That First Grandbaby

There’s something about that moment you hold your first grandchild. Just when you thought you knew everything about being a parent and bringing a new baby into this world, you are then handed that first grandchild,…and everything changes. It’s different. Everything feels very different. It’s almost surreal. A love you didn’t know before.

My First Grandbaby, Jack

I know from being a mother, that has given birth to three children, for obvious reasons it feels different.
You haven’t just spent nine months growing a baby inside of you, ( and ALL the things that go with that) and you haven’t spent hours and hours in labor, with the greatest reward having finally given birth.

I know when I was pregnant with my second child, I had a very real fear. After giving birth to my daughter, my first child, I felt no greater love. So, as I became pregnant with my second child, my son, I feared I couldn’t love another child as much as I loved my first. I was terrified. I knew I loved him already, but it wasn’t yet quite like my daughter who was toddling around under my feet and crawling up into my lap. Not until he was born, and placed in my arms, did I truly understand the capacity our hearts have for love. It’s immeasurable. By the time I became pregnant with my youngest daughter, my third child, I was fully aware of how a mother’s love does not have favorites, limits, or can love one child more than another. It is absolutely the most powerful and incredible love in the universe.

My babies and I at Stonehenge

Then there are the grandchildren. Specifically, that FIRST grandchild. By no means at all, will I ever love one grandchild more than another, but that first one changed me. I thought it would be like having a fourth child. I knew what it was like to have a new baby in the family. It wasn’t the same. I was a new person now. I had officially become a grandmother, or Nana as I prefer to be called. My heart was overwhelmed. I felt compelled to protect like a mother and grandmother. Protect not only my daughter who had just given birth,but my grandson as well. It’s almost like when you’re playing a video game and you “level up”. I “leveled up” that day. My role became even bigger than I ever imagined! I had spent years trying to be the best mom possible, learning so much along the way. Trial and error. I felt at times, I totally had no clue what I was doing…so I was just “winging it!”. I’m proud to announce, all three children turned out INCREDIBLE! I’m not sure how, but I did it!

Now I was in a whole new category, this new role of Nana. I wasn’t sure what to do. All I knew was, I was a much older, wiser, calmer, patient and “seasoned” person than I was as a parent. Instead of just feeling like I was in “survival mode”, I was in “prepare for the future” mode. I had an overwhelming sense of wanting to teach my grandchild everything I knew. I felt wiser than I was when raising my own children. I wanted to slow down and soak up every moment, instead of just trying to make sure the children were fed, bathed, homework done, and bath time. For once, these issues were not my worries. My daughter and son-in-law were the parents, these were their responsibility.

Jack, Molly and Nana

Nana. What is my role? I get to do a lot of fun stuff, that’s what my role is! Of course, I can, and will discipline if necessary. I incorporate learning in almost everything I do with my grandchildren. My first grandchild, Jack taught me to be that person. Due to divorce, there were periods of time I lived with my daughter and son-in-law for months at a time. Although by society standard today, that’s frowned upon. Everyone is used to living in separate houses. That’s actually a very unnatural way of living. For centuries, and still in many countries, many generations live under one roof. I think this is a beautiful concept! We all lived, worked, loved, nurtured, supported and helped each other. An unbreakable bond, that grew stronger each day. After my second grandchild was born, my daughter and son-in-law made me feel even more valuable. I was there to help cook, clean, bathe the grandbabies and, give much-needed breaks, for date nights, or just sleeping in. I was able to bond with my new granddaughter, Molly, but also still have that special bond with my grandson Jack. Jack and I would play, snuggle, read or watch cartoons, while mom and dad bonded with the new baby. I loved living in the same house as my daughter and son-in-law.

Of course with the birth of Molly, I knew my heart, again had an unlimited space for love. Especially for grandchildren. I only have my two grandchildren, as of now. Maybe I’ll have more in the future, maybe not. Regardless of what my future holds, my sweet little Jack, Jack will always hold that special title as my “first grandchild”. The one that taught me a whole new level of love, and a deeper sense of being. The one that “leveled me up” to this prestigious title of Nana.

“Keeping Grandparenting Glorious!”

Teach Your Children Well

I grew up as a heathen. ( I can see my mom rolling her eyes right about now) ….Not quite, but it was a very simple, country, relaxed, kind of upbringing. My family and I were part hippie, part country, but 100% real. No pretentiousness, country clubs, fancy outings or extensive travel. Both of my parents had a mix of country and city life as they were growing up, but ultimately decided to raise their children in the country. Now, we weren’t completely uncultured. We had manners, spoke properly (with a southern accent) and respected our elders. Mom and dad just wanted us to live a simple life in the country, and that’s what we did.

My days were spent feeding farm animals, running barefoot everywhere I went, getting dirty, picking the produce from the garden with the family, while snacking on fresh tomatoes along the way. We worked together and played together. I was definitely a “free-range” child. I learned how to live off the land, and that’s quite valuable to know. If all of us would have never left the farm, maybe that’s all I would have needed to know. But, as life happens, we all ended up growing up and moving away. It was beautiful, but I must say, I’ve had to learn a few things in my adulthood that I wish I would have learned as a child.

When I was young, we didn’t travel much, eat out often or stay in hotels. I hadn’t even had my first job by the time I married, at the young age of 18. Then traveling often with my military husband, I felt a little lost. Learning to live in a big city was a challenge. (San Francisco was his first duty station). Riding the subway, public transportation, driving 90 mph while trying to follow a map (no gps in the 80’s). I had a lot to learn.

When my children were young, each thing I learned about etiquette or life in general, I felt compelled to teach them right away! I would have that moment of “ I wish I would have known this before!” I felt like I was growing and learning with my children, which is not entirely bad. I didn’t know how to set a proper table, which pieces of silverware to use for what, and when? I had no idea how to handle a business call, write a resume’, buy an airline ticket, read a subway map, or make a reservation. Whether it be dinner, hotel, airline, rental car or the like, I was clueless. I didn’t know what valet parking, a concierge, or hailing a taxi was all about. As a child, we would take a few road trips, but I only traveled by plane twice before I was 18, my first time being 12 years old with my grandmother.

As I raised my children, I tried to expose them to many different experiences. At home, we would do “training sessions” for dining out. All from what I learned from reading etiquette books, the internet or dining with people who already knew. I would watch, copy and learn from them. Properly set dinner tables, napkins in the lap, manners on-point. I would occasionally take my children to the nicest restaurants I could afford. They would dress in their best attire, and use the learned manners, and etiquette from home. I would ensure they knew to speak clearly to the waitstaff, ask questions and be polite. I taught them to discretely calculate a gratuity, and when to offer to pick up the bill for their entire party.

You can start these “training sessions” at home, simply by role play. My children and I would have so much fun setting up an “airplane, bus, restaurant, train, etc” at home. Line up a few dining chairs, set a table, add some stuffed animals, friends or family for extra passengers, or customers. Someone plays the role of the waiter, flight attendant, etc. Create paper tickets, pack small suitcases, and serve simple dinners. It’s a great way to play, and practice these skills at the same time. You can use this role-play in many aspects of teaching your children. Write pretend resume’s for them to apply for their “dream job” ( this will be a cute keepsake later ). Make pretend business phone calls, teach them how to speak articulately and solve problems. The scenarios are endless.

We weren’t able to travel by air much when they were younger. But as my children got older, I made sure they were taught to be able to travel on their own. I believe it’s important to teach your children how to make a reservation, check-in to an airline, get through security checks, find their gate and seat on the plane. After them experiencing it a few times with you, it’s a great idea to let the child “lead”. What I mean is, Let them assist in making the reservations and once it’s time to travel, have them lead you through all of the steps necessary for the trip. Have them tell you when and where to check your luggage, print your boarding pass, what to do at security and have them find your gate and seats. It’s a great way to learn with the guidance if they need it. So when that day comes that they may be traveling alone, they will have the confidence on what to do, thanks to you taking the time to show them.

I know my grandchildren practice table manners at home, as well as at Nana’s house. When the grandchildren visit, we like to take them out for a special dinner or go to the theater. They really enjoy a nice, fancy night out with Nana and Grandpa. We encourage them to try new foods, remind them of their dining etiquette, how to behave while attending a theater production, and in general, “keep in practice” with all things taught at home. It’s important to do this as often as possible, so it’s not one of those “Oh, I think I remember what to do, from that one time we went out”. If your grandchild is old enough, maybe have them make the dinner reservation and also pay the bill.. (with Grandpa’s credit card, of course). Take the grandchildren to the ballet, opera, theater or symphony. Expose them to cultural enrichment, as well as teaching them the basics at home. Again, this gives them practice, in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Make sure they know it’s ok to ask questions and make mistakes. It’s all part of the learning process.

Ultimately, It is our responsibility as parents and grandparents to prepare our children for the real world. The more we can teach them, the more confident they will be. As we know, with that confidence, the possibilities are endless!

“Making Grandparenting Glorious!”

Homeschool Help

My grandchildren are homeschooled. That’s a huge responsibility and task my daughter and son-in-law decided to take on. With some of the uncertainty of safety in schools, bullying and overpopulated classes, I totally understand why they made this choice. My son-in-law works full-time, which enables my daughter to stay home with the kids.

Of course, there are pros and cons to almost everything. While my grandchildren travel with their mom and dad, for my son-in-law’s traveling medical profession, homeschool is definitely the best option. They can take their lessons with them wherever they go, and learn along the way. A big advantage to traveling while homeschooling, is the opportunity to see many different places, cultures, people, landmarks and national parks that they might only read about in public school. I love the fact that they can visit the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park, The Everglades or The Redwoods, all while learning about them at the same time.

Grandbabies in the Pacific Northwest

There are definitely some cons to go along with it. For now, the traveling part is harder for me, because I don’t get to see my grandchildren as often. (That’s my selfish side showing.) In addition to this, is the fact that they are not in a classroom setting with other children their age. Public schools can have their benefits. Peer interaction, friendships, and learning to be part of a group, and the social lessons that, that involves. I remember times in school where we would break off into small groups (4-5 students) and work on projects or read.

I know with my grandchildren, they have each other (which is priceless) and they meet new friends along the way. Their mom makes sure they have access to extracurricular and supplemental activities while traveling. I am certain their social needs are being met also.

My daughter is doing a great job. She spends her days bouncing between 3rd and 5th grade. Some things are similar and she can work with both of them simultaneously, but then there are the individual needs, that have to be met with each child, on a one-to-one basis. The majority of the teaching is on my daughter, for obvious reasons. Sometimes that can become a little overwhelming, especially when you’re also doing all of the home cleaning, management and cooking also. She is like any other full-time working parent.

When they were living with us, I would give my daughter a little extra support or a much needed break. So now, as they are traveling, I have to be a little more creative. I use video calling just to catch up and visit with my grandchildren, but I also use it to help out a little with their homeschooling. Sometimes I will buy two copies of a book so that we can read together, taking turns reading paragraphs as each follows along. Stopping often to discuss what’s going on in the story. This helps with comprehension, vocabulary and attention span. It’s much easier for children to gain a love of reading when they have that kind of positive interaction. This also can be just reading a bedtime story with them, which can fill that need for closeness that I miss with them living far away.

Another thing I try to do is maybe work with one child, via video call, while mom works with the other child. I can help with math flashcard drills, discussing a science question or history event. It’s the next best thing to being able to sit down next to them and help out.

My grandchildren and I have recently started writing letters back and forth between us. This isn’t only a great practice of writing and spelling, but it will be fun for them later in life to re-read our letters. So many of us get used to typing on a computer, tablet or phone, ( I’m definitely guilty of this! ) and don’t really find ourselves “writing” much anymore. I have to admit, when we first started our pen pal letters, my hand would cramp from writing! These practices are great for Nana and grand-babies, alike!

Even if your grandchildren aren’t homeschooled, there are things we can do as grandparents that can help with their education. If you’re close by, sit down and help them with homework. Most things are still the same, then some current methods have changed. You’ll be surprised at some of the new ways of math they’ve come up with! Our grandchildren can teach us new things also. Most importantly, you’re developing a bond and relationship they will remember for a lifetime.

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“Making Grandparenting Glorious!”

Take a Hike!

Spring has sprung and the weather is Beeeeutiful!!! At least it is, here in North Carolina! Warmer weather and blue skies always make me want to get outside after a long, cold winter.

The grandkids (and Nana) are restless, and everyone is in need of some sunshine and vitamin D. One of our favorite activities is to take off to the mountains, forests or greenway. Of course, just walking around the block or through the neighborhood is nice too…..but there’s something about getting back to nature.

I know for myself, those last two months of winter are the hardest. During the holidays, I welcome the cold, snowy weather. The family gatherings, making soups, baking, and a toasty fire in the fireplace, make it one of my favorite times of the year. Then around about the middle of January, I’m kind of “over it”. I get a little restless and start dreaming of sunshine, gardening, and hiking.

There are so many benefits to hiking in the woods. Besides the obvious beauty all around you of budding trees, spring flowers carpeting the forest floor and swollen creeks from snowmelt or winter rains, the health benefits you reap are numerous!

Hiking is proven to elevate the mood. So many of us suffer from some degree of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It’s depression we can experience from the long, winter days and lack of sunlight. Getting outside as much as possible during the sunny, beautiful days helps to reverse this and feel an overall sense of happiness.

Hiking can also help you shed a few extra pounds you may have picked up over winter. All of that rich holiday food seems to stick around, literally….on the belly, hips, thighs and chin. Even just a 15 or 30 minute walk each day can boost your metabolism, and help you shed those unwanted pounds.

Another term you may have heard of is, Forest Bathing. Don’t worry, you keep your clothes on for this one, well at least most people do anyway. In a world of multi-media, fast-paced, extended “screen time” living, we all need to take a Forest Bath to renew and recharge.
Forest bathing is just getting out there. Immerse yourself in nature. Breathe deeply and embrace your surroundings. I am a huge natural medicine and natural living advocate. It is scientifically proven, that if you spend time in the forest it reduces blood pressure, reduces stress, increases energy, improves your sleep, accelerates healing from illness, and boosts your immune system.

Forest bathing is also know to increase the ability to focus, even in children with ADHD. I know for myself and my family, we would rather use the natural wonders of nature, with no negative side effects, instead of pharmaceuticals. I, myself have adult ADHD and can attest to the benefits of hiking and forest bathing. I notice a marked difference in my focus and attention even just after 15 minutes in the forest. These benefits carry with me throughout my day allowing to focus on all of the tasks before me.
*I understand there are more severe circumstances where people may need additional therapy. Forest bathing and hiking can decrease the need for additional medication, or enhance therapies already in place.

Hiking is a wonderful bonding activity for families or friends. It takes you away from the busyness of our everyday activities. Away from computers, iPads, TV and cell phones ( I do carry mine for emergency reasons, mapping my walk and taking photos.) But I believe for children and teenagers, they should be encouraged to leave their phones at home. Having one or two adults with phones is enough, in case of an emergency. If they do take them on the hike, maybe make sure they aren’t texting or on social media, that defeats the purpose of Forest Bathing.

A great activity while hiking is learning about the trees, plants and animals of your region. My favorite reference books are from the National Audubon Society. They literally have field guides for everything! I’ll share a link below where you can check them out for yourselves. I’ve had these books for years and have learned quite a bit about many areas in North America. My grandkids and I get excited when we are able to identify birds, insects, trees, flowers, and reptiles on our hikes. This practice really connects you to the world we live in. It’s a wonderful learning experience for all, and you’re creating memories that will last a lifetime! It helps children gain a certain respect for all living things. Instead of killing that scary spider, they learn about our friend, the helpful arachnid. It helps us all to respect nature, and learn from it.

So instead of heading to the mall this weekend, or binge-watching yet another murder mystery on Netflix, lace up those hiking boots, grab a walking stick and sunhat and Head for the Hills!!….or nature path, forest or greenway! Gather up the grandkids and go learn about this big, beautiful world! Happy Hiking Everyone!

“Making Grandparenting Glorious!”

References:

http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html

Health benefits of hiking: Raise your heart rate and your mood

Please Stop Slamming Millennials!

Let me start by saying, I’m not a Millennial. I was born in 1969, which I believe that’s Gen X, or in some charts, they skip it altogether. It doesn’t really matter, because I don’t believe we need to be put into categories. There are all types of people, born in different eras. Time has been marching on, and each generation blames the other for anything “wrong” that may be going on in the world. It’s disgusting, ridiculous and needs to Stop!

Disrespect, pollution, climate change, genetically modified foods, drugs, addiction, violence, abortion, divorce, poverty, unemployment….I could go on and on. You get the picture. So many people want to say that each of these did not exist in their era and that someone else is to blame. Not quite true.

We are all just people. Since the beginning of time, each generation has been trying to make things better for themselves and their children. This is what has driven the entire human race to create so many advancements, from primitive living to our modern society as we know it. Each generation has been creating and inventing things that they believe will make society better and help humankind. Then, sometimes, down the road a few years later, we realize that there may have been flaws with those things. A health or environmental risk, a danger to many people. When some things were created, they were meant to help people and not harm them. It was the next best thing…and everyone loved it.

All of these things have never been an intentional attack on humanity. It was something good, that maybe ended up being overused or abused along the way. Most likely, it’s future implications were not known, until many years later.

The “G. I. Generation” of the early 1900’s weren’t intentionally trying to pollute our oceans when they created plastic. They first created it to be a lightweight, inexpensive material, to make our lives “easier and more sanitary”. Plastics have been used for virtually everything. Now we realize the dangers and we are trying to reverse it. This goes for so many things. Life is all about trial and error. Many things that were created several years ago, we still love and use. We should be grateful for those trailblazers, risk-takers, and inventors. At least they were out there trying something new and making strides for the human race.

If you just look at a timeline of progress, you’ll see that each generation has been doing something good, to better our future.

*3500 B.C. – The wheel. Seriously, I had to start here. We still use it every, single day.

Jumping forward a bit…

*1600’s – The steam turbine, telescope, blood transfusions, calculating machines….and Champagne.

*1700’s – The cotton gin, flying shuttle and sewing machine…we all still wear clothing, most of the time, at least. The piano, steam engines and thermometer, also great inventions during this time.

*1800’s – Steam locomotives, the automobile, general anesthetic, the food canning process, the bicycle, matches, the telephone, the phonograph, the zipper, and so many more!

*1900’s – Antibiotics, Artificial human heart, Computers, Cell phones, Video games, the world wide web… I’m seriously just scratching the surface here!

*2000’s – The camera phone, flash drive, Facebook, YouTube, iPhone, surgical robots, e-readers, Skype, GPS, Completion of the Human Genome project, and many more advancements in Science, medicine and Technology.

Alexander Fleming, creating Penicillin

Millennials are defined as people being born between the years 1981- 1996. These individuals are currently 22-37 years old.

Millennials are being blamed for being lazy, disrespectful, weak, emotional, and needy. If you ask me, this is something that every great, great, great, grandpappy, many years ago was complaining about the same thing, with those “young whippersnappers”!
Haven’t we all heard the story? “I had to walk to school, both ways, up hill, in the snow?”
Yeah. Same story, different generation.

I have three children that fall (or close enough, my baby is almost 21) into this category. I’m not only speaking of my children, but so many others that are considered Millennials. I have worked, side by side, and was outnumbered by Millennials when I worked for Universal Studios in Florida. Many of my current best friends, are Millennials. My findings are, as follows:

Millennials are beautiful, brilliant, charismatic and caring people. I know we want to group them all in the radical groups that we see on the news. That is a very old way of thinking. They are not lazy, or disrespectful. They stand up for what they believe in, and have a clear voice on what they want the future to be. Don’t judge every person born during that time with a group of people that may have been pursuing something they were passionate about, that maybe you didn’t agree with. Trust me, when you were young, the “elders” thought the same as you do now. We need to stop that toxic way of thinking. We are all trying to improve our world and make it a better place for future generations.

These are our children, who are now adults, taking on the next set of challenges.

We didn’t intend on plastics to pollute our planet, but they did. The Millennials are trying to fix that.
We didn’t intend on some medications to turn out poisonous, but they did. Millennials are working on a solution, and going back to our roots, learning that food is medicine.
We didn’t know that GMO foods were going to destroy our health, but they did. Millennials are researching the old ways and bringing them back again.
My generation wasn’t responsible for creating the computer, but they did many advancements on improving it, now Millennials are taking it even further and creating wonderful things that we can’t imagine life without!

I am so grateful for things like Facebook and FaceTime. These things help me keep in touch with my 76 year old mother and, 8 and 11 year old grandchildren. I’m able to keep in touch with old friends from high school, and enjoy seeing my friends and families adventures, when I’m not able to be there in person.

I am grateful for those first people of Mesopotamia for inventing the wheel, Dom Pierre Perignon for inventing Champagne, and so many more that we don’t give credit to on a daily basis that have made our lives WONDERFUL!

I am grateful for Boyan Slat, the 18 year old that created a large apparatus to clean the plastics from the ocean, and is succeeding at helping the planet as we speak!

I am so grateful for oldest daughter (and grandchildren) for keeping me up-to-date on new technology.
I am grateful for my son, he’s a laboratory scientist that makes sense of medical terms and tests that my doctor may not explain in detail.
I am thankful for my youngest daughter and her graphic art skills for making my childrens books come to life.

….Millennials are doing great things.

Let us remember that there are “radical” people, in every group. In every generation. In every religion. We may not agree with these radicals, but I do know it’s important that we not place all people born during a certain time, in a category assuming they are all the same. They’re not.

My children, my Millennials, are a great example of the millions of other great Millennials out there. They are educated, hard working, kind and always looking to improve their future, and the future for subsequent generations.

So, my take on this, in my almost 50 years on this planet is…
There will always be the grumbling elders, thinking their generation was best. There will always be the young trailblazers trying to re-invent the wheel…and find something new in the process.
My point is. Respect one another, love one another and give gratitude even for the efforts of someone trying to help, even if they don’t, at first, succeed! Don’t be the one criticizing, consuming, and just watching things happen. If you’re not one of the creators, be one of the supporters. Not only to our children, but to others who are working so hard to make a difference. Send out positive vibes! Be a Cheerleader! Encourage great things!

It is proven that encouragement and love, produce better ways of thinking and more productive people. You never know where the next big thing will come from, or from whom.

I Love our Millennials. They are amazing, people with brilliant ideas! Encourage them to do great things! Thank them. Love them. Trust them. (they will be the ones pushing your wheelchair someday)…

“Making Grandparenting Glorious”




Stop Slamming Millennials

Sleepover With The Grandkids!

If you’re lucky enough to have your grandchildren live nearby, hopefully you have them over often for sleepovers. I think it’s a wonderful idea for the parents to have a break or maybe a date-night, and for grandparents to have time with their grandchildren.

When the grandkids come over for a sleepover, I try to make sure I have plenty of fun activities planned ahead. I like to make their favorite dinner. Usually a make-your-own pizza party. Just have several pizza toppings on hand, some personal size pizza crusts and let the fun begin! This way you can avoid a lot of the issues of picky eaters. They can make the pizza exactly like they like it, EVERYTHING but the kitchen sink, or plain cheese, it’s up to them! They are their own personal chef! Also, they’re usually so proud of their own creation, they will gobble it up with gusto!

For dessert it’s fun to follow the same protocol! Pre-make some cookies or cupcakes, then have a variety of sprinkles, candies, whipped cream and icing for them to decorate. Another great idea is the make-your-own sundaes! That always seems to be a hit! Lots of ice cream, fruits, toppings and whipped cream. It’s a great way to keep them engaged, entertained and well fed,(because you know, us Nanas, want to make sure the children are well fed).

“Molly Boo with Nana Bananas”

It’s great to embrace your inner child, as you spend this time with your grandchildren. I know that kids nowadays have iPads and video games, which are great, I totally embrace the modern edge of grandparenting also. It can be nice to have a break from those and maybe introduce them to some of the ways you used to have fun as a child. Trust me, they will be intrigued, if not totally humored! Remember making blanket forts? Pretending that the floor is hot lava? Hide-and-go-seek? Old Maid card game? Jacks? Checkers, Chess and Backgammon? Believe it or not, you can still find some of the “retro” games. Yes, we’re “Retro” now… but still cool.

I have found that my grandchildren are interested in what it was like when Nana and Grandpa were children. As they play these games, they usually enjoy them, but also, it’s a novelty that we were able to be entertained so simply when we were young. Of course, I try to keep up with the times and what is new in the forms of entertainment for kids. But what a fun history lesson, and guide on how to enjoy a little imagination or simpler things.

So we’ve fed them and had some play-time. If you’re like me, bedtime is fairly early these days. I like it that way. For many children, especially on weekends, they want to stay up later than their curfew on school nights. Okay, so maybe my bedtime will be 10:00 instead of 9:00 tonight….I can do this. (It’s for the grandkids, anything for those little angels!)

Bath-time before bed is always a good idea. Wash away the grime of the day, it helps them wind down and get ready for bed. I like to run them a warm bath. Not a shower, like they usually do during the week with mom and dad. They’re so busy with school, homework and extracurricular activities, that things may be a little rushed in the evenings. Most of the time, I know my grandchildren just get a quick shower, then off to bed. Since this is the weekend, and they’re at Nana’s house, we take things a little slower. We all know how nice it is to take a nice warm, relaxing bath. The same goes for children. They also have stressors from the week, and need a little time to recharge. I have found that adding bubble bath or bath bombs with essential oils help them wind down and relax. It’s also fun to just let them play. Maybe a few bath toys, soap crayons, an audio book playing on the iPad, ( or Nana reading to them as they play-this depends on how old they are. They definitely get to the point where they’re modest, and want to bathe unassisted)
*Disclaimer: please assist all children in a bath that are too young or disabled. Use your judgement, know your grandchild’s ability.

After bath, it’s always a great time to have a quiet activity together. In Nana and Grandpa’s house it’s PUZZLE TIME! We love jigsaw puzzles! Some of our favorites are Liberty Puzzles. We used to live in Boulder, Colorado. They have a great puzzle store on Pearl Street. They’re made of wood and have very unique puzzle shapes. We absolutely love them!


The grandkids always look forward to working on a jigsaw puzzle with us. Of course piling up with lots of blankets and pillows, reading mountains of picture books are always a favorite with them also. Different voices for each of the characters, taking turns reading and discussing the story as we go. Reading is always a favorite at Nana and Grandpa’s house.

Puzzle time with Grandpa

Remember, as you get ready to actually go to sleep, the grandkids are used to their own beds at home. Certain accommodations may have to be made to help them feel safe and secure while away from home. Sometimes the guest bedroom is too lonely or too far away from Nana and Grandpa. So, maybe a bed in the blanket fort, make the couch into a bed or even a pallet made out of blankets on the floor in Nana and Grandpa’s room is needed to make them feel safe. I have found that the closer they are to Nana, the safer they feel. I let them tell me where they need to be. Some of my favorite times as a child were spent laying in bed with my Grandmother, just talking about everything. I will remember this forever.

Grandchildren snuggled in bed.
Snug as a bug in a rug!

Having the grandkids over for a sleepover can be a very special time for all of you. Just remember, take the time to focus on them. It’s not the time for laundry, cleaning or catching up on your latest binge watching on Netflix. Give mom and dad a day (and night) off and make those memories with your grandchildren that will last a lifetime!

“Making Grandparenting Glorious!”

Leprechaun Shenanigans!

I’ve really enjoyed watching my oldest daughter, being a mom. Some things are the same as when my kids were young, but she has definitely “upped the game” on others!

McGinn Family St. Patricks Day
My silly little Leprechauns!

You can follow my daughter’s blog and her adventures at https://www.mcginnsonthemove.com

One thing she does differently, is the way she celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with the kids. We used to only make sure we were wearing green and hope to not be pinched! In addition to that standard, she now has mischievous little Leprechaun’s come visit! Since my grandchildren are homeschooled, she has to be very careful when these little Leprechauns are out and about! With the children aware that there are Leprechaun’s sneaking around this time of year, sometimes they make homemade Leprechaun traps to try to catch these sneaky little guys! They’re quite clever and hard to catch!

Leperachan-Trap-442x640

So usually while the children are sleeping, the night before St. Patrick’s Day, she stays up and ransacks the house! …kind of like a Santa thing, but a whole lot messier! I know this is the time when a mom is usually cleaning house, instead of wrecking it, but it’s all for the magic and fun! Stay with me on this!

The object is, to have the children believe that these little Leprechaun’s were visiting in the night. She goes through great lengths to make this happen. By creating tiny green footprints with (washable) paint all over the countertops, hard surfaces and even the rim of the toilet, it shows where these little scoundrels have been! My daughter would even dye the toilet water green, sprinkle green glitter all over everything and squirt out toothpaste on the sink!  She would unroll the toilet paper all over the house, spill lucky charms cereal on the counters and leave chocolate “gold” coins all around the house.

In addition to the fun things the naughty Leprechaun did, my daughter would also leave small, fun gifts for the children. A small basket, cup or hat from the dollar store, filled with anything green! Silly string, silly putty, sour snacks, whoopee cushions (because Leprechauns are tricksters). You could make a special “green” meal or snack! Mint milkshakes, shamrock cookies, rainbow layer cakes, “green” chocolate covered popcorn!

I found some great recipes over at Wide Open Eats. Check them out.

St-Patricks-day-Leprechaun-popcorn

Use your imagination! You could add a treasure hunt, then have silly tricks along the way!  So, as a grandparent, if you live near your grandkids, maybe the Leprechaun can visit your house! (or you can take the grandkids out, while mom and dad wreck their own house,while hosting a Leprechaun visit!) Hee, Hee….

Anything green, rainbow, gold or tricky will add fun to this under-rated holiday!

It’s a fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and have a great time with the grandchildren!

“Making Grandparenting Glorious!”

Connecting With The Grandkids

“It takes a village to raise a child” ~ an African proverb

We all have busy lives and our daily routines. Days sometimes seem to slip into weeks, months and years. Sometimes you need to stop, or at least slow down. Are you prioritizing the things that really matter? Does that floor really need to be swept right now? ….Nah! I need to talk to my grandkids!

For now, I have to be a long-distance Nana. My daughter and her family are traveling with her husband’s job. With almost 3000 miles between us, I try to make an effort to connect and communicate with my grandchildren as much as possible. They’re busy with home school, I’m busy writing and there is a three-hour time difference between us…connecting can be tricky sometimes.

Of course, the easiest way is a phone call, but I like to try to make our time spent “together” a little more memorable and meaningful. I absolutely love the fact that we have Video calling, like FaceTime, Skype or Duo. This makes the connection much more real. Seeing each others faces, laughing together, telling stories, catching up on what’s going on in each other’s lives. One of the sweetest requests my grandson Jack asks for when we FaceTime, is for me to show him around my house. Although they lived with us for a few months and Jack knows every part of Nana and Grandpa’s house, he likes to walk through and remember his favorite parts and see what we’ve done new. With each video call, the grandkids have to say hello to my cats, Kiki and Eva. Then they have me walk around the yard and show them their swing, the flowers blooming, the frog pond, all the things that make Nana and Grandpa’s house special.

I also love to give them challenges or assignments. Things that they will do on their own, until we chat again. We’ll discuss an idea while chatting, then I email them a recipe or challenge. Things like baking cookies on their own, making their favorite dish with minimal help from mom, memorizing multiplication facts, learning something new they can teach me on our next call. Currently we are trying to learn Spanish together. By giving these tasks, it keeps you connected even when you’re not together. Then when we have our next chat session, they’re excited to share with me what they’ve done.

Although we text, talk on the phone and FaceTime, I also sent them each a stationary set and stamps. You know, the old snail mail. I just still think that’s a wonderful skill to have. To actually hand write a letter. It’s a dying art. I want my grandchildren to be tech savvy, but to also know the old ways. Both of my grandchildren are homeschooled.  With handwriting letters to Nana and Grandpa, it will also help them with their English and writing assignments.

It’s an important relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren. It’s different from the parent and child relationship. We find ourselves in a calmer, wiser state with our grandkids. We’ve lived enough to know what’s important and how fast time flies. I truly believe in that old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”. All of us play different and important roles in these little lives. Each of us have something to teach (or something to learn). Even the smallest effort to connect, listen and love your grandchild is important. They will remember it fondly. The lessons I learned from my Grandmother are still with me today. I treasure the moments and memories I had with her every day.

“Making Grandparenting Glorious!”

Spring is on it’s way!

I know it may not seem like Spring is on the way for some of you, as you sit inside, watching it snow out the window.  Although, here in North Carolina there are signs of spring everywhere!…especially with my sinus headache, I can tell there is pollen swirling around my nostrils!  Besides the seasonal allergies, this has always been one of my favorite times of year! I’m looking forward to long sunny days, gardening and being able to enjoy playing outside.

One of my favorite things I would do with my kids when they were younger, was go on a bug hunt! Right now all of the little creepy crawlies are starting to emerge from their winter slumber. My son, Kevin, was especially interested in bugs. I loved hunting for bugs and teaching them about the world of insects. We always respected the little bugs, never harming them, but watching closely as we would learn about their little world.

My son is now 27 and works as a Medical Laboratory Scientist. So, in a sense, he still plays with bugs!….just the tiny kind you have to see in a microscope! Every Easter I would include a Bug Hunting kit (like the one in the picture below) in his basket. It was a great way to welcome spring!

Fun Outdoor Toy Insect Bug Adventure Set; Bug Catcher Set for Kids Backyard Exploration Kit – Bug Collection Kit – Includes Butterfly Net, Compass, Tweezers, Transfer Capsule and Bug Carrier

I loved hunting bugs with him so much, I wrote a book about our adventures. Kevin’s Bug Hunt would be a great addition to any Nature loving kids Easter Basket.

“Making Grandparenting Glorious!”

Click on the link to order your own copy of  Kevin’s Bug Hunt.


Kevin's Bug Hunt