Author Archives: Barbara

About Barbara

Grandma, Education, Lifelong learner

Gotta Love Those Boys

Grandpa and I always counted ourselves fortunate that we enjoyed the many hours Lane, Dalton, and their friend, Derek spent with us as they grew up.  Summer visits began when the boys were around five or six years old. The older the boys got, the more weeks they spent with us. Once they hit their teen years, they got jobs shoveling manure for extra pocket money. Yes, they created a great deal of mischief along with lots of laughter. Always, without exception these young boys continued to be good kids.

Now, that the three older guys have hit their twenties, I continue to miss their visits. Fortunately, we now have three younger grandsons (not counting Baby Rhett) who fill the big guys’ shoes quite nicely. With Chandler on a camping trip, Aidan and Ellioitt invited Korben, a friend from school. The three boys started the evening playing pool, ping-pong, and air hockey. They also amazed us by walking on balance beams. We ate dinner at P Terry’s, which promised to give all money to the Austin American Statesman for families in need. Lane (the oldest grandchild) and his wife, Margie joined us. Continue reading

Building Family Memories

Although we only see the children who live out of town on rare occasions, the time with them feels sweet and special when we can be together. This Thanksgiving, we enjoyed time with Dina and her three children: Rylie (age 9), Ana (age 7), and Baby Rhett (age 1) who flew here from California.

It was a little over a year ago that I wrote about a very tiny, 3.5 pound, premature baby boy named Rhett. Today, at age one, he wears Toddler 2’s and 3’s. He manages to stay very active, moves with lightening speed, and remains totally curious. We had a good time with all three children as they played in our new home and went on short adventures with us. Rylie and Ana amazed us by going swimming! The water felt much too cool for all of us but those tough little CA girls plunged right into that November water. A trip to Windmill Park also provided fun for all of us.  Continue reading

Life — Too Strange to be True!

Life can sometimes be stranger than fiction. From September until the middle of November, we lived one of those life experiences.

In August, we bought a house with many attractions for grandchildren. However, a few small improvements seemed in order. Soon, we heard ourselves saying, “Well, if we mess up the living room by knocking down the pop-corn ceiling, we may as well clean up all the downstairs’ ceilings.

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How You Can Help Your Child Mourn

Jenny Wise has submitted another thoughtful article. Please read and consider her ideas about ways to help a child in grief.

It’s always devastating when someone you love dies. Whether it was a parent, spouse, or friend, the loss is heartbreaking — and it’s not going to suddenly disappear. Grief is a journey that everyone must take. Thankfully, you’re an adult and can find resources, friends, and help to get through this difficult time.

That’s why you need to be there when your child mourns. They don’t have the experience or skills to cope with the death like you can. While you cannot ignore your own needs, read on to learn more about helping your child get through the grieving process. Continue reading

Leaving the Land of Enchantment

After visiting our son David and his wife Melissa in Albuquerque, I came away convinced that New Mexico truly must be the land of enchantment. Trees with autumn colors backed by mountain ranges, and Native American decorations throughout the city promoted a feeling of peace and beauty.

David and Melissa went out of their way to show us a good time. We visited a film class and watched students at the Central New Mexico Community College making a movie. I found filming activities entertaining and educational.

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“What’s happening?” Questions From a Second Grader

“Hey! What’s happening? What’s going on here?” These questions expressed a smidgen of the confusion and pain our grandson experienced in second grade. In third grade, Elliott got answers to his questions. His school diagnosed him as a child with dyslexia and dysgraphia.

Our conversation began last spring when Elliott said, “Grandma, I really suffered in second grade. I didn’t understand why the other kids started to read really well and I couldn’t make it work. Nothing in school worked for me.” With diagnosis in hand, he became caught in a web of anger toward school, dyslexia, and most of all — himself. Elliott’s feelings probably matched those of countless other youngsters. How frustrating to be trapped between the realities of above average intelligence along with the limitations of a brain that processes — not wrongly — but differently.

Elliott has always been a smart little guy. He likes insects, enjoys a strong vocabulary, and plays electronic gizmos with dynamite execution. Cute, curious, lively — all the qualities that should have propelled him into academic success. No wonder he felt confused.

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This is What Parents of Children with Special Needs Can Do to Plan for the Future

An aspiring young writer, Jenny Wise asked to write an article for this blog.  In her writing, Jenny shares her compassion and understanding of children with severe disabilities.  I know you will appreciate what Jenny has to offer.  

Parents of children with special needs understand more than anyone else just how important it is to plan for the future. These parents cannot afford to put off creating a plan to ensure their children will be cared for when they no longer can do it themselves. You may not be able to care personally for your child forever, but you can make sure the right people do.

  1. Keep Detailed Records

Keep all of your special needs child’s records up-to-date. Create a file containing your child’s medical history, previous and current medications, surgeries and procedures, therapies, and doctor histories in a secure location in your home and in a safe deposit box or in your lawyer’s office.

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We Wanted A Bit of Magic

Sometimes the best-laid plans blow up all over us! Elaborate arrangements for a Labor Day weekend wedding in Corpus Christi began ebbing away when Hurricane Harvey first hit the Texas shores. Shortage of gasoline became the final blow to the couple’s wedding dreams. On Thursday evening when Joy called to tell me they had decided to cancel plans for a Saturday wedding in Corpus, she asked if they could get married in the gazebo behind our newly purchased home. Well of course! No problem! Yikes! Crawling into bed that evening, I asked Chris, “Can we pull this off?” “Of course we can,” he assured me.

 

So, with the first floor of our new home totally torn up for remodeling, downstairs toilets pulled, running water turned off, and only one day to prepare, we put a wedding together. Chris worked extremely hard cleaning the pool and balancing the PH levels. Our daughter Kirsten once again came through with brilliance and stamina. Todd helped with the delivery of tables and chairs and with wise suggestions. David, Melissa, Lane and Dalton joined the effort. We cleaned, swept, and moved tables and chairs. Continue reading

Invitation to Action

Never in my life can I recall having anxiety for the fate of our nation. As I consider our splintered attitudes, I fear that the moral grit of our nation balances precariously on a tight wire of values. I wonder if we will reclaim our imminent leadership or if we will crash and burn into the likes of a third world country? I also wonder if any of you share these questions and concerns? Below, I consider four ideas related to understandings and possible actions.

  1. Personally I need to understand that as defined by the First Amendment, freedom of speech does not include words and actions (fighting words) that pose harm to others. Like you, I listened to the chants in Charlottesville, Virginia. I cringed as I heard, “Jews will not replace us,” and “Blood and soil” (a term from Nazi Germany based on genetics and land of birth), “Go back to Africa” and words such as “faggot” and “nigger”. I find it comforting to know that the constitution supports values that match my own thinking.
  2. With stronger understanding of freedom of speech under my belt and our nation’s dysfunction exhibited with such glaring ugliness, I now turn to a consideration about how to respond. I have lived long enough to remember the return of military personnel at the end of World War II. I recall stories of torture and inhumanity toward Jews and others who were unacceptable to Hitler. Words of hate, rejection, racial bigotry and rejection have never been and will never be acceptable. I cannot condone or even ignore slurs toward other humans whether due to race, ethnicity, religion, gender preferences, gender identities, or origin of birth. When our president accepted those who shouted abominations, I found his attitude unacceptable.
  3. I must disagree with the president’s statement that there were good guys on both sides or that opposing sides were equally wrong. Although I am certain the local citizens and students at the rally made their own mistakes, we must stay focused on the presence of the alt-right, neo-Nazi, white supremacists.
  4. Even as I denounce white supremacists, I remind myself that for the nation to heal, we must all decrease our own hate and violence. Hate never defeats hate. To live with myself, I must participate in reasonable (or maybe unreasonable) nonviolent ways. In the process, I must not lapse into the temptation to despise others.

In closing, I urge all of us to join together to write letters, send emails to elected officials, attend meetings, and participate in rallies. What is America all about? It is all about us.

Work Cited:

Campbell, Alexia Fernandez. “Some Racist, Homophobic Chants in Charlottesville May Not Be Protected Under the First Amendment.” Vox. August 15, 2017. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/15/16144058/charlottesville-free-speech

“What Does Free Speech Mean?” United States COURTS. 2017. http://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/educational-resources/about-educational-outreach/activity-resources/what-does

A Touching Story of Pure Love (or Maybe Not. . .)

On a hot summer day in August, I took Catherine, Aidan, Chandler, and Elliott to Altitude, a trampoline park. Because of a torn contact lens, Catherine had to stop jumping early and be delivered to an eye appointment. The agreement was that the three boys would keep jumping during the brief time I would be away.

Just before leaving with Catherine, I gathered the children for a water break. Elliott insisted that he did not need water; he needed candy. After touching his sweaty little body, I replied, “No, Elliott, you really need some liquid. No candy at this time.” A serious pout began.

As I prepared to leave, Aidan whispered, “Grandma, Elliott may really need some water. Would you leave some money with me just in case he needs something?” Well, of course I would. Off I drove with Catherine.

Upon my return, Aidan confessed, “Grandma, I got worried about Elliott. He wouldn’t jump; he wouldn’t drink anything. He just sat there pointing. So to take care of him, I bought some candy and made him share it with Chandler and me. That way, Elliott didn’t get too much sugar.” How thoughtful of Aidan. Looking at Elliott, I said, “Next time, let him pout.”

Hmmm. Perhaps from the beginning Aidan had a divinely conceived plan to get candy for everyone as soon as I left with Catherine. I ponder this remote possibility. . .

You have to love a kid who works from a master plan to manage the adults in his life. At age twelve, Aidan never misses a beat. Apparently, we adults totally lack the resources to keep up with his drumbeat. I find myself smiling. Oh — the possibilities for this kid.