Firsts: Declan and snow... snow... snow!

Firsts: Declan and snow... snow... snow!

Megan made the trek from the desert to Colorado last month, to meet newborn nephew Benjamin. Brayden and Camden stayed home with Dad so they wouldn’t miss school, but as Declan is obligated only to two mornings a week at preschool, he had the privilege of joining Mommy for the visit.

The first morning of their stay at my house, Declan woke me early, bounding into my bedroom exclaiming, “Gramma! It’s SNOWing!”

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Grandma challenge: How full can she fill forty-four hours?

Grandma challenge: How full can she fill forty-four hours?

My desert-dwelling grandsons and their parents visited my house last week—for forty-four hours. The family had taken a road trip to Vail for a wedding, and Jim and I were fortunate they fit in a stop at our place on their way back home.

I was thrilled to host them and was determined to squish as much into the visit as possible, unsure of when I'd see Brayden, Camden, and Declan (as well as Megan and Preston, too) again.

As all three boys have birthdays in June…

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The difference one hundred ninety-nine days makes

The difference one hundred ninety-nine days makes

Up until this past weekend, my husband and I last saw our three desert-dwelling grandsons one hundred and ninety-nine days ago. At that time, we flew to their house to celebrate their birthdays — all of which are in June — a few weeks early. At that time, they looked like this:

Last weekend Jim and I flew to their house to celebrate Christmas with them — a few weeks early. In the one hundred and ninety-nine days since our visit in May, Brayden, Camden, and Declan have grown by leaps and bounds — in stature, maturity, conversational prowess, game-playing ability, and more.

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Grandma's good fortune

I reside at the far end of "fortunate" when it comes to being a long-distance grandma. Reason being that despite my grandsons living more than 800 miles away, I get to see Mac and Bubby several times during the year.

I fully realize that is more often than a lot of long-distance grandparents get to see their sweet ones. It's even more often than PawDad, my partner in grandparenting, gets to see his grandsons.

How and why I've gotten so lucky is beyond me. Visits with my grandsons in the past couple years — pretty much since Mac was born — usually close with me unsure of when I'll get to see them again. Then somehow the semi-miraculous occurs and I end up with an unexpected trip to the desert landing in my lap.

Well once again the semi-miraculous has occured. This week the flight details have been finalized, the reservations have been made, and I'm off to see my grandsons midway through October.

As I considered the timing, I quickly realized that October isn't one of my favorite months just because I have few celebrations to plan, but more so because I've had the privilege of seeing my grandsons every October since Bubby was born.

There was last October, when PawDad and I visited together — then I went again alone two weeks later:

october with family 

And the October before, when Megan and the boys visited our house (and we all visited the North Pole):

october with family 

Plus, in October 2010, the month we learned Bubby would be a big brother, I visited sans PawDad:

october with family 

And October 2009:

october with family 

And, of course, there was October 2008, Bubby's very first October:

october with family

Yes, October is a very good month for visiting grandsons. I look forward to adding October 2013 to the list.

Did I mention my amazing good fortune?

Today's question:

What month for you features more time with family than any other?

17 things I'll do this week

I'm flying to the desert today to spend a week with my grandsons. Here are...

17 things I'll do this week:
(in no particular order — except for No. 1)

1. Swelter in the desert heat.

2. Hug Bubby.


3. Cool down with my grandsons at the water park.

4. Hug Mac.


5. Jump with my grandsons at the indoor trampoline center (Kegels, don't fail me now!).

6. Hug Megan.

7. Sit with Bubby on one side and Mac on the other while enjoying Despicable Me 2 at the theater.

8. Collect more artwork from my grandsons for hanging on my refrigerator.

grandchild art 

9. Take a picture or two (thousand).

10. Worry about scorpions and lizards crossing my path — or getting in my bed.

11. Watch Bubby jump from the diving board.

12. Be proud of Mac, who is reportedly potty-trained.

a boy and his toys

13. Teach Bubby how to play Froggy Boogie.

14. Think of my partner in grandparenting, who couldn't visit our grandsons with me (and find time to Facetime him with the boys).

15. Read Dr. Seuss' Bartholomew and the Oobleck and make oobleck.


16. Hug Bubby and Mac again... and again and again.

boys at the library 

17. Be one heckuva happy grandma!

Today's question:

What will you do this week?

Time for a happy dance, plus GRAND Social No. 60

Yessiree, it's time for a quick little happy dance!

Why the happy dance? Because tomorrow, I'm heading to the desert to see those happy little dancers named — for bloggy purposes, anyway — Bubby and Mac! I get to spend an entire week with them, enjoying fun times such as these from the last time we were together, which was forever ago in April:

grandson collage

This week's visit is an extra special one as I'm visiting as a guest, not to cover child care while Mommy and Daddy leave town, thanks to my anniversary gift from Jim. I can't wait for the adventures to begin! From what I hear from Megan, Bubby and Mac can't wait either.

Which warrants another round of the happy dance, wouldn't you say?


Thank you for joining me today — for the happy dance and for GRAND Social No. 60. Enjoy!

link party

How it works:

  • All grandparent bloggers are invited to add a link. You don't have to blog specifically about grandparenting, just be a grandparent who blogs.
  • To link up a post, copy the direct URL to the specific post — new or old — that you want to share, not the link to your blog's home page. Then click the blue button marked with "Add your link" below and follow the directions.
  • You can add up to three posts, but no duplicates, contests, giveaways, or Etsy sites, please.
  • Adding a mention such as This post linked to the GRAND Social to your linked posts is appreciated. Or, you can post the GRAND Social button anywhere on your page using the following code:


<a href="/" target="_blank"><img src=" " alt="Grandma’" width="125" height="125" /></a>


  • The GRAND Social linky is open for new posts through Wednesday evening, so please come back to see those added after your first visit.
  • If you're not a blogger, you have the pleasure of being a reader. Bloggers who link up would be honored to have one and all — other bloggers as well as readers — visit, read and, if so moved, comment, even if just a "Hey, stopping by from the GRAND Social."

Grandparents and childcare: Long-distance grandmas can do it, too

I must say, I'm one fortunate long-distance grandma. My good fortune—despite the bad fortune of my only two grandsons living 815 miles away—lies in the fact that I get to visit Bubby and Mac at their desert home in just a few weeks.


I just visited them in December.

And in October.

And in August.

Plus, they visited me and the rest of our mountain-dwelling family in June.

And there were a few times I visited the desert in the early months of the year, as well.

Do I have megabucks that allow me to keep my calendar marked with travel dates to see my grandsons, all to keep my heart from breaking over living so far away from them.

Not at all. In fact, this past year has been particularly challenging for me, in terms of finances.

It's been a good year for my daughter and son-in-law, though. Good in terms of finances because Megan went back to full-time work, and Preston is rocking the financial-advising world. Which translates to a good year for me because all their time committed to work means they need someone to babysit my grandsons.

Bubby and Mac do have their daily childcare needs met by an in-home provider—at their home—thanks to their great Aunt Katie, Preston's aunt. She watches Mac every day and Bubby every day that he's not at his two-mornings-a-week preschool. There are times, though, that Megan and Preston need the boys covered for 24/7 stints Aunt Katie can't cover.

And that's where I come in.

The reason I get to see my adorable grandsons far more often than the average grandma-bear might get to see her grandbears is because I come in pretty handy as a fill-in childcare provider. On Megan and Preston's dime.

As working parents, Megan and Preston have daycare built into their budget. And if anyone reading this knows anything about childcare costs nowadays, it ain't cheap. Gramma, though, does come cheap. At least not any more expensive to fly me there for a week and back home again than the cost typically paid for a week's worth of childcare.

A week of childcare with built-in Gramma time for the boys, all for one low price of plane fare.

Who wins in that scenario? All of us! I win. My grandsons win. Megan and Preston win.

As I added dates for my upcoming desert trip to my new 2013 calendar, I considered how grateful and how lucky I am, and thought that maybe other long-distance grandmas could be just as lucky, if only they took a chance and asked the parents of their grandkids to consider a similar arrangement.

Long-distance grandmas: Ask! Ask if you can help out with childcare for your grandchildren. And ask if they'll foot the bill to fly you to their home to do just that. Then you and your loved ones can win, too.

I'm definitely not the only grandma to do this. In fact, many years before I reached grandma status, I learned a former boss of mine had retired when her first grandbaby arrived and was traveling from Colorado to Chicago on alternating weeks to help cover childcare. Childcare is expensive; the manner in which parents now handle the juggling of it is far different from what we may remember from our own days of raising children while being employed.

Of course there are a few caveats:

  • Some childcare arrangements require the parents to pay for days the child won't be attending, so don't be offended if your offer of services is turned down for financial reasons.
  • It's likely only economically advantageous if you cover the childcare for a week. This could be for a week jam-packed with appointments and events for Mom and Dad, who wouldn't be leaving town, just busy. (I've covered such times). Or it could be a week in which Mom and Dad need to be out of town, be it for a conference or possibly even a regular ol' kid-free vacation for the parents. (I've covered even more of those times.)
  • And it's likely only comparable to the cost of their regular childcare if reasonable airfare can be arranged.
  • Also likely: The arrangement requires the traveling grandma to be self-employed or retired...or willing to use her paid time off from her regular job for the childcare stint.
  • A week as the sole childcare provider can be exhausting, especially for long-distance grandmas who don't care for kids often.

The bottom line: Childcare is a huge expense for families with young children, and that expense may be a bit more palatable if they can fit in some grandma time for the grandkids on that same tab, too.

It's worth asking. Trust me.

Today's question:

What was your childcare arrangement when your kids were young?