I’m Bored

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One of the most dreaded two word sentences a parent will hear.
I’m bored!
Summertime is usually when these syllables slide out in a long groan from the mouth of a child slumped over the arm of an overstuffed chair, feet up, head hanging down.
You offer suggestions. None of them satisfy this pretzel twisted child.
Then you ask the question you’ve been holding back in hopes your other ideas would spark interest.
“What would you like to do?”

The litany begins:
Bonkers? (sunny and 80 degrees, who wants to be inside?)

Chuckie Cheese? (the name causes a cold sweat)
Laser Quest? (wear ear plugs if you’re a newbie)
Red Sox Game? (ticket prices WAY out of reach here!)
Pool Party? (maybe I can deal with this on a limited kid basis)

We live on the coast. A coast known for beautiful, pristine beaches, many kid friendly parks and scenic views that tourists flock to see every year.
But, my grandson has ‘seen all that stuff’, after all we live here!
What happend to the days when a kid just got out of bed in the mornign and couldn’t wait to greet the day, a mom usually insisting he or she at least guzzle a glass of juice before heading out. Bikes to ride, trees to climb, forts to build…all that creative, imaginative stuff that make for sweet dreams when his head hits the pillow, weary but happy.
I think parents have spent far too much time schlepping kids to every new attraction, theme park and event that they’ve forgotten the art of play.
Perhaps we need to reintroduce our children to simple, creative, imaginative play. Dust off the bike and go for a ride. Take a short hike in some nearby woods and collect pine cones, leaves. Lift rocks to see something squirmy slither out. Bring a picnic lunch and sit under a tree and just……listen.
Think I’ll go dig out the wicker picnic basket and upright that boy before the blood pools in his head.

Happy Monday!

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He’s Being Eight..

eightI’m very fortunate to have extensive experience facilitating parenting education groups as well as many years working in a social service agency. Both of these situations have afforded me wonderful resources in terms of access to people who work with children and have a wealth of knowledge around child development issues. It’s a resource I’ve tapped multiple times over the years.
With all this knowledge and resources at my fingertips, one would think I’d have a handle on just about any situation that arises when one is parenting a child.
Wrong. I don’t.
Case in point. The GrandPrince (grandson approaching eight years old in a few weeks) recently was behaving in a manner that was, well, not himself. He was flippant, a bit combative, sulky and challenged almost every statement or decision I made insisting on knowing the ‘why’ of each one and loudly voicing his reasons as to why it should or should not happen.
Now I have a pretty democratic parenting style. I know not to get pulled into power struggles, the importance of giving choices, when to set boundaries and limits and respecting a child’s feelings. But this kid was pushing my buttons big time!
I talked to the Spouse about the GP’s behavior and he was as stumped as I was. It was simply out of character for him. The light bulb went off for both of us at the same time.
He must have some dormant feelings he’s not dealing with about his adoption/living situation/mother/sister/not having a traditional family, etc, etc. You name it, we came up with it. We immediately put our head’s together to determine a strategy that would help to narrow down what could be bothering our grandson and how best to support him and encourage him to share his feelings with us.
Given my access to the above mentioned resources, I spoke to a dear friend who happens to be a fabulous social worker with a number of years in the field working with children and families. I listed all the behaviors and the possibilities for this acting out that had changed our usual compliant, good natured grandson into an irritating, restless, sullen stranger. She listened quite attentively, nodding appropriately and then sat back a minute before replying.
“I can see how upsetting this is for you, and how perplexing too. Have you thought that perhaps he’s just being an eight year old?”
I blinked. And blinked again. I was complicating things by overlooking the simplicity of them. I dug out some child development books and lo and behold I could have inserted his name right under “Your Eight Year Old’s Social/Emotional Development”.
My point in all this is, as grandparents raising our grandchildren we are at times hell bent, I believe, to make life as ‘normal’ as possible for them to make up for what they don’t have; that traditional Mom and Dad who are age appropriate and are just like the parents of all their friends.
Truth is, we’re not a traditional family, but we *are* a family. A loving, caring, nurturing, supportive family. And yes, our circumstances are different from the traditional families on the block and with that comes, at times, issues that must be addressed, questions answered, feelings expressed and dealt with. But most of the time, we’re just like everyone else who’s raising a child and trying to do the best they can to help that child grow to be a happy, confident, loving, caring human being.
It’s not always about the differences, sometimes it’s just about being eight. Happy Birthday, kiddo.

Happy Friday
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What’s For Dinner?

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How many times have we heard that inquiry over the years? More importantly, how many times has the reply been one that brought a cheer instead of a frown attached to a groan? I’ve come to believe that nearly 8 yr old boys can sustain themselves on cheeseburgers, mac and cheese (boxed only), peanut butter on toast and frozen waffles (warmed in the toaster that is).
I try my best not to make meal time a battlefield. It causes stress around a time that should be relaxing and facilitates a reconnection back to the family after a day away. With all the issues many of our children face, the last thing we as parents need to add is an eating disorder! Now I’m not so naive as to think lecturing about why that wilted green thing on your child’s plate is nutritiously good for them will lead to anorexia, however, it certainly won’t foster pleasant memories of time spent around the dinner table.
The Spouse is a man who believes it’s important for kids to have a variety of foods. He touts the nutritional value of different vegetables; the warnings about consuming too much read meat or the benefits of fruits every day. I concur with it all. But try telling all that to a finicky eater as you place an artichoke on his plate! I didn’t eat one until I was over 50. Mainly because I was too embarrassed to ask HOW to eat the darned thing and to be honest it looked like a lot of work for such little pleasure. But I digress.
If you’ve got a picky eater or find yourself on the receiving end of more moans than cheers at the announcement of the dinner menu, try this. Let your child plan the menu for the week with you AND go shopping for it. Give them some input, within reason of course. Chicken or fish on Wednesday? How shall it be cooked? What goes in the salad? Potato or rice? Broccoli or carrots? Try serving fruit with the meal instead of as a dessert. And let them eat it first if they choose. Pull out the good china and stemware. Use the real tablecloth and napkins and ditch the paper. A few tried and true strategies from my dining bag of tricks.
Course the trick really is, always having a new trick at the ready.

Bon appetit!

Is Summer Here Yet?

BeachI don’t know what the weather is in your part of the world but here in the Northeast USA the month of June (and the first part of July!) should have arrived with a “Build An Ark” theme! Twenty plus days of rain has certainly brought it’s share of gloom and dreariness. The long awaited days of summer fun at the beach, the pool, sitting on the deck after a long day’s work have been woefully few. Getting out of bed is a chore when the sky is gray and the rain pelts the windows. And once you’re up and about, who has much energy for anything? Something about rain calls out for naps, quilts, hot tea, a good book or a chick flick. My grandson has no interest in any of those. Go figure.

We were blessed with a glorious 4th of July weekend so I’m not going to complain..much. It’s just really difficult to keep kids interested in indoor activities when what they really want is to be outdoors after many months spent in classrooms. Video games, which are limited in our home, are only short lived diversions at best. Baking and cooking are fun but if your grandchild is like mine, he’s not interested in helping to make meatloaf; he wants to make cookies! Okay, that’s cool, except my thighs are not appreciative and my will power can only hold up for so long!

So what DO we do? A little of everything. I write or peruse Facebook while he has his allotted WII time. We read, separately and together.
We run a few errands and laugh about who can dash from car to store and be less wet than the other. We look for movies on Direct TV or rummage through DVDs we’ve seen over and over, and watch them yet again. He helps to get dinner ready by stirring or chopping or peeling whatever is needed. If I’m feeling REALLY brave, we’ll invite a friend over to play. Two boys indoors all afternoon can be a challenge for the most seasoned and creative parent! I prefer sunny day play dates, thank you. My creativity is maxed at offering a board game and when rambunctious boys can release that energy outdoors it’s make for a very happy Nana!
The weather man says the sun will come out by tomorrow afternoon. I’m banking on it because I’ve just promised the GP we could make cookies. Oy, my thighs!

Happy Wednesday!

Family Flix

Family movies, meaning G-rated, are hard to come by these days. And I for one am thankful that Disney-Pixar has filled the niche with some entertaining stuff that tickles the fancy of children and adults. The quality of storyline, animation and fun factor are superb and I believe if I had to choose a fav, I’d be hard press to do so.
If you’re a GRG (grandparent raising grandchild) give a click to this link
Pixar and check out the animated movies offered. Pixar is a Disney affiliate and going strong with incredilbe writers, animators and just plain fun flicks for families.
Ratatouilleratatouille2 and Finding Nemo are two we still replay and giggle ourselves silly over. Ratatouille is a tale of a French rat with a penchant for gourmet cooking and his trials in triumphs in becoming a renowned chef. Finding Nemo is an aquatic verison of the age old tale of an overprotective parent (a clownfish Dad) and an adventerous child, Nemo. Good stuff, both.
Take a trip to your local video store, or Redbox if there’s one nearby (a buck a DVD, can’t beat the price!) or if you’ve got a Netflix account zap those kid friendly movies into your queue and their delivered to your mailbox in just a couple days.
A massive bowl of buttered popcorn, blankets and pillows in front of the tube on a Friday night make for good family fun and laughs.
Compliments of Pixar. Enjoy.

Happy Sunday!

M&M’s – Menopause and Memory

Menopausal Madness

Menopausal Madness


At 56 I’m officially ‘post menopausal’. Prior to that I was menopausal, pre-menopausal and peri-menopausal. With all those pause-als I should have known there was more to this life transition than what my elders and GYN were telling me.
I believe the word “pause” is a not so subtle warning to women of what to expect when a once quick, sharp memory takes a nosedive. In it’s place comes the long……….pause. It arrives frequently and usually without warning. The word is there, right there on the tip of your tongue, teasing your brain and playing hide and seek with your dusty word retrieval skills. Sometimes you can even see it in your mind’s eye, but articulate it? Nope. At least not without a struggle. Of course it always happens when you’re trying to engage in a conversation with the hope of an intelligent exchange. Or conversing with a co worker, friend or spouse and want desperately to make a point or at least impart a coherent thought!
Lapses in memory are a part of the aging process therefore it’s to be expected. I accept that. What is unacceptable is why I can see a coffee table in my mind but end up calling it the thing-a-ma-jig because I can’t recall the name of the damn thing! The frustration rises with every passing second until at last the light bulb goes off and I can speak the illusive noun.
Names are another topic. I’ve always prided myself on being able to recall a person’s name. Now? I confess I’ve resorted to calling most men ‘honey’, which they don’t seem to mind especially if they’re over 70. And women are gracious and accepting of a warm smile and a “so nice to see you again!” said with great sincerity. Oh. And if she’s over 45, I get that little smile of knowing in return.

It’s a sistah thang.

Happy Saturday!

Goop! Rainy day fun.

Homemade Goop: An Easy Craft Idea for Kidsgoop05

Ever hear, “I’m bored” as the rain pellets the windows and you’ve played every board game and card game at least three times? And it’s only 11:00 AM! Sound familiar? Well keep your kids busy with a homemade, easy craft idea called goop. For about two bucks and five minutes of your time, the kids will be singing your praises and laughing themselves silly. Grab the supplies on your next shopping trip and get ready to provide an easy craft for kids and adults alike.
Goop: the slick, snotty, slime putty for kids ages 5-70.

What You Need:

* 1/4 Cup of Cornstarch
* 4oz. White Glue
* 1/2 teaspoon Borax
* 1/4 cup warm water
* Liquid Food Coloring
* 2 Mixing Bowls
* Large Spoon
* The Camera

Step1

Get out one mixing bowl. Before you begin, instruct the kids that although this is a homemade recipe, it is for fun and play, NOT TO EAT.
Step2

Pour the cornstarch into the bowl. Have the kids sift with their fingers. (Although this is an easy craft activity, keep napkins or a towel close by in case of spills.)
Step3

Pour the glue into the bowl. Mix well. Once again, this can be a messy kids craft. My suggestion is to make homemade goop in the kitchen, not the living or dining room. You don’t want your homemade recipe on the couch a year from now.
Step4

Even though it’s a kids easy craft, food coloring scares some moms. Solution? Vinegar. You’ll see.
In a separate bowl, mix water food coloring and Borax. Mix until dissolved. Don’t worry about the food coloring, let the kids enjoy this easy craft. The idea of food coloring staining fingers sends some mothers into a panic. Don’t worry, a little vinegar will take it right off.

Step5

What an Easy Craft Idea for Kids~ Pour the two mixtures together. Stir for 3 minutes, even after you see the homemade goop forming. This is to make sure it’s mixed all the way through. Let the kids help with this, allowing them to feel the slime and see what’s going on. This is the fun and easy part of the craft that kids love.

Now…

Grab the camera and snap away. Kids will play with this fun goop for hours
Roll it, throw it, smash it, trash it, beat it, the possibilities are endless.
This is an easy fun idea for kids, yet so cheap.
Remind children, don’t eat the goop. (kinda like don’t eat the yellow snow!).

Have Fun!
Happy Thursday!