Oh, how they grow

When I visited my grandsons last weekend, it had been only two months since I'd last seen them. We all know, though, how quickly kiddos change and grow, so in those two short months Bubby and Mac changed and grew in myriad ways.

Here are just a few:

Mac no longer sits in a high chair or needs help going up and down the (carpeted) stairs.

Bubby says things such as, "Gramma, you don't need to worry about me because I know how to use scissors now" when doing crafts and, "I'm going to build a contraption" when explaining how he plans to proceed with his play.

Mac says big words, too, at least for a 14-month-old. Words such as bubble and book, uh-oh and down, Mama and more.

Bubby no longer calls out from the bathroom, "I'm done...!" and can now wipe himself.

Mac no longer eats crayons—most of the time—and can now color with his brother.

Bubby has figured out how to do cartwheels on the trampoline.

Mac has figured out how to lie on his tummy in the bathtub—something he refused to even attempt until this past Saturday night.

Bubby has also figured out how to flatter the ladies—especially Mommy—recently delivering this perfect line after she kissed him goodnight: "Mommy, sometimes your kisses are better than snacks."

Oh, how they grow.

One thing Mac and Bubby haven't outrown, though, is loving on and posing for pictures with Gramma.

Oh, how I hope they never do.

Today's question:

In what ways have you recently noticed that your grandkids or kids have grown?

Changes on the way

At the start of a new year, everyone seems to have plans for how things will change in their lives in the coming months, whether stated aloud or kept private. One person I know has the biggest changes of his life coming his way, and at this point, he's thankfully oblivious to how those changes are going to rock his world.

I'm talking, of course, about Bubby.

As many of you know, Bubby has a sibling on the way. Sure, it all sounds fine and good when told "You're going to be a big brother" and "You'll have a new baby to share your toys with" and to be given a new babydoll to practice his big-brother skills. All those things make Bubby smile. (Well, not so much the idea of sharing his toys.) But it's the sharing of Mommy and Daddy that Bubby's not yet grasped, not yet even considered. But it'll happen, like it or not, and I'm crossing my fingers he does okay with it, remains the happy, usually silly, sometimes snippy (aren't all toddlers at times?) kiddo who has a firm and forever hold of my heart.

That's change No. 1. Although there's a lot of talk about it now, the true changes won't take place until the end of May.

Change No. 2, on the other hand, is happening soon. Which makes it the very first major change in the little guy's life. It's a move to a new house ... to accommodate change No. 1.

Bubby and his family will be moving into a larger home the first of February. Which is a good thing. But it can be a scary thing, too, to have one's world packed up in boxes, turned upside down, shaken here and there, then set down reassembled in a whole new spot, a whole new design. Especially scary for a 31-month-old who has never known anything but the happy little place he, Mommy, Daddy, and Roxy currently call home.

In the new place, Bubby will again have his own room -- no need to share with his new brother. He'll get a dedicated playroom out of the deal, too, and a new backyard that faces north instead of south like it currently does, with the scorching desert sun putting the kibosh on outdoor play most of the day, most of the year.

Even with all the good things coming his way with both changes, the changes mean stress. And, as we all know, high stress levels can do a number on mind, body and soul.

Based on the Social Adjustment Rating Scale, a list rating stressful life events, a new baby and a new home puts one's stress level at the "low" point (considering no other stressful factors are involved). That's for an adult. For a little boy who's always been the one and only child, the one and only grandchild and who has always and forever lived in only one home, I'd say the 'high" point as a more appropriate score.

The answer to high stress levels, according to the experts, is to create a "stress-management plan." The answer to high stress levels for Bubby, according to this admittedly non-expert grandma, is an "extra-hugs-kisses-and-attention-from-Gramma plan."

My advice when it comes to stress-reduction plans of any sort? They're far more effective when set into motion sooner rather than later. Which is why it's a splendid coincidence that I just so happen to have an airline ticket booked for a visit to Bubby -- just four days after his move into his new home. (Thank you, Preston!)

I say forget laughter being the best medicine, it's hugs from Grandma that are going to do the trick this time. And as I've been a little stressed out myself lately, I suspect my hugs-and-kisses-stress-management plan designed especially for Bubby is going to do us both a heap of good.

Photo by Megan's friend Alison.

Today's question:

What is your favorite stress reliever?

Uncharted waters

We did it. Jim and I made it through our first time decorating the Christmas tree as empty-nesters. Meaning, we did it alone. Just the two of us.

After 28 years of tree-trimming being a loud, festive, family event, this year there were no little ones hanging eight ornaments in a space meant for three. No kiddos closing their eyes and holding out their hands awaiting presentation of the annual new ornament from Mom. No more jokes about the carrot, the pickle, the Russian Santa. No more surly teens swearing under their breath at one another as I ask if they could please just get along so we can get the tree done without someone crying. And no more girls home from college for the holiday and savoring the family time they'd missed while away.

This year, the ornaments are evenly spaced, there was no surliness, and there was no swearing. There were, though, a few tears. From me.

This is a huge milestone and not one I hoped to reach so soon. In fact, I hoped to never reach it at all. I hoped that even once my girls were grown and gone, there would be tree-trimming parties. That I'd have my daughters, their partners, my grandchildren running all about as Christmas music played and they clamored for this ornament or that. All the while we'd be sharing memories of holidays and tree-trimmings past.

But it wasn't to be. Not even close.

Maybe next year things will be different.

Or maybe next year will be the same. But at least having been through it this year, it won't feel so darn empty and strange.

Holiday question of the day:

What is your favorite ornament on your Christmas tree?

The more things change ...

In the two months between seeing Bubby in August and visiting him last week, the little dude has grown, matured, and mastered a few skills.

The biggest change is that Bubby now attends preschool. He eats out of a lunchbox with his classmates, participates in recess, lines up for class and washes his hands all by himself.

He's also learned to drink from a cup ... "with TWO hands, Gramma!"

He can pedal his trike ... sometimes even making it from one end of the patio to the other, to which he proudly exclaims, "I did it! I did it, Gramma!"

He no longer wears a diaper and wears Pull-Ups only at night; in the morning, they're still dry.

He used to adamantly avoid face dunks in the bathtub. Now he enjoys putting his face in the bath water and blowing bubbles:

He talks ... and talks ... and talks. Most of the time, it's in full sentences. Two of my favorites from last week: "I want to go to PawDad's house. I miss him." And, "Did you hear that, Gramma? The baby in my tummy went RAAAAR!" (The little guy understands the concept of babies in the tummy more than he does hunger pangs!)

He's no longer content to just walk, he runs ... "really fast":


He cried when dropping off Gramma at the airport -- not because he didn't want to get back into his carseat after hugging me goodbye, which is usually the case, but because he didn't want me to leave without him.

Those are just a smidgen of the many ways my beautiful Bubby has grown ever bigger between visits.

Even with all the growing and changing, though, several things remain the same.

Bubby still loves Elmo.

He still wriggles his fingers under the bathroom door when I'm in there, giggling and saying, "Gramma, come out!"

He still loves to read.

And to be held.

And hugged.

He still loves to dance, especially "the pumpkin dance" to show off his pumpkin stickers:


He still is a finicky eater. Now, though, he readily lets you know exactly what on his plate he doesn't like, which includes but isn't limited to anything brown, green, too hot, too cold, with "something in it" (such as spices or seeds), eggs, potatoes, turkey and "keeni" (meaning zucchini, of course).

He still loves tractors.

Roxy is still his best buddy.

And Mommy and Daddy are still his very favorite people in the whole entire world.

Today's question:

Speaking of things changing ... or staying the same ... did you do mail-in voting or did/will you vote in person today?

This is the end

For Bubby's first Halloween, Megan dressed her precious little Bubby, then just over four months old, as the most huggable of elephants:

For Bubby's second Halloween, Megan dressed her still precious little Bubby as the most adorable of ducks:

For Bubby's third Halloween, yesterday, Megan wanted to continue with the theme of cute little animals. Bubby (and Preston) had a different idea -- and a little more input this year.

So, despite Megan's wish for continued cute and cuddly costumes, the still precious Bubby dressed instead as a ...

... tough little boxer, complete with sneers of "Ya wanna fight?!" accompanied by hits of the mits together!

So much for cuddly. Although, if you ask this grandma, the growing-too-quickly boy is still pretty darn cute.

Such is parenting, Megan. All good things surely must come to an end.

Fortunately, good things of another sort are always right there, just waiting to take its place.

Today's question:

It's the first of November -- what do you most look forward to this month? What do you least look forward to?