Monday, February 5, 2018

Welcome Little One - A Keepsake Baby Book and a Giveaway

The Welcome Little One Keepsake Baby Book by Kristin Baird Rattini published by National Geographic is exquisite.  It is unlike the bland keepsake books that are most common.  It is unique modern....captivating.  As you would expect from a National Geographic publication, it features striking pictures of baby animals throughout the book.  

Some of my favorite parent and baby animal pictures….

In addition to pages to record every month's activities of the first year there are these wonderful pages to record other information.  Here a couple of my favorites:
All about Grandparents - Of course one of my favorites

Bedtime - Such an Important Time of Day

The pages with quotes by famous people compliment the story of a child’s first year as you record them.  Here are two of my favorite quote pages:

The journal is very thorough and includes pages for celebrations, monthly milestones and pleasures, bathtime, bedtime, first haircut, first tooth, first foods and more.  It doesn’t end when the baby reaches one year old.  Near the end of the book there is a place to add a picture each year until twelfth grade.

At the back of the book are these stickers to use when taking monthly pictures.  Plus there are a bunch of extra stickers for events like first bath, first haircut, first road trip and more.  My favorites are the I love (heart) grandma and I love grandpa stickers.  And there are two sets of them!  These stickers are especially nice to use when posting pictures on social media so it is clear what the milestone is that you are commemorating.

Every family should have a first year keepsake book and the Welcome Little One by National Geographic is by far the most beautiful one I have seen.  This is a perfect baby shower or new baby gift. 
And you are one of the first to know about it.  It is published on February 6th – tomorrow – but it is available on Amazon today for ordering.

Giveaway Information

One lucky winner will receive a Welcome Little One Keepsake Book.
It is easy to enter and there are two ways. Both ways count as an entry so you get two entries if you do both.  I need to be able to contact you if you win. If you enter -  email me with your email address at  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.
Two ways to win:
Leave a comment here on the blog
Like The Grandma Chronicles facebook page - click here
You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: February 22, 2018 at midnight. This item can be sent to US addresses only.
Full Disclosure:  This review is my own objective opinion.  I did not get paid to write this review.  I did receive a copy of the book in order to complete the review.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Grandma Goes to Barbados!!!

Last week I had the best Winter break ever.  I went to Barbados on vacation and had a wonderful time.  When we lead busy lives including caring for children and grandchildren it is important to remember to take the time for self care.  This can be difficult or near impossible for Moms, but Grandmas……no excuses.  As we get older it is even more important to take some time outs and just relax.  And I did just that!

Here are some photos from my January vacation in Barbados where the weather was in the low 80s everyday versus the below freezing we had for most of January in New Jersey.  I hope these encourage you to start planning some time off.

I stayed at two different places in the same week.  First I was at a serene small inn with only 9 rooms.  Their guests are mostly British and Canadian and there is a genteel feel about the place with breakfast on the veranda, a peaceful pool and a short block walk to the beach.  Each morning, the famous local green monkeys saunter past in the garden as you have breakfast. No TVs on the premises - it is a good place to have a respite from the news.

If are looking for a serene, quiet place for a vacation, check out Bayfield House in Barbados.
Relaxing at the Beach 

Dining out locally near Bayfield House....

Barbados is a safe island to travel around and has lots of excellent restaurants.  Dining near Bayfield House - oceanfront at sunset was my favorite time of day. Here I am holding a Rum Punch at Bombas in Mullins and sitting at Jumas in Speightstown.

I finished the week at the Tropical Sunset "self catering" hotel in Holetown.  This place is situated between two beach bars and in fact one of them extends in front of the pool.  After the pool take a few steps to the beach and sunbeds are available right there.  There is a galley kitchen, nice size room with cable TV and patio overlooking the ocean.  This is a very social environment with mostly a retired crowd many of whom are here for 3 - 8 weeks in the winter. 

Here I am getting ready for the social life at the Tropical Sunset....

Every kind of boating opportunity is available including jet skis, glass bottom boats, sailboats, etc. Swim with the turtles, snorkel and more.  All just steps from my room.

Every morning there is horseback riding at the water's edge....

Eating out  - and outside  - in Holetown is a delight whether it is breakfast at Flindt Patisserie, lunch at Carizma or dinner at Nishi.

But my favorite time of day is sunset and sunset watching over the ocean is a favorite activity of locals and visitors alike.  Whether it was on the beach, at a restaurant, at a beach bar or on my patio in Holetown I was there for sunset watching everyday of my vacation.  Here are just a few photos to whet your appetite.

And in conclusion...this Grandma had a wonderful vacation and I wish you many happy vacations too.  Good for the body and good for the soul.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

My Three Guiding Words for 2018 - Love, Resilience and Action

Rather than New Year’s resolutions, I recommend this plan:  Choose three words that have personal meaning to you that you will use as guideposts for 2018.  No, I didn’t come up with that idea – Chris Brogan did.  Chris is a major social media guru and I first learned of this idea several years ago as it is a big thing among my nonprofit online community.  You can read his whole article on this subject here.

Chris further explains:  “Make the words such that they influence your choice of actions, encourage you to decide in favor of your goals, and guide you towards lasting results that you want to experience throughout the year.

That all sounds oriented to people in the prime of their careers but it works for us retired Grandmas too.  I like the idea of having a guiding focus for the year much better than making resolutions that are not going to happen.

Here are my three words for 2018.

Love, resilience, action. Let me explain what each means to me.

Still crazy in love after all these years

I am 69 years old and have been married to my husband for over 47 years. We raised two children who have blessed us with three grandchildren. I know what love means.  I am incredibly lucky to have my children live nearby and this means I get to see my grandchildren often and be part of their lives.  This year, I want to consciously make sure I always cherish this privilege, try to always be there when needed and be receptive to the love that is offered to me.  As a strong willed, independent spirited person these are not idle goals.

There is truth in the adage “It isn’t easy getting old.”  My mind still wants to multitask but my brain says forget it.  My mind wants to do the things I did 30 years ago, but my body does not cooperate.  Adapting to change – not only in the world but also in my own capabilities – is important.  That doesn’t mean giving up but it does mean being willing to make adjustments.  Webster’s definition of resilience is: “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”  Here is a small example of something we have done in the last several years.  We have hosted a New Year’s Eve party for close to 40 years.  A few years ago we changed the time of the party to 6 to 10 PM.  Turned out everyone liked that idea.  Since then, every year I have modified the food I prepare to be a little more simple and guess what -  that is just fine.  I am not giving up entertaining but I will definitely be open to help and modifying plans.  In 2018 I plan to apply this to other activities – rather than give up things, what adjustments can I make to still do the things I want to do.  For instance, I still plan to go into New York to toy shows for material for this blog but perhaps I don't have to be at the Javitz Center at 8 AM for the early morning special events by host companies at Toy Fair.  Well...maybe...if the weather cooperates....

At Turtle Back Zoo for Light Show in the frigid cold with my grandson
My grandson with his Mom doing more of the work baking Christmas cookies this year
Opening Parade for Toy Fair 2017 - 8:30 AM at Javitz Center

This builds on resilience.  As I get older I realize that the clock is ticking on my being able to do things that I want to do and/or haven’t done yet.  Don’t delay!  This doesn’t just mean taking those trips that I thought about but didn’t take or doing wild things on a bucket list.  It means doing things with my grandchildren that I can but may be a stretch.  It means being activist about issues that are important to me.  It means volunteering to do things that require physical energy.  I am determined to not tell myself to slow down too much while at the same time being cognizant of what makes sense.

On mentoring trip with my high school - at Lincoln Center, NYC on a very cold day
I hope to do all of these activities in 2018 and more.  But also I want to be smart enough to make adjustments if necessary.

So these are my three guiding words for 2018 - Love, Resilience and Action.  I recommend this activity. Chris Brogan says to  “Write these words down. Post them everywhere. Schedule them to pop up in your calendar. And use these words as part of your decision-making process every day.”  Well that may be more than I do, but I do plan to have them pop up once a month in my calendar.

What do you think of this idea?  What are your words for 2018?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas Books for Children of All Ages

I love to establish and practice traditions.   One of my favorite traditions is reading our Christmas books each December.  They are enjoyed each year now by my grandson and they bring back memories of which were my children's favorites.  I keep a box of Christmas books in the closet and every year right after Thanksgiving, I take out the box and they become the preferred reading with my grandson. At first when I had a grandchild, the box had favorites that I read with my children. But there are lots of new books and a Christmas book collection always needs updating.  Don’t wait for Christmas to start your library of Christmas books.  Kids enjoy reading about Christmas throughout December.  There are a couple on this list that I am eyeing for my 2 year old grandson and 1 year old granddaughter.

In no particular order, here are some Christmas theme book recommendations.  I have chosen these particular books because I think they all have that special something which will make them want to be read every year….even after they are presumably outgrown.

National Geographic Kids Weird but True Christmas
My grandson is in the third grade and this is the first year he has Social Studies so he is learning about places and people from all over the world.  This book has fun facts and Christmas customs from all over the US and the rest of the world. Older kids will enjoy flipping through this book over and over again throughout the Christmas season and will find lots of things to share with friends. I received a review copy of this book and my grandson really enjoys it.  Here are some sample fun fact pages:

But that's not all there is a video to compliment the book at the National Geographic website and on youtube.  Check it out here.

The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Emma Randall

When my kids were little we celebrated the 12 days of Christmas – exchanging a gift or doing something special every day.  So this song and books based on it always have a soft spot in my heart.  This hardcover version is a new publication and beautifully illustrated.  It will be enjoyed for a lifetime of Christmases and makes for a great family and group read.

The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving

There is always a lesson in each of the Berenstain Bear books and the stories are always told in such a way that they are enjoyable.  Remembering that at Christmas there is joy in giving not just receiving is an important message for us to teach our kids and grandkids.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama

The Llama Llama books are one of my favorite series.  And this brand new one is especially cute.  Llama Llama doesn’t like all the waiting for Christmas and is getting impatient.  But there is a gentle an loving lesson in values to be told among the beautiful illustrations and fun.

Little Blue Truck’s Christmas

The Little Blue Truck is a favorite book with toddlers and this Christmas version will also be a hit.  The Little Blue Truck delivers Christmas trees to his animal trees and at the end the lights on the tree light up.  Yes there are batteries, but The Little Blue Truck is probably one that you will want to revisit every year.

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas

Every preschooler and kindergartner is familiar with and loves the Pete the

Cat books.  They are a staple at school and must have at home.  The award winning book series is also now an Amazon TV series.  This book tells Twas the Night Before Christmas with a Pete the Cat spin.  This book is a guaranteed winner for many years to come.  An extra - beautiful foil jacket.  I bought this for my grandson when he was in kindergarten and he was super excited to receive it.

Christmas Day in the Morning

By Pearl Buck Illustrated by Mark Buehner

This classic heartwarming story of a boy with very little money who wants a special gift for his father will come alive in this beautifully illustrated book.  This is a book which stands the test of time and will be read every year as a Christmas tradition.

You can get all of these books at Amazon.  Click on the pictures below to go directly to Amazon.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Gifts That Grandparents Will Love to Give Plus a Giveaway

How Do I Come Up with the Holiday Guide for Grandparents?
I go to toys shows throughout the year and see thousands of toys – yes literally thousands.   I take over a thousand pictures plus notes when I see something that I think I might like to recommend.  In the Fall I go through all of this and make a list of potential items to be on my lists.  There are the toys that I know will be advertised heavily which will put them on your grandchildren’s holiday gift lists.  Then there are the toys that have caught my eye that I think the kids will enjoy and some that you will enjoy playing with the grandkids.  That is why I make multiple lists.  Here are my three Holiday Gift Guide articles:

Gifts That Grandparents Will Love to Give Plus a Giveaway
Books and Books with Plush Holiday Gift Ideas  (Coming Soon)
This article features toys that probably won’t be on your grandchildren’s lists but that you should consider giving anyway. Most are in the affordable range and are not bank breakers. My Hot Toys article focused on toys that your grandkids may ask for.  This is a list of toys that YOU and your grandchild will like too.  Most of all, many you can enjoy together.

Final notes:
  • There are lots of holiday toy guides this time of year but mine is unique.  This is a guide from a grandmother’s perspective. It is my HONEST opinion -  not just corporate PR. 
  • Most of these pictures are mine - not stock photos.  Some are less than perfect with other stuff in the background. But they portray the real deal.
  • If I say "Ages X and up, up, up"  I am referring to generations - meaning two or more generations up will enjoy playing with this item.
  • First up is a classic toy for toddlers and it is the giveaway for the gifts Grandparents will Love to Give List.  See the giveaway details at the end of the post.
Read to me Tot Tower           Ages 2+

We all remember our kids playing with these cardboard building blocks and they are still fun.  I particularly like this one because in addition to large motor skills it teaches language skills.  Rather than just a shape or color, each brightly colored block features a question.  The Tot Tower is a winner of the Oppenhein Blue Chip Classic Award.  By eeboo.

Peppa Pig Tea Time Role Play  Ages 2+

This set is very cute and will provide lots of play opportunity with the Peppa Pig characters that young children love.  It has 11 pieces including teapot, cups, saucers, teaspoons and soft Teddy and Mr. Dinosaur characters. Kids love the pouring sound the teapot makes. Five star rating at Amazon. By Jazwares.

Camping Lodge          Ages 4+

This playmobil playset is very detailed and has lots of moving parts to play camping with including an archery set and a zip line.  I love the zip line.  The lodge is fully equipped inside and outside. It even has an outside shower and campfire.  This Playmobil playset will provide hours of imaginative play. By Playmobil.

GeoSafari Solar Rover        Ages 8+

This is a pretty cool item for kids to learn about solar power.  You cast shadows or let the sun shine on the solar panels to get the rover moving and control its direction.  This is a fun toy for learning STEM concepts.  Although recommended for 8 and up, you can play with a younger child who is interested in science. By Educational Insights.

Plush and Dolls

Gund Winky Lamb Rattle            Age Newborn+

This is a small gift item that you can’t go wrong with.  This cuddly lamb is also a soft rattle.  It is small and may be that special item that an infant grabs onto and cherishes. At 4 1/2 inches, it is small enough for the youngest baby. Super cute.  Highest quality that you expect from Gund.

Baby Papaya Bunny                 Age Newborn+

If you prefer bright colors, this bunny is an excellent choice.  The stitched features, soft velour, crinkly sound and 7 ½ inches length make this an excellent choice for the youngest baby.  By eeboo.

Snug up Dolls               Ages 6 months+

These snug up dolls come in boy and girl versions.  They are soft bodied – great for snuggling -  and have safe embroidered eyes and facial features.  The clothes are also sewn on and can’t be taken off.  They are 11.5 inches tall and washable.  This is an excellent first doll for a baby to play with.  By HABA.

Barbie – You Can Be Anything line    Ages 3+
Barbie dolls continue to be the most popular dolls with little girls and Mattel continues to innovate with this brand.  My favorite Barbie is the “You Can Be Anything” line.  The dolls are dressed in outfits representing various careers – both traditional and non-traditional. Farmers, soccer players, pediatrician, scientist, ballerina and more. There are also playsets corresponding with the dolls.  By Mattel.

Games and Puzzles
I am all about playing games and putting together puzzles with grandchildren of all ages and so here are some of my favorites to play with every age…   Start young and never stop playing.

Arranging Game Rainbow Caterpillar    Ages 18 Months+

This cute caterpillar puzzle can be put together with fewer pieces to start and then more are added as a toddler gets more advanced.   13 pieces in total.  HABA makes high quality toys for infants and toddlers.  It is a brand to look for.  By Haba.

Hoot Owl Hoot           Ages 4+

Hoot Owl Hoot is not new but it has won numerous awards and is still a best seller. This is a cooperative game in which players work together to win the game rather than against each other.  Players try to get all the owls to the nest before the sun rises and then everyone wins.  By Peaceable Kingdom.

Sneaker Puzzle - American Style        Ages 8 and Up, Up, Up

There are 108 numbered plastic pieces that must be put together in order.  It is fun to put together and fun to keep as a pencil holder.  The ages on the box says 8 - 99 and that is about right.  Once the puzzle is put together there is a plastic insert which allows the puzzle to be useful as a holder.  Gets an intergenerational A+ for working with a child under 8. Grandchild tested at our place. By Ravensburger.

Miss Bernard is a Wild Card (Weird School) Game    Ages 6+

This game is based on the popular Weird School books and it features well known characters in the books.  It is fun and educational.  Each player has his/her own sentence game board. In turn you draw from the deck of cards and try to complete sentences on your individual game board. In addition to laughs galore, the game develops math, reading and strategic thinking skills.  It is a perfect grandparent/grandchild game to play with elementary school age children.  You will be the cool grandparent who knows about the Weird School books if you get this game. By All Things Equal.

Uno Emoji           Ages 7 and Up, Up, Up

This is a classic card game where luck and strategy meet to create surprise winners.  Kids who love emojis – I personally know some – will love this version.  Priced under $10 it is a perfect stocking stuffer, travel game or grandchild visiting game to have on hand. By Mattel.

I apologize for the poor picture.  The Uno Emoji game was part of a bigger display when I took this picture.

And to all a Good Night Family Jigsaw Puzzle Ages 6 and Up, Up, Up

You may have an extended visit with the grandkids over Christmas vacation and a holiday themed family puzzle can be just the thing to hit the spot. This family puzzle features pieces in three different sizes designed with large pieces on the outside for the young ones, and small pieces on the inside for more experienced puzzlers.  We completed one of these family puzzles with our grandson when he was younger and it was a lot of fun to work on together.  By Springbok.

For Older Children and Ages Up, Up, Up
Once kids reach about eight years old they are much harder to shop for.  Their lists have more things like video games and stuff you never heard of.  Here are a few other options.  And these may be great intergenerational fun. 

Remote-Control Machines: Construction Vehicles  Ages 6 and Up, Up, Up

You can build 8 different models of construction vehicles that are controlled with a remote-control unit with this set.  There is a step by step guide for building the machines and the process has been simplified so that younger children can build them with some help.  The set comes with a 64 page manual to guide you through the building process and it also provides a STEM learning opportunity with information about how they work and physics concepts of force, torque and simple machine principles.  This is an excellent grandparent/grandchild project to work on together.  By Thames and Kosmos.

LEGO Women of NASA    Ages 8 and Up, Up, Up

This LEGO set just came on the market on November 1st and it instantly became the number 1 best selling toy.  Grandmothers especially love it. They are lighting up my facebook page declaring their purchase - even for pretty young grandchildren. We grew up with the excitement around space exploration but the first we knew that women had anything to do with it was in 1983 when Sally Ride was the first female astronaut to go into space.  Last year, with the Hidden Figures movie we learned about the key role of black women.  Turns out lots of women have always been involved with the space program. This set is in the LEGO IDEAS line of building sets suggested by LEGO fans.  It features minifigures of 4 pioneering women of NASA— astronomer Nancy Grace Roman, computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, astronaut, physicist and entrepreneur Sally Ride and astronaut, physician and engineer Mae Jemison—and 3 builds illustrating their areas of expertise.  Interested in encouraging girls to pursue STEM careers?  This is a must have.  Bonus - very reasonably priced!

Art with Edge Pop Art

Crayola’s Art with Edge line is aimed at Tweens and Teens but should also be popular with adults as the coloring craze continues. It is a line of wacky, wild coloring pages. This new set called “Pop Art” features 18 dark colored pages that “pop” in bright colors when colored with Pop Art colored markers.  I thought these made beautiful finished products and should be a nice gift for the “difficult to buy for” age group.   By Crayola.

Giveaway Information
One lucky winner will receive a Read to Me Tot Tower by eeboo.

It is easy to enter and there are two ways. Both ways count as an entry so you get two entries if you do both.  I need to be able to contact you if you win. If you enter -  email me with your email address at  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.

Two ways to win:

Leave a comment here on the blog
Like The Grandma Chronicles facebook page - click here

You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: November 25, 2017 at midnight. This item can be sent to US addresses only. 

You can find all of these items at Amazon.  Click on the links below to go to Amazon.