Monday, July 14, 2014

"Lookit The Cat!"

"Lookit the cat! LOOKIT THE CAT!"

I suppose I'd shriek the same thing if I came upon this sizable critter while walking my dog in an otherwise normal neighborhood. He's an inch or two over six feet tall and that glossy orange coat is a knock out traffic stopper. If I were totally adverse to the attention of gawkers I probably would have confined him indoors while I applied finishes touches. But that's not the way I roll.

Paper mache construction began on the back deck several weeks ago. But alas! By the time a pair of extra-chubby cheeks blossomed on this cute little face, my buddy was too wide and too bulky to fit back through the door. Grandpa helped me lower him over the railing and into the garage. I've parked outside for a month and kitty has lived contentedly inside, enjoying his journey from a pair of cardboard appliance boxes to the "Mister Purr-sonality" figure you see here.

And now what? Well, kitty is actually the last of my new attractions for our upcoming family carnival, so he's not just gonna sit here all day dreaming about pet treats. He's a working cat! One whose job it is to burp out "hairballs" for the purpose of (hopefully!) delighting children who approach him with a ticket to place in his generous paw. Once he purrs a sweet "Thank you!" he'll ease into a coughing spasm - the universally recognized warning to cat owners that something's on its way up - and its going to be slimy and gelatinous!


I'm sure there's a code of secrecy respected by carnies that keeps tricks of the trade under wraps. I probably shouldn't blab about how this game functions. So I'll just say that "maybe" it has something to do with a secret door in back, a daughter willing to sit inside with a portable mike and a sense of humor, and a box of colorful "hairballs" to toss out of Mister Purr-sonality's mouth at just the right moment!

We'll be at these link parties.

Friday, July 4, 2014

"What's Going On Over There?"

Angeline looks a little concerned. But Ava thinks it's hilarious that grandma hasn't had much to say lately. The family carnival is coming to town in a few weeks and I'm buzzing about like a crazy bee, putting it all together. There's 23 little guests confirmed and I want it all to run perfectly. That's been my excuse. At least it's the one I offer to concerned people who've been asking lately, "What's going on over there?"

Interesting that grandma blog posts I enjoy reading most are ones that describe everyday, ordinary things done together. So heartwarming to see grandkids beaming away while they bake, craft or ride a bike alongside the person whose primary mission in life to is to protect, spoil and enjoy them. We've done those things too, in the fleeting months that come before Kindergarten begins and grandchildren move into a world where more time is spent with classmates and teachers than family. I think kids remember simple moments best. And if they don't, well grandma's got plenty of photos stored as reminders!

I always get excited when I see an article entitled "Ten Great New Adventures to Enjoy With Your Grandchildren." I'm always eventually disappointed though. "Take them to the zoo!" is always tops on the list. Well, who doesn't do that already?

Nick couldn't wait to show me his favorite skeleton. A year ago it would have been a fire truck.

At twenty-two months, little girls don't mind splashing in six inches of water under the hovering shadow of a sun screen, bug spray, emergency flotation device bearing, finger-on-911-button grandmother.

But a soon-to-be four year old has mastered the skill of politely informing grandma that her dream of riding a fleet footed cheetah is being hampered by unnecessary death grips about her waist and shoulders!

For the time being, we're done looking for teeth to make their appearance. Instead, we're watching them move on out, creating an extra stop here for the Tooth Fairy.

I was present the day Mary Jo organized a cousins' dog biscuit making party. The kids love their pets and those of their grandparents and friends. For that reason, they chose to cut their treats in the shape of big hearts.

They love me too, and all the fun we have together. When interests change though, I know I need to do the same. Before this summer, the boys always piled into my lap during each and every cartoon watching break we took, sometimes to the point of near suffocation! They still join me on the couch, but sit a foot away. I can't help but notice that, at almost six, they regard themselves as young men, not little boys.

"I'm a big girl now, grandma," Bree tells me frequently, and I am so glad that I have not missed a thing. I was there while she was a "little girl," enjoying many giggling moments when I could have been honing gourmet cooking skills or quilting a bounty of heirloom fabric pieces. I put those pursuits on temporary hold and have absolutely no regrets!

This post is dedicated to fellow grandma friends Carol, Connie, Darcie, Debra, Diana, JoAnn, Judy, Kc, Lisa, Nancy, Pat, Sandy, Sharon and Sheila who know who they are because they'd agree with every word I've written here. They also know you don't have to construct a six foot paper mache carnival cat in your garage in order to be a super-grandma. Yikes. Who'd be crazy enough to do that? Me? Well, maybe! Purr-haps that character will be the topic of my next post. We'll see you then!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cousins Forever!

Grandma's House - Where cousins go to become friends......

A year or so ago, one of my grandma friends directed me to a blog post written by an ultra refined grandmother. Her manicured vintage English garden was the setting for a story book child's cottage - the place grandchildren frequented to practice becoming young ladies and men. Cousins, attired in Sunday best, peeked about coyly - ladies from beneath graciously adorned, brimmed sunhats; gentlemen from above crisp bow ties. The pretty primrose path they followed led to their destination - a place to sip tea from Peter Rabbit china cups, nibble tiny morsels and converse in hushed tones. Regal Queen Grandmother beamed with rightful pride and took photographs galore.

"There!" my friend declared. "You could so do that too!"

Hmmm. I pictured us at that time. What if we had been invited for a visit? That enchanted dollhouse would have been immediately commandeered by the boys as a "police station," stuffed full of "bad guys" - Bree's dolls, handcuffed with jump ropes. She would be screaming her head off. Every flower around us would wilt in terror. Not one of our party would be caught dead wearing prissy heirloom pearl necklaces, ones "the regulars" wove about their slender necks. Not a chance. Ours would have been pressed into service as leashes for the "police dog." That lovely grandmother hostess, recoiling in horror, would spray us all with a hose, ordering us back to the barbarian quarters from which we emerged. Each fanciful curlicue on the ornate iron gate would shudder its disgust as it slammed firmly behind us.

But that was sooo last year!

Perhaps it has been me who has grown up in that time, acquiring skills that make for a pleasant and fulfilling experience each time grandchildren cousins convene for a weekend sleepover at grandma's - the place, hopefully, where they will gather for many years and become fast friends.

Children enjoy traditions. Do something fun once, and they'll ask for it again and again. For us, it's ice cream making - incentive to eat healthy at dinner because 20 minutes from the punch of the "start" button only kids with clean plates will be invited to dip in!

I probably should cringe when Sae proudly announces that, "Grandma lets us stay up as late as we want!" But what the heck - it's the truth! We love the dark and have lots of fun in it. During summer, we enjoy our Night Hikes. Until it's warm enough for those, we move our adventures inside. For starters, there's hide-and-seek with dollar store glow sticks. Sweet little kids. They hide in obvious places and call out, "Grandma! Over here! And Nick's over there!" Bless their little hearts. Far too considerate to let a ditzy old lady stumble and bumble around in the dark all night minus a clue to where she is!

And then we wind up the evening with a Night Picnic. Ever heard of those? Perhaps not. I've initiated them to tide us over the winter. There are platters of snacks: cheese, crackers, fruit and veggie sticks. We line up our sleeping bags and crawl into them. Every kiddo gets a flashlight and the lights go off. We read books in the dark, nibble away and drift off toward toothbrush time, unwinding after a day of fun and togetherness. This is where and how cousins become lifelong friends. And it all begins during the years when one of the best parts of life is having a grandma who "lets us do whatever we want!"

Yep, I've been busted for that too!
By this little guy! -->

Find the terrific little electric ice cream maker we use here on page 3.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Happy Hairdo Harry!

Birthday parties that made me a happy little six year old camper were a different animal than what's around today! We expected - and received - not much more than a scavenger hunt and a lively game of musical chairs. Those were followed by a scoop of unadorned ice cream and a skinny slice of neighborhood bakery cake on a wobbly paper plate. Once gifts were opened we were whisked back home. Nope, neither a clown nor pony in sight - and certainly not a fanciful, smacked-with-color "candy buffet" that one-year-older guests of honor anticipate these days!

I made my own version of a candy buffet to unveil in late July at our upcoming family carnival. Kids will approach the booth, select personalized paper bags and fill them with one of every delectable morsel on display. "Happy Hairdo Harry" came to life when I decided that a jelly-bean-filled lineup of apothecary jars was a little too tame for my taste.

Here's how to make this crazy little dude:

1) Cut a 5.5" styrofoam ball in half. Use one piece as the clown base. Place it flat side down, then use a serrated knife to cut a groove into the top that will securely hold an 8" styrofoam circle. Glue them together.

2) Cut face features from paper scraps and glue them to an 8" white paper circle. Glue face to styrofoam.

3) Tie colorful narrow ribbon bows to small (24 Wilton - see page 11) lollipops and push them into the head as shown in photo.

4) Fill in empty space between lollipops with colorful shredded paper. (Dollar Tree - gift wrap department)

5) Cut 2" squares of red tissue paper, crumble them, then glue to cover base.

6) Fold turquoise tissue paper into a bow tie and glue it to base.

7) Make a hat from paper scraps and punched accents. Glue to a wooden skewer and insert into head.

This original design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Thank you!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Ball Hog

Recipe: Indoor Balloon Volleyball
Yields: Hours of fun

     one Pinteresting grandma
     one balloon
     one room-width crepe paper streamer
     one pint size ball hog, pictured above (optional)

It was too cold to play outside on the day we first tried this one. I didn't expect it to be the hit that it was, so we'll be back - not only on rainy or hot days, but when everything's just peachy out there too. Our indoor balloon volleyball game was set up and ready to play in seconds.....after we conquered an initial stumbling block or two!

So, it might be obvious. Keep the "ball" in play between teams on both sides of the "net" -  a streamer taped to the wall on opposite sides of a room offering ample open space. But my task was to introduce the game to a pair of five year old boys who enjoy Sunday afternoon football dates with daddy. Nick's first instinct was to capture and secure the balloon, signalling a "fair catch." Sae immediately dove under the net and tackled his brother. Little sissy Ava jumped right in, snagged the loose ball, held on for dear life and refused to release it to "grandma ref." From beneath the huddle, I frantically called time out and subbed in mommy. With high school volleyball experience in her arsenal, she rescued both me and the balloon, whistled our players into position and got the game moving. It wasn't long before the boys were following their new coach's lead; serving, spiking and setting just like the pros!

"Five stars" for fun, team play, exercise, and new athletic skills learned. Come on, grandma! Try it!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cute Little Chicks

The chirping begins this time of year over the best date for grandma's summer family carnival. There are always birthdays, weddings and baby showers to tip toe around, but even delicate maneuvering doesn't guarantee a foolproof time slot. The day we pick, weeks ahead, has to promise to be free of rain and excessive wind. Since all we can do now is hope for the best on Saturday, July 26, I'd rather just focus on building new games; that's lots more fun!

Since our last event, we've added four little girls to the guest list. Let's see, there's granddaughters Ava and her twin sissy, Angeline, and Kaylee, as well as family friend Vivienne now too - each one under age two. "What about us little peeps?" I can hear them wondering, "What kind of games are we going to play?"

"Cute Little Chicks" is a color matching game. It's built on a large foam board, taped to stakes for pounding into the ground so it will stand alone. Little ladies will place stuffed baby birds inside of nests. The idea is to find a match, of course, but who's really paying attention? Every effort will be rewarded with the choice of a plastic Easter egg from a prize basket. I'm thinking candy bracelets tucked inside, or, for the youngest players, little wind up bugs or cute finger puppets...something really special, of course!....don't want those little chicks going home thinking the prizes they worked so hard for were "cheep!"

This original design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Thank you!