What could be better, joining forces (grandparents and grandkids) with no enemy in sight (parents). Said with good humor and a touch of sarcasm, but seriously, putting grandkids and grandparents together for a party, what could me more fun! And parents get to benefit with a few hours or perhaps days, off.
If you live near your grandchildren and can schedule time together on Grandparent’s Day, it might become an annual event, by very popular demand. If you don’t live near your grandchildren, perhaps a summer date would be possible. How about a day or evening set aside during a summer family vacation where only grandparents and grandchildren are allowed.
Here are 10 ideas to help you put together a memorable event. Adjust the ideas up or down based on your energy, budget, interest, time, and age and number of grandkids.
1. Be the hostess! Host the grandkids at your home, if there is room for all of them. There’s no place like Grandma and Grandpas! Focus on what the grandkids love about coming to visit you. Do you have a great attic to explore, a big yard, a pool, farm animals or an ultra modern condo? Make it a few hour party or how about a sleepover? A day camp? Or a weekend getaway?
2. A sure way to grandkids’ hearts are through their stomachs. How about letting each request their favorite dish and invite them over for a home cooked meal. The collection of favorite recipe requests might look something like this… strawberry pretzel salad, macaroni and cheese, chocolate chip pancakes and meatloaf! If they are family recipes you would like to pass down, use this opportunity to teach and share.
3. If your grandkids are older and it is getting tougher to think of things to do sans eye rolls, consider taking them out to dinner, attending a sporting event or participating in one. If you are fit and active, how about a Fun Run, golf tournament or fall hike. Consider participating in an annual charitable activity such as a walk, local area park clean-up, a Habitat for Humanity project or even a mission trip.
4. If the grandkids are old enough, let them plan or help plan the party. Older kids may surprise you with their creativity and organizational skills. Perhaps they can rotate helping you or rotate the task by family. As they say, half the fun is getting there. Planning and preparing together makes memories, maybe even more so than the doing.
5. Create a t-shirt or small souvenir or keepsake each child can take home to remember the “party”. Perhaps you create a unique invitation each year which serves as a memento, or you plan a craft to take home. Consider following up after the party with a handwritten thank you note for coming. Tell them how special they are and how much fun you had together. Thank you notes may even be returned in kind. Kids love traditions, be consistent and it will be memorable.
6. Make it a memory by taking a special photograph. There are great, creative photo ideas out there. For instance you can have them hold a frame or chalk board with the year or a message on it. Another idea is to have each grandchild wear a shirt or hold up a sign with their name or birth order on it. Fun, relaxed photos showcasing their personalities tell the story of how much fun the “party” has been. These photos will be keepers and fodder for your brag book or Facebook page. Creating a photo wall in your home or an album for each event, will ensure lasting memories.
7. If you prefer to get up and go, then go somewhere! Consider a ball game, girlie manicures and pedicures, go karts, an amusement park, a picnic lunch, rafting, biking or fishing. Perhaps there is a popular local festival or concert to attend. If you live close to where you grew up or spent many years as an adult, a trip down memory lane would be a wonderful way to share your life with your grandchildren. Plan to take tons of photos and videos, and answer all their curious questions about what life was like in the “ole days”.
8. If hosting a party at your place, themed parties can be a ton of fun. Many websites offer fabulous ideas to help with games, food and more. Look for age appropriate themes. If you have a wide range of ages, you may want to consider splitting up, with babies/toddlers together and the “big” kids, so you won’t pull your hair out!
9. If you were born with the creative gene, devising a treasure hunt or mystery is always fun and memorable. Clues placed around the house or yard or taken to the mall or local downtown area, really get kids of all ages excited to unravel the mystery or find the hidden treasure.
10. Plan to make something together. When grandkids are young, simple crafts, chalk drawings, handprints and silhouettes are priceless. As they get older, building a fort, tree house or play area, planting a garden or decorating a playroom are projects you can work on together and enjoy together for years to come.
Whatever you choose to do, make it memorable! Please share your ideas or details of your day… Teri
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Coming up with an original, thoughtful and meaningful gift for grandparents can be challenging, but it is certainly a worthy endeavor!
My grandmother recently celebrated her 99th birthday and amazing milestones like these require some extra time and energy to come up with a gift to fit the occasion.
Perfume, food, stationery and flowers aside, I always debate the merit of each gift I choose. I know my Grandma well enough to know she always appreciates something you make.
She has been a “maker” throughout her life – quilting, baking, and crafting over the years. Her children, grandchildren and many great-greats have been the beneficiaries of her talents, from delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies, to wedding quilts, to rainy day paper dolls, to annual handmade Christmas ornaments to name a few.
I also know my Grandma appreciates friends and family. She lives in a senior community and I believe she has bragging rights as the oldest resident. All the residents have wreaths on their doors and little ledges where they display seasonal decorations. Each door is unique and conveys a little about the person who lives there. With all this in mind, here is what I came up with!
This is my Grandma’s 99th birthday photo wreath. Handmade by me (and a bit of Michael’s!).
I purchased the burlap wreath wrapped with the bow and added the artificial greens and flowers for color. I used quick grip to glue them in place. If you have never tried this stuff, I love it!
I printed out some of the classic photos from her life and mounted them on colored paper stock, which were cut in circles. I glued the mounted photos in a circle around the outside of the wreath.
I then printed her name and birthday on paper and inserted it into a small gold frame. I then glued the frame to the top of the wreath. I finished it all by adding some cute button accents for a little more pizzazz!
She loved the wreath because it was handmade, personal and a great conversation piece for all that stopped to visit or even passed by her door. It acted as a fun happy birthday sign she can leave up and enjoy for as long as she likes!
As a new parent, you remember the thrills and trials of baby’s first year. During this time, busy new parents can always use help keeping baby’s memories together. Giving a special box or chest to put these things in will keep mementoes safely stored and in one place.
Remember to take lots of photographs. Arrange for a few special shots, you holding baby, baby holding your finger, their little toes. There are so many “new” creative shots I started a board on Pinterest you can check out. Do a little research so you can put together some very memorable shots you will treasure forever. These are the ones you will want to frame and have as “keepers”.
3. Plant a Flower or Tree
If you have the yard or garden, plant a flower or new tree for each new grandchild when they are born. It will always mean something to both of you as you watch the tree and your grandchild grow. It would be fun to take a photo of them next to the tree on every birthday.
4. Time Capsule
Save the paper from the day baby is born, cards and letters of congratulations…these will be wonderful things for a time capsule or to give to Mom and Dad for baby’s memory box.
5. First Gifts
Use this time to gift baby with a “first” gift, such as a silver first Christmas ornament, rocking horse, baby shoes or piece of jewelry such as a bracelet, charm or necklace. Gifts that can be used again are always special, such as a baby to bride or groom gift that can be part of a wedding, graduation or their first child.
6. Welcoming Home
If it suits the personality and needs of the new parents, do something to welcome baby home such as a yard banner, sign or wreath, luminaries, lots of fresh flowers, or a fridge stocked with prepared food.
7. Little Impressions
Give a gift that will allow Mom and Dad to get baby’s handprints and footprints. Make sure to get an extra, so you can get these adorable impressions for yourself as well!
Perhaps you have given a gift to a previous grandchild that would be a great tradition to continue. Ideas such as piggy banks, collectible figurines, embroidered or handmade blankets or bedding or the start to a college fund are all ideas to consider. Another idea would be to give each grandchild something special that belongs to you that you want to pass down to them.
9. Something from Parent’s Babyhood
If you have a baby keepsake from your child who is now a parent, the birth of their child would be a wonderful time to pass it on. Perhaps you saved a baby outfit, birth announcement or other keepsake that could be beautifully framed and passed on.
10. Letter for the future
Write a letter to the new grandbaby on the day they are born. Take all of those wonderful emotions and share them in a letter that will be treasured forever.
These are some very observations on helping grieving moms get through Mother’s Day written by my friend Renee Wood of TheComfortCompany.net.
We don’t like to think that this day could be anything but joyous, but for many women it is a day to remember their lost love, whether it be a miscarriage or loss of a child. Just the other day I received an email from a customer, asking to be taken off the mailing list because the emails reminded her of her loss. This is for her and all the other mom’s who have a piece of their heart forever in Heaven.
10 Simple Ways to Help Moms Cope When Mother’s Day Hurts
Acknowledgement is what grieving mother’s want most for Mother’s Day, suggests a survey by www.thecomfortcompany.net, a website that specializes in meaningful sympathy gifts. The online survey asked “What can others do to ease your pain on Mother’s Day”. Over 80 percent of the 200 respondents answered, “Recognize that I am a mother”.
“While Mother’s Day is generally considered to be a day of celebration, for many women it is a day of pain and loss” says Renee Wood, former social worker and founder of The Comfort Company. “It’s important to remember those moms who have had a failed pregnancy or who have lost a child at any age.”
In response to the survey results, thecomfortcompany.net has issued a list of ten simple ways to reach out to a grieving mother on this difficult holiday.
1. Recognize that they are a mother
Offer a hug and a “Happy Mother’s Day”. Send a card to let them know you remember they are a mother even though their child is not with them physically.
2. Acknowledge they have had a loss
Express the message, “I know this might be a difficult day for you. I want you to know that I am thinking about you.”
3. Use their child’s name in conversation
One mother responded, “People rarely speak his name anymore, but when they do it’s like music to my ears”.
4. Plant a living memorial
A tree or rose bush, like memories, will grow in beauty as the years pass.
5. Visit the grave site
Many mothers felt that it was “extremely thoughtful” when others visited their child’s grave site and left flowers or a small pebble near the headstone.
6. Light a candle
Let the mother know you will light a candle in memory of their child on Mother’s Day.
7. Share a memory or pictures of the child
Give thegift of a memory. One mother wrote that the “greatest gift you can give is a heart felt letter about my child and a favorite memory with them”.
8. Send a gift of remembrance
Many mothers felt a small gift would be comforting. Suggestions included: an angel statue, jewelry, a picture frame, a library book or toy donation in the child’s name or anything personalized.
9. Don’t try to minimize the loss
Avoid using any clichés that attempt to explain the death of a child. (“God needed another angel.”) Secondly, don’t try to find anything positive about the loss (“You stillhave two healthy children”).
10. Encourage Self-Care
Self-care is an important aspect of the “healing the mind and spirit effort” according to several mothers. Encourage a grieving mother to take care of herself. Give her a gift certificate to a day spa or any place where she can be pampered.
What have you done to comfort a friend who has lost a child?
Visit- www.comfortcompany.net for bereavement gifts
I am officially 50 years old, or affectionately “half-a-hundred”, and I have toasted the completion of 50 good deeds. It took one week to complete, but left me with memories I will have for my lifetime. The week was fun, inspirational, busy, intimidating at times and always amazing.
If asked would I do it again, my answer would be “in a heartbeat.” If asked, “what now?”
I would answer, “I will continue to Be The Good in my day-to-day life. I will look for and take opportunities to help others and to thoughtfully extend kindness and compassion.”
The joy (for lack of a better word that encompasses all my emotions), I experienced celebrating my birthday in this way, is far greater than ANY birthday present I have EVER unwrapped. Each deed felt like someone was giving ME a gift. Amazing how that works!
To get started, I decided 50 deeds would take some time to complete and I knew I would need all of the 4 weeks I had given myself to come up with my ideas and get organized.
The first thing I did was send a few emails to see what kind of interest and support I would have. It was easier than I imagined. I was overwhelmed with donations of time, money and things. I was supported in so many ways, it didn’t feel like work. It became a mission and a passion.
I decided to divide my deeds between my husband and children, friends and neighbors in Atlanta, and childhood friends and family where I was born, St. Louis, Missouri.
I chose to do 10 deeds with my kids and husband, 30 with friends and neighbors and the final 10 during a weekend trip to St. Louis. I chose to use the slogan, Believe There is Good in The World, with the emphasis on BE THE GOOD. I designed a little “logo” to help me communicate to others what I was doing. The message it sent struck a cord with me and it quickly caught on with others as well.
With input from family and friends, I made my deed list.
Day-by-day the details fell in place. I asked for voluntary donations and divided and budgeted them among my list of deeds. I also took suggestions and by doing so, I made the deeds important and personal for those who helped me. What follows is quite a read, but that’s what happens when you turn 50!
I did a lot of work here and there throughout the 4 weeks leading up to my birthday week. The day before the deeds began, I scheduled a work day where friends stopped in to help sort, package, and organize by day. I tried not to get overwhelmed with getting it all done. If only I had done this when I turned 30 it would have been a lot easier- ha, lots of things are easier at 30!
Anyway, with so many offers of help and support, I focused on saying yes to contributions and looking for special skills my friends each had and asking them to contribute something they were expert at. There were women who loved to cook, photographers, jewelry makers, organizers, cheerleaders and creative thinkers. They each brought their special talent to the deeds and allowed me to do more than I could have ever done on my own.
I love the writing and the “gifty” part of giving because that is what I do, but I needed all my other experts to put it together. If you are so inspired to celebrate your birthday with deeds, ask for help. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the team you build.
By the way, the purpose of this blog, my hope and goal in documenting what we did is to inspire others so the good deeds continue.
Like a pebble thrown in a pond, the waves and ripples spread. I was inspired by a blog and hope I can send the same message to others wanting to celebrate in an incredible meaningful way.
Now on to Deed Week!
On each of the three deed days I had a wonderful group of women who volunteered to come along. Many took off work and went to great lengths to rearrange their family schedules to be part of the experience. My car was loaded with gifts and donations, but also tons of warmth, enthusiasm and heart. I loved the car rides too!
Deed 1: Mother Earth
My family kicked off the week by picking up trash in and around our neighborhood pool and tennis area. We weren’t sure what we would find, but there were more bottles, cans and paper than we could have guessed, not to mention tennis balls and more tennis balls. We left the tennis balls on the courts for others to use, and sent the bottles and cans to the recycle bin.
The kids weren’t sure what their Mom had gotten them into, but by the end they wanted to continue collecting trash, as there was more to do. This is a job we will do again. Seeing what we accomplished in a short time, they all felt they had done a good deed.
Deed 2: You’re so Tweet
I wanted a way to celebrate the week and to thank all those who had generously helped me. So we baked and baked…cookies and cupcakes! We delivered these sweet treats to over 30 wonderful friends and neighbors.
I would have loved to have done more for each of them.
One of the greatest joys of the deeds was the 4 weeks of planning it took to put it together. Days were filled with calls, emails and texts – kind words, donations, and ideas. There were daily joys in my inbox, and they deeply touched me. My treats were a little thank you for some acts they may have considered small, but were BIG to me.
Deed 3: Shopping Cart Quarters
We put a note and a quarter on shopping carts at a local Aldi grocery store. The note asked the shopper to use the quarter and then pass it on. We watched as our quarters made shoppers smile! Not a big deal, but a happy little convenience on a rainy day. We did learn the best deeds are the ones where you speak to people face-to-face.
Deed 4: Hairs to You
We wanted to thank the women who have cut our family’s many locks of hair over the years. We tipped them generously and went on our merry, well-groomed way.
Deed 5: Toy Dollars
My kids favorite deed of the day. The assignment was for each kid to find a child in Toys R Us they wanted to give $10.00 to.
First, my 9-year old son picked a little boy he overheard talk about getting a skateboard- a subject close to his heart. The father was very gracious, and initially questioned if we were sure we wanted to pick them. I assured him they were the ones. He was a big man with a big smile, solid handshake and numerous thanks and happy birthday wishes.
My daughter picked a little girl begging her dad to buy her a doll. He appeared confused when we explained our offer, but took the money and we said our goodbyes. About 10 minutes later he found us in the store and apologized for not wishing me a happy birthday and thanking us properly. He said he was in shock and it took awhile for our deed to sink in.
My oldest son found a little boy in the Lego aisle. He was there with his Aunt who was rewarding him for a great job in school, so we sweetened his reward. Our last deed was given to a young mother and son. The mother immediately hugged me and my son, and the little boy hugged me too. She said the money was a blessing and it did make a difference for them that day.
Deed 6: Gumball Dreams
We filled all the rides and vending machines at Toys R Us with quarters and left the store. There were lots of free gumballs that day!
Everyone in the family wrote a card or letter to someone special of our choosing. I chose a woman who helped me when my kids were younger and was such a big part of our lives. I know I said thank you over the years, but I never really spoke what was truly in my heart and mind. I wrote it down and sent it to her.
She called me that week.
She said it was the nicest note she had ever received in her entire life. Why had I not told her before??
The lesson I learned from this was when you feel love and appreciation in your heart, ACT on it.
Deed 8: A Cup of Joe
This was the first deed with friends and neighbors, as I saved three for my family to do before heading to St. Louis later in the week.
All of these would not have been possible without my friends donation of things, time and money. I know I said it before, but from the first email to the last day spent packaging and staging, I was never alone.
The first morning started at 6:45am, a rainy Monday morning. We went to the local Starbucks and paid for a man’s coffee in the drive thru, while we were inside ordering a “to go” container for our next deed at the elementary school.
Deed 9: Carpool Kudos
We brought hot cups of coffee and signs of appreciation to the teachers working early morning carpool at the elementary school. They were so appreciative!
One teacher has worked this duty for 12 years and said no one had ever thanked them, and certainly not delivered fresh hot coffee. They said it was like winning the lottery, especially on a rainy Monday morning. We shared the extras with the office staff, and they too were thrilled. I am now known at school as the “Birthday Mom”.
While we were at the school, we presented the assistant principal with letters written to many of the teachers the mom’s have come to love and respect. The letters let them know the impact they have had on their students and their families.
Another one of those daily things we may carry in our minds, but putting it down on paper and giving it to someone puts a thought into action and creates an unforgettable impression on those you share it with. I guess that is why I have always loved the art of writing letters and sending cards.
It is one thing I hope technology never replaces.
Deed 11: School Supply Box
One last deed at the school. We gave the teachers a big box of school supplies. They are always running low on many everyday items as we get into the school year, so we had glue sticks, scissors, dry erase markers, construction paper and more. We also gave them a box of beanie babies, and other little items they could include in their classroom treasure boxes. They were so happy, it was a really great start to the week.
Deed 12: Volunteering
Off to North Fulton Community Charities to volunteer in the thrift shop for a few hours. We helped straighten, organize and move things around in the store, getting ready for a little remodel.
This charity is one of the most amazing organizations, helping 100’s of area families in time of need- from food, to clothing, household items and financial assistance. We all want to go back and help again, not to mention shopping for fun items like books, records and accessories. We inspired one of the managers there to celebrate her upcoming 50th birthday with deeds as well!
We delivered books to a local fire station who developed a monthly reading program with one of the local elementary schools. They were very appreciative and will be able to bring the books to their next meeting with the kids.
Deed 14: Birthday Tip
With such an early start to the day, we stopped to have a birthday lunch and had a great time talking about our morning and planning the days to come.
Our server was wonderful and helped us celebrate with a song and a complimentary dessert. Our deed was to tip him very well!
Deed 15: Books and more Books
With 10 big boxes of used books, we went to our local library and donated them for resell at their monthly book sales, with funds going to library programs. It took two cartloads!
Deed 16: Rainy Day Deeds
With the rain coming down, we found bus riders and walkers in the rain. We handed them a rain poncho if they needed it, a water bottle and fun Valentine lollipop, just to make them smile. We went to a local thrift store and spread the joy there too.
We met one woman who was so taken by our deeds, she shared her story with us. She was turning 40 and thought deeding was something she could do to give back- another ripple and another lesson.
Being “Good” inspires others to do good as well…movement and effect are possible by even small gestures.
In one of the below photos, we gave waters and lollipops to two men working in a yard and when we later returned, they had put dollar bills in the top of the water bottles to give back to us what we had given them. We think they realized what we gave was a gift, but they returned the gift and so we passed those dollars on to others.
Deed 17: Wheels on the Bus
Getting our kids safely to and from school is always close to our hearts, so we wanted to recognize our neighborhood bus drivers. We packaged up cookies, chocolates, gift cards and flowers and presented them to the drivers at drop off.
Deed 18: Rain or Shine!
My actual birthday is today! We started the day with sunshine and optimism, despite a forecast of rain and cloudy skies- we couldn’t believe the morning.
We put out a bucket of snacks and good wishes for the trash men and hoped they wouldn’t mistake our good deed for trash.
A handmade poster from my son told them we appreciated what they did- rain or shine!
Deed 19: Safe House Donations
We collected boxes of clothing, toys, and household items for a local safe house for battered and abused women. We also included some special bracelets designed and donated by a neighbor with a jewelry company- Inspired Designs.
We wanted to include something as gifts to the women who were looking for the strength, courage and inspiration to change their lives for the better. We hoped the bracelets would be a positive reminder for them.
The charity came that day to pick up our donations and we left a little bag of treats for the driver as well.
Deed 20: A Little TLC
We all went to visit a wonderful friend who is often helping others, who recently lost her father and was recovering from surgery.
We brought her delicious homemade bread, soup and brownies made by another friend who herself had recently lost both her mother and sister. I thought she would find healing in doing something for another woman who was also hurting.
I think the experience brought joy to both of them. Both are loving and talented cooks and often comfort others with their thoughtful ways and wonderful food. We also gave her an ornament to remember her dad- he was such a presence.
We spent an uplifting 45 minutes laughing, sharing and supporting with hugs and tears all around.
Deed 21: Lottery Anyone?
Giving out lottery tickets is a lesson in itself. Skepticism greeted us as most people thought we were selling something, handing out pamphlets or perpetrating a scam. But it did not take long for hard stares to soften to, “thank you, what a great idea.”
One woman, after asking numerous questions, finally asked me what I got out of it. When I simply answered- “to feel good”. She immediately smiled and accepted the ticket.
We realized the typical reaction was a product of our society today, and to be cautious is a modern day necessity.
Deed 22: The “Closet”
What a great place! We donated women’s clothing and accessories to Drake’s Closet which resells gently-used women’s clothing at remarkable prices in a boutique setting.
The funds support homeless families with the goal of helping them become independent. After making our donations, we couldn’t help but visit the boutique and contribute by making a few purchases of our own.
We will definitely be heading back to support the Drake House!
Deed 23: Food for the Firehouse
We had a great visit with the firefighters at Milton Fire House 42. We brought them a homemade dinner, complete with sides and desserts donated by several women in the neighborhood.
The firefighters were so welcoming and invited us for a tour and a photo-op with the engine. They shared what life is like living at the fire house, their schedules, meals, living quarters, call process and more.
It was interesting and eye-opening to learn what they do for the community and have far some of them travel for their job. We found out ways we could continue to support them in the future.
Deed 24: Expectant Mom Delivery
We chose an expectant mom who could benefit from a little help with preparing for a new baby due soon.
We put together a gift basket including some gift items, outfits and a gift card to help with the many expenses. She was very surprised and said she was truly blessed.
We were thrilled to have made her day brighter.
Deed 25: Cancer Care
This was a deed which hit close to home. We learned about a very recent cancer diagnosis of a mom many of us know.
We wanted to support her as she began a tough battle against an advanced stage of breast cancer. Many of us had family members or dear friends affected by cancer- some survivors and some we lost.
We added gifts to the basket we felt would empower her with knowledge, and also help her care for herself physically and emotionally. We also made a donation to the Cancer Society on her behalf. She was very touched by the basket and we will continue to pray for her.
We couldn’t help giving an impromptu Valentine’s basket to a helpful security guard who made it possible for us to deliver the basket.
Deed 26: Dollar Store Dollars
This was a fun thing to do. We visited a local Dollar Store and gave out dollars in cute little envelopes my daughter had made. We handed some to shoppers and tucked some into products for others to find. We met some very thankful shoppers and shared a few stories.
One woman thought doing good deeds was the perfect way to celebrate her upcoming 60th birthday. She survived a recent health scare and it changed her perspective on life. She was joyful, grateful and ready to give back.
Deed 27: A Blessed Employee
This was one of my favorite deeds and something simple that all of us have the power to do everyday…change another person’s course. I had taken notice of a particular employee at a local Dollar Store over the past several months.
She always greeted all the customers, held pleasant conversation, and when asked how she was, she always answered, “I’m, Blessed.” Clearly some days she wasn’t feeling great, but her attitude and answer never wavered.
I decided to take my thoughts about her and turn them into action. I gave her a handmade glass cross we sell and wrote a sentiment just for her. It said “I’m Blessed” and thanked her for always being so pleasant and touching others with her attitude. I also wrote a letter to Dollar Tree Corp on her behalf. I thought they needed to know she was an unsung hero for their business.
When I presented her with the gift and told her what I had done- I changed her course. It turns out, she really needed it that day. I don’t know what was happening in her life, but she thanked me with one of the most sincere hugs I’ve ever gotten.
It was a great way to end the deeds on my birthday day.
We did stop at a nearby urgent care center on the way home to donate some new stuffed animals we had not given away- we were on a roll, so I guess I will count this as one to grow on!
Deed 28: Postmen Surprise
I had a lot of neighbors volunteer to put a gift out for the postman this morning. When he delivered the mail, he was also picking up gifts for himself such as letters of appreciation, gift cards, cookies and chocolates.
Perhaps a bit confused, but a happy confused!
Deed 29: Flowers from the Heart
We have a friend who lost her husband last year and we wanted to make sure she received flowers this year for Valentine’s Day.
We left them at her door and hoped they would lift her spirits.
Deed 30: Raining Cats & Dogs
On another rainy day, we headed to a local animal shelter where one of the girls had gotten her dog. We wanted to support this local no-kill shelter, and collected some donated items from their wish list.
They were happy for the donations and it was tough to leave and not take a dog home with us!
Deed 31: Grocery Bills
We went to a local grocery store with the intention of paying for someone’s groceries. We knew we wanted to find someone we could really help. We walked the aisles and met some people with very special stories.
I approached a woman carrying a basket full of baby formula. She looked a little tired and I thought she was probably a new mom. I stopped her and offered her $50.00 to cover her grocery bill.
She told me she was shopping for her 4-week old twins and the formula was being covered by WIC vouchers, but she was thrilled to be able to now afford to buy needed groceries. She apologized for her tired appearance, but as a mother of twins myself, no explanation was needed!
The shared experience made all the girls laugh. Was it serendipity or something more? I was excited to have found someone I truly knew could use the help and support and a little luck (?) that day.
While I was talking to the new mom, one of the girls struck up a conversation with a man named Joe. Joe was a 93 year-old WW II veteran who had flown over Berlin. He was slowly pushing his cart through the store and stopped to talk.
Joe was hard of hearing, but panned that it was his way of getting the “purty ladies” closer. He would not allow us to pay for his groceries. Instead, he opened up his wallet and handed me $5.00 to wish me a happy birthday.
Initially I was embarrassed and ill-prepared to respond. I thought I should graciously accept his gift, just as I was hoping those I was “deeding” would graciously accept mine. However I wanted a way to treat him, without him relinquishing any pride. One of the girls suggested we spend the money and buy him a box of Valentine’s chocolates and I thought that was perfect.
We met him as he left the store and wished him a wonderful Valentine’s Day.
What a man!
Deed 32: The Money Jar
That day we were traveling with a money jar- not quite sure who we were going to give it to. Our initial idea evaporated with the rainy day, so we were keeping our hearts open for an opportunity.
We met Tina at the same grocery store and decided the money in the jar would help her.
I had a little money leftover because of sweet Joe, so I offered to pay for her groceries, although it didn’t quite cover the bill. When I asked her if I could help, she let out a deep sigh and said, “oh good, I wasn’t quite sure where the money was coming from to pay for this.” She told me she was out of work with no insurance and was a diabetic and epileptic. She and her mother lived together and did the best they could. I went to the car and got the money jar and gave it to her.
She couldn’t thank us enough.
We left the store feeling like we had accomplished what we had intended. The lesson I learned was that even everyday errands present us with many opportunities to help, as everyone around us have their own stories and sometimes we can be the ones to help.
Deed 33: Joshua Rocks
There is a middle school boy in the neighborhood who was having a hard time at school with friends and bullying. With the help of my middle school son, we did a little surprise “feel good” gift for him.
My son made a poster that let him know he “Rocked.” A friend also made him a really sweet Valentines bucket and we put all of it, along with some helium balloons on his porch. He had a great surprise waiting for him when he got off the bus that afternoon.
Deed 34: Missing Dad
A local family recently lost their dad. He was the primary care-giver with three children. The wife and mother was struggling with her health at the time and the family needed lots of support. They are now getting better every day and we wanted to show them some extra care this Valentine’s Day.
From a text we received, they were delighted with the Valentine’s baskets and flowers left at the front door and it did make their day.
Deed 35: Tennis Anyone?
We stopped at the local park and tennis courts and left some extra tennis balls for anyone who needed them.
Deed 36: Senior Center- Cake & Flowers
Next we visited a local senior center and shared birthday cake with residents in the memory care ward. They sang “Happy Birthday” to me and that was a treat. We then went to the dining room and handed out flowers. The residents were so kind and many took the time to talk with us.
Dorothy below always used to get carnations from her husband on Valentine’s Day. By chance we gave her a yellow carnation and she was delighted. Yellow was her favorite color as you can see by her sweater.
One woman told me I was just a baby and she had loved being 50. I’ve loved being 50 so far too!
Deed 37: Art Supplies
Our last deed- so bittersweet. We collected art supplies to donate to the art program at the new high school. We unloaded the trunk and wheeled them in.
And with that we ended three amazing days. I will always have a deeper connection to my crew of friends- it was an incredible experience to share.
Off to St. Louis
With a decent night’s sleep I was up on Valentine’s Day and ready to head out of town with my 9-year old daughter. We had a few family deeds left to do on the way…
Deed 38: Thank you Boys
We first left a Valentine’s candy and a gift card to the movies for my husband and boys, who would be having a boy’s weekend, as we took our girl’s weekend away. It was also a thank you for their hard work and support over the previous month.
Deed 39: Pay the Toll
We headed to the airport and along the way paid the toll for the car behind us. I was a recipient of this good deed about a year ago and thought it was a really nice surprise.
Deed 40: Pay the Toll Collector
In addition to paying the toll, we also gave the toll booth worker a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates. She had a wonderful smile and said, “For me?!!”
Deed 41: Thank you, my Friends
Taking my deeds to St. Louis was an incredible treat. It was where my parents were born, met and married. We lived there until I was 10 years old.
My St. Louis friends, my sister and me share a unique history, as we have known each other since birth. We were a group of young girls who were thrown together because their parents were friends, but we chose to be friends too.
To this day our parents remain close and so do we. It is one of those rare friendships you never have to reinvent. When you walk in a room you pick up where you left off. We so enjoy each other, and this weekend was no exception.
My sister and I are a year and 4 days apart and she was instrumental in helping me coordinate and organize our friends and events from afar. My parents, daughter, niece and 98-year old grandmother were also huge parts of the weekend. We were going to combine our good deeds with a walk down memory lane and revisit some places from our childhood.
Here is some of the gang from many years ago!
My first deed was to thank them all for taking the weekend to join me and for donating items for our deeds. I gave them each a scarf with a pretty metal heart pendant as both a souvenir of the weekend and to identify us as a group. It ended up becoming a great symbol for us.
We shared breakfast, loaded cars and headed out in a caravan for the day.
Deed 42: Long-Lost Cousin
Well not really, but we had not seen him in years. We checked with his wife and made sure he was going to be home and we converged on our cousin Jeff’s house as a surprise.
We grew up spending so much time together- our family with 4 kids and his family with 5. There was never a dull moment. We visited and met his 3 boys and in the spirit of good deeds, I presented his family with $50.00 to use to do some good deeds themselves.
We hope it won’t be so long before we see him again and I can’t wait to hear about their deeds.
Deed 43: David’s Birthday Surprise
David was a neighbor of some of the gir’s growing up. He has cerebral palsy and is currently in a wheelchair.
The girls reconnected with David as adults over Facebook. Modern technology has allowed David to communicate as he was not able to as a child. He is turning 50 this month too and the girls arranged to bring him a special birthday box.
His parents still live in the childhood neighborhood they grew up in and everyone had fun going through old photo albums and visiting. From David’s constant smile I think the visit was very meaningful and special to him.
I thank my friends for thinking of him, because that is the kind of women they are!
Deed 44: Grandma’s House
My Dad’s mother passed away in 1972.
It is the last time I was in her home, which was sold shortly thereafter. We have driven by the house on a number of occasions and I thought it might be fun to “deed” the current owners with a beautiful plant and let them know how much the house meant to our family.
I put together some photos and information and my dad and I knocked on the door. (I was nervous doing it, but thought “what the heck!”).
A man came to the door to see me standing on the stoop and a group of women standing in the street. He told us he thought we had the wrong house. My dad told him we knew where we were and I explained what we were doing.
We couldn’t believe he was the original owner that bought the house from my dad when he sold it after my Grandma passed away. He has owned the home for 40 years and he remembered my dad by name.
Now, WHO was surprised!
We had a great conversation and left him with the plant and note to share with his wife. The house looked great, it was wonderful to see it had been well-cared for over the years.
A home is like family.
Deed 45: A Tribute
We stopped for lunch at several of the girls parent’s home. It is the same home where we grew our friendship and our parents still frequent when in town. Mary Ann made a delicious lunch and we used this time to pay tribute to our parents.
Each girl emailed me a few sentences on what they learned about friendship from watching our parents, and I blended it into a tribute for them. We also gave them gift cards to a charity called Living Water that purchases clean drinking water for countries around the world. They could go online and put the money toward the country of their choice. A special guest also arrived prior to lunch.
I was called to answer a knock at the door. My mind did a quick inventory of friends and couldn’t imagine they could have a surprise for me, but they did. My sister had contacted my best friend of 35 years from Ohio (where I lived from 10 years-old to post college) and she flew out to surprise me.
The trip was like a big fat wonderful dessert as it was, and she just put a big cherry on top! Jamie joined us for the rest of the weekend and fit in like a glove- WOW, WOW!
Deed 46: The Arch & Me
The Gateway Arch and I were “born” on the same day- February 12, 1963. It is the day construction began on the monument, so we decided to go to the arch and celebrate.
We brought lollipops to give out to other visitors and browsed the Arch gift shop where I made a donation to the arch fund. People were friendly and happy to accept the treat. We met another woman there with her family celebrating her 50th!
Deed 47: Goodies for Grandma’s Place
Next we drove across the Mississippi river into Illinois to visit my grandmother at her senior home. She will be 99 in a few months and is the oldest resident in independent living. She gives me hope that a healthy, productive second half is possible.
She is helping my Mom ice brownies below and was so excited for this birthday celebration.
We put together several baskets of stationery and paper products, snacks and some personal care items and with the help of my daughter and niece, we gave them to the residents.
They all loved the special attention and they returned the kindness by singing “happy birthday” and giving me cards addressed to “Nell’s granddaughter.”
Deed 48: Homecoming Flowers
Just as we visited my paternal grandmother’s house earlier in the day, we chose to visit the house we grew up in. We took roses and a letter with photographs about our experiences in the home for the current owner.
We were the original owners when the house was a model home for the new subdivision.
Now 40 years later, the current owner has lived there for over 30 years. She was so kind and gracious and thought her grandkids would love to hear our story. Some of the things my dad did to the house were still visible.
It was a bit surreal go back in time and try to put memories back in place.
Deed 49: Back to School
While in the neighborhood we also visited our old elementary school. Because it was a Saturday, my sister had contacted the school prior to our visit and let them know what we were up to.
The principal was so helpful and welcoming. He met us at the school on a Saturday afternoon and gave us a tour. It was fun walking the halls and seeing such a vibrant school still going today. We donated some books and money to the PTA.
My sister put together a little information sheet on where our and our brother’s educations had taken us over the years.
She then issued a challenge for each student to do one act of kindness as the principal was planning on sharing our visit and using it as an educational lesson for his students during their morning announcements. We even gave him copies of our report cards- yes we both still had them!
Deed 50: A Gift Basket & Toast
The FINAL deed. Exhausted, happy and satisfied in so many ways, we all sat down to a great meal together and toasted to our journey. We invited my nephew and his fiance, who were recently transferred to St. Louis from Ohio.
A bit of a full circle for our family, as one of our own goes back to where it all began.
We welcomed the couple to the city with a basket for them to enjoy, including homemade foods and information and guides on the new city they will call home.
Where to go from here?
Back home to catch up on work, laundry and carpool…but there is more to do.
My Grandmother will be 100 next year, and I think I have an idea up my sleeve…
To see a video of Be The Good, take a look and share!
January is always a tough month for me. Every year on the heels of a crazy Christmas season and an early January week-long trade show, I lose it. Energy, attitude, coping skills- my insides feel like the brown grass in my yard looks in winter. And like the grass, I wish for sun and warmth to make me grow again. This year I was anticipating the same type of January blues, to be exaggerated by the knowledge that in mere weeks, I was going to be 50 years old.
50- the BIG 5-0, the half a hundred mark, the beginnings of AARP discounts, the official over-the-hill age. To be frank, I don’t feel anywhere near 50. Actually I feel younger than I have in years and I have skirted my annual January collapse. (that is a story in itself). I thought perhaps I would be ready for a big birthday party this year. In my mid to late 40’s I have existed in one mode- SURVIVAL mode. “Don’t ask me to do anymore”, “I can’t handle another thing”. That was my inner mantra and my actions and attitude followed. I thought it was justified and in most people’s eyes, I do have a lot on my plate. I have run our family business for 18 years and juggle 4 very active, later-in-life kids, keeping me in the “taxi” stage of parenting. Through persistence and a deep desire for a better quality of life, I found renewed mental and physical energy by changing my health- everything else good has followed.
Mulling the party idea with my family, it just didn’t feel right. Do I host a party for myself? I wasn’t really comfortable with that. Maybe a dinner out with my family and a weekend away with the girls would be the way to ring in my 50’s. It sounded nice, but I knew I was missing a piece.
The piece came to be in the form of a Facebook post from a friend. Know I have been very late into the world of social media. It was a part of my “I can’t handle anymore” years. Too much information, too much to read, too many distractions…I didn’t want anymore. There was something too emotionally invasive about social media and I didn’t want to partake. But feeling better, I decided to test the waters. It was a week into my new life that I read a post that changed my course.
It was a post about a woman who celebrated her big 4-0 by doing 40 acts of kindness. Through another post, she read about a woman who celebrated her birthday by doing one good deed for every year and she took the idea and ran with it. She then documented her amazing day, and then shared it on her blog. Her idea was kindness spreads kindness, and I am living proof of that.
One day soon, with my deeds done, I will thank her for sharing her experience. It is like a stone thrown in a lake, as the ripples reach further than you can imagine. I am her ripple and I hope to have ripples of my own.
As I began to consider the magnitude of 50 deeds, a few “what-ifs” tried to creep in, but I kept them out. I emailed my friend who shared the post and she was in- 50 good deeds for my birthday! I called my sister- no question, she was in. I called my Mom and she was tearfully and joyfully in. My kids and husband, they were in too.
As of today, I have 3 days until Deed 1 begins and my Deeds have taken on a life of their own. I decided to name my adventure, BE THEre is GOOD in the World. Do you see the BE THE GOOD?
Because 50 was too much for one day, I decided to do my deeds within a week. I will start on a Sunday and do 10 deeds with my husband and kids. This day together is my birthday present from them this year. We will be picking up trash, delivering lunch, sneaking quarters into vending machines and giving gifts to many who have helped us. On the following 3 days, I will be joined by my wonderful friends and neighbors, doing 10 deeds a day.
When I hit SEND in an email to explain my idea and solicit help- I was scared. I had put myself out there like I had not done in years. Within hours all fears were dissolved. I had checks in my mailbox, donations on my porch, emails with kind words and offers to help. It has been several weeks since that initial email and the kindness continues to pour in.
For my final 10 deeds, I am packing my bags, and my 9-year old daughter and I are flying to St. Louis, Mo. There we will meet up with my sister, parents and childhood girlfriends. I will do my last 10 deeds in St. Louis while taking a walk down memory lane and visiting with the people that were part of my beginnings. We will be visiting the arch, we were “born” on the exact day 50 years ago, stopping by my childhood home and elementary school, paying tribute to our parents and “deeding” along the way.
For now, I will close with a few last thoughts on my impending adventure, as perhaps they will be different once all is said and done. I think this is a new beginning. I described it recently as a re-boot. A re-boot for my next 50 years. A change that will move my mind and heart more in tune with others, more thoughtful, more mindful of how one person can effect change. I hope to BE THE GOOD in my everyday life and model it for my children. I hope to be more connected to family and friends and to recognize and seize everyday opportunities to change someone elses course. I hope my new mantra will be “how can I help?” and “I can do that.”
This is a photograph of my grandma and my daughter. I’ll admit it is a little dated. Grandma was only 95 years young in this photo, today she is nearing 99. We have been officially celebrating her birthday with a big family party every 5 years. We began the tradition on her 80th birthday and we are looking forward to next year’s 100 year celebration. My Grandma is amazing. She lives in a retirement home in the independent living apartments. She dresses beautifully every day, gets her hair done weekly, continues to write letters and carry on meaningful conversations. She would lament her eyes, ears and knees don’t work as well as they once did, but we should be so blessed.
When it comes to planning a milestone birthday party , the hall, the cake, the invites, the menu….those are fairly easy decisions. For me, the only thing on the to-do list that is difficult to cross off with a feeling of total satisfaction- is the gift. I think over the years we have done a pretty good job at coming up with sentimental and meaning gifts, but at 95 we were stuck. We had run out of “things” we could happily give. For her birthdays and holidays I rotate through a list of gifts, sometimes selecting stationery, other times soaps and lotions, or occasionally a new over-the-head necklace. For 95, I wasn’t happy giving the usual suspects.
I gave myself some thinking time. I do my best thinking in unplanned moments and some of my greatest ideas have come in the shower, to the hum of a blow dryer, or in the car on a rare solo drive. This time I happened to be working in the yard. It was late winter or early spring (sometimes the two blend together here in the south!) and I was tending a flower bed. I was thinking Grandma loved flowers and perhaps there was an idea there somewhere. And then my mind wandered back to a program I had seen on television not long before. It was a documentary on the traits of centenarians. It featured several centenarians from around the world. They analyzed their lifestyle, diet, attitudes etc… There was one man from California, I believe he was still a practicing heart surgeon, who said he liked to hang out with young people, because they kept him young. He used the old crab in a bucket example of what happens as we age. He didn’t like to talk to old people because the complaining got him down, just like crabs in a bucket. One crawls up and the others pull him down.
My Grandma had lived in her own home until shortly before her 95th birthday. She decided it was time to move to a smaller apartment and away from some of the chores and hardships in caring for your own home. My fear for her was changing her environment, although there would be more people around, would be like crabs in a bucket. At 95 she was probably one of the oldest residents at the center, but being around 80 year olds didn’t constitute hanging out with young people! I wanted to make sure she was still engaged and connected, so the letter of the month gift was born.
The concept was simple- gather family and friends and send them a reminder email once a month to mail something to Grandma…a card, a letter, photographs of the kids, artwork from the kids…anything she could open and touch. A full mailbox gives you bragging rights at the senior home too. I thought if I could get a list of relatives you could do this for a year, Grandma would stay positive and connected. When I told her about the gift, she had tears in her eyes.
As the months progressed I realized there was a benefit to my gift I had not anticipated. For the cards, letters and photos she was receiving, she was writing back. She was finding meaning, purpose and an activity to keep her mind engaged, her spirits up and her heart connected. At the end of that year, I thought “why stop now?” and I continue to send out a reminder every month. She may not receive letters daily, but I know her mailbox is fuller because of them. I will continue sending them as long as she is celebrating birthdays. Which brings me to next year…what gift would be suitable for a 100 year birthday party? Believe it or not, I have an idea, a really great idea I got in the shower…so stay tuned!
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, are you looking for great Valentine’s Day gift ideas for your family? Take a look at this 10 ideas from the heart. Isn’t that what it is all about?
10 GREAT Valentine’s Day Gift ideas for Family
Make an “I love you” book. Purchase a blank album or journal. Fill the pages with reasons that person is loved. For example: I love your chocolate cake, or I love it when we watch movies together. Include pictures, drawings or other personal touches to make it special for the recipient.
For gifts such as candles, jewelry, flowers, chocolate etc., add your own special touching message, so they remember the gift came from you. Tie the gift and a meaningful message together. If you give candles, add a note that tells them you light up your life and every time they use the candle to think of how special they are to you. For candy, tell them how they sweeten your life.
Schedule a meal to have together and fill it with love. Heart-shaped pancakes or sandwiches. Think red…strawberries, tomatoes, pomegranate etc… to add lots of color. There are all kinds of websites with yummy, wonderful and attractive Valentines recipes to use as well.
Honor the recipient by having one of their favorite sayings or mottos put on something they will see everyday such as a wall plaque, magnet, coffee mug or frame.
Schedule a time to get together and do a few good deeds for others. A day or week planned with a few special “giving back” deeds, will fill your family members hearts with good feelings.
If older family members need help with their home or with everyday chores, show up at their home for a work day. Nothing says I love you more than the gift of your time.
If you have long-distance family members, nothing says it better than pictures or video. For still shots, take a photograph of children holding a heart, wearing a heart t-shirt etc.For video, kids can sing a song, shout I love you, put on a play..use your imagination!
Don’t buy your Valentine’s Day cards this year- make them- however cute, messy and imperfect they are, your heart will shine through. For an extra touch, frame them as a “work of heart”. When wrapping gifts, use kids artwork or print out a special photograph of the recipient and use it as a gift tag.
Start a Valentine’s Day gift journal that you can record in each year. Note the year and list all the things you are grateful for and all the things you love. Perhaps even a great way to start keeping a daily journal of positive, loving thoughts.
Make a plan to give everyone in your family your sincere attention and interest. Give hugs, really listen, write a little love note and be gracious to each other in the name of family and love. These gifts are free, but have the most value.
For great Valentines’ gifts that will meet your budget and time constraints, but still send an unquestioned message of love, visit www.grandparentgiftco.com for sweet gifts for your family.