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Grandparent Blog Editors on StageofLife.comRead below for a welcome message from our Grandparents editors.  While thousands of writers and bloggers contribute their stories and essays to StageofLife.com, we work closely with our grandparent editors who are here to comment on your blog posts, lend a helpful voice, and answer your questions about grandparenting here on StageofLife.com. If you would like to meet all of our Editors working on the Stage of Life initiative or apply for an Editor position, please check out our Staff page and Contact Us.

Weekly Message from the Editor

Grandparenting Editor's Welcome: July 1st-31st, 2013

Home is Where Love is

by Susan Saunders, Grandparenting Editor

My home is not fancy or new, it is not a mansion with manicured lawns and a view of a lake, it doesn't have air conditioning or a pool, the furniture is getting frayed and my decorating style can best be described as... affordable hodge podge comfy. There are numerous repairs and upkeep that need to be done, some have been put off for years... "until we can afford it."

  Many people spend a great share of their income on their homes... remodeling, painting, getting new furniture and appliances, etc. and that's great. Our number one priority was always our children... and that's where most of our money went.  We may have made some bad decisions along the way, but everything we did was with the thought it was what would be best for them.  Raising six kids pretty much on one income (I did work at various times) is not easy - but that was another decision we made... for the kid's benefit.  We decided early on that it was more important for me to be a stay at home mom than for us to have a lot of nice things, or go on vacations or fix up our house, etc.

Today, we are making some progress. Four of our kids are married with families of their own. Two are single... one of the youngest is a recent college grad and has yet to find a real job, so she is living at home.  Some are paying us back for college loans. We no longer have to put everything we need on the back burner. But now we spend a lot of money going to visit our kids and grandchildren... so it is still about family... they come first... that is just how we think.

When our grandchildren visit we don't have a pool for them to swim in, or a cabin by the lake to take them to and there isn't a beach nearby or a yard full of playground equipment. But what we do have is an abundance of love... in this old house... that is what we have the most of. We have lots of toys, lots of movies, lots of good food, lots of hugs, lots of joy and lots of calming comfort... and lots of love... that is what we "decorate" with. The kids can run and play and nothing is so nice that I worry about things getting ruined... instead of constantly worrying about my things... I can just enjoy my grandchildren. They like to come here, so to them it isn't about outward appearances as much as it is to be with Oma and Poppa.

So remember... no matter where you live, or what kind of house you have... make love define your home... it will be what your grandchildren cherish the most.

What do you remember about your grandparent's homes?  Did you ever feel uncomfortable there?  What do your grandchildren like to do when they visit your house?

 And don't forget to check out our writing contest for grandparents.

Grandparenting Editor's Welcome: June 1st-30th, 2013

Fond Memories of Grandparents

by Rachel Thomas, Grandparenting Editor

I grew up being very close to not only my grandmother but my great-grandmother as well. I loved being around them both. Every time I see an old fashioned sewing machine with the pump peddles, or smell cinnamon apples stewing on the stove I think of great gram. I also loved being around my gram because she was so much fun to talk to and she was always interested in whatever interested us. Her hands were so soft and squishy, I used to love to sit and hold her hand or walk hand in hand with her as we would go along.

Neither one of my grandmothers had very much money but with what they had they were so giving and loving. I remember going to great grams with one or another of my dolls each week and as soon as she saw me with a dolly she would sit down at the sewing machine. She pulled out some scrap material, glanced at my doll, and whipped out a dress within minutes. I would watch in awe as she pumped away at that old sewing machine and transformed a piece of material into a dress that fit my dolly perfectly.

Great gram always had something to feed us when we would drop by. It seemed like it always included stewed apples. What a wonderful flavor those apples had, and to this day I can still taste them. The kitchen was one that would be classified as “shabby chic” these days. Gram made her curtains, her dish towels, and her aprons and the furniture was probably from the thirties or forties. I loved that old fashioned enamel-top kitchen table and chrome chairs, it made me feel loved somehow. She had an old stove and on the wall hung a match holder and a place to strike the matches. I remember her using those matches often to light her stove.

On the back porch was her pet bird that my oldest brother loved to torment. She would tell him one time to quit and if he did not she would not say it again. She would simply walk to the kitchen and pull out a piece of bread with butter and sugar, or a piece of lettuce with sugar, or peel an apple or potato for each of us and tell us to go out back and eat it. We would gladly go with our snacks and there we would stay until it was time to go home. She had a nice back yard to play in with a converted garage which was separate from the house. She used it to make extra money by renting it out.

The first lady that lived there, from what my mother told me, was a cousin of sorts, second or third. Anyway, we just knew she was a witch because she was so mean! She also had a wart on her nose and on her chin, no kidding! She came out and yelled at us kids from time to time for making too much noise. The next lady that lived in the little house was so nice. I loved to visit her as well. She liked to have me as company and would talk about old times and show me all of her memorabilia. I loved listening to her stories.

Speaking of stories, my great aunt (great grams sister) would come to visit and her name was ArizonaTerritory. The story goes that they were traveling by covered wagon and she just happened to be born in ArizonaTerritory as they were passing through. We called her Aunt Zoni. She told the very best stories. I loved sitting on her lap listening to her stories. She would tell many Bible stories to us kids but even when it was not a Bible story it always had a moral. She was so very sweet. So was great gram but she was a worker, she did not sit much. I just remember her apron was always on and she was always cleaning, sewing, fixing, or cooking something. She was with me until I was twelve so my memories of her were from a child’s perspective but my mother tells me stories about her wonderful grandma and how much she loved and how hard she worked her whole life.

Apparently great grams mother died when she was fourteen and she had to go and live and do house keeping for another family because her dad could not take care of both girls. Aunt Zoni stayed home with her dad. Great gram worked her entire life. After housekeeping she worked at the Burlington factory on huge sewing machines making overalls. Imagine sewing on that heavy denim all day long cranking out jeans. She married at some point and had my gram but then ended up alone again because my grandpa was gone. She was a special great gram and it makes my heart happy to think about her.

My gram was one of my all time favorite people. She was one of those rare people that you could just sit with for hours and chat or not chat and be comfortable. She was funny and loved us so much. She did get nervous when we were all there at her house, there were seven of us grandkids and we were all small. The older ones of us she would give jobs to. She would offer us a nickel or a dime to pick weeds, dust furniture, or anything she could think of to get us occupied. We were more than happy to do it because of the monetary gain. After we would finish we were allowed to go down the street to the local five and dime and use our gains to get candy.

Back in the day you could get a lot of candy for a dime and if you had a quarter you were in heaven. They had penny candy which you could get two for a penny. Big bins of all different kinds of candy just sitting there waiting for us to decide. I loved the candy necklaces and the candy dots, also the wax lips and bottles. You could even get a candy bar for a nickel back then! Those were the days.

Gram taught me a lot about cooking and baking and I loved to learn. Gram and I loved to bake cakes and find new recipes. As I got older and we did not live as close she would send me recipes in the mail to try. She would spend a couple of months with us every summer and we were always trying out our new recipes together.

When I was a teenager I was into the “Love Is” cartoons and every time gram would see one in the paper she would cut them out and send them to me. I actually made a laminated album out of those and still have it today. It was like having another mother with gram, only she did not get onto me as much as my dear mom. I know there were times she should have but she never did. My grandpa was a quiet man and only spoke when necessary and I suppose that they had been discussing me during my teen years and decided he would speak to me. We were walking around the pond on our property one day and all he said was, “Remember, if a fella canget the milk for free he doesn’t have to buy the cow.” That was it! It took me a little while to figure out what he was talking about but it finally dawned on me. He was warning me not to fool around with boys! It makes me smile even today.

I loved all my grandparents even though I spent more time with my mom’s folks than my dads because we lived so far away from them. I learned something special from each one of them. I have been truly blessed when it comes to spending time with grandparents and have learned so many things from them. Not just cooking, sewing, and house cleaning, but character building lessons and oh so much wisdom.

Spending time with older, kinder, wiser people is not a waist of time but can be of great benefit in your lives and in the lives of your children. It is a wonderful gift to give your children when they get to spend time and appreciate their grandparents. When you do this you are also giving them a love for the elderly which is always beneficial. Being able to relate to people of all age groups is a good for your kids and the wisdom and memories of those that have gone before us can only enrich our lives.

Author Bio:

Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @ gmail.com.

 And don't forget to check out our writing contest for grandparents.

Grandparenting Editor's Welcome: May 1st-31st, 2013

Traveling Grandma

by Susan Saunders, Grandparenting Editor

In today's world the chances that your children will all end up living close to you are pretty slim.
I now have two sons and a daughter in California, a son in Ohio, and a son and daughter here in Pennsylvania. Of my seven grandchildren only two live close to us, so I do quite a bit of traveling. Being a Grandma on the go is fun, but sometimes difficult. Many times I have to travel without my husband (as he is still working) and I hate leaving him alone. He can survive, but I worry about him and miss him and wish he could be sharing the visits with me. Just getting ready to travel can be tiring... doing the laundry and shopping and packing and making sure the house is in order and that my hubby has enough food, etc. I never sleep well the night before a trip, so the time on the plane is usually nap time.

All my children make me feel welcome in their homes and are wonderful hosts, but as many of you know, the older you get, the harder it is to sleep somewhere other than your own bed. So, many times I don't sleep very well while visiting. And then there are those frequent nighttime bathroom trips that many of us older folks deal with. I always worry about waking up someone, especially the little ones.

Not being a picky eater, nor on any medically prescribed diet, food is not an issue when I travel, but I know for many seniors, it can be. My Mom was on a gluten free diet so whenever she visited I tried to make sure I planned meals with that in mind. Sometimes I will buy groceries and make a meal or two while visiting. It always seems to be appreciated, and if I did have special dietary needs I would ask them to take me shopping so I would have things to eat and not put that burden on them.
 
I am so lucky to have 3 wonderful daughters-in-law and 1 great son-in-law. They all are very accepting of me, so there are few issues or clashes with them when I visit. Not everyone is that lucky and sometimes extended visits can be trying for everyone. If possible give them some time alone; maybe offer to babysit so they can go out, or find a place where you can go walking or take the kids to a park, etc.  Even if WE think we are the perfect Mom or mother-in-law, they might not think so; we all have our faults and can be annoying at times. Another good thing to keep in mind is that times have changed, your kids may not parent like you did, and while staying with them it will be a much more pleasant visit if you respect their rules and their way of doing things. Trust me, I know it can be hard; I always want to dress the babies in warmer clothes or put them on their stomachs instead of their backs, etc.  Try to hold back on negative comments... advice is ok if given the correct way, and if asked, do share your wisdom, and also praise your children (and their spouses) for being good parents as often as possible. If you want to be invited back and want to be a part of your grandchildren's lives, don't be a nag or pick fights over minor issues.

Yes, traveling has its disadvantages, but the minute you arrive and hold those grandbabies in your arms and the older ones run to hug you, it is all worth it! A week or two of being able to visit with your kids, do some sightseeing, see your granddaughter's dance recital, go along to the library, or the park or the zoo, see them play, read to them, go along for that first check up after birth, eat a delicious meal or vegetarian dish your daughter/daughter-in-law made, see your son/son-in-law change diapers and help with the housework, spend hours just holding a new baby so mom and dad can sleep, or hear your grandchild say, "I love you Oma!" All this and more make every visit a treasured time in my life. I hope someday my grand kids will remember the times Oma came to spend time with them as special times in their lives too.

I'm getting ready now for a trip. I can't wait to see everyone! Just call me "the traveling Oma!"

Do you travel frequently to visit children and grandchildren? What are some difficulties you have faced? What pointers do you have to make visits enjoyable for everyone?

 And don't forget to check out our writing contest for grandparents.

Grandparenting Editor's Welcome: April 1st-30th, 2013

Spring!

by Patricia Crider, Grandparenting Editor

Spring has arrived and has chased away the chills of winter!  The seasons start fresh and the outdoors become more active as people exit their homes, no longer needing the warmth it provided.  Spring is the time that my grandparents would break out the tractors and plows from the barn to break the previously frozen earth for planting seeds.  As children we ran behind Pap driving the tractor, plastic butter containers in our hands, gathering fat worms as bait for evening fishing trips.  We weren’t the only ones following the tractor; birds would swoop in and snatch-up those juicy morsels, wiggling around helplessly in the churned dirt.  It wouldn’t take long and my grandparent’s farm would be surrounded by fields of corn about a foot tall.  By the end of summer those same stalks were giants that could only be taken down by my grandfather on his tractor.

 And don't forget to check out our writing contest for grandparents.

Grandparenting Editor's Welcome: February 1st - 28th, 2013

Time for Love

by Susan Saunders, Grandparenting Editor

It's almost Valentine's Day.....a day to remember the ones we love. I'm sure we all have memories of making, or choosing,valentines for our classmates when we were in grade school.  Hours were spent cutting and pasting and sprinkling glitter as we attempted to make the most beautiful cards in the class.  We all had a box we decorated with a slot at the top so our classmates could put the Valentines they made into our boxes.  If the cards were purchased, and not hand made, we read all the verses and had to pick out just the right one for each person.  My dad bought my mother a heart shaped box of chocolates every year and after all the candy was gone that box was highly coveted.....I used one for my paper dolls. But it was a pretty low key holiday.....and not a lot of money had to be spent to enjoy the day. 

In today's world the Valentine cards and gifts are put out almost the minute Christmas is over. The amount of red, pink and white items available is astounding. It just seems to scream out at you, "buy me! Buy me!"  You can decorate your house with Valentine lights, towels, shower curtains, sheets, and flags. You can drink out of cups with hearts on them or use Valentine napkins and tablecloths. I'm not sure how this all relates to sending a message of love, but someone is making lots of money!  Personally, I don't need a lot of things.....but I still love getting a card from my hubby.... and the cards from my kids are special.....especially the ones they made when they were little.

Some of my favourite memories are of sitting around the kitchen table with my kids making Valentines - I still have most of those beautiful creations and I know they kept most of the ones I made for them.  It took time and thought and some artistic talent to create those cards....and when they were done we all knew they came from the heart. The cards were wonderful, but the best part was the time we spent together and the fun we had cutting, pasting and sprinkling glitter, etc. It truly was a time for love and for togetherness. I hope my kids learned that it didn't take a lot of money to create expressions of love that became treasured keepsakes. Sometimes I would make Valentine cookies and give each of them their own bag full - they didn't have to worry about sharing!

I still love Valentine's Day, I love picking out cards for my husband, my kids and my grandchildren. Sometimes I get motivated and make heart shaped cookies or decorate a cake. I know we don't really need a special day to say, "I love you!" but it is nice to get that card, or that box of candy, and know that on one day of the year love is celebrated and it really is nice to feel special and know that card your sweetheart gave you was something chosen just for you and that the verse inside might be something they would have trouble saying out loud.  

No, I don't need socks with hearts on them, or a T-shirt with some strange Valentine message, or even an expensive dinner out.....I am happy with a quiet dinner at home, some wine, and my love beside me holding my hand and giving me a card or a box of candy. It is a time for love, for showing others how much you love them,and a time for accepting their expressions of love for you, and for keeping all those special moments in your heart.  Enjoy the day of love.....spend time with your spouse, with your children, or with your grandchildren. Maybe you can make Valentines with your grandkids - get out the scissors, crayons, construction paper and of course, the glitter and make something from the heart. You will not only create cards, you will create memories.

What is your favourite childhood memory of Valentine's Day?  Do you still do something special on the 14th?

Have you a favourite craft you enjoy doing with your grandchildren?

 And don't forget to check out our writing contest for grandparents.

Grandparenting Editor's Welcome: January 1st - 31st, 2013

Reflections

by Susan Saunders, Grandparenting Editor

Most of us look forward to a new year. We make resolutions and promise ourselves that we will eat healthier, exercise more, spend more time with our family, get our finances in order, etc.   It is good to set goals and try to achieve them. But as we age, sometimes we try to "bite off more than we can chew," and then we end up feeling that we have failed and just give up on everything. Sometimes our children are pushing us to do things - to fix up our home or travel or take a class, etc.  They see our life through more youthful eyes, and don't understand that some days we feel we have accomplished something by just getting out of bed and doing our daily tasks!  Since my birthday is mid-December I start out every new year a new age. I am now 62 and while I am not really old, I certainly feel that extra year!  2012 was a year that took a lot out of me, emotionally and physically.  It made me look at myself and my life - where I had been and where I was headed. Some of that reflecting was difficult and some made me even more resolved to enjoy the life I have and to look forward to the times to come.

In March of last year I was able to fly out to California to help out my son and daughter-in-law after the birth of their first baby. That was a joyful time and every moment I got to be with her was special. It was also an emotional time because while I was there I got word that my mother was on her deathbed in Minnesota. I just returned home to Pennsylvania when I got word that Mom had passed. My husband and I drove to Minnesota for the funeral - it was a long trip and I had a long time to reflect on my mother's life and death and how it would change my life. Since my dad had died years earlier - I now had neither mother or father. No matter how old you are, no one , or no book, can prepare you for that.  Since her death, I have often caught myself wishing I could talk to her, or ask her something. Tears come at some memory that just pops out of no where, etc. Even if she was almost 81 and very ill when she died - I have been very selfish - wishing she could have lived longer. Some expect you to just jump back into life full throttle, but grief takes a long time to work through and some of us need more time than others. As I reflected on my mother's life, I vowed to not repeat her mistakes, but  also gave thanks for the many good things she passed on to me.

Our fifth child graduated from college in May. She has been Type 1 diabetic since she was three and seeing her go up to get her diploma was one of those moments that make you cry and make you so proud. The day we dropped her off to start college I cried all the way home (4 hours). She had never really been away from us for very long and certainly not that far away, I worried that something would happen to her and that she wouldn't take care of herself.  But she did it - she survived four years without our constant supervision. I will always worry about her, but I have more confidence in her ability to take care of herself. Having to reflect on your role as a parent is not always easy - it is hard to let go and let them be on their own, or trust their decisions.  That is something I have been dealing with a lot the last few months. In August my youngest daughter (child number 6) told me she was pregnant - not something you really want to hear from your "baby" who is still in college and has so much to look forward to.  But....doing what parents all over the world do...we planned a wedding. In October she was married to her high school sweetheart, a Marine, now stationed in California. It was a small, but beautiful wedding. She finished her first semester and has since left college and is living with us until she can move out to be with her husband. All this has produced a tug of war of emotions that only those who have gone through  can understand. We wanted so much for her and we had anger that all that was taken away....but on the other hand we know she and her husband are very in love and were going to get married one day anyway. We had to concentrate on the joy of having another grandchild and doing whatever we could to help our daughter. Yes, all these life changes cause you to reflect on yourself and what you could have done differently as a parent. In the end you have to stop tormenting yourself and accept the situation and move on. It really comes down to unconditional love....we love her, her husband and the baby.....and for us, that is enough.

Reflecting on my past and my future - I have done a lot of that this past year. What I have found is that I am getting more comfortable in my own skin. I accept myself for what I am, not for what I think others expect me to be. I love being a mother, wife and grandmother.   I still grieve for my mom and miss her, but I allow myself to be sad...that's okay.  I still feel upset sometimes that my daughter didn't get to finish college, but then I see her taking such good care of herself and making sure the baby will be as healthy as possible and I believe her when she tells me she will finish school some time in the future and see that while her path has taken a different direction than we planned, she will be okay. Reflecting on last year I have learned that life can give you a lot of surprises - some good and some not so good. How you react and deal with those surprises can make a huge difference in your happiness. If you react with anger or resentment and let that lead your life, you, and those close to you, will have a very unhappy existence.   Spend time reflecting on the good in your life.....appreciate your family, love those grandbabies (I have two on the way), take time to be with your spouse, get out and do things while you still feel up to it, become a better person spiritually - get closer to God, and just relax more, let yourself enjoy the quiet times and don't feel you have to always be "doing."  As we age our New Year's resolutions shouldn't be so much about forcing ourselves to exercise or getting our homes in shape to sell, etc. but should instead concentrate on our years of acquired wisdom and how we can use that to help others. Resolutions should include taking time to appreciate life and all the moments it gives us, for at our age, every moment is precious. We should strive to become more forgiving and accepting, letting go of resentments and anger you have toward others will give you a whole new lease on life. If you have hurt someone - ask for forgiveness, if they have hurt you - forgive them. Life is too short to hold on to anger. Do some reflecting, really look into your life and see where you need improvement. Because even if you are in top physical shape and your home is perfect.... after you are gone it will be the way you treated those around you and how you gave love and how you tried to be there for others that will be remembered.

Have you done any reflecting lately?  What are you looking forward to in the New Year?  Do you think that as you have aged you have become a better person?

 And don't forget to check out our writing contest for grandparents.

Grandparenting Editor's Welcome: November 1st - 30th, 2012

Take Care of Yourself

by Susan Saunders, Grandparenting Editor

One of the things my doctor tells me almost every time I go for a check up is, "Remember, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself."  It is good advice, but sometimes hard to follow.  We often get so busy doing things for our kids and grandchildren, our spouses and our parents that we neglect our health. If we also have a job, that just adds to the stress - so that often, we are left just feeling drained and have little energy by the time we get home.

When I had my first child my grandmother was the age I am now.  I never asked her to babysit, after all... she was too OLD!  But now that our children are getting married later and having their children later, grandparents are older when those babies come along.  So, at 61, I do feel tired after a day of watching my grandchildren and I will be even older as the newer grandchildren arrive. That's one reason it is so important for me to try and stay healthy - I want to see all six of my kids get married and I want to see many more grandchildren!

One health issue I have struggled with for many years, is high blood pressure.  I take medication, but it still will be high at times.  My doctor and I have tried many things to see if it would improve, but so far nothing has worked too well. I don't sleep well and wake up a lot during the night,  and I have a snoring problem.  So my doc suggested I go in for a sleep study to see if I need to be on a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine.  I was a little hesitant, and to be honest, kind of afraid.  But when my youngest daughter got married a few weeks ago, I found out that my second oldest son was using a CPAP. He told me that it had changed his life and he had more energy, slept better and everyone in his family slept better because his snoring didn't disturb them.  He told me to not be worried about the testing and to go ahead and do it.

So I did go for my sleep study. I had to be there at 8:45 p.m.  At the hospital they put little sensors all over your head and some on your chest and legs and a clip on your finger. Then they monitor you while you sleep.  You take your own pjs and pillow (if you want) and can watch some TV or read, etc. until you feel ready to go to sleep, and everyone is very nice - so you feel pretty comfortable.  Yes, all the wires are a little strange, but I did fall asleep eventually. I woke up about 5 a.m. and they removed all the wires and then I got dressed and then went home.  The stuff they use to secure the wires on your head is kind of like plaster of Paris, so when you get home you will have to wash that out of your hair. Otherwise, it was no trouble and I didn't feel stressed out at all.

A few days later they called me and said I would need the CPAP and set up an appointment so I could come in again and spend the night - but this time with the machine on, so they could observe me using it. Since talking to my son, I found out that others in my family use the CPAP machines and that they also were pleased with the results.

Tomorrow is my appointment.  I am a little nervous about using the machine, but I am also anxious to see if I too, can lengthen the time I sleep and can have more energy during the day and most importantly - can lower my blood pressure.   Yes, it is important for me to do this for my family... but it is even more important for me to do it for myself.

If you have a hard time getting to sleep or wake yourself, and others, up with your snoring - ask your doctor about trying a sleep study to see if you might need to be on a CPAP. It is good therapy for sleep apnea - where you have a hard time staying awake during the day - for some heart problems, some breathing problems and high blood pressure. Getting a good night's rest is one of the best things for your health. That, and drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated. Very few of us drink enough water.....another quote from my doctor, "most elderly people don't die from an illness... they die from dehydration."

As winter approaches we need to be even more vigilant about our health.  Try to avoid places where cold and flu germs could be rampant. If your grandchildren are sick, stay away from them until they are better. Wipe the grocery cart with the wipes the stores provide. Keep some moist air in your home so the heat doesn't make you too dry.  Eat healthy and take your vitamins. Don't exercise too much outside if it is very cold  and of course, if it is icy walk carefully to avoid falls and broken bones.

We aren't done with life at our age, we can still live for many more years and enjoy a lot more time with our precious grandchildren. But we can be a lot more fragile than we were when we were younger, so take good care of yourselves!  I will let you know if the CPAP helps me with my problems and would appreciate any input from others who use them... or tell us what things you do to stay healthy and if any special foods or supplements have made a difference in your energy, health, etc.

 And don't forget to check out our writing contest for grandparents.

Grandparenting Editor's Welcome: October 1st-15th, 2012

Winds of Change

by Jane Thiegs, Grandparenting Editor

Hello Kind Readers –

Autumn’s chill has snuck into summer once again, leaving us a clear sign that change is coming.

Ordinarily for me, October is a time for leveling – when I’ve begun to adjust to the changing that comes with a new school year.  This fall, though, is different.

I’ve been following my heart, and have landed in what seems to me an amusing turn of events.  I thought I’d be planning to retire at this stage of my life, preparing for travel and relaxation.  Every now and then, LIFE surprises me with a plan I could never have concocted on my own!  When signs point in a particular direction, though, I tend to trust that I should follow, and invariably, as a door opens, I find myself on a threshold of something new, exciting, and frightening – and pretty much unexpected. 

So it is that as I near 60, I’ve entered a partnership with my husband to build a new business (a vineyard and winery in MN), AND I’m once again beginning a course of academic study that will pave the way for me to begin a new career in two years, that career being a bio-energy healing practitioner.

I’m unbelievably excited about these choices, and emotionally drained from the energy required of me to learn of, own, and work toward healing my own issues, so I can better assist others toward their own healing.  I’m also physically spent from the labor required of one who works in a vineyard.  Still, it feels so right, that I can’t imagine not doing one or the other.  Both paths have taken on minds of their own.

And so it is that this writing will be my last monthly Stage of Life Editor’s welcome to you.  I need to focus my attention on these new pursuits.  I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to share my thoughts in this forum over the past couple of years.  What a wonderful emerging network is Stage of Life!  I feel honored that you’ve read the thoughts I’ve written here.  Thank you!

I will continue to read the posts, and will perhaps contribute on occasion.  I want to continue to benefit from the collective wisdom expressed on Stage of Life pages and blogs.  My role as a Grandma and Mom will continue to be paramount in my life.  In fact, six days ago, my son and his wife welcomed a new little girl to their family – my 5th grandchild.  It’s a highly prized privilege to know and love those I hold dear.  Some things never change, and I don’t want them to.

That said, I think it’s appropriate for newness in challenge and experience to grace our days throughout our waking lives.  Growth continues, as I am constantly reminded by my grandchildren.  We Grandparents are never too old to pursue a new path that might take us closer to being who we really are.  This is a gift of age and wisdom:  the freedom to choose to stretch toward that which seems beyond reach.  To do that, I’ve needed to make changes.  One of these changes is in balancing my time.

My “balance challenge” in this decision to claim my own life lies in honoring that I have as much of a responsibility toward my own self as I do to others.  For too long, perhaps, I’ve lived more for other people’s lives, and less for my own life - and I admit that my unconscious purpose in doing that has sometimes been to meet my own needs, more than it has been about meeting theirs.  So, I’m trying to be more mindful of that balance in this segment of my life, and to meet my needs in a healthy way by choosing to stay on, and continue moving forward on, my own path.  It’s tough, sometimes feels unnatural --- and it’s exhilarating and wonderful!

I wish each of you contentment, and the ability to adjust with grace (or to forgive yourself for messing up!) as you continue on your journeys through the ‘grandparenting’ stage of your lives.  May you be blessed.

In what areas of your life do you feel a tug to create greater balance? And don't forget to check out our writing contest for grandparents.

Grandparenting Editor's Welcome: September 15th - 30th, 2012

Important Decisions

by Susan Saunders, Grandparenting Editor

As political debates become heated and everyone seems to be arguing over the craziest things, many of us who have lived 50 years or more sit back and just shake our heads. We have some important decisions to make and as Senior citizens we know that who we vote for and how their policies will affect the coming generations is not something to take lightly. Because now we are thinking of what kind of world our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will inherit from us.

We don't want them: living in a country with trillions of dollars of debt to worry about, we don't want them worrying about being attacked by terrorists, we don't want them to have to fight wars in countries that aren't really appreciative, we don't want them taxed to death, we don't want our country's vast supplies of coal, oil or gas denied them because of too many regulations and we don't want them spending outrageous amounts of money for food, clothing, electricity, rent, etc. We do want them:  to be able to own a home, drive the car of their choice, attend college without spending a fortune or depending on the government for the money, to have freedom of speech and freedom of religion and the freedom to belong to whatever political party they want to without fear of being attacked or maligned, and to live without fear.  Yes, we look at our innocent grandchildren and just want a perfect world for them - a world without hate or violence, a world where they feel loved and protected and are able to achieve whatever they put their minds to.

Unfortunately, we know that every generation has had to live through some tough times and some good times. Our generation grew up in the somewhat idyllic 50's but then when we were older, Vietnam took many of our young men and many of us grew angry and we protested and made sure the government heard our discontent.  Many parents and grandparents of that era shed tears as they attended the funerals of their sons and grandsons who fought in that war. They probably prayed for a more peaceful world for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And except for a few outbreaks around the world, their prayers were answered. Americans didn't go to war for a long period of time. I have four sons ages 27 to 39 and none of them had to fight in a war or worry about being drafted. That is a real blessing. All my children have been able to go to college, even though it has required using government loans. That is also a blessing. Yes, many of the prayers and hopes of my parents for their grandchildren have been fulfilled.  But the "times they are a changing."

With so much unrest throughout the world, it seems a more dangerous place and the chances that we will have a peaceful world look pretty bleak. Our government seems full of politicians who are more concerned about keeping their jobs than they are about doing the will of the people who voted them in.  Unemployment rises, home ownership declines, gas prices rise and people seem to be more and more depressed and without hope.  It does seem useless to even pray for a better world for our grandchildren.  But without prayers, without hope, without the fire within us that fights for better times – our grandkids won't have a better world. We need all those things and need to show them that we care, and that we haven't given up and that we will fight against all odds to make this world better - for us, for our kids and for them and the generation after them.

So, no matter what your political affiliation, no matter how old you are or how much trouble it may be to get to the polls - vote in November!  Do it for those grandchildren you love more than life - they need you to vote, and to vote wisely - this is one way you will truly influence their future and their lives as citizens of our country.

Have you registered to vote?  Are you involved in local or national politics? Do you worry about the world your grandchildren will be living in as adults?  Get involved, read up on all the candidates and make your own decisions about who is best - don't let the media influence you or all the hype and scare tactics. Be one of most informed grandma or grandpa you can be - someday your grandchildren will thank you.

And don't forget to check out our writing contest for grandparents.

Grandparenting Editor's Welcome: September 1st - 15th, 2012

An Expectant Month

by Jane Thiegs, Grandparenting Editor

Hello and Happy September!  It really is an expectant month for me in many ways.  For some reason, our family has a lot of September birthdays, and this month I’m excited to welcome a new grandchild, too!

I don’t think I know of anyone who doesn’t like this month that is still summer and already Fall.  I’m amused at the ‘mix and match’ of seasons during this month, with some days sunny, warm, and carefree – while others are chilly and/or task-oriented.  Definitely transition time!  Some transitions are sudden and uncomfortable, but this one is almost always pleasant, whether you choose to call it late summer or early Fall – It’s just right, which helps a lot when transition is also happening on the inside.  

The ‘back to school’ feeling has never left me at this time of year, even though my youngest child left high school 10 years ago.  I think I’ll always love the sense of order this beautiful month brings to my life, as taking stock of life and making plans become the order of the days.  I’ll admit that I love remembering the sense of emancipation I felt as the kids went back to school!  AND I have lots of good memories of seeing them come home from the bus stop at the end of each school day, ready for the after-school events…  

I think I just like picking up on the energy that is high all around in September - from excitement, anticipation, fear, anxiety, and all that comes with most new beginnings - can always use an extra energy boost, especially these days, when energy wanes quickly.

No matter how hectic it was, remembering all of those feelings and emotions triggers a sense of expectation, of belief in the future, and hope of good things to come.  Life is different now for us, with occasional grandchild visits in place of the day to day hectic pace that was a part of our lives when our children were young and at home. 

It’s a challenge sometimes to find a different focus that has just as much meaning.  And this is also a great time to try out some of the long-buried urges of the heart.  I’m beginning coursework this fall, to learn the art of healing touch.  It’s exciting and a little frightening as I begin concentrating again on memorizing and test-taking.  It’s the high-tech process that tempted me with worry – Until I remembered I’m too old to worry about any of that!  I know it’ll be OK.  What a great new form of emancipation!

Life as a Grandma isn’t what it used to be.  It looks different now for each of us.  And yet the important parts of sharing a young child’s life will always be something to treasure.  I received this type of treasured gift today when my daughter-in-law told me something our grandson said about us.  When she’d asked her little pre-schooler  what had been the best part of last weekend’s parade, he excitedly told her “Grandma and Grandpa”!  We were just there to share the fun.

Hopes sit on fertile ground in September.   As you enter this month full of anticipation, my wish for you is to be able to hear the messages of your heart that are triggered from the memories of your wise self. 

Have a great transition to fall!

How would you like to use September’s energy? And don't forget to check out our writing contest for grandparents.

Read Past Editor Letters