Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Raising Babies

I was a matronly 19 when I got married.  Eighteen months later (just for the record) but still just 20, I became someones Mommy.  Ditto at 21.  My third son, though didn't come along until I was 24 - almost ancient!  In oh, so many ways, I was a baby raising babies.  Having lived through it (and having no idea what it would be like to have babies at thirty-something), I have to admit that young and dumb has its advantages.

We couldn't afford an baby monitor, but then, we were blissfully unaware that we might need one.  Our baby boys rode in car seats - until about age two.  The laws were different then, and again, our ignorance kept us blissful.  BTW, car seats stayed in the car.  They did not disconnect for carrying; we just carried the baby.  Trust me, baby blues squirmed a lot, but at least they weren't as heavy without all that extra armor.

I remember going back to my 10 year high school reunion.  While everyone showed off baby pictures, my kiddos' pictures showed them with backpacks, hiking off to school.  Many of those same friends are just starting round two (or hoping to start round two), while I enjoy 8 grandbabies.

And enjoy, I do!  I love being young enough to sit on the floor, the base of a pyramid of grands.  There is nothing like having minis all want to sit on your lap, and not recognizing turns - or a full lap.  There's always room for one more, right?  (For the record - no, not always.)  I enjoy piggy back rides, being the designated piggy, notwithstanding.  I can't wait to see the latest hot wheels or book or game or animated video.  I want (stopping just barely short of demand) hugs and kisses from all assembled under 5' tall - all at once if possible!  I'm ok with closing the front door by falling against it in a fit of youthful exuberance.  I'm glad I get to be one of the exuberant, even while being over-run with it.

I have learned a few lessons along the way, and feel it only fair to pass along the wisdom.  First, when making cookies with more than one grandlove, have everything premeasured.  It minimizes the I-want-to-help mess, and it keeps you closer to the mixer's on-off switch (a definiate plus).  Second, it's ok to say "no" when necessary, just don't expect anyone to listen (at least it rarely works for me).  And finally, the only time better than showing up to the aforementioned stampede at the front door, is the reverse several hours later.  This Granma is not a total fool!  I love the comfort and quiet of my own bedroom.

Yep, I'm Granma - my great reward for withstanding their fathers as teenagers.  Life is good.  In fact, life is excellent!  That's what being in love will do!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Passing It On

Bryce with his Great Grands!
Granma with her 3 grandsons (my 3 sons)
There are volumes written about a girl and her mother: some poetic and serene, and some not.  Sometimes "Mommy, Dearest" is tongue in cheek and sometimes spoken with reverence.  As you might have noticed, I have no idea how a daughter would say those words when referring to me.  I'm eternally short on XX chromosome offspring to fill in that blank.  But my inflection when referring to my mother would be: my mother is the dearest soul I know.

I've learned a lot of things from her over the years:  how to make angel food cake (I still leave that to her - sometimes an expert cannot be equaled).  She taught me the love of water, being a fish herself.  She taught me to sew - and my sewing machine ranks up there on the list of things to save in case of fire.  She didn't exactly teach me the love of family - it just spilled over from the person she is.  There were five us of kids.  It is only in recent years that it occurred to me that I might not be her favorite - and that, not because anything changed, but because I realize all three of my sons are my favorite.  I think she probably has five favorites. Secretly, I'm sure she lists me first, though.

More to the point of this blog, though, she taught me to be a Granma.  She taught me to plop on the floor to be on the level with a toddler's imagination.  She taught me that Play-Doh is not something to be feared, but, rather an art medium capable of reaching the stars (even if it does get ground into the carpet).  Mom taught me that anything that could be thrown away should first be used ten ways from Sunday, only making its way to the town dump in new and creative forms, if then.    She taught me the joy of baking, or at least the fun in eating something loving hands have produced - even if everyone else should be warned of the pending peril of grandlove saliva.  I love to make cookies with my grands.  Eating them is always more the adventure. 
Great Granma and Aidan

A couple of years ago, we were taking picture at a family reunion.  I asked Bryce if he wanted a picture with Granma and Grampa.  His response, without missing a beat, was, "Yes, this Granma and Grampa," pointing to my parents.  How can you be upset about that?  Jealous, maybe, but not upset.

My mother is the pied piper of grands.  She lures then in with an I-Pad and plenty of games for all levels of fun.  Or she reads them books with multiple voices bringing the pages to life.  Or she might pull out pipe cleaners, or glitter, or toilet paper tubes - AND her imagination - which is contagious.  I speak from decades of experience.  She might move more slowly than yesteryear, but with every ounce of love and attention lavished on the mini-ones as always - maybe more. 

I am Granma.  And I think I do a pretty good job of it.  But my mom is Great Granma.  And she is - great and awesome!  Thank you for the lessons!  Thank you for being the best of examples.  I measure whatever success I might achieve against the yardstick of you, Mom.  I love you, Karen Packard - now and always!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kiss Me, I'm Irish!

I'm Irish!  Or at least I think a part of me is Irish.  Basically, my heredity is European, and Ireland is over there somewhere, so I claim it.  Besides, everyone is Irish on St. Patty's Day!  So I stand by my statement:  I'm Irish!

A few years ago, Bryce was staying overnight on St. Patty's Day Eve, a wee bit of a holiday followed by a grand one.  I listened with great interest to his tale when he confided that if you trap a leprechaun, he has to grant you a wish.  I took the bait.

First of all, the miniature magic of Lucky Charms' fame is attracted to silver and gold.  We all kind of knew that, right?  Apparently, though, and I'm getting my info from a very wise grandboy, they aren't interested in U.S coinage.  They want real silver and gold.  I guess I could have risked some of my jewelry for a chance at that wish.  It might have been a really good idea, though I just now thought of it.  Besides, if the sprite took the bait and Bryce took the wish, I would have ended up with an X-box or something, which is not stylish in the least.  Selfish or wise?  Hmmmm  Anyway, I've heard it said that leprechauns are near-sighted, so we improvised.  Admittedly, we were short on the gold, but buttons wrapped in tin foil have an attractive glitter that was sure to attract an imp or two.  We wrapped lots of buttons.

The next step was to devise a trap.  Bryce went to work.  There was a box held up by a stick - kind of the classic catch a rabbit trick.  Again, though, worried about our prey's eyesight, we decided not to take chances.  Bryce trailed post-it notes down the stairs and across the room, ending at the trap.  How's that for a grand welcome!  A trick for the trickster!  Eventually, as all good sleepovers should include, Bryce fell asleep, with visions of green dancing in his head.

When we awoke the next morning, we traveled the same trail of post-its to claim our prize.  And there was a prize, though not a leprechaun or a wish. Instead, the little green elf left us a message.  "Thank you for the silver!  Since you were so generous, I decided to leave you some gifts, too."  Makes me glad in reverse that I didn't leave him real gold and silver!  In addition to the hat and pin Bryce claimed, as seen above, there were green Peeps and Andie's Mints.  Bryce wasn't overly generous with the green sugar, but he's not beyond being guilted...

So Friday is coming, and with it St. Patrick's Day, and my mother's birthday (which might be even more important!).  So dye the river green, speak with an Irish brogue, hide your gold and wrap your buttons in foil!  It's a great day to be Irish!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Heritary Construct

Colin & Corey lending a hand - circa 1993
As a freshman in college, my advisor encouraged me to take a genetics class that I would ultimately need for my major in Sociology.  I guess it made sense to get it out of the way, except that I was missing the pre-requisite (hmmmm).  It was a small college, thankfully, so I got to know each of the other 9 students in the class - all upperclassmen - all pre-med.  Seriously, my advisor should have been shot.  I learned all about the the sex habits of fruit flies, and why calico cats are always female, and blue eyes verses brown.  And I remember these things 30+ years later, which probably says more about the nightmares I endured than my actual interest in genetics.  I squeaked by with the lowest of B's, and have never been more proud of a grade.

Another generation starts with Bryce!
So here's a genetics lesson 101 for you - free of charge.  (You will receive what you paid for...)  Dominate traits include things like dark hair, eyes and skin coloring.  You probably already knew that.  If Mommy and Daddy both posses a dominate trait, like brown eyes, there is a 75% chance that their child will, as well.  However, in my rather "scientific" observation, I have uncovered a lesser known dominate trait that runs in my family.  I call it the handyman gene.

My father, a pastor, would also tinker with cars and construction.  He inherited that from his father, an engineer.  My siblings and I are also carriers of the gene, which is a good thing, since Dad put us to work, helping on his projects.  My husband is also handy with a hammer.  I'll never forget when he volunteered to help a friend shingle his house - the on-site expert.  He came home that night and announce how much fun it was to do something he had never done before.  I was a bit horrified!  But the roof didn't leak - to the best of my knowledge.

Likewise, our sons grew up playing in sawdust and figured out quickly which nail (metal verses finger) to hit with a hammer.  They are willing to tackle most jobs on their own or with an assist from either a parental unit or U-Tube - whichever is more readily available.

Court is currently remodeling his basement, which lead to a proud Granma moment.  When I went over to check on the progress, I found grandboy number one revealing his heretofore hidden genetic ability.  Crowbar and hammer in hand, Bryce showed me how he was prying up tiles from the concrete where they had been affixed for at least a couple of decades.  He gave me a huge smile as he explained his exploits.  At least, he said he was smiling when I took the picture.  He wouldn't lie about that, would he?

So thanks to my ill-advised advisor, I am ready to scientifically state with 75% certainly that Bryce carries the handyman gene!  Here's to another generation!  Happy to see the trait continue!