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.

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.


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

Kristy B:

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: 

Ahhhh …. Jan Brett!

Kate T: 


Andrea G.


Allison R.

Brooke S.

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

Martha L.

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

Christie S.


Zhenya D.

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

Stephanie H.

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.



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?


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.

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.


How much baby stuff have you accumulated in ROUND TWO?



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.


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  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.


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


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


Stay healthy, grandmas.



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


… “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.


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


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



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.

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.


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.

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:

… 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?


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.  

(**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.

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:


Another grandma had books on her mind too:

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


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?



The Day Care Dilemma

I’ve seen this story going around about how “babysitting grandkids may help prevent Alzheimer’s”.   Well who doesn’t want to PREVENT ALZHEIMER’S??  Seriously.  Sign me up today because THIS:

You don’t have time to think about anything else,” said Mary. “It’s a wonderful exercise in love — it really is.”

I guess you would be preventing Alzheimer’s … in a way… because you can’t actually think about anything else except baby so …

This is the VERY LAST paragraph of the story:

The Australian study focuses on caring for grandchildren one day per week. Research showed grandparents that spend five days a week or more caring for little ones may have a higher risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders.

Sorry kids – but grandma’s only babysitting once per week!  We can’t risk developing neurodegenerative disorders – AKA Alzheimer’s!!

Anyhow, I do know plenty of grandmas that do provide day care for their littles – and so far so good for them – mentally!  However, it’s not without some consequences.

Andrea G., MN:  I have done daycare with my grandkids so a pro for me is the extra time I get to see them, the con is that while they are at my childcare they have to follow the schedule/rules. And my 4 yo grandson thinks my house is daycare, so that’s kind of a bummer. But I do have a strong bond with my grandkids, so that’s the trade-off.

Claudia J., MN: I physically couldn’t do day care for an extended period of time. A day, here or there. However, I’m so grateful to be able to give care when I can. It’s a special way to be able to bond with my grand blessings.

I wonder though, do grandparents sometimes feel obligated or guilted in to providing this often FREE service?  I mean childcare is really, really expensive.  To have your grandchildren go to a “cheap” day care or a day home that seems … well … sketchy – you just might feel like you should step in and offer your services.   After all, if you’re not working at least part-time, what else could you possibly have to do with all of that FREE time, right?

Here’s what Susan Adcox had to say at The Spruce:

… grandparents should carefully consider the impact that providing child care may have on their personal finances.  Extra expenses can mount up, and a child care commitment may keep grandparents from accepting other employment or from performing home and property maintenance, which they may end up paying for.

She makes some great points about the longterm effects on personal finances associated with quitting your job and providing FREE day care.

What about if you indeed do insist on payment:

Accepting Payment

Even if grandparents don’t have to quit a job, taking on regular child care responsibilities will require major changes in their lives. For that reason, some grandparents are willing to accept payment for child care. Usually, they charge their children less than other providers would charge. Some grandparents refuse any pay. It is vital to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all parties before accepting child care responsibilities. If you decide to accept payment, you need to consider your children’s financial habits. Do they pay their bills regularly and on time? Will they consider your bill for child care something they can skip if their budget becomes strained? A very important question is will you feel guilty taking payment from your children?

Some children who do not pay their parents for child care instead buy extra gifts for the grandparents or pay for occasional restaurant meals or even vacations for the whole family. Some grandparents who do accept payment put a portion of their earnings back for similar treats. In both of these cases, any extra treats or gifts must be considered as just that, gifts. Neither side is entitled to feel slighted if the gifts aren’t lavish enough or the outings don’t occur frequently enough. They should not enter into any type of financial accounting that takes place.

Here’s another great point from this article:

Working Overtime

Most child care facilities have definite hours and penalties for parents who don’t pick up children promptly. These should be spelled out between parents and grandparents as well. Although most grandparents won’t mind an occasional half hour of overtime, parents who constantly run late are abusing the grandparents’ good will. Also problematical is the parent who comes to pick up the kids, starts “visiting” and ends up staying for dinner. Some grandparents will welcome this extended day, and others will be fuming, inwardly at least.

Oh boy – I’ve heard this story on more than one occasion from a number of grandmas!  I’d definitely be fuming.   I really have a lot of opinions on this but I’m hesitant to share them because honestly, I’m not sure what I’d do if I was in the situation where my kids really needed the help.  So for now, only you can decide what’s best in your situation.  What do you think?  Have YOU provided child care for your littles?

By the way, we haven’t even talked about all the things that can go WRONG when grandma is in charge all day.  That I do know about!  That’s my next post!