Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Comfort Items to Give to Cancer Patients

Comfort Items to Give to Cancer Patients

Depending on the chemotherapy treatment, some patients are admitted to the hospital for the treatment and others go to a clinic for several hours at a time, multiple times.  One of the side effects of the treatment is extreme cold and discomfort.

In gathering ideas from REAL moms of kids going through chemotherapy, we heard that the following items were the most helpful to provide warmth and comfort.  If you experienced something differently or have other suggestions, please comment below or email me at penniesoftime @ gmail.com

Note:  If you are considering donating comfort items to a hospital or oncology unit, instead of a loved one going through chemotherapy, I suggest that you contact them first to see what their guidelines are for donated items, particularly ones that are handmade.

List of Comfort Items:
Soft blankets
Soft socks or slippers
Cheerful pillowcases
Comfy hats or caps

Making Handmade Comfort Items

If you are crafty or are wanting to learn a skill for a good cause, there are great directions out there on how to make comfort items by hand.

Fleece Hat
FleeceFun.com has a free patten:  basic hat with ribbon. Note:  The large size seems more like a medium.

Knitted Cap
Chemocaps, Knitting with a Purpose
Other patterns from Head Huggers

Hot Dog Approach for Sewing a Pillow Case from Conkerr Cancer
Sewing Instructions and More from Conkerr Cancer

Layers of Love provides resources for those wanting to make fleece blankets
Instructions from Get Cozy During Chemo


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Acts of Kindness and Simple Service Projects for Spring Break!

Wondering how you'll entertain both your school age kids
and younger kids all together during Spring Break? 

Afraid that 4 hours into the break you'll hear:  
"Mom, I'M BORED!"

Not willing to spend 50 bucks every morning and afternoon trying to entertain the crew?

Then, get them together in helping others!

Whaaaaaa?  Totally, do it.  Do it!

Let's ask our kids to help others instead of running ourselves into a frenzy trying to entertain them.

We've made it easy for you.  This post has popular ideas on acts of kindness and easy service projects for kids gathered from many writers that have a passion for getting their kids to help others.  Grab this list of acts of kindness and service projects and have fun helping someone with your kids.

By the way, these are REAL ideas that kids can do. Not just some running list out of someone's brain.  All of these ideas have been done by kids, real kids.  I've linked the ideas to posts to show you how those real kids have done it.

If you have kids that are older, put them in charge of planning the acts of kindness. 

(If the weather is warm where you are for Spring Break, check out these fun summer service ideas!)


The "Little Things" Challenge
Challenge your family to do the "Little Things" to be kind to others.
  • Hold the door open for others.
  • Let someone else go first.
  • Say hello and thank you to people you interact with that help you.
  • Don't talk on your cell phone while you are out and about.  Be present and teach your children to observe what is going on around and see chances to help others.
  • Smile at others.

It is Spring Time--so how about some spring cleaning INside and OUTside!

Crafts for a Cause Projects

Help Hospitals

In Your Neighborhood

Donate with Meaning

Keep Up the Reading!
Reading books on kindness and service will do three things:
  1. Show your children examples of kids helping others
  2. Provide the perfect springboard to discuss kindness and service
  3. Keep up those developing reading skills (ALL teachers want kids reading over Spring Break--I can hear them cheering!)

Here are the books that we love that talk about kindness, service, and compassion.  All of books on the list linked above are ones that we read over and over, ones that the boys pull off the shelf and read in bed.


For more books on kindness and service:
She Lives Free:  Inspiring Kids to Pay it Forward

"GIVE ME MORE LISTS" you say? You bet!
14 Days of Loving Kindness from The Good Long Road 
5 Easy Acts of Kindness You Can Do WITH Your Kids

So, what acts of kindness or service projects are you doing with your kids during Spring Break?



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Acts of Kindness at the Airport

Acts of Kindness No Matter Where You Fly!

I think that airports are stressful places.  People invest time and money into going somewhere . . .  sometimes for a fun reason, sometimes not.  And, as life happens, problems arise.  Between delays, missing meals, being stuck by someone that is ANNOYING . . . seriously, airports need more kindness!

Our family has a great time finding ways to be kind to others at the airport.  And, being kind to others is a WELCOME diversion for our boys when there is lag time or during a layover.  People need some kindness while traveling, and when your kids are focused on helping others, they are happier . . .which means that you are happier!  Sweet!

Here are acts of kindness you can do at the airport with your kids. 

Nice notes to the members of the armed forces:  Prep a few thank you notes to hand to soldiers you see in uniform at the airport. This works really well for my boys as they are too shy to verbally say thank you, but they are happy to hand over a note with a big smile!  I really like this one as it is needed, and it affects everyone around you.  When you acknowledge the sacrifice and work given by members of the armed forces, those around you, witnessing the kindness, get a lift, too.

When my son was an infant, we gave out earplugs to all the people seated around us on the plane.  I heard of one lady handing out candy along with the earplugs.  Kind of a funny way to be kind and acknowledge that we are all in this together with our kids.

While traveling on business, my husband always keeps videos of kids laughing loaded on his laptop in case a kid next to him needs a distraction Videos of kids laughing ALWAYS seem to make other kids laugh, too.   More than one parent has thanked him for his kindness in distracting a fussy kid.  (Animal babies are also a hit.  For the older kid, try videos of trick shots.  We love Dude Perfect.)

Involve your children in paying for someone behind you in line to get a snack or lunch during a layover.  It will SURPRISE the fellow flier!  (Want to really surprise someone?  Pay for the baggage fee for a fellow flier in line.  Involve your kids on the fun!)

Put stickers in your carry-on and give your kids free reign to hand them out to any person they think should get some extra sticker love!

Pack extra activities or snacks just in case another family around you needs some additional diversion for their kids (talk about an act of kindness for the whole plane!). 

On a recent trip, the boys donned funny glasses during a very LONG layover.  And, everyone that they passed gave them a smile or HI FIVE!
Putting a superhero cape on gives "kid antics" a bit of a fun flavor, which makes even the crazy things kids do look pretty awesome.  This was a great way to make my Perpetual Motion kid's movements more comical and less annoying. Fellow fliers laughed at my boys as they became super-superhero versions of themselves and visited with those around them.  Lots of laughing and smiles!

Bring along thank you notes to hand to your pilots and flight attendants.  Those airline employees, frankly, put up with so much not nice behavior.  Take time to thank them, hand them a note, give them a sticker, or whatever kind gesture your child wants to do.  It will be meaningful to them.

What do you do with your kids to be kind while traveling?



Friday, February 14, 2014

Giving the Gift of Time to the Chronically Ill


I have a close friend who has three children that have rare diseases. In the center of my heart, I wish that I could cure her kids, do SOMETHING that would result in a cure and take away that heartache and hardship that she and her family endure. It takes time and research to find cures. I personally won’t be finding a cure for her kids. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that I can’t help her now. Right now, I can show my love and concern for her and her family in ways that are helpful by sharing my time.

The most meaningful experiences that we can have are when we take the time to reach out and care for others. When I gather my courage and reach out to help someone, particularly when involving my kids in the process, we make friends, help those in need, love those in crisis, and forget about our own worries.

At Tri For Better, I share 5 ways we can give of our time to help those in our lives that are always managing their health, their illness.  All but one of the ways I share you can do WITH your kids.  The exception:  Donating plasma.  But, you can bet that I will share pictures, the process, and what the experience was like for me when I go donate plasma for the first time next week.

Go check out what we have shared on Tri For Better!



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ways to Help the Chronically Ill with Your Kids

We have several friends that have major medical concerns.  When I first started getting to know each of them, I didn't understand how much time and effort they devoted to their health.  As I got to know them and understand what their lives are like, I realized that each friend was chronically ill.  (A couple of them even describe themselves this way.)

Being chronically ill basically means that you have long term health concerns that drive almost every decision you make on a daily basis.  There are other more specific definitions that relate to being unable to do daily living activities, but, to me, when someone is chronically ill it means:
  • That person is sick and may or may not know what is wrong.
  • That person might say 'no' to doing things because of how she feels that day or to limit interaction with others for fear of getting even more sick, like from a cold.
  • That person may look "healthy" despite her body's medical needs.
  • That person may take several medications to keep the body going to complete daily tasks.
  • That person has to make the simplest of decisions on how it will affect her health.
  • That person may be too sick to hold down a typical 9 to 5 job.
 I have found with several of my friends that are chronically ill:  They don't want to ask for help.  They either don't want to be a burden or they don't want to be different from the rest of us.

But, they need help.  

Don't dismiss what you can do because you may not understand the medical problems.  

Don't dismiss the idea that you can help if they just don't know what to say when you ask to help.  

And, DON'T dismiss the idea that your kids can help, either.  Kids can help.  My boys have been with me almost every time we have reached out to help our friends.

As a family, we do several things to help.  Some of these are spontaneous, others are very deliberate.  With my boys, we have one friend in particular that we help on a regular basis (shhhhhh-she doesn't know we are that deliberate with our efforts).  Sarah is a single woman who is chronically ill.

Recently, Sarah had some very difficult health problems that made managing her life and caring for herself even more difficult.  We recognized that she needed help, and so we reached out to her.  Here are ways that we helped her that you can think about when helping the friends and loved ones in your life that are chronically ill.

Ways Our Family Can Help the Chronically Ill

1.  We always ask, "How can we help?"  And, then follow up the question with some suggestions.  It helps Sarah understand what we are capable of and gives her an idea of the help that she can accept.  Often times, being chronically ill is overwhelming.  You have so many things that need to be done and prioritizing to just even ask for help is hard.

2.  We see what needs to be done and find ways to do it.  There are many things kids can do:  Bring in the trashcans, bring the newspaper to the door, offer to walk Sarah's dog . . . We do the yard work when we can see that it needs to be done. We know Sarah cannot afford to pay someone to do her yard work.  Whenever we see that the yard work needs to be done, we do it.  The picture collage above of us pulling weeds is one example.  And, typically, we do the yard work anonymously.

YES!  Those boys pulling those weeds are 6 and 4 years old.  The key to doing yard work with kids:  have a buddy and do it in small amounts of time.  15 minutes pulling the weeds does have an effect, especially if you do it a couple of times in a week.

3.  "Extra Chicken Tortilla Soup" Phone Calls.  I have scheduled on my calender once a month that we will bring Sarah dinner.  She doesn't know that.  (We have had Sarah over for family meals with us multiple times and understand what her dietary restrictions are.)  Once a month we give her a "spontaneous" call and say:  Hey!  I made some extra chicken tortilla soup.  I want to drop some by at 5.  Is that okay?

She always says yes.  The boys and I work together to make the meal and then put in fun extras that they think that she will like.  "Oh, Mom, can I draw a picture of her dog to give her?"  or "She needs a magic wand.  She told me she liked my magic wand last time."

4.  Plan "spontaneous" acts of kindness for your friend.  Once a month, the boys and I get together and put together something fun for her.  Sometimes it is homemade card.  Sometimes we make tissue paper flowers.  Nothing grand.  Just something to let her know that we care about her.

5.  And, we are always okay if she says NO to an offer of help.  There have been a couple of times in the past year where Sarah needed to say no to an offer of help or a gesture of kindness.  That is okay.  The purpose of reaching out is to help Sarah, to make sure she doesn't feel alone, and to uplift her.

Although it is important that the boys are learning to help others as we help Sarah, they are also gaining so much from it.  Sarah is funny and warm with them.  They love lapping up the attention she gives with her jokes and her hugs (just so you know, not all our friends that are chronically ill like to hug--that's okay).  My boys also learn just how great it is to be healthy and that they should always be grateful for that.

Did someone come to mind while reading this?  Do you have a friend or a loved one that is chronically ill?  How do you help them?

You might also like reading about how the boys took a magic show to a friend in the hospital (this friend also lives with a chronic illness).


Free and simple ways to share your time to helped a loved one struggling with chronic illness:


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Helping a Friend Who Is Chronically Ill with a Magic Show

Not long after our service birthday party where we wowed residents in the nursing home with amazing magic tricks, I heard from the mom of a young friend that her son was going into the hospital.  This young guy is 7 years old and battles cystic fibrosis.  CF is a chronic illness takes a mountain of courage for kids and families to manage.

For what it is like to live with cystic fibrosis, read the words of a mom who has two boys that live with CF.

I know how hard it is to have kids in the hospital--you are running to take care of the child in the hospital and making sure that life continues as best as it can for the rest of the family outside of the hospital; there is so much to do and manage.  I asked her how we could help and suggested that if her son needed some entertainment, we would love to bring him a magic show!

She said:  YES!

After a quick call and a text to make sure that our friend was clear for visitors and to ensure we would not be coming at a time that would disrupt his treatments, we set a time and practiced our tricks for our visit.

On the day of our visit, we checked out of school a few minutes early to make sure we arrived at the hospital on time.  I am so glad that we did.  FIVE minutes after I picked the boys up from school, we heard a tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump . . . yes, a popped a tire.  Thankfully, we were on a side road in the neighborhood.  I was able to get to the nearest tire fix-it place, and the Pennies of Time Dad came to the rescue with a car that had all four wheels ready to do.  This flat tire only took 30 minutes out of our time, and we made it to the hospital just in time.

It is always a good idea to go over behavior expectations and what your kids might see while in a hospital.  Just before we went in, we talked about why were were there, what we might see, how we needed to behave to make sure all that interacted with us were lifted (instead of depressed by seeing angry, fighting boys), and to keep our eyes open for others to help.

To protect patients and visitors, one of the questions that the hospital's reception desk asks goes along these lines:  Have you coughed or sneezed or had a fever in the past 72 hours?  They are making sure that no one is put at greater risk with your visit.

Our Magic Show was so fun!

When we arrived in our friend's hospital room, the boys were a bit shy.  It only took a few minutes to warm up before ALL the kids were acting just as they should, funny and silly.  We found out that our young friend knew quite a few magic tricks himself, already.  We taught him some new ones and left behind a trick box, a magician's hat, a wand, and a bunch of stuff his teacher wanted to send to him in the hospital.  

In the past, we have been to visit friends at the hospital.  And, even though those times were positive, having the task of performing a magic show really gave the boys purpose in being there.  I was excited to see that, and we all had a great time with the tricks!

We also found that by walking through the hospital to and from our friend's room, we came across others that needed to talk .  .  . needed to engage in silly, fun behavior that didn't remind them of why they were there.  Our boys almost had a traveling magic show going on as they tried out tricks on occupants in the elevator and one young man that was waiting for a taxi near the hospital parking lot.

Tips for Helping Someone in the Hospital 
(particularly if struggling with chronic illness)
  • Be mindful of the fact that visitors may not be appropriate or wanted.  That is okay.  
  • Offer to pick up homework if the friend is school-age or to take care of picking up the mail and taking care of any pets that the family has.
  • Sometimes, a phone call is the best medicine.  Your friend may be too sick for visitors and may be even too sick to talk on the phone, but it can be uplifting to hear a funny voice message from a you (maybe tell a joke or sing a silly song--we have a couple we like to use).
  • Don't go visit your friend if you are sick.
  • Mail a care package if visitors are not allowed or wanted.  Extended hospital stays are stressful, and new things do to and watch are a welcome relief.
  • Be mindful of the rest of the family.  When you ask if they need help, be ready with suggestions on what you can do. Offer to bring over a meal, to do some yard work, or pick up siblings from school.
You may also be interested in hearing how our family helps Sarah, a family friend that lives with chronic illness.


Free and simple ways to share your time to helped a loved one struggling with chronic illness: 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Service Projects for Kids on MLK Day

This post is part of the MLK Day of Service Blog Hop sponsored by Multicultural Kid Blogs.  See the end of this post for more details and to link up your own post about MLK Day and/or doing volunteer work with kids.

We are so excited to be off from school on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! It is the MLK Day of Service.  And, we thought we would share with you what we are going to do.  Each of these projects does not take long to do and can be done as we go about our usual activities for the day.

4 Service Projects for the MLK Day of Service

Service Idea #1:  We handed out our last hygiene while we were traveling for the holidays.  We will be making 2 Homeless Care Kits in a Sock. 


Service Idea #2:  We have invited over an elderly friend for dinner.  The boys have picked out the menu and are excited to make dinner.  "We get to use a KNIFE to make dinner!" is what I heard from them when planning it out.  (Hoping they don't get too enthusiastic about that.)  UPDATE:  We just found out that it is her birthday and we are breaking out the streamers to give her a surprise dinner!

Service Idea #3:  We are also going to take flowers to a senior we met during one of our visits to the nursing home recently.  For more ideas on How to Help the Elderly.

Service Idea #4:  One of the last things we will do is try and do a quick clean up by the creek that we usually clean on a weekly basis.  It has been too cold to be in the creek for the past couple of months.  It is time for us to make the effort and check in with how trashy it has become in our absence.

I encourage you to reach out with your children to help someone today.  It can be as simple as making it their mission to:
  • Hold doors open for others
  • Smile at others
  • Let others play first
  • And, Little Brother's favorite:  Hand out stickers to other kids at the grocery store.
I am excited to be joining several other writers to share stories and ideas of serving others and doing volunteer work with our kids.  Each of these blogs are part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs group and we are challenging our readers (and ourselves!) to take the time to do service with our children. 

Today, some of our wonderful bloggers are sharing ideas about the kinds of volunteer work they have done with their kids. Share your own ideas in the comments or by linking up below! You can also join the discussion in our Google + Community! For some ideas on doing volunteer work with kids, browse our list of family-friendly service projects or great organizations to support. You can also follow our Teaching Global Citizenship and Black History boards on Pinterest.

Participating Blogs

Share your own posts below!
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