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Reflecting back on the years of memories with my grandmother has reminded me how intentional she was with each of her grandkids. After 7 kids I think she became an expert in making every moment count even with very simple activities or gestures.
As a parent I hope that the small and big things I do with my kids are all part of the great memories they will cherish as they grow up. Some of my most embarassing moments witnessed by my kids will probably be memories they will have forever (and never let me live down!).
Kids seem to remember our most embarasing moments like it happened yesterday! Know what I mean? So of course one of my favorite memories of my grandma is when she had something embarassing happen to her while spending some time with my sisters and me.
We convinced my grandma to go out on the lake we lived on in a small paddle boat. We wanted to show her how good we were at navigating our little boat and show off the places where we loved to fish. My two sisters and I let grandma sit in the back of the paddle boat while two of us paddled out to the drop off and the big weed beds so we could look for fish. It was a partly cloudy day, great for spotting fish in the water below. We were all leaning out over the water watching for fish. Suddenly we heard a small splash, followed by a angy explitive from grandma! Knowing my grandpa was on the shore a short distance away watching my grandma very quietly told us her glasses just fell into the water and sunk to the bottom. Not wanting to alarm grandpa (or even let him know this had happened) she asked that we make a few passes over the spot where they fell hoping to spot them.
We all felt bad for grandma but knew that this was her problem and she would deal with it all on her own (a.k.a don't tell grandpa). When we arrived back on shore and grandpa asked how the boat ride went, my grandma, with a big smile and sparkling eyes complimented my sisters and I on our excellent paddle boating skills and told how much fun it was to spend time with her granddaughters. We instantly forgot about the glasses basking in the compliments.
Over the years memories of time spent together, cards, gifts and advice have been made leaving me with a full list of memories of my grandma. My grandma loved to read action and mystery novels (Clive Cussler, Mary Higgins Clark were two of our favorite authors) and she and I would swap books whenever we came to visit her. Our enjoyment of this book genre was something we had in common that none of her other grandkids shared. I think each one of us (all 17) can attest that each shared something special like this with her.
So how do you go about creating these types of long lasting memories with your kids or grandkids? Spending time with them is the first step but if you are too far to see each other you might have to get creative.
With the advancement of technology there are so many ways to stay in touch - email, Facebook, Skype, Face Time, ect. Don't underestimate the power of technology - use it to your advantage.
Here is a list of five ways you can begin to create lasting memories with your children and /or grandchildren:
1. ScrapbookingCreating a collage of pictures of you and your children/grandchildren with their help is a great way to make a memory together. Reminising over pictures is a great way to talk about past adventures or memories all while creating one with them.
2. Pen PalsMake a simple cardboard mailbox and put it somewhere in the house where you and your children can write letters to each other and put them in the mailbox. Get ready for some super special artwork, letters and notes from your precious children!
If you are a grandparent and don't live close to your grandkids why not become pen pals. Even if you do live close (maybe down the block) getting a letter in the mail from someone special is a treasure to be kept for a long time.
3. Spontaneous ActivitiesThink trip to the park, fishing, pick-up game of ball or even going to a game together. The fun part is that it is unplanned and anything goes. As kids get older the activities can change to fit their interests. Remember though this is memory making - NOT time for you to be on your cell phone!
4. Make Meals TogetherTime spent in the kitchen preparing a meal together is therapeutic and a great way to make memories. I hope my kids remember the first time they made an omelet, cake from scratch or their own mini pizza with homemade dough. If you aren't handy in the kitchen find a simple recipe to try together. Mess-ups = memories!!
5. Start TraditionsOne of my favorite memories as a kid are the traditions my parents did with us every year. Most of them revolved around holidays like carving pumpkins, dying eggs for Easter or decorating the Christmas tree together. Even though we did the same activity every year there were always great memories being made. If you don't have some traditions in your family why not start some new ones with your kids or grandkids.
We make homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning breakfast every year. My kids love helping with this and every year we talk about our memories of past preparations - like somone knocking over the flour or the year the rolls were left to rise so long that the oozed out of the pan!
Making memories with your kids and grandkids is so special! These memories will last a lifetime and be cherished when you are gone. Be creative and start making memories with those who are special to you today!