The Gift of Love: Operation Shower

Disclosure: I’m a Pampers Baby Board member. This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are purely my own. It seems like so long ago that I had my baby shower. Probably because it was! Sheesh, over 8 years now. I remember being ridiculously grateful to have had the people around me share in the joy of the birth of the Frog Princess.

I think I’ve said this before but if you’re new, here it is: we had FIVE baby showers! I’ve never felt so loved and so blessed. Having my family around me made a huge difference during that special time.

I was in LOVE with this shower invitation. These were also the colors of the baby room.

Me, at one of my baby showers. I was already on bed rest here but thankfully, my midwife cleared me to go.

This is what I was thinking when I heard about Operation Shower, a non-profit that throws baby showers for expecting moms whose husbands are stationed overseas. How amazing is that?!

Even more amazing? Pampers is donating diapers and wipes to support this great event.

I had a chance to chat with a mom, Alicia, who has been a recipient of one such shower. One of the things that is near and dear to my heart is the telling of our stories. I am a big believer that our stories bring us together no matter our differences.

Alicia is married with 3 boys. She is an LPN at the 56th Medical Group at Luke AFB.  Her husband is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician in the USAF.

Her husband has been stationed at Luke, AFB in AZ for over 7 years.  She says “It is a rare gift to be able to stay in location this long and we are very fortunate. He's been in the military for 8 years and has spent approximately 4 years apart from us due to deployments, trainings and temporary duty assignments.”

I was reminded that it’s not just our service men and women that serve but that their families do as well.

When I asked about Operation Shower she shared:

In 2013, I was pregnant with my youngest son and my husband was scheduled to deploy just 6 weeks after his birth.  I heard about Operation Shower through our local Airman and Family Readiness center and figured it would be something nice to go to. It was their first time here in Arizona and I had no clue what it was going to be like.  When I arrived, I was blown away by how much effort is put into a shower. Everything was perfect! The love they show you and the gifts that Operation Shower obtains from generous donations are phenomenal!  It really makes you feel special knowing there are people out there who truly care about the military community and the unique challenges that come with it.   

 

Later that year, I was contacted by Operation Shower and asked if I could come and speak to the moms at the 2014 Phoenix shower. It was at that shower that I found out how rewarding it is to be on the other side of things. Volunteering at a shower and watching all the deserving families be showered with gifts, is truly one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.  Since then, I am a regular at Operation Shower events that take place here in the Phoenix area. Every year, I help locate moms who meet the criteria to attend a shower and every year I get up on stage, tell them my experience and offer words of encouragement while they go through this challenging time.”

Yeah so…I had some sweaty eyeballs after seeing this project through Alicia’s eyes. Of course, eyeball leakage didn’t stop there.

Me: What do you think this operation brings to moms and families?

Alicia: Beyond the gifts and love they show us, Operation Shower provides a place where military spouses who are pregnant and going through deployments can come together and connect. They provide somewhere that the military moms can form friendships and lean on each other to get through these difficult times. THAT is one of the biggest blessings they can give us! 

Me: What type of impact does a diaper donation have on moms and families?

Alicia: Of course, the gift of diapers from Pampers helps families prepare for their little one, but it isn’t just that. Every single gift from every company is them telling us that they care. Companies have so many things they can get involved in but they choose to support us.  I am truly thankful for Pampers and the support every sponsor gives.

I couldn’t end our interview without asking what Alicia would tell a new mom. I found myself nodding my head in agreement. Her response? “Take lots of pictures! You will never find yourself regretting documenting memories but you may regret not being able to look back and see them.”

Yes to pictures! And speaking of pictures, here are some great images from the event in Connecticut.

You might be asking the same question I did “how can I help?”. The answer is simple: donate! Pampers kicked off donations with Baby Dry diapers and wipes and now it’s your turn. It takes a village, right?

Head on over to Operation Shower and see what baby products you can help with. You know diapers are always a necessity. I always breathed a sigh of relief at my showers when I saw those beautiful yellow and blue boxes! And I’m sure the recipients at Operation Shower do too. So, get to it, people! Is this a great program or what?

Ready for Baby is #BetterForBaby

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The year was 1995 1996 2003. It was my senior year in college and I had Clinical Psychology with Dr. Farkash. I loved that professor! This was it. I was going to do an internship locally and I don't even remember my list of choices. I do remember that on that list there was only one choice for me: BETA Center. I had driven by it regularly as it was on my side of town and I knew what it was: a school for pregnant teens. But they were so much more. They provided assistance in a myriad of ways to teens, women and children in my community.

So off I went to counsel girls. I'd always have a soft spot for working with young girls and I couldn't think of a better way to spend my semester than helping students through their particular situation.

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I still recall one of my girls giving birth to a beautiful baby girl and me driving to her house and checking in on them. In my possession I had a brown paper bag. It contained gently used clothing and diapers.

That brown paper bag is what led to my #BetterforBaby project.

I remember times when the pantry would be low in supplies. And I remember helping fold clothes for those small but important layette sets.

When Pampers showcased this video and then subsequently reached out to the baby board members and asked if we had a community service project, I jumped at the chance (tissue alert: getchu some).

This grew to beyond the grant I was provided by Pampers which I was going to use to have handmade quilts that the Center could give away to moms and their new babies. My sister had the idea of creating an IndigeGoGo page to get the community involved. My brother created this graphic:

Let's help moms get #ready4baby!

And with that we were off! The campaign raised $1,000 to buy diapers, wipes and other items for the babies.

While we ran into a glitch with the quilts not being created on time (almost 70 quilts were to be handmade for this project), I am ecstatic that we were able to deliver well over 2,000 diapers, wipes, feminine products, formula, socks, breastmilk storage bags (you know I love that) and even a ton of reusable breast pads for those Mamis to use!

Delivering on the Better for Baby Campaign

Yes, I got to play Tetris in my car!

I am so proud of my community. And I'm proud that I was able to return to that place that captured my heart so long ago.

Delivering on the Better for Baby Campaign

Is there such a thing as a diaper ring? If so, I was the leader!

This is not a one-off campaign for me. I will be heading back with an additional donation to make up for the quilts not being completed (long story that I will tell you one day, over drinks).

But, understanding that everything happens for a reason, I think that we will be able to support this organization and the girls at the facility during the holidays. Somehow, that means more to my heart and spirit at the moment.

The gist behind the Better for Baby campaign is that we all want to make a baby's life better. When there's a baby in the room, everyone lights up. I believe it's because of the possibility. The newness of that life and our internal commitment to guide that child along to fulfill his/her potential.

This campaign captured my heart in the same way that the Beta Center captured it so many years ago. Now I get a chance to help a new groups of moms and their babies.

I cannot thank you enough for supporting this campaign! If you didn't get a chance to support the grassroots #Ready4Baby campaign, you still have a way to support this outstanding organization.

Delivering on the Better for Baby Campaign

This was all you guys! Thank you for donating!

This week, BETA has kicked off their very first evah social fundraising campaign. This makes my social media consultant heart leap!

It's called #20kIn20Days so you know they are about it! No amount is too small, y'all and they need these funds to help maintain an adequate environment for successful learning and support for their teen moms.

I'm grateful that I was able to help immediately with donations and hope to be able to support this campaign and whatever comes down the line this year for the holidays.

Can you take a look at this wishlist and see if you can help make life #BetterforBaby?

Better yet, can you help support their “20K in 20 Days!” crowdfunding campaign to support their facility needs?

This Ain't Yo Mama's Microsoft

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Disclosure: I am a Microsoft Office Champion. These are my stories. I was having a convo a few weeks back and it occurred to me that I needed to do a "back to basics" post. Just because I wrote about something before doesn't mean you read it (and don't think I'm not holding you accountable for that).

I get asked about what tools I use regularly. And when I say Office, sometimes folks look at me funny. And so, I have basically taken to saying "This Ain't Yo Mama's Microsoft". I might trademark that (I probably can't but, this is how seriously I take the statement).

Y'all, there's so much that you can do with Microsoft Office! The beauty of Office 365 is that it doesn't really matter what hardware you use, you can always use 365. I'm not going to write a super long post (#iLie). I just want to give you a glimpse of why I say what I say.

What Is Office 365?

Remember when you used to have to dish out lots of moola for a copy of Office? No? Then you're probably too young to be reading this post!

Enniweighs, software was not necessarily cheap. And you also had to pay for upgrades. Now with an Office 365 subscription, you're all covered. For $99 you can get a year's subscription for the home edition. Any updates that happen to any of the programs in the Office family come to you free of charge. And you're not limited to one license. You can load that bad boy on up to 5 devices.

"Sili, I don't have a Windows machine", you say. Ain't nobody tell you you had to have a Windows machine! Y'all stay making me give you the side eye!!! 

Though I have no idea how you operate without the awesome that is the Surface Pro but, I digress.

You can install Office 365 on your PC or Mac, on tablets (including iPad and Android) and smartphones. Yasss, baybee you read that right. Every.damn.where.

What is OneDrive?

If OneDrive was a man, I'd ask it to marry me. Hell, if OneDrive was a woman, I'd ask it to marry me too (thank you Supreme Court!). OneDrive is the cloud of goodness. It is the home base of all of the documents, files, images and videos for me. That way, when I need to access a file to send from my phone, it's in there. Need to download that sweet meme I made the other day? No problem, it's in there! 

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Oh and did I mention you get 1TB of STORAGE. Sit with that for a minute. Basically OneDrive is the Prego of cloud storage systems. Note: if you don't remember the "it's in there" Prego commercial, you might be too young to be reading this post.

Where was I? Oh yes, all this leads me to...

What is OneNote?

I get sooo excited when people say they don't know what this is. And they, in turn, get scared. Because my excitement is...not lacking loudness.

I keep my LAIF in OneNote! It is the holder of my secrets, my dreams, my to do lists (and there are many) and generally my plans to take over the world. You can keep notebooks and then tabs within each notebook and pages within each tab. It's fabulous, I tell you! Of course, it's also on my phone. And my new favorite discovery (I knew about it but the Mami brain concealed it for me so that I could be newly excited for it): I can make recordings and they will save to my pages. This helps when I need to start dictating books for my personal assistant to type up (sadly, an assistant does NOT come with OneNote).

I can put my shopping list in here, I can drop in PDF's and WRITE ON THEM if I want to (see previous statement regarding Surface). Oh and I can take a picture from the Office Lens app of, let's say, my receipts, have them dropped in to OneNote and it'll be searchable later when I'm going crazy calmly collecting all my tax documents for the accountant. I can share my notebooks with awesome people like Kristin and we can collaborate in a seamless space that always tells us who wrote what.

Okay, that's all I'm going to give you for now. I will have more to discuss later! I lied, one more thing: you can try the OneNote app for free. Don't say I never gave you nothin'!

Tell me, can any of these tools be useful to stepping up your awesome?

Disclosure: I am a Microsoft Office Champion. All thoughts, excitement, awesome memes and Office Swag are purely my own.

 

 

 

#IDelight In Mami's Chill Caramel Coffee Ala Mode

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[box type="shadow" ]Disclosure: this is a sponsored post. All thoughts, coffee and mass amounts of ice cream consumption in order to get this "just right" are purely my own. You're welcome![/box] It is summer y'all. It's been summer for weeks here in Orlando. I don't care what the calendar says.  We have been consistently in the 90's and that just won't do for my hot cup of cafe con leche.

Summer means that I get to modify my coffee intake. Which means I get to do it up with International Delight's Iced Coffee line.

I grabbed a carton of the Caramel Macchiato Light which is only 100 calories! Woohoo! Yes, you totally can have this drink over ice. But, I like to have it a little differently. I like it cool but I don't like it watered down. Enter Mami's Chill Caramel Coffee Ala Mode.

[yumprint-recipe id='1']Caramel_Coffee_Ala_ModeI've also tried this with coffee ice cream. Needless to say you can rock your favorite ice cream and pair it with your favorite Iced Coffee flavor. Whatever's your pleasure. I find this way I get a richer experience and I can combine a little dessert with a little In Delight for my afternoon coffee. I love pouring a little caramel up top to finish complete the yum.

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Oh and you can see my awesome little mug that I made. PS: I am not an artist! I can get creative but this was a slight stretch for me because I don't paint/draw/write well. I decided to have the frog princess make one for father's day (because it's not father's day unless something is handmade, right?). I didn't want to be left out and so I decided to make my very own ID cup. I think I still need to tweak my method but here's what I got:

  • White mug
  • Colored sharpies
  • Wash the mug and clean it with alcohol (for prints and such)
  • Paint it to your hearts' content
  • Put the mug in the oven  & turn it on to 400 degrees
  • preheat it (with the mug inside)
  • once it preheats, set the timer for 45 minutes

I took my mug out before the time and as you can see, it got a little messed up because of it. I plan on repainting and throwing it back into the oven with no fear that these will blow up.

What do you think? Will you be trying the recipe and making your own summer mug?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.