My Little Plant Buddy

Today is March 1, so I can finally see spring on the horizon, which means time to start thinking about what new flowers to plant this year. Mock me if you must, my children. Perhaps you all do not even know about my obsession with adding new color and textures to my garden, but Kelly certainly does since she lives close enough to watch this process happen each year.

It turns out that my interest is shared by three-year-old Lily, who began walking around my yard last summer, asking me the name of each flower, tree, and shrub. It has put a lot of pressure on me, since I cannot name them all. I have been forced to accurately answer her questions, and she clearly has listened to me.

I have been told that as she rides in her car seat, she enjoys giving a running commentary on what she sees outside the window: “There’s a crepe myrtle,” or “I see a palm tree,” or “look at all the pine trees.”

One of her birthday gifts from me was a garden set, complete with a little rake, shovel, watering can, and gloves. We went out together and purchased pansies, and together we planted them in her front yard.

As the daffodils began emerging last week, I promised her that when enough had bloomed, she could pick some to bring home. When she noticed a flower pot filled with nothing but dirt and a dead blossom, she asked me, “What happened to the vincas, Grandma?” So not only did she know I had planted vincas last summer, she recalled exactly where they were planted.

She loves that her name is also the name of a flower. I can’t wait to take her shopping for more lilies, and cacti, and one of her personal favorites—Mexican petunias.

I am happy to have a plant buddy!



I Thought We Were Done With Projects!

Whenever I see photos of the monuments in Washington, I am always reminded of the monument project you all had to do in second grade. Last weekend, when I saw the photo of two of you near the “Big Stick,” as Casey referred to the Washington Monument when she was a little girl, I was back in my time machine to 1992, 1994, and 1996. And now that we have a kindergartner in the family, the parent/child projects are beginning anew.

I thought that I would be out of that loop now that I am no longer the parent, but that was not the case this week when I was asked to help decorate a cake for cub scouts. Bryce had forgotten to mention the project until the day before it was due, but with the help of the Google Machine, we found a project he liked and was able to do on his own. His mom and dad are not going to be helicopter parents. They will assist but not take over these projects.

It’s a good thing we only had three children, because I can’t imagine what DC-monument project child #4 would have been allowed to create with Dad. As you all know, the first monument was the most involved: a carefully constructed replica of the Jefferson Memorial, built with wooden dowels and Styrofoam. The second was The Pentagon, which Dad carefully cut from scraps of wood and meticulously angled  together using his engineering tools.

Two years later he announced that he did not want to do this a third time, but he conceded that he would either make “The Big Stick,” or Casey would recycle The Jefferson Memorial or the Pentagon. She chose “The Big Stick.”

If there had been a fourth child, I would have recommended The Eternal Flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. My design would have been a candle sitting on top of a piece of tile remaining from our bathroom renovation. Easy peasy. Done!

                    Mommy’s Eternal Flame

I Don’t Really Hate Kids

“I hate kids” was a common phrase that my mother says along with “don’t spill the wine,” “in my next life I am coming back as a man,” and “shit and shinola.” (And those are just a sampling of her greatest hits.)

After the particularly short night we had on Christmas Eve this year, I’d like to give you my thoughts on her most famous saying.

I don’t hate kids. I love you all—my kids, my in-law kids, and my grandkids. I would always laugh when my mom would express her hatred of all kids because I always knew in my heart that she was joking—mostly! However, just for a few moments on Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day morning this year, I shared that sentiment.

During the past few Christmases, our house has been Santa’s annex, since it would be difficult to explain the arrival of so many packages at the doorstep of a home with curious children. Both last year and this year my home has also served as Santa’s workshop since it is the perfect place to assemble some too-big-to-hide toys such as one very huge kitchen set and a three-story dollhouse.

Dad and I had to be involved in assisting Santa in transporting these gifts from our house to the house with the wee little ones. Last year, the kitchen set fit into the back of my car with just an inch to spare on either side and had to be taken into and out of the car by two very strong he-men.

This year—the year I briefly hated kids—we were faced with the problem of a child who was too excited to fall asleep until nearly 11:30, so Dad and I stayed up way past our bedtime in our clothes instead of in our heated-by-the-drier- pajamas. And in order to be able to witness the excitement of the children’s first view of the toys underneath the Christmas tree, we had to set our alarms for 5 am. That is when those infamous words of my mother ever so briefly popped into my head.

Just like that excited little boy, I also could not fall asleep because of those visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. Christmas Day 2018 confirmed that five hours of sleep is just not enough for me. However, when one not-quite-three-year-old little girl bypassed her presents under the tree to screech my name with excitement and run towards me after she came down the stairs, my hatred of kids melted away faster than a dish of Moose Tracks ice cream on a very hot Carolina summer day.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Happy!

Who Cares About the Lights and Santa

Going to the zoo during the Christmas season has become another holiday tradition for our family, particularly enhanced now that we have young children to accompany us. The lights are wonderful, particularly the tree at the entrance whose changing lights are synchronized with music and include swinging monkeys as part of the show.

Fake snow made of soap excited the children, and there was, of course, the meet-and-greet with Santa, which went much better this year—no more tears! In fact, after being assured that her brother would sit next to Santa, Lily agreed to sit for the photo and ended up chatting with the jolly old elf. She told him what was on her wish list: a crown, some pink coins, a water shooter, and a dust pan and broom. She mentioned the eye patch her daddy had worn when he hurt his eye.

While there were some animals to see (most were in bed for the night), the biggest draw for our little girl was the plants. This was not surprising to me, because she is constantly asking me the names of every flower, bush, and tree around my yard, and just recently, she was seen reading a copy of “Better Homes and Gardens” while waiting for her gymnastics class to begin. Not only did she point to the plants and ask for their names, she requested that I repeat the answer so she could burn the names into her brain.

I think I need to go out and buy a Christmas cactus.

I am Skeptical

Now that I am a grandma, I have spent a lot of time skipping down memory lane. Today, I want to discuss potty training, which was a reward which every parent impatiently anticipated and celebrated its success.

I opened my baby book and discovered that I began my adventures in potty training at the age of—wait for it, wait for it—7 ½ months!! I kid you not. According to my mom’s entries in my book, I apparently had some success well before my first birthday. I find that hard to believe.

What does this really mean? Apparently this coincided with the moment when I was able to sit alone unaided, so I guess Grandma just plopped me on the potty. Did she follow a signal, or did she just strap me aboard and forced me to remain there until success was achieved?

If you are repulsed when changing a number-two-filled disposable diaper, I must tell you that it is a piece of cake compared to changing a similarly filled cloth diaper, so I understand rushing the process. However, I am extremely skeptical of the success of placing a child on the throne at such a very young age.

I need to have a chat with Grandma about this.


He Wants What?

The countdown begins. Stores are already decking their halls, and children are making their lists for the jolly old elf. Therefore, it should not have been surprising that Bryce would want to discuss his most-wanted gift with Dad and me already.

“Grandma, do you know what a robot vacuum is?” he asked me this week. I immediately thought of the round vacuum that my own parents had, but he could not possibly be speaking of that, could he? He went on to describe this very cool floor-cleaning device, which could clean both the carpeted floors and wood floors as well.

When I mentioned it to his mom, she informed me that he was indeed interested in this household helper. He wanted to show it to her, so he went to YouTube and tried to find it himself—typing in R-B-T. Mommy explained that he needed to add a few “O’s”, and once he had typed in R-O-B-O-T followed by “V,” up popped an array of videos.

“It costs a lot of money,” she pointed out to him.

“It won’t cost us anything because Santa will bring it. It will be fun too, because we can chase it all over the house.”

Well then, how do you respond to this? I am willing to bet that Santa will not receive this request from a single other child.


Outwit, Outplay, Outlast

Outwit, outplay, outlast. This is not just the slogan of television show “Survivor,” but also representative of life with a 2 ¾ year old. The most recent challenge revolves around how to keep her in her room at night. The method had been to temporarily secure her there after teeth/story/prayer time were over with what is known as a monkey lock, and then remove it after she was asleep.

While this device had been quite successful in keeping her and big brother from Mom’s office and her room until recently, her genius mind has now consistently been able to outsmart the lock.

The first escape occurred the night that she decided to place a diaper box inside her hamper so she could climb high enough to release the lock. She then ran victoriously downstairs with her pants off and a smile of accomplishment on her face. Mom and Dad removed the hamper and every box from her room, but that did not stop her. No siree!

The little thinker next removed every book from her bookcase and then piled them up until they were high enough to reach the monkey lock. It also created a wall which made it difficult for her or her parents to open the door.

So she needed to come up with a third plan. She hooked the top piece from her Minnie Mouse car onto the door knob, and then pulled it back and forth until the force of this action slid the monkey lock low enough for her to reach the lock and open the door. Another success!

Holy cow! The score is now Child 3 and Mom and Dad 0. How do you outsmart this child?