Monday, September 12, 2011

Grandparents Day 2011 - Building Memories

Yesterday was Grandparents Day in the United States and I had the pleasure of spending the previous day with my two grandkids. At ages 6 and 7, they are young enough to enjoy being with Grandma and old enough to carry on some lovely conversations. I love that we are building memories together.

In preparation for my visit, I packed up my usual Bag of Tricks to keep things lively. Anything not used for one trip is saved for the next one, so nothing ever goes to waste.

Here are some of the items in the bag:
Books are some of my favorite diversions. Whether I read to the kids, they read to me, or we take turns reading, it’s always fun. Sometimes, the hardest part now is finding books for a girl and a boy to both enjoy. The selection this time happened to be a children’s version of the Roman Catholic Mass. As both their Godmother and Grandmother, the dual role can sometimes be a little tricky. Fortunately, these little books were a hit with both of them.

Having given the grandchildren many books over the years, they now have a lovely collection of them. Invariably, we’ll also read through several of their (and my) favorites, whether it’s Yertle the Turtle or The Velveteen Rabbit.

I always try to bring a couple of age-appropriate games or activities. The kids love to color, so I printed off some Grandparents Day pages from a greeting card to color and fold, as well as a word search puzzle. It turned out my granddaughter really liked the card and my grandson favored the puzzle. So they were each happy with my choices.

Usually, we play a few of their games, too. Each of the kids gets to choose a game and we complete at least one round before we move to the next one. Of course, whoever gets the game out has to pick up all the pieces and put the box away.

Educational toys are also among my favorites. I shop the local garage sales to find something they might like. If the seller’s kids happen to be around, they are usually brutally honest about whether the toys they offer were fun or not. The other tell-tell clue is the condition of the toy: if it is still in pristine condition, then likely no one found it fun. For this trip, I had two sets of age-appropriate flash cards held together by a pin on one corner. They look like fun, but we ran out of time this trip, so back they go into my Bag of Tricks until next time.

Now that both of the grandkids are in grade school, I expect we might have some homework to do from time to time as well. And that’s just fine. I love to know what they are doing and what they are studying.

What Grandma doesn’t bring something good to eat? I always toss in some small snacks, such as cookies, cheese crackers, or candy. In addition, I bring along fruits and vegetables they may not be familiar with. This time, it was Honey Crisp apples, miniature sweet peppers in red, yellow and orange, and fresh raisin-pecan baguettes from our local farmer’s market. Surprisingly, the six-year-old loves fruits and vegetables; the seven-year-old, not so much.

If we will be eating together during our visit, I generally try to ensure we have something nutritious but fun. In this case, we had smoked sausage, which I cut into thin coin-shaped pieces and browned in a skillet. Not knowing how much they’d eat, I prepared about half the package and wrapped the rest to refrigerate for another meal.

At dinner, each of the kids wanted seven (not six, not eight, but seven) 'pennies,' so that’s what they got, along with their choice of rice or macaroni and cheese, with various vegetables. Thank Goodness for leftovers! For whatever reason, they thought the food was really yummy and asked for seconds. Sure, no problem! I gave each of them four more pieces while I started heating up the rest of the package. The new batch was barely warmed up before they were clamoring for more. Perfect timing!

Maybe that meal doesn’t sound very special for you, but it was for us. At times, dinner can be rather contentious, with each of the kids wanting something different that isn’t readily available. So it was a real treat that they both ate well and liked what Grandma fixed for them. Of course, it was a huge help that Mommy & Daddy had the kitchen nicely stocked, too. Good planning, good prep, and good execution. Now that’s the way it should be!

Here’s your challenge: How are YOU building memories with your grandchildren?

Before you know it, they’ll be grown and gone, so start now and have fun WITH them!


Karen said...

Here's an idea along these lines. Currently in stores, you can find Crayola crayons with a special offer and code inside the box. Then you go to and you can do this:
1) upload a photo
2) decolorize it
3) print a family photo to color

Now, how cool is that?

Simple photos of people work better than scenery. So I uploaded photos for our granddaughters of their cousins whom they don't see too often. And then other favorite family photos.

I noticed that they loved coloring people they loved! And it gave us such a wonderful opportunity to talk about family stories. Now I have some old birthday photos that I have ready for an upcoming celebration.

Leave it to Crayola to come up with such an idea! The code is good for six months. I'm getting a lot out of mine.

Beth (Elizabeth) LaMie said...

That's a terrific idea I never thought of! I'll bet the kids get a real kick out of that and could even show Grandma without grey hair and Grampa with any color of new hair.

I love ideas that get the younger kids involved with family photos & memories, so this really fits the bill.

Thanks for sharing it.