Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Divide and Conquer

One of the hardest parts of being faraway from our grandchildren and married children is that we can't always be there to help out when life is difficult.

The past two weeks have been overwhelmingly difficult for our daughter who has four of our little people, ages 18 months to 8 years. Her husband was going away on business for almost two weeks, and we knew it was going to be a stretch for her. We were already committed to being in TN to await the birth of our son's 4th child, our 8th little person, so we couldn't help. At least we didn't think we could.

The day before her husband was to leave, our daughter called to tell us they had a flea infestation. She was overwhelmed to say the least. We decided to leave two days early and stop by her house and help with the burdensome task of spraying and cleaning everything--several times. It took all three of us many hours, but we managed to get the job done and the fleas were gone.

The next day we headed for TN. And we're still here, at least I am. Tom had business in SC already planned in the middle of our three week stay here. But what he didn't plan on was making a stop back at our daughter's home to help comfort her children who were missing their daddy BIG time. Just having a man in the house comforted them in a way our daughter couldn't. When Tom sent me this picture of our 8 year old granddaughter cuddled up and sleeping on his shoulder I knew we had made the right decision by dividing and conquering.

Being at a distance from each other physically doesn't mean we care any less. And gratefully we are often able to go the distance to meet a need or fix a meal. We count it a privilege to love and serve our kids physically when we can. But when we can't our prayers are ever ready to appeal to our Heavenly Father to provide the hands to help and the heart to care through others who live close by.

As I sit in our little cottage waiting for a middle of the night call telling me, "It's time!" I am grateful just to be here, to be called Nana by seven, soon-to-be eight little people, and that "Faraway" doesn't mean I love and care for my little people any less. I'm a here-to-stay Nana at least in my heart.

Until next time...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cultivating A Love For Books - A Nana's Privilege

I love reading to my grandchildren, and thankfully I can still do this. Skype and Google+ Hangouts provide a perfect way to read aloud to all of them.

What do I read?

My three oldest granddaughters are enjoying a series of books called The Doll People. We are on the third one and were very sad that this was the last one. Until.....I discovered the author has written another book. They are full of imagination, great life lessons, laughter and suspense. In fact my granddaughters beg me, "just one more chapter, Nana!" My only regret is that with our busy schedules we don't get to do this as often as I'd like.

If you're interested in this series, I've provided the links below:

The Doll People
The Meanest Doll In The World
The Runaway Dolls
The Doll People Set Sail

My three year old granddaughter recently joined the fray when she called and said, "Nana, can you read me a book?" Of course, I obliged. I asked her which book she wanted me to read, and I was surprised to discover she knew exactly the book she wanted! It was one I read to her the last time we were together. Amazingly she remembered the title from when she was here in May. Ah! Never underestimate the impact we make on our grandchildren when they come for a visit. She clung to that memory, and it was the book she wanted to read when I had the time. I'm happy to report I read to her yesterday. Imagine my thrill when her younger sister was right there listening to "Nama" (as she likes to call me) read a story.

What books have you read to your faraway grandchildren? 

Photo Credit:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

When Plans Fall Through, What's A Nana To Do?!

One of the drawbacks of living faraway involves unexpected changes in plans. If you're like me I look forward with great anticipation to our times together, and when things change at the last minute it often leaves me discouraged, and maybe even a bit angry, it pains me to say.

This happened recently. On the 4th of July weekend we had made plans to all meet at our cabin in NC. It was perfect because our sons wouldn't have to take much time off from work, and we'd have a long weekend together. At least that's what we thought...

Until the phone rang...

Our daughter called saying her toddler had a fever and was throwing up two days before the trip. With our daughter-in-love 6 months pregnant we couldn't risk her being exposed, so our daughter made the hard decision to not come with her husband and four of our seven grandchildren.  :-(

I wasn't ready for this change! I had planned a group birthday party for five of my seven little people who have birthdays wrapped around July 4th. I had saved all of their gifts to give to them in person. I had bought them all matching Fourth Of July t-shirts for the parade. I was anticipating this weekend so much so that it was hard to recover from the disappointment, but I knew I had to. I still had three precious little people coming to spend time with Nana and Papa. They expected me to be fun and happy, but I didn't feel it.

So I did what I had to do. I cried out to God to forgive me for being angry at Him for allowing my plans to fall through. I asked Him to help me refocus and rejoice. I knew He had a purpose in the changes, and I also knew that I wouldn't find the good if I was focusing on the bad. He helped me embrace my time with my grandchildren, and we had a great weekend!

We gave the birthday gifts to the ones who were there, and we made plans to take a detour home to deliver the birthday gifts to the ones who weren't. I postponed the party until we could be together again, since they didn't know I had this part planned. :-)

I'm happy to say we were all able to be together this past weekend, and it was made sweeter because of the bitter disappointment of the month before.

Papa and I took the four oldest (two aged six and two aged 8) to see the Minion Movie at the theatre. We had Slushies, popcorn and lots of fun. When we got home our daughters had set up my Minion surprise party, complete with twinkie cupcakes made to look like a Minion. They had no idea that this party was supposed to happen in July.

What's the take away from all this?

I believe it's to hold our plans loosely, for we never know when circumstances will change. This makes the times when we do get to be together that much more precious.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

All Or Nothing

One of the hardest things about living faraway from my grandchildren is not having them around on a regular basis. I miss knowing what their favorite snacks are, what they eat for breakfast, and what their regular routines are. I miss doing life together in hourly afternoon here, an evening there...meeting for lunch before nap time. All the ways you can connect in short increments of time.

Since my little people moved away I only see them when we've planned extended time together. And it usually happens a week at a time--all day, every day. It's exhausting since I'm not used to it, and that makes me sad.

The hardest thing when we have time together is entering their world fast and being fully engaged. I'm not used to the busyness of toddlers, the constant demands of children, the noise, the laughter, the fighting, but I want to be. Which makes me sad once again with the distance that separates us.

This Friday my daughter and her husband will be driving to our home so we can watch their four children while they go on a cruise to celebrate their 10th anniversary. (Can we just pause for a minute to celebrate the fact that we have a daughter who has been married for a decade? It blesses my heart to no end knowing that both my son and daughter are married to their best friend and that they want to continue to build their marriage for God's glory. What a miracle this is in this day and age, and something I never want to take for granted.) I'm so excited they get to come to my house. We can swim in our pool, go for walks around the block, color on the sidewalk and go out for lunch with Papa.

But first I have to get my house Stella-proof....

She is the curious one (almost 3) who never stops for a moment. I'm afraid there are many things in Nana's House that will be far too tempting for her to resist, so I must get on my knees and look at my home from her vantage point.

I'm slowly getting used to the All or Nothing aspect of being the Nana to seven (soon-to-be eight!) little people. It takes more effort to stay connected when we're far away, and even more effort to enjoy the connection when we're close. But I wouldn't change a thing! The blessing of these children in my life is incalculable no matter the miles that separate us.

How about you? How has this all or nothing aspect affected you and how have you dealt with it?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Four Ways To Connect With Your Little People Using Video Calls

Photo Credit: NY Times

We live in a day and age when we can stay connected even though miles separate us.

I love video phone calls. It's a great way to talk face-to-face with your little people, and helps your empty arms find comfort from a full heart.

There are several different ways to make video calls to your little people. Below is the list of those I've used, and a brief description as to how to make them work.

Skype - probably the most familiar and easiest to use. However, in order to connect more than two computers you have to pay for their service, something I'd rather not do. If you're only calling one computer, this would be my recommendation, and it's free. If you need help to install Skype on your computer, check out this step by step guide.

Google Hangout - If you already have a gmail account, you'll most likely want to use this platform. Simply go to your Google Plus page (look for your name with a + sign in the top toolbar of your gmail page. In the right sidebar you'll see "Start a Hangout". Follow the prompts to invite your kids to join you in a private chat room. If you'd like step by step help click here.

ooVoo Video Chat - This is another great service that provides free calls for up to 12 computers. Great for those with families all over the place. For more information on how to install ooVoo check out this video.

Facetime - This video conferencing app can be used on your smart phone. My granddaughter, Stella, absolutely loves FaceTime. She's only 2 and knows how to find me on my daughter's phone and call me herself. It's the cutest thing when I see her face pop up on my phone. She's always in the middle of a conversation when I answer. I think once she sees my photo she thinks I can hear her. Makes me laugh every time I think of it. She carries me all over the house while she plays with her toys. If you'd like step by step help on starting with FaceTime, click this link.

The New York Times published an article 7 years ago talking about the future of grandparenting via the computer...
"Nearly half of American grandparents live more than 200 miles from at least one of their grandchildren, according to AARP. Prof. Merril Silverstein, a sociologist at the University of Southern California, has found that about two-thirds of grandchildren see one set of grandparents only a few times a year, if that. But many grandparents find that the Web cam eases the transition during in-person visits, when grandchildren may refuse to sit on their laps or may reject their hugs because they do not recognize them. As a Web cam evangelist wrote on her blog, 'You'll be able to pick up where you left off without those warming up to you, awkward moments.'"
I agree. Video chats keeps you near and dear to your grandchildren, but it can never replace the warmth of a real hug or the tenderness of a sweet kiss. I video chat with my little people quite often, and it's a time we all look forward to. But let's not let it replace it from those visits face-to-face.

How has using a web cam helped you stay connected with your grandchildren? Which of these services do you prefer and why? Won't you add your comments below, thus helping the rest of us glean from what you've found to be helpful?

Until next time...

The Faraway Nana
to Bristol, Willow and Vito in Tennessee
Norah, Bradley, Stella and Brielle in Georgia

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

4 Ways To Make The Distance Easier

WELCOME to The Faraway Nana. This blog is dedicated to helping women who are separated from their little people find ways to express their love in meaningful ways. This first post came from my author blog, Debi Gray Walter, where I shared my heart with my readers. I have considered starting a blog for this purpose, and I suppose now is the time. Are you interested? Need ideas? Need a friend who understands the distance and heartache associated with living in our ever-expanding world. Then this is the place for you. You're always welcome--won't you sign up so as not to miss a single post? I would love the company--after all my house is pretty quiet most days.


Four Ways To Make The Distance Easier

As most of you know, all 7 of my grandchildren now live far away from me. It has been a difficult and emotional transition for me–one where I’ve shed many tears, and prayed often for God to help me see this new season from His perspective. And He has!

What I miss most as the Faraway Nana is being able to do fun things with them in my home–like baking, reading, picking flowers, going for walks around the block, watching their favorite movies while munching on hot, buttered popcorn, coloring pictures and playing Polly Pockets–to name just a few.

I was having one of those days when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself when God dropped an idea into my head. My four oldest grandchildren tell me often that they miss Nana’s House, which has always been like a jab to heart. But this time God gave me an idea, and a new tradition was born.


I told Bristol, Norah, Willow and Bradley that if they couldn’t come to Nana’s House, then Nana’s House would come to them. :-) I began publishing a monthly newsletter called Nana’s House. In it I put personal notes, little contests, crafts and something they can all enjoy from the 7 year olds down to the babies. When finished I stuff all the supplies needed for the crafts as well as candy treats into the Priority Mail Flat Rate small box and send it on its way. I take a picture of the receipt with the tracking number and text it to my daughters, so the kids can know when their little package will arrive.

This has helped me more that I could have ever imagined. I still get to go to the craft store and pick out something special for them to do. I still get to highlight funny things they’ve said or done. I still get to hear their voices squeal with excitement when they see another newsletter is on its way. The only thing I haven’t figured out how to do is hug their little necks and do nosies with them. Which brings me to the next thing I’ve done to help with the distance…


What fun we have had Skyping, and now using Google Hangouts (which works better when you are connecting three phones). We have colored Easter Eggs together, baked cookies and read books. I’m currently reading a series of books to the girls titled, The Doll People. They color while I read to them, and it has been wonderful. I love how they have absorbed the story and beg me, “Nana, just one more chapter–pleeeaaassssee?” We’re currently on book two, The Meanest Doll In The World. After this there are two more, so I think we’ll be able to enjoy this adventure together for quite a while.

My younger grandchildren love to talk with Nana on FaceTime because they can carry me with them to their room to see their new toys. I have had the best conversations with Stella (aged 2) all the while looking at the ceiling. She takes the phone to her room, sets me on her kitchen set and fixes me the best cups of coffee. I’m always asking her to prop me up so I can see her face. We are still working on that one, but I wouldn’t trade staring at her bedroom ceiling for anything. She’s precious.


I love writing. I love penmanship. I’ve heard that public schools are no longer teaching handwriting, and it makes me sad to realize this is going away. I always loved learning to write my letters. I practiced over and over again, until I like how it looked. This gave me an idea to start writing letters to my grandchildren once they learn to read. I print until they learn cursive writing. Once they do, I will write to them in cursive. The younger ones who can’t yet read, don’t like that the older ones get this special treat. But, I pray it will motivate them to learn to read for themselves. Cards are also a fun treat for the younger ones when it’s not their birthdays. Such an inexpensive way to show them how special they are to me. 


Being far away from those you love is not easy, especially since they grow up so fast. For a long time I resisted finding joy in the distance, but I’m beginning to see that there is much good that happens when miles separate you from those you love. In this day and age we can still connect in ways my grandmother would have never imagined possible. When she moved away from her family to Jenks, Oklahoma, she didn’t know if she would ever see their faces or hear their voices again. Their only means of communication was through snail mail–although back then, it was delivered by horse. We are blessed that no matter how faraway you are, you can connect in so many ways as often as you like. What a small world.

Are you separated from your little people? I hope my ideas will inspire you to embrace the distance and make it something special.

The Faraway Nana

Follow TFN by clicking below. Thanks!