The Boys Love These Cards!

My daughter has these First Words Touch and Feel Cards by DK and the boys LOVE them!

You can buy them from Amazon by clicking on the picture. 

The boys both just turned one year old and they just love looking through them and touching the tires on the tractor wheels, the fur on the dog, the plastic on the ball and the kernels on the corn.

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I’ve looked at a lot of touch and feel books and cards and sometimes the “touch” part is a little weird and doesn’t really match what it is supposed to be. But these cards are really great!

The cards are thick and can hold up to the kids chewing on them and bending them. I mean, they are not indestructible but they are pretty sturdy.

Educational picture cards may not be the first thing you think of as a gift for a one year old, but let me suggest that you consider these cards. They are really cool!

Peace,

Jill

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#1 Grandboy’s First Birthday

I warned you about this blatant broadcasting of photos of the birthday party, so if you want to skip this you can. No hard feelings.

The first birthday,  you know it had to be a blowout. It was a 2 day affair. First day, his actual birthday, with family. Then, the second day with his church family.

It was a Sea Pals Adventure Party that started with really cute e-vites that my daughter designed with Paperless Post.

 

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This was a really cool e-vite because it had so many bells and whistles. It allowed me to rsvp and add the event to my calendar to name a few. If you are in a community of people like a church or a large family – you really need to check out this site.

My daughter had some really cute ocean-themed decorating. I made a paper whale for the front door…

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She made some paper “scales” to decorate one wall, green, plastic tablecloth “seaweed” to hang in the doorways and styrofoam bowl and ribbon “jellyfish”…

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The food table had plastic sand buckets of snacks of popcorn, cheerios and pretzels, a watermelon shark, fruit kabobs, blue punch and the ocean cake and his scaly smash cake. She also had clear balloon “bubbles” and the plasticware was wrapped in a napkin tied with twine and a lifesaver. (I think all my cake decorating practice was worth it!)

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Outside she had a tent set up with a sunscreen station and a kiddie pool of water and one with sand. They also had a water table and a sprinkler going. For the adults there were hoola hoop targets with sling shots to shoot water balls.

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It was a great day had by all, especially the birthday boy being surrounded by his friends and family and being lavished with fun and thoughtful gifts. And tasting cake for the first time….

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Next up, Grandboy #2’s First Birthday!

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Settling In

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So, I arrived 800 miles later safe and sound. And since I’ve been here we’ve been on full-out playing, eating, laughing and birthday planning mode!

Me and my boys have been getting to know each other better and learning what each other likes and finds funny. I bought the above double stroller at a 2nd hand shop so we could go Rollin’ together. They are so cute when they hold hands when they’re in the stroller together! Both of my kids are planting a church together with their spouses and some really great people. They meet in a movie theater on Sunday mornings. So, they have to go early to set up. I went early this past Sunday to watch the boys while they were setting up and this stroller was a big help. We rolled around outside then inside. Great fun!

Gideon, the cute guy on the right will be a big ONE year old this week and we’ve been in party planning mode. I offered to make his birthday cake and we’re going big! I made a practice cake to see if I could actually make what my daughter was thinking about. I am NOT a professional. I’m just crazy enough to try.

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Don’t judge! I don’t like anything you see here, except maybe the “sand” layer. We’re working toward an ocean theme. Sand, waves, fish scales, you get the idea. I was trying out some canned icing and found it’s not good for piping unless I add powdered sugar to stiffen it up. Then there’s the HEAT to contend with. We also played around with colors. I don’t like any of the colors you see in this pic. So, I will adjust. The Golden Oreo “sand” turned out good, I think. It was fun working with my girls. I really miss spending time with them. They are so creative and daring (especially letting me make the 1st birthday cake!)

7 weeks after Gideon’s birthday, Manny, the handsome guy on the left will turn ONE year old!

So, I’m settling in for my long visit. We’re so used to having just a few days together that we rush around trying to get in all our fun and talking and hugging before I have to leave. But now, we can relax and just BE. It’s SO nice.

Hope you’re all doing well. In my next post, I’ll talk about feeding the grandkids. Is that a source of tension between you and your kids? Let’s talk.

Peace,

Jill

 

This Was The Goal!

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Of course there are many factors, many purposes and many reasons because life is not that simple. But one of the goals of freeing up, lightening up and streamlining my life was to do just what I’m doing right now…being able to spend A LOT of time with my kids and grandkids who live half way across the country.

I packed up pretty much all of my clothes in a plastic bin- because I’ve cut down the size of my wardrobe, remember – and threw them in the car and drove 15 hours to my kids to stay for a month.

It’s okay. The husband is okay with me leaving. Not jumping up and down but okay especially when I reminded him he’ll have control of the remote and he can cook all the crazy, spicy, weird foods that stink up the house he wants to.

But let me tell you, it was a breeze leaving the house. Back in the day it would have taken me a week or so to get ready to leave. I would have had to wash a ton of clothes and dig out a suitcase. I would have probably gone shopping because I never really had stuff to wear because I hated most of my clothes in my closet. So, thank you KonMari!

I would have cleaned the house (because I hate coming home to a dirty house) which would have led to the sorting and cramming and the frustration of realizing I need to throw stuff out but I’m too stressed because I have to go on this trip to stop and do that right now which leads to the guilt of having just crammed all my crap into weird places just to make the house look neat and clean and putting discarding and organizing on my to-do list for when I get home. Whew!

Then I would have to pay the bills which would lead to the same ordeal only in the office and file cabinet followed by the guilt of feeling unorganized and worring if we have enough insurance in case there’s a flood or the apocalypse and knowing none of my important files are in a fire/water safe safe and then feeling guilty for not really knowing where those files are, in fact not knowing which files are important. Whew!

But since I’ve done all the decluttering and organizing, leaving for the trip was easy. I paid the bills, filed the necessary papers which took me 20 minutes max. I had one small, and I mean small load of laundry to do. I didn’t have to pick and choose what clothes to take because I only have like 4 pair of pants, 2 shorts, and several shirts. I threw in my sneakers for walking and sandals. I wear my hoop earrings almost every day and my fitbit so I didn’t have to figure out what jewelry to wear with which outfit. I slimmed down my every day grooming routine, so I just threw everything I use everyday in my toiletry bag. I didn’t really have to clean the house because the house stays pretty clean everyday now that I don’t have a lot of clutter.

So, I put all my clothes in a plastic see-through bin so I wouldn’t have to dig through a suitcase for a month. I packed a tote bag to take into the hotel with me for my one night stay halfway there. One basket of snacks and water and I was on my way!

I didn’t leave with that uneasy, guilty feeling of having left things undone or unfinished or out of order. I left free.

Now, I’m here and we’re already having loads of fun. I think all those FaceTime sessions has helped make me a familiar face with the grandboys. They are sweet and social anyway, but they’re not looking at me like I’m something from another planet.

So, now to settle into a routine and try not to be an annoyance. You know, “the mother-in-law.”

Let me say sorry/not sorry if I write and post pics about my grandboys for the next little while.

Peace,

Jill

 

Why Mature Adults Need To Take A Personality Test

The Guide to Manliness

I’ve been under the impression most of my life that as someone ages the more they become sure of who they are. As I’ve gotten older, I haven’t found that to be true. I have found that maturing, like every other phase of life requires me to start over again and figure out how I fit, how to function and how I can contribute.

When I started college back in the Ice Age I was required to take a personality test. I don’t remember the results and in my arrogance, I didn’t quite see the purpose. Later, in my 30’s I went back to college and was required to take another personality test. My results were surprisingly accurate. In a course I took I was required to administer and interpret personality tests for 20 different people. The results were freakishly spot on.

Since taking that course I have administered tests to many people, most of them college bound students, like I was, who needed a little direction in their new phase of life.

So, how are older adults any different? Just like the new college student, we are entering into a new chapter of adulthood. As a college student we were entering into a new phase of life, taking on new relationships, moving into a different living situation and community and so, I think, as an adult I’m not so different. I’m learning to parent adults, adjusting to new family members as an in-law and grandparent. I’m considering a new career, albeit a 2nd or 3rd one. Many of us are moving to new communities to retire, navigating health issues, losing loved ones and making new friends. Why wouldn’t it be beneficial to stop and revisit who we are at this point?

I understand that some people don’t like personality tests, I think they equate them to horoscopes or palm reading. I also think some people don’t like them because they don’t like to have “their mail read” so to speak. They find it disconcerting that a test can reveal tendencies or weaknesses about them that they are trying hard to hide or ignore. As in anything in life, if we look for the negative we will find it. If we look for the positive, we will find that, too.

I would encourage you to take a personality test as an adult. I think we can’t truly appreciate the accuracy of personality tests until we get older and can see how spot on they are. Hindsight is 20/20 you know. Taking a personality test as an adult can be very revealing and encouraging. You may find that you actually gravitated toward a career that best suited your personality type. Or that you naturally found ways to overcome your personality’s weaknesses in creative ways. You might even discover that you navigated relationships very similar to others with your personality type and did it quite well.

If you took a test as a college student you will most likely find that you are not the same type as an older adult. We have changed and adapted to our circumstances. We have been affected by life and experiences. Not only can a test help you discover who you are now but it can encourage you and affirm the person you have become.

I have found that revisiting personality tests at this point in my life, as an older adult, has been very helpful in several ways.

  1. In considering a 2nd career, volunteering and choosing how to spend my time, knowing my personality type helps me direct my work and effort in areas that are most compatible with my type. Not to say that exploration and failure can’t be good experiences, and they have been, but I want to “cut to the chase” at this point.
  2. Revisiting my personality type has given me an upper hand in navigating new family relationships and new communities. Seeing myself more clearly helps me be more authentic. Knowing other types helps me identify others, potential conflicts and potential friends.
  3. Knowing my personality type and my needs has allowed me to cut myself some slack. I find that my personality needs time alone to recharge. Knowing that gives me permission to do just that and not feel guilty about it.
  4. Not only has knowing myself allowed me to cut myself some slack but I find it easier to cut others slack, too. It’s easier for me to recognize and appreciate our differences and not be so judgmental. This is vital when navigating new relationships.
  5. Knowing myself at this point in my life gives me confidence and boldness while stepping into these new experiences. I know what I’m good at, how I can best contribute to community, and what my limitations are.

We’ve lived life, we’ve adapted, we are resilient. Our experiences have made us stronger and smarter. We’ve thrown off the weights and are looking to pursue a brighter future! And I think taking a personality test, as an adult can encourage and help us enter into this chapter will confidence and boldness.

Here are a couple of  links to some free tests, but you can also search for yourself.

https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

https://psychcentral.com/quizzes/personality/start.php

Enjoy!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

Smash Cake Crazy!

Ok, if you know me at all you know that I run about 2 years behind trend. However, I hate to admit it but this time I’m about 10 years behind trend!

But let me say that it’s because I haven’t had a baby in like 28 years!

So, Skrunchkie Gideon is getting ready to be ONE YEAR OLD! He’s so big! And we’re talking about his birthday party. I’m so excited!

(I take FaceTime screen shots, so sorry about the quality.)

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And his Mom said she wanted him to have a Smash Cake.

Now, I knew that birthday kids were having little cakes that they could dig into so that the party guests wouldn’t have to eat a slobbered, destroyed cake. But I didn’t know it had an official name.

Daughter shared some pinterest ideas with me (and you know Distance Family depends on Pinterest) and I decided to try my hand at making a Smash Cake.

I’m not much of a cook but I love to bake and since I’m trying to improve my health and husband is diabetic, I don’t bake much around here.

So, I had SO much stinking fun making Smash Cakes! Now, I’m not a pro and I haven’t done cake decorating in like over 25 years, so don’t be judgey. But here’s a practice run on Gideon’s Smash Cake.

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I’m serious, don’t look too close. But while my technique needs some practice, I was happy with how I was able to tint the icing to get the colors I wanted. I had to add the little mini vanilla wafer clams with pearls. Too cute not to try! I don’t know if we’ll use them, the candy pearls are really hard for somebody with just 5 teeth.

And since I had the kitchen covered in powdered sugar, I decided to try my hand at making a Smash Cake for Manny the Man since his birthday will be in a couple of months.

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He loves Elmo, so I made him a big, red, Elmo head.

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I showed the kids and they approved so I’ll pack up my pans and tools and take them with me when I head out to Texas for the birthdays.

In my research about Smash Cakes and the best icing to use, I ran across Cupcake Jemma and all her YouTube videos. They were very helpful! You should check her out!

I’m going to be experimenting with different icing and practice my techniques so the Smash Cakes will be just perfect before they get destroyed!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

 

Distance Family & The Joy of Pinterest Boards

I have to give credit to my daughter-in-law for this one. Shout out! Woot! Woot!

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Maintaining a close family over a long distance is a challenge and so I’m always looking for creative ways to stay connected.

There are so many things that we take for granted when we are able to live in close proximity with our family. We don’t realize that stopping by for a quick visit or a trip together to the store or grabbing lunch periodically can give us information into our family’s lives that we miss when we’re not able to do those things.

Not to mention that our kids and grandkids change everyday and that subtle information that is communicated when we see them often is not available to distance parents and grandparents. When you’re with family often you’ll notice little things like color choices or hear them casually talk about things they like. When you don’t see your family often and only talk on the phone or FaceTime you don’t usually get down to those little, subtle details. And you only see them through the small window of the phone.  A lot of information is missed.

Especially when it comes to gift giving or wanting to be involved with our kids when they’re making a home and raising kids.

For example, my daughter may say, “I want a new purse for my birthday.” Well, you’re not around to see what kind of purse she’s carrying. You’re not shopping together to see what kind of purses she’s looking at and commenting on.

You’re not with your son to see what styles of sweatshirts or sneakers he’s wearing currently. You don’t know what books their reading because you’re not stopping by the house to see what’s on the shelves or coffee table. You don’t know what colors they’re using to decorate the kitchen.

Also styles change so quickly and what we might think is cute for the baby, they might think is hideous! And we don’t want to be “that” grandmother do we? That Crunchy Old Lady, no!

Well, that’s where Pinterest Boards are our friends!

My daughter-in-law helps me by keeping a Pinterest Board for gift giving. She makes a board for herself, my son and my grandson for birthday and Christmas. She also has boards about her house, clothes and accessories she likes, the colors she’s using, little helpful things like that. So, if I want to go off the board for gifts, I can at least stay in the ballpark because of the things she’s pinned on her boards. Her boards really helped me when my son turned 30 and I needed to figure out how to celebrate the milestone from a distance. You can read what I did, here.

Then I don’t have to ask so obviously, “Do you happen to have a set of mixing bowls in pastel colors? And would you like some?”

Another great benefit is that most of the time the links to where to buy those items are included in the pin. So, shopping is easy! I can just click and buy and have it shipped to them.

Not only is it great for gift giving but also for planning events. Right now we are working on the grandboy’s first birthdays and Pinterest is helping us communicate ideas for the parties. Now I can help with the party by sharing ideas and figuring out ways I can contribute.

If my family has to be separated by distance then I’m really thankful for technology and the ways it helps us stay connected!

Thanks Pinterest! Thanks daughter-in-law!

Peace,

Jill