Friday, March 29, 2013

Two Families - Passover and Holy Week Tradition Continues....

When our kids were young we joined with close friends who also had two kids in the same age bracket and started a yearly tradition of holding a Passover meal coupled with a Christian communion service.  The Passover meal is considered to be the meal celebrated with Jesus and his Apostles on Holy Thursday.  Celebrating the Passover traditions and coupling it with Christian rituals is an enriching experience for people in the Christian tradition and connects us to our Jewish roots.  Our children always enjoyed this special evening but we haven’t done it in a long time.

Two of our daughters, now both 32 years old and married with young boys were interested in doing this again.  The grandparents – on both sides – felt great that the girls remembered this so fondly and wanted their children to experience it but we were concerned about how it would work with a 2 (James) and 3 (Zach) year old.  We liked the idea and decided to proceed cautiously and be flexible.

Fortunately, the other grandmother, Joan, was a Kindergarten teacher for over 25 years and had resources and a good sense of what would work.  Joan had a Passover flap book and she put together a script for the meal and ceremony using this book and other resources.
We gathered at our house at 4 PM.  It was the first time the boys were meeting each other and they had some play time together.  

Then we went to the living room and each family of three generations sat together.  Joan read the Passover book and each boy took turns opening the flaps.  They sat and listened attentively.  Then we went to the dining room table for our own Passover.  The adults had the script and we took turns reading.  The table had two platters with the Passover foods.  The boys had small wine glasses with cranberry juice and the adults had wine.   

As we described each food the boys had a chance to sample the various foods.  James especially liked the parsley dipped in salt water and Zach like chopped apples/nuts that James’ grandfather had made. They  drank their juice as we drank our wine.
Both boys went together to open the front door.  And they each found an afikomen hidden in the living room.  

After the Passover service, we enjoyed a family meal together – two families – now three generations together.  Bonding in a special way and as Joan says – there were so many modalities for learning for the boys – listen, touch, smell and taste.

This was such a wonderful experience for our families - I really can't overrate it.  I am so glad that we started this 25 years ago and re-initiated it last weekend.  10 people, 2 families, 3 generations celebrating and enjoying a religious and historically cultural experience together.  Joan made it PERFECT.  She knew exactly the way to engage two young children and make them enjoy and be an integral part of this experience.

I am writing this today to encourage you to adapt your religious and spiritual rituals for the young children in your families and to establish traditions.  I am a tradition buff – but always willing to adapt them to new realities of life.  The grandparents in this group were surprised but proud and elated that our kids wanted to pass on the tradition that we started with them and I wish you well with your own traditions.  Please share them in the comments.

Biblical References
Old Testament:   Exodus 12:1-14
New Testament:   John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Peek ‘n Peep Eggs Review and Giveaway – Great Easter Basket Idea

Spring will be here soon and we all will be looking for some new and interesting toys for the season.  In our family that also means finding something interesting for Easter baskets.  I am a fan of Easter baskets without too much candy.  I always put a great deal of thought into this for my kids and now I am thinking about it for my grandson, Zach who is almost four years old.   In the recent past there have been Trash Pack eggs and a Dinosaur Train egg that had to be left in water and Buddy emerged after a few days.  Zach loved both of these.

This year my “Easter Basket” giveaway is great for a very young child and as I learned from my grandson, Zach, three year olds like it too.  I saw the Peek ‘n Peep Eggs by KidOozie at Toy Fair in NY in February at the International Playthings booth.  I immediately knew it would be my favorite for an Easter Basket idea giveaway.  This is my third year for such a giveaway so I guess it’s a feature of The Grandma Chronicles now.

This cute, compact, inexpensive toy has a lot going for it.  The package says 12 months plus, but I think any child who can sit up will enjoy it and so will four year olds.  The package wisely has a picture of the toy and not a child so it doesn’t scream that it is for a certain age.  Here’s the description that my pictures help describe better than my words can.
It is a bright yellow, pliable six pack egg carton with faces peeking through the top. 

Each egg shell opens to a colorful egg which squeaks when you press it.  Each egg has a different shape bottom so it only fits in one space properly.   A young child can enjoy the colors and hearing the sounds and then fitting the top shell on just right. 

 An older child learns the shapes by fitting the eggs into the right holes and enjoy counting the eggs.  Three and four year olds will want to match the facial expressions of the colored eggs with the white shells.  This was easy for my grandson but he enjoyed the multilevel matching aspects of the  Peek n’ Peep Eggs.

I wasn’t planning on giving Zach this toy because I thought he was too old for it.  I had left it next to my computer because it just came in the mail and I planned to review it for today’s blog post.  He came to visit and he and my husband found it and they opened it together.  Later when he was in my office with me, he showed me where he had already found a place for it with his toys, opened it, and demonstrated how it worked.  Zach loves transformers and rescue bots so how things transform and work is what interests him.  My husband weighed in with this when he emailed me the pictures for this post:  I really like this toy. And clearly Zach likes it too. It has several cleaver and attractive things about it.”
Extras from a Grandmother’s perspective:  
 1) No batteries! This simple toy does not light up or talk and sing, but it will hold the attention of children because of its simple challenges and ability to master it.  
 2) It’s lightweight and easily thrown in the bag going to Grandma’s house.  Or if you keep it at your house, it’s compact and easy to store.  
 3) It’s cute – grandparents love cute.

So… I highly recommend finding non candy things for your Easter baskets.  This is especially important for very young children.  And they really do have enough plush animals – really.  Peek ‘n Peep Eggs is a great item to feature in your holiday celebration – even if you don’t celebrate Easter.  
Giveaway Details
It is easy to enter and there are multiple ways.  Remember I need to be able to contact you if  you win.
1    Leave a comment here on the blog and email me with your email address at  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.
2   Like The Grandma Chronicles facebook page here.
  If you do both, you will have two entries.  Deadline to enter: March 21, 2013 at midnight. The winner will be selected using

Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary Peek ‘n Peep Eggs. This review is completely my own opinion and I was not reimbursed for it.

Check these non candy ideas at Amazon.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mentoring – Nonprofits, Grandmas and Grandpas Let’s Unite

I very seldom write an article that spans across my Grandma Chronicles and professional -Nonprofit Blogs.  But once in a while inspiration hits and out comes a blog post such as this one.  It It is being published at The Grandma Chronicles and Nonprofit Capacity Building. The question is:  “Should you and nonprofits  get involved with mentoring?”  It actually can be a lot of work to get started and sustained and takes a very strong leader who inspires, has good organization and is willing to work hard on the project for it to work.  Sounds a bit discouraging, doesn’t it?  But is it worth it?  The answer is a resounding yes!

Two of my sisters that I spent most of the day with on our recent trip to Broadway.  Here they are on the PATH on our way into NYC
First, the source of inspiration for this post.  I am involved with the mentoring program at my high school, St. Vincent Academy in Newark, NJ.  As a participant it is very easy and I just get to enjoy myself.  But the leader of this program does an incredible amount of research, planning, budgeting, encouraging mentors, arranging group tours and making it happen.  Twice a year, mentors – alumnae and members of the Advisory Board – go on trips with an equal number of girls who are currently high school students at St. Vincent’s.  The alumnae usually range from those who are out of high school for 10 years to over 50 years.

Once a year we go to a Broadway show with dinner and on another day – one that is not a school day - we go on a full day outing that our leader, Mary Gannon, has arranged.  We have gone to Yankee Stadium, the Botanical Gardens, museums, a Coast Guard station complete with touring two Coast guard boats and more.  Mary always includes some browsing/shopping times which girls of all ages love and a morning and afternoon activity.  Sometimes there’s a bonus like bowling or riding a merry go round.

We often get looks because we seem like an unusual group.  There appears to be an almost equal number of older white women and mostly minority young women.  We don’t look like a standard school trip because we are just all socializing together rather than being adult chaperones and students.  There are also too many adults to just be chaperones. Sometimes someone will look for a few moments and then ask – “What kind of a group are you anyway?”  We talk about careers, our families, raising families and having careers or being active with volunteering.  We also get questions about what the prom was like back then and learn about what it is like now. Some of our mentors were star basketball players in their day and that always makes for an interesting conversation.  If you need it, it’s a good opportunity to get a little smart phone  tutoring.   Did we have some of the older teachers?  Some of us were students with one of their teachers.  It is always the best day ever.

Mentoring doesn’t have to be based on tutoring, leadership development, careers or some other focused goal.  I do and like that kind of mentoring too.    But this bonding with girls that I have so much in common with and yet have differences with has something so special about it.  I can’t find the few words to capture it.  But we cross generations, cultures and economics and explore our common experience.  They are interested in our past and we are interested in their future.  Colleges and careers enter into easy conversation – not formal counseling.

I am looking forward to getting involved with a more formal mentoring program at St. Vincent’s but this will always be one of my favorite things to do.

So….Grandparents and nonprofits.  I urge you to get involved in mentoring.  It doesn’t have to be a formal focused program.  It is not just rewarding – it is fun and will lead to new friendships that you never imagined.  If you don’t know of a local program think about started one at a local nonprofit.  I can’t just say, “Oh, it’s easy.”  But I can say, “It’s well worth it.”

If you are interested in starting a mentoring program there are excellent resources available.  Probably the best known is the National Mentoring Partnership – found online at  They have remarkable resources and a huge network available to help you find a program near you or to start and sustain a program.  Check it out.
My grandson, Zach, is three years old.  Those of you who read this blog know that he is the joy of my life.  I am also enjoying my time spent with teenagers.  It is very different being in a mentoring role than an authority role.  Even if you are busy,  I highly recommend checking out mentoring opportunities.  And please do share your mentoring activities with us by leaving your comments.