Saturday, October 25, 2008

Standards of Cleanliness and Love

It's so easy to judge one another!
As a younger wife and mom I was a messy housekeeper. Despite my parents' best efforts, when I first married, I had not yet learned or mastered the organizational skills needed to keep house.
My mother-in-law was organized and orderly. I suspect it frustrated her a great deal to see the way I kept -- or didn't -- house.
From time to time she offered in different ways to help me learn what she knew, but I was too embarrassed to accept her help.
Over time -- through trial and mostly, error -- I learned how to do things more efficiently; to keep house more effectively, because I love my family very much and wanted to create a comfortable home. I recognized that orderliness and cleanliness were part of the comfort I wanted to provide for them.
Although I've never lived up to the example of my mother-in-law, I do OK now, most of the time.
What was interesting, though, was that as time went by my mother-in-law grew to value other things I was good at. She complimented my patience with her grandchildren, and told me how much she appreciated their creativity and good manners.
I think of her good sense and housekeeping skills, and I miss her.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Best Stories . . .

I love stories.
I love reading them. I love telling them. I especially love hearing them, and some of my favorites are old family stories. I don't get tired of hearing them, because they are like a window into the past, revealing how we got to be the way we are.
In Learning to Drive and Other Stories on the Inspired Bliss channel of Blissfully Domestic, I write about the importance of stories. Come check it out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Best News . . .

How did you announce to your parents that you were going to become a parent yourself?
I remember telling my husband's mother when we found out we were going to have our first child. She'd stopped by our apartment for a moment, and asked us something -- I don't remember now just what -- and we just casually mentioned there was a baby on the way.
What a missed opportunity -- we could have made that announcement with so much more of a sense of joy and fun!
How did you find out you were going to be a grandparent?
I talk about some of the ways our kids have shared their good news on the Inspired Bliss channel of Blissfully Domestic, in Four Ways to Share New Baby Joy.
No matter how we hear, a baby is always good news!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Old Tricks, New Kids

Sometimes old tricks work on new kids.
We were waiting for the school bus to come to pick up the 7-year old. He and the 4-year old were full of energy, which usually leads to things like skipping rocks into the neighbor's yard or other dangerous-but-fun activities.
“Let's play Mother May I,” I said.
“Huh?” they both said.
“You know -- Mother May I,” I said.
No. They didn't know.
So I showed them how to play, possibly tilting the advantage of the game ever so slightly to Mother, or in this case, Grandma.
Their attention fully captured, we played Mother May I til the bus came, then the 4-year old wanted to play it on the driveway so she could master things like the scissor-hop, and remembering to ask “Mother May I?”
By the time the 7-year old returned home, she was ready to compete, and so was he.
Who knew such a simple diversion would turn into tournament-quality competition?

Monday, October 6, 2008

In Training, part 2

The 4-year old has a bedtime routine: brushing hair. She likes to brush her mommy's short hair, then have her mommy brush her wildly curly hair. So when she said “Grandma, can I brush your hair?” I knew it was just part of getting her ready for bed.
“I'd like that,” I said, settling down on the floor in front of the brush wielding girl.
Gently she brushed. This is going well, I thought. Suddenly she delicately pulled one little hunk of hair out, just like a beautician would do, and said, “Hmmmmm.”
“What are you doing now, sweetheart?” I asked, turning my head.
“I”m just going to cut this off,” she said with a grin, holding up her rounded edge paper scissors.
I wonder if she thought I was going to leave a tip.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Comic In Training

Spending time with a 7-year old is like spending time with a comic in training.
Case in point: on our way home from soccer practice, the 7-year old in the back seat asks, “Grandma, is our refrigerator running?”
Suddenly concerned that I might have missed something important, I asked, “Why? Wasn't it OK when we left home?”
“Oh, it's fine, Grandma. I just thought if it was running you'd better try to catch it.”

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Nothing Says Loving . . .

It's cookie season. Nothing says “welcome home” like the fragrance of cookies baking in the oven.
This is a good time to bake cookies, to send cookies in the mail, to share a recipe with a teen-aged grandchild so she can bake cookies herself.

One of our family favorites is Pumpkin Harvest Cookies.

Here's the recipe:

Pumpkin Harvest Cookies

Combine 1/2 cup softened butter with
1 cup packed brown sugar and
3/4 cup granulated sugar.

Cream thoroughly.
To this mixture, add: 1 cup pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Beat together til light and fluffy.
Add 1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Mix thoroughly.
Stir in 3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped pecans or black walnuts
3/4 cup uncooked (quick cooking) oats.
Drop teaspoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet;
bake at 375 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes. When cool, frost with Spicy Frosting.

Spicy Frosting

Combine 1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons softened butter
1 Tablespoon hot coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat together til fluffy. Spread on Pumpkin Harvest Cookies.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Leaf Letters

If you live where the leaves are turning, gather up a few of the prettiest and send them to your grandchild. There's something fun about getting a letter with red, orange, and golden leaves tucked inside.
And if you're ambitious, press the leaves between two pieces of waxed paper. Seal them with an iron on low heat, trim them with pinking shears, and send them. Tidier, fun, and a good way to remind your grandkids you're thinking of them!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hat Tricks

There's something about hats.
Yesterday one of the two-year olds was here for the morning. She almost always plays contentedly if I'm in the room with her, and yesterday was no exception: she played with the dollhouse while I worked at my computer.
After awhile, she came over and stood by my chair. When I turned to look at her, she had on her “hat” -- an arm protector from the blue chair. She was quite delighted with her find, and modeled it for me with quite a sense of style.
I put down my work and said, “Would you like to try on some more hats?”

Her smile was my answer, so we went into my bedroom and got out some hats. First she tried on the black one.

Then the big brown one. It was so big she could hardly see!

Finally the fancy blue one -- but the arm protector is still in the running!

What's a girl to do with so many choices?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

One More Way to Keep Your Grandkids Safe

Grandmas of a certain age will remember juggling infants and toddlers on their seats in the front seat of a car, or trying to convince pre-school passengers in the back seat to “SIT DOWN.”
We weren't required to buckle our kids into car seats. Even if we had been, the molded plastic car seats that were available were little protection in any emergency.
Those kids, now grown up with kids of their own, understand the importance of a car-safety seat. They're familiar with the intricacies of their use. And as grandmas who sometimes drive our grandkids, we need to be, too.
This morning NBC's Today Show featured a report on booster seats, with a warning by the Virginia-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute that some booster seats currently on the market are unsafe.
One part of the report focused on the correct way to use booster seats. I found this information helpful for the times I'm driving a grandchild who is using a booster seat. During the interview, Anne McCartt, of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, explained and demonstrated how to be sure the lap belt is correctly positioned (across the upper thigh) for safety, and how to check the shoulder belt to be sure it is across the child's mid-shoulder.
Next time I'm responsible for buckling one of the grandkids into a booster seat, I'll know a bit more about what I'm doing.