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10 Summer Serve and Learn Activities

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10 Summer Serve and Learn

Summer is the BEST time of the year, but sometimes it can be a challenge IF:

You are a parent

You are a caregiver

You are the older sibling babysitting younger brothers or sisters

I’m kidding…well kind of….

See, it’s about that time of the summer when ‘what are we going to do’? is heard about every 5 or 10 minutes.

And the ‘screen-time’ arguments have begun, such as: how long they get/want/deserve/need.

Have you gotten to the point yet when you think you will scream, or run far away, when you hear the words “I’m bored” one more time….

Guess what?  I have THE perfect solution!

It’s more than just keeping busy, though that is a good thing.

THIS teaches important life skills in such a fun and engaging way, they won’t even realize that they are learning and doing things that are useful and helpful!

WHAT is the key and answer here?  

It is my 10 Summer Time Serve and Learn Activities!

 

TELL me more!

My 10 Summer Time Serve and Learn is more than just keeping the kids out of trouble, busy and time fillers.  

These are activities that will teach them:

  • They will Learn and Practice life skills that will last their whole life.
  • How to be kind and compassionate to others.
  • Many of the activities are educational in a very entertaining way, and enjoyed so much, they will not guess at all of the lessons they are learning.
  • They will learn to interact with others, a HUGE skill that is needed today.
  • All of these activities are free or very inexpensive.
  • Provide great lasting memories of a wonderful and unique summer.
  • Help them become better for what they will accomplish as they do any or all of these Serve and Learn Activities.

 

HOW do you go about implementing this extraordinary much-more-than-a-boredom-buster-list-of-activities? 

1- If your children are young, you could take one activity a week, say on a given night as a planned family time, and do one idea in each of the 10 activities.

2- If your kids are older and you are trying to keep them busy so you can get some things done.  Or another concern of busy and working parents, is to find worthwhile activities that keep the older kids from so much screen time and video games.  This is a fantastic way to accomplish that purpose also.  You could have the kid(s) do everything listed in the 10 Summer Time Serve and Learn.

3- Here is where you have to decide how important this is to you, as a family and for your children/kids/teens.  I personally like a reward system that is modest and small.  We all work for something.  A paycheck, a thank you, something, until we reach the point of real charity.  But the kids are usually still growing into that.  So, may I suggest that either a vote is taken, or you give the value you are willing to pay when the designated number of Serve and Learn Activities are done. 

For example:  If you must leave older kids at home during the day, it could be very useful to consider that each day or every few days, one of the activities would be done.  Again, for example, on Tuesday, they made the Cherrio Bird Feeder together, cleaned it all up and had a good time as a family without arguments; maybe  donuts would be the reward.  

You could tell them that when all 10 Serve and Learn Activities were done, again without contention, having fun and leaving it clean, the reward could be a night of family bowling, swimming at the local pool (watch for coupons) or hiking with a picnic.  

Let us know how you chose to implement these 10 Summer Time Serve and Learn Activities by yourself, or as a family in the comments, in the Instagram feed or FB posts.  Pictures would be awesome!

I created an terrific checklist that you can download for free so you can easily keep track of each 10 Summer Time Serve and Learn Activity as it’s completed, click HERE

 

 

            10 Summer Time Serve and Learn Activities

1- It all about the BIRDS

Kids Can Serve & Care:

 

Kids Can Learn: We live in a beautiful and special world.  By keeping it clean we can appreciate miracles all around us even more. By feeding the birds, we can watch them close up and enjoy their amazing colors and how they fly.

 

 

2- Invite someone, or a family, over for a game night

  • Try choosing from the old fashioned games like these: 

Old Time Game of Kick The Can

How To Play Old Fashioned Hop Scotch

Make up a batch of THE BEST Homemade Bubbles

This game of 100 is AWESOME for ALL ages

 

Learn: Playing is important at any age and we need to make sure we take time to have some fun!

“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” -Mr. Rogers

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -George Bernard Shaw

 

 

3- Plant a garden or flowers 

  • With your family, or yourself, plant some vegetables or herbs to use in preparing your own food this summer.  See my post HERE for some ideas on gardening
  • Plant flowers to make your home look more attractive to you and others.  A planter or window box will make a big difference if you are limited in space or resources.

Learn:  It is incredibly empowering and therapeutic to actually plant, raise and harvest your own food and blooms.    The effort and energy put forth to teach your family this skill is some of the most well-spent and important you can do.  Again, see my post HERE

 

 

 

4- Visit or help someone

  • Weed the garden or flower beds, or do other yard work for someone who is unable.
  • If someone has recently had surgery, ask what you can do to help them.
  • Make posters for your local care center or facility to cheer them up. See this post HERE for ideas
  • Someone who might be overwhelmed with family or their life’s situation could use a hand. 
  • One of my amazing readers makes the baby bibs from my post to give to the new moms in her church.  You can see the easy to make tutorial HERE

Learn:  By visiting those who are elderly, have a young family, or unable to get out on their own, we are showing compassion and kindness.  Looking outside of our self to other’s needs and doing something to ease their burden are some of the most important skills we can learn, practice often to become a better person.

 

 

 

5- Welcome Someone To The Neighborhood, or Take A Treat to Those You Already Know

  • You will find lots of ideas of how to Welcome new neighbors to your neighborhood in THIS post.
  • THIS treat is always popular to take to anyone of any age:)
  • OR take a treat to a neighbor you want to get to know better.  This SWEET Tag HERE is one you might want to use. 

 

Learn: It’s hard to move to a new place and then meet people sometimes.  When we reach out to others we are making new friends as well as helping them feel comfortable in their new neighborhood.

By taking a treat to those you already know, but haven’t talked to in a while, makes your neighborhood and community stronger, you feel more included surprisingly and the friendships develop.

 

 

6- Serve At Home

  • Eat dinner together and have a conversation without technology. You’ll find the post HERE about dinner conversations, how to do them easily and with some FUN! 

Learn: Technology is a great thing, but too often it gets in the way and we don’t take the time to talk to each other, even in our own family.  This is a perfect way to learn new things about each other in a natural and creative approach.

 

 

7- Learn About Your Family 

  • I have a post on how how and why to do a Family Tree HERE
  • Get to know a family member better by visiting in person, or skype.

Learn: With your child learn who their family tree members are as they fill out one, or both of the styles of Family Tree’s in THIS POST. Fill one out yourself if you haven’t before and ask living family members in your Family Tree to share an inspiring experience they had, or one they learned a valuable lesson from that you may not have known. 

Knowing our family and their life is so important because it connects us to our past and helps us understand our self also.

 

 

 

8- Love the Animals

  • Shelters are in need of many supplies all the time, and have lots of animals to care for.  Did you know that some shelters have other animals besides just dogs and cats they need items for too?  See my post on Service to our local Animal Shelter HERE

Learn:  Compassion and kindness for all of God’s creatures

 

 

 

9- There Are Those In Need ALL year long

  • Have you ever thought of helping your local MEALS ON WHEELS?  In my area they are in need of general greeting cards all year long.  You can find our more HERE
  • Donate to a local food bank. It’s natural to think of those less fortunate at Christmas and other holidays, but the need is there all year long.  

Learn:  Serving others is how we learn about ourselves. 

 

 

 

10- Say Thank you!

  • We appreciate a ‘thank you’ and should express gratitude often.  But when do we actually sit down and write a note of thanks to someone?  
  • It also teaches our family members volumes we cannot speak as we act by doing.
  • See my post HERE for all the how’s, why’s, when’s and what to write in a thank you card.

Learn:  It only takes a couple of minutes to do this simple task, but the effects on us as the sender, and those who receive it are priceless.

 

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I can’t wait to hear what you and your family are LEARNING, PRACTICING and BECOMING this summer!

Please share in the comments on in this post, on my FaceBook comments and Instagram feed, so we can learn from each other, be encouraged and get awesome ideas. 

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2019

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

Meals on Wheels

Cards To Help Meals On Wheels Recipients

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Meals on Wheels

 

Cards To Help the Recipients of The Meals On Wheels Program is an incredible way to spend a few minutes of your time!

Sometimes we want to help, but wonder what can we do?

We may not have a lot of money to help, but still want to do something, right?

Maybe we don’t have the freedom to go to places to serve, but still want to make an impact, is that possible?

YES to all of these with if you have a couple of minutes here and there, can color and have access to a printer, or have some cards that will work.

 




 

First, what is this Meals On Wheels Program? 

Meals on Wheels is a national (USA) organization that has the focus of:

  • Serving the rapidly growing elderly population
  • Relieving the threat of isolation, hunger and limited mobility to those in need. 

It works like this:  Cities or counties are assigned a local office, which arranges for meals to be delivered to the home bound, elderly, or anyone who may need assistance in this manner. 

In most areas, a hot meal is delivered for lunch, with a sack-lunch type of meal being left for dinner. 

As I said, my friends and their family’s were thrilled with this service due to the situation they were in.

After more research, I found that many of the recipients of these meals live alone, and far too often, the only contact with people they have, are the drivers or deliverers of these meals during the week!  That’s so sad!

What can be done to help these people who are alone and with no one?

To address the isolation and loneliness felt by the many who receive these meals, greeting cards are delivered with the meals in my area.

 

Why color or purchase a card?

Because a card would mean some form of contact from another person who took the time to care. It would show that another human being actually put pen to paper and made time in their day for them!

WE could bring a smile, some comfort and encourage another person with just a little bit of effort.

If you’d like to make a difference for good and help out with Cards for Meals on Wheels, here’s how to start.

First off, it’s really EASY to do this.

 

HOW can WE get involved?

I wanted to help us all have some fun with these Cards for Meals on Wheels, as well as make them special. 

1- I had some great cards created just for you, that I am offering for free.

2- You can easily download them, simply print them off and color-in the cards for this Meals on Wheels project.

3- Your kids can be involved in a way they would look forward to serving a total stranger. You could get some friends together and make or color in the cards. You can relax and color in a card or two while watching tv; the possibilities are endless.

4- The point is, print off as many of the Cards for Meals on Wheels I have provided for you at your local copy store as you’d like to use, or do it on your home printer, and have some FUN!

 

These are the Cards for Meals on Wheels I had made just for you, so you can easily participate in this very worthwhile project.

HELLO Birdie card is HERE

HAVE A BEAUTIFUL DAY Floral card is HERE

KEEP SMILING Hot Air Balloon card is  HERE

THINKING OF YOU Mandela style card is HERE 

 

Now, if you’d rather purchase cards to write in, I really LIKE THESE  and they’d be perfect for this purpose.

 

 

However, if you want to make your own cards, this is the information you will need:

  • Cards must be generic for a man or woman.
  • No need for envelope
  • Cards should be 6″x8″ or smaller
  • Cards can be simple or ornate
  • Cards are not to be holiday or special occasion oriented, making them usable all year long
  • Purchased ‘thinking of you’ cards would be perfect
  • Do NOT personalize it in any form, such as happy birthday or themed in any way – such as holiday, etc.

 

 

What do I write inside the Cards for Meals on Wheels?

Here are some ideas of what can be written inside the card after it is colored in, or in a purchased one:

  • Thinking of You
  • Have a nice day
  • Keep that Awesome Smile Showing
  • Stopping by with a friendly hello from me to you
  • Bringing a Smile by to share with you today
  • Hope it’s wonderful in your corner of the world

Do not sign it please.  

 

 

What do I do with the Cards for Meals on Wheels after I make them?

  • Send cards to me if you do not have a Meals on Wheels office close by, or it is not convenient, or they are not asking for cards. 
  • Send cards directly to the Davis County Meals on Wheels office – information below
  • Send them to your own Meals on  Wheels agency -you will want to contact them first to make sure they are also in need of these cards.

 

LEARN-PRACTICE-BECOME

I hope you, your family, friends, neighbors, church group, youth group, will get together and color up some cards.   You can see how I put this together for a neighborhood get-together and it turned out great.  Stan and I also colored some at home, and also at an outdoor free concert in the park:)  It’s fun and relaxing to serve while enjoying a bit of childhood or hobby. 

It’s a great way to learn how to think of others.  Practice being kind to those you do not know.  and become a better person as nothing is expected in return, except the gratification of bringing happiness to another.  




Wendy 
Office Manager
North Davis Senior Activity Center
Wendy 801-525-5080
Davis County Health Department

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow 2019

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today




The Reason For Memorial Weekend

Why Do We Have Memorial Day?

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The Reason For Memorial Weekend

The reason for Memorial Day Weekend

WHY do we have Memorial Day?

Is Memorial Day just a weekend to watch parades, get together to eat food, take the kids to play at parks, or simply have a vacation from work?

It is a national holiday, so there should to be a good reason behind it- right?

And while we are on the subject, is there much of a difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day?

If you have ever wondered about these questions and more, I have some other interesting information for you so you can understand the significance and magnitude this day represents.  Please teach and help others understand how precious our freedoms are, and how others have sacrificed for us to have them. That is how we maintain our liberty, otherwise it is easily lost.




MEMORIAL DAY

Did you realize that there IS a marked difference in Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day?

Memorial Day is set aside to honor all in the military personal who sustained wounds while fighting for our country, and died as a result from injuries.

Veterans Day is a time to remember and honor everyone who has served honorably, at any time of our country’s history, whether it be war or peace time.

Now,  lets talk about the Flag.  Do you know HOW it’s supposed to be raised and lowered?  

Here is the correct way: 

Flag Observance

On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country.

At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

When did Memorial Day become a National Holiday?

Memorandum to the nation on May 2, 2000

As Memorial Day approaches, it is time to pause and consider the  true meaning of this holiday. Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to securing our Nation’s freedom, we should honor them especially on Memorial Day. In this time of unprecedented success and prosperity throughout our land, I ask that all Americans come together to recognize how fortunate we are to live in freedom and to observe a universal “National Moment of Remembrance” on each Memorial Day.

This memorial observance represents a simple and unifying way to commemorate our history and honor the struggle to protect our freedoms.


A few ideas of how to celebrate this holiday’s true meaning:

Read a story of history about a battle for our freedom Watch a documentary about a leader, or a war, that was vital for our life today Visit graves of deceased soldiers Say a prayer for our soldiers and military serving us today Provide or organize a project for “Adopt A Soldier”. Click HERE for information.

At 3pm, your local time, is the official time to observe a moment of silence, or the playing of “Taps” We are incredibly blessed as a people, and nation, to live in a country of opportunities and independence.

Freedom always comes at a cost someone paid the price. As we celebrate this day, may we pause to recognize, appreciate and say a prayer of gratitude for those who have valiantly sacrificed, to allow us the liberties we enjoy today as citizens of this great nation. What a wonderful day to remember this great gift, and ponder ways we can live to improve life for all.  

For an beautiful and quick outdoor cemetery DIY grave decoration, that can also be a door wreath, click HERE.  

On this post there is also information on how to easily clean a grave marker. 

DIY Memorial Grave Decoration

DIY Memorial Grave Decoration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.




A printable is attached for download tags for giving to others that are Valentine specific. They can be put on a treat or a small gift to let a friend, family member or co-worker know that you are thinking of them at this holiday time.

Valentine Service and How YOU Can Spread The Love

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A printable is attached for download tags for giving to others that are Valentine specific. They can be put on a treat or a small gift to let a friend, family member or co-worker know that you are thinking of them at this holiday time.

Do you like Valentines?  Is it a holiday that makes you happy?

Valentine Service and How YOU Can Spread The Love will make it the BEST either way. 

HOW?

If it’s a long anticipated one, or one that isn’t so affectionately looked towards (pun intended), a Thoughtful Valentine Kindness Sweetens Our Day Too, making it a fabulous time no matter what.

WHY?

It’s easy to get caught up in our own day-to-day life, forgetting others have heavy burdens to carry also.  

Valentines gives us the opportunity to look outside ourselves and see who we can serve.

 

See, when we help others by thinking of them, it makes us better, which fills us with joy.

I have some ideas below of how you can use the download printable tags in easy ways, to drop off treats to friend, family, neighbors, or even better, stop by and pay a visit.

WHO?

Think of who might be alone, maybe a spouse isn’t here right now such as in the military, or  who could use cheering up, or a thinking-of-you. 

You will have a list in no time at all of who would love to receive one of these adorable little tags with a sweet treat or a small gift attached.  

I have found that when I am ever down, if I serve, I am much happier and my burden is lifted.  So try this Thoughtful Valentine Kindness and see if it doesn’t sweeten your day too!

The FREE Printable is HERE

 

Some delicious and easy ideas for homemade treats are:

Easy White Chocolate Popcorn and Valentine M&M’s

Yummy White Chocolate Bark

A printable is attached for download tags for giving to others that are Valentine specific. They can be put on a treat or a small gift to let a friend, family member or co-worker know that you are thinking of them at this holiday time.

Valentines Sweetheart Muddy Buddy Chex Mix

Easy Sweetheart French Palmier Cookies

A printable is attached for download tags for giving to others that are Valentine specific. They can be put on a treat or a small gift to let a friend, family member or co-worker know that you are thinking of them at this holiday time.

No Fail Easy Nut Clusters – however use Valentine Sprinkles on topA printable is attached for download tags for giving to others that are Valentine specific. They can be put on a treat or a small gift to let a friend, family member or co-worker know that you are thinking of them at this holiday time.

Fill with purchased candy, such as Valentine M&M’s

A printable is attached for download tags for giving to others that are Valentine specific. They can be put on a treat or a small gift to let a friend, family member or co-worker know that you are thinking of them at this holiday time.

 

More Kindness ideas for YOU HERE

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

gratitude tree

Ever giving Gratitude Tree

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gratitude tree

Ever Giving Gratitude Tree

Isn’t this time of year crazy?

It’s hard to find ways sometimes to get our family to think outside of themselves – or an activity that’s affordable, easy, quick, worthwhile, have positive results and will engage everyone.

After some brainstorming this idea came to me –  a Gratitude Tree!   

With this little tree, teaching gratitude will come naturally to your family.

The concept is so simple.  See each leaf will have a word on it that can be chosen as a family or by a parent, depending on the age, or your situation.

For example, if the leaf  has the word neighbor written on it, then the leaf could not be hung on the tree until a service is done by the entire group for the neighbor of choice by the family – or at least by the majority 😉 

Now the fun begins as  everyone puts in their suggestions, which could include: anonymously raking leaves, making and taking cookies or spending a little time visiting an elderly neighbor.  

More than just reporting or saying what family members are thankful for, this little activity will motiviate and involve everyone into ACTION to fill the tree! 

Effortlessly on your part, everyone will want to help and bless others, and leave the entitlement attitude behind Service naturally brings out the best in everyone.

I have everything easily ready for you to start and have FUN together!


EVER GIVING GRATITUDE TREE

Supplies:

Tree,  is one to check out

Pre-cut leaf shapes, THESE are perfect

Assorted Sharpie Markers 

Twine, is a nice fit

Directions:gratitude tree1Trace desired shape onto paper and cut out OR use pre-cut shapes I suggested above.

Punch a small hole at the top of the leaf.gratitude tree 2Tie a square knot with the string through the hole in the leaf.gratitude tree 3Here are some ideas for ‘words’ your family might want to include for people to serve: gratitude tree

Neighbor(s) Grandparent(s) Teacher(s) Mail person Family – think extended; aunt, uncle, cousin, etc. Veterinarian Doctor Dentist Church leader(s) Military Foster Parents/kids Animal Shelter Brainstorm with your family, the list will amaze you and the results will bless you.  

This Gratitude Tree can be easily adapted for the Christmas season also.

Click HERE for the ornaments

gratitude tree 4Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, 2016


Spinning 1

Does the Brand Define YOU?

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Spinning 1

Does the Brand Define You?

In my novel, ‘A Mother’s Shadow’, the main character, Emily painstakingly acquires fabric and then shares the one sewing needle with the women in the family, as she stitches her dress that she wears to the social; which is where she meets Harry.  My question for you is:  ‘Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without‘ is an old saying – it is still wise advice…or expired counsel??? 


In times gone by, possibly in our grandparents time, if not then, certainly our great-grandparents time, ‘things’ were hard to come by.  Patches on clothing were normal; everyone wore them. Spices were limited in foods as they were expensive and not easily available in local neighborhood markets. Exotic fruits and vegetables were generally only tasted by those who had great means for such niceties. Of course sugar, gasoline and many other commodities were rationed during war times; making them scare and highly expensive, if accessible at all. Our world is in commotion and there are so many problems and concerns.  However, we are So blessed!  We have access to so many wonderful things in our life: clothing, food, technology, medical advancement, scientific development; the list could go on and on of the amazing positive life changing improvements that we benefit from. The danger we face is that of TOO MUCH and losing sight of what is important because it is easy to not appreciate, be ungrateful and thankless for what we do have. See, in Emily’s time, as well as our own grandparents or those a few generations ahead of us, they had to work so hard for what they had, they were rarely foolish in their priorities.  I fear in our generation, and that of those coming, that we allow others to determine what is the most valued, even to determining status Isn’t it ridiculous when you really consider it:

  • A pair of jeans that fits great, is made from quality fabric and is comfortable should be the determining factor – not the name on the rivets
  • A ‘brand’ that takes the price of an item, above that of a comparable one, in an exorbitant amount, and we pay it, is pure insanity when the money should be put to better use
  • Instead of repairing a piece of clothing, that would barely noticeable, if seen at all, or even tossing it, is purely reckless
  • Shoes that carry a certain ‘name’, outrageously overpriced and we pay it…have we lost out mind?

I realize it is a choice. This is part of a crucial component of agency and living in a land of free commerce; which makes it beautiful and free. 

My reasoning is this:

  • When the price tag is there and you know it is more than you can afford, remember; that if you must impress your friends with this item, they are not your friends. 
  • If you must buy it to feel ‘good about yourself’ please think about getting to the core of why you think that is the case.  Why you must have the most expensive, to ‘show off’, instead of showing off your beautiful self and spirit by how you live and not what you wear – meaning the name brands.
  • If you have the money, and that is not the issue, think of all the good you could do with the extra resources if you were to buy less expensive; and finding a cause you are passionate about. Oh, the great good you could do!

This same mentality goes through every facet of our life. There are definitely times of financial reversal for many. There are those who never really struggle with money.  Regardless of our money situation, if we have proper perspective of resources, looking for prudent avenues to helps others instead of focusing our priorities on ‘things’, and ‘stuff’ our entire society would shift.          


Why?

  • We are individuals with distinct talents.
  • We each have specific skills.
  • We each have lives to bless and change for the better.
  • We each have a work here to do on this earth that NO one else can do but us

The danger lies when we are are caught up in the stuff and things and what society in large, or marketing is telling us to pay attention to so we are influential, we will miss the real way to know WHO to HELP and HOW to HELP.  We cannot listen to God and be where He wants us and doing what He would have us do if we are focusing on ‘stuff’, ‘things’ and the life. The reward for putting all that aside and just having the common sense to buy what we need: There will be an incredible increase of love, peace and happiness in individuals and families.  I promise you, just put it to the test and have a wonderful life! 

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today

For More On This Topic:

A Mother’s Shadow’ a novel by Carrie Groneman (available on Amazon), click HERE

ALL Gloves ARE Beautiful.  Click HERE

Consequences ARE Necessary, Click HERE  

How Well Do YOU Play Jenga, click HERE




Thankful Thursday: 2nd Sunday Dinner

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Neighborhood Dinner!!!

Hey All, So after the blog conference we were experimenting with the camera and didn’t quite get it back to proper settings for ‘normal’ shots. I apologize for the blurriness, but I’ve included a few pics anyway.

Menu:

  • Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
  • New Orleans Red Beans & Rice (my recipe on site)
  • Rolls and butter
  • Best Fudge Cake (my recipe on site)
  • Valentine White Chocolate Bark (my recipe on site)
  • Sweetheart Palmiers (my recipe on site)
  • Valentines Muddy Buddy’s (my recipe on site)

Pictured:   The center is the chicken noodle soup. Did you know that if you add oil to your pasta cooking water it will not absorb the liquid as readily? So depending on what your purpose is for the pasta, that determines whether you add oil or not. I did not want the noodles in the soup to take in extra broth causing them to be limp, so I added the oil to the cooking water. However, when I want pasta for a sauce, I do not add the oil do it will soak up the wonderful flavors.

This tip and tons more are in my new cookbook, “Carrie’s Cooking For Keeps”

Also, in my cookbook I teach you how to make perfect white or brown rice on the stove that will not fail you.

Thanks to all who came and to all of you out there who send love and warm wishes for our 2nd Sunday dinner, though distance makes it impossible for you to join us. Carrie

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Is The Ballast Balanced?

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How centered is the ballast in your family?

 Did you know that boats of all kinds must have ballast?  The ballast can be anything from the weight of the crew, to a keel that is made of iron, lead or concrete which sits low in the water. Why is a ballast so necessary you may wonder?  Because a ballast provides the balance for the boat in the water and improves stability and control.  If there is not enough ballast, the boat will tip or even capsize in excessively high winds.  Another definition of ballast is (Merriam Webster.com):   something that gives stability (as in character or conduct) When I was a young mom, I admit I was periodically tossed about by the winds of others opinions and what they felt was the most important elements for my children.  I often wondered what was truly important of all the options and extra-circular activities available to help them have all the advantages and opportunities I could give them. Now, years later, may I share with you what I feel will give children a secure ballast to withstand the winds of life.

  • Religion – children must be taught values, morals, ethics and God’s commandments.  As a family practice your faith together.
  • Strong work ethic – children (of all ages) need to feel, notice the word ‘feel’ (experience if you’d prefer) the consequences and rewards for earning money and how to allocate it.
  • Children need to learn skills that will allow them to hold a job when they are an adult.  It starts with such simple tasks as taking out the garbage and making sure they follow through.  As a child gets older, the chores increase in difficulty and responsibility.
  • NO excuses for not earning their own money, particularly when they reach the teenage years.  They can mow lawns, babysit, clean, any number of odd tasks to teach the life skill of doing a job well and finishing a task.
  • Helping your child learn the benefits of work will give confidence and a self assurance into their adulthood, and through their life.
  • Responsibility –
  • Allow your child to take responsibility for them self with money and other choices.  It is much better to learn hard lessons when the stakes are not high as later when they have their own family.
  • Give them choices, within limits, according to their age.  An example for a child would be:  which of these two shirts would you like to wear.  As a teenager, the choice could be which place they will work at to provide for the extra’s they want.
  • Service – create opportunities as a family, and for each child/teen individually to serve without any expectation of reward or recognition.  And to learn to serve without ulterior motives, meaning they will not  ‘get something’  for doing something for another person.
  • Teach gratitude for what others have done.  Be involved in family and expect your children to as long as they are at home.  When on their own, encourage participation in family outings, traditions and events.
  • Culture
  • Music:  My parents married young which meant I grew up listening to their music.  My kids consequently grew up with Tom Jones, Dean Martin, the Beatles as well as music from my high school years.  We also listened to classical music and many wonderful composers.  Expose your family to good music of all genres.  It seems that our teen years are the most impressionable and music is a central focus for most between the ages of 10 and 17 or so.  Do your best to monitor vulgar, inappropriate lyrics and music.  It will, without question, influence your family and the atmosphere of your home, even if you are not listening to it as a parent.
  • Movies:  Old movies, musicals and great entertainment were the norm at our home.  Sunday evenings we watched good shows together with treats and now share many wonderful memories of those times together.  Some moaned at the time, but bring it up with fondness now.
  • Books:  Many nights we sat together and I would read aloud from all types of good books, depending on the age of the kids, from ‘The Box Car Children’ to ‘Little House on the Prairie’ , “Hatchet’, Aesop’s Fables, the list goes on with too many books to name.
  • Make the time, a place and provide a quiet atmosphere (as much as possible with a house of kids!) for school work to be completed.
  • Physical – get out and walk together, play ball, involve the kids in sports or physical activities using care that it does not usurp family time and important obligations.

Just as a boat must have a ballast to help it have stability in the water, our children must have a ballast to withstand the winds of trial and difficulties that come with life.  As a parent, one of the greatest gifts we can give is balance and ballast; ‘skill’s, that are lasting and will serve them well all through their life. Parenting is not easy, nor does it always work out the way we anticipate, but the rewards of raising resilient, confident, responsible and hard working men and women are worth all the effort. Keep up the great work, and know how much you are appreciated.  

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