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Resident semi-finalist for grandparent award

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POSTED: August 19, 2009 9:30 a.m.
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Sharon Bland stands with her husband on their anniversary

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Sharon Bland of Allenhurst isn’t your grandmother’s grandmother. At 48, not only is Bland still active in her own affairs after bringing up her four children, she also regularly opens her arms to six grandchildren and makes sure they each get the attention and care they deserve.
Her devotion to family has earned Bland a spot as a semifinalist for the inaugural “Today’s Extraordinary Grandparents” award, created by the online community Grandparents.com.
Bland found out about the award while visiting the site, where she finds activities to do with the children when they stay with her.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” Bland said when she found out she was a semifinalist.
Bland says helping grandchildren grow as individuals presents different challenges.
“Right now, kids are growing up too fast ... ” she said. “They come out knowing everything!”
One of Bland’s primary roles as a grandmother has been to care full-time for two of her grandchildren while her oldest son was deployed. He is now stateside, and the children are with him, she said.
When the grandchildren stay with Bland and her husband, she makes sure they each get time alone with her. “They crave different things,” she said. “With the girls I’ll do hair and nails, and with the boys I might do puzzles or build airplanes.”
Dr. Georgia Witkin, senior editor of Grandparents.com, said Bland is typical of many modern grandparents. “Grandparents today are definitely defining their own lives,” Witkin said. “They are younger and more active.”
Approximately 37 percent of grandparents in the United States become grandparents in their 40s, Witkin said.  
Grandparents.com has named 50 semifinalists, and 20 finalists will be tapped. The winner will be announced on Grandparents Day, Sept. 13.
The award and the holiday recognize grandparents “who not only do special things for their grandchildren and their community, but who also teach their grandchildren to do the same.”
 

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