Saturday, 31 August 2013

Grandparenting at a Distance

I would like to introduce you to Barbara Burkard my dear friend and guest blogger on The Adventures of Grandpa and Grandma Snyder.

 Never Far From Our Hearts

The day Mina was born her father had his first interview with Apple Computers. She was four months old when she and her Mom joined her Dad in California. I was very disappointed, but this was my son-in-law's dream job, so what could I do but wish them well?
Four Generations
We've tried to keep a pattern of visits four times a year. I've gone to California twice and Trina and Mina have come to Ontario twice. (Gary usually makes only the Christmas trip. This year, as Trina was nearly eight months pregnant she did not come in June.) Honestly, the visits to California are the best as I get a lot of Mina-time. When the family comes to Ontario they have a full schedule of visits to family and friends, so I get less time with my best girl.

Thus much of my relationship with Mina has been online. I thank God for the wonderful technologies that are available to us now! It is still astounding to me that I can see and talk to my kids in real time even when they are 4,000 km away. And, using FaceTime or Skype, it doesn't cost me anything beyond my computer and internet connection. We have had marathon sessions, like the time I 'babysat' Mina for three hours while her parents assembled an Ikea bed. Of course, they were within earshot the whole time and available to intervene when necessary, nonetheless, talking to Gramma helped to keep Mina out from under foot.  

From about age 18 months to 3 years Mina often did not want to talk to Gramma on the computer. She would initially cry and run away and hide, though she'd come later to talk.That was quite hard for me, but, thankfully, it didn't last.

While the distance thing is a little hard to understand when you are little, Mina has now learned that "Gramma is too far away," to really play the way we'd like to. But that never hurt imagination! We still play games like "Captain Hook Gramma" wherein Mina sets a toy in front of the iPad and pretends that Captain Hook Gramma won't let her have it. Now, at nearly four, she very often has our games all scripted out, so I just have to follow her lead. 

With the ease of taking "home movies" these days (especially when one works for Apple) I get frequent videos of Mina's activities. This has really helped me feel connected. I've been able to watch her grow. Earlier this year Trina sent me a recording of her baby's heart beat (picture only, audio file not attached).

Another way to nurture our relationship lately has been to send "Mina mail." Mina loves to get her own mail, so I try to send something every once in a while, a Canada Day keychain, doll clothes I made, a card. The postage is, I think, a small price to pay to help keep a connection healthy.

I envy people that have grandchildren nearby. But I have no intention of letting this important relationship suffer because of the miles between us. I do hope that the family will return to Ontario someday, in the meantime I will use every means available to maintain a close relationship to Mina and her new brother, Volker.
My grandkids

Friday, 30 August 2013

Brockton's Busker Festival

Brockton's Busker Festival in Walkerton

August and September provide families with a vast array of inexpensive, family oriented, community activities.  Activities that support the development of assets in our children, the building blocks that our children need to be successful community minded adults.  Specifically going to community fairs and festivals teaches our children about the:

“Constructive use of time through out-of-home and community programs”
“Social competencies as they develop cultural awareness”

On August 17, 2013 Walkerton Ontario held just such a full filled day – the Annual Busker Festival.  This event happens the third Saturday of August and will occur again on August 16th, 2014.

Walkerton closes down the main street and turns it into three blocks of nonstop fun for children and adults alike.  The admission is $3.00 per child and for this fee the children are given a plastic arm band that then gets them into and on all of the venues.   
This makes Busker Fest one of the most economical festivals that I have been to this year.

Too often fall fairs and festivals will advertise that admission is free and then host a pay per ride midway. 

 This means that while portions of the events are open to all socioeconomic levels the “fun” part, the part that children are drawn too is beyond what poverty and working class families can afford.  With the result that too often parents and/or grandparents spend money that has been allocated for housing, bills and food.
At Brockton’s Busker Festival for $3.00 every child had equal opportunity to have:


Cotton candy

Their face painted

 Large balloon sculpture


Play on all the rides


Take part in all the games

As Grandparents and Parents it is important that we support local fairs and festivals that provide equal opportunity for children regardless of their parent’s ability to pay for expensive rides and games.

As a society we need to ensure that poverty and low income does not keep community children from participating in the life of the community.

In Ontario CA low income is defined as an individual income of $30,000 or less, or a family income of $78,000 or less.

Poverty is defined as an individual income of $ $18,669.00 or less and a family income of $27,562 or less.   

All individuals living on Ontario Disabilities, Ontario Works, and Old Age Pension have an annual individual income of less than $18,669.00 and a family income of less than $27,562, by government design. 

All of these stats mean that events like the Brockton’s Busker Festival are important to the children and families who struggle daily with the reality of low income and poverty.  If you want to read more on how Ontario Canada is doing on the issue of poverty visit this site We are Ontario / Falling Behind a PDF document.

As Grandparents Paul and I had a great time at the Brockton’s Busker Festival and we hope to see you at the 2014 event with your Grandchildren.

Grandma Snyder

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Back to School

 Where Do Grandparents Fit Into Back-To-School

We are quickly approaching the last day of summer vacation for school children in Ontario Canada, September 3rd is the agreed upon date.  Growing up my US cousins always were in school at least two weeks before me.  So  to answer this question I Googled it and found that every school district in the USA sets their own return to school date and the earliest I found was August 18th.
On the drive home from work today we were discussing back to school traditions and Paula wondered if I was going blog about this.  Well in my experience back-to-school activities were exclusively for parents and their children: Grandparents not invited.  This may have something to do with my tendency to say yes to too many unnecessary items.  I found out that one of my friends she helps out her single parent son with back-to-school through purchasing the school cloths, while in another family the backpack and lunch kit are purchased by Grandparents.
Shopping for school when our children attended is nothing like today.  Then the supplies were limited to a backpack, lunch bag, crayons/pencil crayon, and a ruler, everything else was supplied by the school.  Today the list includes all of those items plus, pencils, pens, Kleenex, note book, art paper, binders, lined paper, USB sticks, in door and out door shoes and more.  Lunches are also more complicated no longer can you send any foods that contain peanuts: my boys lived on peanut butter sandwiches, cookies and snack bars.

 A Possible Back to School Tradition

One type of story that Grandchildren can never get enough of is what school was like in the olden times, you know when dinosaurs walked the earth.   

 When they ask this question which they do, I pull out the old gem that my Grandpa John would tell me, “I had to walk 5 miles to school up hill both ways”.  It took me a long time to figure out that was not possible – the uphill both ways part. Grandpa went to school in Russia and I have no idea how far he walked.

So I guess there is a back to school tradition we could start – telling them stories about our experiences as children.  Do you remember your favourite teacher in public school?  What made her the best teacher ever?  What subject did you like? Which one did you not like?  What funny events happened?  Share these with your children.

 Grandpa showed the girls a honey pail that was just like the one that he took his lunches to school in.  How he took raw potatoes to school in the winter and how they would put them on the school boiler when they arrived at school and have baked potatoes for lunch.

Grandma Snyder

Envelope Junk Journal make in a day

Here is the junk journal I made last night it will travel to Saskatchewan. Here is the you tube link that I used to make the journa...