Is That Your Mom?

Meet My Grandma!

Is she your Mother? How many times have you over heard that question from your grandchild’s playmate or classmate and held your breath, awaiting their reply? Seems grandparents are younger and younger these days so having to ask the question to clarify if you’re Mom or Grand Mom may be totally within the realm of possibilities. Besides, age is irrelevant to most kids and only as they get older do they see that you look, act or speak “older” than their own parents. I believe I don’t hold my breath quite as often as I first did in those early days. And I did so more in anticipation of the GP being uncomfortable answering or feeling the need to explain his living circumstances. Then I realized I was projecting my own feelings from “way back when”.
You see, I too was raised by my grandparents in a time when it was far less common. And I distinctly remember those classmates who seemed to take pleasure in reminding me that my grandparents were not my “real parents”.
The Grand Prince always seems to handle this question in stride, answering without hesitation “that’s my Nana”. He’s lucky in that he knows and sees his Mom on a regular basis so the lines are clearly defined. We’ve always been honest and upfront about the circumstances that brought him to live with us and though we’re not so naive as to think he’ll sail through adolescence without questions of identity, we strongly feel he’s got a good foundation. I think that’s the best gift we can give our grandchildren; honesty tempered with love and sincerity. If you struggle with the ‘hows, whys and whens” of sharing your grandchild’s life circumstance, please seek professional counseling. There are many many wonderful people available to help you work through the words and ways of imparting information to your grandkids. Remember, your grandchildren’s friends want to hang out with them because they’re simply great kids. Not because you’re 33 and can wear “skinny jeans”. Not to say you couldn’t wear them, but some things are better left to the young. 🙂
Happy Sunday!

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After School Crazed

Do It All Diva!


We’ve finally settled into the routine of a school schedule, reluctantly leaving behind the lazier ways of summer and looking forward to a productive and fun school year. New teacher, new friends, new adventures.
It’s the first week of November so we’ve got it down pat by now. What I hadn’t recalled, when raising our other kiddos, was the after school commitments and sports activities and how the “run around cycle” wreaks havoc on the aforementioned schedule. After school activities deplete your energy and drain your gas tank; tosses any idea of cozy family dinners out the window and drives up stock in Chef-Boy-Ardee and Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese. You can pretty much bank on being in bed 10 minutes after the boy goes down for the night and then asleep with the remote in your hand or the book not even opened on your lap.
At 9:30PM.
Yikes!
Let’s see, there’s band and clarinet lessons on Monday. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday bring youth football practice and squeezing in the school newspaper project on Wednesday afternoons and before practice on Thursdays. Game day is on Sunday. Oh! The dog trainer comes on Saturday mornings. Yes, we got a dog. A puppy who is now 8 months old. And a Lab. A rambunctious Lab, to say the least. We’ll save that for another blog post. The Spouse and I have learned the fine art of division. Not mathematically speaking, more along the lines of “you take football, I’ll do band and newspaper days and we’ll both watch the Sunday games.” Anyhow, the football program ends this weekend (we’re in the championship game by the way! Undefeated to boot! WOOHOO!) so after that we get to breathe a tad easier a couple of days a week.
Until basketball season starts in January. Hmmm.

Happy Friday all!

Snow Day Mondays

winter-09-016Snow days are the best. Kids cheer when the announcement comes  and so do we who are so lucky as to be employed in an arena where snow days are possible. And snow days on Monday are the bomb! An instant three day weekend; a shortened work week. Ah such bliss in the midst of snow, freezing temperatures and Spring too far off in the distance for my taste, despite having put February behind us. And today, March came in like a lion.

Snow days bring no schedules to follow, no deadlines to meet, no work to get done.  I suppose one could clean the bathtub or rearrange the linen closet but why waste a good snow day on that! How about lazing on the couch with the leftover Sunday Globe? In your pj’s? All day?  Playing Scrabble online…for hours? Flipping through old family photo albums? Baking cookies? (diet be damned) Sipping plum tea with a biscotti on the side? Watching the kids pummeling each other with snowballs? How about any and all of the above?

Oh and did I mention the Spouse shoveled us out so I didn’t even have to go outside and brave the very elements that offered up an extra day of rest.

I’m a lucky woman. Yes siree.

Happy snow day Monday all!

School Days


Despite the summer temperatures, my brain whispers “Fall”. Why? Because it’s September and back to school time. I still get those pre school butterflies as memories of sweaters, new shoes and backpacks find themselves occupying my mind. My grandson (a.k.a. the Grand Prince) began his third year at our neighborhood elementary school last week. I believe we were both ready for him to begin, having crammed in vacations, educational day trips, play dates, numerous barbecues with family and friends, a few birthday parties, pool parties and a smattering of lazy, couch potato days, the latter of which was deemed a necessity by moi simply to take a breath; all between mid June and August 31st. Whew! No wonder we were starving for a little structure and schedules!

Returning to school takes some preparation, even for the ‘seasoned’ parent and child. There will be new clothes, shoes, backpacks and lunch boxes to buy. Perhaps finishing up that last book on the summer reading list and reorganizing the child’s desk to reflect the transition from ‘catch all’ to workspace. This is also a good time to sort through your child’s summer or fall clothes and deliver the no-way-this-fits-pile to your local consignment shop.

School supplies must fit into your budget as well. Teachers will usually send home a welcome letter to their students with a list of needed supplies as well as any donations much needed and appreciated for the classroom. For your older children, it’s best to wait until school begins to accommodate the requirements of more than one teacher. The Marilyn Manson or High School Musical three ring binder your child just had to have would be frowned upon when a plain white one was required.

Those lazy days of summer when sleeping past the alarm wasn’t a worry is now a very big deal. We all relax our schedules over the summer break and getting back on track for the fall transition can be a bit of a struggle. I always begin a good week to ten days before the official start of school by regulating bedtime. As with any new routine it’s not always well received, however, simply talking about the need for rest and the exciting new year ahead prepares children and allows them the ‘buy in’. I give the Grand Prince a little wiggle room with bedtime (“okay bud, you choose. 7:45? or 8:00?) I know, it’s a no brainer and he’s only 7 and can tell time but the key is HE gets to choose instead of me or the Spouse dictating a time.

The same goes for setting the morning alarm. Give yourself and your child the time you need in the mornings for breakfast, personal hygiene routines, dressing etc.
It’s crucial if, like me, you’re simply not a morning person or you can’t form a complete sentence without three cups of coffee under your belt. The Grand Prince takes his shower the night prior, decides on the day’s attire, gets his backpack ready with paperwork and snacks and hung on the newel post while I set a place for breakfast. The less you have to squeeze into your morning, the smoother it goes for everyone.

And on that first day of school, provided your child’s not horrified at the idea of being seen with you as their friends look on, you can get a hug, a smile and a “see you after school!” as they exit the car and into the world of academia, happy and ready to meet the day.

To Velcro or Not To Velcro, that is the question!

sneakersTeaching a child to tie his or her shoes has always been an area of procrastination and distaste for me. I don’t know why. I can’t explain it. Perhaps I was permanently scarred by my own parents when they taught me but I have no memory of the actual act. That in itself convinces me it was traumatic. The idea of the tedious steps to explain the process, the repeated practice runs, the patience and required motor skills (of which my mild arthritis objects!) is enough to send this woman running for the first pair of Velcro sneakers Target has to offer.
My oldest daughter is, in fact, the only child I taught to tie her own shoes and that was using the famed bunny ear method. Of course those of the more sophisticated loop method would sneer at the suggestion of bunny ears, however, to this very day Daughter One continues contently to form her laces into bunny ears and voila! Sneakers tied. She also taught her younger brother and sister. Ha!
Suffice it to say the day came recently, as I knew it would, when my grandson asked the dreaded question. “Nan? Will you teach me to tie my sneakers?” My breath ceases. “Oh no!” I think to myself. “Isn’t he happy with the Velcro anymore?” “Are the kids teasing him because he straps instead of looping!!?” “Just when do I fit in the HOURS it will take for me to teach him without requiring a Xanax before each excruciating session!?” His grandfather, overhearing the request, stealthily moves to the kitchen and out to the back deck. “Coward” I mouth over my shoulder as he smiles back at me.
Taking a breath, I manage a smile, as all grandmothers and mothers do at these moments, and reply with the barest quiver in my voice, “Sure, buddy. We’ll start tomorrow!” And so we did.
We’re still working on it, I’m happy to report. And we are using the bunny ear method. Of course the laces come untied within 90 seconds of his securing them, looking more like limp noodles than neat little bunny ears knotted precisely. But precision will come and my patience is serving me far better than I thought. My arthritis balks, but I ignore it.
Acceptance is a marvelous thing, I’ve learned. My grandson teaches me a new found enthusiasm for things I once found to be a dreaded chore and I revel in his accomplishments and my own.
Soon we will tackle the art of the double knot; how to tie one and more importantly, how to untie one.

A Day in The Life of A GRG* (*grandparent raising grandchild)

The birthday invitation was for two o’clock on a Saturday sent by a classmate of my grandson. I was thrilled he had adjusted well to kindergarten; making new friends, discovering the joys of learning and life beyond the world of our friendly little neighborhood.

Now the next social step presented itself, the birthday party. I telephoned our RSVP while my grandson bubbled with excitement about the prospect of seeing his friends outside of school and having fun at the local roller skating rink. I, on the other hand, was a little hesitant. My memories of roller rink birthday parties attended with my children were on par with my first visit to the periodontist. However, this event wasn’t about me, it was about my grandson enjoying social time with his peers. Off we go to the local toy store, spend 35 minutes deciding and with much negotiation we at last have a gift purchased, wrapped and in hand.

On the appointed day, we arrive five minutes early (teaching children social graces such as promptness is high on my priority list) and the rush of memory hits me the instant the door closes behind us. We’re greeted by blaring rock and hip-hop music, flashing lights, and scores of children flying by in haphazard direction on 4, 6, or 8 wheels. The only order is inside the rink itself. “Skaters in clockwise circle only please” crackles over the PA system. Before us are row upon row of tables with reserved signs; Isaiah’s Party, Mia’s Party, Olivia’s party all forming a continuous domino like line. We find our host’s family table and smile pleasantries and exchange thank yous then off we go to the rental counter and skates that bear the wear of thousands of children’s feet. Would it be paranoid to pour hand sanitizer on the inner soles? Skates are fitted and it’s onto the wooden rink floor, dodging the experienced and blending with the ‘don’t let me’ fall crowd. I, skate less, and grandson on wheels makes a difficult pair. At 5 yrs old he’s coordinated enough but his inexperience on wheels and the deafening din of the music makes it impossible for any instruction so we settle for “I’ll stand still and you pull me Nana” mode. Naturally, his idea, not mine. Needless to say, once around the rink was the limit for me and his frustration was beginning to show so we decided to return the skates and check back at the table for party food.

The usual fare greeted us. Pizza and drinks delivered just minutes before and served on Star Wars matching plates and cups with a cake sporting Darth Vader and Yoda. Who would have thought Star Wars was back in fashion? All gifts are quickly packed up at parties these days which is a blessing and avoids the occasional teary child wanting to ‘help’ open them and several more ripping at the toys to be the first to play and leaving the birthday child in a meltdown.

A little more time for skating or arcade games (we opted for the latter and had a blast race car driving!) and then it was done. Party over. An hour and a half had passed as I glanced at my watch and offered a silent prayer as the birthday Mom handed out goodie bags. (*note, these are a must and require a computer generated thank you note inside) Once more we smiled and exchanged thank yous to kids and parents alike. I sifted through a Mt Helen’s size pile of coats to find ours, congratulated the birthday boy and ran for the nearest exit sign to the sunshine beyond. Hand and hand we walked to the car and my grandson beamed up a smile to me, “Nana? Wasn’t that cool? I had a great time!”

And then it came as I knew it would. “Can I have my birthday at the roller rink?” That sweet face and set of deep dimples almost had me but I managed the age old reply created by and for all grandparents.

“We’ll see.” And then I smiled.