It’s a Leapin’ Good Day

Happy Leap Day! February 29th only shows up on our calendars every four years, just like the Summer Olympics and the presidential election, so it’s definitely a special day – and worth mentioning.

Why do we even have leap years?

I actually had to look this up, and here’s what I found. A complete orbit of the earth around the sun takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete, but the Gregorian calendar uses 365 days. So leap seconds – and leap years – are added as means of keeping our clocks (and calendars) in sync with the Earth and its seasons. So there you go.

You could look at it as an inspiring day to get ourselves aligned…

You could also see it as an extra day in the year to do something awesome or different…

And if leap day itself wasn’t enough, this particular month is extra special for these reasons. February 2016 will have:

  • 4 Sundays
  • 4 Mondays
  • 4 Tuesdays
  • 4 Wednesdays
  • 4 Thursdays
  • 4 Fridays
  • 4 Saturdays

This happens once every 823 years. It obviously won’t happen again in our lifetime, which adds another level of uniqueness to the day. (A special thanks to my dad for sharing those stats with me!)

So…what’s everyone doing to honor the day?

I was curious and hopped over to Google to see what a search would pull up. Before I even typed a word, these precious bunnies hopped onto the screen…

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<3 I love Google’s doodles.

Then a quick search pulled up mostly images of leaping frogs, which is why I was so pleased with Google’s choice of bunnies – different and much cuter, IMO. There was also plenty of explanation about the reason for the day, which made me feel better about not knowing in the first place.

Next I headed over to my inbox. It was leaping with messages, and here are three that caught my attention:

From: Ebates

Today Ebates is offering double cash back on tons of retailers. If you haven’t joined Ebates, yet, this would be the time to leap to it. It’s a super easy way to get paid for shopping online at pretty much all of your favorite stores. For example, I bought some clothes for the girls at oldnavy.com and got 29% off in addition to 4% back in cash through Ebates! #winning

From: Blitsy

Blitsy, an adorable crafting site, let me know they’re offering 29¢ items throughout their site on this 29th day of February. And it’s cute stuff, too. Look at these cardboard die-cuts. I love the colors, and they’d be a fun addition to our spring break scrapbook. P.S. We head to the beach in three weeks!!

From: American Red Cross

American Red Cross sent a note suggesting we make a leap toward helping others. I thought this was an interesting request, and it made me stop and think about how I choose to spend the day. If we look at the day as a gift, are there ways to share and help make it a special day for others?

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How will you choose to spend this “extra” day?

Since it’s a Monday I’ll be at work, but I plan to squeeze in a few activities that are fun, adventurous and meaningful. I’d love to hear what you’ll be up to!

XOXO

-Kate

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Friday Wrap: Finding Kindness

If you’ve been following the blog the past few days, you know I’ve been celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Week in various ways. I hope you have, too!

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It’s been uplifting to see so many others joining this national effort. There have been tons of positive posts online, people literally paying it forward at coffee shops and fast food lines, and countless small gestures that have left life-size impressions on peoples’ hearts. It’s awesome.

As I went through the week, I tried to keep my eyes open to kindness and catch people doing some good around here. 🙂 Here are five of my favorites…

{ONE} Valentine Wishes for the Elderly

Clara’s class decided to make Valentine’s Day cards for the nursing home down the street from their school. A few of the kids were able to gather (outside of school time) to deliver their handmade cards, little bags of candy and a basket of fresh flowers to all of the residents. It was an amazing experience for these kids – and me!

I loved watching Clara patiently introduce herself with a smile and wish everyone a happy day. One woman gave Clara the biggest hug and said how much she loved the visit. Not everyone was able to communicate as well, which was hard to witness. But that was part of the loving lesson – remembering we’re all connected. Recognizing we’re on the same journey and deserving of each other’s kindness.

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Clara Jane is in the blue coat 🙂

{TWO} Bunny Bundles

My brother, Michael, has a cool little hobby farm up in Missouri. It’s right on Indian Creek, so they’ve named the place Indian Hollow. The land is rich with Native American history. In fact, my brother found an arrowhead one day. He and his wife built an adorable cabin up there and have filled the surrounding acres with native plants, trees and soon-to-arrive bees. One of his “crops” is a grove of Arkansas Black apple trees – which brings me to the “kindness” message.

You know I have a bunny, right? Well, bunnies LOVE chewing on sticks – especially sweet apple twigs. My brother remembered me mentioning this one day. So on his recent trip up to the farm, he trimmed some of the loose branches and brought me this amazing pile for our bunny, Rosie. Not only does this make our bun-bun super happy, but also gives purpose to those branches which would have normally been discarded. #sweetbrother #givingtree

apple twigs

This is the equivalent of about 500 Snickers bars for my bunny. Apple sticks are such a treat!!

{THREE} Time Out for Snuggles

I don’t know who needed this little act of kindness more, Leo the puppy or Avery the exhausted 4th grader. They both had a busy and somewhat rough day, and I found the two of them snuggled together on my bed. It was such a sweet moment and reminded me that kindness comes in many forms.
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{FOUR} Sidewalk Love

This act of kindness took place prior to this week, but I was reminded of it when I went running this morning. One of my neighbors took the time to walk through the entire neighborhood and paint yellow lines on all of the uneven sidewalks to prevent people from tripping. He must have spent days doing this. And I never saw him in action. He must have worked quietly in the morning light. When I posted a thank you on our neighborhood Facebook page, a woman mentioned it was her husband. He just wanted people to be safe. How sweet is that?

Avery had actually skinned her knee pretty badly on one of our sidewalks this past summer. So we always slowed down at that spot to remind each other to step up. Now when we get there, we say a little “thank you” to our kind neighbor.IMG_0054

{FIVE} Uplifted by Friends – Literally

Evan had an unfortunate incident at our local trampoline park this week, and he ended up with a nasty sprain. The doctor prescribed crutches for a few days, which meant he had to miss his basketball game and postpone the beginning of track season. Those were all things he could deal with. Walking to classes all day with nearly 25lbs of books while on crutches was another thing.

He has such an amazing group of friends, though. After Evan’s first day on crutches, he got in the car and told me how his friends had helped him. Cole was extra nice and carried his books all day. And at one point (when the bell rang and he wasn’t sure if he could make it all the way across the building to science class in time) four of his friends grabbed his crutches, lifted him up, and carried him all the way to class. I can just picture those kids running down the hall holding Evan like he was some sort of sports hero – laughing the entire time. The story touched my heart so much, though. The look on his face as he shared the details of the day was priceless. He experienced the joy of good, caring friends – and what pure kindness really feels like. What a gift.

basketball picture

The friends that helped Evan are also on his basketball team. They took this picture the night he had to miss the game. They also joked about his shirt. It should have read “crutch” is my middle name 😉

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends. Here’s hoping we can keep this kindness train on track so we can feel and experience it every day.

Hugs,

-Kate

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Random Acts of Kindness: Fast Facts

Not that you need a reason or much encouragement to be kind, because I know you’re incredibly sweet. But I do have a few interesting facts about kindness that will help sweeten your efforts just a smidge. Ready?

Here are five “side effects” of kindness…

Did you also know?

  • Five acts of kindness in a week will increase your happiness for up to three months. {source} 
  • The effects of kindness can be so great you don’t have to be directly linked to a giving chain to get in on the act. By simply witnessing generosity you may be inspired to do something generous of your own, according to new research study. {source}
  • Kindness can be taught. A researcher from the University of Wisconsin says, “It’s kind of like weight training. We found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.” {source}
  • Helping others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease! {source}
  • People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying. That’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week. {source}

And finally…

If you haven’t seen Ellen’s acceptance speech for the People’s Choice Humanitarian Award you should check it out here. It’s not only funny, but also endearing and a great reminder of the importance of sharing our kindness.

I’d love to hear how your week is going! What acts of kindness have you shared? Have you spotted others being kind? Check back tomorrow, and I’ll post a few of my favorite pics of the week so far.

-Kate

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Random Acts of Kindness: Inspiring Quotes

Today I’m going to issue a challenge! Let’s see how many people we can reach with a message about kindness.

Jump on your Facebook page, Instagram account or Twitter feed and tell a meaningful story or share an inspiring quote about kindness. And if you really want to step up your game, send a “just because” love note to someone close to you! <3

I gathered a handful of quotes to make this challenge even easier. So share away, and encourage others to join you in Random Acts of Kindness Week #RAKWEEK

 

 

Have a beautiful day spreading kindness, joy and love!

-Kate

 

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Random Acts of Kindness: Include Your Children

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{This is a picture of our kindness elves. We invited them to join us for this special week!}

There’s a quote by the Dalai Lama that proclaims,“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” I was blown away by the power of that statement.

I also wondered what kind of impact could be made if each child did one act of kindness each day. I imagine it would have astounding effects. So why not use this special week to teach our kids how to make kindness a daily habit?

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Here are a few fun ideas…

My girls recently received a list of “kindness” ideas from school, which is also celebrating Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) week. Out of the list, these rose to the top as my favorites:

  1. Bury treasure on the playground
  2. Compliment someone who is usually mean to you
  3. Leave bubbles on someone’s doorstep
  4. Write a friendly note on the sidewalk to make someone smile
  5. Leave a quarter in the gum ball machine at the store
  6. Tell the principal how great your teacher is
  7. Clean your room without being asked to do it
  8. Gather your bread crust or crumbs from lunch to feed the birds
  9. Invite someone new to play with you at recess
  10. Write a thank you note to the janitors at your school

I love how these ideas encourage creative thinking about the many ways you can brighten someone else’s day. They’re also easy things kids can do – without an adult’s help.

Of course it’s also important for us to include the kids in our own acts of kindness. When they watch us hold the door open for a mother pushing a stroller or smile at the waiter who’s visibly having a bad day, it affects how they behave and treat others.

Kindness is contagious!

One of the goals of this whole experience is to help kids think outside of themselves and beyond their own needs. Once we get them doing this on a regular basis, the habit of kindness is formed.

And perhaps more importantly, kids start observing the world in more productive ways. They might discover a friend in need or recognize a social injustice that could use their attention. Raising kids who focus on what problems they want to solve vs. the job title they want to have one day will surely have more meaningful lives. And who wouldn’t want that?

Here’s to helping the next generation live in a more loving and accepting world – through one act of kindness after another.

-Kate

PS. See you tomorrow with a special kindness challenge!!

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Random Acts of Kindness: Start with Yourself

As we kickoff Random Acts of Kindness week, I want to start with one of the most special people on earth…you.

You can’t authentically share love or compassion with others if the inventory is low in the stock room of your heart. So…

Make time to be kind to yourself today.

Here are three ideas to get you started.

{ONE} Look in the mirror.

For real. Go stand in the bathroom and take a good look at yourself. Reintroduce yourself, if needed. And instead of looking directly at your wrinkles or whatever flaws you think you have, try to look at your whole face. Take notice of the person you are, and say something incredibly kind. Start with, “What I love most about you is…” And make it the kind of compliment that would make you cry if your best friend or husband said it to you. You deserve to truly love and accept yourself.

{TWO} Listen to your needs.

Ask yourself, as if you were talking to a good friend or your child, what do you need right now? Is it to slow down and take a deep breath within this quiet moment? Could you use a fresh manicure or a personal day off work? Would a hot bath make you feel better? What about a long run? Or jamming to your favorite song, being silly or playing outside with your dog? Whatever your heart is saying to you, listen. Then go do it. And make it an act of kindness to yourself.

{THREE} Put your heart on paper.

I recently spotted this amazing book series in Barnes & Noble. It’s essentially a dozen writing prompts that are held inside of envelopes. In this edition, you’re encouraged to write letters to your future self and stash them away for a later date. It’s a lovely way to get connected to what really matters in your life.

Enjoy the day being kind to yourself. As promised, I will share a special post each day that includes ideas and inspiration for spreading kindness with those around you. So be sure to stop by again tomorrow to see what great things we can do together!!

-Kate

PS. If you want to join the bigger RAK movement, go sign the kindness pledge!

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Fourth Grade Park Perks

Well, Labor Day sure came and went in a flash. I hope you enjoyed the long weekend. We headed up to Kansas City to visit friends, which was a usual blast consisting of late nights and loads of laughter.

As I was catching up on Facebook and Instagram last night it looked like many friends hit the lake, campgrounds and nearby parks. This leads us to today’s post, which is a quick Tuesday tip for everyone with fourth graders in their lives.

Did you know 4th grade students and their families receive free admission to all national parks?

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It’s true. The program is officially called Every Kid in a Park. The goal of the initiative is to encourage students and their families to “experience the places that are home to our country’s natural treasures, rich history, and vibrant culture FREE OF CHARGE!”

Beginning September 1st, kids have access to a year-long park pass.

The pass is valid for the entire 2015-2016 school year. So you may want to organize a few weekend trips or plan your holiday breaks around some of our country’s best gems while the free pass lasts.

This is big news. I’m sure Leslie Knope from Parks & Rec be like…

Leslie Knope dance

Now if you’re like me, you’re not exactly sure where the closest national parks are located and what they have to offer. I did a little homework for us. Look no further than this complete download resource created by the National Park Foundation.

You can find lists and guides to more than 400 national parks. Among them is a complete Owner’s Guide, that not only shares the best secrets of each destination, but also reminds us that the national parks belong to us.

Another list that’s especially helpful is Places Nobody Knows. Everyone knows about Yosemite, but there are smaller hidden gems that might be closer and easier to access.

If you want a more interactive map of all of the parks, this one lets you search by location, theme, or category, such as “national battlefields.”

It’s an exciting time to be in 4th grade. If you and your kiddos are ready to lace up your boots, here’s the link to get your free pass. If you’re a 4th grade teacher (like my sister and niece), you can get class passes at this link.

Have fun blazing new trails, and here’s hoping you run into Amy Poehler along the way!

-Kate

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Remembering Leslie Sisti

Leslie Sisti

Leslie Sisti of A Blonde Ambition

It’s with a heavy heart and tearful eyes that I write this post about my friend and co-worker, Leslie Sisti, who passed away on Sunday from a heart condition. She was only 30-years old and left behind two babies, as well as a loving husband and countless friends. The immense amount of sorrow created by her loss is proportional to the measure of joy she brought to this world. She was such a gift to many.

I was honored to have worked with Leslie at Mitchell Communications for several years. We worked closely as writers, so I had a chance to witness and admire her creativity, humor and wit firsthand. We also grew to become friends, which is what I’m most thankful for today. We’d swap working-mom stories, laugh at SNL skits, and occasionally cry on each other’s shoulder.

What I loved most about Leslie was her joyful, optimistic spirit. She was life’s cheerleader…quick to listen, lend a helping hand, or offer words of encouragement – no matter what she was going through personally. When I would question my own writing, she’d be there to pick me up and tell me to keep writing. In fact, she’s the one who gave me the courage to start this blog. And she knows a thing or two about blogging.

In addition to writing at work, Leslie was a well-known fashion blogger with followers all over the world. As you can imagine, she always looked impeccable with the most stylish clothes, perfect shoes, and right amount of sparkle. She had a way of being fashionable without being fussy. That’s what was so magnetic about her and drew thousands to her blog each week. Leslie was a down-to-earth, Southern gal who made everyone feel welcome. She was the definition of style, grace and beauty.

As I sat through her memorial service this afternoon, which felt surreal, it was evident that Leslie was a shining light to so many people in our community. I’m sure all of us were thinking about how devastating and unfair this situation is for her sweet family. I can’t even think about those two babies without stopping the tears. The only thing any of us can do is pray and lean on our faith. Faith that Leslie is now in God’s loving hands and free from any pain or struggle. Faith that He will comfort and heal her family. Faith that we will know how to help and what to say. Faith that Leslie’s joyful spirit will carry on in the many lives she touched. And faith that we will one day reunite with our sweet, dear friend.

Until that day, let’s part with the words of Leslie herself. She always signed off with “Be Blessed Lovelies,” and that’s exactly what I wish for you today.

-Kate

I encourage all of you to read Leslie’s blog, as she had many inspiring and lovely things to share over the years.

Also, an account has been set up to help with her girls’ college and eventually wedding funds. Please visit and help support them if you can.

http://www.gofundme.com/d53bgd5p8s

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