Friday, December 18, 2015

Grand Parenting - The Grandparent Boot-Camp part-II

Here comes Santa (err Grandpa)...
   As the holidays are upon us this can be a most difficult time for Grandparents.  Living on fixed income, budgetary constraints, rising expenses, and expectation that the Christmas or Holiday gift giving is going to be immense can really stress this Grandpa out!  End of year taxes (Thanks Obama), Obamacare Skyrocketing costs, property taxes, and income taxes can really pack a one-two punch in your gut.  So what to do?  You have Grand Children you want to spoil.  The children make Holidays a magical time of year.  Their glowing faces, sparkle in their eyes, excitement building...then the gift giving culminates in a fury of shredded wrapping paper and happy faces.  This is not all what Christmas is about though. Love for fellow man and woman, neighbors, your peeps, good health and good cheer.  Peace on Earth.  All this is such an abstract concept with all the trouble going on in the world.  As a Grandparent it is my job to bring sparkle to the holiday season, stitch love together like a patch-work quilt, and make the Grand Kids feel warm and loved.  A tall order for the untrained Grandpa or "Crampa" as my 6 year old grandson calls me. What's a Santa wanna-be to do?  Here are some ideas that you can use to bring that sparkle into the Holiday season and not empty your wallet.

Be creative - Be resourceful
When stuff breaks like old toys, old appliances, broken stuff in general take the stuff apart. Save the parts.  Get some small empty boxes and save the plastics, the metals, the flat pieces, the rubber pieces.  Save the screws, clips, metal rods, rollers, wires, bulbs, etc.  If it looks like it can be used again to create or repair save some of it.  I have several boxes of "Stuff".  I use this stuff to create toys for my Grand kids out of nothing.  I also use this stuff to fix toys that break in the normal action of wear and tear with my Grand kids.

Come up with ideas to capture imagination
Some of my best creations have come from recollection of toys I played with as a child.  Toys of today are marvels of artificial intelligence that interact with computer chipped sounds, flashing lights, and very little else.  Being bright and flashy they attract attention for a short time but then their appeal subsides and then become the next items to dissect for parts. What I have found is that my now 6 year old Grandson gets immense enjoyment from concepts I create that invoke his imagination, his motor skills, and challenge his senses.

The Airport Creation - "Glide Slope"
I created a concept he calls the "Airport".  I call it "Glide Slope".  It consists of 4 large pieces.  He plays with the air field part in the house on bad weather days.  I spent about $10.00 USD on it.  Hobby store black foam panel 3' x 4' makes the basis for the air-field.  I purchased a small set of  battery powered blue lights to line the airfield with taxi way lighting.  The second part is the 6 foot runway made of sheets of black dense card-board with strips of cloth holding at the seems.  This is where his airplanes land then taxi onto the airfield.  I painted runway lights with glow in the dark paint.  I created a decal for the runway personalized for him with his name.  Third are the planes.  Basic model planes are best especially the snap together kind.  Quick assembly is key.  The kid is going to crash them up anyway.  Finally, the action.  The magic.  Fishing line and fishing tackle pieces create the magic.  Along with the Cockpit, the fishing line allows the planes to fly through the air under his control and land on the runway.  The cockpit lights up, has a working electronic automobile compass, a game console joystick, and a spinning radar dish.  Aside from the auto-compass all parts were acquired from stuff.  Wires, motors, lights, a plastic clear dome, screws, clips, metal brackets, and paint.  My Grandson asks to play with this toy at least 3 times a month.  He loves it.

For my next concept - "Spin-Art"

I remember a toy I had as a kid called Spin-Art.  It spun paper while you poured paint on it creating artwork.  I am making spin-art as a family gift this holiday season.  It will bring us all together to play and create so even the little guy can play.  I did purchase some parts as clearance items together with the batteries cost me under $12.00 USD.

"Letters from Santa"
Last Holiday Season I sent my Grandson a letter from Santa.  I single page letter on nice paper with Santa' likeness on it.  Whimsical, a little sarcastic, a smidgen of risque innuendo to keep Mom interested while she orates to junior and presto - Instant magic for the holidays.  It was a big hit last year.  St. Nick will be sending out the 2nd edition soon.

"The Set-Train"
This one toy I had a great amount of enjoyment creating and still enjoy watching Grandson and now his little sister playing with it.  It is a train set made of wooden trains, wooden track, set up permanently on a solid wood platform.  Grandson loves it.  It is indestructible.  He can stand on it, walk across it, slam on it and it is still going strong.  I found a 4' x 5' wood platform at my job sort of like a pallet.  I placed the wood track on the platform rearranging until I could get the most elaborate track array on the 4x5 space.  I permanently mounted the track then custom painted the platform for play.  I mounted some fine wood trim around the edges, sanded down sharp corners, and attached plastic utility handles to make carrying the "Set-Train" easy.  All kinds of trains are sold for the wooden track sets including motorized and remote controlled units.

As you can see with a little imagination you can play Santa Clause, build in your own Santa's Workshop, and create magic for the little ones without breaking open the piggy bank for your last dime, eating hot-dogs until July to pay help pay off  holiday shopping charges.

Take care my friends - Merry Christmas - Happy Holidays - May you have a blessed, happy, and healthy new year.

Scott R. Mayorga  A.A.S., BS MT (ASCP)H CLS

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