Category Archives: Be-Causes

Buy A Balloon. Help A Child. How Easy Is That?

A dear friend of mine has recently started fostering dogs. I admire her generous heart and am waiting to see if she’ll actually be able to let go of dear, sweet, little Abby when the time comes. Her latest crusade inspired me to dig deep and see if I could do the same thing.

Alas. No.

One cat and one dog is enough for this family. I know that when you foster an animal it eventually finds another home. But after cleaning up not one, not two but three disgusting throw-up piles this morning from a dog that never knows when to leave well enough (from pinecones to candy wrappers to fallen birdseed to whole tennis balls) alone, I’ve decided that fostering animals is not for me.

But there are other ways to help. MyOwnPet Ballons is sponsoring a program right now when you buy one of their balloon animals, and there are many to choose from, $5 will be donated to Canines For Disabled Kids (CDK). CDK is an organization that provides families trained assistance dogs for children with autism, hearing impairments and other disabilities.

If you’re in the market for one of these cute little balloon animals (think party favors) you can purchase them here.

If you want to donate to Canines For Kids directly, go here.

Either way, it’s a win-win.

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Item #174 From The List Of What NOT To Say To An Adopted Child

I know you meant well. I know you were, in your feeble way, trying to make my child feel comfortable.

But you didn’t. You made him feel singled out and confused.

When assigning a Family Tree project and addressing your group of children, just talk to the whole group. Use words like “family” and “parent” and “grandparents” as if everyone in the group has a family and a parent and a grandparent.

Because we do!

We all do. Families form in different ways, to be sure. But you don’t need to single anyone out. Each child will find a way to complete the assignment that fits for him.

And if my son had brown hair and blue eyes like his father you wouldn’t have even considered saying…

Item #174 – “That’s ok, #1son. Just use the information from the parents you live with now.”  And when you saw the confused look on his face (because he understood the assignment until you tried to “clarify”) you go on to say, “Not your real parents but the parents you live with NOW.”

Real parents? Are you kidding me?

We are his real parents. We may not have physically given him his 46 chromosomes but we have given him food, shelter and love from the moment we first held him in our arms.

We were there for his first tooth. We rushed him to the hospital when his fever spiked to 106. We laughed with his infectious laugh. He held our fingers, one in each hand, before falling asleep those precious first few nights. We held him when he cried, when he was sick, when he wanted simple cuddle time.

We took him to pre-school and proudly watched him at his kindergarten graduation with adorable cap and gown. We jumped up and down when he rounded third base to score the winning run. We read with him every night. We worry about every sniffle. We stand on the porch watching him walk two houses down to a friend’s house, hiding behind the pillar, hoping he doesn’t see.

We know to give him his medicine during pollen season. We anticipate his frequent bloody noses when the weather is dry or the pollen is high. We know that he is allergic to certain antibiotics. We have his pediatrician on speed-dial.

We are his real parents. We are as real as it gets. His biological parents made a heartfelt, incredibly difficult decision to allow us to be his real parents. And we will be forever grateful.

Our son has a family. A real family. To call his own. He knows who his parents are. Who his siblings are. Who his grandparents are. Even his great-grandparents. So, no need to explain things to him.

He knows who his real family is.

No need to clarify.

Just wanted to let you know.

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Filed under Be-Causes, family, Soapbox

Never Forget

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An Earth Day Pictorial – Sort of

For all of you Star Wars fans….

For my favorite philosophers…

For my fans who enjoy a little potty humor….

For those of you, like me, who work daily on improving themselves…..

But to everyone, a very happy, healthy Earth Day! (What will you do today to make our Earth a better place?)

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Elephants Like Us Or Why I’m Even More Against Buying Ivory Than Ever Before

I’m catching up on my TiVo. And I finally watched an episode of 60 Minutes about the study of communication between elephants. I was mesmerized. (You can see the full segment here.)

I was mesmerized, but not because I didn’t believe that animals could communicate with each other. It was the depth and breadth elephant communication appears to be.

What moved me most was the death of a baby elephant. (About 7:48 into the clip.) There is footage of other elephants trying to revive the baby. There are sounds of wailing, in panic and despair. And then, scientist Andrea Turkalo speaks of the funeral that the elephants conducted for about 3 days.

Three days.

About the length of an Irish Catholic wake.

The elephants lined up and slowly passed in front of the body, touching it as they did, releasing emotion (because what else could it be?) through wails and cries.

For three days.

Humans can be arrogant. We feel superior over animals. But after watching that segment, there is no denying that animals experience life with an incredible depth of emotion. While referencing the 60 Minutes segment on YouTube I found the following clip of a group of elephants saving a drowning baby elephant.

They panic. They organize. They join forces. They show relief.

An elephant never forgets. And they are more like us, in so many ways, then we’d care to admit.

(For more information and conservation education of elephants visit the Association of Zoos and Aquarium website.)

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Filed under Be-Causes, Deep Thoughts, nature

No Gift For My Birthday? Don’t Worry. I’ve Got The Perfect Idea!

Guess what?

It’s my birthday!

No. Really. It is. Today. My birthday.

Awww, don’t feel bad that you didn’t get me anything. I just sprung it on you – I gave you no time to shop. But you can make it up to me. I have an idea for a really awesome gift for yours truly. Hang on until the end of this post and I’ll let you know what it is.

You have to suffer through this little story first…

I was at the grocery store. Again. My cupboard is bare. (Little old Mother Hubbard that I am.) I have participated in 3 (count ’em, 1-2-3) canned good drives already and it’s only the first of December. So, I was at the grocery store buying “spare” canned goods for the drive this weekend. And I pulled up to a stoplight.

A man is standing there with a cardboard sign, “Stranded. Need Help!”

A woman a few cars up, rolls down her window and hands him a small wad of cash. He takes it. Nods his thanks. I’m sitting in my car with bags of canned goods. I can’t hand him a can. (I’m guessing he doesn’t have a can-opener on him) And I can’t hand him cash.

Well, I could. But I’m a Give-A-Man-A-Fish-He-Eats-For-A-Day-But-Teach-A-Man-To-Fish-He Eats-For-A-Lifetime kind of girl.

And I’m on my way to Starbucks, right across the street. (Spoiled little suburbanite – that’s me!) So, I’ll get him a coffee. It’s cold, wet and rainy. A cup of coffee will warm him up a bit.

I’m waiting in line. And it’s a scene straight out of “Animal House.”

Angel Jane: A cup of coffee? Don’t be such a cheap skate. Get him some food!

Devil Jane: Food? What he really wants is cash to support his meth habit. Put your money away.

Angel Jane: But what if he really needs help?

Devil Jane: There are two churches right down the street. Goodwill around the corner. And a whole host of other charitable organizations just itching to help someone this time of year. AND – you’ve already donated to a bunch of them already. If he needs help, it’s easy to find.

Angel Jane: A little food. What’s the harm in that? Now…how about the protein plate? Apples, cheese, hardboiled egg and grapes. It’s only $4.75!

Devil Jane: A protein plate? Are you kidding? He wants another beer I’m tellin’ ya. Now put your money away!

(I put my $10 back in my wallet and pull out a $20)

Angel Jane: She’s right. A protein plate is silly. And the Turkey/Swiss sandwich is only $5.95. Get that. It’s more filling.

Devil Jane:  He wants cash. For drugs. Put that money back in your wallet!

This goes on for quite a while. The drive-thru line is long. And I’m honestly pulling out a $10, putting it back in my wallet and then pulling out a $20, putting that back and pulling out the $10 again. On and on it goes.

Finally, it’s my turn. I hand the cashier my $20. (Angel Jane won!)

“The woman ahead of you paid for your drink,” the barista says to me, “She wanted me to wish you a Merry Christmas!”

Someone pulled a Random Act of Kindness on Jane! Me! Lil’ ol’ me! Three days before my birthday! Woo-hoo!

“Then I’m really supposed to do this,” I say to the cashier. “Can I please have a turkey sandwich, as well?”

I pay for the sandwich. (Still so stunned that someone bought me a coffee that I don’t think to pay for the car behind me until I’m driving away. Doh!)

And as I’m waiting at the light to cross the intersection I see the police car picking him up. Apparently, stranded beggars are not allowed on this street corner.

So, I tried. And after that whole exchange between Angel me and Devil me I’ve decided Angel me should win. With a sandwich, at least. I will still not hand out cash but what’s the harm in handing someone a sandwich?

And did I tell you it’s my birthday?

Can you guess what I want for my birthday?

(Ah. You know me so well!)

Yes. I’d like all of you to spread a random acts over the weekend. Yes you, Angel Joe, Angel Wendy, Angel Shannon, Angel Elastamom and Angel Steven! No hiding Angel subwow, Angel Lisa, Angel Mel, Angel Jeanne, Angel Rudrip and Angel Gale. C’mon Angels Kenzie and Katybeth and Kristen and Carol. Calling Angel Thoughtsappear, Angel Aiden, Angel Teachergirl, Angel Lynn, Angel Beary, Angel Lies. And even two of my favorite, lovable (and self-proclaimed) curmudgeons Angel Shout and Angel Kitch. No ducking out on this one! (Boy. Aren’t you all sorry you welcomed me back? 😉 )

ALL of you Angel Jane readers out there – c’mon. It’ll be fun! A little joy for a stranger. It doesn’t have to be a cup of (overpriced) coffee. It could be a sandwich. Or loading their groceries while they buckle their kids in the car. Or purchasing a little poinsettia plant and leaving it anonymously on your elderly neighbor’s doorstep. You could make cookies for your local firefighters. Pay the toll for the person behind you or put quarters in the parking meter. Bring some books you’ve already read to a nursing home. Or one of your brilliant ideas. Any charitable act will do!

That’s all I want for my birthday. Because you all know how much I love a little Random Act of Kindess. Nothin’ big. Nothin’ fancy. But something that is sure to put you into the holiday spirit, too!

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Filed under Be-Causes, Completely Random, Holiday, How We Roll, Observations

Christmas In November. Well, Actually I Saw Signs In September But I Refused To Notice.

Halloween is two days behind us. We haven’t even come down off our sugar high and there are candy canes and displays in the grocery stores for fruit cakes and Christmas cookie decorations.

It has always amazed me how early Christmas displays pop up. And I know I sound old when I say this, but the signs seems to be popping up earlier and earlier. Back in my day…..

OK. I really don’t remember what it was like back in the day. I was too excited for Halloween and getting tons of candy and then making it last until Christmas. At least. And because my sister would scarf up her candy within the week and I would carefully and deliberately  ration my own stash — Christmas seemed a long way off.

And it is. 53 days away. But I was out shopping today and from the looks of things, I’d say it’s just around the corner. They’re even playing Christmas carols.

What about Thanksgiving? Or Election Day (today), for that matter? What about living in the moment? Or one day at a time? Why are we rushing things?

Zen-zen, people! Breathe.

I have a friend who refuses to decorate for a holiday until she is actually in the month that the holiday falls. I admire her restraint. I think the stores should follow suit.

But then I remember why the stores are getting ready so early. And that reminds me of the Green Day song “Macy’s Day Parade.”

“Give me something that I need
Satisfaction guaranteed
Because I’m thinking about
A brand new hope
The one I’ve never known
Cause now I know
It’s all that I wanted” – And I find these lyrics particularly interesting, today of all days. I don’t know how the elections are going to turn out in your area but I know in mine, people are ticked. They’re tired of the same-old-same-old from politicians on both sides. They’re disillusioned by the great hope our poor president promised two years ago.

I truly feel for the man. What a mess he has to clean up. A mess many people are expecting him to fix – and him alone. This recession, that was supposed to be over in the summer of 2009, seems far from over. Even if we wanted to celebrate with mass materialism, many people just can’t do it.

And I say? That’s a good thing.

We can blame Macy’s and Publix and the evil bankers on Wall Street. But when it comes right down to it, we’re the ones pulling out our credit cards and signing mortgage loans we have no idea how we’re going to honor. I read an article recently (I wish I remember where, but I don’t. Sorry!) that said 50 years ago the majority of Americans didn’t own homes and car loans were unheard of. You paid cash. You rented until you could put down a hefty down payment on a house. The only credit you used was with your local butcher or milkman.

We’re the ones getting sucked into the merchant’s insistence that we start celebrating (by spending, spending, spending on stuff we don’t need) early.

And we’re the ones who can show a little restraint.

Like my friend.

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Filed under All In A Day's Work, Be-Causes, Music, Observations

A Shout Out To The Socially Responsible

After writing my post yesterday – off the cuff and pushing the publish button as fast as my fingers could because I was so late in posting – I realized I could only name one company, off the top of my head that epitomized social responsibility.

I’m all about the socially responsible. I’m fantastic at boycotting the companies I’m in disagreement with. I want to be just as fantastic at supporting the companies that promote value and values. Social ones, that is.

Yesterday, I mentioned TOMS Shoes.

Love them. The shoes. The company. Great product and purpose.

I did a little research and here are my next top 5 shout outs for social responsibility:

Bodoblankets.com – Another “One to One” company. Quality, gorgeous blankets. And for every one you buy, they’ll donate one to someone in need. They are environmentally conscious and committed to community service.

We Are One Heart: An organization that sell t-shirts with the same phrase. Every time you buy one, one is given to a child in Haiti.

Newman’s Own: The great Paul Newman started this company where 100% of the profits go to worthy charities. To date, they given over $295 million. We love their salsa and Caesar dressing. You can find their products in your local grocery store, too.

Ethos Water: Another easy purchase. My kids like a treat after school and Starbucks is quite convenient for us. But I don’t like to drink caffeine that late in the day. Ethos Water, sold at Starbucks, is committed to providing fresh, clean water to people in developing countries. Granted, just 5 cents a bottle goes to the cause but nickels add up. To date, they have raise $6.2 million of their $10 million humanitarian water grant goal.

Bead for Life: Their catch phrase is “Eradicating poverty one bead at a time.” Beaded jewelry, created by impoverished women from Uganda and around the world, trying to make a better life for their families. The goal is to make the women self-sufficient, independent and able to support themselves within 18 months of entering the program. I’m all about empowerment! Love this program!

Now start clicking! And in the comments section below – add your favorite socially responsible charity. Spread the word and we can all make a difference.

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Please Say That Tyler’s Story Will Change Just One Heart

Yesterday, I posted the faces of Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei in my anger. Angry at them for their callous disregard of our right to privacy. I wanted everyone to see who pushed Tyler Clementi over the edge. I want their faces to be known so that they can’t “just move” to avoid recognition.

Yesterday, I was angry.

Today, I am sad. So very, very sad that a beautiful human being has left this earth. A violinist. A student. A friend. A son.

I want to tell his parents how very, very sorry I am that they lost their son so tragically. I want to tell them I can’t imagine the pain and loss they are suffering. I want to tell them to “just breathe.”

Maybe it’s because of the losses I have endured these past few weeks. Maybe it’s because I lost a dear high school friend to suicide during our first month of college. Maybe I am hoping upon hope that Tyler’s death will be a wake-up call to every amateur videographer out there.

Just maybe.

“Yes, I understand that every life must end, aw-huh,..
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go” – But this was much too soon. And I ache knowing that Tyler felt so desperate, so alone, that he felt his only choice was suicide. And I can only imagine the pain and heartache those close to him (most of all, his parents) are feeling. Such guilt for not helping. Unneccessary guilt, unfounded guilt. But guilt, nonetheless.

“Oh I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands
the ones I love,..
Some folks just have one,
yeah, others, they’ve got none” – I am so blessed to have an amazing support system. And Tyler’s death reminds me of those out there who have precious few in their lives to turn to. I wish my arms were long enough to reach them all.

“Let’s just breathe” – We can only do what we can do. We can love our children with all our might. We can remember those in times of need. We can cling to our spouses, lovers or friends. But some days it’s all we can do to just breathe.

I chose to write about this again today because many of you commented that you were unaware of Tyler’s story. Tyler Clementi deserves more press, more than Ravi and Wei, that is. His is the spirit that was shattered. His is the life that was ended.

Nothing can bring Tyler back. But maybe his story will reach through the internet and touch hearts. Maybe it will turn hearts and change just one soul out there, encouraging kindness, compassion and most of all, privacy.

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Filed under Be-Causes, Music, People, Relating

Free Range, Cage Free Kids. But Not In My Backyard.

Part of my prayers every night include hopes for my children to be safe. Safe when I’m not around. Safe to make sound decisions. Safe from harm.

I don’t worry excessively – well, no more than the average mom. I’m aware of the dangers out there and just pray they don’t happen to my kids.

Switch gears.

I was coming home from dropping my kids off at school a little earlier than usual. And traffic was backed up. Once over the hill, I spot the culprit.

A school bus.

Stopping every few feet.

I kid you not.

I clocked it.

There were three stops in just a smidge over one tenth of a mile.

Back in my day (and yes, we had color TV and drive-thru McDonald’s) we walked to school.

Blocks. And lots of ’em. In fact, in my elementary school I only remember two school buses for the whole school. The rest of us?

We walked. Alone. Well, with friends, usually. Or siblings. But no mom hovering behind the bushes. At least, I didn’t see any. And I know my mom wasn’t hovering. She usually left for work before we did.

Kindergarten through 5th grade. Used those tiny legs of ours and…..walked!

The frustrating journey down our little two lane road this morning reminded me of a blog post I read recently by Gale at Ten Dollar Thoughts. She sends you to this NYT article here and then reminds you/me of a book I wanted to read that you can find here. Statistics can be your friend. Good sound statistics typically puts my mind at ease. And Gale pointed out that according to the NYT article you’d have to leave your child on a street corner for 750,000 hours to even prompt a kidnapping. And with my kid? He wouldn’t go without kicking and screaming, causing such a ruckus the kidnapper probably let go and need a Valium to settle down. I know. We’ve practiced.

Why in the world couldn’t middle-school-age students walk a few feet to meet in the middle? These were not tiny, helpless 5-year-olds boarding the bus. These were able-bodied teens.

We talk about our children’s health. We talk about our children’s safety. We worry. We plan. We strategize. And then we notice overweight kids. And socially stunted children. Anxiety ridden children taking prescription meds.

And we don’t point the finger back at ourselves and say, “Gee. Maybe I should concentrate on raising a more independent child. Maybe I should kick junior off the couch and send him outside to play. Maybe I should take her to the park more often so she can play with children other than her siblings.”

Now, I suppose you’re wondering, Jane, why is it you were driving your kids to school?

Well, I’ll tell you.

We choose a school that is located 15 miles away and doesn’t have bus service. And now I can just hear my friend laughing because when we moved here I told her we searched and searched for a home in a great school district, where our kids can go to school with kids from the same neighborhood. Our boys were 3 and 4 when we moved here and after our older daughter’s public school experience we researched a bit deeper and found a school more suited to our children’s needs and frankly, our values.

It’s a school that encourages independence. Compassion for others. Good health and nutrition. Organic living. Environmental awareness. Respect for other cultures. Embracing our individual, unique differences. A Montessori school.

I wish I lived within walking distance of our child’s school. I wish all the kids in the neighborhood walked together. But in our subdivision alone, I can think of eight different elementary schools used by the families that live here. And those are just the ones off the top of my head.

We are not a culture that values the neighborhood school. We have strayed so far off course in an effort to please everyone. To keep our kids safe. To offer a better education.

And 15 years down the road, I wonder how that decision will bite us in the butt?

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Filed under Be-Causes, children, Soapbox