10.5 Simple ways to brighten someone’s day

Hands Framing SunWe did something nice for someone who hasn’t asked for anything, and it felt good

We recently helped a friend do major house, yard, and garage cleanup for his elderly parents. They were completely surprised by the visit from their two boys who live across the country, and also from the visit from us, who they haven’t seen in a very long time. We all showed up ready to work, and got tons accomplished. It made them very happy, and in return, made us very happy, too.

Here are some simple ways to hopefully help you brighten someone’s day:

  • Bring someone flowers
    It doesn’t have to be roses to say, “I love you”, or anything like that. It could just be a pretty potted number, or even a silk arrangement to last. Bring them to your mother just to stop by and say hi, or bring them to a friend’s mom, your grandma, a hospital, a random nursing home .. be creative!
  • Send out a card to someone for no special reason, on no special occasion
    Snail mail – what’s ever in it except for junk or bills? It may just brighten someone’s day to find a card with a nice note inside, rather than the ordinary for a change.
  • Give someone a compliment
    Best if it is something not ordinary, but extraordinary, something really genuine. Do you know of someone that hasn’t received the proper credit and recognition that they deserved for a recent accomplishment? Have you noticed something really special about someone that no one else has? Notice something new?
  • Repay a favor out of the blue
    Has anyone done anything nice for you recently? In the past that you may have forgotten? I’m sure someone has, or has at least tried. Return the gesture.
  • Bring someone something homemade or fresh
    It doesn’t even have to be someone you know – it could just be that nice elderly couple down the street. Or, it could be that couple that you know that is always eating out because they’re too busy, or don’t like/know how to cook.
  • Volunteer your time to a cause
    There are always plenty of opportunities here, and I’m sure you know where to look. Who knows, you may even meet some cool new people.
  • Neighborly yard work
    Who doesn’t need help weeding their lawn or garden? Some folks hate mowing. Gutters? Did I mention gutters?
  • Carry someone’s groceries out to their car and/or help load them
    Tried and true, but always appreciated. Try elderly, handicapped (permanent or temporary), pregnant, etc.
  • Help someone with some housecleaning
    Do you know someone that has been ill, has limited mobility, or even has just been plain old “down in the dumps” – too much so that they are letting their home go downhill? It’s no fun doing this stuff alone, especially when it seems like you’re too far behind to catch up. You may be able to lift them up from this drudgery and boost their motivation. A lot of times the hardest part is getting started. There’s plenty to do (you know the drill) – dusting, vacuuming, laundry, dishes, etc.
  • Teach someone something
    Do you have a skill that you can share with anyone? Do you know of someone looking to learn something that you know how to do? This can be what you want to make of it – one time, short term, long term, on occasion – you may even find that you like teaching others. Being a mentor to somebody can be a very rewarding experience, and often you will find yourself learning just as much as the student.

What’s this about the “.5” ?

Smile and be happy, but we know this, and that’s always a given.

Got more?

 

How to change a day from hell into a day of paradise!

Bad DayWe have all had our fair share of days when everything goes wrong.

Those days you wish that you could climb in a hole and come out when it’s over. The very kind of day that you question, “Why does this have to happen to me of all days?” Everything just seems to be unraveling and falling apart at the seams all while you are feeling there is nothing you can do to stop it.

It all starts as soon as you wake up an hour late because someone had to have been playing an evil trick on you and shut off the alarm. In your infinite glory of trying to get back on time – you spill coffee all down the front of you. Quickly, you change your clothes only to discover that  your car keys are not where you left them.  Now you’re getting frantic, searching everywhere until you find them in plain sight, as though somehow, they just miraculously appeared out of thin air. Finally, you’re pulling out of your driveway thinking to yourself, “Things can’t get any worse!” Guess what – you become aware that all the lights keep turning red as you come up to them. “Cheese and Rice!“, “Shut the front door!“, “God bless America!” (G-rated of course) shouts are spilling our of your mouth. Suddenly, your mouth has projectile vomit spewing everywhere, but hey, who cares – it makes you feel good, and to top it off, you don’t have to smell it or clean it up. I’m sure you are so late now. Nothing is ever going to get you back on track. All you think to yourself is, “Why does life have to be so unfair”! Of course the rest of the day goes to hell on a one-way ticket, but you already knew that – you have experienced it first hand.

Negative thinking causes negative energy. Negative energy causes chaos. Chaos causes everything to be out of order. Everything out of order causes the cycle to start over again. Breaking the cycle is key. Well duh, but how is that suppose to happen? Apparently, she hasn’t had the same kind of days as I have. You’re right! Everyone has different feelings, triggers, and perceptions of their surroundings. I’m sure what I think is a bad day could be a walk in the park for someone else and vice-versa. If you think the worst, the worst will hunt you down and find you.

Now that you know how negativity causes a vicious cycle, just imagine how a positive attitude can move mountains with the slight touch of a finger and a simple smile. Don’t let that alarm clock get the best of you. Instead, look at it from the glass half-full perspective. Perhaps you needed the extra sleep, or that maybe someone might be wearing an outfit that would’ve been a twin of the one you spilled coffee on, or maybe all the lights were red to keep you from dealing with the extra traffic on the freeway, etc..

A few tips on how to change a day from hell into a day of paradise!

  • Listen to your favorite music – sing loud and be proud
  • Imagine yourself having a perfect day:
    Oh, I can feel the soft warm sand between my toes with the water rising up to my ankles,
    a tasty margarita in one hand, while the other is ever so relaxed.
    Can you see it also?
  • Think about your happiest memories – think about all of them don’t stop
  • Think / relive an experience that was very pleasurable and/or enjoyable
  • List off things that you are most grateful for – don’t be afraid to say them out loud over and over again
  • Take a couple deep cleansing breaths
  • Wave “hi” at someone cutting you off, or giving you the bird – You might as well squash them with kindness
  • Repeat each step with a smile

Before long, your day will be paradise. Yes, I can hear you all saying this person has no idea at all, and this list is crazy. My answer is yes, this list is crazy – it is crazy simple. I’ve tried these over and over again. It always works. Of course, sometimes it takes a little it before it starts working, but hey – better late than never.

What other ideas hove worked for you in this kind of situation?  Please tell all!  🙂

Kids and cell phones

Little Girl with Cell PhoneA little history

When we first got our teenage son a cell phone he was thirteen. We had thought that we might be in for some trouble. Will he text too much? Will he download a bunch of games? Will he use up a ton of our shared minutes? Now at the time, there were far less controls for these things at the carrier-level, and apps weren’t the new-fangled smart phone app-store types of apps. Surprisingly, though, he did none of this – even to this day, he barely makes any phone calls, and most of the texting he does is with me. Most of the usage was as an alarm clock, camera/video camera, and music player. So, for him a cell phone was an absolute non-issue.

Up to this point, our next oldest son, had been dropping hints non-stop for no less than two-years – wanting a cell phone, different phones that were cool, all the cool things he could/would do with a cell phone, what kind of phone this friend or that friend has (you wouldn’t believe the number of twelve-year old kids running around with cell phones) – you name it.

Fast-forward to this last Easter

We finally broke down and decided that it may just be a good thing for the kid to get a phone, after all he was doing really well in school and keeping up with his homework. Now, it’s hard not to get into anything other than a smart phone these days, but you can’t have the younger kid with a better phone than the older one…or can you? Well, after all was said and done, it was going to cost next to nothing to upgrade the other phone, so why not? Two smart phones, two Easter gifts, real simple. It was basically a hit, and everyone was happy. Android phones, an app store, a bunch of free app potential, free unlimited texting.

Fast-forward again to the next cell phone bill

Just as we had suspected, the younger one was using the crap out of his phone. Texting left and right, making calls, downloading free games, the whole deal. Okay, so why is this cell phone bill so big? I had expected a larger than normal bill just due to the fact that we would have hookup charges for the extra line, and rebates on the hardware take forever to come back. Despite that, then why were the charges on his line so big? What’s this extra $20…and what the hell is “premium messaging“? So, I’m on the phone to Verizon trying to figure out what this is, and what can I do about it.

It turns out that there are some incredibly spammy things that go along with crappy little free applications in the open Android Marketplace, and it sure looks to me like they are honing in on the kids. For instance – quizzes, ringtones, and other “premium” (shiny) things like to rear their ugly heads, and engage in some real shady/sleezy opt-in practices, not making it real clear to a youngster that this is a service that will be charged to your [parents’] bill, and if you don’t notice, it will continue to charge every month! Since this is a third-party, there isn’t anything that the carrier can do for you, money-wise, but they can help you opt-out and block further charges. However, since the billing cycle doesn’t jive with the third-party charge cycle, watch out – you just might get hit with more charges, even if you opt-out and start blocking immediately.

Lessons learned

  • Actually read your bill and don’t just let an auto-payment let it slip through
  • Block out “premium” stuff – the carrier can assist you, or you can usually always do it yourself online
  • You can block a bunch of other things you may not have known about that might do potential damage
  • Buy the insurance – full-price replacement hardware is expensive!
  • Teach the kid what airplane mode is, and why you won’t be able to get a hold of them if it’s on
  • Teach the kid that battery life is a precious resource, and how it goes fast when you do cool things
  • Find out your school’s policies regarding phones and electronic devices – they like to take them away

Benefits

There are a few benefits, and after all, cell phones are here to stay. You can definitely feel a little bit safer knowing that you should be able to get a hold of your child with a little training. Also, they will have the ability to call for help, if necessary. You can also sign-up for things like GPS tracking for that added bit of security – for our carrier (Verizon) at this time, this feature is an extra charge, but it’s not outrageous. It’s also worth mentioning that the opportunity for lessons in responsibility can be taken advantage of here. As an added bonus, you are probably inheriting a powerful tool that can be used as an incentive and/or taken away for misbehavior.

P.S.

Please, don’t get me wrong, I am not bashing Android or Verizon (or any other carrier) here. In fact, I don’t blame them, nor do I blame my son. Just a little heads-up on things that you may or may not be aware of!

What am I missing?

 

Going to the grocery store shouldn’t break the bank

Grocery StoreConsidering how food is an essential staple for survival, why does it always feel like you’re breaking the bank purchasing groceries? Far more often than not, we find ourselves in a hurry, hungry, and just plain distracted when we are in the grocery store. Every time I deviate from my routine, I spend twice – if not more – than I normally would in a months’ time. Trust me when I say that I have had the jaw drop open when the cashier tells me my total more than once.

Over the years, I have experienced many life lessons on what not to do, and what to do, when it comes to buying groceries. Little by little, I have learned from my mistakes and improved on the techniques I have acquired.

I can say without a doubt, I am not one of those moms that can take coupon usage to the extreme. Those moms are literally amazing and I applaud them. Three of my children thought it was so cool when they saw a couple of episodes of “Extreme Couponing”, that they asked if we could give it a try. I am more than happy to give that a try, which means my routine will include more couponing than it already does. Luckily, the kids volunteered to cut out coupons for me. 🙂 Since they are motivated – then so am I.

Since I am also a stay at home mom, we only have one income source, so living within our means is vital to our livelihood.

We only go shopping twice a month. My two set shopping trips consist of multiple stores. I spend, at most, an hour of time preparing the night before.

What I can tell you is that we spend on average $400.00 – $450.00 dollars a month on food. For six people, that equals $13.33 – $15.00 per day, or $2.22 – $2.50 per person / per day.

Just in case you were wondering, we do eat good on that amount of money.

Here is my list, as follows, and in no particular order. I use them all together as a complete package. They all are self explanatory, but in case you need for me to elaborate more in-depth, please feel free to ask.

10 Super Easy Tips for Saving Money on Groceries

 

  1. Make a dinner menu

    Pre-plan your meals ahead of time, so you know what to buy (don’t go in there blind).

  2. Make a shopping list

    Simple, but most people don’t actually do this. Don’t forget to organize the items into groupings.

  3. Use coupons

    Cut ’em, tear ’em, rip ’em, chew ’em – just don’t forget to give them to the cashier.

  4. Buy in bulk

    Anything and everything you normally use.

  5. Buying when on sale

    You don’t do this? Check the ads

  6. Buy generic

    Get over the name-brand issue – it’s cheaper this way.

  7. Go shopping on a full stomach

    …or you’ll experience the “see food” diet.

  8. Limit the amount of times you go grocery shopping

    Grocery shopping is a pain in the ass, as-is – why make it worse?

  9. Pay close attention to the cost per ounce

    Most price tags list this, if your store’s doesn’t, make sure to bring along a calculator unless you’re an Einstein.

  10. Stay focused; don’t give into temptation

As with starting any new routine, it takes perseverance and practice. If you are motivated to give these a try, please let me know how they have worked out for you.

If you happen to fall into the jaw dropping, “are you kidding me?” total that makes your skin crawl, don’t give up because there will always be another chance waiting for you to succeed. Motivation is the key.

I am curious to know what other moms do for their grocery shopping routine. Please let us know. I’m sure everyone would love to hear all about it.