Grandparents and Parents

Stories and information from two generations.

Monthly Archives: April 2011

You know how life sort of catches up with you. That happened this week.

Hello everyone.

Sorry for not posting for a while, my life has been a little busy.

3 weeks ago my doctor decided to try a new drug to help with the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Well, new to me anyways.

Nothing else he had tried worked and gave weird side effects. So I started getting shots once a week. This week I learned to give them to myself.

This isn’t as good as it sounds, I’m terrified of needles. Since I always managed to not look as the needle went in I was ok with the shots. Now I have to watch the stupid thing go in and next week I will do it at home. Not fun.

I figured why should I go to the clinic where there are sick people sitting breathing all over everything. I would probably get what ever it was they had. So will do it myself at home. Heck what can go wrong, stick myself too deep and have a bruise for a while, or stick myself too shallow, and have the stuff run down my leg. Well I hope that is all that can go wrong.

Got up the day after the shot and went outside after an ice storm and tried to feed the birds. Its April and we have ice, you have to love living in Northern Ontario. Right then the neighbours cat ran out from under the utility trailer, hit my feet and down I went. Knocked myself senseless for a few minutes and could not get back up, so there I sat wondering what to do. My neighbour came home and I managed to get her attention, she got me on my feet and into the house.

Thank heavens for neighbours, since my husband had worked a night shift and was sleeping. He is also deaf, so even if he was awake he wouldn’t know I was hurt and would continue to work at his computer. Remember in Anne of Green Gables when Miss Cordelia kept saying ‘Just like a man’, well that is how I felt that day. Just like a man to not be handy when he is really needed. Oh well I survived it and was stiff the next day, but able to move and do a few things.

Fortunately for me, the shots are working and now I’m knitting for my grandchildren again. I started a month before Christmas making Barbie Doll clothes for my granddaughter. She is 5 and has decided to be a girl again. She didn’t want to be a girl because boys got to play with better toys. Glad she changed her mind because she let her hair grow back after cutting it herself, and she has beautiful hair.

Like I said I started knitting barbie clothes, so my granddaughter has quite a nice wardrobe for her 3 barbies. Her other grandmother bought her a new barbie, and we had sent 2 plus a Ken doll. With so many barbies, I asked her if she needed more outfits. She said not really, unless I really really wanted to make more, in the tone of voice that means they Really, Really want it, but are trying not to be greedy.

I told her I wanted to do it, and she promptly informed me that Barbie”s favourite colour was pink. After making a few more pink things for her birthday in February, I was addicted to knitting little things. And I do mean little. I made panties, socks, hats dresses skirts and tops of all sorts in all different colours and yarns. Little girls can only use so many of these so I have been knitting lots of extras and will donate them to the toy drive next Christmas.

One dress takes a golf ball size ball, now every knitter I know saves me the ends of the yarn once they’re done with their big projects. If I don’t keep up with the knitting I am going to have to move to a bigger house. Luckily for me the site I found the patterns on has lots of different ways to make similar things different or it could get  boring.
If anyone is interested in knitting or crocheting for barbie here is the site.

The reason I mention the knitting I am doing is because it is one way I try to stay in the lives of my grandchildren. Being a long distance grandma is not easy for me. I would much rather have them close enough to bake them cookies and hear their tales every day, or at least every week. But the 2 boys and one girl live 10 hours away, and the little girl you see featured in my  son’s part of the blog is in China. We’re in Northern Ontario Canada.

I see the youngest one on the computer a lot, since each of us have skype. I sing songs to her and talk with her a lot and it helps most of the time. Sometimes though I think it is that much harder than not seeing her, but I would not enjoy not seeing her at least once a week. She now recognizes my voice and it is fun to see her sweet smile as she tries to find me on the computer screen.

My eldest grandson Sean has his own web site. It amazes me the things he does, because he is only 10 and I keep thinking in terms of when his father was 10. He knew how to use computers, but I don’t think making web sites was around or at least as easy as it is now only 25 years later. Technology is wonderful and becoming more so.

My youngest grandson is 4 and into trucks. Well trucks that talk are his favourites right now. One year we bought him a talking dump truck, and last year we got him the talking garbage truck called Stinky. Finding these new toys is kind of an adventure in itself. We live in a small mining town, so have to go to the city for toy shopping. We hit a store and asked if they carried a talking dump truck. No luck with 6 different  stores that time. For Stinky we lucked out at the first one.

Then it was on to finding Barbie stuff. What an assortment they had, but no clothes. That is when I decided to knit them. finding patterns was so hard until I thought of online things and found that great site which has the added benefit of being free. So its a nice hobby, a great present and cheap. What more can you ask for?

The eldest likes to read and enjoys books on mythology. This years Christmas buying has already started at a great used book store. I found an adventure story with mythological figures. I read it and I think he will enjoy it a lot. I hope so anyways, since next week when we go back I will buy a couple more by the same author. Books I understand since my husband and I read constantly and brought up both boys with a love for books. Used to have to kick them out of the house because they would rather read than go play with their friends more often than not.

If anyone has more ideas on how to stay present in the lives of your grandchildren I would love to hear them. As you can read here I love mine and miss staying in touch with them on a regular basis.

What do you do when they come for visits or when you visit with them?

How do you interact with your childrens wives or husbands and not step on toes or feelings?

How do you deal with political correctness when you are around the younger generation?

These are questions we have to face and I will try to answer some of them with my experience which sometimes is not correct.

As I said life sometimes catches up and sometimes passes us but I will try to keep writing here on a regular basis and make some new friends with doing this.

Have a great day and talk with your grandchildren maybe even their parents.


Playing and Bonding With a Baby

In my last post I talked about how Anqi loved playing with a helium balloon.

She played with the balloon for over a week.

Well I was starting to get jealous of all the attention the balloon was getting. I’d be reading to her, dancing with her or tickling her feet and if the balloon was in the room her eyes would inevitably be drawn to it.

Since I’ve spent the last week looking for a new job as my old one is coming to an end soon, I haven’t been able to spend that much time with her. Having her so focused on the balloon was rather discouraging.

It’s not a nice feeling knowing I was getting upstaged by a balloon.

However all of that changed yesterday. I came home from work and I was tired. Instead of taking a well deserved rest Anqi needed some attention, and I hadn’t seen her all day. So I put Anqi on the bed, put the balloon on her foot and laid down beside her to relax.

At this point the balloon had barely enough helium left to float, so when Anqi kicked her feet, it went in some really weird patterns. She loved it.

I joined in occasionally by pulling the string really hard, making it come down to brush against her face. That made her giggle in delight. This was very encouraging as she only started giggling in the last day or two and I’d never heard her do it.

After about 10 minutes of playing like that I stopped and just watched her. But than something interesting happened. Anqi jerked the balloon a few times and then stop to look at me. She just watched me, ignoring the balloon completely.

So I gave her a kiss on the forehead.

She jerked the balloon a few more times and stopped, looking at me again. I kissed her again.

She repeated this pattern for about 2 minutes. I then realized that while the balloon was an extremely fun toy for her, she really wanted me to be there and play with her.

So to all the other daddy’s out there who want to bond with their baby, even if a new toy seems to be upstaging you, don’t get discouraged. Play with your baby on the floor, bed or wherever and join in the fun. They may not be able to say they want you there, but if you give them the chance they’ll let you know. Even if they’re only three months old.

P.S. I will try to get into a regular posting schedule, but I recently found out that come July I’ll be leaving my school. So I’ve been busy trying to find a new job. However I will post at least once a week.

Let’s admit it even if only to ourselves we are getting older.

This in itself is not a bad thing. We do not have to have the busy days we used to while our children were young and we had to chase and watch them and chauffeur them to all the activities we felt they needed to belong in. We can take things slower and relax more with friends our own age and friends who enjoy the slower pace as well.

But oh how we love to see our little ones especially if they live too far away for daily visits. We invite the family for a weekend or longer and then we go into cleaning, shopping, planning mode.

You know the one! we clean out closets and make beds and bake goodies dig out and buy toys that we just know the little ones will absolutely love. We plan a day at the stores, a day at the beach or park, a day or two to do exactly what the little ones want to do.

Grandpa is brought into the mix to make sure the outdoor toys are in working order and to clean the outside furniture so everyone can sit around and relax and the bbq has to be cleaned up and filled so it is ready to do the steaks and chicken and don’t forget hot dogs and burgers.

Everything is in welcome attire except grandpa and grandma.

We are so tired after all the work that we need a day or two to recover so we can enjoy our little ones visit.

Then the family arrives and you get hugs and kisses and think to ourselves what a wonderful time we are going to have. Just one thing complications arise.

The little ones are older and not too interested in the toys of last visits.

The weather is lousy so your days at the beach or outside activities are not going to happen.

You think of the box with the Barbie dolls and clothes that you have been collecting and when you bring them out you find that the little girl who loved Barbie dress up last time no longer wants to play with them.

The  little boy who loved to read has taken up hand held video games which you don’t understand and all he wants to do is play with those.

Your desire to maybe teach them to cook while you make meals is a total washout because all they want to eat is hot dogs or grilled cheese sandwiches.

So you leave them with their parents and grandpa and head to the bathroom to think of a plan B. I say the bathroom because it is a place with no interruptions usually. But with little ones around the door is knocked on with a small voice sounding desperate calling that they need to get in right away. So you leave with out a plan B yet.

Well it isn’t raining yet just kind of cold so you suggest going shopping. Everyone climbs into the cars and off you go. But trying to take adults and children of different ages to shop as a group just does not work. The boys want to look at boy things and get bored looking at girls clothes or toys and the adults keep saying no they wouldn’t play with that and how would they get it packed into the car when the visit is over.

My advice for that situation is parents go off by themselves. They will enjoy the freedom of looking without having children to supervise. Grandpa can take the boys to their idea of a fun store and grandma can take the girls. Just make sure that grandpa and grandma are on the same budget page.

Meet up later at the car and when you are eating at home there is a conversation ready to be explored.

Avoid restaurants they are not a good idea as children tend to order too much or tell you rather loudly that the food is gross. Stick to home meals where nobody can see or hear you. Stock up on kid friendly meals. Pizza, hot dogs, kraft dinner, chicken nuggets, and french fries are usually good choices.

Now you have entertained and fed your visitors and it is time for bed. Remember that fun ritual. I want a drink, I am too hot, I want to read in bed, I want a story, I can’t sleep in the same bed as him, he kicks.

Well it really hasn’t changed that much.

Finally they are asleep and day one is over. You fall into bed and tell each other that it is only another day or two. You fall asleep to dream of the hassle free day tomorrow.

The next day the weather is beautiful so off to the beach. The children use up a lot of energy and are nicely tired when it is over and go to bed nicely just like you dreamed they would and the visit is a huge success. But you are still tired and starting to hurt from all the activity. One more day to go.

The little ones have decided that the old toys and games are fun so they are sort of entertaining themselves while you and the parents pack up the things to get ready to leave. Finally the hour to leave is here and it is trips to the bathroom, lunch and drinks and snacks are in the cooler for the trip home and everyone climbs into the car as you stand on the porch and wave sadly good bye.

You love your children with all your heart and you loved the visit and wouldn’t want to miss it for anything but oh the peace and quiet you hear and feel is such a welcome change from the 2 days of noise confusion and fun you almost feel guilty that you could want to have your house to yourself again.

Don’t!!! It is normal to feel that way. As I said we are all getting older and just don’t have the energy to keep up with little ones 24/7 for an extended time.

Enjoy the visits but also enjoy your time with the slower pace. You will enjoy the visits that much more when they do happen.

Write your grandchildren to keep in touch and call them often but don’t think you have to enjoy every minute you are around them. It is a grand parent thing to feel badly when you can’t keep up but it is a human thing to admit to yourself that you are older and just don’t have the energy.

Stay at Home Parents and Babies

Working as an English teacher in China lets me spend a lot of time at home with my daughter, Anqi, which is really nice for helping me bond with her. Unfortunately, as a part time writer I’m often busy trying to write an article while my daughter is awake and wants to play, and my wife is not available.

In an attempt to balance being a father and writer I’ve tried to come up with different things to keep Anqi happy and distracted while I work. At three months old this can be difficult as she doesn’t pick anything up and will drop baby toys after a few seconds or minutes. Fortunately I have found a  solution.


WEntertaining baby

A colourful balloon, loosely tied to a baby's foot will keep her entertained for hours.

My wife and I bought Anqi two colourful balloons earlier this week and when she’s awake we simply put one of them around her ankle. She will give a powerful kick to watch it move and smile as it bounces. Since the balloon moves in different ways and will move if there is a light breeze its fascinating  for the baby to watch.

This improvised baby toy will keep Anqi playing by herself for several hours, working out her legs and even her arms as she tries to get the balloon moving in different ways. My wife and I can then get some work done, in the same room, in peace and quiet. Once we’re done working we can sit down beside her and give the balloon a big tug, which invariably brings a smile to Anqi’s face.

Helium balloons are best as there is almost no chance it will become a choking hazard, as it floats in the air the baby can’t reach it. A regular air filled balloon could fall on the baby’s face and she could possibly swallow the string, or pop the balloon. But it is still important to be in the same room when a balloon is being played with, as things could go wrong.

Once Anqi starts grabbing things and moving around more, we’ll have to be more careful with the balloon as she could wrap the string around her neck or pop it by grabbing it. But for now its an awesome baby toy for her and a time saver for us.

Free Children Stories

There is a new page available at the top of the screen featuring children stories.
These stories were written by Grandma for her grandkids and they’re pretty good. So feel free to read them and let her know what you think.

There will be one story put up every week for the foreseeable future, so make sure to check back every Friday or Saturday.


Dan and Grandma

Being a Grandma

I am not knocking being a parent because it is wonderful to watch your child grow into a person you admire and love, but being a grandma or grandpa is lots more fun.

You get to do the fun stuff while as a parent you have to discipline and make a lot of rules that have to be followed. These are good things so that when your grandchild comes for a visit they behave well. But as grandpa and grandma you can bend the rules since you may not see your grandchildren often during the year.

Grandpa being Grandpa

You don’t have to make them eat their vegetables every meal, and bed time is when you get tired not exactly the same time as the parents have to stick to.  You also get to buy the toys the child wants because you don’t have to budget for new clothes and school supplies the way a parent must.

grandma does not have to make them eat vegetables

You get to teach them things that parents might not think of. You get to let them teach you things like re-learning that watching ants walk across the sidewalk is interesting. Or watching birds fly across the sky and being stopped because the wind is blowing so hard. Or even talking to a stranger the way a small child will. We need to re-learn these things because as adults we tend to forget.

The fun you can have with children when they let you play with their leggos. You might even remember some of the things you built with those colourful blocks. You built forts and farms and sometimes cars but the things you can build now like working robots and cars and space ships. Let imagination run away with you and your little ones.

Little girls still like Barbie dolls so you can spend some time in between visits making outfits for the dolls. Keep a box with things that children like so even a rainy day is not a boring day for you or the children.

Books from your childhood come in handy to read from or to teach reading enjoyment. It is fun to see children who are so used to computers, bikes and gadgets to play with find the stories of children born long before the time of malls and cars find things to do to have fun.

The thing about being a grandma is that you get to be silly or childish and that is the most fun of all.

Fill an empty dish soap bottle for everyone and have a water fight on a hot day.  Pack a picnic lunch and take it to the park or even out into the back yard.

Just keep in mind it is the time you spend with your grandchildren that create the best memories that they will carry with them between visits and into their adult lives. Make the most of it.

It’s Not Easy Being a Father

As the first official blog entry I would like to talk about how my daughter at 3 months old is really a mischievous little girl.

Smiling baby girl

This happy baby is actually a notorious practical joker.

The other night I was reading in bed while my wife slept,  Anqi (Chinese for Angel) was sleeping in her crib beside us. She is usually a very good sleeper and only wakes up for emergencies or little night scares, so when she wakes up its almost always a surprise.

She had been sleeping silently since about 9pm, she wasn’t even snoring she was so peaceful.

All of a sudden she let out a squeal as if in pain. I jumped out of bed, dropping my book and looked down to see what was wrong.

There was Anqi looking at me with a big smile on her face and her eyes lit up. She even managed a gurgle of delight when she saw my face.

I looked down at her and said, “Anqi are you tricking me?”

Her toothless grin grew larger.

My wife who had woken up asked what was wrong. When I explained to her that our sweet and innocent little girl had played a nasty prank on her concerned father, do you think I got any sympathy?

No. She started laughing along with Anqi.

It’s not easy being a father sometimes.