Grilled Grandma: Marilyn

How many children do you have? My husband and I have 6 children aging from 50 years down to 38. Three girls and three boys.

How many grandchildren? What are their ages? We have six grandchildren aging from 29, 26, 11, 10 1/2, 8 and down to 2.  Four girls and two boys.

Any great grandchildren? No not yet!!!

What do your grandchildren call you? Grammie

How often do you get to see your grandchildren? It varies. The 29 (Karen) and 26 (Keri) year old granddaughters work and are going back to college for advanced degrees and live out of town (Austin, TX.)  So mainly at Christmas.
The 11 year old granddaughter, Haley, and 8 year old grandson, Carson, live out of town in Dallas, TX but I see them about 4 to 5 times a year.
The 10 year old granddaughter, Elizabeth, lives in another state, (Atlanta, GA) and I see her about 3 times a year.
The 2 year old grandson, Ian, lives out of town (Austin, TX) but a little closer and we see him about 5 times a year.

What is the best thing about being a grandma? So many things. Seeing the world through their young, innocent eyes. The kids running in the house screaming Grammie we're here and giving me hugs that almost knock me over!! The kids looking forward to my special surprises. When I visit them I always have a few surprises in my suitcase that I pull out from time to time during my visit. Telling stories to each other. Playing games and then Grammie Camp each summer. With the oldest two we have quiet lunches on birthdays at times now. But when they were little all the above applied plus I helped each of them make a quilt one year!!

What is the most challenging part of being a grandma? Not seeing them enough, having enough energy to keep up with them. Seeing them get too many things. It is hard to buy for them because they have everything. But I've learned that what they really want is your love and your time.

Describe a recent time that one (or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh out loud. I was holding one of my granddaughters in my arms and I looked down at her and I commented on her long, thick, beautiful eyelashes.  Using the same loving, admiring tone that I had used she said "and Grammie, you have such beautiful broken ones". She was giving me what she thought was a sincere compliment because that was what she saw!

What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house? I have a bedroom full of toys for all ages except for the oldest two and they all love to run upstairs to play with them. I have a large collection of books that we read together. I have two large drawers in my sewing room that are full of all kinds of craft materials. So we are always making something. My husband built a large play center in the backyard and in the summer he has hooked up pipes along the top of it (that he drilled holes in) and when they start swinging he turns on the water and it sprays on them. In Texas, it can get hot and they love that.  

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house? That can be harder. I do take games from time to time that I think they haven't played before. We have tea parties at Barnes and Noble!! Since I started taking them to look at books when they were around two years old I would take them first to the café in the bookstore. I would order two large decaf hot peach tea in the paper cups, a chocolate covered graham cracker for each of us and ask the clerk to give us demitasse cups. We would then pour our tea in our cups and have a special tea party. Then we would go and read books and they each got to pick out a favorite one to bring home. Because this became so much a part of our visits they would greet me at the door and ask when we were going to Barnes and Noble before they could even say it very clearly. I now have a huge portrait of all of the grandchildren (minus the 2 year old because he wasn't born at the time) above my piano with their tea table, cups and saucers and the Victorian Tea Party Hats I bought them having tea. Many a time as I sit in the living room I will sit and just look at that portrait. I think it is the most special thing that I own.

How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits? That has been harder. The two oldest grandchildren lived very close to me when they were little and they were at our house all the time. Most of their birthday parties and all holidays were with us at our house. The others when they were real small like our two year old is now, they couldn't talk on the telephone or even understand cards and we visited them a lot more. We helped the Moms take care of them when they were babies and toddlers but after they started school we went less frequently. We have now installed Skype on our computer and the other families are installing it on their computers so we will be able to talk to each other and see each other at the same time. I have sent them magazine subscriptions to Family Fun so they could find crafts they liked and they could make them with their Moms and Dads. They loved to get mail and I found some small, inexpensive games and puzzels at Cracker Barrel and would send them to them every month or so.

What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren? The love of a God that is so in love with them that they can talk to Him whenever they want and depend upon Him to always be there for them. The love of reading and getting a good education. The love of family and a love of our wonderful country. And to know how much they are loved no matter what they do, unconditionally.

What is one word you hope your grandkids think of when they think of you? Love