How to get the family talking together

How To Have Meaningful Dinnertime Conversations

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How to get the family talking together

Is it difficult to get your family talking at dinner, or at all?

It was a huge challenge to get five kids to settle down and have meaningful dinnertime conversations.  Just getting dinner on the table and everyone there was a win in my book.  But I felt there was more to just feeding them all quickly and moving on to the next activity…and that it would be worth it if I persisted. 

As my kids were growing up, dinner time was often noisy, chaotic, and, well, ‘busy’ would be a good word to describe the normal nightly scene. 

I realized early on that something had to change or it would be time of missed opportunities if I didn’t make some changes. 

My solution to meaningful dinner conversations was from a list of questions I invented myself. 

Now, years later, as we get together and the memories are shared, they are often focused on food and the mealtimes together.

To show the impact of how this tradition of eating dinner together can affect a family, recently as my kids, grand kids and extended family were gathered at our home,  I had to step into the hall to wipe away tears of joy as I listened to the laughter, the easy conversations, and the fun that is now the norm as we eat together.

So, let me ask you this question.

Is it a challenge to get your family together at meal times?

Do they visit and talk to each other at the dinner table?

Or is everyone with their head down looking at their phone, or electronic device; in their ‘own world’?

Are meaningful conversations happening on a regular basis in your home?

If your answer is that you could use some tips and pointers to help you learn How To Have Meaningful Dinnertime Conversations, I’ve got you covered!

Really, with what I’ve prepared for you, this technique makes it so natural to practice this art of conversations, that you’ll consider it a success and be glad you did it.

As dinner times become exceptional, you’ll be amazed at the changes in each person.  You’ll see how they will become better individually as well as a family unit, all because of eating together and having conversations.



It will bring a bond and stronger relationships that wouldn’t have been there. 



I have some tips and tricks on the How’s and Why’s that will benefit you and your family for years to come as you have meaningful dinnertime conversations. 


Tips Such As: 

  • When do you meaningful dinnertime conversations?
  • How do you start them?
  • What do you say to make them worthwhile?
  • How do you get your family to eat meals together regularly? 

Let’s be down-to-earth.  If this is new to your family, it may possibly be a challenge, or a pain in the neck, to start something like this; depending on family personalities. BUT it’s worth it!!! 


So WHY are meaningful dinnertime conversations worth the trouble?

  • Research has shown that families who eat together have more close-knit relationships.
  • There is a lower number of depression and suicidal tendencies in teens and older kids that have had regular meals as a family.
  • Less substance abuse in teens and adults who eat together and hold meaningful discussions. 
  • Vocabulary and education are higher in children who eat together as a family and have conversations. 
  • Bonding and insight that comes from these times bring fond memories and instill a sense of belonging which strengthen relationships.

As I have pointed out from my own experience having very busy kids, all with strong personalities, yet it is worth taking the time to have dinner conversations.


WHAT do I do?

1- It might seem like crickets, you might have a protest, or it might be a cheerful chorus when you announce the FUN new dinner tradition – regardless of the reaction, it will work out, just keep going, and I’ll help you all the way. 

2- Be patient, have a sense of humor and remember the end goal in all of this. Nothing great is accomplished quickly. 


HOW do you start this tradition of meaningful dinnertime conversations?   

1- It really helps to have ground rules set up.  I like to have some that are mandatory, and then let my kids, or grand kids also help set them too.  They usually come up with guidelines that I hadn’t thought of that are very helpful. And it makes them feel ownership in the process.  These are a few I would strongly suggest. 

2- Have a set dinnertime that really needs to be accepted by everyone and held to as much as possible.  If breakfast time works better, than by all means, have that be the meaningful conversation time together.  The point is to have a DAILY set time the family, couple or those doing this together participate in. 

3- Have a basket or place that ALL phones and electronic devices are stored during dinner.  That includes parents devices too. No TV or movies on either, except for a rare occasion of a designated movie night by you. 

4- Make it FUN!!!  As you go about this, my opinion here, at the beginning unless laws are broken and the police need to be called, language or action is disrespectful and vulgar, or there is a home rule blatantly broken – let it slide IF you feel you can.  Of course I’m being a tad bit sarcastic, but when something new is instigated people feel awkward and uncomfortable, acting out in uncooperative ways oftentimes not knowing what else to do.  Just my two cents, you do as best suits your family and situation of course. I wouldn’t tell this to the family.  I would set boundaries as I always do, but not so strict that my end-goal couldn’t be accomplished as the process is started.  As it gets going and everyone adjusts to it, the rules can be reset to a higher standard, if necessary; again depending on the personalities of the family members.  

5- Have a reward for having a successful dinner conversation, for example of 5-7 times in a row.  Maybe a special dessert would be appropriate, such as ice cream sundaes, or donuts, or whatever is best for your family.  


NOW to the FUN part!!! 

The key to cracking that challenge having meaningful dinnertime conversations are my Dinner Conversation Starters

1- Download my FREE printables here,

2- Cut them out and put them in a family jar, bowl or special container to use.

3- Take turns pulling them out and answering the questions


4- One question can be chosen and everyone takes a turn answering the same question; which would be the most beneficial and enlightening to find out what is going on in their life without prying or being perceived as meddling.  And see the different way each looks at the same question, giving you the opportunity as a parent to help each one recognize how wonderful it is to be unique and see things in their own special way.

5- Keep the time SHORT, unless your family wants to go longer.  This will bring them back for more the next night and the next and the next.  It will be perceived as FUN and not a chore if it’s brief and not expected to take all night. 


You will be amazed at the benefits of this small, but very powerful tool to begin the dialogue with your family and have open communication.     Ideas will come for your own questions to add to  the tags I’ve provided.  Your family will have some great suggestions of questions also.  


This game is another resource if you want more options: Table Topics HERE


I’d love to hear your experiences with your family and how it is going to with dinner conversations.  The most important things we do are never easy.  Keep at it, don’t get discouraged and listen for the remarkable answers you will hear as the questions come up during your meal time chats. It will be extraordinary and worth every minute. 

Copyright Carrie Groneman,  A Mother’s Shadow, 2014, 2019

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

how to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

DIY Stenciled Pillowcases

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how to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them

Doing crafts with the kids, grand kids or a youth group is a great way to spend time together and have fun.

However, do you ever wish you could find something they could learn from while participating, was practical, inexpensive and they would actually enjoy making it?

These DIY Stenciled Pillowcases are THE answer!

The stenciling is a great way to teach a new form of art, or how to paint and decorate in a different way. 

Stenciling is easy and the results are always picture-perfect because there is no right or wrong. It’s creative, individual and allows the person to have help with design.

Our family can’t say enough about the STENCILS we used from STENCIL REVOLUTION. to create our pillowcases.

Here’s why Stencil Revolution Stencils are the BEST

  • They are high quality products
  • The kids used them, then the adults, and they held up extremely well!
  • The variety of stencils are huge!
  • There are several options in sizes of the same stencil.
  • The customer service at Stencil Revolution is outstanding!
  • Because of the variety in choice and size of these stencils, the possibilities are in the millions….ok, just wanted to see if you were still reading:) But it’s A LOT!


We first started by letting the kids, my grand kids stencil their own pillowcase.

After giving them a little lesson on how to use the stencils (see my post HERE on stenciling Windsocks for a tutorial and video for more information) and the paint sponges they went to work.

how to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them

It was a wonderful time to watch them be creative, mix the colors and be imaginative on how they wanted to express them-self on their very own to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift


No technology.  No television.  We talked, laughed, shared stories and PLAYED by learning and trying something to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them

And the result….

WOW!  That’s really cool!!!

how to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them

Love those happy, proud faces when they see how they accomplished something amazing and finish a to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them

To make your own DIY Stenciled Pillowcases for youself, or with your family, here is a list of what you’ll need –



FIRST visit Stencil Revolution HERE and choose the stencils you want for you project. They have SO many quality options for you in various sizes too!  The shipping is extremely quick and if you have any questions at all during your check out process, the friendly and helpful staff are there to help you all the way!


Pillowcases such as THESE

Plastic Paint Tray Palettes like THESE

Acrylic Paint like THIS

Round Sponge Brushes like THIS

Paint Brushes for those small details and to personalize – optional, like THESE

Painters Tape – optional, like THIS

Disposable Table Covers, THIS is a pack of 4



Tawni, my daughter-in-law aka one of the mom’s, wanted to make a pillowcase for her toddler son, my youngest grandson.  She did a marvelous job using the small dinosaurs STENCIL REVOLUTION Stencils!

how to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them

w to easily make them and ways to gift them

As I mentioned at the beginning, these will make ideal gifts.  HOW?

First I need to show you this –

My husband Stan using the BUTTERFLY STENCIL REVOLUTION  

and paint sponge made this adorable to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them

After quickly and easily painting the stencil his butterfly looked like this on the pillowcase.  how to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them

He also made a vine and then it turned out like this:how to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them

I LOVE how it turned out!!! 

For a gifted pillowcase, it doesn’t need complicated, or involved. It can be simple, quick for you to make, but look extraordinary and considered the best gift they have received because it’s practical and needed!

how to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them



  • Let the family, or extended family, make their own for an activity to spend time together
  • To have their own on campouts
  • To take on a trip, or reunion
  • For a birthday gift
  • For a graduate’s gift – high school or college, it would be a wonderful gift  You could use the STATE STENCIL for where they are going to school, or the SPORTS STENCIL if they have a favorite, or put in their name with these LETTER STENCILS
  • For a bridal shower, the new bride would really think this was special to have a pillowcase or two with any of these WEDDING STENCILS painted on them.

The ideas are in the billions!!!

Here’s how one of the kids pillowcases turned out –how to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them

And another one-

how to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them

And lastly this one!!!

how to use stencils on a pillowcase with kids, for yourself, or a gift

How to easily make them and ways to gift them

ow to easily make them and ways to gift them

I hope you’ll send your pictures of what you make with STENCIL REVOLUTION products so we can see what you’ve made.  Share with us at: A Mother’s Shadow on Instagram, the blog and FB too.  We want to thank STENCIL REVOLUTION for their generosity.  We all had such a great time making these Pillowcases together!

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2018
Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.


Banana's Dipped in Chocolate

Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops

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Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops

Chocolate Dipped Banana’s to make frozen pops

I loved making these Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops for my kids while they were growing up and then teaching them how to make them as they learned to cook.  

Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops are perfect for a hot day, or any time family and friends get together.

Besides being very economical , they are so simply and quick, it’s a great treat or snack to whip up; and who doesn’t love chocolate!

Dipping the Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops in sprinkles, nuts, whatever you’d like makes them special to your taste.  Freeze extra to have on hand for a frozen tasty dessert. 

Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops


6 -8 large bananas  (use bananas that are ripe, but firm and not too ripe – see picture below)

1 bag of semi sweet or milk chocolate chips

1 Tbl. shortening

Toppings:  sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut (toasted makes it better) or whatever you’d like

craft sticks aka Popsicle sticks




Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper

Chocolate Banana Pops

Cut the bananas in half , or in chunks about 3 inches in length, which is actually easier for dipping and eating.

Chocolate Banana PopsMake a small slit in 3 places at the cut end of the banana to make it easier to peel. Chocolate Banana Pops

Place stick in end of the banana, pushing in about half way through to make it secure.

If cutting into chunks, push craft stick almost through the banana piece.


Chocolate Banana PopsPlace bananas in freezer to help them be a bit more firm when dipping. While the bananas are in the freezer, pour the chocolate chips into a microwavable bowl, along with the shortening.Heat the chocolate chips and shortening for 30 seconds, stir and repeat a few times until the chocolate is melted and smooth. **Do not over heat as this will make the chocolate clumpy and not usable for this recipe.When the chocolate is melted, take the bananas out of the freezer, and one at a time, roll in the bowl of melted chocolate using a spatula to help coat the banana with chocolate, scrapping of a bit of chocolate if it is too thick.Chocolate Banana Pops

Roll in desired toppings, or leave plain.  

Chocolate Banana PopsPlace the bananas back in the freezer to firm up as each one is coated.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Enjoy now while the center is still soft, or place in a zip-lock freezer bag to eat later.                                                                                                                                               Some like the frozen bananas straight from the freezer and some like to let them sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to soften a bit making the center of the banana creamy and like ice cream. Either way, ENJOY!!!

Recipe by Carrie Groneman, Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, 2018
Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

Homemade Bird Feeders Kids Can Make

2 Summer Bird Feeders and DIY Binoculars

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DIY Summer Bird Feeders

Kids DIY Homemade bird feeders and Binoculars

2 Summer Bird Feeders and DIY Binoculars

Here BIRDIE, birdie!

Spring is here and time to get out and enjoy the season as friends and family. 

I have simple binoculars the kids can make out of toilet paper rolls to go bird watching.

Also EASY and FUN bird feeders to bring the feathered friends to your yard that the kids can make as a family activity, or craft time.  You’ll love how easy they come together.  Then watch all the different kinds of birds that come to eat.  If you are looking for more ideas, this ORANGE BOWL FEEDER is great, and so is this ICE CREAM CONE FEEDER

While making the bird feeders and binoculars take the opportunity to teach about the different types of birds that are in your area.  You could look at the library, or pictures on the internet to show pictures, flight patterns to older kids and really have some FUN!    





Cheerio Chain Bird Feeder


  • Pipe Cleaner
  • Cherrios
  • Ribbon, yarn or string

 Directions: Have children thread cheerios onto pipe cleaner, leaving room to twist ends together to form a circle. Repeat, except loop through other circle before twisting ends, forming a link.

Do as many links as desired. Tie a ribbon, yarn or string onto an end loop and hang.

DIY Summer Bird Feeders

Bagel Bird Feeder 

( from:  The National Audubon Society)

Materials: • stale bagels • peanut butter • bird seed • string or yarn

Tie yarn or string around the bagel.

Slather stale bagel with peanut butter.

Roll in birdseed.

Hang from a tree.

TIPS: • Place your bird feeders in places that aren’t too windy, have good cover nearby, and minimize other hazards. 

Fill your bird feeders with the amount of food that can be eaten in 2-3 days. 

Keep your feeders and feeding area clean by raking up spilled seed under them and wiping off permanent feeders.

Provide water at your feeding area. Place a clay saucer that’s at least 24 inches on a low stump or on the ground, and fill it with about 1 1/2 inches of water.

Refill it every few days.

DIY Summer Bird Feeders        

 Bird Watching Binoculars

Gather up some empty toilet paper rolls, or cut paper towel rolls into segments. 

Glue rolls together.

1-punch holes

2- tie with string

3- paint or use stickers

4- go bird watching!

DIY Summer Bird Feeders

Bird Watching Binoculars

I did some shopping for you and to make it easier you can click on these titles and go to the products


Kids Craft Bird House to build together

Kids Bird Watching Binoculars 

Copyright Carrie Groneman,  A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, 2019

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today

Easy Valentine Cookie Pops

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Easy Valentine Cookie Pop

Quick and Valentine Cookie Pop

 Hey busy mom’s here is a great last minute treat for the kiddos to take to school, you or your sweetie to take to the office or to the neighbors. Also PERFECT way for your family to spend a little time together making and decorating these together as a treat or dessert!

Easy Valentine Cookie Pops


1 package Pillsbury Ready to Bake refrigerated sugar cookies (makes 24 cookies)

24 pop-sickle sticks/craft sticks – wide or narrow

1 container Pillsbury readymade frosting

M&M’s, candy,

Wilton sprinkles or other brands, whatever you desire for decorationsValentine Cookie Pops 1


Heat oven to 350 degrees, according to cookie package directions.

Prepare pan, using parchment if desired. Again, according to cookie package directions.

Take one piece of the cookie dough and using a pop-sickle/craft stick place it into the center and push in about 2/3 of the way through.Valentine Cookie Pops 2Place 6 cookies with sticks alternating on cookie sheet as shown.Valentine Cookie Pops 3When cookies are cooked, allow to cool. Frost and decorate as desired.Valentine Cookie PopsIdea from the Betty Crocker Website

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.


Make time for family and teach

The Nativity: Jesus Christ, Our Savior’s Birth

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Make time for family and teach

The Nativity: Jesus Christ, Our Savior’s Birth

1- Down load the family chart HERE which is editable/fill-in so you can keep track of which family member has participated how and when. It’s a great way to keep track of assignments during family time and family home evening
Chart for Family time
2- Read through the lesson ahead of time, as well as provide support to all participating so they can be prepared. It may be helpful to young children or those needing extra guidance, to be ready with their part of the Family Time-Family Home Evening (FHE) Lesson so everyone can feel needed and successful.
3- Print of any pictures, coloring pages, etc., that you will be using during the lesson.
4- Here’s a big secret I’ve used with raising 5 kids and having Family Home Evenings.  Of course a treat is NOT necessary, but it IS a great help.  My biggest trick…ssshhhh…. keep a hidden purchased bag of candy or cookies that everyone likes as a backup, just in case there isn’t time to make a dessert.  I know it isn’t necessary to have something, but it’s easy to use it as an excuse for some reason sometimes. Having a treat, some fruit, something everyone likes, goes a long way in getting everyone together 🙂
5- Most important! Remember that not everyone is going to be cooperative and supportive all of the time.  But keep at it.  This is one of the most valuable and long-lasting ways you can spend your time with your family. Let discussions and conversations flow naturally. It will bring a spirit of cooperation, love and long lasting relationships like nothing else can.


The Nativity: Jesus Christ, Our Savior’s Birth
1- Begin with a SONG: (you can sing along with just the music or the music and voices, as you click on the tabs provided)
The Nativity Song   Children’s’ SongBook  Click on the song title and choose music, or music and vocal
2- Opening PRAYER:   Take turns, or whoever is most comfortable saying a prayer
3- Ask this QUESTION:
1- Why do we need a Savior, or Jesus Christ? 
2- Why was it important that He was born and came to earth anyway?
4- Watch this video 

4 – SCRIPTURES: Luke 2:1-7 King James Version

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.


5- Show this Video:

Mary taught her son Jesus to pray as parents do. She knew he, and all her children had much to accomplish here on earth.  Of course our Savior had the greatest mission of ALL.  We must try every day to follow Him and be like Him.
“(Mary)…kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19)

Jesus learned to work alongside Joseph to be a carpenter  (Mark 6:3) 

Jesus learned and studied many subjects including the scriptures. He understood them so well, that he taught the most knowledgeable men gathering in the temple as they did in the day to discuss and learn the scriptures. 
Luke 2:
40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.

42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.

43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.

44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among theirkinsfolk and acquaintance.

45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.

46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

Luke 2: 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature (took care of his body, and in favour with God and man.
Notice this verse includes: spiritual, physical, mental and emotional

Jesus took on His mission of teaching of His Father, God, Heavenly Father – who is the same for us, living a perfect life and being the example in all ways; so that we can go back to live with Him and our Father again.
Because He chose to be selfless, overcome the temptations of the world and loves us, He atoned for our sins, died and was resurrected and lives.  He gives us the opportunity to repent, change and be like Him more every day because of His GREAT LOVE for every single one of us – You and me.  He knows each person by name, individually. All He asks is that we follow His example and do the very best we can. 
1- I have given you an example, John 13:15.
2- I am the way, the truth, and the life, John 14:6.
Discuss the two scriptures and these two statements:
Through Jesus’ Atonement and Resurrection, those who repent of their sins and obey God’s commandments can live eternally with Jesus and the Father
Jesus Christ is the greatest being to be born on this earth. His life is the perfect example of how all mankind should live.
8- Closing Listening to one, or both of these songs, is a wonderful way to end this lesson.


8- Closing PRAYER 
9- Treat of choice
10 –  I hope you will visit the 25 Ways, 25 Days #LightTheWorld 2017 and consider participating in the  #LightTheWorld   with me and all of us at A Mother’s Shadow.  Even if it’s already begun, that’s OK!  Jump in, or catch up.  It’s a wonderful experience that will change your family forever. 
Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2017
Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today

A fun activity for families to express gratitude and also for each other

Help Your Family LIKE Each Other!

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A fun activity for families to express gratitude and also for each other

A great way to express gratitude for what they have and also for each family member as individuals

Help Your Family LIKE Each Other!

Help your family like each other, or actually acknowledge they like each other with this easy and fabulous activity!

Families are the most important group or unit there is.

BUT getting each one to express, or say nice things to the others, often turns into silliness, or other off-topics because of awkwardness.

However, it is critical and the foundation of the home that every person knows that each one in the family does love and values them.

This activity provides that opportunity in a fun and natural way.

You can have a treat, such as small candy and after each leaf is filled out with meaningful content, the candy is awarded.  Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes with certain personalities to help them overcome their shyness/embarrassment of showing emotion/etc.

Teaching sincere kindness and service to another person is more valuable than any treasure on earth and it begins at home. This is service in the highest form, letting those closes know how you sincerely feel in GOOD and positive ways.

This attribute of recognizing the best in others and finding their strengths, is an investment of time and energy on your part.  Yet it will be a skill your family members will use to become better, which will benefit them for the rest of their life.

showing gratitude is easy

Easy way to express gratitude for blessings and to family members



1- The first part of the activity, each person writes down what they are thankful for.

2- The second part in a fun way, helps bring attention to every member of your family.  It identifies how each person is a unique and special blessing to the other individuals and to the family.

  • Sometimes in our family, life gets so hectic and crazy that it is easy to forget to let each other know how much we much value them.
  • Siblings don’t often know how to tell each other what they like and appreciate about the other(s). 

This is a very simple and wonderful activity that can hang up in your home as a reminder, or in the family member’s room, and bring constructive results you might have never expected or had otherwise.

It’s So Simple!


You’ll want to print off the the two printables HERE – one per person

A Mother's Shadow

A Mother’s Shadow






I’ll explain and then you can decide how many leaves you may want:

A Mother's Shadow

A Mother’s Shadow







12″ x 12″  cardstock, optional – this is a great pack to look at

Glue dots or Glue-Stick

Thin Sharpies like this pack to give options so the writing will show up easily on the leaves

Clip boards, I LOVE having these on hand for all sorts of reasons, but you’ll see how I use them here

Let’s get started!

1- Explain to your family that fall, or November in the United States as we celebrate Thanksgiving,  so it’s natural time to express gratitude.

In many in other parts of the world it is also a time to celebrate Thankfulness and Gratitude. 

Regardless of where we live, or if we participate in the traditional Thanksgiving festivity, this is a tremendous activity for all of the family to spend a few minutes together and be NICE:)

Help Your Family LIKE Each Other!

Easy way to express gratitude for blessings and to family members

2- Everyone is given the ‘I am Grateful For’ paper that has a  leaf border with lines to write on.



3- Then ask your family to write whatever they are thankful for and grateful for in their life (ok…have them keep it off the ‘too silly’ radar, bribery aka rewards with a treat at the end really helps). 

I would begin brainstorming together so it is thoughtful and they dig a little deeper than things like: I am thankful for my phone, Wii, etc.  Get them to think of the ‘real’ stuff in life.  You might want to begin with things you are thankful for: sunrises and sunsets that I am able to see with my eyes, the breeze on my face because that means I have a body, knowing there is a God and He loves me.  You can help get the conversation going as you dig deep yourself and learn new things about your family.


4- Now, you can pre-cut out the leaves if your children are young, or have them cut them out if they are old enough during this activity all depending on the ages of your family members. If you are going to be short on time, you might want to pre-cut them yourself and have them ready.

Have enough leaves for every person to be able to write on ONE leaf to each person in the family.  For example:  I would write on a leaf to my handsome hubby Stan, and when my kids were all home, that would be five, so I would need six leaves for me, six for Stan and six for each of my five kids = a total of 42 leaves. There are 4 leaves on a page, so I would print out 11 pages, leaving a few extra for just in case we needed them.


5-  Now for the next extraordinary and eye-opening experience of this very worthwhile time together as a family.

  • Have one person be the focus, or spotlight at a time. IMPORTANT STEP!


  • For the model here, let’s say we are focusing on Stan.  He would be a bit embarrassed as the rest of us choose any leaf we wanted, pick a sharpie using a color that will stand out on the leaf, and wrote to dad/hubby/grandpa/uncle/friend (see how many uses this has!) an example of what we are thankful about for him.  We want to encourage specifics so that it’s not: he’s a great dad, he’s nice, etc.  If your children are too young, or there are other circumstances requiring assistance, write for them. 

This is where I love using the clip boards to put the leaf on to write to hold it and not risk any bleeding through onto my table, a book underneath or even denting my table by pushing with a pen. 

  • Too many times we generalize and each of us tend to feel not special, too ordinary, possibly not even wanted in our own family.  This activity can bring in tender feelings and incidents to mend hurts, soften relationships and stop sibling quarreling too – at least during this:) 


  • IMPORTANT!!!  Stop anything that might even start an argument or quarrel.  Do NOT let sarcasm or the slightest bit of criticism be in this activity AT ALL!!!!  


  • Pass the leaf to that person and then onto the next person, until everyone has been ‘spotlighted’ with a leaf.

Since the leaves are not large it isn’t intimidating to write something kind, nice and SINCERE.

*****You can write on the leaves once, or do this as a weekly activity during the month and keep adding leaves on the paper, or attach to a ribbon, on the closet door, the options are endless!

Help Your Family LIKE Each Other!

Easy way to express gratitude for blessings and to family members

6- When all the leaves have been written on, now it’s time to assemble.

Have the glue dots or glue sticks ready. 

Now it’s time to attach the bordered ‘I Am Grateful For’ paper to the center of the larger plain paper  as shown below


7- The fun really begins as each person attaches the leaves around THEIR paper with the leaves that the OTHERS have written on! 

You can see the examples here.  

Help Your Family LIKE Each Other!

Easy way to express gratitude for blessings and to family members

I want to give a HUGE thank you to the Woll family for doing this tutorial, and allowing us to share their experience with us. 

You can see for yourself what a fabulous family they are! 

I am so GRATEFUL for their friendship!!! 

Help Your Family LIKE Each Other!

Easy way to express gratitude for blessings and to family members

You might also enjoy my Family Time-Family Home Evening (FHE) series as well as many other topics!

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today

Asian Inspired BBQ Chicken

Barbecued Asian Chicken Thighs

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Asian Inspired BBQ Chicken

Flavorful, Tender and Tasty BBQ Asian Chicken Thighs

This little recipe of mine has just the right balance of flavors and the chicken thighs come out so tender and moist. I think you will really enjoy how easy this is to make, and how amazing the taste is too!

I also have some tips for you when working with chicken – just in case you might want them:) 



4-5 lbs. chicken thighs; boneless, skinless  

2 Tbl. grated ginger root

2 Tbl. garlic, minced or chopped

1/2 cup sweet chili sauce

1/4 cup oyster sauce

2 Tbl. hoisin sauce

3 Tbl. fish sauce, optional

1 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup lime juice 


Combine all the ingredients, except the chicken, in a gallon zip lock bag.

Squish a bit to mix well. Drop the chicken in to the marinade.

Notice my tip of lining the drinking picture to hold the bag steady.Barbecued Asian Chicken Thighs 1

Flip the bag over a few times to evenly distribute the marinade with the meat.

Place in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours, flipping 2 times during the marinading time.Barbecued Asian Chicken Thighs 2When ready to cook, heat barbeque grill to medium-low. Barbecued Asian Chicken Thighs 3Place meat on grill and cook turning frequently until chicken is cooked through.

Place meat on a plate or on a tray, cover with tin foil and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve.

*When choosing fresh ginger root, make sure it is firm and not wrinkled. You can/allowed to break off the section or length desired; you do not have to purchase a larger piece than you need.

Peel with a vegetable peeler or with a knife then grate on a grater.  If  it’s juicy when grating, you know it’s fresh.Barbecued Asian Chicken Thighs 4**This marinade lends itself perfectly to chicken due to its slightly salty ingredients which fill the cells of the meat so that when it cooks it releases the excess liquid maintaining moist and tender meat; even when using boneless and skinless thighs.  


  • When working with chicken, know that there are special ways to handle the meat so as not to risk bacteria or contamination.
  •   Once you touch the raw meat with your hands or any utensils, or any areas, do NOT touch anything else, until proper cleaning with hot water and soap, or diluted clorox with water to avoid contaminated which could lead to sickness.
  •   After placing the chicken in the marinade do NOT taste the marinade, or use it for any other purpose, discard it. It now has the same risk for illness due to the raw meat in the sauce.
  •   Cook chicken to a proper temperature using a meat thermometer, or until there is no longer any pink in the meat – however, this does not mean you must overcook for dry meat.
  •   Clean your hands, kitchen counter, sink, cutting board, utensils or anything else that has come into contact with the raw chicken with Clorox diluted with water to sterilize and kill all the bacteria.
  •   As you grill the chicken, use separate tongs, or utensil of choice, to turn the raw meat and when the meat is cooked through to then take off heat. Do NOT put cooked meat on the same platter you had the raw meat on, unless it has been sterilized.


Recipe by Carrie Groneman, Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow. 2013

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.