Monday, November 5, 2012

Technology and the Grandma Toddler Stalker

We have been on the road for three and a half years now and during that time we went from having two grandchildren to having six.  The first two we were able to spend quite a bit of time with.  The other four I have seen only once or twice and Walt hasn't met them at all.

When we lived in Colorado our oldest grandson, Shane, who just turned 11, came to visit us often with his dad Adam and when they visited they usually stayed several days so we were able to develop a strong bond.

Shane knew when he came to our house that there were two boxes kept in the garage that we only brought out for him.  He is kind of a shy guy so to encourage him to talk to me I wouldn't offer to bring the boxes out.  Instead, I would wait until he got the courage to ask and then we would go down to the garage together and carry the boxes upstairs.  It was our little ritual that made it known to all, and especially Shane, that he had a permanent place in our hearts and our house.

The old town on canvas from my childhood was in the boxes.  My parents had drawn a whole town on a six foot sheet of canvas when I was four and that had been our Christmas present along with a plastic train and many small plastic cars to drive around on the canvas town roads.  The name of the town is Dotsonville.  It was painstakingly colored with crayons and outlined in magic marker.

I had a bakery called Chardale's Bakery.  Sherone had a shoe store and Rob had a ranch with a ranch house.  Sherone and I had houses in the town proper which were not designated in writing with our names, as the businesses were, but being the bigger and more territorial sister I staked my homestead claim first and Sherone went second.  I'm sure I spent lots of time convincing her then 2 year old self that the house she was getting was perfect for her.  I probably lied to her and told her it was the nicer house and she would have believed me because she trusted me with her life. Mine had a garage and a driveway and a sidewalk with flowers planted along the edge.  Sherone had to park her cars on the canvas street because her house did not have a garage or driveway, nor did it have much of a sidewalk.  And frankly, the paint job on my house was much nicer.  My house was blue and pink.  Hers was yellow and brown.  Who knew that a four year old could have such clearly defined real estate preferences?

I definately did not have her best interests at heart most of the time but I DID save her from drowning in the canal in California when she was three so maybe somehow it all balances out.  Uh...probably no.  Although I've made my amends to her for that and she has absolved me I don't think I'll ever forgive myself for the times when I was mean to her.  She loved me unconditionally and still does.  I envy her capacity to naturally do that and I am grateful to have experienced that in my life.  And I grew up and love her unconditionally now.  She taught me how to do that.

I'm not sure how I ended up with Dotsonville on canvas because it belonged to my brother and sisters as well.  An attempt was made after my youngest sister Shaun was born to add her name to the town businesses but there definitely was an old-timer clique and she never quite felt like she belonged there but she still played with endlessly.  Perhaps I ended up with it because I had kids first?  Regardless of how I got it, I have it.  Somehow, probably through sheer tyranny, I ended up owning the whole town.

In those boxes in our garage also were a whole bunch of plastic army guys that Shane's Uncle Matt had given me for Christmas when he was in the 4th grade. An odd gift for a kid to give their mo right?  Not when you consider his reasoning.  He said he wanted to make sure I had something to play with at work in case I got bored. :)  (My suspicions are that he wanted to make sure there was something for HIM to play with when he and his siblings were with me at work when I was working overtime.  You can only have so much fun drawing on copy paper with government issue pens with black, blue or red ink and then stapling your artwork in every imaginable configuration.  There are also several matchbox size cars and a bigger green pickup truck painted to match the US Forest Service vehicle colors by one of my co-workers at the Boulder Ranger District long ago.

These busy, young parents who are out there, far away, are connected in ways never even imaginable to us.  Adam, in Utah, calls me with FaceTime on his Ipad and I'm able to see my one year old grand daughter Cadence crawl and check on her progress.  I get to see her big brother Shane and her dancing together to her favorite song "Moves Like Jagger".  I see her sign that she wants more music and dancing when the song ends.  Shane walked down the street from his mom's house in Circleville, UT and found an unsecured internet signal.  He FaceTimed with his dad who then three way called me into the conversation.

My stepdaughter Amanda has an Iphone, as do I, and we have FaceTimed several times when she is outside playing with our grandson Logan who is two.  Logan's daddy was in Irag most of the first year of Logan's life and he developed his relationship with his dad over Skype.  Here is the picture of Amanda and Logan meeting Brandon when he returned from his deployment.  You can see in Logan's eyes that there is no fear or uncertainty.  He is one hundred percent comfortable with the actual presence of his dad even though his relationship was developed over Skype

My daughter Kaycee is a single mom of our 4 year old grandson Henry.  We were around Henry alot the first year of his life so there is a bond there even though it gets more distant all the time.  She has been great about sending videos and pictures of him and we recently got set up on Skype as well.  We all have a mishmash of technology so finding "the" optimal way to communicate with each family is challenging.  Henry doesn't have much experience with webcam communication but he still was able to demonstrate his newly developing skill of dribbling a basketball and I got to see, again, what it looks like to have a ravenous, growing four year old who is starving every two hours.

All this, with texting and Facebook have helped immensely in keeping me connected with this tribe of ours far, far away.  We have though entered into a new realm with the web-based baby monitor that is trained on my son Matt's two year old son Memphis' crib.  I have one hundred percent access to sign on and watch his crib.  I have figured out when he goes down for a nap and about how long he sleeps.  I know about when he goes to bed.  I know that he is a crazy man while sleeping, moving all over the place, usually completely uncovered.  I know that he will sit and play by himself in his crib, happy as can be both before he goes to sleep and after he wakes up.

I love to "catch" mama Kelsey or daddy Matt putting him to bed. As a mom forever, seeing my own children's faces always fills my heart with joy, my favorite is when Matt puts Memphis to bed.  In addition to being able to see in both light and dark there is audio so I can listen to my 32 year old son talk to my two year grandson.  His sweet words and gentleness as a Dad make me so proud of him.  Those tender moments between parent and child are usually not observed and the monumental gift it is for me to be able to watch that and listen is not lost on me.  /Here is a link to find out more about this amazing system:

I don't get to see much of his new baby brother Maverick yet because he co-sleeps with his mama and daddy.  I suggested to Matt that they should get a webcam in the living room and he said, Uh No.  But, if they did he would wear the Speedo swimsuit we sent him for his birthday as a gag gift.  Then I said Uh, No.  I'll have to be patient and wait to stalk Maverick until he's a little older *wink*.

I have become a toddler stalker using their Summer Babycam system and now I have to find some way to convince all these parents in my tribe that they should have a night vision webcam on all my grandbabies' beds so I can watch the little angels sleeping - because everyone knows that babies, toddlers, children and yes, even teenagers are ANGELS when they are sleeping.  I can't even describe how much of a gift it is to have these windows into these little people's lives when we are so far away and our access to them is so limited.

I look forward to the times when I can hold these little people on my lap and hug and kiss on them but in the interim technology keeps me just connected enough that I won't be a total stranger to them when we see each other.

I'm lying in bed as I'm typing this on a laptop that is running on battery.  I have the baby webcam on so I'll catch Memphis going to bed.  Tonight I'll sleep with the sound of ocean waves coming from a White Noise app on my phone and my alarm will be set on the phone as well.  My alarm clock sits next to the phone unplugged because the phone has rendered it useless.  Many nights when I lie awake with pain and/or insomnia I am doing medical research on my phone.  In the six months that I have had it I have acquired more knowlege about my medical conditions than the whole sixteen prior years combined.  I am grateful to have access to technology.  I don't take for granted for one second how wonderful it is to have these tools in my life and the lives of my kids and grandkids.

Thanks for stopping by to share my joy.

Peace be with you and all that jazz....

Copyright (c) Chardale Irvine - 2012.  All rights reserved.

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