Monday, October 27, 2014

Orange You Glad You Adopted?

If your pet was adopted from a shelter, you're my friend! No bones - or soggy catnip toys - about it! We're special people and everybody knows it. Those who know it best, though, lay their furry chins atop our laps and gaze upward with eyes devoted and grateful. "If you find a starving dog and make him prosperous," observed Mark Twain, "he will not bite you. That's the difference between dogs and men." Agreed. I've witnessed this myself and so have you.

The Bissell Pet Foundation plans an October 30-31 pictorial Facebook tribute to pets (and their owners!) who have been rescued by each other. Roxie and I will be there early and we invite you to join us! Take a photo of your adopted pet (cats, too!) bandana-ed in orange, the "official color" of Pet Adoption Month, and post it on the Foundation's page on October 30, 2014. Then come back the next day to see if you're a prize winner!

We'll also be asked to name the organization that made our "fur-ever" match possible. I applaud this heartily. How easy it is for me to do my part in pet rescue, yet how difficult for first respondents who perform the initial tasks of medical and behavioral assessment, as well as fostering and application evaluation before an adoption is approved. Heart wrenching. Heartwarming. All in one.

Our photo gallery of grateful furry faces will assure them it was all worthwhile.
And that's a "yap!"

This is not a sponsored post. I just followed my nose to this gratifying event and wanted to share it!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tic Tac BOO!

Okay! Just between your grandkids cheat when they play board games with you? Or is it just me who suspects my little darlings think I'm the one who was born yesterday? Perhaps my eyesight isn't what it used to be, but there are times I detect little hands deftly guiding the spinner to the exact number needed to leave grandma in the dust. On other occasions, a playing piece might go nonchalantly slip-sliiiding past a penalty square. In my most recent experience, "someone" decided to change game rules mid stream, announcing an extra toss of the dice to "anyone who is wearing pink socks and a Cinderella t shirt!" Well, that wasn't me. At least that day!

But this brave grandma marches on. Not only are we still playing games together, but we're making them too! This team effort began with a hike in the woods. "Find grandma a rock that looks like a ghost! How about some round ones? Nice and fat - like a PUMPKIN!" They turned them in like there was no tomorrow; my pockets groaned with every shape and size imagined by benevolent Mother Nature. Then we sorted. Painstakingly. And that's when monsters butted their way into a game that traditionally fields only two sets of combatants. "We can paint these now," I announced. And paint they did. When that game lost its charm, I was left behind to turn rocks into creatures with features for Tic Tac BOO!

So, I thought our game was "cheat proof." Ghosts play against either pumpkins or monsters. Not both. One scrapbook paper square per token. Three in a row wins. We enjoyed it tremendously, until it occurred to me that strategy isn't a strong motivator for kids who see these zany characters as a collection of personal little friends, not disposable pawns on a game board. With rules relaxed, squares filled up quickly, each with two, sometimes three, occupants. Neighbors went visiting and discussed things among themselves as the game evolved into a multilevel and far more imaginative experience than I'd ever anticipated. There were still "winners," of course, and the inevitable "losers." Oh, and the "cheater," too. Don't forget about her! She just sits here delighted, "braggy," in fact, about how honestly clever all her young grandchildren are with a pile of rocks after she's tossed that pesky old rule book right out the window!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Going Batty!

Things are getting a little batty around here and this time it's not just grandma who's being eyeballed as the culprit! Our Spooky Theater has made its seasonal appearance and the ghost-puppets-in-residence have wailed and waited long enough for a new character to join the cast. We already know (yawn!) that big kid ghosts wear BOO-jeans and baby ghosts crawl around in BOO-ties while their mommies shop for food at the "ghost-ery store." But did you know that bats go to school to learn the "alpha-bat," love doing "acro-bat-ics" and invite their friends to "come over and hang around?" Probably not!

Its been my discovery that the best source of Halloween lore is on stage at a kids' puppet theater. Gathered behind the screen is a squirming, giggling, wiggling and worried crew, just waiting for kick off. Gathered in front of it is a sipping and nibbling rapt audience; grandparents, aunties, uncles and baby cousins. They've paid good money for admission, tasty apple cider and fresh homemade donuts, anxious now to find out "which animal is best at baseball?!"*

A home made puppet show is such an endearing endeavor, engaging grandma and the kids in a satisfying series of tasks that spark creativity and hone organizational skills at every age level. If you don't want to bother with a stage like mine, just curtain a doorway with fabric lengths gathered on a spring loaded rod. We've relied on comedy and joke-telling performances so far, and the puppets have all been made by me. Perhaps next year the kids will take a stab at making their own sock characters and writing an original story script.

I've added instructions for a sock bat puppet here, where you'll also find our ghosts and step by step photos for constructing a Spooky Theater. When the grandkids join me for dress rehearsal on the eve of the performance, we make cute and tasty mini-donuts on this nifty little appliance (see page 8) and sell them at our show's refreshment stand along with cups of cold cider.

*And I won't keep you in suspense any longer! Which animal is best at baseball? Why, a BAT, of course!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Skeletons In My Closet!

Ohhhh yes! There are skeletons in my closet! And it's time for them to come OUT! I love this emerging new national holiday. October 1st appears to be establishing itself as the proper day to infest the house with whatever waited, wailed, scratched, snarled, poked and peeked from within boxes and bags for eleven long months in storage.

I'm late this year, but in the next few I'm going to take this tradition one step further. I'll have my three daughters (fellow Halloween-iacs!) ditch their young families and creep on over to join me late on the eve of that day. We'll sip hot cider and nibble "witch's toes" while viewing seasonal classics, screaming in lusty, loud abandonment when Freddy fleetingly flashes his fearsome face. When the clock strikes midnight, we'll tear open cardboard crypts and festoon my house from head to toe. And then we'll scramble like a pack of rabid rats to the next house! And the next! And the next! At six AM we'll hop back on our bristled brooms, returning home to relish shock and awe on faces of those we haven't seen awake since dusk on 30, September!

Halloween fever is in no danger of abating in our family. In fact, my oldest daughter, Mary Jo, has two life sized skeletons and employs them in "Elf on the Shelf" capers, delighting her children for four fun weeks. The oldest boys dash in after a full day of Kindergarten and race to locate their own "Mister Bones." Those characters have been caught building at the Lego table, snacking on bags of chips in the bushes outside, nestled in, bony skulls on pillows, for a very early bedtime and rattling around, "conducting business" in the bathroom!

Over the past few years, I've designed and posted Halloween projects and activities for the family. When I opened my closet today, this is what tumbled out!

Crafting with grandchildren:

BOO! We made ghost families, carefully constructed of paper mache. Enjoy plenty of extra fun with finishing touches!

A hodge podge of punched paper shapes, ribbon, beads and straws makes lovely seasonal jewelry!

Home made windsocks tumble, twirl and twist in the breeze, dancing to the rhythm of falling leaves and the magic that is Halloween!

Think there's an age that's "too young" to craft with grandma? Ha! Think again! Tiny spiders printed from one month young dainty little fingers make a cherished keepsake.

Make a decorative garland for grandma! Grow it every year with original pictures contributed by each child.

Crafting for Grandchildren:

Encourage all kinds of spontaneous entertainment with a cardboard box spooky theater and simple sock ghost puppets.....

and this year, a batty new character joins the fun!

A seasonal outfit is simple to make with a white t shirt and iron-on fabric scraps. Add matching flip flops too!

What's nice about making your own monsters is that they'll turn out friendly, cute and ready to party! This one's nearly three feet tall and easily made of paper mache.

Party Food and Games:

Here's an easy way to scare kids into eating healthy food at a party!

Big, bright and lots and lots of fun! This home made dart board is perfect fun for kids, but at our house daddies and grandpas can't stay away either!

Here's an original party game that not only personalizes family fun, but ensures that everyone emerges a winner!

Engage kids in scouring the yard for stones shaped like ghosts, monsters and pumpkins to paint as playing pieces for Tic Tac BOO!

Gifts and Decorations:

If I didn't already have six "non-Halloween-color" cats, you can bet that this one would be real and purring in my lap right now. And neither one of us would be loosening our grip on that Mason jar brimming with candy!

I love the elegance of black crows. And the way they remind me of Edgar Allen Poe. And how much I enjoy inserting myself into the eerie ambiance he summons from the point of his pen. And the word "tintinnabulation." I love that too. I think it's my favorite word. Ever.

Party Time!

Gather the family for an afternoon of harvesting food, fun and crafts. Don't worry about keeping grandpas and daddies entertained though. If you pick the right day, they'll be glued to the football game, leaving the ladies alone to glue much more fun things together with the kids!

One of my earliest posts, in 2011, described - in three parts - the annual Halloween party I host for my daughters and their husbands. These parties originated when the guys were still only boyfriends. At that time grandpa was useful for pushing the correct button on the remote control rat that scurried about the foyer as guests arrived. Now we need him for babysitting!

Last year, Mary Jo hosted a small party for her four and a handful of neighborhood children. The kids' table was delightful! - a real riot of color and monstrous fun!

I contributed an assortment of sweets. Rice Krispie pumpkins, red-eyed chow mien noodle spiders, frosted sugar cookies....and a batch of scurrying, lifelike cockroaches! - my favorites!

And here's the lovely hostess herself. The one her husband calls "Mini Martha." She's stirring up a nice potion to serve parents of the guests. I may have mentioned that she writes her own blog. This Halloween party has its own delightful post - right here!