Monthly Archives: August 2012

Guest Post: On Becoming a Grandparent


A guest post by writer Carol Baldwin, with advice for grandparents everywhere:

Dear Barbara,

In your 35 years of marriage to Cliff, the two of you have experienced a lot. You accomplished all sorts of tasks: you bought houses, held down jobs, wrote books, mentored friends, nurtured many relationships, and had to say goodbye to loved ones.

You also bore and raised two lovely daughters. You were nervous as they left home for kindergarten, anxious on their first dates, and then misty-eyed when you left them at college and drove away.

In all that time, one thing stayed the same: you and Cliff had created a family. But then you walked Kath down the aisle and now are getting ready to give away Laura.

Your family has changed as you gained your sons-in-laws. So, you would think with all of those life experiences under your belt, you would be prepared for anything and everything.

You are and you’re not.

Are you prepared for the bonds you’ll feel the first time you hold your grandson in your arms? Are you ready for the awe of the continuation of generations that will fill your hearts as you try to figure out if his tiny fingers look like Cliff’s or yours?

Will he have big feet like Matt? Do his eyes look like Kath’s?  And how about all of that hair (or the lack thereof). There will be more theories flying around that labor and delivery room than receiving blankets.

But it won’t matter. All that will matter is that your very first grandchild has entered the world—and nothing will compare to the excitement and pride you both will feel.

Fast forward a few weeks. Your grandbaby will be home and Kath and Matt will be trying to get sleep and return to some semblance of order. You don’t have to tell them that what they are living through is their new normal. Eventually, they’ll figure it out.

But what they might not figure out—or so it may seem to you—are things like the proper feeding schedule, or nap schedule, or how much to let your grandson cry, or when to introduce a bottle/solid foods/or potty training.

In other words, you and Cliff have something new to learn: to discern when your advice will be wanted, and when, quite frankly, you’ll need to keep your mouths shut.  Remember when your girls announced that they knew how to drive and didn’t need your help anymore? It’s a little like that, all over again.

Very soon Kath and Matt will exhaustedly welcome your babysitting services. But they might not welcome your guidance. Biting your tongues may be the hardest task you and Cliff have embraced so far.

Your experience as parents is invaluable but may not always be appreciated. Not yet. And just as you had to watch Kath pick herself up after falling down when she was learning to walk, you will also need to take a back seat and watch her and Matt learn the tasks of parenting. These are the same tasks (with some modern twists—see picture below), which you and Cliff learned, so many years ago.

But you will be there, in the wings, waiting with a shoulder to cry on and advice on the tip of your tongue– just in case you are needed.

Just as every parent—and grandparent—always is.

Welcome to your next adventure. You’ll love it.



About Carol: Carol Baldwin’s most recent book is Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8 (Maupin House, 2008). She blogs at and is writing her first young adult novel.

She is active in SCBWI, serves on the board of the Charlotte chapter of the Women’s Novel Book Association, and is a writing instructor in the Continuing Education Department of CPCC.  She has two step-daughters and three daughters; in the last five years she has been blessed with four step-grandchildren who she enjoys reading to.

Photo above: Grandma Carol enjoying two of her step-grandchildren, alongside her husband Creighton.

Photo Below:  Carol keeps a journal for each of her grandchildren, adding bits and pieces when she sees them–what they’re doing, what they’re saying, etc.

Bottom Photo:  Carol suggests I study this one for a glimpse into my future! The photo, sent to her by a relative, is making its way around the Internet.

The Lost Toys: Baby Sue and a Canvas Print Giveaway


Am I the only one who wonders about her lost toys?

The doll in the picture is Baby Sue. She was the first baby doll I remember.

I loved her so much I gave her baths, slept with her, took her on baby carriage rides, and washed and ironed, with my mom’s help, her clothes.

I still remember how flexible she was, with bendable rubber legs and arms; the intent expression in her eyes; and the the way her painted on brown hair never got mussed up.

So why did I abandon her?

I know I moved on to fancier dolls: Chatty Cathy, Tiny Tears, Kissy, Barbie, and a nutty doll named Shrinking Violette.

And my mom, like most moms, was anxious to clear out, to share our old toys with kids who needed them.

But in recent years, I’ve thought about Baby Sue more and more.

At best, she’s in someone’s collection somewhere. I don’t like to think of the worst.

At least I have this picture!

And when Easy Canvas Prints approached me about a free canvas for me and one as a giveaway, it was an easy choice whose picture was going on that canvas.

I miss you Baby Sue!

What about you?

What toys would you love to have back  again?

Giveaway:  The good folks at Easy Canvas Prints are offering  a reader a free10 by 8 canvas print. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment saying you’d like to win (by September 3 at noon E.S.T.)  Due to shipping costs, the winner must live in the continental U.S.

Need any cool signs. check out their other sites: Signs on the Cheap,  Banners on the Cheap,  and Magnets on the Cheap.

Here’s the portrait  that Easy Canvas made for me. I love it!  Of course yours doesn’t need to go on a shelf. They’re great for walls, too.  (It looks even better in real life. The photo I posted below doesn’t pick up the texture of the actual canvas.)


Baby Blue Countdown


Although the official due date is August 31, I figure my first grandchild, a boy, might  want to come into the world a little early.

That got me wondering: Is this grandma ready?

I bought him my favorite Mother Goose book, with a note to his mother that there WILL BE  a quiz in three years.

I purchased a brand new bed for his visits here. A pack and play that meets all the safety standards, unlike the antique  bassinet in my upstairs hall or the port-a-crib saved all these years in the attic.

I have recounted to Katherine the story of her birth as often as I think she will listen. She recently found an article on the similarities in childbearing experiences of mothers and daughters, making her willing to listen one more time.

I’ve made a zillion inquires about the name, which they are keeping secret, JUST IN CASE they want my opinion.

And I’ve held that baby boy for the first time in my mind’s eye more times than I’ve even asked about  his name.

Just today, I purchased baby blue crepe paper to hang when he is born as a happy signal to our neighbors.

“Couldn’t you have gotten Duke blue?” Cliff asked when he saw the streamers.  “That looks like Carolina blue to me.”

In this area of North Carolina, college football and basketball rivalry is intense. Cliff, a true blue Duke fan, greatly favors Duke’s royal blue.  Baby blue and Carolina blue are closer to one another in color.

“This isn’t Carolina blue,” I said, swirling the steamer in his face.  “This is baby blue.”

Come on into the world, Baby Boy! It’s time!

And when  you do, I just might paint the house and the driveway baby blue, too.

This grandma is more than ready.

Guest Post: Hope Springs!


A guest post from writer Lisa Winkler:

Hope Springs, the new movie staring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones isn’t a comedy, despite what the ads say. There a few funny scenes and lines, and it does have a happy ending.  Getting there however, is awkward and painful.

It’s a movie being advertised for the over 50 audience. Perhaps producers figure that’s an age where people still want a movie that isn’t based on a superhero comic book character, still like going to the movies and are too technically inept to stream films into their home televisions, which if their TVs are anything like mine, have too many remote controls to figure out how to use in the first place.

But the movie, about a woman who after 31 years of marriage, wants to revive the lost intimacy and enrolls her and her husband in a weeklong couples counseling course, isn’t just for those whose long marriages might need a bit of rekindling.

I hope young people will see it and perhaps glean an understanding of what makes a marriage.  Kay, played by Streep, could have decided to leave her husband, Arnold; instead she was determined to try to keep what she had and regain what was lost.

I hope middle-aged people will see it. I imagine bits of the characters resonate with everyone.

Joe Morgenstern, reviewing Hope Springs (scroll down) in the Wall Street Journal, writes that Streep “could enchant us by doing a vacuum cleaner commercial.”  He’s right. Streep is everything we expect of her: facial expressions and gestures that speak volumes, creating empathy without melodrama.

I couldn’t help think about the vacuum cleaner.

A vacuum cleaner

Swallows dust and cobwebs

Dirt and debris

Sometimes the hose clogs

The bag, overstuffed, tears

A light blows or a motor fails

With proper care and maintenance

can last a long time

like a marriage.

Lisa Winkler and her husband Matt celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in June by cycling in France. This review was first posted on her blog, Cycling Grandma.