We all have memories to share. Let's do this!
It happened again. There was an article in a local newspaper about sharing and preserving your story as well as your family's stories. And then a fabulous story on "60 Minutes" about StoryCorps which seeks to record videos of people telling their stories in order to preserve this informal history. It put me in a mind to continue writing stories of my time on this earth.
You might be thinking--who wants to read my story? Plenty of people do! We need to do this for our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren, our nieces and nephews, and beyond. And everyone, EVERYONE, has a story to tell.
A list of questions to answer seems a good way to begin.
Several years ago, my son and daughter-in-law gave me a book to begin to write my story. It's entitled, Legacy, A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Personal History by Linda Spence. (I notice it's still available on Amazon.) Now you can find sites online with questions for you to answer, but they are often generic and don't go much further than, "Where were you born?" Or where did you go to high school." That's fine and that's a start, but this book and other online sites go a little deeper and ask questions that are much more fun to answer.
A sample list of questions that dig a little deeper~
I cannot stress this enough. Someone will want to read your stories.
I was once at a dinner party in Round Rock, Texas, The hostess had just received an old letter from a relative that was quite a treasure, and she shared it with us. It was a letter from one of her ancestors who had fought at San Jacinto with Sam Houston! Now I realize most of us won't be sharing events like that in our memories, but I've loved my husband's family letters on life on the farm here in Texas in the early 1900's. I repeat.......someone will love reading your letters or memoirs. Take a look at this picture from a friend as her children and grandchildren read their great grandmother's letters.
It's a fairly quiet January, and many of us have some time to spare. Write your memories, or add to your memories. It's good exercise for your brain! Let's do this:
O Book described above, and it's a good one: Legacy~A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Personal History by Linda Spence.
O Article from the Houston Chronicle on preserving your stories:
O Online article with useful questions to answer in order to write your personal essays:
O One of my previous blogs about writing your story:
Making Christmas ornaments with the grandkids, and making them out of a wooden block from the craft store. And if your grandkids aren't around to do this, just add it to your own craft list. It's very fun.
I saw this idea on Pinterest. I simply got what I thought would be the needed supplies, including a package of wooden craft blocks from the hobby store, and let my grands do the rest. They are teenagers now, so I could turn them loose. They are so creative!
You'll need the aforementioned wooden cubes, pretty Christmas-themed papers, an assortment of ribbons and embellishments, hot glue gun and Mod Podge.
Here we go!
Calling all grandparents! If your grandkids aren't in town, or they're in town, but much too busy for this project, I suggest doing it yourself. It can fill up your cozy December evenings, and you can turn it into a keepsake ornament for your own tree or to gift to them for Christmas. Especially if you use their photos. I'll include a website for this at the end of this blog.
You can have a tea with your grandkids, and then make the ornaments. Just another fun get-together for you and your grandkids. We did that last year. I got the treats, but the girls made the canapés and set the table for us. Then we simply cleared the table and got busy creating. It's just another fun time that one hopes all involved will always remember!
And that's it! This is a blog for and about grandparents and grandchildren. And today's blog can work for grandparents only. If you're not able to do this with your grandchildren, it's a fun project just for YOU. Or invite some friends over and create a keepsake ornament. It's all good!
Another of my blogs about ornament making:
Blog about making photo ornaments:
Happy Christmas season to you and yours!
I have more crafts for the family. As it says on the box, for kids as young as three and as old as 103. So here we go. After this pandemic, I think we're all ready to celebrate the 4th of July in a big way. Involve those kids and grandkids in the home decorating with these crafts.
The first one is just a matter of buying some "Do-A-Dot Art®". Or you can get some finger-paint and some sponges. I think the "Do-A-Dot" markers are much easier. You'll also need a star stencil or pattern and let them paint around it. Very easy for even three-year-olds.
The next one is for the older kids. It involves hammering nails in wood and stringing embroidery thread so you'll have to be the judge for what your grandchild can do. Our grandson is seven and going on eight, and he was just fine with this craft.
It might be easier to show you the finished product before I go into any kind of explanation, so here is it.
As you can see, this involves a 5 inch by 16 inch piece of lumber, nails, red, white and blue string, and a 4 inch star pattern. Simply trace the star pattern on the board in three places, mark where you want your nails, hammer them in (but not all the way of course), and string the heavy thread. Voila! You've got yourself a pretty decoration for home or patio.
And there you have it--two more crafts you can do with your children or grandchildren. They love it when you make decorations together and love it even more when you use those decorations in your home. They beam with pride. We sent the string art home with our grandson so he could hang it in his house. We also put a sticker on the back telling the day it was made and signed it. If it survives his childhood, he'll have something to hang in his house and tell his kids that he made it when he was a boy.
Creating handmade items for this big summer holiday with the kids and grandkids!
I keep my seven-year-old grandson in the summer. And I recently had my 13-year-old granddaughter come to visit as well. I decided to plan some crafts for us to do while they were here. I thought I probably should use the time with my granddaughter to work on her sewing skills. She spent the night one night so we could work at the sewing machine without her 7-year-old cousin underfoot. We would do a craft with him when he came the next morning.
Making Pillows out of Tea Towels:
My granddaughter's family has a lovely outdoor sectional on their patio. We decided it would be great to make some patriotic themed pillows for that couch. I took the easy way out and just bought some 4th of July tea towels. That way my grand just had to fold, sew up the sides and bottom and we were ready to stuff those pillows. Easy as can be!
A Patriotic Ribbon Banner:
The project we all three did together, and that's suitable for the younger kids (at least if they know how to tie a knot), was a 4th of July ribbon banner made of red, white and blue ribbons. We started by walking in the woods to find some sticks and twigs that would be suitable for us to tie our ribbons to. After we settled on the size and look we wanted, we brought them back to the craft room and began to cut our ribbons. We had an assembly line to measure each strand of ribbon and cut. I had already bought the ribbon when the craft store had rolls on sale at half price. Then we were ready to simply tie the ribbons on the stick in any patterns we chose. An easy craft for young and old alike.
There you have it. Two easy summer crafts with the kids or grandkids. And it's a fun indoor craft--too hot in Texas right now to do anything outside.
As I always say, doing arts-and-crafts with the young kids is such a great bonding time. You can talk, share ideas, and learn what's going on in their lives. And you have cute pillows and a wall-hanging for Independence Day!
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.
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!