Blog Archives

Is OLDER better?


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!

A New Plan for the New Year


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!

Another Christmas Idea


There are things that you would like to give for Christmas that cannot be wrapped in a box, things like love, peace, or a helping hand.  For years, one of the first things we did on Christmas morning was to draw a picture of what we wanted to give Jesus on his birthday.  For those things that you cannot wrap, draw a picture and share it with that special someone.

You could also make a coupon:

Or, use hot crayon art for your picture:


Christmas idea…

December 9, 2019

Here is an idea for the Christmas holidays:  Ask each person in your family or each person that you meet, “What is your favorite Christmas ornament?  Why is it your favorite?”  You might be surprised at the answers!

Make these tasty granola bars for a holiday treat:
Granola Bar Recipe


November 25, 2019

What brings your family JOY?  The answer to this question will be different for each family.  Two things come quickly to mind for our family: doing things together and music.  When our family gets together at Thanksgiving we do games and puzzles and have music “jam” sessions.  We all bring games and puzzles to share.  For music, we try to send music to each other ahead of time (we are partial to southern gospel music) and all bring musical instruments to share.  For some families, gathering to watch a football game may be their “joy”.  For others, it may be a hike.  As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, make note of what your family “joy” is and be thankful for it.  You may even want to make plans to celebrate your family “joy” more often.  Of course, don’t forget the good food!

Here’s one of Grandma’s “thankful” skits:
Ode to my physical therapist

And, if you think you are thankful for “stuff”, check out this prayer:
The Lord’s Prayer

Christmas idea…

November 11, 2019

Christmas idea:  Save your ribbons and wrapping paper and boxes (that you wouldn’t normally save for another gift) for doing something crafty after Christmas.  They could be used for a pre-planned together activity or as an opportunity for a creative person to dive into the “recycle box” on their own.  There are lots of ideas on the net!  Just type “how to use old wrapping paper and ribbons” into the search bar.

For more Christmas ideas go to:
Grandma’s Christmas Ideas

Grandma also writes skits.  Two of her most recent are titled “Grace” and “Application for Discipleship.”  You will find them at:
Grandma’s Skits


October 14, 2019

We recently had an electrical outage that lasted 2 days. Because I am not a fan of camping, I can only compare it to “glamping,” or glamorous camping. We had most of the comforts of home: our own bed; running water; a gas stove. We could use nothing that ran on electricity and had to use battery powered items sparingly in case the outage lasted longer than expected. The freezer was not opened at all and the refrigerator was opened as little as possible. We had to choose what we could do and when we could do it based on natural light. Several of our neighbors had generators and offered their resources. Because of the short duration of the outage, we were fine on our own. We were amazed at how many things we found to do that didn’t require electricity. We were also amazed at how we automatically went to flip switches and turn things on. When the electricity did come on, the garbage disposal was the first sound to greet us.

I think I was emotionally prepared for two reasons. First, this outage was announced in advance, although its duration was questionable. Second, I had read the series by author Terri Blackstock that starts with the book “Last Light”. This fictional story walks a modern community through 3 years without electrical power.

This experience prompts me to suggest a family discussion and perhaps a “glamping” experience. How would your lives change if you had no electricity, no phone, no transportation? If nothing else, this would be a good time to count your blessings!

Boring, sick days

September 16, 2019

Bored, but contagious?  Here’s a challenge!…No hands tower building.  Use your feet (less germs?) to see who can build the tallest tower.

One option for long sick/recovery times is watching TV.  Even that can get boring if it isn’t a good, long story.  One of my favorites to watch is “Anne Of Green Gables”.  During one of my recovery times I even wrote family discussion questions for it.  Click here to use them with your family – Anne of Green Gables Discussion Questions

We have WORDS in our family tree!

September 2, 2019

My Dad, a preacher, loved to play with words.  My Mom, a teacher, is a life-long lover of all kinds of puzzles.  Although I’ve never been a fan of poetry (but thank you, Carlyn, for having me do poetry in the classroom!) my home environment had me using words to communicate and express ideas.  For example, here’s a note that I put on one of Grandpa’s birthday presents early in our family life:

“There is something thin about you, something very thin indeed.
There is something thin about you!  Yes, you really are in need.
So, because we love you so much and we really, really care
we are happy to present you with this box of ___________________.”

I bet you can fill in the blank!  It is fun to see this family trait continued.  Here is one birthday note to me from our family:

“Your plants are thirsty, Grandma, maybe you could buy a hose.
I really like your flowers, maybe you could get one of those.
You could dress yourself to match them and buy a nice new blouse,
or go out to eat with Grandpa to get out of the house.”

Think about what skills/habits/thoughts run in your family tree.  How can you use those to continue to build up the people and relationships around you?

P.S. We often add music to our words too!  Click here to see/hear our family’s MIRROR SONG.


August 19, 2019

We have “old” friends who are having health issues and are stressed with the daily details and choices involved, yet they hesitate to involve even their local children with their needs.  We have grown far to independent in our culture.  Think about it.  How do you want your grandchildren to take care of their parents (your children) when they are old or sick?  We are setting examples for our children’s children on how to care for others.  We need to live a humble example of both giving and receiving help and living our lives together.  We NEED TO ask and invite others into our lives before our NEEDS become too great for us to handle.  And, of course, we NEED TO be grateful as well.

It has been said that we both begin life and end life dependent on others.  The truth is that we are always dependent, regardless of our age or life circumstances.  It is just easier to be content when we are little tots and life seems simple.  Let’s keep that child’s heart for simplicity to compliment the other life lessons that we have accumulated.


August 5, 2019

Our children/grandchildren don’t stay young for very long!  They grow up fast and we need to make sure they are learning about money as they grow up.  Recently Grandpa thought up a wonderful money challenge for two in our family.  Here’s the scenario:

They had planned to go out to dinner, but couldn’t decide where to go and asked our ideas.

Grandpa suggested that they give EACH person the money (cash) they would have spent at a restaurant and instead go to the grocery store to buy what they wanted for dinner.

After shopping, there was cooking and reheating and sharing, depending on what each person purchased.

They documented each of their purchases and their dinners with pictures.

They had leftovers!

On the other side of the world, another grandson went to the outdoor market and got to choose food he wanted to cook for the whole family for dinner. He bought watermelon, broccoli and live shrimp. Total cost was about 10 dollars. He used a few spices from home and made a very nutritious and yummy dinner. Some of the other grands loved the shrimp and some didn’t.

A great money lesson….with side benefits!  This, or an adaptation of it, can work regardless of what the money budget is.  Great idea, Grandpa!

Tell a story

July 8, 2019

Being able to tell a story is an important communication skill.  Although some people seem to come by storytelling naturally, most of us develop the skill through reading and practice.  When our grandchildren were young, our daughter-in-law encouraged our family’s storytelling tradition by writing a simple story, using props and costumes that were available to act it out.  We were able to record that as a video.  Since then, we have done two more videos of stories that our family has put together.  If you watch them in order, you will be watching our grandchildren grow up.  Our 3 videos are here:

Practicing storytelling can be as simple as asking a child who cannot read to tell you the story in a book while looking at the pictures.  It can be asking a person to tell something about their day.  As we grow in skill and anticipation of telling a story, we look at the world around us in a different way.  We also learn about cause and effect when we think about how a story ends.  So, if you want to improve communication of your values, work together on storytelling skills.


April 29, 2019

We recently talked to a “grandpa” who gave us some new ideas about treasure boxes.  Each time he visits his grandchildren he takes along a “treasure box”.  (Between visits he refills the treasure box.)  What goes into his box?….mementos from the past.  During each visit he tells the story behind his mementos.  Sometimes he lets each grandchild choose a memento to keep.  Sometimes he hides things in the mementos for a surprise.

I always recommend that grandparents have a treasure box or treasure drawer.  It should be kept filled with things that are precious as well as things that are “junk”.  When you have a moment with your grandchildren, either in person or via technology, the treasure box gives you an option of pulling something out and talking about it.  What is it?  What is it made of?  What shapes/colors do you see?  Where did it come from?  Does it have personal meaning?  What could/should we do with it?  Too often we don’t interact because we don’t have anything to talk or think about.  Having a filled treasure box around helps fill that need.

The “TREASURE BOX” in Grandma’s book is used a bit differently.  It is filled with things that once were lost, but now are found.  The story takes place in a school classroom, so it makes a great “thank you” present for a teacher.  It can also be used as a springboard for a discussion on taking better care of your “stuff”.  You can find “Treasure Box” here:


April 15, 2019

When our kids were little, Daddy brought home a HUGE cardboard box from work. It was about 4’X6’, about 1” thick, and the bottom edge was reinforced with wood slats. It had protected something really big and heavy. We weren’t very creative with it. A little folding and duct-taping of the top and a bit of cutting on the sides and we had a really neat playhouse. The kids helped us paint it and it lasted a whole season of backyard neighborhood play. I’m sharing this memory because our neighbors recently asked if we had any big boxes. They have since made a rocket ship for their son to enjoy. What a creative treat!

For younger kids, your creative work will provide hours of creative play. For older kids, being challenged to make something out of boxes can provide hours of creative thought and practice working together. Older kids can also be challenged to share their creation/s with younger kids. It is not that long before you will need a great summer project, so begin saving and asking for boxes now. You can usually fold them flat until needed.

Make a plan for family visits

April 1, 2019

Sharing responsibilities is good for leadership, character, and skill development.  We recently spent a long time with our whole family together.  This wasn’t a brief vacation but was a much longer transition situation.  During this time we could have spoiled some of us while overworking others.  Instead, we organized our days so that we each participated.  The form we used is below.  Most days it worked well and the kids were eager to take on their chosen responsibilities.  Your list may look different than this one.  Ours changes too because of time and place situations.

Yes, vacations and together times should include some “spoiling” for each of us.  But, take the time and forethought to build more teamwork with those around you.

Family Activities Chart

Grandma’s latest book highlights how a family with young children can organize and share their day together.  You can find “Two-zle Day” here: