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.
Happy Birthday to my mom, also known in our family as “Grommy” — although I’ve forgotten which grand- or great-grandchild named her that. We gathered to celebrate her day along with other fall family birthdays a couple of weeks ago, and I started the thing I’ve been threatening to do for years: Wrap all presents in plain brown paper and then decorate accordingly. I have to admit that my mom’s birthday present was my first effort, and I think worked pretty well. It was fun, anyway. Her present was a wooden plaque
making fun of celebrating her preference to have a little coffee with her cream and sugar. I wrapped it up and then my 4 1/2-year-old grandson, Nolan, and I collected fall leaves from the yard — he liked the crackly brown ones best while I went for the pretty red and orange ones. We then carefully and meticulously taped the leaves to the top of the wrapped package and wrote our birthday message directly on the brown paper. Okay, that’s a big fat lie. The “careful and meticulous” part was purely Nolan, who scorned my haphazard design approach and spent several minutes A) planning a template for the leaves (“No, Kacky. The little red one should go HERE.”) and B) unrolling the tape edges that had folded back on themselves so we would have smooth and wrinkle-free strips. Plus, his handwriting on the “happy birthday” was better than mine. Obviously, one of us has artists for parents, and it’s not me. But I have a beautiful, talented, strong, loving, kind and smart mom — who always A) makes detailed plans before attempting a project and B) reuses and repairs things instead of throwing them out. Happy Birthday, Grommy! We love you!
Well, okay, I haven’t actually broken my computer. The universe broke my computer — that’s my story, anyway. What happened is that a week or so ago, I noticed it was ssssllllloooowwwwiiinnnggg down to an excruciatingly painful crawl and with my computer savvy born of years of unwittingly inviting viruses to take up residence I correctly deduced that I had acquired a bug. Took it to a computer place, they cleaned it up in a few days and gave it back. And in my eternal quest to save money, I vetoed the security package upgrade the computer guy offered me and simply said — and I quote — “Oh, just go with the basic free one and I’ll buy the upgrade later.” Yes, I actually said those words. Learn from my mistake, friends: NEVER do that. Because, in the karmic way of the universe, three days after I got my computer back and before I could hand over extra money for extra protection, I got hit with an even more vicious bug that effectively blocked me out of everything but endless games of Spider Solitaire. So my long-suffering beloved laptop is at another computer place for thorough cleaning — and I’ve already told the guy to load it up with every piece of security he can. And although I believe in the mantra of “never explain, never complain” — – No, really, I do — I wanted you all to know what I haven’t posted lately. My equally long-suffering husband is graciously sharing his laptop with me, but it’s just not the same. So, what’s been happening around here the past few days?
- Younger Daughter turned 25. This seems extremely unbelievable to me –that my baby girl is 25. I’m beginning to understand why my parents look at me and say, “We cannot believe you are 54.”
- As a result of being
too enthusiastic and optimisticstupid, I agreed to write press releases for several non-profit events within the span of one week. Luckily, none of them got shorted — I procrastinated equally on each of them.
- Husband and I were scheduled for health screenings at his workplace, and as we were getting ready that morning and he caught me weighing my clothes, I had to explain to him the fine art of dressing for the scales. He was
- Here in Mississippi, we’re watching the disintegration of our two SEC football seasons while in neighboring Alabama the Tide rolls on. I am not happy.
- With the arrival of our second grandson — 3 1/2-year-old Capt. Adorable’s younger brother — a mere month away, I keep a packed ready-to-go bag in my car at all times and am in constant Grandma Alert mode. Every time Older Daughter calls, she says, “It’s not time yet” before she even says “hello.”
For the past few days, we’ve had storm evacuees at our house: Older Daughter with our son-in-law and 3-year-old grandson, Capt. Adorable. Their neighborhood in Huntsville, Alabama, lost power and water from this past week’s deadly storms, so they headed east to stay with family for a few days. Husband JP and I got to have them first! Oh my cookies, you know it was blissdom to have the Captain (and his parents, of course) at our house. We played trains. We looked for trains. We crashed the wagon. (This only means I pull him around town in the red wagon I pulled his mom around in 25 years ago and I go really, really fast. When appropriate, of course.) We walked to the drugstore for an ice cream cone. We went to the doughnut shop and bought doughnuts. We chased the kitty cats. We ate oranges. We cracked pistachios. He taught me how to play Dinosaur Train games on the computer. He showed me a “castle” I didn’t even know was in our town. We went to the park. We went to a playground. We jumped, bounced, slid, tickled, crab-walked, ran and swung. I didn’t have time to do official workouts while they were here, but every morning I felt as if I’d done Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, Level No. 3. Twice. Consecutively. But also I got unlimited kisses, hugs and flowers from the Captain. It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a gorgeous bunch of hand-picked blossoms. That’s worth a few aches and pains, I think. And at the end of a week when unbelievably violent weather has, tragically, ripped families apart, I’m humbly grateful that it brought our family together in safety.
I love writing about our 2-1/2-year-old grandson, Capt. Adorable. I mean, he’s the smartest, cutest, most adorable genius baby ever. E.V.E.R. So of course you want to read all about him, don’t you? In fact, I’d be remiss in my journalistic responsibility if I didn’t keep you posted about the Captain’s doings. Also: All my friends are starting to roll their eyes and think of things they suddenly have to do when I inevitably start conversations with, “Oh my gosh y’all will not believe what Capt. Adorable did the other day and I just have to tell you …” So thank goodness I have both a newspaper column AND a blog so that I can bore you share all the adorability. Such as this week’s column, which is a visit to the strange and wonderful place called Two-Year-Old Land. Although, in the interest of keeping things family-rated, I didn’t talk about the somewhat disturbing bathroom habits of the native population, and I also forgot to caution against drinking the water, especially if it’s in a Thomas the Train cup that’s leftover from lunch. You have been warned.
When our friend couldn’t wait to tell us that she was going to be a grandma for the first time, the three of us couldn’t wait to start planning a surprise shower for her. We sneakily scheduled the party for our regular book-club night and pulled off the surprise with style — she truly never saw it coming. Other than her face when she realized what was happening — priceless! — the best thing about our shower was the decor. My friend who volunteered her home for the book-club meeting/surprise baby shower created a baby-boy-blue wonderland that we all oohed and ahhed over and didn’t want to leave. (And now I really should drop the pretense that we talked about the book that night, although we did spend a couple of minutes on it, I think.) She’s a master at using things she already has — mixing vintage with contemporary — to set the mood and then adding her own special touches. Her blue-frosted cupcakes were don’t-let-a-single-crumb-go-to-waste good. And when she kicked off the evening with a pitcher full of yummy icy-blue goodness to sip before we sat down to a cool and refreshing chicken-salad supper, we knew we were in good hands as we welcomed our friend into the Sisterhood of Really Cool Grandmas. And you can join, too, as long as you have Really Cute Grandchildren. And don’t we all? Plus, we’ll even waive the iniation rite of having to sing all verses of the “Thomas the Tank Engine” song.
- Ten Tips for Planning a Unique Baby Shower (mythoughtsideasandramblings.com)
- Unique Homemade Baby Shower Gifts & Ideas | Babies-N-Butterflies (babies-n-butterflies.com)
These two guys on the left reading the classic “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” share not one iota of DNA – but they sure look alike, don’t they? Okay, except maybe for the hair. But they’re both concentrating mightily on their book and I think they even have the same look on their faces, as if they can’t wait to see what happens on the next page. (Spoiler alert: Five fish, six fish, seven fish, more!) My dear husband very very rarely uses the word “step” when he talks about the two daughters he got when he married me six years ago — they are his family and that’s all there is to it. So it tickled him when grandson Capt. Adorable, now 2, was younger and balder and people who didn’t know would say, “Oh, y’all look so much alike!” Sort of like the picture on the right of the Captain and my dad, his great-grandfather, taken when the Captain was only a few months old. He was fascinated with my dad’s watch and would do his best to eat it — and my dad loved every minute of it. Couldn’t get enough Now, Dad takes him on John Deere gator rides and they “talk” tractors. Lucky baby to have such loving men in his life — and that’s not counting his own dad and other grand- and great-grandfathers and uncles and great-uncles. I’m lucky that way, too. And you, also, I bet. Happy Father’s Day!
Although I’ve never liked any kind of meringue pie, I adore meringues — those crunchy bits of pillowy slow-baked egg-white goodness. Maybe it’s because my maternal grandmother always had a reused (I don’t think we would use the word “recycled” 40 years ago) coffee can full of them when we’d drive up from Tennessee to visit her and my grandpa in southern Illinois. I assume that with her Depression-honed frugalness, she made them from leftover egg whites — although I don’t remember her making anything especially yolk-centric. Anyway, to keep me from embarrassing her by buying four containers of store-made meringues at once, Younger Daughter has perfected her recipe and technique for homemade meringues. They’re so much better and better-for-you than store-bought. Her great-grandmother would be proud.
Then fold in 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract and some grated vanilla bean. Put half egg-white mixture into a plastic gallon food-storage bag and cut one of the corners off. Squeeze dollops of the mixture onto a parchment- or wax-paper covered baking sheet. For chocolate meringues, add 1 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder and mini chocolate chips to remaining egg-white batter and repeat. Bake at a low temperature — 225 degrees — for about one hour. They’ll be yummy but still a bit chewy. Then turn oven off and let sit overnight or for several more hours to dry out. Just remember to take them out of the oven before turning the oven on for something else. I’m just saying. Anyway, I could eat a whole pan of these at one sitting. They’re really easy and fun and have no fat in them whatsoever. And I still can taste the grandmother-love in them, along with daughter-love. That is one powerful combination.
I got to go to a pumpkin farm for the first time ever this past week — and I loved it! When my now 20-something daughters were little, agri-tourism had not yet made the news and farms were something you wanted to get away from, not pay money to spend an afternoon there. But at 18 months, grandson Capt. Adorable is ready this fall for his first pumpkin experience and I was lucky enough to go along with him and his mom and dad. We visited Tate Farms in Meridianville, Alabama (on the east side of Huntsville) and as soon as we stepped out of the car, the Captain was wriggling with delight. It was like the wide open running spaces, inviting playground equipment, oh-so-cute baby animals and piles of brightly colored pumpkins and gourds had been created just for him. In fact, he was in such constant motion, I had a hard time getting photos — he hasn’t quite grasped the notion of photo ops yet. At the Pumpkin Shack that was set up for proud-parent and -grandparent photos, he was more interested in dismantling the rows of pumpkins than in posing for the camera. But Grandma snapped away, anyway! Find out more about Tate Farms at http://www.tatefarmspumpkins.com/