You’ve Got A Message


I got a call from The Elf on the Shelf yesterday. The conversation went something like this:

Elf:  Hi. Listen, I’m kind of in a hurry, so I’m hoping you can help me get something out to remind people of what’s important.

Me:  Ok, what’s on your mind?

Elf:  Well, let’s just say that lately everywhere I look there seems to be a lot more naughty than nice. People are rude; smiles are few and far between, and taking the time to help one another seems to be out of style! I’m just exhausted!

Me:  What happened?

Elf:  Well, I was up high on a shelf at the grocery store and constantly I saw people racing to get in front of others in the checkout line. Then I hung out at the new office building downtown (where there’s a shelf at the welcome desk with a  great view), and I watched the people hurrying and purposely closing the elevator doors before anyone else could get in! And at night I was peeking around the merlot wines at your favorite restaurant, and I was really surprised to hear constant laughter as people made fun of other people as they walked by. I mean, seriously? What’s happened to NICE?

Just do this for me. And by the way … rather than your offering ‘9 steps’ or ‘4 tips’ or even ‘2 sure-fire ways’ to reduce stress this holiday season. Tell people to follow this advice and watch the changes.

I couldn’t help smiling.  This guy made a lot of sense. And so I promised Elf that I would send out a memo. So, here goes:


To:  Everyone

From: Everyone Else

Date: Today and Every day

Subject:  BE NICE

         It has come to my attention that there has been a slacking off on BEING NICE.  Somehow common courtesy has been pushed aside to make room for iPhones, multitasking, and always being in a hurry.  This has caused a lot of hurt feelings and negative attitudes.

         As a result, I am encouraging all people to slow down and take some time to be considerate and kind to each other.  YOU be the one who smiles more often and treats people the way that you want to be treated.

         Studies have shown that when people include random acts of kindness in their day, it gives  the brain a serotonin boost and results in a feeling of well being and satisfaction.     The doer feels great, and the recipient is overcome with a ‘pay-it-forward’ attitude.  The entire atmosphere changes.

         Put this suggestion into effect immediately and make it a prominent part of your daily routine. It  will result in stronger friendships, more enjoyable activities and workplaces and may even increase your gifts at Holiday Time. 

        This is just a hint from someone in the know.

Thanks for your cooperation.

                 The Elf on the Shelf           

Have a great Holiday Season regardless of how you celebrate.  Just be sure that whatever you are doing and whomever you are with, remember to BE NICE.

Do it for yourself – and for the Elf.


P.S. If you want to share some ‘nice’ that either you’ve done or seen, send me a note.  I’ll make sure it gets to the Elf.

Kindness – Practice it Every Day



Random Act of Kindness

Enough with all the political insults!  “He did this; she said that; Liar! Cheater! Thief! Pig!” You get the idea.

How about being kind to one another?  The interesting thing about being kind to people is that it not only affects you and that person, it affects anyone who witnesses it, too.  

And boy I had a morning of both experiencing and witnessing.


It all began with a birthday party.  My granddaughter was turning nine, and she wanted to have a “Paris Fashion Show” Party.  She and her mom had bought some of the decorations. Here’s the discussion between us:

E = Wow!  Wait until you see this! We bought this way-cool pink paper runway!

Me = Great!  Let’s put it down. (I started spreading it out in the family room.)

 E = Ugh! No! It doesn’t look right on top of the patterned rug!

Me = Well, we can’t pick up the rug.

E = Oh! Grammie, fix it – pleaseIt will make my birthday sooo much better.

All you grandparents out there know that a plea from a grandchild (especially with the cutest dimples ever!) is all we have to hear.

And so began my trip to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores in Houston, Texas.

Disclaimer: Though my maiden name is ‘Singer,’ like the sewing machine, I can’t really sew. No one in my family could do more than crookedly sew on a button. In fact, my mother was once asked by a sewing teacher “Can you do us both a favor?  Keep your money, and please don’t sign up for the next course!”

As I said, a plea from a grandchild can change a person.  I decided that large pieces of black fabric on each side of the runway would do the trick to cover up the patterned rug. Hence, a visit to Jo-Ann’s.

And there – in a period of 30 minutes – two (2) RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS occurred.


As I entered – wondering if I could be arrested for impersonating a real sewer – I spotted a saleslady walking fast in my direction.  I asked,  “Please help me with black fabric at least nine feet wide to border the pink runway for my granddaughter’s 9th birthday party.”

She stopped, asked me a couple of questions about whether I was going to baste the binding or stitch the selvage, and I paused and said, “Just some black fabric; no assembly required.”

She smiled and knew just where to take me. Then I asked the price. She said, “$9.99/yd.”

“Uh,” I groaned, doing the math, “But I need nine yards. Is there anything cheaper?”

This kind and patient lady looked at me and thought for a moment.  “Do you have a cell phone?” she asked.  I said I did, and she looked toward the door and quickly said, “Download the coupon for a discount. I’ve gotta go.”  Then she hurried off saying, “I was on my way to the bathroom when you came in.”

I found the coupon – IT WAS FOR 60% OFF!  Her random act of kindness saved me over $50!!! (That’s #1)

Random Act of Kindness

So with my head held high I took my big bolt of fabric (and my coupon) to the cutting table to have it measured and wrapped.

There was a line.  Two nuns in light brown habit were were being helped with several lengths of beautiful fabric.  In front of me was a lady buying supplies for her business – making dog coats for winter that she sells over the internet.  (Once again I glanced around for the sewing police!)

Suddenly, an elderly lady gently pushed her way through the people and went up to the nuns.

“I’d like to buy your fabric today,” she said.  The nuns smiled and looked a little uncomfortable.

A woman who was with the nuns said, “Thank you, ma’am but they are fine and can pay for this purchase.”

“No, I mean it,” the lady said.  “I really want to pay for their fabric.”

The woman hesitated. “Well, ok, maybe you can pay for one of the choices. Thank you, very much.”

The elderly lady was quick to respond. “No, you don’t understand. The Carmelite nuns taught me as a girl, and it has led me to a very loving and fulfilling life.  I want to thank them by buying everything they want to purchase.”

Suddenly there were hugs all around.  Everyone was beaming as the nuns gratefully accepted her generosity.  This random act of kindness (That’s #2) made me promise myself to clean out my garage, share my 60% off coupon, and go home and tell my granddaughter, “Of course, I would be happy to moderate your entire Fashion Show Party!”


Your road to happiness includes doing at least one Random Act of Kindness every day. So make a point of being kind –  compliment the girl behind the lunch counter, or simply take a moment to say hello to your neighbor.  You be the one to set the example.

We really need it in this hostile election season.


P.S. Tell me about your Random Acts of Kindness and how they made you feel. Send me a note.

Photo credit: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / arquiplay77; Celebelle

Grandparenting – 5 Great Tips

grandparent facetime

not me  😉

Last time I called my grandkids on FaceTime my husband watched me study the screen trying to rearrange my wrinkles and tilt my head so my neck looked smoother.  “You know,” he laughed, “I think FaceTime was invented by plastic surgeons!”

Ok, ok, I know that FaceTime was created to provide that live contact that we all crave. It’s just that until they connect, I get distracted…

A Special Bond

But once they answer, I’m reminded that they don’t see wrinkles; they just see their loving Grammy, and I get to see a window into their lives in that moment:

My two year old granddaughter points to all the seven dwarfs and knows their names.

My five-year-old grandson grabs the phone and immediately turns it off.

My nine-year-old granddaughter talks to me upside down in a cartwheel.

My eleven-year-old grandson holds the phone up to his nose and asks if I can see any boogers.

My thirteen-year-old granddaughter says, “Hi, Grammy. I”ve gotta go to soccer.”

And I love every word they say and every action they offer, even the booger hunting.

Whether you are Grammy, Nana, PopPop, Bubbie, MeMaw, or BobaLou, you are an important part of your grandchild’s life.  And whether it is a picnic, a party, a simple Tuesday night dinner, or a long-distance FaceTime call, the excitement is there, the love is there and certainly the pride and joy are there. What is not always there is a clear set of family expectations. Each family is different and so are the expectations.


Tips for New Grandparents

Grandparenting is definitely not the same as parenting. To help you navigate this new terrain, I’ve created a small ‘Hand Book” that I call 10 Great Tips for Grandparenting. It includes – yes – 10 great tips that I hope you will combine with your own common sense to figure out how to thrive in this new environment called grandparenting.

Here’s a sample of  the first 5 tips:


Sometimes you may forget and start to discipline or offer your opinion of how things should be handled.  Read #1 again.


You can take the child on some grand adventure or simply spend the afternoon at home researching volcanoes, playing a game, or making cookies. Be sure it’s just the two of you.


Yes. And if you say you are not a hugger, become one.



If you don’t remember the chaos that often runs through the home when kids are around, let me remind you. Some of the best-made plans have to be altered. Don’t take it personally if you want to be popular. And of course you do.


So you live in the same city as your grand kids? Lucky you! Sometimes you want to help out and sometimes you just don’t. Be frank and open about your availability with your children.  Ditto for you out-of-town grandparents. If any of you stay quiet and just fume, I don’t feel sorry for you!

Those are just the first five in my 10 Great Tips for Grandparenting Handbook.  If you would like to talk more or need some help navigating the grand parenting pathways, give me a call and let’s talk.

And by the way, when you call, I might just share my ‘famous’ cookie recipe!


P.S. You can download the other five tips free on my website or order a hard copy as a gift for your favorite MeMaw and BabaLou.

Photo credits: Abigail Kennan© Can Stock Photo Inc. / dolgachov