Becoming Grandpa

Sometimes you don’t choose Grandparenting,
Grandparenting chooses you.

My husband of almost three years, never planned on having children. Now, he’s the most amazing Grandpa you can imagine! Sometimes our choices early in life, change as we get older. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this in one form or another.

My husband, James, was perfectly happy just being an Uncle to his sister’s two children. He decided early in his adulthood, that he did not want to have kids. The whole diapers, screaming, puking, non-sleeping parent thing was not for him.

James had been married before, but they didn’t have children together. So at the time that I met him, he was divorced and living a single life as a software engineer. Kind of solitary, but it suited him. James is not what you would call a socialite. Don’t get me wrong, he’s great company and has a wonderful personality, but he’s also very happy just coding…doing his thing.

As with many of us, blended families are quite common. There are marriages, divorces, adoptions, or just choosing who your family is. Family isn’t always a bloodline, It’s a heart-line. Your tribe.

Knowing very well that I had three children and two grandchildren as we were dating, there was that very real possibility that they could someday also be his. My children were grown and my grandkids were seven and nine at the time we met. I think it was easier for him to imagine being in our lives. It wasn’t like he was becoming “dad” to toddlers. It was more like stepping into their lives as a friend. Not really having to worry about raising them, the sleepless nights or possible failures all of us parents experience. I know many men do “step-in” to the parenting role early in their children’s lives. I have utmost respect for each and every one of you.IMG_6579

Anyone can be a Father, but It takes someone special
to be a Dad…or Grandad.

In addition to being an awesome “friend” to our children and grandchildren, James’ role as “step-dad and grandpa” come so naturally to him now. Even though he chose to not have biological children when he was younger, it really suits him well in his role as Grandpa James. He’s the perfect counselor and role model for our children, and the most amazing Grandpa I could ever imagine.

The silliness, running around the yard, doing puzzles, putting up tree swings, playing with play dough, teaching them how to chip wood, lots snuggles and video games…He’s it. The perfect Grandpa. Protective in every possible way, and always has the kids, and grandkids best interests at heart.

I never really had a Grandpa in my life. The year I was born, my paternal grandfather passed away. My Grandmother Morris was his wife, the most amazing grandma that ever lived. I heard he was just as awesome as she was, but I never knew him. My maternal Grandfather was a very distant man that traveled often. I saw him, I knew what he looked like, but being a grandpa wasn’t really his thing.

With every passing day, I love James even more. So many of you awesome Grandpas (biological and chosen) don’t realize how much of an impact you’re having on those little human’s lives. You’re wonderful, you’re loved and you’re important. Thank you for being you.

“Making Grandparenting Glorious!”

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“I’m bored!”

“I’m bored!”This is something that all of us have heard from our children/grandchildren from time to time. Especially if they’ve been given a “media break”. No IPads, phone, TV or computers. We all need to unplug every now and then. Sometimes we have to force this break upon children, to remind them to connect with the physical world and people around them.

I have found these amazing Green Kid Crafts. They’re great for homeschooled kids, supplementary education, rainy days or any day for a fun, learning, interactive activity!

I think it’s a great idea to have these boxes at Nana and Grandpa’s house. We have a closet full of toys and games for the grandkids, but sometimes they get bored of the same ‘ol things each time they visit. So when the grandkids come visit, you have a fresh new activity already prepared waiting for all of you to enjoy together!

Click the link below and check them out for yourself! They’re offering 30% off your first months subscription for the month of February!

https://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?u=2011252&m=40843&b=387394

“Making Grandparenting Glorious!”

I Wasn’t Looking, Then There He Was.

We always want to believe that love is forever. It is for some people, but unfortunately divorce is a reality for many of us. I don’t really look at divorce so harshly now having experienced it a few times myself. We are always growing, changing, learning and evolving. This comes with age. I’m a very different person now at 49 than I was at 17, when I became pregnant and married.

Being a teenage mom and marrying at a young age, my first marriage lasted only eight years. Longer than most predicted it would. My husband was only 20, and joined the Navy right before we married. Both of us afraid, and not sure of what we were doing, we plunged head-first into adulthood. After eight years, we had two beautiful children, but had grown apart. He was deployed most of the time we were married. When he finally got shore duty, we discovered we were not compatible at all.

Now, single with two small children, I was working full-time running my own home daycare. It was an option for me to support myself and stay home with my children. A year later, I met and married one of the single daycare dads. He had two children, also. So we pretty much became “The Brady Bunch” overnight. Three years into our marriage we had another surprise blessing, a beautiful daughter. Five Children, 14 years of marriage later, I once again found myself in the process of divorce. My second husband was a good father and great friend. But that was it. Friend. I understand that it is very important to be best friends with your significant other, in addition to the intimacy and closeness of a couple. My husband and I became so accustomed to just making sure we were being the best parents possible to our five children, that we forgot to take time to be a couple. As the children were growing up and starting their own lives, there was nothing but a hollow shell of a relationship left. Nothing really there to even rekindle. We divorced, but still share the absolute love of our children and a sweet friendship.

The next 7 years were a blur. Absolutely the strangest time in my life. I was now 40 years old, and I guess you can say I hit my “mid-life crisis”. Even traded my minivan for a sports car.  Everything about me, and my life changed. I still loved my children, was trying to be the best mom I could be. I also had just became a grandmother the year before. Undeniably, there was an awakening and yearning to find myself. I compared it to, what I can only imagine, young adults in university feel as they start their own lives. Since I became a mother eight days after my 18th birthday, I didn’t have the same experience as most of my peers.

At this time in my life, I got my first tattoo, my first passport, traveled outside the United States for the first time and had very poor choices in men. I guess it had to happen at some time in my life, and this was it. I found myself married for a short three years of that time. I don’t even know why. On the way to the courthouse to marry him, I knew it wasn’t right; just  had that gut feeling. I just don’t even really count that one as a marriage…but it happened. I just kept reminding myself that everything happens for a reason, right?

As that terrible mistake became an inevitable divorce, I learned that I had changed. I can’t say that the change I experienced was all bad. I was now 47 and knew exactly who I was. I was a strong woman that could withstand any storm. I was independent and could hold my own.  Within the last six months of that marriage, I had lost my oldest brother to cancer, went through my third divorce and then my father passed away. Life can be quite sobering at times.

I had been working full-time as a VIP Tour Guide at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida for several years at this point. I absolutely loved my job. For at least a year before my last divorce, I preferred to be at work, rather than home. It was truly my “happy place”. I was volunteering for every shift and every bit of overtime I could possibly get. I adopted two little kittens and vowed to just be a hard-working, cat-lady, no-dating, never-marry-again, kind of woman. I was happy. My children and grandchildren would come visit me often. I had everything I could possibly want or need. I definitely wasn’t looking for a man. At All.

I went to work, like every day, early as usual. Picked up my tour assignment. As I read the details, 7 people, multi-generational. Harry Potter fans.

Easy. We were all given groups that fit our personalities and our expertise. I loved having families. Children, mom, dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I felt like I could relate to all of them. Most guides were the ages of my grown children and they were great to assign to the younger crowd that loved rollercoasters. But for me, I preferred the small kids and the grandparents, I liked their vibe.

As I met the family, they were running a bit late. Only five, of the seven scheduled, were present. They informed me that the mom (James’ sister) and her daughter were not feeling well and couldn’t join us. This was unfortunate, since the whole focus of the tour was for the niece to experience Harry Potter.

We went about our tour, mainly focused on the attractions his nephew was interested in, and some of the Harry Potter stuff, as well. James’ mother and I hit it off right away. That day was hotter than usual for the end of March. Being from England, they struggled a bit with the heat. As we took a break for lunch, James’ mother and I chatted while most of the table was quiet. She was asking me questions like, “Are you married?” “Do you have children?” etc.  Still bitter, but trying to be nice at work, I answered “No, I’m divorced and don’t plan on ever doing that again” and “Yes, I have 3 beautiful children and 2 grandchildren”.  She paused. “Well James is divorced, too”. I could feel the tension as James didn’t say a word, and just stayed very focused on his hamburger. You could tell that neither one of us had any interest in trying that “marriage” thing again.

After lunch, they all decided it was too hot to continue the tour, except James. He decided to continue and get his money’s worth. Fair enough—they aren’t cheap tours. After the family left and it was just the two of us, we still had five hours of the tour left. I asked him what he wanted to do, his reply was “Whatever you want to do! Show me your favorites parts and rides of Universal”.  I had never had a guest do that before. I was always there to make their wishes come true and do what they wanted to do. With the rest of the family gone, James opened up into a very friendly, talkative and interesting person. When his family was around, his mum definitely dominated the conversations. The rest of the day went well. Not flirting, but just like two friends hanging out in Universal. Until he stepped off the Jurassic Park River Voyage. Soaking wet, he flung his hair to the side…It was kinda like a slow motion, shampoo commercial…I think I wasn’t breathing for a moment there. Something sparked inside of me, but I dismissed it quickly, not wanting any part of a relationship again.

As the tour ended, he was debating on trying to book a second day hoping his niece was feeling better by then. I gave him my business card and made sure he had my cell number in case he had any questions or wanted to request me again. His niece was still  not feeling well, so he didn’t book a second day. He text me letting me know there wouldn’t be a second tour, but would like to take me to dinner before he headed back to Colorado and the family back to England. Sure, why not, it’s only dinner. I accepted, then the next day he cancelled. He had hurt his back so badly he needed a brace and medication. I just brushed it off. Men! Whatever. I was done anyway. It didn’t matter. I think I even chuckled a little bit, almost expecting this.

Each day, I went to work, same as always. Each morning I woke up to a text from him, and we continued texting throughout the day. Texting all day, then turned into 4 hours of FaceTime each night also. I tried to give him every reason why he wouldn’t want to be with me. I am nine years older, I have children and grandchildren. I have cats. James chose to not have children and was highly allergic to cats, but he persisted.

This continued for a month. Then he flew to Florida to take me on our first date. Three days. Three of the most amazing days. We knew. Neither one of us were looking to ever be in a relationship again, but then, there he was. The one I never knew I was looking for.

James and I have now been married for almost two years. He is an absolutely wonderful step-father and grandfather. It’s like he was that missing puzzle piece in our family that was the perfect fit. My children and grandchildren love him so much, and I couldn’t ask for a better husband and best friend. So it proves that when you have given up or you think you know how your life should be, the universe has a way of putting all the pieces in place, that you never knew were missing.

A Cozy Winter Day

Here in Charlotte, as with many places right now, winter can’t decide if it’s over or wants to stick around a little longer. Although the daffodils are blooming and we’ve had a few warm days, winter decided to come back today. It’s a perfect day for a fire in the fireplace, a cup of hot cocoa and a good book.

If you’re like me, you want to make sure your grandchildren pick up good habits that will serve them well throughout their lives. I’ve always loved reading. Something about holding a book, turning the pages, and transporting to another world. We can give our grandchildren so much just by cultivating the love of reading.

For Christmas this year, we made sure we bought the grandchildren a few good books. My granddaughter, Molly, is really into dragons. So after reading the excellent reviews, I decided on a book called “ Where the Mountain meets the Moon” by Grace Lin. It has a lovely cover with a brave little girl riding a flying dragon. Definitely the impression I wanted my granddaughter to have. Fearless, brave and empowered.

As the book arrived from Amazon, I wanted to read it to make sure it was appropriate for my 8 year old granddaughter. Being super careful to not “crack” the spine, I started reading and couldn’t put it down! 

It’s such a beautiful story of a little girl named Minli. She lives in a poor village of rice farmers. Her mother is unhappy that they live in poverty, eating only rice day after day. Her father, tired from farming, but always has a story of hope tell Minli. Minli loves her parents very much and wishes for a better life for all of them.

She sets out on her own to find the Old Man of the Moon, for he is said to have the answers to their fortune. Along the way she meets many new friends, including a wingless dragon. They have to outsmart some greedy monkeys together through a peach orchard and spend nights sleeping on jagged rocks. They reach the City of Bright Moonlight where she meets a clever and wholesome King. She is given unusual treasures of unimaginable worth. As she and her new dragon friend continue their journey they encounter a vicious Green Tiger, with poisonous claws that could bring death to his victims.

After a long journey, meeting many new friends and goldfish that talk, they finally find where the Mountain meets the Moon. That’s where Minli finally finds the Old Man of the Moon.

This story of bravery, friendship, teamwork, gratitude and generosity will be a book that you and your grandchild won’t soon forget. Such a wonderful adventure and beautiful storytelling.

I love the gratitude and kindness that are taught in a very selfless manner.

I’m sure that spring is just around the corner, so take this winter day to snuggle up with your grandchild(ren) and read this wonderful adventure together! Time well spent, they will never forget.

You can click on the picture below to get your own copy of “Where the Mountain meets the Moon” Enjoy and Happy Reading!

Update: Some people asked about the fireplace screen in the photo. You can get them on Amazon by clicking the picture below:

The Gloriously (Goofy) Grandparent

Grandparenting is a gift, and a skill. Yes, a skill. Sure, by being a biological or chosen antecedent of a little human being, you have the honor of being a grandparent. I’m talking about being more than just a marker on a family tree. It’s important for us to also be involved, connected and an active part of our grandchildren’s lives. With that in mind, it takes skill.

My grandmother Morris definitely had that skill. She was truly a magical being. An angel that walked the earth. We lived about 120 miles apart in Northeast Texas. We didn’t get to see each other every day, but I felt connected to her at all times, that was her skill.

This was the 1970’s until she passed at the age of 95, in 2004. She would come to our house for all major holidays, even if she had to ride a Greyhound bus (she never had a drivers license). Most of the time we would go pick her up, especially in her later years. Every summer, my brother and I would go to her house in Dallas, for several weeks.

In between holidays, she and I would write letters and talk on the phone. Back then, there was no FaceTime, email, texting, etc. She was still working full-time during my younger years. My grandfather had passed away the year I was born. She immersed herself into being a grandmother, and her job as a cafeteria lady, to help with her mourning.  She was quite tenacious. A strong women with a heart of gold and an unmarred work ethic. Though she was well into her 60’s and 70’s, she walked to work, managed her home and was a phenomenal grandmother that never missed a beat! Every birthday, holiday, life event or “just because”, she was on it! She would either be there or acknowledge the event with cards, letters or a phone call.  That was truly a skill!

Of course, I had 4 biological grandparents. I never knew my grandfather (her husband) but through family stories, he was also a fantastic grandfather. My maternal grandparents were never really involved in my life. I knew them, I saw them, but they did not possess that skill.

Now that I am a grandmother myself, I can truly appreciate the effort my grandmother Morris put into being a grandparent! She had 11 grandchildren. I only have 2 grandchildren currently, so for now, it’s pretty easy. For those of you who have several and are possibly gaining great-grands now, I’m sure it’s a task to be managed almost on a professional level.

I try daily to be part of my grandchildren’s lives. We haven’t lived in the same city for most of the time. Currently, they travel with their dad’s job and we are on opposite coasts. I had the privilege of them living with us for several months before their current assignment. That was truly wonderful! I’ve definitely learned to savor the moments together and make the best of the moments we’re apart.

As grandparents, I know most of you did not grow up with the modern technology we have today. I speak from experience, it makes grandparenting from afar so much easier! Before they left my house, my husband (grandpa James) and I bought them Ipads. I have to say, that was one of the best gifts we could have ever given them! Of course, they thought so, because they’re 9 and 11, getting an Ipad. My daughter, their mom, installed all of the “safe”, kid-friendly, parent-monitored, apps to communicate with family only on their Ipads,  I love this. I can’t tell you how much it brightens my day when I receive a cute message, picture, drawing, or gif from my grandchildren! It’s the same joy I would feel when I checked the mail and received a letter from my grandmother. I can FaceTime with them, send quick messages or pictures. We sometimes like to just send goofy filter pictures or silly gifs. No real message, just connecting and laughing together. It’s a beautiful thing. My grandchildren know, without a shadow of a doubt, their Nana is here for them. Always. Not only through actual visits and technology, but I also love to send them small physical reminders. Birthdays I may not be able to attend, holidays of all types, I make sure I send something, even if it’s small, just to let them know I’m thinking of them. Valentines candy, a box of treats and plastic spiders for Halloween…get creative. Personalize these small gifts. If your grandchild loves llamas, dinosaurs, otters, unicorns, art, reading, sports or paintball, incorporate something personal of their interests or something you like to do together. Send a surprise of a joke! Dig deep inside yourself to remember that fun, child-like humor that still exists in all of us! They will appreciate it and be able to relate to you as a grandparent, that was once a child also. Don’t be afraid to be silly, goofy or downright ridiculous! It’s a great way to connect. They have plenty of serious adults in their lives, (which you can be if needed) but be that goofy grandparent also. It’s good for all of you!     

Take Care of You

“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”

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As my 50th birthday approaches, instead of feeling old, I feel grateful. Now, I know that 50 isn’t exactly old, but it is a milestone. Halfway to 100, smack dab in the middle of the middle age category. Not young, but not old. So how do I face this time in my life.

My soul feels young, but sometimes my body feels old. I’m getting mixed signals. My mind says “yes, you can!” My body says “do it and you’ll regret it…” As a grandparent, I want to be as young and energetic as possible to enjoy the time with my children and grandchildren to the fullest.

Some of us are still young enough to be working full-time, still keeping up with the 30 and 40 year olds in the workplace. After work socializing seems to diminish, as we appreciate an earlier dinner and bedtime. (My children laugh at me when I text them goodnight at 8:00pm). We feel our bodies slowing down a bit. Do we embrace it and fight it? I’m on the fence about this subject. Let me explain.

Embracing the typical “slow down” is not really a full stop. I became a mom at a young age, therefore I’m also a young-ish grandmother. I’ve been raising kids for over 30 years and been a grandmother for 11 years.  Not only my own, but also step-children, neighborhood children, and being a teacher, I’ve helped raise many other children. I’m tired. So a little bit of a slower pace is welcome. On the other hand, I still feel very young and motivated. I have new ideas, plans, thoughts, goals and dreams! I’m not done yet.

I wake up each morning with gratitude. I’m grateful for the slower pace of life I can enjoy now and I’m grateful I still have that mental attitude to do more! I enjoy drinking my coffee in the morning while petting my cats, or sitting on my porch watching the birds at the feeder. Then I continue my morning routine with 30 minutes on the treadmill, 20 minutes of yoga, stretching and meditation. It is my desire, and promise to myself, as well as my children and grandchildren, to strive to stay as healthy in mind and body for as long as I possibly can.

Taking care of ourselves is vital to enjoying our older years. Of course, there are some things that are out of our control. Fate has a way of making it’s path known, regardless of our efforts.

My oldest brother, Jack passed away at the very young age of 56. I didn’t live close to him for many years. I didn’t know his daily life, habits or routines. He was always a perfect picture of health, as I remembered him. High school quarter back, over 6 feet tall, solid muscle. He always had a smile and a positive disposition. Calm and peaceful, my gentle giant big brother. He lived in Las Vegas, NV and worked a lot. That’s all I really knew. He developed brain cancer that took his life in less than 6 months.

A beautiful life, cut short. A mother and father, a lovely wife, 2 sons and 2 granddaughters a brother and 2 sisters left behind. I often think of him and wonder what his daily life was like. Could there have been steps to prevent this or was it just fate. Did he take the time to enjoy the “slow-down” that he should have? There are many things we can do to help our bodies age gracefully. Medical sciences are advancing daily. I know they have a role in extreme healthcare needs, but I believe we need to take a step back and listen to our roots.

I’m talking about natural medicine. It’s not necessarily a pill, tincture or ointment. It comes from deep inside each one of us. Our minds and bodies are more powerful than we give them credit to be. We have to ability to prevent certain maladies and heal ourselves.

Move. Breathe. Stretch. Meditate. Rest. Slow down. Read. Minimize.

But also;

Lift weights. Sweat. Walk. Travel. Stay up late to socialize. Stay up even later to make love. 

Eat healthy, but also enjoy that occasional treat, and daily glass of wine.

Embrace the effort that you put into your dreams and hard work, but don’t forget to love yourself. This is the time in our lives to love ourselves more than ever! It’s okay to put yourself first now. We have been raising children, managing households and paying bills for many years. I know for myself, at that time in my life, I wasn’t taking the time I should have for myself.

So, now as grandparents, we need to take our mental and physical health into our own hands. Strive to be as healthy, energetic and alert as we can, for as long as this life allows. Get up and power-walk those 5 miles, cool down and do the yoga. Feed your mind with good books and conversations with friends. Meditate and be grateful. We are as old, or young as we allow ourselves to be. Take care of you.

This is dedicated to my brother, with love. Jackie Don Morris, Jr.

The Details. Ten days with the grandkids

It’s nice to know that I’ve still got it…kind of. My daughter and her husband decided to finally take their first “alone” vacation without the kids. With a wedding to attend across the country in Oregon, they decided to add another week to visit her brother in California. Beachside, nestled in the Redwoods, the perfect couple vacation.

My daughter, Sarah, knowing I raised five amazing kids ( three of my own, two step children)  asked me right away if Jack and Molly could stay with us during their vacation. Of course, we very happily accepted! Although It’s been a while since I’ve had full responsibility of children, no problem, I’ve got this.  When they come visit, or we visit them, it’s always with mom and dad close by. So as Nana and Grandpa, we didn’t have to worry so much about the “details”. We get to love, snuggle, play, read and just be grandparents.

I thought it was a little silly as my daughter gave the run down on “how to care for children”. It was cute, I laughed a little at the whole scenario of daughter telling mom what to do with the kids. I’ve raised a lot of kids. They’re pretty much the same, right?

No. Things change. All children are very different, (that part I knew). Even though I have been around Jack and Molly since birth, I know them well. It’s the details. The little (big) stuff that mom and dad handle on a daily basis that we, as grandparents don’t really “notice” or maybe not remember quite clearly when we were raising our children.

The first couple of days, we tried to set the stage and get ready. We bought them bikes so we could go on daily bike rides. Being a child of the 1970’s bike riding was quite different in those days. You just hopped on the banana seat bike with long handlebars and went riding!! Bare feet pedaling and hair blowing in the breeze! Now it’s full-on riding gear. Helmets, elbow pads, knee pads, tennis shoes with laces tucked in, front flashing light, rear flashing light….everything short of wrapping them in bubble wrap! The bike rides were great, the first 10 minutes. I have to say, Jack loved it! He’s a very athletic 10 year old boy and could trail ride all day if we let him! Molly on the other hand, not so much. She’s perfectly well and good for a nice 10 minute ride. She was so proud of herself to accomplish new things, like riding downhill fast, without having to walk the bike! Then it got hot. It’s still pretty warm here in Charlotte in September. After 10 minutes with Molly, it was a water break every 5 minutes. Walk the bike a while, ride the bike a while. Trail riding was not so great, she didn’t care for the gravel (which she ended up wiping out on once). So the next few days of bike rides, Grandpa would ride fast with Jack, while Nana and Molly “meandered” along. Hey, we were outside getting fresh air and exercising instead of playing video games. That was a win.

Speaking of video games. I am, as I’m sure a lot of you are, from an era of little, to no “gaming”. It was new, it was fun, but it was just something you did on a rainy day if your were lucky enough to have an Atari with “Pong” on it. Maybe it was something you did while at the arcade or skating rink in the 1970’s and 1980’s. We were too busy building treehouses, riding bikes and playing outside with our friends. It wasn’t this whole “sub-culture” thing that it is today.

James and I consider ourselves quite modern grandparents. We have a playstation 4, we know the latest games and enjoy playing them from time to time. The one game we aren’t so familiar with is Minecraft. Jack and Molly love playing Minecraft, but for ten days, they took a break from it. Instead, we have “Don’t Starve Together”. A great video game. Two players working together to survive, and build a campground. Great teaching opportunity for teamwork, right? Wrong. Let the arguments begin. I thought letting them play some video games would allow me to get some of the laundry, cooking, housecleaning and preparing for their next homeschool lesson done. Nope. Referee Nana and Grandpa to the rescue! I don’t really know how many times I said “stop”. It just kind of became part of my sentences. The grandkids had very different ideas on what it meant to “survive” together. One thought kicking a bees nest in the game was a good idea, while the other forgot to eat. (sigh) So Grandpa stayed up late each night, sometimes until 1or 2 am,  to create  a “world” they could play in that wouldn’t require many survival skills. It worked, thankfully.

Of course, then there’s feeding them. Well, presenting food at least. They’re eight and ten, they feed themselves, but it’s the when and the what. They always made opposite choices of food from the other, had different times they were hungry. Jack needs a full breakfast and snacks (my purse was full of granola bars the whole time) . Molly needs full meals  more frequently, with snacks at night. One loves orange juice the other, milk. I remember when I was raising my children I was little more stern. When I put dinner on the table, that was the only choice. I made them eat it. It’s quite different with my grandchildren. I wanted them to be happy, well fed, have everything their heart desires, maybe even be a little spoiled. So during the ten day stay I became a short order cook. I learned their favorites and I made it happen, no matter what.

We had one night out at a “fancy” restaurant. Their manners were “on point”. No arguing or fighting. Just perfect little angel babies. You could tell mom and dad put a lot of effort into teaching them proper manners and behavior. It was an absolute joy to show the world that at 8 and 10 years old, they could fine-dine with the rest of us! Kudos to Mom and Dad!

Then there was bath time, toothbrushing and bedtime. Sounds easy, right? Sure, sort of. Jack being ten, could completely bathe by himself, no problem. Molly on the other hand, being younger, having beautiful, long, thick hair like her momma, needed a little help with the hair washing. If you’ve ever tried to “help” someone wash and condition their hair while standing outside the shower, you know I should have lined the floor with towels and wore my bathing suit. Night after night I learned a little more and prepared myself with towels and of course, lots of dry washcloths for the eyes…no soap in the eyes, grandparents! A very important rule!

Toothbrushing was a lot of silliness. Maybe that’s my fault for providing toothbrushes with suction cups on the bottom of them. (those suckers can literally stick ANYWHERE!)

Bedtime. That was a whole other routine. I have two perfectly good guest bedrooms upstairs with beds and nice bedding already on them. Without mom and dad upstairs with them, that was a no-go. So I pulled the back cushions off the couch, put bedding on, lots of soft pillows and blankets so they could be downstairs close to Nana and Grandpa. They needed the right amount of stuffed animals and of course, Molly needed her snack. Then there was the choice of which movie to fall asleep to. Jack wanted to be grown up and watch action adventure, but Nana decided Disney movies would probably be best. Nightlights on, Disney movie playing, lots of goodnight kisses and tucking in. It was finally time for a little sleep. The reason I say a little is not because of the children, they fell fast asleep. It’s Nana. That overwhelming feeling of responsibly and protection that never leaves you once you have your first child. I was up about 3 times a night just to check on them. Pull the blankets back up on Molly, pull the pillows away from Jack’s face. Just to make sure they were okay on my watch.  For the past 31 years, I’ve slept a few hours here and there… It actually does get a little better when your children are grown adults living their own very productive lives, but you still worry about them, that’s just how it is.

Ten days flew by in a flash, believe it or not. I wanted more time, I didn’t want to take them back to mom and dad yet! We were just getting into our “groove”. I loved that my grandkids were so comfortable in our home. I loved that they were “themselves”. None of this “be on your best behavior for Nana and Grandpa”. It was just real. It was just awesome. We learned the “details” about each child. Jack is a great helper and loves to clean. Molly is a great help in the kitchen and loves video games. Molly is very curious about learning and reading, Jack picks things up quickly and wants to be productive. Yes, Grandpa and I were exhausted, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!

Nana and Grandpa’s lives are very quiet on a daily basis. I thought being the mother of three (five), I knew it all and could handle any child. Things have changed, times have changed, I have changed. Although I’m a young and energetic Nana, I don’t have the energy I once had when I was raising my children. I have my routines. My soft jazz and wine. My two cats. My garden. My yoga and meditation. I now also have a greater appreciation for my daughter and son-in-law. They are raising two amazing little people! I couldn’t ask for more wonderful grandchildren! I also appreciate them for taking care of all the “details” while we are all together so that Grandpa and I can just be grandparents. You know, the fun stuff!

Nature Can Teach us so Much

Nature can teach us so much. As you guys have known, I’ve watched these baby birds on my front porch. Nest building, eggs and hatchlings. Only 2 of the 4 eggs hatched. I checked on the babies daily and loved watching them grow! Two days ago, when Emily was here, she witnessed the first fledgling take flight for the first time! Mom and dad swooped in and followed him to make sure he was okay. For two days now, there has been only one fledging left. I didn’t see mom and dad around, and he just sat alone in the nest. I watered the fern to keep him cool and hydrated, sprinkled bird seed in the nest and watched carefully to see if mom and dad returned. No sign of them. I woke up at 2am worried about my little bird. I researched “orphaned bird” “wildlife rescue” and was prepared to call the experts to come in and rescue him.

Perplexed with what to do to help this little bird, I sat below him in my rocking chair drinking coffee, wondering what the problem was that he wouldn’t fledge….

Then it dawned on me!!! The nest was facing the porch. All the little bird could see was a house. He couldn’t see the trees, the other birds flying…..the rest of the world. So I got my stool, turned the fern basket around so he could see the world… AND HE FLEW!!!!

Mom and dad rushed down from the tree to escort him to safety!! They were watching the whole time, but knew the little bird had to make that leap on his own!! As I burst into tears…of joy and a little sorrow… (I will miss seeing him every day) I just realized it’s the same for human parents and their children. Sometimes you just need to turn the basket around, (show them the world) and they will FLY with confidence, pride, purpose and adventure! (But also know that mom and dad are close by watching you with love)

❤️❤️❤️