I’ve definitely had a roller skating theme going on this weekend. Last night’s high school musical, Xanadu, had roller skating as a key element of the story. And this evening I ended up at Joplin’s Roller City with three of my grandchildren while my son and his wife had a date night.
Roller City was the place to be tonight. There was a happy crowd of kids and teens, parents with youngsters and a few grandparents watching from the safety of the sidelines. After a quick dinner at Chick-Fil-A we arrived ready to join the roller party.
The kids had a blast. The boys soon switched to in-line skates, eager to give them a try. And Aubrey started off with a trainer to help her keep her balance, but she quickly abandoned that skating aid and was zooming around the floor without it.
I watched from the comfy bench on the sidelines, content to cheer kids on, offer drinks of cold water and snap pics. In typical fashion, Aubrey made a new friend before she even stepped onto the shiny wooden floor. She and Bella were inseparable until Bella had to leave, and then amazingly, two of Aubrey’s classmates appeared to keep her company.
The boys were adventurous as they mastered the in-line skates. They kept a watchful eye on their little sister and perfected their techniques. I timed them as they made loops around the floor and gave them frequent thumbs up signs as they beamed at me on their way by.
All three kids fearlessly participated in every event and game. I was very proud of their efforts and determination. Oliver explained that even if he didn’t win a race, it was good practice. What a great attitude.
Watching them, listening to the pop songs blaring overhead and the whirring sound of skate wheels on the wooden floor, I was transported back to my childhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where my sisters and I spent Saturday afternoons or evenings at Skateland. I loved skating.
I realized tonight that skating, like swimming, was a form of meditation to me. No matter how crowded the pool or the rink, I created my own solitary bubble around me, finding a way to be alone amid so many people. The almost hypnotic act of skating around and around the rink freed my mind to think and ponder while my body settled into a rhythm.
I miss skating, having given it up after the car accident 21 years ago. I feel so good now, so healthy and fit, that I was tempted tonight to pull on a pair of skates.
Soon. Soon I will. The kids and I agreed that we need to visit Roller City often, and bring their cousins Jonathan and London with us next time. I’ll let the whir and swoosh of the skates keep calling to me, until I am ready to answer. And then watch out kids, Yaya is going to take to the floor.
I enjoyed an afternoon and evening with grandsons Joey and Oliver. After picking them up from school, we discussed possible activities for our time together. Checking the movie theater, we didn’t find a film that we wanted to see. And the boys had recently played miniature golf. Our quest for fun ultimately took us to Northpark Mall, in Joplin.
At the mall we visited the remote control shop, and watched the sales clerk fly a drone over our heads. The boys tried on masks at the recently opened Halloween store and discussed ideas for costumes.
It was while we were leaving that store that the boys spied the jumping trampolines and harnesses at the end of the corridor. Their eyes lit up as they turned eager faces to me.
It looked fun to me. Of course I said yes!
It was fun! Joey and Oliver harnessed up and I snapped pics and shot video while Papa Greg held our stuff. We laughed as we watched our grandsons jumping, spinning and flipping, 30 feet up in the air. We were envious. Twenty five years ago, Greg and I would have harnessed up as well. I was impressed with the acrobatic maneuvers that the boys executed.
After very entertaining performances from Joey and Oliver, our little group settled into a booth at Garfield’s off of the mall food court. The boys dined on quesadillas and nachos while I had a plain baked potato with a side of steamed broccoli and Greg enjoyed fish. Garfield’s, with their white paper tablecloths and cups of crayons, provided the perfect opportunity for a fun game that we play.
Joey started us off by drawing a crackling fire. Each of us then took turns drawing more objects, contributing to the picture and expanding the story, round and round, until we were all giggling over the result. Our food arrived and in our excitement I failed to get a picture of our finished masterpiece. This activity is a great way to express creativity on several levels, laugh together and engage in conversation.
I loved spending time with two of my grandkids. I listened to their stories, and laughed over their antics. My grandchildren are all adept at going with the flow and seeing what unfolds. And when a fun opportunity presents itself, well….they jump right in.
What a happy, serendipitous conjunction that today was Hooray for Kids Day, and I got to spend it with three of my grandchildren. My son and daughter-in-law both had to work today, and it just so happened that this was the only day that I did not have appointments. Another beautiful concurrence.
I love children and spending time with them. They have such fresh perspectives on the world and share so sincerely from their open hearts. I am truly blessed that my children and grandchildren all live nearby and I get to see them often.
Today Joey, Oliver, Aubrey and I played at their house, had lunch at Chick Fil A, toured my garden, watched the newest Ice Age movie at the theater and shopped at Toys R Us, before returning home in time to meet Megan.
These kids, who are 10, 8, and 7 (Aubrey and Oliver have birthdays yet this year so that they will then be 10, 9 and 8), were wonderful companions today. They were kind, smart, funny and intuitive. Their affection for each other was obvious and they treated one another with respect. This is a big deal because they are a blended family. It can be challenging to find ones place in a new family dynamic. And yet Joey was the big brother in all ways today, helping me with the other two, and helping Oliver and Aubrey. Oliver is definitely the go between, spending time with Joey and Aubrey, joining in their favorite activities, while also exploring his own interests. And Aubrey is the sister, compassionate and nurturing, seeking out guidance from the older boys while also being confident enough in herself to do her own thing.
On this hooray for kids day, these are the special moments that stood out:
Joey – I could see the teen lurking in the boy today. Joey has grown so much this year. He doesn’t wait for me to ask him for help. He anticipates the need and takes care of it, keeping toys picked up, caring for the animals and offering assistance. When we piled into the car to head to lunch, Joey ran ahead to open car doors, making entry easy and allowing the heat trapped within to escape before we entered. Conversations with this young man are thoughtful and interesting.
Oliver – It’s not easy being the younger brother, trying to figure out who you are apart from an older brother. Yet I see this boy discovering who he is. The kids had money they had saved to spend at the toy store today. I added to their stash. Joey had the most saved up, with Oliver and Aubrey having about the same amount. Oliver appeared before me with a wooden box he had purchased at a yard sale. He asked if I liked it. When I said yes, he offered to sell it to me…for $5. I love that he thought of a way to increase his spending money! He possesses a great entrepreneurial spirit. Of course I bought the box.
Aubrey – And I purchsed a craft that Aubrey had made, for the same amount. She saw an opportunity, and seized it. This girl was the first child awake this morning, giving us time for girl talk. She noted my haircut and that I’ve lost weight. After she inquired about my age, she quipped, “Wow Yaya, you looked really young for being so old!” Aubrey keeps me humble…and laughing. She is a keen observer of life and I appreciate her insights. At the beginning of the Ice Age movie she whispered that a father mastodon had issues letting go of his daughter as she prepared to marry. She nailed it. That was indeed a predominant theme that developed in the movie.
This was a special day. School is beginning soon and the grandkids will all be busy with studies and friends and extracurricular activities. I cherish these last lingering days of summer. I cherish these kids.
Today is the birthday of my grandson Joey. He spent the day with his family and his best friend, having some fun in the sun at a nearby river. I had the privilege of having one on one time and celebrating with this handsome young man yesterday.
We kicked off Joey’s birthday with a first for both of us, dinner at the newly opened Chili’s in Joplin. We have dined in this restaurant before, but never together or in the Joplin location. While we waited for our meals to arrive, Joey and I had fun playing Life on the table’s player. This is smart marketing on Chili’s part and a great way to pass the time. We laughed and talked as we took turns spinning the electronic wheel and watching to see what Life presented us with. Joey ended up with a car full of daughters! I’ve always loved this board game and Joey and I determined to play another round soon.
I had so much fun at Christmas time, taking each grandchild out for dinner and shopping, that I began a new birthday tradition this year. I’m taking each child out again for dinner and shopping, except this time, they get to spend their allotted cash on themselves, rather than on others. The kids choose which store they want to shop in, or they can pocket the cash.
Joey chose Toys R Us as his destination. I enjoyed walking alongside him as he carefully deliberated, talking through his options. It didn’t take long for him to zero in on a modular Nerf gun that can be assembled in a multitude of ways. Joey’s eyes lit up as he returned again and again to look over that Nerf gun.
Joey, Aubrey and Oliver.
I looked up Joey’s name:
Joey, you are honest, benevolent, brilliant and often inventive, full of inspiration. You are courageous, honest, determined, original and creative. You are a leader, especially for a cause. Sometimes you do not care to finish what you start, and may leave details to others. You do well in positions of authority, and you will prosper in intellectual and professional fields. You are frank, methodical and believe in law, system and order.
You are always looking for a chance to do your own thing, to be your own person, and to have things done your own way.
These words describe my bright grandson well. He’s the oldest child in his family, and leadership suits him. He is inventive and creative. We have spent time sketching together. I love looking through his art portfolio at the many drawings he has done. Joey isn’t afraid to attempt sketching anything, and I appreciate his confidence.
I’ve watched this past year as Joey has grown into a young man. He had a great school year and football season, as he matured in every way. He enters a new school this fall, leaving elementary school behind. Joey thinks deeply and enjoys a good conversation. He always asks me how I am and wants to know what I’ve been enjoying.
As I drove him home last night, I realized just how close he’s getting to his teen years. We had an amazing and deep conversation, about who he is and who he is becoming, and about his role as the older brother. For the first time, Joey and I discussed energy and what it means to be empathic and how to shake off negative energy. He is an intelligent young man. He nodded in understanding as we discussed life and the journey and he asked great questions. When he shared some of his own observations about life and people, my heart swelled with love and pride. He is growing up.
The last section above, about Joey’s characteristics, is what I see him becoming so beautifully…one who looks for the chance to do his own thing, in his own way, as he is being totally who he is. He shines, as brightly as those expressive brown eyes of his. Happy birthday Joey. I love you!
Today I finished up lunch time with the grandkids at their schools, with a double treat. Grandsons Joey and Oliver attend the same school. This year, their lunch times are back to back. I showed up with the boys’ orders: Nachos Bellegrande from Taco Bell for Joey and a cheeseburger meal from McDonalds for Oliver. Dr. Peppers and chocolate chip cookies completed their meals.
Oliver, who is finishing up second grade, had lunch first. His class was entering the cafeteria as I was and he called out to me. As soon as his teacher gave him permission, he joined me and selected a place to sit.
We had fun catching up. I asked him all about his recent activities and he asked me about mine. As school is ending, I asked him what he had most enjoyed about the past school year. He was quick to tell me about the fun classes he goes to that change with the days of the week: PE, art, music and computer lab. He’s especially enjoying computer classes, now that they are allowed to play games. As he ate, Oliver, who likes to try unusual food combinations, created the chocolate chip cheeseburger! He assured me it was delicious. I’d like to let him sample a donut hamburger, made with a beef patty between two glazed donuts.
Our conversation turned to sports. Oliver will be playing football for the first time this summer, as a Tiger. We discussed sportsmanship, after Ollie told me about a classmate who displays anger when he loses, arguing about the rules or the call, and ultimately stomping away to seethe. Oliver’s eyes softened as he told me it’s not about winning or losing. The fun is in getting to play. Just play. I’m so proud of his attitude. I’m looking forward to watching this bright and wise boy play.
Oliver was the last child to leave the lunchroom, before the next group arrived. His amazing principle chatted with us, took a picture of us for me, and let Oliver stay a little longer. Inquisitive and charming, Oliver lingered to talk and hug on each other until the fourth graders filed in. After a final embrace and a non-embarrassing kiss on the side of his head, he tossed his trash and trotted away, just as Joey arrived at the table.
Joey, completing fourth grade, is looking more and more like a young man. As he started on his plate of nachos he began our conversation with questions about how I was, how was my day going, what all had I been doing. He got the jump on me, this sweet, creative and thoughtful boy!
We discussed a broad range of topics, from school to summer vacation to movies to sports. I love these one on one times of talking with each of my five grandkids, watching their earnest, expressive faces, listening to their thoughts expressed. I value what they have to say. I marvel at their keen intellects and perspectives. I asked Joey what his favorite thing about the past school year was, and he shared about the fun day his class had yesterday at the 40 Mile Party.
Intrigued, I wanted to hear more. Apparently each child in the class set a goal of running 40 miles this semester. Every day they ran a mile or two at recess or during PE. For completing their goals, the whole class had a day long field trip yesterday, that included time at the park, a pizza lunch and time at the Y. I was impressed! What a great way to encourage kids to set healthy goals and accomplish them in small, manageable steps. And how fun, the celebration.
In fact, today seemed to carry over that party atmosphere. Everyone was in high spirits and casual dress, students and teachers and the principal all, as the last days of the school year are winding down. I’ve never seen a school principal who engages so well with his students. He interacts with them, in fun and educational ways, as they eat lunch. He let the kids play a game called Pick a Door, in which 6-8 kids at a time leave the cafeteria and one by one, they re-enter from the hallway through one of four doors. The kids in the cafeteria hold up fingers to indicate which door they believe the child will enter through. They love it, laughing as they count up how many guesses were correct. I only guessed when Joey entered in, and I guessed correctly. He came back into the lunchroom through door number four.
As lunch with Joey concluded, I hugged him and kissed the back of his head. He cleared away his trash as I gathered my things to leave. Suddenly he was behind me, slipping his arms around me for a last tight hug. I love how affectionate each of my grandchildren are. They freely give and receive love. Delighted, I turned to embrace Joey again. His face lit up with a beautiful smile.
As I drove away after those fun lunches, with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes, I thought about all five of my grandchildren. These kids. These fun, smart, talented, loving kids. I believe I am at my most authentic self when I am with any of my grandkids. They allow me to be me, fully. They allow me to be my quirky, creative, loving self. I hope they know that with me, they can do the same, be exactly, and fully, who they are at this moment…and in every moment throughout their lives. I love each one dearly. I am loved in return.
Nothing keeps me in the moment and surrendered to the flow of life like being with my grandchildren. I enjoyed an afternoon with Dayan yesterday. Today, I had the pleasure of spending time with Joey and Oliver.
It was much too cold to be outdoors this wintry afternoon. No problem…we moved the fun inside. After snacks and a bit of down time watching a cartoon, the boys decided to play an in-the-house version of a basketball game, PIG.
I surprised the boys by telling them I knew this game and used to play it too. Using a clothes hamper as the hoop, and a rainbow colored ball, we began.
One person picks a spot to stand and makes a shot. If the ball goes through the hoop, or in this case, into the hamper, the other players must attempt the same shot from the same place. If someone misses, he or she takes the letter P. And the next player sets up the next shot. A second miss earns an I…and the third a G…and then you are out.
We had fun and we were pretty evenly matched! I was glad to discover that I can still sink a shot.
The boys moved to a checkers tournament. I confess I lost in the first round. That was okay. I got to sit and watch them play and figure out moves. Again, these two were very evenly matched in skills. Their game ended in a draw, and then became a fun, spirited wrestling match on the floor! Carl the dog literally piled on here.
With their mom on her way home from work, the boys picked up toys and while Ollie finished up, Joey and I began a shared drawing. This was truly a surrendered moment that flowed into a new game. I started by quickly sketching a dragon. Joey added a dog. And the story began. I drew the tree and added to the story, and Joey sketched in baby dragons hatching from eggs. Every picture added to the drawing and the story.
What a creative way to share an adventure. When my oldest grandson was a small boy, we began telling back and forth stories, adding a couple of sentences at a time. We called these The Adventures of Dayan and Yaya. This method of shared drawing created a fresh way of story-telling, The Adventures of Joey and Yaya. I look forward to doing more of these with Joey and also Oliver, Aubrey and Jonathan.
I so appreciate the perspectives of children. How refreshing, as I reconnect with my inner child, my creative artist, to spend time with kids as they freely express their creativity. They inhabit the moment, and the next and the next, as easily as playing.
Teal Swan says “What sets youth apart from adults, is their ability to recognize and surrender themselves to happiness.” I surrender as well!
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!
October has been one gorgeous fall day after another. Even the rainy days were welcome, and beautiful in their own way. This week concludes the month, and my journeys have reached the 300’s. The year is winding down. On this perfect autumn day, had not one, but two highlights.
I had the pleasure of having lunch with my cousin William in Neosho. We were overdue for a chat and a shared meal. William suggested one of his favorite local restaurants, Cafe Angelica, on the Neosho Square. I was delighted, as I’ve not eaten here before.
What a great place! I loved finding a cafe with a cute name that had a charming interior to match. Even before we ordered lunch, I was captivated. The French country decor was so inviting. And the food was marvelous. We each had the lunch special which included half a sandwich, a salad and a bowl of soup. William loves the chicken curry salad sandwich and I had one as well. The potato soup was delicious and perfectly complemented the chicken curry.
I enjoyed my first meal at Cafe Angelica and look forward to sampling other entrees. Most of all, I enjoyed seeing William and catching up. By anyone’s reckoning, he has had a challenging year. His mom’s birthday Monday was a bittersweet reminder of his loss. He and his uncle celebrated the day by preparing some of Mindy’s favorite foods. I find that very touching. He reminded me in his quiet, sincere way today that he’s here, he’s journeying, he’s figuring out the path that’s been laid before him. I continue to be so proud of this young man.
After my return to Joplin, I totally switched gears, into high energy mode. For the first time, I picked up Aubrey, Joey and Oliver from school. Not such a big deal, except that not only do they attend different schools, the schools are in different towns! Fortunately Aubrey gets out 25 minutes ahead of the boys. We had plans for the afternoon and the kids were ready for an adventure.
With all three kids in tow, we visited the Halloween Store, at the Northpark Mall. We have a big family Halloween party Saturday and I offered to take this trio shopping for costumes. That might sound overly ambitious, taking three active children into a store full of props and costumes and accessories. It was a blast! The kids were golden. None of them knew what they wanted to dress up as, so we looked and discussed and tried on options.
I am very grateful for the help of a friendly woman in the store, who cheerfully fetched costumes in different sizes, made suggestions, and answered questions. There were lots of questions. The kids were great to sort through a variety of options and make decisions fairly quickly. I was very proud of all three. My only regret was that I completely forgot to snap pics of the process, which had comedic elements. It was a busy 45 minutes and I apparently needed an assistant whose only job was to take pics. Ah well. We have memories.
We carried our purchases to the mall food court and had snacks before reversing our trip and returning home. I love watching these beautiful children as they chat and laugh and observe their world. I learn so much from them. We listened to songs on the ride home, everyone singing along.
The kids humored me, once we arrived at their home, and donned their costumes so I could get a photo. Aubrey’s outfit is on over her clothes and Joey has other pieces of his costume to pull together. Oliver’s is complete. He cracked us up by saying he was smiling behind his mask, since I couldn’t tell. Saturday will see everyone fully costumed. It promises to be a fun day.
Today was a fun day too. From Cafe Angelica to the food court, from Neosho to Joplin to Carthage, it was a memorable journey.
I got to watch grandson Joey’s final football game of the season late this afternoon. Picking up granddaughter Aubrey, we joined Megan, Oliver and Joey at the Webb City football stadium. The sun was shining and the temps were a bit warmer than yesterday. It was perfect football weather.
The 4th grade Tiger team has been beset with injuries this year. One of their key players has been out since game 1 and Joey suffered a knee injury as well, which temporarily sidelined him. But this team learned amazing things this year…to overcome adversity, to share in the victories and the defeats, and to step up and shine as they explore their strengths.
Joey has made several touch downs, in the last couple of games. He was the team player who put 6 points on the board tonight. I’m very proud of his determination and his persistence. It’s not always fun to play when you aren’t winning. But there are so many other truths to learn, about oneself and the team, when you are losing while doing the very best that you can.
I enjoyed the game and being outside on this gorgeous fall day. I enjoyed watching Oliver and Aubrey playing in and around the bleachers with other brothers and sisters of the boys in blue. At these games, there’s a little community of people present, held together by a common bond. It’s always interesting to watch how people interact and respond to what’s going on, on the field. And I enjoyed chatting with Megan, who is very present for her kids, cheering them on, capturing the moments with her camera phone, storing away these treasured times in her heart.
It’s another finish to another season of football. I’ve watched Joey gain confidence in his abilities and step up as he’s mastered the basics. It’s totally up to him whether he plays football again next summer, or turns his attention elsewhere. Whatever he decides, I’ll be there, along with the rest of his family, cheering him on.
What a fun morning, jump started by a big parade! The air was crisp with a definite fall chill to it and the sun not quite up when I headed east to Carthage, MO. This is the 49th Maple Leaf Festival, held annually in this beautiful Ozark town. The highlight of the festival is the Maple Leaf Parade, touted as the largest in southwest Missouri.
I marched in this parade while in high school, with the Mustang Marching Band, and more recently walked the route as a realtor. Now I enjoy watching from the sidelines. And today was a special event. Four of my five grandchildren were in the parade. And my son Nate, a police officer with Carthage PD, led off the parade with the Honor Guard. Daughter Elissa, son-in-law Josh, grandson Jonathan and daughter-in-law Megan sat with me on the west side of the square. Greg joined us just as the parade was starting.
Here are highlights of the parade, captured in photos:
Elissa and Jonathan
Jonathan sporting his Link costume.
Megan and Nate
Megan and me
Nate was in charge of the Honor Guard, which led off the parade
One of the winners in the float category
This dog, wearing a hat, cracked me up. He seemed to enjoy all the attention.
Grandsons Joey and Oliver, with Tiger Football
Lots of scary floats, advertising local haunted houses for Halloween
The Flip Shop with their trampoline on wheels
Grandson Dayan with the Carl Junction Marching Band, which sounded great! There were lots of bands in the parade, as there is a band competition in the afternoon. Carl Junction was awarded first place in the parade! Latest update is that they are in the finals for the afternoon marching band competition.
Granddaughter Aubrey, and her mom Brittany, Nana Shelby and brother AJ, with the Donate Life float. Aubrey’s Nana is a liver transplant recipient, celebrating her 6th anniversary!
One never knows where a kilted man will show up!
Or Darth Vader 😃
This guy was cool!
The crowd pleasing Dancing Cobras from Springfield MO
Horses and mules signal the end of the parade, with the city street sweepers behind, for obvious reasons! 139 units passed by…bands, floats, businesses and organizations.
I enjoyed the morning immensely, sitting with family, watching for grandkids in the parade, smiling as I watched my son carry out his responsibilities with dignity and ease. On the way home I found myself humming the song “I Love a Parade”, so I looked the words up. The lyrics are a fitting conclusion to this blog post.