Thanksgiving theatrics: Family fun galore courtesy What Happens at Grandma's

Thanksgiving theatrics: Family fun galore courtesy What Happens at Grandma's

My friend Grandma Joyce from What Happens at Grandma's has done it again: crafted a creative and clever holiday activity for kids! This time it's for Thanksgiving, and this time it's unique among Thanksgiving arts and crafts found online because it's performance art — a three-act play for grandkids to perform for friends and family on Turkey Day. Thank you for sharing, Joyce!

The kids don't know it yet, but they're going to superstar in a post-dinner Thanksgiving play at grandma's this year. Considering their love of theatrics, I'm confident they'll gobble up this opportunity right along with savory sweet potatoes served on the rapidly approaching family day of thankful...

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Summer's simple pleasures: When did you last...

summer simple pleasures

Summer is the season of simple pleasures. A time for sweet, spontaneous — often spectacularly serendipitous — silliness such as those moments we remember from childhood. Our own childhood, possibly the childhoods of our children.

Simple pleasures we've set aside — perhaps even forgotten — in our ongoing pursuit of grand adventures, grand outings, grand activities to share with our grand kids. Simple stuff we've likely not done in far too long.

When did you last...

• jump rope?

• skip down the sidewalk?

• play freeze tag?

• sip root beer floats from a frosty mug?

• run through the sprinkler?

• have a water fight — with the garden hose, buckets...

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Pool time with PawDad

My grandsons have a swimming pool in the back yard of their home in the desert. Though I've had the pleasure of splishing and splashing with them in it a time or two, Jim — who due to job demands hasn't been able to visit the boys as often as I — last saw the pool when it was in progress and merely a big ol' hole in the ground.

Jim's perspective on the pool changed this past Sunday.

My husband and I took a quick trip south to see the boys and their parents over the weekend, and Jim, er, PawDad finally got to join the boys in their pool. And in their hot tub, too.

pool time with PawDad

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Don't freefall backward down the slide, plus other tips learned in a bounce house

Because my grandsons have an in-ground trampoline at their house, you wouldn't think they'd get much fun out of the Bounce-A-Round I reviewed a while back — which Bubby and Mac had not yet seen. During their visit a couple weeks ago, though, once Patrick brought his son over and the inflatable bouncing thingamajig was inflated, Bubby, Bud and Mac had a boisterous bouncing blast.

bounce a round

A couple days later, the bouncing blast was supersized when PawDad...

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The alpha and omega: Games (grand)people play

My daughter Megan unexpectedly showed up at my door with my three grandsons one week ago today.

Mac T-ball

The fact several hours passed before I pulled out my camera attests to the degree of my surprise at their appearance. Once I...

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8 great reasons to bake with grandchildren

My grandsons helped me make cupcakes for our mini-celebration in Mac's honor last week. The fun led me to consider why such a simple — and often messy — activity can be such a great one for grandparents to enjoy with their grandchildren.

8 great reasons to bake with grandchildren

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More than just a zoo

I have a love/hate relationship with zoos. I hate that animals are caged and domesticated to a degree simply so we humans can ooh, aah and ogle the once wild — and sometimes rare — creatures.

That's the hate part of it. The love part is the amazement in the eyes of children when they see the creatures up close, as well as my love for photographing such moments. And I love, too, photographing the animals. It's hard to resist the lure of a good zoo.

boys at aquarium

When Jim and I spent some time with Bubby and Mac a couple weeks ago, we visited one zoo that's far more than a zoo...

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40 Things to do when visiting your grandchild's house

Jim and I chatted with our grandsons via FaceTime the other night, and one thing I mentioned to Bubby and Mac was that they should come up with some ideas for fun things to do when PawDad and I visit them next month.

 40 things to do when visiting grandchildren


As I don’t want to leave the boys fully in charge of the agenda for our visit, I set out to make a list of options myself. I first considered perusing...
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20 ways grandparents can model a healthy relationship

My husband and I celebrated our thirty-second First Kiss Anniversary on Sunday. Yes, thirty-two years ago, PawDad and I smooched for the very first time, sealing forever our fate as parents, grandparents and more.

We've always marked the day in a small but special way. This year it was simply skipping church to go out to breakfast together.

In light of our celebration, I considered that one of the best things grandparents can do for grandchildren — and parents can do for their children, regardless of the child's age — is to model a positive personal relationship with their partners.

How can grandmothers do that, though, when time with grandkids is typically focused on the kids?

Here are 20 ways you can do both — be a fun and interesting grandma to the kids while nurturing your relationship with their grandpa. At the same time. Together.

grandparents1. Make breakfast together — Grandma, Grandpa and the grandkids.

2. Play an outdoor game that requires teams — Grandma and Grandpa on one team, grandkids on another.

3. Play a board game using the same team approach.

4. Take a family bike ride.

5. Spread a blanket in the yard for some night-time stargazing as a family.

6. Wear matching No. 1 Grandpa and No. 1 Grandma T-shirts on the same day. (Okay, I must admit that this one might make me — and Jim ... and our adult kids — gag. But some grandparents do get into this. Which is cute.)

7. Hold hands while taking a walk around the block — or through the mall — with the grandkids.

8. Play Wii games together.

grandsons9. Go ice skating.

10. Or roller skating.

11. Have a dance party in the living room, playing songs you enjoyed when first dating. Don't hold back on showing the kids your best dance moves.

12. Create a video together to email or text to long-distance grandchildren.

13. Roast marshmallows by the outdoor fire pit or indoor fireplace.

14. Perform a musical number for the kids, playing instruments, singing or both. Kids love performing for Grandma and Grandpa; this gives them a turn at being in the audience.

15. Take a break from pushing swings and such at the park to hang out together on a blanket while the kids play.

grandparenting16. Share photo albums from the early years.

17. Better yet, share your wedding album.

18. And if it's your thing, take the kids to church with you…and sit by Grandpa.

19. Have a movie night featuring Grandma and Grandpa’s favorite movie — and your favorite movie snacks.

20. Create a fort for the grandkids then surprise them when they arrive.

Today's question:

What memories do you have of your grandparents expressing love for each other?

Gizmos and gadgets: Impress grandkids with how things used to work

old gadgets

Take a look around the library or a bookstore and you'll see there's no shortage of books based on the theme of “How Things Work.” Such books, most often written for elementary age kids, explain — and sometimes show with brilliant illustrations — how science, the body, our government, and everyday gizmos and gadgets of a dazzling array work.

Those types of books are always fun to peruse with grandchildren. While they learn how things work, we grandparents get to see how our grandchildren's minds and imaginations work.

Even more fun, though, is showing grandkids how things really work. More accurately, showing them how things really used to work, things that you — and possibly your children, parents of the grandchildren — once upon a time used on a regular basis.

In fact, grandparents may have what may seem to some an outdated home, yet to a grandchild, Grandma and Grandpa's house could serve as the ultimate museum on just how things used to work.

Take telephones. Some of us still have rotary phones. I do. I don’t use it, as I’ve gone high-tech with an iPhone and no longer even have land-line service. I do, though, still have that old rotary phone around, a style of phone my oldest grandson has likely never seen and surely has never used.

Next time my grandsons visit my house, I'm going to pull out that old rotary phone and show them both how telephoning friends and loved ones used to work.

Consider music, too. My oldest grandson is used to accessing Mom's and Dad’s smartphones, iPads, iPods, computers and even the television music channels for listening to music. Some days my daughter does go old school with my grandsons and plays — gasp! — CDs. But records? I'm pretty sure my grandsons have never seen a record, never heard a record.

Well, I have records. Albums and 45s. And I have a record player. I even have records that I used to play on that very same record player for my daughters to dance to, sing to at the top of their lungs. Next time my grandsons visit my house, I plan to play a few records for us all to sing and dance around to together, the way enjoying music used to work.

Maybe we'll even bust out the cassette player and cassettes for a real party atmosphere! Yes, we still have them.

Cameras are another biggie, another gadget most of us have on hand — and not just on our smartphones. One of my hobbies is taking photos, and I’ve taken literally thousands of photos of my grandsons in the four-plus years I’ve been a grandma. All have been taken with a digital camera. I do, though, still have a camera that requires film, results in photos and negatives.

I can just imagine how intrigued my grandsons will be when I buy a roll of film — they do still sell it, don’t they? — and load it into my old camera, then click-and-advance to show them how photos were taken in the old days. (Of course, the oohing and aahing will have to wait until I get those photos developed. They do still have one-hour photo centers, don't they?)

Now if only I still had that 110 Instamatic from my early years of photo taking, just after shelving the Polaroid camera. Even my daughters might be impressed with my old 110 camera and its film cartridges, my weapon of choice when my girls were wee babes.

The ideas for sharing with a grandchild how things used to work are endless once you consider the changes in just the past few decades to all things electronic.

Think televisions. Turning a dial to change channels? How bizarre that might seem to a child used to using a remote.

Or typewriters versus computer keyboards … and iPads.

What about transistor radios versus Pandora on iPhones or iPads?

And the one we all lovingly remember, possibly still have: crank-style ice-cream makers. The ones you (or your own mom or dad) had to pack with salt then all the kids took turns cranking and cranking until the creamy goodness was ready.

Pretty amazing gadgets we grandparents once used, if you think about it. More impressive are the Jetson-like advances in just our short — yes, short — lifetimes. Imagine the jaw-dropping advances our grandkids will see in their hopefully long lifetimes.

So take a look around your home. One need not be a hoarder to have all the equipment on hand for entertaining — and educating — a grandchild for hours.

And when you run out of ideas, simply consult your encyclopedia. Not the one you access online, but the one on your bookshelf. You do still have one, right? I thought so, for we grandparents know printed encyclopedias are the way accumulating knowledge used to work.

Every once in a while those old encyclopedia volumes still work, at least when it comes to entertaining a grandchild with our antique accumulations. Plus, they work in grand ways for pressing leaves and flowers inside the pages, too — something newfangled online reference sites will never be able to do.

photos: stock.xchng

Today's question:

What are some of the outdated gizmos and gadgets you still own? (And, no, your spouse doesn't count!)