Saturday, December 9, 2017
I am delighted that my second grade granddaughter's team teachers have spurned the traditional Christmas "gimme, gimme, sugar coma" classroom party in favor of a charitable endeavor. When my room mother daughter, Christy, was approached for suggestions, she pounced without hesitation! A local cat rescue - our favorite! - continually needs shelter supplies for the numerous animals it rehabilitates and offers for adoption. Students would contribute "wish list" items instead of exchanging gifts. The "craft station" at the party would find them tying kitty-sized, catnip scented fleece blankets - gifts to adoptees headed home during the cold winter months ahead. When both teachers purred with excitement at the idea, Christy and I put our paws together and got to work!
An ample cardboard box covered in bulletin board paper does the trick! Grateful Santa Kitty is born of paper and card stock scraps. My own wish is that kids will be excited to fill it to over-the-top generosity!
I'll let you know how it goes!
Meow-y Christmas, everyone!
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
This is a sponsored post.
I received a copy of "I Have a Grandma Who..." in exchange for my honest review.Collectively, my ten grandchildren have a total of six grandmothers, all of whom I consider great, even though only two actually meet the generational requirement that earns that term! We love with all our hearts and offer help and support wherever possible. In addition, we each have specific talents and interests that provide a rich treasury of experiences and knowledge to share with our families.
Looking beyond our roles as warm laps to nestle in and the source of indulgent "just because" gifts, we grandmothers deserve to be recognized as individuals worthy of praise and admiration from the children in our lives. This focus further develops the strong bond that the Foundation for Grandparenting asserts raises self-esteem, levels of emotional and social skill, and a sense of personal roots, history, and belonging.
You'll enjoy this book, too, grandma! And so will your grandchildren.
Find "I Have a Grandma Who..." for a reasonable $12 here:
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
The kids don't know it yet, but they're going to superstar in a post-dinner Thanksgiving play at grandma's this year. Considering their love of theatrics, I'm confident they'll gobble up this opportunity right along with savory sweet potatoes served on the rapidly approaching family day of thankful feasting.
A Cast of Cousins
Age level consideration is the most challenging part of writing a play that includes everyone. My eight active participants (infants #9 and #10 will be sitting this one out!) range from seven and nine year old Pilgrims confidently spouting terms like "religious freedom" and "Wampanoag Indians," to a trio of four year old Native Americans requiring prompting on lines as simple as "Here! Have some turkey!" Our remaining cast members (two year old boys) will find themselves described on the playbill as "Turkey 1" and "Turkey 2" and "Ear of Corn 1" and "Ear of Corn 2!" A goofy string of gobbling or total vegetable silence is all I'll require of that lively pair!
Props and Costumes
My majestic Mayflower, lightweight and two-dimensional, glides on stage in Act 1, Scene 2 propelled by a boarded trio of Pilgrims. It's six feet wide, cut from a decorated cardboard box. Paper sails with flag glued to a wood stick mast complete an impressive six foot height.
Headbands identify male Pilgrims, three Indian squaws, and a pair of toddler turkeys. Our female Pilgrim sports a paper hat constructed from simple instructions found multiple places on Pinterest. "Ears of Corn" that appear in Act 2, scene 2 are light cardboard/tissue paper cut outs on a stick.
Ready to go? We are!
This three act play is for young children. It captures the general idea of the first Thanksgiving. Add or adjust historic details depending on ages/size of your cast. I purposely included points that will become answers to the Thanksgiving Trivia game that follows the play. This time, kids will be asking questions to determine if their parents were paying attention! Every correct answer earns a sticker token; winner holds most of them at game's conclusion! See suggested questions after the play script.
ACT 1 - Scene 1 November 1620
Three Indian squaws sit together at stage side....
Indian #1 - (gestures outwardly) "We have lots of corn this year!"
Indian #2 - "We are really good at growing things."
Indian #3 - "We know how to make delicious food and save it for winter so we won't be hungry when it's cold."
ACT 1 - Scene 2
The Mayflower arrives carrying three Pilgrims.
Indian #1 - (looking surprised at the arrival) "LOOK! LOOK! What is that over there?"
Indian #2 - "It is a really big boat! There are people on it!"
Indian #3 - "Who are those people? They have tall black hats. They don't look like us!"
ACT 2 - Scene 1
Indians approach the boat.
Pilgrim #1 - "Hello people! We have sailed from England and have been on this ship, the Mayflower, for 66 days."
Pilgrim #2 - "We are seeking a better life in a place where we can find religious freedom."
Pilgrim #3 - "I am so glad to see land. We have traveled 3,000 miles with men, women, and children and some animals, too."
Pilgrim #1 - "It was a difficult trip. We began with 102 people and one sailor died. The good news is that a baby boy was born during our journey."
Pilgrim #2 - "We have had sickness and death on our long time at sea. There were some fierce storms, too. We have only a limited amount of food left, mostly dried meat and beans."
Pilgrim #3 - "These people look kind and friendly and well fed. Maybe they can help us get settled in this new land."
ACT 2 - Scene 2
Pilgrims exit the boat.
Indian #1 - "You people look hungry and tired."
Indian #2 - "We have lots of good food and nice wigwams to live in."
Indian #3 - "We take care of the land and use only what we need. If you are going to live here, we will help you do the same"
All Pilgrims - "THANK YOU!"
Pilgrim #1 - "We would like your help. This land is new to us and we will need many things to survive."
Pilgrim #2 - "Besides food, we will need houses. I am glad there are many trees here for us to cut down and use."
Pilgrim #3 - "It will be up to the women to cook while the men are building. What kind of food do you have here?"
Indian #1 - "We have cranberries! Lots of them!"
Indian #2 - "We have corn!"
("Ears of Corn #1 and #2" come out and stand on stage.)
Indian #3 - "We have turkeys!"
("Turkeys #1 and #2 come on stage, run around, and say "gobble, gobble!")
Act 3 - Scene 1
Pilgrims line up to narrate.
Pilgrim #1 - "After a first very hard and cold winter, thanks to the Wampanoag Indians, many Pilgrims survived."
Pilgrim #2 - "The Indians taught us to grow squash, cranberries, and corn, and hunt for deer and turkeys."
Pilgrim #3 - "We learned how to make canoes from trees and fish like the Indians do."
Act 3 - Scene 2
Indians approach Pilgrims.
Indian #1 - "You Pilgrims look happy now."
Indian #2 - "You have food and strong houses and medicine."
Indian #3 - "We are very happy to share with you."
Pilgrim #1 - "We are thankful for our new home here."
Pilgrim #2 - "We are thankful for the corn you taught us to grow and prepare."
("Ears of Corn #1 and #2" come out and stand on stage.)
Pilgrim #3 - "We are thankful for turkeys!"
("Turkeys #1 and #2" come on stage, run around, and say "gobble, gobble!")
Pilgrim #1 - "Would you Indians like to come and feast with us?"
Pilgrim #2 - "The five women left in our colony would be happy to prepare a delicious meal for all of us to share."
Pilgrim #3 - "We would like to celebrate your kindness and our thankfulness. We will serve meat, pumpkin, corn, squash, and other delicious food.
Indian #1 - "We would love to come to your dinner."
Indian #2 - "We will all bring food, too."
Indian #3 - "We can all be thankful together!"
Act 3 - Scene 3
Entire cast is sitting on a blanket, passing plates and gesturing eating.
Indian #1 - "Here! Have some turkey!"
Indian #2 - "And some delicious corn!"
Indian #3 - "We are happy to share with you!"
Pilgrim #1 - "This is a time to be thankful for your kindness to us."
Pilgrim #2 - "This is a time to be thankful for our new land and your friendship."
Pilgrim #3 - "This first Thanksgiving is an event to celebrate every year with family and friends to thank God for what we have been given!"
Performance concludes with a lineup of cast who take gracious bows after individual introductions amid wild applause! GREAT JOB, Director Grandma! You take a bow, too!
Follow Up Fun!
Are you like us? We're just getting started after a production like this! Our audience always wants more, more, MORE!!!!! And so we give it to them! Here are a few ideas:
COMEDY SHOW - Every family has its own perfect candidates who'd be naturals at regaling the crowd with cute Thanksgiving jokes. You'll find 20 of them here, at Lisa's Grandma's Briefs blog. If you get there quickly enough, you won't be stumped when you're asked, "What always comes at the end of Thanksgiving, Grandma?"....(trot right over to find the answer!)
SPELLING GOBBLE (same as a "spelling bee" but, well..."Thanksgiving!" - and besides, it's November! Bees have long left Plymouth, Massachusetts for the winter!) It's not hard to come up with a list of words that keep kids as young as six in the competition. But if you detect anxious glances at televised football from daddies and grandpa, just toss in words like "Wampanoag" and "Massachusetts" to knock 'em out early and send 'em (thankfully!) on their way!
THANKSGIVING TRIVIA - My three oldest grandchildren read well and will ask the following questions. Were parents paying attention to the play, where some answers were hidden? Hmmm.....this is how we find out!
1. How many days did the first Thanksgiving last? (3)
2. Which president declared Thanksgiving a national holiday? (Abe Lincoln)
3. What landmark shows where the Pilgrims landed? (Plymouth Rock)
4. True or False - All turkeys, male and female, gobble. (False - only males gobble; females cackle)
5. What is the busiest day of the year for plumbers? (day after Thanksgiving)
6. What other country besides the United States celebrates Thanksgiving? (Canada)
7. When is Canada's Thanksgiving Day? (second Monday in October)
8. What famous American wanted the turkey to be the national symbol? (Benjamin Franklin)
9. In the 1600s when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated, which utensil was not yet invented? (fork)
10. How many Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower for the journey to the new world? (102)
11. How many survived to be present at the first Thanksgiving? (50)
12. How many of that number were women? (5)
13. Who did all the cooking for the first Thanksgiving? (5 women)
14. Which Indian tribe helped the Pilgrims survive? (Wampanoag)
15. What type of houses did the Wampanoag tribe build for themselves? (wigwams)
Sunday, November 5, 2017
This is a sponsored post for which I have been compensated.
All content and graphics provided by VSP Vision Services.
From Self-Employed to Retirement - Making the Move After Working for Yourself
Did you know, the older you are, the more likely you are to be self-employed? One-fourth of those 65+ call themselves 'boss'. But where does that leave you when it comes to retirement?
For the self-employed, retirement looks different than for everyone else. If you are your own boss, you need to plan your own exit strategy. After all, you do this to fulfill your own dream, not an employer's, right?
You need a plan for our long term needs and lifestyle goals, especially since we're living longer. According to the SSA, married couples at age 65 today have at least a 50/50 chance that one of them will live to at least age 90. Need help getting going? Here is where to start:
- Your Statement of Account with Social Security
- Your Retirement Estimator
- Retirement Toolkit - Department of Labor
- Your Retirement Benefit: How it is Figured - Social Security
Evaluate any plan that you have...do you still need it? Is it possible that additional payments are unnecessary? Whether your employer offers benefits into retirement or not, it is worth taking note of individual plans you might need, even if they are just supplemental. For example, our eye health is even more critical as we age. VSP Individual Vision Plans save you money on essential eye care needs, materials and more. Think you don't have a vision need? Well, comprehensive eye exams are about more than just correcting blurry vision. They provide clues to your overall health than you might think, like offering a clear view of blood vessels and cranial nerves.
A big piece of the retirement puzzle is figuring out how and where you want to live. Options around house and home are many, so just take it back to your personal situation and goals. Do you own your home and is it paid off? Do you want to be closer to the grandchildren or move to where it's always warm? Do you want to stay put, but access your home equity? These are all things to consider when entering retirement.
Comprehensive eye exams provide many clues to our overall health.
Being self-employed is about building the life you want, whether you retire at 65 or give up working altogether. Think about how you eventually may feel. Even if you can afford a life of leisure, will you miss working? So much activity has moved online that you might be able to work on the side from anywhere for a long time to come.
There is much more! Learn more by downloading the resource guide: Self-Employment to Retirement - Making the Move After Working for Yourself, brought to you by VSP Individual Vision Plans.
Finally, let's look at the big balance. In a large corporation, the workers work to fulfill someone else's vision, dreams and goals. But in a small business, you work to fulfill your dreams and goals.
Being self-employed is all about building the life you want. So your retirement needs to look exactly the way you want it to look. This is your retirement! You don't have to do it at age 65. You don't have to sit on your porch. You don't have to give up working all together. You can literally do anything you want. Just make a plan.
VSP is America's leader in eye care benefits and offers affordable individual vision insurance to people who don't have employer-provided vision care. Serving 72 million, VSP helps one in five Americans with their eye care needs. Visit VSPDIRECT.COM for details or to enroll in a VSP Individual Vision Plan today.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
"Halloween-ies" defined: quick, easy-to-make decorative bursts of the spooky season!
Everybody's looking for these this time of year because there's not a moment to spare. Why waste seconds that could be spent eating Halloween candy purchased in July because it was on pre-holiday special and satisfied that smug feeling of being stocked up?
Okay! Moving on!.......
Paper Punch Drink Lids
A 3" circle works for the base of each topper. Find shapes progressively smaller to layer in contrasting colors and patterns. Plastic spiders, ants, or flies are welcome, too! I use recycled Starbucks coffee drink bottles for perfect kid-sized servings. Poke a hole in each topper for a festive paper straw and hand them out!
Spooky Snack Baskets (pictured at top)
If you purchase your coffee drinks in the four-pack size, you've got a handy little tote to stuff with snackable monsters! Spray paint it black, decorate with punched orange dots, and round up some wraps! The green spinach guy holds a savory cheese and veggie filling, while his paler sidekick supplies dessert in the form of a PBJ spread. Attach baby carrot noses and big buggy confection eyes with a tiny dab of peanut butter. Personalize each snack tote if you're expecting more than one little grand-goblin at your family Halloween event!
"Dying to Know How Many!" Estimating Jars
This is my way of contributing to the classroom Halloween parties my daughters enjoy planning as "room mothers." They're charged with providing games and treats, and I like the way this educational activity creates a whirl of excitement and suspense for the classmates of my grandchildren.
Teacher receives everything - including the answer sheet! - the day before the event so there's plenty of time for each child to carefully inspect every jar before estimating. Winners (those who guess closest without going over) are announced at the party.
I found my 32 oz. jars at Just Artifacts, although I see that Oriental Trading carries pint size (16 oz.) ones now, too. Present them smartly decorated in the same style as paper punch drink lids - and don't forget to make "freebies" for your own grandkiddoes!
This is not a sponsored post. The brand names and businesses I've mentioned are for the convenience of my readers. And that includes the Snickers coma I'm currently immersed in - thanks pre-season Halloween candy sales! 👻
Thursday, September 28, 2017
This is a sponsored post for which I have been compensated.
All content and graphics provided by VSP Vision Services.
1) ALTERNATIVE WORKSPACES - Many towns and cities offer pay-as-you-go or affordable short-term workspace. Co-working options include informal open spaces with shared amenities like break rooms and fitness desks, or more formal offices that mimic the corporate environment. Perhaps "maker spaces," "commercial kitchens," or "incubator space" suits your business. Check out local social and traditional media for shared workspace locations near you.
2) GROUP BUYING & LOCAL DEAL SITES
Sites like Rewardli or AppSumo leverage the power of the crowd to save money on office supplies, travel services, and more. Research group-buying sites with the best offerings for you.
3) BANKING & FINANCIAL SERVICES
Banks have specialists to help self-employed people manage their banking and credit card options. Online financial services groups like Lendio make it easier to get small-business loans. For that retirement nest egg, self-employed folks can create a Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account (SEP IRA).
4) INDIVIDUAL INSURANCE COVERAGE
Self-employed individuals are three times more likely to be uninsured than the national average. But, there are lots of individual insurance options from major insurance brands like VSP Individual Vision Plans, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Delta Dental, Cigna and Humana. Coverage can be the key to thriving in the new economy because it reduces the stress related to working for yourself and makes it truly financially rewarding. Talk with your eye doctor, physician and dentist about the care you need. Research plans to identify the one with the most coverage for your budget.
5) MEMBER DISCOUNTS & DEALS
Many Chamber of Commerce and industry groups like the Freelancers Union offer member discounts and deals that more than cover the cost of joining.
And speaking of vision coverage...
Did you know nearly 50% of Americans don't have vision coverage? And many are self-employed and/or retired. Some may think vision coverage is unaffordable.
Luckily, that's a misconception, thanks to VSP Individual Vision Plans. With individual and family vision plans, people who work for themselves can have the same benefits and savings as they would under an employer's plan.
Visit www.vspdirect.com for more details or to enroll in an individual vision plan today. Enrollment is open year round so you can be covered in as little as five days after enrolling in a plan.
Eyes do more than help you see; they have an impact on your quality of life. From increased effectiveness and productivity at work, to fewer headaches and reduced eye strain, it pays to keep your eyes healthy.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
"Halloween-ery" has extended its sticky tentacles deeply within my family, infecting yet another generation. Mommy recently caught two year old Austin intently poring over a catalog, exclaiming with glee, "Want that! Need that! This, too!" at every spotted spider, hallow-eyed haunt, and gasping ghost within its pages. Two years old! Could this be an inherited trait? Any aspiring geneticists out there in pursuit of a dissertation topic? We'll help you prove this thesis with a hearty supply of test subjects for your case study experiments!
I offered a day of respite to Austin's mommy last week when daddy flew overseas on business for ten days. Meals, snacks, housework, babysitting, crafts.....all graciously accepted with only one specification: HALLOWEEN PROJECTS, please, grandma?!
* for a trio of satisfying seasonal crafts easily doable with your very own little grand-goblins!
*(One year old brother, Channing, still can't be trusted not to eat glue sticks. That's okay. We'll reel him in next year!)
My grandkids are sticker crazy, and quite frankly, so am I! Problem is, sometimes these pesky little things (also known as "tickers!") end up on inappropriate surfaces - windows, walls, shoes, and dogs' ears! So, whose fault is it when there's not a worthy place to plant them?
Sarah Jane's! This ultra-creative lady provided exactly what I was searching for - full instructions and a free haunted house template sporting open-and-shut windows that invite filling with small spider, cat, and pumpkin stickers.
The board is a 12" x 24" strip of orange paper - piece it together if needed. I used decorative craft tape to indicate a start line as well as interim markers. Lay out a web opposite start line with purple craft tape (or draw it with a marker.)
Spiders ("pie-ders!") are 1.5" craft pom poms. Glue on a pair of wiggle eyes and yarn strand legs to complete each one - different color bodies, legs, or eyes suggested for each competitor.
And finally! Enjoy rattling the funny bones of your grandkids with hoots of laughter while they craft and play. Challenge them with the 47 howling cute Halloween jokes you'll find here, at Grandma's Briefs. Thanks, Lisa! (she's my ghoul-friend!)
Bet you don't know why the skeleton didn't dance at the party!
Well, I do!
He had no body to dance with!