Giving and Thanks

A lot of people use November to list something they are grateful for each day on Facebook. I have never participated, not because I don’t have 30 things to be thankful for, but because November is insane and I never remember about it until, like, the 5th. Then I am already behind.

I also like to think of November as a time to give as well as to be thankful, and that’s just a lot for Facebook where I am pretty sure people already “hide” me.

Besides. I have a blog for these things, yes?

So because it’s November 10, here are 10 things I am thankful for AND 10 ways I try to give (and one request)…

I am thankful for…

  1. A husband who doesn’t consider being a good dad something “extra”, but something that is just his job as a dad. Not only does it make my life easier, but it is priceless for Eddie, Charlie, and Alice to have such an involved, loving dad.
  2. Three healthy kids who are the perfect fit for our family. Each fills a roll in this family that make us complete.
  3. A job I love.
  4. My students and their middle schoolish-ness. They want so badly to be adultish, but they still are very much kidish as well.
  5. This little house that drives me crazy. Eleven years ago, Cortney and I started the process to buy this house. It seemed so big and so full of possibilities. With three kids and a zillion more tubs of stuff, this house is starting to feel like the shrinking house. But it’s cozy and keeps us safe. It’s seen us through lots of loss and even more happiness. It is our home.
  6. My mom and dad. They have been married over 40 years and they are wonderful models to us of what a good marriage looks like.
  7. my internet friends–you are proof that the internet is not all mean comment sections and uproars over coffee cups.
  8. my “in real life” friends–I love you and cherish you and do not do nearly enough to show you that.
  9. my siblings. The older I get, the more I realize how rare it is to not only have siblings you get along with, but siblings-in-law you love and get along with as well. Wait. I don’t just get along with all 8 of my siblings/in-laws, I consider them my friends. That is a gift.
  10. health care that lets me take care of my family’s medical needs, vision needs, dental needs, and mental health. It’s costly, and it means I make way less than I could be making, but I have never had to worry about the cost of taking my child to urgent care for a fever.

Ways I am (we are) giving…

  1. We support my school’s theater program. Theater and the arts save lives.
  2. We are donating all of our baby items that we are done with to family’s who need them.
  3. We are buying books for my classroom library. Books save lives, yo.
  4. I donated children’s books to a local charity.
  5. We donate to the food drives at Eddie’s school and my school.
  6. We do the Angel Tree.
  7. We give collection in Sunday School (Children in Worship) to help buy goats for a needy community.
  8. We donate gently used clothes, toys, and household items to GoodWill
  9. I give my time as a Sunday School (Children in Worship) story-teller/leader.
  10. I cook meals for family and friends when they have a BIG LIFE EVENT like a baby or a loss.

Not all of the above ways to give are monumental, but when you don’t have a lot, you give where you can. We are not in a time of life where we have an overabundance in the finances department, but we always have an overflowing of love to give.

And now that request…

if you have stuck with me for any amount of time, you know that one of the places that the most of our money and the most of my time goes is the literacy of my students in the form of my classroom library.

You have all always been so generous.

My students have come together and made a list of 25 books they really want in our library. I posted it on where people can put as much as they want toward our “project”. If you type in SPARK when you donate, your dollar amount will be matched.

View our project here.

We are already about a third of the way to our goal; we need under $200 more. A $5 donation could be $10 when you enter SPARK and put us that much closer to getting these books.

If you’re looking for ways to give this season, I would love to be on your short list. Otherwise please consider passing our need to someone else who might be looking for a place to donate.

Thank you. THANK YOU for your continued support.

Because of your kindness, we are now halfway to getting the books for my classroom library! Only $150 to go!

I am Thankful for Small & Local Businesses

Did you know that for every $100 you spend at a small business, $68 stay in the local economy? And that shifting 10% of your purchases from chains can create new jobs?*

I think it’s pretty clear that supporting local and small businesses are important.

But even without researched facts, I love to and would much rather shop small and/or local shops.

While I can’t deny that I’ve had ok customer service and great deals at the big chain stores, I have never built a relationship with a big box store like I have with small shops.

Small shop owners have become my friends.  They have swapped life stories with me.  They have checked in with me.  They have collaborated with me to create truly unique and personal gifts.

In short: They are approachable.

In celebration of the fact that tomorrow is Black Friday, Saturday is Small Biz Saturday, & Monday is cyber Monday, I have compiled a list of small and/or local businesses that I would encourage you to support this weekend.  The list is pretty diverse, so there should be something there for many on your holiday shopping lists…

Flawed Perfection Jewelry: pretty and affordable…such a sweet gift for any girly girl in your life.  I have this necklace and every time I wear it I get loads of compliments.

Changing the Universe: super cute handmade coasters and pillow covers.  She even has Christmas-themed ones in the shop right now…just right to add that holiday touch to your decor.

Lichterman Law, PLC: this practice is local to the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.  Remember my post about the Priceless Conversation and our estate planning/will creating experience?  This was the lawyer we worked with.  If you are local to me and have been thinking about getting your ducks in a row, Mike is your guy.  I mean, he even linked to me in a blog post.

R&L Design: This is my newest obsession favorite shop. I have already gotten three pairs of earrings and a necklace just for myself because her stuff is so incredibly cute and affordable.  I have a feeling I will be shopping for friends and family here too (I can’t stop myself)!

Bella Joy Pottery: Ah another local gal.  That just makes my heart happy.  As does her AMAZING pottery pieces! I cannot think of a more special and unique piece to get someone on your holiday list than something from Bella Joy Pottery. I already have my eye on something for someone on my list…but I can’t tell!

GCS Design & Print: If you’ve been around these parts for any amount of time, you know my heart has been sold to Courtney of GCS Design for over a year now.  She makes designs from birthday party favors and invites to my biz cards to this very blog…they all fit my personality and tastes perfectly.  It’s a very special relationship once you have found a design artist who “gets” you.  I have found mine. ::cue happy sighs::

Coconut Robot: When my heart needed her most, Kacia was introduced to me via twitter.  Not only has she been a rock and an inspiration to me spiritually, but she made Charlie a pair of booties that will forever be part of my heart.  When he is a big, hulking teenage boy someday, I will be able to look at those booties with his name on the leather soles and remember my baby bird.

Naptime Diaries: This is a new shop to me (introduced to me by Kacia) and I have fallen hard for it.  Cort and I have poured over the products trying to decide on a few as gifts. I can’t wait to start making those holiday purchases.

Stitched Simplicity: Oh Erika. One of my longest shop loves. I have been ordering baby blankets from Erika for years now.  she makes the most lovely (and baby-friendly/durable) products. Her bibs and blankets have a unique backing that I have yet to find elsewhere.  Bonus? She is the crafty hand behind Charlie’s stocking. It’s good to have crafty friends!

Sew Curly: I am sure you all read my swoony post about Kristina earlier this week, so you KNOW she makes this list! And guess what?  Good through cyber Monday she has a 15% discount code for you. YES YOU! Enter THANKFUL at checkout to receive the discount. I got excited about this discount too since again, I have a whole list of nieces and nephew who will be getting things from her shop for Christmas.

mL photography: Missy is my photographer. My ONLY photographer.  She makes this world beautiful.  Not just with her photos, but with her heart and her smile.  She is local to me too, so if you’re in the area and are looking for a great deal on gorgeous photos, you need to contact her. Want proof?  Look at my about section, her work is all over that.  As is my head shot up there. She exudes awesome.

Papersalt: Gifts from Papersalt make the best stocking stuffers.  Their products are family-oriented and focus on positive characteristics like giving and making time for family. We have a few of their books and just love them.  And bonus for you?  From Black Friday through Cyber Monday you can get 40% off all orders of $50 or more!

babEblessings: If you follow me on instagram (ksluiter) you have probably seen my daily #SheReadsTruth posts.  The journal I use is from babEblessings. I love it. LOVE IT.  We also have some prints by Jacqueline posted around our house and my classroom.  They are wonderful reminders of all the wonderful blessings in our life.

Gussy Sews: She needs no help getting exposure, but I would be remiss not to mention her.  I adore her product, but I also love Ms. Maggie to the moon.  She was a local girl…until she ran across the country with her man and put a baby in her oven. I will always consider her local though.

 Local Lustre: Lindsey makes two seemingly unrelated products: kidswear and home decor.  Specifically you can get your state made out of burlap as a cute door hanger. And guess what? She has a 15% discount for you this weekend!  Just enter SBSTHANKS at check out!

addyeB: Have an art-lovers on your list? Then this is the shop for you.  Beautiful pieces of modern art that will add a total SHA-ZAM of color to any room!

Junky Brilliance: This is THE shop for ugly holiday sweaters.  No seriously.  She thrifts them so you don’t have to.  Have an ugly sweater party coming up?  Browse in the comfort of your own home instead of schlepping through thrift shop bins. You’re welcome.

Imagine Toys: This is another business local to me (Battle Creek, Mi), and one for whom I contribute a monthly blog post.  Not only do they have awesome products at great prices for the kiddos on your list, but they are busy doing good this weekend as well.  Check it out:

click on the picture to go directly to their fb page and “like”

There are many, MANY more I could mention…but I think this is a great list to get your shopping started.

What small or local businesses do you love?

Where will you be giving your business this holiday season?

*Thank to Guilty Squid for the small biz facts. Love ya, girlie.