About A Grandfamily Mama

I like the ocean, writing, reading, chamomile tea, horses, scented candles and growing what I eat. Like many of you, I've raised some of my grandchildren. Perhaps you're caring for extended family members or fostering someone who needs you. You are special families that I call Grandfamilies. It’s a journey.

I Must Live to be 100

I need to live to 100.  No, really, I do. I’m approaching my birthday – my Medicare birthday – and I am responsible for a preschool boy.

I’ve never been a health nut like some of my kids and well, I’m the only person I know who flunked PE in high school so I’m not off to a really good start in the physical fitness department.

I came across an article called Secrets to Longevity. It was bookmarked on my computer back in 2009 so I’ve obviously thought about this before.

According to this list there are eight culprits that will most quickly age you and negatively affect your health:

1. Poor diet – well, eating with a preschooler doesn’t lend itself well to salmon and vegetables but we do ok with fruit, stir-fry and a little Chef Boyardee. We should look at nutrition in a later blog.  Start gathering your ideas and suggestions.
2. Lack of exercise — there is plenty of running, chasing, heavy lifting, wrestling and bending to pick things up but you won’t catch me doing palates or Zumba. I do a few leg lifts when the foot rest on my recliner goes up though.

Maria Moline, instructor, coaches her Zumba cl...
3. Stress and worry – every grandparent who ends up raising little ones knows there is always a little worry going on. After all, we do still love the child who blessed us with this new job and their life couldn’t be all peaches and cream or we wouldn’t have their kids.
4. Exhaustion — Really?  Get serious. I’m nearly 65 and I have a preschooler.   Exhaustion is a way of life.  Guess I don’t get points for this one.
5. Unhappiness   — As long as I stay away from dwelling on what might have been, I’m good in this department. It’s those “if onlys” that zap us into bluesville. Stay focused on how lucky we are to have today and it’s all good.
6. Lack of love — I am truly blessed and never run short of love or people who freely express it. That would be my wish for you as well.  If you are running low in this department, consider a support group. Email me if you can’t find one and I’ll try to help.
7. Toxic overload – I’m sure this entry was talking about non-organic foods but I think we need to also take a look at toxic people and situations in our lives.  Sometimes it is important to rid ourselves of people to are only happy when they are miserable and like to share it.
8. Blockages and congestion of the transportation highways within our bodies. — Ok, I get it. A little Activia and some raisin bran.

I’m going to do a little more research on this subject so you might hear from me again on this one. Because living to 100 really isn’t optional.

So Long Spring Break and Hello …. Fever Friday?

Spring Break is coming to a close. The weather was dark, stormy and wet which put a bit of a strain on my entertainment skills because outdoor play was almost nonexistent.  Excitement about the return to preschool has been building and my grandson is so glad the school won’t be “closed” anymore.

This morning he woke with a cough and fever. How could he catch anything? We were practically quarantined! Maybe it was the quick trip to McDonalds or an ailing handyman at Lowes, but things aren’t looking good for a return to school on Monday.

I’m going to need a large red rubber nose and a short course in making balloon animals if he has to stay at home any longer.  Sigh.

I am strong; I am invincible; I am a parenting senior citizen

Yesterday gave us an amazing 80 degree day, not at all typical for winter in Oklahoma. No disrespect to Mr. Groundhog, but I think we are moving into spring.

English: A frisbee made by Wham-O.

Eighty is right in my comfort zone (which is unrealistically narrow unless I move to Maui) and I was motivated by the sunshine and breezes to run, kick balls, examine sticks and play Frisbee for several hours. Playing Frisbee with a 3 ½ year old is more a game of who can toss it farthest followed by a race to go get the disk. The comfort of the warm sun and a little boy’s laughter kept me unaware of the time until dusk shooshed us in to make dinner.

Today I am grateful for a chill in the air which I am using as an excuse for calling it an indoor day. Candyland never looked so good.  Of course my gingerbread boy token is moving a little slower around the board today.

Being a grandma/mom combo is challenging and will push me to the limits well beyond the sore muscles of keeping pace during the preschool years. I remember raising elementary and teenage grandchildren while facing drug-induced opposition and mental health issues.  There’s a long road ahead even if things go well. It’s hard physically and emotionally, but I can do this.

My thanks to Helen Reddy for her still apropos affirmation that we can do whatever it takes. Regardless of your religious-socio-political opinions on the women’s movement that spawned the words nearly 40 years ago, I hope parenting grandparents – especially those whose children oppose what they are doing — will find strength in applying these words to their lives.

Oh yes I am wise

But it’s wisdom born of pain

Yes I’ve paid the price

But look how much I gained

If I have to

I can face anything . . . .

This project is a great way to personalize a child’s room at Grandma’s house. I also like the idea of doing it together with older children. I’m not a “crafty” person but even I could handle this simple idea!

Ok. So I know this word has been redundant in my blog but this project really is SIMPLE! Every nursery needs an ABC artwork so why not integrate your baby’s name into it and make it personalized?

It started with a black frame that I got from Ikea’s AS IS section. I had no use for it but b/c it was dirt cheap, I figured I would use it ‘someday.’ Surely enough, I did and it serves its purpose fairly well!

I had to paint the frames stark white b/c nothing in Zoey’s room is black. 

Got these white glitter (subtle) letters from Michaels. They always have 40% off coupons on their website so print them out and utilize them. 

From my scrapbook stock paper collection, I chose a pale pink as the background and a patterned blue as the letters for Zoey’s name.  

A quick glance at the…

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How are you using that gift?

I was unusually comfortable in a new Sunday school class I visited today and found myself popping off comments (nothing heady, just personal observations and such) throughout the discussion. As I was leaving the class pleasantries were exchanged and several people mentioned how nice it was that I’d spoken up even though I was a visitor. I smiled and told them, only half-joking, that they’d probably have to zip my mouth shut after a while if I continued to attend the class.

One woman, a particularly affable lady who’d been active in the dialog as well, paid me a compliment saying that I appeared to be an intelligent person. She got my attention for sure; it’s not something I hear a lot.  Then she had me. “What are you doing with it?” she continued. I held my breath and froze like a deer in the headlights.  The only answer I could think of was nothing. Before I’d said much more than “uhhhh…,” she fired her follow-up question. “How are you using that gift?”

I’m aware of my God-given gifts and I know where I’m talented (and where I’m not). I am, as they say, without excuse. I should have been able to answer her questions with a quick picture of how I’m working, serving or contributing.

However, lately I’ve been moping around the house feeling like a drain on society. I don’t know if I’m depressed, reacting to the gloomy weather, or just being cranky. I do laundry, clean house, and occasionally cook a meal that requires more than 6 minutes in the microwave and a quick stir. My daughter-in-law tried to convince me that my getting the house clean was in fact a measurable accomplishment.  I groaned in a way that had her back peddling quickly.  I’m clearly not blooming where I’m planted.

This Sunday morning I got whacked with a proverbial 2×4 and reminded that God gave me certain talents and gifts that He expects me to use – maybe not in ways I’ve envisioned – over and above my Grandparenting role.

Like any father, God doesn’t want to hear me moan and complain that I’m bored and feel unappreciated.  He wants me to get off my bum and do something.

Sometimes I just want to be a regular grandma.


I love when the kids call. This morning I got to talk with one of my sons during his commute to work – gotta love those Bluetooth phone connections!  One of the things he said was that he really won the lottery when it came to grandmothers. And he did. Each of his grandmothers was a remarkable woman and as loving a grandparent as a child could ask for.

His remark made me think about how different I am as a grandmother.

My cousins and I would run excitedly to grandma’s kitchen cupboard that housed a dozen jars of homemade cookies, enough that each of us could find our favorite. Grandma was an awesome secret keeper and I could share with her all the things I would never tell my mom. We were kindred spirits. She kissed the back of my neck and I went home.

My mom had a toy closet where munchkins would dash to sort through a treasure-trove of Nana’s toys. She took the children one at a time for quality visits, went fishing, flew kites, made educational spots like the library and sea aquarium fascinating field trips, and made memory books with silly captions on the pictures. And then she hugged them tight and sent them home.

I want to be that kind of grandmother – but I’m not. Some days it makes me feel sorry for myself and other days it makes me just plain mad.  I’m a little embarrassed to be jealous of grandmothers who get to enjoy that special relationship unfettered by the responsibilities of parenting. Don’t get me wrong, Mom would swat a kid on the behind if he misbehaved but discipline wasn’t the mainstay of her job.

When you laugh, sing, dance, and play as a parent, it’s a very different thing. There is something undefinable about the difference between a mother and a grandmother.  And when Grandma has to cross that boundary and wear the hat that should be Mom’s, something gets lost. The grandkids don’t run in with excitement and anticipation.  They’re just home.

And In The Beginning

My firstborn grew up as the middle child and my eldest was really the third child. It’s all a little Abbott and Costello and hard to explain without scribbling a family tree on the back of an envelope. There were biological children, adopted children and a plethora of foster children. Just about the time the last of those were moving out on their own, my husband and I adopted a high-risk infant — the son of little girl I’d adopted some 15 years earlier. And so started what I lovingly call the second litter.

When we married, my children were nearly grown and he was an avid sailor.  There were plans to set sail in a 40 foot Catalina to the Caribbean with another couple for a much-needed dream vacation. Those plans were scuttled and replaced by jaunts to the park with a stroller.

Not wanting to raise an only child we prayed for the opportunity to either conceive or adopt another child. God rewarded us with a beautiful baby girl four years later. At this point I learned the true meaning of “be careful what you pray for.” The floodgates opened and we were blessed with two more adoptions within the following 15 months. Sailing and my career were replaced by a household with a kindergartener and 3 non-walkers. Two of those four adopted children had been our grandchildren. And so it began….