Friday, April 30, 2010

Games, Quizzes, & Innovative Kids

When Brittney (my youngest daughter) was little, she made up games all the time, calling them things like Bo-Tec, Chee Toe, and other cute names. One in particular I remember had to do with placing paper towels all over the lawn and jumping from one to the other.

At times she conducted races with her doll where she would throw the doll across the room and try to outrun the doll. Don't laugh. She now owns her own business.

I think that when kids make up their own games and their own quizzes, they show creativity. And creativity is something I like to nurture. My daughter's creativity is now showing up in her children.

Recently Brittney's son, Nolan (who will be 3 in June), asked me if I wanted to play the Potty Pants Game. What? You never heard of the Potty Pants Game? You play it by setting up a bunch of small blankets on the floor, hop from one to the other, and, using your arms and legs, sing and perform the Hokey Pokey song. (If only I had thought to videotape that game).

I firmly believe that the ability to create is what contributes to the intelligence of a child in a very positive manner.

Speaking of intelligence (love these kinds of segues), did you know that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) offers games and puzzles for kids? They can perform word finds, solve puzzles, break codes and perform aerial and photo analyses. The CIA also offers a "World Exploration" area. Who knew?

You do (visit the CIA by clicking on any of the links provided).

Another way to increase intelligence is by making up your own quizzes. You see quizzes in magazines and online all the time. But did you know you can create your own? You can, no matter how young or how old you are. But what fun are quizzes if you can't share them with people?

That's where Free Quiz Maker from comes in handy. Not only can you create your own quizzes, you can also promote your quiz on facebook, twitter, and youtube. They would be great for teachers, too, because you can design your own flashcards and share them.

This handy little quiz generator is quiz software that will enable you to create unique quizzes unlike anything anybody has ever created before. For example, I could design a family quiz entitled, "How Do You Play Bo-Tec?" Of course the quiz would be flawed because only Brittney would know how to play it. Or would she?

Twenty years from now I could show the quiz to Nolan and ask him how to play the "Potty Pants Game." Will he remember? Come to think of it, will I?

(By the way, if you become a master quiz maker, why not visit a Custom Web Development Company  and have them build a site devoted to your quizzes?)

Photo above is of Brittney holding Nolan with Audrey peeking from behind.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What's a Crapbox?

 We are not a family who swears. I raised my children to respect the English language and they all know that I ABHOR the "F" word – used alone or followed by "you". The repulsive and ugly word will not pass my lips.

Although I must admit, one day, in utter frustration, because I wanted my kids to know I was EXTREMELY upset, I uttered the offensive expression. My kids LAUGHED at me and said, "Mom, if you're going to use that word, learn how to say it correctly."

How can anybody not say that word correctly? It's truly ugly. I imagine "FU" might sound prettier if it was spelled like this: phucqueue. But it's not.

I bring up the "F" word only because I want to bring attention to the fact that cursing is not part of my vocabulary and it is not something I have taught my children.

However, kids live in a world filled with people who speak loathsome words, and we can't help but hear them spoken sometimes.

Well, yesterday, as Brittney (my youngest daughter) and I were having a cup of coffee, Audrey (her 5-year-old daughter) ran out of her bedroom, her face beaming with excitement. "Wanna see what I found in my crapbox?"

I looked at Brittney. Brittney looked at me. Our eyebrows crossed.

"What did you say, Audrey?"

"Come see what I found in my crapbox!"

"Are you saying crayon box?" We don't know why we asked her that – she's been speaking very clearly since before she was 2 years old, but we asked anyway.

"No, my crapbox."

Brittney and I were puzzled. As Audrey ran back to her room, thinking we were following her, I asked Brittney, "What's a crapbox? And where did she learn that word?"

So Brittney asked her why she was calling her box – that held miscellaneous items such as hair ties, crayons, and puzzle pieces – a crapbox. (Maybe the excitement was because Nolan, her little brother, had dropped a bit of his own "crap" in there – who knows).

Anyway, Audrey is an inventive little girl who has an imagination that allows her to gather information from various parts of her brain and create mysterious word combinations. Maybe somebody once told her to pick up all her crap and she assimilated the word into her vocabulary, because her only nonchalant comment was, "Oh, that's just what I call it."

Brittney told Audrey to call it her miscellaneous box, which she couldn't pronounce.

Photo above is of Nolan and Audrey hiding in the couch cushions.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

When Little Boys Want To Marry Their Mommies

 Growing up with only sisters, my experience with boys was limited to what I witnessed in school or at family functions with my cousins.

And then I had a boy. Poor thing. He grew up with a mom who knew nothing about boys at all and, as time went by, he had to share me and his home with three other girls.

What I learned about being a mom to a boy was that boys are very protective of and affectionate with their moms. And moms love their little boys.

Don't get me wrong. Moms love their little girls too, but their relationship with their sons is different. Simply because they are different, boys are fun to watch.

When my oldest daughter had her own son 17 years ago, she was still married. Travis was the youngest of three with two older sisters.  Keeley called to tell me about a conversation she had with Travis.

In his most loving voice, Travis told his mom that he was going to marry her when he grew up.

"You can't marry me, Travis. I'm your mother. You can't marry your mother."

Travis was not happy with that response.

"But I want to," he insisted, as if want alone would change her mind.

"Well," Keeley said, as she attempted to ease his obvious pain, "You can't marry me, Travis, but you can marry somebody who reminds you of me, somebody who is like me, who looks like me, who acts like me, who talks like me, and who walks like me. How does that sound?"

My grandson considered his options, probably running through his mind as he thought of all his potential female companions. Finally his eyes lit up. "I know!"

My daughter looked into his eyes.

"I can marry Grandma!"

Oh, we are such bad parents – Keeley laughed. I laughed when she told me.

Later that day, I visited my daughter and my three grandchildren, Amanda, Sarah, and Travis. I sat down on the couch and Travis made it a point to sit next to me. As Keeley watched from the kitchen, Travis discreetly raised up his arm and wrapped it around my neck.

And he melted my heart.

Since that day, I've been blessed with many more grandchildren, and I cherish each one. So Amanda, Sarah, Travis, Wesley, Jeremy, Taylor, Kaden, Zac, Audrey, Nolan, Ayla, and Billy - your G-ma loves you.

Pictured above are Wesley (on the left when he was about the age Travis was in this story) and Travis (on the right).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Next Stop, Dallas?

 Travel talk time again. I recently spent ten days in Virginia with my son and his children while his wife was in Illinois. She, along with one of her sisters and one of her friends, opened a great frozen yogurt shop in Illinois. Michelle wants to one day franchise the shop and it will probably go very smoothies for her (play on words – FroYo Creations is a frozen yogurt and smoothie shop).

Because her husband (my son), Greg, is still a Marine, they've had an opportunity to live in various parts of the country (my son was also stationed in Japan, Iraq, Kuwait, and other overseas countries). They now live near Quantico, Virginia. She may open a shop there some day. Maybe not. I'm not sure how well they like the area.

At one time she and my son talked about moving to Dallas, so she may one day open a FroYo there as well. I've never been to Dallas, but I hear it's a beautiful city. I've been to Austin and Houston – was more impressed with Austin – and have heard that Dallas was just as beautiful a city as Austin, only larger.

Just recently I came across a woman I used to work with at Billings Hospital in Chicago, who lives in Dallas with her husband. I found her on facebook and I'm waiting for her to invite me to visit her.

OK, I'm kidding. I haven't seen her in about 30 years, but just in case I ever go there (my sister once wanted to move into that area as well), I once again will have to look into auto repair shops for my ancient automobile BEFORE I make the trip.

My trusty 2002 Saturn now has over 145,000 miles on it and while it's still running strong, I want to be prepared, so Dallas auto repair is going to have to be on my list of places to visit in case I run into trouble. Who knows when I'll need a brake job? Every once in a while the "check engine" light comes on in my car and I wonder why it's so sporadic – you would think if it was an ongoing problem, the light would stay on.

Anyway, by the time I can actually travel anywhere, WHERE I go will probably be in my car, which by that time should also be my home. I don't think my Saturn is going to be comfortable enough to sleep in. After all, it will almost be like sleeping on another planet (Saturn, get it? – oh, come on…give me a brake – sorry, I'm on a roll – we are talking about cars and a car sometimes needs a brake job – OK, I'll stop).

Anyway, I can't afford some of the more conventional RV's, so I'm thinking of maybe getting a truck. The Chevrolet Silverado has plenty of room in the back seat for sleeping and lots of storage in the rear to hold my tent. What? You don't think I would enjoy a little variety now and then? I can't ALWAYS sleep inside the truck.

Before you start feeling sorry for me, I want you to know something – it hasn't gotten that bad yet, and before I live in a tent, I'd probably live in a camper anyway.

If you'd like to donate a Chevrolet Silverado to a worthy cause, please leave your contact information in the comments below.

Leaving you with smiles and a wink ;)