Grilled Grandma: Debbie

How many children do you have? Two. My daughter Krista is 30, and my son Tim is 26.

How many grandchildren? What are their ages? I have four grandkids, with one on the way. Krista has Sara, 4 1/2, Patrick, 3, and Becca, 1 1/2. Their baby brother, Zachary, is expected in July. Tim is the new father of Benson, born March 20.

Any great grandchildren? No.

What do your grandchildren call you? They call me “Googie,” a nickname invented by my mother when Sara was born.

After the initial elation, what was your first concern upon hearing you would soon be a grandmother? With Krista’s family located first two, and now three, hours away, I was worried that I might not get to be as close to my grandkids as my own children were to their two sets of grandparents.

How often do you get to see your grandchildren? I see Sara, Patrick, and Becca for multiple days about twice a month. Benson lives in my town, so I get to see him more often. I am looking forward to helping care for him next fall when his mama goes back to her teaching job.

What is the best thing about being a grandma? I like the fact that I can enjoy my time with them without other responsibilities. I am retired, so I don’t have to juggle job duties anymore. And I can always clean the house when they go home.

What is the most challenging part of being a grandma? Mastering the fine art of saying good-bye.

Describe a recent time that one (or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh out loud. Patrick loves to act out scenes from stories and movies. He is hilarious as a dog thief from 101 Dalmatians. He has been playing the part of Jasper since he was two, and his facial expressions and British accent make me laugh out loud every time.

What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house? I love to rock them and sing. We have a vast repertoire that includes kid songs, church songs, folk songs, country-western songs, and rock songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house? I always try to take a new book or two when I go to visit. We make a huge dog pile on the couch and read. They also like to show me the books they picked out at the library.

How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits? We have always kept in touch by phone, but several months ago we started Skyping. That is a wonderful way to see them and hear their voices when the days between visits stretch out a little too long. They always want me to read them a story while we are on Skype.

What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren? The sense that they are a vital and much-loved part of our extended family, and a historical record of what their childhood was like through my eyes. That’s why I blog and use my digital camera to take lots of pictures and videos.

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

What is one thing you wish you had learned earlier as a grandparent? I wish I had known earlier how much the kids would like PEZ.

What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma? Hit the garage sales for toys, books, and furnishings. You can set your house up as a kid-friendly place for little or nothing that way. Try to buy things that store easily, and, unless you have a whole lot of space, shy away from the really huge, space-consuming playthings.

Do you have a website or blog? What is it about? I began my blog, “Googie’s Attic,” in March, 2011. In it, I record and explore my perspectives on the experiences I am blessed to share with the kids in a way that I hope is insightful and entertaining. You can find it at