Friday, April 19, 2013

Tuesdays with Nana and Abo

Ever since our three oldest grandsons were little, my husband and I have usually taken them on Tuesdays.  We picked them up after school, took them to their various activities, helped with homework, fed them lots of food and basically gave their hard-working parents time to relax and have a mini-date.  It’s always been something we looked forward to doing.   The only downside was their parents picked them up around 8 and had to load all their backpacks and clothes into the car, take the tired boys home and then try to settle them down again.
So…when we retired we offered to continue our Tuesdays but have the boys stay overnight and take them to school on Wednesday.  I’m sure you aren’t surprised that the parents were really happy with this plan.  For the past year, we have been picking them up at three different schools, feeding them, taking them to their various after school activities, feeding them more, doing homework and putting them to bed at our house.
Feeding the boys is a big job, but Abo is the best cook ever.  We always have food for them as soon as they finish school.  One thing we learned from raising our big family was food helped calm everyone and put them in a better mood after school.  It was amazing what we could accomplish when their stomachs were full.  It’s equally true with our grandsons.  Sometimes, Abo cooks and sometimes we go for Subways.  It depends on what is happening the rest of the afternoon.  Then after homework, activities and baths, they eat again.  Plus the table is full of healthy snacks like veggie trays and fruit.  They are growing active boys, and they are never really full.  But the best part for the boys is the morning.  Abo cooks each boy his favorite breakfast.   Noah likes his eggs fried and baked a little in the oven, Lucas likes waffles, and Joshua likes eggs but isn’t so particular about how they are cooked.  They all love bacon.
As for clothing, we have PJs here and I wash all the clothes they wear.  Actually, I learned this was a necessity.  The boys, now 15, 13 and 11, pack their own school clothes, and it can be very interesting.  Sometimes they pack two pairs of pants, no shorts, three socks…well you get the idea.  If I have everything washed, then my daughter doesn’t have to take home a bag of dirty clothes, and we can handle the clothing emergencies in the morning.  The boys all have a drawer here with some extra clothes too.  Our grandsons up north have their own drawers too. 
We live in a tri-level home and just to give you an idea of how hectic our Tuesdays can be, I accidentally wore my pedometer one Tuesday and accomplished almost 8000 steps from the time they came until they were tucked in that night.  Amazing since we try to walk 10,000 steps everyday.  If we had the boys everyday, we wouldn’t need to exercise.  No wonder their parents are so fit!
Basically from 2:30 on Tuesday until Raymond starts cooking breakfasts around 6 AM and I run the boys to three different schools ending around 8:00 AM on Wednesday we are on the go.  AND WE LOVE IT.  It’s such a special time with our grandsons.  We really get to talk with them, learn more about what they like, and take pride in what special young men they are growing to be.
The only downside is on Wednesdays we are usually very very tired.  It fills both of us with renewed admiration and appreciation for both our daughters and their husbands for the hard work and great job they are doing to raise our grandchildren., AND it reminds us how much help we received from our parents during this busy busy time in our lives – it all seems like a blur to me now.  It probably was!  So now I have a new retirement rule!

Retirement Rule #5  Plan to retire while you are still young enough to be the grandparents you always wanted to be.  And be sure you take time to rest and recuperate after grandchildren adventures.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

OMG…Look At Me?

A dear friend’s mom died last week.  The family gathered and started putting together a slide show of favorite pictures.  Out of the blue, I received an email from my oldest daughter, Bojie, with the subject line 

Fwd:  photo of your mom in 1971-ish. 

The body of the email said, “OMG!  Look at you!   luv boj.”

I stopped and really studied that picture.  At first I didn’t recognize that face looking back at me.  Sure the physical characteristics were different – 40+ years younger, darker and longer hair.  However, what struck me most were the eyes and mouth looking back at me.  They are so wide-eyed and determined as if all the pieces of life’s puzzle were clear to her. 

But how could that be?  I’m 27 in that picture and about to have my second child, my son Tico.  I finally got my gypsy man to settle down in Carlsbad, and we were rapidly creating a family that would expand to five lively, talented and very different children.  He was trying to support the family in a plethora of odd jobs that included gardening, managing apartments, teaching part time at the local community college and of course, playing his music.  I was determined to be “mother earth” – cooking big pots of soup, babysitting all our friends’ children, baking home made bread and sewing clothes plus knitting and crocheting too.  That “lovely pink dress” was one of my stylish creations J
What could I have known about how many changes were yet to take place?  Soon I would tire of my homebound lifestyle and, after a third baby in four years, I would decide I needed to work.  I became an instructional aide in my husband’s ESL classes, had two more children, returned to college to obtain my BA and MA, and then adopted a rather peripatetic and definitely frenetic lifestyle as a consultant for several adult education projects. I even took a job for three years in Sacramento, flying to work on Monday mornings and returning home on Thursday evenings.

Then life changed again.  I grew weary of coming in and out of the fabric of my family life and decided to look for work that didn’t require travel.  Luckily I was hired as the first noncredit faculty member at MiraCosta College, and I stayed put until my retirement last May.

I can’t quit looking at those eyes and the confidence that young face portrayed.  Little did she know what lay ahead of her – the difficulties, the uncertainty, the joy, and the successes.  The only constant that she and I shared was the abiding love and support from the young guitarist we chose to follow so long ago!  

Maybe that is the source of her wisdom and confidence.  She knew all things were possible as long as Ramey and Heather stayed together - and they have!