Saturday, December 31, 2016

Celebrating and more Celebrating - Building Those Family Memories!

I’m sure we all agree, this is a busy time of the year . . . perhaps the busiest with 
Thanksgiving, Christmas and the start of the New Year! Much to celebrate making it busy for sure and for my family, even busier as my son’s birthday is January 2nd, my daughter’s birthday is January 19th and my daughter-in-law’s birthday is February 18th . . . we will continue to celebrate for a couple months!

With my family, I have always had the birthday person choose their menu . . . some are fairly predictable, and others tend to surprise me from year to year. My son chose steak, bacon, mashed red potatoes, green beans and peanut butter pie (I’m adding French baguettes).  So, today I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my recipes for this “birthday dinner”.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Passing Faith to Our Grandchildren - Part Two

Yesterday I wrote about what my husband and I are doing this year to focus upon passing faith to our grandsons. I shared how we are focusing upon helping them learn to live the Fruit of the Spirit by taking one part each month to talk about, live through service projects and to encourage our grandsons whenever we see them living the Fruit in their lives.

Today I'm writing about the second thing we want to focus on with them . . . helping them become people who pray. We gave them each a journal (just a small notebook) and we are regularly sitting down with them to talk about how God is answering their prayers and talk about what we can pray about with them. We have the boys draw and/or write how God answers their prayers and their new requests in their journals – and we are sure to go back over previous ways God has answered and the requests we are still praying about with them. Even my grandsons who are too little to write, can draw pictures . . . I always have them explain their answer/request, so I am able to write their prayer requests out along with the date of their requests . . . I do have a three year old grandson and his drawings are “interesting” to decipher on my own!

So, along with our hopes for 2017, we are focusing upon helping our grandchildren walk closely with God by learning to live the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives and learning to be people who pray . . . we do have great hope for 2017!

What are you doing this year to focus upon passing faith to your grandchildren and to help them love, know and walk with God throughout 2017?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Passing Faith to My Grandsons . . .

2017 is before us and while we do not know what all it holds, you are likely similar to me; I have hope for 2017 to be a year filled with opportunities to pass faith to my grandchildren and build solid, wonderful, joy-filled memories with them as well! While I have plans for fun – trips to the museum, since my grandsons are young I will probably bury “treasure” in my sandbox again this summer for them to discover, another candy cane hunt next December and many more opportunities for “fun” – the things I’m most focusing upon, are two ways to build their faith over the coming year.

The first thing my husband and I are doing is to focus upon the Fruit of the Spirit. We want our grandsons to be boys, teens and then men who love, know and walk with God throughout their lives. We want them to know what it, “looks like” to “walk” with God, and again, since they are young (eight, five and three), we think focusing upon the Fruit of the Spirit and what it looks like lived out in their lives is a great way to do this . . . and honestly, no matter their age, it is a great way to help us all better understand what it means to walk with God! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016's Blessings?

Can you believe it? 2016 is part of the history books. As 2017 begins, it can be so easy to be so focused on the things we are planning for 2017 we forget to take time to thank God for His many blessings - big and small - from 2016. So, let’s take some time to remember the blessings we experienced throughout 2016. Consider the following . . .

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Our Top Five Reasons for Being There

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I have friends who only let their grandchildren spend time at their homes a couple times a month. They said they thought it was "wise" to set "limits", so their own children did not take advantage of them when it came to taking care of their grandchildren. They said this "freed them up" to be able to enjoy their retirement.

I love my friends, but think they have completely missed what wisdom is when it comes to their grandchildren. I am happy to spend time with my grandchildren as often as possible. My grandsons have at least one sleepover at my house each week; in fact, this post is going up so late today, because they had an extra sleepover last night - since they are on Christmas break. I appreciate every opportunity I have to spend time with these three sweet gifts from the hand of God!

So, why do I believe it is real wisdom to spend as much time with my grandchildren as I can? Consider the following . . .

Monday, December 26, 2016

grandma's bookshelf - God Made You Nose to Toes - and I'm Giving One Away!

This time of year we tend to make, "New Year's Resolutions", so today I'd like to suggest a "resolution" for you . . . encourage your grandchildren to read. I love books and believe there is great value in cultivating a love for reading in our grandchildren. My son posted a photo on Facebook yesterday of the seven books he found in his eight-year old son's bed (my grandson) . . . there were novels, comic books, a science project book and Lord of the Rings . . . yes, Lord of the Rings! He is on page 70 and he is eight years old!

My sweet Josiah loves to read and I do believe one reason for this is because his parents and grandparents made a point to read to him since he was just a very little baby! We read to him and read to his brothers as well - there is great value in doing this. My sweet Caleb (five years old) is beginning to read . . . he quite enjoys being able to put letters together to make words and sweet Shane (three years old) loves it when he learns a new letter! 

Since I love books and reading, I'm always happy when I'm invited to read and review a new book. Recently Zonderkidz invited me to review God Made You Nose to Toes . . . I loved the title and thought it sounded like a fun book for little ones, so today I'm very happy to share it with you.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

All is Well!

We all have John 3:16 committed to heart, but just one verse away from it is the profound truth which comforts us all year, and challenges us when it comes to passing on a heritage of faith to our grandchildren. 
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
As you celebrate today, tonight and tomorrow with those you love, remember; All is Well! Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Shark Hats!

I just finished the third crocheted shark hat for my grandsons for Christmas - yes, it was down to the last day for me to complete it (as they are receiving them tomorrow), but they are all three completed!

I wanted to show you a photo of the hats and give you a link where you will find the pattern if you want to make them (I changed the hat a big, by removing the side fins and giving the hat ear flaps and I changed the teeth). You'll find the pattern at this link.

Do you make hats for your grandchildren? If so, what is the "funnest" hat you have made for them?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

grandma's bookshelf - I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug! - I'm Giving One Away!

I love books . . . as you are sure to tell from even a casual look at grandma's cookie jar! My mom always gave me books when I was a child - birthday's, Christmas, when I was sick, we always were involved in summer reading at the library and my mom signed us up for several book clubs when we were children; books have been a big part of my life.

So, as a mom, I tried to pass on a love for books to my two children and now do the same with my three grandsons. It makes me happy to see how Josiah loves to read! I'm very happy to see Caleb enjoy learning to read and love when Shane (and all three boys) will snuggle with me so I can read to them.

This is one of the reasons I love to review books on grandma's cookie jar - I end up with lots of wonderful books for my grandsons to enjoy . . . and for them to share with others as they give many of them to their Charter School and send them to their cousin in California. Plus, often I get to give them away to you as well!

I think starting the new year reading is a wonderful way to begin . . . one of the reasons for my recent reviews (and upcoming giveaways) of Your Alien Returns at this link and NIV Journal the Word Bible Large Print Edition at this link. So, when I was recently invited by Zonderkidz to read and review a new picture book I was very quick to say; "Yes!" - the title had me . . . I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug! They sent it for me to review and today I'm very happy to share it with you!

crafting with grandma - Handprint Snowmen Ornament!

A few days ago when I was at my grandson's home, they were very happy to show me their Christmas tree. On it I noticed a particular ornament we made a few years ago; today I want to share with you how you could make an ornament like it . . . maybe on Christmas Eve!

While I do not enjoy snow, I love snowpeople! And, I'm a huge fan of making handprint items with children when they are little - they grow so quickly so having those little handprints to remind you of how little they once were, well, it is a wonderful thing! This particular ornament I'm sharing with you today, I found on Pinterest.

Just follow this link and you'll find the simple directions for making this adorable ornament! Just think how adorable this would also be as handprints on a t-shirt, or hat, or . . . !!!

Have fun with this idea and make some fun memories with the hand prints of sweet little people in your life! :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

just for fun - Interesting Christmas Trivia

With Christmas just four days away, I thought it would be fun to share a bit of Christmas trivia with you! Did you know . . . 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Be Intentional & Faithful in Spending Time in God's Word with the NIV Journal the Word Bible - and I'm Giving One Away!

As Intentional Christian Grandparents, we want to pass on a heritage of faith to our grandchildren. This means we want to help our grandchildren understand how very much God loves them and how they can choose to make Him the Lord - or Boss - of their lives. Once they make this all-important decision, we want to help them learn how to love, know and walk with God; both now and throughout their lives, so one day, they will be Intentional Christian Parents and then Intentional Christian Grandparents and pass their heritage of faith to the children they love as well.

For us to do these things, we have to be people who love, know and walk with God, as we can not pass to others what we do not have and do ourselves. This of course means we are people who pray (check a post at this link I wrote earlier this month about being intentional when it comes to praying for your grandchildren) and who are faithful to spend time in God's Word ourselves, so we are able to have a real walk with God. So, today, I'm happy to share with you another resource which will help you with your walk with God . . . the new NIV Journal the Word Bible Large Print Edition from Zondervan (which they sent me for review).

Monday, December 19, 2016

LEGO Challenge Cards!

If your grandchildren are anything like my grandchildren, they enjoy playing with Legos. My grandsons love legos . . . they play and build with them for hours at a time! But, one thing about Legos, unless you buy a big container of random pieces, they tend to come in kits where children build specific items. This is fine - my grandsons love building Hulk or Captain America, Iron Man, Star Wars or whatever the kit is, but after they build it, they tend to not build other things with the pieces.

So, when I browsed on Pinterest this morning, and saw a link for fun ideas to challenge and encourage children to grow and learn by playing with their Legos I knew I wanted to take a closer look. The Lego Challenge Cards are described as; "This giant collection of Lego Challenge Cards is a simple prep, fun way to sneak some STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning into the day. With cards which range from easy to difficult, little engineers will love tackling the designs. Grab your set at this link and add them to your home. There are so many ways to use these cards!

You will find them at this link - I will definitely use them with my grandsons to help them learn and have fun at the same time . . . and give them more things to do with their Legos!

Some Thoughts About the "Silent Night"

Throughout my life, one of the classic songs I associate with Christmas has to be Silent Night. Today I'm delighted to share this beautiful carol with you, sung by Michael W. Smith and Little Big Town on his most recent Christmas album . . . I have never heard a more lovely presentation of this song . . . enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Pass on the Best Gift Ever this Christmas!

Have you ever wondered how and why the people of Israel could turn their backs on God when He freed them from Egypt, parted the Red Sea, fed them in the desert, provided water for them, fought for them and personally led them with the cloud and fire? Judges and Psalms 78 says there came a generation who forgot God; a generation who did not experience how God worked in their own lives and who were influenced by the culture around them.

This sounds a lot like us - we forget all God has done for us. We do not tell our children and grandchildren, so they grow up not even knowing God. We are influenced - not in a positive way - by the culture around us and we find ourselves far from Him.

Friday, December 16, 2016

A "New Year's Resolution" You Can Keep!

Last week I talked about making 2017 - which is just around the corner - the
year where you pray "deeply" for your grandchildren, children and the people you love by praying Scripture for them. I said; "With 2017 just being around the corner, I'd like to challenge and encourage you to commit to be a grandparent (parent) who prays the Scripture more deeply for yourself and for the people you love. We do not know what 2017 holds for us; the world seems to be very unsettled, to say the least. But, we do know Who holds the future and we can be people who talk with Him every day! We can be people who lift up those we love, every day in focused, deep prayer!"

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Top 5 reasons for Focusing our Grandchildren on Receiving at Christmas

Yesterday I posted my Top Five Reasons for Focusing our Grandchildren on Giving at Christmas, but today I want to stop to think about the Top Five reasons for Focusing our Grandchildren on Receiving at Christmas . . . yes, I said “receiving“! At Christmas children – and adults, too – think quite a bit about the gifts they would like to receive, but in God’s Word we find some of the most incredible gifts anyone could ever receive . . . and we read they are gifts God wants us to receive! Consider the following .  .  .

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Top Five Reasons to Focus My Grandchildren on Giving at Christmas

“Christmas time is here. Happiness and cheer. Fun for all that children call, Their favorite time of the year!”
Ah, yes . . . Christmas time is here and while our grandchildren are likely to be focused on the gifts they hope to receive . . . as for many children it is their favorite time of year, I believe it is the ideal time to redirect their focus to giving to others! So . . .  here are my Top 5 Reasons for Focusing My Grandchildren on Giving at Christmas . . .

Snowman Donuts!

If you are looking for a simple idea for adding a bit of fun to your grandchild's day, check this link I found on Pinterest for donut snowmen! All you need is construction paper, ribbon a bit of glue or two sided tape and donuts . . . pretty simple and the end result is fun . . . and tasty, too!

Fun just for a surprise or a stocking stuffer or if you are having a party, this would make a fun party favor! 


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

grandma's bookshelf - Your Alien Returns . . . & I'm Giving One Away!

A year and a half ago I was invited to review the book, Your Alien. (You'll find my review at this link.) I thought it was a fun story with great illustrations which children were sure to enjoy, so when I was recently invited to take a look at the "sequel", I was happy to say; "Yes!"

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Busy Weekend with Lights, Trains, Real Reindeer, Snowoctopus & More . . .

This past weekend was a busy one at this grandma's house! On Saturday we all went to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park to see their Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World displays. My grandsons especially LOVED the Railway Garden Exhibit and were thrilled to not only see, but be able to pet real, live reindeer! My oldest grandson also enjoyed reading about the trees decorated to represent different countries and the traditions from these other countries.

We all had a wonderful time at Frederik Meijer Gardens - if you live in the area, definitely put this on your list of things to do with your family this Christmastime!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I Have a Winner!

Today I'm very happy to say, Carmen VanDeursen is the winner of one Nefarious: The Mad Scientist Game! You will find my review at this link. Thank you Carmen for reading grandma's cookie jar - I will have USAopoly send it to you, and thank you USAopoly for sending one for me to review and give away.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Our First Annual Snow-A-Palooza!

Each year during the month of December, I plan special surprises and fun for my grandsons when they are at my house (which is typically a few days a week!). This year, along with small items under the tree (books, transformers socks, candy canes, etc), I planned for them to "receive" special "experiences" . . . last week we had our First-Ever Candy Cane Hunt . . . and it was a lot of fun for sure!

So, today the boys are getting to experience petting live reindeer and will be able to see thousands and thousands of Christmas lights at the Frederick Meijer Gardens - we will have a lot of fun for sure! And, tomorrow we will have our First-Ever Annual Snow-A-Palooza!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Second-Chance Giveaway on December 11, 2016 - Nefarious: The Mad Scientist Game

Last month I reviewed and gave away 21 things ranging from books, to games to American Girl WellieWisher dolls and Cross pens - lots of fun things! When I have a giveaway - which I do all year long - I give the winner a full week to get their address to me, so I can have their prize sent to them. If someone does not do this in the week they have to do so, then I hold a second-chance giveaway - but with my second-chance giveaways, I only post the giveaway for two days, so if you want to enter this drawing, do not delay! Today I'm announcing a second-chance giveaway for a fun new game from USAopoly - Nefarious: The Mad Scientist Game

When I was a child there were a couple things we could always know we would receive for Christmas . . . books, clothes and at least one board game. Yes, this was "pre-electronic games", but board games were always something we received for Christmas . . . at least for those years we were in elementary school. Board games were a good way to get us playing together as a family . . . they still are today; even with the popularity of electronic games.

So, today I'm very happy to share with you a new board game from USAopoly, which they sent me for review, and to announce another giveaway!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

just for fun - Build a LEGO Nativity Set

I was browsing on Pinterest this morning and saw a link for an activity which I think my grandsons would enjoy - and maybe your grandchildren would as well. All you need are LEGOs - some specific pieces, which if your grandchildren have a lot of LEGOs, they may have the pieces. What is the project? A LEGO Nativity set! Not just fun to build, but timely for this time of year for sure!

Follow this link for complete directions along with photos which show the pieces you need to build Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus in a manger, Shepherds, Sheep and a stable complete with a star.

Enjoy and, of course, use the opportunity as you build to read Luke 2 and talk about how amazing, and wonderful, it is for God to send Jesus as the best Gift ever! This could be the start of a fun family tradition where you build the Nativity each year as you talk about and read from Luke 2 at Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Make 2017 the Year Where You Pray Deeper!

Praying for our grandchildren (and children) is something we all know we need to do, but it is also something many of us struggle with. We may feel like our prayers do not even make it through the ceiling above us and do not know what to say or how to pray. Our lives are busy, so finding the time to pray can be a challenge which we may not overcome and then days go by without us spending time in prayer.

Yet, we know prayer is important. We know, especially in this day and age, we - and our grandchildren (and children) need all the prayer they can get. We want to be people who pray; and people who pray deeply, but are not sure how to be this kind of person.

Well, please allow me to help you. I understand these feelings about prayer and struggled many years to be a person who prayed. Then one Sunday I heard Dr. Ed Dobson preach about how the best way to pray is to pray Scripture. This made sense to me, so being a writer, I started at Genesis and worked my way through the Bible to Revelation. Whenever I came to a passage I could pray, I wrote it out as a personalized Scripture prayer and divided it into seven parts, so I would be able to pray the passage more deeply by praying each portion over a week's time. This allowed me to pray regularly and to pray Scripture more deeply by spending a week praying through each passage!

Let Them Hear It From Us!

The other day I shared with you my notes from when Josh McDowell spoke at the first-ever Legacy Grandparenting Summit. While there were many things he said which stood out for me, things I will be intentional about doing with my grandsons, there is one thing which I believe is the most important thing for me to do. What is it, you ask? It is for me to be sure they hear, know and believe the truth about how no matter what, they are created in the image of God and have infinite value, dignity, worth. Josh said we need to love our grandchildren the way Jesus does and communicating this message is a great place to begin!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Legacy Coalition - Josh McDowell - Make the Time We Have Count!

When it came to the quality of speakers the first-ever Legacy Grandparenting Summit had for grandparents to hear from, they certainly, "hit it out of the park"! Chuck Swindoll (and his wife and grandchildren - a first-ever event in itself!), Crawford Loritts, Larry Fowler, Gary Chapman, John Trent, Valerie Bell, Josh Mulvihill . . . just these speakers would have made for an amazing opportunity to hear from people who had much wisdom to share, but they were not all the general session speakers! No, there were two more and today I'm very happy to share with you what Josh McDowell had to say to us about making the time we have count . . . yes, Josh McDowell! Did I mention how the Legacy Coalition "hit it out of the park" when it came to lining up general session speakers?!

Josh McDowell has ten grandchildren ages 12 and under. He said in the 55 years and the more than 34,000 times he has he has been speaking to people, he had never before spoken to a conference on grandparenting, but he was very happy to be able to do so, as after Jesus, his family was his greatest motivation.

Josh shared two things for us to be aware of as grandparents -

Monday, December 5, 2016

It's Time to Think About Christmas - a Nativity Set for Each Child!

The first year my husband and I were married, he gave me a Precious
Moments Nativity Set . . . this was 35 Christmases ago! 

Twenty years ago, or so, I crocheted a Nativity set with crochet cotton - I wanted to be able to set it in my tree, because it is the reason we celebrate! (This year when the boys decorated my tree, Josiah put the shepherd on it's back looking up, so it could "see" all the lights! He is a funny boy!)

Each year I love setting up my Nativity Sets . . . we have a bay window in our living room and the tree goes in the window; I set the Precious Moments Nativity Set in the window as well with the kings traveling across the living room to the Nativity, because I want the focus to be on the Reason for the Season.