A Lesson on Charity from my Kids

For quite some time now, I have been thinking about taking my kids to visit some elderly folks in a nursing home. I thought this would be a wonderful way to practice the works of mercy together and to nourish a spirit of charity and service.

However, each time I have considered doing this, I have fairly quickly talked myself out of it, because of thoughts about how my girls will think the home smells funny, or they won’t feel comfortable talking to the residents, or they’ll mumble and no one will be able to hear them. This has always quickly led to imaginings of myself, in such a situation, being forced to try to make small talk while shushing complaining kids, and the idea would just shrivel and die, right there. My little introverted self does not like small talk.

So, I have resisted doing this good deed. Repeatedly.

About two weeks ago, I got an email from coordinator of pastor ministry at our parish, asking for volunteers to take flowers and Easter gifts to elderly and home bound individuals in a local nursing home. I decided that this was my chance to just get over myself and do something with my kids to serve others, and I quickly replied to the email, before I could talk myself out of it.

I’m so, so glad I did.

When I told them that we were going to visit a nursing home to take gifts to some of the residents, they immediately began to cheer happily. I thought they might be nervous and/or reluctant. Instead they were excited and eager.


Before we went to the nursing home, I talked to the girls about what to expect and coached them on how to behave. I warned them that the home might smell funny and told them not to complain, or pinch their noses, or otherwise draw attention to it. I reminded them to speak clearly and not too fast (one of my girls is a super speed talker!), and that some of the people might not hear very well so they might have to speak a bit loudly. They said, “Like we do with Grandpa?” Yes. They know the drill. We talked about things they might bring up in conversation. I was pretty sure that they would be tongue-tied, and all the conversation would be left to me.

When we go to the home, they were poised, polite, and articulate, and so kind and loving towards the people we met.

I was humbled by their unselfconsciousness and their easy manner with the residents we spoke to. They weren’t uncomfortable at all. They weren’t tongue-tied, or mumbling, or complaining in the slightest.

In fact, they wanted to keep meeting and giving to more people. On the first day we visited, we were only able to deliver the gifts we had brought to two of the four residents we were assigned. The other two did not answer our knocking. I was fully prepared to take the two gifts we had left back to the coordinator of the project, tell her we weren’t able to make contact, and be done with it.

The girls wanted to go back the next day and try again.

So we did. And we got a few extra names in case we still weren’t able to deliver the gifts to those on our list. We managed to deliver both of our remaining gifts and when the coordinator asked us if we wanted to make one more visit, my girls excitedly exclaimed that they did.

Five encounters. Six elderly people (we delivered one gift to a married couple). The smiles on the faces of the residents and the care that my girls showed toward them just warmed my heart.

The girls felt a special affinity for one elderly lady we met, and asked if we could go back and visit her again. I told them that we didn’t want to just keep going to someone’s home without being invited, but that we could write a letter to the lady, and maybe visit her again if she invites us. They have been talking about her daily since we met her last week, and they are so excited about the idea of potentially going back to see her again.


^^ This was their excitement after we finished delivering the gifts ^^

I learned a lot about my kids (and myself) during this experience. A few of the high points:

Small talk isn’t quite as horrible as I make it out to be in my mind in anticipation of it. I’m not good at it, but I can manage, and when it’s in service to someone else who is lonely, I need to just get over myself.

Also, my kids are so much more capable, caring, and giving than I sometimes give them credit for. I know that they are these things, but sometimes I forget how mature they’re getting. And maybe I underestimate them. I certainly did in this situation.

The biggest take away from this experience was for me to remember not to put my own insecurities onto my kids. I’m self-conscious in situations where I need to make small talk with strangers. They are not. I’m nervous about cold calling at someone’s door, even if it is to deliver a gift to him or her. They are not.

They are confident. They are well-spoken. They are kind. They seem to have become even more of all of these qualities as a result of this experience.

I need to just get out of their way.

Some Never-Before-Seen Selfies – All for a Good Cause #35K4SMA

If you happen to follow me on Instagram or if you’re a friend of my personal page on Facebook, you may have seen this photo already this morning:


I posted it bright and early, even though I really, really hate selfies. I’m not really opposed to them in general, I mean when other people post them. I don’t hate selfies on principle. I hate them because of vanity.

I cannot, for the life of me, seem to take a selfie in which I look even a little bit normal. Every time, every. time., I either end up all forehead or all nose or double-chinned or something else utterly not flattering. So I don’t do selfies. The few times that I’ve tried, they don’t end up anywhere that others can see them. Not on Instagram, not on FB, not here on the old blog (except once in this post, but that selfie was very dark).

However, today I made an exception. In fact, I’m about to make a big exception and even show you all some of the selfies I’ve never posted before, all in the name of a good cause.

35K 4 SMA 

I already posted a couple of weeks ago about how I was going to run 5K this week and why. Kelly, the mom who is running 35K for SMA has two little boys with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), and she is trying to raise money for other families who are struggling with the bills that come along with this diagnosis. Bills for necessities like medical expenses, special equipment, home modifications, etc. I donated money to the cause (you can too, hint, hint, right HERE), but I’m also just trying to let others know what Kelly is trying to do.

So, back to the selfies. For the first time ever, I’m going to share my selfie fails (i.e. all of them). There aren’t many, because I learned pretty early-on that selfies are not for me, but here you go.

Here’s one I tried to take when I got my bangs cut in December:


My chins and I decided that wasn’t the most flattering look for us.

Weird frown. And the nose.

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Dark. And grim:


The only other ones I could find were those from this morning, though there’s plenty of material here. I took a lot before I ended up with one that looked halfway decent.

Like this one that I took immediately after finishing my run:


I was still gasping for air, and I couldn’t hold my phone steady to take the picture!

Next I got this one:


The lighting was so bad and you can’t really read the sign (which is kind of the whole point), so I tried again. And got this:


Just. No. Remember what I said up there ^^ about the all-nose or all-forehead thing? I think I managed to be both all-nose and all-forhead in that one.

Then all-nose in this one:



I even took a few while still on the treadmill:

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And now you see why I do not have a great love of the selfie.

But you all keep posting yours! Maybe if you get on it quickly, you can even do a sweaty one for 5K for SMA!! You know you want to 🙂

The Holiday Spirit

I’m really getting into the holiday spirit now.  That means I’m listening to Christmas music, enjoying the lights and decor, and starting to get a lot of my shopping done, which means looking for good bargains.  Of course, if you think about bargains this time of year, everyone thinks about Black Friday.  Now, I love finding a bargain.  I mean, I really love finding a bargain.  But I do not love going shopping when the stores are crowded, let alone when they are jam packed with crazy people fighting over the last “Tickle Me Elmo” or whatever the latest must-have item is for Christmas.  Yes, I know “Tickle Me Elmo” was the big thing in about 1996.  No, I do not have the slightest idea what hot toys are selling out in stores this year.  I don’t watch much TV and I don’t shop on Black Friday, so I’m clueless about this stuff.  And you did read that right.  As much as I love a good deal, I do not go shopping on Black Friday.  Ever.  I especially don’t go shopping at midnight on Thanksgiving.   What?! The idea of the crowds and insanity makes me feel a little ill.  I don’t even like going grocery shopping on a weekend or after 4 pm.  Grocery shopping at 9 am on a Tuesday when the stores are nearly deserted is one of the secret perks of being a stay-at-home mom.  But I digress.  Back to the bargain shopping…
I am happy to report that I managed to get three fabulous deals in the past week in spite of my Black Friday boycott.  Deal #1 was before Thanksgiving at Kohl’s.  You may remember that I wrote about my distress over being unable to find a decent maternity blazer to wear to testify in court (you can read about it here if you’re so inclined).  I essentially was not able to find one and settled for a black cardigan.  I have worn that cardigan to court twice, and felt like a frump both times.  Then I got subpoenaed again.  I finally decided that I need to just buy a non-maternity black blazer in my regular size that I can wear unbuttoned for now and then continue to wear when I’m not pregnant anymore.  That way I don’t feel bad about spending money on a maternity item I’ll rarely wear, and I’ll add a staple to my wardrobe that I should really already have.  I mean, how can I not have a black blazer?  I checked Kohl’s last week when Lass and I were running errands after dropping Miss off at school.  I found a blazer there.  And even though it was before Thanksgiving, it was on sale.  I got a great blazer for about $35!!  Okay, so this wasn’t a holiday gift find, but saving money still gets me in the spirit.
Deal #2 was for this beautiful necklace.  This was a Black Friday online sale in this awesome Etsy shop.  I am kind of addicted to these necklaces, and I got a super deal on this one.  Plus, I don’t have to pay shipping because the mama who makes them lives nearby and her son goes to preschool with Miss.  Score!  Oh yeah, I guess this wasn’t a holiday gift find either, but really the sale was too good to pass up.
Deal #3 and the best one yet was a find for Miss.  I got her a pair of Land’s End snow boots that were regularly priced at about $50.  They are on sale for $25 right now. Plus I got a special “Cyber Monday” additional discount code and free shipping.  I paid about $18 for them!!  Woohoo!
Another thing that has really gotten me into the spirit of the season is buying gifts for some local children for Christmas.  Last year we packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse.  That is a great cause, but this year I wanted to give to a more local cause.  I looked online for some local charities and found out our police station has a program where they match you up with a child, give you the age, gender, sizes, needs, and wishes of him or her.  I requested two children and we got a three-year-old and a seven-year-old, both girls.  It was so fun to shop for them with my girls!  I think Miss is starting to understand the concept of giving to someone less fortunate than us, and she had fun picking out the toys, books, clothes, and other miscellaneous items for these little girls.  She kept asking what the little girls’ names were that we were shopping for (which of course I didn’t know).  We got school outfits, jammies, underwear, snow pants and boots, books, a baby doll and stroller, a shopping cart and toy food, and a case of art supplies, along with a few other things. Today we packed them up and took them to the police station to drop them off.  Miss even carried one of the big bags full of gifts all by herself.  She was so proud and kept declining my offers to help her.  She even got a “Junior Officer” badge sticker from the officer at the station.  It was such a fun experience.
And finally, to wrap up this post, here are a few photos of my girls getting into the spirit watching football with their Daddy.  This photo was taken on Saturday at the beginning of the Michigan vs. Ohio State game.  And yes, my hubby was rooting for Michigan on that day. 

I love this time of year!

A Baby Named Cliff

Oh boy. I read about a baby boy named Cliff today. He’s an orphan. He has Downs Syndrome. He lives in a crummy orphanage in Eastern Europe. You can read more about him HERE. His story breaks my heart. Jeannett, the momma who writes the blog Life. Rearranged has taken on the task of raising money for little Cliff to help with the costs of his adoption so that, hopefully, it will be easier for a family to adopt him. This is a cause I felt compelled to give to, and to share with others. So, there it is. The button for the blog post about him is on my side bar to the right, so you can see a little photo of him too. Again, a glaring example that I have so, so much to be thankful for. I’m hugging my girls extra tightly today.

Operation Christmas Child

‘Tis the season for giving thanks and sharing with those less fortunate. Typically I donate money to causes I like to support. But this year I’m thinking about how to start bringing the spirit of giving home to my girls. I think writing a check or entering a credit card number online, while important in some cases, is meaningless to a child.
So I’ve decided to pack some shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, a program of Samaritan’s Purse to give shoeboxes full of gifts to children in impoverished countries. I have been talking with Miss about giving things to little boys and girls who don’t have many toys. We are sending two boxes for kids between 2 and 4 years old, one boy and one girl. We went on a shopping spree at Target, and as she “oohed” and “aahed” over the toys and other items I put in the cart, I repeatedly told her that they were not for her to keep but were to send to a child who didn’t have nice things to play with. I don’t think she really understood, but at least she heard the message.
Today we wrapped and packed our boxes. Well, I did. Miss was interested in other things like walking her baby dolls in her toy stroller.

She did get very interested once I got the toys out and the brightly colored paper to wrap the shoe boxes. Unfortunately, she was so interested I couldn’t actually get the boxes put together. The paper was ripping, the tape was pulled all over, and of course she wanted to play with all of the toys. I have to admit, as much as I wanted to let her help, I picked it all up off the floor and put it together myself on the kitchen table.
I wasn’t really sure how much the boxes would hold, and there’s still a bit of room left in the boxes, so we’ll be making another Target trip tomorrow to get some more items to get them completely full. We will also write a note to put in each of the boxes. Then we’ll take them to our local drop of point so they can get sent to some children in need. And even though I didn’t let Miss participate much in the actual packing of the boxes, I will continue to tell her what we’re doing with them and where they’re going as we finish the process of getting them sent. We will track the boxes to find out which country they are being sent to.
This week is the National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child, so if you want to pack a shoebox or two, this is the week to do it. It’s so easy and fun! Here is some info on how to pack a shoebox.
We will also be participating in a local charity like an Angel Tree or something similar, to give to others closer to home. I am excited to make these types of projects a yearly tradition for my girls, so they get a good example of the importance of giving to those less fortunate.