Grandmotherhood · long distance parenting/grandparenting · Uncategorized · Winnie and Olive

Maga’s Magnificent Book Club: One way to be a long-distance grandma that makes a difference.

Sometimes I feel like I was born into the wrong era.  I long for “the family farm” where I live with my husband and probably more than one dog.  My kids all live just ‘down the road apiece’ with their families and they all gather in my kitchen every morning for coffee and a hot breakfast.  (I suppose that means I’d be cooking that breakfast, in which case I’d be handing out bowls for cereal.)  We’d all work together and tell stories all day and laugh.  The farm hands (not one of my kids impresses me as farm hand, but in this daydream, they all embrace their roles lovingly) saunter up to the main house at quittin’ time and come into the kitchen saying something like, “I’m so hungry I could eat the whole of Texas right now.”  (Someone said that in a southern accent, yet this fantasy farm is in Wisconsin.  It’s a little mixed up.)  We’d slap each others’ backs and sit down to some fabulous meal I’d have whipped up (or more likely picked up) and naturally, my grandchildren would be at my side, begging me to tell them about the good old days when I was a kid.

Problem is, in real life, none of my kids live down the road apiece and my three darling granddaughters live 3 states away.

When I go visit my daughter and her family, I love to drive through her neighborhood and pick out “my house.”  In THIS daydream, I live on the same street as Maria and her family and the kids come over on a regular basis.  I’m just a stone’s throw away so can help out whenever someone get’s sick or Maria needs to run somewhere and doesn’t want to haul all three girls.  Naturally, I’ve got their favorite snacks on hand and so coming to my house is as comfortable as being at their own home.

SKIIIIIIIIIIDDDDD.  OK, enough of this dreaming.  I consider myself pretty lucky to see them as much as I do, which is about every 6 to 8 weeks.  I dreamed up a little something (dreaming seems to come natural to me) that would help me be a more intentional grandma.  It comes from something I’ve loved ever since I was little . . . . . books.

And so, “Maga’s Magnificent Book Club” was born.


I think if you love books, and are a good reader, learning anything else is just that much easier.  I want my girls to love reading as I have.  So, here’s what I did!

  • I bought two three-ringed binders, one for Winnie and one for Olive
  • I also bought a bunch of awesome prizes at the dollar store and made a Treasure Box
  • I made up a “book report form” – – one that was fun and easy for little readers
  • Of course there are rules and rewards
  •    inside-folder
  • And then a way to keep track of the books they’ve read (or have been read to them)my-checklist

And there you have it. Complete with blurry pictures.  I’m hoping that this might be a way for them to feel like I’m not three states away, but right there with them.

If anyone has any other grandparenting-from-afar ideas, I’m all ears!

Grandmotherhood · Winnie and Olive

Oh, Olive


Recently our daughter and her family came to visit us while Kevin and I are at our cabin in northern Wisconsin. (Just a refresher, Maria is married to Jared and they have three girls: Winnie – 5, Olive – 3 and Molly – 3 months.) It’s been a couple of years since they were here, so Winnie had some memories of the place, but not Olive, as she was just a baby on her last visit. Even though Olive has flown before she had an interesting perspective on the whole experience of traveling by airplane.
First of all, though, you’ve got to understand the two personalities of the two oldest girls. Winnie loves everyone and everything immediately and without reservation. She’ll tell you you’re beautiful and hug you and give her life for you as soon as she meets you. Maria has had to make up stories about how ant poison doesn’t actually kill the ants . . . (“They just taste it and they don’t like it so they move on to someone else’s house”) . . . because, not only does she love every person on the planet, she also loves and cares for every animal as well. Bugs must be rescued and set free rather than squashed. And let’s also include inanimate objects in her realm of lovable things, ‘cuz . . . . oh, who knows why, just because she has so much love to give it extends to anything that gets in her path, living or non.
Now, Olive, on the other hand, isn’t so free with her affections. You have to earn her love and trust and, by gum, she’ll make you earn it. While Winnie is busy loving the world and attempting to either go home with strangers or invite them all over to play at her house, Olive is close to her Mom’s side eyeballing that same stranger and will gladly tell him/her to “not look at her.” She has no trouble speaking her mind, a quality I wish I had honed better in my 54 years. But a 3-year-old doesn’t have much tact, so it often comes across as quite blunt, which can cause her sweet, kind mother to roll her eyes on many an occasion and say, “Oh, Olive.”
So, on with the story, now that you know these girls a little better. Olive knew she was “going to Maga & Grandpa’s cabin” when she got on a plane a couple of weeks ago. Well, imagine it from a 3 year old’s point of view. She’s going to the cabin. Her whole family is on the plane going to the cabin. There are a lot more people on that same plane, which she knows is taking her to the cabin. She thought EVERYONE on the plane was going to the cabin! Mortified at the thought of so many people she didn’t know from Adam going with her, was a horrible predicament. When she inquired about this, Maria reassured her these folks were, indeed, not all going to the same place as she was. Whew. Well, in perfect Olive form, she took in upon herself to inform the other travelers that they were NOT going to the cabin. Complete with pointed finger and furrowed brow. Just in case there was any question. I’m picturing this scenario: Olive: “YOU’RE not going to the cabin!” Random traveler: (Hands up in a “don’t shoot” position) Nope. I’m not going anywhere NEAR the cabin! Please, can I just get past you? I promise I won’t even look at you!” Olive stares him down for a second, lowers her finger and says, “Move along.” Oh, Olive.
I have to add this, though: When Olive loves you, she’s all in. If you pass inspection and are allowed into her inner circle, you are privy to one of the sweetest people on earth. The last night they were with us, we were all playing outside in the yard. Olive’s shoe came off and I was helping her get it back on. I knelt down in the grass and she wrapped her arms around me, laying her cheek on the top of my head, and she said in a sweet voice, “You’re my great Maga.” Skiiiiiiiiiiiiiid!! Stop. Right. There. My internal organs turned completely to mush and I was in hog heaven. Her hugs and smiles may not be as prevalent as her older sister’s but man, they pack a punch! They can leave a grandma breathless and saying with a sigh, “Oh, Olive.”

Olive roasting marshmallows