Grilled Grandma: Grandma Krista of A Grand Journey

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How many children do you have?

I have two boys

How many grandchildren? What are their ages?

I have two darling granddaughters, ages 3 and 1

Any great grandchildren?

Nope, but I hope to be around to see some.

What do your grandchildren call you?

The one year old doesn’t say much.  She just smiles at me.  The older one started calling me “mama” as soon as she could babble (which confused some people outside the family).  Recently, she has started calling me “ga-ma”.  My official name is grandma.

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After the initial elation, what was your first concern upon hearing you would soon be a grandmother?

My husband and I want to be active participants in our grandchildren’s lives. We live an hour away and we were concerned about not getting to spend enough time with them. This concern has worked its way out, they either come to us or we go to them on a regular basis.

How often do you get to see your grandchildren?

We usually see them once a week. Every few months we watch them in the evening and sometimes they have a sleepover.  We like the occasional sleep over but it does require embracing a night or two less Z’s.

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What is the best thing about being a grandma?

I love the excitement they exude when they see me. It’s hard to describe, like you are the best thing they have seen all day.

What is the most challenging part of being a grandma?

Holding my tongue.  After raising two kids, I feel like I have a huge encyclopedia (maybe I should be hip and say Wikipedia) of experience to share. I remember as a young mother wanting to do things “my way”.  Maybe I was trying to prove myself or maybe a lot of new parents feel that way.  I respect and trust my son and daughter-in-law to raise their kids the way they feel is right, so I “try” to hold my comments. Actually, I don’t hold them completely, but I try to softly and strategically inform or encourage without seeming critical or judgmental. Funny thing is the girls are turning out just fine without all my sage advice.

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Describe a recent time that one (or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh out loud.

We were having breakfast at a diner.  I had ordered my not yet three year old granddaughter a Mickey Mouse pancake, which came decked out with whipped cream and berries. The waitress sat the plate in front of her. She immediately took her finger and swiped up a whip cream eyeball, stuck it in her mouth and declared quite loudly, “Oh that is yummy!”  I wasn’t the only one who laughed.

What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house?

We live within walking distance of the beach.  In all seasons, unless we are having bad weather, we take a stroll on the beach and throw rocks into the water.  In the summer it is definitely the blow up pool and playing with the water from garden hose.

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house?

We play pretend.  My oldest granddaughter likes to pretend we are driving in the car.  She gathers some belongings (usually a doll and a backpack), we sit on the couch, she starts the engine and she drives us somewhere.  I try to make it fun for her, so I play along and chat like we are old friends on a road trip.

What/where has been your favorite family vacation?

Last September we took our first family vacation, to Washington D.C.  We chose D.C. because the flight was only an hour and a half (remember we had an infant and toddler in tow) and there are lots of free things to do. Relaxing was also at the top of our agenda so we chose a hotel that had an indoor pool. It was really fun. Everyone got to choose something they wanted to see and there was still plenty of downtime. I would vote for Washington D.C. as a family friendly destination.

How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits?

We do get to see each other once a week, occasionally more.  But if we miss a week or two we try to call, Skype or Facetime.  My oldest granddaughter isn’t great at having a traditional phone conversation but she is very comfortable with Facetime.  My son started Facetiming her before she could walk.

What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren?

I would like pass along to them a confidence and comfortableness about who they are. Also, I would like them to be loving and caring people.

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

Acceptance. When you think about someone who just accepts you, it gives you a warm feeling on the inside. I want them to feel that when they think of me.

What is one thing you wish you had learned earlier as a grandparent?

You don’t have to win the ‘Best Grandparent in the World’ award in order to obtain your grandchildren’s affections. I was overly concerned about being a ‘perfect’ grandma. The kind of grandma who always does cool crafts and who doesn’t mind playing on the floor, but that isn’t me.  I discovered that grandkids love us, even without all the fun and exciting trappings. Grandparents have a special place in their grandchildren’s hearts, just like they have a special place in ours.  It can’t be explained, it just is.

What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma?

Find out how you can help. It is exhausting being a new parent. Offer to watch the baby (even for an hour, so they can take a shower or a nap), make a meal or wash a load of laundry.  Make it easy for them to ask you for help.

Is there anything else you would you like to add about being a grandmother?

Relax. Your grandchildren will love the grandma that is you.   

Do you have a website or blog? What is the URL and what is it about?

My blog is called A Grand Journey: I write about the adventures in this stage of my life as a grandmother, mother and wife.

• If you would like to be featured as a Grilled Grandma or know of a grandma whom you'd like to nominate to be grilled, please email me with the subject line GRILLED GRANDMA and include the grandma's name and email address. Thank you!