Buy Girl Scout Cookies and Maintain Your Healthy Diet: 3 Simple Tips

How can you resist buying cookies when those sweet little Girl Scouts come knocking on your door? Or when “cookie booth” time rolls around and they’re standing in front the stores peddling their boxes of yumminess? It’s almost impossible, which is a good thing. The Girl Scouts use the money from cookie sales to keep their program running. It’s also a great lesson in sales, budget planning, and goal setting for the girls who get to decide what to do with their troop’s portion of the sales amount.

But are you eating clean? Or are you trying to lose a few pounds? If so, you’re probably thinking you should resist the urge to buy a box or two (or ten) so that you won’t be tempted to eat them. But you don’t need to resist. Here are a few ways to purchase cookies and not find yourself sitting in the pantry chowing down on a box while the kids are in school:

1.  Donate cookies to Troops to Troops   Many Girl Scout troops participate in this program. You purchase cookies, and instead of them being delivered to your house, they will be sent to military men and women serving overseas. How awesome is this? Those pesky little bites of minty chocolate never have to enter your house and whisper sweet nothings when you walk past the pantry.

2. Give a Random Act of Kindness   Purchase a box or two (or ten), attach one of the tags below, and hand them out to brighten someone’s day. The possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas of who you could pass them on to:

  • neighbors
  • co-workers
  • friend having a bad day
  • police officer
  • fire fighter
  • mail carrier
  • cashier at the store
  • your waitress
  • office staff at your kid’s school
  • bus driver
  • receptionist at your doctor’s office
  • clients
  • random unsuspecting STRANGERS (my favorite!)

3. Give someone else the opportunity to do a Random Act of Kindness  Buy cookies, but ask the Girl Scout to perform a Random Act of Kindness of her own and pass them on to someone else. You can feel especially good about this one. You won’t be eating the cookies, you will be doing an act of kindness yourself, AND encouraging someone else to do an act of kindness. And this works well for Girl Scouts you know that don’t live nearby. Just print up some Random Acts of Kindness tags below and mail them with your check when you place your order.

Random Acts of Kindness free printable tags

Click on image to download tags

So go buy some cookies.  It’s a great excuse to do a Random Act of Kindness.



P.S.  I don’t have a Girl Scout in the house any more. But I have a rule that I adopted several years ago from my  then Brownie Co-Leader: I’ll buy one box of cookies from any Girl Scout who knocks on my door. I never say no. Our family eats a few, but I also buy them to spread kindness to others.



No Coincidences

Bristow VA Chick-fil-AI recently took my kids to our local Chick-fil-A for breakfast.  It had been a long week of weather-related school closures and we needed a change of scenery.  I also needed to not have a kitchen full of dirty dishes before 9am.  We ordered our food, quickly scarfed down our Chicken Minis, and the boys then ran off to the play area for some fun while my daughter and I enjoyed a few precious moments of quiet time together.  We basked in the peaceful bliss for as long as we could, but eventually had to leave, grabbing our belongings and a handful of mints as we headed out.  Well, at least I thought I had grabbed all of my belongings.

Thirty minutes later, I realized that I had failed to grab the most important item: my wallet.  I immediately went into panic mode.  Of course this happened at the exact time that my two youngest began an epic battle of “he touched/hit/looked at me.”  After reasoning with (okay threatening) them to be quiet for 2 minutes, I dialed the number to Chick-fil-A while saying a string of prayers in my head.

Although I am aware that a lost wallet is not the worst thing that could happen, it is still overwhelming, scary, and a huge hassle.  Aside from worrying about what damage was possibly happening to my bank account at that very moment, I was freaking out that I was without any means of making a purchase for the next several days.  My bank isn’t local and and it would take days to even expedite a new bank card.  I could write a check, but what store would accept a check without an ID?  Hubby?  He happened to be out of town at the time .  And I needed to grocery shop.  Oh, and put gas in the car.  It was definitely not the best scenario.

My phone call was answered on the second ring.  The female voice on the other end was very polite but did not have good news.  No wallet had been turned in.  To my surprise, she kept me on the line while she asked questions.  When exactly had I been there?  Where had I been sitting?  What did my wallet look like?   She  walked over to the seating area and began to look for my wallet.  I could hear her asking guests if they had seen it.  And then she excitedly told me that she had found it.  My prayers had been answered by a very kind employee who went out of her way to help and and a very honest customer who spotted it next near her seat.

I was able to pick up my wallet 30 minutes later.  I didn’t get to see either of my wallet-finding angels, but I had at least been able to thank them both over the phone.  As I slipped the strap of the wallet over my wrist, I wasn’t at all worried about anything being missing.  I somehow knew that everything would be inside.  My angels had been looking out for me.  I couldn’t help but think that it must have been my reward for the several times that I had found a wallet or a credit card and made sure that it had found it’s way back to it’s owner.  Good karma, right?

Fast-forward four days.  The hubby was still out of town and I needed to run a few errands around the dreaded dinner hour.  I’ll admit it – I bribed the kids with Chick-fil-A.  (Hey, we lived 5 years without a Chick-fil-A nearby and my kids intend to make up for lost time!)  When we walked in, we happened to be greeted by the owner who was sitting in the lobby talking with another man.  After some time there (again, the kids had to spend time in the play area), I could no longer resist the urge to talk to him.

He was very gracious as I interrupted.  He listened intently as I told him how grateful I was for the help of his very kind employee.  Had she not taken those extra steps to help me, I’d have been in a mess.  I was there to thank him for his staff, but he ended up thanking me.  He then quoted Proverbs 11:25 – A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.  He said that because I had been generous with my words, he wanted to pass on the kindness and handed me a coupon for a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich.

We talked for a few more minutes as I thanked him again and mentioned my passion for random acts of kindness.  Eloquent is not an adjective I’d use to describe my side of the conversation – I was too preoccupied with what had occurred.  My head was swirling.  How had I been so lucky to get my wallet back?  What motivated me go back to Chick-fil-A so soon after my previous visit?  It’s not really a norm for us, even it was convenient.  Why did the owner happen to be sitting in the lobby that night?  What made me to feel so compelled to talk with him that I would interrupt his conversation?  And what prompted him to counter with an act of kindness?

And I remembered.  There is a bigger plan.  There are no coincidences.

The cycle of kindness had continued.  I was able to be the beneficiary of it.  Proof that the cycle of kindness continues if we make the effort to continue it.   Perhaps with something as simple as a smile, a “thank you”, or a chicken sandwich.  We can make a difference by our actions and our words.  We have the ability to impact someone’s mood, change the course of their day, their week, and perhaps even their future.  Every time I have been a recipient of a random act of kindness or witnessed one, it has encouraged me to do more and to try harder to leave a positive mark on the world.

Random Acts of Kindness matter.  We may not  always get to see the impact of our kindness.   And we probably won’t always get a chicken sandwich for it.  But there is always an impact.  We will be refreshed.  At the very least…in our own hearts.


P.S.  My oldest son (aka the bottomless pit, devour-er of chicken sandwiches) is going to be very disappointed to learn that I will be passing that coupon on to someone else (other than him) to continue the chain of kindness.  Maybe we just shouldn’t tell him…

Ding Dong Ditch Valentines

Valentine's Random Acts of Kindness free printable

We celebrated our Valentine’s Day this year with Random Acts of Kindness.  I wanted to come up with something new and different to do.  My inspiration came last month when a group of teenage boys decided to play a game of “ding dong ditch” throughout the neighborhood late one night.   It’s a little aggravating and bit disrespectful, but it normally wouldn’t be a really big deal at our house.  I’m most likely awake at that time and luckily my kids will typically sleep through about anything.  But that night we had a special baby visitor with us and she was finally sleeping peacefully when when the doorbell set off our barking dog alarm.   Waking a sleeping baby without good reason is the ultimate sin.  After opening the door to no one, I happened to spot two teenage boys pretending to take a leisurely walk down the street and another one pretending to be out for a jog.  Like any sane person would do, I set up a stake-out and caught the little thugs on their way back past my house.

They weren’t really thugs.  They were typical (polite, actually) teenage boys who thought they were being funny.  They didn’t think about the babies they woke up or the people who panicked and expected bad news when their doorbell rang at that time of night.  We talked for a few minutes and I made them two deals.  The first was to gather the rest of their friends and head home without ringing another doorbell or I’d track them down again and escort them home myself.  The second was that if they ever rang my doorbell and ran off again, they had to leave cookies for me in the process.

That was my “ah-ha” moment when I felt like a genius.  I could combine their desire to ring doorbells and run away with my desire to do random acts of kindness.  Let’s be honest…ringing someone’s doorbell and running away is awesome fun.  Our family “Boos” people for Halloween and it’s one of the most fun things we do.  There is nothing quite like planning and executing the perfect getaway.  My 13 year-old is awesome at it.  So good actually that it scares me a little.  How did he get so good at being so sneaky?  Me?  I’m not so good.  I have unfortunately been caught a few times.  (Note: do not ever “Boo” the house of an Army Special Forces Officer unless you are very good at it and exceptionally fast.  He WILL hunt you down.)

I enlisted some help from my son Josh and 5 of his friends.   I baked chocolate chip cookies and packaged them up with a RAOK tag.   After filling the boys up with pizza, I sent them out into the neighborhood to deliver 20+ packages of cookies.  They headed out for their fun and were quickly rewarded with blizzard-like conditions.  It didn’t take them very long to return home and I had to lock them up to keep them from heading back out to get frostbite.  (Middle school boys don’t always wear things like coats, hats, or socks, even in snow.)  The cookie packaging may not have looked perfect when they arrived on doorsteps, but I think it was a huge success.  Random acts of kindness were done and the boys had FUN.  Teenage boys had fun doing something nice for others…it melts my heart.  They had so much fun that I think I may be able to convince them to do something like it again.  However, I will probably wait until the weather warms up a bit so their parents won’t  worry that I’ll send them out in a blizzard again.  Sorry moms – I didn’t know!

Free printable tag for Valentine's Day

Click on the image to download

You can download the file here or by clicking on the image to the left.

Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.


Cookies for Kindness

Valentine's Day Random Acts of Kindness

It’s been almost two and a half years since I celebrated my 40th birthday with a Random Acts of Kindness extravaganza.  Friends, family and even strangers joined in to help me celebrate with Random Acts of Kindness of their own.  It was by the far the best and most meaningful birthday I’ve had.  After my birthday, I was contacted by a writer for the Tri-City Herald in Washington who was interested in sharing my story with her readers.  I recently reflected on how touching it was that she had written the article.  The next day I found an email from the author, Lucy Luginbill, in my inbox.  Lucy is now writing her Light Notes column weekly for their Saturday edition in addition to the online paper.   Lucy wanted to republish the article and share the story again with their readers.  Her email had more of an impact on me than she could have imagined.  I have recently been contemplating what to do with my blog – whether I should devote more time to it and sharing my Random Acts of Kindness or devote the little bit of free time I have to promoting my future bakery.

Lucy’s email was a clear sign pointing me in the right direction.  Of course I said yes to Lucy.  I am thrilled to have the article run again.  But I said yes to more than that article when I sent my reply.  I said yes to many more Random Acts of Kindness.  I said yes to sharing the stories.  I said yes to trying my best to inspire others to do acts of kindness.  The article ran yesterday in the Tri-City Herald and is posted online here.  Much thanks to Lucy for feeling compelled to share the story of my birthday celebration (twice now).  But I also want to thank her for reminding me to follow my heart by continuing this journey.

Smiley Cookies for RAOKs

Giving away the smiley-face sugar cookies was one of our favorite Random Acts of Kindness from my 40th birthday.  (You can read more about all of the RAOKs here.)   Here is the recipe I use if you’d like to make your own cookies…

Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 cups (360 grams) flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.  Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl.  Add egg and vanilla and mix.  Add flour mixture and mix until combined.  Do not over mix.  Roll out dough and cut with cookie cutter.  Transfer to ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.  Do not refrigerate dough.

For royal icing:  mix 2 egg whites, 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 3 cups powdered sugar.  Mix until smooth.  Add water 1/4 teaspoon at a time until icing is the desired consistency.  Use decorator bag to outline cookie with icing.  After outline dries, flood cookie with royal icing and let dry overnight.




Spread a Little Love

Valentine's Day Random Acts of Kindness Free Printable Tag

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner…  I’ll be celebrating the day by spreading a little love (okay carbs & sugar, but isn’t that the same thing?) into the universe.   Heart sugar cookies is one of the treats I’ll be delivering to people.  The kids and I have done this with sugar cookies before and it was a huge success.  They had so much fun handing out the cookies to unsuspecting people around town.  It ended up being one of their favorite RAOKs  – especially of the super shy, won’t talk to any stranger kid!  It must be cookie courage.

Valentine's Day Random Acts of Kindness


Valentine's Day RAOK

And here’s my other must-do RAOK for any occasion.  A Starbucks gift card ready for a new owner 🙂  I’ll attach the Valentine RAOK tag to it and have it ready for Valentine’s Day.

What ideas do you have for a Valentine’s Day Random Act of Kindness?  Download the Valentine RAOK tags here and use them when you spread a little love this Valentine’s Day!  Want to send a little love my way?  Share with me how you use the tags!


A “thank you” to Veterans

The following poem was written in honor of Veterans Day by a very talented young woman.  It is her gift to Veterans everywhere as we thank them for their service, commitment, and sacrifice.  It’s a privilege to know her and I’m very proud to have such a beautiful soul as my daughter.

Coming Home Happy Veterans Day

by Megan Black
Engines roar and hearts race
as the giant plane pulls in
Out come men in camouflage
wearing long forgotten grins
A little boy runs to his dad,
who’s finally back from war
Light placed in his battle darkened eyes
his uniform pressed and dark hair shorn
The little boy grasps his American flag
Sobbing, he wraps his dad in an embrace
then his mom hugs his dad tight
relieved tears dripping down her face
The war is done for them
no more longing, no more pain
Until the next deployment
They’re a family again
With guns and bullets, battles rage
soldiers dying every day
For our country’s fragile freedom-
there’s nobody more brave

Please take the opportunity to give your thanks to a Veteran today.  We could never thank them enough for the sacrifices they have made.



40th Birthday Random Acts of Kindness

Birthday Random Acts of Kindness Ideas & Free Tag DownloadsThe big 4-0.  It’s a pretty big milestone.  Instead of being freaked out about this new number and age bracket, I chose to embrace this birthday and set out to make sure it would be a memorable one.  Last year, I chose to do to Random Acts of Kindness (RAOKs) for my birthday.  It was an immensely rewarding experience – I hadn’t realized how much I would enjoy doing kind things for others and making people smile.   Even more special and gratifying was that my Random Acts of Kindness had a magical effect on my own kids.  They began thinking of ways to be kind to others and were excited about it.  Positive parenting moment – priceless!  This year I chose to celebrate with Random Acts of Kindness again and give rise to a birthday tradition.  My goal was to do 40 RAOKs and I well surpassed that goal.  My birthday was not just memorable – it was my best birthday to date.  The following is what I did during my week-long “celebration”.

Gave away cookies

I baked and decorated 60 sugar cookies and packaged them individually with a tag explaining that is was a RAOK.  The kids and I distributed the smiley face cookies all over town.  Surprisingly, this was the favorite activity of my super shy kids.  Cookies must bring out their inner courageous beasts, because they wanted to give cookies to everyone.  We handed them out at the gas station, to travelers waiting for the airport shuttle, employees and customers at the post office, our waitress, strangers at the gym, the cashier at Target, people at the library, and the barista at the coffee shop.  Everyone was very gracious and thankful for the treat, which may be why the kids enjoyed it so much.  It might also be the fact that several of the cookies broke in transit (I’m sure it was accidental) and became a yummy snack for them.

Birthday Random Acts of Kindness Ideas and Free Tag Downloads

We also took a basket of the cookies to the patients and employees at the Seacoast Cancer Center.  I had been wondering what to do with a stack of the cookies and the idea came to me that morning when I logged onto Facebook.  A friend battling cancer had posted an update regarding her treatment and ended her post with the following request:  “Please do a random act of kindness today for someone.”  It was a clear sign that those cookies had a purpose – to brighten the day of someone battling cancer.  Unfortunately I know two such people, but they live hundreds of miles away.  So I packed up the cookies and took them to the Seacoast Cancer Center in their honor.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas & Tags

Delivered cupcakes around town

You can’t have a birthday without cake!  Well at least that’s what my kids tell me.  They’re pretty smart kids, so I don’t like to argue with their wisdom when it comes to dessert.  I baked 13 dozen cupcakes and boxed them up to be delivered around town.  I took them to the children’s museum, the police department, the post office, an assisted living home, the humane society, the elementary school, the middle school, the library, and to the food bank volunteers.  And if you’re wondering what kind of cupcakes they were, I made Grasshopper Cupcakes – chocolate cupcakes baked with bits of Andes mints inside and topped with mint buttercream and a sprinkle of Andes mints pieces and Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes – chocolate cupcakes topped with caramel buttercream and a caramel drizzle.  They were pretty tasty, if I may say so myself.

Left inspirational notes

I printed little inspirational and motivational notes and left them in various places around town.  There are notes to be found in the library, at the police department, the grocery store, the gym, and all over Target.  There, I slipped notes in boxes of diapers, purses, luggage, lunch boxes, books, and even picture frames.  My most favorite note is attached to the scale in the ladies’ locker room.  It reads “This number does not measure how beautiful you are.”

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas & Tags

Left quarters on gumball machines

I did this last year with all four kids in tow and it didn’t go very smoothly.  They begged for every gumball and rocket ship ride they saw.  I could easily have used my entire stash of quarters on my own kids and left without doing a single RAOK.  Only Noah accompanied me this year and it was quite a bit easier.  It only cost one quarter for a handful of Chiclets to satisfy his sweet tooth.  We left quarters on gumball and candy machines at Toys R Us and Pizza Hut and on the bouncy ball machines at Old Navy.  We saw one happy little boy running up to claim one of the quarters at Old Navy.  Which means that there was one not-so-happy mom chasing a bouncy ball all over the store while she shopped.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas & Tags

Left money on soda machines

There have been several times that I have wanted something to drink and realized that I didn’t have enough change on me to make the purchase.  It seemed like a good idea to help someone out in that predicament.  So I put the cost of a soda in a clear bag with a RAOK note and left them of several drink machines.  And if we’re being honest, the money was most likely used by a changeless mom to hush the “I’m thiiiirrrrrsty” whining from her offspring.

Left money in the dollar section at Target

Are you familiar with the area of Target that has bins of items for sale for $1?  (If not, then I’m sorry to say that we could never be friends.)  Well did you know that the area has a name?  I’m ashamed to say that I had no clue until the other day.  It’s called the Dollar Spot.  After countless Target trips over many years, I just found out.  Embarrassing.  Well the kids and I placed several dollars in the toy bins of the Dollar Spot with the hope that kids would find them and buy themselves a treat.  While there, we noticed a little boy around the age of 4 doing some window shopping while his mom stood nearby at the customer service desk.  My shy five year-old jumped at the opportunity to personally give him one of the dollars.  The little boy was so excited and ran over to his mom exclaiming “Look Mom!”  My boys were giddy to see how excited he was about their Random Act of Kindness.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas & Tags

Gave a gift card to person in line behind me

I was inspired by a friend who did this and couldn’t resist stealing her idea.  I purchased a gift card while I was checking out at the grocery store.  Then just when my groceries were bagged and I was ready to leave, I handed it the lady behind me.  Well, I tried to hand it to her – she wouldn’t even take it at first.  She stared at me like I was either speaking a different language or had completely lost my mind and needed to be committed.  (I probably do need to be committed but that’s for completely different reasons.)  I insisted she take it and told her to read the attached note – my RAOK card.  I quickly slipped away while she stood there speechless, reading the note that she received a gift card for my birthday.  I did see her in the parking lot a few minutes later on her way to the car, scanning the lot for the gift card-giving stranger who was trying very hard to remain anonymous…

Left a gift card on a car window

More fun at Target!  On another of my daily (sometimes twice daily) Target runs, I finally thought of something fun to do with a $5 gift card that I had gotten free with a purchase.   I noticed a family getting out of their van and decided to surprise them with the gift card.  I attached a RAOK note to it and taped it to the driver side window of their van.  I love the idea that they will never know who left it for them.

Paid the toll for the car behind me

If you have an E-ZPass, be sure to put it safely away before trying this or you’ll end up being charged twice.   The toll collector was kind enough to give my RAOK card to the couple behind me when she notified them that their toll had been paid.  The couple in the car was so sweet – they drove up along side me with a note that said “Thank you!  Happy Birthday!” held up against the passenger window for me to read as they passed by.

Donated items to the humane society

My kids have always had a soft spot for animals so it seemed natural that we would do something to help them.  The Cocheco Valley Humane Society maintains a wish list of items they need for the animals.  We checked it out and dropped off items including food and office supplies that were the most needed at the time.   We also took a cupcakes to the volunteers working that day.  And as a bonus RAOK, we didn’t stay long.  Look closely at the photo and you’ll see that I was protecting everyone from one of my mischief makers.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas and Tags

Delivered donuts to our babysitter

The sweet ideas of a 3 year-old…  I was on my way to the gym with Riley and we had to stop at the grocery store for a few items.  So I bought him a doughnut.   Super healthy snack, I know…    Once we were in the car to leave, he decided that he wanted to save half of his doughnut to share with Makenzie, his babysitter and a favorite childcare provider at the gym.  He absolutely adores her.  He must love her a lot, because this kid would fight you to the death for dessert.  I was highly impressed that Riley wanted to share, but I also wanted to save Makenzie the horror of having to pretend to love the half-eaten drooled-on chocolate doughnut that he was about to offer up.  So we made a slight detour for Dunkin Donuts and bought munchkins to take to her instead.  I’m not sure I should really count this RAOK as my own, but I’m claiming it any way 🙂

Bought coffee for a stranger at a lacrosse game

I love it when an opportunity to do a RAOK presents itself as nicely as this one.  My RAOK recipient was a mom watching her son play lacrosse.  They had traveled early to play my son’s team and she was very disappointed that she hadn’t passed a coffee shop on her way.  She had asked me before the game where she could find the closest caffeinated beverage, but she never had the opportunity to leave during the game.  When I realized that she would be staying for a second game after our game was over, I offered to get a coffee and bring it back to her.  She politely declined, I insisted, and of course I won the match.  You can’t turn down someone who wants to get you a coffee as a birthday gift to themselves.  There’s no logic to argue against it.

Donated blood

First time ever too!  As a bonus, I remained conscious the entire time.  And not to brag or anything, but I am the super hero of blood donors since my blood is compatible with anyone.   Okay, maybe “super hero” is overdoing it considering this was my first time.  But hey, I’m not a big fan of needles, so this was a big step for me.  And since I am considered a universal donor, I do feel compelled to donate regularly now.  Regardless of your blood type, there is currently an emergency need for blood donations.  You can click here to schedule an appointment with the American Red Cross to make a donation.  Hint, hint.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas & Tags

Mailed care packages

Let’s be honest, any trip I take to the post office should automatically be considered a Random Act of Kindness.  My mother will attest to this – she usually has to wait months for a package that I swear I will mail within the week.  The post office is literally five minutes from my house and the line is never very long, but I seem to have some kind of mental block about going.   I will leave a package by the door in my basement for 6 months before I will finally stop stepping over it and think to drop it off.  I’m not sure what’s wrong with me.  These packages were truly RAOKs though.  They were planned specifically to put a smile on a few unsuspecting faces and they were even mailed out in a more timely manner.

Let people go ahead of me in line

I did this one several times.  It was usually when the person behind me only had a few things or when I  was shopping without the kiddos.  It’s possible that I may have let everyone in a store go ahead of me one night so that I wouldn’t make it home in time to cook dinner.  It’s possible, but I won’t confirm the validity of that statement.  I’ll be pleading the 5th Amendment for my own protection.

Left a large tip at the coffee shop

I happened to be at Aroma Joe’s one day buying a coffee (I just had to use the gift card that someone so kindly gave me for my birthday) and I happened to have cash on me (miracle for sure).  Since I didn’t have to pay for my coffee, I used the cash to leave a nice tip.  The girl working saw how much of a tip I left and thanked me several times.  She seemed more than a bit surprised.  It wasn’t a crazy amount, but more than I would have paid for my drink.  

Put money in parking meters

I always get burned by the parking meters around here.  Some only take cash and some will accept credit cards.  After 2 years of living with meters, I’m still not used accustomed to remembering to have a stash of quarters in my car.  I put quarters in a bag with a RAOK note and left it on a Pay and Park Meter machine downtown for someone to use when they needed it.  I also filled several parking meters at the beach that were expired or close to expiring.  Hopefully I saved at least one person from getting a dreaded ticket.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas & Tags

Collected food for children

It’s difficult to single out one charity as a favorite, but End 68 Hours of Hunger is at the top of my list.  Thinking about kids being hungry and not having enough to eat breaks my heart into pieces.  I can’t fathom telling my kids that they have to go to bed hungry because there isn’t enough food in the house.  I hope and pray that I never experience how that feels.  End 68 Hours of Hunger  is an amazing organization.  They help feed kids during the 68 hours between the free lunch they receive Friday afternoon and the free breakfast they receive Monday morning at school.  Volunteers pack backpacks full of food to be sent home every weekend to any child in need of assistance.  I purchased food to donate, but decided to go a step further and do a food drive in my neighborhood to collect food.  And as a special treat for the volunteers who give up their time to help, I stopped by one night as they were packing backpacks and treated them to some cupcakes.

Welcomed military members home from a deployment

We happen to live just a few minutes from Pease International Airport.  Pease is the last stop for troops before heading overseas and the first stop when they are returning home from deployment in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other area of conflict.   There is a very dedicated group of people called the Pease Greeters who are there to welcome the troops passing through Pease International Airport.  They are there to greet every flight, no matter what time day or night.  You’d be surprised by how many flights pass through at 2:00am.  They provide a warm welcome home with lots of clapping, hand-shaking, and hugs as well as drinks, snacks, and phones to call home.  There was a flight returning home on Memorial Day and the kids and I were there to greet them.   It’s pretty overwhelming to be there as they’re stepping foot on American soil for the first time in a year, knowing that they are on their way to hug their families after such a long time.  And the flight we welcomed happened to be a very special group of soldiers – the 101st Airborne Division (the Screaming Eagles) returning home from their deployment in Afghanistan.  My boys were completely in awe of them.  Click here to learn more about the Pease Greeters.  It’s a great experience if you have the opportunity to be there.

Donated items to domestic violence shelter

It’s unfortunate that there are women and children in need of these services.  A Safe Place was founded to eliminate domestic abuse and provides free shelter and support for those who need it.  I can honestly say that I was in a bit of shock when reading the information on their website.  Seeing the “quick escape buttons” on their site was a major reality check – there are actually people around me living in fear for their safety.  I took a basket of toiletries and cleaning supplies as well as a basket of little toys for the kids to their administrative office.  I have no idea where the actual shelter may be, they keep things pretty hush-hush for safety reasons.  For future reference, domestic violence shelters may not want to give toys with any connection to guns or violence to the children at the shelter.  It’s common sense if you stop to think about it.  Of course I didn’t, so a few of those toys joined me for my ride home.  Oops.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas & Tags

Donated items for homeless pregnant women

New Generation provides shelter and services for homeless pregnant women and their babies.  I delivered diapers, wipes and other supplies for them to use.  I also donated a full van-load of household items to the Second Generation Thrift Shop which they operate in order to help fund the shelter.  I was able to help a good cause and de-clutter the playroom.  Yay!  Please don’t tell my boys though.  They would completely freak out and I’m not sure how good our mental heath insurance coverage is.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas & Tags

Sent cards to injured soldiers

My kids, their friends, and Noah’s preschool class made cards for Wounded Warriors to be sent to the the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.  The Wounded Warrior Project‘s mission is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors.  The cards will be given to injured military members as they arrive at the hospital for treatment.  You can even send your own online card by clicking here.

One of my favorite RAOKs this year was also one of the simplest.  It involves one of the smiley faced cookies mentioned at the beginning.  On one of my visits to a local coffee shop, I gave a cookie to the barista working there who was always so nice to me.  Not only is he super sweet and friendly, but he makes the most delicious espresso drinks.  Several days later, on my actual birthday, my neighbor went to the coffee shop to buy me a gift card.  He recognized her from being with me and took advantage of the fact that she lives across the street from me.  He prepared my favorite drink, wrote “Happy Birthday” and “Thanks for the random act of kindness” on the cup and asked her to deliver it to me.  It was such a sweet thing for him to do, but it was what he said to me when I thanked him that touched my heart.  He told me that he was so inspired by my Random Acts of Kindness that he wanted to do one himself.  He was inspired!  That one little word encompasses everything I wanted my birthday to be – to do nice things for others in hope that they will want to do the same for others.  That coffee he gave me was the best, most delicious espresso drink I have ever tasted.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas & Tags

Want to do Random Acts of Kindness for your birthday?  Feel free to “steal” any of my ideas and you can click here to download the larger RAOK notes and here to download the RAOK mini tags.  Have fun!  And I would love to hear what you do!!


“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” – Dalai Lama

Life Changes in an Instant

I feel compelled to re-post this entry today.  While I am busy planning my Birthday Random Acts of Kindness, one friend is bracing herself for the first anniversary of losing her child and another friend buried her father yesterday.  Their lives are forever changed…

I spend a lot of time wrapped up in the details of daily life.  It’s chaotic.  I shop for groceries, I feed the kids, then I shop for more groceries.  I try to keep Riley from sticking his finger in the light socket.  I wash the laundry.  Everybody feels the need to wear clothes on a daily basis, so I wash it again.  Kids get sick.  Then they go to the doctor.  Then another kid gets sick.  I could go on for a while…

And as I shuttle kids to doctor and dentist appointments and try to decide what to do for dinner even though I’ll be driving Josh to lacrosse practice when I need to be cooking that dinner, I can feel a bit overwhelmed.  And impatient.  I don’t have time to wait in a checkout lane while someone searches their bag for a coupon.  I need to get home before Riley has a lack-of-nap meltdown.  And no I don’t want to let you merge into my lane since you waited until the last possible moment to do so.  I get wrapped up in my daily life and I miss the fact that people around me are hurting.  That person at the checkout taking forever with their coupons may have just lost their job.  The last minute merger may be on the way to the hospital.  And the mom at Target letting her toddler throw a temper tantrum may have just become a widow.

One day those hurting people were just like me.  Not problem-free, but content and comfortable.  Perhaps their biggest dilemma of the day was how to get two kids to two different places at the same time, not realizing that it’s a pretty good problem to have.  And then something unthinkable happens.  Maybe it’s a car accident, a cheating spouse, or the death of a loved one.  Everything changes instantly.  Now your worries are huge.  Now the daily grind of life would be a dream come true.

A friend of mine experienced that kind of change today.  She lost a child today.  She lost her sweet little boy.  I’m overwhelmed with grief and sympathy for her.  I lot of tears were shed in our house today as we tried to imagine the pain she and her family are feeling.  Wondering how she’ll manage to get out of bed tomorrow and imagining what she will feel when she finds a tiny sock  in the laundry.  It’s a helpless feeling to be far away from someone on the worst day of their life.  I know there is nothing I can say or do to take away any of her pain.  But I wish so badly that I could.  I wish that there was some magical thing I could do that would heal her heart a little.  I know there isn’t, so I will have to just say a lot of prayers for her and let her know I’m thinking about her.

I’m also thinking about how her life will  have to continue.  Days from now, she’ll have to pull herself out of the house to take one of her girls to a doctor appointment or pick up milk at the grocery store.  And although every step out the door might feel like knives in her heart, she’ll do it because she’s a mom and her two girls need her.  So she’s probably going to be the mom in Target letting her toddler throw a tantrum because she won’t have the strength at the time to do anything other than push her cart through the checkout line.  And she’ll probably cut someone off in traffic and she may not be polite to a server at a restaurant.  But strangers around her won’t know why.  They will be wrapped up in the daily grind of their lives wondering why that mom isn’t paying attention or isn’t being polite.    She won’t be trying to be rude, she’ll just be trying to get through the task at hand so she can go home and cry.  She won’t need a rude gesture or a lecture on parenting.  What she will really need is a hug or a kind word or a smile.  She will need someone to make a tiny effort to show her love.  And she’ll need it often.

I won’t be able to be there to give her a random hug or a smile.  I won’t be there to return her shopping cart to the store while she buckles her toddler into the car.  I won’t be able to let her go ahead of me in the checkout line when her daughter is crying and I won’t be able buy her a cup of coffee when she goes to Starbucks.  But I can do that for someone here.  I can be kind and show love to people, even when they don’t seem to deserve it.  And I can remember that there is always someone around me that is hurting.  And if we all do those things, maybe that hug or smile will make it’s way to her.


“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” –Plato

Click here to join the Birthday Random Acts of Kindness event on Facebook

Help Me Celebrate!!

Birthday brownies

Please help me celebrate my 40th birthday!!  (How did that big number get here so fast?)  I had such an amazing experience doing Random Acts of Kindness last year for my birthday that I’m doing it again this year.  My plan is to do at least 40 Random Acts of Kindness.  Of course this year’s celebration must be bigger and better.  So please join me in my “celebration” by doing a  Random Act of Kindness of your own during the month of May.  You’ll feel great doing it and I’ll have proof that I have the most wonderful friends and family in the world.  Want to make my birthday even more amazing?  Invite your friends on Facebook to the celebration.   The event is public and anyone can “attend” – just click on the link below.  Please join me in spreading a bit of kindness around the world!

Click here to join the Random Acts of Kindness Birthday Celebration.