Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Another Gift of Nature

I heard on the TV today that research has shown that time spent in nature is good for your brain. Those who spent time in nature or looked at nature pictures for one hour before testing scored 20 percent higher. Those who spent time outdoors on city streets showed no improvement.

The world that God created for us to live in is amazing. He thought of everything for us! So all of those camping trips, visits to the mountain cabin, the sites of waterfalls, streams, the ocean, and lakes, evening programs with the Park Rangers, the canyons, snow trips, watching for wildlife, and the family hikes they do more for our families than create wonderful memories, and good family fun. Who knew?

Bargains! My Favorite Thing to Find

I went to CVS to have my prescriptions filled yesterday. I chose CVS this time because I had two gift cards that I had received for free for filling previous prescriptions there months ago. While waiting for my prescriptions to be filled I browsed the store. I found a bunch of storage containers at DEEPLY reduced prices. I had been needing some so this was a great find. When I went to check out with my prescriptions the cost was completely covered with my free gift cards and the receipt included a $5 off coupon on any purchase in the store of $15 dollars or more for the next three days.

I went and loaded my cart with thirteen storage containers in a variety of sizes. The CVS shopping carts are very small and I was making a huge purchase so it was very awkward and quite a balancing act getting my purchase to the register. Most of the containers were valued at more that seven dollars each and I didn't pay more than a $1.50 each. On top of that, my total was just over the $15 dollar mark before tax so, I used the $5 off coupon I had just received. My total cost was just over $13 for 13 storage containers. A savings of $60.88!

If mood and happiness boost the immune system as research says then I received a much needed shot to my immune system with this find!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Loving from a Distance

So close, but so far away. That is how I have been feeling for the last ten days or so. I have been sick with bronchial problems and just today diagnosed with acute bronchitis . Not wanting to pass my germs on to others I have tried to stay a healthy distance away from others. There have been a few special family occasions within the last ten days that I did not want not miss. I allowed myself to attend taking extra care to not pass my germs along to others. This meant no close contact with my grandchildren. I don't even know how to describe what that has felt like but I will try.

I think I have realized the deep connection between the feelings of love and affection for my grandchildren and the use of physical touch of hugs and kisses to help express those feelings. While I have been sick, seeing my grandchildren and feeling the deep emotions of love and affection for them......and not be able to express it through touch. It somehow made my love for them even greater. There they were, so close, but so far away.

I know that once I am feeling better I will have a better appreciation for my health. I will also have a much better appreciation for the closeness I am able to enjoy with my nine grandchildren. I look forward to the unlimited supply of healthy hugs and squeezes that we all have in store for one another.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Camp Out Cake Walk of Sorts

The kids really enjoyed a game that I made up for one of the activities at the camp out. Last year we had had a unit on the animals of the Southwest. I first reviewed the pictures of the animals from the previous year. It created quite a conversation between us as they all shared the facts that they had remembered about the animals.

We then placed the pictures on the ground in a circle. I gave each child a paper sack for earned prizes. I asked the children not to step on the pictures but to walk in a circle around the pictures until the music stopped. When the music stopped each child had to name the animal that they were standing by. If they answered correctly they were rewarded with a prize from the prize bowl.

The same idea could be made a bit more difficult for older children by asking more challenging questions about the animals or the objects that you choose to use. We also made it more fun by having the children do different actions as they went around the circle or changing the direction of their march. For a few rounds we made certain animals wild, which doubled the prizes, and some animals that voided any prize at all. Everyone was great sports and they all enjoyed this very simple and fun learning activity.

Night Hike 2009

It is tradition that we go on a night hike at our Grandkid's Camp Out. I always change it up a bit each year. We all bundle up in our jackets and we put on our hiking shoes and socks before heading out. I always remind the children to stay together and what to do if a car is on the road.

This year I gave each child a glow necklace to wear. We headed out with just two flashlights this year that Papa and I had but we did not use unless needed. Papa had activated several glow sticks and placed them along the dark streets in our rural neighborhood. We hiked in the darkness under the stars looking for the glowing sticks along the way.

It created a lot of excitement when they spotted the glow in the distance. They really enjoyed the hunt and the thrill of being on a hike at night! Walking back home was quite the light show with seven energetic campers and fourteen fists of glow sticks!

Camp Out Search and Rescue Activity

I added a new activity to this year's camp out. It was such a hit with the kids that it just might become a new tradition. Every year I try to do a teaching unit. This year the topic was on emergency preparedness while camping. I talked to the children about how to be safe when you are in the outdoors. We then put together a survival necklace to wear around our necks. The necklace was a five in one survival necklace. It included a compass, flint, a mirror, whistle, and a waterproof space for matches. I did not want to give the children matches so we filled the small canister with several little things and we talked about what we could use them for. It created quite a discussion and they had some great ideas which I will share later.

To follow up on this activity we formed a search and rescue team. Six of the children and myself were the search and rescue team. We took turns having one of the campers leave the tent with Papa. They went to hide and we stayed quiet in the tent waiting and listening for the sound of their whistle. The whistle alerted us to a lost camper (the hiding child). We then discussed what the missing camper looked like and what they were wearing. We then headed out as a search and rescue team to find the lost camper. We had to work together to stay quiet, to listen for the whistle, and to search together as a united team. Each child took a turn being the lost camper with their Papa.

The kids absolutely loved this activity and they loved their new survival kits too. Later in the day three of my granddaughters were out shopping with their family. They were all still wearing their survival necklaces. One of the girls blew their whistle when the youngest one piped up and scolded her saying "Hey, are you lost?" I couldn't be more proud of my little camper!

Hungry Campers!

The camp out menu called for pancakes, ham, and milk. It sounds simple, doesn't it? I first asked how many of them wanted ham. Only one wanted ham. So, I browned up a small batch of ham in a skillet for the one child and Papa and I. I then mixed up the pancake batter. When the kids entered the kitchen they all seemed to be starving and definitely had minds and tastes of their own. There were orders for Mickey Mouse pancakes, some with chocolate chips some without, some with extra big ears, some with small ears, regular round pancakes, round pancakes with chocolate chips in the batter, round pancakes with chocolate chips added after they were cooked, pancakes with butter, pancakes without butter. It was a pancake frenzy.

As the pancakes came off the griddle the yellow trays had to be taken out of the dishwasher and hand washed so that they could use them again at their request. The Camp Out is all about the grandkids so we were as happy as we can be to add that simple element of fun and tradition to our breakfast.

Everyone wanted warmed maple syrup on the side in a dipping cup because that is just how you do it at "grandma's house". Once they saw and tasted the ham they all wanted it adn then wanted seconds so two more batches were browned in the skillet before everyone had had their fill.

It was fun, and exactly what the camp out is supposed to be. They were all hungry campers and they all ate a good and hearty breakfast.

As a follow up....My son said that when he asked his five year old son about what he had had for breakfast at the camp out he said pancakes and meat! My son asked what kind of meat? He described it as really good "orange squares of meat!"

Camp Out Free Time

While Papa and I were prepping the Camp Out breakfast the kids kept themselves busy with indoor coloring projects at the table. Our two oldest campers who are eight and nine helped keep the younger ones busy until it was time for them to come into the kitchen to put in their breakfast orders. It made Papa and I feel very good to have received many of the projects to place on our fridge with hand drawn hearts and hand written notes expressing their love for us. So, so sweet!

Firing up the Morning Campfire

It never fails! When the campers wake up to a chilly morning they like to fire up the campfire. It was extra funny this year. For one thing, as always it puts out no heat, and secondly, they were indoors. I guess, tradition is tradition and you know what? That's exactly what I am trying to create for my grandchildren!

Rained Out, No Problem

We had to move our traditional Camp Out campfire (all pretend using an electric flaming Halloween caldron) and s'mores indoors this year due to the threat of rain. The kids did not seem to mind at all. Our oldest camper who is nine entertained the rest of them with story after story around the campfire. They each enjoyed their s'mores that were roasted over my gas range in the kitchen.

This year instead of using chocolate bars in the s'mores we used a peanut butter cup. They were extra yummy!

Do it Yourself Camp Out Dinner

With close supervision we allowed the kids to roast their own hot dogs at the Grandkid's Camp Out. Some started out by saying that they hated hot dogs, which I did not know or remember. Their minds quickly changed when they found out that they got to roast them themselves!

They filled their trays (a favorite at grandma's house because they are just like at school.) with their roasted hot dogs on a bun, toppings of their choice, chips, applesauce, and a drink box.

Even Work Can Be Fun at Grandma's Camp Out

I added a very last minute activity to our recent Grandkid's Camp Out. We were planning on eating outdoors and I had not wiped down the outdoor tables ahead of time. So, thinking quickly, and I have to admit quite smartly, I filled a tub with warm sudsy water, got out seven rags and I called it an activity! All seven of the campers pitched right in and got the job done. Every square of the tables were scrubbed as was everything else in the area that had a surface. They did not quit there. Everything got a towel dry too!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Grandkid's Camp Out 2009

Our camper numbers grew by one this year, bringing us up to seven grandkid campers at our 2009 Camp Out. One more camper didn't seem to make much of a difference. It did however make a big difference to our new little camper. The little guy really loved being a part of the camp out this year and that added an extra element of joy for Papa and I too!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A United Effort

Putting our tent up this year at the Grandkid's Camp Out was a united effort. A rain storm was moving in and the wind gusts made the task extra challenging. It took every little camper to help their Papa and their daddy/uncle to get the tent up and staked down. Our littlest camper sitting on the rock above was watching the action from the sidelines while hanging on tightly to his sleeping bag snuggle toy!

I was very proud of all of my campers. They stayed focused and worked hard to reach their common goal of getting our Camp Out tent set up this year.

Sand Art Craft

The kids LOVED this project. All you need are some stencil pictures on heavy paper, colored sand, craft glue, and paint brushes. All of our pictures were of birds for this project. They painted small sections of the pictures with glue then sprinkled on the color of sand that they wanted for that section. They loved the magic of the colored sand sticking to their pictures.

Once the sand was sprinkled on the entire area of wet glue the children used their papers to funnel the extra sand back into the sand container. I had only planned on the children doing one picture each but they all did three or four because they enjoyed this project so much!

I didn't get pictures of the finished project but they turned out great!

TIP: I had eight different sand colors. I found the sand in the dollar section of Target stores and once again I purchased it at the end of the summer season for half off! It did not take much sand at all to do this project. I still have quite a supply of colored sand so if you have any craft ideas that use sand.....please share!

Canteen Beading Craft

I supplied each child with a plastic canteen with their name on it and the materials to add some custom, do-it-yourself beading.

I gave each child a small baggie of beads. I made each bag exactly the same and suggested that they trade beads among each other if they needed additional beads of a certain style or color. We tied vinyl threading to the canteen and the kids strung the beads any way they wanted. Papa and I helped to tie the knots on the end. They were all very pleased with their creations!

The canteens were then filled with water and used throughout the camp out for all drinks of water. A cooler of water was placed on the back patio for unlimited refills.

Tip: I picked up the canteens on clearance late last summer at Wal Mart. They normally sale for $1 each but I found them for just .25 cents each! Once again, anytime I find the number I need of one item for grandchildren crafts or activities my creative and frugal brain begins to think of how I can use them. Once I purchase items ahead of time I make a note of my purchase in my camp out file and store the items away in one of my modern day trunks which is a Rubbermaid tub in my garage labeled Grandkid's Camp Out!

Grandkid's Camp Out 2009

The trick to hosting a successful camp out for seven little campers is pre-planning and organization. Our Camp Outs always begin with an indoor gathering craft and a snack to hold them until dinner.

The table above is set and waiting for their arrival. A "Welcome Campers" sign has been posted on the front door. A printed schedule has been made to keep my little campers and myself on task until we say good-bye late tomorrow morning. All of the supplies needed for our activities have been gathered and are waiting out of sight until needed.

Soon the front entry will be filled with sleeping bags, pillows, backpacks, overnight bags, favorite stuffed animal sleeping partners, and seven really excited campers!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Treasured Cookie Jar

This cookie jar goes as far back as I can remember as a child. The original metal lid was painted yellow somewhere along the line. As you can see it has been well used even since the lid was painted many years ago. My mother was great at keeping fresh baked goodies for our family in the kitchen. She was a great cook and she made the best chocolate chip, peanut butter, and molasses oatmeal raisin cookies ever!

My mother never made a small batch of cookies. She would always double or triple the recipe so that everyone could have all they wanted. I loved coming home from school to the freshly baked cookies and cold glasses of milk.

The days of my 85 year old mother baking cookies for us has come to an end. It is something that generations of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren miss dearly. Baking cookies and other favorite family treats was a way that my mother expressed her love for our family.

While clearing my parents home of unneeded items recently I was lucky enough to get my mother's cookie jar to use in my own home. Today I took the time to carefully wash and shine it just like I would have done with any other valuable treasure.

Today I filled the cookie jar with my own batch of homemade cookies. It was a very sweet experience and one that I look forward to doing again for many years. It is and it will always be like having a piece of my mother in my kitchen with me. The cookie jar itself, and the sound of the lid being taken off and put back on triggered some wonderful memories. I thought of how much my mother loves our family and how much we love her. I wondered just how many hours of service she rendered to our family over 65 years by just filling this cookie jar for her family with batches and batches of cookies.

I am as happy as I can be to have my mother's cookie jar. There will NEVER be a time when I will bake cookies and fill the cookie jar for those that I love and not think of my mother, her love for me, my love for her, and her priceless example of mother and grandmother!

Too Cute, to Not Share

I recently took my granddaughters set of scriptures that I had given to her as a gift for her 8th birthday to a bookstore to have her full name printed on them. I took them on a Saturday and I told her that I would return them to her on Sunday at church.

Her middle name is Aileen. At church she came running up to me and asked if I had her scriptures. She quickly looked them over and was very pleased to see that her name was spelled correctly. She told me that she had been very worried that they would spell her middle name to read "Alien!"

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Grandkid's Camp Out 2009 Invite

I have posted many times about the past activities, traditions, crafts, and more that we have done over the years at the annual Grandkid's' Camp Out. I have some extra fun things planned this year but I can't post about them yet because I want them to be kept as a surprise. My grandkids have been known to read my blog! So, I will have to let you know what's new this year a bit later.

A Pair of Very Loved Hands

I would recognize these hands anywhere and one day I will yearn to see them doing what they love to do. These are the hands of my 85 year old mother. On a recent visit to my home I had a project for her to work on to keep her hands and mind busy doing something that she loves and knows well. Together we created the patterns for different sizes of work aprons to fit my nine grandchildren. I cut them all out and she took the drivers seat at the sewing machine. A seat that she would not give up. She spent hours and days at the machine. It triggered many fond memories for her from her decades of sewing for her family.

One memory went back at least sixty years when she spoke of making/sewing my two older brothers button up shirts for school. She taught me a lesson that day of just how long kind words can be remembered. She spoke of being introduced to another mother. The other mother was trying to connect my mother to her children. When the other mother connected her to my brothers she said; "Oh, you are the mother that makes those really nice button up shirts for your boys." My mother beamed with pride as she remembered those words some sixty years later.

The nine aprons my mother completed while she was here do not showcase the perfected sewing skills that she once had but, they are a perfect example of one of the ways that she has demonstrated her love for her family throughout her life. I will love seeing my grandchildren in the aprons that a pair of very loved hands created. I will be sure to take this as an opportunity to remind my grandchildren just how much their great grandma loves them!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Award Winning Dancers!

This was such a fun day to spend with our granddaughters and their parents. It was the girls first dance competition. It was great to see their confidence and their blossoming dance skills on stage. They looked adorable, they were great members of their dance teams, and they gave it their all!

They won many ribbons and trophies but most importantly they realized the rewards of their hard work and practice. The reward was not only the trophies and ribbons but also the confidence they had gained, the skills they are perfecting, and a sense of achievement for their individual efforts. Great job girls! Grandma is very proud of you.