October 9, 2018

A Million Little Things

The following is an honest open letter to myself that I thought other moms would be able to relate to. xo

Dear Self,

I know that you really don't like the look of your body right now.  I know it can so easily consume your thoughts. I know it sometimes triggers your anxiety and depression when you focus too much on what you don't like about your body. 

You deserve better.

Not a "better" body, but a better thought process. 

I know that telling you all of the thousands of good things about your body won't change a thing about the things you don't like about your body.  Not because you aren't grateful, but because society has molded your mind for 30+ years with unrealistic expectations. 

But you are more than just your body. 

Life is more than just your body!

Your body is simply an instrument for you to accomplish a million little things.  A million little things that can add up to be something grand.  Something awe-inspiring.  Something magnificent.  A million little things that can potentially help a million people.  Because you have a body, you can potentially add happiness to millions of people's lives by using your body to do a million little things. 

So please, please allow your thoughts to be consumed with what you can do because you have a body to house your spirit.  A spirit that is full of love and has a strong desire to help everyone you possibly can. 

If you focus on that, you can and you will spread happiness to millions of people! 



a million little things

May 23, 2018

TRAK Challenge

Hi friends!

I am excited to announce a new project I am part of, that I think you will like, too!

If you're looking for a fun way to incorporate kindness and service this summer with your family, friends, youth group, etc. then this post is for you!

Introducing the TRAK Challenge - Team Random Acts of Kindness Challenge!

TRAK Challenge

The TRAK Challenge is a Team Kindness Scavenger Hunt that you can do this summer!  Each act of kindness you do and share will be worth points!  There will be lots of fun prizes given out and it's the perfect summer activity for family reunions, scout groups, company team building, play groups & lots more!

For all of the details & to sign up, visit TRAK Challenge.com

Here's my story of how a simple act of kindness made a big difference in my life... even 5 years later!

Sign up for the TRAK Challenge here.

I want to know... what is one simple act of kindness that you'll never forget?

Tell me in the comments below!

June 12, 2017

Kindness in the Summertime

Hi friends!

I know summer days can fill up quickly, but it's my favorite time to re-focus on acts of kindness.  Maybe because I'm with my kids the WHOLE DAY, EVERY DAY, or maybe it's because arguments break out a little bit more, so doing these acts of kindness kind of resets us and grounds us, or maybe it's because the weather is nice enough to do just about anything!

Here are some of my favorite ways to do acts of kindness with my kids during summertime:

Work on a Project Throughout the Summer Together

Last year, I asked my oldest daughter (6 at the time) if she wanted to do something nice for someone else this summer.  She said yes, so we discussed several options.  She told me who she wanted to help and how she wanted to help them.  I helped fill in the gaps as needed.  One thing led to another & we planned a 'Pajama Service Party'!

We collected pajamas, stuffed animals and books (and anything else anyone wanted to donate) to families at a local domestic abuse shelter.  It was so much fun for everyone.

pajama service party

I don't know if we had more fun at the party or delivering the donations!  Paige & I both loved that she had a big part in planning it.

Pajama Service Party

We will be planning something new this summer!

You can do this, too!  Ask your child if they would like to help someone this summer.  Ask them who they want to help (give options if needed) and how they want to help them.  You can make it into a party to involve family & friends, or you can just keep it between your kids and yourself.

Virtual Kindness Summer Camp

Pennies of Time is hosting it's annual Virtual Kindness Summer Camp again this summer!  It's a great way to get tips, ideas and in the right frame of mind for encouraging more kindness this summer.  This year, they are including 'kind kids' more than ever before, so your kids will want to join in on the virtual camp, too!  She's added so many exciting and new components this year, I can't wait to start this with my girls!

I can't recommend this camp enough.  Sheila from Pennies of Time always puts countless hours into this camp to make it extremely beneficial and fun for everyone that participates!  

virtual kindness summer camp

Click here for more information

Click here to sign up

Acts of Kindness Summer Countdown Chain

I don't know about you, but countdown chains are always a big hit at our house!

Print these chains, cut and hang somewhere for everyone to see.  Every morning take a chain off & do this act of kindness together.  It can be done right then and there, or you can use it more of a challenge for your family to do individually throughout the day when they see a good opportunity.

Feel free to fill in your own ideas (or your kids' ideas) on the blank one!

What are your favorite ways to include kindness in your summer fun?  

You might also be interested in:

*Any links posted on this site may be affiliate links. Affiliate links do not charge you any extra money, but they do give me a small percentage of anything purchased through these links.

December 22, 2016

Christmas is right around the corner! Many of us are still scrambling to complete our shopping lists, running store to store or finalizing our shopping online. Often, with the hustling and bustling this time of year we can lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas or start to feel a bit of the bah humbug creeping in. When this happens, it’s time to stop, and reflect on the true magic of the season, giving back. This doesn’t mean you have to drain your wallet on gifts for other people. Giving back this year can be as simple as decluttering your house and shipping those items to Goodwill. The best part, you can do this for free.
This year Goodwill stores have teamed up with Give Back Box to enable you to reuse your online shipping boxes to donate your unwanted household items (such as gently used clothing, handbags, shoes, etc) to Goodwill at no cost to you.
Here’s how it works:

Give Back Box gives every cardboard box a second life to help people in need. Some of the international partners in support of the Give Back Box are Ann Inc, Asics, Ann Taylor Loft, Overstock, Dockers, Levis, Bon Ton and StyleUpGirl.com. These retailers are leading the way towards finding innovative solutions to widespread social and economic issues. You can see all of the participating retailers at givebackbox.com.
By gathering your unwanted items that are stuffed in the back of your closet, under your bed, in your attic or garage or wherever it is hiding, you can pack it up and ship it to Goodwill to help create jobs.
Thanks to the job training programs made possible by donations of clothes and household items, Goodwill helped place more than 312,000 in jobs in the United States and Canada in 2015 — that’s one person finding a job every 23 seconds of every business day. So you’re literally donating your stuff AND helping to create jobs.

Did you know, you can even calculate how much your donation helps your local community by using Goodwill’s donation impact calculator, a feature available within the Goodwill Locator App  and at Goodwill.org (click “Explore Our Map” on the homepage to access the calculator). Simply input the items you’re donating to calculate the number of hours of career counseling, on-the-job training, résumé preparation, financial planning classes, and other services you’ve helped provide people facing challenges finding employment.

How cool is that?!


November 16, 2016

Letters to Santa: Avoiding Greed and Encouraging Kindness

I love this time of year.  It's full of excitement, traditions, people wanting to help each other and endless fun.

One of the popular traditions of writing a letter to Santa is so exciting for kids!  As a parent, I love it too, but part of me feels like I am encouraging them to be greedy when they ask for 20 toys.  There are ways you can encourage them to be more thoughtful and less greedy when writing their letters, and ultimately throughout the holiday season.

encouraging kindness christmas

Here are some ideas:

-Point out kindness
As you go about each day, point out different acts of kindness that you see around you.  It could be something kind your child does, something someone has done for us, something a charachter did in a book or something you witnessed.

-Do an intentional Christmas act of kindness
There are many ways you can do this!  You can participate in a Sub for Santa, do a reverse advent calendar in your home, decorate for the Ronald McDonald House, make Christmas cards for someone who lives alone, or any other idea that will make someone's day this holiday season.

-Talk to your kids about the world around them
There are so many things going on in our world, good and bad.  You don't have to be a downer about the realities of the world, but it's good for them to be aware of people in different circumstances.

(ps, don't know what to say when bad things happen?  Check out this project from Pennies of Time!)

-Limit their list
You can decide how firm you want to be on this, but encourage them to pick only about 3 gifts they really want.  That way, they don't expect a room full of toys on Christmas morning.

-Encourage them to ask Santa for something for someone else
When they are writing their letter to Santa, encourage them to ask Santa for something for someone else.  It can be asking for a toy for a less fortunate friend, or something that they can give away.  You can also encourage them to pray for others, especially if you want to focus more on the religious side of Christmas than the Santa side of Christmas.

-Encourage them to write a 'Thankful List' first
A sweet young lady from my neighborhood came up with this idea.  She told her mom she wanted to write her letter to Santa, but first she wanted to write a list of things she was grateful for.  [heart melted!]

Have you found any other ideas that have worked well for your family?  Tell me about it below!

October 25, 2016

4 Ways to Help Children Develop Confidence in Themselves - Guest Post

 There are three things every parent wants their children to be: healthy, happy and successful. And you know one way you can help them be all those things? Help them develop confidence in themselves.

A child’s view of himself or herself is one of the most important opinions they can have. Kids who have high self-esteem see the world through eyes of enthusiasm and confidence and will bravely take on whatever life throws their way, while those who have low self-esteem are just the opposite.

As a parent, you’re not solely responsible for your children having high or low self-esteem. But, there are some ways parents can raise confident children.

1. Let your kids do things for themselves.

Give your kids responsibilities at home. Give them opportunities to succeed. And give them the opportunity to take risks and make some mistakes (small ones of course).

It’s good for your kids to take healthy risks and be able to learn from their mistakes. Rather than rushing in to save them from falling when they’re learning to ride a bike or putting in the last few pieces of the puzzle they haven’t figured out yet—step back, take a deep breath and let your kids take healthy risks, make their own choices, solve their problems and finish what they start.

Being able to do something as simple as take off and put on her own shoes is a major confidence booster to a young child. And although out of love, when you continually do things for your children, they become dependent on you and will soon expect you to always wait on them. So hone in your overbearing, anxiety-prone self and only jump in to help when your child really needs it.

2. Compliment, but don’t overpraise.

Commending your child’s efforts and accomplishments is a good thing. But don’t overpraise—that does more harm than good. Overpraising a kid for doing something essentially lowers the bar for them, and they’ll stop trying; they’ll stop pushing them self to be better. A child develops confidence as he continually tries, fails and tries again.

Also, don't praise your child when she does something she’s supposed to do, like putting her plate in the dishwasher. In this case, just tell her "thank you.” Only give praise when a child earns it. And when you do compliment your kids, provide specific feedback along with a genuine compliment, such as, “You did a great job of staying in between the lines when coloring the dog.”

3. Teach your kids to focus on the good in themselves.

Every kid has talents, but no kid is great at everything he tries to do. Your son may be the fastest kid on the football field, but when it comes to catching the ball, well let’s just say he hasn’t been earning too many touchdowns. Rather than focusing on what your kid can’t do or struggles with, teach him to focus on the good and what he can do; help him learn to like himself for exactly who he is.

And the best way to teach this is by your example. By watching you, your son or daughter should learn that it’s important to feel good about and value yourself; to know you have personal worth. It’s also important to admit your mistakes and show your kids we’re not perfect and that it’s completely fine. When they do mess up, be it getting a bad grade on a paper or dropping a football, teach your kids to casually accept their mistakes and learn from them. On the flip side, when they do something good, like finally catch a touchdown pass, let them know it’s appropriate to honestly recognize and feel good about their hard work and efforts.

4. Spend time with your children.

You learn so much about your children, as well as yourself, when you spend time with them. You also express to your child that they are worth your time, giving them needed feelings of importance, love and accomplishment by doing things with them. Invest in your child’s behavior by investing your time in them, whether that means playing a board game, getting ice cream, teaching them spiritual and life lessons or reading them their favorite bedtime story for the hundredth time this week.

At the end of the day, all you can do is unconditionally love your children and enjoy watching them grow and begin developing more confidence in themselves.

Written by Kirsten Metcalf

March 28, 2016

How to help refugees in your area... even if you don't know any!

I was recently challenged to help refugees in my area however I could by the #IWasAStranger project.  I struggled with this because I don't know of any refugees, and I don't even think any live in my neighborhood.  I have 2 young kids with one on the way, which is causing me to be on semi-bed rest.  So, I'm not 100% sure how volunteering my time would work at the moment.  So, I kept thinking and even prayed about it.

Refugees come to our country with just the clothing on their back.  I can't imagine doing that!  It would be scary enough going to a new country with a new language and no friends, but to add that I don't have any personal belongings or money to help me, it's just unthinkable for me!

Because I know this challenge has been given to such a large group of women in my church, I thought I would post some ideas here to hopefully help others think of a way they can help, too!

Women's Welcome Bags
Have a girls' night out and ask everyone to bring a gently used purse and some toiletries to fill it with.  You could also add some fun "girly" things, like lotion and chocolate.

Children's Welcome Bags
With your children, gather a few things to put in pillow cases for the kids that have just arrived.  You can add a stuffed animal, books, coloring books, crayons, etc.  You can sew a simple pillow case, or buy an inexpensive one from Wal-Mart or the dollar store.
*I know that many refugees come not knowing the local language, but I am sure they would still love a book!
*Also, check to see if your location can accept gently used stuffed animals or if they have to be brand new.

School Supplies 
A large percentage of refugees are children, so they will need school supplies.  Although they will need them the most at the beginning of the school year, they probably need them throughout the year, for those coming in the middle of the school year.  Some helpful items might be backpacks, pencils, notebooks, pens, three ring binders, folders and calculators.
*It's easy to focus on the elementary aged kids, but we can't forget about the middle school & high school kids, too!

Clothing Drive
Ask your children, friends and neighbors to each pick out one outfit that they don't use anymore.  Collect them and take them to your local refugee center.  Easy peasy!
If you're feeling like making it extra fun, throw a pajama party & ask people to bring an extra pair of PJs to donate!
*Just be aware that some refugee centers might not accept shorts or short sleeved shirts.
*One big need is for NEW women's dresses so they can use them for job interviews.  Some refugees have religious preferences where they wear long sleeved and long dresses, but not all.

Throw a Baby Shower
Throw a baby shower where all of the gifts are donated to your local refugee center.  70% of refugees are women and children, so chances are that they might have some pregnant women or infants currently or in the near future.

Use your talents
If you love photography, volunteer to take pictures for a family.  If you love sewing, make a blanket for them.  If you love web design, volunteer to help the refugee center update their website.  The possibilities are endless!

Busy Books
Pennies of Time has compiled hundreds of busy books for kids in the hospital, but I think they would work really well in this case, too!  These are easy and inexpensive to make.  They can be made with one child, or with a large group!

Yard Sale
Hold a yard sale & donate the money made to a non-profit who helps refugees.  If you want to add a little something, you could even sell lemonade, cookies, juice &/or donuts!

Be a pen-pal
You &/or your children can be connected with a refugee through a local refugee center.  You can send them drawings from your children, you can write them cards or letters.  This will not only help them learn their English, but it will help them to know that someone cares about them!

Volunteer your time
Not all volunteer opportunities have to be long-term commitments.  For example, your family or youth group could set up a time to go play soccer with your local refugee center.

Think twice before throwing it away!
Instead of selling items on Craigslist, or even throwing them out, donate them to your local refugee center.  They need basically everything from clothing, to personal hygiene items, to cleaning supplies, to home appliances, so if your old washing machine still works, chances are, they would appreciate it!

Car Seat Drive
Car seats can be expensive, but they (all sizes) are very needed for the refugees!  After all, if it were your children, you'd want them to travel safely, too, right?  You can hold a drive where you collect new ones, have a bake sale where you earn money to buy some, or anything else you can think of!

*All of these material things can help a refugee, but remember, there are other aspects to serving and loving others.  I challenge you to be a friend to everyone, because you don't know what they have been through!  Sharing your love with someone can make a life long impact on anyone.

How do I find a local refugee center?
For me, it was simple.  I just googled "Utah Refugee" and a few popped up.  I looked at their websites and called the number listed to see if my idea would be okay for their current needs.

I promise you, that even a small donation will help someone and maybe even make a world of difference!  

*Please be sure to call your local refugee center/non-profit first to ensure the project you want to do is something that they can use at that time.  

For even more ideas, you can download the new, free app called 'Serve Refugees'!  Available for Apple and Android phones.

What other ideas, do you have?

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