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Spend time with family and loved ones
Zen Habits

When was the last time you told your family and close personal friends that you loved them? Whatever your answer, do it
today. Recently my grandfather was admitted to the hospital, just days after his 80th birthday, for heart problems. He’s had
heart surgery in the past, and this time, just as in the past, he toughed it out. But any day could be his day, the day when it
will be too late to tell him how much he’s meant to me over the years.

Don’t let that day come for your loved ones without telling them what they mean to you.

I know that for many of us, expressing those kinds of feelings isn’t easy. That’s true for me, but I’ve been trying to overcome
those barriers. But even if that’s too difficult for you, I recommend that you just hang out with your family or treasured
friends. Talk to them. Listen to them. Understand them.

Just spending a little time with someone shows that you care, shows that they are important enough that you’ve chosen —
out of all the things to do on your busy schedule — to find the time for them. And if you go beyond that, and truly connect
with them, through good conversation, that says even more. Many times its our actions, not just our words, that really
speak what our hearts feel.

Taking the time to connect with those you love will bring you true happiness. The more you do it, the happier
you’ll be.

Since I’m a notorious list-maker, and because many people are busy and might need help with this, here are some tips:

  • Have five minutes? Send an email. It doesn’t take long to send an email to someone you care about, asking them
    how they are, wishing them a good day. And that little gesture could go a long way, especially if you follow it up over
    time with regular emails.
  • Have 10 minutes? Call them up. A phone call is an easy way to connect with someone. It’s conversation, without
    the need for travel. What an invention! :)
  • Really focus on them. Don’t just spend time with someone but think about your work, or your blog, or the errands
    you have to run. Pay attention to that person. Listen. Really be there, in that moment, with that person. Because that’
    s a moment you’ll never get back, so spend it wisely.

  • Have a blast. Tell jokes, crack each other up, do something fun and spontaneous. Really have a great time!
  • Have 30 minutes? You might not get the chance to do this every day,
    but at least once a week, take 30 minutes to drop in on someone you
    love (call first, so you don’t catch them in their underwear) and just
    visit. It’ll be some of the best 30 minutes you’ll spend this week.
  • Have a couple hours? Have a good lunch or go somewhere with a loved one. Who
    among us doesn’t have a couple of free hours each month? Weekends, or evenings,
    there’s got to be a time that you spend in front of the TV or mindlessly surfing the
    internet. Take a chunk of that time, and devote it to a friend or family.
A Maryland Tall Tale

There is an old tale which claims that at midnight, on Christmas Eve, the cattle will kneel in the barn and speak with one
another. Once an old Maryland man decided to test the tale by hiding in the barn at midnight to listen. So he climbed a
rope to the window in the hayloft. He lay down on the rough gray boards, covered himself with hay and waited.

Around midnight, he saw all the cows in the barn kneel. At first he could not make out any words, but then, he heard the
cow underneath his hiding place say to its neighbor: "I am afraid our poor old master will not live out the year."
"Oh dear," exclaimed her neighbor. "What a pity."

The old man was so frightened by the cow's words that he hurried over to the window, wanting to get away from the barn as
fast as he could. But his sweating fingers slipped on the rope and he fell to the ground, broke his neck, and died.

Since then, the people in Maryland have never eavesdropped on the cattle at midnight on Christmas Eve.
A Massachusetts Tall Tale

A while back there was a family I know of - a mother, a father, and several children. Four of them had mouths that were
twisted into strange shapes. The mother's mouth twisted up while the father's mouth twisted down. The sister's mouth
twisted left while the younger brother's mouth twisted right. The eldest son John's mouth was perfectly normal.

When John grew up, his parents sent him to college. He was the first person in his family to get a college education, and
everyone was eager to hear what he had to say when he came home from his first vacation. Everyone sat up late talking.
When it came time to go to bed, the Mother said: "Papa, I cannot find the candle snuffer. Will you blow out the candle in the
sitting room?"

"Yes I will," said the Father. He blew as hard as he could. But his mouth was twisted down so that when he blew, the air
tickled his chin.

"Well now, Mama, I think you should blow out the candle," said he.

"Yes I will," said she. She blew as hard as she could. But her mouth was twisted up so that when she blew, the air made her
hair stand on end.

"You know, Mary," she said to her daughter, " I think perhaps you should blow out the candle."

"Yes I will," said Mary. She blew as hard as she could. But her mouth twisted to the left,
so that when she blew all the air rushed over her cheek.

"Dick, I think tonight you should blow out the candle," said Mary to her younger brother.

"Yes I will," said Dick. He took a deep breath and blew as hard as he could. But his mouth
was twisted to the right, so that when he blew all the air went into his right ear.

Then Dick said, "John, maybe you should blow out the candle."

"Yes I will," said John. He blew as hard as he could. And since his mouth was straight,
the candle went right out.

They all cheered.

Patting John on the shoulder, the father said to his two younger children: "Well now, I hope you both learned
how important it is to get a college education."
The Twist-Mouth Family
You Can't Get Out
An Oklahoma Ghost Story

One dark, windy night, the town drunk was meandering his way home after the bar closed. Somehow he got turned
around and ended up walking through the churchyard instead of taking the road home.

The wind picked up and he thought he could hear a voice calling his name. Suddenly, the ground opened up in front of
him, and he fell down, down into an open grave! He could hear the voice clearer now, calling to him. He knew it was the
devil, coming for him just like the preacher said, on account of him being the town drunk.

The hole was very deep and inside it was pitch black. His eyes adjusted to the darkness after a few
moments, and he made out a form sitting in the darkness with him. It called his name, and he
scrambled away in fear, trying to climb out of that terrible grave.
Then the figure spoke. "You can't get out," it said.

The drunk gave a shout of pure terror and leapt straight up more than six feet. He caught the
edge of the hole in his hands, scrambled out, and ran for home as fast as he could go.

Inside the open grave, his neighbor Charlie sighed in resignation. He'd fallen into the
hole a few minutes before his friend and had thought that together they might help each
other climb out. Now he was going to have to wait until morning and get the mortician to bring him a ladder.
Ducks in the wind! Too cute!
Father Daughter Duet - Adorable!!!
What to do when the weather keeps kids indoors.
Last year it was the "snowpocalypse." This year's it's "snowmageddon." Whatever you call it, the extreme weather
immobilizing most of the country all adds up to one thing for kids: snow days!

Sure, you may have to make up the days in June, but when you're looking down the long side of winter, summer seems
so far away. For now, enjoy the downtime, drink some cocoa, and stock up on fun family entertainment. (And if it's rain or
even plain old laziness that's got your family indoors, we won't tell anyone!)
Things I love about volunteering in the classroom
In another life, I probably would have been an elementary school teacher. I missed the boat to
teacher school, so when my twin boys reached school age, I eagerly signed up to work in the
classroom. At our school, volunteering is not mandated and I have no plans to use it as a pathway to
becoming president of the home and school club. I truly enjoy teaching children which is why I'm in the
classroom every day.

Here are some of the more humorous reasons why I love volunteering to work in the classroom.
I witness fashion trends. Did you know that the Silly Bandz fad is nearly over? My kids were
never into Silly Bandz so it wasn't until I stepped into the classroom to volunteer that I witnessed
the fashion insanity that was the Silly Bandz craze. But lately, there's been just a handful of kids
in class sporting Silly Bandz. If I hadn't been working in the classroom, Silly Bandz would have
come and gone and I wouldn't have even noticed.
I've been Cheese Touched. My boys and I hadn't read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and we hadn't seen the films that soon
followed so I didn't know what it meant to be Cheese Touched until it happened to me one day during journal time. Two little girls
at my table were snickering quietly, their eyes darting my way.Then they reached out with crossed fingers, touched my arm and
whispered, "Cheese touch!" The whole table stifled their laughter and I was left to wonder what it all meant. I tried to Cheese
Touch the girls back but they held up their crossed fingers and said, "Nope, we had our fingers crossed." For the uninitiated, it's
like a modern day version of cooties. You get the Cheese Touch, you stink like cheese.
I feel like a celebrity. The school yard is the only place I've ever felt like a celebrity. As I
walk through the quad area, the kids wave at me and shout, "Mrs. B! Mrs. B!" or "Hi, M's
Mom!" Sometimes they just ambush me from behind with a hug.

The Tooth Fairy is alive and well. Everywhere I turn, I see Jack o' lantern smiles. First
graders lose a lot of teeth! And when those teeth grow back in, the kids look different,
older even. I love seeing these gap toothed kids as they are, speeding through that
precious time between babyhood and adolescence.
I sneak kisses to my children. If one of my boys comes near me in class, I sneak him a smooch. I just can't help it, it's a reflex.
However, when I kissed one of my sons on the top of his head during a classroom field trip the other day, a boy laughed at us.
Drat. I know I'll soon have to go undercover with my public displays of affection toward my kids.

I can read best guess spelling. Take Andaman. A little girl wrote that Andaman is her favorite TV show. I'd never
heard of a show called Andaman. Hmm, andaman...andaman... - I've got it! - video On Demand!
I take in tidbits of their lives. I know who has a crush on whom. I know who just went to
Disneyland. I got my heartstrings tugged when a child told me her mother is far away and
not coming back. I know which boys would be doing advanced math and advanced well,
everything, if ever a Star Wars themed school were to open.

Of course, my days are often fraught with not so fun moments, like when my own child won't
listen, or when a leaky nosed boy sneezes in my face but this is February and in the spirit of
Valentine's Day, I'd like to shout out to all the wonderful moms who volunteer to work in the
by Akemi
Why Don't Grandparents Help Out More?
Your in-laws are great and your kids love when they visit. So why can't they come over and lend a hand? Is that too much to

One mom recently wrote an anonymous letter to her in-laws asking for them to step up to the plate. Can you relate? Read her
letter and see:
Dear In-Laws,

You guys are great. Really, love ya, you're marvelous people. I'm proud to call you my second mom and dad and my kids'
grandparents. But I sure wish you would start acting like grandparents and get more involved with my kids!
Hubs and I were so happy to be living near you when we decided to become parents,
and you were so excited too to be grandparents. Back then you talked endlessly about
the joys of babysitting and future outings with the little ones.

But guys, it's been five years now and those babysitting gigs and trips to the park with
the kids are VERY few and far between.

It seems that almost every time we kindly ask you (with lots of notice!) to watch the kids
when we receive an adults-only invite, you're always unavailable. Actually, you've never
even offered to watch the kids!
I know you already raised your own kids, and I don't expect you to raise mine. But a little
more involvement, playtime and OK, I'll admit it, childcare help, would be much appreciated!
Especially by those two little people in my house who adore you completely.

Sincerely yours,

Your Exasperated Daughter-in-Law
And don't get me started on those Sunday stop-overs you guys are fond know, the ones where
you like to talk politics and golf and tell the kids, "Children should be seen and not heard" when they try
and climb in your lap with their favorite story books. Come on, one reading of Fancy Nancy, or even a
round of Chutes and Ladders, is not going to kill you!
Grandma's Tales