Play With Me, Granny

“Play with me, Granny”toy_grandma

How many times have I heard those words from a sweet grandchild with pleading eyes, pursed lips and a toy or a game in their outstretched arms? Plenty, I tell you, and also not enough!

Spending time with a little one has to be one of the greatest pleasures in the world. And when that time is face-to-face in imaginary play, the gates of heaven themselves seem to open up. It is great fun in the moment and the memory is beyond words.

Figure1Our 7 yo grandson Mark has always enjoyed games but recently has discovered a new level of board games that we have all been rediscovering with him. Checkers has become a real favorite, along with “The Ladybug Game.” It requires no reading, and was created by a first-grader as a school project. Mark was very intrigued by this and has decided he could do something similar. Such an interesting way that a game can be inspiring!

Another new favorite is “Qwirkle,” which is similar to Dominoes. Planning and strategy are necessary, so both of us are learning some new skills here.

Games and the time spent playing them can teach kids so much. And how to win is the least! In the beginning it may be just about taking turns and having fun. Later on, there’s much to absorb about fairness, truth, strategy, planning and having fun. Eventually, one must learn how to lose with grace, prepare for the future, visualize the effects of one’s actions, help others to succeed and have even more fun. The lessons of game-playing, as in life, never seem to end. And neither does the joy, thank heavens!

As I was cleaning out a closet recently, I found our old “Monopoly” game with a record ofmonopoly-game-boardjpg-8628f916002139a1 all the winning scores on the inside of the box lid going back more than thirty years.  One particularly lengthy and sweet entry: 2/10/1986, my son’s name (he was then about 12 years old), $11,860, the town where we lived in Texas, 10:45 AM, 8 hotels, 6 houses, 18 properties, happened on a snowy day.

I can picture in my mind the kids home from school on a snow day, a fire in the fireplace, hot cocoa in mugs and everyone playing Monopoly for days at a time, stopping only to eat. The youngest child succeeding and proudly writing his legacy on the lid of a game box. There to be found, read and wonderfully remembered by his mother thirty years later.article-new_ds-photo_getty_article_178_136_86509377_XS

Don’t think for one minute that time spent playing with your youngster is time wasted. It is profound. It is necessary. It is gobs of fun.

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Gift Tags From Christmas Cards

What to do with all those lovely Christmas cards! Too pretty to toss, too meaningful not to keep and too cumbersome to just collect over the years. I have a solution that I have used for many years. I make gift tags from the cards. It is easy and very eco-friendly . . . as in recycling.

This year I made more than 180 tags from about 45 cards (that’s two years worth). Any cards can be used . . . Birthday, Easter, Thank You, etc.Tag - TraceATag 2I have a set of templates that I use, but you can use any shape you like, such as cookie cutters, or coloring book pages. I just like these because they look like luggage tags and don’t have any curves to cut.Card - Seasons

I pick a card and lay the templates on. Simple as that! Having different sizes helps to get every inch of the design of the card used.Tag - Four Angels

Then just cut them out. Be mindful of where you will punch a hole or where you will write a name. Sometimes that makes a difference.Tag - Bird II

Always look on the back of the card. Sometimes there are little gems there. (Sorry about the flash. I’m slowly getting this photography thing down!).Tag - Wishing

And don’t worry about everything being square and even. Tag - Wishing & Cutout

Sometimes cattywhompus looks cool!Card - Come & Behold

Here is the front of a card I used. (Again, sorry for the flash.)Card - May Your

And the center of the same card.Tag - Nine

These are all the gift tags I cut from the one card. Amazing isn’t it? They are all unique and all beautiful.Tag - Layout 4

If you want, you can always punch attachment holes in the tags or just tape them on the packages. Tag - Layout 2

Here are more samples of tags from my Christmas cards. They are all ready for next year’s packages and gifts. What could be more personal and say Merry Christmas better than this?

Yummy Yummy Mummy Pop

This is my Halloween treat for this year. I think it is absolutely adorable! This is the first year in several decades that I will actually have any Trick-or-treaters, so I am having a grand time making many of these cute Mummy Pops to give away.

Here is the secret to making the treat:

Supplies          

  1. 2″ gauze
  2. 1/8 or 1/4 inch orange ribbon
  3. white and red acrylic paint
  4. brushes
  5. white glue
  6. black plastic spoons
  7. suckers (I used Tootsie Roll Pops)

Step 1 – On the back of the spoon, paint two white eyes. The eyes should be connected in the middle. Don’t worry about wavy edges, or uneven eyes. They actually look better that way!

Step 2 – When white paint has dried, paint two small red centers on white eyes. Again, these can be uneven and they will look fine.

Step 3 – Take sucker and place it in bowl of spoon.

Step 4 – Cut about 18-20″ of gauze. Holding sucker in spoon, wrap gauze around both. One wrap must go over the top of the spoon above the eyes. The eyes should show through the gauze like a Mummy. When done, put a dot of glue on end of gauze and stick in place.

Step 5 – Cut about 10″ of orange ribbon. Tie around the neck of the spoon on top of the gauze. Make a cute bow and cut off excess ribbon.

And there you have the best tasting Mummy in town! Make plenty! I am! Happy Halloween, my Sweeties!

A Day At The Fair

Want to spend a wonderful day with your grandchildren? Try taking them to your local fair. This is the time of year for State Fairs, Harvest Fairs, Autumn Fairs, you name it. A day at the fair is the thing to do.

Gramps and I recently spent the day at the Texas State Fair so I could show you all the fun you and your little ones could have.

First of all, we parked our car and took the DART train into Dallas. Don’t forget – HOW you get there is part of the fun! What child (or adult for that matter!) doesn’t love a train ride? We saw some interesting sights, like construction areas with cranes, bulldozers and dump trucks. That’s like finding treasure for little boys!. The train was elevated in spots, so we were “on top of the world.” We even went through a tunnel, making it about the most perfect train ride ever! All that fun and we hadn’t even gotten to the fair yet!

Arriving at the fairgrounds, we were met with colorful flags, water fountains and of course, Big Tex. He’s a fixture in Texas and he used to talk with a deep voice welcoming everyone in. Now he just greets fairgoers with his immense height, size 50 boots and 100 gallon hat. It is not required that you dress like Tex, as this gentleman has, but “dressing for the fair” is appropriate. You will be out in the sun and doing a lot of walking.

Exchanging money for coupons is the first order of business. You can’t do anything without your coupons. HINT: Keep a few coupons for souvenirs for that scrapbook page, along with the train tickets. Makes beautiful memories for all!

Now, on to food – fair food – bad fair food. Is there any other kind? No day at the fair can be enjoyed or remembered properly without good bad fair food. I have to say I used to think funnel cake was just about the baddest of fair food. But no more! Try fried butter, fried OREO, fried pizza, fried Snickers, fried______ (fill in the blank). And this, fried PBJ &B. What is that, you ask? A fried peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich, which for some strange reason, looked kind of tasty to me. Scary! The menu boards alone were a source of so much hilarity to me, I wanted pictures of them all! I was laughing. Kids were laughing. Even food servers were laughing. Where have I been, I wonder? Oh, that’s right – the fat free aisle!

After lunch, it was over to the car show for the boys (big and little). There was a spectacular truck with a special paint job in memory of 9-11-01. Those old enough to remember were somber and respectful. Those too young to know were quietly told the story and meaning of all the vignettes covering the truck. It was a special moment and a great time to share and reflect a pivotal happening in all of our lives. What a great way to memorialize and pass on to the next generations a day we can and should never forget!

Next, we visited the crafts, textiles and foods, which was basically quilts, canned foods, pies, cakes and oh yeah, the LIFE-SIZED BUTTER SCULPTURES! Really, could anything impress a child more than a life-size cow made out of butter? I don’t think so! Well . . . . . . . there was the shoe collection . . . . . . . pretty funny, huh? HINT: I was thinking this could be a great thing to do at home with the kids. Another Granny Camp activity! What fun! Just be sure you use “old” shoes.

And what fun would a fair be without animals? Be sure you get to the barnyard, petting zoo, pig races, dog show and any other show of your favorite animal. Kids and animals just naturally go together, that’s a fact!

Now, for the Midway. Games, rides, feats of strength and accuracy or just people watching. It’s all there. Families of every size, shape and hue can be found. So take the whole group – youngest to oldest – from stroller to wheelchair and make it a true family day. Go on the rides and win a stuffed animal. That’s what the fair is all about – having and sharing the fun!

Gramps and I took a spin on the ferris wheel, The Texas Star, another state icon. We shared the cabin with sweet Mia and her mother. Mia looked lovely with her face painted in “zebra” to match her shirt. I so love a girl who is color coordinated!

Depending on your endurance and how many children you have in tow, you can add attractions to your day.Stay late for the concert and the laserlight water show, shop the vendor stalls, get a massage, have your shoes shined (Yes, even your sneakers! Yes, even your kid’s sneakers!), walk through a house carved out of 1 Redwood log . . . . .  the list goes on.

But the day came to a close. So back on the train we went, up in the air, through the tunnel and to our parked car. Exhausted, stuffed, dusty, happy, with a camera full of pictures and a heart full of memories, we ended our day at the Texas State Fair. Hard to believe it was only one day. But remember, my Sweeties, it only takes a moment to make a lasting impression on a child.

BOO – HEE HEE, A Halloween Craft

Aren’t holidays fun? Aren’t they fun to look forward to, get ready for and plan on? I sure think so. I love decorating for each upcoming holiday and season. I love the special foods, special clothes (or costumes), special music – everything. Kids love it as much as we oldsters do, too.

Each celebration brings back memories of previous ones and sparks expectations of new memories in the making. There’s the comfort of the tradition and the thrill of the uncharted all at the same time. Not too many things in life can do that, so don’t miss any opportunity you are given. Embrace every occasion possible to add a little glitz and sparkle to life. Don’t forget, you are responsible for teaching people how to have fun and how to have fun together!

I have a very cute, fun and easy Halloween project you can do with youngsters. Come to my Granny Camp and I will show you.

 

1 – BOO – a ghost lantern

Supplies:

1 gallon milk or water jug – cleaned

Black magic marker

Craft knife

String of low-watt white lights

– Draw eyes and mouth on jug with magic                marker. (Hint: Keep lid on. It prevents jug              from collapsing.)

– When first layer of magic marker dries, cover again. Do this several times to                          make eyes and mouth dark.

– Cut small hole in back of jug.

– Insert lights into jug. (HInt: One long string can light several jugs sitting next                            to each other.)

 

2 – HEE HEE – a pumpkin lantern

Supplies:

1 gallon milk or water jug – cleaned

Self-adhesive clear plastic shelf liner

Orange spray paint

Craft knife

String of low-watt white lights

– Cut self-adhesive clear plastic into shapes           of eyes, nose and mouth for pumpkin.

– Apply cut clear plastic shapes to jug to form face of pumpkin. Rub edges of                         shapes firmly to keep paint from bleeding.

– Spray jug with orange paint.

– Remove plastic shapes.

– Cut small hole in back of jug.

– Insert lights into jug. (Hint: One long string can light several jugs sitting next                            to each other.)

Are these lanterns cute or what? And they will last the entire season or probably for years. If not, they are super simple and cheap, so they can be done each year. What a ghoulish and giggly way to say welcome to all your “Trick or Treaters”!

 

Where Have All The Flourishes Gone?

Did you know cursive writing is no longer taught? That’s true, at least in Texas where I live. Cursive hand writing is no longer taught in public schools. I can’t even begin to tell you how shocked I was to learn this fact a few years ago. How is this possible? I mean who decides these things and why? Well, I can guess the why – bigger classes, fewer teachers, more to teach, teaching to the “test.” But are these really good reasons? I don’t think so.

Cursive writing has flair, personality and individuality. Printing is, well, boring. It all looks the same. That’s why we call it “PRINT.” Without cursive, signatures will no longer be unique, signing your “John Hancock” will no longer have meaning, and handwriting experts will no longer be needed. There will definitely be a loss in the world – a loss of beauty, character and style. As John Mason said, “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.”

If this trend continues, within two generations there will be no one alive who can write in cursive. The world will be filled with printers. We already have a generation that communicates electronically and many have never actually sent and/or received a personal letter. In the future, a personal handwritten letter in cursive will be a museum piece, a precious item to be cherished and saved.

Well, I for one am not going to just stand by and watch all this happen. I have devised a plan to kill two birds with one stone. (I don’t like that saying). Let’s just say I have a multi-pronged attack plan.

I’ve decided to write a letter to each of my grandchildren yearly on their birthday. It’s a short handwritten note from me, telling them how glad I am they were born, how much I love them and all the good things I see in them.

The good thing about a note is it can be read over and over, it can be saved and it can be held in your hand. And I don’t care what anyone says, it’s fun to get mail. If you’re young, old, male, female, printer or cursive writer, it’s fun!

This habit will be very good for me also. I will spend time thinking about my “grands” and expressing my love in a tangible way. It will be positive for me to be mindful of each child’s goodness and be looking for that goodness. What a treat to be able to reinforce the positive, express my love and produce a treasure for each of my “treasures” all at the same time!

So, stop teaching cursive, I’m ready! Stop writing letters, I’m ready! Stop communicating heart to heart, I’m so ready! I’m going to remember, practice and teach. I hope you do too!

Hurray, It’s Googly Eyes Day!

Googly Eyes Day at Granny Camp is the best day ever! It is by far the most fun for $5 you will ever ever have! Preparation is easy. The day before you must go to the store and buy a packet (or two – they’re cheap.) of stick-on googly eyes. That’s it. You are now ready.

Now, on Googly Eyes Day you stick them (the goggly eyes) on anything and everything you want to play with. The whole world is fair game. Did you know when you put eyes on something, it becomes ALIVE? No, really. Ask  any kid and they will tell you.

You  and your gang of “grands” can have a conversation with cups, pliers, pencils, rulers, hands, rocks, twigs, whatever. It’s a bit of a twist on hand puppets. Want to know another little secret? Sometimes children will tell you things about themselves through a puppet that they can’t tell you face to face. Amazing and very tender sometimes. Be a good Granny and provide these opportunities when you can.

Why not go a step further and write a play with your gang to be acted in by the goggly- eyed ones? It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be hard. How about a title “Here’s Looking At You!” And maybe the plot is about a character who has lost one of his eyes and everyone helps him look for it. Now you write the lines and the ending. See, not so difficult! The kids will love it! You will love it! And another tradition will have been born. You are such a good Granny!

Have more ideas for goggly eyes? Please share.