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I Want Sprinkles

Grandkids, Toddlers By July 24, 2016 Tags: , , , 4 Comments

Our three year old granddaughter was visiting us last weekend.  Saturday it was very hot.  She had woken up especially early that morning, so she ended up taking a mid-morning nap.  When she got up I suggested we get some soft serve ice cream at McD’s. I’m not a big ice cream fan but I was looking for some serious air-conditioning time.  My suggestion was met with enthusiasm from both the granddaughter and her grandpa.

Before we left I asked if she wanted an ice cream Sunday, maybe hot fudge? She replied, “I want sprinkles”.  Ok… I asked it a different way. “Would you like chocolate or vanilla ice cream?”  Her response, “I want sprinkles”.  Message received.  No matter what, sprinkles needed to be involved.  I wasn’t sure if McDonalds had sprinkles, so I rummaged through my cabinet and found a bottle…just in case.  I tossed it into my purse.  I figured I could put them on the ice cream myself and she would be none the wiser. Off we went.

Everyone must have had the same idea (air-conditioning) because it was crowded.  I sent the two of them to find a table, while I waited in line. I ordered a cup of vanilla soft serve, inquired about sprinkles (they don’t have any) and waited for my order. Then, while at the counter,  I quickly and discretely pulled out my bottle of sprinkles and generously added them on top.  If anyone saw me they didn’t comment. I was pretty happy with my stealthy secret agent skills.  sprinkles-resized

The sprinkle topped ice cream was well received. She ate all the sprinkles and a little bit of the ice cream before she declared she was done.  After cleaning up her hands and face, she wanted a mint from my Altoids can. Since grandpa and I were not finished yet and I wanted to keep her entertained for a few more minutes, I told her to look for it in my purse.  She loves digging though my purse!  I heard a gasp and she produced the small jar of sprinkles I had brought with me.

She looked at me with a shocked expression and said, “Why do you have the sprinkles?!”


Moral of the story: Never try to outsmart a three year old.









My Granddaughters Finger Polish

Grandkids, Toddlers By April 14, 2016 24 Comments

My three year old granddaughter came home from daycare (called school) and burst into the bedroom where her mom was folding laundry.  “I need fingernail polish!” she declares.  My daughter-in-law replies, “What do you mean?”  She excitedly explains, another little girl at her school has painted fingernails and now my granddaughter wants GREEN fingernail polish.   My daughter-in-law informed her that she doesn’t have green fingernail polish and she will have to discuss it with daddy.  The answer satisfied my granddaughter and it was assumed the topic was closed (hopefully for quite a while).  It wasn’t.

Long story short, several days later my granddaughter did a few chores to earn her fingernail polish.  They went shopping and found a “kid friendly polish” in blue and pink, which included (much to my dismay) a dispenser with teeny, tiny little sparkles to attach to the polish.  This happened on the way to grandma’s house.  Grandma DID NOT know anything about it.

My granddaughter runs into my house, precious package in hand, telling me ‘WE’ are going to paint her finger nails. Oh!  Meanwhile her parents drop and run (they have a dinner date—chickens).  I raised two boys, they never asked me to paint their nails (braid their hair or dress and undress a baby doll for that matter), so this is a new experience for me.  However, I am  honored that I get to be the first one to apply polish (shiny blue) to my granddaughter’s nails.

I was up for this – I did the fingers in blue and the toes in pink.  Although, I never realized how small her nails were, I think the brush was bigger than they were.  My usually energetic granddaughter was very patient and sat still as I carefully applied the paint.  A miracle in my book, she even let it dry.  I was actually kind of excited and I thought I did a great job.fingerpolish1 THEN – she said it was her turn.  What do you mean?  She proceeded to paint the tops of her fingers with the blue polish.  Very carefully, I might add – keeping her fingers stiff and separated so it could dry properly.  Over the next hour she kept looking at her hands, admiring her work! You got to love it.

Fortunately or unfortunately, it all washed off in the bath that night, expect for one blue finger nail and one pink toe nail.  Which she proudly showed everyone the next day.fingerpolish2

My conclusion is that my granddaughter interpreted Finger NAIL polish to mean FINGER nail POLISH.  She is probably reasoning the girl at school didn’t have a clue what she was doing because she only did half the job (just her nails)!

And yes, I did text a picture of the blue fingers to the parents while they were at dinner, as a comment on -“What were you thinking?!”fingerpolish3


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Best Grandpa Ever!

Grandkids, Toddlers By April 3, 2016 25 Comments

For our granddaughters third birthday we decided to get her a play kitchen.  I did some research, read reviews, chose one and then got my DIL’s approval before buying it (I learned my lesson with Dora).   The box arrived via UPS on a snowy morning. kitchen5I felt bad for the UPS guy, so I met him on the porch to retrieve the package.  He told me it weighed 70 something pounds (wow) and insisted on setting it inside for me.  He was probably afraid I would drop it! It was very nice of him though.  I had read online that assembly was taking up to 5 hours. Humph…I figured my hubby (grandpa) could do it in 2 hours or less.  Still, I had a tiny nagging feeling (you know the kind you get sometimes but choose to ignore), I decided we should allow a little extra time and assemble it on a Sunday afternoon. I say “we and us” very loosely because my husband was the one putting it together.

Armed with a handful of tools and a box cutter, he opened the box.  There were SO MANY PIECES and SO MUCH HARDWARE. Oops, I may have under estimated the time involved to put it together.  Grandpa is a trooper and got to work right away, hardly a grumble.  An hour passes, another hour passes….he hasn’t even gotten to the main frame yet.  It was like building IKEA furniture, only on steroids – page after page of instructional illustrations.   Right after hour 3 he was ready to assemble the carcass.  This is when I decided to give him a hand.  He was very gracious when, in my over enthusiasm to be finished, I accidentalkitchen4y flipped a page ahead, which caused me to put something together out of order. The graciousness came in because he had to disassemble what I had done in order to fix it and continue the build. Sigh….  After that, I just handed him the hardware he asked for.  Hour 4 ½, the kitchen is finished, moved into place and adorable.kitchen3

My granddaughter only saw the kitchen partially done before she went to a friend’s birthday party.  She did seem excited.  When she returned home, the kitchen was done but we had already left.  Bummer, right?kitchen2

I was told she took one look at her new kitchen, picked up the play phone (hanging on the wall in her new kitchen) called her grandpa and told him “thank you for my kitchen”.  Awwww…that was worth it.


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I Love Easter but Hate the Grass

Grandkids, Toddlers By March 24, 2016 Tags: , 19 Comments

I admit it…I hate Easter grass.  You know, the pink, blue, green and yellow shredded plastic piles added to Easter baskets for filler and cushion.  I have refused to buy it for decades.   The thought of it wrapped around the inside my vacuum cleaner, causing it to grind to a stop, makes me cringe. When I start one of these rants, most people just nod and smile like I am a little crazy or their eyes start darting around looking for a means to escape.  Actually, I have the same feeling regarding the silver icicles that hang on Christmas trees.  Trimming the Christmas tree sounds so romantic, until you are still finding pieces of tinsel in March……just in time for Easter grass to take over!  It is like a conspiracy.

Still, I wanted to do something Easter basket like for my granddaughters.  They are not allowed to eat a lot of candy, unlike my childhood where we gorged on Easter basket candy for days.  Hmmm.  After giving it some thought, I came up with a simple and acceptable solution. easter2

I found some Easter themed gift bags and decided to fill them with cute socks (always needed), small cans of Play Dough (they love it), and plastic Easter eggs filled with colorful gold fish (yummy).  Not a chocolate egg or bunny in sight.  They turned out nice and I am sure they will be well received.easter3easter4

Have a Happy Easter sans the grass!




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First Birthdays

Grandkids, Toddlers By March 20, 2016 Tags: , 16 Comments

First birthdays are interesting.  The birthday child has no idea what’s going on.  They are dressed up, hauled around and positioned with props, as LOTS of pictures are taken.  My youngest granddaughter just had her First birthday party.  Yes, I did take a ton of pictures.  But, one of the perks of a digital camera is that you can take a hundred and then delete all but five.Birthday-monnie

The party brought back the memory of my oldest son (her dad) and his First birthday party.  The guests were mostly adults, like most First birthdays are.  I was young and not comfortable with entertaining A LOT of extended family in my living room.  I wanted everything to be perfect because obviously that would prove I was a really good wife and mom. No insecurity issues there.  I baked a sheet cake, not the day before but the morning of the party.  I am not sure what I was thinking. Someone should have intervened!

My mom was helping me with the party food.  She was happily prepping something at the kitchen counter. The oven buzzer went off, the cake was done.  I asked her to move an empty pot that was sitting on a burner, so I could sit the cake on the stove top to cool.  I didn’t give it any more thought.  I left the cake innocently sitting there while I worked on the other party preparations.

Then I smelled it.  Something was burning…but what?  I checked the oven, it was off.  Nothing was cooking on the stove. Well, except…my cake!  Yes, my mom was getting ready to make something in the empty pan sitting on the stove and had turned the electric burner on.  I didn’t notice it because I had a big cake in my face and she was in a rush to help me and I guess she just forgot it was on.  Anyway, I pulled the very hot cake pan off the top of the stove, let it cool (someplace else) and then flipped it over to survey the damage.  In the bottom of my cake (now the top) was the black, crispy outline of the electric burner!  I could have cried.  Remember, I said that I DID NOT make it the day before but right before the party?  So, making it again is not an option.

I did the only thing I could do at the time.  I carefully cut out the burner marks and filled the large hole with icing.  Then I iced the rest of the cake and decorated it.  When it was time, I started serving it from the non-burnt side.  I was nervous and a little embarrassed but I didn’t hear any complaints.  I fessed up later, after the party was over.

I couldn’t laugh about it then (I was horrified) and I probably gave my mom a hard time, but now it is one of my favorite stories.

My granddaughter had store bought cupcakes. That would have been birthday3-monniemuch easier!








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The Dora Doll Debacle

Grandkids, Toddlers By March 6, 2016 Tags: , 13 Comments

What is a grandma to do?

The gift. My youngest granddaughter was about to have her first birthday and I was wondering what to get her. I decided to ask my daughter-in-law if getting her a doll was a good idea. Her older sister has a special doll named “baby” that has been hers for several years, thus “baby” isn’t shareable. I was given a green light to buy her doll.

One month before the birthday party. I raised two boys, buying a baby doll is not part of my skill set but I was up for the challenge. I spent some time scouring Amazon for the perfect doll. I looked at bald babies, talking babies, princess dolls, dolls that eat and pee.  I didn’t want a doll too small. I was looking for one that was soft-ish and hopefully washable. Along with “baby”, I knew my oldest granddaughter likes Elmo and Mini Mouse, so I stayed away from those. I settled on a Dora the Explorer doll. I studied the description, it matched what I was looking for and the reviews were good, I was sold. It arrived quickly (Amazon Prime), it was a little big but that shouldn’t be a problem, she can drag it around or lay on it. I was happy.  However, my husband did ask me to put it back in the box. I guess having the Dora doll sit in a chair in the living room was “creeping him out”…horror movie flashbacks.resized-Dora2-chair

One week before the birthday party. The older sister proudly shows me her new lunch box…Dora the Explorer. Huh….I didn’t know she even knew who Dora was. I am rationalizing that the selection of lunch boxes at the store must have been small or she liked the monkey on the front (evidently Dora’s sidekick). Honestly, it just didn’t click. Looking back, I should have known something was up when she knew the name of the monkey!

The day of the birthday party. I am pretty excited about the gift. I think it is going to be a big hit. The birthday girl is sitting on mommies lap opening presents. Dora is pulled from the gift bag. My son exclaims, “Oh! This could be a problem”. “What do you mean?” I ask surprised. Well…the answer was that Dora is now the new favorite character of my oldest granddaughter (aka older sister). This timely information is given to me along with a concerned look. Not a problem I thought, my oldest granddaughter is a rational, almost three year old, I will just explain the situation. She wasn’t in the room at the unveiling so I went to get her. I carefully tried to explain that I had purchased a Dora doll for her little sister.   This resulted in her jumping up and making a bee-line for the party, scooping up the doll, hugging it and tucking it under her arm. Meanwhile her parents are explaining to her that this is her sister’s doll, not hers. Without releasing the death grip on the doll, she replies, as confident three year olds do, ‘I am just going to hold it for her’. Oh my! The one year old doesn’t understand what is going on and is having more fun playing with the screaming elephant that her other grandmother got her. Never the less, I told my son that I would fix it.

The fix. So, what is a grandma to do? The peace in the family and my sons confidence in me as a grandmother may depend it. I don’t see another option and my husband is behind me 100% (although he is laughing at the situation I got myself into), I get on-line to order another Dora the Explorer doll! I decide to attach a cute little butterfly patch to her shirt so they can tell them apart. Big sigh.

Lessons learned. Next time get a complete list of each granddaughter’s current, favorite characters, in writing from the parents, before purchasing anything!


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Where Are the Bath Toys?

Grandkids, Toddlers By February 3, 2016 Tags: , 10 Comments

My oldest granddaughter (who was two and a half at the time) was spending the weekend with us. I decided to give her a nice, warm bubble bath before bedtime. She patiently stood next to me, supervising my work, as I filled the tub. I added extra bubble liquid, probably over the top, but I like bubbles. When the bath was ready I said, “Ok, you can get in now”. With both hands resting on the edge of the tub, she peered in and asked, “Where are the bath toys”? Surprised, I stopped in my tracks.  Bath toys had never even crossed my mind. We both stood for a moment looking at the fluffy bubbles, I looked at her, she looked at me, then I said, “Come on, let’s find some”. We hurried to the other room where I had put away all her teething rings and baby toys. Once I had found them, we headed to the kitchen where I picked up a small plastic cup, a funnel and some old measuring cups. With our hands full, we both hurried back to the tub. Satisfied, she tossed in all the ‘bath toys’ we had managed to find. I had picked up a pink rubber duck along the way and I tossed that in as well. She seemed very happy with her makeshift bath toys.  With a small sigh of relief, for a possible disaster avoided, I sat down on the toilet lid and watched her happily play in the mountain of bubbles.


A few weeks later, the bath toys ended up doubling as pool toys. I just changed their name. I wasn’t going to get caught being unprepared twice!


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Confessions of a Reformed Play Dough Maker

Grandkids, Toddlers By January 10, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , 7 Comments

Another Grandma Lesson

I admit it.  I don’t “do” play dough. As a grandmother, you might have thought I had a wonderful recipe to create this colorful, mushy stuff.  Obviously, after years of lovingly making it for my children and now my grandchildren, the recipe would be perfect. Wrong!  I never let my kids play with it (yes, I feel a little guilty…now).   But, in my defense, when my kids were kids, there wasn’t Pinterest, Google or even the internet. I didn’t  know play dough could be made from scratch. I always thought it had to be purchased from the store.

I felt, at the time, like I had good reasons for not letting them play with it. Of course, stunting their fun or creativity was not among them. Although, in today’s language, I would not be participating in an activity that could help develop their fine motor skills and tactile perception. Which sounds much worse. Honestly, I simply didn’t want to scrape it off the floor and table, pick it out of the carpet (we had shaggier carpet then) or scrub it off the couch.  Plus, my youngest put everything in his mouth.  He used to carry small Legos between his lower lip and teeth, like a kangaroo pouch. Yikes.  Much to my dismay, he didn’t break this habit until he was 4 or 5 years old.

My granddaughter is allowed to play with play dough at her house (great big sigh). Yes, the colorful kind that comes in cute, small tubs.  I suspiciously watch her play with it, time after time, when I visit their home.  I look around, noticing if any is smeared on the walls or permanently stuck to the floor and furniture.  It wasn’t.  Her worst offense was not putting the lid back on the canister. Pinterest taunts me with Pins on the “the best play dough recipe – EVER” or “I made scented play dough for my kids”.  All good moms and yes, grandmom’s, make their own play dough, don’t you know. Ugh.

The pressure was on and I finally caved.  The next time my granddaughter was over for the weekend, I made my very first batch of play dough.  It did result in a wonderful neon green and a beautiful color blue thanks to Wilton.


Here is the recipe I used (adapted from several I looked at):

Play dough

  • 2 ½ cups of flourresized-playdough6
  • ½ cup salt
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. cream of tartar
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • Food coloring

Combine flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large bowl.  Make a well or dent in the center. Pour in boiling water. Mix. Put on the cutting board and knead until smooth.  Put the dough in a gallon zip lock bag and add food coloring.  Knead in the food coloring while it is in the bag (this will keep your hands from getting stained). Open bag and let it cool.  Store in the refrigerator.playdough3

I also purchased a bag of cookie cutters from the dollar store and gave her some plastic knives and forks to use.resized-playdough2

Come to find out, my granddaughter is very good at keeping the play dough on the table, nothing much hits the floor.


I laugh and poke fun at myself for being so concerned about cleaning up play dough.  There is a different perceptive that you gain with grandchildren.  I think it may be a type of calm that is acquired though years of living life. I am now less concerned about a messy hand grabbing my shirt, a runny nose, wiped on my shoulder at lightning speed (before I can grab a tissue) and hearing cheerios crunch under my feet, as I walk through the room.  All things I would have been annoyed about a couple of decades earlier.

The grandma lesson I learned though play dough: Relax! Most things can be washed, wiped or vacuumed – it is just not that big of a deal. They will remember the time spent with you, not how neat and tidy the house is.  Sit down, have some fun, get creative and squish that dough.

I am now a reformed play dough maker. And, yes, I WILL make it again – possibly even scented!

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3 Inexpensive Toddler Activities

Grandkids, Toddlers By January 3, 2016 Tags: , , , 5 Comments

My husband and I watched our two granddaughters over the weekend. The youngest is ten months old, the oldest is an energetic 2 ½ year old. I was looking for some activities for the older one, to keep her engaged for short periods of time. My goal was to acquire a tiny bit of “down time” – for me!

These are the three activities I decided to try:

  1. Water color paints. I taped a couple of sheets of wax paper to my table using painters tape. On top of that I taped a sheet of art paper. The “art” paper is from a cheap roll (probably recycled newspaper) I picked up at IKEA.   Any paper will do, including brown bags from the grocery store or paper from the recycle bin. I put the wax paper down to help with clean up.resized-activity1
  2. Gluing paper strips. I cut up pieces of construction paper into smaller pieces, then handed her a brand new glue stick (using the same art paper as a canvas). She liked having control of the glue stick, as she created her collage. The challenge was keeping her from using it as lip stick! I also bought her a pair of beginner scissors, with the thought of teaching her how to cut paper. However, she couldn’t quite get the hang of it and frustrating her would have defeated the purpose of what I was trying to do!resized-activity2
  3. Putting pipe cleaners into a colander. I purchased some multi-colored pipe cleaners and pulled out a plastic colander from my cabinet. I saw this activity on Pinterest and wanted to give it a try. resized-activity4The idea is to cultivate fine motor skills by having them insert the pipe cleaners into the holes of the colander. She worked at it for a little while, which was all I was asking. Actually, she enjoyed sorting and organizing all the pipe cleaners by color, a bit more than the activity. Oh well. I will probably try this one again in a month or so.resized-activity3

These activities kept her happy and busy for short periods of time, which met my goal.  I spent less than $5 on new materials, all of which can be used again for the next adventure.

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Cookie Decorating with Kids

Grandkids, Toddlers By December 20, 2015 Tags: , , , , 3 Comments

Here is the scenario. You are trying to decorate dozens of sugar and gingerbread cookies. At your elbow is an enthusiastic toddler-baker that desperately wants to participate. She has the desire, but not the skills. What do you do?

Fail number one: Don’t give them a full bag of icing expecting positive results. Since most young children do not have a good understanding of “don’t squeeze it too hard”, you will end up with a mess. She squeezed the icing bag (too hard), it exploded out of the top and went resized-cookie-dec4everywhere. This picture was taken after we cleaned her up.


Fail number two: Don’t let her take control of a full sprinkle bottle. The first cookie she decorated came out 3-D. The innocent gingerbread angel was buried under 2 inches of blue sprinkles. However, we decided to do what Taylor Swift suggests and just “shake it off!”


The solutions:

Her mom came up with a brilliant idea. Let her paint her cookies. I dug around in my catch-all drawer and found a suitable paint brush. The icing was squeezed into a bowl and she happily went about her work.


Next we provided her with a sprinkle container that had chunkier sprinkles in it. It was the kind that has 6 compartments. She liked opening and closing the different lids and the sprinkles didn’t flow quite as freely. Another way to keep the sprinkles under control is to plug some of the holes in the top of a regular sprinkle container. Tape should work. I suggest hiding the tape underneath the cap, so they can’t see it. We didn’t get a chance to try this one, but I will next time around.

I labeled an empty cardboard box with her name.  When she finished one of her masterpieces, she set it in the box to dry.  Later, she proudly packed them all up to take home.


Our cookie decorating started off a little rocky due to our inexperience. But, with a few adjustments, it ended with a happy, satisfied child, who felt included in the day’s activities. Hopefully, our fails and solutions will help a little in your cookie decorating adventures.

Happy decorating!

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