Thursday, February 26, 2009

TEA PARTY MANNERS

Ever wonder how you can teach manners to your rambunctious preschool grandchildren without coming across like a disciplinarian? You can take a leaf from the program at the Escuela Preschool in Minot, North Dakota, where four- and five-year-olds invited their grandparents to a tea party.

At Escuela, the children’s teacher, Paula Simonson, put on a hat and let the children choose hats for themselves and for their grandparents. Then Ms. Simonson sat with the youngsters, teaching them how to hold a teacup correctly, how to nibble on a cookie, and how to talk politely with their grandparents. She even suggested conversational topics that the children could raise with the older generation, like the weather – or asking Grandma “how she’s feeling after her gallbladder operation.”

This is a great activity that any of us grands can do with our own little ones. In fact, two of the grannies whose stories I tell in SUPER GRANNY did something similar. Once a year Patti takes her six granddaughters to a teahouse that has a huge trunk full of fur boas and other dress-up items, “where they get a chance to use their good table manners.” And about once a week Carol hosts her grandsons at a festively set table (including animal-face paper plates) and has conversations ranging from favorite colors to the solar system.

I was so tickled recently to see, at the Dolphin Bookshop here in Port Washington, MANNERS CAN BE FUN, the Munro Leaf book about manners that I had when my daughters were small – and that I even remember from my own childhood. I think this is the one that taught me to cover my mouth when I yawned, by showing a huge open mouth. There are a lot of things I don’t remember – but this is one that I do. It made quite an impression – and I’m glad this childhood classic is still being published, sold, and teaching manners in a delightful way.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

REVISITING CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE

Nina, 9, and Anna, 16, came to visit this weekend -- and we made the chocolate cake in a mug. We benefited from the suggestions of other grannies -- to spray the inside of the mug before baking, to mix the ingredients in a separate bowl -- and to decrease the time of zapping in the microwave. We baked the cakes for 2 minutes each and also fooled around a little bit with the ingredients after Anna was horrified at one cake calling for 3 Tablespoons of oil. She cut it down, I think to 1 Tbsp, and both cakes, which we made separately, turned out fine. Each one was plenty for two people, especially with scoops of ice cream. The best part was peering through the microwave window and watching the cake rise suddenly and magically above the top of the mug. Thanks to all the grannies who did this before we did! Always good to stand on the shoulders of giants in the kitchen.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

100 Things I Have Done in My Life

I found this on Grandma Henke's blog, which she found on Alice’s blog, which she found on another blog. So it's gone viral. I loved ticking off the things I've done (especially running a marathon at age 60 & bungy jumping -- at 70+), and planning to do some of the others. Check it out!


1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant

Friday, February 13, 2009

FORGOT HER SCHOOL BOOK? NO PROBLEM

They say that when you forget something at someone's house, that means you want to go back again. So the good thing about grandchildren forgetting things when they come to visit means that you know they'll be back. The bad thing, though, is when they forget something important for school or after-school activities that they need the next day -- and they live too far away to come back for it. What do you do?

What we did, at my daughter Nancy's suggestion, when Nina forgot her piano lesson book, was this: I scanned the two pages she would need into my computer and then I emailed the pages as attachments to Nancy. She got it within minutes, Nina was able to practice, and I gained a new appreciation for the confluence of technology and grandparenting.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

MORE ON CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE FROM ONE GRANNY WHO MADE IT

A follow-up from Diane, a friend of the friend who originally sent this to me. (I'm still waiting for a grandchild visit so we can do it together.)

"This definitely works. And, the visual - through the microwave window - is outstanding and will astound any child (and adult!). [See the wonderful photo
she sent]

My microwave nuked it when it went for 3 minutes. I cut it back to 2:45 and next time will try 2:35.
I didn't add chocolate chips
I used a cocoa that had sugar in it.
There is always gunk in the bottom of the mug that is hard to get out.
I used a small dish to mix the egg and liquids - just made it easier for a 8 year old.
The end result is more science than gourmet cooking - the cake tastes like anything baked too long in a microwave. However, add a scoop of ice cream and it's quite yummy! Don't let it cool - it's hard."

Thanks, Diane!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

MAKING FIVE MINUTES COUNT!

I love it when I learn from younger generations. One of my new gurus is Lisa Zaslow, a professional organizer whom I have known since she was a little girl playing with my little girl. Lisa can see how busy her mom (my friend Fran, who is quoted in SUPER GRANNY) is -- between grandchildren, work, and play -- and so Lisa understands that today's grannies are not sitting around twiddling our thumbs until our grandchildren call or visit. We make the time for them -- and that means making the most of the time we have available. One way to do this is to be productive about the tiniest chunks of time.

One of Lisa's regular free e-bulletins emphasized the usefulness of thinking about our lives in 5-minute intervals. Recognize yourself when she says, "This is particularly useful for people with short attention spans and who like variety"? Here are some of her suggestions (and mine) for what you can do in 5 minutes:
* Make a to-do list.
* Pick the most important thing on today's list and spend 5 minutes moving it forward, by, say, making a phone call, sending an e-mail, creating a spreadsheet, or starting a file.
* Make a list of things you can do in 5 minutes.
* As the first item write "Make a list." Then you can cross that one off right away!
* Recharge your batteries by meditating, having a healthy snack, or doing a few jumping jacks.
* Throw out the pens and pencils that you hate, that you never use, and that don’t work.
* Delete a few old emails.
* Enter a new contact into your database or Rolodex.
* Water your plants.
* Send a joke to a grandchild.
* Or, as I just did, put a new post on your blog.
* Choose one tip. Set a timer for 5 minutes. See how much better you feel.
* Use this handy internet timer: http://www.vickiblackwell.com/timer.html

Lisa Zaslow is the founder of www.GothamOrganizers.com and is a nationally recognized expert and speaker on organization and productivity. Lisa helps individuals and businesses to be more productive, more organized and less stressed. Her expertise is regularly featured on television on shows including HGTV’s Mission: Organization and in publications including The New York Times, Real Simple, and Entrepreneur. Lisa is the author of “Can’t I Just Shred It All? 101 Quick Tips to File – and Find – Your Important Papers”, available at www.101FilingTips.com. Contact Lisa at (212)866-9493 or info@GothamOrganizers.com