Thursday, October 27, 2011

Caring for Grandkids When Mom or Dad is Sick

Last week, our daughter had an operation which was supposed to be pretty routine and turned into something much more extensive, with a cardiac complication that's going to take some time to recover from. We were very happy we were there for the surgery, and ended up being the primary caregivers for our littlest granddaughter for about five days. Whew, we love that child, and she's a ton of work! It's sort of a given that you forget how much work a baby is, but especially those middle of the night, I-miss-my-mommy times were pretty tough.

However, she more than made up for the exhaustion with lots of hugs, kisses, and mischievous grins. She's just so full of personality for a 9-month old! I don't know about other grandmas, but making the transition from caregiver, even for just a few days, back to grandma, is rough. For some reason, after I've been the "mama" for a while, I have a tough time not worrying about the little ones. It usually takes me at least a couple of days to get back into grandma mode and out of "worrying parent" mode.

I'm happy to say, though, that I've successfully made the transition back at this point, and am busily worrying about having enough cool toys for Christmas to make even the pickiest child happy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting the Christmas Deals

Wow, hard to believe it's already time to start making the Thanksgiving menu and ordering the Christmas toys! Actually, I've already been working on that throughout the year, but have a lot of holes to fill. I usually just pick up small things throughout the year as I see them, and occasionally big gifts too if I see the deals. I've found, though, that the very best deals do come right before Christmas.

This article from DealNews gives some data to support this thesis, and I'd truly recommend waiting until just before Christmas to get the really good stuff.  I think the best deal I've gotten was a 32-piece wooden train set that works with the Thomas The Train cars.  Got it for $9.99, including shipping, from Graveyard Mall, one of those closeout Internet sites that occasionally has some great deals.

I believe we ordered it right around a week and a half before Christmas, but it came in plenty of time, and it's been a hit for quite a while.

It's worth waiting for those deals, and starting about November 1, I'll be monitoring the deal sites (,, etc.) for the truly good deals.  One word of caution, you'll need to plan on moving fast when you see a deal.  They often sell out quickly, so be ready to buy when the deal comes along.

Happy gift hunting, Grandparents!

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Favorite Book Series for an Elementary Age Child

If you've got a younger elementary age child who loves to read, our 6-year-old has a recommendation for her new favorite book series, The Puppy Place.  These books are so enjoyable, she can hardly put them down, and has to have at least two a week to read!  Luckily, we have a library nearby, and can put them on hold.  If you're looking for a kid gift for a girl or a boy who loves dogs, these books just might fill the bill!

Weekend With Our Girls

Whew!  It was a crazy weekend at the supergrandkids household, with a hunter education class being taught by Papa, a wedding to attend, three services of church for me to play for, and a couple of little sweeties to spend the weekend with us!  We had a wonderful time though, and it made me think about chaos and quiet. 

When our girls are with us, whether it's the baby, or the two older girls, our house is crazy.  We like to do crafts, bake, make elaborate pretend villages, and read books by the hour.  We also love to go to the library, the zoo, the park, and so many other places.  Life's a whirlwind, and our house reflects it when the girls leave.

At that point, things get really quiet again, we pick up the house, the toys get put away, and our lives go back to a more orderly schedule.  It's a lot different than being a parent, when you got so caught up in the chaos that after a while, you don't even notice it.  When you're a grandparent, you truly embrace the tornado, and though it's tiring, it's so rewarding.  I think, too, that the quiet times make the crazy times better. 

Grandparenting reminds me a lot of that old game, freeze tag, where you run and run until someone shouts, "Freeze!"  Then, you stop and wait, maybe catch your breath.  I'm finding, though, that in the midst of the chaos, I'd like to freeze the craziness for just a bit and just take it all in.  These are wonderful times, and they'll be over too soon. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On Getting Things Done

This isn't a grandkid post per se, but even us grandparents have to get stuff done, so that we can have enough money to buy those grandkid gifts we love. 

I've been pondering lately how to get things done when you're either too sleepy, too distracted, or just plain don't feel like working on something.  Here are some suggestions from my experience:

  • Don't try to do the hardest thing first.  Ease your way into your day with some less than brainy work if you can.  I've found this to be very helpful in getting the old brain up and running - start with something basic and menial and then work up to harder stuff.
  • Help someone else out.  I subscribe to a Web Designers board where I can sometimes provide some insight into an issue that someone else has been struggling with.  I can't say why, but helping someone else is extremely invigorating!
  • Put on some great music.  This is a basic one, but I've found that the right music can really change my mindset a lot.  Lately, I've been enjoying Shalom Jerusalem by Paul Wilbur - energizing and nice.
  • Take the hardest problems and just put them in front of your eyes for a while.  This is an amazing fix that I've found works more often than I would have thought.  If I'm really stuck on a problem and really, really don't want to deal with it, I'll just put the code for it on one of my screens, and look at it from time to time while I'm doing other work.  For some reason, this gets the problem into the back of my mind, and I'll come up with a fix at an odd moment.
  • Find something to succeed at.  If you've been struggling with one particular issue, put it down, and succeed at another one.  Another mystery, but success seems to engender success, and getting one thing right seems to help with the others.
  • Probably the most important one I've found though is to just get started.  Set a timer for 20 or 25 minutes (the Pomodoro method) and tell yourself you'll only work for that amount of time.  It's amazing what you can do in that amount of time, and how much your whole outlook can change.

And now, back to our regular grandkid programming...