Welcome to a place where we can share ideas about grandparenting, especially ways to pass spiritual values and family stories to the next generation.

Mary is the co-author of The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect With Your Grandchild's Heart.
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Co-author of The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect With Your Grandchild's Heart

Friday, November 28, 2008

Simmering Holiday Potpourri (non-edible)

Friday's Fun

With the day after Thanksgiving comes thoughts of Christmas. Last night our grandkids actually decorated gingerbread houses and had a great time! Next week's Friday's Fun will have this recipe and pictures.

But for today, I thought we could be reminded of Helen Austin's fun recipe for non- edible potpourri. It was in the last issue of Encouraging Women with Hearts for their Homes. In case you missed it, or like me thought ... I'll make that a little later, here's it is.

Helen wrote:

Here's a recipe for a simmering potpourri you can use right on the stove top. Just keep the saucepan handle turned away from little hands and paws and your kitchen will smell like you've been baking for days!


3 or 4 pieces of dried orange peel (see NOTE)
1 teaspoon cinnamon chunks (available in bulk at Whole Foods Market)
OR 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
1/4-1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
2 or 3 pieces of star anise (also available at Whole Foods)
1/4-1/2 cup whole fresh cranberries (optional)

NOTE: To dry orange peel, score an orange in quarters, then remove peel and as much of white pith as possible. (Add orange sections to a fruit salad.) Place on flat surface, such as the kitchen counter, for several days.

This is not edible.
Don't even use it to season cider or wine. If using cinnamon sticks, break up into 3 or 4 pieces. Then place contents in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover loosely (vent top of saucepan slightly). Add water as needed; don't let mixture dry out. Be sure to turn off the heat before you leave the house. The fragrance will remain for awhile.

Making Christmas potpourri with an older grand would be a fun activity. If your grandchild lives out of town, you could mail their parents the recipe and talk on the cell phone with your older grand while he/she makes it.

Have a great weekend!

He is able,


Photo Credit: © Nicolás Batista/Dreamstime.com

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
—Psalm 107:1

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving will be here in a couple of days. Our sons and their families will be with us and we’re really looking forward to some good family time! My hope is that you, too, will be with your loved ones.

Sometimes I overestimate what I can do for the holidays—wanting to make them extra special for everyone. I’m really trying to do better at knowing my limits. Can you identify? I wanted to use pretty china for Thanksgiving this year, but the more Jim and I talked about it, the more impractical it seemed—with five grandkids from 1 – 6 years of age.

It will be great for young and old to share blessings with one another around our Thanksgiving table. The branches of our little Thanksgiving tree are filled with reminders of God’s goodness during this past year.

Although I’m very grateful to God for His many blessings, I’m also very aware that we’re not in heaven yet. Our society wants to breathe the fairy dust of perfection on the holidays, but there’s no perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas. And there’s sure no perfect Nana or Pops.

After our Thanksgiving feast and time of remembering, we’ll enjoy a family tradition—making gingerbread houses for Christmas. (I’ll share the recipe in one of the Friday's Fun columns.) We’ve done that since our sons were little boys. It seems unreal that their children are now making the gingerbread houses.

Happy Thanksgiving!

He is able,

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving Placecards

Friday’s Fun

Here’s one more Thanksgiving activity that you can do with your grandkids: make Thanksgiving placecards.

Our four-year-old granddaughter and I made our placecards tonight. I cut one 8 ½ x 11 piece of card stock into quarters. Then each quarter was folded in half and decorated with fall leaves.

I’ll write names on the placecards after the leaves have dried overnight. And, yes, the placecards will be on our Thanksgiving

Here are some more creative ideas for special placecards.

He is able,

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Purple Flowers are Somehow Living

Tuesday’s Thought

He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. (Daniel 2:21)

This morning as I was leaving for work, I couldn’t help but notice a few Chrysanthemum flowers peeking from behind the stalks of what used to be gorgeous Zenias. Despite several early morning temperatures below freezing, the purple flowers are somehow living.

This evening I googled Chrysanthemums and discovered that there are two types: “hardy mums” and “florist mums.” As you might guess, florist mums are not very likely to make it through cold winters.

This may be a strange thought, but as I saw a few bright mums in the midst of dried out and dead Zenias, I thought of grandkids and life.

I hope and pray that our grandkids will be like those bright flowers in the midst of a decaying world. That they will be “hardy,” grounded in Scripture and able to survive the cold seasons of their lives. That there will be something wonderfully different about them—a beauty that attracts others to them … and to Christ.

As our gradkids get older, I want to talk with them about world events from a biblical viewpoint by keeping up with current events through blogs like Culture Watch and Truth and Culture Weekly and by reading magazines like World and Citizen Magazine.

And I want to remember that no matter what season of life—for Jim and me, our kids, or grandkids, God never changes.

He wants us to be “hardy,” and will always give us wisdom ... if we’ll only ask.

He is able,

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Let's Make a Thanksgiving Tree

Everyone who submits a comment (or e-mail) from October 21-December 5 will be entered into a drawing. The winner will receive a copy of While They Were Sleeping: 12 Character Traits for Moms [Grandmoms] to Pray and “What God Wants for Christmas.” I’ll draw a name on December 6 and will announce the winner’s name in the December 8 blog.

Friday Fun

We have something new at our house this year—a Thanksgiving tree. Well, it’s not a real tree. It’s a small plastic “cheese” tree … originally designed for cubes of cheese to cover its branches.

But instead of cheese, this year the little tree is covered with small notes of thanks to God for what He has done during the year. Jim and I and the grandkids have been periodically jotting down things we’re thankful for and attaching them to the tree. (We use various types of clips to attach the notes.) We’ll read all of the notes on Thanksgiving Day.

Our little granddaughter is especially excited about the Thanksgiving tree. She tells me what she’s thankful for and I write it on her card. Then she colors the card. I love the fact that she asks me over and over to write, “I thank God for Mommy and Daddy.”

He is able,

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Have you ever worried about your grandkids?

Tuesday's Thought*

Have you ever worried about your grandkids? Have you wondered what kind of world they’ll live in? Have you ever feared whether they’ll have the same religious freedom that our generation has known?

I have.

But whenever I worry, I am saying to God that I don’t know if He’s up to the challenge. And, of course, we know He is. Any human challenge is absolutely nothing to Almighty God.

I heard someone once say that worry is to Satan what prayer is to God. Ouch! That’s getting a little close to home. I don’t want to please Satan by worry! I do want to honor God through prayer.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight."

What a great promise! Verse 7 goes on to say, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil."

These words remind me not to operate according to my own wisdom—not to be wise in my own eyes. And I’m struck that this instruction is given right after we are told to trust God totally.

The natural inclination is to trust in myself and try to fix things. The Christ-centered response is to remember how God has worked in my life in the past and trust Him for today and tomorrow.

When I remember how God parted the Red Sea and how Jesus rose from the dead … I know that He is up to any challenge. And when I count the many ways that He has intervened in my life over decades … I know that He is able.

So, today, I’m reminded that the greatest thing I can do for our grandkids today, is to pray for them. Yes, no one know what tomorrow holds. But, as it has been said before, We know the One who holds the future.

And He can be trusted.

He is able,

*The picture was taken by Jim Larmoyeux. © by Jim Larmoyeux. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Let's Make Napkin Rings

Friday’s Fun

Here’s something fun and easy we can to do with the grandkids—make napkin rings. Two year olds can even put together the simple ones pictured here. To make them, just cut some toilet paper rolls in half (I actually folded the rolls in half and cut them), cover them with foil, and added a sticker. What could be simpler?

Instead of using foil, older grands could paint them and add decorative drawings. Of course, holiday themes could be added such as stickers of turkeys and Christmas trees. Or, shapes such as stars and bells that have been cut out of cardboard, painted, and decorated with glitter could be glued to the napkin rings.

I’m going to help our nearby grands make some holiday napkin rings and will be mailing our long-distance grands some stickers and sheets of foil along with a copy of this post and a letter from Nana. (Their mom will have plenty of toilet paper tubes.)

You can google other napkin rings ideas. I liked these do-it-yourself napkin rings.

Have fun!

He is able,

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November 4—Election Day

Tuesday's Thought

Soon we will know who will be the next President of the United States.

I remember going with Mom and Dad to vote as a child. We waited in line at an elementary school near our house. Somehow I realized that voting was a privilege not to be taken lightly.

If you have older grandchildren, today’s a great time to talk with them about the cost of freedom—the men and women who gave their lives so that we can be a free country ... and vote.

It’s a great time to share memories of voting. Did you go to the polls with your parents? How has the voting process changed in your lifetime? We could share these memories with a stroke of the pen, a phone call, or e-mail.

And it’s a great time to write grandchildren a letter reminding them that regardless of the outcome of any election, God is sovereign.

As Psalm 103:19 tells us: The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”

He is able,