Saturday, January 28, 2012

One word...X 3 !


Loved, loved, loved!

Loved by grandma, loved by grandpa, loved by mommy, by daddy, by cousins, aunties, uncles, family pets......loved, LOVED, loved! - by everyone who has ever laid eyes on our little cherubs! Am I describing your grandchildren too? Of course I am!

And letting everyone in the world know how much, and by how many our grandchildren are cherished is a significant responsibility for a devoted grandma.

The job of this easily crafted Valentine's Day t-shirt is to help advertise that very, very important message!

Plain white or red cotton shirts and iron-on letters are all you need for this project unless you opt to add a big floppy bow to the shoulder of the one you make for your granddaughter. The combination of those items and an hour or so of your time will result in designer boutique style gifts to present to your little cupids on Valentine's Day. And the final price of the finished items will amaze you - translating into leftover cash to invest in bigger, better heart-shaped boxes of candy and fatter, fluffier, cuter teddy bears for every little grand-kiddo on your gift list!

I found the 3/4" embroidered iron on letter set and the pretty white t-shirt (size 2T) at Hobby Lobby. Using the weekly coupon for each item brought the final cost to about eight dollars for one shirt - a little more, of course, if you need to buy ribbon for the bow. For the boys, JoAnn Fabrics had everything I needed. Red shirts (size 4T) and a 1" white letter set by Dritz (lots of fonts to choose from!) purchased with coupons for each item brought that final price to about five dollars each. Keep in mind, however, that the darn letter "v" only shows up once in each package, so buy accordingly if you plan on making more than one shirt.

No problems at all with ironing the word onto the shirts with either type of letters.

While I was ironing away, it occurred to me that another grandma might prefer to spell out a grandchild's affectionate nickname - and make a matching shirt for herself! Lots of possibilities for making something really special with a minimal investment in cost and effort with this simple, appealing craft!

I like to make a holiday gift for each mom of my grandchildren - an item destined to become a keepsake because it permanently records today's wonderful moments in our lives. It's interesting that the most meaningful of these are also the most inexpensive and simple to make! Over the past year, I have been inspired by Pinterest to print the little feet of my grandchildren as snow people, Christmas trees and ghosts. Each daughter has repeatedly told me how much they will enjoy displaying these framed and matted pictures every year as their children grow. So, in advance, I know my Valentine idea will be appreciated too!

After considering all heart shaped variations of hands and feet, I settled on a charming way to let mom and dad know they are loved by their little Valentine. Perhaps my teaching background kept bringing this idea to mind, but I cannot think of a simpler, more straight forward way to express a sentiment and record a tiny little hand forever than this one!

To make hand printing easier, I typed the "Raise your hand if you love mommy and daddy" message in Microsoft Word, placed it under the print on a light box, and traced it with a fine point black marker.

                            HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY EVERYONE!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Back by Popular Demand!

I recently read an essay written by someone who declared that bloggers are nothing more than egocentric people in love with not the sound of their own voices, but the sight of their own words in print. Bloggers, the author believes, feel a maniacal compulsion to inflict on the world detailed instructions for living their lives in the exact same manner that they themselves do. (Well, DUH!) 

That writer is only partially correct! I also like the sight of other peoples' words and comments. - especially when they arrive in emails expressing how much they loved a very recent post of mine and how they would enjoy seeing more exactly like it!

The one I refer to is "How to Have Fun With Your Grandkids When They Are Too Young to Have Fun With!" It featured a set of pictures with funny captions that any grandma can compose and email to family members. So, by popular demand, I offer two more examples today.

The first one features Bree at the lunch counter. The second is in response to my dear friend Sheila's comment that surely, I had pictures of the twins too! So that one is dedicated to her - a mom of two wonderful, talented children and grandmother of an adorable little girl! I wonder if it will bring back memories of  her son, Scott, when he was three years old?

Okay, here we go....

Tutorials by Brielle - 
"Six Creative Things to do with Mixed Vegetables"

Hmmm...what on earth are these things and what can I do with them?

Let's, two, first idea is to COUNT them!

You can also IDENTIFY them! Like, for example, this one is a GREEN BEAN!

Those little round things? PEAS! They are pesky and hard to pick up!

Another idea is to SORT them!

"Attention all CARROTS! Report to the northwest corner of the tray!"

How about MAGIC TRICKS? Bet you can't see the corn!

                                           You could also find a vegan dog to feed them to!

                      What? Don't feed veggies to the dog? WHO ME? What veggies? What dog?

                                      Finally, I suppose you could just give up and EAT them!

Yay! All done! Now let me OUTTA here!

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

ABCs, 123s and more!

My grandson, Sae, can point out the letters that spell his name on this poster.
Next, we are going to work on all the letter sounds!

I think I have already documented my frantic stockpiling of educational toys and games that commenced the second my twin grandsons opened their eyes outside of the womb. I so much wanted to be part of their early-year learning and I attacked that goal with bull-in-a-china-shop fervor! Yikes! Sometimes I even scare myself! Nobody needs to warehouse a "teacher's store" in their own home....not even a teacher! Because, for example, a certain once-significant celestial planet could even be "demoted" in the interim between the purchase of study cards for a two day old infant and, say, his second grade year when he is realistically ready to grasp the concept of a heavenly universe! Imagine that happening to someone! Tsk, tsk! (Who? Me?)

Indeed! There are better, easier and saner ways to accomplish being an educationally involved, supportive grandma, and so today I turn to my friends for two stellar examples of how to correctly model that behavior!

My friend and in-law, Sharon, is a happy grandma of three. Like me, she babysits often, and it is evident that she enriches the lives of those children with her exceptional artistic creativity. At a family baby shower several years ago, her pretty little granddaughter, Brianna, approached me and asked if I would like to accompany her to the playroom to "paint some animals." Awwww! That just melted my heart. Not only to witness how poised and at ease with adults she was at such a young age, but because of an  immediate flashback to years past when I served as a parent volunteer in the elementary classrooms of my daughters. I remember being advised to expect some children to be "afraid" to paint. What?! Kids afraid to paint? No way! Oh yes, I was assured. All because of at-home admonishment against making "a mess!" How sad for those anxious little souls who weren't allowed to experience the joyful sweep of a rainbow of color on a huge sheet of clean white paper! In obvious contrast, Brianna's family has always been wise enough to value uninhibited artistic self-expression from their little girl - and save cleaning up "the mess" for later on. Their reward has been a very happy, confident child, proud of her accomplishments!

Sharon posted on Facebook in mid December that she was taking Brianna to see "Nutcracker," and then home for cookie baking and crafting! Again....awww! I haven't had a chance to ask Sharon about this, but my guess is that she offers a crafting workshop to her grandchildren for each and every holiday! Sure makes me wish I was one of those kids! Imagine the fun and bonding with grandma, as well as the spark igniting critical thinking skills that those children will bring with them to school and continue to own for a lifetime. But most significantly, they will always remember.......                            
            "Our grandma taught us how to make all these things!"

My good friend, Judy, is a retired elementary reading teacher and a grandmother of four. I was so impressed the first time I saw her interact with her oldest granddaughter, Tava. Matter-of-factly, she would hand her an item, say the word, and ask for the letter sound. Tava didn't hesitate because, before age four, she knew them all! Judy has made that learning as routine between them as speaking! We grandmothers, however, did enjoy a little chuckle over a candid, precocious comment Tava made one day. "Grandma, you don't have to worry about all these things. When I am five years old and in school, my teacher will teach them to me." I think Judy and I both know, that one day, when Tava is five and in school, her teacher will pull out a phonics chart. While other classmates stare at it in bewilderment, Tava may well toss her long silky blond hair, flash her sky-blue eyes, and raise her hand to say, "Teacher, you don't have to worry about my learning all of these things, because........
                        My grandmother already taught them to me"!

Today, I try to contribute what I can to the early learning of my grandchildren but I stop far short of yanking them out of their cribs by the scruffs of their 0-6-month sleepers, snatching Elmo rattles out of their tiny fists, and replacing them with a stylus from an electronic alphabet board. I think Sharon and Judy have the right idea. Teach what you know, but do it gently!

The twins and I do "projects" whenever I babysit. When I walk in with my big old "grandma bag" bursting with markers, stickers, crayons and stamp pads, the boys follow me around with requests before I can even put it down! A few months ago I brought over a great kid's map of the United States. This week, I added an alphabet poster. Both parents work with the boys on numbers, letters, matching and other pre-school skills, but I thought a big 24" x 36" ever-present chart hanging in their playroom would aid visual learning perhaps a bit better than smaller cards and workbooks. It's fun, too, to pass by the poster and spontaneously ask, "Where's the B?" and, "What does it say?" The boys simply beam with delight when they get the answers right!

Which reminds me of the day I hung the map and showed the boys where they live. When mommy came home, they escorted her directly to it, pointed to our home state, exclaimed, "we live HERE!"....and then added.......
"Grandma taught us that!"

Saturday, January 7, 2012

How To Have Fun With Your Grandkids When They Are Too Young To Have Fun With!

Eat, poop, sleep. Eat, poop, sleep. Eat, poop, sleep. Repeat. Repeat. REPEAT! Oh gosh I know they are soooo adorable, but when can I start having FUN with them? When can I start being a REAL grandma?

I sure remember those days! I occupied non-babysitting hours warehousing empty-nest bedrooms with toys that those little cherubs wouldn't be old enough to enjoy for years! I bought a United States wall map for a three-month-new infant so she would be the very first to know her states and capitals before pre-school. I bought wiggle eyes, glue, yarn and blunt-point elephant-shaped scissors for the twins when they were one-month-young so I'd be ready when it was time for them to make sock puppets. A deluxe school play set (okay, okay....TWO deluxe school play sets!) have waited patiently in my closet for over a year and I don't have the heart to tell them they won't be coming out as birthday gifts for another three!

Yeah, I know. My sons-in-law have already given me the same look you have on your face right now!

What I was doing was pathetic, but it didn't stop until I developed an outlet for the "fun" I wanted to have with the grandbabies, discovering that all I needed was my camera, an ounce of cleverness and an email list of everyone who has ever made the mistake of asking me, "So, what's new with you?"

When your grandchildren are just the cutest little things ever, all you want to do anyway is follow them around and take pictures. If you are persistent enough, you will capture enough material to take home, upload and use to compose a series of "baby narrated" tutorials to email to everyone in the world! Then, sit back and wait for the accolades, because they will come!

This was my first in a series of "Tutorials by Brielle."
The pictures were taken when she was about ten months old.

"How to Properly Brush Your Teeth"

1. Examine the device carefully. Make sure that it really IS a toothbrush!

2. Measure the Bristles!

3. Compare bristle length and width to the size of your mouth. Caution! Do not use toothbrush if it is larger than the inside of your mouth!

4. Brush carefully! Even in areas where you don't have teeth!

5. When you are done brushing, throw toothbrush away!

6. Then, complain loudly that you don't have a toothbrush!

7. When you get it back, toss toothbrush away again!

There! How easy was that? Now you know how to properly brush your teeth!
Little Miss Smarty-Diapers,

Here's another one! It documents Bree's ongoing battle with two family cats who are determined to occupy her play tunnel. Pets who are allowed to interact with your grandkids supply wonderful candid material!

"How to Effectively Flush Rodents From Your Play Tunnel"

1. See this? It is WARM in this spot! That is proof that a "rodent" has been here recently and may very well return!

2. Shhhh! There's one now! Lucky for me it's the Black and White Spotted variety! Those tend to be friendlier and less unpredictable than the Grey Tiger species* who often opt to stay and fight back!

3. I am pretty sure I can get this one to move out with a friendly greeting and a polite request!

4. There! Mission Accomplished! But don't you ever forget! I've got my eye on you!

* The "Grey Tiger species" was mentioned above. For the record, here he sits, striking a handsome "Jabba the Hutt" pose while boldly occupying my high chair in broad daylight! His smug look of "Trump-ian" arrogance is well deserved - he has just anointed himself  "Salesman of the Year" for the very lucrative pacifier theft ring he operates out of our home! As you can imagine, flushing him from my play tunnel is not the easiest task to accomplish, although it can, and has been done by lil ole me on numerous occasions!

And there you have it! No more excuses for allowing RODENTS to burrow inside your play tunnel and refuse to leave!
Little Miss Smarty-Diapers,

Now, if you'd like to see more, hop on over to this post! Thank you for stopping by!