Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

June 19, 2015 Edition The journey my dad took as a young boy from China to the United States amazes me every time I think about it. Consider his story of leaving his mother and walking barefoot to a neighboring village to catch a junk, of sailing down a pirate-infested river, of staying alone in Hong Kong while waiting to catch a steamer ship that would take him one step closer to his father, and of enduring the prison-like internment at Angel Island. I often wonder if I would have had the courage to do what he did. The experiences of leaving his mother and of the traumatic journey are forever etched in his soul. They influence him everyday of his life. They molded him into a determined, hard-working man of integrity and, more importantly, a loving husband, father, brother, and loyal friend. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

#1 – Sacrifices
I cried while watching this video, because I could relate to the sacrifices identified. They are similar, if not identical, to the ones my parents and my grandparents made in order for their children’s lives to be better than their own. We should remember and be grateful everyday for all the sacrifices made for us, and not just on Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Veteran’s Day, or Memorial Day.

#2 – Camping Out In Style
Amazing Camping Trailer Because my parents worked just about everyday of the week, camping didn’t fit into our family’s schedule. That’s not to say we didn’t own camping supplies or enjoy the great outdoors. If we had a camper like the one in When Their Trailer Transforms Into a House . . . , camping out might have been more of a priority!

#3 – Two Kinds of People
Clever Illustrations Reveal the Two Kinds of People There Are in the World I laughed when I viewed the article, Clever Illustrations Reveal the Two Kinds of People There Are in the World, because it reminded me of some of the differences between me and my husband. He sets multiple annoying alarms on his digital watch and he bends back pages in books to mark his place. I, on the other hand, rarely set an alarm (because his alarms wake me up), wear a traditional dial watch, and would never dream of defacing a book. What kind of person are you?

#4 – Ways to Repurpose Bottles!
23 Ways to Repurpose Plastic Bottles I grew up in my parents’ grocery store. Literally. My sister and I played hide and seek in the warehouse, scaling tall stacks of cardboard boxes. We also helped sort coupons and soda pop bottles, while our parents worked. Back in the day, soda pop bottles were made of glass. These days, as we all know, most are made of plastic, a substance with which the world has a love-hate relationship. In an effort to find ways to repurpose plastic bottles, here are 23 Insanely Creative Ways to Recycle Plastic Bottles Into DIY Projects.

#5 – Five for Fathers
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”
Jim Valvano

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
Clarence Budington Kelland

“I decided in my life that I would do nothing that did not reflect positively on my father’s life.”
Sidney Poitier

“In our house, Mother’s Day is every day. Father’s Day, too. In our house, parents count. They do important work and that work matters. One day just doesn’t cut for us.”
Margaret Heffernan

“Son, brother, father, lover, friend. There is room in the heart for all the affections, as there is room in heaven for all the stars.”
Victor Hugo

Happy Father’s Day to all the deserving fathers out there!

Now go and spread joy!

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May 22, 2015 EditionEven though she can’t walk yet, my granddaughter Charlotte loves to play fetch with me. You know the game – baby throws objects from the high chair and you fetch them. After bending over for the umpteenth time, I looked up to see Charlotte grinning at me with a bit of cracker stuck between her eyes. In that moment, as I watched her search her tray for the missing piece of cracker, I realized more than ever that I want to live to be a ripe old age. Then Charlotte and I can share as many silly moments together as possible.

#1 – If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again
Whether you’re raising young children now or have grown-up children, you might relate to the sentiment expressed in this poem by Diana Loomans: "If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again"

#2 – Child’s Play For Adults
33 Ways to Be Childlike Today Why should kids have all the fun? Read 33 Ways to Be Childlike Today and select a few things from the list to do. Reread one of your favorite childhood books, jump rope, be creative, sit cross-legged, or make a spontaneous playdate with friends. Sound like fun?

#3 – New Life For Toys
Upcycling Toys The author of 21 Ideas for Upcycling Kid’s Toys places the blame for massive toy accumulation on grandparents. Hardly a true statement, but toy accumulation can be a problem in many households. The article presents clever ways to transform toys into objects with new uses. If upcycling doesn’t appeal to you, check out Eco-Friendly Disposal of Kids’ Toys and Electronics for helpful suggestions.

#4 – Kids’ Play Around the Globe
30 Amazing Photos of Kids Playing Around the World The magic of child’s play is captured in the collection of 30 Amazing Photos of Kids Playing Around the Globe.

#5 – Connecting the Dots
“Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.”
Lois Wyse

Now go and spread joy!

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April 17, 2015 EditionLooking at a selfie of my granddaughter and me, I experienced a déjà vu moment. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the selfie reminded me of, until yesterday. Yesterday was my birthday. When I checked my Facebook page, an image of me and my daughter appeared on the computer screen. The image showed a much younger me, sporting a short hairstyle, carrying my infant daughter. The hairstyle in the photo is almost identical to the haircut I just got a few weeks ago. Other than carrying different babies in my arms, having a few more lines around my eyes, and showing a more generous sprinkling of freckles now, the two moments, 25 years apart, illustrate the proverb, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

#1 – Reincarnated Art
Telmo Pieper's Reincarnated Art Artist Telmo Pieper, from the Netherlands, took drawings he made when he was 4-years-old and reincarnated them with the help of digital effects. Check out the transformations of his art here.

#2 – Reliving The ’90s
How to Throw a '90s Party If the ’90s was your favorite decade, you might enjoy reliving it by throwing a party. Here are 29 Essentials For Throwing A Totally Awesome ’90s Party.

#3 – Children Versus Grandchildren
Are Grandchildren Better Than Children? Before my granddaughter was born, numerous friends and family members told me that being a grandparent was better than being a parent. Could that possibly be true? The article Are Grandchildren Better Than Kids? attempts to answer that question. If you are a grandparent, let me know what you think.

#4 – Things That Get Better With Age
50 Things That Get Better With AgeAmazingly some things actually improve with age. Would you like to know what these possibly could be? Check out this list from Prevention on 50 Things That Get Better With Age.

#5 – Changing
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Leo Tolstoy

Now go and spread joy!

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January, 30, 2015 Edition My camera lens focuses on the distant reaches of my backyard. Trying to capture an image of a particular bird, I’ve been sitting motionless on a rock for about 10 minutes. I sense movement to my right and turn my head to see a squirrel perched on a nearby rock. The squirrel sits and stares at me as if to say, “What about me? Aren’t you going to take my picture?” I chuckle and say out loud, “Well, if you give me a smile, I’ll take your picture too.” Lo and behold, the squirrel smiles.

#1 – Connections Between Man and Nature
Artwork by Elicia Edijanto Indonesian artist Elicia Edijanto creates simple, yet emotional juxtapositions of humans and nature. More specifically, her delicate black and white watercolor paintings portray connections between children and animals. There is a certain vulnerability displayed in her work – not just that of the children, but also that of the majestic animals. Check out Striking Black-and-White Watercolors Depict Children and Wild Animals to see examples of her work.

#2 – Developing Gratitude
Squirrel in Tree Living a life of gratitude keeps me in the present. One of the things that I am grateful for right now is having the time and the wherewithal to pursue my hobbies – like sitting and photographing wildlife in my backyard. I appreciate that to do so is a luxury not afforded to everyone. What are you grateful for? Developing an attitude of gratitude does not come easy to everyone. If you need a little help, read 5 Ways to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude to get you thinking and start the process.

#3 – 36 Questions
36 Questions The title of an article in Psychology Today Want to Get Closer to Your Partner? Try These 36 Questions is slightly misleading. Sure, if you were to ask your partner any of the questions from the three sets of 12 questions, you would learn more about him/her and possibly become closer. But, I think the 36 questions are good thought-provoking questions that would shed light on anyone you want to know better – a friend, a co-worker, your children, etc. Try answering some of the questions yourself. Maybe in the process, you’ll learn something about yourself that you didn’t realize before. To provide you with a brief preview, here are the first questions from each set:

Set 1, Question 1: Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

Set 2, Question 13: If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?

Set 3, Question 25: Make 3 true “we” statements each. For instance ‘We are both in this room feeling … “

#4 – Valentine’s Day Food and Crafts
41 Heart-Shaped DIYs To Actually Get You Excited For Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day brings smiles to the faces of so many people. In a little over two weeks that special day will be here. For inspiration, take a look at these 41-Heart-Shaped DIYS to Get You Excited For Valentine’s Day and let the fun begin!

#5 – A Smile Is . . .
“A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.”
Tom Wilson

“Smile, it is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart.”
Anthony J. D’Angelo

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
Phyllis Diller

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.”
Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Now go and spread joy!

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Hokmemade Granola Bars Dressed in my “Gram-glam,” which consists of fitted sweatpants with pockets, a soft t-shirt worn under a flannel shirt, and sheepskin boots, I grab a homemade granola bar in one hand while carrying my granddaughter in the other. Life is grab-and-go for me these days, but with a little planning I can still eat wholesome and tasty foods.

Homemade Granola Bars
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

2. Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

3. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

4. Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

YIELD: 12 to 16 bars

1. Ingredients in this recipe can be easily substituted. For example, I substituted ground flax seed for the wheat germ and figs for the dates, because that is what I had on hand.

2. Despite packing the granola into the pan, these bars tend to fall apart. I recommend cutting them into smaller squares. Save any crumbs to sprinkle on yogurt.

3. I like how the edges are crunchy, so next time I will bake the whole pan a little bit longer.

4. I imagine if you didn’t press the granola into a pan and baked it as is, it would make a fabulous granola cereal.


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Charlotte While watching my infant granddaughter suck on her little jacket, I think about all of the fun we will share in the coming days and years. I dream of blowing giant bubbles with her, of making pies out of Play-Doh together, and of sharing favorite books. Very, very soon it will be the Charlotte and “Yin Yin” Show, as that is what it will be when I take on full days of caring for her. With much excitement and a little trepidation, I consider all that I need to have on hand and all that I need to do to prepare for her visits.

As far as equipment goes, I am well-prepared. Thanks to my thoughtful son and daughter-in-law, I have a Pack n’ Play, a space-saving highchair, a baby bathtub, a super-duper baby monitor, and an array of other helpful items. I purchased a car seat and a stroller on my own, because I wanted specific features. If you are a first-time grandparent planning to care for an infant or young grandchild in your home, here is a list of items to consider having on hand and some additional helpful information:

I am fortunate to have been given many of these costly items. Many grandparents look for used items. There is nothing wrong with that, but before you look for second-hand items, I urge you to use caution. Because safety standards in the baby industry change constantly, you need to do some product-safety homework prior to buying or borrowing certain used items. Be smart and research current safety regulations and check out product recalls.

Crib and mattress, portable crib and mattress, or Pack n’ Play
Car seat
Highchair of some sort
Baby carrier for hands-free movement
Baby monitor, optional
Baby bathtub, optional

Keep in mind that babies are messy little things. You’ll want to have more than one set of bedding and a couple of sets of baby’s clothing on hand.

Crib sheets, minimum of 2
Waterproof mattress pads
Waterproof multi-use pads (I use these for change pads at home and on the go)
Free and clear laundry detergent
Extra changes of clothes
Changing pad, optional
Baby bath towels and washcloths, optional (I like using baby wash cloths, because they are thinner and can more easily get into baby’s nooks and crannies)

Health Care, Safety, And Emergency
Safety measures have changed since my children were young. Infants now sleep on their backs in cribs with no bumpers or blankets. Syrup of Ipecac is no longer recommended for your home emergency kit.

Pediatrician’s contact information
Health insurance information
Copy of child’s health history, including allergies, immunizations, and significant health conditions
Poison Control contact number 1-800-222-1222 on or near every phone
Consent for treatment signed by parents
Digital thermometer and extra batteries for it
Baby acetaminophen and Acetaminophen Dosage Chart
Diaper rash ointment
Safety gates
Cabinet and drawer latches
Door knob covers
Outlet covers
Toilet latches
Swimming pool fence, alarm or pool cover
Corner guards
Take a CPR class that includes infant resuscitation and CPR. At the very least, watch an instructional video, such as the one below:

Ask baby’s parents what supplies and brands you need to have on hand.

Baby bottles, nipples, and rings of the type the parents use at home
Breast milk or baby formula
Bottle brush
Infant-safe spoons, cups and bowls
For an older baby: baby food that baby’s parents recommend
Two types of bibs: some for catching food and some for absorbing drool

I’ve been known to entertain my granddaughter with just about anything: soda bottles, empty mylar candy bags, metal tins, and red party cups. All things can create sounds and movement. However, never leave a baby unattended with any of these things! Charlotte loves music, so I downloaded lullabies and other baby songs onto my smart phone. I can play music for her wherever we are and especially when she is in her crib trying to fall asleep.

Chunky board books
Age appropriate toys
Infant stimulation cards (I downloaded these for free and printed them up)

Note: This list is a work in progress. As I learn and adjust to caring for Charlotte, I’m sure this list will grow too. And of course, the needs of each grandparent and grandchild are different. Let me know if you have any suggestions of items that should be included and please share with me your child-caring experiences with your grandchildren.

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December 12, 2014 Edition With a pretty red bow tied around its neck, a ukelele sits under my Christmas tree waiting for nimble fingers to strum it and voices to sing along with it. My husband rarely asks for anything for Christmas, but this year he wants a ukelele. He wants to be able to sing songs to our new granddaughter. On Christmas morning, wrapping paper and ribbons will be strewn all over and there will be food aplenty. More memorably, though, music, love, and laughter will fill the air.

#1 – Sing Along!
Sing Along “Singing is not about being a star or knowing how to do it well. It’s about enjoying the gift of our voices and sharing them with others,” says Tania De Jong, an Australian singer and global speaker. In her article, 10 Reasons to Make Singing Your Happiness Drug and her TEDx Talk, she presents compelling reasons why singing is good for our brains and for our happiness. She also adds, “And it’s free, because we all have a voice!”

#2 – Christmas Decorating Ideas
Stylish and Easy DIY Holiday Home Decor ideascor Candle holders made from wine glasses and snow made from salt are just two of the clever ideas found in 23 Stylish and Easy DIY Home Decor Ideas. Just more examples of creative people letting their voices be heard.

#3 – Creatively Wired
Chicken Wire Art Chicken wire is not your average art medium, but some creative people around the world use it to make incredible three-dimensional artwork. Click the link to check out amazing examples of chicken wire sculptures.

#4 – Life Lessons From Children’s Books
Life Lessons from Children's Books Don’t underestimate what kids can learn from reading children’s books, or adults for that matter. Some phrases from favorite children’s book characters continue to teach us life lessons. Interesting Life Lessons, Adults Can Learn From Children’s Books contains a nice collection of quotes to revisit.

#5 – Be Part of the Choir
“A choir is made up of many voices, including yours and mine. If one by one all go silent then all that will be left are the soloists. Don’t let a loud few determine the nature of the sound. It makes for poor harmony and diminishes the song.”
― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Now go and spread joy!

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