Our Grandparent Resource Kit is Constantly Evolving

Doodlebug and NJ were visiting through the past week. What that meant was five days of trying to keep them engaged and entertained. Not an easy task. This is something I struggle with because I was a kid who was never bored. I came from an era where kids went outside after breakfast and showed up again for dinner. Where on rainy days, I often sat and played either with a sibling or by myself. Mostly by myself. I grew into an adult who was / is never bored, married The Doc and had JT who are also never bored so entertaining kids tends to be a bit of a challenge.

It was something I gave a lot of thought to when I knew that Doodles and NJ were moving close enough to visit on a regular basis because I really, really, really wanted them to want to come visit. The Doc and I have a pretty great setup for entertaining grandkids. We live on a lake. What kid doesn’t want to play in the water? There are tadpoles and bullfrogs to chase and catch. We have nets and pails. What kid wouldn’t want to try to catch these? We have JT’s trampoline for bouncing and an inflatable island to jump off of when swimming. All these things have the makings of kid paradise. Yet the novelty wears off quickly, sometimes in as little as fifteen minutes, and Doodles and NJ are once again bored. So their visits take some forethought.

In the past baking was a great time filler on a rainy afternoon, but these days the pull of electronics is stronger than the idea of quality time with nanny in the kitchen. So this year I didn’t stock up on baking ingredients in advance. In hindsight, I probably should have. However, this is an evolving process which changes annually.

My resource kit investment this year was pool noodles to promote additional play time down at the lake, and they did help, but the weather was a bit against us. Nova Scotia endured one of the hottest and driest summers this year; but fortunately and unfortunately, just as the girls were due to arrive, we were graced a cool north wind, dropping temperatures and assorted showers. Fall was definitely in the air. Just a little earlier than last year.

Martinique Beach, the longest sandy beach in Nova Scotia. 3.7 km

As part of our annual visit, we incorporate beach days, Nova Scotia beaches are beautiful and very inviting, especially when it is hot. On the morning that we headed down to Martinique Beach, I had my fingers crossed that the wind, which had changed direction and was coming from the west, would be behind us and held back by the dunes. That was wishful thinking. Martinique Beach is the longest sandy beach in Nova Scotia and my personal favourite. On that day it was a wee bit chilly. The wind stirred up the sand and the water was the temperature of just-melted ice cubes. NJ and I tested it almost up to our knees until our feet went numb and we retreated back to our beach mats. We spent the next couple of hours relaxing and eating a sandy lunch while huddled under our towels. I chose to go for a walk up the long beach but had no takers so The Doc stayed with the girls. Afterwards we returned home where the lake and the air were warmer and more inviting. 

Bodies huddled under towels.

The one thing that Doodles and NJ never get bored with is food. Bonding over food is a family tradition. It is where we share stories and opinions while we enjoy delicious meals. This is where our resource kit shines because both Doodles and NJ love our meals when they come to visit. That is because when they come on their own, meals revolve around what they enjoy eating. Breakfasts are The Doc’s homemade waffles with fresh fruit and frozen yoghurt. The recipe makes a couple of dozen so we can get several breakfasts by freezing them then popping them in the toaster in the morning. Dinners are also made with them in mind. Both girls like seafood so one meal was The Doc’s delicious shrimp on the BBQ served with fresh corn on the cob. On other nights there was chicken and pork tenderloin both with kid-friendly veggies and one night perogies. which they love. Then finally burgers. And every night there is a dessert. Sometimes ice cream, sometimes a homemade treat by nanny. This visit’s treat was a blueberry crisp which received two thumbs up. I get bonus points because I am a nanny who makes treats.

While we eat, NJ regales us with stories about her and her girlfriends. She is almost ten and loves to talk and is still at the age when she is willing to share the details, all of which are amusing in a ten-year-old girl-sort-of way. Injecting opinions and jokes from the sidelines is Doodlebug who has a wicked sense of humour and a unique way of interpreting all those details.

Then there are the snacks. No sooner do we get everything cleaned up from the meal when someone wants a snack. I have learned to have plenty of fruit, cheese, crackers and granola bars in hand to fill tummies between meals. 

On a day that both The Doc and I had appointments, we traded off grandkid care with me doing the morning shift that included a bit of lake time and him rallying for the afternoon shift by taking the girls to check out some of the local Mineville parks. One, the one by the lake and river, the one without swings and climbing things, was the biggest hit because there were crabs and baby eels in the water. (Note to self: add The Museum of Natural History to next year’s kit.)

This year we also did two dog-related movie nights inspired by their new puppy, Cooper. The first was the animated Scoob of Scooby-Dooby-Doo fame (need I say more). The second was The Call Of The Wild, loosely based on the book by Jack London. Both received thumbs up even though there was some debating over The Call Of The Wild prior to viewing.

On our last morning we packed everything in the car and headed to Halifax to investigate the boardwalk, have some lunch and enjoy a Harbour Hopper tour. (https://www.harbourhopper.com) The Harbour Hopper is an amphibious vehicle that tours downtown Halifax by land and sea. The most exciting moment is when it splashes from land into the water and everyone is encouraged to yell ribbit! Doodlebug loved it while NJ thought that the water portion could have been longer. On that point, she is not wrong. Either way, it was a fun and different thing do with the girls before beginning the drive to take them home.

So as always we added and subtracted various things from our resource kit to try to keep the engagement and entertainment level well above boring. We were not always successful but will continue to do our best for future visits. One big change I want to make for next year is to perhaps do it a week or two earlier so we can guarantee successful beach days. I have no plans of ever dropping the beach days. Every kid, The Doc and I included, loves the beach on a hot summer day.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this, feel free to share

Photos: Jenn Stone

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