new and old LEGOs

My grandson took his old LEGOs and created this cool spy carrier that straps to his arm which I shot with my easy to use digital cameraOh me oh my. It's been an extra busy week for this Sandwich Generation granny nanny. Full of board games, out-of-town doctor appointments with senior mom, Christmas craft projects, and other Sandwich Generation issues. Now, it's late and I'm headed to bed in a second, while planning on getting up early for extra grandkid-sitting tomorrow. However, I wanted to share a couple of useful LEGO tips I learned recently. Great for those of us with grandkids who LOVE their LEGOs!

Lost Lego Instructions? Did you know LEGO.com has many on file? A big help for busy grandparents, that's for sure. But make sure when you print out directions for a set to check a single page to be sure you are printing the whole page. I printed out the full directions, in color, to one set. THEN my grandson discovered half the page was not printing correctly. I had to go back and redo it and it was not the most cooperative file I've ever tried to print. After several tries, I finally figured out that, for my printer, I had to NOT go into the PDF file itself. I just opened the file in LEGO.com and printed directly from that. I also had to make sure I set it to print sideways instead of up and down like normal AND reduce it to 75%. It was still readable, AND all on one page. It's very unusual to run into this kind of problem so I thought I'd share it with you in case you have the same situation. 🙂 

If you have any useful LEGO-loving tips for our grandkids, do leave a note. And in the meantime, goodnight! I'm off to bed before another day of babysitting grandchildren. Have a lovely day as well!

My senior mom loves her Jitterbug - considers them the best cell phones for senior citizens - she got a big smile when I told her I was going to use a photo of hers to help the grandkids with their Bible Memory verses for the children

While my senior mom and I still consider the Jitterbug cell phone one of the best cell phones for senior citizens, it is much too simple and basic for this busy baby boomer. Of course, that's exactly why my senior mom and her elderly friends love it, and for them, it's perfect. For me, as you probably know, it's the AT&T iPhone all the way, baby! I love it. It's my second brains. And on some of the extra crazy Sandwich Generation days, it's probably closer to my first brain! 🙂  One of the many reasons I think that is the iPhone APPS! They are AWESOME. Which is why I'm spotlighting more of them this week!

I love my AT&T Apple iPhone - its great for the Sandwich Generation dealing with the varied issues of caring for elderly parent s

Apps to Help with caring for elderly parents – grandkids too, sometimes – 

  • WebMD Mobile – I love this free app. When I was traveling, and my senior mom wasn't feeling well, I used its symptom checker to help me figure out if I needed to have someone take her to the doctor for me (I didn't). It also offers info on drugs, first aid (yet more first aid books in your cell phone app), specific information on medical conditions, and a search option to find local medical assistance – doctor, pharmacy or hospital. Perfect for the Sandwich Generation granny nanny dealing with the issues of caring for elderly parents, not to mention babysitting grandchildren, near OR far. 
  • AARP – I have three free AARP apps  – AARP, AARP Bulletin (News and Analysis) APP, and AARP The Magazine APP. Feel Great, Save Money, Have Fun. There is one other free app,  AARP Viva Magazine APP. The Premier Bilingual Multimedia Brand for Hispanics 50+ and Their Families. They all offer plenty of senior research information and reading material for the caregiver while out and about on errands – great for reading while standing in a long line. 

My best iPhone game apps for kids make great activities for grandparents and grandchildren!

  • Pac-Man – As a member of the baby boomer generation, I can still remember how excited my husband was when this hit our local pizza parlors – leaving the pin ball machines to grow dusty cobwebs. Now, it's my grandkids who love it and it's great on the iPhone. I started with PAC-MAN Lite, which is free. When we saw how fun it was, I upgraded to the $4.99 version – PAC-MAN.  Among other interesting games, they also offer Ms. PAC-MAN and PAC-MAN Championship Edition. I'll think about those next year if the grandkids play out all the levels with the Pac-Man I have.
  • THE GAME OF LIFE Classic Edition – I have to confess, this is one board game I've always disliked. My grandkids love it but I rarely play it with them for that reason. BUT this $2.99 iPhone app is MUCH better and easier than the board game version. I still prefer they play against the computer, but when I occasionally say OK as a special treat, it's a much more enjoyable time for this here granny nanny. 
  • Labyrinth 2 – The Labyrinth maze continues to be one of the top faves of my grandkids but this is a new and more challenging version including some pinball bumpers. Well worth its $4.99!
  • Rush Hour Free – ThinkFun, one of the game companies we love, has a fun sliding block traffic jam game. I have the free version, currently. If they start playing it a lot, then I'll upgrade to the regular version of Rush Hour
  • Lego Instructions – One of my 3 newest apps for the grandkids. It has instructions for several projects to make good use of the old and new LEGOs bricks my grandkids have and it looks GREAT. Easy to read and well worth it – AND FREE!
  • LEGO® Creationary – The second of my newest apps for the grandkids. They have this board game. I just downloaded it and am looking forward to test driving with them. We haven't played it yet, so I can't tell you how good or bad it is BUT it IS LEGOs and it is FREE so I had to share it with you. 🙂
  • Bricasso – This one is 99 cents and this granny nanny had fun playing with it! I can't wait to share it with the grandkids. They're gonna love it! 🙂

App To Help Us in "Taking Care of the Caregiver"

  • Calorie Tracker Lite – LIVESTRONG.COM: Achieve Your Diet and Fitness Goals – As I continue to wrestle with my weight (currently I'm back up 5 pounds, putting me at a net loss of only 5 pounds – sigh!) and experiment with the Flat Belly – MUFA foods – Diet (the diet seems to be great – the will power of this busy Sandwich Generation Granny Nanny is NOT so hot!), I've used this app the most. I have the free version and just use it to check calorie counts on food items. For the 2.99 version with extra "tools," just click on Calorie Tracker – LIVESTRONG.COM: Achieve Your Diet and Fitness Goals

Well, there you have it. Out of a ton of iPhone apps on my iPhone, the 10 apps above plus those from last week's article, 5 Useful and Fun Apps for the Sandwich Generation iPhone, are my current favorites. But stay tuned. I'm sure more new apps will be released that will be great for all of us in the Sandwich Generation and when I find out about them, I'll pass them on to you. And YES, I would love to hear what your favorites are to help with caring for the elderly parents in the family as well as babysitting grandchildren. 🙂 

Christmas 2010 is over. My grandsons are busy playing with both their old and new LEGOs and loving them. 

My grandkids love their new and old legos

My grand-teenager loves her gifts as well, including her new sweater and Christmas praise and worship songs on CDWii fun with great Wii games for kids is strong in all the grandkid households. And I am loving the sweet family memories shining brightly in new family photos. Some members of the Sandwich Generation may be traveling today, while others are settling in by the fire to read new books and hide from snow, sleet, or rain outside. 

Kind of reminds me of the Christmas story. Some of the characters stayed put, enjoying family time alone with a new baby – one who was the Savior of the World. Others traveled, like the Wise Men – seeking the Messiah. Following that train of thought, an interesting article caught my eye. I don't remember anything about it except for the writer's comment, "The kings continued on." Simple words, but the more I thought about them, the more they resonated with me. Their path couldn't have been smooth. The way wasn't always clean. People who should have appreciated them  didn't. Others who were supposed to help them actually went out of their way to hurt them! Sometimes the star disappeared and the nighttime must have seemed so dark and bleak. Yet, the wise men continued on. And through it all, whether they realized it or not, God was watching over them – leading them – guiding them – protecting them and the Babe Who would be the Savior of the world!

Christmas praise and worship hymn songs and music encourage this Sandwich Generation granny nanny

Isn't our Sandwich Generation life like that many times? When we are dealing with so many different family members as we stay busy caring for elderly parents while raising kids and/or helping with the grandkids, personalities can easily clash. Exhaustion can turn the day into a bleak dark night. And the very ones we are trying to help can turn on us, particularly those with dementia symptoms. Yet, no matter how it seems, God is in our lives! He is watching out for us! He is guiding and leading and caring for us. And when we are feeling particularly depressed or down, we need to cling to the comforting and encouraging Bible verses we've been reading these past few months and choose to believe, choose to continue on even when the way is dark, choose to cling to Hebrews 11:1:

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 

Click to play this Smilebox greeting

 

And yes, as I thought about these things and wrote this article, I was feeling a bit down in the dumps – primarily because of too little sleep due to caregiving needs. Something else we, in the Sandwich Generation, know all too well. 🙂 But as I reminded myself of these things, while listening to encouraging praise and worship music, I did start to feel better. I pray that these words, and the sprightly version of We Three Kings by one of my Grand-Teen's fave singers, Aly & AJ, (click play in the Smilebox ecard above) will bless and encourage you as well. And for more encouraging Bible verses, be sure to visit Spiritual Sunday. I'm going to enjoy some uplifting encouragement there, myself. 🙂

As a member of the Sandwich Generation juggling the issues of caring for elderly parents and helping with the grandchildren, I am wonderfully blessed with a whole “passel” of adorable grandkids, both boys and girls, some close by, some living a long distance from me.

Frequently I find goodies for one set of grandkids that the other is not very interested in. For example, the girls all love anything to do with princesses while the boys will only tolerate them if they have several knights in shining armor and dragons. The boys love building with their new and old Star Wars and Power Miner LEGOs while the girls prefer dressing their dollies. The girls love Gigi Gods Little Princess DVD videos such as and, when they were younger, the boys did too. But now that they are 6 and 7, they only like Gigi if Will – God's Mighty Warrior is also in the video. 🙂

There are, however, a few things they all love and the Leap Frog DVDs are definitely included in that group. They feature a cute family of frogs who teach phonics and reading skills in a fun and engaging way. The Leap Frog DVD set has been one of our favorite series for years.

Each of these three Leap Frog reading and phonics resources DVDs teach terrific lessons with the goal of teaching a child to read:

Leap Frog DVDs 1 – Letter Factory works on the letter sounds. They go through each letter and its sound, all as part of an interesting story the grandkids really enjoy.

Leap Frog DVDs 2 – Talking Words Factory takes those sounds and teaches the kids to roll them into words, along with teaching more advanced phonics activities, such as "when two vowels go walking, the first does the talking."

Leap Frog DVDs 3 – Learn to Read at the Storybook Factory continues to work on their phonics, reading, and spelling skills using stories to help them with the actual reading.

My grandkids really enjoy all of these Leap Frog DVDs with their fun stories and characters. I primarily use these in the car and, as often as I’ve heard them, they continue to stay fresh and interesting even for me. More importantly, I love that they are having a fun time combined with learning phonics skills that will bless them for a lifetime

If you have been looking for help in how to teach a child or grandchild to read, these are definitely good "tools" for your "granny nanny or pappy toolbox." Their phonics resources and lessons are, indeed, a great way of helping in the process of teaching a child to read.

I do have one complaint about the series. In at least a couple of the DVDs, they have an older frog sit there and go Ommmm, with his fingers up. It's totally unnecessary to the story, and I don't care for the precedent it sets. Then again, I have discussed it with them on more than one occasion, turning this negative into a good teaching opportunity about different kinds of meditation, and what the Bible teaches about it.

Four of my grandchildren are now reading, and others are getting closer each day! I’m not going to say this is the only reason, as both families and I do other reading and phonics activities with the children, but they have been an important part of the process. Learning the alphabet, reading, and phonics has never been quite so much fun and watching them together and discussing them is one of the fun and educational activities for grandparents and their grandchildren that we all enjoy. 🙂