Age Gap? What Age Gap?


Oh, dear! I had no idea I had gathered this much information from all my research on summer activities for our granddaughters' visit. Usually I remove pages from the previous summer's binder to make room for the current year. The old 1-inch binder wouldn't even close! So I upgraded to a 1 1/2-inch binder and even it is already very close to being full. Seems I've collected a wee bit too much. Ah, well, as my dad says, "It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it."

One reason for the expanded file of fun is that our extended families will all be together in New England. Our son and his wife are expecting a baby boy in early June -- our first grandson! -- and our daughter and granddaughters are joining us to visit them and their 2-year-old daughter, Olivia. While Mommy and Daddy are busy with the baby, I want to be sure we are excellent caretakers for Olivia.

This presented a new challenge for me. Sisters Jain and Sofia are only four years apart and have always loved everything we do each summer. But this year I needed to find activities, arts & crafts, and games that are easy enough for a toddler and still fun enough for her cousins who will be 9 and 13 this year. I don't anticipate any problems with the age gap, though. When Jain and Sofia met their little cousin, Olivia was only 5 months old and they made her laugh uproariously. This will be their second visit with her, and I'll bet they get along famously!

Nevertheless, the old Girl Scout in me says to "Be Prepared," so after researching the Internet, checking books out of the library and thumbing through Family Fun magazines, I've come up with nearly 40 activities that are age-appropriate for Olivia. Jain and Sofia will join right in the fun, assisting her as need be. I've selected art projects that can be done both inside and outdoors, topping it off with one of our own inventions from a few years ago we fondly call "Mess-terpiece." A large piece of white butcher paper is taped to the driveway. Several bowls of tempera paints are set near it on the ground. Items (different size balls, squishy toys, etc.) are dipped into the paints and rolled across the paper. Or splatted onto the paper (they loved that part!). TIP: Be sure to put your kids in bathing suits so you can hose them off afterward. Eventually, they coat their hands and feet in the paint and add handprint and footprint decor to the artwork. This art project is a huge hit, as you can tell from the photos I've added.

I can't possibly explain all the activities in detail in this blog, but I will share with you at a later date those the girls enjoyed the most. Suffice it to say, I've followed my father's advice (see comment in first paragraph), and the Girl Scout motto, to a T. We certainly won't get all of them accomplished, either, but Jain, Sofia and I will consult on our favorites and try to do those with Olivia.

One project I've handed over to Jain and Sofia is putting on a puppet show for Olivia. I asked them if they'd be willing to write a script for a play and bring a couple of their favorite puppets to be the actors. They both eagerly agreed and knew immediately which puppets they would pack! We have a few days together prior to visiting our son, so during that time we will practice the puppet show.

All three girls love to read, so quiet time with Olivia will most certainly involve them reading to her and her "reading" to them. Great time for the parents, grandparents and auntie to take pictures and videos! And, boy, does Olivia love videos. Babies love to see pictures of themselves and people they know. I encourage you to share all photos and videos with your grandchildren, especially if distance separates you and visits are not as frequent as you would like.

Speaking of photos, since a lot of our extended family lives in New England, we are hoping to take some four-generation pictures, too. My father-in-law is 92 and we see him so infrequently that we want to be sure to get these pics of him, my husband, our son and his two children while we have the opportunity. Most certainly there will be a lot of photos taken during our vacation, but these are the ones that mean so much. When we return to NC we will be doing the same with my family before our daughter returns to California. And all of these vacation photos and memories will be added to scrapbooks I assemble every year for the girls to enjoy when they visit. It connects us over time and keeps family the most important thing of all. Have a great summer with your children and grands, and as Grampy says,