Tag Archives: “We’re Mom’s Too” series

We’re Grandmas Too: Grandmas Are for Spoiling

Grandmas are for spoiling

Here at Step2, not only are we moms but we are also grandparents who love spending time with our grandchildren.  There are many stories we look forward to sharing with you with our installation of “We’re Grandmas Too” which is a series based off of “We’re Moms Too.” We look forward to sharing the love, joy, and laughs being a grandparents brings.

by Maria Isabella

My middle daughter (the one who was so kind to bear the only grandchildren I have so far even though I have five adult children, ahem) called me about a month ago. “Mom, I have some frequent flyer miles that are going to expire soon,” she said. “Would you mind watching the kids while I take a little vacation to visit (name of her oldest sister who lives in California)?”

What? Are you kidding me?! Would I mind spending time and playing with my adorable little grandkids who live out-of-state and who I hardly ever get to see?

“Of course, honey!” I shot back without even a nanosecond of hesitation.

“Oh, and I forgot to mention,” she continued. “(Name of her husband) will be out of town, too. He’s got to go on a business trip the same time I’ll be gone.”

Now I have to confess, this gave me slight pause. Three young children (ages 5, 3, and 1)…24 hours a day…for 8 days…all by myself. (Remember, I’m no spring chicken. And I did skip some of my gym sessions recently. Ok, maybe all of them. But only for a little while. Ok, maybe for about five years.)

All of a sudden, I got a little nervous. (Who am I kidding? I got a lot nervous!) Did I have the strength and stamina to keep up with them? Would they miss their parents? And how in heaven’s name would I manage to finagle those darn car seat straps on my own?

Don’t panic, I said to myself. I figured if I could just keep them all out of the hospital and the house from burning down, we would be ok. After all, I knew my daughter wanted this break. Nay, needed this break. It’s a lot of hard work raising young children, and it’s good for a young mom to get away every once in a while.

“Oh, I’ll be fine!” I said, perhaps a little too enthusiastically.

The day finally came for me to start my babysitting gig. But there were rules. “Don’t spoil them too much,” my daughter instructed. “Try to keep them on schedule. No junk food. And whatever you do, don’t let them walk all over you.”

“Ok, bye honey! Have a good time!” was my weak response.

You see, I’m a pushover…especially when it comes to my grandchildren. I just look at their beautiful little faces and I simply melt. In fact, I become putty in their hands. Pure putty, I tell you. And they know it.

So I did my best. I really did. I didn’t spoil them…too much. I kept them on schedule…pretty much. I didn’t feed them junk food…at least not too often. (Does whipped cream out of a can count? It is a dairy product after all!) And I didn’t let them walk all over me…at least not most of the time anyway.

We also did some pretty fun things together.

lego

We built super-duper stuff out of Legos.

picture

We colored neat pictures of boats and ships and things that go toot-toot.

rainboots

We took nice, long walks.

swinging

We went to an awesome neighborhood park.bubbles

We blew lots and lots of bubbles (outside).

ball

We played ball.

flowers

We planted beautiful flowers.

bowling

We went bowling and even got a couple strikes.

swimming

We went to swimming lessons.

pancakes

We made healthy, organic pancakes.

breakfast

We set the table real nice.

popcorn

We made (lots and lots of) popcorn.

movies

We watched both funny and classic (G-rated) movies.

books

We read many great books.

bath

We splashed in really sudsy, bubbly bubble baths.

And we cuddled. A lot.

The kids and I enjoyed a very busy week. There were no meltdowns. No traumas. No broken bones or burnt houses (allowing me to achieve my goal). In fact, we had a fantastic time together and grew much closer, if that’s even possible. But I have to admit I was truly bone-tired by the end of my stint. “How does she do it?” I would ask myself of my daughter as my head hit the pillow every night.

When my daughter finally came back home, she literally sprinted up the stairs to hug her kids. Which made me quite happy. You see, even though I really wanted her to have a good time, I didn’t want her to have too good a time, if you know what I mean. In other words, I didn’t want her to suddenly think she was missing out on other things while raising her children as a stay-at-home mom.

Quite the contrary. Even though she enjoyed her trip very much, she truly and genuinely could not wait to return. She was rejuvenated, refreshed, and renewed. She was ready to be back with her children and continue parenting again.

Sometimes all a young mother needs is a little break once in a while. It doesn’t have to involve jet setting across the country (although that certainly is also very nice). Maybe just an hour or two for a manicure at the local beauty shop. Or a cup of tea at the corner café. Or a chick flick with a friend at the neighborhood theatre.

A few hours can and will make a world of difference. I should know. I raised five children who were all less than two years apart — and that’s all I wished for some days.

So if you’re a busy mom who sometimes feels a little overwhelmed or underappreciated, please don’t be afraid to ask for a break. Let a kind and willing neighbor babysit for a few hours. Take a friend up on her offer to exchange playdates. Or by all means, call your mom (or mother-in-law).

I’m so glad my daughter called me. I hope she’ll call again. But first, I need to go renew my gym membership.

This post was written by Maria Isabella. Maria is a mother, grandmother, published author, and award-winning writer with over 30 years’ experience in the advertising, marketing, and publishing industries.

The Joys of Being a Grandparent

Being a grandparent has all the joys of being a parent without the stress and discipline. When my daughter was in the hospital getting ready to deliver her first child, my first grandchild, I was fortunate to be present. I experienced all the feelings of a first time parent without the labor pains.

When my grandson was born I spent a week at my daughter’s to help with the new baby.   Well, actually I  took care of all the house chores while my daughter and son-in-law took care of all the baby’s needs but I did get a lot of one on one time with my new grandson. My grandson now calls me Nonna which is Italian for Grandma.

Because they live about 2 ½ hours away, I don’t get to see my grandson on a daily basis but we manage to see each other about once a month, sometimes they come up to stay with us but most times I travel to Columbus for a weekend stay.  I don’t mind the 2+ hour drive down but the drive back always seems longer and not as exciting.

Being a grandparent means you get to spoil and break some (or most) of the rules. For example:  My grandson loves chocolate chip cookies especially home made. My daughter and son in law have a two cookie rule.  When I babysit he usually manages to get three cookies (sometimes four) especially when he looks at me with those big baby blue eyes and says “One more, Nonna? one more?” Bedtime is always at least an hour later than normal.  After all you can’t send the little guy to bed when he’s having so much fun.

While visiting this past weekend, we made a trip to the park on Saturday and spent Sunday at the Columbus Zoo for Boo at the Zoo.  My grandson went as a fireman, a very handsome fireman. For some reason I was up at 6:44AM on Sunday! I was probably excited about going to the zoo, so I decided to sneak down stairs and clean up the kitchen from the night before and start the coffee, when I heard a small voice upstairs say “Is that my Nonna?”  my heart melted.

I’m hoping to have the little one spend a week with me next summer so I can really spoil him.

I ran across a couple quotes that explain it all:

“The idea that no one is perfect is a view most commonly held by people with NO grandchildren.”

Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old

To all you grandparents out there, what do you think the most rewarding part of being a grandparent is?

 

Sara is a mother of four. She has two daughters – Jamie age 35 and Taylor age 16 – and two sons – Justin age 20 and Christopher age 14. She is also a grandmother of one – Andrew age 3. She lives in Mantua, Ohio with her husband Bill. She has worked at Step2 for the past 12 years (before that she was a stay at home mom for 9 years). Sara is the Operations Manager for Step2 Direct internet sales.

Empathy Revealed

A mom shares the emotional growth of her six year old

I’ve never really found the words empathetic or emotive as words that describe my six year old son Alex. Caring, kind, funny, charismatic and observant are all great descriptors of my curly-haired boy. Empathetic and emotionally expressive, well, maybe not so much.

Alex has always been very practical and logical. When he was born, he wouldn’t cry and this was concerning to the physicians as they needed him to cry to clear his lungs. He eventually did (on his own timeline). However, it was almost as if he waited because he didn’t see the point of crying when he wasn’t upset.

A couple of years ago, I asked Alex to snuggle with me as we watched television. Knowing that he would be reluctant, I told him I was cold and he could keep me warm. He considered my request, scooted down next to me on the couch, snuggled for a few minutes and then promptly stated “you’re warm enough now” and returned to his former spot.

He has never been the type of child to be overly affectionate or empathetic. For example, if I’m ill, he’s likely to say, “Mom, you should go to the doctor” and this response will only be triggered after I complain of a cough, sore throat, cold, etc. It’s not that his responses are inappropriate. They just aren’t overly empathetic. Having been around young nieces who were very expressive, I think I have a tendency to expect this from Alex. I’ve kept my fingers crossed that he would grow into his inner empath. And, I think he finally is (again, on his own timeline).

Recently, Alex and his friend were playing with their toys guns. As they prepared to go outside, I overheard his friend say, “I don’t want to take my gun outside.” I heard Alex reply, “that’s ok, I’ll cover you.” I found his response quite funny at first and then I realized that he was looking after his friend through their imaginative play.

About a month ago, we had to put our German Shepherd, Ember, down. The news of her illness was a surprise and it was less than two weeks from the time that I learned something was wrong until her final ultrasound showed that she had a very aggressive form of cancer; the kindest thing to do was put her down. I wasn’t sure how Alex would take the news.

As I explained that Em was sick and wouldn’t get better, he listened attentively. Knowing that she would likely be put down that day, I told Alex that she probably would not be home when he came home from school. I explained that she was going to die soon and I was going to take her to the vet. I suggested that he say goodbye to her and tell her what a good dog she had been. He didn’t respond and just watched me. I asked him if he understood and he said “yes” and then motioned with his hand to wave me out of the room so that he could be alone with the dog.

I’ll never know what he said to her in their moments alone. If he patted her on the head, gave her a hug or just looked at her. But, he clearly wanted a mom-free moment with her and knowing this, I didn’t ask him about the time they shared.

That afternoon when I picked Alex up from school I told him that Em was gone and that we could talk about it if he wanted. I told him that I was sad and that we would miss her. Alex was quiet and, knowing that he probably wouldn’t share his feelings, I told him that if he wanted to look at her pictures later, he could. A few hours later, he asked me to see her photos.

A couple of weeks passed without him initiating any conversation about her. One day he brought home a paper where he had to complete a thought. The sentence started with, “I wish.” Alex finished the thought by adding, “that I had a dog.” While saddened, it warmed my heart to know that he did think of her and that he had expressed that thought in writing according to his own timeline.

About Tiffany

Tiffany is the mother of a curly haired six year old boy who wants to be Batman when he grows up! When she is not engaged in an intense light saber battle, watching Transformers (cartoons and movies), asking her child not to jump from the top step or being told, “you’re playing action figures the wrong way, mom” she contemplates how wonderful it would be if her child were a twin or triplet. Tiffany is the Human Resources Manager for Step2.

Dedication to the New-Age Grandparents

Grandparents are parents too and they help us raise kids. My in-laws had a grandparent play date and that’s when I realized grand parenting is not what it used to be! They take the kids everywhere and do things I never did with my grandparents. My grandparents had friends named “Mr. Early” and “Bud” and we slept over at Christmas. My kids go to pick pumpkins, go to the movies, and go to TJ Maxx to pick out toys. They also have grandparent play dates with their grandchildren. The grand parenting books that I have seen show white haired grandmothers with glasses. However, that is not what grandparents look like anymore and I love it. They are not old; they are seasoned at parenting and have tons of fun with their grandchildren.

I have heard several grandparents describe the love they have for their grandchildren. They don’t go as far as saying their love their grandchildren more than their kids but they express something they can’t quite put words to – about how much they love their children’s children.  It’s a love they can’t imagine until they become grandparents.   There’s no discipline, no stress of getting things done and in order – just love and fun. Now that’s something to look forward to.

 

 

I have to share one more grand parenting story that touched my heart and I’ll remember until I become one. It’s the power of a name – the power of being named after someone. My friend and colleague, Fred, recently became a grandparent, specifically in April. Fred had lost his wonderful wife and best friend, Kathy (“Kate”), five years ago to cancer. So she was not able to witness the birth of their first grandchild. Fred was ecstatic and blessed to be able to be at the hospital when his granddaughter was born.  He was ushered into the room where his daughter-in-law and son had just welcomed their first born daughter. He was then introduced to “Kate,” his granddaughter. Kate was named after her grandmother!

Grandparents love hearing all of the silly stories that parents love telling and they make those stories fun to share. Stories of first words, rolling over, jokes, first days of school little details are not lost on grandparents.

So, thank you grandparents, the new version of grandparents that have play-dates, still have pony-tails and ride bikes… the grandparents of 2012, the day of “middle-age” grandparents.

 

About Sara S.

Sara is an on the go – down to earth Momma, married to a Marine and the mother of two get dirty wild and crazy, play in the mud boys. She loves Michael Jackson, dancing and spending time with her family. She is honored to be able to teach her little guys about the world around them, about kindness love and the human spirit. For fun, she loves to make jewelry, shop, ski and spend time outdoors getting dirty with her boys. Sara is a Sr. Product Manager at Step2.

To Decorate or Not – That is the Question

I am the first to admit that Martha Stewart I am not.  Making large dinners is not my thing.  Actually, making any dinner is not really my thing.  My husband cooks for himself and I cook for myself (that is what happens when one of us is carnivore and the other a veg head).  My husband does his laundry and I do mine.  We split meals for our little one and also split laundry duty for daily wardrobe changes.  However, one domestic task I have always enjoyed is decorating for the holidays.

I think the love of decorating the house was passed on by my Mom (who also enjoys cooking, cleaning and laundry so I’m not quite sure why the decorating bug stuck with me).  She was the queen of window stickies and we would decorate our sliding glass and front door with new designs every month.  She also had a small decorative tree that she kept out year round.  We would decorate it for all of the major holidays including Valentine’s Day, St. Patty’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.  It was so much fun for us growing up, but I now realize how much work that must have been!

I don’t have stickies for every month nor do I have a year round tree that stays up, but boy do I have a lot of Halloween decorations.  Many of my decorations, I inherited from my Grandma when she passed a few years ago.  She loved Halloween.  In fact, her and my Grandfather married on Halloween.  I’ve absorbed the love of the holiday from her and that day also marks my hubby’s birthday so we normally go all out.  Three foot tall witches and scarecrows, dancing skeletons, pumpkin string lights, blinged out Jack-O-Lanterns, and cauldrons typically fill our house from October 1st through November 1st.  However, this year, I am thinking about not decorating for the first time since I’ve been married.

My favorite little boy is now 14 months old and minutes away from walking. The thought of giving him so many extra opportunities and objects to get into (and for us to clean up) sounds about as appealing to me as making Thanksgiving dinner.  I also don’t know if all of these props, which are life sized to him, will scare the daylights out of him.  Plus, are they choking hazards?  I hadn’t even thought about choking hazards!

I know there is a school of thought out there that as parents, you should keep doing what you always have done, tell your little ones no, and ensure that they will listen to you.  I’m just not sure if I subscribe to that school of thought.   I think my belief is more along the lines of avoiding melt downs and toddler tantrum traps if at all possible.  Just like I know that bringing my little dude on an afternoon shopping trip at nap time is not going to go well, I think it might be a smart idea to sit out on the decorating fun this year.

Before becoming a Mom, these were not the things I pondered.  I knew that the most important part of being a parent is to raise a happy, healthy and independent adult, but that is big picture.  The devil is surely in the details and I never realized that the option of decorating the house vs. not decorating is a big decision with the possibility of equally big consequences.

So now I have to know (so I can judge myself against you J) – did you/do you change the way you decorate for the holidays to accommodate your one year old?

 

About Tena

Tena and her best friend (and hubby) had their first child in July, 2011. Their little guy has a congenital heart defect and he is one tough little cookie; don’t ever think about calling him sick though – “his plumbing is just different.” Tena is an animal loving vegetarian and is excited to teach her son about compassion and the importance of volunteer work. She secretly hopes her son will be left handed like his momma. She is the Online Marketing Director for Step2.

Raising Girls vs Raising Boys

Having raised, or in the process of raising, two girls and two boys, I get asked “which one is easier boys or girls?” I can only answer this question using my own personal experience and observation. I should also add that it also depends on their individual personalities.

I’ve often heard girls mature faster than boys. I will have to agree with that statement. I have a 16 year old daughter who thinks she’s 21 and a 21 year old son, who acts like he’s 16.

Here are just a few of the differences:

GIRLS:
As infants both my girls were criers and very fussy. However, my girls were easier to potty train.

When they were younger and had play dates, they loved playing dress up, playing house, playing with dolls, mimicking words and dance steps to most popular song at the time, laughing and giggling. At the end of each play date, they were more affectionate by hugging each other goodbye.

Heading into their teen years there was a great deal of drama. In my house it started at age 13 and ends?? Well, I am not exactly sure when it end. It seems like everything is a crisis these days. They are more likely to share their feelings and go into details. There’s always drama.Whatever is going on good or bad you’ll know about it. Who said what and why and who’s mad at whom is usually the topic of conversation.

Going along with sharing feeling, my girls are more sociable. They like making new friends. They have friends that come and go and some come back again.

Also, my girls are by far more expensive. They love to shop! Shopping with my daughters always turns into a whole day excursion. We must hit almost every store at the mall. I enjoy shopping with my daughters. It keeps me in the loop on the latest fashion. And of course, we always make time to stop at a favorite restaurant for lunch.

BOYS:

My boys were content just being with Mom. They were a lot more energetic as toddlers.

When they were younger they would start out playing a friendly game of basketball, baseball, kickball, soccer, etc. Next thing you know, they are wrestling on the ground, punching each other or using sticks or any other object they can find to turn into a type of weapon. This happened every time they had a friend or group of boys over. It always ended in rough-housing.

My boys are introverts for the most part. They prefer to have one or two very close friends.They’ve had the same friends for years. When I ask if “Is everything okay?,” I usually get the same response “everything’s fine!” When I do get them to open up they are not full of details.

Shopping with the boys is always short and sweet. They know what stores they want to buy what at and where to find it. We are in and out. They don’t like to linger. They don’t like to go shopping unless they have to. I also enjoy shopping with my boys. It’s a good one-on-one time to pry some information out of them.

You’ve heard the saying momma’s boy and daddy’s girl! Well, that holds true in our house.

About Sara R.

Sara is a mother of four. She has two daughters – Jamie age 35 and Taylor age 16 – and two sons – Justin age 20 and Christopher age 14. She is also a grandmother of one – Andrew age 3. She lives in Mantua, Ohio with her husband Bill. She has worked at Step2 for the past 12 years (before that she was a stay at home mom for 9 years). Sara is the Operations Manager for Step2 Direct internet sales.