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.