Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Role Model

role model

Athletes can captivate and delight us, annoy and infuriate us.  They can disappoint and discourage us but they can  also motivate and inspire us.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a big sports fan.  I love to go to games and will happily sit home and watch a game with Dave and the boys.  My kids and Dave all play sports and most of our weekends are filled with games that they are taking part in.  Drew’s dream is to be a professional athlete.  I see this as  a good and a bad thing!  Being paid to play a sport would be a dream come true for him but I would hate to see him caught up in the greed that sadly is often witnessed when it comes to pro athletes and their salaries.  I know that most of these athletes have dedicated their entire lives to their sport, but when they fight for more money, or strike because they cannot negotiate a contract, it disappoints me.  BUT, this does not apply to all athletes.

Today I heard a story about David Beckham.  He signed a five month contract with the team Paris Saint-Germain.  He decided that he would donate his one million dollar a month salary to a yet named children’s charity.  Beckham has been a UNICEF ambassador for over ten years and has worked with numerous children’s charities throughout his career.  I know many will think that he makes so much money in endorsements this “is just a drop in the bucket for him”, but he is still doing it.  He is making others aware.  If my children choose to have role models that are athletes, I would prefer that it be someone like David Beckham.  A person who when he sees that there is a need, makes an effort to make a change for the better.




“God Bless You”

bless you

I have a cold.  When I get a cold, my worst symptom is always sneezing.  I have sneezed NO LESS than 50 times today and although I am not complaining, after hearing, “God Bless you” over and over again, I decided to look up its origin and see how the saying came to be.  I found a few different stories:

The first explanation that I found, said that it began as an actual blessing. Pope Gregory the Great (540-604 AD) began his leadership in the Catholic Church just in time for the start of the plague.  Gregory called for litanies, and constant prayer for God’s help and intercession. People marched through the streets chanting, “Kyrie Eleison”, which is Greek for “Lord have mercy”.  When someone sneezed, they were immediately blessed “God bless you!” in the hope that they would not develop the plague.

Many cultures, believe that sneezing expels the soul–the “breath of life”–from the body, which opens it to the devil, therefore warranting others to say, “God Bless You”. While other people believe that your heart stops when you sneeze and therefore saying, “God Bless You” wills the heart to start beating again.

I found one website where people were bantering about why they REFUSE to say “God Bless You”.  Some for the religious aspect and others because they feel that the superstitions behind it make it seem nonsensical.

Personally, I always say, “Bless you” or “God Bless You” when I hear someone sneeze.  I don’t do it for any superstitious reasons, nor for any religious regions.  I do it because I my parents taught me that it was common courtesy to say it when someone sneezed.  I have taught my children the same.  How about you?  Do you say it?  Why or why not?  I would be interested in hearing your response.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

bucket cover

Are you familiar with this book?  Until today, I had heard about it but never read it.  This book encourages positive behavior and shows children see how important it is to express daily kindness, appreciation, and kindness.  Bucket filling is a really great analogy for understanding the cause and effects of our actions and words towards others.  The book tells us that everyone has an invisible bucket that we carry around with us everywhere we go.  It says that the bucket has one purpose and that is to hold all of the good feelings and thoughts about yourself.  When you are happy, it is full and when you are sad it is empty.  To make the bucket work, you need other people to fill your bucket and other people need you to fill theirs.  To do this, you just need to show kindness and love to each other.  BUT, you can be a bucket dipper as well.  Bucket dippers do mean things and make others feel bad.  You don’t want to be a bucket dipper, but if you practice very hard, you can become a great bucket filler.

Today, I received this book with a lovely letter from a parent of one of my students.  She definitely filled my bucket with her kind words.  I cannot wait to read the book to my class, tell them about their buckets and think of ways that we can fill them!

have you filled a bucket

My Jelly Bellies for the day: (jelly bellies are moments in my day that give me an extra boost of happiness)

  • this book was one for sure!
  • a bag of goodies to use with my students from a workshop I attended this afternoon
  • hearing that my son did a good deed today for someone when he retrieved her phone out of a sewer (gross I know,  but he had the smallest hands).


never give up

My sister told me about JoyJars today.  Her son Mikey, received one in the mail today.  I had never heard of JoyJars® before.  I found out that they are a great way to send a little joy to a child fighting cancer or other life-threatening condition.  Mikey has Mitochondrial disease.  Mito affects almost every part of the body causing less energy to sustain the body.  Mikey is 8 years old and has been through many treatments.  He is a happy kid, who is doing very well in school and despite all that he has gone through, he is a fighter and puts up with a lot.  Someone heard about his fight with mito and contacted someone at JoyJars and had a jar sent to him.

I did a little research to find out more about the jars and this is what I found:

JoyJars® were created by Jessica Joy Rees during her courageous 10 month fight with two brain tumors. Jessie used her JoyJars® to spread hope, joy and love to courageous kids across America fighting life altering medical illnesses. JoyJars® are stuffed with love and are:

  • 100% free to patients and hospitals
  • filled with new toys and activities
  • for boys and girls
  • for ages 18 and under

Her motto was “NEGU”, which stands for “Never Ever Give Up”.  What a great motto for everyone to follow.  This little girl was an inspiration for so many people and her joyjars can continue to make kids happy even when they are not feeling well.  The smile on Mikey’s face was proof of that!

The website offered many ways to help;  donating toys, purchasing tee-shirts and helping financially.    Check it out when you have a moment.


music is

Have you ever noticed how many benefits listening to music has? It can cheer you up, relieve stress and motivate you. This morning I led a kickboxing class and decided to use my “running mix” as the playlist. I am not much of a runner, and my playlist includes songs that are fast and upbeat as well as some that are more relaxed. Those upbeat fast moving songs make me run faster and the mellow ones help me to slow down and catch my breath. It was the first time to use the playlist in a class so I was very conscious of how other perceived it. For the most part it was well received. Really upbeat, fun punching music. Sounds funny to write about punching in a kindness blog, but Kickboxing is a huge stress reliever for me. Not only is it a great workout but sometimes hitting an object as hard as I can let’s me get rid of any negativity I might be harboring.
But back to the main idea of today’s blog. As I was driving home I was thinking about music and wondering if there were many songs that were actually about kindness. Not just kiddie songs that I might teach at school, but actual songs you might hear on the radio. There’s no shortage of songs about guns, sex, breaking up and violence but I was having trouble coming up with songs about kindness towards others. Not just love songs, but kindness. I am not saying that I don’t listen to all sorts of music,  I do and I enjoy most of it! It just surprised me that I could not come up with any off the top of my head.
I googled “songs about kindness” when I got home. The first one that appeared was, “We are the World“. There aren’t many songs kinder than that one but that’s an old one! Bob Marley’s song, “One Love“, is another but still not recent. I’m really not current with music, my kids try to keep me up to date but I’ll admit I’m more than a little clueless. Maybe some of you can help out. Let me know some songs that promote kindness. Write them in the comments. It’s so discouraging to think that kids can list numerous songs about  hate, sex or violence in them but will have a tough time with songs promoting the opposite. I look forward to being proven wrong on this one! Show me that there a lot of them out there!

Edited to add: Tonight I was telling my boys about today’s blog. I asked them if they could think of a song that was about kindness.  Without hesitation, Drew said “Home” by Philip Philips. A few minutes later the song came in the radio and sure enough, he was right!

Oh! And my “jelly belly” moment for today, I realized I can write my blog on my phone!
(Yesterday’s post will explain).

Jelly Belly Moments

good in every day

I was wondering if there would be some days that I just would not be able to find something to write about.  Then, today, I came across this quote, “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in everyday”.  I stopped to think about it. Could it have been the amazing moon Drew and I saw while we were driving home from his batting practice?  Or maybe the two boys who in the middle of batting practice actually said “excuse me” when they reached under me to grab their bats.  Maybe it was the three hours I had all alone in my classroom today.

My own boys and I were bickering all day.  Me, because I was disappointed in their school work – or lack of school work!   Them, because I was nagging them about it.  It made for a day of unkind words and moments between us and put all three of us in foul moods.  That quote made me sit back and think.  Yes, we were cranky and crabby, but as Drew and I rode in silence in the car, we both took notice of that fabulous moon and both had to talk to each other about it.   If only there had been a place to pull over and take a picture of it…we could have made a great memory.

I read on another blogger’s post,  that “life is like a tiny bag of jelly bellies.  The woman thought that jelly bellies were the perfect sweet treat while she was on a diet and let herself savor a few jelly bellies everyday.  Those jelly bellies, gave her a boost and made her happy.  Just like her life which was filled with little moments that gave her a boost and made her happy.  In her blog, she made a list of her “jelly belly moments”.  You can read them here.

I decided to list a few of my own “jelly bellies”

  1. When Drew, (even at 11), cuddles up on the couch with me to watch something on television
  2. When the boys are in the den, and I can hear them laughing
  3. When Dave sends me a sweet text while I am at work
  4. When Dave makes dinner and adds cheese, (my favorite food), even though he does not like it
  5. When one of my students accidentally calls me “mom”
  6. A snow day!
  7. Getting a bargain, (anyone who knows me well knows how much I love this)!
  8. Jokes that only Dave and I understand
  9. When my roommate from college still calls me “Claire Bear” when we speak
  10. Seeing a yellow butterfly

I plan on focusing on more jelly belly moments when I am having a day like today.  Even just after writing this, my spirits are lifted and I am in a much better mood.  Try to think of some of your own jelly belly moments.  Let me know what you come up with!  I would love to hear some of them in the comments.



I know that manners are learned behaviors.  We are not born knowing proper etiquette.  Children imitate what they see and hear.   I  was raised in a household where rudeness was unacceptable and manners were just a way of life.  That is how my husband, Dave and I have raised our own boys.  Tonight, Dave and I decided to take advantage of a quiet night alone, by going out to an early dinner.  We were not looking for a romantic, quiet dinner out, and wound up at family friendly restaurant nearby.  We were seated right away and enjoying our dinner when a mom and her four children walked in,  (or should I say, stormed in), and were seated at a table near us.   I try not to pass judgement when I see noisy, boisterous children because I don’t know what circumstances these families might be facing but rudeness is another story.  The way these children spoke to the waiter,  had us both shaking our head in amazement.  No “please”, no “thank you”.  Just abrupt calling out, “I want” and “get me”.  The little girl burped so loudly, that the entire restaurant turned around.  Instead of the mother appearing embarrassed or telling her daughter to say excuse me, she joined in with the rest of the kids laughing.

Now, my children are far from perfect and you will never hear me saying that they are, but they know how to speak to others with respect and they know that no other behavior will be tolerated no matter where we are or who they are talking to.  Instead of letting it go, I let it get to me.  Each time one of those children yelled out, or screamed or spoke rudely to their mother or a waiter I just got more upset…and then the mom spoke.

The waiter went to their table.  She rudely snapped at him, “Do you think we could have some time with the menus since we just sat down?”.  To which the waiter, (politely I must say) responded, “yes, of course.  I was just here to take your drink order”.  There was no apology from the woman for her rudeness to this waiter.  Dave said, “well we know where they get it from now”.  To which I answered, “well at least now I know what to write about for my blog”.

If manners and respect are modeled at home, then children will model them outside of the home.  I guess my mom was right,  “Please and thank you”…they really are the magic words.

Getting Along With People

roosevelt getting along

After a tough day at work, I really thought I had nothing to write about today – until I got home and found this in the mail.  Thanks to my friend Anita who is following my blog!!  I am not sure where she got it from and even after searching for it on line, I did find it but it was listed as “author unknown”  Anita has it hanging in her office.  Perhaps I should do the same.  It may have helped me to change my attitude.

“The Ten Commandments of How to Get Along With People”

    • Keep skid chains on your tongue.  Alyways say less than you think. Cultivate a low, persuasive voice.  How you say it often counts more than what you say.
    • Make promises sparingly and keep them faithfully, no matter what the cost.
    • Never let an opportunity pass to say a kind and encouraging word TO or ABOUT somebody.  Praise good work, regardless of who did it.
    • Be interested in others; their pursuits, their work, their homes and their families.  Make merry with those who rejoice; with those who weep, or mourn.  Let everyone you meet, however humble, feel that you regard him/her as a person of importance.
    • Be cheerful.  Don’t burden or depress those around you by dwelling on your aches and pains and small disappointments.  Remember, everyone is carrying some sort of burden.
    • Keep an open mind.  Discuss but don’t argue.  It is a mark of a superior mind to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.
    • Let your virtues, if you have any, speak for themselves.  Refuse to talk about the vices of other.  Discourage gossip.  It is a waste of valuable time and can be destructive and hurtful.
    • Take into consideration the feelings of others. Wit and humor at the expense of another is never worth the pain that may be inflicted.
    • Pay no attention to ill-natured remarks about you.  Remember, the person who carried the message may not be the most accurate reporter in the world.  Simply live so that nobody will believe him/her.  Disordered nerves and bad digestion are a common cause of back-biting.
    • Don’t be anxious about the credit due you.  Do your best and be patient.  Forget about yourself and let others “remember”.  Success is much sweeter that way.

Color Blind

children teach about life

Today, I taught one of my favorite lessons!  The “Brown Egg, White Egg” lesson.  I bring two raw eggs to school.  One brown and one white.  I show the class the eggs and we talk about their similarities and differences.  The class writes and illustrates what they notice about the eggs.  Then we crack the white one and look at what is inside.  Some of them, but not many, had seen a brown egg before.  We predicted what we thought it would look like when we cracked it open.  Many thought that it would be brown inside.  We cracked it open and saw that they were exactly the same!!

We gathered on the carpet and talked about it.  I had two students come to the front of the room, one with brown skin and one with peach skin.  We talked about how they were the same.  Some of the answers I heard were:

  • they were both five years old
  • they were both Kindergarteners
  • they both had on stripes

Then we talked about their differences:

  • one had blond hair and one had black hair
  • one was a boy and one was a girl
  • one had on blue and the other had on pink
  • one had a headband, the other did not

We probably got through at least five more differences before someone mentioned, “one has brown skin and one has peach skin”.  I asked them what we noticed about the eggs when we cracked them open and they recalled that they were the same inside.  I joked with them and asked them, what if these two children were eggs and I cracked them open.  What would they see inside?  They answered,

  • blood
  • bones
  • a heart
  • a stomach

until someone shouted out, “They’re just like the eggs!  Same on the inside!”

This lesson, (which I teach every year and always get the same reaction), proves to me that kids really are “color blind”.  They don’t see each other as a different color.  They don’t us the words, “black and white” to describe one another.  Their color words are so much more descriptive.  Our class has tan, brown, peach and apricot colored students in it.  Adults can learn so much from children.  They are so accepting of one another.  It is my hope that these children can help to bridge the barriers that so many adults have yet to cross.

photo-45 photo-44

Free Parking

hockey fight

If you are familiar with hockey, you might find it ironic that my kindness blog is about tonight’s game.  There is not a lot of love being spread around at most hockey games, especially one played between The New Jersey Devils and The Philadelphia Flyers.  Tonight’s game was no different.  Nearly SEVENTY minutes of penalties were given out during the sixty minute game.  Fights on the ice were breaking out every few minutes.  Rumor has it, some “unruly fans” had been escorted out of the arena as well.  Tonight’s game was a rough one, with very little kindness being witnessed!

The random act of kindness we witnessed actually occurred before the game.  My father has had season tickets to the Devils for over 20 years.  He always has had purchased parking passes in advance to go along with the tickets.  I say that I try not to let things bother me but the cost of parking at games, (or any similar event) has always infuriated me.  Tonight was no different.  Due to a ticket mix up, my dad was not sent one of his parking passes so tonight he needed to pay on the spot.  He decided that since it was so cold, he would attempt to park right at the arena in a parking garage, (usually the lot we park in is about two blocks away).  I did not think it was going to be possible – that lot is always sold out, (at $35 a car!!!!).  Sure enough we pulled up to the lot and were turned away.  We were about to head over to another lot, when a nice young man, (that makes me sound so old), came up to the car, and handed my father his parking permit for the parking garage.  My dad offered to pay for it and the man would not take any money for it.  He told us it was just going to go to waste so it was ours to use.  We all looked at each other knowing that now it is our turn to pay it forward.

So thank you to that anonymous young man who saved us from having to walk a few blocks in 17 degree weather.  We appreciate it!