Bargains, More Importantly Blessings at Fair Trade Christmas Sale

I helped with our fair trade/direct trade Christmas sale at church Saturday. We didn't have nearly the traffic we had last year, but weather was treacherous and cold. I'm hoping that's the reason. And not that people prefer junk stuff produced by slave labor in exploited countries. Sorry, I get ranty about fair trade. And I admit, it's not easy. That's why I felt so good about this sale.   Bargains and Blessings at Our Fair Trade Christmas Sale

Advent Calendar Service Project Craft

Many of us parents have found Christmas to be about receiving not giving with our children. It's not that kids are selfish, it's that marketing campaigns bombard them with products to want. Who can blame kids for wanting all that cool stuff? To say, 'you're selfish' to a child is to state an obvious, but not necessarily negative fact. Telling them not to desire is pointless.  It's part of how children learn to meet their own needs. We can give them opportunities to practice giving, sharing too though, especially at Advent. Here's an advent calendar craft with sharing opportunities.Advent Math, Writing Project Craft

Pack Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Now

I'm putting together my Operation Christmas Child shoebox for Samaritan's Purse. Since 1993, these gift boxes have been shipped around the world to kids in need. We've been participating for about that long. Here's how I'm saving $11 packing it in person. But packing a box online works great for homebound and elderly.Packing Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child Shoe box

I Don't Say Happy, but Blessed Veterans Day

(my poem for Veterans Day, 2013)

I feel wrong saying "Happy Veterans Day."
War isn't something to celebrate.
Killing and dying aren't festivities.
War just is.  Reflections of the Vietnam Wall, Blessed Veterans Day

Pet Owners, Animal Care Workers Beware of Jerky Treats

Jerky treats have been causing pets to get sick. Since 2007, 580 pet deaths have been linked to jerky-style pet treats. 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have gotten sick from eating the snacks. The US Food and Drug Administration has been testing to see what's causing the illnesses and deaths. They've run 1,200 tests and still no conclusions. Pet owners, if you love your kitty or doggie, don't give jerky snacks. Jerky Treats Sicken and Kill Pets FDA Looks at Why

Free Printable Thanksgiving Cut and Paste Activities

Want cut and paste Thanksgiving crafts for kids? Or free printable holiday crafts for classroom, homeschool, day care, scouts or church groups? Print turkey, pilgrims, harvest, pumpkins for Thanksgiving cut and paste crafts. Keep busy hands and minds active making decorations, coloring pages, place cards, Thanksgiving greeting cards and thank-you notes.

Here are websites that allow you to print free with the click of your mouse. Nothing to download, no registration or user ID. You can request to be put on free email mailing lists; keep up to date with all the wonderful crafts and cut and paste activities available. You might even have some activities to contribute.Free Printable Thanksgiving Cut and Paste Activities 

I Thought America Was a Melting Pot--What's this About Illegals?

I'm hearing this term "illegals" a lot from my fellow Americans. It's meant to reference those who have entered the US illegally. But I don't get it. How can you call a person "illegal?" Does their very existence violate some human code?

And in America, the "great melting pot" that makes no sense. But then Americans tend toward reactionary extremism. We think patriotism means waving a flag or saying the Pledge of Allegiance. We proclaim to support our troops yet stand by while they have to fight for benefits. We know less about US history than immigrants. Our national holidays are just beer drinking blasts. We're fellow Americans only as it suits our purpose. We're ethnocentric while bashing each other's background (see this post I wrote).  Who Are These Illegals You Speak of? I Thought America Was a Melting Pot

Teach Kids Social Skills, Encourage them To Form a Club

Sharing this great idea that my daughter came up with. She writes for Bubblews and this is her idea for a club she'd like to start. She explains "I want to start a club. My friend started one and its time I start my own. At school, one of my teacher has shown interest in starting a club with me. We had considered forming a Star Wars club because we are both massive Star Wars fans. However, there wouldn't be a lot to do in the club so I have created a new idea for a club. A conspiracy theorist club."

Okay first that's just a really cool idea. Second, joining clubs are a great way for kids to connect and get involved. Third, starting a club helps kids learn organization, social skills,  motivational and public speaking and self-advocacy. Fourth, a conspiracy theories club--educational, creative and fun! Does my heart proud to call her "daughter." Conspiracy Theorist Club

Time to Think Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child

Back to School sales are a great time to stock up on stocking stuffers for Christmas. They're great sources for cheap gifts for holiday toy donations. Looking for a good children's charity try Operation Christmas Child from Samaritans Purse. This group collects shoeboxes of Christmas presents for needy kids. To participate, fill shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, articles of clothing, personal care products, candy, books. The website lists suggestions and what to avoid (breakables, liquids, war toys). Print a shipping label from website and indicate age and gender the box is for. Include $7 donation for shipping (a pretty fair deal considering weight and goods shipped). Boxes are due Nov. 18-25 and drop-off locations listed on the website.  Best Childrens Charities for Holiday Toy Drives Operation Christmas Child

Balance is Healthier Parenting Than Health Obsession

We want to give our kids the best, right? And the closer to nature, the healthier and better, right? Drugs, chemicals, cleaning products, household items, cosmetics, disposable items, kids products--we try to use natural ingredients as much as possible. Note I said "as possible." It's virtually impossible to avoid all. And my naturalista friends are going to gasp, but I say balance is healthier parenting that rigid obsession with health.  Balance is Healthier Parenting Than Health Obsession

Diet Tip of the Day: Purge, Donate Fat Clothes

I've lost 80 pounds. I'm not trying to brag, but to share healthy, safe weight loss tips that work for me. So today's weight loss tip: purge the fat clothes. Get them out of your closet. I just did that for the second time. I'd done it a few months ago but missed weeding out the summer garments.

As you take them out, try the clothes on. Look at how they DON'T fit anymore. Notice how they sag. It's incredibly therapeutic to see how big your clothes have gotten, or should I say how tiny you have gotten. Take photos of you wearing outfits. I like to compare how I looked when I was fat and how the same outfit looks now. Diet Tip of the Day: Purge, Donate Fat Clothes

Soda Ban for Food Stamps Recipients--Violations of Rights or Common Sense?

Food stamps will no longer be used for soda pop or sugary beverages, if 18 big-city mayors get their way. Leaders including NYC's Michael Bloomberg who has long-opposed soda, are pushing for limits. Ostensibly, they're doing it to curb the nation's obesity problem. I've got mixed feelings on this. Of course bevvie makers are objecting. But that's profit-motivated, more than anything. My humanitarian self says you can't legislate morality (or lifestyle, dietary choice). It's also a little shame-based and patronizing. But the big picture is, we taxpayers are funding unhealthy habits. We have a right to object to misuse of our money. We have a say in how it's spent. Soda Ban for Food Stamps Recipients--Violations of Rights or Common Sense?

Neighborhood Clean-Up Community Events in Detroit

 There are two ways to respond to any problem: Complain and do nothing, or pitch in and try to improve it. In Detroit, we hear plenty of the former. But there's lots of the latter happening, too. Case in point are neighborhood clean-ups. Stories of communities working together to create better living spaces abound. You just have to know where to look. Neighborhood Clean-Up Community Events in Detroit

Detroit Mower Gang Reclaiming Abandoned City Parks

A community group, the Detroit Mower Gang, is taking their urban renewal campaign to Detroit's parks. The group's Motown Mowdown event this Saturday, May 25, will be a 24-hour marathon of freshening up closed and disused city parks. It's the quintessential "grassroots" effort, as the Detroit Free Press aptly called it.Detroit Mower Gang Reclaiming Abandoned City Parks

Thinking Outside the Box to Help Detroit's Homeless

Homelessness and poverty are glaring problems in Detroit. Homeless Action Network Detroit (HAND) says that in 2011, 19,213 people had no place to call home. One forward-thinking student developed a novel way to warm those forced to sleep on the street. She's not the only one thinking outside the box to help Detroiters in need.  Thinking Outside the Box to Help Detroit's Homeless

Living Al-Anon Slogans: Take Care of Yourself, Do What's Best for You

Anxiety and I go back a long way. Fear has been a constant companion, if not a friend. Panic attacks have ruled me and fight-or-flight characterized my behavior. What terrifies me most is possibly displeasing others. I get physically ill if I think I've offended someone or not done enough for them. Consequently, "enabler" and "codependent" were my middle names. When I heard Biblical injunctions to give and serve, I thought it meant always and only me. I thought I had to give away myself. Thanks to 12-step recovery groups like Al-Anon, I use past tense. I am learning to take care of myself so negative feelings don't control me. Here's how.   Living Al-Anon Slogans: Take Care of Yourself, Do What's Best for You 

Inexpensive Mother's Day Gifts Under $10

Mother's Day, the second Sunday of May, often finds loved ones long on love, but short on cash. How can you honor your mother and show her that you care when the pennies already being pinched? Here are dozens of great gift ideas for mom under $10. Moms usually say that it's the thought that counts and you will show mom that you really did choose a thoughtful gift, both by it's quality and frugality. Mothers young and old will enjoy these gifts:  Cheap Mother's Day Gifts Under $10

Give Back to Mother Nature with Easy, Green Earth Day Gardens

Do you love to garden but find yourself cursed with poor yard soil? Or maybe you're one of those unfortunate apartment dwelling green thumbs. Either way, it seems impossible to reconcile a love of gardening with a lack of basic garden essentials. With spring planting, Earth Day and the lure of summer bounty right around the corner, would-be gardeners long to tend plants even more. If you find yourself in this situation, do not abandon hope of gardening. You can have a flourishing garden right on your patio, deck or porch.  Easy, Green Earth Day Gardens

Rapid Rehousing, Homelessness Prevention Programs in Detroit

Many Detroiters struggle with homelessness. Just how big is the problem? Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries says 18,000 people won't have a place to sleep tonight. There are several large shelters but not enough to house that many. And as worthy as emergency shelters are, they're only temporary. Preventing homelessness is the key and that's what "rapid rehousing" is all about. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed American Recovery and Reinvestment which funded the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) administered by the U.S.Department of Housing and Urban Development Homeless Resource Exchange (HUD-HRE). With the ending of that program last December, the need will be greater. Several organizations in Detroit continue that program model: to get people into permanent homes as quickly as possible.Rapid Rehousing, Homelessness Prevention Programs in Detroit

Lenten and Easter Almsgiving Activity

As Catholic homeschoolers education focused around the liturgical year in our family. Holy Week is the pinnacle of the church year. We practice lenten virtues of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, in solidarity with our Lord and in preparation for our Easter celebration. In our homeschool career, we explored many avenues of sacrifice and service. One simple activity became very meaningful. We are fortunate to live near several mission-type sites which provide immediate care and help to those in need. Our church twins with a parish in Haiti. Many Staples outlets gather school supplies. Using these resources we made lenten care kits.Lenten and Easter Activity 

Adult Homeless Shelters, Rescue Missions, Warming Centers in Detroit

According to Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, over 18,000 people are homeless in Detroit. 30 percent of that number are chronically homeless. Most face other issues: abuse, physical disability, mental challenges, addiction, poverty, joblessness and illness. Fortunately, there are agencies to help. Here are rescue missions, homeless shelters and transitional housing programs for adults. Most all provide or connect clients with food, shower and laundry facilities, education, medical needs, counseling, employment and substance abuse treatment.  Adult Homeless Shelters, Rescue Missions, Warming Centers in Detroit

Teaching Children About Lent and Fasting


In the Catholic church, Ash Wednesday kicks off the penitential season of Lent. During Lent, we fast, pray and give alms to the needy, to prepare our hearts for Easter Sunday. Whether you're Catholic or not, there's a lot to be learned from these disciplines, especially for children. Here are tips to teach children about Lenten fasting. This Q-and-A guide will also help non-Catholic children understand what their Catholic classmates are doing and why.  Teaching Children About Lent and Fasting

Attachment Parenting: Bonding with Your Preschool Toddler

 The "attachment parenting" catch phrase has infiltrated common parlance. Speaking as a 25-year attachment parent, I think the term is often misunderstood. I knew a gal who had no kids say she was an attachment parent because she babysat her brother's children occasionally. It isn't part-time; it's a lifelong, all-invasive commitment. Here's how we did it when kids were toddlers and preschool age. I forgot to add this tip--don't stop nursing your toddler just to cave to social pressure. If baby is ready to wean, okay. If not, let her enjoy this bonding time. My kids nursed till they were 2-5 and very healthy physically and emotionally. Attachment Parenting: Bonding with Your Preschool Toddler

Catholic Relief Services Lenten Rice Bowl Activities

Catholic Relief Services is the single largest non-governmental relief agency in the world. Each year at Lent CRS initiates what is called 'Operation Rice Bowl'. Operation Rice Bowl is a program which focuses our attention on the cardinal aims of the Lenten season: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The Rice Bowl project consists of a cardboard box which when assembled, looks very much like the take out boxes that rice comes in. The Rice Bowl is a box which families set up in their homes during Lent to collect loose change and offerings for the poor and hungry of the world. Operation Rice bowl also includes a Lenten prayer calendar with devotional activities, feast days and stations of the cross. Each calendar day has a prayer focus. Specific information about world poverty statistics and needs from around the world are listed also.  Lenten Rice Bowl Devotional and Lesson Planner

Free Printable Valentines for Kids

Kids love to exchange valentines on Valentine's Day. Valentines are going up in price just like everything else. How about a green, creative, money saving option? Free printable valentines for school exchanges? Here are many to choose from.  Free Valentines

Shopping, Money Saving Tips for Welfare Recipients

"Octomom" Nadya Suleman, the single mom of 14 (including octuplets) is back on welfare again, says TMZ. Suleman is an extreme example of negative welfare stereotype. But her unhealthy financial choices highlight key issues that we can all learn from. Here are money tips for parents on welfare, culled from five months when we received food stamps and Medicaid.   Money Tips for Welfare Recipient Parents

Minimalist Lifestyle is Healthy for Kids, Parents

My out-of-the house son and I were recently discussing the minimalist lifestyle. We noticed how many people claim to be minimalists but in fact aren't. Case in point: money. It's easy to talk about living simply, but much harder to do it. And now that our son is paying his own way, he realizes why dad and I were so frugal when he was growing up. He sees first-hand how expensive things are and how easy it is get deep in debt. Avoiding debt is one reason parents should live simply. Here are others.  Living minimally is good for families

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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