Tag Archives: multigenerational vacation

Reflections on summer travel and fun – multigenerational style

When Friday came around, I was absolutely thrilled!

Hubby was back from work travel, my daughter was heading to a sleepover, my mother-in-law was going for a night on the town, I had a dinner date with a great girlfriend, and I was actually looking forward to tackling my mega home-chore list.

(Oh, the little guy was hanging out with hubby on Friday – boys’ night!)

When Saturday morning came around, it was raining a bit and overcast. Forget about that mega home-chore list. It was time for some scrapbooking.

I love taking pictures. I enjoy sorting and categorizing them. I especially love putting the pictures in a scrapbook and retelling a story and reliving those fun moments. (This is a common interest my mother-in-law and I share.) And that’s how Saturday and today went as I scrapbooked.

Here is a glimpse into some of the summer memories of our multigenerational vacation time.

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Multigenerational Living – the family calendar

For any working parent, the issue of time is important. Time to wake up, get to work, make meetings, home for dinner, etc.

Well, for people who are retired, staying on a schedule can be less of an issue.  And when retired people live with those who work, this can be both a blessing and a challenge.

The blessing is that my retired parents have time on their hands to enjoy their grandkids, be present in the moment, and for the most part, not worry about where they need to be.  (Though they remain militant about the evening news – do all people over 65 have to hear every word Brian Williams utters starting at exactly 5:30?)

I marvel at and am grateful for the fact that my dad can sit in the playroom for hours with my son and work on his trains, and that my mom will sit with my daughter as she reads, or bakes with the kids and lets them hold the hand-mixer, measure ingredients, etc.

The challenge can occur when their less rigorous schedule comes in contact with our daily careers.

My husband and I have days that can be a little unpredictable and “on-the-fly” changes to our schedule can be tough on my parents.  Anyone with a 5 and 7 year old knows there is a certain amount of fluidity to any day, but my mom and dad, though they have all the time in the world, appreciate a certain predictability.  They like to know what to expect. (And I fully admit, this is a facet of MY parents, others might be far more free-wheeling.)  I can tell it frustrates them when I call and say I am running late – hell, it frustrates me, too.

The one thing that keeps me sane is our family calendar. I actually love printing it out and giving it to my dad because he will examine it thoroughly and ask questions about deviations to the schedule – “should we get the kids dinner this night?” or “your mom has a doctor’s appt this day so we can’t pick up the kids from school” or “really – you are traveling to the upper peninsula of Michigan for work?”

This seems to be the one tool that puts them at ease – if it is written down, they know what is happening.  In fact, it is not uncommon for my dad to remind me of things on the calendar.

So, as the new school year is approaching, I am getting organized and updating the family calendar – maybe you are, too?  This will, in the end, save everyone a headache and should allow my parents to watch the evening news regularly – for which I can only say – thank goodness – we would all suffer otherwise.  ;-)

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a multigenerational approach to parenting

Before I get started on this subject, which could be sensitive, let me say that my family is pretty basic – college graduates, married, kids, careers, etc.  I am sure that my 2 brothers and I recall “incidents” from our childhood that were yuck – but overall – our childhood was fun and it was good – we love each other.

We were lucky for many reasons – our parents were focused on our education, we traveled and participated in ballet/sports/after school stuff and they were supportive of us – even though we sometimes acted as if we had not a brain in our heads.  My dad had little patience for bad grades or behavior, but my mom rarely raised her voice and often ran interference with my dad when we took stupidity to a new level. 

So here we are in 2010, my husband, our 2 kids, and my parents all sharing a house.  There are bound to be differences in the way my husband and I raise our children in comparison to the way in which I was raised, right?  Our ages alone would suggest that “when our kids were young…” could be the go-to phrase for my parents while illustrating our shortcomings as a mom and dad. 

But quite happily, it has not turned out that way.  In fact, my parents are down right “hands-off” when it comes to passing judgment on the way we parent our son and daughter.  And they do not get involved with discipline unless we are not home. 

Based on their reactions, there have been occasions where I could tell they disagreed about the way my husband and I were dealing with a discipline issue.  However, I give them credit, they do not chime in with their 2 cents…and I think that makes a huge difference in our comfort level in having them in the house and spending so much time with our children.  They respect the way we parent our kids and do not interfere – and for the most part, they enforce our standards when we are not at home.  It would be terribly hard to have to parent our children and then justify the way we do that to my mom and dad. 

Ironically, it is my dad who now has the patience of Job as a grandfather and asks if he can go into their rooms and talk with his grandkids when they are in trouble?  To which I answer, NO – they are in TIMEOUT!!! and where in the world was this calm head of yours when I was a kid?

I think we got lucky because I am certain that we never really discussed the issue of parenting styles before we all moved into one house.  But don’t take that chance – I highly recommend talking about this before anyone else takes the multigenerational household plunge.

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Multigenerational vacation – the family reunion

Here is a recommendation for your next family reunion – make it about the food – the food from your youth, the stuff that brings back memories. 

[slideshow]

I just got home from the mother of all multigenerational experiences – my family reunion.  We stayed in 2 locations: the families with little kids shared a massive house in Scottsdale (8 adults and 8 kids between 2 and 11) and the others were at the Boulders Resort. 

At any point in the day, we were in the pool, eating, reading, eating, playing games, eating, watching movies, cooking, and eating and oh yeah, drinking.  The initial jaunt to the grocery store resulted in three large carts and a $428 bill – and we made 2 more trips during the course of our 4-day stay.

As the five cousins cooked and prepared food through out the holiday, we talked about the fact that our grandfather never met a meal nor a snack that he did not like.  The man stood 6’4” tall while my grandmother was 5’4”.  She ate like a bird most of the time and as a result, I think my grandfather munched his way through a day…  popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, cheese and crackers, chex mix…  Resisting the inclination to grab a handful of whatever snack lies on a counter goes against our family DNA.

I think we did him proud…  During our vacation, the kids were caught sneaking my mom’s brownies, we made no less than 4 servings of the sour cream/onion mix dip, went through 5 bags of Ruffles (2 were low fat – like that mattered…), mowed through untold numbers of Frescas and diet cokes, devoured 7 pounds of salmon, 10 pounds of pasta, 10 racks of ribs, and drank mojitos, margaritas, beer and wine.  Really, does anyone need anything else?  (Maybe a cabana boy to deliver drinks to the pool?)   Thank goodness we are all back in the real world the other 361 days a year…

The last evening we were together, we savored baby back ribs from Michael Chiarello and fresh coleslaw.  Chas was the first to finish a rib and with a clank of the cleaned bone hitting a bowl, the eating commenced.  We ate and ate… and with 14 adults sitting around the dinner table, we celebrated one birthday, told and re-told old family stories and toasted my grandparents and our heritage.  And only 3 of us got weepy… a minor miracle.

Planning for summer 2011 is already underway… and I am sure the first thing on our grocery list next summer will be sour cream and onion mix – taking us right back to that familiar place of our past.  Thankfully, some things do not change.

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National Ice Cream Month 2010

by Kanesha

House full of people today. A tremendous amount of food.  Super loud and super sweet family fun.

Roll Call

Me

Grandma (my mom)

Grandpa (my stepdad)

2 aunts (my mom’s sisters)

My daughter

My son

4 cousins

1 new boyfriend of my cousin (super cute and super brave)

Now…11:25 p.m. (EST)

Stepdad is in the man cave.

Son is asleep.

Daughter is having a sleepover with two cousins. They are still awake, pumped full of sugar, and over the moon to be reunited.

I am helping my mom “clean off” the DVR as it’s 97% full with *stuff she’s recorded and my stepdad ain’t having it.

I was thinking we needed a snack for all this DVR watching…something like wine, cheese, and maybe some olives.

My mom suggested ice cream (11:25pm!!), and hey, it’s vacation. Bring on the ice cream, mom!!!

WOW!

Yes, that one dish is for me and it is National Ice Cream Month! Hmmm…

I scream - you scream...

I wonder if she’ll check to see if I have brushed my teeth before I go to bed tonight!

*Dr. Oz, Oprah, Real Housewives of [insert location], CNN stuff, Larry King Live…and much much more.

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Grandparents & discipline

by Kanesha

I’m sitting here, alone, in my parents’ house. It’s cool and quiet and I’m thrilled!!

Hubby and my stepdad have taken the kids to the park, and my mom is off running errands and possibly buying my children yet another gadget they don’t need. (As she would say, “It’s just what grannies do!“)

We’re having a GREAT time!

[slideshow]

When we first arrived, my hubby told the kids to ask their grandparents for the rules of the house. I chuckled and my daughter looked at her dad sideways and promptly said,

“Daddy, you know there aren’t any rule here!”

My mother quickly added,

“Yes, she’s pretty much right. Not too many rules here for our grandchildren.”

Then I started to think; my kids spent close to two full weeks with my mother-in-law and my hubby’s sister (and sister’s hubby and sister’s two kids). They are very structured and rule driven people (yes – this is very true).

Since my mother-in-law lives with us, there are the day-to-day rules that must be enforced as well.

And now we are with my parents who will stop, drop and roll for these two grandkids. My parents will uphold rules that deal with safety, but that’s pretty much it as far as rule enforcement.

So, is this a case of fun grandparents vs. rules driven grandma?

Is this really fair to my mother-in-law’s relationship with my kids or is this not my problem to worry about?

I had not thought about this until today.

Hubby chimes in:

It’s just the way it is (fair or unfair).  When we look at the big picture – we all have several hats that we need to wear to make life work and the world go round.  Sometimes my mom is grandma – but most the time instead of grandma she is caretaker.

To provide a stable and safe environment for the kids, she needs rules and they need rules. Rules offer freedom and encourage their development.  It is different with the short visits from the non-caretaking grandparents.

Side note from hubby:

Our youngest was about to start playing with the POOL TABLE when I asked for the RULES.  It was such a perfect toy for a three-year old – with no rules.  And I had seen his eyes light up as he looked at the perfect green field laid out before him with a small ball (not a pool ball) in his hand and a truck.

We are flexible and we all want to have a good time, but even a house with minimum rules will need a few to keep everyone safe and happy.

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