t 57, I'm a fairly young Grandma. My seven grandkids range from age 1 to 12. When I was little, my Grandmother watched me while my Mother worked. As a result, I developed a deep relationship with her.
My husband and I own a business and we both work full time. Being self-employed does allow me some flexibility but I do not get as much time as I want with my grandkids. I am finding as I age that I have limited energy and emotion and as a result, have to pick and choose my free time activities.
Since my grandchildren are very important to me, I make the time to spend with them. During the summers, I set aside one day a week to hold what I call "Camp Nanabanana". My camp is simply a day I devote to my grandkids. I pre-plan the activities and the food. During the winter, we plan cousin sleepovers.
I'm not sure that quantity of time is more important than quality of time. If you take the time to make unique memories with your grandkids, they will remember your efforts. I don't think you have to have daily, or even weekly contact, to develop a close relationship with grandkids. One of my husband's Grandmothers lived several states away and he only saw her sporadically. He grew up in a time when it was prohibitively expensive to even call long distance. What he remembers are her huge hugs and how she made him feel special the few times he did get to see her. A trip to Grandma's house was extraordinary and exciting!
Today, we are blessed with multiple means of cheap communication, including cell phones, facetime and videoconferencing programs such as Zoom. There is really no excuse to not keep in contact even during a pandemic. Our family uses Zoom and I plan an hour or so almost every week to do an activity with the grandkids. This week we made pie crust cookies.
While many of my ideas are inspired by others, this activity was inspired by my own childhood. My Grandma frequently made pies from scratch. She rolled out the dough and then lifted it into the round pie pan. She shaped the dough to the dish and used a knife to cut away any excess dough from the edges. These "scrapes" were then placed on a cookie sheet and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. She baked these scrapes and gave them to me as a treat. I loved cinnamon pie crust goodies!
I supplied each grandchild with a flat store bought pie crust and cookie cutters via a doorstep drop. The fun was in using the cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the pie crust, placing them on a cookie sheet and sprinkling with sugar and cinnamon. While we worked, I told them the story of my my Grandma's pie crust treats that I enjoyed when I was a kid. Once the pie crust is cut and sugared, simply pop in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes until done.
It was a very cute, inexpensive and easy baking project that even the youngest kids could complete with a little supervision. The treats were all eaten immediately though I must admit a homemade pie crust is 1,000 times better than store bought.
The point is not the project, it's the time you spend together.
Below are some similar items as those I used in this project. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
If your enjoyed this project, please consider purchasing my ebook: "Camp Nanabanana: A Grandma's Guide" to fun, inexpensive projects to complete with your grandchildren.
Copies can be found at: www.campnanabanana.com/
And don't forget to check back often for more Camp Nanabanana projects!
Many Grandparents ask, "How can I stay connected to my grandkids when I don't live close enough to see them frequently?"
I have been blessed to have my grandchildren live near but this year we have been distanced by a disease. Since it hasn't been safe to meet in person, I had to take my popular "Camp Nanabanana" online. I miss being physically together and especially their hugs. The popular video conferencing program "Zoom" has allowed us to take the fun online.
Since they are already doing school online, I keep my Camp Nanabanana activities to under an hour. It takes some pre-planning in order to get all the materials to them (doorstep drop off) prior to the activity. I hold my camp on Saturdays at 4pm and since they spend so much time online doing distant learning, I keep it short.
I feel being consistent is important. I want them to feel they can always count on the same day and time. I hope it gives them something to look forward to at a time when they are missing out on so much.
This week, we made personalized coasters. I had bought a box of stone tile years ago at a large box store and decided it was time to put them to use. All you need is a tile, a picture and some Modge Podge. If you want to be extra fancy, add a liner to the the bottom of the tile to keep it from scratching the furniture. I used some scrap pieces of leather I had left over from a furniture refinishing project though felt works best.
Each grandchild found a picture to decoupage to the top of the coaster. Most went with photos. Owen decided to use a special drawing his brother Cai had made of him in a cape decorated with a smiley face, his favorite attire. My mother, who my grandkids call Baba, joined us and turned a card from her great-granddaughter into a special memento.
There is really nothing more than gluing felt to the bottom of the tile and evenly brushing Modge Podge over the art. It helps if you coat the tile with Modge Podge, place the artwork and then brush the mixture over the picture. Make sure all the edges are thoroughly glued down. It takes a couple of hours for the Modge Podge to dry. It may take more than one coat.
I decided to cut a couple of pictures from a favorite childhood book from my own Grandmother's house. The book was torn and missing it's cover. The paper was faded and sporting brown age spots, much like my own skin. It was a book I remember my Grandma reading to me while I was snuggled in her large lap. I loved the book because the protagonist was a little girl with red hair and I was a little girl with red hair, something not common and often commented on in my life.
Now, instead of sitting out of sight in a drawer, only to be thrown away by future generations, it will sit on my coffee table and remind me of sitting in the warm embrace of my Grandma with my ear to her chest as she gently read me stories.
Below are some links for the products we used to make the coasters. If you purchase anything from Amazon using the below links, I may earn a small commission:
It helps to ask a lot of questions as you complete the project. Be sure to admire each child's handiwork. Ask them to hold it up so you can "ohhh and awww" over the creation. My granddaughter choose to make her coaster using a picture we had taken years ago in a photo booth. Perhaps when she is my age, she will still have the coaster and think back to the fun day we took the silly photo as well as the day we made the project during a pandemic.
If you enjoyed this project, please consider purchasing my book "Camp Nanabanana: A Grandma's Guide". It's filled with fun, inexpensive projects you can complete with your own grandchildren. You can download a copy from my homepage located at www.campnanabanana.com/
Nana can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Being a Grandma can be hard. It used to be all we had to do was bake cookies and we were great. But now, we are always competing with devices. It can be difficult to find things to do with your grandchildren that you both enjoy and that will hold their attention. And, when you throw in a pandemic, it compounds the problem.
For the last couple of years, I have held a "camp" at my home for my grandkids. Once a week, we got together and did crafts, made food, talked and played. I got to know them and they got to know me. Then came the Covid. Suddenly, to stay safe, we had to stay apart. It was devastating and depressing. I decided to take "Camp Nanabanana" online.
Each week, we schedule time to do something together over Zoom. I keep it at an hour or less because all of us are "zoomed out" by the end of the week. The kids are doing remote learning and I am working from home with lots of time spent online.
Last week, we made a simple bird feeder.
I try to keep my online projects easy, simple and inexpensive. I deliver packages of the needed ingredients to each grandkid. They are close enough for me to door drop but if they lived out of my local area it would take extra planning to mail or coordinate with parents to provide.
First, find pinecones. I like to walk and I found plenty of pinecones in a local cemetery. I scooped up plenty because I have several more projects planned that involve pinecones.
Next, tie a string at the top of the pinecone. Spread peanut butter all over the pinecone. Then, roll the pinecone in a bowl of birdseed. It's that simple.
I attached a couple of finished bird feeders to existing bird feeders. They were not stable and the birds spun around much like squirrels flung off a "Yankee Flipper". So, I next attached the feeders to trees and bushes and they loved them.
I also made a laminated bird cheat sheet to give to each grandchild. If we had been able to get together in person, I would have loved working together to make the sheet. It's designed to keep near a window to help the kids identify the birds that land on the pinecone feeder. It would have been fun to talk about the characteristics of each bird and take a bird watching hike around our little acreage.
I simply put together a few pictures of birds common to our area and laminated it. As I put the sheets through the laminator, my husband said, "What is that strange smell?"
I responded, "It's the smell of a middle aged woman having fun".
"It kind of reminds me of the smell of the mimeograph machine in grade school," he said.
It's a memory and a smell that only those of our generation can pull to mind.
Once you start spending time with someone of any age, you can quickly learn the details of their life. You can go from "How's school" with the obligatory and boring answer of "Fine", to "How did your project with Sarah go?"
Just like any relationship, it takes asking a lot of questions and learning the names of all the important players. I try to listen more than I talk. If conversation slows down, have a silly question in mind to help prompt the kids to open up.
One thing I have found they love is funny stories about their own parents at their same age. It's fun to relive those years with an appreciative audience. And, I think it helps them relate to their parents as people who experienced the same type of problems they encounter. Many conversations have started with "I remember when your Mom was about your age she used to really like to..."
While the projects are fun, the real point is to talk and enjoy each others company. It's like a "book club" without the book or "Girls Night Out" without the wine. The projects are an excuse to get together and keep our hands busy while we socialize.
If you are looking for more tips and projects, consider buying my ebook "Camp Nanabanana: A Grandma's Survival Guide" filled with easy, inexpensive projects to do with your grandchildren found at: www.campnanabanana.com/
Below are some products which you may find helpful in making this project. If you make a purchase using this link, I may make a small commission. If you don't want to make your own bird cheat sheet, I think this National Geographic kids bird guide would make a wonderful gift. And, I highly recommend the Scotch brand no jam thermal laminator.
If you are new to my grandparenting blog, welcome! I started what I call "Camp Nanabanana" to stay connected to my Grandkids which has suddenly became much more difficult with a worldwide pandemic in play.
Part of the fun of "camp" was getting together with all the cousins. Now, to stay safe we must be apart, at least in person but not in heart. I decided to take some of my Nana classes online. I usually pick two easy projects, each project takes about half an hour. We start with a easy snack and then progress to a simple craft or other project. It has become the best hour of my week.
It takes a little advance planning to make sure each grandchild has all the ingredients. I usually text the parents with links to the projects I am planning to do and ask if they need any of the ingredients. I doorstep drop or they pick up all necessary items they don't have in the pantry. None of the projects include expensive or hard to obtain ingredients. Part of the beauty of our camp, is keeping it simple and fun. You want it easy enough you can direct as you make the project and still hold a conversation. After all, the point of Camp Nanabanana is to build relationships.
This week, I decided to start with easy, three ingredient chocolate peanut butter Ritz no bake cookies. All it takes is Ritz crackers, peanut butter and chocolate candy coating. Slap a little peanut butter between two Ritz crackers. Made 24 cracker peanut butter sandwiches.
Place candy coating in the microwave for one minute, take out and stir. Heat at 15 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted. Dip the cracker sandwich in the coating and place on a piece of aluminum foil or waxed paper until hardened.
This time I tried a variation on this cookie classic. I purchased Toll House Edible Cookie dough and made about half with this filling rather than peanut butter. I had planned on also trying marshmallow fluff as a filling but alas, there must have been a run on fluff this week. My grocery orders always seem to be randomly missing one or two items, frequently the one ingredient I really crave or which is most vital to a recipe. #pandemicproblems
I obviously should have hoarded less toilet paper and more fluff.
I also put a little coarse salt on the tops of some cookies and sprinkles on others. The sprinkles were a good way to identify the filling. When I was a kid and you occasionally got a box of chocolates, it was frowned upon to nibble the edges to determine the "good" candy and not get stuck with a nougat-filled ball of wax. No kid has ever enjoyed candy less than one being forced to eat the one they randomly chose and hated.
Below are some of the types of products I used. As an amazon affiliate member, I may earn a small commission if you purchase items through my links.
Once we completed our cookies, we moved on to the grandparent-grandkid Zoom friendly project of making fluffy slime.
I found my fluffy slime recipe on marthastewart.com. Before the internet, all we had was Martha Stewart. My generation eagerly anticpated Martha's magazine each month and quickly flipped to look at the "good things" pages for ideas. Everyone in 1990 had a pretty glass bottle with a spout, filled with dishwashing liquid next to the sink. Martha was the original "influencer".
Below is a link to the recipe we used:
All it takes is:
1 cup of white glue
1 cup of shaving cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons saline solution
I halved the recipe so I could make two batches of different colors, Pour the ingredients into a bowl and mix. At first, I thought I had done something wrong. It takes a little working before the slime firms up.
I walked the kids through the steps, "First pour your bottle of glue in the bowl, etc."
These kids were slime experts having made slime at school and home multiple times. My grandson had a bowl of green goop that seemed to be growing and spreading beyond his bowl.
My granddaughter chimed in, "Cai, you forgot to add the activator!"
Apparently, saline solution is a very important ingredient. But eventually, he was able to experiment until he came up with a respectful bowl of green slime. He was wearing it as a beard when we signed off.
I have to admit, it is a highly addictive activity. There is something soothing about squeezing fluffy slime through your hands. We all laughed and held up our squishy creations, stretching it into ropes and shaping it.
It very much reminded me of the silly putty we used to buy in a red egg when I was a kid. It was a rubbery material you could pull and stretch. I remember lying on my Grandma's floor, smoothing it flat onto the comic papers and then pulling up a faint ink image. I can still smell it in my mind but I couldn't come close to describing it's distinctive silly putty scent.
Just remember, it's not about the projects. It is about listening and laughing together. Someday, one of my grandchildren may be telling the story to her grandchildren of making slime with Nana. At least, I hope she does.
If you enjoyed this post, consider purchasing my ebook found on my home page. It is filled with easy, inexpensive projects your grandchildren will love.
Below are links to products you may want to use making this project. I may receive a small commission if you purchase products using these links.