Nov 18 2011

Such A Thoughtful Gift

Tag: music,my family,parentingDonna B. @ 2:04 am

For years my daughters have given me truly fantastic gifts, especially for Mother’s Day and my birthdays. These have included trips to Scotland, wonderful dinners, cards, photos, surprise visits… the list is long. *

What makes each gift special is that so much thought and planning (conspiracy!) goes into each one. Though an overseas trip is always a good gift, the one to Scotland was awesome because it was a trip to see my sister. Plus, they checked with my boss first to make sure I could get the time off AND announced the trip with a surprise party at my workplace on my birthday.

After the Scotland trip, I was informed that was “it” and that they would be starting over the next year with handprints on paper plates. I must confess I’m a tad bit disappointed that they didn’t actually do that.  

Yesterday, I got an out-of-the-blue gift from one of them. We’d discussed our tastes in music earlier this year when we drove to S Carolina together. (Not an entirely uneventful trip.) Our tastes overlap somewhat, but we both love types of music that the other just doesn’t quite “get”.

She had already sent me the cable I needed to hook my new smart phone to my car’s audio system merely because I mentioned I’d like to have it.

But… back to yesterday’s gift. Two music CDs. One of them is filled with songs we both like; music I’m quite sure she already had on her hard drive. It’s the other that is special because, with the possible exception of one song, I’m pretty sure she had to search, buy, and download them.

She made me my dream “Music To Drive By” CD.

Now while I’d like to believe she reads my blog daily and remembers posts from over a year ago, even my daughters aren’t THAT good. I’d sent her a link to that post this past August prior to traveling to S Carolina together to… shall we say… emphasize our differing tastes in music.

Thank you, my dear daughter, for paying attention.

I’m sure that I will never be writing a post like this one, though I submit that buying a gift for an old woman is easier than buying one for an old man every day of the week. Oh, it wouldn’t hurt to remember I like scotch (and wine, of course) as much as that old fart does but I’m not quite as particular about the age. 

*Disclaimer: I did nothing as a parent to deserve this kind of treatment. I’m just very, very fortunate.

Oct 16 2011

Henry Says “Hello World”

Tag: grandchildren,parentingDonna B. @ 8:07 pm

My youngest grandchild arrived September 26th, 2011 at 8:50 am. Henry checked in at 6 lbs, 15 oz. and 20 inches long. And handsome!

He was 19 days early and there’s no doubt that his due date was calculated correctly. Though there was some careful watching for jaundice due to ABO incompatibility issues, Henry did not require treatment. 

Henry’s father says his son takes after his mother — aces all the tests and finishes early. 

These photos were taken when he was 13 days old. Since then, his arms and legs have filled out a lot. He’s got a good appetite and has had very few nursing issues.

His Mom & Dad are pretty awesome also. They were so calm and laid back that some of the hospital staff thought this was their 2nd baby.

Not only that, but my daughter simply never had the appearance of just having had a baby. I won’t say her labor was easy. It wasn’t. But most women don’t look as good as she did after having been up for 24 hours even when they didn’t give birth during that time. Makeup or no makeup.  

Dad looked much worse in the day of birth photos, prompting many jokes. But that was just beard stubble. And his refusal to even consider makeup.

Now I understand that most of you are going to say that I’m just a besotted grandmother when I tell you how exceptional Henry is. That’s OK. I know better. Even his pediatrician noted at his 2 week check up that he’s focusing and tracking movement.  

Henry has his parents’ laid back attitude. The only time I heard him cry the first few days I was there was when his diaper was being changed… and I think that’s entirely attributable to temperature and expertise of the diaper changer. He didn’t like the cold wipes. And he didn’t cry as hard when I changed him. (Probably because I held the wipe in my hand long enough to take the chill off it, but I’m still chalking this up to he just loves his grandma.)

 By the time I left, Henry was expressing himself through crying a bit more forcefully. Though he’s easily pleased (food, warmth, cuddles) he is already teaching his caretakers how to know which one he wants.

My daughter jokes that his expressions in the last two photos are variations of him thinking “do you really know what you’re doing” and “so, there’s really no returns or refunds on parents?”

I’m impressed by how often he folds his hands together as he’s doing in the first photo. He expresses himself with his hands and let’s you know he doesn’t want them confined even if they do feel cold. (The old “I’m cold, you need to put on a sweater” maternal reflex.) Unlike the other newborns I’ve held and loved as a grandmother, he doesn’t often clench his hands into a fist though he does love to grasp a finger or toy.

Though I insist I’m not simply besotted, I concede that I’m easily impressed.

Of course, I’ve heard that babies this young appear to be smiling when they have gas. Henry is (of course!) different. He smiles when he’s drifting off to sleep. I know this isn’t a smile in response to any outside stimulus but I do think it’s a harbinger of his personality – it’s going to be easy for him to smile and be happy. Twice, he’s made a sound that sounds like laughter… or a chuckle.

OKAY! Maybe I am besotted. I’m fine with that. It’s not the first time, you know.

UPDATE: How could I forget to give kudos to the photographer. These photos were taken by Henry’s aunt — my oldest daughter… I mean “older”. And just a tad bit older. Not much.

She’s been working on her skills this past year and these were taken without the use of autofocus, autowhatever, etc. The most amazing photos aren’t posted here because… well… I don’t know why, but I don’t post (recognizable) photos of my grown children. It’s a privacy thing, I suppose.

May 08 2011

Here’s What I’ve Read Online This Week

Best Mothers of the Animal Kingdom - I’m really glad I’m not an octopus.

The Beauty and the Bartender - a dating service tale with a heart-warming twist.

How to make cheap wine taste better  – knowledge is free.

A lost girl remembered - an excerpt and follow-up from The Poisoner’s Handbook.

The Costs of Not Vaccinating - the story of a 2008 measles outbreak in Tucson.  

Parasites, boogers, and garlic - oh, and don’t scratch.

Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air - Yes, mostly. The literature review beginning on p. 5 of the pdf names a book I now want to read – Expert Political Judgment. The best part of the study begins on page 17 with descriptions of the 26 columnists and types of predictions they made. While the numbers make some of them look good, the descriptions lead me right back to the hot air conclusion.

Ten Peeves About Greenies

Jun 25 2010


Tag: grandchildren,parenting,photosDonna B. @ 3:32 pm

Dec 12 2009

Saturday Surfing

*Buying cheap cheese is worse than buying no cheese at all. When you have no cheese, you don’t waste time, energy, and other ingredients trying to make it edible.

*I hate the scrolling twitter widget. I hate anything on a website that moves unless I tell it to.

*History’s First Redneck Mummy (lower left panel)

*I love my battery backup, because I hate power outages.

*Am I the only person who cannot manage to order a Pizza Hut pizza online? I’m beginning to think they want to be able to say they offer online ordering, but are actively discouraging anyone from ever using it.

* New study reveals most children are unrepentant sociopaths (via Retriever). And then they grow up and design scrolling, flashing widgets for websites or tests for “security” that can’t be passed. For a more scientific view, see The Science of Success.

*Speaking of pizza — a quick perusal of our buying habits over the past year says that this family orders pizza on average of once a month, and that approximately 25% of these orders coincide with having company. Yeah, I am just that lazy.

*Is it the least we can do? Buy Local, Act Evil. Just a thought here… but, if I buy the best that I can for the least amount of money, is that not also ecologically sound? (Note: I’m not saying I do this — see cheap cheese.)

*Tundra. Just go, click, and scroll. That’s what I plan on doing for the next hour or so.

Nov 19 2009

A New Life Is A New Hope

Sometime around the 7th of April, I will be the fortunate grandmother of a newborn granddaughter.

Her 19 week sonogram showed her to be perfect and healthy. I’m anxiously awaiting my grandma cuddle time with her as well as wondering what joy I will experience in watching her 3 year old sister interact with her newborn baby sister.

Until today, we all wished for a baby boy… but we all wished for that perfect and healthy even more. And now, after a few hours I find it difficult to think of this child as anything other than a perfect and healthy girl, though as recently as last week I thought of a perfect and healthy boy.

It does not matter. The most awesome and inspiring thing about having a child is the inability to imagine life without them. Once born, once cuddled, once held it is as that child has been a part of your life forever.

So, even though in reality it’s been only 30+ years that my daughter has been in my life… it feels wonderfully as if it is forever. And with each child my daughter bears, forever is extended exponentially, geometrically, and beyond.

Love cannot be explained by science.

Oct 27 2009

Thinking About Christmas Already

Tag: grandchildren,my family,parentingDonna B. @ 4:16 pm

Halloween just isn’t a big deal for us since we have no young’uns living here and have had no trick or treaters in the last 5 years. The last thing we need is a bowl of candy sitting around for us to eat. And we would. We are not that strong.

This year of not having Thanksgiving or Christmas plans is an example of what’s going to happen occasionally since we share our children and grandchildren with other families. It often works out that we get one or the other and we have no problem exchanging Christmas gifts at Thanksgiving.

So, for me there is no big Thanksgiving celebration to get in the way of Christmas shopping. It will all have to be done in time to allow for shipping, so I might as well start now.

Especially, since I got a call this morning from one daughter who informed she’d just found the perfect Christmas gift for me and already purchased it. Another daughter sent out the Christmas/birthday wish list for a granddaughter today too. I really appreciate these lists because it’s hard to keep up with what they already have and neither set of grandparents or aunts and uncles want to send duplicate gifts.

Thus I have been wasting time perusing Amazon and other toy sellers. And you know what? I’m not that impressed by most of the items. Far too many of the toys for the 3-5 age range are not interactive, or would likely be boring after used once or twice. Far too many of the toys for 2 year olds are still listed as appropriate for 5 year olds.

Also, just how comfortable should a parent or grandparent be purchasing a puzzle of the U.S. that contains only 45 pieces??

I am having fun. I’ve found the absolute perfect gift for one grandchild and some pretty good ones for the others. Of course, I’ll keep looking because that’s my gift to myself! That, and trying to figure out just how much I can get away with in the way of musical instruments and chemistry sets.

Sep 26 2009

Punishment Or Training?

Tag: grandchildren,my family,parenting,ResponsibilityDonna B. @ 2:38 am

There is nothing more that I would like to post here than that I was a wonderful, perfect parent. That would be such a lie. I was young, intelligent, but uneducated, and married to a man who was young, intelligent, uneducated, and an abusive alcoholic  to top it all.

It’s a damn wonder any of my children survived to be successful adults. Some people, upon hearing of the success of my children have congratulated me on being a wonderful parent. So uninformed they are! My children are successes despite my parenting more than because of it.

Though… I did have a few good points here and there. I was not evil, and never did anything designed to beget failure. I was just, for the most part, not aware that what I was doing might hurt them. I was aware of never wanting to hurt them… but unaware that things I thought “good” for them might not be.

Razib, of Gene Expression highlights research that spanking is detrimental to children. He also highlights that the spanking tends to occur when the chilren are of the more incorrigible type and the parents less intelligent, aggressive and lacking impulse control.

Those who commented on Razib’s take give an interesting but certainly not homogenous take on the issue.  

There are numerous alternatives to spanking for training and discipline and one I’ve become fond of is “time-out”. It’s the new version of sitting in the corner, and I’ve witnessed it’s success. However, there are now psychologists and sociologist who are saying this is also detrimental.

When a Parent’s ‘I Love You’ Means ‘Do as I Say’ is a disturbing essay which ultimately suggests (IMHO) no discipline at all.

Apparently I was spanked at a fairly young age. Relatives have told me that once when I was squirming and being a pain during church, that I was repeatedly threatened with being “taken outside to be spanked” until finally I requested (in an apparently loud voice) to be taken outside and spanked”.  Though no one has specifically told me so, I suspect I did not get spanked on that occasion.

The first few spankings I do remember were half-heartedly administered along the lines of “now that I know you are safe and though I’ve thought of killing you for the suffering you put me through, this spanking will have to suffice for both of us.”

When I was older and deliberately disobeyed or ignored rules, I was also spanked, but not until I’d received the full lecture. My father was definitely the strong type, but not silent. He was eloquent in describing my failings. He could describe fluently how I’d disappointed him and made my mother sad. He could do this for hours without actually repeating himself. It was a talent. After 30 – 45 minutes of this, I was sobbing and begging for a beating because that would be so much less painful.

The “beating” was usually sort of half-hearted and never managed to assuage my guilt.

I am not defending true beatings which far too many children have been subjected to. I’m merely stating that parents have psychological weapons that far surpass a mere spanking. A mere spanking is NOT equal to a beating.

Any form of punishment can become abuse, even time-out. Somewhere recently I read that Rose Kennedy would put her children in a dark closet for an equivalent of time out. To me, that’s abuse, but it was probably not considered so at the time.

Now… back to the post title. Whether a parent swats, spanks, puts the kid in time-out, or lectures him to numbness, the effectiveness will be determined mostly by the parents’ intent: are they training or punishing? It’s my opinion that an intent to punish will, regardless the method used, do little good while an intent to train will be very effective.

Intentions, though paving the road to you know where, do have meaning.