Necessity (or boredom or a long car trip) is the Mother of Invention


Hello, gentle readers. I'm back! After a busy 2015 holiday season and surgery at the beginning of this year, I'm sharing our grandparenting adventures with you once again.

It's January and I've begun planning activities for our granddaughters' annual and much anticipated month-long summer visit. High on the agenda are games, games and more games. Boy, do they love games! Among their favorites are Mancala, Headbands, Taboo, Uno, MadLibs and any number of  captivating ones on their electronic devices. But by far, when we are all together, Jain and Sofia relish playing the games we've made up. Thus, this blog is about the cooperative games we've invented. I stress cooperative because I do not like competitive games among siblings, and especially not during a car trip. There is more than enough opportunity in their lives for competition. Vacation spent with their grandparents is NOT that time. I might have already addressed some of these games in past blog posts, so please forgive me if I am repeating myself.

Long ago, when our own kids were still at home, we invented a game called Apartment Baseball. The batter sits in the recliner and prepares for the pitch with an invisible bat (in other words, we use with our arms and/or hands as the bat). The pitcher winds up with a crumbled up piece of tinfoil (or damp paper towel, or wadded up waxed paper) fashioned into a round shape, and throws to the batter. The batter swings, either hitting a ball that is so lightweight it couldn't possibly hurt anything it hits, or misses entirely. Nobody runs base; batters stay in the chair and try to hit as many balls as possible. That's it. Of course, the pitcher tries to throw in such a way that the batter in the chair cannot possibly make contact with the ball. And that becomes fun, and funny. Unless, of course, the batter is very young and then the pitcher shows mercy and pitches right to the batter. Young children delight in making contact with the ball and we often hear, "More, more" or "Again!" Great game to play during inclement weather.

One Jain and Sofia were old enough to understood how to play the usual matching games, the ones where all cards are face down and get turned over one at a time to find matching pairs, I made cards for each girl with photos of famous women with their first names. Famous Janes or Jaynes and famous Sofias or Sophias! Of course, they were far too young to even know who those women were or are, but as they played we told them a bit about each person. So it became an educational game at the same time. Bonus! Soon Olivia will be old enough to understand matching games and I will make a set of famous Olivia cards for her. Ditto for her little brother, Lucas.

A photo in a book of a kitten standing on its hind legs as though it were going to either fight or dance got the attention of our oldest granddaughter one summer and inspired her to imitate that stance. She modified it by holding her nightgown out, in curtsy stance, and chanting, "I'm a pwetty pwincess. I'm a pwetty pwincess." I'm just glad I wasn't drinking or eating at the time or I'd have lost it all. She looked and sounded hilarious! In that bit of theatre, hunched over and affecting an accent, she was anything but a pretty princess. We collapsed laughing! A couple of summers ago, the rest of the family joined in. Grampy became the Kooky King, Sofia the Cwazy Queeen and I the Daffy Duchess. So, it's more of a theatrical endeavor than a game, but we have fun marching around the house acting out our own unique royal performance. So silly!

OK, we didn't make this game up. It's been around for years. But our grands put the silly spin on if as only they can. By far, the most ridiculous final version of an original statement evolved from the sentence, "The poor giraffe has laryngitis." I will not share what that final statement was. Suffice it to say, it had the girls rolling with laughter. That in turn made us laugh more, so much so that we were all holding our sides and jaws in agony. Now, of course, the telephone game is an absolute must every summer.

WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE? (more commonly referred to as WMYS?)
This is my serendipity activity. Serendipity is discovering unexpected joy. Serendipity is my absolute favorite word and I love that definition. Think of all the little things you encounter every day that make you smile, that make you just so glad to be alive. A baby's laughter, puppies and kittens, a beautiful sunset. Throughout the day, take notice of the things you see or that happen to you or someone else that make you smile. Go home, put up a piece of posterboard on a wall in a common area of your home, and write those things on the board. Or draw on it, paste a photo or illustration from a magazine -- any way you want to remember what made you smile. Invite all family members to contribute to it. A lot. We have our poster(s) hanging in a hallway leading to the guest bathroom where anyone who visits can also see and add to it. And we fully intend to keep adding more posters, filling and sharing them with everyone. This is not so much a game as it is a very unifying activity. Everyone loves reading the posters and adding to them. Some of the additions can be a conversation starter, too. Why does hearing J. Geils "Centerfold" make me smile? Because when our son, Seth, was about 3 years old he kept asking me to sing the "NaNaNa" song. I didn't understand what he meant until finallly it hit me! That part of the song that goes "NaNaNaNaNaNa, my angel is a centerfold." Thank God he didn't know what the song meant! But whenever it comes on the radio, it makes me smile! Hey, nobody ever said it should only be rainbows and unicorns that make us smile. Happiness and joy come in all forms, even in the most unexpected moments. When Seth got married, I suggested putting that song on their dance list for the reception. That made me smile. Seth vetoed the idea. It still made me smile.

This is a game I thought up just recently. I was contemplating common occurrences among the general population. There is more that unites us that separates us, even when it comes to what happens to us. I began to ponder the thought that at some point in your life such and such will probably happen to each of us. My mind took off at that point and I started to list some of those very probable things:

At some point in your life you will probably...
...burn your tongue drinking something too hot
...kiss someone romantically
...change a baby's diaper
...have a driver pull out in front of you
...encounter a rude driver
...have several bad hair days
...experience brain freeze
Silly Grampy can never take much seriously, and added his own spin to the game by saying "At some point in your life you will have a philosophical discussion with a squirrel." Alrighty, then. Why not put the silly spin on the game, too? Let your crazy out and come up with some improbable situations:
At some point in your life you will...
...walk through town with your underwear on your head
...sit in a rocking chair on top of an ocean wave tetherball with a hedgehog
Get the idea? Oh, I can hear the laughter now!


Ok, whew! Long title, eh? This was a game I came up with a couple of summers ago during a very long car trip. First player says, "When I grow up, I'm going to have three (or whatever number they choose) children, and their names will be X, X and X." At this point, the player searches for words on signs or buildings outside the car and names her children. When it was my turn, one of my children's names became Twp Rd (abbreviation of Township Road), which I pronounced Twip Rud. Jain and Sofia lost it. And I laughed so hard I could hardly see to drive! After that, they became determined to find names just as ridiculous and silly as that one. We do suggest that you limit the number of children a player is allowed to have or this game will never end. Warning: Hilarity and laughter are major side effects of this game!

Sometimes restaurant service is so slow it seems your meal will NEVER come. Solution? The Restaurant Quarter Game! Sitting across from one another, slide a quarter back and forth. If there is a line in the table's surface immediately before the edge, you gain one point if the quarter goes over that line. If you can manage to slide your quarter so it goes over the edge of the table without falling off, you get two points. Whoever has the most points by the time the food arrives wins. This is the ONLY instance we hope the cooks take their time in the kitchen! Certainly, the game keeps kids entertained while you're waiting. Just be sure to be considerate of other diners. If the quarter makes too much noise sliding across the table, please don't irritate your fellow patrons. For that reason, this game is best played in a noisy environment.


Ever wonder how a place or business got its name? Grampy became the creator of this game when he saw a sign for this creek during one of our recent car trips. Now we are eager to engage Jain and Sofia in making up stories about the origin of place names. How did Dawson's Fork Creek get that name? Was a fork involved? Did people come from miles around to admire it? And just who the heck was Dawson anyway? The girls love this kind of stuff, and I'm sure we will be highly entertained with their answers. They might even turn it into a Round Robin-type game where everyone in turn adds to the story. I can see that happening.

Here's a game we want to start this summer with the girls. Ever watch a show where one of the characters, in response to someone else's inane or ridiculous comment, says, "You should put that on a shirt?" One of our favorite British shows is "Sherlock." At one point in an episode, Watson said, "I don't understand," to which a frustrated Sherlock replied, "You should put that on a shirt." A bit later in their conversation, Watson said, "I still don't understand." And Sherlock testily quipped, "Aaaand there's the back of the shirt." Now Grampy and I can't help but listen to television show dialogue intently for comments that would qualify for the front and back of the shirt! His latest favorite quote for a shirt comes from the most recent Star Wars movie, "Escape now, hug later!" We can hardly wait to find out what Jain and Sofia's choices will be.

It's good to be back, dear readers. We will be sure in a future post to let you know how our game playing days evolve. In the meantime, if you have stories and adventures to share, please do. We look forward to knowing how you have fun and games with your children and grands!
Whatever games you play, remember, as Grampy always says,