Washable Rugs & Compact Diaper Bags? Yes, Please!

I just have to bring up these 2 items because I think they are really awesome. And while they would be perfect for parents, I think grandparents could benefit from them, too! Because when we babysit, these would help SO much!

Bluesnail Compact Diaper Bag

I saw a more expensive one on storq.com ($48) but then I searched on Amazon and found this one that seems comparable in function for $15.45! It has everything you need for a quick change! Just click on the image to be taken to amazon.com

When are we going to start having Baby Showers for Grandparents? Huh?

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Washable Rugs! 

The second really cool item my nieces told me about. They both bought washable rugs at Rugs USA   and they love them! 

The company has different sizes and prices starting at $79.99!

There are also washable rugs at Ruggable.com and the Business Insider review gives you a great description of how they work in case you’re curious. They also say they are brilliant!

Kids and pets and poop and puke! How great to be able to take the interchangeable cover off and throw it in the washer!

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And you know me and Amazon – they have Ruggable Rugs for sale there, too! Just click on this rug to be taken to Amazon so you can compare prices

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Where was this stuff when my kids were little?

Free St. Patrick’s Day Printables For You!

Hi Everyone! It’s getting close to St. Patrick’s Day so I thought I’d create a few coloring pages and games for Stella’s Boys and I thought I’d share them with you! (The links to download will be in pink text.)

Here are 3 coloring pages…

Happy Shark Patrick’s Day is for Gideon Ben since he loves sharks!

Happy Shark Patrick's Day

Happy St. Pat-trex day! is for Manny the Man since he loves dinosaurs!

Happy St. Pat-trex day!

And here’s a classic St. Patrick’s Coloring page just for fun!

Happy saint patrick’s day

Happy saint patrick's day

 

Then, I also made a few learning games for TODDLERS. These are just super easy games to help them learn to identify their colors, shapes and numbers. You can just print out the pages on plain white paper and then find some game markers or you can use small toys or Goldfish crackers, raisins or candies. Then when you’re trying to cook dinner and they’re pulling on your pants leg, pull out a game, sit them at the table, give them some game pieces and call out shapes, colors and numbers for them to identify. It might keep them busy for 5 minutes, haha! Really, Gideon Ben and I played for about 30 minutes!

1 (1) <—–(That’s the pdf )  The Nutty Numbers Game will give your toddlers practice on identifying numbers and colors. They can put a marker on the number or the color that you call out or you can call out a number and they have to put that number of game pieces on the number. Like 3 Goldfish crackers on number 3. Does that make sense?

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Jump up and down. or what I call Shape Shenanigans! Call out a shape and/or color and your toddler has to follow the instructions!

Jump up and down.

 

Shamrock Color Game is a simple game where you call out a color and your toddler puts a game piece on the correct color shamrock. Fill up the whole page and win! (It might be fun to give them a small prize for winning OR let them eat the candy game pieces!)

Shamrock Color Game

Have fun!

 

Find Your Grandchild’s Love Language

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You may remember back in the 1990’s that a book came out by Gary Chapman called, “The Five Love Languages” and then in 1997 “The Five Love Languages of Children” By Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. There was another one, as well, called “The Five Love Languages of Teenagers.” I remember these books to be very interesting to me because I love finding ways to know myself and others better.

I found “The Five Love Languages of Children” to be very helpful when I was teaching 5th and 6th grade. Whenever I had a student who was a behavior problem or just proved to be difficult, I would go back to Dr. Chapman’s book for suggestions on how I could show love to my challenging students. Because, once I showed them love, a door of communication would open which allowed me to address a world of other things.

“Once I showed them love, a door of communication would open which allowed me to address a world of other things.” 

So, now that I’m a grandmother, I thought I’d revisit this super helpful book for ideas on how to identify and show love to my grandboys. We all want to be seen, understood and loved. As grandparents, we don’t always have a lot of time to spend with our grandkids. Sometimes we are so far apart that our time with grandkids is minuscule. If you’re like me you want every minute, every word and every dime to communicate how much I love them and how awesome I think they are! Identifying our grandchild’s love language could help us get to our grandkid’s hearts quickly and efficiently

“If you’re like me, you want every minute, every word and every dime to communicate how much I love them and how awesome I think they are!” 

So, while I’m rereading this book, I thought I’d summarize Dr. Chapman and Dr. Campbell’s suggestions on how to identify your child or grandchild’s love language and then I’ll give you suggestions for how to express love to them. Even though I’m giving you this information, I encourage you to get the books yourself and find your love language as well as the love language of your spouse, kids, and grandkids. It really does work and is SO helpful!

What are the five love languages?

  1. Physical Touch
  2. Words of Affirmation
  3. Quality Time
  4. Gifts
  5. Acts of Service

If you have never heard about the Five Love Languages, that list may make you chuckle. All kids like ALL of those things, want ALL of those things and need ALL of those things. However, when you discover what your grandchild’s primary love language is, you will be able to express your love to them in a way that is deeply satisfying and meaningful to them. If your grandchild’s primary love language is physical touch and all you do is buy them gifts, their hearts won’t be as filled as it would be if you would sit them on your lap and read a book to them. If you want to reach the heart of your grandchild, then try to identify their love language and love them in a way their heart understands. They will remember you forever!

“Identify your grandchild’s love language so you can communicate directly to their heart.” 

How to identify your grandchild’s love language

Authors Chapman and Campbell suggest that you don’t tell your grandchildren what you are doing since kids are masters at manipulating situations to get what they want, haha! As grandparents, we know how that is and we are willing participants! Here are the ways you can secretly observe them to identify their love language.

  1. Observe how they express love to you. Do they always tell you that they love you or thank you for doing things for them? Their love language may be words of affirmation. However, kids learn quickly that if they say the right, sweet words, they can often get what they want. So, you’ll want to make more careful observations.
  2. Observe how they express love to others. A child whose love language is giving gifts may always be interested in giving gifts to his teacher. When they are with you, notice how they express love to their parents.
  3. Listen to what your grandchild requests most often. All children want to be noticed and praised, but notice if your grandchild focuses on requests for your time. If they want you to play games with them or read with them or do activities with them they are requesting quality time. If your grandchild is constantly soliciting your praise about their artwork or music performance or the clothes they are wearing they may be requesting words of affirmation. Of course, all children will ask for your compliments every now and then, but a constant request could be an indication of their greatest need.
  4. Listen to what your grandchild complains about. All kids complain, so frequency and a repeated pattern are what you’re looking for here. It might be especially effective as you observe your grandchild and their parents. Do they complain that their parents spend too much time working and never have time to take them to the park? Maybe your grandchild is crying out for quality time. You can give that to them. Not to replace the parent but to show love your grandchild.
  5. Give your grandchild a choice between two options. You could ask your grandchild if they’d like for you to bake cookies for them (acts of service) or take them to the park (quality time). Would they like to lay on the couch and watch a movie (physical touch and quality time) or go to the store and buy something (gifts)?
  6. Ask the parents what they think their child’s love language is. Not only will this help you but it will also help the parents think about ways the can more directly and better show their child love. Not only that, but how they can better love their spouse and others. And that’s what it’s all about, showing love to the whole family!

Some suggestions for showing love to each love language

The expression of each love language will change as your grandchild grows older. You will need to find age-appropriate ways to express your love. You will also have to find ways to fit your grandchild’s unique tastes and preferences. However, here are a few ideas to get you started.

Physical Touch – If you find that your grandchild’s love language is physical touch and you’re not a touchy-feely person, then get over it. I hate to be direct but a hug or pat on the back for a physical touch person will mean more than any gift or word of affirmation. If your grandkids are young it’s easy. Hug them, kiss them, hold their hand, rub their backs. Sit them in your laps, wrestle with them in the floor, swing them around, dance and play contact sports. Scratch their backs, stroke their hair and let them lay on your while you’re watching TV.

If you’re a distance grandparent and you can’t touch your grandchild, then buy them a blanket or pillow. Buy or make a sweater that they can wear that will remind them of you.

Words of Affirmation – While this love language is easy to express, we don’t always take the time to be deliberate so it is often overlooked. Make a point to tell your grandchild you love them without it being connected to a need or request. Make sure your words of praise are true. If they are exaggerated or flat-out untrue, the child will not take it to heart and relegate it to mere flattery. Pay attention to your grandchild’s real strengths and praise them for it. Try to find that hidden treasure in your grandchild and praise them for it. Praise them for their kindness, not just that they look pretty or handsome. Praise them for being patient with a younger sibling or persistence in finishing a difficult task.

If you’re a distance grandparent you can write letters, send notes and cards with words of affirmation and love. Engage your grandchild in phone calls and FaceTime calls and ask them about what they’re doing and express your pride and excitement about the things in their lives.

Quality Time – Quality time is often what people think of when they think of time spent with grandparents. However, in this busy world and distracted life, quality time can practically disappear. Quality time is doing things together while focusing on each other. It’s not so much about the activity as it is the talking, laughing and sharing. Create little traditions with your grandchild where it’s just time for the two of you. And be present! Look them in the eye. Listen to what they say and respond to them. When they visit, take them to get an ice-cream cone. Work in the garden together, not to get a task done, but just to hang out together. Share family stories, look at family photos, do anything as long as it’s together.

When you’re a distance grandparent, FaceTime, Skype and any video communication is your best friend. Be prepared to spend a lot of time just sitting together, maybe in silence, just to be together. Read books together, let them watch you bake cookies all the while laughing and talking, then mail them to your grandchild.

Gifts – For a child whose love language is gifts, gifts are more than just material objects. “They are tangible expressions of love that speak deeply.” For this child, the loss or misplacement of such an item is devastating. This child will make a special place in his or her room for those gifts. How a gift is wrapped is important and the ceremony around unwrapping the gift will also be important. Make sure the gifts speak to the interest of the child. Be thoughtful and deliberate.

For the distance grandparent, this love language is the easiest. However, since our presence and voices will not be as frequent as our gifts, we need to be sure to send our love in words and also make visits. The meaning behind the gift is that you know and love your grandchild. And if they don’t really know you, they won’t get the meaning.

Acts of Service – You can express your love to your grandchildren by “doing things they may not yet be able to do for themselves.” By doing things for them that they can do for themselves is just spoiling them. And while that’s what grandparents are known for, we really want to balance it with teaching them how to do things for themselves. Teaching your grandchildren how master basic skills is a great opportunity to spend quality time, give them words of affirmation and physical touch, too. You can show your grandchild love by fixing a broken toy, helping them with homework, and fixing their favorite food when they come to visit. When you perform an act of service for your grandchild, you are also modeling for them how to serve others.

When you’re a distance grandparent, use FaceTime or Skype to help your grandchild with their homework. Order a pizza online and have it delivered on a weeknight just because it would be fun. If your grandchild is not feeling well, order some soup to be delivered and rent a movie for them to watch.

It will be worth it!

I can tell you from experience that identifying and expressing love languages is worth it! It’s an easy and sure way that your child, spouse and grandchild KNOWS that you love them. When they feel loved, they are more settled, satisfied and peaceful. When their “love tanks” are filled, they can then go into the world and love others.

What a great gift to give your grandchild!

Here are links to the books on Amazon. They will give you so much more help than I did!

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love lang child

love lang teens

If you would like these FREE, handy Love Language Printables, just download  Finding your grandchild’s love language now!

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The Best Toys For Grandma’s House

I never knew my grandparents but I do remember going to the homes of older people as a kid. There are a few things I remember. I remember the smell of an old person’s home. The temperature of an old person’s home and the things or “toys” we were allowed to play with.

While the first two things can be easily handled by getting some plug-ins and turning on the air conditioner, the big issue is Grandma’s toy selection. Most of the time it’s just sad. I vowed, even before I became a grandmother, that I would have fun toys at my house.

So, in this post, I want to link you up with some classic toys that the grandkids will love. You don’t always have to have the latest, trendiest toys. You can get some classics that will last through several grandkids and won’t put you into debtor’s prison.

The green words are a link straight to Amazon.

For the little ones 0-12 months:

Stacking Rings

 

Pop Up Activity Toy

Play Mat

 

For the toddlers 1-4 years:

 

Duplo blocks

 

Age Appropriate Doll House or this awesome Farm Set

Animal figurines

Play Tents, Teepees and tunnels

 

For the bigger kids 5-7

(You can never have too many of these!) 

Legos, Legos, Legos 

 

Barbies

 

Classic Games Like Checkers & Chess

 

Sports Equipment Like Soccer Balls Footballs and Basketballs

 

These are classic, simple and have been popular through the years!

Stock up and get ready for the grandkids!

Being A Grandma In This Momo World

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That Momo Challenge thing is getting a lot of attention. I’ve read and heard that it’s probably a hoax. And whether it is or not, it has been the catalyst for needed conversations about whether parents are aware of what kids are into on the internet.

It’s not just the parent’s problem, it’s the grandparent’s problem, too. I only have 2-year-old grandchildren at this point and they are already interacting with the internet. They LOVE to get in my bed, eat pretzels and watch YouTube videos of Blippi. Although that may seem innocent enough, YouTube will cut in with commercials for movies that are for adults. They will flash scary or sexual scenes that I don’t want my grandkids seeing. When we are out shopping, I have found that a video or toddler game on my phone will quickly and efficiently fend off a meltdown and those commercials are still there.

“Being a grandma in this Momo world means that I have to pay attention and take precautions to protect my grandkids while they are with me.”

To be quite honest, I had to stay on top of things so much as a parent, that it makes me tired to think about having to learn new technology and stay up on current trends and dangers. I like being able to just relax and not worry about all that parenting stuff these days. I like the grandma gig where I can have fun and send them home and all the serious stuff is not my job.

However, when it comes to the internet and technology at my house, it really is my responsibility to keep them safe when they are with me.

“Just like putting up a baby gate on the stairs or railing around a deck, I need to set online boundaries and set up cyber barriers to keep my grandkids safe.” 

I don’t think we can get around it. I mean, even if I don’t want to put in the time and effort to make sure that my grandkids are safe when they are at my house on the internet then I have to put in the time and effort to make sure they have activities to keep them off the internet. Unfortunately, there will still be those down times when they will want to get online because I don’t have the energy to go as much as they do. And there will be times where your nerves just can’t handle hearing “Baby Shark” one more time! You will want to cut them loose to watch things on their own.

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So, what can a Grandma do in this Momo world? 

  1. Talk to your own kids about what they do to protect your grandkids. Your own children are the best resource because they are on the front lines. Your kids really do know their children better than you do, so it’s best to let them guide you in how to protect your grandchildren.
  2. Put up some cyber barriers. Get familiar with the parental controls on your cable box and within the apps on your tv, computer and phone. If your grandkids get on your computer, then look into installing some filtering software and set parental controls within your computer. If you have gaming systems, do the same there.
  3. Set up some online time boundaries while your grandkids are at your house. Create screen-free times such as meal times and bedtime.
  4. When it comes to online activity, because it can be so unsafe, make sure you enforce the parent’s rules at your house. We all know how grandkids like to try to get away with stuff at Grandma’s house and we like to let them! Eating candy and staying up late is one thing, but unmonitored internet use is like playing with fire.
  5. Become familiar with popular apps and social media sites.
  6. Talk to your grandkids (and you may be able to get more info out of them than even their parents) about what they do online. What apps do they use? How do they keep up with their friends, etc?
  7. Do an online search and read articles about how to protect your kids while they are online. There’s a lot of great info out there like this article here.
  8. Teach your kids that there is more to do with a phone than get on social media. Download a tree identification app like Leafsnap and go for a hike. Teach them how to take and edit photos with a photo editing app like My Little Guy Photobooth.
  9. The most effective protection, in my opinion, is to be present. Watch tv with them. Get involved with their online activity. Play video games with them. They have limited time with you, so spend your time together. They will less likely get into online trouble if you are right there beside them.

“The most effective protection is to be present.” 

I followed my own advice and asked my daughter-in-law what she was doing to protect my 2-year-old grandson while he uses the internet to watch his favorite shows. She told me this:

  • There have been so many disturbing things pop up while watching YouTube kid’s shows that she has almost abandoned it and has now subscribed to Amazon FreeTime app. It’s $2.99 a month for Prime members and there are books and videos available. It includes some of my 2-year-old grandboys favorite shows such as Daniel Tiger, Sesame Street, and Curious George.
  • Even though my grandson can’t use the tv remote yet, she has taken advantage of parental controls on her tv.
  • She limits his screen time.
  • She said the best thing she can do to prevent him from seeing scary things that might pop up is to watch tv and shows on the phone WITH him.

I hope that helps a little. Feel free to leave a comment and let me and my readers know what you have done at your house to protect your grandkids while they are online.

Peace,

Jill

 

 

 

 

Minimalist Valentine’s Day 2019

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Valentine’s Day is next week! I’m actually proud of myself for thinking about it before the day is upon me! Being ahead of the day helps me be more thoughtful which is what minimalism is all about, in my opinion.

So, what’s a minimalist to do about Valentine’s Day? What is a Minimalist Grandma to do on Valentine’s Day?

If you search for ideas on the internet you will find that some people equate being minimalist with being cheap. It’s not about being thrifty and saving money, though that can be a benefit of practicing minimalism. However, for me, minimalism means paying attention, being deliberate and not being wasteful. For example, I could go to the store and spend hundreds of dollars buying a bunch of stuff for my husband, kids, and grandkids for Valentine’s Day. Most of which would probably end up in the trash, at the bottom of the toy box or put away with all the other odd things that have no real place.

I could jump on the bandwagon and buy cards, candy, jewelry, and flowers or plan a special night out. All that is great, except when the person you’re doing it all for doesn’t really like or want those things. I speak from experience. I HATE going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day with all the crowds. Too many people! I’m not eating sugar, so candy is out. Flowers are nice, but they die quickly. Jewelry is pretty, but I’m not a jewelry kind of person. Cards, well, they are sweet, but what in the world do you do with them after you’ve read them? They end up in the trash. I’m not going to leave a lifetime of greeting cards for my kids to have to throw out. It’s crazy! Yes, I am frustrating. Just ask my husband.

Ok, that’s me. But what about all those people who do like flowers, candy, cards, jewelry, and dinners out? Get it for them! Being minimalist is being mindful and not wasteful. Giving someone joy is never a waste!

So you see, being a minimalist gift-giver means taking time to think about the person and choosing a gift that they would truly like as an expression of affection. Not just buying stuff to meet the holiday requirement. 

Do some thinking! Let me give you some ideas. Some of these I have done before and they worked out great!

For Adults

  • Give things people need but won’t easily buy for themselves. It might sound too practical to be considered a Valentine’s Day gift, but you might be surprised how excited they will be. How about a few really long charging cords for their phone?
  • Give a thematic gift based on their interests or hobbies. A bouquet of Sharpies for the artist or journaler. A bouquet of wooden cooking utensils for the cook. A bracelet of washi tape for the crafter. The ideas are endless.
  • For the plant lover, give a tomato plant instead of roses.
  • For the cook, give a bottle of good olive oil instead of wine. 
  • Give an experience.  This can get a little pricey, but if you have the money and you’re sure they’ll love it, do it! Buy a cooking class, a chance to drive a racecar or even drive a tank (I’ve seen ads for this!), or scuba lessons. 
  • Give a membership. This can also get pricey and that’s why I do it for Christmas. Buy a family membership to the zoo, the aquarium, a local museum or season tickets for music or theatre. This is the gift that keeps on giving! 

For Kids

  • Give them one-on-one time with you doing something fun. Kids really do love time spent with the people they love. It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you give them your undivided attention. Put down your phone, don’t include anyone else and spend your time talking and laughing.
  • Craft together or teach them a skill. Teach your kids/grandkids how to make “seed bombs” and then plan a time to go spread the love! Teach the kids/grandkids how to knit, make a cake, play a song on the piano. Kids are sponges and they love to learn if it’s fun and with someone they love.
  • Give an experience like I mentioned above. Take them behind the scenes at the aquarium or zoo. A visit to a museum or planetarium is always fun! Tickets to a sports game. Race go-carts, go bowling, play miniature golf, go horseback riding.
  • Give a membership. Not only are memberships to the zoo and aquarium fun, but
  • Give Apple, iTunes, Amazon gift cards, PS4 or Xbox gift cards. Kids can buy apps, games, movies and even toys they want.
  • Have a sleep-over, dance party, video game or movie party. Even though you may not “like” doing it, if you’ll break down and do the thing, listen to the music, watch the show that your kid loves, it will mean the world to them. 

Distance Grandparenting Gift Ideas

  • Order pizza and watch an online movie on Netflix or Amazon. It’s so great that from the internet you can give your grandkids dinner and a movie from wherever you are. It would be much more fun if you ordered pizza, too, and watched the same movie and FaceTimed! Distance grandparenting at its best!
  • Create a scavenger hunt. Plan it out, get all the materials together and send it to the parents. Then FaceTime with them as they search for the treasure!
  • Start a Love Letter or Post Card tradition. Write a love letter to your grandchild and then tell them to write you back. You can become pen pals. You can do the same with postcards. Agree that wherever you go, you’ll mail a postcard to each other.
  • Start a book club. Then you can buy them a book or an e-book (if you’re really dedicated to this minimalist idea) for every holiday! Then you’ll have something to talk about!
  • Start a YouTube channel and read books to your grandkids. They will LOVE to watch the videos and they’ll get a chance to “spend time with you.”
  • Bake their favorite cookies and mail them to them. Spread that grandma love! 

Minimalist gift giving is not about being cheap. It’s about being thoughtful and not being wasteful by buying things that people really don’t want.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

 

 

Back Home

I’m so sorry that I seemed to drop off the planet. I went up to spend time with my kids and grandkids for two weeks. The first week I stayed with my son, daughter-in-law, and Manny. My daughter-in-law had all four wisdom teeth pulled and had a bone graft. So, I hung out with Manny so she could recover. While I was there, Manny developed an ear infection and had to go to the doctor.

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But he’s all better now. And so is his mom!

The second week I went to my daughter’s house. I had a good time with Gideon and Judah.

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Look at those cheeks!

But I’m back home now, muscle sore from all the lifting and carrying and tired, but feeling full and content from all the love!

So, I’m back at writing and deadlines and all the stuff that comes with being at home.

What happened while I was gone?

Peace out,

Jill

 

Brothers

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I watched my son and daughter become brother and sister but I was really busy keeping them alive and praying that I wouldn’t mess them up too badly to watch very closely.

But now I get the privilege of watching these two guys become brothers. My prayer is that they will forge a bond that can never be broken.

Peace and brotherly love,

Jill

Scottish Tattie Scones

So, I’m collecting and testing recipes that I want to include in our Christmas celebration and the days that our family will be together this year. Last year, my grandboys were just one year old and still so little, but this year the oldest two boys will be eating what we eat. I want to gather some recipes that will become our family traditions, those recipes that the grandsons will remember for the rest of their lives. I really want to include some authentic Scottish, Irish, British and Spanish foods since that is their heritage.

My first experiment was a Scottish potato scone recipe I got from Christina’s Cucina. She gives very thorough instructions and I followed them to a tee. They turned out great. Sort of bland, but she very clearly says that traditionally the scones should be fried with the bacon to absorb the flavors of the bacon.

I think these will be a great addition to our breakfasts. I think this one is a keeper!

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Peace,

Jill