Summer break ends: What changed while I was away

Summer break ends: What changed while I was away

Grandma’s Briefs is back! Yep, the summer break I announced at the start of June is officially over.

While I was away from the site, a few changes took place. Some big, some small. Here’s a (relatively) quick update:

For starters, one blog change is that Grandma’s Briefs hit the 10-year mark in July! Hard to believe but true, as you can see from my very first post, published a decade ago.

Another blog change is that you’ll see a few new faces in the Meet the Family section of the sidebar, those being of Andrea’s new …

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Grandma Christmas crafts matter

Grandma Christmas crafts matter

The year my husband and I were married, his stepmom, Diane, whom I had never met and Jim hadn’t seen in years, sent us a lovely joint Christmas stocking she had made for us. She also sent an adorable handmade one for baby Brianna, who was born soon after we married.

Diane sent another precious stocking the following year, when Megan was born. And another two years after that for our baby Andie.

When Megan and Preston married and…

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GRAND Social — Grandparent linky — July 9

As I wrote the date for today's GRAND Social linky event in the title above, I couldn't help but smile. July 9 is the day my life forever changed, the day the dynamics of my family forever changed, the day twenty-seven years ago my Andrea entered the world and made it a much brighter, much more interesting place to be. Happy birthday to my littlest of girls who is now the tallest of all. I love you, Andie, and hope your day is filled with joy and laughter, as well as a few oh-so-worth-it calories, too.

July 9—this July 9—is also, of course, time for another GRAND Social. If past link-ups here are any indication, our day, too, will be filled with joy and laughter (and more!) as together we read one another's linked posts. Please join me!

How it works:

  • All grandparent bloggers are invited to add a link. You don't have to blog specifically about grandparenting, but you must be a grandparent who blogs.
  • Posts shared can be an old one or a recent one, your choice. I like to link up to older posts that current readers likely haven't seen.
  • To link up, copy the direct link to the specific post you want to share, not the link to your blog's home page. Then click the blue "Click here to enter" text below and follow the directions to add your post to the list.
  • You can add up to three posts, but no duplicates, please, and none you have promoted on a previous GRAND Social linky.
  • No contests, giveaways, or Etsy sites.
  • Adding a mention at the bottom of your linked posts, such as This post has been linked to the GRAND Social blogging event, is appreciated. Or, you can post the GRAND Social button using the following code:

Grandma’sBriefs.com

<a href="/" target="_blank"><img src="http://grandmasbriefs.squarespace.com/storage/GRANDsocialbutton.jpg " alt="Grandma’sBriefs.com" width="125" height="125" /></a>

 

  • The GRAND Social linky is open for new posts through Wednesday evening, so please come back to see those added after your first visit.
  • If you're not a blogger, you have the pleasure of being a reader. All bloggers who link up would be honored to have you click, visit, read and comment.

READERS and PARTICIPATING BLOGGERS: Please visit the posts others have linked to by clicking on the thumbnail photos. Comments are always appreciated by the bloggers whose links you visit, even if it's simply "Hey, stopping by from GRAND Social."

Thank you for participating in the GRAND Social grandparent linky!

Photo replay: Run, Andie, run

My youngest daughter, Andrea, set a personal record in her most recent five-mile run, yesterday's Frosty's Frozen 5 & 10 in Denver. With a final time of 42.32, she broke the 9-minute-mile barrier and averaged 8.5-minute miles. Woo-hoo!

Congratulations to Andie, not only for the PR but for finishing 171st out of 714 overall and 17 out of 82 in her division. (Plus, major props for picture-perfect posing for mom mere moments after crossing the finish line!)

Today's question:

If you could set a personal record in anything—sports-related or not—what would you like your record to be?

Serendipity

Brianna & Andrea, ready for Hugo in 3D."Our brightest blazes of gladness," Samuel Johnson once said, "are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks." I learned the truth of that this past Sunday.

Thanksgiving weekend was pleasant all the way around, but my favorite day of the long holiday wasn't the top-billed, highly planned for Thanksgiving Day. Nor was it the day after...or Saturday. It turned out to be Sunday. Unexpectedly. Unintentionally.

My youngest daughter, Andrea, was unable to join us for the Thanksgiving Day gathering because she had to work. We had talked about her possibly making the trek from Denver to home at some point over the long weekend if her schedule allowed, but there were no definite plans, not even as late as Saturday morning.

Then Sunday worked out for her, opened itself up for a visit. She headed home, Brianna headed over from her place, and Jim and I were fortunate to have two of our three daughters with us for the afternoon. And two out of three ain't bad at all.

We played the ABBA You Can Dance video game on the Wii. Andrea proved to be the true dancing queen, Brianna was the karaoke queen, I was the queen of busting moves to my own groove instead of those intended. And Jim...well, he just laughed while watching the rest of us, far too cool to grace us with ABBA moves of his own.

We ate the last of the Thanksgiving turkey and potatoes and more, not at the table in proper family dining fashion, but in front of the TV. We—okay, they—watched and talked about football. We ate pie. We conducted a mini chocolate taste-testing of Lindt Excellence chocolate bars for my Holiday Guide.

And we went to see Hugo, the 3D movie directed by Martin Scorsese, produced by Johnny Depp, and crowned with an A+ rating by Roger Ebert. That's all we knew beforehand, as the trailer doesn't come close (thankfully) to truly revealing the tale...so we were all delightfully surprised by how magical, moving, and memorable Hugo turned out to be.

Just like our unplanned, unexpected day turned out to be: delightful, surprising, magical, moving, memorable.

Today I bask in that blaze of gladness, sparked by pure serendipity.

Today's question:

What leftovers from Thanksgiving still remain in your refrigerator?

Soc(cer) it to me, baby

My youngest daughter, Andrea, was a soccer player. She got a late start at the game, first playing in high school, and only then because she wanted a spring sport but didn't want to run track. Her position was goal keeper, a spot no one else wanted. But she was a dandy keeper and even ended up getting a scholarship for college based on her soccer involvement. Our little Andie did quite well on the college level, too.

Our oldest grandson, Bubby, is now a soccer player, starting at a far younger age than his Aunt Andie. The week he, Baby Mac, and Megan visited in October was the week of his first soccer practice. So he missed his very first official instruction. Andrea, being the sole soccer player on either side of Bubby's extended family, gave him a few preliminary pointers while he was here so he'd be ready to roll once he returned home.

At three years old, being ready to roll...or pass or dribble or kick the ball into the goal is, understandably, a foreign concept. Right up there with not being able to touch the ball with your hands in the game of soccer...unless you're throwing it in from the side to your teammates whenever the confusing gameplay requires such.

Bubby's giving it the ol' college, er, toddler try, though, and Jim and I were fortunate to attend one of his soccer games during our recent visit. Here's a sampling of the action (Bubby's in the hood):

Like I said, it's a confusing game, especially for toddlers, I think. Even more confusing when you're the tiniest (probably youngest, too) peanut on the team. He'll get it though, I'm sure. He's off to a good start.

 

 

The best part—at least to Bubby, I think—is when the game is done and it's time to collect snacks to replenish after the hard work of playing.

Did Bubby and his teammates win the game Jim and I saw? I honestly couldn't tell ya. Soccer's a confusing game—especially when you're a three-year-old...or the grandma who had eyes only for that three-year-old out on the field.

Today's question:

What is your favorite sport to watch?

Coupon queen

Coupons are a hot commodity in my world. Sure, I use coupons for products when grocery shopping, but what I'm talking about here are coupons as gifts.

Somewhere along the line of rearing three daughters, creating coupons to be redeemed for good deeds and great times became a recurring gift, either from me to them or from them to me. Of those, I especially remember giving coupons for expensive jeans and athletic shoes that I surely would not pick out for a persnickety and brand-conscious teen daughter without her present to do the picking. I also recall often receiving coupons "good for one foot massage" (a popular one, as I do love me a good foot rub now and then).

As the girls grew older, their coupon gifts to me became more elaborate. Not all that many years ago, I received an entire book of coupons from Brianna, good for everything from dusting to dinner out to a night at the movies to — oh, glorious girl! — her to do the grocery shopping (my most detested chore).

There were so many good offerings, so many great intentions wrapped up in that raffia-bound booklet that I never got around to using them all. It was one of those gifts in which the thought truly was what counted most to me.

This past Mother's Day, Andrea proved that coupons still work their magic on Mom — even as my little girls are no longer little and head ever closer to 30 years of age.

Andrea's gift coupon was not so much an actual coupon this time, but a promise written in the Mother's Day card for a good deed to come. A handmade Mother's Day card. Made of quarter-fold construction paper written on just as my little Andie used to do, and it included a reference to one of the sillier cards she's given me in the past, one that makes me chuckle each time I run across it in the box I've filled with cards given to me throughout the years.

The good deed Andie promised for Mother's Day was a day of helping out in the yard, in preparation for summer. It's a gift I requested — and received — often for Mother's Day when the nest was still full.

Yesterday was the promised day, and what a busy day it was. Andie and I shopped for flowers then together we planted the many begonias and fuchsia in various containers and hangers on the patio. She bagged up piles of pine needles I had raked Saturday. And she helped Jim "plant" a humongous fallen tree...in cement...in our "tree graveyard" in the backyard (a long twisted story, one I'll possibly share another time).

Let's just say I got my coupon's worth. And then some.

The "then some" was that while Jim, Brianna, Andrea and I ate dinner on the patio, Andrea mentioned a coupon she had previously given me, possibly for my birthday last year. One for a pedicure that I had forgotten to redeem. So we made plans for redemption.

Which later got me to thinking: That pedicure coupon was rather old, but so are those remaining in "Mom's Coupon Book" from Brianna. Coupons for making dinner, giving back rubs, and even a few left for her to do the grocery shopping. Yessiree, I do believe it's time to finally cash in on one or two of those.

I must admit that during my time raising three daughters, I did a few things right. Teaching the girls to give coupons as gifts was one of them.

Not teaching them to include an expiration date on the coupon gifts was definitely another.

Today's question:

Question suggestions: Offer up any question, plus your answer, and I might use it in the future (I hated my original question today).

The Saturday Post: Baby Girl edition

Graduation season is nearly over. We have our last graduation party to attend tomorrow, for several nieces and nephews. With so many kiddos celebrating their commencements, the graduations of my own daughters have been heavy on my mind, as has one particular song.

When Megan and Andrea were away at college — they went to the same university — they joked about the following song being their song to Jim and me. Andrea, who used to make me CDs of new music she thought I'd enjoy, added it to one of the CDs despite my typical aversion to country music. I did end up loving it, mostly because it always made me think — and still does — of my baby girls. (Although I'm no dummy: I know the "playing here at the bar tonight" line had a completely different meaning for Megan and Andie than what the lyrics intended.)

Oh, and in case you're wondering — or in case my baby girls are reading — I'm still waiting on that letter announcing they'll send us money now that they're "so rich that it ain't funny." Just sayin'...

Today's question:

What genre of music do you listen to most often?

Open wide and say 'Awww...'

I had my tonsils removed when I was a youngster. Tonsil removal was a fairly common procedure for kids during the 60s, but it fell out of favor soon after. Seems being a major operation requiring general anesthesia was a little off-putting for some ... and a lot dangerous for others.

When I became a mom, I didn't think much about tonsils. Until Megan, that is. Firstborn Brianna had no breathing difficulties; Megan was another story. By the time Megan reached elementary school, she had sinus issues, adenoid issues, tonsil issues, all so bad that her roommate at the time — Andrea — complained that Megan kept her awake at night because, "she sounds like the iron!" Apparently Megan's breathing sounded eerily similar to steam leaving the iron as clothes were de-wrinkled.

For that reason, along with many other more serious and valid reasons, Megan's adenoids and tonsils were removed. I was nervous about having my little girl put under, but it was necessary if I wanted her to breathe. And I did. And it was successful: Megan could breathe, Andrea no longer had to put up with night-time steam sounds.

Then Andrea started having tonsil issues of her own, primarily tonsillitis on a regular basis. Yet her doctor didn't think she met the criteria for having the tonsils removed, and I didn't push the issue. My paranoia as a mother was moving into high gear, and I'd been reading more and more about the dangers of tonsil removal. Yes, despite the successful surgery on myself and Megan — and literally millions of others between my surgery and hers — I figured the odds would now be against us if I persisted and requested another of my babies undergo the procedure.

To this day, Andrea still gets tonsillitis more often than the average bear. And she growls at me about it more often — and more loudly — than the average bear. Thing is, I'm even more against tonsil removal for her now that she's an adult than I was when she was a child because studies have proven adults have far more life-threatening problems with tonsil removal than children do. I screwed up by not having Andie's tonsils removed, but I figure it's too late now. Scary thing is, as an adult, she can get them out any time she chooses. And it seems she's one bout of tonsillitis away from so choosing.

Those are my tonsil tales as a child and as a mother. Now it seems that as a grandmother, there's a new chapter to add.

Bubby has tonsil issues ... big time. The poor kid, whose not yet three years old, has had more bouts of strep throat than most kids have their entire childhood — five in the last year, four of which have been just since Christmas. He's a strep factory, apparently, or at least a strep carrier, the pediatrician tells Megan. When Bubby's in the throes of a strep infection, my poor grandbaby's tonsils are so swollen you can't see past them to his throat. More importantly, he can't breathe past them. Many nights Megan has put her baby to bed worrying whether he'd be able to breathe through til morning, all because of the insane size of his tonsils.

So she wants them removed. And the pediatrician has referred her to an ENT to discuss the possiblity. And I'm conflicted as cuss about the whole thing. Fortunately, as the grandma, I don't have to be the one making the decision. I've read too many horror stories about tonsil removal, stories I won't share with Megan ... because she does have to make the decision.

Yes, I'm a paranoid mother, which has resulted in me being a paranoid grandmother. But I'm working at keeping my paranoia to myself, mostly by considering an article I wrote several years ago for the parenting publication I was then editor of. It was about the resurgence of tonsil removal and the new — safer! — methods for performing the surgery, with lasers rather than scalpels. One thing that stands out in my mind about the article is that the ENT I interviewed said that not only does tonsil removal help children physically, it helps those suffering tonsil problems with their behavioral issues, too. Little ones who can't sleep and can't breathe well can be a pain in the cuss for those around them because they're so darn crabby. One particularly telling quote came from a mother who told the doctor that when the doctor removed her son's tonsils, he removed the "devil" from her son, too. She exclaimed that it was much like an exorcism.

Bubby certainly doesn't need an exorcism, by any means. But he does need to breathe. So I'm holding my breath awaiting Megan's decision on the procedure. I'm sure she'll make the right choice for Bubby. And I'm sure glad it's her making the choice, not me. Especially considering the wrong choice I made for Andrea all those years ago.

Today's question:

What tales do you have of tonsils?

16 things I learned from my daughters

Megan and Bubby will be here this weekend, which means lots of time with not only my grandson but my entire family, including my lovely girls who have taught me so much.

16 things I learned from my daughters

1. The answers can't always be found in books.

2. Trust my gut. Most times. Other times, ignore it because it's not really my gut trying to tell me something but the ravings of a paranoid, overprotective mother with an overactive imagination.

3. That brined turkey is the best turkey. And that it's not difficult to do.

4. Eminem can be worth listening to. DMX not so much. Actually, not at all. Still.

5. Jumping without a net often reaps the biggest rewards.

6. Yes, sometimes I am just like my mother. But also that, yes, sometimes, they are just like theirs.

7. An awesome, heartfelt wedding is possible on a shoestring budget.

8. Let go and let God. Or at least let someone else now and then.

9. Those who love me will wait while I work my way through a verklempt state. And that they will laugh when they realize they've inherited the very same verklempt gene.

10. Agreeing to disagree is sometimes the best we can do. And that's okay.

11. My babies can survive -- even thrive -- miles away and with no direction from me.

12. I can survive -- even thrive -- with my babies miles away. Even though it's not what I wanted.

13. "Sorry" is indeed the hardest word, but one of the most important.

14. An empty nest doesn't have to be lonely. And is full of possibility ... and plenty of space for return visits.

15. Laughing so hard it hurts is so worth the pain.

16. Most importantly, that despite all Jim and I lacked from the outset, we did indeed teach our children well ... and they took what we taught them, ran with it, improved and added to it, then returned with wisdom beyond our expectations.

Today's question:

What is one lesson you are thankful for having learned?

Now I lay them down to sleep

Well, it's happened. Jim and I have become those people. You know, the ones whose animals take the place of their children once the children are grown and gone.

Sure, I have plenty of friends whose animals have always been their kids. Which has worked well for them. It's what they do. It's what they've done. It's their normal.

But it's not been our normal, my normal. Until recently. So it's a bit disconcerting.

We've always had animals, if not a dog or two, at least a cat or two. And in the last few months, I've come to realize that I now pay just as much attention to their eating, sleeping, pooping and entertainment schedules and options as I once did with my kids. Oh yeah, and bathing options, too.

This past weekend, Jim and I converted the shower in our downstairs bathroom to a DOG shower, with a fancy little hand-held shower head with an on/off button that makes it easy to wet down the kids dogs, pause the water, lather 'em up, then unpause and rinse. It was quite simple showering up the little ones on Saturday. So much easier -- on us and them -- than taking them to self-wash at Petco or Petsmart or to a groomer. Going forward, our spoiled little Mickey and Lyla will bathe in the comfort of their own home, the comfort of their own cussing bathroom.

Come to think of it, that's more than our daughters ever had. The girls shared a bathroom -- all three of them plus me -- until one by one they moved out. Yeah, our dogs are spoiled.

In return, they do for us something the girls never did: They go to bed each night without complaint. At their scheduled bedtime. Without a single delay tactic.

Each night at 10 p.m., Mickey and Lyla, who have been hanging out with us in the family room -- on their beds pulled from their bedroom (yes, the dogs have their own bedroom ... well, they share it) -- get up, stretch and head to the back door for a final drink of water and potty before bedtime. I open the door, they trot out to the back yard -- in the dark, mind you, with no begging, "Can you please turn on the light, Mom?" Then they do their business, head back to the patio for a final slurp of H20, then stand at the door, waiting for me to let them in.

Once I let them in is when the real fun begins. At least they think so. For some reason, Mickey and Lyla -- especially Lyla -- believe that bedtime is the most wondrous time of day, the reason for getting through the day, the reason for living. The second I slide open the glass door, they scurry through the family room, tails wagging like mad, past Jim and his "goodnight, guys" brush along their sides, and into their bedroom. They climb aboard their newly fluffed beds -- pulled from the family room and returned to the correct positions while they were out pottying. Then they circle a time or two and plop down in their little nests. I rub their heads, their necks; they nuzzle my hand. "Goodnight, kids. See ya in the morning," I tell them as I back out of their room.

Just like tucking in the kids. Only these kids don't request another sip of water or remind me that the tooth fairy is scheduled to visit in the night or remember at the very last second that they are going on a field trip the next day and need an extra-special packed lunch with a drink for the trip. Yep, the dogs are so much easier to put to bed than the girls were.

There is one part of the bedtime ritual that the girls did so much better, though, so much sweeter. That was the bedtime prayer. Brianna would come from her room to join me and the other two in Megan and Andie's room. We'd sit on the edge of their beds, fold our hands, bow our heads, ask for guidance through the night, then request "God bless Brianna and Megan and Andrea and Mommy and Daddy and everyone we love and care about. Amen." I miss that. The dogs don't do that.

I'm wondering how much work it might take to get Mickey and Lyla to fold their little paws in prayer each night.

I'll get back to you on that.

Today's question:

What time do you typically go to bed?