To learn about the Chinese New Year, do a craft with the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids! And what could be more fun than a Chinese paper dragon! That's what we did.
Really no instruction from me. It's so easy to get online and find instructions for Chinese paper dragon masks or instructions for the entire paper dragon that you so often see in the Chinese New Year parades.
So get out your supplies that you might have around the house (especially for when your grandkids visit) or get yourself to the craft store. We got out crepe paper (for streamers), construction paper, crayons and markers, scissors and paper plates. We also printed up some masks for ideas on how to design our dragon mask.
How about a parade?
I consider that I have two sets of grandkids. I have one set that are now teens and preteens. My youngest is six years old, so now I'm doing a lot of the activities I did when my first set of grandkids were toddlers. When they were little, we did the entire dragon and went to the park to parade around under the cover of our paper dragon. That's fun too. So if you can get a group together, I recommended that. My youngest comes after school, so we just did a mask. He had fun with that too.
And that's it!
As I always tell you, doing a craft with the young ones is always so rewarding. It's a great one-on-one time when you can really talk. And it's always important to share other cultures and traditions. Makes for a more well-rounded child.
And because the Chinese New Year is in February, it helps alleviate the winter blues! It's just something fun to do with your kids.
Here are some youtube videos you and your grandchild might want to watch together:
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:
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!