Charles and Sally

Charles and Sally
en route to Le Diner en Blanc

Le Diner en Blanc New York

Le Diner en Blanc New York
Lincoln Center 2012

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

TRAVELING TO THE GRANDCHILDREN

Years ago I wrote a little article about the places I might never have seen if my children weren’t there – and if I were not going to visit them. Let’s see – there was Eugene, Oregon; Ajo, Arizona; Yellow Springs, Ohio; Annandale, New York; and Eagle, Alaska. Now I could say the same thing about going to see my grandchildren. We’ve taken the short (2-hour) drive to Whitehouse Station, New Jersey to see Anna & Nina; and the 8-hour flight and one-hour drive to Nauheim, Germany to see Lisa, Maika, and Stefan. Fortunately, they all come to see us too.

This past week, Mark and I went to Homestead and Redland, both in South Florida, where Stefan was working on organic farms during his semester break from Osnabrueck University in Germany. He made his arrangements through WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), through which young people from all over the world go to organic farms around the world and work four hours a day for room and board. His first farm, Paradise Farm, proved not to be so paradisiacal for him, so he was fortunate to find a happier spot nearby at Nature’s Acre.

By the time we came down to Florida, Stefan had fulfilled his work commitments, and we were free to go to the Everglades, Key Largo, John Pennekamp State Park, the Fruit and Spice Farm (a Dade County park), and Miami Beach. We packed a lot of togetherness and activity into three days. We jogged together, beached together, had long talks over dinner, and took lots of photos. I loved the years of having grandbabies and grandtots, but now I appreciate the very special joys of being able to enjoy the company of adult grandchildren, and feeling the love still flowing both ways.

On the plane coming home, Sharon, our 20-something seatmate, was traveling from her home in Costa Rica to New York, to spend time and show her love for her 93-year-old grandma. I assured her that her grandmother would be thrilled by her visit. I know some things.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

BRAGGING WHILE BLOGGING

I started this blog when I first began to think about writing a book for grandmothers, way back in November 2006. And now, after many conversations and much correspondence with grandmothers around the United States and abroad, SUPER GRANNY: GREAT STUFF TO DO WITH YOUR GRANDKIDS has been published, is in book stores, and has started getting feedback.

I’m so happy that people have been saying good things about SUPER GRANNY that I want to share some of these nice words. If you don’t want to hear the loud music of me tooting my own horn just stop here – and come back to my next post. If you can stand my shouting from this virtual rooftop, here are some of the comments that have appeared so far:

"Sally Wendkos Olds's excellent book is a must read for all grandparents, especially those that ever wondered what to do with their grandchildren on a rainy day.” Arthur Kornhaber, M.D., president of the Foundation for Grandparenting

"A great book for granny's (and grandfathers) who don't want to depend on the amount of money spent to enjoy grandkids, but instead depend on imagination, and ingenuity . . .a treasure of tips for giving every grandkid lasting experiences and valued memories." Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D. (Dr. Toy) http://drtoy.com/book_shelf/#19
“It has the most modern and varied collection of ways to connect with grandchildren from babies to teenagers I’ve seen in a book of this type. … I highly recommend Super Granny for its fresh, interesting approach to promoting a deeper connection between generations.” Katharine Zenke, GRAND Magazine http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/grand/200903_v3/

“If you've ever needed grandparenting inspiration, meet Super Granny! This book … lives up to its title. …It's not just the activities that are valuable; it's meeting the remarkable grandparents who contributed their ideas and their stories.
“The book is nicely organized, with sections for grandchildren from infancy to 3, from 3 to 6, from 6 to 11, and finally from 12 to 18. Each vignette begins with a description of a real-life grandmother and something she does with her grandchildren. The vignette is followed by a more detailed description of how to carry out the activity. Olds also uses icons at the top of each chapter to indicate the expense of the activity, the type of activity it is, and so on.” GRANDPARENTS.about.com. http://grandparents.about.com/od/booksaboutgrandparenting/gr/SuperGranny.htm

“I planned on coming back to the Introduction after skimming the chapters. However, after reading the first sentence I was drawn into your thoughts on being on a super granny. WHO IS A SUPER GRANNY? You are! Everything you said is true! …. I like the way I can use your book as a guidebook.
“[Y]our book is wonderful. It's not a run of the mill to-do list. Although you do include a great list, it's way more, it is a sweet sharing of the love we cannot contain for these special people, and a guide to pouring it out--- in buckets.” Play Wit Me Nana blog: http://playwitmenana.blogspot.com/2009/02/super-super-granny-book.html

“Author Sally Wendkos Olds … has created a book to help today’s grandmothers make the most of their time with their grandchildren. … a wealth of ideas … categorized by age groups … and rated by expense, difficulty, energy level required and type of creativity involved. … activities especially suited for long-distance relationships.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

And the most important critic of all:
"I'm halfway through Super Granny already. I love it!" My granddaughter, Lisa.

More lovely words from:

Barnes and Noble reader-reviewers: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Super-Granny/Sally-Wendkos-Olds/e/9781402757167/?itm=1&tabname=custreview
and
amazon.com reader-reviewers: http://www.amazon.com/Super-Granny-Great-Stuff-Grandkids/review/product/1402757166/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Monday, March 9, 2009

HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY BARBIE!

Well, we all grow older – and some of us even see our children enter middle age, but who would have thought that Barbie would hit the mid-century mark? Today, March 9,2009 is the day that Barbie celebrates her 50th birthday, with not a gray hair or teensiest wrinkle. You can celebrate with her by buying a modernized version of the original 1959 doll for the 1959 price of $3 from today through March 14 at (and here’s the rub) “participating retailers.” Good luck in finding these retailers and the doll.

When my oldest daughter first started playing with this grotesquely proportioned doll (with the large breasts that Mattel’s Ruth Handler felt would raise girls’ self-esteem by seeing what they could grow into – huh?), I worried that Nancy would buy into our society’s emphasis on unrealistic body image and focus on that rather than developing her abilities. She and her friends would spend hours with Barbie and her friends. Happily, though, Nancy outgrew Barbie, went on to earn a Ph.D., enjoys her work, and has a healthy worldview. She has two daughters, the younger of whom (age 9) still plays with the old Barbies we keep in our attic. I’m not worried about Nina. That’s one of the great things about grandchildren: by now you have learned that most of the worries you had about your children never came to pass, so you don’t have to waste time and psychic energy thinking about them.

My one regret is that I didn’t save a few of those pristine $3 Barbies that I could now sell for mega-bucks (in 2006 one sold for $27,450). But I don’t spend time thinking about that either.

According to www.BarbieMedia.com, “Barbie Millicent Roberts - was "born" on March 9, 1959, in (fictional) Willows, Wisconsin. First introduced as the original Teenage Fashion Model, Barbie(R) doll has since had more than 108 careers, represented 50 different nationalities and collaborated with more than 70 different fashion designers. With one Barbie(R) doll sold every 3 seconds somewhere in the world, Barbie(R) remains the world's most popular doll and a powerhouse brand among girls of all ages. Through the decades, the Barbie(R) brand has evolved with girls, extending into entertainment, online and more than 45 different consumer products categories. Barbie(R) has never been married (she just likes wearing wedding gowns), she is "just friends" with Ken and her "real" measurements are 5 inches (bust) x 3 1/4 inches (waist) x 5 3/16 inches (hips). Her weight is 7 1/4 ounces. And, despite much discussion and controversy, Barbie(R) is in fact just an 11 1/2 inch doll ... or is she?”

Thursday, March 5, 2009

GRANNIES WHO CAN’T BE BOTHERED

Joanne Kaufman’s article in the March 5 issue of The New York Times is headlined “When Grandma Can’t Be Bothered,” and starts off with what seems to me like a clear exaggeration: “For every Marian Robinson, who retired from her job to take full-time care of her grandchildren, Malia and Sasha Obama… there is a Judy Connors, who loves her two grandchildren but has no interest in Candy Land, peekaboo or bedtime stories.” The piece goes on to talk about grandmothers who are adamantly uninvolved.

This article feels like a man-bites-dog story, in which a writer discusses something so unusual that it’s of special interest. Sure, there are hands-off grandmothers, and I’ve heard of a few, but from my reading, experience, and contacts, they’re far fewer in number than the Marian Robinsons of this world. Of course, many of today’s grandmothers cannot leave their jobs to raise grandchildren full-time, but in the process of writing my book, SUPER GRANNY: GREAT STUFF TO DO WITH YOUR GRANDKIDS, I have met many working grannies who offer part-time care, or who manage to find time to pitch in when needed at odd hours and days.

As I was researching my book, I signed up for a free service offered by Google, called “Google Alerts.” To bring me news about grandparents and grandchildren, the robots at Google comb newspapers around the U.S. and abroad for stories about “grand” doings, and send a daily report. Reading these reports, I was impressed by how involved today’s grandmothers are with this younger generation. Despite the fact that a great many of today’s grannies have important jobs themselves, perform valuable community services, pursue time-consuming hobbies, and often live far away, the great majority of them are there for their children and grandchildren, and find many ways to have fun with them.

One of the women quoted by Ms. Kaufman said, “I raised two children whom I love dearly . . . I was a stay-at-home mom. Then I discovered when I started my own career that there was a whole other world out there.” Hello??? This woman seems to frame the issue as an all-or-nothing affair, which seems to be an extremely rare way of looking at it. I don’t judge hands-off grandmothers for their choices, but I do think that those who have this kind of attitude are depriving themselves of some glorious experiences. To read the New York Times article, go to:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/05/fashion/05grandparents-1.html?_r=1&scp=4&sq=Joanne%20Kaufman&st=cse