Saturday, September 24, 2011

Camp G & G 2011 Drama Camp

The grandkids are growing up.  All except Abby are preteens or teens. She is eight, but manages to keep pace with her cousins.  Perhaps, I thought, it's time to quit having Camp G & G.  I couldn't think of anything that might interest them, but when I hinted at shelving the Camp, I was meant with several loud NOs!  They promised to help grandma think of something and began to brainstorm. 

I was brainstorming, too.  I had been noticing them at the dining table and also while playing boardgames.  There was one thing they all enjoyed doing, that was trying on accents--English, Southern, whatever came to mind--as they bantered back and forth.  I also knew they loved acting.  That was it!  When I suggested having a drama camp, they were thrilled!  Thus, that's how the drama camp came to be. 

I originally thought we could write a play together, or perhaps I could buy one online.  "Yikes!" was all I could say when I priced online plays.  Oops, there wasn't time to write one together, they were coming in a two-and-a-half weeks.  There was nothing else to do except for Grandma to write one. I decided it must be a mystery.  While the plot was old and has been done many times in books and movies, this play was written to fit my cast and was a "Grandma Origional," entitled The Mysterious Sounds at HighTop Hideaway.  The list of characters and a brief synopsis are below:

SETTING: Hightop Hideaway is a luxurious resort set in the Smokey Mountains (East Tennessee/N.Carolina) where the rich and famous come to get away from the paparazzi, fans, and the demands of life.
CHARACTERS:
Higgins, the Butler—James
Hilda, the Maid—Lainie
Bailey Balinee—A former Miss Tennessee who can’t get past it—Sarah
Henry Wright—A famous British Novelist who now lives in the USA—James
Della Davis—A famous fashion designer—Hannah
Pippin—A rising young starlet—Abby
Mrs. Vanderbilt—the owner—Lainie
Narrator: Thomas

(As you can see, some of the kids did two roles, but it worked.  I managed to write it so both of their characters weren't on stage at the same time.  I must admit, we did have some quick changes)

SCENE 1, ACT 1:
NARRATOR: It is the Springtime of 2011, on a Sunday morning, and the guests are enjoying their breakfast at the Hightop HideAway in the luxurious resort located in the Smokey Mountains, Tennessee. Mrs. Vanderbilt has just left to run some errands in a nearby village. The guests have arrived the night before. They are being served by Hilda and Higgins, who have been with Mrs. Vanderbilt, the owner since she opened the resort twenty years ago. If they look a bit tired, they are. The place is huge, three stories and an attic, plus a basement.

I might add a bit of history here. Mrs. Vanderbilt is a cousin to the New York Vanderbilts and descendent of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the patriarch who built America’s railroads. One of their summer cottages was the Biltmore Estates. Perhaps you have visited there while in Tennessee, it’s just over the mountain in North Carolina. Now, let’s looking in on the guests.

There, you get the general picture.  The kids were really "into it."  Our stage was G & G's dining room.  I even worked an opportunity for them to performance since they are all musical and the talent is abundant.  Of course they wanted to be assured they would have an audience, so we decided to host a premiere night, red carpet and all.  We invited moms & dads, cousins, and all grandparents.  I had to cut the guest list off there for our seating capacity was very limited (kitchen).  If you decide to do a drama camp, then you might stage yours anywhere that lends itself to staging and seating.  Make it fit your house.

Our camp was only to be four days long (it was hard to work out a time when all the grandkids could be together for we had to work around family vacations, but we figured it out).  I mailed their scripts to them, along with their personal invitation,  about a week before so they could begin to learn their parts.  It wasn't crucial that they have them memorized, but they wanted to.  They did work on them, working out their costuming by themselves and had them in tow when they arrived. They also decided on what performance they would give and practiced that too.

Most of the play had the characters seated at the dining room table, so staging was easy.  We hung a couple of curtains in the hallway and doorway, and we were in business.  My high school grandson, Tommy and his girlfriend, Ann, were my staff.  They helped direct activities and the play.  They were truly a blessing!

During the mornings, we would run through the play, then the afternoons were spent doing other activities.  One afternoon we went to the County Fair and another was spent at the swimming pool.  Then, there was the afternoon we tie-dyed shirts and had a water balloon fight.  Finally, we painted face masks.  We even worked in a picture taking session.


The night of the premiere arrived.  We had programs for our guests and all kinds of hor dourves.  The kids had their stars placed on the red carpet and even received an Oscar for their performances.  I'm thinking, it was the best camp ever! They're clamoring to do something similar next year.  I've got an idea. . . I'd better get to work on it.  Summer theater is fun, fun,fun!!! 



 













Friday, May 13, 2011

A TRUE PICTURE OF A CAMP G. & G.

I want you to have a true picture of what a Camp G. & G is like, so I thought I would share a letter I wrote to our oldest granddaughter one year when she was on a mission trip and couldn’t be with us.

Dear Carol,

We had one of the best weeks ever at Camp G. & G, but I missed you terribly. I hope you can be with us next year.

The families arrived on Tuesday night. Wednesday we went to the park, painted camp shirts, and swam. Thursday was a big day for we went on a field trip to Circle S Ranch near Greensburg. Everyone went except Karen, who had worked until 4 a.m. the night before. They took us around in an umbrella-wagon cart. They had exotic animals from many countries. The Polish hens were neat. Sarah asked, "Why are those chickens wearing those fancy hats?" They had white swans, black swans, deer from Austria, fish from China, ostriches, all kinds of unusual birds. The children got to feed them all. They showed them how to do it correctly.

I must tell you about the buffaloes--it had rained the night before and there were puddles in their pen. One of the buffalo took off at a romp and splashed James, Lainie, and me from head to toe! The tour guide said, "Welcome to the farm!" and handed me his bandana handkerchief. I wiped us all off.

James said, "I'm never coming back here again!" But he soon forgot his distress.  At the end, they gave all of us juice and animal crackers, plus a coloring book about the animals. There wasn't any charge, just a free will donation.

When we got home that afternoon, the children took naps, then swam in the beanpot pool. Justin came out with them, but kept saying they had to go in and get dressed for supper. He knew I had been cooking. I said, no, they could swim as long as they wanted. Earlier, John and the girls had gone to see Arabian horses at a friend’s farm. I had put a ham in the oven and made macaroni and cheese. I had asked Ellie and Leah to make a dessert, which they happily set about doing.

When Grandpa returned, he said I know you’ve started cooking, but Sue (at the downtown restaurant--this town is just one big happy family) found out Leah and Justin are both here. She wants to do something for their wedding. She wants us all to come up there for sandwiches. I said okay, that we would eat my food the next day. Sue is Korean and has taking Leah to heart because she is Asian-American too.

I had showered and curled my hair after the buffalo incident, but Grandma Colsher suggested I put on make-up. I asked if I didn't look okay without it, and she had replied that I looked better with it. The little girls put on the dresses I had made, and the boys wore their shirts too.  I just didn't get a picture of them wearing them. I was wearing shorts, but John suggested I dress up a little more. When I questioned why, he said, "Oh, you know Sue when she's having a party!" I did change into a slacks outfit.

Well, we all headed for the restaurant. When we passed by, it looked full. I said to Karen, I bet Sue asked the lunch bunch (the group that generally eats in the restaurant each day). When our entourage walked in, everyone began singing happy birthday to me!!! Grandpa had invited family and friends to an early celebration of my 60th birthday! I was so surprised. We had a super time and the food was delicious! I was TOTALLY surprised!!! I really believed that it was for Leah and Justin. Now everything everyone had said and done made sense--from Justin trying to get the kids out of the pool, to Grandma C. saying I needed make-up, and Grandpa trying to get me to dress-up.

Friday, we learned to dance the hula. I had to get out our Hawaiian pictures so Tommy could see that men dance the hula too. The pictures I had were of tribal chiefs with capes, bare torsos and grass skirts. He and James went and got the two capes (one red and the other black) that I'd bought long ago at the local variety store. Then they participated. Even Grandma Colsher got in the act and wore a hula skirt. We had a lot of fun and they all looked so cute. Grandpa videotaped it--and it's precious. We’ll be sure and show it to you.

Everyone was really tired, so Grandma, James, Lainie, Hannah, and Sarah took a nap. Aunt Karen and Abby were napping too. Hannah always sneaks out (which is ok) as soon as the little ones are asleep. After all, she's 8. Grandma promised them money for the variety store if they went to sleep. James said, "Are we really getting money for the store?"

Sarah said, "Yes, and I think it's a lot!"


Gary, Justin, and Tommy had gone to play golf with his dad. Debbie and Grandma Colsher went to Walmart to finish up Hannah's birthday shopping. When I got up, Hannah was all alone, but happy, in the living room. I asked her why she was alone. She showed me a note that said Grandpa had been kidnapped and the ransom was two dozen cookies. Leah and Ellie took Grandpa and went to see Spiderman II. They said they had to wake him up all during the movie because he was snoring.

All returned. The youngest and Grandma swam in the backyard, while Debbie fixed supper (pigs in a blanket--crescent rolls) and we made S'mores. After supper the little ones played soccer in the backyard and caught lightening bugs. Abby loves being outside and has had a ball at Camp G. & G.  James said he was glad Abby was born because she is so cute. She is hilarious and has fit right in. The way she loves shoes, we can tell she's going to work in a shoe store when she grows up. But I think she will be a shoe designer, or else marry a rich man and own a million pairs. James also told me I was as cuddly as an old dog, which is a compliment coming from a little boy. He wants to move closer and have Camp G. & G. every Wednesday, but he says they'd have to buy a farm. I asked him how they would get here every week and he told me they'd just ride their horse.
The older ones--Justin, Leah, Ellie, and Bryan Mc. took Grandpa and went to another movie in Greensburg. Grandma was invited, but too tired.

Tomorrow, we are swimming in the a.m., then having Hannah's birthday party. We're having pizza and strombolis from Pizzalicious. Debbie has made a Barbie doll cake for Hannah. After the party--the serious shoppers are off to the variety store!

On our last night together as a family, we got on a nostalgia kick and were going through the cedar chest and searching for old mementoes of the kids' childhood. The kids were exhausted and no one went to bed until 1 p.m. I will have lots of pictures to show you when you get home.

Write when you can. Your mom says you are having a good time and doing well. You’re in our thoughts and prayers.

Love you, Grandma, and Grandpa too!





Monday, May 9, 2011

A Western Theme and a Cooking Camp

CAMPING with A WESTERN THEME
We've covered a camp with a Patriotic Theme, but today let's consider a Western Theme.  As I mentioned yesterday, the first step is to plan ahead, then order supplies, or look for them on a sales table. Next,  it's time to send out your invitations.  If you
are going to go with a western theme, cowboy hats and bandanas are a must.  Along with western crafts, you'll want to watch some movies about horses, and even visit a local horse farm.

I ordered my shirts for this year locally for I got a good deal on them. I chose a beige with a rope lasso design and the caption was "Y'all come!" I ordered plenty so that Great-Grandma down to the littlest tyke could have them.  We did the usual outside activities such as the backyard swimming pool, and hikes, but the big finale of the week was a hot dog roast complete with a hayride.  Needless to say, everyone really enjoyed this gathering.

Another camp we did was a Kid'sCooking Party.
                                                                                                         
SAMPLE INVITATION
You are invited
to CAMP G & G 2008
Kid’s Cooking Party
Location: Grandma & Grandpa Teitsort’s
Rainbow Cottage
In Valley Nook
(bottom of the hill)
Date: July 30, August 1, 2, 3
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Parents are invited to attend our Sunday Luncheon



After discussing it with the grandkids, they decided they wanted to have a Cooking Party.  They had a lot of fun with this.  After doing my pre-planning, I sent out my invitation.  I was able to find the aprons and paints in a local craft department.  They had great fun decorating them.  I couldn't find the hats, or at least, not affordable ones.  Thus, I cut paper bands to fit their heads, then used tissue paper to make the bouffant part.  Of course we had to watch the movie, Ratatouille.

I guided the children in their selections of recipes.
We made everything from tacos to deserts.  I divided them into teams and they learned to work together.  We even had a cookie bake-off.  One of the highlights of the week was playing like they were doing their own show on a food network.  Of course, they had to sample as they worked.  In addition to the daily cooking lessons, they did the usual crafts, playing outside, swimming, and hikes.  On Sunday, the children showed off what they learned by preparing lunch for the adults.   I'll have to admit, this camp was more fun than I had anticipated.  They really took their jobs seriously.

Turn in for the next posts on some other themes.  I hope our ideas will spark some for you.  Happy Grandparenting!!!    


Saturday, May 7, 2011

PLANNING A CAMP G & G

                                                                        
Camp G &G (Camp Grandpa &Grandma) began for our family when our daughter's family moved several states away and our son lived an hour away.  I wanted the grandkids to know what it was like visiting grandma & grandpa's.  I wanted them to know their cousins, and I wanted to spend quality time with them.  Thus, Camp G & G became a yearly event that grandkids and adults looked forward to.

Through the years we've had many themes.  Over the next few weeks, I want to share some of the themes and activities we have done.  Hopefully, you'll be able to glean some of my ideas, and add some of your to make your Camp G & G truly yours.

Weeks before their scheduled arrival, I would send invitations going along with our theme.  I always made their camp week, the week Mom and Dad could get away. Then I would order supplies from a party supply catalog like Oriental Trading, keeping with our theme.  Dollar Tree is also a great place to find supplies. There are so many inexpensive items to choose fun.  We generally tried to have matching cups and plates for the kids to keep, plus we selected plenty of craft kits to keep the kids busy  Most years, we would paint shirts, but this particular year, I purchased them for it was close to the 4th of July and were available.  It's a perfect time for a patriotic theme when Camp G & G falls close to the 4th, then the entire family can enjoy "FIREWORKS!" together. 

When you're ordering your supplies, remember, camp just wouldn't be camp without some of these:  Bubbles, crafts, hikes/walks, picnics, S'mores, and a hot dog roast.

When the time drew near for their arrival, I would stock up on plenty of movies and books for their quiet time.  I always tried to balance out the day with craft projects, lunch, a hike, storytime, dinner, outside games, baths, and a movie to wind down before bedtime.  

Plans were set, supplies were in, and then a week of happiness!  True, I would be tired by week's end, but it was a good tired.  I always invited and encouraged the moms, great-grandma, and the older grandkids to be my assistants.  That's what it's all about family togetherness!

Be watching for my next post on a Western Hoedown theme. 


Friday, April 29, 2011

When Grandparenting Requires The Art of Blending

The paint palette may not be our forte, but we can become artists at grandparenting our blended families. All too often in this day and age, for numerous reasons, grandparents are called upon to blend their biological grandchildren along with new family additions. When that happens, do away with the tags of “step” and “blended.” Instead, if a conversation requires you to differentiate which grandchild (or whose child) you are talking about, refer to the new arrival in the family as my “bonus” grandchild. However, this conversation should never take place in front of the grandchildren. Never introduce your blended grandkids using tags such as bio, step, bonus, or any term that sets them apart. This isn’t necessary, and generally it’s just reluctance on our part to let go of the past and accept the present.

Sometimes, an actual adoption may take place in a blended family, but often that is not the case. We just blend the families, while they may retain different family surnames. But in the heart of a grandparent, the addition of bonus grandchildren needs to be accepted as an adoption. Christian grandparents, especially, should understand how it is that adoption takes place. When we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we were adopted into God’s family. When our son or daughter married their new spouse, they and their children became one family. God will bless us if we accept that fact, and He will multiply our love. God never shorts us on love; He just keeps giving us more.

One of the first ways to make the bonus grandchildren feel included is to set their photos about the house along with your bio grandkids. Here after, let the photos be referred to as “the grandkids.” Oh, and you don’t want to forget the young artist gallery on your refrigerator. Display “all” the grandchildren’s artwork. They’ll be proud and pleased that Grandma and Grandpa love them enough to brag on their work.

If you have long distance grandchildren and often mail care packages of love, be sure to include the entire blended family of grandkids names on the mailing label. Ask to chat with your bonus grandkids on the phone just like you do your natural born grandchildren. Listen and learn quickly what they are interested in, then draw them out by talking about these topics. If you live close, attend their school and extra-curricular activities just as often as you do your natural born grandchildren.

Be organized whether living near or far. Get a calendar and write down their birthdays and the important events in their lives.

Grandkids are into fairness, so are the parents. Keep this fact in mind when you are inviting the grandchildren for an overnighter or extended visit. The family notices and is hurt when a grandparent only invites their natural born grandchildren. If the family is too large for you to take all the grandkids at one time, you might try inviting one bio and one bonus grandchild to visit together. Grandma and Grandpa’s house needs to be the one place that all feel welcome. Remember the times in your life when you didn’t feel included. Remember the pain of feeling rejected, and never heap this kind of pain upon a child. No doubt, blended grandchildren have already experienced some pain, loss, and rejection—don’t add to it. They are children, and God will not honor our leaving them out.

Gift giving is another touchy area that you don’t want to fudge on. Plan to spend the same amount on gifts for your blended grandkids. Since older grandkids’ clothes and gifts cost more than wee tots, you don’t have to get fanatical down to the penny.

Draw the family close by being a flexible, not demanding, grandparent. Be willing to flex and change celebration times to accommodate family visitation schedules.Be opening to including a new holiday dish or tradition that is a favorite of your bonus grandchildren.

But the most important thing you can do for your blended grandchildren is balance your time and attention. Share your life and share your love. Maxine Marsolini in her book, Blended Families: Handle With Care (Moody Press) says it well, “Blending doesn’t just happen; we purposely journey into it.” That includes the grandparents, too.

Plan to enjoy your double portion of grandparenting, blending them together in the perfect family portrait. You’ll be doubly blessed!


Check out my Long Distance Grandma: Staying Connected Across The Miles (Simon & Schuster).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grandparenting--Near or Far

Today, I'm going to be talking about being a Long Distance Grandma and also being a Nearby Grandma. Most of us find that we are in both positions, and I want to share some ideas from my book, Long Distance Grandma: staying connected across the miles (Simon & Schuster). While the book was written with the LDG in mind, many of the ideas lend themselves for those who are nearby too. NOTE: You may buy a copy at any online bookstore, Simon and Schuster website, or from me.

The spring rains have arrived and the world is greening up before our eyes. Spring has arrived in Indiana. Soon, we'll have days filled mostly with sunshine, but for now there are puddles are everywhere. It is the perfect time to share weather conditions with the grandkids via skype, email, or cell phones. You can always talk about the weather. Maybe, you'll get even more creative and suggest they chart the weather for your area and theirs. You may even have a budding weather forecaster in your midst.

Since showers are insisting on sharing center stage with the sun and the wind, here are some ideas for care packages. Make those rainy days bright spots for mom and dad when the grandchildren are stuck indoors.

-Mail a box of brightly colored markers, crayons, coloring books, and sketch pads to your grandhildren.

-Create and send a box of craft supplies. Look around your house for odds and ends of craft materials: old necklaces or beads, Styrofoam plates, cotton balls, colorful craft chenille sticks, glue sticks, fabric and trim scraps, bits of yarn, toilet paper rolls, and other items.

Since the rain makes everything green up,
AND green makes me think of the Ireland,
AND thinking of Ireland makes me think
of the Irish Shamrock. . .

then this is the perfect teaching tool to weave some spiritual thoughts in your conversation. Use the shamrock to teach about the Triune God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Seeing the example of one shamrock, but three parts, helps them understand that God is three in one.

The rains also make it a perfect time for sharing books on Noah's Ark with the younger grandkids. Use the Bible to share the story with older kids. When you're sharing those storybooks, don't forget to mail or share some animal crackers with the younger grandkids.

You may want to purchase one of the many novelty items available on Noah's Ark and treat your younger grandkids. There are jewelry boxes, toy arks with animals, tea sets, key rings, and coloring books.

Then in closing,some of you may be planning spring or summer trips to visit your long distance family. I just have to share this funny.

A little boy told his kindergarten teacher that his Grandma was coming for a visit.

“Where does she live?” the teacher asked.

“Oh, she lives at the airport,” he replied. “Whenever
we want her, we just go and get her.”

Until the next post--Happy Grandparenting!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

“Grand” Ways for Kids to Connect with Grandparents

My husband and I beamed as we listened to our five-year-old granddaughter read her storybook to us. I know--we aren’t the only grandparents who have experienced such a proud moment. But our sharing was rather unique, for it was via a web-camera. That was a view years back, now there is Skype. Technology just keeps moving forward. I'll have to say, it's the next best thing to being there.

Phone calls are always appreciated, and younger children feel important to dial up their “Grands.” But to avoid playing phone tag, a grandchild and grandparent may want to set a specific time and day to connect. Grandkids learn early the importance of connecting with family and habits are set for life. If grandparents don’t have cell phones, or if they are on a budget, phone cards are affordable and thoughtful gifts for grandchildren to give. If the effort to connect isn't made in the beginning, it's doubtful that it will just start happening. We have to plan and we have to do.

The age of technology is upon us and if grandparents are onboard, encourage connecting by email or Instant Messenger. If the grandparents aren’t the techie type, remember snail mail (postal service) is always in style. Stock-up on fun postcards, and encourage the kids to write. Postcards are small and grandkids can manage to fill one by jotting down the happenings of the day.

An easy, but important thing for younger children to do is mail coloring sheets and drawings to grandpa and grandma. Grandparents will love posting them on the fridge and showing the latest art gallery to all their friends.

Parents can share their child’s daily life with grandparents by selecting pictures for a photo calendar. Pictures snapped at dance recitals, sports events, and special moments make great pictures for the month-by-month project. If a family has the technical resources, these calendars can easily be made at home, otherwise, have them printed at a photo store. Either way, it will be a treasure for the long distance grandparent. Doing this project year after year allows the grandparent at a distance to be a part of their grandchild’s life.

Moms and dads can further enhance the grandkid connection by sending current snapshots and photos of their children. Grandparents always want to show the latest photo of their grandchild. Talking picture frames add a zing to the gift when sending these photos. One year our daughter snapped a pix of her children and recorded them singing Happy Birthday to grandpa—how fun! Seasonal novelty frames are another clever way to give snapshots.

Opportunities for connecting across the miles are abundant—the web-cam, Skype, Internet, cell phones, snail mail, photo projects, and videos are some of the easiest and most endearing. Parents--make a grandparent proud, foster life-long habits of love—encourage your child to connect.

9 WAYS TO STAY “GRANDLY” CONNECTED
1. Skype or Web-Cameras
2. Phone—cell, camera, phone cards
3. Internet—email/Instant Messenger
4. Videotapes
5. Snail Mail Postcards (postal service)
6. Refrigerator Art
7. Photo Calendars
8. Photos—talking picture frames
9. Novelty Picture Frames

Monday, March 28, 2011

When Grandchildren Go Marching Off To WAR. . .

I never wanted a grandchild in the military, especially with the war in Iraq looming over us. I understand the need to protect our freedom, and why the war must be fought. But, please, not my grandchild! The thought of my precious grandbaby going through the ravages of war is almost more then I can bear. Then there are the fears we don’t talk about—what if they are severely wounded, their life changed forever, or what if they don’t come back?

But now two deployments later, I have some tips on how a grandparent can cope. After all, we don’t really have any say in their decision to join the military. We can add our two cents, but the choice is theirs. One day they were a toddler, putting their darling handprints on our windows and mirrors, and the next they’re marching off to war. Coping lies in trusting a sovereign God who is in control of all of creation. Coping lies in believing that God knows best. He has the perfect plan for all of our lives and nothing happens to us without His knowledge.

When we surrender our grandchild to God’s watchcare, then we can concentrate on supplying blessings of encouragement. We can become the legs, arms, and mouthpiece of Jesus in their lives. Here are some helpful tips for being a supportive military grandparent from day one.

BASIC TRAINING is different depending on which branch of the service they are in. But one thing remains true for all. They need lots of love and support in this early stage. Basic training is a time when they are pulled from the comforts of home and plunged into the reality of military life. Phone calls, packages, newspapers and magazines are prohibited during these weeks, but you can still be a part of your grandchild’s life.

--Pray daily for them to be strong physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Pray for God to give them safety and success.

--Honor and respect your grandchild for their decision to serve our country. Tell them often that you are proud of them.

--Start writing daily notes about what you are doing. But don’t mail one every day. Some branches of the service make their recruits do huge numbers of push-ups for each letter received. They’re trying to build muscle. Be kind to your grandchild by mailing about three days of chit-chat together. They’ll appreciate your letters, but be thankful you combined them.

--Always close your notes and letters with a word of encouragement and a Scripture. Cheer them on!


--Most branches of the service have websites for the family filled with pertinent information. They may even post a daily schedule of what their recruits are doing. It’s a comfort to have some idea of what is going on in your grandchild’s life.

--Do not break the “No send” rule and mail cookies or candies during basic training. Sometimes grandparents think they are above these rule and that no one will really care. But in most cases they will be confiscated and will result in the entire group being disciplined. Grandparents, you don’t want to be responsible for that.

--By all means, attend their graduation ceremony from basic. They’ve been through some rough weeks and deserve some recognition. Be proud of your military grandchild and give them the respect they deserve!

MONTHS IN TRAINING will follow basic. Join with the family in seeing them settled, and visit them if possible. Write to them, call them, and continue to pray daily for their safety and success. They will be learning the skills that will save their life in battle.

--Encourage them always.

--Mail them cookies. Be sure to send enough for them to share with their friends. Pack them between layers of paper towels to keep them from breaking.

--Encourage yourself by claiming Scripture for your family such as Psalm 103:17-18, Psalm 91, and Isaiah 43:1-3.

DEPLOYMENT looms on the horizon and soon they have departed. If your grandchild has been deployed to the battlefield, here are some things you can do to encourage them.

--Enlist everyone you know to pray for your grandchild and all the troops daily.

-Before deployment, check with your grandchild to see if they need additional supplies. Most of them do, and not all of it is supplied by the military. Many things have to be purchased from their personal income. Family and friends can shower them with needed items. Brigade Quartermaster at www.actiongear.com is a good place to check for items that will make their deployment a little more comfortable. NOTE: At this website, you can purchase a PSALM 91 (The protection prayer for soldiers) Camo Bandana for $3.99. What a wonderful item of encouragement to send to your military grandchild.

--Run address labels with your grandchild’s address and post on a church or work bulletin board. Most people will be happy to drop a card if the address is handy and available. Be sure to post a note stating that one US Postal Stamp is sufficient for all American military even if stationed overseas.

--Ask church youth leaders, scout leaders, or schoolteachers to have their groups write letters to those in the service.

--After deployment, find out specific needs of your grandchild’s unit. Sometimes it may be hygiene items, flea collars, or supplies for the Iraqi school children. Then, enlist the help of your church, friends, or co-workers to supply these needs. You bless them so they may bless others.

--A great gift for Christmas or a birthday is a talking photo album. Take snapshots of the family when you are all together, then insert the photo in the album. They can make a recording on the strip under the picture. This will be a welcome touch from home.

--Check the Internet for additional support and tips. Just type in “Family Military Websites” on your search engine. You will be amazed at how much support is out there. You’ll be encouraged to know that you are not alone.

Before you know it, your grandchild will return home. Whether they make a career of the service or return to civilian life, you can be certain that the discipline they received in the military will benefit their entire life. They will know and value freedom in a way that most of us can’t comprehend. Grandparent, salute your grandchild! Because of them, freedom rings!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Birth of The Cookie Grandma

The 4-H judge who awarded my chocolate cookies a Red Ribbon would never have believed that someday I would grow-up and become known as, “The Cookie Grandma. Of course, I was only a ten-year-old at the time of the 4-H judging, and since then I’ve learned the secret ingredient. In fact, my own children were the teachers, and I learned quickly. As the years have passed, my grandchildren have been known to manipulate and out-maneuver each other for a batch of my cookies, especially their favorite kind. I now reign as “The Cookie Grandma” and my key ingredient is spelled
L-O-V-E!

I’m not sure how traditions begin, but one gradually evolved for our family on Thursday night. During the years our children were in elementary school and hubby worked the second shift, it was just the kids and me. After early baths, the children would get in their pjs, then we’d watch our favorite TV show, the Waltons. Being a multi-tasked person, I’d also iron, and you guessed it—bake cookies. That was when I first started adding the key ingredient of love to my chocolate chip recipe—their favorite. Unlike the judge, the kids awarded the cookies a Grand-Champion Ribbon. Love always brings rave reviews!

They grew up, as children do, and reminisced about our Thursday night ritual. Now, they’ve blessed my husband and me with grandchildren who also like cookies. I became aware of a grandchild’s fondness for the sweet delicacy when I was baby-sitting with our first grandson, a bouncing baby boy whose smile could melt this grandma’s heart. I think he was nine-months-old at the time—some say six—but I don’t think so. I know he had some teeth. I broke apart an Oreo and gave him a tiny piece. Of course he loved it and rewarded me with an even bigger smile! Not so, his mother. Her response was anything but rewarding. I think it was something like “You gave a six-month-old chocolate? Mom, how could you?”

How could I? Well, that’s what grandmas do—give cookies, not necessarily chocolate, but cookies. If the Oreo was to chocolatey, then I’d just have to bake him some sugar cookies. Out came the recipe box and the cookie baking began!

The years passed swiftly and that little grandson grew to become a soldier who served two tours of duty in the Iraq war. It’s because of him that I officially bear the tag, “The Cookie Grandma.” During his first tour of duty I made cookies and mailed them every month. I always included extra for I thought maybe his buddies would appreciate a few, too. He told me from time to time, when we talked on the phone, that they liked them.

But it wasn’t until we went to our grandson’s welcome home ceremony that I found out how much. He introduced me to some of the guys as the “grandma who made the cookies.” I received many grateful comments. I could see that they had truly appreciated me doing what I do. In the midst of a huge crowd of families and soldiers, more and more of his buddies came up and inquired of my grandson, “Is this the cookie grandma?” and the tag stuck.

I proudly wear the tag. It was during those long months my grandson has been gone that the cookies gave me comfort. Whenever I thought of him in that seemingly forsaken place, surrounded by enemies and the horrors of war, I would picture him receiving the cookies and feeling connected to home. I prayed for him daily and did the only thing I could do—bake his favorite cookies.

When he began his second tour of duty in Iraq, I pulled out the cookie sheets and went to work. Monthly, I mailed about eighteen dozen cookies, always wanting to be sure his buddies were able to share the treat. Repeatedly, they would pass on their appreciation through my grandson phone calls. It gave me great joy to know that in their long, long tours of duty, I was adding just a little happiness from home. What a thrill it was to bake his next batch of cookies when we were preparing to welcome him home. This batch would be delivered and eaten on American soil.