Celebrating Life With The Grands - Celebrating Life with Paula Blog at Allrecipes.com - 299138

Celebrating Life with Paula

Celebrating Life with the Grands 
Mar. 14, 2013 8:50 am 
Updated: Mar. 31, 2013 8:22 pm
Every year for at least one week, I keep my daughter's four children while she and her husband have a nice get-away. Honestly, I believe every couple should have some alone time, and this is something I can do for them to nurture and renew their marriage. It's easier for me this year. The kids are now 9, 7, 4, and 3. It was harder when they were all younger and completely self-centered. The 9 year old and 7 year old are huge helpers now. The 4 year old wants to be like his big brother, and the 3 year old is...well, she's still 3, but not a needy, totally dependent baby. In fact, she's got spunk!

This year, the get-away coincided with the kids' school spring break. So that means being home with them every day all day long. The upside? Not getting up at the crack of dawn to rush to school, not having homework, not hurrying up and getting supper and baths and in the bed. The downside? We were home every day all day long! I knew I would need to do something to break up the boredom and provide an outlet for all their energy.

I decided first of all to make a list of things we could do every day and another list of things to do every evening. Then I decided to create a contest making one of them The Star of the Day, a position to strive for and be well-behaved for. The Star of the Day would decide (after conferring with the others) what activity we would do the next day and would get to blindly grab a toy from the grab bag I had brought (dollar bin stuff). What I didn't account for was that the oldest child, a boy, would feel a little too old for some things. So I let him make decisions for me...like what to have for dinner (his mom had left a list but he got to choose which food for which night), he told me where to drive and how to get places, and he also chose the group activity in the evening.

Here are choices I put on the daytime activity list:
~ ride the merry go round at the mall and look in the Disney Store
~ go to Dollar Tree (they all love spending their $1.00)
~ go to IHOP for breakfast
~ go bowling with friends
~ go to a local park
~ go to the zoo
~ pajama day (this was a rainy weekend day when they spent time playing inside with their Papa)
~ bike day (it's been cold and only a few days were nice enough to be outside)
~ Go to the local pet store and look at fish, birds, guinea pigs, puppies, and kittens

Here are the evening activity choices:
~ PJ, popcorn, and movie night
~ book reading marathon
~ Wii dance night
~ cookie making
~ Apples to Apples game night
~ play outside with glow sticks

I think kids tend to get less bored when they do things that are different and new. Another activity I planned every night was to spend some time after dinner while still at the table filling out our Thankful Journal. Each person took a turn telling something he/she was thankful for that day. I explained to them that sometimes we let one bad thing mess our entire day up, when truth be told, many good things came our way. We just have to remember them, think about them, and be grateful for them. The first night's list was short, but as the week went on, the kids got the hang of it and couldn't wait to put several things each on the list. They were thankful for pizza, getting to stay in pajamas all day, sunshine, no school, petting the stingrays at the zoo, and playing with Papa, just to name a few.

I planned these activities, but then they also entertained themselves and played throughout the day. Things went quite well...I'd like to think because I planned a little in advance. Four kids can be daunting and their boredom can play off each other, so I desperately wanted to avoid that if possible. All in all, I think we were able to enjoy the week and each other. The kids even gave me a prize the last night for being the Star Granna!

It's almost the middle of the month, and I feel that I haven't cooked my usual Allrecipes foods. I really enjoy making, reviewing, and photographing new recipes...and finding faceless ones. After making 25 faceless recipes last month, I admit I'm having withdrawals. My daughter did leave a few AR recipes for me to make for the kids: Broiled Tilapia Parmesan, Chicken Puffs, and Lighter Fettuccini Alfredo, along with tacos and spaghetti. But I must say, I'm looking forward to being home and getting back in the kitchen cooking for people who aren't picky eaters.

Mar. 14, 2013 9:39 am
Hi Paula, I enjoyed reading this. Your grandchildren are so lucky to have you as their grandma. Sounds like you guys had good times together.
Mar. 14, 2013 9:44 am
I wish I had been that well organized as a father! I've heard that the Grand years are easier than the first go around. I suspect that is true, especially if you're good at learning from your mistakes! Childhood boredom can be brutal, and you did well to nip it in the bud!
Mar. 14, 2013 9:53 am
Awe Paula this was such a good story, brought a smile to my lips and a tear to my eye. Star Granna! and thankful for play time with papa so nice. I love being a granmama it makes getting old worth it.
Mar. 14, 2013 10:28 am
I'm glad that you are feeling better and that you are back. You are creating memories with the grands and no doubt they will look forward to coming back.
Mar. 14, 2013 11:25 am
You are indeed a star Granna and a star mother too! You made a huge life lesson (the habit of gratitude) a fun activity. It would be wonderful if they continue that activity when life is back to normal. Now that you're home, relax and have a day just for Paula.
Mar. 14, 2013 11:29 am
I am glad you had fun with the grands my boys have fond memories of the time they spent with theirs
Mar. 14, 2013 12:07 pm
I agree with the kids, you are The Star Granna! What a fun list of activities, and that looks like a great menu. I think you broke the code, Paula. It's best to have more activities planned than you think you need with kids. Great job, and welcome home!
Mar. 14, 2013 12:36 pm
Paula,not much left to say,as it seems it has been said by the ones up above.Hope when and if we become grandparents we have as much fun as you do.Glad your feeling better,take care.
Mar. 14, 2013 1:29 pm
Paula you are fantastic! I can't imagine how exhausted you must be by now. What a fun week, filled with so much selfless love for your daughter and those lucky little kiddos. Which one is the one in the photo with you? She looks so much like you and is just adorable. I love your idea for a thankful journal. It inspired me to look at things a little differently and I will certainly share your ideas with others. Thanks for finding the time to write this blog today. I really enjoyed it!
Mar. 14, 2013 1:44 pm
Doubletigers and Joey Joan - I'm the lucky one! Somehow even with all my faults and ignorance, my kids turned out as God-fearing, responsible adults and are raising great kids themselves. I love being with them. And you're right, grandchildren make old age tolerable and even enjoyable (maybe because we're not responsible for the end result of our grands :)
Mar. 14, 2013 1:50 pm
Doc, there's a lot to be said for experience and mellowing out too. But then, we're not around our grands 24/7 either. We get all the fun with hardly any of the responsibility. It's an opportunity to support our children, encourage them in their efforts, and be a great stabilizing influence for our grands as well.
Mar. 14, 2013 1:53 pm
bd.weld and Nadine - I'm so glad to be well. I wasn't sure I was gonna make it before having to keep the grands, but thankfully I did. I have fond memories of my grandparents, so I hope to create some great ones for my 6 as well.
Mar. 14, 2013 2:01 pm
BigShotsMom and Bibi - I am just now learning the continual habit of gratitude, regardless of my circumstances. Ann Voskamp, author of 1000 Gifts has greatly influenced me in this area. It's a really good book if you can get through her metaphorical way of writing.
Mar. 14, 2013 2:11 pm
manella and AZ93 - I guess like so much of life, it's all a choice. You will be a great grandparent if your desire is to influence little ones for good. We have the opportunity to impact their lives in ways mom and dad can't. The child with me in my avatar is my son's daughter, the one who had the malignant brain tumors removed in Oct, underwent radiation till after Christmas, and is now doing chemo for a year. That photo was before she lost all her hair. She is now a beautiful, brave, bald 5 year old. She's getting a little fuzz back on the radiation side, so we're hoping to see her with hair before too long. When you think of it, would you join with us in asking God for a miracle? She's doing really well right now and has had the best of circumstances for a horrible situation. It's all been gift after gift from God and we are very grateful.
Mar. 14, 2013 2:55 pm
It sounds like you are one thankful grandma! I like you idea of planned activities and the star of the day. I've probably said too much. Now you can get back to your newest recipe find!
Mar. 14, 2013 4:24 pm
You are creating wonderful memories for everyone - yourself included. :) I love it.
Mar. 14, 2013 5:57 pm
Paula i will ask God for a miracle for your granddaughter,i kind of know what you are going through,my younger sister had breast cancer,she passed away in 2004 at 49 years of age.I have 3 very good friends going through the same thing,1 has breast,1 has kidney,and 1 has bone cancer,so i will be praying very hard for all of them.Your granddaughter is very lucky to have you.Take care Paula.{{HUGS}}.
Mar. 14, 2013 8:20 pm
I want you to be my grandma but I think I am too old. ;(
Mar. 15, 2013 6:26 am
sueb - Hope my ideas can help you and others make memories for their grands. I've got to get busy now finding those new recipes! I haven't had time to settle in to that quite yet. But maybe today.
Mar. 15, 2013 6:28 am
Baking Nana - Ah, you figured me out. Not the selfless person some people above actually think. I AM making memories for me too :)
Mar. 15, 2013 6:29 am
Thank you, manella, for your prayers for my granddaughter. You have no idea how much that means to me.
Mar. 15, 2013 6:33 am
Marie C - Ha! Too funny! I've found friends are just as good...unless what you really want is to go back to that young age when you didn't have a care in the world. Sometimes that sounds really good, doesn't it?
Mar. 17, 2013 5:41 am
Aaaawe, you are a wonderful grandma! My sister always says, "Children are highly over-rated, grandchildren are what it's all about!". Lol! How nice of you to offer your kids a week get-away! I think that makes for better parents, too!! Great ideas to keep them busy and they will have wonderful memories!
Mar. 17, 2013 5:45 am
Heartwarming. Good Grandma! Your planning was great and inspirational. Have another wonderful day, Paula.
Mar. 17, 2013 9:04 am
You are a great grandma! And you are so right, couples do need time alone together to maintain their relationship. DH & I left our teens home and went out for date night yesterday.
Mar. 18, 2013 6:26 am
Paula, I love all the fun things you and your grand kids did. The best memories with my Grandma were her cooking for us. I loved her baked goods and wonderful meals. One memory stuck out over the rest. She would make mounds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut up in triangles for my 3 brothers and me. It seemed special because my mom would just give us a whole sandwich on a plate without cutting it. Funny what you remember about your childhood.
Mar. 18, 2013 7:30 am
Mickdee - that is a common statement, but I'm just not sure I agree with it. I'm crazy about my kids too. Ha! And, yes, parents just need some "get-away from kids" time, don't they?
Mar. 18, 2013 7:32 am
Clover and Maggi - Thanks for reading. I love date night...even after all my years of marriage! It's a time to just enjoy each other and refresh a little. Every marriage needs it, doesn't it?
Mar. 18, 2013 7:35 am
Lela - Isn't it funny how such little things stand out as precious memories? I've discovered the things I don't even try to make as a memory are the things my kids and grandkids remember.
Mar. 18, 2013 4:33 pm
What a wonderful time you all had! You can keep on saying you do this so your daughter and son-in-law get some "alone time" - you really do it so you get some "grandkid time"!! How lucky those kids are to have you for a Grandma!!
Mar. 19, 2013 6:47 am
Thanks for some great ideas!! I only have one grand, and she is only 2 1/2. We will definitely be using some of these very shortly!
Mar. 20, 2013 6:32 am
Great ideas - mine are too old for these, but hope great-grands will benefit from this in a few years!
Mar. 20, 2013 10:34 am
Love you ideas for entertaining the younger set Paula. Will definitely save for those rare moments when I have little ones around.
Mar. 21, 2013 7:45 am
Hey back to your previous blog, I recently used the dried mangos that have been in my pantry for well over a year making these very healthy cookies (my pic included here) http://allrecipes.com/recipe/oatmeal-raisin-cookies-ix/detail.aspx
Mar. 21, 2013 2:01 pm
Mother Ann - Yep, you're right. I get grandkid time and love it!
Mar. 21, 2013 2:02 pm
jad, midwestchef, mauigirl - thanks for dropping in and responding. Hope you get to use a few of my suggestions some day.
Mar. 21, 2013 2:04 pm
Clover - I saved that cookie recipe. Those look good yet basic enough to use any kind of dried fruit in them. I'd like them with dried cranberries. Glad you're working on cleaning out that pantry!
Mar. 29, 2013 8:00 am
Took a few minutes checking the blots for a southern based cook..... Have a couple of questions/comments to mull over with you. I have used White Lily flour all my cooking life and over the last few years have noticed a decrease in rising and just plain "flakiness". What brand of flour do you use and have you experienced anything like this? I know there's a difference in milling with southern vs northern made flours, but just wondered if any other southern cooks had noticed any difference in results.
Mar. 31, 2013 8:22 pm
Hey Paula, I'm still working on using up stuff in my pantry. (I'm slow.) I made this fudge sauce with an opened bag of marshmallows that was left from the holidays and half dry too. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/marshmallow-hot-fudge-sauce/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=marshmallows&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=%2fmy%2frecipebox%2fdefault.aspx
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About Me
I'm a wife, mother of 2, and grandmother of 6. I love to cook. I especially like to cook new and different recipes. I don't like to have the same meals week after week. My husband has decided it really doesn't matter whether he likes a new recipe or not because he won't see it again for a very long time anyway!
My favorite things to cook
I like to cook entrees and desserts. I like preparing good, down-to-earth cooking. I also decorate cakes, mostly for the grandchildren now.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Holidays bring out the traditions: chocolate chip cheese ball; crockpot chicken and dressing; and broccoli salad, sweet potatoes and butterscotch pie handed down from past generations. Another thing that must be tradition in my family: we all make new recipes when we have company! My mother, sister, daughter, and I all do this. My daddy never understood why we would risk making something we had never made before. Actually, none of us has ever served company a new recipe that didn't taste good.
My cooking triumphs
Cake decorating: wedding cakes, bridal and baby shower cakes, birthday cakes: Little Pirate, Cinderella, Elmo, Strawberry Shortcake. My friends call me Betty Crocker. When my daughter got married, she had a bridal shower where the guests were asked to write something on an apron. My best friend told her if she needed a recipe or help in the kitchen to ask her mother. If she needed a good place to eat out, ask her.
My cooking tragedies
A 4 tier huge wedding cake that fell apart at 2:00am. Thankfully, I still had time to salvage the cake.
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