Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fall Evenings

As I look out my windows at the wind blowing the bright red leaves from the trees, the sunlight beckons me outside to sit on the deck.  I remember how many enjoyable afternoons I had with the grandchildren this summer while they were playing at the playground nearby.  Warm summer breezes heightened my pleasure, reminding me that I really was outside and not in the office looking out.  My eyes closed, sun in my face, slight breeze blowing my hair, sure pleasure.

I've already been outside once today.  Picked up a few groceries, dropped off some recycling and hurried home.  I about blew away a couple of times.  With a long sleeve shirt, covered by a sweatshirt, covered by a lined jacket, this was no gentle breeze I felt.  I won't venture outside again until it's time to pick up the girls from school.  I'm chilled just thinking out it.

Although I recently heard we had snow last year in Iowa in October, I'm going to think positive that these 40 mph winds are not blowing in snow.  We still have a few pleasant evenings before it gets dark too fast to enjoy an evening outside.  Last Friday night was one of those pleasant evenings.  When my granddaughter age 6 and granddaughter age 8 got home from school, they went to the playground with a neighborhood friend.  I moved out to the deck to watch and enjoyed a quiet afternoon/evening relaxing outside.  When my son and his wife returned home from work, they made supper while I sat glued to my chair.  They brought supper to the deck and the girls reluctantly joined us.  We had such a pleasant evening, talking and enjoying being outside together.

My charge to you if this wind ever quits, or if you are where the wind is calm, try to spend one more evening outside with your family.  Even if you have to wear a sweater or jacket, pack a picnic supper, find a picnic table, and enjoy.  It will be well worth it.  Enjoy a sunset together and brace yourself for winter.  It's coming.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lunch or Supper On The Move

I mentioned in an earlier post I was looking for suggestions for lunch during the summer when we were on the road.  With after school activities, we are now not always able to have a sit down supper and are still looking for ideas.  Especially for you parents who work outside the home, it's not always easy to prepare supper and still enjoy your child's activity. 

On busy nights bringing out the favorite picnic food is not only appropriate it can also become a favorite meal and fun sharing time for your children.  We all know the importance of sitting down together for a meal.  One reason this is so important is because you are all able to spend time together.  Eating supper in the car can also allow for that time to be together and talk. 

With just a little preparation, the meal can be just as healthy as the one you serve at home.  Granddaughter age 10 would eat tuna fish sandwiches every day if given the opportunity.  He special supper is tuna fish sandwiches.  The rest of us have a sandwich made with sliced ham, turkey, and swiss cheese.  Microwaved for 15 to 20 minutes to soften the cheese and a healthy sandwich is the result.  Making the sandwiches on wheat bread makes them even healthier.  Chips, potato sticks, or pretzels, along with carrot sticks rounds out the main part of the meal.  Desert is fruit snacks or a banana.  Water is typically the drink of choice just in case it is spilled. 

I usually fix supper before picking up the children from school.  Putting their supper in a special lunch bag helps them with the fun.  Sometimes I put all the lunches in one bag and take turns letting the children pass out the lunch.  Usually they each eat two sandwiches when it is an evening meal.  We still have that time together and the opportunity to talk about the day as we sit in the parking lot of the next activity.  Don't forget the trash bag and the children will be happy to clean up after their meal. 

The children look forward to their special meal when they know we have a busy night.  Instead of reading outloud now that school has begun, we usually work on spelling words as we travel. 

Do you take the time each day to ask, "What is the most special thing that happened to you today that you can share with me?"  Isn't that so much better than, "How was school?"  It doesn't matter where you ask the question, just as long as they know you care about them and their day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


What do you remember when you were in elementary school? I remember playing with friends, Barbies, riding bikes, and reading.  My first memory of homework is in junior high.  The other night my 10-year-old granddaughter had a particularly difficult night of homework.   I understand from the parents of a 10-year-old in another school system that her daughter's homework is just as heavy.  My granddaughter had several pages of homework and all needed to be completed that day.  One page was a word search.  Word search can be fun, unless it is part of several other pages of homework and searching for those words then become time consuming and frustrating.  In the meantime, there are spelling words to memorize, pages to read, and questions to complete.

The silver lining...She is very proud of her accomplishment when she completes each page of homework, particularly the most time consuming one.  She is learning as she works through each page. By using flash cards I create each week, the spelling words are being memorized.  She is learning to focus on the task at hand.  She is also learning that homework is a priority and is learning the importance we put on her education.

The first thing out of her mouth when we picked her up from school the next night was, "I only have to read tonight!" She did have a babysitting class to attend, so was able to finish her reading after the class.  Her reward for only spelling and reading homework, her choice of activity after.  The choice that won out, basketball with her father and little brother.  The perfect evening in her eyes. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Homework, Activities, Halloween

Remember those lazy days of summer when we got up when we wanted, or when the children or grandchildren woke us up.  Oh, for the good old days!  Now the alarm wakes us to make sure baths, showers, breakfast, checking off that list of what needs to make it to school, and then off to school on time.

By mid October we are in the middle of school schedules, fall activities, and the excitement of Halloween.  Have you opened that bag of candy yet.  Oh, maybe just one.  Is there time to replace that bag before Halloween?  How did it empty so fast?

Last weekend we were able to spend some time at Iowa Arboretum.  Granddaughter age 10, grandson age 7, and I enjoyed all the costumes, ate some snacks and had fun with the scavenger hunt trying to find the different scarecrows and answering questions.  We started out slow with them playing a few games, but by time their hayride was over they were excited to look for the next scarecrow.  Each finding a friend, grandson from school, and granddaughter someone new leaving for grandson's soccer practice was not high on their list.

Tonight is a busy night with gymnastics for both and the last soccer game for grandson age 7.  Homework does get finished in between.  Supper is their favorite picnic lunch food. 

So my food for thought for you -- take a few minutes to find a Halloween activity, and enjoy the beautiful fall weather and abundant pumpkins.  Don't put off the homework, children need to know that comes first.  Find a sporting activity they love.  Get creative with supper.  Enjoy the time in the car together going from one activity to the next.  Leave the TV off and remember, time spent with children is making memories you both will cherish. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Nights

It's Friday!  It's Friday!  Friday night has been my favorite night as long as I can remember.  As a teenager, I could only date on weekends, so Friday night was date night.  As a young working mom, Friday night was the beginnig of two uninterrupted nights with my husband and sons.  Friday night supper was typically pizza,  the night I knew I wouldn't have to cook.  Once my sons left home, Friday night became date night again with my husband, Don.  Friday nights was divided between grilled steaks or homemade pizza.  Don was the cook, so I was always guaranteed the night off from cooking.  The boys knew not to call home on Friday nights unless it was an emergency.  As a working woman, Friday night began two uninterrupted days with Don.  My favorite part of the week. 

Now living near my grandchildren, my son has re-invented the special Friday night.  They call it movie night.  The movie tonight is How to Train Your Dragon, which was just released today on DVD.  Dinner spread out on the coffee table includes sliced cheese, sliced meat, and various crackers.    When we are too stuffed to eat anything else, the pop and popcorn are brought out.  Yup there is still room, we find.  The best part is not the movie, the dinner, or the popcorn.  The best part is the fact we are all siting on the couch enjoying uninterrupted time together. 

I found a web site this week, I believe you will enjoy.  While looking at my friend Kay's blog Fiction Lessons Found in My Reading she directed us to Penguin Group.  Like Kay, I had to look around the site for a while and listened to one of the books.  Although my grandchildren and I enjoy reading to each other, it will be fun to share this site with them.  Listening to someone else read for a change will be a treat.

Do you have a special night you share with your family?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

School Days

Yesterday morning was one of those days when my grandchildren ask whether it's winter or summer.  The day starts out early with the weather so chilly a jacket it necessary to get to school.  By time school is over, flip flops are the perfect foot wear when you are 6 or 8.  This morning started out the same, although this afternoon with the temperature expected at 72 degrees flip flops were not appropriate.  I still had one head for school in shorts, although she wore a sweater for her top.  As long as the snow is not blowing, children will not learn until they make their own decisions.  She will be fine and probably quite comfortable at school today. 

Each granddaughter, age 6 or 8 likes to be charged with something to do as we head for school in the morning.  They are excited at the end of the day to give me the results of their charge.  For granddaughter age 6, her charge this morning was to give her teacher the empty paper towel rolls that have been in the bottom of her school bag all week.  Granddaughter age 8 is to think about that one last item she would like to put in the secret pal bag for her Brownie secret pal.  She is also thinking about what she is going to put on the note she will put in the bag. 

This morning while they were eating breakfast I looked over the time tests they completed while I was getting ready for church on Sunday.  Each page had 6 clocks and they were either to put in the time using o'clock or half past, or put the hands on the clock.  Getting a red heart at the top of the page meant when they get home from school they can add on a sticker and put it in the desk for mommy and daddy to ooh and aah over with them later.  Both sets of eyes were glued to the paper as I corrected each one.  Choosing and placing her own sticker at the top of the page is a major part of the fun of completion. 

Yesterday after school, the 6 year old read to me for 28 minutes and then read to her mom while she was making supper.  Now that she can read, she loves to read and would go on all night if we let her.  I enjoy these days when school work is so much fun and the children are not even conscious of how much they are actually retaining.  Coming up with enough to do is the hard part.  Giving them 1/2 hour TV time while eating snack gives them that mental break that I feel they need after getting out of school.

Enjoy these beautiful fall days and the changing colors.  What do you charge your children with each day as you send them off to school?

Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm Back

Unfortunately, the easiest part of writing is quitting.  The hardest part is starting up again as the days pass by one by one by one.  I apologize to my readers, a few days off to reguvinate turned into a couple of months as the days flew by.

This did not stop the fun days with grandchildren as we continued with our adventures every day.  We continued to find new parks.  Our most recent new park just two days ago.  We spent several evenings at the pool with parents and so many days at Living History Farms that the volunteers could call granddaughter age 8 and 6 by name when we would visit. 

We did take some time off for swimming lessons and they helped me find and buy a new home.  Several trips with the realtor and then taking care of business took some of our days, but time spent reading in the car on the way made up for the adventure that was house hunting.  The children were able to read aloud and spell out to me the words they were having trouble with.  That dedicated time in the car was fun for everyone.  Summer reading program rewards helped encourage them as well. 

We worked on summer workbooks to continue skills in reading, writing and arithmetic.  We worked on telling time.  Coloring velvet pictures continues to be a favorite passtime.  Granddaughter age 8 has made that second trip to the craft store to get a new supply.  The first batch are hanging in her room.  A ritual after each print is complete.

Stickers continue to be the favorite reward and I've obtained quite the supply.  For worksbooks its a sticker for every two pages.  For reading I would photocopy the front of the book.  The 6 year old and 7 year old continue to get a sticker for each page read.  The 8 year old and 10 year old continue to get a sticker for each chapter read.  Showing off the stickers to Mom and Dad are fun at the end of the day.

Don't think now that school is back in session we have stopped our adventures.  Our adventures continue on the weekend and the best part is Mom and Dad are involved.  Grandma still gets invited.

What are you doing to make fall as much fun as summer for your grandchildren?