Share the Love of Reading #BookGivingDay

 

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Oh my love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
Oh my love is like a brand new book
That’s in a waiting room

What? (I know. Hold on. I have a good reason for that atrocity.)

I’ve written about my love of books before.

I also have a few essays out there complaining about Valentine’s Day.

Red roses, puffy pink teddy bears, gaudy glitter-covered greeting cards, caramel chocolates, and the fact that this stupid day clearly brings out alliteration in full force. Along with the need to butcher perfectly beautiful poetry.

So February 14th is a wonderful holiday. Yes, I’ll say it again. Wonderful.

It’s International Book Giving Day.

It’s true! A glorious day dedicated to the love of reading and, in particular, sharing the love of reading by giving books away.

Know about this? Awesome. Get out there and spread the love.

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Never heard of it? Check it out.

Here are a few ways to get involved, from a toppling pile of books donated to your local school or library to dropping a single book off at a hospital or waiting room. You can even give books from the comfort of your own home to the organizations listed here.

My family? Well…

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My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

What will you do for International Book Giving Day? Let me know—I’d love to hear some good book-giving stories.

If you share it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, tag it: #bookgivingday

 

 

I posted this last year on February 14th which didn’t give people who hadn’t heard of this holiday time to plan so I’m re-posting this year to give you a little nudge, heads-up, or reminder that you’ve got a few days to give books. And here’s a PDF to download printable bookmarks to place inside those books you give. Seriously, give a bunch of books or leave just one in a waiting room somewhere. It’s all good.

 

The birds and books blog badge by Marianne Dubuc

The cute foxes bookplate by Karl Newson

The space cat & moon mouse blog badge by Ben Newman

 

Poetry Foundation {Robert Burns}  The poem I ruthlessly butchered in the beginning of this post.

Last-Minute Holiday Gifts from the Heart

 

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These are some of the charities we give to regularly. We love them. I’ve sorted out the ones that let you email the recipient or print your own card.

Quick, easy, heartfelt. The perfect last-minute gifts:

 

Environment / Nature

ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION

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Mission: “to improve water and air quality, slow climate change, and reduce poverty by planting trees.”

These Trees in Celebration certificates are lovely and every single dollar you spend plants a tree. They also offer “Give-A-Tree E-Cards” to send a holiday greeting with meaning. Because. Trees. Behold the beautiful trees! 🌲

 

Animals / Wildlife 

ASPCA

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Mission: “animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected…”

Show your love for our four-legged friends. Give a holiday gift card in honor of a beloved furchild. I can’t stand the cuteness of that puppy. You know you want to help these little munchkins. Available in ecards.

 

Hunger / Poverty

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL

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Mission: “to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.”

Choose a donation and print it out, email, or text with a custom message to the gift recipient. Or you can give a gift card (to print out or send via email) so they can choose their own donation.

* My personal favorite gift to give is honeybees. They are awesome. Here are 2 reasons why:

“Food for Life: Honey is the only food that includes all the essential elements necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals and even water. Its unique chemical makeup also allows it to be preserved indefinitely.”

“Farmers’ Helpers: In the process of searching for nectar, bees pollinate plants. The placement of a single colony can potentially double local fruit and vegetable yields.”

Isn’t that incredible? It’s the bee’s knees. 🐝

 

KIVA

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Mission: “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. We celebrate and support people looking to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.”

Print these out or email them to the gift recipient and they can start loaning right away. Change someone’s life, get paid back, help someone else… And on it goes. Making spirits bright.

 

Childhood Cancer/Childhood Diseases

ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL

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Mission: “Finding cures. Saving children. St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.”

Please do check out the site if you don’t already know about St. Jude Children’s Hospital. And, if you do, well… ‘Nuff said.

Printable Christmas Cards

Ecards for Christmas

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Printable Hanukkah Cards

Ecards for Hanukkah

 

   ❄️ Have a beautiful holiday season! ❄️

 

Envy and Honesty

 

Envy is never pretty. Not really all that helpful, either. (Except if it motivates you to go to the gym or something.) But I digress. I’ve been envious lately. Of the “good” writers, the funny tweeps, the people who have it all together. Because their blog and social media shows this, it must be true.

Then I received a DM.

An online friend was struggling.

I got an email. Then another. And another. They were all struggling. And I had no idea. I wrote back, sending supportive words and virtual hugs. But I felt helpless.

I also felt guilty. Here’s why.

Two of the people who contacted me were, less than a week before that, on my list. (My completely, utterly unfair list.) It was a long list, I must admit, because I am not doing well. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t keep up. And more is headed my way every day.

Although I should know better, I envied these people who had it all together. Who were juggling families, jobs, friends, writing, blogging, social media… Life. They were managing life. Without breaking a virtual sweat.

Ah. But there it is, right? Virtual. It’s difficult enough to recognize in real life people who are struggling. When you can hide behind a screen and type when you feel chipper or comment when you’re capable, no one can tell that you’re struggling.

Imagine my shock when one of these emails expressed a good-natured jab about how well I was doing because I was seemingly all around the blogosphere. Here I was drowning and someone thought I was winning the swim meet. Everyone is dealing with something—they may be fine, they may not be.

I know this. People post when they’re feeling okay. I should never have assumed. Needless to say, and yet I will, I should never have been envious of their ability to handle the world in the first place, virtual or not.

 

Sarah B rainy day - sig

 

Because September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, I thought it fitting to share this today. I’m checking my envy at the door. Giving what I can, when I can. Being there.

And asking “How are you?”

 

Missing the Point (Business with Heart)

 

Both my kids attended a day camp last week. On Friday, parents were invited to come by and see what their kids had created then watch a slideshow of students having fun and learning stuff. Cute. ThoughtBubble

After all the iPhones were put away and children carted off by their parents, my 11-yr-old showed us a rocket he made from an upcycled paper towel tube. It was pretty cool.

My 8-yr-old showed us, with a huge smile, all the things he created. They were…interesting. I’m not an artist and have not passed any artistic gene on to him. What caught my eye was his “business” venture.

I asked him about it and he told me students were supposed to think about something going on in the world that inspired them to start a business. Key word here was “business” and, as my 11-yr-old pointed out, my 8-yr-old had done it wrong. Technically, he did. This wasn’t the assignment at all. He missed the point of entrepreneurship entirely. And it wasn’t the prettiest project.

But I’m not sure that his homeless shelter, upcycled on a granola bar box, wasn’t the most beautiful inspired business on display.

 

Upcycled Homeless Shelter

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Mother’s Day Dilemma

 

I wrote the following post last year and, while I still believe there are two approaches to Mother’s Day, this weekend I am firmly in column B. I am going for a pedicure at a spa where I can order a glass of wine while my feet are scrubbed and polished.

Because.

I’m the mum and I say so.

This tree (which blossomed basically overnight) is what greeted me when I walked out the front door. I took it as a sign that mother nature herself was giving me flowers—and I’m taking them.

Happy Mother’s Day

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My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

There are two schools of thought regarding Mother’s Day:

  • I am spending every second of this day with my children.
  • I wouldn’t go near my kids today if you paid me!

A) It’s Mother’s Day. That’s me! I’m a mother. And I want to celebrate motherhood by being with my kids– playing games with them, talking to them, going out to eat with them, and hugging them. A lot. After all, my children are the reason I get to celebrate this day in the first place.

B) This is my day. I am going to soak in a bubble bath, pick up the book I’ve been meaning to read for two months, drink a glass of wine on the porch, and relax. After all, it’s a day meant for me so someone else can take care of the kids and house today.

For some, this is a simple decision. For others, we bounce between the two options.

Notice the “we”? Because I’m one of those moms who want a little from column A and a bit from column B.

I want to be around my kids. I want to play cards or Candy Land with them. I want to play win at Wii. I want to look at old photos and see how much they’ve grown. I want my annual handmade crayon cards with hearts and flowers and smiley faces all over them.

I also want to be a little spoiled. I’d love to get a massage or a pedicure. Some sushi and a nice glass of Pinot Grigio would be wonderful, too. Sitting outside, alone, listening to the birds chirp and just relaxing, is a beautiful way to spend the day.

Here’s what I did. I dipped my little toe into column B by having my husband take care of the crappy things like cleaning toilets, making lunches, sweeping crumbs, and wiping noses. All this while I slept in late, read a good book, sipped some Sam Adams Summer Ale, and took a long shower during which I actually shaved my legs and used that incredible strawberry sorbet scrub that’s been staring at me from my bathroom counter since December.

And then I embraced a bit of column A. I hugged and kissed my kids. I told them stories they’d heard before about when they were little. I teared up quite a bit. I felt my heart grow like the Grinch’s when I opened the cards they drew for me. I played games with them and read to them and spent some time outside enjoying the day with them.

That was a good mix for me. A very happy Mother’s Day.

 

Where are you? Firmly in column A? Column B? Somewhere in the AB area? What did you do for Mother’s Day?

 

Why?

 

I’m usually careful how I phrase things with my children but, when they do something ridiculous, I do something equally ridiculous: I ask them why.ThoughtBubble

“Why would you kick a huge rock?!” (Excuse me if I don’t get you an ice pack for your stubbed toe.) 

They never have a good answer. They say “I don’t know”.

Why do I keep asking?

The other day, hanging out with my son on the swings, I heard a mom call to her child in an I-am-not-happy voice. She said:

“Why did you come to the playground when I told you not to?” Then, get this, she corrected herself and said, “Never mind. The only good answer to that is ‘I’m sorry’ so just get your things and let’s go.”

And good golly, the girl got her stuff and they left. It was magical. I chased super mom down in the parking lot and tackled her with a big bear hug. (Daydreams can be awesome. And weird.)

I’ve caught myself asking my husband and parents this. It’s not really a question. Yet it’s not rhetorical because, at the time, I’m expecting some sort of explanation. Why do I continue to ask why?

 

Why (2)

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Philosophy, Families, and Kindness

 

Last week, while reading a history book with my son, we saw a sidebar about Confucius stating that he advocated family loyalty and kindness.

This confused my son. He asked about unkindness within families.

I debated what to say.ThoughtBubble

I don’t put rose-colored glasses on my children. The world is not pink.

However, there is only so much information they need. When one of my boys asks me something, there is a split second where my mind quickly determines how to answer by factoring in his chronological age, his emotional age, and his sensitivity. I go from there.

So, with my 8-yr-old, I simply said, “Some families treat each other badly. They are…not very nice to each other.”

To which he cried and said, “Like if you don’t get a birthday card from your parents? Because that would be awful. Cards are a wish for good things and, I don’t know, it means ‘I love you’ and ‘I’m thinking of you’.”

I stared.

He continued, “So ‘unkind’ like if your father never wrote you a card?”

Yes. Just like that.

Can I bottle this innocent beauty? Just for a few more years…

 

Handwritten Notes

A typical note for my kids.

If, for my son, not ever receiving a handwritten note is what it means for family to be cruel,
I’m not going to correct him. Not right now.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

The Places You’ll Go

 

I just returned from vacation during which I witnessed a lot of ugliness.

With all the talk about compassion saturating the blogosphere, I’m still wondering what world my children will live in. I don’t know if anything has changed. ThoughtBubble

I hope much has changed. I hope people who are compassionate have discovered they are not alone. I hope people who are not compassionate read something that helps them act with more kindness.

When I think of compassion, I think of all living things. Of all parts of the world. Of my friends and family.

And, yes, especially my own children.

Although my thoughts reach across the globe, I live here. With my children. While they are no more or less deserving of compassion than others, they are closer to me in all ways. (Also, I am a mother. Our lot can be a wildly protective one.)

As we celebrate Read Across America today, I look at my children’s copies of Oh, the Places You’ll Go. This book describes the world as wonderful and confusing and beautiful and scary. This is all true. But if there is more compassion, I will worry less about what places my children will go.

 

The Places You'll Go

Dr. Seuss Day

 

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Defining Compassion vs. Compassion in Action

 

I am inspired by all the bloggers who posted in support of compassion. It was fascinating to see the different ideas, anecdotes, and topics people wrote about. ThoughtBubble

My #1000speak post, about an experience I had a year ago, reminded me how many times I’ve brought my children to homeless shelters, safehouses, schools, and libraries to donate clothing, toiletries, and books. What, if anything, had they learned from this?

I decided to ask them what compassion meant.

Neither one of them could answer me. They shifted in their seats and looked at the wall and floor with their I-don’t-know-the-answer faces.

Gah! Really? “Think about it.”

My 10-yr-old said, “Uh…love?”

My 8-yr-old said, “Friendship. I think it’s how you feel about a friend.”

Hmm.

I asked them for an example of something compassionate.

My 10-yr-old said, “Helping someone with a math problem if they can’t do it.”

My 8-yr-old answered, “Giving someone a stuffed animal if they’re sick so they feel better.”

They started sharing ideas: donating to homeless shelters, hugging someone if they’re sad, bringing an animal to the vet if it’s hurt…

Both my kids struggled to define the word compassion, but they know how to be compassionate people.

 

Rainbow

You don’t need to be able to define compassion to be compassionate.

 

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Sugar Mountains

 

Yesterday, I got a text at 8 AM.

It said:

Do you remember making me a sugar mountain in college for my twentieth birthday? Doesn’t seem that long ago.

To which I responded:

Oh my gosh! I forgot about that!

I didn’t. I loved it. It’s a very clear memory.

I can’t believe your baby will be twenty today.

I know. I’m going to make him a sugar mountain.

This is making me cry.

Weird what things in life end up special memories. A paper cone with sugar packets stuck on it is forever in my memory and now (maybe) his. See what you did? You started a tradition. I’ll never forget that. Thank you.

I did, indeed, tape a piece of paper together to make a cone and staple sugar packets on it. Why? Because you can’t be twenty on sugar mountain. (Also, we loved Neil Young.) My best friend was leaving sugar mountain and I wasn’t. I wanted her to have a place she could return to if she wanted. That sculpture stayed up in our dorm room like a trophy for months.

I also unintentionally started a tradition. Yesterday, twenty-three years later, she made a sugar mountain for her son.

It isn’t always the big things (weddings, funerals, et al.) that make memories. You never know what will stay with someone, what will become a cherished memory. Sometimes it’s the smallest acts, the simple stapling of sugar packets to a paper cone.

Her last text message said:

Your boys are still there. I’ll remember to send them sugar mountains.

 

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.
(Excluding the texts—which I’m not counting. Yes, I’m cheating.)