Like father, like son... and son... and son

Like father, like son... and son... and son

"A father is someone you look up to no matter how tall you are." ~ anonymous

My son-in-law Preston works out in the mornings before he goes to work. Last week my grandsons joined Dad in doing a few pushupsโ€”before school, before even changing out of their pajamas.

The photo Megan shared on social mediaโ€ฆ

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A good sport

I believe I've mentioned before that as a mother, I never wanted boys. I'm far too overprotective and far too not interested in sports to have raised a healthy and happy son. I know that, accept that about myself.

Sure, Jim would have helped out, but being much like me and more into sedate activities such as enjoying music and movies and being a spectator of sports more so than a participant, together we likely would have squelched a free-spirited and energy-filled boy.

That said, though, I'm absolutely thrilled to have grandsons. And I'm absolutely delighted that Preston has proved himself to be the ideal dad for high-energy and sports-minded Bubby (as will likely be the case with Mac as he grows, too).

Preston has the time, patience, athletic ability, and inclination for doing the dad-like things a growing boy needs.

Preston chases Bubby around the splash pad, eliciting squeals from Bubby that "the water monster" is after him:

Preston teaches Bubby the correct way to hold the bat and encourages hard hits from the little leftie:

And he regularly gets Bubby out and about for bike rides around the block — with Preston walking running alongside quite a bit of the way:

Of course, bike rides and batting practice must take place late in the evening when you live in the desert heat (hence the dark photos), which means Preston deserves all the more props for doing such things after working all day.

I gotta hand it to him. Preston's exactly the kind of dad Bubby and Mac need.

But he also comes in pretty handy in other ways, ways that I personally appreciate and benefit from.

For starters, he gets points for squashing the scorpion that tried to crash Mac's baptism party:

And — with Megan's fruit-chopping assistance — he whipped up a refreshingly tasty sangria as part of the baptism celebration refreshments:

Yep, Preston's an all-around athletic, scorpion-squishing, sangria-serving, delightful, loved, and appreciated member of our family.

I think we'll keep him.

Today's question:

Fill in the blank: Three ingredients that make up a good dad are ___________, ___________, and ________. (Don't wanna talk dads? Feel free to substitute "sangria" for "dad".)

Mom 2.0 redux

Not too long ago, I wrote a post called Mom 2.0 better than Mom 1.0 highlighting nine ways Megan (Mom 2.0) has outdone her mother (me, Mom 1.0). Well, she's gone and done it again -- taken what I've taught her and bumped it up a notch.

Consider this post reason No. 10 why Mom 2.0 is better than Mom 1.0.

As many of you know, Megan and Preston hosted our Thanksgiving gathering this year. Megan has never prepared the Thanksgiving meal and has only once cooked a turkey by herself. Yet she took it upon herself to do something I have never done, something I had previously never even heard of: Megan brined the Thanksgiving turkey.

And I must admit, it turned out to be the most delectably moist and flavorful turkey I think I've ever had.

Megan soaked the turkey in a savory solution for a day or so. Then she seasoned it well (before taking off for the Turkey Trot, I might add).

She baked it and basted it and recruited Preston for the heavy lifting of the 20-pound tom in and out of the oven.

Once roasted to golden perfection, Preston carved the bird -- his first time ever charged with Thanksgiving carving duty.

What a turkey! What a team!

Yes indeed, Mom 2.0 once again improves upon Mom 1.0. And it's only right to throw in a few props for Dad 2.0 (Preston) for doing the carving honors -- something Dad 1.0 (Jim) has yet to attempt.

In light of the savory success of Megan's turkey brining, I'm thinking about trying out the method soon myself. I just so happen to have a spare turkey in the freezer, happily waiting to be brined and baked.

And maybe -- just maybe -- Jim will be happily waiting to try out carving the bird himself once it's done.

These kids of mine continually amaze me. I thought I was the one who was supposed to be teaching them a thing or two, yet they've been pretty darn good so far at teaching me a thing or two. For starters, that soaking a turkey in salt water really does make it more moist.

And that it really is possible to run a 5k in the morning and still get Thanksgiving dinner on the table by early afternoon. Doing both while pregnant.

Did I mention that my kids continually amaze me?

Today's question:

What's something you've learned from one you're more typically in charge of teaching (a child, grandchild ... pet?)?

Fair game

Forty or so years ago, I went to the Minnesota State Fair. All I remember is that my younger sister and my dad were hurt by an errant cable that took them for an unintended and dangerous ride. To be honest, I remember the stories of the incident at the fair more than I remember the actual incident itself. Or the fair.

I've not been to a state fair since, except for when a has-been band or two (Jefferson Starship and .38 Special anyone?) headlined at the fairgrounds. I'm not sure if the horrible events of forty years ago scarred me forever, squelching my desire for fried foods at fantastically obscene prices and unregulated (or seemingly so to a paranoid such as myself) amusement rides at similarly obscene prices, or if there's some other deep-seated reason why I've never attended the state fair as an adult.

Becoming a grandma changes much, though, and one of the most recent changes has been my state fair attendance record. Yes, folks, my desert visit in October included a trip to the state fair.

I must admit, it was a far better occasion than my first fair visit, possibly because I steered clear of fried foods and flying cables. More probably, though, because I attended it with Bubby, Megan and Preston.

Being a grandma who likes to participate in my grandson's "firsts," the day was one for the history baby books as I got to ride with Bubby on his first-ever state fair ride. Here's a quick look at the fun we had at the fair:

In addition to typical fair attractions, there also was a life-size, animatronics dinosaur exhibit we enjoyed. Well, mostly enjoyed. Bubby was rather hesitant at first, but by the time we reached the end and he got to dig in the massive sandbox for fossils, I think he'd become a fan of dinosaurs. Pretty much. As long as they were nothing but bones. And didn't make noises. Or move.

It was perfect timing for introducing Bubby to the Hatch-n-Grow dinosaur egg, but, alas, the egg I carried in my Grandma Bag didn't survive the trip uncracked.

But that's okay. I have more eggs and will surely pack one in my Grandma Bag for another try during my visit at Thanksgiving. And after having the bejeezus scared out of him by the life-size T. Rex and its cousins, I'm pretty sure Bubby won't be frightened by an itsy-bitsy hatching baby dino.

Assuming, that is, that I can cushion the egg well enough in my suitcase this time to survive the wild and wacky airport baggage handlers, who are far scarier than hatching baby dino eggs. And errant amusement-ride cables, too.

Today's question:

What's most memorable about your past visits to the state fair?

Can he hear me now?

For the past month or so, Megan and I have had several conversations regarding Bubby's speech. Sometimes it seems he has a vast vocabulary; other times it seems he's regressing in his ability to pronounce words.

Bubby's preschool teacher casually mentioned to Megan that she might consider speech therapy for Bubby. When I heard that, I suggested that the first thing she should do is have his hearing checked. When Andrea was young, she had speech problems, all related to too many ear infections and an ignorant doctor who refused to put tubes in her ears, despite my insistence. (She eventually got the tubes as well as speech therapy and is now a masterful speaker.)

During my recent visit to the desert, it became clear that the fears and worries about Bubby's ability to talk appear to be unfounded. Bubby talks up a storm, all the time, about all things. He did, though, have a tendency -- especially at dinner time -- to interrupt the adult conversation with "What you say, Dad?" or "What you say, Mom?" Megan said she thinks it's more his way of having things explained to him that he didn't understand than it is a hearing problem. I agreed with her.

So other than needing work on a few vocabulary skills such as blends and digraphs -- for which I suggested activities from lessons that are part of the tutoring program I follow as a tutoring site coordinator -- Bubby's speech and hearing seem to be a non-issue.

At least it was until last Friday.

Megan called me Friday evening and said in a very serious tone, "You won't believe what your grandson has done." Of course, I imagined all kinds of deadly or dastardly deeds and feared for the physical and psychological well-being of my grandson.

The story from Megan was that she had come home from work Friday afternoon, bid goodbye to GiGi -- Bubby's paternal great-grandma who babysits him on Fridays -- then went about her usual afternoon activities. Bubby, though, was acting rather unusual. Again and again he asked Megan, "What you say?" and kept saying "What? I can't hear you" and "Turn it up, Mommy, I can't hear it" regarding his television programs.

His insistence led Megan to inspect the little guy's ears, where she found what appeared to be excess wax build-up in one ear.

So she and Preston proceeded to remove the wax. All the while Bubby insisted "It's a seed." Megan explained to him that, no, it's not a seed, it's ear wax and Daddy's gonna get it out.

Daddy skillfully removed the gunk. Only it wasn't gunk, it was indeed, as Bubby tried to convince them, a seed. A popcorn kernel, to be exact.

Instead of telling Mommy, "See, I told you it was a seed," as I imagine Megan herself would have said as a kid, Bubby simply announced of his now clear-as-a-bell audio ability, "I can hear!"

Funny thing is, Megan said she can't recall the last time they had popcorn!

Bubby later told Mommy he found kernels under the couch and proceeded to put one in his mouth and one in his ear. Why in the world he would stick a popcorn kernel in his ear is beyond any of us.

The real question, though, is how long has the darn thing been in there?

Even more so, how did all of us who have bathed Bubby in the last month -- or hugged or kissed or played with him -- miss seeing a popcorn kernel in the little dickens' ear?!

Today's question:

Because of Bubby's silliness, the song "Beans in Your Ears" ("My mommy said not to put beans in my ears ... I can't hear the teacher with beans in my ears ...") has been stuck in my head for days now. What wacky childhood song or nursery rhyme do you find gets frustratingly stuck in your head now and again?

The Saturday Post

Megan and Preston celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary this past week. Below is the video Brianna created for the ceremony, the video that had everyone in tears.

I'm sharing this with you because it gives a little more background on the adorable little kids who grew up to be the awesome parents of my sweet Bubby.

(Plus, it has some pretty cool shots of my three goofy baby girls!)


Happy Anniversary, Megan and Preston!

Gah! I still cry every single time I watch that!

Come back again tomorrow for another anniversary post, one of a different sort -- the sort with something in it for you!

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Miles o' smiles

For Christmas, Jim and I gave Megan, Preston and Bubby one of the best gifts I think I've ever given: a family membership to the children's museum.




In return, their smiles -- and happy photos of their visit -- are one of the best THANK YOUs I have ever received.

On a totally unrelated note:

The Today's Question from "The Christmas Conversation Piece" feature I've run the past 25+ days proved to be pretty popular. I've enjoyed the responses, and it seems you've enjoyed giving them. Why stop now? I've got plenty of conversation starters, so I'm going to continue running a daily question -- at least until the fun wears out.

Today's question from "If ... (Questions for the Game of Life)":

If you could wake up tomorrow to learn that the major newspaper headlines were about you, what would you want them to say?

My desired headline: "After years and years of entering, Grandma finally wins millions from Publisher's Clearing House!" And the subhead would read: "Grandma's first words: 'I told you guys it would happen!'"

It's just money

Megan was offered a new job a few days ago. Well, not a new job, just some additional hours, work -- and pay -- tacked onto the job she already does.

Megan is a pre-K teacher, working five mornings a week at a private elementary school. The new offering involves taking on an extra class, extending her Monday, Wednesday and Friday workdays to full days in the classroom ... full days with four-year-olds.

Now, I'm definitely not one of those women who swears moms should be home with their kids and cries that there will be irreparable psychological damage to the kiddos if Mommy puts on her big-girl panties each day and keeps a firm foothold on her career path.

Nor am I a flag-waving proponent of working moms and all they do and stand for.

I've been in both positions as a mother: I've worked full-time and I've stayed at home with the kids. There are downsides -- and upsides -- to both. I can't say one is better than the other, and I truly believe most moms do the best they can under whatever circumstances they're facing, and make choices based on those circumstances ... and what is best for their children ... and for themselves.

And those choices are their right, their business, and not fodder for judgement no matter what their choice may be.

That said, I cringed when Megan told me about the job offer.

"Don't do it, Megan!" I wanted to shout and cry and beg. "Unless, of course, you move near me so I can take care of Bubby on a daily basis while you hang out with the four-year-olds!"

But I kept my mouth shut. It's a decision she and Preston have to make ... not me ... no matter how much I still want to control and direct the lives my kids lead. So I just shut up and waited to hear back on what decision they made.

Like all young parents -- heck, all people lately -- Megan and Preston could use the extra money. They're struggling, to a certain degree, like all the rest of us of late, and a few extra thousand dollars could certainly come in handy.

But it's just money.

I think Megan has found the perfect balance with the part-time gig she's got going on. She's making use of her (expensive) college education. She's maintaining a social network independent of the mommy circle. She's bringing in a chunk of change for the family coffers. Plus, Bubby's hours in daycare socialize him to a degree not likely to come from once-a-week playdates.

It's the perfect balance. And I hate the thought of her giving that up.

I've been there, done that, been out of balance in terms of career versus family. Heck, it took me until my daughters were in high school to find my balance! So my heart just sings at the balance Megan found early, a balance that works for her, for Bubby, for the family finances.

What she'd be giving up isn't worth it, I think.

And Megan told me yesterday that she and Preston think the same thing. She turned down the job.

I'm so thankful -- for Bubby and for Megan.

It's just money. And proof that Megan and Preston have learned well and learned early that life isn't just about the money.

I'm proud of you guys! <cue the Mr. Rogers "Proud of You" song.>

On another note ...

Today's question from "The Christmas Conversation Piece":

If you could take a how-to course in anything related to the Christmas season, in what course would you want to enroll?

My answer: I'd like to learn how to feel like all I've done was enough. I never feel like I bought enough gifts, made enough cookies, put up enough holiday decorations. Any therapists out there offering such classes??

Don't bogart that baby

While Andrea was here for the Halloween weekend, the inevitable "What are we doing for Thanksgiving?" question came up. When she asked, all I could say was, "I don't know ... I don't know ... I really don't know." I sounded like some kind of mumbling, bumbling, line-snorting idiot.

But I really don't know what we're doing for Thanksgiving. And because I'm a planner -- who usually has Thanksgiving plans set in August, who frets when life veers off the schedule I've laid out for it -- my unplanned Thanksgiving is stressing me out a bit. Okay, a lot. Unreasonably so. But I can't seem to muster the brainpower to figure out what the heck we're doing for Thanksgiving.

First of all, Brianna and Andrea both work in caretaking professions and both have folks to take care of on Thanksgiving. Andrea has a morning shift at the residential youth center, where she'll surely bring smiles to the otherwise sad faces of the adolescent girls incarcerated there. And Brianna likely -- although not yet confirmed -- has an afternoon shift drawing blood and bringing smiles to the faces of folks incarcerated in the hospital for the holiday.

Which means Thanksgiving plans will surely leave out one or the other of the girls.

And I'm not okay with that.

And I'm not okay with Megan, Preston and Bubby not being here for Thanksgiving. They're going to partake of the turkey dinner with his family. Can you believe it? I have to share my loved ones with their loved ones ... in another state!

I know I'm not supposed to bogart the baby -- or Megan and Preston -- but with the exception of the year they got married, I've not yet had to share with in-laws on Thanksgiving (Christmas is another story). And it's taking a little getting used to.

Megan has always been part of our Thanksgiving celebrations, of course. And when she and Preston started dating, he usually came home with her for the holiday breaks. The first year they were married, they chose to go it alone. Well, not totally alone; they live near Preston's grandparents and spent Thanksgiving with Grandma and Grandpa.

Then two years ago, Megan and Preston came to our new house for Thanksgiving ... and told us they were pregnant!

The following year -- last year -- they came for Thanksgiving with the little bundle of joy they'd promised us the year before.

But this year my arms will be empty. Heck, my house might be empty. And I've not yet figured out what to do about that.

So I really, really don't know what we're doing for Thanksgiving. I just know I won't be bogarting that baby. I have to share ... and I have to be nice about it.

But I don't have to be happy about it!

National Cookie Month

My most recent batch of chocolate chip cookies.I recently made a pact with myself that I would send Bubby off-the-wall gifts in celebration of various months of national recognition. It's just a goofy way of connecting with my grandson, not because I feel particularly strongly about any of the designations.

So far I've sent Bubby maracas for Happiness Happens Month (August) and a wild and crazy chicken for National Chicken Month (September). In searching for ideas of what to send him for October, I found that October is National Cookie Month. And although I make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world -- or so I've been told many times by many people -- I won't be sending Bubby chocolate chip cookies. Not because he can't eat chocolate or because I worry they'll turn to crumbs in the shipping, but because my chocolate chip cookies are already made regularly at his house -- by Preston!

My chocolate chip cookies have a supporting role in the story of Megan and Preston. When Megan went to college in Nebraska, in the small town where Preston had lived most of his life, she needed to find a part-time job to bring in a little cash (and car-payment money) while there. Preston was part of the group of friends Megan initially made there and although they truly were "just friends" at that point, he helped Megan get on at the local grocery store where he'd worked for quite some time.

Megan was deeply grateful and needed a way to thank him appropriately. So she asked me to bake up a batch of my cookies and send them to him. And I did. And Preston fell in love with them. Then soon fell in love with Megan ... and she fell in love with him.

I'm pretty sure my cookies had very little to do with the mutual love fest between Megan and Preston, but they did become rather legendary.* I regularly mailed batches off to Nebraska for Megan to share with Preston and made sure the cookie jar was full when Preston came to visit during school breaks. Now that Megan and Preston are married, Preston has taken on the cookie-making for their little family -- using my chocolate chip cookie recipe. I'm honored, in a small way.

So, since Bubby already has a source for cookies for National Cookie Month, I'll just share with you all the recipe for the cookies Preston loves so much. And I'm posting it early enough for you to head to the store for the ingredients and have the goodies made in time for the kickoff of National Cookie Month, three days from now.

To be honest, my chocolate chip cookie recipe is simply the original toll house cookie recipe -- except that I use butter-flavor Crisco instead of butter or margarine (it makes for a fluffier, puffier cookie). And I don't mix the dry and wet ingredients separately ... which started as a time-saving measure but has worked just fine for the past 20 years I've been making these.

Here ya go. Enjoy!

Lisa's Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter-flavor Crisco

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

2 1/4 cups unsifted flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

12-oz package (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, combine first four ingredients; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Add flour, baking soda and salt (sprinkling the soda and salt over the mixture so there are no "hot spots" of either). Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-9 minutes. Transfer to wire rack for cooling. Makes about 4 dozen yummy cookies.

*Brianna actually has a mechanic who, after her first time of thanking him for a job well done by giving him a plate of the cookies, now accepts only batches of cookies as payment for the auto work he does for her!

Bad girls

On Friday evening, Bubby found his favorite place in the world -- the splash park! But then some unwelcome teens invaded the space and ruined his fun.

According to Megan, a group of teen girls arrived to the splash park in loud and nasty fashion. They were smoking cigarettes and swearing up a storm. Bubby let them know he didn't appreciate their bad behavior:

Megan said her reaction wasn't nearly as nice.

It's good to know that Bubby has already figured out that THAT kind of gal is not appealing!

When it became clear the girls wouldn't be leaving soon, Megan, Preston and Bubby headed home.

But since their Friday fun was cut short, Bubby and his parents went back Saturday. I'm pretty sure that if he could formulate sentences, he'd say it was his best day ever!