Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca

Back to School in Five More Sleeps

My granddaughter is going back to school in five more sleeps. For real, in class school. She has been learning online since last March, almost a year now. Since September she has been coming here for school on the days her Mom goes to work.

She is very excited to be heading back, over the moon in fact. Grandma, not so much. Of course, I am happy she is happy, but I will miss her and the quality time we have spent together these past months. It has been a bright spot for me throughout our pandemic restrictions.

We have settled into a comfortable daily routine before, during, between, and after her online lessons. Classes start at 9am with her school day ending around 330pm. That’s a long day for a seven year old, and an over sixty year old, but we manage to sneak some fun into our day.

Card Games

When she arrives around 630am, we start our day with several rounds of cards, while I sip from my first cup of coffee. She has learned, and is now quite proficient at, the games of Concentration, Go Fish and Crazy Eights. So proficient in fact that she beats me often, without me having to let her win. She is very competitive, so winning is important and losing results in a pout and a demanded rematch. I look at these games as exercise for my short term memory.

back to school

Stretches and Yoga

After she has won enough card games, we get into stretches and yoga poses. As a competitive gymnast, she knows and excels at all the warm up stretches. Grandma can keep up for a little while, until the planks last longer than a minute or she tries to shape me into a human pretzel.

back to school

Reading Books

We have been reading lots too. She reads Mia Mayhem to me, and I read Harry Potter to her. Mia Mayhem is a series of books appropriate for her age and reading level, but even more special because she shares her name with the super hero star of the series. Santa was very clever to pick those books out for her. Harry Potter, I would imagine, needs no explanation or introduction. She loves the Harry Potter saga so much that she dressed up as Hermoine for Hallowe’en.

back to school

Culinary Treats

Concocting treats in the kitchen has been popular too with an endless supply of cookies, muffins and even Daddy’s favourite candy for Grandma’s counter and freezer. With doggie bags for her to take some home too of course. Fresh fruit smoothies and breakfast pancakes are other favourites too. Oh, and she doesn’t let me forget an ice cream treat after her last lesson of the day, before she starts the independent learning hour. Today, in honour of her last day at Grandma’s school house, we went to Dairy Queen for their Blizzard BOGO event.

Outdoor Time

We also get outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine every day, so important in winter. Before the snow and cold weather arrived we spent our outdoor time predominantly in my gardens, with a few treks to the gardens I tend at our local hospice.

back to school

These past few months, since our gardens are covered in snow, our outdoor time has evolved to include walks in the snow, shoveling the snow or playing in it and with it.

Cultivating her Green Thumb

Even though we had to postpone our gardening adventures outside, we did spend time perusing garden catalogues, choosing new and interesting plants and seeds for spring planting. We also tend the seeds and cuttings we planted last fall, that now take up the entire counter area in my basement.

This week she has also been helping me repot my existing houseplants and find new homes for the new ones that have just arrived. (keep your eyes out for my next post about houseplants) We also rescued a forlorn and partially frozen large tropical corn plant from a neighbour’s snowbank today, hopefully it will survive.

Piano Lessons

All my grandchildren appear to love my piano, but this granddaughter, as the eldest grandchild, is really showing interest and talent. She has worked her way through the kids books, recently attempting a more complicated book of Christmas carols. We had planned to perform a mini concert of these songs at our family Christmas gathering, but neither the concert or the concert happened, thanks to the current rules of the pandemic.

She did let me record her playing a few tunes though…

As you can imagine, our days together have been jam packed with activities, and school lessons too. Her computer skills are now amazing for her age and she is thriving online, although she does miss her friends.

I do understand the importance of developing social skills at this age. Sitting at a computer for close to 5 hours every day is not healthy for any child. (or adult for that matter)

Grandma will miss the quality time. But not the 6am alarm.

Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca

Jigsaw Puzzles Teach Patience

Santa left my seven-year-old granddaughter a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle under our Christmas tree this year, in the form of a map of the world. Santa is a smart guy, he figured a geography lesson in the form of a puzzle would be right up her alley…

She brought the puzzle back to our home to work on between her online school lessons, but also to prevent her younger brothers from losing the pieces or destroying any progress made, a smart move on her part.

Our dining room table is now jigsaw central. I figured I might as well get some use of our dining room since we are not allowed to have large family gatherings these days. There is not much chance the puzzle will be disturbed there.

This puzzle is the largest my granddaughter has tackled, so far. I taught her to sort all the pieces into categories, in this case, different coloured countries, (the large orange pile will turn into Russia) as well as lots and lots of water in various shades of blue. Assembly then started with the outer edges. Patience is definitely the key here, it took us over an hour to sort the pieces, then form the border.

Her biggest problem will be keeping Grandpa from completing it for her while she is not here, as he is a jigsaw puzzle junkie too. I caught him working on it last evening after our granddaughter left for the day…

Posted in current events, family, grandkids, health and wellness, loreeebee.ca, mental health

Introverts still have the advantage

photo credit to Andrea Piacquadio on pexels.com

This article was posted way back in April when the COVID pandemic lockdowns were new to us, reposted today in frustration that most of it still applies…

Introverts have such an advantage in this COVID-19 turmoil and the isolation, quarantine, and social distancing guidelines it has spawned.  So much so that I find myself wishing I was more introverted.

I never realized before just how much of an extrovert I am.  Or perhaps it’s the strict rules we have been instructed to live by that I bristle at.  I never have been good at someone telling me what I can and cannot do, or when I can do them.  I am getting lots done, things I have been procrastinating about forever, but not on my own terms.

I am missing the social interaction we take for granted that enriches our daily lives.  Whether it’s chatting with neighbours, meeting friends for lunch or coffee, or stopping into our favourite stores.  I miss the actions and all of the people that make them so special.

I miss my grandchildren so much, and their parents too of course.  The sunny smiles, hugs, and laughter from the children and the amusing anecdotes their parents share with us are what makes my world go round, usually.  My world feels like it has turned upside down, with me holding my breath until it rights itself.

Compared to others, my life is relatively good.  My family is safe and healthy. My landscaping business may get a late start this season, but my freelance writing can fill in the extra time.  And, my own gardens may get some extra TLC.

This extrovert is just impatient for this nightmare to be over.  In the meantime, perhaps I should try channeling my inner introvert so I might enjoy the few things left we are allowed to do.

As an update, my gardening business did resume in May, although I lost several clients as they were either working from home and able to tackle their gardens themselves, or had to give up my services due to budget constraints. My own gardens did indeed benefit from the extra attention as suspected, although they generated more expenses than income. I was not able to pick up as many freelance writing projects as anticipated, again mostly due to clients’ reduced budgets.

Nine months later, memories of 2020 became a poem in a recent post. Many things remain the same or have evolved, been reinvented, or reinstated, but some have changed. Some in a positive way and others not so positive.

The judgement, finger-pointing, blaming, and ugliness has ramped up to an all-time high. Family get-togethers are still taboo, especially since our immediate family members total 12. As one son stated, “he can work with his brother, but cannot have Christmas dinner with him.” Where is the logic in that?

As for the positives, a hot summer meant more time in the lake at the cottage. Socially distanced from our neighbours, it was the place to be. Family members came to visit, but not all at once.

In July, when it seemed like we had “flattened the curve,” we were able to gather for at least one birthday celebration this year when our second grandson turned one…

Introverts still have the advantage

Sadly, it was only the second time these five cuties were able to see each other since March.

Also on the positive side, we (as a family of 12) have decided that since I have been assisting our 7-year-old granddaughter with her online school and allowing our almost 3-year-old granddaughter to visit weekly to give her mom a break after the birth of their new baby, (our 5th grandchild, a celebration in itself) that we would continue this support system by allowing the grandchildren to visit. This decision was made despite the fact that Ontario residents have been told not to permit anyone outside of their household into their homes as of December 26. As a support system for my family members that are considered essential services, I feel it my duty to do whatever works for them, and I take great pleasure in the visits.

In fact, I believe my mental health and that of my precious grandchildren rely on these visits.

After all, I am still an extrovert. That will never change.

Posted in grandkids, health & wellness, loreeebee.ca, parenting

Sleep Deprivation: Its Causes and how it Affects your Health

photo credit

Sleep deprivation can be caused by hormone imbalance, sleep apnea, snoring, room temperature, stress/anxiety, and sleeping conditions.  It is a known fact that sleep deprivation is the most common cause of many health issues affecting adults, children, and those in between.

I used to have an argument with my teenaged son many school nights, about taking his cell phone to bed with him.  His argument was that the phone actually helps him to fall asleep.  I, on the other hand, believe electronic devices of any kind keep the brain stimulated, delaying, and preventing restful sleep.  Sleep deprivation is caused by many things, but stimulation by electronic devices is way up at the top of the list for many children, teens, and adults. Currently, this argument is aimed at my grandchildren when parents allow them to use electronics at or just before bedtime.

If you are not getting an average of eight hours (more for children and teens) of restorative sleep a day,  your long term good health may be at risk.  In fact, it is now being suggested that sleep deprivation can be worse for you than lack of exercise….

If you research the causes of many illnesses or conditions including ADD/ADHD, (both childhood and adult forms) anxiety, depression and other psychiatric illnesses, heart problems, type II diabetes, obesity, brain fog, difficulty focusing and/or concentrating, poor/slow reaction time, memory loss, lethargy, irritability, headaches and loss of energy, just to name a few, you will find sleep deprivation at or near the top of the list.

Every part of our bodies needs sleep to function properly.  Our cells rejuvenate and grow, our energy levels are boosted, our brains refuel with energy and reboot our memories, our aching joints and muscles repair and strengthen, and our organs release essential hormones, all when we are asleep.

This research has tired me out, I think I will take a nap to rejuvenate!

Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca

String Art shows Creativity

Recently my granddaughter decided she wanted to “decorate” the dresser in my bedroom. Tis the season I guess! She discovered my sewing storage unit a while ago; the drawers of buttons have been her favourite for months now. We have literally spent hours playing with those buttons. Throwing them into the air and watching them bounce, then organizing and sorting them before putting them back into their little drawers for next time. It is amazing how far they bounce, hubby and I are always discovering some tucked away all over our bedroom.

Buttons are now passé, (although we are still finding them) she has since graduated to the drawers containing embroidery thread, remnants of DIY projects over the years…

I convinced her not to open the “new” (unopened) skeins, but could not resist indulging her creativity, so let her go wild with the smaller pieces. And wild she went!

Now I am wondering if I should clean it all up (just to be recreated the next time she is here) or move it to an area less frequented so she can continue her masterpiece.

Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca

Channeling my Inner Martha Stewart

For the past few days I have been channeling my inner Martha Stewart.

My seven year old granddaughter decided to make Christmas cards for the residents of the Memory Care home her mom works at. I am in charge of making snowflakes and stapling one into each card.

The idea came to her after I stuck all the ones she and her cousin made last week on my windows…

channeling my inner Martha Stewart

I think even Martha Stewart would approve of these. Each one is a surprise as I unfold the paper to reveal what pattern the tiny cuts have made.

She is designing each one of these Christmas cards individually, so each one has her unique stamp of creativity, just like the snowflakes. Each time she gets a break from her online classes, she is at the kitchen table colouring and designing furiously.

I love the fact that she came up with this awesome idea. I saw similar stories on the news recently. In this pandemic gripped holiday season, it is heartwarming to see our children thinking of making others happy.

That’s it for my break, I’ve got to get back to work….four down, lots to go!

Posted in gardens, grandkids, health & wellness, loreeebee.ca

The Simple Things in Life

We have all heard the saying “it’s the simple things in life that are important.” Do you believe it? Has your opinion changed as the pandemic continues to rule our lives? Does the Christmas season impact your feelings on this?

Several events have conspired to make the simple things most important to me. All year round, pre-pandemic, but especially during the pandemic. I realize I have already posted on this subject, but the fact that I recognize the repetition makes it alright, right? That was in the summer also, so the simple things I appreciated then are different than the simple things I am enjoying these days.

Career Choices

It is coming up on nine years since I retired from work in a local hospital as a medical laboratory technologist. I loved my career in healthcare, but it was becoming increasingly stressful. My advancing age, increased workload with less staff due to budget constraints, and several health issues were stacked against me.

I gave up hospital work with mixed emotions; I met lots of wonderful people and have lots of great memories from my thirty years there. Of course a healthy pension and a severance package made the decision easier. These financial aids also made it possible and relatively simple to switch gears into a new career. The day after I left the hospital, Gardens4u, my gardening business, was born.

As you can probably imagine, working in gardens all day, as my own boss, at my own pace, is stress-free and so much healthier. Appreciating the beauty of nature, exposure to fresh air and sunshine, as well as increased physical activity (exercise) built in to my work day are the simple things I chose.

The Joy of Grandkids

It is no secret that I am the proud Grandma to five beautiful, very active, adorable grandchildren. Ranging in age (currently) from (almost) eight months to seven years old, these sweethearts have simply stolen my heart.

The Simple Things in Life

The more time I spend with them, (I have been fortunate to be able to spend time with them during the pandemic) experiencing life through their eyes, the more I realize how important and basic the simple things in life are. Christmas time only heightens that awareness as many experiences are “firsts” for them, or at least that they remember. After all, last Christmas was a long time ago, relatively speaking.

I have always been the primary decorator in our home, but over the years as my sons have grown up and moved out, decorating had become less of an adventure and more of a chore. Grandchildren change that. This year my three oldest have brought the magic back as they helped me decorate.

Enjoying the decorations through their eyes, brings back memories of when their dads were young. Most of our decorations are (still) inexpensive, handmade treasures. We never did graduate to purchasing expensive, more intricate decorations, preferring to stick with the simple, cherished ones affiliated with the memories of yesteryear.

These hard plastic stars are a favourite with the kids, hung over individual bulbs on the tree, they reflect the light, creating sparkles. They also make a great tool for teaching counting, sorting and colour matching, although the kids don’t have to know that.

the simple things in life

Exercise

Exercise has always been simple to me, if I make it too difficult I don’t do it. Whether bending, squatting, digging or raking in my gardens, walking around our neighbourhood with hubby, swimming or just puttering at the cottage, or cavorting with the grandkids, simple forms of exercise work best. When I can’t do any of the above, planks are still a favourite.

On a recent trip to a local park, on a rainy day, my almost three year old granddaughter found the last patch of quickly-melting snow in the park and decided to create a slide. A simple find that created lots of fun. And a muddy jacket and rain suit, but nothing a quick wash couldn’t fix.

Another park visit, on a much colder day, had this granddaughter and her almost four year old cousin “racing” Grandma across the fields. Her baby brother watched from the sidelines with his momma. Delicious, candy cane flavoured hot chocolate and timbits from Tim Hortons warmed our cold hands and tummies between the racing and the play structure fun.

Nature

I have always been a nature lover, just one of the simple things in life I appreciate. My backyard is an oasis of sorts to wildlife. Squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, a variety of bird species, and racoons frequent my gardens, trees and pond. Recently we added another bird feeder, filled with spicy seed to deter the squirrels from raiding it. It is entertaining to watch the squirrels try to outsmart the feeder though.

A pair of cardinals visits our yard often. The male is vibrant red while the female is browner with a red beak. Their red colouring really shows up well in the bleak dormant trees, and especially well in snowy weather. The puffed up male looks really cold! The large cardinal, bottom right, is a whimsical decoration I leave on my deck all year round. The real cardinals seem to like him!

As the pandemic continues to restrict our actions and interactions, I hope you are taking the time (who doesn’t have time these days?) to enjoy some simple things in life too, especially during the Christmas season. You don’t have to look very hard to find them.

Posted in Christmas, family, grandkids, loreeebee.ca, online purchases

It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

To steal a line from that famous carol, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my home. With the pandemic sucking most of the fun out of 2020, many are decorating earlier than usual this year. Me too, as soon as remembrance day was over, I hauled out my decorations.

Outside Decorations

It helped too that the weather outside was not so frightening, so hubby was coerced into putting up the outdoor lights. This becomes trickier each season as the trees we adorn with multicoloured lights get bigger and bigger. This blue spruce was purchased more than thirty years ago, as a dwarf variety, supposed to achieve a height of five feet at maturity. Currently it sits at around 15 feet, no dwarf for sure, but hopefully as mature as it’s going to get. It sure does look pretty though when all lit up, even from way down the street. So my neighbours tell me.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Moving Inside

Moving inside, our artificial (due to hubby’s allergies) Christmas tree is up in our front window with more lights twinkling on it. My almost four year old grandson helped me add the ornaments, three per branch in many instances. It’s the thought that counts, right? I wonder if he will notice that I could not resist moving them around a bit to fill in some needier spots…

Last year, during a Florida vacation, I purchased these four beautiful Harvey Lewis ornaments, embellished with Swarovski crystals, one for each grandchild I had at the time…

This season I tried to order another “J” for our newest family member, the grandson that was lucky enough to be born at the beginning of the pandemic. Unfortunately, it seems lots of J babies were born this year as that letter is now unavailable. I will keep trying, my fingers are crossed hoping more will become available soon. As my sister in Texas is a little closer to Florida than I am in Ottawa, I have her looking for me within the USA.

My oldest granddaughter helped me unpack decorations from their designated buckets (yes, all labelled with the room they go in) and add them to the holiday decor, during her breaks from her online school lessons. Some decorations are very old (the bulbs in a vase on the dining room table belonged to my hubby’s grandmother!), some brand new, most somewhere in between. Many were handcrafted, like the wooden snowman-like guy at the bottom that my middle son made in grade two. He is now pushing twenty-nine years old. The point is that all have special meaning to us. Another example is the fibre-optic tree that was rescued from my Dad’s crawlspace just before his house sold after his passing…

I had to remove and relocate the (fake) poinsettia plants I had inside my fireplace, as my granddaughter was very concerned they might deter Santa…

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

A beautiful, real poinsettia, received from a friend, looks awesome on my kitchen table. The white blooms pop against the colourful tablecloth…

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Holiday Crafts

Both of my granddaughters love crafts. I knew I held onto my craft bucket (for many years) for a reason, or two. We made snowflakes, a la Martha Stewart, ensuring every one is unique, just as nature intended…

My younger, almost 3 year old granddaughter helped me make loops of red and green paper to decorate the doorways.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I’m sure when she sees the snowflakes crafted by her older cousin, I will have a few more to add to my windows. I won’t tell her that I am counting on it. I also saw a neat (and kid friendly) craft on the Marilyn show I know she will love. A Christmas tree made of a paper cone and plastic spoons, decorated with glitter sounds right up her alley.

New Decorations for 2020

Shopping on Amazon recently for ideas on crafty decoration kits I could purchase to make with my granddaughters, I saw these really cute, very 2020, customizable Christmas tree ornaments. Spoiler alert to any family members reading this, I ordered some for each of our families!

It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas
customizable for your family!

Supporting our local shops, I purchased a few items from Wood N Delights & The Country Cottage out of Frankville, Ontario. Lots to choose from, visit their site for yourself for more ideas…

I settled on some stocking stuffers and a little something to add to my Christmas decorating. I am in love with the sweet cardinal-inspired salt and pepper shakers, now on my dining room table…

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Where are you in your decorating this year? Have you started early or are you still waiting to get motivated?

Posted in baby, family, grandkids, loreeebee.ca

A Photo A Week Challenge: Laughter

This is my granddaughter excited to see her new baby brother for the first time. He was born in April, 2020 when siblings were not permitted to visit new arrivals in the hospital, so big sister had to wait until he came home…

A Photo A Week Challenge
meeting baby brother!

This is (still) one of my favourite pictures of this granddaughter!

Posted in DIY, gardens, grandkids, loreeebee.ca

Propagation Project, Seeds and Cuttings

Recently I told you about a project my seven-year-old granddaughter and I started in between her online classes. We gathered seeds from my gardens as well as the kitchen, then tried to sprout them in a mini greenhouse. A month later and we have success. Well, some success.

Successes

Our melons were the quickest out of the gate, and are looking the best so far…

Cantaloupe

Others, like hibiscus, red peppers and lemons are a bit slower, just starting to show signs of growth…

Roots from cuttings

For another project we tried placing leaf cuttings in water so they would form roots. I had read that coleus are particularly fond of this treatment, so I took several cuttings of the numerous coleus I planted in gardens this past summer. They were so gorgeous I just had to give propagating them a try. We are also trying to root some begonias that looked spectacular next to the coleus in containers I planted at our local hospice…

Bingo, the coleus rooted up well, in less than one week! The thicker, fleshier begonia stems are still a work in progress. Eight rooted coleus stems have now been promoted to pots with soil:

Rooted coleus

Potted coleus

Lessons Learned

When many of our seeds showed no growth at all, I investigated further. Rural Sprout for told me some seeds just don’t germinate well straight from the garden or kitchen. We will keep trying though.

We learned to water the seeds from below (inside the tray the pots sit on) instead of from above. This prevents the formation of mold on the soil surface. It also prevents the stems from rotting once they start emerging from the soil.

With the cuttings, we learned to remove all but one leaf from the stem and keep that leaf out of the water. You learn this from the foul smell that the water quickly emits if any leaves touch (rot in) the water. I knew this from fresh cut flowers in vases, just forgot to apply the knowledge to this project. To prevent the leaves from touching the water you can use plastic wrap over the jar of water with holes poked in for the stems.

I have a perfect solution in a glass vase spacer, basically a glass disc with holes in it that fits on the top of a vase. In this case, it sits on a cup full of water…

Glass disc with holes is perfect for tiny stems

I have a kitchenette in my basement with lots of counter space, a sink, and a nearby window to provide natural light, providing a perfect setup for these botany projects.

Come spring we should have lots of plants for our gardens and containers. Any ideas of other seeds we can try? We’ve got lots of time!