Grandma Update: Five Tips from a Semi-pro

I haven’t done a grandma update in ages.  Here goes!

I’m on my way next week to Charlotte, North Carolina, to await the birth of my fourth grandchild. I’ll be in charge of Laura’s daughter, Emerson. You can see Em in the middle photo, making an Angelina wand. She is happily nuts at the moment over the Angelina books.

Mazen, the first grandchild, is at the top of this post. The photo was taken on the first day of first grade.

At the bottom is Birch, Maze’s baby brother. Birch and Mazen are wild about each other, which is way fun to watch.

In my seven happy years of grandmotherhood, I’ve learned a few things I thought I’d share with you.

  • This is not your child. My friend Mary’s husband told her this when she was gleefully walking about the house with their first grandchild. This is the best grandma advice I’ve received. The trouble is you love them like they are your baby. But no, this is NOT your child. You get to play. You get to help. You get to give advice if welcomed. But you are not the boss.
  • You will get tired. Pace yourself. When my friend Lisa talked about how tired she got taking care of her young granddaughters, I was surprised. Lisa is the type who starts to paint a room at ten PM.  Now I get it. It took me a while to figure out I had to pace myself. Luckily my girls appreciate my help and thus far, how much I help doesn’t seem to be an issue.

  • You will get your feelings hurt. Brace yourself. It was either Dr. Spock or Dr. Brazelton who said, “Never let a child hurt your feelings.” I’ve been told to stop singing and that my hands feel old and crinkly. And even if I haven’t seen Maze in a few months, I can’t compete with the fun of playing with his best friend, who lives next door. Sometimes he’s gone within minutes of greeting me. Count it all good. The world needs spunky, independent, opinionated kids (as long as they have kind hearts).
  • Some things have changed. Embrace it. I’ve had a blast checking out new products such as those marvelous little pouches filled with horrific sounding combinations of vegetables, fruits, and protein. The kids love them. But other changes are harder to wrap around such as no juice. I used to give my kids watered down apple juice. Juice has no real nutritional value, so I get it. But I’m not a milk drinker or a water drinker, and I find I’m always wanting to give the kids juice to quench their thirst. Get over it, Grandma.


  • If you don’t live nearby, you will feel sad, some. The first time I left Mazen, I thought my heart had shattered into a million pieces. (And I was going to visit him very soon.)  After about a year, I  told myself I had to buck up and get used to not being with him nearly as much as I wanted. By the time Emerson was born four years later, I was braced. We’re lucky to have the kids, no matter how often we see them in person. No moping aloud.

Old pros out there:  Any more tips to share? Thanks!


The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Fifty-two

From Becky, here are two signs from the Neuse Sports Shop in Kingston, North Carolina. Love these! (Well, I love all the doors I post and shouldn’t pick favors, but these are extra great.)

Also from Becky comes this sign from El Tiempo Cantina in Houston, Texas.

Candice sent this door from the Dallas Fort Worth airport. It’s interesting to note this bathroom is also a tornado shelter.

And also from Candice, the  Bishop Burger Barn in Bishop, California. Now that trip to the ladies room looks like an adventure!

Paul sent these from Chowboys Cantina in Virginia Beach. Talk about colorful!

Susan found this door a the  Hi Top Cafe in Catskills, New York.

She found this one at the Yellow Deli in Oak Hill, New York.

My Duke friend Derri sent this from Dear Old Duke, our alma mater. Go Lady Blue Devils!

I snapped these at the entrance to the ladies room at the rest area in Johnson County, North Carolina.

Tobacco country…

I found this elegant door at the Glenwood Grill in Raleigh, North Carolina.

And inside I discovered the most elegant hand washing sign I’ve ever seen.

And finally, here’s a neat post my daughter Kath featured on her blog. I just love those wrappers!

I Tried A Toilet Paper Company Called Who Gives A Crap


That wraps it up for this edition of our Ladies Room Door Art Series! Thanks, everyone!


Floss! A TMI Habits Post

I’m on a major kick to break bad habits and add good ones. Read my first post on the topic here.

One vow I’ve made is to spend more time brushing my teeth.

“I read you need to brush for two minutes,” said Cliff a few months ago as he worked away at his own teeth. We have double sinks in the new house. A whole new marriage experience!

So Part One of my tooth habit is to brush longer. I only succeed some, but I am definitely getting there.

And I’ve made a vow to floss more. I use the interdental brushes Those things are fab for teeth gunk.

But my dental hygienist says those little brushes don’t replace flossing. I used to floss about once a week. My teeth are spaced close together in the back. Sometimes the floss would get stuck and then break off, with a tiny piece remaining. I’d always go into a bit of a panic until I got it out.

Then daughter Kath introduced me to Glide.  My flossing world opened up! I love this stuff. It’s like a trip to the spa for my mouth. I’m especially partial to the minted version:


James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, writes: “It is crucial to make your habits so easy that you’ll do them when you don’t feel like it.”

This is a pretty basic concept, but it’s helping me as I work to make life changes. Thank you, Glide! You glide right along, never get stuck, and feel gentle on the gums.

What about you? Are there products you’ve discovered that have helped you break a bad habit or add a good one?

More Floss Talk: We learned the hard way that dental floss and toilets do not mix. A big plumbing bill taught us that lesson.

How to Floss: Here’s a lesson from the American Dental Association on how to floss correctly. 




Calling All Menopausal Women

Here’s a fun request from freelance writer Mara Santilli. She’s working on a story for Menopause Awareness Month in September and needs our help. I’m planning to share a bit of my experience with Mara, and I hope you will too. 

Take it way Mara!

I’m Mara Santilli, a freelance writer, and I’m working on a story package on menopause for Menopause Awareness Month in September for The Plum, a new US-based site for women over 40.

We’re looking for women of all ages and backgrounds who are currently in some stage of menopause to share a bit about their experience.

We’ll be including first and last names, a quote, and a photo from each woman. Please reach out to if you’d like to participate!


Her Period Days Are Over and Mostly Forgotten

As a younger woman, I imagined feeling daily gratitude once my period days were over. How incredible it would be!

I suffered from many manifestations of PMS that started at mid-cycle. Then the cramps hit. Basically, I had one week a month when my body felt content. Even when Cliff and I argued about this and that, I remember thinking but I suffer so from being a woman. The whole world needs to cut me a million breaks.

So am I now in a state of constant appreciation that I am period-free?



I’m not really sure, but here are two theories:

First off, I’d love to have some of that estrogen back.

Second, menopause is a transition complete with its own problems. It’s not like a fairy suddenly waves her wand and says, “Poof. You’re done!”  As our bodies weather through menopause, I think the other problems can cloud the happy feeling of no more periods.

When I saw the above article in Oprah Magazine, I realized I don’t even think about my period anymore. In fact, it’s not even in my radar that other women are suffering like I once did. I wish all of them well of course. I just forget.

Here’s a post I wrote when the blog was brand new eight years ago about mourning the loss of periods, an emotion that surprised me then.

Am I mourning  the college girl, long gone, who dealt with periods as she juggled research papers, boyfriend, and dorm conversations that ended in happy hysterics?  Am I missing the possibility of one more sweet baby?  Am I grieving for a body that amazed me because it could count the days?  Am I worrying about the body now, which certainly seems less efficient, and the one to come?

The end of periods was very much on my mind eight years ago. It’s not now.

I’m not sure what my point is. Maybe just that life moves on. At best we embrace those changes.

What about you? Do you remember to be thankful your periods are gone? Do you miss them in any way?

And for you young ones, how anxious are you for those days to be over?


Arguing. Who’s Done?


I want that to be me.

I’m not talking about important moments when you truly need to stand up for yourself.

I’m talking about the dumb stuff. The stuff that doesn’t deeply matter.

Letting even minor arguments go can be a challenge at first, especially when you’re pretty sure you’re right. It can feel like keeping your hands out of the M & M’s bowl. Not easy!


“I know I’m right. I know I’m right. I know I’m right,” your brain chants. But learning to resist can save the moment or save the day or maybe even save the vacation.

Can you do it?

Our spunky interim pastor talked about the best toast given at her wedding. The toaster looked at them both and said, “You can either be right or you can stay married.”

And so perhaps not arguing about the dumb stuff should be a credo for happiness in all relationships. Even with strangers.

It feel so right to give up the need to be right.

What do you say? Are you there yet?

P.S. I lifted the graphic at the top of the post from Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives. This may or may not be a fair use of one of their graphics. If you find this, Tiny Buddha, and want me to take it down, I will. No arguing. Love your site! Facebook wisdom at its best.


My Core: Planks!

This February, I noticed I was having a hard time getting up off the kitchen floor. I’d go down on my knees to clean up a spill, and then struggle to get up again. Yikes! Suddenly, I felt eighty.

Enter the issue of strengthening my core. I’ve been avoiding the topic for years. The time had come.

“Planks,” said both of my daughters.

“Planks,” said the trainer at Planet Fitness, my beloved purple gym.

And so I’m in. No need for special clothes or shoes. On Sunday, I even did a plank in my church clothes for a change of pace. I just drop to the floor and start that plank.

There are all sorts of variations and modifications to planks. For starters, this is what I’m doing:

My first goal was to hold the plank for thirty seconds, which I now can do. It may be wishful thinking, but It seems like my stomach is a bit flatter. Hooray for that. It needs it. And I’m already getting up with less of a struggle.

What about you? Anybody else into planks? Any other core exercises that you find easy and efficient? What about you yoga people? Do you feel yoga does wonders for your core?

Photo: I wasn’t wild about posting a photo of me mid-plank. Instead, I put up the sweet rug from my mom. It’s a treasured possession, and it’s my Plank Place although, of course, you can do a plank almost anywhere.