Friday, December 28, 2012


My dad once told me it's no coincidence that dog spelled backwards is God. 
That truth has never left me.

Twas the Night Before Christmas

And again...a big thank you to our good friends at Krispy Kreme! You might remember last year on Christmas Eve, they provided us all of the doughnuts at closing time. We then took them down to the hospitals and to the homeless.

Sometimes you can pinpoint a moment in time. This was it. This was the exact moment that changed Aviana's Elves for this year. It was on this crisp, cold Christmas Eve night. It was this man, with this dog, wearing his little red and green striped sweater, on this corner. He was so sweet, and so thankful for the bag of doughnuts he had just received.

I have given out food, money and dog bones to many homeless - but there was something about this particular interaction that stayed with me throughout the entire year through. Something that pulled at me. I saw something in him, in them...

I don't know what's in store for the future of Aviana's Elves, but what I do know is this - it will always be drawn in the design of helping those most severely in need. It just makes perfect sense. If you look to Aviana's background from Guatemala, and combine the ways in which I have always felt compelled, and the charities I have veered towards, all of the pieces just fall right into place.

We will follow where the need is greatest...always.

This year, we were leaving to Tahoe - so Aviana asked her best Elves if they would carry on while we were away. They graciously agreed : ) My Mom, Gary, and Amy met at Krispy Kreme and along with their amazing staff, they packed the remainder of the doughnuts. Amy and her sister Megan then drove down by Loaves and Fishes and gave them all out! 

Amy said it was so rewarding to give something so little to people, and have it mean so much. She said every single person she encountered was both gracious, and appreciative. She also said the experience was really uplifting as everyone's response to them was some variation of, "Merry Christmas, God bless you, thank you" and much more. 

She said because of how gracious they were, it made her wish she could do more - 

They reminded them not to take life for granted. To be more thankful for what you have. To be thankful for the warm car you're driving in, the bed you sleep in. Simple things, 
like a toilet. A shower. 

Through their graciousness, they gave her the Christmas Spirit she so desperately needed this year - they gave her more than she gave them!

Amy and I couldn't stop talking about her night. It's no wonder we're two peas in a pod, we both felt this Christmas Eve experience was one of the single best of our lives!  

To Susan...and the rest of the staff at Krispy Kreme - thank you for showing us, and those we continue on to such kindness!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

With Love

I hope you all had a Happy Holiday! We spent it in Lake Tahoe, and it snowed, snowed, and snowed some more. It was an absolute winter wonderland up there. 


I wanted to take the time to thank those who donated to Aviana's Elves this year. I want you to know how grateful I am for you! I am so thankful for the people I have met through this blog, for you are one of the best, and most unexpected blessing to come out of this whole thing!

As I have already told each and every one of you - for us, what you have done is multifaceted and extends far beyond helping the homeless. You have also helped carry us through another holiday season.

Having Aviana like this, especially after having her well, can be difficult through the holidays. Creating Aviana's Elves was the perfect way to refocus our attention for the better. Had we just gathered our own funds, we wouldn't have been able to make the impact we did. It's a beautiful thing...all the way around.

So, we thank you for helping, them - us - for just helping.

William at Starbucks really is an amazing person and provided over 225 Via instant coffees for us! We also received some from two other locations as well. They also provide all of the cups, lids, straws and stir sticks. Starbucks is always very generous in helping anytime we ask! 

Theresa at Panera has helped us for the past 2 years in a row now. She is so sweet, compassionate and doesn't even hesitate. She provided 100 cookies both years.

Noah's Bagel is also very willing to provide whatever they can as well. It amazes me how some businesses are so willing to help.

Stephanie at Target is one of my very favorite people ever. She was leaving the company, but made sure beforehand to call me back in November to make sure I got a $100 gift card. She also made sure to line me up with the new HR person for next year. 

She is a person I met along the way that I will never forget. She's the type of person you meet briefly, but leaves that lifelong 'she made me a better person' imprint.  

Taco Bell loves my mom, and let me just say...we love Taco Bell! Have I ever told you that? Yeah, it's our guilty pleasure. Potato Taco please ; ) 

Well, my mom raised many a free meal from them.

We thank them...I mean, 

Muchos gracias.

Yo quero Taco Bell!

Have I told you I've been known to vet hop? Well not anymore. I finally found one I'm happy with a few years ago. Well, I'm a recovering pet store food hopper too. I was completely smacked out until I found Ben's Bark Avenue Bistro. Since then, I've been on the straight and narrow ; ) I'm sure you've noticed that my dog is my life, and you know, you don't just trust anyone with your life! 

If I sense that my vet, or my pet food store don't love dogs at least as much as I do...I leave. I jump ship. I don't care. I'm outtie.

Ben's is the only place that loves dogs as much as I do. I feel it in every fiber. Brad and Sally are the owners and they are all knowing about the health, and well being of our loves. They are honest, fair, kind, and straightforward. 

As I said before, I was absolutely shocked when I asked if they would be willing to donate and they wheeled out a dolly stacked five boxes high!! Not only did they donate bags, but they also donated sample sizes, which ended up being perfect so the homeless people could carry them on the road to feed their dogs.

Thank you both so much for your generous donation, but also thank you for doing what you do for the dogs, and for us to care so healthfully and lovingly for our animals!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

We Gave the Love Around

Once we got to Loaves and Fishes, I asked if it would be okay if I took Amy around. The staff there are some of the most welcoming people I have ever met, and said of course. 

I first wanted Amy to see Friendship Park. They refer to the homeless people as their guests, and treat them with only respect. I love this, as my guess is they are seen as mostly invisible in the outside world. Friendship Park is a place they created with lockers, places to wash their bikes, pump up their tires, use the restrooms to clean up, and so much more that they best explain here.  

I didn't want to be snapping pictures all around so the above picture is one I got off the internet, so you could see.

The park is really big, with lots of benches and such.

But what I really wanted to show Amy was something that brought me to my knees when we first toured this place. 

They have a Memorial in the back of the park and it's for those amongst the homeless community that pass away. Many are distanced from their family and friends, and they at Loaves and Fishes don't want for them to be forgotten, so they have a Memorial service and then engrave their name in the wall you see below. There wasn't anyone around so I did take a picture this particular day.

This wasn't all of it, but like I said, I didn't want to seem like some tourist...snapping away.

We then went over to the dining room to give them the 100 cookies Panera donated and the bagels donated by Noahs. Again, these are not my pictures, but they are of the Loaves and Fishes dining room and this was exactly what it looked like inside. 

I will never be able to explain how it felt to see people serving those who have nothing to eat. Amy and I are two of the chattiest people I know, and we walked in and out of here and there grateful, and often times in complete silence.

Our next stop was to deliver all of the donations for the kids of The Mustard Seed. It was outrageous! They blew our minds. If you could see what they do year in, and year out, it would make your head spin. They raise enough to provide a Christmas for over 3000 homeless children a year!

It's staggering, but understandable - they said homelessness is up 38% this year : (   

It felt really good to know that we were able to help this year!

I couldn't wait to show Amy Anneke's Haven!! 

This kennel was created as a safe place for their guests to bring their animals while they eat, participate in programs, or go on job interviews, etc. 

I think it's amazing because many of us know the importance of the love of an animal, and we all could use that : ) 

While in Anneke's Haven the animal is cared for and fed. On the second Saturday of the month, vets also donate their time and provide services as well. 

There wasn't anyone around, and the woman working there gave me permission to take pictures to my heart's content. So I did!!

My heart...a puddle.

This is Anneke...beautiful! 






This was by far my favorite picture. Reciprocity wise, I think it speaks volumes!

Never do : )

This one was also hanging in there with this caption...

"This dog doesn't know he's homeless"


And for our last stop, we went to the warehouse and donated the remainder of what was left in our cars.


This delivery day was without a doubt one of the most important, meaningful, and memorable days of my entire life.


Delivery Day

Our little sweetheart inspired something truly amazing here, and it is going to take me a few posts to share with you. I want to show you what we collectively came together and created for the homeless men, women, children, and dogs of Loaves and Fishes.

By the time we were finished, we couldn't even walk into the room. 

All of the dog food you see in the front was donated by the store we purchase all of Rainey's food from called Ben's Bark Avenue Bistro. They are truly amazing and when I asked if they would be willing to donate, I had no idea they would wheel out five full boxes on a dolly for us!!!

** Can you see Rainey in the right corner? **

As you can see, their generous donation caused us to overflow our room! A certain black beauty was having a difficult month in the understanding department with all the extra food everywhere!

Rainey says, "maybe they won't notice if one, two, or ten, are missing?"

Starbucks was awesome and donated about 225 of their Via Instant Coffee drinks again!!  

Oh Meek Feek!

So cute I couldn't choose.

Our killer neighbors came over once again this year and helped us load everything up. Between my Mom, Gary, Warren, Anna and I - we had this room cleared out, and all packed up in no time at all : ) What a difference it all makes sans boxes!

Amy was out picking up the 100 cookies that Panera had donated. Man...we have some good peeps!! 

Friday, December 21, 2012


They say cats have 9 lives. Aviana's had at least that many. Much has tried to take her; the car, the street, multiple surgeries, doctors, nurses' opinions, the failed liver biopsy, even us. But always - there's an underlying whisper that says, "No, I'm not ready to go."

Because she hasn't had the sort of recovery we had hoped for, we have been forced to rifle the ends of our souls for the meaning of her existence. Through the years, I vacillate, but am happy to say - for the most part - I dwell with a grateful heart.

Others who don't know Aviana, or who've spent little time with her, forever doubt her worth here on earth. With, or without a word - her worth is completely etched and sketched. I have a front row seat on this journey, and while I understand completely, as I too had past doubts, the pain is no less dulled.

It doesn't matter if it is straight up, or as gentle as can be, it cuts both ways. The message is received. It's amplified and all the same... Aviana's worth here on earth helps to make the difficult decisions in others' lives. I understand the reality of this. It's a cold, hard, fact of life. She serves many purposes for many people. I understand. We too have had to face this in our own lives. It's just one of those things that hurts more when heard out of the mouths of others. It stings the ears to know that your own loving child is used as a tool, an instrument, a measuring device used in the lives of others' mortality.

Had we known then what we know now, we wouldn't have chosen this life for her either, but some choices in life are chosen for you. As you go through, you think you know, but when push comes to learn. We sure did. I always thought decisions would be black and white, but my gosh, as grim and dim as Aviana's situation was, how the heck could there have been so many shades of gray? I don't know, to this very day...

In fact as many long time readers know...we went into the family meeting to let her go, only for the game to change, in the 11th hour. But like I said, Aviana has had over 9 lives - for some reason her life continues to speak in whispers and so I will continue to listen. I will continue to look to the fact that she is here for a reason. And I will use that reason!

If Aviana died on the street that day, I would be no better than I was that day. And I suppose maybe some are spared on this earth because maybe those parents were in need of betterment? I was one such parent. But who really knows? I certainly don't. I don't have any answers as to what this is all about. I'm only guessing.

Anyway, I've always liked a challenge, but I'll be the first to admit - since the day I met Aviana, she has been the biggest of my lifetime. This is no walk in the park for me. I sometimes struggle with what is. I struggle sometimes over missing her dearly. I struggle sometimes over little things - like the fact that I can't go to children's birthday parties and seeing all their healthy, operating brains, and moving parts at once. But at the same time, I also think I do exceptionally well considering. You all know exactly what this is like for me though, as I slather it all over these pages.  It's up, it's down, it's all around. For me, it's so many things to have a child like this. But overall, there isn't a day that goes by that Aviana hasn't pushed me further, made me stronger, or made me reach so far outside my comfort zone it isn't funny!

She's someone who has a way of forcing everyone around her to take a deep look within. Whether you like it or not she makes you face the parts that are pretty scary to look at. She is someone who challenges every boundary of your being and makes you question all the way to your core. She's someone who shows you what you're truly made of, or not. She holds a mirror straight to your face, even when you don't want to look! She's hard-core...because sometimes, you see things you don't want to see! Sometimes you see things that need fixing! Ohhhh...that guuurl!

Sometimes she shows me impatience when I'm feeding her and she won't open her mouth for the 57th time. Sometimes she shows me she's in severe need of a dunk in the tub, even when our backs our breaking from carrying all 36 pounds of her around all day long. Sometimes she shows me much deeper and darker things I wish not to have ever seen. These are the reasons it just might be a little exhausting, at times, spending all day staring at her over Christmas break : ) She points out all of your good, but doesn't hesitate on your flaws too!

Seriously though, over the years she has pushed me to do things I always wanted, but didn't. Things I never thought I could, but did! She's made me do things I never thought I was strong enough to do. She's shown me strength I never in my life thought possible. I have been through things in the hospital with her (can't stop crying) that I can't believe were possible. She's the...strongest that isn't even the appropriate word, it's weak in describing her. She is of Mayan decent. Those Maya people are indescribable in nature, and that is exactly who she is.

I have veered slightly off track, but what I want to say is, as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to give of myself physically, but for one reason or another have always found an excuse throughout the year to write another check to another cause. Which wasn't bad, I felt good in doing's just that in the back of my mind, I always knew I was internally coping out on myself - yet again.

Many over the years have doubted Aviana's worth, myself included. I want to take the time today to talk about her worth.

Without one single word, she puts words in my mouth and all over these pages for Aviana's Elves.

Without one single movement of her body, she puts ours in full motion for Aviana's Elves.

Her little heart has expanded mine 1000 fold.

I take zero credit for Aviana's Elves, and give her full credit for everything you have seen over the past two years, as we are truly working through her.

I just know that without her, I would never have physically done any of this, as she motivates me to do better. To be better. 

Aviana's Elves. How appropriately named, as we truly are her elves : )

Her's immeasurable. Lives? I don't know how many she has left here on earth, but what I do know is this - I will continue to physically give for not only all of her days, but all of mine too. Through Aviana I have learned that there are many that can't...
but I can, so I will. 

As for Aviana, I know she will continue to inspire those around her. She will continue to challenge people. To teach people. To show everyone to take the time to look beneath. She will continue to be an example of what life is all about...and it's simple -

A giving spirit. A beautiful soul. And above all...a loving heart. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


It was everything I thought it would be,

And more.

The room was finally empty,

And my heart,


With my head against the pillow,


I must have briefly fallen asleep,

Only to be awoken by Dave.


One little nap.

How could it be?

From the highest high,

To the lowest low.

Can you imagine?

Yes I can.

Life as I knew it....over.

A beautiful child walking out the door, 

For the very last time.

Never to return again.

Why...yes I could.

But the parallel lines end there.

I can't imagine.

Not at all.

Since then...

I have taken on a bit of their sadness.

Just as I'm sure we all have.

My heart breaks and aches.

And stretches all the way across these state lines.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


 This email just arrived in my inbox. Knowing the secret I've been keeping, it made me smile the biggest smile humanly possible. They don't even know that coming this Friday, we have something so amazing in store for them!! I look at those faces, and I'm happy to say, we're not done yet kiddies! The donations have still been rolling in all morning long. We are going out shopping tonight and we'll happily continue to all the way through : )

To all who have made this possible...we thank you for your generosity and compassion.

Help homeless children have Christmas. We need new unwrapped toys for children ages infant-15.View this email in your browser

Help Homeless Children Have Christmas

Mustard Seed School Christmas Giveaway

Mustard Seed School invites you to join them in bringing gifts to homeless children. You too can bring the joy of Christmas to our smallest guests. The children who receive these gifts are either currently enrolled in the Mustard Seed School or their families obtain services from one of our other programs at Loaves & Fishes.
Mother With Children
We need new unwrapped toys for children ages infant-15. 

We will be giving the toys along with wrapping supplies to our families on December 19, 20, and 21st.
We also need wrapping paper and scotch tape.
Bring toys to our warehouse at 1351 North C Street, Sacramento.
December 10th-17th 
7am to 3pm
or call 916-447-3626.
Peace & Love
Loaves & Fishes

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Sweetest Little Sweetie

Ok...guilty as charged. So maybe I sit with my camera and speak for both the spoken, and unspoken.

Aviana can usually take food or leave it, so this night I was really surprised. I'm sure she was probably more interested in Dave more than anything, but I couldn't help myself : )

What'cha eating Daddy?

A salad sweetie.

I bet it's a good one.

I sure wish I had a leaf.

Maybe he'll give me some.

Sweetie, salad is really hard for you to eat.

How about a kiss instead?

How about some salad?