Archive for January, 2012

Valentine’s Day is around the corner.

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

My grandchildren who live 20 minutes away recently came for a play date – one final chance to play with the Snow Village before it was tucked away until next year – and time to get ready for Valentine’s Day.

Of course, we had to dress the cat (not the real one.)

The cat did not come with a Valentine costume so my grandson made a blanket for the cat and my granddaughter made a hat and a bib.  All ready for the holiday.

I thought it would be fun to make a Valentine tree.  First, the tree -

With my trusty lopers I chopped off two branches from a viburnum bush and inserted them into a square of floral foam.  My cat Olivia is inspecting the tree to see if there are any good smells there.  As you can see, the tree is temporaily resting in the Snow Village that was about to be packed away.

My grandchildren were going to trim the tree for me.  Before they arrived, I had made heart shapes – many hearts in many sizes.  Of course, I learned when the children started working that I didn’t have nearly enough hearts and had to cut more as they worked.  There were hearts and stickers and markers and crayons and lace doilies.  Off they started to work on their creations.

My grandson decided to draw pictures on his Valentines.

He has a snowman with a Valentive love bubble; a train carrying a load of Valentines, a Wii bowling alley with hearts on each side and a Chicago Cub Valentine for my Cub gnome to wear.

My granddaughter drew colored hearts with doilies and embellishments.

Her Valentines graced the tree and the veteran cat plus my new cast iron cat.

Carefully, carefully they hung their Valentines on the tree.  Why carefully – well, the tree is not totally stable.  The cat had already tipped it over.  Presto, the tree was finished.  We stood looking at the tree with the tinsel they had draped on it and at each of the Valentines they had made.

Fun, fun, fun.

Time for lunch.  I had made a plate of pbj sandwiches and had bowls of fresh berries.  As we sat down for lunch, I brought out two of their favorite Valentine books.  I said I knew they could read the books themselves, but it was so much fun for me to read to them.  My granddaughter said, “I really like it when you read to us.”  SO I did.  I read The Night Before Valentine’s Day by Natasha Wing.

As we went through the book, one child or another pointed out something funny on each page – like when the envelope stuck to the boy’s tongue or the principal came into the classroom dressed as Cupid.

Then I read Queen of Hearts by Mary Engelbreit.  We read this one every year.  My grandchildren like to watch as Anne Estelle adds more and more to her Valentine box, and they wait to see what she has forgotten to do.

Soon it was time for Mom to pick them up.  They ran to the door and told her to close her eyes.  They led her into the living room and placed her in front of the Valentine tree.  Then they told her to open her eyes.  Surprise.

Thank you for visiting Grandma in the Mailbox.  I hope you visit next week when I show you the fun I had greeting the Year of the Dragon with my grandchildren.


100th Day of School

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Classrooms everywhere are counting the days.  Kindergarten students are looking at that big number get bigger each day.   Teachers are making plans for the “big day.”

The 100th Day of School is celebrated widely in classrooms throughout the United States and Canada.  It is a milestone that marks the half way point in the school year – 100 days of class are over.  Classes have fun with the number 100 – collecting, reading, stacking, or even eating 100 items.

In my blog of January 29, 2011, you can find some books on the 100th Day of School to share with your grandchildren and also some of the fun projects they might be doing in their classrooms.

One set of my grandchildren has told me that their 100th Day of School will be January 26; the other will celebrate 100 days on January 31.  Of course, a snow day means a change in the day of the big finale.  Last year one day had to be changed twice because we had a snowy winter.

To let my grandchildren know that I am celebrating this big accomplishment along with them, even though we are miles apart, I am sending them 100th Day of School postcards to their mailboxes.

These came from

And, of course, I’ll add some riddles to the cards.

Why did the teacher wear sunglasses?  The class was so bright.

When is the moon the heaviest?  When it is full.

What is the shortest month?  May – it only has 3 letters.

What does the sun drink out of?  Sunglasses.

What kind of ball doesn’t bounce?  A snowball

What is red, white, blue, and yellow?  The star-spangled banana

What is a sleeping bull called?  A bulldozer

Where do snowmen go to dance?  Snowballs

My 6 year old grandson who lives 20 minutes away wrote me a letter today with a really funny riddle that I’ll add to the mix.   Why did the cow cross the road?  To get to the moovie theater.

These riddles (except for my grandson’s) came from  This website offers 100th Day of School items for sale.  These riddles are part of a booklet of 100 riddles that can be enjoyed during the 100th Day of School celebration.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next week I’ll show you the Valentine decorations that grace my house thanks to my grandchildren.  I hope you’ll stop back again.

This and That

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

A few things I have been thinking about -

Thank you postcards – If you have read a post or two in Grandma in the Mailbox, you might recall that I often send postcards to my grandchildren.  I have just mailed some off to thank them for my Christmas gifts.  I choose some of the colorful cards that I bought at For each child I selected his/her favorite animal – a card with kittens, a giraffe, a tiger, and, of course, a dinosaur. No riddles this time – simply thanks for the special gifts that they made for me for Christmas.

Birthday cake – I bake birthday cakes for grandchildren.  I also bake birthday cakes for my son who lives 20 minutes away. I have been doing this for – well, a lot of years.  His children like to consult with me about what Daddy’s cake should look like.  This year it was  between a Cub cake and a garden cake.  I actually wanted the Cub cake because it would have been so easy – “a piece of cake.”   The children opted for a garden cake since Daddy is a big time gardener.

The cake was topped with a variety of “plants” and even a rabbit barrier around some.  However, the rabbits seemed to be figuring out how to slip in for a munch of the plants.  The grandchildren thought it was just perfect, especially the peanuts M&Ms that were prominently featured.

Kitchen timer

I love my kitchen timer.  A most versatile and helpful apparatus.  Actually this is my replacement timer since I wore the first one out.

I naturally use it to time cookies and cakes as everyone else.  But I have a myriad of other uses for it.  I am not a fan of weeding the garden.  I tell myself that if I weed the garden for 30 minutes, then I can …..  The blank is always filled in with something much more fun.  Off I go to the garden to weed carrying my tools and my timer along.  The timer also helps me to clean the basement.  30 minutes of work in the basement means a big reward – a cookie maybe.

Sometimes in the afternoon I think a 15 minute nap is just what I need.  I fear that I might sleep too long and not be able to sleep at night so my trusty timer is set for 15 minutes.  Presto, I wake up ready to get busy again.

My timer is really handy when the grandchildren stop by for play dates.  Just the other day my grandson wanted to play with the Playmobile people.  My granddaughter wanted to play house.  Neither was willing to compromise and I could see a spat bubbling up.  Solution:  I said that we would play with the Playmobile people for 20 minutes; then we would play house for 20 minutes.

I set the timer.  When the beep, beep indicated Playmobile time was over,  no protest – no argument.  They were both ready to play house.  The beep of the timer is so much more effective than the voice of grandma saying, “time to stop.”

After we played house, the grandchildren wanted “free time.”  I said that we would have free time, and then we would make sundaes.  My granddaughter said, “Set the timer, Grandma.”  SO I did.

The book I am reading

When I last visited my grandchildren who live 3 hours away, I found myself awake while the household slept.  I spied a book that my 9 year old granddaughter had been reading.  The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu so I picked it up and read a few chapters.  Boy, it was good.

My granddaughter loves Greek mythology; as a former Latin teacher I favor Roman mythology.  She and I like to compare our gods and goddesses.  This book is a tale filled with Greek gods, sick and shadowless children and a plot to overthrow the Lord of the Dead.  Charlotte Mielswetzski (pronounced Meals. Wet. Ski.) and her cousin Zachary (nicknamed Zee) are trying to save the children.  The book is a long one for a 9 year to read, I thought, but it does go fast.  When I read it over lunch, Charlotte and Zee had just found the entry to Hades  down a nondescript corridor in the Mall of America.  They were about to enter the nondescript door with the nondescript sign NO ADMITTANCE.

If you know a child who likes mythology or the Rick Riordan books, this is a book that he/she would love.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mail Box.  I hope you stop back again.  I am going to be getting ready for Valentine’s Day soon.

New Year’s Resolutions

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Happy New Year.  2012  – a time for new beginnings.

Janus was the Roman god of doors, gates, beginnings, and endings.  (Yes, the old Latin teacher speaks.)  He was pictured with two faces – one looking forward and the other looking back.  The month of January was, of course, named for Janus.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?  Each January we hear on the news about the number of folks who have resolved to lose weight or get into shape.  Health club enrollments increase; however, by February often those resolutions are just distant memories.

We are told that New Year’s resolutions should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.  It is suggested that when you have decided upon your resolutions, tell people about your resolutions.  This makes you accountable and gives you a support system.

I have tried writing New Year’s resolutions, but they were not SMART ones.  Usually I wrote them down, and then I could not find the list of resolutions – until sometime in February or March when I cleaned off the top of my desk.

Perhaps this year I’ll resolve to make some resolutions – SMART ones.

I did make a resolution 9+ years ago.  This resolution was not made in January, but rather in August.  I have been very steadfast in keeping that resolution.

9+ years ago my granddaughter who lives 3 hours away was born.  When I was introduced to her, I knew that I wanted to see her sit up, stand up, take her first steps, and say her first words.  I wanted to get down on the floor and play with her.  That day I resolved that once a month I would see this sweetie – either by driving over  the river to her house or having her and her family visit my house.  Now 9 years later we still do this.  There have been few  months that we did not get together.  Weather and illness were the only acceptable excuses for missing a visit.

I was a “boy mom.”  I played wiffle ball and tossed the football around in the back yard with my sons.  As a child, dolls were not a favorite toy of mine so I needed help.  There were no Barbies or Polly Pockets when I was young.

This granddaughter gave me monthly lessons on how to play with girls.  My granddaughter was my mentor.  She showed me how to pick out dresses for her Barbies and how to dress Polly Pockets.  (I really didn’t like to dress Polly Pockets.  Their clothes were so tiny, and my hands were so big and clumsy.)

While her family was sleeping in on a Sunday morning,  she would get up early and we would get out her dolls and dress them for the ball – all of them.  Then there would be the parade of “girls” going to the ball.

After the ball it was time to take all the dolls back to their homes and get them ready to go to the beach. Change the clothes.  After fun at the beach, often another ball followed.  She was tireless playing with the dolls.  I hung in there and followed her lead.

My granddaughter had a wardrobe of princess frocks.  A visit to her house meant that we would play Cinderella at the ball.  She would dress up and pretend she was dancing with Prince Charming.  I would make the clock strike midnight with 12 dong, dong, dongs.


She would run from the room losing her glass slipper.  I was then cast  as  Prince Charming.  With the lost slipper in hand I would try it on all the real and pretend people in the house until I found the foot that fit the glass slipper.  Cinderella always smiled knowing she would now be a princess.

And then we would do it all over again.

This was good training.  I was prepared to play with my grandaughter who lives 20 minutes away and was born 2 years later.  Dressing the dolls and trying on Cinderella’s slipper were second nature to me then.

That resolution, although not a New Year’s resolution, was SMART, in more ways than one.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  I hope that you stop back again to visit.