Good Deeds 2012: Week 26 Donate Life America

Good Deed: Registered as an organ, eye, and tissue donor through Donate Life America.

It took me about one minute. All I had to do was enter my driver's license number and address and now I am one of the six million adults in Illinois registered to possibly save lives. I've always been a donor on my driver's license and told everyone my wishes, but I figured this was the final step in making it official.

My uncle who was killed in an accident last year was a donor and knowing that his death made a difference to so many lives was the one comfort I could take from knowing he was killed.

Consider this: According to Donate Life America, there are more than 114,000 people nationwide waiting for lifesaving transplants, including more than 5,000 men, women, and children in Illinois. Isn't that reason enough to register?

What was your good deed this week?


Dodging My Own Marriage Mistake

For the From Left to Write Book Club we read Getting Married and Other Mistakes by Barbara Slate, a graphic novel about a woman whose mother grooms her from an early age to get married. She does and soon realizes it was a mistake when her husband cheats on her and she finds herself single again. This post is inspired by the book.

For me, getting married COULD have been a mistake. I dated a guy for about six years who was perfect on paper. Tall, handsome, smart, successful career... But, no matter how hard he tried, I could never see a future. I knew his plan was to marry me and he was starting to consider rings. Anytime he mentioned going shopping for some bling, I changed the subject. We were young, but I knew that time was running out.

It got to the point where I had a plan for what I would do in case he proposed. I decided I would accept his proposal to save him embarrassment and then return the ring soon after. The fact that I was even creating this exit strategy was terrible and made me feel like a total jerk, but I was terrified that it could actually happen and knew I had to make sure it didn't. The time had come for us to go our own ways.

I had seen enough terrible marriages to know that one between us would be a mess and could never make me happy. I knew that I would never marry him because I was able to see a relationship between one of my aunts and uncles and knew that would be my life. I could see my future in their relationship and I didn't want it. My parents really did love him, but encouraged me to go with my instincts and follow my gut. It would have been easy for them to tell me to stick it out. If their goal was to marry me off, they had the perfect opportunity. But, luckily they weren't those kind of parents.

And I met Matt two years later and found the right person, the artist who showed me that marriage would be the beginning of a fun adventure with its own bumps and rough patches, but an amazing one that I know I entered for the right reasons. Maybe one day we'll collaborate on a graphic novel to accompany this one called "My Wife Is A Control Freak and Other Lovable Qualities."

This post is inspired by Getting Married and Other Mistakes by Barbara Slate. This graphic novel offers a raw, yet humorous look at what happens to Jo after a surprise divorce. Join From Left to Write on Thursday, June 28 as we discuss Getting Married and Other Mistakes by Barbara Slate. I received a review copy of the and all opinions are my own.


Meal Planning: Using Up My Produce

We are renovating our kitchen later this week, which means we won't be able to make dinner on Thursday and Friday and all of the fresh organic produce sitting around needs to be used quickly. So, I looked through the fridge and made a plan for getting through as much as possible:

Monday: Frozen Cheese Pizza with Apple, Celery & Parmesan Salad
Tuesday: Ribollita
Wednesday: Shallot, Zucchini, Leek & Fontina Frittata with Green Salad and Orange, Banana, Blueberry Yogurt Smoothies

Since this week is going to be extremely hot and I'll be busy with work and pre-kitchen renovation preparations, my plan is to make the Tuesday and Wednesday dinners the night before and then just reheat when I get home from work. Both riballita and frittatas are perfect to prepare ahead of time and easy enough to throw together once the boys are sleeping.

Sometimes you just have to look through the fridge and get creative to remind yourself that there is almost always a way to throw together a solid dinner with what you have on hand. And (though I've fallen off the wagon lately) meal planning makes an incredible difference in making those meals happen.


Good Deeds 2012: Week 25 Amvets

Good Deed: Donated clothes to Amvets.

This week was a tough one. I was busy with an event at work and stuff at home and I just needed something to be easy. So, when Amvets called to let me know they would be in my area and wanted to see if I would have items to donate, I happily agreed.

A small bag of clothes was picked up on my door step. Easy as can be and a great opportunity for me to find ten pieces of clothing in the house that I could clean out.

What was your good deed?


Happy Father's Day!

Last night Matt and I were talking about how people are born wired to do a certain thing. I guess you can call it a gift... Matt was born with a number of gifts, but the first one that came to my mind was: "You were born to be an amazing dad."

There were many reasons I fell in love with Matt, but it's evolved over the years and now I can't think of a better reason to love him than because of the father he is to our boys. I can't imagine being married to a better father or someone more committed to creating a family and the best life possible for our little boys. Our kids are two of the luckiest kids you'd ever meet and they adore their daddy. So do I.

Really good dads don't get nearly enough credit. With Matt there is no rolling of the eyes over who will change a diaper, there is no complaining that he'd ever choose drinks out over bath time, and I never second guess whether he can handle any situation with our kids. He's super dad. And I'm lucky. We all are. I don't admit it much and I get uncomfortable being all mushy, but if there's ever a time for me to step out of my comfort zone, it's today.

Thanks, Matt, for being the best dad we could ask for and for always trying to find a way to do it better.


Good Deeds 2012: Week 24 Crayola, Make Your Mark!

Good Deed: I signed the petition to Crayola on Change.org, which was started by Mr. Land and his “Kids Who Care” from Sun Valley School, asking Crayola to create a recycling program for their markers.

Every year, Crayola makes about half a billion markers. And when those markers have run out of ink or lose a cap they go in the garbage. Imagine how many garbage bags of markers are out there. As we're all more and more aware of the plastics getting into our environment and leeching into our lives, any opportunity to cut down on this is a good one.

How brilliant is this idea?!?! I would happily collect our used markers and send them back to Crayola and I know I am not alone. I love that a group of kids and their teacher are able to create such an amazing idea and create a campaign for real change. Sign the petition!


Need An Investigator?

For From Left to Write Book Club we read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a mystery about a woman who disappears on her anniversary. This post is inspired by the book.
I secretly wish I was an investigative journalist. OK, maybe this isn't such a secret... It's just something I think I'd be really good at. I love figuring things out, thinking of things from different points of view, and bringing down the bad guy. Can you tell I've put some thought into this one?

Here are some other qualifications for your consideration:
  • I have an excellent memory: Granted, this is getting worse with each child I add to our family.
  • People open up to me pretty easily once I gain their trust: Maybe it's because I'm an open book and tend to ask probing questions... 
  • I am a superb secret keeper: This could also be why people open up to me.
  • People often assume I know more than I do: When admitting a mistake she knew I wasn't going to be happy about, a good friend of mine once told me that she feels like I always know the truth whether someone tells me or not.
  • I'm suspicious of everyone and their motives: Sometimes this make me seem stand-offish, but I need a little extra time to figure people out.
  • I have great instincts: I just do.
Maybe one day I'll realize my dreams, but for now I'm happy to continue spoiling movies for Matt. And making my boys work harder to fool me. I feel like I'll have enough outlets for my investigative skills in ten years... My poor kids don't stand a chance. My investigative skills paired with my mom ESP will make my mom proud. Trust me, I learned from the best.

This post is inspired by mystery thriller GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn. They may not have the perfect marriage, but after Amy goes missing, Nick becomes the number one suspect. Can he discover what happened before it's too late? Join From Left to Write on June 12 as we discuss Gone Girl. As a member, I received a complimentary copy of the book.


Good Deeds 2012: Week 23 Operation Pink Sky

Good Deed: Donated to friend's Give Forward campaign as she jumps out of a plane to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. 

My pal MJ Tam is going to jump out of a plane this week. Not only is that pretty cool, but she's going to raise money for breast cancer research while he does it.

 Help support her! I don't think I have to explain the many, many compelling reasons to support breast cancer.


Gender Bender: Should We Find Out?

For those of you who (like me) cannot read an ultrasound... this is the profile.
Today was our 20 week appointment. We decided not find out the gender and let it be a surprise when the baby comes in October. And I've been ok with that decision... until this morning. Suddenly the 20 weeks ahead of me loomed. I know how fast the pregnancy time flies, especially after your first pregnancy. But, do I want to wait 20 more weeks? I'm just not sure.
I've gone back and forth all day and here's the deal: I want to know if it's a girl. I don't want to know if it's a boy.

Now, before you judge and start with the "all babies are wonderful" stuff please give me a chance to explain. I don't really care what I'm having. I love having boys and I know I'm a good mom for boys. They've broken me in and I appreciate boys for their dirt and craziness and energy and bug-loving selves. We know boys and we have all the stuff. Boys make sense to us.

I look at little girls and, though I know my days might be more mellow, I can't imagine having to fasten hair bows and puts on tights. I'm not into accessories or pink or bows. I know that all girls aren't into these things, but I just can't imagine having to be. But, yes, there is a part of me that really wants a girl for all the obvious reasons. I won't go into all of them since you can list them as well as I can. And W has said he wanted a sister since the day we told him he would be a big brother again.

But, here is the real reason... Ever since I became noticeably pregnant people seem to be rooting for me to have a girl. My grandmother told me that she is praying for me... Really?!?! (Pray for people who can't feel their children or are facing sickness. Don't pray for a baby's gender that has already been decided.) Strangers seem to really be concerned that it might be another boy.

When I was pregnant with B and told people it was a boy 90% of the time I received this response: "Oh, you'll have to go for #3 to get your girl." And I even said it to Matt when we realized it was a boy. I'm not immune to that reaction. But, I don't need to spend the next 20 weeks trying to convince strangers in line at the grocery store that I'm just fine having three boys.

And, yes, I know I can find out and not tell anyone, but that would be really hard for me. Have you ever seen me try to lie? I struggle to cover a sly smile and practically burst out laughing.

So, what did we decide? We didn't find out... for now. But, we're keeping our options open and if we want to find out, we can. And that's enough for now. It's not always information that I need, it's access to information that's most important. And a healthy baby... boy or girl.