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Welcome!

Thank you for visiting Grandma's Briefs, where I write on the good, bad, humorous and heartwarming of being a baby boomer, grandparent, parent to adult children, wife and writer. Peruse the place, leave a comment or two, and feel free to email me any time at Lisa@GrandmasBriefs.com.

Meet the family

 grandma and grandpa
Lisa (me) and Jim (aka PawDad)

blended family
Brianna (oldest daughter) and hubby Patrick with his son James 

 grandsons and parents
Megan (middle daughter) with hubby Preston and Declan, Camden, and Brayden
 

youngest and her fiance
Andrea (youngest daughter) and hubby Matt

 

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    Tuesday
    Sep222009

    Little chicken

    September is National Chicken Month. So I sent Bubby a chicken.

    I originally planned to mail him the standard rubber chicken, which would be kind of funny in a weird, what-the-hell-is-Grandma-thinking kind of way. But those, apparently, are not intended for children under the age of three.

    So I gifted him with a Fisher-Price Shake 'N Go Chicken.

    Bubby wasn't too impressed.

    That's okay. There's always an opportunity to razzle and dazzle him in October -- which is National Raptor Month ... Squirrel Awareness Month ... Go Hog Wild - Eat Country Ham Month ... Liver Awareness Month ... . The options are endless!

    Be afraid prepared, Bubby, be very afraid prepared!*

     

    (*When this phrase popped into my head, I wondered where it came from. Do you know? It's the tagline from the 1986 version of "The Fly.")

    Monday
    Sep212009

    Prize Patrol

    I hereby admit that I spend an inordinate amount of time entering the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes (online at PCH.com, not the paper entries with lots of stickers and such). I figure my odds are getting better and better, especially now that I'm a grandma. It seems that it's always old people who get to scream and cry and shout "hallelujah!" when the PCH Prize Patrol rolls up to their house and knocks on their door, flowers, balloons and an oversized check in hand.

    I've known for many years that I will be visited by the Prize Patrol myself one day. I had Megan so convinced one year that on the date the Prize Patrol was scheduled to choose a winner, she was quite devastated when our doorbell never rang. I learned then that I need to keep my PCH beliefs tempered ... at least with the girls ... at least until PCH does show up at my door.

    At performance review time at my most recent job, when I had to write down my one-year and five-year goals, my five year plan always included some mention of winning PCH. I've never been a ladder climber and figured it was better to be honest with my employer that once the oversized PCH check arrived they'd have to find a replacement for me. It usually brought a few chuckles during the review process; they apparently didn't understand how serious I was.

    But I am serious. One day I will win PCH! You all read it here. And when I do, it's not new cars or a new house or fancy clothes or high-end globe trotting that'll be among my first purchases (after paying off bills, tithing and helping out family, of course). No, my first big purchase will be a ...

    JUNGLE GYM! Much like this one:

    Very cool, don't you think?! I can just see Bubby climbing, sliding, swinging ... and leading the swarm of grandkids to come in all sorts of creative play at Grandma's.

    Of course, those of you who've been to my house know that my yard won't accommodate such a splendiferous structure, so the other part of the plan -- and Jim and the girls and even some friends have already heard all about this -- is that I will offer lots of money to my next-door neighbor, raze their trashy home (an eyesore for the neighborhood!) and create the play area of all play areas there. Where I can watch my grandkids play. Right from my living room window.

    An added bonus: Razing the house next door will give us back the view of America's Mountain that originally belonged to this house, before the neighbors made their mess (aka home) there! I can't wait to watch the sun set over the majestic peak.

    So, note to PCH Prize Patrol: I do believe my time has come. You've received thousands of entries from me. I'm now old enough and grandma-like enough for you to roll up in my driveway, bearing an oversized check with my name on it. I'm not much of a screamer, but I promise to shout and scream and cry appropriately for your cameras. So bring it on ... please ... Jim has only two weeks left at his job and we could certainly use the money for the mortgage and health insurance -- and a jungle gym!

    Sunday
    Sep202009

    Fave photo of the week

    More fun at the park!

    Saturday
    Sep192009

    The Saturday Post

    My friend Kate recommended to me the book Good Granny/Bad Granny yesterday. "I saw this at a store downtown and snapped a photo of it because I knew it had your name all over it," her e-mail said.

    Of course I had to check it out ... and add it to my Amazon wishlist. I definitely want to read more to find out if I'm a good granny or a bad granny. (From the preview pages I read on Amazon, I think I'm a little of both).

    Then I googled it for a little more info. One of the top results was this video by the author, Mary McHugh. What strikes me most about the video -- besides the fact it looks like she made it in her bedroom, just like all the teens who post videos on YouTube do, recording themselves in secret so Mom and Dad don't know what they're doing -- is this woman's self-confidence and pluck. She has to feel very at ease with herself in order to put out such a video for all her potential book-buyers to see.

    I hope that as I get more settled into my grandma skin I can be as comfortable in that skin as Mary McHugh seems to be in hers. Well, minus the tap-dancing -- which I can pretty much assure you I'll never be able to do -- and the sorta creepy way she acts and looks at the camera occasionally, which might make any mother wonder if it's safe to send Junior to Granny's.

    Friday
    Sep182009

    Friday Haiku Contest Winner!

    Thank you for all the touching and creative haikus submitted in last week's contest! I was quite impressed by your poetic abilities. I narrowed down the submissions, considering for the weekly winner designation those that used the theme word of the week (tree), and have chosen the following as the very first Friday Haiku Contest winner!

    Over the debris
    The tree was a sentinel
    Shading the lives lost.


    -In memory of 9/11/2001

    By Laurie

    Congratulations, Laurie!

    And your fantastic prize -- I promised super duper goodies for the winner! -- is that ever-popular favorite from 1965, the "Profitable Hobbies Handbook" by Alan D. Haas!

      

    It may be hard to see in the photo, but the previous owner of this little gem emphatically scrawled "Poodle Grooming page 20" just below the title! It's a sure way to secure some extra cash in these difficult economic times. And if poodle grooming isn't for you, check out the chapter on Private Printing ... we all know print publications are in historically high demand right now, right!?

    Again, congratulations, Laurie! Thank you for entering. I hope to see more haikus from you!

    And I hope to see haikus from lots of my Grandma's Briefs readers. For details on this week's Friday Haiku Contest, click AND ENTER here!

    Thursday
    Sep172009

    Unbridled joy

    I've made it pretty clear here, I believe, that I really hate that Bubby lives 819 miles away from me. I don't get to hug him or hear his laughter or read books to him or dance with him or listen to his toddler talk or "rocky" him or watch him fall asleep nearly as much as I'd like. I envy grandparents whose grandchildren live within a few hours drive from them.

    But I guess that if Bubby, Megan and Preston are going to reside hours and hours away from me, the desert is a pretty good place for them to be. That's probably surprising to hear, since I've also made it pretty clear here how much I hate the heat they live in.

    But the advantage of them living where they do is that come mid-October -- when Jim and I head off to the desert to visit Bubby -- although it may be snowy and cold here in the mountains, it'll be absolutely fantastic park-visiting weather there.

    Which means, we'll get to see in person the unbridled joy Bubby gets from climbing to the top of the playground slide, plopping down on his butt, then free-falling to the bottom.

    Just ... like ... this ....

    I can't wait!!

    Wednesday
    Sep162009

    Bizarre home story

    As many of you know, Brianna's been househunting. She had a relatively small amount of money awarded to her (finally) after having been rear-ended by a landscaping truck several years ago and needed to invest it wisely so she'd have funds available in the event she needed another back surgery any time in the future.

    The depressed housing market and the $8,000 tax credit incentive were working in her favor. But, like I said, her budget was pretty small, so very few homes were available in her price range, in a decent part of town and in fairly good shape.

    After several months of researching homes online, Brianna narrowed it down to a few to look at. Together, with her realtor, she and I headed out one day last week to visit the top four choices on her list.

    Three were absolutely horrid. Of those three, two were unbelievably structurally unsound -- one had a crack so large in the bedroom wall that you could see into the bathroom and the other provided a crazy funhouse effect, thanks to the sloping floors. The third horrid home was so filthy it made us want to gag but the unusable floor plan was the main reason for deletion from her list to consider further.

    The fourth home we saw that day was the one. It was in a great location near her church, not far from work, in the same neighborhood as a friend. It was a HUD home and needed some work, but she and her realtor put in a bid. And she found out in less than 24 hours that her bid was accepted! She was getting a home for $30,000 less than its appraised value (an August 2009 appraisal). The inspection proved there were no major problems. Brianna will be a homeowner ... after all the HUD hoops are jumped through, of course. But being a cash deal with a completed inspection and appraisal, it's basically a done deal.

    So why the "Bizarre" in the title of this post? Well, it will be a wonderful home for Brianna and Hunter, and I know that for a fact because ... and here's the "bizarre" part ... IT'S THE TOWNHOME JIM AND I BOUGHT FOR OUR LITTLE FAMILY IN 1984! Not just a townhome in the same neighborhood or the same complex where we bought our first home, but the exact same home with the exact same address!

    This wouldn't be incredibly surprising if we lived in a small town where homes are recycled with families all the time, but the population of our city is creeping up on the half-million mark. So for Brianna to have this exact home basically fall in her lap, with nothing else even remotely close to being what she wants, in her budget range and the location she wants to live, is bizarre. To say the least. I think you'll agree.

    It's the house where our two little girls ...

    ... became three.

    Where stockings were hung ...

    ... and pumpkins were carved.

    Where happy, vibrant Granny came to visit.

    And Grandma, too. (When her grandchildren numbered five; it's now closer to 25!)

    It was the first stop for Grandma and Grandpa Jerry just after their wedding ceremony.

    And a great place for hanging out at the pool.

    The fireplace was a prime spot for posing ...

    ... and roasting marshmallows, too.

    It's where our little family was made complete. It was our home, in every sense of the word, for three happy -- yet humble -- years.

    Now it's Brianna's. And there's something weirdly satisfying in that.

    Brianna will make it uniquely her own, the memories of three goofy little girls getting their bearings there will fade. It's where she will get her bearings as an adult ... on her own ... with an empty canvas awaiting all her HGTV-gleaned ideas ... and no mortgage -- hallelujah!!

    So she's got her car ... she's got her home.

    Brianna's ready to roll!

    Tuesday
    Sep152009

    Bird song

    About a year and a half ago, I started taking piano lessons. I've always wanted to learn to play and the key elements in allowing me to do that at my advanced age lined up in early 2008: The sale of our previous home provided funds to purchase a gorgeous old oak upright and I had a friend who had a friend who was kicking off a career as a piano teacher and looking for adult students. Oh, and I had a regular income that afforded weekly lessons ... which is no longer the case so I'm down to just twice a month for now which may not seem like a huge difference but, believe me, it is.

    But anyway, the lessons were my first exposure and instruction in reading music. And although I'm very far from the 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell posits in Outliers is the key to expert status in any endeavor, I'm getting better and no longer have to recite every good boy does fine or great big dogs fight always every single time when trying to find my spot on the scale. (I just have to do it sometimes now.) My newfound skill has given me a sincere appreciation for written music.

    Pair that appreciation with my fondness for wild birds and a lifelong fascination with the way they perfectly space themselves on electrical wires (yeah, I'm weird) and you'll see why I find the following short video so beautiful. Regardless of your musical or avian interests, I think you'll be impressed by the creativity of the man who created this, too.*

    In his own words, Jarbas Agnelli says: Reading a newspaper, I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires. I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit). I knew it wasn't the most original idea in the universe. I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating. Here I've posted a short video made with the photo, the music and the score (composed by the birds).

    Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

    *I really don't like posting a video two days in a row, but this one was hard to pass up.