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.

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!

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?