making a house a home for those who truly need it

A few weeks ago I got a tweet from a wonderful lady asking for 15 minutes of my time. Little did I know what those 15 minutes were about to turn into!!

I called her back and we chatted and she told me about her project, her vision, what she was trying to do and that of all people, I was one of the first ones she thought about for this project (I was very honored!)

I am of course talking about the wonderful Kristi Hammond and the amazing new project she has founded called Local4Local4Local in support of The Ronald McDonald House of Northern Alberta.

So what exactly IS this Local4Local4Local project all about?

From the website:

The Local4Local4Local concept was born very organically. The Ronald McDonald House ™ tweeted out in May that they hadn't anybody signed up for their 'Home for Dinner' Program for the month of June. Founder of Local4Local4Local, Kristi Hammond, received the tweet, researched the program, and saw a valid way to get involved.

The idea grew out of a desire to be involved more than just once or twice per year, while still being able to afford the costs of purchasing food in quantities to feed 50 people for dinner. She thought that if a group of businesses banded together to provide more frequent meals, the share of cost and time would be manageable.

From there, the concept grew to supporting local businesses by purchasing all food for the dinners (as much as possible from local vendors) in order to provide stability to our local economy.

The 'Home for Dinner' program is a wonderful program that the house offers its families. Many of whom spend more hours than most of us work per day at the hospital, in appointments and watching their children getting various treatments and procedures done. And often the last thing on their minds when they finally make it back to the house is cooking a meal. This is where the volunteers come in. Different groups come in throughout the month and will supply all the food and make a fabulous homecooked meal for the WHOLE HOUSE! And for some of the families the impact that this has is immense.

Last week our Local4Local4Local team of over 20 different Edmonton and area businesses got our first look at The Ronald McDonald House and all that it does for the families that stay there!  Trust me, this is no ordinary house by any means, and I highly recommend that you take some time out of your schedule to go for a tour and check it out.

The house itself is HUGE! It has 30 full suites that operate at about a 99% capacity all year round! So far this year they have had to turn away at least 50 families and set them up in hotels because there is just not enough room. And as the Edmonton hospitals continue to expand, becoming leading centres of excellence and attracting more amazing pediatric specialists, the needs for the house and it's services will too.

There are families that stay at the house for a few days, some a few weeks and some that are there for months at a time. It truly is a home for these families and one that tries very hard to maintain that sense of connection and homey-ness for everyone.

I was moved to tears that night on more than one occasion and for good reason.

There are two incredible rooms at the house that every kid gets to visit. The first is The Quilt Room. This room is wall to wall shelves of handmade and donated blankets and quilts that every child gets to visit when they first arrive at the house. They can choose any one they want, and it is theirs to keep, for comfort, for warmth, to remember or to forget and mainly just to cuddle up in. Every single one of these blankets is donated by local volunteers and quilting/sewing/knitting groups and it is amazing to see!

The other very special room is aptly named "The Magic Room"! And any room that looks like this when you first walk into it, just has to be magical....

Inside the Magic Room, through a special doorway is a room FULL of every kind of toy or game that a kid would want. 100% donated and 100% awesome! And every kid that has a successful surgery or course of treatment or is ending their stay at the house gets to go into the room and choose their very own special toy or game or trinket or whatever they want to celebrate this milestone! There are some pretty special stories that go along with this room, just ask any of the highly dedicated and amazing staff at the house and they will gladly share!

After our tour of the house we all had a chance to hang out and have a little mixer in the HUMOUNGOUS kitchen and dining area. Kristi asked us each to introduce ourselves, our businesses and why we decided to be a part of the Local4Local4Local project. We all come from diverse backgrounds and all had different reasons for being involved and it was so great to hear about who they all are and what being involved with this project means to them.

When it came to me, well, I could barely get 5 words out of my mouth before I started crying (this should not surprise some of you who know me). You see, I kind of know what it is like having a child in hospital. My oldest was a 3.5 pound preemie and spent just over 2 weeks in the Royal Alexandra Hospital NICU when he was born, and as his mommy, I spent just about the same amount of time there as well. I had family and friends nearby who fed us, who brought dinners to the hospital, who made sure that my husband and I had what we needed to keep ourselves going during this time. It was good to know that we had that support and that help was never far away. So for me, thinking of these families, and quite a few of them happen to be ones with NICU babies, and of them being far away from their circles of support and extended families for far more than a few weeks....well, it was just too much for my brain and my tear ducts to handle.

And THIS is also the very reason that I am involved with the Local4Local4Local project! No mother and no family should ever feel alone when their child is sick and if a home-cooked meal can help that feeling of helplessness even a little bit, then here I come, apron and oven mitts donned!

So hold on to your taste buds Ronald McDonald House families! I make a mean turkey meatball!! I am so looking forward to my Home for Dinner night with two of the other Local4Local4Local team members and then sitting down and enjoying dinner with the families and truly making this an experience that we will all remember and cherish!

Thank you once again to our fearless leader, the wonderful Kristi Hammond (@memoryandstory), and all the local Edmonton businesses, big and small, who are volunteering their time and efforts for this great project!

To find out more about Local4Local4Local please visit the new website, like the Facebook page and follow the twitter account. And to find out how you can get involved with the Ronald McDonald House here in Edmonton, please visit their website and follow them on Twitter too!

Natasha~

This post is part of the Summer Blog Challenge.

31 posts in 31 days.

Please take a moment and peruse the other participants entries as well!  Thank you!

Zita of Ignite Strategic Solutions Cliff of Peer Pressure Works Tammy of Tam I Am Peter of Crazy Wookie Cookies Shaun of Expedition of Truths Chad of The Daily Grind Vlad of Analog Coast Kim of Nature Baby Bloggings Liam of ln The Now Earl of My Name is Earl (J. Woods) Brad of Kick Me Out Soon

We {baby} Wear, We Walk, We are a Community.

An excuse to get out of the house. A reason to get outside. Some great exercise. A chance to get some cozy carrier cuddles with a little one. And above all else a chance to be part of a community. One that in my humble opinion is absolutely amazing! This is what our Babywearing Walks are all about and just a few of the reasons that Erin from Cosy Baby, Happy Mommy and I started them last summer.

Today was our first outdoor walk of the Spring. And even though Mother Nature decided to make it quite the chilly day and construction and parking threatened to totally derail us, we managed to all find each other, to wrap, buckle and tie our babies and toddlers onto ourselves and to have a great walk.

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I am so excited for the next one and for the great opportunity to spend time with such an amazing (and ever-growing) group of mamas. If you are local and want to come on out and join us, then just keep an eye on our website and our Facebook page for future dates and locations.

If you are not local, what about starting your own babywearing walking group? For all of the reasons above and so much more!

Happy Babywearing Everyone!

Natasha~

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The Importance of Breastfeeding: X-Men and Faberge Shampoo.

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival! This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on The Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about Importance of Breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

Why is breastfeeding important to me?

Breastfeeding is important to me because it is not what is 'best' for baby it is what NATURE intended for our children. It is this incredible function of our human bodies that in some miraculous way produces THE perfect food for our babies, at the perfect time and in the perfect amount. Now a lot of you are going to say, no way Natasha, that is not true, it doesn't always happen like that, and you are right, for some mamas it is not perfect. But that does not mean that it was not intended to be and I think that everyone should at least TRY to breastfeed their babies, if only for a few months (but please try for the recommended 6 months).

Breastfeeding is also important to me because I know that breast milk is the most amazing liquid known to (wo)man. It has healing powers, immunity building powers, and disease fighting powers. It's like the Wolverine of baby food (he can heal himself and he fights the bad guys in X-Men)!

Why is breastfeeding important to my children?

That is an easy one. For my son, my breast milk was the most important element of his growth and health. I felt like it was my duty to give him as much of it as I could and for as long as he needed it to ensure that he kept growing and developing as close to his peers as possible. He is probably always going to be on the small side, but he is one healthy little guy. The kid has rarely been sick, and when he was and food was not something he was interested in, he would always still want to nurse. When my daughter was born, I think the transition to big brother was easier for him as well because he was still nursing. We never had any real jealousy issues and he loved to tandem nurse with 'his' baby sister.

Nursing has also always been a place of comfort for my kids. It is the universal bandage for all wounds, emotional and physical and I am so thankful for that and sometimes amazed as well. And sometimes it is simply a nice place for them to hang out and for the most part, I am OK with that.

Why is breastfeeding important to my family and my community?

My family has always been incredibly supportive of my decision to breastfeed my children and to extend breastfeeding as well. I am sure it was not always easy for them, my brother-in-law is just now starting to NOT leave the room when I am nursing my daughter, but they know how important it is to me and don't question or tell me to stop or any of the other things that I know happen to a lot of other mamas.

As far as my community goes, I think that breastfeeding is an important activity for new mamas that needs to be encouraged and seen as the norm and not the exception. I kind of look at it like that old '80's Faberge shampoo commercial, you see two mamas nursing and they see two more and so on and so on and so on.....at least that is my hope.

Happy Nursing Everyone! Natasha~


Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.