It's a tradition at our family reunions to have a few rousing rounds of washers. The hall that we rent has washer pits, but washers can be played in any area of relatively clear ground. All you have to do is dig a little pit or sink a can into the dirt. Just be sure that the grandkids know that they shouldn't dig pits in Grandpa's lawn.
It's always a challenge to find a good multigenerational game, one where superior age or strength doesn't always translate into a win. Washers is one, along with bocce, croquet and ladder ball.
Many indoor games are suitable or adaptable for multiple generations, too. Last weekend we enjoyed playing Bananagrams. One of my teen grandchildren was the clear champion, so age isn't always an advantage.
What games have you found that work with all generations? Leave a comment below.
Photo © S. Adcox
Our family reunion last weekend couldn't have been much better. Everyone contributed to the food and fun, but I have to give one nephew a special shout-out. Last year he did video interviews with each family member, and this year he showed us some of the edited footage. The interviews centered on our memories of the family matriarch and patriarch, my husband's parents, who have passed on. That's where the tears came in.
If you are having a family reunion, I highly recommend trying to make a video record. You may have a family member who is adept at this kind of thing. If you don't, there are companies that specialize in facilitating video memoirs.
In the wake of Chelsea Clinton's announcement that she and her husband are expecting, I'm thrilled for Hillary Clinton, who has been openly hungry for grandchildren almost ever since Chelsea married in 2010. But I'm a little nonplussed by some of the commentary surrounding the announcement. Jodi Kantor of the New York Times asks, "How will the public view the prospect of a grandmother presidential candidate ... ? Does the word "grandmother" connote authority, durability and wisdom, or a less-flattering set of associations?"
Besides the obvious point that many of our office-holders are grandfathers, grandmothers from Sarah Palin to Nancy Pelosi have managed to mix politics and grandmothering. I used to get Christmas cards from Ann Richards -- the mass-mailed type, not personal ones -- and they depicted her surrounded by a gaggle of grandchildren. To suggest that the public can't accept a grandmother in public office is as insulting to the public as it is to the grandmother.
Possibly the prospect of being a grandmother will dull Clinton's desire for public office, but that's a different question. Every politician has to decide at some point between the pull of public life and the quieter delights of being a private citizen. A Clinton grandchild may complicate that decision, but to the voting public, the grandchild should be irrelevant.
Photo © Johannes Simon | Getty Images News
Easter doesn't always mean bunnies and chicks. This anime fan based her eggs on the twelve trolls from the webcomic Homestuck. If that sentence means nothing to you, don't worry. It means nothing to the majority of grandparents.
If you'd prefer a more traditional Easter, check out these Easter egg games. And if you would like to give your grandchildren something that's neither chocolate nor a bunny, take a look at this list of Easter gifts for grandchildren.
Photo © S. Adcox
If you are relying on a daughter in the under-29 age group to give you a grandchild, you may be in for a wait. But if you'd like a pint-sized granddog, you're in luck.
The digital news outlet Quartz reports that the birth rate for women 15-29 has dropped just as the popularity of small dogs has risen. And women in their late 20s and early 30s are the ones buying the small dogs.
A dog, no matter how adorable, is small consolation when you're hungry for grandchildren.
I'm lucky enough to have seven grandchildren. I also have a beautiful granddaughter who is currently buying Puppy Chow instead of Pampers, and that is all right with me. I have my great-grandmother name all picked out, but I'm in no hurry to use it.
Just don't make me wait too long.
Photo © H. Sanderson
It's beneficial for grandmothers to spend one day a week taking care of grandchildren, but five or more days a week may be too much, a study of Australian women reveals.
The study looked at the mental sharpness of the grandmothers, aged 57 to 68, and found a positive result among the one-day-a-week caregivers and a negative result for those providing full-time child care.
The researchers postulated that those who provided the most care for grandchildren might feel resentful and stressed, which can affect mental performance. The researchers also stopped short of saying that the study proved a cause-effect relationship, saying only that the study was a good starting point. Previous studies have established that social contact is good for mental acuity, but this is believed to be the first study to examine the impact of grandparent-grandchild contact.
I think that the study results could have a simpler explanation: The full-time caregivers are simply tired. I'm a great advocate of finding ways to avoid fatigue when the grandchildren are in the house. (My personal favorite is having a bit of a lie-down before the grandchildren arrive.) But if the grandchildren are on the premises five days a week, nothing could prevent my being tired. And when I am tired, my brain barely functions.
What do you make of the study's results? Leave a comment below.
Photo © Meredith Heuer | Getty
For years I have been an advocate of grandparents creating keepsake journals for their grandchildren. I've collected and reviewed quite a few, but I never thought of writing one. Then it happened. The folks at Family Tree asked me to write the questions/prompts for a journal for grandparents to complete for their grandchildren. The result is Stories From My Grandparent: An Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild. My name is on the cover, but the real author of each book will be the grandparent who completes it.
When one of my ex-students learned about the book, he remarked, "I see that you're still asking questions!" But coming up with questions for the book was no easy task. I had to keep questions general enough to fit most grandparents' lives, yet provocative enough to generate interesting responses.
Filling out such a book is not an easy task, either, although I have some hints that will make completing your journal easier. If you undertake the job and flag in the completion of it, think of this: How much would you give for such a journal filled out by one of your grandparents? It gives new meaning to the word "priceless."
Whether you use my book or one of the others on the market, I urge you to give a grandparent journal a try. Grandparents don't have a lot of chances to give a grandchildren something priceless, but this is one.
I have seven grandchildren, and occasionally I forget one of their birthdays. That's because birthdays involve numbers, and numbers do not stay in my brain.
That's a problem that Aussie grandmother Kathleen Newton doesn't have. In spite of being 87 years old. In spite of having 60 grandchild birthdays to remember.
That's right. Newton has 17 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and 8 great-greats. And she knows all their names and when they were born. She recites them aloud once a month.
That's a unique brain fitness exercise and one that I should adopt. I should have my grandchildren's birthdays mastered before my great-grandchildren come along.
Do you have any tricks for remembering dates and other important information? Leave a comment below.
Taking pictures in the bluebonnets is a rite of spring in Texas. And if you just happen to have an awesome cowboy hat to wear, so much the better.
What activities are you looking forward to this spring?
Photo © J. Fisher
A new piece of research examines multigenerational households that include new mothers. New research is a good thing. The way the research is being promoted is not a good thing.
"Grandparents may worsen some mothers' baby blues," one headline declares. Other news outlets have given the story similar headlines.
The study looked at mothers during their baby's first year and showed a higher rate of depression for married and single mothers living in multigenerational homes that included grandparents. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that it's probably not the grandparents who are sending the mothers into a funk. Instead the mothers are probably sad that their living situation isn't what they would like. Multigenerational living can be a smart choice for many individuals, but for better or worse our cultural ideal is still parents and baby in their own home.
Grandparents are, I believe, more commonly part of the solution than the cause of the problem, no matter what phrasing headline writers choose.