I’m Back with a Surprise

I have been quiet for several months because I have been a busy bee. I have been working on the election (writing postcards, posting informative messages to Twitter and Facebook, researching candidates, and taking a class on working on the Voter Protection Hotline) as well as planning weekly lessons with my four-year-old granddaughter. We are learning to speak Spanish and to sign—both of which have been on my bucket list. Hola, mucho gusto, gracias!


Although we had a brief period of allowing our grandchildren to visit us at our home, we backed off several weeks ago due to our decision to isolate ourselves for the upcoming arrival of our newest grandchild. We did not want to take any chances of not being allowed to visit her.

Looking back on my infrequent posts this year, I realized I never announced the impending expansion of my family tree. I guess I did not anticipate a break in writing for so many months.

It has not been a typical pregnancy. The visits to the doctor were sometimes virtual, which was not comforting to both Mother and Grandma. The shower was via Zoom and the shopping trips to choose the baby furniture were stressful, but at least it was easy to keep those pesky sales people at a distance. Not to be able to visit my pregnant baby was sad, but now the excitement is reaching its peak.

After months of waiting, the time is finally here. Mommy-to-be checked into the hospital last night—6 days before her due date because the baby is predicted to be a bit on the large side. We have been getting text updates and had one telephone call so far today. Bampa mentioned that his traditional meal-in-waiting was always a BLT sandwich. What will be the meal of choice for our family’s newest father?

I can’t wait to see them all as well as my mom. We have not been together since November because of the virus. I look forward to seeing how Jamie morphs from teacher to mother. Will she be a typical first-time-mother and boil each item before the baby touches it, or will she be more like a laid-back veteran mom and teach her daughter how to juggle knives? After all, the new dad is very skilled at juggling the tennis balls I sent her in case she experiences back labor.

In any case, I lost the baby shower guess-the-date contest. My date was October 16. The winner looks like it will be the God-grandmother/great aunt. I don’t know if the Godmother of the mother is the God-grandmother, but this is my story, so I get to choose!

I hope to get the call announcing the arrival of baby ____ (I am not announcing her name!) before dinner time today. Then I will be able to raise my glass in a toast.

It is time for some happy news for a change!

That Man was Nuts!

While Dad and I were out for our evening stroll recently (It may have been while in our car. Time and our activities are just so muddled lately), we were passed by a slow-moving car, and I was immediately transported back in time. I saw what appeared to be an adult seated in the passenger seat with a young person at the wheel. The man appeared to be looking down, presumably reading something very important on his cell phone rather than watching possibly the last moments of his life unfold before his eyes.

I told Dad that it appeared that she was a new driver, and I was surprised that he was not paying any attention to her. When I was teaching all of you to drive, I was always conscious that I was taking my life in my hands, so I was never as relaxed as the passenger in that car.

I especially recalled driving to a mall in Atlanta with Casey, and she did not  want to drive on a highway (nor did I). But I knew she had to learn, so I figured I would throw caution to the wind and force her to drive north on 400 for our little shopping excursion.

There was no way that I was relaxed enough to be surfing the Internet or checking my email. No siree! I had a responsibility as a driving instructor and to the preservation of our lives to keep my eyes on Casey and the cars whizzing by us.

She was a nervous wreck and made me do the driving on the return trip home. What was wrong with that man in the other car?

Preschool Sadness

It is difficult being a young social butterfly during a pandemic. For those of us who enjoy our solitude and have plenty of projects to keep us busy, it has not been too difficult. However, when you are either too young to understand or perhaps older, with dementia issues, this has been a particularly trying time.

How do you explain to a preschooler, filled with energy and love, that she cannot see her best friend or hug her grandparents? How do you really make her understand why she can no longer have playdates or go to school?

There has been talk of opening schools, perhaps with desks spread out more to maintain our social distance and requiring everyone to wear masks. Is that realistic in classrooms with space challenges, and is that possible with very young children whose modus operandi is spontaneity. Can you really stop that energy?

I have seen young children in China wearing masks. I even saw two little boys running joyfully towards each other, with their arms outspread in anticipation of a hug, after being separated from each other for months. But in China, masks have been commonplace for a long time, unlike here in the United States.

This will be a challenge, and I hope the sadness these little ones are experiencing will not last for long. It was interesting, after hearing about these feelings of depression in the young, that I opened up my news app today to read a story titled “How Parents Can Protect Kids’ Mental Health during the Pandemic.”

I guess a lot of people are having these concerns.


Our Kids are Tuned In

Since we just finished our big presidential primary here in South Carolina, and today is Super Tuesday, I thought I would provide some updates regarding the state of the presidential race from the point of view  of our underage family voters. The conversation began at the polls with Mommy on Saturday.

When asked who he preferred, 7-year-old Bryce announced that he was behind Tom Steyer. His four-year-old sister disagreed with his choice, stating that she was an Elizabeth Warren fan. “A girl has never been president. Why wouldn’t you want a girl?” (Wise child!)

On Saturday night, Bryce wandered downstairs from his bedroom to be told that Joe Biden had won South Carolina and that Tom Steyer had dropped out of the race. That was enough for him to pivot to Joe Biden, but not Lily, who would not budge in her support of Senator Warren.

Bryce told her that choosing Elizabeth Warren was a bad choice because “she is not in a good place.”  According to him, he heard that from “breaking news.” (Boy, these kids sure are tuned in!)

We discussed this during our Monday afternoon playdate. We showed both of them our pictures from Saturday night, when we attended the Biden South Carolina Primary celebration. While they were both impressed with out Biden sign and photos  of the bus, Lily was unwavering.


“Did Elizabeth Warren drop out?” (Keep in mind that this child is FOUR YEARS OLD!!)  When I told her that she has not, then she told me that she still likes Elizabeth Warren.

She is a loyal trooper!

I am a Chicken!

Although my taste for fish was not ruined by Grandma’s distaste for fish, I think that I have not been as adventurous an eater as are my children and grandchildren. (Don’t tell that to Grandma!) As I have mentioned previously, my mom never served us exotic food. Thinking about the most courageous food that I ate growing up leaves me empty. We were a meat and potato/spaghetti and meatball family. I am happy that my children and grandchildren are far ahead of me in what they are willing to put into their mouths.

The latest proof of this was Bryce’s birthday trip to Myrtle Beach, where he sat down with his mom to split a plate of oysters with her. When ordering it off the menu, Kelly asked if he wanted them rare. “Yea,” he responded with a look, I imagine, that was something like, “do you think I would stoop so low as to have them cooked?”

He told me he loved them. Lily then turned to me and told me that she loves eating eel. “I tried it once and I didn’t like it, but my brudder (not a misspelling) made me try it again and guess what, Grandma? I loved it!”

I am just beginning to dip my toe into the sushi world. I stick only to maki rolls and even then, mostly cooked seafood or vegetables rolls. I have tried spicy tuna and salmon rolls a few times and admit they are not bad, but I am not brave enough to try nigari, which is the raw fish  sitting atop a piece of rice. The kids would just as soon skip the rice.

Perhaps if Grandpa had been more insistent on having us eat fish as kids, I would not have been such a culinary fraidy cat. I never saw him eat sushi, but I bet he would have if he had been given the opportunity. Maybe he did when he was in Japan on his return trip from Russia, but that is another thing about him that I will never know.

South Carolina Bravery Medal

We rarely had birthday parties outside the house, so I tried to be as creative as possible with my home-based celebrations. There was the tea party during which Dad and I dressed up as the maid and butler, the diner-themed Fifties party, the “make your own gingerbread house party,” and the more traditional parties, where we played games like pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs.

I totally understand not hosting a birthday party at home, because someone else does the cleanup and there is no danger of anything getting broken. Never having been the parent of any boys, I am in agreement with this arrangement. With that in mind, I must say that there is a lot of braveness in allowing a soon-to-be seven year old to be having a sleepover at home. As you recall, the only time we had a birthday sleepover party, it was done at Embassy Suites.

Four boys is a good number, but don’t expect any sleeping to be done at this sleepover. They will be excited, and I will not be surprised if this is the first sleepover party for any of them. May I suggest hiring a hypnotist as your entertainment?

I am working on the cake, which will be five little boys sleeping atop a chocolate cake. Here is the plan which I found on Pintrest. I hope I can do it justice.



Let the Races Begin

Dad had no brothers or sons, so he has been enjoying engaging in activities he did do at his home as a boy or in our home as the father of three girls. I am loving watching my big and little boy playing games, building a car, and most recently, building a track to race golf balls down the side of our yard.

We all know about Bryce’s love of building marble tracks for the purpose of racing them. He is obsessed with watching videos on YouTube of others racing marbles, and he would like to upload his own races.

So I was not surprised to see the two of them discussing how and where they would build the track in our yard. They went outside and surveyed the property and decided on the location, and then just waited for a day without rain and for the temperature to rise. Their enthusiasm was adorable.

The weather on Tuesday, our typical day of the week for a playdate, was sufficiently warm enough for a January day and the sun was peeking through the clouds on and off after lunch. I stayed inside for hot chocolate and tea while the boys got to work.

They used my small gardening shovel to dig the trench and Dad pulled out an old pair of sneakers with heavily worn soles to stomp on the track until it was smooth. Then they began sending the golf balls sailing down the track and observing where it got hung up. Then they repeated the process: dig, smooth, and test until enough track was done to begin the races.

Next, the rest of us were summoned outside and given a ball to choose. The races began, which included lots of jumping up and down and cheering, particularly on Lily’s part.

The track is not complete, so weather permitting, the boys will be back at work this weekend. Then it will be time to build the text raceway.



Our Children Are Listening

As a mother, I tried to bring up my children to be polite and respectful. I also knew that there were also many forces influencing them, but I had help. Back then, beginning in 1997, television shows were rated to help parents determine their appropriateness—TV-Y, Y7, PG, PG14, and MA. I am not certain whether these ratings still exist.

With the exception of the Clinton hearings, I never worried about turning the television off when the president spoke. Unfortunately, that has changed. Now, when our current president speaks and the children are present, I  turn off the television because you just never know if what he says when he goes off script will be appropriate for young ears.

Last week, I was sitting at the kitchen table playing Mancala with Lily. Although she is now four-years-old and therefore a “big girl,” I am still careful about what is on the television. So while we were playing, Dad was watching the impeachment trial on his phone at what he thought was a very low volume level so she could not here. He was wrong.

Part way through our game, Lily turned to me and asked, “Grandma, who is Adam Schiff?” I admit I was surprised (but happy to learn that her ears work quite well), so I thought carefully before I answered, “He is Miss Nancy’s friend.”  (I have not put my Nancy Pelosi Christmas ornament away. She is hanging on a lamp in my bedroom so Lily sees her often.)

Lily then asked, “Does he know Miss Ruth?:

“Oh yes,” I explained to her. “They are all friends.”

So my advice to other parents and grandparents is this: Be careful what you speak about or what you watch when your wee ones are nearby. You may think what they hear is being ignored because it is boring grown-up talk. But don’t be fooled. They are listening and their ears are find-tuned.

The Right Attitude

As a grandmother, I have much more time to observe the children in the family than I once did as a harried mother. I am constantly amazed by their imagination, which just shows that a lot of expensive electronic gadgets is not always the answer to boredom. They can devise their own entertainment.

The activities during this past Tuesday’s playdate showcase two prime examples. I know now that when Lily is visiting I should never make my bed because that is a fun activity for her—and not just the basics of arranging the sheets, blankets, and pillows. Her latest game involves making a mountain of all my pillows and shams, climbing to the top of that mountain with “the girls” (aka Miss Ruth and Raggedy Ann), and then having me push her and the dolls to the floor, with the object being trying to catch one of the dolls before they hit the rug. She calls it “fall down kids.”

Lily loves “the girls,” and I have been working on explaining who they are, particularly Miss Ruth. I have told her that Miss Ruth is a real, very important person, and her job is to make sure all the rules in the country are working correctly. For now, I think that’s enough for a four year old to know. Lily knows she is special, so on Tuesday, we worked on the second activity, which was to make a necklace for Miss Ruth to wear. Each month we will make another one.

Today is Lily’s birthday, and I know she will be excited to bring in her birthday treats to her class: mini cupcakes and applesauce, which were her idea. I guess she is like me in that I loved eating applesauce with everything. I can just picture that big smile now which almost always graces her little face.

“What makes you happy?” I asked her.

“Everything!” she responded.

I sure hope she does not lose that cheary attitude. Happy Birthday Miss Lily!!

Who is Naughty and Who is Nice?

Tonight Santa is coming, and I know nerves are frayed with Bryce as he worries about his sister. “At least you’ll get something from me,” he told her one day after observing her increasingly bad behavior.

It did not help when Santa told them both that they were on the “nice list,” and I think that Bryce was more excited than she was about this erroneous pronouncement by the jolly old elf. Their mom responded by reminding Lily that “he’s making a list and checking it twice.”

So they will don their Christmas pajamas and put out their cookies and reindeer food for Santa. Thankfully, Mommy was able to clean the blood from Bryce’s pj’s after an out-of-control nosebleed, but he was not worried. “It doesn’t matter how I look. It matters how I feel. And the blood would have added a Christmasy look.” Jamie, the nosebleeder of our family, would never have acted so calmly if her special pajamas had been afflicted by a blood explosion!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Happy!