Friday, September 5, 2014

Grandchild of the Month!

I saw this idea on Facebook & didn't want to forget it!  I need to implement something like this...

Elder Dallin H Oaks, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, says he does this for his grandchildren - great idea to help develop those long distance relationships!


"Here I am enjoying the picture of our youngest grandchild, 7-year-old Matthew, who lives hundreds of miles away from me. He is the “grandchild of the month.” 

For many years I have chosen a “grandchild of the month,” putting his or her picture in a special frame in my office to be seen by all who come there. I also write them a letter, telling them how much I miss them and love them, and sometimes adding a few words of counsel. I do this until my grandchildren graduate from high school.

Kristen and I consider our 29 grandchildren to be special gifts from our Heavenly Father. Even though we can’t see them as much as we wish, we do all we can to stay close to each one. We have a family relationship that will last forever."

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Holiday Pillow Cases

I am a holiday junky!  I love everything about holidays & celebrations!  It makes me happy.  When my kids were little, I tried to make all the holidays special.  I enjoyed decorating the kitchen table for breakfast so the kids would wake up to something fun for each holiday & instead of just Santa Claus leaving a surprise - Cupid came for Valentine's Day, the Leprechaun came for St Paddy's Day, the Easter Bunny came for Easter, Uncle Sam came for the 4th of July, the Great Pumpkin came for Halloween, & T.H.E. Turkey came for Thanksgiving.  They never left anything big, usually some little toy, a pencil, candy, etc.  I tried to find any excuse to celebrate & make things fun for the kids.  

As our grandchildren came along, I wanted to continue celebrating with them so I've tried to send a little something for each of the holidays.  Of course, as our numbers have increased, I have had to be more creative.  Since I love books, I usually send a holiday book to help each family build their library of children's books.  

One year, I decided to make each grandchild a holiday pillowcase to include in their holiday package.  Nothing fancy, just a yard of fabric sewn into a simple pillowcase - but I tried to use fun prints & make them so that every child in each family had a different fabric.  Many of them use them during the month of each holiday to help them get excited about the upcoming holiday.  As each new grandchild comes along, I send a whole years worth of pillow cases for their 1st birthday - that's the easiest way for me to keep track.



Polar Express Party

Shortly after the Polar Express came out on video, I invited our local grandchildren over for a Polar Express Party...




I passed out tickets when they got there & told them not to loose them!


Then all of a sudden the door bell rang & there stood The Conductor!


He collected their tickets & boarded them onto our Polar Express...



We took the seats out so there was plenty of room & they drove around & sang Christmas songs...





When they returned safely, we watched the movie & had donuts & hot chocolate.  I sent them all home with a bell ornament with their name on it...


The following year, we had more cousins join the fun...


It was a lot of fun & although we haven't done one in awhile, our oldest granddaughter (who is 15) asks when we are going to do another one - it's one of her favorite childhood memories.

Mad Tea Party

Kids like tea parties - boys & girls alike!  They also like dressing up!

Last summer I had a handful of g'kids playing while their mommies went shopping.  So I got out our old Halloween Costumes & asked the older ones to help the younger ones pick out a costume & we'd have a fashion show.  That kept them all busy while I made lunch...




Our fashion show finale...


They were pretty excited to attend a "fancy" tea party lunch in their dress ups...sandwiches cut up into fun shapes, fruit & veggies with dip served on fancy platters, using G'ma's real dishes instead of paper plates & they thought this was terrific!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Quilts

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to make a quilt for each of our grandchildren - not a full blown quilt that fits on your bed, but a personal sized quilt to cuddle up in while they watch TV or read a book.

In our church,  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, children can choose to be baptized & confirmed a member when they turn 8.  I attended a baptism once where the child's grandmother had made her a quilt & she compared the quilt to the Holy Ghost.  The spirit will protect you & comfort you & remind you that you are loved.  The quilt will protect you from the cold, keep you comfortable & help you feel safe, & when you remember that it was made with love, you will know how special you are to me.  Not all of our grandchildren are members, but the idea inspired me & we have had fun with it.

This May (2016), we will have 33 grandchildren!  So far I have completed 16 of these quilts & have started 4 more.  I feel confident that I can keep it going.  I try to make each quilt show their interests or use their favorite colors.  Some of the local grankids like to go with me to pick out the fabric so we make it a G'ma & me date.  Those that live farther away I will ask them over the phone what their favorite things are or if they have a favorite color.  Some have opinions while others don't, but they all seem to like having this special gift.

Here is a parade of quilts (so far)...

2008 - Adia was into horses at the time & really liked brown & blue - she even helped me tie her own quilt...



Our daughter, Rochelle, has four boys who are very athletic & play every sport there is, so it was easy to talk them into a sports themed blanket.  2009 - I asked Trevor what his favorite sport was & he told me football & that his favorite team was the Indianapolis Colts.  2010 - Ethan's favorite was football, too, & his favorite team was the 49ers...by the time Cade turned 8 (2012), he wanted a "football blanket" too & he chose the Packers.  Carson is already asking when he gets his "football blanket"...coming in 2016 - he's already chosen a 49ers print.



2010 - Luke likes basketball...so I chose the following teams; the Lakers because he lives near LA, the Kings because we live near Sacramento, the Warriors because his Deceuster grandparents live in the Bay Area, & the Jazz because G'ma Judy lives in Utah.


2011 - Avery wanted a soccer & piano quilt.  That presented a fun challenge, but we managed to find some fun fabric & she chose to frame them in bright colors.  Her Great Grandma helped me tie this one weekend when they were visiting...



2012 - Kenyon chose some interesting prints...he had some definite ideas about what fabrics he liked & didn't like.  I was worried when he chose 7 different fabrics, but I was quite pleased with how well the colors blended...


Cori's favorite color is turquoise.  I found this cute chevron pattern that was fun to do...it is one of my favorite patterns.



2013 - Alana's favorite colors are white & yellow but I was not able to find fabrics that I thought would work so I chose colors that I've seen her wear that I think look great on her.  It just so happened that they came to visit for a few days while I was making hers & she was thrilled to help.  She's going to be a great little seamstress!



2014 - Jake just wanted a black & white football blanket - nice & simple.  So I cut out the footballs & appliquéd them on a white block.  He was very happy with it...




Adison chose the same pattern that her sister Avery used, but Adison wanted it to be all different shades of pink!  It turned out adorable, perfectly reflects her cute little personality! She went with me to pick out the fabrics & the minute I showed her where the "fat quarters" were, she just started pulling what she liked & putting them in the cart.  Got to love a girl who knows what she wants!



When my daughter Jill was little, my mom & I made a little Dutch girl quilt for her & a super hero quilt for her brother, Ben.  When it came time to do her daughter Macy's quilt, she asked if I'd make a Dutch girl quilt for her, too.  I was thrilled! So I had her send me some of the girls old clothes & I actually used their clothes to create the Dutch girl's dresses.  I think it turned out super sweet & it adds to the sentimental value of it! I went ahead & made the same blocks for Penelope's quilt that I will finish in 2016.




Jill liked the super hero one, too, & asked if I'd make one for Roman's 3rd Bday in 2013...



2015 - I like that each quilt suits each child's personality.  It is also fun when they get a chance to help me work on them.  Many people have commented that I have taken on an ambitious project, but it is a labor of love for me - I truly enjoy making them & their smiles (like Jason's below) are totally worth it! He chose all the alligator fabric.


In 1977 I made a Mickey Mouse blanket when I was expecting Ben. Ben's nursery was decorated in Mickey Mouse characters & I made the quilt for his bed, but it hung on his wall for a long time, as shown in one of these old pics.  All of the kids wrapped up in it when they were little.  You can see Ben holding Cindi wrapped up in it & Ty is napping all wrapped up in it, too, & he's on top of the original super hero quilt my mom & I made Ben.


Sadly, the blanket accidentally got tossed while moving from Tennessee to California.  I was sick about it so I took these old photos & tried to recreate this little labor of love. I felt great nostalgia as my 1st baby was about to have his 1st baby & I enjoyed remembering my babies as I made the new quilt. The original quilt had hand embroidered Mickey faces on each corner, but when I went to recreate them, it took forever to do just one so I went to plan B & just appliquéd the faces as well as the center full body...


It was fun to present the quilt, along with Ben's vintage Mickey Mouse stuffed toy from his nursery & his baby book at Ryan's baby shower in 2015...



"Our lives are like quilts - bits & pieces,  joy & sorrow, stitched with love."


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Christmas Memory Advent

My daughter, Jill, sent us a wonderful Christmas gift this year...a Christmas Memory Advent...


Incase you can't read her note: "Our gift to you this year is a 'Memory Advent.'  We hope that you open an envelope each day until Christmas and think about how much you are loved.  This way, we almost get to spend the holiday with you.  You are wonderful grandparents to our children.  We appreciate all that you do for our family.  Have a Merry Christmas!"

Each day as we opened the next envelope, we found a photo memory (or two or three) of us with each of the kids through the years.  It was a sweet gift & a great way to remember loved ones who live far away...


By the time Christmas arrived, we had remembered some really great moments & it created a great family display...


The very last envelope, #25, contained an updated 5X10 photo of their little family that I hang in our hallway with the other family portraits & a couple of gift cards to our favorite stores.



Such a thoughtful gift of time.  One of my favorites!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Modern Day Miracle!

Today’s technology is nothing less than a modern day miracle. Cellphones, email, webcams, blogs, & Facebook help us stay better connected these days with those we love who may live miles away or even across the globe.

As a grandmother with some out-of-state grandchildren, I wanted to find fun ways to “stay connected” with my little ones who are just a little too young to be “plugged in” right now. So I try to send fun things to them in the mail for any & all holidays. Yes, I’m talking about “snail mail” – remember the good old fashioned United States Postal Service?

It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, children LOVE to get mail - especially when they get old enough to start writing & reading. We typically send some kind of treat & a holiday book, I’m a fan of reading to children & new books spark an interest in reading. Before our older grandchildren could read on their own, G’pa & I would read the book on a cassette tape & ring a bell when it was time for them to turn the page. This helped them become familiar with the sound of our voices. Our oldest grandson would get so excited - when he got a new book he would open it up, recognize what it was, then insist that his mom immediately plug it into the tape player so he could read along to his new story. Not too many cassette players out there anymore.

One of my new favorite ways to stay connected is my “Grandma’s Story Swap.” My sister-in-law gave me this fabulous idea. It is just a simple spiral notebook that she shares with her granddaughter across the country. So I started this precious little project myself. I draw a picture & write a sentence or two about it, then send it to a grandchild who would then draw a picture & tell me about it. At first, their mom’s would write it for them, but as their writing skills developed they took over the writing on their own. The stories could be about things they like to do or they could make up a little story to tell. Here’s some early samples to give you the idea.







Well, one sad day I received this in the mail…



Why was this in plastic?




I found this letter inside the plastic…



Needless to say, I-Was-Sick-To-My-Stomach! The envelope was empty! The notebook did NOT make it safely back to me in the mail. As I considered the loss of such a precious project my heart sank…but then a thought occurred to me. They sent a Zip Code, 85626 – I know where to start looking. Perhaps there is a “lost mail” department in Arizona? If there was such a thing, this bright purple notebook would be easy enough to describe or perhaps even stand out from all the other lost mail! A calm began to sweep over me. It was worth a try…

Long story, short – the Consumer Affairs department connected me with a Costumer Service representative of the appropriate post office. She was very helpful & genuinely concerned for my lost treasure. She explained the process to me but tried not to get my hopes up. Evidently my notebook was not the first casualty as a result of those mail sorting machines. The unidentified mail is sent to a certain post office where they try to determine where to send or return these unfortunate pieces of mail by the descriptions people give them when they call looking for something. But they only do this once a month so she took my name, phone number & address & promised to call me whether they found it or not.

Well, several weeks later I got a call from that same sweet representative – miraculously, they found it! I was so happy! She seemed sincerely delighted to be able to return it to me & I was thrilled to have my treasure back. I have since stamped my name & address on the inside cover & back of every notebook. I even reinforce the envelopes with clear packing tape in an effort to avoid this mishap in the future! I am relieved to report that my desert darling in AZ & I have resumed our story swappin’. I will continue to connect with my grandchildren through snail mail…at least until they outgrow the idea of writing to their grandmother. Who knows, maybe they will “friend” me on Facebook someday? Hey, it could happen.

Miracles do happen! My faith in humanity has been strengthened…well, at least my faith in the United States Postal Service has increased knowing that there are nice people out there who truly care & take their jobs seriously. Thanks to my new BFF at the Arizona Customer Service department of the USPS & all you other nice people out there – the world is a nicer place with people like you.