Posted in family, grandkids, loreeebee.ca, parenting

Mother’s Day: Celebrating my Greatest Achievement

photo credit: Facebook

Today I celebrate my greatest achievement. I’m sure it is apparent how much I adore my three sons. They are all kind, caring and loving, not to mention handsome, intelligent, successful, and definitely more humble than their mother.

I am especially proud of the fathers my two eldest have become with the help of the wonderful mothers of their children.

Raising Boys to Men

When my boys were growing up, people always commented on how difficult it must be to raise three boys. I wondered about that comment as I never had any daughters to compare the boys to and I always thought it was an unfair exaggeration.

These days one would call the comments sexist and all kinds of other descriptive words popular in our vocabulary today.

I have to admit, I loved every minute of it. Ok, maybe not every single minute, but 99.9% of them.

Disputing the Theory

As a mother of three boys and a grandmother to three grandsons, I dispute the opinion that boys are more difficult to raise. They may be busier physically, with different interests, but not harder or more stressful.

My father, who raised three boys and three girls, always said the girls were harder. His theory was based on the fact that he worried more about the girls until they were married. Perhaps another sexist comment, but the norm and and non-offensive back then.

Boys will be Boys

There is something to be said for the saying “boys will be boys.” My experience is that (most) little boys are fascinated with things like bugs, dirt and mud, cars and trucks, dinosaurs and more. I don’t believe these interests are taught and learned, but more instinctive or innate. Encouraged (as they should be) perhaps, but not taught.

For example, my four year old grandson can spend hours flipping over rocks looking for bugs. His big sister and younger female cousin, not so much. They tend to run from the bugs, as fast as they can.

And, one of the words my youngest grandson, at just one year old, can say is vroom, vroom. OK, that’s two words, but I’m sure you get the gist.

Tomboys Raising Boys

Perhaps I find boys easy to handle because I was a tomboy growing up, much to the chagrin of my mother. I preferred playing hockey, football, and other sports with the boys instead of playing dolls with the girls. I don’t recall though, being particularly enamoured with bugs.

You could say I had lots of practice hanging out with the boys, that could be why I have so much patience with my grandsons’ antics and interests.

Conclusions

In closing, bearing and raising happy and healthy children is something to celebrate. Even though mine are now adults, I still consider them to be my greatest achievements in life, bar none!

Happy Mother’s Day to the rest of you celebrating your own achievements!

Posted in family, food, loreeebee.ca

Lockdown Life Spawns a Recipe Book

What have I been doing during our latest lockdown? Nothing too exciting, as is the point of said lockdown. Advised to stay home and socially distance ourselves from loved ones and not so loved ones alike, there is not much else to do. Grocery shopping has become an event on my calendar. Although a warm vacation would have been great, I have found other things to keep me busy.

When all the local gardens are frozen solid and covered in snow, the part of my brain focusing on my landscaping/gardening business switches over to freelance writing. I have a few projects on the go in that department, specifically a cookbook from recipes originating from my maternal grandmother at the farmhouse I have mentioned a few times.

Social media, namely Facebook, has been a great tool to rekindle connections with my many cousins on that side of my family. I believe there are thirty something of us first cousins, and many more second and third cousins! This adventure is going to create quite the collaborative cookbook.

I volunteered to spearhead the project, appointing myself as chief collator, sorter, editor etc. Many of these recipes were handwritten (of course no one had any other method of transcription back in those days) by my Grandmother, back in the 50’s. Her short forms, terminology and unique cursive writing often have me guessing.

So, when my eldest granddaughter is busy with her online school classes, or during any other spare time I find (who doesn’t have spare time these days??) I am typing furiously, trying to get the recipes ready for publishing.

I have chosen Lulu, a self-publishing, online platform for this recipe book where copies are only printed as they are ordered. That way I do not have to pay anything in advance, worry about deliveries or store unsold copies. When I am done, I simply send a link to my extended family members and they can order copies as they wish. All proceeds from the sale of this recipe book will be donated to the Pleasant Valley Cemetery, located just down the road from the family farmhouse, where many generations of this family are laid to rest.

Posted in current events, family, grandkids, health and wellness, loreeebee.ca, mental health

Introverts still have the advantage

photo credit to Andrea Piacquadio on pexels.com

This article was posted way back in April when the COVID pandemic lockdowns were new to us, reposted today in frustration that most of it still applies…

Introverts have such an advantage in this COVID-19 turmoil and the isolation, quarantine, and social distancing guidelines it has spawned.  So much so that I find myself wishing I was more introverted.

I never realized before just how much of an extrovert I am.  Or perhaps it’s the strict rules we have been instructed to live by that I bristle at.  I never have been good at someone telling me what I can and cannot do, or when I can do them.  I am getting lots done, things I have been procrastinating about forever, but not on my own terms.

I am missing the social interaction we take for granted that enriches our daily lives.  Whether it’s chatting with neighbours, meeting friends for lunch or coffee, or stopping into our favourite stores.  I miss the actions and all of the people that make them so special.

I miss my grandchildren so much, and their parents too of course.  The sunny smiles, hugs, and laughter from the children and the amusing anecdotes their parents share with us are what makes my world go round, usually.  My world feels like it has turned upside down, with me holding my breath until it rights itself.

Compared to others, my life is relatively good.  My family is safe and healthy. My landscaping business may get a late start this season, but my freelance writing can fill in the extra time.  And, my own gardens may get some extra TLC.

This extrovert is just impatient for this nightmare to be over.  In the meantime, perhaps I should try channeling my inner introvert so I might enjoy the few things left we are allowed to do.

As an update, my gardening business did resume in May, although I lost several clients as they were either working from home and able to tackle their gardens themselves, or had to give up my services due to budget constraints. My own gardens did indeed benefit from the extra attention as suspected, although they generated more expenses than income. I was not able to pick up as many freelance writing projects as anticipated, again mostly due to clients’ reduced budgets.

Nine months later, memories of 2020 became a poem in a recent post. Many things remain the same or have evolved, been reinvented, or reinstated, but some have changed. Some in a positive way and others not so positive.

The judgement, finger-pointing, blaming, and ugliness has ramped up to an all-time high. Family get-togethers are still taboo, especially since our immediate family members total 12. As one son stated, “he can work with his brother, but cannot have Christmas dinner with him.” Where is the logic in that?

As for the positives, a hot summer meant more time in the lake at the cottage. Socially distanced from our neighbours, it was the place to be. Family members came to visit, but not all at once.

In July, when it seemed like we had “flattened the curve,” we were able to gather for at least one birthday celebration this year when our second grandson turned one…

Introverts still have the advantage

Sadly, it was only the second time these five cuties were able to see each other since March.

Also on the positive side, we (as a family of 12) have decided that since I have been assisting our 7-year-old granddaughter with her online school and allowing our almost 3-year-old granddaughter to visit weekly to give her mom a break after the birth of their new baby, (our 5th grandchild, a celebration in itself) that we would continue this support system by allowing the grandchildren to visit. This decision was made despite the fact that Ontario residents have been told not to permit anyone outside of their household into their homes as of December 26. As a support system for my family members that are considered essential services, I feel it my duty to do whatever works for them, and I take great pleasure in the visits.

In fact, I believe my mental health and that of my precious grandchildren rely on these visits.

After all, I am still an extrovert. That will never change.

Posted in Christmas, family, grandkids, loreeebee.ca, online purchases

It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

To steal a line from that famous carol, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my home. With the pandemic sucking most of the fun out of 2020, many are decorating earlier than usual this year. Me too, as soon as remembrance day was over, I hauled out my decorations.

Outside Decorations

It helped too that the weather outside was not so frightening, so hubby was coerced into putting up the outdoor lights. This becomes trickier each season as the trees we adorn with multicoloured lights get bigger and bigger. This blue spruce was purchased more than thirty years ago, as a dwarf variety, supposed to achieve a height of five feet at maturity. Currently it sits at around 15 feet, no dwarf for sure, but hopefully as mature as it’s going to get. It sure does look pretty though when all lit up, even from way down the street. So my neighbours tell me.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Moving Inside

Moving inside, our artificial (due to hubby’s allergies) Christmas tree is up in our front window with more lights twinkling on it. My almost four year old grandson helped me add the ornaments, three per branch in many instances. It’s the thought that counts, right? I wonder if he will notice that I could not resist moving them around a bit to fill in some needier spots…

Last year, during a Florida vacation, I purchased these four beautiful Harvey Lewis ornaments, embellished with Swarovski crystals, one for each grandchild I had at the time…

This season I tried to order another “J” for our newest family member, the grandson that was lucky enough to be born at the beginning of the pandemic. Unfortunately, it seems lots of J babies were born this year as that letter is now unavailable. I will keep trying, my fingers are crossed hoping more will become available soon. As my sister in Texas is a little closer to Florida than I am in Ottawa, I have her looking for me within the USA.

My oldest granddaughter helped me unpack decorations from their designated buckets (yes, all labelled with the room they go in) and add them to the holiday decor, during her breaks from her online school lessons. Some decorations are very old (the bulbs in a vase on the dining room table belonged to my hubby’s grandmother!), some brand new, most somewhere in between. Many were handcrafted, like the wooden snowman-like guy at the bottom that my middle son made in grade two. He is now pushing twenty-nine years old. The point is that all have special meaning to us. Another example is the fibre-optic tree that was rescued from my Dad’s crawlspace just before his house sold after his passing…

I had to remove and relocate the (fake) poinsettia plants I had inside my fireplace, as my granddaughter was very concerned they might deter Santa…

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

A beautiful, real poinsettia, received from a friend, looks awesome on my kitchen table. The white blooms pop against the colourful tablecloth…

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Holiday Crafts

Both of my granddaughters love crafts. I knew I held onto my craft bucket (for many years) for a reason, or two. We made snowflakes, a la Martha Stewart, ensuring every one is unique, just as nature intended…

My younger, almost 3 year old granddaughter helped me make loops of red and green paper to decorate the doorways.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I’m sure when she sees the snowflakes crafted by her older cousin, I will have a few more to add to my windows. I won’t tell her that I am counting on it. I also saw a neat (and kid friendly) craft on the Marilyn show I know she will love. A Christmas tree made of a paper cone and plastic spoons, decorated with glitter sounds right up her alley.

New Decorations for 2020

Shopping on Amazon recently for ideas on crafty decoration kits I could purchase to make with my granddaughters, I saw these really cute, very 2020, customizable Christmas tree ornaments. Spoiler alert to any family members reading this, I ordered some for each of our families!

It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas
customizable for your family!

Supporting our local shops, I purchased a few items from Wood N Delights & The Country Cottage out of Frankville, Ontario. Lots to choose from, visit their site for yourself for more ideas…

I settled on some stocking stuffers and a little something to add to my Christmas decorating. I am in love with the sweet cardinal-inspired salt and pepper shakers, now on my dining room table…

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Where are you in your decorating this year? Have you started early or are you still waiting to get motivated?

Posted in baby, family, grandkids, loreeebee.ca

A Photo A Week Challenge: Laughter

This is my granddaughter excited to see her new baby brother for the first time. He was born in April, 2020 when siblings were not permitted to visit new arrivals in the hospital, so big sister had to wait until he came home…

A Photo A Week Challenge
meeting baby brother!

This is (still) one of my favourite pictures of this granddaughter!

Posted in current events, education, family, health and wellness, loreeebee.wordpress.com

Covid and Kids, What are the Long-Term Effects?

I worry about the short and long term effects of this covid pandemic on our children. Social distancing does not come naturally to them. It is difficult enough for us adults, but we (most of us) can see and understand the reason behind the rules. We also do our best to explain these rules to our kids and grandkids.

When we were not allowed to hug or touch each other I would tell my grandkids that “grandma is sick and doesn’t want to make you sick.” This little white lie worked, but I could see the confusion on their sweet little faces.

The primary (pun intended) lesson learned in sending our kids to school at four years old is supposed to be the development and practice of social skills. You know, stuff like sharing, trading, empathy, taking turns and more. How can they do this if social distancing is their new norm?

What lessons are they going to learn instead? Don’t touch, don’t get too close, don’t care, and god forbid, don’t share. Will they learn anything beneficial? At what point are we doing them more harm than good?

Parents are facing a dilemma. Most families need two incomes to stay afloat financially, and cannot afford to have one parent stay home to look after young children. Single parents have even less choice. Daycares offer the same risk and discourage social skills as schools are doing.

So, what is the answer? Perhaps a Covid related, government issued benefit for a parent to stay home to care for, nurture and educate their young children. If we can pay any previously employed adults to stay home even though they could/should have returned to work, why can’t we pay parents to stay home? Of course, like a maternity/paternity leave, it would have to guarantee a job upon their return to work.

Posted in current events, education, family, loreeebee.ca

Teacher AKA Grandma, that’s me!

With Covid restrictions and precautions gripping our world for several months now, with no end in sight, online learning or e-school has become popular. It was a tough call, but my son and his partner (both essential service providers) decided to keep their eldest child home from school to reduce her (and the rest of our bubble’s) chances of contacting the dreaded virus.

Me a Teacher?

In high school, (waaaaay back when) one of my career goals was to be a teacher. That goal was stymied by lack of money in the family to support a university education. As I was fifth of sixth children applying for government assistance, the pickings were slim. I worked several jobs each summer and through the school years to scrape barely enough money together to attend college. Community college and medical laboratory technology was my reality.

That might explain why this always-wanted-to-be-a-teacher Grandma is embracing my new role as online supervisor to my seven year old granddaughter on the days her mom works or has an appointment. The teacher is online with the kids too, so I am just backup in case assistance or guidance is required, close enough for me.

Offline Lessons

In addition to the online learning I am helping my granddaughter with, I am creating lessons of my own to teach her during her breaks from the online stuff. Fun (to me) things like botany, geography and piano. She has shown an interest in my gardening business, so for her recent birthday, I gifted her with a mini greenhouse kit and some tulip bulbs.

The greenhouse kit came with all necessary components as well as instructions on how to grow plants from seeds. The seeds however were not included, so we collected some from my gardens…

When the seeds were all planted and peat pots were labelled, we decided to keep the greenhouse on top of our fridge as warmth and distance from little brothers is recommended for the success of this lesson.

Seeds planted and labelled

Much to my delight, she has also shown an interest in learning how to play the piano. My eldest son (not her father) attended piano lessons at Music For Young Children years ago when he was just a toddler. I was the adult attending with him, so learned basic piano too. Fast forward almost thirty years to where I am sharing what I learned with all of my grandchildren, but as the oldest this particular granddaughter is able to grasp the concepts and has already mastered Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Music is indeed the universal language!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning

Back to e-school and the online lessons we are both learning. I must admit I am impressed with the online program (OCDSB) my granddaughter has access to. Her teachers are cheerful and as organized as they can be, considering they are teaching six and seven year olds. At the beginning we encountered a few issues, like login failures, link errors and inability to get our French accents to work. That’s where my learning came in; having never used a Chromebook, I was not familiar with the language options on it. I may be an old dog, but I can learn new tricks.

Three weeks in things are going much smoother, in fact more and more children are joining the classes every day as the number of Covid cases continues to rise. Of course there are disadvantages to online learning, the main one being lack of physical contact with their friends. Although during the breaks they can be amusingly chatty, some kids more than others.

The main advantage is the computer familiarity for the kids. They have learned to log in, navigate between tabs, create their own favourites list, copy and paste links, alter the size of fonts, as well as the keyboard layout and the function of different keys, etc.

Their “jamboards” are cool, an interactive screen created by Google, where they can play around with ideas, much like a white board in a meeting, except it’s online.

They do get breaks often so their eyes and brains don’t get too fatigued, including 5 minute dancing sessions. A favourite dance tune is The Gummy Bear Song, although I bet their teacher is sorry she introduced them to that one…

The Gummy Bear Song

Next Lessons

Tulips will be next for my offline lessons, planted outside with banana peels to deter the squirrels from digging up the bulbs. We have both been saving banana peels in our freezer in anticipation of planting. I usually wait until just before the ground freezes to plant to reduce the temptation for the squirrels. As my dad used to say “squirrels have to eat too”, just not my bulbs!

I also want to teach my granddaughter basic geography with the help of an atlas and a large wall map my son used to be fascinated with, if I can find it. We used to have a globe around here, but think it is long gone. This idea came to me yesterday when she thought Florida was in Canada.

Any other ideas for offline, supplemental learning would be greatly appreciated!

Posted in education, family, grandparents, lorieb.wordpress.com

Photography Lessons, It’s Never Too Early to Learn

As most of you know, I thoroughly enjoy the time I get to spend with my grandchildren, especially the one on one time. Each grandchild has their own unique personality and interests which are becoming quite evident in the oldest three. The two youngest are still babies; their turn will come.

Recently my two and a half year old granddaughter has shown an interest in photography. Since she has been the subject of the oh so many pictures her parents and grandparents have taken on our cell phones since her birth, it is no small wonder she wants to try it herself. She is very independent, and getting more so every day.

I thought I would let her “show me how” to take a picture on my cell phone, and I was amazed at how proficient she is at it. Sometimes. Eventually. When she remembers to keep her fingers off the lens. It is amusing and fascinating (and so cute) to hear her talk herself through the steps.

  • Find the red “camera” button
  • Hold up the phone
  • Look for Grandma (I was her subject)
  • Move my (her) fingers
  • Push the white button

These were her first few attempts at getting the fingers out of the way…

Practice makes perfect; she did get better as she kept trying…

She is definitely a quick learner…as well as very determined and perseverant, all wonderful personality traits.

Posted in family, grandkids, loreeebee.ca

A Socially Distanced Farm Visit

I have been promising my grandchildren to take them to the farm where my mother grew up for months. I have also been promising my uncle we would visit, but due to the social distancing rules of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been putting the trip off. My uncle convinced me we could arrange a socially distanced, outdoor visit though, so I packed us a kid-friendly picnic lunch and off we went.

My uncle (my mom’s younger brother) now owns and looks after the property with his wife and daughter. They have done an awesome job renovating and keeping it thriving.  It has always been one of my favourite places to visit, although I don’t get there nearly as often as I would like to.

Enjoy this slideshow of just a few of the pictures…

  • Farm visit
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In the very last picture you can see writing in the cement where the girls are standing. My mother engraved her name (Eva) way back in 1941 when she was just twelve years old! I tried to explain the connection to the children, but they are too young to understand yet. Someday though I hope they will appreciate and marvel their great grandmother’s autograph as much as I do.

The kids loved their farm visit, in fact when my uncle told us to come back soon, my grandson said “See you tomorrow!”

Posted in family, grandparents, lorieb.wordpress.com

Nail Polish and Granddaughters

Having raised three sons, but no daughters, I am really enjoying the girly activities my two granddaughters currently bring to my life.

Case in point, recently they polished my nails. One granddaughter painted my finger nails. She couldn’t decide between green and purple, so did both, resulting in a camouflaged, bicoloured look. Pretty cool and artistic for a two-and-a-half-year-old…

…and the other painted my toe nails. This granddaughter will be seven very soon, so is much more vigilant and precise with the placement of the polish. Although she too had a hard time sticking to just one colour, so I got pink on one foot and purple on the other, both with a sparkly coating on top:

I love their creativity. Who needs a nail salon? Not me!