Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

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Fidget Spinners and Other Fun Grandchildren Bonding Activities

 

One of the reasons I love being a grandmother is that I think of every interaction with them as fun. Just having a silly conversation and making funny faces with my two and a half year old grandson is a blast but that’s another article!

A few weeks ago, reader Leah Hastings of Pure Flix media, wrote in to suggest I post some ideas for grandmothers to do with their grandchildren. Thanks, Leah!

So….Here are 10 fun ideas which are a mixture of culturally Jewish ideas and general population ideas. All are good, but since I’m a Jewish Bubby or grandmother, I veer towards the Jewish stuff! So come along with me and explore these ideas….

  1. Listen to CD’s of a  funny tape: My grandchildren love to listen to funny tapes which are usually educational stories and songs acted out by professional writers and actors and sold in Judaica stores. Really fun tapes filled with lessons on good character traits  are “When Zaidy Was Young”  and “The Marvelous Midos Machine”.These are wonderfully entertaining – for adults and children –and are useful for playing in the car during long and short errands. Play it at home in the kitchen or family room and sit around and laugh and learn. It’s great stuff and the lyrics and tunes will stay with you for a long time.
  2. Sharing Fads and Crazes: When I was a child, it was the Hula Hoop. When our kids were growing up it was the Rubik’s Cube which went out of style and then came back a few years ago when my own grandsons were pre-schoolers! How perfect. Just these past few weeks, the newest fad is the FIDGET SPINNER.                      It’s wild. It’s great for the kids to have something to share with their friends (during recess only, I’m told!) It’s not too expensive or hard on the parents’ wallets.  It’s fun for those kids with or without ADHD. (but don’t we all have a little bit of ADHD?) And best of all, it’s great as a conversation starter.  I love listening to my grandsons tell me about this fad, showing me how it works and asking my many silly questions (they are very patient with me!).
  3. Friday Night Shabbat Meal: Another fun activity revolves around our Friday night Shabbos or Shabbat meal when our son, daughter-in-law and grandsons eat with us. Every week, they come home from school with a handout from their teacher. The handout consists of questions on topics from the Torah Portion or Parsha of the week that the children have learned. My husband and my son read through the questions and when one of the kids doesn’t know the answer or hesitates, my husband makes up some silly choices with the correct choice being the only logical one. This always gets the boys to laugh and warms my heart because I know we are creating memories.
  4. Baseball Game Outing: Every summer we take the boys to a Dodger Game and the boys love it. It has become a tradition for the past six years since our older grandson was only three. It’s hard to believe he sat still for the entire game at that age, but he did. Anyway, we bring along hot dogs from home and other snacks and take lots of pictures and my husband explains the game to the boys and it’s really a lot of fun. Their mommy and daddy don’t come along, by the way. It’s a great way to give them time off. Oh yeah, we are due for that trip to the ballpark this summer, but the season just started so we’ll wait a month or so.
  5. Day at the Park: This is simple fun – we usually do this on a Sunday afternoon. We grab some balls of all sizes, sandwiches, water bottles, mitts and some scooters. And we head to the park and have a picnic. We haven’t done this for some time and just writing about it is making me excited to suggest it for a future Sunday.
  6. Playing Board or Card Games: As mentioned above, the most popular one is chess. I rarely beat my grandsons and the game goes by pretty fast before they “check-mate” me, so this one doesn’t take that much time. But it’s fun while it lasts.
  7. Reading Books – I love reading “The Cat in the Hat” to my 2 year old grandson. He gets really into it and  he points to the pictures on the page, enthusiastically naming  them. We have a blast, turning the pages (when he lets!)  and discuss his topics about the “fish,” and the “water,” and Thing One and Thing Two.
  8. Singing Songs and Finger Plays: I love singing songs to my toddler grandson. I also enjoy doing the motions and watching him giggle, sing and imitate my motions. He already knows some of the songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and others from his playgroup so he’s an experienced guy. Recently we did “Head, shoulders, knees and toes….” and I just adore the way he’s picking up all the names of body parts.
  9. Piano Lessons: The old expression is that the shoemaker’s kids go barefoot, but this piano teacher is not going to allow her grandsons to grow up without piano lessons. So even if I have to give them a lesson here and there when we see each other and when I and they have time, I will do that! So far it’s been fun, if not sporadic. A few lessons on rhythm, note reading and such. They love it, I love it, and it keeps us bonding. And by the way, when they prepared an anniversary card for my husband and me several months ago, they wrote about us “Omi (that’s my grandmother name!) teaches us how to play piano!” And reading that made me proud!
  10. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf: It’s always a fun tradition to take the boys for a cookie or Danish, or other snack at the Coffee Bean near our home. It serves as a special time with grandparents.

My Grandson’s Kindergarten Graduation Takeaway

When Robert Fulghum wrote that all he ever needed to know he learned in kindergarten, he wasn’t kidding.  I had a similar experience in kindergarten just by watching my grandson and his peers sings songs at their graduation.

silhouette-kids-holding-hands

The other day I attended the 5-year old graduation and listened to them say their valedictorian speeches – sing the songs and perform for the parents and grandparents with such clarity of speech, twinkles in their eyes and motions of their hands.  I realized for myself that these kids know everything they have to know already. Today.

They learned it already and they don’t have to learn it anymore. From here on in, it’s just review and repetition.

Robert Fulghum’s list of material learned in kindergarten included sharing, being fair, cleaning up your own mess, being nice and even flushing the toilet. Lots of things. You can check them out here. They all have to do with behaviors, rather than attitudes or values. Behaviors are important because the more we do them, the more practice we get at being good at them. And the more someone who we respect praises us for doing the behavior (kids love mitzvah notes!), the more we want to do it more.

I wonder: After kindergarten, is there is anything more to learn about how to act properly, with manners and politeness? Or is it just trial, error, repetition, review, feedback, practice and refinement of the basic lessons?

Beyond behaviors, there are attitudes and values. Attitudes and values are important because they are the pillars that hold up what we believe to be important in life, and they motivate us to do the things we do.

My grandson and his buddies sang so many songs (they were each very short!) that my heart was singing and dancing. I couldn’t stop kvelling (pretty typical for me but ok).

Songs about values such as honesty, visiting the sick, being nice to guests, knowing that even bad things are all for the best, loving others, and appreciating what others do for us.

These children have learned things in kindergarten and learned it well.  I saw it in their eyes. I felt it in their smiles. And I watched it in their hands that moved in unison.

On that day, in that classroom, at that graduation, those 22 kids dressed as little sailors sang songs about values and beliefs that they will hopefully be mindful of every day of their lives.

Here they are sitting together and watching a slide show of the various activities they did this year representing the values they learned.

sailors

And now? Where do they go from here? We hope and pray they take these values and self esteem they have had this year and go forward from strength to strength.

And to that blessing this grandmother says “Amen!”

 

 

 


Musical Survey and Contest

HARP

Where words fail, music speaks. For the past few months, I’ve been composing music to reflect the emotions and experiences I have gone through with my broken leg and the accompanying challenges.

Now that I have this collection of healing music with lyrics on various topics and life themes, I would like to expand my repertoire. I turn to you, my readers for help in deciding where to focus my energies. Here are some topics that are out there. Please tell me which of the following themes appeals to you as important and interesting.

Rules: Please list from most important to least important and write your answer in the comment section below. Everyone who writes an appropriate comment according to these guidelines by August 22, 9 am PST – will receive a free Mp3 song emailed to them.

Rate the following topics in the comment section below -from most interesting to least interesting, with 1 being the most interesting and 6 being the least interesting in topics for songs

a) Empty Nest loneliness

b) Parenting adult children

c) Coping in the caregiver role

d) Sandwich generation

e) Dealing with life’s curve balls and challenges

f) Recovery and 12-step topics

THANK YOU!


Musical Memories: Finger Plays and Silly Stuff

When I think back on the fun and quality times with my children, I recall the music and singing.

At one time or another,  my sons took piano  clarinet, violin and trumpet lessons. But that process of practicing and performing is not the music I remember as fondly as I do the finger-plays.

The little ditty rhymes that I chanted with each of my sons when they were toddlers. Continue reading


Mistake-Making Muppets

As a child, I watched a lot of Sesame Street. I watched it because I thought it was very cool. The songs were adorable and the Muppet characters were unique. In short, it was a great show, and really held my interest. When I got older, I learned to play some of the songs on the piano, because they were so appealing to me.

One song that was popular on that program was sung by Big Bird or Ernie or Kermit the Frog; the song was called “Everyone Makes Mistakes so why can’t you? Your sister and your brother and….” Basically, it was a testimony to not trying to be so perfect all the time. With the creative lyrics of Jim Henson, the Muppet characters rollicked and rolled to the music while teaching that lesson to pre-schoolers around the world.

I once heard an expert in child psychology say how it is a healthier sign in children when they misbehave at home – around family, showing they are comfortable to  let their frustrations out at home. That is healthier than those kids who are perfect little angels at home, and then at school they misbehave.

My grandson showed us that last week when he was at our house one night and said something to me that was what we call in our house, “not so nice.”  After he said the “not so nice” phrase, I knew that if his mother were there, she would put him in time out. I also knew that everyone makes mistakes. My choice was either to let it go, because grandmothers are not supposed to discipline, or to give him a consequence.

I chose the latter – not because I wanted to necessarily discipline my grandson when he was at my house. I chose the consequence because I was concerned that I would be setting a precedent for future misbehavior if I didn’t nip it in the bud. So later when he asked me for ice cream, I told him that boys who talk like that don’t get to have ice cream. He tried to test me and beg me for the treat, but this grandmother held to her convictions and did not give in.

Since everyone makes mistakes,  I didn’t bring it up again. Nor did I mention the incident to his mommy, and the next time he was over at our house, he was back to his wonderful behavior.

Who would have believed that withholding some ice cream would do the trick of preventing repeat incidents of “not nice behavior” in my little darling Muppet?

And yes, as soon as he showed his good behavior, Mom and I reinforced the big guy with…praise.

We will save the ice cream for another time.


Splinklers and Ekscalators

When my kids were about 2 or 3 and were developing their language day by day (hour by hour!), I loved when they mispronounced words. In fact, I would refrain from correcting them, because it was music to my ears to hear the way they chose to form the words. I found it to be utterly creative. This stage of parenting was so joyous for me, that I recall many of those words and the way the kids said the words.

See if you can figure out the “real” adult word from the words or phrases below:

Splinkers, ekscalators, upslide-down, pubulups, Yes, I’m are!.
Now, that I’m a Bubby – I not only embrace the words my grandsons use (strangely – these boys are soooo articulate that there are not so many of these mispronunciations these days), but I look out for them. When someone says a funny word, I get so excited, and I practically reinforce the mispronouncing! But have no fear, the kids grow up and all learn to speak perfectly well, and are quite skilled in their diction.

Here’s a song I composed together with one of my toddler and pre-school sons to sing at bedtime — he who had a whole slew of words that he said in his own creative way:

To the tune of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”

Splinklers and some ekscalators are working

Upslide down

I tried to tell my mohzer – yes I’m are all the way

down town

I asked her to seal my pubulups

Before I went to sleep

We said hello to Mrs. Habraham

And didn’t make a peep!

Shabbat Shalom!

Have a great weekend…full of speech and lovely communication.


Different Strokes for Folks

This Land is Your Land

This Land is My Land,

From California

To the New York Island

From the Redwood Forests

to the Gulf Stream Waters

This Land is Made for me and you….

A song from the 1940’s  by Woodie Guthrie, and one that I sing to my elderly clients very often as a reminiscence tool. This tune is so popular that a friend of mine R. Seidel, RMT – – has revised the lyrics and composed new ones for a fun song teaching young kids to identify their eyes, nose, ears, etc. I have used it for many a sing-along with young pre-school kids in my work.  Here’s how  part of the song goes: (sung to the tune of “This Land is Your Land”)

This hand is your hand; It has five fingers; Wiggle them around now; And feel them tingle; Raise them above you; And then below you; This hand is yours and only yours.

This foot is your foot; It has five toes; Wiggle them around now: Do your socks have holes; Tap them on the floor now (tap, tap, tap..); Now make them stop; This foot is yours and only yours” (copyright 1994- R. Seidel, RMT)

Now that’s a powerful statement for any kid to hear – especially in song. Keep your hands to yourself. Keep your feet to yourself. They are yours. G-d gave them to you to enjoy, use and treasure. You are blessed.

I think one of the most important things in raising kids (not my job anymore) and in nurturing grandkids (I love that job these days) is enhancing their self image, making them feel good about themselves and helping them realize their specialness and uniqueness.

We all are different. Each one of us has a unique way of seeing things – doing stuff, and handling life. That’s a great lesson for children – and for adults to remind ourselves of each day.


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