Top Ten Lessons Learned from a 16 Month Old

Top Ten Lessons Learned from a 16 Month Old

Grammy and Papoo have been learning a lot from the 16 month old who lives at their house. Here are a few recent lessons. Every day is an educational adventure with a sixteen-month-old in the house. Here’s what he’s been teaching us lately.

10.  Clothespins are fascinating, so a wise grammy learn to check for them in her shoes before going for a morning walk.

9.  Grammy’s walking shoes are also fascinating, so when the shoes aren’t on the rug by the door, they are most likely in the empty spot on a low kitchen shelf. With a clothespin cleverly hidden inside one shoe.

8.  There’s nothing better than a rousing game of “I’m gonna get you.”

7.  There’s nothing worse than being told “No!” Even and especially when it’s for your own good.

6.  Baby gates are an invitation to start climbing.

5.  Being allowed in Grammy and Papoo’s bedroom to feel the soft, blue blanket on their bed is enough to make a grown 16-month-old quiver with delight.

4.  All food tastes better after it’s been thrown on the floor and sniffed by the dog.

3.  Making loud noises and screeching is oodles of fun for a baby. But when a grown up makes the same sounds, it’s very scary.

2.  The days when Papoo uses big machines right outside the living room window are very good days.

1.  Receiving a big hug and a slobbery kiss from a sixteen-month-old is a precious gift from God.

What lessons have you learned from a wee one lately? Leave a message.

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Exciting Times on Our Gravel Road

Exciting Times on Our Gravel Road

This summer's adventure has been our dive into multi-generational living. We're still figuring things out, but these four ideas have made a difference so far.The Summer of 2016 will go down in history as a most exciting one. The Man of Steel’s basement project, with its main components being large dirt piles, big holes, and large equipment, has been an ongoing source of wonder for our three young grandchildren. (The above action shot, the action being the dirt pouring out of the bucket, was highly appreciated by the 3 1/2-year-old.) The Wonderfully Made Family Camp (WMFC) at Hidden Acres, the trip to Latvia to be part of a special needs camp, and family camp in Idaho each had their own exciting elements.

But, as the summer winds down I have to say that our adventures in multi-generational living, which began on May 20 when our daughter, our son-in-law, and grandson moved into our upstairs, leave all others in the dust.* All in all, the transition has gone well. The fact that the upstairs consists of three large rooms and a full bath that is completely their space, makes the arrangement easier. But, we’ve learned, and are still learning, much about how to live together in shared spaces: the kitchen, the laundry room, the dining room, and sometimes the living room.

Over the next few months, the daughter and I will be sharing our perspectives about what has worked, what hasn’t, and how we’ve resolved what doesn’t. To start things off, here are four systems we’ve put in place that make multi-generational living much easier.

First, a command center is a must. Ours is a giant whiteboard in the kitchen. It’s a monthly calendar where everyone posts their work and travel schedules. Once that’s in place, we decide who’s going to cook each night and plan menus. We also record financial reminders about what’s owed for groceries and utilities and payment due to the daughter and son-in-law for projects we’ve hired them to complete. Honestly, without this system, we couldn’t function.

Second, compile grocery lists. This one took a couple months to get in place, mainly because I was gone so much it was hard to plan menus. We now have 2 lists, 1 for our local grocery store and 1 for Costco, Trader Joe’s and a Mennonite market where we purchase hard-to-find baking ingredients. Everyone knows where the grocery lists are and they are encouraged to add items that are running low or used up. We visit the local grocery store weekly. I make the Costco/Trader Joe’s/Mennonite market run about once a month, usually after a visit to Dorothy since those stores are 45 minutes from our Gravel Road, but only 20 minutes from her.

Third, get a joint credit card for groceries. This card is used only for what’s on the menu and each family pays half the bill. This simplifies finances immensely.

Fourth, only one joint meal is served per day. That meal is usually supper, though depending on schedules, it is sometimes lunch. The freezer, fridge, and pantry are stocked with breakfast items and everyone serves themselves. The same is true for lunch, at which leftovers are also fair game.

From my point of view, these four systems are life savers. We’ll see what the daughter has to say at a future date. It could be interesting!

*Please note: The use of this idiom was deliberate in light of the name of this blog.

Do you have a multi-generational living arrangement? How do you make it work? Leave a comment.

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Ten Ways Our House Has Changed in the Last Week

Ten Ways Our House Has Changed in the Last Week

What happens to an empty nest when a baby and his parents arrive? These 10 changes at our house are just the beginning.Since our daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and dog moved in a week or so ago, our house has been in a state of flux. Here are ten changes we’ve made, most of them to accommodate the most adorable 14-month-old baby in the house.

10. Though our fireplace is unused, it is irresistible to 1-year-olds. So the Man of Steel temporarily blocked it off with a cedar chest turned upside down and crowned with a wooden storage box built by the Man of Steel’s grandfather in the 1940s.

9.  Other temporary baby-proofing efforts, which will eventually be replaced with proper gadgets, include wooden stools shoved against every bottom cupboard door, keeping closet and bathroom doors shut tight, and moving all live plants to the sun porch. Thank goodness it’s spring.

8.  The refrigerator is fuller than normal and empties faster. More because of the baby’s parents than because of the baby. Except for humus, which the little one devours in copious amounts.

7.  The laundry room is doing a brisk business. The baby wears cloth diapers. Need I say more?

6.  Toys are everywhere. Some are the boy’s. Some are the dog’s. Some they share. Quite nicely, I might add.

5.  Did you know red rocks red fit perfectly into tiny fists and are light-weight enough to be toddled from hither to yon? Which explains why the landscaping rocks outside the kitchen door are all over the sidewalk, in the grass, and on the cement ledge framing the herb garden.

4.  Our home now suffers from a spoon shortage. Because when a certain child has to come inside without a lava rock in each fist, spoons are a good distraction. By mealtime, all the spoons are on the floor or where ever they have been deposited with logic that makes no sense to anyone over the age of 14 months.

3.  A certain writer finds herself taking frequent breaks because her grandson insists she is the only adult in the house fit to play “I’m gonna get you” with him. While the writer’s novel is suffering, her grandson is not.

2.  The house is full of baby squeals, especially during a game of “I’m gonna get you.”

1. Those squeals are accompanied by an infectious smile that sets both the Man of Steel and a certain writer to grinning so much their cheeks hurt.

How has your house been changing lately? Leave a comment.

I Miss Your Dad

I Miss Your Dad

Mom doesn't converse like she used to, but last week we had a sweet, substantial thoughtful conversation.In her prime, Mom was a sparkling conversationalist, She easily handled a variety of topics with great knowledge and wit. Her favorites were teaching, gardening, quilting, cooking and baking, reading, history, neighborhood gossip, genealogy, and family.

These days, her unprompted contributions to our Wednesday conversations consist of complaining about her runny nose and asking for tissues, gossip concerning fellow residents, reminders that she needs new library books, smack talk while we play Rummikub, reports of cards and letters received from family members, and stories about either her childhood or mine.

Every week, I try to draw her out a little while we waited for our meals to arrive at Applebee’s. “Did you fly kites when you were a kid?” I asked last Wednesday, which was a very blustery day.

“No,” she said. That was all.

I soldiered on. “Did you ice skate?”

She nodded. “Once. I fell on my butt/”

I persisted. “Did you roller skate?”

“Yes.” She brightened. “I liked to roller skate.”

“DId you skate outside or at a roller rink?”

“At a roller rink. In Pipestone.”

“Your family didn’t have much money. How did you pay for it?” I asked.

She shrugged. “My brother Wayne took us, I think. He was always kind. And my brother Ralph was a good skater. He could even skate backwards as well as I could skate going forward.”

Our food came then, and we stopped talking. But maybe it set her to thinking, because on the drive home, she brought up a new topic of conversation.

“What year did your dad die?”

“1997,” I replied. “19 years ago.”

“That’s a long time,” she said.

“Yes, it is,” I agreed. “Do you miss him?”

“A lot.” She nodded.

“Me, too,” I said.

“But missing a husband,” she went on, “is different than missing your dad.”

“I’m sure it is,” I said. “And in a way, you lost your husband twice. Once to multiple sclerosis and again when he died.”

“You’re right, Jolene,” she said before going quiet again.

It was the most substantial, thoughtful, and sweet conversation we’ve had in months. I looked at her and smiled. She smiled back.

Top Ten Thanksgiving Traditions

Top Ten Thanksgiving Traditions

What Thanksgiving traditions are you anticipating this week? Here are my top 10.Thanksgiving is all about tradition…at least at our house. Here are ten of our top traditions in the order in which they occur.

10. All the dog owners bring their dogs to keep the kitchen floor clean.

9.  Generations (4 this year) mingle together creating new links in the chain that stretch into the past we can’t remember and toward the future we can not see.

8.  Everybody brings appointed dishes for the meal…enough to feed a small army.

7.  Once people begin arriving with their appointed dishes, it is imparetive for everyone to talk at the same time. All day long.

6.  Except when chowing down handfuls of Fabulous Franklin Chex Mix to keep up our strength until the meal begins.

5.  Everyone worries there won’t be enough food because we all plan to eat too much.

4.  Certain members of the family guzzle Grandma Josie’s tapioca fruit salad. They are secretly pleased that some people don’t like it so the leftovers can be eaten for Christmas.

3.  After the meal, we play games and games and games and games…

2.  …after the chef pops the turkey carcass into a stock pot and sets it to simmer on the stove…

1.  …and until we’ve digested long enough to make room for pie. With real whipping cream on top.

What are your family Thanksgiving traditions? Leave a comment.