Adventures in Babysitting

I babysat my grandboy last week so his parents could have their first-ever nights away from him since he was born.

I was ready for this event…I’ve been working out, doing yoga, walking, sleeping less, scaring the crap out of myself, testing my reflexes … I wasn’t even close to ready. Following is my three day diary:

Day one:

The kids left today for a much-needed three-day anniversary getaway. They look so young, so excited, so trusting and confident as they leave me in charge of their almost three-year-old.


I feel good, and like a high class au pair since they flew me to their home in South Carolina for the maiden voyage of the SS Operation Eli. I’m a little nervous because they’ve never left him overnight – like, ever – and I will be the one to find out tomorrow how that’s going to work out for him.

Still, I’m confident as I remind myself I successfully survived raising two of my own (or more accurately they survived it), so how hard can it be?

With the naivete’ only an excited grandmother can feel, I waited for them to leave then sprang into action. I am officially Super Ya Ya.

I’ve got this.

Yeah, no I don’t. Not really.

First, he balanced on an exercise ball while standing up, followed by a soccer ball. He lacks the fear gene, and was working his way down to standing on an oiled-up marble. I’m beginning to  suspect he has DNA from the Walinda line, specifically the flying branch of the family. I found out he has a sense of humor because he laughs when I’m scared. Every time, and he laughed a lot.

By evening, he had graduated from balls to his car turned on it’s side, because … no fear gene.

The kid has no respect for gravity – he will climb on anything, and also jump on or off of it, depending on his mood and my proximity.

He is smarter than I am, except for when it comes to the child safety locks – thank God and so far.

Still, I sense I have met my cardio goal for 2018 and I’m only 8 hours into a 48-hour gig. Somehow, I don’t remember feeling this way 30 years ago.

Tonight, I sent many photos from the day’s adventures and a rosy picture of my unending stamina. Secretly, I am terrified that when he doesn’t see his Momma and Daddy in the morning, all this will change.

Day Two:

I wake up to a precious boy smiling at me next to my bed, which is the best thing in the world even if it is 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning. My understanding is that this is what it looks like when he “sleeps in”, so I am sleepily grateful and attach my coffee IV.

(Note to everyone who knows me: it was 4 a.m. in Texas, where we all know I don’t think that  anything before 7 a.m. actually exists).

Most of the day was a blur of true adventure – Cheerios, walks around the lake, him riding me like a horse when I was on my hands and knees searching for puzzle pieces and a game he made up called “I have the remote and you are old and slow.”

Pro-tip: I hid everything that was round and taller than four inches off the ground.

We had drive-in movie time in the living room, trampoline time on anything with bounce –including my stomach – and an impromtu trip to the CVS store around the corner due to a broken phone charger.

CVS was the game-changer.

CVS is where any pride or illusion of competence I had was unceremoniously stripped away.

I remember thinking “how hard can this be?”  as I strapped him into the carseat.

Eli answered that question with a solid, “hide and watch.”

Surveillance videos will show that as I entered the store, I located the phone chargers and naively put Eli down and held his hand as I searched for the right charging cord.

They will also show that he dropped like perfectly-cooked pasta, wrenched his hand loose from mine and ran for the door. And by ran, I mean sprinted; and by door, I mean automatic death trap.

I haven’t run on purpose in about 35 years, but this day I was Flo Jo. I caught him as he caught his first breath of outside air. Any illusion I had that I was a glamorous or classy woman evaporated that today.

If you don’t believe me you can ask the 50 shoppers who were there although they never made eye contact or assisted.

As an added bonus, I had on no makeup; my kinky hair was thrown up in a bun with a groovy head band to keep me from looking like I had been electrocuted.  Also, I was wearing stretch pants, a t-shirt and tennis shoes and I was sweating two minutes into the visit.

Not willing to give up, I gathered him up and made my purchase with the ease of a blind person trying to play Whack-A-Mole.

I got Eli buckled into his car seat, and by then it was like strapping in an octopus. I started the car and checked the charger in my phone. It didn’t fit. There were real tears, and they weren’t Eli’s.

I repeated the scene, only this time we got a cart. I went through the motions of getting a refund, then purchasing one that would actually fit my phone. After I paid and freedom was near, I looked in the cart and my precious boy had loaded the cart with juicy fruit and he was really proud. By now I’m looking homeless and defeated and the cashier looked genuinely amused.

I’ve been around the block enough times to know the boy now smells blood in the water.

Dinner tonight was a battle of him trying to tell me he always gets to eat spaghetti in front of the TV, and me not believing him.

He passed out from all of the excitement shortly after that and I realize I have only 12 or so more hours of being on high alert.

I can’t feel my legs.

Day 3:

I wake up yet again at 5 a.m. to a smiling boy. We have survived, and we celebrate with Cheerios for him and coffee for me. Also, Mickey Mouse Club House and the Hot Dog Song was thrown in for good measure.

All is well….

By the time a very rested Mom and Dad got home at 11 a.m., Eli and I have already had what I used to call a full day.

He is happy. He survived. I survived. His parents are happy.

I’ve got this.

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I wrote this just before a 4 day nap

I just spent a gloriously exhausting week with my daughter and grandson.

They flew back home to South Carolina Wednesday, so if you need me, I am taking a nap that should last somewhere around four days.

During the week, there was lots of food, love, and remembering going on.

And exhaustion, which is what brought about the remembering.

They say you forget, and you do. But there is no replacement for a toddler in the house to make me think, “Holy crap. I lived through that … twice.”

My almost two-year-old grandson  climbs like a mountain goat and runs like a Weeble with a track star’s legs. In addition he has the quiet determination of Jaws, and the mind of an engineer.

I don’t know how his mother is still standing, as I now need some assistance. But admirably, she is.

In retrospect, I probably should have been training for American Ninja, but I’m sure they wouldn’t want the responsibility of getting a grandma ready for the toddler olympics. “Too much, too soon,” they would say. And they would be right.

A lot has changed in the 30 years since I’ve been completely in charge of keeping a tiny human out of harm’s way. Food has changed, rules have changed and my ability to read a toddler’s mind has wavered more than a little

There’s now a thing called “Almond Milk,” and I didn’t even know you could milk an almond. But you can, and I have a half gallon of the stuff in my frig.

As a matter of fact, from what I can tell so far, almost every single thing I did with my kids should have rained certain death upon them, from letting them sleep on their stomachs as infants to never, ever feeding them green peas.

My children should never have survived me.

We had front-facing car seats, for God’s sake, but at least we had car seats.

In retrospect, I do remember my own mother driving around Littlefield, Texas, while three-year-old me stood in the front seat of her Country Squire station wagon wearing only panties and singing Downtown by Petula Clark. In the event of a sudden stop, her arm was my seatbelt. Every generation has it’s shame.

We’ve gone from free-range tots roaming in the front seat (1960’s) to sort of strapping them in the front seat (1980’s) to a four-point rear-facing seating system that faces backward in the back seat, today.

And yet we all survived.

Now they are home safe, and I am finding sad reminders that they were here – Cheerios in the couch cushions, a back that may never be straight again and that feeling in my heart that I cannot wait to be this exhausted again.

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2014 Warp-up

For a record sixth year in a row, this was not my year to send out Christmas Cards.

It’s not a personality defect – I could pave the road to hell with my intentions – it’s just that given a choice between paving stones and Christmas cards, well, you know which one I chose.

I  actually tossed around the idea of writing a Christmas letter, which is actually a letter written after Christmas and mailed around New Year’s Day when that second wind hits.

I considered this method of greeting even though no one in my family had their first ballet recital; had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize; or graduated law school. Then I thought about what I would write if I did do one of those letters and I have to admit, I had a good year.

So I wrote it down.

I’ll take the dog for $2,400, Alex

My 2014 began with my dog, Erma, eating a $2,400 beach towel. It didn’t begin as a $2,400 beach towel,  it actually cost $18.99 in it’s original form when purchased from Target. It’s value grew to $2,400 on it’s way out of Erma by way of a skilled veterinary surgeon. Erma is fine now, although a slow learner as I just dug an entire paper towel out of her slimy throat.


Erma, the day after surgery, with no hint of a lesson learned in her eyes.


49 and holding . . . . nevermind

I turned 49 years old last January and around that auspicious date had the thought that I should lose 10 pounds before my fiftieth birthday. I only have 15 pounds to go and three weeks to get there.

Meanwhile in Dayton, Ohio . . . 

I attended my second Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop in  April where I got to learn, laugh and rub elbows with the likes of Phil Donohue, author, columnist and damn funny woman Gina Barreca, comedian Judy Carter and some of the funniest women in the United States.

Late one evening several of us were sitting in the courtyard of the hotel telling stories involving Israel, Toastmaster’s and traditional marriage when it came completely unhinged. Judy Carter laughed so hard she threw up in the bushes next to the reception tent. This caused Gina Barreca to emit a combination laugh/scream so loud it woke the people up  who were sleeping in rooms adjacent to the courtyard, which in turn caused me to wet my pants. It was a vicious, beautiful cycle of laughter, wailing, puking and happy pee.

Gina and Judy

Two of the funniest women on earth, Judy and Gina.

In yet another exchange earlier in the day, I complimented Gina on her hair. It is curly, beautiful and everything I wish my naturally curly hair could be, since mine is an underachiever with a bad attitude and an early-1970’s Robert Plant complex. I especially complimented her bangs, which were perfect in a way mine refuse to be, asking, “How do you get your bangs to do that?” She answered, “Doll, where I’m from, ‘bangs’ is a verb.” I hope and pray that ends up as a chapter title in one of her future books.

Good times.

Then there was Boston . . . 

My son, although not an attorney, did get his master’s degree in English from UMASS in May, which is even better because we use words every single day. The commencement ceremony lasted a record number of hours, and ended when the last remaining graduate on the stage entered a nursing home.

My daughter, mother and two of my sisters made the trip to graduation and we stayed at a hotel in the heart of Boston, where good food abounds at every corner. We ate wild boar tacos, drank a mescal old fashioned (which I renamed “Satan’s Scrotum” and do not recommend unless you really want to sweat out something that smells like lighter fluid mixed with regret) and generally sampled all things not easily found in north Texas. However, one of my sisters whose name I won’t divulge (Kim) was seriously upset that she couldn’t find a baked potato anywhere. After a couple of mescal old fashioneds, she blacked out and hushed her mouth.


Kim (the one standing IN THE CHAIR) encouraging UMASS grads to pursue better health through baked potatoes.

Also, I managed to meet a man named Isis who was on the secret service detail of the Turkish Prime Minister and staying at our hotel. I learned zero Turkish words that trip, but speak Turkish sign language almost fluently.

He can’t take me anywhere

My husband has insisted for a while now that he “can’t take me anywhere.” (His words, not mine. He can, he just doesn’t like to) So, when he did take me somewhere –  Jason’s Deli – the 18-year-old taking our order asked us if we were with the party in the back. I answered, “No ma’am, we are with the business in the front.” Then I laughed and laughed, all by myself.

How I found out Jesus uses the U.S. Postal Service . . . 

I work at a weekly newspaper that mails issues to subscribers. Outside of our community, we suspect our papers get to their destination by way of the good old-fashioned Pony Express (and possibly some mescal), but without the express part. Sometimes it takes a week to get 30 miles. Finally, in November a sweet woman from a neighboring community put her problems in getting her Iowa Park Leader in a timely manner into God’s Hands, and this is envelope we got her renewal check in:


I sincerely hope her prayers are answered, although history tells me it will be another 2 weeks before we know.


Not that I’m getting older, but . . . 

I officially anounced it last week when the gag order lifted, but it’s worth mentioning again – I’m going to be a grandmother(!). A G-Ma. Grandmummy.

And although the baby will be born a foreigner – all the way in South Carolina – my own father was an immigrant from Oklahoma, so it will be just fine.

What I didn’t talk about was the month-long debate that can be equated to a peace summit in which grandparent names were chosen, then shot down in a blaze of relatively little glory. All I will say for now is that my grandchild will not be calling me Queenie even though I had a couple of tiaras on stand-by to wear to the birth.

 And Finally,

Raise a little hell.

A quick back-story about these socks: We attended a Christmas party where we were required to bring a $5 gift. I brought these even though they were $7 on sale, mostly because I wanted the hell out of them. So I made my husband take them during the gift exchange because I knew he wouldn’t wear them on a bet and they would end up on my sweet feet.

I was right, and now I own a pair of power socks.

hellraiser socks

The best socks in the history of ever.

I love them because they remind me that raising a little hell is not a bad thing. Standing up for what you believe in; changing the things you don’t like; righting wrongs . . . . those are things worth raising hell over. So go out this year and be a hell raiser. Raise money or awareness for a cause you believe in. Dare to laugh until you puke, without an apology. Stand up for a person who is being unfairly treated – for God’s sake, stand up for yourself. Dare to treat yourself like your own best friend during the next 365 days.

Most of all, find your moments of happiness and joy and spread ’em around a little.

Thank you for coming to this blog and playing with me every once in a while. You keep me going and laughing and thinking, and for that I am truly grateful.

Now go out there and raise a little of your own hell in 2015.

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