January Blues No More

Post holidays! Don’t we all welcome the days AFTER the holiday just as much as the celebrations themselves? I certainly do. The rush, the hustle and bustle, the cleaning, cooking, buying, wrapping, planning, ack! Endless. At least it seems so and then..BAM. It’s here and over. The decorations are packed away for another year, the household back in it’s usual order and we in our routine once more. I use to not be as welcoming of this post-holiday time. January felt like a let down when the children were younger. All I could see was a long winter ahead with anxious thoughts of how to keep them all busy when it was too cold for outdoor play or we were snowed in or not enough extra cash for a family night out. The prospect of two plus months managing three children with a healthy sibling rivalry, little money and a New England winter was not conducive to a happy Mom. However, I’m older and wiser now. I relish this time. Time for me to relax on Sunday afternoons, to play board games with the GP, to take long naps on those snowed in days or just cook up a storm as another rages outside my window. To appreciate the sight of the tiny white lights that still adorn the fence and front door of the house as I drive up after a long day at work, knowing my family is safe inside, something yummy waiting to fill our bellies and warm fleece blankets to cuddle with together until the Sand Man arrives.
These are a few of my favorite things.
Happy Tuesday!

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The Dentist IS My Friend (a mantra)

I’ll admit, I have a teeny weeny dental phobia. Okay, maybe more than teeny weeny but I’ve managed over the years to overcome it, for the most part, at least enough to get the necessary dental work done. I even had peridontal surgery! But that’s another post.

I sit here typing with a gaping hole in my mouth ..and a maritni by my side. After much pleading with my patient, compassionate, well skilled dentist to please replace (which means re-glue) that crown into place ONE more time, he finally convinced me it just ain’t happening and the tooth would need to be extracted in prep for a ……..dental implant. Lord, I just can’t think about it without breaking into a cold sweat. Yet when the time comes, I’ll bite the bullet..possibly his fingers….and do it.

My reason for bringing this to your attention is how I made the decision when my kids were quite young that they NOT be burdened with the same disdain for the dentist as I was. You see, when I was growing up we didn’t have dental insurance and so were only sent to the dentist in “emergency” situations. Not a fun way to establish a positive, trusted relationship with a man who you saw only when you were in pain! And so my children first saw the dentist at age 3 and I was quite diligent about bi annual cleanings and sealants, preventive care and braces. The whole enchilada.

And I continue that regimen with the GP. In fact he ASKS when his next cleaning is! He eagerly strides through the door never noting or commenting about the antiseptic smell that makes me nauseous. He smiles at the receptionist, flops in a chair with ease and comfort and hops up when his name is called like he’s first in line at the burger joint with a free coupon! And then turns to tell me as I rise to accompany him, “I’m good Nan..I’ll be right out”. I smile and nod, turn back to my chair and magazine and then think I’ve done something right here and he won’t feel the need for a martini after a dental visit.

Hey! maybe he’ll opt for dental school and I can get my dentures for free! Now there’s a thought!

Happy Thursday.
Love and Light.

He’s Being Eight..

eightI’m very fortunate to have extensive experience facilitating parenting education groups as well as many years working in a social service agency. Both of these situations have afforded me wonderful resources in terms of access to people who work with children and have a wealth of knowledge around child development issues. It’s a resource I’ve tapped multiple times over the years.
With all this knowledge and resources at my fingertips, one would think I’d have a handle on just about any situation that arises when one is parenting a child.
Wrong. I don’t.
Case in point. The GrandPrince (grandson approaching eight years old in a few weeks) recently was behaving in a manner that was, well, not himself. He was flippant, a bit combative, sulky and challenged almost every statement or decision I made insisting on knowing the ‘why’ of each one and loudly voicing his reasons as to why it should or should not happen.
Now I have a pretty democratic parenting style. I know not to get pulled into power struggles, the importance of giving choices, when to set boundaries and limits and respecting a child’s feelings. But this kid was pushing my buttons big time!
I talked to the Spouse about the GP’s behavior and he was as stumped as I was. It was simply out of character for him. The light bulb went off for both of us at the same time.
He must have some dormant feelings he’s not dealing with about his adoption/living situation/mother/sister/not having a traditional family, etc, etc. You name it, we came up with it. We immediately put our head’s together to determine a strategy that would help to narrow down what could be bothering our grandson and how best to support him and encourage him to share his feelings with us.
Given my access to the above mentioned resources, I spoke to a dear friend who happens to be a fabulous social worker with a number of years in the field working with children and families. I listed all the behaviors and the possibilities for this acting out that had changed our usual compliant, good natured grandson into an irritating, restless, sullen stranger. She listened quite attentively, nodding appropriately and then sat back a minute before replying.
“I can see how upsetting this is for you, and how perplexing too. Have you thought that perhaps he’s just being an eight year old?”
I blinked. And blinked again. I was complicating things by overlooking the simplicity of them. I dug out some child development books and lo and behold I could have inserted his name right under “Your Eight Year Old’s Social/Emotional Development”.
My point in all this is, as grandparents raising our grandchildren we are at times hell bent, I believe, to make life as ‘normal’ as possible for them to make up for what they don’t have; that traditional Mom and Dad who are age appropriate and are just like the parents of all their friends.
Truth is, we’re not a traditional family, but we *are* a family. A loving, caring, nurturing, supportive family. And yes, our circumstances are different from the traditional families on the block and with that comes, at times, issues that must be addressed, questions answered, feelings expressed and dealt with. But most of the time, we’re just like everyone else who’s raising a child and trying to do the best they can to help that child grow to be a happy, confident, loving, caring human being.
It’s not always about the differences, sometimes it’s just about being eight. Happy Birthday, kiddo.

Happy Friday
.

What’s For Dinner?

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How many times have we heard that inquiry over the years? More importantly, how many times has the reply been one that brought a cheer instead of a frown attached to a groan? I’ve come to believe that nearly 8 yr old boys can sustain themselves on cheeseburgers, mac and cheese (boxed only), peanut butter on toast and frozen waffles (warmed in the toaster that is).
I try my best not to make meal time a battlefield. It causes stress around a time that should be relaxing and facilitates a reconnection back to the family after a day away. With all the issues many of our children face, the last thing we as parents need to add is an eating disorder! Now I’m not so naive as to think lecturing about why that wilted green thing on your child’s plate is nutritiously good for them will lead to anorexia, however, it certainly won’t foster pleasant memories of time spent around the dinner table.
The Spouse is a man who believes it’s important for kids to have a variety of foods. He touts the nutritional value of different vegetables; the warnings about consuming too much read meat or the benefits of fruits every day. I concur with it all. But try telling all that to a finicky eater as you place an artichoke on his plate! I didn’t eat one until I was over 50. Mainly because I was too embarrassed to ask HOW to eat the darned thing and to be honest it looked like a lot of work for such little pleasure. But I digress.
If you’ve got a picky eater or find yourself on the receiving end of more moans than cheers at the announcement of the dinner menu, try this. Let your child plan the menu for the week with you AND go shopping for it. Give them some input, within reason of course. Chicken or fish on Wednesday? How shall it be cooked? What goes in the salad? Potato or rice? Broccoli or carrots? Try serving fruit with the meal instead of as a dessert. And let them eat it first if they choose. Pull out the good china and stemware. Use the real tablecloth and napkins and ditch the paper. A few tried and true strategies from my dining bag of tricks.
Course the trick really is, always having a new trick at the ready.

Bon appetit!

Wrinkles indicate where the smiles have been!

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One thing I hear a lot when acquaintances and friends are told we’ve adopted our 7 yr old grandson is “oh well he’ll keep you young, that’s for sure!” I’ve always been one to feel age is a state of mind, a number, an attitude. Having to keep up with a 7 yr old boy doesn’t change that, though I admit when the Grand Prince needs lessons on his new bicycle this Spring, sans training wheels, it won’t be Nana who’s running along side; my knees will protest.

Our society is so obsessed with the aging process or better yet keeping it at bay for as long as possible. I figure at 56 I’ve earned every crease, creak, groan, sag,  gray hair -the ones not professionally colored- and age spot that graces my face and body. Gravity is what it is, said Mr. Newton, why fight it?  Our faces and bodies will never look as they did at 25. Have you seen women who’s cosmetic surgery  leaves them looking  like a cartoon character  because they are desperate to dive into the fountain of youth over and over? Oy! Not a pretty picture.

It’s called midlife for a reason. Our youth is gone, but our living is not and there’s lots more to come. In fact the wisdom garnered over the years far outweighs the fleeting  pleasures of youth. My Dad always said, “oh to be 22 and know what I do now!” Of course I didn’t ‘get’ it until I was much older but truer words were never spoken. However, if we could have that we’d miss out on learning to live, making the necessary mistakes and gaining the wisdom over the years that ushers us into the magnificent creatures we are at 50 or 60 or 70 and beyond.

Could you, at 25 or 35 wear crazy hats or stripes and plaids or sweat pants to the supermarket and not bat an eye or cause eyebrows to raise? Could you at 25 or 35 wile away the day just reading, sipping tea, take a long walk, paint a watercolor, play with the cats all while the laundry was piled high and the dust bunnies were running rampant? Could you, at 25 or 35 have a second helping of dessert just because or relive memories of those wild escapades and travels in your younger days? I’d say the latter was unlikely since you’d probably have had those experiences as a child…with your parents overseeing them all!

Bette Davis is quoted as saying “Old age is no place for sissies”.  If we’re spending time trying to recapture what once was we’ll never enjoy the experience of that which seasons us for the second half of  life.  I know I’m going to enjoy the next phase in life’s journey without a care for or a look back  toward the ‘old days’. I’m too busy living life in the ‘not so fast lane’. And it suits me just fine.

Happy Tuesday, all you Big Girls!

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!

Time is not on my side


Contrary to the lyrics of the Rolling Stones hit, “time is on my side, yes it is”, there are many days when I wish for 28 hours instead of 24.
Here’s the schedule for the end of our day, not even factoring in the eight plus hours prior.  Bet there’s a familiar them here for you as well.

After a full workday, I pick up the Grand Prince from after school care, which for me is in the same building I’m employed. That’s a huge plus. Next it’s off to run a few errands, maybe pick up something from the market. If it’s not a karate class day or a tennis lesson then we finish up and head home. Upon arriving we greet the menage of animals and then doff the winter attire to appropriate places and tackle the backpack. Homework, notices from school, permission slips, all to be signed, read or filed on the fridge. Next it’s homework and a snack. I’m very fortunate he’s a conscientious kid and one who enjoys learning, so there’s very little balking about getting homework done. The GP is very on target about snacks too and what’s okay and what’s ‘are you kidding me before dinner!?” sort of snacks.
I start tossing in a load of laundry or swapping one to the dryer while answering questions about spelling, grammar or math (Gods, I hate the math part and beg for the Spouse to handle that. Yes, I’m math phobic). Usually the Spouse is home before me and starts dinner. I’m in love with him all over again every day for that!. While dinner cooks, the GP must do 15 to 20 minutes of silent reading and I get the same time to check email, scan the newspaper, sort the mail and reconnect with the Spouse to share the days events. Multitasking? Parents have done it for decades without a fancy title.
After we share dinner and discussions of our day, it’s time for cleanup, load the dishwasher and a shower for the Prince. While the grandson sings in the shower, I get clothes ready for the next day and pack lunches and/or snacks and remind him over the din of singing and splashing to make sure homework is safely tucked in the backpack.
Toothbrushing and pajamas come next, a little television and/or snuggle time and in a blink of an eye, the clock strikes eight and it’s up to bed and a story. I have managed a few breaths in between. I love you’s are exchanged as are hugs and sweet dreams wishes. All within a three hour time span. Whew!
When coworkers at our lunch table excitedly rehash their favorite episodes of Scrubs, CSI:Miami or Law and Order I nod, smile and listen; totally and blissfully clueless.

I’m asleep by 9:30.

Happy Thursday!