If you’ve paid even a lick of attention to Hollywood during your life, you’ll know that kids at home alone are prone to throw a party. At least, that’s what the movies tell us, right? When Karen and Chip Schoonover decided to take a much-needed vacation, they opted to risk their home turning into the set of Party X by letting their daughters watch the property. While they enjoyed their vacation, their daughters got busy creating the surprise of a lifetime. Are you ready to hear how four daughters change their parent’s lives forever?
The Home Alone Conundrum
There comes a day in every mom and dad’s life where they must make a decision. Do they trust their kids to be old enough and mature enough to stay at home by themselves? While the decision seems silly and harmless, it is actually a monumental one. After all, all parents want to know that their children are taken care of, right?
What Could Go Wrong
Of course, leaving your children alone can come with consequences. Even the most well-behaved kids might grow tempted by their sudden dominion over the family home. When Chip and Karen began pondering about going on a vacation, they were at least slightly concerned about what would happen while they were gone. Would their four daughters throw an off-the-wall party? Would they come back only to find their home in ruins?
Making the Major Decision
While Karen and Chip’s thought process would prove to be unnecessary, they had unexpectedly stumbled upon a nugget of truth. While they were away on their vacation, their daughters WOULD do something to their home. Instead of turning their home into a disaster, the Schoonover’s would find something rather different when they returned!
Meet the Daughters
Before we leap into the nuts and bolts of what brought you here today, we should take a moment to meet the stars of this story. Here we see the beautiful Schoonover daughters with all of their personalities on display. Hollie, Halice, Haley, and Heather. Do you think that their names had any sort of theme? The daughters ranged in age with Heather being the eldest.
Raised in South Carolina
While the Schoonover’s had called North Myrtle Beach their home for many years, they weren’t originally from the area. Before moving to South Carolina, the Schoonover family had called Florida their home. After deciding that they wanted a change of scenery, the Schoonover’s made their way to their current residence.
Coming Up With a Plan
After debating whether or not to leave their children behind, Karen and Chip would decide to go on their vacation. What did this mean? Well, it meant that ALL systems were a go for Operation: Surprise Mom and Dad. The only problem was that they’d have to incorporate their eldest sisters into the plan. We’ll learn more about them in a little bit! What we should reveal is that by this point in time, Karen and Chip were ready to leave.
The Work Begins
With their parents out of the house, Heather, the oldest sister, made her way down to the family home. This was when it became clear what their plan was. The four sisters had decided to renovate their parent’s entire home while they were on vacation! They knew how hard their parents worked, so it was important to them to create a Christmas present that would honor them.
Paying Attention to Detail
While none of the sisters had experience in the field of home renovation, they figured that they could learn as they went. In order to make the renovation a success, they would have to pay attention to every little detail. Who knew how much work could go into renovating a family home?
Nonstop Work Around the Clock
With only a week to accomplish the renovation, a robust schedule was crafted. Pooling their resources together, the Schoonover sisters decided that they would work day-and-night in order to finish the renovation before their parents got back. After all, if their parents returned halfway through the renovation, their surprise would be ruined.
Racing Against their Parent’s Return
While the sisters were truly racing against the clock, it didn’t mean that they weren’t having fun. There is something special about working on a hard project with people that you love. The experience would serve not only as an honorary gift to their parents but also as a way to bond together.
Mom and Dad Blissfully Unaware
Of course, while the four sisters put in some serious work, their parents were blissfully unaware. As far as anyone knew, Karen and Chip didn’t think anything was going on. What’s more, Karen and Chip were probably worried that their daughters would wreck the house. Oh, how little they knew!
Mastermind Behind the Plan
Now that we are well and truly underway, let’s take a moment to meet the mastermind behind the group. Here we see Hollie, the person who originally came up with the idea of renovating the family home for their mom and dad. Hollie was the one to pull her other young sisters into action while organizing the entire operation.
An Interior Designer on Accident
While Hollie had never planned on being an interior designer, she wasn’t unfamiliar with the world of creativity. Hollie had made plans to perform as an actress and a singer. While she hasn’t made her professional debut yet, her ability to pull of this wonderful scheme has to say something for her acting skills. How did she not give away the gift beforehand?
Other Half of the Dream Team
While Hollie was in love with working on camera, Haley was in love with working behind it. Haley, the youngest sister of the bunch, has professional skills when it comes to working with makeup. With Haley’s artistic vision, the sisters knew that they could do something wonderful as a Christmas present for their parents.
Good Head on Her Shoulders
Halice may not have followed her sister’s more creative pursuits, but that doesn’t mean she was working less hard than them. Halice decided that she wanted to attend University in order to pursue her education. Halice would attend Coastal Carolina University where she would earn her Bachelor’s degree. After graduation, Halice would go on to grad school where she would study physical therapy.
Returning to Roost for the Big Surprise
While the three younger sisters were ready to rock and roll right away, they still had to bring their oldest sister back home. Heather lived in South Carolina at the time, though she was quite a ways away. Heather had moved away from home in order to pursue a career alongside her husband. Heather currently works for a real estate company. Still, Heather knew that she had to make the drive home to help enact the plan.
Transplants From Florida
All four of the sisters were born in Seminole, Florida, where they spent the bulk of their childhood. Despite calling Florida their home during their formative years, the Schoonover sisters soon fell in love with South Carolina. How could they not? North Myrtle Beach is a wonderful place to live and their parents were clearly in love with the area. After all, you don’t just relocate four young girls on a whim!
Back to the Action
As the kids progressed on their work, they quickly realized how cool the outcome of the renovation would be. The Schoonover sisters decided that they would record the entire process on video so that they could share it with their friends and family on YouTube. Viewers began to flow in steadily and before the sisters knew it, they were going viral. While the whole internet may know what the sisters were up to, Karen and Chip certainly didn’t.
Getting Rid of the Old
If you’ve ever renovated a home, you know how much junk you run across. It is hard to believe how much we can stack up inside of our houses without realizing it! More than just renovating, the sisters soon came to realize that they would have to throw out quite a few things. Of course, the sisters would only remove what they knew their parents would no longer miss.
Starting From Scratch
The process became so involved that the daughters were essentially starting from scratch. They worked through each and every room in the house in order to strip it down to its core. While no sledgehammers were involved, the sisters definitely made it look like some serious mayhem had taken place. In fact, throw a couple of red cups on the floor and you might be convinced that this was a party. Hey, that’s actually a good prank idea!
Getting Help From Their Friends
While Hollie believed that they were being overly ambitious, that didn’t mean that they were flinching from their work. Instead of growing concerned by the scope of their plans, they enlisted the help of their friends. Soon four pairs of hands grew to six! Work began to progress at an incredible speed and soon the Schoonover sisters were starting to believe in their goal.
A Home Makeover Needs New Furniture
If you want to surprise your family with a home makeover, you can’t leave the old furniture sitting inside of the home. Hollie and Heather realized that this would be the perfect opportunity to give their parents the furniture upgrades that they so desperately had wanted but had foregone purchasing in order to afford their vacation. The girls weren’t wealthy, but they still pooled enough money to bring home nicer furniture.
Heather’s Unique Skills Come Into Play
Outside of the home, Heather had become something of an accountability maven. Possessed of determination and motivation in spades, Heather had become the leader of several workout accountability groups. Halice was also another fitness addict. They used their love of hard work to keep everyone motivated and pushing forward. Would their enthusiasm be enough to keep the sisters focused?
Raised As a Family
As we progress toward the end of the renovation, we have to stop to compliment the family. The Schoonover family perfectly exemplified how a family unit should operate. From youngest to oldest, the Schoonover sisters worked together in order to honor and show love to their family. In doing so, they also showed care and love for one another.
Workload Unexpectedly Widens
As it turns out, one half of a renovation involves tearing down the interior of the home to its core. At one point in time, the girls felt like they had made a major mistake. After all, looking through the home would lead you to believe that a tornado had just ripped through. Despite the doubts that were at the back of their mind, they continued working even when the job was tough.
No Rest For the Weary
Even the most ambitious of sisters need help from caffeine every once in a while. As the work grew increasingly more involved, the sisters came to realize that they would have to sacrifice some of their own leisure time to get the job done. This meant that the kids had to get up early and stay up late. This is where their fridge filled with energy drinks came into play.
Team Work Makes the Dream Work
Even though they were caffeinated and motivated, they still welcomed help from any friends that would offer it. The work ended up taking significantly more time than they had anticipated and that meant that there was little room to spare. Here we see the kids carefully painting the entirety of the house while also sharing a few laughs.
Hitting the Halfway Point
All of a sudden the week was more than halfway through. In just a few days their parents would be returning home and the building was still in shambles. The home was bereft of furniture and only half-painted. If you were the type of person to worry, then would have been the perfect time to start!
Losing Help By The Moment
As the week dragged on, the sisters began to see their extra help wane. The work had simply been too strenous for their friends. Their own legs and backs ached from the work, but they knew that they couldn’t stop now. Literally, the sisters knew that if they quit at this point, their parents would be less-than-enthused with half of a makeover.
Tricking Their Parents as a Gift
Finally, the special day arrived. Their parents had returned home, and they were only a short while away from the house. In order to keep their parents at bay while completing the final touches, they sent their eldest sister to greet their parents as a decoy. Heather’s presence was a surprise and soon both Karen and Chip were beaming. Little did they know what was on the other side of their front door!
The Big Moment Arrives
Hollie and the rest of the sisters were nervous. Suddenly their parents were walking toward the front door. When they came inside, would they be surprised? Would their parents be furious? Would they be sad at the changes? With nothing left to do, the sisters threw on their best smiles and waited for their parents to enter into their new home.
Karen and Chip Are Speechless
Within an instant, Karen knew that there was something different from the house. The surprising part was that Karen’s instincts had kicked in before the front door had even opened. As Karen crossed into the home she asked the kids, “Alright, who cleaned?” While Karen had no expectations, what she was about to see would bring tears of joy to her face.
Marvel at the Before and After
As their parents looked over the home, they were speechless. Karen and Chip couldn’t understand what had happened, but their faces said everything. As you can see from all of these pictures, the daughters had done more than a good job at renovating the home, they had done an amazing job. Within a moment, Karen was shrieking with joy. Chip was speechless but he was practically glowing with pride. It’s not every day that your daughters band together for a huge construction project!
Home Makeover Complete (Dog Included)
Can you imagine coming home to find that your property had been improved and renovated? While their home had never been ‘bad’, it certainly could have welcomed some positive updates. Karen and Chip were soon dancing in the room with their little pug following excitedly along. Their gratitude was echoed only by the love that their daughters beamed right back to them.
Peeking Inside the Bedrooms
The Schoonover daughters had thought of everything, and they had accomplished everything. Each bedroom had been updated. With new carpet, fresh paint, and brand-new beds, it was hard to imagine what was going through Karen and Chip’s minds. As far as presents go, this had to be up there!
Celebration of Family
As we draw our story to a close, we have to commend everyone involved with the project. Karen and Chip had raised a family that worked together to create something beautiful. What’s more, their daughters were so proud and caring toward their parents that they would put their bodies and minds through a ton of stress just to surprise them. Now, we have to wonder, what will they do for their parent’s next year?
Batman’s Newest Battle: Cheering Up Refugee Children
Life in refugee camps can be terribly boring. For many refugees coming from war-torn and disaster-stricken areas, boredom can actually be a relief. Still, boredom is boredom and the days can drag by even if basic security and shelter are secured in the camp. Fortunately for refugees in one Lebanese camp, a new hero is on the job, cheering people up: Batman!
The Caped Crusader recently went viral on Reddit and other social media platforms after photos and videos emerged of his efforts inside a refugee camp. The legendary superhero was spotted playing with children and otherwise cheering the camp residents up. Batman’s best friend at the camp was a young boy by the name of Kadar.
The Caped Crusader has earned a reputation for being a tough-as-nails superhero who always gives his all. That’s true both in Gotham and refugee camps. Batman put in a lot more effort than smiles and handshakes. Clips of Batman giving Kadar a ride on his shoulders and playing soccer with children have emerged. And no offense to the man in black, while he might be good at fighting crime, he needs to brush up on his soccer skills.
Another clip emerged of Batman losing an arm-wrestling match to Kadar. Let’s assume he tossed the match or Gotham might be in trouble the next time the Joker makes an appearance. If Batman’s so out of shape that a child can overpower him, that bodes ill for future battles between good and evil. Still, no one will doubt that Batman brought a lot of joy to the kids in the camp.
Batman also showed off some surprising skills. Did you know he’s one heck of a guitar player and a good singer to boot? Campfire clips of the Caped Crusader strumming away made their rounds. As for taking to the skies, Batman left the Batcopter home but he did manage to fly some kites.
Of course, Batman is a character of fiction, but real-world heroes will rise up none-the-less. In this case, the Caped Crusader was actually Kadar’s dad. The family has been struggling with conditions in the refugee camp and upheaval in their lives, so dad decided to cheer his son up. And at the end of the day, a real-world hero is worth far more than a fictional one.
The story also highlights the struggle that refugees go through. It is estimated that some 250 million children will grow up in conflict-torn areas. Many of them will struggle to secure an education or otherwise live a normal life. All of these children need heroes, both real and fictional.
Every day, families are being torn apart and forced to flee their homes. The United Nations estimates that in Syria alone that some 6.5 million people have been displaced. Over a million refugees from Syria have fled to Lebanon, itself a war-stricken country where millions struggle just to get buy. With an on-going civil war in Yemen, instability in Iraq, and countless other geopolitical issues, the Middle East and North Africa have seen millions of people displaced.
While a lucky few refugees will be resettled in the United States, Europe, and other highly developed areas, many will be trapped in refugee camps. Their only hope of returning home is often the end of the war. Yet modern wars can drag on for decades, seeming to never end. For Kadar and his dad, the years ahead might be tough. Hopefully, however, they can create some good memories along the way.
When the Lesson Is Kindness
As parents, we always worry about how well we are preparing our children for the world. Sometimes we are overly strict because we worry that if we’re not, our children won’t be able to deal with disappointment and responsibility as adults. As parents, we worry a lot about whether we are doing the right thing and making the right decisions for our children.
Brea Schmidt was at the carnival with her children one night. She already had her hands full, with her children being aged 5, 3 and 1, and she also works as a writer and photographer.
That night her daughter was trying desperately to win a doll. She tried and tried, asking sweetly and politely for another dollar every time she lost. Finally, Brea said that they had to stop. She wasn’t trying to hurt her daughter’s feelings, but it was an exercise in frustration. She knew that you don’t always get what you want, and she was planning on discussing that with her poor child.
The Kindness of a Stranger
The 5-year-old girl was not being a gracious loser. Instead, she was sobbing, Probably already tired from her day having fun at the carnival, she couldn’t hide how sad she was that she hadn’t been able to win the cute little pink Princess Poppy doll.
A stranger intervened at that point, wanting to help. Even though she couldn’t control the game of chance, she offered to make one more try to help the little girl win her prize. The lady told the little girl that she had a dollar and she was going to try to win for her.
She paid her dollar for the three tickets and sure enough opened a winning ticket. Immediately, she gave the child the prize. Even though she was exhausted, the child was elated from being able to have the doll she so treasured.
We Are A Community
Many people would object to having someone come up and interfere with a private moment, especially one so fraught with emotion. Brea Schmidt knew that some people might feel that way, but she looked at the lady’s gesture as an even better kind of lesson.
The lesson was simple kindness, and Brea’s daughter learned that night that she and her family weren’t alone in the world. When she was having a bad time, a total stranger came up and tried to make things better for her. She gave her own money just to make a stranger happy. And she was obviously glad to do it.
When children are very young, they have trouble learning to share. Even those with brothers and sisters often feel threatened by the others, wanting their parents and playthings to themselves. Babies try to get all the attention and become more able to be generous as they get older.
Teaching our children to be so open and generous with their hearts is one of the hardest lessons. Brea’s little girl will never forget the kind stranger who gave her a lesson in kindness that night.
Turkey & Dressing With A Side of Hope and Happiness
Do You Smell Pumpkin Pie?
If you live in Massachusetts or Rhode Island and happen to catch a whiff of holiday cheer while passing a slightly weathered station wagon, you’ve just encountered Ty and Vicky Shen.
This father and daughter team have become local heroes, especially around the holidays, since they began delivering hot, healthy meals across the state in 2001. They love the open road, but the real joy is in the reaction they receive from those they serve.
They’re not in this alone. The Shens are only one of the teams regularly volunteering with Community Servings, a Massachusetts non-profit food program which specializes in modified meals for families and individuals with specific medical restrictions or other needs, often due to severe or chronic illnesses. That means the Shens and other volunteers reach households often unserved by similar programs because their needs are so specific.
Of course, neither the Shens nor Community Services forget about the families and caregivers involved. Every spouse, in-law, nurse, and child receives their own hot holiday meal.
The extra time and effort is more than worth it, they assure us.
“Those who can help, should,” says Ty. “Regardless if it’s time or other resources, helping our fellow man is our responsibility.” Vicky seems to agree.
“Volunteering with my dad is one of my favorite things to do,” she says. “I get to spend time with him, and the people at Community Servings are so wonderful. Most importantly, it feels great to do something on a daily basis helps people’s lives be a little bit better.”
Bringing It Together
Food is more than an essential requirement for life. It often means security, and comfort. Sometimes it represents plenty, but even in humble circumstances it can facilitate a sense unity and thanks.
“One of the most important elements of the holidays this time of year is togetherness,” says a representative from Community Services. “Sharing a meal has been a demonstration of trust, intimacy, and togetherness over the centuries and across cultures.”
That togetherness doesn’t just start when meals are delivered; it’s part of the process from the very beginning. Community Services volunteers prepare each dish on site, paying careful attention to the different restrictions and dietary needs they’ll be serving that day. Teams like the Shens spend most of their time delivering, but they’re no strangers to peeling potatoes or chopping cabbage or even – in a pinch – stuffing a bird or two.
It’s an enormous undertaking each and every time, but what determines whether or not it’s enjoyable work is the people involved, and the mindset they bring to the task. And most of the time, that makes Community Services as much of a family as those they serve during the holidays and throughout the year.
“Each year, our volunteers give more than 55,000 hours of service, which is the equivalent to almost 30 full time employees,” says David Waters, CEO of Community Servings. “There’s no way we could do any of this without their passion and their commitment.”
That passion and commitment are quickly driving Community Services towards their eight millionth meal. That’s right – eight with six zeroes after it! But the Shens, like most of those involved, don’t think of it in terms of the millions, or even the thousands of meals prepared and delivered each day.
To them, it’s always about the next door opened. The next family served. The next face smiling in recognition and appreciation. It’s always about the one at a time.
And as long as it’s up to the Shens, it always will be.
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