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.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekend with Our Littlest

We had a wonderful weekend with our littlest granddaughter.  She's growing so fast, and I'm just amazed at how well she can communicate, even though she only says a few words so far.  She brought me an empty bottle at one point, crawled up into my lap, and then pushed my hand over to the bottle.  I told her it was empty, and she kept pushing my hand over to the bottle, looking at me like I was just a little dense.  I finally realized she wanted a bottle, and was trying to get across to her slightly slow grandma that she was hungry.  What a smartie she is! 

I know, we all think our grandkids are the cutest and the smartest, and isn't it great for them to have such big fans? 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Another Reason Grandkids are the Best

We were talking this morning about how much we love the grandkids, and how they're just like more kids to us.  It occurred to me a bit later, as we were enjoying our unhurried morning routine to get ready for work, that one of the good things about being grandparents is not having to get the little ones ready for school.  Those morning rushes out the door were usually stressful, and I can't say that I miss the hurry-hurry moments of getting on shoes, finding backpacks, signing permission slips, etc.  So, chalk another one up to the grandparent side - good times with the kiddos without the morning rush. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why I Love Valentines Day

My Baby Boy
I love Valentines Day.  The main reason is that my wonderful son was born on Valentines Day, coming up on 26 years ago.  This has made Valentines pretty special to me ever since.  We've had heart-shaped cakes and cookies, and all kinds of Valentines themes to go with his birthday, and he's always been a good sport about sharing his birthday with the sappiest of holidays.

Don't know about other grandmas, but I miss picking out and helping the kids address their school Valentines.  These days, I like to buy gifts for the girls, and of course a birthday gift for my son.

Remember the Valentines we used to give as kids?  We used to make decorated Valentine mailboxes, covered with little bits of tissue paper formed on the end of our pencils, and get so many fun cards and pieces of candy.  I can almost taste the little candy hearts we'd get in the envelopes.  Yum.

Anyone else remember Valentines fondly?  What do you do with your grandkids for Valentines?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Two Favorite TV Shows

I've already mentioned one of my current favorites, Downton Abbey.  It's a soap opera for those who like their action slow-moving and their heroines with a stiff upper lip. World War I, beautiful costumes, upstairs/'s just great stuff.

My other particular favorite is Swamp People, and my favorite person on the show is Liz, the working mom/gator hunter.  She's the one who shoots the alligators, after she and her partner track them down.  Troy, the guy who pulls the string, is always yelling at her to "Shoot it, Elizabeth, shoot it!"  She just keeps her cool, and takes the shot when it comes around.  For some reason, I especially admire her well-worn Frontier City ball cap.  She manages to be a great mom, and a kick-butt gator hunter. 

I mentioned on Facebook a week or so ago that I'm a true member of both the 99 and the 1.  I think my two favorite TV shows back this up.  If you're looking for some 99% entertainment, I'd highly recommend Swamp People.*

Note to my daughter:  Do not, repeat, do not watch this show.  I know you hate alligators, and even the stuffed ones at Cabelas freak you out.  This is not a good program for you.  For everyone else, check it out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sharing Kids' Names

Here's a question for you grandma bloggers, and other bloggers too - how do you decide how much info to share about your kiddos?  I've been sharing pictures, general locations, and use pseudonyms for the grandkids, but I feel a little silly with the pseudonyms.  I've seen some people use made-up nicknames, and some people use first names only.  How do you decide what to reveal?  Do you see any dangers or problems in revealing first names, general locations, etc.?  I'd appreciate your thoughts.  Thanks!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Remember When

I was listening this morning to the Alan Jackson song, "Remember When," which is quite a lovely song, but it made me think of something of a pet peeve I have.  Here are the lyrics I'm talking about:

Remember when
we said when we turned grey
when the children grow up and move away
we won't be sad
we'll be glad
for all the life we've had
and we'll remember when

A lovely sentiment, right?  When you're younger and think about getting old, it seems that you plan to sit around and reminisce about what you did when you were "not old."  Turns out, not so much.  A recent Gallup poll showed that the older people get, the happier they are.  I'm guessing it's not because they're sitting around reminiscing about how happy they used to be.  Nope, it's because older people have more fun.  Now, this is a secret that we used to keep amongst ourselves, but of course, the baby boomers are getting older, and they can't keep their mouths shut, so word's getting out.  Getting older is fun!  The kids moved away, so we get the house to ourselves.  We get to set our own schedules more and more, and some of us have even retired (not us yet, but someday!).  We get to travel more, to places we want to go.  We've also learned a few things, and, one of the most important things, we have grandkids.  Yep, those cute little critters are a key to happiness, in my book.  So, we don't sit around thinking about what fun we had 20 years ago.  Nope, we think about what a great time we had last weekend, and how much fun we're going to have today! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Great Birthday Weekend

Baby Loves Her Cake and Went At It Face First
Whew, what a weekend we had this past weekend!  The baby turned 1, and we all trekked to Kansas City for her birthday party.  We picked up the 4-year-old from school, enjoyed an afternoon with her and her superspy stuffed kitty, Cat McMissile, picked up the older one from school, and headed out.  We watched DVDs (everyone except Papa, who was driving), stopped off at Emporia for some Freddy's, and got to KC in time for bed.  Then, we started the whirlwind weekend of partying.

Baby loved her cake, as did the 30 people who also attended.  Her party theme was "Hungry Little Caterpillar" and it was adorable.  She had three baby friends come to play, and they had fun too.
Pretty Cake Her Mom Made

My parents and son also came for the day on Saturday, so it was a full house.  On Sunday, we all got up and went to church, and then trekked back home to Wichita for some rest! 

What a joy to participate in a birthday like this - being a grandparent is really so much fun.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Downton Abbey - or How to Tell if a Show is "Crunchy Gravel"

We interrupt stories about grandkids to bring you this message about my current favorite show, Downton Abbey.  If you haven't seen it yet, go watch it.  Watch it now.  Then come back.

Okay.  Now, I happen to love the entire genre of "crunchy gravel," so called because there are lots of driveways with carriages that drive up and make lots of noise on that wonderful gravel.  It usually means it's a costume drama, set at least 100 years back, but I believe there should be a few more qualifications to be called fully crunchy gravel.  Here they are:

1. Horse-drawn carriages must be the primary mode of transportation.  Downton Abbey has horses, and carriages, but it's now 1916 on the show, and there are a number of "horseless carriages."  Horses being an important part of crunchy gravel for fans, this is a drawback to Downton Abbey.  We crunchy lovers also love horses, so more carriages and fewer cars, please.
2. String quartets supply the primary background music to a proper crunchy gravel.  There can be occasional simple piano accompaniment, with singing by a slightly off-key secondary character, but string quartets are essential.  They provide the appropriate quiet pace that we love so much.  Once again, Downton Abbey doesn't quite match up here, as they have an appalling attachment to full symphonic scores.  A little enthusiastic, Downton.
3. The main character's making a good marriage should be the absolute basis to the show's plot.  Other subplots are allowed, but marital status is of upmost importance to the character.  Wars are ever so slightly interesting, in that they might separate our character from her intended, but, mostly, we want marriages, or at least engagements.  Downton's given us a couple of engagements so far, but we really need more to keep our interest.
4. Colin Firth should be the leading man.  We don't care how old he is, we'll take him.  Downton Abbey: no Colin Firth.  There's definitely a lack there.

All in all, I'd have to say that Downton Abbey needs to work a bit harder if it wants to call itself a true crunchy gravel.  Not to say it's not the best TV you'll see all year.  If only Colin Firth were in it. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Sweet Supergrandkid

Today's my birthday, and my little 4-year-old granddaughter called a few minutes ago to wish me a happy birthday.  She's a real sweetheart, always giving hugs and cuddles.  We talked about the ice cream we're going to have on Sunday, and she of course wants her favorite, vanilla.  Vanilla it is.  Thanks, sweetie!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas - A Week Late

We had Christmas a week late around our house, but wow did we have a good time, all the same.  Our biggest granddaughter got a magic set, the 4-year-old got a pretend RV, and the baby got a stroller/walker.  Three great-grandparents and three dogs added to the fun.  It was chaos, and not even controlled chaos!  Our son and his two daughters spent the night on Saturday night, and our daughter, son-in-law, and the baby were here all weekend.  Whew.

I ended up coming down with a virus that the baby had been struggling with, and we thought she was done with, but it was totally worth it.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!