Clean House: Party Planning!

images (19)Last week I joined in the book group discussion of Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12 Month Experiment to Rid Her House of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma. You can read those thoughts here, mostly that we are very challenged in all areas of the book! Thanks to Amy Sullivan and Steph from Only Here, Only Now  for hosting the discussion.

Task 8 for the Wyma family was Party Planning and Hospitality. I had to ask my daughter Ellie to guest post on this one!


2 year old Ellie: Who are we going to see today? What are we going to do? She’s always had a knack for welcoming people, planning parties, hosting special times and generally just reaching out. I see God working through her gift of hospitality.

Hospitality is a beautiful way your whole family can encourage and love others. It’s also a great way for your kids to think outside of themselves. 


What made you think of starting Tropical Treats?

My Grandma gave me a shaved ice machine and a palm tree. That’s why I call it tropical treats. It’ really fun to make them and for people to pick the flavor they like. I really like giving people treats.


Tell me about using duct tape to make gifts for people. 

I have a habit of making crafts. I just starting thinking of lots of things to make for people using duct tape. I like to take someone’s personality and bring it into what I make for them. It feels good to give people things.


What’s the hardest part about hosting parties? What’s the best part? 

The hardest part is finding activities every would like to do and not fight about, especially if there is boys and girls at the party. The best part is people’s face expressions. I like doing this stuff to see people’s faces having fun!


How do your kids get involved in serving through hospitality? 

Water Aid Kids Activities

water aid

2,000 children die every day from easily prevented diarrheal diseases. We can educate our kids to make a difference for kids around the world that do not have access to clean water and safe sanitation.


What kids doesn’t want to fight poop justice?


Enter WaterAid kids resources..

The Learn Zone at WaterAid has a sense of humor just right for kids.


Download a Water Splash Coloring Book for 3-5 year olds.

Play Games

  • Pani the Handlepump (quiz game) 
  • Turdliwinks (flick your turdliwinks into ‘toilet targets’)
  • Soozhal (Be an investigative journalist in India)

Watch 13 different videos all appropriate for kids. The issue comes to life when you see children moving through the challenge of finding clean water.

Download Information Sheets for Kids

Watch an On-line Comic Book featuring:

  • Vinny the Poo
  • Super Toilet
  • Driplette
  • Soapy Hero



WaterAid is a partner organization of Mom Bloggers for Social Good and the Global Team of 200.

Try one of these out with your family and tell us all about their reaction! 


Children’s Books about Understanding Disabilities

Children’s Books for Understanding Disabilities: 

(Tomorrow guest Lisa Woolsey will be helping with #27 acts of kindness to families and students with disabilities)

The alphabet war








The Alphabet War: A Story about Dyslexia by Diane Burton Robb

sosu's call








Sosu’s Call by Meshack Asare (1999 UNESCO Prize, story of courage)

black book of colors







The Black Book of Colors By: Menena Cottin, Rosana Faria, Elisa Amado (A beautiful book to step into the World of being visually impaired.)









Eukee the Jumpy Jumpy Elephant By: Clifford L. Corman MD, Esther Trevino and Richard A. Dimatteo (A book about ADD)

talking to angels








Talking to Angels By: Esther Watson (A book about autism)

blueberry eyes








Blueberry Eyes By: Monica Driscoll Beatty, Peg Michel (A book about  eye treatment)

dad and me








Dad and Me in the Morning By: Patricia Lakin, Robert G. Steele (A book about hearing impairment)

one foot








Now One Foot, Now the Other by: Tomie dePaola (a grandson and grandpa dealing with disablility)

knots on a counting rope







Knots on a Counting Rope By: Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, Ted Rand (A Book about confidence in blindness)

red octopus







We’ll Paint the Octopus Red By: Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen, Pam Devito (A book about Down’s Syndrome)

moses goes to school








Moses Goes to School By: Isaac Millman (A boy who attends a school for the visually impaired)

moses circus








Moses Goes to the Circus By: Isaac Millman (A boy who attends a school for the visually impaired)

sees a play








Moses Sees a Play By: Isaac Millman (A boy who attends a school for the visually impaired)


goes to a concert








Moses Goes to a Concert   By: Isaac Millman (A boy who attends a school for the visually impaired)









Sarah’s Sleepover By: Bobbie Rodriguez, Mark Graham (Overcoming visual impairment)









Reach For the Moon By: Samantha Abeel, Charles R. Murphy (affirmation and hope from someone who works through disability)









Sarah and Puffle: A Story for Children about Diabetes By: Linnea Mulder

very special critter








A Very Special Critter By: Mercer Mayer (A book about students with physical disability)









Leo the Late Bloomer  By: Robert Kraus, Jose Aruego (All kids develop in and grow in their own time)

Do you have any stories I can add to this list? 

Gift Catalog Activities for Families

Yesterday, we shared links to learn more about gift catalog giving over the holidays.

Here are some additional links to help you teach your kids about the difference their gifts make in the global world.


Read the book Beatrice’s Goat: Beatrice Biira of Uganda was nine years old when her family received the gift of a goat through Heifer International. The goat provided enough income for Beatrice to attend school. In 2010, Beatrice graduated with her master’s degree.

Read to Feed Program:  This is an incentive service-learning program that encourages literacy. Read to Feed is a great program to implement at schools and churches.

Game and Activities: Heifer International has a link for game and activities; crossword puzzles, word searches, science experiments, and cow-lage.

Watch:  OxFam’s gifts in action videos.

Visit: Compassion International’s Resources for Kids. Quest for Compassion explores four countries that Compassion works in. You can download Explorer Magazine and check out a children’s Bible featuring artwork from Compassion Kids.


Take time as a family to check out some of these great resources. It will make your gift catalog experience take on even deeper meaning.

Involving Families: Ryan and Jimmy

Kids can make a difference!

Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together By: Herb Shovelier is a book your family will want to read together. The book is geared toward 3rd-6th graders. The book is part of the CitizenKid Collection of stories to encourage kids to make a difference globally.

In first grade, Ryan Hreljac of Kemptville, Ontario learned that not everyone in the world had clean water. He sought to earn the money to buy a clean water well. After a newspaper ran his story, his work received international attention. He was able to fund a clean water well in the Agweo Village in Uganda, Africa. His school became pen pals with students in Agweo. One student, a young orphan named Akana Jimmy longed to tell Ryan thank you in person. Ryan was able to travel to Uganda and meet Jimmy. The book is about their friendship and the difference they have made.

The story continues as Jimmy was abducted by the LRA, a resistance group in Uganda. He escaped to his friend, the project coordinator of Ryan’s Well. After time and paperwork, Jimmy was able to come to Canada and live with Ryan’s family. They now have a foundation called the Ryan Well Foundation.

The Foundation website also has school curriculum ideas and clean water projects you can be involved in.


Be encouraged by a friendship and the power one life has to make a difference!

World Food Day for Families

Oxfam USA World Food Day is October 16. Oxfam works together to end poverty and injustice around the World.

World Food Day is a great opportunity to serve as a family!

Our planet produces enough food for everyone, yet nearly one billion of us (1 in every 7 people) still go to bed hungry.

Your family can make a difference!


How can your family be involved? 

Learn about the Grow Method

Visit the Grow Method Page and read the booklet Fight World Hunger Starting at Your Table as a family.

Write down a practical application for each category that your family can work on.

Our family choose the following:

  • Save Food: have a leftover night where we try to use any and all leftovers.
  • Shop Seasonal: visit our local farmer’s market to learn what food is seasonal.
  • Less Meat: weekly have a breakfast for dinner night with pancakes and fruit, or beans and rice.
  • Support Farmers: visit our local’s farmer’s market for produce.
  • Cook Smart: work as a family to plan our meals for each week.

Visit Pinterest (Look a great excuse!)

Oxfam GROW method is on pinterest here. Follow their board. Look through the recipes as a family and choose a few to try together.

Do you use Instagram?

Post a photograph on October 16 of your World Food Day dinner. Tag the photograph with #WFD2012 and your photo will join others around the world. Visit the Oxfam website to see photographs from around the world.

A World Food Day Dinner Discussion Guide: 

Oxfam has a printable World Food Day Dinner Discussion Guide here. Use this free resource to guide your dinner table discussion. After the kids go to bed, parents can continue the discussion.

A Children’s Book Resource:

Hungry Planet What the World Eats By: Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

This book would be a great resource for a family story time after dinner. Beautiful photographs archive families all around the world surrounded by what they eat in a month’s time. Discuss the similarities and differences you recognize with each family.


Praise your kids for taking time to make a difference as a family. Make sure they know their efforts combined with others, do make a profound difference!

Ten Ways to Give Back Over the Fall Season

1. Take time out to write an encouraging message of thanks to your children’s teachers. Words of encouragement can go a long way to lift someone’s spirits. Teachers are priceless.

2. When the leaves begin to fall, consider helping someone else rake their yard; surprise a neighbor, minister to the home bound or elderly, or choose someone that could use a helping hand.

3. Donate candy to your local neighborhood or church trunk or treat, safe Halloween celebration.

4. Save spare change throughout the fall season. Pick a project to fund for a school in need at an organization like Adopt a Classroom.

5. Take time to support your local schools. If you are not sure how, contact the school secretary. Usually, there are numerous simple ways to contribute; Boxtops for Education, Campbell Soup Labels, volunteering time, donating library books, etc.

6. Make two pots of chili and two apple pies. Use one set for your family and deliver the other as encouragement to another family.

7. Host a neighborhood or small group pumpkin carving or pumpkin painting gathering to build community.

8. Take some time for your family. Hike through fall leaves, have hot cocoa together, share a fall picture book, or roast smore’s over a fire pit.

9. Shop for an extra bag of groceries to take to your local food pantry.

10. In anticipation of the holiday season, donate used clothing and toys to your local second hand shop. Those clothes or toys could make a good gift for another child.

Involving Kids: CitizenKid Central

If you have kids, teach kids, know kids you will want to check out the website CitizenKid Central

CitizenKid is a collection of books that inform children about the world and inspires them to better global citizens.

I have featured many CitizenKids books in the involving kids category of about proximity and I plan to feature all of them.

At CitizenKid Central you can dig deeper with your own family or your classroom.  All the content on this website is kid friendly.

  • You can watch book trailers of all their books
  • Sign up for their newsletter to keep up-to-date
  • Watch interviews with the book authors
  • View videos of issues that affect kids globally and the actions that help
  • Use the amazing free resources in your home or classroom
  • Read the CitizenKid blog about the issues of; Action, Children’s Rights, Democracy, Education, Food Security, and Poverty

Involving Kids in Service: The Holland 100 and Clean Water

A Guest Post by: Lisa Woolsey 

Before we had children I had dreams of having toddlers who were globally-aware champions of social justice, actively stamping out hunger and promoting world peace.  As with most of my preconceived ideas about parenting, this has proved a bit more difficult than I imagined. I’m not sure if I thought I was going to wear my daughter in a sling while I had my son attached to one of those monkey backpacks with a leash all the while swinging a hammer at a Habitat project. Or maybe I assumed that they would be selfless enlightened individuals who would be happy to give all of their birthday presents to kids at the Children’s hospital.

We’ve tried to include them where we can, but it seems that we’re often dragging them along and trying to keep them out of the way so they don’t break something or get hurt.  We have had a few successes – a couple of summers ago we mentored the child of a migrant family and from time to time we help out at our church’s food bank, but there again it seems we spend more time trying to explain to our kids why they don’t need the doughnuts that are part of the food bank… Recently, however, we had the opportunity to participate in the Holland 100 bike ride.  Our church, Engedi, added a fundraiser to the established bike ride to raise money to build wells for clean drinking water in Zambia.

Many of the global issues are a bit esoteric for our 6 and 7 year old, but clean water is something they understand.  My husband is a Spanish professor and last summer we took students to central Mexico for four week.  While we did have running water for bathing and cleaning purposes, we were not able to drink the tap water.  Instead, we (read: my husband) had to walk to the store and buy five gallon containers of water (think water cooler at work) and carry them back up five flights of stairs to our apartment.  All of us, even the kids, were acutely aware of our use of water. We didn’t let the water run out of the container like my kids do with the sink when they’re brushing their teeth here in the states.  We didn’t use that clean water for washing our hands or doing dishes. And we certainly didn’t throw any of it down the drain.  Every last drop was precious.  When we returned to the states, the kids asked at every drinking fountain, faucet, and hose spigot if the water was clean for drinking.  When we said “yes” they would oohh and aaahhh at the miracle of clean water.

When our church advertised a fundraiser to build wells in Zambia to provide clean drinking water, we knew this was a concept our children could embrace.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit that we aren’t the greatest fundraisers…probably because we don’t like to ask anyone for money (and I’m not creative enough to come up with some strategy for selling Angry Bird cake pops.) Plus, my husband grew up as a missionary kid and I think fundraising evokes too many images for him of standing at the front of a church with his 4 siblings, mother and father singing Spanish words to English church songs, ala vonTrapp children from the Sound of Music.  So, to solve the fundraising dilemma we just donated the money ourselves.

Nonetheless, the kids were excited about riding their bikes.  We embarked on the 18 mile leg of the Holland 100.  It took us a little under two hours to complete the course and I have to say that the kids were amazing.   I think the things that made this experience such a positive one for our family were that the issue (clean water) was one that my kids could understand and that the activity (biking) was something we love to do as a family.  The next step will be to come up with some creative ways for the kids to raise or earn money for these types of fundraisers in the future, but for now I will rejoice in the little and big victories – we were able to participate as a family and a village in Zambia will have clean water to drink.

Lisa Woolsey and her husband live in Holland, MI with their two children.  She has a PhD in Health Behavior from Indiana University and practices medicine as a physician assistant in a local emergency department. 


Involving Kids: Tree of Life

ThinkQuest: A four square mile patch of rainforest contains 150 species of butterflies.

World Resources of Institute: There are approximately 100,000 known species of trees on earth.

No two clouds or snowflakes are exactly alike.

A person could travel the world their entire lifetime and not witness everything.

Millions of people have studied the wonders of creation throughout time and still, there are new discoveries daily.



Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth

By: Rochelle Strauss        Illustrated by: Margot Thompson

This book is from the CitizenKid collection of stories. They seek to inform kids about the World around them and inspire better global citizenship. You can read about the CitizenKid book If the World were a Village here:

As an introduction to biodiversity, this story with beautiful illustrations stands as a great family read.

This summer spend a little time marveling at the creation around you. Go on lots of nature adventures.

Pointing out all the amazing facets of our shared environment creates a spirit of respect and care in our kids.