The Good

“…Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
-Max Ehrmann
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Even though it is hard to remember in times like this, there is STILL good in the world. Strive to be the good, spread the good and do the good. Only by doing this will we ever be able to drown out the evil. Be extra kind to each person you meet in the coming days. We’re all in this together.
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Love and light to the babies and families involved in the Connecticut shooting.  My heart is broken and I hold my own babies tonight with tears in my eyes.
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Merry Christmas Never Sounded So Sweet

This will be Big Brother’s 2nd Christmas. And even though he is almost 6 years old, this is the first time he has been able to actually sing a Christmas song. Nothing sweeter to my ears than this precious child who we were told would never talk! #miracleshappen

I dare you to watch and not smile…

Gifts for the Girly Trailblazer

Congratulations to commenter number 4, Mel, who is the winner of the $25 REI gift card!!  Thanks everyone for playing along. Happy Holidays!

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There are few places I’d rather be than in the woods on a quiet, muddy trail. Whether I’m hiking or taking a run, it’s the one place where I can clear my mind while feeding my body and soul. So if you are like me (or you’ve got a girl like me in your life) this post is for you. I thought I’d share some of my favorite trail gear with all of you lovely readers.  With the holiday season upon us, maybe you’ll be inspired with some gift ideas for the outdoorsy girl in your life.

HikerGifts

1. At the top we have the quick dry  Toaster Top and Liberty Pants from Stonewear Designs. Warning: these pieces of clothing are so awesome, functional and comfortable you will never want to take them off!  Stonewear Designs is a Colorado-based company comprised of a group of determined women who lead busy lives balancing time between family, friends, work, and play. They developed clothes that make women feel beautiful while performing under strenuous demands. They strive to fit and flatter every type of body with beautiful, durable clothing that will last for years. All Stonewear clothing is Made in the U.S.A.

2. Gypsum Mid Hiking Boots by KEEN.  The only brand of boots I wear on the trail! For years, KEEN has been keeping my feet happy and safe on the trail. ‘Nuff said.

3. SpeedCross 3 Trail Running shoes by Salomon.  I am in love with these awesome, lightweight but aggressive trail shoes that are perfect for muddy, mountainous terrain. I use these all the time and they are by far my faves!

4. I don’t own one of these battery-operated mobile power devices yet, but I really want to try one! They seem like a perfect gadget to have handy on a long hike or backpacking trip.  Especially if you are like me and snap photos on the trail with your iphone.

And since it’s the season to spread the love, I’m going to do another giveaway today. I’m going to give one lucky reader a $25 gift card to REI.  Oh yes I am!  All you have to do is…

1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite outdoor activity and whether or not you’d be happy to receive any of these gifts above.

2. For one extra entry, go like my facebook page.  Come back here and leave another comment telling me you did so (or tell me if you already are a fan.)

3. For one more entry, tweet about the giveaway, including a link to this post and make sure to mention me, @hikemama. Then come back here and leave a comment telling me you tweeted.

sample tweet: Gifts for the Girly Trailblazer and a $25 gift card giveaway to REI! http://wp.me/phD5i-2jB @hikemama

That’s it!  Good luck and happy trails. One lucky reader will be randomly chosen on Saturday, December 15.

psst–check out my other open giveaway here!

Science and Nature for Kids {Nature-Inspired Christmas Tree Ornaments}

One of the things that I love most about Christmas since becoming a mom is watching my children not only decorate the tree, but make their own ornaments to use as well.  On our tree you will see a mix of sentimental hand-me-downs, glass ornaments and ornaments  lovingly made by the kids.  This year, however, I wanted to add a touch of nature to the tree.  One of the kid-friendly projects that we really enjoyed was making ornaments from some natural items we had on hand in the kitchen.  With a bag of oranges, some cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, acorns and twine, we came up with these beautiful ornaments!

Nature Christmas Craft

For the oranges, you can slice them thinly or you can use the peel to make a design.  Take all of your orange creations and place in a warm oven (lowest temperature possible) for several hours to dry.  To keep the oranges from sticking to your baking sheet, I recommend laying them down on a piece of cheesecloth.  You might also want to lay something on top of the peels to keep them from curling up while drying (I used the metal lid part of a mason jar for mine.) Keep a close eye on them and make sure to remove from the heat immediately if they begin to brown.

Stay tuned for some more nature-inspired Christmas crafts!

Gifts that Give Back (and a giveaway for you!)

Contest Closed:  The winner is commenter number 23, Danielle!  Thanks for playing along, and congratulations!

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for any length of time, you probably already know that I love products that do good.  I’ve always been a fan of fair trade items as well as items that support charity. So this holiday season, I’ve come up with a list of gifts you can feel good about giving to the loved ones in your life.  These are gifts that truly give twice.

Gifts that GiveHere’s how you can shop with purpose this year (clockwise from top):

1. The scarf above is from a company I support, Trades of Hope.  Trades of Hope empowers women out of poverty by selling their fair trade crafts. You can shop for this scarf and other great fair trade items here.

2. These darling shoes are made by a company called Sole Rebels, who sell fair trade shoes that are hand made in Ethiopia. You can purchase these and tons of other great shoes by visiting their online store.

3.  Shot@Life is a campaign that aims to provide childhood vaccines to the millions of children around the globe who desperately need them.  By purchasing this water bottle from their online store, you are helping them accomplish their goal.

4. This hand made change purse is hand crafted  by women in Kenya.  The sale of these hand made items provides not only income to the families of these women, but supports the education of their special needs children!!  You can purchase these here.

5. Coffee!  Who doesn’t need an extra cup of coffee?  It will taste even more delicious knowing that it provides clean water to those in Africa.  100% of the net proceeds from Three Avocados coffee provide clean water in Uganda.  Purchase your coffee that does good here.

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Want to win the beautiful Trades of Hope scarf pictured above?  I have one to give away to a lucky reader!  All you have to do is….

1. You must leave a comment on this post telling me if you would ever purchase any of the items above to give as gifts.  That’s it!

2. For one extra entry, you can tweet about this giveaway (here’s something you can copy and paste):

Gifts that Do Good and a Giveaway! Enter today to win. @hikemama @CTCKENYA @nonprofitcoffee @soleRebels @ShotAtLife http://wp.me/phD5i-2jo

3. For one extra entry, go “like” my Trades of Hope facebook page (or tell me if you already do.)

Make sure you leave a comment for each of the above.  Giveaway will close December 12th.  Good luck!

On This World AIDS Day, Fight to End Pediatric AIDS

actaware-logo-colourIn honor of World AIDS Day (Saturday, December 1,) I’ve been very busy advocating for the tiniest victims of the AIDS epidemic–the children.  This is an issue that is very near and dear to my heart.  I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to use my voice to inform, educate and empower others about this important cause.  Just today, I have had two articles published.

So now I’ll direct you to my article published in my local paper– Let’s Help Prevent HIV Transmission

And also to my post on World Moms Blog– AIDS: The End Is In Sight

If you’d like to do something….I mean really do something, I’m going to give you an easy way to get involved. Go to A Mother’s Fight to help end pediatric AIDS.  90% of child infections are due to transmission from mother to child. Let’s end pediatric AIDS in our generation by donating to help mothers receive testing and treatment. Your donation WILL save lives.  Join the fight today.

tn

globalteamI wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

My Babies, My Life

I’ll admit it.  My blog has been quite boring lately.  I’ve been trying to squeeze out posts that are important to me, but then everything else gets left sitting around in my head, destined to be forgotten in the shuffle of life.  And reading other blogs?  Oh I’m so very, very behind.  I love reading and commenting on other blogs but I’m afraid all of that has taken a back seat to the happenings in my “real life.”

So what exactly have I been doing lately?  Well, I  have begun leading an advocacy group in my community that will work to create social change through interactions with members of congress and the media.  It’s a lot of work, but something I am deeply passionate about.  I’ll have some more exciting details to share about that soon.

But we’re also knee-deep in trauma/adoption/autism issues with Big Brother.  We are finally, however, finding the light at the end of the tunnel and are finally in a good place.  For the last couple of months, things were pretty rough.  Flashbacks, regression and constant violent outbursts dominated our days and nights. I’m not in a place right now to even begin to put my thoughts into words about all that has transpired, but I will at some point in time.

It’s just part of the job.  In fact, here’s a great post by another adoptive mother that sums up my thoughts exactly and might give you some insight into why we keep marching happily along in times of great darkness.

So what exactly am I rambling about today?  Well, I guess I just wanted to a chance to show off my babies.  After all, they are the reason I awake each morning with a smile on my face and the reason I advocate for those around the globe who have no voice.  They put the passion in my heart.  So excuse me while I do the mom thing and drown my blog with their cuteness 🙂

Giving Tuesday: A National Day of Giving

In America,  you would be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t know what the words Black Friday and Cyber Monday mean.  These words are now infused into our cultural identity and  have become the official  kickoff to the holiday shopping season.  Now don’t get me wrong, giving can be nice (and if you would like to give gifts that do good–then it’s twice as nice!)  But a new campaign to urge Americans to not only give, but give back, is launching on a grand scale this year.

It’s called Giving Tuesday.  And you can be a part of it!

“The goal is to launch a day of giving at the start of the annual holiday shopping season and to show that holiday shopping can be about both giving and giving back.

People everywhere,including retailers, charities, online organizations, community centers, individuals, families and more, will come together with one common purpose ‐‐ to help others and incentivize ways to give more, give smarter, and celebrate the great American spirit of contribution.

Giving Tuesday is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.”

Sounds pretty good, huh?  So let’s spread the word and add one more day to our holiday vocabulary.  Go to http://givingtuesday.org/ to learn more.

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So how are we going to recognize Giving Tuesday around here?  I’m not really sure yet.  I’m going to call a family meeting tonight and see what we can do.  Although we have many charities and organizations that we like to support, I think we will focus on our local community this Giving Tuesday.  Here are some ideas I’m brewing in my head at the moment:

  • donate some of our children’s books to the local library
  • collect food donations to take to our local animal shelter
  • collect food and clothing donations for our local organization that helps families in need
  • donate toys to local families in need this Christmas

What ideas do you have?  Will you celebrate Giving Tuesday along with me?!  Please help by spreading the word and let’s make this a yearly tradition. I’ll report back later this week and let you know how we did!  I also want to share some holiday pictures of the family, so stay tuned….

 

I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

Give Hope This Year: Buy Fair Trade Gifts

This year, skip the Black Friday crowds and stores.  Instead, shop with purpose this holiday season by purchasing handmade, fair trade gifts.  These gifts truly give twice.  You see, each purchase helps  women in developing nations obtain economic stability. Be a part of helping women out of slums, sweat shops, the sex trade and extreme poverty by buying their Fair Trade products. These are products with a purpose!

I’m so excited to be partnering with Trades of Hope to help sell these amazing, handmade items from around the globe.

 

Each artisan has a story to tell of hardship, adversity and hope:

Helping women looks good on you.  Choose to give hope this year.  To read more artisan stories and to learn more about Trades of Hope including how to shop, go to my Trades of Hope site.

Get a Job, Take a Hike: how to make sure everyone in the family enjoys the trail

Yesterday we took a leisurely hike through a nearby state park. Although the park is quiet and full of kid-friendly trails, it’s hardly the landscape that epic adventures are made of.  But it ended up being one of the best hikes we’ve ever taken together. We had no agenda and no timeline.  We just wanted to share some peaceful time together in the woods.  To ensure that everyone would have a fun, fuss-free hike, we assigned each child a “job.” As our kids are growing older, I find myself continually brainstorming new ways to make sure our hikes stay fun and upbeat. Read on to see how we did it on our last hike!

Little Man took on the role of our fearless trail leader (his most favorite job of all) and Big Brother was the keeper of the leaves (again, a job he loves.)  Little Man led the way and Big Brother collected leaves and strung them on a shoestring.  One of his favorite ways to play is to put beads on strings, so he was estactic!

The boys had a blast and enjoyed every single moment on the trail.  We ended with a picnic and a rock-jumping competition in the creek.
Fallen trees make the best playground, don’t you agree?
Happy kiddos make for a happy mommy and daddy.
We’ll count this as a successful and fun fall hike!
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