Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Backyard TMNT 6th Birthday Party

Earlier this month we hosted our grandson’s sixth birthday party.  It was an old fashioned backyard party.  I am more convinced than ever that even today this is the best kind of birthday party.  Kids have lots of organized activities and not enough free time to just be themselves and naturally creative.  The parents also enjoyed the ability to be outside and social with other adults rather than standing in the back watching the organized activities.  Here how the day went:

Zach helped bake and decorate his TMNT Birthday Cake

The party had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme’ and Zach came early to help bake and decorate the cake.  Pillsbury now has prepared frosting in colors including “TMNT Green.”  Zach was proud of this homemade cake.  Just like his Mom, he wanted a homemade cake rather than a store bought one. 

When the party goers arrived, they immediately got involved with free play.  The yard still has the swings that my kids used and a new addition is the Little Tikes Alligator seesaw hand-me-down from my niece.  The small plastic pool filled with small plastic balls completed the setup.  Everyone got a Ninja Turtle mask when they arrived so they could get in character if they chose to.

About half the kids were girls so we set up a table with some fancy beads to make jewelry for anyone who preferred that to running around and sure enough that was a popular activity too. Some of the boys were interested too.

Pop was at the grill and cooked hot dogs and hamburgers for the kids and adults too.  Everybody was ready for lunch when it was ready.

After lunch there was more free play and party games.  The games were very popular.  There was “Pin the Pizza on TMNT Michaelangelo” which is an updated version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey and a ring toss. 

Pin the Pizza on TMNT Michaelangelo - What great fun!

Finally it was time to sing Happy Birthday and have the cake.

The kids chose their favorite TMNT character mask

Some of Zach’s fans gave him a hug before they left.  I don’t have pictures of the goody bags but they were TMNT cups (reuseable) with favors in them.

Yes, this was a lot more work than taking 13 kindergarteners (plus a few siblings) to an organized party place.  But it was also a lot more fun for all. Definitely worth it -  I highly recommend it.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Chefs and No Kid Hungry - Riding Together

If you follow The Grandma Chronicles on Facebook (click to go to page and like now) you know that I re-post posts by No Kid Hungry. No Kid Hungry is a major campaign to provide meals to children by the national Share Our Strength organization – one of my favorite charities.  This is especially important this time of year because so many kids depend on meals they receive at school and during summer vacation their access to regular meals is in jeopardy.  No Kid Hungry sponsors a major summer feeding program to provide thousands of kids food security during the summer. I hate to think of any child being hungry during the summer vacation - that just shouldn't happen.

The No Kid Hungry Chef's Cycle is a huge event coming up that you can to be part of.  You can find out all the details here - Nearly 50 chefs and restaurant industry professionals are riding bikes 300 miles to raise funds and awareness for No Kid Hungry. There will actually be two 300 mile bike rides and you can sponsor an individual rider for either event. The East Coast ride will be from New York to Washington, DC on t June 7-9 and the West Coast ride is from Santa Barbara to San Diego on June 14-16.

 If you are on twitter, follow and post with the hashtag #chefscycle.  You can help by sponsoring a chef and also spreading the word on social media.

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Trip to Provence and Cote d'Azur, France

If it seems like it has been quiet here at The Grandma Chronicles recently it has been because I was on vacation in France – Paris (Just briefly), Provence and the French Riviera.  I traveled with a women’s travel group – Women Traveling Together – since my husband was not interested in this trip. I had a great time and enjoyed all of it.  Here are some pictures and highlights.

We visited a number of small towns with historical things to see span whole different periods of history.  The Romans came to Provence and Cote d’Azur (Riviera) in 121 BC and stayed for 500 years.  You can see a coliseum,  columns and ruins of Roman baths still standing.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from that period.

During that middle ages, Counts and Knights ruled and built fortified castles usually on hillsides and many small towns and villages still existing today grew up around them.  You can visit castles, monestaries, old churches and more from this timeframe throughout the region.

Avignon was the home of popes in the 1300s and was owned by the papacy until the French Revolution.  It is a walled city – from medieval times – and has the famous Popes’ Palace.  It was definitely something to walk through the building which is intact and marvel at the sophistication and size of the construction.  Today Avignon is a busy city with 12,000 people living inside the walls and 78,000 living outside.  The first floor of many buildings have become modern stores, banks, restaurants and cafes and the facades of the upper portions remain intact while modernized inside for modern inhabitation.  Avignon –and surrounding area – was owned by the Papacy and never part of the French kingdom.  They do think of themselves as a separate place that does not have the French kingdom in its history. For example there are no Fleur-de-lis as this was originally associated with the French kingdom and Provence does not all associate itself with that time in French history.  In Paris and parts of northern france wyou will still see a lot of Fleur-de-lis decoration.

There is the history associated with the French Revolution – this is when Provence became part of France.  The church was outlawed in this time and many churches became government buildings and today some of them are schools, hospitals and civic buildings.  This monestary was bought by one owner and given back to the monks many years later when the church was able to re-establish itself in France.

One of the most interesting facets of Provence is that is is so beautiful and inspired so many well known artists.  Arles was home to Van Gogh and they have pictures of his paintings at several of the scenes he painted that are still there – here are two of them.

Cezanne painted the beautiful landscape and we visited a church with three Reubens.  The sculpture everywhere is just gorgeous.  If you are interested in art, you will definitely appreciate a trip to Provence.

We ended our tour with a visit to Cannes and Nice on the Mediterranean sea.  In these bustling towns historical old towns and modern cities exist coherently side by side as if neither was out of place.  There is a continuum of time that seems to work just fine.

Outside the hall where the Cannes Film Festival is held

If you stay on your yacht you can just walk over the the Cannes Film Festival

Approaching Nice

Train Station in Nice

Sculpture in Nice Main Square

Sculpture in Nice Main Square

In all of these places the food is just indescribable.  The food is grown locally, the fish is caught locally and everything is farm fresh and prepared to be a visual delight.  One of the things I enjoyed most on this trip was the many times I just sat at an outdoor cafĂ© and enjoyed lunch or dinner on a picturesque small “rue” and watched life go by.  

Market Day in Grasse

The trips included a visit to an olive farm, winery, lavender factory and perfume factory.
Meet the winemaker

And this is the picture of my grandson that went with me everywhere on the trip.:

Will I return?  Oh yes – but I will choose one or two places to visit and just appreciate the local culture.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Raggedy Ann 100th Anniversary Winner and More Stories

Usually if I have a giveaway, I just have an update on top of the blog with the winner’s first name and notice that the giveaway is closed.  However, the responses to the 3 Raggedy Ann and Andy 100th Anniversary Doll giveaway garnered so many personal stories and stories of lifetime interest in Raggedy Ann that I just had to write another article about the winner and the blog comments about this giveaway. 

The winner of the dolls is Greta Eber. This was Greta’s comment on my blog: “I have been collecting Raggedy Ann since I was 2 years old and now as a stay at home mom of 4, I make Raggedy Anns for friends and fellow collectors. Love hearing from other collectors! Thanks!”

I asked Greta if she would tell us a little bit about her history with Raggedy Ann for this post.   Here is what Greta had to say:

I received my first Raggedy Ann for my 2nd birthday.  My mom had a little lady from church make her for me and I took "Aggie" everywhere I went.  When I wore the first doll out, the lady made me a second doll and eventually a 3rd.  I still have my original homemade girls.  I got my first "store bought" Ann when I was 6 and she has been to college with me and even went to the hospital when I had all 4 of my kids.  Over the years, I've picked up Raggedy Anns here and there and have had many dolls given to me.  Last year I made my first ever Raggedy Ann and took her to the Raggedy Rally in Arcola, IL.  Since then I've made around 20 Raggedy Anns and Andys and some Camels.  I love that Raggedy Ann is soft, durable, and perfect for cuddling.  My daughter is now starting to enjoy Raggedy Ann and she will be going to the Rally with me this year in June.”

Here is Greta with her first Raggedy Ann doll - Isn't she cute?

I wonder if Greta and her daughter will be bringing any new Raggedy Anns with them?  I had no idea - This is just remarkable.  I am so delighted that Greta won the dolls.  Greta blogs about her family at and she has lots to share as the mother of 4.

Kathy Ellis left a comment on my facebook page  announcing this year's Raggedy Ann Rally with a huge celebration for her 100th anniversary.  Learn more here.    And if you go, please post pictures here and on my facebook page for all to enjoy.

To tell the truth – I have never felt this way with ANY giveaway – but I wish I had a hundred to give away – I know that all would have found wonderful homes with everyone who left a comment.

This post brought back many happy memories described by commenters.  They also had handmade dolls, Raggedy Ann bedspreads, and Halloween costumes.  Some posters still have their dolls and would like to be able to give one to a daughter or granddaughter.
Here are some of the touching comments made on the original giveaway post:

Heather said, “Thank you for this beautiful background and the giveaway. My mom would love these. She is a military wife (my dad is now retired) and I am also now a proud military wife. Throughout all of our moves, somewhere my mom lost her beloved Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. The stars and stripe theme would be meaningful and my parents anniversary party is coming up in two weeks. I could not imagine adding this to the gift list! :)”

Aliza said, “I remember when I was little (in the 80's) everyone loved Raggedy Ann. My aunts made me a twin blanket that has Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy and a pillowcase to match. To this day I have them and use them on my bed still. It brings back such good memories of my loving family.”

Amy said, “Thank you for this wonderful giveaway! When I was younger my mum used to read us kids raggedy anne stories every night before bed. She made my childhood wonderful!”

Teresa said, “I took my daughter to see the Raggedy Ann & Andy Museum in Arcola, Illinois when we were visiting family. That was about 6 or 7 years ago. I think it is closed now. The granddaughter of the creator of the dolls, Joni signed a Raggedy Ann doll for my daughter. I remember my Raggedy Ann I had as a child.”

Ricci said, “OMG! Seeing this post brought back a lot of memories! I had a Raggedy Ann and Andy doll set that I loved to pieces! I would love to win this for my daughter!”

Thanks to everyone who commented on the Raggedy Ann giveaway post.  I hope it made you smile and remind you of your own experience.  Even if you didn’t win you can still buy an anniversary doll or treasury of stories book.  See the links below.