Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Awana Activities

Awana is finished for the year.  The children have had so much fun this year and all memorized many Bible verses.  If you are looking for something to do with children for a party activity, the last night for doing memory verses was Cocoon Night.  I was a little apprehensive when I sent a note to the main leaders asking what to expect.  The children are wrapping their leaders in toilet paper.  That sounded a little scary.

We had so much fun.  It's one of those nights when your mouth hurts you are spending so much time with a huge smile and laughing.  The best part wasn't my laughter though.  It was listening to the children.  They couldn't stop laughing as they ran around and around us trying to keep their toilet paper from ripping.  The tallest children had the most fun trying to wrap our heads.

Looking from leader to leader, then child to child, there wasn't one person in the room without a smile.  OK, one.  She didn't have any toilet paper left.  I borrowed a roll from someone, unwrapped her a huge streamer and she began running around me, with her smile back.   We figured out if I held out two fingers and they stuck the beginning of their streamer in between my fingers, the wrapping would hold.  All the children were willing to share and the activity didn't take too long.

When it was over the leader asked everyone to pick the toilet paper off the floor and when I left the room there wasn't even a crumb left.  I believe the children had almost as much fun throwing it away as they did in the wrapping.  They didn't have to be asked twice to pick up.  That's about 60 children.

Awana will be back next fall.  Check your local church, they should know where the closest meetings are, if your church does not have their own Awana activity.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What Shall We Do Today?

As I have been reading through writing sites over the last month, I found a common theme; lists of ways to find the time to actually write.

I thought about summer fast approaching and all the things I wanted to do with my grandchildren.  I am more blessed than many grandparents, I am able to provide daycare for my grandchildren.  I will be spending the summer with from one to five grandchildren on any given day.  With the fun comes the responsibility.  It's important to me that my grandchildren have time to play, time to explore their world, and time to learn new things.  Success will be shown in several ways.  When they are too old for daycare, they will remember the fun time they had with their grandma growing up.  I don't expect them to remember each day we spent together (although we have hundreds of pictures to help), I just want them to remember this time together with a good feeling and a smile.  I want them to know they are important enough to be a priority in my life and I want them to feel loved.  They know they are a priority and are loved by their parents already, but a little extra from me can't hurt.  I want them to have time to do just what they want to do and learn and explore through their own world, without all the ideas of what to do and play being orchestrated by me.  I want them to try and taste all that Iowa has to offer.  This may be the summer they find that one thing that is exciting enough to them that they spend the rest of their life learning about and doing.  And if not, that's all right.  They have many years ahead to find what they like most to do.  I also want them to have the resources and quality childcare they would get through any professional childcare facility.

How does that lead back to my original statement.  How do I organize my summer to have the time to give my grandchildren everything I want for them over the summer?  How do I find that time?  My solution is to start now by taking the time to plan what we are going to do for the summer.  I'm making the list of the favorite places from last summer, the places we learned about but ran out of time to visit, and the places I've learned about over the winter.  Lots of swimming is on top of the list, so we begin there.

What do you like to do over the summer that you look forward to?  Any ideas that you have for making that time to do everything you want to do?  Check back often as we begin the processing of planning to travel with Grandma Mitch.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring Fever

Has spring fever hit you yet? It's hit our home with a vengence.  We've had some beautiful weather.  The kids have worn their shorts, my seven-year-old granddaughter has been able to spend a few days in her flip flops (her foot gear of choice all year if she didn't have to worry about her toes freezing) and now we are expecting snow in parts of Iowa.  No matter how many years I've seen the weather get warm and then cold again, I still hope those first few warm days are the first signs of summer.  OK, that is too much to expect from March. 

I'd love to be able to say we've spent these last couple of weekends traveling to new places.  I can't.  As excited as we are for summer to start, these last couple of cool days has given us time to sit back and relax.  School is winding down, it's only about a month for two grandchildren and about five weeks for the other three.  Awana is ending for three in two more weeks and two in three more weeks.  There is the rush to get memory verses completed to try to finish the book by the end of the year.  Dance classes are busy getting ready for spring show. Softball and baseball has begun. 

This is the perfect time of year to pause, regroup, rejuvenate, and get that second wind.  So when there is an early out from school, that unexpected couple of hours, we find a good movie, grab our knitting, sit back and just relax.  Well, my grandson doesn't grab knitting, he doesn't need to keep his hands busy when he veges like the rest of us.  Homework gets done. Bible verses are memorized.  Summer will come eventually.  In the meantime, enjoy a few relaxing days before the fun and adventure of summer begins.

What do you do to regroup to get ready for summer?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Iowa State Capitol

The girls and I visited the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines.  The Legislature was in session, and while we waited for the House to begin, I was able to explain a little bit about government, bills, and voting.  Rather than take the guided tour, we took the self-guided tour. The girls took their cameras and took many pictures of the statutes, art work and beautiful staircases. 

There was a display of dolls dressed in the formals worn by the First Ladies and a flag that was actually flown during the civil war.  We didn't get to see everything because we had only allowed three hours for our visit. After we finished touring the inside we looked at some of the artwork outside the capitol building. 

There is a gift shop, but you don't necessarily need to get a souvenir.  I did get each of us a book for a cost of $1.00 describing the features inside the capitol and another one for $1.00 describing the artwork on the outside of the building. 

We will be able to bring our books each time we visit until we have had a chance to learn as much as we can about the capitol.  I've added the capitol to our list of things to do this summer.  The girls decided on the way home that they had a fun day.

If you live close enough to your state capital to visit, please share with us what you enjoyed the most out of your visit. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Share Your Grandchildren

This week was spring break.  My 7-year-old granddaughter and 10-year-old granddaughter spent the week with me during the day.  We were excited because the weather last week had been beautiful and we felt like summer was already here.  This week the rain came.  We weren't upset knowing that Iowa needs the rain, we've had such a mild winter.  We planned indoor activities.

Always busy looking for ways to entertain my grandchildren, I had never thought of sharing them with my friends until this week.  One afternoon a friend invited them to her house to make cards with her scrap-booking supplies.  What a surprise we had.  She had made a special snack, put together a little early Easter basket, and had picked out just the right supplies to make a card with cupcakes (a hint of our special snack) and an Easter card.

She had spent the morning putting together the supplies and the girls were able to pick the paper, stamps, ink, stickers, embellishments (the most beautiful little cloth butterflies), and punches (for just the right holes or designs).  I spent the time looking through all of the cards my friend had created while the girls were free to make their own designs.  Their hands were full with treats and cards when they left.  They had a wonderful time and everyone is looking forward to making this a regular activity when summer finally arrives.

A second afternoon we took yarn and knitting needles and headed for a local senior center to learn how to knit with another friend.  I know how to knit, but can't seem to get the process down to teach my 10-year-old granddaughter who is left-handed.  My friend, a very skillful knitter can teach either right or left handed.  She had provided some wood needles which she thought would work perfect for smaller hands.  They spent a pleasant hour working together while I watched and helped my 7-year-old granddaughter with her knitting (she is right-handed).  After the hour, the girls played while my friend taught me how to knit left-handed so hopefully I can help my granddaughter when she gets stuck.  We all had fun and look forward to getting together again when summer finally arrives.

One of my greatest joys is spending time with my grandchildren.  They are mine and I love them.   I never thought they could also bring joy to others who aren't related to them and who aren't blessed with getting to spend as much time with their grandchildren as I am.  Granted, not everyone enjoys spending time with someone else's children, but for those who do, why not think about sharing your grandchildren with them.  We all were blessed by the experience.  My grandchildren had a wonderful time getting spoiled by other adults and learning skills that their parents and I couldn't teach them.  My friends got the joy of sharing their skills with another generation and watching the joy on my granddaughter's faces.  I got to enjoy watching my grandchildren have fun doing something I couldn't  share with them without my friends.  Plus I got to enjoy visiting with my friends at the same time.

 Check out the activities of the local senior center and see if they will allow you to bring your children or grandchildren to learn new skills.  Not every activity is open to children and we are careful not to intrude on a senior fellowship planned activity. Who knows, you might make a new friend in the process.  What friends do you have that you could share your children or grandchildren with?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Birthday Fun

Got into my blog today and learned something interesting.  I'm not perfect.  Of course, I've known that for some time, but proved it today by my one line post.  I think I was attempting to start a post and somehow published it.  Did it raise more questions than answers?

Anyway, yes, my 9-year-old granddaughter is now 10.  You have probably also experienced how much more  difficult it is shopping for grandchildren than it was shopping for that child that you have raised and lived with.  When I lived in Colorado, I'd ask a close friend who had children my grandchildren's age and she would help me to get some good ideas.  Now that I live close, I should know what they want, but it's still hard to find that perfect gift.  I asked my son and he shared with me that his daughter was getting an IPod Touch and a case would be nice.  So I headed for Best Buy looking for just the right case.  I knew her favorite color was gold and thought that would be an easy selection.  I picked up three different choices, putting each one down for something better. They didn't have a gold one. Finally, I just gave up.  Because I wanted it to be perfect, I decided to do something different and let her pick her own.

When I picked her up from school, I told her that we had to take a quick shopping trip.  Knowing that she doesn't like to run errands and it was after all her birthday, I told her where we were going.  I didn't expect the excitement she enjoyed picking out her own case.  A couple of times she whispered from the back seat.  "I can't believe I have an IPod Touch" and then "I can't believe I get to pick out my own case."  I felt a little guilty over not giving her a gift to unwrap, but she couldn't have been happier.  She had almost as much difficulty as I did with all the choices.  She chose the one I would have picked out for myself.  That was fun for me to see how alike our tastes are.

We left the store with her purchase.  Instead of going to my home which we usually do after school, we went straight to her house so she could put her case on her IPod.  She was pretty excited to show her parents when they got home from work.

Her little sister was almost as excited as she was.  My 7-year-old granddaughter turns 8 next month.  She told me that she knew the secret of what her sister was getting for her birthday and was told that if she kept the secret she might get one for her birthday.  She was pretty excited that she was able to keep the secret.  "It was pretty easy, Grandma, I only had to keep the secret for a day. Now, since I kept the secret I might get an IPod Touch, and if I do, I might be able to shop for a cover too."

I just checked the calendar and her birthday is on a school day as well.  Guess I know where we'll be going after school.  Although I'd better check with my son for sure.

What was your favorite birthday gift as a child?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Birthday Gifts

My 9-year-old granddaughter has just turned 10. 

Spring Concerts, Graduations, and Picture Books

The other day I saw two robins looking for worms in my front lawn.  Spring is coming! 

Before I get ahead of myself and start thinking about all the fun travel with my grandchildren, I had better come back to earth and remember school is not over yet. This time of year brings the spring school concerts and graduations.  I had both this last week and almost didn't make them.  I had not planned ahead for the concert for my 3rd grade granddaughter and grandson.  I was exhausted and did not look forward to driving home after the concerts since it was out of town.  "I'm sorry," I shared. " I will not be able to attend." My granddaughter had her aunt, uncle, grandmother and great-grandmother, her mom and my son coming so knew she wouldn't miss me.  My grandson, new to her family, would enjoy them staying for his concert as well.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that thinking was pretty flawed.  I called up my son and told him to save me a spot.  I would probably not make it for my granddaughter due to commitments I could not break at home. I would get there just as soon as I could.  I walked in the door and my grandson, already on stage, spotted me the moment I walked in.  Usually not one for showing emotions, he got the biggest smile on his face as he looked right at me.  I waved, he waved quickly too and I knew I would never miss another concert if at all possible.  My granddaughter looked at me and said, "You missed my concert!"  I apologized several times and realized you can never have too many quests at your concert when you are in the third grade (or ever)!

Graduation.  I wasn't sure we would make it for my granddaughter's graduation.  We were expecting a pretty bad spring storm and with my son's broken ankle, we did not want to risk driving for several hours in bad weather.  We both watched the weather carefully and he let his daughter know we would try if we could.  She understood and said it didn't matter to her.  It was not going to be anything special.  Our prayers were answered and the storm moved to bypass us and it looked like our road would be clear up and back. We headed out.  My son called his daughter when we got to town so she would know we were on our way.  There were nine in her Esthetics's class and her graduation was very special.  There were sixteen graduating all together and I'm so happy I was able to attend.   We were so proud of her and her hard work and told her many times that night.  Her smile lit up the entire room and she and her friends congratulated each other, cheering as each teacher was introduced and each graduate went up on stage.  We got to meet her best friend at school and I took lots of pictures.  She's working now, getting a job before graduation.  The only downside, my youngest son and family couldn't attend due to his in-laws coming to town for a long awaited visit, all ten of them, which couldn't be changed after the school changed the graduation date.  He was as disappointed as we were although they had a wonderful time with my daughter-in-law's family.

All of us like to be recognized for our hard work no matter if we are 8 or 20 or over 60; don't miss those concerts and graduations.   Those good memories will last a lifetime for the performer and the audience. 

Found a new website today: Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them! I had  never thought of using a picture book with no words to help children express themselves with words.  The book she chose to review, Octopus Soup by Mercer Mayer, looks perfect for both of my third graders, as well as my second grader.  Since I'm at the home of my third graders, a trip to the library seems in order.  Not only will they be able to enjoy the book, they are able to make their own choice as to which page they want to write about, and can do their homework independently.  "Now what should I write, grandma? I can't think of anything." Those statements are frustrating for me and for them, this will make that process easier.  

Do you have a favorite picture book without words that we should try? Be sure to check out Margo's blog.  I'm going back later to review some books for my older girls.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Talking With Your Children

The other day my granddaughter and I had the opportunity to sit down and have a nice long conversation.  She was recuperating and her mom and dad were off at her sister's concert. Many of us would probably say, "Of course I talk with my children."  After reading Stephanie's blog at Stephanie's Corner, dated February 15th,  I decided to be a little more intentional about my conversations with my grandchildren.  I ask my grandchildren about school on the drive home, or when they walk in the door.  They are usually in a hurry to begin homework, play, or relax and watch TV so the conversation isn't as meaningful as it could be.  Or I'll will ask about something that they've done, what they did over the weekend, or lessons they've taken.  This time,  I took Stephanie's advise and decided to be more intentional.  I asked her what she wanted to do, since she was stuck in bed and I was on a couch nearby.  "What can I do?" she asked.  "Anything you want that will keep you resting here in the bedroom,"  I answered.  "You can read, you can watch a movie, we can play a game.  What would you like to do? "  "Let's play Barbie beauty shop," she said.  That hadn't even crossed my radar.  Even though I played Barbie as a child, I really do not enjoy "playing Barbie" with the girls.  I just don't think I'm creative enough, although I've attempted a few times and they've enjoyed it. 

We had the best time!  She brought in two Barbies with long hair and got all of the hair things that "were small enough for a Barbie," she explained, and we started brushing Barbie's hair.  She made several crazy pony tails sticking out all over her head.  I tried a french braid.  It was pretty crooked but she kept saying over and over again how much she loved the braid and what a good job I did.  I complimented her as well and we sat on the couch together talking about many different things that I would not share here.  I was really disappointed when I heard her parents come home.  We were together on the couch, the TV was off, it was just the two of us and the cell phone was far enough away that I couldn't even glance at it when it pinged that I had a message.   The minute she heard the garage door open she was off the couch to make pancakes with her mom and didn't give the Barbies or me a second thought.  That is how it should be, but I don't want to make that the last night we have to talk.   She has not mentioned our conversation since, but I know that she felt very special and so did I.

 With my sons it was always the trip to the store. I always wanted to take just one boy so we could talk when they were growing up.  With my oldest granddaughters it was going to a movie without her sister.  Now with my younger grandchildren it's playing a WII game or video game with just one, or spending time in the kitchen making something special for mom or dad.  With my newest granddaughter, we played a board game that didn't take much thought and allowed us to talk.  WII and video games are fun, but I need to make sure I have that intentional talk time while they are eager to share their lives. What are you doing to take aside your child to make them feel like they are special, while actually listening to what they have to say? 

We haven't done much traveling lately, with school during the week and Mom and Dad fun on the weekends.  I'm going to keep my posts to every Wednesday for a while, until we are able to do more traveling.  Join me every Wednesday for activities, new websites to review, or books to share with your grandchildren and children. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Special Friday Night

Another special Friday night at my house and this time it was Ritz cracker pizzas.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the Ritz Cracker pizza, it's pretty simple.  Put 1/2 a teaspoon pizza sauce on top of a Ritz Cracker and then put whatever topping you want.  We chose a simple cheese and pepperoni.  To make it easier for me to keep track,  each child had his or her own pie tin to put their individual pizzas on.  One chose just to add cheese; another cheese then pepperoni, then cheese; one chose to cover half of the crackers with cheese, the other half with pepperoni; one chose cheese and then pepperoni; and the last one chose pepperoni and then cheese.  The ideas were as varied as the children.  The most important part was that it was of their own making.  The only rule was to try not to get too much of the cheese on the bare pan since it just ended up burning before the cheese on the crackers was melted.  I just put them in the oven at 325degrees for 10 minutes and checked them from there until the cheese was melted. You can melt the cheese in the microwave too.  I chose the oven because a couple of the tins were metal.

The other fun part of making your own pizza was putting on the pepperoni, which is very precise as follows:  Put one piece on cracker, put one piece in your mouth, put one piece on cracker, put one piece in your mouth. If you follow these directions, you won't need to use as many crackers.  We ended up using all the crackers because I was eating as many Ritz crackers as I was making pizzas. Fortunately, we had enough pepperoni and crackers that everyone was able to get their fill.

One hour later, popcorn!  Since it was movie night there had to be popcorn.  Surprisingly, they each ate a good portion popcorn, too.  Do you ever put M&Ms on your popcorn?  My daughter-in-law taught me that trick when I moved to Iowa.  Best added while the popcorn is warm.  Cookies finished off the night.

We've tried French bread pizza, English muffin pizza, and the ever popular Ritz Cracker pizza when the boys were growing up.  Shrimp is another delicious topping.  I think I'm ready to make another pizza.

While I was looking through the Kids National Geographic for some games, I found a snow leopard jigsaw puzzle.  You can create your puzzle in 12 pieces or choose a higher number.  I ended up choosing 78.  I like jigsaw puzzles and had fun seeing how quickly I could complete the puzzle.  Took me 24 minutes 32 seconds.  So you might think, "That is 25 minutes she will never get back."  That's true, but sometimes we need to waste a few minutes and relax.  I could try it again with another puzzle to see if I can beat my time, but I don't think it is about the time.  It was watching the puzzle come together and the satisfaction of hearing the click each time a piece fit.  As soon as you grab a piece, it orientates so you know the direction it goes in.  That makes it easier then a paper puzzle you do on a table.   Next time the grandchildren come over, I'll introduce them to this site.  Looks like that will be tomorrow since there is no school.

I'm making the list for tomorrow.  I asked the girls what they would like to do.  I have two tomorrow.  My 9-year-old granddaughter said, "I just have to ask the question, grandma.  Is rock climbing out of the question?"  "Yes, rock climbing is out of the question."  She's been missing visits to Colorado now that I have moved to Iowa.  With a rainy day expected, we will have plenty to do without rock climbing.

Any other ideas for individual pizza?