Posts Tagged ‘Muti Generational Household’

Mad Men premiere – multigenerational prep and party (Nope, no spoilers!)

I love Sundays, my girlfriends, great food, tasty cocktails, scandalous chatter and the lusciously deceptive Don Draper.

The season 4 premiere of Mad Men has come and gone, and I’m still thinking about it.

I have this awesome group of girlfriends who I hang out with every Sunday night. We’ve been doing this since 2004. We started off as a group of six, but now we are down to our group of four, multigenerational (3 boomers and 1 gen-xer), fun-loving, adventurous, and fast-moving women.

In July 2007, when I was home alone, exhausted with a new baby, and practically brain-dead, I stumbled uponAMC’s new show, Mad Men. Talk about a quick pick me up – Don Draper and all his glorious badness. The glamour, parties, historical references, and brilliant writing… Oh yes, this was my kind of show!

"Kanesha" going to work at Sterling Cooper

Fast forward to July 2008. I had been yapping and yapping to my Sunday night crew about Mad Men all year-long, and they were not hearing me. (Heck, I had been yapping about Mad Men to anyone who would listen! I wanted to get everybody hooked!)

My girlfriends wanted to stick with the show that got our Sunday-evening rendezvous started in the first place, Desperate Housewives. I knew I had to be strategic if I was going to assist them in going gaga over Mad Men. I invited them over, provided good food, lots of great wine and made them watch, on DVD, the first two episodes of season 1. They were hooked – and now here we are in 2010 – still hooked. I’ve even “Mad Men” myself.

This summer, we all had the homework of re-watching season 3 before July 25. Some episodes we watched together, but we mostly followed the honor code of Mad Men devotion and expected we’d all be current with previous happenings and major incidents.

From my multigenerational lens, the episode from season 3 that got me extra emotional, and kind of enraged was Episode 2: Love Among the Ruins.

Recap (and I really wish I could find video clip):

When Don arrives home, Betty says William has given her two options: Put Gene in a home or have Judy care for him. Don pulls William aside and delivers an ultimatum. William will support his father financially, and Gene will live with Don and Betty. Gene’s house will remain untouched. William acquiesces. “So the animals are running the zoo,” Gene remarks after learning his fate.

Uhm…this is not the way I think making multigenerational living arrangements should go down. Living with family members or having them live with you is complicated and can be stressful if you do not handle it well. A lot of things have to be negotiated and the more you talk about things in the beginning, the better the transition will be. You may also find out multigenerational living will not work for your situation, and that’s OK too.

I do not have siblings, but I’ve watched and listened to my hubby have some interesting conversations with his siblings about our multigenerational situation. It all came down to some miscommunication and folks not being in the loop. As grown ups, we do want to be in charge of ourselves, but when people feel left out, clear thinking goes right out the door. People cannot be forced to agree with a multigenerational living set-up, but talking things out, utilizing resources, and perhaps having a mediator is a step in the right direction.

Back to the season 4 party:

My mother-in-law made this awesome and reversible apron!

I’ve mentioned before, I dabble in domesticity and I really meant that – dabble. I can cook, no problem, but my fine cuisine mostly comes from recipes, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I also like to look the part when I’m cooking, so I wear my “couture” aprons (hand-sewn and designed by my mother-in-law) along with my pearls. Yes, I’m channeling my inner Julia.

My mother-in-law knows and understands how important my Sunday nights out are, and she usually asks me what food item(s) I plan to take  and offers assistance as needed. Yes, I’m super lucky!

I have to confess, I bought this bag of Utz while I was traveling on the east coast. They did not last until the premiere. 😦

So instead – I was in charge of the dessert, olives, and party favors for this year’s Mad Men premiere.

I made lime-infused coconut pound cake, which is a favorite  in our multigenerational household. (Sorry, mother-in-law, I know you are cutting back on sugar. I should be too!)

The recipe is in the Holiday Baking – Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications – 2007. Let me know if you want the recipe. 🙂

When I’m making desserts, I need to fully concentrate. I’ve been known to leave out an ingredient, or two, if I become distracted.

Hubby and my mother-in-law did a great job keeping the 3 year-old-occupied while I baked, and they would also do an ingredient roll call.

I thought it was an excellent idea (and super cute) to make mini-bundt cakes so that everyone could have their own, but they turned out horribly. (Nope, I did not take a picture of that disaster!)

Oh well!

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What the ladies and I feasted on:

  • Champagne
  • Olives
  • Almonds
  • Smoked salmon
  • Salad
  • Cherry salsa (with various types of chips)
  • Lime-infused coconut pound cake

The evening was grand and we ate too much. I’ve watched Episode 1: Public Relations three times already. (What? I’m still on vacation. Thank you, TiVo!) I’m looking forward to episode 2/season 4 this coming Sunday, and hanging with my great girlfriends.

I’ll let you know what I cook up with this week. And based on how the mini-cakes turned out, I may be cooking side-by-side with my mother-in-law. There’s nothing wrong with a little supervision!


Multigenerational Living – the family calendar

For any working parent, the issue of time is important. Time to wake up, get to work, make meetings, home for dinner, etc.

Well, for people who are retired, staying on a schedule can be less of an issue.  And when retired people live with those who work, this can be both a blessing and a challenge.

The blessing is that my retired parents have time on their hands to enjoy their grandkids, be present in the moment, and for the most part, not worry about where they need to be.  (Though they remain militant about the evening news – do all people over 65 have to hear every word Brian Williams utters starting at exactly 5:30?)

I marvel at and am grateful for the fact that my dad can sit in the playroom for hours with my son and work on his trains, and that my mom will sit with my daughter as she reads, or bakes with the kids and lets them hold the hand-mixer, measure ingredients, etc.

The challenge can occur when their less rigorous schedule comes in contact with our daily careers.

My husband and I have days that can be a little unpredictable and “on-the-fly” changes to our schedule can be tough on my parents.  Anyone with a 5 and 7 year old knows there is a certain amount of fluidity to any day, but my mom and dad, though they have all the time in the world, appreciate a certain predictability.  They like to know what to expect. (And I fully admit, this is a facet of MY parents, others might be far more free-wheeling.)  I can tell it frustrates them when I call and say I am running late – hell, it frustrates me, too.

The one thing that keeps me sane is our family calendar. I actually love printing it out and giving it to my dad because he will examine it thoroughly and ask questions about deviations to the schedule – “should we get the kids dinner this night?” or “your mom has a doctor’s appt this day so we can’t pick up the kids from school” or “really – you are traveling to the upper peninsula of Michigan for work?”

This seems to be the one tool that puts them at ease – if it is written down, they know what is happening.  In fact, it is not uncommon for my dad to remind me of things on the calendar.

So, as the new school year is approaching, I am getting organized and updating the family calendar – maybe you are, too?  This will, in the end, save everyone a headache and should allow my parents to watch the evening news regularly – for which I can only say – thank goodness – we would all suffer otherwise.  😉

a multigenerational approach to parenting

Before I get started on this subject, which could be sensitive, let me say that my family is pretty basic – college graduates, married, kids, careers, etc.  I am sure that my 2 brothers and I recall “incidents” from our childhood that were yuck – but overall – our childhood was fun and it was good – we love each other.

We were lucky for many reasons – our parents were focused on our education, we traveled and participated in ballet/sports/after school stuff and they were supportive of us – even though we sometimes acted as if we had not a brain in our heads.  My dad had little patience for bad grades or behavior, but my mom rarely raised her voice and often ran interference with my dad when we took stupidity to a new level. 

So here we are in 2010, my husband, our 2 kids, and my parents all sharing a house.  There are bound to be differences in the way my husband and I raise our children in comparison to the way in which I was raised, right?  Our ages alone would suggest that “when our kids were young…” could be the go-to phrase for my parents while illustrating our shortcomings as a mom and dad. 

But quite happily, it has not turned out that way.  In fact, my parents are down right “hands-off” when it comes to passing judgment on the way we parent our son and daughter.  And they do not get involved with discipline unless we are not home. 

Based on their reactions, there have been occasions where I could tell they disagreed about the way my husband and I were dealing with a discipline issue.  However, I give them credit, they do not chime in with their 2 cents…and I think that makes a huge difference in our comfort level in having them in the house and spending so much time with our children.  They respect the way we parent our kids and do not interfere – and for the most part, they enforce our standards when we are not at home.  It would be terribly hard to have to parent our children and then justify the way we do that to my mom and dad. 

Ironically, it is my dad who now has the patience of Job as a grandfather and asks if he can go into their rooms and talk with his grandkids when they are in trouble?  To which I answer, NO – they are in TIMEOUT!!! and where in the world was this calm head of yours when I was a kid?

I think we got lucky because I am certain that we never really discussed the issue of parenting styles before we all moved into one house.  But don’t take that chance – I highly recommend talking about this before anyone else takes the multigenerational household plunge.

living successfully with my dad means living with lots of golf

For me, a major element in succesful multigenerational living is a clear understanding that there are certain things about my parents that do not, have not, and will not change.  

Case in point – my dad is a life-long, passionate golf aficionado.   

My dad's Father Day dinner - eaten during the final round of the US Open


My childhood is peppered with family memories on the links – courses from Arizona to California.     

Today, just like when I was a kid, there are times of the year where my dad spends Thursday through Sunday locked in front of the TV.  He will listen to the scintillating commentary of Johnny Miller, Nick Faldo and Jim Nantz, his favorite golf analysts, lean one way or another in an attempt to help out with a little “body English” of his own on a putt or drive from his favorite player, and provide his own opinions on golf swings, attire of the players and general golf gossip.   

Nearly every day of the year, there are golf tournaments on TV,  but The Masters, US Open, British Open, and PGA Championships the four majors he watches religiously.  During these tournaments, his attention is laser-focused on the flat screen.  

In other words, do not try to talk with my dad when the TV is on – commercials OK,
but not during the coverage, no way.   

Therefore, unlike the other 48 weekends of the year, my children’s wandering downstairs to play with or hang out with my parents is met with less enthusiasm than usual.  Thankfully for my kids, my mom is less interested in golf than my dad!   

It is very similar to when I was a child.  My mom would warn me “this is not the time to ask your father that” during these four sacred events.  I would listen to her, most of the time, but I would push it as far as I could.  She was and still is right – a golf tournament is probably not the time to interact with my dad.   

I happily admit that my father has mellowed with age – he is more likely to let my kids interrupt him, but for the most part, he is the same.  He wants to watch, listen to, and soak up every moment of the action.  And then dissect the action with my brothers.  (Whether there really is action in golf is another subject all together…)   

So if you are contemplating a move to or in with family, one cliché is worth repeating; times may change but people rarely do. 

The peony and living with my parents – there really is a connection….

The peony is my favorite flower of all time.  Lucky for me, they are very popular in cooler climates and grow easily in Colorado.  I was happy to live in a place where I could try my hand at caring for them; I planted a peony bush the first spring we lived here. 

The next June, there were 7 of the delicate pink, buds that bloomed into stunning, deliciously fragrant flowers.  I could not have been happier with my novice attempt at gardening.

There must be something genetic in my family about this flower, because it is also my mom’s favorite and, upon catching a scent of the peony, my daughter said it smelled like, “heaven.”

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With the success of the first peony, my mom and dad bought another and planted it in another spot in the back yard.  That was fine with me, the more peonies, the better.  I could have an entire backyard full of them and be quite happy. 

When the second one bloomed, my daughter declared it was “Honey’s peony.”  (All 8 of my mom’s grandkids call her “Honey.”)  My mom laughed and said something like, “well, I think it would be better if we all cared for them – that way we can all enjoy them!” 

And I think that is a pretty decent analogy for the reason I live in a multigenerational household – turns out, it’s good for all of us.

Twilight: Eclipse – a multigenerational experience

First off – Kanesha and I are members of Team Edward – just had to start there…    

We went to see Eclipse together on opening night and hardly a shock here – we loved it.  We especially loved Edward – but that is so easy.  Of course the marketing juggernaut that is Hollywood is everywhere – including our local Nordstrom, Target and TJ Maxx!   

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So, rather than post a review of the movie, we wanted to comment on the many newly observed multigenerational elements of our movie experience…   

Here we are talking before the movie started…   

Photo by Gina Rogers


MJN and KLB pre- Eclipse movie chat click to hear us dish about Eclipse   

As we got to the theater Kanesha said, “I don’t want to push and shove, but I will…”  Good thing we are both always thinking ahead – we had left plenty of time to get our snacks and get our choice of seats.  In fact, we were so early that we ended up chit-chatting with 2 people immediately behind us.   

Turns out it was a grandmother and her 14-year old granddaughter.  Kanesha and I looked at each other knowing right away what the other was thinking – this would be perfect for our blog.  And we were right…   

This turned out to be a multigenerational movie experience: A grandmother and her grand-daughter in the theater together on opening night.   

Then of course we have the Cullens themselves: adults, albeit vampires, who live with their parents and have for decades despite several of them being “married.”   

Then we looked around the theater and people of ALL ages were ticket-buyers – the obvious tweens and moms, but also many grandmothers…  and I am happy to say, a number of grandfathers!   

MJN and KLB Eclipse movie chat after show and more dishing…   

In the end, while we loved the movie, we also had a whole new level of appreciation for what a range of people appreciate the Twilight story-line.  And we loved the many ways in which we “experienced” multigenerational living while gushing over Robert Pattinson!  (face, eyes, jawline, hair, articulation, and voice  just to name a few…)    

Sorry team Jacob members!