Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas is over for this year.  While many parents return to work, more and more parents are making arrangements to stay home for an extra day or two.  My grandchildren were fortunate enough to have a wonderful Christmas and they are with their parents today.  With my oldest son working on Christmas morning, his children went to him and after opening gifts spent several hours swimming at the hotel pool.  Not a typical Christmas, although they will remember this as one of the best ever!  The toys my grandchildren enjoyed the most, were the ones which included a parent.....a race track that needed to be set up, dolls to make, books that could be purchased with a parent's help and then read right away...baking, finger knitting, and the ever popular Lego's.  I was given the gift of another granddaughter this year, ready-made at age 8.  My grandson would have preferred a brother, but since he is the same age as his new sister, they still can play together sometimes.

I just sat at my youngest son's home watching, smiling, and taking pictures for two days.  The whole family were together Christmas eve and that memory is my favorite Christmas gift. Growing up my parents always gave my sister and I at least one gift we could use or play with.  Don and I did the same with our sons and grandchildren.  All my grandchildren (with the exception of my 8-year-old granddaughter who already owned one) were given cameras.  My 11-year-old granddaughter was busy taking pictures and my 8-year-old grandson was taking movies while the rest of the presents were opened.  They will have hours of fun and I'm hoping this is the start of a new hobby for all of them. More of their photography fun to follow.

I received two gifts to play with, a sewing kit and a mixer with baking pans and oodles of cookie cutters for every holiday.  I was pretty excited about both, so spent the rest of the time looking through my daughter-in-law's cookbooks, now that I have a mixer that works.  I will finally get that mending done I've been trying to complete for months.  I received other gifts that were just as wonderful and I loved each and every gift.

Have you been thinking about your New Years Resolutions?  I don't wait for January 1, I begin on December 26.  So far, at least for one day I've been right on track.  Enjoy the rest of 2011.  2012 is just around the corner and I expect it will be a year filled with many of God's blessings for each one of you. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Last night was the opening night for AwanaAwana stands for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed from the Bible verse: "Study to show yourself Approved unto God, Workmen, who Are Not Ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15. Children learn to understand God's word and memorize Bible verses. They play games and earn awards with a group of their peers.  Awana meetings are held at churches all over the world.

All of my four youngest grandchildren are joining Awana this year and I'm volunteering alternate nights at each church.  Last night I worked with a small group of first, second, and third graders.  As my grandchildren are growing up (two already living in a different state) I'm really going to miss "Grandma, can you help me?"  Many of you are going through the same emotions and some of you are waiting to hear those words from great grandchildren.  The reason I'm bringing this up, is the fun you have have enjoyed with children in your own family can continue by volunteering to work with children outside your family.

There are so many places that need your help.  The first that come to mind are those I've volunteered for in the past:  Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the schools.  Most don't take much preparation time and the benefits for you and the children you help can be countless.  I'm sure you can find areas that you've seen with your children that can use your help. 

Last night my grandson, age 8, and granddaughter, age 11, went to his and her class and I went looking for my volunteer spot.  That first night is such fun and filled with the electricity of smiling children as they walk hand in hand with their parents to their new classes or stop to hug a leader they had last year.  It's just like the wall to wall children you get to experience when you visit schools.  Since my grandson is now in 3rd grade and turned eight on Sunday, he has graduated from Sparks to T&T (Truth and Training). 

I haven't taken my training yet, so am a helper and not a leader with my own group.  The group I'm helping with consists of seven children eager and ready for the fun and learning ahead.  While the leader was working with a couple of children on their first Bible verse, I checked on a couple of girls, one working on a zig saw puzzle and the other a word hunt while waiting for their turn. 

I lost count of the number of times I heard, "Can you help me?"  Kindergarten, first, and second graders seem to enjoy whatever project they are involved in.  I'm not involved in the games this year, so was with the group getting the classes sorted out while the children played their games.  After study time we went in for singing and story time.  I'd forgotten how much fun the songs with hand and body movements are for the children and the adults around them.  We were all laughing pretty hard at the end.  Story time included questions about the Bible such as how many books in the Bible, how many in the New Testament and how many in the Old Testament.  I must admit I didn't know the answer, but I do now.  My knowledge was put to shame by the second grader who raised her hand and proudly said, "27" when asked how many books are in the New Testament. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the little ones and look forward to meeting my new group next week at my second church home with granddaughters age 9 and 7.  What are your ideas for volunteering to help children in your community?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Summer means RAGBRAI for many Iowa bicyclists.  My oldest son has talked about riding in it before, but it wasn't until I moved here that I really saw the impact of thousands of bicyclists riding for the sheer enjoyment.  My youngest son decided to join in for the first time this year and the minute it ended they began  preparing for next year.  They rode for one day this year, 56.1 miles on the day they chose.  They aren't the only ones getting ready for next year.  Check out the website for RAGBRAI and you can find the countdown until next year's ride broken down to the second. 

My daughter-in-law and I each took a car to pick up one of my son's and his bicycle.  The kids all rode with her until we got to the guys and we left with one parent and his two children.  Riding through a group of bicycles always makes me nervous because I have found they don't always watch the cars, but I wasn't near as nervous riding through the group of RAGBRAI riders.  Even though they were in huge groups and took over the roads, they still paid attention to what was going on around them.  The intersections were a little tough to maneuver because there were so many of them and they kept coming and coming and coming, but we made it in and out of town without a hitch.  When I saw Michele Bachmann's's bus drive past, I felt pretty lucky to be driving only my little Toyota Sienna. 

My sons enjoyed meeting the people as much as they enjoyed the ride.  One son invited a busload of folks to park at his house and use his shower and air conditioning. Both commented what great house guests they were, even with wall to wall people sleeping on the floor in the air conditioning.  Both boys had stories of how nice the groups of people they met were.  They also commented on the fact that the entire day, they could count on one hand the number of discarded water bottles they saw laying alongside the road.  This is definitely one event that they are proud to have participated in.

What struck me most about the day, as a proud mother, was my son's conversation with his children on the way home.  The only thing he talked about for most of the ride is how he is going to help his children prepare for a part of next year's ride.  They joined in the fun and are looking forward to the ride as well.  They both got new bicycles a few weeks before and were already building up their distance taking rides with their dad.  My two other granddaughters had not learned how to ride their bikes at the time of RAGBRAI and have since not only learned to ride, but are taking long bike rides with the entire family.  It has definitely been a bike riding summer.  By next spring I'll have sold my snowmobile and trailer and replaced them with a trailer for my recumbent bike and I'm on my way to join in the fun. 

Have you taken any long distance bicycle rides?  What is your favorite route?  Think about joining us next year at .RAGBRAI.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's Too Hot to Play Outside

With several days of dangerous heat levels, it's been too hot to participate in our usual summer activities.  Now what do we do?

For granddaughters age 7 and 9, there have been plenty of things to do.  When you run out of the typical activities that usually keep kids busy, TV (not the best for an all day activity), Barbies (it's fun but for only so long)....look at those skills you can hand down to them.

I found a package of cookie dough in the cupboard.  They were really excited to bake cookies.  So they added water, an egg and took turns stirring the peanut butter cookie dough.  Something went wrong (clearly not my skill level) and the burnt cookies were not everyone's favorite.  Unfortunately, I like burnt cookies and I'm almost finished with them. 

Knitting doesn't sound like a summer sport, but with air conditioning, granddaughter age 7 and I are busy making a blanket for Laura (her pioneer doll from Living History Farms). 

Photographer for the day is still a favorite and a short walk to a wildflower field near their home gave us many subjects.  We not only found flowers, but bugs, homes with beautiful statues, doors with fun wall hangings, and the perfect color for their uncle to paint his new home.  Granddaughter age 7 is learning composition, how to set the focus on the camera, and how far she needs to stand back to get the best picture. 

They are finishing up their velvet pictures from last year.  They had been packed away for so long, it was a brand new exciting activity they had forgotten about.

Writing books is another fun activity and one that hopefully will entertain them for many years to come.  The books are homemade and the stories as well.  They are eager to share as each page progresses.

Don't forget board games.  They never tire of UNO.  We found an old PacMan board game with marbles that they have so much fun with.  Too much to do, too little time.

What skills do you have that you can share with your children or grandchildren?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Garage Sale

Whew, we've finished our three-family three-day garage sale.  Success!  We have things left, although we probably sold half of most items.  Each one of us was able to sell something big we wanted to get rid of and several people got really good deals.  I was busy for all three days with three or four cars showing up at a time.  My son, daughter-in-law, and I all kept busy on Saturday.  I don't normally shop garage sales, although I realize that isn't really smart when I'm trying to live simply and recycle.  My new goal is not to buy new things until I'm rid of the old things.  I'm jealous of those who looked like they knew what they were doing and left happily with their purchases.  Maybe next summer...... 

My favorite sale was the woman who walked up to me and asked if I had any children's life jackets.  I handed her one for a little boy.  She said, "That's great, this will fit my son.  Do you have any for a girl?"  I reached over and handed her one for a little girl.  She looked at me in amazement.  She said, "I just left work, we are going to the lake tonight, and I thought I'd stop by on my way home just in case."  We both laughed and each of us was extremely happy with the sale.

My son told me it looked like I really enjoyed all three days helping them with the sale.  I realized I did for several reasons.  I was able to help my sons with something they weren't able to do (the first night was their volleyball night and with my daughter-in-law the team captain, she and my son had to be there and my other son was working).  Friday was a work day for all.  It was fun to see many of their things go to others who would be able to enjoy them a little longer.  I knew my family would appreciate those items not taking up room in their homes (I even got rid of a few things).  They made much more money than they had the year before.  Last but not least, I hoped I was losing weight using the old sweat it off method (whew it's hot and humid in Iowa in June!) or by not having time to eat.

So what does that have to do with grandchildren?  My two granddaughters age 7 and 9 were great while I was occupied with customers.  They started the first day by putting their artistic talent and chalk to welcoming customers to a "fun" garage sale across the driveway and sidewalk.  They were always eager to watch over the garage sale when I had to run in the house for a minute (or to fix meals and snacks).  A couple of times they would see toys missing a piece and they would run into their rooms to find it and put it out in the garage sale.  Sometimes they would come out just for a hug and kiss and once I had a lovely dressed up sophisticated lady who sat with me to discuss how the sale was going.  When she found out the neighbor girl was selling lemonade, she once again became a 9-year-old with only the wig and dress left in the chair to remind me of our lovely conversation.

Kids are resilient.  Even though I would like to have every day a "fun day", that can't always be the case.  I explained to the children what our garage sale plans were and that we wouldn't be able to do anything fun other than the garage sale for the next three days.  Their response, "That's OK, Grandma."

Being grandma is wonderful!  What have you been up to lately with your children and grandchildren?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July everyone!  I enjoy watching the parade every year now that I am in Iowa.  We missed that when we lived in Colorado.  As we celebrate our nation's independence I am once again thrilled to see our military honored for their service.  As I watched the jets fly over, I enjoyed the reaction of the crowd as much as the thrill of seeing and hearing the jets.

That is the start of the parade, so we anxiously awaited with excitement.  The parade started with a military band playing.  The crowd stood up as the flags came by and the clapping continued when the crowd saw the band was a military band.  We clapped and clapped and clapped. 

Pretty soon, though, I was the only one clapping.  Not too long after the band went by the crowd sat back down and watched the cars go by representing the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the other military service organizations.  A few of the older veterans were in wagon pulled by a car or tractor.  About half the crowd clapped when the World War II veterans passed by, then the crowd quieted again.  I was the only one who continued clapping until the last veteran was out of sight.

Whether the veterans are World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm or those who fought in a war that is still going on, they all deserve our respect and appreciation.  A good lesson that we must teach our children, just because the veteran is old, sometimes wearing only a hat with a branch of service on it, they deserve our respect and appreciation for the service they gave and the life they lived to maintain our safety in the United States of America.  If you haven't been to the parade yet, or today's parade is just a memory, please join me at the next parade in clapping for the veterans whether young or old.

I don't tire of thanking men and women for their service when I see them in stores or on the street.  My grandchildren always ask me why, as I patiently explain how much I appreciate what they have to do to keep all of us safe.  I remind them that their grandpa never passed by a veteran without walking over to shake his or her hand and thanking them for their service.

Now go out and enjoy those fireworks!  Don't forget to grab the sparklers to entertain the children waiting for the show to begin.  And don't forget to thank our service men and women and veterans.

How did you celebrate this 4th of July and what are your thoughts regarding appreciation for our veterans?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Part of the fun of living in the Midwest is dealing with the spring snow.  Just when you begin to enjoy the warmer weather, the snow starts.  I've been in some pretty big snow storms in South Dakota and Colorado, so I won't be surprised to see another.  A few days ago after a warm weekend, I woke up to snow.  It didn't last long and since I spent most of the day on the road, was able to see the snow turn to rain, and the roads go from slushy to wet to dry.  Watching my 11-year-old granddaughter's softball practice with a winter coat on this evening is just another part of spring.  I heard someone in the store today say that the weather won't turn warm until the robin feels snow three times on it's back. gives us 30 Fresh Ideas for Spring Fun.  I'm looking forward to walking the neighborhood with my grandchildren once the flower gardens begin to show their beauty.  We can start out to see how many different colors we can find. We'll bring some cameras do they can take photos of their favorites.

I think I'll skip the camping in the backyard.  I remember the last time I set up a tent by myself.  I was at Boy Scout Leaders Training Campout in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Don was the Scoutmaster, so stayed in another area of the camp and the boys were with the other scouts in still another area.  I was pretty proud at the time of setting up my tent alone, although any good scout could have done it much faster.  I woke up that morning to the tent covered with snow.  I peaked out of my tent and there was Don walking by.  I didn't feel so much alone then.  It was fun, but now I think camping out in the house is more my style.

Planting a garden will be fun.  I'll probably plant them at the boys' homes, I just need to ask them how much space I'll have to have.  I can then take the children on a shopping trip.  Granddaughter age 8 is growing a cabbage that she got at school.  I'm excited to see how it's grown. 

What are your ideas for a spring activity with children and grandchildren?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

100 Free Things To Do With Your Grandkids

One of my favorite websites to review is . Last weekend I found  100 Free Things To Do With Your Grandkids .  Granddaughter age 11, looking over my shoulder, said "I forgot all about hangman."  That was my charge, let's play hangman!  I quickly chose the word(s) "Summer Fun" and decided to play while they completed their weekend chores.

My charge to make today fun was solved.  They enjoyed the game and a winner emerged.  We continued to play as the day went on.  We played three times while they completed their chores for the day.  The competition was fun and I didn't have to remind them to complete their chores.    100 Free Things To Do With Your Grandkids was added to my favorites. 

I hope you enjoy this site.  Do you have a favorite site to share with us?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Summer is Coming

Summer is coming and who is more excited, my grandchildren or me?   It's probably me since they look at me strangely whenever I say "Summer's coming!" and with the next breath "Get your warm coats on, we have to get to school."  It's hard for me to contain my excitement.

We've had one birthday since my last post and today we have another birthday.  So far this year we have granddaughter age 10 now 11, granddaughter age 8 now 9, and granddaughter age 6 turning 7 today.  Grandson age 7 is still 7, looking forward to age 8 in a few months. 

Granddaughter age 9 has made up a summer fun list for me, one side for indoors and one side for outdoors.  Last weekend the weather was exceptionally warm, so we went to their favorite park for a hike. Parks were on her outdoor list.  Throwing rocks into the river, watching sticks float down the river, and climbing trees added to the enjoyment of the hike.  I got some much needed exercise, also.  The weather has turned cold again.  We don't mind.  There are still velvet pictures to color, plastic canvas Easter bunnies to complete, movies from the library to watch, and lists to make for fun days this summer. 

What are your plans for the summer?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Different Type of Travel

It's good to be back and traveling with my grandchildren. Those of you who have known me for the past couple of years know that the last 4 weeks have been difficult and writing not on the top spot of my list where it should be.  Thanks for your patience and for coming back, now that I am back to my old self.

As we all prepare for the New Year, everyone writes about New Year's Resolutions.  How are yours coming?  I have a few of my own.  I'm taking them slow this year.  I'd rather make them a habit then just part of a list.  Several of mine include my grandchildren, of course.  I won't put you to sleep with mine this year.  As 2011 draws to a close, hopefully I will be able to share the success stories with you.

My past posts were all about the places we visited and things we did around central Iowa.  That was great for you that live here in Iowa.  Now that I am living in Iowa, traveling in the winter is not my favorite sport, especially with grandchildren in tow.  I understand we could get 12 to 14 inches of snow within the next 24 hours.  Hmmmm.  So for those of you outside of Iowa and those who enjoy winter driving as much as I do, I'm going to spend some time traveling on the Internet. 

Do you have a favorite Internet site that you like to travel to?  While we are sitting watching the beautiful snowfall or whatever the view out your window, join me as we travel through the Internet in the next few months until summer releases us outside again.