Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our First Christmas with Zach

We are well into the Christmas season but it is far from over as we celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas. My parents were married on January 6th, 1946 so finishing up the Christmas season on the twelfth day was part of my Christmas growing up. When Fran was just a baby we were concerned with Christmas becoming overwhelming and after an inspirational sermon by our pastor, Fred Warnecke about celebrating the 12 days of Christmas we decided to make that a family tradition and have been opening gifts, visiting friends, having a special meal/food or attending a museum/movie/event on every one of the days of Christmas. It gives us the opportunity to take advantage of after Christmas bargains and eliminates some of the stress of having everything done before the 25th. Also taking some time to enjoy each other's company rather than just gift giving has become an important part of our celebrating the season.

Now Fran is grown, married and has her first child, Zach, and like many new parents she wanted to start her own Christmas tradition. So on Christmas morning we went to her place, had the traditional breakfast that her husband, Josh has always had, and opened gifts there. They are continuing the 12 day tradition but there was still plenty for Zach to open from his grandparents and godparents. My son Hugh, Zach's godfather, experienced this first adult Chrsitmas responsibility - putting toys together on Christmas morning.

Zach is only six months old but he already loves everything about Christmas. He loved being involved in the preparations from wrapping presents to cookie baking to having an advance peek at his gifts before they were wrapped. He loves the Christmas tree and he is enjoying all of his new gifts. Here are some pictures on Christmas morning.

Zach sat on his father’s lap opening gifts on Christmas morning. This was one of his favorites – The Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Learning Toolbenchfrom his godmother.

Here is another favorite – also from Aunt Sonny –one part of the Vtech - 3-in-1 Smart Wheels. He is ready for this part but has to wait a while for the ride on. Yes, the gift was from Aunt Sonny but Grandma gets to hold him playing with it.

Here is Zach smiling with his mother – A big Christmas smile.

Our friends, Parikshit, Umang, Shalini and Saumya joined us on Christmas Eve for a traditional meal and Umang brought a present for Zach and I – a gorgeous set of books that we will enjoy together. They include The Mittenby Jan Brett, In Grandma's Armsby Karen Katz (She’s a favorite of both Zach and me) Love You Forever and Hide and Seek Colors. Thank you, Umang! Reading together is something Zach and I love to do together. Although he seems to like eating the books as much as reading them sometimes. Saumya is almost 2 and calls Zach “baby.” I wonder what they’ll call each other next year. They are both lively and I can picture some raucous celebrations in the future.

We had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and the season continues as we plan for our neighbor’s wedding on New Year’s Eve, finishing up the cookies before we gain too much more weight and a visit to the Montclair Museum for the Cezanne exhibit that ends this week.

Since Christmas day Zach has been enjoying some of his new toys which are finding a home at our place. I think Zach is developing an appreciation for music. All the toys these days seem to play music. And so yesterday I brought Zach to the piano and played Mary had a little lamb. Hhhmmm...he really liked the piano... I should call Patrick and have it tuned....then it will sound even better.

There is something more than special - its spiritually uplifting about celebrating a baby's first Christmas. Everyone around Zach seems to be in their own pensive state experiencing this moment in a new way. As we approach the New Year we are full of the wonder of Christmas and excitement for all that will be new ahead of us. I have enjoyed writing this blog so much this year and I look forward to sharing more about grandparenting in 2010.

Enjoy the rest of your Christmas season everyone and Please share your comments about your Christmas celebration in the Comments.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wishing You Joy, Pride and Resilience

Dear Friends,

I wish all of you a joyous holiday season and a blessed New Year. This holiday letter is being posted both at Marion Conway – Nonprofit Consultant and The Grandma Chronicles. Later this week I will offer my Christmas prayers at the Christmas Vigil for all of you who work with nonprofits, those I have worked with, all whose lives you touch and grandparents everywhere.

The snow blanketed us over the weekend and we will have a white Christmas in our neighborhood. It is dazzling albeit cold. This is my grandson Zach’s first Christmas and the whole family is enjoying watching him look at the lights on the tree and the various preparations going on. He really wanted a Christmas cookie on cookie baking day but its not quite on his diet yet. He got to play with some Christmas toys still in their cardboard holders before they were wrapped on wrapping day.

For me Christmas is a time of reflection and of joy. This has been a difficult year and 2010 will hopefully be better but it certainly will also be full of challenges. I have seen resilience this year both in my work and at home and so I plan to not only reflect but to relax and enjoy this holiday time and take the time to refresh the resilience we will all need for 2010.

Having a baby around (Zach is six months old) does seem to give you the extra oomph that keeps everything moving along. We bask in the wonder we see in his eyes and wonder ourselves what he is thinking and noticing. We take care of our health and enjoy Christmas shopping in a new way. We cherish every moment family is together. I can’t help thinking about families in homeless shelters or troubled homes and I know that some of the most generous people I have come across this year are those on the front lines of social service organizations.

At the lighting of the National Christmas Tree earlier this month President Obama said “this tradition that has come to represent more than any one holiday or religion, but a season of brotherhood and generosity to our fellow citizens.” How true.

When I think of how many lives have been impacted by the nonprofit community that I know both in person and online I realize how privileged I have been to work among this group. This year I wish you joy, pride for all you have done this past year and resilience to do even more next year.

Here is the picture of my husband and I with our grandson, Zach that we sent with our Christmas cards.

And here is my favorite picture of the zillions we took for Christmas pictures with us. This one now greets me on my computer desktop.

May You Have a Blessed and Joyous Holiday,


Monday, December 14, 2009

What Will You be Called as a Grandparent – Here’s a Little Help

What’s in a name, anyway? My daughter wanted my husband and I to be called Nana and Pop-Pop which is what my husband’s parents were called because her husband’s parents were already Grandma and Grandpa and she wanted us to be called by something different. I protested because I did not want to be called Nana which sounded old and old fashioned to me. I am a traditionalist at heart but I don’t like to be old fashioned or thought of as being old. I insist that I am still middle aged which I admit is getting to be a tougher sell every day.

My husband wanted to be called Pop but Fran said it did not match with the Grandma I am insisting on. My grandson, Zach (six months old) and my husband have become great friends - they really enjoy each other’s company. It is a joy to watch them interact. I can see them becoming quite a tag team. Pop really seems like the right fit and just recently my daughter said that Pop was fine. Wow! I am really happy about that because I know it makes my husband happy, it is easier to say, and indeed it just seems like what he should be called.

One of the things that is a topic of discussion when you are still a “grandparent-in-waiting” is what you will be called. It may be a surprise to some people that this is actually a parental decision – or so they think. In reality whatever a child begins to call you may stick and that is why so many grandparents have some unusual monikers. But we can certainly influence our name by using our preference at an early age.

On Grandparents.com I moderate a group for New Grandparents and the group attracts new and expectant grandparents. When introducing themselves they often talk about what they will be called and I have been surprised at the wide variety of possibilities. Some are from their family cultural origins or what their parents were called. Some want something young, playful and fun sounding and others want to be thought of as warm and comforting. You need a name that goes with your “ambiance” after all. It is actually more difficult to choose a name as a grandparent than as a parent. Mommy and Mom seem to cover all the bases but not the case with being a grandmother. Our role is non-essential and so we are allowed much more latitude with our name.

Amazon.com has a number of books on this subject and you can link on them by clicking on the links or ads below. The holiday season is a good time to lighten up and enjoy everything we have to be thankful for. Here are some good “Lighten up Helpers.”
You Can Call Me Hoppa! The Grandparents' Guide to Choosing a Name that Fits
The New Grandparents Name Book
The Big Book of Grandparents' Names

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A "Green" Update to a Timeless Toy - EnviroBLOX

A timeless toy for children is a building toy. All children enjoy blocks, Legos Tinker Toy, Lincoln Logs or any building set. At A Time to Play Holiday Showcase I got to see up close a modern green version of building blocks - EnviroBLOX by Cadaco toys. This award winning new idea featured on the Today Show and Regis and Kelly is really quite creative. The building "blocks" which are made of cornstarch are flexible, biodegradeable and nontoxic. When they are moistened with a sponge they stick together. The fun part for me is that they change shape so that you can build them into whatever shape you want. They come in sets of various sizes and each set has suggested designs to build. EnviroBLOX are recommended for Ages 4 and up.

I have been staying away from reviewing videogames and electronic gadgets and sticking to discussing toys that grandparents will like and may even play with with their grandchildren. EnviroBLOX fits that bill. I highly recommend them.

You can order order EnviroBlox and other items that I have reviewed at Amazon.com. Click on gifts under labels in the sidebar and see all of my recent product reviews with links directly to Amazon.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This Holiday Season Is a Good Time to Begin the Path to Philanthropy with your Children

I love blogging – so much in fact that I have two very different blogs – Marion Conway Nonprofit Consultant where I blog about topics of interest to the nonprofit community and The Grandma Chronicles where I blog about grandparenting. I never thought that I would have the same post on both blogs but here it is. I started to put my thoughts together on this topic for my consulting blog and then, it came to me...This topic works for both blogs!

The topic of teaching children to be philanthropic is an important one to me and I believe it is something that starts young. The word Philanthropy is derived from Ancient Greek and means "to love people". Philanthropy is the act of donating money, goods, services, time and/or effort to support a socially beneficial cause. Webster’s definition resonates with the holiday season: “goodwill to fellowmen”

I started to do some research for this post on the web and was happy to see that there are wonderful resources and ideas available. There was even a blog post from Beth Kanter a year ago that I contributed to on this subject.
Kids and Philanthropy: Teaching Your Children To Be Charitable by Beth Kanter

We should be thinking about philanthropy as a core value to teach children. It is an important part of wholeness in adult life and it should be something that just comes naturally. That is my basic philosophy. So just as we teach the importance of education to our children by helping with homework, providing enjoyable educational experiences, encouraging and rewarding working hard in school there is the parallel in philanthropy.

Children learn about philanthropy by example, by doing things themselves and by being taught about it. We start with the very young by teaching and practicing caring and sharing. Older children participate in community service and contribute their time, talent and treasure as we say in church. There are so many things that we can do with children to develop a spirit of community service. Whether it be volunteering at a local food bank or raking leaves for an elderly neighbor there are opportunities everywhere in our everyday lives.

If you want your children to be enthusiastic about participating in philanthropy then it has to be something that is of interest to them. It may be in helping poor children or the environment. It may be supporting children who are very sick. You may have your own interests – I know I have mine – but it is a good idea to explore with children how they would like to help others and then for them to have as much of a hands-on experience as possible.

At our church all ages participate in our holiday giving program. Young children decorate Christmas cards and small trees for the elderly. Older children help stuff Christmas stockings with a variety of supplies for men at a homeless shelter. The teens participate in cooking a special meal for the homeless shelter that is served with tablecloths, flowers and a festive theme. The hands-on experience with philanthropy is an important part of their development.

The hands-on experience I remember most with my son is that for his Eagle Scout project he collected sleeping bags for children in Newark to use for summer camp. He also collected money and arranged a big discount with Coleman to buy sleeping bags. The day he and fellow scouts went to Newark to unload the sleeping bags from the delivery truck some teens were getting sleeping bags for a trip that weekend. I think my son has always appreciated his own sleeping bag a lot more since then.

Sometimes our children have set the example for us. When my son was a freshman in high school he came home and TOLD us he was going on a trip to help re-build a burned Black church in the South during his Spring vacation. My husband decided to take a week of his vacation and go with him and several years later my husband and I went together. My daughter has a caring spirit and when she works with young children she is particularly thoughtful of a child that needs a little extra personal attention that can make a difference. She is much more the touchy feely type than I am and I know she touches the lives of children she works with in an important way.

Teaching the concepts – Many people in my generation were brought up not knowing anything about family finances or giving. Looking back my parents were generous with their time, talent and treasure. I was oblivious to the treasure part but I could see the time and talent part. We have taken a different tack with our children. They know about our giving patterns and that it is spread across local, national and international causes. They know the local organizations where we are involved very well. They know that we have priorities for our giving and that charities are named in our will. When our children were young we made matching gifts to charities that they gave to and this encouraged them to give even more. They know our “philanthropy philosophy” and as adults are forming their own. When my son started working he immediately made a commitment to make a contribution to KIVA with every paycheck. He has his own philanthropy philosophy and it developed as he was growing up.

Our philanthropy manifests itself differently at different stages in our lives but it is important at every stage. For children and young adults it can be bursting with energy and innocence and a spirit true to the origins of the word. There is no time like the holiday season to start. Kayta Andresen from Network for Good offered a fantastic idea last holiday season in Beth Kanter’s post: "Give with your kids day. "She suggests giving a child $25 to donate to a charity. You can help them research the type of charities they are interested in online.

Learning to Give - offers lesson plans, activities and resources to educate youth about the power of philanthropy

Foundation Center - Youth in Philanthropy – An extensive list of online resources is available

Games for Change - Lots of video games are avaiable for teaching children about philanthropy on topics ranging from serving the poor to the environment

A favorite book of mine on this topic is Raising Charitable Children by Carol Wiseman.

A special note to grandparents: One of the things that grandparents do is fill in some blanks as parents have busy schedules. This is an excellent responsibility for grandparents to take a leadership role in and find things you can do together with your grandchildren than enrich your lives and that of others.

Enjoy the Holidays and Live Philanthropically,


Friday, November 27, 2009

Books that Speak to Tradition and Holidays

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and we had a wonderful family gathering with 12 adults and 2 under 2. I love the holidays and I seem to get some super spurt of energy to make everything special. It helps that my husband is the best sous chef on earth and doesn’t mind peeling, cubing and dicing vegetables for hours. My cousins are the best super cleaner uppers I’ve ever seen and they pair up as a washer drier team and my kitchen table which once was filled with cooking prep was then filled with clean pots, pans and platters. My son and niece did the breakdown of tables and moving furniture back in place. Zach, my grandson, enjoys being with people and feasted on Mom’s homemade pears – I’m going to post that recipe soon. The meal was delicious and sharing lots of leftovers means that we’ll be done with ours today. It was a perfect Thanksgiving.

But now it is time to get ready for Christmas. Sunday is the first day of Advent and the fall decorations are being packed away and the first candle on the Advent wreath will be lit at Sunday dinner. Grandparents have a special responsibility to bring tradition – both new and old to the holidays. And reading holiday books is the perfect tradition for grandparents to bring to the table. Here are some holiday books that you may want to give as gifts or keep at your home to share with your family.

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore and illustrated by Mary Engelbreit
This is a wonderful classic to read on Christmas Eve and children of all ages will appreciate it when read with enthusiasm. There are many versions of this story available but I am a fan of Mary Engelbreit illustrations so I am recommending this one.

Silent Night by Susan Jeffers
This beautifully illustrated book was a favorite of my children’s and I have kept it to share with my grandchildren. There is a newer versionavailable now but it also is the perfect Christmas read at bedtime during the Christmas season.

Harvest of Light (Hanukkah) by Allison Ofanansky Photography by Eliyahu Alpern
This book describes with vivid photographs the work of growing olives, harvesting and pressing them to make oil. It goes on to show how a family uses the oil to celebrate the ancient festival of Chanukah in Israel. This is a perfect book to read with young children and connect history with our current life.

Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story by Hena Khan and Julie Paschkis
This story of a 7-year old American Muslim, observing Ramadan with her friends and family is beautifully written and richly illustrated. This is a book that will be enjoyed and is educational for children and adults – both Muslim and non-Muslim.

My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz
Karen Katz is one of my favorite authors of books for young children and this book is highly recommended by pre-school educators as THE book to use to teach young children about Kwanzaa. The eye catching illustrations make the celebration come to life.

Light The Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah And Christmas by Margaret Moorman
Some children celebrate multiple holidays at home and many children learn about multiple holidays in preschool. This book talks about what kinds of things families do together for the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays and embraces both charmingly.

These books are reasonably priced - some are incredible bargains at Amazon right now - and with each one a grandparent can start the tradition of reading about the holidays.

The readers of this blog would love to hear what are your favorite holiday books too. Please leave your comments and share your favorites with us.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Grandparent Heaven

Zach is five months old now and his parents are more than ready for date night. So my daughter has lined up both sets of grandparents to babysit on alternate weekends. We have watched him twice now and the best way for me to describe this is “Grandparent Heaven.” We see quite a bit of Zach during the week and sometimes for dinner but having him all to ourselves in the evening is a whole other experience. Here’s what our recent visit was like.

Fran was at our house in the afternoon and we walked in the park and then she napped when Zach napped. As usual when he woke it was an active time of day and all the adults took turns entertaining and being entertained. Then Fran left and we had five hours – Yes, five hours to ourselves with Zach! Zach was still in active mode and he spent some time on the floor and in his bouncy seat before dinner. At dinner we tried to feed him his newest dish - applesauce - but this was a messy event and we heard him loud and clear: “You can keep that applesauce for yourselves – I don’t like it!” But he enjoyed a sippy cup of water to no end.

Well by this point we were ready to wind down and upstairs we went for a bath. Our niece gave us a baby bathtub she is long done with and so we have our own. Zach loves the bath. I filled the tub and Hugh undressed Zach. He loves being naked – what baby doesn’t. He was in the tub for just a minute when what should there be but a giant pee! I held him up and Hugh provided fresh bath water. Zach loves the water and splashes and could probably stay there for hours if we let him. His parents have some bath toys but did not bring them but I had a rubber duckie in my hidden closet of treasures and we all had fun with that. Hugh and I broke into a rendition of Rubber Duckie from Sesame Street and Zach smiled and laughed. Then Grandpa handed him directly into the hooded towel I had waiting. Soft and clean and as nature intended. Zach’s grandparents sang some fun children songs and we all had a good time.

Time for the sleeper – how cute – once he begins to put his fist in his mouth which is Zach’s way of saying he’s hungry. I went to the kitchen to make the bottle and when I returned Zach was enjoying playing on the bed. By the way, this quilt was made for Fran almost 30 years ago by Kathy Cassidy. When he was ready for the bottle, Grandpa got the honors. We still have the rocking chair we had when Fran was a baby and it is near the windows in our bedroom. Zach loves light and was staring at the unlit light above him. I turned the dimmer on low and Zach had his bottle and stretched out in the most adorable restful pose. Hugh held him for a long time and then put him down in the Pack n’ Play. We sat up on our bed and just wallowed in what a nice night we were having. In a little while Zach was restless. Hugh picked him up and after a big burp followed by little ones he seemed wide awake again just as his mother said would happen. It was my turn to hold him and I sang Hush-a-Bye just as I did for his mother. His eyes got heavy and then closed and I laid him down on our bed this time. We laid on either side just soaking in the peace of being with our sleeping grandson. Then we heard his mother’s footsteps on the stairs and it was time for Zach to go home.

Grandparent heaven – this is it.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Recommended by Good Housekeeping and Me - Curious George Discovery Game and HyperBlast

In October I began to write reviews of products I had seen at the A Time to Play Holiday Showcase. A couple of weeks ago I was in New York again – this time on a mentoring trip with young women from Saint Vincent Academy in Newark, NJ where I went to high school. It was a wonderful day and we visited the Good Housekeeping Institute where they test products from appliances to toys along with Seventeen magazine and Wave Hill park. It was a wonderful day but that’s a whole different story. I noticed that they had some of the toys I had seen at A Time to Play that were being tested for their Best Toy List in the December issue and here are a couple that I personally checked out at A Time to Play that made the Good Housekeeping 2009 best toy list. GH first tested the toys to meet their own safety standards and any claims made by the manufacturer and then had 50 kids come in to choose their favorites. So these toys meet the requirements for safety and kids loved them. You can’t ask for anymore than that.

In October my first product review was for games made by a small company I Can Do That and I featured a picture of their Busytown game. The Good Housekeeping 2009 best toy list includes the Curious George Discovery Beach Game. This game is part memory challenge and part scavenger hunt. It is designed to promote matching and memory skills, and inspire exploration and discovery. I recommend this whole line of games but here’s the picture of the Curious George Discovery Beach Game.

Read my whole review of I Can Do That games here

I Can Do That! website

See Good Housekeeping's whole list of 2009 best toys

A toy for older children that also caught my eye and is on the Good Housekeeping list is the HyperBlast game from Wild Planet. This is a numbers game that gives players a physical and mental workout – a good alternative to computer games. This reasonably priced, $20 game is for ages 6 and up and there is also a version called 1-2-3 stomp for pre-schoolers. Both of these games look like a lot of fun but my guess is that some grandparents will have trouble keeping up with their grandchildren if they try to play this one together. I mean physically of course not mentally – of course.

I hope you enjoy your holiday shopping and get to play with whatever you get for your grandchildren. Having someone to play with is part of the fun of being a grandparent – Isn’t it?

Don’t forget to add your comments if you get any of these items - I’d love to have your review added to this post.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Onionhead – For Children Who Need Help Expressing Their Feelings

This article highlights another product I learned about at A Time to Play Holiday Showcase in New York on October 1st. I had the pleasure of speaking with Lane Michel of Onionhead. This is a small company that specializes in “Teaching us what to do with what we feel.” The company has been around for fifteen years but their products have been marketed to psychologists and special education teachers and now they are beginning to market to the general public.

Onionhead is a line of products designed for children of all ages to help them identify and communicate about their feelings. The products include storybooks featuring a specific feeling, a set of magnets depicting the Onionhead character expressing a wide range of feelings and two Onionhead Feelings Dictionaries – for younger and older children. There also are greeting cards, a coloring book, and tee shirts. Onionhead received the 2009 Toy of the Year award from Creative Child magazine.

When you buy a product from Onionhead you can feel good all over. Their products are all made in the USA and they are proud of being ahead of all government regulations for safety and environmental standards. In addition they have an associated non-profit, Save the Rain, which teaches water deprived communities to catch and use the rain as a sustainable water supply. For every purchase of an Onionhead product, a certain percentage is donated to Save the Rain.

These products are not “toys” but if you know a child with issues about expressing their feelings, this is definitely a product line worth checking out. You won't find these products in stores but you can order them online at their website.

Onionhead website

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween Was Great Fun and Had a Little Surprise Too

Halloween is always fun in our neighborhood. We have sidewalks and the houses are not too far apart. Everyone decorates for the season and mums, pumpkins, and haystacks abound. We have our share of those who go the extra mile with webs, scarecrows, etc. It is the type of neighborhood that parents drive their kids to for Trick or Treating. Frequently the kids are in groups and the parent groups stay at the sidewalk as children come to the door. It is a social event for the parents and children. The toddlers whose mother grew up across the street were trick or treating with parents, grandparents and aunt. What a proud entourage! I always offer candy or an alternative and the non-candy choices of play doh, stickers and pencils were very popular this year. I can personally attest that High School Musical stickers are popular even with older girls.

Halloween is always a time when we remember one of the reasons we have stayed put in our strong family oriented neighborhood for 25 years. Although we keep hearing that Trick or Treating is on the decline because of so many worries parents have to deal with these days, it is alive and well in an old fashioned, fun way on our block.

This year was extra enjoyable because of Zach. His parents, dressed in orange shirts with Zach in this scarecrow costume had fun visiting the neighbors but declined the candy treats. Zach was intrigued by the children that seemed to come to our door nonstop and since it was a mild night he was able to be at the open door for quite a while. Princesses, ladybugs, sports heroes and just some face makeup all seemed to catch his eye.

One interesting thing that happened this Halloween was that a boy about 10 years old proudly offered me a piece of chocolate on a card with a great picture of smiling children and a big Thank You note. It was compliments of www.ReverseTrickOrTreating.org which promotes Fair Trade products. What a great promotional idea!

Hope You Had a Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rice Cereal – The First Banquet

I considered naming this post “Zach grows up” but that seemed a bit pretentious. On Columbus Day, October 12th, Zach had solid (I think that’s exaggerating actually) food for the first time. We were delighted that Fran chose to share this event with us and it certainly was a fun event. The banquet consisted of the traditional first meal of rice cereal. Zach was in his “Lion seat" – sort of a portable high chair which he has already been enjoying at the dinner table and all eyes and smiles were on him as his mother aimed the first spoonful at him. A few seconds later the cameras were out and our family chroniclers snapped away.

So did Zach enjoy the meal? This picture speaks for itself. He had a great time! Since then both Hugh and I have had a chance to feed him and it is really so much fun! Zach sticks his tongue out wide, slurps up the cereal and enjoys his supper. However, lately he has been looking at us while we eat as if to say “Is that all there is?” The plan is for him to have applesauce next – for the first time on Thanksgiving – just short of being six months old.

Check out The Grandma Chronicles over the weekend – I’ll be reporting on the first Halloween – and yes, of course I’ll have a picture.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Holiday Gift Ideas - Today's Feature: Baby Genius

Today’s product review swings to the other end of the spectrum from yesterday’s review and features toys made by Baby Genius and available only at Walmart. Baby Genius is 10 years old so although it is an established company it is a new name to many of us grandparents.

At the A Time to Play Holiday Showcase I had the opportunity to look over some of the new toys in the Baby Genius product line. They are introducing 24 new toys for infants - pre-school ages. The toys are music and activity based. I was told that they cost about 20% less than the competitive product but I have not personally checked it out in stores.

Some of the new toys that caught my eye:

The Singing Bus: This bus with little people plays “The Wheels on the Bus.” All of us grandparents remember that one – Guess what? It’s still popular.

Pet Care Center – Our kids had doctor and nurse kits but I saw two products featuring veterinary care. This is definitely a modern twist and there is much more veterinary care than there used to be. This toy has a small dog, stethoscope, and other care items and the carry all for it is a “pet carrier.” This may be a good toy for young children who have pets to learn about and not be afraid of their pet going to the vet.

This is a reasonably priced line of toys with items beginning at $5.

Visit the Baby Genius website for more information on the complete line, the Parent’s Lounge AND you can download for free 18 songs in the “Circle of Education” designed to help pre-schoolers get ready for school. The songs feature themes like washing hands and taking turns.

Baby Genius website

A Time to Play Magazine

Check back tomorrow for another product review. To see all of the product reviews click on "Gifts" in the Label section of the sidebar.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Holiday Gift Ideas - Today's Feature: Corolle Dolls

Yesterday I featured a low cost, readily available everywhere item and today’s feature is just the opposite. Corolle dolls are definitely high end. They are sold around the world but they are designed and made in France. But it isn’t just in France, its more specific pedigree is self described on their website as only the French could do: “Corolle is located in the Loire Valley, the storybook region of France that is famous for its scenic beauty and magnificent chateaux.” You get the idea – you won’t find this in ToyRUs.

The Corolle dolls are enchanting - as befits their Loire Valley origins, soft and lifelike with beautiful clothing and accessories. There are baby dolls, ballerinas, “les trendies" for older children and more. There are some interesting items for newborns including a blankie/snuggly, the mini baby doll rattle assortment that can be attached to a crib (one is a baby boy) and dolls with sewn-on features - safe for the youngest child.

The Corolle line features lots of outfits and accessories to go with the dolls. And they also have a “French” touch. This set was featured at A Time to Play and it looked like everyone visiting the Corolle table fell in love with it. The BÉBÉ CHARMEUR GIFT SET comes with a heart-pattern carry bed, Bébé Charmeur, pink pajamas, pacifier, bib, baby bottle, and plate with spoon. This is the kind of doll that can be your grandchild’s favorite for years. It is recommended for ages 2 and up. This is a pricey item at $90 but can really be a special gift that only a grandparent would splurge on.

There also is a baby boy “Paul” doll. Since my only grandchild is a boy, this item caught my eye. Little boys like dolls too and boy dolls can be hard to find.

Some other things I Always Like to Note:

Electronic free - There are no batteries or electronics – just an old fashioned doll!

Cost – This is a pricey line but it is made in France - not China - and the quality and attractiveness of the product makes it worthy of consideration.

How to get it – This can be a project. Their website provides a comprehensive list and they are in numerous specialty toy stores, but not at mass retailers like ToyRUs and WalMart.

Website: The Corolle website provides pictures and information about all their products. It also has an easy to use menu so that you can find a store near you that carries the line.

Corolle website

A Time to Play Magazine

Check back tomorrow for another product review - I haven't decided which one yet so it will be a surprise.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Holiday Gift Ideas - Today's Feature: Games from I Can Do That!

Products from a small company - “I can do that!” were among my favorite products that I learned about at the A Time to Play 2009 World Showcase on October 1st. For grandparents, this is a company that you probably have not heard of. It was only founded in 2007 but it has already won over 40 awards – some from very prestigious educational toy sources. These games are for children 3 and up.

Here is what I like:

Characters I Know - Although they are a new company their products feature classical characters that we all know – Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry and Curious George.

Educational and Fun - The games feature large floor mats and young children develop skills and build confidence while having fun. Each game also has educational features – but the learning takes place as part of the fun. It is light years away from flash cards. The games are designed to develop teamwork, promote attention to detail and develop object identification and matching skills.

Electronic free - There are no batteries or electronics!. Wow – I love that!

Low Cost – The retail price for each game is $16.99

Easy to find – ToysrUs and other mass retailers carry these products – no excuse that I can’t find it.

Website – The company has an excellent website which includes a good page for parents to learn about playing games with young children.

Check ou the I Can Do That and A Time to Play websites.
I Can Do That!

A Time to Play Magazine

I'll be writing about products all this week so check back for more gift suggestion articles. And please...post your comments if you are familiar with any of these items or what you want to know about in the reviews.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Holiday Gift Planning - See a New Article Every Day This Week

On October 1st I went to my first industry event as a grandma blogger. Marissa Connelly at Litzky Publications in Hoboken invited me to a huge media event in New York sponsored by A Time to Play magazine.
A Time to Play Magazine

As an aside - visit their website now as they are having a daily patchwork quilt giveaway contest every day this week.

The holiday showcase featured large and small companies introducing new toys for the holidays. And they weren’t just in boxes. I got to interview company representatives, see the products up close and have all their features demonstrated. I was in the “online media” group and that included many mommy bloggers and from looking around I would say one grandma blogger(that would be me). But guess what? Some company representatives really perked up when I mentioned The Grandma Chronicles and were delighted to have a new entree to this market.

Anyway I decided in advance what my niche would be – items that grandparents would be interested in for children under 5. That focus will probably be adjusted in a few years but it represents where I am right now. This week I plan to post a bunch of articles about the products I learned about. Originally I planned to write just three articles and group them but then that seemed like a big project – Instead each company that I write about will be featured in one article.

I will be providing some articles on small companies that you may have to buy the product online but you won’t have to worry about duplicates –it will be a unique offering.

On the New Grandparents Group at grandparents.com that I moderate there are grandparents who are concerned about being able to afford great gifts for their grandchildren and so I am featuring some interesting possibilities priced under $20.
New Grandparents Group at grandparents.com

One of my favorite categories are products with characters and names we remember like Richard Scarry that are still around with some updated twists.

So be sure to check back every day as you never know when a new product article will appear. And post your comments too!

I had a wonderful time at A Time to Play 2009 Holiday Showcase and I sure hope Marissa invites me again next year.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Zach's Baptism

I have only one word that best describes Zach's Baptism - Perfect!

Last Sunday was Zach’s Baptism and it was such a glorious day that I was speechless and I am just getting to writing about it now. For several days before Sunday it was rainy and cold here. The forecast for Sunday was sunny and warmer but we were prepared for any kind of weather. I should have known that Zach always brings beautiful weather as he did for Fran’s baby shower. He’s officially invited to all of my parties as our good weather charm.

Zach was baptized outside, in the church garden under a beautiful sunny sky and cool September light breeze. He was dressed in his godfather’s (my son) baptismal outfit and he was a perfect angel. The congregation was all smiles and the family was full of pride as he looked like his hands were clasped in prayer for this picture of him as our Rector baptized him. He continued to cooperate in Church for the Eucharist service and anointing of oil.

This picture of Zach with his parents, Fran and Josh and godparents, Hugh and Sonny and our Rector, Diana is one of my favorites.

I wasted a lot of time cleaning my house the week before the Baptism. The reception was at our house but since the weather was so nice the only time anyone went inside was to the kitchen for food or the bathroom. We had set up tables outside and that’s where we all stayed. Fran and Josh arranged for the cake which was made at Carlos Bakery in Hoboken - the famous "Cake Boss" on TV. (We all love that show.)

It was wonderful that some of Zach’s young cousins were here to help us celebrate and stood up front during the Baptism in the garden. Zach cooperated at the reception also and didn’t mind at all being passed around and held by many people - some of them meeting him for the first time. Zach's other grandmother, Doris, made beautiful favors with tags marked "Bless Zachary Michael 9/13/09" Doris is the crafty grandmother - I am going to have to bring different skills to the table.

I’m finishing this post with a few more pictures to show off – Zach with his parents during the Baptism (notice he still has white socks on – they are soon gone), being shown off by his godparents and being held by our Rector right before he is baptized.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Happy Grandparents Day Everyone!

Wishing all grandparents a Happy Grandparents Day!

Tomorrow is Grandparents Day. I will be having a super day as it is also Zach’s Baptism day. I’ll be reporting on that complete with pictures later in the week. For now here is some information about Grandparents Day.

Jimmy Carter first declared Grandparents Day a national holiday in 1979 and so this is the 30th anniversary of this celebration. Jimmy Carter asked us to reflect on the impact grandparents have on our own lives – and on society. I recommend we do that this Grandparents Day also. I read a statistic that there are 70 million grandparents in the United States. Can that be? Wow.

I remember my grandparents very well. We lived upstairs from my maternal grandparents when I was very young, and I went downstairs for breakfast with them every morning. I remember my grandmother and mother doing a massive amount of baking and cooking at Christmas and the large kitchen table was full with baking preparation. I would “help” and ahhhh....I wish I had some of those recipes today. At Sunday dinner I always sat next to my grandfather - we had a special friendship. My paternal grandfather lived two blocks away. He had a mustache that tickled and we played dominoes together. He was hard of hearing and would visit us to watch a ballgame on Saturday afternoon as we had a TV – but it had to be very loud for him to hear it.

Grandparents create special relationships and impart lessons that last a lifetime. As Carter wrote, "Grandparents are our continuing tie to the near-past, to the events and beliefs and experiences that so strongly affect our lives and the world around us."

Grandparents.com has a major celebration going on. Visit for great articles, activities and more. Check out the groups – I am the moderator of the New Grandparents group – I hope you will join us.

You can also visit Grandparents.com on Facebook

Mommy Bloggers celebrating Grandparents Day on their blogs include:
Hula Hooping Mom

Maria Bailey of Mom Talk Radio

Maria at Saving Queen

On Thursday I had a great time celebrating at a pre-Grandparents Day party on Twitter and I met both of these Mommy Bloggers. There were mothers and grandmothers and super conversation – all 140 characters (That’s the limit on Twitter) at a time. The group is planning a Grandparents Night Out for 2010. Sounds like fun already. But this year I have to get back to party preparations for tomorrow afternoon at my house.

Have a wonderful Grandparents Day.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Getting Ready for Baptism

Zach will be baptized very soon so we are once again in the getting ready for a big party at the house mode. This one is actually trickier than the shower because we will all be at church and then the reception is immediately following at our house. For Fran’s baby shower I put the men to work as the staff but the grandfather, father and godfather should get to enjoy the baptism party and not just be working.

So what to do? First of all cater some of the food rather than prepare all of it myself. I’ve hired one of my son’s friends who is an experienced server to receive the catered food and manage setup while we are at church. My son hopes they will still be friends and she will still like me when she finishes working for me for a day. I have tried to assure him, to no avail, that with her experience as a server she will be fine handling this project. And of course, there won’t be any “activities” like decorating onesies to manage. There is a big surprise planned for the cake that Fran and Josh are planning but I am not writing about that now – I will after the event though.

Here is a great picture of Zach with Aunt Sonny. I love this picture of them both smiling – they seem so happy together. On Tuesday, we had family dinner and read through the Baptism service. That stimulated a lengthy conversation on theology and the choice of words and use of gender references in the service. It was a great way to get ready to become a godparent.

If the weather cooperates, the Baptism will be outside, in the Memorial Garden of our church. Fran, Zach and I visited the church yesterday when we dropped off paperwork and it will be a beautiful place for the Baptism. Zach loves being outdoors - I can picture him looking up at the sky and the beautiful greenery in the garden and being perfectly content to be baptized. He will be wearing the same baptismal outfit that my son, his godfather, wore 25 years ago. Well, that is my vision of his Baptism at this point in time anyway.

I’ll keep that image in my mind as I all working on the preparations – cleaning the house, getting paper products, ordering some catered food, preparing some food myself, checking with Josh’s mother on a few details, arranging flowers – oh and some Mumms for the front porch and patio, getting my son up extra early to set up tables in the yard. Oh well, I actually love entertaining so I’ll just keep focused on the blessings of the day and the fun of having a party. Oh, and God, another beautiful day like we had for Fran’s baby shower would be very much appreciated.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More Zach Observations from Grandpa

Here is another guest post by my husband. He seems to be getting into this blogging thing.

Zachary is very involved in family discussions. When visiting, he sits on my lap after dinner and participates fully in the chat. He babbles up a storm and waves his arms around so much you would think he was conducting the Philharmonic! He has no trouble getting attention when speaking; he’s like an attention magnet!

We have fun together too. He finds peak-a-boo to be moderately interesting but really gets a chuckle from me blowing bubbles on his toes! Grandpa, what are you doing? It turns out that the most fun of all is to stand up with minimal help. That always gets a super big smile from Zach. If a baby were alone in the forest and stood up, would he still smile? I think this one would!

Zach’s starting to be interested in song. I’ll admit I’m not the best singer in the world but I try to make up for quality with enthusiasm. He enjoys watching my silly hand and finger action when I sing Five Bottles of Beer on the Wall. I’m not sure if he’s wondering why I hold up fewer fingers with each verse or if he’s checking my math in case I slip up. We recently started singing the Hokey-Pokey where we put Zach’s right hand in and take Zach’s right hand out…

Visual things seem more interesting to Zach than any singing I do. For example, he likes contrast such as between light from a window and dark of the wall. He likes a particular striped shirt I wear. He likes the playthings Fran puts over him in his play gym. It’s all beauty and wonder to him. Someday he’ll enjoy that about a sunset or a campfire or a starry night.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Favorite Books on Grandparents.com's List of 14 Best Baby Books

I am now hosting a group at Grandparents.com called “New Grandparents.” It is a new group and we already have 22 members – please come join us and chime in on the conversation. Grandparents.com is a great resource rich website for grandparents - it is really chock full of useful information.

A recent article entitled 14 Best Baby Books provides a wonderful list of books especially for babies. I recently went to my local Barnes and Noble and felt both overwhelmed and not enthusiastic at the same time as I flipped through the choices of baby books. The few books I liked seemed awfully overpriced and I wound up not buying any. Fortunately at my daughter’s baby shower many people brought a book and Zach has quite a wonderful starter library.

View the entire Grandparents.com list with a summary review of each here

Here is my list of the top five books on the Grandparents.com 14 Best Baby Books list. All 14 books are available at Amazon.com This list of five books met these two criteria:

Discounted at Amazon - up to over 50% off – or quite inexpensive
4½ or 5 star review by 5 or more reviewers at Amazon

1. Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton
$5.99 160 reviews – 5 stars
This book is not discounted but it is very inexpensive. I remember Sandra Boynton when I read to my own kids - starting with Fran 28 years ago – and she was always a favorite. It looks like she still is.

2. Ma! There’s Nothing to Do Here! Barbara Park
List price $15.99, $10.87 at Amazon 23 reviews – 5 stars
This book is highly recommended for an older child when a Mom is expecting. Looks like a winner to me.

3. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, Helen Oxenbury
List price $16.00, $10.88 at Amazon 19 reviews – 41/2 stars
This book is a rhyming gem and Helen Oxenbury (another illustrator familiar to my children) make this book a winner – and a good buy with the Amazon discount.

4. Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
List price $17.99, $12.23 at Amazon 67 reviews – 41/2 reviews
This Caldecott Book winner with black and white illustrations is called “luminous” by one reviewer” and destined to be a classic by another. I know my kids were drawn to several books done in black and white and this one seems to spark the imagination and the heart.

5. Princess BabyList price $14.99, $10.19 at Amazon 7 reviews – 41/2 stars
I am actually not into the Princess theme but this book met my criteria

You can click on the title of the book in the Great Books for Your Grandchild box in the sidebar and go straight to Amazon if you are interested in any of these books.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Grandpa Brags.....I Really Can't Blame Him

My husband, Hugh, is the guest blogger for this post.

Zachary and I get along very well. One of our favorite routines is for him to sit on my lap at the table when the family lingers after dinner. He likes to be part of the action and seems perfectly at ease there. I hold him on my leg and lean him against me. One arm is around him and the other hand is on his chest or nearby just in case. He feels sooo good. I’ll always remember.

Another thing is that we have jokes together. The first laugh happened in an instant: Zach let out a noisy fart, I made giant bug eyes, and he smiled back. Since then he smiles when I joke with him as long as I’m a little silly about the punch line. Not everybody laughs at my dumb jokes so I really love this kid!

I was honored and pleased to be Zach’s first babysitter. He was still pretty new but doing just fine. I visited with him often and was very comfortable caring for him. I could do all the necessary things such as preparing bottles, feeding, burping, changing, etc. It had all come back to me. And very importantly, I listened to his Mommy (a.k.a. my daughter) and followed her instructions very carefully. Then one day Fran and Marion told me they were going on an outing for a couple of hours and I would be caring for Zach. Yippee! We did just fine together. Since then I’ve watched him several times and am happy to do so.

Zach’s learning to stand. He does it best when holding him face to face on my lap. He pushes himself up to a standing position. He’s wobbly of course and I hold him carefully but he really likes to do it. Sometimes he seems squirmy and it’s not hunger or a wet diaper or anything like that … he just wants to stand. And when he does it there’s no mistaking the pride on his face. Look at me Grandpa!

I sing to him to. If a lullaby is in order I may sing Amazing Grace, or If I Fell (the Beatles), or Hush-A-Bye. But since I generally see him during awake times, the songs are more lively like the one about Dancing With a Dolly With a Hole in Her Stocking or about how I Love to Go A Wandering. I can’t really say he’s into songs yet; he just looks at me and turns to something more interesting. But we’re working on it. I expect some day Zach and I will sing songs together like The Wheels on the Bus, or Old MacDonald Had a Farm or A Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall. It’ll be fun!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Zach Tidbits

Well I am going to try to post more often as not every post should be some major event. Here are just some “Zach Tidbits.”

My daughter has bought a small pool and Zach loves spending hot summer afternoons in the pool. His Mom is a great swimmer and she is of those people who can hold her breadth forever underwater. So Zach – I bet swimming is in your future.

I am having a wonderful time introducing Zach to new people and they all seem to enjoy seeing my transformation into a beaming grandmother.

I went to the flea market at our summer community on Saturday and noticed something that I haven’t noticed before. There were great values on toys for young children and all the customers in this section were young children and grandmothers. Parents are hoping to rid themselves of more of this stuff but grandmothers all think it is cute and looks like lots of fun. I bought the most adorable lawnmower for a toddler…maybe next summer Zach – I have it stored in a safe place. Some friends were buying toys such as a tractor and a vacuum cleaner. What fun! I haven’t shopped for this kind of stuff…well in a generation!

Sometimes Zach looks like he is sleeping but he really isn’t. We know this because if you try to lie him down he immediately is awake. My daughter has this look pretty down pat. She calls it his “Grandma Look.” His brow is slightly furrowed and Fran says “He is thinking and concentrating like his Grandmother always does.”

Well that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed the tidbits. Please leave a comment with some of your own tidbits about you and your grandchildren. People who read this blog also mention the comments to me and so they are read.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Zach Throws a Picnic and Meets his Extended Family

Now that Zach is a little older he is ready for some social life. We kicked that off with a big bang. I had been emailing with our two nieces, Clare and Kathleen,

about stuff they had and were offering for Zach. Their children are in the 7 – 10 age range and the motorized ride-on jeep – with a spare battery, sandbox, seesaw, bouncy seat and Baby Einstein videos were gathering dust and taking up valuable space.

So I invited them with their children and their Mom to a picnic lunch to meet Zach. We started out with our nieces and their children holding Zach while my husband took pictures with his fancy new camera. Zach was as cooperative as could be and rather enjoyed being held by the new cousins he was meeting. Our nieces, by the way, are our children’s godmothers. It was a nice day and we shifted the activities to the backyard and enjoyed a picnic lunch and being outside.

At last my husband's sister, Clare, also got to hold Zach. As the mother of five and grandmother of seven, she knows her way around babies pretty well.

Then it was time for a bigger adventure. We packed ourselves up, my son, Hugh, with Megan on his shoulders, and went to the park. My son headed up the paddleboat ride with his younger cousins – Mike, John, Shannon and Megan. Zach isn’t quite ready for that so Fran and Josh strolled Zach over to the playground to check things out. My son treated the kids to ice cream and some further adventuring in the park as Zach headed back to our house for a rest and clean diaper.

When we all came home there was dessert that my nieces brought and finally figuring out what new equipment would stay at our place and what would find a home at my daughter’s home.

It was a wonderful day. We were concerned about how Zach might respond to a lot of chaos but everyone was respectful of his space and I think he really enjoyed meeting his extended family. Perhaps now he knows that family gatherings will mean lots of fun. And we all had a lot of fun. .....But why is my house beginning to look like I’m the one who just had a baby?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

And So Grandmothering Begins......

I have been a grandmother for more than a month now and it is time for an update. Since June 5th it seems like we’ve transcended into a new world. Fran, Josh and Zach live nearby and so we get to see them often. Last week, Fran and I went to BabiesrUs and the supermarket while my husband, Hugh, got to be the first babysitter. He did a great job, of course, and I am jealous as I have yet to have that “Just the two of us” experience.

A favorite activity for Fran, Zach and I has become to take a walk in Verona Park. We enjoy meeting lots of other mothers and grandmothers doing the same thing. Zach enjoys the walk but gives us a “What is going on?” look when we have a short distance of sidewalk to pass that is sort of broken up.

Today my husband took almost a hundred pictures of Zach on a blanket in the yard and this is the one Fran chose to have on his birth announcement. I liked another one better where he didn’t have his tongue out but the tongue look seems popular around here. The one I liked didn’t have both hands – and his hands are sooo cute.

It is a wonderful experience to hold, feed, change a diaper, talk to and play with your own grandchild. Everyone loves babies, but he isn’t just a baby. Zach is connected to me in a way that no other person in the world is. Sometimes when I look at him I am so conscious of that connection. And I am anxious to explore all the things we may enjoy doing together. I know there will be experiences where I get to re-live time I had with my own children and that Zach will introduce me to new experiences.

I hope he is interested in some of the stuff I have in mind. How long will it be until we can visit The Newark Museum and then the American Museum of Natural History in New York? Will he be interested in going in to NY with Grandma and walking up to TKTS to get half price tickets to a Broadway show – I know that is farther off. My son loved doing that. Whenever we go to the Jersey Shore I absolutely covet the ability to build sand castles with a child and I am already plotting that activity for a couple of years from now. Will he be interested in playing the piano? I’ll be happy to get him started. Will he be interested in hitting a few tennis balls with Grandma? There are tennis courts in the park.

For now I am happy to settle for simple activities like taking a walk in the park and watching him grow and enjoy life everyday. When I’m around Zach it seems there is a perpetual smile on my face. No wonder.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Zach Has Arrived! I am a New Grandmother!!

On Friday, June 5th my daughter gave birth to my first grandchild, Zachary Michael. He was 7 lbs., 2 oz. and 21 inches long. She had natural childbirth without an epidural and her husband, Josh and I were with her throughout labor. He is sooooo beautiful and a total joy to hold and take care of. He is of course a night owl and comes alive during the night so his parents have that sleep deprived look of new parents. Grandparents get all the pleasure and none of that – What a deal!

That’s the summary and here’s the full story for those of you who love the details. On Friday morning I went with Fran and Josh to a regularly scheduled ultrasound. The ultrasound technician said that he was in the right position and she estimated a weight of 6 lbs., 14 oz. She spent a lot of time at different points in the exam looking at the heartbeat. All seemed well.

The nurse called my daughter ‘s cell phone on the way home and she said that the baby had a slight irregular heartbeat and a slightly decreased fluid level and she should go to the hospital and be checked on the fetal monitor. To myself I thought – the baby is full term, he’ll induce today. I dropped them off at the hospital and went home to pace around and get ready for the next step.

By Noon I was on my way to the hospital with Fran’s bag, the baby bag and lunch for Josh. They had started Fran on pitossin but she still had well spaced medium contractions. Her doctor was off, but who should walk in and be the doctor who would deliver my first grandson – my own gynecologist. I felt better right away – so did Fran. He is my age and as experienced as can be in delivering babies. I also like his straightforward and honest manner.

At 2 PM he broke her water and contractions picked up. When she told him she would want an epidural he discouraged it and she decided to wait. At around 4 PM they moved us to a birthing room which had a section all set up for the baby and a bed that converts for delivery. Fran had a lot of back pain and decided to take a shower while she was standing from the move. So far everything had progressed at a moderate pace and seemed on track for a normal first delivery. We were taking bets about whether he’d be born on Friday or Saturday. I was betting on Friday. Fran was betting on by the start of the Yankee game at 7 PM.

Once she settled into the bed the doctor examined her and I had to help get the ointment on his gloves. Where was the nurse anyway? She was 9 cm dilated and it was too late for an epidural. He told her to call for the nurse as soon as she had the urge to push which happened about one minute later. The woman next door was delivering her third baby and both babies were going to be born at the same time. That’s where the nurse was. The doctor decided to stay with Fran since she was a first time mother and the resident delivered the baby next door – with frequent reports between the nurse and doctor between contractions.

The doctor performed an episiotomy and soon thereafter with some determined pushing Zach was born! The Neonatologist performed the Apgar test and declared him a 9, 9 – perfectly healthy. His Dad took the first picture while he was on the scale but Fran had to wait to hold her son while she had a lot of stitching. Besides the episiotomy she had a big tear on the other side. I think this may have been the worst part.

Finally Fran had Zach in her arms, the table with all the medical stuff, bloodied pads, etc., was removed and other grandparents arrived on the scene. A star was born and cameras flashed away. Godparents arrived and balloons, teddy bears and flowers filled the new room. The parents beamed and Zach looked angelic and comfortable to be in his mother’s arms.

Zach came home on Sunday. He is settling in and seems quite at home. Sleeping during the night is yet to be mastered. But we are all dancing on air with joy. I love holding, singing to him, changing his diaper and just looking at him. Yesterday I got to help with his first bath.

I’ll keep you posted. God has truly blessed us.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Perspective of the Expectant Mother

My guest blogger this week is Fran - the expectant mother. I think that Fran has provided an insightful look at the mother-daughter relationship along with the normal concerns that first time mothers-to-be have as the due date gets this close.

I am Fran, the pregnant one. I have never needed my mother more then during this pregnancy. Early on I received weekly ultra sounds to check on the baby due to my history of three miscarriages. I needed her with me for support. She was with me when we heard his heartbeat for the first time. I’m full term now and two and a half weeks away from my due date. I also am so scared of all the unknowns related to labor and delivery. I’m ready to hold him in my arms and be the mother but I am so scared of not knowing what will happen. I know every labor and delivery is different. But I had asked my mom to be there if Josh has a hard time being supportive and she clearly takes that as a compliment.

We have always been a close family, as you can probably tell. As my mom and I have different personalities leading to the usual mother/daughter issues, we also very much love each other and are close. My dad and I were talking yesterday about family support post baby. He said that while both him and my mom loved their parents, they really only had each other to rely on. I’m lucky. Both sets of grandparents live in the same town so Zach will be able to get to know them really well. The only grandparent I got to know well was my mother’s mother. I wish I knew all of them better. We are lucky to be able to provide for Zach the opportunities to get to know all of his grandparents well so a long time from now when they are no longer here, he’ll remember them and those memories will carry with him. I truly feel that this is a gift we are able to give him. On Tuesdays I eat lunch with my parents, and this will continue once Zach is born and provide time for him to spend with grandma and grandpa. On Saturdays Josh visits his parents and will bring Zach with him to spend time there too. We also still have weekly dinners with my family where my dad has claimed that Zach will sit next to him. These dinners are a very important part of my week.

The name debate. In my dad’s post he mentions what he’ll be called. There actually is a story behind that. My brother and I called my mom’s parents “Grandma” and “Grandpa” (grandpa died a year before I was born). We called my dad’s parent’s “Nana” and “PopPop”. For me, I have always loved that we had different names for the different sets of grandparents. For as long as I can remember I wanted to do that for my kids. Problem: Josh’s parents have four grandkids already and they refer to them as “Grandma” and “Grandpa”. My mom’s grandparents were “Grandma” and “Grandpa” and that’s all she is willing to respond too (my stubborness, which Zach apparently also possesses was inherited from her). My dad’s grandfather was called “Pop”. He would prefer to be called “Pop”. Since “Grandma” and “Grandpa” are taken I wanted to go with “Pop” and “Nana”. My mother does not want to be called “Nana”. One thing I have learned to do is pick my battles so against my preferences but for the sake of family peace my parents will be called “Grandma” and “Grandpa” since it’s important to me the names at least match.

It’s looking like Zach is going to be on the bigger size so we don’t want to pack clothing for him just yet even though clothing in Newborn, 0-3 Months, and 3 Months are all clean and ready for him to wear. I decided to give my mom the honor of choosing his hospital clothes after he is born and we know his actual weight and height. I hope my mom feels that this truly is a special thing since I think most new moms like to make the choice themselves.

My mom and I have gotten closer with this pregnancy and I hope we continue to get closer as we share the experience of both being mothers. I know one thing about my mom though, it’s not easy for her to think of me as a mother but this experience has encouraged her to reflect on her experiences in becoming a mother. I am do grateful to have her help and support through this. Josh is wonderful, there is no better and more supportive father to be, but sometimes in life, no matter the age, a girl just needs her mother. While I’m in labor but before delivery I know one thing, I will need my mom to help me. When we hear Zach cry for the first time, whoever is with me, it will be not only the start of a new generation in our family but a creation of a new bond between us. A bond she will never share with my brother but always will with me, the bond of motherhood.