Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Road Trip!

Are there two greater words for adventure than Road Trip? Whether it be an epic journey or an epic disaster, the potential for great memories is a given.

As the saying goes, every journey begins with but a single step. So here are 10 of my best steps to having a memorable journey with the family.

1) Maps! Homegrown or commercial, learning navigational skills, geography and even how to fold them, can be valuable tools and lessons for any journey. Go beyond "turn right" from your GPS and take a giant leap for mankind. Read a map!

2) You've got the map, now let each person choose one stop along the way. Whether it be to stop and smell the best chili in the Southwest or a vista potty break, the trip can be more enjoyable with frequent stops.

3) Pack Rats are allowed to pack their own goodie bag. This can range from food stuffs to video games. You may want to limit the size of the pack or have a contest for the most interesting things packed into the pack. Winner gets "shot-gun!" for a leg of the trip!

4) All goodie bags must have one item to share with your traveling companions. This can be a game or food stuff - but everyone must be able to play or eat at the same time.

5) Create your own postcards. Take digital photos of the group at different stops. Find a local Walmart, Costco, Target...any major chain to download photos and make prints. Most shops have creative options or slip it in an envelope after everyone has signed it. Date it and send it to grandparents, friends with a Wish You Were Here message!

6) Travelers Blogs keep those not on the journey up to date. These can take the form of a computer blog (stopping at an internet cafe or wifi hotel) or a written journal. Each person should take a day to journal. If they are too young to write, do it for them but use their words.

7) Interviews can be exciting and informative. Assign your reporting crew to interview different people along the way. Interviews can range from the fellow at the gas station, the hotel clerk, park ranger or a ride operator at an amusement park. Reporters may need help so have a list of questions ready for them to choose.

8) Autographs are a fun souvenir to collect. Like the old souvenir stamps on trunks, you can find fun scrapping ways to display the autographs from random people you meet. A napkin, a receipt or ticket stub can be a fun thing to collect when it is signed by a "not-so-famous-yet" person along the way. A great addition to the photo album.

9) Hunt and gather wherever you go. Put together bundles of bits and pieces you find along the way. A twig from a nature hike, a straw wrapper at the burger joint, sea shells, rocks, moss, tickets...doesn't matter. Bundle them and in the winter months, burn them in a campfire or fireplace as a way to start a conversation about where you found them and the memories of the trip.

10) What was the best part of your trip and the worst is a fun way to debrief after any road trip. It makes planning the next trip easier and brings lots of giggles in hind sight.

Road trips are a fun way to bring families together and just get the conversation going. We traveled across country with 5 siblings, 1 grandma and my parents in a station wagon and the funniest memory was the diapers flying off the top of luggage rack. Now that is a disaster - over 45 years later we still laugh about it. Even my 80 year old parents!

Share your favorite traveling tips with families at TwitterMoms. That's what a wise grandma would do!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The World On Ice

I am not much of a sports junkie. Baseball is my sport. I may have learned everything I needed to know in Kindergarten, but Baseball is my religion and philosophy for living.

But I must admit, the Olympics have always captured my attention. Olympians are a dedicated group of individuals who spend every waking moment, working toward a four year goal of competing on a world stage.

Although not a big fan of snow, cold or ice, Olympian fever is warming my winter soul. The energy, enthusiasm, the agony and glory - all essential elements of life, take center stage on Whistlers Mountain in Vancouver for the next few weeks. The cultures represented are not only fascinating but one of the few times when we are invited to learn about each other with open arms and hearts. Cheering our USA team but recognizing the skill and dedication of all the athletes. We hear their stories, we learn about their countries, their culture and their sport.

Encourage your child and grandchild to engage in this moment of world unity. For those connected, Twitter has a list of Olympians who Twitter. Connect to their experiences in real time. I'm following @ApoloAntonOhno. That's What a Wise Grandma Would Do.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It Only Takes ONE

From recent headlines comes a story of a group of teenage boys setting another boy on fire, over the price of a $40 video game.

Bullies have been around since the time of Cain and Abel. No tolerance rules fail to take in to account both sides of the story. Preventative action such as talking to children about what makes someone a bully and directing them with positive responses can be much more effective. Teaching our children to act rather than to react is tackled on the PBS Kids web site .

The picture book, One, by Kathryn Otoshi can also provide a valuable lesson for recognizing and celebrating each other, even the bullies. One is a unique blend of colors, numbers and counting that tell a story about standing up and being counted. It opens the discussion and offers support for parents, grandparents and teachers to talk to children about how to stand up to a bully.

Kathryn Otoshi is a children’s book author and illustrator. Her work with such filmmakers as Robert Zemeckis’s (Monster House and Polar Express) and as Graphic Design and Multimedia Art Director for George Lucas (Star Wars), Otoshi brings a brilliant visual perspective to story telling. Her book, One, is an anti-bullying story introducing colors, numbers and counting to young children while skillfully playing upon the larger themes of tolerance, acceptance, and the power of one voice.

Blue’s colorful friends find it difficult to tell Red to stop being a bully. The story captures the dilemma not only of Blue, but of his friends, as well. The simple illustrations define the emotions of the colorful friends and feeling challenged in standing up to the very hot Red.

Along comes One who decides to stand up and say “No” with bold strokes and squared corners. One acts and inspires the other colors to say “Me, Two. Me, Three.” and soon there are Five. Blue finds with the support of his friends he can count, too.

A quiet moment of reading to a child, can open up a world of confidence to stand with a friend, rather than letting them stand alone. To help them understand that to make all the colors count, sometimes it takes just One.

Kathryn Otoshi has presented us with the perfect book for Valentine’s Day. A message that is timeless and filled with the spirit of love and tolerance. And it would certainly go well with a heart-shaped box of chocolates. That’s what a wise grandma would do.

Read more at Character Counts and Shelftalker: A Children's Booksellers Blog. One by Kathryn Otoshi published by KO Kids Books, available in bookstores nationwide.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wheels In The Air

Staring out at the fog on the tarmac in Seattle, I am bleary-eyed and anxious to get home. Leaving from Boise last night, the flight was delayed an hour, which translated to missing the connection in Seattle. My choices - wait until the following day and fly standby out of Boise or take the delayed flight last night and sleep in the Seattle airport until the next flight to Eugene, OR this morning.

Cellphone in hand, bluetooth in ear, I hustled to contact those waiting on the other side of this delay, the Alaska Airlines clerk continually kept me updated on my options. She suggested the standby flight as the best option because Alaska could not guarantee the connection in Seattle and because of the Superbowl, she thought it likely some would sleep in and miss their morning flight out of Boise.

Not being much of a gambler, I weighed my options with those who had the burden of canceling meetings, appointments and would have to arrange their schedules to pick me up at the airport. The clerk found me in the lobby and told me she had arranged for a hotel in Seattle and would get me on an early flight to Eugene. Done!

From the moment I was given the news about the delayed flight, Alaska has been outstanding in their service, attitude and accommodations. The hotel was excellent, breakfast on the house, shuttle service to the front door and at the airport both in Boise and Seattle. A rare commodity - customer service.

I will write all this in a print format and mail directly to the CEO of Alaska Airlines. Making it their business to make their customer happy. Yes, that is definitely what a wise grandma would do. Hey, they are calling my flight - gotta fly!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Generation Gap

After watching Frontline's program on Digital Nation, I found myself understanding what this generation gap really means.

For years, I heard the expression and thought it was the difference between parents and children. For boomers, it was a generation of long hair vs short hair, questioning authority and free love. Although few were true "hippies", the boomer generation stood up to government in a way that had not been done since the Civil War. We questioned everything from the war in Vietnam to segregation and women's rights. We did not have the benefit of social media, Facebook, Twittering or going viral with our protests. We used cardboard signs, chanted and had sit ins.

The generation we see unfolding before us is one of nimble fingers and wired brains. We complain that they spend too much time in front of a computer screen or texting to their BFF. While we are trying to adapt to technology, it is all they have ever known.

We worked in grass roots movements, their greener grass comes with wireless connections to communicate and function. Army recruiters are using video games to engage the next generation of soldiers whose technology skills will be essential. Teachers are using games to engage students on whole new levels of learning and comprehension.

Would we have wanted Ford to not build cars? Should Neil Armstrong not have walked on the moon? Should Thomas Edison have left us in the dark?

It is a necessary evolution of young minds and bodies to gravitate toward what they know and to excel beyond our generation's wildest dreams. with new discoveries and innovations from the touch of a screen or the dexterity of the hand. That's what a wise grandma would tweet about.