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How do you fight?

How do you fight?

What do you mean fight!?!?!  I never fight!

There are lots of things in life that we do fight.  I fight against weeds, dust, and my inclination to think that I’m always right.  The list of things that take my focused energy to defeat or even subdue is long!  So, when you find a fun way to fight something, you should share it.

So, I’m sharing Grandpa’s newest way to fight Parkinson’s disease.  He’s boxing!  One of our local boxing gyms has exercise classes designed specifically for those who have Parkinson’s.  The class is so popular that they have had to add an extra class time.  Grandpa comes home sweaty and with a report of how hard they pushed him.  He also comes home with a smile on his face because he has spent time with others that, though fighting the same disease, encourage each other.

If you haven’t already figured this out…Fighting is more successful in community.  Identify what you need to fight, then find someone to help you fight.  Wouldn’t it be great if we had learned this when we were younger?

Another List for this Summer

As we get older, we need TWO lists for our family times together.

The first list is a “fun” list.  It will include foods we like to make and eat, places we want to go, things we want to do together.

The second list is a “what you can do for me” list.  As I’ve already had 2 surgeries (hand and back) this year and have 2 more (both knees) coming, Grandpa and I (and our family) are beginning to take this list seriously.  It will include things that we can’t currently do for ourselves and/or things that we have not been able to hire someone to do.

I remember asking my parents before our visits to make out this 2nd kind of list and how good it felt to be able to help them.  Now, we are the ones making out the “what you can do for me” list.  We want to be grateful and generous with our praise in this area, not demanding.  Let’s show the generations to come that growing old can be done gracefully.


I continue to think about INDEPENDENCE and DEPENDENCE during my post-surgery recovery, combining my personal experience with my opportunity to vote.  I find I tend to vote for people or issues that reflect my views on independence vs. dependence.  Who should be independent and when?  Who is dependent and why?  The truth is that we are all independent or dependent in different areas for different reasons.  Some of the reasons are skills, personality, health, education, etc. We all tend to sympathize with those who have the same dependence or independence as we do.

So, here are my current thoughts:  Independence supports community.  Dependence builds it.  There are things I can and should do.  I should also teach them and share the benefit of them with others.  There are things I cannot do. I should humbly acknowledge them and be grateful for those who can do those things for me.


What do you think of when you hear the word “dependence”?  Unfortunately, I think we usually think “weak”, so we prefer the attribute of independence.

But, there are many benefits to the concept of dependence!  We think independence brings us freedom, but freedom really comes from the concept that we can rely on someone or something other than ourselves.  We depend on our parents to feed and protect us when we are young.  We depend on the drivers around us to be alert.  We depend on consistent weather to raise food crops.  I know that I can depend on Grandpa to do the things I am unable to do during my post-surgery limitations, just as I can depend upon him cleaning the kitchen and folding the clothes on a day-to-day basis.

As a family, share a list of things and people you depend upon.


I am currently working through post-surgery limitations, which has me thinking about some of our family and cultural characteristics.

What do you think of when you hear the word “independence”?  Sometimes we think “no authority over us!”  Sometimes we think “I can do it myself!”

The truth is all of us want our kids to grow up to be independent.  We want them to be able to feed themselves, tie their shoes, make their beds, learn to drive, manage money, get a job, support themselves, live on their own, and then come back to visit us with our grandchildren.  😊

Some of that process comes naturally.  As humans, we have a desire to have “no authority over us” and so we learn to do things ourselves.  Some independence comes with intentionality.  How many of us would have learned the habit of brushing our teeth without direction from others?

Look at those around you.  In what ways should they be growing in independence?  Is there a way you can help them with their next step?  That may take some instruction and support, or it may take a firm stand on how you engage with them.

What about your Santa Clause?

Who doesn’t love watching a child rip open a package with a smile on their face?  Giving is a joy!  How do we pass the joy of giving on to our kids?

For years I led after school programs at our church that included children’s musicals.  Christmas presentations were always a favorite of mine.  There is one song that I have not been able to find again but wish I could.  It started with “I walked in the store” and the chorus was something like “gimme this, gimme that, I’m a gimme, gimme brat”.  An energetic boy named Evan sang it with gusto.  (I’ve googled lyrics without finding it.  If you know more, please let me know!)  None of us wants a child who is a real “gimme, gimme brat”.  Such a child embarrasses us in public, drains our energy and our bank account, and that’s only the damage to us!…What about the long-term damage that a child will grow up with?  How do we, during this holiday season, teach and model generosity rather than self-focus?

If Santa is a part of your Christmas holidays, perhaps you might focus on Saint Nicholaus.  (Google him for books and stories!)

Rather than using the motivation of a “naughty or nice” Santa, engage your family in giving to or serving others.  Sometimes you might focus on what you do well.  Sometimes you might watch for needs/wants that you can fulfill.  Sometimes you may need to find a creative way to be a giver, like using coupons to give of your time and resources.

We have made up some coupon forms along with ideas for gifting them.  You’ll find these ideas at:

I encourage you to think about how your Santa affects your family.

Teaching gratitude

Every family has their own way to say “thank you”.  In my family, you do that in person whenever possible.  If you are there when I open your gift to me, a personal “thank you” is enough.  In this media-oriented day, it is almost always possible to open gifts in front of the giver.  I encourage you to do that whenever possible and to take time saying “thank you” right then and there.

When it is not possible to open a gift in front of a giver, how do you say “thank you”?  We have “snail mail”, email, text, and videos that can be used to convey a “thank you”.

What could be included in a “thank you” message?  For the youngest children: a photo holding the gift with a smile on their face;  a picture that the child has drawn with their parents’ explanations; a hug; an invitation to join them in play/use of the gift…  In addition older children and adults can include information on why they like the gift, how they can use it, or who they can share it with.

So, what do you do when you don’t like or want the gift?  This is a REAL challenge and will depend on your relationship with the giver.  (I remember a story of how someone politely said they enjoyed a casserole dish which ended up getting made over and over again.  After several years it became impossible to say that they didn’t really like it.)  Is there a polite way of saying a gift doesn’t fit you or your life style, or is the wrong color, or you already have one?  Perhaps simply acknowledging that you really value the giver will help with this?  Regardless of the reasoning, a “thank you” should always be given in a timely manner.

The real question is….how do you say “thank you” to Santa?  You can’t ignore this question if you want to teach your children gratitude.  Maybe Santa gets a letter and a picture mailed to him!

Another question is….how are you modeling saying “thank you”?

Here is a link for more information on St. Nicholaus:

Here is a link to Grandma’s FREE printable bingo games.  Scroll down and you’ll find a bingo game that uses the figures from Grandma’s “Christmas is Coming” advent book (Jesus IS Christmas) along with a Christmas bingo game (Family Christmas Bingo) that can be used in a public school classroom:


A simple question to ask…”Why are you thankful?” Usually, we are thankful because we have been given something. What we often don’t think about is that we have been given EVERYTHING, not just something. As we celebrate Thanksgiving and look toward Christmas, reflect on the “best present of all”, Jesus. For games, lessons, and family nativity activities, check out this link:
Grandma’s Christmas activities

Christmas is coming

Now that Halloween is behind us, let’s make the most of the wonderful season of Christmas. A generous heart is a good thing to develop, both in ourselves and in those around us. We have been given so much! Our church did a “MAKE A GIFT” day several years ago. (A link below will give you some ideas about that.) What can you do with those around you to help them grow in generosity? Save up resources, plan for activity times together, share with family, friends, and neighbors.

If you have very little ones, you can use the preschool Christmas lessons (link below) to help them understand the deeper meaning of Christmas.

Information on Make a Gift day

Grandma’s preschool Christmas lessons


There are some things that we try to repeat each time we get together as a family.  These things help us measure changes in our family. We have been in our current house for almost 30 years, so we have a door that has a lot of marks on the edge of it.  Each mark shows the height of a child, along with a date.  Most of the time we have done this when all of our 5 grandchildren are together.  This year we had 3 grand-boys vying for the top mark on the door and there was some light wager-making over who would win.  (The evidence can be seen in the pictures!)  We also try to take a few pictures of all of us around the couch in the living room.  Although the time of day and the skylight challenged us, we are still glad to have both a more formal picture as well as a silly picture to remind us of our time together this summer.


There are many benefits to being older, but as a rule, energy is not one of them.  This is one reason it is important for us to share our lives and responsibilities with those around us.  We made a list of things that we hoped would get done around our house while our family was visiting.  These things required someone with muscle, balance, and energy.  (“Know-how” we think we still have!)  Not all of the list got accomplished, but it is wonderful to have children and grandchildren that are willing to help.  As you can see from this picture, a job well done deserves a good nap!


Is it really possible to organize a family visit?  I think the answer is “somewhat”.  Travel schedules, health, interests, etc., can vary within a larger group of people.  But, you can try to think ahead and be prepared.  For our recent family visit we did our best to stock the pantry, freezer, and refrigerator before our family arrived.  The first couple of days we were able to do all the meals while our family rested and transitioned from travel.  Because our youngest grandchild is now 11, we were able to switch to everyone participating in meal preparations and entertainment.  Teams of 2 signed up for snacks, lunch, or evening meals, and made their shopping lists.  We took them to the store and paid for what they needed.  We ate well!  And we were eating leftovers long after they went home.  Sharing clean-up was also a big help, even though we are still looking for a few items that might have been put away in unexpected places.  With a park nearby and teenagers coming, we made sure we had a basketball and soccer ball ready for use, along with our closet full of table games.

Was it still chaotic?  YES!  Our dryer died just before their arrival and we had to make a quick decision on new laundry appliances and arrange for their rapid installation.  Sleep schedules varied.  Who wanted to go on what day-trips varied and were limited somewhat by car availability.  Health issues popped up.  Floors were covered with blankets and pillows and the dog kept stealing socks.  Sounds a lot like real family life to me, and I’m a thankful and happy grandma!


We were blessed with family visits this summer!  It had been a long time since we were able to be “face to face” and we enjoyed every minute of it.  More on that in coming posts.  For now, I’d just like to remind you that not all households have the same “rules” or “expectations”.  This can be confusing and frustrating, especially for children.  Your adult children will understand and adapt more quickly to YOUR house rules/expectations than your grandchildren will.  Hopefully, in THEIR house you will also understand and adapt quickly to their rules/expectations.   As an example:  When our grandchildren were young, they lived in a tall apartment building.  Although there was an outside play area, it was far away.  So, almost every part of their apartment was available as a play space.  When those youngsters came to visit us, we all had to adapt.  We focused on “hand’s on” activities inside and free-play outside and at the park near us.  If we had not experienced and had some understanding of apartment living with them, we might have been more frustrated and less adaptive.  Although I know it often seems easier to have friends and family visit at our house, it is important that we spend time at their house with their rules/expectations.  That gives us a better understanding of their daily lives, how we can love and interact with them, and how we can pray for them.


Can’t volunteer at school? How about another way? Perhaps this is not true of your school, but our schools have “early days” where the teachers get extra time to prepare their lessons/classrooms and the kids go home early. This regular weekly time change is another opportunity to participate in a student’s life. “Early day” can be used to share rides, for play dates, and as a precious together time. For our family, it is a time when Grandpa can have a “one-on-one” lunch with our grandson. During summer vacation, that same time became a shop and cook activity time. Many parents will welcome some help with “early days.” Ask a parent near you if there is a way for you to participate on “early days”.

NOW it’s time to volunteer!

School is starting!  Teachers are wondering how to “get it done” and parents and students are adapting to new schedules and situations.  That means, NOW is a great time to volunteer!  Volunteers are helpful in the classroom, in the office, on the playground, in the library, etc.  You’ll know more of what your child/grandchild is learning in and around the classroom if you have a presence there.  Can’t be at school with them?  Then, be sure to ask parents and teachers what you can do outside of school to help and encourage your kids/grandchildren.  “Outside” volunteering can be anything from helping with transportation to reading and discussing a book with them via zoom or facetime.

Don’t have a child or grandchild in school?  Contact a local school office or a neighbor down the street and volunteer anyway!  You will receive a blessing as you bless others!


MEMORIES!  That’s what we want to make during our times together.  Good memories help us through our tough times and the times we are apart.  I pray that your summer has been full of them.

I recently ran across a YouTube video that brought back many memories for me, and in a very fun way!  There are so many songs from my own youth and from those of my children that I no longer hear very often.  If you spent time as a child in Sunday school, you’ll probably remember most of these songs too.  Check out this video!  You may want to check out other videos done by the same ventriloquist.  Such fun!

Memories don’t have much impact unless they are used!  Sometimes our memories are simply thoughts.  Other times, our memories are tangible things.  Over the years I have collected and used a lot of music as I’ve worked with kids in the church setting.  I have cds, cassette tapes, and even reel to reel tapes that we used in VBS, Sunday school, Kids’ Klubs, afterschool programs, and musical presentations.  Many of them are reproducible.  (That means that there are no copyright issues if you pass out copies to those in your church.)  If you have the ability and a reason to use such things and would like to know more of what is in my collection, please reply to this email.  I would be excited to pass some of my good memories on to others!

What is courage?

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.

Plant a garden

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!

Final puzzle blog

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.

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

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.

Choices can be hard to make

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.

Christmas is aMAZEing!

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.

Christmas resources

Here are a few Christmas resources you might want to use:


Home for the holidays

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”.

How can a LONG TIME seem so SHORT?

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.

Walk with your kids!

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!

holiday coming!

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 and magnets

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.

covid isolation

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.

Let them shop

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:

Plan ahead #5

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.

A “new” scavenger hunt

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!

Plan Ahead #5

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!

Plan ahead #4

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.

Plan ahead #3

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.

Plan ahead #2

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:
And you will find some more of our family videos on our YouTube channel:

May they inspire you!

mygrandmatime news!

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 all have faults

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!

How old is TOO old?  How used is TOO used?

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.

The Potential of a TUB

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!

REcycle? UPcycle? Trash?

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:


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!

Christmas is near!!!…and it is time to prepare

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!