Friday, July 29, 2016


When the boys were in their preteen and early teen years, Cory would take up their challenge to play “Around the World” at the basketball goal attached to our garage. Cory, a basketball player in his own right, played by the rules: you earned a win fair and square; no trophies for showing up here. Games involved wagers with imaginary money, and to this day, I think one of our sons owes Cory several million basketball bucks.
When our older son was a young teen, the inevitable happened. He beat his dad and documented the hard won victory with a celebratory lap around the outside of the house. During our last visit with our grandsons, Cory shared that story with our grandsons. Dillon, not yet a teen, and Parker, four years younger, had been playing “Around the World” with Pops in their driveway for several years, but now the stakes were higher. Pops had dangled a victory lap in front of them.
Shortly thereafter, that very same day, I heard a squeaky preadolescent boy’s voice as he made his first  victory lap around his house. Dillon had bested Pops and, in his best imitation of his own dad’s celebration thirty years earlier, was letting the world know that the baton had been passed.

Thirty years: the blink of an eye!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Unexpected Opportunities

I met Dillon, my first grandchild, when he was just a week old. As we snuggled back to sleep together in the recliner after a 3 a.m. feeding, we came to an agreement: I would try to help him embrace the values passed down through the generations in our family and he would teach me how to be a grandmother. In the past twelve years I’ve watched him begin to live out the family values he’s seen modeled at his home and ours: respect for self and others, trustworthiness and honesty, the rewards of hard work, compassion for and service to those less fortunate, appreciation for the environment, and the importance of using good manners.

In return, as we’ve played games and hiked and camped and cooked together he has taught me so many great things about being a grandmother. To name just a few, I’ve learned that gingerbread houses don’t have to be architecturally perfect; it’s all about the icing and candy. If you really want to play basketball or football, ask Pops. Kids sometimes have a better eye for pictures than grandmothers. You’re never too old to try a zip line. Back to school shopping and enjoying a day at Silver Beach are perfect ways to celebrate the end of summer. Boys like to get daily, goofy email jokes to share with friends at camp. And, finally, being asked to write a paragraph for your twelve year old grandson’s autobiography opens the door wide to tell him how much he’s loved without having to subject him to embarrassing hugs and kisses.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A New Generation of Warrior Women

This uncharacteristic post honors the emerging and growing number of warrior women in each of our lives.  They are the brave women across all generations that include our sisters, mothers, daughters, friends, and granddaughters. They have unexpectedly come face to face with the toughest of life situations and are making hard decisions for themselves and their families. Even though illness, loss, or separation try to define them, these brave warriors are fighting back.

I named my blog Generations and the Illusive Lines That Define Them. I stand corrected. In this case the line that separates me from the warriors is clear: they are the fighters and I am a humble observer.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Imprinting is for Moms, Too

"He's just like his dad!" But what about his mother? It seems awkward to say a boy is just like his mother, so are the mothers of sons destined to have their genetic contributions go unrecognized?

Our younger grandson, ready to start kindergarten, has taken to diving just like his mother, a gymnast and diver. Perhaps Mimi and Pa have shared stories and pictures of Dia in her younger years. Or maybe Dia has videos from competitions that Parker has seen. Or maybe his talent emerges with a gentle nudge from his mother's genes. I'll acknowledge that, as the younger brother, he has to be more daring to play with the big boys, but his skill is the result of more than just reckless courage. No big belly smackers for him. He prepares, jumps, extends, and goes. 

Now where did a 5 year old get that? I say proudly "He's just like his mother!" Thanks, Dia.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Just Do It ...Right!

Nike almost got it right with their Just Do It slogan, but in my opinion, just doing it is not enough. Let's do it right!

As Camp Plainfield 2013 comes to a close, I recall a time 30 years ago when I watched my husband and our sons delve deeply into the time honored tradition of passing the torch.  Today, at 9 years old, our grandson, Dillon is eager to learn and try and do all the chores that accompany responsible adulthood. He wants to embrace Nike's advice and Just Do It! Good for him. It's his time.

Whether it's fixing bicycles or mowing the yard for the first time, adults do eager children, like Dillon, a disservice if they don't teach them to Just Do It Right! The first lessons are always the hardest. Pops pointed out missed spots on the grass, safety precautions for using tools, and all the other basics that provide an important foundation for developing a strong work ethic.

Like most overnight camps, Camp Plainfield is filled with fun activities and one on one time with adults who care enough to call children on cut corners or emerging bad habits. And children get that, despite the momentary inconvenience of do overs the first time around.

Dillon will puff his chest out a little farther as he tells his buddies about mowing the yard, using wood burning tools, and fixing bicycles. He knows how to do it right!

In another four years, younger brother Parker will be the main character in these pictures and he'll learn to do it right. It will be time for him to carry the torch.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


How do we go about selecting a grandparent persona? It seems logical that we would bring our best parenting strategies to the table, but Cory and I want to be selective about the ways we interact with our grandsons. We want to be remembered around the family dining table years from now through fun stories and traditions of our own as grandparents.

Our boys with their Grandma, Madge
Cory was going on a trip this week, so I took out his mother's famous molasses cookie recipe to make his favorite cookies to take on the road. As I looked at her handwriting, I decided we should be more like his mother when it came to having a special relationship with grandchildren. Madge Shaffer was highly educated in the Greek and Latin classics, yet she adapted to the changing times as she aged, without compromising what was important. She loved to make banana bread, apple dumplings, and molasses cookies for the boys and was current on the things that mattered.

She would never have texted in abbreviated form, gotten a tattoo, pierced anything, or used the current vernacular to be popular with the grandchildren. She didn't need to. She had the grandma persona thing down...homemade bread, jams, cookies, hand written notes, and a genuine interest in the lives of her grandchildren.

Fortunately, my son and daughter-in-law have established a very clear foundation with respect to behavior and manners, and Cory and I continue to model the traditions and upbringing that we passed to our sons, and they to theirs. With all of that hard work already in place, I think we're due some wiggle room to establish some Pops' house rules. For example, here it's okay to drink the milk or last of the melted ice cream from the bottom of the bowl like Pops does. The boys understand that's only okay here, and they share a little moment with Pops when they lift their bowls. So, we'll continue paying more than lip service to the values passed to us, while we let the boys share a quick wink over a tipped up bowl of ice cream. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Return to Childhood

I spent the weekend with our son's family and found myself returning to the spring days I remember from the 1950s. Electronic devices were left behind as we explored the walking trails at Elcona Country Club in Bristol, IN.  The boys ran and explored the five mile trail system which is part of the partnership our son, Greg, has established with the Audubon Society in his role as Golf Course Superintendent.

Greg encourages club members to use the trails all year for sledding, cross country skiing, running, and hiking. He posts maps and more information on his blog, Rub of the Green, where members get updates on efforts being made at Elcona Country Club to be responsible for and appreciative of the environment. Kudos to the superintendent and board at this country club for their forward thinking that allows current and future generations to enjoy timeless traditions on protected land.