Friday, May 4, 2012

What Grandmas Really Want for Mother's Day

We've all seen the ads and articles that come around this time of year - What Mom Really Wants for Mother's Day.  Well, since grandmas are mothers too, I thought I'd come up with a list of what grandmas truly want for Mother's Day, and a few things we most decidedly do not want.

What We Really Don't Want:

1. A store-bought card that the child supposedly picked out.  Meh, it's okay, but I like hand-drawn better, even if it's just a couple of marks from a crayon.

2. Chocolates.  Maybe it's just me, but I'm not a huge chocolate fan, and they'll just sit around the house. Now, if it were a gift certificate for my favorite Italian restaurant, that would be great.  Garlic bread is much better in my book than chocolates.

3. Cut flowers.  Something I could actually plant in the garden would be much better, since I can enjoy it for a lot longer. 

What We Really Like: 

1. Sidewalk chalk decorations for our home.  We've been enjoying a chalk ant-town that our older girls made for us a couple of weeks ago.  It's on the back patio, and I've been carefully stepping over the ant Walmart (with drive-thru window for easy ant prescription pickup) for multiple days now.  Love, love, love it.  The girls spent quite a bit of time on this, and we sure have enjoyed it.

2. Saying Grandma.  The baby's been saying Papa for a month or so now, and it would be wonderful if she could say Grandma too.  A little intensive language instruction would be wonderful.  Maybe I'll try Skyping with her and just repeating it over and over while her mom's in the shower. 

3. Time.  April's been a busy month for us, as the older girl's mom has been out of town, so we've been doing lots of extra kid care.  What I've really enjoyed the most has been picking up the girls most every day after school.  I get to talk to them about their days, maybe stop by the library, and just spend quality time.  We've often said that in an ideal world, we'd get about an hour a day to just spend with the grandkids.  I'll miss the school pickups. 

4. An iPad.  Okay, just throwing that one in there.  Even grandmas like gadgets. 

So, in summary, store-bought cards, chocolates, cut flowers, bad.  Things grandkids actually do, plus iPads, good.  Now you know.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Weird Things that Freak Out my Grandkids

Yesterday, we were hanging out at the house after church with the two older granddaughters, getting ready to go to the mall for the Easter dress hunt.  By the way, whew, it was exhausting, but we got some really cute dresses, and Easter hats and shoes as well.  Great-grandma came along and helped pick them out. 

Anyway, before we went shopping, the 6-year-old came out of the bathroom with a hunting and fishing magazine that Papa had in there, and she had a funny expression on her face.  She said, "I don't know if you know it, but on the back of this magazine, there's a picture of a guy holding a fish with his hand in its mouth!"  I'm not sure if she thought the fish was biting the man, or maybe the guy was being mean to the fish by holding its mouth, or if it was just a funny way to hold a fish.  At any rate, it kind of freaked her out.  Papa assured her that this is fairly standard fish-holding procedure, and we went on from there.

Then, a few minutes later, the 4-year-old was sitting on the floor with me, and started just plucking at my socks in a curious way.  I should note that I was wearing knee-high hose.  She asked me several times what I was wearing on my feet, and I kept saying they were my hose.  She finally asked if I could take them off, after plucking at them a few more times.  For some reason, they just seemed overly weird to her, like some kind of strange, sort of see-through sock.  I'm thinking that she hasn't seen hose much, since under-40s don't wear hose these days, but I wear them very frequently with slacks.  At any rate, she was pretty weirded out.

So, these are things that freak my grandkids out.  They love the bats at our zoo, though, and have begun naming the spiders that hang around outside.  All in all, I think they're doing all right.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Reading a Book on Skype

We were Skyping with the 14-month-old the other day and even though she was in kind of a grouchy mood, she still wanted to wave and say hi to us.  One of her favorite things to do is read books, and even when she's in the worst mood, a book will cheer her up.  Her mom asked her to go get Goodnight Gorilla.  She went and got it, and turned the pages to look at each page with us.  Then she tried to hand it to me to read to her. 

I love that she feels like we're close enough on the computer to read a book to her.  Unfortunately, she's big on turning the pages herself, so grabbing one of our books and reading it to her over Skype probably isn't going to work at this point. 

Remember when we imagined TV phones?  To our grandkids, it's simple reality.  Good times.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Power of Grandparenting features another outtake from Anne Lamott's new book about her grandson (note to self: I must read more Anne Lamott books!), this one about her little grandson being in the ER, while she waited at home for news about how he was doing.  This is such a familiar story to most of us grandparents: we sometimes feel so powerless to help the people we love so much. 

Her story about how she trusted God in this situation was so inspiring, and it made me think about the ways we can truly have an effect on our grandkids' lives.  Yesterday, our 6-year-old got to read out of her Bible during children's church (Matthew 28:19-20), and she was so glad she brought her Bible with her, and that she could read it well.  What a joy to have bought that Bible for her this past Christmas, and to have worked with her on her reading over the years.  We're not with her every day to encourage her to read it, but buying a really interesting and age-appropriate Bible has helped her to enjoy it more.

We're the influencers in our grandkids' lives, not the decision-makers that we were with our own kids.  This may seem like a pretty powerless situation for us, but don't underestimate the long-term effects.  We won't truly know how much we affected our grandkids until they're grown, but I believe the influencing is worth the effort.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sharp Objects

A good question today in, how old do kids need to be before they help with the cooking, and more importantly, with the sharp knives?  We had some friends who home-schooled while our kids were growing up, and their older two kids were making full meals for the family by the time they were 10.  My kids can now make full meals, at 28 and 26, but I don't think they could when they were 10. 

The grandkids, however, really want to learn how to do things around our house, and both older girls helped make a pizza last week, adding flour to the mixer for the pizza dough (with many reminders about keeping fingers away from the moving bread hook), and of course, adding the ingredients to the pizza itself. 

The oldest has been working on a puzzle with Papa, and they had glued it together a few weeks ago, getting it ready to hang on the wall.  She decided that it was time to add the yardstick to the back so that she could get it hung up in her room at her Mom's.  She and Papa went outside, found a yardstick, and set to work cutting the end off to make it fit on the back of the puzzle.  I was only slightly surprised to see that Papa had let her use a hand saw, with a lot of supervision, to do the cutting.  He was holding the yardstick on one end, had positioned her hands appropriately for holding the wood and the saw, and was making sure she cut very carefully.  She was one proud kid when it was done, and I'm sure the puzzle will look great on her wall.  I would like to point out that she is a very careful 6-year-old, nearly 7, and there's absolutely no way I would let the 4-year-old even close to a hand saw. 

It is nice for kids to learn to do things they didn't think they could do, and the feeling of pride they get when they've accomplished something new is really wonderful.  What do you think?  How soon did you let your kids/grandkids use kitchen knives or other scary items? 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reading With Grandkids

I've mentioned before that we're big reading fans, and love to take our older two granddaughters to the library.  They're finally getting used to the idea that you don't buy books at the library; you borrow them.  The oldest has started on The Mouse and The Motorcycle series, and she's just loving it.  The 4-year-old is a fan of Mo Willems and his Pig and Elephant books.  I have to admit, I think they're just hilarious too.  Here's a link to Mo's Pigeon Presents Web site, with links to some of the best books.  We've got "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Schoolbus" on hold at the library now, and we can't wait to read it.

If you and your grandkids don't use the library yet, I highly recommend it, and the big secret to really enjoying it is the hold system.  Our local library has a good Web site that lets us search for books and put them on hold.  We'll find the ones we're looking for, and just wait for them to become available.  It's let us enjoy so many books that we never could have before.

The 6-year-old mentioned last week that she'd like that new book by Dr. Seuss, "The Lorax."  I actually remember this one from when I was a kid, so I explained to her that it wasn't new (she thought it was because of the movie coming out) but we put it on hold, and can't wait to read it this week.

Love, love, love the library.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Writer Becomes a Grandma

I thoroughly enjoyed this article about writer Anne Lamott's experiences as a first-time grandma.  I particularly enjoy her saying how addictive being with her grandson is, and how much she wants to be with him again.

"This is the one fly in the grandma ointment – the total love addiction," she writes. "The highest highs, and then withdrawal, craving, scheming to get another fix. All I do is wait for another chance to be with the baby. He has basically ruined my life."
It's amazing how universal an experience grandparenting is, and how difficult it is to explain to someone who hasn't enjoyed it yet.  Welcome to the club, Anne, you're going to love it.