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The perfect summer soundtrack

The Perfect Summer Soundtrack

Whether you’re headed out on the open road, relaxing by the pool, or grilling with family and friends, music is an essential part of the summer season. The best way to share and enjoy the songs you like most is to create your very own custom summer soundtrack.

In order to put together a perfect summer soundtrack, remember that it takes time, practice, and, ultimately, a great range of artists and genres to fit your moods and activities. Since today’s hits are sure to be blaring on the radio already, let’s instead focus on some older, less recognizable songs and artists that fit the following typical summer situations:

Road Trip: It may be the ultimate challenge for any musical compilation. You’re in the car, possibly for hours, and music is your one salvation. The good news is that there are countless songs that are sure to put you into the road trip spirit. Here are a few that would make almost any list:

  • “Slow Ride” by Foghat – The name says it all.
  • “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts – A perfect road trip anthem.
  • “Fantastic Voyage” by Coolio – An off-the-beaten-path (pun very intended) suggestion. Will make the drive almost as much fun as the destination!
  • “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley – What could be better for a trip with the guys?
  • For a girls-only weekend, you can’t go wrong with the Lenny Kravitz version of “American Woman.”

Basking in the Sun (and the Down Time): Few things offer the kind of simple pleasure as does basking in the sun. Whether on a beach blanket, on a favorite comfy outdoor chair, or in a hammock, it’s one of the best ways to relax and wind down. So with that laid-back vibe in mind, accompany your well-deserved break with these mellow tunes:

  • “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson – A subtle reminder there’s always a party going on.
  • “Could You Be Loved,” “No Woman, No Cry,” and on and on by Bob Marley – No relaxing afternoon or vacation would be complete without this musical genius.
  • “Summer Wind” by Frank Sinatra. No artist is cooler and no song gives you the feeling of ultimate summer decadence like this one.
  • From “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” and “Margaritaville,” to “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” no one captures the carefree days of summer quite like Jimmy Buffett as he reminds us all to relax and enjoy the ride.
  • For a more current artist to add to your laid-back mix, Jack Johnson is a great albeit not-widely-known pick. Johnson’s folk-rock jams feature poetic lyrics and rhythms that will get everyone nodding along in approval.

Get-Togethers: Summer gives all of us more opportunities to enjoy the company of friends and family with regular get-togethers. This summer, be sure your back yard, porch, or patio is ready with the right music to get everyone in a celebratory mood.

  • “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond – We dare you to find someone who doesn’t know the words, and nothing gets a party going quite like a singalong.
  • They aren’t called The Beach Boys because they’re great for listening to on a rainy day. Their upbeat tracks are perfect background for any summer gathering.
  • Make it a Motown evening with hits from The Temptations, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, or any of your other Hitsville USA favorites.
  • Any of The Beatles’ classics would be perfect for a family and friends get-together. From slower tracks like “Let it Be” and “Yesterday.” to more rocking fare like “Can’t Buy me Love” and “Twist and Shout,” you really can’t go wrong.
  • Having a Family Reunion or just entertaining all the relatives? If so, you simply have to include Sister Sledge’s “We are Family” to the mix!

 

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Super Staycations

Super Staycations

Want a summer break? Need a summer break? But funds are a little low this year?

No fret! It’s time to think outside the box and discover the advantage of taking a summer staycation (i.e., a vacation in which you don’t travel away from home).

Your own backyard and your own hometown both offer some great getaways that you might not have thought of—and which won’t break the bank. They’re easy to plan, inexpensive, and fun, offering great enjoyment for you, your family, and your friends.

Here are some of our favorite staycation ideas:

  • Be a Tourist: Take a trip to your city’s own convention and visitor’s bureau to check out pamphlets on attractions in your area you may have missed or haven’t seen in several years. Ask for recommendations on restaurants you’ve never tried. And inquire about festivals, outdoor concerts, or special activities coming up. You may just see your city through new eyes!
  • Visit Some Furry Friends: When was the last time you went to the zoo? Rather than hurrying around to make sure you see all of the animals, take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the personality quirks of those on your way. You’ll be surprised at how the animals react when different groups come through.
  • Play Copycat: Recreate your favorite vacation spot with a favorite meal, a movie, or a few decorations. It’s funny how just a few tiki cups, paper umbrellas, and a lei can whisk you away to a faraway island without even leaving your own zip code.
  • Host a Movie Night: If you have access to a video projector and sound system, host a backyard movie night by showing a favorite flick onto a projection screen or sheet. Provide popcorn and soda (plus other theatre treats if you’re feeling ambitious) and invite the neighbors to bring their own seating. If you have a pool, even better! A float-in movie is always a big hit.
  • Camp in Your Own Backyard: Set up a tent and sleeping bags right in your backyard. Make s’mores on the grill. Tell stories. And try to identify the major constellations in your night sky. It’s a great way to enjoy the great outdoors without leaving the comforts of home behind!

Have you ever done a staycation? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

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How to wrap a wedding gift (in style!)

How to Wrap a Wedding Gift

They say love is in the details, and certainly no life event is more detail oriented than a wedding. So how is it possible that, after carefully selecting the perfect wedding gift, to create a personalized gift presentation that will surely be noticed?

Enter the American Greetings gift wrap experts, whose knowledge of gift presentation details goes far beyond the traditional paper wrap and bow. They’ve agreed to share some of their favorite ways to present a gift in a beautiful way that befits the elegance of the occasion.

Here are their fun suggestions on how to wrap a wedding gift:

  • Take a hint from the invitation and wrap your present in the wedding theme. The gift table is usually in a prominent place in the reception, so matching the style and colors will definitely be noticed.
  • Use a special keepsake for the nametag. Personalized ornaments, a set of his/her luggage tags, and photo key chains all make memorable accents.
  • Adding a few natural items helps to add some personal flair and reflect the spirit of the season. Slip in a few spring or summer flowers, fall leaves, or glittering decorative snowflakes to gift bags or under ribbons. These items can really add pop to gift envelopes as well!
  • If you’re feeling particularly crafty, wrap your gift in two layers of contrasting wrapping papers. Use an X-ACTO knife to cut out a fun pattern in the upper layer of paper so that the lower layer shows through.
  • Embellish your gift wrap by stamping a design on solid-colored paper or stencil on their new monogram.
  • Layer ribbons of various widths for a customized, personalized look.
  • Present the gift in a beautiful keepsake gift box that they can reuse to save wedding mementoes and photos.
  • Think of themed gifts. Towels in a display box, wine glasses in a tablecloth, picnic supplies in a basket, stationery in a mailbox, coordinating photo albums and frames, and even a scrapbook starter set are all fabulous ways to make the memories of their special event live on for years to come!
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Celebrate you this summer!

Celebrate YOU This Summer!

Chances are, your schedule will probably become pretty hectic this summer. Cookouts, weddings, sporting events, and other get-togethers will fill your days, nights, and weekends. But one thing you must never forget is to make some time for you. Just for you!

One way to make sure this happens is to write it down on a calendar—with a pen. Declare this time as sacred and non-negotiable. After all, there’s no denying we all need a few moments to enjoy some quiet “me” time on our own terms.

Here are a few suggestions on how to make that goal a reality:

  • Backyard Oasis: Sometimes all you need is a glass of lemonade, a hammock, a good book, or an iPod to shut the world out and relax. Be sure to set aside some time each week to just be by yourself and recharge your batteries.
  • Go Retro: Remember the ol’ days of listening to a baseball game on the radio? Relaxing on a veranda swing? Taking a nap? No? Well trust us, it’s worth a try. Every single one of them.
  • Party of One Always Has Fun: When was the last time you got to pick your dinner location, movie, or date activity? Well, it’s high time you took yourself out on a date! If you feel uncomfortable with the idea of dining alone, bring along a book or journal to write in. A few hours of solitude spent seeing a movie or wandering around a museum can also do wonders to calm the spirit.
  • Seasonal shopping: Summer is a great time for scouring outdoor flea markets and farmers’ markets. Take your time looking around and seeing what there is to offer. Ask a collector about their wares or a produce vendor about the proper way to prepare a vegetable you’ve never tried before. You’ll find yourself learning something new while at the same time having fun.
  • Expand your Crafting Education: Speaking of learning something new, have you always wanted to learn how to quilt, quill, or do another classic craft? Check out your local craft store’s class schedule and sign up to get started right away!
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June Birthday Fun Facts

June Birthday Fun Facts

Happy birthday to all the June babies out there! With summer kicking off this month, we hope the warmer weather brings you a sunny birthday!

For those who love to know all about their birth month, here are some awesome June birthday fun facts you might not know:

– June birthdays actually claim two birthstones: pearl and alexandrite, both which are particularly beautiful gemstones that represent loyalty and friendship.

– The flower of June is the rose, which is widely recognized as a symbol of love and/or sympathy (and the American Greetings logo!) June is also National Rose Month! (hmmm… are we seeing a trend here?)

– June is also home to National Candy Month, National Dairy Month, and National Iced Tea Month (great, now we’re thirsty!)

– The famous English tennis tournament, Wimbledon, is played during the month of June.

– The zodiac signs for June are the quick-witted and clever Gemini (May 21-June 20) and the intuitive and sentimental Cancer (June 21-July 22).

– Celebrity birthdays during June include Morgan Freeman (6/1), Wayne Brady (6/2), Angelina Jolie (6/4), Mark Wahlberg (6/5), artist Mary Engelbreit (6/5), Liam Neeson (6/7), Natalie Portman (6/9), Blake Shelton (6/18), Macklemore (6/19), Meryl Streep (6/22), artist Kathy Davis (6/22)and Ariana Grande 6/26).

We hope this next year is full of happiness and excitement, and that your birthday is a blast!

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What to write in a birthday card

What to write in a birthday card

Celebrating a birthday is special, and sending a greeting card is the perfect way to add your wishes to the day. Once you’ve picked out the card, it’s nice to include your own personal message, too. But do you ever have a hard time figuring out what to write in a birthday card? We spent some time with our birthday card experts and put together some tips to help you.

First, you don’t need it to be lengthy—just sincere!  So get your favorite pen ready (pick a colored pen for a fun touch!) and get ready to write!

With your trusty pen at the ready, take some time to think about the recipient and your relationship with them. If it’s a casual friend, but you know what they have planned for their birthday, you can add a special wish such as “I hope your celebration gives you many happy memories to treasure always!” Also, including a compliment is always appreciated. For example, “May your birthday be as special as you are!”  or, “Wishing you all the happiness someone as nice as you deserves!”

If you’re close, you may want to write something more heartfelt. Take some time to think about what they mean to you, what they’ve done for you or your favorite memory of times you’ve shared together. These specific thoughts, emotions and memories are what make each relationship unique. While they might feel a little awkward to say at first, as you get in the habit of writing out your thoughts it will become easier with each card you write. You might want to write a draft on a piece of paper to make sure that the words come out right before you pen your final message on the card.

For an added touch of thoughtfulness, quotes make great birthday card sayings as well. There are many great quotation sites, or you can select one from a favorite book. Here are some that we especially like:

  •  Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others can not keep it from themselves. – Sir James Barrie
  •  And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. – Abraham Lincoln
  •  A friend is, as it were, a second self. – Cicero
  •  You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. – C.S. Lewis
  •  We turn not older with years, but newer every day. – Emily Dickinson
  •  Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! – Henry David Thoreau
  •  A true friend is someone who knows all about you and likes you just the same. – Elbert Hubbard
  •  Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together. – Woodrow Wilson

Keep in mind that a warm closing will bring an extra smile for the birthday person. Besides the tried-and-true Love, you could consider phrases such as Thinking of You, Love Always, Your Friend, or Best Wishes Always. (And, of course, don’t forget to sign your name!)

Need to print a card at home in a hurry? Check out our printable birthday cards! You can customize it with the perfect birthday message using these handy tips!

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The Teacher Who Changed It All: Mickie’s ThankList

I’d wanted to publish a children’s book for as long as I can remember. Books factored largely into my childhood. I would check out 50 of them from the library, read all of them in two weeks, and return them for another pile. I collected books too—Nancy Drew and original hardcover titles from the early 1900s from L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

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For me, there was no greater joy than reading. I thought that creating something which brought so much enjoyment to others must be incredibly fulfilling work.

Years later, when choosing college classes to fulfill my Creative Writing minor, I had to decide between a poetry writing class or a script writing class. The choice was easy—I didn’t want to take either of them! But I had to take one, so I went with poetry, figuring the pieces would be shorter to write. I certainly didn’t envision crafting any epic poems à la The Odyssey or Beowulf or Paradise Lost.

I was nothing short of shocked when I ended up loving the class. Professor Elton Glaser taught me more about words and the art of stringing them together than any other teacher, before or after.

Mr. Glaser told us we should pay close attention to language when writing poetry. Whether employing alliteration or onomatopoeia, assonance or consonance, or any other poetic sound devices, he stressed the importance of always choosing the right words. Mr. Glaser also instructed us that a poem should evoke an image.

In late spring of 2009, when my family was driving to Indianapolis, I started to write a story about a little ghost. He lived in a haunted house and, in order to fall asleep at night, would listen to the various sounds—bats flapping / footsteps tapping… spiders clicking / an old clock ticking…witches cackling / skeletons rattling….black cats hissing / the wind whistling.

I finished a draft over the course of that weekend and spent many months revising…and revising…and revising some more.

In the summer of 2010, I sent the manuscript to a vice president at Random House whom I knew on an email-basis—and she ended up buying it. I was thrilled. My childhood dream had come true!

bedtime for bo

When I heard about American Greetings ThankList initiative—recognizing those people who had helped shape our lives—I thought of Mr. Glaser. I wanted this particular teacher to know how directly he influenced my first (and hopefully not last) original book sale.

And so I emailed him.

And he responded!

He was pleased to hear that something I learned in one of his classes so long ago was able to be used later in life to bring me happiness.

He also asked for two signed copies for his grandchildren. :-)

Now that’s my idea of a happy ending!

– Mickie

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Inspiring Gratitude: A free Mary Engelbreit Printable Quote

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As a part of our #ThankList movement, we’ve reached out and asked our own associates and content partners what they are grateful for. When we asked our dear friend Mary Engelbreit what she’s grateful for, we had a feeling that art would play a major role, but we are just continually impressed by her humility:

{I’m thankful I can draw and that people seem to like those drawings. I’m really thankful for the constant support from the very beginning, not just for my drawing but in every aspect of my life, from my parents and my family.}

In the spirit of inspiring gratitude in others, Mary was kind enough to design this free printable quote for you to print, hang up and enjoy in your own home or office!

Mary Engelbreit Free Printable Gratitude Quote

Download your free printable gratitude quote here!

Feeling inspired to say thank you? Make your ThankList today!

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

From heading up the carpool, to being a shoulder to cry on when you needed it most, a mother’s love and support can’t be measured. They do so much for us and ask for so little in return. So for this Mother’s Day, why not spoil her with some sweets and relaxation? Check out these fabulous Mother’s Day Gift Ideas below for some easy and fun DIY gift ideas that also express all of the TLC mom deserves!

1. Kitchen Tablet Holder by Mamie Jane

Kitchen Tablet Holder by Mamie Jane

2. Easy Mother’s Day Gift: Chocolate Bouquet by Madigan Made

Easy Mother's Day Gift: Chocolate Bouquet by Madigan Made

3. Mason Jar Picture Frame Vase by Home Stories A to Z

Mason Jar Picture Frame Vase by Home Stories A to Z

4. Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub by Here Comes The Sun

Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub by Here Comes The Sun

5. Last, but certainly not least… we couldn’t resist these adorable photo bookmarks by Nearly Crafty… Perfect for both moms and grandmas!

Photo Bookmarks by Nearly Crafty

We hope this helps inspire you to create something extra special to express gratitude this Mother’s Day… Because being a mom really is the #WorldsToughestJob!

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Happy Mother’s Day from Bonnie Marcus

This special Mother’s Day post comes from our dear friend and content partner, Bonnie Marcus!

marcusraw-054 - group in dress kiss color

As a Mother of three, Mother’s Day means many wonderful things to me.

First, I am so grateful to be a Mom and have a wonderful husband and three little boys to celebrate with on this special day.

Second, I am so very thankful to have the most wonderful Mom in the world (in my opinion) to enjoy the special day with as well.

My Mom instilled in me many special values…. to ALWAYS be nice, NEVER give up, follow my PASSIONS, and someday I could be PRESIDENT – all of which has helped me to have the confidence and ability to be “president” of my own design studio!  I am forever grateful to her for instilling such important values in me since I was a young girl.

My favorite gifts to give my family are ones that are treasured long after the holiday is over (like a beautifully designed greeting card : ).

Last year my children surprised me with a very special Mother’s Day gift that continued to give us wonderful presents months after the holiday was over!

On Mother’s Day last year, I had to go to my design studio in the morning to finish up the last pages of my new Fashion Style book. While I was gone, my husband called me and said, “You wouldn’t believe what the boys did for you this year!” As a designer, of course I thought the kids made me a beautiful card or a beautiful piece of artwork, but when I came home, I couldn’t believe my eyes!

FullSizeRender (17)

My husband and the kids had rushed out in the morning to our local gardening store and built me a very special “Mother’s Day Garden” in our yard. From tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant to kale, peppers, dill, parsley, and mint, everything was very well-planned and absolutely beautiful!  Not only did they set up the garden, they also promised to take care of it too!

Over the past year, we have truly been enjoying this very special Mother’s Day gift.  From family gatherings to neighborhood barbecues, everyone loves visiting our beautiful Mother’s Day garden and enjoying the fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs that the boys take pride in picking themselves for every event.  A gift like this not only is wonderful for the recipient, but it is a true treasure for the family as a whole.  In addition, the boys have also developed a new passion for cooking as well, which is a wonderful gift in itself!

I can’t wait to see what they are going to surprise me with this year!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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– Bonnie

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In honor of Nurses Day – She walked with me: Meghan’s ThankList

Today’s ThankList story comes from a member of our social media team who has been very touched by all of the personal stories our fans have shared since we launched the #ThankList movement. She shares this intensely personal story in honor of Nurses Day (May 6) and Nurses Week (May 6-12).

Meghan's ThankList

When I was 29, I had the pleasure of joyfully announcing to my husband (and a little while later, my family) that we were expecting our first child—a baby we had planned for, hoped for and very much wanted. But a little over halfway through my pregnancy, we received a blow we never expected: our beloved child was not going to make it.

To any mothers out there, I don’t think I need to describe to you just how crushed we were. More than five years later, sometimes words still escape me to describe the deep level of heartbreak we experienced during that time.

Our friends and family came to our sides and showed strength and love in our time of need. But each time I’ve thought about my  ThankList, after I mentally run through all of the friends and family who have been there for me over the years, two additional women come to my mind—the two nurses that cared for my sad little family when we had to say goodbye to our beloved daughter.

How do you say thank you to the people who held your hand through something like that? Who guided you through a devastating process of laboring and delivering a baby that was not coming home? Who placed your peaceful baby into your arms, took the only family photos you will ever have and then witnessed your final goodbyes?

The truth? I’m not sure I did say thank you. At least, not adequately. And it’s bothered me for more than 5 years.

I’m sure there were mumbled words. I remember carefully selecting and then trying to write an eloquent thank you note. But if I’m really being honest, I’m not sure I even sent it. I was so traumatized; I cannot remember actually being able to figure out how to apply a stamp and mail it.

However, a few months ago (in what I can only describe as a serendipitous twist of fate) my ThankList moment came.

You see, in the years that passed, I have become dedicated to improving women’s birth experiences and walking with them when they need support. And one such day, I received a phone call from a high school friend who was being induced with a healthy baby boy, but was still apprehensive about how things were going. I offered to come to her side and she accepted.

After talking through her previous experiences with a traumatic miscarriage, how she was feeling about how the induction was going, etc… her nurse entered. We chatted about induction options and how my friend was feeling. And then suddenly I felt compelled to ask her nurse if she knew the two nurses who had cared for me years ago.

{It turns out, she was one of them—standing there right in front of me! The beautiful, generous, kind soul who walked with me in the darkness. Who gently handed me my baby and told me that I had a beautiful daughter. One of the only people in the world who ever got to experience my sweet baby girl and see me—truly see me—as her mother.}

Five years passing allowed me to have the wherewithal to understand what she gave me—the gift of feeling validated as a mother. I can’t imagine the toll it must’ve taken on her to give so much and then turn around and care for other patients. To go home that night, having seen what my family had been through. I hopped right out of my chair, embraced her, and finally had my moment to thank her for what she did for my family.

{I told her that what she did mattered. That the actions she took that day allowed me to have peace with my experience. The peace to not only go on with life, but to help other mothers—and to be comfortable enough with my story to share it with the world.}

There is still one nurse on my list who deserves to hear the words, “thank you” from me—and I’m more determined than ever to make that happen.

ThankList

Meghan today with her two happy, healthy daughters!

Thank you Chantel and the staff of Akron General Medical Center. Your work matters!

I share this story in honor of all of the mothers who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss and the kind people who walk with them in their time of need. Please remember to say thank you to the nurses who have made a difference in your life—even if it takes years to find the words.

-Meghan

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What to Write in a Mother’s Day Card

What to Write in a Mother's Day card

We all know that parenthood is the #WorldsToughestJob… but how can you seize the opportunity Mother’s Day provides in order to recognize all that mom does throughout the year? According to a recent Harris Poll survey, 81% of U.S. adults believe that moms are under-appreciated; yet, 61% of U.S. adults say mom tops the list of who deserves the most gratitude in their life.*

Sure, there are literally thousands of greeting cards available for Mother’s Day– it’s usually not hard to find one for your mom, no matter how unique your relationship is. But writing a personal note might not be as easy. That’s where the creative team at American Greetings comes in.  Before we write cards, we research relationships.  And we’ve narrowed down the complicated, tender, strong, funny, forever love between a mother and child to give you some expert advice on what to write in a Mother’s Day card that perfectly expresses your gratitude for all of mom’s hard work…

Mom to Mom

Once you become a mother yourself, you have a better understanding of what your mom did for you—and now you’re also celebrating her as a grandmother!  Here are some ways to express your thoughts:

For helping you become the mother you are: The highest compliment anyone can give me, Mom, is to say that I’m like you.

For the ways you’ve followed in her footsteps: I see you in things I do, I hear you in things I say—and these are some of the things I’m most proud of.

For all the stages of you’ve been through: From “Mommy” to “Grandma” you’ve always found a way to be amazing at who you are.

Mom as a Friend

Do you consider your mom a friend and confidant?–here are some great ways to express your feelings:

For the Mom you respect as a woman and/or professional: Somewhere along the way, I realized the extraordinary mom raising me was also an extraordinary woman.

For the mom you love to spend time with: You always knew just how to lift my spirits, Mom.  Some things never change.

For the ways your relationship has changed…and stayed the same: My doctor, my hairdresser, my counselor, my friend…I can’t thank you enough for everything, Mom, because “everything” just keeps getting better!

Still Need Your Mom?

If your mom is still the person you count on most, be specific about what you appreciate:

For her words of wisdom: Even if you didn’t think I was listening, I live by your words every day.

For being the one you always turn to: In my heart I have every hug you ever gave me—and sometimes they still get me through.

For the example she sets: Beautiful, loving, understanding, forgiving…that’s you, Mom.  And it’s who I strive to be.

Have you seen our #WorldsToughestJob video? Join the more than 23 million people have viewed our viral sensation. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages and shared with everyone from friends on social media, associates in business presentations, congregations at church services, national and international television audiences and so many more.

*This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of American Greetings from April 14-16, 2015 among 2,055 adults ages 18 and older.

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May birthday fun facts

May Birthday Fun Facts

April showers bring May flowers, so it’s time to go out and enjoy this beautiful month with all the May birthdays! There are also several holidays during the month to increase the joy May brings, including Mother’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Memorial Day! Here are some more cool May birthday fun facts for all the May babies out there:

– May’s flower is the Lily of the Valley, which is a symbol of humility.

– The birthstone of May is the emerald, a strong symbol of success and love.

– The two astrological signs for this month are Taurus (April 20-May 20), which is characterized as dependable and friendly, and Gemini (May 21-June20), who represents versatility and quick wit.

– May is a month of races! The Kentucky Derby is held on the second Sunday of May, while the Indianapolis 500 is also held each year during this month.

– Nationally recognized month-long holidays include National Bike Month and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Several celebrities also have their birthdays in May, so you’re in good company! These include David Beckham, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Adele, George Clooney, Enrique Iglesias, Bono, George Lucas, Tina Fey, Bob Dylan, and Clint Eastwood!

Hope your birthday is as special and beautiful as the blooming flowers!

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Thanks Be to God: Karen’s ThankList

Thanks Be To God: Karen's ThankListBy Maria Isabella

Karen Michelle Miller has many reasons to be thankful. She is loved by a devoted husband and two beautiful daughters. She has a successful career as a gifted author, poet, and motivational speaker. And…she’s a recovering alcoholic/drug addict. Yes, she has much to be thankful for.

“I LIVE for Him, really,” says Karen. “He has given me another chance, and I am NOT going to waste it!”

It was almost exactly 10 years ago to the day that Karen found herself at rock bottom. She was escaping a sad, painful past while avoiding all the uncertainties of tomorrow. Alcohol had helped her cope since the age of 14, then drugs slowly took over. And unhealthy, life-destroying decisions were being made all along the way.

Suddenly, on that decidedly fateful day, while the deepest despair surrounded her, Karen heard a loud voice. “What the hell are you doing?!” it boomed. Karen turned around. To her shock, no one was there.

{“Something told me that voice was shouting down from the heavens to knock some sense into me before it was too late,” she confessed.}

So Karen mustered the little strength she had left and slowly, resolutely pushed aside her feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and self-doubt. She checked herself into a recovery home in order to give sobriety one more try—one last try. For the sake of her daughters.

“I am now 10 years clean and sober,” says Karen, beaming. “I am happy and content. That’s a BIG deal for me.”

Karen and sisters

Karen and her sisters (Photo courtesy of Karen Miller)

 

She goes on to add, “I believe with all my heart that ‘the voice’ I heard [that day] was, in fact, the voice of God. I am now fully committed to being a good mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend…AND to sharing hope with young women who are suffering, particularly from addiction and depression.”

When asked what she would say to God this very moment if she could, without even a moment’s hesitation, Karen replied, “THANK YOU. Please continue to guide me to do YOUR will and not mine.”

We deeply admire and respect Karen for her life-changing efforts and her altruistic determination to make a difference in other women’s lives. Her gratitude to God for all His gifts is just one more perfect example of how ThankList is showcasing the power of love and thankfulness.

Karen Michelle Miller wrote her first poem, featured in her newly released book, Words to Ponder About Life, Love and Men, while residing in a recovery home with 13 other women over 10 years ago. Today, she continues to share her message of hope via her Book, Facebook, and Twitter.

Karen Miller Book: Words to Ponder About Life, Love and Men

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Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Ideas

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Ideas

Teachers play an important role in our children’s success. And while their efforts should be praised every day, Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8) is a great time to call out their achievements and thank them for all they do.  Check out these fun and unique Teacher Appreciation Week gift ideas below to show your gratitude.

1. Teacher Thank You Gift by Our Family Journey

Teacher Thank You Gift by Our Family Journey

2. Back to School Supply Cake by Stephanie Lynn

Back to School Supply Cake by Stephanie Lynn

3. Homemade Teacher Gift: Crayon Monogram by A Mom With A Lesson Plan

Homemade Teacher Gift: Crayon Monogram by A Mom With A Lesson Plan

4. Teacher Appreciation Blooms by Bloom Designs Online / Skip To My Lou

Teacher Appreciation Blooms by Bloom Designs Online / Skip To My Lou

5. DIY Apple Jar Tutorial by The 36th Avenue

DIY Apple Jar Tutorial by The 36th Avenue

6. Teacher Appreciation Gardening Gift by U-Create / Skip To My Lou

Teacher Appreciation Gardening Gift by U-CreateCrafts / Skip To My Lou

7. Paper Cup Apple Gift Wrap by willowday

Paper Cup Apple Gift Wrap by willowday

Have you heard about our ThankList documentary series? Watch what happens when  Waliek and Chaun are given the opportunity to thank the teachers who changed their lives forever.

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