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.

Pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips

BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips

Best soft pumpkin chocolate chip cookies


These are just the BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!


They are family proven to be the favorite, and made over and again, year after year.


Because this recipe for the BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies stay soft, tender and moist, full of flavor, they scream of fall; and yet they are scrumptious anytime of the year.

They are an easy homemade from scratch cookie, you’ll make often and they freeze great too.


BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


2 2/3 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter (the real thing) softened, not melted

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

15 oz  can solid pack pumpkin 

2 eggs

1  1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 – 1  1/4 cups chocolate chips  


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. 

In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Into the butter and sugar creamed mixture, add in the eggs and mix well.To this same mixture, add in pumpkin and vanilla; beat until light and creamy.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now, add in the dry mixture to the creamed mixture and mix just until blended.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gently stir in chocolate chips.

BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment lined cookie sheet.

BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bake for approx. 12 minutes or until touching the tops does not indent the cookie.

Let the cookies sit on the baking pan another 2-3 minutes, then carefully remove from pan and cool on racks.  

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Store in tight sealing container.

Pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips

Best soft pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, 2018

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.


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

Ways to help a person or family when tragedy, illness or hardship strikes their home. What to say, not to say, what to do and more

Helping A Sick Friend and Comforting In Heartbreak

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ways to help a person or family when tragedy, illness or hardship strikes their home. What to say, not to say, what to do and more

What do I say, or do when I want to help and give service?

Helping A Sick Friend and Comforting In Heartbreak

Have you ever been sick, or caring for someone and needed some some extra help? 

Or had someone close to you, who you knew could use a lending hand in some way, but you wondered what to do that would be comforting and useful?

Helping A Sick Friend and Comforting In Heartbreak is one of the most thoughtful and rewarding things we can do. 

However, too often we shy away and not do anything, because we may not know what to say, or what to do, or how to best give service.

So that we can bring relief to the weary who are physically drained from caring for their family and loved ones; and comfort those who’s heart is breaking from any type of tragic and adverse situation, I have put together some resources to guide us in being a true comfort, such as:

  • How can you help a friend who is overcoming a loss from suicide, infant death, pet loss, or any other situation of deep mourning. 
  • What do we say, or not say?
  • How can we actually help without saying the cliche: “Let me know what I can do”?  and then do nothing….
  • What can we do to show we care that is meaningful and helpful? 

As you read on, you will find there are several excellent ideas here; however, the secret is to act and reach out.  They will greatly appreciate your kindness and show of support, in often unspoken words. Just do the best you can and serve.


Mourn with those that mourn

Have you ever experienced a trial or hardship that was extremely difficult, though maybe not as recognized as a disease or accident?  I think we all have, and during those times, we still need an encouraging word of reassurance and friendship.

During a particularly difficult time, Natalie delivered this card to me shown just below, and it filled the heart with joy.   

To find beautiful cards like this, Natalie’s link is HERE 

You can also download a free THINKING OF YOU CARD  here

Being there to lift another’s burden by simply saying you are there as a friend is priceless. Remember, a ‘real’ card is never out of style. 


You will find many more ideas of how you can help in useful and creative ways, including a SUNSHINE GIFT for all ages at the end of this post.

Ways to help a person or family when tragedy, illness or hardship strikes their home. What to say, not to say, what to do and more

What do I say, or do when I want to help and give service?


In distressing circumstances what do you say– or not say?  

There are numerous conditions under which a person or a family could use help.

  • Severe handicap
  • Mental Illness
  • A loved one chose suicide
  • A death, whether old, young or newborn
  • Terminal illness
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • New baby (adopted and foster are just as much of an adjustment)
  • Job loss – long term, or repeated can be very disheartening


1- Now that we identified WHEN to help –

2- WHAT can we do if it’s not obvious?

3- Look hard and pray about HOW to help.  Here’s an example from my own experience.

Some years back, a family in our neighborhood had a very young son who was diagnosed with cancer. Needless to say, it was a scary and trying time for also their extended family and those of us in the neighborhood who knew and cared about them.

I wanted to somehow be a benefit, but I wasn’t sure what to do, so I included it in my prayers that I’d know how to help.

After prying a little one day, I found out that the mom did not have the extra means to buy food from the cafeteria while she was at hospital; which was daily while her young son had treatments.

That was my answer!

I packed a sturdy durable bag that closed tight with food that could be warmed in the microwave, or eaten as it was, but none that required refrigeration.

Mainly high protein foods and a few treats.   

Another time this same mom asked me to watch her other children because she had to take her son to his doctors appointment. While she was gone, I arranged with other women in our church to come in for a cleaning blitz who had wanted to help, but didn’t know what they could do.

While we cleaned, older kids of the women who had come to help clean, did crafts with the kids I was in charge of for the mom at the hospital, making them feel special and keeping them entertained.  This was a great gift and service to them, as their life now had to often revolve around all the hospital visits and that very sensitive situation of their brother being ill.

It’s a cherished memory of how to involve others.

What if I SAY or DO the wrong thing? 

How do I know THE BEST way to serve them?

It’s unfortunate, but a part of life that illness, tragedy or hardship will come to one of our loved ones,  a friend, or a neighbor at some time. 

And then –

  • What do we say?
  • What do we do?
  • How can we help?
  • What’s the best approach?
  • What about when the person or family has lost a loved one to suicide?

I have some tips and suggestions so that you will ALWAYS know how, when and the best ways to be of service and comfort.  Remember!  Just Do SOMETHING with the best intention of loving them and it will be alright.




This was a situation for one of my dear neighbors and I didn’t know what to say, or what to do myself as I hadn’t encountered this situation before. So I researched a bit and I’m sharing with you the information I found.

Heartbreaking position for those grieving with the loss of a loved one to suicide

To read the helpful tips and ideas of what to do, click GRIEVING THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE TO SUICIDE





This is another delicate issue and so tender for everyone involved.  

I have tried to gather information for us so we can be the most helpful in this situation. 

Click here on  What Do You Say When A Friend Or Family Member Loses A Baby?




Losing A Pet can be as devastating as losing a family member to those who love and care for their pets.

I have a tips and ideas you will find helpful here in How To Comfort When There Is A Pet-loss





Treat them the same

It’s important to remember and treat the person, or the family as you always did.  This new diagnosis, or difficulty they are having isn’t ‘them’.  It isn’t a way to identify them, or take over their personality, it’s just the new situation or ‘normal’ for the time being.  Remembering that will help you treat them the same as you always did, and it won’t be as awkward with the new circumstances because it helps them feel ‘in control’ and somewhat their usual self.


Try to do something ‘normal’, out of the ordinary and FUN

For example

The picture of the baby at the top of the post is one of my grand daughters.  Right after being born, she was in the NICU also known as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Her brother had been in the hospital for several days which was terrifying.

Stan, my husband, spent much of his time after work at the hospital with the sick grandchildren.

But when he was home, he took the other kids to Sam’s Club (their favorite) for lunch, then to the store to let them pick out their own match-box car.

When they came back to the house,  I gave each of them a few washable markers and their own empty toilet paper roll to make a car ‘power station’. They had a blast and it filled the time with creativity and imagination.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, just out of the ordinary and something THEY will enjoy.


Another day does begin

I had some of the grand kids at my house, giving their mom a chance to recuperate with the sick baby.

I put on the musical ‘Bye Bye Birdie’, the one with Ann Margaret. They had the best time watching something they had never seen, and dancing with Birdie as the whole town swooned and fainted – they thought that was pretty funny; acting right along and falling to the ground with the character’s in the movie, as Birdie played his guitar.

Get them up and MOVING

Laughter is a wonderful release from the stress for ALL ages.
kids 1
Try to provide as much normality as possible in their day by keeping them busy, as appropriate of course.

This provides a way for even little ones to feel somewhat in control, despite the drastic changed schedules and even living circumstances. 

‘Helping’ Uncle Dallin 2


Here is my son, daughter-in-law and grand daughter getting ready to come home from the hospital.

Our little NICU grandbaby was finally allowed to come home!baby 8After taking baby CPR classes at the hospital, learning how to run the oxygen machine, classes on how to use monitoring and other devices to help our little grand daughter stay alive, our son Derek remarked:

“Who said kids don’t come with instructions.”

Always try to keep a sense of humor, it goes a LONG way in putting these stressful situations in perspective and dealing with them in a healthy manner.

photo 6

It seems if we live long enough we will have family and friends who will face challenges of some sort that will require help.

I have complied a little list of ideas that might be useful if you are ever in the situation of wondering how to help and be most useful:

  • Keep in mind that when a person, or family are in a crisis, they may have much different priorities then before. Be sensitive to their ‘new situation’ and that ‘normal’ things may not be a current concern.  Just understand and be supportive.
  • LISTEN, do not judge or give unwanted advice. Sometimes the other person simply wants to talk and get it out in the open.  Realize it may not be how they really feel; actually, it probably isn’t. Be kind about not repeating or passing on anything that is best kept between trusted friends. Venting is part of grieving.
  • Offer to clean the house or gift a professional house cleaning service.  Do not just offer, be proactive and DO something. 
  • Sometimes when asking what you can do to help is almost more stressful because the person/family may not be able to process everything that does need to be done, such as  the real necessities. You could ask about arranging to pick up other children for school, sports, scouts, etc. That would be a great relief to the parents and family.
  •  It is critical that the family members have a way to recharge and have the energy to face the ordeal at hand. By arranging for the parents/care giver to have the opportunity to exercise, get sleep, have meals brought in and babysitting the other children would be such a relief.
  • Offering to stay with a child or family member for a few hours at the hospital to give the adult(s) time to leave for a bit, would allow them to take a moment for them self, while knowing that someone was there and their loved one wasn’t alone.  
  • A SunShine Gift or Basket would be perfect, click HERE

SunShine Gifts and Baskets













More Suggestions on how to give comfort and relief:

  • A gift certificate for a massage, a facial, a haircut, a manicure, a pedicure, a movie, favorite meal, etc., would be so appreciated for them to use while a trusted friend or family member sat with the sick/hospitalized patient.
  • Provide rides to and from school,  or activities for other family members. Also, rides to the hospital so the children can visit the parent(s).
  • A personal planner to keep track of all the details if this is an extended situation.  THIS ONE would be a great one. 
  • Take, or send, a care package to the sick patient. Part of this could also be gift cards to local restaurants or even a way to purchase food at the hospital for the parents/adults.
  • If it is holiday time, offer to shop for them, or even arrange a ‘Secret Santa’ for the family to take the pressure off them financially, as well as the overwhelming time it can be.
  • A journal is incredibly healing.  HERE is a terrific choice. 
  • And ONE for kids
  • If it is another child’s birthday time, offering to hold the party would be a tremendous burden eased for the parent(s) so the child does not feel left out or ‘on-the-back-burner’ so to speak.
  • Grocery shop for family. If the funds are tight for them, you might want to purchase the necessities or even see if neighbors want to go in with you.
  •  Do, or arrange for, housecleaning or yard work to be done.  That’s a HUGE help.
  • If they have pets, help or provide a source to feed and walk them.
  • Take siblings out for a fun activity or babysit them.
  • If you know them well, books and CD’s that will inspire and make them laugh would be a great choice.
  • Provide THANK YOU cards and stamps for them to send out. THESE would be a fabulous choice.
  • If it is overwhelming to keep family and friends up to date of the patients treatment and circumstance. You could offer to keep up a blog or even Facebook page for them; with their approval of EVERY SINGLE post/entry
  • Help the other family members feel useful. It empowers them and takes their mind off the situation at hand.
  • A small decorated vase with a narrow opening is a great idea to take to your friends or neighbors if you are on a budget. If taking flowers, ask to be sure if they are allergic to any one type of flower.
  • Balloons are always fun.  
  • ***If you are taking flowers or balloons into a hospital check with the staff first o make sure it’s alright with the hospital policy and into the area you want to take them.

If you are looking for ideas on taking in a meal, I have GREAT information, lots of useful tips and recipes at: 

What You Need To Know About Taking In A Meal They Will Want To Eat

I hope this post has given you tools and resources to empower you, so that you feel comfortable reaching out to anyone in need; whether you barely know them, or they are close family or a dear friend. 

We all have ordeals to go through some time in life – that’s just the way it is. 

Having a person, an angel, who cares enough about us, our comfort, our family, to ACT and DO something selfless, means more than words can express.

Copyright A Mother’s Shadow, 2014, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

Green popcorn that is perfect for St. Patrick's Day. This type is known as Mother Goose or Granny Corn or even Sugar Corn. It's unique and perfect for St. Patrick's!

St. Patrick's Green Pop Corn

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Green St Patty's popcorn treat

Granny Green St. Patricks PopCorn

St. Patrick’s Green Pop Corn is a fast, YUMMY green treat for friends or family that will make this holiday extra special. 
 Celebrate with this quick favorite St. Patrick’s Green Pop Corn also known as Granny Corn or Mother Goose Popcorn  
This scrumptious candy will bring back cherished memories of this old fashioned treat, or make new ones.  Every St. Patty’s Leprechaun will consider it a treasure, but one to share:) 

St. Patrick’s Green Granny, Sugar or Mother Goose Pop Corn


5 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ tsp. salt
12 oz. (1 can) evaporated milk
4 drops green food coloring

32 cups popped popcorn, place into a large bowl discarding any kernels that did not popPop corn


In a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, vanilla, salt, vanilla, evaporated milk and food coloring. 
Attach candy thermometer to the side of the pan. 
This is important and be sure it is working properly – buy a new one if you have a question. 
Be sure the end of the candy thermometer; meaning the bulb does NOT touch the bottom of the pan, but that the bulb is completely down inside the mixture.St. Patrick's Pop Corn 1
STIRRING CONSTANTLY cook over medium-high heat until the mixture boils. 
When the candy comes to a boil, turn it down to medium; and continue stirring until the thermometer reaches 235 degrees.
Pour the candy mixture over the popcorn and toss lightly until it is completely coated.
Now, stir gently, bringing the candy mixture from the bottom up to the top of the popcorn on the top, completely coat all the popcorn.St. Patrick's Pop Corn 2In the beginning the candy coating on the popcorn will be shiny like this.St. Patrick's Pop Corn 3Continue to stir gently; pulling from the bottom to the top and in about 2-3 minutes – POOF and MAGIC happens!
The candy coating sugars to look like this and becomes that wonderful throw-back candy we can still  enjoy today.

St. Patrick's Green Granny Pop Corn

Green Mother Goose Pop Corn or Granny Corn

Adapted by Carrie Groneman from Melinda Forbushs recipe.
Green popcorn that is perfect for St. Patrick's Day. This type is known as Mother Goose or Granny Corn or even Sugar Corn. It's unique and perfect for St. Patrick's!

St. Patrick’s Green Mother Goose, Sugar or Granny Pop Corn

Copyright a Mother’s Shadow, 2014, 2018
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.


Memory Christmas Ornaments

Baby and Kids Keepsake Memory Ornaments

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Memory Christmas Ornaments

Keep Sake Baby and Kids Christmas Ornaments

Are you looking for a quick holiday craft,a keepsake or even a present that is economical yet sentimental? Look no further! Here are three ideas that your family can all do, no matter the age.  These would be treasured as baby’s first Christmas, or every year your children could see the growth as their hand covers more and more of the ornament.  A great gift for grandparents too.  These would definitely be appreciated by all. 

Baby and Kids Keepsake Memory Ornaments

Snowman Ornament


For the Snowmen & Foot Ornament:

Shatterproof ornament, color of your choice

Acrylic paint

Sharpie markers

Sponge wedges with handle  


For the Marble Spin Art Ornament:

Clear plastic or shatterproof ornament


Acrylic paint



Step 1 – 

Tickle your kidlets hand by painting them with acrylic paint of your choice with a sponge wedge. Kids Craft Christmas Ornaments 1Step 2  –

Have your kid hold their hand flat, place the ornament in the palm and ask them to curl their fingers over the bulb.

Help them press fingers evenly.Kids Craft Christmas Ornaments 2Step 3 – 

Place the ornament with the paint on it in an egg carton to hold it while it dries.Kids Craft Christmas Ornaments 3Step 4 –

Using the sharpies, draw buttons, hat, face and whatever you would like to bring Frosty to life!Kids Craft Christmas Ornaments 4

Baby Foot Print Ornament

Step 1 – 

If you have a baby, you can paint their foot, which is much easier than trying to get them to uncurl their fingers:)Kids Craft Christmas Ornaments 5

Step 2- 

Press the painted foot onto the ornamentKids Craft Christmas Ornaments 6Step 3 – Let it dry in egg carton and then write the baby’s name and year.

Marble Painted Ornament

Step 1 – 

Squeeze a small amount, about the size of a dime or less, of acrylic paint into the bottom of a clear ornament, use a shatterproof or plastic one for this craft.Kids Craft Christmas Ornaments 7

Step 2-

Drop a marble into the ornament with the paintKids Craft Christmas Ornaments 8

Step 3- 

Now let the kiddos shake, shake, shake, making a pattern inside the ornament with the marble painting the inside.Kids Craft Christmas Ornaments 9

Step 4-

Allow the paint to dry and if desired, repeat with a contrasting color, using a tiny bit of paint and a marble.

Kids Craft Christmas Ornaments

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, 2017

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today