Grandparents are ‘grand’ on special — and every — day | TribLIVE.com
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Mary Pickels

Grandparents are another set of eyes, ears and loving arms for their children’s children as they navigate the world.

They are great at doling out advice, an extra buck or two, buying ice cream and storybook reading. Just don’t call it “spoiling.”

So, of course, there is a day — Sept. 8 — set aside to recognize their many contributions to their families.

National Grandparents Day is Sunday, and what better time to show the grands how much they are appreciated?

Moving baby in

New-ish grandmother Martina Kaufman of Latrobe will celebrate her second Grandparents Day by helping her 16-month-old grandson, Julian Bajkowski (along with her daughter and son-in-law, Caroline Sheedy and Jared Bajkowski) move into his new home in Pittsburgh.

“This will be the best one so far, because they are back home,” she says.

The young family recently relocated from Washington, D.C., sending Kaufman over the moon with joy.

Like some grandparents, she has come up with a unique moniker for herself. Combining grandmother and her first name, Kaufman refers to herself as GramTina.

“It kind of started with Caroline doing it at a young age. She would add things to her name. And to differentiate between me and her very wonderful mother-in-law, they called me MomTina,” she says.

“GramTina” was a natural segue with Julian’s arrival, she adds.

Watching “Sesame Street” is currently high on their list of spending time together.

Staying active in their lives

What else can families do to enjoy the day and treat their grandparents like the special folks they are?

National Today has some ideas.

One interesting suggestion is to interview one’s grandparents. Whether the grands are just learning to print their names, or are in college, they can ask their grandparents about their lives, or better yet record them.

• Where did they live when they were kids?

• What was their favorite subject in school?

• What did they do for fun?

Are they adventurous?

Most grandparents love to snuggle, play dress-up or peek-a-boo with, or cheer on their grandkids at games and recitals.

Others might be more thrilled with, well, some thrill seeking.

Maybe they would like to take to — and exit into — the skies, and a gift card for skydiving might be just the nudge they need.

Perhaps they would like to lace up their sneakers or strap on a bike helmet and explore some nearby trails, maybe at Schenley Park or Ohiopyle State Park.

Foodie grands?

Who doesn’t enjoy dining out?

Many restaurants offer discounts, and few seniors can resist the chance to save on an enjoyable meal with their grandchildren.

They also are likely to be thrilled with any goodies grandchildren might make for them, from homemade fudge to brownies.

If they have green thumbs, maybe you can help them to use some of their surplus zucchini and make delicious muffins or breads. This is where you are likely to learn what the heck “just a pinch” or “a smidgen” really is.

Be sure you get a copy of Grandma’s recipes to pass along to future generations.

The big (outdoor) screen

Before summer ends, take your grandparents down memory lane with a visit to a drive-in movie.

Chances are, they recall many dates or piling the family into the station wagon for outdoor movie nights. They may be pleasantly surprised to see couples, and families, still enjoying the old-fashioned past time.

Let’s play

With their patience and attention spans, grandparents often enjoy playing games.

Pre-schoolers and younger children will enjoy “teaching” their grandparents how to play Candyland or checkers.

If your grandparents regularly visit a senior center, or reside in a nursing facility, chances are bingo makes a regular appearance on the activity calendar.

Dig through your change jar and go play a game or two with them, keeping not only their but your own mental skills sharp.

Culture and critters

Teens and adults alike can squire grandparents around a museum, giving each an opportunity to learn about the art they enjoy.

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg has an exhibit, “The Era of Cool: the Art of John Van Hamersveld,” that likely will appeal to baby boomer grandparents and their descendants who are into “retro” culture.

Or surprise them with tickets, on sale now, to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh’s “Mummies of the World: The Exhibition,” opening Oct. 5.

The younger set can burn off some energy, and the grandparents can impart some wisdom, with a family trip to a zoo.

Pittsburgh is home to both the National Aviary and the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, and both offer a fun experience full of “oohs” and “ahhs” for all generations.

However it is spent, enjoy the time together, and remember the late Alex Hayley’s quote:

“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.”

What some grandparents might add is that the sprinkling is mutual.

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