thoughtful gestures

The Small Things

07.15.10

Hello again, Readers!

I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the Broken Windows theory lately.  I think it stems from feeling overwhelmed a lot of the time and wanting to get back to basics.  I first read about the theory in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point”.  The super condensed version of the theory is that that small changes lead to big changes. For example, in the 1990′s, crime in New York plummeted when officials had all the graffiti on subway trains painted over and when they arrested people for minor infractions such as not paying to ride the subway.  (Other factors came into play as well, of course.)

I love the idea that starting from the bottom and dealing with the underlying issues often does more good than trying to solve the big, noticeable problems first.  I see this theory at work in my own house when I put a dish in the sink.  If I don’t deal with that dish right away, either by washing it or putting it in the dishwasher, before I know it, that one dish has turned into a whole sink full of dishes, which somehow morphs into messy house.  As long as I keep my sink clean, everything else seems so much more manageable.

May favorite example:  There is an 83-year-old woman named Jackie who lives down the street from me. Jackie is the mother of nine (yes, NINE) children. She says she cheated because she had two sets of twins. Given the fact that she had two sets of twins 18 months apart, I would hardly call that cheating. (I have one 18-month old son and he’s the busiest body I’ve ever seen.  I can’t imagine having two of him plus two newborns to care for.)

To keep in good health, Jackie walks around the neighborhood each morning while carrying a reaching aid and picks up litter while she exercises. This has made such a noticeable difference in our neighborhood that she once told me that her neighbor came over to check on her to make sure she was ok when he noticed that there was a piece of trash on the road. She has made a significant contribution to our neighborhood by doing a simple thing such as picking up litter while going on her morning walks.  I especially love that she’s not really going out of her way to make a difference:  she’s just taking something that she’s already doing to the next level.

Is anyone else as inspired by this concept as I am?  If so, I have two challenges for you:

1.  What can you do to fix a broken window in your life/home/family/community? Maybe it’s finding a moment to meditate each day, going to bed with a clean sink each night, honestly prioritizing your to-do list (and sticking to it!), being completely present with those you associate with, volunteering at your local non-profit, or maybe even picking up a few pieces of litter on your stroll around the block.

2.  Is there someone in your life that has dealt with or is dealing with the broken windows in your neighborhood?  Will you seek these people out and write them a note of thanks so they know that the work they are doing is noticeable and appreciated?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories about this topic.

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Darling Clementine

Crystal stops by GiversLog a couple times a month to share her fresh ideas. When she’s not writing for GiversLog, Crystal can be found mothering, knitting, and cooking. Stop by and see some of her handy work at her etsy shop.

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I am so thrilled today to be hosting a favorite blogger of mine. Catching up with Hil’s blog is like a conversation with an old friend. You have a great time and come away remembering what life is all about. She’s kept me up late into the night, reading her blog though wet eyes. And besides her just being adorable, she also designs blog layouts that you will adore. So, without further ado, here is Hilary of Hil’s Blog.

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Hello!  I am Hilary from hilsblog.com.  I am a wife to my wonderful husband, Jer and mother to my Little Guy who is almost 3, angel baby Michael who we lost in November 2009, and another little man who will be making his debut November 2010.  My boys are where I find my joy each day.  I am a graphic designer by trade, focusing primarily on blog design.  I enjoy eating cookie dough whenever given the chance and have known to have 80′s butt rock hair on occasion.  My favorite activity consists of anything involving my family, i.e. bike rides on a summer evening, a trip to the zoo, a picnic in the park, etc.  I love good food, good company and good conversation.  I am also an aracnaphobe.

now that we’re acquainted…


1.  A book of entries from my husband’s journal during the time we met and were dating.  This was his very first Valentine’s gift to me.  Kind of a hard thing to start out with, seeing how it is hard to top.  I love reading the entries and seeing the adorable drawings my husband has on each page.  Having our story recorded from his perspective is a treasure.

2.  A jar of homemade apple pie filling. This was given to us by some friends who knew that all we needed was a big jar of comfort.  It was so great to have a homemade apple pie after just four steps.  Roll out dough, fill dough with apple pie filling, bake and eat!  It was wonderful.

3.  A bouquet of undershirts from my favorite place.  My husband knows me too well and knows how I feel about a bouquet of flowers on Valentine’s Day… they are gorgeous, but don’t last nearly long enough for the price!  So for yet another Valentine’s gift, he rolled the undershirts up to look like roses, attached them to hangers (to serve as stems) and placed them in a vase.  He is too creative for his own good.  It was adorable.

4.  A stack of warm, soft, homemade cookies from a dear friend.  She didn’t just bring them on some old paper plate left over from Christmas (something I would do), she stacked the cookies one on top of the other and wrapped them in a cute package topped with ribbon.  The little details warmed my heart.

5.  A week of warm meals. After we lost our baby, Michael, the girls in my neighborhood set up meals to be brought to my home for an entire week.  We ate better that week than we have our entire marriage.  We had anything from pot roast to homemade chicken fingers and the food not only filled our tummies but warmed our hearts.  It was so wonderful to not have to worry about what I was going to do for dinner that first week of mourning.

1.  A day to the zoo. This is probably the best gift I have given and can give to my Little Guy at this period in his life.  He absolutely loves the zoo and all the animals there.  I also feel like spending good, quality time with him is the best gift I can give him.

2.  A morning to the golf course.  My husband has picked up golfing the last couple of years.  He really enjoys it and would go everyday, were the budget to allow.  I think a morning to the golf course would be the perfect gift to this busy man.  He works full time and goes to school, so he often feels guilty spending any leisure time away from me and Little Guy.  If I were to wake up one morning and send him on his way, I know it would be perfect.

3.  A bowl of salsa from a favorite restaurant.  My family used to all live in the same town that I currently still live in.  While they still lived here, we had a favorite Mexican restaurant that we would go to often.  We mostly went for their amazing salsa.  Now that they all live too far away to have the tasty stuff, I try to bring a big tupperware bowl full of it whenever we get together.

4.  Anything wrapped in cellophane.  Not only do I love receiving a pretty package wrapped in the shiny wrapping, I love giving gifts wrapped up in a fun bundle of cellophane.  It spruces up any old gift.

5.  Tickets to Hawaii. Last year I saved up enough to buy us tickets to Hawaii.  It ended up being the best vacation my husband and I have ever taken.  It was so relaxing and just what the doctor ordered after a busy school year for the hubs.  The real gift was from my mom, who offered to watch Little Guy for us for the week.  Such a wonderful break!


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I have a reader question today from an expecting reader. So exciting. Btw, I love the reader questions I get from you. They are always proof of how thoughtful you all manage to be.

“Do you have any good suggestions for newborn gifts? When I have my new baby I’d like my kids to bring her a gift when they meet her and I’d like to have gifts for my kids when they come as well (a toddler and preschooler). I’ve been racking my brain for something special, but thought you might have more insight.” —Vanessa

Vanessa, I love that you are planning ahead for this incredible, magical moment. One of the gifts I’ve seen and loved is this simple handmade board book by Jordan Ferney at Oh Happy Day. It’s so sweet and something the kids could look forward to reading to her right from the start (Rachelle mentions making a modgepodge board book in this post). I also am in love with this 100 Wishes Blanket, and have been hung up with the idea of somehow making a custom version.

And for gifts from baby, I’m thinking a really cool bath toy. Because, for one, you are going to need something to keep the big kids busy when baby comes, and two, there will be nothing cuter than getting all three of them in the tub together someday for a group splash session and, of course, a group bath photo.

What about you readers? Any ideas to help Vanessa? Vanessa and I would love to hear.

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Pi'lo

If you are looking for an heirloom gift, pi’lo is not to be missed. Truly some awe-inspiring pieces, like a few of my favorites.

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Tote a Tiny Toy

06.03.10

Hello fellow Giver’s Log readers!  I have been a fan of dear Amber’s site since the beginning, and I am so thrilled that she has asked me join her.

For my first post, I wanted to share a really small, but meaningful, gift my son received last year. 

A few months after I had my second baby, I was running errands with my oldest child.  I think he was still in the my-world-was-just-majorly-rocked mode after the birth of our baby, and he was having an especially hard time at the store.  While we were waiting in line to check out, a woman came up to us and pulled a toy motorcycle out of her purse and asked my son if he likes motorcycles.  (He does.  A lot.)  She gave him the motorcycle and it immediately calmed him down and bought me enough time to get out of the store with a little grace.  (I should note:  she asked me if it was ok if she gave my son the toy before she approached him.  It’s always a good idea to check in with the Mama/Daddy before giving a stranger-child something, no?)  I was (am!) so appreciative of this woman.  We still have the motorcycle, and even though my son has since broken off the handlebars, it’s still a favorite and gets plenty of play time.  

So here’s my challenge to you:  find a little toy or activity that you can stow in your handbag and give it to a child you see that is having a rough time in a store (or anywhere else that you see a parent who could use a moment of distraction for their child). 


For my own purse, I chose these cute scratch art papers, but I think anything that would keep a child busy for a few minutes would be appreciated:  stickers, a notepad + a crayon or two, small cars, a little book, a wind-up toy, etc.  The goal is to find something that costs only a few quarters and slips into your bag easily.  (Because if you’re anything like me, you’re lugging around a lot already!) 


I bought six scratch art papers at Michaels  for $1.  (And apparently they are a hit with the kids.  Do you see my son drooling over them?)  If you don’t already have something at home that fits the bill, try places like Target’s Dollar Spot or any dollar store for tiny trinkets that would do the trick. 


You could skip this step, but if you get a moment wrap the little gift.  I think half the fun of getting a present is in the unwrapping, especially for a child.  And who knows–maybe the wrapping will be the funnest part to play with!


Okay, okay, son.  You can have one.  Scratch away. 


Hey, it even works at home!  My son kept at this activity for awhile.  Time well spent, I’d say.

If you accept my challenge, please stop by and let me know how it goes.  I’d love to hear your stories.

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Just a few thoughtful bits I’ve come across lately.

Lauren of Lauren Makes made a paper chain with a link to count down each day until her first nephew arrives. She packed it up oh-so-pretty and mailed it off to the mom-to-be. (I always enjoy catching up on Lauren’s projects, I especially love this ingenious idea she designed for Lowe’s).

Erin of Bird and Banner shares this sweet little gift given by a friend for her birthday years ago. Proof that little gifts can last. Happy birthday, Erin!

Heather of the Coterie Blog was having a rough day, so her husband brought her something to help cope. (And today is her birthday, so be sure to pop in and wish her a happy one.)

Junie Moon got a surprise phone call from her brother, who is taking a pretty amazing birthday suprise into his own hands.

Amanda Joy surprised her neighbors with something yummy and homemade (be sure to check out the free printable she made and shared for the package).

Happy Lady Eats had her foodie friend drop by a dish of these, which look amazing. Hooray for friends who appreciate food as much as you do.

I love that SamanthaLee got a pair of these in the mail and used them to cheer on the Olympic athletes in proper Olympic style.

And since we’ve been discussing men who know how to make a girl happy this week, here is one more happy girl from one more man who did good.

Hope your day is a happy one. I wish you at least one little unexpected thing that brightens your day.

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I’ve mentioned before that I grew up an Idaho girl. I like to think it explains my love for Winco, country music, and good vinegar and salt potato chips. A few months ago one of my Idaho peeps told me about the talented bunch at HowDoesShe, and I’ve been hooked ever since. These ladies are always reading my mind. They come up with the best solutions for all my day-to-day needs. I now play this game with my kids while we’re waiting for food at restaurants, talk about these when we’re having dinner at home, and really want one of my local friends to throw this kind of party so I can attend (ladies?) Today we get a chance to hear from Shelley, who somehow manages to write for HowDoesShe while mothering twins +1 and being fabulous. Super fabulous. You are about to see what I mean. Shelly, thanks for being here.

The three charming ladies behind HowDoesShe.com

Meet Shelley

In my previous life I was an Interior Designer, I loved window shopping, and I was 2 pant sizes smaller. In my current life, I am a young mother of 3 beautiful children. A little boy who is 2 and twin baby girls whi are 8 Months. My ‘me time’ is basically gone, but motherhood is worth all the sacrifice. In any spare second I have (which is usually found in the wee hours of the morning) I am usually on the computer working on HowDoesShe,…or googling absolutely nothing of importance. It’s the only ‘me time’ I’ve got. It’s glorious.

And now that we’re acquainted,
five gifts that WOULD or DID make Shelley happy

A morning to sleep-in. I know,…totally cliche. But I am answering honestly. Hubby,..are you out there reading this? I’ll take it this weekend please. :)

A tube of Desitin. Ha. I can never seem to find it when I need it! ;) But seriously,…If I’m going to get a ‘tube of something,’ it better be foot lotion! It’s one of my favorite gifts from my husband because it is always followed by a much needed foot rub!

A pair of shoes. DUH! High heels. Stilletos preferably. I prance around in them whenever I get the chance and I feel completely transformed from frumpy mom, to ‘oh so sexy’ woman.

A bouquet of Albertsons flowers,…OFTEN please! :) Yep. That’s right. When I get a simple $5 bouquet I am thrilled. They are usually beautiful, I swear they last longer, and I get them more often than the $75 arrangement coming from the florist. {my husband does this often and it brightens my day. Come on guys…$5,…$5 measly dollars!!!}

A bundle of joy. Aren’t babies the best gift/blessing ever?! There is nothing like a bundle of joy. It truly is the greatest gift of all. Two at once is fun too! ;)

a few gifts that WOULD or DID make someone else happy

A copy of old video footage transferred to DVD. I recently stumbled across an odd shaped video recording from about 10 years ago. On it was footage of my hubands mission to the Philipines he had never seen. For Christmas, it was sitting under the tree transfered to DVD. He loved it {yes I am patting myself on the back ;)}

A book of sheet music. It’s sentimental, it’s personal, it keeps giving, and others get to enjoy it.

A day to be spoiled. My little boy often gets a special day that we focus just on him. From bouncy houses, to ice skating, to junk food,…it’s a gift that means the world to him (and us).

A visit from a friend. A best friend. A surprise visit is even better.

A pack of gum. My dad is always slipping gum, mints, and other treats in others purses, diaper bags, and cars. It tugs at my heartstings every time he does this for someone. It’s so simple, yet so sweet.

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Brent was up early on Saturday and out of the house to go on a crazy beautiful coastal hike—which involved a waterfall on the beach—with a group of 14-year-old scouts who I am trying not be jealous of.

But the day was pretty good for me and the kids too. We got a call at eight in the morning. A few friends had heard we lost some trees in a storm we had here last week.
Ten minutes later our driveway was full of trucks, and our property was full of men with chainsaws.

They even came with their own mechanic (because I’m telling you, chainsaws are like the prima donnas of the tool world, they’re moody and they like to be fussed over).
My 6-year-old made muffins and we sat back to enjoy the spectacle of two months’ of work done in a couple hours.

And two things I was thinking during all of this. One is how it really is better to have people than money. And the other is how it’s good to be a church-goin’ woman. I love that it adds to my life a whole new group of people who know how to look out for each other. So glad to have friends like these.

And speaking of friends, I had a couple nice surprises from blogland too, thanks, holamama and SamanthaLee for the kind words. To be mentioned by such lovely ladies made the week for me.

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If you want to proclaim your love and you’re a little bit country you can always climb the water tower and paint your message there. But here are a few other, more legal (and every bit as poetic) options.

in the shower

in the snow

on your sandwich

on a banana

on your arm (via here, get custom  temporary tats here)

in your hair

in the sky (get a price quote here)

in the night sky (via here, get instructions here)

on dessert (image from here)
(UPDATE: for those of you who are pie people, cupcakes for clara
just dropped by and shared where she proclaimed her love on a pie)

in dessert

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(written last night) I should have gone to bed a couple hours ago. I’m trying to do this more, go to bed on time. But I came across something that is keeping me up. I found it on Hil’s blog.

If you haven’t met Hil, she is amazing. I had the pleasure of finding her blog a week or two ago, and have been thinking a little differently since. Today she wrote about something very close to her heart. I believe anyone who is a parent or knows a parent would want to know.

It’s called the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation, and if you have 4 minutes you can watch a clip about it from the Today Show here. The foundation is a group of photographers who volunteer to help parents who lose their child before or shortly after birth. The photographers come to the family and photograph them together with their baby son or daughter to preserve their memory. It’s a beautiful idea, isn’t it? I wanted to share because it doesn’t sound like something all doctors are aware of it. I thought it was something worth spreading.

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Just a few bits of thoughtfulness I’ve read about or been privileged to receive lately.

shoe bag handmade

Treefall design made this sweet shoe bag for her daughter.

My friend stopped by with a batch of cookies and a pair of Halloween socks for everyone in the family, even the grown ups.

6a00e54fbad09988340120a64aea13970c-500wi

Bloessem Kids shares some incredible cardboard toys made for her son.

Metropolitan Mama prepared stationary and envelopes addressed to grandma and grandpa to make weekly letters to them a cinch to send.

Anna has been working on some very cool sewn gifts for her friends.

Liz recounts memories of her very thoughtful mom in a beautiful tribute on Linda & Harriet.

IS*LY gave into her husband’s request and sewed him his own urban pack (a very manly version of the fanny pack).

handmade book gift yoga

Marta’s cousin made her the raddest thing: a custom yoga how to book.

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I’m so thrilled to introduce to you to one of my very favorite bloggers. Emily writes at Wide Open Spaces and reliably inspires me every day of the week. She is always either writing about about things I am completely enamored with, like hope chests or penmanship or walkable cities or autumn, or about something I hadn’t realized I was enamored with until she wrote about it, like quatrefoils. I know you will enjoy her refreshing approach to life, and am so thrilled to have her take on my first ever WOULD OR DID interview. Thank you, Emily!

Meet Emily

Hi, I’m Emily from Wide Open Spaces.  This week I am dreaming that my Wide Open Space is in North Carolina but check back next week, it may be Maine.  Or Northern California.  Or Italy.  I am a mom to two, nearly three, and I love my job.  The pay is terrible but the benefits are top notch.  Some things that make me smile are, in no particular order:  quiet, folk music, bare feet, great shoes, chocolate with peanut butter, fitting into my favorite jeans, traveling, staying home, simplicity and abundance.  Lucky for me—life tends to offer just enough of each.

5 gifts that WOULD or DID make Emily happy

Emily's favorite gifts

1. a bowl of cherries. The mom of my best friend brought this to my home years ago, I believe for my birthday. The bowl was beautiful, ceramic with a deep green glaze. It looked amazing filled with those gorgeous cherries. I may have received this ten years ago but it continually registers in mind as one of my favorite gifts of all time. Lovely, simple, useful, delicious.

2. a stack of photographs.
A couple of years ago my husband wrapped up a box of photographs that he had had printed off. Now, in the age of digital photographs, I have a computer full of images but none to hold in my hand. After moaning about this once again, my husband took the time to go through our thousands (literally) of photographs and choose a few hundred of the best ones. He had them all professionally printed, matted with white borders, just the way that I like them. It was such a thoughtful and touching gift.

3. tickets to Paris.
Or any other romantic and decadent locale. I’m not sure if I can imagine a better gift than being surprised with an amazing trip. It shows such forethought and intention. All of the planning that would go into both the trip and pulling it off as a surprise…possibly the best gift ever?

4. a set of lessons.
Cooking, sewing, reupholstering, guitar, flower arranging, calligraphy, letterpress, crocheting, bread baking…the list is endless. There are so many skills that I would love to learn. My husband and I have talked about choosing a new continuing education course each semester to do together.  One year, my parents gave us grilling lessons along with a new grill for Christmas. I love the idea of giving experiences over material goods and a set of lessons are a gift that keeps on giving.

5. a day to myself.
I may speak for all mothers of small children right now, this gift is pretty huge.  Should you ever be scratching your head as to what to give a mom to little ones—I think this is it. If someone that I knew well and trusted, a close friend or family member, offered to watch my kids for the day and give me a day off…I might weep. So often that is all that we need as moms, but so rarely get. A little time to ourselves that we might come back to our families recharged and ready.

5 gifts that WOULD or DID make someone else happy
Emily's favorite gifts2

1. a bowl of cash. My mother is great gift giver, very creative and fun. One of my favorites is for a wedding gift. Should she find something like a salad bowl on a couple’s registry, she will get it along with some beautiful salad tongs. She’ll purchase some cute fake veggies from a craft store and crumples cash up  as the salad greens. She then tosses in the veggies. Such a fun way to give a cash gift rather than just the old check in a card.

2. a stack of gifts.
When Sean and I were first married and a little poorer than we are today, we came up with a plan for Christmas.  We would exchange five gifts, and the total sum that could be spent was $100.  It was our best Christmas with the most meaningful gifts we have ever given each other.  It was so fun getting creative and trying to figure out the best way to use those precious dollars.  There were several gifts that were purchased from antique stores and some were handmade or simply written on a piece of paper.  I may not remember what I have given or received in the years since, but to us those 10 gifts have become treasures.

3. a vintage copy of a favorite childhood book.
This gift seems really personal and shows the recipient that they are known, which is something I think we all love to feel when receiving something. If I ever heard someone mention something like a favorite childhood book, I would try to make a note of it and then later look for a beautiful copy to give them on their birthday or at Christmas. 

4. an evening together.
The last few years I have started giving less physical gifts and more “dates.”  A show with my mom, or a dinner out with a friend or a weekend away with Sean. I try to pick a great theater and fantastic restaurants or romantic digs to hideaway—but really what I am hoping to give is a memory. Something that remains afterwards as we are inevitable saying—“we have to do this again.” And meaning it.

5. a bouquet of flowers, preferably wildflowers.
Here’s my rule on flowers: while nice on a birthday or anniversary or Valentine’s Day… they are so much more lovely on any day but those. On a no-day at all, just thinking of you kind of day. I love to leave them on a friends doorstep, prettily arranged in a mason jar, with just a small note “thinking of you.

photo credits
a stack of photos: a class in calligraphy: a trip to France
a vintage book: flowers in a jar

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Just a few bits of thoughtfulness I’ve read about or been privileged to receive lately.
whirly pop hostess gift

My awesome SIL knows I’ve wanted a Whirlypop in the worst way. She picked one up for me, and not only gave me it, but filled it with yummy vanilla kettle corn. I love instant gratification. Thanks, SIL, you are the best.

My super friend heard my 4-yr-old had a cold and stopped by with a DVD just for him.

Rosamaria made a quilt for her aunt to give her when she came to visit.

care package miss you

Blonde Designs made a reunion in a bag for their friend who couldn’t make it to hang with them.

Marta got an early birthday party put together by her cousin (love what she writes, “we are very fifth grade about each other’s birthdays and i couldn’t be luckier.”)

For Reluctant Entertainers had her friend stop by with a batch of cinnamon rolls (we must be channeling the same bloggy thoughts because I am all about the cinnamon rolls this week).

D*S will be making lavender sachets for her friends this weekend.

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A few bits of thoughtfulness I’ve read about or been privileged to receive lately.

bulbs

When my parents came to visit, my dad brought bags of bulbs from his garden. Daffodils and tulips. He got to work tucking them away in little spots around my yard so, come spring, I’ll be looking out my window to see some of the same flowers he’ll see from his.

Amber from Where the Wildings Are had a husband appreciation day. She put balloons all over the house, each one with a note tied to it of why she appreciates him.

Anna of Hey Bubbles took morning tea to a family just moving in.

Jo-Ann of Pumpkin Petunia surprised her kids with flags skewered into their school lunches.

Jenn from ambrosia girl had a friend stop by with pizza and treats from a favorite bakery.

On Oh, Hello Friend, Tina of Happy Tape recounted when she gave her husband a book of 40 haiku poems from people who loved him as a gift when he turned 40.

Emily of Wide Open Spaces found the love stamp for each year with her husband, and made it into a wall art.

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Just a few moments of thoughtfulness I’ve read about or been privileged to receive this week.

Jordan from Oh Happy Day had a good friend move nearby, who calls around dinnertime offering homemade enchiladas.

Emily from Wide Open Spaces had some wonderfully thoughtful friends mail her a book she agreed she’d like packaged with extra goodies, and a gift of support in the form of a small bottle of perfume.

B-fruit and dress

My own moment: my daughter got to go on a Grandma date. After her day with Grandama she brought home goodies including a beautiful summer dress grandma found secondhand and the fruit my daughter picked out herself from Grandma’s local fruit stand (she proceeded to tell me the proper way to pick out fresh greenbeans, just as Grandma had shown her).

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