What is courage? This question came to me when two teenage girls were standing outside our booth at the farmers’ market. It was obvious that they wanted to come in but couldn’t seem to do it without some encouragement. They did come in, after I invited them while smiling and saying that I didn’t bite but did sometimes offend people. We had a good time together and I think they’ll be back.
Is courage a lack of fear? An overwhelming curiosity? A clear sense of purpose? A desire to be a part of something?
The answer is probably different for every person and situation. But I think it would be beneficial if we could figure out where and why our kids display courage. It could tell us a lot about them and about us.
April showers bring May flowers…and June or July veggies!
We haven’t had a garden in YEARS! The yard in our first house was full of fruit trees and vegetable garden as that is how I grew up. Grandpa’s parents always had a garden too. Once the kids were in college and we began traveling a lot, gardening didn’t work for us. We’d plant and water, then everything would go to seed while we were away from home. This year is different. Our traveling days are pretty much over and we’ve adopted a dog that ties us down. So, I’ve got seedlings on my windowsill awaiting a few more weeks before they are transplanted into a sunny spot by our garage.
Having the kids start a garden is a really good idea. Watering and weeding are good for teaching responsibility and picking and eating are a tasty reward. A garden can be a whole yard, or just a few pots. Here’s one we did with our local grandchild several year ago:
Get those seed started now!
What if we can’t put the puzzle together? What can we do when we see a “puzzle” but do not have the skills or experience to put together a process or to match people to roles or to know how stuff fits together or to combine multiple ideas into one consistent worldview? None of us is good at all those things. But I believe that if we see a puzzle, we do have some responsibility to help solve it. Sometimes we fulfill that responsibility by voting. Sometimes our part is to share the puzzle with others who have the skills/experience. When all else fails (and even better before we try to solve the puzzle) we can get down on our knees and ask for God’s wisdom and action.
So, how do we teach our kids to do what we know we should do when it comes to the puzzles in our lives? I think this begins with the open acknowledgement that we don’t know all the answers/solutions to the puzzles we see. It continues with overflowing praise for those who do have skills/experience that we do not have. It is modeled as we pass our unsolved puzzles on to others and to God.
I think this is the last of my pondering on puzzling. How are you handling your puzzles?
One of the hardest things in life is puzzling over how words and ideas fit together. Writers throughout the ages have taken their time looking for just the right words to convey their thoughts and emotions. Philosophers have struggled with how to put ideas together. The rest of us “normal” people try to understand those who seem to know all the answers.
Learning how to think, how to put idea pieces together, is a life-long process. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t intentionally practice or teach it. The struggle starts early with things like:
Why should I eat something I don’t want to eat? How do I communicate that?
Why should I stop doing something that I think is fun?
The struggle continues for us as we grow:
How do my thoughts about pro-life, the death penalty,
and the homeless fit together?
What do I say to someone who has hurt me?
Think, learn, and teach some skills about the words/ideas in your life’s puzzle. Ask yourself questions as to why you think your words/ideas are valid. Talk with your family about their words/ideas with a focus on how they fit or don’t fit with other words/ideas and why.
As we work to put our own words/ideas together with other’s words/ideas, we really need to watch our attitude. Perhaps one way to be more aware is to play the BEATITUDE bingo game. You’ll find it here, along with other BEATITUDE lessons and activities.
When working on a jigsaw puzzle, my family has a process. We start by sorting the pieces to find all the straight edged pieces. With the outside edge of the puzzle completed, we know that the rest of the pieces go inside it. However, finding the right place for a particular puzzle piece can be a challenge, even when you know it goes inside the “frame”. How our stuff goes together can be “hands on”, working through trial and error, or it can be a mental exercise. I like to tackle the blue sky first in a jigsaw puzzle. With no texture, that is usually a process of trial and error for me. My sister-in-law likes to place pieces by comparing them to the actual puzzle picture, making it more of a mental process.
Knowing where things go within a space is called “spatial awareness”. Some of our family members were blessed with this skill from birth. They just seem to know how things go together. Others have trouble deciding where to put the sofa.
Spatial awareness can be practiced and learned. Children begin to learn this skill with blocks and other toys. Lockers, backpacks, drawers, and suitcases give older children opportunities to practice this skill.
Think, learn, and teach some skills about the placement of things in your life’s puzzle. Ask yourself questions as to why you put things where you put them. Talk with your family about their things with a focus on how they are put together, stored, and used.
One of our grandsons was putting together complex puzzles at a very early age. We used a picture of him in a tee shirt design about puzzling. Here’s a link to that:
As I’ve said, I come from a puzzling family! One of the things we puzzle about is people. My Dad was a minister. One of his jobs was involving and putting people together toward a common goal or mission. As most of us are not hermits, we practice the skills needed for putting people puzzles together every day.
We have a lemon tree that produces abundantly. When the family gets together during lemon harvesting time, we have to decide who does what. Lemons need to be picked and the tree is usually pruned back at the same time. Buckets of lemons need to be transported and washed. Lemons need to be cut and placed so they can quickly be squeezed. Some lemons need to be “zested”. Garbage needs to be taken out and juice needs to be packaged and frozen. We’ve found that there is a place for everyone from toddler to grandparent on “Lemon Day”. Knowing the process is different from knowing where to place the people in the process.
Think, learn, and teach some skills about the placement of people in your life’s puzzle. Ask yourself questions as to why you ask certain people for specific things. Talk with your family about their various daily tasks and chores with a focus on the people who assist them.
One way to practice your people skills is to write and perform a skit. Who is best for which roles? The link below might give you some ideas.
I come from a puzzling family, in more ways than one! But then, you do too. Life is a puzzle and we all have skills in different areas of how to put things together. Grandpa says one of my skills is process, how to get from A to D. Working a process puzzle can be “hands on” (making samples and working through trial and error) or it can be a mental exercise.
Although we might be blessed at birth with an advantage in this area, process puzzling skills can be practiced and learned. How?…by following and/or making directions or working through the concept of sequencing. We still have a set of sequencing puzzle cards. By putting 12 pictures in order, you have to think about what happens during: a day at the beach; an autumn day in the yard; a day of house painting; and a day in the snow. You probably don’t need sequence cards to talk about what you do first when you clean your room or make your bed, but you could make some if that helps get the task done. Some processes might be variable. What do you eat first and why? Some processes are more fixed. Do you straighten the bedspread before or after you straighten the sheets?
Think, learn, and teach skills about process. Ask yourself questions as to why you do things in the order you do. Talk with your family about their various daily tasks and chores with a focus on process.
Working on Draw with Grandma helped me a whole lot with the process of drawing. What comes first, the foreground or the background? The skills of following directions and sequencing are also strengthened as we draw together. If you’d like to see some samples, go to this link and scroll down.
I bet you can finish the quote! (It’s from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.)
At a recent farmer’s market (we regularly have a booth) a mom and her daughter came in to visit. The mom found a small makeup bag that I had made from my scraps and bought it for her little girl. She shared that when she (the mom) puts on her makeup, her little girl likes to “put hers on” too. Some of us look in the mirror to find out who/what we want to be like. Some of us watch others to see who/what we want to be like. Who are you watching and who is watching you?
“Two-zle Day” is about a family that is learning to walk through their days together. You’ll find it here:
Does anyone else remember the days of NOTES rather than TEXTS? Although I admit I am not good at either, I do have a family legacy of communication. My dad learned from his father to send a weekly letter updating the family news. (Perhaps that was common with the big families of olden days?) There is something about handwritten communication that pulls at the heart and brings people together. Of course, when email came into being, it became much less expensive and quicker to digitize communication, especially over the miles. But what about those who are near us? What about those in our own home? A note hidden in a pocket, included in a lunch box, or left on a mirror or pillow are great ways to express our thoughts. For young kids, discovering a drawn heart or happy face can make a big difference in their day. Here’s a note we got recently:
“Parents deserve to earn time and a half.
There must be times you just sit back and laugh.
I’m glad I can call you when I make a gaffe.
The ways kids goof up, you can’t choreograph!
You put all the notes where they go on the staff.
Hope this card shows true gratefulness on my behalf.”
There are many ways to express your thoughts and encourage others. The important thing is to DO IT!
For your inspiration, here’s a link to a song I wrote and sang to my physical therapist.
One of the fun things I get to do at our farmers’ market booth is to ask kids to identify what my button magnets look like. Sometimes after doing this, a parent or grandparent will ask the child to choose one to take home. One recent child was having a hard time choosing. I was so impressed that her mom knew just what to do to help her make a choice. “If the choice were a flower or a butterfly, which would you choose?” “If the choice were a butterfly or a turtle, what would you choose?” “If the choice were a turtle or a bear, what would you choose?” “If the choice were a….” Each time the child found it easy to make a choice. As she got toward the end of the choices, mom repeated some of the choices with the latest choice. Finally, she said, “It looks like you’d like a pig. Is that right?” Sure enough, the child chose a cute little pig with a pink nose and ears.
I remember my father-in-law saying that one hard part of living so long is that there have become so many choices. I agree! Whether we are helping someone else make a choice or we are trying to make one for ourselves, perhaps narrowing down the choices is a good way to make decisions. I’m planning on trying this process for my next challenging decision.
Who can find their way from the manger to the cross?
Also, try making a manger scene by cutting paper or tearing paper.
Tape them in the window for a silhouette display.
For most of us, holidays are a time to think about HOME. What emotion or picture do you get when you think of going or being home? I am quite fortunate. “Home” brings a smile and a warm, cared for feeling. It is a place I want to be. For those of you who do not have those same feelings, I pray that you will be able to establish “home” where both you and others can feel safe, welcomed, and comforted.
During the holidays we can become overly concerned with décor, food, gifts, and getting everything just right. Please remember that these things are not the goal. The goal is “home”.
Like…growing up. There is a reason that we take pictures and make memory books. So much happens in so few years! As you prepare to celebrate the coming holidays, I hope you are ready to celebrate the people and milestones around you. Such wonderful gifts!
This year, I would like to celebrate the concept of family stories. We all have them…the ones we smile at and the ones that bring tears to our eyes. It is so important to pass them on!
With much JOY, I want to acknowledge the concept of family stories with a NEW BOOK. It is called “WORM CAKES”. In its 79 pages, “WORM CAKES” covers the life of “Cassie” from the age of 2 until her first child’s 2nd birthday. It is still a children’s book, filled with colorful pictures and recipes, but one that is meant to grow with you over the years as you celebrate milestones together.
This holiday season, ask for stories and enjoy listening to them. If you’ve heard them before, ask questions that take you and the storyteller deeper into your family’s history. Learning from the past will help build your future.
I met a friend who had just taken their son to college the previous month. She said they’d taken a walk together last night. WHAT?!?!? Turns out, they had established a relationship pattern while he was still at home by taking a walk together several evenings each week. Normally, her son wasn’t a big talker. But when walking, he would chat about the little and big things that were happening in his life. Now that he is away at college, he still walks with his mom via headphones and cellphones. What joy!
Is there something about walking and not sitting face to face that makes us more open to communicate? This kind of a walk is something along the lines of a “date night” with your spouse or kids. But if you find that communication is not as free flowing as you’d like on your “date” night, try taking a walk instead….or walking to and from your “date” place.
I just love talking to parents and grandparents. They have great ideas and examples of how to build relationships!
We have more than we need. I am sure of this because of the existence of thrift stores and garbage cans. So, why not set up a challenge for your family concerning costumes? You could choose to only use things already in your house. (Permission needed, of course!) You could set a dollar limit or pick a particular thrift store to shop at. You could choose a theme. Think about it and make your family costume challenge doable and exciting.
One year we spent October with our kids. Before we left for their house, they requested that we come up with an idea for ninja costumes. After checking their closets for black socks, t’s, gloves, and pants, we headed to the thrift store to complete what we couldn’t find. (Our sweet granddaughter was a pink ninja!) We learned how to use t’s to cover their heads. I was able to complete their outfits by making some vests out of vinyl.
Bathrobes, belts, ties, and towels have also been regular parts of dress up around our house. Cardboard boxes of all sizes are also useful.
Begin your costume challenge early and encourage and help one another with ideas, materials, and skills.
If you celebrate dressing up and don’t have a special book about it yet, check out Grandma’s “You are NOT a Bare Bear”.
Shapes are all around us! The question is, do we see them? If we see them, what can we do with them?
As I am an upcycler, I cringe at the thought of throwing something away because it is “useless.” So, buttons have always been a challenge for me. What do you do with them that is useful? My first answer was flower magnets. After a while I began to explore more shapes that I could make with buttons.
Learn about shapes and what they are called. Experiment with shapes! What can you make out of circles? Add some triangles or boxes or ovals. Look at pictures in your coloring books. Can you recognize any shapes in those pictures? Draw with Grandma can help you learn shapes. Shape bingo games can help too.
It has been a quiet month at our house. I was the first to come down with the current covid virus, with Grandpa coming down the following week. God granted us that timing so that we could take care of each other. It isn’t very hard for 2 old people to lay around and watch tv while sick. We were in our own home and had the help of our neighbors and nearby family.
The bigger challenge was for our kids and grands this last month. They were “confined to quarters” for about 2 weeks when they were all healthy. What do you do when isolated in 2 hotel rooms, away from home, with no room service, and you are not sick? Fortunately, they were able to order take-out food. They also had the internet, tv, and some books. But, they were “bouncing off the walls” mentally and physically. They did crafts from the odds and ends of things found in hotel rooms and created games with materials that the take-out food was packed in. Weekly devotions became daily devotions. Exercise became jogging in place, pushups, and wrestling matches.
What have we learned? First, it does take time to regain physical strength after covid. Second, we can (and should!) be more adaptable than we want to be. Third, we are very blessed to be able to grow through challenges.
What would you do if life as you know it was interrupted? One of my favorite book series is “The Restoration Series” by Terri Blackstock. It consists of 4 books: “The Last Light” – “Night Light” – “True Light” – “Dawn’s Light”. These are not children’s books. They are adult novels that challenge me as they deal with circumstances beyond our control that interrupt our pampered lifestyle. For those of you who want more than that, you’ll also find some romance and murder mysteries in these books.
Grandpa and I have been selling mygrandmatime materials and Grandma’s crafts at local farmers’ markets. This summer a group of day care kids and their leader came into our booth. It was obviously a planned outing. Parents had given each of the kids $5 to spend. “What do you have for $5?” was the question of the day as they entered each booth. Many of the produce vendors offered them samples of their products. We were able to give the kids free bracelet kits after giving them a “tour” of products under $5. A few said, “I wish this was $5.” They were all well behaved, curious, and respectful. As the kids walked back toward their car, I heard one of them say “We are RICH kids!” Their leader agreed with them.
What are your kids learning about money? What would they spend their $5 on? How would they interact in a sales environment? What opportunities are you giving them to learn?
You might find some helpful resources here as you learn and teach about money:
Believe it or not, summer is almost over!…and we need to get a head-start on what’s coming up for school. But, that doesn’t have to mean we can’t have fun doing it! The younger set can enjoy BINGO while learning their shapes, colors, and animal and alphabet sounds. The older set can become more bilingual (add your own language to the “picture only” games) by playing BINGO. You can also make your own bingo cards to learn about your family or a topic/idea that is challenging for you.
I love talking to grandparents! They give me so many ideas on how to relate to and grow their grandchildren. One recent idea was to do a scavenger hunt. This takes some advance preparation if you are going to ensure both safety and success. Check out things that the kids can look for and find within a limited area. Give a list of those things to the kids and clarify the area in which they can be found. (A “picture list” could be used for younger children who cannot read.) Ask the kids to take a picture of the items rather than pick them up to bring them back to you. This works well as most kids know how to operate a cell phone camera. Because none of the items is touched or moved, each child has the opportunity to find all the items. You may want to set a time limit…or not. You can also help, give hints, or even take the actual pictures for a younger child. As the planner, you can place items to be “found” and/or you can put items natural to the environment on the list. Once you’ve played this challenge out, turn the organization of the next round of play over to the kids. Let them make the list and determine the area and have you find the items on the list. Better yet, try this “game” with their friends and neighbors!
Still need something to do this summer? We have some “scientific minds” in our family that are thrilled with the joyful exuberance of Dustin (Get Smarter Every Day) as he performs experiments and explores ideas. His videos might give you ideas for experiments that you might like to do. Dustin’s videos range from the complex (adult minds) to simpler things, like explosions (think 4th of July!) and factory tours. There’s really something amazing for everyone!
Some people do a family campout during the summer, but what about a family cleanout? Pick a room, the garage, the yard or just a toy box or drawer to clean or redecorate.
I’ve often thought it would be nice to have one totally empty room in my house so that I could clean it (yes, an empty room still needs cleaning) and then clean and sort through items as I transfer them into the “clean, empty” room. With the “old” room now empty, it would be easier to clean. 😊
But, life doesn’t work that way. We tend to fill an empty space, so a deep clean takes time and intention.
Combine your cleaning with a garage or yard sale and perhaps a lemonade or snack stand. Better yet, invite your neighbors to join you and have a block sale.
OK, so summer is now here. Are your plans ready? Are you prepared?
If not, here’s a last-minute plan for the entire summer. DRAW WITH GRANDMA (ages 4 to adult) has enough artwork for you to do one drawing each day for the entire summer. It is a great way to learn about shapes, colors, and the alphabet, as well as learning about what you are drawing. We have put the entire set of drawings (along with our learn-to-read materials) on our membership site, which is $30 for a lifetime membership. The following link will take you to a page with some samples (scroll to the bottom of the page) to give you an idea as to whether DRAW WITH GRANDMA will work for you this summer. https://mygrandmatime.com/3019-2/visit-with-grandma/learn-with-grandma/draw-with-grandma/
Summer vacation is still about 2 weeks away. Have you asked yourself and those around you questions about expectations for the summer?
Here’s another idea that can be scaled from youngsters to oldsters. Make a family video or perform a family play or a family dance. (I had a very pleasant time pulling weeds in my front yard recently while a group of “kids” down the street did line dancing in their driveway!) As a family, we’ve done a bit of everything, with adults and kids writing and directing both short and longer stories, using both live action and puppetry. We’ve even done some “commercials.” The goal is sometimes spontaneous fun and other times is more focused on the end product.
Here’s a link to our family video page: https://mygrandmatime.com/3019-2/visit-with-grandma/learn-with-grandma/make-a-skit/
And you will find some more of our family videos on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/mygrandmatime/videos
May they inspire you!
Summer is coming!!!…and that means we all have the opportunity of changing our daily habits. Be inspired by the article noted below to make reading with someone part of your summer and plan to continue that reading habit when school starts again in the fall. As noted in the article, read TO babies and old people, and read WITH anyone else. Don’t forget to plan field trips to the library!
If you need reading materials for the younger set, check out Grandma’s books at:
P.S. My mom does her daily Bible reading aloud to her dog. Her audiologist recommends reading aloud for people who live alone. Oral reading is important!
We’ve just spent some time with my mom. My mom is a “together” woman. At almost 96 years old she still has a sound mind, a joyful spirit, and a determined attitude to serve those around her with love and grace despite any physical challenges. We have a hard time getting her to let us cook or clean or do the dishes when we are at her house. Yet, she has failings. One of them is that she usually forgets to put napkins on the table. It is one of our long-term family “jokes” to comment on that. We celebrate when she remembers and smile together when she doesn’t. We also get up to get the napkins if she’s already settled into her seat.
I think I have more failings than my mom, and they are growing and expanding with age. Laughing through them reminds us that we are all human. We all have faults to work through and our public acknowledgement of them can bring the support and help of our family and the community around us. It is good for our kids to see us joyfully and humbly admitting to them.
Creative people bring so much to our lives. We are part of a group that has met together for years. Covid forced that gathering to zoom for way too long. Meeting again in person has been a treat. At a recent gathering, a friend’s car was having battery trouble and was put on a charger during our time together. We had sympathy for them, until… on our drive home our car had similar issues. That’s when the creativity started to flow. Was their car contagious? Was a car virus going around? One of our group wrote the following:
“We felt safe getting together in person but gave no thought to the possibility that our cars might not be ready. Sorry to hear that both of your cars have the latest Batt-22 variant of the covid-19. You can order the latest car masks (called car bras) on Amazon. Let’s hope you won’t need a new ventilator (cabin filter). Better wash your car often and quarantine at home for a few weeks and things should return to normal. If you need a defibrillator for a quick start let me know as I have a charger and cables.”
Creativity combined with JOY can make your day and life go better. I read somewhere that instead of seeing a glass half empty or half full, you should notice that there is more in the pitcher.
What’s in your pitcher?
The reasons I usually “upcycle” are:
convenience-because it is there, so why not?
challenge-it is fun to be creative
crucial-something else is needed
Here’s another reason:
community-to build relationships.
One way to build relationships is to do the upcycling together. A project done together can bring the benefits of a new item and a deeper relationship. (I realize that not everyone is this way, but my relationships deepen when “doing together” is part of them.) The other way to build relationships is to use the upcycled item together. I have recently made a video of two upcycling (fabric scrap) projects that you can share. The potholders can be used as you work together in the kitchen and the bathtub buddies will enable you to talk and play in, out, or around your daily cleaning or bathing activities.
Let’s keep our eyes, heads, hands, and hearts aware, so that we can make the most of the things and relationships around us!
You should know by now that my friends and neighbors give me stuff, assuming I can use it in some way. This started years ago when I was collecting things for our after-school kids’ klub at church. Then, it went well beyond what we needed for those sessions. One friend heard that people were giving me old jeans. That friend, reluctantly, told me that I wouldn’t want any from their family, particularly because her husband wore his jeans until there was almost nothing left but the waistband. I received several pairs of jeans from her and was able to make the project noted below from them.
So, I guess you could say that her husband inspired this brief note from an old pair of jeans that I know:
“We used to go everywhere together!…work, shopping, restaurants, church… At some point, you still liked me, but didn’t want to be seen in public with me. That was hard for me to understand. Yes, we’d still hang out in the garage or backyard together, but I wasn’t good enough to be around your friends anymore. When you sent me away, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me. An old lady picked me up off her front steps, where you had left me, and wanted to take me into her home. I agreed because she said she would change me so that you wouldn’t be embarrassed when I was around you and your friends. It took her quite a while, and I can tell you that she really tore me apart at times. But, here I am, back again with you. I hope you love the “new me” and I look forward to our together times again.”
UP-cycling jeans is a fun thing for me to do. After cutting them apart, there is no limit as to what they can become. When saying “You have the potential” to a person, rather than old clothes, we need to remember to be there for them during the putting together part of the process.
You will find a video on how to make a denim hot pad if you click here.
There are things and experiences in our lives that accumulate. As I previously mentioned, we need to decide if those things remain the same, get up-cycled, or get trashed. Recently, Grandpa pointed out that my stack of ice cream tubs, which had ended up on his side of our bed, were about to fall over on him. (I’m not really that much of a packrat! It’s just that we have family in the house right now.) I was faced with the question of “What is the potential of these tubs?” Should I throw them out or is there another option? I was able to figure out something other than throwing them away that also used up some of my fabric scraps. Grandpa liked the result so much that he asked me to make them for neighbors, friends, and family for Christmas. You will find my project and the poem/s I wrote to accompany it if you click here.
The older I get the more I realize that if I can’t figure out a way to use my stuff and my experience/s for good, then I need to give things away and/or leave the past behind me. Is there something you need to face and make a decision about? Work out your challenges and solutions with those around you! Perhaps they can learn from your example, which is a wonderful way to UP-cycle!
I have always called myself a “recycler.” Leftover food and nearly empty jars of condiments disappear as I reuse them in the next day’s menu. Old clothes have the “good parts” stripped of them before they get put in the trash. Little things that fall off big things get put in the “odd and ends” drawer in case they’ll be useful somewhere else. Sounds like recycling to me. But, Grandpa is trying to get me to change my self-description. He says that I am an UP-cycler more than I am a RE-cycler. Being an up-cycler is the “hot” thing when it comes to crafting. When you up-cycle you take something that isn’t wanted or needed and make it useful and/or more beautiful. This is a natural desire for me when it comes to “stuff.” It is fairly easy for me to say, “This has the potential for…..,” when it is about stuff or ideas.
But, what about people? How do I see them when it comes to potential? As a mother and grandmother, I have always tried to be aware of areas of growth for my kids and grandkids and done my best to help. Are there other people for whom I should be saying, “They have the potential to….,” and lending my heart and hands to encourage them?
And then, because of the New Year and our traditions of wanting to make changes, I have to think of my own potential. What should I be stepping into? What is holding me back?
Perhaps the thing that is most challenging to me is that the answer to “What is the potential?” could be the round filing cabinet, better known as the trash can. There are things and ideas that we should give up on. It is often hard for me to let go and move on.
However, people are never to be given up on. Even when we are not in a position to interact with them, we have the potential to pray for them, their good, and their growth.
The next few times you will hear from me will highlight some of the “stuff” that I have learned to up-cycle. When you see them, I pray that you will be reminded to consider the potential in the people and things around you.
How are your spelling skills? I have found it challenging and fun to draw a picture of something using the letters in its name. I started doing this several years ago when a class I volunteered in needed to spell “Leprechaun.” I’ve done several more spelling pictures since. Here’s an easy one for you to try:
DRAW WITH GRANDMA
Sometimes I try to “doodle” an idea. This one came from the phrase “Trash to treasure.” Can you find the letters “T-r-a-s-h” in my doodles?
Our family has always enjoyed the “hidden pictures” in the Highlights Magazine. This is variation on that idea. If you are looking for a game, challenge, or learning activity for your child, family, or group… ILLUSTRATE!
Which family traditions are you going to continue? Are there any new traditions that you would like to start? We recently talked to a lady who began a tradition when her daughter was born. Each Christmas she would give her daughter both an ornament and a letter written from a mother’s heart. Her daughter is now in her mid 30’s and still anticipates these things each year from her mom. One of our traditions is to leave a gift on the doorsteps of our neighbors. We would love to hear about your traditions surrounding Christmas. Hit “reply” to this email and tell us about them. We’ll share some of your ideas this coming year.
One tradition that we do not skip is to honor Jesus’s birthday. His coming is the “WHY?” behind our family’s Christmas celebrations and traditions. We have several things on our website that might help you in your celebrations of His birth:
Preschool Christmas Lessons Family Advent Activity
Christmas Games Ideas for sharing with others
Family and Church lesson plans
Remember that spending money and busyness is not the point of any holiday. Spend time honoring the relationships around you and be thankful for the blessings that you have received. Not only will you be MERRY, but those around you will be MERRY too!
I pray that you will have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!…ALL YEAR ROUND!
My father used to say, “A nut never falls far from the tree.” He usually was referring to our family. I think he meant that we were crazy!..and fun! Our holidays usually mean lots of time with family, and family and relationships can get crazy! My brother recently sang a song about family relationships. No, my brother is not Ray Stevens, but I am giving you the link to the Ray Stevens song that my brother sang. (You see, relationships about who sang and who is who can get as confusing as family members can!) Anyway, I thought this song might make you smile AND perhaps confuse you…unless your family is crazy enough that you ARE you own Grandpa! Here’s the youtube link:
I’m My Own Grandpaw
So, how about drawing YOUR family tree during your family gathering?
We live in an area that has needed rain. The rain began today. Although it is not a heavy rain, it is enough to soak Grandpa as he goes on his 30-minute power walk. It is enough rain to dislodge some of the cobwebs, but not enough to tear them down. As I look out the window, I see droplets of water hanging on to a single strand of spider silk. They look like tiny bubbles bouncing in the wind. There is a regularity or consistency that underlies the uncertainty of life that allows us to hold on, to hope. That consistency allows us to mourn, to restore, and to go home again. It allows us to lift up our heads to accept blessing and see bounty. As you prepare for Thanksgiving, may you understand the source of joy.
I remember when dinosaurs were a BIG THING in the lives of our grandsons. I also remember a time when they were challenged to memorize a LONG and SILLY poem. Don’t tell them, but we’ll be reminding them of those “quirks” of their younger years with some poetry books about dinosaurs soon because we met a wonderfully sweet, silly, and talented man at the homeschool convention this year. You can check him and his works out here:
Poetry has never been my strong suit, but fun with puns and words is a legacy passed down from my father. 😊
Dinosaurs, however, were something that caught my attention because of our grandsons. In case you haven’t seen these videos yet, our grandsons early celebration days had a dinosaur theme:
Memories from the past continue to shape us. Talking about our memories helps enhance the benefit of learning from them.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
This is a must read for anyone who works with children. It is a hilarious book, which makes it a fun read for both adults and kids. But, for those of us who work with kids it gives us a keen insight into their world. What are their possible reactions to a story or information that they have never heard? What behaviors do we default to in dealing with their questions? How do our varied backgrounds effect the way we all interact with each other? There are so many deep lessons in this lighthearted book! Please read it!…and give it to your family and friends for Christmas!
Options for this book/story:
The whole book (the best option, in my opinion)- https://www.amazon.com/Best-Christmas-Pageant-Ever/dp/0064402754/
A shorter book via video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dcNWk36lIM
An old video version of the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icZwm6Aact8
The coming holidays mean GIFTS!,,,and that usually means WRAPPING PAPER. The bright colors and shiny finishes of commercial wrapping paper make a beautiful scene underneath the Christmas tree. If that is your goal, go for it! Holiday wrapping paper is probably already on the shelves ready for your purchase. However, if you want to save paper, save money, and reduce the load in the garbage can, begin now to think of alternatives for wrapping those gifts. In our leaner years, we sometimes made our own wrapping paper using newsprint, printed funnies, or butcher paper. Coloring or painting wrapping paper either before or after it is put on a gift is a great family activity. (Hint: Be sure your paint sticks to the paper before you do a lot of decoration work!) Grandma recently has found a use for her fabric scraps…treasure bags! They are great for wrapping presents and can be re-useable for years to come. Of course, you may ask which is the real gift – the wrapping or what’s inside it?
If you don’t sew, think about wrapping a gift in fabric instead of paper. The cost could be about the same, and the fabric would still be both beautiful and re-useable.
Halloween is not my favorite holiday. The dressing up is fun! But, the potential for greed and vandalism does exist. So, sometimes when our children were young we simply went to dinner and a movie on Halloween. There were other times when we participated in church or neighborhood activities on that night. With those ambivalent feelings, how did I come to write a book that ends with a Halloween celebration?
Well, one positive thing about Halloween is that it has the potential for talking about and building community and relationships. Why does the little bear in Grandma’s story want to wear something special when going out with friends? How do we see ourselves? Are costumes just for fun or is there a deeper meaning in them? The answers to these questions could be important.
In Grandma’s story, Bear has 11 animal friends and each of them wears their own unique costume. The illustrations are line drawings, artfully done in tone on tone, with just a splash of color. It is a beautiful and FUN book, IF you celebrate Halloween.
I was “surfing” through my computer the other day looking for files that I could save off or delete and ran across a video of our grandchildren watching a video. Their joy was evident as they watched the 3 stooges singing the swinging alphabet. We sang that song over and over again for months! It’s a great way to learn not only the sounds of the consonants, but also some of the vowel sounds.
Did you know that there is more than one way to sing the alphabet? When overseas we learned a different way to sing the alphabet song. Of course, there is still the traditional way to sing it with that curious LMNOP slurred together.
Grandma has put together tracing pages and simple songs that highlight the shapes and sounds of the letters in the alphabet, along with alphabet bingo and match games.
Whether you are helping a child or an adult prepare for reading English, there are many resources that can make learning a fun and memorable experience.
What’s in your attic? Is it still full of projects and artwork that your children did years ago? Why not revive some of those memories for your grandchildren/family? A neighbor of mine recently decided to turn one of her boy’s elementary projects into a book that she could share with her family. She had a steep learning curve when it came to drawing and formatting a book, but the work was well worth it when the book was completed. You can find her book here:
It’s a sweet story about a bear and hibernation. You can use it to learn about animal science. We’ve used Margie’s book in our life group to talk about what community looks like.
We did something similar, but with a book that was custom made within the family. CLYDE will be available free in kindle format through Tuesday, August 10:
Take a tour of your memory boxes or attic with your children or grandchildren. What letters would be interesting for them to read? What stories can you tell about the pictures or other items that you find? What do you want to throw out before anyone else in the family sees it?
Too often we forget about what we’ve set aside. It is there to help us build for the future.
I do not remember how I learned to count. It was a long time ago! I do know that I was an adult when I learned that my mother is a “counter” just like me. We count in our heads when we walk or when we water or when we whip or stir our recipes. That makes us a little like “Monk”, right? (“Monk” – a TV show from the years 2002-2009) You don’t necessarily want to teach children to count EVERYTHING, but getting an early start on counting is good. Start when they are young by counting their little “piggies” (toes) and their fingers. Several years back we made a song/video about counting to 20 using hands both small and large. Recently, I found some old video footage of a grandchild stacking and counting. These videos are on this page of our website:
How Many Fingers?
If you already know how to count in your native language, try learning to count in another language! You will also find videos on this page of our grandchildren as they count in a foreign language.
Counting can be a challenge, no matter what age you are! May these videos inspire you to have fun learning to count with those around you.
Grandpa and I have twice had the privilege of attending a grandparenting seminar. We had a sales booth but were also able to attend the seminar sessions. It was a HUGE blessing and an encouragement to be able to talk to others who wanted to grow in their relationships with their children and grandchildren. This year the same organization, Legacy Coalition, is hosting a national seminar in Alabama AND they have local churches around the U.S. who will host the same seminar via “satellite.” The dates are at the end of October. If you are interested, you can find more information here:
We have also been watching the GRAND MONDAY NIGHTS that are hosted by Legacy Coalition. These are free zoom sessions that occur weekly on Mondays from 5-6PM in our time zone. They are filled with encouragement and information for those of us who are grandparents. You get an advance email telling you what the topics are and who is the presenter so you can pick topics that are relevant to your situation. Registration is free at:
Not interested in these? What is offered locally for you that you could attend or do with your children or grandchildren? Summer is a great time to explore community classes, museums, sporting events, zoos, etc. Or, schedule regular walks, play dates, or zoom visits together. Spend time with them now before their schedule gets as busy or as settled as yours is!
Here’s something to think about if you are bored. We watched this stop motion Lego movie at our life group recently:
You could watch more of them….
OR, you could make up a story of your own and explore how to do the same thing with your own Legos or objects or clay. Here are some videos that I found that may help you with your ideas:
Such fun ideas! If you decide to try something, keep me posted!
(“Keep me posted” would be an old expression that, I assume, comes from the idea that you would mail or post a letter to let someone know what was happening or to keep them informed. It does not mean that you should somehow put me up on a post and shout at me or leave me there.)
June 11, 2021
Stacks! In my old age, I find myself surrounded by stacks! I remember as a child going into the “old” house, which was right next door to my grandparent’s “new” house. The “old” house was filled with stacks!!!…of everything!!! People who lived through the depression knew how to save things. My stacks are not quite so old, after all, we’ve been in this house for under 30 years. But, sometimes I feel like an archeologist who runs across a great discovery. I recently re-found a book that I have used often over the years at home, at school, and at church. This book uses fingerprints as the basis for artwork. Kids, young and old, love to find that their fingerprints can turn into all sorts of animals, plants, things, and people. The artist/author is Ed Emberley. The book that I have was published in 1977 and is called “Ed Emberley’s Great Thumbprint Drawing Book.” Mr. Emberley has authored a lot of books on art and has written and illustrated many children’s books.
Fingerprints are fun! Use them to illustrate stories or make a fun picture. It is a unique way to do something simple together.
School will soon be out. As I write this, we still don’t know how “normal” our summer will be. Will we be able to travel? Visit family? Will we need to spend time catching up on things? One thing I do know, we need to continue to do things that grow our relationships with each other. If we are honest, we know where we need to spend some time and effort. I urge you to follow through and make plans to address the needs you are aware of.
For our Bible friends – We often rely on special summer children’s programs or VBS to give our kids more depth in their relationship with God. If you still do not have access to those this summer, please check out our family Bible activities page. You will find lessons that you can share with your family, your neighbors, and your church. Three of our most popular lesson plans are: Beatitudes; Fruit of the Spirit; Ephesians/Armor of God. However, all of the lessons listed have a family component to them.
Most of these lessons are simple enough that your kids could lead them with a little help from you. Perhaps that would be a welcome opportunity this summer…
Although each of our families are different, we all get into habits of living. Those habits often change with the times and with needs as they arise.
I am an early riser, but it takes me a while in the morning to want to engage with others. When our kids were growing up, my husband would be on his way to work when it was time for the rest of us to get up. After opening doors, turning on lights, and, in general, being the alarm clock, I spent quiet time in the kitchen preparing breakfast while the kids got up. The wonderful part of that is that we usually had a really good breakfast. Years later, our “early to rise” grandchildren learned to sit on the couch with Grandpa and read books until breakfast was cooked and everyone was up and ready to eat. How do you say “good morning”? With a hug? A cup of coffee? The news? With a song?
Make your good habits memorable!
We made a “good morning” video, years ago, with two of our grandchildren. They are now both teenagers!
Good Morning to You
April 30, 2021
I saw this quote on a t shirt – “having a weird mom builds character!”
While cleaning and sorting I ran across an old neighborhood DVD that was made, years and years ago, as a mother’s day gift to all the mom’s on our street. We gathered all the girls together and recorded them saying things about mothers. We found some lists on the net and the girls added their own emotions and choreography. But, after recording all the complaining and whining about what mothers say and what they make us do, we asked the question, “So, who would you like to have as a mother?” To a girl, they all said, “MY MOM!”
It was 2 years ago that Grandpa’s mom left us for heaven. Her influence on my husband still shows, even after our 47 years of marriage.
Make plans to honor your mom for who she is/was and for who you are growing to be.
April 18, 2021
If you have ever looked through family pictures with your kids you will know how delighted they are to see themselves in print or on screen. Our children and grandchildren were (and still are!) not any different. One great way to show how much you love them is to put something about who they are and what they are learning into a book. If you need inspiration or help with that you might want to visit a website like this one: https://readwithmekids.com/ Although I have not used their software app, I like that they offer simple free services which you can use to make a simple e-book. There are charges for other services and for ordering both hard cover and soft cover books. Explore the site and see what you think.
I have used this software for some of my books: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201562880 The download is free, but the learning curve is higher. You can make an e-book for free and/or order and pay for a printed softcover book.
With the tools available today, we have come a long way from the cut and paste books we made when our children were small, although that may still be a good place to start. Take advantage special ways to connect with those around you!
For a look at some of our books, many of which were inspired by our grandchildren, go to: https://mygrandmatime.com/3019-2/shop-with-grandma/grandmas-books/