Advent good deed calendar craft, countdown to Christmas with charitable acts - Grand Rapids Holidays |

So often we hear how selfish kids are at Christmas. That's not really fair. Marketing bombards them with images of stuff they "must have." KSL shared stories of holiday generosity on Dec. 15. Many kids would love to share like that. They just lack direction. Catholic Advent teaches generosity and giving in preparation for Christmas, says Catholic Online. How about helping kids count down to Christmas with a giving, not getting, Advent calendar? This lesson teaches math, writing, social studies and current events, too.Advent good deed calendar craft, countdown to Christmas with charitable acts


Skip ugly sweaters this Christmas and give one warm coat

 The "ugly sweater" shtick has become a popular, if kitschy, holiday tradition. What's an ugly sweater? It's a Christmas sweater with bright cheery holiday patterns. There are ugly sweater parties in which guest try to outdo each other wearing the most decorative, and ostensibly the ugliest, sweater. One woman makes her living designing ugly sweaters, reported the Daily News December 1. Menards sold ugly sweaters on their Black Friday sale. Skip ugly sweaters this Christmas and give one warm coat - Grand Rapids Holidays |

West Michigan gets blustery Halloween, October 31 trick-or-treat times

West Michigan Halloween trick-or-treaters will be in for blustery weather, this October 31, 2014. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns of winds of 20-30 miles an hour, with gust up to 45 mph and 50-mph winds along Lake Michigan. Snow is likely. Kids and parents should take care trick-or-treating, especially in communities along the lakeshore. Here's the run down of October 31 trick-or-treat events and times in the greater Grand Rapids area from WOTV.  West Michigan gets blustery Halloween, October 31 trick-or-treat times - Grand Rapids Holidays |

Free Printable Photo Frame Crafts, Picture Frames Kids Can Make

The holiday season is fast-approaching, with Halloween, Thanksgiving and then Christmas. Or maybe you celebrate another winter holiday--Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Epiphany? One thing these have in common is that they usually involve gift-giving. Parents, looking for gifts children can make for holiday giving? How about homemade photo frames for school pictures? Here are links for free printable photo frame crafts.Free Printable Photo Frame Crafts, Picture Frames Kids Can Make


Dieting, Losing Weight, Eating Less Helps Others, Too

I've lost 100 pounds that I put on in a long-term bout of depression. That's me right at my heaviest in 2010 and right is summer, 2014.  I'm writing a series of +How-I-lost-weight tips. I used an assortment of methods to get the weight off, the biggest being just plain eating less. And I realized that by dieting, counting calories, eating less, I'm not only doing myself a favor, I'm helping others. I have more money to share now that I'm buying less food. Here's a tip on how to eat less.Diet Tip Wait 10 Minutes Before Eating More

Free Printable Baptism Greeting Cards and Christening Greeting Cards

Many faiths celebrate the sacrament of baptism, be it infant or adult. Infant baptism is also called christening in some denominations. Baptism and christenings are usually followed by a celebration. To keep party planning costs down, use free printable invitations. To keep gift giving costs down, use free printable baptism and confirmation cards.

  Hoover Web Design (click here) has ten free printable baptism invitations that can be customized and used as baptism cards also. You can also choose from four free printable infant christening cards and invitations.

  HP (click here) free printable greeting cards, invitations plus announcements for baby shower or birth of baby. Use for baptism and confirmation cards and invitations by changed text. Hewlett-Packard also has free printable crafts and gifts that can be personalized with pictures. Scroll through.

  Free-Printable-Party-Invitations-Online (click here) has several basic baby themed free printable invitations and cards, suitable for baptism and christening.

  Blue Mountain (click here) has free baptism and new baby congratulations e-cards.

  For more free printable greeting cards, visit my blog at For more party planning tips, including free printable activities, visit me at For more Catholic and religious activities, visit me at

Free Printable Vacation Bible School Crafts Activities

Summer brings lots of great family traditions--4th of July, picnics, parades, beach fun. One very popular summer activity is VBS, or Vacation Bible School. Almost every church sponsers a week-long Vacation Bible School. And don't let the term 'school' intimidate you. At VBS, children learn about Christian Biblical teachings in fun-filled interactive ways. Students learn about Jesus, faith, Go, making crafts, singing, playing games. Are you a VBS teacher? You'll want these Free Printable Vacation Bible School Activities

Free Father's Day Gifts of Time and Talent-- Do for Dad

 Looking for free Father's Day gifts dad (grampa, uncle, husband, boyfriend)? Think do-for, not buy-for. Most dads I know have more projects than time to do them. Everyone who lives at home should participate in household tasks. But some just naturally falls to dad. Or, if he's an over-achiever, git-er-done guy, like my husband, he takes it all upon himself. Here are gifts of time and for Father's Day. Free Father's Day Gifts -- Do for Dad, Don't Buy For Him

Cheap, Homemade, Father's Day Gift Crafts Any-Age Kid Can Make

 We homeschooled four kids in a mobile home living on one income. I'm a DIY, frugalista, recycle mama. I'm also a special needs Montessori teacher. My mantra is "hands-on, child-centered." With that in mind, here are cheap, homemade, kid-friendly Father's Day crafts the whole family can help make. Cheap, Homemade, Father's Day Gift Crafts Any-Age Kid Can Make 

Free Summer Enrichment Activities for Kids from A-Z

School is out and students are rejoicing! But parents are often concerned about a long summer with no study. The problem is compounded If you have a child who is lagging academically. Summer school is an option, but most children balk about school work in the summer. Tutoring centers are costly and many parents lack the time to tutor children at home. How can you ensure that your child's academic progress is not thwarted by three months away from school? Don't despair; here are 26 summer educational enrichment tips from A-Z.  A-Z Ways to Continue Your Child's Education Through the Summer Months

Easy, Cheap Graduation Open House Recipes for Budget Parties

Oh, oh! You put off planning that graduation open house until the last minute. Or maybe you've been thinking about it for months and can't decide what to serve? Maybe you just need some quick, easy recipes for your graduation open house buffet. Here are 25+ easy recipes to for a festive (cheap) open house spred. These can be used for wedding receptions, bridal showers, baby showers, first Communion receptions and other celebrations. 20+ Graduation Open House Food Recipes

On Mother's Day, It's Gifts That Count

Mother's Day looms (hint, second Sunday in May, May 11 for 2014--don't forget) and last-minute Lisas and Larrys will be grabbing flowers and candy. I know, your mom always says "Don't worry about presents, Honey. It's the thought that counts." Well, as a mother, I say, nope. It's the gift that counts. Now don't award me "Most Selfish Mom" till you've read me out. Click here to do that. For Mother's Day, It's the Gift That Counts

Non-Profit Wish Lists for Year-Round Giving

Winter is particularly hard on the homeless and those in need. And 2014 was a terrible winter in Michigan. In Detroit, cold temperatures send many to shelters and missions. Agency resources get depleted more quickly during the holidays. Here are wish lists of needed items at Metro Detroit nonprofit organizations. In spring, many missions find themselves short of resources. Here's a list of shelter needs, to keep giving going year-round. Holiday Wish Lists for Detroit Nonprofits

Earth Day Means Caring for the People of the Earth, too

Today is Earth Day. Along with caring for earth's natural resources, we need to care for the people of the earth. We Catholic and Orthodox Christians just completed Lent. During this time, we give things up and sacrifice pleasures in imitation of Jesus's sufferings. Just because we're in the Easter feasting mode, doesn't mean we should forget Lenten virtues.

The Bible enjoins us to sacrificial giving year-round. Sacrificial giving isn't just giving of our excess. It's giving till it hurts to help someone else. Like Lenten fasting--it's giving up FOR someone else. We should feel the burn. That's how we know it's genuine. This is just a little example.

I gave up buying coffee shop coffee. Actually, I've cut down on all coffee. I love it, but the caffeine makes me jittery. Then I'm not very nice. Also, Starbucks (et al) is expensive. I save that money to give for hungry kids. I think I can do without a luxury, so children can have necessities.

At mass on Ash Wednesday, Father preached about how feeling temptation was integral to our Lenten journey. This year, that came home to me in a very personal way. I've noticed that I struggle more with temptation, sin, depression, even despair during Lent. I think that temptation, to drink coffee or indulge, is part of what makes giving sacrificial and meaningful. Read on.  How Temptation Makes for Better Lenten Fasting, Sacrifice 

Low Cost Candy Free Easter Basket Ideas for Little Girls

I'm the original minimalist mama. I've always done it natural, sustainable, frugal and recycled. On holidays, I made simple, DIY gifts. Here are candy-alternative Easter basket ideas I've used for our daughters. Quality. Instead of filling her Easter basket with cheap toys made by slave labor, choose items she can use and enjoy all year: bubbles (here's my Easter party article with a cheap, homemade bubbles recipe), sidewalk chalk, jump rope, playground ball, Chinese jump rope, lawn games, craft dough (see my article on recipes for homemade Play-Doh, Moon Sand, Silly Putty linked in this article.) Read onInexpensive Candy Alternative Easter Basket Ideas for Little Girls 

Holy Week, Easter activities for Families

Catholics, Orthodox, and other Christian traditions, follow the penitential season of Lent before Easter. Lent concludes with Palm Sunday which leads into Holy Week and culminates on Easter Sunday. This most sacred and somber week includes the Easter Triduum, with Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday or Easter Vigil. I converted to Catholicism 19 years ago and homeschooled our four children for 10 years. My children tell me that some of their favorite memories center on our Holy Week observances. For families looking for the full Palm Sunday-to-Easter experience, here are activities from my journey to guide you. These activities have merit for non-Catholics, as they help bring families closer together.  Holy Week, Easter activities for parents and children

Giving to Panhandlers is Not Good Stewardship, It's Dangerous

I'm generous. I give to known organizations and many random causes. But I will not give to panhandlers for several reasons. We stopped in Grand Rapids, Michigan yesterday for a bite to eat.
A guy approached the car shouting, waving his arms and begging for money. He was wandering in the street disrupting traffic, accosting passers-by. We didn't give anything. But he kept following. I know we feel sorry for panhandlers. But giving them money is enabling and not good stewardship. It's also dangerous. Think hand up, not handout.   Panhandling Is Getting Out of Hand

Give the Gift of Hygiene, Personal Care Products

Got stinky kids? Well, puberty is the time for it. Hormones in overdrive make the sweat glands work extra hard, too. And many schools don't have time for facilities for kids to shower after gym class. So they can get pretty ripe by the end of the day. Give the gift of hygiene. Here are a few personal care products we found that help with body odor. Tips and Products to Help Kids Maintain Hygiene 

Watch the Pennies, the Dollars Will Take Care of Themselves

My mother-in-law is a spouter of adages. I hate schmaltzy sayings. I wouldn't have gotten along with Ben Franklin. One MIL repeats ad nauseum is "take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves." Then she proceeds to spend all the pennies and dollars and claim insolvency. But neither my annoyance nor her hypocrisy, negate the saying. And it's a good maxim for earning,saving, frugal spending and giving. Read on.     Online Writing Tips Mind the Pennies, the Dollars Take Care of Themselves

Lenten Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving Activities for Children

The Catholic Lenten season of Lent is fast approaching. In lent, we practice gospel virtues: prayer, fasting, almsgiving. We seek to draw near God, by imitating Christ's suffering. Those acts in turn help us grow stronger. Here are lenten sacrifice activities for children.  Lenten Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving Activities for Children

Volunteering is Just That, A Gift of Free Time and Service

Whenever there's a call for volunteers, my hand is usually the first up. Well, it used to be till I wised up. Don't get me wrong. Volunteer work is still important to me. I'm just choosier about what I agree to help with. It has to meet my criteria.

* Do they really need help? I volunteered to chaperon a dance after reading how desperate they were for help. Got there and just stood around. The organizer had gotten a better response than expected and didn't bother to tell anyone so they could decide if they really had time. Read on.   Volunteering is Just That

Lenten Kitchen Waste Not Want Not Vegetarian Chili

Today was refrigerator clean-out, leftover use-up day. Buried under five feet of snow and ice, I made what I call Chili Today and Hot Tamale. Just right to thaw my frozen husband who's been scrapping ice all morning. This recipe is vegetarian, low calorie and easy on my diet. And it makes a perfect addition to my online Lenten Kitchen recipe collection. During lent Catholics fast so they can live in solidarity with the poor and imitate Christ. We eat simple foods that are similar to those eaten in disadvantaged countries.   Vegetarian Chili Today and Hot Tamale--Low Calorie, Too!

Give the Gift of Life--Drive Safely

Michigan's weather is redefining itself yet gain. From 2 degrees and -25 wind chill, we're at 32 degrees--freezing point. I told my daughter who quipped, "if that's freezing, what have we been having all winter?" Good question. 32 is the point at which water freezes. So anything slightly above, below or just at and we get a nasty "wintry mix." AKA, half-freezing rainy snow that melts and refreezes back and forth as temps ping-pong. It was this kind of weather that caused me to get in an accident last year. So please, give the gift of life. Put the phone down. Drive safely! Read on  Rising Temperatures Mean Wintry Mix, Bad Roads

What to Give and Not Give to Food Banks

Do you donate to food banks? If so, what kind of things do you give? I have issues with some items our church food pantry requests: Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper, boxed macaroni and cheese, boxed potatoes. I don't buy these products and I'm doing people a service not buying it for them.
This "food" isn't food at all. It's full of fat and sodium and just convenience junk. If food is going to homeless people, I see why packaged is essential. They have no place to cook. But presumably the recipients of our food pantry do, ergo the Hamburger Helper request. I know non-perishables work best but there are better packaged food options.  Do You Give to Food Pantries? What Food do You Donate?

I Sat in Rosa Parks Bus Seat and It Was Profoundly Moving

I had a profound experience recently, one that I have few words to describe. I sat in Rosa Parks' bus seat. The one, on December 1, 1955, she refused to vacate when a white man wanted it. That act sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. It propelled the Woolworth Lunch Counter protests, freedom riders and other Civil Rights demonstrations. All because of one brave little rebel lady.  I Sat in Rosa Parks Bus Seat

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