Something to Think About: Letting Your Significant Other Go

This is an amazing post that I found a while back. Freedom to be ourselves in our relationship with our partner/spouse is so important, and I could have never imagined saying it the way Seth Adam Smith puts it in his post

I’m Letting My Wife Go.

But now I frequently refer to our life and plans as building our birdbath 😉

Go check out his post.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Lexi Lee Walk for Hope at the Alabama Jubilee and Hot Air Balloon Festival

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Over the last 8 months I have participated in various events for a 3 year old little girl in my community. Her mother and I were co-workers and then became friends as the recent events in Lexi’s life unfolded. Here is Lexi’s story directly from her mother:

Lexi’s Story
Within 2 weeks, Lexi had 20 to 30 unexplainable, thumb print size, dark bruises mainly on her legs but on the rest of her body as well. After noticing the excessive amount of bruising, with no explanation and no signs of going away, instead more were showing up, an appointment with her local Pediatrician was scheduled and blood work was done. Then, about four hours later while Lexi was playing outside on the swing set, the phone rang. Lexi’s blood-work came back abnormal and we were told to take her to Huntsville Hospital as a direct admit. Fear and confusion set in. Lexi was outside, playing like a normal 3 year old child and hours later she was being poked for more blood-work. Later that evening we got news that she might possibly have a blood disorder or leukemia. On September 24, 2013, the oncologist came in and told us the confirmed unfortunate news. Our beautiful daughter who we had bragged on since birth for being so healthy and never getting sick had the c word. She has cancer. She has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, commonly known as ALL, or just simply, Leukemia. That was the day our lives changed forever. We did not know what to do other than pray. Doctors at Huntsville Hospital gave us options as to where to receive treatment for Lexi and when St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was mentioned, we knew that was where we wanted Lexi to be. We knew there was no better place for Lexi to receive treatment. No family ever pays for anything at St. Jude. Because of events like, The Lexi Lee Walk for Hope, with the help of participants like YOU, my daughter is getting a second chance at life. Without the funding for research, Lexi and many other children would not be so lucky. People like you make this possible for our daughter and our family as well as so many other children and families. We will never be able to say “thank you” enough to all of the researchers who work to find the medicine and cures or the doctors and nurses who care for the children, so as a way of saying “thank you” and helping bring awareness to childhood cancer and it’s need for funding, our family is hosting The Lexi Lee Walk for Hope. Our goal in hosting The Lexi Lee Walk for Hope is to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Donations like yours allow research like this to happen!
YOU are helping St. Jude save lives by making a simple donation!
We, Lexi’s parents & family, want to say THANK YOU!
**100% MONEY RAISED WILL GO TO ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL – MEMPHIS, TN.**

Update on Lexi
Lexi is doing amazing! She is in the last phase of her treatment which consists of 2 ½ – 3 years. The last phase consists of 120 weeks. As of today, May 21, 2014, she is on week 15. We have a long road ahead of us even after the 120 week mark. Currently, Lexi receives at home chemotherapy which we give to her at night time. She also has an appointment each week at the Huntsville Hospital St. Jude Clinic where she receives chemotherapy, physical therapy and musical therapy. Sometimes she needs blood and/or platelets, which she is able to receive at the affiliate. She also goes to St. Jude in Memphis for check-ups, intrathecal chemotherapy and more intense chemotherapy. Some of the chemotherapy Lexi receives causes the leg and hand muscles to weaken and some cause nausea but if you saw Lexi, you wouldn’t believe that’s true. She runs and plays all the time like nothing is wrong. Even on clinic days when she has received chemotherapy, she comes home and runs and plays like it’s a normal day. For that, we are thankful!

Pictures of Lexi Lee and her Family:

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Chase, Jenna, and Lexi Chase Lee at St. Jude

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Lexi in the early days at St. Jude

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Lexi getting to play video games and still be a kid!

The Lexi Lee Walk for Hope was held at the Alabama Jubilee and Hot Air Balloon Festival in Decatur, AL. The Jubilee is held every year around Memorial Day Weekend. The walk was at 9 a.m. on Saturday and was a great and upbeat way to start the weekend! I love doing positive things and being active on a long weekend because it makes my time feel more accomplished. I invited my Girl Scout troop and also took my daughter along. It turned out great!

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This was the flyer distributed for the event.

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My daughter, Khloe, and Lexi’s Mom, Jenna. Lexi did not get to be at the event, but everyone still came out in support!

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Sign up table at the walk (:

HERE IS A LITTLE FYI ABOUT ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL:

In 1962, the survival rate for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (which is what Lexi is diagnosed with) was only 4%. Thanks to St. Jude & it’s research, the survival rate has reached 94%!!
• On average, 5,700 active patients visit the hospital each year, most of whom are treated on an outpatient basis.
• St. Jude is the first and only pediatric cancer center to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.
• St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world.
• The daily operating costs for St. Jude are $1.6 million, which are primarily covered by public contributions.
• During the past five years, 81 cents of every dollar received has supported the research and treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

If you would like to have updated information on Lexi’s progress or would like information on how to donate to the Lexi Lee Walk for Hope you can follow the pages on Facebook here and here. Also, Lexi’s mom blogs here.1240607_10202265096095892_106046578_n

My daughter and I didn’t get to stay long for the Jubilee after the walk, but we did get in a few hot air balloon sightings. (Next year it is my goal to go for the balloon glow and get to do a tethered ride. 😀 )

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We did get to see one balloon up while we were there and my daughter was SO EXCITED. She told everyone about it the rest of the day.

 

Happy Memorial Day, Grandaddy!

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1st. Lt. William D. Britton

United States Army

1 Cav Div Airmobile

Vietnam War

My Memorial Day is always honored toward all of those who serve in the United State Armed Forces, but specifically to this man. My paternal grandfather who gave his life in Vietnam just one month and one day after arriving. He left behind a pregnant wife. Four months later, she delivered William D. Britton, Jr. Twenty-one years later, I was born and then my brother 21 months after that. During my early childhood, I did not understand much about my grandfather. In my teenage years is when I began to investigate and understand who my grandfather was and what I came from. This quote sums it up:

“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”

– Benjamin Disraeli

Today I celebrated Memorial Day with my father and daughter. I snapped a picture of them fishing together and later looking at the photo, I just thought of what my grandfather left behind. But most importantly, what he ensured his son and descendants would be able to enjoy in freedom.

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Today and every day I am thankful for his sacrifice.

I hope you celebrated and thoroughly enjoyed your families this weekend. And more than that, I hope you remembered to thank a military service man and/or woman.

Our Lifelong Bucketlist as Husband and Wife

Trevor and Cindy’s Lifelong Bucket List

We were sitting around a few nights ago and came across the movie Bucket List and decided to watch it. I had never seen it before, so I was curious to see what it was about. Mid-movie, the Man of the House and I decided to create our own Bucket List of things we both want to do throughout our lives. I think by combining them together it will help us mark more off the list. I’ll be interested in helping him complete his dreams and can always find ways to combine items in one trip or event. I plan to update this list as we add things or mark them off.

Things in BOLD means only one of us has completed.

Things in BOLD AND ITALICS means that we have both completed it.

ADVENTUROUS THINGS:

1. Skydive (Planning to do this in October 2014 for my birthday!!)
2. Deep Sea Fishing
3. Backpack across a foreign country (Hoping for Ireland on our 5th Anniversary.)
4. Smoke a Cuban Cigar
5. Scuba Dive
6. Earn our pilot’s license
7. Fly a biplane
8. See the Egyptian pyramids
9. Whitewater rafting
10. Dog Sled in Alaska
11. Swim with Dolphins
12. See all Old/New 7 Wonders of the World
13. Drive Route 66 from Chicago to California
14. Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
15. Visit all 50 states
16. Drive a NASCAR
17. Try skeet shooting
18. Ride a camel
19. Get a couples massage
20. Hike a tropical rain forest
21. Visit Yellowstone National Park
22. Stay in an underwater hotel
23. Visit every Six Flags Park
24. Disneyworld and Disneyland
25. Swim with Sea Turtles
26. Ziplining (We will be doing this in October 2014 on our Honeymoon.)
27. Ride a dune buggy in the desert
28. Milk a cow
29. San Diego Safari Park
30. Go to a Kentucky Derby race
31. See a manatee
32. See a polar bear
33. Niagara Falls
34. Yosemite Falls
35. Bourbon Street
36. Waitomo Glow Worm Caves in NZ
37. Universal Studios
38. See a Volcano
39. Mt. Everest
40. Mt Kilmanjaro
41. The Venetian Hotel in Vegas
42. Sea World
43. The Georgia Aquarium
44. Iguacu Falls
45. The Great Barrier Reef
46. Coral reefs of Florida
47. The Everglades
48. Go on a cruise
49. Walk through a corn maze
50. Mount Rushmore
51. North and South Poles
52. Navy Pier in Chicago
53. The Bucket List Bar in Bondi Beach
54. A hot air balloon festival
55. Brooklyn Bridge
56. Gateway Arch in St. Louis
57. Kennedy Space Center
58. Cadillac Ranch
59. Elvis Presley’s Graceland
60. Lincoln Memorial
61. Times Square
62. Great Wall of China
63. The Galapagos Islands
64. Vatican City
65. The Taj Mahal
66. The Eiffel Tower
67. The Tower of London
68. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
69. The Grand Canyon
70. The Statue of Liberty
71. The Sears Tower
72. The Northern Lights
73. The Pyramids of Giza
74. Stonehenge
75. The Sydney Opera House
76. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
77. The Colisseum in Rome
78. The Smithsonian
79. Central Park
80. Las Vegas Strip
81. Grand Central Terminal
82. The Empire State Building
83. Tour The White House
84. Machu Picchu
85. The Crossroads Museum, Corinth, MS
86. Mud Island, Memphis
87. The Memphis Zoo
88. St. Louis Zoo
89. Own a successful Cattle business
90. Prank a stranger
91. Be at the birth of all of our grandchildren
92. Find the love of my life
93. Have a family
94. Raise a happy and healthy child/children
95. Renew our wedding vows every ten years
96. Build a house
97. Fly an airplane
98. Fly a helicopter
99. Fly a jetpack
100. Get a bachelor’s degree
101. Get a Master’s degree
102. Get an Education degree
103. Write a book
104. Write a blog
105. Learn to surf
106. Ride a mechanical bull
107. Make a difference in a person’s life
108. Volunteer
109. Create a YouTube video
110. Serve a meal to those w/o on a holiday
111. Teach my child/children to read
112. Teach my child/children to swim
113. Teach my child(ren) to ride a bike
114. Tutor students
115. Kiss the Blarney Stone
116. Attend an NBA game
117. Attend an NFL game
118. Attend an MLB game
119. Coach our child(ren) youth leagues
120. Watch my children be baptized
121. Learn how to use a pottery wheel
122. Carve our names in a tree
123. Visit the Sistine Chapel
124. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
125. Mayan Ruins
126. Inca Trail
127. Eat Kangaroo
128. Japanese Tunnel of Lights
129. Meet Chuck Norris (Ha! Please know this was not my submission.)
130. Visit Normandy Beach

131. Monroe, LA/Duck Commander
132. Scenic tour of the Natchez Trace
133. Mardis Gras in New Orleans
134. Jekyll Island

135. Volunteer in a Children’s Hospital

COUNTRIES:

1. Fiji
2. Canada
3. Mexico
4. Monaco
5. Belize
6. Costa Rica
7. England
8. France
9. Italy
10. Greece
11. Ireland
12. South Africa
13. Australia
14. Brazil
15. Japan
16. Maldives
17. Switzerland
18. Portugal
19. Spain
20. New Zealand
21. Antarctica
22. Turks & Caicos
23. Bora Bora

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

1. Alabama (Obviously. We were born and raised here.)
2. Alaska
3. Arizona
4. Arkansas
5. California
6. Colorado
7. Connecticut
8. Delaware
9. Florida
10. Georgia
11. Hawaii
12. Idaho
13. Illinois
14. Indiana
15. Iowa
16. Kansas
17. Kentucky
18. Louisiana
19. Maine
20. Maryland
21. Massachusetts
22. Michigan
23. Minnesota
24. Mississippi
25. Missouri
26. Montana
27. Nebraska
28. Nevada
29. New Hampshire
30. New Jersey
31. New Mexico
32. New York
33. North Carolina
34. North Dakota
35. Ohio
36. Oklahoma
37. Oregon
38. Pennsylvania
39. Rhode Island
40. South Carolina
41. South Dakota
42. Tennessee
43. Texas
44. Utah
45. Vermont
46. Virginia
47. Washington
48. West Virginia
49. Wisconsin
50. Wyoming

What is on your bucket list? Have you ever created a bucket list with your spouse or significant other? Have ideas that we don’t already have? Please send them to me! I’m adventurous and determined to make my Man of the House that way!! (;

The Golden Birthday

My Man of the House is turning 25 this March! (Next week, actually.) I am one of those people that gets excited about birthdays for other people, well mainly just people I really care about. I want to make them exciting and a big deal. That’s just me. That’s why I have made a big deal out of all of our daughter’s birthdays and she’s only 3. Ha! I may be setting some future fella’ up for high standards in the future, what can I say, that’s my job. (;

I do not like the thought of being older and less able to do things for myself, etc. Who does like the thought of that? I’m the kind of person that just doesn’t dwell on it. 25 isn’t as “exciting” as 21, but it is still a birthday milestone. Man of the House is taking it harder than I expected anyone to take turning 25. So, I decided to make it an exciting week. Yes, week. A year ago we did the Love Languages test and believe it or not his strongest love language is receiving gifts. I would’ve never thought that about him because in almost 5 years he has never let on that those things mean something important to him. Add all of that together and I have formulated a plan for his birthday next week. (Keep in mind, there will be no 25th birthday PARTY celebration. He would kill me. I’ve planned little things from our daughter and me that he isn’t really expecting.)

SUNDAY: A tradition in his family is that the Sunday closest to your birthday, you pick out the entire menu and his mother cooks it for Sunday dinner at her house. Everyone comes over and eats with you, etc. Its mainly just immediate family: his parents, 3 siblings, they’re children and spouses BUT they’re immediate family is not small, so it’s like a little celebration for you that day. There is even cake and singing.

MONDAY: This is his actual birthday. He will wake up to 25 balloons that have 25 reasons why I love him wrote on them, a special “My Dad” project from Khloe (her answers are HILARIOUS), and for Dinner we will be having Chicken Salad. May sound weird, but I eventually got it out of him a while back what his all time favorite meal is. So why not have your all time favorite meal on your birthday?!

TUESDAY: I will leave him a birthday card to find when he is up getting ready for work signed/colored by Khloe and me. He’s been wanting a new pair of boots for a while, so I created a gift certificate from a template off line for $$ towards a new pair of boots. That will be in the card when he opens it. Plus that night my grandparents invited us over for dinner already a few weeks ago. Now that they realize its the day after his birthday, they are cooking steaks and getting him a cheesecake since he doesn’t like cake. Score! (;

WEDNESDAY: I am going to leave a basket with some of his favorite things for him to find when he gets home from work. Things like twizzlers, starbursts, beef jerky, and a box of Tagalong Girl Scout Cookies. Plus whatever I find in the store while I’m getting the candy.

THURSDAY: I stole an idea from Find Joy in the Journey ( http://shannonbrown.typepad.com/life_in_general/lets-go-on-a-date.html ) I have created a basket of 12 envelopes filled with monthly dates for a year starting in April. And a few of them I have already bought tickets for (Hello, Groupon!). Woo hoo.

FRIDAY: That morning I am going to leave him a letter laying on his work clothes for him to read on the ride to work. I want to tell him why I’ve been celebrating his birthday all week, how thankful I am for him, and that I hope I get to see his next 25 birthdays, etc. Because it is Friday, and I am sure he will be glad to reach Friday after working all week AND I will probably be glad to have finally given him everything without getting so excited and giving it all to him early (HA!), I am going to buy him/us a 6 pack of beer and hope it’s warm enough for sitting on the back patio and relaxing. If not, the couch and living room and some DVR will work well enough. (:

Now, let the planning and purchasing begin!

Birthday Bucket List: Make a KIVA Loan

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Well I marked another thing off of my birthday bucket list. Last week I donated $25 to Damaris in Honduras.

1518158Damaris is 31 years old and married. She lives with her husband in the village of Nueva Frontera, Santa Bárbara. Previously, she had a convenience store.

For eight years now she has worked growing basic staples such as corn, beans, and coffee. She sells these products in the area where she lives. Her loan is for 17,000 lempiras. She will invest it in the purchase of fertilizers and in cleaning her coffee field, to keep it maintained and get better harvests. Her goal is to buy half a “manzana” [a manzana = about 1.7 acres] to sow coffee.

There are so many options for finding the person you want to loan to! Because of the difference in currency rates, $25 USD can go so much farther in different countries.

FROM KIVA’S WEBSITE:

“We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.”

Learn more about how it works.

If you would like to join and help those around the world try to make a better life, please use the link here: http://www.kiva.org/invitedby/cindy8457 For every new referral, KIVA will give me a free $25 loan to give to another individual who needs a little help to provide for themselves and families!

I agree so much with Kiva’s purpose which is stated below:

“We envision a world where all people – even in the most remote areas of the globe – hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others.

We believe providing safe, affordable access to capital to those in need helps people create better lives for themselves and their families.”

Would you consider donating today?

http://www.kiva.org/invitedby/cindy8457

A Gift that is Giving Back to Me

Two weeks, ago Santa was stopping by our local mall on a “special trip he had to make to Florida.” There was a big production with singing from special guests such as Frosty, Rudolph, Cindy-Lou-Who, the Grinch, special carolers and elves. We took our two year old daughter thinking it would be an exciting 45 minute event then we would be on our way shopping. Wrong. We stood in line after the show for two hours before we got to meet Santa. I know, we were crazy. As we stood in line to meet Santa, there was the usual Salvation Army Angel Tree set up nearby. It was not something that I could ignore. Not that I was TRYING to ignore the fact that there were at least 100 angels still on the tree, but I’ve just never been able to afford to buy a child their entire Christmas. As I stood there, I thought of all the children whose parents couldn’t afford the gas to even drive to the mall and visit Santa for free. How, to us, this seemed like such a simple thing to bring our daughter excitement, wasn’t possible for everyone. Two hours can give you a lot of time to think.

Eventually, I walked to the tree and began looking at the names and ages (I mean we were obviously going to be waiting a while, why not check it out.) As I looked, I decided we were adopting a Christmas Angel. No, we do not have a great surplus this year for Christmas spending, but we were about to do something to help. Then, as I looked at the different ages and watched as my daughter ran to me to check out what was going on, I decided I wanted to adopt a child who was close to her age. She asked me what I was doing, so I picked her up and I showed her all the angels. I said, “Khloe, all these are little boys and girls who need Christmas presents this year. Santa needs some help.” Next I asked her, “Do you want to pick one that we can help and buy presents for?” She responded, “We can? Oh that be so cool, Mama.” I walked around and read the information on various angels again and settled on a three year old boy. Three years old. I looked at my daughter as she ran back to her Daddy and began talking about Santa and playing with the other children waiting in line. Not a concern in the world. She will be three in February. It took me less than a second to try and fathom her doing without or not having any presents. Not only missing physical presents, but missing the excitement or happiness that should come along with the Christmas season. If I would have spent much more time thinking about it, I would have been in tears for her just from the mere thought of her heart or feelings hurting. At that point there was nothing anyone could’ve said to convince me otherwise. If Trevor and I had to not buy for one another, we were buying this child from the Salvation Army Angel Tree his Christmas presents.

When I reached where they stood in line, still waiting for Santa, nothing was said when I handed him the angel cut out to hold. I think he just knew that I had decided, and this is what we were doing. He has come to know after four and a half years that when I decide I’m doing something philanthropic, especially for children, just agree and help me make it successful. I love children; especially children in need. He probably already new as I headed toward the tree in the beginning that we would be going home with an adopted angel. Apparently he loves me for it any way. (:

I have received so much joy buying his presents. When I shop for our daughter, I know what she likes and know that when she opens it she will be filled with pure innocent excitement. That does bring me joy and anticipation of her opening them, but when I am shopping for a young child who I know minimal information about, I stand and imagine excitement and happiness with each individual toy I pick up. Does he already have this book? I wonder if he has these toy cars? Then I had so much fun picking out his clothes. I have a two year old daughter so I only ever enter the girl section in stores; and shopping for a 24 year old male is not the same as shopping for a three year old boy.

As I have spent time shopping or gathering ideas for our Salvation Army Christmas Angel over the last two weeks, I have also spent a lot of time thinking about the real meaning of Christmas and the idea of giving. I think gift buying at Christmas has gotten very blown out of proportion throughout the last 10-15 years. Christmas isn’t all about gifts and when I hear people say, “but they’re children, they won’t understand”, I disagree to a certain extent. They will understand what we have taught them to understand. (Now I am not discrediting the idea of the Salvation Army or buying for those less fortunate at Christmas. If I could, I would adopt 500 children at Christmas because I believe every child and person should have at least one gift to open on Christmas, but that is just not feasible for us.) How my thinking led to this was, that I know these children who receive gifts through the Salvation Army will appreciate and be thoroughly pleased with anything they get. The smallest gesture and gift will mean so much more to them than to many other children. It has made me change the way I want to teach my daughter about Christmas and giving. I have decided that every year, we will go together and pick out an Angel on the tree that is similar to her age and shop together. Of course, we will always provide for our daughter first, but if we have to miss out on a barbie doll or two so that we can give an entire Christmas to someone else, that is what you will find our household doing. I realize how blessed my daughter is: as her parents, we are not financially “rich”, but we can provide for her needs and are able to purchase toys and extra things for her throughout the year; she has both sets of her grandparents and three great-grandmothers and one great-grandfather still alive and able to be active in her life; my immediate family of aunts, uncles, first cousins and their children is approximately 16 people, and that is only my mother’s side of the family! Even if she received only 1 gift from each household other than from me and her father, she would have plenty. And what I would want her to get most out of receiving the gifts is the love that our family has for one another, not necessarily our ability to purchase material gifts. When she opens a gift I want thoughts like “oh, this made Aunt _____ think of me!” aka: Aunt ____ was thinking of me; Or, “Mimi got this for me because she knows I love Cinderella,” aka: she pays attention to notice the things I like. Not, “my Paw bought me _____ so I know he spent more money on me than my Uncle _____.” I would be horrified to know my child thought that! I would be horrified at myself as her mother for letting her down in my duty to raise her.

Basically, the decision to adopt the Salvation Army Angel from the Angel Tree this year has really reminded me as a parent what my duty is when it comes to teaching my daughter about Christmas, and well, about life in general. Yes, realistically I am totally aware that I will always purchase gifts for my child or children as long as we both hold employment and that throughout their childhood, they will be children who have selfish tendencies at times; but I will refuse to raise my children to think that Christmas has a certain price or gift minimum for it to be a successful or meaningful Christmas. I refuse to imply by my actions that they are only loved or noticed by family members if gifts are in hand. Honestly, if we show up at my grandmother’s house Christmas morning this year and none of her extended family were able to buy her a gift, she would be so wrapped up in the fact of getting to see all of her little cousins that she would not even notice, and I hope to keep that innocence in her heart. I hope that I can show her to hold onto that despite what society says is necessary for the holiday to be a “good Christmas.”

Little three year old Isay, who might never know his name appeared on a Salvation Army Angel Tree in 2013, will always be in my heart and mind as the first Salvation Army Angel I ever adopted; as the inspiration I had to change the idea my two year old already has of Christmas; and I will always wish I could’ve seen his face on Christmas morning as he opened all of his gifts.