Monday, July 27, 2009

ARGHH! We Be Pirates

The pirates visited their Gamma and Grandpa a few weeks ago. Or at least, they became pirates once they got here. I'd been anticipating their visit for weeks. Making plans to keep them busy--more plans, as it turned out, then we had time for. And the weather didn't cooperate for trips to the pool or the lake. But that was okay. Because the pirate costumes I surprised them with were a big hit.

We even prevailed upon Grandpa to don a pirate hat the first day. But it was Gamma with the hat and eyepatch, dagger in hand as we sailed the seven seas from our trusty ship (the front porch). There were endless sea battles with The Beast and Captain Hook. A special call to summon all the friendly pirates to come to our aid. And there was treasure. A chest full of it (minus the lid the first couple days because Gamma is useless at putting things together.) A trip to Auntie Ali's bedroom found it chock full of gold and jewels. (Or beads--how'd she score all the beads? A mother doesn't want to know.) There was treasure to hide from the dastardly Hook and treasure to hunt for when, inexplicably, it had disappeared upon our return. Treasure maps were plentiful but some were easier to follow than others. (Not everyone is a mapmaker.) And always, always there was Gamma providing a running script about what we were doing and why and what we were looking for and what would happen when we found it.

Admittedly, Gamma needed to scale back on some of the more lurid tales once they were linked to extra lights requested at bedtime. But we had a smashing time playing pirates for three days. And when you can keep an almost three and four year old entertained playing the same games for that long, you've accomplished something!

There were also board games (someone needs a bit more practice at sportsmanship!), wagon rides, trips to the playground, feeding the ducks and geese at the park, making crafts in Gamma's school classroom and playing in the bounce house in the backyard.

I had such fond memories of my own visits to my own grandparents that I wanted to make similarly great memories for my own grandchildren. When my first grandson was born, I told my daughter-in-law that I expected him to stay at Gamma's for a week every summer. She got this panicked look on her face and said, "Like when he's nine, right?"

She first sent both boys when they were 1 and 2, LOL. It's amazing how quickly they learn how rare it is to score some time alone :)

There were some flashback memories during the visit, too, of course. Like when I was forced to take them grocery shopping on a two cart trip. A deja vu hour and a half in which I recalled just how my hatred of grocery shopping was born. There was the episode of emptying two bag of chips on the dog's back and smashing the rest of them into the carpet. Of breaking a container of laundry soap on the driveway then running their crocs through them so they'd need washing.

Precious memories, all.

Because something odd has happened since the days I regularly cleaned up those types of messes and juggled making dinner, cleaning and a house full of young children. Things have slowed down. *I've* slowed down. What I remember about when my kids were young is how time flew by. I thought I'd always remember what our daily lives were like then, but now I can only recall moments.

Visits to Gamma's are nothing BUT moments. Each to be cherished and recalled long into adulthood.

The pirates' parents arrived after five days and stayed through the fourth of July weekend. Captain Rylan and First Mate Kasen were ready to go home. And Gamma is already busily dreaming up new ways to entertain them next summer. If I start talking now, maybe I can have their cousin join them.

Do you have special memories of times spent with grandparents? Or are you at the stage in your life when you're making memories for your grandchildren?


Debra Dixon said...

Kylie-- I am soo impressed at your pirate skills. Major kudos. You will never regret that time.

I had odd grandparents. (g) Fabulous parents but not your typical grandparents. One was a career woman back in the day when women weren't career women. So, visits to her house in the summer consisted of being babysat by my aunt and hanging at the pool.

My aunt introduced me to The Hobbit and Puff the Magic Dragon and a million other things though.

The other side of the family was in town so they were kind of a staple and not exotic. Again that grandmother had a career and her own business.

What we did was take family vacations in the summer. Those horrid trips where your sister won't stop touching you ("Momma! She touched me again!!!") and you see every historic place in 12 states, but that you'll also never forget. Like the time Mother dyed her hair orange by mistake the day before and spent the whole vacation the butt of clown jokes. Fun times. (g) You'd be surprised how many clown jokes you can manage in a week.

Or the year we met my grandmother and aunt in Texarkana for Easter and we woke up to find baby ducks in our motel room.

Kylie said...

Debra--those family vacations are special! No matter how much the kids acted bored, or how much they fought over the limited space in the vehicle, we were always shocked to hear them telling their friends all about the trip, how great it was, etc. My dh and I would look at each other like, 'is this the same kid we couldn't please the entire 2000 miles?'

Lots of family memories come out of those trips!

lois greiman said...

This is so great. I just don't understand how you write a million books a year, teach, AND become a pirate for three days. Amazing.

Michele Hauf said...

When I was a kid we lived in town. Both sets of grandparents lived in the country. Come summer the parents would pack us up and drop us off at one set for a week (or two). I hated it. We were in the wild and untamed country! My grandparents farmed and spent most of the time milking cows or in the field. The big old spooky farmhouses were haunted (I'm sure they were!) at night and kept me wide awake. I dreaded those 'vacations'.

Only now can I look back and realize it didn't matter how good or bad it was for us kids, it was our parents' vacation. THEY had all the fun with us gone. Sigh...

PJ said...

Oh, Kylie, what wonderful memories you're making! I spent a week or two with my maternal grandparents every summer from the time I was a little sprout through high school. I adored them and the time spent with them. Growing up, they lived on a farm and I loved helping my grandpa with the animals and helping grandma cook. She taught me to bake and is the one who fostered my love of cooking and baking.

I wasn't blessed with children but I have a wonderful brother and sis-in-law who graciously shared their son and daughter with us from the time they were 3 and 7 years old. The first couple years they stayed for a week, then it got upped to two weeks and then to three weeks. We baked, swam, played games and went on mystery field trips. Those memories are so precious to me and the kids (now 25 and 29) still talk about how much fun they had as I'm sure your grandchildren will for years to come.

Liza said...

I was really lucky to have one set of grandparents less than a mile down the road from my house. We spent as much time playing at their house as our own. The entire neighborhood would come play kickball, tag, or whatever in my grandparent's yard. Plus, my Pawpaw always made the best milkshakes in the world. We would spend the day playing and then come in for one of his milkshakes. My Nannie taught us all how to make her peanut butter candy and she is still teaching me how to bake her pies today.

My other grandmother(Motmama) lived about an hour away and when we would go spend time with her, she let us play dress-up in her clothes from the 20's and 30's. There was never any room off limits and she had the best park in the world right around the corner from her house.

PJ said...

I have to share something my niece wrote a couple years ago about those summers she spent with us. Btw, I still have that menu she talks about.

Kylie said...

LOL, Lois. The pirate part of the equation was by far the easiest part!

Kylie said...

Michele, that's too bad you didn't enjoy the trips to the grandparents. I had one grandma living in Oregon so I only saw her yearly. The other set lived fifty miles away in a teeny little town and my memories of those visits were idyllic. I envied my cousins so much because they could see our grandparents every day! I couldn't even fathom it!

But you are sooo right about parents needing the break, LOL!

Kylie said...

Wow, PJ, three week visits! I'm sure you made wonderful memories for your niece and nephew. I know they'll be harder to entertain as they get older, but I've already got some outings planned!

I used to hate it when some of my other cousins were visiting my grandparents at the same time I was, because I meant the focus wasn't all on me, LOL. Only now do I realize that my grandma must have had kids almost all summer to give each of us a turn staying there!

Kylie said...

Liza, those sound like wonderful memories at both sets of grandparents' houses! I am certain none of my kids will ever live close enough for me to be a daily presence in their lives. That makes it doubly important to make memories in the times I do get to keep them.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Kylie, what wonderful pictures! My grandson was a pirate for Halloween last year, and the costume continues to serve in Pixie Hollow. The kids have plans to redecorate the entire house into a fairy world, and I'm told that means bringing the outdoors in.

Mama's mama was Gamma, too. I was the first grandchild, so I got to name her. Granddaddy died when I was about 3, but I do remember sitting on his lap while he read the funny papers to me. Gamma lived well into her 90's, and I didn't know until I was an adult that she was an unhappy woman. She rarely left her little VA town, so it was a very big deal when she came to my high school graduation in MA. I was always interested in "the olden days" and I'm so glad I asked questions. Her family had been in VA since early settlement times, and her life spanned such changing times. Gamma's house was a wonderful place to explore.

Grandmother Pierson--notice Gamma vs Grandmother--had an amazing journey. She died when I was 12 or 13, but I got lots of wonderful stories from her too. I always felt privileged when I had her on the porch all to myself. Oh, the places she went and the adventures of a late 19th c Army brat, early 20th c Army wife.

Neither of my grandmothers played with us--that just wasn't part of their repertoire--but oh, the stories.

Kylie said...

PJ, that blog post is absolutely wonderful. It's easy to see the visits to your house provided lifelong special memories for your niece. She's right--you are special!

ForestJane said...

Rrrr, Look for this one the next time you play pirates:

Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC
by June Sobel

Wonderful illustrations of piggies, alligators, cats and rats playing pirates and discovering other letters than RRRrr. :)

Kylie said...

Kathleen, I think we had to get to a certain age to appreciate the stories. I find myself quizzing my dad a lot, trying to get more of a glimpse into what his boyhood was like. He's never been much of a talker, LOL.

My maternal grandmother had a tough life and was on her own at age 12, hiring out as an 'ironing girl' and living in her employers' houses. I wince now imagining what experiences might have shaped her lifelong low opinion of men.

My paternal grandma was a 'lady', went to Catholic boarding schools and had a career during World War 1. She often spoke of how wonderful it was that we had the opportunity for careers because back then it was expected that women would quit their jobs and stay home when they married.

Both shared fascinating stories of their lives growing up which I've tried to keep alive for my children and grandchildren by detailing in their baby books.

Helen Brenna said...

Oh, Kylie, what fun and what a great Gamma, you are! I can wait a few years for this, but the thought of spending a week with grandkids sounds fabulous!

I'm one of the younger kids in a big family, so my grandparents were too old/not interested in this kind of thing. I have wonderful memories of my mom's parents renting cabins at the lake, though, and all of us going to visit. I clearly remember going fishing with my grandparents, with a cane pole, of course. The last thing grandpa wanted to have to do was mess with all those rods and reels!

Oh, the fish fries we had!!!!

Deb, sounds like you came from a long line of impressive women. Why doesn't that surprise me? lol

Kylie said...

ForestJane, the book sounds very cute! Will certainly check it out next time. I plan to add to the costumes so the kids can play dress up when they come in the future.

Kylie said...

ForestJane, the book sounds very cute! Will certainly check it out next time. I plan to add to the costumes so the kids can play dress up when they come in the future.

Kylie said...

Helen, it's great you still made those special memories of time spent with your grandparents. We certainly enjoy times our whole family gets together.

Emmanuelle said...

Those pics are too cute !!! Should do something like that with my boys...

Debra Dixon said...

Helen-- yeah, no one is real surprised when they see me flashing a Barbie doll in a business suit in our home movies of Christmas morning. LOL!

Keri Ford said...

KYLIE! This is so awesome! Can my kid come hang with yours next summer? Please??

We spent nearly everyday at grandma's in the summer. My sister and I and three of our cousins through the week. Sometimes it was 5 of our cousins, too. We mostly spent everyday at the pool or acting out disney movies. We got a kick of The Rats of NIHM one year and another year it was Sword and the Stone. Fond memories.

We're so close as cousins I know because of those summers spent together. Every year we look forward to the reunion, Thanksgiving and Christmas because there's nothing like it when the 7 of us get together and let our kids play.

Kylie said...

Emmanuelle, boys--girls--it doesn't seem to matter. They all love dressing up!

Of course I'm saving the long gowns and high heels for the granddaughter--if I ever get one!

Kylie said...

Keri, you are so lucky that you're able to keep up that tradition of closeness now with your children and your cousins'. We went to see our grandparents monthly and always had a big meal prepared by my grandma. I got to see all but one set of cousins on that side frequently. But we've all scattered so don't see near as much of each other.

We had a reunion a couple years ago and had cousins there from Oregon and California. It was great, but most didn't bring their kids. It's just a different world these days. You're lucky to still have that connection!

Cindy Gerard said...

love the pirates. we're making memories with our grand kids now up at our cabin. Gnomes are the big things up here - well, actually little things as gnomes are tiny forest creatures of the very illusive kind. photos next blog