Monthly Archives: January 2017

Ten Commandments for New Grandparents

More than 12 years ago, while eating out with our daughter and her husband, they informed us we would become grandparents the following spring.

I should have celebrated big time. After all, many grandma wannabes lock their children with spouses in guest rooms until they agree to produce offspring. I did not — not because I didn’t want to become a grandmother. I just planned to do it 100 years hence.

So I indulged in a few weeks of “But I don’t take Geritol.” Then I reacted like any grandma.

Now, after acquiring six grandchildren, I share the Ten Commandments for New Grandparents, based on what my husband and I have learned:

  • Commandment 1: When informed, thou shalt throw a New York City ticker-tape parade — unless thy children aren’t excited. In that case, distribute hugs, then throw a private ticker-tape parade.
  • Commandment 2: Thou shalt not demand to know the baby’s gender. Instead, use bribery. Offer a free college education early during the pregnancy, beating out the other set of grandparents. (Hint: Regardless of ultrasounds, you may exert your influence. For example, you can ensure a grandson’s birth by purchasing every little pink, ruffled dress within 50 miles.)
  • Commandment 3: Thou shalt express enthusiasm at thy children’s choice of names. Thou shalt not require them to name their child after you nor after Uncle Ferd, though your family has included a Ferd every generation the past 3,000 years. Instead, cheerfully enter into the family Bible the name of a video game warlord from the planet Pzorxx.
  • Commandment 4: When news of imminent birth reaches thee, thou shalt not assault the officer who stops thee for speeding. Thy new descendant does not need a convicted felon for a grandparent.
  • Commandment 5: Thou shalt enter labor and delivery only when asked. Then, thou shalt not point thy phone at the mother and tell her to smile.
  • Commandment 6: Thou shalt not mug visitors who dare suggest thy future Miss America is bald. See Commandment 4 regarding assaults.
  • Commandment 7: Thou shalt resist the urge to sterilize their family dog’s tongue.
  • Commandment 8: Thou shalt reassure the mother that newborn upchucking will not result in a reduced IQ.
  • Commandment 9: When events fall outside the other commandments, duct tape thy mouth — and that of thy spouse — shut. Then thou shalt cook, clean, and launder, bringing joy, gladness and clean underwear to their household.
  • Commandment 10: All of the days of thy life, thou shalt love, nurture, and pray for this grandchild. Then someday, with deep gratitude to God, hand these commandments over to thy children.

What commandments do you suggest make the new-grandparent list?














The Day the Appliances Died

One morning, when I shoved a mug of water into the microwave, it lit up like a firecracker.

Hubby came running. “Did you warm your car keys in the microwave again?”

I crept from under the table. “I just wanted some tea.”

He tentatively examined the microwave. “Whatever you did sent it to its Happy Heating Ground.”

“At least, it didn’t leave a crater.” Our son had shared scary dormitory stories of popcorn-popping microwave doom.

Too cheap to buy a new one, I considered repairs. We might even survive without one.


“How do I do this?” Hubby, holding his mug with deer-in-the-headlights uncertainty, dampened my optimism.

“Easy. Fill a teakettle, set it on a burner and boil until it yells.”

“Sounds barbaric.” He took a step back. “What’s a teakettle?”

I’d given ours away, so I showed him how to fill a little pan.

He said, “Microwaving is the only cooking I do.”

“Perhaps you should return to the simple life,” I said loftily.

“Sure.” A sudden smile broke through. “You’ll do all the cooking.”

Now that sounded barbaric.

But not so primitive as heating water to wash dishes. Our hot water heater, apparently mourning the microwave’s demise, wept all over our garage before gurgling its last.

The plumber came. Five hundred dollars later, he introduced us to an appliance that actually heated water. Accustomed to our decrepit one, I burned my hands whenever I turned on the faucet.

We reset the temperature. Problem solved. But the new microwave and I had issues.

“Someday, I’ll get the hang of this,” I tried to say. The ice bag on my tongue muffled my words.

“Too bad the owner’s manual is in Sanskrit,” my husband sympathized.

After a few trips to the burn unit, we adjusted. But then, the oven’s thermostat malfunctioned.

“Maybe it likes cornbread rare?” I said to Hubby.

The fridge, taking its cue, froze a dozen eggs and melted 27 boxes of popsicles I’d bought on sale. The icemaker swore as if in labor.

The repairman suggested Band-Aid possibilities, but didn’t pull punches with his diagnosis: at best, my stove and refrigerator had six months to live. All we could do was keep them comfortable. Keep them comfortable?

Feeling flatlined myself, I decided to self-resuscitate with enough French Roast to make me lift appliances.

But Mr. Coffee’s performance is weak. His coffee maker innards and mine both have seen better days.

Like all appliances, he won’t live forever, and the guarantee ran out ages ago.


But, praise Jesus, I will, and mine won’t.

When no more replacement parts are available, will you go to the Master Designer for a new you?

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Diary of the Christmas Fudge

December 16, 2016

My short—but sweet—life began as an on-sale bag of sugar.

Then the Fudge Monster decided to double her Christmas fudge output. Having bought one bag in November, she bought me in December.

She hasn’t found the November bag yet.

Perhaps it languishes where she stowed four boxes of Christmas cards, her mother-in-law’s present, and a missing gallon of egg nog — plus all that extra money she thought she’d stashed.

December 24, 2016 – Christmas Eve

Sadly, the Fudge Monster delayed making fudge until Christmas Eve … after stores closed.

No double batch.

The Fudge Monster wept.

But did she let a little senility stop her?


She considered borrowing from a neighbor. But six cups of sugar? On Christmas Eve?

So the Monster used me — the December bag — plus sugar salvaged from various bowls and a Cool Whip container she took camping last summer. Finally, she located a bag with cement-like contents probably bought when a Bush was president.

As she chipped sugar, her husband questioned her wisdom.

Thankfully, the Fudge Monster, wielding wooden spoons like a kitchen samurai, chased him out.

She hacked chocolate and pecans like firewood. She measured and boiled. The Monster stirred and stirred, finally pouring my smooth mixture into a buttered pan. She filled another. And another. Whoa, unlimited chocolate power!

If I solidified.

The Fudge Monster stuck in a spoon. It sank deep into my thin syrup.

Sixty seconds later, she checked again.

Thirty seconds.

I objected. Would she like someone poking to see if her core was solid?

The Monster called to Hubby: Did he think half our county would like chocolate sauce for Christmas?

From the safety of his locked truck, he answered, “Certainly, dear. Everyone needs a gallon or two.”

Later, she dared sample a corner.

Voilà! I am the best fudge she’d ever made!

Later that night, a gooey kitchen returned the Fudge Monster to reality. Even the toaster was glued to the counter.

With hair marshmallowed to her face, the Fudge Monster could have intimidated Bigfoot.

With 10 guests due within hours, she coat-hangered Hubby’s truck door and dragged him inside to help.

Together they whipped the kitchen into shape.

December 25, 2016 – Christmas Day

Their family arrived to celebrate and eat fudge.

Snarfing creamy, chocolaty chunks, the Monster was in such a magnanimous mood that, instead of hiding my extra pans under her bed, she sent fudge home with them.

And they say Christmas miracles don’t happen.

January, 2017

After Christmas, the Monster celebrated New Year’s Eve with fudge. New Year’s Day. Every single football game on TV. Her dryer’s completion of a perma-press cycle.

However, a January Judgment Day, when she finally mounted the bathroom scales exiled my remaining yumminess to the freezer. …

Until her dryer’s perma-press cycle buzzed once more.


What kind of Goodie Monster lives at your house every Christmas?

Seriously. We Can Stay Married.

“Will you take a picture?” I asked the young hotel clerk. “We’re celebrating our 42nd anniversary.”

Summoning a be-nice-to-the-old-people smile, he took one shot before escaping.

My husband is photogenic, but saying “cheese” automatically signals my eyes to close and my teeth to grin like a horse’s.

Had this clerk captured a decent image?

Well, put up a plaque! My eyes were open. Natural smiles lit our faces. The lobby’s glowing fireplace behind us exuded a lovely halo effect.

However …

My middle looked as if I’d swallowed the pool’s life preserver. “I must have put on a little weight this Christmas.”

My husband glanced at the photo and said …


This was the mark of a long-married man. A husband who answered, “Well, 30 dozen Christmas cookies will do it to ya,” would have died young.

From the beginning, Steve has proved exceptionally wise. As a newlywed, only once did he say, “Where’s the five dollars we had yesterday?”, “My mother doesn’t do it that way,” and “You know I don’t like my underwear dyed pink, right?”

However, I deserve credit, too. When he wanted his brown and black socks placed in separate drawers, toes pointing the same direction, I considered dyeing them all pink. Color problem solved, and they would match the underwear.

But I didn’t.

When he tap-tap-tappity-tapped research papers all night on his manual typewriter in our one-room apartment, I didn’t sign him up for a semester overseas. Or on Mars.

Instead, we learned together.

We discovered that no couple with a six-inch difference in leg length should ever, ever attempt couples’ jogging. That if one partner is lugging groceries to a third-story apartment, the other shouldn’t drop onto a sofa for a nap. That peanut butter and love sandwiches taste really good.

We learned that people could stay married.

Even if one partner orders healthy fish at a restaurant, and the other craves fried chicken.

Even if spouses share identical body temperatures only when one wears a space suit.

Even if one scrapes every ice crystal from the car (including tires), while the other thinks driving an igloo is fun.

People can stay married.

Even if their children take after the other’s side of the family … and produce flocks of grandchildren who do likewise.

Complications? Sure, but dozens of peanut butter and love sandwiches, eaten together, taste better than ever. And steak with candlelight, just he and me, isn’t bad, either.

Steve and I should have shared a few seasoned insights with that young clerk. Because he may someday learn—the oh-so-hard way—that his wife prefers her photos taken from the neck up.

What helpful, hard-earned hint can you share that helped you stay married?