Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
"Mirror Mirror, on the wall"

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hello again!!!!

Thanksgiving -Olivia is 23 months!

Blog Gram-mama returns!!!!   Where to begin?????

It has been a while...Hi Gene!  Olivia is almost two years old and we are having more fun than ever.  Today I am going to do a quick synopsis of where I left off in April.

  • Olivia 101

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Inspired by country music

Toby Keith's Muse

I used to think that country music stars were hill billies,  and the people who listened to it were uneducated red-necks. When my son started listening to Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley I wondered how he would ever find a nice girl who would put up with this repellant habit.  Whenever I got into my car after he had been driving it, the radio would be set to The highway or Prime County.  At first, I quickly changed the station, but Sometimes, I found myself listening for a while before I changed the station.  Then, one day, I had an epiphany; I was actually enjoying it.  I found myself engaged in the stories, feeling the love and the heartache, and loving the sound.

Okay, there are more than an adequate number of songs singing the praises of a truck, and even more about the virtues of drinking beer, but we can’t diminish the window into our most intimate moments and seminal emotions.   

While some artists struggle to find inspiration, in Country music, there is nothing that is too mundane to sing about.  What better symbol of joy and celebration is there than the previously overlooked “Red Solo Cup”?    “Why Don’t you Love Me like my Dog does” is a question for the ages, and Sugar land’s “Dear Mom and Dad, Please send money…. Signed your baby Girl” sings so poignantly of the love between parents and children.  After struggling to find success their “baby girl” is staying at the Ritz, her band has made it and now she can send them money.   This is the fulfillment of every dream that a parent has for their children.

At the same time, we can get some great advice and learn some valuable lessons, The Zack Brown Band suggests, “Don’t be falling in love while she’s walking away” and we can learn from Tim Mcgraw when he opens up about his personal journey to become a better man. He admits that although he “still dances with the devil”, he is really committed to the process and “he can finally stand the man in the mirror he sees.” 

You gotta love this raw emotion and introspection. 
I am making the trip from Boston to New York City to spend Passover with my family.  I am so excited to see everyone, Olivia in particular, but the time just flies as I listen to The Highway, and finally, here I am!
Olivia and her cousin Sophie on Passover

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Baby Sitting Journal: Does Olivia miss me as much as I miss her?

Olivia never got tired of the Swings

Every Day!

Same time; Same place!

Alexis and James came home just as I was reaching my stride.  They were so happy to reunite with their sweet baby, but gave me the early a.m. shift so that they could finish their vacation with a last night out  at home.

I really didn't know weather to be happy or sad to have one less day.  One sweet, happy, good natured and easy baby, is a lot of work, but this time with Olivia was so very special.  I really got to know her; what she likes and doesn't like, how to distract her when she is focused on a dangerous toy or activity, what she likes to play with in the park and all of her little quirky traits.  I love knowing, now, what a day in her life is really like.  She was so happy to see me every morning.  I can picture her standing in the crib, waiting for me to pick her up.  She loves to read books in the morning.

Now, here I am, back at home in Massachusetts.  I thought we would still be in  NYC today, so we had nothing planned.  I woke up late; 7:30!  I went to get my coffee and got back into bed.  I got up again about 10:00, took a shower, washed my hair and got back into bed.  I played with my computer, made some long overdue calls, and finally, finally, I mustered up the energy to start my day.

What I learned:

1.  I learned a lot about my 23 year old son Jon, this week, too.  He was my babysitting assistant and I couldn't have a better one.  Because he spends a fair amount of time with Olivia, he could tell me so many things that I wouldn't have known; what I needed to bring with me when we went out to dinner, what she would like to eat on the menu, and when the food came, he cut her food and prepared the plate we brought with us so that Olivia would eat it.  My big, football player son, is so sweet, loving and gentle with Olivia, I almost cried, and Olivia loves her Uncle Jonny.

2.  I learned that "Buh"  means ball, blue berries, and broccoli, among other words.   The same with, "Tuh," "muh," "shuh" etc.  I never had any problem understanding.

3.  I learned that she could swing on the swings for hours and whenever I asked, "Olivia, are you done?"  Olivia would use the sign for "more" and "please" and settle back and enjoy her ride.

4.  Taking care of one little baby is really hard but really rewarding and I would do it again anytime!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Baby Sitting Journal: Poor Baby!

     Olivia, You aren't supposed to get sick when Mommy and Daddy are away.  A sick baby breaks Anyu's heart!

Grandma's playgroup!
      We had such a nice day and had a wonderful time on our playdate with Dylan. Olivia loved when Dylan's Papa brought the doggie to play, too.   Dylan showed Olivia the letters B,D, and O and they played so nicely!  But just between us, nobody had a better time than Wendy and me.  
     Just before dinnertime, Olivia started to feel warm and get a little fussy.  Within 15 minutes, she had a full-blown fever and wouldn't eat or let me put her down for a second.  Uncle Jonny and I gave her some tylenol and put her in the tub, where she played happily for a little while, but wailed as we put on her jammies, had little patience for a story and gratefully  jumped into bed by 6:30.  All night I kept watch on the fever, ready with a midnight dose of tylenol if she needed it. Luckily, she woke up feeling better, if not completely herself. 
If only I hadn't cut off her head!  
     Here I am, after 5 days, feeling like I am really good at this and maybe Alexis and James should extend their vacation, and I get a call from Alexis telling me that they changed their flight and will be coming home early. They missed their baby!  I hope that they let me do this again sometime..........


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Baby Sitting Journal: Getting with the program

Olivia missing her Mommy and Daddy

Not missing them quite so much!
Yesterday, I was exhausted.  I was certain that I would not be able to make it to the end of the week. I wondered what I was thinking when I offered to babysit.  (It is important to know that I told Alexis that it was silly for her to take Olivia skiing with her this year and that she would be so much happier at home with ME!  Furthermore, James was not really in favor of my plan.)   I told myself that I could never do this again; that it was too much for me.  I am too old and decrepit!   My body parts ache.  I spent the whole day feeling badly that my future grandchildren will never have the experience of their “Anyu” (that’s me) babysitting for them.  Danielle and Jonny will NEVER be able to go on vacation with their spouse and have the peace of mind knowing that their kids will be loved and well cared for by me.  My babysitting days started and ended right here, right now.

Then, last night I fell into bed at 9:30 and I don’t even remember falling asleep.  I woke up this morning feeling GREAT!  I had lots of energy for Olivia’s Tot Rock class, and we had a great day together.  Now, I am looking forward to my play date tomorrowwith my best friend from College, Wendy, and her grandson Dylan. 

Note to Jonny and Danielle: As of today, you still have babysitting options, however, I am not getting any younger so I hope that you will take that under advisement.

What I learned today.

1.     That 9:30pm is a perfectly reasonable bedtime for a babysitting grandparent.
2.     Housekeeping is off the agenda! Why pick up the toys when they are just going to get messed up again tomorrow?  If I can’t clean up breakfast until after lunch, it’s okay.  If I can’t clean up lunch until after dinner, it’s okay.  And if I don’t clean up anything until Olivia goes to sleep at night, C’est la vie!  Keeping Olivia safe and happy is the only thing that matters.
3.     That everything I learned yesterday is useless today. 
4.     If I can’t find Olivia’s shoes in the trash or the laundry basket; try the diaper pail.  (Sad but true)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baby Sitting Journal; Still standing; Barely!

Eloise's Room at the Plaza
Olivia made herself at home!

Today, we took Olivia to The Food Court at the Plaza Hotel!  It is definitely a "New York" styled food court; No Sbarro or McDonalds here.  For that matter, I never went to a food court before where there was waiter service and the fresh pasta was draped over bars and fine wines were displayed on racks.  After sharing sliders, sushi, pasta, and dumplings, we gave Olivia a cupcake and took her  to Eloise's Room at the Plaza.  A little girls dream come true!  Everything looked magical in Pink.  I thought I would buy her a pretty headband with a little crown; after all, it is something only a grandmother would spring for.  I was willing to pay a kings ransom.  Then I looked at the price tag and even I, couldn't do it.  Particularly since she had zeroed in on a stuffed turtle, the only thing in the room that wasn't pink, or girlie.  
Would you believe $60.00?

Marketing brilliance!

What I learned today

1.  Olivia will let you feed her if you use chopsticks.
2.  Olivia is a foodie and will eat very exotic food, she loves cerviche and fish but wouldn't even look at the rubbery chicken I stir fried for her dinner.
3. When I can't find something, I should look in the garbage or the hamper because that is where she likes to hide things.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Baby Sitting Journal; the first 24 hours flew by!

Bye Bye Mommy and Daddy

La La la la la, Elmo's Song
I have just completed the first 24 hours of my 8 day babysitting assignment and so far; so good!!  When Alexis and James said good-bye to 14 month old Olivia as we left for her open-gym class, you could tell she knew that it was not an ordinary good-bye.  I think that she could read the ambivalence about leaving her on her Mommy and Daddy's faces.  She watched them as the elevator door closed and did not follow any baby prompts to throw kisses or wave good-bye.....and that was the only time so far that she gave us any impression that being alone with us was out of the ordinary or sad for her.  We chased her around the gym,  took her to visit her favorite cousin Sophie (a 7lb. maltese who isn't so pleased  that Olivia has usurped her first place position), braved the St. Patty's day crowds at Central Park and pushed her on the swings, ad nauseum!  It was great and would it surprise you to know that I was EXHAUSTED!!  When Alexis called and asked me what time I wanted the baby sitter to come, the last thing I wanted to do was to go out to dinner.

But here is what I learned on my first day of babysitting.
1.  Olivia knows baby sign language.  When I asked her if she had enough of the swing, she started making gestures with her hands.  I thought that she wanted me to sing The eensy, weensy, spider..... But when I tried to take her out of the swing, the baby who never cries started to scream and gesture ferociously.  I finally realized that she was putting her two hands together in the sign which means "more".  So I pushed her some more and then some more again, until I was dizzy!
2.  When she starts squishing her food between her fingers, it means that she is done.
3.  If I bring her pull toy with us when we are walking on the streets of New York, and I hold her other hand, she can't pick up every dirty cigarette butt (and worse) that we pass on the street.
4.  "Little Miss Independent" does not like to be left alone in a room for a single second.  I even have to take her into the bathroom with me.
5.  She loves dogs, and ducks and her piano, understands everything and learns so many new things every day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

7 Things that make me Mad; it is all Political!!!!

I have always tried to consider what was in the best interest of the team and to have a positive impact; no matter if the team was my community, my country, the world or my family.  Among other things, I am a motivated recycler, an unapologetic fundraiser and a despot in the kitchen when it comes to healthy food.   I am so angry with the self-serving and power hungry politicians and their failure to focus on the common good.  I am equally frustrated by many people who refuse to look beyond their own special interests! 

1.   The election is just less than a year away, yet the campaigns have been distracting us for way too long, resulting in a congress that holds on too tight to absolutes to refuses to legislate.   Can’t we put a limit the amount of time spent on a presidential campaign?
2.    Our President has been too concerned about his campaign to act in the best interest of the country.  Entitlements and his approval rating intimidate him.
3.   Unions and Social Security are corrupt, and need to be reviewed and reformed.  We have no choice but to address changes and cuts that will continue to help those in need without destroying our economy. 
4.  The reality of the economy and the deficit leave no question that new taxes are necessary.  Obviously, those who can afford those taxes will be targeted.  You know who you are!  Deal with it!
5.    Newt Gingrich!  Really?????  How can the Republican Party support a candidate who has been shown so many lapses in integrity and morality?  This candidate was censored by congress for both ethics and tax violations.  Is there any quality more important than integrity for an American President to bring to the world agenda?  I would be appalled if this is best leader and role model we can come up with to shape America for our grandchildren.
6.   When our grandparents came to America they came because it was a Land of Opportunity and they took advantage of all that it offered.  They built businesses and their families and made America great.  We should legally welcome and support any immigrants who come with this spirit but not those who come to America illegally for a handout. 
7.    Pensions and compensation packages for government workers and politicians are out of proportion as compared with the private sector.

I am neither Republican nor Democrat.  I do not claim to have the answers but I care about the world we leave to our grandchildren. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dinner and a movie; Technology helps Grandparents share all the "firsts"

Olivia's First teeth
First time Olivia stood up in her crib
My Dad, Papa Dickie was a very devoted Grandfather with a great sense of mischief.  Phone calls to my kids were important to him because he lived in New Jersey while we lived in Boston.  When my children were young, my Dad would tell them that he had a “television phone” and although they couldn’t see him, he could see them.  That idea delighted them and they would sing and perform for him whenever he called.  This made Papa Dickie’s calls very exciting and lots of fun for them.

If my Dad could see Skype and facetime he would see the technology that he had only wished for had come to fruition.  While I travel to New York City to see Olivia often, I just can’t get enough of her.  We fill in the blanks with face-time, daily photos on the web and you-tube videos.  Sometimes, we facetime while she is having dinner; I call it Dinner and a show.  I know that she knows who I am from the enormous smile, which crosses her face when she sees me.  I love to watch her grabbing for the computer as if to bring me closer.  I can practically share her favorite mangos with her and even see the spatter on my clothes.  I love to watch her feed herself cheerios and listen to her mummer m-m-m-m-m-m-m with great pleasure as she eats.   We can sing songs with her and enjoy each other across all the miles.

Olivia, like many babies, doesn’t always perform her baby-tricks on demand.  She likes to choose which tricks she will perform at any given time.  Sometimes, she will answer all requests for animal’s sounds and sometimes she will stubbornly refuse all appeals to quack or moo.  The good news is that the kids can document these accomplishments when Olivia decides to grace them with a performance on video and post them for us on you-tube or even e-mail them on the spot!  Olivia’s first steps and first words are downloaded on my iphone for me to watch and show-off to all my friends whenever I want. 

Nothing is better than real cuddles, but how lucky are we, 21st Century Grandparent, who can share a piece of their grandchild’s day and experience all their “firsts” on video and pictures no matter how far away?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hot in South Florida; You gotta love it here!

Hot????  I think not!
For the past few years, Lewis and I have been spending several cold winter weeks in southern Florida.  At first, I bristled at this idea because “I am to young for Florida”, but I am starting to really love these get-aways.  One reason is that whereever I go, I feel really young!

When my kids left after the holidays, Lewis and I went to a local restaurant we like named Taboo and sat at the bar for dinner.   When we first arrived, the bar was hopping and we took the only two seats available on the corner.  There was an older gentleman sitting next to Lewis, dressed impeccably, wearing a pink cashmere sweater and his silver hair perfectly styled, but well on his way to inebriation.  Next to me, there was a young guy who must have made a wrong turn somewhere to have ended up at this particular bar.  

We watched the football game on the T.V. and bantered with the bar tenders and our fellow diners.  We learned that there were a few other Patriots fans in the group and we speculated about our prospects for the play-offs, and complained about our defense.  We were having a really good time.

The older guy next to Lewis continued to drink one scotch after another until he was actually “stinking drunk”.   He started to lean across Lewis’ plate to get my attention.  “YOU ARE SO HOT!”  he slurred.  Again and again, he thrust himself in front of Lewis to tell me how “Hot” I am. 

Lewis was getting pretty irritated by the guy invading his space and the bartenders were embarrassed and didn’t know what to do about this inappropriate behavior but I could only laugh.

I turned to the young guy sitting next to me and said, “In any other bar in the country, I would be a geezer.  It is only in Southern Florida that I am HOT”.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Where is Blog-Grammama? HERE I AM!

Olivia and her birthday piano- Future Piano-girl
The Holidays have been hectic and lots of fun!  We have been in Florida with friends and family and as I write this, I have my first moment alone.  Olivia left at 6:00 a.m. and I am missing her sweet baby smiles and baby tricks.

Olivia's first birthday was on Dec. 30 and we celebrated all month long.  First, in New York with all her baby friends.   The celebration was held about 2 weeks early because it was impossible to gather her baby friends and family on December 30th.  No child would ask for a birthday in between Christmas and New Years, but it really means that she will have multiple celebrations; with her California grandparents and cousins over Christmas, in Florida on her actual birth date and of course the First Birthday extravaganza in New York.

The birthday party was a grand affair!  They rented out a restaurant and moved all the tables to created a large empty space for babies and the adults had the bar area.  They invited all their friends, those with children and without to share the occasion.  Drinks and Hors D’oeuvres were passed and Broadway Babies came dressed as Simba and Nala from the Lion King and performed for the little ones.  Everyone had a lot of fun; everyone except Olivia who was a bit overwhelmed by all of the attention.  Our normally independent, active baby clung to us the whole time.  

Simba and Nala in Africa- Pretty scarey!
Simba and Nala at Olivia's party-  Scarier!

To illustrate how crazy I was about this occasion, I volunteered to bring a Party Favors cake from Boston.  We love Party Favors cakes!  They made Alexis and James’ wedding cake and we like to have them for every special occasion.  They have made buttercream frosting into an art form.  This required me to make a trip to the bakery to customize the cake.  I picked colors and described exactly what I wanted.  I told them that the duck in their catalogue was sinister looking and I wanted a mommy duck, a daddy duck and sweet little baby ducks. Just to be clear, I told them that I wanted the cake that they would want to put on the cover of their next catalogue. When I went to pick up the cake it was all wrong!    The wrong color!  The wrong design!  The wrong ducks!  They had given no regard at all to my careful instruction.  “I am sorry,” the manager said, “I don’t know why they didn’t check with me before they made the cake.”  She whisked it away and about 30 minutes later they presented me with a re-worked rush-job that fit my requirements but didn't have the thick buttercream decoration that they are known for.   

But the craziest part of the whole thing was that when I got it home, I couldn’t make it fit in either refrigerator; not the  empty refrigerator in the basement or the one in my kitchen. No matter how many shelves I removed or adjusted, it just wouldn’t fit!Thankfully, the temperature outside was 50 degrees and we left it in the garage overnight, then carefully packed it in the car and drove to New York, wincing every time we stopped short or rounded a curve!  Crazy, you say!  Absolutely!  Next time we will get an amazing cake in NYC and have it delivered!   

Not the amazing cake I hoped for; but not terrible!

Blog-Grammama Wishes Everyone a Happy New Year

Olivia brings in the New Year