A Day of Peace and Gratitude

I loved the conjunction today of two globally recognized holidays. September 21 is International Day of Peace and World Gratitude Day. I stayed mindful of both as I moved through a full day. 


International Day of Peace is a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The day was first celebrated in 1982. 

To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters in New York City. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as “a reminder of the human cost of war”. The inscription on its side reads, “Long live absolute world peace”. 


World Gratitude Day allows both individuals and organizations to celebrate gratitude in a variety of ways. This unique holiday began in 1965 in Hawaii when an international gathering decided that it would be a good idea to have one day per year to formally express gratitude and appreciation for the many wonderful things to be found in the world. 

The benefits of having time in one’s life for gratitude, appreciation and positive reflection have become increasingly apparent. The hope of the founders of World Gratitude Day is that by taking time, one day a year, to reflect on the many amazing things we have in our lives, it would positively impact our well-being and make us happier, more contented people.


I had the opportunity to ask two of my grandsons to share their thoughts with me about peace. Jonathan, age 11, thought that those who create problems, rather than promote peace, should be isolated from others. Being very tech savvy, he suggested that such individuals could only communicate with others via technology. They would, essentially, remain in a large scale “time out” until they learned to live in harmony with others. 

And Dayan, who is 17 years old, answered with great wisdom and deep insight beyond his years. I’d like for him to develop his ideas in an essay. However his basic principle was that countries learn to govern themselves and their regions, without relying on the world’s superpowers. 


Dayan touched my heart. He told me that he sees what I am doing this year…living in surrender, going with the flow and remaining open to what the Divine and Life brings to me…as the foundation for peace. We discussed how resistance takes us out of the flow and ultimately creates defensiveness. Peace, we agreed, must begin within us and then flow outward. 

I observed today how gratitude and peace support each other and together, contribute to my joy and wellbeing, which then impacts others around me. Peace and gratitude within me creates peace and more to be grateful for, outwardly. 


I enjoyed conversations around the topic of peace with both boys, which took place with them individually. Dayan and I spent time together after school. And tonight I had dinner with Jonathan and took him shopping for his birthday. I loved both of their out of the box, big ideas. These young men are the future. If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we will keep getting what we’ve always gotten. I appreciated their fresh and honest perspectives. 

They give me hope for world peace in the future. And for that, I am grateful. 

Happy Birthday Jonathan

Today is grandson Jonathan’s 11th birthday. The family celebrated Saturday, having fun at a local Y where kids could run and jump and throw themselves into a huge foam pit. I snapped pics that afternoon, to share in today’s birthday blog post. 




Plants vs Zombies is one of Jonathan’s favorite  video games, and it made a fun party theme. From the cake to the piñata to the cutouts, stuffed figures and invitations, zombies and plants ruled the room. My daughter Elissa made adorable party invitations for Jonathan to take to school. He was very proud of those invites. If a child knew in advance that he or she would not be able to attend the party, Jonathan politely asked for the invitation back. He didn’t want those works of art going into the trash! I love that he thinks so creatively!  


Here’s what I found when I looked up Jonathan’s name:

“Jonathan, you are bluntly honest, good natured, brilliant and inventive,  full of grand ideas. You are courageous, determined, original and creative. You have leadership abilities, especially when you desire to rally people around a particular cause. You have so many ideas that sometimes  you do not care to finish what you start, and may leave details to others. You can do well in positions of authority, and you will prosper most in intellectual, creative or professional fields. You are a bold thinker. 

You look for opportunities to achieve financial and emotional security. You are basically a peacemaker, wanting everyone to get along. You understand the law of harmony and desire to balance your life with those around you. You may feel incomplete without someone to share your love, ideas, wealth or work with. You have developed your intuition and can rely on your instincts. You can live a life of great happiness if you stay true to who you are.”



I see Jonathan in those words! This bright young man understands much about who he is and the gifts that he has to offer to the world. He is inventive, creative and generates a steady stream of clever ideas. One of the things that I most appreciate about Jonathan is his fearlessness in carrying out his ideas. If his plans go well, great! If his plans don’t come together the way he envisioned them, he adapts, or scraps the plan and begins again. 


He does appreciate peace and harmony in his life. That’s the environment he thrives in. Jonathan loves his family, enjoys having a close circle of friends, and converses well with his peers and with adults. I love to listen to him as he shares about his lastest creative endeavor and what’s going on in his life. 


One of the ways that Jonathan expresses who he is, is through his YouTube channel. His fearlessness extends to being in front of a camera. He is totally relaxed and at ease as he narrates his moves through a game or tries out mystery jelly beans for his audience. I admire his creativity and his dedication to his art. 



Recently Jonathan invited me to join him in front of the camera, a guest appearance on his Classy Guy YouTube program. He planned the show, which involved creating an iconic cupcake from a game called Five Nights at Freddy’s. I chose to set aside my reluctance of being filmed, and enter into this amazing child’s world. Jonathan made that easy. We had a fun afternoon, and the cupcakes were a delicious success. 

I look forward to seeing where this young man goes in life. I know that he will choose his own path, find his own way, and enjoy the journey, traveling as his authentic self. Great happiness will be his, indeed. I have no doubts. 

Happy birthday, Jonathan. I love you!

Five Nights at Freddy’s Cupcakes with Jonathan

My grandson Jonathan has his own YouTube channel, under the name Classyguy 2005. This talented boy loves creating fun videos on a variety of topics. When I had lunch with Jonathan recently he invited me to join him in creating a video featuring a cupcake from the video game, Five Nights at Freddy’s. I agreed! After we scheduled a time to meet, I did my research. 


The cupcake that Jonathan wanted to create for his viewers is named Carl. He is carried by the character Chica in the video game. With the above photo on my phone, I purchased the ingredients to make and decorate cupcakes. 

Jonathan was sitting on the front porch, watching for me when I arrived. He was excited to begin. His dad Josh had helped him set up the kitchen and a camera to record the video. We were ready to record! 


This boy impresses me so much. He brainstorms an idea and runs with it. We set out all of the ingredients and discussed the procedure, before hitting record. Jonathan wisely decided to break the process into two videos, one showcasing the prep stage, while the second video gave instructions on decorating the baked cupcake to get the Carl look. 

Although I was present, I allowed Jonathan to do each step in the creation process. 

Using a white cake mix, Jonathan divided the batter between cupcake papers in a muffin tin, narrating as he worked. That video completed, we ceased filming and popped the cupcakes into the oven to bake. 


While the cupcakes baked and cooled, I prepped for phase two while Jonathan edited and loaded the first video. 

View FNaFs Cupcake Video I HERE

During the next segment, Jonathan created the Five Nights at Freddy’s look for the cupcake, using icing and decorations we put together. 



Jonathan added six drops of magenta gel food coloring to a tub of vanilla icing, stirring to blend and achieve a bright pink color. 


We created Carl’s eyes by using a dab of white icing, from a squeeze pouch, to attach a candy eye to one half of a mini Oreo. Jonathan found this fun to do and loved the results. After frosting the cupcake with the pink icing, the eyes were added, pressing them lightly into place. 


The final touch was a single yellow and white candle. I lit this for Jonathan, as he continued his narration on video, and voilà, he had a very good replication of Carl. It touched my heart to watch Jonathan film this whole process and excitedly present his finished product. 


Of course, there had to be a taste test, which Jonathan did in front of the camera. He declared the cupcake to be delicious. From start to finish, our project lasted about an hour. I was so proud of Jonathan for creating and implementing his idea. And I had great fun being part of a video by Classyguy 2005. 


Special thank you’s to Elissa and Josh for allowing Jonathan and me to take over the kitchen and for trusting us with this project. And to Josh for helping us get set up. And to Dayan for assisting off camera, taking still photos for me and for making an emergency run to The Dollar Store to procure a lighter for the candle. 

Thank you also to Jonathan, for inviting me to share in his creativity and making the process smooth and entertaining. I continually learn from my grandkids. Today, I learned to make Carl the cupcake…while the camera rolled. Keep up the great flow of ideas Jonathan! I mean…Classyguy 2005. You rock! 

View FNaFs Cupcake Video II HERE

Surrender 133: Pizza with Jonathan

Today I had the privilege of having lunch at school with grandson Jonathan. He requested a pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut and a root beer. I also included chocolate chips cookies. He was excited to see me. When I asked him if he wanted some of his friends to join us at a booth, he answered that he preferred Jonathan and Yaya time. I was happy to oblige. 


Although we started off seated with the other fourth graders, Jonathan received permission for us to move to a far booth in the empty adjoining room, where we could chat freely. I so enjoyed conversation with this intelligent and talented boy as he ate his pizza. 

Jonathan is fearless when it comes to trying new adventures. He participates in plays, and sings in talent shows, offering from his heart. And Jonathan is very tech savvy. One of this 10 year old boy’s dreams was to have a YouTube channel that he hosts and regularly posts to. He can cross that goal off his list. With the user name of Classyguy 2005, he currently has 105 subscribers and that number is growing daily. I’m happy to be one of those subscribers and I enjoy Jonathan’s fun videos. 


Check out Classyguy 2005 on YouTube HERE It would thrill him if you subscribed!

Jonathan and I chatted about his videos and ideas for upcoming projects. His ease in front of a camera makes recording videos an ideal outlet for his creativity. I’m very proud of him! 

The school year is winding down. Lunch time was too. Jonathan expressed sadness that next Friday was his last day of classes, which surprised me a bit. I asked him why. He earnestly shared that this year, he has had an exceptional teacher, Ms. Tims. Holding his hand at chest level, he explained, “I’ve had regular teachers. This year, I’ve had a GREAT teacher. (He raised his hand to forehead level) Yaya, I don’t know how I’m going to go back to having a regular teacher.” He dropped his hand back down to chest level. What a beautiful tribute to an extraordinary teacher. Jonathan is right. Ms. Tims is great. I’ve been present for a couple of the Coffeehouse Poetry Readings that she creates for her class. I’m so grateful Jonathan was her student this year.

I stood with Jonathan as his class lined up to leave. We whispered together. He invited me to join him in creating a video and we worked out the details. It’s going to be fun! I hugged him and as he filed out, he ran back for one more tight embrace. At the cafeteria door he turned to wave and shouted out, “Bye Yaya!”  

I sure love this boy. These grandkids, they have the ability to make me smile and teary-eyed at the same time. It’s their superpower. 

Surrender 92: Advice From the River

Today was one of those days where things happened, and I was swept along with the current of momentum…happily so, never quite knowing what was around the bend. It truly was a go with the flow or fight the current kind of day. 

This gorgeous Friday was bookended with events in which two of my beautiful grandchildren participated. 

 

The morning began with an award ceremony. I got to be present to watch Aubrey receive a SOAR award for Showing Respect…the S word in the SOAR acronym. This bright and curious child never fails to bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart. Way to go, Aubrey! 

And then I had a predicament. Last night Marco the cat brought a baby rabbit home. He didn’t hurt him. He simply carried him home, much to baby bunny’s displeasure. The little guy was still young enough that his eyes were closed. I had no idea where his mother had her bunny nursery hidden, so I couldn’t return him. I called him Clive. 

  
Wrapped in a towel, Clive allowed me to snuggle him and eventually drank almond milk from an eye dropper. He stole my heart. And survived the night burrowed between the layers of a folded towel. However, I have to be out of town all day tomorrow and I knew he would need to eat frequently. 

I am so grateful for Main Street Pet Care. I called them and explained my situation. To my relief, they have a wildlife care program, especially designed to nurture wild animals and then release them when they are able to fend for themselves. It was a grateful but sad goodbye to Clive. 

 

Work claimed a good portion of my afternoon as I worked to get a listing back on the market,  after the contract on it failed to close. As a realtor, I’ve experienced such situations before. I don’t like to have a transaction fall apart, as that is very disappointing to my clients and to me as well. 

However, sometimes something good falls apart, so something better can come together. In an extraordinary way, a new contract on the same property came together in minutes this afternoon. A better contract, in every way. 

I am grateful. My clients are happy. The other agent and the buyers are thrilled. It’s a win/win all of the way around. Into that space of high energy, another contract on another property came together, in another spectacular arranging of events. My evening suddenly shifted. I would be at the computer tonight, as I am leaving for St Louis very early in the morning. 

 

Which meant, I was unable to attend grandson Jonathan’s talent show tonight. I was excited about the double contracts this evening, and yet bummed to miss Jonathan’s performance. This boy is a natural and gifted performer. Singing, dancing, acting…he embraces it all, with a mix of old world charm and very modern technology. 

I am very grateful that my grandson Dayan recorded Jonathan’s performance as he sang “Christ is Risen,” and the fourth grade class rendition of Evolution of Dance. It touched my heart to watch both videos. I cheered Jonathan on from home. While not the same as being present, at least I had the privilege of watching as this talented child shared his gifts with the world. 

I love what I learn from days like today: surrender, trust, stay open, stay flexible, flow, love, laugh and listen…to those around me, to my heart, to the Divine. And I remember that there is more, just around the river bend. 
  
  

Surrender 50: Coffeehouse Poetry Readings

What a treat today, to be a guest in grandson Jonathan’s 4th grade classroom during the coffeehouse poetry reading. I joined my son-in-law Josh, and Jonathan’s Nana in the room, along with other parents and grandparents. 

 

I was quite impressed! Miss Tims is an exceptional teacher, in my opinion, to create these monthly events. The theme for February focused on Black History Month, with an additional emphasis on poetry and Jazz. The kids are given a great deal of creative freedom, which allows them to decide what poetry to read or how to interpret and perform a skit. 
 

As Josh and Debi and I took our seats at a festive table, I noticed that even the snacks were connected to the theme and the program for the day. We had Oreos representing 45 records, Corn Bugles for Jazz trumpets, and bubble gum for Bubble Gum Skat, among other snacks. 

   
 

The kids warmed up the crowd with several group performances, including “Charlie Parker Plays Bebop”, “Cool Daddy Rat”, and “Bubble Gum Skat”. I appreciated their entertaining performances and the educational moments that accompanied them. We learned who Charlie Parker was, and watched a short video clip of Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye performing skat together during “When the Saints Go Marching In.” 
 

 
As we sipped juice and munched on snacks, each child in Miss Tims class perched on the wooden stool at the front of the room and shared the reading he or she had selected. There was a wide variety of essays and poetry from writers such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Alice Walker and Rudyard Kipling. Jonathan shared an essay about a sculpture of Jack Johnson, created by artist William Edmondson. Johnson was the first African American heavyweight boxing champion. The kids also shared briefly about historical greats such as Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and Duke Ellington. After each reading, the audience responded in true coffeehouse style…by snapping our fingers. 

 

What a great experience, for the kids and for their proud family members. None of the children seemed nervous about performing in front of an audience, individually or as a group. What a gift to them, from their wonderful teacher, to have these opportunities to express their creativity and gain public speaking skills. I am looking forward to next month’s coffeehouse event! 

  
  

Surrender 44: Beautifully Unique

I had the opportunity today to spend time with two of my five grandchildren, along with daughter Elissa and son-in-law Josh. Papa Greg joined me on these adventures. One of the joys of being a grandparent is celebrating the accomplishments in the lives of these precious kids. 

 

The first event was an award ceremony at Missouri Southern State University, where granddaughter Aubrey was honored. During halftime of the Lady Lions basketball game, elementary and middle school children from Joplin and the surrounding towns received certificates and recognition for academic excellence. 

  
Two students from each class in these area schools were nominated by their teachers to receive the Most Improved Student awards. The kids not only had to demonstrate excellent academic progress, they also had to possess the desire and the self-motivation to excel. 

I’m so proud of Aubrey, who is a first grader, for being her bright little self and desiring to be the best she can be as she learns. Aubrey’s mom, little brother AJ, and Nana Beth and Papa Tom were proud spectators along with Greg and me. Her daddy had to work today, so it was my honor to be present as she was recognized. 

  

While Aubrey’s mom and other grandparents took her out for a celebratory lunch, Greg and I drove to Pittsburg, KS to do the same with grandson Jonathan, Elissa and Josh.  Jonathan, who is a Boy Scout, recently won first place in his troop’s pinewood derby competition. He also was awarded the Most Unique award. 
  

That win qualified him to participate in the regional pinewood derby races today, held at the Meadowbrook Mall in Pittsburg. Although he didn’t win that competition, I’m so proud of Jonathan for all of his creative work, his determination and his follow through on this project. He’s a smart young man who likes to compete. I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes in the future. We arrived just after the races completed and enjoyed a festive lunch at Del Rio. 

I love my grandchildren, all five of them, and I am proud of each one of them as they discover who they are and what their gifts and talents are. I am reminded this evening, as a winter advisory has been issued with the possibility of light snowfall, that they are each as beautiful and as unique as snowflakes. No two snowflakes are alike, and no two grandchildren are either. I am blessed, and grateful to be their Yaya. 

  

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 290: Maple Leaf Parade

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. 

 

Josh

 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. 

I love a parade, the tramping of feet,

I love every beat I hear of a drum.

I love a parade, when I hear a band

I just want to stand and cheer as they come.

Yes! 

 
   
  

Journey 283: Happy Birthday Jonathan

Today’s journey was to celebrate the birthday of my grandson, Jonathan. This charming, happy boy turned 10 on September 20. The birthday party was held today so that out of town aunts, uncles and cousins could be present. Jonathan chose The Legend of Zelda as his theme, with an emphasis on the character of Link. 

  

For clarification, and because it is important to Jonathan, Link is a youth in The Legend of Zelda series, of the Hylian race, originating from the fictional land of Hyrule. Link often travels through Hyrule, defeating creatures, evil forces, and the series’ primary antagonist, Ganon, while attempting to save Princess Zelda and Hyrule.

  
The festivities were held at the Pittsburg Y, and what a great idea that turned out to be! The large gymnasium type room had mats and balance beams, wedges, cubes and cylinders to jump on and climb over, a long trampoline and a foam pit. The pit proved to be very popular with the many children running about, and with adventurous adults as well. 

  
Filled with bright blue cubes of spongy foam, the pit allowed kids to tumble safely into its depths. The cubes gave as little and not so little bodies made impact, so that the party goers sank as if in water. There was a swinging rope, and the end of the long trampoline culminated at the edge of the pit. Kids and adults alike did flips into the pit, swung out on the rope and dropped, or simply jumped in from the side. 

 

Jonathan’s Nana, who is also my dear, long time friend, very bravely entered the foam pit with her small granddaughter. Much to the amusement of onlookers, she discovered that it was much more difficult to exit the pit! At last help arrived and Deb, who was extremely good natured about it all, was rescued. Deb is the sweetest of ladies, and blessed with many grandchildren, who adore her. I am grateful that our families have joined, through our children!

  
Jonathan’s yummy birthday cake was designed to look like a video game controller. So clever. Gaming is one of Jonathan’s passions. He loves trying out new games and currently is enjoying an old favorite, Super Mario Brothers. I watch this boy play, while he patiently explains what he’s doing, because I don’t play these various games well. To his delight, he discovered that I actually used to play some of the Nintendo games. I promised to join him soon and have a try.   

 Jonathan received game related gifts, money, and gift cards as presents today. And a shirt, cap, pointy ears and a sword to create a Link costume. I’m sure he would go to school as Link, if he could. The kids gathered around a Legends of Zelda piñata, one with strings to pull rather than one that has to be hit to break. The kids squealed as candy rained down on them. 

 
What a fun afternoon. I am beginning to see glimpses of the young man emerging in Jonathan, as he rapidly approaches his teens. He is bright, affectionate, and so talented. I’ve never seen him shy or afraid to try something new. He excels in front of a camera or an audience, singing, dancing, and performing. He has dreams, this boy does, and confidence in his ability to make them reality. Watch for him on YouTube or in movies or on television someday, making his way in the world. I know I’ll be applauding him on. Happy birthday Jonathan! I love you!