Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Boost Immune System and Go!

My daughter's family has been sick for a week. High fevers, vomiting, sore throats, body aches, severe coughing, and sleepless nights. She had managed to stay well to take care of her husband and four children until it caught her too. Things quickly turn from bad to worse when the mom gets sick too. Reinforcement was needed! 

They didn't want to ask for help because they knew it was highly contagious. Despite the risk, they needed outside help badly. I gladly offered my help and they accepted.  I have always been very lucky in that I can take care of sick people and not catch it. (I just knocked on wood, just in case my luck in running out.)

In preparation for my day of active duty in the trenches of coughs, runny noses, fevers, body aches, sore throats, and vomiting I did all I could do to boost my immune system before going. I had  a tall glass of orange juice with a high protein breakfast. I boosted my immune system with a multi-vitamin, Vitamin C, Zinc, and a heavy dose of Echinacea before leaving home. When  I got home for the day I added a "nap" ...  for an added boost to my immune system of course!

Although everyone was sick, it was nice to see my daughter able to rest and to take care of herself. The kids were very sweet. They were good at taking turns with "grandma" as I honored their requests to rub their feet, tickle their backs, fill their sippy cups,  and to adjust their blankets and pillows.

I'm going to go visit my vitamin cabinet again before bedtime and wash them all down with another tall glass of OJ!  I'll keep you posted on my how my string of luck is going.

No Pecking Order This Day

We had this little guy for two days and a night to help out his mom and dad. I can't think of another time when he has had his Grandma and Papa all to himself. He was absolutely perfect during his stay with us. He slept good, he ate good, and he was as happy as he could be. He is number eight out of nine grandchildren and when all of the grandchildren are here together he is usually near the bottom of the pecking order for the toys, the treats, the favorite sippy cup, and for his turn to sit on the coveted stepping stool.

I have a bottom drawer with all of the plates, bowls, and cups for the little ones. I don't think he could believe his luck in getting any one he wanted. He got all of the toys to himself and even his choice of the blankets for bedtime. Bringing the step stool out was like a dream come true for the little guy. ALL of my grandchildren love this well used step stool and there is a clear pecking order (within the minds of the grandchildren) of who should get to sit on it. It was really fun to see him climb up and down and spend as much time as he wanted sitting on his thrown for the day.

Papa and I really enjoyed our two on one time with our adorable #8!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More Photo's From Our Sunday Walk with the Boys

These photo's speak for themselves as do the ones in the next post. It took us one and a half hours to circle our block with two of our grandsons. We discussed, poked, kicked, took a closer look at, listened to, watched,  and picked up and touched everything that was new and exciting in every muddy pool, crack, litter pile, hole, gully, dirt pile,  and weed. They also became very resourceful since we left home with no containers to carry their finds.

More Photo's From Our Sunday Walk

A Sunday Walk With Our Grandsons

These photo's speak for themselves.  This was a Sunday walk with two of our grandsons who just love to find and salvage treasures, learn new things from their Papa,  they notice and investigate things in nature, and they take it all in with great excitement. When we were nearing home they said this was a really fun walk today. Papa and I agreed!

Five Star Event

Last evening we shared in a bit of belated Christmas joy.  Each of the adults in our family received tickets to the play "Lend me a Tenor" and a promise for dinner out before the show as part of our Christmas gift to them.

Everything went perfectly except that one of my son in laws was sick and unable to go with us. He was truly missed. Although the restaurant, a BBQ place was very busy we enjoyed visiting with one another as we waited to be served and seated. It was fun to see everyone's choices from the menu. There were plates piled with ribs and meat, buns piled high with tender and sweet pulled pork, baked potatoes nearly the size of a shoe box with all the toppings and a big scoop of BBQ meat on the top. There were sides of coleslaw, cheesy potatoes, beans, corn, applesauce, and more. 

We sat outside on the patio and the weather was perfect. It was also much quieter outdoors so we could more easily visit with one another over dinner at our long shared table for 10.
The timing was perfect when we finished dinner just minutes before the doors opened for seating at the play. It was just a short walk to the theatre across the street.

The show was very good. It was well performed, funny, and very entertaining. We all enjoyed the performance. We all sat together so we were able to enjoy one another's laughter, quiet comments, and a treasured shared memory.

My husband and I were thrilled with the results of our evening out. It was just what we had in mind for our adult family members. As parents it is very rewarding to see your adult children enjoying shared  time together and to know that each one of them made it a priority to be there with our family.

It is fun to get to see the adult kids having a night off from being mommy and daddy to my adorable grandchildren and getting to be just who they are and a date to their spouse. It is great fun to have the original family unit together and marvel at how well each one of our in law kids fit into our growing family unit.

This was not a five star event in the fact that we were all dressed up dining with china or attending a black tie Broadway play. It was a five star event for our family because our goals as a family were met as we enjoyed every single minute of time together. What more could parents ask for? Last night we received far more than we gave!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Note of Gratitude

This week I was on the receiving end of a very kind gesture. One of my nieces sent a note to thank my husband and I for the influence we have been in her life.  She spoke of memories she had as a young girl and the influence we had had on her as parents to our four small children at the time. She said she decided at the time that it was what she wanted for her own future family. She shared that she implemented those things into her own family (of seven children) and that she has been very happy with the results. 

Her memories were created from very simple things we did as parents. We had no idea of our influence at the time.  She probably had no idea that her simple note of gratitude would be a great influence on me either.

Her note was an unexpected boost to my spirits and it reminded me of the importance of our influence on others.  Most of all, it made me want to pay it forward and do the same for others. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

Old Tricks Still Paying Off

As a wife and mother I have followed the wonderful example of my parents of "a penny saved is a penny earned"! It has served my family well to live well within our modest means. We have never felt that we have gone without at any time. Our homes have been comfortable, I have never had to work,  everyone has always had the clothing and shoes they needed, we have eaten well, we have never been without a savings, we were able to take a summer vacation every year with our four children, and we very thankfully have no debt.

Looking toward our retirement and the "fixed income"  stage of our life I am very thankful for the frugality we have already lived and practiced. The old tricks of shopping the ads, using coupons, living within our means, and getting the most out of the store promotions for cash back, free gas cards, and free gift cards are all still paying off in a big way.

This week a trip to JC Penny netted us nearly $800 in savings while spending under $60. Those dollars purchased two adult ski jackets (value of $320), Four $80 holiday dresses (that we purchased for $5 ea.) for my granddaughters. (they will be birthday gifts throughout the year for the girls dress up box), and another $210 dollars of merchandise to add to the dress up birthday gifts for just $10 bucks! 

Today on a trip to the grocery store I saved $84.39 and I spent just $28.30.  I have been doing this sort of thing for the last 33 years to help our family get the most out of my husbands hard earned money.  Our teamwork has payed off over the years. My husband worked at a job that he really disliked for over 30 years. His sacrifice and hard work gave his family a steady and secure income, great benefits, good hours for family life, and now a nice pension for the rest of our lives. His retirement is well deserved. I won't be retiring from my job which is and has always been to get the most for our money! He is now onboard and is using the old tricks with me. The payoff for us is both fun and a means to living well within our own financial means.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Joy of Anticipation

As part of our Christmas gifts to our family we purchased tickets for all of the adults to attend a stage production together.  We also promised them dinner out before going to the theatre. Most importantly, my husband included a very heartfelt message from us along with our gift. The note shared our love for all of them and the realization of how busy all of our lives are.  It spoke of the importance of family and the value that we put on our shared time together. A few tears were shed and calendars were marked with the priority being "family".

We are looking forward to this night out with our adult children. Schedules have been cleared and babysitters have be lined up.  Oh, the joy of anticipation!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Family Birthday Roster

My family has grown from six to eighteen in recent years. We currently have nine adults and nine kids in our growing family. It is getting harder to remember everyones birthdays as our numbers climb. We celebrate every single birthday as a family. To help us all remember birthdays I have created a Family Birthday Roster. This roster only lists the birthdays in our immediate family. You could certainly add extended family if you wish. The grandchildren that read love to read the roster to keep track of the upcoming birthdays too. 

 I work to keep the roster current as the new little ones come along or as we gain more in-law kids. The roster is just a quarter of a computer generated page that lists the birthdays by month, the date, and the name of the birthday person. I also decorate it a bit by adding some fun birthday graphics. I mount it on another piece of scrapbook card stock to create an 1/2" border on the edges.  I then put a self sticking magnet on the back so that it can be stuck to the fridge or to a magnetic board in our homes for easy reference.

This has worked very well for our family. It is nice to have the reference handy and it is a good reminder of who's birthday is coming up next and that it is time to start thinking of our gift ideas!


Our Family Birthday Roster

January.....16th  Peter.....28th  Sue
February...5th  Bryan
March.......11th Chris.....19th  Jack.....30th Pam
May...........3rd Tiffany

I did it this way so that I could get a lot of information into a small space. If we don't have any birthdays in a month I still listed the month so that all twelve months are there. As babies are born or a marriage adds an in-law son or daughter they can be easily penciled into any month until the birthday roster is updated.

This idea has served our family very well. So, if you have trouble remembering birthdays in your family please feel free to give this idea a try. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Five Minutes of Local Fame

The Broadway Babies

Introducing the Broadway Babies! Three of my granddaughters performed with their dance company at a recent community event.  The two younger girls (far left in photos) are part of the Broadway Babies and the older sister (that I am very sad to say, I did not get a photo of because I ran out of memory) danced with the older dance team.

The family was out in force to support the girls in their first stage performance. Three of the boy cousins watched with admiration and excitement as the girls took the outdoor stage to perform their adorable and well rehearsed dance routines. 

The girls were as cute as they could be and they felt like a million bucks. They had their first experience with stage make up and hair. They were all wearing jewels in their hair and matching glittering earrings as part of their dancing attire.

This grandma couldn't have been more proud of the girls for all of the practice they had put into learning the dances and for their courage to go on stage. I was also very proud of all those who attended to show their love and support to their granddaughters, nieces, and cousins!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Grandma Shelley's Road Trip to Vegas


I know this is a bit off of topic for my blog but I wanted to share in another great thing about being a grandma with a newly retired Papa! Last minute invite to go to Vegas. Sure, we have the time....

A recent road trip to Vegas was so much fun. My daughter invited my husband and I to go on a business trip with her. We were more than happy to accept. She offered free transportation in a company rental car and complimentary lodging for three nights in a very fine hotel. 

Each morning we dropped her off for a day of meetings at the Rio and my husband and I kept ourselves busy as tourists until it was time to pick her up. Some of the highlights of our trip included scoring half price show tickets, a breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet, and touring the beautiful hotels and casinos. 

Our last night was so much fun. We picked up our daughter after her meetings and we headed for the dinner buffet. We chose the buffet at the Paris Hotel since it had been voted the best in Vegas for the last 3 years. We were not disappointed. It was a beautiful restaurant and the food was delicious and plentiful!  We then hit the streets on foot to walk off our dinner and we toured the nearby hotels, casinos, and shopping. We really enjoyed the F.A.O. Shwartz Toy Store. We lost track of our time in there looking at and playing with the toys. They had a piano keyboard on the floor like they had in that Tom Hanks movie. My husband and daughter showed off their piano and coordination skills as they played some pretty impressive tunes with their feet.

One thing we really noticed in Vegas was a lot of honking of cars. There were double decker buses honking at hotel shuttles, shuttles honking at taxi's, and taxi's honking at passenger cars! It was crazy. I have never been to New York but I have always imagined the streets of NY being like that. We lost track of how many times we had been honked at for no good reason. It seems they hit their horn each time they have to hit their brakes.

We enjoyed the excitement of the city, the good food, the entertainment, and the sites but most of  all we enjoyed the time we had with our daughter. (I guess I could somehow tie this in as a grandma story since she's the mom of three of my grandsons. ) We shared in some great conversations, we had many good laughs, and we created some lasting shared memories. We enjoyed seeing her in the role of businesswomen and in her excitement for learning new things. It was also very rewarding to see how she kept a constant pulse on what was going on at home with her sweet little family. It was very clear on where her priorities lie.

This was an opportunity for me to just be me, mom, and wife. There were no phone calls home to grandkids, no postcards home,  and no time spent shopping for them.  And somehow, I still had a really great time!

Road Trip to Vegas........A+    I have a very generous and thoughtful daughter!    Thank you.

Grandma Shelley Goes to Vegas

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Recycling our Christmas Trees

Our family has discovered a really fun way to recycle our Christmas trees. We use fresh cut Christmas trees in our homes.  At the first of the year we recycle the trees into an annual family event.  This family tradition is looked forward to every year.

This year we burned our trees one at a time rather than one huge bonfire. Each one burned very differently. The first one went up in a huge poof and burned really hot and fast. The flames probably went 30 feet up. The sight was a bit scary since that tree had been inside a home just a few days before.  The next tree to be thrown on the fire had stayed really fresh even after being taken out of water and laying in the sun for several days. It burned very slow and made a lot of smoke. Not so great for this event but a great feather in the cap for Home Depot Christmas trees.  My son had packaged his tree in a huge TV box for the event. The entire box was thrown on the fire.  It was an amazing sight as it burned though the cardboard igniting the dry tree within!

The grandkids love this event each year and the adults keep a very watchful eye over them to ensure that everyone stays safe. Donuts and hot chocolate were enjoyed by everyone at the end of this very fun family tradition.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas Tree Bon Fire 2009 Scheduled for Tonight

Another family tradition is on the schedule for tonight. We all plan to gather tonight for our annual Christmas tree bonfire. The grandkids have all been very anxious to have it and they have been reminding the adults to make the plan.

So, tonight it is. We all bring our dry Christmas trees, a lighter, our lawn chairs, and probably a few pallets to make the fire last a bit longer. To turn it into a party refreshments of donuts and hot chocolate with marshmallows will be served!

I will be sure to post some pictures soon.

Planning Ahead for Grandkids Christmas Day Camp 2009

I have been checking out many of the after Christmas sales for anything that inspires a craft, a project, or an activity for next years all day Grandkids Christmas Day Camp. I have come across some great things at some really fair prices. When I find great buys that inspire a craft I have to be able to get ten of whatever so that each child gets one and I have one to make up the sample project ahead of time.

I am really excited about some of my finds knowing the excitement they will generate among my little day camp guests next year. I can't post my finds because I have grandchildren that read my blog and the Christmas day camp projects are always kept as a big surprise for them.

I have started filling in the slots in next years schedule so that I can keep a watchful eye out for items needed to complete the projects throughout the year. When I pick up the needed items throughout the year they go into my Christmas Day Camp Trunk and become Grandma Treasures to be kept safe until I pull them out to create more cherished Christmas memories with my grandchildren!

Each year it gets a bit easier to fill the twelve hour  schedule when I discover activities that really work well. Those things become Christmas Day Camp Traditions that will stay on the schedule for as long as the kids continue to enjoy them. This year we added the Christmas Candy Walk which will be a keeper on next years schedule.  The Candy Walk is an outdoor activity because Arizona weather allows that in December. It is the same concept as a cake walk. I have a past posting on the details of the Candy Walk if you are interested in how it works. My star cupcake activity will also be tweaked next year since I found some adorable Christmas cupcake designs that I know the kids will love creating!

As you can see this Christmas tradition that I have with my grandchildren is something I love to do as a grandma. I find joy in the preparations for the next one all year long!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Big News in the New Year

Things have really changed on the home front in the first week of 2009. I have been a stay at home wife and mother for the last 33 years. My husband was recently offered early retirement from the U.S. Postal Service at the age of Fifty-Four. He took the offer and then requested an even earlier retirement date.  His even earlier request was quickly approved and with just a couple of days notice he was officially retired on January 2, 2009.

It is taking a bit of effort to realize our new reality and freedom. He has to keep reminding himself that he doesn't have work in the morning, an early bedtime, or a morning alarm to set. We have enjoyed every second so far. I have to tell you that I am not going to miss the washing and ironing of his postal uniforms, a task that I have been doing for over 30 years as a stay at home wife.

In our first week of retirement we enjoyed a snow outing with some of our kids and grandchildren. We went to dinner with some very old and good friends. We have gone to dinner and to the movies a couple of times and now we are tagging along with our daughter on a business trip to Las Vegas early next week. Much of which would not have been possible with him still working full time.

It is very nice to see my hard working husband relaxing and enjoying the time off and the benefits he has earned from his very  long and devoted postal career.  He retired with a year of unused sick leave, and a work ethic that has been an excellent example for our children and grandchildren.

Today I had a few of  my  grandkids over for a few hours. Something I can do as a stay at home grandma. They were thrilled to find their Papa here too.  It was a really good thing to see their Papa relaxing and enjoying them during the middle of the day!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Holiday Greetings 2008

Here is a collage of family photos that my grown children sent out for Christmas 2008. The photo's show my daughter, her husband, and their three handsome sons. My son, his wife, and their two adorable boys. My three beautiful granddaughters and their very sweet baby brother are pictured without their parents this year. 

Yes, that's right. I'm a very proud grandma of nine!

Little Things That Warm the Heart

My oldest granddaughter is eight years old. I am always so amazed at her ability and willingness to see what needs to be done and to follow through until the task is completed.  She is a big help to her family. I noticed her unpacking and setting up the bedroom for her and her sisters when we arrived. All weekend she was keeping things tidy, helping with the baby, entertaining her younger sisters, helping in the kitchen and at mealtimes, and packing up herself and her sisters when it was time to go.

On this night It was my turn to prepare dinner while on our snow outing. I was in the midst of cooking dinner when they all returned from a few hours of outdoor play. When she came in from sledding she quickly changed her clothes and pitched right in without being asked and set the dinner table. When I turned around and saw what she had done it truly warmed my heart. Not only was she being helpful but the little extra flair that she added with the napkins was a little thing to do but it touched my heart in a huge way.  This little thing was a symbol to me of the importance of my example to the little eyes and ears that watch and hear, then follow.

Papa Time

My youngest grandson was thrilled to have some one on one time with his Papa at the cabin in Greer, Arizona. He too had his turn outdoors all bundled up in his snow clothes and boots. If the little guy wasn't out with the family in the snow he spent much of his time at the low french door windows of the warm and toasty cabin taking it all in from indoors and doing his best to get out any open door.

The girls were anxious to build a snowman with their Papa. One of the girls hollered up to me to please bring them a carrot for the nose and some raisins for the eyes!  I thought the request was adorable. I sent down a carrot and two Oreo cookies for the eyes. They loaned the snowman one of their hats and scarf to complete their project.

What a lucky Papa to have created and shared in these special moments of Papa Time.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Perfect Snow Outing 2009

I just returned from a three day snow outing to Greer, Arizona with four of my grandchildren and their parents. My son in law treated us all to a very nice stay in two luxury cabins with very beautiful natural surroundings of snow topped roofs, trees,  and mountains.

We enjoyed hours of sledding, playing in the snow, sitting by the fireplace to warm up,  hot hearty meals, cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows, nighttime dips in the outdoor hot tub, and many hours of precious time spent with my grandchildren.  

It was so much fun to share their first time ever to the snow with them. We all had a wonderful time and we did not want it to end. Each night at bedtime I spent some time with the girls in their bedroom until they fell asleep while their mommy and daddy got their baby brother to sleep.

Wonderful memories were made as we snuggled and talked about our day together and our plans for the next day. It was indeed a perfect snow outing, and a very treasured memory was created for this grandma!