Winter Band Concert

What a treat this evening, to be in the audience during grandson Jonathan’s band concert debut. This talented young man, who sings, dances and performs in musicals and plays, added a band instrument to his repertoire three months ago, choosing the clarinet.

Tonight the 6th Grade Band opened the winter concert at the Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium.

Looking classy in a white button down shirt, suspenders and a bow tie, Jonathan was front and center on the stage. He did not appear to be at all nervous for his first band concert.

The 6th Grade Band, Jazz Band, and 7th & 8th Grade Band performed under the direction of Mr. Matthew Reimer. He did a fantastic job of introducing each band and explaining their musical numbers. It was easy to see that this dedicated band teacher is building skills in his students that will further their musical talents.

Jonathan and his fellow musicians led off with A Mozart Melody by W.A. Mozart, a readily recognizable tune. Listen to it HERE. Their next selection was Listen to Our Sections by John Higgins. Mr. Reimer explained this piece helps the students learn when to play, and when not to play. Watch it HERE.

Aura Lee by George R. Poulton was musical piece number three. You can experience it HERE. And for their grand finish, the band performed a Christmas classic, Jingle Bells by J.S. Pierpont. Sing along HERE.

I was so proud of Jonathan, and the 6th Grade Band. These children are at the beginning of a musical journey that will take them through hours and hours and hours of practicing and perfecting. Ahead are many performances in marching bands, ensembles and concerts. I am thrilled to have witnessed this auspicious first performance.

Jonathan’s big brother, Dayan, who made it home from the university in time to be present in the audience, began his musical journey in 6th grade as well. I spent the next six years enjoying his concerts and performances. How perfectly timed is Jonathan’s decision to pursue band as well. I have more years ahead to enjoy his performances.

There are powerful life lessons to learn, mastering a musical instrument. Those lessons about playing their parts, focusing on the music in front of them, and allowing the other musicians to play their parts well are apparent to me also as I watch with appreciation and gratitude.

It just would not have felt right this December, without a band concert to attend. Well done, Jonathan. You played beautifully. Bravo!

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.

Super Jonathan

Tomorrow my grandson Jonathan has a birthday. He will be 12 years old. Tonight, following the tradition I began several years ago of taking each grandchild out for a birthday dinner and giving him or her money to spend, I picked Jonathan up after school and we celebrated who he is by spending the evening together.

Jonathan is my techie grandchild. He not only understands technology, he uses it deftly and with confidence. He enjoys gaming and hosts his own YouTube channel. We had lively and interesting conversations in the car about the future of technology and the feasibility of holodecks and hover cars.

I appreciate Jonathan’s outside the box thinking and his big ideas. He converses easily about a broad range of topics and asks great questions. Jonathan is also musical, singing and playing the clarinet, and shines when he performs in plays and musicals.

Shopping was simple tonight. Jonathan knew exactly what he wanted. His dad, my son-in-law Josh, contributed to the money I had allotted for Jonathan so that this bright young man could purchase a new hand held gaming system that he has been wanting. How happy and excited Jonathan was, leaving the gaming store with his early birthday gift.

In fact, my grandson was so eager to try out his new 3DS Gaming System that he opted for going through the Wendy’s drive through rather than dining out for his birthday meal. The kids get to choose the restaurant and meal for their birthday dinners. Wendy’s drive through it was!

Jonathan and I spent a fun evening together at his house. I watched him play a new version of Super Mario on his hand held gaming device. He chatted about what he was doing as he maneuvered Mario through various worlds. When he created a level for me to play through, I was willing to try. Although I am not a great gamer, I used to play Super Mario with my kids when they were young. The music is the same. The graphics are much improved.

I surprised Jonathan and myself by making it through the level he devised for me. Talk about saving face with my gamer grandson! I especially loved that Jonathan did a quick video for me this evening, to share in my blog post. He is quite comfortable being filmed and does an excellent job of narrating in a fun and instructive way as he plays.

Check out Jonathan’s video HERE

I am grateful for Jonathan. He has a beautiful heart and soul and a creative and inquisitive nature. I look forward to journeying along side him. With all the technology that awaits us in the near future, Ill need this sharp young man to help me play on through. Happy birthday, Super Jonathan. I love you!

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.

All Shook Up Musical

A late post tonight, after a fun evening at the Pittsburg, Kansas Memorial Auditorium where my grandson Jonathan performed in the musical All Shook Up. What a superb way to end the day.

Jonathan joined 39 other 6th – 10th graders recently at Just Off Broadway drama camp, where they worked for two weeks on this production. All Shook Up features the songs of Elvis Presley. The musical was directed by Greg Shaw, with vocal direction by Karrie Fenech and choreography by Will Jewett.

The year is 1955 and hip swiveling, guitar toting Chad (Levi Ben) roars into town on his motorcycle. This free spirited young man is determined to spread joy and music throughout every community he visits.

While in town, he draws the affections of Natalie (McKenna Shaw), the mechanic, and makes the local geek, Dennis (Stuart O’Brien), his sidekick. Chad falls in love, not with Natalie but with the museum curator, Sandra (Mesa Jones), who in turns falls for another stranger in town, Ed (played by Shaw as well). Among these star crossed lovers Dean (Colin O’Brien) and Lorraine (Addy Campbell) find forbidden love against the wishes of Dean’s controlling mother, and mayor of the city, Matilda (Ainsley Balthazor).

There are lessons to be learned and loves to be sorted out, amid singing and rocking out to classic songs such Blue Suede Shoes, Heartbreak, and Jailhouse Rock.

This was such a fun musical! Jonathan was part of the ensemble cast, costumed smartly in a suit, singing and dancing his way through the night. I was so proud of him. He is a natural on the stage, and fearless in front of an audience.

The whole cast was quite impressive. These middle school through high school performers had powerful voices and great dance moves, and delivered their lines with wit and confidence. I love watching a play or musical where the actors and singers are so obviously enjoying themselves, and such was the case tonight.

I laughed and applauded and cheered and at the end, stood up in appreciation for a fine performance by a talented group of kids. There is a matinee tomorrow at 2:00, at the Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are $5 at the door. It’s money well spent. Check out All Shook Up. You will be glad you did, and leave with a smile on your face.

Christmas Shopping with Jonathan

This afternoon I picked up grandson Jonathan for his shopping time with Yaya. We had barely gotten underway, when this sweet boy let me know he wasn’t feeling well. He didn’t want to cancel or postpone our time together. And although he didn’t feel like eating dinner, he was eager to shop for gifts for his family. We continued on to the first shopping stop. 


We had a twenty minute drive to our destination. We chatted about school and his friends. And then this high-tech young man delighted me by telling me about an app he recently downloaded, called Wattpad. This app is a place to read and share stories, for free. Wattpad’s mission is to connect a global community through the power of story. I was intrigued!

Then Jonathan wowed me. He’s already written three chapters of his own story on the app. Called Clash, Jonathan’s story is a fan fiction tale, based on the video game, Clash of Clans. As I drove, Jonathan read the three chapters to me. As a writer, I was extremely impressed with his writing style, his choice of words, and his technique. As a Yaya, I was flooded with pride and love and appreciation for Jonathan. What a goal for a young man, to write and share his story. 

Jonathan told me his class was rewarded, for an accomplishment, with an hour of free time. The children who owned cell phones were even allowed to play on those, if they wanted to. Jonathan chose to write, and edit, and move his story along. That’s a huge choice for such a techy boy, who loves his online games. 

We arrived at our first stop, and Jonathan came up with such great ideas for his family members while we were there, that this store became our only stop. In a short time, we were headed to my house so he could wrap his gift selections. 


Even though he didn’t feel like eating dinner, a cold Icee from Casey’s did sound good to him. And surprisingly, so did a bag of Cheetos. I sincerely hoped Jonathan kept those down, or he would likely never eat another Cheeto again! 


It didn’t take Jonathan long to wrap his purchases. We postponed another project, until he is feeling better. And I will take him out to dinner next week, after Christmas, to make up for no dinner tonight. I appreciate that he listened to his body, and skipped a meal when eating didn’t feel right. He followed his heart though, and completed his shopping, so excited about what he bought for his family that he’s hoping to open presents early! 

I enjoyed our time together, brief as it was, and listening as Jonathan read his creation to me. He’s planning on ten chapters. I downloaded the Wattpad app tonight and followed Jonathan. I’m a big fan of his already. 

Jimmy John’s Lunch with Jonathan

I enjoy having lunch with my grandchildren, at their schools. I pick up the food of their choice and join them in the cafeteria for a meal and conversation. Although their lunch times are short, that 30 minutes still presents a great opportunity for one on one time with that child, who gets all of my attention. 

Today I joined Jonathan at his school. He requested a ham and cheese sub from Jimmy John’s. And this is what’s funny about his request…I’ve never eaten a Jimmy John’s sandwich, ever, until yesterday! I joined friends at one of the Joplin locations and then today, stopped by the Pittsburg Jimmy John’s on the way to Jonathan’s school. Never before…and then Jimmy John’s two days in a row. 


What I discovered yesterday was that this sandwich shop, which promises fresh and tasty products delivered freaky fast, offers a veggie sandwich option. And taking that idea even further, they will make any sub or club into an “unwich”, wrapping the filling in lettuce leaves. 

Perfect. I shifted from thinking I’d just have an unsweet tea while my friends ate…to having an unwich, minus the cheese and mayo. Sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and avocados tucked inside lettuce leaves made a simple and healthy meal. 


Today I picked up another unwich for me and the ham and cheese for Jonathan. We chatted while we ate, covering a broad range of topics. Jonathan is very good at technology and figuring things out. He is eager to help his cousin Aubrey create a YouTube channel soon, as she develops an idea. I love that about this bright, good natured boy, he is always willing to help and offer his knowledge. 

He is also honest and to the point. When I asked him if he was having a fun day, he answered that he didn’t have a fun morning. There was too much math involved! But the day was improving, with a Jimmy John’s lunch and recess up next. 

I love this boy and I am proud to be his Yaya. Our lunch time flew by. Before he headed out to the playground, he humored me with a selfie, because we always capture our time together with a photo. Jonathan probably thinks it’s just one of my quirks, these fun pics. But I’m capturing the moments so I can save them up. I know how fast the years fly by, and how quickly the boy will become the teen and then the man. 

For today, during this moment, we were Jonathan and Yaya, laughing and talking over Jimmy John’s. And I’m smiling tonight, remembering, as I look at our selfie. 

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