family

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.

Fitness

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.

Fitness

Avoiding the Rocking Chair

Last week I went to visit the grandchildren in Ohio.  It was a such a wonderful visit filled with walks and PlayDoh and bubbles, along with a little road trip.   I also had my 51st birthday.   Now I’m not saying that I’m old, however I did feel a little old while I was there.  I was still recovering from a bad fall I took while running (I fall a lot) and I also spent a lot of time getting in and out of the back seat of their minivan.  Rocking Grandma

It got me thinking about aging – physically, so I thought I’d ask our Go Grandmas what they’re doing to avoid that rocking chair.  Here are a few of their tips:

Andrea G. (Minnesota): I walk every day in the summer but I’ll need to find indoor exercise before seasons change.

Valora O. (Minnesota): I walk 2 miles a day plus I lift feed bags!

Susan M.:  Stretch, stretch, stretch – and do some form of exercise at least 3X a week. I dance and do isometric exercises and calisthenics and then always stretch afterward.

Sherry K. (Canada): Yoga! I recommend starting in a small hatha yoga class with a mature instructor that is well-versed in accommodations for injuries, who can help you avoid incorrect/bad positioning.   Youtube Fightermaster Yoga

 

I think they’re all on to something – walking and yoga/stretching seem to be the key.  I do my share of walking/running but I struggle with yoga.   When you’re used to arriving at a destination while running, it becomes difficult to calm your mind and body enough to enjoy the benefits of yoga.  Laura Devine at Real Fit Workout Studio got me started with a few yoga classes and I’ve try to continue it on my own.  I’m definitely a believer, just not committed … at least until now!

I found this great article titled Health Aging into your 80’s and Beyond on the Consumer Reports website.  It lists “5 Keys to a Long and Healthful Life”.

The first key is Manage Your Health.   Ok – busted.  I have high blood pressure that is unmanaged.  I just keep calling it chronic high blood pressure or sometimes I call it “white coat syndrome” .  I should probably “manage that.

The next key is “Keeping Your Body Strong“.  I like this quote:

“Here’s a quick test to find out whether your fitness has deteriorated to a point that puts you at risk: Time how long it takes you to get out of an armchair, walk 10 feet, walk back, and sit down again. A healthy adult older than 60 should be able to do it in 10 seconds or less.”

Score!  I can do that in well under 10 seconds.  It then goes on to list a few things you can do to help:

  • Do 150 minutes of cardio every week
  • Add strength training
  • Keep your balance
  • Stay flexible

Well – I’ve got the cardio down no problem – but I don’t lift weights, I have poor balance (proven by my many falls) and I can barely touch my toes.  Check out the link above to find out what the rest of the KEYS are.

Grandmas – I’ve got some work to do.  How about you?

Adventure, Travel, Uncategorized, Vacation

An Adventure in Time – Where Would You Go?

For this week’s post I asked Go Grandma followers where they would take their littles if they could take them anywhere in the world.  The response was wonderfully overwhelming!  THANK YOU!!  I loved hearing about all of the places that hold warm spots in the hearts of so many grandmas.   Here are some of the places they’d like to go:

Paula J. (Canada)New Zealand – The people were so loving and there’s so much to do outside every day. It’s beautiful and green.

Eva W. Mustus Lake, Saskatchewan – it’s where my brother’s family and mine took our kids camping when they were younger

Frances J. – Prince Edward Island and the east coast of Canada

Sarah L., – I would take them to San Antonio, Texas.    We went there every summer with my family.

Norma A., – On a picinic in Mowhawk Park, Brantford Ontario Canada.

Barbara B., – Upper Michigan

Sandra G., – Yellowstone

Lynnette J., – South Dakota Black Hills or Hawaii – loved it there.

Val O., (Minnesota) – Back to my childhood Island home of Whidbey, Washington to play in the minus tide pools and to dig in the mud for clams

Martha L., (Minnesota) – Disney Cruise

Kimberley F., (Canada) – Disneyworld

Mindi (Colorado) – Puerto Vallarta – to just chill!  No one uses their phone there!!

Andrea G., (Minnesota) – On a cruise with the kids and grandkids.

From a trip to Hawaii to a picnic in a park – our Go Grandmas are adventurous but I’m guessing they just really want to show their littles the places they love and that bring back fond memories for them.

I got to do exactly that this weekend!   As you know, I’ve been missing my littles like CRAZY!! since they moved away.  I finally got an opportunity to go visit them and, given the location of their new home, we decided to make it a double adventure and go back to a few places that hold warm places in my heart.

We spent 10 years in the Southwestern Ontario, Canada area when our children were young and have so many fond memories.  I wanted to share some of the memories with my two daughters-in-law who are always up for a Grandma Adventure (bless their hearts)!

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My adorable daughters-in-law

IMG_9095Our first stop was a historical one in a little town outside of Rochester, New York.  We visited some religiously significant sites for us and then topped the evening off with an amazing outdoor performance – Hill Cumorah Pageant.   So many memories of taking our young boys to this area.  It was pretty nice to be back!IMG_3770

IMG_2697The next day we traveled to our old home town of London, Ontario but not before stopping at Niagara Falls – the Canadian side, of course!IMG_9132

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In London we stayed with old friends who were always so good to our little family.  It was nice to sit around, play games, and just visit.  It was probably pretty boring for my daughters-in-law but they were good sports about it!  They loved hearing stories about their husbands and seeing the places we lived and schools they went to.

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Swinging on the swing that his daddy played on.

Where would you take your littles on a Go Grandma Adventure?

Travel

Making the MOST of a Quick Grandma Visit

We got some great advice this week on our topic – Making the Most of a Quick Visit.  Sometimes our grandchildren just live too darn far away so when we get to see them, we need to make it count!   Here’s what some of our followers had to say about that:

Lorri S, CANADA  – My trips to Ottawa are often for a long weekend only which means ALL granny time!  Sometimes the only thing we do is walk to the park, play Play Dough, snack, nap and REPEAT.  It’s GLORIOUS.

Perfect!  Sounds like when Lorri visits her littles, she plans on doing nothing else but play.

Martha L., MINNESOTA –  Soak it all in.  Love them until you and/or they drop, sleep and repeat.

I think Lorri and Martha are definitely my kind of grandma.  Play hard and nap harder!

Pauline has some great advice on being “present” with your littles:

Pauline V., MINNESOTA – Just listen, listen, listen.  They solve so many dilemmas on their own.  I picked up my 3 1/2 year old grandson from daycare a few weeks ago.  I asked if he wanted to come to my house or go home.  He said he would like to go to Disney World and see Jurassic Park again.   After some thought he responded with “oh, wait a minute – I think they’re closed today.”  So instead we enjoyed his favorite park and I didn’t have to disappoint him.

That is so adorable!

I also asked grandmas what their thoughts were on bringing gifts when they visit their littles.  I kind of thought the response would be mixed.  Like maybe you can overdo it with gifts or maybe the moms found the gifts to overwhelming BUT – I was completely wrong!

Claudia J., MINNESOTA – Gifts are always a good idea!

Andrea G., MINNESOTA – Why not?  I give gifts because it makes me happy.

Sandy C., CANADA – Gifts for sure.  I take something every now and then even if it’s small like sidewalk chalk.

Martha L., MINNESOTA – Of course gifts!  That’s part of the fun of being a grandma.  Spoil them!

Well, gifts it is then.  IMG_9045

Do you have any more tips for Making the Most of a Quick Visit?