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…

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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.

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

Bows and Ribbons and Pretty Things

Did I mention that I have a granddaughter?  No?  While here she is!

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She is sweet.  There are bows and flowers and pretty clothes.  There is lovely dark hair and lots of it.  She’s beautiful and she’s perfect.  I know she will grow up to be smart and successful, and she has two big brothers to watch out for her.

I’m over the moon in love with her and I haven’t even met her yet.  I’m a boy mom – and a boy grandma.  Now I’m a girl grandma too. This is going to be so fun!

Tell me everything I need to know about being a grandma to a little girl.  Boys I understand.  Girls?  This is unchartered territory for me.  Help!

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?