Hot fun in the summer time…

With the holidays behind us, I can now turn my focus to Camp Grandma 2020!  The hard part is done.  The venue is booked and all our children have the week blocked off on their calendars.  Now it’s time for the fun stuff.

Our immediate family consists of 8 adults and 7 grandchildren. With all of us together for a week, getting everyone fed and keeping kids happily occupied are my main objectives.  Since my husband and all our sons are great cooks, the meal planning seems to happen pretty seamlessly.  No one has ever gone hungry at Camp Grandma.

I am most in my element when planning activities and crafts for the grandkids.  This is their week with their cousins, their aunts and uncles and of course, their grandparents and I while I want the main emphasis to be on that experience, I like to have some planned activities.  They look forward to these activities as much as I do and it’s a special part of their Camp Grandma experience.

We have done many projects over the years including making terrariums, building steppingstones on the beach, and making items from clay.

I’ve begun my research for activities for this year.  We’ll have 37 acres to run and play on, so I’m putting together a “field day”, keeping the emphasis on fun and not competitiveness.  I have my work cut out for me there and if anybody has any ideas, I’d love to hear them.

My grandkids all like to work in the kitchen, so there will be some culinary fun.  As research, I’ve been watching episodes of Kids Baking Championship, partially to remind myself of how much kids are capable of without my hovering!  Again, my goal is to morph this into a fun experience and not a competition.  I’ve ordered up some cake decorating tools – tips and bags – and I’m going to enlist the help of my daughters-in-law in teaching a cake decorating class and maybe making some macaroons.   

One of the days I’m going to have the grandkids help me decorate the pool house and make and serve appetizers for a little pre-dinner party for their parents.    I did something similar a couple years ago when we had a dance party.  I went to a party store and bought a slew of decorations off their clearance table.  Nothing matched – there was no theme – but they were all fun and festive.      

I am all too aware of the passing of time.  At the first Camp Grandma in 2012, Henry and Eli were running around in swim diapers and this year they will be 10.  Mr. Smith and I know there will come a day that Camp Grandma won’t be feasible and we’ll have to figure out another way to get everyone together.  But not this year!  This year it’s on.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

C’est la vie. 

Building a tradition one sand castle at a time…

Many, many moons ago, with stars in my eyes and no inkling of what lie ahead, I married my husband, Mr. Smith.  Under a flowered arbor and wearing a crown of stephanotis and gypsophila, I said “I do” and we began our way down the highway of life together.

We moved around a bit in our early marriage, including to Georgia and Minnesota. When our sons were seven, four and two, we moved to a small town in northeast Indiana, into a roomy old Victorian on the corner of Diamond and Oak where we stayed for over twenty years.  The boys could walk to school, the library and the park.  Mr. Smith worked hard at turning a “diamond in the rough” into our family home where we enjoyed many years of holiday celebrations, family milestones and the wonderful mundaneness of everyday family life.

  In 2007, he got an unexpected job offer out east.  As our sons were grown and now building their own lives, we decided to say yes to a new adventure.  We purged and purged and finally packed up twenty plus years in that fabulous, closet-challenged old house and moved east. Not long after we moved, the grandchildren started to arrive. In less than ten years, we welcomed seven grandchildren into our lives.

Before the move East, I had imagined my “grandma years” in our rambling Victorian with grandchildren running up the front stairway and down the back, reading books and having snacks on the back porch, and tucking them in at night in a row of little twin beds listening to them call good night ala The Waltons. Ha! As that certainly wasn’t going to happen in our current one bedroom apartment, I had to come up with another plan. That plan was Camp Grandma!

Helping build the tradition…

            I’ve always loved a project and now I was a woman on a mission.  Despite the miles between us, we usually managed to see each other during the Christmas season or for grandchildren’s birthdays.  This usually meant Mr. Smith and I making the rounds to see our sons and their families in their own homes.  I wanted all my peeps under one roof with me for a week.  Our little apartment wasn’t going to handle that so taking everyone’s responsibilities and commitments into consideration, Mr. Smith and I decided that every other summer we would rent a big house on a lake and host our ever growing family for a week of esprit de corps.

            It is the best thing I have ever done.  I truly believe everyone looks forward to our week together.  The cousins that live hundreds of miles apart get time together with their “beach friends”.  I plan activities and games for the grandkids.  The older they get, the more fun it is becoming.  This past year I instituted “Camp Grandma Book Club” and each evening the “Big Five” and I would go off on our own and I’d read to them from The Boxcar Children.  The morning after we finished the book, we went out to an adorable little bakery in a nearby lake town for donuts.  We all sat at the big round table in the front window and I was a very happy grandma.

Camp Grandma Book Group (and driver!)

            I am currently working on planning Camp Grandma 2020.  It will be a very special one as it is the summer I will turn 65 and my first born will turn 40.  The last night of Camp Grandma 2018, two of the grandchildren slept in Mr. Smith and my room as it also had a set of bunk beds.  We were up first and starting to move towards getting us packed up and on the road.  Grandpa went back in where Eli and Olivia were lying in the bunks chatting with each other.  He told them they had better get up, grandma had cinnamon rolls in the oven and we had to start getting ready to go.  Eli looked at him and said “I can’t believe it’s over already…”  

            I think that’s pretty much how we all feel when it’s over.  Mr. Smith and I spend the first hour or so of the drive home talking about our favorite memories of our week.  Then it’s on to brainstorming about how to make the next one even better.  Camp Grandma is a true example of making my life the best that I can.  And it’s pretty darn good.

C’est la vie…