Friday, April 29, 2016

Sleepovers with Grandparents - Getting Ready and Having Fun

My favorite visits with our six year old grandson are sleepovers.  That’s true for him too.  I remember when we were planning our first sleepover.  I was so worried about how it would go.  Would he cry and want his parents?  Would I get the routines like brushing teeth right?  Would I have the right thing for all the meals?  Turned out there was no need to worry.  He loved the sleepover.  We loved the sleepover.  We needed a nap when he went home even though he was on perfect behavior.  Since then all of our sleepovers are more relaxed than that first one. Here are some basic pieces of advice:


Plan your meals – Have options – and stock up on what you’ll need.  One of our routines is to bake muffins and send home the leftovers for the next day.  I always make sure I have the ingredients for this. I am prepared to cook spaghetti and meatballs or chicken nuggets with celery sticks and ranch dip. Ice cream – check.  Cookies – check. Campbell’s Star Wars soup  – check.  Fresh fruit – check. Chocolate pudding – check. Yes, the kitchen is always open at grandma’s.


Books – I always keep some of my favorites at my house and we read our grandson’s choices among these.  Yes, this is a changing library adapted for age and season.


Plan activities -  We may have a building or craft project, puzzles, outdoor activities such as a Crayola Grab and Go game or sidewalk chalk.  Outings have included a simple visit to the park two blocks away and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.  The dinosaurs!!!!


Be flexible – Young children need a break and so do you.  You really don’t have to do everything you have planned.  If they just want to play alone for a while take some time to relax so you’ll have energy a little later.  If you have  a big thing planned like going to the Museum of Natural History make sure it is a good day for the activity.  If your grandchild does not seem up to it, maybe another time would be better.


Keep It Age Appropriate – Yes, kids get to do and eat things differently than when they are at home.  But that doesn’t mean anything goes.  My grandson is in first grade and one of the things that means is that some of his classmates get to see PG movies.  That is off limits with his parents and so a request to see a movie that I know will not be allowed does not get an okay.


Make sure you are medically ready – I knew that my grandson had an inhaler and it was always in his bag when he visited.  The first time he needed it and I took it out I almost panicked because it was in three parts and I didn’t immediately see how to put it together.  Thankfully, my then 4 year old grandson said, “Give it to me Grandma, I can do it.”  And thankfully he did.  Nowadays, my closet has children’s Tylenol and a couple other children medications.


Safety – Our home is child friendly but it is not childproof.   When Zach was in preschool we had him sleep on an air mattress in our room, the door was kept closed and he was told to use the bathroom next to our bedroom. Next he slept in the room that was his Mom’s and because the hall bathroom is right next to the stairs, he used our bathroom if he got up during the night.  Now we have enough confidence that such precautions are not necessary.  Make sure you plan a safe environment for a sleepover. Your grandchild won't just be in the family room and kitchen.


I was in Barnes and Noble today and looking for a book to bring to a baby shower.  Catching my eye were three books about sleepovers with grandparents and as I looked through them I thought they were perfect.  If you will be having a grandchild sleepover for the first time you may want to get one of these books.  All of them are well illustrated and oh so true!.  These are good books to keep at the grandparents’ house and read during the visit.

All three of these books have 5 star customer ratings at Amazon with hundreds of reviews and they all are available in hardcover and kindle editions.  So no matter what your reading "style, there is an edition for you.



How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan and Lee Wildish


This book  is written and illustrated with humor and truth.  The grandma and granddaughter are just enjoying their time together and they have a loving relationship.
















Everything from the fun in the park to reading together in bed is realistic and will be comforting on sleepover visits.




How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan and Lee Wildish
Don't forget the Grandpas!  This book by the same author/illustrator is equally as good. And so us!  This one features a grandson and his grandfather having a blast together.



















Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa by Anne Dewdney

And for a book about both grandparents this book is one in the very popular (for good reason) Llama Llama series. The little llama is on his first overnight visit with his grandparents and has forgotten his "fuzzy llama" which we all know can be very serious.   But his grandpa helps find a solution and it is a successful sleepover.  This potential situation is one that every child, parent and grandparent can identify with.  Like the other books, this one is wonderfully illustrated and will bring smiles to the faces of grandparents and grandchildren alike.







 

Friday, April 22, 2016

It’s Earth Day – Time to Think Outdoors and About the Environment


Here are some ideas for Spring and having kids engage with our environment now that Spring has sprung and it is Earth Day.All pictures were taken by me at Toy Fair New York.


The Camp Game by Education Outdoors




The Camp Game was the first game developed by a small company called Education Outdoors  and I met the owner/developer at the 2015 Toy Fair in New York.  Tim had a small, but eye catching booth and I talked to him about his products.  He said, “It is our mission to bring families together to interact and learn about the outdoors.”  Check out their website here.   This is a major award winner Dr. Toy awards.











I loved this natural twig colored pencil set also.



Frog Watch:  7 Inch Frogs by Wild Republic






All of these various frogs have sound that have been recorded in the wild with the sound being by the actual frogs.  1 out of 3 amphibians are threatened with extinction.  Part of the profits of this product goes to save the amphibians.  This very authentic product is often sold in museum stores and they are also available at Amazon.













Here is a sampling of these product lines available at Amazon:




Saturday, April 9, 2016

Buggaloop by Ravensburger – A Winner

I first saw the Buggaloop HEXBUG game at Toy Fair NY in February at the Ravensburger booth.  I knew then that I'd like to write about it and so I was eager to see if it was as good as it looked on display when I received a sample to review.



Buggaloop HEXBUG Game by Ravensburger



I held onto the game for when I knew we would have a long enough visit with my grandson to try it out.  And so this week during Spring break out it came.  And enjoy it we did.  Zach, who is 6 years old, loves games and HEXBUG so it was promising.   Turns out its a winner!








Pop (that’s my husband) and Zach easily set the game up and it looked cool even before they started.  The rules are easy and there is a lot of excitement as you try to get across the board without being sent back to start because the HEXBUG has moved your piece off the path.  You try, but sometimes fail to land on a “safe (elevated) space as you work your way across the board.


 


The game comes with a HEXBUG nano V2 and you fire it up, and he makes his way in no particular pattern around the board, knocking the pieces in play all around and then….when you least expect it… he goes into the green or orange clear tunnel and then the players can take turns trying to move their pieces along the board.  When he emerges, you have to stop the movement and watch him wander around the board causing chaos.






Have you ever met someone who isn’t mesmerized watching HEXBUGS?  Pop and Zach really enjoyed playing it and I enjoyed watching them and snapping pictures.  My husband said I should be sure to let you know that this game really is fun.  He enjoyed it too.  To quote the comment he left at my facebook post, "It is really a good thing for a grandparent to play with a child. It's easy, silly, and you don't have to get on the floor."  Perfect grandparent criteria.

Ravensburger Buggaloop HEXBUG Game




After an exciting game of Buggaloop you are ready for cookies and milk.








Buggaloop is made by Ravensburger which is known for their high quality puzzles. This game is also a quality product.  Made in the Czech Republic. It is available at ToysRUs and online at Amazon. 



Full Disclosure:  I received a free Buggaloop game in order to conduct a product review.  The opinion expressed in this article is my own opinion and I have not been paid to write about it.



Monday, March 28, 2016

Our Passover Seder and Christian Service Tradition



A few years ago we revived a tradition that we started with our friends when our own children were young.  Near Easter/Passover we would have a Seder coupled with a Christian communion service.  The Passover meal is considered to be the meal celebrated with Jesus and his Apostles on Holy Thursday.  Celebrating the Passover traditions and coupling it with Christian rituals is an enriching experience for people in the Christian tradition and connects us to our Jewish roots.  Our children always enjoyed this special evening and they learned in a hands-on way how our faith heritages are connected.

In 2013 grandparents – on both sides – felt great that the girls remembered this so fondly and wanted their children to experience it but we were concerned about how it would work with a 2 and 3 year old.  We decided to proceed cautiously and be flexible.  I wrote about our first Seder with our grandsons in this 2013 post.

We all listened attentively as Joan read the Passover book
Now the boys are older and at this year’s Seder, they were eager to participate.  We followed a similar format as we had a few years ago.  First we gathered in the living room and Joan, the other Grandmother, read a Passover book and both boys listened attentively and made comments.  Before she even began to read, her grandson asked if he could ask questions. They remembered searching for the afikomen and where they found it. They both engaged with Joan as she read the Passover book.  It set the stage for what would happen during the Seder.


Then we went to the dining room table for our own Seder.  We used a script and took turns reading. This year our grandson is in first grade and he took his turn reading.  I was really impressed with his ability to read from the script when it was his turn.  There was no accommodation of something simple to read – it was just his turn.  He needed a little help reading parsley but not much else.  The boys had grape juice in stemmed glasses and each sampled some of the Seder foods.

I think they most enjoyed opening the front door for Elijah and finding the afikomen. Two young boys always want to get up and move around and for it to be something you are supposed to do – well now that’s a good deal. Yes – we had two afikomen (Matzoh wrapped in a napkin) hidden in different places.  My grandson was proud that he could also participate in the reading.

After the Seder service, we enjoyed a meal together – 2 families, 3 generations celebrating and enjoying a religious and historically cultural experience together.  Joan and I are already talking about updating some of the material as the boys are older and are ready for a more advanced version next year.

I encourage you to adapt your religious and spiritual rituals for the young children in your families and to establish traditions.  Our grown children love the traditions they experienced as young children and now I appreciate the opportunity to celebrate these traditions with our grandchildren.

Biblical References
Old Testament:   Exodus 12:1-14
New Testament:   John 13:1-17, 31b-35