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Friday, December 28, 2012

Visiting My Father

My father's birthday is December 30th.  He was the youngest in the old year/ not quite in the new. My father was a tall man, a big man, solid not fat.  He loved to tell jokes, and was a story teller, and a writer.  He was handsome. I visit him on his birthday.  Some winters snow covers the ground for weeks and months.  I cannot get to the cemetery, even though it is only twenty minutes from my house.  My father would not mind, he would say, " come when you can".

For a big man his grave is small.  He has bushes planted on it, I think he would have preferred flowers.  My father mowed and planted until he couldn't.  He planted small trees and shrubs because he said they would continue after he was gone, and they did.

My father was a wonderful Grandpa. He studied with the kids for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.  He baby sat when I  returned to work.  He bought unusual gifts.  The Hess trucks were a seasonal favorite. In some ways my dad was very modern.  He loved computers, microwaves and gadgets.  Coupons were a source of great delight/ now I channel his passion and do couponing too.  In other ways my father was old fashioned.  He did not believe in liberated women. He enjoyed his food and never worried about the negative health implications of his diet.  He loved frankfurters, lasagna, hot peppers, and all fried food.  Fancy restaurants confused him because he believed portions should be large and you should feel stuffed after a good meal.

My father went to bed early and woke at four to read and do paper work.  He had a head for math and languages, a talent I did not inherit.  He and my mother were married for  a very long time. Family, small and extended were very important to him.  He taught me about football and explained many PSU games to me.  My father kept clothes forever. He had jackets I saw Desi Arnez wear on the " I Love Lucy Show".  My father was a soldier, and a prisoner of war, and a smoker.  The smoking killed him.  He died after a three week illness.  Deaths are shocking...  I will be going to the cemetery soon to tell my father about my grand baby, and the one on the way. I miss you, daddy.  Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy, Merry, Joyful, Cheers...

Teachers know all of the holidays.  Especially early childhood teachers. Each holiday, and there are many, I prepared worksheets, poems, and an art project or two, or twelve... and sometimes we cooked a traditional dish. Eating projects were always a favorite.  For years my curriculum revolved around ground hogs, black cats, eggs, and  revisiting dead Presidents.  Our family vacations were decided by Dr. King and Good Friday.  Retired now, I have to admit I miss it all.

Some years it was not so simple. One memorable parent thought my Halloween projects were spreading the devil's word.  I was careful not too wear  too much black eyeliner, or dark capes. I was the "Nightmare On  Elm Street" and I was part of the plot. Scary stuff.

The other event caused by the  holidays,  was the annual assembly programs. These are minor Broadway productions involving 50-75 five year olds.  I found myself turning into Gypsy's stage mother Rose, as I screamed " Sing Out Louise , Jamel,  Shemeca".   With Mr Zigfield in the audience casting for his next show... We had scripts, stage decorations, and after parties. I wonder if any of my budding singers and dancers ever made it to show biz? I wonder of they even remember?

I no longer celebrate the holidays in school. This year, I did read the precious baby "P" some cute Chanukah  books.  We celebrated with the BIG family, lite candles, and ate potato pancakes, opened presents, admired babies, congratulated our newest couple, and cried with cousins still feeling the effects and wrath of "Sandy". We all survived another year, and holiday season.

I want to wish you all a "HAPPY HAPPY", whatever holiday you may celebrate.  As I  told the  kindergatners holiday is about family, food, gifts and lights.

                                                                              Feel Well
                                                                              Look  Good
                                                                              Be Healthy
                                                                              Be Happy                
                              Love  Judy

Friday, December 21, 2012

Love In The Afternoon, After The Nap, And The Pills

G.G. and I recently returned from a brief trip to Florida. Let's face it, Florida is different. The people all say hello to you. The supermarkets offer more service, and love is in the air.  Maybe it's the warm temperatures, or extra hours of sunshine, or flowers blooming in December?

My mother introduced me to her neighbor Lou. He was looking for female companionship. Just a nice lady to keep him company. He was cute, in a very senior way. He was from Brooklyn originally, and seemed genuinely happy to meet other New Yorkers, especially if they were women. Lou, I am guessing was well into his 80's.  He  had decided G.G. was the perfect woman for him. My mother, NOT INTERESTED!  Really not amused by him at all.

He complained that as hard as he tried to initiate a friendship with my mother she remained uninterested. " Who needs another old person to take care of, too much responsibility". " I will become the topic of conversation in this development", "NO WAY", says G.G. ! The more she ignored, the more desirable she became. Poor Lou, spilling his heart out to me... unrequited love is a drag.  He took a deep breath and said--- Well, if your mother is not interested are you?


Monday, December 17, 2012

He Called Me Miss Instead Of Ma'am

Before we became grandparents, we would go to the movies, and our prematurely grey haired friend would get a senior discount. As I recall, he was insulted. We were not seniors yet, but due to his hair color he was. It is important to note that the average age of the cashier, at the ticket booth is 17.  At 17,  I was told never to trust anyone over 30. The young see anyone their parents age , or better as old.

As ticket prices have climbed, so have our wrinkles, and attitudes. I look for comfort in dressing for a movie. Sweats instead of heels and lots of make-up. I guess we don't look young, anymore. I am resigned to Ma'ams from everybody.

When I was teaching age was a great advantage. It was not helpful when I had to stand up , after sitting on the floor with my kindergarteners., but it was an advantage when I was giving advise to young teachers. It helped when I was talking to little children, and bonding with grandparents who were now reluctant caretakers for their grandchildren. I liked the wisdom, and experience age brought. At least the perception of wisdom.

I recently took a flight from Kennedy airport to Fort Lauderdale, with my mother. The young handsome steward called me "Miss". and asked if I needed anything? I was certain he was talking to some low jeaned, hair streaked honey, but there were none in sight. Next our driver, in Florida called me Miss. I can only guess in Florida it takes a lot longer to be considered old, then it does in N.Y.

There is still one place I am not a senior. My husband bought me a "senior" ticket on the Long Island Railroad. The conductor, looked at the ticket and asked me to show my medicare  card. Happily, I did not have one yet. I guess I looked too young to pass as a senior....

Another compliment I think, but he still called me Ma'am.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Don't Play In The Border's Room

Grandmother's today wear designer clothes, spanx, and beautiful shoes. They drive sports cars, have interesting careers, and share clothes with their children, and sometimes grandchildren. The gyms and pilati studios cater to the "mature" woman. Sixty is the new fifty, and we would much rather be forty. It was not always this way. My grandparents were all Russian immigrants. I cannot remember either of my grandmothers wearing or owning pants. We visited  my father's family every other weekend. They lived in the Bronx, a few blocks from my aunt and cousins. My grandmother was a buxom woman, not fat but shapely. She had long hair, and she was stern.

They lived in a large beautiful apartment. The front room had a picture of my father, as a baby naked on a fuzzy carpet. The next room was the kitchen. Like all my relatives, my grandmother, my Bubbe was cooking. Since we came on the weekend there was chicken soup with rice, and boiled chicken. There were other dishes but it is the chicken I remember. Children ate in the kitchen. Sometimes my three New Jersey cousins would visit. It was a treat, I loved to see them, and I still do. Opposite the kitchen was the parlor. There were ornate wooden doors. It was a formal room. You sat on high backed chairs, and drank tea from glasses, Russian style. It was always neat, that is the room adults had conversations. I had to sit alone and listen if my cousins were not around.

My grandparents had a large bedroom. Heavy wood furniture a jewelry box, and a full length mirror. The last room was the most interesting, It was the Border's room. The Border was a single man who rented a bedroom in my grandparents apartment. The door of his room was always closed. When he came in he was formally introduced to the company. He addressed my grandparents as "Mr. and Mrs. He wore a hat, a dark suit and overcoat, and carried a cane. To my child's eye he was Charlie Chaplain, but not funny. He was "The Border".  You did not play in the Borders room!

My cousins and I played a game called hide the bobby pin. You got clues whether you were hot or cold to finding it. You know where we liked to play this game... Don't play in the Borders room... bellowed my grandmother.  The room was very sparse. These were the days before television, and my grandparents had the radio. Don't play in the Borders room...

My grandmother passed away. My grandfather moved to another apartment, and had a lady friend. The neighborhood became dangerous, and gangs took over the blocks. What happened to the Border? Do you think there are children finding bobby pins in tiny nooks in the Borders room in the Bronx?  Don't play in the Borders room.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Grammy The FaceBook Voyeur

I could barely read email when I was hired for a very prestigious job that required strong computer skills. I did not have them. I adapted the best I could. I lacked the formal training my younger coworkers had. I got by, I made due. I am now retired and I still spend too much time on the computer. Somethings I understand, others... I never will.

I found myself getting messages to "friend" people on Facebook. I came to learn EVERYBODY goes on Facebook.  It is a great resource for finding college, and school friends, reminders for birthdays, and most important learning family updates, through words and pictures.

We are a society of voyeurs. We want to know what our favorite celebrities wear, eat, and who they date. In the theory of our own "15 minutes of fame",  we can all become celebrities. You can post pictures of yourself, your friends and family..  You can discuss current events, who you are voting for, and who you sleep with. You can friend one person or thousands.

My families post pictures that are old and new. They share special events, good news and sad news. I get to see what the assorted  ex's are doing, and who they are doing it with. Good Grief! I think this all might be to civilized for this Grammy. I bought some lovely craft items from Etsy, now I have new Facebook friends in Minn. and California. I connected with a childhood school friend in Atlanta. They send me " fortune cookies" and I read about their lives. They have nice lives.

I have to admit I like to wish people happy birthday, and acknowledge cute baby pictures by pressing a  "like"  button. I am not comfortable with this Facebook world, but have not canceled, or deleted or refused a request yet. Am I alone on these feelings?  Grammy the voyeur.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Off To The Toy Store, What to Buy The Grandchildren?

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I used to own an educational toy business. It was many years ago, when the world was new and nobody had computers. I would go to the NYC toy fair, and find great reasonably priced toys. I carried a line of puppets, games, dolls, books. I had wooden puzzles, hand made trucks from Rumania, and manipulatives to promote dexterity and creative thinking. It was a happy business.

I explained the toys and made recommendations about age and use. My vendors were small businesses too, many worked from their homes, like I did. We would form relationships, and trust. I thought about restarting my business since so many of my friends are now grandparents, and are lost in the mystery of gift giving. It seemed like a good idea... It was not. If you want computer learning toys there are many. If you want the kind of educational toys I sold, good luck. Remember when children sat quietly and just played with toys?

I bought the baby a ring sorting toy and a Jack in the Box. It paled in comparison to the IPAD and video games. I went searching for the toys I used to sell, alas if they exist they are sold by the big chains, not me. It was depressing. Then I found "organic toys". Vegetable dyed, no nails no glue, beautiful, wonderful, unbelievably expensive... and not very interesting. So what did I buy for baby "P" this year? Her parents requested music classes.  Hmmm...another industry gone. Mom's help me out here any good ideas?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pets Need Grandparents Too

I always think of my dog Stormy as my late in life child, or my grandpup. He and I look very much alike, especially when I need to have my hair recolored. We are both grey with some black and white mixed in. He enjoys cuddling on the couch, watching TV and anything I eat, is fine snacking for him. Stormy enjoys a good nap with me. My friends are his friends. I will never have to pay for college, cars,  weddings,  or graduations. Stormy loves and protects me. I can buy him presents, toys and treats. He is never disappointed or unhappy with my choices. I can be the most indulgent grandparent. I answer only to the vet, and hopefully that is at his yearly check up.

This is my first experience as a dog owner. Allergies, expense, inconvenience, always prevented me from buying a pet. I did buy the kids newts ( Aragon is now 7 years old) frogs, turtles, fish but that was for them, Stormy is mine. I bought Stormy during a sad time in my life. My father had died suddenly, I lost a job I loved, and I had a serious flood in my basement. I felt lost, without direction, and questioned my identity. My friend CCC the animal lover, suggested a dog.  My husband suggested a shrink. Stormy was exactly what this Grammy needed. It took Grandpa a little longer. Through Stormy I met great neighbors who provided parenting advise and support. Stormy is a great grandpup. If you grandparent cats, dogs or other, he is the child who never grows up, like us he will only grow old.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Baby Calls You What?

This blog is about a problem, so delightfull and happy a delema  I had to share. What is your grandparent name? I have a friend who was a very young mother (17) and a very young grandmother. She always felt she was too young, and too sexy for the role. She loved the grandchildren dearly, but just did not like the title that came with it ." Grandmother" evoked pictures of orthopedic shoes, and housecoats for her. Her solution, she had the grand kids call her Honey. The world was happy again.

I learned grandparents are called by a variety of names. Some names get invented because the kids cannot pronounce Grandma and Grandpa. My niece and nephew called my in laws Grammas and Grampas, and it was adorable. Bubbe, Zehda, Pops Poppa, Nana Nanny, have been around for ages. Opa, Oma, Yia Yia and Noona are ethnic favorites.

I chose Grammy, I thought it was cute and fun. My mother is G.G. for great grandmother. I know Grams , Granny, Mom Mom, Gramps, Pa, Grampop. There is always "Sugar" for those who give the most, sweetness. Let's face it, what is important is not what they call you, but that they call. What is your favorite grandparent name?

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Soup Ate The Spoon

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I have been cooking a lot of soup. It is cold in New York. I bought a wonderful slow cooker, and beautiful new red pot...and I  cook soup. While I stand stirring, with my long wooden spoon, I remembered a generational story about my great Aunt Dora, my grandmother's sister. She was the roundest, noisiest, best cook in the family. Her apartment always exploded with cousins, confusion and laughter. Dora was in the kitchen, cooking, giving orders to the other women. I loved to visit this house. I would see my cousins,and eat great food. Being an only child, I loved the mischief and fun we had there.
The best of the dishes was Aunt Dora's thick and spicy vegetable soup. It was made in a giant pot, because people were always dropping by. You could smell the soup down the hall, probably in the elevator as well. My cousins and I were sent to the bedrooms to play and told STAY OUT OF THE KITCHEN. We would try to sneak back into the kitchen to steal food. My Aunt would wave the wooden spoon and swat the closest child, while screaming in several languages.

The game was - how to sneak into the kitchen. The problem - how to get the adults out of the kitchen? A plot was hatched...the game afoot. The youngest cousin Mark, started to scream and cry help. The adults dropped everything and ran into the bedroom to save Mark. Success... we were in the kitchen. Sharon the gutsy cousin climbed on a chair and tried to stir the soup with the big wooden spoon. As the woman returned with Mark, Sharon dropped the spoon in the pot, and she watched it sink to the bottom.

Clearly the soup ate the spoon. We all ate the soup that night. We had too. Were we eating wood? I did not enjoy the soup much that night. Nothing was ever mentioned about the missing wooden spoon/ or the dangerous spoon eating soup. Fifty plus years later I am the Grammy, I hope my grandchildren will love my soups. Spoon soup anyone?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Art of the Worry

I remember a fellow teacher asking about my college age children. You are so lucky, they are not home, you don't have to worry about them...There is general worrying and specific worrying. Grandma's worries are like that.  If you live with children or are the primary care takers you get specific worries. Did they eat today, are they dressed warm enough? Can I manage my errands around their naps? If you are a visiting grandparent you can only worry about what you see, or what you are told. I think of these as worldly worries.

What are worldly worries? Well I could worry about what college my darling P will attend, or how the bill of a million dollars a semester,  will be paid for. Since this worry is almost two decades away, it is not that productive a topic. What do other grandparents worry about? It seems my friends have a constant source of topics. Grandparents are concerned with discipline in the home, too much, too little, too new wave. Are the grandchildren toilet trained? too may presents, not the right presents, spoiled children, deprived children, biting???

Why so much worry? I think these thoughts form a mental and emotional connection to the generations. It makes us feel closer to loving and caring for/ a connection...Is any of this productive? Yes if you, like me, are trying out for a spot on the next Olympic worry team. I think I will have a lot of competition.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Folklore Cures and Urban Legends - but do they work?

It is cold and flu season. Every family has their own special treasure chest of cures, and remedies. They are passed through the families,  as old as the ages. Most are like chicken soup and honey for colds. Universal, tried and true. Some not so common. When couples make a new home together they bring their family cures and belief systems.

What YOU think is a perfectly normal and plausable cure, is strange and odd to someone else. I offer our coke syrup ( cure for vomiting). You would go to the neighborhood luncheonette ( what's a luncheonette) and buy coke syrup. No it is not a drug.! Now, we substitute flat cola. You drink 1 teaspoon of soda every 5 minutes for 1 hour. If you vomit you begin again. At the end of the hour you are cured.

The Rock Candy Cure

Each time my son had a cough my mother in law broght over Rock Candy. It is white and hard and pointy. My son never had candy, or gum and very little sugar before he started school. You can imagine not MY favorite cure. Interestingly my friend tells me her grandmother in Germany would carve out a white radish, and added pieces of rock candy, and made a potent radish juice, used for coughs. It was a very popular and successful remedy.

Lastly I would like to offer the perfect meal for sick children, fussy eaters of the world, and pregnant quessy girls. CCCC this one honors you!  Cherrios, or fruit loops, sometimes worn as a necklace, or bracelet, and ices for dessert. Offer your beloved family cures very quietly. Got any good ones to share?

Monday, November 5, 2012

My disclaimer

I have a disclaimer, I do not spell well. It's a problem. You will see errors. I apologize in advance. My typing ...fair. That is why I taught kindergarten and not High School English. Also if you would like to comment or post and I hope you do, mail it to me at I will add it to the blog.

I want to welcome all new grandparents to the best club in the world, and your new job title "observer". I do not say this sarcastically or with a hint of regret. The new parents ARE IN CHARGE. and if you are lucky like I am, you will be relieved to see, everything is going to be fine.

When our darling baby P arrived I was flooded with memories of my own children's births. We received calls, emails, cards and even grandparent gifts. Everybody wanted to hear every detail, and wish congratulations to the whole family, Most of my friends knew my son his entire life-multigenerations are beautiful. The birth was especially wonderful because it made my mother a G.G. great gandmother. As soon as we looked at the precious baby I realized things have changed. The girls have new philosophies, different baby products, and techniques. I learned what swaddling was, and I learned about breast feeding. Welcome to your new role as observer. In fact if you would like to take charge, I suggest you buy a puppy. Mine is named Stormy.

Being the observer is a good thing, just another new role in life. Believe that the new parents are knowledgable and wise. They love their children unconditionally and children are very resilient. Voice all your concerns to me, and your friends. Everything is going to be great. Stormy is doing very well!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Welcome to Grammie Ramblings!

When there is no power, no computer, no T.V., telephone or distractions, it is clear to me, it is time to start my Grandparent Blog. This blog is for grandparents, and all the people who are in love with the little ones. I want this blog to be positive, funny, uplifting and a helpful account of the magic that is grandparenting.  There are new and exciting ideas, new terminology, in the field of child development. I would love to have company as we try to learn what is going on out there. I hope to have lots of guest contributors, my friends and family are great parents and I know they work hard to be even better grandparents. All our experiences are unique yet share the same goals. I hope all the different voices are valuable, and you find a few that speak to you.

This blog will not be critical, no insults, accusations, she said, he said...This is not the blog to air the family dirty laundry, lets be positive. But we are sympathetic, it is easy to be misunderstood, and not heard.  It is hard to be an observer after we all were in charge not so many years ago.

I hope you find the stories and ancedotals funny, and truthful. Please tell your friends, support the sight, and enjoy. Tell me what you think, Tell me about the topics you want to hear about. Talk to me!                                                                      

Love Grammy Judy