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.
While at the local farmer’s market we met a woman working on a new project that might interest you. She is putting together a regular e-subscription that encourages families and children in their love of fruits and vegetables. I’ve looked through the first (free) sample and there’s lots of good stuff there: information on fruits and veggies; games; recipes, etc. I think it might be of particular interest for those who have food allergies. You can look through the first edition (free) by entering your name and email on this site:
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/
We have much to mourn. I know that we are not the only ones who have felt the pressures of life during the season that is behind us. We have family that are no longer with us and our opportunities for service and fellowship have been severely limited. BUT, we also have much to celebrate. Do not let spring or Easter pass you by!
Click here to see my reflections on hope lost and hope found: HOPE
You will find a fun way to celebrate Easter here:
8 Days of Easter
While walking by a neighbor’s front yard we saw this lovely post. They gave us permission to take pictures.
We have a different kind of marker in front of our house. Our mailbox has the handprints of each of our kids and our grandkids.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to make a “marker” that is unique to your family? What would you put on your marker? Making a family marker could lead to some great discussions and crafting times!
Want to make a learning objective fun? Make a puzzle or game of it! Use today’s software tools to put your ideas into puzzles. After you’ve made a puzzle and shared it, have your kids make their own puzzles to share. They’ll learn by playing AND making puzzles. There are many sites that offer puzzle software free for our use. Here’s one that I have played with: http://puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/ With this software, if you right click on your puzzle you can copy and paste it to whatever word processing product you have. You can then print it or enhance it with other text or pictures.
There are also many puzzle making software options available for purchase. I have used this one for years to make puzzles for church, school, family, and business purposes. Once you get the hang of it, it is very easy to use. Currently it has a “lifetime” price of $30.
Puzzles are great for learning and for fun. You can make them as gifts too! They are a nice addition to any greeting card.
There is always a bit of a learning curve in every software program. Experiment with the software long enough to be able to ask a question in their “help” area and you should be able to master it. If not, ask a child to help you! 😊
One of my friends got a package from her daughter’s family this last Christmas. Not only was the gift a delight, but the packaging was as well. When the box was opened, instead of bubble wrap, my friend found crumpled paper. But, not just any paper. The crumpled papers were the result of her grandchildren’s artwork. You know, all those pages and pages that they go through as they use crayons and pencils and markers to explore shapes and colors and ideas in their heads and in their world. My friend spread out each piece of paper to enjoy before she even got to the “real” gift.
You don’t have to save this idea for Christmas. Set a box aside for artwork now and include some with each letter, card, or box you send. You will be enriching the lives of those you love. AND, think of the money you will save on bubble wrap!
I learn so much from my friends!
Are you or your kids having trouble digging into or memorizing a definition, poem, proverb, or Bible passage? Try what our friend did. Make a puzzle board! You can see hers below. Use icons, emojis, or pictures in place of words as you write out your passage. If memorization is your goal, remove words as you learn.
You know I love puzzles and they are wonderful for learning. You can put your own unique puzzle in a card, a homework packet, or use it for a family activity. Wouldn’t it be great to have the clues for a scavenger or treasure hunt done in cryptogram style ? Here’s a website that will help you make your own cryptograms:
We LOVE volunteering with kids! We learn and experience so much, both at home and in the classroom. Our special ED class is always “hands on!” because they ARE “hands on!” One of the things they love to do is to learn with shaving cream. You can put a bit of shaving cream on a table. (Optional – add a drop or two of food coloring) It is instant finger painting time! Draw a picture! Write a letter or a word. Cleanup is quick with a squeegee or a paper towel. NOTE: NOT FOR MOUTHS/EATING!!!
Why mention this now? Well, kids have been home for school and now they will be home for the holidays. What will be different? Get your whole family into crafting and gifting. If you don’t have any idea of what to do, go online and ask for ideas. You will find plenty of them that do not need a lot of extra supplies.
AND, as long as we are talking about shaving cream, make PUFF PAINT and use it to make some holiday greeting cards or picture gifts. It is amazing when it dries and fun to use. The basic recipe is simple: 1 part glue to 1 part shaving cream (optional food coloring) If you haven’t worked with this before, do an online search for “puff paint” or “glue and shaving cream crafts” for some fantastic, yet simple, recipes and ideas.
Days of fun are ahead, and shaving cream crafts are one of the easiest to clean up after. Finish off this trying year with a wonderful family flourish.
It wasn’t all that long ago that my mom was the “old” one and I was “young”. I remember when we went to mom’s house for a long visit and spent part of our visit cleaning and painting her laundry room. After we left, my brother came and installed a new back door. My sister lives nearby and regularly does garden work. Another brother made and installed a beautiful trellis. Doing these things with and for my mom were gifts that she appreciated and enjoys to this day. I also value the time and help of family and friends during our recent remodel of our laundry room. (See pics of our “new” laundry room below.) Gifts of time and help are VERY appreciated, especially as we have had such a long time apart due to the virus. As you plan towards Christmas gifts from yourself and your children, please keep that in mind. For a list of ideas go to:
Also, check out Grandma’s latest books. They would be wonderful gifts for your children’s school teachers. Amazon has been really slow with books lately, so order soon if you want books for Christmas!
It is November, and holidays are just around the corner. Holidays are times of tradition that help us focus on our blessings, our faith, and our values. One of my family’s traditions is to get reacquainted and to solve the world’s problems while doing a jigsaw puzzle at Grandma’s house. Two years ago, my mother challenged me to make a wreath out of the puzzles that were missing pieces. The first one we worked on together at a family reunion. Since then, I have made a LOT of them, both for gifts and for sale at mygrandmatime events. This year we have made a “how to” video for those of you who would like to try it. Putting together a jigsaw puzzle wreath is as, or more, relaxing as putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You can click on the picture below to see the “how to” video.
What traditions do you have around holidays? Are your traditions accomplishing what you intend? If not, is it time to start some new traditions?
This summer I had my 70th birthday, so I am thinking about “years”.
In just one year a child/grandchild can go from a thought to being held in my arms.
In another year they are walking and feeding themselves.
It takes about a year for a non-reader to turn into a reader.
A year of immersion in a new language can go a long way toward making you fluent in it.
In just one year I can build a deep, lasting relationship.
It takes me about a year to write, illustrate and publish a children’s book.
I’m old enough that it takes about a year to recover from a surgery. (That’s on my mind because I had 2 surgeries about a year ago.)
But, it doesn’t take long or much effort or thought to undo things. In fact, just leaving someone alone or something undone just makes it harder to address later.
The small, simple things that we do together build and deepen our lives and the lives of those around us. Keep your heart and your eyes and your schedule open for those opportunities.
If you need some ideas, check out Grandma’s “priceless gifts” page:
Do you ever feel torn about recommending something? Do you fear that someone might misuse or misunderstand your recommendation? That’s how I feel about the items below. Please look at these recommendations from the standpoint of ways to pass on values and faith in the context of both family and community.
“Front Porch Tales” by Philip Gulley – Although I do not agree theologically with all of Philip Gulley’s views (as noted in some of his books/reviews), this book is a treasure trove of family and community life wrapped up with a humorous bow. Many of the chapters end with a scriptural reference to tie together a Biblical principal or story with the daily lives of those whom Gulley writes about. The copy I have (Multnomah, 1997) is in large print, so it is a perfect gift or daily devotional for older people. Because this book was written when Gully’s children were young, it is also a wonderful book for new parents. The chapters are short and the stories are engaging and insightful.
“The Cosby Show” – Although I am appalled at many of Bill Cosby’s life choices, this old television series is a wonderful view of how to engage as a family. We still enjoy it, along with “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Dee Henderson books – Up until her most recent books, Dee Henderson wrote books that did a great job of combining mystery, romance, family, and practical ways to communicate the Christian faith. I have a complete set of her older books that I regularly reread and often lend out to friends. However, I do not recommend her most recent books.
Why do I take the chance to make these recommendations? Well, there are plenty of people in the Bible who were significant….but still sinners. They often only got things partially right, yet God has given us the challenge to sort through their lives to find and honor Him. And, perhaps also, because I can still hear my Dad saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!”
How can YOU help?
School has begun, and we all want to help our kids/students. Teachers, parents, and grandparents are all working to figure out what students already know and what they need to learn next. We should work together! So here are a few ideas that might help.
- Find out what is expected of your student/child this coming year in an area in which you either are already competent or are willing to learn. One example of how to do that would be to use this website https://www.mathplayground.com which has activities based on grade levels. (I recommend this website because it is a favorite of our grandchildren.) You can use the information you find with your child/student or as a reference for what you can do together.
- Make/do things together that support what they are learning. One idea for math would be to use a scrap of wood and some nails to make a math/shape grid like the ones pictured below. Use them to add, subtract, divide, multiply, and do fractions and shapes. (Alert – supervise rubber band use!)
- Search online for student/family games and activities that support their learning and do them together. For example, go to: https://mygrandmatime.com/ And type “math” in the search bar.
- ASK parents/teachers/students how you can help. Sometimes it is with a “break.” For example: We sometimes fix lunch and set up a favorite TV show for our grandchildren to enjoy between their online classes. We have read a book or, when possible, helped in a classroom on either a regular basis or for a particular function. Sometimes there are before school or after school needs that you might be able to help with.
Ask, be aware, be prepared. These are important times for your child/student. They’ll grow, and you will too!
We have now been through 12 weeks with our grandkids and the corona virus in China. So, we’ll share with you some of the things our friends have done to ease the burden and the boredom. Here’s one for this week – MAKE A FORT! Inside and/or outside, a fort can be a place of play and of comfort and it can be made out of an amazing variety of things. It can be changed every day to adapt to the needs of the family. Share pics of what you do with your friends and family to inspire and entertain them.
You know that friends change your life, for better or for worse. You can be challenged, encouraged, and led to goodness by those who are around you. (We’ll leave the “worse” possibilities for your own analysis!) I have a friend that abounds in creative energy and good humor. She is in our life group. She has given me permission to put one of her Bible “skits” up on our website. You will find it here:
For a list of all our skits, click here:
And, I am either very late or very early with another Bible resource. We were all hampered in our Easter celebrations this year because of the virus. In our neighborhood, we were able to have a “non-gathering” in our cul-de-sac. We came up with a lesson plan that actively walked us through the 8 days of Easter week. You may want to use this for a small group, family devotionals, or a class lesson next year. When we did it, each family brought their own props. You will find that lesson here:
More of our free Bible lessons are found here:
I am very thankful for great friends and wonderful neighbors!
MAKE A MASK
Is a mask helpful in reducing your chances of getting sick? Yes! But we have found most of the benefit comes from not touching your mouth or nose. Our hands are constantly on things, including our faces, and it is often our hands that transfer germs. Wearing a mask on a regular basis can help teach new physical habits. Do you chew your pencil when you do your homework? Or, do you chew your fingernails when you watch TV? A mask can help with that. If you wear a mask often enough, you may catch yourself trying to eat with it on. That happened to Grandpa just a few days ago when we were finally able to eat out at the mall.
Grandpa trying to eat a cookie with his mask on.
Your family challenge is to make some kind of mask. You can see from the photo below (yes, real people on the subway!) that people can get very creative when it comes to safety masks. Your masks do not have to be safety masks, but if they are you may want to use a pattern like this one which my wonderful neighbor sent me:
On a practical note, I would add a place for a metal twist tie from the kitchen drawer. Insert it right over where you would put your nose. This will give shape around the nose and help keep the mask in place.
After you have made your masks, take pictures and share those pictures with friends and family. You could vote to see whose mask you like the best, or which one is the scariest, or most creative, or….???
Bottle mask in China on the subway.
Write a song together. Here’s one from our family. It even has a dance you can do! Yours does not have to be about the virus. Remember to share your song with family and friends!
Click on the picture below view to our family’s song on YouTube.
Corona Challenge #5
This is a family challenge activity to do during your Corona Virus quarantine. The challenge is to find as many words as you can using the letters in CORONA VIRUS. Here’s one way to do it:
Write out the letters in CORONA VIRUS. Cut them into squares and place them in a spot where everyone can see and use them. Place a sheet of paper and a pencil/pen next to the letters. (Each person could have their own paper or you could share.) As you have time, use the letters to make words then write those words on the paper. How many different words can you find this week? For a bonus challenge, see how many of the words that you find can be used in just one sentence or paragraph.
The challenge this week is to do something that is amazing. Can you get your broom to balance by itself? Can you learn and do a magic trick? Can you do 50 pushups? Be sure to share your amazing feats with your friends and family!
The poetry below is a result of a family challenge activity that we did during our Corona Virus quarantine. The challenge was to express ourselves in poetry (Haiku form – 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables). How do you feel about the virus? How is it affecting your life? Can you find both good and bad things that have happened as a result of this virus? For this challenge, write your responses in either prose or poetry formats. As an additional challenge, describe in 2 words what the inside of your mask smells like. Of course, share your thoughts with friends and family!
Corona Challenge Poetry
Story telling is an art. We all tell stories, but most of us would not consider ourselves artists. Perhaps we should consider story telling along the same lines as the joke about doctors: Doctor’s PRACTICE medicine. We PRACTICE story telling.
My father was a story teller. Some of his stories were parables, stories that have a purpose or moral. Others were purely for entertainment. His “peanut butter” stories were the latter, and he was always ready to tell us one. What is a “peanut butter” story? Well, peanut butter gets stuck in your mouth and you talk funny until you figure out how to get the peanut butter out again. My father was an expert at figuring out different storylines around this premise. He was also an expert talker with a stuck tongue! I do not know where he got the original concept, but I assume that his years in rural America during the depression gave him plenty of experience at telling and listening to stories.
Because of my Dad, I told some “peanut butter” stories to my kids when they were growing up. I do not remember any specific story, it was the premise that was fun. As a Grandma, I wanted to pass on the legacy of “peanut butter” stories, so I began to put one together into a book. I found that putting a “peanut butter” story into book form is a whole lot different than just telling one spontaneously!!!…but the book is finally done. It is called, “The Mysterious Thing that Happened at Our House” and it is a tribute to my father. As you read the story, you are encouraged to put the tip of your tongue between your lower lip and teeth for the text lines that are printed in blue. This “peanut butter” mystery features a boy and his dog and has a subtle, visual resolution. Your children will be talking in “peanut butter” style and making up their own “peanut butter” stories after reading this book. You will find it here:
The Mysterious Thing
What do your grandchildren expect from you? What do you expect from yourself while you are around them? I often am the “goody” cook. But… recently I was down with a cold when we had a bunch of really ripe bananas that needed to be used. What to do? Well, Grandpa and our 10-year-old grandson got out bowls and I read the recipe as they each made their own batch of banana bread. It was fun for me to hear them chatting away while they worked and shared ideas on their food project and on life in general. I am always amazed at what good can come out of what I cannot do!
The recipe that we used is below. It is more of a banana cake than real bread, but we like this recipe because it is quick and it uses oil instead of butter. That makes it more doable for our overseas family and easier to make too. We love it for breakfast or snack time.
3 ripe bananas
1 cup sugar (brown or white)
1/2 cup oil
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Nuts, chocolate chips, etc. (optional)
Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
Pour into a greased pan – (8×8 for thicker cake or 8×13 for thinner cake)
Bake at 350* for 20-40 minutes depending on oven and thickness of cake.
I am the lone holdout in a family of adventurous taste buds. As a “salt and pepper” picky eater, I am thankful that my family works hard to include me in meals. They get their desire for food adventure from Grandpa, who will try just about anything. Some of them have even caught their own grasshoppers to deep fry for snacks! They do, occasionally, come across something that they do not like. When that happens they have been taught to say, “That is not my favorite.” That phrase, calmly said, is so much better than the fuss and gagging that usually comes with food we do not like. They challenge me, as an adult, to do better in how I respond to such food surprises. What are you learning from your kids?
From time to time, we all look back on our lives and the things we have done. Sometimes we look back with amazement, pride, and gratitude. More often than not, we look back wishing for a “do-over.” (Ever notice how kids immediately want a new piece of paper when they feel they have made even a small mistake?) Sometimes our values have changed, giving way to regret or joy. Sometimes our abilities and resources have changed, giving us the desire and opportunity to do things differently.
We started a “Draw with Grandma” series 9 years ago when I wanted to learn how to draw and share my growing skills and interests with our grandchildren. I have learned a lot over those 9 years, but the goal to share and learn with others has not changed. What has changed are the tools that are available. Old cameras and living room walls have given way to newer sound equipment, a better camera, lighting, and a green screen. Much of the content remains the same: the alphabet, shapes, colors, learning about what we are drawing, and an old grandma. Newer technology helps put it in a different package. Here is one of one of our latest “Draw with Grandma” videos:
D is for Duck
(This one, along with many of the other “Draw” pictures, makes a cute T-shirt!)
After viewing, take a look at any of the earlier videos that are samples on our website. (Think early in the alphabet because we went through it in order.) You should see a big change. The content in all the “Draw” videos is good and valuable for learning and enjoying. We will continue to add to the “Draw” collection from time to time, and may even find time to update some of the older ones with newer technology. But, we have no regrets over the blessing that these videos have been to our family and many others.
“Do-overs” with people are much harder. Take the time to get things right with people now.
Ever heard of Dave Ramsey? He’s got some great ways to change money habits. His “baby steps” are intentionally designed for long term change. His focus is on financial issues, but the disciplines you build while working toward financial goals will affect your WHOLE life. He’s also got some excellent materials for use with kids. As a family we have used many of his materials and listened to many of his podcasts. Check his resources out at:
Here’s another resource for change. This one focuses on participation, cooperation and attitudes within the family unit. If your family is struggling with any of those issues, be sure to check this out:
Although we haven’t used this specific program, we have used many similar ideas within our family. This particular program sounds like it is a fun addition to daily family life!
Here’s the thing: CHANGE doesn’t come without….CHANGE! How are you going to choose change, face change, and follow through with change? If you, as an adult, are having problems with change, imagine how hard it is for the rest of your family. Openly setting and sharing goals is a necessary first step. We all need encouragement and accountability if change is going to stick. Pick one thing to change today, then make the effort to do change together!
Our life group at church has been experimenting with a “new” way to learn together. (It is really probably an “old” way!) It is a “pattern” that can be used within the family, the neighborhood, and the small group. When we gather together, we invite/expect everyone to bring something to the gathering. Sometimes we team up, other times what we bring is individual. We have a coordinator that sends out a theme and verse, each time including a list of possible delivery methods for our thoughts and reminding us of the time limits we have set. Before the gathering the coordinator orders and sends out what everyone has said they plan to do. We have found it valuable in getting to know ourselves, each other, and how we can better communicate. We also share a meal, so we have another coordinator for that. With everyone preparing in advance, we also have some great discussions during our meals.
What new thing are you planning on doing that will challenge and grow you and others?
Here is a sample of one of our lesson plans. Feel free to use this idea!