GRAND Social No. 291 link party for grandparents

GRAND Social No. 291 link party for grandparents

I typically begin each GRAND Social link party with a little blurb on something or another. I started that with this post — expressing thoughts on the horrible shooting at the Florida high school — but that blurb grew into a full-blow blog post in its own right. So I made it just that and share it here. I do hope you'll click over to read it: A plumber's daughter on shootings, guns, and mental illness.

On a much lighter note, thank you for participating in this week's GRAND Social link party — the longest running linky for grandparent bloggers and readers.

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Creating kindness in your life (Guest post)

Dear readers: This guest post was written by Kay and Leslie of GrandparentsLink, my fellow members in the GRANDparent Network. Considering the lack of kindness and compassion across our country the last far too many months thanks to the hostile political climate and anxiety following the election, the wisdom Kay and Leslie offer here is particularly worthy of reading, sharing, putting into practice.


Creating kindness in your life

As grandparents, we want to inspire our grandchildren, and one of the best ways to do this is by "doing" simple acts of kindness. The old adage about "setting an example" certainly...

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New grandma on the blogging block! Plus, GRAND Social No. 226 link party

New grandma on the blogging block!

I often receive emails from grandmothers asking me how to start a blog. Well, I tend to have limited time for my own blog, and I'm far from a pro at blog building. (Heck, I still use an old version of Squarespace that doesn't even allow comment threading because I don't have the time to figure out how to move to an updated one myself nor do I have the money to pay someone to do it for me!)

So my standard reply is this: Visit this site and this site and you will gain all the knowledge you need to get started. Those are the sites that were instrumental in providing exactly what I needed to launch Grandma's Briefs.

I very rarely hear back from those who ask for direction. A few days ago, though, I did.

A grandma named Judy — a grandmother of 10, my friends — emailed me in September asking how to go about blogging. I gave her my suggestions on sites. She emailed me Friday to say, "I did it! Come take a look!"

I took a look and am so very proud of Judy! Her site is called Judy's Junk Drawer, and it looks like this:

Judy's Junk Drawer blog

Please visit JudysJunkDrawer and give her...

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Introducing my Disney Grand Adventure co-adventurers

My Disney Grand Adventure wasn't only about experiencing the sights and sounds, thrills, chills, and spills of Walt Disney World with my daughter and grandsons. No, it was about work. My work as a member of the media.

I was joined on the work portion of the adventure — if you can call touring Walt Disney World resorts work — by a great group of gals. I spent nearly as much time with my media co-adventurers as I did my family, and I couldn't have been included with a better bunch of bloggers, writers, media mavens. They were funny, generous, interesting, inspiring, supportive, worth getting to know, worth following.

I'd like to introduce them to you.

Disney Grand Adventure media 

From left to right in our one and only group photo, taken on the grand stairs of...

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10 non-blogging things I learned at BlogHer '13

BlogHer '13 offered multiple and myriad sessions for gleaning new tips and tricks for the business of posting and publishing. I learned much beyond nitty gritty techniques to add to my blogging toolbox, though, things such as the following.


BlogHer '13

1. Don't be afraid to look foolish. BlogHer sponsors offer plenty of opportunities to look like a fool. I say "Do it!" Once you've donned fisherman gear or kicked back on a mattress in the center of a crowded conference hall, there's nothing else to fear others might see you do.

BlogHer '13 brands

(One caveat: With all the free booze flowing, you don't want to look foolish and passed out in the hotel lobby for all to see. Pacing yourself — or abstaining — is key.)

2. The coolest swag comes from unexpected places. Brands offer more than ways to look foolish. They hand out piles and piles of goodies (so much so that yes, the second suitcase is a necessity for the trip home). While the big brands hand out must-have items, I found my favorite to be from a pest control company. Yes, you read that right. Pest-control company Rescue! gave out mini kaleidoscopes. I love kaleidoscopes. Kaleidoscopes are cool.

Rescue! kaleidoscope

3. Brands are becoming more receptive to the baby boomer demographic. Speaking of brands, I was impressed by the number of brands who seemed sincerely excited about partnering with me — a baby boomer, empty-nester, grandma blogger. The most enthusiastic responses came from, FoodSaver, Bernina (at a non-BlogHer event), Serta, Chuck E. Cheese's, Cosmo Camp (also at a non-BlogHer event) and the reps for the National Restaurant Association's Kids Live Well program, to name just a few.

4. Lean Cuisine rocks frozen meals in unexpected ways. Still speaking of brands, I was invited to a luncheon sponsored by Lean Cuisine in celebration and promotion of their new line, Honestly Good. All I can say is Wow! And Yum! I'll say more later in a longer post specifically about Lean Cuisine's incredible chefs (real chefs, restaurant-owning chefs!) and dedication to fresh and healthy ingredients. It was an impressive luncheon accompanied by an informative — and tasty — presentation.

Honestly Good 

5. Next time, arrive the day before the conference begins. I didn't do this, which meant I had no time to experience what Chicago — a city I've never been to before — has to offer. Which meant other than photos taken of the Chicago River from my hotel room, this is my only touristy shot:

Chicago intersection

6. The best sessions have little to do with blogging and brands. Time with friends provided the most memorable moments.

Gino's Pizza 

7. Don't be afraid to go it alone. I chose to arrive late to breakfast one day and was a bit anxious about taking the shuttle without my friends and arriving late to the conference hall by myself. Going it alone, though, turned out to be unexpectedly rewarding when my shuttle seat mate turned out to be among the most enjoyable of women I met all weekend. Karen Malone Wright and I talked all the way to the conference hall, and we shared a breakfast table. We then ran into one another again at a party the next night, where Karen proceeded to be forever in my favor thanks to her gushing about how much I looked like Andie McDowell in Groundhog Day. How could I not forever appreciate such flattery?

8. The BlogHer Voice of the Year signs cost more to ship home than it would to make your own. The late-night antics that led to that realization? Priceless and memorable — and unmentionable in a public forum.

Voices of the Year sign

9. I want to be Tracy Beckerman. With her syndicated column running in 400 weekly community newspapers and her book, Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir, climbing the charts, what freelance writer and blogger wouldn't want to be Tracy Beckerman? Alas, I settled for her session on syndicating your work — one of my favorite sessions of BlogHer '13, in which Tracy explained how to be just like her. Stayed tuned for my transformation.

Lost in Suburbia

10. Conferences — and life! — are so much better when enjoyed with friends. Especially when those friends are (left to right) Jane Gassner, Sandra Sallin, Cathy Chester, Connie McLeod, Ruth Curran, Lois Alter Mark, Helene Cohen Bludman and Janie Emaus, all of whom — along with every other #GenFab member I hugged while there — made my BlogHer '13 experience so much more delightful than I ever hoped it might be.

BlogHer '13 friends

Today's question:

Which of the points above would you like to hear more about? (I just may write a separate post based on your interest.)

Joe Cocker kicks off the GRAND Social

Today the inimitable Joe Cocker turns 68 years old. In consideration of his birthday as well as the general spirit of our weekly link party here on Grandma's Briefs, I'd say the following song is the perfect way to kick off the new week, the ideal complement to yet another GRAND Social:

Happy birthday to Mr. Cocker! Happy GRAND Social to my friends! Cheers and thank you for joining me.


link party

How it works:

  • All grandparent bloggers are invited to add a link. You don't have to blog specifically about grandparenting, but you must be a grandparent who blogs.
  • To link up, copy the direct URL to the specific post — new or old — that you want to share, not the link to your blog's home page. Then click the blue "Click here to enter" text below and follow the directions to add your post and graphic to the list.
  • You can add up to three posts, but no duplicates, please, and none you have promoted on a previous GRAND Social linky. And no contests, giveaways, or Etsy sites, please.
  • Adding a mention at the bottom of your linked posts, such as This post has been linked to the GRAND Social linky, is appreciated. Or, you can post the GRAND Social button anywhere on your page using the following code:


<a href="/" target="_blank"><img src=" " alt="Grandma’" width="125" height="125" /></a>


  • The GRAND Social linky is open for new posts through Wednesday evening, so please come back to see those added after your first visit.
  • If you're not a blogger, you have the pleasure of being a reader. Bloggers who link up would be honored to have one and all — bloggers and readers — visit, read and, if so moved, comment, even if just a "Hey, stopping by from the GRAND Social."

Thank you for participating in the GRAND Social!


Celebrity crushes and the GRAND Social

Anthony Newly and Tom Jones - Courtesy

My fellow #GenerationFabulous friends are participating in a blog hop today. This closed Facebook group of truly fabulous women runs a blog hop each month, which usually ends up—in some manifestation—as a feature on Huffington Post.

I participated in the first #GenFab blog hop, which carried the theme of "What would you tell your 20-year-old self." This time around it's all about celebrity crushes. I don't have any. Didn't really have any, at least not of any post-worthy proportion. Not as an adolescent. Not as a teen. Not as a young mother, old mother, grandmother. I could have made such a declaration into a full-blown post, but each time I considered such, I thought, "Why should I post a post saying I have nothing to post?" How boring that might be for all of us. So I'm not participating this time.

Many of the lovely ladies of our #GenerationFabulous group did and do have crushes, though, and they did participate. linking up their posts en masse. Please take some time—after participating in the GRAND Social below, of course—to check out the crushing good posts of my fellow #GenFab friends. Two of the many places you'll find it is on Grilled Grandma Caryn's blog and the blog of regular Grandma's Briefs commenter Ginger Kay.

First things first, er, second, I guess, and that would be what's going down here: the GRAND Social link party for grandparents. Thank you for linking up your posts if you're a blogger, and for reading the posts of others whether you're a blogger or not. I'm grateful for your participation and the grand thoughts you share. Enjoy!

How it works:

  • All grandparent bloggers are invited to add a link. You don't have to blog specifically about grandparenting, but you must be a grandparent who blogs.
  • Posts shared can be an old one or a recent one, your choice.
  • To link up, copy the direct link to the specific post you want to share, not the link to your blog's home page. Then click the blue "Click here to enter" text below and follow the directions to add your post to the list.
  • You can add up to three posts, but no duplicates, please, and none you have promoted on a previous GRAND Social linky.
  • No contests, giveaways, or Etsy sites, please.
  • Adding a mention at the bottom of your linked posts, such as This post has been linked to the GRAND Social linky, is appreciated. Or, you can post the GRAND Social button using the following code:


<a href="/" target="_blank"><img src=" " alt="Grandma’" width="125" height="125" /></a>


  • The GRAND Social linky is open for new posts through Wednesday evening, so please come back to see those added after your first visit.
  • If you're not a blogger, you have the pleasure of being a reader. All bloggers who link up would be honored to have you—bloggers and readers—click, visit, read and comment.

READERS and PARTICIPATING BLOGGERS: Please visit the posts others have linked to by clicking on the thumbnail photos. Comments are always appreciated by the bloggers whose links you visit, even if it's simply "Hey, stopping by from GRAND Social."

Thank you for participating in the GRAND Social!

Friday free-for-all: Come vent with me

Come vent, whine, give kudos—to others or yourself—or anything your heart desires today. It's been a rough week. Now is the time and consider this the safe place to share whatever you choose for our Friday free-for-all.

As the grandma in charge, I have the honor of going first. Here is what's on my mind at the moment:

Photo courtesy Paola Gianturco• I'm nervous. I'm writing this yesterday (funny how such things work) but I'm nervous about today. I have the privilege of spending the day in Denver with Paola Gianturco, an amazing photojournalist who has published five books focusing on women. Her latest, Grandmother Power, is all about grandmothers around the world, and I've been invited to be her guest at a slide presentation about the book, her incredible adventures and her photography. This woman rocks—just look at her website and you'll agree. I'm nervous because I want to do right by her in all things I share afterward about her, her book, and our day together. I'm also nervous because I rock not even one-quarter as much as she does and I hope I don't bore the <cuss> out of her. Stay tuned for more—on Paola, not my idiotic nerves and insecurity. (Well, unless I really do bore her to tears.)

• I wish arranged marriages were still socially acceptable. That wish has nothing to do with my son-in-law Preston. Or any other official boyfriend of my daughters.

• I also wish I were more committed to exercising. I was pretty embarrassed to let myself see myself in the full-length mirror at JCPenney the other day. I either need to willingly exercise more often or install a full-length mirror near my shower to shame myself into doing it. Or both.

• I'm so incredibly grateful for friends whom I've never met in person yet have helped me secure (paying) writing and editing gigs. Thank you, Lisa, Mary Dell, and Carol.

• I'm still praying my grandsons fully recover from the crud. Bubby's cough—but hopefully not the flu—has returned and now he's doing breathing treatments, too.


• I'm also still praying for our fellow grandma Kelley, whose three new grandbabies were recently diagnosed with RSV. Everyone here is welcome to send prayers and positive thoughts her way, too.

There you have it. I feel better already. It's always nice to get things off your chest. Now it's your turn!

Today's question:

What's on your mind/heart/chest today?

Photo replay: Grandma playdate

While in the desert visiting my grandsons, I had the pleasure of meeting my bloggy friend and fellow grandma, Connie from Family Home and Life. I assure you, she's just as delightful and down-to-earth in person as she seems to be from on her blog.


Bubby and Mac—whom she now knows by their real names—adored her, warming to her in ways not typical of my grandsons when it comes to strangers. Her grandma appeal was undeniable, and they were happy to share stories and hugs with her, without coercion from Gramma.

Thank you to Bubby for his exceptional job in using Gramma's camera to capture a few photos of the two grandmas together. Thank you especially to Connie for taking time from her busy schedule to meet my grandsons and me in real life and for the delicious gift of her famous Mason Jar 3-2-1 Cake. It was a true pleasure.

Today's question:

How often have you had the pleasure of meeting online friends in person?

Black feet, black bears, and getting back to normal

Last week was a week I will never forget. A week so surreal, a week so not my normal.

My normal is as quiet as I want it to be, with time to do what I want, what I need, with all of that time punctuated with varying degrees of missing my grandsons.

Not last week, though. Last week my grandsons were at my house, and I was their primary caretaker. The house was blissfully loud—interspersed with occasional loud moments not so blissful, too, I must admit. I had little time to do what I needed for myself, but also no time to miss my grandsons, for they were by my side while their mom and dad attended a conference nearby. Time with Bubby and Mac was the very best part of my not-normal week.

My normal is relatively mild in terms of temperatures. Not so last week. Triple-digit heat, record heat, historically high heat literally never before felt in Colorado Springs marked the temperature gauge in unprecedented fashion. Day after day after day. It’s just heat, some might say. Stay in the house and turn on the air. It's no big deal. In a house—in my house—that has no air conditioning, though, it is a big deal. It’s hot. It’s hell. A hell I didn't want to deal with myself, much less impose upon my grandsons.

And then, well, then there was the Waldo Canyon Fire. The horrific part of the week. The heartbreaking part. The surreal part.

Tuesday evening rush hour, driving with my grandsonsSurreal in that on the west side of my city, hillsides, landmarks, homes were burning. People—families—were evacuated from their homes. Smoke and ash filled the sky, reaching as far as the city’s east side, my side.

Surreal in that every local television station went to 24/7 coverage of the disaster, the devastation. While my grandsons played nearby, I tried to watch. When they slept at night, Jim and I did watch, far into the night, especially on the most horrific day, on Tuesday.

Surreal in that I continually, obsessively checked Facebook, Twitter, email for news on friends and family, their safety and their homes. That I regularly received reports and texts from Megan and Preston as they tried—yet often failed—to enjoy their mountaintop conference and festivities while homes and Megan’s hometown burned within clear and heartbreaking view.

Surreal in that our health department warned residents to stay indoors, with windows shut and air-conditioning on, so as to not breathe in the ash and the soot. Having no air conditioning, we opted for taking the boys to various indoor play areas. We did our best each day to have a good time with them while the west side of our city burned. At night we wrestled with choosing between opening windows to let in cooler air to lower the hellish temps in the boys’ upstairs rooms or keeping the windows closed to avoid the soot and ash we were warned to keep out of our homes, our respiratory systems. Especially respiratory systems with itsy bitsy lungs the likes of Baby Mac’s…or even Bubby’s.

Wednesday afternoon, heading to an indoor play placeSurreal in that access to my mom, my sister, attractions we’d planned to visit with the boys was shut down, impassable for the entire week, as fire raged and firefighters needed to protect the highway, use the highway. That shelters, like refugee camps, were set up around the city for evacuees. That the state governor, the United States president visited to view my city’s disaster and devastation firsthand, to offer support.

We watched each day and each night—as often as we could while still attending to and enjoying our grandsons—as not only local news but national broadcasts revealed burned areas that looked like war zones, yet were neighborhoods I had visited, places friends lived. We and the rest of the city anxiously watched news conferences at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day for updates on the status of the fire and evacuees, the successes of the firefighters.

All this while I and every other resident not in the line of the fire worried about, prayed about, cried about those who were.

All this while my grandsons visited and the hellish hot temperatures continued.

Even after the initial shock and awe of the fire and its horrific trail and toll, strange things, things so very not normal, continued. Expected things like subconsciously searching the sky for new plumes of smoke and endlessly tossing about with others the figures related to homes burned, evacuees remaining, fire containment percentages.

Bubby's soot-covered feetUnexpected things, too. Such as realizing that going barefoot around my house—which my grandsons and I usually do—resulted in black soles thanks to the soot and the ash coating my home despite the miles between the fire and us. Black soles that required me to scrub my grandsons’ little piggies at bath time and scrub my own big piggies before bedtime to remove the grime. And the unexpected sound of packs of coyotes howling as they roamed my neighborhood, of having a black bear amble down my street. The coyotes and the bear, along with elk spotted in the center of town and countless other wild and displaced animals searched for a home that, like the 350 homes of local human residents, burned, is gone.

So strange. So sad.

This week I’m still sad about the displaced animals, the displaced people, the burned homes and trails and landmarks. Yet, this week, I feel a little closer to normal. The air and sky are clear of smoke, the ash and soot have been cleaned from my house. My grandsons have gone home, television coverage of the fires has been reduced to a crawl at the bottom of the screen. The pass to my mom has re-opened. The fire moves ever closer to containment.

I do still scan the sky for new smoke and for rain that would lower the still-hot temps and dampen the still-burning fire. And I make sure to watch the evening news and check #WaldoCanyonFire on Twitter throughout the day. I also continue to be on the lookout for lost and frightened animals in my neighborhood. Overall, though, it’s been relatively easy for me to get back to normal.

I’m fortunate, blessed, and thankful. For many others in my city, getting back to normal hasn’t been so easy. My heart, my thoughts, my prayers go out to them—to those who are still reeling, who must build new homes and new lives, who have yet to create a new normal.

Today's question:

The Waldo Canyon Fire evacuees had mere hours, sometimes less, to gather personal belongings from their homes. What would you grab first—other than people and pets—in the event of evacuation?