Archive for March, 2011

Getting ready for Easter

Monday, March 28th, 2011

I have in the kitchen a grapevine wreath that changes with the seasons – seasonally appropriate ornaments are added to the wreath. 

My decorators made a Spring Break stop at my house recently.  The grandchildren who live 20 minutes away are in charge of this wreath.

When they arrived, the wreath was still sporting its Valentine decorations.  I took down the wreath and the children removed the Valentines.  My grandson pointed out that the Wiggles, My Little Pony, and Bob, the Builder are no longer favorites.  He suggested that I should buy some new Valentines before next February.  OK.  He’s in charge.

The children set to work to turn the wreath into an Easter wreath.

Of course, we added the little Hallmark Easter bunny that their daddy received from his grandmother many years ago at Easter.

Then they decorated the cat – no, not the real one.

Then they headed for the craft table so they could make some Easter decorations to put in the planter on the clock.

Each made an Easter bunny carrying an Easter basket. Each bunny also had a carrot handy for a snack.  They also decorated some eggs.  They took all their artwork into the dining room.  They asked me to stay in the living room so that they could arrange everything and surprise me.

When all was set, they called me into the room.  So cute! 

Every time I walk through the room and see the clock, it brings a smile and a memory of a special time with my grandchildren to my mind.  Making a memory for grandma.

Thanks for stopping by.  In a few days I’ll be back to tell you about the Easter games and riddles and jokes that will be ready to go into the mailbox for my grandchildren.

Scavenger Hunt in the Car

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Have you or your grandchildren been visited this winter by one of those pesky viruses that cause aches, pains, fever, and isolation from the rest of the world?

My grandchildren recently were visiting.  My granddaughter was recovering from such a virus.  We couldn’t have a cousin play date.  We couldn’t go out for tacos.  We couldn’t go to the playground. 

Rats!  We did watch a movie; we played school; we read books; we played restaurant.  BUT that all got boring.  I decided that we needed to get out of the house.  Hm, we could go for a ride in the car.  Exciting?  No, not really.  Not exciting unless we made a game of the trip.

That is what we did.  The grandchildren love to have scavenger hunts so I said that we would have a car scavenger hunt.  My granddaughter said that she would make a list of items that we should look for while we were out riding in the car. 

She made a list for her brother and one for herself.  I was not to see the list so that I wouldn’t purposely drive by one of the items to help them out.

The list included the following:  garbage can, jogger, the number 1, bench, person yelling, mailbox, cat, bicycle, yellow car, red light, red roof, newspaper, person eating, dog, stop sign, school, skateboard, litter on the street/sidewalk, tree, letter.  Bonus points were given for finding a squirrel or a bus stop. 

I drove through several neighborhoods and to a nearby small town while the children were peering out the window in search of the items on the list.  One item managed to elude us – bicycle.  It was a very cold day, and no one was out riding although we did see someone out jogging.

We returned to my house and had a special treat to celebrate completing the game.  Everyone was refreshed because we had managed to go somewhere for a change of scenery.

The best news was that the next day my granddaughter no longer was running a fever so life returned to normal, and we headed out for tacos.

My playroom

Friday, March 18th, 2011

My oldest grandchild is 8 years old.  I’m sure she would correct me.  She is 8.5 years old.  About 7 years ago I decided to convert an extra bedroom into a playroom for the present and future grandchildren.

What toys to include in the playroom?  I didn’t want a duplication of the toys that are in my grandchildren’s homes.  I wanted special toys that they could look forward to playing with at Grandma’s house.   And then there is the age appropriate angle.  As the children grow up, the toys need to change.  My grandsons have both pointed out to me that they no longer play with Dora Dominos.  The girls are no longer “into princesses” – their words.

Alas, Thomas, the Tank Engine, now usually remains in his storage drawer.  The boys are off to other interests.   My favorite engine, Toby, waits with all the others for the few days that they are still in favor.

There are several toys that all the children have liked for years and still continue to play with.  Every time they visit they play with these.

1.  The play kitchen   The kitchen is the center of activity in the playroom because it can be a home kitchen or a restaurant.  There is a Melissa and Doug range top + dishes + pretend foods.  But three additions to the kitchen make it special.

Miele microwave – This little pretend microwave has a timer and rotating turntable for small cooks who are preparing meals.

Drip coffeemaker – Push the button on this coffee maker and you hear the sounds of coffee brewing and dripping into the carafe.  One grandson makes a special brew – chalk coffee, adding the chalk from the chalk board.  We, of course, always request chalk coffee at his restaurant.

Stand mixer – The mixer is perfect for making pretend chocolate chip cookies and comes with a tray of the cookies.  The wooden bowl also doubles as a salad bowl.

2.  Rug – Years ago I found this rug at Menards.  It has stood the test of time and sticky fingers and racing Hot Wheel cars for many years.  Since it is 4X6, it is large enough that several children can set up a pretend city on the rug.  They pick out locations for the school, the shopping center, the swimming pool, and the pizza place.  They bring down Hot Wheel cars and Playmobile figures and sometimes Thomas or Percy to join in the action on the rug.

3.  Wooden house – I found this play set at Tuesday Morning years ago.  It has been a favorite.  Originally I had to slide the pieces together to build the house.  Now one of my grandsons has taken over that chore.  The children like to “landscape” the house with the trees that come with the set.   There is a swing and picnic table for the yard + plus a car for mommy or daddy to drive to work or to the store.   Mommy, daddy, sister, brother, and the puppy dog all have fun together.

4.  Chalkboard – I purchased a 3′ X 2′ magnetic chalkboard from a local office supply store, and it hangs on the wall of the playroom.  It is the center of school activity.  The children use it when they play school.  There are colored chalks, magnetic letters, magnetic numbers, and magnetic animals to use on the chalkboard.  Sometimes Grandma has to draw a line down the center of the board so brother and sister can each have a portion of the  board.  Woe to the one who drifts over the dividing line.

5.  The final toy for today is one that surprisingly is still very popular.  It is this snail puzzle designed to help small ones with numbers 1-10 and with putting  puzzle pieces together.  Each grandchild has gone through the learning process of counting and assembling it.  One would think that it might be time for this to go into the storage tub, but not so fast.

This puzzle lives on the sunporch on a table by the door.  When a family is getting ready to head out, frequently I hear from a grandchild, “Just a minute, I want to do the snail puzzle.”  He/she does the puzzle, gives me a hug and is out the door with a smile.

There are a few other “great finds” for the playroom that I’ll tell you about another day.  And, yes, sometime I’ll also share the “what was I thinking” purchases that never made the hit parade of toys.

Thanks for visiting today.

St. Patrick’s Day in the Mailbox

Friday, March 11th, 2011

When my grandchildren who live 20 minutes away visited recently, they decided we should decorate for St. Patrick’s Day.  I confessed that I really didn’t have any St. Patrick’s Day decorations.  That was no problem.  My granddaughter asked if I would get out the craft folder, and she and her brother set to work making and coloring shamrocks for decorations.

They decorated the clock and trimmed the cat – not the real one.

Books:

These are a few of the St. Patrick’s Day books from the library that I have read to and with my grandchildren over the years.

The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever! by Teddy Slater

That’s What Leprechauns Do  by Eve Bunting

The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day by Natasha Wing.  This is a really amusing book told in verse in the same meter as Clement Moore’s Night Before Christmas.  Two children set traps to catch a leprechaun before they go to bed.

Riddles:

My grandchildren love riddles so, of course, I have St. Patrick’s Day riddles for them.

Why did St. Patrick drive all the snakes out of Ireland?   Because he couldn’t afford plane tickets for them to fly.

What happens when a leprechaun falls into a river?   He gets wet.

Why did the dinosaur wear red sox on St. Patrick’s Day?   His green ones were in the wash.

Why do frogs like St. Patrick’s Day?   They are always wearing green.

Knock, knock.       Who’s there?    Irish.   Irish who?  Irish you a  Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

What is going into the mailbox:

I am making a card that comes with a rainbow and pot of gold that I’ll send to my grandchildren for St. Patrick’s Day.

For this project I used a painted leprechaun from Hobby Lobby, a metallic pot from Michael’s and a carry-out carton from Michaels + gold wrapped candies.  I also printed a clip art rainbox from the internet.  I covered the rainbow on both sides with clear Contact paper.  Then I added some stick-on gems to various stripes of the rainbox.

Now for the card.

I named the leprechaun Larry.  I printed a greeting onto card stock.  Larry was attached to the first page of the card. 

I affixed Larry to the card cover with scrapbooking tape.

The second page of the card.  Larry the Leprechaun is not on the finished second  page of the card.  I propped him there during the photo opp.   The two pages of the card were fastened together with green brads.

The pot of gold and rainbow will go into the carry-out container filled with green tissue. The card will rest atop the box.  All is ready.  Now to mail these off to the mailboxes of  my grandchildren.

I think they will like these treats.

Hope you find a pot of gold at the end of your rainbow on St. Patrick’s Day.

Thanks for stopping by.

Let the good times roll

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Happy Mardi Gras

In my last post I mentioned the Mardi Gras masks that I was taking on my road trip.  My grandchildren decorated them.  Here is the family in masks ready to celebrate Mardi Gras.

And, by the way, Open Season 2, which I also said was going on the road trip, was a really funny movie.  We are eagerly awaiting our next get-together so we can watch Open Season 3.

Time to work on St. Patrick’s Day in the mailbox.

Road Trip

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

I’ll soon be heading out on a road trip to visit the grandchildren who live 3 hours away.  Time to make my list of what I’m taking on the trip.

Checklist:

1.  DVDs    The children are early risers.  I always take a couple of DVDs so that we can quietly watch them while we wait for the adult portion of the household to waken and start the day.

One movie we shall watch is Open Season 2. We watched Open Season 1 when they last visited at my house.  It was so much fun listening to the grandchildren laughing and laughing at the movie.

The other DVD is one that I know nothing about.  I always try to get a dinosaur movie because my grandson is the family dinosaur expert.  The film I usually take was checked out at the library so I am taking along We’re Back.  A Dinosaur’s Story.  This is an animated 1993 Steven Spielberg film “for the whole family” or so says the review.  What is interesting is that Walter Cronkite and Julia Child provide the voices for two of the characters.  Must keep my ear alert for them.

2.  Cookies – Can’t forget the cookies.  My grandson will inquire as I enter the door if I brought cookies.   Here is a recipe that I clipped from an issue of Better Homes and Gardens back in the 70s.  My sons loved these cookies when they were growing up as the grandchildren do now.

Peanut-butter Crinkles

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup chunk-style peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

granulated sugar

Thoroughly cream the first 6 ingredients.  In a small bowl stir together flour, soda and salt; blend into creamed mixture.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in granulated sugar.  Place 2 inches apart on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Bake in a 375 degree for 8 – 10 minutes.  Cool slightly; remove to rack.  Makes about 3 dozen.

3.  Pedometer  - Last year I was part of a Walk to the Moon team and wore a pedometer every day during the summer.  My grandson was quite intrigued with it and was continually checking on the total steps I had taken.  This year I gave him and his sister pedometers for Valentine’s Day.  I purchased Omron HJ150 pedometers from Amazon.com.  These are simple devices that only measure steps.  They are preset so it is not necessary to mark off paces and enter the info as you must do on more sophisticated models.  In addition to the number of steps, the device also tells the time of day.  At midnight the pedometer zeroes itself out and is ready for a new day’s total.  You are able to check your walking total for the past 7 days with a few presses of the button.

I bought myself the same model.  I have not yet walked for a distance outside to determine how accurate it is.  The children do enjoy checking their number of steps and comparing their totals.  My grandson had a total larger than his sister’s.  I was puzzled.  Then he demonstrated how to add steps to your total.  The pedometer clips to your waist band.  He sat on the edge of a chair and bumped his bottom on the chair ten times.  We checked his total and indeed the total had gone up.  Inventive young man.

4.  Mardi Gras   We have never had Mardi Gras activities so this is new for us.  I printed some Mardi Gras word search puzzles from www.ActivityVillage.co.uk .  I came upon a really neat website that provided Mardi Gras masks:  www.colorbookmasks.com.  I printed those on card stock.  The children will be able to color them with pencils and markers so that we have custom designed Mardi Gras masks.  To that we can add the Mardi Gras beads that I bought at the party store.  Perhaps we’ll decorate the masks and don our beads and get out the cookies and have a Samedi Gras (Fat Saturday) party.

Looks like a fun and busy weekend.

Won’t be long until St. Patrick’s Day.  Soon I’ll show you what I am working on for the mailbox.

Thanks for stopping by.