Children’s Time: “How Smudge Came” by Nan Gregory and Ron Lightburn

The gentle illustrations in this children’s book soften the story a bit, which may invoke complex emotions. Cindy’s friends are inspired by how much she loves and cares for her puppy. As you listen, pay attention to your feelings. When do you feel sad? worried? angry? What actions in the story make people feel safe and loved and respected?

In When Smudge Came, we see that Cindy’s friends at hospice show her love because she showed love to Smudge, which reminds me of this week’s lectionary reading: 1 John 4:7-21. Can you think of times when you were inspired to love others because someone loved you?

Sharing Box: 31 things we’re sharing in March

One of my favorite parts of my neighborhood is our Sharing Box, a small outdoor pantry where neighbors can put things to share and take what they need or want. It’s the perfect distance from our house for a walk with our dogs, and we go at least once a day.

In March, we’re working hard to add more items that women need or we think women might especially enjoy. Here are some things we’re sharing:

  1. menstrual care products
  2. favorite recipes on notecards
  3. small zippered bags for makeup
  4. lip gloss
  5. hand sanitizer
  6. masks
  7. nail polish
  8. recent magazines
  9. cooking utensils
  10. a baking dish
  11. hair ties
  12. bars of soap
  13. decorative candles
  14. craft supplies
  15. wrapping paper
  16. book of puzzles
  17. oil
  18. salt
  19. pepper and other spices
  20. Cuties
  21. grapefruit
  22. boxes of tea
  23. children’s books
  24. Vienna sausages
  25. granola bars
  26. individually-packaged cookies
  27. cheese-and-cracker packs
  28. juice boxes
  29. Pop-tarts
  30. individually wrapped bags of microwavable popcorn
  31. individual soda cans (provided it’s not freezing)
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Sharing Box Ideas: 28 things to put in your neighborhood pantry this month

One of my favorite parts of my neighborhood is our Sharing Box, a small outdoor pantry where neighbors can put things to share and take what they need or want. Since Advent coincided with our new puppy’s ability to go on longer walks, we have used the Sharing Box as a destination multiple times a day (It’s a few blocks away–just enough for a little walk) and used Advent as an opportunity to share more. We set our goal of sharing once per day, and we’ve mostly kept it up.

Here are some things we’re sharing during the cold month of February.

  1. canned soup with pop-tops
  2. boxed soup
  3. crackers
  4. in-season citrus fruit (dropped off in the morning before the temperature freezes)
  5. tins of sardines
  6. double-bagged Ziploc quarts of homemade curry
  7. frozen pizzas (during our run of below-freezing days, marked on the outside with the moment of delivery so that folks know how long they’ve been in the box)
  8. single-serving size bags of chips
  9. individually wrapped tea bags
  10. packets of hot cocoa mix
  11. boxes of almond milk
  12. bottle of hot hot sauce
  13. a can opener
  14. box of cake mix + a 9×13 pan to bake it in
  15. small bag of apples
  16. extra toothbrushes  and sample-sized floss and toothpaste picked up from the dentist
  17. bars of soap
  18. winter pajamas we’ve outgrown
  19. hats, gloves, scarves, and mittens we’ve outgrown
  20. decks of cards, including Uno and Skip-Bo
  21. candles
  22. Valentine’s Day cards for kids to share at school
  23. bag of individually-wrapped Valentine’s Day candy for kids to share at school
  24. recent issues of magazines
  25. this week’s local newspaper
  26. repurposed shaker bottle (like from Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast) filled with sidewalk salt
  27. costume jewelry that a child might like to give to their mother or grandmother
  28. a doll

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We love our sharing box!

A little snow makes it easier to say goodbye to Christmas

I’ve been a little jealous these last few weeks as friends in different parts of the country have gotten snow and we’ve gotten warnings about snow and then… nothing. But today, a little snow landed and stuck–nothing serious, but enough to make it feel like winter for a bit. Which also means it’s easier to say goodbye to Christmas, which we’ve started celebrating through the 40th day after December 25th, because it still feels like winter (which it is).

Here are some highlights from our house this Christmas season.

We used this Advent calendar from our church to connect us to others as we each performed the same acts of kindness each day. The little felt donkey, just 1″x1″, guided us to the nativity.

Above, scenes from our Advent wreath making project. Using recycled parts but new candles, we made an Advent wreath for everyone at church who asked, about 10 in all.

During one of our weekly Christmas crafts, we made garland from paint chip samples–trees and stars.

Do you have a Christmas pickle on your tree? We used paint chips to make 3 dozen of them to share with neighborhood friends.

More Christmas crafts! Trees from a paper forest, a pinecone elf, and snowpeople made from wooden blocks.

Last year, we made every family with children at church a small Holy Family painted on tiny rocks. This year, we made every family with children a peg people Holy Family.

Some presents appear every single year: board and card games, books, and either mugs, travel mugs, thermoses, or water bottles.

Christmas Eve dinner references my life back East, so, this year, crab mac and cheese. Christmas Dinner this year was themed “traditional Midwestern,” with roast beef replacing turkey. As usual, the sides are the star. (And, yes a 1:8 lb butter:potato recipe is entirely appropriate)

We love birds in our tree–and here are some additions for the year: a felt cardinal, a knitted cardinal, and a ceramic star with a dove cut from it.

New wreaths, three on the tree (a yarn one by a friend and two woven from wheat), plus one we made from a grapevine wreath on the banister.

Our Christmas tree, overseen by Marian Zsofia, our angel.