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, 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?

 

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

 

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?

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.