Tuesday, March 31, 2009

3 Beautiful Things 30/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Monday March 31, 2009:

1. that the boys didn't miss the bus, but only by the hair on my chinny chin chin... (where are my tweezer?)

2. that I noticed that I had forgot to close the garage door before driving 23 miles to work

3. that I didn't run out of gas after realizing my gas light was flashing (thus driving on fumes) some 8 miles away from the nearest gas station

Life is good when your guardian angel taps you on the shoulder...

Monday, March 30, 2009

3 Beautiful Things 29/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Monday March 30, 2009:

1. hearing
John Halligan's* story again
2. sharing a whole bunch of laughs with Birdie
3. waking up every day to kiss my sons

Life is good when you can laugh on the same day as you cry

* If you have children in school, this story is a must read, so please take the time to visit this site. And watch the video, but have tissue ready.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What wrong with our trees?

Another thing that repulses me about the human race: greed. People who spend money like it grows on trees or have no conscience about their blatant indulgences. People, like AIG execs, who take millions of dollars from the government bailout and call it a legitimate bonus. People who would trample over the body of another human being to gain the cheap big screen TV at Walmart's Black Friday stampede.

Then there's the woman trying to sue her husband for a $53,800* per week divorce settlement. This is what she claims she needs every week to sustain her current lifestyle: *US dollars

  • $30K +/- for housing (a Park Ave apartment & 3 houses in Sweden)
  • $8,000 for travel expenses
  • $4,500 for clothes
  • $1,500 for entertainment and restaurant expenses
  • $1,000 for hair and beauty treatments
  • $700 for limo service
  • $600 for flowers
She spends more on her limo service per week that we do on food for a month! Disgusting...

We are always so cognizant of what we spend because of how long it takes us to earn it. So I would be thrilled to wake up one morning and NEVER have to worry money. It would be nice to be able to afford the things we need (or want) without having to scrimp & skimp.

Like travel, for example. We wanted to stay overnight in Boston when we took the boys to see the Bruins but didn't want to spend the money on a hotel room. I mean, motel room. [there is a difference... we can only afford motels, not hotels.] When we went to Boston in November, I searched Hotwire.com for deals, and finally got a room at the Radisson for $46/night, which was 58% off the rack rate of $109.
I was stoked.

There's nothing I love more than a nabbing a big bargain. Especially when I'm saving my own hard earned dough.

3 Beautiful Things 28/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Sunday March 29, 2009:

1. hot meals ~ preferably prepared by someone else!

2. potatoes ~ french fried, baked or mashed

3. sweets ~ cake, pie, or chocolates

Life is good with a full belly...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

3 Beautiful Things 27/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Saturday March 28, 2009:

1. my eyesight ~ I don't want to miss a thing
2. my hindsight ~ I've actually learned things from my mistakes
3. my foresight ~ it gets strong with age, like wisdom

Life is good when you look and see

Friday, March 27, 2009

3 Beautiful Things 26/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Friday March 27, 2009:

1. my in-laws (no joke... I adore them!)
2. my hubby is so grounded b/c of how he was raised
3. my kids love, cherish & adore their grandparents, who we spend lots of time with making memories

Life is good when you have a great support system

Thursday, March 26, 2009

3 Beautiful Things 25/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Thursday March 26, 2009:

1. the friends I've had for years
2. the friends my kids will have for years
3. the friends who come & go

Life is good with a friend to lean on...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Do the Right Thing

One thing I absolutely detest is cowardice. When people stand back and watch a horrific event unfold without blinking an eye, or walk away pretending they didn't notice someone needing help...

How can you live with yourself, how can you look in the mirror and be proud of the face staring back at you when you've let someone suffer? What if it was your mother, your spouse, your child, your grandfather? Could you, would you casually walk away knowing that they were in jeopardy? Of course not.

Yet everyday I see (we all see) this kind of opportunity ignored. Is it because we are too selfish, too busy, too hurried, too timid, too scared, too narcissistic? What excuse could you use to justify watching someone suffer pain or injustice?

I have tried to teach my children the importance of compassion & humanitarianism. When they see someone fall on the ski slope, they stop to make sure that the person is alright, help them gather their equipment and offer them help to their feet. When they see someone cry, they offer empathy. When they see someone hungry, they share their snack.
It's the right thing to do.

Don't miss out on your chance to be a hero, to make a difference in someone's life. Even if no one else is willing to help, be the one who is.

[Note: disable music player at page end before playing this song...]

He Aint Heavy, He's My Brother - Hollies

3 Beautiful Things 24/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Wednesday March 25, 2009:

1. light bulbs
2. flashlights
3. candles

Life is better with illumination...
(me? afraid of the dark? Why do you ask?)

Happy Birthday, Heather

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Bucket List: 1-10

As the years sneak up on me, I keeping thinking about my "to do" list. You could say it's my own proverbial "Bucket List" of places and events that I hope to savor before I die.

So today is my first installment of The 101 Extraordinary Things I've Always Wanted To Do. There is no set priority but I want to write them all down so I won't forget because, God knows, I will forget...

I think of myself as a pretty simple, down-to-earth person but I have always had champagne taste and a beer budget. Yet, if I play my cards right, I can foresee a promising future. Wish me luck.

I pray with all my heart that some of these might become reality:

1. go to New York City to see a Broadway show, an off-Broadway play and David Letterman
2. go to Alaska to see the Northern Lights, wild polar bears, and part of the Iditarod race
3. bungee jump over a deep body of clear blue water
4. ride horseback on a gorgeous tropical beach
5. become a sexy 'n sassy ballroom dancer
treat myself to a luxurious 4 star spa vacation
7. go to the Academy Awards and a couple of Oscar parties, too
8. skydive (tandem! not solo... I'm not crazy!)
become a perpetually perfect size 10* petite
10. go on a mini girl-time getaway with DeeDee on my 50th, 60th & 70th birthday

* I really wanted to say 6 but until I can afford to hire Jillian Michaels to live with us, I'll stick to a more realistic goal...

3 Beautiful Things 23/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Tuesday March 24, 2009:

1. I have never suffered a broken bone (not counting my nose...)

2. I had successful lasik surgery to correct my vision

3. I enjoyed 2 amazing pregnancies with only sparse morning sickness

Life is great when you feel good...

Monday, March 23, 2009

3 Beautiful Things 22/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Monday March 23, 2009:

1. a dedicated husband who helps with the child-rearing and all of the housework

2. a confident husband who is patient & level headed

3. a dependable husband who is loyal & honest

Life is more fun when you share it with people you love...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How good I've got it...

This morning I watched a remarkable segment on the Today show about Rebecca Alexander, 30, who has a debilitating disease called Usher Syndrome type III.

Stories like Rebecca's truly make me appreciate how good I've got it, how lucky I am to have what I have, and how much I forget to thank God for all that I am...

From this day forward, I will continue to be thankful for all of my senses, my good health and all of my blessings. This story just makes me more determined to touch the lives of others who are less fortunate than me.

One thing Rebecca said is that she follows a mantra of
Live for today, live in the moment, don't take a moment for granted... Such sage advice from a courageous, positive, hopeful young woman.

3 Beautiful Things 21/365

Here is my gratitude journal for March 22, 2009:

1. weekends off

2. flexible schedules

3. fringe benefits

Life is good when you do what you like and like what you do...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

3 Beautiful Things 20/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Saturday March 21, 2009:

1. gift cards

2. coupons

3. markdowns

Life is better when you come out with change...

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Smart (a.k.a. Frugal) Shopper

I never buy anything, and I mean anything, unless I know I'm getting the best price, have a coupon, or it's on sale.

This morning I had to go to the grocery store and lately I've been shopping at Price Chopper because they are running a program called "Fuel Advantage". Normally I just go through their flyer and buy items that are truly on sale, or items I can use a double coupon for.

But this FA program is hard to resist in this unstable economy. For every $50 you spend, they discount every gallon of gasoline you buy at the Sunoco station by 10 cents. Last week I only paid $1.43/gallon [yet the lady beside me only paid 73 cents]. My goal is to get down to $1 off per gallon, which means I'll have to buy $379 in groceries over the next 2 months. No prob...

Today my bill came to $146.08 but I only paid $92.96 after coupons and "card" savings. Plus I got 2 store coupons worth $2 each to use on my next order and $6.00 in other coupons for things I actually use. Bonus!

aaaaaah, now I can tip the stylist a little extra today then buy myself a new pair of jeans.

3 Beautiful Things 19/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Friday March 20, 2009:

1. a sunny first day of Spring

2. getting my haircut
without paying

3. having the stylist wash my hair & massage my scalp

Life is good...

Thursday, March 19, 2009


If you follow my blog, you know that I took on a 2nd part-time job at a ski resort for the winter. Well tomorrow is the first day of Spring and because the mountains are losing their snow fast, my days there are numbered.

Last Monday when I got to work, my manager told me that there was a shakedown in the works and that only those who are pulling their weight would be rewarded. Nobody wants to hear that their job is in jeopardy, so I was a bit unnerved by the news. She must have noticed the look on my face and quickly assured me that I was safe. [phew!] She went on to say that my productivity was high, my accuracy was solid and my customer service was strong.

Then today I got nearly the same lay-off warning from the department supervisor. This man is not so subtle when he delivers information [or critiques], nor is he generous with praise. Yet he floored me when he told me that I was doing a great job and how impressed he was by my overall performance. He also said that he went to the big boss about whose hours should be cut once the downsizing starts. Much to my surprise, he wants me to be the last one standing, even though my other coworker has been there 2 years longer than me.

I was (and am) humbled by these compliments. There is nothing more motivating than a genuine pat on the back. Well, that is, nothing other than a hefty bonus and a raise. Still, it felt good.

3 Beautiful Things 18/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Thursday March 19, 2009:

1. Soap

2. Shampoo

3. Deodorant

'nuff said...

Every day we wake to live another day on this planet, we must find at least 3 things to be grateful for.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cute as babies; Evil as adults

For all of you cat owners... This is genius!
p.s. notice all the toys, not to mention the destruction.

Who wears the pants in a cat family?

Thanks to Delaney55 for sharing a piece of this amusing artwork. It sure felt good to laugh!

Coincidentally, Dork was curled up by the monitor purring away as I watched this. I think she's in on the gig... From now on, I'm sleeping with one eye open.

3 Beautiful Things 17/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Wednesday March 18, 2009:

1. after three missed school days, lots of rest, numerous doses of Tylenol and Advil, plus 6 tsp of Azithromycin, our little Nut is finally feeling better!

2. a flock of "Orange Bellies" (a.k.a. robins) grazing in the yard.

3. the Open Doors after-school program, which offers Birdie some fun 'n games.

Every day we wake up to enjoy another day on this planet, we must find 3 things to be thankful for. Care to share yours here with me?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top o' the mornin' to yee

In honor of my Irish roots, I wanted to share some of the fascinating Irish folklore widely preached and believed by Irishmen & leprechauns:

  • An Irish birthday tradition is to lift the birthday person upside down and give his head a few gentle bumps on the floor for good luck. The number of bumps should correspond to the person's age plus one.
  • If a bird flew into a house, it was forewarning of impending death.
  • It was unlucky to knit at night until you were certain the sheep were asleep.
  • On Epiphany, January 6, the tail of a herring was rubbed across the eyes of children to protect them from disease for the rest of the year.
  • When sailing upon the any waters, coins dropped overboard are believed to cause a tumultuous storm.
  • It is considered unlucky to build an extension of one's house from the rear.
  • One should never look a cat in the eye who has just wiped its face with its paw - whoever the cat looked at would be the first in the household to die.
  • The old Irish saying "God between us and all harm" was said upon hearing the crow of a rooster to prevent betrayal.
  • Irish mothers never say how cute a baby is because it may bring down the evil eye upon the child.
  • It is an Irish wedding tradition for the Groom to give his Bride a coin after they exchange rings as a symbol of prosperity.
  • An iron horseshoe should be hung over the front door to ward off evil & despair.
As I conclude this post, I leave you with this blessing:

May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies, quick to make friends. But rich or poor, quick or slow, may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

Have a fabulous St. Patrick's Day.


3 Beautiful Things 16/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Tuesday March 17, 2009:

1. no potato famine here in the United States

2. 4 leaf clovers in every patch of grass

3. "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt (a lesson in survival and gratitude)

Every day we wake up to spend another day on this planet, we must find 3 things we are thankful for. Please share yours here with me...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Helping Hands: Mission 1 completed

Yesterday we wrapped up our first mission of Operation Helping Hands. We started on Valentine's Day and decided we would run it for only 30 days. This project was a tremendous success and we are excited to formulate our next enterprise. Meanwhile mission accomplished.

Here is a synopsis of our progress:
Week 1: 745 units / $45.06
Week 2: 993 units / $59.58
Week 3: 1,114 units / $64.20

Week 4: 431 units / $25.86

In the end, we exceeded our goal of 3,000 units by 9.17% or 275 units. Once redeemed, the value of all of these returnables amounted to $194.70.
(one week we tipped the teenager at the redemption center 3 bucks...he deserved it!) We threw in an extra $5.30 to make our total an even $200.00. We are excited to present the money to Gramma Kaye and her family.

Meanwhile, our Project Trash to Cash has begun and we are hoping to exceed our goal [$175.00] for this mission, too.

Wish us luck...

3 Beautiful Things 15/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Monday March 15, 2009:

1. our new Bruins hats that we got at the game on Saturday

2. meeting new people and making new friends

3. hanging laundry outside to dry in the gentle breeze & brilliant sunshine

Every day we wake up to spend another day on this planet, we must find 3 things to be thankful for. Please share yours here with me...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A chance encounter

If you've read my profile, I write how one of my favorite things in life is to connect with people. Blogging has allowed me to express myself and share my experiences with friends near & far that I do not get a chance to see often. It has also given me the opportunity to create bonds with people in cyberspace who either share common interests with me or who bring to the table something that I find fascinating.

Some of the sites that I love to read convey humor and whimsy. It takes a special person to make someone laugh and writing a comical post is even harder to do. But there are many bloggers out there that do this with finesse.

I do not know how I stumbled onto (or into) some of these sites. Nevertheless something held my interest and I stayed long enough to get hooked. One of my most favorite sites is Adopting ME.

There was something inexplicable about what Mary Ellen wrote that day. I've followed her ever since. Sometimes she makes me laugh so hard that tears well in my eyes and my sides hurt, then other days she has me wishing I could jump through the screen to give her a hug.

I knew that Mary Ellen lives in New England and that she loves the Bruins as much as I do. Then I read that she was going to be in the same place on the same day at the same time as me. It's not everyday that bloggers get to meet face to face. I was ecstatic!

Yesterday we took the boys to Boston to see the Bruins (a christmas gift from Santa, planned way back in September). Mary Ellen was going to the same game. I told the kids and hubby that I hoped we could find each other and meet, but with a sold-out crowd of over 15,00 people in the same building, I knew the chances were slim. Since I didn't know what section she was sitting in, there was no way I could find her, but I did tell her where we'd be.

The game ended with the score Bruins 2 Isles 1. We stayed behind to watch as they announced the games 3 stars (Phil Kessel, who is Nut's favorite Bruins, got the 1st star) then we headed to the car for the 4+ hour ride home. But just as we walked out of our section, Mary Ellen found me!

Mary Ellen is a gem and I believe that we met for a reason.
I hope this is just the first encounter of many more...

3 Beautiful things 14/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Sunday March 15, 2009:

1. enjoying a trip to the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston to watch our beloved Bruins play a rousing game of hockey. (Thanks, Santa!)

2. hearing the horn blow and the music blast after Phil Kessel, Marc Savard and the rest of the Bruins score. woooooo!

3. dancing in the aisles when the Bruins win!

Everyday that we wake up to live another moment on this planet, we must find 3 things to be thankful for. Share yours with me now...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

3 Beautiful Things 13/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Saturday March 14, 2009:

1. having the means to put three complete meals on our table everyday and occasionally treat ourselves to dinner out.

2. opening the windows to let the fresh air seep into the house that has been closed too long against the chill of winter.

3. owning enough land to play football or baseball in the yard, take strolls in the backwoods and grow some of our own vegetables.

Every day we wake up to spend another day on this planet, we must find at least 3 things to be grateful for. Share yours here with me...

Friday, March 13, 2009

3 Beautiful Things 12/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Friday March 13, 2009:

1. having no superstitions.

2. seeing the sap buckets hanging from all of the maple trees for miles.

3. owning a reliable washer & dryer so we can have clean laundry at a moment's notice

Every day we wake up to live another moment on this planet, we must find 3 things to be thankful for. Take a minute to share yours with me now...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Are you there God? It's me, Lisa... Chapter 1

Hi there,
I know we don't talk much but this time I really need a friend. I hope you're listening because I don't know what to do.

You see things get a little tempestuous around here and sometimes, no matter what we do, nothing works to calm the storm. We've tried being patient, talking calmly, trying to reason... that made us look soft. We've tried tough love, being extra firm, and taking the no-nonsense approach... that made us look mean. We've tried loss of privileges, various consequences, even bold threats... that was a battle of the wills.

So we live day to day bracing ourselves for another wave, hoping the damn won't break. Some days it's hard to find the strength to keep building. And, as time goes on, the struggle gets more & more intense and our strength less & less resilient.

I know I've asked before, but can you please help him understand our goals and why we set boundaries & limits. There is acrimony in his voice when he talks, especially to the little bird, so communication is difficult. This often causes friction and discord, which ends up making us all miserable.

So, God, if you can hear me, please send an angel...

3 Beautiful Things 11/365

Here's my gratitude journal for Thursday March 12, 2009:

1. seeing the school bus rumble down the street to pick-up or drop off the kids

2. hearing the kids tell me they aced their math quiz

3. having great teachers every year who love their job and dedicate enormous time & energy to inspire their students to be the best they can be. Hats off and kudos to my son's 5th grade teacher, Mr. Flanagan, who is one in a zillion!

Every day we wake up to enjoy another day on this earth, we must find 3 things to be thankful for. I urge you to share yours here with me...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Beautiful blond with a heart of gold

I know what you're thinking... I'm on on the wrong website. I clicked into Match.com accidentally and am trying to place an ad for my dream guy. Uh, nope... I'm married to a dream guy so no need for matchmakers.

This would, however, be a great header or a good opening line for an ad for my youngest son. He was blessed with a head of sunny blond hair and has an enormous heart of gold, which grows bigger & bigger everyday.

This child is my cuddlebug and because we have somewhat opposite temperaments, we mesh very well. I enjoy every minute we spend together and he always manages to tickle my funny bone. Even if the words alone are not comical, the way he delivers the words often is. Typically "out of the mouth of babes" kind of things. This is why I call this blond blue-eyed angel "my crazy Nut".

He is as sweet as honey and incredibly kindhearted. I will not bore you with the countless deeds he's done to prove this but I do want to share a couple of things....

The other day as I was opening the fridge, I looked up to see the star Nut had made in last year in first grade. The teacher asked all of the children to write down one thing they wished for on a star. This is what Nut wrote on his star: "I will help people in trouble."

My heart fluttered the first time I read it and every time since. And the truth is I have no doubt that Nut will someday be someone's hero.

He will be a knight in shining armor. He will slay all Boogie Men. He will, as the dictionary describes, be a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his life for others.

Then the other day, as we were going to the doctor's office, we saw an old man shoveling the newly fallen snow. There wasn't much and it was fairly light, but the snowplow had pushed a menacing pile at the end of his driveway.

When I noticed the man, I had thought to myself "Gee, if I didn't have to be somewhere in 5 minutes, I'd stop to help him."
Just as I finished that thought, Nut had spotted the man and said sadly "Oooooh, I wish we could stop and help that man!"

So you see, he really does have a heart of gold. And he genuinely wants to help people in trouble!

3 Beautiful Things

Here is my gratitude journal for Wednesday March 11, 2009:

1. Kisses blown to me from the sweetest second grader in the world.

2. Staying home from work [and still getting paid] to care for my sick children.

3. Doing the "Jumble" in the newspaper and getting all of the words correctly unscrambled.

Every day we wake up to live another day here on earth, we must find 3 things to be thankful for. I urge you to share yours here with me...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Live for today

Don't let time slip away, like sand through your fingers.

Leave nothing unspoken.

Hug them closer, tighter. Kiss them longer, sweeter.

Inhale the scent of their hair, their skin, their being.

Memorize the beauty of their soul, the sound of their voice, the feel of their skin, the sparkle in their eyes.

It may be the last memory you have

So do it today, right now, before it's too late. Tell someone you love that you love them back.

Jo Dee Messina

3 Beautiful things 9/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Tuesday March 10, 2009:

1. The tender memories I have of Michael; caressing his silky blond curls, kissing his soft handsome face, looking into his gorgeous aquamarine eyes, inhaling the musky scent of his cologne, telling him that I would always be there for him no matter what. Dear God, I miss him!

2. The pleasures of motherhood; hugging, holding, sharing & molding.

3. Songs that stoke the fire of warm memories and gently touch my heart.

Everyday we wake up to live another day on this blessed earth, we must find three things to be thankful for. I urge you to share yours here with me....

Monday, March 9, 2009

Project Trash to Cash

The other day as my son & I were driving to the redemption center, he was looking out the window & saw discarded cans along the roadside. He calculated his "findings" to amount to about 60 cents by the time we got there.

That conversation sparked an idea! I told him we should begin a new mission once our current "Helping Hands" project is complete. The focus of the new project will be greening up the roadsides and seeing how much money we can "find" in the process. We plotted & planned what we would do, what our goal would be, and what we would do with the "funds".

Here is the recap of what we came up with:

The Mission:
Project Trash to Cash

The Action:
collect returnables from roadside, playgrounds, fields, parks, waterways & open areas (even trash cans!) for one whole year.

The Goal:
pick up at least two cans each day, or 14 cans each week; 56 cans between the four of us.

The Proceeds:
if we all reach our daily goal, we should net $174.72. We agreed that we would split the money 50/50 with a charity then put our half in our annual vacation fund.

The Greater Good:
greening up & recycling, plus supporting a charity & investing in the future.

My father-in-law does a similar thing every year: he collects discarded coins and puts them in a jar. At the end of the year, he counts, rolls, and redeems it. After he records the total in his ledger, he takes his wife out to lunch. He calls his project "Found Money".

Beautiful Things 8/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Monday March 9, 2009:

1. Waking up every morning in a warm comfortable home with a good roof over our heads, running water, indoor plumbing, and the magic of electricity.

2. Friends near & far, past & present, human & furry, here & in cyberspace.

3. Having a secure job, despite the woeful wage.

Every day we wake up to spend another day on this earth, we must find 3 things to be thankful for. I urge you to take a minute to share yours here with me.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

3 Beautiful Things 7/365

Here is my gratitude journal for Sunday March 8, 2009:

1. my health... no broken bones on the very icy ski slopes* yesterday

2. teaching my children life lessons

3. the sweet sound of the words "Bruins win!"

Every time we wake up to live another day here on earth, we need to find at least 3 things to be thankful for. Please share yours with me...

And can I ask a favor of you:
I implore all of you to please please pretty pretty please pray for a mammoth snowfall on top of Smuggs for me.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Are you green enough?

My son and I are doing a bottle drive to raise money for a local family. This got me thinking about how bottle collections and recycling campaigns impact our environment. So I did some research and found the info listed below on Wikipedia re: container-deposit legislation.

I was stunned to learn how few states in the US follow this "green" legislation. Only 11 out of 50, which amounts to a mere 22%! I wonder what the other 39 states look like? Their landfills must be monumental. I am so glad we live in a "green" state (aptly nicknamed the "Green Mountain" State).

Here are just a few points I found fascinating, so I thought I'd bring them more to the forefront. But before you read this, I urge you to please recycle, reduce & reuse.

US states with container deposits:
New York

Many provinces have deposit refunds in place for alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverage containers. Deposits range from 5 to 40 cents per unit.

Ontario's system of deposit refund for beer bottles has a near 100% return rate. In 1997 the legislation added a refund for wine & spirits as well.

In Sweden, there are deposit values on nearly all consumption-ready containers. The return rate for aluminum and PET containers is 86%; for the two types of bottles the rate is 99% and 90% respectively.

The selling of aluminum beverage cans in Norway was forbidden up until the end of the 20th century. Today Norway has various container deposits. In 2005, 93% of all recyclable bottles and 80% of the drink cans were returned and recycled. This amounted to approximately 243 million containers and 280 million NOK in deposits.

One Man's Treasure... Operation Helping Hands Part II

For those of you who might not understand this post, you first must read my 3/6/09 post about "helping hands".

To recap, there was a fire in our town which destroyed the two-family home of one of our school's bus driver, "Gramma Kaye". Kaye's daughter, son-in-law and 2 grandchildren lived in an apartment above the garage. Her granddaughter is in my son's 5th grade class.

I sent out various e-mails to 16 parents of 5th graders as well as the two principals, the four 5th grade teachers, the PTO, & the student council advisor asking if they would help me network to organize a student-run fund drive for this family. The school basically told me that they had already done what they felt was appropriate and student involvement was unnecessary.

Now I just wanted to follow-up about a comment written on my last post. My friend Heather, who is also a bus driver at our school, wrote:

"...the school had done some sort of pull together for Kaye right after it happened (I believe that effort was inside...teachers and staff). ...there were people rallying together on Kaye's behalf too, moms and such doing group efforts and individual things." (see full comment on yesterday's post)

Here is my reply:

When I spoke to Mrs. McA, she said that the 5th grade teachers had pooled together @ $400. As we both know, the other staff also collected goods (& cash, I think) during the week after the fire, which is fabulous. Yet I still believe that the middle school students should have done something, too, as a gesture of "school community", [which is constantly preached everyday in every classroom]. This would've been a perfect opportunity to teach these young people a valuable lesson about being good Samaritans.

Then, after the article in the newspaper ran on Monday, people starting randomly dropping items off at the school for Kaye. However, I have heard that most of the items that were donated & collected were useless (dare I say) junk.
What makes that worse is that Kaye and her family were left with the task of disposing of it, too.

On top of all that, the home that they are temporarily living in now was in deplorable condition when they moved in. The previous tenant had lived there with 5 dogs and the house was a filthy mess. All of the flooring and carpet needed to be ripped out to the sub-floor, the walls were smeared with dirt (from the dogs) and the appliances were gross. There was so much to be done to make living there comfortable, and because they were so emotionally fragile they were overwhelmed by everything.

To further complicate matters, they all had to deal with losing their homes and 90% of their belongings, not to mention the guilt about how the fire started. Then they had to start making phone calls to the insurance company, the bank, the utility companies, and various agencies in order to start the rebuilding process. Anyone in this stressful situation would not want a multitude of "garage-sale leftover" to have to sort through, store, wash, and dispose of.

Honestly the best thing for this family's peace of mind would have been a hefty check and offers of manpower, not junk. So I wanted to rally people to coordinate a fundraiser for them. Kaye & Katina do not need THINGS at this point; they need MONEY. This became emphatically clear once I did get a chance to speak with Kaye. She sadly admitted that she forgot to change the insurance once the apartment was built. Therefore her daughter's home
was uninsured, which means none of their loss can be recouped.

Do not misunderstand me; I think it was fantastic that people wanted to help replace "things" that the family lost. But no one can be sure what they really needed unless there was a list circulated (which there wasn't). So think about it: wouldn't you be overwhelmed, too, if
everyone donated towels & sheets but little else?"

Because so many people donated things, the family was embarrassed to begrudge anything. Among the donations were sweat stained pillows and previously worn bras & panties.

My point is that people had their hearts in the right place, but to rebuild the contents of your ENTIRE house, money and manpower were much more appropriate "gifts". My opinion, of course...

I hope no one will take offense with my ranting.... I also hope that I never have to face the consequences of such a devastating event.

Now, let's all count our blessings.

3 Beautiful Things 6/365

Everyday I will list three things that inspire, enhance or embellish my world. I encourage you to share yours with me.

Meanwhile this is my gratitude journal for Saturday march 7, 2009:

1. Daylight Savings Time ... it'll be lighter longer! whooo hooo

2. Gas prices below $2.00/gallon. I can now get a full tank for less than $25, rather than 1/4 tank

3. Hubby doing the dishes every night... He also does some cooking, cleaning, and 43 other helpful domestic duties. He also gets my vote for Father of the Year.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Operation Helping Hands, Part I

Back in January I wrote two different posts about reaching out which related to a recent tragedy in our community. (If you have a minute, look back at these links so you can understand what motivated me.) Unfortunately my attempt to rally other parents in my sons school was a bust. So, too, was my outreach to the school's principal & administration. Although I did hear from 4 parents (out of 16), only one has jumped on the bandwagon. Nevertheless, I was not discouraged. So I coordinated a simple project to do with my son LJ to raise money for this family.

First, I spread the word
to my coworkers at the ski resort about my plan to launch a bottle drive. Then one of them suggested I talk to the resort's maintenance coordinator. She said that he could hook me up with a boatload of returnables every week. Boy was she right! Since contacting Paul, we have collected over 2750 bottles which, at 6 cents apiece, has netted us over $165.00 so far. Our goal was 3000 cans, and when we wrap it up in a couple of weeks we will certainly have exceeded that goal, likely by 900+ bottles.

This has been an amazing project and one that has really opened our hearts to the needs of others. Ironically, my other son's class has embarked on a "kindness" mission, whereas the children are encouraged to perform random acts of kindness throughout their daily interactions. And just recently, I began another phenomenal project called Blessed Bucks. This type of goodwill is so up my alley. So thanks, Erin, for the inspiration! I cannot wait to tell the kids about it and get them in on the act, too.

Life is good when you share yourself with others... Pass it on!

3 Beautiful Things 5/365

Everyday I will post three beautiful things that inspire, embellish and/or enhance my world. I encourage you to share yours with me.

Meanwhile this is my gratitude journal for Friday March 6, 2009:

1. Friday date nights... with the boys. My hubby takes one son & I take the other out for a one-on-one date. Anything goes as long as it's pure quality time.

2. The radiant heat from the wood stove that penetrates even the most numbing chill.

3. Fresh kettle popped buttered popcorn with a hefty sprinkle of parmesan cheese & a dash of salt.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

3 Beautiful Things 4/365

Everyday I will post three beautiful things that inspire, embellish and/or enhance my world. I encourage you to share yours with me.

Meanwhile this is my gratitude journal for Thursday March 5, 2009

1. One of my husband's old drinking buddies and fun-loving girl friend, who is now one of my most treasured friends. Happy Anniversay of your 29th Birthday, Suzie. Love you lots!

2. The end of a verrrry loooong school break (phew! We all survived... but now I need a vacation)

3. The fabulous taste & aroma of freshly brewed coffee... my fav: Green Mtn Coffee Roasters French Roast

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Silencing the Boogie Man

In my world, the Boogie Man represents fear, oppression, indignity, ridicule, vilification, embarrassment, anguish, suffering, and pain. I have spent many hours afraid of various tangible & intangible things thus sheltering myself from living a whole life.

I am afraid of the dark, afraid of heights, afraid of snakes, afraid of getting hurt, and afraid of dying (or more to the point, how I will die). I justify most of these things as my fear of the unknown syndrome. I have denied myself not only physical exploits but also opportunities for personal growth. I have
virtually shied away, curled myself into a ball, and hid under the covers trying to avoid my dreaded Boogie Man.

All of us have run from him, trying to stay safe within the walls of our insecurities. As children we could hide behind our mother's leg, cling to our daddy's shoulder, or duck behind the couch when the Boogie Man showed up. Yet as adults, we must either face the battle or live life in a bubble.

I choose the battle most of the time. And often my artillery is my voice. I seldom sit quietly when painted into a corner. I speak my mind, I raise my point, I question so-called authority.

But when I must act against the Boogie Man, I am often paralyzed with self-doubt, fear and vacillation. I often question my physical capability & competence.

Case in point, sports. I am not very athletic and rarely participate in an organized sport. Although I love to ski, I tend to gravitate toward the trails known as "blue cruisers" rather than conquer the threat of the "black diamonds". But lately I have decided to throw my fears to the wind and live my life a little more towards the edge. I ski harder, faster and more zealous because I keep reminding myself that if I don't try, I will never know what I could have done.

Last summer, when we went to Hershey Park, I thought it might be fun to ride all of the roller coasters with the kids. Ironically, I enjoy the thrill but hate the vulnerability. Still, it was their first time at an amusement park, so I vowed to make it memorable.

The first coaster was fun, the next one was better, but the 3rd was incredibly intimidating. I rode the entire 58 seconds with my eyes shut tight, screaming bloody murder and hoping I would live. Obviously I did. So, with my newly bolstered courage, we raced to coaster #4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10. However I declared that I would NOT, no way/no how, strap myself to the Fahrenheit. But again, I decided that "life is too short" not to take risks, not to dare, not to breathe new air into my lungs.

So now whenever I feel the swell of fear or intimidation by the Boogie Man, I just say a little prayer and take a leap of faith.

3 Beautiful Things 3/365

Everyday I will post three beautiful things that inspire, embellish and/or enhance my world. Some of these things are simply pure enjoyment or indulgences and may have no intrinsic value to life in general. Nonetheless they are things I cherish...

I hope that all of my readers (yes you) will leave your comments on what 3 awesome things touched your life today... For those of you who read my blog via e-mail, please click "here".

Meanwhile this is my gratitude journal for Wednesday March 4, 2009:

1. another evening in front of the tube watching the Boston Bruins with my men

2. the Girl Scout cookies I got from Madison (thank you for the Thank Yous. yummmm)

3. the mesmerizing & melodic song sung by our little frisky furry feline Pixie [Pugsley]

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 2/365

Everyday I will post three beautiful things that inspire, embellish and/or enhance my world. I hope that all of my readers (yes you) will leave your comments on what 3 awesome things touched your life today... For those of you who read my blog via e-mail, please click "here".

Meanwhile this is my gratitude journal for Tuesday March 3, 2009:

1. The blissful sound of the words "I love you, Mom"

2. The right to vote [Today is election day here. Make your voice heard!]

3. The warm softness of freshly laundered flannel sheets on a bitter cold night

Monday, March 2, 2009

Three Beautiful Things 1/365

I am launching new project that will express how grateful I am to be alive. Everyday I will list three beautiful things that inspire, embellish or enhance my life. I hope that all of my readers (yes you) will leave your comments on what touched your life today...

Meanwhile here is my gratitude journal for Monday March 2, 2009:

1. Snow ~ I love watching snow gently tumbling from the heavens, with the lace-like wings of a gorgeous white butterfly

2. Strawberry & banana breakfast smoothies

3. Moxie ~ our ultra-
silly fluffy orange kitten nicknamed "Dork" because she has such a goofy personality & always makes me laugh

Pursue your dream

Pursue your dream
Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.