The Best Gift I’ve Ever Given

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When I saw the call to think back the the best gift I’ve ever given, I knew right away what I would write about. Just last month, BgK turned 40. He walked a marathon, had a luncheon, a family dinner, a family party and a lovely dinner at Navy Pier with me to celebrate. You might think that all of the celebrating might have overshadowed the gifts. It didn’t.

For years now, BgK has been getting me baubles and pretties at a jewelry store the kids call “the Pink Tower”. This year, for his 40th birthday, I decided that it was his turn to get present from the Pink Tower. He likes to wear a ring on his right hand, and the one that I got him years ago was getting worn and bent.

I picked out a manly celtic knot ring, and the salesman wrapped it up in their signature box and bag. When we went out for our family dinner, I kept the package hidden until we’d ordered. MaM was bursting to give him the dish she’d painted (to hold his rings), and he opened that first. He was delighted with her offering, and even took his rings off to see how they would fit.

Then I presented him with the box from “the Pink Tower”. It was kind of like one of those cheesy jewelry store commercials, he was shocked and excited at the same time. The ring wasn’t the right size, his size wasn’t in stock. It didn’t matter, he looked and admired and jumped out of his seat to give me a hug and a kiss. And for the rest of the evening, and the rest of the weekend, he randomly thanked me.

I knew he liked it, but I was watching to see what would happen next. He needed to get the ring sized, and I figured that would be the test of whether or not he really liked it. If the ring sat there for weeks, without getting sized, well then, so be it.

Monday night, which was the first chance he had to get to the jewelry store, and he went straight there.

The ring came in a week later, and he now wears it every day.


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“Our School Needs” Bing Contest Voting is Now Open!

A few posts back, I mentioned that we are looking into first grade for the ever-aging MaM. We’ve looked at private schools, and we’ve looked at public schools. And each and every one of those schools “needed” something. In our suburban community, our schools are good. Test scores are respectable, and there’s a lot of parent involvement. But even our schools aren’t immune to this current economic slump. Neither of the two school I’ve most recently toured had a media specialist (librarian). Both schools had a calendar full of fundraisers to cover things either the tuition or tax dollars don’t cover.

Bing is hosting the Our School Needs contest for schools to enter to win a portion of $250,000 prize money. Fifteen finalists are now eligible to receive votes — the first prize is $100k, and the other three prizes are $50k each. You can vote at the Our School Needs website, although I’ll warn you, it’s not easy to choose just one (good thing you get five votes per day, and you can vote every day through Nov. 7). The other great thing is that by being one of the first 30,000 votes every day, you’ll get a $3 donation code to donate to any project listed on It’s win-win for all!  Go click and cast some votes for some great projects today!

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Bing and received a gift card and giving code to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Walkers and Riders May Leave Now

When I started elementary school, I attended the local public school which was within walking distance.

From what I can remember (it was 1979, so it’s a little fuzzy), everybody walked. I don’t even remember a parking lot or car pool line routine — I remember running out of the building, and finding my mom standing on the sidewalk under a particular tree. I also don’t remember it ever raining or snowing, so I’m sure there are more details I’m forgetting. But the point is this — I started my schooling career attending a neighborhood school, walking there most days. I even remember that by second grade, I was walking with a group of kids, and I don’t think there were any grown ups chaperoning!

In the third grade, we moved to an area that was incredibly spread out, and there was NOTHING within walking distance. We did walk to the bus stop every day (our neighborhood wasn’t big enough to justify the school bus driving through it), and kids who lived “in town” did walk to school.  As a matter of fact, there were two dismissals at my second elementary school — the first one, where the secretary announced “Walkers and Riders may leave now”  (meaning kids who could walk, and kids who got picked up by parents) and then a second one for the bus riders. When “Walkers and Riders may leave now” was announced, children proceeded out the school doors and into the great vast world. You either started on your walk home, or you scanned one of the three areas where your car ride might be waiting. There were no carline formations or teachers outside to check to see if you got picked up by the right grown up — as far as I know, no one ever was kidnapped during dismissal.

Flash forward thirty years, and walking to school (or really, anywhere)  is no longer the norm, especially in suburbia. A local community here in Central Indiana even petitioned to have bus service reinstated for children living within walking distance of the school because of the “potential dangers of retention ponds”. As school budgets tighten, more districts may just have to trim their transportation budgets and go back to the days of “safety patrols” (remember those ‘big kids” who would help you cross the street?) so kids can walk to and from school without incident. Here in Indiana, weather is also a factor — as the days grow colder and darker, safe, well-lit walking routes are definitely an issue (I’m not buying the retention pond argument, sorry).

My daughter’s school is 8 miles away via highway, so it’s not a feasible distance to bicycle with two small children. In fact, like most private schools in our area, there is no bus service, which means that each child is transported by their own private car. Surely the environmental impact is a big one, with everyone lining up, engines running, in car line formation. [Fortunately, the school is able to be green in other ways — the children compost, recycle and use regular dishes and glasses (not disposable), so other resources are able to be conserved.]  Children are put into the cars by teachers, and identification is checked if anyone not familiar is sent on a pick up mission. Sometimes I wish it was 1979 again.

If you are able to walk or bike to school, Clorox Green Works has started a program aimed at encouraging families to do just that. Did you know that October is International Walk to School month? In honor of this, Clorox has set up special program to benefit families and their schools — you can check it out on Clorox Green Works’ Facebook Page.There you can register to log your steps, and the top five schools with the most participation will be eligible to win a $5000 grant.

Were you a Walker, A Rider or a Bussed Student back in the day? What do your kids do now?

Disclosure: “I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Clorox GreenWorks and received a $30 thank-you gift certificate.” (the idyllic memory of walking to school unattended is all mine)