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Front Porch: Annual visit means play time for kids and grandparents

I caught him eyeing the Halloween gingerbread house kits at Costco.

“I wish I could pack this to build with the grandkids in Ohio,” he said. “But it’s too big.”

My husband is a kid at heart. He adored building gingerbread houses with our sons at Christmas, and when spooky Halloween houses came out, Derek and our younger sons were on it.

He reluctantly returned the kit to the stack.

“Maybe I should buy one for myself when we get home,” he said.

More on that later.

We recently returned from our annual October Ohio trip visit to our son, Alex, and his family. The twins will be 4 years old in a few weeks, and they kept us busy!

A visit to the park near our Airbnb is always on the list, but now Adam swings on the big kid swings without any help from us. Nick isn’t quite there yet, so when he hollered, “Push me Adam!” his brother obliged.

Their parents had already taken them to the Spirit Halloween store and said they loved being scared by the horrifying animatronics, so we took them again. While there, we bought them toy laser blasters, a purchase we quickly questioned when we returned to the car and both boys kept their fingers on the triggers all the way home.

We went alien hunting in the backyard, and they fired their blasters at the sky, yelling, “Alien! Alien!”

“Oh, those are scary aliens!” I said.

Nick looked at me.

“They’re not REAL, Nana,” he explained. “They’re just ’tend (pretend)!”

One rainy afternoon, we took them to see “Paw Patrol the Mighty Movie.” For those without preschoolers in their lives, “Paw Patrol” is an animated TV series about six rescue pups who respond to calls when their neighbors need help.

I’d purchased Paw Patrol snack kits for lunch which included bone-shaped cookies.

When we got back to our place, Adam promptly took his outside and dropped to the ground in full puppy pose, his “bone” between his teeth.

Derek and I miss taking kids to Green Bluff to pick pumpkins, so when Alex suggested we take the twins to a local farm, we jumped at the chance.

The boys chose pumpkins to carve with Mom, Dad and Farrah, and picked two little pumpkins, which traveled back and forth between our house and theirs for the rest of the visit.

And that Halloween gingerbread kit Derek longed for?

Our grandkids’ mom was way ahead of us. Brooke bought two! One for us to do with the twins, and one to make when big sister Farrah spent the night.

Derek was in his element. Using the provided frosting, he glued the houses together, adding scalloped edges along the roof and doling out the candy bats and bones for the kids to decorate their masterpieces. As much candy went into their mouths as went onto the gingerbread creations.

That’s the best part of grandparenting. You get to revisit all the things you loved to do with your children when they were little, and then you can send the sugared-up kids home to their parents.

What to save

In a previous column, I asked readers to share what nonessential items they’d take with them if they had to evacuate their homes.

Beverly Gibb had two Level 2 evacuation notices this summer (Thorpe Road and West Sunset).

“I didn’t even think of the special things to take,” she said. But now I’d grab my 1944 edition of ‘Winnie the Pooh.’ It was given to Mom by her sister on Mom’s 16th birthday!”

Joan Williams lives in Chattaroy and at one time the Oregon Road fire was just a few miles away. When she thought about the possibility of never returning to her home, she packed several irreplaceable items including her grandma’s mixing bowls, a recipe box with handwritten recipes from her mom, her mom’s aluminum measuring spoons/cups circa 1946, the year her parents married and her mom’s cookbooks with handwritten notes in the margin.

Williams, 70, added her Lassie school lunchbox and her rolling pin and Granite Ware coffee pot collections.

She also set aside her great-aunt’s flour sifter.

“She gave it to me she was in her 90s. She’d attached a note saying that she’d bought it in February 1923 at the Holley-Mason building in downtown Spokane,” Williams said. “I so value the old things that were passed on to me. Every time I get those things out to do some baking, I remember those people who were so special to me.”

Cindy Hval can be reached at dchval@juno.com. Hval is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation” (Casemate Publishers, 2015) available at Auntie’s Bookstore and bookstores nationwide.

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