Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Middle Kid

I've no idea what it's like to be "the middle kid." I'm the oldest of three sisters. The queen. The leader. The instigator. Status as the smartest one (no), the boldest (yes), or the most creative (maybe) played no part in my role. My only qualifier? I was there first. I gathered 'em in, told 'em what to do, then watched 'em obey me (wearing stuff I outgrew!). What a life!

I paid no attention to the significance of birth order until parenting advice in the 80s alerted me to its perils and privileges. I could clearly see myself in my own oldest daughter. She took that power ball and ran it with gusto. (Just ask her two younger sisters for confirmation of that little tidbit!)

It's easier to observe birth order behavior from the sidelines when you've reached the state of grandma-hood. No soccer practice pick up problems or bulging baskets of undone laundry to cloud your vision. Grandmas sit back and watch the show. And they make astute observations. About their own behavior. And that of others.

I admit to catching myself swept up in meaningful conversation with the oldest child - the one who's in school and has lots and lots and lots to say! Then there's that adorbs little toddler. OMG. What's he doing today that's soooo cute 'n funny? Here he comes now, struggling into my lap, gurgling away, picture book in hand. Awwww! He wants me to read to him! 

But, wait! There's one more! 

"The Middle Kid."

With us, only a pair of four year old boys qualify as "middle kids." The third family has no "middle child." Huh? How is that riddle even possible? Well, try not one, but two sets of twins! In that fam, there's privilege at both top and bottom: "Oh my! What those handsome young men have accomplished today!" and "Oh dear! How pretty and talented can those little ladies be?" Nobody's complainin' in that family! (Especially mommy, the aforementioned firmly-in-command "oldest child," now smugly enjoying the middle-kid-dilemma-dodge!)

I am out of suggestions here. I make no presumption to hand out advice or solace. I don't often see exhibited distress from our middle kids. For the most part, they both enjoy duel roles as best buds to older sissies, as well as "boss man" to little brothers. But I am prone to magnify things and rush in to fix stuff that might not even need fixin' (just ask grandpa! he'll fill ya in!), so I make special provisions for my own middle kids. They're invited to special "Drop-In-Days" at grandma's where it's all about them. Just them. Lunch and a craft. Play time, too. No older sibs to show-and-tell 'em how things are done around here. No giggling littles to snatch a paintbrush and run.

They seem to enjoy it, demanding a return really, really, really soon for another round of being "the oldest," "the youngest," and "the middle kid," all in one happy package of smiles and fun!

I've pictured Austin (top) at last week's event. He joined cousin Ryan (above) for a Kiwi Crate assembling session. We made cool lanterns followed by lunch and a squirt gun fest. I captured the moment middle kid Austin applied a sticker sheet remnant to his face and asked, "Do you think this is funny, grandma?" Well, of course I do, sweetie! I think everything about you (both of you!) is funny and cute and heartwarming and creative and just the most special thing I've ever, ever seen anywhere! And I am very happy and privileged to be right in the middle of it!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Bugs! They're Everywhere!

Bugs! It's summer! They're everywhere! Enjoy 'em!

Grandma Campers indulged themselves in the world of bugs this year, welcoming them by the  swarm. Those curious and often creepy critters offer a world of intrigue for study in several categories of interest: biology, engineering, and art.....

Let's put a magnifying glass on the activities we explored!

Library learnin' is the basis for all successful endeavor. We took a studied look at a fascinating inventory of bugs - large, small, fierce, and friendly. Book based bug chatter focused on a few basic facts: insects (the correct term for "bugs!") have six legs, three main body parts, and most adults have wings. Spiders are not insects; they are arachnids, creatures with eight legs, only two body sections, and no wings. We'll save those guys for Halloween!

We determined our favorites: butterflies, ladybugs, and honey bees. Non-faves are mosquitoes, flies, and hornets. We were ambivalent about grasshoppers, moths, and black ants (even though they are "cute and busy" - like we are!). I'll bet you might agree with us on those choices!

Armed with new awareness, we dipped courageously into bags and boxes of wood scraps, small plastic bottles, and caps of various sizes and shapes - all squirreled away by grandma months in advance for this purpose.

We are going to engineer our own bugs!.....

Toothpaste tube cap eyes bulge like the real ones do, and that odd little topper with the pointer makes an excellent proboscis. We needed six long, skinny little legs apiece - making grandma, for the first time ever, grateful for the number of times markers were left uncapped to dry out! (Also appreciative for the amount of cute little round "caterpillar body" pill bottles at our disposal due to the grandfolks dependence on BP meds!)

I found it best to man the hot glue gun at the disposal of my little engineers. They told me where to adhere their choices. In the process, we added an interesting word or two to our vocab: symmetry, for one (try to find a bug that's not a mirror image of itself from side-to-side!), and monochromatic (what grandma's sample bug would have been, save for the blue sparkly wings!).

Snack Break and Bug Census

We took a bug break next, nibbling on an array of veggie sculpted ants and dragonflies perched on cracker rounds. (See Nature's Path for the cutest collection ever!) And then into the woods we marched, paper sacks and magnifying glasses in hand. The latter helped us find 'em - often in their hiding places beneath leaves and under sticks. The former served our census inventory - every time we spotted a bug we popped a small stone into them. It was fun to sort and count back home on the deck, chattering away about our finds!

Fingerprint Art

My fun find at Rays of Bliss blog served us well as a guide sheet for the Bug Books we created next. Each little lady received six sheets of white paper and two light cardboard covers, all 6" square. Choosing from this delightful chart, each page featured a colorful winged friend. We tied our books together with a slip of ribbon through holes punched in left top corner and carried home a sweet memory of "Bug Day" at Grandma Camp!

Ava completes a pretty blue butterfly on one page of her book.

Moth Sheet

Grandma Camp late evenings find us still up, even at 10 P.M. It's a privilege we enjoy in anticipation of traditional "Night Hikes." Venturing out after dark as a brave flashlight-toting team offers thrills and chills and opportunities to observe things that aren't visible in the glare of summer's vibrant daylight. Weird bugs, for instance. Like the plethora of moths we attracted on the white sheet we draped over a fence, spotlit by a flashlight. Boy, did those critters show up in droves! And while we avoided reaching in to "pet them," it was fun to observe different sizes, shapes, and colors!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Canvas Factory Review - WIN something wonderful!

This is a sponsored post for which I have been compensated with a free product sample 
                                          and a giveaway prize for my readers.

I am grateful for a second opportunity to offer you a chance to win a beautiful memory-capturing canvas print that will well satisfy your expectations. In this world of hit-or-miss customer service, Canvas Factory rates as one of the very best with me.

The product, most importantly, is top quality. Along with that, communication and ordering ease make doing business with Canvas Factory a breeze! 

Follow this link to the Canvas Factory site once you've decided on an image. I chose a 16" x 20" family portrait of my youngest daughter on the occasion of her son's second birthday - the Fourth of July! The photo I took celebrates an eye-popping festival of red, white, and blue in the blistering squinty-eyed heat of mid summer! My finished canvas blazes with the same bright clarity and crisp image. I love it!

On the Canvas Factory site, you'll be greeted with an invitation to initiate your order by choosing size and orientation. If your image isn't suitable for the process (my alternate choice, lifted from Face Book, was not!) you'll be advised of that. Complete satisfaction is the goal here, with "live chat" availability just a click away in case you need it.

You'll move on to wrap style next. I opted for "gallery" after considering both "mirror image" and a palette of solid colors for outside edges. Take your time trying everything on. It's fun!

Choosing an effect allows you to play with a variety of options such as "sepia" or "gray" etc. I wasn't about to dim the lights on my patriotic party, but one of these specials might be just what you are looking for!

Almost time to wrap things up with adding text. I considered a few colors and fonts for my portrait but decided that my image was vibrant enough - lots going on in that space! - but you'll enjoy playing with multiple options (font, color, text background, etc.) to see if one of them is right for you!

Once you click to order, rest assured you'll remain a priority. Status emails follow, and you'll receive a tracking number once your order is shipped. (Allow about three days lead working time.) My very well packaged parcel arrived via UPS less than a week later. I was delighted with the perfect craftsmanship (no slap-happy corners!) and ready-to-hang convenience!

Okay! Enough about me! Let's talk about your chance to win a canvas in your choice of size: 16" x 20" (retail value $45.15) or 18" x 12" ($34.30) from the wonderful folks at Canvas Factory! To enter, leave a comment on this blog post if you are a resident of the U.S. or Canada only. Tell me something interesting about your history of hanging portraits in your home. Any favorites? Kids? Grandkids? Pets? Weddings? Graduations? Vacations? You know you've got a real treasure hiding away somewhere that would look dazzling on your wall in a Canvas Factory print! I'd love to hear about it!

Please enter by Saturday, August 17, 2019. That's when I'll choose a winner in a random drawing and announce the name right here, on this post! Good luck!

Congratulations, mary! You are the winner. 
I do not have a contact email for you, so please forward it to me by end of day on 08-19-19.
Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway!