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Posts Tagged ‘Grandparenting’

The Bride and the Original Groom are trying to decide if the Love Bug should start Kindergarten early. On the one hand she IS ready, but on the other hand she would be among the youngest in her class. With her summer birthday she is just two weeks shy of the deadline for turning five. Oh, and she would be the tallest.

Right before our four year old Bug was scheduled to stroll across the lawn throwing flowers this month at Uncle Dave and Aunt KiKi’s wedding, my daughter was having second thoughts. Maybe this is too much, she might suffer from performance anxiety. She might refuse to walk, or stop mid-stream and run away, or maybe just collapse in a puddle of tears. These things have been known to happen. Like me, my daughter likes to examine every scenario before plunging into deep water.

Probably she was remembering her own walk down an apple orchard hill to her Groom. Her flower girl at the time, three year old cousin V, was so immersed in her task, it took her quite awhile to find the Officiant, her Grandpa Hudson. V was steadfast in her circuitous route, and eventually placed flowers on Hudson’s feet! It was a magical beginning. So spontaneously, the Bride asked our little flower girl if she wanted her to walk alongside her as she was throwing her petals.

“No Mom, I’ve got this!” the Love Bug said. And she pushed her little hand out, palm up in the universal sign of “Talk to the Hand.”

And I thought of my four year old Bride, who always stood with her hands on her hips. The leader of her pre-school pack, a determined future collector of bottle caps on the schoolyard playground, and later, much later a healer of any and all people, young and old, rich and poor.

Our little flower girl did an outstanding job!

When educators evaluate a child’s readiness for school, their ability to listen and take direction, to be attentive, is rather low on today’s list. In fact, it’s rated #9 of the “Ten Kindergarten Readiness Skills Your Child Needs:” right after #8 “Reading Readiness,” and #7 “Cutting,” aka playing with scissors.

# 9 Attention and Following Directions
Read lots of stories with your child and work up to reading longer chapter books, one chapter each night or as long as she remains interested and focused.
Give your child two and three step directions. For example: “put on your pajamas, brush your teeth and pick a book to read.”
Play Simon Says with two or three step directions. For example: “Simon Says jump up and down and shout hooray.”
 https://www.education.com/magazine/article/kindergarten-readiness-secrets/ 

But I wonder if maybe we should be evaluating the parents’ readiness to part with their child for Kindergarten. Some parents never do, and home-school their children. Some parents wait a year, until their child is six or even seven to start Kindergarten, particularly for their sons. As Malcolm Gladwell has pointed out in his book “Blink,” this gives a boy the decided advantage in sports. He will be among the biggest, and strongest of his team members. The advantage to waiting for a girl is not so clear.

Will the Bug become a world-class volleyball player? She loves gymnastics, and enjoyed ballet lessons. I remember dancing with the young Bride every year in the Nutcracker with the Berkshire Ballet. Traipsing out to Becket, MA with her for Friends of Jacob’s Pillow meetings. Wanting her to love dance the way that I loved movement of every kind. But one day she came to me and said, “I can’t take any more ballet lessons.” She had too much homework, and she was riding horses at a stable near our home. She was almost afraid to tell me since she knew how much dance meant to me, and she also knew this would not be her passion.

Parents cannot see into the future, we can only take our best guess when we make life-altering decisions. In hindsight, I wish I had held the Rocker back a year for Kindergarten, until he was six, but then would he have become such a talented musician? Would his life have taken a different path? At times like these it’s best to turn to your heart and read poetry, like Khalil Gibran:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

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Don’t you just love it when scientists prove some theory you’ve held your whole life, contradicting years of previous recommendations? Bob’s reaction yesterday to the news about peanut allergies was mixed, but mostly he was annoyed. Here is the gist of yesterday’s news from pediatricians:

“The new guidelines say most babies can try a little peanut paste or powder — never whole peanuts — at home. High-risk infants are defined as those with severe eczema or an egg allergy. … “That’s a whole generation of children who never have to develop this allergy.”

The Love Bug still has to bring only a sunflower butter and jelly sandwich to her preschool. This news is too late for her little classmate who couldn’t eat one of her cupcakes on her birthday. I felt so sorry for that little girl, who knew Publix made their cupcakes in a factory with peanuts? I truly believe labeling is disabling. When we learned that the Bride has a severe allergy to cats, we just tried to screen which house was suitable for a playdate.

But this new study makes perfect sense. Introduce peanuts early, like mixing some powder into baby’s yogurt around four months of age, and your offspring will gradually build their immune system. It makes sense, if having a dog in your house (ostensibly bringing more dirt and germs inside) helps build a child’s immune system, why shouldn’t this work? When I kept getting poison ivy as a child, I eventually landed in a doctor’s office getting shots with guess what? Small doses of the poison ivy compound to build my own natural immunity!

Bob was naturally smug yesterday. He didn’t actually say, “I told you so,” but you could see it around his eyes. He is partial to free-range parenting. If it fell on the floor, the 5 second rule applies. The baby finds an old piece of quesadilla behind the Christmas tree while you’re dismantling it, sure go-ahead and take a bite! What’s a little dirt? Bob has felt this way his entire life, whereas I am a hand-washing maniac. The Bride’s style takes after her Dad, the Rocker leans more toward hand sanitizers. And strangely enough, my son is just fine with cats!

“Childhood peanut allergies in the U.S. have increased dramatically over the last decade: In 1997, 0.4 percent of children reported an allergy to peanuts, and by 2008 that number was 1.4 percent, or more than 3 million people.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/guidelines-babies-peanut-allergies_us_586eab12e4b099cdb0fc3947

While in Nashville, serving apple slices dipped into peanut butter, I downloaded a little learning App on my Ipad. PopBob was trying it out with the Baby Boy, who is now a hefty two year old who eats just about anything. I could hear Bob complaining about computer programmers who don’t think like a child; I also heard them laughing and bonding. After that, we went out on a walk to collect pine cones, and rocks and bottle caps. So go ahead people, kick off your shoes, get outside and play in the dirt this year. And don’t forget to pack a PB and J!

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Last night, instead of watching the Republican Convention wrap up, Bob was working a shift for our dear friend and his colleague, Harvey. They have known each other for many years. Bob was an attending in the Berkshires when Harvey trained in Emergency Medicine, back at BMC when residents had to wear jackets and ties. And after we moved back to NJ to be closer to family, so did he and his wife Vicki. Bob ran the department at Riverview Hospital, and Harv worked at Community Medical Center in Toms River. A Philly guy, his family had a summer home in Seaside.

The funny thing is, they moved further south when their children began attending VA colleges. And before you knew it, Harvey was the Assistant Director in Bob’s ER.

In yet another example of this one degree of separation, Harvey’s daughter graduated from medical school and decided to follow in her Dad’s footsteps. Ashley is currently an EM resident at UVA Medical Center…and last night she delivered a grand daughter to our friends! Brighton Grace is 7lbs 6oz and doing well along with the whole family.

Congratulations Harvey and Vicki, your heart will expand every day from now on. Your lungs will exhale love with every breath. Your arms will ache to hold her whenever she comes into view. Get used to it. This job of grandparenting is the easiest one in the books. Discipline isn’t our job, spoiling and loving unconditionally is; be prepared to redesign your home. You will want it to be a grandparent magnet, drawing this little one and those who will follow, closer and closer.

You will create a Frozen bedroom – or whatever the pop icon of 3 year olds will be in 2019

You will stockpile her favorite Mac n Cheese

You will put baby locks on your cabinets and gates on your stairs

You will purchase infant car seats; and look at Craig’s List for cribs

You will tell your daughter that nobody ever dies from lack of sleep

You will tell your son-in-law to try a ride in the car with loud rock music

You will be there when she first puts her toes in Jersey sand

You will be there when she can’t talk to her parents anymore

When a child is born, so is a grandparent. Many many mazels from us to you Vicki and Harvey. Cousin Anita gave me a picture frame that sits above the kitchen sink when the Love Bug was born, it made me actually print a picture off the computer. And if you need a high chair, Anita says you can have the one I borrowed!

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While eating a burger at Bob’s flying club last week, I happened to meet a young entrepreneur. Eric Walden was all decked out in a uniform, with wings on his shoulder and his cap. Then much to my surprise, I saw him again last night on the late night local news. The anchors’ hook was something like:

“Have you ever wanted to fly like the rich and famous?”

For the vast majority of people, commercial flights are the only option, but Albemarle County pilot Eric Walden is hoping to change that by making private flights an option for people who aren’t among the richest in the world.

“There’s a whole lot of other people that have the need and the desire to travel privately, but a lot of them don’t know that it’s available,” said Walden.       http://www.newsplex.com/content/news/New-Charter-Flight-Company-379228591.html?

With expectations high for more airport delays and missed connections this summer, I’d say he started the right business at the right time. Walden owns a turbo-prop Daher TBM 850 that can carry up to five passengers. He can fly higher and faster than Bob’s Piper Arrow, and if say five people wanted to split a ride to Nantucket, the price compares favorably with commercial tickets – AND there is no time lost waiting in TSA lines!

Walden has been flying for 25 years and comes from a long line of aviators; his great-grandfather first flew a monoplane in 1909. The name of his charter flight company is Little Hawk Logistics.

And speaking of birds, I’ve had a bluebird battering my windows lately. He, or she, is staying at the back of the house for the most part, on the first floor. One day I was using Bob’s computer to do some book editing, and between the bluebird knocking and the generator recycling itself, I could barely think! In researching this problem, it seems it is male birds fighting off their reflective rival, and once a female is attracted and a nest secured the window battering should stop. Unless it’s a cardinal?!

Here are some ways to prevent this behavior:

  • Decals or paper shapes placed inside or outside the window
  • Strips of tape, plastic or paper arranged in an irregular pattern
  • Soaping the outside of the windows either fully or in a pattern
  • Placing non-reflective screen outside the window 2-3 inches from the glass
  • Adding one-way transparent film or opaque plastic to windows
  • Repositioning an outdoor plant or flower basket to block the window view
  • Closing outside shades or blinds if possible

It’s another rainy day on the Blue Ridge. In fact the headline before the story on Little Hawk Logistics was, “Rain Fifteen out of Last Seventeen Days!” I guess I am not alone in feeling like mildew is spreading at my feet and rust is clogging up my joints.

So let’s dream for a moment about the sunny future of aviation this weekend. If you’re anything like my hubby, you will love this story out of Germany. It seems they are developing the Lilium Jet, a small helicopter-like plane for private use – think The Fifth Element! It will be to aviation what the Tesla is to the auto industry.

“The company’s aircraft concept promises flight without the flight infrastructure. It will require an open space of just 225 square metres — about the size of a typical back garden — to take off and land. The Lilium Jet can cruise as far as 500km (310mi) at a very brisk 400kph (248mph), and reach an altitude of 3km (9,900ft). And it recharges overnight from a standard household outlet.” http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20160512-the-flying-machine-in-your-back-garden

Here is the Love Bug preparing to go over her Checklist for departure to CHO!

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When your birth father dies before your first birthday, and your mother is 40 years old that year, the Year of Living Dangerously, and then your adopted mother is ten years older that that, you end up without a grandfather. Well I learned many things due to the circumstances of my birth in a PA coal town. My Nana gave me a certain self-confidence that was sorely needed when we’d visit her on occasion. But I never had a Grandfather; and my children, I was afraid, would follow suit.

Bob’s parents were divorced, and his father basically skipped out on our little family. But Grandma Ada found it in her heart to marry again, when the Bride was two years old. Hudson was a “younger” man, and he lived in Poughkeepsie, so we called him the Poughkeepsie Gypsy, until he packed up his wood carving tools and his pastoral counseling degree along with his African missionary artifacts and moved to NJ. He instantly became the de facto grandfather I’d never had and our kids adored him.

He would drive them around in his truck; he would film their every move with one of the first hand-held, shoulder-mounted video cameras in America; he would cook them breakfast; he would show them how to plant a seed; he would swim with them in the pool and show them how to make a hot tub out of an old bathtub; and of course, he’d teach them how to whittle. To name certain trees, to catch crabs, to fish…

Little did I know Great Grandpa Hudson would eventually send me his official Baptist pastor degree, so he could marry the Bride and Groom on Carter Mountain. Or that their red-headed baby boy would carry on his name.

Bob is doing his best to carry on his step-father’s amazing grandfathering duties when we see our babies. From the WWII sailor who was called “Red” by his shipmates, Bob has learned to slow down time, to feed birds, and turtles. To dry tears. To name bugs and touch them, to teach the Love Bug how to swim. Luckily for me, Bob never picked up the habit of enjoying a good cigar, while patching a roof in the sun. To keep the mosquitoes at bay!

So Happiest of Birthdays Hudson! You’re turning 90 this weekend and friends and family are coming together from near and far to celebrate your extraordinary life. I’m sure Great Grandma Ada will sing your praises, you’ve been her rock through some very hard times. You’ve been her traveling companion for many years, her woodcarver. Her faithful, second-chance, side-kick on the carousel of life. Your marriage was the model many of your patients aspired to have; and still is a beacon of how love works.

I simply want to thank you for being the best Grandpa Hudson to our family. The family you chose, but really, we choose you! And always will. J&M  0596

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It’s been a whirlwind week. On Thursday, we cooked up a storm of scrumptious sides for Thanksgiving in Richmond. On Friday, the Great Grandparents boarded their Amtrak chariot and arrived home safely; for the first time ever, because of a Bar Mitzvah, Ada stayed with us more than three days! This had always been the rule when visiting us in MA, she would stay no more than three days, and I’m happy she broke it.

Later we managed to stop at friend’s farm so the Grandbabies could see her miniature horses. Then off we drove to Culpeper for a double duty day of two sets of Grandparents. The Groom’s parents and his brother and sister live in Northern VA, so a meeting for brunch midway between Cville and our nation’s Capital was on the docket. It was wonderful to spend time with Grandma Shavaun and Grandpa Mike, and fantastic to see the love for these miniature miracles spread around town.

Against my better judgement, I even slipped into a small toy store while walking around town. Christmas spirit was evident in Master Card swipes and helpful elves.

But when we got home, ahead of the Bride’s family, I heard the news about another shooting in Colorado. About Planned Parenthood. It was the same newscasters, the same nouns, the same verbs, the same phrases were used to describe an unbearable and all too common event in our culture.

“A LIVE SHOOTING!”

Come one, come all and gather round your TV to watch the event unfold – like a modern day scene from a Civil War battle with people picnicking on a hillside overlooking the battle. And I just couldn’t. I can no longer listen to the slaughter or onslaught of talking heads trying to find rhyme and reason. I’ve said it before, it’s the guns. Period. And I fear our homegrown/nutjob/terrorists much more than a refugee with a different religion.

Today is a free day. There will be no more news on any device. We will visit with old friends and play with Grandbabies. No more cooking. We will dine at a kid-friendly place tonight. And later, when it’s time for bed, I will try and explain to my Love Bug that monsters are just pretend. That the noises she hears are just our house creaking and pipes carrying water. Or maybe there’s a fox in the woods? I will fib when I tell her that the gunshots we hear from hunters in the valley are just cars backfiring.

I could not bear to tell her the truth. We have accepted active shooter drills in our schools, what is next?    IMG_3548.jpg

 

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about food. Is it theatre, is it purely sustenance, or is it love? This morning at daybreak I clicked on an article about “Gay Chefs” on Slate. I read the whole piece on my phone, which I will rarely do. It was an interesting historical take on how gay men never had anything to prove when they cooked. Unlike women, who were trying to prepare a home cooked meal for a family on a budget and satisfy a husband at the same time. And by the way, start working outside the home too if you don’t mind. Hence the invention of the crock pot!

The Gay community treated food like fun; they enjoyed entertaining at home because as a whole they were living a secret life. They loved Julia Child, and lovingly mocked her Queenish mannerisms.

Then the 80s hit and AIDS took its tool on such frivolity. With the beginning of cooking shows on TV, and finally a whole channel devoted to food, macho male chefs took over the airwaves. Spices were added to dishes by yelling “Bam!” and cooking wars became de rigeur. An Englishman yells at us, an Australian wants us to get healthy. If we saw a woman chef on TV, we were lucky to maybe get Nigella Lawson on BBC. Finally along came Ina Garten, a woman who looks normal and not quite goddess-like. She prepares good food, she’s the real deal! Plus, I must admit I like her approach. I just made her pesto before I left Cville.

Keep it fresh, keep it simple, keep it fun.

And now I’m watching “Chef’s Table” on Netflix while Baby Boy naps. http://decider.com/2015/05/09/chefs-table-netflix/ It’s exactly what we’ve been missing. Foodies everywhere must be rejoicing. A Japanese American woman, Niki Nakayama (LA, California) creates a truly Japanese restaurant that doesn’t serve sushi. There is a folding screen between her kitchen and her dining room because in her culture, women are not chefs. And she is mad about that, but also sensitive to her customers. She talks about her older brother telling her it probably won’t work out – which only made her more determined.

Certain doors were always closed to women, but bit by bite, we slowly opened them. Cooking should be done to please yourself, your own palate. And of course, I’m making the Love Bug Mac and Cheese tonight, from scratch. Just because.

This is what eating a fresh peach feels like!

This is what eating a fresh peach feels like!

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