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The Lego Surprise

Family By December 26, 2015 Tags: , , , , 8 Comments

When our children become adults, it seems harder to find gifts (especially within the established budget) that will delight them. I give it a good effort each year; I like to think I have more victories, than defeats. However, this year my daughter-in-law takes the high honors of presenting my sons (one is 25, the other, her husband, is 30) with a gift that made them act like 12 year old’s, when they opened it.

Nestled back behind the Christmas tree sat a large package wrapped in green paper and a big red bow. My husband, who is in charge of handing out gifts, was given instructions not to give it out. Once the ‘opening gifts’ dust had settled, the wrapping paper had been cleaned up and everyone was settling in with a cup of cocoa, my daughter-in-law gave the approval to have it brought out. Creating even more curiosity, she informed the group it was for my two sons. She then explained the process she went thought to find it, hide it and wrap it, undetected. They tore off the paper to reveal…the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier Lego set from the Marvel series. They were thrilled.  Both of them are serious Lego and Avenger fans.  Plans were immediately made to put it together. Although, that process may take a while, the set has almost 3000 pieces! resized-lego3resized-lego2

Boys will grow into men, but Lego boys will ALWAYS be Lego boys!

This post is linked to Grand Social at grandmasbriefs.com, Welcome Home Wednesdays at happilyeverafteretc.com

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12 Days of Christmas Challenge

Family By November 30, 2015 Tags: , , , 12 Comments

I recently stumbled upon Allyson’s blog, All Our Days and her post 12 Days of Christmas: Blessing Your Husband.  I thought it was fun and cute, but I figured my husband would think it was cheesy.  Then I thought about it some more but dismissed it because obviously she hasn’t been married as long as I have.  Then I started thinking, what tokens could I give him that he would find fun and interesting?  As it rolled around in my mind for a day or two, I finally decided to do it.  I am sure I could find some inexpensive, but interesting items to fill the 12 days…cheesy or not. I started to get excited, as I let the creative juices flow.

I don’t think this has to be just for a husband.  You can choose anyone special in your life (a grandchild, parent or neighbor) and design a 12 Days of Christmas surprise for them.  I decided that I would start on December 13 and finish on December 24.  That is when our family celebrates Christmas together so that would be perfect. I am also going to wrap each gift with a tag that says “on the ___ day of Christmas my true love gave to me…” and then I will ‘try’ to find words to match the tempo of the song. I am not going to stress about rhyming! You might do “on the ___ day of Christmas my grandma (friend, daughter) gave to me…..”.

Here is the list I came up with:

Day 1 – a picture of him and his granddaughters in a magnetic frame for his office (so he can put it on the file cabinet or other metal surface)

Day 2 – 2 books I order for him from Amazon.  This book was recommended on the blog over50feeling40.com. I bought the book AND the workbook.  Who doesn’t want to live strong, fit and sexy until your 80? Here is the link if you are interested. (I also bought the woman’s version for me – wink!)

Day 3 – A small cookie tin with 3 penguins on it and almond cookies inside-he likes penguins and he likes almond cookies –double score!

Day 4 –4 boot socks (2 pair) – he always needs socks and these are soft and functional.

Day 5 – a five meatball spaghetti dinner (I am sure he will love this one).

Day 6 –6 packages of peppermint hot chocolate mix to take to work.

Day 7 – The movie – The Magnificent Seven (the movie Fast and Furious 7 would also work)

Day 8 – 8 Hershey kisses (wrapped in a small box)

Day 9 – A list of what I love about you (I planned this for the day I had a hard time finding something for – explaining the choice of the number 9)

Day 10 – A favorite band’s music CD with 10 songs (found at Walmart for $5)

Day 11 – Movie – Ocean’s Eleven (obviously my husband likes movies!)

Day 12 – 12 colored pencils (along with a fun color page like a Celtic knot or something)

There you have it. My 12 days of Christmas gift list, for my hubby.  I am fairly excited.  He doesn’t know anything about it. It’s going to be fun!

Do you do anything special around the holidays?

This post linked to A Grand Social at grandmasbriefs.com, Blog Hop on nanahood.com, memoriesbythemile.com – Treasure Box Tuesday and Creative Muster at flusterbuster.com

Please note – the product links above are affiliate links

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The Thankful Banner

Family By November 28, 2015 Tags: , , , , , 2 Comments

resize-bannerIt’s been more than 25 years since I designed and constructed a 6 foot long, blue felt Thankful Banner for my family.  The goal was to put the items we were thankful for on it, in picture form, so my young children could understand it.  I hang it up every year around this time.  It stays up pasts Christmas, therefore it gets packed away with the holiday decorations.  If I am slow to pull out the Christmas decorations, then the banner is delayed in getting put up (meaning after Thanksgiving).  My two boys are both grown, but they expect to see it hanging on the wall.  I guess it is tradition and a part of their childhood.  When my son got married he noticed when I added his new wife to the banner.  Several years later, my daughter-in-law noticed when I added our first granddaughter to the banner.  This year we have a new addition to our family and I will be adding a second granddaughter to the things we are Thankful for.

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Being thankful is powerful; it can remove a sour attitude, give you an appreciation for life or stir up a sense of hope and peace. It can chase the doldrums away and provide renewed energy. Our family banner is full, but simple. A pepperoni pizza represents food and musical notes represent singing.  Our banner has a hot air balloon on it because they are cool and we used to live in the hot air balloon capital of the world – Albuquerque.

Even in the worst of times, there is always something to be thankful for.

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What are you thankful for?

This post is linked to The Grand Social over at Grandma’s Briefs, Treasure Box Tuesdays at Memories by the Mile and Creative Muster at Fluster Buster

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Old Photographs and Faded Memories

Family By November 16, 2015 Tags: , , , , 9 Comments

Last weekend I flew in to visit my sisters, I have three.  We hadn’t been together since my mom died, three years ago.  At that time, looking for comfort and connection, we had sorted through piles of old photographs.  Some pictures were of us as children, others of my mother when she was a young woman and still others known only by the fading names scribbled on the back.

We spent time telling stories and laughing at the memories.  I was given the assignment, or maybe I volunteered, of taking some of these ancient photos and scanning them so the images could be preserved for future generations. Oddly, all of us seemed to have a few old and special photos in our personal collections.  I am not sure how that happened, but that probably was my mom’s doing. I imagined she divvied them up, little by little. When we reunited last week, I handed them the finished disk and the envelope of photographs I had borrowed.  Yes, it did take me three years to complete the project…sigh.

I never was especially interested in tracing family history or genealogy.  But, as I have grown older and special people have passed away in my life, I feel a desire to preserve, for my grandchildren, the knowledge and memories I do have.   Who were some of these people in my fading black and white photos?  I strain to remember what my grandmother told me about Pa Pa (her father) and Ma Ma (her stepmother). They lived on a farm in Missouri.  What was it like growing up on a farm in the early 1900’s?  How did she meet my grandfather, who was a city boy? These are questions I never thought to ask her. She may have told me some of it, but I wasn’t paying close enough attention to remember. Much of that rich and precious information is lost forever.resized-old-pic

Now what?  I decided to start journaling the stories I do remember. Then I can pair the written memories with some of the old photographs I have, preserving some of the family history to pass on. I can still recall personal interactions with my Aunt Opal (my grandmothers’, mothers’ sister), who must have been almost 90 years old when I was a teenager and the special love of my Aunt Blanch (my grandfathers’ sister) who always, throughout my childhood and until I was married, sent me a birthday card with a dollar in it.

My grandmother was a wife and mother during the Great Depression.  She told me that the potato peeler was invented during this time (maybe, maybe not… but I like the story anyway).  She said the peeler helped people to remove as little of the potato as possible, while removing the skin. Food was in short supply and everyone had to make the most of what they had.  Hmmm…  This is an interesting bit of history that I can pass along to my granddaughters once we start cooking together. I look forward to it.

How do you plan to preserve your family history?

This post is linked to Grand Social over at Grandma’s Briefs, Treasure Box Tuesdays at Memories by the Mile and Creative Buster over at Fluster Buster

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Daisies – The Friendly Flower

Family By October 15, 2015 Tags: , , , 1 Comment

I watched this movie called You’ve Got Mail, I believe it came out in the late 1990’s.  It’s a cute, rom-com, in case you are interested. In the movie, Meg Ryan asked the question, “…don’t you think daisies are the friendliest flower?”.  I would have to agree with her assessment (or rather, with her character in the movie).  I love daisies, white ones in particular.  They seem bright, cheery and yes, friendly.

Six years ago, when my son went away to college, he left me a great gift.  I didn’t find it until several months later, but it was fantastic!  One crisp, October morning I looked out my front window and there, among my husband’s “wild” growing ferns, was a bunch of white daisies looking up at me.  Not quite believing my eyes I went outside to investigate.  Sure enough there was a daisy bush growing under my front window.  Knowing this did not just randomly happen I asked my husband if he knew anything about it.  He didn’t.  Neither did my oldest son, which only left one more person to ask.

My youngest son, knowing how much I like daisies, planted the bush for me as a surprise. It was great!  Every fall, while he was away at school, I would look out my front window and see the daisies.  I would send him a picture of the bush and a text saying “thanks for the flowers!” and he would text back smiles and winks.resized-daisy

He graduated college a year ago and is now living closer to home. But again, this sunny, autumn morning I happened to look out my front window and noticed a bunch of happy, smiling, friendly daisies.  Thanks, Nate!

Which flower is your favorite?

This post linked to the Blog Hop at Nanahood.com

and Flower Friday

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10 Tips for a Happier Family Trip to D.C.

Family By September 14, 2015 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

This year, as a collective Christmas present, our family decided to take a vacation together.  We called it the “gift of time” because what we really like to do and don’t get to do as much, is spend time together.

The destination we chose was Washington D.C., over Labor Day weekend.  We decided to add an extra day, extending the already long weekend.  Off we went, celebrating Christmas in September, the grandparents, three grown children, a two-year old and an infant. It turns out we chose well, except for the heat, which hovered around 90 degrees, the summer crowds had thinned and the hotel prices were great.

Here are a few suggestions that helped us:

  1. Let each member pick something they would like to see.  We put together an itinerary so that everyone got to see or do at least one thing on their list. Nobody left disappointed.
  2. Book a hotel close to a metro stop and eating establishments.  At the end of a long day visiting the sites, you just want to get back to the hotel and find somewhere close by to eat dinner.
  3. Get connecting hotel rooms, if possible.  This made it nice for the parents to hand off the grands in the morning, so they could get a few minutes of peace and quiet before breakfast.  My granddaughter loved going back and forth through the “secret door”.
  4. Download the DC Metro Map app onto your phone.  You can get it for both Apple and Android phones.  We downloaded it onto several phones, so more than one person had the map. This proved to be very helpful.
  5. If you are planning to use the metro a lot, consider purchasing an all-day metro pass.  It pays for itself after three or four trips, depending if you travel off-peak or not.  Children 4 and under ride free.
  6. Keep the little kids in the stroller while you are in the metro station.  It is easier and safer to get on and off the train quickly if they are contained in the stroller.
  7. Bring an easily fold-able stroller and one that reclines for nap time on the go.  If you plan on using a double stroller, don’t bring one that sits side by side.  Because they are wide, it is difficult to get them on and off the metro train and they don’t easily fit through a lot of the museum doors or museum security areas.
  8. Find out ahead of time which attractions allow strollers and which ones don’t.  You can usually find this information on their websites.  For example, the Butterfly Exhibit at the Natural History Museum did not allow strollers, but had a place to store it while we were in the exhibit.
  9. Bring water and snacks for the kids (and possibly adults). Food is a bit pricey at the Smithsonian cafeterias.  Have a little something on hand to hold them over until you can find a reasonable restaurant.  The small individual bags of cookies and crackers work well.
  10. Less is more. Don’t try to cram too much into one day.  It is better to see a few things and have time left over to relax, instead of being harried, harassed and exhausted because you had to get it all in.

We had a great time and are now looking forward to our second family Christmas vacation.

Does your multi-generation family travel together?

 

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A Most Embarrassing Moment

Family By September 11, 2015 No Comments

There I was, innocently boarding the Metrorail in Washington DC.  We had decided to take the yellow line or maybe it was the blue line, to have breakfast at a popular waffle house across from Ford’s Theater.  We had to take two different trains to get there and this was the second one. The first ride went very smoothly, there were just a few people and plenty of open seating.  That was not the case with the second train.  It was fairly packed.  There were no empty seats.  This was not a big deal.  I have ridden the subway in New York City, I understand about grabbing the overhead rail and hanging on. Why I decided to forget all that when I did, I don’t know.

I boarded the train, following my husband who was carrying the toddler.  Looking back it would have been much better to keep her in the stroller while we were dealing with getting on and off the train.  Lessons learned.  Anyway, I moved over next to him when my granddaughter suddenly decided she wanted me to hold her.  Of course, being the good grandmother that I am, I reached out to take her.  At that moment, the train decided to lurch forward at full speed.  I wasn’t holding on to the hand rail above my head or anything else, except my granddaughter.  Before I could stop myself, I stumbled backwards and landed in a young man’s lap!  I jumped up as fast as I could, moved a tiny bit away (it was crowed) and made my red faced apologizes, several times.  He was very kind and gracious but I guess the man sitting next to him had experienced quite enough, because he jumped up and disappeared.  His departure left an open seat, which I quickly took, carefully avoiding any eye contact with the victim sitting next to me.  Thankfully, the train ride only lasted a few minutes but it felt like forever.

Meanwhile, my oldest son was trying not to giggle.  He couldn’t wait to get off the train to retell the whole scene from his perspective.  His biggest regret was that he didn’t get it on film!  A few days later we were exiting the Metrorail station when my son pointed out this sign.

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It’s going to be a while before I live this story down!

What embarrassing moments have you experienced while on travel with your family?

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Pizza and a movie

Pizza and a Movie

Family By August 28, 2015 No Comments

When my boys were little, my husband worked long hours during the week.  He left early and arrived home late. However, we decided during that time to make Friday night, family night.  We went one step further and deemed it “Pizza and Movie” night. So, on most Friday nights, dad left work at a reasonable hour to make it home in time for our special date. The boys would look forward to it.  We would cuddle on the couch (that was back when we all fit), eat pizza, watch a movie and then have discussions.  Questions like, “who do you think is the best superhero?” or “why did so and so feel he had to lie?”, were common.

When my oldest son went off the college, out of state, he regularly called home on Friday night.  He wanted to chat and then asked what we were planning to watch that night. He felt a connection (with possibly some home sickness thrown it), he knew where we would be and what we would be doing.  We had created a tradition. We have watched and discussed many movies with our kids over the years.  The movies allowed us to talk about stuff and point out examples of things that might not have come up in normal conversations.

Today, we are empty nesters.  Our boys both live an hour away.  But, if they happen to come over on a Friday night, their questions is, “where is the pizza and what are you watching?”.

What traditions have you created in your family?

 

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The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Family By August 28, 2015 No Comments

My family loves raspberries. When we lived in New Mexico they were not as easy to come by as they are in New England. The climate is great here for growing all kinds of berries. A few years ago, I decided I would buy my husband a raspberry bush for Father’s Day. Actually, I found them on sale and bought three. I didn’t plant them right away and only one ended up surviving. The one that made it is a monster of a bush, it produces long spiney arms, with sharp, skinny thorns that reach out to stab those who dare approach it.

It has been in the ground for three years and has been producing raspberries for the last two.  Last year I very carefully covered it with netting so birds and other animals would not eat my precious, very first crop of berries, before I had a chance to harvest them. The netting is a pain to deal with, it gets caught on everything. This year I left it off to see what would happen. Nothing. The berries were there for me to collect day after day. I was surprised at first but then realized, as I was rubbing the scratches on my arms, it would be dangerous for any animal (including human) to attempt to pick these berries! You must proceed at your own risk.

I collected more than 10 cups of raspberries this year. It would have been more but a family of raspberry lovers were eating them while picking. This includes my two year old granddaughter who insisted each berry go into her mouth, not in the bowl.

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When I was a little girl I fondly remember going to my grandmother’s house in the summer and eating black berries off the bushes along her fence. I realize now that I planted a memory in my backyard. My children and grandchildren can come and eat of it for years to come.

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Do you pick berries with your grandkids?

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