Tag Archives: Grandchildren

A Swing Set Swinger

This girl is a swinger…

…and a slider…

…and a see sawer.

So when her grandmother (my wife, affectionately known as Mimi) mentioned that she needed to get a swing set for her own backyard, it was absolutely the most logical thing. Just her granddaddy (me), the person who routinely takes her to the Children’s Museum each week where she gets to play on these things indoors, never thought of it. But thanks to Grandmother’s forethought and initiative, this was remedied this past spring.

This box was delivered to my son’s house just before spring break when her parents would both be off from school. Rather than picking up my granddaughter for our usual Wednesday afternoon together at the Children’s Museum, I came over for the assembly process at my son’s house.

As we removed the pieces from the box, my granddaughter thought it was great fun to get in the middle of things, even though she had no clue as to what the final product would be. But this partially assembled slide seemed as good a place as any from which to watch the action unfold.

The first step was to assemble the cross bar from four separate pieces that had to be tightly screwed together. Interconnecting the first two, my son and I failed to notice that the bar had been engineered to have a top side and a bottom side. And wouldn’t you know, as luck would have it, the first two bars came together very tightly with one side up and one side down. This was due to my tendency not to read over the entire directions prior to assembly in spite of how instructions always say to do so (this was certainly not the first time I had had to dissemble something to reassemble if correctly). We labored over getting them separated for quite a while until my son came upon the idea of spraying some WD40 on them to get them separated. That worked well although our hands were slightly slippery after that.

From then on, we tried to pay close attention to the fine details in the directions where such helpful notes were highlighted. In a relatively short time, we had the frame assembled.

At this point, my granddaughter may have begun to recognize what her daddy and granddaddy were putting together with hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches.

To confirm her suspicions, we attached a couple of swings and quickly my granddaughter was ready to have some fun.

After that, we couldn’t put the rest of the swing set together fast enough.

Once we had assembled the two different gliders, we had enough swings for the whole family to swing on.

All that remained was the slide and the see saw.

And before we could even attach the slide to the frame of the swing set, my granddaughter was already climbing the ladder to slide down.

Playing on a see saw is one of my granddaughter’s favorite activities at the Children’s Museum, the spot she usually goes first as soon as we arrive. So when she realized she was getting one of those too, she jumped down on the yellow seat before I could even attach the fulcrum to the side frame. Trying as hard as I might, I could not attach it with her sitting on it.  When we lifted her off, she sadly burst into tears. So we had to finish as fast as we could so she could get back to her fun.

It ended up taking us about six hours to complete the swing set, just about the time the online reviews indicated it would take to assemble it, that is once you subtract the time it took us to separate the first two pieces. Fully assembled, the swing set was larger than any our kids had growing up. But Grandmother had wisely chosen one that all three of our grandkids could play on together at the same time when they were in town.

Since installing the swing set, our granddaughter has had literally hours of pleasure swinging in her own backyard. Now when I bring her home from Parent’s Day Out, one of the first things she does is head to the back door to go out and swing.

Now she just has to wait for her two cousins to come to town so all three can play together. And when they do, my wife will have realized her dream of seeing all three of our grandkids having a great time swinging together. What fun we have to look forward to.

Thanks Mimi!

Ready for Granddaddy Duty

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I’ve written before what a joy it is to be a granddaddy. With our oldest grandchild having turned two not long ago, I’ve had two full years of enjoyment. Although two of our three grandchildren live on the West coast, we still try to get to see them all as much as possible; even it means just using the modern wonder of FaceTime.

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I’ve told my wife on more than one occasion that I am just loving these years being grandparents. And becoming a grandparent has prompted me to want to retire sooner than I had originally planned. This way, I can spend more time with grandchildren and traveling to see grandchildren.

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Fortunately one of our granddaughters lives in town so we actually get to see her on a much more regular basis. But not just her, but all three of our grandchildren factored heavily into my decision last winter when I was looking to buy a new car.

I had been exploring a number of different possible cars to buy but I had certain criteria that I knew it had to meet. In addition to the now standard power options, I wanted advanced safety features (e.g., back up camera, blind-spot warning), leather interior, a manual transmission, and a sporty performance. I eventually narrowed it down to a choice between two cars: a Ford Mustang and a Subaru WRX.

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I test drove both and was most satisfied with the transmission and the sporty performance of each of them. But beyond just the higher safety rating of the WRX, its real advantage was it had 4-doors. Recalling back to the day when we had two infants/toddlers in car seats with a 2-door car, I knew I didn’t want to have to go through the extreme contortions necessary to put a child into a car seat in a 2-door car, especially since I would not be as limber as I was over thirty years ago. And while I already had three cars, all of them were 2-door models. So having 4-doors significantly tipped the balance in favor of the WRX.

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After taking delivery of my new car, the next step was to purchase a car seat. My first idea was to get an extra car seat that I would share with my son in his second car (they had a car seat that permanently stayed in their primary 4-door vehicle). But then having to transfer a car seat every time would not make for a fast or easy pick up, especially since his second car was one of my 2-door cars. So I went ahead and bought an additional car seat that could stay in my new car.

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So with 4-door car and car seat in hand, I was ready for granddaddy duty.

And that duty began in earnest this fall when our granddaughter’s parents both started back to college/graduate school. There were several times in their class schedules when they did not have child care. My wife, only working part-time was able to handle some of them. But the one day she had a conflict and could not cover was Wednesday. Fortunately, I was able to arrange an alternate work schedule with my boss that allowed me to be off every Wednesday afternoon.

So on my first Wednesday of granddaddy duty, I left work after lunch and hopped over to my son’s house, a short 5-minute drive from work. Having already had her nap and lunch, we jumped right into playing. We had a good time playing with all of her toys and reading a few books. But after more than an hour, it seemed we needed a change in venue. Since it was way too hot to go outside and play or to go for a walk, I decided to take her to one of our favorite places, the Children’s Museum. And with a car seat equipped 4-door car parked just outside, I knew we could easily make the trip.

We went straight to our favorite play area, a gated section only for children four and under. There she gravitated to some of her favorite toys.

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On this occasion, she took a particular interest in the airway wind pipe where you can insert a scarf or ball and watch it traverse through all the twisted piping and fly out the top.

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We also ran into the wife of one our kid’s best life-long friends who was there with her three boys. It was nice to catch up but also gave me a nice sense of being a parent (now grandparent) chatting with other adults all while our kids were having fun playing.

After two hours, it was time to head home. By the time her parents got back from their classes, I had fed and bathed our granddaughter. She was all ready for a little play time and cuddling with her parents before bedtime. As I walked out the door, I had a great feeling of our time together but also happiness with the knowledge that the next week, we’d get to do this again. In just a week, I’d report back for my granddaddy duty. Maybe if the heat broke, we’d get a chance to go to an outdoor park or even just a walk around the block. Whatever we worked out to do, I was confident it would be a fun granddaddy time together!

On Becoming a Granddaddy – One Year Anniversary

This week, I will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of becoming a granddaddy for the first time.

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Of course of even more significance, this means that our first grandchild, our grandson will be celebrating his first birthday. I wrote last year on how I learned that I had become a granddaddy so I won’t repeat myself. But as our grandson’s birthday approached, I realized that his birthday would always mark my anniversary of becoming a granddaddy. It is like I will be co-celebrating his birthday with him each year for the rest of our lives.

Although we won’t be able to be with our grandson on his birthday since he is our “long distance” grandchild, we were fortunate to get to celebrate his birthday about three weeks early when we were visiting my daughter’s in-laws over the 4th of July weekend.

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And with both sets of grandparents, along with his parents and one of his uncles singing “Happy Birthday”, we were able to wish him a happy one-year birthday.

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When I thought about this one-year milestone some more, I realized how appropriate it was that my daughter had her son to coincide with me becoming a granddaddy. For it is with my daughter that I have shared an anniversary of sorts each year on her birthday.

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Over three decades ago, my daughter was born five days after I started a new job. And although the company has been bought twice in my career there, I still work at the same location. So when I want to recall how long I have worked at this job, I simply have to remember how old my daughter is.

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Interestingly, my youngest son managed to perfectly match this anniversary theme.

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He became a father to his daughter, my first granddaughter exactly six months to the day after our grandson was born.

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So now that I have been a granddaddy for just about a year, what has it been like? Wonderful!

I’ve always heard that the best part about becoming a parent is becoming a grandparent and I must say my experience has validated that statement. After your kids are grown and you see small babies out in public, at least for a man, you don’t necessarily think too much about it. But when that small child is your grandchild, it makes all the difference in the world.

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You find that you make funny noises and faces to get them to smile or laugh.

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You enjoy holding them and giving them kisses.

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You enjoy playing with them, especially cars for me.

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And when it is their bedtime, you get to go home and sleep through the night knowing you won’t be woken in the night by little crying sounds.

Our grandparent situation is our grandson lives far away and so the daily interaction he has with my wife is via Face Time. But our granddaughter is local and so we see her much more frequently in person.

Recently in fact, we had the opportunity for our granddaughter, five-months old at the time, to get to spend several days with us while her parents vacationed in Florida.

It was our first sleepover for a grandchild.

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It started out early one Saturday morning with a less than easy departure for her parents, especially for her mom. We then loaded up all of the things we would need and drove to our home.

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We set up a place for our granddaughter to play and soon we were FaceTiming with our granddaughter’s aunt and her cousin.

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She got to go on two errands with me that first day, one to the farmer’s market to buy some salmon (since we planned on cooking out rather than dining out) and then a fun adventure to the “Once upon a child” store where we got some clothes and loaded up on shoes.

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And before dinner, we got to go for a stroll since the weather was so nice.

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And throughout the day, my wife and I diligently kept a log of activities so we would know when to expect she would want to eat again.

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By 7:30, we thought she was down for the night…

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…but turned out it was just a nap.

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Our son called from their vacation and told us she had been staying up until around 10:00 PM. That certainly explained the short nap. She did finally go to sleep for good at about 11:30 and slept until 5:30 in the morning, her usual wake up time.

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After a quick change of diaper, she and I were both ready for another day.

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Reflecting back over the year, I must say it has been blissful being a grandparent. It has been so much fun, it has caused me to want to accelerate my retirement plans so that I can spend even more time with our grandkids and their parents. And I look forward to the next exciting grand parenting event that will add even more to this anniversary.