Have you ever wanted to ease the burdens of your family facing the back-to-school schedules and the return to reality? One of the best ways is with an evening meal that you prepare and deliver.
I suppose the seed of this idea was planted years ago. My sister had just married and was probably overwhelmed with the work-a-day world, and all the obligations of married life. Whatever the reason, my mother decided that she would prepare a meal for the newlyweds. I'm not sure what she prepared, but I remember dessert was my sister's favorite, homemade cherry pie!
When the meal was cooked, I helped my mother put everything in the car. Then we were off to Barbara and Richard's little duplex apartment. Of course it was locked, but we found a unlocked window. We took off the screen and mother helped me climb in. I unlocked the backdoor and with giggles and chuckles, we placed all the food on the small apartment's cookstove. I remember how happy my mother was--we both were. It would be such a surprise for my sister and her husband!
My sweet daughter-in-law is a kindergarten teacher and school is back in swing! I used to teach school too, and I remember full well how hectic (and tiring!) starting back to the daily grind of teaching school can be. It's fun of course, but exhausting. Add to that your own children who are returning to that world as well. If I can help out with a home cooked meal and deliver it, then by golly, that's what I'm going to do.
Really no step by step instructions for this in this week's blog. Just prepare some of their favorites and meet them at the house. I realize you could prepare the meal, and invite them over. But you know how it is--they have dance lessons, athletic practice, homework assignments and a myriad of other activities. Sometimes it's just easier to deliver a meal. And there's that element of surprise that seems to make everyone happy!
But my children and grandchildren don't live in town.
Then send them a gift card! That's pretty simple and much appreciated this time of year. There are wonderful delis, delivery food services that will bring a prepared meal to your home, and just about every restaurant has a "To Go" service with parking just for those customers. Very easy in this modern world. So do it! Send your family a gift card!
But wait! There's more!
My son and daughter-in-law have a box of mealtime questions at their family dinner table. Each person grabs a question out of the box, and in turn, answers it. If they don't use the questions in the box, then usually my son or daughter-in-law asks a couple of questions: 1) What was the BEST thing that happened in your day; 2) What was the thing that happened that you least liked?
As you can see, their philosophy is not merely supping together, but truly bonding and having family discussions.
So for the meal I'm taking this week, I plan to include some questions. You can find them online, but here are some samples:
You get the idea. And even if you don't add some conversation pieces, just preparing a meal or even picking one up and delivering, is the best! Make someone's day--JUST DO IT! I could tell from my mother's face from that long-ago delivery that she was the one having the most fun! We should all take a lesson from Granny!
*One final note: Take some paper goods. You don't want them to have to wash dishes. ;)
To all you grandparents out there: Are you still fortunate enough to have a living parent? Then send them a care-package!
How wonderful to have the matriarch in your family still alive and well. We need to honor and respect them and nurture them the way they did us and our children. And one great way is through a care package. If they live in town, you can still do a care package. If they live in another city? Nothing better than receiving a care package in the mail.
I do better with care packages if I can come up with a theme. There are tons of themes and suggestions online and on Pinterest. Some of the ones I do are often based on the seasons--a "Box of Sunshine," a "Fall Surprise," a "Spring in your Step." You get the idea. I love to send my mother-in-law care packages....mostly because she is a fabulous mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She's the cherished matriarch of our family, and we all love her dearly. Sending her a fun package every once in a while makes me very happy--selfish I know.
So it's August in Texas with the oppressive heat never ending. I decided my theme this time would be "Chill Out." As I said, it's much easier for me to think of silly little gifts for the box if I'm focused on a theme. So for my "Chill Out" theme, I went with cool, blue items and cool mint treats. (Every box of surprises has to have sweets!)
Once I establish my theme, I just head to my favorite craft store. I have the best time in there looking for anything "blue." I found a blue notepad to put by her telephone. I also got a glass candle holder. She's not big on burning candles, but I got her a supply of LED tea lights. I also went to a linen supply store, and bought her blue tea towels (Doesn't everyone need to refresh their tea towel supply occasionally?) and a new guest fingertip towel for her bath. Just silly things I know, but I have fun with it, and she always seems to enjoy discovering what's in her box. As you can see from the photo, I even found some blue cooking utensils.
Here's my list (but you'll come up with much better ideas):
The shopping continued--
Next I went to the grocery store to pick up some treats. My mother-in-law hosts a coffee klatsch most afternoons when friends and family (but really, with my mother-in-law, EVERYONE is family) are getting off work. It's fun to include some treats in the box that her coffee chums can enjoy. Again, the treats were in keeping with my theme.
I printed up a card for the box and stuffed the box with lots of blue tissue paper. . . of course! I just try to have fun with it!
This blog is for and about grandparents. And if any grandparent readers are lucky enough to have a surviving parent or in-law, I hope you honor them. My blog is about nurturing the relationships you have with your grandchildren, but we should honor and tend to the relationships with our own parents. Those surviving members of our families, whether it be parents, grandparents or dear aunts and uncles are deserving of our love and devotion. The love and wisdom they can impart is a precious thing. Sending a care package is just another way to say thank you for all they mean to us.
Tag, you're it!
If you have sent care packages with a special theme, please share. I'm always looking for new ideas, and I know my readers are too. Share anything you've done for the generation before us--I'd love to hear that too. We've got to keep stirring the pot!
Added note: My emphasis was on a matriarch as my mother-in-law is the last remaining relative of that age group. But of course you know, these suggestions apply to grandfathers and great-grandfathers as well!
As your grandchildren get older and approach the teen years, do you find yourself in a quandary as to how to entertain them at your house in your backyard? That was my dilemma, but in this blog, I'll show you how we solved it.
Seems to me, entertaining the little guys in your backyard is not so hard. Many of you still have the swing sets left over from your own kids--lucky you! My husband and I moved to a new house, so that wasn't an option for us; but nevertheless, it's still pretty easy. We offered our young grands a small sandbox (hours of fun), bouncy balls (the kind you sit on and bounce across the yard), and even a LARGE empty box providing endless fun. But as the grands get older, it's not so easy. You can see their eyes glaze over as the adults talk on the patio. You certainly don't want them inside watching TV. What to do, what to do? My husband and I opted to make some games that we decided were pre-teen friendly, and that we could ALL play.
Tiki Toss game- Okay, okay. We didn't make this one. We bought it at a local toy store. And as I researched this blog, I found the hook-and-ring game available at Walmart for about $15! But all it requires to make is a hook, a ring and some string. I've included a website with the instructions.
Yard Yahtzee- Now this one we did make. My husband bought a 4x4 cedar post and cut it into 4-inch cubes. Then I used a wood-burning kit to make the dots or pips on each side. I opted for burning the dots rather than painting. I just used a game die for my pattern and copied it. It's played the same as regular Yahtzee. It gets everyone up and out of the house and throwing the dice around the yard from a bucket!
Dart game- This is a regular game of darts, but you just play it outside. Not to be confused with that deadly game of yard darts from several years ago. I found this one on Pinterest, and my husband copied it. It's mounted on a plywood board, and we play at one end of our garden, not out in the open yard where someone might get hurt. My husband has very strict rules about where waiting players stand, etc.
My husband made a backboard out of plywood, 24x30. He sealed it so it wouldn't warp out in the weather. He mounted it on a 6 1/2 foot cedar post. The post is placed in a pail of sand.
Cornhole game- I actually think we called this one bean-bag toss back in the day. My husband and I didn't make this one; our son and grandson did. It's a great father-son or grandson-grandpa project to build together, so I wanted to include it here. We love to play this game in the backyard, and we even take it for tailgating in the fall.
Here's the youtube video with building instructions:
Ladder Golf- Another fun game. My husband actually got this game for his birthday one year. We had the plans to make it, but our family bought it for him. This game was mentioned in a previous blog about camping with the grands. I'll include the link at the end of this blog. I've also included a website with directions for making your own out of PVC pipe. It's one our whole family enjoys!
Link to website for making your own ladder golf.
Link to my previous blog about games to play when "gramping."
Backyard fun with the grandkids! I hope I've given you some ideas of things to do with older grands in the backyard! You don't want to be stuck in the house entertaining the grands as the Texas autumn fast approaches--that's the best time to be outside in the Lone Star state! And to make one of these games WITH your grandkids would be even better.
As always, I ask you to share your ideas of things you've played in your backyard or at family reunions. I love to hear and I always share.
It's never too late to share your hobby or your interests with your grandchildren! Maybe this story of inspiration will set you on that track!
A couple of years ago, my long-time friend wrote me about a family vacation--a vacation she and her husband took with some of their children and grandchildren. It was one of those stories one loves to hear, and makes you express.......gee, I would love to be in THAT family.
She and her family members visited New Mexico and the Enchanted Circle. Her husband, her son, and two of her grandchildren made plans to climb a local mountain. What a bonding time....for all! Those that made the hike and those that stayed behind. Here, I'll let Kathy tell the story:
With great excitement, four of our family members left before sunup on July 4, 2016 from our cabin in Angel Fire. My granddaughter named their group the "Independence Patrol." This motley crew of our family consisted of my husband, our son and his daughter, and our oldest daughter's son. Together they were off to conquer the highest peak in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak, a mountain between Red River and Taos.
Now my family is spread out geographically and our times together are few and sometimes far between. This was a rare time for the most of us to be together. And especially these four who had never interacted as a team or group before.
We all knew the hike would take all day. We felt a bit nervous as we said our goodbyes knowing they were beginning a 30-mile drive to the site for the challenging climb. When they left, we all crawled back in our beds. I picked up my cellphone and found this beautiful prayer my daughter-in-law had just posted (from her bed upstairs) on Facebook:
"Dear Lord, please protect Luke, Amber, Granddad and Cutter today as they climb Wheeler Peak. Give them strength, endurance and light, but grounded feet. Let nature be their friend and guide. Bless them with the beauty that surrounds them, great weather, and above all, a wonderful and divine experience. We ask you to hold them in this special time together and let them, in the presence of Your land, feel You. Please bring them back safe and sound. Amen"
When the sun came up, the rest of us had coffee and breakfast, dressed, and left to drive over to Red River to meet them later in the day at the foot of the mountain. We could think of nothing but our climbers, and we talked and wondered about them every minute. On the way to Red River, miraculously one of the group texted from the summit, and that's when we pulled over to take this picture of ourselves knowing the Independence Patrol was at the top of the mountain behind us!
We knew there would be challenges with the climb. . .more so for a couple of the group than the other two! The beauty they saw as they climbed (to be eventually above the tree line) was something they shared through their priceless pictures.
I think often of these four souls and the challenges they met and faced individually and as a group. They experienced together what the rest of us were simply dreaming about. It was pure joy for us to see the weary party at the foot of the mountain. For the rest of their days, these four will know they conquered that mountain, and they did it with each other. My husband said, "You reach a point when your body is telling you to quit. . . but no one did."
Michelle's prayer was answered that day--"Bless them with...a wonderful and divine experience. . . . And please, bring them back safe and sound."
Thank you, Kathy, for sharing this wonderful experience in my blog. I hope it's an inspiration to other grandparents. To my readers: Kathy made a small keepsake book for various family members based on this experience. She included a quote from Dr. Seuss in that little book. I'll end this week's blog with the same quote:
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!