Archive for the ‘donation’ Category

On 5 Kids and a Dog, there’s a series called the ABCs of Homeschooling.  This week’s letter is “M.” 

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter M…is for Math.

I remember sitting in a college calculus class and one of the students asked, “When are we ever going to use this in real life?”

The professor gave an answer that I wished some of my junior high and high school math teachers would have said when I was learning algebra and trigonometry, “Chances are, you’re never going to use this in your daily life. This level of math isn’t so much about using it in ‘real life.’  It is more about being persistent and disciplined, and finding the answer to a problem.” 

Math comes down to simple problem solving; and training one’s brain to be able to think through a variety of situations and get to the right answer or come to a conclusion. Math, to me, means essentially fostering a sense of determination and commitment to finish something you’ve started.

Because math goes beyond just learning numbers, functions, and concepts, I try to give Sophia and Olivia opportunities to learn math through a variety of methods: traditional/book learning, singing, learning tools, games, and real-life application.


The girls learn core math concepts and facts by using their math books.  I use Rod & Staff books since both girls say they like them.  At the last homeschool conference I attended, I looked at a variety of math books. Some had a lot of color and impressive graphic design; some used the computer; and others used DVDs to teach math.  After looking at the variety of resources, I decided to stick with Rod & Staff.

Rod & Staff isn’t fancy – the text and images are all in black and white.  However, the majority of examples they use all tie into agriculture, farm animals, and cooking/baking – all things that are quite applicable to the girls’ life right now.

Sophia's Math Book
Sophia’s fourth grade math book. 

There seems to be a lot of repetition with some of the fundamental concepts and facts (e.g., addition and subtraction facts, skip counting by 2s/5s/10s, multiplication and division facts). However, knowing these facts by memory is critical to forthcoming math skills, so I think that’s valuable.

That being said, once the girls have “mastered” a skill, I don’t make them continue doing pages of the same thing. They can move onto the next skill. That’s one of the benefits of homeschooling – adapting the lessons to the each child’s skills and knowledge.

Olivia Doing Math with Shells
Olivia likes to use manipulatives to help her visualize
some of the math problems she’s doing.
For this lesson, she chose to use shells.


The girls both enjoying singing and seem to retain information much better when they learn it by listening to and singing songs. 

Some of the CDs that the girls use for math.

Some of the CDs for math that they use include:

Shiller Math Songs – this was a CD that Olivia used a couple of years ago when using the Shiller math curriculum.  There are a variety of songs that had her moving about while listening to instructions on the CD.

Addition Songs by Kathy Troxel – this CD comes with a songbook/workbook, and has helped Olivia learn counting from 1 to 20 as well as all the addition facts from 1+1 to 9+9. There are sing-along songs as well as echo-style songs for self-testing.

Multiplication Songs by Kathy Troxel – this CD also comes with a songbook/workbook, and has helped Sophia learn all the multiplication tables 2 through 12.  There are sing-along songs as well as echo-style songs for self-testing.

  One Hundred Sheep by Roger Nichols – There are nine songs on this CD that teach counting by 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, etc. This skill is known as “skip counting” and is used in every math process from multiplication to algebra.  The songs use stories from the Gospels as a basis for the lyrics.  Both the girls use this CD.

Sophia singing along with the
One Hundred Sheep CD.



Olivia playing with some of the math dice.

One of the ways to learn and/or review the basic facts is by using dice. 

Basic math equation that Olivia put together
using three different types of dice.

I have a variety of dice that the girls can use.  Some have the basic six dots representing numbers on them (white ones).  Others are special ones:

– Blue dice with the numbers 1-6 on them.
– Green dice with the numbers 7-12 on them.
– White dice with different symbols (e.g., plus, minus, times, divided by).
– Yellow dice with Roman numbers.
– Big red and orange dice with little white dice inside it. Both the dice have the traditional 1-6 dots on each side.

A variety of dice to use with math games.

Electronic Flash Cards

Learning Resources has a Minute Math Electronic Flash Cards in which the girls are presented with different facts (e.g., 2+9, 8×7) and need to type in the answer. The “game” is based on speed and accuracy. There is a voice that tells the player if she typed in the correct answer.

Sophia testing herself on multiplication facts.

Sophia likes this “game,” but Olivia finds it frustrating.  So, when Sophia needs/wants to do something different for math, she’ll use the Electronic Flash Cards.  

Learning Wrap-Ups

Both the girls learn best when there is a hands-on component to the lesson.  One of the things that I found at the last homeschool conference was a set of Learning Wrap-Ups. Each Wrap-Up focuses on a different process (e.g., addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). 

Olivia testing herself on addition facts.

To use them, the girls start with the first number on the left side and add/multiply it by the number in the middle of the key.  Then they find the answer on the right hand side and bring the yarn to the other side and wrap it around the backside before bringing it to the second number on the left side. They repeat the process until all the numbers and answers have been wrapped.

Olivia with the finished Wrap-Up.
The string was where it should be on the back,
so she got all the answers correct.

The Wrap-Up is self-checking on the back. The key has a raised pattern to show where the yarn should be. If the yarn matches the pattern, then all of the answers were done correctly.


The girls have many games that they enjoy playing that have a math component to them:  Horse-opoly, Life, and Farm-opoly.

Farmopoly - Homeschool Math Lesson
The girls playing Farm-opoly.

In addition to purchased games, we’ve also made our own math games.  For Thanksgiving, we made a turkey racing game (see below) that involved counting and probability.  The girls had fun making and playing the game, and having it be a part of Thanksgiving activities in the future.

Turkey Racing Game
Homemade math game.


Bringing math into everyday activities provides the girls with a learning experience in a real-life setting, and helps enhance comprehension of what they are learning.

Counting by 5s and 10s
Sophia learning to skip count
by 5s and 10s using buttons.

An early math skill is sorting, although it is one that people use in their daily lives. One of the ways that sorting was incorporated into homeschooling is through stamp collecting.  The girls each have their own books for stamps, and have enjoyed sorting them into categories (e.g., horses, flowers, pandas, wild animals).

Olivia Working on Her Stamp Collection
Olivia sorting through stamps when she was very young. 
She still has and adds to her stamp collection.

Another way that the girls have used math is when they have sorted items to donate.  Each year we do Operation Christmas Child.  The girls enjoy choosing items to put in the boxes, and then dividing and sorting them at home. 

Olivia and Sophia Sorting Operation Christmas Child Items
The girls sorting items for Operation Christmas Child boxes.

Of course, each October the girls look forward to sorting candy they get when they go out for Halloween.  They will compare what each one got, and often will trade candy.

Olivia Sorting Halloween Candy
Olivia with candy she sorted.

Math also is used when studying science. 

Sophia Measuring the Jaw
Sophia measuring the length of a bone.

One of the easiest ways to tie the two subjects together has been when we have been able to measure something tangible (e.g., feathers, depth of a woodpecker hole in a tree, the circumference of a tree, the length of a bone).

Sophia Measuring Snow Depth
Sophia measuring the snow depth.

The girls enjoy cooking and baking.  Reading a recipe and then measuring the ingredients is something that I have involved them in well before they were doing their math books.

Making a Strawberry Smoothie
Sophia measuring and adding an ingredient
to make a fruit smoothie.

I’ve had a food scale for many years, and it seems like in the past few years that it has been used more frequently by the girls – whether they are making food in the kitchen or weighing an item for a science lesson.

Girls Putting Mushrooms on Scale
The girls were weighing some mushrooms they found
on the nature trail.
Sophia Measuring and Weighing  Rhubarb
The girls are cutting and measuring rhubarb
to make dessert.

Money is something that the girls have enjoyed learning about in math.  Rather than just using pictures in math books, the girls receive a bit of money for doing some chores.  They also receive money periodically as gifts from grandparents and relatives. 

Originally, I had the girls set up save-spend-give jars and a percentage of each amount they earned or was gifted was divided into the three jars in a 50-40-10 percent ratio (respectively).  Now, I have them do a 50-50 split – save half/spend half.  Of the spending money, some they use as donation money. 

The girls have their own wallets with money and gift cards, and have learned to interact with cashiers; and vendors at craft shows and farmer’s markets. They have to learn to use only the money they have available (no loans or borrowing money). This has taught them the value of budgeting and patience (especially if they need to save for a larger item). I’m hoping that they carry this into their adult life and save half of what they earn.


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On 5 Kids and a Dog, there’s a series called the ABCs of Homeschooling.  This week’s letter is “K.” 

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter K…is for Kitchen.
When I think of homeschooling, one of the places that we spend a considerable amount of time in is the kitchen.  The girls and I enjoy cooking and baking, so incorporating a culinary aspect into homeschooling is a natural fit.
The girls have been helping in the kitchen since they were about 18 months old.  As they have gotten older, the new skills they learn match their developmental and physical abilities. 
Both Sophia and Olivia will look at recipes as I’m planning meals for the upcoming few weeks.  When I’m doing this, they often will look at the pictures that accompany the recipe (the majority of my recipes come from cooking and women’s magazines).  They’ll see a picture of something that looks good and will ask if they can make it. 
Trying a new recipe, having it be a part of the meal, and seeing what it tastes like is something that makes the girls happy and proud.
Olivia with Pumpkin Pie
Olivia holding a pumpkin pie she made.

During the past few years, I created an ABC Journey Around the World in which the girls learned about a different country in alphabetical order (e.g., Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, and so forth until ending with Yemen and Zambia). 

One of their favorite parts of learning about other countries was seeing what people would eat in different parts of the world.  I found recipes on the internet as well as through recipe books from the library. We tried anywhere from one to six recipes per country (some were easier to find recipes for than others).

Making Mexican Hot Chocolate
The girls made Mexican hot chocolate
using a recipe found in a children’s cookbook.
They also made Mexican scrambled eggs
that morning for a complete breakfast.

French Green Bean Recipe
Sophia is holding a green bean sidedish
using a French recipe. 

Olivia Making Swedish Rolls
Olivia is making Swedish cinnamon rolls.
The recipe came from a local church cookbook
that had a whole section on Swedish cooking
(we live in a community that was founded
by Swedish immigrants).

The kitchen is more than a place to cook and bake food.  With homeschooling, the kitchen also becomes an area to do science experiments and hands-on activities.

One of the science lessons that the girls did focused on marine life and pelicans. Apparently a pelican can hold 13 1/2 quarts of water in its pouch. The water drains out, leaving only the fish which the pelican then can swallow and eat.

Sophia Being a Pelican
Sophia trying to catch a marshmallow
as part of a science lesson about pelicans.

In the photograph above, there are 2 marshmallows in the sink representing fish. Sophia’s job is to catch the marshmallows. It’s harder than it looks.

The girls learn best when they can make a hands-on, tangible connection with the subject about which they are learning.  This is so important when the concept might be more difficult for them (e.g., electricity) or would benefit from a visual example (e.g., lung capacity).

Lung Capacity Experiment
Olivia learning about lung capacity.
She took a deep breath and then blew air through the tube
that led into the water-filled 2-liter pop bottle.
The air would push out the water from the bottle
and show how much air was in her lungs.

Sometimes when we’re cooking, the girls learn new words or make a connection between what they’re cooking with something else they’ve heard or learned.  For example, when we were making cheese, the curds separated from the whey.  They immediately made the connection with the nursery rhyme they had heard many times:

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey,
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Cheesemaking - Curds Separating from Whey
Learning to make cheese.  In the process,
the girls saw the curds and whey separate; and
made the connection of a nursery rhyme they heard.
(The curds are the white part; the whey is the liquid.)

For one nature study, we focused on learning about dandelions.  In addition to the science part of the study, we added a culinary component where we made dandelion cookies, dandelion vinegar, and dandelion oil/salve.

Making Dandelion Oil for Salve
Olivia making dandelion oil.
The oil can be used as a base to make salve.

The kitchen also is a place where the girls create things for the holidays and different seasons. 

Borax Snowflake - Step 3 - Sophia
Sophia making borax snowflakes.
Homemade Marshallows for Valentine's Day
Olivia holding homemade marshmallows
she made for Valentine’s Day.

Gretel Waiting for Pumpkin Guts
Sophina carving a pumpkin while Gretel looks on.

An important part of our time in the kitchen is when we make food to help others.  We have made many meals and desserts for people experiencing medical/health challenges; and have chosen to donate some of our food to those in need. 

Cereal to Donate
The girls packaging up some of food to donate
to an organization that serves people who are homeless.

We also make food for animals – treats for the dogs, cats, and horses; and for wildlife.  Making food for the hummingbirds to drink during the summer and suet for the birds during the winter are regular activities. 

Sophia Helping Make Bird Suet on a 25 Degree Below Zero Day
Sophia making suet for the birds on a
very cold 25 degree BELOW zero day.
Needless to say, the birds needed the energy
and were constantly eating the homemade suet.

Seeing how excited the animals are to get a treat…and to see the variety of birds that now visit the feeders is a lot of fun.  Being able to observe animals up close (especially birds) is such a highlight of homeschooling.
So many subjects are covered in the kitchen beyond home economics – reading, math, science, community service, and geography. The kitchen truly is one of the centers of learning for homeschooling…and one of our favorite places to learn! 

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For the 24th week of giving, Sophia and Olivia picked out and sent books to Books For Africa.  According to the Books For Africa website:

“…We believe that education is the great equalizer in the world, and books are at the foundation of a strong educational system. For many children in Africa, the gift of books truly is a gift of hope.

“Access to an education is one of the only opportunities young people have to end the cycle of poverty and attain a better quality of life than previous generations. Books For Africa works to help children who otherwise would not attend school by supplying educational materials to reduce or eliminate education costs.

“Wars, economic crises, poverty, malnutrition, and illiteracy plague many areas of Africa. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), 40 percent of school-age children in Africa do not attend school. Forty-six million African children have never set foot in a classroom.

“Most African children who attend school have never owned a book of their own. In many classrooms, 10-20 students share one textbook. Many people in the United States take these educational necessities for granted, but children in Africa cherish books.

“Books For Africa supplies sea containers of books to rural school libraries, orphanages, adult literacy programs, and community resource centers. Books For Africa strives to help create a culture of literacy and provide the tools of empowerment to the next generation of parents, teachers, and leaders in Africa.”

After learning about Books For Africa, the girls picked out some books that they wanted to send the children. 

Sophia and Olivia packaging books
they want to donate to Books For Africa. 
They had picked more books to donate, but
they were copyrighted more than 15 years ago. 
It’s too bad…many of the older, classic books that the girls have enjoyed
have such wonderful stories and lessons.

They needed to follow these guidelines about books that Books For Africa accepts:

•15 years old or newer popular fiction and nonfiction reading books (soft and hard cover).
•1995 or newer publish date primary, secondary, and college textbooks (soft and hard cover).
•1995 or newer reference books such as encyclopedias and dictionaries.
•1995 or newer publish date medical, nursing, IT, and law books.
•Bibles are sent when requested by African recipients.
•School/office supplies—paper, pencils, pens, wall charts, maps, etc.

Acceptable books are gently used and relevant to an African reader.

Books For Africa does NOT accept:

•Magazines or journals or any kind.
•Home decorating, wedding, or cookbooks.
•Ethnocentric books, such as the biography of Abraham Lincoln or the history of Ohio.
•Foreign language books except for French books. French novels and dictionaries are welcome.
•American history or civics.
•Music books for K–12.

The girls put the books in a box and did not include any packing materials such as newspaper, plastic wrap, and peanuts (as requested by Books For Africa).

They mailed them to:

Books For Africa
715 Minnehaha Avenue East

St Paul, MN 55130
There also is an address in Georgia that accepts books.  People can drop off books in person if they don’t want to mail them. 

There are more details about shipping or dropping off books at their website.

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Both the girls wear glasses, so they know how important it is to have a pair of glasses that can help them see things more clearly. 

So, for the 22nd week of the 52 Weeks of Giving challenge, the girls donated glasses that we no longer wear to New Eyes for the NeedyAccording to New Eyes for the Needy’s website, “The cost of eyeglasses in many developing nations is equivalent to a year’s salary.”

Thanks to organizations like New Eyes for the Needy, last year alone, 5,167 individuals in need who were living in the U.S. and 161,000 people in developing nations were given the gift of clear vision. As the New Eyes for the Needy website says, they work toward “Bringing Vision to the U.S. and the world.”

We found three pairs of glasses which will be recycled by New Eyes for the Needy; and used by those in need.

Olivia cleaning a pair of glasses
before shipping them New Eyes for the Needy.

If you also would like to help, mail or ship your contribution to New Eyes for the Needy in a padded envelope or box using the least expensive method of shipping (the cost of shipping is tax-deductible) to:

New Eyes for the Needy
549 Millburn Avenue
P.O. Box 332
Short Hills, NJ 07078

Make sure you put your name and return address (with zip code) inside the envelope so the organization can thank you.  More information on shipping can be found on the New Eyes for the Needy website.

The girls worked together to seal the box that held
their donation of three pairs of glasses.

If you don’t have glasses to donate, New Eyes for the Needy also accepts cash donations ($60 purchases a pair of glasses for an individuals in need in the U.S.) as well as donations of a variety of items which they sell and use the proceeds to buy glasses for U.S. residents. 

Here’s the link more information about what they are looking. This is a great way to get rid of items you no longer want/need that someone else will buy and reuse. Not only are you helping others see, but you are helping the environment.

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Last Thursday, across the United States, the real estate company Keller Williams sponsored RED Day.  Each office has its own projects and activities that aim to renew and energize aspects of the neighborhoods in which they serve.  RED Day initiatives can include refurbishing local parks, giving to food shelters, rebuilding homes, hosting blood drives, or any other project based on a need they see within their community.
I was contacted by Laurie from Keller Williams (in Maple Grove, Minnesota) after she called my parents’ church and asked if there may be a family who needs some assistance.  In talking with Laurie, I shared with her some of the ways they have shared their time, talents, and gifts with others.  
My dad used to be the Deacon of his church.  He and my mom were one of the original families who founded the church in the mid-1970s. 
My dad when he was in the seminary to become a priest.
He changed his mind, and later went through training with my mom
to become a Deacon in his church.
Since that time, they both started and led activities and trips with the Gad-Abouts – a senior group at their church.  They stopped leading the group a few years ago due to my mom’s mobility issues.
My mom co-started and continues to host the Angel Quilters at her home bi-weekly.  The ladies made quilts that are donated to people who are homeless, been through a natural disaster, or who were in domestic violence situations and are starting thier lives over.
My dad with my brother (right side) and
neighbor/my brother’s friend (left side). 
They both became Eagle Scouts while my dad was their Boy Scout leader.
For his career, my dad was a school social worker at two different schools (senior and junior high).  He was a Boy Scout leader, and helped guide many boys to becoming Eagle Scouts.  He led many trips to northern Minnesota as well as throughout the U.S. to help boys learn how to camp, fish, and gain outdooor skills.
He was a Big Brother (as part of the Big Brother/Little Brother program) to many boys who are now men in their 50s-60s. 
My mom led Girl Scout troops, a 4-H club, and has volunteered in many ways through her church. 
Currently, they are both facing health challenges – my dad with Alzheimer’s Disease, and mom with mobility issues, diabetes, and vision problems.  They would like to stay in their home, but the upkeep as well as several features make it challenging. 
Keller Williams stepped in and made many improvements to their home to make it safer for them plus help with outdoor maintenance which had been done as well as in the past due to my father having Alzheimer’s Disease, and the impact it has had on his skills and abilities.

I was there for the entire day while work was being done by over 30 volunteers.  It was with great joy that I was able to see members from the community give back to my parents – two people who have given of themselves throughout their entire lives.  It was one of most inspiring and meaningful days that I have ever experienced.
My dad is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, and was having a difficult day initially.  He was very confused and concerned when the volunteers began arriving.  However, when he had the opportunity to walk outside and talk with the volunteers from Keller Williams, he was put at ease by their care and compassion. 
Several volunteers talked with him one-on-one, and provided assurance to him that what was important to him in the garden and yard would stay right there so he could continue to enjoy it.  They affirmed who he is…and acknowledged all the work that he had done through the years.  This was incredibly meaningful, and helped him be more comfortable with and enjoy what was happening that day.
Keller Williams asked several contractors to help address some of the safety issues in the home.  Different individuals worked on various projects, depending on their specialty.  During the day, handrails were installed on the staircases, grab bars were intalled in the shower, a gate added to the vegetable garden for safer access (so my dad wouldn’t step over the existing fence and fall like he did last summer), and the dock repaired.  Having these items addressed provides a tremendous amount of comfort and peace of mind to my sister, brother, and me. 
Two new grab bars were placed in my dad’s shower
to make it safer as he ages and
deals with the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. 

My parents hope to stay in their home (rather than go to a nursing home), and these improvements to their home and yard will make it much safer for them to stay there.  The double handrails on the staircases also will allow my mom (who has a lot of difficulty walking) to be able to access both floors of the home which was challenging…at best…before the new handrails were installed.

New handrails in my parents’ home to make it
safer and more accessible.
A company that Keller Williams contacted donated its time to cleaning my parents’ windows. My mom is still talking about the windows and how clear and beautiful they are, now that they are washed.  What a tremendous difference clean windows can make! 
Volunteers also created a bird watching area for my dad which has already brought him a lot happiness. He loves to see them eat and drink water.  As his disease has progressed, he has been spending more time sitting in the chair by the window. 

Now, having all the bird feeders and bird bath set up close to the window so he can see the birds is wonderful, and gives him something to talk about with us as well as his friends at Open Circle (the adult day care program he attends in Hopkins)!

My dad by his new birdwatching area.
Volunteers also made meals at Let’s Dish for my parents so my mom could simply bake meals when her energy is low or she’s in pain. Having these dinners will be invaluable to making sure that she and my dad are eating nutritious food. 
Out of curiosity, I looked up RED Day and learned it was an acronym for Renew, Energize, and Donate.  (I thought it simply reflected the color of the Keller Williams’ logo.)  When I read that, I felt like that truly was the perfect description of what happened this past Thursday. 
Collectively, everyone who donated their time and skills on RED Day at my parents’ home renewed their spirit.  My mom, who is my dad’s primary caregiver, has many days that are filled with challenges, disappointments, and grief as she’s watching her husband – the man who she has loved for almost 47 years – progressively lose more skills almost on a weekly basis. 
Volunteers Helping My Parents
Volunteers working in the rain on the flower gardens
and backyard at my parents’ home on RED Day.

That being said, for her to see so many people from Keller Williams have such positive and uplifting spirits – to be literally singing in the pouring rain – to be so focused and hard-working – to be dedicated to finishing the job despite their clothing being soaked with rain – these are the things that will continue to inspire and motivate her on even her most difficult days.

From left to right: Laurie (from Keller Williams), my dad, my mom
me, and Belidna (from Keller Williams).

As my mom looks at the flowers blooming, and the hostas and perennials growing; as she’s enjoying fresh vegetables from their garden; as she’s watching her grandchildren dip their feet and hands in the lake from the dock…she will always remember and see the many people who came forward to make a difference in their lives. 

By providing well over 100+ hours of time with this project, the volunteers have energized our entire family.  As my father’s health and skills continuing to decline, his ability to maintain the yard has decreased considerably – even from last season to this one.  The outdoor work would have fallen on my sister, brother, and me…in addition to trying to help with other critical responsibilities when we visit.
RED Day also has given a very important long-term gift to our family:  the ability to create memories while we can.  By freeing our time from raking, weeding, and planting, volunteers from Keller Williams are giving us an opportunity to take my parents out this spring and summer to different places as a way to keep them both active and engaged; and as a way to build memories between parents and children; and grandparents and grandchildren. 

Taking my parents to various places during the coming months would not be possible if volunteers from Keller Williams had not done as much as they did.  Our time with our parents would be spent trying to do yard work rather than spending quality and meaningful time with them. 

RED Day has truly given our family the gift of time…and of memories that I know we will cherish in the future.  For this, I am truly thankful and feel incredibly blessed.

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This week has been rather challenging in terms of time.  Olivia is now going to the local elementary school for 1 1/2 hours-2 1/2 hours per day three times per week to help address a couple of learning disabilities she has that were recently diagnosed and that are making reading and spelling more challenging.
Olivia also had an orthodontist appointment this week in preparation for getting braces next week.  She has a crossbite that must be fixed, and now is time to do this.  It’s about a four-month process, and the one part she’s looking forward to is getting to pick out the wire color each week when the braces are adjusted.
In addition to these additional appointments during the past week, I was at my parents’ home (the girls’ grandparents) for almost a full day on Thursday.  My parents were having volunteers from Keller Williams help them as part of RED Day.
Given the time crunch, we chose this week to support Ducks Unlimited.  I made a donation on behalf of the girls so they could become “Junior Greenwings” (younger Ducks Unlimited members). 
By joining Ducks Unlimited, Junior Greenwings participate in the conservation, restoration, and management of wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people.
According to the Ducks Unlimited website, “there are more than 60,000 young people who love the outdoors and care about protecting wetlands across North America.” 
In addition, the organization “…is the world’s leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation.  DU got its start in 1937 during the Dust Bowl when North America’s drought-plagued waterfowl populations had plunged to unprecedented lows.  Determined not to idly by as the continent’s waterfowl dwindled beyong recovery, a small group of sportsmen joined together together to form an organization that became known as Ducks Unlimited.  It’s mission:  habitat conservation.”   

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After a rather sobering (but incredibly fascinating) book last week for the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I picked out an inspiring story called The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. 

The inside cover summarizes the book well:

The Go-Giver tells the story of an ambitious young man named Joe who yearns for success. Joe is a true go-getter, though sometimes he feels as if the harder and faster he works, the further away his goals seem to be.

And so one day, desperate to land a key sale at the end of a bad quarter, he seeks advice from the enigmatic Pindar, a legendary consultant referred to by his many devotees simply as the Chairman.

Over the next week, Pindar introduces Joe to a series of successful “go-givers”: a restaurateur, a CEO, a financial advisor, a real estate broker and “The Connector,” who brought them all together.

Pindar’s friends share with Joe the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success and teach him how to open himself up to the power of giving.

Joe learns that changing his focus from getting to giving—putting others’ interests first and continually adding value to their lives—ultimately leads to unexpected returns.

Imparted with wit and grace, The Go-Giver is a heartwarming and inspiring tale that brings new relevance to the old proverb “give and you shall receive.”

The Go-Giver has its own website with a scrapbook of stories that illustrate how people applied the book’s advice to their own life, and – in the process – have positively impacted the lives of many other people in their own family, community, workplace, and world.

At the beginning of the book, there’s a section where Joe meets Pindar for the first time, and Pindar explains his core philosophy.  Pindar says, “Please don’t misunderstand me.  There’s nothing wrong with making money.  Lots of it, in fact.  It’s just not a goal that will make you successful….You want to understand success, yes?”

Joe nodded. 

“All right.  I’m going to share my Trade Secret with you now.”

Pindar leaned forward a bit and softly spoke one word.  “Giving.”

There are several “laws” that Pindar shares with Joe that he must, in turn, act on in some way – either at his place of employment or with friends/family.  They are:

The Law of Value – Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.

The Law of Compensation – Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.

The Law of Influence – Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.

The Law of Authenticity – The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.

The Law of Receptivity – The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.

One of the chapters talked about the reasons for working.  According to Pindar there “…are three universal reasons for working.  Survive – to meet your basic living needs. Save – to go beyond your basic needs and expand your life. And serve  – to make a contribution to the world around you.”

Another section of the book discussed a network:  “Now, by a network I don’t necessarily mean your customers or clients.  I mean a network of people who know you, like you, and trust you.  They might never buy a thing from you, but they’ve always got you in the backs of their minds.  ….. They’re people who are personally invested in seeing you succeed.  …. They’re your army of personal walking ambassadors.

Since I am not employed outside the home, I began to question how relevant this story was to my life.  However, about midway through the book, there was a part that said, “These lessons don’t apply only to business….A genuinely sound business principle will apply anywhere in your life….That’s the true bottom line.  Not whether it simply improves your financial balance sheet, but whether it improves your life’s balance sheet.”

Another section of The Go-Giver shared an example of a woman who was in the real estate field.  She wasn’t closing on many homes, and felt like she didn’t have much to offer.  She said, “When I said that my life as a mom and household manager left me with nothing the marketplace wanted, I was wrong.  There was something else I’d learned over those years, and that was how to be a friend.  How to care.  How to make people feel good about themselves.  And that, my friends, is something the marketplace wants very much – always has, always will.” 

A good thing to remember was this part of The Go-Giver:  “No matter what your training, no matter what your skills, no matter what area you’re in, you are your most important commodity.  The most valuable gift you have to offer is you.  …As long as you’re trying to be someone else…you have no possibility of truly reaching people.  The most valuable thing you have to give people is yourself.”

Giving is Receiving

Ultimately, what the message and what all these lessons support is: “…The secret to success…to gaining it, to having it, is to give, give, give.  The secret to getting is giving.  And the secret to giving is making yourself open to receiving.”

The Go-Giver doesn’t take very long to read (it’s only 132 pages). It is a thought-provoking book in that it makes one consider how to be of better service…how to be make a greater contribution…to others (whether through one’s time or through financial assistance).  I would definitely recommend this book. 

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