The F-ing guide to grandparenting

how to be a grandparent

Without consistent commitment to the use of certain F-words, where might a grandparent be?

Not nearly as effective — or memorable — if you ask me.

Though many grandparents eliminate F-words from their vocabularies (at least when the G-kids are around) or ban the use of them from the kids themselves, I feel quite strongly that F-words should be accessed and emphasized. As often as possible. Especially when grandchildren are around.

Following are a few such F-words, five favorites of mine I focus on and do my best to use regularly in an effort to make a memorable impact...

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Hope for hope! Plus GRAND Social No. 254 link party for grandparents

Hope for hope!!

I'm a fan of TED Talks, the easy-to-access messages of motivation and inspiration. This past week, a special TED Talk made waves across social media. It was a talk by Pope Francis for TED2017, recorded in Vatican City.

Although I'm not Catholic (I'm Lutheran) and I don't really follow much on the Pope, from what I've seen and heard, I do think he's a good man. And I do believe this particular message — on hope, personal responsibility, tenderness and more — would benefit each and every one of us now and for generations going forward if we took his message to heart, if we put the sentiments into action.

If you haven't seen Pope Francis' powerful TED Talk, here it is:


A few of my fave quotes...

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A cautionary tale: Look before they leap

Poor Bud — and Brianna — learned a painful lesson the hard way not too long ago. A lesson in something I never really considered, as a parent or as a grandparent.

See, on a recent sunny day, Bud and Brianna headed to the local skatepark. Bud, a budding skateboarder, was excited to spend a couple hours trying out a park he'd not yet frequented. (Truth be told, I think he had frequented very few skate parks — if any — since his passion for boarding began.)

I had babysat Bud that morning, and he mentioned several times the fun he looked forward to that afternoon.

To say the kid was pumped is an understatement.

After lunch that day, Brianna and Bud headed to the skate park. As soon as they arrived, Bud could contain himself no longer. He quickly donned his helmet, grabbed his board, and raced to his first obstacle: an awesome, amazing, yet seemingly (relatively) safe jump.

It looked like this:

skatepark obstacle 

Bud figured he'd go up the angled ramp on the front side and down...

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7 benefits of being a long-distance grandparent

I am a long-distance grandma. Have been from the beginning of my grandma gig.

The first few years I moaned and groaned ceaselessly about the miles separating me and my sweeties.

I'm now nearly nine years into grandmahood. In that time I've thankfully learned there is indeed — unbelievable as I first thought it might be — a bright side to my grandbabies living so far from me.

Following are a few such perks on which fellow long-distance grandparents just might agree.

long-distance grandparent 


Bathroom breaks at my house are a breeze.
I never need straddle a step stool when using the toilet. Nor do I have to question who left the seat up as only two...

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I say that shutting up is hard to do

Dear Mr. Sedaka,

You were so right. I know that it's true. Breaking up is hard to do. Especially for teens, when true love seems a fickle, heartbreaking foe.

I do know how difficult breaking up can be. I've been there, done that. Long, long ago, admittedly one of the billions of boomers who once sang away heartbreak blues crooning along to your catchy, comforting tune.

I'm decades removed from being a youngster longing for love. And in the years since breakups with beaus broke my heart, I've found something more difficult to do than breaking up, Mr. Sedaka. And that's shutting up.

Trust me: It's waaaay harder to do than breaking up.

I'm not talking about shutting up regarding social or personal injustice. No one should ...

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Grandma takes on Tarzan

When a mother becomes a grandmother, she welcomes into her brood not only the human children of her children but the four-legged lovies of those kids and grandkids, too.

I'm talking grandpets.

I've taken care of grandpets galore throughout the eight-plus years I've been a grandma. Mostly canine critters such as Andrea's Luke and Brianna's Hunter and Max.

Over Labor Day Weekend, Brianna, Patrick, and Bud travelled to the desert to play in the pool and hike through hot, dry hills with Bubby, Mac, Jak, and their parents. I was charged with watching granddogs Hunter and Max plus their feline family members, my grandcats Alice and Mackenzie.

Plus another grandpet, one that belongs to Bud.

Meet Tarzan, Bud's "crested eyelash gecko":

crested eyelash gecko 

When I became grandma to kids and critters, I never...

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An evil weevil repeat

Dear readers: Several years ago I shared the following story as part of a paid campaign. Here I share it again (modified) simply because weevils and their evils are on my mind once more as I prepare to host Thanksgiving dinner.

indian corn
photo: stock.xchng

Many years ago I established a tradition of spreading Indian-corn kernels on the Thanksgiving dinner table. Friends and family are invited to place kernels symbolizing their personal blessings in the special "gratitude" dish at any time during the meal.

It’s a kinder, gentler, and less intrusive way of getting all around the table to give thanks without shining an invasive spotlight on folks not used to spotlights or  expressing gratitude out loud, be it to friends or to family.

I could never explain the tradition to newcomers to our Thanksgiving table. Each time I'd begin the explanation, I would get...

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'The 50 States': 50 surprising facts from an engaging, trivia-stuffed, oversized tome

I've never been good at geography, not even United States geography. Those states beginning with vowels located in the center of the country trip me up every time.

I think part of my problem with geography not sticking in my brain is because it was never presented to me in a fun, memorable manner. A book I recently received free for review, though, is fun, is memorable, and is all about the 50 states—even those midwest ones that begin with I's and O's and are situated beneath and between two that begin with M.

The book is aptly titled The 50 States: Explore the U.S.A. with 50 fact-filled maps!, written and researched by Gabrielle Balkan and lavishly—and whimsically—illustrated by Sol Linero. This is the kind of book that encourages kids to learn and remember maps and more, the kind of book that makes a perfect family gift (and school report resource).

the 50 states 

In addition to colorful, informative front and back inside covers...

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2 things I learned while up on my roof

I have lived in my house nearly eight years but had never been up on my roof.

Until the Fourth of July.

On July Fourth, Jim and I decided to sit on our roof to watch the many Fourth of July fireworks displays that take place to the east of us and to the west of us. Here's what I learned while up there:

ONE: I need to learn how to photograph fireworks.

These are the best fireworks shots—of more than 70—that I got:


Not so great. I'll be...

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8 reasons grandparents should not resist a rest

Once you're old enough to be a grandparent, a good night's sleep is hard to come by. Chalk it up to hormones, hot flashes, medications, and more. Considering the causes can be exhausting in itself.

Despite our continual quest to quench our desire for downtime, we grandparents often flat-out refuse to rest our weary heads when we're with our grandchildren. Whether it's because we feel guilty or we simply want to "get stuff done," resisting a rest can be detrimental to our health and happiness. Detrimental to the health and happiness of our grandchildren, too—especially when they're in our care.

Here's why:

sleeping woman and dog 


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Grandma's magnifying glass lesson

My two oldest grandsons, Bubby and Mac, love Scooby Doo and the idea of solving mysteries. So when I visited them in January, I brought along an old magnifying glass we had lying around.

The boys got a kick out of taking a closer look at bugs and rocks—as they previously had with a toy magnifying glass I once brought—and pretending they were on the path to discovering clues that might solve a case of an imaginary Scooby Doo and the gang sort.

magnifying glass and boys 

When I packed my grandma bag for this current visit, I figured I'd...

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