Supporting Your Community Events – Murrieta Firefighter’s BBQ

We are a fire department family. The Hubs is a retired fire captain. My middle son is a fire captain. We know the drill. Days at a time away from the family. Missing kids sports games and school events. And the holidays……. Let’s just say that we are very flexible regarding what day we actually celebrate Christmas, Easter, birthdays, etc.

We gave up a long time ago trying to plan everything on days when everyone could make it. With a fire family, teachers, and a blended family in the mix we rarely get all 16 of us together at the same time.

So when the Murrieta Fire Department has their annual BBQ for the community we like to get as many of us together to attend as possible. It gives us a chance to see our son when he is working, even if he has to leave a few times on emergency calls!

A portion of our gang.

This year was the 70th annual Murrieta Firefighter’s BBQ. The event is a great way for the department to interact with the community and show off their mad grilling skills at the same time! You could purchase a plate with a very generous portion of tri tip, a super soft and fresh sandwich roll, potato salad, beans, and a drink for $10. Oh my gosh! The meat was so so good. We were even able to purchase a whole, fully cooked tri tip for $20 to take home. Someone is going to have a fabulous dinner tonight. They also offered a child’s hot dog plate for $5. Perfect for the littles.

It’s fun to visit Daddy at work!

The Hubs and our youngest son spent some most of the time in the beer garden. They competed in the corn hole tournament and came out somewhere in the top eight. The beer garden offered local beers for $5 each or 5 for $20. The money raised in from the beer garden goes to the Murrieta Firefighters Association and is used by them to support multiple local causes. A good reason to have a beer!

There was also an area with local vendors. Everything from Hawaiian shave ice to essential oils to bouncy houses! My granddaughter’s favorite vendor was Funny Faces Face Painting. Lorraine Amaya did an awesome job on my granddaughter’s face and their were so many options to choose from. You can find her on Facebook here.

Look at that sweet face!

I love supporting our community and this is definitely a fun way to accomplish that. Great family time and great memories!

 

We Play Games

We are game players. All of our kids are game players. We are teaching our grandkids to be game players.

There are two types of families. Avid game players and not-so-much game players. Our family is definitely in the former category. Give us a table and we will play a game.

One of the best memories that I have of my childhood was playing canasta on summer evenings on my next door neighbor’s screened-in patio. She was a little Italian gramma who we loved just like our own gramma. I loved playing games with my own children as they were growing up. We spent many a summer afternoon playing cards. Often we would have tournaments that would last all summer long.

Now that most of my grandkids are old enough to play games we spend frequent Sunday afternoons playing. I play Farkle two mornings a week with my nine year old grandson who stops by for breakfast on those days. We have lots of fun and we are both pretty competitive. The Hubs and I play Hand and Foot sometimes almost every night after dinner. Games, games, games!

Right now there are so many new games that the kids are into. I love to learn a new game that they enjoy. Quite a few of them are games that all the players are playing as one team to beat the game. Those are my favorite.

I bought the Harry Potter Hogwart’s Battle game for two of my grandsons for Christmas and we are having so much fun playing it. It is a cooperative deck building game. Aren’t you proud of me that I know what that even is?! We really enjoy it because those two grandsons and I are are fans of the Harry Potter book series.

I encourage you to get involved in some of the newer games that are out. I find that it gives me common ground with the grandkids (and even my sons who like these games). Even if I don’t totally “get” all the games I still enjoy the time spent together. And that’s what its all about for me!

Another favorite game we recently bought and enjoy playing is Codenames. This is a very fun, quick playing game that sparks lively discussions.

For a lot of laughs we play Blurble. Oh my gosh! This one is super lively and super funny. It is a fast game that can be played by all of my grandkids. We just change the rules a bit for the younger ones who don’t read yet.

Our tried and true games are Mexican Train Dominoes, Gin Rummy, Hand and Foot, Hearts, Spades, Phase 10, and 5 Crowns.

Play games! Make some memories! You will be glad you did.

 

 

Myrtle Creek Botanical Gardens and Nursery. A Spring Delight!

Yesterday was another day for a girls outing with one of my granddaughters. Spring was in the air and we set out for Myrtle Creek Botanical Gardens in Fallbrook.

This is a magical place! So beautiful. So peaceful. So quirky. And such a fun time. We found lots to see and do there, and we even came home with our own little fairy garden!

Look at this sweet carriage!
Just walking around the grounds was such a treat. There are adorable things everywhere. We loved seeing what each new turn would bring us.

This is the Woman of the Garden.
We purchased their “Kids Spring Break Experience” which runs everyday from 10AM-5PM through the end of April. The $19.50 package includes: a cookie, Myrtle Berry Lemonade, Happy Goat Mountain Access (with goat treats), and a Build Your Very Own Fairy Garden.

We started out feeding the goats. They were very gentle, and hungry! Even little little ones would enjoy feeding them.

Hungry goat!

This guy was checking us out.
Next we sat down to enjoy our cookie and lemonade. There is a little cafe on the grounds that has salads, sandwiches and even a crepe station. Your get your order and they have picnic baskets and tablecloths that you can take and sit anywhere on the grounds that you choose. And, there are so many beautiful places to choose.

The lemonade is super yummy.
Next it was on to make our fairy garden. The package includes a pot, three plants (they have a variety of different ones to choose from), potting soil, moss, and one little figure. The staff was very helpful with getting us started and then off we went. It was fun working side by side with my granddaughter to create our gardens.

Aren’t these just the sweetest?

As I have said before, I really enjoy spending one on one time with my grandkids. When I think of my gramma, I smile. We did lots of fun things together. Is it selfish of me to want my grandkids to smile when they think of me? I think not!

 

 

Bonus Love!

Here’s the thing. I have four bonus grandkids. Our oldest son is getting  married in May. He has two children, she has four. Brady Bunch anyone?!

They got engaged on Thanksgiving of 2015 and that day her kids started calling us Gramma and Grandpa. Love it! The number of grandkids we had doubled. Just like that. In the blink of an eye. Lucky us! Eight grandkids to love.

I have never cared for the term “step”, as in stepmom or stepchild. A while back I was reading a blog and came across the term “bonus child”. Doesn’t that sound so much nicer? I think so. So now I have four bonus grandkids!

Last weekend I volunteered to drive up to Disneyland in the late afternoon and pick up one of the older grandsons and his friends who were there for a band concert. Long story. My oldest granddaughter volunteered to ride along with me for company.

We drove up and hung out at Downtown Disney until it was time  to pick up the boys.

My granddaughter and I had so much fun just hanging out together. It was fun walking around and checking out what ever store we wanted and just being silly. And being girls!

We also had some pretty good eats as well. We started out at LaBrea Express Bakery. We had the clam chowder bread bowl and the turkey mozzarella panini and both were really good and not super expensive. The clam chowder was very rich and smooth. So yummy!

Of course we hit up the Jazz Cafe………..because beignets! This was my granddaughter’s first introduction to these treats and they were a hit. Four of them come in the small order and it was a perfect amount for the two of us. My lo carb day flew right out the door when we bought these!

Our last stop was to see the new Beauty and the Beast movie. There is an AMC movie theater at Downtown Disney. It was fun to see it there on opening weekend. We both agreed that it was a good movie and the Emma Watson looks just like one of my DILs.

It was so nice to have a companion with me for the trip up to Disneyland. I am trying to do one on one time with each grandchild and to find out what is going on in their lives. The hubs and I try to make all the baseball games, school performances, piano recitals, etc that we can, but I believe that there is nothing like that one on one time.

We are so thankful for these four “bonus” grandchildren and the many memories we will make with them.

What about you? Do you have bonus grandchildren? How have you embraced them into your family? What are some ideas you have to get to know them? Let’s talk!

My Little American Girl®

 

I am a mother of boys. I raised three of them. Baseball, soccer, tennis, cross country, Star Wars, video games, jeans, t-shirts, Garbage Pail Kids, baseball cards, Legos®. You name it. I loved every minute. Well, there were probably some minutes that I didn’t “love”!

Once my boys were raised the grandkids started coming. One, two, three. Boy, boy, boy. Love them! And I knew what to do with them!

The fourth grandchild turned out to be a girl. Immediately I imagined tea parties, sparkly shoes, hair bows, shopping, baking cookies and all sorts of girly girl things. Bring on the pink! I have not been disappointed.

Watching her unwrap her first American Girl doll was something I was especially looking forward to. She received it two Christmases ago. She was three at the time. I got her the Truly Me doll. So adorable!

We decided to go to the American Girl Store for her birthday that year. We live about an hour and a half from one so it was do-able. I truthfully don’t know who was more excited, her or me!  Dolls, lunch, shopping. All in one place. How much fun is that for a little girl and her gramma? Her mom, her other grandmother (“Mimi”-who happens to be one of my very best friends. Bonus!), myself and our Princess Glitter Sparkle had a super fun time.

Last year. Look at that smile.

Her fifth birthday was this month and I got her a Bitty Baby from American Girl®. Of course we planned another trip to the store. We all piled in the car, with the addition of a cousin, and headed up again.

This year. Getting her doll ready to eat.

If you live close to one of the American Girl® stores, and your granddaughter or daughter is into the dolls, I highly recommend at least one trip there for shopping and the lunch, tea or dinner. So fun and so adorable. From the first little cinnamon bun they bring you to the flower pot dessert it is delightful.

So much fun stuff to check out!

I really am having fun with her as she gets to know the American Doll® collection. I see many memory making moments in the future!

Thank heaven for little girls!

More bags this year!

 

 

 

Our Style Cookies

Cookies! Grandkids! They just seem to go together, don’t they?

We did a remodel of our kitchen some years back. Back when we had only one grandchild. (Now we have eight!) One of the must have features that I insisted on was a big island with a large countertop space. I wanted it for making cookies with my grandkids, among other things.

That rolling pin is the one I used with my mother when we made cookies together. Now I am using it with my grandkids. Love!

Well, let me tell you. This island has proven to be priceless for making memories. So many memories!

I love a good cookie recipe just like any baking gramma. But time can sometimes be a problem. Its nice to be able to be spontanious when one of the grandkids says, “Gramma, can we make cookies?” I like to be able to say, “Of course we can!” as often as possible. Isn’t that what a gramma does?!?

That is why I always, always have this Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix in my pantry. My “A” type personality shudders at using a pre-made mix for cookies. But the “B” that I am striving to embrace loves this! Really easy. Super fun. And  a very tasty cookie to boot.

I also found a great recipe for icing to use to decorate them. Yay Pinterest!  What did we ever do before it? You can find it here. Its a great recipe because it uses just three ingredients that I always have on hand. Powered sugar, light corn syrup, and almond extract. This frosting is easy to tint any color the kids want and it looks so pretty when it dries. Glossy and bright!

I am always on the lookout for cute cookie cutters to add to my collection but truthfully, the kids like the simplest the best. Can’t go wrong with a circle or a heart.

And the sprinkles! Oh my. So many to choose from and so many fun ones are available at stores now. Not your grandma’s sprinkles. We are talking princess sprinkles, hearts, confetti, superhero bling, sanding sugar. The possibilities are endless.

The kids cut them out, ice them, and decorate with the sprinkles on their own. I love seeing their creations. I’m sure it is good somehow educationally – tactile, sensory, creativity – but that is not for me to worry about. I just want to see them have fun!

Honestly, this is such a fun activity and only takes about an hour tops! So in the time it takes for their parents to go see a movie you can make these, munch on a few with a glass of milk or cup of coffee, spend quality time with your grandchild, and make a memory. Win/win – for you, the grandkids, and their parents!

PS – I always send the cookies home with the grandkids. They are too tempting to keep around the Hubs and I. They are that good!

 

 

Love Letters

This!

I walked out to my mailbox the other day and this was waiting for me. I cannot even begin to tell you how much joy this brought. What gramma wouldn’t love getting this?

Now, mind you, this grandchild lives  three miles away from me and I see him at least twice a week. And yet, he mailed me a letter.

Letter writing seems to be a thing of the past. Email, texting, FaceTime, or a phone call is the way of the world now. But….. there is just something about a letter.

One of the things that I have done with all of my grandkids is to encourage letter writing. When I am watching them at my house we will get out the paper, markers and stickers and write a letter to their mom and dad. We also write letters to Santa and to their Elf on the Shelf.

When they are too little to write I will let them dictate what they want to say and I write it down for them. Word for word! So fun to see what comes out of their little mouths. As they are able to write their alphabet I write what they dictate on a separate piece of paper and they copy it on to their’s. Of course there comes the time that they are able to write their own letters.

They love folding them up, putting them in the envelope, addressing the envelope and putting the stamp on. Then it is time to walk out to the mailbox and put it in. They love raising the red flag on the mailbox so that the mail carrier knows that there is a letter waiting to be picked up.

I also send cards and letters to them. When the hubs and I are traveling we always send postcards to the grandkids from the places we are visiting. It is fun to find just the right postcard for each grandchild. Animals for the little ones, retro for the older ones, funny for the tweens.

A letter written or received is always a good thing!

How about you? Do you encourage the “lost art” of letter writing?