On Being a Grandma

When my now-30-and-28-year-old daughters were in high school, one of their band directors described them perfectly: “Fifty percent of them is exactly the same the same and fifty percent of them is the total opposite.” Which probably is true of all siblings (except me and my brothers, but since they each consistently refuse to acknowledgement my maturity and leadership and wisdom, we will leave that story for another day). I don’t think the two of them look like sisters, either, or look like me at all but when I’m with Older Daughter, people say “Oh, you two look so much alike!” and when I’m with Younger Daughter, people say “Oh, you two look so much alike!” so there must be some resemblance somewhere. All of this to say that I am fascinated with how different our three grandsons are. Older Daughter and Best-Son-in-Law-in-the-World have three boys (Older Daughter is acutely aware that she’s outnumbered, gender-wise) and they are so different yet so alike. While the three-month-old hasn’t staked out his individual territory yet, I already can tell that he’s going to be smart and funny and sweet and imaginative and creative and kind, just like his older brothers. A grandma knows these things. And here I was going to describe to you just what makes the older two so special, but my professional journalistic objectivity is getting in the way of grandmotherly adoration. And vice versa. I could tell you how amazingly talented and awesomely wonderful they are, and it would be true. I could tell you that the first-grader designs and constructs things (he built his own Baymax after we saw “Big Hero 6“) that would impress NASA. I could tell you that the 3-year-old obviously is counting the years (months? weeks?) until he’s no longer under adult rule. I could tell you how the first-grader unpacked and arranged the 3-year-old’s favorite blanket and animals on his bed when they spent the night at our house and how the 3-year-old wants to make sure we save a chocolate doughnut (with sprinkles!) for his older brother. And I’m just getting started. But the thing is that I have lots of friends who have amazingly talented and wonderful and adorable grandchildren of their own. Maybe that’s just how grandchildren are. And as long as we agree that MINE are the most amazingly talented and wonderful and adorable, it’s all good.

Good things — Mississippi football & grandbabies

coversOh my goodness. I don’t know about you, but things have been CRAAAZY around here lately. For one, my husband right now is the most important person in the state of Mississippi. Well, one of the most important. Well, OK, an important person. (And, of course, to me he always is the most important person everywhere. This commercial message brought to you by the institution of marriage and soulmate-age.) Why is this, you ask? What has 10624932_10203004590851939_4174530144616862315_nhe done to bring such fame and fortune? Of course, those who know John L. Pitts are not surprised to discover the extent of his influence, but lately he holds in his hands, literally, the story that is shaking up everything IMG_4031anyone knows about football: namely, that the two teams his newspaper, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, in Tupelo, covers — Mississippi State and Ole Miss — are in the top 10 in the AP poll. And, as of right now this very minute, they are no. 1 and no. 3 respectively. Pretty amazing. And now there’s Heisman talk? All I know is that for the past few weeks, my sports editor husband has been working pretty much 24/7 to cover this national story for his local readers — not easy. But, as always, he’s excelling. Of course, this could explain his recent encounter with a deer, on cara heavily traveled road less than a mile from our downtown. I really don’t like to think too hard about this. And what’s even stranger is that my Republican-voting, NRA-supporting, Obama-criticizing husband went and bought a new car that’s synonymous with all he makes fun of: a Prius. It’s the mileage, you know. And the anti-deer capabilities.

Grandson no. 3!Well, those are not even the most exciting things to happen to our family lately. Our third precious grandbaby-boy got born last weekend. Older Daughter and son-in-law did an amazing job of completely un-medicated childbirth in a hospital suite dedicated to a natural and drug-free experience. She is a warrior mom, through and through. I did un-medicated by accident with Younger Daughter (Me: “I really think that we need to go to the hospital now.” Husband-at-the-time: “No. You can’t be that close to pushing yet.” Folks at the hospital as soon as we got there: “Get this woman to delivery stat!!!”), and there’s something to be said for it — now that I’m 28 years away and have pretty much forgotten the details. And speaking of totally awesome Younger Daughter, she now shares her birthday with her third nephew, which is the second shared birthday in our family. I think we’re on a roll.

The New Baby is Here, the New Baby is Here!

I am a bad, bad blogger. I should have my three-year-old WordPress account ripped away and be forced to start all over for not posting in more than a week. That contravenes every piece of blogging advice ever written. But thanks to all who nagged bugged poked reminded me that even though I was BUSY HELPING WITH MY NEW BABY GRANDSON, I could take the time to post photos and share thoughts. You were correct. I didn’t do it, but you were correct. Anyway, I’m back in the decidedly adult home that my husband and I fill with the stuff of our grownup life: Newspapers, page proofs, espresso machines and stacks of to-be-read books along with deadlines, meetings and I-can’t-read-that-right-now-’cause-I’m-late-but-email-it-and-I’ll-take-a-look. That is pretty much my normal everyday life, but for a week I reveled in the precious & priceless world of newborn babies. Of course, you know that by “helping with my new baby grandson,” I actually mean “endless hours of playing with 3 1/2-year-old incumbent grandson Capt. Adorable” — which, it’s true, the new second-time parents (our daughter & son-in-law) considered a huge help. But I did get to sneak in a few rocking-chair moments with Baby Brother. I’m telling you, it was a grandmother’s dream: When I wasn’t playing Cars 2 Tokyo Spin-out Racetrack or building a Thomas train track or jumping on the bouncy thing at the indoor playground, I was holding that sweet days-old baby and breathing in that indefinable newborn smell. And you would be so proud of me. I pretty much almost always usually followed Mommy and Daddy’s household rules, didn’t say anything when they did something wrong chose alternate paths and offered advice only when asked — which, come to think of it, was never. But I was there to help my daughter over the weepy postpartum hump (she cried when she got home and unpacked her hospital bag — we’ve all been there) and when I left, she told my sincerely that she appreciated my being there more than I knew, so I must have done something right. Actually, I’m mindful of being on good behavior when I’m in grandma-mode since my husband has threatened to curtail my visiting rights if he gets any complaints from our daughter, so I rigorously keep to nap-time schedules and limit chocolate-chip cookies to only a couple (or three or four) at a time. And soak up all the grandbaby love I can get.

Jonah and the Baby Hat

Oh my cookies! I am so glad that I have such talented friends. Can you believe that someone just sat down and whipped up this precious work of art? I’ve tried to knit before — Older Daughter patiently attempts to re-teach me every couple of years or so — and even my incredibly-simple-and-anybody-can-do-it scarves end up wonky. This baby hat is so cute I just want to play with it — I adjust the size and tie the ribbon and imagine this on a sweet little infant head. My friend Sherry Campbell, whose current work exile in Louisiana has significantly reduced the fun factor here in northwest Alabama, made this for our Grandbaby No. 2, expected to arrive in mid-November. I love how the colors and patterns and ribbon all work together in perfect adorability. I remember when Sherry first discovered knitting and took to it with dedication and passion, as she does everything. Then there was the famous road trip where she stopped at every Tuesday Morning for hundreds of miles so she could collect enough of the same type of yarn she needed for a special project.  But who can argue with talent such as this? And seeing this hat makes Grandbaby No. 2’s arrival seem all the more real. Well, that, and Older Daughter’s growing tummy. Bless her heart, she says she is sort of getting tired of 3-year-old Capt. Adorable always giving her the role of the whale when they play Jonah.


Little GymSince I’m hanging out here on my daughter’s desktop while my beloved laptop is in Computer Hospital (but we’re expecting a full and quick recovery), I started thinking about all the things young families such as my daughter and son-in-law — parents to grandson Capt. Adorable — have that we didn’t have 25 years or so ago. Like Little Gym. Does everybody else know about this place? It’s my new favorite spot. Little Gym is a franchised gym for all ages children. Capt. Adorable (above on the left) goes to the Birds class for 10 to 19 month-olds. He loves it! The children run around exploring and also do “group” activities as well as a bunch of around 1-year-olds can. It’s also great for my daughter to meet other young moms, and the instructors are so fun and enthusiastic. Even 51-year-old grandmas are welcome, although when our instructor was explaining how to do a backwards whoop-dee-doop with our little Birds, I’m pretty sure she looked at me when she said, “And if for some reason your back won’t take this, don’t worry about trying it.” I think she envisioned having a medical emergency right there on the red mat, but I can whoop-dee-doop with folks half my age. So there. Check out Little Gym at http://thelittlegym.com


Snack TrapI’m also loving these Snack Traps that keep No-spill sippy cupssnacks in securely and lets babies reach in and get what they want without muss or fuss. Capt. Adorable carries one everywhere — so much better than the sandwich bags and empty margarine tubs I used for his mommy. And then there are these incredibly no-spill cups by Gerber. I’ve seen these thrown, dropped, tilted, turned upside down and rolled around in purses and diaper bags without a single drop. Amazing! When I think of all the spillage and dribbles and puddles my two left behind, this advancement seems nothing short of miraculous. I never tire of pointing out to my daughter how good she has it now. “Back when you were a baby, I had to …” I’m sure she appreciates me sharing.


You know how people say, “Oh, you’ll love (fill in the blank)” and you just nod and smile and agree politely because how do you know you’ll love (fill in the blank) until you actually do/are/try (fill in the blank)? That’s how I was when people told me, “Oh, you’ll love being a grandma” — but after 53 weeks and some days of being one now, I can tell you: Those people were right! Read more at my weekly newspaper column, http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20090403/ARTICLES/904035000

Birthday Parties

Nolan Behel birthdayGrandson Capt. Adorable celebrated his first Dragon birthday cakebirthday in style, with even his Grandad John taking a break from sports news to wish him a happy one. In keeping with the whole dragon and little prince theme, the birthday boy got crowns on his T-shirt and bib, a dragon cake and a soft purple crown for his Nolan Behel first birthdayprecious baby head. The hit of the party, however, was Capt. Adorable’s discovery of balloons — or “oons” as we had to call them to avoid Nolan Behel first birthdaysetting off a frenzy. To celebrate the first-birthday occasion, balloons were everywhere — even festively tied on to his high chair. It was the first time he’d ever seen balloons close up and he was fascinated. When his mommy gave him one to hold, he clutched the ribbon tightly and would not turn loose as he spent almost a half hour tracing a joyous route from room to room. The joy stopped, however, when the balloon would drift up to the ceiling and the Capt.’s desperate wails brought the nearest tallest adult running over for retrieval. His smart mommy realized that getting him into his high chair for lunch amidst all the balloon decorations would not work at all, so she took him into another room while the co-conspirators removed all “oons”  and when he came back in distracted him with — what else? — cake. Success! “Oons” forgotten — for the time being, at least.

Family and Friends

One of my new favorite things is taking my almost 1-year-old grandson, Capt. Adorable, to the playground. He’s … well, adorable! Because he’s an early walker, he’s so much smaller than everybody else running around — it’s like his coordination hasn’t caught up yet with his little toddlin’ legs. He mainly stands and solemnly observes with that precious forehead crinkled in deep baby thought. You can just see him processing what he sees and thinking, “Oh, so you’re supposed to go up here and go down there. And move over when somebody else wants a turn. I get it!” He knows and loves the things he can reach — these chiming bells, a giant tic-tac-toe game of revolving x’s and o’s and the baby-sized swings and slides — and seems quite amused at this alien concept of sharing.


Danielle McCann PhotographyThese photos were taken by a young woman who’s starting her photography Danielle McCann Photographybusiness in Florence, Alabama, and I am so impressed both with her and her talent. Danielle McCann was friends with both my daughters when they were all in high school together — she and my older daughter were in the same class and she and my younger daughter shared the same goofy sense of humor. Since then, Danielle has started her professional photography business, gotten married and had a baby daughter who’s about the same age as my older daughter’s son. In fact, the two mommies have decided on an eventual arranged marriage between the kids and prepared the two families to become in-laws. Danielle snapped these shots when the babies had a play date together recently. Even though they’re just casual shots she didn’t set up, her talent and creativity show through. I’m so proud of these young people who have drive and determination and ambition, mixed with strong doses of integrity and optimism. When I look at my daughters and their friends and the stability and values they believe in, I know the future’s in good hands. Go to Danielle’s blog at http://dmccannphotography.blogspot.com/.