Suzy's Blog - Reflecting on Grandkids and Grandparenting

        Great Ideas !



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Jan & Neil Coberly
The fairy with her tea and goodies arrived when the grandchildren were very young. She’s now a tradition, eagerly anticipated when the out-of- town grandchildren
come to visit. Initially, the doorbell rang and there on the doorstep was a tray with miniature cups of hot chocolate, and tasty little edibles, all brought by an illusive, disappearing, magic fairy. As the years passed the event has been embellished by hints from the fairy left here and there to let the children know she’s around. As you can see in the picture, those children are old enough to be getting skeptical about the actuality of fairies, but they’re not about to let her go.


Jan & Neil Coberly
How about an African Safari right here in the United States? On a wildlife preserve in Santa Rosa, Ca., you can view 500 animals from an open - air, jeep - style vehicle, sleep in a tent cabin surrounded by the night sounds of the jungle, and reconnect with nature in comfort. No lions or tigers, but zebras, giraffes, lemurs, addax, and cape buffalo await you. Jan and Neil Coberly treated four of their grandchildren to this experience. All were enthusiastic, including the “Grands”. For information:


Bev Docter
 I call it the frog project – an example of what lengths we grandparents will go for our grandchildren.

Bev bought an aquarium called Planet Frog - $23.00. (Google Planet frog) for her granddaughter Hannah’s eleventh birthday. Tadpoles were purchased from the order form enclosed in the aquarium(about $13.00). Eight weeks later, two tadpoles in water and a box of tadpole food arrived. Two/three weeks later, one of the tadpoles metamorphosed into a handsome leopard frog with green and black spots. The other tadpole, developmentally challenged, has yet to achieve complete frogness but he’s making progress.

Before you get carried away by the idea, know that caring for these little guys is challenging. First of all, you need bottled water. Once you have a frog, you need to feed him 3 or 4 live crickets every other day. These you buy at your local pet store for 10 cents apiece. The crickets need a house. Bev and Hannah built one, covering a small box with screening taped to the sides. Inside went a small lid for water. Crickets need to drink water and also eat - fresh lettuce.

Happily the aquarium has a special opening for inserting food, but, have you ever tried to catch a cricket? Bev has made a paper funnel which is helpful All crickets, frog, and almost frog reside in Bev’s guest bathroom.

Despite the complexities of care and feeding, everyone has been enthusiastic about the project - even Grandmother!

Frog Aquarium

Leopard Frog

Ann Kalar
 At your local pottery painting outlet, choose a ceramic piece and create your own design. Shown here are self portraits on tiles created by Ann K"s grandchildren. Ann took one look and said, "I have to have these!". The process is simple: 1. Choose your ceramic piece. 2. Pick your design. 3. Select your colors. 4. Create your masterpiece!

There are many stores and franchises throughout the U.S. Several are linked below. Check locally for a store near you. (This site lists all locations)


A great idea from Grandmother Idonna Snow who keeps a daily journal. Included in it's pages are semi-annual interviews which she does with her grandchildren. She's done this for years and now has quite an accumulation of each child's history. Twice a year she sits down privately with each grandchild and asks the following questions:

     1. What is your favorite day of the week (Sat. or Sun. not allowed) and what do you do on that day - i.e. school, favorite class, favorite teacher, lunchtime activities, after school sports, the full day.
     2. What kinds of clothes are you wearing?
     3. What books are you reading? What are your favorite TV. programs and movies? What do you think of girls for boys, what do you think of boys for girls?
     4. How do you feel about college or high school? Who are your friends, what are they like? How's life?
     5. Anything else you want to add?

She also records their height and weight and has them draw a picture of a special friend. All this goes into her journal, preserved for a posterity that Grandparents, the grandchildren and their parents will treasure.



Ronnie Rudolph
Build-A-Bear workshops are located throughout the U.S. The process is simple: 1. Select a bear or another animal like a bunny. 2. Stuff the bear. 3.Choose a heart. 4. Sew together. 5. Fluff and add clothes.6. Name your animal and take them home. Prices range from $10 and up, depending upon the accessories. Parties are also hosted at the Build-A-Bear retail stores.

Click for details and photos of the process at "Scott's Birthday Outing" from Gogo and Papa...


For birthdays we take our two grandchildren to lunch followed by a shopping spree at a store or stores of their choice. We set what we consider a generous price limit for the birthday person - always exceeded, The "unbirthday" person shops too with half that amount - always exceeded. Deciding is a lengthy process , maybe more fun than the actual getting. Pictured is Malia with "Tiggy", the tiger she just had to have.


Claudia transferred her grandchildren’s artwork to a needlepoint canvas, recreating their efforts in another medium. I imagine her weaving her thread in and out with a big smile on her face. What fun! She plans to frame this “masterpiece” and hang it.


Ronnie Rudolph
We gave the four Campbell grandchildren fleece lined crocs for Christmas. I ordered the four reindeer croc charms online and they sent them to me with the bonus maple leaf. These charms are specific to fit in the holes of the crocs. 'Twas my idea to send it on to them with their four reindeer with added on red noses. Then I suggested they give the maple leaf, a nice non-conventional symbol of excellence, to whomever deserved it that week, that day, that month...with the rules up to them.

I checked Google for the story behind the croc charms and it is charming:

Granddaughter Mary writes:

Dear Gogo and Papa,

 I got good grads at school i got 100's all down the paper!last
 week Scott got it (the maple leaf). we enjoy the Mapllaef.

Love, Mary

 PS- Mary typed this email and she is learning how to type! (The Mom)

  NEW GRANDMA'S GUIDLINES (and some hits for Moms, too).

Ellen Letoureau
As I ready my house and body for a week-long visit with my 17-month old grandson, I realize that I wasn’t the “throw-away queen” my husband has called me for 35 years. I actually retained many treasured objects my children so enjoyed as they were growing. Not only did I keep the Lego’s and He-man goodies, I also kept memories of those years which are now aiding me in my preparations for a fun-filled, active week with my first grandchild.

I prefer to think of myself as Mrs. Organization. So I contemplate the seven days I’ll be spending with Aidan with that skill in mind. What, I mused, will he need to be as stimulated at Grandma and Grandpa’s as he is at home or at his Montessori school? Then it came to me. His daddy may be 33 years old, and times have certainly changed, but little ones still like adventures.

Read through your child’s baby book to reacquaint yourself with his or her 1st birthday gifts…great traditions are there to be revisited. My son received his 1st baseball glove and wagon from his grandfather, and 32 years later, so did his son.

Go to the basement and/or attic and unbox your child’s favorite toys which I know you kept stored. And, if your space was too limited, many of those toys are still available online. These hold great memories and stories to be recounted to your new grandchild. There, hidden among all of the multiple years’ Christmas decorations, was my son’s wobble and jingle Santa that my grandson played with all Christmas day.

Of course, we don’t always have the storage capacity to save every toy, drawing, or outfit we would like to share with a future grandchild. So, be creative.

Books – The library and Internet stores have all of the classic children’s books that you read to your children. Drag them out, dust them off, and practice the voices that accompanied them years ago and that filled you children with thoughts of fantastic places and people. Another thing I have discovered that was not available when I was raising my children was story-time at the bookstore. Many of these establishments not only sell books, they also provide time and space to introduce young and old ones alike to new authors and stories.

Songs – I am no great songstress, but it is amazing the things I will do to engage my grandchild. I discovered at one local bookstore not only story-time, but sing-along-time. “Row, row, row your boat” became one of my grandson’s favorite activities after our visit.

Pictures – Not wanting to lose the precious photographs that I have filed and stored for years, yet wanting my grandson to see his daddy’s childhood pictures forced me to devise a non-destructive method for sharing. Scanning and uploading to a CD these precious memories took a while, but will be worth the time I will spend describing the context of each to my grandson.

Games – Candyland, Clue, Shutbox, Chutes and Ladders, Sorry…all favorites of my children. Although I managed to hang on to these and others, I may be forced to purchase new games…many of the best pieces are missing. I realize that new games have been created for today’s children, but the oldies are still goodies and should be shared…along with stories of the fun times spent playing them with their parents as children.

Clothes – My mother was a wonderful knitter and made beautiful sweaters for my children. I do not have that ability, but I was aware enough to hang on to a few of these. Sharing them with my grandchild will keep her memory alive and add a new level of appreciation for her love.

Foods – Since my husband and I have been “empty-nesters” for a few years, many of the favorite foods of my children have not been made for a long time. Now that we have a grandchild who visits us regularly, those old recipes now have a new clientele. Spaghetti pie, pork chops on orange rice, mustard meatballs, and the plethora of favorite cookies are once again keeping me very busy!

Activities – Every school vacation and summer when my children and I were both free from schoolwork, we would scour the surrounding area for new adventures. Visiting the summer camp for the near-by NFL teams, apple-picking in the fall, sledding down the hills and cross-country skiing at the local golf courses, and touring fun historical attractions were opportunities to spend time together and learn about each other. Aidan is only 17 months old, but we have already begun recreating these adventures, as well as discovering new ones.

The list could go on for pages, but you get the idea. Enjoy the present with the new generation of your family by reliving the past and preparing for the future ones to come.

Get some QUALITY TIME with YOUR children, you know, the ones you raised! As a special present, invite them to dinner without the grandchildren to a super restaurant of their choice, at a time of their choice. You pick up the tab for dinner and the babysitter. Bon appetite and great, uninterrupted conversation!

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