What’s a Grandma to do?

When hugs are forbidden?

Stores are closed?

And she’s told “elders” like her must stay home?

Preparing Care Package #1

Preparing Care Package #1

She asks her friends on Facebook, of course.

“What can I do to stay connected when all I have are things around the house?” I asked.

You wouldn’t believe how many GREAT ideas other people had.

The most basic was to create a Sunshine Box.

Using my Grandma Stash in the library, intended for a

family vacation Spring Break in Orlando which, of course, we gave up due to Coronavirus,

I found the one new item I had in the house: a box of supplies for craft projects.

Then, to start Box #1 for little Lydia, I went through the multi-color construction paper pile

and found every single purple one.

Her favorite color.

In addition to the paper and the craft box, I found seven other items

I knew would delight Lydia’s heart.

She loves necklaces, bracelets, and all jewelry.

I found more of those items than I knew I had.

I also scrounged up little bags to make storage of the treasures as much fun as flaunting them.

 I imagine Lydia traipsing through the house,

bejeweled and bedazzled

by her own spectacle.

What about the other grandchildren, the older ones, 7 and almost-9, who live in New Jersey?

Where to look to find something for them in Sunshine Box 2?

Back to my Facebook friend suggestions, where I found a delicious two-for-the-price-of-one idea.

A rubber band ball!

First, you must know that I try to save and re-use any item of potential worth,

even when I don’t know what that worth is.

Those rubber bands on celery stalks, or the Sunday Washington Post, for example.

Did I throw them away for the last nine years?

Of course not!

That’s how the “junk drawer” came to be the junk drawer. All those rubber bands

snaking around with the old batteries, matches, and corn on the cob pricks.

The junk drawer before quarantine.

The junk drawer before quarantine. A decade-worth of lazy accumulation.

Off to the internet to learn what to do with those rubber bands:

Not only did I make a rubber ball while watching a good Netflix series.

but the junk drawer has been transformed!

No longer junk! Now it's the kitchen office drawer.

No longer junk! Now it’s the kitchen office drawer. Even the pencils are sharpened.

And take a look at this!

The 3-inch rubber ball before it goes into the Care Package.

The 3-inch rubber ball before it goes into the Care Package.

I hope they find this 1960’s hit on the Chromebook

they are using for their distance learning classes.


I only scratched the surface of all the good grandkid ideas out there. What can you add?

Also: Do you have a junk drawer?

Are you “tidying up?”

Shirley Showalter


  1. Marlena Fiol on March 25, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Shirley, I LOVE your junk drawer projects!!!

    I have been writing poetry with my nine-year old via FaceTime. No. Neither of us is a poet. But we had a good time rhyming, making up new words and breaking the rules.

    It has seldom been this easy to engage and connect.

    For this I am deeply grateful.

    • Shirley Showalter on March 25, 2020 at 1:05 pm

      Interesting, Marlena. Do you use FaceTime to read your poems to each other after you write them, or do you rhyme together in real time. Here’s a Leonard Cohen rhyme scheme both playful and profound to share with your grand:

      Now, I’ve heard there was a secret chord
      That David played, and it pleased the Lord
      But you don’t really care for music, do you?
      It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
      The minor fall, the major lift
      The baffled king composing Hallelujah
      Your faith was strong but you needed proof
      You saw her bathing on the roof
      Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
      She tied you to a kitchen chair
      She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
      And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
      You say I took the name in vain
      I don’t even know the name
      But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
      There’s a blaze of light in every word
      It doesn’t matter which you heard
      The holy or the broken Hallelujah…

      Source: LyricFind

      • Marlena Fiol on March 25, 2020 at 1:16 pm

        Shirley, my grandson Elian have been rhyming together in real time. But I will read this to him:-)!

        • Shirley Showalter on March 25, 2020 at 1:26 pm


  2. Marian Beaman on March 25, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    Shirley, I remember you casting a net on Facebook last week to find ideas for the care boxes. And like a good grandma and writer, you have gathered these nuggets all together, just like the bird making a nest under our bush by the lake.

    Marie Kondo would be pleased with all the junk drawers being organized these days. Yes, I have cleaned up spaces in the bathroom and bedroom. Why not?

    Good Netflix series you are watching? Open to suggestions.

    I’m with Lydia on the color purple. I know you feel fulfilled doing this project, but I see the longing in your eyes.
    As Grandma Longenecker often said, “This too shall pass.”

    • Shirley Showalter on March 25, 2020 at 1:09 pm

      Yes, I am trying to make little nests. There is only a short time that Grandma’s junk can be a source of fun. Gotta take advantage of that stage while I have it.

      Netflix. Yes. Watch Self Made: the Story of Madame C. J. Walker.
      Also Amazon Prime: Sweet Land, the Ken Burns series on the National Parks.

      Yes, this too shall pass. Let us do all we can to hasten the day. For us, that means staying at home!

      • Marian Beaman on March 25, 2020 at 9:18 pm

        Thanks for the tips. We are enjoying a Julian Fellowes miniseries on Netflix, The English Game, a mix of football and love story.

        • Shirley Showalter on March 26, 2020 at 7:06 am

          Oo. Thanks. Julian Fellowes miniseries sounds perfect right now!

  3. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on March 25, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    One of my granddaughters already asked about the “treasure box” I mentioned in one of my earlier blog posts, and you have inspired me to begin filling those boxes, one for each of my grandchildren. This is a good time to do it!

    • Shirley Showalter on March 25, 2020 at 1:13 pm

      Oh good, Elfrieda. Your grandchildren will love whatever you find, especially when you send them notes explaining what you picked just for them and why. I tried to draw a picture of Owen and Julia that they will remember from the mug they gave me on Mother’s Day a few years ago. The results are quite funny.

  4. Laurie Buchanan on March 25, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    Shirley — Oh, my gosh. This post is loaded with BRILLIANT ideas that I’m going to incorporate. And though we don’t live a great distance from our granddaughter, we’re still practicing “social distancing” so this post is filled with fun, Fun, FUN ideas. Thank you!

    • Shirley Showalter on March 25, 2020 at 1:14 pm

      Ha, Laurie. You are already a minimalist. I can’t imagine you have a junk drawer! I am sure you are missing dear little Luna. I know whatever you make for her she will treasure. She misses you too!

      • Laurie Buchanan on March 25, 2020 at 1:42 pm

        Shirley — You’re right that I don’t have a junk drawer, but I have bits and bobs of jewelry, fun construction-type paper, glue/glitter, and little things that will make Luna feel “bejeweled and bedazzled” like Lydia.

        • Shirley Showalter on March 25, 2020 at 1:46 pm

          Lovely! I am sure she will strut in style soon!

  5. Tina Barbour on March 25, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Your grandchildren will love these boxes with their sunshiny treasures! 🙂 I have more than one junk drawer, and several I need to clean out. I also need to go through boxes of things in our basement, many which I haven’t opened since Larry and I got married 16 and a half years ago. What will I find? I hope a few fun treasures.

    • Shirley Showalter on March 25, 2020 at 1:28 pm

      Go for it, Tina. I think Spring Cleaning is just the right energy to reduce anxiety in such a time as this.

      And there are treasures in those there drawers, I am sure of it.

      Come back and tell us about the best one. 🙂

  6. Betty Schrag on March 25, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    I love this, Shirley! I’m getting ready to send a box to my granddaughter, too. So fun and inexpensive since I can’t go buy anything “non-essential.” My goal is to get my junk drawer looking like yours! BTW, you are wearing my slippers . . so comfy and warm!! A friend of mine in Texas said people in their neighborhood are putting stuffed teddy bears in their windows so parents can take the kids on a “bear hunt!” Such a great idea. Some teachers are chalking messages to their students on the sidewalks. Creativity and humor is springing forth in the midst change, disappointment, and pain.

    • Shirley Showalter on March 25, 2020 at 2:49 pm

      Yes, Betty, my silk jammies and plush robe and sheepskin slippers are so comfortable and good for body and soul. I have to force myself to get out of them in a decent hour so as not to get totally beyond the reach of civilization. It also feels good to bathe and put on fresh clothes. , , eventually. 🙂

      I think I saw a Bear Hunt in Goshen. On Hannah Heinzekehr’s walk with her family. Seventh street??

      Yes to all the creative ways to stay home and stay together!

  7. June on March 25, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    May your grand daughter enjoy her treasures that she receives from her Grandmother. You could write her own personal children’s book, and call it “A visit to Grandma’s house.’ You could put in pictures of the things you would do together, you could include pictures of previous Granddaughter and Grandma time together. What am I tidying up? I am laid up, I was moving something on my own, and it fell upon my foot, and now I am sporting an Airocast and a broken foot. I have been working on four memory quilts, lap size, to be made from a friend’s wife that passed away. So while I have been convalescing I have been working on cutting apart the clothing for these projects. I can’t stand for too long of a period of time yet. So now I shall pause, and press into God, call upon His name. I was reminded in my devotional this morning to pray for God’s people. God is sovereign, God is still in control, God is still on His throne.

    • Shirley Showalter on March 25, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      June, I love A Visit to Grandma’s House book. I did a rhyming story called The Bear in There a few years ago. Time to write volume two in that series. 🙂

      So sorry to hear you are laid up! I like your phrase “press into God.” Yes to praying for God’s people and to letting go of our own desire to control.

      Peace like a river to you.

  8. Linda Gartz on March 25, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    So clever and loving and a bonus for you too1

    • Shirley Showalter on March 25, 2020 at 4:30 pm

      Thank you, Linda. Hope you get a bonus today too!

  9. Norah Johnson Wolthuis on March 25, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    I have no grandchildren, but a much loved 8 year old neighbor. He has a pack I’d 2nd grade homework and a mother whose patience runs out rather quickly. I probably shouldn’t have, but let him come over today for 3 pages of homework and lunch. Same schedule for days to come. Ten thirty till 12:30, reading and math tomorrow and lunch. Lots of hand sanitizer and no hugs and kisses. He needs it a lot, and I guess I’m willing to take my chances.

  10. Shirley Showalter on March 25, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    I’ve heard of this Marco Polo app , Melodie, but we haven’t used it. I discovered that there is a saturation point on how many online apps and classes and communications people can tolerate. Even kids! Your snail mail packages sound like they are just what both sides of your family age “sandwich” need.

    You really have a lot to carry right now, and I am sure one of the hardest aspects of the struggle is that you can’t be there in person.


    • Shirley Showalter on March 25, 2020 at 7:44 pm

      I’ve heard of this Marco Polo app , Melodie, but we haven’t used it. I discovered that there is a saturation point on how many online apps and classes and communications people can tolerate. Even kids! Your snail mail packages sound like they are just what both sides of your family age “sandwich” need.

      You really have a lot to carry right now, and I am sure one of the hardest aspects of the struggle is that you can’t be there in person.


  11. susan scott on March 26, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Delightful when I read it yesterday and delightful again re-reading it this time round Shirley with all the lovely comments. I’m going to send your post to my sister, whose two grandchildren recently left Cape Town (where my sister lives) with her daughter for London. She is very creative and could make a lovely Grandma’s Box for her grandsons.

    Gorgeous photo of you! Such a lovely post thank you. I’m not yet blessed with grandchildren yet I am inspired at all these lovely ideas. I will show my husband your drawer and the making of rubber balls. Maybe we can flick them at each other, as a way of improving our aim? The grandies could do this, not necessarily at their partner but at an object – to get the eye in, as an exercise 🙂

    I wish I could advise on Netflix series – we are currently watching Narcos. Only on ep 2 of 1st season. We have good choices. I’m hoping to find Wolf Hall which I watched some years ago. It was very good, excellent acting, Cromwell in the time of King Henry V111. About 6 episodes. Based on Hillary Mantel’s first book of the trilogy, the last one just released.

    Thanks for the suggestions, and thanks Marian too. Have made a note.

    Be well, stay safe, take care and wash your hands. Troubling times indeed. May we each rise to meet the challenge.

    • Shirley Showalter on March 26, 2020 at 10:59 am

      Thank you, Susan. I always love hearing from you and your perspective from South Africa. And I am touched that you enjoyed a post even without having grandchildren yet. (I am sure you will be a wonderful grandma if you get that chance.)

      I think the grandies will indeed flick the rubber balls, and probably at each other. At ages 7 and 9 they must get restless, don’t you think?

      Thanks for suggesting Netflix series. Will check out Narcos. Stuart and I were lucky enough to see Wolf Hall on Broadway a few years ago. Parts I and II! Took about five hours, if I recall correctly.

      Be well and stay safe too!

  12. Lucinda J on March 26, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    I love this idea! And the photos. What a good grandma you are.

    • Shirley Showalter on March 27, 2020 at 7:53 am

      Aww, Lucinda. Thank you.

  13. Norah Johnson Wolthuis on March 27, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    After some soul searching, we decided not to welcome my neighbor hood pretend grandchild into the house. Too old and too risky. I will try to communicate with him often and encourage the homework. Heard this afternoon that Gov. Witmer said she doubts that schools will open again this year. Here in NE MI we are hoping that people from downstate don’t try to escape all of the mess by coming “up north” to stay at their cottages. Not selfish, just realistic. In the meantime I’ve made , or partially made, about 25 masks. Haven’t sewed for so long, I had to reteach myself how to fill the bobbin! I look forward to the end of this craziness so my little neighbor and I can get back to normal. Does baking cause a danger to neighbors if you share?

  14. DG on March 31, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    We adult householders were working on a jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table (since there will be no dinner parties for awhile), when I noticed a few white pieces laying together. I thought that would be a good section to work on, but none of the pieces would fit together. When I looked at the box picture, I realized there was no white space. Had to laugh when I turned them over and discovered the colors on the other side. Then I thought that as a real challenge, one could work a puzzle on the white side. Later I realized that someone could color a picture on that side, too. So maybe a grandparent could use a marker to draw an outline of a picture then send it grandkids to color. They would then have two puzzles to work – one side a family art piece!

    • Shirley Showalter on March 31, 2020 at 5:45 pm

      What an interesting idea! I have enough trouble getting the pieces to fit on one side. I do not consider myself very good at puzzles, but I love the community around working together as a group. Children love when they are old enough to work a puzzle with adults, too, so you have a winner here. Thanks, DG, for your contribution.

  15. Nonnie Jules on July 12, 2020 at 1:07 am

    Shirley, I love your junk drawer transformation. I’m really busy – would you mind (when this crisis is over) coming by to take care of mine in EVERY single room of my house? Hahaha! I love what you’re doing for the grands. I hope you’ll be able to wrap your arms around them soon and make up for all the lost time and kisses COVID19 stole from us.

    Take care!


    • Shirley Showalter on July 12, 2020 at 6:15 am

      Ha! I’m no Marie Kondo, Nonnie. But I can send you good wishes for any clean up projects you might want to undertake. One drawer a day would have gotten our whole house organized by now, right?

      You know the ache in the arms for the grandkids. And the feeling of theft. These young years are so precious. We have to find whatever ways we can of blessing them.

      Bless you and yours. Thanks for the visit.

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