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Family Self Care

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The Holiday Season is a busy one and it leaves many of us stressed out, overtired and feeling a little under the weather.  Below you will find lots of ways that you and your family can focus on self-care this holiday season.  It is important to remember to care for ourselves so that our personal lights will shine bright and then we can care for others. 

  1. Set up a family game night
  2. Put on some fun music and have a family dance party
  3. Drink your water (at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces)
  4. Eat vegetables every day
  5. Move your body for at least 30 minutes
  6. Get outdoors
  7. Put on a family movie and snuggle up on the couch together
  8. Put on an audio book and draw or color as you listen to the story
  9. Start a family gratitude journal
  10. Get to Bed Early
  11. Start a Family Read Aloud Book
  12. Get takeout for dinner
  13. Call or FaceTime a family member or friend you haven’t seen in awhile
  14. Do a family yoga session (Cosmic Kids is FREE and fun for the whole family)
  15. Put your jammies on, gather some blankets, make some cocoa and head out in the car to look at Christmas lights.
  16. Work as a family to do something kind for someone else (Click HERE for some ideas)
  17. Schedule a HOME evening or a HOME day on the calendar.  Spend the entire time at home relaxing together.
  18. Take a family walk
  19. Do a puzzle together
  20. Have a family candle lit dinner.

 

What can you add to this list??

Blog, Holiday, Uncategorized

Pick One Thing

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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.

Last year was a perfect example of this.  I scheduled so many service opportunities for my family, that we were left EXHAUSTED by the time Christmas came around.  I thought that if I shared the idea on my Kids in Service website, then I should be out there doing it!  We practically took on a part time job at the Salvation Army ringing bells once a week for a two hour shift, we volunteered twice at the Food Bank, served lunch to the homeless in the park, shopped for children in need, did the Reverse Advent Calendar, delivered our Christmas jar, baked cookies for the postal employees, visited a woman’s rehabilitation home, gave out a dozen seeds of kindness, Jingled 8 families (EIGHT?!?!), visited the local nursing home and tried to complete EVERY DAY on our Kindness Calendar.  It was a rollercoaster of a month with so many emotions.  We were TIRED, INSPIRED, STRESSED OUT, JOYFUL and by the end my kids started to resent it all and would groan when it was time to go.

One morning, as I sternly told my children to SMILE while we were ringing bells in the frigid cold, I had an out of body experience.  What was I doing?  Was I being as kind to my children as I was to the strangers who put change in the red bucket?  Was this manic pace of helping others, hurting us?  We were running from one project to the next, all while trying to fit in homeschool, chores, making homemade gifts and Christmas fun.  That is when I admitted to myself it was too much.

This December already looks a lot different in our house.  We decided on a few favorite service projects (many of them simple) to complete over the course of the month and have had to say no to many others.  We have also cut way back on our homemade gifts.  Instead we are playing daily board games, reading holiday stories together and trying to save some whitespace in our crazy calendar.

Why am I sharing this story?  I want to encourage YOU (or anyone who is still reading at this point) to pick only ONE act of kindness to do as a family this holiday.  Pick just one!  I know there are so many options this time of year but our calendars are also way more hectic.  Save those service projects for other times of year when you have more time and space to devote to them.  The food bank needs help ALL year long and the nursing home residents need cheering up more in March than they do now with all of the carol groups coming through.

Pick ONE thing and it can be a simple thing.  Maybe you buy some $5 gift cards to a local coffee shop to spread them around to people who could use a little cheer.  Or pick one tag off of the giving tree, bake cookies for a neighbor or pick one of our other holiday kindness ideas.  Whatever you pick, talk it over as a family and make sure that the activity does not add any more stress to the season.  It is important to remember self-care for EVERYONE in your home this holiday.  If you are not taking care of yourselves, then you will not be able take care of others.

The only way you can be a LIGHT this holiday season is to take care of yourself.

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Granting Wishes

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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 Project would foster some connections between the kids and residents that would lead to an Adopt a Grandparent program in the fall.

Twenty children signed up for this project and the group has visited three times now and each time has been magical.  The kids break into small groups and have a list of residents they are to visit.  Each week I stress that their main goal is not to gather the wishes (that is the secondary goal) but to make a connection with the senior and get to know them.  It has been so much fun to watch the interactions between the seniors and the students.  The kids have asked about what life was like when they were children, their interests, about their families and their wishes and dreams.

“They were just like us!” one girl said during our reflection time.  “I am so surprised at how easy they are to talk with.” another boy said.  “I was so nervous when I came but I feel so good after the visits.”

Many of the wishes that the kids collected are very simple to grant (Oreo cookies, crossword puzzle books, DVDs) and others are harder to grant (their spouse back, a time-machine and World Peace).  We have tried to find at least one wish for each resident that we can grant and now the kids are working to make them come true.

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This week we will meet to grant the wishes and I can’t wait!  We have already granted two wishes and the recipients were overjoyed.  One was a golfer, who golfs all over her small room.  We brought her bright golf balls (so that she can easily spot them) and a putting machine so that the ball will return to her once she reaches the hole.  “This is all for me?” she said, and she embraced the girls in a group hug.  “Please come back and see me again!” she said to the girls.   It was a beautiful moment and this project has been one of the highlights of my summer!

 

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Mindful Giveaway

Mindfulness isn't difficult. We just need to remember to do it.

Mindful Giveaway starts Wednesday, March 13th and ends March 15th at 11:59 PM EST.

Sweepstakes Rules

Book Corner, Holiday, Kindness, Uncategorized

Black History Month

“Even though we may have the different skin color, we’re still the same type of people, no matter what.” -Simsola 6th Grade–Global Citizen Video

February is a month of KINDNESS here at Kids in Service and also a time to celebrate our differences.  As part of this celebration we wanted to take a moment and recognize Black History Month.  So many people have dedicated their lives to making sure that all people in our country have a voice.  They have fought (and continue to fight) for a world where everyone is respected and treated with kindness no matter their beliefs, the color of their skin, their gender, or their place in society.

As part of Black History MonthKids in Service would like to celebrate the people who have fought for civil rights in this country.  We have a lot of resources below that you can share with your children.  These books and movies are meant to be a springboard to have a conversation with your children about acceptance, bravery, respect, celebrating our differences and KINDNESS.

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CLICK HERE for a FREE Printable Book list for the library or local bookstore.

Books

image.pngThe Ordinary People Change the World books by Brad Meltzer are well LOVED in our house.  I think my daughter has almost every one of them (she may be missing 2 or 3) and reads them daily.  I love them because they show that famous people who have changed the world are still people after all.  Most have have had to overcome a lot of adversity and challenges to make change happen.   Brad makes the world of biographies so much fun and the illustrations by Christoper Eliopoulos are wonderful.  They always hide the next famous person they are planning to write a biography for at the end of the book and it so much fun to hunt for them.  The Harriet Tubman book is my daughters favorite in the series.  She loved learning about how brave Harriet was and how many people she helped to escape slavery. This series also has books about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and Jackie Robinson for Black History Month.  Ages 5 and up

 

image.pngI use to read this book every February in my 2nd and 3rd grade class.  It is a wonderful story of Rosa Parks life and how her one courageous act started a civil rights movement.  This book would be great to share with children ages 6 and up.  There is a lot of information in this book and it is a great springboard to a rich conversation about segregation and prejudice.  I am a strong believer that a good picture book can be used for children in ANY grade (even high school) and I believe that this is one of them.

 

image.pngThis beautiful book tells the tale of Peg Leg Joe, an old white sailor, and the song he use to teach slaves about the Underground Railroad.  This book tells the tale of one family as they follow the words to Peg Leg Joe’s song and escape their life of slavery.    The Drinking Gourd is a gentle book about this difficult subject and would be great  for children ages 6 and up.

 

 

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This is another wonderful biography that I use to read to my 2nd and 3rd grade class every year.  Martin’s Big Words is the biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was written for children ages 5 and up.  This beautiful biography is easy for children to understand,  has beautiful illustrations and weaves Dr. King’s famous words throughout it.

 

 

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This book celebrates the lives of 40 African American women.  These brave and inspirational women have made a difference in our world. Each woman has a page long biography and a full page sweet illustration of them.  This is part of the Little Leaders and Dreamers series by Vashti Harrison.  This is a wonderful resource and would be great for ages 8 and up.

 

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Here’s a book for the little ones.  This board book is a younger version of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History.  This shorter and simpler book celebrates the lives of 18 African American woman.  The sweet illustrations and language in this book make it a wonderful story to share with young children.  It is never to early to encourage children to be brave and follow their dreams.

 

Movies

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  1. Garretts Gift--This 17 minute movie can be found FREE on Netflix.  The movie tells the story of African American inventor Garrett Morgan’s life.  Garrett Morgan is responsible for inventing the traffic signal, the gas mask, chemical hair straightening solution and many other things. This movie teaches that we all have gifts to share with this world.  All we need is a little support, encouragement and the right tools.  The story is told by Queen Latifah and the animation is simple but fun and would be great for ages 4 and up.
  2. Dancing in the Light the story of Janet Collins–This 17 minute movie can be found on NETFLIX.  It is the story of Janet Collins an African American ballerina in the 1930s.  She was the first African American to dance at the Metropolitan Opera house but dealt with a lot of racism in her career (the Ballet Rouse asked her to paint her face white in order to perform).  This uplifting story is narrated by Chris Rock and is great for ages 4 and up.
  3. Follow the Drinking Gourd–My kids and I rented this 26 minute movie on Amazon.  Morgan Freeman narrates the story of the Drinking Gourd by Bernardine Connelly while the beautiful illustrations from Yvonne Buchanan are shown on the screen.  We really enjoyed this historical fiction tale and learned a lot about Peg Leg Joe, the Drinking Gourd and the Underground Railroad. This movie is listed for ages 6 and up but I would think it would be better for 7 and up.
  4. Ruby Bridges–This Disney move is not rated and unfortunately not reviewed on Common Sense Media.  It is on our list of movies to watch this month as we continue our study of the Civil Rights Movement.  From what I have read, people recommend it to children ages 7 and up.
  5. Remember the Titans–I LOVE sports films and this is one of my favorites.  This movie is the based on a true story of two high schools integrating after segregation has ended. The story follows the integration of the football team and is a powerful story of racism, acceptance, respect and teamwork.   This movie is rated PG and recommended for ages 10 and up.
  6. Hidden Figures–This was one case where I loved the movie as much as the book (that rarely happens).  This is the true story of the unsung heroes behind the mathematics of the space program.  The story follows the lives of three strong and brilliant African American women (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson) and their struggle to find acceptance and respect at NASA while they work to put John Glenn into orbit.  This movie is rated PG and recommended for ages 10 and up.

 

Book Corner, Uncategorized

Kids in Service FREE Printable Book List

Kids in Service Printable Booklist

We have compiled all of our book recommendations from the Kids in Service site into one handy, printable list.  This way you can grab it when you are headed to the library or download it to your phone so that you always have it.  It is organized by category and has age recommendations for each book. The best part is, it’s FREE!

This list is updated each month when we add new book recommendations to the site. We hope that this list will inspire you to share some good stories with the little guys in your life today!

Click on any of the icons to download our list.  

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Valentine’s Day

February is a great time to focus on KINDNESS.  When my children were small, my husband and I decided against presents for Valentine’s Day.  This has meant that the holiday has always been centered around LOVE and KINDNESS.

We spend the two weeks before Valentine’s Day focusing on kind deeds for one another and the people we care about.  Here are some of the things that we do to help keep the focus on kindness and love.

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1. Kindness Jar–We made our Kindness Jar about a year ago and it stays out in our dining room as a constant reminder to think of others and to be kind.  We plan to pull out a new kind deed from the jar each day for the Kids in Service 7 days of Kindness Challenge.  Click HERE for directions on how to make your own Kindness Jar and a FREE printable of kind deeds.

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Click HERE to learn about our 7 days of Kindness Challenge.

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2. Valentine’s Day Count Down--I started this tradition when the kids were little.  We have 14 envelopes to mark the days from February 1st-14th.  Each envelope contains a slip of paper with a fun activity or project for us to do on that day.  The envelopes include: Make your Valentine’s Today, Movie Night, Outdoor Adventure, Make a treat for the Birds, Good Deed Day, Call Someone You Love, Bake Cookies, Family Game Night etc.

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3. Valentine Mailboxes--When my son was four and daughter was one, we made family Valentine Mailboxes (you know like the ones you make at school).  Our first mailboxes are pictured above.  A few years later I found cute little metal mailboxes in the Target dollar bins.  These mailboxes come out of the attic on February 1st and we spend the next two weeks writing each other notes.  I love the Target Mailboxes because there is a flag to put up to let the person know that they have mail.  Once and a while, I will drop a sweet treat in the mailboxes, that is always a fun mail day.

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4. Heart Attack–I saw this idea a few years back on the Skip to my Lou site and had to give it a try.  It was so easy to do and made the three people in my house smile every morning when they saw the new heart on their door.  I always make enough hearts to add a new one every day for 14 days.  You could condense it to 5 or 7 days to make life easier.

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5. Make Homemade Valentine’s Day Cards–My kids and I make our own homemade Valentine’s each year.  I have them draw out four designs on one sheet of card stock and then color photocopy the design so that we have enough to send out.  I love our original designs and I copy enough so that we can send them to all of our favorite people near and far.  We also bring a few homemade cards to cheer up the residents of our local nursing home.  The residents always love the homemade cards and gush over the kind gesture.  It is such a sweet site to witness.

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6. Project Dollar Store–Valentine’s Day is a great time to go on a Project Dollar Store Mission.  You can read all about that SECRET MISSION HERE.

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7. Winter Sun Catchers–This activity is so fun and easy to do and can be a nice Valentine’s Day treat for the birds and animals in your yard. We used paper for our hearts and did need to go outdoors to collect the paper when the ice melted.  This year we are going to try for natural hearts and adding more birdseed.  They are so pretty.  You can learn how to make there on the Twig and Toadstool site.

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Click HERE for a list of Books for Valentine’s Day

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Click HERE to learn more.

Uncategorized

What is Hygge?

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This winter on the Kids and Service site, we will be exploring the concept of hygge.  What is hygge you ask and how do you pronounce this funny word?  Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga) is a Danish word and concept.  It is hard to explain but it may be the reason that the people of Denmark are among the happiest in the world.  To my family, hygge is a feeling of coziness which invites you to be mindful and use your five senses. It is about gathering, slowing down and spending quality time together.

Why am I bringing the concept of hygge to Kids in Service?  Well you can thank my friend Claire for that.  She knows how passionate I am about this topic and suggested I share it with all of you.  One of the most important lessons I have learned from Claire and her teachings, is the concept of putting on your own oxygen mask first. The truth is that you can not serve others in your life if you are feeling run down or depleted. I am hoping that hygge will be a way for you and your family to give yourselves a little self-care so that you will be ready to go out into the world and help others.

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There will be a many posts over the next few weeks exploring the concept of hygge.  We will explore how you can create a hygge feeling in your home through the five senses, share some great books to read together as a family, talk about dedicating time to hygge as a family each week, share some cozy service projects that you can do together at home and share ways that you can incorporate hygge into your lives all year long.

It will cost you NO money to put the concept of hygge into action in your home.  Hygge is all about togetherness, being mindful, creating a cozy environment, having a positive perspective and being grateful for what you already have.  Denmark has some of the longest, coldest and darkest winters, yet its people are so happy.   I believe this is because of hygge.  Hygge is a powerful concept and I invite you to explore it more with your family this winter.

Peace-