Friday, July 30, 2010

Reasons why today rocked

So for those of you who are just sick and tired of my pessimism, ("Just cheer up you big faker!") I thought I would share that today has been a GREAT day. Here are the many reasons why:

  1. I made it through the second week of my new job at The Faison School. It's a tough job, no question, but definitely rewarding work. Today was extra rewarding because I got my first paycheck. Hooray!
  2. I got to spend a relaxing afternoon running errands that included stopping by the Godiva store and using a gift card. Remember: Chocolate Makes Everything Better.
  3. I came home and got to see my husband for a few hours before he jetted off to Kings Dominion for an evening of work. These days, we pass like ships in the night so it was nice to be able to chat and spend some quality time together.
  4. My brother was very thoughtful. He heard the message on the answering machine from the Ashland library telling me that the book I had reserved was in, went to the library, and checked it out for me. Now I just need to find time to read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
  5. Speaking of books, my aforementioned very thoughtful husband found a new book by Carl Hiaasen (Star Island) and bought it for me at Costco today. Did I mention I have some reading to do?
  6. I don't have to work at Romp n' Roll tonight. This means that I can have a restful evening at home with a glass of wine and a movie (or reading a book?). This is refreshing because I've spent every evening this week there (after working my "day job") and I'm pretty much exhausted.
And finally: the bestest, most wonderful, most fabulous news that I could receive today was from the IRS. Who gets good news from the IRS? Well, CJSTUF did today when we received the OFFICIAL word that we have 501(c)3 status. Yes, indeedy! This means that we can do LOTS of things now including apply for grants, fix our paypal account, get official corporate volunteers and sponsors, get access to free software, get sales tax discounts, etc., etc., etc.

More news to come! Thanks for your loyal support...and keep it comin'.
It's now OFFICIALLY tax-deductible!

PS If you have already donated to us this year, all of your donations for 2010 will retroactively be considered tax deductible. If you have NOT received a thank you note or statement from us reflecting your donation, please let us know ASAP and we will send out a letter for you. We have been sending out thank you notes and confirmation letters throughout the year but some have come back to us with incorrect addresses.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Who's ready to shop???

Very important news! It's been a busy weekend!

First of all, the Stella & Dot fundraiser will still go on through the end of the month so if you didn't get a chance to attend the trunk show and want to order some fabulous jewelry, go to and select Susan Ferguson as the host. I bought a beautiful personalized necklace with CJ's initials and her birthstone charm on a pink satin ribbon. Can't wait to show it off!

The REALLY BIG news is that we have CJSTUF merchandise for sale.

You can see more on our website ( but here's a preview. There are Bald Chicks Rock tees for kids and adults.....

There are women's cut tees featuring the CJ butterfly...

(A big thanks to our neighbor, Abby Horn, for modeling the new tees!)

PLUS we have more kids tees, featured below. These are also the t-shirts that a child will get when he or she has a Birthday Party for CJ.

You can place orders online through our website. Right now we can't accept credit cards (coming soon!) but we can accept checks for both local and long-distance orders. Information on shipping charges are found in the shopping cart. You can email me if you have questions.

Mark Your Calendars for two upcoming events:

This Saturday, 7/31 is the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Duck Walk in Downtown Richmond. We have been invited by local kids band Diggity Dudes to share their booth space and display some CJSTUF information. This is a great PR opportunity for us but we need some assistance. Email Roger if you are able to volunteer your time at this event.

Also coming up is the Wine Down Wednesday event at the Wine Loft in Short Pump. This event is August 4th from 6:30-9:30 PM. Admission is $5 and extra raffle tickets are just $1 each. There is a cash bar with great wines, free appetizers, and a great opportunity to socialize. I will be talking about CJSTUF and local authors Joni Davis and Lisa Hyatt will discuss their book Feng Shui Love. All proceeds from the admission and raffle tickest benefit CJSTUF so let's make this an amazing event!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Inching Along

I can't believe that July is almost over!

Tonight is the Stella & Dot Trunk Show at Sue Ferguson's Home. It was rescheduled from last Thursday. If you can't attend but still want to order, you can go to any time before the end of the month and place your order. Be sure to name Susan Ferguson as the host so proceeds go to benefit CJSTUF.

You also have one more week to contact Meredith Hayes from Reflections Interior Design for a consultation. When you book, 20% of your consultation fee will go back to CJSTUF.

In other news...

Now that August is upon us, we have even more events to plan. We will send out another blog post in a few days but you can also check out all of our current events on our website. Be sure to check our Fundraisers and Events pages often for announcements. Also, I know that many of you our fans of ours on Facebook, but if for some strange reason you haven't "liked" us on Facebook yet, be sure to do so and tell all your friends. It's one of our best ways to communicate with our friends and supporters.

We are inches (and I do mean inches) away from getting our determination letter from the IRS. I had to fill out some additional paperwork a few weeks ago and a follow up call to our rep at the IRS indicated that we should get our determination letter in the next few weeks. That is good news for MANY reasons but the main reason is that we will be able to get our PayPal link fixed. I apologize to anyone who has tried to donate in the past few weeks without success. We should have the online option fixed soon.

And just in time because we have CJSTUF merchandise for sale!!!
I will post pictures, prices, and information about how to order over the weekend but I will tell you that there are four current t-shirt designs. Some are exclusively for adults, others are for kids, and some are available in youth and adult sizes. We also have CJSTUF window clings available. Again, I will work on getting all of this information online (including pictures) but you will just have to be patient.


Now that Roger and I are each working two jobs (in addition to our CJSTUF endeavors), we are in need to seriously rally the volunteer corps. Please go to our website and click on the volunteer link. This will direct you to our Volunteer Database sign up form. We are currently in need of:
People willing to serve on committees to plan and execute events
  • Individuals and small groups to help with managing CJSTUF merchandise and creating our swag bags
  • Some miscellaneous office duties (database management, etc.)
  • Creative and motivated folks who want to help in lots of ways

Once you enter into our volunteer database, we can have a better idea about who is available and when (and how) they can help. We may not call you tomorrow but please know that we will call you when we need you!

On an emotional note:

I think that personally, I'm in a much better place emotionally than I was a few weeks ago. Still sad. Life still sucks sometimes. But I have some great friends who have been providing all kinds of emotional support to me (and Roger) in the past few weeks. Thank you so much! It seems the crying jags come in fits and spurts but I've felt a lot more stable in the last week. I did get rather teary in Target today. Of all things, I walked through the school supplies aisle. And realized that my baby would not go to Kindergarten. It made me very sad. BUT....I carry her Tinkerbell lunchbox with me to my new job at the Faison School every day. She is with me in small but meaningful ways.

That's all for now but I promise a lengthy post about upcoming August events will be coming soon!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

More blogging...because there is more news!

You don't often get two blog posts in 24 hours but there is definitely much to report.

First of all, I hope everyone who was interested in attending the Stella & Dot Trunk Show got the notice that it has been rescheduled for NEXT Thursday, 7/22. We hope you can make it. As before, online orders will also be accepted (go to the link above for more details).

Secondly, for those of you who haven't heard it through the Grapevine, I am starting a new job on Monday. I was recently hired by The Faison School for Autism to work about 4 days a week as a speech language pathologist. Yes, I am excited to work for one of the best programs for Autism in the Richmond area. It seems that they are excited to have me as well. It's definitely bittersweet as the job has been necessitated by current economic issues at romp n' roll. The summer has just been way too slow and we are still catching up from expenses brought on by the move.

I will still be teaching at Romp n' Roll a few days a week (Wednesdays and weekends) as well as continuing my regular administrative duties with the business but a lot of work will now fall to Roger and the rest of our excellent team. I am confident that our level of quality will remain stellar. Not so sure how I will balance Romp n' Roll, CJSTUF, AND the new job but I am learning to be a better delegater.

We do have some exciting CJSTUF events on the horizon. Mark your calendars for August 4th. We will be the benificiaries of Wine Down Wednesday at the Wine Loft in Short Pump. This is a super fun event and a great "girls night out" opportunity. I went to last night's event (benefitting Hugs & Kisses) and it was so much fun! The $5 admission goes straight to CJSTUF. In addition, they will be selling $1 raffle tickets for great prizes (all the raffle money goes to CJSTUF as well). I think we'll probably have some CJSTUF swag available plus some romp n' roll goodies. Lots of other prizes as well. There is a cash bar for great wine, free appetizers, and a cozy but elegant atmosphere. I will remind everyone about the date later in the month but definitely plan to attend and bring a friend. I will be speaking briefly about the Foundation but it's mainly a great social time and a good opportunity for networking.
I guess that will do for now. Talk to y'all more soon!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Doppelgangers and New Questions To Old Answers

Ok, ok, I'm writing.

It's been a relatively long time since I wrote. It's not like I haven't had much to say (Y'all know me!). I've just haven't been able to organize my thoughts well enough to get them on "paper."

The first thing I need to mention is that Yesterday, at my Kings Dominion job, I saw Charlotte's doppelganger. Same hair color, same curls, about the same age, maybe a little taller but not much. If anyone is familiar with her last school picture, the girl at KD looked a lot like CJ in that pic.

I was doing my job, walking around, collecting money, when I saw her with her dad and a couple of siblings (I assume). It really threw me. I was so distracted that I sort of pulled up short and didn't quite know what to do. Do I break down? Does it make me happy or sad? Should I tell someone?

After a moment, I composed myself and kept going but I thought about that little girl, and then of course, Charlotte, for the rest of the evening. Still thinking about them. That had never happened before even when CJ was healthy.

Another weird thing happened when I went to fill out a form for a criminal background check I need to get for Romp n' Roll stuff. When it came to the question that asked, "Do you have any children," I had to pause. How do I answer that one? I guess the answer would be, "no," but we all know otherwise.

These weird events just keep piling up. They're not the type of things that make you fall apart. Just think. The thing that makes you fall apart is when you're flipping channels and the Tinkerbell Movie comes on! Oh, yeah; that'll do it!

The Double Marathon Challenge is going well. I'm training with the help of a running coach (Rachel Pustilnik) and last Saturday we ran 9 miles! It's much easier to go long distances when you have a group and I've been running with Rachel's "Run Like A Mother" group. It's all women but they've allowed me to try to keep up with them. They are a tremendous group and after only a couple of runs with them, I feel much improved by them. Many of them have their own stories of loss and grief so the understanding with which I was received was almost overwhelming.

They are also highly motivated and one doesn't dangle a challenge in front of them unless one is prepared to follow through to the end. I told them that if they raise $1,000.00 or more toward the DMC, I would wear a running skirt during the Patrick Henry Half Marathon on August 28th. They embraced it wholeheartedly and I'm pretty sure I'll be dressed in running drag that day! :-)

As far as the pledge war between UM and VT goes, VT has a sizable lead; however, our friend and sometimes babysitter Jan Light just sent out word to our UM faithful in VA, Chicago, and DC. We've also gotten pledges from UVA fans who say, "anyone but VT" and put pledges on the UM side. If you'd like to establish on which side of the ledger you want your pledge to fall, give us a holler.

Rachel and I are still stressed but dealing. In case you didn't hear, she took a stress level survey that says 200+ points is serious, crisis-type stress. Her score was 700. That would explain a lot.

Well it's getting late and I want to get at least something out there. See you in the morning.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

No rest for a busy foundation

July marches on and we have some exciting events still going on this week.

We spent an earlier post focusing on Reflections Interior Design as one of the CJSTUF Home Based Businesses for July. There is still time to schedule a consultation with her for July or August with 20% of the proceeds benefitting the Foundation.

This week we focus on Stella & Dot: an adorable jewelry line that features fun items for both women and little girls. Leigh Pace is our sales representative and Susan Ferguson is hosting a trunk show at her home this Thursday, July 15th, from 7-9 PM. You can also order online through this website. Name Susan Ferguson as the host so CJSTUF gets the credit. I should mention, however, that Sue will be raffling off her hostess gifts (average of $250 in free jewelry) for those who attend the 7/15 event so come one, come all!

Please RSVP via the trunk show link above and feel free to bring a friend. You can email me directly if you have any questions.
I want to say one more time how much Roger and I appreciate the support we have felt from our Network over the last week or so. It's definitely been a rough time lately but we are comforted by the intense love that we know this community feels for us and for our beautiful daughter. We are honored that we can keep the spirit of her life and her legacy alive through this Foundation. Thank you.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Charlotte's Birthday

On July 9, 2005 at 1:05 PM, Charlotte Jennie Reynolds was born.

She was an amazing child.

Today she would be 5 years old.

We miss her every day. We know that her friends and family miss her too.

We are comforted by the legacy that CJ's Thumbs Up Foundation is creating in her honor.

On the anniversary of her birth, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for your unending support during the past 18 months. We continue to need your emotional support in our time of grief and we appreciate the many ways in which our community (our Network, as we fondly like to call it) holds us up.

Some of you have mentioned giving donations to CJSTUF in honor of Charlotte's birthday. That is a wonderful idea. I do understand that our Pay Pal donate button on the website is currently disabled. We are working to fix that and I will let you know when it is active again. In the meantime, donations can also be sent to: PO Box 854, Ashland, VA 23005

You can also support us by spreading the word about our foundation. Invite your friends to find out about us on Facebook. Share our video (also posted on our website) so that others can find out about our mission. Finally, we have launched an offical volunteer database on our website. If you want to help our organization, please take the time to fill out this small form so that we can add your name to our database. When a need arises, we will use this list to rally the troops.

Roger and I plan to spend the afternoon with some close friends and family, eating some of her favorite foods and watching a few of her favorite movies. While it won't be a "party" per se, it's a opportunity to celebrate her short life and take comfort in the things that brought her joy.

In closing, I want to share the Shel Silverstein poem I read at CJ's Memorial Service. This is for my beautiful daughter, born in the height of summer, who loved Frosty The Snowman.

Perhaps we can think "cool" thoughts in the middle of our summer heat:

Twas the first day of springtime
And the snowman stood alone
As the winter snows were melting
And the pine trees seemed to groan
“Ah you poor sad smiling snowman,
You’ll be melting by and by.”
Said the snowman, “What a pity,
For I’d like to see July.
Yes I’d like to see July, and please don’t ask me why.
But I’d like to, yes, I’d like to, oh I’d like to see July.”
Chirped a robin, just arriving
“Seasons come and seasons go,
And the greatest ice must crumble
When it’s a flower’s time to grow.
And as one thing is beginning
So another thing must die,
And there’s never been a snowman
Who has ever seen July.
No they never see July, no matter how they try.
No they never ever, never ever, never see July.”
But the snowman sniffled his carrot nose
And said, “At least I’ll try.”
And he bravely smiled his frosty smile
And blinked his coal black eye.
And there he stood and faced the sun
A blazin’ from the sky--
And I really cannot tell you
If he ever saw July.
Did he ever see July? You can guess as well as I
If he ever, if he never, if he ever saw July

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Celebrate YOUR Birthday for CJ: Another way to give back

I am excited to announce the official launch of Birthday Parties for CJ.
We think that her birthday week is good timing, don't you?

When Charlotte was very sick, many of her friends asked for donations to our cause (to help with medical expenses) instead of birthday gifts. We thought it was a wonderful idea and a great way to teach children about giving back to others who are less fortunate. In that spirit, we have created a way for kids to give back to CJSTUF in honor of their special day.

You can get further details about this program on our website. Basically, we have created a CJSTUF themed goodie bag with oodles of adorable swag, including:

o A 16 oz stadium cup with the CJSTUF logo
o Butterfly Note pad and crayons
o Butterfly stickers and Thumbs Up temporary tattoos
o A Prayers for Charlotte bracelet
o A mini beach ball
o A kids meal coupon from Chick-Fil-A
o Bubbles
o A brief bio about CJ and information about CJSTUF

For more detailed pictures of the Goodie Bags, you can go HERE.

We have also created handy cards that can be printed and inserted into your invitations to inform your friends.

Finally, the birthday boy or girl will get an exclusive CJSTUF T-shirt. The tees will all be pink. Boy's version will say "TUF guys wear pink" and the Girl's version will say "I'm a TUF chick". We don't have pictures yet but I should be able to post them on the website soon.

So now that I've gotten you SUPER excited about our latest endeavor, I know that you're thinking, "How do I sign up???" The answer is: Go to our website and submit this form to start the process. Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mostly Business

I'll save the emotional posts for another time. Today I'd prefer to be "all business". The only thing I will say is that 6 months after Charlotte's death, I think both Roger and I are more sad and heartbroken than we were in January. It's a very unexpected part of the grief process. Fortunately, we are surrounded by love in many ways. It doesn't fix anything but it helps. A little.

The Butterfly Brigade ended up as...Roger. So it wasn't much this year. We will have to shoot for next year. Roger did get to pass out some CJSTUF propaganda at the Ashland July 4th Celebration and ended up with about $60 in pledges for his Double Marathon Challenge so that was great. Thanks to Carolyn Peart for offering us a space and inviting us to participate.

I will let Roger talk more in a future post about progress on the Double Marathon Challenge but suffice it to say that we are getting things rolling for fall!

Official CJSTUF merchandise should be in stock by the end of the month! We will have bald chicks rock t-shirts, a beautiful women's tee with the butterfly design, and butterfly window clings. Look for more details on this in a future post as well.

We need to activate the Network for a few tasks:

1. Nile Price is back in the PICU due to blood pressure issues. He seems to be doing better but I think the family could use some help with meals. Contact Roger if you are able to help.

2. Give Kids the World is in the running again for a $250K PepsiRefresh grant. We really want them to win! You can vote EVERY DAY (once a day) and the top two projects get the grant. There is a link to vote on our website so please vote early and vote often!

Finally, remember our Home Businesses for July :

Meredith Hayes is donating 20% of her consultation fee to CJSTUF for any Interior Design consultations booked in July.

Plus, Susan Ferguson is hosting a Stella & Dot party. You can go HERE for the official evite to the party on July 15th. Plus there is a link for ordering directly online if you can't attend the party.

I'll keep this short and sweet and update more later in the week.