Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to Be a Good Mother-in-Law

Repeat after me:

1. Thank God for this acquired son or daughter.

2. Treat this man and woman as adults with adult responsibilities.

3. Remember your daughter or son now belongs to her or his spouse.

4. Allow them to form a new family---it's theirs, not yours now.

5. Expect this new entity to be different from you and your family.

6. Let the newly formed family do things in their own way.

7. Do not dish out gratuitous advice (which is what I'm doing now)

8. Pray for them daily.

9. Never criticize the "in-law" to his or her spouse.

10. Encourage them in every way you can think of.

My husband's Mother died just after he was commissioned. I never met her, nor had a hands on "mother-in-law". So, with much trepidation, I became one when sons married. I have heard the horror stories. And I desire to be a good mother-in-law.

I think my friend, Nance gave me the 10 point lamenated keeper which I have copied above. Can anyone think of more points to add?? How about:

11. Try to do a good job when asked to keep your children's animals so that maybe they will trust you with keeping the grandchildren.


When to bite my tongue, and when to say something

3:30am Thursday, July 28, 2011
Dear Andy and Lauren,
I don’t know if I will have the courage to mail this to you. I don’t care if you throw it in the trash. In fact, it would be best if you did throw it in the trash so that when some CPS officer or policeman suggests you get rid of your big dog you can honestly say no one else in your life cared enough to warn you.
Bob says I should not say anything. Let the Holy Spirit. Lean on God. But, God gave me eyes to see, and I just want you to consider –think about---the danger a big dog is to you and your children.
Tifa is a sweet dog. She has some wonderful qualities. God has kept her alive and in your possession for a reason. And maybe her big size will thwart any burglar and hence justify her place in your family. But, over the last 75 days, every time she jumped on me, every time her heavy clawed feet walked on me or scratched me, I wondered, what if it had been Baby David? Or Abby? Is it really worth Abby or David losing an eye or finger? Would it truly be “an accident”?
Yes, the danger of something happening to your children exists tripping over a sidewalk, but Tifa is a big dog, and she goes crazy when someone comes to the door. What if Baby David is caught underneath her exuberance?
It is amazing, and I am so glad you, Lauren, found Tifa on Saturday morning when she ran off. (and may I say, I was relieved it was not on my watch, but GrandDad’s) But, I hope you will consider a better home for her where she can run and get exercise, and not be a danger to you or your precious children.
I would not recommend a small yappy dog like Brody, either---the reason I am up at 3:3am is because James and Amber’s Yorkie would not be quiet. Small dogs bite, too. (I actually have scars on my face from small dogs biting me when I was Baby David’s age)
So, consider the source: I got rid of a big dog when Andy was Abby’s age. And I have had cats put down for bad habits. I love you, and hope and pray the best for you all. I just felt that I had to voice my concerns.
Thank you for allowing us to “help” you by keeping your animals while you transitioned from Alaska to Houston. It has been interesting studying Tifa, and figuring out how to keep her in the yard and exercised. I am thankful she never knocked me down. But, again, let me say that your children are so precious. Please put their well being first. And please forgive me for being meddlesome, but when your children engage in risky behavior, I am sure you will speak up, too.
Love, Grannie Joyce/mom

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Grandparents and Great Grandparents

The images in my mind of my great grandparents are like video visits to their homes. And to my great grandfather's office. I was a little girl, but I remember it was neat and clean, and my great grandmother's two story house in Farmer City, Illinois had this wrap around porch. In my mind, the kitchen and dining rooms were huge...full of glass and china, and she had a coo-coo clock. These images are mixed with photos of us spending Christmas there. Huge Christmas feasts.

My Mother's Mom's folks were also in Farmer City at a house across town. They had to all know each other.

Most of my memories are of the grandparents and their houses. My Mother's folks lived on the same farm all their lives. My Dad's folks lived near Rochester for a time when we also lived there. And then my Dad's father built their dream home in Farmer City. Wooden floors, a staircase with spare rooms upstairs where we got to stay...a house built with us in mind.

So, my siblings and I got to experience farm life and city life. With one grandmother, we went with her to the grocery store to buy chicken and vegetables. With the other grandma, we watched her raise her own chickens and vegetables. She only went to town to purchase what they could not make or grown, and she would cluck over the price of chicken in the store.

My grandpa even set aside an acre to grow popcorn. Every year. I did not dare tell the UPS man that the heavy box contained a twenty pound sack of popcorn kernels. We enjoyed popcorn from grandpa's farm

Juggling Animals and Irritating the 30 year old

As our middle son confirmed this weekend--between the babies, dog and cat, it is a three ring circus here these days. I love it. It is a challenge. I have the luxury of time to figure out the big dog, Tifa.

Tifa is not two years old, so she still has puppy qualities. She jumps the fence like a deer to go visit and play with the neighbors dogs if you do not watch her. But, I discovered that if the sprinkler is put in the corner of the yard where she usually jumps, then the sprinkler of water acts as a wall and keeps her in the yard.

Our oldest son brought her to us in June during some pre-deployment training. This gave his wife and kids the freedom to drive down from Seattle without the dog and cat. And it looks like our days with Tifa are numbered, as our daughter-in-law has found a house to rent in Houston, closer to her folks. And the house has a six foot fence which should contain Tifa just fine. I hope the yard has some trees with squirrels, as Tifa loves to tree squirrels.

Tifa is a good dog. She leans into you to be petted, and loves to stick her wet nose between your elbow and side when typing here on the computer for some affection. She is lean like a greyhound, but long hair like a border collie. Her tail can clear a coffee table, and beat on walls in the hallway. It is amazing to see her run. And thankfully, God provided us with an eight year old boy next door who comes over of an evening to help wear Tifa out. Pedro loves to throw tennis and raquet balls onto our roof so that they roll back into his hands. And Tifa and Pedro run and play and fetch the balls. They come inside for numerous breaks because it is so hot. So, I keep the frig stocked with boxes of apple juice. I figure it is a good trade: apple juice for dog exercising. Pedro likes to draw, too. And I found a ream of copy paper at Walmart for $3. Cheap.

(this is the time of year to stock up on drawing paper, spiral notebooks, and school supplies)

Now we were blessed with three boys. Three sons. I gave in pretty early, and caved to the bathroom humor, and let our boys be boys. They made guns from legos. They hated all things pink. I could not even get them to walk down the pink aisle at ToysRus! I would say, "look, paleontologist Barbie" but, there was no way they were gonna look.

Firstborn and his wife had a daughter. Amazing. We had no clue how to do girls. But, I finally had an excuse to buy dolls, pink outfits, and learn. They lived far away, so we enjoyed her when we could and from afar. We are so thankful for skype. Now she is four and a half. And I was told that there are certain words they would prefer I not use. Being a stubborn mom of boys, this is hard.

(had to pause there and put the dog outside, as she was licking the 4 and a half year old, trying to wake her up)

When firstborn calls from A-stan, I ask if he is drinking plenty of water. This is somehow irritating to firstborn. Firstborn has gone from Alaska to A-stan---a hundred degrees difference in temperature. He does not want to be asked how often he is urinating. Guess I could have asked how often he is crying---as tears are another indicator. Oh, well. Getting re-hydrated via an IV will be an unpleasant way to learn, but better than having your mom nag you.

Our middle son had problems with the native food over there. So, I asked firstborn about that, and was again rebuffed. I guess when you hit thirty, you know everything and no longer need a mother. Oh, well. He won't understand until his babies are thirty. Maybe he will parent them better. Different.

For a long time---especially during firstborn's high school and college years, I was a pro at irritating him. So, I strove to take it to new levels. Why not excell at what I am good at??

So, I have asked firstborn for a list of the no-no words: poop, _______, ______

Parenting adults is a challenge. Mostly, we are cheerleaders. Most times I remember to bite my tongue. off. But, sometimes, I like to use humor. And I am thankful that at least firstborn trusts me with his dog. and cat.

And I wish I could talk to my four grandparents. I have such fond memories of them. My Mother's folks were farmers. God-fearing, church going, self-sufficient, generous, sterling examples. I look back on the hundreds of meals, clean sheets, care, love, entertainment they provide me. wow. I was so blessed. They had gardens and canned the bounty. They worked hard from sun up to sun down. They loved me and my siblings and cousins wholeheartedly. Lived to attend my wedding, and the shower of pictures of my babies growing up. My grandma would call and she would be so encouraging.

My Dad's parents were fantastic people, too. But, they liked living large, and in the big town, and they liked to party. My Dad's Dad built his dream house, and worked hard, and insisted I be kind to my sister. But, when he was my age, he fell off that dream house, and died a few days later. My Dad's mom lived until my firstborn was my granddaughter's age. She was a great cook. Loved roses, rubarb, and she bought us new dresses. She encouraged us to dress like ladies. She, too was a great example to me. I watched her care for her own Mother as she lived into her nineties. And my Mother's Mom's mom---I had two great grandmothers until I was in junior high. Care and love and how-to was demonstrated to me daily.

I wonder what they would tell me about parenting a thirty year old....that great grandson they got to know and love. Oh, how fun it will be in heaven, to be reunited and catch up on the stories.

Monday, July 11, 2011


I keep thinking of good blog posts, but then I get scared. I don't want to reveal too much or endanger my soldier sons and nephew.

We have been in grandparent heaven though, this past month. One son came home from his one year deployment as the other cycled over. We were so hoping they'd at least get to shake hands, but no.

Our daughter-in-law in Alaska decided to come back to Texas while her husband is deployed for six months. yay. So, we get to see the four and a half year old granddaughter. And play with the nine month old grandson. They motored on down to Houston to see her folks, the other set of grandparents last weekend, and then our recently returned son and his wife and sweet baby boy decided to make our weekend fun. They are stationed just three hours away. And the baby did good on the trip. He is getting so big. We are so thankful our son is home to be a Daddy and help out with all the diaper changes.

I awoke Sunday morning to running water...our son was giving his five month old baby a bath in the kitchen sink, but no towel...and the water felt kinda cold to grannie. I just love bathing babies. So, I elbowed in and gave him a shampoo. And fetched the towel. And we entertained him for an hour to let his momma sleep.

They scheduled our son's mid-deployment leave for this baby's birth, and while he saw the baby on skype, holding a squirming little guy is much different in person. We are amazed how much this baby is changing before our eyes. Tracking more. Grabbing. And so intense about everything, especially teething.

And the nine month old is crawling everywhere---so we get a sneak peak of what the youngest grandson will be doing in four months.

And what with the huge doggie and is a three ring circus here these days. We are loving it. Bittersweet in that our son is deployed, but cursing turned to blessing in that we get to enjoy the grandkids and the daughters-in-law.