The Rainbow Loom Project

Fact: Sweet is turning 7 on Tuesday, and I am not ready!

Probably a Fact: We are the only family in America who hasn’t joined in on the Rainbow Loom / rubber band bracelet phenomenon sweeping the country.

Well, that’s all about to change.

The Rainbow Loom Project - Make bracelets and send them to children in Africa!

Some friends asked me if I wanted to join in on their service project to send a bunch of these awesome bracelets to kids in Ethiopia who’ve never even heard of Rainbow Loom. It took about .024 seconds for me to jump right in feet first. I thought, what a great opportunity and fun way to celebrate Sweet’s birthday! The last thing we need around here now is more toys.

We’ll have friends and family stop by, a few Master Rainbow Loomers on hand to help us out, and several thousand colored bands to get us started. Since we’ve never used a loom before, we are reading up on the matter now and looking for fun tutorials we might want to use on Saturday.

I’ve linked to 14 of our favorite bracelets below, I love that there is something for everyone in here – girls, boys, older kids, beginners, shoot there’s probably one or two in here I can even make!

10 Rainbow Loom Bracelets You Must Try

Make Rainbow Loom bracelets for a birthday party

10 DIY Band Bracelets
Kaleidoscope Bracelet
Starburst Rainbow Bracelet
Circle of Hearts
XO Band Bracelet

Want to know more about the cause?

AHOPE – an organization that provides free assistance, housing, clothing, schooling, medical care, etc. to HIV+ orphans in Ethiopia.  

A Hope for Children - a center in Eithipia that raises orphans born HIV+

AHOPE is currently serving 213 orphans – kids and teens.  Many of them have lost their parents to AIDS.  All of them were born HIV+.  At first, AHOPE was a hospice to provide a nurturing, comfortable setting for the orphans to transition with dignity.  Thanks to medical advances in the last few decades, many of these children are thriving and living to become adults! 

Today, I’m joining Susan from Crafterhours, Ashley Ann from Under the Sycamore, Jenny from The Southern Institute and Jen from Upcycled Education in a Joint Rainbow Loom Project to collect bracelets for kids at AHOPE. Extra bracelets will be given to the community surrounding AHOPE.

Want to help? We hoped you might!

The Rainbow Loom Project - Make bracelets and send them to children in Africa!

1. Get your kids making bracelets and talk to them about what you will do with them and the kids they will be going to.

2. Raise money for a good cause – we’re asking for a monetary donation to be send along with your bracelets. It can be as large or small as you need it to be. I am donating $1 for every bracelet my kids make between now and drop off date, up to $200. Ask friends and family if they would be willing to match your donation. Get as many people involved as possible.

3. Mail your bracelets (and donations) by March 15th 2014.

All bracelets, creations, and checks (made out to AHOPE) should be sent directly to:
Jen Lara at Upcycled Education
P.O. Box 950
Savage, Maryland 20763
by March 15th.

If you prefer to make a donation using your credit card, you can do so directly on AHOPE’s website (http://www.ahopeforchildren.org/)

All bracelets will be hand delivered to the children of AHOPE in April.

Simple ways to improve air quality indoors

We’ve really enjoyed the planting a forest campaign this month, together we’ve planted almost 300 trees … but wanted something a little more hands-on.

Have you planted your tree yet?

If we are truly “planting a forest”, then there needs to be some actual planting going on, am I right! So when we spotted these living Christmas trees we knew they’d be the perfect thing! We’ll keep them indoors till spring, then plant them in the backyard.

Help this little guy plant a forest for his 8th birthday

The great thing about these little trees is the learning opportunity that came with them. I like to think we do a pretty good job teaching our children how to care for the environment – we recycle, we compost, we conserve water, and try not to waste energy. We talk to them about using scrap pieces of paper for all their “projects” and we discuss big issues like alternative energy and our carbon footprints.

One thing we’ve never done however, is bring the outdoors in. It’s such a simple thing to do, but one we had overlooked until now.

These little trees aren’t just pretty to look at or fun to have around for the holidays, they are actually serving a significant purpose right now for our family. They are improving air quality in our home.

Indoor air pollution is actually a big deal. The concentration of chemicals, toxins and pollutants is much stronger indoors than the air you breathe outside; it can be a huge health problem if you are sensitive, have allergies, asthma, or other respiratory problems.

The way all of the males in our home do.

The more we talked about the good the plants were doing in our home, the more questions they asked – what other ways can we make the air inside our house cleaner? Here’s the list I came up with for us and it’s easy enough I bet it could help your family too.

Simple ways to improve air quality indoors

1. Open a window, and let some fresh air in.

2. While you’re at it, bring in some living plants too!

3. Take your shoes off and keep them by the door.
You’d be surprised how many chemicals you track in on your feet!

4. Mop & Vacuum Weekly. Make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter

5. Dust often

6. Use non-toxic, natural cleaners and detergents with natural or no fragrances

7. Do not use aerosol products in your home

8. Ban smoking indoors

9. Stop using store-bought air fresheners
They are made from petroleum-based products and put off a significant amount of VOCs

10. Change you air filters every 30 days

If you have questions about any of these, want me to elaborate or have ideas of your own — I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

We’ve been working hard to raise awareness about New Leaf Energy’s plant a tree initiative on Facebook. We invite you to share your ideas on how to teach our children to go green on any social media platform with the hashtag #PlantingWithPablo.

Share your ideas on how to teach our children to go green #PlantingWithPablo

Spreading Joy and Goodwill in your Community

As my kids get older, I find myself thinking more and more about ways to imprint kindness, generosity, and goodwill on to their hearts. When I sat down to come up with a list of simple ways to spread joy and goodwill in your community, I realized we’re doing a good job already. I truly believe the more ingrained the actions are in our daily lives, the deeper the values I wish to teach my children will be instilled. Simply put, more than talking to them about charity and good deeds, I think showing them on a regular basis through actions will encourage them to grow up to be people with strong character and integrity, who do the right thing simple because it is the right thing to do.

Here are some ways we spread joy and goodwill in our community all year-long:

Be Active

One of my favorite ways to show my children the good in people is to take them on charity walks and fun runs. Not only is it great exercise for all of us, and a way we can spend positive time together on the weekends, but it also supports a great cause. The people who show up to these runs are amazing people and the energy from the group can be felt a mile away. I want my kids to see the hundreds of kind people who wake up early and gather with strangers to support a cause they care about. I want them to learn about those causes and care about them to.

Donate Life

This was our third year walking for Donate Life, in honor of our friend Kim and her family. In that time, we’ve become so close with them they feel like extended family, and I know my children really, truly understand why we’re out there and what we’re doing. There are people who need new organs in order to live, and the only way they will get them is if people donate their own when they don’t need them anymore.

If you haven’t already, please sign up to be an organ donor now.

Shop Local

One of the biggest things you can do to support your local community is to put money back into it. A simple way to do this is by shopping local and frequenting small business owners. Finding stores that also support great causes in your community doubles your efforts.

This year Big Brothers Big Sisters South Texas opened up a unique store, From Me To You, with a great concept. Children can shop with store elves to select presents for family members and wrap them on the spot. No more knowing what your kids got you for Christmas, great prices, and proceeds benefit Big Brothers, Big Sisters. We love it so much, we’ve shopped for the whole family there this year!

Goodwill and the Salvation Army are great examples of places your money can also do double duty. Can you think of any other places near you? Perhaps a thrift store supporting a women’s shelter, orphanage or ministry?

Get involved with your schools

Local support from the community is more important to public schools now more than ever. I urge you to find a way to help out that works for you whether that means donating your time helping in the lunch room or library, joining the PTA, providing financial assistance, or even donating school supplies, or helping out with after school programs. Teachers can’t do it alone and every lit bit helps.

Art Room Aid for Teachers is an incredible place to start looking, search your local community and see if teachers already have projects waiting to be funded.

Volunteer

There are so many ways you can lend a hand in your community. From volunteering at a local soup kitchen or food pantry, to visiting a nursing home, to being a mentor, to ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, to wrapping gifts for Elf Louise.

To find opportunities in your community, visit VolunteerMatch.org
There are 4,355 opportunities in my community — how many did you find in yours?

Do something out of the ordinary

Yes, most of these things are things we do everyday … but every now and then you have to shake things up a bit and remind yourself and your family why you do these things in the first place.

Last Saturday was the coldest day of the year. An abnormally cold day in Texas, I left my house while it was 29 degrees outside and headed to Sea World Aquatica to take the polar plunge for Special Olympics with my fellow Wildsiders.

It was amazing, incredible, invigorating, touching, and memorable. We raised more than $1,000 as a team and so much more as a whole. It bonded me for life with people I hardly knew, or had never met, and made me feel alive. It motivated the community and was seen on television several times during the weekend, meaning hopefully next year will be even bigger and better with lots more plungers willing to participate. It sparked a new tradition for me and one that my children are already excited to do with me … just in a few more years maybe!

If you’re in Texas, find a plunge near you.

Give Back

If you are in a position to do so, give back. Whenever you can, anyway you can. Let your children see you doing this, let them do it too. Whether it’s putting spare change into a donation can or giving food, water, or cash to a person in need, to donating gently used items, or non-perishable can goods. There is something you can give to others.

San Antonio Bloggers pay it forward at Big Brothers Big Sisters South Texas donation store From Me To You

This year, we gathered a group of local bloggers and adopted a few families in our community. We gathered together to shop for our families and give back to BBBST at the same time. We left with huge bags of presents, knowing we’d made a bigger impact as part of a group.


Help Me Plant A Forest


Let's plant a forest! New Leaf Energy will plant one tree for every new like of it's #PlantingWithPablo FB page. Imagine the difference we can make with just a simple click

Tree for a Like

I think by now most of you know I am sucker for a good cause and if the steps to get there are simple things anyone can do, than I am all about spreading the word.

I took the rest of December off from writing, consulting, and pretty much everything that doesn’t involve focusing on my family, but when the opportunity to promote New Leaf Energy came down the pipes and they told me they were planting a tree for every new like they received on Facebook from now till the 23rd of December … visions of fields of trees starting dancing in my head.

* Yes, New Leaf Energy hired me to share easy ways your family can go green, but the idea to plant this forest is mine all mine.
Our simple green story will come in a follow-up post next week.

I just REALLY, REALLY enjoy a fun challenge for a good cause.

So what do you say?
Help me plant 1,000 trees by Christmas?

It only takes 2 seconds of your time and one click of you finger — LET’S DO THIS!!

PLANT YOUR TREE NOW

We’ve planted 60 trees already, I’m betting we can exceed our goal, who’s with me?!

I’ll update this page each day to keep you posted on our progress

Update: We planted 148 trees yesterday! What a day, and an accomplishment we can all be proud of. Do you know 148 trees can provide enough oxygen each day for 592 people?! (source)

12/16: We’ve planted our first 200 trees!

12/23: We’re up to 330 trees – that’s great, but not nearly as much as we’d hoped for. Can you help us?

Share your ideas on how to teach our children to go green #PlantingWithPablo