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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Making memories with grandkids

Randi and Graci with both sets of grandparents on
the Disney Dream Cruise in 2013
"If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I would have told you to have them a long time ago," something my mother-law said when we had her first granddaughter. My parents already told me how much they loved being grandparents as my first daughter was their fourth grandchild and they just loved being grandparents.

What is it with grandparents and their grandchildren that makes their bond so special? I think it has to do with the memories they make while they are together. No matter if you are able to see your grandchildren all the time or see them every once in awhile. It's the time you do have that is important.

Randi and Graci celebrating the new year with
their Papa and Nana Tubbs.
My two girls, Randi age 12 and Graci age 11, are so fortunate to have both sets of grandparents alive and living close to our family. My parents who they call "Frama" and "Pa" live right around the corner from us and my husband's parents who they call "Nana" and "Papa" live a two and a half hours away just south of us.

Both sets of grandparents play a huge role in my daughter's lives and their other grandchildren's lives. My parents have nine grandchildren now and my husband's parents have four.

Since we live within a mile of my parents, we are always doing something with them. The girls love to just go over to their house to just say hi. They enjoy spending time with them.

We are a pretty close family. My brother and two sisters and their families all live within a few miles. When the whole family gets together it is a party every time. We have 19 people in the immediate family. We like to get together as a group to celebrate everyone's birthday and all the holidays.  Recently we got together for my dad's 70th birthday and celebrated in Orlando at Gaylord Palms. It was during the holidays, so we saw Ice! Featuring a Charlie Brown's Christmas and went snow tubing. It was quite a memory for the kids to go for the first time. We even had breakfast with the Peanuts characters and watched the Cirque Dreams show together and had fun hanging out with the family.

Pa and Frama Hendricks with their children and grandchildren
at Gaylord Palms ICE in Orlando

My parents like to do experiences like this with their grandkids. My dad and mom want their grandkids to remember them when they go do things with their own kids when they grow up say, "I remember when Pa and Frama did this with me when I was a kid." Some other fun memories my kids have with them are going on the Disney Cruise, Disney World, Weeki Wachee, Rays Opening Day, picking a pumpkin patch out at the pumpkin patch, celebrating St. Patrick's day, and visiting my parents hometown of Chicago.

Randi and Graci with two of the
their cousins making crafts
with their Pa.

But it's the fun little things the kids will probably remember the most like pa making his famous popcorn or taking them to Home Depot the first Saturday of the month to make free crafts. He's been taking all the grandkids since they were three. Their frama likes to bowl and had all the grandkids one year on a bowling team. Each kids had their own bowling ball and shirt.
Even though we don't see my husband's parents as much as we see my parents, the girls do get to spend a lot of time with them when they see them. They will usually stay at our house a few days at a time or we will stay with them a few days.

Nana baking cookies with her grandchildren,
Graci, Kai and Randi

My husband's mom loves to bake with the girls. She has been baking cookies with them since they were little and now they bake with their younger cousins. She also takes them on long walks which they like to call "meadow walks," on a trail near their house. The girls pick flowers along the way. The girls also like going to the park and community pool in my in-laws neighborhood.

Randi and Graci getting a behind the scenes tour of
the Red Sox stadium at Jet Blue Park at
 Fenway South in Fort Myers, FL.

Their papa works for the Red Sox during spring training as a tour guide for Jet Blue Park at Fenway South, and last spring training their papa took them on a behind the scones tour of the stadium. They loved it and it was so special because when they hear anything about the Red Sox they think of their papa and the tour. 

Randi and Graci with their Nana and Papa in their great
grandpa's cottage in Michigan.

One tradition with my husband's parents is going to Michigan and visiting their great grandfather's cottage on Lake Heron that he built. Every few years my husband's whole family including his cousins get together to have a family reunion in Michigan. It's a lot of fun and memories of the girls great grandparents are passed down. This a very special time.

My husband's dad, the girl's papa spent a lot of time with his grandparents growing up. His parents passed away when he was 13 years old. He remembers them always being there for him and he wants his grandchildren to know their grandparents are there for them. One memory, I have is when Randi was old enough to talk, she went up to her  papa and whispered in his ear, "I love you papa." She is his first grandchild and that's all it took for him to say "What color convertible does she want?"

Frama and Pa at their granddaughter's soccer game.

Both sets of grandparents try to get to the their grandkids sports games and school concerts and recitals. All their grandkids are involved in lots of activities and my kids know when they have something important their grandparents always try to be there supporting them.

As I look back on my childhood with my grandparents,  I know my kids are very blessed. I know my grandparents loved me, but I wasn't as fortunate to be able to spend the time or do things my kids get to do with their grandparents. One of my grandmothers I never even met because she passed away when my dad was a teenager. My mom's parents lived far away, so we didn't get to see them as often as I wish we could have and they also died young, but I still have great memories of them.

What I have found is what is most important is the time you spend with your grandkids. It's not what you give them. I can't remember one thing my grandparents gave me. It's the memories that will last forever.

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