Super Visit with the Littles

Phew – when did life get so hectic?  Practically no kids at home and yet still no time.  I definitely had more time as a stay at home mom to five little boys than I do as a working full-time and mom to one (at home) … or have I just forgotten.  Nonetheless, I’ve got some catching up to do.

Part of my busy-ness included a trip to see the littles.  It was just so lovely.  We did virtually nothing – as recommended by our Go Grandma followers:

Kristy B. (Minnesota): O. loves it when Grandma & Papa to get down on the floor and play and read to her!

√ Reading

I packed these two new books which were a hit!

I dare you to try to read “Love You Forever” to your littles without getting teary.  I. DARE. YOU.

There was so much “get down on the floor playing too”.  The most precious words ever:

“Gwama … you want to pway wif me?”

Music to my ears.

“Yes  …. yes I certainly do.  Which garbage truck can Grandma play with?”

It was so much fun.  We drove miles and miles of garbage truck around their little apartment.

MacKenzie H., (Minneosta):  My very energetic parents always try to do something new with my kids. Something they’re scared to do or I don’t have time to do with them (or don’t want to 😂) they’ve taught all my kids how to ride a bike, taken them to restaurants to try new food like sushi, challenged them to learn the monkey bars.  This has created so many rewarding memories for them that have nothing to do with “things”.

The littles are a bit too little to do anything very new quite yet but we did enjoy some puddle jumping.

I get it.  When you’re a young mom with two littles – going outside and getting all wet and cold in puddles and then trying to clean up after that is just way too much work.  Puddle jumping – now that’s a DREAMY job for a grandma.

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Yes – this little is wearing running shoes.  Don’t judge.  His coat is super cute though.

Shortly after the puddle jumping adventure – we went straight to TARGET to buy these puddle jumping boots.  DYING!  I love them so much.

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Kelsey M., Minnesota:  My mother-in-law does lots of fun things with all the kids together, but she also does individualized “dates” with each grandkid when she visits so that everyone feels really special.

Yep – I plan to be THAT mother-in-law.  I am sooooo looking forward for the individualized “dates”.  For this visit, we had to settle for a YouTube dates at 6 AM while mom and dad got a few more minutes of rest.
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We had such a fantastic visit.  It came and went too quickly as usual.  But we got the BEST surprise every while we were there …

Grandbaby #3 – coming in April!!

Will it be a BOY or a GIRL?

Comment below – boy or girl and I’ll feature the winner in my next post!

 

 

Sending Packages – PART II

Gosh, life gets so busy sometimes.  It’s a good kind of busy but it’s taking my time nonetheless.   I’m looking forward to the day when I can move from what has to be done to what I want to do.  Is there such a day?

Time to finish my thoughts on sending packages.  Mostly they center around gratitude. When we receive something in the mail, I’m sure our first thoughts are to thank the sender.  But life just somehow gets in the way despite our best intentions.

I mentioned in my last post that my littles used to get a lot of packages from their grandma.  They did outgrow the desire for candy-filled packages, but I also wonder if grandma got burned out from sending packages with no gratitude in return.  My fault – I got busy.  I had good intentions and I was grateful for her kind attention to my children.  It’s just that there were five of them and my husband was gone on business and it was … a lot.

So many thank you cards bought but not sent.  Cute notes made by the children that I never got around to mailing.  Phone calls that should have been placed but instead I put the kids to bed early so I could get those clothes washed or the dishwasher unloaded. ALISONHARDCASTLE105

I’ve heard mothers and mothers-in-law commenting that they “never get a thank-you” when they send gifts.  Well, grandmas, I don’t think those children are ungrateful – I just think they’re moms are darn busy and you’ve forgotten what that’s like.

It’s hard being a mom.  It’s exhausting.  You’re lucky to put a meal other than chicken nuggets on the table let alone pen another thank-you card.

Those daughters and daughters-in-law are not ungrateful but they kind of get a bad rap sometimes.  They’re trying hard.  Many of them have to work full-time and then come home and work full-time some more.  It's tough being a working mom

So let’s lay off the gratitude guilt.  Be grateful that they are spending the time reading bedtime stories to your littles and maybe even taking a little rejuvenation time for themselves.  They’re grateful.  They know you’ve spent time and money.  They appreciate it.  They’ll show you that gratitude as they lovingly care for your littles – for every waking moment of their day.

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?

 

Mishaps at Grandma’s House

Whether it’s day care or just spending the day, grandmas like to have the littles over.  There is excitement in the air when the littles are on their way.   Anything can happen and it usually does.

It’s GRANDMA’S house which means it’s been a few years since there have been littles small enough to not only see the outlets that are near the floor but stick things in them.  The chemicals have now made it back to their original spot under the kitchen sink.  The gate that used to block the stairs is now being used to grown vines in the back garden.   Don’t even get me started on the random vitamins and medications laying around.  It’s a miracle our grandchildren survive their stay at our house.  But they do.

Yet things happen.  Nothing too serious, so far.  But sometimes … well things happen.

One summer, we sent two of our children on an airplane, alone, at ages 6 and 8 to visit their grandparents. One ended up with stitches from a playground incident and the other with major scrapping all over his little face from attempting to ride a bike much too big.  Still, there was no doubt they had a fantastic time with their grandparents and still talk about it to this day.

Grandparents like to have fun and we forget that those littles need to be watched.  Every. Single.  Second.  They are sneaky little things that can disappear from your sight in an instant.

It’s because we get distracted. We’re not used to being on child alert.  It’s been a while.  We’ve had a taste of freedom. We can now watch an ENTIRE show uninterrupted.  We get to use the bathroom without a single knock on the door or someone wanting in.  We can eat pudding, in the living room, and leave the container right there.  RIGHT THERE on the coffee table and it will still be there next week and NO ONE CARES!

So when they come, we have to flash back to parenting mode and try to remember how we once managed to keep our littles safe (which we did – just fine, by the way).  It gets tricky.  Mostly because we just want to play with them.  But the distractions …

This summer the littles were over.  There were 5 grown up adults in the house and two littles – a walker and a crawler.  The adults were visiting and chatting as adults do.  It’s grandma’s house so no one is in charge – except grandma.  Grandpa is definitely not in charge.  The parents are at their parents house so they’re not in charge.  The uncles are oblivious to being in charge of anything. Grandma is at work.  Do you see the problem??

As I drive up our street in a rush to get home to see the littles, I notice a little little coming from the side of our neighbors house.  Alone.  Happy as can be.  He’s TWO. Did I mention he’s next door in the neighbor’s side yard?   I slam on the brakes in the middle of the street and jump out of the car and run to the little.  What the?!?  Why?!? How?!?  Then I see them all running.  Those five grown up adults.  Mom is crying.  Dad is angry at the uncles.  Grandpa is blaming the mishap on everyone but himself.  Everyone’s upset … except the little.  He’s happy.  He’s free.

Grandma just scoops him up, straps him in the car seat and takes him for an extra long drive home.  It’s all good.  No harm, no foul, no stitches!  IMG_8724

Mishaps happen at grandmas house.  They happen a lot. Here’s proof from our Go Grandmas followers:

Sherry K., Canada:  A “sleeping” toddler, pajamas, hair, carpet, wall covered head to toe in Vicks Vaporub from his Mom’s suitcase…

Jane G., Canada:  Our little ended in emerge with a small toy up is nose and a second time in his ear. Then he took two stool softeners. The health nurse by phone described exactly how messy it was going to get at 2am. She was spot on!! Still can’t figure out how he got the cap off!!

Allison A., CA: The ‘sleeping’ ones are the dangerous ones. We put our grand baby down for a nap in our little office… a little too close to the table where Gma carelessly left markers… well she reached them and created her own art!

See … the medications.  I talked about this!

Cindy A.,: Got a call from our daycare one day, she put our toddler and another child down for a nap. She thought they were sleeping. She went to check on them and our child was completely painted with a new bottle of lotion. Those two were never again placed in the same space for naps and received extra supervision at all times as they were just trouble together.

Now that Cindy brought it up, sometimes moms get caught in mishaps too. Well … they probably get caught in mishaps a lot but they don’t seem to get the same publicity as when grandma gets caught.

For instance, I do recall one little painting his baby brother with an entire tube of diaper rash cream while their mom was in the shower.

And this happened:

I think the difference is that when (innocent) mishaps happen on grandmas watch, we stop, take pictures, and laugh.  We’ve got time for that.  It’s not a big deal.  We think it’s adorable when they cover themselves in marker or paint their little brother.   It’s stressful for moms because it’s just one more mess to clean up, in their already hectic and exhausting day.

Grandmas welcome the mess because.  Except for that empty pudding cup on the coffee table, the house is too clean.  It’s too quiet.  Please come and make a mess, my littles.

What mishaps have happened on YOUR watch?

 

 

 

Get Ready – the Littles are Coming to Visit!

It’s been a few months since the grandchildren moved away – out-of-state.  Remember that day when my heart was ripped out?   They’re coming for a visit next week and needless to say I’m pretty excited about that.

Since we have no littles that live close by, we are trying to sort out how to maintain a grand-parenting home, given that the grandchild are only able to visit periodically, while still raising a teenager.  As much as I’d love to keep the (now) vintage Fisher-Price toys in the living room, it just doesn’t seem practical.  il_570xN.1220062575_236m

However, when the littles come, I want to be ready.   So I asked Go Grandma followers what they do to prepare for a visit from the littles.   What are the MUST-HAVES to make the visit not only more enjoyable for the littles, but also a bit easier for the moms?  We got some great advice.

This first bit of advice is from a mom of two littles:

Christy H. (Canada): For me and my kiddos: if it’s big, bulky or heavy, it’s awesome to have at the house we are visiting. That means high chairs (IKEA makes a great and cheap one!) and Pack’n’Play (cannot recommend the Graco one enough) are first on my list of wants at Gramma and Grampa’s house. We appreciate toys and books at the Grandparents’ house, as they take up so much room in luggage and new, special, grandparents’ house only toys and books are so much more entertaining than what we have at home. Strollers and car seats are fairly easy to travel with (they fly for free and if I’m driving, I have the seats already), so I would prefer to bring my own.

If kiddos are in diapers, it makes travelling easier (especially when flying) if I know there will be a box of diapers when I get there. That way, I only have to pack enough to get me to Gramma’s house.

I did invest the $19.99 in the Ikea high chair and was able to get a great deal on the Graco Pack’n’Play on Black Friday, which were both well worth it and have seen plenty of use.

I love this advice as well:

Jane G. (Canada): When (my little) was younger, we would child proof the house. Have his favorite books, make Mac and cheese….he loves it!

Child-proofing.  That is a really important thought. As your own children begin to leave home, we kind of forget what it’s like to have littles crawling around, and all of the things they can get into.  I found a great list of reminders here at the Baby Corner:

– Install childproof covers on all electrical outlets.

– Store household cleaners and medicines out of reach, and attach safety latches on cabinets.

– Post the number to the Poison Control Center where you can find it quickly. Keep medicines in the original containers so you’ll have the correct information available in case you need to call for help. Make sure all medicines have childproof caps.

– Keep your hot water heater set between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid scalding.

– Buy pressure-mounted stair gates, but do not rely on them to keep your grandchild from falling down the stairs. With enough momentum, a good-sized toddler could dislodge the gate. Vigilance is always the best policy.

– If any of your furniture has sharp edges, cover the edges with corner guards made especially for that purpose.

– If you cook when your grandchild is over, remember to use the back burners on the stove and keep the pot handles turned toward the back of the stove. Place knob protectors on the stove knobs. Make sure no stool or chair is positioned close to the stove.

– Store your garbage can behind a locked closet door. Keep plastic garbage bags and sandwich bags locked out of reach.

– Remove small magnets from your refrigerator that are within reach of little hands. Keep on the lookout for any small objects that have fallen on the floor or that might be in reach of little ones. Anything that goes in the mouth becomes a choking hazard.

– Enclose your swimming pool with a locked gate. Make sure the slats in the fence are close together so no child can slip through.

– Install finger-pinch door guards and drapery cord wind-ups. Make sure all cords are up and out of reach when your grandchild is visiting.

– If you must own a firearm, remember to always store ammunition and the firearm separately and keep both under lock and key.

– Purchase a safe highchair or booster seat to use when your grandchild visits.

– If your grandchild will sleep at your home, purchase a crib with slats close enough together so a baby can’t slip through. (Check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for government regulations: http://www.cpsc.gov/.

– Remove blankets and stuffed animals from the crib; they can be suffocation hazards. Consider dressing your grandchild in a warm one-piece sleeper instead of using a blanket. Use only a fitted bed sheet that tucks snugly around the crib mattress. Remember to place a baby to sleep on his or her back only, and check on your sleeping grandchild often.

– Consider keeping bed side rails for an older child who is still young enough to be in danger of rolling off a bed and getting hurt.

– Check any houseplants to make sure they don’t pose a poison risk, and keep them far beyond the reach of children.

– Closely supervise your grandchild around any pet, regardless of how long you’ve owned the pet or who well you think you know the animal’s temperament. Even a docile pet can become suddenly aggressive.

– Regular home safety rules always apply, of course, whether a baby is present or not: Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors regularly. Keep fire extinguishers handy. Tack down area rugs or attach backing that will keep them from sliding.

– Stay aware and informed! Visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for more tips.

– Spread the news: Show and tell your grandchild’s parents how you’ve childproofed your home so they will feel confident and relaxed when visiting. Invite them to offer additional suggestions. Make it a team effort!

I especially like the last one about telling your grandchild’s parents about what you’re doing to childproof.

Here’s a bit more advice:

Lorri S. (Canada): Baby Tylenol or something like it.  I’ve learned to keep some in the cupboard along with the emergency soother, emergency t-shirt, emergency underwear, and emergency blankie!

Nothing more difficult than a sick baby at grandma’s house – with no Baby Tylenol around.  My daughter-in-law always comes prepared for just about any baby medical emergency so we’re pretty much covered but still – those emergency situations seem to happen a lot.  That’s why I keep telling my husband I HAVE TO buy that cute little onsie from Wal-Mart or little jacket off the sale rack.  Be PREPARED!

Well, I’ve got some work to do.  Just today I noticed a bottle of Drano under the kitchen sink.   One of the littles just started crawling – so I need to get a new gate too.  At least I’ve had the good sense not to insist that my littles sleep in the same crib that their father and his siblings all used.  We just took it to the dump last year – 28 years after its first use.  It’s been a great ride, white crib, but you’re not good enough for my precious littles.

Mother-in-Law Relationships

This week I asked Go Grandmas about mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationships. I’m quite certain that I couldn’t have asked about a more CONTROVERSIAL topic.  It actually caught me a bit off guard.  There were some STRONG opinions on this.

I adore my sweet mother-in-law.  She has always been kind and loving to me and my children.

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My sweet mother-in-law with her first great grandchild.

However, there is a saying:her-life

This slogan has always worried me a little, having no daughters.  I’m not alone in that worry:

Chris S. (Minnesota): As a mom of only boys, it makes me really sad to know that I’ll never hold that “maternal trump card” or be a holiday priority.  I can only hope that my boys find wives who are understanding and hopefully inclusive of me, their mother-in-law.

One Sunday as I sat in church I could hear two young moms whispering behind me complaining about their mothers-in-law.  It hurt me just a little because I knew that a mother-in-law was what I was forever destined to be.

I mean, when was the last time you heard a mean daughter-in-law joke?  NEVER. But mothers-in-law get a bad rap.  Some is deserved but I’m guessing mostly it is not.

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I vowed I would NEVER be the mother-in-law that would be the subject of negative gossip by my daughters-in-law.  I’ve since learned that you can’t always control that – you make mistakes and I certainly have given my daughters-in-law reasons, on occasion, for eye rolls or perhaps even hurt feelings or a tear.  However, I’m working darn hard to behave myself.

So I asked Go Grandmas what their advice was for building POSITIVE relationships with their daughters-in-law and also how daughters-in-law could do the same with their mothers-in-law.

Here’s some excellent advice from daughters-in-law:

Natalee C. (Minnesota): Daughters-in-law just want to feel understood. On their terms. They want to feel accepted for who they are, what they like, and feel valued and important

Julie C. (Minnesota):  It helps if mothers-in-law not constantly mother their son while visiting. Include your daughter-in-law in conversations and not have your entire visit be focused on your son.

Konnie G. (Minnesota)Support your daughter-in-law by giving them what they need, not what is convenient for you. (Ask them what they need, never assume).  Also don’t tell your daughter-in-law how to parent your grand babies.

Ashley M. (Minnesota): Don’t give advice unless explicitly asked. Don’t boss around your son, especially in front of your daughter in law.

Kate T.: Let your sons go. It’s hard but you need to accept that his wife is the #1 woman in his life now and that’s how it should be

These daughters-in-law have great relationships with their mothers-in-law.  I love what they had to say and how they honor their mothers-in-law:

Stacy A.: My mother-in-law figured out what I hate (taking kids clothes shopping) and she takes them shopping.  They are happy, she’s happy and I’m happy.

Jessica F.: I personally love that my mother in law treats me as if I am her child. I feel I am not just the daughter-in-law. She takes the same pride in me as she does her own son, my accomplishments are hers.  I didn’t just marry my husband, I gained another family

Jeni P.: My MIL is like another mother to me. She loves me dearly and tells me often. She doesn’t get involved in our life issues unless we invite her to. Because of her unconditional love I look forward to spending time with her often and hearing her life experiences.

Sandra B. (Canada):  I love my (mother-in-law) and appreciate (her) so much.

What about the mothers-in-law you ask?  Don’t worry – they had A LOT to say on the matter.  However, their advice seemed to come from places of POSITIVE experience, as well as some admitted trial and error, I’m sure:

Sherry K. (Canada):  Only give information or feedback if you are asked.
Don’t expect to have equal time at Christmas or other special occasions with your son’s family.  Remember that as a mother-in-law you ALWAYS involve your daughter(s)-in-law in planning family activities and time with the littles.   Maternal grandma’s hold the trump card – let it go when your plans are cancelled or changed last minute.  Remember that your son’s first responsibility is his wife and her happiness, and he walks a tight-rope everyday trying to balance everything.  Give your love and attention to all, and carefully build positive relationships with no favorites!

Colleen M. (Minnesota):  Remember that they are now their own family who need to figure out what works best for them in ALL areas. If they ask, I give them my advice. If not, I keep it to myself(mostly).  If one of my kids comes to me complaining about their in-laws I try to help them see the other point of view.

Karla C. (Minnesota): Be honest and don’t take offense.

Andrea G. (Minnesota):  I just try to learn about what interests they have and find a connection, even if it is a small connection with each one. And sometimes feelings get hurt, but hopefully whatever it is it’s not too big to say sorry.

Darnell N. (Minnesota): I don’t interfere or take sides EVER. I give advice if asked but don’t expect them to use it or feel hurt if they don’t use it. I’m thankful they love their spouses and children and happy they tolerate me!

Camille B. (Canada): I have sons and I remember how annoying it was when my husband’s mother interfered. I don’t ever want my daughter’s in law to have those feeling about me. So I say let your sons grow up. Don’t ever demand that your son check in with you about his girlfriend or wife.

Denise B. (Canada):  Be giving, if you want your daughter-in-law to hold space and respect for you, please reciprocate and hold space and respect for her.

Phew!  That is a lot of great advice.

Any new relationship is hard.   I could be wrong but my guess is that most mothers-in-law genuinely want their sons to be happy and truly want a relationship with the love of their son’s life.  I know that’s what I want.

So mothers-in-law, try a little harder to respect that relationship between your son and his wife.  And daughters-in-law, be patient with your mother-in-law.  She has given you her child and just wants a little window into your life once in a while.

Grandma, Get In The Photo

Lately I’ve been looking through old photo albums – you know the kind with the photos stuck to those “sticky” pages.  There are so many photos of my children; not as many photos of me with my children; and hardly any with my children and their grandma.  After discovering the sadly vacant grandma in the photos, it got me thinking about my own #photomortality as a grandma.    Why wasn’t grandma in more photos?  She was there for almost every major event but still – she’s not in many photos.

I think there might be a few reasons for this:

  • She was probably the one TAKING the photos
  • She was likely in the kitchen PREPARING the food for the family EVENT
  • Her children (me) may have neglected to INVITE her into the photo
  • Her children were so busy taking care of their children that they were lucky to get a photo of the children, let alone GRANDMA too.

I know these things because I can relate to ALL of them.  Granted, I do actually get into quite a few photos with my littles, mostly thanks to my MAD SKILZ with the selfie feature.   It’s just me trying to #GETINTHEPHOTO.  (Actually, check out this big campaign Chatbooks had a while back for moms to #getinthephoto. )

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Selfie – while holding two littles AND watching a movie = MAD SKILZ

“Grandmas in the kitchen” – yes – another thing grandmas do.  They don’t have as much responsibility for the littles and their grown up children want some of moms home cooking.  So as the littles and their parents (and grandpa, of course) are having a great time, grandma’s in the kitchen.

I am guilty of “not inviting grandma into the photo”.  GAH – I hate admitting this.  It’s not like I purposely did NOT invite her, I just didn’t think about it.  As a mom trying to gather her chicks into family photos, I tended to forget that maybe grandma might like a photo with her grandchicks too.  So many regrets about this.

Grandmas, we need to do something about this.  It’s time to take matters into our own hands and #getinthephoto.  Get out of that kitchen, give the camera to your grown-up child, and get in that photo with your littles.   They’ll thank you later.

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My mom with three of her littles – I treasure this picture

I am now on the hunt for a single photo of me with my grandmas – either of them.  I can’t think of one ever being taken.  I so wish I had such a treasure.