Browsing Date

January 2016

Do What Scares You

Family By January 31, 2016 Tags: , 12 Comments

Do something every day that scares you – Eleanor Roosevelt

I recently came across this quote on Pinterest and my first thought was, no way. My mind immediately went to base-jumping, repelling off the side of a cliff, exploring a damp, cramped cave with centipedes crawling up my shirt. I shiver even now at the thought. But, what if this is not what she meant. Maybe she wasn’t talking about extreme fears but everyday fears, the things we don’t usually call fear.

We use words like, I’m not good at that, it makes me uncomfortable or I don’t understand that stuff. These could be code words for plain, old-fashioned fear or in Eleanor’s terms, the stuff that scares you.  Some of the fears that can creep in on us every day are fear of failure, fear of change or fear of the unknown. We just don’t call it that.

When my youngest son left for college I was supposed to go back to school. I had talked about it for years but there I was, unable to make the decision or commitment. I was afraid. I didn’t know if I could get in, if I could handle the studies or make good grades. I didn’t want to waste the money if I couldn’t do it. Not to mention the embarrassment. It took me two years, after my initial deadline, to face that fear and try. Once I did, it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. Isn’t that usually the case? I did get in, I did make good grades and I did graduate with my associate’s degree in business. Fear squashed. But, doesn’t it seem like fears are just stacked up in the wings, the next one just waiting for you. So, maybe we do have enough fears to tackle one every day.

A year ago, I repaired and repainted three pieces of furniture. I had been putting this off for quite some time. The fear was that I wouldn’t be able to make them look nice because  I wasn’t that creative and don’t have enough artistic ability. I rallied my courage (mostly because I was tired of looking at them – dull and dingy) and did it anyway. They turned out fine. resized-furniture

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Then, just last week, I was sewing together a patchwork blanket for my granddaughters’ first real bed. I hadn’t sewn in a while and I am not really a seamstress, so I have to familiarize myself with the machine every time. I was having trouble, it looked like the bobbin was stuck. I did some poking around and the entire contraption that holds the bobbin in place fell out into my hand. Yikes! I looked at it in shock and dismay. I really wanted to finish the blanket and now I was going to have to wait until my husband got home (much later) so he could fix it for me. I set the mess on the table and decided to make a cup of coffee. Sipping my coffee, I decide to face my fear and make an attempt to fix it. I dug in the case for the manual, studied the diagram, put it back together and got it working. It was exciting. I did a little dance and fist bumped the air! Actually, I just texted my husband to describe my victory, but I did add three happy face emoji. 🙂 🙂 🙂

I am still not sure about facing a fear every single day. No matter how you dissect it or analyze it, that seems like a daunting task. What I do think we need is a general willingness to work on the things that scare us. Instead of ignoring them or passing them off as something else. We need to conquer them – one fear at a time.

What do you think about Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote?

 

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I’m Bored

Family By January 25, 2016 8 Comments

I’m bored.   These are small, but powerful words. I didn’t let my children say them. That may sound harsh, but I had spent time with children who were continually rehearsing, “I’m bored”.  Nothing would interest them. Suggestions for activities were met with “no” or a frown, they flopped around listless and…bored.   I decided then, not to allow my kids to say the “B” word and to train them to be self-motived in finding things to do.

My grown children still look for sympathy on this topic. Honestly, I think they just like the shock value of telling people I wouldn’t let them say they were bored. Much to their amusement, this usually results in the person turning to look at me with a questioning or surprised look on their face.   Sometimes I just smile and shrug, other times I roll my eyes at my kids and ask, “And?”. Then they confess they are glad I did it or they mischievously say, “What? I didn’t say it was a bad thing!”

Why did I do it?

First, I think regularly declaring you are bored can become a negative habit. Maybe even a lifelong habit. Never being happy, not being able to find something satisfying, always looking for the bigger, more exciting or shinier thing to fill the void. Then, not too much later, when the shiny wears off, they are back to being bored. Second, I wanted them to be able to entertain themselves. Find things of interest to do, be curious, explore, take time to think and dream. Third, I wanted them to be happy with their own company. The person you spend the most time with is you.

What did I do when they said they were bored?

When they were younger, I made suggestions like coloring, Legos or playing outside. I followed my suggestions with a warning to find something or I would find something for them to do (and it wouldn’t be nearly as fun). As they got older, I clearly made my point by suggesting exciting activities like cleaning out the kitchen cabinets or mopping the floors. The smart boys got the hint.

The Results

I don’t think being bored even crosses their mind. They are interested in a variety of activities and they are creative and curious. Not bored at all!

It took a little more effort on my part to teach them how to handle feeling bored, but it has been well worth it.

How do you handle the “B” word?

 

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Grandma Tips for Young Parents – Photos

Family By January 17, 2016 Tags: , , 6 Comments

Who is that?

I ran across some photos of my kids when they were little. I knew they were my kids because I recognized them…but there was nothing noted on the back of the picture. Studying them, I could only guess about when each one was taken. My oldest child thinks I should have this information burned into my memory and when I was his age, I thought so too. I remember thinking (decades ago) that I would ALWAYS remember how old they were in the pictures I was taking. Very naïve.

However, I am not the only person who had such disregard for dating pictures or noting who was in them. Last fall I was tackling the humongous task of putting old family photos on a disk to give to my sisters. This is the post if you would like to read it. Many of those old photographs have nothing on the back. No date, no names and a few of them are more than a hundred years old. Who is around today to tell me who these people are? I could figure out some of them because I know what my grandparents looked like in their late twenties and thirties.   But I don’t think my children would be able to do it.resized-photo-mixed2

A couple of hints from someone who has been there:

  1. At the minimum, date your photographs. Adding names would also be good. With a little detective work you can probably decipher the picture if you at least have a date. Remember, it may not be you looking at them down the road, fast forward seventy five years. Help your future generations out…label your pictures!
  2. Print some of your digital photos. They can be tucked into a baby book, displayed on the frig or the filing cabinet. It is nice to look at physical pictures every now and then. It is also fun to randomly running across them in the future. You can’t really do that if they are only stored on the computer.
  3. Instead of dumping all your digital photos into one giant file on your computer, organize them from the start. Make folders by the year, year and month or even by child (month and year). The file name should contain the date (james-05-2015). I save my digital pictures on my laptop by season – folder: Spring 2015, file: zoo-04-2015. I really like this method. It saves time and stress when looking for a particular photograph.

Remember, these are photo memories and there is a reason you are taking pictures of you family. Put a little effort into making them a treasured memento for your children and your children’s children. That way, in a hundred years your great grandchildren are not looking at a picture you took and saying “who is that?” or worse, “I wish Great Gran had dated her pictures!”.

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Confessions of a Reformed Play Dough Maker

Grandkids, Toddlers By January 10, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , 7 Comments

Another Grandma Lesson

I admit it.  I don’t “do” play dough. As a grandmother, you might have thought I had a wonderful recipe to create this colorful, mushy stuff.  Obviously, after years of lovingly making it for my children and now my grandchildren, the recipe would be perfect. Wrong!  I never let my kids play with it (yes, I feel a little guilty…now).   But, in my defense, when my kids were kids, there wasn’t Pinterest, Google or even the internet. I didn’t  know play dough could be made from scratch. I always thought it had to be purchased from the store.

I felt, at the time, like I had good reasons for not letting them play with it. Of course, stunting their fun or creativity was not among them. Although, in today’s language, I would not be participating in an activity that could help develop their fine motor skills and tactile perception. Which sounds much worse. Honestly, I simply didn’t want to scrape it off the floor and table, pick it out of the carpet (we had shaggier carpet then) or scrub it off the couch.  Plus, my youngest put everything in his mouth.  He used to carry small Legos between his lower lip and teeth, like a kangaroo pouch. Yikes.  Much to my dismay, he didn’t break this habit until he was 4 or 5 years old.

My granddaughter is allowed to play with play dough at her house (great big sigh). Yes, the colorful kind that comes in cute, small tubs.  I suspiciously watch her play with it, time after time, when I visit their home.  I look around, noticing if any is smeared on the walls or permanently stuck to the floor and furniture.  It wasn’t.  Her worst offense was not putting the lid back on the canister. Pinterest taunts me with Pins on the “the best play dough recipe – EVER” or “I made scented play dough for my kids”.  All good moms and yes, grandmom’s, make their own play dough, don’t you know. Ugh.

The pressure was on and I finally caved.  The next time my granddaughter was over for the weekend, I made my very first batch of play dough.  It did result in a wonderful neon green and a beautiful color blue thanks to Wilton.

 

Here is the recipe I used (adapted from several I looked at):

Play dough

  • 2 ½ cups of flourresized-playdough6
  • ½ cup salt
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. cream of tartar
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • Food coloring

Combine flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large bowl.  Make a well or dent in the center. Pour in boiling water. Mix. Put on the cutting board and knead until smooth.  Put the dough in a gallon zip lock bag and add food coloring.  Knead in the food coloring while it is in the bag (this will keep your hands from getting stained). Open bag and let it cool.  Store in the refrigerator.playdough3

I also purchased a bag of cookie cutters from the dollar store and gave her some plastic knives and forks to use.resized-playdough2

Come to find out, my granddaughter is very good at keeping the play dough on the table, nothing much hits the floor.

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I laugh and poke fun at myself for being so concerned about cleaning up play dough.  There is a different perceptive that you gain with grandchildren.  I think it may be a type of calm that is acquired though years of living life. I am now less concerned about a messy hand grabbing my shirt, a runny nose, wiped on my shoulder at lightning speed (before I can grab a tissue) and hearing cheerios crunch under my feet, as I walk through the room.  All things I would have been annoyed about a couple of decades earlier.

The grandma lesson I learned though play dough: Relax! Most things can be washed, wiped or vacuumed – it is just not that big of a deal. They will remember the time spent with you, not how neat and tidy the house is.  Sit down, have some fun, get creative and squish that dough.

I am now a reformed play dough maker. And, yes, I WILL make it again – possibly even scented!

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3 Inexpensive Toddler Activities

Grandkids, Toddlers By January 3, 2016 Tags: , , , 5 Comments

My husband and I watched our two granddaughters over the weekend. The youngest is ten months old, the oldest is an energetic 2 ½ year old. I was looking for some activities for the older one, to keep her engaged for short periods of time. My goal was to acquire a tiny bit of “down time” – for me!

These are the three activities I decided to try:

  1. Water color paints. I taped a couple of sheets of wax paper to my table using painters tape. On top of that I taped a sheet of art paper. The “art” paper is from a cheap roll (probably recycled newspaper) I picked up at IKEA.   Any paper will do, including brown bags from the grocery store or paper from the recycle bin. I put the wax paper down to help with clean up.resized-activity1
  2. Gluing paper strips. I cut up pieces of construction paper into smaller pieces, then handed her a brand new glue stick (using the same art paper as a canvas). She liked having control of the glue stick, as she created her collage. The challenge was keeping her from using it as lip stick! I also bought her a pair of beginner scissors, with the thought of teaching her how to cut paper. However, she couldn’t quite get the hang of it and frustrating her would have defeated the purpose of what I was trying to do!resized-activity2
  3. Putting pipe cleaners into a colander. I purchased some multi-colored pipe cleaners and pulled out a plastic colander from my cabinet. I saw this activity on Pinterest and wanted to give it a try. resized-activity4The idea is to cultivate fine motor skills by having them insert the pipe cleaners into the holes of the colander. She worked at it for a little while, which was all I was asking. Actually, she enjoyed sorting and organizing all the pipe cleaners by color, a bit more than the activity. Oh well. I will probably try this one again in a month or so.resized-activity3

These activities kept her happy and busy for short periods of time, which met my goal.  I spent less than $5 on new materials, all of which can be used again for the next adventure.

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