The difference one hundred ninety-nine days makes

The difference one hundred ninety-nine days makes

Up until this past weekend, my husband and I last saw our three desert-dwelling grandsons one hundred and ninety-nine days ago. At that time, we flew to their house to celebrate their birthdays — all of which are in June — a few weeks early. At that time, they looked like this:

Last weekend Jim and I flew to their house to celebrate Christmas with them — a few weeks early. In the one hundred and ninety-nine days since our visit in May, Brayden, Camden, and Declan have grown by leaps and bounds — in stature, maturity, conversational prowess, game-playing ability, and more.

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Pool time with PawDad

My grandsons have a swimming pool in the back yard of their home in the desert. Though I've had the pleasure of splishing and splashing with them in it a time or two, Jim — who due to job demands hasn't been able to visit the boys as often as I — last saw the pool when it was in progress and merely a big ol' hole in the ground.

Jim's perspective on the pool changed this past Sunday.

My husband and I took a quick trip south to see the boys and their parents over the weekend, and Jim, er, PawDad finally got to join the boys in their pool. And in their hot tub, too.

pool time with PawDad

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More than grandkids: What else I found in the desert

When I visit my grandsons in the desert, I take lots and lots of photos of them.

Bubby, Mac, and Jak may be my primary focus, but the flora and fauna of the relatively foreign land in which my grandkiddos live get my camera (iPhone and otherwise) clicking now and again, too.

Here are a few of my non-grandchild shots from my recent desert visit, all taken in my daughter's front and back yards, all things I've never found in my own front or back yards... or anywhere in Colorado, for that matter:

desert flower

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Desert oasis: Boys and their buds

Contrary to what many might believe, residents of the desert must be water worshippers of a most dedicated degree. For when temperatures hover around triple digits for days on end, staying cool in the pool with your pals is pretty much a matter of survival — yet loads of fun, too, as you can see.

outdoor swimming pool

boys at the pool

Today's fill-in-the-blank:

The most enjoyable way to stay cool is ________________.

17 things I'll do this week

I'm flying to the desert today to spend a week with my grandsons. Here are...

17 things I'll do this week:
(in no particular order — except for No. 1)

1. Swelter in the desert heat.

2. Hug Bubby.


3. Cool down with my grandsons at the water park.

4. Hug Mac.


5. Jump with my grandsons at the indoor trampoline center (Kegels, don't fail me now!).

6. Hug Megan.

7. Sit with Bubby on one side and Mac on the other while enjoying Despicable Me 2 at the theater.

8. Collect more artwork from my grandsons for hanging on my refrigerator.

grandchild art 

9. Take a picture or two (thousand).

10. Worry about scorpions and lizards crossing my path — or getting in my bed.

11. Watch Bubby jump from the diving board.

12. Be proud of Mac, who is reportedly potty-trained.

a boy and his toys

13. Teach Bubby how to play Froggy Boogie.

14. Think of my partner in grandparenting, who couldn't visit our grandsons with me (and find time to Facetime him with the boys).

15. Read Dr. Seuss' Bartholomew and the Oobleck and make oobleck.


16. Hug Bubby and Mac again... and again and again.

boys at the library 

17. Be one heckuva happy grandma!

Today's question:

What will you do this week?

Grandma's ultimate challenge

I cannot lie: The last couple days caring for my grandsons around the clock has been a bit of a challenge. Why? Because Baby Mac has got to be the most strong-willed bundle of energy I have ever come across.

Baby Mac's steadfast determination to keep up with brother Bubby—who will be four years old in June, compared to Baby Mac turning one year old the same month—has kept me hopping, to say the least. He thinks he should be able to do ab-so-lute-ly everything his brother does, despite lacking not only physical ability but also the common sense to know such feats at his age are sheer lunacy. And when I prevent him from risking life and limb in pursuit of his goal, Baby Mac throws fits reminiscent of my biggest battles with my daughters during their teen years.

Every once in a while, though, Baby Mac chooses to imitate his brother in something that isn't dangerous. For example, after watching Bubby place the ball on his T-ball stand several times, Baby Mac decided to give it a try himself with his own ball. This was the result:

Baby Mac's enthusiasm and obvious pride in himself for succeeding at the task at hand is exactly how I will feel, possibly even how I will babble, once I manage my own task at hand—that of making sure the little wild child survives safe and sound while his mom and dad are away.

Today's question:

What are your challenges—and successes!—of the past week?

Grandma's going to the desert and in her bag she'll pack...

I leave Friday for a twelve-day visit with my grandsons—seven days of which I'll be sole caretaker of kids while Megan and Preston attend an out-of-state conference.

In campfire-game fashion, I've made a list to ensure I remember all I need for the duration of my longest desert stay yet.

Grandma's going to the desert and in her bag she'll pack...

A — Aluminum foil for trying the back yard foil river we never got around to doing last time.

B — Bandaids to share with the boys. Decorated with VeggieTale characters.

C — Coffee. Lots and lots of it. (Okay, I'm not really packing the coffee but I've made sure it's included—in bold letters—on my list of demands that Megan have on hand.)

D — DSLR camera manual. And the camera, too. In hopes I can figure out a few more fancy functions while I have super subjects for shooting.

E — Earth-friendly crafts from Green Kid Crafts. The owners of the subscription service sent me several packets o' fun to review with Bubby, including Pirate Loot, Fishbowl, Great Horned Owl Mask projects and more.

F — Frozen Planet DVD. I'm excited to share it with Bubby.

G — Glasses. And a spare pair of glasses, too. I can no longer fake my way through reading small print—sometimes not even large print—and must bring a spare just in case something happens to the first pair.

H — Humor, or a good sense of it. From what Megan says, I'm likely gonna need it as the boys have been pills of varying sorts for the past week or so.

I — Ibuprofen. I'm pretty sure I'll be needing these pills for the above-referenced pills. If they really are pills. The boys, that is, not the pain reliever.

J — Jammies that are sufficiently grandma like as I don't want to scar my grandsons for life with any unintentional over-exposure.

K — Kitchen stuff. To include vanilla candy coating, sprinkles, and my grandma apron for making Confetti Popcorn with Bubby.

L — Laptop. A telecommuting working grandma can't leave home without it.

M — Music. On my laptop, on my iPhone. Because everything's better with music...and dance parties with cute boys. Cute boys named Bubby and Baby Mac, of course. (Well, named that at least here on the blog. In real life, those cute boys go by even cuter names.)

N — Ninety-four things I'm forgetting about as of this writing. Luckily there's still time for me to remember what those ninety-four things are. I hope.

O — Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott. In-flight reading material my good friend Heather recently bought and had autographed for me. (I'll be finished by then with Lamott's excellent book about becoming a grandma, Some Assembly Required. Huge Anne Lamott fan here.)

P — Power strip for ensuring I'll have plenty of spots for plugging in my laptop, camera, and iPhone each night as I nestle into bed.

Q — Quality hugs, kisses, and grandmotherly attention to be doled out in excess.

R — Realm for Women by Erox perfume. I really stink at accessorizing, but I always wear a (light!) squirt of an understated perfume. I like to smell good. And I like to think my grandsons will always remember that Gramma smells good. (Not that my Realm was purchased with them in mind. It was actually a gift from Jim—who always remembers that I like to smell good.)

S — Stickers! Race Cars Sticker Fun for Bubby.

T — Treasure. Also known as coins. PawDad always gives me treasure I'm supposed to pass along to the grandsons. Most times I do; sometimes I forget. (Just kidding, PawDad.)

U — Underwear. Because I had nothing else that started with a U. Well, because they're a necessity, too, but you know what I mean. Umbrella is the typical U word in such lists, but it's not likely I'll need one as the forecast's for triple digit heat while I'm there. (Maybe undertaker would have been more appropriate as the heat just might do me in.)

V — VeggieTales: Robin Good and His Not-So-Merry Men DVD.

W — Water balloons and the nifty gadget that makes them easy to fill. Will be So. Much. Fun. Especially on the trampoline.

X — X-tra patience. "See H — Humor" above.

Y — Yellow crayons...and every other color of crayon, too, to be used with the coloring book I'm packing.

Z — Zoris. I received a pair of Neat Zori sandals for review, but Colorado weather is not yet conducive to sandal wear. Days in the desert, though, are a perfect opportunity to see how the shoes stand up to days upon days of active fun in the sun.

photo: stock.xchng/bb_matt

Today's question:

Any recommendations of things I should add to my bag?