School papers and similarly sentimental stuff

School papers and similarly sentimental stuff

During my daughters’ school years, I kept all the papers and projects they brought home from school. Everything. Spelling tests, stories, handwriting practice (they did that back then), certificates earned for field day and perfect attendance, report cards for each quarter of each year.

I kept it all. Times three. All in cardboard boxes in a storage space beneath the house we lived in for the duration of the girls’ school years. Lots of …

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Grandma Christmas crafts matter

Grandma Christmas crafts matter

The year my husband and I were married, his stepmom, Diane, whom I had never met and Jim hadn’t seen in years, sent us a lovely joint Christmas stocking she had made for us. She also sent an adorable handmade one for baby Brianna, who was born soon after we married.

Diane sent another precious stocking the following year, when Megan was born. And another two years after that for our baby Andie.

When Megan and Preston married and…

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Grand greetings! Plus, GRAND Social No. 331 link party for grandparents

Grand greetings! Plus, GRAND Social No. 331 link party for grandparents

Grand greetings!

When my daughter Megan sends out her annual Christmas cards, she typically catches up on sharing photos of Brayden, Camden, and Declan she’s not gotten around to sending earlier in the year. Sweet stuff like these school pictures and sports shots enclosed with this year’s card:

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Firsts: Declan and snow... snow... snow!

Firsts: Declan and snow... snow... snow!

Megan made the trek from the desert to Colorado last month, to meet newborn nephew Benjamin. Brayden and Camden stayed home with Dad so they wouldn’t miss school, but as Declan is obligated only to two mornings a week at preschool, he had the privilege of joining Mommy for the visit.

The first morning of their stay at my house, Declan woke me early, bounding into my bedroom exclaiming, “Gramma! It’s SNOWing!”

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Declan and the dastardly deed

Declan and the dastardly deed

I was chatting on the phone with my daughter Megan one day last week when out of the blue she exclaims, "Whoa! There's a tarantula in the fridge!"


"Yeah, I just opened the fridge and forgot I had put it there!"

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Functional art for Mom's Day! Plus, GRAND Social No. 302 link party for grandparents

Functional art for Mom's Day! Plus, GRAND Social No. 302 link party for grandparents

Functional art for Mom's Day!

A few weeks ago I shared with you how fantastically artistic Brayden and Camden are, their school art show submissions proof of such.

Now my daughter Megan (mom to Brayden and Camden... as well as little bro Declan) has taken my grandsons' creativity a step further. She turned the boys' art into marvelous Mother's Day gifts for Gramma. Functional gifts.

To wit:

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Irrefutable proof

There's been much discussion and debate among family and friends as to whom Baby Mac takes after—Mommy Megan or Daddy Preston.

Since Baby Mac first arrived on the scene, I've always leaned toward him taking after Preston's side of the family. Many folks agreed. Even Megan.

This week, though, Megan stumbled across some old photos of herself at Baby Mac's age and matched up one of her photos with a recent one of her baby boy:

Megan on the left; Baby Mac on the right.

While the photo may be a tad blurry, the bottom line is crystal clear: Baby Mac irrefutably looks just like his mama!

Debate settled.

Today's question:

Do your children look more like their mom or their dad?

Decking the halls: Like mother, like daughters

I've got my tree up and the stockings hung by the chimney with care:

As does my oldest daughter, Brianna:

As does my middle daughter, Megan:

As for my youngest daughter, Andrea, I've yet to see what she's done. No rush though: Andie always has and always will do things in her own time, in her own way. That's the magic of Andie.

That said, I have no doubt Andie will have her tree up and photos sent long before I finish the rest of the holiday decorating I've yet to do. But at least my tree is done. That's what I keep telling myself...despite the numerous Santas, holiday village, nativity scene figures, candles for the windows and more in boxes scattered around the house, just waiting to be placed (and just out of frame of my photo above!).

Like I said, at least my tree is done ... At least my tree is done ... At least my tree is done ... At least my tree is done ...

Today's question:

What holiday decorating have you completed...and what do you have left to do?

Failing as a mother, and other pride-filled moments

I pride myself on being a good grandma, a good mama. Sometimes I fail miserably though. Like I did yesterday.

As most of you know, my daughter Megan had Baby Mac in June. And as some of you might know, since having Baby Mac, Megan has made running her thing, her time for herself, her time devoted to being Megan not just Mommy. And devoted she is, running 5Ks and 10Ks and "fun" runs for practice most days of the week. She's become quite the long-distance runner despite being a sprinter—and a reluctant one at that—during her high school years. She sets goals; she accomplishes them.

Yesterday featured a big goal, one Megan hoped to accomplish with aplomb: her first half marathon. That's 13.1 miles for those non-runners (like me) in the group. She's been training for it since right after having Baby Mac, and nothing was going to deter her. Except maybe that Preston, her hubby and daddy to the boys, was scheduled for a business trip that would take him away the day of the half marathon. Which meant there'd be no one to cheer her on with her babies in tow (yes, the babies should to be in tow, to see the importance of Mom setting goals and accomplishing them). And no one to take photos of her crossing the finish line.

So she asked me and Jim—Mom and Dad—if we'd cover the support shift. Which, of course, we were happy to do. Not only would it be a chance to see our grandbabies, it would allow us to cheer on one of our daughters in her athletic pursuits, something we've missed since our nest emptied out.

We arrived in the desert, prepared for duty. The plan involved Preston driving Megan to the Women's Running Magazine Women's Half Marathon starting point before hopping the plane for his business trip. Then Jim and I were to pack up Bubby and Baby Mac and arrive near the finish line of the marathon pert near the time Megan figured she'd be crossing. Other than getting us there, my primary job (in addition to caring for the grandkiddos, of course) was to take pictures of Megan meeting her goal.

I failed. On both counts.

Despite setting out as planned, with detailed directions and maps for a city we'd never visited, we got within blocks—"Special Event" flags marked the area, so there's no questions of that—yet couldn't get to the exact area we wanted. Because of the special event, because of all the roads closed for that very same special event. Because not a single direction for spectators was given on the official website and because Google Maps didn't note the very roads we needed, the very roads we were instructed to take would be closed. There was no way to get were we wanted to be. At least not by the time we needed to be there.

AS we drove around the special event area, we lucked upon a spot where other folks were cheering on their running mothers and daughters and sisters and friends. We hopped out. We ran into place. And, heavens-be-shining-down-on-me, Megan was coming around the corner. She was smiling, Bubby was waving, Jim was shouting GO, MEG! and I was scrambling for my camera...and in all the excitement I couldn't get it on and get it focused, get it shooting as it should. At least not while she was in front of me. This is what I managed:

Then Jim and I were off and running ourselves, with the kids, trying to figure out how the heck to get to that freakin' finish line before Megan did. Not knowing the city at all, not having uninterrupted service on my iPhone that would provide me a map and direction and GPS or something of use, I asked another spectator for assistance. He told me how to head in the general direction, "but I don't know how you're going to get there with the way they have the roads all jacked up," he said. "Just get as close as possible then walk as fast as you can," was his only suggestion.

Thing is, that "general direction" he gave was off by about 15 blocks. Or maybe my interpretation was off by about 15 blocks. And in those 15 blocks, the tension in the car rose. Baby Mac was hungry, Jim was frustrated at my (usually stellar) navigation skills, and Bubby was asking from the back seat, "Why are you so mad?" The "you" meaning me and Jim, as we were bickering and not being our best Gramma and PawDad selves by any means. But gee freakin' whiz...we couldn't get to our daughter who would soon be wrapping up an incredible feat and it appeared we weren't going to be there as promised.

And we weren't. Just as we got as close as we could possibly get, the point from which we'd have to quickly pop open the stroller, throw the two boys into it and make our way across a seemingly endless obstacle course, heading for the very same finish line as Megan—where Megan would be—my cell phone rang.

It was Megan.

She'd crossed the finish line.

And wondered where we were.

Oh, the humanity, er, humility...of having to tell my daughter I'd failed. I'd failed to get us there on time, I'd failed to get photos of her accomplishing her goal, I'd even failed to get one front-facing photo of her at the one single moment the gods did allow us to see our pink-clad racer girl despite our missteps.

No big deal, Megan assured us, just get here. Call when you get to the finish line, she said.

With my tail between my legs I got us there. And I got a few photos of Half-Marathon Megan with her medal:

... and of Half-Marathon Megan with her babies:

I failed at my task. Megan didn't. At all. She finished her very first half marathon in a respectable 1 hour 54 minutes and 52 seconds. An amazing feat any time, but especially impressive just six months after having a child.

Oh, and that 1 hour 54 minutes? Exactly the time (well, minus the 52 seconds) I guessed the night before, when Preston, Jim and I all put in our guesses for what Megan's final time would be. While I'm not so proud of my mom fail when it came to getting us to the finish line for photos, I am, in a very small way, proud of my accurate guess on Megan's time. (I gotta take my successes any where I can find them.)

In all seriousness, though, and in a very large way, I'm proud of Megan—my marathon-running mommy/daughter—and all she's done to get where she's at.

(Disclosure: All guilt mentioned above was purely self-inflicted; Megan never took me to task nor seemed even slightly disappointed at my failure to come through as promised. Yet another reason I'm proud of her.)

Today's question:

Describe a recent fail on your part...and/or a recent moment that filled you with pride?

Photographs and memories

You surely can tell from this blog that I love to take photos of my grandsons. As a long-distance grandma, I take advantage of the times we have together in many ways, but a priority always involves stocking up on lots of shots of memorable moments during our visits.

Often, though, I don't have my camera on hand for some of the most memorable moments of all. For example, when bedraggled Mommy Megan and the boys first came into view at the airport, Bubby beelined it for Gramma. As I picked him up, he held me tight and said, "I missed you so much." It was and likely always will be one of my all-time favorite moments with him, yet not one accompanied by a photo.

Another memorable-but-not-recorded moment was when Bubby and I sat in the hot tub together. Although I did take pictures of the experience—and had Megan take a few, too—the funniest, surely most memorable moment of all was when I was putting the camera down. I stood up out of the hot tub and leaned over the edge to put my camera in a safe, dry place. When I turned back around to sit once again next to Bubby, he wore a huge grin from ear to ear and looked guilty as all get-out. For what, I didn't know. Until I began to sit. Bubby giggled and told me, "I said 'that's Gramma's big booty patooty'!" Apparently Bubby got a giggle-worthy shot of his own as Gramma leaned over the edge.

I've mentioned before that Bubby and I like to have dance parties of a sort when we're together. During the most recent visit he and Baby Mac made to our house, the dance party was larger than usual, made especially memorable with the addition of Baby Mac in my arms. I bopped with Baby Mac as Bubby rolled with Rock Dog. Another moment not caught on film.

The day before our house guests were scheduled to leave, I mentioned to Bubby that he'd be heading home the next day. "But I want to stay here," he said. I told him that he couldn't do that because his friends were all at home, and he had to go to school. "But I can go to school here," he said. My heart melted at the idea that Bubby was willing to give up his beloved friends and great times at school in favor of staying at Gramma's.

Similarly, the day Bubby and Mommy were packing up the luggage, Bubby passed me in the hallway and woefully told me, "I will miss you so much." A second mention to match the first when he arrived, sweet sentiments to bookend the visit.

Those sentiments and other equally memorable moments may not have been captured in photos, but they're definitely imprinted on my heart. Which makes them longer lasting and not likely to ever fade.

Today's question:

What recent moment(s) for you were not caught on film but imprinted on your heart?

For want of a round tuit

Decades upon decades ago, I came across a cardboard cutout in my mom's issue of Woman's Day or Family Circle, the only two magazines she regularly treated herself to. The cutout was of a "Round Tuit"—a circle with the words ROUND TUIT written on it, for presenting to procrastinators who say such things as "I'll do X when I get around to it."

Why that goofy feature stuck in my mind for many years after, I'll never know. But not long ago I found another Round Tuit in an antique shop and was happy to offer it as a prize in my then-weekly haiku contest here on Grandma's Briefs. The tchotchke looked like this:

I now wish I had kept that Round Tuit rather than give it away, as it sure would have come in handy for all the things that we didn't get around to doing while Megan and the boys were here last week.

A Round Tuit would have been useful for:

• Carving the warty pumpkin we picked from the pumpkin patch

• A second splash in the hot tub with Bubby

• Taking Bubby over to Aunt B's to visit her kitties

• Eating the two packages of Wholly Guacamole I bought specifically for Megan then discovered at the back of the refrigerator soon after she'd left

• A treasure hunt for PawDad and Bubby using PawDad's metal detector

• Baking peanut butter cookies with Bubby

• Collecting leaves from the back yard for Bubby to take back to the desert, where the cactus and palm trees don't change in the fall

• Relaxing in the hammock with Bubby

• Assisting Megan on the sewing project she hoped to complete while here

• Printing photos of our week o' fun to place in a mini photo album for Bubby to take home with him

There's not much I can do about most of what's on the list above. Some simply won't happen, and some will be added to the agenda for when Megan and the boys—with Preston—return at Christmastime.

I will, though, eat all the guacamole myself. I also will pick some red and yellow leaves from the trees in my back yard. Then I'll place the leaves, along with printed photos of the visit, in a mini keepsake album that I'll mail to Bubby.

As soon as I get around to it a Round Tuit.

Today's question:

What would you surely accomplish, if only you had a Round Tuit?