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!

Tiger…Tiger

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.

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. 

Journey 83: Continual Joy

journey of joy

My journey today was a string of events that didn’t necessarily have any connection to each other. I found it difficult to narrow in on one aspect of this Tuesday, and stepping back, saw that my journey today might resemble the humorous Family Circus cartoon, where one of the kids’ journey throughout the day is depicted by a wandering path of dashes. Individually, each small journey was a dellight. Combined, the day’s journey was raised to a level of deep and abiding joy.

I started the journey with lunches with Joey and Oliver, at their school. This was my second visit and I knew the routine….where to check in, where the cafeteria was, where to sit to best watch for the boys. I enjoy these 30 minute breaks with the grandkids. It is a time of chatting and laughing as they eat, surrounded by a constantly shifting sea of kids. I find the setting cheerful and the experience entertaining as the school principal, wearing a mic, keeps up a steady interaction with the kids. Today was song day and I heard the song “Happy” twice and “Brave” once. The children sang with gusto. I was intrigued by “Brave”, sung by Sara Bareilles, and listened to the video on YouTube several times throughout the afternoon. What a great song about speaking up and bravely living your truth. Joey and Oliver were wonderful conversationalists and lunch companions and I left with a smile on my face and love in my heart.

journey of joy Oliver

journey of joy Joey

A quick impromptu lunch followed for me, which a friend ended up paying for. Both were unexpected and enjoyed. Next stop, the purchase of the DVD The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, released today and highly anticipated by me. I look forward to a thoughtful viewing of this film at home, where I can stop and rewind any scene that calls to me, and freely express the emotion that wells up during this final Middle Earth film.

journey of joy The Hobbit

Picking up granddaughter Aubrey from school, we met grandson Dayan at his home. With snacks nearby and a Dr. Who episode playing on the TV, we spread out art materials and began work on mail art postcards that will travel to Austria. The theme of this project is “turquoise”. Dayan had the brilliant idea of photocopying monuments and buildings in cities around the world, with the colors turquoise and blue predominant in the pics, and using those to cut out the letters to spell turquoise. For example, the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, Scotland became the E. This is a perfect fit for his interests. My piece will reflect my journey this year and incorporate the open door symbol. I’ll use turquoise and black paint and a variety of textures. Aubrey decided to make a postcard too, entering into the experience wholeheartedly, creating a sea of turquoise and adding the word turquoise above it. She was introduced to Dr. Who this afternoon and loved the episode that we watched, titled The Girl in the Fireplace. I enjoyed the time spent with my eldest and youngest grandchildren, appreciative of how patient Dayan is with his little cousin as he explains things to her. He showed her where various countries are located on his big wall map in his room. Aubrey is a quick learner and asked him great questions.

Journey of joy mail art

To cap off the day, I met with my book club group. I so appreciate this enlightened and authentic group of women. Each of us is on a journey of growth, not seeking answers so much as seeking life and the freedom to enjoy it deeply. We are reading our way through The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. The chapters on Who Are You?, The Lucid Self and Infinite Energy sparked interesting and soulful conversations and honest and open sharing of our unfolding journeys.

Interspersed with the highlights of the day were calls and texts with family, clients, lenders and friends. It was an ordinary day, made extraordinary by the connections with others and the living of life. Awareness brings gratitude for each moment and the desire to fully engage in that moment, offering out of a full heart, receiving graciously from the bounty and goodness of others. It was an incredibly joyful day, measured in steps and smiles, heartbeats and hugs….my favorite kind of day.

journey of joy untethered soul