Marme and E and WC

I love you to the moon and back again…

Helping E grieve


Last month was the first time that E and WC experienced death–up close and personal. Of course, WC had no idea what was happening. He just knew everyone was crying.

E on the other hand, understood. His Uncle Rick had died unexpectedly and his Mom and Marme couldn’t stop crying. There we sat in the middle of Newbury street in Boston hugging one another and falling apart while E stood by and watched. Then, he started crying. At first we thought it was just sympathy tears. But as the hours and days progressed, we realized he was grieving too. He said, “Why won’t anyone hug me?” It broke our hearts.

Before heading home to be with family, my daughter tried to explain to E that his Pop Pop was going to be very sad. Uncle Rick was his brother. We also explained to him that he needed to be aware of it and give him a hug when we arrived. I knew he would comply and sure enough, when he saw his Pop Pop, he gave him a huge hug.

The next few days were hard on all of us. E cried often, as did his mother. His Pop Pop was trying valiantly to hold it together for his brother’s family. E talked about his Uncle Rick and how he wished he didn’t die.

At the celebration of life, E’s Pop Pop started tearing up. Without any coaxing, he went up to him and hugged him and held him tight for awhile. They both stood there, hugging one another. That hug probably did more to heal their hearts than any words any of us could ever say.

At the end of the celebration, everyone wrote a message to Uncle Rick on a notecard. E spent a long time writing that message. He said he wanted to make his Uncle proud of him; he was going to get his black belt in karate and think of him every time he practiced. He wrote this himself and put it in the jar. It was his way of saying goodbye. His way of expressing his grief.

When someone dies in the family, we might be tempted to shield the children from the death. But kids need to grieve just like adults. How long it takes and how they do it is just as different for them as it is for adults. So it’s important to recognize their feelings and allow them to express them.

It’s been over a month and E still talks about his Uncle Rick. Grief is a process and it will take time. It breaks my heart this happened to him at such a young age, but as time passes the hurt will heal. In the meantime, we are letting him grieve. He needs it just as much as we do. Because grief is indeed the price of love.


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6 New Year’s Resolutions Inspired by E

Last year, I wrote a blog post for my business blog. It is still appropriate for 2015. Based on inspiration from E, this is how I want to start the New Year and how I hope to adjust my “adult” outlook on life.

New Year's Resolutions1. He accepts correction and makes changes based on them

He doesn’t distance himself from you because you discipline him. Instead, he uses the correction to make a change. He remembers that negative actions produce negative responses and the next time he’s tempted to do something inappropriate; he stops and thinks before he acts (most of the time). Imagine the heartache we would save ourselves if we embraced this simple concept of discipline and correction.

2. Every day is a new day filled with possibilities

At the end of every day he can’t wait for tomorrow. He often asks me, “What are we going to do tomorrow?” Even the simplest answer causes him to say, “That might be fun.” Every day is a day to explore and learn and meet new people. He never dreads tomorrow because he knows that he’s going to have so much fun he won’t want it to end. What would happen if we went to bed every night looking forward to tomorrow?

3. The littlest things bring him joy

Wrestling on the couch, watching a new cartoon, playing at the playground or even reading a new book bring him the greatest joy. Laughter is his second language and he uses it freely and unashamedly. It’s not uncommon for him to laugh at the silliest of things and find amusement in something one of the dogs does. When we become adults, we forget to laugh and find the joy in life. For a 3-year old, it’s second nature.

4. He lives for today

My grandson has no concept of time. He’s having a birthday tomorrow (which is 9 months away). He went to his grandmother’s yesterday (which was months ago). Time for him is in the here and now. He looks forward to events with anticipation, but the happenings of today are what consume his life. He’s not bogged down in the past and doesn’t live in the future. He’s happy just to watch a Hot Wheels car go round and round on a track. There is adventure and wonder in every moment of the day.

5. He doesn’t hold a grudge

Three year olds don’t hold grudges. He may remember being hurt, but he doesn’t hold on to the hurt. If you scold him or punish him, it’s over with a hug and an “I’m sorry”. If he does something wrong and apologizes, he expects and should get unconditional forgiveness. Somewhere along the line, adults forget that forgiveness is something we all crave and something we should all give freely.

6. He can find something each day to be thankful for

At the end of the day, his parents ask him, “What was your favorite part of today?” Granted, it’s usually the last thing he did, but reminds him that every day can hold a blessing if you reflect on it. He has started asking us when we put him to bed, “What was YOUR favorite part of the day?” This is how you focus on the positive and leave the negative behind.

In 2015, let’s take a page from my grandson’s book. It will help you be a better parent and change the relationship you have with your teenager. Happy New Year!

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Will Jesus Be at His Birthday Celebration?

IMG_4795-2E is 4. WC is 10 months. For E, Christmas is all about the presents. W has no idea what’s happening–he’s happy every day. Except when we tried to get him to take a picture with Santa. That did not go so well–major tears and hysteria.

How do you teach small children about the true meaning of Christmas? Parents have had this dilemma for years. But now, it’s especially hard. With the introduction of The Elf on the shelf, added to Santa and the overwhelming amount of gifts, the story of Jesus’ birth fades into the background. Parents have to be especially vigilant to keep the focus on the true nature of the holiday–giving.

When I was up in Dallas, last week, his parents and I were making a concerted effort to explain to him why we give each other gifts. We told him the story of the birth of Jesus and how the wise men brought presents to Jesus when he was born. His response–Christmas is about getting presents. He couldn’t grasp the concept.

There are so many distractions for the little ones. It’s fun to get excited about Santa and his reindeer and all the presents. But it’s also easy to lose track of what’s important–the real meaning of Christmas and the joy of giving to others.

Is a 4 year old too young to grasp that? I don’t think so. It takes effort and persistence and a commitment to teach the truth. So on Christmas, we will be baking a birthday cake for Jesus (something my brother did with his kids). It may seem like a small thing, but it’s just one thing we can do to teach him the truth. Does he understand? You can judge by his response when we told him: is Jesus going to come and eat it? Oh the analytical mind of a child!

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The Negotiator

The NegotiatorThe Priceline Negotiator has nothing on E. I often marvel at the maneuvering skills he has when it comes to just about anything he wants. Case in point: he loves sweets. His life revolves around when can he get sweets, how can he get sweets, and just how many sweets he can have in one day. Meals, not so much.

Recently, I was on the phone with his mother and he says, “I need energy”, which translated means he wants a snack. But below the surface in his acute negotiating mind he is thinking, “If I eat a healthy snack, then I will get some Easter candy.” The snack is merely a means to an end to get what he really wants–candy.

It didn’t take long before he figured this technique out. He is so good at it that you often don’t even realize when he is negotiating until he walks away with exactly what you knew he wanted. It’s almost comical at times.

The last time I was in Dallas I took him to the mall for a day of fun–translated riding the train, getting a cookie, and a visit to the Disney store. On the way in the car, he says, “Maybe we can find some super hero shoes.” I said sure, but we’re just going to look because I knew his Mommy wasn’t exactly gung ho on the idea. When we found some at the store, he tells me, “I promise I will only wear these when Mommy says I can. I will still wear my Pumas.” He knew that the only way he was getting those shoes was to negotiate a compromise. Smart little kid. He got the shoes.

And on the heels of E comes WC. I wonder what his tactic will be? I’m sure E will teach him well.



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The terrible 3’s?

photo(4)The twos are gone. And the threes are in full swing. The twos may be for the temper tantrums. The threes are for challenging every aspect of authority with a firm, “no”. With all the strength they can muster they begin to exert their independence.

It’s hard to believe that the sweet little baby boy that you once held in your arms can make the most awful faces, turn away in anger, and point his fist at you in defiance. But he does. And it’s not pretty.

Sometimes, though, you just have to laugh. And that makes it hard to tow the line with discipline. At the same time, you know he’s just testing the waters and trying to figure out where the line in the sand is. No parent likes this phase, and neither do the grandparents.

Here’s the good news though . . .this too shall pass. Soon the fours will come, and then the fives, and then you will be knee deep in puberty. At least, we’ve got baby WC to remind us that the sweet little boy we fell in love with three years ago is still there–hiding inside of the rebellious little toddler.

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Genes and the Next Generation

Photo by KM Digital Images

Photo by KM Digital Images

I can’t begin to explain how overwhelmed with joy I feel at this moment. WC entered our world on February 28th at a whopping 7lbs 2 oz (much smaller than his big brother). He is the most even tempered, calm baby anyone could ask for. Even more so than E (and E was the best!).

It’s hard to explain grandparenthood to those who have never experienced it. Much like it’s hard to explain parenthood. But your heart bursts with love for these new little family members. It could be because you get to experience childhood all over again. Or it could be that you see a little of their mommy or daddy in them, a little of yourself, and even their grandparents and aunts and uncles. That’s how cool genes are–they carry a little bit of us to the next generation.

Grandchildren make you more aware of your mortality and thankful beyond words that you get to experience this aspect of life with your own children. Watching them be parents and experience what you felt so many years ago is priceless. Knowing that everything you taught them is going to be passed down to another generation is mind numbing and awe inspiring. It’s just how God planned it to be.

For me, it’s even more special I think because there was a time when I didn’t think I would even live to see my kids graduate from high school, let alone see them have kids of their own. And yet, here I am. It don’t take any day for granted and I wake up every morning thankful to be allowed the time. The time to watch my kids grow, and watch them have kids of their own. It’s the greatest gift of all and it’s nothing short of a miracle.

Every time I see E’s smile it reminds me of my mother. His willingness to give and share, reminds me of my father. WC’s little feet and lanky legs remind me of his grandfather and great grandfather. Only time will tell as he grows what other family members we will see in him.

There’s nothing like seeing a child being born to make you realize that your life should have meaning and purpose–what better way than to pass a little of yourself on to the next generation.


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And then there were four

e shirt

It’s happening. E is going to be a big brother. The grandpuppies are going to have another little person in the house to torment them. I’m going to be a grandmother…again. Everyone’s life will change forever.

E has no idea what is going to happen. He just knows there’s a baby in his mommy’s tummy. What he doesn’t know is :

  • He will no longer be the center of attention
  • Mommy and Daddy will be focusing on the baby–all the time
  • He will be sharing his toys (eventually)
  • The grandpuppies might become his friend (especially since there is another torturer in the house and they will need protection)
  • The baby is going to be LOUD (something he does not like)
  • Instead of Cars he may have to watch Baby Einstein
  • Another child means some sacrifices (fewer cake pops)

Lucky for him he doesn’t know. At least for now, anyway.

When my son was 2 1/2 E’s mommy entered his world. He was so excited to get a baby sister. That was until she was the picture of cuteness and stole everyone’s heart. Then the competition began. He loves his sister but little girls often steal everyone’s heart.

As of now, we don’t know if it’s going to be a brother or a sister. But one thing is for sure, the baby will change everyone’s life. Another little one to love, spoil, and treasure. God is definitely good!

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Kids say the darnedest things

Years ago Art Linkletter used to talk to kids on his show and ask them questions. They would come up with the most interesting answers. Today, it’s the AT&T commercial with the guy sitting on the stool with the kids asking them questions like, “What is the biggest number?”

Kids. They come up with some of the most hilarious things to say when their vocabulary takes off. E is no different. When he says them we look at each other and ask, “Where did he come up with that?”

That sounds like fun.

When he turned two, and the terrible tantrums began, we started giving him something to look forward to. It seemed to curtail the anxiety and helped ease the transition from place to place. It wasn’t long before he started saying, “That sounds like fun.” And then everything sounded like fun. Let’s eat–that sounds like fun. Let’s read some books–that sounds like fun. Let’s feed the dogs–that sounds like fun.

Please I can

In the process of teaching him to say “please” and “thank you”, he started saying, “Please I can…” for everything. Please I can play with my cars? Please I can watch “Cars”. He’s three and got the words turned around. But every time he says it we all have to smile.

That’s not tasty

Just the other day we gave him some new treats. He took one bite and said, “That’s not tasty.” We have no clue where he came up with that. He had never used “tasty” before.

What about we…?

What about we build a garage? What about we go to the park? What about we play with play dough? Everything is “what about we…” lately. Again–no clue where this one came from.

Hey baby doll.

The most recent darnedest thing he said and did was to grab your face and say, “Hey, baby doll”. This one was an absolute shocker.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

This one isn’t funny. He picked it up watching a Pixar film and one character says it one time. My daughter is working to get him to stop saying it.

Kids are so incredibly impressionable. They hear things and repeat them without knowing exactly what they are saying. That’s why it’s so important to say the best things, be encouraging and stay positive. If he’s anything like his Uncle R.D., he’s going to be a talker (and I mean talker).

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Potty training isn’t for cowards

potty trainingThe games have begun. E is almost three and the time has come to get him potty trained before school starts. E has other ideas, however.

If you get online, there are thousands of sites, books, forums and parenting groups who discuss the subject extensively. There are songs you can sing to motivate them. There are pottys that sing when they are successful. There are those who advocate rewards as an incentive: stickers, m&m’s, small toys and the like. Some say you shouldn’t rush them until they let you know they are ready. Others say that’s an excuse for bad parenting. Honestly you could drive yourself nuts listening to all these opinions and tips.

When my kids were little, we didn’t have all these resources. I do remember, however, telling a friend of mine at the time that of all the obstacles I had faced with my children thus far, potty training was the worst. She said, “Suzanne, potty training ain’t nothing compared to raising teenagers.” I cringed. At the time I was struggling with training my daughter who was unusually obstinate about the entire process.

E is following in her footsteps. He knows what to do. He just prefers not to do it. After explaining to him that if he at least tries, he will get an M&M, he concocted a plan. (Of course he didn’t really, but he figured it out for himself). If he simply tried to go, he would get some candy. So…..he wanted to go to the bathroom often. He would sit there for a bit and announce, “I think I’ll try again later.” Then he asked for his M&M.

Someday this will all be behind them, but for now, it seems like they will never reach the summit. One good thing: I don’t have to do it. And another good thing: I don’t have to do it!


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Lighten up!

Sometimes in life it’s difficult to find things to laugh about, especially as you get older. That’s why God gave us grandchildren. All you have to do is look at their smiling faces or listen to them laugh and you can’t help but smile.

E has finally started singing and it’s been so much fun listening to him pick up on songs and in his own way attempt to “sing” them. Lucky for me, I videotaped one of those songs when I was with him a few weeks ago–The Wheels on the Bus. I don’t think there are many of us that don’t know that words to that song. If you don’t, you won’t understand a word he’s saying. So here’s a quick translation: the wheels go round and round, the wipers go swish swish swish, the driver says move on back, the babies go waa waa waa, and the people go up and down all through the town.

If you’ve not smiling today, this little guy will make you laugh and smile, and hopefully remind you that “a  happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful heart brings healing” (Proverbs 17:22).

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