Thursday, January 28, 2010

Field Trip to the Aquarium

A couple of weeks ago Matthew came home with a permission slip for a field trip and I, being the perfect Grandma wannabe, asked Matthew about me going with them. He did not seem too excited so I blew it off thinking he might be one of those kids that are embarrassed when home life crosses over into the privacy of their "professional" lives. Well yesterday Matthew comes home all excited about the field trip that he and I are going on! Oh my gosh, I had not planned that in my schedule! What is a Grandma to do? ; ) I just told myself I could not do it but I guess I had some kind of a dream about it because I woke up thinking I have to go ... it is too important to Matthew. Can I make it work? So today I went to the Dallas World Aquarium with Matthew's second grade class. It is confirmed ... I am officially now a stay at home Grandma! And I can do this stuff because even though I have a schedule it is my schedule and I can adjust it as needed.

Ya know these events are not cheap with the cost of admission, parking and the gift shop but I have to tell you it was worth every penny and every minute of my time. Matthew was so proud that I was there and he was so attentive. He was constantly aware of where I was and so protective, constantly looking around to make sure I was keeping up with the class. And everytime he looked at me the sweetest smile came across his face. I could just feel how proud he was that I showed up.

Another thing I noticed is that just like at home where Matthew is very black and white regarding the pecking order making it hard for him to understand that even though I am Jennifer's mother and basically the matriarch in this house Jennifer is his mother and so he still reports to her. Matthew does not like fuzzy, for him it is what it is. Order is important to him and everything has to be in order. So away from home and on the field trip, my role changes, the order changes ... in his mind on the field trip Ms. Mannis is the one in charge and he continued to defer to her even though I was there. I was very proud of him, his maturity was amazing. So many kids his age would take on the attitude that they did not have to listen to the teacher anymore since Grandma was there but not Matthew.

The final observation I made was that we really do not see our kids / grandkids mature at the same rate we notice that others do. Maybe it is because they are so close and we see them everyday or maybe it is that we subconsciously do refuse to believe they are growing up right before our eyes. A little boy in Matthew's class referred to his Granny using her first and last name. My mind started racing, "Oh my gosh, Matthew is behind, he is not as smart as the other kids in his class, he does not know my name, he just thinks I am Grandma. How come we never thought to teach him our real names. Should I ask him? What if he does not know and I embarrass him in front of the kids? But I have to know!" So I lean over and quietly whisper, "Matthew what is my first name?" He says, "Beverly". I say "What is my last name?" He says, "Shorter". I breathe a sigh of relief thinking, he is not behind, he is keeping up, he is paying attention! And then I just sit back and watch him ... he is such a great kid! He really is so mature for his age and as I watch the other kids I wonder how did I ever question whether or not he was keeping up? Of course he is. It will be interesting to see where life takes him.

I learned today that it really is so important to get involved in your kids activities at school. It gives you a window into a side of your kids that you will never see at home.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Going out and we are out ...

Allison asked us to take her roller skating and I hesitated thinking about all of the things I had (or I felt like I HAD) to do. But then I thought ya know she is 13 and so her wanting to spend time with the "old folks" may be drawing to a close! With that in mind I quickly made a mental reorganization of my to do list and said "OK!" I asked her if she wanted to invite Heather and of course that met with an enthusiastic yes. She then made it clear that she just wanted Grandpa and I to go .... awwww I was beaming I am sure, at the thought of Allison just wanting us to go. And as quickly as I processed that thought a new one followed ... it could very well be that she just wants a break from the little brothers and if we ALL go then we would have to include the little guys. Oh well I will just choose to believe she just wanted to hang out with us, I mean even if that is not the whole reason I am SURE it is part of it. ;) Anyway we had a blast and decided to replace our daily walk with roller skating on Wednesday's.

So you know what that means ... we will have to make special days with the boys. Not sure what it will be yet but we are going to take them on the train Saturday to Dallas, have lunch and then ride it home. This was a save the day idea because this morning as a response to a question I nonchalantly said, "I am going to take the train to Dallas and meet Grandpa". The boys seem interested in that but not overly interested. Then Louis says he left money on the counter for the train. Weeeeelllll ... as the saying goes little pitchers have big ears, or something like that. Hmmm that does not really make sense. But anyway Jennifer says Matthew and Braeden are sitting at the top of the stairs with their chins on their chests and she overhears Braeden say, "Grandpa is taking Grandma on the train". She said it was like they felt so betrayed that he was letting a "girl" in the club! Geeez Louise, just call me Darla. (You have to be old enough to remember Little Rascals to know who Darla is).

But really what were we thinking? You do not talk about riding on a train in front of a 6-7 yr old boys and not expect some fallout!! So our surprise for after school is to plan our trip on the train.

So far the only really big thing we are having a hard time figuring out is bedtime. Getting the boys to go to sleep is a challenge! If we figure out what works we will tell you or ideas are welcome!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Matthew's Blog

And FYI, most of our animals are outside/shop animals! We do not have that many in the house. We just cannot seem to say no to a critter that needs a home! ; )

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Family Meeting is a MUST!

Third post for today.

I cannot say it enough how great I think the concept of the Family Meeting is. If you have kids it is a MUST! It serves a purpose in regards to the mechanics of a household but that is nothing compared to the self confidence it instills in all of us especially the kids. When I started this I really envisioned it being a battle to get the kids to participate. Oh my gosh was I wrong ... the kids do not let us forget it, they run it, and they hate for it to end. Giving them a platform to speak their minds and have it actually heard with no distraction is so empowering for them. When they speak everyone else is hanging on every word ... they love it! And they are giving serious input too. Yes some of it is just them repeating what one of the adults has already said as if it were their idea but I do not care ... they are listening ... they are engaged ... they are hanging on your every word! They respect the talking stick and let me tell you if you don't they WILL call you down for it! ; )

Give it a try ... you will be glad you did!

A Mom is a Mom is a Mom ...

The kids have it figured out, now they just need the t-shirt that says "If Mom says no ask Grandma or Grandpa or Megan. But Matthew REALLY has it figured out. He understands the power of "a Mom" and the hierarchy of the Mom figure in the family. He told me the other day as I was fixing dinner that he was not hungry and I said, "Well of course you are not after eating those 2 muffins". Now that is exactly what I said but just like there is French and Spanish and English there is also the Adult language and the 7 yr old language because here is how he translated that to his Mom. "Mom, Grandma said I did not have to eat dinner." She said, "Well I am the Mom and you have to eat dinner." As he flipped his hand towards the living room where I was sitting and cocked his head he told Jennifer, "Well she is YOUR Mom".

Then a few days later he came to me with a dilemma and I said, "Well Matthew that sounds like a discussion you need to have with your Mom." And he said, with a combination of surety and confusion in his voice, "You're a mom."

And so ... this is the latest thing I predicted so accurately when I said before we even started this arrangement, "I am sure things will come up and we will have to work them out as we go". The lines of authority can get blurred for the kids and so it is important to remind them that when Mom is here or when it can wait for Mom, Mom is IT!

I am so loving life right now ...

The Sandwich Phenomenon

Okay so a couple of days ago, after a call from my sister-in-law to talk about how much she enjoyed my blog, I was motivated to catch up. So I wrote and I wrote and I wrote ... 2 and a half hours to be exact ... then my computer locked up and I lost all I had written. Oh my gosh that was painful ... not because I had lost all that time but because I had lost all of the feelings I had put into it! Now I must try to remember what I wrote and some of it may change because a few days have passed and so maybe I do not feel the same way I did on that day. ; )

I have been really busy experiencing the sandwich phenomenon. No, I am not talking about sandwiches like peanut butter or grilled cheese, I am talking about when you are a baby boomer and you are taking care of your kids, grandkids and aging parent at the same time.

We put my Mom in a care center last week. Now I know you probably just sighed and thought "Oh no, that sucks" but I think this is a good decision for my Mom right now. It is a great place in her hometown so when she walked in it was like the homecoming queen had just walked in. "Look, there is Grace ... Hi Grace ... come over here". She did not remember these people but I hope with more socializing she will get some memories back. She is amazing, like my cousin Linda said, she is the epitome of her namesake, Grace. You could see it in her face that she did not know the ones who were so glad to see her but she knew enough ... she knew she did not want to hurt their feelings. So after a brief moment of confusion she broke into the most heartwarming smile and as she always does, she made them proud to be in her presence. I wish I could put into words what a class act my Mom is. The world would be much different if everyone had the opportunity to learn the things my Mom taught us. And it was not in a way that you think a parent teaches ... it was in her walk, in her expressions, in her tone, in her words of wisdom. You learn from watching her, when she talks you listen. I did not realize how much she had taught me until so much later in my life. I have told her thanks many times and I think the first time I told her she was still at a point that she really got it. Now I am not so sure but I still tell her every time I see her.

When I sit with my Mom I think, "I do not want to end up in a "nursing home" ... but I do not want to be a burden on my kids either". But my Mom is not a burden and Louis and I talked alot about how we might make it work to have my Mom with us but with Jenn and the kids here it is not feasible. Besides she really needs alot more medical care than we can give. I know my Mom is not mentally the way she was at one time because she does not want to believe she needs to be in a care center. If my Mom were still the Mom of my youth she would know that this is for the best and she would not be sad when I leave. The Mom of my youth would never want to do or say anything to make us worry or feel guilty. My Mom is not the Mom of my youth anymore and that is so painful sometimes. We do come full circle ... I am back to the pain I felt when I left my kids in daycare and they cried for me not to go. But just like then, we are doing the best we can.

If I get to where my Mom is today will I remember how I felt as the Mom of my kid's youth?

I love you so much Mom!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pizza with Pineapple? No Thanks!

This is my 2nd post today but I wanted this one to be separate.

We had pizza tonight ... remember Tuesday is pizza night! We got one that was half pineapple. Well the other half of that pizza was gone and so I showed Matthew how if I took off the pineapple it would just be cheese like he liked. He looked at it and pointed to the indentation where the pineapple had been (not really visible to the naked eye) and said, "You can see where the pineapple was so I will be able to taste it." And then in the most polite way he said "No thank you I will not have anymore pizza."

Discouraged, he sat down to finish his homework and about that time Jennifer came in and was made aware of the dilemma. So next thing, Jennifer, Allison and I are in the sunroom discussing it and Jenn and I have pretty much written the evening off as a catastrophe when Allison gets up and goes in the kitchen. She messes around in the pizza box for a minute, and then asks Matthew, "Do you want my pizza I did not eat?" Matthew enthusiastically says yes, knowing Allison would not be eating the pineapple pizza, and he eagerly finishes off "her" pizza. The evening is saved!

So what makes this story so great? The pizza Allison gave him was the same piece I tried to give him but Allison took the time to analyze the situation and come up with a way to make Matthew feel happy again. What a great thing for a 13 yr old to do? Her Mom and Grandma learned from her today! I LOVE YOU Allison!

First Day of School

I do not think, even if I had sat down and drawn a picture of how I wanted the first day of school to go for my Grandkids in a new school, it could have gone this well! None of them really said so yesterday and this morning but in hindsight I do think they were very nervous about today. Last night the mood was heavy in the house. There was not the usual "happy" in the air but I did not really notice it nor would have I suspected why if I had not seen the way they were tonight. Lots of smiles with sparkles in their eyes, shoulders held high ... just very happy.

Allison loves her teachers ... especially her math lab teacher. I was so excited about them coming here to school because I knew that the minute they recognized her struggles with math they would be all over it with extra help! I predict with this teacher she will make huge strides in math. She said he introduced her to everyone and told everyone what a cool kid she was. Talk about giving her a boost of self confidence as the newbie. If she had been walking any taller this evening I am not sure she would have made it through the door! Jennifer asked if if she made any friends, "YEA with all of them" she said with a hint of DUH in her voice. And then a long pause before she said "not with the boys though!" ; )

Matthew also loves it. He said his teacher talks very nice and he made 2 new friends. His favorite subject is math. Matthew came running into the kitchen with his notebook saying, "Grandma, LOOK at this, you are not going to believe it!" He pulled out a permission slip and read it to me. It was a permission slip for a field trip to the Dallas World Aquarium. He is ecstatic!

Braeden also loved his first day. His favorite subject is Gym. Matthew said, "But what is your favorite subject out of Math, Science and Reading?" Braeden thought long and hard and then repeated, "Gym".

None of Matthew or Braeden's friends have names yet though, they only have shirt colors. "The boy in the green shirt is my friend ... the boy in the red shirt is my friend". At this school they have "buddies" they get assigned to and their buddies stick by them for 2 weeks to show them the ropes. How neat is that?

As of day one they want to go to these schools forever so that is a great start.

We did pretty good today sticking to our schedule for the evening. Got homework done with no complaining and went to bed with very minimal "after lights out chatter". Life is good! ; )

I thought all of them would want us to take them to school on the second day but what was I thinking ... they want to ride the bus!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Yesterday we had girl's day out while Matthew and Braeden were with their Dad. We went to Dallas and had lunch ... on the way we were discussing different things, not sure what exactly we were talking about at the time but Allison said, "I like living at Grandma's cause we have rules and we stick with them." I think it proves the fact that kids thrive on rules and structure. They want to know what to expect and what is expected. It creates a comfort / safety zone for them. Too many parent's today I think feel like rule's and structure inhibit their kids. Or maybe they hesitate to do that because they are so busy they feel guilty and so to make it up to the kids they just let them have free rein ... they do not want to structure the limited amount of time they have with the kids. I think the structure makes it possible to maximize the time you do have with them. And besides all that we had a GREAT time!

We played grandparents and kept the kids while Jen and Megan went out. We got snacks and movies, party hats and noise makers, sparkling grape juice and champagne ... we were ready! So we popped in a movie and I did the usual, about the time the movie was 5 minutes in I was asleep. Oh my gosh, I would just love to stay awake for a movie.

The New Year's Eve celebration was also the usual ... at 5 minutes to 12 Louis wakes me up and I say okay ... at 3 minutes til Louis says "you are going to miss it", I say okay ... I watch the clock on the TV with one eye open and at 15 seconds til jump up, throw on the party hat, grab the noise maker, 5,4,3,2,1, Happy New Year, clank the glasses as we toast each other, give kisses!! Whew made it through another New Years celebration. I am going to bed!

You see some people say they just go to bed at their normal time and if I did that I guess my New Year's celebration would not really be any different than the way I do it now but there is something about being awake and cheering at that second when we cross from one year to the next ... I just have to do it.

The kids loved it ... the snacks, the movie that we all watched together, the hats, the noisemakers ... oh my gosh, it was the best party for them. They really got into the idea of the "new year" and what that meant. And then after all the Happy New Year wishes it was so sweet hearing Braeden tell Matthew on the way up the stairs, "this is a happy day Matthew".

Also, we made the Please Knock signs for all bedroom and bathroom doors, we decorated containers for the boys to keep their special things in, and we decorated the talking stick. Check out the pictures!

Oh and we did have the traditional blackeyed peas on New Years with cornbread. It was great but Matthew did the usual stare. The one where he just looks at his food intently as if he is thinking, "If I stare at this food long enough maybe I can will it to disappear without it ever having to pass my lips". That is okay I helped him out. I said, "It is okay Matthew if you do not want to eat that (his face lit up). We can just put it in the microwave and when you want a snack later we can heat it up for you" (the light in his face went out). I think after this happens a few times he will figure out we are serious about eating meals.

School is just around the corner ...