Schroeder's View

Monday, July 23, 2007

Frugal fun, grandma style

Raising kids can sometimes get very expensive...especially these days. I couldn't imagine supporting a large family again. Trying to find some way of entertaining the girls when they were younger was a challenge because we didn't have the funds to take elaborate vacations. A trip to Grandma and Grandpa Woltman's was about the extent of our vacations. And they lived in Cherokee and at some point moved to Alta!

As grandparents we try to show our grandchildren a good time. We do our best to spoil them, but being the frugal ones we do it without spending a lot of money. It takes a bit of imagination at times, but we have come to the conclusion that at this point in their lives, they are happy just to spend time with us and haven't figured out that we would do almost anything for them and buy them almost anything (within reason) that they may think that they need.

We have found that a simple picnic in the park with Grandma Trudy's special peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cheese curls is enough to get the "I love you" that melts your heart. We spent three hours chasing each other, swinging, spinning each other on the merry-go-round, walking the trails and searching for the ducks. Don't forget the ice cream. I'm not sure at the end of our excursion who was more tired, the kids or us?

Following the heavy rains that we had this spring, our basement suffered major water damage. We tore carpet out and had to replace a wall in the toy room. Yes, this G-ma and G-pa have a special room in the basement for kids of all ages. After the wall was textured and primed, we decided to invite the granddaughters over and let them paint on the wall, without getting in trouble. It was priceless. We have tiny handprints, a large blob, and a few brush strokes here and there, but I would not have traded a moment of the time it took to create that masterpiece for anything.

Following our Picasso moments we carried them to the back yard and took out the hose to spray them off. How much fun to just get the hose out and watch them run around and taunt us just to have us spray them down.

I did spend a whole $6 on a Slip-n-Slide though. Now that was the best $6 that I have spent in a long time. They ran and slid down that slide over and over, even the 1 year old had to try it. We sat and watched them laugh and giggle for about an hour. I didn't even mind the puddles of mud at the end of the slide or the dead grass underneath when we picked it up. Even the dirty towels that I had to wash were ok. It was the joy that we felt having those little tots spending time with us and actually having fun.

Children grow up so quickly and it doesn't take them long to understand what money is and that if they ask they usually get it. So if you take the time to explore your surroundings and use a little imagination early on, perhaps they too can learn how to enjoy some quality time without having to empty pockets.

* Trudy Schroeder is a Pilot alum who writes a weekly column on family matters. Reach her at tjschroeder@iw.net