Can you believe it’s that time of year again? We’ve been having unseasonably high temps in the south, so our daffodils, hostas and buds are coming early. I always revisit this post because I continue to divide my free plants.
For the last few months, we’ve been tackling just a bit of our backyard bedlam. Just to make you all feel better about your yard, I showed you just how aggressively the weeds had taken over. I shared that the professionals told us our only hope for our grass was to start completely over and I asked for your suggestions on some of your favorite plants.
Since our front yard landscaping project is the first place we are going to invest in, you were great with all your ideas, but it’s a huge undertaking so for a quick landscape pick me up, I decided to focus on the area under our big shade trees – an area easy to beautify.
Initially, I made sure to kill all the crazy weeds lurking everywhere.
But then, our son decided to surprise me for my birthday by creating a tiny landscape oasis (read about it here), complete with a swinging bed, right in the spot where I had started to work.
He divided the large hostess into small plants, used the rocks that he found in our woods and created the retaining wall and even pulled my freshly painted chair off the porch to use as a plant stand. [Read More…]
Hearts of Loving Kindness –
It’s wonderful to look back and see some of the special memories our kids have from traditions that we’ve carried through their childhood. Our baby may have just turned 13, but I think I need to reinstate this tradition and thought I’d share it again. We are never to old. 🙂
For years, we implemented a unique Valentine’s Day tradition that encouraged thinking of others through out the month of February. It was a way to get our children’s eyes off themselves and make it fun to serve others. It’s so easy to get complacent in our own activities and now is a time when others need our kindness more than ever.
This is something wonderful to begin right now and continue it through until Valentine’s Day or make it a month long event.
This tradition idea can be adapted to best fit the personality of your family, but we used pretty hearts during the month of February to teach the value of loving kindness to others in our lives. Find a small box or jar and invite your children to help decorate it any way you want: with stickers, artwork, photos or a big red ribbon.
I’ve created a Hearts of Loving Kindness free printable template or you can draw your own. Place all of the blank hearts inside the jar and as they wait “patiently,” share this tradition idea with your family. It will mark their memories for years to come. 🙂
While we strung them in our kitchen, you can take them on their bedroom door, bathroom mirror or anywhere they choose.
Every time you observe a family member doing something kind for someone else, or going above and beyond typical family behavior, write their name and what they did on a heart. String it up on a ribbon and hang it in the kitchen or family room for all to see. You can put four to six hearts on a ribbon by cutting a slit at the top and bottom of the heart and slipping each heart up the ribbon and then tie a knot at the top of the heart to hold it in place. The more hearts your family sees dangling, the more they will want to add to the festive display. At the end of the month, determine what the special treat will be to end a wonderful month of looking to put others first. Remember to spend time throughout the month, dinner time works well, reading out loud each new heart. You will be reminded of the power of encouraging words as you see their faces light up as their heart is read.
From a mom’s point of view, I think it’s important to focus on the “character qualities” and not just the actions. There is already so much pressure for children to “perform,” so instead of pointing out what they “did well,” also note the character quality behind it, such as perseverance, diligence, encouragement, kindness, servant-hood etc.
As we build up their love tank by affirming their character qualities, the begin to understand a truer sense of their value. For instance, during a particular hard “mommy day,” my daughter made me a smoothie and served it to me.
Often, I find that I want to point out what a good cook she is becoming (which she is), but my desire is to continue to encourage her sweet servant’s spirit and her thoughtfulness, not just the fact she cooks well. Now, this is something hard for the kids to understand, but I continue to point out the difference as I model a paradigm shift.
(Edited to add: Since I first shared this post, I’ve written on this critical topic. How One Little Perspective Change Altered How I Mothered. with Reminders We All Need to Hear (and free printables)
You will have plenty of opportunities during the month to talk about how and why we do things for others simply out of the “kindness of our hearts.”
Make it a family tradition to focus on the value of loving kindness every February and be sure to preserve those precious memories in a Valentine’s Day Book with a photo of family members holding their Hearts of Loving Kindness.
Last year, my reader Kim, shared her idea, which is kind of combination of My Secret Valentine Tradition and this one. Love it.
“Oh, I think this is a wonderful idea.. Except I’m not going to tell my guys about it.. I’m just going to hang the hearts with notes on it when they do something nice, sweet, or loving, and that includes washing their own cup late at night when all the dishes have been washed & the kitchen is cleaned & closed. Sigh..
Create your own crafty hearts or use our free heart template to print off your own hearts to enjoy this new Valentine’s Day tradition today.
Discover lots of other inexpensive Valentine’s Day ideas at my holiday celebrations category.
It’s January: everything around me reminds me it’s time to ring in 2017 with new beginnings, goals, dreams and a renewed vigor to all things. Brand new journals glisten with fresh pages eager to be conquered and the artistry and craftsmanship of the bullet journal allows creatives the organizational prowess that makes the rest of us yearn to learn.
And then there’s me.
I’m a week in and Christmas storage boxes adorn neglected corners alongside garbage bags stuffed with
“trash” “treasures” because THIS is the year I will declutter the attic. (Yes, a family joke. I’ve resolved that many times). Wet coats, gloves, and damp smelly yellow labs drape the laundry room since North Carolina is in hibernation and I haven’t left the house for days. We’re completely iced in, down our long gravel drive. I’m pretty sure (ok, I’m certain) I’ve lounged, lived, and slept in the same sweatshirt, yoga pants, and ponytail hair the entire time (no judgement — dry shampoo rocks) and daily, delicious post holiday treats woo me from the counter.
Day 4 of Snowmagedden 2017 and our seventeen-year-old daughter reminds me, “Mom, are you ready. Today’s the day we’re starting our 17 day diet (no sugar, no carb detox). Are you prepared for us?”
What? What day is it? School, church, and life have been cancelled for the week and I’d already forgotten my new resolve.
Annually, I invite my blog readers to join me on a Carb Detox. It pushes my “all or nothing” carb hoarder eating habits back in balance, but it takes preparation. Mental preparation for the extreme discipline ahead, but also physical preparation by buying healthy foods and prepping them ahead of time so when cravings hit, we are ready. It’s critical to success.
My daughter opened the fridge. I’ll be honest. Besides the typical Southern assault on milk and bread before a snowstorm hits, I’m all about stocking up on hot chocolate, Nutty Bars, and Tator Tots because what screams cozy, winter, fire roaring memories more than those? In the midst of that, I forget the mad dash for my carrots and broccoli.
My daughter chastised, “Mom, milk and lettuce will not get us very far and I’m not starting this with you until we are ready. Seriously prepared.”
Her words sunk deep as conviction followed, “Seriously prepared.” That sounds like discipline.
Most southerners rushed for milk before the storm; I loaded up on comfort food. While both brought contentment for a while, neither truly satisfied. [Read More…]