Movie Review: Five Feet Apart

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My granddaughter Aubrey spent the night with me Saturday. We enjoyed girl time coloring, watching Netflix and chatting. Sunday morning, when asked what she wanted to do before returning home, Aubrey suggested a movie at the theater.

I loved that idea! Aubrey and I share an appreciation for movies. We enjoy the entertainment aspect, however we also perceive the deeper messages within each film. I allowed my granddaughter to select the movie.

This 10 year old now prefers live action films over animation, a sure sign she is nearing her teens. And her matinee choice certainly demonstrated that. After scanning a couple of reviews, Aubrey chose the teen romance, Five Feet Apart.

Movie Review Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart Cast

This drama romance stars Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moises Arias, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Claire Forlani, Emily Baldoni and Gary Weeks. Directed by Justin Baldoni, Five Feet Apart is based on the book by the same title, written by Mikki Daughtry, Rachel Lippincott and Tobias Iaconis. The film carries a PG-13 rating, for mature themes and mild language, and has a run time of 1 hour and 56 minutes.

Movie Review Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart Storyline

Stella (Richardson) enjoys being with her friends and creating videos to share on social media. She seems to be a typical teenage girl. However, Stella has cystic fibrosis, a genetic life threatening condition that makes breathing difficult and requires frequent stays in the hospital.

Stella’s best friend, Poe (Arias) also has CF. The two met in the hospital as children. They encourage each other through the daily routines, meds and procedures, and both are on the wait list for lung transplants.

Nurse Barb (Gregory) watches over her CF patients with the fierceness of a mother and the compassion of one who has cared for many sick children over the years.

Spending so much time in the hospital, it is perhaps inevitable that Stella creates deep friendships with other CF kids…and that she falls in love with a young man who shares her disease.

Movie Review Five Feet Apart

Will Meets Stella

Will (Sprouse) not only has cystic fibrosis, he carries a bacterial infection in his lungs that makes him ineligible for a lung transplant. During his hospital stay he undergoes experimental treatments in an attempt to clear the bacteria from his lungs. Charming and artistic, Will covers feelings of hopelessness and resignation with humor and nonchalance. He is intrigued by Stella, who long ago took charge of her own health routines and meds schedule. Will gets to know Stella by watching all of her online videos that detail what life with CF is like.

Stella, however, is initially unimpressed with Will. His lack of interest in improving his health baffles and then frustrates her. With Poe working as a mediator between them, Will and Stella gradually become friends. As Stella creates a strict health schedule for Will, and joins him via facetime chats for treatments, their friendship deepens into something more.

Movie Review Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart

Cystic fibrosis patients must observe very strict rules of engagement with each other. The infection in one patient’s lungs can make another CF patient very sick or even cause death. Precautions are necessary. The patients can be around family or healthy friends. However, when in the presence of another CF individual each person must wear gloves, a mask and remain six feet apart at all times.

Because of that rule, Stella and Poe have never hugged or touched each other during their long friendship. As Will and Stella develop feelings for each other they long to hold hands, embrace or share a kiss. Nurse Barb goes on alert when she realizes the teens have fallen in love. She vows not to lose a patient on her watch, and strongly discourages the relationship.

But the teens have experienced enough loss in their short lives. Will’s father left when his infant son was diagnosed with CF. His mother (Forlani) uses all the resources she has to help her son survive. And yet she is emotionally cool and distant, perhaps as a protective measure.

Stella’s mother (Baldoni) and father (Weeks) suffered the heartbreak of losing another daughter, not through cystic fibrosis but because of a tragic accident. That loss and Stella’s illness strains their marriage to the breaking point. They have recently divorced.

Grieving her sister still, and her parents’ breakup, Stella decides life has robbed her of enough. It’s time to take something back. She and Will shorten the distance between them to five feet…five feet apart as determined by a pool stick. Keeping their growing relationship hidden from their parents and Nurse Barb, Stella and Will share their thoughts and feelings about life, illness and death. And they discover that when life keeps you apart, you fight for every inch.

Movie Review Five Feet Apart

My Thoughts on Five Feet Apart

This is a sweet, tender movie that deals with very difficult subjects. I’m glad Aubrey selected this film and that we watched it together. Parts of it are heart wrenching as the characters deal with typical teenage angst plus the heaviness of a serious, life robbing disease.

Five Feet Apart is, over all, an uplifting and hopeful film, with occasional challenges added that create edginess and concern about the outcome. After watching the film, I read that cystic fibrosis patient Claire Wineland worked as a consultant on the film, coaching the young actors in their roles. Richardson, Sprouse and Arias give authentic and moving portrayals of CF patients, thanks to Claire. Sadly, she died in September 2018, suffering a stroke after a successful lung transplant.

While there are moments of hilarity and joy, this is a movie that tugs on the heart emotionally. Aubrey told me after the credits rolled that only two films have made her cry. One was A Dog’s Life. The second film is Five Feet Apart. A few years ago, I would have avoided a movie like this one. Allowing my heart to feel strong emotions and my eyes to fill with sympathetic tears was good for me.

Conversations Around the Movie

In the car I took the opportunity to discuss the film and its themes of life, death, illness, friendship and love with my granddaughter. Aubrey shared her thoughts openly and beautifully and asked questions about cystic fibrosis. We discussed the importance of living life to the fullest, now, and enjoying every moment. And we talked about big topics such as gratitude, anger, sacrifice and acceptance.

Movies are what one makes them to be. They offer entertainment, for sure. And for the open heart and mind, they offer so much more. Aubrey and I left the theater with fresh appreciation for life and love and hope.

Order the book that the move is based upon, by clicking on the photo below:

 

 

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Vision Board Party

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

My mom, sister Linda and I meet every Tuesday evening, sharing a meal, working our way through the book Liver Rescueand creating vision boards. It’s been an extended vison board party! As soon as we finish discussing important info about our livers, we clear the table and go into creative mode.

I’ve made vision boards for years. (Check out this one from 2014 and see how my boards have grown with me.) The last few years, the three of us get together and have fun chatting and laughing as we flip through magazines and cut out images and words that appeal to us. The shared experience helps each of us to focus on what we want. And we help each other search for specific pictures or phrases.

In the past, my oldest grandchild, Dayan, joined us and either created a board of his own or sketched while we cut and pasted. This year my youngest grandchild, Aubrey, created her first board.

Join the party!

Vision Board Party

What is a Vision Board?

These visual keepsakes represent what the creator desires. Writing down hopes and dreams in a journal makes them more likely to manifest. Creating a vision board ups the energy by keeping desires foremost in the mind.

A vision board, or dream board, is a collage of images, words, affirmations and phrases that expresses one’s desires. The board serves as inspiration and motivation and should be kept in a highly visible place so it can be easily seen.

Each board is as unique as its creator. We use magazines, that my mom collects all year, and glue sticks to affix the cut out words and pictures to poster boards. My mom’s hint: visit your local recycling center to see if they have magazines you can have for free.

Vision Board Party

Vision Board Party

The fun part, creating these boards as a group effort, is that we bounce ideas off each other and help to search for elusive words, phrases or pictures. I typically bring along a travel magazine, for the specific purpose of cutting out images from different countries I intend to visit. This year, I forgot to bring one.

I mentioned aloud that I needed travel images. Moments later Mom found beautiful pictures in the magazine she was flipping through, of various locations around the world. Perfect. Before that night’s party ended, I had also found the words “travel”, “explore” and the phrase “there are adventures to enjoy”. In a non-travel magazine, I even found a man in a kilt.

When looking through magazines, I suggest moving quickly and cutting out any picture, word or phrase that snags your attention. You can sort through clippings before gluing down, and discard any that don’t “bring you joy’. Clarity comes, in making choices. Often one of us will ask the other, “Do you want this?” Every yes or no sharpens focus. When it is time to glue cut outs to the poster board, the things we most desires are collected right there in neat little piles.

Here are our completed boards.

Vision Board Party

Vision Board Party

Aubrey’s Vision Board

Aubrey created her vison board on a Saturday afternoon, while spending time with me. She expressed the desire to make a board and I happily obliged. We met at Mom’s and the rest of us worked on our own boards while Aubrey looked through magazines. She asked great questions and knew what she wanted, to represent this year. I cut her board down slightly in size, at her request, so she could complete it in a couple of hours.

Aubrey’s word for 2019 is “Strength”, and her board represent her desire to be a young woman who is strong in all areas of her life. She has a deep love for animals, with dogs being her current favorite. Therefore dogs are prominently displayed on her vision board. In fact, the dog just might be her symbol for the year. These playful animals, descended from wolves, symbolize protection, loyalty, unconditional love and bravery. I love those very qualities that Aubrey possesses.

Aubrey has visual reminders to drink more water and eat healthy meals. Every word, image, phrase and symbol mean something to this bright kid. I love her vision board and that she enjoyed making one. The board tells Aubrey’s story…and the story of who she is becoming. I look forward to seeing future boards from this girl.

Vison Board Party

Linda’s Vision Board

Linda has this vision board making thing down. She knows what she wants and she finds it. Her word for 2019 is “Change”.  I noticed that Linda turns her poster board horizontally, which is perfectly fine. It’s something she does without really thinking about it. I’m sure I could find something symbolic about that!

An interesting feature of Linda’s board is the momma giraffe with her baby. Linda said she doesn’t really know why, but she feels drawn to the giraffe.

Well that’s something I CAN interpret.

The giraffe represents a different perspective on life, and the ability to see surroundings clearly, from a high vantage point. Additionally, the giraffe symbolizes self-acceptance and self-love,  important qualities for all of us to have, and perhaps something my sister is consciously or unconsciously drawn to as well. Giraffe reminds us not to waste a moment wishing to be somebody else, and to celebrate our  beautiful uniqueness.

With its long, graceful neck the giraffe encourages us to not be fearful about “sticking our necks out”. “Go after what you want”, this giraffe seems to say. “Pursue your goals and make your dreams reality.” I think Linda chose a symbol for her year, without being fully aware of why she was choosing it. That’s the power in staying open while creating a vision board.

Vision Board Party

Mom’s Vision Board

I love that my mother actively participates in so many of my adventures. She inspires me, truly. Thus, it is very fitting that her word for this year is “Inspire”. Mom inspires others through her example and in the way she lives her life. She continually learns and grows. This lady is not sitting by in her golden years, oh no. She continues to try new things. I love her adventurous spirit.

I also love that Mom, Aubrey and I all ended up with the word “queen” on our boards. We are a family of queens who know what we want and we aren’t afraid to go after our dreams. There is great power in casting forth visions and we three queens are doing just that…together. How precious to me this is.

Mom’s board captures her desire to create a haven in her backyard for birds and butterflies. Perhaps unintentionally, Mom’s symbol for this year appears to be the butterfly. The butterfly symbolizes beauty through transformation and a time of growth and expansion in life. Butterflies also represent playfulness, lightness of being and a free spirit. My mother embodies those qualities.

Vision Board Party

My Vision Board

I say this every year…and I always mean it. I LOVE MY BOARD! They come together beautifully, year after year. As I’ve shared previously, my word for 2019 is “Enchantment”. Try as I might, I could not find the word in any of the magazines I thumbed through. No problem. I created the word by cutting out the individual letters. Remarkably, I was able to accomplish that using two words I found. The rustic look of the word, arcing over a display of flowers, pleases me.

I could not find my symbol, the queen chess piece, either. However, it was easy enough to find the word, and I located a crown as well. Read about queen symbolism, for me, here.

I’m a bit of a vison board snob. All of the poster board must be covered. Gluing down the cut outs becomes a process similar to working a jigsaw puzzle. I lay out the pieces and move them around until they come together and I’m happy with the result. Then I start at the bottom and glue down each cut out.

Travel pictures and words dominate my board, as that is one of my greatest desires at this time. The typewriter represents writing/blogging. My board tells a story. It captures where I am, at this moment, and the direction I am heading.

My vision board is already hanging in my creative studio, where I can look at it frequently throughout the day.

Create Your Own Vision Board

Vision boards are easy and fun to do. A few tips:

  • Collect magazines, publications or picture books throughout the year. It’s okay too to use markers, coloring pencils or pens to draw designs and write words.
  • If specific pictures can’t be located, print out photos from the computer.
  • Add your own photo, if desired. I’ve done this several times. I’ve also added family members to my boards.
  • Purchase glue sticks during back to school sales. They are incredibly cheap then. Poster boards often end up on sale too. We use  14″x22″ acid free boards, that come in a package of 5. Don’t want to gather all the stuff? Order a Vision Board Kit.
  • Feel free to add other elements, such as fabric, scrapbook cut outs, buttons, whatever makes your heart sing.
  • Gather friends or family members and do this as a group project. It’s a fun way to dream together and encourage one another. Create a party atmosphere.
  • Hang completed vision board up and look at it daily. Feel the emotions attached to the images and words. How we feel about something is as important as what we think.
  • Most importantly…have fun. This is your board. It is a reflection of you.

I’d love to see your vision board, if you create one. Please share it with me!

Vision Board Party

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The Blessings of Grandchildren

Today’s gratitude centered primarily around my grandkids. Other Yayas, Nanas, Mimis and Papas will immediately understand how rich and precious are the blessings of grandchildren. We grandparents store these memories up and treasure them.

Three of my grandchildren were out of school today, providing an opportunity to hang out on this cool and rainy fall day. And I spent a short time with my oldest grandson this morning, before he heads back to the university tomorrow. To the other grandson, who was not out of school, I sent a text this evening, to set up a time to connect. He responded promptly with a sweet reply.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

Discussing Politics

For many people, politics is not a popular topic to discuss right now. However, my college aged grandson loves world and current events, international cultures, geography, and all things political. In our brief time together, we had a wonderful conversation about what’s on the ballot tomorrow.

There weren’t any arguments between us or defensiveness. I enjoyed an informative back and forth conversation and gained insights from Dayan’s perspectives. My gratitude for my grandson and his knowledge and political passion continues to deepen. And I am ready to vote tomorrow in this crucial midterm election.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

Together We Build

Joey, Oliver and Aubrey are fun to spend a day with. They are close enough in age to connect well and relate well to each other, and at the same time they’re utterly unique individuals. The weather encouraged us to stay snug inside. I enjoyed lively conversations, humorous stories and watching the three of them create in the game Minecraft.

The split screen allows each child to monitor their own progress and also interact with each other. I’m impressed by their building skills. And I’m grateful for the way these kids form a family unit that is grounded in love. Sure, they bicker occasionally, as siblings do. But they have each other’s backs, in virtual realities and in real life.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

Spoons Card Game

After Minecraft and game controllers, the kids opted for a good old fashioned card game. I’ve never played Spoons before and my grandchildren were excellent teachers. It’s not a reflection on them at all, that I lost!

Spoons, also known as Pig or Tongue, is a fast-paced game of matching. It is played with an ordinary pack of playing cards and several kitchen spoons or other objects. We used plastic knives.

The game is played in multiple rounds, and each player’s objective is to grab a spoon. No spoon may be grabbed until one player has collected four of a kind, but once the first player to get a four of a kind grabs a spoon, all players may immediately reach out to attempt to grab one. No player may grab more than one spoon at a time.

As in the game musical chairs, there is always one less spoon than there are players, so one player will always be left without a spoon. Depending on the variety of game being played, that player either loses the game and is eliminated, or continues playing but loses a point. When two players are left and one person gets four of a kind, it doesn’t matter who gets the spoon. At that point, whoever gets it the fastest wins.

This was a fun game, easy to learn and yet challenging to quickly get four of a kind as cards are rapidly passed around to the players, and no one knows what set of four the others are trying to collect. I appreciate the kids alternating between their video games (are they even called that anymore?) and group games we could all participate in.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

Who Wants to Make a Logo?

At one point in the afternoon, all four of us were on our phones, sharing photos and info. I introduced the kids to the Canva App, and let them study the logos and graphics I’d made. In a short time they each had Canva downloaded on his or her phone.

We had fun discussing ideas and playing creatively. In a few minutes the kids had mastered techniques that took me multiple sessions to get the hang of. Oh, the power of a young brain! I’m grateful for their sharp minds and also their artistic abilities.

I love their eagerness to try new creative projects. Joey put together a Kansas City Chiefs meme, complete with a short poem he wrote. Oliver, whose nickname is Bear, created a bear themed wallpaper that he edited with special effects. He added his completed project to his phone, as a background graphic. And Aubrey texted her finished work to me as I drove home. She came up with a darling logo.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

Thrive, the Art of Entertaining

This last gratitude has nothing to do with grandchildren. I received a magazine in the mail that I paused to thumb through, after I arrived home this evening.

Thrive is a plant based magazine, full of recipes, articles and gorgeous photos. The Nov/Dec issue features The Art of Entertaining. There are ideas for the holidays and gatherings and sumptuous meals. I’ll read through every page soon, however this evening it was wonderful to preview the magazine with a quick scan. I’m grateful for publications that focus on health and wellness without sacrificing beauty.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

These kids, these smart, funny, clever, creative blessings called grandchildren, certainly brightened my day and enlarged the boundaries of my mind and heart. I treasure each one. I value each child and look forward to seeing all that they accomplish in their lives.

The blessings of grandchildren are as varied as the kids are, as endless as their possibilities, and as beautiful as their soulful eyes. I am richly blessed indeed. And I am honored to be their Yaya.

The Blessings of Grandchildren

Making Butter Slime

I’ve had the joy today of having granddaughter Aubrey with me. She’s an artistic, creative kid who enjoys drawing, making things and using technology to create videos. With rainy weather moving in this afternoon, limiting outdoor activities, she suggested we make something together.

We decided on DIY slime, a craft project that is all the rage right now with children.

As Aubrey put it, “Slime is the new silly putty.”

Making Butter Slime

We found a recipe on Pinterest that uses only 3 ingredients.

Butter Slime

1 1/2 cups of Elmer’s White Glue

Approximately 14 tablespoons of Sta Flo liquid starch

1 package soft modeling clay, any color

In a large bowl, add liquid starch, one tablespoon at a time, to glue, stirring well after each spoonful, until mixture pulls away from the bowl and holds together. We used 14 tablespoons. Remove slime from bowl and knead on a flat surface, for several minutes, until slime is smooth and elastic. If it’s too sticky, return to the bowl and add more liquid starch. If it’s too dry, add a small amount of water or a small amount of glue. Let slime rest on a flat surface for one hour.

Combine soft clay and slime by laying clay on top of slime and kneading together until fully mixed. Store in an air tight container or zip lock gallon sized bag.

Making Butter Slime

Not only did Aubrey successfully create a slime that is smooth and stretchy and soft as butter, she did so live on video. Like many kids her age, Aubs is a big fan of YouTube videos. Under my supervision, she created a how-to video. You can view her video HERE.

I appreciate Aubrey’s creative nature and her desire to try something new. We had fun, making slime, capturing it on video, and then learning how to edit the video using a new app I downloaded. Other than the fact that’s it took a very long time to upload the video onto YouTube, Aubrey is pleased with the whole process and the final result. And that’s all that matters!

Making Butter Slime

Aubrey’s Memory Walk Through Toys R Us

A couple of weeks ago, I received a text message from my granddaughter, Aubrey. It read:

Aubrey’s Memory Walk Through Toys R Us

My heart ached a little. Although my grandchildren are at the ages where Toys R Us is no longer their primary destination when we shop, that huge toy store holds many precious memories that represent hours of fun.

At that time, the company was still struggling to survive. The Joplin store was not on the close list. I shared that fact with Aubrey. But I knew and she knew that the future was uncertain for the toy store.

When the news broke that final attempts to save the company had failed, I felt like I needed to let this bright girl know. Her response was immediate:

Aubrey’s Memory Walk Through Toys R Us

When Aubrey needed a pick up from school today, I knew how we would spend our time together. My granddaughter wanted to say good bye to Toys R Us.

Aubrey’s Memory Walk Through Toys R Us

As we arrived in the parking lot, Aubrey commented, “This store is my childhood!” Right she is. She has been visiting Toys R Us since babyhood. As a toddler, I couldn’t drive anywhere near the store without her begging to go in and “just look”.

She knew she didn’t get a toy every time we visited. That didn’t diminish her joy. Aubrey truly did enjoy walking up and down the aisles, examining toys that drew her attention, holding them and studying them. It was in Toys R Us that I first noticed this sensitive child using a technique that author Marie Kondo describes in her bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Marie suggests holding an item and asking, “Does this bring me joy?” If it does, the item is kept.

I would watch as Aubrey held a toy. “This doesn’t ring my bell” she would declare as she set the toy back on the shelf. If the item did ring her bell, I took a photo of it, for future possible purchase for a special event such as her birthday.

Aubrey’s Memory Walk Through Toys R Us

Today we did as we have always done. I let her take the lead and I followed her, watching as she wandered slowly through this familiar place, listening to her chatter. Aubrey was a bit sad, which made me sad for her. She’s reached an age, as have all my grandchildren, where impermanence is realized. Things can change. What once was fades away or closes its doors.

She talked about memories and her mood lightened as we laughed about past experiences. Aubrey loved to get a head-start on her birthday, picking out toys months before the big day. She shopped here for her brothers and her cousins, and picked out Star Wars collectibles for Christmases past, for her dad.

Aubrey’s Memory Walk Through Toys R Us

We ended up at the back of the store. Although she is almost too tall to fit now, Aubrey likes to sit in the battery operated cars located on the back wall. She was thoughtful as she walked along the row of pint sized cars, remembering. She selected a firetruck to climb into and sat for a short time, lost in thought.

I allowed her to pick out a toy, for old times sake. With most of the items marked down 30%, there were plenty of bargains. In her typical fashion she went through a selection process. She no longer comments on each toy by saying whether or not it rings her bell. Nevertheless she is still looking for the joy it gives her…or doesn’t give her. Aubrey made her choice based on how the toy made her feel.

Suddenly, she was ready to go. I had not put any time limits on our visit. I left that up to her. We took our purchase to the front registers. Aubrey engaged our check out person in conversation, telling the young man that this was her childhood store and she was sad to see it close. He sympathized and remarked that he was sad too. He shared with us that there is the tiniest of chances that the chain will be bought. I don’t think Aubrey put much hope in his statements but she was polite as she listened to him.

Aubrey’s Memory Walk Through Toys R Us

As we left the store, we carried out one final Toys R Us tradition. I dug quarters out of my purse so Aubrey could buy a trinket from one of the vending machines. It’s something I’ve always done with the grandkids. We had to stop on our way out today too.

Over a quick dinner before I took her home, Aubrey and I talked…about the store closing and anything else that came to her mind. She’s a wise child, an old soul, knowledgeable beyond her years with strong intuitive and empathetic abilities. She may get to visit Toys R Us again before the doors close for the last time. But if she doesn’t, she is satisfied with today’s memory walk. She is sad, and yet she knows life goes on and that change is part of the journey.

This girl has been a Toys R Us kid. The store has been a constant in her life, and an important part of her childhood. There is sadness in her, mixed with nostalgia. And yet, at age nine, she doesn’t really consider herself a child anymore. In her mind, she’s almost ten, and that’s almost a teenager. Her reasoning makes me smile, and brings a tear to my eye.

Aubrey’s Memory Walk Through Toys R Us

Joy Multiplied

I truly do love this time of year. From the big family Halloween party at the end of October, to the beginning of a shiny New Year, this is a season of incredible joy and special connections and marvelous fun. At the center of it all is family.

I spent the afternoon and evening with granddaughter Aubrey, on outing two of five of the annual Yaya and Grandchild Christmas shopping tradition.

I can tell my grandchildren are growing up, beyond my observations of how tall they are getting or how mature our conversations have become. Their shopping habits are changing.

As she did for her birthday shopping trip, Aubrey avoided the toy store for our Christmas outing, preferring the mall and a big box type store. She shopped wisely and with great care for her family members, not wanting to waste any time in shops that did not have what she was looking for.

She did pause to point out a cute outfit, in case I needed any gift ideas for her. However, her focus, for the most part, was on others and surprising them with thoughtful purchases.

I love these one on one excursions with each grandchild, following them as they browse, listening to their chatter and observing their gift selection process. Each child is unique and has his or her own way of making decisions.

Aubrey chose Popeye’s for dinner, hungry for their cajun chicken, mildly seasoned for her, mac & cheese and biscuits. We continued conversations we had started in the car, including one on the serious topic of bullying. I questioned her about bullying in her school, and was relieved by her answer. However, we discussed the importance of standing up for ourselves and for others who are being picked on, and that it is always okay to talk to an adult if she notices a child being treated unkindly.

After that conversation, Aubrey found a yellow wrist band on the sidewalk outside of a store, with “No bullying” written on it. She asked about the big word that describes when things connect unexpectedly, leading to a chat about synchronicities! I love the interesting flow of life, and I love Aubrey’s heart.

At my house Aubrey made quick work of wrapping her gifts, writing her own gift tags and selecting bags and tissue paper. And then it was time to take her home, after a successful and fun evening.

I thought again tonight about how magical this season is. For me there is deep gratitude, a recognition of blessings and Divine guidance, and appreciation for gifts that cannot be wrapped, only experienced and held in the heart.

I love the sights and sounds of Christmas, the crisp cold air, the warmth of home, the joy that surrounds me and overflows my heart. And, that joy is magnified and multiplied by these grandchildren who share shopping trips and stories and meals and dreams with me. This is my favorite part of the most wonderful time of the year.

The Heart of My Day

My day has been spent being Yaya to two of my grandchildren. As a grandmother, that is one of the best ways I can spend my time, investing in my grandkids and being loved by them.

Grandson Jonathan and I kicked off the yearly Christmas Shopping with Yaya tradition. I take each of the grandkids out to purchase gifts for their family members and treat them to the meal of their choice.

Jonathan is an excellent shopper who knows what he wants to buy for his family, and he wastes no time in accomplishing this task. We chatted as we made several stops, and Jonathan introduced me to Snapchat, creating a profile for me as I drove. This young man is my techie grandchild, and I laughed as he crafted a bitmoji to represent me.

Jonathan has such a tender heart as well. As we pulled into the Walmart parking lot, he noticed a family holding up a hand lettered sign, asking for gas money. We purchased Christmas gift bags and tissue paper in the store…and picked up a gift card to give to the family as we left. This was Jonathan’s idea, and I was happy to encourage and support his generosity.

We grabbed carry out lunches from Applebee’s and returned to the house to wrap gifts and watch an episode of Stranger Things together.

I appreciate Jonathan. He is smart, funny and easy to talk to. He has big ideas and he is working on being able to carry them out. Someday he will be creating apps that make life easier or more fun for people. In the meantime, he is expanding his compassionate heart by being mindful of others and making a difference where he can.

This evening my granddaughter Aubrey joined me for a sleep over. It’s been a while since she has spent the night and both of us were excited about this special treat. Her thoughts about it…”We are having a granddaughter and grandmother slumber party. Some might find that weird. I think it’s fun!” I agree, Aubrey.

This beautiful girl is growing up. As we dined together at Texas Roadhouse she kept up a very mature chatter about school, football, friends and movies. Her current favorite film is 47 Meters Down, a shark flick. Aubrey has interesting and refreshing views about life, people and situations and I always enjoy a conversation with her.

I left my phone unattended for a few minutes, and found this surprise as my new background!

Aubrey knows her way around a cell phone as well, and offered to further my education in Snapchat. After donning our pjs and getting ready for bed, Aubrey gave me some quick lessons in using this photo based app. We laughed over the special effects and she patiently led me through creating my first Snapchat pic.

These kids are precious to me. I enjoyed spending my day divided between two of the grandkids. This week I will set up times to take the rest of my group shopping for Christmas gifts. That’s a fun activity, watching how thoughtfully and carefully each child shops. The greater joy though is just spending time with them, hearing their thoughts, learning what’s important to them, and encouraging them to follow their hearts.

Yaya is a sacred title to me. I am blessed to bear that name in honor of these five adventurous souls.

Birthday Dinner & Shopping with Aubrey

This evening it was Aubrey’s turn to be treated to a birthday dinner and a shopping trip. She will be nine years old on Halloween day. I began this tradition several years ago, of taking each of my five grandchildren out for a special evening to celebrate their birth. It has become a wonderful time of sharing and listening and being together, one that the kids anticipate and that I do as well.

Aubrey selected Chicken Mary’s, in Pittsburg Kansas, as her dinner destination. Normally these outings just include the grandchild and me. Because of my knee slipping out of place yesterday, Greg volunteered to join us and drive. Aubrey was delighted.

I’ve never seen this child eat as much as she did at our early dinner. Chicken Mary’s was a good choice for her, with their home style meals and plenty of food. I was able to enjoy a salad with the chicken on the side, so that Aubrey could take it home for her lunch tomorrow.

Back in Joplin, Greg dropped Aubrey and me off at the mall for the birthday shopping, promising to pick us up when we were finished. This is the part of the celebration that the kids most look forward to. I give them a specific amount to spend, and they can use the cash to purchase what they want or they can save it. They typically spend most of it, and that is perfectly fine.

I can tell my granddaughter is getting older. This is the first time she has chosen the mall for her birthday shopping trip, rather than the toy store. She wanted girl stuff…jewelry, a billfold, a unicorn, small items for her school backpack. And an experienced shopper she is. I loved watching her examine items she was interested in, looking for the wow factor, weighing the cost of the item against the gratification. She kept up an amusing chatter the whole time.

This girl loves her fake fashion glasses!

What an almost nine year old girl’s shopping basket contains.

Aubrey settled on Claire’s Boutique, and struck gold here. A big sale meant her birthday cash went further. We visited several other stores in the mall, but this one drew her back. The young female clerk did an amazing job of assisting Aubrey, and every other customer who walked into the shop, with genuine warmth and obvious joy. She and Aubrey connected well over their discussion of animals.

This child, who is rapidly approaching her teens, has a big heart and such profound insights. In her I see echoes of myself, and Aubrey likes to discuss all the ways we are alike. In her I see a boldness and a fearlessness that has taken me years to cultivate. In me she sees a woman who tries new things and makes her dreams come true. She believes anything is possible, and that she can become whatever she wants to become. I agree with her.

At the girls’ clothing store, Justice, Aubrey discovered a writing table set up, with the question posted, What makes your family special? She carefully wrote her answer on the star shaped note and stuck it to the display.

LOVE she wrote. Love makes her family special. Love fills Aubrey’s heart and overflows to touch her family members and her friends and even the kind clerk she just met at Claire’s. Love is woven into her very soul. Aubrey receives it, accepts it and just as easily offers it to others.

Happy birthday, a few days early, sweet child. I appreciate the love that you so freely bestow upon me. Someday I hope you can understand how much healing you have brought into my heart and soul, just by being you. I love you!

Home of the Tigers

On this gorgeous Saturday, I enjoyed watching three of my grandchildren participate in sporting events. Because of work and my recent travels, this was my first opportunity to watch granddaughter Aubrey cheer and grandsons Joey and Oliver play Tiger football. This was also my first time to watch the kids play and cheer within the beautiful new stadium built recently near the Carthage High School.

Here are highlights from the fun day:

I was grateful for my son and daughter-in-law’s pop up canopy that provided shade from the bright sunshine!

A peek at the new scoreboard during Joey’s game…and a vibrant field.

Joey didn’t get to play today. That’s him, number 4, cheering his team on and helping out from the sidelines. He is wearing a brace on his left leg. And the boy on crutches at the other end? That boy and Joey collided during a game two weeks ago. Joey injured his knee. The other boy suffered a broken ankle. Ouch for both of them!

Joey stretching out his leg. I was proud of my grandson. Although he didn’t play, he was attentive and encouraging and helped out by carrying water and tossing the football out. Joey’s team didn’t win but they played earnestly and well.

Watching Joey’s game.

Game 2, and Oliver takes the field as one of the team captains. He is number 3. This is Oliver’s second year to play, and what a difference a year makes. His team plays very well together, under the direction of excellent coaches.

Most of the time, Oliver plays on the defensive line. He is scrappy, and defends very well, blocking players on the other team and tackling, as necessary. His team won their game, without allowing the other team to score.

I appreciate how my son and daughter-in-law show up for their kids, cheering them on and being witnesses to their lives. Nate, who is a sergeant with the police department, was working today. That didn’t prevent him from stopping by the stadium to watch a little bit of the boys’ games and see his daughter cheer.

This is Aubrey’s first year as a cheerleader, although she has been observing and practicing in the bleachers for the last two years. She cheered with her squad during Oliver’s game and it was fun to watch both of them.

At halftime, the girls took to the field to perform a special cheer. I videotaped it, being the first time I’ve had opportunity to watch this darling girl and her friends cheer. You can watch their performance HERE.

I know the kids keep their parents busy, with practices every evening, except Fridays, and games on Saturdays. Nate and Megan are investing in their kids, allowing them to pursue interests and develop skills, and also determine what engages and calls to them next.

I’m proud of all of my grandchildren, for going after the things that are important to them. And I’m proud of my children, for parenting well, with their hearts, with their time and energy, with their presence.

It was a good day for football. It was a good day to be with family.

Tiger…Tiger

My intention in the last six days, has been to have lunch with each grandchild at his or her school. I have two reasons. This is the start of a new academic year and I enjoy visiting the kids at their schools and bringing them the lunches of their choice. And, I leave this Thursday on my trip to Ireland, Scotland and England. I wanted to see each of the grandkids before I go.

Last year, the four younger grands were in four different schools, requiring four separate lunch dates. This year, the younger two, Oliver and Aubrey, are in the same school. Today I met them in their cafeteria.

I am a frequent visitor to this school. They know me here. The school principal is the most interactive elementary school principal I have ever met. As I waited for Aubrey, who had the earlier lunch time, I watched with appreciation as he led second graders in songs and games. Wearing a mic, he wandered among the kids as they ate, calling them by name, asking questions, instigating fun. This school is quite a contrast to most that I’ve visited. Kids are allowed to chat and laugh as long as the noise level is kept tolerable.

Aubrey arrived and joined me at the lunch table. She requested a Jr Cheeseburger meal from Wendy’s. I noted her pink cheeks. She started cheerleading this year and spent Saturday cheering at Oliver and Joey’s football games. This bright eyed girl chatted about her school year and her schedule, cheerleading, making new friends and her family. She asked me about my upcoming trip and made me laugh when she asked if Scottish people wear clothes! She thought perhaps I might be wearing just my “birthday suit”.

The lunch schedule changed this year to an overlapping one for the grades, and I like it! That meant I had 15 minutes with Aubrey alone, and then Oliver’s 4th grade class arrived. For 10 minutes I got to be with both kids, one on each side of me. And then I had 15 minutes alone with Oliver. How perfect!

It was fun to be sitting between two spirited Tigers, which is the school’s mascot. Their colors are blue and white. The kids not only chatted with me, they enjoyed chatting with each other. The conversation turned to Halloween and costumes. In my family, it is never too early to discuss Halloween…and that day is Aubrey’s birthday as well! The theme for the family Halloween party is Criminal Insane Asylum, which promises to be spooktacular! Aubrey, Oliver and I were whispering about costume ideas and got the giggles as kids turned to listen in on our conversation. The school cafeteria is probably not the best place to be talking about insane historical figures!

Aubrey left with her class, after multiple hugs. I am thrilled she is having a great start to third grade.

As Oliver ate a Taco Bell lunch, he asked me lots of questions about real estate: What houses have I shown this past week? Which was my favorite? What is the biggest house I’ve been in? What house was the scariest? Oliver is the businessman/idea creator among my grandkids. He likes to think about new adventures and creative ideas. We were looking at houses together on the MLS, seriously, when it was time for him to go. He gave me a big hug and then politely tidied up our eating space before joining his classmates.

I am equally thrilled that Oliver is having a great school year and enjoying his second season of Tiger football.

I have one more lunch with one more grandchild. Tomorrow I join Joey at his school. I am grateful for these opportunities to visit with the kids, hear about their big little lives and get to know their teachers and friends. I am honored to be a witness to their journeys and to walk alongside them.