Last week's blog was written by a friend who took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to France and the British Isles with her children and grandchildren. Be sure to check out last week's post if you missed it, as it had lots of tips and advice for making such a trip with three generations.
This week I'm including the family's reflections of that trip. Judye had sent me the impressions of various family members of that journey. You can judge for yourselves if such a trip would be worthwhile for you and your family. I'm voting, "YES!"
Learning about the many Celtic myths surrounding the Irish countryside was one of the most amazing parts of my trip.
It’s fascinating how the Irish population explains such phenomena as the natural rock formation, known as the Giant’s Causeway as being the result of an ancient war between the rival giants, where the giant named Finn McCool enraged the other to the point of destroying a stone bridge.
We also beheld a castle where Cuchulain is said to have lived after slaying a vicious hound and earning the honor of the local chieftan.
We saw rock formations said to have been caused by Oisin where he had apparently demonstrated his strength after he fell in love with a spirit of death and became the strongest man in all of Ireland.
In Ireland, the number of people who believe these stories even in the modern day is astounding.
The abstract knowledge of these stories’ existence would have been marvelous enough, but that awareness was reinforced by many sights witnessed throughout the trip.
Our guide, Allen would explain to us that there were many Hawthorne trees that farmers deliberately left standing in the center of their field, because of their fear of retaliation by the “fey-folk” said to inhabit them.
Every story felt more tangible because it was punctuated by the amazing views we were able to absorb throughout the course of our vacation.
I will always remember The Book of Kells and The Giant’s Causeway and I will always carry stories of Finn McCool, Cuchulain, and Oisin with me wherever I go.
My favorite part of the trip was our boat tour in Cobh, Ireland. We all went out on a small motorboat through Cobh Harbour and around the little surrounding archipelago. Our tour guide gave us the historical background of our surroundings and took us around the islands to see the wildlife – he even pulled a moon jellyfish out of the water so we could get a closer look. He then took us to the nearby village of Crosshaven, where he lived, to get Irish coffees in a local pub. He was a great tour guide, really convivial and the sights on our boat ride were breathtaking. It was a perfect intergenerational activity because the boat tour eliminated the difference in physical ability between family members, and we got to spend quality time with one another while also exploring Ireland.
I remember that the paintings all hung like big square eyeballs, and I remember that we looked up at all the ones we recognized and some we didn't and they all looked back down. We stood like broken columns, but they stared at us like we were made of fluted Ionic concrete, or something else that's so old we all might be its grandchildren, and they stared with a gaze like Greek fire, but not as hot, or like Hellenic steel, but not as strong. I remember that there was something archaic amidst us and the paintings, something that we never knew and the paintings had forgotten because it had passed it down to too many generations. Each big square eyelid closed heavier over the painting the more we looked, and it waited long to be revived the way that all art must. I remember thinking I was lucky that whatever museum this is, has so many centuries of these things, from artists whose names you hear your parents say, or their students, or their students' students. That's our reason to be here. But not everyone's, because sometimes the best part of a museum is watching other people, and our grandparents stood quietly like armless statues and looked at us the same way the paintings did.
And lastly, the grandfather's musings:
My experience on this trip can be described with three main elements. First, there was the raw awe- inspiring experience of seeing in person artistic masterpieces, historical relics and cultural icons that one has read about and studied, but never really expected to be able to see.
Secondly, there was for me special significance in our day trip to Achnacarry, the historical site of the Cameron Clan and home to the current Lochiel, Donald Cameron, Chief of the Clan, who invited us into his home and gave us a personal tour. My Mother gave me the name Donald Cameron and always told me is was a special name. For nearly 300 years, a Donald Cameron has been the Chief of the Cameron Clan. Standing on that land, visiting the little Cameron Museum, seeing and hearing the sense of history and family pride, I began to really appreciate what that connection to one's family history really means.
And finally, being able to watch my grandchildren and see their interest and excitement as they explored and learned and grew in their appreciation for the unique qualities as well as the commonalities of the different countries and cultures we visited was perhaps my most treasured experience from our trip. While we each got to choose the day excursions that we wanted that also meant that we had a variety of experiences to share when we returned back to our cruise ship each evening. And it is the sharing and retelling of our experience that really binds us all together.
I'm so appreciative of this family taking the time to write about their fabulous trip and sharing on this blog. I know I'm inspired to take our grandchildren to my husband's ancestral home in Scotland. Sending much gratitude to Judye and her husband, and their daughter, Arlette, and Judye's three grandchildren. Thanks again!
Last week's blog with all the great travel tips and planning--
Planning a trip abroad for three generations. It can be done!
Last summer a sweet Facebook friend posted pictures of her family's trip to France and England. Because this blog is (mostly) for grandparents, I'm always on the lookout for things exactly like this to share with my readers. How did they go about this? How did they carve out the time? How did they know what excursions to plan? How did they include everyone's wants and needs? My questions were endless. I also wanted to know what they considered the blessings and benefits of such an endeavor because, after all, that's really what it is all about.
I asked Judye if she would write my blog about the experience, and she did me one better. Besides letting me in on the back details, when she got together with her grandkids this Christmas, she asked them to write about their experiences, and they complied! What a friend! And what a family!
So here it is for you to savor and decide if you want to engage in such a trip with your children and grandchildren. Judye and her daughter Arlette have given us some good tips. I'll start with them:
From the grandmother, Judye~
More tips from Judye:
Tips from Judye's daughter, Arlette: (The middle generation represented here; also called "the mom")
Choosing a trip:
I started by asking my parents what are their “bucket list” trips. They have lots domestic travel wish trips, but I thought I could help most by planning international travel, as they haven’t done that in a while and one of my kids and my nephew haven’t either. So planning and implementing an international trip would help both the younger and older generation. My parents’ wish list included: Alaska, Hawaii, and Scotland/Ireland. I chose to think about planning Scotland/Ireland, and I started planning a full 18 months ahead of time. I thought about, since family member has memory and accessibility challenges, ways to travel easily. I looked at guided tours where they move your luggage, “hopper” tours where you are on your own but they help move you from city to city/country to country and cruises. We chose a cruise because you return to same the room every night, and can see the most places. We traveled on the Princess Cruises 11-day British Isles cruise as it seemed like the best deal for the most locations.
Getting buy-in from multiple families/generations:
I asked everyone if they were interested.I made sure to accurately describe the type of trip it would be. For example, my daughter, in her late teens, loves live music and nightlife, but we would have to be back on ship most times by 6pm or sometimes 9 pm. I made sure she understood that before she committed. But I suggested she think of it as an “appetizer” or tasting menu--she could experience a bit of many places and decide where to go back. My brother and sister-in-law travel frequently for work and weren’t interested in an 11 day cruise. But they were interested in meeting us at the beginning or end of the trip! So we extended our start of the trip in Paris, and had a fabulous three day weekend with them. Sometimes you can do part of a trip together and some generations can keep traveling or go home.
Communicating to plan:
I found that teens/20somethings respond to text messages the best. So once we had our group, we texted to plan the trip. When we had everyone together for a holiday, we chose excursions on the website. Each family booked their own vacation, but we did it through the same cruise travel agent. We purchased plane tickets through the cruiseline so they would help us get to and from airports and help with missed connections.
Leave room for different generations/people to do different things and take time to tailor
We made people aware of what the excursions were. It is fun to do different things sometimes, and then come back together for dinner and talk about your adventures! In Inverness, we didn’t choose any of the day-trips offered. I contacted the Visitor’s Center by email and asked for recommendations on tour guides for personalized day trips, and we planned a personalized tour of Cameron Clan lands in Scotland. I was nervous about a personalized tour, but it turned out to be one of the best days, and was actually less expensive than some of the other excursions! We saw the flag flown by the Cameron clan at Culloden, and saw the house lived in for three generations by our ancestors, and unexpectedly met the Lochiel—the head of the Cameron Clan. We made amazing memories!
Note from this blogger:
I think these are great tips! I want to thank Judye and her daughter for providing us with such great ideas about how to go about such a trip.
Please note, next week we hear from the grandkids with their reflections. And grandfather too! If that doesn't inspire you to plan such a trip with your kids and grandkids, I don't know what will! Thanks again to Judye and her family!
Do you have some treasures you want to pass down to your children and grandchildren? How about decoupaging a box?
In previous blogs I wrote about telling stories that have been passed down about your ancestors. Your children need to hear those stories. I chose to do it with little mini-books. Pinterest is full of ideas about those little books, and I wanted to give them a try. I had so much fun, I wanted to pass that idea on here in my blog.
But I needed something to keep those little books in. There are tons of decorative boxes that you can get in craft stores. But I needed one wherein I could try my hand at decoupaging. Also I wanted to personalize it. In my search for the perfect box, I found a "Santa" box at my local craft store that looks like a big book. I decided that was perfect.
Finding the perfect box!
After I found the box that fit my needs, I got out my Mod Podge and started decoupaging. I put the youtube video that includes directions at the end of this blog. I simply used scrapbook paper and card stock that I deemed appropriate for my box. I was set to go!
Note the papier-mache box above that I also found. One could really get creative with such a box. You could even use paints. Whatever...just have fun. If you're looking for a "New Year's" craft, I think this fills the bill.
And you don't have to use it for ancestor stories as I am doing. It would be great for favorite family photos, essays about your children and grandchildren, or essays about those ancestors--you don't have to create a mini-book.
I've heard of grandparents writing a letter to their grandchildren to be read upon the grandparents' passing. These little boxes would be perfect to house those letters. The ideas are endless.
I plan to include more mini-books to this collection.
Previous blogs about writing ancestor stories:
Youtube video on how to decoupage:
Websites for making mini-books:
I'll end with a quote from previous blogs. I simply love it:
"I am bound to them, though I cannot look into their eyes or hear their voices. I honor their history. I cherish their lives. I will tell their story. I will remember them." Author unknown.
We've done bucket lists for autumn, for November, and December. We're on a roll--let's do a bucket list for winter!
I know, I know. Some of you HATE winter. You despise the cold and well, you hate the cold. I get that, honest I do, But instead of being in a snit for a couple of cold months, how about embracing it for a change? They say it's a great time for humankind to take a break and retreat. . . replenish. So this year, maybe one of your New Year's resolutions can be to try to enjoy winter.
Now I myself LOVE winter. I love snuggling by the fireplace, reading a book or watching the bowl games with my hubby. I just love it. I love the clothes, from bulky sweaters, to leather boots, I love winter scarves, and warm socks. I love cold weather--a great excuse to stay home and stay warm, and maybe do a bit of baking. I love it!
So let's proceed with our bucket list for the lovers of winter as well as the haters. Maybe the latter can find something they love about it this year.
This is what I found!
I've culled the internet and Pinterest, looking for a "Winter Bucket List," and these are some of the items I found:
But wait! There's more!!
There you have it! Ideas for your winter bucket list!
Embrace the season. Have some fun. Do something this winter you haven't done before! You only live once. I quoted Michael Jordan in a previous blog about bucket lists, and I'll do it again: "Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen." I like that! Enjoy the next two-three months. And please share with me any other ideas you have for a winter bucket list.
* I got this recipe from my sister Barbara. It's great for winter afternoon tea or coffee. Such a nice winter's day treat:
Party Games, some new, some old!
New Year's Eve or even New Year's Day is a great time to get together with family. All the obligations are over; now is the time for some fun. Here in the South we get together to eat certain foods, particularly black-eyed peas. But chips and dips and college bowl games are the order of the day as well. And it's always fun to play some games.
Besides the usual games your family might play, here are some you could add.
New Year Scattergories~
Played like "Scattergories" of course, but I've added these questions that pertain to the holiday. See your "Scattergories" game box for the rules. If you have younger children, put them with an adult so they can play too. This is fun for everyone.
Just print this game sheet out so everyone has a copy. Check your Scattergories game box for rules or get online. But basically you roll the dice with the letters of the alphabet on it. Let's say someone rolls a "D". Then everyone writes the name of a winter sport that starts with "D". (Perhaps "downhill.") Then continue down the list. A song title or lyric that starts with "D," and so on down the list all starting with a "D" on the first game. You set the timer, and then stop when the timekeeper announces. Points are given if you are the only one who had an answer that no one else thought of or wrote. I'll post the website with the rules.
Do You Know Me?
The next one I call, "Do You Know Me?" Pass out slips of paper and pencils. Someone is the reader. The reader reads the question and everyone responds writing their answers on their slip of paper. Papers are then turned in to the reader. The reader reads the responses. Everyone else tries to guess who said that. Points are given to the person/persons who correctly guesses who said that. On the next question, assign a different reader so everyone has a chance. After all rounds, the person with the most correct guesses wins.
Here are some sample questions. Party-goers can also come up with questions of their own to submit.
Happy New Year to all my blog readers! May your 2020 be happy and bright with a year full of blessings. And stay safe this New Year's Eve.
Website with Scattergories rules: www.wikihow.com/Play-Scattergories
WAIT! Don't take that tree down yet!!
Write the stories of your ornaments! You'll be glad you did.
Two years ago I did a blog about taking pictures of your Christmas decorations and including all the pictures in a book. www.gigisseasonings.com/blog/a-book-of-christmas-treasures
And yes, I used one of those online photobook-making sites, but you could certainly do a scrapbook. Any way you choose to preserve those memories. You could even gather your grandkids and great-grandkids around and tell the stories of your ornaments. Oral history is important too!
I was reminded how valuable this is on this Christmas holiday. I set my book out and discovered my kids and grandkids going through it. It prompts a lot of discussion about family history.
Here's a peek inside my book:
The photos you include don't have to be only heirloom ornaments. Got a beautiful ornament recently from a dear friend? Include that ornament! And you can write something about that friendship--how long the friendship has lasted, how you met, and her personality traits.
Be sure to include those picture ornaments of the grandkids. They'll get a kick out of seeing those old photos in your book.
Always include handmade ornaments. For certain those are real treasures, especially if they get passed down through the ages.
You get the idea~
I just wanted to remind you to do this before you take your tree down, and put those decorations away. There are blessings twofold to this--you'll love photographing the ornaments--it will bring back fond memories for YOU. And you'll love documenting details in a published photo book or scrapbook for your children and grandchildren to read and cherish.
This blog is about sharing ideas. Please let me know if you do this. And let me know about other books you've created along these same lines, whether it be family Christmas photos through the years, or a book of favorite Christmas recipes. The ideas are endless. I love when you share, and I always pass it on to others.
Blessings to you in the new year!
Just to repeat--here's my blog from two years ago with this same idea:
Crafts and Christmas seem to go hand-in-hand~
I see my friends and family making decorations for the house. And if they are not doing that, they're busy making Christmas gifts for a homemade Christmas exchange. It's all good and it's all FUN!
For the past couple of years, I've tried to get together with my grandkids to make some Christmas ornaments. They are out a week at Thanksgiving, and that seems to be a great time to get together with them.
And we try to make it fun--maybe do lunch, then return home for dessert, hot chocolate and some crafting. I've tried to find homemade ornaments that would be easy, and be something that really would add to their tree. And we do it with an eye for saving them, so they can eventually add them to their own tree.
I found some this year that we could make which entailed decoupaging to thin wood plaques.
Here's a sample:
The supplies I had to purchase included some Christmas card stock papers, Mod Podge, beads for embellishment, and thin wooden plaques. From my own house I got out scissors, other embellishments I had on hand and old Christmas cards as well as a hot-glue gun.
Very basic instructions~
We simply chose a paper that we liked for the ornament, trimmed it to fit the wooden plaque, and coated the plaque with Mod Podge. I provide a link to the youtube video that shows how to do this below. Then we let it dry for 20-30 minutes and then hot-glued or decoupaged our chosen decorations. Easy, and it makes for a lovely afternoon of conversation while we are waiting for each coat to dry.
On the tree!
After I sent them home with the girls, I texted my granddaughter to send me pictures of them actually adorning their tree. She complied.
Also, please note: we included a label on the back with each girl's name and the date it was made. Then they can (hopefully) show their children and perhaps grandchildren. I can dream. (Insert chuckle here.)
Crafting with the kids and grandkids--nothing better!
Such a fun day or afternoon. You can made it as special as you want--pop popcorn, put on the Christmas music, make hot mulled cider or hot chocolate. Just another family tradition for your children to carry with them their whole life through.
Parting Christmas thoughts~
"Christmas now surrounds us, happiness is everywhere. Our hands are busy with many tasks as carols fill the air." Shirley Sallay
"Christmas gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things around us." David Cameron
Video demonstration for decoupaging:
My blog from last year about making Christmas ornaments out of cookie cutters:
Happy holy season no matter which holiday you celebrate. Good wishes to ALL!
"How did it get so late so soon. . .December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?" Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss was right! Here it is almost December. We need to get cracking on our December bucket list. The important thing is to add some things to your December list that you haven't done before. Makes for a very good life.
I like what Jim Rohn said, "We have two choices; we can make a living or we can design a life." Or as my sister Barbara always says, "Life is what you make it." So let's make December a fun and rewarding time.
Start with your list. . .
So many websites and blogs to help us create a list~
Here are a few ideas I found:
So many special cultural and holy events fall during this month. Of course we'll all be adding to our list based on the holy day we celebrate, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.
My list includes many items that are based on Christmas. But I'm thinking they could be adapted to any holiday celebration--especially winter holiday festivities.
Add to your Hanukkah bucket list and traditions~
Kwanzaa bucket list~
This relatively new observance for African-American families is rich with traditions, and activities to be done each night. Such a wonderful family celebration of heritage and history. It's difficult to think of what else could be added, but here's a couple of ideas:
Christmas bucket list~
"Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others MAKE it happen." Michael Jordan
Enjoy creating your December bucket list. Add some new items and traditions. You can make it happen!
Happy December to all!
Interview a relative this holiday season while you still have the chance!
How many of us have lamented that we didn't ask our mother this or our grandfather that? Curious what life was like for your daddy on the farm during the Great Depression? Or what it was like for your uncle serving in Vietnam? This holiday season....whether it be Thanksgiving or Christmas...sit down with those relatives and talk to them. And this year you might focus on the BIG EVENTS of our lifetime. It's important to get their firsthand knowledge and thoughts.
And not only that, get your kids and grandkids involved. Encourage them to sit down and visit with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and ask them questions about the big events of their day, and what their "take" was/is on these happenings. It can make for very rich discussions and will help them add to their family story. That in turn will add to their own identity and self concept.
Start with the BIG EVENTS~
I sat down and came up with a list of what I considered the big events of our lifetime. I consider these events things that had an impact on our lives and our culture. And for sure our kids and grandkids will be studying these in school. How valuable to interview their relatives and get firsthand information.
More on the BIG EVENTS~
I'm thinking you might pick out a big event and be prepared to ask a relative about it. And that relative does not have to have participated in a civil rights protest march or been in the war, but they certainly witnessed such things and felt the effect of them. Ask them about it.
Or you can simply print out your list of what you consider the outstanding events of the last century or this century, and hand it to them. Let them speak about any of the happenings in that list.
And you won't just be learning firsthand accounts of these news events of the day~
You'll also be learning even more about your loved one. And let's not forget that for some of our elders with some memory loss, reminiscing can be hugely important.
Don't leave out some of the little-discussed major events~
Our kids might not know there was ever a time in our history (besides the Great Depression) where we experienced sugar rationing or gasoline shortages. They should know this.
Websites with interview questions to use~
My blog from last year about interviewing relatives during the holiday~
And one of my recent blogs about telling our ancestors' stories:
"If you don't know history, you don't know anything. You're like a leaf that doesn't know it's part of the tree." Michael Crichton
"Old men and women of the village are books of history and wisdom." African proverb
Another fun craft with the kids and grandkids~
I'm always looking for a craft to do with my grandkids, especially for holidays. I found this one online, and I'll provide the link at the end of this blog. I thought it was cute, and something that my six-year-old grandson could help me with. Then he would have a gift for his mother, teacher, and bus driver.
Once again it involved a trip to the craft store to get the silk leaves, small clay pots and raffia.
It also involved some wooden hearts--two sizes; and some wooden spoons. Remember those? They're like the wooden spoons that used to come with ice cream cups back in the day. And yes, they have them in the craft store.
Next? The painting!
That's where my grandson really had fun. And he added ideas of his own. The sample cup online wasn't painted, but he decided that painting the clay pot would make for a really colorful turkey. And I agreed. I like all his creative ideas.
Finished turkey cups~
I assembled them as it involved a hot glue gun and I didn't want him to burn his fingers. He was content with all the painting, and picking out the prettiest leaves for tail feathers.
The many uses of turkey cups~
We came up with a few things these cups could be used for:
It's always fun to do a craft with your grandchildren. And to be able to add their art work to the seasonal decor around their home or grandmother's home is especially nice. They beam with pride when telling others that they made it. And to be able to tell the teacher that they personally made the small gift brings them such satisfaction.
This blog is all about sharing ideas of things you do with your grandchildren. Please write and share any ideas you have that have worked in the past.
Happy Thanksgiving to ALL!
Website for turkey cups~
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!