Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Picture Books To Blow You Away

My background is in books.  

And Children.

Nothing has changed really, I still love both but my particular area of interest in books is the amazing world of picture books.  The quality of story and illustration available once you scratch the surface quite literally blows me away.

When I wrote this post a few weeks ago about buying toys for children, I mentioned the concept of educating children in beauty.  It is something I believe very strongly.  Children are made of body and soul.  We feed the body as best we can.  Make our own baby purées with locally sourced organic ingredients (Oh Yea :-)), spend hours on end poring over ingredient lists on packages in supermarkets, check out suppliers and sell-by dates and restrict such evils as sugar, salt and MSG.   And rightly so.  Our child's nutrition and bodily needs are important and as parents or grandparents, or carers we naturally want to do our best.  

But what about the soul? I'm sure the souls of children in our culture feel like the Who's, shouting 'We're HERE!! We're HERE!!' But nobody can hear them, nobody really believes they're there.  But believing, or not believing something doesn't make it so.  They are here, those souls of our children, and they need to be fed and nourished even more than those precious bodies.  

People might not agree with me here but I detect a crassness that has slipped gradually into children's culture this last two decades.  Children's TV show characters and presenters seem to shout...all the time...all at the same time.  Even the traditionally beautiful children's movies and animation are often filled with double-entendres designed to enhance the stature of block-buster stars rather than capture the enchantment of childhood. (I'm speaking generally, there are always exceptions to be found.)  The same with children's books.  I love looking back at the history of children's illustration and the work of amazing artists like Mabel Lucie Attwell and Arthur Rackham and how they captured beauty and gentleness and the magical world of the childhood psyche. 
Compare that to what sits on today's bookshop shelves...mass produced, computer generated, sometimes bordering on ugly and mostly quite frankly...boring.  I feel so sad that this is all that's being fed to children's minds.  What goes in is what comes out.  If potty humour, early sexualisation (a blog post for another day) and bland and visually uninspiring artwork is what goes into a child's mind...don't expect to churn out great thinkers and philosophers and lovers of truth and beauty at the other end.  That's what I think anyway...and I think I might be right.

But help is at hand...

...Here I am!!

I have picked the most beautiful children's picture books I have come across, both from my work with books, including being a buyer with a substantial budget to spend as I saw fit.  But even more importantly in my years as a mother trying to feed my children's souls with a beauty which reflects the mind of God.

I think you'll love what I am going to show you.  I was going to divide my selection between two posts as there's a lot but I've decided against that as Christmas is in just two weeks and I really want children to receive some of these books.  In fact, I mentioned that a lot of people in the book industry become collectors of children's picture books...a beautiful picture book can sometimes hit the nail on the head for an adult too.


I can't decide how to order my selection so I think I'll just arrange them randomly.
The number below the title of each book is the ISBN to use to search for it.


In No Particular Order..

...May I Present

A Feast Of Truly Beautiful Books.

All the Places to Love

I still haven't managed to read this book aloud to the end for any of my children. I gave my sister a gift of it and she has the same problem.  Nuff said.


The Crown on Your Head

This book is  quite simply a masterpiece. I particularly recommend it as a gift for a family with a child with special needs, health problems or difficulties of any kind.  It triggers healing tears.

Just watch this trailer:

And check out her other gorgeous books, like this one..


Jan Brett Books

( 0399234772)

A lot of Jan Brett's books have a Scandinavian tone and the artwork is beautifully detailed.

Check out her website here for some really different printable colouring pages and activities.


Badger's Parting Gifts

This is the nicest children's book I've come across that deals with the topic of death, particularly that of an elderly person or that of a person who has had a long illness.  I remember reading it after my own mother died and the piece where the author describes the moment of death is just so perfect.  I like that it acknowledges an afterlife too as a lot of children's books dealing with death addresses only the child's loss with no mention of heaven or life after death.  Watch a reading of the book in Japanese here.


The Lonely Doll

I'll be honest about these books.  When I got these for my girls on the basis of the beautiful photographic illustrations, I became quite haunted by them.  There's a ghost-like mysterious element in them which I'm not sure whether Dare Wright intended.  In fact, Dare Wright herself has an ethereal mysterious beauty.  The stories seem to represent something else...but what? In fact while looking for a picture of one of the books I came across this article from the New York Times which by total coincidence exactly describes my feelings about these books.  Our girls love The Lonely Doll...Louise has decided she's Edith, which doesn't surprise me as she's usually up to the same sort of unintentional mischief as her. I will never throw them out.

I'd definitely recommend these for an adult collector too.



This book came out years and years before the animated TV series.  I think the book is better.


Bubbles Before Bed

One Word:



Goodnight Moon
My favourite read-aloud toddler book.

And if you look carefully you'll see that the pictures on the wall link up with another of Margaret Wise Brown's books:

The Runaway Bunny


The Big Big Sea


'I'll always remember just Mama and me and the night that we walked by the big, big sea'



Where The Sunrise Begins 

It's like falling asleep and having a wonderful dream.


No One But You
( 076363848X)

In fact all of Douglas Wood's books are stunning.  
I think Santa might bring a few more this year.


All The World


Step Gently Out
( 0763656011)

These pictures just speak for themselves..


Angel In The Waters

This is probably the most beautiful child's book I have ever seen depicting life before birth.
It will teach your child the preciousness of unborn life in a gentle and effortless way.

You can read the entire book online at Angel In The Waters website.

It's a perfect girt for a pregnant mother.


And Finally...

...Just for me, because I love his books.

(For adult collectors or slightly older children, 
they might be a bit scary for small children 
because they are pretty surreal and dream-like.)
(except Polar Express, that's for small children too.)

Anything By Chris Van Allsburg

He is an amazing illustrator.


Let me know what you think of my selection...have you any favourites you'd like to add?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

How I Didn't Tell My Husband I Ruined My New Boots

I don't really shop for clothes all that often. It takes time and the need to try on clothes with small children in tow tends to transform retail therapy into an experience probably requiring therapy. As well as that, with eight to feed and clothe there's usually plenty of things with a greater call on my funds than shopping trips for myself.

 I have to say I really find it difficult to pay the money that's asked for decent clothes but I still like half decent  things to wear.  As a result I tend to be a bit of a sales and TKMaxx gal. When I lived at home with lots of sisters I was renowned for arriving home sometime in March wielding my latest bargain which I'd picked up at the tail end of the January sales. Back then I was shaped like a hanger with skin on so I was able to avail of the tiny sized clothes reduced from £100 to 99p.

With a slightly more filled out figure of 'contented spread' I can't find those sort of bargains any more but it still sticks in my craw to splash out on clothes.

Sometimes my husband, who incidentally also loves TKMaxx,  suggests to me that I just go into a proper shop and get something good for myself. I've yet to do that so you can imagine my guilty delight when for my birthday this summer he insisted he buy me these:

They're probably the best item of clothing I've ever owned and when I put them on I felt like Cinderella slipping into her glass slipper.

I could hardly wait for autumn to come to start wearing my beautiful new boots. Every so often I'd peep into the box to admire and savour the new leather smell like a child anticipating her new back to school shoes and then carefully pack them away again.

The first few times I stepped out wearing them I'd put them on just before going out and then to keep them good, I'd change into my older boots when I returned home. I never never wear slippers and only own a pair in case of hospital trips and I never wear bare feet either. My shoes go on in the morning and on they stay till bedtime.

Well about the sixth time my new boots had an outing I returned home a little late with a hungry family to prepare dinner for. I can't remember exactly what I made but there were boiled baby potatoes anyway. When they were almost ready I decided they looked a bit boring so I thought I'd fry up some chopped bacon in garlic butter and oil to toss the potatoes in to spruce them up a bit.

Just as I was about to serve the dinner to the table I happened to look down and to my utter horror saw that my boots were completely splatted with bacony, garlicky, greasy, ugly...splats. The soft un-sealed leather had absorbed every bit of oil and one boot was much worse than the other. They were quite simply ruined.

I felt the blood flow from my face as at that moment I heard a familiar key turn in the latch. Oh No!!! How can I tell him what I've done to his present??

I grabbed my magic phone and ran past as quickly as I could before he opened the door and as he walked in he caught a brief glimpse of my tail end guiltily disappear around the upstairs banister. The poor fellow followed me up to say hello and was met with

'WHY are you FOLLOWING me??!!"


Oh my goodness!! The poor fella! He didn't know what he'd done!

"I'm doing something PRIVATE"

 I managed to rasp, now short of hyperventilating with the shock of my predicament. I ignominiously bundled him out of the room before he could spot IT and once he had safely gone down to the children I grasped my magic phone. Click, click, click What am I going to do?? This site, that site, professional them to the then...a tip which looked manageable. Talcum powder.

Carefully following the instructions I liberally sprinkled baby powder from the tub I'd purchased after the tip I read on this funny post about how good it is for removing sand from skin at the beach (it is), wrapped the boots carefully in a towel and hid them in my wardrobe to be checked four hours later. I nonchalantly returned to the dinner wearing my slippers and continued as though nothing had happened.

Four hours later I slipped away to check my boots, unwrapped them and fluffed away the talcum powder to change. Oh no!! In desperation I repeated the process, this time using much more powder and vigorously massaged it into the stains. Wrapped the boots again and left them overnight.

Next day.. boots were good as new!!

So there you have it. Baby powder will not only remove sand from legs at the beach, not only turn your baby into an aromatic puff will also well and truly remove egg from your face.

I told John about three weeks later. Just for the sake of honesty you know.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gifts For Men Link-Up Party

I absolutely love Hallie Lord's blog Moxie Wife.  Today I'm joining in her link-up party she's hosting in response to the difficult task many women seem to have of buying an interesting gift for that special man in their lives.  I know every year my imagination is stretched to capacity in trying to think of what on earth to give my husband, my father and my father-in-law.

I really can't wait to read the other blog posts and glean a few ideas I can unashamedly pass off as my own. Head on over to join the party here when you're finished here. I don't know whether you'll get much inspiration from me, I hope you do!

~Here Goes~

~In no particular order~

Remote Control Helicopter.

I got this for my husband last year and it really was a great hit! The fact that it was for him and not one of the children's toys made a big difference as it was up to him to master the controls.  He genuinely got a lot of fun from it until it had a little crash during the summer.  I think Santa might repeat himself on this one.  I got it from Hawkin's Bazaar which has been one of my favourite sites for quirky gifts for about ten years now.  If you're buying from them, try and get your hands on their printed catalogue.  The inspiration for the company was the hilarious Ellisdon's Catalogue from the 1930s~1970s and I think they have managed to capture the tone.

Gifts Involving a Hint of Inebriation

~ Julöl ~

When John was a student we were friends with a guy in his year who was Swedish.  He introduced us to lots of culinary delights like the very very stinky but yummy Swedish Raclette cheese and the very fun and sociable way of cooking and eating it at the table with the grill of the same name.

I recall a delightful road-trip home from France  one summer carrying an entire raclette cheese in the boot.  Lets just say that in spite of numerous wrappings, we were very happy to arrive home...whiffy.  It doesn't taste so strong though.

Well anyway, back to Julöl, it's a  Swedish Christmas beer that our friend brought over a few times.  We haven't seen him for years and years, I think he's a plastic surgeon somewhere in America now.  About five years ago I was talking to a Swedish girl who was a friend of my sister and I had the sudden inspiration to ask her whether she knew anybody who'd be travelling from Sweden who could bring me over a bottle.  I was in luck as her brother was coming a few days before Christmas.  So Christmas Eve I found myself driving to the middle of nowhere and interrupting a Swedish family baking Christmas Cookies to collect several bottles of Julöl for John.  It comes in lovely Christmassy bottles and John couldn't believe his eyes when he came into the kitchen for Christmas breakfast to find a chilled bottle of this amber delight waiting for him! 

That was definitely a successful present.

Oh, By the way...Patrik...if you're reading us!!

~Brideshead Revisited~

John and my favourite thing to watch together is the 1980s production of Brideshead Revisited.  It's also my favourite book, like, ever.  When I finished reading it I didn't partake in any unnecessary conversation for several days, I needed to ponder.  Well either last year or the year before we were on a christmas outing in Dublin with the children, looking around the magical old backstreets and antique shops when I spotted two champagne saucers just like those used by Charles and Sebastian.

Oh swoon...

We don't manage to knock back quite as much as they got through but it's a real treat to pour some Lidl  prosecco into our Brideshead glasses.  Oh here...I'm off to pour a watch this...I'll be back in a minute...

The boxed set would be a good gift too but we already have it.  Did I mention we love it?  Oh yes, I did mention that.  And Charles...Oh swoon...

~Traquair Ale~

When we lived in Scotland one of our favourite haunts was Traquair House, a place seeped in history of the most exciting type, which you can read here

There is a small specialist brewery attached to the castle and they sell small quantities of Jacobite Ale.  It's not my cup of tea but John likes it so one year I asked some friends who were coming over to bring some I could give him for  Christmas...


Traquair Ale has a very limited availability but another specialist beer or ale might be a good idea. A reader on my Facebook page suggested an enthusiasts membership of a brewers guild, I thought that was a great idea for the right person. 

Gifts Reflecting My Husband's Maturity

~Judge Dredd Mugs~

I bought John a set of four...he loves them...

The same way he loves this...

Which you can buy here.

All Roads Lead to...

While browsing online last year I spotted a sheet of GIFTWRAP for £3.

I bought it for John's Christmas present.

And got it framed...

It was one of the best presents I ever gave him..

As a matter of fact the lady who owns the framing shop told me a man begged and pleaded with her to sell it to him while it was waiting for me to pick it up.  Thank goodness she refused.

A Few More Suggestions 

I asked on my Facebook page for a few suggestions:

Red Letter Day...a day at the Race Track with a Formula 1(or 2) experience. The husband who received this gift was grinning for days.

Simpsons or Football Club paraphernalia.

Swiss Army Knife 

Funny PJs

Gig Tickets

Yearly Pass to a Water Park  
(Clearly this one comes from sunny Australia, not Ireland :-))

Surprise trip to visit an old friend
(I love that one)

A BBQ Cooking course.

(see above)

And finally, the best present I ever gave my father.  Being the eldest of his generation, he owns the >200 year old family  ancestral cottage in Connemara in the the West of Ireland.  It is such an amazing place.

It's the (smaller) little white cottage to the left of the picture here.  It no longer has the thatched roof but is just as magical.  I know it's probably his favourite place in the world.  Well one Summer's day I was sitting in an armchair looking out the door at the dry stone wall and the fuchsia bush and windswept garden with a camera in my hand.  I was just clicking away at the timeless scene when I had the GREAT idea of getting one of the resulting photographs blown up and printed on a canvas for his upcoming 80th birthday.

I have never been so satisfied with any present.  I can't locate the picture in the computer just now but it was just perfect.  He can sit at home in the East and imagine he's sitting in Connemara.

Well I hope that's triggered a few ideas.  I'm heading over to Moxie Wife now to get a few ideas for myself. See you there x

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How To Make Ironing (Sort Of) Fun

I think you can tell from the title of this post there's not going to be anything too profound here today.  Ironing isn't exactly the most philosophically deep topic of discussion.  It is, however, a part of life and because of that it deserves a little look in from time to time.

I don't know anybody who loves ironing. I know lots of people skip it completely, that's fine. Me, I like ironed clothes, they're easier to store and, in my humble opinion, look a bit better and sit nicer when worn. As housekeeping jobs go, along with laundry in general,  it's probably one of my least hated, mainly because it smells lovely.  I don't love it though.   Still, I'd rather do it than not do it because with eight people in the house, ironing as we go would just be too stressful with people rummaging through laundry looking for clean stuff that needs ironed now. Bad and all as we are at timekeeping, we'd never be on time for anything if we had to do that.

I don't mind if I rarely get to the bottom of the bundle as then everything would have to fit into the wardrobes and drawers so my optimum would be a conveyor belt efficiency of equal amounts in the wardrobes, the laundry basket, drying and in the ironing bundle.

That's the theory.

The reality is that ironing is always the job that gets long-fingered.  I'm willing to bet most of you are nodding in agreement.  I know you're supposed to fold things away straight from the drier (if you have one) to reduce the amount of things to be ironed  but with a big workload , that's often long fingered too. In my rush to move onto the next job, I usually just throw everything on top of the bundle barely even sorted. So what I usually end up with is this:

Yes, it's a bit depressing looking at it and looks pretty daunting.  

It doesn't bother me though.

Because I know that with the right conditions this bundle will disappear in (almost) a flash.

Here's what I do...

(1)  I wait until the house is in a moderate to good state of tidiness. This means that I don't connect ironing to mess.  I only iron in a tidy environment and therefore the connotation is more relaxed than overwhelmed.

(2)  I try to enhance the relaxed ambience by lighting a scented candle.  There are lots of gorgeous scented candles on the market but I find that the ones you can buy in the supermarket can be every bit as nice, especially when you're only using it for ironing, not stay-at-home-date-night.  They are often available half price so I stock up then.  This is the supermarket one I really like, it doesn't have that cloying cheap smell the plug-in or spray versions have.

The Glade Christmasy ones are lovely too.

(3)  Here I go again...Music. Sometimes I put on some upbeat fast music, sometimes something more this:

So I can do some thinking.

(4) Set my timer.  I don't know whether you've heard of the organising guru, FlyLady. She is a great believer in using a timer for tasks we don't like. She works under the premise that anybody can do anything for fifteen minutes.  Fifteen minutes a day at our worst job makes it so much more manageable.  Well today I had a bit of time available as a pre-arranged meeting was cancelled, so I set my timer for an hour.

(5) I don't usually do this with my ironing but today I made myself accountable...I posted my self-imposed challenge on my Facebook page.  This made me less likely to start browsing Pinterest half way through my hour and end up drinking coffee instead.

(6) Just DO IT!!  Because I was working against the clock, I put on fast disco music.  I had to not disgrace myself on Facebook so there was a little bit of a 'competitive edge' introduced into the task. For husband's work shirts and pants there needs to be a certain good standard of crispness in the result but for children's t-shirts that are going to be worn out on the street and at this time of year, under a sweater, there's no real need for over-ironing.  A quick run over is perfect. Sing aloud (if you want to) and boogie (I suspect my choice of hip words might be a bit outdated...I'll need to get a few new ones from my big girls!).  It's just amazing how quickly that bundle will disappear before your eyes.

(7) When the hour, or fifteen minutes is up...STOP.  Leave the rest for next time.

(8) Finally...don't stumble at the finishing post.  Put the ironed clothes away.  This is usually my downfall, I move it all upstairs out of sight to put away later.  I can tell you...this is a mistake.  I don't know how many things I've had to re-iron over the years from stuff being strewn in the hurried morning search.

Here's what I managed in my hour...

I'm pretty satisfied with that.

And the basket looks less daunting for the plebs when I inform them they are finishing the rest.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On Empathy

A while I mentioned my mother in passing to an online friend. She commented that she'd love to hear more of my mother's story and maybe I'll write that some day. This piece will mention her but not so much about her life as about how I look back on her last few years.

When my mother became unwell, it was really my first brush with real illness. Nobody close to me had ever died apart from my grandparents, my life had been relatively straightforward and my life's experience didn't really include dealing with sickness or death. Since she passed away in the last few moments of the Great Jubilee Year of 2000, I can say that those things have changed. My life's experience now is definitely MUCH more complex and far-reaching than it was then. For that reason I often often wish I'd had the experiences of multiple pregnancy losses, a lot more experience rearing children, a very worrying pregnancy with a very sick baby, the subsequent hospital visits and most of all the hundreds of conversations I've had on and offline with mothers whose lives are far from straightforward, BEFORE my mother became unwell.

With a diagnosis of cancer or another life threatening condition, along with the whole medical barrage of consequences, there comes hand in hand with it a huge package of emotional and psychological issues which I doubt if most of us are prepared for. The word cancer makes us face the reality of our mortality, the possible mortality of a child opens up to us just how vast the well of human emotion is. I wish I'd known that thirteen years ago.

Long ago when a mother had a miscarriage or a child died, it was often the case that final cuddles weren't even considered. The parents weren't shown the baby, no photographs or footprints were taken. It wasn't mentioned again. I think the thinking behind that was not to cause un-necessary upset to the mother. People thought that if you spoke about the child it would only prolong the grieving, better not to talk about it and get back to normal as soon as possible. There was loss of a small child in my own family in the 1930s or early 40s, I'm not going to write about it out of sensitivity to my extended family but I do know one thing, because my mother told me, that that mother had told her, not talking about the baby did not help her in the slightest. She would have loved to talk but it just wasn't done and she died never having recovered from the terrible sorrow and loss. Thanks be to God, that has greatly changed now and there is a much greater understanding of the value of talking things out, crying, the role music and songs can play...the all encompassing and complex  facets of the psyche of which we are comprised.

Looking back to when my mother was sick, I wish I'd done some things differently. I wish I hadn't tried to jolly her along, or tried to get her to watch this movie, read this book...or said everything was fine. I say this now because I know that when you're worried about something that IS a genuine worry, someone jollying you along doesn't really help. I wish I'd asked her more things, or sat there, or acknowledged more that she was low or worried. I'm not saying I was that bad or heartless, in fact my entire family pulled out all the stops as regards her care and the love she received and as a matter of fact my mother had a lovely death. It's just now that I know more I think I'd have done things a bit differently.

In the immediate aftermath of the funeral I remember being completely preoccupied with the times I'd dropped in to see my mother and didn't 'have time' to sit and have a cup of tea, I had three small children who were still taking naps and my inexperienced parenting methods didn't know much flexibility. So many times when my mother said to out on the kettle my response was I had no time, I had to this, I had to that. One day when I was lamenting that to my husband he said to me: 'What you're regretting is that you weren't perfect. You were a good daughter to your mother and everybody wishes they'd done this or that differently after someone dies but nobody does everything perfectly all the time. Your mother knows that.'

Now if I meet someone who is sick, or bereaved or simply living with the wear and tear of old age I'm much more likely to bring that up and to ask how they're really finding it. When I was younger I'd have run a mile rather than do that. I'm not saying that to say I'm so great but because I guess life's lessons teach you these things. To get inside someone else's heart and have a little look around. That's what empathy is.

A while back I was listening to a phone in radio show with Dr Ray Guarendi, a Catholic psychologist. A woman rang in complaining that her husband, an engineer, had no empathy whereas she on the other hand found herself easily moved to tears at people's sufferings and the sorrows of the world, citing one incident in particular.  That wise doctor turned it around on her.  He asked her what had she done to alleviate the problem she mentioned, she reluctantly said she had done nothing.  On the other hand, it turned out that her her husband with all his lack of empathy had written and sent off a cheque.  Her tears had done nothing whatsoever to ease the suffering of the person she was crying about.  I'm not saying that crying over other people's problems is necessarily useless but sometimes I wonder (and I like the occasional cry myself) whether it's more a form of self indulgence.  Do you remember the character in The Secret Life Of Bees who took on everybody's problems till she finally broke under the weight, all she did was damage herself.  Feeling pity or empathy with a beggar on the street doesn't do much to help them, but maybe to even say hello or smile at them might be the only time that day someone acknowledged that they were human.  And of course, we're all very familiar with the way St. Teresa of Calcutta, in her day, and her nuns continue to hug and touch and hold hands with the lowest of castes.  The difference in dying untouchable to knowing someone believed you were worth that must be incredible.

But empathy which brings about a change in the way we act ourselves is definitely something to be worked on.  Walk a mile and all that.  My husband is a doctor and I know very little of what goes on behind that surgery door.  Doctor patient confidentiality isn't just a nice concept.  Don't ask, don't tell.  In fact a close friend of ours was astonished at my surprise one time when I met her and noticed she was about eight months pregnant. She had presumed that because our two families are friends that John had told me.  He hadn't.  However, I do know that what presents itself in front of him more than anything else is sore throats.  Now we all know how painful a sore throat is and many's the time I've waited impatiently for John to come home with his magic torch and make my sore throat better, only to met with...'It's fine'.   IT'S NOT FINE!!! Even though I don't think he says that to the patients,  I'm always telling him to remember that even if a throat isn't covered in white spots or flaming red to still acknowledge to the patient that he knows it's sore.  Sometimes for a doctor to just say yes I know that's painful will be enough comfort to get someone through, and they'll also go around telling everyone how good a doctor you are :-D

To walk a mile in someone's shoes is not necessarily always needed.  But to just try them on might be well worth it.   Even to say to someone 'It's not easy is it?' can give them the permission so say...''s not..'  What would you like someone to say if you were worried? Then do that for someone.

Finally, just because you feel uncomfortable or awkward doing something isn't a good enough reason not to do it.  I remember after one of my miscarriages a friend of mine dropped in very briefly.  She handed me a beautiful white lilly and just said, 'Oh I bought you this..'  It meant more to me because I knew that though she was a little shy about what to say, she still did that nice thing.

Even a little x or a ♥ on a Facebook status can make all the difference.   Give your time...'I don't have time' is never true.  You'll only regret it some day.  There's a beautiful French song which I love entitled 'Je n'aurais pas le temps' 'I don't have time'.  So makes me think of my mother..

Even if I fly as fast as a bird...Even in a hundred years, I don't have time...

The only thing is...even if I live a hundred years, I'll never have that time back.