Grandma Camp with four grandchildren.
Crazy because the children stair-step in age 4-3-2-1.
So from the beginning I determined that "camp" would be pretty simple.
Like, really simple.
Maybe as uncomplicated as just having a play-at-Grandma's, kind of day.
For months I've been contemplating what four children, ages four and under would like to do with their Nana. Formal planning just wasn't happening. Staying true to my nature I made an executive decision.
To just go for it.
This is my loose translation of how it went.
The Plan: •Monday morning. •For half a day. •White t-shirts with the iron-on logo. •A few craft ideas. •Some food. •End of planning.
The theme: "Jesus Journey"
(Actually I didn't have a theme but the amazing Tara Kautz sent me a logo she made and that's what I used.) It is adorable, yes?
The verse: I didn't really have one. I just kept telling them that "Jesus loves you." And then I would ask "Who loves you?!?" And they would all chirp, "N-a-n-a!"
Well that is true too.
Before the fun could begin, I had to get them to my house. So I pull out of the garage at 7:30 a.m. on Monday morning. This Grandma has yesterday's hair because there was no time to shower. I wear my sweats and no make-up. Being up past 2:00 a.m. and getting back up by 5:30 a.m. to vacuum dog hair was pushing things.
It had to be done.
One thing this Nana is not good at is the correct installation of car seats. The grandchildren can tell you. There has to be humor in my grandma gymnastics as I climb over seats and little people to reach more little people to click the belts. Just as I'm congratulating myself on a mission accomplished, I hear a little boy gasping for breath and squeaking "...help ....Nana.." The seat belt had pinned him tight as if I had slammed on the breaks and the belt would not release. It might have been funny if I wasn't so busy wondering how I'm going to cut him loose.
After some shifting of car seats we are off. All the beautiful happy faces make me glad that I'm doing this Grandma Camp thing after all. We sing silly songs. We sing loud and we make up new words to old songs. Now two children are hungry and the car has the distinct smell of a diaper that needs changed. Things were pretty good for about nine minutes. So we reach our destination and the little people pour out of the car. Phew! No really.
The little men and little princesses are excited to arrive and the dogs are running and barking and there is me looking for coffee. Every toy is brought out and the boys fuss over Tonka trucks and the one pick-up truck with a horse trailer that has a broken hitch. The girls cried because there is only one shopping cart and then one eats purple chalk.
Seeing that free play time is clearly over we decide to try a group activity of duck-duck goose. That worked really well for three of the four kiddo's. One little doll just wanted to hammer the pegs hard on the antique toy. So the rest of us sat on the floor. Each time a child would walk around the circle bopping each person on the head saying, "...duck ....duck .....GOOOSE"! Then everyone would shriek shrill squeels and they would ALL jump up and run around the house finding every little narrow places to squeeze thorough and come back to the place they began declaring, "I win!" This was repeated many times and they seemed just as pleased with themselves each time as they had been the time before.
I fix snacks. Don't be impressed. They were fruit snacks with little nutritional value but a full days supply of vitamin C and some fruit shakes. To save the white t-shirts this Grandma decides to remove the girls shirts until the blueberry smoothie is finished.
We read the books I made them. Each simple book tells how Grandpa and I were excited for them to be born, what a miracle each one is and how much we love them. The one year old and the two year old pretend to read out loud with jabbering toddler words while nodding their heads and pointing at their pictures.
At first, playing with clay wasn't too exciting. After dividing the colors evenly, we rustle through kitchen drawers to find tools to work with. Pizza rollers, straws, little bottles, child size silverware and screwdrivers made it more interesting. They make balls and long rope like things and smoosh the clay flat and cut out shapes. We sit and talk about colors and what kind of things they like to do in life.
For over thirty minutes it is mostly quiet. Every child just sitting content and creating things. I love seeing their little hands and minds work. The expressions on their faces are priceless. Oh how I believe that the Creator of the Universe gives creative ability to everyone, but that too often we don't take the opportunity to sit quiet and develop those God-gifts.
With butcher paper found at a thrift store we cut lengths of paper to trace their body outlines. They loved seeing how tall they were and sat on their papers and signed their names and we talk about how amazing God made each one of them. This grandma wanted to keep their little body pictures in the 'grand-kid room' but they insisted their parents needed to admire them. Rolling them up made instant weapons which I convince them would have to be telescopes.
We play worship music and we all sing and some sway and lift their hands. Oh be still my heart! The favorite song of the day however was "monkeys jumping on the bed." It has to be sung loud and over and over. We changed it to "...four little monkeys jumping on the bed, ....one falls off and bonks his head (We all do the action of bonking our heads with our hands because the smallest one loved to do it.) Then I'd ask, "Which little monkey falls of the bed this time?" They'd scream a name and we'd go on singing, "...three little monkeys jumping on the bed..." Before the game was finished there really was one little monkey who fell and bonked his head.
A simple lunch with cheese puffs being their favorite things and the smallest one gets heavy eye lids and the wheels began to fall off the proverbial Grandma Camp bus from there.
|Dancing and singing to worship songs.|
|More fun than duck-duck-goose.|
|Love your brown eyes!|
|She has all the clay is tiny pieces in her shirt.|
|The boys are now looking to hunt deer in the yard.|
|I wanted to do a bento box food idea. Well ya.... about that.....|
The time went fast and then the little people were to be delivered home for naps. As I strap each one into their car seats one angel fills her diaper and the car with an aroma so strong that the issue cannot be ignored.
Diaper bags, paper body outlines, bags of goodies, cups with juice, and blankies loaded, I leave the three grand-kids strapped in their car seats while I run back in to change the smelly angel. She is rolling off the couch complicating the project. There are not enough baby wipes to contain the matter. I'm trying to hold her feet and the whole mess escalates when our fourteen year old labrador somehow comes running through the house. She is old and a little nervous and losing control of some of her body functions. So as she is running to the back door she is leaving large plopping piles.
This has become quite the situation.
I'm chasing the dog and the now diaper-less angel face through the house trying to tame the moment. It was a lot of poop for one pooped grandma at the end of Grandma Camp.
At this very moment (you can't make this stuff up) the oldest grandson comes running back into the house yelling, "Nana! NANA! NANA! CJ has a play knife and IT'S NOT A GOOD THING!"
When this boy says "it's not a good thing" you can trust his word.
Can we just say it is now complete chaos and the house is utterly trashed. There is a child crying in the car, a child running without a diaper and this grandma with only three hours sleep thinks that four hours with four angels who range in age from four down, was enough for the first annual Grandma Camp.
Was it a re-do?
It was a crazy, messy, funny, exhausting, wonderful time. Isn't that how life is? And I'm glad that I didn't wait for the perfect moment or a better plan. It truly is an honor and a privilege to be part of their lives.
One additional thought.
I think the next "Grandma Camp" will be renamed,
"Grandpa and Grandma Camp."
♥ We welcomed our newest grandson to the family on Friday.