Friday, July 25, 2008

A New Adventure in Life—Grandparenting

I have heard that there is nothing like being a grandmother and very recently have been privileged to experience this reality. I must admit that with the emphasis for young people on careers today, I was wondering if my son and daughter-in-law might decide to pursue their careers over having a family.

After thinking I received a present by mistake last Christmas from my son and daughter-in-law, I was thrilled and filled with joy when I realized the meaning behind an ornament with the word “Grandma” on it. It was the first time that I seriously considered moving to Iowa to be closer than four hours away from my son, daughter-in-law, and future grandbaby! It was also the first time that we learned that this was their second pregnancy and she had miscarried her last child. So they were very excited but hesitant to tell us and asked that we not tell the rest of the family until things were a little further along.

Watching my daughter-in-law go through morning sickness, a scare of blood spotting, and proclaim “It takes a lot of energy to grow a baby” has kept me in prayer. Seeing my son, while talking with me and his father, move to stand protectively behind his wife with his arms stretched out as she climbed a step-stool to reach something out of the kitchen cabinet made me feel proud. Observing his excitement of making the baby move when he spoke or massaged his wife’s stomach brought smiles to my face.

Three weeks before the baby’s due date on a Sunday morning before church we got an email that Kelly’s, (my daughter-in-law’s) water had broke at 4 a.m. and she might be going into labor. We called my son, Tim, and they were already at the hospital. Things were going slow and Tim said he would call when they knew more. We told him we would keep the phone on during church which we had never done before.

Sure enough the call came at 11:33 am during church service and my husband went out in the hallway to answer it. Kelly had delivered a 5 lb. 15 oz. healthy baby girl with no name yet. But most importantly, mom and baby were doing fine. Eventually the name came, Abigail Ann. They wanted to call her, Abby. We love the name.
Part of the challenge of being a grandmother is abiding by the unwritten in-law rules that say “If it is my daughter, I get to see her and the baby first and if it is your daughter, you get to see her and the baby first.” Letting the other set of grandparents have first priority at seeing the baby when I so wanted to get into the car and drive to Iowa NOW was the first place I felt myself needing to adapt.

I knew I had to consider Kelly and Tim’s feelings and plans and put them before mine, no matter how strongly my desires felt. Kelly planned on her parents being the first to see little Abby. So rather than feeling sorry for myself since I did happen to take the week as vacation and could have easily driven up to see them, I used my extra time to cook up some casseroles that Kelly could freeze as I waited for the weekend--our scheduled time to see them. It was also the time when Mike and I could both go together.

A jaundice scare put Abby back in the hospital in an incubator under lights for an additional night. Again we were asked to wait until she was released from the hospital. Ughh! Couldn’t we be a help and support? It was getting difficult to wait, but eventually our time came.

Nothing prepares you for seeing your grandbaby for the first time. Besides the joy of holding Abby, I so enjoyed watching Tim and Kelly interact with her.

My son is an engineer so he loves to solve problems. When Abby began to fuss in my arms, Kelly came over and immediately quieted her down. We assumed it was mamma’s voice that calmed her. But then we learned something endearing.

When Abby had cried at the hospital, Tim would try different things to calm her down. He tried rubbing her head gently, it didn’t faze her. He tried massaging her legs, her stomach, but nothing stopped her crying until he took both of her arms and gently held them close to her chest while placing his two thumbs up for her to wrap her palms and fingers around. She immediately quieted down and stopped crying. “I don’t know why it works Mom, but she obviously finds it very comforting.” We realized that this is what we had witnessed Kelly do to calm Abby when she was upset in my arms. I loved to see Tim apply his engineering skills in his new role as a father.

Following are a couple of websites that are useful to new (and old) grandparents: Benefits of Grandparenting, Ohio State, Grandletters (a correspondence program for grandparents of grandchildren 7-12 years old), Kansas State University,

My next challenge will be grandparenting from a distance. How do I form a close bond with my grandchild when I am hours away? Phone calls, letters, emails, birthday cards, photos and small gifts are probably the most common ways of staying in touch. Holiday and summer visits to our home and attending special child events are also important ways to build the relationship. Audio or video tapes with a bedtime story that I read or stories about grandpa or myself as a child could be other ways. What have you found to be the best way to build relationships with those who are far away?

This entry submitted by Patti Faughn, Family Life Educator.

Monday, July 14, 2008

♪ “It’s Not That Easy Being Green.” ♫

Remember Kermit’s song, made popular back in the 1970’s? At the beginning of the song our little frog friend was feeling pretty nondescript, ordinary and un-special about being green and blending in with so many ordinary things, like leaves, for instance.

Fast forward 35+ years and here we are still talking (why not singing?) about going green. Contrary to Kermit’s song title, it’s pretty easy for us to be green. It helps if we’re knowledgeable, imaginative and down right “intentional,” if we want in improve our greenness. If you were to sit down with pencil and paper, and number your sheet to from one to 12 do you think you could list at least a dozen things that you’re doing to “go green?”

Here’s my list . . . .

1. Wash dishes by hand, particularly if we can’t fill up an entire load in the dishwasher. The dishwasher is generally saved for “company only.”
2. Use solar and wind power to dry laundry on the line. Yes, even in muggy, humid central Illinois you can dry clothes outside in a reasonable amount of time. No fabric softener can match the natural fresh smell of line dried laundry! (Don’t talk to me about the birds.)
3. Wrap gifts in colorful Sunday paper comics, or incorporate a gift as the wrapping such as a kitchen towel, hand towel, etc.
4. Take the bus. The past six weeks I’ve made an effort to take the bus to work twice a week. Not only does it save on gas, but parking as well. (UI provides us with free bus passes.) It forces me to get more organized in terms of limiting errands to the other three days. Another benefit is I’m walking several blocks to and from my bus stops, thus getting in some exercise.
5. Donate to Goodwill and other places. One of my big life goals is to clean out my house and find homes for items we can no longer use.
6. Purchase items from Goodwill and other second hand stores. Yes, I’m a shopper at these stores, on occasion, too. For someone like me, who frequently is not into the “current styles or look,” I find it refreshing to find my retro taste still available at these stores, plus you can’t beat the price. Along these same lines I’m not above “dumpster diving,” either. It’s amazing what useful, valuable things get put out in the trash!
7. Use a push mower rather than a power mower. I have to admit I’ve only pushed this hand mower around our backyard once in the last year, but I did it once and will likely do it again. See #6 to see from where this mower came—hint “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
8. Open your windows and use fans rather than A/C. I seem to be able to tolerate the heat and humidity more at home or at work than I can in the car. And there are definitely times the A/C at home is humming.
9. Install florescent bulbs. Pretty simple.
10. Walk more. We’re fortunate to live within walking distance to many places we frequent – park, restaurants, bank, library, etc.
11. Conserve water. This one goes back to number 1—wash dishes by hand. Given our water heater is some distance from our kitchen sink, this past year we’ve been filling up gallon jugs of water while it’s heating up. This water is later used for watering plants, making coffee, doing laundry, etc.
12. Bring bags to grocery store. We’re getting a lot of mileage out of our paper bags with handles. We keep a supply in the trunk of the car. Our store even gives us a 3 cent credit for each bag we bring in.

I’m definitely not a “purest” when it comes to going green. Sometimes I’m in a hurry, hot, tired, forget, become extravagant, whatever, but I’m not too hard on myself. I figure that the times I do make an effort to conserve, re-use, recycle makes a difference.

Achieving a sustainable society is pretty much the mission of Worldwatch Institute. It delivers the insights and ideas that empower decision makers to create an environmentally sustainable society that meets human needs. Founded in 1974, Worldwatch focuses on the 21st century challenges of climate change, resource degradation, population growth, and poverty by developing and disseminating solid data and innovative strategies for achieving a sustainable society. The following website pages from Worldwatch Institute includes some of their suggestions of what we can all be doing to help sustain our world:

Additionally, there are numerous sites on line that calculate your carbon footprint. I think we can all strive to reduce our shoe size.

Back to Kermit and his song. While he starts out lamenting about being green and so ordinary, he progresses through his verses recognizing and then gaining new appreciation for his greenness. By the end of his song he’s happy – “It’s beautiful! And it’s what I want to be.” Me, too Kermit!!

This entry submitted by guest blogger, Cathy Colbert Inman