Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Crying Uncle!

There are great uncles, and there are amazing uncles, and there are amazing great uncles.  And I'm happy to say we have our fair share of each in our family.

Great Uncle Jim & Faith
My boys grew up with, and still tell stories about, their uncle.  My brother was famous for picking up nephews by their ears.  They learned quickly to grab his forearms and give an assist with the lift - a major pain reliever...  Uncle Jim was also famous for twisting ears to turn the boys on or off.  Hmmm - something of an ear fetish, I guess.  He makes an exception when it comes to little girlie ears, though apparently Faith has heard enough stories to be cautious...

Suffice it to say, though, that my boys learned uncle-ing by example.  Fortunately, my grandboys quickly learned to save their ears with a forearm assist of their own.  But there are other life lessons being taught as well:  
Monster faces
Giggling until milk runs out your nose
How many grapes fit into a 2 yr-old's
mouth at one time.  Answer: 5

When should you take advice from your
uncle when playing games? Never
Yes, indeed, uncles are an important component to growing children.  And as you can see, there is a reason one cries "Uncle!" when you need to get out of a fix and have exhausted all other possibilities.  It's not a cry for help from an older male relative.  Nope.  Truth be told, it's a naming of your superior who possesses chronological strength and cunning.  It's a right of passage - a slow passage from childhood to adulthood.  And no one, it appears, on either side of the generational divide wants it to pass too quickly

Oh, and a quick shout out to aunts, too, especially when it's time to turn down the volume.  Thank you, Aunt Emma.  Granma's ears appreciate it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Hero in a Half Shell

Snips and snails and puppy dog tails, that's what little boys are made of - or so the saying goes.  It's poetic, but I'm not 100% certain I agree.  If I had to slap a label on the "boy" package, I think it would read (from greatest to smallest):  dirt, megaphone, love bunny, dinosaur, super hero, stardust, giggles and dreamer.  Poetry has never been one of my strengths, but I do know boys!

The ingredient list above is a generalization, of course, since no two boys are packaged identically.  I had one boy of my own who had more stardust than usual, one with an excess of love bunny, and one who was fully one-quarter Tyrannosaurus Rex - though all of them still had dirt as their first ingredient...  Likewise, grandboys vary slightly in proportional content.

Tyler's 6th birthday was last weekend.  You can probably tell from the picture what his predominate ingredient is.  In his case, dirt is not number one on the list, though it might be a close second.  Years ago, even while we struggled to understand his toddler-speak, he was shooting the bad guys with a rifle masquerading as a stick or Legos doubling as a gun or cardboard tube nunchaku.  Tyler, then and now, adds his own sound effects.  I would tell you what they are, but I'm not a good speller and I fear auto correct would not know what to do with my attempts.  Think "boy noises" and you will come close...

Happy birthday to my favorite hero in a half shell!  Not only is the world safe, but this Granma is secure in your love, as well.  I love you, Leonardo (blue mask - I Googled it)!  Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Gone Fishing

My husband liked to fish.  He went on an annual trip when our boys were young.  I think he just wanted a week of peace and quiet...  Some years he drove south to fish for bass.  That's good eating!  Some years, though, he drove north in search of Muskie.  On those occasions, I lived the week fearing that he would actually catch one!  No way did I want a dead fish adorning my fireplace mantel!  Fortunately, he never caught a legal-sized one, so we didn't have to sell the house to lose the fireplace...

Grampa also took our sons fishing - when he wasn't in the mood to catch many fish.  Once, I remember, I was in charge of worms on hooks.  Wouldn't you know it, we ran into a herd of hungry and foolish crappies.  I'm not a fishing fanatic - that didn't help.  When I look back on it now, it is still not with fondness.  But it is with a smile, so that's good enough.  The fishing gear has found its way down the line to our sons now.   I think Colin and Court inherited their love of drowning worms from their father, and for the same reason.  It's an escape to silence in a peaceful setting.  Both of them have taken their sons fishing, so maybe it's more than just an escape.  What did the worms ever do to them?

The other day, Aidan wanted to show me his new game, which is actually multiple games in one:  checkers, bingo, tic-tac-toe, snap, war, old maid, and Go Fish.  At least, those were the ones I saw up close and personal - as in "Look, Granma, we have this, too!"  These are the times I'm glad I wear glasses - as personal eye protection if not for vision...

We tested out several games, but the one that seemed to catch the fancy of both Josiah and Aidan was Go Fish.  Elijah made himself useful by confiscating sets of 3 or 4 when laid down.  Score keeping was nonexistent.  Aidan made great strides in understanding the game's goal.  Josiah, being three years old, spent every turn asking for cards bearing his favorite number - 3.  It mattered not if he had a 3 in his hand, or even if all the 3's had been played and were now in Elijah's hands.  Quite often, I brokered a trade with Elijah in order to make the 3's available to his elder brother, not wanting Josiah to quit in frustration.  Playing Go Fish with two players lacks whatever element of surprise and strategy might otherwise enhance the game.

I could win convincingly every time with almost no effort.  But the art of the deal is to LOSE believably at least an equal number of times.  Grandboys shouldn't win every hand.  But they must have fun and win some, or they will have no interest in challenging elder cousin and game-master Bryce someday.

If, by chance you go fishing with my grandboys, remember, you may have the bass or muskie for YOUR mantel, but leave the threes to Josiah.  At least until April, when he turns four...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

21st Century Love Letters

I was wondering what the post would be for today - an all too common Monday night occurance in this corner of the world - when lightening struck.  Not an actual 1.2 gigiwatts of power, for those of you old enough to remember when "Back to the Future" was predicting a year yet into the future.  My reference to "lightening" was electrical, none the less.  That is, I received a text from my grandgirlie, Bella!

Bella received an iPod from Santa.  She can't make phone calls, but she can text!  And I am the happy receipient of the electronic media.  Part vocabulary and more emoticon, we conversed.  Side note;  I was well into my 50s before I even heard the word "emoticon."  Just a couple of months ago my 5-year-old grandboy commented on a picture of another grandboy with a mylar baloon.  He asked why Josiah had an emoticon.  Silly me.  I thought it was a "smiley face" floating above him.  This Granma is a techno-flop.

Back to Bella and the "conversation" at hand.  It started with, "I just got back from school for today.  emoticon, emoticon, emoticon"  Picture a high five, backpack and stack of books.  (A more tech-savvy Granma would actually show you those picture.  Sorry, you just get words...)  We proceeded through dinner plans, Skopkins, YouTube, snow, and Grampa.  It was a very involved and inspired conversation, as you can see - in part.  We ended when she actually had to eat.  No texting at the table - a rule I whole-heartedly endorse.  Afterall, I was never allowed to text at the table when I was a kid...

OK.  So I'm dragging myself into the 21st century, not altogether unwillingly, just sometimes reaching the far edges of the stretch-ability of my mind.  But there is one nagging question that defies a satisfactory answer:  why is Bella's selfy so cute, even when she is goofy?  And I am so goofy, no matter how I try?  I think I need a stylist - or a new nose...or lessons from a grandgirlie...

However, I think I'm doing pretty well at the heart emoticons, even if I don't vary them as well as my Bella.  I mean every electronic heart of them!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Number One or Number Two?

There are some sure-fired ways to elicit groans from mothers.  I bet you've already thought of a few.  Things that made me groan as a mother:
  1. A broken TV
  2. McDonald's - whether we were eating there or not
  3. Snow days
  4. Potty training
The list could be much longer, of course.  In general, though, Granmas don't feel the need to complain about the above - except maybe McDonald's, which is universal and ageless.  But since we aren't with the munchkins continually, most things can be tolerated and even enjoyed from our perspective.

My bathroom buddy
For example, Josiah is currently proceeding through the phases of #4 above.  During this period, every mother knows where every bathroom is in every store she might even think of frequenting.  This is because the time between "I have to go," and the actual go, is approximately 30 seconds.  In the good old days of training pants (heavy cotton, but not nearly absorbent enough or leak-proof), this spelled trouble.  Pull-ups, I suspect, have lessened the panic considerably.

Thanks to a motivating sticker chart that marks and rewards successes, Josiah is doing very well!  But being no fool, he is also using his status to his advantage.  Whenever Granma is around, he finds himself in desperate need of assistance in the bathroom - Granma assistance only.  He certainly knows what he is doing and how to do it unaided.  But being the second oldest of five, he has also learned that he can get an immediate reaction and private one-on-one time in close confines just by advertising certain needs.  I am also well aware I am being manipulated, but I like one-on-one time, too.

Cute little love-bug offers me an invitation I cannot refuse and gathers me to himself by closing and locking the bathroom door.  Without the lock, younger brother, Elijah, might join in the fun, which would defeat the purpose.  Josiah drops trow and positions himself appropriately as the conversation starts.  Many conversations revolve the fact that the door must remain locked, expounding on the necessity for privacy.  Some of the talk is about either the previous or the next adventure on the other side of the door.

But my favorite one occurred just the other day.  (Remember, I raised three boys before the five grandboys came along.  I am well versed in bodily function conversations.)  "Granma, when you pee you have to wash your hands."  Indeed, and so we shall.  "When you poop you have to wash your hands, too."  Correct, again!  "But, Granma, you don't have to wash your hands when you fart."

I would say he training is coming along beautifully, And I've never enjoyed potty training so much!