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 gardens, grandkids, loreeebee.ca

How to Make Your Gardens Kid Friendly

It occurred to me recently that I needed to make my gardens kid friendly so my grandchildren can enjoy them as much as I do. They love my backyard, but my repeated “don’t step on the flowers” as they explore was starting to sound like a broken record. So, I decided to make the gardens kid friendly.

Pathways of Stepping Stones

The idea for pathways of stepping stones weaving throughout my gardens sprouted in my brain when a gardening client asked if I had the use for several stones she had left over from a patio project.

how to make your gardens kid friendly

I also have some bricks that were previously used to edge my backyard gardens. I decided years ago that I prefer a more natural edging as the bricks made it difficult to mow the lawn right up to the garden edge. Grass also (annoyingly and time consuming) grew in between them. The bricks had also shifted over the years so were no longer nice and even, a sore spot with me.

A few seasons in and they had to go. Instead of digging up the bricks at the time, I left them in place and extended my gardens in width. Now I am digging them up to use for the kid-sized stepping stones. These are in their new places, just waiting to be sunk into the ground for stability…

how to make your gardens kid friendly

I asked my almost 8 year old granddaughter if I should paint the stepping stones a bright colour so she, her brothers and cousins can see them better. She voted no, telling me it is more fun to discover them.

I added the pathways at the beginning of the season when perennials are small. This way I can visualize the spacing needed to create the meandering effect I desire. For example, in the photo above, you can see the lily of the valley pips poking through the ground. In a few weeks time the plantings will have filled out and the paths will look like they have been there forever.

Landing Pads

Along with the pathways of stepping stones, I created landing pads in specific spots. There is one in front of each birdbath for little feet to step on while filling the birdbath.

There are now also several landing pads a foot back from the edge of my pond, so my grandkids know to stop there. At least most of them do. No names will be mentioned, but one little boy likes to push the boundaries and get as close as he can.

Plants Surrounding the Stepping Stones and Landing Pads

To keep the look of the stepping stones and landing pads as natural as possible, I placed them in the middle of low growing, resilient ground cover. The pathways now wind throughout my back gardens, perfect for exploring and wandering. They also create access for me, the chief gardener, to weed, plant, amend soil, mulch etc.

The stepping stones and landing pads are also located well away from any fragile or thorny plantings. For their safety and my stress level. Again, some of the grandchildren care more about avoiding prickly things and treating the plants with a healthy respect, others run through the paths full steam ahead.

Whimsical Touches

Another way to interest your kids (or grandkids) in gardens is to add whimsical touches throughout your gardens. I have several animals/creatures for them to visit; a black bear and heron rescued from a client’s garden (they planned to toss them out) a frog and a rabbit (that has its rear end busted off, but now sits wedged into the soil) are favourites too.

The kids can visit bird houses, bird baths, wind chimes, painted stepping stones, (on my fence like artwork as they were too pretty to walk on) stone pagodas, obelisks, arbours, and more as they wander through my back yard.

I would love to add a large inukshuk and totem pole, somewhere and sometime. And perhaps a small tree fort; I have a spot all picked out in the sprawling branches of an apple tree.

Posted in DIY, grandkids, loreeebee.ca

DIY Stepping Stones for Gardens4me

Santa brought me five ceramic stepping stones for Christmas, a DIY craft project for me to paint with my grandchildren. Well, at least the oldest three of five grandchildren, the youngest two are not yet into DIY projects.

We have added their names and the year they were born to the stones too. They are now decorating a fence in Gardens4me as they are much too beautiful to step on. These colourful masterpieces will brighten up the area I refer to as my ICU where plants or cuttings I remove from clients’ gardens get rejuvenated.

My oldest granddaughter painted hers and I painted her baby brother’s right after Christmas when she was still coming here for her online school lessons.

My youngest granddaughter painted hers this past week as I painted her baby brother’s while the latter was napping.

I also painted my eldest grandson’s as he had no interest in painting indoors, was keener to go on an outdoor adventure. Appropriately, I had reserved the turtle for him…

Stepping Stone DIY Project
Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca, nature

Earth Day: Celebrate by Sharing the Love

photo credit: Enzo Pérès-Labourdette

I love sharing my love and respect for nature with my grandchildren, so this article from New York Times caught my attention today on Earth Day.

My grandchildren are at the age where their brains are like sponges. They soak up (and enjoy, I hope) all the nature I throw at them…

Both of my granddaughters love to help me in my gardens, both are great little workers. Planting seeds in anticipation of gardening season and even getting dirty by digging in the dirt is becoming a hobby for them. The eldest has even helped me design a garden for her mother.

My eldest grandson is four, he loves the great outdoors. On our most recent “adventure” we checked out a local pond for tadpoles and fish to enhance my backyard pond. I tried to explain to him that his wiggly friends were still hiding in the mud waiting for the water to warm up, but he was still keen to try…

He is also a bug lover, upturning all the stones (even the stepping stones I installed so he won’t trample my plantings) and statues in my garden looking for their hiding spots. He hit pay dirt on his recent visit…

My second youngest grandson will be two years old this summer. He loves to mimic his big brother (the grandson mentioned above) so it won’t be long before he too shows interest in nature.

My youngest grandson, a pandemic baby, just turned a year old. Not quite walking yet, he does love to look out the windows at the birds and even the wind blowing in the trees. I look forward to the day he toddles around the garden, following his big sister.

The best way to celebrate Earth Day? Share your love of and respect for nature!

Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca

Back to School in Five More Sleeps

My granddaughter is going back to school in five more sleeps. For real, in class school. She has been learning online since last March, almost a year now. Since September she has been coming here for school on the days her Mom goes to work.

She is very excited to be heading back, over the moon in fact. Grandma, not so much. Of course, I am happy she is happy, but I will miss her and the quality time we have spent together these past months. It has been a bright spot for me throughout our pandemic restrictions.

We have settled into a comfortable daily routine before, during, between, and after her online lessons. Classes start at 9am with her school day ending around 330pm. That’s a long day for a seven year old, and an over sixty year old, but we manage to sneak some fun into our day.

Card Games

When she arrives around 630am, we start our day with several rounds of cards, while I sip from my first cup of coffee. She has learned, and is now quite proficient at, the games of Concentration, Go Fish and Crazy Eights. So proficient in fact that she beats me often, without me having to let her win. She is very competitive, so winning is important and losing results in a pout and a demanded rematch. I look at these games as exercise for my short term memory.

back to school

Stretches and Yoga

After she has won enough card games, we get into stretches and yoga poses. As a competitive gymnast, she knows and excels at all the warm up stretches. Grandma can keep up for a little while, until the planks last longer than a minute or she tries to shape me into a human pretzel.

back to school

Reading Books

We have been reading lots too. She reads Mia Mayhem to me, and I read Harry Potter to her.

Mia Mayhem is a series of books appropriate for her age and reading level, but even more special because she shares her name with the super hero star of the series. Santa was very clever to pick those books out for her.

Harry Potter, I would imagine, needs no explanation or introduction. She loves the Harry Potter saga so much that she dressed up as Hermoine for Hallowe’en.

back to school

Culinary Treats

Concocting treats in the kitchen has been popular too with an endless supply of cookies, muffins and even Daddy’s favourite candy for Grandma’s counter and freezer. With doggie bags for her to take some home too of course.

Fresh fruit smoothies and breakfast pancakes are other favourites too. Oh, and she doesn’t let me forget an ice cream treat after her last lesson of the day, before she starts the independent learning hour.

Today, in honour of her last day at Grandma’s school house, we went to Dairy Queen for their Blizzard BOGO event.

Outdoor Time

We also get outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine every day, so important in winter. Before the snow and cold weather arrived we spent our outdoor time predominantly in my gardens, with a few treks to the gardens I tend at our local hospice.

back to school

These past few months, since our gardens are covered in snow, our outdoor time has evolved to include walks in the snow, shoveling the snow or playing in it and with it.

Cultivating her Green Thumb

Even though we had to postpone our gardening adventures outside, we did spend time perusing garden catalogues, choosing new and interesting plants and seeds for spring planting. We also tend the seeds and cuttings we planted last fall, that now take up the entire counter area in my basement.

This week she has also been helping me repot my existing houseplants and find new homes for the new ones that have just arrived. (keep your eyes out for my next post about houseplants) We also rescued a forlorn and partially frozen large tropical corn plant from a neighbour’s snowbank today, hopefully it will survive.

Piano Lessons

All my grandchildren appear to love my piano, but this granddaughter, as the eldest grandchild, is really showing interest and talent. She has worked her way through the kids books, recently attempting a more complicated book of Christmas carols. We had planned to perform a mini concert of these songs at our family Christmas gathering, but neither the concert or the concert happened, thanks to the current rules of the pandemic.

She did let me record her playing a few tunes though…

As you can imagine, our days together have been jam packed with activities, and school lessons too. Her computer skills are now amazing for her age and she is thriving online, although she does miss her friends.

I do understand the importance of developing social skills at this age. Sitting at a computer for close to 5 hours every day is not healthy for any child. (or adult for that matter)

Grandma will miss the quality time. But not the 6am alarm.

Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca

Jigsaw Puzzles Teach Patience

Santa left my seven-year-old granddaughter a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle under our Christmas tree this year, in the form of a map of the world. Santa is a smart guy, he figured a geography lesson in the form of a puzzle would be right up her alley…

She brought the puzzle back to our home to work on between her online school lessons, but also to prevent her younger brothers from losing the pieces or destroying any progress made, a smart move on her part.

Our dining room table is now jigsaw central. I figured I might as well get some use of our dining room since we are not allowed to have large family gatherings these days. There is not much chance the puzzle will be disturbed there.

This puzzle is the largest my granddaughter has tackled, so far. I taught her to sort all the pieces into categories, in this case, different coloured countries, (the large orange pile will turn into Russia) as well as lots and lots of water in various shades of blue. Assembly then started with the outer edges. Patience is definitely the key here, it took us over an hour to sort the pieces, then form the border.

Her biggest problem will be keeping Grandpa from completing it for her while she is not here, as he is a jigsaw puzzle junkie too. I caught him working on it last evening after our granddaughter left for the day…

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 grandkids, health & wellness, loreeebee.ca, parenting

Sleep Deprivation: Its Causes and how it Affects your Health

photo credit

Sleep deprivation can be caused by hormone imbalance, sleep apnea, snoring, room temperature, stress/anxiety, and sleeping conditions.  It is a known fact that sleep deprivation is the most common cause of many health issues affecting adults, children, and those in between.

I used to have an argument with my teenaged son many school nights, about taking his cell phone to bed with him.  His argument was that the phone actually helps him to fall asleep.  I, on the other hand, believe electronic devices of any kind keep the brain stimulated, delaying, and preventing restful sleep.  Sleep deprivation is caused by many things, but stimulation by electronic devices is way up at the top of the list for many children, teens, and adults. Currently, this argument is aimed at my grandchildren when parents allow them to use electronics at or just before bedtime.

If you are not getting an average of eight hours (more for children and teens) of restorative sleep a day,  your long term good health may be at risk.  In fact, it is now being suggested that sleep deprivation can be worse for you than lack of exercise….

If you research the causes of many illnesses or conditions including ADD/ADHD, (both childhood and adult forms) anxiety, depression and other psychiatric illnesses, heart problems, type II diabetes, obesity, brain fog, difficulty focusing and/or concentrating, poor/slow reaction time, memory loss, lethargy, irritability, headaches and loss of energy, just to name a few, you will find sleep deprivation at or near the top of the list.

Every part of our bodies needs sleep to function properly.  Our cells rejuvenate and grow, our energy levels are boosted, our brains refuel with energy and reboot our memories, our aching joints and muscles repair and strengthen, and our organs release essential hormones, all when we are asleep.

This research has tired me out, I think I will take a nap to rejuvenate!

Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca

String Art shows Creativity

Recently my granddaughter decided she wanted to “decorate” the dresser in my bedroom. Tis the season I guess! She discovered my sewing storage unit a while ago; the drawers of buttons have been her favourite for months now. We have literally spent hours playing with those buttons. Throwing them into the air and watching them bounce, then organizing and sorting them before putting them back into their little drawers for next time. It is amazing how far they bounce, hubby and I are always discovering some tucked away all over our bedroom.

Buttons are now passé, (although we are still finding them) she has since graduated to the drawers containing embroidery thread, remnants of DIY projects over the years…

I convinced her not to open the “new” (unopened) skeins, but could not resist indulging her creativity, so let her go wild with the smaller pieces. And wild she went!

Now I am wondering if I should clean it all up (just to be recreated the next time she is here) or move it to an area less frequented so she can continue her masterpiece.

Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca

Channeling my Inner Martha Stewart

For the past few days I have been channeling my inner Martha Stewart.

My seven year old granddaughter decided to make Christmas cards for the residents of the Memory Care home her mom works at. I am in charge of making snowflakes and stapling one into each card.

The idea came to her after I stuck all the ones she and her cousin made last week on my windows…

channeling my inner Martha Stewart

I think even Martha Stewart would approve of these. Each one is a surprise as I unfold the paper to reveal what pattern the tiny cuts have made.

She is designing each one of these Christmas cards individually, so each one has her unique stamp of creativity, just like the snowflakes. Each time she gets a break from her online classes, she is at the kitchen table colouring and designing furiously.

I love the fact that she came up with this awesome idea. I saw similar stories on the news recently. In this pandemic gripped holiday season, it is heartwarming to see our children thinking of making others happy.

That’s it for my break, I’ve got to get back to work….four down, lots to go!