7 days with baby E

A week ago, I was busy shopping and cleaning and cooking.

And in a blink, the week has come and gone. My daughter, her man, and their beautiful baby, have also come and gone.

Yesterday, I cleaned and tackled piles of laundry. I was glad to have something to do. I may have also rewarded myself by finishing off mostly-eaten bags of chips and random growlers of craft beer that were left behind.

They made it home safely, and I’ve got a mound of stuff to send that wouldn’t fit in their suitcase. I had to bag it and put it by the door so at least I’m not staring at baby things in every corner. My heart just can’t take the constant reminder that they are not here.

The amount of love and support that arrived in gift bags and through time spent is overwhelming. Let’s not forget the gladly loaned baby gear – donated pedicures – and dinners out. Our community blessed my daughter and her little family so richly.

Everyone cried except the baby.

It was a solid event-filled trip for them, which included:
– Attending church and having the most heartfelt baby dedication
– An open house / luncheon for a dozen people
– Naps (not enough, but is there such a thing?)
– Dinner out for Aunty Mo’s birthday
– Mommy & Daddy’s first night out without baby E
– A boat ride in the Gulf of Mexico
– A trip to the mall
– Breakfast out / lunch out
– Hanging out at the beach
– Hanging out at the pool
– Hanging out at the house with friends
– A visit with great-grandparents that live 90 miles away
– And to finish it off, a lovely sunset on the beach

This helps…

So yes, it will be quiet, and baby free, and oh-so-empty for a bit. I’ve already booked my next trip in just 54 days. The only consolation was to begin a new countdown.

Thanks, technology!

It was incredible to see my girl and her man operating as a team around their little one. They were helpful and patient and so loving toward one another and baby E. He is one lucky dude to have amazing parents, and I told him so the entire time he was here.

Our hope is that they are able to relocate at some point soon. For now, we’ll hop on planes and facetime each other and send group texts. Distance is annoying, but love and technology will help us to stay connected.

-To those who survived the bygone era of actual mailed letters, and photos that took a week to be developed, bless you.
-To those who missed hearing the voices of their grand babies (okay, cries more than voices), bless you.
-To those who are unable to travel to hug the people you love, bless you.

If you are lucky enough to live nearby your grandchildren, count your blessings. And don’t wait for a special occasion to invite them over or pay them a visit. In fact, go over right now and tell them you love them. And pinch their cheeks if it’s appropriate! Do it for all of us grand-parenting from a distance.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

It's time for the good stuff

Hi there!

It’s been a hot minute since I have written. Tell me, have you missed my wit and enlightenment? Say yes, please.

I was SHOCKED that this was not a topic of a post last year. I remember very specifically writing it in my head. I actually went back through all my posts and drafts and it’s nowhere to be found. So here goes.

Last year was the first official year that I decorated my tree as an empty nester. It was brutal. Pulling out all of the nostalgia just about killed me dead. I tried to set myself up for success. I had some funky dance music going, and a glass of red to keep me company.

What I didn’t realize is how sentimental I actually am.

Digging through all of the handmade ornaments, and realizing an entire era has passed. So many memories wrapped in paper towels, waiting to be hung on the tree once again. I remember last year, vacillating between the joy of decorating, and the melancholy of missing my kids.

So this year, I was prepared. I knew it was coming. I had funky dance music going, but held off on the red as if that would help keep my emotional wall strong and steady.

No such luck. If things are not perfectly balanced, or there are bare spots, I didn’t see them through my tears.

My daughters are adults now, responsibly living in their own places and I probably should give them some of these ornaments. Or maybe not.

It’s held up quite well, wouldn’t you agree?
Circa 1995, Evidence of my hair cutting fail.

Many women (okay, and fellas, too) decide to go full-on-decorator when their nest empties. It must all be fancy-schmancy, and fragile, and themed out, maybe even hand-blown imports from a land far away. With zero chance of a toddler invasion, it’s now safe to pull out the good stuff.

Yes, I need these ornaments!

What is the good stuff? The safe, color coordinated, designer ornaments that look as though they came right off of a Pinterest board? Expensive maybe, but not necessarily the good stuff.

Isn’t this just stunning?
And how fun is this?

The good stuff is knowing that there are lots of memories hanging on my tree. Coworkers that I miss, friends from years ago, and preschool handmade pieces that have survived only by a miracle.

I get it now. And if I weren’t saving all of my money for future goals, I’d run out and get my own version of decorator tree ornaments. My kids will all be here at some point to celebrate with me (okay, mid January will work), and they will appreciate all of the sentimentality on my tree.

I’d like to offer up a little poem…

Lights and ribbons and garland and such,
These do not cause the tears near as much,
As the small hand-print reindeer from Christmases long past,
The preschool sparkles disappear much too fast.
Enjoy your little ones and all their noise and mess,
For one day, you too will have to confess,
How much you miss those cherub-like faces,
And be thrilled for grand babies to take their places.
It’s perfectly fine to have a new fancy theme,
With decorator pieces and chosen color scheme.
Either way, let’s do our best to keep things festive and bright.
A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Whether you’re keeping old traditions or beginning new ones, may your season one of wonder and peace!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

See you real soon…

Winter, you win.

I’m about to hop on a plane to head back to Florida where all the cool and hip grandparents live. Obviously.

There are many other reasons to head home besides the frigid temps. None of them seem important though. But in attempting to swallow this giant lump of sadness in my throat, I’ll be logical and list them here for both of us.

1 – He is not my baby. He is my daughter’s baby, and she is well able to take excellent care of him. She is a natural and I’m beyond proud of her and her man already.

2 – Everyone needs their space. I need my own space to live, and they definitely need me to not be in their space any longer. And since a second home isn’t an option, it’s back to Florida I must go.

3 – I have another daughter. True, she is independent and can go for days without seeing me, but she is still my kid and I’ve missed her.

4 – I have a job. Not just any job, but one that I truly care about. Also, after working remotely, I realize it’s not the kind of job that can really be done from afar. It’s hard to “work” in a community when you’re not actually there.

5 – I need to take care of myself. While away, I basically ignored the yoga mat in my room, barely wrote, and ate garbage (my daughter has a sweet tooth, and I joined her indulgences). My self-care routine suffered a bit, and I know it’s not sustainable to continue without it.

These are all logical and mature and wise observations. But my heart is just breaking at the idea of not holding this one for 2 whole months. Ugh…

Countdown app has been activated!

We parted this morning without any tears, and so far I’ve (sort-of) been holding them at bay. I know he is in good hands, and everyone knows how to feed themselves and do the laundry and love on that baby.

I feel so very grateful that I have been able to be here for my girl and her man during their last few days pre-baby. And even more thankful to have been able to enjoy this adorable boy’s first eleven days in our world.

So here’s what I’m telling myself: Hang in there. Use Facetime. Find travel deals. Call often. Prioritize the relationship. Also, know what’s mine and what isn’t.

To all those who grandparent from a distance, what wisdom do you have for me? How do you manage? For real, I need to know!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Combat boots recommended.

Ten days ago, I hopped on a plane to be with my daughter and her man. I had gotten too antsy to remain 997 miles away from them and their baby bump. All signs were pointing to his imminent arrival, and I did not want to fret for another single second about getting there in time.

What transpired upon my arrival? Several days of waiting. But not waiting from a distance, waiting with them. Those final days of pregnancy are miserable (especially if you go beyond the due date!), and I was glad to help with the cooking and cleaning and shopping and laundry. I’ve spent more time on domestic chores in this span than I have in the past six months. I wish I was kidding.

The flight may have been considered by some to be premature, including me occasionally. I adjusted to living with a dog, sleeping on an air mattress, and living out of my suitcase. All these details were expected, and totally fine with me. I was helpful and generous and tried to stay out of their way.

And then a couple of days ago, labor began FOR REAL. This was also expected. Duh. People don’t stay pregnant forever.

Kelsey and Tyler. Aren’t they adorable?

But what I was sort of prepared for, was completely falling in love with this tiny precious human baby. My first grandchild. My child’s child. What in the actual ___? I realize I seem too young for this, but apparently looks are deceiving, because it’s all true. And here he is…

So fresh! So tiny! And may I just say, perfect?
The nurses know how to swaddle them like burritos!

Meet Ellix Morgan, born at 5:37pm on Wednesday, October 30. He weighed in at 7 lbs, 7 oz, and measured 19.5 inches long. Most people enjoy such stats. You’re welcome.

The name is nearly original. Tyler met someone with the name Elixander, and they both instantly loved it, and modified it to be their own version. The middle name, though? That’s what has completely done me in.

Background: I have two daughters, Kelsey and Morgan.

Maybe the choosing of her sister’s name, as his middle name, is not a big deal to others. But to me, the floodgates opened and I sobbed.

If we can ugly cry like Brittany, is it still ugly?

The entire time these two daughters were growing up, my prayers were that they would love one another in their adult years. There was plenty of evidence that divine intervention would be necessary. They fought with each other, and with me. They competed for time and attention. They argued about clothes and cars and anything else nearby. There were rough patches for sure, I wasn’t sure it would ever cease.

And now, here we are. One loving the another enough to use her name. Miracles do happen. The next generation seems to be starting off with as much love as a grandmother could ever hope for.

It seems like tissues would be appropriate. So what’s up with combat boots?

Because life brings challenges, and it can feel like an all-out war. Prioritizing relationships and keeping close family ties is not for wimps. Overcoming disagreements. Having healthy boundaries. Knowing when to speak up and when to shut up. Forgiving each other. Understanding and having compassion for ourselves and others. All of these things are difficult, but so worth the fight.

Here’s to a new generation of love, wonder and joy!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri, aka JoJo

Moving, Chapter 27

Maybe, perhaps, it could be that I have commitment issues.

I recently calculated out how many times I have changed my place of residency. It comes to twenty-seven. For real. The weird thing is that if when I find myself exaggerating, I often use the number twenty-seven. You know, like when I tell you how many red lights I hit on my way to your house (which is why I’m late), but it’s really only like five. It’s way more fun to say twenty-seven red lights. Maybe it has something to do with extra syllables when one is exaggerating. See?

It is not fun, however, when twenty-seven is the actual number of how many times I have physically relocated. Every last one of these moves has been as an adult, with a few cross country, and many were across town. My parents still live in the same exact house they bought when I was a wee babe (circa 1968). I lived there until I was eighteen, and I’ve been moving ever since.

Something always breaks, or gets bruised. Every single time.

What my family saw as stability, I saw as boredom. I couldn’t wait to live in other places, especially somewhere not cold, like Florida. I’m happy to say that I’ve been in Sarasota since 1996, so at least there’s that. Some stints have been on the longer, more respectable side, like five years in one place, and four in another, but this is my third move in as many years, and this spot is only mine for a year at most.

Some of the moves, probably half, involved a boyfriend or fiancee or a wedded relationship. I won’t bother to chronicle it all out for you (you’re welcome), but it’s safe to say I understand what propelled each move. Some moves were simply necessary, and some were fueled by desire. I know the next place will be a purchase, and the only name on the closing docs (and mortgage) will be mine. Oh, and probably the bank, too.

Back to the moving, I’m over it honestly.

It seems silly that I’m just now embarking on this home ownership goal, but that is my reality. I’ve been spending all my dollars on raising children and adventures and travel and college and braces and my soon-to-arrive grandson. So the timing hasn’t been right to even dream of it until now. With that, it is my goal, and this girl is getting after it.

One step at a time…

Where I am living is perfect – for now. It’s big enough for visitors, and cozy enough to feel like home. It’s peaceful and quiet and deer literally play in the front yard. It’s comfortably furnished, and all the maintenance is included, so I can just relax and unwind once I’m home. There are several options for my hammock, and it goes up tomorrow.

That is the hard part. Knowing that this location is temporary, when I am so ready to settle in. Do grandparents go through nesting too? Is that what this is about?

Update: Baby Grandson’s official due date is in just 2 weeks, so my goal, which was to be unpacked before his arrival, was met this weekend (yay me!) I will be ready to head north by the time her contractions take hold, which can be ANY DAY NOW!!!

Could she be any cuter?

And back to the moving…

When I buy my very own place, I will be able to paint whatever walls and colors I want. I will get to choose light fixtures and cabinet handles and I can plant things in the actual ground. I can hang wind chimes in the backyard oasis I plan to create. This actually frees me from fussing over every nook and cranny here.

But, first things first. My grandson will be here very soon, and my attention will be appropriately consumed! There will probably be a few pics, and maybe some gushing. Who am I kidding? There will absolutely be pictures and gushing . And you’ll want to see, right?

Of course you will.

It’s gotta be better than reading about endless moves!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

What’s in a name?

Do they have a name picked out? This is the number one question I’m getting these days. Of course I’m referring to my scheduled-to-arrive-in-four-weeks grandson.

Nope. Can’t tell ya. I’m sworn to secrecy. But I like it and anyways, it’s not my child to name. Thank goodness. I did that twice already, and I believe both children are named appropriately. I mean, no one rushed down to the courthouse on their 18th birthday to change the name I gave them. I’d call that success.

Photo credit http://www.sarasotaclerk.com

It got me to thinking about the whole ordeal around names. It’s a very critical responsibility. Especially because, the first thing I think when I hear a whacked-out name is, “What the @$&? was his/her mother thinking?” Mothers get blamed for everything, right out of the gate.

Family names, middle names and initials, and Jr’s, and III’s, and grandmother’s name, all these bear weight. Some names are off limits, based on our past experience of others. If there is a terrible ex lurking in your memory, the name is tainted forever more.

Another consideration is to predict the potential teasing that may occur with said potential name. Maybe it’s better these days, with teachers and parents becoming more sensitive to bullying and such. Maybe this generation of kids with unusual names are safer than we were.

My cousins called me Sherri Canary. I’m not yellow and I can’t sing, but my legs were skinny enough, so I guess it made sense. I didn’t love it, but it was better than Hairy Sherri or Scary Sherri or others they could have chosen.

One of my all time favorite muppets.

And spelling. Holy alphabet, this is another area that really counts. Some names are just easy. You know how spell them and pronounce them with little-to-no-room for error. Like James. Or Scott. Even Benjamin and Alexander with three syllables each are straightforward. Is it only girl names that go completely off the rails? Take a common girl name like Kayley…

Kayley, Kaley, Kailey, Kaleigh, Kaylie, Kailee, Caylee, Cailey, Cayley… see what I mean? My own name comes in a variety pack, and I really don’t care anymore, but it was a big deal when I was a kid. My own grandmother consistently added an “e” on my name, making it Sherrie. Sounds exactly the same, but I was hurt by this when I should have just been happy she remembered me at all. We’ll just consider this a clear sign that I’ve always been a little “extra”.

So much pressure, but then, our need to name things gives us plenty of practice. We name our pets – sometimes as children we have this great honor. I once had a dog named Pickles, inspired while grocery shopping with my mom, of course.

She looked like this, so adorable!

I have heard that men often bestow a name for their man parts (this could be an entire post, but no). We name houses. And boats. Heck, my car even has a name. She’s Rhonda the Honda. My friend has a sporty red SUV, and I suggested the name Ruby.

Need a car name? Read them here.

There’s far less pressure in naming an SUV than in naming a human baby that you bring into the world. This same baby could grow up and hate your guts over a terrible name (remember, it’s mom’s fault).

The one name, over which I have some measure of control, is my grandma name. Also, I should confess that my original name has been modified from Gigi to JoJo. It’s more original. Jo is my middle name, and I liked it so much I shared it with my daughter. I’m told it could change into whatever name the little guy can actually say, but I don’t buy it. He’s gonna learn how to say JoJo eventually.

Regardless of where you stand on names, it’s a fun and slightly grueling process to name your very own child. I’m excited for what they’ve chosen, and I’ll let them delight the world with the announcement when he arrives soon. In the meantime, how do you feel about the name you were given? Did you question your mother’s sanity? Does it carry on a family tradition?

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

We can’t wait to meet what’s-his-name.

Hi baby. I felt you in there squirming and doing backflips and kicking your momma in the ribs.

Loving on that baby belly!
Photo credit Kris Holman

I know you’re still growing and developing and all that important stuff. I know your mommy and daddy are busy preparing for your arrival. I know there are still seven weeks until your predicted birth date. I’m okay with that, but barely.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of hanging out with my beautifully pregnant daughter, her awesome man, my other daughter and her awesome man, and a ton of their friends. We threw an amazing coed baby shower. This included multiple trips to multiple stores, a weird balloon baby, a taco bar for forty people, and some really fun games.

It was spectacular and I loved every single minute, even the non-glamorous moments.

Photo credit Kris Holman
How beautiful is this?! And the gorgeous couple too…

I wasn’t expecting to feel so much excitement for you. But oh my, how ready my heart is for you to be here. It doesn’t matter what name is chosen, or if you have dark hair or blonde hair or no hair at all. You, little one, are already surrounded by so much love.

It’s so good to celebrate with friends!

We cannot wait to meet you!

In the meantime, if any of you have grand-parenting tips to share, let me have it. This is exciting new (and slightly terrifying) territory for all of us. We welcome your wisdom.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

How to become a Gigi

Everywhere I go, I am surrounded by people of all ages. I’m comfortable with this whether at work or school or wherever.

While some in my age bracket are grandparents, I never consider myself eligible for this category. The term grandparents has this “age-stigma” attached, doesn’t it? I tend to think of grandparents as, well, old.

Gotta love the all the facial hair

Perhaps it is time to redefine this term. Actually now is the ideal time to come up with something more hip and modern. Why, you ask?

Because it’s a club of which I will soon become a member.

Their response!
My response!

Yep, despite my youthful looks, energy and attitude, my eldest daughter is gonna have a BABY. It’s not like it’s completely bizarre, she’s in a committed, loving relationship. She’s a responsible adult who has been on her own for several years. And she is the exact same age that I was, when she came into the world.

*Note: I’m not sure this fact is at all reassuring. I’ll bet the other actual adults around me then, felt a bit like I do right now.

It seems like so long ago, and yesterday all at the same time. What in the actual world has happened? How is it that time deceives me like this?

No matter, if all goes well, and everyone stays healthy, this fall there will be a little one. Another generation coming along, and the warnings are hereby issued.

Warning #1: Grandma will NOT be my name. I’ll try for Gigi, but I am told the kid determines my actual grandma name. If you haven’t seen this before, it’s worth the watch.

Warning #2: I will be involved. Not like, move in with me and I’ll pay all of your bills, but definitely involved. Even though it looks like that wee one will be 1000 miles away for starters, that isn’t going to stop me.

Warning #3: The 1000 miles is in the direction of North. The self-imposed travel ban previously established from November 1 through May 1 is now lifted. Please send any winter clothing donations my way.

Warning #4: My daughter is now sharing her spotlight with whatever progeny she produces. This means there are still several more months for her to be front and center, and after that, it’s over. Her identity will be forever changed to ________’s mommy.

Warning #5: The focus of this blog will naturally shift with my imminent graduation in about 30 days (!!!), and now we have ideas for a new focus. I’ll bet you can guess. How many people transition from recent college graduate to grandparent in a span of a few months? I’ll have to look it up when finals are over.

Betty Reilly, who graduated with a Bachelor’s at age 89. Click here to be inspired!

So that’s a wrap for this bleary-eyed senior. It happens to be from all the studying, thank you very much.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri