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Posts Tagged ‘Grandparenting’

While some were on royal baby watch duty this past weekend, I was on the lookout for high fashion at the Met Gala. Remember last year when it was all churchy? Well, the theme this year was “Camp!” In other words, anything goes. Camp is defined as:

“…something that provides sophisticated, knowing amusement, as by virtue of its being artlessly mannered or stylized, self-consciously artificial and extravagant, or teasingly ingenuous and sentimental.
a person who adopts a teasing, theatrical manner, especially for the amusement of others.”

Since Celine Dion is not a native American speaker of our lovely English language, she thought “camp” meant to bring your sleeping bag and maybe create something with mosquito netting? But the Canadian songbird ended up with a feather fiesta on her head accented with long strings falling off her pencil-thin arms. Those 3,000 floor-length strands reminded some of spaghetti drying on a rack!

If I were to create my own “campy” look I’d have to borrow something from Camp St Joseph for Girls. My spin on “khaki shorts and white polo shirts” would look like a layer cake with 40 shades of beige. Topped off with pink pig tails naturally, enhanced freckles, and Keds – just white Keds and socks of course. I’d be sure to carry Bain de Soleil in my evening bag.

The Love Bug went to her very first sleepover birthday party on Friday after actually camping in the woods the weekend before. She seems to have inherited my theatrical nature because A – she didn’t actually sleep, and B – she wore a crystal necklace while politely informing her brother he wouldn’t see her again… (long pause) until the next day! Since the L’il Pumpkin has virtually never known a day without his big sister, this was distressing.

It did, however, amuse the adults in the room! “Dahling, I’ll miss you when I’m gone.”

In other big news over the weekend, we installed the fairy house in our garden to much acclaim. We served honey tea in miniature cups and held hands while we prayed for the tiny creatures who might take up residence. Great Grandma Ada provided more plants and the Love Bug created a small worm house nearby since we do seem to have an abundance of worms.

What does one wear to a Fun Fairy party? Well the campier the better! The Bride came from work in scrubs, the Groom put on his band tee after presiding in the MICU, Ms Bean was in her birthday fur suit, and the Great Grands? Well, they are always red carpet ready!

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This week Ms Berdelle was rounding up the neighborhood so we could all tie ourselves to the cherry trees on the Cumberland River bank. But that’s another story

Cherry trees are exploding all over Nashville. There is new growth on every block; tulips coming while daffodils are going, backed by an orchestra of bird song. I can’t help but smile as I walk Ms Bean and wonder if passers-by are also euphoric over Spring, or are they just self/or/doctor/medicated? Passover and Easter are right around the corner and we are in the midst of starting over in our new home, the #PartyFarmhouse.

Like Chip and Joanna of HGTV fame, I’ve christened our urban oasis with its very own name – the Party Farmhouse is a simple, white shingle-style abode with black trim – built in the 1930s, the small side garden holds a gas fire pit and is adorned with party lights! Emptying the Pod yesterday was like Christmas morning; the Flapper’s Buddha, the French cupboard, old paintings and my ancient desk. In the midst of it all, I’d almost forgotten my hair stylist’s appointment.

There is nothing like a new do to make you feel alive and reborn, so of course I made a point of showing up because I love Chase! We always have the best conversations, and yesterday he told me that his dearly departed grandmother shared my name and my original hair color! We talked about one of his relatives who doesn’t believe in vaccinations, and I told him how I was lined up at Sacred Heart School to road test one of the very first polio vaccines. In my day, we still saw children who had been afflicted with polio in wheelchairs with wasted limbs.

Which is why I cannot abide by parents who are “anti-vaxxers.” I told Chase about the research I did on language acquisition in college at the Hartford School for the Deaf. Most of those beautiful pre-schoolers had been born to mothers who had contracted German measles during their pregnancy, also known as Rubella. There was no choice for these parents, not in the 1970s. The MMR vaccine today prevents Rubella and regular measles, aka Rubeola. Now thanks to certain communities in the US and all over Europe as well, measles is making a comeback.

“Italy and France have extended existing requirements (for school admission) with fines and restricted school attendance. And Germany is currently discussing making measles vaccine mandatory.

In New York’s Rockland County, unvaccinated children have been banned from public places for 30 days. But it is difficult to see how this could be effectively enforced and there is little evidence that mandatory vaccination is always the best approach.”   https://www.bbc.com/news/health-47800438

Whether you believe basically sentencing an unvaccinated child to house arrest for a month is constitutional, or not, this is a fine line for public health officials to cross. Most outbreaks have occurred in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities thereby fueling anti-Semitic sentiments. But combined with Christian-Right homeschoolers, many children can no longer rely on herd immunity. A community needs a rate of 95% compliance in order to benefit from herd immunity.

My biological Father was a pharmacist who believed you could contract all these communicable diseases in a hospital, when in fact the measles virus floats around in the air droplets of an infected person and on surrounding surfaces for hours. It’s highly contagious and not worth risking a child’s life over unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, no matter what religion one subscribes to.

Well, it’s back to unpacking boxes for me. Ms Berdelle’s plan almost worked, since the cherry trees were not chopped down and now have another chance at life! Let’s hope most of the trees the city of Nashville transplanted to accommodate the NFL draft (and our massive voter petition) continue to bloom! We pick up the Grands today after school and just might be installing a fairy house!

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Oh Happy Spring! The sun is out, the daffodils are smiling, and the Love Bug is on Spring Break. It’s a rare opportunity for me to have some alone time with my granddaughter – usually her adorable and exuberant little brother is tagging along, or a parent or two. But lucky me, this week we had a day to ourselves to design dream catchers, share crepes for lunch, and skip to the Farmer’s Market for salted peanut butter ice cream with chocolate flakes.

But the absolute best time is when we get to talk in the car. There is no one else to control the radio in the front seat, or play imaginary games in the back seat. So I opened up the sunroof and blasted Bach on our sound system! If you go to the Google Doodle today, you’ll see why Bach is all over classical stations – it’s his 334th birthday! You’ll also be able to interact with an AI composer… which is awesome btw! https://www.classicfm.com/composers/bach/birthday-google-doodle-ai-game/

The Baroque composer played and worked for princes and churches. His stunning harmonies never fail to move me, and in particular I could listen to the Brandenburg Concertos forever. Bach was a master of  something called “….counterpoint, (this) is the way notes move alongside each other in harmony. Bach is particularly famous for the complexity of his counterpoint, often creating incredibly intricate harmonies beneath simple chorale melodies – with beautiful results to the listeners.”

Back to the present, there we were, on the first day of Spring, with the sun shining through the roof of my car when Ms Bug asked me if Bach was deaf? And honestly I didn’t know, I mean wasn’t Beethoven deaf? I turned down the music as she told me the story of a composer who was conducting his orchestra with his eyes closed so he didn’t see that the musicians had stopped, and he was deaf so he couldn’t hear either.

Someone had to gently turn him around to the audience so he could see them clapping.

Granted her school has an awesome music program, where the arts are thoroughly integrated into every grade’s curriculum, not treated as an after-school-after-thought.  But I was still amazed as we discussed what a deficit like that might have done to a musician. My almost 7 year old granddaughter has a mind that rarely slows down, and a gift for compassion. Suddenly I asked her which she would rather – “Would you rather be deaf or blind?”

I know it’s a hard question at any age. I’ve witnessed what deafness has done to Great Grandpa Hudson, I’ve lost some of my own vision over the years and still it’s a question I’d rather not even ponder, but for some strange reason I asked it. Making sense of this world can be challenging; and here she was on the brink of the Age of Reason. Plus, I loved hearing the Love Bug think out loud.

She said immediately, “I’d rather be blind.”

Of course there’s no right answer. It’s like asking “Which super power would you have if you were a super hero?” It’s fantastical, theoretical, and absurd. A Sophie’s Choice in a Willy Wonka world. But the Bug would miss her mother’s voice, her father singing her to sleep, the sounds of spring.

And I thought to myself, would I miss reading the news, the news junkie that I used to be when I was a reporter. Could I adapt to audible books? Would I miss seeing the sun rise and fall? Would I still take pleasure in cooking if I didn’t see what I was doing, if I could only smell and taste a dish? Would it even be safe to make ravioli? Maybe, because I could play Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and Chopin’s violin concertos, and I would be able to revel in the Rocker’s compositions.

Later on with Pop Bob, we stood in the middle of the enormous bell towers at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall when the hour struck, and all around us we heard the dulcet tones of the TN Waltz. Bob asked me to dance, and the Bug smiled.

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This weekend we had our very first double sleepover. We picked up both Grandkids around lunchtime Saturday and returned them to their grateful parents on Sunday. Bob warned me not to get my hopes up, four year olds may meltdown at bedtime and need to go home in his PJs. I however, would have none of that thinking, we were going to have so much fun, my L’il Pumpkin would forget where he was and sleep like an angel. Which, spoiler alert, they both did!

When we arrived at our townhouse it was cold and drizzly with an Amazon box on the front porch. I’d been collecting beads and jewelry making tools for the Love Bug for awhile now, and had recently found a cute craft box for her. She is very much like my daughter, her Mama; type A, hyper-organized, in love with the Container Store. I knew she’d love her craft box, but I needed something for her brother.

Thank goodness for two day delivery service. I ordered a small tackle box and a bunch of kid-sized real tools for the L’il Pumpkin. I had a plan but forgot to tell Bob about it, luckily he pitched right in – explaining each tool, then trudging up the steps together, they began “fixing” things, including the squeaky daybed he and his sister would be sleeping on that night!

I know – raising gender neutral kids is new to me, though I did help the Pumpkin make a Black Panther necklace!

Then we went out for a trek in Ms Berdelle’s Secret Garden. We searched in the misty rain for Tinkerbell trim – small, delightful pieces of nature to design and  construct a fairy house: pine cones, bark, leaves, dead flowers, berries, stones, snail shells. Anything glorious and small would do. I didn’t dig up moss for a thatched roof because Bob said it’s still living and we’re not arguing anymore over little things like that.

Every summer at Camp St Joseph for Girls I loved hiking through the woods and coming upon a fairy circle; a large, round patch of sumptuous moss surrounded by ferns in the dappled sunlight. I’m sure my love of mystery and magic began there in the Catskill Mountains many years ago.

When we returned home I started cooking dinner for four again! Mrs Zimmerman’s shallot chicken, mashed potatoes (little clouds), and broccoli (little tress). At Nana and Pop Bob’s house they can watch TV while I’m cooking and eat as little or as much as they want. It warmed my heart to see how much these two love butter! We followed that up with popsicles because we’re saving popsicle sticks for the fairy house. Then we played a good game of Alphabet Fish and the Li’il Pumpkin won!

After pulling out the trundle bed, we read my Editor Lisa Winkler’s book about a girl named Zimmerman, “Amanda at Bat” https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-at-Bat-Lisa-Winkler/dp/1533240094  It is a wonderful story about speaking up and making sure your voice is heard. And their eyes were starting to droop by the end of “Escargot,” while the Frozen night light sent its bat signal onto the ceiling of our 2nd bedroom. Good Night Room.

Long story semi-short, we all slept like babies and Bob made blueberry pancakes in the morning. Then we high-tailed it off to Great Grandma Ada and Hudson’s apartment to build our fairy house. Bob and I had made an executive decision to skip Hebrew School, sorry cousin Nancy! We’ve made a brave start jockeying a glue gun like nobody’s business, and we’re relying on Hudson to carve a tiny crooked fairy door. We have a very special tree stump in mind… then the Bride arrived to pick them up.

I was going to write about orchid and dandelion children. How one needs special care and an exquisite environment, while the other will flourish no matter where they find themselves. That’s the program I was listening to on NPR when I sat down to write, an old rehash of nature vs nurture. My Love Bug was definitely a wild orchid baby, the kind who would wake at the sound of a pin dropping, while her brother could sleep through a smoke alarm.

And I realized that I was a mixture of the two, a child who was smothered by my foster mother Nell, and never allowed to have a sleepover, yet my St Joseph camp mates could never wake me when it was time to head out into the night looking for trouble. But don’t worry, I found my own trouble eventually!

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The Prosecution of Paul Manafort rests, and I’ve heard that Judge Ellis III doesn’t just swing a gavel, he swings a battering ram with nails. Soon enough a jury of his “peers” will decide if this friend and former campaign manager of Mr T deserves a jail sentence for tax fraud. Oh how I wish I was at the beach last week with the Groom’s family since his father just retired from a government career holding such people accountable… Grandpa Mike might have been able to shed some light on the world of financial crime.

A world full of greed, lies and manipulation as another tax attorney described it. So, as an antidote to the escalating breaking news of the day, I offer you my two cents:

Instead of greed, altruism. I spent a good part of yesterday with The Love Bug, and on our morning Ms Bean walk she happened to find some pennies. In a few weeks she will turn 6, and so she is starting to learn about money. Later, in the car with her Mama, she asked me to look for homeless people so we could give them some money! That was the sweet news, but unfortunately in Nashville, we have our fair share of homeless.

Instead of lies, truth. Differentiating between lying and truth-telling begins at about this age, which is why the Catholic Church chose 7 as the age for Communion. But some people never quite get it, they conflate and exaggerate the truth, or ignore it altogether. Our L’il Pumpkin is almost 4 and loves super heroes, so whenever I play Wonder Woman to his Batman I throw my invisible lasso of truth around the bad guys (usually a big stuffed bear). I believe in brutal honesty, and so does that bear!

Instead of manipulation, role-modeling. If you want someone to change their behavior, particularly a child, bribery does help but modeling the behavior you desire works best. I would always bring soup to new moms when the Bride was little, and I was happy to see she has continued this tiny tradition with her friends. Whenever I watch the Love Bug pick tomatoes from their garden, I think back to the Berkshires and the short growing season our tomatoes endured – the love of garden “candy,” of eating healthy, real food is being passed down to the next generation.

I could care less what Omorosa has to say, but I DO care that Mr T called her a “dog” this morning in a Tweet. Do you remember when a radio personality lost his job for calling the hair of the Rutgers women’s basketball team “kinky?” Can the racist, misogynistic hate please stop! It seems like our level of discourse may never recover from this presidency.

But for a final bit of good news, did you know there’s a large group of “Grannies” who have made their way to the Texas/Mexico border to protest the separation of families? They boarded two big vans in NY and picked up almost 2,000 more seniors heading south!

Like most others on board, Ms Mellen’s motivation for joining – a belief in the “designed, intentional cruelty” of the administration’s immigration policies – was deepened by maternal experience.

“Being a mother and a grandmother I know the incredible connection I feel toward my children and my grandbabies, and you put their faces on these children,” Ms. Mellen said.

“I can’t imagine the pain.” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45174891

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Great Grandma Ada told me the other day that she has the next title for my book, only she couldn’t remember it. It was something like “How to be Happy While Grandparenting,” or “Ten Rules for Happy Grandparenting.”

It had come to her in a dream and of course she didn’t write it down. But she loves it when her Great Grands stop by, and she is always telling me I should write a book! So I thought I’d do a quick synopsis in this post.

First of all – Never (or almost never) follow your children’s rules. This might be easier if your adult child happens to be the Mama/Bride since you raised her, so she knows full well what you are capable of – like showing up out of the blue at a sleepover.

Encourage creativity – For instance, the Love Bug and I spent the morning in a secret garden discovering over 30 species of lilies and getting bit by a thousand mosquitoes.

Switch Things Up – Sometimes we have a “Dessert First Lunch!” We’ve had ice cream first and celebration cheesecake with sprinkles. It’s best not to do this too often because then it’s no longer special.

In that same vein, we LOVE breakfast for dinner!

Talk about diversity – “Pumpkin, you are my cuddle bunny!” And he replies, “No, Nana I’m not white!.” To which I say, “But bunnies can be white or brown, or black and white…” Then he says, “Like Dalmatians?!”

Go to the movies! I spent many years skipping school and taking the Rocker to the movies and now he’s working in the film industry! Every Jersey Girl knows if it looks like rain. hit up your local multi-plex.

I want to be the “Gateaux Maman” as the French say, the Grandmama of Cake – the sweetest, silliest, happiest nana in their universe. So when I am with my Grands, the world is a happy place. Nothing could be finer. We have Pippy Longstocking and Holly Golightly FUN!

Today we had crepes for lunch. Tomorrow, the Love Bug will tell me about her first day at Robotics Camp. And I will ask if she wants to color her hair purple? Or maybe it’s time to pierce her ears? With two parents who are doctors, I must do what I can!

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I promise I’ll get to Roseanne.

Lately, I’ve been telling myself we’re getting back to normal. Ms Bean is back to daylight savings time (our evening shift emergency vet tech pet sitter had her gleefully staying up all night). Now our senior dog is back to playing with her neighbor in the spotty sunshine, a delightful Lab-mix named Hodor, in the Quad.

Bob and I are heading back to the gym, reacquainting our muscles with some resistance and weights. Everyone in Nashville is complaining about Summer having appeared too soon – but we experienced two Springs, in TN and NJ, so we’re not feeling cheated. Oh, and my hubby has started flying a small plane again and picking up garbage.

You know about the once a year historic neighborhood Spring Cleanathon, but did you know that every month Bob joins a bunch of his fellow neat freaks with a bag and a grabber as they canvass our streets picking up trash? He’s made a few friends and they always end their excursion with free pizza at a local sports bar!

Did you know the author David Sedaris can spend up to eight hours a day picking up trash on the roads of his neighborhood in the English countryside? Last night I was left blissfully alone while Bob attended a monthly private pilot’s meeting, so I tried to multi-task – meaning I was reading a book AND listening to the radio/Sonos. Eventually, Terry Gross’ interview with Sedaris won out. The humorist talked about picking up garbage as an antidote to his OCD, and what he prefers to write about…

Instead, Sedaris prefers to write about “bad behavior” — both his own and others’. “Is it my fault that the good times turn to nothing while the bad burns forever bright?” he asks. http://wboi.org/post/forget-good-times-david-sedaris-far-more-interested-bad-behavior#stream/0

This morning, in my “damage report” over coffee, Bob told me we may have finally turned a corner as a country. He was referring to Roseanne’s Twitter feed and CBS’ swift response; she apologized for her “joke,” but like bad behavior this little mix of words may just follow her to her grave, and beyond.

It’s as if we’ve been adrift in a hurricane of political dirty tricks, with a president alone at the helm of his amoral leadership. He is a prevaricator, zigging and zagging around our allies and our enemies. Nikki Haley considers his unpredictable outbursts as leverage at the UN. But really, could Roseanne be the straw that saves our republic? Even Fox news is condemning her Twitter talk.

America just may have had enough of this new Mr T normal – this anti-intellectual, crude, narcissistic, bigoted free-for-all.  I couldn’t watch his speech last night in Nashville, we call BS. There is no place in our city for your childish outbursts.

But we did find a splash park for the Grands with ALL the Grands on hand. And that was nothing like normal, it was fabulous!

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