Christmas Shopping with Aubrey

Today it was Aubrey’s turn for shopping with Yaya. My only granddaughter had been patiently waiting all week for her opportunity to share a meal together and shop for her family. Keeping an eye on developing winter weather, I picked Aubrey up a bit earlier than planned and off we went. 

For our lunch, Aubrey selected one of her favorite restaurants, Golden Corral. This little old soul loves a good buffet! All her favorites were offered this afternoon…ham, fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, and grapes. I was able to enjoy a plate of fresh raw veggies followed by a plain baked potato and steamed Brussels sprouts and carrots. No trip through the buffet is complete, for Aubrey, without visiting the chocolate fountain. She finished her meal with several marshmallows dipped in the smooth liquid chocolate. 

I love Aubrey’s heart for others. She likes to leave a personal note to our waitress, along with a generous tip 

As we left the restaurant, tiny snowflakes were falling, mixed with rain that was bordering on freezing. I don’t like to rush my grandchildren during these special outings. However, as the weather deteriorated, I knew we were going to have to shop quickly. I did not want to risk being in a car accident with Aubrey on board. We asked for Divine protection as we carefully drove to Toys R Us. 

Aubrey understood the situation, and she was up to the challenge. She did a remarkable job of selecting great gifts at two different stores, in record time. Like Oliver and Joey, she was thoughtful as she hunted for the perfect gifts, and enjoyed imagining the reactions of the recipients of her presents. As she does when she is choosing items for herself, Aubrey employs a technique we call, “does this ring my bell”, when she buys for others. She holds the object. And then passes on it or keeps it. Although she may not understand why she does this simple test, she is checking, energetically, to see if the item brings her joy, or when shopping for others, will they experience joy. I love how aware she is. 

At my house, Aubrey wrapped gifts. We had to postpone wrapping a gift for her cousin/best friend, London. And wait on doing another project. I’ll make up for the shortened time, and allow this sweet girl to finish up, one afternoon next week when the weather is better. After hamming it up for a photo, we loaded gifts into the car and set out again into the freezing rain and cold wind. 

I am grateful to Greg for driving us to Carthage. The sidewalks, parking lots and roads were becoming slick as the drizzle froze into thin sheets of ice. The windshield wanted to ice up too. We safely delivered Aubrey and made a slow and careful return trip to Joplin. I am grateful, always, for Divine protection. 

I managed to get one selfie of Aubrey and me, in the car. She snapped the pic for me. I really appreciated her good attitude this afternoon and her ability to shift and go with the flow. She didn’t complain once about having to rush our time together. Rather, she graciously adapted. And made the most of the time we did have. 

I am so blessed with the grandchildren I have. Rain or shine, good or bad weather, expected or unexpected circumstances…it is so amazing to journey with them. 

Christmas Shopping with Joey

Today it was grandson Joey’s turn to have a meal with me and go shopping for Christmas gifts for his family. When I talked to Joey earlier in the week, after Oliver and I returned from his excursion, he hoped we could spend a long time together. He didn’t want to have to rush his decision making process, and he sweetly said he wanted the one on one time with me to last all day. 

Joey’s wishes for more time together came true! His school ended up having an early out today. I was able to pick him up and start our Yaya and Grandchild time two hours earlier than we had planned. These are important lessons to experience, that what we sincerely desire with a whole heart can create shifts that birth our hopes into reality. 

Joey was hungry when I picked him up from school, so our first stop was at Chili’s Restaurant in Joplin. While we waited for our lunches to arrive, we played Monopoly on the table top device. Joey loves this board game, and it was fun to try out an electronic version, which moved at a much faster pace than the standard version. 

I did so well rolling the virtual dice, and rolling in pretend money, that Joey and I joked about making our next stop the casino! Truthfully, gambling isn’t something I desire to teach my grandson about. But we laughed over my accumulating stash of electronic funds and discussed what we would do if we had that kind of cash. Joey, who is so compassionate, said he would buy everyone bigger presents for Christmas!

Joey knew exactly what he wanted to purchase for his family, and where he wanted to shop. After a leisurely lunch, we planned our route and began shopping, making stops for the desired purchases and making sure we included a pit stop for a cold drink. 

I enjoy following the kids around as they shop. Each child puts a great deal of thought into the gift selection process. Contary to when I take them out for their birthday dinners and shopping trips, this time of year, it is all about thinking of others and what they like. Not one child asks to buy anything for themselves. The focus is on what would light up a parent or sibling’s face and bring them joy. I am grateful that I can be part of allowing the kids to do something special for their families. 

Shopping completed, Joey made quick work of wrapping the gifts. I was delighted, watching as he wrote on the gift tags. He didn’t just write the typical To: and From:. He added words of love, underlining them for emphasis. 

The boy does have a sense of humor too. While helping me pick out extra gift bags at a store, he found the perfect one for his brother’s present. I suddenly noticed that the bag was flawed…the word JOY was upside down. When I pointed out the mistake and reached for another bag, Joey claimed the misprinted one instead. “It’s perfect for my brother,” he laughed. He defended the bag to the clerk who rang us out, and wanted to replace it. And grinned as he slipped Oliver’s gift inside and made sure the name tag hung in such a way to call attention to the upside down JOY. 

His joy, upside down or right side up, was obvious…and contagious. I’m still smiling about it, and my day of shopping with Joey. 

Journey 351: Dinner & Christmas Shopping with Jonathan 

Tonight was the final Grandchild & Yaya excursion as grandson Jonathan and I headed out to shop for Christmas gifts and have dinner together. This bright and entertaining boy was ready when I arrived at his house this afternoon to pick him up, and he knew where he wanted to go. 

We made our first stop at an electronics store. I’m grateful Jonathan is a whiz at all things related to gaming. He politely asked a sales clerk for assistance and then rattled off what he was looking for. She knew that the item he sought had just arrived on a truck and a few minutes later, placed it in his hands. I was impressed! 

Before we stopped at the next store, Jonathan decided it was time for dinner. He chose Cici’s Pizza where he could eat all the pizza that he wanted. We chatted about school and family, video games and YouTube. Jonathan is an intelligent young man who customarily thinks outside the box. He has big ideas and the confidence to pursue an extraordinary life. 


The perfect way, for this kid, to spend a few minutes after dinner. 


I really like this next pic, where his face is reflected in the mirror at the back of the game. 


We finished our shopping at the next store. I enjoyed watching the kids go through the process of gift selection. They think through what they want to buy, keeping in mind what the intended recipient likes. Jonathan touched my heart tonight. He asked if he could pick out a gift for his friend, Eli. Eli’s father passed away this year and this is the boy’s first Christmas without his dad. Jonathan wanted to do something special for his friend. Of course, I said yes…and gave Jonathan a hug. 


What a wonderful experience this has been, taking each of my five grandchildren out for an evening of undivided attention. It was fun to spend time together, and see what they picked out for their families. What I loved most were the conversations, the glimpses into their incredible hearts and minds, the stories they shared about how they view the world and what they hope to do. I look forward to journeying alongside each child as they continue learning and growing. 

My younger daughter Adriel does not have children yet. She does have fur babies. I considered tonight the completion of the shopping trips, but perhaps my granddog Frances might want to go with me to select gifts for her mom and dad!

Jonathan wrapped his gifts and I snapped one more pic before it was time to take him home. As we walked to the car, tiny snowflakes were falling from a dark wintry sky. We turned our faces upward and felt the cold fragments of ice on our cheeks. What a perfect way to end our evening together. Dayan, Jonathan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, I am so blessed to be your Yaya.   


Journey 350: Dinner & Christmas Shopping with Dayan

This evening it was Dayan’s turn to shop for Christmas gifts for his family, and go to dinner with me. I picked him up from school, and as we usually do on Wednesday afternoons, we watched Doctor Who. As of today, I am officially caught on and current on this show, which features the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi. I will be able to watch the Christmas special with Dayan. 


Immediately after the conclusion of the final episode of the season, we headed into Joplin to shop. One difference in taking a 16 year old shopping is that Dayan did all the driving this evening, which was a nice treat for me! As he expertly handled the car, we chatted about Doctor Who, school and where our first stop would be.  

Dayan is my first grandchild, and the oldest of the grandkids. In fact, he was my only grandchild for a while. When he was young, I would take him shopping at Christmas time for his family. He’s always amazed me with his ability to select meaningful, thoughtful gifts, even when he was a wee lad. As he got older, we switched for a time to making gifts for the family. That was fun as well. 

I felt quite nostalgic, taking this grandson, now a young man, out shopping again. As I suspected, he was the fastest shopper so far. He had ideas and those came together rapidly. For the gifts that he was undecided about, plans fell into place with ease, and he was happy with his purchases.

Dayan selected Cici’s Pizza for dinner, a great buffet style restaurant. As we walked in, the manager instructed an employee to lock the door behind us. Cici’s was preparing for a company Christmas party. We were told we could stay and eat. What perfect timing!  

We enjoyed our dinner, and more interesting conversation, in a party atmosphere! There was a Santa handing out gifts to children of the employees, and a steady stream of people carrying in treats and food prepared at home. Dayan and I decided that if one worked at a pizza restaurant, one would want anything but pizza at the company Christmas party. 

I watched Dayan interact with people…servers who were clearing tables and wiping down surfaces, and other staff sweeping floors and cleaning up. He’s always so gracious with others, going beyond politeness to show genuine interest in people. Although we were not pressured at all to eat quickly and leave, we didn’t linger over our meal so that the party could begin in earnest. 

What a great evening with Dayan. Because he is allergic to cats, we did not stop at my house to wrap gifts. Instead, Dayan drove us back to his house and had the pleasure of telling his family to close their eyes while we carried bags of surprises into his room. He will wrap his presents on his own and slip them under the tree. One more child tomorrow night, grandson Jonathan, and that will conclude the Yaya and Grandchild shopping adventures for this year. This has been so fun! 


Journey 349: Dinner & Christmas Shopping with Joey

I had the pleasure of spending the evening with my grandson Joey, as the Yaya and Grandchild shopping sprees continue. I picked this bright boy up from school and off we went on our shared adventure. 


I quickly discovered that Joey is a master shopper. At Toys R Us, he smoothly navigated the crowded aisles, knowing exactly what he wanted to purchase for Aubrey. He was open to what grabbed his attention for Oliver, but wasted no time in looking at anything for himself. He made great choices and out the door we went, on to the next stop.  

Our destination was Hobby Lobby, which was a wonderful idea, as virtually everything was on sale. Most items were marked 50% off, which meant Joey could make his money go much further. I give each of the kids a budget and they are so good at sticking to it. Joey was very money conscious, weighing options carefully before committing to a purchase. 

Our time in this super store was precious. I love how creative Joey is and as we walked around, we discussed art, creativity and how inspiration finds us. We had a magical moment when THE perfect gift appeared before us, at the right price. Magical was Joey’s word and I am so proud that he recognizes synchronicity and the Divine at work. We spent a few extra moments looking at art supplies and drawing books together, discussing projects.  

Shopping completed, Joey chose Cracker Barrel for dinner. Another great choice! As we waited for our meals to arrive, we played with the puzzle at the table. 

And Joey challenged me to a game of checkers. I was not much of a challenge at all, as he beat me soundly!

I enjoyed watching him figure out his next move. 

We had a fun evening together. Joey is a great conversationalist, and we discussed a broad range of topics. He was gracious to others, thanking sales clerks and the server at the restaurant, and polite as he opened doors for others and carried packages for me. 

Presents wrapped, we headed to his house, our evening drawing to a close. Joey made a request, on the way home, that we do more of these Yaya and Grandchild evenings, where he has my undivided attention. I think that’s a great idea. I love having all my grandkids together. And yet Joey’s right, the energy is different when it’s me and a grandchild, having one on one time. I get to hear each child’s conversations at a deeper level, and learn what lights up their bright and earnest faces. I think this Christmas tradition has just become a year long tradition. We can replace shopping with an event that each child would enjoy and then have dinner. To quote Joey, it will be magical!


Journey 345: Dinner & Christmas Shopping with Aubrey

This evening was the second outing with a grandchild to purchase Christmas gifts for family members. It was Aubrey’s turn. When I picked her up from school and told her the plan, she was so excited about the prospect of shopping for others that she decided to get right to selecting gifts, and eat dinner afterward. That’s a big deal, as this child is usually starving after school. 


Time out for a small prize, after selecting great gifts for her brothers at Toys R Us. 

Showing off her backpack tag that says “Hope”, as we enter Target to shop. I let the kids make selections based on what they want to surprise their family with. They each have an amount that they can spend and they do an amazing job picking out gifts. 

Hamming it up with a storm trooper. 


Aubrey chose Golden Corral for dinner. She loves this buffet style restaurant. We talked about school, Christmas and family. She saw a couple of older gentlemen that she knew, friends of her great-grandfather’s. We walked over to say hello.  Walking back to our table, our conversation went like this:

Aubrey: That’s crazy! I’ve seen those guys three times recently. 

Me: What do you think that means, that you keep running into them? (I was thinking about synchronicity and a connection to her great-grandfather, who has passed.)

Aubrey: I think they are stalking me! 

This girl, she makes me laugh. She also warms my heart. Aubrey always has me leave a note to our servers, in restaurants, with the tip. 


We had a fun evening, Aubrey and I. After dinner we wrapped gifts at my house before making gift deliveries and saying goodnight. She kept up a continual conversation that both amused me and surprised me, because of her perceptive insights. 

Three grandkids yet to take shopping. It’s Joey’s turn Sunday evening. I am blessed with these grandchildren, and enjoy spending time with them. We are creating memories. 


Journey 343: Dinner & Christmas Shopping with Oliver

This year I decided to take each of my five grandchildren out individually for an evening of dinner and shopping. It gives the kids the opportunity to select gifts for their immediate family members and allows me precious one on one time with them. Tonight Oliver and I launched the dinner and shopping with Yaya tradition. 


Oliver chose Chik-Fil-A for dinner. We chatted about school, family, friends, and the boy who threw up in class today.  

Shopping got underway at Toys R Us, where Oliver picked out gifts for his siblings. A boy has to have a little fun in the midst of thinking about others.  

This adventurous kid can’t resist jumping through such an inviting structure. 

Perfect landing. 



We had a fun evening, Oliver and I. He made great selections for his family. I loved the thought he put into his choices and his obvious delight in having surprises to put under the tree. He even picked out the gift bags and the two huge bows for Joey’s and Aubrey’s presents. One grandchild has completed his shopping. Four more to go. I love this time of year!