family, General, grandchildren, parenting

When Grandma Hijacks Hallowe’en

Hallowe’en is just around the corner.  As a kid, I was not a fan of Hallowe’en – probably because I never seemed to have a great costume.  As an adult, I’m still not fan – at least when it comes to costumes. I just feel so silly in them!

Costumes for my children – I LOVED coming up with them.  They just had to say the word and I could come up with something;  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – X 4, Mario Brothers, all sorts of Harry Potter costumes.  I excelled in making costumes – from scratch.  If the boys could think it – I could and would craft it.   A little scrap fabric, some glitter paint, and a glue gun.  It’s all I needed!

My boys still have a bit of a zest for Hallowe’en.  I’m glad I didn’t spoil it for them.  And I still like to make costumes if an occasion lends itself to costume making … for other people (not me).

We share an Amazon account with our children so I know my boys (and girls) are prepping for Hallowe’en.  I’ve seen all sorts of costuming accessories going through that account.  (I’m not sure if my adult children realize that if they share an Amazon account with me, I get all of the emails.  I guess that’s the price they pay (or don’t pay) for sharing Amazon Prime with me. )

The littles are getting to an age where they “get” Hallowe’en.  Last year was okay – the oldest kind of got it.  But this year.  This is it!  He get’s it and he’s excited.

A few weeks we were on FaceTime together and the oldest little and I got talking about Hallowe’en:

ME:  “What are you going to be for Hallowe’en?”

Little #1:  “A knight!”

ME:  “A knight!  That’s so cool!!  Whats’ your brother going to be?”

Little #1:  “A yiyon”

ME: “A dragon??  That’s awesome – a knight and a dragon.  Your sister can be a princess!”

Littles’ Mom: “No – he’s going to be a lion.  We have a lion costume.”

ME:  “Oh.  I see.”  Thinking to myself … “A lion?  That lion costume is cute but a dragon would be so much cuter.  I shall find a dragon costume and send it.”

So the next day, off I go to buy the dragon costume that was not asked for or needed.  A cute little dragon costume for Little #2.  “It can be for dress-up”, I tell myself.  I mean, maybe its tradition to wear the lion costume, that’s been passed down through all of the maternal cousins.  I can’t mess with that. Yep, the dragon costume will be for dress-up. I won’t make a big deal – just send it with some Hallowe’en goodies in a Priority Post box.

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Look at that cute, little, baby dragon.  Adorable.

We’re on FaceTime a few days later and Hallowe’en comes up again – probably because I can’t leave it alone:

ME (to Little #1):  “I can’t wait to see your knight costume.  Do you have a sword?”

Little #1:  “No.  I’m going to be a dragon.”

ME:  “A dragon?” – making sure I heard clearly this time.

Little #1:  “Yes.  I want to be a dragon – RAWR!  With wings like this” (frantically waving arms around the room).

Little’s Mom:  “He says he’s being a dragon but we don’t have a dragon costume for him so he’s going to be a knight.”

Little #1:  “No, a dragon.  With wings.”

And so it went.  With tears and a big fit.

Well now there’s a dilemma. The little’s brother (Little #2) is getting a dragon costume but Little #1 is the one that wants to be a dragon.  So what’s a grandma to do?

Off to the store I go.  What do you know? I find the best dragon costume ever!  With wings.  I can’t resist it.

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That is a DRAGON!  He’s so happy.

And I just happen to find a little onesie with some glitter and a tutu for Little #3 – “the princess.”

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A spell on Daddy?  Ha!  She put a spell on Grandma.

Grandma has officially hijacked Hallowe’en.

I’m just so dang lucky that I have the best daughter-in-law in the world.  She puts up with my hijinks like none other.   But I’ll tell you what – there were lots and lots of smiles when they got their dragon costumes. That dragon costume will be worn out by the time Hallowe’en arrives.  Except- it’s just for dress-up so I guess it doesn’t matter (tee hee!).IMG_3620

Tell me I’m not the only grandma to hijack Hallowe’en.

Adventure, family, Fitness, grandchildren, prairie, running

Run Grandma Run

Did I mention that I’m a runner?  These days I dabble but I used to be pretty good and fairly fast.  I’ve run 14 marathons in the past 11 years.  Three of those marathons were the Boston Marathon – which means, it’s true.  I am/was pretty fast for an old lady.

(BTW: That picture up top – that’s me with my daughter-in-law.  Pretty fun to have a DIL that is willing to run with you!)

My last marathon, in June of 2017, was actually called Grandma’s Marathon.  I’ver never really known why its called that except for the restaurant (Grandma’s) near the finish line.  When I signed up for that race, there was a spot to check whether or not you were a grandma.  I checked that box.  But there was nothing extra in it. Not even a designation on my race bib.  Hmmm…

grandmas-marathon-logo
I’ll just note that those are NOT grandmas on that logo.

I’m not saying my marathon days are over but they might be. A significant amount of peer pressure might sway me but it would need to be significant.  It’s a lot of work, a lot of time, and I’m clearly no spring chicken.  I’m a grandma through and through.

Now I stick to middle distances likes half marathons or 10K’s.  I’ve run two half marathon’s this year and a Ragnar Relay.

This weekend I ran a half marathon – Big Woods Half Marathon.  I signed up for it about 6 months ago when it was on sale for $20.  As race day approached, I debated whether or not I’d do it.  I wasn’t feeling particularly well-trained and it was a different type of race than I was used.  It was a trail race – which is much different than a road race. It would be run through a state park.

My training had been a bit spotty – quite a bit of traveling for work and particularly poor weather for outdoor running. But then I’ve never NOT run a race I’ve signed up for.  Not once.  So I thought I’d just go, take it easy, and enjoy the lovely scenery.

The race location was a good hour from home.  When I left for the race early Saturday morning, it was lovely and clear, but cold.  It was a beautiful drive through some of Minnesota’s best farming country.

Fall and harvest is beautiful in Minnesota.  It reminds me a lot of the vast prairies of my homeland in Alberta, Canada.

One big difference is that instead of wide open fields of wheat, I see corn everywhere.  I’ve grown to love it like I loved the smell of wheat harvest in the fall in Canada.

There were beautiful farms and quaint little towns all along the way.  For some reason my GPS took me down every back road it could come up with.  I even got to try my skill on some gravel roads, thank you very much!img_3674-1

I finally arrived at the race location – a beautiful setting outside Faribault, Minnesota.  I’d never been there before but I’m glad I made the trip.  It was such a lovely drive.

As I got ready for the race to start, it was clear that I was surrounded by people who were familiar with this race, had done it before and were back for good reason.  I soon learned why.

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Yep – I know.  It’s a bit blurry.  You try taking a picture, while running!

Thirteen miles through the most beautiful, fall, forests.  It smelled wonderful; that distinct scent of wet and dying leaves.  img_3684-1Clearly, they’d had a lot of rain in this area because in addition to the beautiful foliage and sweet smells of autumn, were many, many, many puddles of mud.  The blackest mud I’ve ever seen!  I tried to avoid the mud as much as I could but it meant all sorts of detours to run around it.

It just became too exhausting to run around it so I just went through it.  I kept thinking of the book – We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  I’ve read it so many times to the littles.  There’s the part where it goes “squelch squerch, squelch, squerch, squelch squerch” through the mud. That’s exactly what it felt like I was doing. 51pcSwQGWSL

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Well, ultimately I finished that race.  It was really hard.  I mean, so hard.  The best part of that race though, was the incredible hospitality of the sweet church ladies after the race.  It was the best post-race food I’ve ever had!  Hot soup, fresh bread, home made cookies … I’ll take that over a salted nut roll and bag of chips any day.

Today, I feel like I got hit by a bus.  I’m seriously getting too old for this.  But I’m glad I did it and plan to do it again next year.  I think this grandma might have another race or two in her!

Oh … I said earlier that I’ve never missed a race that I’d signed up for.  Well, that streak is about to end.  I signed up for race that is the same day as one my littles’ birthdays.  Easy decision – I’m going to celebrate that birthday out of state instead of running a race out of state.  Good choice!

Thank you to my fellow blogger over at Minnesota Prairie Roots who coincidentally mentioned the half marathon in her blog last week!  Reading her blog made me just a little more excited to run yesterday.

empty nest, family, grandchildren, retirement

Working Full-Time

There’s really only one job title I want.  That title is “Full-Time Grandma”.  I could spend all day every day with my littles.  Well, at least I think I can.

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Trying out all of baby sister’s head bands

I have this one big thing that holds me back from spending more time with my littles.  It’s my job.  My full-time, big girl job.

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My office – it’s a bit messy

I actually really like my job.  I enjoy going to work every day; I look forward to it. Sometimes I get to travel for work.  This year I’ve been to New York and Las Vegas, and I have Orlando and Chicago coming up.  That’s not too bad.

It sounds really fancy. It’s not.  It’s just a little, obscure company that you’d only know about if you work in this industry.  But I don’t care.  I don’t need much.

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It’s Sunday night and I’m NOT dreading work tomorrow.  That’s a good thing, right?

Many of my girlfriends are full-time at home.  They get to grandma whenever they want.  They get to go to lunch with each other whenever they want.  I used to be full-time at home as well. Not anymore – I’m at work.  I’ve been full-time for almost two years now.  I used to feel like I was missing out on the girlfriend fun.  I’m fine with it now.

Sometimes work gets in the way of seeing the littles though.  I’ll miss one of the littles’ birthdays while I’m in Orlando.  That’s not cool.  At the same time, it’s probably unrealistic to expect that I can be there for every birthday – as much as I’d love that!

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I haven’t missed a birthday yet – but it’s bound to happen 😦

I’m glad that if I’m going to be working, I enjoy what I do.  It helps fund all of those grandma trips to visit the littles (and the bigs), which is kind of helpful.  I’m a bit torn though.  If the littles lived closer, maybe I wouldn’t like working full-time.

For now, we’ve got a good thing going though.  And we’re building that new, big house for the littles to visit, remember?  So I guess it’s off to work for this grandma.

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It’s coming along!

What about you?  Are you a full-time working grandma too?

 

empty nest, family, grandchildren, parenting, retirement

The Sandwich Generation

You know that generation of people who are stuck in between their children and their parents – where they’re kind of on the hook (so to speak) for both sides?  You might be in that generation if you’re exhausted.

This is where I currently find myself – smack dab right in the middle.

For Labor Day weekend we went to visit the littles which is always, always, always THE BEST.  I love to visit them.  In one weekend we went to the zoo TWICE.  We actually have a pass for a zoo 6 hours away.

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The littles’ parents are fairly financial independent but are still “students”.  He’s a medical resident and she’s a stay-at-home mom to three perfect littles.  So we “treat” them once in a while.  We bought steaks for dinner – which was a treat.  We’ve helped them with small projects around their house.  We do what we can.

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I painted all of the cupboard doors for another one of my children with the help of these two.

We have four other children who are in varying stages of needing “help”.  Some are students and others are independent.  Still, as long as they’re with mom and dad, there is a sense that mom and dad are “buying”.

I treat them to new clothes or other items on occasion as I see needs or respond to “hints”.  I mean when the kid shows up with holes in his shoes and says he can’t afford new shoes, what’s a mom to do (insert eye roll here).  If you’re wondering if dad is less of a sucker, he is definitely not.  He’s worse than me.

Then there’s the other side of the sandwich.  Our parents.  As we were driving back from our trip to see the littles, we got a phone call from my dad:

Me: “hey dad”

Dad (who lives 18 hours away): “where are you guys?”

Me: “we’re about 3 hours from home – driving back from seeing the littles”

Dad:  “Oh.  Well I’m at your house.”

Me:  (nothing. shocked silence)

I knew he was coming to visit.  He visits regularly.  But I specifically said that this week was NOT a good week because I would be busy getting #5 ready for college and, if you recall, we are living temporarily in a 2 bedroom 1 bath tiny condo.  Did I mention dad also has a dog?

GAH!

I did what every good daughter would do and told him that he would need to get a hotel.  Of course he didn’t like the cheaper one I picked out, booked, and paid for from 3 hours away, while driving.  He find a “better” one for twice the price!

We put him up in the hotel for FOUR days until I could get my crap together at home.  Then he transitioned to a mattress on our dining room floor.  No Daughter-Of-The Year award will be received this year.  Well wait – maybe.  My dad likes to eat out. He thinks Minnesota has The Best Restaurants.  Also I’m busy.  So we ate out a lot including ice cream every night.  Guess who paid?  Every. Single. Time.  (it was NOT dad)

I spent the week entertaining (and feeding) my dad while simultaneously helping an 18 year-old shop and pack for college.  Let’s be clear on the “helping” – I did it all.  Also I do indeed work full-time.  I mean someone has to pay for all of this.

And now I’m sick.  I mean physically. I have a headache, my nose is running, and my throat hurts, and I’m about to board a flight to “help” my college kid get settled in at his new digs.

If I was a sandwich, I’d be a grilled cheese.  The kind that’s flat and oozes cheese out the sides.  stretchy-vegan-rainbow-grilled-cheese-637x320-1491866355

Maybe I’m just an enabler but I’m wondering … how are YOU managing being in that sandwich?

family, grandchildren, parenting

Bullying. Just Stop It

It’s been a tough year for me.  It’s taken almost a year for me to admit it. I’ve been trying to come to grips with why, how, what.  It happened out of the blue.

BULLYING.

It never really occurred to me that I could be bullied by another adult. I’m a grandma for goodness sake.  I’m strong.  I’m smart.  I’m successful.  I’m independent. I’m even nice, usually. The bullying was subtle at first.  It took me a while to realize it was happening.  Then gradually, slowly, it became less subtle.

I tried to make nice with the bully because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?   I tried to ignore it – pretend it wasn’t happening. I tried really hard.  I did everything you’d tell your child who is being bullied.  “Ignore it”  “You’re better than that” “They’re not worth it” “Don’t let it get to you”…

It was lonely.  You see the bully bullied others.  So if you (the “onlooker”) wanted to avoid being bullied, you stayed on the safe side of the bully. Pretended to be their friend.  Don’t cause any waves.  Just stay under the radar and you’ll be fine.  AND if you really wanted to stay on the safe side of the bully, for goodness sake, DO NOT stand up for the bullied (insert eye roll here).

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Which one are you?

I needed a break from the bullying so I took a break from putting myself in places where I could be bullied.  I took a break from people who in my mind cared more about staying on the good side of the bully than taking care of the bully’s bullied.  Whether that was true or not, didn’t matter because in my bullied mind it was true.  And the break helped a   lot.

I won’t even begin to compare my experience with bullying to that of a child.  There is no comparison.  And heaven help the person who EVER … I mean EVER bullies one of my littles!   I’m simply pointing out that bullying can happen with adults too.  Sometimes in the work place.  Sometimes (a lot) on social media.  And even sometimes it can happen in the places you should feel the most safe – like church.

So let’s just be nice.  There’s a lot of pain and hurt in this world.  There’s a lot of hate.  I just listened to this great podcast called Why We Hate.  I’m not saying you have to agree with every opinion out there, but if you disagree, just be nice.  Listen a little.  Ask some honest and sincere questions.  I bet you’ll find more common ground with those that you disagree with than you think.

And just don’t be a bully.

There is one thing I’ve learned over the past year.  If you continue to harbor the pain that the bully has unfairly inflicted on you, then the bully wins.  I refuse to let that happen.  So I will forgive and move on.  I’ll hold my head high.  I’ll be more aware of those that are bullied.  I’ll be more courageous and stand with them.  I’ll do my part to stop the hate and keep the peace, at least in my little corner of the world.

I hope you will tell me the ways that I can be a better advocate for the bullied and how you have been an advocate for stopping the hate. Continue reading “Bullying. Just Stop It”

family, grandchildren, parenting, Uncategorized

Adopt a Little for a Day

The littles and their momma have been visiting “the other grandma” (maternal) for a few weeks while Dad finishes up work out of state. I’m insanely jealous.

She’s an amazing grandma too. She’s got the “grandma thing” perfected. I’m jealous but I’m happy for the littles and their momma. They get to play with cousins, aunts, uncles (there are a lot of them!) and just get loved on so much. It’s all good.

So to ease my aching, missing heart we adopted a couple of littles and treated them to a fun day. I figured it was good practice. Two, seven year-old boys – how hard could it be?

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This is a picture I took just after we parked the truck – so I’d have something… just in case I lost them!! Then I gave them a firm but loving lecture on “staying close”.

We took them to the Chippewa Valley Air Show. It was a perfectly cloudy day. Not ideal for watching airplanes but ideal if your goal is avoid sun burning other people’s children.

We bought $85 worth of food/snacks/and car trip toys. But good news – under 12 gets in FREE to the air show. We spent another $75 on air show food. I mean, who doesn’t want to eat a $10 frozen pizza with a $7 Coke?

The air show was fantastic – full of high flying jets and stunts, as I had hoped. We even got treated to the Blue Angels.

Our little seven year old charges? Not quite so interested in the air show. I mean there were GRASSHOPPERS to be caught and contained.

For the record, it was MY idea to put their grasshoppers in the empty water bottles.  Just saying …

What a great and exhausting day nonetheless. I’m not sure that the littles enjoyed it as much as I did. I was hoping they’d fall asleep in the car for the 90 minute drive home. Nope. Not a wink.

As we neared home, they begged us to let them come play at our house a little longer. I said a half hearted “I wish we could …” as I dialed their parents for immediate pick up on our return.

I guess I’m not quite ready for 7 year old littles. I need to build up some grandma stamina first!

family, grandchildren, Travel

Teary Goodbyes Part II

Do you remember Teary Goodbyes from just over a year ago?  When I blogged about the littles moving away to their new home?  That was such a hard day for me.  I sobbed.  I knew they would be coming back in a year but a year seemed like a lifetime.

Well, it wasn’t a lifetime and they did come back.

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Deja vu – here we are at the airport one year later

All is well in the world once again.

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#blessed