Tuesday, November 29, 2016


I have a father and three brothers.  There have been many mustaches and beards among them.  Actually, I never remember seeing my father with anything more than a few days growth on vacation.  But my brothers have all sported substantial facial hair from time to time.

Then there are my three sons and my husband.  Only twice in 37 years of marriage have I seen Ken without a mustache.  My sons, on the other hand, I remember with peach-fuzz heads and lily-white chins.  Both of those memories are now distant - especially the chin part.  A closer look at the picture, though, will show that all three sons are "headed" back to their peach-fuzz "roots".  I'm told that comes from the mother's side - oops.  Sorry...

In case it has escaped your attention, it is Movember, the designated month to remind the men you love to take care of themselves.  There are lots of men in my life, some old enough for facial hair and some not yet.  I love them all, now and forever!

This public service announcement is brought to you by:


 As well as Colin, who wishes he didn't need a wooden beard to match his brother, Court's, wooly one.

Take care of your health, men!  There are moms and daughters and granmas who love you and wouldn't know what to do without you - facial hair and all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Can You Hear Me Now?

I, like many of you, grew up with tethered phones.  Short of a tornado that took your whole house, you never lost your phone.  You also didn't leave messages for people, because unless you were calling a doctor who paid a service to answer their phones after hours, there was no voice mail.  When we dialed the phone, we actually dialed the phone.  How many millennials use that term without the slightest idea that originally it was a literal description?  And, oh, if you wanted to know who was on the other end of a ringing phone, you had to pick up the receiver and ask.  BTW, if someone was actually away from the house, say living life or something, the phone went unanswered.  How did we get by in those dark ages?

I'm not really pining after those bygone days, but there was something kind of nice about not being instantly available to anyone and everyone.  Of course, if you ask my kids, they will tell you that I am really bad at keeping my phone on my person.  The rebellion of mid-century, middle child...

I am blessed to live within 20 minutes of all of my grandboys and girlies, meaning I don't have to spend a lot of time talking to them on the phone.  This is probably a really good thing, for reasons that aren't necessarily 21st century.

Under the best of circumstances, toddler speak can be difficult to interpret.  Frequently, the conversation is easiest to follow while chasing after the wee one to see what he sees.  At least it gives you context and a fighting chance to follow his unique stream of consciousness and foreign sounding phrases.  Even when you are two feet from him, he's too much a busy body to actually sit still, face you and speak.  This multi-directional speak is exacerbated with a phone that never moves in sync with the miniature among us.

Additionally, as it was a lifetime ago, it is still difficult to hear when a child shakes his head.  Of course, there is Facetime, which my lovely grandgirlie, Bella, employed first thing in the morning on my recent birthday.  What a sweet, sweet start to my day.  She might not agree, as she got to see me still in my jammies, hair and makeup still on my "to do" list.  And that little picture in the upper corner that shows me how I look to the other person mocks me!  Why can I never hold the phone so my nose doesn't fill the screen?  Most of the time I rather like my nose - except when Apple gets a hold of it...

The other day, Josiah and Elijah were fighting over the "phone."  Granma to the rescue - I found an additional phone not currently in use.  Yep, they were both calculators.  At least I didn't have to worry about them buying an unauthorized app...

The best part about the phones of today is that grandones are the best teachers.  All too often I hear myself saying, "Hey, how did you do that?"  With a shrug that says 'she's old - I'll have pity,' they let me in on Apple's best kept secrets.

Just reaching out to touch someone.  Now THAT dates me!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


It happened again, as it does with some regularity.  The family gathered for food and bedlam at increasing decibels.  Here is the funny thing about decibels:  they increase, one child to the next, each vying for attention, until - Mom or Dad or another adult figure ups the ante on the loudness scale and demands silence (parental oxymoron: yelling for silence).  The adult safety valve was released, but long before the echos died away, the noise returned.  Someday when I am deaf, I will smile contently at the din I can no longer hear.  I just enjoy the gathering!

Last weekend's event was to celebrate birthdays of Bryce's and mine.  That made me a special guest - well, I'm always special, right?  But there was a consensus on that day, and I expected to revel in it.

Walking in the front door, the town crier opened the basement door and bellowed, "Granma's here!"  Five munchkins, all under the age of eight bounced off the various subterranean walls and responded.  "Granma!!!!"  The thundering herd came up the stairs laughing and talking.  Elijah voice, carried above them all - not that he was the loudest, but his toddler voice continually repeated my name.  I love that kid!  I got hugs and kisses and happy birthdays and requests for piggy back rides.  Piggy back turned into piggy pile when I made the mistake of sitting on the floor.  I love all those kids!

Shortly thereafter, this Granma was rescued by a voice telling those under five feet tall to take it downstairs until dinner.  Not yet having shrunk in stature enough to be banished to the basement, I remained upstairs for adult conversation.  Elijah, feigning height he does not actually possess, remained upstairs, still spouting my name every other sentence or so.  Love, love, love!

Dinner arrived along with the diminutive noise makers.  Here things turned left:  Uncle Corey became the human equivalent of a jungle gym.  Uncle Colin participated in his share to monkey business, too.  Granma watched.  Eventually the miniature were herded back down to their lair.  Aside from a call to cake, where the cake garnered more attention than this birthday celebrant, midgets were only sighted periodically, usually bringing words like "he took my..." or "he won't let me..."

As the evening wound down, I thought maybe I had lost my Granma-ly touch (though my sanity was blissfully in tact) as I put on jacket on to leave.  Then was heard an announcement aimed downward from the top of the steps:  "Granma's leaving!"  And right on cue, the the masses fell up the stairs pushing and shoving and giggling.  I was swept up on a chorus of "I love you" and "happy birthday", sloppy kisses and hurdled hugs.  So much love!  It was indeed my special day afterall.

Oh, and glad I didn't have to pick up the basement.  I can only imagine...

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Happy birthdays to me!

Today is the exact mid-point between my birthdays.  As a kid, I always wanted a second birthday - you know, back when getting older seemed to have all the perks.  Besides, my birthday is close to Christmas and a spring present opportunity seemed a good gig.  Gifts aside, I finally got my second birthday - two days before the original one.  Tomorrow I will be 57 (gasp), but yesterday I turned 11.  So I guess I'm 34 today.  Maybe you can follow my math but question my logic, but I assure you there is logic there - somewhere...  Eleven years ago yesterday, my original grandboy was born, and along with it, the birth of this Granma.

That baby boy Bryce was pink and wrinkly when he was born - pink when he wasn't testing his lungs, which made him more fuchsia - but still 100% blue.  From those very first hours, he taught me to be a Granma.  He taught me to share (him - with his parents).  He taught me to eat yogurt off of chubby, sticky, outstretched fingers (I still hate the stuff, but I obliged him out of love).  He reminded me that even after reading the same book 25,000 times, you still can't skip a page.  Of course, you don't actually have to "read" it, either.  It just rolls off your tongue (and through your nightmares).

As he grew he learned that even average hurts to a small body are huge - I lesson I wish I could have spared him.  Hugs and kisses might not vanquish all those hurts, but they are good salve for the soul - both of our souls.

Together we have conquered merry-go-rounds and water slides and roller coasters.  We proved that you are never too old for Disney - not at 11 or 34 or 57... or 114 for that matter.  Bryce tried to teach  me about Mario Cart - unsuccessfully - and more recently about Minecraft and Pokemon.  Alas, with the same results.  I taught him to play Monopoly, first of the Junior variety and then the real game.  The rules of the adult version include no more blind-eyed Granma letting him cheat to win.  It is a lesson he learned well.  Winning is now a shared talent.  Sometimes he even cheats to lose just so the game won't end as quickly.  (Monopoly and end quickly = oxymoron!)

It doesn't feel like 11 years ago.  I don't feel like 57, either.  Maybe I'll just lay claim to 34 for awhile.  I love sharing this birthday season with you, Bryce.  And I love you!!!  Happy Birthday!!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Take me out to the Ball Game!

Elijah lamenting Cubs losses in
games 3 & 4
If you live anywhere near Chicagoland, as I do, I don't have to tell you the Cubs are in the World Series for the first time in 71 years!  Even if you hate baseball, even if you are doing your best to ignore it, even if you are a Sox fan, it is not possible to have missed this slice of history in the making.  

I became a die hard Cubs fan in the summer of 1981, which makes me kind of new to the game.  I had a baby in my arms (Colin) and a beach ball of a belly (Corey).  Players like Ivan de Jesus, Lee Smith and Leon Durham kept me company as I folded laundry or picked up toys or cradled a crying child.  Having made our own sons into Cubs fans, this Granma and Grampa are watching as they pass it on to another generation.  My dad, on the other hand, remembers the last time the Cubs were in the World Series.  He was in 8th grade, the year he became interested in sports, all because of the Cubs.  

Court, Christine and crew were over for dinner the night of game 2 of this current series.  For those of you not quite so attuned to the contest, the Cubs recovered from a game 1 loss to the Indians with a handy defeat of the same to tie the series.  At one point during the game, Grampa got a bit excited about a Cubbie beating out a double play ball and yelled "Safe!", complete with arm  motions.  Wanting to join in the fun and being a toddler mimic, Elijah spent the remaining time before his bedtime pronouncing every play "safe": strike outs, walks, fly balls and ground outs.  He might have had some encouragement along the way.

In my 35 years of routing for the Cubs, I have occasionally felt guilty about subjecting another generation to the curse of being a Cub fan.  As a Granma, though, I'm feeling better about that decision.  It might be senility on my part, though, as that is always a possibility.  Too many men in your life will do that to you!  But mostly it's because the curse of the goat is broken.  I don't actually believe in curses, but I'm not fond of goat, either.  And at least it's a story that will be told as a historical anomaly to my grandboys, and not as a sudo-factual excuse.
Court (future father of Elijah), Corey (enjoying his 8th birthday)
and Colin enjoying a day at Wrigley Field.

Go, Cubs, Go!  Win one, no, two more, for the midgets among us and cement another generation of fans!