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!

Advertisements

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!

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.

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.

Me Time

beach timeOne of the things I and most parents put aside is ‘me’ time. There’s always an excuse as to why we can’t read a book, go for a walk, exercise, take a night out, (a whole weekend!? forget it!) or simply pamper ourselves in whatever ways help us to relax. Yes we all know we should schedule time for ourselves; we all watch Oprah and Dr. Phil who herald the importance of taking care of ourselves first, make YOU a priority they say, but it’s the other shoulds that never cease whispering in our ear that keep us too busy.
Should clean that closet.
Should finish that yard work.
Should visit Aunt Sheila.
Should get the dog to the vet.
Should catch up on those emails!
We should ourselves into biting off way too much of the proverbial chore pie and usually end up cranky, irritable and tired; hungry for an hour of …nothing. And unfortunately our children and significant others sometimes bare the brunt of our good intentions.

With the shift into the Fall routine in our house, I claim Sunday afternoons. The morning is spent first with a later rise than usual, followed by time with the Grand Prince and a special breakfast of some sort. Fried dough brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. My doctor doesn’t read this blog so I toss cholesterol concerns to the wind. Next, we sort out the Sunday paper. Comics to the GP. Front page and sports to the Spouse and I begin with the North Weekly section. As the pre game hour of Sunday football begins around noon, my darling of a husband takes to the kitchen and simmers, roasts, bakes and stews the most delectable comfort foods to be enjoyed for supper that evening; all done in between quarters and during half time of the game. He cooks and cusses at Brady (always out of earshot of course) and does the male bonding thing of football fundamentals with the GP.

Meanwhile, I blissfully write, read, nap, email, play Rise of Atlantis (my current computer game obsession. Hey, I’m on Journey 7!) listen to music or whatever strikes my fancy. Now many would argue this isn’t real me time, however I beg to differ. Yes, I could go out for a walk, or a bike ride, or shopping, or visit a friend, or get a pedicure and on occasion I do some of those things. But if me time becomes stressful due to the very definition of it, then it’s no longer ME time. See? Makes perfect sense.
I’ve learned not to overextend me time into a frenetic foray of events that only serves to exhaust me more and leave me feeling like I should relax.

The Grand Prince is learning this important lesson too. When I asked him recently about signing up for fall soccer, rationalizing we could fit it in on Saturdays since karate and tennis were after school activities, he paused and looked at me very thoughtfully and said, “Nan, I have enough things to go to all ready. I’m gonna skip soccer this year.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

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.