Category Archives: The Grandboy

Mystery Book

The Grandboy will be staying with us tomorrow, so I bought him a book while I was at Powell’s the other day trying to escape the heat of this scorching week. I found a display of “mystery books” for young readers.  Someone very creative at  Powell’s had created the covers, and  I just couldn’t resist picking this one up for him. We’ll find out what book it is when he removes the wrapping. I hope he likes it!

UPDATE: The mystery book revealed!

Grandson and Grandma Play Minecraft

In the last few weeks, we’ve spent quite a bit of time with our 11-year-old grandson. Those hours spent with him are precious times!  On the days that we have him all day long, we have a fun routine. We start the day at the breakfast table making a list of all the things we want to do during the day, including what we’ll have for lunch and dinner, errands and tasks. Time outdoors is included as well as the indoor games and activities. We revisit the list at the end of the day and mark off the things we’ve actually done. It’s a fun way to realize that there are endless things we can do and never get bored while spending the day (or days) with grandparents!

One thing that is always on the list is some time for one of his favorite computer games, Minecraft. Last year, he showed me how to start a game myself, and I was hooked! He showed great patience in helping me learn how to build things and navigate the environment. He showed me that I could choose a “peaceful” game without monsters attacking me and blowing up my buildings, and that I also had a choice of “survival” or “creative” modes. In survival mode, I have to find all my own supplies and materials. In creative mode, they are already there for me. I find this game fun and relaxing and play it quite often, building houses, villages, and cities, and exploring many different biomes.

But now there is a computer version in the house that can be hooked to the TV and is controlled by a joystick. Although I do well on the touchscreen version of the game on my iPad, this old grandma has a great deal of trouble with using a joystick to navigate the computer version! Grandson has once again shown great patience in trying to help me learn how to use it because he would dearly love to play a two-person version of the game. If I could just manage to work that joystick really well, we could build things together in one game! But the manual dexterity skills that seem to come so naturally to young people these days are very difficult for me to manage, so I mostly end up watching him create his Minecraft worlds. I’m practicing my joystick skills, but it’s slow learning for me.

This sweet Grandboy hasn’t given up on me. He enjoys visiting my current game on my iPad, and likes to add his own touches to what I have been building. And he continues to educate me about the endless possibilities of this amazing game. He’s a wonderful teacher! This week, he loaned me three books to read on the subject (knowing I love to learn by reading). I know I am loved when he loans me his hardback Minecraft books!

Conflagration

Photo by Tristan Fortsch (Click on the photo to follow the link to a news article about the fire.)

Those of us living in the greater Portland, Oregon, area are grieving the loss to fire of so much natural beauty in our beloved Columbia River Gorge. Although my husband and I live 75 miles west of where this devastating fire started, our air is filled with ash and smoke.  And although we live 75 miles away, this fire hits very close to home and is very personal.

Our grandson and his mother live just across the river from where the fire started, and have had to leave their home and take refuge with us and with friends for the time being. Our grandson’s school is closed indefinitely. We are grateful that they are safe, and so very grateful to all the people that are working to contain the fire and to help all those whose lives are in upheaval due to this fire. There are many heroes in this story.

But it breaks my heart to think of what this sensitive 10 year old will see when he and his mom return home. The views he loves to look at out his bedroom window are now forever altered. It feels like Life is now forever altered.

Conflagration.

A Day in My Life: A Blogging Event

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My blogging friend, Trish, (Love, Laughter & a Touch of Insanity) is hosting this 2nd annual blogging event. Last year, I so enjoyed reading about people’s lives, but didn’t post about my own. This year, I’m sharing a day in my own life, and will once again enjoy reading about yours!

Two and a half years ago, I retired after teaching for 27 years, and my husband and I moved to a small town in Oregon. The following is my account of a pretty typical day in this retired teacher’s new life.

THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2016

5:00am:  I wake up at this time no matter what. Inner clocks are incredibly difficult to reset, and even though I’m retired and could sleep-in as long as I want, this is the time my body says to get moving, so I get moving!

5:00-5:45am:  Wake, make a big pot of tea, and read (currently reading my first book by Ann Cleeves, A Bird in the Hand).

tea pot

5:45-6:15am:  Work on my Bullet Journal. One of the joys of retirement is getting up each morning and being able to set my own agenda! Our first year of retirement was pretty unscheduled — footloose and fancy free! Recently, I decided that I needed a little more structure to my day, so I set up my bullet journal and spend time each morning and each evening planning my day and then reflecting on each day. I love this! I’m much more efficient with my time, so I’m getting more reading done, more knitting, taking more long walks, remembering to send birthday cards on time, etc. I’m still setting my own agenda and enjoying my days even more! Delightful!

6:15-7:00am:  This is time usually spent on the computer reading, answering, and sending emails, and catching up on social media. I do a lot on Facebook, which is a nice way to communicate with my Mom and family, and friends and relatives that live near and far.

7:00-9:00am:  I ate breakfast and then got ready for my morning exercise activity. On Mon/Wed/Fri, I go to exercise class at the gym 3 blocks from my house. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I meet a very special exercise buddy. My new friend, Gloria, is an 81-year-old runner! I meet her twice a week to walk/run on the hills near her home. I walk, she runs! Because my legs are long and I have a long walking stride, I can keep up with her (most of the time) while she runs. She’s been running for 40 years, and she has become my mentor as I learn to challenge myself and my body more and more. With her encouragement, I have signed up for a summer’s worth of 5k challenges. Portland Parks and Recreation sponsors 6 summer 5k walk/run events, each one at a different local park. My first ever 5k walk will be on May 15th. Gloria will run and I will walk. What fun! Can’t wait!

9:00am:  Back home, shower, get ready for the rest of the day!

9:15-10:30am:  Housecleaning, laundry, menu-planning. It’s been so rainy recently that I haven’t been out in the yard doing some of those morning tasks, but that will change very soon. Today, I swept the front porch to get ready to put out some potted plants soon.

10:30-11:30am:  I signed up for a Craftsy class on “Designing Edible Gardens,” so this morning I spent an hour working on that class. I take notes in my Bullet Journal, where I keep track of all  the planning I’m doing for our 2016 vegetable garden.

 

11:30-Noon:  Prepare lunch. Today’s lunch was a “rice bowl”… brown rice, stir fry veggies (no oil!), cubed tofu, mandarin orange slices, some slivered raw almonds, and 1/4 cup orange sauce. (Warmed it all up in the microwave.) A simple, but very healthy and satisfying lunch. Two years ago I was overweight, pre-diabetic, and taking 2 blood pressure medications as well as a cholesterol-lowering medication. My new doctor referred me to the Healthy Living department at Kaiser Permanente where I met with a doctor and his nurse who have changed my life! They gave me the information and support needed to change the way I eat.  I have worked hard to change old bad habits and establish a new and healthier lifestyle by eating a completely plant-based diet. The health benefits for me have been enormous. I’ve lost 25 pounds and Kaiser no longer classifies me as obese or pre-diabetic. I no longer take blood pressure medications or cholesterol-lowering medication. “Food is my medicine.” And along with losing weight, I have become much more physically active. I go to exercise class three mornings a week, and meet with my running friend twice a week, so I have a good 1-hour/5 days a week exercise routine. I also go for long walks with my hubby, and ride my bicycle and go hiking when the weather permits.  Simply put, I am feeling better than I have felt in years!

orangericebowl

 

AFTERNOON:

12:30-2:00pm:  Running errands. Fred Meyer, car wash, JoAnn’s for some crafting supplies, and Best Buy to pick up a new exercise tracker to help me do some serious training for my summer of 5k races!

2:15-3:00pm:  Home again. I sat in the recliner, put my feet up, and called my Mom on the phone. I talk with my 96-1/2 year old Mom every day. She lives 800 miles away, but we bridge the distance by having long conversations about health, happenings at her retirement home, and about what we are currently reading. We never get tired of talking about books!

3:00-3:45pm:  Stayed sitting in that recliner and worked on my current knitting project while listening to my current audiobook, In the Wet, by Nevil Shute.

3:45pm:  Stood in the kitchen looking out the greenhouse window at the flock of little birds, the Scrub Jays, and the Acorn Woodpeckers that frequent our bird feeders. I could never get bored looking out that window. There’s a lot of bird (and squirrel and cat) drama to enjoy!

 

4:00-5:00pm:  The Grandboy and his daddy arrived. I was honored with an invitation to join his Minecraft world for awhile!

 

5:00-6:00pm:  I set the table while hubby cooked dinner tonight. He cooked a totally whole foods, plant-based meal for us — Cuban Black Beans. No, he hasn’t given up his meat or cheese (or pastries), but he has been very supportive of my plant-based needs. He likes to cook and bake, so he usually fixes 2 or 3 meals a week (yes, I’m spoiled!). Today, he fixed this one, which is one of our favorites!

6:00-6:30pm:  Dinner.

7:00-8:30pm:  We cleaned the kitchen, and then sat down to watch some TV. We chose a new Nature episode with David Attenborough. Love, love, love David Attenborough!

 

8:30-9:00pm:  Planning and reflection time with my Bullet Journal.

9:00-10:00pm (or so):  Reading in bed until too tired to read anymore. I love this!

Goodnight!

Notes:

** My “retired” days are busy and I love that. Although this has been a day where I mostly described my solo activities, my husband and I do many things together.  When we retired, we started a wonderful tradition of going “exploring” on Wednesdays. We call it our “Wandering Wednesday,” and it started as a way to get to know this new area we moved to. We visit historical sites, botanical gardens, libraries and bookstores, wetlands and forests. We post photos on Facebook for our family and friends to enjoy, and it’s become a delightful highlight of our week.

** I love my new focus on physical activity and healthy living. It just feels so darn good!  A number of years ago I read Reeve Lindbergh’s book, Forward From Here: Leaving Middle Age — and Other Unexpected Adventures. In that book, she said that 60 is the “youth of old age.” I am closer to 70 now than to 60, but I feel more youthful today than I did when I turned 60. Although I haven’t always been good about this, I know how important it is, at any age, to take good care of yourself. My mother is a wonderful role model for aging gracefully and healthfully, and I hope I can do as good a job of moving into my elder years as my mother!

**  This is a new stage of life for me that comes with many, many changes, but the one thing that has remained constant is my passion for reading! With retirement, comes much more time to enjoy my books. What a luxury to be able to sit down and read on the front porch or in my favorite indoor spot at any time I want!

porch_photo

My favorite reading spot…

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read about “my day in the life.”  Although I don’t post or comment as often as I used to, I still love the blogging community and enjoy visiting your blogs. I love to hear about what you are reading and what is happening in your lives.

Thank you, Trish, for hosting this annual event!

 

Sunshine in the House

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What’s all that laughter I hear from the Grandboy’s bedroom upstairs? He and his daddy have been reading aloud a whole stack of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books they picked up at the library. There are three sounds I love on a rainy afternoon like this:  The sound of the rain…  the sound of someone in another room reading aloud…  and the sound of my Grandboy’s laughter.

Grandboy books

Celebrating December

Virtual_Advent

December has arrived and I am enjoying this holiday season. Thanksgiving weekend was fun with the Grandboy, who helped us put up the Christmas tree, adding his own creative “ornaments” — some of his books! (A boy after my own heart!)  I’m knitting as fast as I can to finish a couple of scarves for special people in my life. And I’m reading as many holiday books as I can, something I’ve never done before! I am also participating in Kelly & Marg’s Virtual Advent Tour, a lovely blogging community holiday tradition. Celebrating December!

book_tree

A Father’s Day Book

A very happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful fathers out there!  My husband and I wanted to spend today with our son and grandson, but both of us have nasty mean colds, so we’re stuck at home. We hope to spend some time with them NEXT weekend, when we are well again.

So in celebration of Father’s Day, I am reposting a little piece I wrote back in February about one of my class’s favorite Read Alouds of this school year. After we finished reading it, I received this email from a parent. It was the compliment of a career for me, but also shows you how much children love this book!

Since my daughter is going to miss reading books with you more than anything else in her school life so far — would you have any recommendations for summer reading, books you wish you would have had more time to read with the class?  
 
E gave her Dad a copy of “Danny Champion of the World” for his birthday, because it was so good she wanted to read it with him!!

Last week, I read aloud to my Second Graders the wonderful book by Roald Dahl, Danny, the Champion of the World. I have always loved this book because it portrays one of the most beautiful father-son relationships in literature. But reading it this year, after a very difficult year in our own son’s life (his name is Danny, too!), had special meaning for me. I understand that single-father and son relationship in the book in ways I never expected, and I appreciate deeply that Roald Dahl created this loving, caring, nurturing, and sparky Dad for us all to love!

When I picked out this book to be the next read aloud in my classroom, it was because I knew it was a wonderful story that would capture my students’ imaginations. I didn’t realize consciously that I was picking out a book that would give me an even deeper love, appreciation for, and understanding of my own newly single-father son and our grandboy, and of their very precious and beautiful relationship.

Chicken Pox and Daphne du Maurier

Our precious Grandboy has the chicken pox, so I took some time off from teaching school last week and drove to Portland to be a helpful Grammy.  Our poor miserable three-year old and I played with cars and trains for most of the weekend while his exhausted parents were able get caught up on household chores and errands that needed to be run.  It was, of course, a joy to be with him, even though he didn’t feel well.  And my solo drive there and back home (because Grandpa couldn’t go with me) was made very enjoyable by listening to an audiobook of Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek.  I have now become a completely devoted Daphne du Maurier fan.

Frenchman’s Creek is a wonderful adventure of an English lady (on hiatus from London, staying in the family home on the coast of Cornwall) and a French pirate. Oh, the adventure! and oh, the romance!  I love du Maurier’s strong women characters, and she is simply one of the best storytellers.  So if you have an occasion to leave your everyday life for a few days of something unexpected, take along some Daphne Du Maurier with you. It’s a real treat.

What Children Need to Learn to Read

Being the grandma of a 3-year old, I’m always looking for books to send to our beloved Grandboy and books for his parents.  A few weeks ago, I met a woman who collaborated on writing a book with one of the teachers in my school district. The book is called, What Children Need to Learn to Read. Author Michelle Vallene, with the assistance of Suzie Connor, wrote it as a ” Parent’s Guide to Ensuring Literacy, a Love of Reading, and School Readiness.” We talked for quite awhile about children and reading and teaching, and before she left, she offered to give me a copy of the newly published book so I could send it to our family.  I’m so excited to see how they like it because it is full of activities that lead children right into literacy — all kinds of songs, rhymes, poetry, games, and other great language boosters.

From the “Author’s Message” in the beginning of the book:

I believe that in the clinical debate over the proper way to teach reading, we can lose sight of the real goals of helping children to be successful readers, and of fostering an enjoyment of reading that will last throughout their lifetimes. There is no one correct way to reach these goals. What it takes is a little knowledge and some unforgettable precious time spent with your child.

My husband and I spent many of those “unforgettable precious times” reading to our two children as they were growing up, and I would have appreciated having this book as a guide and source of fun ideas during those early formative years of our children’s lives.  This book would make a lovely gift for new parents, or parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers, or parents of children in the early grades.

Be sure to visit the author’s web site, Learners Lane, where you can read more about this book and to find more resources and ideas.