As I See It

The Word “Challenge” Is A Verb As Well As A Noun

The word “Challenge” is a verb as well as a noun.

The noun definition is: A call to take part in a contest,  competition or project, esp. a duel. “He accepted the challenge.”

The verb definition is:
Invite (someone) to do something that one thinks will be difficult or impossible, dare:  “She challenged everyone to write a blog post every day.”


This past month I have participated in a Blog Challenge initiated by internet marketer,  Connie Regan Green. She challenged everyone who wanted to participate in the project… to blog everyday for a month. (Verb)

More than 112 people accepted the “challenge” (Noun)….However, according to Connie, only 14 to 18 will make it to the finish line. (Verb)

I’m happy to announce that I crossed the 31 day finish line today.

I have experienced several emotions during the challenge of the last 31 days.  They have ranged from excitement, to exasperation, to board-um, back to excitement and finally relief.  Do I regret accepting the challenge?  Absolutely not… and these are the reasons why.

1.  It has forced me to post to my blog daily.  Now I am motivated to take the same effort and  put it toward consistent articles and blog posts.

2.  It confirms to me that that I have the tenacity to stick to a project and complete a goal or cycle.

3.  There’s been wonderful feeling of comradeship with those who have participated.   The following terrific folks have been so supportive.  They’ve either commented on my blog, twittered my posts or both.   Sheila AtwoodClaus JensenGeoff HoffAndy DolphSuzie CheelKelly Maria Clark –  Crystal –  Mike Shippey and of course Connie Green.

I will be tweeting and commenting on their blogs well into the future.  You should check them out too!

The journey has been rewarding!

And,  a special thanks  to Connie Regan Green… for the Challenge… it was difficult at times (because of Christmas)  … but not impossible.

Til Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S.  Hey… don’t invite me to participate in another challenge anytime soon…I’m going to be pretty busy spreading myself between several blogs and writing articles…. everyday.


The Art Of Listening – Active Listening Exercises For Kids

Teaching your child the art of listening will assist him, to not only listening to you but aid him in learning to communicating with others.  Good Listening skills take practice.  It’s never too early to enlist your kids in active listening exercises.


Be An Effective Listener Yourself

Be an effective listener yourself.  It is the first key to teaching your kids the art of listening.  Turn your full attention to your child while he’s talking to you.  Look at him directly when you’re having a conversation. If you look out the window, or you’re visiting with someone else, it gives him the message you find what he has to say unimportant.

Give Simple Directions

Give age appropriate directions when you ask your child to do something. “Please, put on your shoes.” This is a simple and direct request that a young child can clearly understand and accomplish.  Again, making eye contact with her is essential for getting your point across and helping her to be an active listener.

Mean What You Say And Stay Consistent

Following through with what you say is as important as what you’ve said. In other words, don’t say something you don’t mean.  Relenting and giving in sends a message to your child that he doesn’t have to listen, nor believe what you have to say.

Sometimes Just Whisper

A fun listening activity is, changing your voice level.  If you say, “Shhhh ….Listen,” then soften your voice to a whisper, it will grab his attention immediately.  Whisper, “I love you.” Whisper directions and instructions.  The change of your voice level will often cause a child to sit up and take notice because it’s out of the ordinary.

Play Fun Listening Skill Games

To improve listening habits, play listening skill games.  A good time to play a “Listening Skill Game” is when you’re in the car. “What does the engine of our car sound like?” Let them vocalize what they hear. “Who can hear a ticking in our engine?” “The first person who can tell me the name of the song I’m singing, wins.” Also, let them ask the questions and you be on the listening end.  This type of listening game will assist your child in listening for details.

Read A Book To Your Child

Reading to your child will improve listening.  Reading directs focus from the outside world to the pages of a book.  A young child’s attention span is not be very long, so make sure the book is short. Discussing and pointing out details in the pictures will hold her interest.  If you’ve read the book before, noticed how she wants you to tell the story and talk about the details in the exact same way you did earlier? It shows you she’s been listening. Foster those listening skills by reading to your child often.

Compliment Good Listening

“Thank you for being such a good listener.” Praise is always welcome, and will reinforce your child’s desire to be a good listener. “Thank you for putting on your shoes the first time I asked you.” Small rewards, such as a hug, a kiss, a pat on the back, will reinforce your compliment.

Remember… your child is never too young to begin teaching the art of listening.

Til Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S.   Active listening exercises will certainly help your kids develop the art of listening.  Good listening habits are not only of value to you as a parent, but will be invaluable to your child as he grows and interacts with teachers and eventually, employers.

Cooking Tips

Waste Not Want Not – Cooking Tip For Cookies

“Waste not want not,” as my Grandma Ella use to say.  Well, here’s a clever cooking tip for reviving stale cookies so you don’t fall into the “wasteful” category.

finalcookie11I did a bit of early Christmas baking in December and placed my special Oatmeal Christmas cookies in a Tupperware container and forgot about them.  When I remembered they were hidden in the laundry room, (to keep them from disappearing before the family party) they had become a bit stale.

(By the way, this Oatmeal Cookie recipe is to die for and it’s a “cooking for a crowd” size.)

Back to the cooking tip.  No worry!  Simple put into practice a simple cooking trick I learned from my Grandma Ella.   Cut a fresh apple into slices and place a few here and there in the container with the cookies and replaced the tight lid.  After about 5 or 6 hours, removed the apple slices.  The moisture from the apple slices will soften the cookies right up.


No one could tell that the oatmeal Christmas cookies were not baked that very day.

I’ve tried this cooking tip on other stale items such as cake, cake donuts and sweet loaf breads.

Try this cooking tip when you’re tempted to toss out stale cookies.  Remember, “waste not want not.”

Til Later,

Insightful Nana

P.S.  Don’t forget the apples slices in your container.  If you do, too much moisture from the apples will cause some of the cookies, that are in direct contact with the apples, to become a bit mushy.

Home Decor

Choosing Paint Color – Paint Color Decorating

Choosing paint color is a major decision in your interior decorating because you generally live with the results for a long time, so you’ll want to choose your paint color wisely.

Have you ever painted a room and the paint color on the walls didn’t appear to be the same as the chip you picked up from the paint store? However, when you put the chip next to the new paint job…sure enough you found that it was the same color.  What happened!  It’s called “Color Illusion.”  Paint color changes, according to the light.

paintcan10 paint color decorating tips to avoid disappointment

1. Be aware that all paint will appear a bit darker on your walls than it does on the chip or in the paint can.

2. If you are in someone’s home, and you love the paint color scheme, ask them what paint color they’ve used.  However, it may not appear the same in your home. It will depend upon room size, and the amount of light coming into the area.

3. If you are looking wall paint colors in a store, go to the window and look at the chips under natural as well as the store’s artificial light. Once you find the paint color you love, ask the dealer if they have a “Paint Sample Program.” Several paint companies mix a quart sample so you can take it home and try it out on your walls before you invest in several gallons.

4. Apply the paint directly to the walls you are going to cover with the new paint color. Paint a large area (3’x3′) in the darkest corner and in the lightest corner. Paint a large area on the darkest wall as well as the lightest wall. Don’t forget the ceiling.

5. Watch how the paint color scheme changes as you move from one area of the room to another. Also, observe the value of the color. Does it appear too dark or too light? You might be surprised to see how the color seems to change. One area may look completely different than another region of the room. Do you like what you see?

Observe the color through out the day as well as at night when you have artificial lights on. You will also notice the color will change depending on a sunny day or a cloudy day. Do you like what you see?

Your ceiling paint will always appear much darker if you are going to paint it the same color as your walls. To get the ceiling to appear the same as the wall color, lighten the ceiling paint at least half so it will appear the same as the wall color. Colors values caused by shadows can fool you.

6. If you don’t want to apply the interior paint directly to your walls and ceilings, spread your paint color on very large pieces of cardboard box so you can place them around the room.

7. Keep in mind that interior paint color applied to the walls of an empty room will appear different than in a room that has carpet on the floor and is filled with furniture. Remember, your paint will take a back seat when you add carpet and furnishings. So, don’t become too overwhelmed by paint color in an empty room.

8. Be aware, because all color will appear to change from one area to another, you will not be able to control every nook and cranny.  Just consider whether you like the over all look and feel…then go for it.

9. Even if it takes you a couple of days, take your time to make a decision. You’re probably going to live with your paint decor for a long time. You want it to be right the first time.

10. You can ask for your friends’ advice, but the final choice must be yours. Make yourself happy first…after all, you and your family are the ones who are going to be surrounded with the paint color every day.

Til later,

Insightful Nana

P.S.  Hope these 10 paint decorating tips for choosing a paint color for your home will be helpful on your next interior paint adventure.  I used the tips when picking paint for my home and I’ve been very happy with the results.


Caring For The Elderly

Caring for the elderly is still a family responsibility even amid the talk of long-term-care insurance.  Eventually, decisions have to be made by the family concerning the care of aging parents.

Rest homes are expensive, so caring for aging parents often falls to family members.  Caring for an aging parent in their own home, where their surroundings are familiar, is the most ideal… but not always possible.  Therefore, moving an aging father or mother into a family members home is the next preferable alternative.

mom2 My mom will be 90 years old in March and up until about two years ago she had remarkable health.  After a bout with the flu, her health declined immediately.  She is fragile, and her mind is suffering with dementia. Fortunately, my sisters and I are able to care for Mom in her own home.

The New York Times reports that 67 percent of all caregivers are women and since women generally live longer than men, most of the care is given to elderly moms.

Often, daughters step forward for a number of reasons: because no other family member is willing to step forward or able to provide adequate care, or paid services are economically not possible.

“Our gender norms tend to assign women greater moral responsibility than men for family care,” states the New York Times.

This caregiving experiences has not been easy for us… or my mom.   She has always been pretty independent and resents the fact we are in her home all the time.

Of course, we don’t know how much longer Mom will be with us, so we will continue to try and make her as comfortable as possible… after all, she’s our Mom.

Til Later,

Insightful Nana

P.S.  It’s not too early to determine what you will do about caring for your aging parents.  Because I’m an aging parent, I have long-term-care insurance…and it’s one of my better decisions.

As I See It

Take Life Seriously

Take Life Seriously is my motto.   Seriousness comes from my roots.  I came from a serious family.  Not that we didn’t have our moments of frivolity, but it was on rare occasions… out in the mountains… or in a park.

laughing-girlPerhaps, it was because we lived in such close surroundings.  For my parents, raising 5 girls in an approximately 1000, square feet home didn’t leave much room for “racing around or “tom foolery,” as my grandma Ella use to say.  None the less, my folks were the “serious type.”  We knew our places and what was what.

In seventh grade, I was invited to stay for dinner with a friend’s family.  Oh my gosh… they told jokes the table.  Suzette’s brother was caught off guard and sputtered food all over himself, laughing at a joke.  I, wide eyed,  looked around to see the reaction and everyone was doubled up with laughter.  The mess was quickly cleaned up and we went on with the meal…. cheerfully.   They didn’t take life too  seriously!  That experience gave me a lot to think about.

Seriousness is a hard habit for me to break but that’s my goal for 2010.  While others may be trying to stay in control… manage themselves better, be more organized… I’m going to be looking at life a little less seriously…. laugh more… tell a few jokes, (if I can remember any) and start my day looking at life more carefree and less from a serious standpoint.

Perhaps, many of your have seen this video of a less than serious wedding.  I wish I could I have been so brave!  I’ve got to hand it to these two… they’ve got guts!

Till Later,

Insightful Nana

P.S.   My friend Claus Jensen, shares jokes on his blog, once a week.  Taking a page from his book… here’s a joke.

Sunday school teacher:  Phil, who was the first woman?
Phil:  I don’t know.
Sunday school teacher:  I’ll give you a hint.  It had something to do with an apple.
Phil:  Oh, I know.  Granny Smith!


As I See It

New Years Traditions

New Years Traditions die hard.  Can you imagine New York City breaking the news to the world that they have decided not to have the New Years count down and lower the Times Square Ball at the stroke of midnight?

times_square_ballLong ago, I clung to the traditional vision of a romantic New Years Eve….  having a sweetheart give me a New Years kiss…. toasting the New Year with sparkling cider and singing the traditional song,  “Auld Lang Syne” with the rest of the common horde.

(By the way… “Auld Lang Syne” translates as “old long since” or “times gone by.”  Bandleader Guy Lombardo played the song, for the first time, at a New Year’s Eve party in New York City in 1929.)

Well, my traditional romantic dream of having a sweetheart give me a kiss and singing the “Auld Lang Syne” and drinking sparkling cider at a fancy New Years event never happened.

In the early years, my husband bid me farewell every New Years Eve to sing with a dance band, who played “Auld Lang Syne” at the stroke of midnight and watched everyone else kiss their sweethearts… and toast with “whatever.”

In later years, we usually stayed home with the kids and banged pans on the front porch at the stroke of midnight.  For some reason… I still felt a little cheated.  I still longed for the “romance” of a fancy New Years event.

Then the grands came along…. my dreams came true.  At the stroke of midnight, I am kissed by numerous sweethearts.  And, with our paper cups filled with sparkling cider, we toast each other, sing loudly “Old Ensign” and bang our pots and pans.

Yes… New Year’s traditions die hard.  I can’t imagine not banging pots and pans at the stroke of midnight with the ones I love most…. my family.   You can’t get any more romantic than that!  (I think I grew up.)  This New Years Eve tradition is one I plan to keep around for a long time…. do or die.

Happy New Year To You All!

Til Later,

Insightful Nana

P.S.  We don’t give up celebrating the New Year easily.  We’re getting together on New Years Day… another New Years Tradition.   My delicious, scrumptious, mouth watering homemade spaghetti is on the menu.  You’re all welcome to drop by.


Teaching Creativity

Teaching creativity is a hoax…. can’t be done.  “Ya either got it your ya don’t.”  And… you know what… “ya got it.”

Of course, it depends upon what definition you want to give the word.  If you lock “creativity” in a box with the labels such as “Music,” “Art,” “Writing” and “Dance” most people will fail the creative ability test immediately. Creativity or creative thinking is far more than the expression of music, art, writing and dance. For instance, creative minds have developed the technology that we all enjoy today…. it’s just in an arena in which I’m not gifted.

I’m amazed when I hear parents or teachers claim they are teaching creativity, (which expression I over-heard only yesterday.) I wanted to say, “Get out of the way and just watch… kids are innately creative…. with out intervention…. no teaching necessary.”

If kids get to the ripe old age of 5 and are afraid to freely express themselves… it’s because someone stood in their way…. or had an agenda.

Perhaps “nurturing creativity” is far better expression for parents and teachers than “teaching creativity.”  I’m pretty sure this is what the concerned mom had in mind…. I may have just got caught up in the vocabulary.


For Christmas, five of my grand daughters received colored pencils, markers and a ton of other supplies. They love to get together and make cards for each other and for their folks.  There is no need for me to spend time “teaching creativity.” The creative opportunity just needs to be provided, nurtured and their creative natures will take it from there.

Some time ago, I ran across a wonderful video and would like to share it with you.  It will take you a little time but it’s well well worth it.  Sir Ken Robinson will entertain you as well as leave you with a visionary look at nurturing creativity.

Till Later,

Insightful Nana

P.S.  I have an art studio that has not been used much since I moved across the hall to the computer room.  I’m getting it organized and putting up a table and chairs for my grands, so when they come to visit  they can use all of my supplies and create to their hearts desire.  “No Teaching Creativity” necessary.

Fun Times

Sock Monkeys – Americana Folk Art

Sock Monkeys became a hit during the depression when mothers began making monkeys out of old Rockford Red Heel Socks.  John Nelson, a Swedish immigrant, patented a sock-knitting machine.  The work socks were manufactured for farmers and factory workers in Rockford Ill., in 1890.


The 100 year old sock monkey is making a comeback.  You are beginning to see the icon on coats (Kids Gap) p.j.’s (target) and fabric.  When times get tough, we begin to see the comforts of the past show up in our everyday living.

Even though sock monkeys are being mass produced, there is nothing like a hand made sock monkey from the old Rockford Red Heel Socks.  Every sock monkey becomes a unique piece of Americana folk art because each monkey takes on it’s own individual personality.

My sis, Sheila, has made a sock monkey for each one of her grandchildren.  She purchased a bunch of socks and shared her stash with me this year.  I made two monkeys for my youngest grands… Beck and Rosemary.  I was lucky enough to find a pre-made monkey at a retail store, purchased it, and dressed it for Abram.


It’s been awhile since I’ve had my sewing equipment out…and it was a little like learning to sew all over again.  But, even though it was a bit of a challenge, it was fun.


I actually think the kids parents and I got a bigger kick out of the sock monkeys than the kids did… as evidenced by this photo.  (At 7:00 p.m. on Christmas day.. I think they had hit the wall.)   But… as the years go by, I’m sure they will appreciate them more… if not… I know of a few other grands that are itching to get their hands on them.


On the other hand, Sheila’s grand daughter, Savannah is in the right spirit of the day….happy with her Sock Monkey.

There is nothing like a homemade gift… don’t you agree?   I love Americana crafts!

Till Later

Insightful Nana

P.S.  Here is a site where you can purchase the Sock Monkey socks and instructions for making a sock monkey doll.


Best New Years Party – New Years Party Food

Of course, the best new years party includes food and lots of it.  And, with all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holiday you’re probably not interested in cooking. Yet, you want to serve or take to your New Year parties food that is easy to prepare, scrumptious and looks great.

Well, I have the perfect New Year party recipe for you.  It’s easy, scrumptious and looks wonderful sitting among the other new year fare on the buffet table. This recipe was share with me by my friend, Dana, who puts together and hosts convention parties for large companies.

I’ve served this appetizer three times this holiday season, and it’s been a success every time. It will be a winner for you when it comes to New Years party food.


The ingredients are simple.  1.  one package of Cream Cheese

2.  Chili Sauce. I used my own Chili Sauce I bottled earlier this year.  Now if you don’t bottle Chili Sauce don’t despair.  There is a delicious brand called “Homemade Chili Sauce.”  Yep, that’s the name of it and the label on the jar is small.  It’s 12 oz. of great Chili Sauce.  You can find it on your grocers shelf in a round looking bottle.

3.  1/2 tsp. of Creamy Horseradish,  or add more depending upon your taste.

4.  2 cups of small, Ready To Eat Shrimp.  I picked up a large size bag of small frozen shrimp.  I have to admit… I used a few more shrimp than the recipe called for… because I love shrimp.

5.  Crackers of your choice.


Put the shrimp into a colander and allow it to thaw and drain well.  (After the shrimp has thawed… I’ve patted them dry with a paper towel to eliminate any extra moisture.


Place the Cream Cheese in the middle of a plate.


Put 2 cups of Chili Sauce or 1 bottle of “Home Made Chili Sauce into a bowl.  Mix 1/2 tsp. of Horseradish into the Chili Sauce.  (More if you like.)


Pour the Chili Sauce and Horseradish mixture over the Cream Cheese.


Dump the shrimp on top of the Cream Cheese and  Chili Sauce.  Place a small spoon or knife at the side of the plate for convenient scooping.    Serve the with crackers of your choice.

There you go… one easy, bright, delicious New Years Party food.

Hope you have the best new years party ever.

Till Later.

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S.  If you have any fantastic New Years Party Ideas, please share… I’d love to hear from you.