The Year of Motherhood: Discovering our City

By October 31, 2012The Year of Motherhood

This post was written by contributor Jamie Ivey.

Bucket List for your city

Not long after we moved to Austin I discovered a blog written by a mom in town that had made a list of all the things to do with your kids around Austin before they go off to kindergarten. It was her own little mom/child pre-school bucket list.

The truth is that when my kids go off to school I lose about 40 hours a week with them that I would have normally had with them when they were not yet in school.  I remember being challenged to actually do the things in my city that people write about and encourage tourists to do.

It was then that I made my own little fun list of things I wanted to do with my kids and this month we were able to scratch some of those things off of our list.  It worked out perfectly for us to be on Fall Break this month, so I was able to do fun stuff with the kids during the day when most kids around us were still in school.  What I discovered was that my kids were eager to see new sights around our town as well.

Out of my comfort zone

This challenge forced me to get out of my mommy comfort zone and do new things with my kids.  If we are all honest, sometimes it’s just easier to do the things we always do with our kids, rather than trying new stuff.  This challenge forced me to think outside the box and not just go to our normal play ground on a day we have together, but yet find a new one to go to and explore something new. 

We visited a museum that we had never been to, climbed a “mountain”, and visited a new pumpkin patch that we had never been to.  This challenge was fun for me and also stressful (because I had to plan), but it was so much fun! 

It’s a joy to see your kids experience something for the first time and have so much fun!

November is for serving

In October, we focused on discovering our city, and November is for serving our city. 

I have always wanted our family to serve together, but each year I feel as though I have that one kid that will ruin it for us all.  I either have a child that’s too young, or one that will surely lose their mind and throw a massive fit during our time of serving. 

This month I’m determined to serve our city somehow together as a family.  This shouldn’t be hard to find somehow to serve, but the hard part will be to make us actually do it.

I would love to hear from you about this!  How do you serve your city that you live in?  Do you volunteer as a family? 

I need tips!  I want my children to love to serve, but sometimes I just don’t know how to do that well as a family.  Leave your comments HERE for me about this!

About Jamie
Jamie lives in Austin with her husband, Aaron, who is the worship pastor at The Austin Stone Community Church, and their four kids. She’s passionate about loving her husband, following Jesus, talking about adoption, and trying to be the best mom she can be to the four cutest kids in the world. She loves family nights, reading a good book, and could eat Mexican food three times a day. You can find her blogging at, or on twitter @jamie_ivey.

Leave a Comment



  • Avatar Cherie says:

    I think it is definitely important to involve my children with ministry efforts I undertake and more importantly with boys for my sons to see their father serve too. And it has been a process in serving together and one we are still working at evolving in our home. I believe in living the great commission I must teach them by observing what I do in situations and so I look for ways to bring them along: visitation in the hospital or funerals; cooking meals and delivering them; delivering food supplies to those in need; back yard VBS; teaching as I go. Sometimes its messy and sometimes beautiful, but over time I see the compassion and mercy come through in other ways – this weekend my son asked me to a make cookies for his friend who broke his arm severely. And so he took what he saw and transfered to his own peers and so the little steps pay off…

    • Avatar Kat Lee says:

      Oh, that’s so sweet Cherie. And inspiring. What a thoughtful boy you have.

    • Avatar Jamie says:

      I love that your son asked you to make cookies for his friend! He is clearly imitating what he sees you do! Reminds me that I need to have them involved in things I do for my friends. Sometimes it’s just easier to do it w/out them, but clearly they are watching!

  • Avatar Margaret says:

    Having worked as a teacher with kids from many different backgrounds, I’ve found that projects where they can be as hands-on as possible tend to be the most fun. One way to make an immediate impact in the community is by packing & delivering “homeless survival kits”. Silver City Gospel Mission has a pretty good list ( of items you can pack in a backpack (easy to carry) that will make a big difference for someone out on the streets when the weather starts getting colder and wetter. Once packed, these can either be given directly to the homeless, or distributed through local shelters. If cost is an issue, maybe organize a collection day where others in the area can help out by donating items for the kits. Packing day could follow and make a celebration of sharing the abundance that was collected.

    • Avatar Kat Lee says:

      Thanks for that link. That’s a great list – I like the idea of having practical things on hand to help others!

    • Avatar Jamie says:

      Margaret love this idea! Love it! We actually live in a city w/ a fairly high homeless rate and live in an area where there are lots of visible homeless people. This could be a great thing for us to do with our kids!

  • Avatar Jerri says:

    Our family serves by cleaning up the elderly or widowed yards. Cooking for those sick or with new babies. We also like to serve those with a paralyzed family member. During Thanksgiving we always bless a few families with a box of food and Christmastime we adopt a family for presents. Also you can decorate someones home or tree for Christmas- that’s also fun to do as a surprise:)

  • Avatar Sarah Raby says:

    It was important for us to find a way to involve our young children in serving. One thing we took on this year was to sharpen the pencils at church. We knew that the secretary had to take her precious time to do it each month and we thought that was something we could manage. We got a commercial sharpener and take the kids to collect pencils, sharpen and put them back. Sometimes it’s crazy to get it all done before they are needed the next week, but we know it makes a difference.

  • Avatar LuAnn Braley says:

    We’ve not had a lot of luck volunteering/serving as a family…yet. Two things that spring to mind would be collecting/donating food or money to the local food bank. There is also an organization in eastern Kentucky called RedBird Mission that does a lot of good work among the elderly and poor folks in the area. My kids think we are poor when they don’t get every new game that comes out on the first day of release. And I know the idea is to serve locally, but given the pictures we’ve all seen coming out of the northeast US, wow…my heart is being pulled in that direction as well.

    • Avatar Kat Lee says:

      My kids saw some of the video of the devastation in the NE as well. It’s such a great opportunity for us to show our kids how to act on our compassion, even if it’s just sending a few dollars to an aid organization. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Avatar Joyce says:

    We love trying new things in our town, and nearby cities…especially since one of those nearby cities is San Francisco where my husband and I lived many years of our lives. 🙂

    Something that we are trying to start is to go through the girls artwork and give it to residents in senior living centers. My BIL and cousin both work in senior housing so it is perfect for us to even get a list of names to personalize our gift. Another way to serve is to send meals to needy families, whether it is a mom who just had a baby, or someone in financial need. I’m not the best cook, so I usually leave this up to others, but I’m trying to think up of ‘food basket’ ideas so that even if I don’t cook a meal, I can still bring one to someone.

    • Avatar Kat Lee says:

      PLEASE share if you get a food basket idea. Cooking is not my forte either. And I love the idea of giving artwork to seniors!

    • Avatar Jamie says:

      Joyce I am not a cook either and so bringing meals to people is hard for me. I LOVE to bring people food, but honeslty mine is not the best, so I buy them pre-made meals that they can pop in the oven and eat whenever they want. Not boxed lasagna in the freezer section, but our Whole Foods stores here have pre-made food that is GOOD and you just need to heat it up! That’s how I shop!!

  • Avatar Jen says:

    We have identified a charitable organization in our city (a Children’s Shelter) that we will serve as a family when our girls are a little older (they are 1 and 3 now). For now we just try to reach out to neighbors, taking meals when someone has a new baby, etc. little things to start showing them an attitude of giving. Courtney over at Lil Light o Mine blog ( did a great thing called Light Em Up last holiday season and gave tons of ideas that you can do with kids to reach out to others. I think she’s updating it and adding to the list for this year!

    • Avatar Kat Lee says:

      Oh, thanks for the link. I love that you’re so intentional – identifying an organization to work with when your kids get older! This is something I really need to get back into doing with my kids. As they get older, life gets so very busy…

  • I’ve got two toddlers, so they can’t do much, but on Saturday — we’re headed out to fill a few shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I’m also trying to think of some way to have them “raise money” to buy some baby chicks through the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog.

    Lindsey @

    • Avatar Kat Lee says:

      OCC is such a great way for our kids (and us) thinking about others as the holidays approach. It’s really a ministry for the giver and receiver!

  • Avatar J S says:

    This weighs heavy on my heart right now…I want to do more (partly so I can be an example to my kids) and I want to actually involve my kids. I have a 6yo and a 3yo. One idea is to create a “StoryWalk” (take pages from a book and place them around a park or trail –people can walk along and read) and “advertise” it as a food collection or book collection for a needy organization. The kids can help set up the story walk and help collect/deliver food/books.

    Details here or google “StoryWalk Project)”