Friday, September 16, 2011

Week 8- Little helping hands

Our service this week was not planned but so sweet to behold. We were at our local superstore and I had stopped to chat with an old friend and her kids. While we were talking one of her kids accidentally knocked over a huge 3ft tall barrel full of Wrigleys chewing gum. Hundreds and hundreds of packs of gum went cascading across the floor, blocking 3 different aisles. It was quite a sight. My 2 older kids jumped in and began helping our friends 2 kids pick up the gum. An employee radioed to the back for a cleanup on aisle 4.  I watched in amazement as 6 other children quickly joined in, happy to help.  With 10 little hands working together we were done before the cleanup crew even arrived.

I love how eager and willing children are to serve. It doesn't matter if they know you or not. At what age did service become a chore?  I have to admit that sometimes when I think of serving I feel a little putout and don't always have the best attitude, but once I am immersed in helping I always feel like I am the one being blessed.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Week 7- Bookmarks for the Library


With it being the first week of summer, it was time to sign up for our local library Summer reading program.  We have done this in the past, and it has not really worked out- maybe because the kids were so young but most likely because I did not stay on top of recording the hours (or just lost them). I wanted this year to be different. I am not sure where I heard this idea, but if I had my kids make a whole bunch of bookmarks to donate to the library maybe it would help internalize the importance of continuing summer reading.  I am hoping the bookmarks and the program will be our key to success this year while putting a few smiles on faces from the gifts.
How we did:

This week Ashlee got to invite a friend to join us for our family service adventure, it was so fun to share this experience with her. Thanks for serving with us!

Since this involved cutting and gluing I knew it would be a slam dunk with my kids. I also knew it would take extra supervision so we did this during Ty's nap. I cut out all the bookmark shapes from thick scrapbooking paper we had on hand and then I let the kids go to town with stickers, markers, paper, some ribbon, and extra scrapbooking supplies. After about 90 minutes they decided they done. 78 darling handmade bookmarks. I let them each pick one to keep for their Summer reading books and we delivered 75 to the local library.

The kids were beaming as they proudly handed her their bookmarks. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Week 6- Alex's Lemonade Stand

The Idea:
Last week we ran to Toy's R Us to quickly find a birthday present for a friend. Our quick trip turned into a couple hours when my youngest and most mischevious child "lost" (hid? threw?ate?not sure what) my car keys somewhere in the store. After dumping out my purse and pockets, I had them make an announcement over the intercom, and then I scoured the place for 45 minutes. Nothing. At this point I am almost in tears of frustration (being hungry, tired, and 3 whining kids did not help my nerves). So, not having cell phones (I know, we are lame) I called my hubby, who luckily had only gotten home 10 minutes earlier,  jumped in the car and came to rescue us. During the additional 40 minutes we waited we bought treats and the kids started playing with the larger toys displayed in the store, one of which was a lemonade stand. It was covered in flyers asking you to donate to "Alex's Lemonade Stand" and encouraging you to have your own stand and to donate the proceeds. I grabbed a flyer to look up the address at home to further investigate our new service adventure. This is a wonderful organization which started with a front yard lemonade stand by sweet little Alex, a girl with cancer, trying to raise money to help find a cure.

How we did:
Finding this flyer on our "quick trip" was meant to be,  we had just been at Costco (before Toys R Us) where I had purchased a lemonade stand (half off, yay!) as an early birthday present for Ashlee. Coincidence? Maybe. I like to think it was the hand of God working his magic. Losing my keys, at the moment, was frustrating but if I had not lost them I would not have noticed the lemonade stand in the store with all the flyers. I am so thankful for these little moments/nudges in my life which remind me that who I am and what I do does matter and I can make a difference (however small it may be).

Right after thier first sale!

Needless to say, my kids would have a lemonade stand everyday of the year if I would let them. It was not as lucrative as I would have liked, but the kids truly enjoyed this lemonade stand. With everyone who came, I encouraged my- ultra shy -kids to Thank them and let them know that all the money is going to help kids with cancer. We made a little sign with prices and a note about all the money being donated to Alex's Lemonade stand. There is an option on their website to donate directly, but we decided to go into Toys R Us to make our donation so the kids could personally donate it and get that indescribable feeling of peace, love, and joy that naturally come when you serve.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Week 5- Disinfecting the Doorknobs

The Idea:
This past month our home has been invaded by the flu, runny noses, month long nasty colds, throwing up, and diarrhea (yuck). Lucky for us, not all at the same time. I would think we were in the clear and then someone else would come down with something completely different. We are all finally in better health-yippee! This has inspired our service adventure this week, disinfecting doorknobs and nursery toys at our church. I have heard of this being done before by our youth group (a few years ago) and while I am sure it has been done many times since, it cannot be overdone.

How we did:
 Some weeks I feel like I am trying too hard and shoving the message and spirit of our service down their throats. This week was simpler and seemed to just flow. Probably because they had just experienced being sick from germs themselves. We explained to them how we get germs and the importance of washing our hands often. So when we shared with them we were going to degerm the church they were excited. We thought it easiest to use disinfecting wipes instead of spray bottles and rags. We wiped down all the interior and exterior door handles before heading to the nursery room to clean all the toys. The kids loved getting to play/clean with the toys and were glad to know this would help stop the spread of germs, because as they put it "most kids in the nursery do not know how to wash their hands".

As we were buckling up in the car to leave a look of panic crossed Blake's face as he exclaimed, "OH NO! We are going to get sick because we did not wash our hands and all the germs got on em."  In hindsight, we should have then washed our hands, but being as it were with the kids already in the car- I felt the disinfectant not only cleaned the church but our hands as well. I can't wait until Sunday for the kids to go to church and we can again talk about our service and to see all their friends they served.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Week 4- Heart Attacks of Love

This idea came from the magical book "52 Weeks of FUN Family Service" week #7. To Heart Attack a Grandma. This involves cutting out a gaziliion paper hearts and pasting them all over the door, yard anywhere you would like to a Grandma. When I first read the book I knew this would make our list of service for a few reasons
1. It was easy for kids to do  2. It involved cutting paper which my kids LOVE  to do (with children's scissors and under supervision, of course) 3. It was inexpensive  4. It involved ding dong ditching (ringing the doorbell and running like your pants are on fire so you don't get caught).

How we did:
Awesome. This week it was decided we were going to heart attack 4 different doors belonging to 4 different people. This heart attack included cutting out 60 hearts, coloring/decorating the hearts with pictures and encouraging words (mostly "I Love you", my 5 year olds favorite thing to write), and delivering the hearts without getting caught. The cutting and decorating done we headed to the car. We started with a prayer asking the Lord to guide us to the homes that needed a little extra love tonight.  This was a sweet opportunity to let the kids feel the Lord's love as he prompted us to which homes we should go. Right away Ashlee felt the warmth that often comes when our prayers are answered and she knew the first house we needed to heart attack. This same feeling came as we talked about and delivered our hearts to the next 3 houses.

The kids did not want to get out and "heart attack" the doors with the hearts, they were too nervous they would be caught. So here are Spencer and I taping up hearts, knocking, and running. I forgot what a thrill it is to run like crazy towards the car with adrenaline pumping as you dive into the seat to make your getaway. I am not sure we made clean get aways, so hopefully they will not recognize our car! The kids thought it was hilarious seeing mom and dad run and loved seeing the doors plastered with the "love" hearts they so carefully had made.

In retrospect the only thing I would have done differently is make a sign or a special heart specifically saying "you have been heart attacked" or "(insert name of person here) has been heart attacked". This one is definately on our list to do again!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Week 3- The Neighborhood Litter Patrol

Today's idea came while walking Ashlee to school recently. There was scattered litter along the road and trails we travel on. In front of us, a teenage boy was kicking a half eaten apple along the sidewalk and then just left it there. Ashlee and Blake were shocked.  This, along with my kids dropping wrappers everywhere- be it in the car, the house, or the yard. I thought this would be a great family service to introduce. I do not want my current little Litterbugs to grow up and become big Litterbugs. (the cause of our service at hand)

How we did:
Last week after we sent off the pillowcases Ashlee, in a hopeful and excited sentiment said , "What are we going to do for our next service?" My heart just about burst out of my chest, and for a moment I felt completely full. Full of gratitude, love, and joy. I had honestly imagined our service being full of me dragging the kids behind forcing them to serve and then forcing them to be happy about it. So far it has been quite the opposite and I have been pleasantly surprised. I  keep my fingers crossed, a good plan, and plenty of fun.

I told the kids we were going to become our Neighborhood Litter Patrol.

They liked the sound of it and from then on could not wait for the weather to cooperate so we could go clean up the planet. We got gardening gloves for the kids to wear while picking up garbage and specifically told them picking up glass was not allowed. We went for a few Litter Patrol walks including around Ashlee's school and down many neighborhood streets.  We frequently used the term Litterbug which the kids thought was a hoot and consistently brought giggles each time it was mentioned. I really enjoyed picking up areas my kids were familiar with, and making it a little more personal for all of us.

Here are the kids with their treat after one of our "patrols" sitting next to their trashbag. They did not want to be Litterbugs anymore and even made sure to put their garbage in the bag. Hooray.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Week 2- Pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer

While perusing through the Family Circle magazine I noticed an article about a mother, Cindy Kerr, who started an organization called ConKerr Cancer.  It began when her son was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 and she began making pillowcases to brighten up his hospital room and to put a smile on his face.  He loved it and so she began making pillowcases for other children on the Oncology Unit. It blossomed from there. A pillowcase seems like such a small and simple thing to make. Yet for these innocent kids and teens, who are fighting for their lives, it means the world. This is such an inspiring story I knew immediately I wanted our family to be a part of it. For the full story and to see some of these amazing children you can go to their website at .

How we did:
I loved how involved the kids could be this week, even if they themselves could not sew the pillowcases. We started by introducing the idea and showing them pictures from the ConKerr Cancer website. They could see the smiling children holding their pillowcases and how happy it made them. They asked why most of them did not have any hair which led us into a sweet and tender discussion. I could see the love they felt in their hearts for these kids they did not know and a sincere desire to want to help them. They eagerly picked out the material at the fabric store they thought the kids would like. They helped me while I cut and sewed the pillowcases following- this easy pattern - found on the ConKerr Cancer website.  Ashlee and Blake were so excited to see the finished pillowcases and send them on their way at the Post Office.

Note to self:
They recommended using cotton or flannel only for the pillowcases. We chose to use flannel, but wish we would have used cotton. The fabric needed to be washed to protect the children with low immune systems. After washing, the flannel we chose pilled and frayed, which just meant we had to depill all the pillowcases. It took awhile but was worth it, and they all turned out really cute!