Friday, May 17, 2013

May 17, 2013

Adieu for a moment to a dear Mother and Grandmother

This morning when I heard the news of the passing of Sister Francis Monson I had a heart full of sorrow. She is a noble woman. I have been with her and around her on a few occasions and have wished that I were  more like her - dignified, gentle, kind and always appropriate. May our dear President Monson be supported and sustained in this difficult time. His work and mission is not stopped , altered or diminished because of this so as our prayers of concern and love ascend it is my prayer that  the strength of millions of us around the world will buoy him for the tasks ahead. I love him. I know he is the Prophet of God on earth. I thank him for what he has given and for what he will continue to give. I send my prayers for his children and grandchildren who will surely surround him now as never before and thank them for their part in his life and ours. 

With a heart full of tenderness, peace and confidence in the great and glorious plan of salvation, I am ever Grandma Nanny.

Monday, May 6, 2013

May 6, 2013
The Real Strength of Heredity - or is it Environment?

I am still in deep meditation thinking about my experience as a babysitter. It's a lot different watching the grandchildren for an hour or even a day than when you are living with them for a week. It reminds me of deja vu - only it's the flash back memories of living with your own children for 30 years and compressing those  30 years  into seven days with children who are just like their parents. This astonishing moment blind-sighted me especially because it came out word perfect 32 years later with an eight year old who wasn't even born when his father was eight. It happened like this:

Sam: (the current eight year old grandson) Nanny, can I go to the Provo Beach (a local recreation spot made for indoor activities in the cold winter days - includes bowling, video games, water activities etc. etc. etc.) with Eli?

Nanny: Sam, remember that today you made the decision to go skiing instead of to Provo Beach and it's too close to dinner to go there now.

Sam: Well, can I just go play with Eli?

Nanny: (so good hearted and kind) Of course dear; be home by 5:45 because we're having dinner at six.

At 5:58 I call Eli's house to remind him to come home and learn to my total and shocking realization that he conned Eli's mother into taking him to Provo Beach. Stunned, I get on my broom and fly to Provo Beach, a 15 minute drive reduced to seven minutes. As I pass over bridges and roof tops I am contemplating the best abd quickest way to send him packing to his room or worse but also the amazing skills he had inherited so innocently from his father. Skidding to a halt I see him grinning on the sidewalk and in my most syrupy voice I say,
" Why Sam, I thought we had decided that you could go to Eli's to play".
'' That's what I did, Nanny, I went to Eli's and we came here to play".
And he learned that without being there when his father was eight. It's scary.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 24, 2013

The New Time

Even when I was 30 years old and had only five of our eight children I often felt confused by what time of day, week, month or year we were currently enjoying. So I devised my own system for keeping track of time. Time revolved around events, benchmarks, accidents, stitches, explosions and even some quiet moments at the kitchen sink. For instances, Halloween is not remembered by the year but by the event. I Remember Halloween when I dressed as an apple and while they were sweeping up the floor of the cultural hall I tripped on the push broom and broke my tail bone. That was my last apple. Forever after I have dressed as a witch with the thought that I'm happier when I'm bewitching than being a bad apple.  Or the Halloween when Merrily, number four baby,  was just five weeks old and while I'm  nursing her Michael jumped out of the cupboard and broke his leg, which would have been tolerable but the day after Halloween Michael had eye surgery which might have been ok on its own, but he had a patch on his eye, tubes on his arms to keep him from rubbing his eye and a cast on his leg, and I had a brand new baby.  Was the child protection agency operating in 1968? Many Halloweens are noted as before the one when Michael broke his leg and the Halloweens after. 

It seems much of our life was measured before and after similar dramatic moments, such as Christmas of 1974. Our seventh little child came home from Stanford Hospital about December 12th, two days after she was born. I never liked long hospital stays. About a week later all of the children were home for the holidays, mom had taken leave and it was the usual joyful time with seven children under the age of 12 decking the halls with red and green paper and glue. We had just been the recipients of our first TV, an old second hand thing that sat on the floor of the play room. One morning in need of some peace on earth I allowed all of the little very, very busy elves to watch TV while I languished in the quiet of the back of the house indulging myself in some gentle and loving mother and daughter time. It became very still.  Curiosity overcame me and I wandered with our new Julia to the family room to see what had mesmerized everyone. I had little to no  experience watching television - can you blame me !!! Seven children and our first TV since we were married. When would a woman like that have time for TV, I ask.  There on the floor in zombie trances they sat listening to a sherif, surrounded by some big cowboy sons and their mother, accuse one of the boys of rape.  Well, that did it!!! I took one look at the scene of "The Big Valley" and  yelled, yes yelled, "This TV is ruining our lives." With that I dropped Julia on the floor, (carefully) and ran to the kitchen, grabbed the butcher knife, returned with haste and with a bit more composure, and in my quiet, stern, and threatening voice said something like "We are a creative family and this is obviously ruining our lives (and I'm thinking: and our morals) and we're getting rid of this TV and that's final."  I swooshed the butcher knife around, and if you can picture the children being mesmerized by "The Big Valley" they were frozen statutes by the sterling performance of their mother, who then took the knife, pulled the cord out of the wall with energy and with the strength of David who killed Goliath, cut the cord off and with a calm and reassuring smile that they were all loved, I said, "Now, let's go make a mess."May we all live to tell the story . . .remember the time !!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Lesson Number Three: The Joy of Making a Real Difference

Lesson Number Three

The Joy of Making a Real Difference
April 9, 2013

Do you believe a grandmother can make a difference in the world?  I do !!! Especially these days when grandmothers are sometimes living with vigor, joy, enthusiasm and ideas well into their 80's and 90's. I'm planning on making a BIG difference. Recently I spent seven days with seven of my grandchildren while their mom and dad ran off to bask in the sun someplace in Costa Rico. I made  plans to start making the difference right away. Boldly I announced we would have dinner every night, yes, every night - together - no TV, no canned chili, no Domino's pizza delivered at 7:00. There would be a schedule: up at seven for the high school kids, up at 7:30 for the elementary and Jr. High students with family prayer and scripture reading (at least one verse) at each session.  I announced the introduction of healthy and nutritious food beginning with hot cereal of unknown grains, green smoothies, and for Friday, pancakes made with wheat free, almond, organic brown rice and oat groat flour. To buy their loyalty and make a big difference in their devotion to me, I planned to make buttermilk syrup to disguise the taste.  I had only been incarcerated for a few days when I really noticed the difference. They hated everything I made and it sounded like this: "Grandma Nanny, we don't know what this is,  it looks like hidden turkey; where's the Nutella and did you know we like take out?" The difference is overwhelming me. I think starting on Saturday we should forget carrots, broccoli, roasted root vegetables and green smoothies and get back to the things that really make a difference, like sitting and snuggling on the couch while we watch TV, drink hot Kool-Aid and eat double stuffed Oreos.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Ten Day Miracle
April 4, 2013

In 1996 Richard (he's my husband) and I had six grandchildren. We left the country for three years and when we returned in 1999 we had six more wonderful little beings who had made our children parents but whom we had never seen. We recognized them right away, however, because they all looked like each other. That year we took many trips here and there, mostly there, to get acquainted in hopes of becoming their favorite people. But trips were here with one, there with another and I felt something amiss, and it was. Their parents were always there. The children and I needed freedom from their parents so I devised a brilliant plan to get rid of them in a safe and respectable way. GRANDMA'S CAMP. Can you even imagine the excitement that this announcement created when I invited all of the children over five years of age to come and stay with me for ten days. The moms went crazy. Ten days in the summer without some of their posterity. I remembered as a mother that even when one child had an afternoon with  friend I felt like the house was empty. I instantly took on the stature of Mother Teresa, Jane Goodall and General Eisenhower and to my daughters and daughters in law I became the best Mother, Grandmother, and Superwoman on planet earth - and only for a ten day stint. That's fame in a real hurry. Joy reigned. Mine, the grandchildren's and their parents. We had perm-grin everywhere.

That first Grandma's camp was dazzling. I rented a 15 passenger van to cart us around and numbered everyone so they could count off before we started up the engine. We got up every morning and had scripture study, breakfast, play practice ( I wrote a little "Harry Potter" play which was a great hit because the book had just been released). We took a daily swim at our neighbor's pool, made a quilt for the Sacred Heat Charity, read "Where the Red Fern Grows" in the heat of the afternoon, had a carnival, went hiking in the back yard with His Royal Highness (Richard's preferred name for the grandchildren to call him) and put on a talent show doing crazy Boy Scout skits. The performance of 'Harry Potter' in our back yard won the hearts of their parents and our enduring neighbors who tried valiantly to appreciate the dramatic efforts of 'our' grandchildren. For ten days I dwelled in grandmother heaven. It seemed so much easier that when we had our eight children home for the summer. Maybe the secret to all this fun and good will is the TEN DAYS. I wonder now why we didn't have our children for just ten days in the summer. What was I thinking? !!!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lesson two: How you become a grandmother-Mothers beware !!!

April 3, 2013

I know a few things about being a grandmother. I have 35 grandchildren and every time I am with one of them I learn something new and astonishing. One of the things I really do know for certain is that before you can be a grandmother you need to be a mother:  step, second wife, adopted in or original. It’s absolutely essential.  You are not born a grandmother. But in the midst of mounds and  mountains of dirty clothes, broken washing machines, carpools, pets,  piano lessons, PTA, poverty or blending into a ready- made family,  becoming a grandmother is probably not the first thing on your mind.  It sure wasn’t on mine as I tried desperately just to make it through the punch list one day at a time while still breathing. Looking back on my life raising children I should have paid more attention to the down to earth honest fact that what I was really doing had huge, long term repercussions and I should have been alert to the fact that someday these little people were going to grow up and TURN INTO THE PARENTS OF OUR GRANDCHILDREN.

Lesson One: Always be ready to change your mind

The Grandma Nanny Diaries
April 3, 2013

Making the segue into grandmotherhood from non-grandmotherhood requires some serious thought. I have entertained many serious thoughts. One of my big ones is this: I have loved hating cell phones. I profoundly vocalized my disdain of interrupted conversations one day while sitting at lunch with a grandchild who texted her best friend in the middle of one of my stirring and insightful thoughts. Where was her father when I delivered the message about manners? Besides, I didn't need a cell phone; I am always with someone who has one. And really, I didn't want to spend $50 a month for something I would probably lose in a week. My eight children nagged me incessantly about the danger of a woman my age running around like a loose marble in an old unreliable car, a worry I defiantly ignored on the grounds of being capable of taking care of myself. Even the day when I finally broke down in my old unreliable car on the freeway the man who rescued me, who was also in an old unreliable car, had the number of a tow truck he frequently used right in his cell phone. So there you are!!! Well, that passion for never getting a cell phone completely disappeared one day when out of the blue one of my great and wise friends (whom I relied on heavily for cell phone usage) said to me, "Nan, if you had a cell phone it would make you look a lot younger. Even if you don't know how to text you could stand around with your thumbs on the thing like you were texting. It will change your image. Besides, these days it's the only way you can keep in touch with your teenagers ( referring to my 17 teenaged grandchildren). Three words stuck in my head, YOUNGER, THUMBS and TEENAGERS. Two days later I was in the Apple store signing up for the elixir of youth