Monday, May 22, 2017

Planning to have fun?

I'm an organizer and a planner so I like to be prepared as much as possible, especially if I am spending an afternoon with the grandkids and hoping to do crafts.  Kids can't always come up with ideas about what to do so if you have some fun ideas (need to keep the list updated as your grandkids grow older), and the supplies to do it, you won't be left with "nothing to do" when they were so looking forward to spending time with you!  Kids have a short attention span so if they have to sit around while you cut things so they can use them to play a game or start creating something, they will quickly lose interest.  If cutting is part of the fun though, by all means, get at it, but if the fun is doing something with the "cut outs" then I suggest cutting out in advance and reading the instructions on how to play the game or make the craft so you understand it. Sometimes it's best to come up with an idea yourself rather than give them the choice of what they want to do because firstly, they may not be the best about coming up with ideas and secondly, sometimes they only think about what "they" want to do and not about their younger or older siblings (girls vs. boys too).  Have more than one idea in your mind though; just because you think it will be fun, doesn't mean it will be!  Last time I went to visit my grandkids, we played "Roll a Snowman" and the kids loved it!; found it on Pinterest.  I had cut out all of the pieces in advance and brought them with me.  They knew I had "made" the game too vs. buying it, and they seemed equally impressed by that.  I also was sure to use their favourite colours which drew their attention right away.  Try it out!  Next time I go to visit, they likely won't want to play this game again, which is fine, but we had a blast this time around and it didn't cost me a lot of money...just some well planned time and I had fun doing that too.  Of course, sitting around and talking or reading a book is fun too, but you can plan those things too; what book will you read, what can they learn from the book, what questions you might ask them about the book to get a conversation going.  I believe this helps kids to get conversations going in other aspects of their lives, and gets them thinking more about books that they read if we have had a discussion about it. You can get really great ideas on Pinterest - - and almost every craft supply you need is available at a Dollar Store (vs. more expensive stores like Michael's or WalMart).  My grandkids favourite store to shop at with me is Dollarama; who would have thought! 

So, get your ideas, list of items you need, and have some quality fun-time!  They will never know that you planned it all along...  If you are having fun, that's what it's all about!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Stories About Your Grandkids

Buddy the Dragon Slayer
I have written stories about my grandkids, as I have mentioned, but the ones I truly love are the ones that they can really relate to. I wrote a story about "Buddy the Dragon Slayer" for my grandson who has cystic fibrosis, to show him how brave I think he is. He has to go through daily physio (while the others play) and has to take several pills (which he takes like a champ). He sometimes has tummy aches too, but he braves through it all. This story is to take him away from all of that even for a moment...and he knows "Buddy" is about him (I have always called him Buddy). I have written two stories about Buddy and am onto the third.
I have also written a story for my other two grandchildren. My granddaughter's book is about Vampires, when she was into that, but I made it a story about "making decisions in life" and doing what's best, and not just doing what your friends want you to do.  I also wrote one for her friend and called it "Snowgirls" (like snowmen) and I included all of the 'BFF's' in it. I also wrote one for my younger grandson about himself and how quiet he usually is, but if he was upset, everyone knew it, and could hear him (throughout the neighbourhood and even in the neighbourhood zoo ha ha). I didn't even realize it until the last time I went to visit, that he asks his mom to read that one to him all the time. 
These are the most special books for me... 
I was searching for something different (and special) to do for the grandkids for Valentine's Day when I came across a site that used a deck of ordinary playing cards, and it showed how you could turn it into a little booklet called "52 Things I Love About You"  I was intrigued, so I pursued it further and although most of them were about adults and relationships it was easy enough to put my own spin on it and gear it towards grandchildren (definitely using some of their wording though to get ideas).  You use a deck of cards (I used a different coloured deck of cards for each grandchild), punch two holes in the side of each card and use binder rings (can get at a craft store) to hold the deck together or you can use can even use little eyelets to connect the binder rings to the cards for ease of turning the cards one by one.   Below, is what I wrote for the 52 things.  I printed these off individually and glue-sticked them to each card in the deck.  I used the Joker cards for the front and back cover and I put a small picture of each of them on the front of their deck of cards under the wording "52 Reasons Grannie Loves You".  I'm visiting them shortly after Valentine's Day, so will wait and give it to them then.  I always like to bring them a little something and I know they like when I make them things.  I think they will like it, but I'll have to wait and see. 
NOTE:  I think I will also get them some other cards that they can play with, i.e., Crazy Eights, Go Fish, etc., so they are not as apt to use these cards for everyday card playing, but if they do decided to do that, it's okay too (I have saved the wording for the cards so I can reproduce it at anytime).

52 Reasons Grannie Loves You
  1. You make me smile
  2. You make me laugh
  3. You make me beautiful cards
  4. You draw me great pictures
  5. You help me find things
  6. You don’t care what I look like, even if I’m wearing my housecoat and my hair is sticking up
  7. You do crafts with me
  8. You like to have fun
  9. You write stories with me
  10. You act silly sometimes
  11. You love your family
  12. You talk to me on Skype
  13. You cuddle up to me when I visit
  14. You tell me you miss me when we are not together
  15. You look concerned when I cry
  16. You listen to the stories I write you
  17. You send me messages with happy faces
  18. You hug me when you want to
  19. You hug me when I want you to
  20. You like the poems I write for you
  21. You understand that sometimes I have happy cries and sometimes I have sad cries
  22. You listen to me when I’m talking to you
  23. You are amazing
  24. You kiss me when you want to
  25. You kiss me when I want you to
  26. You hold my hand when we are walking
  27. You are helpful
  28. You surprise me sometimes
  29. You care about animals and especially your pets
  30. You are a good friend to others
  31. You write me notes
  32. You think your farts are funny
  33. You like to be goofy and dance around
  34. You are honest
  35. You do your chores and don’t complain (much)
  36. You like to make funny faces
  37. You like to use your imagination
  38. You like to try new games
  39. You like to watch movies
  40. You teach me new games to play
  41. You care about others
  42. You are polite
  43. You are kind
  44. You always try your best
  45. You are brave when you need to be
  46. You are not mean to people
  47. You understand that everyone is different and that’s okay
  48. You like yourself
  49. You respect your parents
  50. You are wonderful
  51. Because you are my grandchild
  52. Because I know you love me

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Flat Stanley

Have you ever heard of Flat Stanley? 

I didn't, until one day when I was looking for something different to do with my grandkids who live a distance away from me. 

Well, we have had so much fun with "Stanley" (as we call him) over the years.  First, when I went to visit my grandkids I would get them to hold Flat Stanley (or hide him) and I would take a picture.  When we went to visit their school, I took a picture of "Stanley" in their little cubby/locker...  Then, when me and my husband (Grampy) went on holidays, we would take "our" Flat Stanley with us and take a picture.  Some of the other people even knew who Flat Stanley was and would say, "Oh yeah, I know who that is.  Who are you sending the pictures of Stanley to?"  So, it's not just our little secret afterall, but it is a great way to communicate with your kids or grandkids about the places you go and for them to see that you have a life too ha ha  We have taken him on all of our trips but even take photos in our own hometown and in our own yard. 

I also tried to incorporate using Flat Stanley in photos of things that I am involved in like the Terry Fox Run and then I would tell them the story about Terry... or Remembrance Day and take "Stanley" with me when I went to an event and then would tell them a story about what Remembrance Day means and ask them what it means to them.  I even hid "Stanley" in trees when the leaves were changing colour and then talked about "Fall" and the changes that occur on maple trees (in Ontario, Canada). 

The possibilities are just have to remember to bring him with you, but if not, just draw a Stanley (doesn't have to be good) and snap a picture!  Or make up your own character and tell the kids this is Stanley's friend...or your new friend.  It's a good way to tell a story about something that you like to do, and feel free to get your friends involved (everyone loves doing it).  Also a good way to educate your grandkids on geography, history, or events that have meaning in all of our lives.  You can "hide" him or have him out in the open.  That part is up to you...  Watch the excitement on your kids/grandkids faces when you do send pictures of him...that part is well worth it.

Other people have used things like pictures of a cat, dog, or a character that you all like (and it could be one that you made up too!).  It's all about taking photos and telling a bit of a story. 

HINT:  Do a Search for "Flat Stanley printable" and you will get a cut-out of him to use.  Best to print on harder paper or getting him laminated so that he doesn't get wrecked.  You can colour him or get your grandkids/kids to colour him.  Believe me, it will be worth it!

Poem for Grandchildren

I did this poem for my grandchildren to give them some insight into my life as a child, but to also share some "Words of Wisdom". You can make a poem for your grandchildren too. I am sure they will enjoy it when they get older (or when their parents - or you - read it to them).

From your Grannie
Your Grannie is someone, who loves you a lot
And in her heart, you will always hold a big spot
But who was I, when I was little like you
What did I do for fun, and did my dreams come true?

When I was born, I was a little bit chubby
I had fair skin, and black hair that was fuzzy
The nurses took one look and said, she looks liked Snow White
And my mother was proud and she said they were right

I grew up in a house, that was pretty small
With five brothers and three sisters, it was always quite full
I didn’t have a lot of toys, because there was no money to buy them
But I always had something to play with, because I used my imagination

School was fun, but days off were better
We always played outside, no matter the weather
Winter meant tobogganing, and skating too
And sometimes we would build a snow fort, that we crawled into

Summer was for swinging, and climbing up trees
And going for swims, at the river down the street
We didn’t have lots of paper, so wrote stories and drew pictures in the sand
We would finish one chapter, then wipe it off with our hand

I was always afraid of heights, and I didn’t like the dark
We had a farmer’s field to play in, but it wasn’t a park
We had to use an outhouse, no real toilet for us
We didn’t have a car, so we walked, biked, or took a bus

We would all sit around, our little black and white TV
Once a year we watched The Wizard of Oz, and in one part I would scream
I dreamed of being a Princess, with lots of beautiful dresses with frills
I wanted to be Cinderella, living in a castle on a hill

Did my young dreams come true, well, not really you see
But I’m not sad about that, no, not in the least
Life isn’t about money, or the things that you want
It’s about health and love, and being happy with what you’ve got

Always be yourself, your friends should like you that way
Put your shyness on the shelf, and speak up when you have something to say
Every now and then, give someone a surprise
And always be willing to compromise

Love your family…and love yourself!

To my Grandkids who truly make me happy!

Love, Grannie

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Long Distance Doesn't Mean Gone!

UPDATE:  Since my grandkids moved away, overall, I have probably spent as much (or more) quality time with them as I did before.  I used to visit them one evening a week but it was usually a rushed-time and not much quality time.  Now, when I see them, it's all about me and them and spending time together and having fun (well, as much as mommy and daddy will let us).  I don't get to see the daily things they do that make them special, but facebook takes care of a lot of that ha ha.  I communicate with them by e-mail, Skype, facetime, messaging, sending cards and stories, and the odd "surprise", and also by playing the games they do (or at least "Googling" to find out what they are talking about ha ha.)  They are getting older and have lots going on with dance, etc., so the 'Story Before Bed', as much fun as it was, isn't happening so much anymore but the books we did read together, or apart, are available to us for as long as we want) and the kids still like to do it when I'm with them and encouraging them to do it for me ha ha... 


Well, it's happening; I will soon be a long distance grandparent. My son is moving because he has a job offer in another Province and the bonus is that he will only have to work 1 job instead of 3, so as much as I enjoy my Grannie-time, my grandkids enjoy their daddy-time too and this opportunity will allow them to spend more time together, which is fantastic, so I can't be too upset about this change of events. I will definitely miss being able to hop in my car and visit them when I want though but I will survive and so will my grandchildren. I have had a great opportunity to establish a connection with them early on and I don't plan to let that slip away from me. The old wheels are already spinning as I get prepared for this change. What do I need to do to ensure I am spending as much time with them as I am used to? Well, I'm lucky enough to be living in a great age of technology so keeping in touch by facetime (on my new iPad) or by Skyping, is a start; which will mean I have to get used to apps, etc., but I have no problems learning all about that now that I have a great reason to. Of course, this will have to be coordinated with their parents in order for it to work and for me not to be seen as a nuisance rather than someone everyone wants to hear from, ie, I will need to find out what time is best, what day is best, etc. Also, I will need to keep in touch to be sure I know about special events so that I can make an "appearance" at those important times but also so we can talk about them. It seems there are a lot of good apps that are interactive that we can share too like Readeo or A Story Before Bed are two sites that I am going to try. There are other ways to keep in touch though too; how about the old-fashioned "snail mail" (as it is now referred to). Kids love getting things in the mail that has their name on it; magazine subscriptions, cards, letters, gift boxes, crafts (that I can send them to do then can either watch them make it or see the finished product on facetime), sending magnets of me and their family for their fridge; the possibilities are endless! And there is always the phone but with facetime Or Skyping you can actually "see and talk" rather than just talking - keeping in mind their short attention spans and they can't appreciate a funny face on the phone!

Now, for everyone who is feeling sorry for me because they know how much I love my Grannie-time (and who doesn't), I will be fine. Some people even think I will need new children to replace my own when they move away but be assured that I don't need anyone but my own grandchildren; they are moving...they are not GONE. Remember, even if you are in the same City or close enough to drive, you can enjoy some of these long-distant tips too; I never thought of these things before but there's no reason not to take advantage of these opportunities even when you are close! As much as it will be a change for everyone, it's also an exciting time for them, with a new home, new friends and a new City to explore so I am happy for them, even though I will definitely miss them. Nothing will replace being able to hug and kiss them in person but that's what visits are for and before I visit, I'll get mommy and daddy (instead of me trying to send in the mail) to get them some little chocolate kisses so they can count down with kisses until we see each other again in person and I will get myself some chocolate kisses too so we can count down together. Enjoy watching your grandkids spread their wings and be there to hear about their adventures! Love what grandkids bring to your life no matter what the circumstances.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Story time

UPDATE:  I always talk to my grandkids about stories and ask them what they want a story about.  They have sometimes "quirky" ideas, but I work with it as much as I can.  My grandson once suggested I write a story about "a man who didn't have a name"...well, that was a challenge, but we did it, and we even did a play about it.  Other kids have asked me to write about things like "peacocks", "a BLOB pet" and I even had one adult ask me to write a story about Amazon animals and she suggested the pink dolphin, which I did and she loves it (she is from Brazil).  My grandkids enjoy reading the other stories too, not just the ones they  suggested or are in.  I have a special book for each of them, but now it's just about whatever we want to write about and I hope they will cherish them forever, but I know that I enjoyed writing them and that's all that matters to me.


One of the highlights of a visit with my grandchildren is seeing the look of excitement on their faces when I read stories to them. Of course, since my granddaughter now knows how to read a few words, she would rather "read the book herself", but her younger brother isn't quite so patient as to sit and listen to her try and sound out the words and I don't want him to lose interest in reading, so sometimes I will read him a book and she will sit beside us and "read" her own story. A few times though, she has surprised me by yelling out, "Don't turn the page yet Grannie...I want to see what's happening", so although she's not always reading with us, she's definitely listening ha ha

If possible, set aside some quiet time for reading stories and make sure everyone has an age-appropriate book to enjoy. You can help to make storytime fun by being as animated and creative as possible. If everyone is not enjoying the story, or you see they are distracted, stop reading and just talk about the pictures or ask them to look for letters in their name or words that they know. Don't force storytime - it has to be fun if they are going to want to keep reading. Just come back to it another time, or maybe try another book. I find that it is also fun to ask questions while reading, ie, how they might react in the same situation as the storybook character or what they think about what's happening in the story or even what they think will happen next. Maybe you can even teach them a song that goes with the storybook or the characters in the story.

You could also try making up your own stories and asking them to help you draw the characters and write their very own story. Try to keep in mind, the interest of everyone who is listening to the story though, ie, maybe your grandson likes dragons and your granddaughter likes princesses. Use your imagination. It doesn't have to be a long story and it doesn't have to be perfect.

As your grandchildren get older, you may just be encouraging them to "read to you or by themselves" and that's okay too.

Whether you are reading to them or they are reading to you, reading is important but should also be fun, and we can do our part to help parents and teachers instill the love of reading in children.