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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Jar of Goodness

We make great use of glass jars at our house. Really any sort of glass container will do. And by this I don't mean glass cloches, although they are a near obsession of mine. That would require a whole 'nother post. One of my favorites is a glass milk jug from the dairy near us in Illinois. It represents so much to me, that jug. It reminds me of the milk door in our old house and that you could still get milk delivered in that sweet town. Anyway, I fill glass jars with most everything. Fruit and snacks on a buffet, seasonal decor, party treats, flowers, ceramic balls with numbers and letters.

We have a summer tradition of filling a glass fishbowl with our summer plans. (RIP, Flippy. You were greatly loved. All 10 days you spent as our first family pet.) One summer, The Chicago Tribune printed our idea in a column:

At our house, we know exactly what is still on our summer to do list.  Our "to dos" are written on strips of paper in a fishbowl on our kitchen counter. In the spring we made a long list of things we wanted to do this summer ("go fishing", "go to Springfield, IL", "visit an animal shelter", "find a new park", "take a hike", "learn the Our Father", "jump in puddles", "take cookies to the firehouse", "have a lemonade stand" and much more.).  The first day after the boys were out of school we cut the list into strips and put them into our bowl.  Every morning we have a little meeting where we talk about the day's weather and calendar, sing a song, and most exciting...draw from the fishbowl to find out what we're going to do that day!  You should hear the squeals of delight!  
Some ideas are simple ("look at things in a magnifying glass") and others are more ambitious ("camp in the backyard").  It has been an exciting way to ensure we have a little structure, creativity (we chose "go to the beach" on a day already scheduled with a doctor's appointment and birthday party so we took our sand buckets to Naperville's Centennial Beach at dinnertime), and the best part of summertime - family togetherness.  We've even started keeping a little journal so at the end of summer we'll have a treasured record of our many adventures.  I'm secretly hoping we'll have a few strips left over to do together this fall -- that just might make back to school days a little less bittersweet.

When something works for us, it bears repeating. So for Lent, we are also drawing out of a jar. This year I jotted simple good things to do on purple strips of paper. Someone chooses one at random over breakfast and we strive to complete our task by bedtime prayers. It gives our Lent a bit of shared focus on good deeds. We keep the Oberweis dairy jug on the same tray to encourage our alms giving. Tasks already completely stay out to remind us of the good we've done.

The strips are varied but simple in their direction: "Send love to a cousin, do something kind for someone with your initial, help a teacher, smile at someone you don't know, be kind to the Earth, try to act like Jesus ALL day, donate something," etc.

It is a delight to hear reports of how daily Lenten missions were accomplished. Reports given throughout the day remind us all to keep to our tasks. Sometimes we work together. Last week we had way, way too many carrots (it is so hard for me to order online groceries in kilograms. You should see the enormous block of cheese we got, too!). We donated a giant bag of carrots to the Hyde Park Stables and in return, had the pleasure of seeing beautiful animals up close. The bravest of our bunch fed the grateful horses.

It has been great fun to see the effort and creativity with which the children complete their task and gives me a focus for the day.  Good deeds, brought to you by Lent, lots of purple paper, glass jars. And my very favorite little people.


  1. What a great display. I think this is lovely!

    1. so nice of you to say so and many thanks, too for the kind words about the children! And about the Jr League -- we really just lucked into those apartments. My (now) husband rented the basement apt. Then when I moved to R\mond, I took over the basement apt, he moved the top floor, and the "ladies" of the League kept us honest. Then when we were married, we moved the little bit we had (and eventually brought our now almost 10 year old home from the hospital to) to the top floor!

      So we have many happy memories (and lots of dear friends, too) left in R'mond. xo