Anyone who knows me is well aware of the love I have for Grumpy Cat.
If you aren’t aware of this amazing feline comedic gem, I highly suggest you click on over to her website or check out the many hilarious photos featuring her at Know Your Meme. I also highly suggest her YouTube page.
Grumpy Cat combines two of my favorite things in the entire world—cats and sarcasm. Granted, the sweet little kitty who is less than a year old is actually a very pleasant thing, but that doesn’t stop people from using her frowny face for their own comedic efforts. Three of my favorites in recent weeks have been….
I also take daily delight in her Twitter feed. Well, at least one of the many parodies…
That’s why when I saw a picture of this this week, I nearly had an aneurism, seizure, and ice cream headache all at once.
Yes, friends and neighbors, it’s a Grumpy Cat Hat. It’s made out of fleece. It’s handmade. It has lined ear flaps. And it’s only $26.50 in this Etsy Store. My life would be so much better if I possessed one of these amazing creations to keep my head warm in the coming months. Without doubt, it would generate questions everywhere I go and would serve as a boffo conversation starter. When wearing it, I could say, “Why yes, this is a Grumpy Cat Hat. I am indeed cooler than you because I own said item. Neener neener neener.” My smugness would know no bounds.
However, right after I posted it to my Facebook page, I realized that as happy as this little gewgaw might make me, that $26.50 could help someone in a developing country gain access to an endless, life changing supply of fresh water. That’s why I’ve donated my 35th birthday, which will take place on April 21st, to Charity:Water and have set up a campaign page there where people can make donations in lieu of giving me presents, cash, or other things that I can go without this year.
You can visit my page (and make a donation, ye scurvy dog!!) by clicking HERE.
My goal is to raise at least $1,000 this year in order to help 50 people. With access to clean water, they won’t die of preventable diseases. What’s more, they’ll have a chance to truly live because the time spent going back and forth to whatever sources are available can instead be spent starting a business, going to school, or caring for their families.
If you want to help me out, I’d love a donation of whatever you can spare. I know times are tight (and likely getting tighter), but it’s hard for me to say no to someone who’s is going without something I can draw a limitless of from the tap in my kitchen. And giving it to them is certainly a good thing.
According to howstuffworks.com, “There are 326 million trillion gallons of water on our planet,” only a fraction of which we can drink. But it’s more than enough to support all living things.
If you’re like me, you have an endless supply of it in your house to drink, cook with, and bathe in. It keeps your lawn green and your car clean. You play and swim in it. And the only time you even think about it is when it stops working. However, there are billions (yes BILLIONS) of people around the world who don’t have easy access to it and die because they are forced to drink from unsafe sources. According to the World Health Organization, “90% of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are children under five years old.”
90% = 27,000 children who won’t get a chance to live full lives because they can’t get to something that God created in abundance.
In my mind, that’s inexcusable.
God has blessed us with amazing resources, and we should be putting them to use to help. Isaiah 41:17-18 says, “The poor and needy seek water, but there is none. Their tongues fail for thirst. I, the Lord, will hear them. I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”
It’s up to us, His people, to be the tools He uses to open those rivers in desolate places and free fountains hidden in the valley. He’s placed it there, and it only takes a little work for us to bless others with fresh water (and to be blessed ourselves in the process).
I discovered all these facts when I read an article by Craig Borlase on his website. In it, he profiles Scott Harrison, founder and CEO of charity:water. He was a believer who walked away from God for a time but came back to faith. He is now using his talents to bring about positive change. As a photojournalist, “he saw in the stagnant ponds and arduous, dangerous journeys lugging dirty H20 back to the most basic of homes, an issue that was right at the heart of so much suffering: water. Fix that, he realized, and life is almost instantly transformed.”
2012 was an amazing year for me, one in which I was blessed in so many ways. I have an wonderful family who loves and supports me as well as a kind and godly husband who has cared for me for thirteen years. I go to work every day at a job I love and come home to a beautiful house we just purchased. I have an amazing church family and friends. However, I realize that God didn’t give me these good things just so I could keep them to myself.
One of the ways I want to do this is by donating my birthday to charity:water. I’ve had a lot of awesome birthdays, so it seems only fitting that on my 35th, I help children so they can celebrate beyond their 5th.
Basically, rather than people sending me gifts or cards, taking me out for meals, or spending money on something I don’t really need, I’m asking them to donate that cash to my water campaign. (Though wishing me happy birthday on Facebook is still okay. It’s free after all.) 🙂
$20 is enough to help one person gain access to fresh water, and it will change his or her life in ways you never dreamed possible. I’ve already made my donation, and I’m going to keep studying Scripture and blogging about the issue until my birthday on April 21, 2013. If you can, please consider donating….or better yet, start a project of your own!
“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”—Matthew 10:42
If you’re interested in donating, starting a project of your own, or telling me about your own experiences with this charity or others that are near and dear to your heart, I would love to hear about it. Share your stories and ideas in the comments section below!
By nature, most kids aren’t inclined to share. Whether it be toys, the backseat of a car, or even a box of Cheez-Its, the chances are better than average that at least one fight is going to break out over the desired object in question. That’s why I find it so odd that my brother and I have no trouble whatsoever sharing a birthday. We’ve always celebrated the day together on April 21st.
But here’s the wacky thing….we’re not twins. Nope, I am three years older than my lil’ brudder. But do you want to hear something even stranger than the fact that we were born on the exact same day? We were also born on the exact same minute—3:38 AM—and in the exact same room in the hospital. Yep, three years later to the minute, my mother found herself in the exact same awkward, painful, and compromising position. According to this thread at physicsforum.com, there is a 1 in 525,600 chance of two people in the same family being born like we were, and that’s just pretty John Brown awesome if I do say so myself. That’s why I’ve never known what it’s like to have my own party, my own cake, or my own day; Jarrod’s just always been there right beside me. When I started school, I remember thinking my classmates were weird because they didn’t celebrate their birthdays with a baby brother or sister!
There were a few differences between our arrivals. For instance, my brother was born breech (because he’s a show off) while I came into the world “in the usual way” as Harry Chapin once wrote. Also, our dad was present for Jarrod’s birth but not for mine because no one, including fathers, was allowed in the delivery room in the 1970s. We were both late, but Jarrod was only ten days behind schedule. It took me an extra eighteen days before I was ready to make my appearance. He’s a left handed weirdo; I’m a righty. He’s great at math, which makes my head hurt, and I’m the whiz when it comes to language and literature. We might not quite be as “country and rock and roll” as Donny and Marie, but you get the drift.
This year, we turned 34 and 31 respectively, and it was one of those birthdays that called for a moment of contemplation because quite a bit has changed since the last time we attempted to simultaneously blow out candles without spitting on the cake. I changed career fields and moved into a major metropolitan area. Jarrod one-upped me by getting married and buying a house. We’re both “grown ups” now for lack of a better term; we work in full time jobs, pay taxes, buy insurance, and do all those other less than stellar activities we never even knew existed before we went to college and were required to make something of ourselves. How we both managed that successfully I’ll never know. 🙂
This was also the first year buying gifts for one another was relatively difficult (at least for me) because we don’t spend as much time together. When we were living under the same roof and were constantly involved in the other’s business, we knew what movies, music, hobbies, and collectibles the other one had on the brain. We were even roommates in college, at least until I went and got myself married in 2000. However, now that we live six hours apart and communicate once a week rather than once a day, it’s harder to keep up with that kind of stuff. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just different—one more piece of evidence that times they are a’changing—and it makes me a little more melancholy for birthdays past.
Our family has always been close-knit and loving, and we are both blessed beyond measure to be part of it. However, we are all getting older, and life just keeps on getting infinitely more complicated. For instance, our grandparents are now in their 70s and are dealing with health issues that are altogether new to them. The way they live their lives has changed, and it’s a little jarring when you have it presented to you in such sharp contrast to previous years.
This was the also the first year I can remember that our father couldn’t be present for the festivities because he had to conduct his store’s yearly inventory. Our only cousin on this side of the family also couldn’t be there because he was in Orlando at a state level math competition. Despite all the joy of the day, I found myself thinking the same question Jo asks in Little Women, “Will we never all be together again?”
It’s things like this that make me truly realize how short life is and how quickly things can change. A few years ago, Alex (the aforementioned cousin) was all chubby cheeks and totally hooked on Barney. Now, he’s a junior in high school, driving a car, and starting to apply for college. It just hit me that, this year, he will turn seventeen, the same age I was when he was born. It puts things in perspective, that’s for sure.
I can’t stop anyone from getting older anymore than I can tell the moon to stop changing its shape. Time is going to soldier on like it has for centuries, and life as I knew it will always be changing. Before long, I’ll be an aunt and will attend birthday parties at Jarrod’s house for children that seem utterly impossible because, to me, he’s still a child himself.
I suppose that’s why I’m grateful to have a brother to share a birthday with, and I can’t imagine what life is like for people who don’t have a similar arrangement with their siblings. No matter how many other things in life change, this is a constant we can rely on. Even if we’re miles apart and can’t celebrate it together one year, we know there is another soul somewhere on this planet who is thinking about us and wishing us well that April 21st. Our shared day isn’t an inconvenience or a hindrance; it’s a privilege God allows us to share. And I, for one, wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I didn’t just want an excuse to put that song in a blog, I promise! However, if you want to get into the spirit of this post, I highly suggest you watch. Sing along, too!
I am one of the few people in the world who can actually say I like my boss. (Most people will do so and then flinch, waiting for the inevitable lightning strike sent down to punish audacious liars.) And when I say I like my boss, I don’t just mean that in the “I’m friends with her on Facebook” sense or even the “I’d consider going on a vacation with her” sense. No, no. Nothing so piddly or ephemeral as that. I’m talking in the “Yes, of course she can have my kidney/liver/bone marrow” sense.
This year, her birthday falls on Thanksgiving, which meant that we wouldn’t be at work to celebrate it. Also, it’s a milestone birthday, one that ends in a zero, and it deserved a little extra ooomph as such. Naturally, all the little elves and I put our pointy hats together and came up with a fun and unique way to celebrate the miraculous and wonderful birth of one truly amazing person. Feel free to steal our ideas or just the concept itself in order to truly show someone you care about how glad you are that his/her mother chose to give him/her life.
We decided one day was simply not enough for the beginning of a new decade, so we elected to go for the week-long celebration instead. Thus, Operation Jenukkah was born. Naturally, we went with the Hanukkah idea as it provided a fun framework and title. Granted, our celebration was five days in length rather than eight, but no one (not even we) works eight days a week! 🙂 (Well, maybe Jen does, but that’s a story for another blog.)
Day Zero (Saturday)
On Saturday, I snuck up to work and with a roll of obnoxiously pink wrapping paper, copious amounts of tape, and a few other gewgaws and transformed her door into a package just waiting to be opened. Yes, it does look like a five-year-old, a highly distracted one, did it. But it’s the thought that counts, right? Right!?
**This turned out to be an unforeseen (but important) advertising element, the effect of which you’ll see on day five.**
Day One (Monday)
The key to throwing someone off the track regarding a Jenukkah-type birthday is to start simply. Seriously, think more “Ang Lee” and less “Michael Bay.” It gives you somewhere to start and work your way up from. We opted for flowers and a nice notepad as you can see here. Oh, and a jaunty balloon on a stick. Everything, and I mean everything, is better on a stick.
** Concerning logistics, it is best to sneak in before your friend gets to work. Thankfully, ours left her door unlocked, and that made this operation a cinch to carry out. If your friend/loved one is a little less trusting in humanity and locks the door, you have two options—1.) Buy and learn how to use a set of lock picks or 2.) Bring a box or two of tasty homemade baked treats to the building manager in exchange for access.**
Day Two (Tuesday)
Day two featured all manner of sweet things. Candy from Peterbrooke, a cupcake from CamiCakes, and a balloon featuring, you guessed it, a pink cupcake! She mentioned later in the week that this gift was well timed as she was stressed and fell upon the CamiCake like a Tasmanian Devil. After that, the day was better all around.
This is the lousiest picture I’ve ever taken, and not because I’m only slightly more skilled with a camera than an orangutan. Granted, there’s a ton of work on her desk in this one (as per usual), but the gift is not well featured. That’s something else to consider when carrying out your own operation. Gift placement is essential. It needs to POP, to draw the eye immediately. Her screensaver is more attractive than this set up. However, it was all themed, and that goes a long way. I’m a big fan of themed things. Just ask my mother about winning the neighborhood Christmas decorating contest a few years ago when we beat the guy who wins almost every year. It was like something out of Hoosiers.
Also, on a humorous note, Jen beat me in to work that day, so I had to stop, drop, and roll (all while holding a balloon) to get out of sight in time. She didn’t leave her office until nearly eleven, which is when I ninjaed in there with treats in hand. I suggest stretching before delivery each day…you know, just in case.
Day Three (Wednesday)
As you can see here, day three was all about the Achilles’ Heel of all females–make-up and bath products. One of the other girls at work snuck this one in and took the picture for me, and I have to say she’s a much better photographer than I am. She took several shots, all of which were done from different angles and levels. It made the gift look artistic! Also, she left a nice handwritten note to add to the surprise. Jen already had an inkling that something was up by day three, so letting her in at this point was part of the fun.
**Bonus idea! I had considered little handwritten notes explaining the theme of the day in doggerel verse, but time was short. It’d be a nice touch if you can pull it off.**
Day Four (Thursday)
By day four, it became apparent that the gifts were getting bigger. This one had the first double digit priced gift, a B&N gift card. (Great, now I’m singing “Hey, Big Spender” from Sweet Charity in my head!) The rest of the gifts are a clever cup from CB2 that has a place for a spoon in its handle, a box of vanilla almond tea from a company called Purse-anali-Tea. (There’s no link for this one because I can’t figure out how to spell it, and Google is giving me some weird as heck results I’m not keen on sharing here! It’s a purse full of tea. Hence the clever play on words. You get the idea.) We also threw in a cute little gift book, Wisdom for the Sole, because Jen is a shoe fanatic nonpareil. It’s full of fun footwear quotes and clever drawings, and it cost next to nothing.
**Shop smarter, not pricier! I find more often than not that people appreciate gifts that are well-thought-out to those that are pricey. It requires a little more work to find them (in this case, fifteen minutes perusing B&N after grabbing the gift card), but she said it was one of her favorite gifts of the week.**
Day Five (Friday)
Two things you’ll notice here. One, I took my own advice and made the gift much more attractive on the desk using a pillow from her couch. Had I thought about it, I’d have borrowed a mannequin (or at least one of those terrifying body-less ones that people use to display wigs). However, like Indiana Jones, we were all making it up as we went along. The scarf was from Charming Charlie, a great place for accessories, and the LOFT gift card was for her to pick an outfit to go with it from her favorite store.
The other point of note is the green bag sitting bashfully off to the side. Throughout the week, other people starting bringing in little things to add to the pile, things that we had nothing to do with! How cool is that!? Co-workers had begun talking about the door, which led to a discussion of the plan, and on their own, a few other folks started dropping things off on the sly as well. 🙂 Isn’t it great when an idea takes off!?
By the end of the week, Jen had a pretty sizable stash of treasure on her desk. However, according to her, the best thing was the fact that something else showed up on her desk each day…sometimes two or three times a day! The surprise is indeed the thing.
The Grand Finale
We finished the week with something we dubbed Cakeapalooza! A co-worker made the delicious cookie cake on the left and topped it with homemade whipped cream and strawberries. I did the chocolate peanut butter cake on the right. Naturally, we got together, sang, and ate a ton of sugary, carbtastic goodness. However, Jen (the smiling woman you see in the middle) thought her gifts were at an end and the cake was all there was. However, a group of people had chosen to contribute to another gift, and it was a whammer! Over the course of a week and a half, they had gathered enough to get her a $200 gift card to the Apple Store for the purchase of a new iPhone 4S, which she had been needing/wanting/dreaming about since it came out. Talk about an exciting conclusion! In fact, she was so stoked, she ran to the store before the end of the day and got exactly what she wanted.
So, all in all, Jenukkah was a fun experiment in gift giving we got to enjoy as much as the recipient. I highly suggest doing it to see how many people get caught up in the fun!