Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Strings and Retirement

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

There’s something about retirement age.  I’m not sure what it is.  There is this string that suddenly appears inside of us that seems to be attached like a magnet to bedding.  Or maybe it’s attached to the mattress on a bed.  Whatever it is, when you get near a bed the string from inside you connects with the string on the bed and reels you in.  It doesn’t hold you so tightly you can’t get up but it does give off some kind of hormone – probably not endorphins – but whatever the hormone, it lulls you into a sense of complacency that allows you to just lay there on your own personal sandy beach at peace with the world.

That is if you’re  most retirees.   Then there are those of us who are raising the grandkids and maybe  raising a few other kids as well.  The strings are still there.  The hormones are still trying to be released but the silence from the children in the playroom is deafening!  Other retirees hear the silence as the gentle lapping of waves on the beach.  We hear the silence as a call to arms.  And like dutiful soldiers, we snap to attention.  Some days my little ones try to lull me into a sense of security by silently reading books and playing with toys.  But most days I find the Little Guy perched on the counter surrounded by the cereal he has dumped onto his lap and spread everywhere within reach.  Nature Boy is in the basement trying to figure out how to turn on Grandpa’s power tools and the Princess has disappeared down the street with her friends.  Sigh.  Oh, to be able to enjoy the fruits of old age and lay peacefully on my bed!!!!

The rest of you who are raising grandkids know exactly what I’m saying.  Personally, though, I’ve heard enough about how tough it is to be a do-it-again parent.  I’m not complaining!  You want to know why?  Well, I’m going to tell you anyway.  While I’m cleaning up the cereal, Little Guy has retreated to the playroom where I can hear him singing “I love you.  You love me”.  He has a beautiful voice for an autistic four-year-old who can’t carry on a conversation or even tell us his name.  I love hearing that voice!!!

While I am retrieving Nature Boy from the basement, I am realizing how important it is for him to be just like Grandpa.  Grandpa is the most important person in his life.  Nature Boy can’t tell us that.  He is only just now beginning to speak in three word sentences (and those don’t always make sense).  But he can show us by his devotion to everything Grandpa.  When we return from a half hour trip to the grocery store, he runs to greet us like we’ve been gone a month.  I would never want my life to be without those ‘welcome home’ hugs and kisses.

Then, there is our Princess.  Pre-teen years are a challenge for Grandpa and I.  We may never get her to tell us where she is going and when she will be back.  Somehow she doesn’t get the safety issues there.  She argues and complains about how old fashioned and strict we are but every night before bed, she calls “I love you” as she snuggles down to sleep.

We aren’t living the normal retirement life traveling in motor homes and meeting new people. We don’t really need to.  We know all the people who really matter.  Life is good!  Even when we have to stay far away from the beds so the string can’t reel us in.


Our Little Shadows

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Remember the childhood poem “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me”? Grandpa has one of those. It just isn’t his own shadow. It is actually Nature Boy.

Nature Boy adores his Grandpa. He wants to see and do everything that Grandpa does. There are a couple of problems with this. One – he is only four years old. And two – he is developmentally delayed. So everything he does to imitate Grandpa or to ‘help’ him turns out to be not so helpful after all. Grandpa spends a lot of his time at the computer so Nature Boy often sits with him and stares at that computer as if he knows all about it. Every now and then – when Grandpa isn’t looking – he pushes all kinds of buttons which sometimes delete things Grandpa really doesn’t want deleted. He follows Grandpa into the garage and ‘helps’ him repair little rocking chairs or other toys that have been overused.

One of Nature Boy’s favorite things is a cord that he can flap up and down like bird wings. Grandpa has all kinds of tie-downs, power tools, and extention cords that suit him perfectly. He happily flaps them up and down and, sometimes sneaks them out of the garage and into other places in the house. Then we get to hear Grandpa complaining ‘All right, where did you put them this time?” But, Nature Boy, being developmentally delayed, doesn’t talk. He just stands there looking innocent.

Anyone with small children has variations of this scene in their homes as well. Little girls watch Mommy and try to cook, dress and put on make-up. (My make-up gets hidden whenever possible to keep Princess from ‘borrowing’ it). Little boys the world over try to fix cars, paint houses, or otherwise imitate Daddy.

It’s a joy to watch them try to be like us. We smile when our little girls rock their dolls to sleep and we hear them say ‘go night night, sweet baby’. We know they are learning to love and cherish their young.

We laugh to see our little boys sitting at the computer table moving the mouse and clicking away.  They can be so much fun sometimes.

Then there are the other times. Times when we see and hear things we aren’t so proud of.  That time when I hear our Princess use a tone of voice when talking to her friends that sounds so unkind but sounds a lot like me. Or the times when we hear those not-so-special words that shouldn’t be used around children but are coming out of our children’s mouths. The ones that sort of slip out on occasion.

We love our little ones with all our hearts. I’m sure you love yours as well. If we want them to be the truly great men and women of tomorrow, we need to show them how. It might be time to take stock of ourselves.  Do a little self-improvement.

Up to Our Necks in Water

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. I don’t know how to slow down the madness. Doctor’s appointments here. Dentists, eye doctors, therapists. Kids to teach, laundry to do, a house to clean, groceries to buy. Sometimes I sit so tired, so needing a break. I grab a few minutes of quiet wherever I can. So little time for me. Now the daughter says she is bringing another little one into the world. We will love the little one. There’s no question about that.


But there are a few problems to solve. The car we bought has the right amount of seatbelts for the family we have now.  We need more  seatbelts. The time for the little ones we have is limited. It will need to be split even more. The daughter, never one to be patient, is even more impatient with the demands of the baby on her body and mind. The father of the child wants to be in our lives but we don’t know him. Grandpa says it’s like being in a bathtub full of water. The more people you add, the higher the water gets. We’re up to our necks.

Have you been there? Probably have. Hold on tight.  Grandpa says we just have to adjust to the water levels.  He could be right.

If you’re having trouble adjusting, let this be a safe place to spout.  Say what you think in the comments.  Nobody will give your name.  I will monitor comments.  I don’t need a bunch of advertisements.  I just want this to be a place to talk.


Someday Mermaids Might be Real

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Our little redhead has decided to become a mermaid.  Why this mermaid business has such an appeal, I don’t know but it is serious business for her.  She has watched every mermaid show she can find on the internet (we don’t subscribe to cable so the internet is her only option).

  • She has checked YouTube for others with a similar interest and has learned all she can. A few weeks ago, she found someone who had a formula to make you become a mermaid. She tried it but it didn’t work.

She revisited the site a few days ago but I forbid her to try the formula again.  The kitchen just becomes too much of a mess. Besides, I’m not altogether certain she isn’t going to poison herself in her zeal to find just the right formula.

I’ve tried telling her that mermaids aren’t real.  She doesn’t believe me.  Of course, she also doesn’t believe me when I tell her vampires aren’t real. Recently, due to a serious lack of garlic in the house, she opted to cover her bedroom floor near her window with baking powder.  Her reasoning was that baking powder would work in a pinch as a substitute for garlic. That may be why the mermaid potion isn’t working. We might be missing some of the key ingredients and the substitute she is using is less than useful.

Not being a real mermaid hasn’t stopped her from practicing to become one. She has a mermaid costume from Halloween which wasn’t quite what she wanted so she talked grandpa into making her a mermaid fin for her feet. She stuffs both of her legs into one pant leg, puts on her swimming suit top and shoves her feet into the fin.   She can actually move around the house like this!

Psychologists tell us that play is the way children learn. That being the case, I am happy to see some of the things she is learning in spite of the baking soda and the kitchen messes. She is learning to make and pursue her goals. She hasn’t given up in spite of setbacks. She has researched her subject to learn all she can. She has tried experiments and will doubtless try again when I’m not looking. She has the formula written down and I’m sure she will put in some time talking grandpa into taking her to the store to buy the right ingredients. If that doesn’t work, I’m sure she’ll be tweaking that formula with her own little touches. She is learning persistence in the face of failure.

She is practicing her moves for that coming moment when she finally gets it right.

If she can hold onto all that enthusiasm and determination, if she can remember the steps for success she is learning  now, I’m sure we will someday see her achieve whatever it is she sets out to do. I may never have the spices I need when it comes time to cook and grandpa may never stop yelling each time he steps in the kitchen and discovers her latest attempts at perfecting her formula but I am happy to report that our little redhead will someday be top dog at whatever she chooses to do.

Connections to the Heart

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

The little one got a new MP3 player for her birthday.  She is 7 and thinks she’s all grown up now. Her headphones are firmly planted in her ears most of the day.  She dances around the house to music only she can hear. We are breathing sighs of relief.  Sometimes, the constant noise of television, radio, CD players, etc can be overwhelming to us old people. We like silence.

She came to me yesterday with a comment that made me pause and think. She said ‘sometimes my songs connect to my heart.’ It occurs to me that it might be a good idea to stop and listen with her to the music she loves.

What ‘connects to her heart’ is going to shape her attitude and behavior.

As parents and grandparents, it’s important that we know what they listen to and connect with. We need to instill in our children the love of good music. The kind that lifts them up spiritually, that improves their attitudes, and teaches them to build bridges of love with their family and friends.  There is too much music in this world that can turn them away from what is good.  I want to be careful about what she sings.  I want to know the songs she loves and hear from her what the songs are saying to her when they connect to her heart.  I hope you’re listening to your little ones as well.


Swimming Party

Friday, April 6th, 2012

I am going to have a birthday party at MY house and I was wondering what fun things we could do there other than swimming Thanks for your help If you need any information please email me I want it to be so much fun

A: A pool party is a lot of fun for everyone. Great idea. There are numerous games you can play at your party that will get everyone laughing and having fun. You could try a water balloon race where the guests make two teams. Give each player a balloon filled with water. Everyone races to a chair on the other side of the pool and sits on the water balloon to break it. The first team to have all players pop their balloons is the winner. Another fun activity is to have a cannonball competition to see who can make the biggest splash. For more fun, toss a bunch of pennies in the pool. Have everyone jump in to retrieve the pennies one at a time. The person with the biggest pile at the end wins. And, of course, there is always the water wars games. Grab some water guns or water balloons or sponges and start soaking each other. Be sure to have plenty of pizza and snacks available. Water games can make you VERY hungry. Happy birthday and have lots of fun.

Family Time

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

This suggestion came to me through a reader. It was so nice, I thought I would post it for everyone to see.

Board games like Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble can be fun Have a old fashioned games party each person bring a game that doesnt use electricity or batteries and see what happens Children can work in pairs against another pair with winners having most points as a team effort Chess and Checkers are old favorites too Problem with many of the Electronic TV games is that there often is NO human interaction you play against a computer Thats no fun lol And what adults present should strive for is teaching how to be a good loser as well as a winner Winners should be encouraged to shake hands with the loser Some youth sports teams also encourage sportsmanship too

Aesop’s Dog and Wolf Fable As I See It

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

When you home school your children, you have the fun of re-learning all kinds of interesting things you learned as a child. I admit that, as a child, I never really thought Aesop’s Fables were all that interesting. Sometimes I thought the characters were downright dumb. Re-reading them with my granddaughter, I’m seeing a little wisdom here and there that I might have missed when I was younger.

The dog and wolf fable tells of a wolf who finds himself in the middle of a tough winter with little food and no shelter. One day a nicely fed and happy dog comes by to talk with him. The dog assures him he has plenty of food and warmth and plenty of work to do for his master. The wolf wants those things and so begins to go with the dog until he notices that the dog has a collar. When the dog explains that the collar is to tie him up at night, the wolf decides against going with the dog.

When I was a child, the moral of the story was always at the end but in today’s 1st grade worksheets, they leave that part out so we get to make our own moral. For me, the moral would be that too many of us want the good life but we aren’t willing to pay the price to get it. We want the nicer things in life but, in order to get them, we have to go to school to train to get the better paying jobs. Then we have to work the hours necessary in those jobs in order to afford the good life. In almost everything that is worthwhile in life, there is a catch. In order to have the stability and security of a good marriage, you have to give up the right to play the field. Of course, if you want to play the field, you give up the stability and security of a good marriage. In order to know the joy of having children, you must give up the personal freedom you had prior to their birth. You also give up a great deal of financial freedom. You can keep the personal freedom and the money but you lose the truly wonderful experience of being a parent.

You get my point. The old physics truth that for every force there is an equal and opposite force seems to apply here. The trick is in deciding what is important for you. The wolf wanted plenty of food and the warm bed at night but he wasn’t willing to give up that freedom to howl at the moon each night. For me, he lost a lot to gain a little. How about you? Are you losing a lot to gain a little? Should you be changing something in your life but you’re not willing to give up that little to get the potential gain? Something to think about.

Double Dates

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Q: My brother-in-law and his wife just moved back home. Now he wants my husband and I to double date with him with his old high school girlfriend. I like his wife and don’t want to do this but my husband says we have to because he is family. What do you think?

A: I think you should trust your instincts and stay home. Your brother-in-law’s morals are less than sterling. You don’t have to sink to his level. Cheating on your wife is not an acceptable behavior. Your husband is letting the ‘family argument’ cloud his judgment. I think you should remind him of something his mother has told him at least 100 times. “If your brother jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?” It’s a little bit tough sometimes to take a stand but if I were you, I’d just say ‘no’!

Small Dogs

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Q: A couple months ago, I bought the cutest little dog. She is adorable. The breeder says she is a Chorkie (half yorkie, half Chihuahua). I love her. I can hardly wait to get home from work and hold her. She sleeps in my bed and shares my dinner with me. She’s the best roommate ever! She gives me wonderful companionship and never wants the remote. She has started biting though. If she gets angry with me for anything she actually nips at me. I’m not sure what that is about. I saw you had a yorkie. Do they nip like that?

A: I’m no vet or dog trainer but I do know that little dogs can get small dog syndrome. I’m not sure exactly what that is. It has something to do with being tiny and spoiled. Which may be your dog’s problem. I have several dogs so the other thing that comes to my mind is the alpha male attitude. Dogs historically ran in packs with one dog giving the orders. If you don’t establish yourself as the ‘alpha male’ – or the dog giving the orders – your dog will try to take that role. It sounds to me like your little one has decided that she is the boss in your home and is nipping at you when you step out of line. If I were you, I’d nip that behavior in the bud – no pun intended . I like to use the tube at the end of a paper towel roll instead of the traditional rolled up newspaper. I’m always afraid the newspaper will actually hurt the dogs but I know the paper towel tube won’t. I gently smack their little bottom when they try something like that just so they know I am in charge. I also use the spray bottle of water for discipline, usually when mine are barking. (When you have more than one dog, barking can be a problem if you don’t control it). So, basically, my dogs know I’m the boss or the ‘alpha male’ in the group. As soon as your little one accepts that you love her but you are the boss, I think your trouble with nipping will end.