Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Free Printable Words of Encouragement

Free Notes to Make Someone's Day
A few simple words of encouragement can do wonderful things for another person. Often we think we have failed if we have not finished first. However, the real winners are often the unsung participants, the ones without all the fanfare. They are the ones that played a fair game or accepted the grade they earned without cheating. They are those that keep running and give it their best even after the winners have already crossed the finish line, the ones who work hard to learn a new skill even if it does not come naturally. The real winners are the ones who look around to see who they can help, even if it means sacrificing something in return.

Sharing words of encouragement can brighten a person's day and give them the courage and energy to keep on keeping on. I love words of encouragement! And I try to remember to share kind words with others.

Here are some printables with words of encouragement. Perhaps you have children that could use a surprise in their lunchbox or backpack. Maybe a co-worker could use a lift or maybe you just want to do a random act of kindness that says "I caught you doing something right!"

Click on the image to get a larger size before printing. Select "File - Print" once the image is enlarged. You can fit two of these on one page. Feel free to add your own personal message on the back and sign them, or you may want to send these encouraging words anonymously.

If you enjoy these printables, you may want to find other great resources on my Wildflower Bouquets site map.

Free Printables with Words of Encouragement

Saturday, February 25, 2012

One Way to Keep Living After the Death of Someone You Love

Living Life After the Loss of a Loved One © Katrena
The news of my father's sudden death just a few days before Father's Day due to an automobile accident left me numb for weeks and even months. My dad had been my soft place to land. He was the kind of person with whom I could spend the afternoon working side-by-side without talking and yet somehow feel as if we had connected and had the best of conversations. I loved my dad. And I still miss him terribly. I still get a huge knot in my stomach whenever I see road construction signs. So how could I pick up the pieces and go on?

Honor a Loved One's Memory © Katrena
First, I want to be honest and say that I don't have all the answers and I don't think there is any one easy answer. Grief is a process that can take a long time, yet it is highly individualized. Studying the stages of grief is not the same thing as living them. Some days may be better than others. An anniversary date, a word, sight, sound, or even aroma might suddenly bring memories flooding back even years after the loss of a loved one, even when you think you are done crying. Most people want to remember a loved one who has died but many find it painful to pick up the pieces and continue to trudge forward through life.

How to Grieve After a Loved One's Passing © Katrena
The year I lost my dad was one of those years that brought one incredibly tough challenge after another for me. Big stresses. Huge losses. Silent suffering. Even when I tried to be positive, I would often wake up in the morning and look around me thinking, well, what is going to go wrong today? I didn't want a crystal ball because I was sure that whatever the future held would only deepen my pain. I didn't find much comfort in learning about how other people had made it through grief because they were talking about it after the fact. I knew that my life would forever be changed, but could I enjoy living again?

Enjoying Life One Day at a Time © Katrena
That first February after my father's death brought me to a realization, but in a way I never expected. I had finally decided to take down the Christmas tree. The one that I had forced myself to put up a very short time before the holiday only because the kids had begged. I had dreaded putting it up, but not like I dreaded taking it down again. Yet it was February and I knew the project was long overdue...but then came the snow.

Loving Father and Grandfather © Katrena
My daughters sent up a shout and a flurry of activity ensued as they began to don their winter gear with smiles on their faces and feet that were moving so fast I had a hard time catching them to put them inside the boots. I halfheartedly sent them out the door, still determined to dutifully place the Christmas decorations in their boxes despite their pleas for me to join them. As I stood in the basement, I looked around, wishing that I had a magic wand that would put away the decorations and repair my heart with one simple twist of the wrist.

Celebrating Holidays © Katrena
Instead, a thought came to my mind. My grandfather, Dad's father, died when I was a very small child. Dad was young with a wife and four small children to support at the time. Yet he worked and saved enough to put all of us kids through college. He took me fishing, drove me to high school, took the family on vacations every summer, played the piano with me, and simply said "those things happen" after I wrecked the Firebird. Our family celebrated holidays, birthdays, thunderstorms, and sunsets...all after the death of Dad's father. That was a great gift from my father to me and I had taken much of it for granted.

Dad Grilling and Spending Time With Family © Katrena
I guess some sacrifices are never really noticed until you are looking through life's rearview mirror. At that moment I knew what I needed to do, what I must do. Suddenly, the urgency of putting up the Christmas decorations faded as I put on my hat, coat, and boots, walked outside, and simply played in the snow with my daughters. After all, snow doesn't last forever, and neither does childhood.

Healing After a Loss © Katrena
It was a small step forward, but I realize that even if I slip and fall right on my face, I have still moved forward in this process called life. I can honor my dad by trying to be a loving, caring, gracious mother. I hope that my kids will be able to look back on these years with fondness in their hearts. Perhaps I can even learn how to be a soft place to land. No, I don't get it right every day, but I can learn from my mistakes and move on. I can give myself permission to be human even on those days in which I wish I were perfect but failed miserably.

Finding the Sun Past the Clouds © Katrena
If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, perhaps you too may find something to give to others that may continue that person's legacy. It doesn't have to be fancy or full of fanfare. Simply giving of one's time and talents may help the healing to begin and perhaps bless the lives of those around you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fun Outdoor Winter Snow Games for a Family With Kids

Outdoor Winter Fun With the Kids © Katrena
Kids often excitedly anticipate that all-important announcement that school will be delayed or cancelled when the weather gets a bit frosty and the roads are deemed too hazardous for school traffic. We live in the South, so just a small amount of snow will often produce quite a bit of conversation in these parts!

Winter Games for the Family © Katrena
When the yard is covered in a blanket of snow, my kids cannot wait to go outside! I think that's great because often the white stuff is gone within hours or just a few days at our home, and we might as well make the most of it while it lasts. The dust and dirty dishes can wait, and Facebook and email won't implode while the family goes outside to enjoy nature for a while.

Creative Ways to Have Fun in the Snow © Katrena
Before Going Out in the Snow

I remember putting bread bags on over my shoes and securing them with a rubber band and putting socks on my hands on snow days when I was a kid. It worked, so if you get caught off guard with an unexpected snow and not a lot of snow gear, sometimes a little improvising can do the trick. Avoid unsafe situations and carefully supervise youngsters in the snow and ensure that everyone goes inside to warm up at proper intervals. Adults who aren't used to exercising should be especially careful when running or shoveling in the snow.

Snow Day Boredom Busters © Katrena
In case you want to prepare when the meteorologists start calling for snow, it helps to have warm outer wear, like boots, a hat that covers the ears and/or scarf, gloves (preferably waterproof), and several layers. I've found some great deals on snow suits at consignment and thrift shops – they can make it so much more comfortable if staying outside for any length of time. Kids often grow quickly, so it is helpful to check to ensure that boots still fit. I like to store gloves inside of the hats so that they are easier to find, which is very helpful if three kids are busting to get outdoors!

Tips for Enjoying Snow Days © Katrena
Charge up batteries for digital media such as a camera, video camera, cell phone, etc. ahead of time. It also helps to have supplies like a sled and items for making a snowman ready in case those winter weather predictions become reality. Set out a bowl as the snow begins if planning to make snow cream and prepare for power outages with extra food, batteries, and other supplies.

How to Make a Snow Angel © Katrena
Fun Ideas for Playing in the Snow

Kids have a way of creating their own fun, so often they will make it easy and simply play and enjoy the moment. Those can make some of the best memories and it can be great fun to simply watch the kids being creative and imaginative.

Encourage Creativity in the Snow © Katrena
The following are just a few simple ideas for having family fun in the snow:
  • Do a good deed for a neighbor or a simple random act of kindness.
  • Look for "hidden treasures" like animal tracks or animals playing or hiding in the snow.
  • Go sledding – you might be able to improvise by pulling a plastic tarp, cardboard box, or large trash can lid if a sled is not available.
  • Make a snowman – it doesn't have to be big.
  • Make other snow creatures, a fort, a castle, or other 3D snow art forms.
  • Have a relay race before placing each item on a snowman or other snow creature. 
  • Have a snowball fight, play catch, or find other safe targets for the snowballs.
  • Make snow angels.
  • Write messages or draw pictures in the snow with your finger, a stick, or with footprints.
  • Use sticks and other objects to create shapes and letters on top of the snow for the kids to identify.
  • Feed the birds and other animals.
  • Play "I Spy."
  • Go for a family walk.
  • Play follow the leader while doing wild and crazy things with your arms and/or legs.
  • Play tug of war with a snow wall in the middle.
  • Play "Simon Says" with a snow twist (make a snowball, find an icicle, write a snow message, etc.).
  • Go on an Easter egg hunt (this was one of my kids' ideas that turned out to be pretty unique and fun).
  • Play hide and go seek – this can be a lot more challenging after dark.
  • Have a scavenger hunt – place written clues in ziplock bags so they won't become wet.
  • Have the kids solve a riddle to get to the next "station" in the yard.
  • Make pictures and videos – these can be fun to watch later after everyone warms up inside.
Make a Snow Castle © Katrena
I recently taught group exercise for some kids at an elementary school. They had a two-hour delay and I asked if everyone got a chance to play and exercise in the snow. Some kids sadly shook their heads and said they weren't allowed for one reason or another while others excitedly told of simple snow adventures that put a sparkle in their eyes.

How to Save Snow Memories © Katrena
Although I sometimes dread the clean-up in the house afterward and might prefer to be snuggled under a nice warm blanket, I hope that the extra effort to go outside and act silly with the kids will be special moments they will cherish forever. I know I will. And if you just have to save the snowman in the freezer, hopefully there will be just enough room for the little guy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Free Printable "I Love You" Notes

Love Notes to Share
Saying "I love you" can be like second nature to some while the same words can leave others feeling like they are trying to speak another language. I tend to remember things if I can see the words in written form. If everyone around me would wear nametags for a week, I would probably remember all of those names forever!

Since my kids tend to be visual learners as well, I decided to create some printable love notes for them. I enjoy slipping notes in their lunch boxes so that they can be sure that I am thinking about them even when I cannot be right by their sides.

These notes can work great for special occasions like Valentine's Day or any other day that you would just like to say I love you with a note. Send them to kids or adults. Feel free to add your own personal message and signature on the back.

I created these simple love notes in MS PowerPoint using clip art from Art Explosion 300,000. I am including them as a .jpg file to enlarge as a printable image and am also copying and pasting within the article so that hopefully you will be able to find a format you can use.

Notes that say I love you
I hope you enjoy these printable "I love you" notes and check my site for other great ideas for enjoying simple pleasures with the family!