Friday, January 25, 2008

Presidents Day

If you are the kind of grandparent who likes to plan ahead, now is the time to begin thinking about President's Day.

A combined holiday to celebrate both Abraham Lincoln's birthday (February 12) and George Washington's birthday (February 22), President's Day usually offers kids a day off from school.

It also offers us a chance to share our values with our grandkids by sharing in the celebration.

Abraham Lincoln, whose likeness appears on both the penny and the $5 bill, is known for honesty, hard work, and humor.

George Washington, whose face is on both the quarter and the $1 bill, is known for leadership, responsibility, and steadfastness.

Here are just a few ways you might help your grandkids think about these American heroes:

  • Write a note reminding them of the President's birthdays, and tape a quarter and a penny on the note so they have a “picture” of who you are writing about.

  • Share stories of Abraham Lincoln's life and jokes with them. The Abraham Lincoln Joke Book by Beatrice Schenk De Regniers is available through used booksellers, and is recommended as a child-friendly source of those stories and jokes.

  • The story of George Washington cutting down his father's cherry tree has been called into question, but tell your grandkids about the controversy over a cherry pie. Talk about the importance of taking responsibility for your actions.

  • If you have older grandchildren, talk about Washington's leadership in the American Revolution, and about Lincoln's leadership during the Civil War.

Make time to do a little research of your own about these two Presidents, and share what you learn with your grandchildren. You'll give them the benefit of knowing more about our national history, and the pleasure of learning something new with you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

School Calendars

Once your own children are through school it's easy to be out of touch with the regular school calendar, not to mention what's going on in schools these days.

One way to stay current is to request a school calendar.

Some school districts send these out or post them online in an effort to keep the community, not to mention taxpayers, informed. For a grandparent with grandchildren in a school district, a school calendar is an especially valuable document.

School calendars give you dates to remember: concerts, sporting events, plays, testing, vacations. For grandparents, having these dates is a short-cut into your grandchild's lives.

If you know when things are happening it's easier to plan how you can show interest and be involved in your grandchild's life. A school calendar allows you to get something on your calendar ahead of time. Even if you can't attend an event, you can call or drop your grandchild a card about it.

You can also use a school calendar as a prayer guide for your grandchild and for her school.

And a school calendar alerts you ahead of time to the days your grandchild will be off school – opportunity days! These are the days you can invite your grandchild to spend with you. Whether these are special event days – a trip to the zoo, or shopping, or working on some special project together – or just a “hang out with grandma” day – knowing ahead of time gives you a chance to plan something you both will enjoy.

If you're a mom looking for ways to engage your child's grandparents, send them a copy of your child's school calendar with a note filling in a few interesting details about your child's life at school. And if you are a grandparent, it's not too late to ask your grandchild's parent (or school) for a school calendar. It's a tool every grandparent can use, one way or another!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Drudgeries . . .

Now that most of the Christmas holiday is over it's easy to talk about how wonderful it was.

In the meantime it's easy to forget about all the work that goes into the details of it – the cookie baking, getting corrected addresses for Christmas cards and gifts that need to be sent, choosing and wrapping gifts – things that, even though we enjoy them, might sometimes seem like “one little piece of drudgery after another.”

Anna Quindlen's observation is a good reminder that even things that really are wonderful, things like babies and Christmas, are wonderful despite the drudgeries that make them possible.

As a grandma, it's easy to forget how much it takes to bring grandchildren to our house on a holiday, or how difficult it can be to coordinate even simple tasks for holidays – or any days – when small children are involved.

From the distance that time affords, we might see those things only as wonderful, forgetting our own struggles to find socks that match for our small sons, or the difficulty we had in getting three kinds of cookies made for the family cookie exchange in the midst of debilitating fatigue.

Even little drudgeries are good reminders that everything wonderful has its roots in hard work, or, as my own grandma used to say, “It's manure that makes a good garden.”