Saturday movie review: Tully

Saturday movie review: Tully

I can't tell you much about the plot of TULLY. I watched every moment of the engrossing film. I was affected—and often amused—by Diablo Cody's story, Jason Reitman's directing, the entire cast's acting.

Yet I can't tell you what TULLY is about. If I do, it'll ruin the movie for you. Because TULLY isn't what you expect.

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Throwback Thursday: Fine lines... worn and walked

Throwback Thursday: Fine lines... worn and walked

This #TBT piece by Lisa Carpenter originally published April 15, 2014 on Grandma's Briefs. Thank you for reading!

As I scan shelf after shelf of beauty aids at the drugstore in search of the perfect product to combat my age spots and wrinkles, I consider the plethora of inescapable fine lines I encounter in this phase of life. Despite the endless number of serums and creams and BB this and AHA that created to (sort of) soothe away the skin issues, I’ve yet to find a solution to the fine lines that matter most: those encountered in my role as a parent to adult children.

Most concerning are the fine lines I walk—that all parents of grown children walk—as I attempt to be wise, supportive, encouraging for my adult children without seeming overbearing, overprotective, overly critical or any other overly state that might tangle the ties that bind me to my dear ones.

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An open letter to new long-distance grandmas

An open letter to new long-distance grandmas

Dear heartbroken long-distance grandma,

First, let me say congratulations on your grandma status! Whether you just learned you'd soon have a grandchild, a newborn grand recently arrived, or one or more grandkiddos have long been part of your heart, you are a grandmother and that's worth celebrating... again and again.

Today, though, I offer my condolences that your grandmother status carries, or soon will, the long-distance modifier. I know how hard that is on you. I know because I am you — a long-distance grandma.

I've been a long-distance grandma a while, with hundreds of miles separating me from my sweet ones ever since the initial "You're going to be a grandma!" announcement nearly ten years ago. Considering the survival strategies I've learned the hard way...

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Success! Blog facelift complete!

Success! Blog facelift complete!

It worked! I did it! Grandma's Briefs has survived a facelift. I survived the facelift, the migration from Squarespace 5 to Squarespace 7.*

Now, you might think moving from one version to another of the same website host can't be all that different. But goodness gracious, my friends, the changes (and learning curve) are huge

Much of Grandma's Briefs remains the same, as you can surely tell. I hope you can also tell there are some super slick new ways of strutting, I mean, sharing...

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7 solaces in my sucky, stress-filled season

hope versus despair

My husband was laid off at the end of September. Again. It's been less than a year since we were in the same boat. Once again, we're worrying about paying for PLUS loans, prescriptions, and more. All because "the company chose to go in a different direction with the department."

Such circumstances stink. Even more so when additional stinky stuff was packed into the months between Jim's layoff last year and this year's job loss.

What stuff? you may wonder. Well, soon after my husband found a new job last fall — yeah, the job he just lost — one of my dogs was diagnosed with...

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Grandma takes a break

I like to think I'm superwoman, capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound... while juggling 361 duties with ease.

Sometimes life smacks me upside the head and tells me I'm a doofus for thinking such things.

Right now is one of those times, and I have no choice but to cry uncle admit I'm juggling more than I'm capable of at the moment.

One thing I'm juggling is caregiving duties for Jim, who — more than a month after his emergency foot surgery — is still on crutches, still has his PICC line for the mega antibiotics fighting the foot-damaging infection he had. Which means I'm still driving him to and from work, to and from doctor appointments, still administering his IV medication each evening, still handling absolutely everything around the house because he can't put any weight on his right foot if we want it to heal correctly. (Which we truly do want, despite the hassle.)

And now, as fate would have it, the "around the house" stuff I face includes something neither of us has ever had to do, thanks to the July 28 hailstorm from hell that hit our part of town. It spared our windows and roof, for the most part, but demolished every living thing in my yard, leaving pine needles and more everywhere.


Other than a huge helping hand from...

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Why heads butt in an empty nest

Much of the time that I worked at the local newspaper was spent in a small department. I was the special sections editor for several years and had, during the best of times, three staff writers who worked at desks nearby. (Plus a photographer and a couple shared designers, but their desks were elsewhere.)

raised hands

The great thing about our small department was that when one of us had a question regarding grammar or punctuation or AP Style, rather than look it up in...

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What I learned this week: The momentum has shifted

female soccer keeper

When my youngest daughter, Andrea, was in high school, she joined the soccer team. She'd never played before, not in earlier grades in school, not on club or park & rec teams. But in true Andie fashion, she chose the soccer team over the track team because her sisters ran track, and she was determined to do her own thing. Plus, she figured there'd be less running in soccer than in track.

Andrea was wrong about the running, but she was right about choosing soccer anyway, as that girl rocked the soccer field. She even chose to be goal keeper when no other girls on the team wanted the position, a position that eventually garnered her a spot — and a scholarship — on her college soccer team.

During her high-school stint on the soccer field, Andie's coach for the first few years was a young male teacher, not long out of college. His youth and enthusiasm for his job, for his team, for the game were a boon for the girls he coached. They absolutely adored Coach D. (His good looks had a wee bit to do with that, too, I assure you.)

Now, Andrea's high-school soccer team was not the best in the district. In fact, they were pretty far from it. But they had grit, they had dedication, and they had Coach D cheering them on.

Jim and I were fortunate to be able to attend the majority of Andrea's high-school soccer games. Many times, her team struggled to keep up with their opponents, often ending up on the losing end of the match. Sometimes, though, they'd manage to pull ahead.

It was during those initial moments of pulling ahead that Coach D's enthusiasm spilled over. "THE MOMENTUM HAS SHIFTED!" he'd shout to the sky, to those around him, but most importantly, to the girls. To which the girls would then run harder, faster, as they heard the sound of hope ringing across the field.

In every game, no matter how bad the beating seemed it might be, there would be at least one point where the exclamation would be made.


Every once in a while, the momentum would shift fully in the girls' favor, and Andie's team would come out the victors. Always a sweet victory indeed.

Ever since those days of watching high-school soccer games, hearing Coach D exclaim the moment of change indicating hope on the horizon, I've often heard his words ring out in my head — sometimes even spoken the phrase aloud or chuckled when Jim would say it at just the moment I thought it. I've heard it in my head at Andie's college games, while watching live or televised sporting events, when my daughters have overcome a challenge, when most anything in my life warrants the exclamation.

Well, this week, I learned this: The momentum has shifted... in my favor!

You see, the years since I lost my full-time job at the newspaper have been a heart-crushing struggle in a variety of ways, from trying to get books published — with my agent quitting the business midstream — to trying to keep my bank account filled with at least enough money to turn around and send it right back out again to pay the bills.

Many people have similar stories to tell, all beginning about the same time my financial woes began. The year 2008 and most since have sucked for a lot of us. I'm not unique in the challenges I've faced, I know. That hasn't really made it any easier, and I've wondered again and again when things would start trending up instead of continuing the downward slide.

Finally, though, it seems the downward slide has ended. In one small but significant way, the momentum has indeed shifted. Thanks to the copy-editing position I recently started — with much thanks to my online friend Carol — I'm finally able to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, finally see hope on the horizon.

I must admit that this new position is not a high-profile one by any means, and it doesn't pay huge amounts. But it's enough to make a difference.

It's enough to give me hope.

It's enough to make me feel things are on their way up.

It's enough to make me say, with all the conviction of Coach D:


photo: stock.xchng

Today's question:

What have you learned this week?

The challenges of grandmothers

Any woman who’s been a grandmother for even a short time knows that the grandma gig comes with a few unexpected pitfalls. For me—a long-distance grandma—it’s the 815 miles between my grandsons and me.

Here, some of the responses from the Grilled Grandmas when asked, “What is the most challenging part of being a grandma?”

challenges of grandmothers

Remembering my place—I’m not their mom and need to respect my daughter in her role. —Robin

I can’t fit them all on my lap at one time. —Alice

For me it’s the feeling of competition to “keep up” with the other grandparents. It would be very easy for it to turn uncomfortably competitive. —Vicki

Knowing that when I visit them I will have to say goodbye. —Mary

I am concerned about the future—what kind of world we seem to be living in right now, with the economy and the politics of mean-spiritedness. Heck, I worry about those things TODAY, not just for the future. —Olga

The most challenging part for me is not giving in to their every command. For the “serious” things I stand strong. But for those little that that it really doesn’t matter, GG let’s them do/have it. —Jules

I was not a perfect parent. So when I see my children doing things I know are not perfect but will do no harm, I am quiet. I save my comments for safety issues and answers to their questions. I am older and I have seen too much, so I could be a huge black cloud. I really do not want to do that. It is a challenge, to say the least. —Barbara

Wanting to keep them from all the bad things yet knowing that it is an impossible task. —Janie

Energy! How I wish I had more energy. There are so many things I want to do with my grandchildren, but I must remind myself to be realistic about what I can do. —Kay

The most challenging part of being a grandma is remembering that your wonderful, caring child IS the parent. —Nita

Keeping it “fair” when there’s more than one around! —Joan

Working full time and not being able to go to all of their activities. —Connie

The most challenging part for me is trying to divide my time and attention between my three young children and my grandson. I feel like I’m missing out on some of the “full grandmother” experience because I’m young and have little one of my own to care for. I don’t want my grandbaby to feel cheated out of “grandma time,” too. —Kelli

Dealing with their parents! I don’t mean that in a bad way—it’s just that they all have their own parenting methods, and I have to remember about what that is for each family! —Angel

Balancing just the right amount of love and fun with discipline. —Rita

Balancing everything. I am also caring for elderly parents and there can be a lot of appointments, health needs, etc. at both ends of the age spectrum. —Kaye

For me it is learning how to just let go and have fun and play. I am still learning how to do that. —Marlene

Taking the back seat in how the children are being raised. Opinion is not always welcomed, especially since the mother is my daughter-in-law and not my daughter. —Merci

I haven't met a challenging part yet in being a grandma. —Terri

For more wisdom and wit from these and other grandmothers, check out the Grilled Grandma Archives. (Click on the months in the right sidebar there to peruse the entire archives.)

Today's question:

What do you find most challenging about being a grandmother? What has been most challenging about being a mother?

Brave chickens

My girls — No longer this crazy but now twice as brave.

The spookiness of the season seems to be taking its toll on my grandsons.

Mac, who's 16 months old and has been sleeping through the night for quite some time, has awakened screaming in the middle of the night for more than a week now. After ruling out illness, teething, earaches and pains, the only logical reason may be nightmares attributed to spider and ghost decor, plus viewings of Mickey's House of Villains at Bubby's side.

And Bubby, who loves those cartoons of Donald and Mickey braving scary places and villains in his current favorite DVD, doesn't fare as well with his own made-up tales. Megan said Bubby asked for a flashlight a few evenings ago and for Megan to join him in a spooky storytelling session. Only, once Bubby started telling the spooky made-up tale he hoped to share, he declared, "No, I gotta stop! It's too scary!" Megan tried to convince him that as he was the storyteller, the degree of spookiness was completely up to him, yet Bubby refused to go on.

Megan's concerned a bit by Mac's fears, chuckles a bit at Bubby's. I told her to consider what a chicken she was as a child. This is the daughter who, all the way up until leaving for college, would literally run to and from the bathroom if she had to pee in the middle of the night and who used a night light up until she got married. Heck, I'm pretty sure she still uses a night light—disguised as two baby monitors she swears she can't yet give up, for the boys' sake, of course.

Megan is a chicken. Her boys clearly take after her.

In so many other ways, though, Megan is far from a chicken, and brave far beyond what I ever expected of my chicken little girl. She was the first daughter to go far away to a college where she knew no one, a place seven hours from home. She also was the first to move far away from the family home after college to make her own home with her husband. And she was the first to bravely run an official half marathon race—a challenge she asked her sisters to do along with her, for their first times, in just a few weeks.

Her sisters accepted the invitation and will fly to the desert the first weekend of November to run 13.1 miles with Megan. Which shouldn't surprise me as my girls—typically so very different in so very many ways—are very much the same when it comes to bravery in the face of challenge and opportunity.

My youngest, Andrea, has from day one done crazy, daring acts that forever live in family lore. Things like the time she unexpectedly jumped from our boat while no one was looking, right into the cold waters of a mountain lake where we vacationed, just to shock us all. Or touched her tongue to the frozen wrought iron stair railing to see if it really would stay stuck to it (it did). And like yesterday, when she flew off—alone—on yet another solo vacation to parts of the country she's not yet seen.

My oldest, Brianna, may not (yet) take vacations on her own, but she regularly stares down fear and faces challenges of other sorts. One example: This weekend she is riding a bike down Pikes Peak. Yes, you read that right. Early tomorrow morning, Brianna and a friend will, starting at the summit, hop on bicycles—not motorcycles—and pedal down the 14,000-foot-plus mountain. For fun. Crazy, crazy, crazy. And brave, I must admit.

How that happened—how my daughters ended up brave in so many ways—I have no clue. They definitely didn't get it from me. They didn't get it from Jim, either, to be sure, as we're both rather chicken-like in myriad ways of our own.

So when it comes to Bubby and Mac being scared—whether at Halloween or of harrowing acts in the future—I'll continually advise them to look to their mommy and aunts as role models on how to be brave, how to feel most any fear yet do most anything anyway.

For models of bravery are what my daughters have been to me, and what they will always be.

Regardless of how long they use a nightlight.

Today's question:

What about Halloween used to (or still does) make a chicken of you?

Quotes and kids

As has been the case for millions around the country, the last four years have been pretty much economic <cuss> for my husband and me, as I was laid off from my well-paying job in 2008 and haven't returned to full-time work since. It's been a challenge, to say the least.

Every once in a while, though, we get good news, have our prayers answered. Yesterday, exactly that happened. The news won't change our lives, but it certainly lightened our load, made our hearts happy and full.

So no profundities from me today, my friends, just a smattering of recent photos of my favorite boys along with a few of my favorite quotes. I'm hoping the positivity will keep my heart light yet full as long as possible.

Perhaps it will do the same for yours.

Sometimes grace works like water wings when you feel as if you are sinking. ~ Anne Lamott

Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value. ~ Albert Einstein

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one's own sunshine. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. ~ Charles H. Spurgeon

For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe. ~ Larry Eisenberg

Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't. ~ Richard Bach

All sunshine makes a desert. ~ Arab proverb

From what we get, we can make a living; from what we give, however, makes a life. ~ Arthur Ashe

The last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances. ~ Viktor Frankl

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects. ~ Arnold Glasgow

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. ~ Albert Einstein


This post linked to Grandparents Say It Saturday

Today's question:

What is one of your favorite quotes?

The grandma in a box

This post was named People's Choice in the humor category in the 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year.

Grandma in a box.jpg


Once upon a time there was a woman.

Who had a husband.

And three daughters.

Plus one house, two cats, two dogs, and an addiction to collecting books and pictures of people she loved.

And she had a writing job that had nothing—yet everything—to do with all of the above that she loved.

She liked rock music, independent films, and playing games with her friends—which was usually paired with a wee bit of drinking, too, whiskey or beer but never, ever umbrella drinks of any sort.

The woman also liked learning new things, especially when it came to computers, cameras, cooking and cantatas.

(She also really liked alliteration, so cantatas worked far better in that sentence than piano.)

The woman loved her mom, her dad, her brothers and sisters. She loved Jesus and America, too—as well as stories and songs that turned her heart inside out.

The woman liked the things most women do. No matter what their age.

Eventually the woman’s daughters grew up and flew away. One got married and had two sons.

Which made the woman a grandma. Yet another thing she loved.

So the woman added to her writing job, writing about those grandsons. Writing about them online—along with lots of other things she'd write about—on a blog.

Which was confusing to some.

It wasn't the writing on the blog that confused some, it was the being a grandma. Grandmas are old and know nothing about being online. Or anything interesting at all, for that matter. Grandmas rock in rocking chairs, they hug and kiss their grandkids, they pull up their gray hair into buns. Maybe they crochet. But that's pretty much it.

At least that's what it seemed some non-grandma bloggers thought of grandma bloggers. They’re only grandmas. They’re old. They’re boring. And they’re invisible if there's the G-word in their name, the G-word in their game.

Once a grandma,only a grandma, they thought.

Some unenlightened brands, bloggy networks, and PR folks seemed to think the same thing, too.

If they even thought of grandmas at all.

Other grandmas understood. Other grandma bloggers really understood—even those who didn’t write specifically about their grandchildren, about being a grandma.

The other grandmas understood because all of the grandmas, online and off, were put in the very same box. Were trying to get out of the same box. Together were saying, HEY, you meanies who squished us up into this uncomfortable GRANDMA box: We want out! We love our grandkids way beyond words, but they’re not all we love. Can’t you see we are so much more than grandmas? Can’t you see we are all that we were before? Can't you see that we are now all that AND a bag of potato chips, er, grandmas!

But the non-grandmas didn’t see any of that. They didn't see the woman and her fellow grandmas pounding on the box. All they saw was the word GRANDMA. And the box.

If they saw anything at all.

Every once in a while, someone did see something at all. Mostly it was just the word GRANDMA, though, and they thought the boxed-up grandmas would be happy as clams to talk about canes and assisted living centers and denture cream and gadgets that help them when they’ve fallen and can’t get up.

Those non-grandmas didn’t realize grandmas can and do get up. On their own. And they get down, too. That they're still vibrant and relevant. That they still love music. Still have jobs that have nothing to do with being a grandma, yet love the job of being a grandma, too. They still have spouses and daughters and sons and parents and brothers and sisters and animals and friends and interests.

And that they do all the very same things they did before they became grandmas.

They even—gasp!—still have S-E-X.

And they still talk about and write about things that matter, with people and for people who matter.

So that woman who was now a grandma but still had a husband and three daughters and still really loved all sorts of things non-grandmas think grandmas shouldn't or couldn't like decided to write about being stuck in the GRANDMA box.

In hopes others might see her and her grandma friends in there and let them out.

Or…perhaps they might do nothing at all.

But at least that grandma who loves, loves, loves being a grandma yet is so much more than a grandma would have her say.

Then she ended her plea for release from the GRANDMA box with an oh-so cute photo of her grandsons. Simply because she could.

And to further confuse those non-grandmas who Just. Don't. Get. It. 


Today's question:

Anyone second that emotion?