Grandma challenge: How full can she fill forty-four hours?

Grandma challenge: How full can she fill forty-four hours?

My desert-dwelling grandsons and their parents visited my house last week—for forty-four hours. The family had taken a road trip to Vail for a wedding, and Jim and I were fortunate they fit in a stop at our place on their way back home.

I was thrilled to host them and was determined to squish as much into the visit as possible, unsure of when I'd see Brayden, Camden, and Declan (as well as Megan and Preston, too) again.

As all three boys have birthdays in June…

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Throwback Thursday: Kids and games—18 fun ways to choose who goes first

Throwback Thursday: Kids and games—18 fun ways to choose who goes first

This #TBT piece originally published May 13, 2014 on Grandma's Briefs and seemed fitting for replay in anticipation of the summer fun to come. Thank you for reading!

When playing games with kids — or directing getting the ball rolling — choosing who gets to go first can sometimes take longer than the actual gameplay.

That no longer need be the case thanks to the following fun methods I've gathered for grandmothers and others.

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Kids and games: 18 fun ways to choose who goes first (a Friday flashback feature)

Summer time is game time, and whether you're hosting an all-out Grandma Camp or a simple gathering of grands of another sort, the fun can't begin until the gang figures out who goes first.

Here from the Grandma's Briefs archives is my popular post on various ways to choose who goes first — some of them offbeat ideas that can serve as minigames on their own.

Originally published May 13, 2014

When playing games with kids — or directing getting the ball rolling — choosing who gets to go first can sometimes take longer than the actual gameplay.

That no longer need be the case thanks to the following fun methods I've gathered for grandmothers and others.

ways to choose who goes first 

Creative Eeny Meeny
When I was a Girl Scout leader eons ago, I taught my Daisies...

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5 reasons I like to play games with my grandkids

My grandmothers never played games with me. My daughters' grandmothers never played games with them, either.

Considering the grandmas who came before me, the ones from whom I most learned what grandmothering looks like, I'm unsure how I became a game-playing grandma. But I am.

And I love it. Here's why:


I enjoy watching them learn.
Kids learn so much from playing games. They improve motor skills and ...

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Grandma's Game Night

Last night was my monthly game night with some girlfriends. Despite the title of this post, our night o' fun isn't actually called "Grandma's Game Night" seeing's how I'm the only grandma in the group.

As you other grandmas can attest, it's impossible to remove oneself completely from the grandma role, even during game night with the group of gals for whom I once served as boss. (Believe it or not, they do still like me, they really like me.) So in the back of my mind, as dice rolled and beer flowed, my grandma thoughts rumbled now and again.

And what were those random grandma thoughts? Mostly, I considered that the board games my friends and I like to play would make for a grand ol' time with grandkids. Grandkids older than mine, of course, as Candyland and the Goodnight Moon game certainly weren't what we enjoyed last night.

So for all you grandmas (and non-grandmas) who would enjoy a game night with older children and other adults—grandchildren or not—here are five fun games straight from my game cabinet that I'm happy to recommend for you to try out during your very own Grandma Game Night:

Pass the Popcorn Your Ticket to Fast-paced Movie Fun Movie Guessing Game (2-8 players, ages 12+). This is the newest game in my stash, thanks to Megan and Preston at Christmas time, and last night was the first time I played it during our game night. But it was just as fun last night as it was when Jim, Brianna, Andie and I played it for Jim's birthday a few weeks. If you like movies, you'll like this game. And so will the teen grandchildren who will likely know a few of the comedy ones you may have let pass by.

Loaded Questions Expose Your Self (3-6 players, ages teen to adult). Tests how well you know your fellow players—and yourself, in some cases—thanks to hundreds of questions in four categories. There's no right or wrong answers and no need to know trivia.

Trivial Pursuit Team Choose your team/Choose your questions/Fun, faster play (2 teams, adults— though teens can likely answer just as many questions as most adults). I love trivia games—unless they take forever to get done, as regular Trivial Pursuit does. And unless they have far too many history questions (which I really stink at), as Trivial Pursuit does. This version is just like the tagline says: fun, faster play—and you can choose the entertainment category all you want.

(Electronic) Catch Phrase The grab it, guess it, pass it game (4+ players, adults—again, no reason teens can't play and enjoy). Pretty much Hot Potato with a hefty serving of Password involved. Loads of fun as well as lots of flustering and fumbling as you and your teammates struggle to guess the answers as the time bomb, I mean game unit ticks faster and faster before beeping time's up.

Mad Gab ...It's Not What You SAY, It's What You HEAR! (2-12 players, ages 10+). This game has had my friends and me—and family, at other times—laughing harder than any other game we've played. Cards that seem nonsensical are revealed by one time to the others, who try to guess the phrase. For example, Bat Tree Snot Ink Looted is ... Batteries Not Included. Listening to the wacky pronunciations as players guess and guess again (and again and again and again) is hilarious.

Note: Clicking on the game names above takes you to the official websites for more information. They are not affiliate links, and I make nothing by you clicking.

Today's question:

What is your favorite game—board or otherwise—to play with a group of friends or family?

Make-believe Gramma

A morning on the patio with Bubby in May.

At three years old, Bubby's imagination has blossomed. He delights in playing games of pretend, all make-believe and all played according to his rules.

One of Bubby's favorites is playing Fireman—usually with a policeman hot on the fireman's tail, for some unknown reason. When I'm visiting, I'm assigned the policeman role more often than not. In the role, according to Bubby's rules, I'm to chase Bubby the Fireman around and around while making a "police" noise dictated by Bubby, one impossible for me to replicate in writing.

Bubby also loves, loves, LOVES playing Water Monster at the Splash Pad. Some days Daddy is assigned the role of Water Monster; sometimes it's Mommy. In that game, the Water Monster chases Bubby all around the Splash Pad (or whatever water park they may be at), threatening to dump buckets of water on Bubby...who does his best to avoid the buckets yet squeals in delight when it (inevitably) happens.

This past week or so, Megan says, Bubby has devised a new game. And it stars me, or at least Megan pretending to be me. It's called The Gramma Game.

Before describing the game, here's a little background relative to the play. When I visit, Bubby and I typically start our day with some time on the patio—my only opportunity to enjoy the outdoors before the oppressive desert heat renders me housebound. I relax in a chair, cup of coffee in hand, while Bubby rides his trike around the patio, us chit-chatting back and forth all the while.

That minor yet clearly meaningful to him ritual has led to The Gramma Game. It goes like this: When Megan returns from her daily early morning run, she cools down on the patio for a few minutes. That's when Bubby joins her and proclaims "Let's play The Gramma Game. You be the Gramma and I'll be the Grandkid." He directs Megan to gaze out a pretend window and say, "I wonder where my Grandkid is. I miss him." Then when Bubby the Grandkid comes into view, she's to say "Oh, you're here, Grandkid! I missed you!"

("He's very specific about my actions, telling me what I should be doing or saying," Megan says, in explaining The Gramma Game.)

After exclaiming over how much Gramma has missed the Grandkid, Gramma gets to watch Bubby the Grandkid ride his trike—not the big-boy bike used for real rides—around and around on the patio. Just like the real Gramma does while visiting. Pretend Gramma/Megan watches enthusiastically until Bubby the Grandkid gets off his trike and asks Gramma if there's any "brefast in the pantry" because he's hungry.

Words can't describe how honored I am to have a game named after me. Nor can they describe how excited I am to soon be there to play it with Bubby. Only three more days and The Gramma Game will come to life. No more pretend, no more gazing out a window, no more missing my grandkid. Reality is so much better than the game.

In most cases.

There is one aspect of the game, though, that is indeed so much better than the reality. In The Gramma Game, Megan says, Bubby makes it clear he doesn't have to get on a plane to visit Gramma, he has only to ride his trike to reach me.

Ah, I would give anything for the reality to be as simple as the make-believe.

In reality, though, what I do give is thanks for the planes that bring Bubby to me and me to Bubby.

And for only three more days.

Today's question:

What games of make-believe do you recall from your childhood or those of your children?

Let the board games begin

I didn't come from a game-playing family. Well, I take that back. There were a lot of head games, but definitely no board games. Or card games. And only one video game (PONG!).

As a kid, I was envious of my friends who played Monopoly and Hearts and more with their families. I felt a little cheated that I never got to be part of what seemed to be such a fantastic family activity, one that bonds, teaches fairness and encourages humor and humility. I longed for that kind of stability, that kind of learning to play by the rules. That kind of family.

Sure, I received a few games as a kid. I remember having Trouble and Operation and Mousetrap. But they were given as gifts to play with friends, not family. My family didn't do that.

At least not the family I grew up in. The family I created with Jim did play games -- and still does.

When my three daughters were little, we had Chutes and Ladders and Candyland. I have to be honest in admitting I don't remember much about playing those games with the girls. Three little ones of (basically) consecutive ages creates a bit of a haze around the early years. But we had the games, and I know we played them.

As the girls got older, our game stash grew. We had Life, Aggravation and Rummikub (a fave game for New Year's Eve for many years, thanks to Gramma Darryl). As the girls became teens then young adults, we added Outburst, Trivial Pursuit, Movie Lines and others.

When Megan married Preston, he taught us card games: Hearts and Euchre (although I hate Euchre ... and readily admit that to Preston).

Our most recent game additions include Imaginiff, Fact or Crap, MadGab and -- the newest family favorite -- Bananagrams (thanks to Grilled Grandma Susan's suggestion).

We are far from being the kind of family that has scheduled family game nights, but when we get together for longish visits, it's more likely than not that a game will be played. To my delight, we have become one of those game-playing families I once envied.

Which is why I was so thrilled that for Bubby's second birthday he received his first board game. It wasn't from me, and it wasn't the traditional toddler standby of Candyland or Chutes and Ladders. It was Goodnight Moon Game. And Bubby loves it!

Goodnight Moon Game game play for two-year-olds is pretty basic. It's a matching game focusing on learning to take turns. And everyone wins (which keeps adult players from having to patronize the little ones by pretending to suck at a game). That's good enough for now. The rules can be adjusted according to age, so Bubby will learn about fairness and strategy later.

So with Goodnight Moon Game readily available during my recent adventure with Bubby, I enjoyed my very first board game with my grandson. He was the perfect game player, happily taking turns and even assisting me when I took a bit longer than necessary in finding matches because I kept snapping pictures. He took the matching tasks quite seriously and glowed with pride upon completing the matches with Gramma.

Twice during my visit, Bubby and I played three or four rounds of Goodnight Moon Game. Because Bubby concentrated so hard in his search for matches, we didn't speak much during the game, other than his exclamations of "There it is!" or "My turn!" and "Your turn!" But even without the jovial conversation that typically accompanies playing games, my first games with Bubby will go down in my memory as some of my favorite ever.

Without a doubt, in playing our first real game together, Bubby and I both came out winners.

Today's question:

What is your favorite board or card game?