Grandloving: Making Memories with Your Grandchildren, 4th Edition


Grandloving is a comprehensive sourcebook giving grandparents the tools they'll need to make memories with their grandchildren. You'll find over 200 activities you can do with or mail to a grandchild using materials you have right at home. Grandloving highlights tips from 350 families worldwide, heartfelt ideas for holidays, visits, and family traditions, reminders about child development, help for grandparents caring for their grandchild or grandparenting teenagers, an extensive list of resources and book ...
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Grandloving is a comprehensive sourcebook giving grandparents the tools they'll need to make memories with their grandchildren. You'll find over 200 activities you can do with or mail to a grandchild using materials you have right at home. Grandloving highlights tips from 350 families worldwide, heartfelt ideas for holidays, visits, and family traditions, reminders about child development, help for grandparents caring for their grandchild or grandparenting teenagers, an extensive list of resources and book reviews, plus helpful logos, 110 illustrations, and a easy-to-use seven page index. Selected as "Outstanding" by Parent Council, winner of the National Parenting Publications Gold Award, and recipient of the Seal of Approval from The National Parenting Center, this new fourth edition of Grandloving is an upbeat guidebook that will help grandparents grow closer to their grandchildren whether they live next door or a world away.Grandparents and grandkids go together like peanut butter and jelly. But even great family relationships can benefit from Grandloving's clever ideas and thoughtful advice. In this information-packed new edition, Sue Johnson and Julie Carlson, a dynamic mother-in-law, daughter-in-law team, teach America's nearly 100 million grandparents how to:
  • Have a successful visit with a new grandbaby
  • Create over 200 easy and fun projects and gifts, including yummy-smelling play-dough, photo placemats, and peek-a-boo books, using materials most grandparents have in their homes
  • Adapt ideas from 350 families around the world to make unique family traditions during the holidays - or anytime!
  • Take a coin-flip walk, exchange secret codes, paint with "messless paints", and explore science and outdoors with a grandchild
  • Make "happy Face Pancakes" and other delicious recipes with grandkids
  • Find outstanding resources for grandparents
  • Discover the best books and gifts for grandkids ages baby to teens
With expertise, warmth, and "been there" humor, Sue and Julie, both former teachers of young children, offer exceptional tips and activities in this comprehensive, up-to-date and colorful fourth edition of Grandloving. Like the original, it is sure to become a treasured sourcebook for grandparents as well as everyone who cares about children, including married and separated parents, day care providers, extended family members and teachers. With its lighthearted narrative and no-fail projects, Grandloving helps grandparents and grandchildren make heartfelt memories. It's the only grandparenting book co-authored by a two generational mother-in-law, daughter-in-law team and that also offers such broad input from so many families from all over the world. If you choose to mail or do one activity a week with your grandchild, you'll find enough ideas in Grandloving to last you more than four years! This is one guidebook you will reach for again and again! Enter the world of grandparenting where the boundless enthusiasm of grandchildren and the timeless love of grandparents meet...welcome to Grandloving! Author Comments:
It's not every day that you see family members working together, sharing dreams and making them happen. And perhaps it is especially rare when that chemistry is at work between two "in-laws". But we've been blessed with a super relationship and a united goal to help new and experienced grandparents make memorable connections with their grandchildren, whether they live across the world or next door to each other. As teachers and moms we know hat works with kids and our enthusiasm and heartfelt ideas inspire grandparents to connect with their grandchildren. There is no greater joy for us than updating a book that has already added happiness to so many families. What began as a book has become our full-fledged mission to support and cheer on grandparents in their essential role.
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Editorial Reviews

A Guide to Smart Parenting from Baby to PreteenGrandparents & Kids special issue
With input from 350 families worldwide, this new 4th edition is updated, comprehensive, fun and easy to read.
Making memories with your grandchildren is easy with Grandloving.
Donna Bell
Grandloving is a thoughtful treasure to give to new grandparents or even to those who have years of grandparenting under their belts. If you are already a grandparent, or are a grandparent-to-be, don't wait for someone to buy it for you; the book will be both a wonderful treat and useful guidebook for you and your grandchildren.
James A. Cox
Grandloving offers more than 200 innovative and inexpensive activities for grandparents and their grandchildren that will foster and enhance a close familial bond between the generations. By using these ideas and suggestions grandfathers and grandmothers (and uncles and aunts) can literally make life-long memories that will be cherished. Indeed, Grandloving will inspire the children when they eventually mature into being grandparents themselves one day.
Midwest Book Review
Janet Haseley
Illustrated with how-to drawings, Grandloving also includes the most comprehensive resource section and index we've seen. We highly recommend it!
Creative Grandparenting Newsletter
Jo-An Holstein
Grandloving is especially helpful. From suggestions on items to take along when visiting grandchildren to activities that can be mailed or done while grandchildren are visiting, the book offers fun tricks and little ideas.
Arizona Republic
Karen Heinz
It's not every day that you see family members working together, sharing dreams and making them happen. This new book has been designed to bridge the generations by offering more than 200 innovative and inexpensive activity ideas and insights to preserve memories and encourage intergenerational sharing. Grandloving offers suggestions for creating meaningful, heartfelt relationships between parents, grandparents and grandchildren.
Marcia Todd
Boy, grandparents everywhere will have a ball with Grandloving! Only 10 pages into the book and I was 'hooked.' This is a fun, down-to-earth collection of easy, inexpensive ways to show your grandchildren how much you love them. This would make a great gift for grandparents - or buy one for yourself, Grandma!
Farm and Dairy
Mary Paschall Darby
Anyone who thinks mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law cannot work together has not read Grandloving. Sue Johnson and her daughter-in-law Julie Carlson, both early childhood educators, have written an extremely helpful book for enriching relationships between children and their grandparents. You will want to keep this book handy for quick reference when your 'grands' visit you or when you visit them.
Mature Living
Northwest Senior News
Mailbox grandparenting fills a chapter with more than 75 ideas!
For grandparents attending baby showers, Grandloving makes a great gift! Experience the power and magic of the grandparent-grandchild relationship
Pediatric Nursing
An excellent resource that would make a wonderful gift for new grandparents.
Senior Times
Sue Johnson and Julie Carlson have tackled the task of strengthening the bonds between grandparents and grandchildren.
The News-Review Senior Times
Grandloving is the grandparenting bible. A wise grandma would put it next to her shopworn copy of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care.
Wendy Tayler Carroll
Johnson and Carlson have written a peppy, upbeat blueprint to building a good grandparent-parent-grandchild relationship from both near and far.
Central California Parent
Children's Literature - Sheilah Egan
The authors have collected excellent, concrete advice for grandparents as well as lots of games and activities to enjoy with grandchildren of all ages. Grandparenting has evolved through the last few decades. Now many grandparents are physically fit and much more involved in the lives of their grandchildren than was the norm of past generations. This book will serve well to help parents make the transition to becoming grandparents. Chapter headings include: "The Postpartum Visit" (do not show up unannounced—communication and consideration is of the utmost importance), "Love Across the Miles" (phone calls, little things in the mail, books shared on tape and video, e-mail, and YES, faxes—send notes and drawings back and forth!), "When the Grandchild Comes to Visit," "Visiting Your Grandchild" (learn the rules of their household—bedtime is not the time for wild games), "Heartfelt Holidays and Family Traditions," "More Mailbox Treasures" (these ideas would work for traveling parents as well), "Caring for Your Grandchildren and Helpful Resources" (local maps to the doctor's office, preschool, library, etc. are invaluable), "Looking Ahead: Tweens, Teens, and Beyond" (some grandparents are better with babies and some enjoy older children more but all should keep the connections close so that families do not drift apart as the young ones grow up). The bibliography of books to share with grandchildren is a real treasure and includes lots of different kinds of resources from a wide variety of experts such as T. Berry Brazelton and Ellen Galinsky. Full of wonderful ways to exhibit unconditional love, this title will be an excellent resource for grandparents in allsituations—near, far, or even "adopted." It is all about the love, the most valuable gift of all.
From The Critics
Now in a revised and expanded second edition, Grandloving: Making Memories With Your Grandchildren is more effective than ever as a compendium of tips, ideas and suggestions for grandparents to bond with their grandchildren. More than two hundred fun and easy activities drawn from 350 families are presented along with sound advice, helpful suggestions, and inexpensive dotogether projects. Whether it something special for family holidays and celebrations, or just a rainyday or weekend visit pastime, Grandloving will have everything you need to plan and implement a truly memory making event. Enthusiastically recommended for grandparents of any age or circumstance, Grandloving's engaging, "reader friendly" text is enhanced with reminders about child development, an extensive list of resources, helpful logos, and an easytouse index.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780967534961
  • Publisher: Heartstrings Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2007
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Sue Johnson has contributed numerous articles for quilting and craft magazines, including Crafts, Quilt World, and Threads. Her work has also appeared in The Crazy Quilt Handbook and The Fiberworks Sourcebook. She is currently the CEO of Gramma Graphics. She lives in Lancaster, Virginia. Julie Carlson is an editor and ghost writer for the university presses at Harvard and Yale where she has edited many books including the Pulitzer prize-winning A Nation Under Our Feet and The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn. She lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Ann Ruethling is the coauthor of Under the Chinaberry Tree and the founder and CEO of Chinaberry Books. She lives in Spring Valley, California.
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First Chapter

Love Across the Miles

"How is school?"


"What's new?"

"Umm . . . here's Mommy."

All right, confess. You've had this conversation before, or one a lot like it. If you haven't yet been the discouraged grandparent, you can remember being the bored child on the other end of the line. It's the phoniest phone call ever, and you seem destined to repeat it endlessly. Or are you? Get your pencils out, grandparents. We're going to give you the tools you need to make your relationship with your grandchild actually improve between visits.

Phone Calls: Long-Distance Snuggling

Dan Rothermel, of York, Maine, wrote to let us know that "the tradition of Saturday morning calls that my parents started and we make sure to continue (by calling if they haven't) keeps us connected. It's regular and reliable. It's a call that is not about a crisis but is an update." One of the most enduring and rewarding rituals you can begin with your family is just this sort of "warm fuzzy" call-one that is at a time convenient to everyone, doesn't necessarily last long, and gives you a way of touching base regularly with each member of your clan.

Your littlest chatters will look forward to your calls with eager anticipation. Even a grandchild as young as six months enjoys hearing voices over the phone, and by the time your little one is a year old, he'll be grabbing the receiver to listen to you-and probably playing touch-tone "music" in your ear. Creative parents, with encouragement from you, might place your picture by the phone so that little ones can "see" you during the call.

At this stage, the most important aspect of your phone calls will be your happy, interested voice and the way in which you use easy words to carry on a one-sided conversation. Questions can be fun, but you can't expect a relevant reply from the little gigglers in your family. Moreover, as your grandtoddlers mature, they will enjoy hearing the same questions in successive phone calls. With the same gusto usually reserved for that favorite bedtime story read just the same way night after night, your youngest grandchildren will love the familiarity of your repeated phrases and songs-and best of all will learn to associate them with you.

Sometime during your grandchild's second year, those phone monologues you've been carrying on will become dialogues-but not the sort that you have with adults or even older children. Toddlers will happily burble out phrases that come to mind, but these snippets of conversation often have no relation to what you've been talking about. One of the greatest joys of listening to a child this age is to realize that you are getting the unedited exclamations of a growing thinker. As a way of showing your happiness with their new skills, you might try building on the little stories they tell by saying something like, "And then what happened?" or "That was a big surprise! What did you do next?"

Two- and three-year-olds have their own rules about conversations, too. The most apparent one is that their needs and interests come first. This view is only natural, because at this age your grandchildren are just beginning to learn that other people can have a different outlook than they have. (In fact, while teaching nursery school, we used to smile at the two-year-olds who would play "story time" with their friends and think that just because they saw the pictures, their friends could, too!) Some typical interests of your grandchild during this time are food, toys, pets, recent outings, and songs. As a way of tapping into these interests, why not sing the "ABC" song together over the phone at the end of your talk (or as your entire conversation)? Ignore the doubletakes your grandpartner spouse might do at your end of the phone-he or she will see the light soon enough-and use your most interactive, child-oriented conversation starters to get your young preschool-age grandchildren talking.

As your grandchildren grow into school-age, many more possibilities open up. Gun Denhart of Portland, Oregon, suggests for this age "reading a book nightly over the phone, while a grandchild holds a copy of the book, too." Our kids have enjoyed getting into the act as well, by performing simple pieces on the piano, reading stories created at school or at home, and describing inventions and adventures.

Little Events Seem Big to a Wee One

If it's been a while since you've talked to your grandchild, you might be astonished at how sensitive they are to the nuances of other people and to the subtleties of day-to-day events. It can seem amusing to us as experienced as we are, but the drama, excitement, and fun of these ordinary details are very real to your little one. Judy Smith, a Grandma and educator from Seattle, Washington, suggests that grandparents take advantage of their little talker's fresh perspective by "telling stories of the little things that might seem interesting to your grandchild." We couldn't agree more. Focusing on the activities of your family pet or on the latest snowstorm is exactly the kind of conversation that children appreciate most.

You'll be excited to know that by doing this you can help your grandchild learn to speak and think more clearly. Jeanne Machado, an early childhood expert, gives this practical advice for those of us who want to play with and love grandtoddlers and twos in the most meaningful way:

Getting the most from everyday experiences is a real art that requires an instructive yet relaxed attitude and the ability to talk about what has captured the child's attention. A skilled adult who is with a toddler who is focused on the wrapping paper rather than the birthday present will add comments about the wrapping paper. Or at the zoo, in front of the bear's cage, if the child is staring at a nearby puddle, the adult will discuss the puddle. Providing words and ideas along the child's line of thinking, and having fun while doing so, becomes second nature after a few attempts.

Machado's example could be easily adapted for a phone relationship. Try this conversation between a Grandma and her three-year-old granddaughter on for size:

"Hi, Monica."


"I hear you had pizza for dinner. What do you like on your pizza?"

"Apple and cheese!"

"Oh, my. Did you know that my dog Rex likes cheese?"

"Me too!"

The humor in this conversation is fun for both generations, and it blossomed simply because the grandparent-in this case a Grandma-asked questions and interjected new child-oriented ideas that showed she cared about things her young granddaughter enjoys. It's not hard to follow her example. First try to pick up on whatever your grandchild seems to find interesting-or ask your very young grandchild's parents for ideas. Then simply make your chats come alive with heartfelt questions and enthusiasm.

Becoming a Helpful Listener to Older Grandchildren

Steering away from "yes/no" questions and asking about your grandchild's life in an inviting way, with opening phrases like "Tell me about . . ." (rather than "How was") and "What was it like?" (instead of "Did you like it?") is a wonderful first step toward better communication with your older grandchild. Your next step might be to keep a little pad by the phone after your grandchild is old enough to remember events from week to week-in the three-and-a-half to five age range-and ask them about past concerns and triumphs. How is that scraped knee from last week's bicycle crash? Is it still hard saying good-bye to Mommy at nursery school? Knowing these and other aspects of your grandchild's daily life, including, for instance, the names of your grandchild's best buddies and classroom teacher, will mean a lot to your little one. Keeping track of these details shows that you're listening and that you really care.

"'Bye, Bye, Gruppa!"

You won't have any problem knowing when your older grandbabies are through talking with you-if they're anything like our youngest, Charlie, they'll just toddle away from the phone to do something new. But learning how to close a conversation with a preschooler can be trickier. Mixing directness with a good dose of kindness will help you. Just simply say, "Thanks for our great chat-I'm going to say good-bye now, and we'll talk again soon!"

But if you find yourself on the other side of this coin-if you're not yet ready to go when you think your preschool-age grandchild is ready to hang up-know that long pauses on your grandchild's end often do not mean they're ready to move on. In fact, sometimes preschoolers just need a little extra time to think of an answer or a comment. One of the great advantages of being a Grandpa or Grandma is that you may be the one who has the most patience to wait encouragingly for a reply. This simple act of allowing your grandchild to take all the time he needs is a remarkably rare and supportive one for your little one.

Parenting While on the Phone: A One-Armed Juggling Act

Although it is very special for children to get a call from Grandma or Grandpa that is devoted just to them, realistically many of your phone conversations with your grandchildren will include talks with a parent, too. The rules are so different when little ones are around that it's best to give the young parents' perspective some advance thought. It's hard to remember the hectic pace of parenting one or more young children (thank goodness!). But you can decide now that you will graciously bow out and offer to call back (or have the parent call you another time-collect if necessary) if in the background a child is crying, dishes are clinking, and the parents are trying to talk to each other between comments to you. Make it a habit of asking if you're calling at a convenient time. New parents, too, who may not have the hubbub of busy children in the background as a handy excuse-and who may still be in the throes of a "do it all" mindset-may be reluctant to excuse themselves, but will appreciate your sensitivity. And we all remember how notorious toddlers and preschoolers are for making mischief when their parents are on the phone; depending on the day, these parents perhaps need only the quickest of calls from you. In the event you often do make special phone calls only to your grandchildren, you might want to keep in mind this comment from Hannah Rothermel of York, Maine: "I think my mother-in-law must have been a Grandma in a former life-she's so good at it. She writes letters just to the kids, and asks them what they like and think and want (she doesn't always go through us). Yet she's very careful not to 'go over our heads.' [She lets] us be the parents." With a little foresight and good communication with your grandchild's Mom and Dad, you can have a wonderfully independent relationship with your little ones and still support their parents' important roles.

No More High-Tech "Hangups"? Well, That Depends…

Jim and Lyn Rawlingson from Paraparaumu, New Zealand, recommend purchasing "a telephone speaker so that the whole family can hear our voices"-an idea seconded by Cookie and David Bates who wrote from Spring Hill, Florida. Does your grandchild's family have a phone that can be programmed? Are you willing to have a personal 800 number? These simple devices can make it easy for a grandchild to call you without help and will add another dimension to your calls by getting your little one more involved. From our experience, it's a thrill to know that one button on the phone pad is all that stands between you and a conversation with your grandchild. We also like the convenience and versatility of many of these new inventions. If you're at all interested, we encourage you to drop by your local electronics store and take a look at what's available, including the new visual phones and electronic mail systems that include a voice message. (Now if we could just think of a device to stop little fingers from gleefully hanging up on us!)

Rewind, Fast Forward, Play: Grandma's Telling a Story

We know, we know. You're not a professional storyteller, and you never even had any illusions about attending broadcasting school. Come to think of it, even your singing voice, which was passable in the fourth-grade chorus, now sounds like a World War II bomber in heavy turbulence.

Wait. You don't have to be a professional, or even a good amateur, to make terrific audiotapes for your grandchild. Your voice, whether confident or shaky, is the only one you've got, and it couldn't be more special to your littlest family members. Read a story, sing a song, sing a story, read a song-any combination will do. You might also read (or rap!) a nursery rhyme, talk as you make a favorite recipe (you can send the recipe and a tasty sample in the same package), read off a list of "I love you because" statements, or even make a tape of sound "riddles" (see the activity "Cassette Connections," p. 52). If you simply use your imagination, you can make a wonderfully inexpensive and personal gift for your grandchild. When making an audiotape of a read-aloud book, it will be fun for your grandchild if you say why you like the book, or that "this was your Mommy's book, and she loved it when she was your age." Children love hearing about themselves and their parents as babies, because it gives them a more historical perspective-a sense of belonging. It's also a good idea to say "time to turn the page now" or to develop your own signal, such as a bell (or even your dog's bark!), for this purpose.

Grandparenting in Cyberspace

No, you don't need a driver's license to merge onto the information superhighway-just a sense of adventure and the confidence that comes with knowing that as this technology has become more popular, it's become easier for even non-technical types to use.

You also, of course, need access to a computer, and so does the part of the family with whom you'll communicate. Then it's a matter of buying some communications software and a communications service such as Compuserve or America Online.

Are you still with us? Let's just say that a knowledgeable salesperson will get you set up in no time, and if you can afford the initial costs, the continuing benefits are huge. For one thing, emails never interrupt. Imagine being able to send a quick message to your far-away family members and have it almost instantly received, but not have to wonder whether you've contacted them at a bad time. At their convenience, they log on and reply to your message-or print it out for the grandchildren to keep. Email messages are also wonderful because they encourage a casual writing style that can help build a closer relationship than a letter. Speed is the reason for this, we think. It's just so easy to type up a message, and so gratifying to have it delivered immediately, that you will find yourself writing more frequently and about more everyday events. You might find, as we have, that email provides the perfect balance between a warm and personable call and an unintrusive, but more formal, letter.

Just the Fax, Bumpa!

If you want to be really hip, you can invest in a fax machine or fax modem that allows you to send whole images over the phone lines and into either another fax or your extended family's computer to be printed, colored on, or simply displayed. In our family, pictures "drawn" by grandchildren are passed to the computer memories of the grandparents, and little "slide shows" of scanned-in photographs become computer screen savers and backdrops on the computer screen. If you're a family of more savvy computer users with sound cards in your computers, you can even send your voices back and forth (Nick's toddler giggle is now the "error alert" on our computer). If you don't have a fax, try sending and receiving through your local copy shop or other fax support store. The possibilities are endless, and they can make a long-distance relationship seem at times as close as next door.

Now Playing: Grandparents on Film

Videocameras are another item that more and more families find they can't live without, though purchasing and using one can be rather expensive. There's nothing like the image of your first grandson teetering to the slide on his new "walking legs" or your first granddaughter's gleeful laugh in the tub to warm your heart. The newer videocameras help even the most amateur of filmmakers produce quality home movies.

Grandparents can make the most of a videocamera in their own home by sending videos of themselves doing things that will entertain and enrich their young grandchildren. For the littlest grandbabies, grandparents can film themselves playing peek-a-boo from behind a chair or couch, saying "So Big" with arms stretched upward, and singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes," and other classic children's songs. Slightly older children, say ages two and three, might enjoy a video "tour" of a long-distance grandparent's home, especially before a visit. You can even prepare your grandchild for a stay at your home by showing them the park, library, and other places in the neighborhood they'll be visiting with you. Or give those nearby little ones a rainy day alternative to Disney with your own video production of a children's classic tale-they'll love it! (See "The Stars of the Show," p. 55.)

Long-distance grandparents will find other ways to make a videocamera bridge the gap. Their home and environment might have things that the grandchild's doesn't-for example, a grandparent might make and videotape a snowman and snowangel for a child who lives in the South or grandparents living near the ocean could videotape themselves building a sandcastle for a grandchild who lives inland.

Videotapes, made with either rented or owned videocameras, can be an important part of documenting the growth and development of all members of the family, and you'll find you treasure these moving images as much as your cherished family photos. Some families we know make a point of asking grandparents questions about their lives to make an interview library for all to share. (See "Memory Movies," p. 189, for some questions to ask.) Perhaps you'll like the idea of becoming immortalized in this way, too.

Special Delivery: Grandloving by Mail

Many of us are looking for easy, inexpensive, and creative ideas to stimulate conversations and play between grandparents and grandchildren-whether you live near or far away. Well, here's a selection to get you thinking. All you'll need is a nine-by-twelve-inch manila envelope (or smaller), a stamp or two, and a willingness to personalize these ideas whenever and however you can. If you're really inspired after reading this chapter, we encourage you to flip to chapter 7 for additional ideas that you can use every week of the year.

Did you know that every day someone goes to your grandchild's home, ready to deliver something that you thought to make and send? Most grandparents don't think of postal carriers as personal messengers, but they should. Our Nick and Charlie literally jump for joy when the mail arrives, and are always excited to be a part of opening envelopes-especially any addressed to them. Even your littlest grandbabies deserve a special delivery of a letter or package now and again, if only to tickle their parents. Or do like little Anna McKenzie from Hampton, New Hampshire, does with her Grandpa: when she learned he used Morse code in the war, they started corresponding like secret agents. (For more code ideas, see "Secret Club Codes of Yore," p. 54.) If you'd like to encourage a preschooler grandchild like Anna to send things to you, just enclose some self-addressed, stamped envelopes and postcards for an easy reply.

It's often not what you send that's important, but the fact that you send something regularly. From Fairfax, Virginia, Linda Hansen wrote, "Establish a routine for letters and packages-Robert even thinks delivered pizza comes from Nannu!" She also wrote, "Robert has a dog, Cassidy. Every package-no matter how small-that goes to him includes dog treats for Cass." Betty Barnes of Fairport, New York, shared a great idea: send clippings of photos from newspapers and magazines as a springboard for stories between the generations. We even know of one Grandma who sent her "junk" mail along to her toddler grandchildren. The brightly colored ads had a great appeal, and the fact that a letter came every day from Grandma was the most wonderful treat of all.

Once you really get into the habit of sending off frequent mailings to your little one, you might find, as we have, that it helps to purchase a package of address labels for your grandchild. Give half to him and keep the other half for yourself-a quick lick sure beats addressing!

©     ©     ©

Learning to send your love by phone, email, fax, and mail is, for many of us, a bittersweet part of being a grandparent. At times, it might even seem a thankless job, with grandchildren too young to communicate their thanks and parents too busy and distracted to help your grandchild respond with frequent letters and calls of their own.

It's true that the payback for all your work often is intangible, but it sure feels right when it happens. The next time you see your grandchild after a long separation, you'll be rewarded with a flash of recognition, big smile, and happy shout of "Opa!" or "Bubbie!"-which will warm your heart and make all your efforts feel worthwhile. Even your stranger-shy grandtoddlers and twos will peek up from their parent's shoulder sooner than you might expect-and will be joking with you before you know it. It's for these times, and for the hope that you can be an essential part of your grandchild's life no matter how distant your homes, that we know you will continue to package the best of your love and send it in ways that delight and intrigue your youngest grandchildren.

Grandloving by Mail: Creating a Lasting Language Together

The symptoms are, happily, completely incurable. A feverish expectation, spontaneous dancing in the front hall, a compulsion to peek through the windows and shout, "It's coming!" A hand outreached, as if pleading for the last drop of water on some Saharan plain-or the last jelly bean in the jar-and then, as the envelope is found, a long, joyous "Yesss!"

Something magical happens when a grandchild receives a piece of mail addressed only to her. In these days when buzzwords like "self-esteem" and "whole language" can obscure what helps children learn and grow, a letter from grandparent to grandchild gets to the heart of the matter by making the child feel special and intrigued by words. There's simply no better way to show how much you care than to make your grandchild's mailbox a treasure chest where she can regularly find games, notes, and ticklers from you.

By the time we're old enough to be grandparents, many of us have a hunch that young children might learn best through play. Those silly rhymes and goofy jokes we shared with our friends and family when we were kids, after all, form some of our most vivid memories. As teachers of hundreds of children whose language blossomed during our time together, Julie and I can happily and wholeheartedly confirm your suspicions: all that fun actually launches "schoolbook" learning. It's beyond question now that the way children learn to talk and write is intimately tied to the ways in which they play and form loving relationships.

What does this mean for your relationship with your little bundle or busybody? Simply that you can encourage this astonishing process of learning to speak and write through your light, fun communications. Best of all, this is the kind of sharing and learning that grandparents and grandchildren can do best.

No, we're not suggesting that you work to make that grandchild of yours a superbaby. That little one is going to be the sparkle in your eye no matter what he or she accomplishes, and that's just as it should be. But by bridging the distance between you and your grandchild, you'll both benefit. Think of how fun it will be to build a collection of favorite found objects; how your magical "decoder" will draw out many of the cryptic feelings of your grandchild; and how the bits of science that you teach through mailable experiments could spark a lifelong interest in exploration and discovery. Every time you pop one of your ideas in the mailbox, you'll know that you're encouraging the best in your grandchildren and offering the best of yourself-your personalized love-to them. It's a win-win proposition that will enliven your friendship with your little ones and make you the most memorable grandparent you can be.

Happy Grandloving, everyone!

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It was about midnight, six hours after Elizabeth, our first child, was born. My husband and I were driving home from our midwife's cottage under a full moon with one of earth's newest human beings sleeping in the car seat between us. Feeling contentment and joy down to our very bones, but numbed by the intensities of the day, we suddenly realized that we were no longer two, as we had been for the eight years since we'd been married, but now three. We were struck by the powerful and undeniable awareness that in bringing forth this child we were now responsible for this 8 pound, 2 ounce person-no turning back, not ever. Awash in these new feelings, my husband turned to me and said exactly what was going through my own mind at that moment: "Wow. We REALLY did it this time!" Nothing would ever be the same again. And perhaps it was because we were simultaneously so weary and spent and emotionally high, it was as if time were standing still for us to savor the newness, the intense joy (and yes, the panic) of becoming a mother and a father.

My parents, who had attained grandparenthood for the first time with Elizabeth's birth, soon came to visit. After a twelve-hour bus ride and a five-hour plane trip (we lived in a very remote town!), they wearily yet eagerly tiptoed into our room at nearly 3 A.M. to meet their granddaughter for the first time. Elizabeth was sound asleep in her cradle. And there were my parents, silently leaning over to get a peek at her in the darkened room. I can see their silhouettes even now, nearly twenty years later. It was one of those rarefied moments that come so quietly and preciously and fleetingly when a child is new to the world. And it was in that very moment that Mom and Dad truly became grandparents.

Both Elizabeth and her brother, Evan, born three years later, are in their teens now. I'd have given anything for this book to have been available to me when they were young. Oh, I sent an enormous number of photos. I made tapes of their babblings and mailed them off to Mom and Dad. And Mom sent books and tapes of her reading those books so that Elizabeth could follow along. Our families got together about twice a year, and the children were delightfully pampered in their few days with their grandparents. But if we had known how short their time together would be, we would have tried to make even more of those connections (although, truth be told, I'm not sure I would have known how). Grandloving would have made these few years so much richer. Because my parents did not live to see their grandchildren reach school-age, we missed out on most of that special, relaxed connection between the oldest and youngest generations, the opportunity for my children to love someone who has lived well before them and seen so much of life. And that saddens me, because all healthy cultures know that it is our elders who can offer children the wisdom of perspective. They know that children will pass through stages and that the stages fly by with increasing speed. Grandparents know that what children need most is to be loved and that yes, they will learn to be potty trained (how many kids go off to college in diapers?) but the essence of their being is more important than any accomplishment. And so they know to take the time to show their love each moment, for the gift of age has also taught them how precious time is in our lives. The ideas and inspiration in Grandloving would have been a perfect fit for nurturing that relationship.

These are wonderful times to be expecting a grandchild, and I'm excited about what Sue and Julie have created in this book. With warmth and good humor, they have gathered the best tips from families worldwide. I trust that their mission of supporting and cheering on grandparents will inspire you to embark on your own journey into grandparenthood. May you create and sustain meaningful relations among all the generations of your family-and may you have warmth and joy and fun along the way!

Ann Ruethling, Founder

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2006

    Fun to read practical tips guaranteed to add pleasure to your times together

    Grandloving is packed with simple how to's for all occasions.Although I've never been a mom,I found the tips were easy to follow and lots of fun for both of us especially the unexpected first time alone with just the two of us and a whole day to play and feel comfortable together.'Ingredients' are easy to find and simple to assemble. Wise advice combined with humour and affection makes this an easy but educational read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2007

    'Grandma, I'm glad you are my grandma.'

    If you really, truly care about your grandchildren (children of all ages and whether they live close to you or far from you), then this is the book for you! There are so many great activities in the book, your grandkids will be saying, 'Grandma, I remember when you and I did . . . . That was really cool.' As you do activities together, your life's wisdoms will be instilled automatically, which is something kids need especially in this day and age. Hats off to the authors for their excellent suggestions for increasing love between the generations. Whether you are a brand new grandparent or an already established pro, this book contains ideas that will cause your grandchildren to say, 'Grandma, you're awesome!'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2007

    This is one terrific book!

    The subtitle says it all: 'Making Memories with Your Grandchildren: a world away...or next door.' This book won the National Parenting Publications Gold Award, and was selected as 'Outstanding' by the Parent Council. For anyone who has grandchildren living somewhere else (as I do--over 2000 miles away!), this is one terrific book! The authors quote: 'Grandparenting is a gift between two people at opposite ends of their journey.' Alex Haley said, 'Grandparents...sprinkle stardust in our eyes.' If your desire is to bridge the distance from your heart to your grandchild's, here's a book to help. It's full of ideas galore: how to keep in touch when they're out of reach, how to make their visit to your home enriching and memorable, how to make your visit to theirs restful and fun. Do you need ideas for crafts? Plenty here! Do you need creative ways to keep in touch by mail? Peek inside. Almost 300 pages of creative help, with extensive lists of books for children (and for grandparents!). A good index makes finding that gem you came across last week findable again. I like this book. It's motivating and it's practical.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2006

    So much fun!

    This book is an amazing compilation of quick, easy and inexpensive ideas for families and classrooms of all designs. If you are looking for a great creativity book, look no further! If you want to educate, inspire and nurture children and young adults, this book is a valuable purchase! By using only a few activities from this publication, you are certain to enhance relationships across the miles or right in your own neighborhood! I turn to this book time and time again for ways to make my family smile. Bravo to the authors and to those adults who invest of themselves so selflessly in the lives of children around the world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2006

    Great resource for grandparents!

    What a wonderful resource for grandparents! The wealth and wide variety of information included in this comprehensive book is amazing, and so very helpful to grandparents-to-be--whether they`re 'experienced' grandparents, or about-to-be for the first time. 'Grand Loving' begins with pregnancy, offering the reader ways to make memories for parents-to-be. Some of these suggestions involve remembering when the kids (soon-to-be-parents) were on the way. These are things that will provide priceless memories for the parents-to-be and the new grandchild. The authors offer wise words on a very wide variety of situations and circumstances, including dealing with miscarriage, helping older siblings of the new baby adjust, avoiding conflict and letting the new parents parent without interfering, but offering support. Speaking from the 'other' side (I'm 'just' the parent now, so the grandparents are my parents and in-laws), I found myself smiling and saying 'yes!' as I read the advice to grandparents about not giving too much advice, offering support to the new parents, being prepared to entertain yourself when visiting the family with the new baby, making memories, and even getting along with other grandparents. The 'project' sections of the book give clear instructions for a wide variety of things to do with the grandkids. Don't worry if you are not 'crafty,' or don't enjoy the outdoors the authors have given projects in nine different categories, including art, construction, cooking, games, and music. The projects use inexpensive, readily available supplies, and every grandparent is sure to find many activities he or she will enjoy with grandchildren of any age, with any interest. This book is a 'must have' for any grandparent--'about to be' grandparent or 'have a bunch of grandkids' grandparent. It would make a great gift from the parents-to-be to the grandparents-to-be, perhaps even as a fun way to announce a pregnancy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2006

    Two Thumbs Up from this Loving Grandma!

    My grandkids are the light of my life and when I heard about Sue and Julie's book, I knew I had to have it. While I share a wonderful relationship with my grandkids, there are areas that I wanted help with. As I don't live in the same town, the telephone hints were the greatest. Before, the kids would answer in short one-word sentences, now they're getting involved and I'm satisfied that we've connected when I hang up. The recipes and things to make items are on my list to do on my next visit. And I've just begun to scratch the surface of this multi-faceted book. I know it's going to keep me and my grandkids happily busy for years to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2006

    A keeper

    Many grandparents long to have a relationship with their grandchildren but live too far away or just don't remember how to have fun! This terrific book helps on both counts (and many more). It's easy to read, but hard to put down if you're looking for ways to interact with grandchildren of all ages whether near or far. I'm a pretty creative person myself, but the authors came up with some ideas I'd never thought of and I plan to implement them. I also plan to tell other new grandparents about the book. It would make a great gift for anyone new to the world of grandparenting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2006

    Heartfelt & Helpful

    From the moment I turned the first page of the Award-Winning book GrandLoving, by Sue Johnson and Julie Carlson it immediately earned a special place in my home. From the heartfelt ideas, helpful resources, and hundreds of creative activities - GrandLoving is a book that will be treasured throughout the years. GrandLoving is not just for grandparents. Anyone who has a connection to children will find the book a priceless resource tool that will be used many times over. Well-written, extremely organized, and tons of fun. GrandLoving sparks an excitement in all of us who wish to be actively involved with the little ones in our lives and GrandLoving shows us countless ways to do just that. Marsha A. Johnson, author of Emerald¿s Garden-How to grieve, mourn, and recover from loss.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2006

    When grandchildren enter your life, be sure you're equipped with Grandloving!

    This book is the perfect combination of practical tips, fun activites, resources and excellent book reviews. Trust Grandloving to be your sourcebook for all your grandparenting needs. As a teacher of young children, I have found Grandloving's ideas and insights also helpful in my own practice. Be it preparing for a visit, a project, or connecting from afar, Grandloving provides all the tools you'll need.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2006


    Sue and Julie have done a first rate service to humanity! Their thoughtful book is full of practical, creative ideas that will draw families closer together. The layout of the book makes the content crisp and easy to read, and the whimsical art adds to the fun. I normally shy away from books like these, because the projects typically consume more time than I have, and the craft projects involve collecting lots of materials and creating lots of mess. But the projects in this book are fun and easy to do. As the authors say, sometimes the simplest things can create the most meaningful fun and the best memories. This is a must book for grandparents. It would also be a great resource for every daycare center, church nursery, and preschool where you the goal is to entertain children with activities that stimulate creativity and imagination. I love Grandloving!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2006

    For 'newbies' or old-hands

    Are you an about-to-be grandparent? Then you need this book. Or maybe you are an old hand with a ¿PhD.¿ in grandparenting? I promise you will still find an array of fun, inexpensive ways to form closer ties with those grandchildren in ¿Grandloving.¿ Sue Johnson, along with daughter-in-law Julie Carlson, have gathered an amazing collection of tidbits of wisdom, creative ideas and just plain, fun things to do with kids. They provide a wonderful guide to those who might be a little nervous at the idea of small children around again. With creative ideas that fit every stage from infant to adolescence, any grandparent or parent will love this book. The ideas are easy and inexpensive, from the ¿Nut¿s on a Run¿ walnut-shell racecars to the ¿Snowman in a Box¿ that will delight children. ¿Grandloving¿ offers a myriad of ideas for fun and building closeness, especially if you live far away from the grandchildren. Great as a gift book.

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