Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Wish for You in 2014…….. Be Heretical for Equality, Peace and Love

 Dear Friends,

I wish all of you a joyous holiday season and a blessed New Year. Once a year I have the same post at both of my blogs Marion Conway – Nonprofit Consultant and The Grandma Chronicles. This is that joint post.
Every year, I take some quiet time to reflect on the year that is coming to a close and the one that is ahead.   This has been a good year for me personally and involved some planned change. I decided early in 2013 to slow down my business to have more time for family and retirement enjoyment and I am glad that I did.  Of course as soon as the world knows you have a little free time it is filled up quickly and mine did with a couple of major volunteer responsibilities that are still in progress.  I did more speaking, spent more time with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson and my son was married and so our family grew with a new daughter-in-law.  It was a busy year.
Cookie Baking Day with my daughter and grandson
My son and daughter-in-law on the altar at St. John's at their wedding

In 2014 my professional work will also change – it’s more of a fork in the road than a turn.  I don’t plan to actively pursue work with strategic planning any longer as it involves long term commitments on my part.  I will continue with board development and social media projects for nonprofits.  What will be new is that I plan to write and speak about philanthropy.  Philanthropy – not fundraising.  Stay tuned.

Each year this post usually includes my wish for you in the coming year.  This year will be different in that regard too.  I’d like to share some thoughts I heard in a recent sermon by the Reverend Barrington Bates, Interim Rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Montclair, NJ  (my parish church).

Barrie started his sermon discussing our Confirmation class’ curriculum about heretics. 
The curriculum defines a heretic as someone who holds unorthodox opinion or doctrine as in religion, politics, philosophy or science.  Heretics can be shunned or even killed for their beliefs and they may or may not be right.  Sometimes it takes years or even centuries before their ideas are shown to be wise. 

The confirmands identified and discussed some people who started out as heretics with this definition.  Their discussion included Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Joan of Arc, Steve Jobs, Nicholas Tesla, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Jesus.  The other person who came immediately to my mind was Galileo.

Barrie added John the Baptist to the core of his Advent 3 sermon and ended with these words:  “ Let us all be heretics for equality.  Heretics for peace.  Heretics for love.”

People couldn’t stop talking about this sermon after the service.  It was powerful and resonated with our current times and so I decided to share this with you in this season of peace and love. 
My thoughts for connecting this to nonprofits and grandparents for 2014….

Barrie added equality to the traditional Christmas themes of peace and love – I think this will be an important issue for nonprofits in 2014.  We should think outside the dots and perhaps be heretical in our approach sometimes if we really want change.  I think 2014 will provide lots of opportunity for this and taking the less safe road. 

Now Grandparents…. If you are like me you have some ideas that are quite different than your kids about your grandkids.  Are they right?  Perhaps.  But perhaps rather than the standard advice that a grandparent should keep their mouths shut if they want to have good relationships… just perhaps there are times to speak up.  You may seem heretical or you may seem wise, and definitely think this through first.  You don’t need to be confrontational but silence isn’t always golden.

For myself I am planning for 2014 to be a thoughtful, deliberate and action filled year.  I’ve always been somewhat unorthodox but I’ve never thought of myself as a heretic.   Maybe, I’ll give it some consideration.

Wishing You a Joyous and Blessed Holiday Season,


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Cookie Baking Day with Zach – 2013

Once a year is cookie baking day for Christmas cookies at our house.  I always enjoyed this day with my kids and now I am enjoying it all over again with my grandson, Zach.  Zach loves to cook and is the best 4 year old potato masher there ever was.  He enjoyed cookie baking last year and was really looking forward to it this year.  We had a blast!  But I must also admit that I was exhausted by the time I was washing cookie trays and batter bowls and Pop was reading Christmas books to Zach before his nap.

Here’s some of the day captured in pictures:

Zach is ready to start baking.  Grandma has all the ingredients and baking equipment ready to go.

First there is a lot of measuring

Reading the directions is apparently hilarious
Packing the brown sugar is a more serious task

Even more serious is chopping cherries with Pop

Mommy and Zach have a few chocolate chips before they get mixed with the cookie dough

Mommy is in charge of forming the cookie dough into cookies on the trays

         A pensive moment between mother and child as the cookies bake

After lunch it's time for rolled cookies and first the dough is rolled out

Finally the cookies are ready for eating and giving to friends and family - on the fun plate and on the fancier plate


Monday, December 16, 2013

Games, Games, Games and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Game Giveaway

Update - I am happy to report that Tamesa Sullivan is the winner of the TMNT game.  Congratulations Tamesa.

Once the excitement of Christmas Day settles down, it is a wonderful relaxed family time of year when the kids are off from school and most organized activities are also taking a break.  Whether your grandkids are visiting your house or you are visiting them, it is a great opportunity to spend time together.  One of the ideal ways you can spend time with grandchildren is by playing games. 

But keep in mind that today’s board games may not be your Grandma’s games.  They have props, are action/experience oriented and based on popular TV and movie characters.  Some are even designed to be played with an iPad and downloaded apps. 
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Flying Attack Skill and Action Game

Today I am thrilled to be offering a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Flying Attack Skill and Action game by Wonder Forge as a giveaway.  As the title suggests - you use your skill and there's lots of action.  You start by building a tower.  Then, using the catapult you send the Turtles flying to knock off Shredder’s Foot Clan as they climb the big, teetering tower.  Adults and kids can both have fun with this one.  Even younger kids enjoy catapulting the cardboard Turtles around.

Wonder Forge is a company that may not be recognized by grandparents since it was founded in 2007.  I always like to say something about newer companies that grandparents may not know much about since I personally like to choose brands that I know will have quality products.  This is what Wonder Forge says about themselves:  In 2007 a small group of creative folks with a passion for children’s entertainment came together to develop extraordinarily fun, original, quality play experiences.  Wonder Forge preschool titles celebrate the “can do” in all kids, engaging them physically, socially, and creatively. Our family games bridge generation gaps and build lasting family bonds. Today Wonder Forge offers more than 80 games, puzzles, and apps created in partnership with some of the industry’s top licenses, and honored with more than 130 prestigious awards for product excellence." 

My grandson, Zach, is 4 year old.   He and I thoroughly enjoy the I Can Do That games -  Richard Scarry’s Busytown and  Dr. Seuss Super Stretchy ABC game. They are “down on the floor and move around” games so be prepared if you are planning on playing one of these with a grandchild.  They are not  Candyland – sit in your chair games.  I especially like the Busytown game because it is set up where you win or lose together against the pigs.  My grandson doesn’t like it when I win a game but its okay if we lose together to the pigs in Busytown.  Go figure.  These I Can Do Games will really have you and a child engaging with each other.

Wonder Forge also has plenty of games with licenses popular figures.  Here are just a few:

This Doc McStuffins All Better Game is only available at  WalMart.  

Sofia the First fans will love this one.

In the large stand up board  Sofia goes through the Royal Prep Academy and finds in the charms gathered along the way - learning something new at each step.

Axis of Villians Strategy Game

In case you haven't heard of the "Justice League" they are all the superheros of the DC Comics.  So in this game Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and the Flash work together to defeat the villians before the destroy the Justice league and their headquarters.  It takes teamwork, strategy and each hero's unique powers to save the earth.

Giveaway Details
It is easy to enter and there are two ways.   I need to be able to contact you if you win. If you enter -  email me with your email address at marion@grandmachronicles.com.  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.

Leave a comment here on the blog 

You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: December 22, 2013 at midnight. The winner will be selected using random.org.

 This item can be sent to US addresses only.

Full Disclosure:  This review is completely my own opinion and I was not reimbursed for it in any way.  I did receive review samples of some Wonder Forge games.  I also saw the full line display at the Toy Fair in New York in February.

You can purchase Wonder Forge games from all the major retailers and at Amazon.  Some games are at specific retailers only and so I do not have links to Amazon for all those mentioned in this review. Some Amazon links are provided below.