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Tips, Advice and Adventures - for Grandmas by Grandmas

Christmas Gifts – Don’t Get Crazy

It’s time to start talking Christmas.   We probably should have started talking about this a few months ago but here we are.  By now, I hope your Christmas shopping is well underway.

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(FYI:  This is NOT my tree or gift pile!) 

I’ve made good progress on everyone – everyone that is, but the littles.  On one hand, they are super easy to buy for but on the other hand, what on earth could a two and one year-old possibly need?  If there was a year where we could probably get away with very small gifts, this might be the one.

Nonetheless, buying Christmas gifts for grandchildren is different than for your own children.  It seems that there might be some sensitivities surrounding it.  For example, grandpa found a “kitchen” that he thought would be a great gift for the littles.  It was huge!  It was expensive.  I said absolutely not!

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… and these two cuties are NOT my littles

I feel like it’s not our responsibility or our place to outdo the parents – which is an easy thing to do when the parents are just starting out and have a mountain in student loans.

I just might have some backup on this philosophy.  Here’s what I read over at Grandparents.com:

From the moment Dorothea Hover-Kramer’s oldest grandson asked her for a bike, she dreamed of Christmas morning — and the look on the boy’s face when he’d find the shiny two-wheeler under the tree. Still, she says, “it was kind of a big present, so I thought I’d run it by my daughter [the boy’s mother].” Her daydream was quickly dashed. “My daughter said, ‘No, we’ll get him the bike.’ I said, ‘He asked me for it,'” says Hover-Kramer.

Hover-Kramer was disappointed, but she backed off. “As a grandparent, I’ve learned to be the peacemaker and accommodator,” she says. Her daughter and son-in-law bought the bike while she chipped in for the accessories, including a helmet and a lock.

I totally understand this scenario.  I would definitely be the one wanting to buy the new bike.  But really – is it my place?  I think it’s good to ask permission to buy such a gift.

Here are some other ways gift giving can go – again from Grandparents.com:

  • They ask you to buy a big gift, but you can’t afford it
  • They demand you run your gift ideas by them
  • They forbid you from buying certain toys
  • They ask you to go easy, but you had big plans

Do any of those sound familiar?  I haven’t experienced this yet but with 5 children, their spouses, and any number of grandchildren, I’m anticipating every one of those scenarios at some point!

So grandmas tread carefully.  It is Christmas but take it easy.  Let mom and dad be the hero – unless they ask you to step in.

We’ll be keeping it simple this year.  Maybe a few books and some Hot Wheels cars. I am working on a fun project for them but shhhhh… it’s a secret.  Something from my own children’s childhood that I think they might enjoy.  This might be the only year I can get away with a sentimental gift as opposed to a gift from Target.

Grandmas – tell me what you think.  Is it tricky for you?

 

 

Grandlittle #3 – It’s A …

Oh – I just can’t stand to keep a secret any longer.  It’s a …

GIRL!!

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Sherry and Lauri – you were right!  And so was Audrey over at Minnesota Prairie Roots.  (check out her blog – it’s one of my favorites).

She’s arriving in APRIL.

As soon as my we found out, I was immediately told that I could NOT go shopping.  Too late, I already have a drawer full of of baby girl clothes that I’ve been collecting for quite some time.

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Pink Suckers for these cuties – they’re getting a SISTER

The boy streak has ended – it was 7 in a row for this family.  Ten if you count my husband and his two brothers (no sisters).

Needless to say we are over the moon excited.   Truth be known, boy or girl – we would still be excited.  Another little to love.

 

Super Visit with the Littles

Phew – when did life get so hectic?  Practically no kids at home and yet still no time.  I definitely had more time as a stay at home mom to five little boys than I do as a working full-time and mom to one (at home) … or have I just forgotten.  Nonetheless, I’ve got some catching up to do.

Part of my busy-ness included a trip to see the littles.  It was just so lovely.  We did virtually nothing – as recommended by our Go Grandma followers:

Kristy B. (Minnesota): O. loves it when Grandma & Papa to get down on the floor and play and read to her!

√ Reading

I packed these two new books which were a hit!

I dare you to try to read “Love You Forever” to your littles without getting teary.  I. DARE. YOU.

There was so much “get down on the floor playing too”.  The most precious words ever:

“Gwama … you want to pway wif me?”

Music to my ears.

“Yes  …. yes I certainly do.  Which garbage truck can Grandma play with?”

It was so much fun.  We drove miles and miles of garbage truck around their little apartment.

MacKenzie H., (Minneosta):  My very energetic parents always try to do something new with my kids. Something they’re scared to do or I don’t have time to do with them (or don’t want to 😂) they’ve taught all my kids how to ride a bike, taken them to restaurants to try new food like sushi, challenged them to learn the monkey bars.  This has created so many rewarding memories for them that have nothing to do with “things”.

The littles are a bit too little to do anything very new quite yet but we did enjoy some puddle jumping.

I get it.  When you’re a young mom with two littles – going outside and getting all wet and cold in puddles and then trying to clean up after that is just way too much work.  Puddle jumping – now that’s a DREAMY job for a grandma.

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Yes – this little is wearing running shoes.  Don’t judge.  His coat is super cute though.

Shortly after the puddle jumping adventure – we went straight to TARGET to buy these puddle jumping boots.  DYING!  I love them so much.

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Kelsey M., Minnesota:  My mother-in-law does lots of fun things with all the kids together, but she also does individualized “dates” with each grandkid when she visits so that everyone feels really special.

Yep – I plan to be THAT mother-in-law.  I am sooooo looking forward for the individualized “dates”.  For this visit, we had to settle for a YouTube dates at 6 AM while mom and dad got a few more minutes of rest.
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We had such a fantastic visit.  It came and went too quickly as usual.  But we got the BEST surprise every while we were there …

Grandbaby #3 – coming in April!!

Will it be a BOY or a GIRL?

Comment below – boy or girl and I’ll feature the winner in my next post!

 

 

Sending Packages – PART II

Gosh, life gets so busy sometimes.  It’s a good kind of busy but it’s taking my time nonetheless.   I’m looking forward to the day when I can move from what has to be done to what I want to do.  Is there such a day?

Time to finish my thoughts on sending packages.  Mostly they center around gratitude. When we receive something in the mail, I’m sure our first thoughts are to thank the sender.  But life just somehow gets in the way despite our best intentions.

I mentioned in my last post that my littles used to get a lot of packages from their grandma.  They did outgrow the desire for candy-filled packages, but I also wonder if grandma got burned out from sending packages with no gratitude in return.  My fault – I got busy.  I had good intentions and I was grateful for her kind attention to my children.  It’s just that there were five of them and my husband was gone on business and it was … a lot.

So many thank you cards bought but not sent.  Cute notes made by the children that I never got around to mailing.  Phone calls that should have been placed but instead I put the kids to bed early so I could get those clothes washed or the dishwasher unloaded. ALISONHARDCASTLE105

I’ve heard mothers and mothers-in-law commenting that they “never get a thank-you” when they send gifts.  Well, grandmas, I don’t think those children are ungrateful – I just think they’re moms are darn busy and you’ve forgotten what that’s like.

It’s hard being a mom.  It’s exhausting.  You’re lucky to put a meal other than chicken nuggets on the table let alone pen another thank-you card.

Those daughters and daughters-in-law are not ungrateful but they kind of get a bad rap sometimes.  They’re trying hard.  Many of them have to work full-time and then come home and work full-time some more.  It's tough being a working mom

So let’s lay off the gratitude guilt.  Be grateful that they are spending the time reading bedtime stories to your littles and maybe even taking a little rejuvenation time for themselves.  They’re grateful.  They know you’ve spent time and money.  They appreciate it.  They’ll show you that gratitude as they lovingly care for your littles – for every waking moment of their day.

Sending Packages – Part I

I’m a self-declared expert at sending packages in the mail.  Four boys, four, 2-year missions for our church equates to 8 years of packages sent at least three times per year (Christmas, birthday, and just because).  Plus, they’ve all gone to college out of state which means they got a package or two then as well …. at least the first couple of kids did.  Anyhow,  that’s a bunch of packages.

My expert package preparation skills were put to work recently when I sent a package to my son at OCS.  

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(**follow the asterisk below for some how-to tips I learned decorating these boxes)

Truthfully, that might have been a bit over the top – at least on the decor part.  The contents were admittedly so-so.

Since I am so well-versed in package prep (ha ha!), I even made a spare just in case there was a soldier who wasn’t going to get a package from home: DC6F3113-C91B-4F3C-AEC1-234EBB15C153

That soldier did indeed get more than a flag from me, however the package itself is IMPRESSIVE!

Since packages are kind of “my thing”, I decided it was time to start sending packages to my littles.  They live far away now so they must NEED packages.  I sent my first “official” package a few weeks ago.  It was a Hallowe’en package with costumes and candy and pj’s.  I think I threw a few new little toys in there two.  The decor was BORING …  I could have done better.

My mom used to send packages to my children.  They were usually full of Canadian candy bars – which truly are so much better than their American counterparts.  Trust me on this.

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seriously … I’m drooling over this

I can foresee a number of packages in my future so I’m polling the grandmas on what goodies I should put in them.  I got a few ideas on this:

Martha L, MN:  There are books you can record yourself reading it to them. The kids love to hear your voice read to them.

It looks like Hallmark makes a whole series of these.  They look adorable:

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Another grandma had books on her mind too:

Pauline V., WI: Books and always a package of animal crackers or Mini Nilla wafers.

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I thought the Nilla Wafer and animal cracker idea was a great one – as an alternative to candy.

Andrea G., MN:  I have a drawer in my kitchen and it has crayons, silly putty, paper, card games and fun snacks.  Grandma essentials!

Oh Andrea, I am jealous!  It would be so nice to have the littles close enough to raid my snack drawer.  Those are great ideas to put in a package as well.

Still, I need more package ideas.   I consulted Pinterest which generally has the answer to any question.  I was not disappointed.  I can see now that my packages are lame.  I commit to doing better.

Grandmas – what are you putting in your packages to your littles.  Mommas – what kind of packages are your littles getting?

** I used the free flat-rate shipping boxes from USPS.  The large box is basically 12X12 so it works well with those 12X12 sheets of scrapbooking paper.  That and a little spray-glue makes life easy!  Also, I opened the box on one of the sides so I could lie it flat to decorate.  SOOOO much easier than trying to reach inside.   Then, when the decor was all done, I just taped it back together again.”

The Miracle of Love Runs Deep

I absolutely loved being a mom to bunch of little boys.  I didn’t work outside of the home when they were young so being a mom was My Job.  I read books about it and watched what other moms did.  We played a lot and we learned responsibility.   We did everything together.  lessons-from-ducks

Lately, I’ve found myself comparing mothering to grandmothering, and thinking about how they are different.  Being a mom has been a wonderful experience for me.  However I’ve even been known to (half)joke that I might just love my littles more than my own children.   I absolutely adore my children.  They are my life.  Still, I’ve been surprised at the depth of my love for my littles.

This week I asked Go Grandma followers what surprised them the most about becoming a grandma.  If you’re a grandma, then their answers probably won’t be a surprise to you.   Here’s what a few of them had to say:

Lorri S., CANADA:   Maybe I was surprised by how easy is was to be a granny….and to completely love that little human from the get go.

Pauline V., WI:  How easy it is to fall in love again – with every new little one.

Martha L., MN:  The incredible amount of love and joy you feel for each child–from the first and still continues. It is amazing.

Mary H., ID: It’s simply wonderful!

Mary H.: What a blessing each child is in their own special way.

Judy C., UT:  I’m 3 weeks into this new grandma life and I didn’t realize my heart was capable of loving my new grandson as much if not more than my own children. BEST CLUB EVER!!!!

I’m not sure why life was designed in such a way that at just about the time you’ve exhausted your parenting energy, you approach the grandmothering years.   It’s the best reward for years of worried late nights and parent teacher interviews.

Do you remember when you first held your newborn baby, you drew them close and smelled their sweet newborn smell?  Do you remember how you were instantly filled with complete love and compassion for that child – like you would absolutely lay down your life for that child — yet you’ve only known them for a moment?   Being a grandma is something like that only for me it’s more of a feeling of complete protection.  I don’t wish to parent the littles at all.  I just want to be in their presence and just watch.  I could watch All.Day.Long.  Literally, everything they do is a pleasure to observe.C715429B-9A63-494C-B7A2-3CFED0E53AEBI’ve learned that love changes and becomes deeper as our roles expand and change.  The love grows from one of depth and begins to include a love of breadth.  It’s an intangible thing.  It’s especially intangible when you add the love my child has for his own children now.  It’s really the best miracle of love.

What surprised YOU about becoming a grandma?

 

Mishaps at Grandma’s House

Whether it’s day care or just spending the day, grandmas like to have the littles over.  There is excitement in the air when the littles are on their way.   Anything can happen and it usually does.

It’s GRANDMA’S house which means it’s been a few years since there have been littles small enough to not only see the outlets that are near the floor but stick things in them.  The chemicals have now made it back to their original spot under the kitchen sink.  The gate that used to block the stairs is now being used to grown vines in the back garden.   Don’t even get me started on the random vitamins and medications laying around.  It’s a miracle our grandchildren survive their stay at our house.  But they do.

Yet things happen.  Nothing too serious, so far.  But sometimes … well things happen.

One summer, we sent two of our children on an airplane, alone, at ages 6 and 8 to visit their grandparents. One ended up with stitches from a playground incident and the other with major scrapping all over his little face from attempting to ride a bike much too big.  Still, there was no doubt they had a fantastic time with their grandparents and still talk about it to this day.

Grandparents like to have fun and we forget that those littles need to be watched.  Every. Single.  Second.  They are sneaky little things that can disappear from your sight in an instant.

It’s because we get distracted. We’re not used to being on child alert.  It’s been a while.  We’ve had a taste of freedom. We can now watch an ENTIRE show uninterrupted.  We get to use the bathroom without a single knock on the door or someone wanting in.  We can eat pudding, in the living room, and leave the container right there.  RIGHT THERE on the coffee table and it will still be there next week and NO ONE CARES!

So when they come, we have to flash back to parenting mode and try to remember how we once managed to keep our littles safe (which we did – just fine, by the way).  It gets tricky.  Mostly because we just want to play with them.  But the distractions …

This summer the littles were over.  There were 5 grown up adults in the house and two littles – a walker and a crawler.  The adults were visiting and chatting as adults do.  It’s grandma’s house so no one is in charge – except grandma.  Grandpa is definitely not in charge.  The parents are at their parents house so they’re not in charge.  The uncles are oblivious to being in charge of anything. Grandma is at work.  Do you see the problem??

As I drive up our street in a rush to get home to see the littles, I notice a little little coming from the side of our neighbors house.  Alone.  Happy as can be.  He’s TWO. Did I mention he’s next door in the neighbor’s side yard?   I slam on the brakes in the middle of the street and jump out of the car and run to the little.  What the?!?  Why?!? How?!?  Then I see them all running.  Those five grown up adults.  Mom is crying.  Dad is angry at the uncles.  Grandpa is blaming the mishap on everyone but himself.  Everyone’s upset … except the little.  He’s happy.  He’s free.

Grandma just scoops him up, straps him in the car seat and takes him for an extra long drive home.  It’s all good.  No harm, no foul, no stitches!  IMG_8724

Mishaps happen at grandmas house.  They happen a lot. Here’s proof from our Go Grandmas followers:

Sherry K., Canada:  A “sleeping” toddler, pajamas, hair, carpet, wall covered head to toe in Vicks Vaporub from his Mom’s suitcase…

Jane G., Canada:  Our little ended in emerge with a small toy up is nose and a second time in his ear. Then he took two stool softeners. The health nurse by phone described exactly how messy it was going to get at 2am. She was spot on!! Still can’t figure out how he got the cap off!!

Allison A., CA: The ‘sleeping’ ones are the dangerous ones. We put our grand baby down for a nap in our little office… a little too close to the table where Gma carelessly left markers… well she reached them and created her own art!

See … the medications.  I talked about this!

Cindy A.,: Got a call from our daycare one day, she put our toddler and another child down for a nap. She thought they were sleeping. She went to check on them and our child was completely painted with a new bottle of lotion. Those two were never again placed in the same space for naps and received extra supervision at all times as they were just trouble together.

Now that Cindy brought it up, sometimes moms get caught in mishaps too. Well … they probably get caught in mishaps a lot but they don’t seem to get the same publicity as when grandma gets caught.

For instance, I do recall one little painting his baby brother with an entire tube of diaper rash cream while their mom was in the shower.

And this happened:

I think the difference is that when (innocent) mishaps happen on grandmas watch, we stop, take pictures, and laugh.  We’ve got time for that.  It’s not a big deal.  We think it’s adorable when they cover themselves in marker or paint their little brother.   It’s stressful for moms because it’s just one more mess to clean up, in their already hectic and exhausting day.

Grandmas welcome the mess because.  Except for that empty pudding cup on the coffee table, the house is too clean.  It’s too quiet.  Please come and make a mess, my littles.

What mishaps have happened on YOUR watch?