Day 9 Care Packages for the Soldiers

Today we mailed packages to soldiers deployed in Iraq from Arizona.  We are so grateful for their service and the sacrifices they make every day.  They give us the gift of freedom, so we wanted to send them a little taste of home.
On the website Any Solider you can search for a troop in need by branch, the country they are deployed to, where the unit is from, and by name.  We decided to find a platoon from Arizona.  They requested snacks, candy, hair ties for the women, razors and toothbrushes.  The kids made cards and offered to be pen pals if anyone was in need of one.  Putting together this small token of our appreciation helped remind the kids of all that the service men and women do to pay for our freedom and comfortable life.

Day 8 The Gift of Life

Today Max and I donated blood.  Blood supplies run very low from Thanksgiving through January.  The blood banks main source of donations come from high school students.  With school breaks and people so busy, donations fall short.  The shelf life of blood is only 30-40 days.  We thought this would be a good thing to give during our 12 days of giving.

The last time Max and I donated blood together was 20 years ago when we were in high school.  It was on that day that I knew Max loved me dearly.  I was young and nervous.  I had over blown things in my mind (cause I never do that) on how much it would hurt and when it was all over I was very relived.  I walked over and met Max at the table to eat my cookies and drink my juice.  As we sat there I began to feel bad, but tried to push it away.  As the black circles started to block out my vision, I grabbed Max's arm and told him I was passing out.  Next thing I knew I was lying on a gym mat with my someone holding my legs in the air.  As the confusion faded I looked to my right and saw Max lying there next to me.  Apparently it is a common phenomenon that people will pass out after watching someone else pass out, especially after blood donation.  All I know is we got to skip the next period and hang out on the mat together.  Its pretty much history since then.  
Well, fast forward 20 years.  I have been reluctant to give blood with my past stellar performance.  However, Max has successfully and uneventfully donated in between.  Today I warned my phlebotomist of my past.  She assured me if I kept tightening my butt muscles all would be well.  Despite my deep breathing and buns of steel being clenched, the wave of warmth began to flush my face and the black spots were creeping in.  I notified her that I was going down.  They brought me two ice packs for the back of my neck and sternum.  Those worked fine for the remainder of the donation.  But my big problem comes after I am all done.  Max once again finished before I did and was eating and drinking and doing great.  Then he came over to me as they tried to slowly get me up.  Down the dark hole I started to go again!  So they quickly laid me back with my feet above my head.  But it was too late, I had passed it onto Max and he turned white.  The lady quickly got Max in a chair and applied ice to him as well.  What a pair of babies!  They had quite a good time laughing at the doctor and nurse husband and wife fainters.  I guess some things never change.  He still loves me dearly. :)

Day 7 Project Linus

Today we dropped of the blankets we made for Project Linus.
Project Linus provides hand made blankets to children that are serious ill, traumatized or in need of love, a sense of security, or warmth.
 It was really a team effort of "blanketeers" with Max, Hank and Kaitlin doing the bulk of the work.
 The kids love making these blankets.
 They picked prints they like and thus had a hard time letting them go.
 But after feeling how soft and warm they were, HKKH were happy to pass them along, knowing they were going to kids who need a little something extra special this time of year.   

Day 6 Extending Our Hands

For our 6th day of giving, today we packed meal boxes at our church and then loaded them onto the  truck.  Hailey's friend spent the night, so she got roped into volunteering today too.
The girls, Max, 2 other men, and I loaded 300 boxes into the truck between services!  It was a great opportunity to literally extend our hands to hopefully help the hungry this Christmas.

Day 5 Adopt a Senior

For our 5th Day of giving, we Adopted a Senior.  
We hoped to provide a little love to a senior in need within our community.  Beside daily care products like tooth brushes and soap, we provided Gloria with diabetic socks and dog food for her puppy.  The kids wished we could have given it to her in person, but were happy with knowing we were helping someone who might not have the resources necessary to have a nicer Christmas.

Day 4 One Man's Trash is Still Trash Years Later

For our 4th Day of giving we went down to the desert wash near our house and collected 4 bags of trash.
This is one of the kids' favorite things to do.  We really enjoying hiking and bike riding in our desert and hated to see all the liter people have left behind and household demo projects dumped in it.  We are talking about trying to make it a monthly goal to see how much of an impact we can have on keeping our desert garbage free.  This was a great thing to give for so many reasons.

Day 3 A Little Bounce

For our Day 3 of giving, Kaitlin wanted to buy toys for the sick children who will be spending Christmas at the hospital.  This reminded us to be thankful for our health, a blessing we often take for granted.
When I asked her what toys she thought would be good, she knew right away she wanted to find a coloring and activity set for a girl.  When she was thinking of an idea for a boy, she knew how much Hank loves to bounce balls and thought a basketball might work in a hospital room (sorry nurses and family members!).  Hopefully these gifts will provide a small bounce on Christmas for two sick kids.

Day 2 She's Got Sole

With in our 12 Days of Giving each of the kids picked one activity to be responsible for.
  Hailey volunteered to buy shoes for the kids her National Junior Honor Society adopted.  The kids all put money in from their piggy bank to contribute to the costs of this years giving.  Hopefully these new shoes will bring some Christmas cheer to a little girl and boy in need.

Day 1 Read To Me

In this season of giving we wanted to try and give back.  We have been so blessed and have so much that we hope to teach the kids to bless others with the blessings they have.  As a family we have come up with 12 days of giving instead of 12 days of Christmas.
For our first day we went to UMOM, which is a homeless shelter for families.  They provide both emergency and longterm housing along with case mangers to help try and get families back on their feet.  One of the programs they offer is a weekly literacy night where the kids come and read with volunteers for an hour.  Kaitlin was my buddy and we had a little 4 year old boy.  He was so cute and so smart!  Hank and Max teamed up and read with an boy, while Hailey and Karlie got a chance to read with many girls.  It was a great family giving experience and made us grateful.  While we are writing Christmas list of this thing or that thing, these kids are dreaming of a home or a job.

Robo Eagles SOAR

Karlie has been on her school's Robotics team for the last two years.  This year she was nominated as a Co-Captain of the team and went to the Regional Championship on Saturday.  Arizona recently designated Robotics as an official competitive activity with state honors.
 She and her teammate have a very successful mission and are second in the timed rotation.  Karlie handles the programing while Abby handles the attachments.  
 The competition was a long ways away so we got up at 5 am to get ready for the big day!  When I went in to wake Karlie up, she was already dressed and had made her bed.  She was very excited!  It was neat to hang out with Karlie and her teammates all day and watch them compete against mostly middle school teams.  In fact, two teams from Hailey's school were at the competition and one didn't place at all.
 Both their principal and vice principal came for the big competition.  To everyone's surprise this rookie team placed in the top 6 out of 35 teams!!  This moved them onto the State Championship next weekend!
 Karlie is so excited and we are so proud of our little techie!
First LEGO League hosts the competitions and it was very well run and organized.  Both sets of grandparents were able to watch the live video streaming and see Karlie compete.
Karlie was told to wear her medal and uniform to school so they could honor them today!
 Karlie has her eyes set on the national competition at LEGO land in California.
 With Karlie's determination, we may be seeing LEGOs the rest of the year!  Good luck ROBO Eagles!!