Monday, June 30, 2008

Week-end Fun

Two of our grandchildren came for a sleep-over this past week-end. They slept in the upstairs bedroom where the morning light comes in full, strong, and early.
“They wake up early,” said their mom when she brought them to stay, forgetting that, when she was their age, she, too woke up with first light and the birds.
They did wake up early, giggling their way down the stairs and into our bedroom where grandpa gruffly told them it wasn't time to get up yet. They didn't see his grin as he rolled over, tucking his pillow under his head.
The 7-year old has learned to tell time this past year, so the next morning we told him they had to stay in the bedroom reading or looking out the window til 6:45 – and they did. There is something about showing off a new skill one has mastered that kept them upstairs until precisely 6:45 a.m.
Good times . . .


While they were visiting we visited Lakeview Museum to see the Discovery Center, the Grossology exhibit, and the Planetarium.
One of the best things about having kids around is that they give us an excuse to do kid things, too. The Discovery Center is full of fun things to do – create a cloud, put your hand into a tornado, gaze into the funhouse mirror. Of course there is science and technology behind each aspect of the Discovery Center but it's so much fun that no one minds the learning.
The Grossology exhibit was, well, gross. The 7-year old liked the snot exhibit, particularly the faucet-nose part. But the real hit of the day was the Planetarium. Even the 4-year old enjoyed sitting in the darkened room and looking up at the stars.
“Mommy and Daddy don't let me stay up this late,” she whispered as the lights went down.
We saw a show that detailed the race for space that is geared to older kids, but even the 7-year old was excited to see the rockets, the moon walk, and the deep-space sky. We were impressed with the experience, too – the Planetarium, featuring something called Powerdome, is much more like an IMAX theater than we remembered, and it was thrilling to sit there and feel as if we were headed out to space, too.
It's fun to be a kid again!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Art of Encouragement

Randy Pausch's book The Last Lecture is about how he is handling his own impending death from pancreatic cancer.
One of the things he talks about is how blessed he has been in his family. His relationship with his dad has helped make him the man he's grown to be.
Randy Pausch's dad helped him dream, helped him believe he could achieve his dreams. He didn't withhold honest evaluations of Randy's efforts, but he was able to season those evaluations with enough encouragement to keep his son believing his dreams were within reach.
What a gift that is! And parents aren't the only ones who can offer a gift like that – grandparents can, friends can, teachers can.
Randy Pausch makes the point that when we've received encouragement, it's good for us to pass it on to others. It's one of many good things Randy shares in this book. I encourage you to read it, and be encouraged yourself.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Too Young To Be a Grandma?

Yesterday I was talking with friends when one of them, whose son is getting married soon, said, “It's too early for me to be a grandma – I'm not ready for that yet!”
I laughed, remembering a time when I felt the same way.
In fact, I'm often surprised to realize I'm a grandma now.
I think that's because often, we don't feel our age. Oh, we might feel a little stiff when we kneel out in the garden too long, or when we stay up too late the night before but when I stop to think of it, I've always felt stiff when I knelt too long in the garden, and I've never been good at staying up too late.
What does it mean to be a grandmother?
For me, it's opportunities.
As a grandma, I have the opportunity to serve my family. Some of my children seek my advice or ask about my experience. Some of my children ask for help in practical ways, with child care or help with a sick child. Some of my children just want someone to share their joy.
I can do those things.
I also have the opportunity to pass on to my grandchildren some of the things I think are important: faith. Family history. Family artifacts (yes – stuff!)
How to bake a pie, or sew on a button, or plant a flower bed.
Being a grandma is really a continuation of being a mom – many of the tasks are similar, but not as constant or intense. There are exceptions, of course, but many of the skills I honed as a mom are the same ones I call on as a grandma. And many of the pleasures I enjoyed as a mom are the ones I enjoy as a grandma – cuddling a child on my lap. Reading together. Sharing a laugh over something silly.
We may think we aren't ready to be grandmas, but the truth is, we've been getting ready for the job since we first became moms.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Day In The Life . . .

Do you have a young grandchild who lives a long way away? Here's an idea for staying in touch: create a “Grandma's House” photo album. Include photographs of your kitchen, dining room, living room, yard, and a bedroom or two – enough to make your home seem familiar when she does come to visit.
Include some photographs of yourself, your spouse, any pets, perhaps some of your friends or people you might see every day – the postman, or the lady who checks your groceries when you shop. Be sure you add a photograph of yourself talking on the telephone or sitting at your desk. Then when you talk or write to your grandchild, remind them of that photograph.
The idea is to give your grandchild a sense of who you are in context. You can turn it into a photo essay -- “A Day in Grandma's Life” -- if you feel especially creative.
You can do this online if your family is more used to using computers to keep in touch, but a hard copy is nice for your grandchild; she can carry it around and look at it whenever she wants.
And if you're a mom with small children, consider turning this idea around: make a “Baby's Day” photo album for your parents or in-laws.
I can just about promise they'll love it!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summer Adventures

Yesterday's mail brought two letters from grandkids – one with illustrations of a recent zoo trip, the other with a real letter written by our almost second-grader grandson, complete with a fine description of the rhinosceros.
It didn't take much effort to prepare the envelopes I gave them, and the reward has been delightful!
To keep things going, I'm planning a letter writing session of my own – it's my turn!
In the Summer 2008 issue of a relatively new magazine, Life: Beautiful (you can find them online at there is an article about making stationery. I'm intrigued! I don't know if I'll get up the nerve to try it (I'm a craft-challenged grandma!) but who knows – summer is a time for adventures of all kinds!
I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sharing Books , Sharing Music

If you are looking for a good book to share with your kids or grandkids about music, may I suggest two?
The first, by Leo and Diane Dillon, is called Jazz on a Saturday Night, and includes a bonus CD inside. Published by The Blue Sky Press (an imprint of Scholastic Inc.) in 2007, this book introduces kids to jazz, a uniquely American art form.
Imagining a “Dream Team” of musicians including Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Thelonius Monk playing together, (an event the authors are careful in the foreword to explain never actually took place) the text describes what happens on a Saturday night when jazz musicians “smile with a meeting of eyes. A cool night, a cool note – they all improvise.”
The illustrations in this book add to the fun, showcasing instruments and musicians while lending a sense of actually being there, enjoying the cool music.
A different kind of music is suggested in Nancy White Carlstrom's book Glory. Illustrated by Debra Reid Jenkins, this brightly colored book, published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, is a song of praise for the things a child might appreciate about God's creation.
Although no melody is indicated, this is a book you might read – or make up your own melody and sing – to a child who, perhaps might want to add his own verse or song of praise to God.
The language here is simple, referring to things a small child might be familiar with, or have imagined. There are references to how things sound, which can help you initiate conversation about their various musical qualities.
And – it's just a fun read, full of playful references like “Glory Glory Glory be to God for winging, swimming, singing ones of sky and sea and earth. All creatures large, all creatures small, that dance and leap and curl and crawl. . .”
It's always a good day to share a song – or a book – with someone you love!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

All Together, Now . . .

Music is a good gift from God.
One good way to have fun with kids is to sing to them, and to sing with them. Music is a universal language, one that communicates well across any generation gap.
Reach back into your memory for songs from your own childhood – songs like “I Know a Little Pussy” or “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and sing them with your grandkids.
Most kids like music, and they'll like sharing it with you. Whether it's a lullaby sung to soothe a cranky infant, a silly song like “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” or a song you remember from your own growing up years, sharing it with your child or grandchild is just fun.
Music is also a great teaching tool. Scripture songs and hymns help a child hide Scripture in her heart, and help her feel at home in church, when those songs are sung by the congregation. In this case, familiarity breeds comfort, not to mention a measure of attentiveness!
And who hasn't tried to teach the alphabet or times tables with a catchy song?
Music appreciation is a great thing to give your child, and what better way to pass it on than to sing to and with your kids?
Here are three ways you can share a gift of music with your child or grandchild:
* Sing in the car, sing while you do chores together, sing together around the table after a meal – just look for the chance to sing, then do it! Don't be shy; be enthusiastic. If you're having fun, chances are your kids will, too.
* If you aren't together, sing over the phone. Find a signature song you always sing to one another.
* Sing along to the radio, or to your Ipod, or to the commercials on television. Help your kids appreciate music wherever they find it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Staying in Touch . . .

Here's a simple, quick idea for staying in touch with your grandkids over the summer: take five or ten business sized envelopes, address them to yourself, stamp them, then tie them with a pretty ribbon. Enclose them in a personal letter to your grandchild with a request for letters back over the summer.
You can enclose stationery with your stamped, self-addressed envelopes, or you can invite your grandchild to use her own stationery – whether that's on the back of a picture she's drawn or painted, or a note on the back of a program she's been to – encourage her to be creative in what she sends. If your grandchild can't quite write yet, ask for pictures she's drawn that tell what she's been doing over the summer.
By preparing and stamping the envelopes, you've taken a lot of the difficult work out of corresponding for your grandchild. To make envelope preparation even easier, use up some of those interesting return address stickers you get from various charities with your name and address on them.
One other thing you'll find helpful is to write letters to your grandchild, yourself. Our grandkids like to get mail, too! Be creative in the stationery you use, and generous in the things you write about. By setting that example (and by sharing your daily life with her in a letter) you'll encourage her to establish a letter-writing habit.
Enjoy a summer of mail with your grandkids!