Blog

15

Welcome to the Kids in Service blog!  This is a place for me to share some of my thoughts, feelings and experiences that come up as we serve as a family.  Navigating service with children can be challenging at times.   I often worry about their safety, are they learning anything and are we doing too much?  I hope that this space will be a safe place to share our experiences and we’d love to have you share your experiences as well.  We want the Kids in Service site to be a place where we can all learn from one another as we journey down this path together.

5762894651_0a2e1ae9e5_z

Lessons From a Dropped Jar of Pickles–5/17/2020

I was sitting on the front porch trying to plan out my busy week, when I heard my daughter crying from the kitchen.  My first reaction was irritation, “What could she be crying about now? Tears are not on my to-do list!” When I came into the room she was standing in stocking feet with the fridge doors open and a shattered jar of pickles all over the tile floor.  I looked at her scared little face, took a deep breath and decided to react with patience rather than the frustration that was brewing inside of me.

As I looked at her face, I reminded myself that this was an accident. It is not her fault that once again I have taken on too much and there are not enough hours in the day to finish it all, yet alone clean up this pickle mess.  “Hello, Enneagram ONE here!”

Click HERE to read more…

 

Make a Difference May-11

Kids in Service Virtual Meetings–5/15/2020

When the world shut down, our local Kids in Service NH meetings were canceled for the year.  I had some great activities planned and was so sad that I would not be able to see the kids in our two groups or the seniors at the nursing home that we work with.

In April I decided to try a virtual meeting, and modeled it after our in person meetings.  I wanted to share a story and offer 2 project suggestions.  I had so much fun making the April Earth Day meeting that I decided to make another for May.

Click Here to read more and see the videos.

Live Love Now–4/23/2020

Every once in a while a book will fall into my hands right when I need it.  Rachel Macy Stafford has a way of writing the books that I need to read just when I need them most. Hands Free Mama was her first and that book helped me to be a little less attached to my phone and more present in my life.  Only Love Today is like a warm hug every time I pick it up and read the day’s short entry. This treasure of a book has been gifted to every mama I love in the hopes that Rachel’s words can wrap them up in love, support and grace. Live Love Now is her latest book which comes out on April 28th. It is geared toward parents and caregivers of teens/pre-teens but I honestly think anyone who interacts with children ages 8 and up can benefit from this book.

Oh did my heart and soul need this book!  Quarantine has brought up a host of issues in our house but the biggest have been the battles with my 13 year old.

Click Here to read more…..

 

Taming the Chaos–3/26/2020

Hello work from home families,

I have been homeschooling my two kids, Zach (age 13) and Caroline (age 10), for the past 7 1/2 years.  I was an elementary public school teacher before homeschooling and a few years ago I founded an organization called Kids in Service.

I was asked to write to you today with a few tips about schooling your kids at home.  I am not an expert but I have been in the trenches for awhile and have tried and failed at MANY things.  Here is some of the wisdom that has been shared with me and a few things that have worked for our household.

Click HERE to read more…

Make a Difference May

Welcome to Homeschool–3/13/2020

Due to COVID-19, many school districts are closing for at least two weeks.  For some districts the close is do to a case or two in the school and in others it is to slow down the spread of this fast moving disease.  I am not a doctor with information to share but I am a homeschool mom of 7 years and was a public teacher before that.  Because of this fact I have had a few people reach out looking for advice about homeschooling.  I thought I’d use this platform to encourage all of you as you move into your role of temporary homeschoolers.

First let me say that school at home is very different from homeschooling and thus the advice that I would give to new homeschooling parents would be VERY different.  There are some similarities though, and after much thought and reflection I have come up with some wisdom that I have learned over the past 7 years.  I hope that this wisdom will help you over the next few weeks at home.

Click HERE to read more….

So Very Grateful–3/1/2020

This month the Windham Magazine ran a four page article about our local Kids in Service organization.  I was beyond thrilled when they reached out in January about doing an article about our group and the work we are doing in the community.  Reporter Madeline Hughes called to do a phone interview with me and then reached out to a few of our members (adults and kids) to ask them about their experience with the organization.

Madeline and photographer Carl Russo came to our KIS Teen meeting at the end of January and took pictures and interviewed the kids while they made blankets for Project Linus. We made 12 blankets that night and shared so many laughs as Madeline asked questions and Carl came around and snapped photos.

Click HERE to read more…

11

Pick One Thing-12/04/19

I am one of those SUPER ANNOYING people who is hyper organized when it comes to Christmas.  I am a complete mess when it comes to organizing my closets, my car or other important things but I’ve got it together when it comes to Christmas.

I use the month of November to shop, decorate, wrap and complete my holiday cards.  The theory is that if I get the work done in November, I will be all calm and relaxed in December.  The vision of being curled up by a fire, watching Hallmark channel while snuggling with my family, helps me to get through my CRAZY November. The truth is that my December never looks like the vision I have in my head (my family hates Hallmark ;)).  I ALWAYS find more to do and cram our schedule so full that there is little time to breathe.

Click HERE to read more…

pay it forward summer-9

Granting Wishes-8/23/19

This summer my local Kids in Service group started a project with our older kids (10 and up) called Granting Wishes.  We like to think of it as a Make a Wish program for seniors.

This project was inspired by Ruby, a 5th grade girl in Arkansas, who visited area nursing homes daily while her mother worked as a nurse. Ruby tried to keep busy and eventually started talking with the residents.  Through her conversations she would ask the residents about their wishes.  She was surprised to learn that many of their wishes were simple (new shoes, an electric razor, Vienna sausages) and this led to a service project where she helped to make their wishes come true. Ruby is an INCREDIBLE Kid and such an inspiration.

This past spring we contacted the local nursing home that our KIS group has been working with for the past 4 years.  We asked if we could partner with them for a similar project and the Activities director, who had heard about Ruby’s story, was excited to provide a similar experience for her residents.  Many of the residents at the local Assisted Living/Nursing home are nuns and many do not have family near by.  It was my hope that this summer’s Granting Wishes Projectwould foster some connections between the kids and residents that would lead to an Adopt a Grandparent program in the fall.

Click HERE to read more…

Kindness at the Arcade-6/11/19

I recently took my children to a large arcade complex to celebrate the end of their school year.  They love this particular arcade but I prefer to take them during school hours when it is quieter and less chaotic (a perk of homeschooling).  As we pulled into the empty parking lot, they planned out the way they would spend their tokens and dreamed of the tickets they would collect.  I smiled at their chatter and decided to channel my inner child while we were in the building. I was planning for a fun day and never would have guessed that a trip to the arcade would be a powerful lesson in kindness and paying it forward.

Click HERE to read more….

pay it forward summer (3)

My Two Incredible Kids-5/20/19

For the past few months, Kids in Service has been celebrating all of the WONDERFUL service work that children around the country have been doing.  I love that we are able to highlight their accomplishments and hope that their work inspires other children around the globe.  Today, I wanted to take a minute to celebrate the two most important INCREDIBLE Kids in my life…my son Zach and my daughter Caroline.

Click HERE to read more…

pay it forward summer

Brown Bag Project–5/13/19

Kids in Service NH partnered with Shepherd’s Food Pantry and St. Matthew’s Church for a once a month service project called, the Brown Bag Delivery Project.  Once a month, it is our job to help deliver the food that is collected on Brown Bag Sunday at St. Matthew’s and deliver it to Shepherd’s Food Pantry.  This project is PERFECT for ALL AGES and it is one that helps so many people in the community.

Here is what Kids in Service Mom Kristen had to say about their experience:

Justin and I went to St. Mathew’s church on Sunday evening. He thought it was pretty cool because he got to wear pajamas (since it was so close to bed time). While we waited for the church service to end, we sat in the car and talked about what we were going to do. Justin was excited to bring the food to people who need some extra help. When people started to leave the church, we went to work! Justin liked using his “strong muscles” to bring the bags to the car. Justin and I made 4 trips back and forth to the car before 2 women noticed what we were doing and asked if they could help.  The two of them were able to pick up the big bin of food and make it to the car in one trip. Justin was very impressed and happy that they helped us out. We thanked them and took the food back to our house (leaving it in the car overnight)……

CLICK HERE to read more.

17

Cradles to Crayons–A Guest Post by Chloe (age 11)–4/02/19

I am so excited to have one of our INCREDIBLE kids writing for the site today!  Please welcome Chloe!  Chloe is 11 years old and wanted to share with you an amazing organization called Cradles to Crayons where she recently volunteered with her family and friends.  Cradles to Crayons has three locations in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago.

When I walked in for the first time, I saw hundreds and thousands of things.  It was like a big country with millions of islands!  We sat down at a table to decorate a birthday bag.  It feel very home like there.  The people assigned us to the book section, then the lady told us the rules.  One of them was don’t steal any of the books of course!  Another was no religion, holiday or family books because we don’t want to offend someone for what their culture or religion is.  And we don’t want to put in books about a family because that might make a little girl or boy feel bad about their circumstances.

One job was to sort books into their right age group, another was to make piles of books and put them in the finished age categories.  The age groups started at zero to two, up to eleven to twelve.  I did both jobs.

Click HERE to read more…

16
photo taken from the Eagle Tribune, March 23rd

Showing Solidarity–3/29/19

The kids and I were very blessed to be part of a Peace and Solidarity rally last Friday.  The event was organized to show support and love for the people of our local Islamic Center, after the terror attack in New Zealand a week prior. We represented the Kids in Service NH community, as we came together with a small crowd in the cold and rain.

My hero Joe, who runs Merrimack Valley Hope Mission, put together this beautiful peace rally.  For the past 3 1/2 years, Merrimack Valley Hope Mission has organized lunches for the homeless population to be distributed on Fridays.  They have only missed one day (because of a blizzard) in that time period.  Joe arranged the rally to begin right before this weekly ritual and welcomed all in the park to attend.

Click HERE to read more…

2

Wall of Gratitude–3/21/19

For those of you who don’t know, one of my favorite parts of my work with Kids in Service is meeting with the children of my local Kids in Service group.  I have run this group for the past 4 year and the last two years we have had a word of the year that acts as our theme.   Last year the word of the year was Kindness and this year it is Gratitude.  To start off our meeting this month, I read Look and be Grateful by Tomie dePaola.  It is a very simple book but a nice quick read for younger children.

After the book, I had all of the kids look closely at the board.  It said, “Wall of Gratitude” and I had written each of their names on a star stickie note and placed it on the board.  This meeting had children ages 0-12 and the younger children each lit up when they found their name.  One little boy, wanted to hold onto his name (and the name of his baby sister), he was so excited.  I told them that I was grateful for each and every one of them and that is why their names were on the board.

Click Here to read more…

Books for Earth Day

We Were in the Way–3/14/19

Yesterday the kids and I volunteered for a two hour shift at the local food bank.  We have volunteered here a few times before on weekends or in the evening and have had great experiences.  I signed up online a few weeks ago for a morning shift and we took a quick break from homeschooling to volunteer. After our time serving, my son summed up our experience when he said,  “Mom, we were in the way.”

When we arrived, one of the staff looked at us with recognition but great surprise.  “You signed up online for today?” she asked.  “Well, we will find something for you to do.”  The food bank was a well-oiled machine with twelve to fifteen adults who all had a purpose.   We were put in charge of sorting toiletries and spent 30 enjoyable minutes with a task that was meant for us (we turned it into a game which made it a lot of fun).

Click HERE to read more…

3 

Mindful March–2/26/19

Kids in Service is celebrating Mindful March next month and we hope you will join us.    We at Kids in Service believe that teaching children to be mindful is an important step in helping them to be kind and compassionate human beings. What does it mean to be mindful?  Jon Kabat-Zinn says that, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness-Definition1

Learning the art of mindfulness can give children (and adults) the tools to deal with daily stress and anxiety.  When one is mindful, we are more compassionate, calm, grateful, present and better in control of our emotions.  There is so much research out there about the benefits of children learning mindful practices.  These practices can help them to be open to learning new things, have longer attention spans, regulate their emotions and be more productive.

I have been on my own mindful journey for the past 3 years.  I have to be honest, it has been difficult for my type A, high-strung personality to learn these new ways of dealing with stress and anxiety.

CLICK HERE to read more.

 

Learning to Let Go–2/12/19

For the past 4 years I have run a local kids community service group.  These monthly meetings are a lot of work to prepare for but such a joy to run.  We visit a nursing home every other month and then on the opposite months participate in age appropriate service projects.  I am a former teacher and these monthly meetings with families fill me up and keep me invested in this important work that I am doing.  I love working with children and showing them that they can make a difference in this world no matter how old they are.

Despite the joy that these meetings bring, the day of the event always leaves me nervous and a little discouraged.  The day of our meetings, we always have families drop out last minute due to illness, school projects and other commitments.  I understand that unexpected events come up and people need to cancel (I have had to cancel commitments last minute in the past) but it is hard to watch the names on my list dwindle down each meeting day. It makes me question why I am working so hard and spending so much time preparing for these events?  How do I not disappoint the people we are trying to serve when families continue to cancel last minute?

Click HERE to read more…

 

2

Serving in the Park–2/6/19

My stomach was in knots as I made the now familiar drive to the park.  The fears shared by family members raced through my head as we got closer and closer.  The arguments that I had shared with them, “No place is safe anymore, people get shot and hurt in schools, churches and malls.”, also went through my mind.  

I took a few deep breaths and thought about the faces of those we would serve today.  I thought of the interactions that my children would have with them and the smiles that my children would bring.  “The kids make me so happy.  They remind me of a time before I screwed up my life.”  This was important work we were a part of.  We were not only passing out lunches but giving out hope, love and kindness to these people who desperately need it.

CLICK HERE to read more….

1