The Grandpa Gifts

January 25, 2010 @ 1:09 pm | Filed under: ,

Since my dad’s fun family-photo coloring pages have garnered such an enthusiastic response (see especially Lori’s comment, which includes a link to a Crayola site that will let you make some of your own), I thought you might enjoy hearing about some of my father’s other grandkid-pleasing innovations.

One Christmas he gave us this set of custom-made placemats. Each laminated mat has a collage of family photos on one side. On the back sides, he made gorgeously colorful collages of other kinds of pictures—an array of his beautiful bird photos, for example (most of them taken in my parents’ backyard or ours). One is a nature collage; one is all kinds of art supplies. I can’t tell you how much my kids love these placemats. My littles use them almost daily underneath their dinner plates or drawing paper.

But I think Wonderboy’s special book takes the prize. My dad really outdid himself with this one. This was a present he gave to my boy a couple of years ago, and it is still one of Wonderboy’s favorite things to look at. Rilla too, actually.

It’s a comb-bound, laminated alphabet book full of pictures of our extended family and objects from around our house. (My photos don’t do it justice.) My dad included both English and ASL fingerspelling letters for each word, which makes it all the more special (and useful) for my hard-of-hearing son.

I love my dad’s choice of words to illustrate—you can tell he understands his grandson’s interests very well.

I know I’m gushing here, but, well, you understand, right?

The back cover is my favorite page.

On another visit, my dad gave Wonderboy a second book, this one focusing on colors and numbers. I especially love this page illustrating the number 4—

—but I would have to say my favorite is the Number 1 page.

Like the wise man said, we can’t help falling in love…with you, Grandpa.

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25 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Ellie says:

    Okay, well, this made me cry. *embarrassed — a little* Something about these gifts, the ABC book especially … You’re really blessed.

  2. Penny in VT says:


    And again,


  3. sarah says:

    wow what a wonderful engaged granddad your kids have. I hope they have no idea how blessed they are. I hope they think this kind of thoughtfulness and love is normal. I’m trying hard not to be jealous, lol. Heavens, I want to tell you to give your dad a big hug from me! 😉

  4. coffeemamma says:


  5. Jordin says:

    What a wonder, loving man!

  6. Susan says:

    Would your dad like to adopt my family?

    What wonderful and thoughtful gifts! It’s no wonder why your father is well-loved. 🙂

    And thanks for sharing pics of the presents, wonderful ideas for my own kids.

  7. Mamalion says:

    Awww! What a great Granddad! How blessed you are! And your mom’s chocolate sheet cake…Hmm. Would they like another 6 grandkids?

  8. Kimberlee says:

    Such beautiful gifts! Full of so much thoughtfulness and so much love (of course you knew that, but we get to gush too)!

  9. Tabatha says:

    Love those!!!

  10. Hannah says:

    Could your dad adopt me? I would be an ever so loving and dutiful daughter — honest!

    What a gem he is.

    And I laughed about Elvis!

  11. Yvonne says:

    The apple doesn’t fall from the tree, obviously. What special people you all are. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Theresa says:

    So incredible! Wow!

  13. Erin says:

    What an AWESOME Grandpa!!!

  14. beth says:

    Those are amazing. That’s a great grandpa.

    How did he laminate them? I ask because we laminated paintings for one Christmas with contact paper, but I’m not sure how long they will last.

  15. Sarah says:

    My MIL made these exact books & collages when my girls were young (well, without the ASL). They still enjoy looking through them.

  16. Emily says:

    Those books are so amazing. What a special gift! And I laughed out loud at 1 Elvis. 😛

    Dh’s aunt made our youngest a little scrap book ABC book using a small photo album. It’s a very sweet book and my oldest dd loves reading it with the baby.

  17. Kathy says:

    Wow, those are amazing and full of such obvious love. Lucky little boy you have there. Well obviously you are all very lucky to have such a caring dad/grandpa in your lives.

  18. Elizabeth@Frabjous Days says:

    Very, very special. How blessed you all are!

  19. marielle says:

    Oh man I was getting all misty eyed until I reached that last one and had a full on guffaw. See I’m also the daughter of a Dad that thinks there is only one Elvis.

  20. Melissa Wiley says:

    My sweet daddy was quite moved by all your comments above. 🙂 He wrote us out specs on how he made those awesome gifts. Thanks, Dad!

    Grandpa Murray says:


    Mine were (slightly trimmed) 11×17-inch collages laminated on an office-grade machine. If you don’t already have access to the equipment, consider using an office supply/photo shop/shipping store to get your laminations done. Shop around a little, though, as some places are more expensive than others. Local print shops, The UPS Stores, FedEx Office (Kinkos), Office Max, etc., are a few possible starting points.

    I picked one of The UPS Stores because I knew it had a fairly good color copier/printer and could print my collages from an email or a flash drive onto a nice grade of 11×17 paper. (Or you may choose to have them printed out at a photo shop.) It also had an up-to-11×17-inch laminator. Make sure the collage can be trimmed a little smaller than the lamination paper so you get a good seal all the way around, expecially if you plan to use two collage sheets laminated back-to-back as I did. If the edges ever start peeling open, after much use we hope, take the placemats back to the store and see if they will run them through the laminator again.

    Other lamination suggestions might include: books/booklets, coasters, photo ornaments or quickie art “frames.” For the latter, you can use matting or photo software to add a decorative border to a photo or drawing, then laminate it for display. While we’re at it, don’t forget that if you have the capability, you can scan in all your children’s works of art and keep them forever digitally. Lastly, don’t forget to trim off the sharp corners before putting laminated objects in reach of little ones.


    Use your favorite software to make them. Make sure your software will let you build them on the desired paper size, with an adequate border. For me, that meant using Powerpoint to manually insert and arrange all my selected photos on an 11×17 “slide”….after MUCH resizing, rotating and shuffling of pix! This is something that the kids can help with if you are making placemats for grandma & grandpa. (My then 11-year old granddaughter McBoo did some of the collages used in the placemats we sent to her Aunt Lissa & family.)

    Check the “Print Preview” to once again make sure you have some trimmable border if needed before you head off to get the lamination done. Powerpoint gives you the option to save the collages as either a presentation-format document OR as a JPG/JPEG photo file. Next, as a quality control pre-check, go do one. Here’s where you discover that, (1) the store can’t open or read the file on your flash drive; (2) the print quality is not what you expected, meaning you may want to get them printed at a photo shop; (3) the store’s laminator paper is not quite 11×17 inches and you can’t leave enough space around your collages for a good seal; or (4) something else unexected goes wrong.


    “Personal preference” rules the day here. For booklets, I prefer a comb binding because of the flexibility. (Pun intended.) If the grandkids rip the pages out, I can run them back down to the store and get them re-bound. (The pages, not the kids.) (Hmm….nevermind.) If desired, you can also add pages at a later date.

    Check to see what other binding methods are available, though. You may, for instance, prefer to just three-hole punch the pages and put ’em in a loose-leaf binder. Or the scrapbook-style photo album Emily mentioned in her comment is an idea likely to be deeply appreciated. One other sometimes costly but otherwise excellent option nowadays is to create an actual bound photo book either online or at a brick & mortar outlet like Walgreens or CVS. You can usually add text in the form of captions or even a storybook-like narrative, if you are so inclined. (Don’t tell anyone but that may be something I’ll try to tackle next.) I’m looking forward to hearing more ideas and suggestions.

  21. sarah says:

    What a labor of love, Lissa. This is really touching. Your parents are truly wonderful.

  22. Maureen says:

    I love this idea! What a great thing to do to personalize the alphabet.

  23. Joy says:

    What a neat gift from a wonderful grandpa! I must confess I got a wee bit teary reading this…and such a wonderful gift idea. I think I am going to make one for my littles as a midwinter surprise. And thank him for the detailed instructions! So helpful. What a blessing!

  24. Susan says:

    I love the 1 Elvis! Awesome.

    What wonderful books!