October 18, 2009


How to Be the Greatest Grandparent Ever

By Russell Wild and Jean-Noel Bassior

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Catch a Firefly

Derek Jeter, shortstop, New York Yankees

Catching fireflies isn't a whole lot different from catching baseballs. "The basics are the same, except you use a jar instead of a glove, and there's more of them to catch," says Jeter. In fact, there are over 170 species of fireflies in the United States and 1,900 worldwide. So pick a night when the sparkling critters are bountiful and follow these simple steps:

Get prepped

Hold the lid of the jar in your dominant hand. You'll need to have a bit more control of the lid than of the jar.

Stay loose

Keep your body controlled but flexible. Bend a little at the knees.

Be focused

Your eyes should never leave your target. The easiest firefly viewing will be at twilight, when you can see the firefly light up but still keep track of it between flashes.

Act fast

Once you have the lid and the jar lined up on either side of the firefly, don't hesitate. Snap them together as quickly as you can. (Careful, though, not to crush your prey.)

Keep trying

"You may miss a few, but, hey, I don't catch every ball. I don't let that shake my confidence," says Jeter.

Let go!

Explain to your grandkids that the thrill is all in the catch. After a few minutes you should let your illuminating little friend out of the jar and watch it flutter away.

Skip a Stone

Jerdone Coleman-McGhee, holder of the Guinness World Record for stone skipping (38 skips)

Skipping a stone across a clear morning lake allows you to defy gravity, and just how cool is that? Your plan:

First you have to become a rock expert. "To get a good skip, you need the right stone," says Coleman-McGhee. These are smooth and uniformly thick or thin. Contrary to popular belief, they are not necessarily round. One of the best shapes is triangular ("like the Stealth Bomber," he says). The triangle shape provides stability. The stone should be about as big as your palm.

Hold the stone gently between your thumb and middle finger, with your index finger curled around the edge. A common mistake is to also curl the thumb around the edge. No. Rest the thumb on top.

Prepare to throw by cocking your wrist way back and aiming the stone so that it will contact the water with a nearly parallel trajectory.

Snap your wrist so the stone leaves your hand with maximum spin. You don't need a lot of force, but spin speed is key. "Throw quicker, not harder," he says.

Tell a Joke

Phyllis Diller, comedian

Diller knows something about telling jokes to kids. She raised her own five children before launching her show biz career at age 37. "There are rules for telling a joke just like there are rules for baking bread," Diller says. Here are the essentials:

Keep it simple

"First off, use short words and simple language," she says. "Always go for one syllable over three. A joke about a car full of 'people' works better than a joke about a car full of 'passengers.' If there's a number in the joke, unless for some reason it has to be 11, make it 10."

Get to the point

Don't take detours along the way to your punch line. "Sure, you need to set up a joke properly, but don't flump around—flump, flump, flump—like some people do. A common reason that joke tellers flump around is that they like the attention, so they start to draw their stories out," says Diller. "But the minute you start elongating, you lose your audience. So keep your ego out of it. Be brief. Don't flump."

End with a bang

The final word of the joke is your meaning word, your operative word, so make sure it's a good one. "The best words end with explosive consonants. Go for something like 'top,' 'dog,' or 'spit,'" says Diller. "Never end your story with a word like 'aura.'"

Make a fallback plan

If your joke falls flat, make a funny face. With little kids, that's a sure-fire laugh. "Just stick your tongue out and cross your eyes," says Diller.

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