundred bottles of hand lotion, shower gel and other frilly things?
Answer – You make memories, messes and some very happy mothers.
This past Saturday was the second meeting of the Livy’s Hope Kids Crew. The Kids Crew was started by Hailey Scheinman, the spunky and inspirational spokesgirl for Livy's Hope. According to Hailey, “The Kids Crew is a group of kids that do good things for children with medical needs and their families. They help places the children’s hospitals, the Ronald McDonald House(RMH) and more.” It is a group of elementary school aged kids who want to help make the world a better place. They have monthly meetings, complete with an agenda, an activity and of course, a snack.  The purpose of the Kids Crew is to teach kids the value of giving back. To let them know that even though they are young, they can still make a difference; to show them that when you work together, you can do great things.

And great things they did!

At Saturday’s meeting, the kids learned about RMH and how they help families whose children are in the hospital. Then the kids got busy! They split into two groups. Half of them started at the craft table where they made cute flower bookmarks out of craft sticks, foam flowers and adhesive jewels. The other half of the kids took to the back porch to stuff gift bags, assembly line style, with hand lotions, shower gel, manicure kits and other mom friendly goodies. Then the groups traded places. In less than an hour the kids made 80 bookmarks and stuffed 80 gift bags. The bags were also filled with chocolates and cake pops (courtesy of Painted and Sprinkled). The bags are Mother’s Day gifts for the moms staying at RMH.
It was wonderful to see these kids working together on this project. These are great kids who have big hearts. And they are learning valuable lessons about giving back to those in need. The parents of many of the kids were also in attendance on Saturday. It was great to have extra hands to help guide the process. I know that all of the parents are so proud of their kids.

The kids voted to choose which one of three organizations would be their next project. They chose from Operation Smile, Children's Hospice, and Wheelchairs 4 Kids. They learned a little bit about what each of these organizations do and about the kids that they serve. The kids chose Wheelchairs 4 Kids and I can’t wait to see what amazing things they will do. They raised over $600 in their first fundraiser, a bake sale and yard sale. When these kids get together, anything is possible!

They say that many hands make light work. In the case of the Kids Crew, many kids' hands do good works.

For more pictures of Saturday’s events and to learn more about Livy’s Hope, please visit their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/livyshope

Monday, April 21, 2014

Because of Taylor – My Messy Beautiful

This post is part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

My Messy Beautiful……gee, where do I start? I can think back to so many times in my life where this would apply.

Messy – married at 20, divorced at 29
Beautiful – 2 amazing kids who are now amazing young adults.
Messy – single mom trying to raise two small kids on one small paycheck.
Beautiful – found a confidence in myself that I never had (plus I met my now husband of 15 years while playing with my kids in the parking lot in front of my apartment).

Messy – having a child with a congenital brain malformation that has caused epilepsy and multiple disabilities.
Beautiful – having a child with a congenital brain malformation that has caused epilepsy and multiple disabilities.

Taylor was born September 11, 2004. From early on in her life, I knew that something was not right. She was my third child and I knew what to expect. She wasn’t smiling, wasn’t making eye contact. She wasn’t meeting any milestones. She was inconsolable most days. Doctors called it colic. I knew better.

When you first discover that you have a child with special needs you experience something similar to the mourning process. You go through different phases, starting with denial. Next there is anger, then depression. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t cry. It was messy.
The final stage in the mourning process is acceptance and when I finally accepted the fact that I had a child with special needs, it was beautiful.

Taylor is my messy beautiful.

Taylor is messy in so many ways….the drooling, the diapers, the mess she makes when she eats. When she plays with toys, she would rather put them in her mouth or throw them. More often than not, she puts it in her mouth AND throws it. On those occasions, the toy usually lands in some remote under the couch wasteland that hasn’t been graced by a vacuum in months. Now that’s messy.

Speaking of vacuums, have you seen my house? It’s a mess! One of the many things I have come to accept with Taylor is there really isn’t enough time in the day. My home has definitely suffered and is in no way shape or form Martha Stewart ready. I do manage to get in the basics; the kitchen is clean and the laundry is done. The toilets get a swish of bowl cleaner on a regular basis and the floors get vacuumed and mopped. Maybe not as often as I like, but enough to keep the varmints away!
I too, am a mess. My hair is in desperate need of a cut and color. The nail polish on my toes is at least 3 months old. I can usually count on at least one day a week if not more, that I show up to work with some remnant of Taylor’s breakfast on my clothes. And in those times when we’re going through a difficult time with Taylor, I usually show up to work with most of my makeup washed away by tears.

Yes, because of Taylor, my life is a mess. But it is also so much more than that.
Because of Taylor I have found a renewed faith in God. I have found peace that can only be found through prayer.

Because of Taylor I have found a church home.
Because of Taylor I have made many wonderful new friends.

Because of Taylor I have found strength and courage that I never knew I had.
Because of Taylor I love my husband more than I could ever imagine.

Because of Taylor I have learned that there is more joy and hope to be found in helping others than in focusing on your own pain and struggles.
Because of Taylor, I have come to appreciate every smile, every laugh, and every small milestone.

Because of Taylor, I have learned that life is not perfect. Never has been. Never will be.
Because of Taylor, I have learned that, although life is not perfect, it is beautiful.

Because of Taylor....I AM MESSY BEAUTIFUL!