Archive for January, 2012

A Get – Give Guide to Charity

So you believe in supporting your community and you want your kids to develop a strong habit of giving. What’s that?… your kids can detect an extra 100 bucks in the budget with subliminal stealth and will blow a hole in their running shoes or loose a filling just to get their fair share. Good, your kids are just like mine – money sponges!

Families without bottomless bank accounts have to get a little creative in their efforts to support charity. We have to give things that don’t cost or better yet, use someone else’s money to make a difference. Lucky for us, there is no shortage of other people’s money to be found and free is only limited by your imagination…

Spend your Points… It seems that every store has a points/reward program of some sort or another. Do your shopping, collect your points and spend them a few times a year on food bank donations. Any house hold with teenagers can practically feed another family with their points!

It’s In You To Give… For the grown-ups in the house, one hour every 56 days can save 3 lives. It costs you nothing, is as easy as getting your car’s oil changed and really is tangible. I used to think only accident victims needed blood, until my friend got cancer, now I really understand the everyday need… and you get a free cookie!

Pass it On… This is one that the vast majority of families do. As our kids out grow life we pass things along. Don’t forget women’s shelters and immigration programs, when you get new house hold items. Somebody setting up from scratch will really appreciate those towels that don’t match your bathroom anymore.

Finders keepers… Your kids are going to protest this one, I promise. Found money is not your money. If you can’t readily identify the victim of loss, stick the funds in the first charity box you find. Yes, everything from nickels to sawbucks go in the box, there are no exceptions. Yes, there may even be tears.

Save Paper… Many schools and churches collect grocery tapes and soup labels which they later submit to the retailer for cash. If your school or church does not do this, find one that does. My Gran used to stuff my mother’s teapot with her tapes for our school. I think she funded the new gymnasium.

Give one free… When you run into that buy one get one free deal… Do it! There is always a home for free. Free socks can go the homeless shelter, free beans can go to the food bank, free $5.00 gift cards for coffee and sandwich shops can be handed to someone looking for a hot meal. Free gas (yes it happens occasionally) can be tucked quietly in the mail box of a family who could use a hand with medical travel expenses.

Win – Win… Roll the rim, scratch to win, peel & play. Win a coffee, a doughnut, a smoothie, a sandwich, some fries? Keep those winning tabs handy in your purse or car to pass along. You’ll know who could use a smile or a hot drink or some nutrition.

It’s about time… The most ‘free’ thing we have to give and very often the most needed is our time. Volunteer, there are no shortages of positions and it is surprisingly easy to volunteer as a family. Special events, festivals and charity events are a short commitment and love family volunteer participation. Choose an event with meaning to your family, it connects everyone to their job.

Cha-ching… That 12 cents you get back from your large coffee everyday adds up to $43.80 over the course of a year. Put the 12 cents in the charity box every day and you’ve made a pretty good donation.

Funny Money… Save those Canadian Tire dollars for the year. In December add it all up and take the family shopping for a toy (or toys – if you your husband has done exceptional collecting) Deliver to the local toy drive.

Cash in… Taking the empties back to the beer store? Stick the proceeds into the charity box. Remember liquor bottles are refundable too. Some of us have an opportunity to make a significant impact!

Spread the word… Don’t kid yourself, people are listening. If you hear about an event or charity that needs support, pass it on. Maybe you can’t fund a project but you can get the information to someone who is able. News travels fast, be part of the good rumour mill.

When you start looking, free opportunities to do good are everywhere! If you need help identifying them, ask your money sponges. They can smell and opportunity just as well as $100!

What ways have you found to make a daily difference with your family?

You can also find Michelle at her blog The Space Between Raindrops, sharing wisdom, gratitude and humour.

Get Real

Well, my very first post for Best Tools for School. I’ve spent a few restless nights trying to determine just what this first piece should look like. I want to make a good first impression after all; I’m hoping we’ll be friends. Those restless nights, a few fruitless attempts to write amidst the chaos of a barking dog, the smoke detector and a carpet cleaning session netted me little more than two pages of think notes. The best I could do was “The dishwasher, a how to guide for teenagers” not really a first encounter conversation.

By Sunday morning, still coming up short, I desperately believed that my dishwasher tips might be just what you were in for. Thank goodness I put down my laptop and went to hockey practice, and thank goodness we sat next to The King of the World. Lessons exist everywhere in life; the hockey rink observation lounge is not an exception to this rule. I was there and I learned a big one.

The King of the World enlightened my husband for 58 minutes on everything from his star athlete children to his world travels and back again to his thriving businesses, superior management style, athletic prowess and convening skills. I heard my husband say 3 phrases in those 58 minutes… “hi”, “for sure” and “wow.” The whole time my bull-crap detector was alarming in my brain, it kept screaming “get real, get real” and I knew what this first post should be about.

Getting real.

We are living in a world of experts; a person cannot escape Facebook shrinks, TV reality gurus, twitter-sperts, even hockey rink life coaches. Everywhere you turn there is someone waiting with ‘the answers to life’, the ‘how to’ and the ‘what you are doing wrong’.
As a parent the only thing I long to hear is the mom in the checkout line ahead of me, say right out loud to her screaming child… “You are making me nuts, I’m not cut out for this job and right now, what I would like to do is hand you to this nice lady behind the counter in fair trade for a bag of milk and a box of tampons.” I want to hear it because I’ve been there. I would high five her and tell her that she was doing a great job – being real. I might have been a much better mom in the early years if someone had looked me straight in the eye and said. “Your kids are going to do things like take the plug out of the waterbed and go swimming while you have coffee with the neighbour.” I would not been so hard on myself when it happened. I would have cut myself some slack.

So get real I decided…. so here is some of my motherhood reality.

Most days I show up to my office gig wrinkled and smiling. I have no time for ironing and I’ve spent my Botox money on juvenile dental work and eye glasses. Our dog has eaten all of my shoes except for an unstylish pair of boots that pretty much dictate my pantsuit each day.

For the first 3 years of our oldest daughter Rebecca’s academic career she produced art work not suitable for public display; believing that lady stick people were better represented by breasts than tiny triangle stick skirts. Breasts have nipples, if you subscribe to realism, they have to be there. Nipples are unisex…nipples for everyone!

Our youngest teenage daughter Kate is brilliant and could care less. Exams are coming this week, she will not study, and she will not worry. She will successfully skate by with a 50% in math, avoid summer school and join the rest of us at the cottage. If I could finance her way, she would escape my nagging tomorrow by travelling to build schools half way around the world. She claims humanitarian desires, I sense desperation.

Ethan, our 10 year old son thinks that watching the movie is just as effective as reading the book. He would rather write fart jokes than book reports and is determined despite my resistance, to turn me into a hockey mom. On a side note, he suffers from emotional migraines and will throw up on your shoes if you talk about the Mayan Calendar.

We eat in the living room at least one day a week, the girls rarely wear matching socks and I make them do their own laundry. I hide pots and dishes in the stove when the doorbell rings and I don’t do spa days with my mother. I make rules that my kids ignore, forget dentist appointments and buy birthday cakes. I am my husband’s greatest source of comic relief. There is not a Disney movie that has not brought me to tears and sometimes I lock myself in the bathroom with the water running so that I cannot hear my children bicker.
That’s real.

None of us wants to be that guy, The King of The World. Heck, I don’t think that guy even wanted to be himself. I certainly don’t want to be that guy. I would much rather be a Mom keeping it real so that other moms can feel like a success when their child lays down in the middle of the dance recital and professes her boredom for all the world to hear. I want to be that mom who looks other moms in the eye and tells them to embrace the x-rated art work because 10 years down to road when you are standing in a gallery admiring that same child’s exhibition, you will have those boobies to look back on and laugh about. I know. It has happened to me.

Here’s to new friends, I’m looking forward to getting real together.

You can also find Michelle at here blog The Space Between Raindrops, sharing wisdom, gratitude and humour.


Candace also blogs for
the Yummy Mummy Club!