Life as a long-range grandma

Our oldest child, and her husband, are the proud parents of a little baby girl. Actually, Livi Luise isn?t so little anymore. She will be a 1-year-old March 16.

We wish our daughter, Tracy, and her husband, Stephen, lived closer, but we don?t think that will happen?at least not in the near future. They are very happy in Berlin, Germany, and the paternal grandparents are only three hours away.

Of course, that means Livi will get to know them a lot better than her American counterparts, but they are super grandparents, too.

When we first learned we were going to be grandparents, I started reading up on all the dos and don?ts.

One of the ?dos? was to be around the grandchild as much as possible because of the crucial bonding that needs to take place. Well, unless we win the lottery, we aren?t going to be making any trips to Germany again for at least two years. Randy and I were lucky enough to go to Berlin last summer, and we had such a good time.

Our little Livi was such a politician on that trip. Even though she didn?t know who we were, she smiled at her grandparents as if to say: ?I know who you are and I love you!?

At least, that?s how I interpreted the look.

Another suggestion I discovered involved buying things for the grandchild. One of those items was an ?original antique photograph? of grandmother holding grandchild.

Sometimes I don?t feel like I am 61 years old, but I suppose I qualify as an antique now.

Some of the other ideas included a keychain with Livi?s picture, a personalized necklace that is ?vintage.? Great, another reference to old age.

One of the funnier baby announcement cards had something to do with ?payback,? and how the parents of a new grandchild will be getting sleepless nights like what they gave to their parents.

I sure wish I could be there to help them get through some of those sleepless nights, though.

Unrelated to buying things, but still important to our children and us is when Livi gets sick.

Most babies are sick a lot because many are around other children who might have a cold, fever, or some type of flu bug.

My oldest brother, Pete, had a funny story he likes to tell about illnesses.

One of his best friends in Atchison couldn?t play outside until he visited the doctor to find out why he was sick. When my brother?s buddy?they were both 5 years old?returned home he came running over to our house and told Pete he was ready to play.

?Aren?t you still sick?? my brother asked.

?Nope, the doctor said I was contagious!?

And off they went.

With our little granddaughter?s birthday only days away, it would be best to talk with our daughter about what to get Livi.

One present I would have liked as a child was a sock monkey. They?re just so doggone cute. As far as cost, I don?t think sock monkeys are expensive, and even are easy to make, but for some reason I never got one as a child.

Another idea could be buying her a onesie with her initial on the front, or maybe a collage with pictures of Livi in the shape of a ?1.?

Our little Livi, like all grandchildren, is touching so many lives, some literally. Daughter Tracy was telling me last weekend that while she was in the grocery store checkout line, Livi, seated in the cart, was putting her hand underneath a man?s coat in front of them.

While many Americans might think that was cute, some Germans like to keep to themselves and, in this situation, Livi reaching out to touch someone was not appreciated. The man wasn?t rude to her, but he also wasn?t smiling.

Livi likes to smile at everyone she sees. It could be in an elevator, on the street, or during a shopping trip. She was dressed in Union Pacific bib overalls and a neckerchief for German Mardi Gras at her day care. Her great-uncle Bill, who is a railroader, was so proud.

Like all grandparents, Randy and I want to make the most of the time we do get to spend with Livi. Even though we are living thousands of miles away from Livi, we still can have a great relationship with her. It takes a commitment on our part to find ways to strengthen family ties and give our little Livi happy memories about her American grandparents.

Livi also reminds me about one of my favorite quotes by Lois Wyse: ?Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.?

God bless grandparents.