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?



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?


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.


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.


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.

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?