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Archive for the ‘volunteer’ Category

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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Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter —
to all these music gives voice,
but in such a way that we are
transported from the world of unrest
to a world of peace, and
see reality in a new way,
as if we were sitting by a mountain lake and
contemplating hills and woods and
clouds in the tranquil and fathomless water.
~ Albert Schweitzer

For the 23rd week of the 52 Weeks of Giving, the girls played music for their grandparents for their 47th wedding anniversary which is on June 13th.  The girls played music on the harp and piano before we took them out.  (After listening to music for a short time, we drove them to diferent areas of the city with which they were familiar and brought back lot of memories; went out to eat and enjoyed being outdoors for a meal; and visited Minnehaha Falls.)

Sophia playing music for her grandparents.
Olivia was holding music when Sophia
didn’t yet know it from memory.

As Albert Schweitzer noted above, music has many benefits.  After listening to Sophia play the harp, Nana (Sophia’s grandma) said that the music was “beautiful” and that it was “so relaxing to listen to.” She said she could listen to the music all day. 

In doing a quick search on the internet about the benefits of live harp music, some benefits were noted repeatedly on different sites.  Harp music can:

– lower blood pressure,
– decrease the heart rate, and
– increase the oxygenation levels.

Seniors, specifically, benefit greatly from harp music.  Listening to live harp music can:
– Bring about better awareness and concentration
– Enhance interest levels and social interaction
– Improve memory and recall
– Help create a better outlook on life and higher self-esteem
– Increase mobility and coordination
– Diminish pain and improve recovery time
– Reduce tension and promote relaxation

After Sophia was done playing, her grandma said her favorite part was when all the strings were played in a row (this is called a glissando).  So, Sophia brought over the harp to Nana and said, “Would you like to play it?” 

“I don’t know how to,” she said.

“Here…put your fingers here and then do this,” Sophia held her grandma’s fingers as she slid them down the strings.  After that, she continued playing the harp by pulling at some of the strings and moving her hands along the strings. 

“I could just listen to the harp all day long,” she said.

Then it was Papa’s turn (Sophia’s and Olivia’s grandfather).  “You want to try, Papa?”  Having Alzheimer’s Disease affected his ability to comprehend what she was asking and hoping for. 

“Dad, put your fingers on the strings here,” I said. He grabbed the longest string with his entire hand.  I loosened his grip and gently placed his fingers on the strings.  “Like this…” I showed him.

“Just gentle, Papa,” Sophia said as I pulled his fingers along the strings.  I let go of his fingers and he continued playing for a bit longer.

“I use to do this,” he said.  Knowing that he never played the harp, but he did play the piano and organ, I realized it had brought back memories of him playing an instrument when he was younger and before he had Alzheimer’s Disease.

For my parents (the girls’ grandparents…Papa and Nana), this short time with music touched several senses:  the sense of hearing, touch, and sight, with the first two having the greatest impact. 

This is something that the girls and I plan to continue doing – not each time we visit them, but frequently enough so that the benefits of listening to live music can be shared with them.

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Over at Creating My Way to Success, Jill interviewed me about what I create and my definition of success.  I’ve included my interview below if you’d like to read it.

After you’re done at Harvest Moon by Hand’s blog, I’d like to encourage you to visit Creating My Way to Success.  I originally found out about Jill’s blog through her weekly “Round Tuit” post.  She features inspiring work made by several people each week, and then anyone can link a project they’ve completed (craft, cooking, or anything creative).

As Jill says, “…maybe it’s a project you’ve completed that you’re proud of – something you have wanted to get done for a while and need some extra motivation to get going on it – or you’d just like some of that fabulous encouragement, praise, and motivation that bloggers are so good at spreading around.”

She also has a section on her blog for clothes upcyling projects which over 100 people submitted projects to – including photos and tutorials.  It’s an excellent resource if you want to find a new purpose for old clothes…and make a positive difference on the environment.

After my interview, there’s a link for you to include your blog.  By visiting and following one another’s blogs, we spread the word about all the creativity out there…and countless inspiring ideas!

Here’s my interview with Jill (Jill’s questions are in bold type; my answers are in regular type):

What do you create?

When I think of what I create, I divide the items into three different groups:  things that I sell, share, or support. 

SELLING

My main way of selling some of the things that I create is through my shop on Etsy, Harvest Moon by Hand.  My goal is to help people enhance their homes by offering natural products which are calming and uplifting; and inspire creative and imaginative play in children.

Two Rainbow Window Stars
Window stars that are available at

I do this by:

– Creating handcrafted items made of natural, quality materials.

Beeswax Heart
Hand-poured beeswax impression
available at Harvest Moon by Hand.

– Creating imagination-inspired, eco-conscious items from materials that would normally be recycled thereby lessening the impact on the environment.

Wool Felt Bears & Bunting
Handmade bears with miniature bunting
made from a felted wool sweater.
Available at Harvest Moon by Hand.

SHARING

Another way that I create is sharing ideas through writing.  My blog, also named Harvest Moon by Hand, focuses on a variety of subjects, and gives readers a “behind-the-scenes” of what life is like at Harvest Moon and what provides the inspiration for its products. 

Mosaic of Needlefelted Alphabet ATCs and ACEOs - Tactile Art and Learning for Children
Set of needlefelted alphabet cards that I made
to help my daughters learn their letters
and corresponding sounds. 
The wool cards also can be used for spelling words.

Some of the topics I tend to write more about on my blog include: art, education, embroidery, family traditions, food/recipes, holidays, homeschooling, nature, reading, and sewing. 

August Journal Quilt without Border
Hand-embroidered journal quilt I made during 2010. 
This quilt is one of twelve that were made monthly for a year.
More information about the journal quilts and
what they symbolize are at Harvest Moon by Hand’s blog.

SUPPORTING

A third way that I create is by supporting my family by making or doing things for personal or family use. Some of the ways that I create on a day-to-day basis for my family are by:

– Making healthy meals and trying new recipes;
– Creating family traditions; and making good memories that the girls can look back on when they are older;
– Developing a personalized curriculum for each of my daughters based on their educational needs;
– Sewing clothes or quilts;
– Making sensory items and a memory quilt for my dad who has Alzheimer’s Disease;
– Making hand-embroidered toys; and
– Crocheting blankets.

Addy Unit Study - Sugar Cookies Round 2
I helped Sophia make sugar cookies one afternoon
after reading a book about a girl who made cookies.
She formed the dough into letters,
spelling the words “Family” and “Love.”

Why do you create?

That’s a good question.  In some ways, I think that asking me why I create is like asking me “Why do you breathe?” or “Why do you eat?”  Both breathing and eating are necessary to sustain life. 

I consider creating and creative expression – whether it’s a product, a memory, something to eat, a lesson plan, or playing a song on the piano – ways to sustain and enhance others’ lives as well as my own.  

Do you sell your creations? If so, how? Where?

I sell some of the items that I create through my shop (Harvest Moon by Hand) on Etsy.  What I enjoy about having a presence on the internet is that my work has been purchased by individuals and businesses throughout the world – including many states in the United States, Canada, Brazil, several countries in Europe, Australia, and Japan.

Rainy Day Activity Book - Button Flowers and Insects/Birds in the Garden
Pattern for a hand-embroidered activity book
available at Harvest Moon by Hand.

An equally important part of running a business is giving back to the community.  A couple of years ago, a local church asked me to make window stars for their fellowship hall/welcoming area.  I donated about 20 stars that they displayed in the windows around their Christmas tree.

Origami Window Stars at Church
One of the windows at a local church
where I donated some stars for
their Christmas display.
I also have made window stars, hand-embroidered ornaments, and other handmade items as “thank you” gifts for those who have made an impact on my life and who have indicated that they like the work that I do.  Sharing an item that I made by hand with someone who will appreciate it is something I enjoy doing.

What mistakes have you made or lessons you have learned?

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in trying to run a business. I do not have a business degree (my undergraduate degrees are in Psychology and in Communications, Telecommunications, and Theater; and I did some graduate work in Arts Administration), so I’m not as skilled as others who have a strong business background.  I’m learning as I go; and having Harvest Moon by Hand has taught me a lot about different aspects of operating a business from home.

Children learning taiko drumming from
a Theater Mu performer. 
This picture was taken during one of the
Create & Cultivate Art Camps
that I founded and directed right at the farm for many years.

One of the most important lessons, for me, is not to give up.  I’ve tried lots of different ways to be self-sufficient by running my own business or non-profit organization.  Some things were very successful (not neccessarily monetarily, but in terms of positive impact on others)…and others failed miserably on all levels. 

Campers petting one of the sheep at Harvest Moon.
The camp program drew children from a 50-mile radius;
and featured hands-on opportunities to learn
the connection between agriculture, the arts, and nature.

When faced with failure (or multiple, repeated failures as was the case many years ago when several things failed all within a few years of one another) life can get pretty discouraging.  I’ve had to step back at these times and objectively look at what was successful and what didn’t work, and come up with another idea, hoping that the new one would be the one that works well. 

What, to you is success? Have you achieved it yet, or are you on your way towards success?

To me, success isn’t related exclusively to money….it’s related to giving.  There are some core questions that are always in the back of my mind that guide how I view and work towards success:

– What are you doing to make a difference in the world? In your community? In your family?

– How are you making the lives of others who are having difficulty (or who have less than you do) easier?

– How are you enhancing the lives of the next generation? (These children are the ones who will be in charge when you are older…in business, government, and healthcare. Helping children now benefits everyone in the long-term.)

I know this is a very different view than some other people have regarding success.  Traditionally, success is equated with how much money you make and accumulate; how big a house you have; or how many “toys” you own.  Simply having lots of money and not using it to help others, to me, is not success.

My dream would be to have an even more profitable business – so that I could give more.  When I look at the opportunities to help…to make a difference…it would be nice to be able to have the financial resources to make gifts to others or travel to places to volunteer (beyond just donating items or time which my daughters and I do now on a weekly basis to various organizations). 

So what’s next?

I enjoy developing patterns, and would like to create more PDF patterns for natural, hand-embroidered children’s toys.

Felt Zebra on Green Wool
PDF pattern for a hand-embroidered zebra
available at Harvest Moon by Hand.
I also did a 52 Weeks of Baking challenge in which I tried new recipes each week for a year.  I modified the recipes so that they were dairy-free (so my oldest daughter could eat the food).  I typed each of the recipes along with modifications made, a photo of the recipe, and lessons learned during the week. 
My next step is to format the recipes into a book and print two copies – one for each of my daughters.  I’ve considered making some extra copies and trying to sell them since appetizing, dairy-free recipes for children aren’t always easy to find.
Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
Sourdough cinnamon rolls that I made during
the 52 Weeks of Baking challenge.
They were incredibly good…and dairy-free!

Many years ago, I wrote a multi-disciplinary curriculum for families who homeschool that was based on creative reuse (it was called “Waste Not” and “Second Impressions”).  My daughters at the time were not old enough to do many of the activities over the ten-month period that I piloted the curriculum and activities to a local homeschool co-op. 

Handmade Pillowcase
Handmade pillowcase made from
a used (and cleaned) bedsheet and extra fabric.

So, I would like to revisit the curriculum, do the activities with the girls, and re-format the curriculum with pictures of the activities that my daughters enjoyed the most.  The photos of the projects, tutorials, and information would be available in PDF format through my shop. 

Wool Felt Cat Toys
Felted sweaters that were cut and
made into cat toys.

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Sophia and Olivia watched a DVD about a remote village in Sierra Leone, Africa, that was greatly affected by the civil war there.

(The Sierra Leone Civil War began on 23 March 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), intervened in Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the Momoh government, sparking a gruesome 11-year civil war that enveloped the country and left over 50,000 dead.)

The people who are still there live in extreme poverty with no running water or bathrooms.  Many of the key buildings – like the school and community center – remain damaged.  Homes provide shelter from the sun, but are sparse and challenging in terms of comfort and security.

We became aware of this village because one of the people who grew up there married a family friend.  Instead of asking for wedding gifts, they asked for gifts to the village where the husband grew up and where they regularly send containers of clothing and other necessities. 

The girls went through their clothes after watching the video, and they selected some items that they thought would be most appropriate for the hot climate there. 

Grouping clothes by type (e.g., shirts, dresses, shorts).

They sent t-shirts, shorts, dresses, and some very light sweaters (just in case it got a bit chilly ever or someone wasn’t feeling well and they needed to stay a little warmer).

Items Donated:
Skirts – 4
Shirts – 16
Socks – 1 pair
Shorts – 2
Dresses – 3
Sweaters – 2

Folding the clothes and putting them in a box to ship.

For the clothes that they wanted to donate, but were too warm for the African climate, we set aside and then donated them to Goodwill.

Goodwill has 165 independent, community-based organizations in the United States and Canada that offer customized job training, employment placement, and other services to people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face employment challenges.

After watching the video, Sophia wanted to know if it was possible to go over and help.  Traveling overseas to volunteer would be more appropriate when the girls are older, and that would be something that would be wonderful to do.

There have been several times during the past few months that she has asked if she could travel somewhere and help. She first expressed interest in helping the Blackfeet people of Montana after reading about them in one of her books through the Sonlight curriculum this year that focused quite a bit on Native Americans.  We found an organization, Global Volunteers, that hosts volunteer trips to Montana to help the Blackfeet people; and would like to go there at some point.

So, after 21 weeks of doing the 52 Weeks of Giving project, the girls are actively seeking out and thinking of ways that they can help.

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This week Sophia and Olivia continued with their 52 Weeks of Giving project by volunteering at a a local clothing giveaway.  Throughout the year, Lakes Free Church accepts clothing for its Sharing Shop.  Clothes are sorted and available by season either by appointment or at community events held at the church.

For volunteering, the girls brought clothes to tables that were set up for different sizes (e.g., girls 0-12 months, boys 3-5T, mens L, womens M, household items). 

Olivia folding clothes.

At the tables, they folded the clothes and arranged them into different groups (e.g., shirts, shorts, pants, jeans, pajamas, socks).

Sophia folding clothes.

The girls were asked by the Sharing Shop’s coordinator to arrange all the shoes, boots, and slippers on the shelves.  They divided them into four groups: girls, womens, boys, and men.  By the time they were done, all the shelves were filled with footwear.

Sophia and Olivia placing shoes, boots, and slippers
on the racks.  The shelves were full by the time they were done.
One of the benefits of volunteering is that after everything is set up, everyone can take a grocery bag and choose items they need.  If you need more or are picking items for others, extra bags are only $1. 
The clothing giveaways are open to the public and there are always lines of people waiting to get in – especially on the first morning.  In addition to gently used clothes, families with small children are asked if they need new socks and/or underwear.  These are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
This is such a valuable and needed program for the community.  As prices for food and gasoline continue to rise, money that is available for clothing and other household items are often greatly reduced.  Clothing giveaways, such as the one offered by Lakes Free Church, are invaluable to individuals and families trying to make ends meet.  

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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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For this week’s 52 Weeks of Giving, the girls sang at church (at both services) as well as for seniors at Croixdale (assisted living, memory care, and apartments). 

The children’s choir carpooled, so I was able to stay at home and catch up with some things around the home which was nice.  So, I don’t have a picture of the girls singing at Croixdale.  However, this is where they sang:

They said they enjoyed singing for the seniors, and also liked seeing the resident parrot, Skipper.

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