Grandparents As Parents

Being a grandparent is one of the best things this side of heaven. Each grandparent thinks their grandchildren are the cutest in the world. Their grandchildren are the smartest, so much smarter than their children were at that age. When grandchildren come to visit, grandparents give them almost anything they desire. They let them do whatever their hearts can imagine and more. This is so true for the preteen grandchildren. As they grow into teenage years it’s another story. Grandparents love grandchildren because after all the fun they have, the food they have eaten, the playing they have done and much more they are packed up and sent home to their parents. Grandparents can then go back to whatever they want to do–they’ve earned it.

Some grandparents can’t send their grandchildren home to their parents because they have become the parents. There have always been grandparents that raised their grandchildren for some reason. There was always Big Mama Susie, Granny Louise, Paw Paw, Daddy James and more who took on the role of raising a grandchild.

In the state of Texas alone there are approximately 823,750 children under the age of 18 living in homes where the householders are grandparents or other relatives with the majority living with grandparents.

According to the Grandfacts State Fact Sheets there are over 315,000 grandparents that are raising grandchildren. Of those:

  • 67% are under the age 60
  • 62% are still in the workforce
  • 23% live in poverty
  • 23% have a disability
  • 26% are unmarried (grandchildren are living with a single parent)

These grandparents having raised their children have once again taken on the responsibility for the day-to-day maintenance of a home, schedules, meals, homework, play dates and more. These items may seem simple, but homework is not the same as it was a generation ago. Years ago play dates consisted of going outside and playing with the kids in the neighborhood. There was no scheduling of activities. Birthday parties consisted of cake, punch and a few games in the backyard or den. There was no social media, cell phones and internet. In addition to time, the majority of these things carry a monetary component.

The grandparents who are raising their grandchildren now have to redo their lives, their dreams and much more. They have to give up their independence and start all over again. Their finances will ultimately take a hit, and retirement may not be in the picture in the near future. That dream of finally starting their own business has again become just a dream.

All of this is not to say that grandparents do not cherish their grandchildren, it’s just that their lives or at least the idea of what their lives should look like at this stage of life will have to change. Their new normal is not the normal they day dreamed about.

There are programs that will assist the grandparents in their new role as primary parents. At my church a senior group meets once a month to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of raising grandchildren when you thought you would only see them on the weekends. It allows the grandparents to learn from others who are in similar situations, and to give guidance to those that need it .

In every state there are organizations that will assist those that are raising children for the second time. AARP has great information in the Grandfacts sheets for the United States and for your state. There are local programs that can assist also.

Grandparents may need a little help when raising grandchildren. Those that take on this task are indeed “grand”. Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and just in case you didn’t know my grandchild is the cutest and smartest.

A Love Like No Other–Being Grandparents

Who would have thought that becoming a grandparent could be so enjoyable?  From the time that little bundle of joy is put in your arms you find yourself on cloud nine. The love you feel for this tiny person swells up more each time you see them.

Grandparenting has always been special to those that were fortunate enough to know and love their grandparents.  My paternal grandparents lived less than 15 minutes from our house, and my material grandparents lived about an hour away so grandparents were always present.

The ones that lived closer took us to piano lessons on Saturday, picked us up for Sunday School, and had homemade delicious snacks after school.  You know things like hamburgers, french fries, cake, pie–do I need to go on. Those were special times that even now bring a smile to my heart.  The love I had for my grandparents only came in second to my parents.

So when I heard that we would become grandparents 9 years ago I was excited.  I could just image combing the little girls hair, putting in pretty bows, buying cute little dresses, dolls and more.  Then they told us they were going to give us a grandson.  I told them to give him back because we didn’t do boys–just girls. We now do boys.

Who would know that Joseph Foster II better known as Joey to us, and JoJo to his parents and aunt would steal our hearts. I can remember when he was not even walking, and the Dallas Cowboys had an open practice at the stadium–my sister and I picked him up from the sitter and took him to the practice.  We were so excited telling his parents about our outing. Even to this day I know that he enjoyed looking at the big screen.

His aunt and I taught him how to fly a kite when he was about three. Somehow he seemed to always find the one power line, but it was fun.  We decided to make a cake and decorate for his moms birthday.  He used this mixer, decorated the cake and the table.

Even when he was younger and just starting to walk we took him home to Longview to visit our neighbors.  We stopped to have our favorite burger, and he threw so many fries on the floor that we asked the manager for the broom to clean up.  He got a way with things that his mom and aunt could never have done.

No I don’t see him every day, but when I see him, I try to always make it special for both of us. This summer I ask him to write me a letter each week telling me about his week. I love my updates.

Does he like seeing his grandparents all of the time–of course not, but hopefully the memories that we make will mean just as much to him as they do to me.  He knows that his Paw Paw and Honey love him unconditionally.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  You can love your grandchildren, give them love and send them home to be with their parents.  Grandparents need rest after visits. Enjoy your day.

HAPPY GRANDPARENTS DAY!

Go to our facebook page and post a picture of your grandchildren. Share the joy and love!

Is It Or Isn’t It–How Do We Know?

One of my pet peeves is the word organic.  What exactly is organic?  What is the difference between Whole Foods and Wal-Mart’s organic?  The price is different so does that mean the quality is different?  What are the requirements for something to be considered organic?  Do we believe them?  I can tell you that I can tell the difference in cage-free eggs and regular eggs.  That’s about it though.  To be sure that our fruits and veggies are organic we need to plant and grow our own.

Then there is that meat thing. We all know that turkeys and chickens are not that large.  The mutant turnkey they sell us for Thanksgiving is as large as the pig the ham came from. I remember going to visit relatives once and seeing what they call a yard chicken.  I told my mom they needed to feed him, and that’s when she told me that was the size he should be.  And another thing, how many wings does a chicken have?  Where are the other parts of the chicken?  Seriously every restaurant has “wings” on the menu, but they don’t have thighs, breast or the other part of the wing on the menu.  So where are the other parts–mutant chickens with 10 wings?

The size of the chicken parts at different fast food restaurants is dramatically different.  At some, it seems you might be eating parakeets and others turkeys if you go by the size.  How is this possible that they say they are all serving chicken?

All of the different cooking oils from vegetable, olive, saffron, coconut, canola and so many more.  Which one is better, and do you need to keep one of each depending on

 

what you are cooking?  My mom used Crisco for everything, and she could cook.  In fact everyone I knew used Crisco.  Doesn’t seem that we are any healthier.  No, we never used lard so don’t go there.

I have a lot of other pet peeves when it comes to food, but you would be reading a novel.  My last one is expiration dates.  I don’t do a lot of cans or boxes, but when I do I look at the dates.  A recent report said they just put any date on the cans and boxes even the eggs and milk.  So when do I throw it out?  At one time I could tell you if an egg was good just by holding it in my hand–out of practice now.

I must admit that I do have about 5 different kinds of oil in my cabinets.  Can I tell the difference–sometimes.

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When our mother’s, grandmother’s and my great-aunt Alice cooked they used Crisco in a can, but they cooked with love, and we loved it.  It was better than any 5-star restaurant Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  There is always something new, but love makes everything taste better.

 

 

 

Woman Power

March is National Women’s History Month. A month that honors women who have made a difference, women who are inspirational, women who are strong–you know them.  There will be those names that we all have heard and admire, but there are many women who no one but their families and communities will ever know of.

These women may have been in the military, marched for the civil rights of all.  They may have been your teacher, your mother, the lady who lived next door or just the nice sales lady who always treated you with respect even though she knew you would not be buying.

This month is in honor of that teacher that kept you from recess to help you with your math.  It’s honoring your grandmother who worked so hard–working jobs that you swore you would never do, and she never wanted you to do.

This month is to honor “all women”– the women who were influential in your life.  Believe it or not, the celebration of Women’s History Month on a smaller scale started in 1911.  It gained national recognition in 1975. You can see the history of Women’s History Month by clicking The History of Women’s History Month.

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International Women’s Day

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Check your local areas for events honoring women this month.

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Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Honor a woman today.

 

 

Grandmothers–Memories of Sadie

Each of us has that someone special that makes us smile when we think of them.  I can remember both of my grandmothers with fondness.  My paternal grandmother lived In the same town as I did so I saw her almost every day.

This post was written by Connie Formby who allows us to vividly remember Sadie, her grandmother.

ConnieConnie lives in Fort Worth and spends her time with her husband Grant, a pastor and accomplished chef, and her two dogs, Lady and Sadie. (Yes, named in fond memory of her grandmother.) She loves working in the yard and creative sewing in her spare time.

Grab your favorite beverage, sit back and remember Sadie, She is sure to warm your heart.

The vision of her short stout stature sitting on the chair in front of her sewing machine is as clear today as the figure that sat before me in the small rural neighborhood in which we lived in Pennsylvania. Cattle grazed just on the other side of the fence bordering the backyard we viewed through her bedroom window. She lived with her cousin while we lived in a house just four streets away. As an older child, I could walk to her house to visit my grandmother.  

grandmother sewing 4The room was simply decorated. A glass plaque, hand painted in her favorite color purple, hung on one wall. On another wall hung her heavy round mirror, (a cherished treasure I have ownership of today), bordered with a hand painted quote. A light colored wooden dresser with a lamp sat between her bed and her sewing machine, and a rug lay on the floor. Simple curtains framed the one bedroom window. The hum of the sewing machine, the sun coming in the window; the contented smile on Sadie’s face, something about her stirred a connection I had yet to understand.   

For hours unending as a child, within this environment, I sat silent on her bed. Few words were ever spoken. They did not need to be.  A thread of communication was stitching our hearts together where our spirits had already met.  

She reflected both a deep love for me and a very dark distance from my life because by that time she had already lived through hardship unimaginable to me. No one meant more to me than Sadie. Our quiet hours shared, Sadie at her sewing machine and me on her bed lost in a world of colors, textures, compositions, and the shapes of her buttons poured from a collection of cookie tins onto her white Chenille bedspread. Sometimes she sang from her heart or laughed, more to herself than to me, as her mind followed the threads of memory through the fabric of her life to church and her childhood. The sound of her voice warmed my heart as she sang her beloved songs.  It seemed to me, happiness came to her when she was transported to a happier place or time across the threshold into her world of sewing or music. She was not especially talented as a singer, yet even today I hear her voice as she passionately sang her beloved songs.

Somehow I know she holds a place in the heavenly choirs of angels. It is as if I can see her there. As a seamstress, she was quitesewing with grandmother 9 talented, often making her own patterns. She would lovingly hand craft clothing for herself, my mother, my two sisters and me.

Silently, a transcendent force deep within myself was guiding me to be like her.  It was never a conscious decision. It was a choice made involuntarily and genetically.  I was influenced spiritually by simply spending time with her, being close to her and learning to love her deeply.  

Time spent in grandma’s room wove threads of cherished memories which formed the tapestry of my life. Quiet aloneness became the atmosphere in which I made a spiritual connection with sewing.  Seemingly endless threads of color, texture, shape and composition comprised the myriad of components of sewing. Each one was somehow woven into my heart. I became passionately connected, all the while never losing touch with the intangible force which led me there.   

In these times of aloneness, her spirit tenderly led me to a place which remains a place of sweet quietness and peace. Contentment and inspiration, from a greater being than mankind, flows out of this place as I apply the gift passed down to me through the spirit of my grandmother. The life flowing through her veins was her love and ability to make clothing.

Through my veins flows a passion for artistry through fabric applique or creating pictures out of fabric. As I view each developing “canvas” before me, I easily recall her connection to the different stages of the process each time she made a garment.   

I did not understand her paranoid schizophrenia and it hurt deeply when she would leave and visit that side of her life. She was incredibly sad and troubled in this place that was so unknown by me. She cried often and said many things I could not comprehend. I hurt for her and as the years went by, I longed to reach her to bring her back. I felt as though the scissors used to cut out her wonderful clothing creations was being applied to my heart cutting away someone I felt attached to like the other half of the piece of fabric being cut. As a child I missed her and did not understand when they took her to the hospital. I missed our times together.  I missed her tins full of buttons. I missed my place of escape.  

grandmother sewing 7It is interesting how life turns. After years of spending hours on grandma’s bed with her buttons, grandma had the opportunity to share a bedroom with me. These memories are priceless treasures to me. Yet pulling at my heart strings are the heavy memories of an increasing number of times she would leave and go to her place of deep sadness and darkness. I longed for a better understanding of who she was. I was angry because I could not reach her or reason with her. I did not understand her or the thief who continued to take her away.  

In our room were two sewing machines. Stitched by these cords of memories are the pictures I cherish of both of us sewing at sewing with grandmother 8the same time.  First, I recall the Christmas prior to starting Kindergarten. I received a pink sewing machine in its own small wooden carrying case with decoupage pictures on the outside. When led by her love and guidance, joy and pride surged through my being as I sat beside her sewing small simple clothing articles.  Many years later while sewing my own clothing beside grandma, I experienced the same feelings of pride and joy.

Often during these times, I was able to invite Sadie to revisit her childhood and happier days. Side by side as I led her back to the happier times, she recounted for me what she remembered.  Orchestrated with the patterned hum of the sewing machines was the duet of our laughter. Through the stories she recounted came a clear picture of the creative and colorful person Sadie was.  I loved the happy, creative, mischievous, and witty person she was in the stories. This Sadie was an Ann of Green Gables sort of person.  Sitting by her I watched as the threads of memory spun a web that captured an account. One day, in the one room schoolhouse, while studying Science, her stoic elementary school teacher asked the class if anyone could identify the crusts of the earth. Sadie quickly raised her hand. With a smile on her face, she wittingly responded, “bread crust and pie crust.”  She was promptly reprimanded. It was my pleasure to experience some of this playful side throughout my years with her.  

grandmother sewing 6When Sadie was taken to the nursing home to live, I missed her.  For the years she was there, I visited her whenever I had the opportunity to return to Pennsylvania. When she passed away, I was left without a very dear friend. However the gift of her spirit remains in me and continues to live through me, expressed through each picture this artist paints, using the mediums of a sewing machine, fabric, buttons, and thread.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Remembering those that made an impact on you are wonderful memories.  I smile when I remember “MeMaw” and “Grandma Ruth”.

Honoring Our Mothers

If you were to ask just about anyone to tell who was their first love, most would say it was their mother.  Mother’s were the first faces that we gazed our eyes upon.  They were the first ones that held us close and even sang to us.  When we gave them that first smile, they were the ones that had an even bigger smile. They were the ones that tried to protect us from harm.

Over the years they have had many names, mother, mom, mama, madea and so many more.  Have you ever noticed that the biggest defensive lineman when given a chance to say a word always tells his mother hello.  It’s just something about the word “mother”.

Some of you are blessed that your mother is still with you, and some of us know the feeling that they are no longer here with us. This slide show is for all the moms, mothers, mamas, madeas and more.  Each year I run the same article about my mother–Mrs. Ruby Dean Square Cooper.  This year I’ve added some of your mother’s pictures.  I hope you enjoy. 

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Everything was done in the kitchen of our home. When were younger, we practiced our reading at the kitchen table. Mama would be cooking, and we would be reading out loud. I still wonder how she knew the words before we did. As we continued our education even college homework would be done at that table.

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When my sister and I did our 4-H projects, the kitchen table became our workshop with everything from sewing machines to podiums. Mama was a leader in our 4-H club so we practiced everything there.

I remember the day we got a new dishwasher. Everyone was excited, even me. I had turned about 12 and thought that making pretend milkshakes in the soapy water was fun. Little did I know that I would forever be the dishwasher in our family. I remember that I would wash and mama would dry while my sister did her homework at the table. If my dad was home from work, he would be watching the Huntley Brinkley report while we did the dishes. My brother got out of washing dishes because mama believed that cleanliness was indeed next to Godliness. I remember the day that he popped me on the behind with the towel that he was drying the dishes with; it was the last time he was allowed to do anything in the kitchen except eat.

The smell of cooking was always prevalent in our kitchen even though both my parents worked full-time as educators. Mama had been a home economics major in college so everything was homemade from potato chips, wonderful cakes and pies and all that was in between.

One of my fondest memories is when my mother became my friend. She drank coffee every morning and some evenings at the kitchen table. I had always drank a milking cup of coffee as a child. One Saturday as she sat at the kitchen table reading the paper, I joined her for what would become “our time”. For the rest of her life, if I was home, I would make coffee and we would talk, sometimes our neighbors Miss Callie and Miss Adell would join us. Over the years to come at that table, we talked about high school graduation, going off to college, the death of daddy, how would she cope, my sister going off to college–mama in the house alone. My husband even asked her for my hand in marriage at the kitchen table. Grandchildren learned what the word “no” really meant at that table.

As I think back over these times, it is amazing that people now have to have libraries, great rooms, offices, etc., to do different activities. Mama did it all at the kitchen table.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who solve all the problems of today at the kitchen table. Remember, “thisisyourbestyear”. 

This song is what all mothers wish for their children as their first protector!

Not A Rocking Grandma

My mother loved her grandchildren and enjoyed their visits.  They were always special times for the kids and also for her. Since she was still teaching when they were born they usually did weeks in the summer when the would stay with her in Longview.

She adored the calls and letters from them. I don’t think she would be too happy with texting, but then again they were her grandchildren.  I say all of this to say that she would always tell me that she was not a rocking grandma and that she would call when she wanted to see them. This meant if you need a babysitter, you better hire one.

I am my mother’s child. I love my grandson. I try to make each time we are together special.  This week we are doing Vacation Bible School together. Do I keep him every week–I am not  a rocking grandma, but I love that little man and want every occasion special.

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Honey’s baby enjoying one of the best parts of Vacation Bible School–the food.

Remember, “thisisyourbestyear”.