I was gonna send roses to all you moms or children of moms. But, alas, this little video holds up better over the long haul. 
Mavis never gave birth to children of her own, but it's clear she understands the strength of the bond between a parent and a child. I hope her song warms you, inspires you and thanks you for all you do and have done to raise a child, anyone's child. 


 
 
One of unexpected benefits of grandparenthood is the chance one gets to play with toys. Big toys, little toys, girls toys, boys toys, it doesn't matter.
I guess we didn't have many toys when we were growing up, or at least, not enough. Today, my husband and I never miss a chance to poke around toy shops or try out toys we stumble upon at garage sales, under the pretense of stocking our home toy box (for the grandkids,of course!). In fact, the two of us can spend whole evenings comparing notes on toys that meant something to us, how we got them and what we did with them when we were too old to get away with playing with them. Hint: Some are in our attic.   
So, it was a given that while in Colmar France, we would visit La Musée du Jouet, the city’s delightful toy museum.
And, what a treasure we found: Our two childhoods cleaned up and captured behind glass for all to enjoy!
If you are thinking of going there, be forewarned, this is not a toy museum for children. It’s obviously designed for adults -- grandparents, actually – since most of the toys are 40-50 years old and counting.

As you enter this three-story dreamworld, you will be greeted by mechanical horses and a carriage right out of a fairy tale!   
You'll find baby dolls galore. ( I've mentioned before that, as a child, my favorite baby doll wore a bridal outfit. I kept her in a cradle and had no problem with any of that.) And, you'll find tea sets, little sewing machines and doll clothes. 
Plus bikes, trikes and toy horses, both rocking and stationary. 
They have a separate room of little cars, boats, planes and board games, plus tea sets, miniature sewing machines, kitchen sets, a Punch and Judy show and roomful of collectible dolls from the 1940s to 1960s. 
When I was a kid, my favorite was a Ginny doll that looked and dressed like a kid my age. I never owned a Barbie doll and, frankly, would never give one to a granddaughter today. BUT, the Colmar collection shows that the Barbies of yesterday were much more interesting than the tarted-up ones kids play with now. In fact, Barbie reflected the fashions and visions of women of her day. Look at this incredible display of historical Barbies and you may find representations of Jacqueline Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and even Josephine Baker! 
Big,mechanical, metal sculptures were not part of my childhood, but I loved this one. 
As you might expect, there are puppet show and a fabulous train exhibit, plus a floor full of all kinds of trains moving through Alsatian landscapes, including one that travels through a miniature Colmar. You'll see them in the video, below.  


For more information on this cheery trip back to childhood, go here.


 
 
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Obviously, American grandmothers could learn a thing or two from their Russian counterparts – often called babushkas – who grew up “when rules were rules and babushkas enforced them.”
Ah, ladies! We’re in awe of both your chutzpah and your biceps. And, to think you are not only tolerated but rewarded for being aging know-it-alls! 
Go to http://wapo.st/uPHS3B for a delightful story about Russia’s annual search for the best-of-the-best grandmothers in the land.  Pick up the coveted title at your local senior center and you may travel to Moscow to compete as finalist in the Super Babushka competition. 
According to the accompanying photos, Super B herself is feted with ribbons and pins, an armful of borax and floor polish, and denture cleaner for life. As titleholder, her name is added to the list of great old ladies of yesteryear, the ones who could quiet a screaming child, whip up a borscht dinner for eight and replace brakes on the family GAZ, all at the same time, leaving nary a drop of sweat on their colorful headscarves.  
No shrinking violets here. Beauty queens need not apply. Candidates for this award  learned their skills at the feet of their own babushkas and from all who came before. Likewise, their own recipes, remedies, shortcuts and  catalog of life’s lessons will pass down as legacy to today’s and tomorrow’s Russian mamas. 
I wonder how many US grandmothers of a certain age would want this title? 
As a grandmother and mother-in-law, I find the urge to boss – I mean, share my acquired wisdom (much of it acquired the old fashioned way, through horrible mistakes and wrong-headedness) – is strong, but not strong enough to start a war with grown children gingerly maneuvering the minefields of parenthood. Instead, I try to spread my "suggestions" and "insights" through feature stories and blog posts. 
It seems a shame to let all this knowledge go to waste, doesn't it? Besides, it's always easier to accept advice from someone you don't know, for some odd reason.  
How do you rein in your underlying babushka tendencies to be the grandmother you want to be or wish you had? 

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Oldest grandson teaches Nana to paint.

 
 
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My grandchildren just might grow up thinking people don’t kayak or ride motorcycles until they are very, very old.

Right?

My grandmothers were age 54 and 65 when I was born. As far as I know, neither one ever drove a car, took a trip that didn’t involve visiting family, or chose to exert herself to stay fit. She didn’t need to, work took care of that.

My grandfathers drove, but I never really knew them. One died before I was born and the other was someone I heard more about than ever got to know first hand.

Whether I knew them or not, I am confident my grandparents never traveled to another country, learned a second language, kayaked, swam for the fun of it, ran in a charity race, took dance lessons, wrote a book, or even took photos of their grandchildren. I don't think I ever saw my grandmother taking a photograph. She probably didn't own a camera. Her life revolved around work (until age 78!), family, church and doctoring, until she was so debilitated she ended up in a nursing home.   

If you’re old enough to have grandchildren, what do you do that you’re sure your grandmother or grandfather never had a chance to do? 

Nana and Grandpa kayak at Adams Reservoir, Woodford, Vermont, 08/07/10