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

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 Grandparenting Is Different from Parenting

Grandparenting is different from parenting in many wonderful ways. Here are ten of them.Our youngest grandchild turned 1 last weekend, and that momentous event got me to thinking about the differences between parenting my own kids and grandparenting their kids. Here are the top ten things that came to mind.

10. Parents make sure their little ones eat healthy food at every meal. Grandparents introduce them to things like pie, cookies, and ice cream.

9.  Parents connect every buckle, clip, and button of car seats, high chairs, safety gates, and strollers with astonishing speed and deftness. Grandparents require repeated demonstrations of how to connect everything and still make a mess of the process. Every. Single. Time.

8.  Parents get very tired of reading the same board books to their babies and toddlers over and over and over. Grandparents never do.

7.  Parents spend hours scraping stickers off of walls, baseboards, furniture, and windows. Grandparents spend hours finding the perfect stickers for their grandkids to plaster on every wall, baseboard, piece of furniture, and window they can reach.

6.  Parents steer clear of craft projects that require glitter. Grandparents love to do glitter projects with the grands. Always at the grands’ house, of course.

5.  Parents buy educational and useful presents for their kids. Grandparents purchase whatever they couldn’t afford to buy their kids back in the day.

4.  Parents see their children’s first four years through a fog of sleep deprivation. Grandparents see their grandchildren’s first four years through a cloud of indescribable, goofy, and subjective love.

3.  Parents have constants knot in their stomachs trying to protect their kids and keep them safe from themselves. Grandparents have constant smiles on their faces because they know that even though children can’t be kept completely safe from themselves, they will learn from their mistakes.

2.  Busy parents pray for their children on the fly. Grandparents have time to pray for their kids and grandkids every day. So they do.

1.  Parents love their children’s cuddles and the feel of a small, soft hand in theirs. Grandparents deeply cherish cuddling with the grands on the couch and walking down the street holding their sweet, trusting hands because they know these moments will pass, never to be experienced again.

Grandparents, what do you have to add to the list? Leave a comment.

Three Thoughts for Thursday

Walking coatless in November, an analogy involving pie and grandchildren, and Thanksgiving baking in this week's 3 thoughts.

  1. Yes, global warming is a reality to be confronted. But an early morning walk in November without a coat is a present grace to be savored.
  2. A house without grandchildren is like pie without ice cream: comfortable and satisfying, but missing a sweet little something.
  3. Speaking of pie, I’ll be baking apple, cherry, and mince for Thanksgiving. You?

Three Thoughts for Thursday

Downton-Abbey-season-5

  1. A new baby girl. Pink ruffles and white lace. I can hardly wait to meet her.
  2. Maybe Lady Edith will have her moment in the sun during Season Five of Downton Abbey…if Dowager Countess Violet is willing to share.
  3. -7° is way too cold for a mid-day high temperature. But it’s a good reason to sip my favorite frigid weather drink–hot, spiced cider. Yours?

The Gravel Road’s 2014 Top Ten List

20142014 is almost over, so now’s the time to reflect on the year just past. Here are the top 10 events along the gravel road over the past 12 months.

10.  The Man of Steel and I bought a new car with electric seat warmers. A little bit of heaven on earth.

9.  In the process of residing the garage, the Man of Steel uncovered some local history that resonated with readers and makes us feel very connected to past owners of our old farmhouse and outbuildings.

8.  Jolene completed 3 book manuscripts, sent them to the publishers early, and completed about 3/4 of the mystery novel she’s dreamed of writing for years.

7.  To celebrate the 2nd anniversary of his back surgery, he Man of Steel ran in Dam to Dam, a half-marathon held in Des Moines each June.

6.  As part of the November release of her book The Caregiver’s Notebook, Jolene met some amazing caregiving bloggers who are spreading news of the book far and wide. They are amazing, loving, and giving people!

5.  Though she’s still not sure where the years went, Jolene had a wonderful time reconnecting with high school classmates at their 40th class reunion.

4.  Along the same vein, the response to a tribute to her high school drama coach confirmed the magical nature of Jolene’s high school years.

3.  The Man of Steel and Jolene enjoyed dancing at a family wedding. What greater earthly joy does God grant than to celebrate with relatives of all ages?

2.  Jolene loved creating a book called My Papoo Makes Guitars for her grandson’s birthday. The Man of Steel loved crafting a ukulele for the same grandson’s Christmas. Even more, they loved watching him open those gifts.

1.  The best news of 2014 was learning that 2 new grandchildren are on the way in 2015. The first will arrive sometime in January and the second in April. Papoo and Grammy Jo are ready and waiting to fulfill their grandparenting duties!