As you may know, I take care of Grace four mornings a week while Lizzie works in the office. During the green months of the year all two of them, Grace and I have no problems frolicking away the morning hours. She likes dirt as much as I do, and I return her to her mother each day covered with the stuff.
This winter its been more challenging for both of us. The deep snows mean we can only walk on the road, and the deep chill means a long walk for us is about twenty minutes. That’s about when frostbite danger gets real. We all know the weather channel likes to be apocalyptic dramatic but they haven’t exaggerated about the AMOUNT of snow or the SEVERITY of the cold we have had in the NE. One morning it felt “warm” to me, and I took Grace on a brisk stroll only to look at the thermometer on our return. It was 8 degrees below zero. We had 27 degrees below zero just two nights ago. It has gotten above freezing only once in the last two months, and on that day we felt like beach bunnies in Boca (and looked as pale as creatures who had never seen the light of day).
This weather means Grace and I have had to find out entertainment indoors, and I have had to dig deep into my grandmother’s bag of tricks to make things fun for us.
Any errand is done at a snail’s pace. This delights 2 1/2 year old Grace who wants to dawdle anyways. A trip to the grocery store can take the whole morning. We start off with a snack of sushi in the store’s cafe then we visit each aisle at least once for a chat with everyone we encounter. We now know every stocker, butcher, produce person, bagger and check out goddess in the place, and all of them know about Grace’s dog friends Sheba and Reina.
But how many trips to the grocery store are necessary each week? (The very question Jim has been asking me as he looks in our overstuffed refrigerator). Sadly, only one (or two during a realllllly slow week).
This means we have time to fill at the farm. Water has played a key part in our sanity daily routine. Grace has spent a thousand hours at the sink. I don’t care what she washes or how much water is on the floor. I don’t care how much soap she uses or if something gets broken. When the sink activity pales, I set her free in the greenhouse with the watering wand. It’s meant to be a tropical rainforest out there and with Grace in charge it will stay that way.
Way back at the beginning of this long long long winter, we read a lot of books together. But we are antsy now, both of us. Right about now with a small eternity of winter under our belt, she and I would both rather be AT the dog party than reading about it in Go Dog Go.
We crayon a lot, sometimes on the walls. Thank goodness for toothpaste which gets the crayon off.
We prepare a lot of snacks. Probably too many, but at least the prep time means a few minutes when we have an activity.
We go upstairs every day and visit the old bedrooms of Grace’s aunt and uncles. We bounce on their beds, play with their stuff and toss around their precious mementos which they care about so much that they have abandoned them here. Sheba is ever at our side chewing on the precious mementos.
Sinking to a new low- perhaps it was the day I let Grace dance on the coffee table all morning- I trawled Amazon for books that might help me fill our morning hours with some creative projects. I purchased a book by a grandmother whom I will call “Granny B” . She had written a slim volume on activities to do with one’s grandchildren. The book received about a zillion positive reviews perhaps from the same people who brought us the phrase “Vote early and vote often.”
Here are some of Granny B’s suggestions- the comments in bold are mine!
Take your grandchildren to a farm- Done! Frankly Granny B, we are trying to get off the farm right about now!
Buy your grandchildren a set of enclyclopedias- Well it would provide a medium other than walls for Grace’s art.
Plant a small garden together- We plan to plant a big one if the glacier ever retreats.
Give your grandchild a bath- Every day is filled with baths Granny B, and we also wash Sheba, every dish in the house and the walls of the kitchen.
Take them to see the mountains- It is hard to imagine a grandchild getting too excited about mountains unless perhaps Himalayan peaks, however I show the ones outside our window to Grace every day, and she has shown exactly no interest.
Always have their favorite food available when they visit- Granny B, my larder is stocked with every cheese, cracker, squeeze bag of fruits and vegetables, yogurt, berry and chip her little heart desires. She eats 15% of each snack and drops the rest on the floor. No wonder Sheba needs to diet.
Make snowballs and put them in the freezer. Really Granny B? My entire world is already filled with snow- you think I want to share my freezer with SNOWBALLS????
Always have popsicles- Granny B, we live in a popsicle.
Give your granddaughter a corsage for special events- Does a day when we see the sun count as a special event?
Always have flashlights that work and teach your grandchildren how to change the batteries- Granny B, Grace is the only one of the two of us who can turn on and off the flashlight on my iphone so that ship- the one with the battery operated flashlights on it- sailed a long long time ago.
Always have an answer to the question “Why?”- My question for you Granny B is, “Why Granny B? Why?”
Show your grandchildren how to use a computer- Granny B, this would be the blind leading the blind. Personally I try to have Grace explain to me the tricks she knows about ipad, computers and cell phones.
Cut meat in itsy bitsy pieces- Well Granny B, this would give us an activity.
Be calm- even when your grandchildren spill grape juice on your new carpet- Granny B, I definitely have this one down cold. I relish the spills- Cleaning up gives us something to do.
Make real cookies using a rolling pin- Yup, me and my waistline show that this has been a constant part of our winter fun.
On one side of a page Granny B says, “Encourage and help your grandchildren save money.” and on the other side of the page she says, “Give them money to blow!- Clearly Granny B’s winter also lasted too long and she lost the bead on her message.
Oh Granny B, thank you for your ideas. They gave me a laugh. Now it is back to the living room to watch Grace dance on the coffee table.
Grace working over the sushi at the beginning of a grocery mission- Sheba would have been better on clean up than the plastic horse Grace insisted we bring.