family

Bows and Ribbons and Pretty Things

Did I mention that I have a granddaughter?  No?  While here she is!

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She is sweet.  There are bows and flowers and pretty clothes.  There is lovely dark hair and lots of it.  She’s beautiful and she’s perfect.  I know she will grow up to be smart and successful, and she has two big brothers to watch out for her.

I’m over the moon in love with her and I haven’t even met her yet.  I’m a boy mom – and a boy grandma.  Now I’m a girl grandma too. This is going to be so fun!

Tell me everything I need to know about being a grandma to a little girl.  Boys I understand.  Girls?  This is unchartered territory for me.  Help!

empty nest, family, parenting, retirement

Seriously. Who Sped Up Time?

Since we’ve been married, we’ve lived about a decade in three cities.  My husband’s job has not taken us to exotic locations but across one country and into another.

The first decade – the baby decade – was spent in Edmonton, Canada.  Four of our boys were born there all at the same hospital.  I learned to be a mom there – from some amazing women.  It was home to West Edmonton Mall.  What’s not to like?  new-google-image-edmonton

The second decade – the young children decade was spent in London, Canada.  Yes indeed. There is a city in Canada called London.  I took my mothering job seriously and was so good at it.  I was the ultimate soccer mom.  Our youngest was born there – at home with a midwife.  Global_Twitter_Template_LondonOntario

The third decade – the teenage children decade – was spent in a small suburb of St. Paul Minnesota.  That is as exotic as we got.  I took everything I’d learned from Edmonton and London and tried to apply it to “St. Paul mom of teenagers” life.  It was hard.  It was busy. Still, I didn’t hate it.  My teenagers were busy and energetic and crazy.  I was crazy.  minnesota

I used that decade to not only take care of them but take care of me.  I went back to school.  Finished up my degree I’d put off for years.  Went from stay-at-home mom to working mom.  It was hard.

Slowly the kids started to graduate and move on to college.  Then weddings,  Then graduate school.  Some are still in college in some form.  I’m a navy mom now too. You already know I’m a grandma.

Our youngest graduated from high school a few weeks ago.  No fanfare.  No celebration. He graduated a semester early.  I’m going to be honest, he’s the least scholarly of our children (sorry honey – it’s no secret).  Still his brothers are baffled as to how he (of all of them) graduated early.   Apparently, it can be done.  When you really don’t like school – you can make it happen. You find ways.

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Yet another picture of the “young prince”.  #sorrynotsorry I paid a lot of money for this photo shoot and he’s not even having a graduation party or anything where I can show them off. 

That baby is leaving in a few weeks to go away to work in Wyoming.  He’s going to college out of state in the fall.  He’s hoping he’ll be able to stand school again by then.

So here we are.  All of sudden the nest is empty.  What in the world?  10 seconds ago it was chaos with five children.

I’m kind of excited about it.  I know, I should be crying in a puddle of tears.  I’m not.  I’ve worked hard for this empty nest.  Am I a bad mom because I’m not sad they’re all grown and gone?  I miss them.  Oh, how I miss them.  But I’ve done a good job.  We’ve done a good job.  What’s there to be sad about?

I’m looking forward to the next decade.  We’ve got some exciting plans in the works.  I’ll blog about that.

Tell me about your empty nest.  How’s it going?  What do I need to know?

family

I Worry and I Grieve, So I Blog

I worry.  I’m a worrier.  I used to worry about my children.  I still do but not as much.

They’re all almost grown and I don’t see them much. Their careers have taken them far and wide. My youngest is 18 and ready to fly the coop in a couple of weeks – off to Wyoming.  I still worry about him but it’s becoming less and less.

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Isn’t he handsome? He’s as good as he is handsome.  This week I cherish every picture and every moment with him.  Even when he’s being a bit teenager-ish

Now I worry about my littles.

Over this past, horrible week, I’ve felt some relief knowing that my youngest child will soon be exiting the walls of high school, forever.  He’s done.  That chapter is finished.   No more worries about sending him off to high school and then seeing a news flash that there’s a shooter there.  I won’t have to worry about that anymore.

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First day of school – I make him pose for this picture every year – he hates it. I can think of some parents that wish they had taken more pictures like this – even when their children were hating it.  I’m so sorry for them.  My heart breaks for them.

Wait a minute.  My oldest little is turning 3 in a few weeks.  That means that within a two years, he’ll enter public school. I’m sure his parents are already worrying about that.  

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Just practicing being at school – thank goodness.

But grandmas REALLY worry.  Maybe it’s because we have less control over situations with our grandchildren.  We can’t rescue them like we could our own children.  We can’t make important decisions for them.

Grandmas just watch from the sidelines – and hope and pray that they will be safe.  That’s all we’ve got.

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Just watching – from 800 miles away. Sometimes he sets me down on the floor so he can play – with me beside him.  I stare at the ceiling.  I don’t mind.  I can still hear him.

My littles are going to grow up in a world much crazier than the world this momma is about to leave behind.  That makes me worry.

I don’t have answers to the world’s problems.  I don’t hate guns.  Some of my children are very responsible gun owners.  They are good people who have learned about guns, know how to use them and keep their guns safely secured with a number of systems I don’t understand.  If they want guns, they should have guns.

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These two cuties LOVE their guns. They took me with them once.  I didn’t like it.  The guns made me nervous.  I won’t carry a gun.  But they have worked hard to have those guns and they are nerdy careful with them.  So careful.

My diet of donuts and chocolate and french fries is more likely to kill me than a gun will.

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My DREAM birthday cake – a cake of donuts. Dreams really do come true but sometimes not until you turn 50.

Still, I worry.  I worry about crazy people who go into schools, or malls, or stadiums, or hotel rooms –  that want to hurt my littles.  Maybe I worry because I was involved in a terrorist event a while back – The Boston Marathon Bombing.  I’ve seen what evil can do.  I was there.  I was running. Oh – and there were NO guns.

I’m tired of hearing the fighting and bickering – with no solution.  “It’s Trumps fault”.  “It’s the NRA’s fault”. “It’s the FBI’s fault”.

Whatever, people.  I don’t care whose “fault” it is.  Unless you have a real solution – keep your DAMN mouth shut and quit pointing fingers.

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The Blame Game.  It doesn’t help.  It fixes nothing.

I don’t know the answer.  I don’t have a solution.  This is not an easy problem to solve.  Parents and siblings and friends are grieving.  Grandparents are grieving.  The blaming and pointing fingers aren’t helping them in their grief.

Can’t we all just get along and quit being so nasty?  No wonder people are crazy enough to shoot children.  We have such great role models of decency and respect –  in our faces – everyday (that was sarcasm).  Try a little kindness.  Be a little more thoughtful.

This country needs a momma-grandma-bear to put everyone in time-out. Then maybe she can stop worrying.

 

education, family

Children’s Books

Last week, we talked about all of the grandma stuff we’ve collected over the past few years since we became grandmas.   After Round 1 of parenting, we purged everything – only to find out we would need it all back when we became grandmas. The books, however, they made the cut for Round 2.  I saved ALL of them.  I’ve always loved children’s books and have had a pretty healthy children’s book library since the time my own littles were little.

Reading to children is important.  It’s made a difference in my children’s lives.  Here’s a list I found that confirms what I’ve always thought:

  • Reading to young children sets them up to succeed
  • Reading develops language skills
  • Exposure to reading exercises your child’s brain
  • Reading enhances a child’s concentration
  • Reading together encourages a thirst for knowledge
  • A range of books teaches children about different topics
  • Reading develops a child’s imagination and creativity
  • Reading books with children helps to develop empathy
  • Books are a form of entertainment
  • Reading together helps to create a bond

We didn’t have much money to do a lot of “fun things” with our littles, so we spent a lot of time at free places like the local library or the museum on Mondays.  We’d check out stacks of books from the library and then sit and read book after book after book.

As our children grew a bit older and our finances changed, we began to grow our own library of books.

I miss the local children’s book stores.  Sadly, they’re becoming a thing of the past.  A few good ones are still around but not many.  I loved to visit them with my littles.   Not only did they have great books, they were usually quite entertaining as well.  We rarely left without a few good books – usually those recommended by a very knowledgeable shop owner.

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Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis. Tell me your favorite Book Stores in the comments below.

I try really hard to read books to my littles over FaceTime.  Trust me, it’s not easy.  It’s hard to book “bond” with them when a screen and hundreds of miles are separating us.  I just want to get cozy on the couch with them.  Unfortunately, that’s not possible so we do what we can and I’m thankful to at least have FaceTime.

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I asked Go Grandma followers about their book collections.  They shared some of their favorites:

Kristy B:

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We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a also a favorite of MacKenzie H.  The bear at the end … so sad … he just wanted to play.

Pauline V: 

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Ahhhh …. Jan Brett!

Kate T: 

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Andrea G.

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Allison R.
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Brooke S.

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“Anything by Sandra Boynton” — Barnyard Dance – LOVE IT

Martha L.

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Classic Sesame Street.  I remember reading this to my little brothers.

Christie S.

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Zhenya D.

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This is/was my grandson’s favorite too.  Such a cute story.

Stephanie H.

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Those sheep – so much mischief.  I think The Sheep in a Jeep are going to be Sheep Out to Eat next!

Jenny O.

Here are a few of my favorite books and authors.  It was really had to pick just a few.  Last time I visited the littles I was reading them “Love you Forever” by Robert Munsch (their very own copy that I bought them).  I dare you to read that to your littles without crying.  I dare you.

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Thank you to everyone that sent me their favorite titles!  Now I have a few more I can add to my grandma library.  What are your favorite children’s books?

family

Baby Stuff Round Two

Grandmas, do you remember when your youngest child no longer needed the high chair, booster seat, crib, car seat, baby monitor, change table, baby gate, high chair, sippee cups, swing, etc., etc., etc?   If you’re like me, it had been taking up space in your house for years and years.  In fact, by my calculations, we had an assortment of furniture and toys necessary for keeping young children safe AND entertained for perhaps 15 years of our 30 years of marriage.  29b6569ae31d8c5d9a799ad806d0b52b.jpg

When it came to time to get rid of it, did you have the discussion with your spouse like I did that went something like “do you think we should keep some of this stuff?  What about grandchildren?”   To which he just laughed and loaded it off to Goodwill (you could back then – they’d take all of it!).  I mean – our oldest 15 years ago was 14 so HEAVEN FORBID there would be a grandchild anytime soon.

Off it all went to make room for teenage type stuff – trophies, medals, report cards, sports equipment, bicycles, skate boards, back packs, video game systems, ping pong tables, etc., etc., etc.

No one told me that I’d need all of that baby stuff again.  Why didn’t someone tell me that?  Here were are.   Littles need to be entertained and kept safe in my house again.

CONFESSION:  I have accumulated a RIDICULOUS amount of baby stuff in round two!  What in the world happened?  I bought it once.  I happily got rid of it all. Then I bought it all back again.

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This is not even 1/4 of the stuff I’ve accumulated – AGAIN

We are getting our house ready to sell – “downsizing”.  Except that I’ve upsized with so much baby stuff, I have no idea where to put it all now.  And who knows when I’ll ever get rid of it again?  I could be packing this stuff around for another 20 years.  I think I might have even more than the first time around.

Dear Target and Wal-Mart – you are missing a huge population of shoppers.  It’s the grandmas you should be talking to.  We’re the ones buying all of YOUR stuff AGAIN.  This time we hardly even care about the price – because nothing’s too good for our littles.

Grandmas – I’ve seen the set-up some of you have.  It’s a lot – and I admire that.  You are my role models.  I’m trying to be like you and my husband is not happy about it.  But still – the littles need to be happy when they’re visiting.  If they’re not happy, their momma’s not happy,  and then they won’t visit.  It’s that simple.

I love to FaceTime with my littles and show them the new stuff grandma bought so that they tell their parents they want to “go to grandma’s house”.   It’s ingenious.

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How much baby stuff have you accumulated in ROUND TWO?

 

family

The Gift NO Grandma Wants

We had a wonderful visit with our littles last week.  We brought them lots of gifts and got lots of cuddles.  Then they sent us home with a very special gift … the flu.  Not just any flu.  They gave me full blow MAN FLU

I knew when we got there and saw their cute, little, runny noses that they were likely to make us all sick.  We haven’t had littles full-time in our house for going on 16 years now so our immunity to childhood virus’ has weakened.  A lot.

Then there were the sleepless nights.  I had forgotten how little sleep you get when the littles are sick.  In case you’ve forgotten – you get none.  Zero.  Grandpa, of course, slept through it all.  But not grandma.  I woke up to babies crying and coughing and momma walking back and forth between rooms.  I worried about them and I worried about their momma and I did not sleep – for three days.  IMG_1114

We did all of the right things – propped up the bed to help them sleep, gave them lots of good drugs, a little Vicks VapoRub.  We even employed the services of NoseFrida (my fellow blogger friend wrote a hilarious post about NoseFrida here). 51037242_Alt01

Even NoseFrida couldn’t clear their stuffy noses.

So finally – Grandma took over the care of the baby and sent momma to bed for some much needed rest.  We stayed up most of the night, cuddling, talking, and rocking and mostly just sitting upright.  In the wee hours of the morning I wrapped that baby up like a burrito, propped him up into the corner of the couch, wrapped my legs around him, and we fell asleep.  Finally.

There’s a price to be paid for the combination of close contact with sick littles and very little sleep.  It was a price I would gladly pay over and over.  Cuddling that sweet baby most of the night was a pleasure.  We bonded in a special way and now I miss him and his stuffy, sniffly nose oh so much.

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HOWEVER – if you have any tips for staying healthy when you’re around the littles, I’d love to hear them.  I can’t stay away every time they have the sniffles, I’d never see them. And I need to save my work PTO for grandma visits not sick days.

I did find some great tips at Grandparents.com.  Check out 5 Tricks to Staying Healthy When Your Grandkids are Sick

I really liked these tricks:

If they’re older than 2, give them their own tissue box.

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Wear a bathrobe when you’re holding your sick littles – remove it when you put them down.

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De-Germ frequently.  Cannot emphasize this enough.  I will be taking my own bottle of hand sanitizer and some really good lotion next time

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Stay healthy, grandmas.

 

family

Traditiooooon ….. TRADITION!!

I can hardly, rarely, ever say or think the word “TRADITION” without a few bars of Fiddler on Roof’s Tevye singing “Tradition” running through my head.  It’s practically impossible for me.  Because tradition is a big deal.  It’s the thing of family solidarity.  It’s what brings us together.  It’s what helps us keep our “balance“.

And so, for your viewing pleasure, here’s the link to TRADITION

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… “and because of our traditions, everyone of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do“.  I love this.

Traditions become a topic of conversation at Christmas time.  At the company “Holiday Party” we are often asked, “Do you have any family traditions?”  To which I can readily answer “Why yes we do”.

Our traditions and have changed over time.  The traditions we kept with young children like putting out milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve are no longer recognized.

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Some traditions are diehards – must do – can’t miss type of traditions like reading the Christmas Story from the Bible on Christmas Eve.

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Also White Christmas.  That’s a must.  At least it is for me.

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One of our favorite traditions has always been The Annual Gingerbread House building night.  Every year I would buy the little kit and everyone would gather around to make it.508a354e-2bcb-48c0-844f-039c4d9e94c2.jpeg55F6B280-22C2-4F0E-9040-757115B4A6AB

Such innocence.

Sometimes we’d keep it for display and sometimes we’d give it away to a family that needed a little extra Christmas spirit.  BUT we ALWAYS, ALWAYS made one.  It’s TRADITIOOOOON.

Over the years, however, it’s gotten a little more elaborate – often involving a competition with our best friends down the street.

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The Burrow versus Stable Scene

How do you judge which Gingerbread house is better when you have the teeny tiny stable scene versus the home of the Weasley family – AKA The Burrow from Harry Potter?

The Gingerbread creations began to take on whole new meaning … and mess!

These creations were often (thankfully) undertaken while I was at work – once the big boys got home from college.  This particular creation was pretty much an EPIC FAIL – but fun was had by all during the creation.

But it got crazier.

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There was no sleep the night this one was made.

That year the judging between the two families was done by the Grinch himself!

This was last year’s Gingerbread House.  For some strange reason, I had the mistaken thought that adding daughters in law to the mix would perhaps tame the TRADITION somehow.  And it did … sort of.

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Gingerbread House 2016

Look at the beautiful little Gingerbread Village.  So peaceful and calm – that is until the REBELS rolled in and the battle ensued:

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… oh boy …

…. and turned the place into a bloody war zone.  I mean SERIOUSLY?!?  Is nothing sacred anymore?

Well, take heart my friends.  The tradition has now extended to my children’s children.  It’s sweet and tender.25289572_10154920682901555_4661012489584801745_n

I had a gingerbread kit all ready to go to send to this cute family but they beat me to it.  This TRADITION is important to them and it does a grandma’s heart good to see it continuing with the next generation.  All is well.

As for this year’s Gingerbread House – apparently construction begins on Friday when our #4 gets home from college.  He has already spoken with his brothers about it and plans are being drawn up.  Who knows what they’ll come up with this year.

Are you seeing any traditions continue with YOUR next generation?