Good Deeds 2012: Week 17 Coupons to Troops

Good Deed: Registered to adopt a family through Coupons To Troops.

Did you know that troops stationed overseas can use coupons up to six months past their expiration date? Me neither until I saw it in a magazine (while I was giving blood - one good deed leads to another!) a couple of months ago.

I went through a very short period of trying to cut coupons and did an alright job saving money. But, it was really time consuming and I found that I was often compromising on my goals to feed my family mostly organic, unprocessed foods. That was right around the time that I learned I could send expired coupons to military families. So, I've been holding onto them and created a little stock pile of the extra coupons I didn't use and those that had expired. Last week I finally registered for a family who can use these coupons through Coupons To Troops. You can either sign up to adopt a family for a full year or for a one-time mailing.

I cut all the coupons from the newspaper inserts that I've been hanging onto, which took about an hour and will help keep the cost of shipping low. Now I'm just waiting on the name and address, so I can send off these coupons to someone who can use them. Easy, right?

What was your good deed this week?



I spend a lot of time asking W to clean up his toys. And I spend even more time picking them up myself. I know, I know... I'm taking the easy way out and he's learning nothing. But, sometimes the fighting just isn't worth it. He helps clean up at preschool (or so his teachers say), so he is clearly capable of doing it. For now doing it at home just isn't that much fun, I figure.

So, when I was given the opportunity to review a new tool made to make clean up easier for me and the kiddies... I jumped. We need help. We received the Toydozer, which is a product that both parents and kids can use to make clean up easier and more fun. The Toydozer has two parts: a "gatherer" and a "scoop" designed to collect small toys.

It's easy to use. I used it and had W give it a try. He's a little young for it, as it's really designed for kids over five. However, I think a coordinated four year-old would be able to use it easily. I felt like the toys we were cleaning up were too big, but here is W cleaning up with the Toydozer:

Here we are scooping into the gatherer. The pile behind him could use an actual bulldozer.

He wasn't coordinated enough to get it into the bin, but he tried.
The Toydozer would be awesome for dealing with a pile of little Lego's, rather than super hero figures and farm animals. I am positive the Toydozer will be a very useful companion when the boys are in their Lego stage. We were also using it on carpet, which worked just fine -- But I think it would be best on hardwood floors. I imagine it would also work well for klutzy crafters (which clearly I am not).

Here's the fun thing... I have a Toydozer to give away to one lucky, lucky reader! And I also have a discount code to share (BLOGGER20 will get you 20% off on Toyzdozer.com).

Here's how to enter:

1. Comment on this post about what you want to clean up with a toydozer. Be sure to include an email address if it doesn't connect back to your blog. (You must comment to be entered!)

2. Follow Hannemaniacs. (Look on the right side bar to follow.) Click on the "Join this Site" button.

3. Like the Hannemaniacs Facebook page.

4. Follow Hannemaniacs on Twitter.

5. Mention this giveaway to your network on Facebook and/or Twitter (one entry for each) by pasting this in your status: Enter to win a Toydozer at www.hannemaniacs.com. 

Please let me know which of the above actions you have done to be counted.

So, that's SIX possible entries per person. Contest ends at 9 am Friday, May 4th. Enter now!


Disclosure: This post is part of a Toydozer blogger outreach campaign. Participating bloggers have been provided with a complimentary Toydozer to review and have been compensated for their time. 


Good Deeds 2012 Week 16: Shared My Social Media Space

Good Deed: Helped share information about Project Ladybug and their upcoming fundraiser on my Facebook page.

I received a message from someone I went to high school with asking if I would share my social media space on Tuesday to help spread the word about Project Ladybug and their upcoming fundraiser. Their goal was to blow up social media and rely on free marketing through contacts to help with marketing. I wish I could have done more, but I was in the office on Tuesday and really busy. So, I shared it on my Facebook page. And I'm also sharing it here.

Sharing your social media space may not seem like much, but I can't tell you how many new organizations I've learned about through the social media posts of others. The reality is there are many very worthy organizations doing great work with no budget for marketing. Like in any business, word of mouth, reputation, and brand identity are incredibly important in fundraising. Think about what organizations you might help promote with your own social media network.

What was your good deed this week?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Project Ladybug, nor was I compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


Good Deeds 2012 Week 15: When It Gets Complicated

Good Deed: Met young man selling magazines, purchased a subscription, then did homework and canceled, am now full of guilt.

I work from home on Wednesdays, so I was there when a young man rang my doorbell around 5:00. I was there with the two boys and our maniac dog that barks at anything that moves. I opened the door to find a nice kid, who explained to me that he was 19 years old, from New Orleans, was chosen for a program that would give him interpersonal and sales skills for his future. He explained to me that just because you come from nothing doesn't mean you'll be nothing. I nodded my head in agreement.

He asked if he could ask me a few questions that were helpful to his learning:

Q. What was your first job?
A. I worked at the GAP in high school. I started when I was 15.

Q. Did you like it?
A. It was OK. It was really just a job. My friends worked there and I got a good discount on clothes.

Q. What is your job today?
A. I work in fundraising. I raise money for diabetes research.

Q. What trials and tribulations have you had to overcome to get to where you are today?
A. (Silence......) Ummmm, I don't know. I guess being a woman can put me at a disadvantage in some cases. Being a working mom isn't easy.

Q. What keeps you focused on attaining your goals?
A. My two boys.

He asked me to sign something to prove that he was there and rate our interaction. He did a great job. I was happy to help. And then he mentioned the magazines he was selling and the points he could earn to get a $1,000 bonus. I told him we didn't need any. But, then my ability to say no snuck up on me and I found myself saying "OK, let me take a look..."

It agreed to a two-year subscription to Natural Health. I pulled out my checkbook and he asked me to make the check out for more than I would have liked to spend... But, I did. I was happy to help and really thought we would enjoy the magazine. I believe in giving everyone a chance. I believe that this kid deserves an opportunity. I thought about the question of trials and tribulations... I can't think of any door that I've wanted to get through that has been closed to me. I have opportunity in the world to be anything I want. I know that is not the case for everyone. Let's be honest... An African-American from a poor family in New Orleans and a limited education doesn't have the opportunities that I had at his age. However, we're a dual income family with a high mortgage. We have kids to send to college and retirement to fund and a lot of bills. So, I'm careful about how we spend our money.

Two years ago a similar young man came to our door, selling the same magazines. I purchased a golf magazine that I had sent to my brother-in-law, Tristan, who was just starting to get into golf. They never received the magazine. Matt couldn't believe I would fall for a con. I truly believed it was a fluke and insisted that it wasn't a con, but insisted I wouldn't do it again... Evidently I was wrong.

So, last night I did my google research. And I found some concerning information about how these kids are treated, the little they receive, and that basically my magazine purchase is only lining the wallet of an organization that takes advantage of the kids who are selling their magazines. I went back and forth... And I finally decided to cancel my check. Then this morning I called the company and asked them to cancel my subscription. I expected to wait on hold for hours, get the run around, have it be impossible. But, the customer service rep answered my call on the second ring. She was professional and pleasant and I started to feel like maybe this was a good organization and questioned my decision. But, I still canceled.

I stand by my decision to cancel, but I wish I had done things differently. Now I wish I would have given that kid my business card. He lit up when I told him I worked in fundraising, that I believed that there is good in everyone and we just have to tap into that, that people do not have to be a product of their environment if they're given opportunity. I wish I had given him the opportunity to learn from a professional, to have someone to help him as a resource. I hate that he will learn today that the one sale he made yesterday was canceled. I feel like a coward.

I guess that's part of this whole good deeds thing, right? Not all philanthropic endeavors are always the right ones. Sometimes thinking with your heart instead of your brain complicates things. I still feel like I did a good deed by spending time with someone who is trying to better his life. I signed his sheet, rated him as excellent, and recommended a nice neighbor who would open her door to him. That counts, right?

What was your good deed this week? Have you ever done a good deed that you regretted or had to undo?


Do You Lie To Your Kids?

I just finished reading Up by Patricia Ellis Herr right before Easter weekend. Toward the end of the book she writes: "To sugarcoat reality is to lie, and I don't lie to my children."

I stopped and thought to myself... I don't believe in lying either. I believe in always being honest, sometimes to a fault. I believe in being straight-forward. But, you better believe I'll tell a lie to my kids. I mean, after all, I was about to pretend that a magical bunny hopped into our living room to hide plastic eggs that he had filled with stickers and jelly beans, as well as a basket full of all the wonderful things that W wanted. And less than four months ago a fat man in a red suit slid down our chimney to leave piles of gifts. That was also a lie. A lie I will happily tell my children until they stop believing me. It's fun and kids deserve fun.

There are lies that I feel obligated to tell my children, too. The lies that protect their little innocence for a little while longer, that keep them from worrying about something. After all, isn't it our job to protect our children? Yes, we can't shield them from the reality of the world. But, I'm going to make sure this world is a happy place for my kids as long as I can. I don't think that a three year old is necessarily ready to understand the complexity of people and the fine line between happiness and sorrow in this world. I'll have to explain all of this soon enough. He doesn't have to understand all of that now.

When we've been asked to go out for lunch with his friends after preschool, I've had to tell him we have to get home because our nanny has a special lunch planned. LIE. I'd rather not tell him that we can't join his friends because mommy is too busy with work and has to get back home. When we're listening to a popular song that he likes and I notice questionable lyrics, I get creative or follow his lead. So, I sang right along when he started singing Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" with the lyrics "I've gotta move my dragon."

Don't get me wrong... I try not to lie unnecessarily. I tell him exactly why he can't watch more tv or why he doesn't get candy. When he's had run-ins with his little friends at preschool, I've been as honest as I can about why friends can sometimes be mean and why it's important for him to not get too hurt by them. And over time I'm sure there are plenty of other conversations like this that I'll have when trying to help him understand why I try make the best decisions as his parent and give him the best advice I possibly can. Trust me, I don't have expectations of sending a wide-eyed, sheltered boy to first grade.

So, I guess you can call me a liar if you want. I'm not sugarcoating life, I'm making it a little sweeter for as long as I can. Kids have enough reality waiting for them around the corner.

Trish Herr's then five year old daughter Alex wanted to hike all 48 of New Hampshire's 4,000+ foot mountains. Would you let your five year old do the same? Join From Left to Write on April 12 as we discuss Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.


Good Deeds 2012 Week 14: American Cancer Society Walk & Roll

Good Deed: Supported my friend's American Cancer Society Walk & Roll fundraising efforts. 

My friend Stacey is doing the American Cancer Society Walk & Roll on April 29th. She has been involved with their Women's Board's Fashion Show for a while and I (shamefully) haven't supported her efforts prior to now. Making an online donation to a walk team is easy. And a good way to get in a charitable donation.

That's the great thing about walk events. They allow you to participate virtually and you always feel really good after you do them. There is something incredibly energizing about part of a crowd coming together for one cause. I can tell you that the walk for the organization I work for is an incredibly emotional day for many of the families involved.

Walks are great, but I don't really have time to do them right now. But, I do have the ability to support the efforts of the people who can be there.

What was your good deed this week?


Words of Wisdom To Get Through The First Few Weeks With An Infant

The first couple weeks at home with a new baby are wonderful and shocking and emotional and a little scary and amazing... And there is no way you can prepare yourself for it. My BFF just had her first baby and I thought of a few things for her (and other new moms) to keep in mind in the first couple of weeks:

Hit the TV for some reality shows in the wee hours.
I made the mistake of holing up with W in his nursery during his nightly feedings, where it was too quiet and the hours seemed to drag on. It was just really isolating. I know it's recommended to stay in a quiet, dark place for the baby - But, seriously, I was a much happier mom the second time around when I filled the DVR up with reality TV and spent my overnight feedings catching up.

I used to turn my nose up at all of these shows, now I credit them with helping me avoid baby blues. You need something fluffy, fast paced, with a good dose of drama, and awesome sounds bites.

Here are my recommended shows: 
  • Real Housewives: Any city, any season. These ladies never disappoint. Never.
  • Tori & Dean: You somehow find yourself feeling "wow, stars are really just like us" and then are quickly reminded that "oh, no, they aren't.
  • NY Ink: I'd never seen a reality tattoo shop show, but I especially enjoyed the drama from Chris Torres and comic relief from Robear. And, seriously, Ami is kind of adorable. And these people are serious artists.
  • Tabatha Takes Over: Love her. Not great when you're totally exhausted, because it has slow moments. 
  • Bethenny: Entertaining, but not my favorite choice.
  • Shahs of Sunset: This show has major late night potential. 

Shows that may seem innocent enough, but should be avoided:
  • Intervention: STAY AWAY! Suddenly every drug addict becomes someone's baby and you realize how precious and innocent everyone starts out in life and you start to get really depressed. DO NOT WATCH!
  • Hoarders: Also a show that makes you wonder how people can go from the sweet baby in your arms to someone so incredibly broken. Stay away from the sad!
  • A Baby Story: Might seem like a good idea, but it just isn't. Trust me.

Stay hydrated.
Your schedule is all over the place. You're often stuck sitting, whether nursing or holding a sleeping baby. You're uncomfortable from the whole birthing thing and the thought of standing and walking is a little too much. Many, many reasons you're not going to refill your water glass. Remember: staying hydrated makes a huge difference with breastfeeding.

Expect to cry.
Get used to crying. Randomly. It's normal, but it's shocking. The crying sneaks up on you just about anywhere. It starts innocently... when you're holding your baby and imagine some kid making fun of them on the playground... And then it starts creeping up just about anytime, like in mid-conversation at dinner. But, we've all been there and it's ok. And then one day it stops.

I often found myself in full tears, ugly crying, and repeating "I don't know why I'm crying. I just don't know why I'm crying." You're crying because you're postpartum. Accept it.

It goes fast.
Sometimes when a baby is crying or won't sleep... or doing some other stressful infant thing it's really easy to get caught up in the moment. Focus on the big picture and remember these moments pass and the weeks fly by in the blink of an eye.

It feels consuming sometimes, like you can't see the forest for the trees. But, focus on the moments and know it goes by fast. This is the only time you'll have with your child when you are totally devoted to holding them, cuddling them, and just being their mom. Savor those moments, even when you're exhausted, because they go so fast.

Having an infant isn't easy, but it's something you'll quickly look back on and recall as being some of the sweetest, most loving moments in your life as a mom.

Any other words of wisdom to add?