Drawn to the Light

Light is an important theme for me, during the month of December. During this season of the year, the days are short and the nights are long. Pushing back the darkness is accomplished in my home with strings of white lights and almost 100 candles.

Beyond those beacons of light, I am aware of being light to others. I’m conscious of sending out a beam of my own, that can light the way along life’s path.

Having spent a great deal of quality time with my grandchildren this month, I am acutely aware that I am also drawn. I am drawn to the light that their shining hearts and souls broadcast out into the world.

Drawn to the Light

Christmas Shopping

In the past 10 days, I’ve enjoyed spending time with my four grandsons and one granddaughter.

I take each grandchild out to dinner and Christmas shopping for their immediate family members. We practice this custom for their birthdays too although the emphasis shifts for Christmas.

Rather than spending money on themselves, like they do on their birthdays, the children spend money on others. I love watching them reason out what to buy, for whom. Their excitement after they’ve bought and wrapped their selections shines forth from bright faces and sparkling eyes.

Beacons of Light

These outings with the kids give us precious one on one time, when I can focus all my attention on one child. We talk and laugh. I encourage the kids to make decisions that are in alignment with what they want to do and who they are.

I like to think I’m showing them what living in joy and compassion looks and feels like. In reality, they are showing me what freedom looks and feels like, the freedom to express genuine delight in life. They remind me how important it is to play and to be creative.

I am drawn to the light of truth in them, to the ways they are learning to be who they are.

Drawn to the Light

Light of Truth

In the past weeks I’ve appreciated watching the kids shine.

One grandson is expanding his horizons as he continually takes the next right step for his life. He has a specific destination in mind and he inspires me with his unwavering determination to get where he wants to go. I love his fierce and inclusive heart.

Another grandson is mindful of his circle of friends. When I took him Christmas shopping he bought gifts for them as well. He did so not because he expected anything in return but because he wanted to surprise them and encourage them. I love his expansive and generous heart.

Grandson number three is showing first born tendencies by shouldering responsibilities and working to discover his strengths. He’s the child who cleans up and picks up before his mom gets home from work, cares for the pets, and checks in with his siblings to see if they’ve done their chores. I love his reliable and tender heart.

My youngest grandson teeters between childhood and the teen years. I’ve watched him grow in compassion and in the desire to succeed at whatever he does. His birthday happens to fall in December so we’ve enjoyed two Yaya and grandchild outings this month. He used $20 of his birthday money to buy canned goods for people who need help during the holidays. I love his entrepreneurial and compassionate heart.

My granddaughter is becoming her own unique person. She embraces the truth of who she is with courage and steely conviction…and a great sense of humor. Already she’s found her voice and she uses it to tell her story. Kindness is important to her, both receiving it and expressing it. I love her brave and creative heart.

Drawn to the Light

Drawn to the Light

During dinner tonight, Oliver and I discussed the winter solstice that occurs this Friday. We looked up what time sunset would occur…5:04 PM.

On that shortest day and longest night of the year, I’ll click on Christmas lights and light candles throughout the house. I’ll send Light out into the world, along with peace, hope and quiet joy.

In honor of my grandchildren I’ll light a candle for each of them and ask the Divine to bless them and guide them and surround them with the white light of love and protection.

And I’ll express deep gratitude for them. I am drawn to the light that shines brightly from Dayan, Jonathan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey. May I reflect those brilliant beams out into the world.

Drawn to the Light

Giving Tuesday 2018

Giving Tuesday began in 2012. It was created with the intention of balancing out the heavy spending that occurs immediately after Thanksgiving, on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Asha Curran, who dreamed up the idea, hoped to turn people’s attention from two days of consuming to one day of giving. In the last seven years, the idea has spread to 55 countries, globalizing the concept.

In its first year about $10 million was raised online. Last year the total reached $300 million, benefitting tens of thousands of non profit groups and organizations.

I happily participate in Giving Tuesday, shared on social media as #givingtuesday, donating to five or six organizations annually. Today, driving to meet grandson Oliver for lunch at his school, I had a flash of inspiration. I’ve been practicing five daily gratitudes throughout the month of November. I have five grandchildren. What if I let each child choose the organization or group they wanted to donate to? Then I could make a donation in their name.

The grandkids liked the idea! Below are the organizations they chose.

Giving Tuesday 2018

The Trevor Project

Giving Tuesday 2018

This project began in 1994 as a story told on stage and then in a short film. In 1998 the film producers launched the Trevor Lifeline, the first national crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning youth.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of young people in crisis have reached out to The Trevor Project’s multiple in-person and online life-saving, life-affirming resources–Trevor Lifeline, TrevorChat, TrevorSpace and Trevor Education Workshops. Check out The Trevor Project.

This was grandson Dayan’s organization of choice and a donation was made on his behalf.

Giving Tuesday 2018

Kansas Angels Among Us

Giving Tuesday 2018

Located in Pittsburg, Kansas, this organization, founded in 2000, helps to relieve some of the financial burden of utilities, wigs and other needs of cancer patients. Angels Among Us is volunteer based with about 250 volunteers or “angels,” which help raise money for cancer patients.

Founder Diana Polston says that the organization’s volunteers participate in fundraisers with local businesses to raise money throughout the year. One of their biggest fundraisers is the Crawford County Fair Angel Cafe. Check our Angels Among Us.

Grandson Jonathan chose this organization and a donation is on its way, on his behalf.

Giving Tuesday 2018

Haven of Hope Rescue Foundation

Giving Tuesday 2018

Established in 2009, this group based in Oklahoma focuses on saving dogs that have no hope. They do not discriminate based on age, sex, color, breed, length of fur or ability to obey basic commands or stay off the furniture.

To grow and expand, Haven of Hope depends on donations and adoption fees for rescued dogs. Sponsorship of our rescues and donations are greatly appreciated and necessary for them to continue their mission, which truly is . . to Save Dogs! Visit Haven of Hope’s website for more info.

Grandson Joey wanted to support an animal rescue organization. A donation was made on his behalf.

Giving Tuesday 2018

Canned Food Drive for Families in Need

Giving Tuesday 2018

During lunch with Oliver at his school, we discussed Giving Tuesday and my idea of allowing each grandchild to select an organization to donate to. At first Oliver wanted to check out sports program for youth.

Then he remembered that his class is collecting canned goods to donate to local groups that will distribute baskets to needy families. He asked if we could help with that project. Of course we can!

I used the money I would have donated on Oliver’s behalf to purchase canned goods. I’ll deliver these to Oliver so he can take them to school. Contact Crosslines Ministries of Joplin to donate canned goods.

Giving Tuesday 2018

Legacy of Hope Dog Rescue

Giving Tuesday 2018

My family in the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma area is involved with this organization. The group rescues dogs in dangerous, hopeless or needy situations and places them in foster care with sponsors until they are ready for adoption.

They envision a community knowledgeable about dog preventative health and behavior training, leading to empty shelters. Low cost spaying and neutering options are offered through Legacy of Hope. They also help to educate people about Pit Bulls, which are suffering as a breed. Check out their website.

A donation was made on behalf of granddaughter Aubrey, who also wanted to support an animal rescue organization.

Giving Tuesday 2018

Giving Tuesday Begins with Me

My intention, in allowing the grandkids to select organizations that they care about, is to create the awareness and practice of helping others. I’ll make these donations, on their behalf, with the sincere belief that when they are young adults they will pick up the batons I pass to them and continue on.

First I must model for them what giving looks like. Then they can later choose to give their time, money, and resources.

May Giving Tuesday become a way of life, every day, within us all.

Giving Tuesday 2018

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

Connecting the Dots

I wasn’t sure yet, at 7:00 pm, what I was going to write about this evening, when I received an excellent suggestion. Greg and I were taking three of our grandchildren back to their house, after my sister and I had spent a fun afternoon with four of the grands. All of my grandkids are very aware that I write a couple of blogs. They show interest in what I do and ask questions.

As we neared their home, the kids asked me how many Instagram followers I had and what I would be writing about tonight. I’m not sure yet, was my honest reply.

“I know what you can write about,” Oliver offered, “spending the day with your grandchildren.” I smiled. I liked his idea.

Connecting the Dots

Linda and I made plans a week ago, to get two of her granddaughters and three of my grandkids together today, selecting Soar Trampoline Park as our meeting place. We had to work to make that actually happen today. Linda had a couple of conflicts that came up last minute, with home appliances and scheduled repairmen, and a granddaughter who ended up unable to join us. And on the way to pick up my three grandkids, a back tire on my car went flat!

There is a truth about grandmothers…they are not easily deterred!

Connecting the Dots

Linda’s afternoon worked itself out in a timely manner. And I was fortunate that Greg decided to go with me to pick up our group. He rarely gets to accompany me. On this afternoon, I didn’t know it, but I would need his help. Greg put the spare tire on, dropped me off at the trampoline park, and sacrificed his afternoon, getting new tires on the car. Megan took time out of her busy day to drive the kids to Soar.

All worked out. Linda and I watched the kids bounce, tumble and play, while chatting and catching up.

Connecting the Dots Aubrey and London are technically second cousins. They have always considered each other to be best friends and enjoy any opportunity to see each other.

Connecting the Dots I love this pic of Oliver and Joey. They were busy jumping and playing dodgeball. I asked for a photo op before we left the park and they rewarded me with this great shot.

Soar Trampoline Park is the perfect place for kids to hang out, connect, play and burn up some energy. The staff is wonderful and watchful, quick to respond to an adult’s questions or intercept an unruly child and re-establish order. Our grandkids had a fun afternoon.

Greg rejoined us just as our allotted jumping time was up. We all enjoyed dinner together, before Linda took London to her dad and we drove our three home.

Connecting the Dots

I accepted Oliver’s suggestion to write about our fun afternoon together. I love and appreciate these kids. They teach me much, by sharing their unique perspectives of the world. Their hearts are open. Their minds are curious about the world and the way things work. We had lively conversations over dinner and I enjoyed their abilities to communicate well.

I saw a great quote recently, that came to mind once I accepted the invitation to write this story.

Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation. Lois Wyse

I get a powerful mental image when I read that quote. I see my grandchildren, all five of them, and my sisters’ grandchildren, six of them, as our futures. Our lives are connected, through unbreakable, unshakable cords of love…from my generation, and even our parents and grandparents before us…to our children…and now their children.

This generation that is beginning to reach their young adult years is strong, and culturally diverse, and open to change. Over dinner our four grandchildren that were present spoke of making differences in the world through health care, teaching children, technology and animal care. They are so confident in their abilities to help others…so sincere in their desires to impact others.

I’m thrilled to be a Yaya. I’m honored to journey alongside each of my grandchildren and the other grands in my family.

Connecting the Dots

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.

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.

Lunch with Joey

I had the opportunity today, between morning and afternoon appointments and work, to have lunch with grandson Joey. I set the intention of having lunch with each grandchild within a week, and I successfully did that. I was even able to include my eldest grandchild, by driving to Columbia to visit him on the University of Missouri campus and take him to lunch.

Joey is in 6th grade this year. His school is new, with last year being its first year in operation. I love the openness of the cafeteria and the windows that let ample light in. I arrived a few minutes early and chatted with one of the teachers on lunch duty today while I waited for Joey. Two of my grandsons are 6th graders this year, although they attend different schools. I am grateful that even though they are approaching their teens, they still enjoy having lunch together at their schools.

The kids filed into the room and Joey joined me at a front table, a smile on his face. He requested a roast beef and cheddar sandwich meal from Arby’s. Joey’s friend Connor joined us, sitting across the table from us. Having friends with us is always okay! I love meeting my grandchildren’s friends, classmates and teachers. I just make sure that my focus is on my grandchild, although we include others in our conversations.

Connor, Joey and Yaya

Joey and I chatted about the new school year, his classes, football and my upcoming trip. He would love to have a ball cap from one of the countries I will be visiting, as a souvenir. I am happy to oblige. A counselor and two teachers stopped by our table to introduce themselves and my grandson informed one that I am plant based. I chatted for a few moments about health with the interested counselor, answering his questions. I appreciate that my grandkids understand that I eat differently so that I can be my healthiest self. They encourage me and ask questions as well.

I love the way this week of lunches worked out. It is very important to me to invest time and energy in the lives of my grandkids. They amaze me, inspire me, make me laugh and move me to tears. We are creating precious memories as we talk and play and learn together.

In the last seven days, I’ve had lunch with a Dragon, a Tiger, a Tiger, a Tiger…and a Tiger! Lunches don’t get any more interesting or fun than that!


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.

Lunch with a Dragon

The new school year has started for all of my grandchildren. The eldest, Dayan, is enjoying his first week at University of Missouri, living away from home for the first time. The four younger grandkids each began in a new grade and two started in new schools.

One of the things that I enjoy doing as a Yaya, is having lunch with each child at his or her school, several times during the school year. Today I kicked off the tradition by having lunch with grandson Jonathan.

The kids get to choose their lunches and Jonathan requested a sandwich from Subway. This was my first visit to his new school, home of the Purple Dragons. I had the honor of having lunch with a Dragon today, who happened to be dressed in orange, rather than purple.

I love these one on one times with the kids. Surrounded by the chatter and laughter of a hundred other children, the world closes in and that lunch becomes a time to give my attention solely to my grandchild. We talk. We laugh. I ask questions…and get asked questions in return. I don’t eat with the kids. I visit with them while they eat.

What clever, and colorful, lockers at Jonathan’s school, made to look like the spines of books.

Jonathan was happy to escort me to the cafeteria today. We talked about his new school and how he moves from classroom to classroom this year. His favorite class so far is science. We discussed the musical he just performed in and I got to hear his perspective as a performer while I shared mine as an audience member. Drama and music are areas this young man shines in.

We chatted about Dayan being away at the university and how he left behind some cool Doctor Who stuff. Jonathan’s face lit up when I told him I’m leaving next week to visit Ireland, Scotland and England. Ireland calls to Jonathan like Scotland has called to me my whole life. I’ll bring him back a souvenir from that Emerald Isle. And after he graduates from high school, I’ll take him there if he desires to go.

I’m looking forward to spending time with Jonathan in the months ahead, picking him up from school often and grabbing a snack, watching Doctor Who, or watching him play games or create YouTube videos. It was a tradition I began with Dayan, these after school hangouts, and I intend to continue with the other grandkids. As I have already experienced, they grow up so quickly.

Jonathan recently quipped to my daughter that he could be Dayan 2.0. He is a funny and clever boy, who knew Elissa was feeling the swirl of emotions that accompany having a child leave the nest.

I love this boy and his tender heart and his creative spirit. I just want him to be Jonathan, the beautiful, original version of himself. Because that is what the world…and his Yaya and family…needs. Jonathan being Jonathan is absolutely perfect.