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!

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Snow Day Mondays

winter-09-016Snow days are the best. Kids cheer when the announcement comes  and so do we who are so lucky as to be employed in an arena where snow days are possible. And snow days on Monday are the bomb! An instant three day weekend; a shortened work week. Ah such bliss in the midst of snow, freezing temperatures and Spring too far off in the distance for my taste, despite having put February behind us. And today, March came in like a lion.

Snow days bring no schedules to follow, no deadlines to meet, no work to get done.  I suppose one could clean the bathtub or rearrange the linen closet but why waste a good snow day on that! How about lazing on the couch with the leftover Sunday Globe? In your pj’s? All day?  Playing Scrabble online…for hours? Flipping through old family photo albums? Baking cookies? (diet be damned) Sipping plum tea with a biscotti on the side? Watching the kids pummeling each other with snowballs? How about any and all of the above?

Oh and did I mention the Spouse shoveled us out so I didn’t even have to go outside and brave the very elements that offered up an extra day of rest.

I’m a lucky woman. Yes siree.

Happy snow day Monday all!

Creature Comforts


Winter days are short. Winter nights are long. Even though the days grow longer now that we’re beyond the winter solstice, I’m not convinced summer is all that close just because it’s no longer getting dark at 4:30PM. Why is this of importance? I equate dark, cold and winter with keeping warm and cozy. Warm and cozy means comfort food. Comfort food means anything that immediately bypasses the digestive system and settles right into the thighs and hips with a resounding “I’m home!”
Stews, casseroles, apple pies, toll house cookies, mac and cheese..well, anything with melted cheese. The aromas that permeate our house on a cold winter’s evening are enough to bring a content audible sigh and send me running for my Snuggie. Yes, I bought one..two in fact.
The Grand Prince is a creature of comfort too. He devours carbs like a starving man, strokes fleece and flannel like a well loved feline and has his own Snuggie! So sue me, I bought the second one for him. Give him a bowl of mac and cheese, a fresh from the dryer pair of pj’s and permission to snuggle down in the living room with both and he’s in heaven.
I guess I’m taking the long road to simply say that we sometimes overlook the small things in every day living that give us that warm belly feeling that children revel in so easily. Life with my grandson has taught me to pause and relish the first sip of morning coffee on a frosty morning. To laugh and enjoy the lengthy process of cooking anything with a seven year old. To count blessings when it’s far easier to complain. To remember how quickly a child grows and the regret we feel when we ‘wish we had’. To cherish the love of family and friends and to never take either for granted. To be thankful for a warm house, a secure job and money to pay the bills.

And yes, to buy a Snuggie or two just because we want it.

Grandparents Day is Every Day


The second Sunday of each September is Grandparents Day. A day to celebrate the special bond and role that grandparents hold in the tapestry called family. For some of us that celebration takes on a new and different meaning each day the sun rises. We are custodial caretakers of our grandchildren.

Raising a grandchild is hardly an enigma these days. It’s an unfortunate, stark reality. Unfortunate in that, for a myriad of reasons, children have to leave their parent’s care, most times under duress, tears and confusion and move in with their grandparents or other kinship caretakers. Drug addiction, mental illness, alcoholism, domestic violence are but some of the reasons a grandparent may suddenly be thrust into the position of taking their child’s child to avoid the alternative; foster care. I’ve yet to meet a grandparent, when faced with the choice, chooses the alternative. Those that do, I can only imagine, may live with anguish, guilt and fear after making the decision to place a child of their heart into a bureaucratic foster care system. I do not envy them nor pass judgment upon them.

There are approximately 3.7 million children in the U.S being raised by grandparents according to the Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey, a 30 percent jump since 1990. Grandparents finding themselves in a care giving role once more are often unaware of any available resources in their state to support them and their grandchildren as they adjust to their new lifestyles. It can be a tough road alone and at a stage in your life you hadn’t planned on.

The word adjustment seems a little meager to me. Just when you started to plan a life for yourself and your spouse; just as the nest started feeling so much less empty and ever more filled with the dreams and plans envisioned decades prior. Often without warning you find yourself in the midst of a crisis with your child AND your grandchild at center stage. You become the entire supporting cast.

As the dust settles and the day to day routines are established in your new roles, the emotions unravel from that safe knot you’ve tied them in so deep within the pit of your stomach.
Anger and hurt at your own child for not living up to the dream of the person you had hoped would grow to become a responsible adult and parent.
Bitterness and resentment at a system that does not provide enough of anything for grandparents and families willing to take a child that might well have been placed on the backs of the state’s taxpayers.
Sorrow and grief for the life you had mapped out in that long awaited unspoken reward when the children you bore left to make a life of their own and you got one too.
Anxiety and worry over the financial, emotional and physical demands embodied in raising another human being at an age when mind, body and spirit are no longer energizer bunny ready.

Each emotion is true and real and so very normal. That’s the hard part, the acceptance of it all. The passage of time helps. Reaching out to family and friends is a must. Finding the community resources available to you is essential. Coming to the realization that life doesn’t always agree with your plan, no matter how well you orchestrated everything you could for the desired outcome, is crucial.

We made a choice to embrace this child and give him what our child could not. There’s not enough time or where with all to wallow in the sea of emotion that seems, at times, to drag us under. He deserves better from us. And the joy he brings to our home and family is immeasurable. He brings with him a life gift unexpected but full of new hopes, new dreams and unending possibilities.

Friends or acquaintances who learn of our second round parenting say we have a place awaiting in heaven for doing what they think they never could.
My usual reply is very simple.
“We are all ready very blessed in too many ways to list. We didn’t do this for a reservation in heaven. The big Guy sorta knew the outcome of this one before we did.”

And then I ask, “If it were your grandchild (insert name here), wouldn’t you do the same?”

I almost always get a thoughtful pause, a nod and gentle knowing smile in return.

Happy Grandparents Day…everyday!

School Days


Despite the summer temperatures, my brain whispers “Fall”. Why? Because it’s September and back to school time. I still get those pre school butterflies as memories of sweaters, new shoes and backpacks find themselves occupying my mind. My grandson (a.k.a. the Grand Prince) began his third year at our neighborhood elementary school last week. I believe we were both ready for him to begin, having crammed in vacations, educational day trips, play dates, numerous barbecues with family and friends, a few birthday parties, pool parties and a smattering of lazy, couch potato days, the latter of which was deemed a necessity by moi simply to take a breath; all between mid June and August 31st. Whew! No wonder we were starving for a little structure and schedules!

Returning to school takes some preparation, even for the ‘seasoned’ parent and child. There will be new clothes, shoes, backpacks and lunch boxes to buy. Perhaps finishing up that last book on the summer reading list and reorganizing the child’s desk to reflect the transition from ‘catch all’ to workspace. This is also a good time to sort through your child’s summer or fall clothes and deliver the no-way-this-fits-pile to your local consignment shop.

School supplies must fit into your budget as well. Teachers will usually send home a welcome letter to their students with a list of needed supplies as well as any donations much needed and appreciated for the classroom. For your older children, it’s best to wait until school begins to accommodate the requirements of more than one teacher. The Marilyn Manson or High School Musical three ring binder your child just had to have would be frowned upon when a plain white one was required.

Those lazy days of summer when sleeping past the alarm wasn’t a worry is now a very big deal. We all relax our schedules over the summer break and getting back on track for the fall transition can be a bit of a struggle. I always begin a good week to ten days before the official start of school by regulating bedtime. As with any new routine it’s not always well received, however, simply talking about the need for rest and the exciting new year ahead prepares children and allows them the ‘buy in’. I give the Grand Prince a little wiggle room with bedtime (“okay bud, you choose. 7:45? or 8:00?) I know, it’s a no brainer and he’s only 7 and can tell time but the key is HE gets to choose instead of me or the Spouse dictating a time.

The same goes for setting the morning alarm. Give yourself and your child the time you need in the mornings for breakfast, personal hygiene routines, dressing etc.
It’s crucial if, like me, you’re simply not a morning person or you can’t form a complete sentence without three cups of coffee under your belt. The Grand Prince takes his shower the night prior, decides on the day’s attire, gets his backpack ready with paperwork and snacks and hung on the newel post while I set a place for breakfast. The less you have to squeeze into your morning, the smoother it goes for everyone.

And on that first day of school, provided your child’s not horrified at the idea of being seen with you as their friends look on, you can get a hug, a smile and a “see you after school!” as they exit the car and into the world of academia, happy and ready to meet the day.

To Velcro or Not To Velcro, that is the question!

sneakersTeaching a child to tie his or her shoes has always been an area of procrastination and distaste for me. I don’t know why. I can’t explain it. Perhaps I was permanently scarred by my own parents when they taught me but I have no memory of the actual act. That in itself convinces me it was traumatic. The idea of the tedious steps to explain the process, the repeated practice runs, the patience and required motor skills (of which my mild arthritis objects!) is enough to send this woman running for the first pair of Velcro sneakers Target has to offer.
My oldest daughter is, in fact, the only child I taught to tie her own shoes and that was using the famed bunny ear method. Of course those of the more sophisticated loop method would sneer at the suggestion of bunny ears, however, to this very day Daughter One continues contently to form her laces into bunny ears and voila! Sneakers tied. She also taught her younger brother and sister. Ha!
Suffice it to say the day came recently, as I knew it would, when my grandson asked the dreaded question. “Nan? Will you teach me to tie my sneakers?” My breath ceases. “Oh no!” I think to myself. “Isn’t he happy with the Velcro anymore?” “Are the kids teasing him because he straps instead of looping!!?” “Just when do I fit in the HOURS it will take for me to teach him without requiring a Xanax before each excruciating session!?” His grandfather, overhearing the request, stealthily moves to the kitchen and out to the back deck. “Coward” I mouth over my shoulder as he smiles back at me.
Taking a breath, I manage a smile, as all grandmothers and mothers do at these moments, and reply with the barest quiver in my voice, “Sure, buddy. We’ll start tomorrow!” And so we did.
We’re still working on it, I’m happy to report. And we are using the bunny ear method. Of course the laces come untied within 90 seconds of his securing them, looking more like limp noodles than neat little bunny ears knotted precisely. But precision will come and my patience is serving me far better than I thought. My arthritis balks, but I ignore it.
Acceptance is a marvelous thing, I’ve learned. My grandson teaches me a new found enthusiasm for things I once found to be a dreaded chore and I revel in his accomplishments and my own.
Soon we will tackle the art of the double knot; how to tie one and more importantly, how to untie one.

A Day in The Life of A GRG* (*grandparent raising grandchild)

The birthday invitation was for two o’clock on a Saturday sent by a classmate of my grandson. I was thrilled he had adjusted well to kindergarten; making new friends, discovering the joys of learning and life beyond the world of our friendly little neighborhood.

Now the next social step presented itself, the birthday party. I telephoned our RSVP while my grandson bubbled with excitement about the prospect of seeing his friends outside of school and having fun at the local roller skating rink. I, on the other hand, was a little hesitant. My memories of roller rink birthday parties attended with my children were on par with my first visit to the periodontist. However, this event wasn’t about me, it was about my grandson enjoying social time with his peers. Off we go to the local toy store, spend 35 minutes deciding and with much negotiation we at last have a gift purchased, wrapped and in hand.

On the appointed day, we arrive five minutes early (teaching children social graces such as promptness is high on my priority list) and the rush of memory hits me the instant the door closes behind us. We’re greeted by blaring rock and hip-hop music, flashing lights, and scores of children flying by in haphazard direction on 4, 6, or 8 wheels. The only order is inside the rink itself. “Skaters in clockwise circle only please” crackles over the PA system. Before us are row upon row of tables with reserved signs; Isaiah’s Party, Mia’s Party, Olivia’s party all forming a continuous domino like line. We find our host’s family table and smile pleasantries and exchange thank yous then off we go to the rental counter and skates that bear the wear of thousands of children’s feet. Would it be paranoid to pour hand sanitizer on the inner soles? Skates are fitted and it’s onto the wooden rink floor, dodging the experienced and blending with the ‘don’t let me’ fall crowd. I, skate less, and grandson on wheels makes a difficult pair. At 5 yrs old he’s coordinated enough but his inexperience on wheels and the deafening din of the music makes it impossible for any instruction so we settle for “I’ll stand still and you pull me Nana” mode. Naturally, his idea, not mine. Needless to say, once around the rink was the limit for me and his frustration was beginning to show so we decided to return the skates and check back at the table for party food.

The usual fare greeted us. Pizza and drinks delivered just minutes before and served on Star Wars matching plates and cups with a cake sporting Darth Vader and Yoda. Who would have thought Star Wars was back in fashion? All gifts are quickly packed up at parties these days which is a blessing and avoids the occasional teary child wanting to ‘help’ open them and several more ripping at the toys to be the first to play and leaving the birthday child in a meltdown.

A little more time for skating or arcade games (we opted for the latter and had a blast race car driving!) and then it was done. Party over. An hour and a half had passed as I glanced at my watch and offered a silent prayer as the birthday Mom handed out goodie bags. (*note, these are a must and require a computer generated thank you note inside) Once more we smiled and exchanged thank yous to kids and parents alike. I sifted through a Mt Helen’s size pile of coats to find ours, congratulated the birthday boy and ran for the nearest exit sign to the sunshine beyond. Hand and hand we walked to the car and my grandson beamed up a smile to me, “Nana? Wasn’t that cool? I had a great time!”

And then it came as I knew it would. “Can I have my birthday at the roller rink?” That sweet face and set of deep dimples almost had me but I managed the age old reply created by and for all grandparents.

“We’ll see.” And then I smiled.