What I learned this week: Keeping the browns and the blues at bay

I love avocados. Jim hates avocados. So any avocados I buy are mine and mine alone to enjoy.

Because I usually only eat half an avocado at a time — in sandwiches, salads and so forth — the second half that I save for later often turns brown while sitting in the fridge waiting for me to nosh on it.

Not anymore.

This week I learned that if you lightly spray the cut avocado with cooking spray, it doesn't turn brown.

Seriously.

Pictorial proof is here:

The other day, I ate half an avocado on a sandwich at lunch time. I lightly sprayed the other half and stuck it in a baggie (bagging it loosely instead of having it touch the avocado flesh, just to see if the cooking spray really did work).

cut avocado 

Five hours later I pulled the avocado half from the fridge to slice up for a dinner salad. It looked like this once released from its bag:

how to keep avocado from turning brown 

See? I kept the browns at bay, thanks to cooking spray. Easy-peasy.

Keeping the blues at bay isn't as easy-peasy, I learned this week.

As many of you know, my sister has been hospitalized for more than two weeks now. Yesterday she was moved from ICU to a regular floor. There was even talk she might get to go home in a day or so.

Hooray!

Just a few hours after my sister called with the good news, I got another phone call, one informing me my sister was back in ICU. She'd suffered another coughing/bleeding/nearly heart-stopping episode and had been returned to the unit where they could care for her best.

The blues instantly set in for many of us.

If only cooking spray could keep the blues away from hearts and minds as well as it keeps the browns from avocados.

That is what I learned this week.

May your weekend be grand, your browns and blues easily cured... or avoided in the first place.

Today's question:

What did you learn this week?

To each his own

 

Saturday is Baby Mac's first birthday party. You know, the party I won't be going to. Well, yesterday I mailed the birthday gift from PawDad and me to our youngest grandson. Megan called while I was preparing the package for mailing, and I felt compelled to tell her that I was not including something for Bubby in the box.

I realized it was an issue we'd not yet addressed, the even-steven-if-one-gets-something-the-other-gets-something-too conversation, because Bubby had been the one and only child up until his little brother came along nearly a year ago.

"The package is only for Baby Mac," I said. "It's his birthday, not Bubby's, and I won't be including a small gift for Bubby just because Baby Mac gets something."

"That's fine, Mom," she assured me. "That's not how our family rolls."

I was glad to hear that, as that's not the way our family ever rolled, either, when my daughters—Megan included—were young. As is often the case when a young family and new parents (like Megan and Preston) figure out what traditions and practices they will and will not use from their childhood when raising their own kids, I didn't want to assume Megan would do as we did, not as Preston's family did.

I don't know that Preston's family followed the even-steven-amongst-siblings rule. I'm guessing they didn't. But Megan and Preston may have a different philosophy than either of their families of origin, and I thought it important to let Megan know this grandma still doesn't roll that way and doesn't plan on reversing her rolling motion, regardless.

Baby Mac's birthday will be the first occasion that he receives gifts and Bubby doesn't—unlike Christmas and Valentine's Day and Easter. As Megan says, the event "will be interesting" as Bubby gets an important lesson in not being center stage, not being the primary recipient of all the spoils.

Though some might think it harsh, I wasn't willing to give Bubby any spoils on Baby Mac's birthday. Hence the sole gift in the package to the desert family being just for Baby Mac.

Bubby is usually an empathetic little boy, and Baby Mac's party will be his opportunity to realize that empathy includes not only when you feel bad for another, but when you feel good for them, too. Just as I wanted my daughters to empathize with others—especially their sisters—during good times and bad, I want my grandson to learn the same. I want him to be happy for others when good fortune comes their way, to delight in good things happening to those he loves, even when it's something he would oh-so-much love to happen to himself, too.

Jealousy, bitterness, envy, schadenfreude are all such easily learned feelings, attitudes, behaviors. They come naturally, it seems. No one has to teach little boys and girls such concepts, they just simply happen—even if those boys and girls don't know how to define them, what word to attach to them (or how to spell those words, such as schadenfreude, which I still have to look up).

The opposite of such things, though, seemingly must be taught, require lessons. Things such as compassion, goodwill, and sincere delight in another's good fortune.

Sometimes those lessons are learned the hard way.

Sometimes those lessons are learned the easy way—at least incrementally.

And sometimes those lessons are learned by not receiving a gift from Gramma or anyone else when your brother gets one.

It's a new lesson for Bubby, one I hope he accepts, appreciates, and takes to heart without making things too "interesting" for Megan.

I have faith in Bubby and expect it to not be too difficult a lesson for him. Because at his core, Bubby is a kind-hearted kiddo who usually does consider the feelings of others and willingly takes a backseat when necessary.

And because his birthday is just a couple weeks after Baby Mac's. He'll surely take comfort in knowing that Baby Mac will soon get that very same lesson—and at a far younger age than Bubby did.

Today's question:

Was the even-steven-amongst-siblings rule practiced in your family when you were young? What about with your own children? With your grandchildren?

Lesson from Grandma: Address earworm

Last time I visited Bubby, he and Megan shared with me a recent lesson he'd learned.

"What do you do when there's an emergency?" Megan asked my 3.75-year-old grandson.

"Call 911," he proudly responded, showing Gramma exactly what numbers to press on Mommy's cell phone.

I was indeed proud of Bubby. I was concerned, though, when I later asked him what he'd tell the 911 operators if they asked him where he lived and he didn't have an answer.

See, Megan and the family had just moved into a new house mere days before my visit. It was Bubby's third home since being born, and he recalls each as "Old House No. 1," "Old House No. 2," and "New House." While living in Old House Nos. 1 and 2, there was really no need for Bubby to be able to recite his address. With New House, though, he should—for lots of reasons, including the outside chance he may one day need to call 911.

Many folks think a call into the 911 system will automatically log a person's location, so technically there's no longer concerns that a child know how to tell responders his address. That's not necessarily true when it comes to cell phones, as it depends on the cell phone provider, the tower a call goes through and more. Leaving location tracking to a cell phone in an emergency can lead to disastrous results, in some cases. I don't want my grandson—or any of my loved ones—to be one of those cases.

So I set to teaching Bubby his address for New House. By song.

I made up a simple tune to go with the simple words of, "I live at XXXX <full street name>, XXXX <full street name>". Then I sang it to and eventually with Bubby off and on during the time I babysat the boys while Megan and Preston were away. Much to their dismay, I continued singing it now and again once Megan and Preston returned home, too. It became such an invasive earworm that Megan eventually groaned each time I started up.

I'm telling ya, though, I know the tune came in handy not only for Bubby, but for Megan, too. Having just moved to a new home, she didn't know the address off the top of her head. Thanks to my song, though, she had it down in no time.

It also came in handy for Preston. One day while Megan and the boys and I were having lunch at the kitchen table, Preston phoned from work. "What is our new address again?" he asked, needing the new info for something at work. Having heard him myself, I chuckled and started up the song. Megan shot me a don't-even-start-that-again look then easily recited the new address for her husband. Thanks to my little ditty, I'm sure.

When I returned home, I shared that ditty with my other daughters and with Jim. They'll surely need to know it for sending mail to our desert-dwelling family members. I'm pretty sure they'll be singing it next time they address a letter to Megan.

I certainly do. Each time I prepare a package or letter for Bubby or his family, I sing the unforgettable tune—sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud. Then I text Megan to say, "I just put a package in the mail...and guess what's now stuck in my head?" Her response? "Don't even...!"

I like to drive my family nuts by providing ever-so-annoying earworms. More so, though, I like helping my grandsons in concrete ways that make a difference, things that go beyond just having fun together. Teaching Bubby his address for New House covered all bases surprisingly well.

Of course, I don't want that lesson to be tested by Bubby needing to recite it for 911 operators in the event of a real emergency. No, groans from Mommy as Bubby sings out his address for her again and again will be more than enough proof that Gramma's lesson had its intended effect.

Today's fill-in-the-blank:

The last thing I learned or taught through song was _______________.

11 things I learned last year

No. 6: Two grandsons are better than one.

1. How to make salmon, cut mango, appreciate the delights of a boldly flavored balsamic vinegar.

2. Every once in a while hype is well warranted. Case in point: Adele.

3. The older I get, the more unbidden kindness and consideration matters, makes a difference.

4. My black thumb is apparently permanently tattooed that color and will never transform into green. (Though I'll surely give transformation yet another attempt this year.)

5. Despite the complaints and bad press, I'm unashamed to admit I love Netflix. Especially instant streaming for without it, I'd never know the thrills, chills, and chuckles of Friday Night Lights, Sons of Anarchy, Nativity!.

6. Two grandsons are indeed double the fun, double the pleasure of one and two of my life's greatest pleasures day in, day out, whether I see them or not.

7. Although decades removed from the drama and trauma of the teen years, mid-life friendships are still fickle affairs. Some flounder and fade for reasons unclear, while others grow and glow brighter than ever—also for reasons unclear yet much appreciated.

8. Committing yourself to fulfilling your heart's desire is worth far more than money. Most of the time.

9. Less really isn't more, it's still less—especially when it comes to having. But it's manageable, survivable, easier than previously believed.

10. There are benefits to having less, though: It highlights the abundance of blessings remaining for which to be endlessly grateful: a loving family, a welcoming home, continued co-pay assistance.

11. Those things that go bump in the night at my house really are just my boogedy boiler. (Or so I keep telling myself...and my houseguests.)

Today's question:

What did you learn last year?

What Gramma has learned so far

We're a little over halfway through the visit with Bubby, Baby Mac, and Megan, and there's quite a bit this grandma has learned in just the few days we've had together so far:

1. Amusement park rides really are not a thing of Gramma's past, as she's willing to ride anything and everything her grandson wants to go on, no matter how high or scary or rickety it may be. As long as said grandson is the right height, of course.

2. That said, three in a row is definitely Gramma's limit for rides that go round and round and round and round...riding or watching.

3. Bribery and providing dipping and covering options of any and every sort—from ketchup to chocolate to peanut butter, syrup, and more—will not make a child eat if he or she doesn't want to eat.

4. Driving 45 minutes and paying $.55 per pound for a warty pumpkin picked from the field really is worth it after all.

5. Gramma is willing to fork out $.50 to squish a penny and have it marked with a tourist stamp.

6. Baby GloWorms aren't just for babies.

7. When a child sneezes in the hot tub while sharing it with Gramma, said Gramma is not above using her bare hand to clear the child's face of green snot before it lands in the water, no matter how squeamish and disgusted she previously would have been by such a thing.

8. Sometimes schedules don't matter at all.

9. Sometimes a clear floor, bath tub, kitchen counter, couch, and bed don't matter at all, especially when it's boys' toys and baby stuff keeping things cluttered.

10. Sometimes stats, emails, tweets, status updates, and Klout don't matter at all, either, especially when it's boys and baby matters keeping Gramma from the computer.

Today's fill-in-the-blank:

What I've learned so far this week is ______________.

This post linked to Grandparent's Say It Saturday.

Time is on our side

Cousins

Nearly 20 years ago, I tried to steal my sister's son. Well, steal isn't quite the word. More accurately, I tried to save my sister's son, my nephew.

Nearly 20 years ago, my youngest sister was young, divorced, and had two sons—the youngest lived with her; the oldest, with his dad in the Pacific Northwest. Her life was, to put it mildly, a mess. She was in a drug-fueled relationship with an abusive maniac who thought nothing of beating the hell out of her, of shooting a gun right next to her head as he held her against a wall and threatened to kill her if she considered leaving him.

Which she didn't consider because, as such stories go, she loved him.

She loved her son, too, though, and knew the situation was a dangerous one for the little boy to be in, to witness. So she often asked me to babysit him. Which I did. Often. Little J stayed many a night at my house, ate many a meal with my family, was a welcome part of my family.

One particularly bad time, my sister asked me to have J stay at my house for the night, as Wacko Boyfriend was wackier than ever. She also asked that if she didn't call me at regular intervals through the night, that I come check on her. She wouldn't not go home for fear her boyfriend would come after her, so I had no choice but to agree.

My sister called once, then twice, as she was supposed to. Then no more calls. As my fear and panic became unbearable, I asked Jim to stay with the kids while I went to see if my sister was still alive.

When I arrived, the door of her apartment was slightly ajar. I knocked, I called out, I begged for my sister to answer. Which she didn't. I was scared to go inside, just in case her boyfriend was there with a gun to her head. I was scared to not go inside, just in case her boyfriend was there with a gun to her head. Or worse.

I couldn't bring myself to go in alone, though. So I knocked on the door of a neighboring apartment. An enormous black man who looked much like the linebackers I'd seen on TV answered. Inside were a few of his friends, also similarly large and scary-looking to this silly white girl begging for help in rescuing her sister. After a few fearful glances at one another, the big burly guys agreed to accompany me to my sister's apartment.

It was the scariest experience of my life. I was scared for my sister. Scared of the strangers I asked for help. Scared we'd all be ambushed by a freaking maniac if we went into the apartment.

We knocked. We slowly entered. We tentatively searched the apartment. We found no one.

Then, out the patio door, I saw my sister take off running and jump into a car with her boyfriend. I quickly thanked the linebackers, raced to my car, and took chase after my sister, believing she was being taken against her will.

When I finally caught up with them, my drugged-up sister pointed at me through the window and laughed as the car sped away. The joke was on me. A horrible, heartbreaking horror of a joke.

I returned home devastated, worried about what was happening to my sister. Most of all I was worried about what might eventually happen to my nephew. So when my sister called the next day, acting as if nothing had happened, as if she could just drop by and pick up her son, I told her I wasn't letting him go with her, that I was keeping him until she straightened her life out.

Surprisingly, there was no resistance from her.

Then, as Jim, my daughters, and I—along with my nephew—got ready for church, my sister pulled up in front of my house. With a cop. A cop who told me I had to give J to his mother. My sister wouldn't look at me, just stood by her car. The cop told me he understood how insane this was, but that legally I had to hand over my nephew. That his mother, as crazy as her situation—as she—apparently was, the boy was hers and I had no right to keep him. He knew it was wrong, the cop said, but it was the law.

I surrendered J to his mother. To my sister. Who had seemingly lost her mind.

Not long after that heartbreaking weekend, J's dad came to town to take custody of J. I honestly don't recall exactly how it all transpired, who had contacted him—such holes in my memory being the reason I could never write a memoir—but he came to save his son. Something I couldn't do. He had J's brother with him, kindly brought both boys to our house to tell us goodbye. Then he took them away.

We never saw either of the boys again.

Until yesterday.

My sister had thankfully pulled her life together several years after losing her boys. She got rid of the maniac boyfriend—after having three children with him. Three incredible children, all pretty much adults now, who are better off because their mom ran and hid and healed. Better off because, harsh as this sounds, their father died in a car accident before they knew the horrors of him.

My sister's contact with her two boys in the Pacific Northwest was sporadic and strained over the years, the pain and lies and misunderstandings too hard to overcome. Not long ago, though, they did overcome them. My sister finally visited, hugged, talked earnestly and honestly, offered apologies and explanations.

That was this past spring. This past weekend, the two boys came to visit their mom and half siblings. A party was held yesterday so as much extended family as could make it would also reconnect with the two boys. Two boys we hadn't seen in nearly twenty years. Two boys who had grown into bright, delightful, funny, interesting, and admirable young men.

I've not yet found the words to describe it. I won't even try.

I will, though, give thanks. Because although time—regardless of what anyone says—does not heal all wounds, it does lead to some level of forgiveness, some degree of grace, some appreciation for the time that is left.

I give thanks that forgiveness was offered. I give thanks for such grace. And, especially, I give thanks for the time that is left.

Today's question:

Who would you like to reconnect with in your extended (or immediate, even) family?

Reason No. 411 grandmas come in handy

One of the most important tasks of grandmothers is to support our adult children in their choices, their rules, and their lessons when it comes to raising their kids, our grandchildren.

Sometimes the need for such support comes in unexpected ways.

Megan called one day last week, starting the conversation with the typical "What are you doing?"

"Um, just working online," I told her. "What are you doing?"

"Well, Bubby and I are having a conversation. About poop," she said in her matter-of-fact teacher voice.

Ahh...I get it. She was talking in her this-is-a-lesson voice. She was on speaker phone. Bottom line: Bubby was listening.

So I resisted my immediate "WTF? Poop?" response, following instead with the requisite lilting, "Oh, really?"

"Yes," Megan continued. "We're talking about all the different places there is to poop. Bubby poops in the potty, like a big boy. Mommy and Daddy poop in the potty, too. Baby Mac poops in his diaper. And Roxy (the dog) poops outside. But when I told Bubby that kitties—that YOUR kitties—poop in the house, Bubby didn't believe me?" She ended on a high note of incredulity at Bubby's skepticism on the matter.

I'm no dummy. My daughter needed my support and I wasn't going to let her down. I immediately launched into authoritative grandma mode.

"Oh, but they do!" I responded loud and clear for Bubby's benefit. "Abby and Isabel both go poop in the house. In their litter box."

"That's yucky," Bubby responded.

"Some people don't want their kitties to go outside to go potty because a fox might get them, so they have their kitties go potty inside in a litter box."

"We wouldn't want a fox to eat the kitties, would we?" Megan asked Bubby.

Of course Bubby said no ... but it was clear the yuck factor was still a factor, especially the idea of the stink and the mess such activity might make.

"I clean their potties each week," I told Bubby. "And Abby and Isabel have litter boxes with lids on them, so they keep the stink in their potty. It makes it a private potty for them because kitties like privacy when they go potty. Maybe next time you're here, we'll watch as Abby and Isabel go into their private potties."

"Can you believe that?" Megan asked Bubby.

Bubby's response: "I don't even believe it!" in a chipper my-eyes-have-seen-the-light tone, doing his best to convince us he gets it, that he does indeed now believe what was once truly unbelievable to him.

Shew! Gramma successfully came through on the unexpected and unusual call for support.

After a bit more chit chat, the conversation wound down.

"You guys go now," I told them. "And maybe you should continue your discussion, maybe talk about where fish go potty."

As Megan said "goodbye," I heard Bubby in the background clearly inquire, "Where DO fish go poop, Mom?"

"Thanks, Mom," Megan added as she hung up the phone. Only I wasn't too clear on her tone. Was it one of sincere thanks for the support? Or one dripping with sarcasm at my suggestion for continuing the poop lesson?

It didn't matter. My grandchild's mind had been expanded. My daughter's lesson had been supported.

My grandma work was done for the day.

(My paparazzi work, on the other hand, continues, as I stalk Abby and Isabel with camera in hand in hopes of snapping them entering their private potties. I figure photos would be great reinforcement of the lesson for Bubby.)

Today's question:

What are your thoughts on cats? Where fish—or other animals—go potty, and life lessons learned? (Really, what question might you expect in relation to such a post?)

10 things I want(ed) to be when I grow up

Last week I had dinner with one of my favorite people, a dear friend who is very much like me on many things, but oh-so different from me on one very big thing. That big thing being parenting.

It's not that my friend and I have different parenting philosophies, it's that she isn't a parent at all, never wanted to be a parent, a mom. Ever. I, on the other hand, am a mom, have always wanted to be a mom. From the time I was a child, the position of Mom has been at the very top of my list of things I wanted to be when I grew up.

Being a mom wasn't the only thing on my list of things I want to be when I grow up, though. Here are more:

10 things I want(ed) to be when I grow up

A writer. I remember as far back as middle school, dreaming about being a writer. I became a writer, made a decent living for a short period of time as a writer, continue to be a writer.

A disc jockey. In elementary school, I worked on a presentation with a group, and we chose to present our findings on Mary McCleod Bethune radio style, with intermissions featuring snippets of music. The presentation made me realize I loved playing the part of DJ. Every now and then I still get a hankering to host a radio program ... featuring music, not news or blathering bumbleheads.

A cosmetologist. I wanted to be not just a hairstylist, but a cosmetologist. I went to school for it, was on my way to earning my license. Then I got pregnant, the chemicals weren't a good idea for the baby, and "Beauty School Dropout" became my theme song for a while. (Was soon thankful this dream was never realized!)

Interior designer. Again, started classes. Again, got pregnant ... and decided continuing school was too much for a mom with two little ones and an overworked husband.

Backup singer. I'd still like to be this. I don't want to be in the forefront, the glaring spotlight. But providing backing vocals for the star -- and maybe a solo during the bridge now and then -- would sure get my toes tapping, my hands clapping, and heart soaring.

Parenting magazine editor. Ann Pleshette-Murphy, editor of Parent magazine when my girls were little, was my idol. I've accomplished this one. Not to the degree of Ann, only on a regional parenting publication level, but accomplished just the same. 'Twas one of the highlights -- and much-missed positions -- of my writing/editing career.

Librarian. This was at the top of my list for many years, just below writer. Still is some days. Too bad a library science degree is required.

Bookstore owner. Plan B for sharing books, since a degree isn't required to sell them. Cash is required, though, and I never had it. Proof that things happen -- or don't happen -- for a reason, as I'd surely be suffering the plight of today's independent booksellers.

Pie shop owner. I make pretty good pie. I wanted to share it with others. I planned to call it Pie in the Sky. Or Pie Hopes. Again, no money -- and the rise of the cupcake -- brought those hopes to a fizzle. Although, I've been reading lately that pie is the new cupcake. Hmm ...

Restaurant owner. Witnessing hundreds of college classmates of Megan and Andrea, miles from home and craving Mom's cooking, got me seriously considering starting up a Homesick Restaurant featuring daily specials from mothers across the country (credit to Anne Tyler for the name). The girls graduated before I put the plan into action -- fortunately, as the location was seven hours away in a town I never planned to visit again once they were done with college.

Looking at this list, I see that nearly everything on it, attained or not, has contributed to or enhanced my position as Mom. Cosmetology class provided the tools for cutting and styling the hair of three little girls. Interior Design courses helped me in creating the desired ambiance in my home. DJing and backup singing? Well, I love and share music with my kids; always have, always will. The words I write and share -- whether magazine articles, books or blogs -- are often related to parenting in one way or another. Food fancies require no expanation, as that's what moms do: show their love through food.

Bottom line is this: I may not have done all I once dreamed of, but those dreams made a difference in the one that mattered most, the one that became a reality -- being a mom. And who knows? There's still plenty of time to achieve a few of those on my list I still find appealing.

Anyone up for leading a granny band? If you've got the vocal ability and nerves for centerstage, I'd be all over supporting you with a few doowops and handclaps from behind.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Today's question:

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Battling my personal lemons

I keep seeing featured in the JCPenney ad the red loveseat Jim and I bought just after moving into our house. Because we have so many stairs, we needed a spot for his mom to sleep on the main level when she visited, and the loveseat was the perfect solution because it pulled out to a single bed but would look fine the rest of the time as a loveseat in the study.

Well, each time I see it in the ad I cringe because that loveseat is The. Most. Uncomfortable. Piece. Of. Furniture. Ever. At least in the "loveseat" configuration. (I've never slept on it as a bed; the few who have haven't complained).

Unfortunately that little loveseat expenditure is not the only unwise purchase we've ever made. Here are a few others:

Boxed gnocchi. One of my goals this year is to try out more recipes instead of relying on old standbys. What I've learned so far: boxed gnocchi = yucky. Jim agrees.

Our hot tub. We bought a hot tub at our old house and the girls used it more than we did. We left it when we sold our house because our new house has one. Jim's never been in it; I've only been in it once ... when I fell in it by accident. We clean it, fill it, keep it chemical-ed up -- we just never use it.

Cheri, starring Michelle Pfeiffer. This one's not technically a purchase as it was a Netflix movie rental, so it didn't really cost us any money. But it did cost us time -- and it was the biggest waste of our time ever.

My Reebok EasyTone walking shoes. Both my doctor and physical therapist call them a "gimmick" -- and attribute a portion of my current disc trouble to them.

Black & Decker appliances. Toasters, food processors, mixers, coffee pots. Many throughout the years. None worked correctly or for very long. Why did it take me years -- and lots of money -- to realize B&D may be good at making tools but they stink at small appliances?

Smooth-Away. Yeah, an infomercial sucked me in. I bought FOUR -- one for each of the girls and myself. (Well ... they were BOGO, for heaven's sake!). Never again.

Squiggles. I thought I'd amaze Bubby with the magical squirmy thing. I couldn't get it to squirm or squiggle ... but Bubby did enjoy dragging it around on its string as if it were a trained caterpillar.

Keurig 'My K-Cup' insert. Megan and Preston kindly bought us a Keurig for Christmas. We drink a lot of coffee and thought the insert would be nice for using our own coffee instead of the K-Cups. Um, no. We'll stick with the K-cups. (It does work well, though, for using a tea bag to brew a single cup of tea.)

Photo: flickr

Today's question:

What is on your list of unwise purchases?

My dreams for my grandson

These are my dreams for my grandson as he grows:

That he always shows gratitude, curiosity, strength, forgiveness.

That he exercises his body and mind in equal proportions.

That he laughs daily, with others, at himself.

That he loves himself, is proud of himself, treats himself kindly, compassionately.

That he shows kindness and compassion to others, to animals, to nature.

That he turns a deaf ear to intimidation and ignorance when it comes to thinking and doing what's good, what's right.

That he understands the value of patience, compromise, silence, restraint.

That he always loves learning ... and teaching.

That he uses his hands for hugging not hurting.

That he accepts responsibility.

That he does his part.

That he has -- and is -- a true and loyal friend.

That he makes time for silliness, pleasure, play.

That he appreciates and cultivates strong bonds with his siblings, from youth to old age.

That he embraces productivity and pursues careers that matter to him, to the world.

That always -- always -- people are more important to him than things.

That he keeps his word.

That home, family, tradition matter.

That he communicates -- in small ways, large ways and when it may not seem to matter ... but does.

That he never fails to see the beauty, the delightful, the admirable, the awesome.

That he never fails to see those less fortunate.

That he takes nothing for granted.

That his fears and nerves lead him to greatness not despair.

That he appreciates differences of opinion, culture, ideas.

That he has abundant supporters, cheering him on. When he can't hear them cheering, that he doesn't hesitate to cheer for himself.

That he finds a loving forever mate and together they create a loving forever family.

That he makes a positive difference in the world, be it as simple as a smile to a passing stranger or as complex as contributing to global change.

That he never breaks his mother's heart. Or his father's.

That he builds people up, not tear them down.

That he's slow to anger, quick to reason.

That he leads more than he follows, listens more than he speaks.

That his body, mind and soul stay strong, growing and bending but never breaking.

That he dances, sings, eats, enjoys, cries, giggles, dreams without worrying what others may think.

That he sets goals far and high and reaches them ... then goes beyond them.

That adversity makes him stronger not hopeless.

That he uses the words I will more often than I'll try or I can't.

That his heart is gentle and generous yet strong and resilient.

That he keeps an open mind.

That the words misogynist, racist, hateful, liar, addict, or bully are never used to describe him.

That he never, ever doubts he's loved.

That the love he gives in return is never in doubt.

That he travels.

That he dares.

That he excels.

That he lives.

That he depends on God's guidance, comfort, forgiveness, love always, in all ways.

That all who touch his life help make these dreams a reality.

More importantly, that he makes these dreams a reality. Plus every single dream of his own.

Holiday question of the day:

If you could give one gift that can't be wrapped -- the realization of a dream, goal, wish, trait -- to one person, what would you give and to whom would you give it?


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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?)?

Wah, wah and cootchie coo

Whining and baby talk are for babies ... only!When my daughters were young, I had a crafty little sign over the doorway to the kitchen that said "No whining." Whining simply was not allowed in our house.

The girls knew early on that asking, complaining, begging, crying in a whiny tone led them nowhere. If they did that, my only response would be, "I can't understand you when you're whining."

Even as a manager in the workplace, I had a "No Whining" sign at my desk. It's incredible the number of adults who think whining will get them somewhere. With anyone. Luckily my daughters aren't one of those adults. They're not whiners. And I'm pretty sure whining now annoys them just as much as it annoys me.

One of the few things that grates on my nerves, gets my briefs in a bunch and makes me want to bop someone on the head with a Nerf bat more than whining does is baby talk.

Now, lots of grandmas engage in baby talk. I'm talking about the "Cootchie, cootchie coo" babbling that takes place over a new little one. Or the "Oh, my sweety bug, you're so precious!" kind of complimenting passed along to boys and girls alike. That's fine, I guess. To each his own -- as long as it's out of my earshot. But you'll never hear that from me. Bubby will never hear it from me. Even my dogs and cats will never hear it from me.

That doesn't mean I don't gush over cute things; I just gush in a non-baby talk manner. I love my little Bubby with all my heart and soul and I adore everyone else's little ones just as much as the next grandma. But there's something patronizing bordering on demeaning about talking in sweetsy high-pitched voices to kids. Believe me: It really is possible to let babies and others know how much you adore them without hitting the upper range of your vocal abilities and using nonsensical words. It's annoying.

More than the annoyance factor, though, I think baby talking to kids teaches them from the get-go that baby talk from them is acceptable. For, at what point do you stop the baby talk to your children or grandchildren? As they get older, they surely -- though likely subconsciously -- figure that if grandma can do it, they can do it, too. And they can't. Or at least shouldn't. And they definitely shouldn't do it in public.

I'm a site coordinator for the local children's literacy center, so I come across a lot of kids. I'm continually amazed at the number of them -- children in elementary school and older -- who talk in baby talk. To adults! It drives me nuts. I find it not only annoying, I think it's sad. The poor kids haven't been empowered to use their words to say what they mean, what they want, what they truly wish to express. Instead, they've been taught to depend on a cutesy, baby voice (or worse yet, whiney baby voice), in hopes that baby talk will get them what they want. Or soften the blow of what they're really trying to say. Or endear someone to their cutesy ways.

Which it doesn't. At least not with me ... and surely not with their teachers or other adults, I would venture to say.

So moms, grandmas -- dads, aunts, uncles, any other adults who interact with children, too -- do the kids in your life a favor and put an end to baby talk. From our mouths and the mouths of the little ones. It's annoying.

And it's just as bad as whining.

Which I can't imagine being taught as acceptable by any grandma or other adult, not just crabby non-baby-talking grandmas such as myself.

Today's question:

Which do you find more annoying -- whining or baby talk?