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Happy Birthday!

June 25th, 2016

Our Great Group Games book is officially nine years old, and it has remained on the publisher’s bestseller’s list since its first year. It’s been a big hit with schools, camps, youth organizations, churches, and businesses all over the country. We’ve been SO blessed to hear stories about the ways YOU are using our games. You are PLAYING WITH PURPOSE – using games to shape values, relationships, skills, and leadership styles.

THANK YOU for all your support in this project. If you were here, we’d give you a slice of birthday cake! So why don’t you go have a Hershey’s Kiss, and celebrate with us!

Welcoming Flowers

June 22nd, 2016

By Emily Jo Justian

Inglewood neighborhood in Nashville Tennessee has had quite a few new people move in, so I thought it’d be nice to do something for four of those people.  Now growth rate was I found too high and so that’s the reason of me picking four new people to give the notes and flowers to take to everyone (I also don’t have that much money).

The plan was to write out three simple notes (seen is photo one) on April 25th but that plan was pushed to April 29th.  The notes would then be attached, using twine, to a small arrangement of flowers that were picked from my mom’s garden.  My mom drove me around the neighborhood and helped me figure out who is new to the neighborhood.  We tied the flowers to the mailboxes with their notes attached.

 

 

Simple Acts of Kindness

June 15th, 2016

written by Tatyana Natal

Mr. Joe lives alone, but he has “kin-folk,” as he calls them, that take care of him. They take him out sometimes for lunch and the like, usually to Burger King since that’s his favourite place to get a meal from. Sadly, he is mentally challenged. He used to work as a mail messenger for about 30 years in (I believe) the Batman Building. His parents used to live in the same house he lives in now, and he’s been in this neighborhood since the 1950s. He also went to the East Literature high school and middle school (or what ever it was called back then), which is where my brother went for 5th and 6th grade. I don’t remember him there, but my mom told me he was at my 4th birthday party. Apparently he gave me five dollars. A few years ago, or perhaps longer, there was a tornado in our area, which uprooted a tremendous tree across the street. Afraid, Mr. Joe asked if he could come over to our house. While the tornado tore through the sky, he slept on the couch, unaware that the storm was now worse than before. He unwittingly peed on the couch, and it took my mom over a month to clean the huge spot. That was the last time he came over.

Whenever he sees someone he knows walking down the sidewalk or trying to mind their own business and get inside his or her house, he starts talking to them. It doesn’t matter how many times he has to call their name; he will get their attention and hold a conversation for however long he can with them. Also, he stays either on his doorstep to speak to the person or on his side porch. There is no variation. It couldn’t matter any less to him how many people can hear what he’s saying. He’s slightly deaf as well, so whoever is talking to him has to yell twice as loud in order to be heard.

Our elderly neighbor, both across the street and down the block toward the west, was given a piece of cake and a Burger King lunch. My mom decorated the two-layered chocolate hazelnut frosting covered cake, but I baked it. It was for our dog Gabby’s tenth birthday. The cake was understandably nearly two days old, but it is safe to assume that it has been since devoured. As previously mentioned, we took him a lunch on the 29th. He loves Burger King and gave us the order, which we took to his house. Overall, I hope he was satisfied by such a simple deed. I certainly was.

I’m Not an ATM! Teaching Tweens about Money Management

June 13th, 2016

By: Ann Saylor

originally published at www.parentfurther.com

You know the families with spoiled kids who are always throwing money at leisure without concern? And the families who control their children’s spending down to the penny? When it comes to money, it’s best to avoid both of those extremes. But there is a happy medium! It’s all about finding the right opportunities to talk about money. Here are some easy do-at-home or on-the-go tips for helping tweens understand money management. Read more >

Look for opportunities to talk. When your tween accosts you with the “I want this; I want that”, open up dialogue about spending, giving, and saving. Here are some of the conversations that we’ve had in our family lately:

  • “You only have $5. If you spend it on this, then you won’t be able to do that. Why don’t you take some time to think about how you’d like to spend your money, instead of making an impulse buy.”
  • “Would you rather spend your gift money on arcade games that will only last a few minutes, or save for something you can enjoy longer? Which would be more valuable to you over time?”
  • “The Sullivans have money to spend on that, because they’re not saving for a vacation this summer. Think about all the things you’re looking forward to when we get there!”
  • “I know you’d really like to have that, but you don’t have the cash for it right now. Why don’t you put it on your wish list for future gifts or purchases?”

Dip your toes in the water.

Do you have 10 minutes to spend on a financial activity with your family? Try one of these creative ways to explore financial topics:

Dive in deep.

  • If you’re looking for a comprehensive and engaging way to teach preteens and teens about money, visit www.BankIt.com for a free resource from Capital One and Search Institute. They talk about how to make positive money choices, how to avoid common money traps, how to reach toward financial dreams, and where to find resources to support you in making money choices.

Nonfiction books!

June 10th, 2016

Melissa Taylor always shares great book lists!  Check out her latest post:

Searching for interesting and compelling nonfiction books for kids? Here’s a wide variety– from easy picture books to more challenging illustrated, informational tomes. You’ll find something for all readers and interests in this round-up from 2016.

 

Helping a Neighbor in Need

June 8th, 2016

From Isaiah Spurlock:

For my leadership service project I helped out an elderly member of our church named Mr. Dean. Mr Dean had a section of gravel next to his shed that he had previously tried to move but was unable to due to age. The pile of gravel took about two hours to move and amounted to two truck loads to remove from his yard . After we removed the gravel it have him space to plant a garden for this upcoming season and he was very excited and impressed. I felt that this was a very humbling exsperience for me and I enjoyed helping a member of our community

 

 

Why Every Family Should Have Traditions (and Ideas for Starting Them!)

June 6th, 2016

By: Susan Ragsdale

orignally published at www.parentfurther.com

Pizza Fridays. “Chick Flick” Mondays. Attending college basketball games. Making fudge for Valentine’s Day. Hunting for Easter baskets in the house. Watching black and white horror movies the whole week of Halloween. Telling what we’re grateful for at Thanksgiving. Shopping for stocking-stuffers Thanksgiving night. Putting out the Christmas village. Winter sledding. Making my grandmother’s Jam Cake. Sausage pinwheels for every celebratory breakfast we ever had. Taking walks in the neighborhood. Playing Rook. Having homemade soup every ballgame night (so we wouldn’t overeat before running!).

These are just a few of the traditions and rituals in my family – most involved food because that was one of my mom’s sparks. Cooking was how she expressed love. These activities were things to look forward to for the holidays and during the week.

Traditions are the “glue” of family togetherness and the fodder for creating fond memories and strong family identity. They can be big things or little things, done within any family year to year (or shared from generation to generation). They can take a week or 5 minutes. There are no rules to family traditions–except to have fun! You don’t have to do the same things that another family does. You can create moments that are distinctly and uniquely your own.There’s no wrong way or right way to go about it. There’s just what your family makes happen.

I was fortunate enough to have experienced firsthand the value of having meaningful traditions and routines ingrained into our family life. We regularly shared in family meals and spent time together doing activities from shared interests (which, by the way, research tell us are powerful things to do to strengthen families).

Traditions can be super-easy to incorporate into busy lives. Below are some simple ideas to spark your thoughts on what traditions you might want to think about adding into your own family time:
1. Homemade Pizza Nights – My husband and I both had this tradition growing up every Friday night and continue to practice when possible to this day (with a movie).

2. Home from School Greetings – Make it a ritual to ask your children about the best, worst and funniest parts of the day and share yours, too!

3. Dog Pile On Dad – With youngsters, nothing is more fun that to dog pile on dad.

4. Daily Send Off – Jake and his Dad created their own special “send off” salute for whenever one of them was leaving the house. Handshakes or salutes can be as cool or as silly as you want.

5. Adopted Phrases – Consider an established back and forth verbal routine. Ours started when my mom asked, “What am I going to do with you?” after I did something silly. I spontaneously answered, “Keep me!” She laughed so hard, and somehow, that became a ritual just for us.

6. Messages – Put notes in lunches or use a white board to leave messages of love or quotes of encouragement to each other.

7. Park Exploration – Mark the transition to spring by greeting it in person with a stroll, bike ride, or run in the park.

A few ideas to enrich the holidays . . .

1. Queen (or King) for the Day – I knew that every birthday, I got to pick the meal AND the cake. It was my day. That was our tradition.

2. Mother’s Day – Make a special plate or mug that is used only for Mother’s Day, then make and serve mom breakfast in bed. We spelled out “mom” with crescent rolls.

3. President’s Day – For over 25 years, my friend David gathers with extended family for a three-day weekend of playing cards and board games. It is during this game-a-thon that family recipes are passed down from generation to generation as teenagers come of age and learn how to make home-made noodles and other key recipes that are religiously prepared every time at this weekend event.

4. Thanksgiving/Black Friday Reversal – Some very close friends celebrate see a movie on Thanksgiving Day and have the big meal on Black Friday – less stress, more peace and more time to prepare.

5. Christmas – We read aloud Dickens’ Christmas Carol every season to remind ourselves of what is important and to keep perspective during the holiday chaos.

Are you on Pinterest? I’ve pinned some of my favorite craft projects on my virtual pinboard. Some I did as a child, and some I do today with the kids in my life. Check them out here. Enjoy!

Tell Us: –>I want to hear from you! What are some of the traditions your family has that you really love?

__________________________________________________________________________________________Image via Hammer 51012 on

Flick’r.

National Service Dates for June

June 1st, 2016

Launch of summer hunger-relief programs

Let’s Read. Let’s Move! summer initiative

Great Outdoors Month (100th Anniversary of the National Park Service)

Regional Convening, Indiana (June 7 – 10)

National Convening on Volunteering and Service in Detroit (June 27 – 29)

Monsters and Voting

May 27th, 2016

On the Bookshelf: ‘Monster’ shows politics isn’t so scary

Editor’s note: On the Bookshelf is an occasional feature about books of interest to politically minded readers.

Paul Czajak

With the 2016 election campaign in full swing — and arguably one of the more contentious — who better to teach young kids about voting and politics than a big, blue, playful monster in a new picture book called “Monster Needs Your Vote”?

Written by Paul Czajak and published by Minneapolis-based independent publisher Mighty Media Press, it’s the fifth book in the “Monster & Me” series.

“It’s a whimsical, nonpartisan story about voting and democracy, but it also talks about the values that make America great and kind of brings us back to our roots,” said Nancy Tuminelly, publisher of Mighty Media, which approached Czajak about writing the book. The book, aimed at 2- to 6-year-olds, is scheduled for release in paperback June 14, with a price of $6.99. The hardcover edition is available now for $16.95.

“Mighty Media really cares about kids and their future and we dutifully understand the weight that politics holds on that future,” Tuminelly continued. “In anticipation of our rabid extremism during this tense election cycle, we thought our social-conscious “Monster & Me” series seemed like the perfect venue to inject some good old-fashioned messages of democracy and standing up for what you believe in back into the hearts of Americans.”

Finding a cause

“Monster Needs Your Vote,” aimed at 2- to 6-year-olds, is scheduled for release in paperback June 14. The hardcover edition is available now. (Image courtesy of Mighty Media Press)

When Czajak was approached about writing the book, he struggled to find an issue that kids could relate to — it certainly couldn’t be taxes, health care or gun control. One day, however, his young son asked him why he couldn’t vote, and the idea for “Monster Needs Your Vote” was born.

As the story goes, election season is here and Monster is ready to vote but discovers he’s too young. He decides, “Why not run for president?” He attempts to run on frivolous platforms — like more desserts and longer summers — but people aren’t relating to his causes.

Monster becomes frustrated and almost drops out of the race until he discovers a cause worth supporting — saving libraries. (Of course, he eventually realizes that he’s too young to run for president but sticks with his goal of saving the local library). Written in humorous, read-aloud verse, the book encourages kids to take a stand and fight for what they believe in. Tuminelly also believes that Czajak got across the message that politics too often ends up being about what a party wants; not what the people need.

“Paul brilliantly delivered a classic tale that has turned out to be a timely and greatly needed lesson in civics and social studies on this lower level and also that appeals to adults,” Tuminelly said.

The book is drawing positive reactions nationally. Czajak has received letters from a former U.S. president, a former first lady, a current presidential candidate, a secretary of state, and congressional representatives from around the country — both Republicans and Democrats.

Making a difference by engaging kids

The “Monster & Me” series represents Mighty Media’s commitment to deliver books that foster children’s curiosity, imagination, social awareness, and sense of adventure. The series has sold 100,000 copies to date, and the publisher has more than 20 more Monster books in the pipeline.

“We’re nationally distributed with books available at Barnes & Noble,” Tuminelly said. “That’s a big thing for an indie publisher. We call ourselves the ‘little publisher that could,’ because we’re going up against many large publishers with a lot larger budgets.”

Of the series’ books so far, “Monster Needs Your Vote” is the timeliest, and Mighty Media is reaching out to kids and families. The publisher is offering a supplement to the book for parents and teachers.

Mighty Media is also partnering with Kids Voting Minneapolis, a community-based, nonpartisan affiliate of the national Kids Voting USA, to teach kids that their voices matter.

“Kids Voting Minneapolis has a theme, which we just love,” Tuminelly said. “It’s ‘Vote Young, Vote Forever.’ We feel if kids can get involved at a younger age, they will stay engaged and listen and be part of their community … and country as they go forward.”

Mighty Media also sponsored Minnesota Public Radio’s recent “Rock the Cradle” event at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which drew 10,000 people. The publisher sponsored a story time and provided a voting activity for kids to learn about “needs and wants” and have their photo taken with Monster. The publisher plans to hold more events throughout the year.

“Our biggest dream would be to have this book in every kid’s hand in America,” Tuminelly said. “Of course, we don’t quite have that deep of pockets. And we know the political season is going to come and end, but we don’t feel that’s the end of this book because of the values and messages that it has. It will go farther.”

What inspires the author?

Czajak, who lives in New Jersey with his young family, never planned to be a writer. In fact, he got an “F” on his first college-writing paper with the words “Get a tutor” scribbled across the top. He became a chemist and worked in that field for 20 years.

After having kids, however, they inspired him with all kinds of ideas for picture books. “My wife finally just got sick of me saying, ‘Hey, you know what, that’s a picture book [idea] and that’s a picture book,’” he said.  “She told me, ‘Stop talking about it and just write it down,’ so I did and the rest is history.”

Mighty Media connected Czajak with Los Angeles illustrator and animation storyboard artist Wendy Grieb to do the illustrations. She has worked for Disney, Nickelodeon and Sony and worked on Disney Channel’s “Phineas and Ferb” TV show.

So what does Czajak hope to accomplish with his “voting” book?

“I hope kids start to get involved and understand elections at an earlier age,” he said. “It’s one thing to start voting at 18, but it’s another thing to really understand what it’s all about. And I feel that we take kids for granted and they’re much smarter than what we give them credit for at an early age. They understand that they want to be heard.”

RELATED CONTENT

Read more: http://politicsinminnesota.com/2016/04/on-the-bookshelf-monster-shows-politics-isnt-so-scary/#ixzz48N6yanvA

The Power of Play: Why Having Fun Cures All Ails!

May 20th, 2016

By: Ann Saylor

originally published at www.parentfurther.com

We all like to have fun, but did you know there is scientific research proving the power of play? There is truth to the Life is Good Foundation’sslogan, “Life can hurt, play can heal”. Here are some of the many ways science says that play leads to healing in children and youth.

I’ve been using play as a teaching method for 15 years, and these are the growth areas that I notice on a consistent basis.

Play keeps the doctor away. Play keeps us moving and active, which helps children maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity, on the other hand, contributes to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cholesterol, and heart disease.

Play can help to heal broken relationships. Building positive memories together during playtime, whether playing soccer, Wii, or “Phase 10” is a powerful way to strengthen relationships. Over time, playing together builds trust and acts as a glue to bind people together in healthy ways.

Play bolsters emotional health by helping children overcome insecurities and gain confidence. When children take risks and overcome challenges in their pretend worlds (dolls, LEGOs, games, role plays), they learn skills to overcome real world challenges.

Play reduces strains on a child’s mental health. Laughter and play are healthy ways to minimize stress, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and illness. Children and teens with healthy outlets for active play also learn to manage their energy and emotions more effectively.

Play prevents brain drain, and it actually helps the brain grow. The more experiences a child has, the more connections (synapses) the brain cells will make. The more connections, the more effectively the brain works.

Play reduces violence by helping children practice and refine social skills. As children learn to resolve conflicts, persuade teammates, and play fair in their game-time, they are learning valuable skills to reduce violence in schools, sports, and families.

Search Institute’s scientific research on Developmental Assets also strongly supports the importance of play.

  • Games help build an environment of support with peers and caring adults.
  • Youth are empowered to learn and grow in new ways – trying new leadership roles, practicing new ways of problem-solving, and using critical thinking skills.
  • Group games help youth set high expectations for themselves – climbing beyond challenges that stump them, and excelling at new adventures.
  • Challenges help children learn about their skills and abilities. Games highlight sparks, strengths, and talents that aren’t usually recognized in the classroom.
  • Games help students make healthy life choices, as they practice decision-making in life-like scenarios that offer a safe place to experiment with values and ethics.
  • Working together sharpens social skills and respect for all people, as diverse people work together to achieve a goal.
  • Games can promote positive identity and life purpose. Games help children learn who they are and what they are good at. This can help prepare them for future leadership roles, service opportunities, and career paths.

For more information on the benefits of play, check out the following resources:

So laugh and be silly – and you may discover a whole new realm of health for your family!

Humor + Novelty = 2 Brain Boosters in 1 Activity

May 18th, 2016

Boosters for Groups in a Jar® has 101 activities that educators, youth workers and youth pastors alike can use to add low prop, low prep, easy, quick energy to any group setting. Pull out an activity and GO. Youth can lead or the adult leader can. It’s all up to you.

Field-testing games has to be my favorite part of active research. What better way to see if a game works in different settings than to try it out yourself?

The game included here takes a little humor, adds in novelty and imagination and voila! you have a breath of goodness going straight to the brains and right into your group dynamics. Ah! Brain Boosters for Groups! Build the group.  Build the brain.

The Game: Divide into pairs. In 20 seconds, draw a hybrid of two animals. Team up with another pair: take 20 more seconds to guess which 2 animals were combined for each picture.*

Can you guess the hybrid below?

cheerus2

Answer: a Cheetrus – a cheetah + a walrus

jar infoClick to order:   http://tinyurl.com/boosters16

 

*Excerpted from Brain Boosters for Groups In a Jar® by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor, copyright © 2016. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.

Mid-Summer Pop Quiz! 10 Fun Activities to Boost Your Brain

May 16th, 2016

By: Tricia Cornell

originally published at www.parentfurther.com

It’s summer, so there’s no time limit and there’s no class schedule, which means you can dig into new subjects as much as your heart desires. If something catches your interest, keep looking and learning!

Go ahead and use the Internet — or maybe even the library — to do your research. But you might want to set a timer to remind you to refocus if you start surfing mindlessly.

1. In what country do people build a lõke to celebrate Jaanipäev? What other traditions surrounding this holiday can you find? What is this holiday called in three other countries? Using what you learn, organize a fun Jaanipäev party for your family and friends.

2. Who holds the record for the fastest mile hopped on one leg? How fast did she hop? How far can you hop one leg? Can you work up to a whole mile?

3. What is a surya namaskar? Have you ever tried something like this? Learn how and teach your friends to do it with you. Can you challenge yourself to do this every day?

4. How many teaspoons in a gallon? Before you Google, think about the steps you could take to figure it out on your own, e.g., teaspoons in a tablespoon, tablespoons in a cup, etc.

5. Could you win the Bocuse d’Or? Learn about this prestigious event and organize something similar with your friends. Invite your families to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

6. Where is 19.4167° N, 155.2833° W? According to legend, who lives there? If you can borrow a smart phone or GPS device, use latitude and longitude to organize a scavenger hunt for your friends.

7. What is Taraxacum officinale? Can you find one in your neighborhood? I bet you can. Then look for: Acer rubrum, Bellis perennis, Cichorium intybus, Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus, Myosotis sylvatica, Ranunculus sardous, Rudbeckia hirta, Solidago virgaurea virgaurea. Which of these are edible? Can you find some good recipes?

8. What is the mathematical word that describes repeated shapes that fit together infinitely with no spaces in between? What artist is most closely associated with this phenomenon? Check out his work and see if you can make your own examples.

9. Do you know what ga-ga is (Hint: It’s not a pop singer)? Do you eat it? Grow it? Play it? Find out, learn more about it, and make it a fun part of your summer.

10. Where would someone greet you with “Su Prabhat”? What else can you learn about this place? Can you learn a song, a game, or a dish from this place to share with your family?

Bonus: Come up with quiz questions of your own to stump your family and friends. Maybe you can organize a day where you all share some of the projects and activities that you come up with.

 

Download Printable Quiz >>________________________________________________________________________Answers:

1. Jaanipäev is St. John’s Day, or Midsummer Day, in Estonia. A lõke is a bonfire. This holiday is celebrated around the world, particularly as Juhannus in Finland, Jāņi in Latvia, and Joninės in Lithuania.

2. According to the Guinness Book of World Records: “The fastest time to hop one mile on one leg is 27 minutes and 51 seconds by Ashrita Furman (USA) on 1 February 2006 at the Penang Bird Park in Penang, Malaysia.”

3. Surya namaskar is a sun salutation, a combination of yoga poses.

4. There are three teaspoons in a tablespoon, 16 tablespoons in a cup, two cups in a pint, two pints in a quart, and four quarts in a gallon. So, there are 768 teaspoons in a gallon.

5. The Bocuse d’Or is an international cooking competition held every other year in France.

6. This is the latitude and longitude of Mt. Kilauea, a volcano in Hawaii and the legendary home of Pele, the volcano goddess.

7. Taraxacum officinale is a dandelion, Acer rubrum is a red maple, Bellis perennis is a daisy, Cichorium intybus is chicory, Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus is a daylily, Myosotis sylvatica is a forget-me-not, Ranunculus sardous is a buttercup, Rudbeckia hirta is a black-eyed Susan, Solidago virgaurea virgaurea is goldenrod.

8. This is called “tessellation” and many examples are found in the work of M.C. Escher.

9. Ga-ga is a form of dodgeball that originated in Israel.

10. Su Prabhat is Gujarati for “Good morning.” Gujarat is a state in India.

goLEAD is headed to the Motor City!

May 13th, 2016

The goLEAD Facilitator Training will be in Detroit preceding the Conference on Volunteering and Service!!
goLEAD is a proven youth leadership development and service-learning model with nearly two decades of success delivered by hundreds of dedicated adults who provide leadership training to youth in their local communities.

We invite you to join this network of caring adults today by becoming a certified goLEAD facilitator.  Certification as a goLEAD facilitator will allow you to provide youth in your organizations and communities with a fantastic program opportunity to improve their leadership skills and learn how to engage other youth in service.

Participants will receive;

  • Two days of experiential training in how to deliver the goLEAD program to youth
  • A hard copy of the goLEAD curriculum
  • Access to an electronic copy of the goLEAD middle school supplement
  • Access to an electronic copy of the goLEAD program curriculum
  • Access to a closed Facebook group of fellow Facilitators sharing best practices
  • goLEAD Facilitator certification

This isn’t any normal training; get ready for blind trust walks, hands-on learning, and LOTS of fun.

Space is limited so register today!

Registration numbers must meet a minimum threshold in order for the training to be held.  In support of timely travel planning, registered participants will be notified by May 31st if the minimum registration number has not been met.

Training Dates:

  • Saturday, June 25, 2016: 10:00 am-5:00 pm
  • Sunday, June 26, 2016: 9:00 am-3:00 pm

Training Location: TBD (downtown Detroit facility)

Cost: Thanks to local partnerships we able to offer this training at a reduced rate of $650.

Space is limited so register today!

We’ll see you in Detroit!

Emily Rios| Senior Manager Youth Leadership

 

National Service Dates in May

May 4th, 2016

Senior Corps Week (May 16 – 20)

http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/senior-corps/senior-corps-week

This is a great time to recognize older adults who have made significant volunteer contributions to your community!

Break Out of Breakfast in Bed! Fresh Traditions for Mother’s Day

May 1st, 2016

By: Tricia Cornell

originally published at www.parentfurther.com

Can I share a secret? Don’t tell my kids. On my list of places I like to eat breakfast, “my bed” ranks near the bottom of the list, right above “underwater.” Who wants to eat surrounded by pillows and blankets, with your legs straight in front of you, a tray barely balanced on your lap? Who wants to clean up the inevitable crumbs and spills? More importantly, who decided that this should be the iconic way to show Mom you love her?

But twice a year, on the night before my birthday and the night before Mother’s Day, I get a cue from my husband: “By the way, don’t get up early tomorrow. You know why.” So I lie in bed wide awake, listening to a happy clatter downstairs. I try not to think about the mess. I try not to count the minutes until I can get up and make myself a real cup of coffee. And when two happy faces burst through the door with dry eggs and clumsy slices of fruit, I light up. “Were you surprised, Mama? Did we surprise you?” “Of course, I was surprised. What a perfect breakfast!”

And it is a perfect breakfast. One I’m glad I only get to enjoy twice a year.

Whether or not your day begins with breakfast in bed, here are some ideas for making Mother’s Day memorable this year. Better yet, why not make one of these ideas a tradition, every year?

1. Volunteer. Thanksgiving and Christmas are so popular with volunteers that shelters and soup kitchens sometimes have to turn willing helpers away. Why not mark Mother’s Day (or Father’s Day) by helping other families?

2. Plant something. It may just be coincidence that we mark Mother’s Day just as spring flowers bloom. Cut flowers are lovely, but a row of annuals will remind your family of this special day all summer long. And a perennial plant will speak to you for years to come.

3. Write Mother’s Day letters. Take time to reflect, separately or together, on the past year or the year to come. Share your letters now or put them away to read next year.

4. Go for a hike or a bike ride. Fresh air plus physical activity plus time together is a recipe for a refreshing, energizing day that could make the rest of the week to come even better.

5. Get intergenerational. Grandmothers are mothers, too! Invite the grandmothers, aunts, great-aunts, neighbors, and favorite friends into your day. We can all learn something from those older and younger than us.

6. Tell family stories. What stories do you remember about your mother? Your mother’s mother? Or other women in your family tree? Celebrate mothers going as far back as you can find.

7. Take a picture or draw a picture. Save it for next year in a box or an album and add to it year after year. This could become a treasured keepsake.

8. Add to a family recipe book. An annual record of special meals you make together will be a great gift to pass along to your children someday.

9. Avoid the crowds at brunch. For some families, brunch at a restaurant is a treasured tradition. For others, it’s an obligation that just feels crowded and stressful. If that’s your family, give yourselves permission to break that tradition and enjoy something simple at home — together — instead.

10. Brainstorm with your kids. Sure, it’s Mother’s Day. But kids have interesting and fun ideas about how to spend family time. Ask your kids what would make the day special for them and be open to their suggestions. Maybe it’s as simple as playing a game. Maybe it will be something you never thought of.

Tell Us:–> How do you break out of breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day?