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I haven’t forgotten…..

// November 10th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

I had no idea I’d have this much trouble finishing the post on teens! It wasn’t very long ago that my home was full of teen-agers…mine and many others. But when writing gets tucked between sewing {I got Cannon’s quilt finished!}, online classes {I’m only one lesson behind}, and housekeeping {oh, who am I trying to kid?}, it’s hard to keep a thought long enough to commit it to paper.
But, God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I’ll finish and post it by Monday.

Oh…I’ve also been very busy grandmothering!

How to Like Your Kid(s) p4 ~ School Years

// November 3rd, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

     His world just got a whole lot bigger, expanding into a realm that doesn’t revolve around you. Be involved in this new world. Although it’s next to impossible for moms and dads who work outside the home to volunteer at school, if you’re able, as little as an hour a week or chaperoning an occasional field trip can go a long way to help you see into this world. If you can’t go to the class to help, maybe the teacher can send a small project to you. Some teachers go the extra {hundred} miles for their students and appreciate help with cutting, grading, or gathering extra supplies. There’s an extra dimension of closeness when you know what’s going on at your kids’ school.

     You’ve just barreled in from your outside job, dinner is a mere question in your mind, and the laundry languishes in the basket? Instead of rushing headlong into the work, take a five- or ten-minute Family-Flop-Break—everyone who’s home, get comfy on the sofa or flop onto the bed. Ask questions. “What’s the coolest thing you learned today?” or “What did you do at recess today?” Ask questions that “yes” or “no” won’t fit.
     Now’s no time for sitting around! Or is it? A few minutes of talking about the day can save time-consuming whining from all of you as the night wears thin. After your FFB,  talking about the day {or whatever},  while making dinner together gives even more time to share, and tuck in a few covert lessons along the way.

     One way our family chose to stay close was homeschool. I know it’s not for everyone, and I’m not sure I could have done it for seventeen years without the county office of home education program. They provided books and workshops for our Kindergarten through eighth graders. If you’ve ever thought about home schooling, research it first. I talked with experienced friends and read several books. Homeschooling for Excellence by Colfax was my favorite. (It’s still in print.) If you decide to go for it—your first year is not a reliable yardstick. It takes time to figure out each other’s learning and teaching styles. Also, don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of work. You have a year and many avenues to the same destination. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post!
 Jae (blue flowered shorts set) getting into a Dance & Sing Workshop at our homeschool


How to Like your Kid(s) 3 ~ Pre-School

// November 1st, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

     Sometime between two and four, we see that our baby isn’t a toddler anymore, but a walking, talking preschooler! How the heck did that happen?

     Break out the Candyland, small playground balls, and crayons and paper. At first, she will NOT follow the rules of the game. It’s an emerging alien concept. The part about taking turns at mixing bowl in the kitchen {might} get transferred to the game board—but counting squares will take longer to grasp. I pretty much let the little ones wander all over the board, even when we play with the older ones. It’s a good lesson for the big kids. “See where you used to be? Wow! You sure have grown!” usually, the little ones wander back and forth to play with something else before the game’s over, and that’s okay, too.

     Contrary to popular 70s tradition, I love coloring books. As they get older, we talk about tracing and staying in the lines, but there’s something beautiful about a scribbled up page, too.
I was so strict with my first one, that I didn’t give him doodling material. At four, he took one of my small tablets and a pen from the kitchen counter, making tiny multi-circles all over many of the pages. My friend saw it. “I can imagine him furtively glancing over his shoulder while he did this.” Live and learn. After that, I bought kids their own art supplies. I kept paper and pen {along with a few matchbox cars}in my purse for unexpected boring times, too.

     By now, there might be a sibling in the house. Big brother or sister can be lots of “help” fetching clean diapers, checking on baby, and singing to him. There are sure to be moments of jealousy, but they don’t have to dominate the house. While nursing it’s easy to snuggle with your bigger “baby” and read a story, or even tell a story {maybe about when she was a baby}. While Nick (#3) napped, I often asked Amy what she wanted to do. “Play Barbies!” We stretched out on the living room floor, play-acting with Barbie, Skipper, and the crew.
     When Amy’s second child was a napping toddler, there was so much to do, and some things she didn’t feel like doing with Kirstie. I finally confessed, “Remember when we played Barbies while Nick napped?”
“Yeah! I loved that!”
“Well, I really hated playing Barbies!”
“Oh! I never knew.” She got the point. Sometimes we sacrifice what we want to put time into the bank of Relationship. It pays greater dividends than an hour on the sofa reading.

     Don’t get me wrong. We NEED the reading/crafting/whatever ME time, too. Without enough ME we can’t give to THEM. But we have to find the balance between the two. And giving a block of one-on-one time goes a long way in easing jealousies.

Not really representative of the post, but it IS a brother and sister having fun. 🙂

Amy-4, Nick-2 at the Del Mar Fair…1980 



// October 31st, 2012 // 2 Comments » // Uncategorized

No matter what you’ve heard, don’t believe the myth of the terrible twos. Every age has its difficulties—but those are far-outweighed by its joys. When (if) tantrums come, take him to his own quiet place {not too far from you…hearing your voice and activity is reassuring}. A living room chair or a corner you can see are good choices. {I once put my 10-year-old son in an obscure corner of the living room and forgot him for more than an hour! Poor kid never said a word…} On the way, use your normal, calm tone, “When you’re finished, you can come back.” It’s up to him how long he’s there. He’s not going to understand all of this yet, but soon he’ll figure out that tantrums separate him from the fun.
~ A good rule of thumb for time out is one minute per age of the child.~

    Have you started reading to her yet? She probably enjoys a few favorite books by now, even when she’s rushing ahead in the familiar story. I used to get exasperated with my first toddler. He asked questions, pushing at the pages forward and back as I droned the story to him. “Do you want to hear the story or not!?” Luckily, my dad was in the room one night during story time. 
     “That’s not how you read to a kid!” He grabbed the book from me. “Come here, Steve.” Dad proceeded to read the story, but his delivery had feeling! Our family’s experience of story time forever changed. My kids particularly loved the different characters’ voices. Sesame Street’s Grover was my favorite to mimic, especially in The Monster at the End of This Book.

     Pull a step stool into the kitchen. Toddlers love to help cook {even though it’s extra work and not much help at all. But it beats plopping him in front of the TV and wondering if he’s staying there}. At first, you’ll have to make up jobs for them, like stirring a little bowl of flour you won’t really use. When they really do start helping me with the prep, we take turns. He mixes the dry ingredients together, and then I have a turn. The whisk passes back and forth until the job’s finished. None of them have ever figured out that they aren’t doing a real job. We’re just sharing. And the whole time we’re talking—about the food, the day, whatever comes to mind.
     Five-year-old Owen has been our sous chef so long, he reminds me to wash my hands and hang clean towels on our shoulders. Cooking is always more fun when I have my little helpers!

Jax with his own lump of dough while we make bisuuits.

Yes we baked his, and they were delicious!

Next ~ Preschoolers!



// October 30th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

I’m trying something new here…a series. Fun! It’s a class assignment; post every day for a week. I have trouble posting once a week, so this will be a challenge. But here we go—on a topic near and dear to my heart. Liking your children.


Your kids. Gotta love ‘em. Even though we don’t always like them. A few habits can go a long way in helping us grow a likeable person.

     *The first chore of childcare is actually an opportunity to show this new little human that you enjoy her company. Diaper changing. Whether it’s a pee or a poop, I see parents rushing through this quality time with baby.
     Instead, before even unpinning un-taping the diaper, tell her what you’re doing. “Uh-oh! Someone needs a change. Let’s get that done before you start to get an owie on your bum.” If it’s a poop, remind her, “That’s okay. Everybody poops!” This isn’t a one-way chat. Give little pauses. Listen. Look into her eyes. In no time, she’ll be joining you. Count the tapes as you attach the diaper. Count the toes inside her socks. Count her legs as you stuffed them into her pants slide the pants back on. Idle conversation during changing time might be a foundation for sharing thoughts with your teens—but let’s not rush ahead, yet.
     Don’t be in a hurry to get through a disagreeable task. Diaper changing is an act of love—real quality time.
    * It’s never too early to start reading to baby. At a month old, my grandson Jax calmed down when his mom or dad read to him during poison hour. {You know that time of day—the same time every day, that baby gets cranky—usually dinnertime. Oh yeah. Poison hour.} Jax especially loved RunawayBunny in the deeper timbre of his daddy’s voice. It didn’t work every time, of course, but it didn’t hurt, either.
      During Poison Hour when our kids were little, my husband liked to carry them outside, explaining things like the sun’s energy making the boulders around our yard warm and about trees eating the same sun light to grow. {“That’s called Photosynthesis.”}
     Our kids didn’t grow up to be rocket scientists. They didn’t understand these things at the time. But they have grown up to be people we like… 

It’s never to early to include them in family conversations! Here’s Robyn, our fifth of five, less than 30 minutes old with her big sis, Jae. (December 31, 1989) That night when the fireworks started exploding, I whispered to her, “Oh, listen! Everyone is so excited you’re finally here. The whole world’s having a big party!” A story I told her six more times.
At seven, she learned about New Year’s Eve.
                                She hasn’t quite forgiven me yet…..


{Next ~ Toddlers!}


Museum Buddies

// October 27th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

One of our family’s favorite places, and a true San Diego treasure, is Balboa Park.
Last time Amy and I went {with nine kids} we spent the morning at Ruben H Fleet Science Center. My kids grew up with frequent trips to the Fleet. As a grandparent, annual passes are a great bargain, and all the kids can come with me. There’s always something new, or something we missed on our last visit, or a favorite exhibit we return to again and again.
Jax was already a veteran visitor to Balboa Park, but this was Zeke’s first expedition. A wealth of visual and auditory sensations awaited him. This outing, instead of trying to keep track of all the kids ourselves, we buddied each of the older kids with a younger cousins. Why hadn’t we thought of this before? With Kenzie strapped to her mom, four buddy-pairs toured the Science Center. The one-on-one attention offered the little ones even more fun, and the older ones saw it from a child’s view again.

Buddies for the day….
Amy and Kenzie just hanging out
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Shaking the big ball side-to-side makes the marble on the inside spin around the big ball’s circumference. It takes only a little motion to transfer enough energy to make the marble whirl around the big ball. Zeke’s eyes nearly whirled around inside his head!

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Fallon and Jax have fun playing with perception.
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Kirstie and Owen experience energy transference

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 Josh and Ethan take a spin

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Fallon, Zeke, Kyle, Owen, Jax, Kirstie, Josh, & Ethan

Can’t wait to go back!








And Cannon Makes 14

// October 20th, 2012 // 2 Comments » // Uncategorized

On October 17, after the perfect storm of labor, our fourteenth grandbaby arrived. A life-long (and pregnancy-long) hypertensive, the doctor induced Jae’s labor to keep both Mom and Baby safe. {Pitocin induction makes for an intense labor.} With Baby facing “sunny side up,” Mom had back labor, too. {If you haven’t had back labor, consider yourself blessed among women. It’s so much more painful!} Then, Jae’s first epidural failed, something her doc had never seen.

But through the exaggerated pain, Jae never begged for a C-section and did not try to pull Sean’s bottom lip over his head. {Please see Bill Cosby: Himself for a full explanation. You won’t regret it.} As a team, they brought Baby into the world au-natural {plus the pharmaceuticals, of course}.

We didn’t know if they were expecting a boy or a girl. Even bribes by aunties itching to buy gender-specific baby clothes didn’t sway mom and dad to find out. After Kenzie and Quinn, I was hoping for a girl to round out the playgroup, and make further use of their beyond-cute outfits. But, God has a sense of humor.
Sean met us in the waiting area. “Come on in and meet Cannon Christopher.”
Six pounds-thirteen ounces, nineteen inches long. Hair the color of almonds. Blue eyes, hinting at green—already alive with curiosity. He looks like a little old man. Dad calls him Benjamin Button.
Speaking of nicknames, what do you call a fellow named Cannon? When Papa Dave suggested Boom, Boomer also made the rounds. Mom nixed those right away. Aunt Robyn tried Pac {for Papa’s favorite piece of classical music, Pachelbel’s Canon}. As we get to know him, his nickname will evolve. Until then, Cannon will do just fine.
Welcome home…


More Catching Up……

// October 6th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

In June, Eva (the Pit Bull) got a new kitty (Briscoe)…

and then four more. Robyn named them Jayne, River, Inara and…..Gremlin. I think I’ll call him Book. She says we never knew the Shepard’s first name, so it COULD be Gremlin.
Ethan played baseball this year. During the play-offs, he had the biggest cheering section. Parents, brothers, two sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, & cousins. Family {insert happy face here}.
Late June the Del Mar Fair made its annual appearance. First, Papa Dave and I went to cruise the hawker-halls, then we went with grandkids. Two totally different Fairs! For years, my favorite fair-game was the dime toss. We usually came away with a few ash-trays (we don’t smoke) and a saucer or, if we were reallylucky, a juice glass festooned with cartoon characters. I have no idea how they lost so money on this game that they had to quit. I think I threw $50 a year at those glasses and came away with maybe five pieces! Oh, well. Now we spend our money on ride tickets and the ping-pong ball game. Owen loved the fun house!
 In July, Amy and Jeremy took the kids to SEP. I think Kensie was the littlest camper this year. After camp, Jeremy had to get back to work in Williams, but Amy and the kids got to hang out with us for a week to meet…

….this little gal, before heading home again. Say hello to Quinn—Nick and Marisa’s forth baby, and first daughter! By now, they didn’t care either way ~boy, girl~ didn’t matter. But this little sweetie, with a calm and happy disposition, is so loved by her big brothers {and the rest of us}. Don’t you already feel sorry for her future boyfriends?









// September 28th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Can it truly be? Have I actually neglected to tell you about my two newest grandkids? Two-thousand-twelve is nearly bursting at the seams for our family, and there are still more than three months to tuck into our memories.

A quick synopsis:

Last August (2011), the day before my birthday, daughter Amy and family moved to Arizona.

We were sad to see them go, but glad they followed their hearts and the Lord’s leading. With Amy suffering the exhaustion of her first trimester while caring for a toddler, I flew out a couple of days later to help them settle in to their new place, giving me a chance to see the area. Utterly beautiful. It was so hard having them move but I understood the desire to live in a small town.

Well, the Lord has us do things so temporary sometimes, and this was one of those times. They moved back this month, on my husband’s birthday! I love being able to drive five minutes to their house, help unpack for an hour, snuggle the babies {okay, baby and toddler plus three teens!}, and come back home to make dinner for us all, while their kitchen improvements are keeping that vital room out of commission.

While they were in Williams, AZ {aka Radiator Springs; honestly, this is a seriously CUTE little town on Route 66. If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend a visit. Be sure to wander the 140-year-old cemetery, too ….I digress}, in March, I visited when Amy and Jeremy’s fifth baby, McKenzie, was born ….another seriously cute attraction!


I think this little gal favors her mommy as a baby …

 In May, I went to Williams again, this time with my husband ~ aka Papa Dave. We couldn’t miss Kirstie’s high school graduation! She and her [fifty-three] fellow graduates enjoyed a ceremony that, unlike big-city graduations, had time to tell us a bit about each senior as a person, not just a name. Although she had been with them only one year, Kirstie was an active part of the senior class. Two of the cords draped around her neck represent college credit classes. The red one is for donating blood.



Kirstie will be moving on to cosmetology school soon. Like her Grandma Cathy (Jeremy’s fabulous mom), she wants to help people in a specific way. Cathy has a full service salon {and spa} in San Marcos CA, the Headquarters. But her heart is in helping those who have lost their hair, through either chemotherapy or a disease like alopecia. Kirstie has seen that there are many ways to minister, and this way she can help gals feel better about themselves during a trying time.


To be continued…..



// September 18th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

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