The best gift for Mother's Day? Something written or created by her children or grandchildren of course!
I was reminded of this recently. It was my youngest son Travis' birthday. My husband asked our grandson (Travis' son) what he would like to get his dad for his birthday. He went through the usual list of daddy-gifts, and then said, "My dad has everything. I want to get him a card and write on it, 'I promise from now on I will listen to you.'" When my husband told me that, my heart melted, and I told my husband, "That's exactly what he'll get him." Poppa took him shopping that day to pick out a card, and I helped my grandson write his promise to his dad. What a treasure that is.
I think things like that are the best gifts of all. A heartfelt promise written in your own hand. A poem to your loved one that you compose. A sweet essay about your mother. Those are wonderful gifts!
A questionnaire about mother for older kids~
I did this a few year ago with my grandkids for their dad on Father's Day. There are some great questionnaires online. They were older, so I printed out the questionnaire and had everyone go to their own corner and answer the questions. Then I printed their answers in a book. But you wouldn't have to go so far as to publish an online book. You could simply have them answer the questionnaire and fold it up in a sweet Mother's Day card.
I'll post a website with appropriate questions about mother at the end of my blog. Some examples are:
A questionnaire about mommy for the younger kids~
There are online questionnaires that are more appropriate for younger children. You can ask the questions and record their answers. You can do it in person, or over the phone or during FaceTime. And once again, tuck it inside a card and send it to their mother. Also, I'll give you a link for these questionnaires for the younger kids. Some examples are:
Asking the younger kids questions about their parents, turns out to be the best fun of all. When my oldest son was four, he went to a child development lab at a local high school. At Thanksgiving, he was interviewed (as were all the students) for a cookbook for their mothers. One of the questions was to share a recipe from his mother. I can't remember the recipe, probably how to cook a turkey, but his recipe began, "My mother washes the dishes once a week and then she . . . " I still laugh about that one.
So I hope you'll interview your kids, grandkids or even great-grandkids. Their responses to such questions are priceless!
Sample questionnaire for the young kids:
Sample questionnaire for the older kids:
My blog about a questionnaire for dads:
I found another craft idea for us retired folks! Painting bricks or pavers.
Yes, it happened again. I paint kindness rocks, and I was on Pinterest looking for more ideas for my simple, little rock art. And lo and behold, I found an idea for painting on bricks. So if you're looking for a hobby, or simply want to mix things up in your craft room, you might want to try this.
My husband is a gardener, so I knew I had to paint him a brick to place in his garden.
Very simple directions for this little craft. You can buy bricks or pavers at your home supply store. You might even have some stashed in the corner of your yard or in your garage. Then just get some craft paints specifically for outdoor use, and some acrylic to seal it when you're finished, and you are done.
You might want to make one for your yard, garden or front door. Or perhaps a friend or relative for use in their garden or entranceway. I think they are really sweet.
After I completed the paver, I looked for a place to put it in one of my husband's gardens. I tried several locations.
Next you'll want to decide on the sentiment or quote you want to write on the brick. I considered several, and I'm sure you'll know exactly what you want to write. I tried to keep it as short as possible. Here are some ideas:
And there you have it--another craft idea to add to your repertoire. Retirement can be the best time of your life. It's fun to fill it up with lots of crafts, sports, travel, and other activities. Go for it!
The link to that last brick idea:
Calling all grandparents! I found another way to use those photos on your phone!
I recently did a blog about using your phone camera to take pictures of gratitude. You can either create a photo gratitude journal, or simply scroll though them at the end of the day to count your blessings. www.gigisseasonings.com/blog/pictures-of-gratitude
Then I realized I had a lot of photos on my phone, and that I really should do something with them. I found numerous websites, and tried out some of those ideas. I shared them with you in another blog: www.gigisseasonings.com/blog/making-use-of-the-photos-on-your-cell-phone
With this week's blog, I'm sharing another idea I found--decoupaging photos on a block of wood.
My husband had some 2x4's that I decided I could use. I had him cut me blocks that were 4x8. That turned out to be a good size for this project. I stained them before I proceeded.
Next I played around with various photos I wanted to use. I opted for a favorite photo of my grandkids. Then I searched through vacation pictures and pictures I had taken on walks around my neighborhood.
But wait! There's more! There are other materials you can use for your decoupage. You can use a stretched canvas that you get at the craft store; a slate tile, and even a 12x12 terra-cotta floor tile. The list is endless.
So there you have it--more craft ideas with those photos on your phone. Besides enjoying them as you scroll through your phone, or placing them in a gratitude journal, you can decoupage them to display around your home and enjoy again and again.
And if you're looking for a craft idea to fill your days, this just might be it.
Until next week!
Tell your family's stories. George H.W. Bush said it best: "You are the living link to the past. Tell your grandchildren the stories of the struggles waged, at home and abroad, Of sacrifices they made."
I've written about this subject before, but I don't hesitate to write about it again, as I think it's that important. And some of my readers weren't interested before. But perhaps now, in this time and place, you might give writing and telling those stories a try.
The seed for this blog came about through Facebook. During Black history month, there were some great stories posted. And now it's Women's History month, and again, wonderful stories. We all have some great women in our own families--strong women--with wonderful stories that should be told to our children and grandchildren. And no matter how small the stories may seem, it makes those ancestors come alive for all of us.
Do you have some relatives or friends still alive who were part of the Greatest Generation? Interview them and tell their stories while we still have time! My husband and I have one parent left from that generation. It's my mother-in-law, and she's sweet to let me interview her. We all know how the older generation loves to reminisce, so I actually think she enjoys it.
Ask questions about some world event. You get a lot of insight into their soul when you frame questions around some struggle they went through. For my mother-in-law it was World War II.
I loved asking her this question. I need to know and certainly my children and grandchildren need to know. That war was certainly much more than the facts we memorize in school. These were real people, OUR people, that went through this. And their tales are not about the glory of war, but of the day to day struggles of ordinary people.
She told me about rationing and food scarcity. She recounted how German planes were shot down in the area of her farm, and how they feared that an enemy might be hiding in the countryside or in a neighbor's barn. She told about sirens going off which meant you had to take cover.
A favorite memory (for me) reveals so much of our ancestors' love and humanity. My mother-in-law recounted about some of the fun times that they did have during the war. She and her sisters would walk to town and go to the movies. It was war-time and England suffered from constant bombing from German bombers, so at night, there were no lights turned on--it was a total black-out. The girls would have to walk home in the dark, and as they crossed the final fields to their farmhouse, they could see a tiny light in the distance. They knew it was their daddy puffing on his cigarette and waiting for them by the back gate. My mother-in-law said that would make them feel so safe, to know their father was there waiting for them. I think that is the sweetest memory and speaks to me, and I hope my children, across time and space. A father's love and care--something we can all relate to and makes our ancestors real.
I hope you'll interview some of your older (or younger) friends and relatives--an aunt, uncle, older cousin, parent, grandparent, great aunt, or a friend from church or work. Just the asking of questions is important. It's great for the interviewer as well as the interviewee. And then repeat some of those stories to your children and grandchildren. It's all good!
And if you're writing your story or stories of your relatives, please share your ideas with me. I love to hear, and I promise to share in this blog.
You have your grands after school, or for a surprise Saturday visit, but you're stuck in the house? And you have exhausted all your usual indoor activities? I've got some ideas for you.
Get out your flashlight/s and begin!
First suggestion: Go for a search in the dark.
This activity is kind of like an Easter egg hunt, but it's in a darkened room, no eggs are involved, and your grandchildren have to have flashlights. Flashlights just add to the fun. You simply hide some items available around your house. It can be anything really. At Christmas we hide Christmas bows in the dark. You can hide ABC blocks if you have them in your toy chest when the kids come to visit. It so happens that at my house, my grandson had a set of small toy dinosaurs which we choose to hide. When he was younger, we used to say we were going on a dinosaur hunt. And you can add to the fun by letting your grandchild hide the items for you sometimes--they seem to enjoy that as well. I'll let these photos tell the story.
Second suggestion: look for flashcards in the dark.
My grandson comes to our home after school. This was a suggestion from his first grade teacher as a way to practice his sight words. You might remember from school or from your own children learning to read--sight words are high-frequency words that you just have to know by sight--a child really cannot "sound them out." In school now they are often called popcorn words because they pop up in your reading a lot. The teacher's suggestion was to make flashcards with them and post on the wall. Then darken the room and give your child a flashlight. You can do several things with them--call out a word and they have to find it with their flashlight; they can read all the words as they shine a light on them. Or you can shine the flashlight on the card and they have to read it. It's such a simple activity, but my seven-year-old grandson loves it.
You might not have flashcards to do this activity, but searching for anything could be a fun rainy day activity. Perhaps you could play eye-spy in a dark room with a flashlight. One idea always leads to another. . .
Third suggestion: create constellation shape on paper, place on flashlight and project on wall or ceiling.
Rather than try to recreate what we did, I'll just share the PBS website from which we got this idea. It's a good one too, and is perfect for a rainy day.
Spring break is coming! It just might be that you FINALLY get to see your kids. And as always seems to happen during spring break, it just might rain. Now you have some rainy day fun with these suggestions. Until next week!
An hour with your grandchildren can make you feel young again!
Tell your stories! We're the link between the generations.
How many times lately have you said something like this. . . I wish I'd asked my mother what it was like on the Homefront during World War II. I'm sorry I didn't ask my grandfather about Vietnam. I regret not asking my parents about the Great Depression. I should have asked my aunt about the Kennedy assassination. And the list goes on and on.
And it's likely that your children and grandchildren won't think to ask you. But that doesn't matter, you can write about it, and leave it for them to read. Someday they will really appreciate that.
And another thing!
We're still in a pandemic! I know a lot of you have had your vaccine, but health specialists are telling us don't get out there yet. We're still being cautious and staying home a good deal of the time. After almost a year of this, you're probably looking for something to do. Such a good time to write or record your memories. Good for you and good for your family--JUST DO IT!
You find writing about your childhood to be tiresome? Pick a news event that you lived through and write about that. That will recharge your batteries!
Want to know how to do that? Perhaps these tips will get your started.
Simply write down any and all big news events from your lifetime. And yes, you can google it. I did. Just look for world news from any decade, the 1970's, 1980's, and so on. You'll find some things you hadn't thought of.
Just choose one that you have many memories about. And you don't have to start in writing your account--just jot down any facts or anecdotes that come to mind.
Here's my random list about Watergate:
And the list can go on. . .you get the idea. The next step is to decide how you want to record it for posterity.
A mini-book. . .
I chose to make a mini-book about some of my "Eyewitness to History" events. It satisfies two needs of mine. My need to do something "artsy-crafty," and my desire to write my memories down for my children and grandchildren.
I keep all my mini-books in a large box that I purchased at a craft store. I'm a visual learner myself, so I'll just show you with pictures:
Please, please, please understand. I do not share this with you to brag or pronounce, "Look what I've done!" As I've stated many times in this blog, I've never had an original idea. The seed for this was planted by an Austin friend who did mini-books in her classroom with her students. I also got the idea from a friend who makes beautiful greeting cards from gorgeous papers and fabulous images she finds. To get one of her cards is a treasure. I wanted to try that craft for myself, and I chose to do it with these little books.
I also share because it might give you an idea of what you can do with your stories. I think that is what life is about--live and learn and pass it on!
And finally I did this blog today as I think it serves two purposes. This is a blog mainly for grandparents, and we are of an age where many of us want to share our stories. If you haven't started writing some of your stories down, perhaps this will encourage you to do so. And I find mini-books to be such a fun craft. In these days of the pandemic, perhaps you are looking for a craft--this is a fun one--something to occupy your time.
I'll close with a testimony from a high school friend, Tricia. I copied her comment (with her permission) from a Facebook post:
"I've been hand writing a book for my daughter who will share with grandkids or anyone else someday. Just stories about my family, first memories, etc. Really just those stories we tell our kids, but in writing. It was her suggestion. Been fun to reflect on my life too. Working now on adding my feelings and thoughts about monumental world events during my lifetime."
Blogs I've previously written about mini-books and memoir writing:
"Each of us is a book waiting to be written, and that book, if written, results in a person explained." Thomas M. Cirignano
*Whoops! I almost forgot. I titled today's blog, "Telling Your Stories, Part III". I have no idea how many blogs I've written on this subject. I fudged on that title.
A home craft just in time for Valentine's Day!
Last week's blog was about using photos for your gratitude journal. I listed suggestions for photos garnered from the internet. But it occurred to me that we could also put those photos to good use so others could enjoy them as well.
Craft idea #1~
Simply frame your photo. My husband took this picture of a monarch butterfly visiting the milkweed in our backyard. He liked it so much, he framed it. That's easy--we can all do that, and I'm sure you have.
Craft idea #2~
Use those photos for notecards, particularly those nature photos you take on your walk. Simply find those photos and gather them up. Decide which ones would look good on a note card.
You can either have your favorite printing place print up your photos, and then simply glue them on your notecard. You can find blank notecards at craft stores or stationary supply stores. They even come with envelopes.
I am fortunate to have a printer at home and the PrintShop program downloaded on my computer, so I can create my cards at home. I just use card stock, and can make them any size I want.
Craft idea #3~
Make postcards! Then you don't need envelopes and you can save on postage. How delightful for friends and family to receive one of your postcards in the mail.
Same technique. Just find those nature photos from your walks or from vacations and make postcards. Look for those panoramic views that would lend themselves to a postcard size. And my PrintShop app has postcard-making in one of their projects, so all I had to do was download my photos to that. But if you buy card stock and make your own, a typical postcard is 4x6 inches.
Important reminder: When making postcards, DON'T use photos printed on photography paper. Print those postcards on card stock or have your local print shop do that.
Craft idea #4~
And I think this craft idea is the most fun of all, and can be used for gifts for the upcoming holiday--Valentine's Day!
I did this myself to give for gifts on Valentine's. I chose to use family photos rather than nature views. I made one coaster for each of my immediate family. I made four--one for my daughter-in-law, one each for my two sons, and one for my husband. I imagined that they could use them on their desks at home, work, or school. I chose photos that would appeal to each of them, in this case, a family photo, an individual photo and for my husband, a picture of all his grandkids.
The how-to's of making coasters using photos~
Now mind you, I've never had an original idea. I just googled crafts using photos and discovered these ideas. I only share with you in case you might not have thought of it. That's how I get ideas besides googling and looking on Pinterest. Oftentimes my readers share with me or one of my friends will tell me about their latest project. My motto is, live and learn and pass it on!
Now back to how to do this. The website said to get some of those 4x4 ceramic bathroom tiles. Guess what? When I went to my big box home improvement store, THEY DON'T HAVE THEM ANYMORE. But I told the clerk what I was looking for, and he said he had 4x4 samples of flooring. And guess what? They were FREE!
I found images that would work with that 4x4 size. The one of the four grandkids that I was making for my husband didn't lend itself to 4x4. So I printed it out 2 1/2x4 and I think it looks just fine.
Finally. . .
Print your image on card stock (DO NOT use actual photos printed on photography paper) and simply decoupage them on the tile. Paint Mod Podge on the tile and place the photo on. Use a roller or ruler and press out any air bubbles, etc. After you let that dry, spray with several coats of spray acrylic. And you're done. I'll post a "how-to" website at the end of this blog.
And there you have it. Now you don't have to leave those "pictures of gratitude" on your phone. You can share them with others. When I found this idea on Pinterest, I knew I had to share.
Until next week!
The website with the 'how-to's':
Back to my blog!
I've missed you people. We've been through a crazy ten months what with this pandemic and all. It was hard for me to get to my keyboard and write a blog during this time. My blog is about grandparents and grandkids and that was hard to write, what with most of us grandparents being isolated from our families due to Covid. But things are looking up a bit, so I'm writing my blog again. Besides, it was on my new year's resolutions--tee hee.
A reminder about Gratitude Journals~
I've written about gratitude journals before. I also think they are/were a great way to get through this pandemic. When the days seem long and you can't be around friends and family, you can go to your gratitude journal...or START ONE! It's like the old church hymn--"Count your blessings, name them one by one..." But I was reading about a twist on this. Take some pictures for your gratitude journal. This piece of advice posted on Facebook reminded me of this endeavor:
There are at least three ways to use photos on your cell phone to make you feel gratitude.
The first one is listed above, simply take photos as you go through your day. Now mind you, you don't have to do this every day, but sometimes. It is fun to go back and look at photos. Sometimes on Facebook, a friend will suggest posting the last picture on your phone, or the 12th...whatever it is. I always get a kick out of going back to see what was the last photo. It's just small things like this that get us through the day and bring a smile.
The second one is about using a list of specific photos to take as you go on your morning walk or as you travel to the grocery store (wearing your mask of course!), or bop around the house. Here's a silly list to complete as you take those photos:
But wait! There's more!
The third idea is to simply have a photo gratitude journal that is nothing but photos of things you love or enjoy. Or just slip those pictures into your regular journal. It's all about living in the moment and realizing your blessings. It simply makes you happier!
My precious 90-year-old mother-in-law loves photos of her kids, grandkids, great grandkids and soon to be great-great grandkids! She doesn't want photos texted to her. She wants what she calls "hand copies." You know, photos she can hold in her hand. When we send her pictures, she keeps them all in a box, and delights in pulling out that box and going through those photos again and again. I think a lot of us do that. So you might try it--keep a PHOTO gratitude journal.
One last idea for picture-taking that I happened onto~
This one was billed for young parents, but of course it's great for us grandparents too, when we are fortunate to have our grands or great-grands visit once again. I think there are some great ideas on here. I'll post the link at the end of my blog.
And there you have it! A different take on gratitude journals using photographs.
I think in the past year we've gone through some difficult days--from the pandemic to the trying times in our nation. I'm always looking for something that will put a spring in my step once again. I think a gratitude journal is one way to go. Try it, you'll like it.
And as I always say, if you have some ideas for gratitude journals or family photography, please share. I love to hear from my readers.
Until next week just sign me, Gigi of Gigi's Seasonings.
"Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality really is." Anonymous
The website with ideas for taking candid shots of your children:
My other blog about gratitude journals:
How about we make a nectar list! It's the opposite of a bucket list, and really rather fun!
I think we all could use a distraction. Yes, a distraction from this pandemic. . . we're going into the seventh month of this. And we're right in the middle of a very contentious election. We need something fun, or at least different, for our brains and psyches. I think a "nectar list" is just the thing.
What is a nectar list, you ask? I read about it in the Huffington Post a few years ago. The author of the article, Sierra Vandervort, describes it as making a list of things you've already done. She says, "We need to reflect on the good things that have come to us in our lives. Even if you don't feel like you've done anything huge with your life just yet, I guarantee you can find something to look back on and be proud of."
She further stated that the idea for a nectar list came from an urban dictionary. She read "that sweet nectar was slang for 'to live' like kick the bucket is slang for 'to die.'"
I started trying it out in my journal and it's rather fun, and frankly therapeutic. And you don't have to have traveled the world to put things in your list. It's places you've been/seen, people you've met, experiences you've had from childhood to now.
I'm stashing my copy of my nectar list in my journal or smash book for my children and grandchildren to read after I'm gone. I'm putting silly things from my youth and childhood....mostly so they will know and come to realize that I wasn't always a stuffy old grandma. They need to know I was young once like them and lived for fun times and laughter.
So trust me when I say it doesn't have to be things like, walking through the ruins of the Roman Senate or hiking up Pike's Peak. Here is just a silly list I made of my childhood. Oh yes, and be sure and embellish it with fun descriptive phrases--you want them to be able to SEE what you did. Tee hee. . . .
Examples from my list:
Making your list as an adult; you can embellish those too! Or not!
Once again you can add typical adult things to your list, like giving birth to a baby using the Lamaze method. Or paddling canoes on Town Lake with your family and being unable to paddle because you were laughing so hard.
The author of the article on nectar lists added some silly things to her list: spitting out a wad of gum from the top of the Empire State Building. Or finding the premier recipe for mac-and-cheese. The items you put on your bucket list can be such things. Makes it fun for you, and fun to read!
But wait! There's more! Maybe you HAVE traveled to some great places here at home and abroad. Of course, here's your chance to add them to your nectar list.
Here's a peek at my list:
Start your nectar list NOW! And during this pandemic when we are not getting out much is the perfect time to start such a list.
I'll end with a family picture. This trip was on my bucket list. I always wanted to take my grandkids to a local state park that I loved as a child. And I've been able to take all four of my grands. So this trip was on my bucket list and now it's on my nectar list--one of the SWEETest things I've done. I encourage you to start your nectar list today.
Huffington Post article from which I got my nectar list idea from several years ago:
Calling all grandparents! Be sure to share your hobby with your grandkids no matter what it might be--quilting, snorkeling, painting rocks, golfing, tennis. It's all good, and very rewarding to share.
My husband enjoyed teaching and playing golf with our oldest grandson. He was so enthusiastic about it that I asked him to do my blog a couple of years ago. Well, we've added to our in-town family since then, and he's been golfing with two more kids. Here, I'll let him tell you about it.
Earlier I wrote a blog (for my wife) on sharing my love of golf with my grandchildren. It actually focused on my experience of teaching and playing golf with my oldest grandson. What joy those days were. Last year my youngest granddaughter decided she wanted to learn the game. And as it was with my grandson, it was such a joy to teach her the game of golf and then actually play a favorite course.
We started last summer, it was hot, she survived, but then school started, and it became difficult to find time to play. But this summer she made it clear to me it was time to start up again. We went to the driving range and then played. Like her brother, she is left-handed and so you can imagine how difficult it is trying to “reverse” your teaching to accommodate a lefty. And she has grown over the year. Then we noticed the clubs were too short—or she was too tall for them! What better birthday can you give a young athlete than a new set of clubs. She has a July birthday, so we surprised her with clubs. And then we were off to the golf course.
But there is another story. In my last blog, I mentioned I came across a set of starter clubs. At that time my youngest grandson was only four years old. But I decided I could not pass on these clubs, so I bought them, and they sat in the garage. Earlier this summer, my grandson, who is now six, asked when he could start playing. Six years old seems awfully young, but we went to a local park and he began to hit golf balls. Teaching him how to swing a club was a challenge at first, and then he just started hitting the ball—straight and with some distance. After three days, I decided he was ready for the big time—a real driving range at a real golf course. He continued hitting the ball with consistency. We tried the putting green. He did well. The next day we went back and spent time on the chipping hole. He was just developing a very good swing—both driving and chipping.
So I felt he was ready to play the game. Of course, I am concerned about ensuring he does not slow down the golfers behind us. In the beginning he would tee off about 50 yards from the green. Then 75 yards. Then 100-125 yards. Each time he decided when it was time to move further back. And then he started hitting from the front tees on the par three holes. That was a big thing!
I was wondering how many holes he could play until he was ready to quit. Was he really going to enjoy this? Boy, was I surprised! The kid is six years old. He was focused. He consistently hit the ball straight and with some distance. He began to understand and analyze what club he needs—long iron or short iron. When to use his wedge. When to use his putter. I just loved to hear him say, when he was close to the green, and getting out of the cart— “wedge and putter.” And off he went and off I went to hit my ball. He never complained about the heat or the time it took to play. No matter what, he was going to play 18 holes.
Now he does have his own rules. He is not sure of scoring other than he knows it just has to go into the hole. At the end of the day we are tied (I am not keeping score) only because we both got the ball into the hole. But he has decided his score should be based on how many putts it takes to get the ball into the hole after he gets on the green. And did I mention the front tees on the par three holes? He has had legitimate bogies from the front tees. He plays fast, sometimes running from one hit to another. No slow play—if anything we catch up to others. He just loves playing golf and each time we play he gets a better understanding of the game.
And what a joy it is to play with him. He is always talking and asking questions. And talking about anything that comes to his mind. We do have a problem though. He loves nature. We have been taking nature walks all year. And sometime on the golf course, he veers into taking a nature walk. He just wants to see those turtles and egrets.
We have been taking care of our grandson on a daily basis due to the pandemic. So this has allowed us to play golf. Maybe twice a week. When my older grandkids heard about this, they wanted to play too! And having all three of them on the course at the same time is really a blessing and just a joy. They all play well together. My oldest grandson is always helping his sister and even helping his younger cousin. And of course, that six-year old cousin/grandson, is also giving them pointers—since he is a six year old and knows it all!
A big thank you to my husband for doing my blog this week. What a blessing for him to play golf with his grandkids. I'm thinking it's like heaven on earth for him.
Please consider sharing your hobby with your grandkids. It will reward you tenfold!
The first blog my husband wrote when he just had one golfer to accompany him to the course:
Your children are your rainbows. Your grandchildren are
your pot of gold.
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!