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.
Visit www.legacyconnection.org
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Co-author of The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect With Your Grandchild's Heart

Friday, November 29, 2013

What the grandkids are thankful for

Friday's Grand Connection Fun
by Mary May Larmoyeux

Hope that you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Pops and I spent it with some of our grandchildren.

We had a great time using Untie Your Story napkin ties from Ever Thine  Home (www.everthinehome.com).  Each one is imprinted with a question, and we had fun answering the different questions after we finished our Thanksgiving meal.  

We also had our annual Thanksgiving tree, and the grandkids did a wonderful job decorating it. What was designed to be a small gumdrop tree held construction-paper leaves that the kids had made.  Everyone wrote things they are thankful for on the front of the leaves and jotted their names on the back.   

One by one we picked each colored leaf from our Thanksgiving tree and read what someone was grateful for. Then we guessed who wrote it. Whoever guessed the right person got to pick the next leaf from the tree and read that blessing out loud. 

Rita once asked in a Grand Connection comment what our grandkids wrote on their Thanksgiving tree leaves. Here's a partial list of what they said this year (in no particular order):

  • Family
  • My teacher
  • God
  • Plants
  • Donuts
  • Life
  • Jesus
  • My dog
  • Friends
  • Food
  • Books
  • Creation
  • My turtle
  • Love 

What was your favorite Thanksgiving memory this year? Why not send your grandkids an email or text, and share it with them? Then ask them to share their favorite Thanksgiving memory with you.

Have a great weekend,

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post and picture copyright © 2013 by Mary May Larmoyeux.All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why should I be thankful?

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Tuesday's Grand Connection Thought
by Mary May Larmoyeux

This Thursday, our family and most Americans, will celebrate Thanksgiving. It's a day when we will recall the many blessings that God has given us throughout the year.

According to History.com: "In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. ... It wasn't until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November."

For many people, 2013 was a really tough year. Perhaps you lost a loved one or suffered great damage from a natural disaster. Or, maybe you are struggling to just make ends meet during this holiday season.

It's easy for me to thank God when things are going well. But when the challenges of life come, I often ask "Why?"  My question should really be "Who?" Who can I trust in the good and bad times of life? Who never changes ... is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8)?

Of course, there's only one answer:  God.

My prayer for Pops and me, our children, and grandchildren is that we will be people of gratitudeno matter what happens in our lives.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
                      (1 Chronicles 16:34)
Happy Thanksgiving,

Photo and post © by Mary May Larmoyeux.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Tree of Thanks

Friday's Grand Connection Fun
by Mary May Larmoyeux

For the first time last year, we had our "Thanksgiving tree." It’s a small plastic tree; gumdrops or pieces of cheese are supposed to be attached to its branches.

But instead of cheese or gumdrops, our little tree is covered with small notes of thanks to God for what He has done during the year. Jim and I, the kids, and grandkids periodically jot down things we’re thankful for on small cards and attach them to the tree. The cards are simple to make: just cut some index cards into small rectangles, hole-punch each one, and attach them to the branches with clips or pieces of ribbon.

Once again, we'll read the notes of gratitude when the family is together on Thanksgiving Day.

Two of the grands were at the house earlier this week when we put the little tree up on the kitchen counter. Last year our now four-year-old granddaughter would tell me what she's thankful for, and I'd I write it on her card. But this year, she wrote her notes of appreciation "all by herself."

If you don't have a gumdrop/cheese tree, you could make your own Thanksgiving tree out of some twigs. Also, small notes of appreciation could be dropped into a jar of gratitude instead of hung on a little tree.

How have you kept "thanks" in Thanksgiving?

Have a great weekend,

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© 2009 by Mary May Larmoyeux.
Photo © 2008 by Mary May Larmoyeux.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Writing your family stories: let the journey begin

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Tuesday's Grand Connection Thought

by Mary May Larmoyeux

When Carnegie Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, was razed almost 50 years ago, Carl Martin picked up 16 limestone drums and loaded them into his pickup truck. According to the January 24, 2009, issue of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 45 years later, those same 16 drums are back in their original formation of four columns (four drums per column). 

They now proudly stand in front of the Main Library in Little Rock because the Martin family donated them to the library. “If you had to buy those drums, Bobby Roberts (the library system’s director) said, “they’d cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to get.”

Well, who would have guessed in 1964 that 16 discarded drums (considered debris by most) would one day be prized treasures?

This story made me think of my legacy and reminds me of the importance of passing down the “pillars” of family history. I'm finally starting to  write down the stories that portray the character, values, and faith of Pops' and my grandkids’ forefathers. After all, I don’t want the "columns" of our family to be forgotten ... buried in my mind for decades, if not forever.

Have you written down your family stories? Whether you have or haven't, you may want to visit the StoryWriting Studio blog. I'm now posting on it on Fridays.

Last Friday I began to write about how we can tell our personal stories. As I blog about this, I am going to be creating a book of family stories for Pops' and my legacy.

Want to join me in a story-writing journey? Then go to the StoryWriting Studio post How to begin to tell your personal stories.  And please tell your friends about this. Thanks!

Have a wonderful week,

Copyright  © 2013 by Mary May Larmoyeux. All right reserved.
Picture © Pavel Losevsky © dreamstime.com

Friday, November 15, 2013

10 Ideas for keeping thanks in Thanksgiving

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Friday's Grand Connection Fun

by Mary May Larmoyeux

Thanksgiving will soon be here. The following 10 ideas could help us be more grateful in this season of thanks.

1. Begin a “jar of thanks.” Ask each person in the family to regularly jot down on slips of paper things they are thankful for—dropping them in the “jar of thanks.” On Thanksgiving Day read the slips of paper, and thank God together for His many blessings.

2. As a family, choose a charitable organization to support together financially. Brainstorm ways that the children/grandchildren can earn money for this. Give up drinking cold drinks or eating out, and add the money saved to the donation fund.

3. On or before Thanksgiving Day, serve as a family in some type of soup kitchen. You will not only be helping others, but will also have a great opportunity to talk to the kids/grandkids about the less fortunate.

4. Memorize Bible verses about being thankful and discuss them as a family. Example: After reciting Philippians 1:3 (“I thank my God every time I remember you.”), tell loved ones why you thank God for them.

5. As a family talk about the blessing of good health. Then “adopt” someone who does not have this blessing—rake their leaves, wash their car, go grocery shopping for them.

6. Before going to bed on Thanksgiving Day, thank Jesus for coming to Earth as our Redeemer. “My llips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—I, whom you have redeemed.” (Psalm 71:23)

7. Make a Thanksgiving Tree. All you need is a small artificial tree, some note cards (cut in thirds), and ornament hooks. During the days leading up to Thanksgiving, encourage family members to jot down on the note cards things they are thankful for. Punch a hole in each card and hang it on the tree. Read all of the cards as a family on Thanksgiving Day.

8. Participate in your community’s collection of food items for the needy during Christmas. Take your children to the grocery store and let them shop for the items your family will contribute. Ask for your children’s help in packing the box.

9. After you pray with your kids before they go to bed, ask them to share how God had blessed them that day.

10. Keep a “thanksgiving notebook” in which family members regularly jot down ways God has blessed them. Periodically read the list as a family and have a time of family prayer—thanking God for specific blessings.

Have a great weekend,

Photo and post © by Mary May Larmoyeux. All right reserved.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How did Veterans Day begin?

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Tuesday's Grand Connection Thought

by Mary May Larmoyeux

Yesterday we celebrated Veterans Day. Did you ever wonder how it began?

According to History.com:  "On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as the Great War. Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars."

Because of  courageous men like my grandfather, dad, and father-in-law, we are a free nation today. But that freedom is not guaranteed for tomorrow. I'm reminded of a quote by Dwight Eisenhower, "In the final choice a soldier's pack is not so heavy as a prisoner's chains."

One of the most interesting people I have ever met was Retired Lt. Colonel Roy Kaden. He flew a top secret mission in the 1950s; his family did not know about this until 50 years later. Like to know more? Read "Just Another Day for an American Hero." You and your grandchild might want to read this together, or you could e-mail or text your grandchild the link.

How did your family celebrate Veterans Day? How can we honor our veterans every day?

Have a great week!

Photo and Post © 2013 Mary May Larmoyeux. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Making Gingerbread Houses

Friday's Grand Connection Fun
by Mary May Larmoyeux

Even though the fall wreath is on the front door, it's time to be thinking about making gingerbread houses. With seven grandchildren, it takes me a while to make all of the houses that our growing family will soon decorate. 

For more than two decades, our family has had a wonderful time making gingerbread houses before Christmas! Has your family made gingerbread houses during the holidays?

I use the following recipe, adapted from one printed years ago in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.  (See pictures of actual preparation.)

Gingerbread House Template

Basic Corn Syrup Gingerbread Dough

9 cups unsifted flour
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind (optional)
One and one-half tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups light corn syrup
One and one-half cups light brown sugar firmly packed
One and one-fourth cups butter or margarine

Combine flour, lemon rind, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a large bowl. Stir together corn syrup, brown sugar and butter in a 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter is melted and ingredients are well mixed. Pour liquid mixture into flour mixture and stir until blended.

Form dough into a ball and knead until smooth and pliable. Roll out dough and cut into 1/4" thickness, using a lightly floured rolling pin. Cut out desired shapes for houses and gingerbread men. We cut out a cardboard pattern with three shapes (cut two of each shape):

roof—5 1/4" x 3 1/2"

side—4 1/4" x 3 1/2"

and peaked side 2 3/4" x 3 1/2" with triangle on top. The peak of the triangle is 4 1/2" from the base of the rectangle it sits on. 

You can make the houses as large or small as you like. The above recipe will make two small gingerbread houses and a few gingerbread men (use cookie cutters for them).

Put shapes on cookie sheets that have been sprayed or greased lightly with Crisco (or something similar). Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until shapes are firm and lightly browned. Cool shapes completely on racks before assembling.

Snow Frosting

3 egg whites (if possible, at room temperature)
1 pound box confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Place the above ingredients in a large bowl and beat at medium or high speed until stiff (approximately 5 minutes). Cover with damp cloth.

Makes about 2 cups.

Use the Snow Frosting to glue houses together, attach decorations and make icicles. After building house, allow frosting to dry at least one hour before decorating. I allow the houses to dry overnight.

The tradition of making gingerbread houses has been great fun for our family and has has created some wonderful memories.

What are some of the things that your family has done to make Christmas memories?

Have a great weekend,
StoryWriting Studio

Photo and article © 2009 by Mary May Larmoyeux. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Thanksgiving idea to keep the main thing the main thing

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Tuesday's Grand Connection Thought

by Mary May Larmoyeux

As I was thumbing through the newspaper yesterday, I couldn't help but notice all of the advertisements that are already out for Christmas. And, of course, it's still weeks before Thanksgiving!

Seeing those ads made me take a deep breath. "I've got to remember what really matters this holiday season," I said to myself.

Breath in ... breath out.

But keeping the main thing the main thing isn't always easy for me.  What about you?

Well, today I had the privilege of visiting with some bloggers from around Arkansas at FamilyLife; Barbara Rainey gave us some great ideas for keeping the main thing the main thing. She told the group about some of the beautiful resources that she has been creating for a new line of FamilyLife products, Ever Thine Home (everthinehome.com).

I'm really looking forward to using the Untie Your Story napkin ties on our table this Thanksgiving. The frayed edges give them a vintage feel, but what I really like are the different questions imprinted on each tie to encourage some great conversations.

To me, the holidays are great reminders of what matters most—faith and family and friends. And as a grandmother, I want to create customs that can be passed down from generation to generation. I hope that using the Untie Your Story questions will be an ongoing tradition for our family.

Another favorite tradition in our home is making gingerbread houses. It's really one of the highlights of the year for the grandkids. I'll share the recipe for this on Friday. It's a little bit of trouble, but well worth it!

What is something that you do during the holidays to help keep your focus on what really matters?

And what is one of your favorite Thanksgiving or Christmas traditions? 

Have a great week!

He is able,

© 2013 Mary May Larmoyeux. All rights reserved.