FAMILY should be a safety net—how is yours holding up?

Image“When you are young, your whole life is about fun. Then, you grow up and learn to be cautious. You could break a bone or a heart. You look before you leap, and sometimes you don’t leap at all because there’s not always someone to catch you. And in life, there is no safety net.”   -unknown

I was in a department store the other day walking the video isle when I heard a young couple planning a game night on the isle next to me and discussing who should be invited. It sounded like a family game night, so it was funny to hear the husband chime in honestly “I am not sure I want to invite (so and so) she is such a killjoy.” The honest, real conversation hit me & I continued to listen..this is real life, I thought. The couple continued to debate if they should invite a specific family member & then relented knowing they ‘should.’  They called her right then and there & it was funny to hear the husband invite, then add in some possible reasons why they may not be able to come, like we won’t have anything for the kids to do or if you don’t want to, we understand. It was so interesting to hear every side of the situation from one isle over. I thought, I knew it, this does really happen!! It was just strange to actually hear it happening.

Family dynamics are an interesting thing—we all have them, some good relationships, some interesting characters, some people we don’t get along with, moments of love and hate, sarcasm or wit, lots of history together, heartbreak or heart song.

So, let me ask you this…Where do you fit in your family dynamic?? Are you a builder, a prankster, a lover, a listener, the funny one, the sarcastic one, the introvert, the extrovert, the socialite, the one who sits in the corner, the peacemaker…every one is different. Each person has their strengths, their insecurities, the way they fit, the moments they don’t.

Here are some tips, tricks and things to think about to help your family dynamic:

How well do you REALLY know your family?? have you spent enough time with them to begin to understand their likes, dislikes, their favorite hobbies, the way they joke, things that light them up, things they struggle with, the way they communicate, etc. If you don’t feel you know them as well as you should, begin to plan get togethers, have fun question and answer moments, pull out cards and have a game, while you talk about different topics.

Face time: When was the last time you had a one on one conversation with your siblings? Do you talk to them each week, monthly, daily, once a year, etc. Specific face time gives you an opportunity to get to know them, listen to their needs, begin to understand them in a personal place. Sometimes family dynamics brings about groups clicking, huddling up with specific people, jokes about one or another family member, etc, so be aware and take that personal time to have them on a one-on-one level.

Remember the golden rule: as a child we all remember our parents saying…”treat others as you would like to be treated.”  Are you treating your family the way you would want to be treated? Are you loving and kind? Are you always teasing or jabbing in fun? Do you find yourself not wanting to invite one or the other family member to a game night or event? Begin to put yourself in others shoes & try to understand how they are feeling—not invited, not involved with everyone, etc. Think of the golden rule—how would you like to be treated?

Avoid Sarcasm: In our family we grew up with the motto…”Don’t be sarcastic–its the lowest from of humor” or “Scar-casm”—even though this was our family motto my siblings are very sarcastic, sometimes very funny, other times, not so much—usually at the cost of others feelings. Indeed, it’s not surprising that the origin of the word sarcasm derives from the Greek word “sarkazein” which literally means “to tear or strip the flesh off.”  Hence, it’s no wonder that sarcasm is often preceded by the word “cutting” and that it hurts.   Here is a great article on sarcasm—title: Think Sarcasm is Funny? Think again. by Psychology today  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/think-well/201206/think-sarcasm-is-funny-think-again

Avoid labeling: Sure there have been times when you may have been difficult in certain situations, maybe you were the ‘black sheep’, the trouble maker, the goody goody…People may have a tendency to hold you hostage to your past behaviors, the way you use to do things, the reputation you use to have, but hold on…people do and can change, so try to avoid labeling anyone…especially your family. Give them the benefit of the doubt, learn about them at every stage within their life and love them through.

Keep your word: When you say something–mean it. Trust happens between friends, lovers and family. Do you leave your kids with someone to babysit them and then not show up on time (because they are family)? Do you arrive when a family event is planned or are you always late? Showing up on time shows you care. If you have a child, you know how important your word is—they will hold you to it. It is something sacred, it builds on the relationship between child and parent, it is your word that binds you & if it gets broken, so do feelings. So, why would adult relationships be any different?? Avoid mis-trust and frustration—keep your word. I think sometimes it is easier to abuse family in different situations, but keep this in mind…you are your word.

Have boundaries: we often are used, abused, mis-treated, mis-understood by those closest to us, so sometimes we need to have personal boundaries from those we love. You may need to have perimeters around how many days you take care of other people’s kids. Maybe you can only be around your mother-in-law once a month, not every Sunday. Maybe you need to speak your truth about a hurtful situation someone created. Maybe you just need to say No. It is okay to have boundaries. You will be better for it, which then allows you to be better for those situations. It is a win-win for everyone.       **Side note: a great song about Speaking your truth is by Sara Bareilles “Brave”

Be Kinder: I just went through a tough family situation where I needed to speak some truths, get out some negative feelings & learned a lot through it all—about myself, my feelings, but mostly realizing…I just wanted people to be kinder.

Family should be a place of safety, security, building, love and kindness. When those qualities get stripped away, we need to begin to try and find things that will help re-build the safety net that should be family. Family consists of those people who should be lifting you, building you to your best, allowing you to be who you are, freely sharing feelings, loving unconditionally. These are the people you have grown up with, they sometimes know you better than anyone else, they are the people who have been placed in your life to hopefully make it better, happier, worthwhile.

There is learning in all things—what are you learning from your family??

Something to think about.

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Best FAMILY Movie Night!

ImageGood Family Movies

Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.  -Walt Disney

I remember as a kid sleeping out under the stars, but the few times we did, we usually had an outdoor movie.  I am sure with six kids my parents felt getting everything ready was quite an event–dragging the heavy television into the backyard, finding something that would hold its weight, connecting the (then VHS player) with the many extension cords that would extend into the house, making popcorn, finding enough blankets, pillows, sleeping bags and then trying to pick a movie that everyone would like.  [A little exhausting]  Thanks Mom and Dad. Your efforts were well worth the good memories.

I now do the same thing for my daughter Kate and her ten cousins. We try and make it a fun event because we know the memories will last even longer. Summer is short, childhood goes by so quickly, but the memories will always remain. 

Well, backyard, outdoor movies are one of my favorite memories for summer fun, so I thought I would compile some top family movies to make your  movie night fabulous!!! 

According to IMDb “Highest Rated Family Feature Films with at least 1,000 votes”

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)  2. Spirited Away  3. Toy Story 3   4. Wall-E    5. The Lion King   6. The Kid   7. Up   8. Toy Story   9. The Gold Rush   10. My Neighbor Totoro   11. The Wizard of Oz   12. How to train your dragon   13. Finding Nemo   14. Children of Heaven   15. Howl’s Moving Castle   16. The Princess Bride   17. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale   18. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:Part 2   19. A Wednesday   20. Castle in the Sky

Here is the link to the rest of this list:  http://www.imdb.com/search/title?genres=family&title_type=feature&num_votes=1000,&sort=user_rating,desc

According to Parents.com their Top 10 Family Movie Classics

1 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) 2 Ella Enchanted (2004) 3 E.T. (1982) 4 Freaky Fiday (2003)

5 Harry Potter 6 The Sound of Music (1965) 7 Spy Kids (2001)

8 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) 9 Whale Rider (2003) 10 Wizard of Oz (1939)

I found this list awhile ago, but they also just listed the 50 best movies for kids and here is the link:  http://www.parents.com/fun/entertainment/movies/50-best-videos-for-kids/#page=1

According to TopTenReviews.com their Top 10 Family Movie Classics

1 E.T.   2 Wizard of Oz   3 Toy Story   4 Oliver (1968)   5 The Sound of Music   6 Up 7 Finding Nemo   8 The Incredibles   9 Time Bandits (1981)  10 A Christmas Story (1983)

They also have lists for Best Movies of each year and genre, from the 1930’s on up.

An article from Belief.net lists Family Movies that Teach Values

This article lists: It’s A Wonderful Life (teaches responsibility), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (teaches Integrity), A Man for All Seasons (teaches Courage), Babe (teaches Courtesy), Remember the Titans (teaches tolerance), Toy Story 2 (teaches loyalty), Akeelah and the Bee (teaches learning), War Games (teaches Peace), A Little Princess (teaches Helping Others), Holes (teaches Fairness)

Here is the link to the complete article:  http://www.beliefnet.com/Love-Family/2009/Family-Movies-That-Teach-Values.aspx

A few of my personal family favorites:

The Family Man (2000) is a great movie that is about a man who truly learns what is most important .

The Princess Protection Program (Disney 2009) is a great movie that teaches many good morales–kindness, believing in yourself, helping others, being princess like.

I like all the National Treasure movies—they put a fun spin on adventure, but you can also learn something within the twists and turns. I think it makes kids want to learn more about history. Plus, there is suppose to be a third out sometime in 2014. Fun for the whole family.

This also reminds me of the Night at the Museum movies–they seem to be a doorway to a child’s imagination, with a hint of history, nostalgia and lots of fun characters.

Other fun family movies that would be perfect for an outdoor movie, a family movie night or just some plain, summer FUN: The Game Plan, Nancy Drew, Dreamer, Bedtime Stories, Ever After, The Wizards of Waverly Place Movie (adventure), Nim’s Island, Return to Nim’s Island, both Nanny McPhee, The Parent Trap (old and new versions), Ella Enchanted, I could go on and on…The Kid, Freaky Friday, Tangled, Hotel for dogs…and thats not even touching on some of the great animated films like The Lorax, Despicable Me, Wreck-it Ralph, Rise of the Guardians, How to win your Dragon…and on and on…lots of fun, family movies to enjoy this summer!!

Well, as summer gets going, get outside and watch a fun, family movie!! [Or watch one inside] Make it a memorable experience with a fun show, big pillows or comfy mats, maybe some new summer pj’s, yummy food & snacks, smiles and family. Those are the ingredients to some of the best summer memories.

-Happy Summer,  Heather

Summer Bucket List to do with your Family

ImageWith less than a month before the kids get out of school I thought it would be fun to compile a giant bucket list of fun summer things to do. Summer inspires FUN!! Everyone needs SUMMER FUN no matter where you are or where you are going…so here are some fun ideas I created, came across, thought would be fun, thought you may enjoy!!!

Make smoothies with fresh, summer fruit . fly kites—even homemade ones . play card games outside on a blanket . take a paddle boat ride . have a outdoor movie (always fun) . make old fashioned frozen pops (with punch & toothpicks) . have a day where you have a family read-a-thon and read books all day . go on a nature hike . have a chalk art day where you invite friends and family to do a chalk art sidewalk show & have the best art win fun prizes . make smores over an open fire . have a picnic under the stars & learn about constellations . make tin foil meals over a fire . make a hopscotch with duct tape or chalk & play . Have a day of old school games like jacks, dice, marbles, jump rope, pick up sticks . Make a fun fort outside or inside (forts are always fun!) . make homemade sno-cones . Visit a zoo, but turn it into a scavenger hunt where you look for different objects & animals . go on a family bike ride & take along a picnic . play night games like flash light tag . go to the river & find skipping rocks, come home & paint them with funny faces, patterns or inspiring words . Get family & friends together and have a giant hide & seek game at a local park . make home made ice cream . Find a local waterfall to hike to . girls pick out a cute sundress & then paint your nails . Plant something–have every member of the family pick out their own flower & plant it, water & take care of it (family flower garden) . Have a family pizza night & make everything from scratch . Go on an overnight camp out . Have a day (preferably bad weather) & have a movie or series marathon–veg out & watch the shows (non-stop) for the entire day (i.e.: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, etc) . Have a pillow fight night- but first make the pillows (buy fleece & make knot pillows for each person in the fam) then have a fun fight . Make something and share it with someone . Leave the windows open & feel the breeze (plus it helps the planet cut down on energy use) . Have a creative ice cream night where everyone mixes all their favorite mix ins & shares their one-of-a-kind flavor . Find a pool & go night swimming . See the sun set over a lake . Find a special spot to see the sun rise . Have a fun yard sale & get rid of old toys & things you don’t need & then give the money to a charity or someone in need . Play in the sprinklers . Buy cheap cameras for everyone & visit a local garden, have them take personal pictures, create a fun gallery, assign family ‘best’ awards . Have a storytelling contest–get friends & family together to share stories & give fun awards for ‘the most creative’ ‘the funniest’ ‘the best characters’ ‘the shortest’, etc . Make pinwheels & put them in your yard . Have a fun ice age day, freeze toys in ice cubes & chip them out while you watch the movie Ice Age . Have an all day Pajama day . Have a squirt gun fight . Make summer journals . Make & decorate wood cars & have a fun, family race . Make & mail summer cards to friends from school or relatives who live far away . Visit a local nature center & learn something new . Make bird feeders, get your binoculars out & do some bird watching . Visit a local flea market & give each family member $5 to spend & see who comes up with the greatest find . Have a fun foreign word or phrase for each week–see who can remember it at the weeks end . Have a specific day each week where you unplug (no television, games, electronics, etc) . Have special Art days where you create special works of art inspired by master artists . Go take photo booth family pics . Do a 500/1000 piece puzzle together over the summer months . Take a specific number of pictures over the whole summer (i.e. 300-1,000) . Try something new like canoeing, rafting, rollerblading, kayaking, paddleboarding, etc . Go to a community fair . Find a local scenic route you have never taken the family on & make it a fun family drive together . Have a weekly cooking class where you teach the kids a special meal to make (they cook it) . Have a fondue night . Have a crepe night where you make sweet & savory crepes . Have a paper airplane contest . Go to a parade . Visit a local farm . Go to a pottery place & make a fun summer piece that is personalized . Plant giant sunflowers . Go see and outdoor concert or play . Ride a train .  Camp in the backyard . Make ribs on the bbq . Do yoga in the backyard . Make play dough . Visit a museum . Finger paint  . Take a tram or gondola ride . Ten acts of random kindness .

Well, I hope these ideas get you thinking about all the FUN you can have with your family this summer. Summer is a great place to create memories, make the days enjoyable by learning something new, being together and having great moments together!!

Happy SUMMER!!

Lessons learned from another time.

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This week my daughter’s grade has been celebrating ‘Pioneer week’ and has challenged the students to eat home lunches, wear dresses, not watch television, walk home from school, eat oatmeal for breakfast and the list goes on. We have been noticing everything in every detail we do…brushing our teeth we imagined what the pioneers used—horse hair and animal bone handles, we have talked about how they took baths, washed their clothes, how they didn’t have refrigerators or ice to keep things cold, how they didn’t have running water and had to use an outdoor hole to go the bathroom–no toilets.

It has been a week of thanks, even in the tin-foil dinners we prepared by fire last night. I wanted to try and make a memorable meal over coals, so my daughter would have a better idea of what the pioneers ate, how things were prepared, how things were done. It was a great lesson. She looked at the pile of potatoes, carrots, hamburger, onions, garlic, soup and said “yuck.” She was determined not to eat it, but with some loving nudges, she tried it & enjoyed the experience. She even had seconds. It made us truly appreciate the love that went into everything.

Even though we have so many excessities (my own word) it made us appreciate so many things we take for granted. We have music & television in every room, every car, we have running water, warm showers, running toilets, fruits & veggies (groceries) readily available for the taking, numerous pairs of shoes, more than one outfit, phones that call from anywhere, computers that do so much, cars that drive us anywhere we need to be…the list goes on and on, but this week has been a great lesson in remembering where we once were, where we have come and what we truly should and need to be grateful for. We are blessed daily with sooo much.

My mother is a wonderful story teller & has studied pioneers for years & has many amazing stories she can tell, she researched her own pioneer history & has told stories of children freezing, families selecting what little items they could take on the long journey, children making the journey without their parents, families leaving their dead loved ones behind, lots of illness and death.  It truly humbles you to think of the severe winters, the hardships, the small handcarts that held their life treasures & necessities, the sacrifices that every family made to travel so far (some from distant lands like Australia & Europe) and then arrive in a desert land to begin again…to build, to till, to try and create a new life. It’s humbling because we are given so much, so freely & we take it for granted so easily.

Take a moment and think of your rich ancestral heritage. Where did you come from? What stories are held within your family? What sacrifices were made? What can you learn from them? What can you teach your children about their history? Lots to think about.

Here is a beautiful tribute I came across that has amazing images and a gorgeous song. It made me truly imagine the long walk that the pioneers took to find a better place to live.

Life is like this…a beautiful journey to a higher place. Peace & Love to you.

Happy Earth Day!

ImageMy daughter lit up when she got on google this morning and noticed their fabulous, interactive logo. It was a delight of blooming trees, moving moons, jumping fish, swirls and scenery. It was playful and full of wonder…just like our planet…WONDERFUL!  I sang…because it’s Earth Day!! So today I am sharing tips, tricks and fun things to make your day even better, help the planet and make a small difference…wherever you are!

 

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

1. Little things do make a difference: turn the water off while you brush your teeth, fix leaky faucets or running toilets, put cans and bottles in the recycle bins, clean your air filters to help with efficiency, turn down your thermostat when you go to bed, turn off your lights when you are not using them and unplug appliances, washing laundry on cold not hot settings, take shorter showers, even driving within the speed limit cuts down on gas consumption, which helps the planet.

2. Clean out your closet—I am sure you have something to donate. There are plenty of people who could reuse your items and be grateful for them.

3. Plant a tree: One of the challenges on Earthday.org is to plant one billion trees

4. Change out your light bulbs for energy efficient ones. Even if you begin to change one at a time, the investment will pay for itself in the years to come. Compact fluorescent light bulbs last 10 times longer than a standard bulb and use at least two-thirds less energy.*science 

5. Sign up for paperless bills by paying them via the internet.

6. Ride your bike when you can, instead of driving your car. 

7. Spring clean your community. I am sure wherever you are there is some trash to pick up. Grab a bag, some friends or family and make it fun!! Turn it into a race to see who can get the most amount in a certain time. 

8. If the weather is nice open a window or door and let the fresh air in & turn off your air-conditioning. This will help conserve energy & bring in a little breeze.

9. Get outside and go on a walk, a hike, a bike ride & turn off your television, computers, games. 

10. Begin recycling. There are a lot of people who still don’t recycle. If you are one of them begin with recycling cans or water bottles, paper or sign-up with your community for a recycling service, but do something.  Example: If an office building of 7,000 workers recycled all of its office paper waste for a year, it would be the equivalent of taking almost 400 cars off the road (Source: EPA & Science.howstuffworks.com)

11. Change out any leaky faucets: Slow the flow. A faucet leaking just one drop per second wastes over 1,300 gallons per year! A leak from a hot water source wastes both water and fossil fuel, creating more greenhouse gasses. Please begin to fix this issue. *Rustletheleaf

12. Go to earthday.org and pledge an act of green or just check out some of the things they have going on. Get informed.

13. Cut down on eating meat: I am not against people eating meat, its your personal choice, but cutting down may help the planet. FYI The United Nations have concluded that meat production is responsible for around 18% of global CO2 emissions. 5,214 gallons of water are required to produce a single pound of beef, and the EPA estimates that more than 27,000 miles of US rivers have been polluted by livestock waste.  *huffingtonpost

14. Carpool

 

Other ideas:  Fun things to do to teach your family about Earth Day…

Children’s Story: Read this great story to your children to help them understand Earth Day and how one person can make a difference…http://holidays.kaboose.com/earthday-cando.html

Earth day crafts using recycling or reusing materials: http://crafts.kaboose.com/holidays/earth-day/recycling-or-reusing-materials-to-make-new-crafts.html

Another fun link from Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/artsycraftsymom/recycled-earth-day-crafts/

Check out the beautiful nature artist Andy Goldsworthy: Go to Google Images and type in Andy Goldsworthy—amazing. He also has numerous books. Inspiring Natural pieces he creates.

Teaching your children– I just came across this & thought you may enjoy this article (Kids Get Arty: Andy Goldsworthy) http://www.redtedart.com/2012/11/14/kids-get-arty-andy-goldsworthy/

Have a beautiful day. Get outside, enjoy this beautiful world we live in and do something positive to make a small change in your family, your community, your world!  Peace to you.

Put a little LOVE in all you do.

Image“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together… and I knew it.” – Tom Hanks, Sleepless In Seattle

Sticking with the theme of LOVE for the upcoming, grand occasion of Valentines, I have put together some tiny things that we do around our house to show our LOVE. Hope these ideas spark other little ideas to spread love in all you do.

Keep them cuddly: warm up robes and towels when they get out of the bath or shower. Throw a cozy blanket in the dryer when someone just needs to be bundled.

Do something sweet: write a little note (on the napkin or a tiny card) for someone’s lunch–add a fun joke, a sweet treat they will enjoy or a tiny surprise that is unexpected.

Hand writing: When my little girl is nervous about something at school, I draw a heart on her hand to remind her that my love will always be with her.

Hearts & flowers: We are big Dasani bottle drinkers (don’t worry we recycle!) so I write messages on my families water bottles…hearts, flowers, their names, love notes, feel betters, etc.

Dedications: Dedicate a song while you are driving or buy a special song that reminds you of someone you love and share it with them.  (Some good ideas off the top of my head: Bruno Mars “Just the way you are”  Rihanna “We found Love”  Christina Perri “A Thousand Years”   Usher “Without You”   Harry Connick Jr ” We are in Love”   Train “Marry Me”   Colbie Caillat “I do”   Joy Williams “Charmed Life”)

Sign Language: Have a fun personal language that you share with each other. Our family does XO with our fingers or signs I Love You or infiniti hearts, you get the idea. Make your own and make it yours. The love will follow.

Nicknames: Have fun, loving nick names that you call one another.

Make food with love: blow kisses into the meals you make, make heart pancakes, heart shaped brownies, swirl your soup in heart shapes.

Basic Care: make them take their vitamins, drink lots of water and wear their seat belt. It is the funniest thing to watch my parents fight over taking their vitamins, but my Dad simply looks at my mom and says, it’s because I love you. Who can argue with that!

Love Notes: leave little notes of love and appreciation anytime and everywhere. Leave them on the bathroom mirror, the car window, computer screen, under a pillow, etc. A cute text says you care. A fun note taped to their toothbrush that says, you make me smile=LOVE.

Pray and give thanks: pray always with a grateful heart for the little things you receive every day…for running water, for good health, that your child made it home from school, that your husband has a job, that you can run, walk, see the blue sky.

Thank you: Write a nice note on the envelopes of your bills, or on an email to your service providers thanking them for the services you receive. Thank them that you have power, heat, the Disney channel!! smile. smile.

Affection: ALWAYS give hugs and kisses, special rendezvous and intimate getaways

Surround your family with good things: Having beautiful things around helps your heart sing. Your heart=LOVE. Have pretty music playing, buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers, have inspiring quotes posted throughout the house, allow lots of light in through the windows

Quality time: I can’t stress this enough!! Go on walks, have reading time together, play games and talk.

Connect: Everyone needs to feel connection in their life, so our relationships are key. Take the time to connect. I am going to include some good Q& A topics to discuss with those you love:

Connect Questions for the one you LOVE:

1. What is something that makes you feel good about yourself?

2. What are 5 things you want to do in your life?

3. Has there ever been anything you were afraid to do? How did you handle it?

4. Some of your favorite things?

5. What trait do you feel people like most about you?

6. Do you feel it is easy to make friends? Do you feel you have good friends?

7. Do you feel you like to be social or would rather be home? 

8. What is a truly great memory for you?

9. What does perfect mean to you?

10. What is a favorite gift you have received?

11. What would you like to do more of every day?

12. Answer this…I am happy when…

13. What do you love about your family?

14. What do you love most about your relationship?

15. Think of a tough time in your life…what did you learn from it?

16. Is there anything you worry about?

17. What do you desire most out of our relationship? (good things, things to work on)

18. If you could do anything, what would it be?

19. What is one thing you would change about your life? 

20. What would be your ideal Valentines day?

Connect Questions for you to ask your Kids:

1. What is your happiest memory? 

2. Why do you like being a kid? 

3. One word to describe you would be _______. 

4. What advice would you give your parents? 

5. If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why? 

6. What do you like to do for fun? 

7. Tell about a funny time in your life. 

8. What is your favorite thing to do? Why? 

9. What is your favorite thing to do with your friends? 

10. What do you love most about your sibling (or being an only child)? 

11. What was the nicest thing you did for someone? 

12. What do you think you will be doing 10 years from now? 

13. What is your favorite thing to do in the summer? the winter?

14. What would be the ideal allowance? Tell me how you would use it. 

15. What do you think makes a person good-looking? 

16. Name two things we should do as a family on the weekend. 

17. What is the grossest thing you can think of?

18. What is something you love about your mom and dad?

19. What is your favorite vacation we have been on?

20. What are 5 things you would like to do by the time you are married? (or in your life)

Well, I hope these tiny ideas have inspired you to think of little things you can do to spread the love in your world.

Lots of LOVE to you and yours.    -Heather

1 Act of Random Kindness makes a difference

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Hello and hope all is well in your world!! Today I wanted to share one of my favorite weeks in the whole year…RAK (Random Acts of Kindness week). Each year the organization randomactsofkindness.org has a week that inspires people to break away from the norm and share kindness in the world. It is usually a week in February (the month of love–fitting). This year it is FEBRUARY 11th through the 17th!! So I wanted to share some ideas and getting you thinking and planning to do this with those you love. Make it a fun event—plan for it & share it with friends & family, get out and make a difference in your community, your neighborhood, your family, your world!

I was lovingly reminded that this RAK week was coming up as I was watching the sweet movie “Evan Almighty” with my little daughter. It reminded me as Morgan Freeman spelled out the words ARK…1 ACT of RANDOM KINDNESS will make a difference.

So, in the spirit of LOVE, HAPPINESS and making a DIFFERENCE, here are some thought and ideas to enjoy your RAK week…

If you have read my blog you know I have a nine-year-old daughter who is an only child and one of my greatest fears is that she is going to grow up and be selfish!! Especially after reading an article about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who was an only child and personally admitted how selfish he had been. Every red flag went up, Am I doing enough to help this little person think of others??? 

Ever since she was little we have done random acts of kindness…made brownies for the fire department, created hand made valentines for a local old folks home, handed out teddy bears to crossing guards, bought cookies for the McDonald’s employees…

I am always trying to think of ways to get our little family out of ourselves and doing something for someone else. Hopefully we are heading in the right direction, it is an ongoing, loving lesson for our lives. When we think of others, the world is better for it! Our family is better for it!

This last year (during RAK week ) was especially fun because we got others to celebrate RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) with some neighbor girls.  We made a 15 foot banner filled with kindness ideas kids could do & we hung it at their school. In the true spirit of RAK week I made a flyer and sent it to a large local email list in hopes that people would feel the giving spirit & it worked! I received a call from one of my neighbors (that I did not know very well) and she was filled with enthusiasm at the idea of RAK week!

She expressed how her 38th birthday was this particular week and that she decided she was going to take her family and do 38 random acts of kindness in celebration of her birthday!!.

Outstanding idea!

I saw her the next week at a school function and she lit up!! It was soo wonderful to see someone so excited to share in their experience. She told me how they handed out quarters to kids at a local hamburger restaurant so they could use the candy machines. They bought food for the people behind them in the drive-thru, they took a bunch of water bottles and handed them out at a local rec center…the enthusiasm was infectious. I loved it!! Then she got really quiet and she said, “but the best part of it all was that my son (who I struggle with) truly got in the spirit of giving. He is kinder today, he was writing notes to our family, he was moved more than anyone by this experience.”

That was the best part! She even said that he wanted to do the same thing for his birthday!

What a beautiful thing!!

If we can do one thing for our kids…it is to be an example of love, get out and do something random for someone else. Teach them to write thank you cards, help them each week think of some way to serve someone else. Make a dinner for someone in need, take a batch of brownies to someone you don’t know, say thank you to EVERYONE! It is truly the little things that make a big difference.

Here are some additional ideas from the RAK website and other sources:  Clean up graffiti, Donate used books to a library, Give care packs to the homeless (or a blanket), Share your talent of music with the elderly, Help someone with yard work or snow removal, Let someone go in line in front of you, Write a note of appreciation to a teacher, Mentor a child who needs a friend, Pay for a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks, Return shopping carts, Thank your police or fire department with a fun note or treat, Write a letter or email to someone who made a difference in your life, Visit an animal shelter, Take a bag of dog or cat food to your local shelter, pick up trash at the beach or nearby nature trail or neighborhood, Send a nice note thanking a soldier, Be a designated driver, Give someone flowers, Visit someone who is sick, Collect canned food and give it to your local food bank, Donate $1 to your child’s favorite charity, Start a charity day at your work & give the money to a good cause, Help someone with their groceries, Give hugs, Leave a nice note for your local mail carrier, Thank your child’s bus driver or crossing guard, Plant a tree, Give compliments, Send something inspiring to those you have on your email list, Be a nice driver on the road, Take shorter showers this week, SMILE, Start a piggy bank for a cause, Share something yummy with coworkers, Say thank you to your school principal and office help, Tell your parents (or send a letter or email) how much you appreciate them & everything they’ve done for you, Let your staff leave a little early from work & thank them for all they do, give flowers to be delivered with meal delivery programs, Make valentine hearts for the elderly home, Give someone a “heart attack” on their door (bunch of paper hearts that say nice things), Invite someone new in the neighborhood over for dinner, Have your child take a bunch of fun stickers or suckers and hand them out when the final bell rings & remind everyone that it is RAK week, genuinely thank your waitress for doing such a good job, make and share kindness bookmarks or give them to the school library to give away, Leave a $20 in an envelope and leave it for someone in need, give freely, spread LOVE everywhere you can…

-Spread Love, Heather

–not sure who to credit the picture, but thank you.