Sunday, January 25, 2015

Children for Children Concert 2014 - $1658 raised!!!


DSC_0112Just after Thanksgiving we had our 5th Annual Children for Children concert, a benefit concert put on by children to raise money for children in need.  This is a tradition my parents started which I loved as a kid.  The Kruckenbergs have helped me to share it with the next generation to help our own children feel the thrill and power that comes from giving.   (For other years click here and here and here).

This was by far our best concert yet.  The committee (my kids and the Kruckenkids) really pulled it off pretty much on their own.  They are old enough now (especially the older Kruckenkids) to really take the reigns.   Heidi and I got them together for weekly planning meetings starting about 6 weeks in advance, but they really took it from there.   These were heated meetings, lots of opinions among those kids!  They researched and chose the charity to donate to, came up with invitations and lists of who to invite, sent out emails to round up performers, set a goal for the money they’d like to raise, spent a LOT of time brainstorming how to maximize donations.  They discussed things they could do to get the other performers to feel connected and involved, how to get enough generous donors to attend, how to present the needs of the children they were trying to help in a way that would tug at the heart strings of potential donors.  They made a power point presentation, a donation box, organized the program, helped coordinate adults to help set up and coordinated refreshments.  The only big job I had was to bring my camera and take pictures (which i forgot to do!).  We were super proud of them, and they were beaming with pride in themselves.  I think it was a powerful experience for them to work hard and see something really amazing come to life.  Your help, their future. Children in Care for Life villages benefit from education, better nutrition and increased sanitation.

They had a goal to raise $1000.  (Last year they raised $800)  They ended up raising $1658!  This will be matched by the Eyrealm family foundation and donated to Care for Life, a non profit that helps families in destitute villages of rural Mozambique.  The money they raised (along with the match) will be enough money to support the children of three villages in Mozambique for a whole year, providing them with health education, family and education support.  The kids did put in a lot of hard work, but Care for Life was also pretty easy to sell.  They are doing incredible things to really change lives.  (click here to learn more about the amazing work they are doing). Care for LifeDSC_0115

Here is the planning committee with the Mayor of Malden.  We invited him on a whim and he came!  That was pretty thrilling for all of us.IMG_4661DSC_0079 

Hazel started the program off with a PowerPoint presentation about Care for Life that she and Charlie had created together.  She did such a good job, presented it up there in front of all those people like an adult.

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We had lots of variety in our performances, some really good talent, some blooming talent, some art displays and even a stand up comedy routine. 

DSC_0075 Ezra did a great job as the emcee, kept the program going, kept people happy and (most importantly) helped people remember that the purpose of the event (MONEY!). 

The fundraising tactics these kids came up with were astounding.  Before Johanna played her piano piece she told the audience that if the $1000 goal was reached she would donate her hard earned money that she had been saving for a One Direction concert to Care for Life.  I was super touched by this sacrifice she made.  DSC_0083 Then these boys stood up and committed to SHAVE THEIR HEADS if we exceeded our goal and raised $1500.  This created quite a stir and may be why we ended up raising so much.  DSC_0091At the end of the program all kids got up and sang Christmas Carols to finish off the night.  IMG_4687The donations rolled in and those boys were hoping secretly we wouldn’t make it to $1500.  They were all a little nervous about that public commitment they made.  But, when the donations hit $1500 they all got together and their dads shaved their heads.  IMG_4688It took guts and they were all pretty terrified to go to school with bicked heads, Saul and Charlie especially. So, before the weekend of the big shave they gave a presentation about Care for Life and the concert to all the third grade (using the same PowerPoint) and explained to their classmates why they would be bald, hoping that they could be seen as heroes instead of clowns.  And I think it worked.  I think everyone, especially teachers, was astounded at their good hearts, bravery and hard work.   IMG_4684Because the Mayor came they made it into the local newspapers, which of course made them feel like celebrities.

Care for Life put them in their newsletter and the founder wrote them this amazing letter in response to a letter Jo wrote to accompany the donation checks. 

Dec. 28, 2014

To The Wonderful Committee and Helpers in the “Children to Children” Project,

I wish I could deliver this in person and meet all of you but this letter will have to do. Thank you for your wonderful letter and photos! It just thrilled me to read it and know what you have done and how much money you all raised to help the children in Mozambique. This money will make a huge difference in the lives of the children and their families. I know it takes a tremendous amount of planning and hard work to put on something like this. Thank you so much for preparing and sharing your talents to put on the concert. I wish I could have been there. And thank you for choosing Care for Life to receive the proceeds and for being ongoing Care for Life Ambassadors!

I can tell from your letter that you already know a lot about Mozambique. I’ll mention just a few things to help you better understand how much this gift will mean to these people. Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world. Most people there don’t have running water or electricity and live in one room houses they make themselves with sticks or rocks and mud. They have a dirt floor and some don’t even have a door. Most kids have to walk a long way to get water that’s not very clean and then carry it home in a heavy plastic container. Most kids don’t get enough food to eat and they might only have one or two old shirts or dresses to wear. Most of the children in the villages either don’t get to go to school, or if they do the schools are often far away and only last a few hours a day.

We are so happy you have asked that your money go toward the Children’s Clubs. These clubs make it possible for the children to learn important things in their own villages and they learn things that will help them have a better life. The Children’s Clubs give them a place to go to where they can do fun activities and meet new friends. Their lives are very difficult and coming to the clubs on Saturdays give a reason to smile and feel good. They learn how to set goals and how to be healthy and have good lives. They learn it’s important to help others and they choose projects to help others in their community. And because they learn all these things they will teach others they know and in the future they will be able to teach them to their children and help them have a better life.

We are so grateful to everyone involved for this much needed donation. The money will be used to help supply the Children’s Clubs with lesson materials, soccer balls, a long jump ropes, and for the children to receive their own plastic folder with paper and pencil inside. The children will be so happy to get these things and they will love them even more because we will know these gifts came from some very kind children in America who cared about them. We hope you feel, that deep-down good, happy feeling that comes from giving of yourselves and helping others. Please know and remember that you have done something important that will make a real difference in the world. On behalf of all the children whose lives will be better because of you, we thank you all so much for your help and for your bright examples!

Love and blessings,

Cindy Packard
Founder and Board member of Care for Life

p.s. thanks also to those who even gave up their hair for the cause! You guys rock!!

The power of work and change.  It’s real and these kids felt it.  We’re so proud of them. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Peter is growing up.

I heart the rockland

Have I written about how in love with our preschool I am?  I almost didn’t sent Charlie there this year because it was too expensive for us, but when the director offered to barter with me – help with tuition in exchange for photography services – I said yes in a heartbeat.  I really couldn’t invent a better introduction to the world of formal school and learning than the Rockland.  We’ve loved it.  It’s old school, and homey and enriching and loving.  I’ve decided that the best way to judge a preschool is how your children behave when they come home.  Charlie and Hazel always came home from the Rockland happy and confident.  I know that they felt genuinely loved and enjoyed there.  In my book that wins a whole lot of points.  IMG_0021

Friday, January 23, 2015

Christmas 2014

IMG_4671 We had a great Christmas day.  It did start WAY too early again (remember this one?). I heard excitement bubbling up from Em and Peter’s room around 3am.  But I didn’t loose it, just calmly told them they had to go back to sleep or their stuff might disappear.  It worked….until 5am.   They played and ate stocking candy until 7 when they came barging into our room ready to wake us up with their carol singing.  I had been up listening to them for a few hours, so was in that sleepy excited state.  I think we all were.  And even though you’re tired, your pumped up with adrenalin.  It’s kind of a cool feeling, but one I don’t know if I could sustain more than once or twice a year.  IMG_7548  Sorry for the blurry picture (I was trying to simultaneously video).  I love these excited faces. 

Here’s about three minutes of our Christmas morning condensed down to 15 seconds.  Wow, that’s a lot of happiness jammed in there. 

Santa brings the kids one gift that they’ve asked for, something to wear, something to read and some sugar cereal.  Sometimes they get a few extra little surprises thrown in there. This year Santa brought them all underwear too….not sure how he knew they were desperate for some fresh pairs.  IMG_7531 Hazel’s loot: art stuff (canvases and an easel), the new Wendy Mass book, a coat and some whiffle (on her request, can you see her chugging it during that video?)IMG_7559IMG_7532 Charlie got The Frog.  He’s been wanting this ever since Uncle Tal brought one to the lake last summer.  Jeff of course was very happy with this gift, he got his old car out from when he was a kid and now their racing.  It makes him feel 12 again.  The battery and remote were too far out of Santa’s price range so Charlie spent his holiday building his car and doing money jobs like crazy to buy what he needed to get this car racing before he went back to school.  There was a lot of working and building which of course made us happy, but also a lot of complaining and worrying. And a whole heck of a lot of finagling to try to figure out how to get money faster.  He was trying to sell things off, cash in gift cards, return gifts, you name it.  I mostly made him work for the money. I think he’s got my compulsive gene….he just wanted to skip all the hard stuff and have that car out there racing.  We held firm, fielded a lot of complaints, hired him and fired him and finally he had the money to get that car going.  He was so proud of himself.  I think, even with all the angst it brought, it was a net gain for Charlie.  It feels so good to work hard for something.  IMG_7562IMG_7534Emmeline asked for a suitcase and an umbrella.  She got an umbrella from my mom so Santa just gave her this cute little suitcase.  I was a little worried on Christmas Eve that she was going to be sad about her request when she realized she didn’t have a toy like everyone else, but she was pleased as punch with that suitcase.  She played with it all day.  Packed stuff up, walked around the back yard, took it on our walk, unpacked stuff. I think she now feels like a real grown up.  She also got some little critters (love those toys) and some uniform long sleeved shirts (also something she’s been pining for).  I love my practical little Emmeline.  IMG_7565IMG_7533And peter got his beloved “RC truck that will drive over Toys.”  He was delighted.  That boy is always delighted.     IMG_7561  IMG_7563  We spent all morning opening gifts.  Actually, pretty much all day.  I always wish I had a picture of the whole room, all the mess and chaos.  I kind of love it.  It’s one of the only days all year where I don’t really have an agenda, which feels especially nice after having such a jam packed schedule for the whole season.  I feel like all I have to do is enjoy, to be in the present.  And maybe snap a few pictures (though I don’t even do that very well). IMG_7568 It was so fun to have little baby Zara with us.  She is a delight, and my kids all adored her. IMG_7574 IMG_7578 My mom and dad sent Jeff and I tennis racquets for Christmas.  Like, really nice ones.  Can’t wait to go and use them.  (happy that picture is a little dark, we are dorks).  IMG_7590 Julie’s Brother and his wife came over for brunch and hung around our messy house with us.  We ate Christmas Strata and sat around by the fire.  It was a crazy warm day so we went out for a walk around the neighborhood.  The kids each brought one of their toys to try them out in a space where there wasn’t wrapping paper covering the ground.  Em of course brought her rolley bag….she loved racing peter’s RC truck with it.  IMG_7606And Hazel started to get the hang of her Pogo stick from Grammie and Grandfather.  She was worried she’d never get the hang of it, but by the next day she could jump for miles on it.    IMG_7621 IMG_7627 IMG_7597

All in all, it was a great Christmas. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Christmas Eve 2014

IMG_4880 I love it when it’s finally Christmas Eve.  There’s still some work to do, but we’re in go mode, no more thinking or planning or buying, just executing.  And there’s this thick excitement in the air, all day long.  It’s one of my favorite days of the year.

After a day of last minute wrapping (a photo shoot for twins who came at a very busy time…hopefully I’ll post those pics sometime) and final preparations we sat down to our Christmas Eve dinner.  This is Jeff’s favorite dinner of the year.  It was so fun to have Eli and Julie with us again (they came a few years ago), this time with baby Zara. 

IMG_7464We also had our good friend Donna join us.  I think this is the third year she’s spent Christmas Eve with us, and she’s so easy going and good to have around.  I’m not sure what she thinks of all the craziness oozing out of those excited kids, but she keeps coming back. 

After dinner we acted out the nativity.  Peter really watched in awe and pretty much got what was going on.  He played Joseph and took his part very seriously.  IMG_4877-2

Here’s the thirty second version of our nativity  ^^^

And after the nativity comes my favorite part of Christmas.  The kids give their gifts to each other.  We did this growing up, my parents separated the giving of gifts from the getting of gifts and I always enjoyed it, but now, as a parent I see the wisdom it in.  Everyone focuses on the person giving their gifts.  Jeff and I try to praise the heck out of the one whose turn it is to give.  There’s a slow pace to it and by the end the kids are beaming with the joy of giving.  I feel like that might just get swallowed up in the craziness of all the getting if we waited until Christmas morning.  It is glorious to see your kids feel the magic of making others happy.    IMG_7476 IMG_7486 Hazel and Charlie are big enough to give some real gifts.  They earn and save up money so that they can shower their siblings with things they know they’ll like.  IMG_7493 IMG_7512 Peter and Emmeline are only rich enough to afford the dollar store.  But boy do those little $1 gifts make everyone happy.  IMG_7516 IMG_7521      IMG_7539This year we’ve working hard on eating our greens and the kids thought that Santa might enjoy some salad after all those millions of cookies.   IMG_7545 I love the way the living room looks at the end of the night.  Months of work right there, glowing in the light of the tree.  This is when I sigh a big sigh of relief.  Bed sure feels good on Christmas Eve!


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