Grilled Grandma: Sharon

What is a Grilled Grandma? A Grilled Grandma is a grandma whom I've grilled with some grandma-related questions, and she's graciously responded with answers and photos. Here is Grilled Grandma Sharon:

How many children do you have? My daughter Megan is 31 and my son Matt is 34. We chose our favorite names when they were born and didn't realize until a friend told us that our kids have the same initials, MCO. "You did that on purpose, right?" Um, sure!

How many grandchildren? What are their ages? Matt has four children: Maddie Mae just turned 6, Nicolas is 4, Tyler is 2, and Hunter is 10 months. Yes, they are close in age and life is never boring (or quiet) at their house.

Any great grandchildren? Willing to wait until my grands grow up for great-grands!

What do your grandchildren call you? They call me Grandma and my husband is Grandpa. My daughter-in-law's parents are Nana and Papa, so each of us has a distinct title. The only confusion comes with my mom being "GG," for great-grandma. Sometimes the kids puzzle over the great-grandma and grandma names.

After the initial elation, what was your first concern upon hearing you would soon be a grandmother? What I remember was the elation; I can't recall a concern until Bethany, my daughter-in-law, had some health issues late in the pregnancy. She landed in the hospital while on a trip. She was fine, though, after a short stay. Then we learned that Maddie was breech and would be born by C-section. We were so thankful she was healthy at birth.

How often do you get to see your grandchildren? Oh, this is the sad part of being a grandma! My grands are in Indiana and I live in California. Way too far apart! We've been able to visit about 3 times a year, but we haven't seen them since January. I would hop on a plane to Indy today if I could.

What is the best thing about being a grandma? Playing with the kids! My son and his wife are wonderful parents who are constantly teaching and molding the kids. So when we visit, our role is to enjoy time with the kids and keep them safe, rather than be stern in discipline. Reading books, playing Candyland, sledding, building with Legos -- those are the highlights for me.

What is the most challenging part of being a grandma? Definitely the distance. With the grands being so young, it's hard to carry on phone conversations.

Describe a recent time that one (or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh out loud. Two-year-old Tyler was crying hard, upset about something. I sat on the floor and cradled him on my lap as he sobbed. Suddenly he stopped crying, jumped up, and announced, "I happy now!" and ran off to tear around the room, smiling. That's a two-year-old for you.

What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house? When they last visited, we went to parks and played on the slides and swings. I loved climbing the ladders and sliding with them. And they made new friends with other kids there, which was great to see.

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house? We visit the Indiana Children's Museum every trip. It's four stories of fun activities for every age. My favorite is the carousel. Every one of us laughs through the whole ride.

How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits? My favorite way has been to mail postcards or gifts. Maddie's class studied the post office and requested that people mail the kids something. I mailed her a card with about a dozen separate little envelopes inside, each with a magnet of a Disney character, so she could enjoy opening all these with her friends. One time we sent postcards of bears from Lake Tahoe and Maddie took hers for show and tell. I love these mailings and should do this more often!

What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren? That they are loved unconditionally and that life is rich because of all the people who love them.

What is one word you hope your grandkids think of when they think of you? I have to name two words: love and fun. I hope they all know how much I love them; I also hope they remember fun times together.

What is one thing you wish you had learned earlier as a grandparent? Sometimes I turned down requests to babysit because I already had plans. If I could go back, I would cancel plans with friends to spend time with my grands. Now that they've moved far away, I wish I could go back and redo some days when I stuck to my commitments but missed out on family.

What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma? Enjoy every minute! Even if you live in the same area, you never know when you'll get news of a move. Don't take togetherness for granted.

Do you have a website or blog? What is it about? My blog is called Leaning Into Life. It's about finding encouragement in the commonplace. Some posts feature my grands; I hope all posts encourage readers to carry on through tough times and discouragement. Kids are great at pointing the way, aren't they?

Dear Readers: If you'd like to nominate a grandma for grilling—yourself or any other grandma—please e-mail me her first name and e-mail address and I'll take care of the rest. Thank you!