Friday, October 29, 2010

Challenge Week 3

"The greatest reward is not what we receive for our labor, but what we become by it."
John Ruskin

It's been so neat to hear stories from many of you and it's encouraging to know that so many of us have the same goal in mind:  to bless others.  What's been really cool has been hearing my boys talk about ways to be kind to others.  Although it's a process, I feel we are getting better each week.

You still have until Sunday (Halloween) to finish week 2 challenges.  I'm going to post week 3 today for those of you that are planners, like me.   :)  Week 3 starts Oct 31 and goes through November 7.

Act 1
Cut and hand out/leave coupons at various stores.

This might sound silly to you but in this economy, many people are struggling financially.  You may not be a big couponer but there are a lot of people out there that provide food for their families only because they find ways to cut down on their grocery bill.  I want to encourage you to look for coupons and then share them with others.  You can easily purchase a Sunday newspaper for $2 and have an assortment of coupons just from that.  Some of you may receive coupons via email.  That's perfect.  Take your children to the grocery store or any store for that matter and make a game of it.  You can either hand them out (if you happen to be on a certain aisle and notice someone looking for an item you have a coupon for then hand it directly to them)  You can also just lay coupons down right on top of the food.  This is a great opportunity to talk to your children and explain to them that some people really struggle with providing food for their families.  You never know how a few coupons will bless someone!

The other day I decided to start this challenge.  I got a coupon from Bath & B*dy Works that basically allowed you to get a free full-size product with any $10 purchase.  I decided to print several of these off before I went to the store.  Once I got inside, I started walking around and handing them out.  One lady was so appreciative.  She went on to tell me that she was looking for a couple of birthday gifts but didn't have a lot of money to spend and that this was going to help her with that.  This lady looked "normal" and nothing about her appearance led me to believe she was struggling financially.  (the reason I point this out is that we often walk right past people and assume they are okay because they look okay)  I walked out of that store feeling so great that day and realized this is something so simple and inexpensive to do.

Act 2
Bag trash

This challenge actually came from my oldest son, H.  This summer while taking my boys to swim lessons, my son asked me if we could pick up the trash on the side of the road.  It never failed that he would ask me on our way to swim and I'd always tell him to remind me at a time we were not rushing to get somewhere.  I'm embarrassed to say that we never picked up trash and I let this opportunity pass without making it a priority.  Shame on me!!  When thinking about acts of kindness the other day, I knew this was one we needed to do.  For some reason it was important to him that the Earth be kept clean and he's right.......we all need to do our part.  So before it gets too cold, I wanted to find an afternoon/evening to bag some trash.  You could do this while on a walk around your neighborhood (just take some sacks with you) or you could drive to a specific area.  It's up to you!  At this time, talk to your children about littering and how we can respect the world we live in.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Switch Witch and other Ideas

What is a Switch Witch you might ask?  Well, she comes to your house a few days after Halloween (when you are sick of all the candy that your kids don't need)  Basically the concept is to leave all your leftover Halloween candy on your doorstep one evening and the Switch Witch comes and takes it all and leaves a little treat in its place (like a book, DVD, etc.....)  I haven't done this but each year I hear about many people doing this and I think it's a smart idea.

This year my plan was to find a local doctors office to donate our unwanted candy to.  Instead, I read about this idea and thought it sounded great!  If you live in the DFW area and you want to donate your candy (non chocolate) to me then please let me know and I'll get it from you and get it to the right person.  If you are not local, then you may want to find a doctors office that accepts candy or plan for the Switch Witch to visit.  Either way, don't let all that candy just sit at your house.

While reading Chelsea's blog about donating the candy I was also excited to hear about the can drive idea she found in her homeschooling curriculum.  We plan to do this as well and donate our food to the Community Storehouse.  This is a wonderful way to involve your kids.  Let them be a part of each step of this process:  let them collect the cans on Halloween night, let them help you sort/bag them, make sure they are with you when you drop them off, and don't forget about the conversations you can have along the way that will open their eyes to the world around them. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Challenge Week 2

I hope everyone is having a good time with this weeks challenge.  You still have a couple of days to finish them off.  If you didn't get a chance to do them- that's okay!  Just stick the idea in your pocket and do them when it's good for you. 

Week 2 starts on Sunday (so it will go from Oct 24-Oct 31)  I want to give you a couple of days to gather your thoughts and any supplies you might need.

Act 1
Start a prayer journal with your child.  What a wonderful way to bless others by praying for them!
I just got 2 spiral notebooks (less than $1 each) and labeled the outside.

Then I explained to my boys that each day we are going to journal some of our prayers.  This doesn't have to be something you do every single day but maybe shoot to do it a few times a week.  This can be a quick sentence or two.  With homework and all the busy activities we all have during the week, just keep this one simple. 
Here are some memory joggers for those days when your child can't think of what to write.  I just printed it and taped it to the back of the front cover and it's there for them if they need it. 

If your child can hold a crayon and talk to you then they can do this!  My 4 year old can't write yet but he can tell me and draw about things.  He started writing "sh" and "sp" and was able to explain to me that these were the sounds he learned in speech class that day.  He wanted me to draw a little building for him to color and then I wrote out "I am thankful for my speech school."  It was exactly what he was thinking but he just needed a little help getting it on paper.  So, please don't shy away from this one just because you don't have school-aged kids.  Even preschoolers can do it!

Act 2
Pay for someones drink or food order.

I know that we all come from various financial situations so please do this one however your budget will allow. You don't have to spend a ton of money to make a big impression.  This could be something simple like paying for the person behind you at Starbucks.  You can take it further and pay for an entire meal at a restaurant if you can afford that.  Either way, try to do this with your children present. 

I'm learning that one of the biggest components of these challenges are the conversations I have with my kids.  I am taking the time to really explain to the boys what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.  Last week I found myself trying to find little acts of kindness to model for them.  Something very simple happened last week while driving.  We were in a big hurry to get to the bank.  Traffic was horrible and I was pressed for time.  I noticed a truck with it's blinker on that was trying to get over into my lane.  No one was letting him in.  It would have been real easy for me to just drive but I stopped and waved him over.  At that moment, I told the boys what was happening and that everyone was too busy to just let him in.  I told them that it would have been easy for me to justify not helping him since we were in a hurry but that it was a small act of kindness that didn't cost me anything and took just a few seconds.  So, my point is:  make sure you point out ways you constantly help others.  While these might seem obvious to us, sometimes our kids don't always notice them. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010


First, I want to thank you guys for being so excited about these challenges.  I have received many calls, texts and emails about it and it makes me feel great.  I went back and forth for a while before I even decided to start this blog.  I was nervous what people would think and wondered if anyone would do it with me.  To say I'm excited is an understatement!  I know that many of you have shared this blog with friends through email and Facebook and I think that's wonderful.  Keep it up!  The more people we have doing acts of kindness, the better! 

So today starts your first week and you have until next Sunday (the 24th) to get them done.  Come back on Fri to hear about week #2.  There are lots of good things in the works.  Also, I plan to do a few giveaways now and then so make sure that you follow this blog (just click the button on the right side of the page) so that you know when updates are made.

I'm curious what most of you do for allowance?  We started allowance with our older son back in January- just a little before he turned 7.  I know some people that start allowance much earlier than that and I think it really depends on the child.  Back in college,  I had a wonderful teacher that told our class one day about her allowance system for her son and I thought it was the neatest idea.  I tucked that idea away in my brain and couldn't wait to start this with H. I found lots of "banks" that went along with this idea.   I personally chose this one but there are a ton of them out there that teach the same concept.  Basically, H earns $6 each week for chores.  Some chores that he is responsible for are chores that allow him to earn money.  Others are just non-paying chores that he is responsible for (like putting his plate and cup away after dinner)  We try to find a balance between letting him earn money but also teach him that some things he has to do just because he is a part of our family. 

This is how we use the bank:
  • $2 goes into the "giving" section.  We personally decided to have him take $1 from that and give it to the collection plate at church each Sunday.  The other $1 stays in the container for a later time.  (this year he will be adopting his very own angel from the angel tree and all that money will go to purchase clothes and toys for that child.  More on that later!)
  • $2 goes into the "saving" section.  We really haven't decided what this section will be for.......maybe he could put this down on a car or something one day?  Still not sure.  From time to time, we will deposit it into a savings account created for him at our bank.
  • $2 goes into the "spend" section.  This can be for whatever he wants.  He has used this money to buy Lego kits and other things.  It's been nice because it gives him a sense of ownership but also teaches him that he has to wait sometimes until he has enough money to purchase it. 
  • Extras:  anytime H gets extra money for his birthday, Christmas, tooth fairy, etc...  he gets to choose where that money goes.  He can put it all in the spend or divide it up or whatever he wants to do.  It's his choice.
We've loved this bank system so far and I wanted to share it with you for those that haven't started anything yet and are maybe looking for ideas.  If you have something that works for you, please tell us about it or link up to your blog if you have an idea you've shared before.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Challenge: Week 1

Make sure that you read the previous post, "what's this all about" to see why this blog was started and why I've asked you to stop by.

Week 1:  (October 17-24)
I'm posting this a few days early to give you time to plan, organize, etc......

Act 1

Create and distribute 10 Drop Cards.  I got this idea while doing a search for acts of kindness and I immediately knew it was something I wanted to do.  These cards can be used in a variety of ways and the possibilities are just endless!  This was something I wanted to involve my kids in so I just got 5 sheets of thick paper, cut them in half, folded them, and let my kids decorate them with our marker dots.  This mom did such a great job and I was truly inspired by her creativity and her blog.  Can you say "amazing pictures?"
When I explained this to my kids they were really excited to do this!

Next, we plan to write some simple but sweet notes inside and attach small amount of money to them.  We brainstormed a list of places and came up with:
  • Taping a quarter inside and taping a couple of them to the gumball machines inside the mall.  Our mall has this big gumball area in the middle of the mall and we figured we could bless some sweet kid with a piece of gum.  I think about how many times I've been at the mall with my boys and they wanted gum and I didn't have any cash/change on me that day.  Can't you just see the smile on that sweet kids' face?
  • Taping a dollar inside and then taping the card to a vending machine or coke machine.  Now who wouldn't be excited about a free drink or snack?
  • Taping enough money inside the card to pay for a free newspaper (there is a great little breakfast restaurant we visit sometimes on the weekends and they have the newspaper vending machine right outside)

Again, the possibilities are endless and your kids will have fun coming up with ways to bless others!  I am excited to hear about where you put your drop cards and the overall experience you had.

Act 2

Do a favor for a neighbor.  This is something you can do, your kids can do, or both.  Either way, do something unexpected for someone else.  Try to have your kids involved or at least see you so that they understand the importance of helping others.  While I believe it's huge that our children do these things for others, I also feel it's equally important for them to see us doing them too.  Start praying that God opens your eyes and puts a situation before you so that you can bless someone else this week. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's this all about?

This blog was started because of a stirring I've had for some time now.  You see, I want more than anything for my boys, ages 7 and 4, to love the Lord and others around them.  While I'm pretty biased and think my kids are really neat, I will say that there is still so much I feel I need to do to prepare them for adolescence and adulthood.  Now is the time to shape their character and something inside of me longs to encourage them.  Stretch them.  Make them feel slightly uncomfortable so that they constantly change and grow.  I think we've all gotten pretty comfortable around here and I'm not okay with that anymore. 

This week I have tried to step out of the daily "craziness" for a bit and just listen to what is going on around me.  I often hear phrases such as (please insert the brattiest voice you have!) 
  • When do we get to do such and such
  • Why can't I get an Ipod like my friends
  • Not this again for dinner
  • I don't want that for a snack
  • Can't we just go to the store and get a new Lego kit?
  • It's my turn to play!

You get the idea.  The complaints and demands just keep going and going.  While we do try to teach our kids that money doesn't grow on trees, others will often get things you won't, and there really are starving kids in Africa.....I still don't feel this is enough.  Our kids, really our family, has fallen into the "I/Me" trap.  It's often all about us.

I want to stretch our family- get uncomfortable for a bit and do acts of kindness for others.  Sounds simple, right?  Sure, it's pretty easy to come up with great ideas to help others.  Executing those ideas is the hardest part. So, I am asking each of you to partner up with me and perform simple acts of kindness!

Each week, I will post 2 challenges.  You will have the full week to get those accomplished.  I know that we come from various backgrounds- some are SAHM's, some are full time moms and hold a full time job, some are in school, etc......  Hopefully only having 2 challenges a week and 7 days to do them will be realistic.  This challenge is not meant to stress anyone out or put guilt into their heads.  Some days/weeks you may not get both completed.  That's okay.  I firmly believe that any act of kindness (big or small) still makes a difference.  You can start this at any point, stop at any point, or catch up any time you can.  I plan to do this from now until December and then we will see where we are at.

I want to point out that this blog is intended to give you ideas on how you and your family can bless others.  Please know that I don't claim to know it all and many of the ideas I will list come from other sources- and credit will be given to each.  I also want to ask you to please share any and all ideas on how you or your family bless others.  I am constantly amazed at how thoughtful so many of you are and I look forward to learning from you too!  I may even use your idea in a future week.

Ready?   Set.........  Let's Go!!