Grandparent Life

We kept Sarah and Miles’ kids Saturday morning through Monday morning and had a busy, fun time.  Beck was supposed to have a soccer game early Saturday AM but it was raining and the game was cancelled.  I was kinda glad because it was going to be a full day!  This gave us time to have a leisurely breakfast, hang out, play, get dressed and set out for the next scheduled event–Elle’s first volleyball game.  She’s been practicing for a couple of weeks but had never played volleyball before now.  You can tell the girls are still learning because hardly anyone can get the ball back over the net once it’s served.  So basically, if you can serve over the net, you earn a point pretty easily.  🙂  It was still fun to watch and they won both of their games.  Elle even got one serve over the net and got a point for her team. Yippee!  She said she loves volleyball, and might even love it more than soccer, which has always been her first love (and don’t tell Daddy!).  She’s a busy girl and wants to be involved in everything.

We came home for a little break, had lunch, and then Elle had a soccer game. Jack was napping so Rich stayed home with the boys while I went to Elle’s game.  They lost badly, which was a bit of a surprise because they are usually  pretty dominant.  Elle did score one of their two goals but otherwise was disappointed in the way things turned out.  But I think it’s good for kids to learn to lose gracefully and not be too caught up in the idea of winning.

Elle and Beck talked Rich into making hot chocolate–maybe they think fall is in the air.  We have had a few cooler days lately. That night Rich talked the kids into watching “The Jungle Book.”  We had wanted to take them to see it at the theater when it first came out but the kids both thought it would be “too scary!” They agreed to rent it on TV and ended up liking it a lot, so that was a success.  Oh, and Elle learned how to blow a bubble gum bubble!

Sunday we lazed around the house for most of the day, the kids “helped” Grandpa wash the car, then Elle had cheerleading practice. Didn’t I say this girl was into everything?  We had a little bit of a fiasco because she wore her uniform to practice and when we drove up, all the other girls were wearing regular clothes.  She was upset and embarrassed and didn’t want to get out of the car. I told her it would be okay and no one would care but she was insistent that she couldn’t do it.  So I told her coach the situation (she was very kind and understanding) and we hurried back home to change.  I was torn between insisting that she just get out of the car and go (suck it up) and giving in.  She was so distraught and I remembered all of those feelings of not fitting in and being embarrassed to be “different” and decided it was not the time to teach a lesson about sucking it up.  🙂  Plus I am a grandma and I am allowed to give in to the grandkids, right?

Jack woke up at 4:30 this morning for some reason. I tried to let him cry in his crib for a little while, hoping he’d go back to sleep, but he didn’t.  I went in and rocked him for awhile till he went back to sleep around 5.  Then I couldn’t fall asleep!  I had my alarm set for 6:30 to get the older two up for school and I think I dozed off at 6.  Elle and Beck were easy and cooperative getting ready for the day and Rich stayed home with Jack while I drove the big kids to school. They were proud of me for getting them there with no problems …. and EARLY!  Hurray for Gigi!

Sarah got home around 11 AM (Miles went straight to work) and Jack was so happy to see her! It was very sweet.

Meanwhile, Rich and I took our cats Ajax and Kali to meet their new vet and get their annual checkups and shots.  They do not like to get into their carriers and probably have traumatic memories of those long flights from AK to TX.  Kali kinda hunkers down and gets quiet once in her carrier but Ajax cries and whines and carries on.  Once we got to the vet’s, though, they were both great and let her examine them without freaking out. They were even quiet through their shots and getting microchipped, which we thought we should do now that we live in the big city, a far cry from our little island in AK.

Kali says, “this is the life!”

Now we are trying to get ready for our road trip, leaving tomorrow afternoon as soon as I am finished with my volunteer work.  Stay tuned for dispatches from the highways and byways.


Labor Day

We’ve had a quiet three day weekend as all of the girls, hubbies, and kids were at their dad’s for his annual Labor Day gathering.  They always have lots of fun and the cousins love having this time together. Judging from the photos posted on Instagram and FB, a great time was had by all.

On Saturday, Rich and I went to the Bishop Arts District to browse the shops.  Apparently, everyone else had the same idea–it was hard to find a parking spot and the area was crowded with people.  We bought a few little gifts to take with us on our upcoming road trip, but otherwise just wandered around.  Sometimes we talk about “maybe we should open some kind of cool little shop,” but usually we end up deciding it’s too much work and we don’t really want to take it on at this point in our lives!

We watched two movies, “Brooklyn,” which we really enjoyed, and “The Hundred Foot Journey,” which was okay but pretty predictable.  Rich worked in the yard and we both did some chores around the apartment, ran errands, did a little bit of online shopping, chatted with a few people, and mostly took it easy.

I’ve been firming up our itinerary for our drive to NJ and looking forward to seeing everyone along the way.  We are stopping in Missouri to see one of my high school friends and her husband, then to the Chicago area to see my cousins, followed by a night in a hotel in Ohio or WV (no one to stay with!), on to Maryland to see a TX friend (and her mom), then to VA to my niece’s (where my sister will already be visiting).  There we’re having dinner with my sis, niece and hubby, my cousin and aunt, and some friends we met on our Australian cruise a few years ago.  After spending the night, we’ll take my sister with us to Mom’s in NJ the next morning. Whew!

I’m hoping to see a bunch of NJ family while at Mom’s.  I have one brother and family plus a ton of cousins there, and a couple of aunts still living.  My other brother and family from Wyoming will actually be there ahead of us and will have a house “down the shore” the week we arrive, so we will probably go down for a day and night to visit.  I am sure every day will be full and something tells me we might need a vacation from our vacation when we get back!  🙂

Elle loves the cats and is very excited to take care of them while we are gone.  I’m sure Mama will end up helping her somewhat but she wants to be responsible for feeding them and cleaning their box daily, which we appreciate.  We are leaving some money with Sarah and she will pay Elle each day after the chores are done, just to keep her motivated.  🙂

As we end our three day weekend, I am thankful for the labor movement and all that has been accomplished by and for working people over the years.  We still have strides to make  in assuring that everyone has a fair wage and safe working conditions but we certainly wouldn’t be where we are without organized labor, collective bargaining, and civil disobedience when necessary.  Solidarity forever.


It’s that time again

Back to school.  New beginnings.  Pristine notebooks and newly sharpened pencils and brand new markers and fresh boxes of crayons.  Backpacks and lunch boxes.  A few special outfits.  Haircuts.  Going to bed earlier but not being able to sleep.  Excitement and worry. Looking forward but also feeling a little bit afraid.  Hoping for a good year, a nice teacher, friends.  Vowing to be organized, to stay on top of things, to develop a routine.  I can remember all of these thoughts and feelings to one degree or another every year as school began.  I liked school as a young kid but always felt a little anxious and never quite fit in as much as I wanted to.  This only got worse as the years went by.  By high school, I just wanted to get finished and get out of there!

I can imagine the grandkids feeling at least some of those emotions as another school year begins.  Everyone finished the first week successfully despite a few little bumps in the road for a couple of them.  I hope the bumps even out and they all have a happy time, learn a lot, and feel loved and nurtured by teachers and friends.  So many hours of the day are spent at school and I want it to be a good experience for them.

I grabbed these back to school pix from the girls’ FB pages.

My niece Missy lives in Japan where her husband is stationed with the Air Force. She had the opportunity to come home for a quick visit so she and her parents, along with Aunt Frankye, came over for dinner on Thursday night. We had a great time catching up on everyone’s news and hearing all about life in Japan.

Clockwise: Missy with her dad, her mom, her Aunt Kelle, me, Aunt Frankye, and Sarah
Sarah, Aunt Frankye, and Missy

Jack loves Ajax and wants to come see him every day.  He is really cute with the kitty.

Saturday we went to Elle’s soccer game, where she was quite the little star and scored four goals!  Unfortunately, I have no photos of the game.  Sarah and Miles had tickets to see Coldplay with friends that evening so we brought the kids home with us and stayed with them till their parents got home.  Beck was already wearing this tie-dyed shirt and found a headband somewhere, picked up Elle’s harmonica, and my thought was “what decade are we in?”  🙂


I went back to my acupuncturist on Friday and he has decided he has never had a patient like me in 30 years.  OMG.  He can’t understand why I am not feeling better.  He was not very encouraging and seemed irritated with me so I didn’t make another appointment.

We went to some estate sales on Saturday; didn’t find much but I did buy two skirts for $3.50 each and Rich got a backgammon set.  I still find estate sales mostly sad.  I feel bad for the people who once lived in these homes that are now being picked over by strangers. And it reminds me once again that I don’t want to leave such a mess for my kids!

Rich cooked for the family on Sunday night and we had a nice time visiting, as we always do.  Now we’re into the second week of school–here’s to a great year for all!

Another week gone by

Sometimes I think retirement is busier than working was. I know that is not true, especially in the early days when I was working full time and raising three daughters–I look back now and wonder how I did it.  When the kids were really young, my ex worked in an oilfield related job and had an odd schedule where he was on call and worked a certain number of days on, then a day off, so it was different every week. He was not home evenings and weekends very often, or was working into the wee hours and sleeping during the day.  Therefore I usually had to get three little girls ready every morning, dropped off at day care, and arrive at my job by 8 AM.  I think I went through several years in a daze because life was so hectic all the time.  So I KNOW that work life was busier than my life now, but I manage to fill my days up even without a job.  And it’s more fun!

Sarah, Miles and kids arrived back home last Sunday; Rich fixed dinner and we enjoyed hearing all about their vacation.  We went by the garden and cleared out some more plants that were wasted away and finished producing. Surprisingly we are still getting eggplant and a few peppers.  I’m also responsible for taking care of part of the butterfly garden and noticed a few Monarchs flitting around.  Rich made moussaka tonight using our eggplant and has been making baba ganoush regularly since it’s something I love.   Both very yummy.


I had another appointment with my acupuncturist, which was nice and relaxing but still hasn’t affected my headaches.  I did some research online and it looks like the usual recommendation is six sessions to help headaches so I will give it a little more time. I also found info on “chronic daily headaches,” which I have self-diagnosed since no one seems to want to give me a diagnosis.  haha  Of course, they are hard to treat. I am really annoyed by the whole thing, but trying to ignore them and carry on.

The kids go back to school on Monday. They got calls from their teachers (gone are the days of walking up to the school to see the classroom lists on the door, I guess) and went to “meet the teacher” yesterday afternoon.  They had little get-togethers with their classmates today.  Elle will be in 3rd and Beck in Kindergarten and we are hoping for a great year for both.  Jack will be going to preschool a couple of days a week so it will be quiet around the house!  The out of town kids are all heading back to school, too:  Aidan in 7th (how can that be?), Ally in 3rd, Emery in 1st, Luke in PreK, Ada will also go to preschool twice a week.

Ajax and Kali love to go outside and we hate to keep them cooped up in the apartment all day.  Kali doesn’t really leave the yard, thankfully, but our explorer boy Ajax takes off regularly. I’ve been reading on social media about coyotes killing cats around the neighborhood so we’ve decided to make Ajax stay in after dark.  He is not happy with us but we’d be heartbroken if we lost him.  Here he is sitting on the barbecue pit.  He likes to head over the fence and who knows what kind of mischief he gets into!


Mid August

We’re keeping busy even though the kids are gone!  Last week I went to see my new dentist, had a check-up and cleaning and, thankfully, liked everyone at the office.  I didn’t relish the idea of dentist shopping! One bad thing about retirement is dealing with all the issues associated with finding insurance on the marketplace (a blog post all its own one day); we currently have no dental insurance so it was all out of pocket.  Luckily I don’t need any dental treatment at the moment because the check-up, X-rays and cleaning were pricy enough.  🙂  But I’d been wanting a cleaning for a long time so I am happy I sucked it up and got it done.

I went to my volunteer work on Tuesday and again on Wednesday because we are short handed for client interviewers.  I am also being cross trained to be a “day coordinator,” the volunteer responsible for the day.  It’s not difficult but a little time consuming with paperwork.  I will then be able to fill in for coordinators who are absent for whatever reason.

Rich is becoming our yard-man and handyman, keeping the lawn mowed and shrubs trimmed and plants watered at home, plus doing the majority of the work at the garden.  The previous owners had left a little succulent garden planted in a bird feeder and it apparently toppled over a few nights ago (it was set in the ground a little lopsided so we are not sure if the kids’ dog accidentally knocked it over or it just lost its balance).  We salvaged the plants we could and then took a trip to the garden store to get some small ones to add to the mix.

Thursday I went to an acupuncturist to try some alternative treatment for my longstanding headaches.  I’d had acupuncture once before when we lived in AK and was having back pain; the acupuncturist was an itinerant who came out to our island to consult.  I wasn’t scared or worried about it but at one point he stuck a needle into my thigh and I thought I was going to come off the table!  It sent some sort of weird electrical shock throughout my body and hurt quite a bit. And did nothing for my back pain.  But yesterday was good, the doc was nice, if not very talkative, and the needles didn’t bother me at all.  It was actually very relaxing and I almost fell asleep a couple of times.  Then I laid on my stomach and he inserted more needles for the accompanying neck pain. I didn’t actually expect anything to happen the first time-and it didn’t-but he seemed to feel that things would improve with further treatment so I made another appointment for next week.

Susan, Corey and Ally came to town around 1 PM, ate lunch with us, hung out and chatted, Ally swam, we all went to get frozen yogurt and then they left to go to Gwen Stefani’s concert tonight. They were taking Ally as a surprise and she had no idea where they were heading.  I just saw a picture on Instagram and Susan said Ally was happy and excited. What fun!  We didn’t get to see Aidan because he went on a “guys’ trip” with his other Grandpa this weekend.

Sarah, Miles and kids should be home tomorrow. They are stopping in Amarillo at Bonnie’s and spending the night so the cousins should all have fun playing together.  I told Sarah I’d do her grocery shopping so she wouldn’t have to run out to the store as soon as she got home. Kinda nice having Mama around!  🙂

We celebrate Ada

We took a quick trip to Amarillo Friday through Sunday. Ada will be 2 years old on the 11th but Bonnie and David had a little party for her on the 6th since it was one of the few Saturdays David didn’t have to shoot wedding photos.  We had a donut party in the morning with David’s family and some friends.  Ada was really cute blowing out her candle and opening presents.  She loves baby dolls and got several for gifts, plus a cute trundle bed for them.  She played and played the rest of the weekend, putting those babies in bed, covering them up, saying they needed pillows and blankets, feeding them bottles and generally being a good little doll mama.  🙂

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Later in the day, Bonnie and I took the kids plus their cousin Hannah to the Discovery Center’s 40th anniversary bash.  It was hot and the lines were long but the kids had a ball. First up, Emery and Hannah wanted to climb the inflatable rock wall.  Bonnie took Luke and Ada to get their faces painted while I stayed with the girls.  It took forever, but eventually they each had a turn and did a great job going all the way to the top and rappelling back down.

Then off to get faces painted

The girls wanted to go on the zip line and Luke now wanted to do the rock climbing wall so we split up again.  The line for rock climbing was really long.  Zip line wait was long, too,  but seemed to be moving faster.  As we got closer, I saw a sign that said “must be 60 pounds.”  I texted Bonnie and asked if I should let Emery go if I wasn’t questioned about her weight and she said yes.  No one said a word (and there were even smaller kids going) so off she and Hannah went up the steps to the zip line platform.  I guess there was a reason for the 60 pound limit because Emery did not zip very quickly! At one point, she was kicking her legs to try to make herself go faster.

We finished there and went back over to the rock climbing wall where Luke was STILL waiting his turn.  Finally he got to the front of the line, got in his harness and took right off.  I couldn’t believe he actually climbed to the very top of the wall! Great job, Luke!  Then….he was too scared to come back down. Poor guy.  He wasn’t crying or upset but he wouldn’t let go so the guy holding the rope could guide him down, and he wouldn’t jump back and rappel.  Slowly, slowly, he inched his way back down step by step. Did I say the line was really long??  And it was really hot outside??  I know people were frustrated and impatient but everyone was pretty kindhearted about it.  Bonnie apologized several times and once Luke was down, he got some applause and we high-tailed it to the food trucks for something to eat.  🙂

We sat on the lawn and ate, then the kids ran around and rolled down the hill, laughing and playing with each other, totally carefree. It was fun to see them so joyful.

After more visiting, talking, laughing, eating, playing games and hanging out, we got up Sunday morning and headed back to Dallas.  Sarah, Miles and their three are on vacation in Colorado so we are on our own for a few more days and trying to get lots of chores finished up.

Around the house

First dinner in our little Granny apartment.

13932689_10206922858206385_2814281590031538359_nWe’re still getting things put away, hung, and organized, but it’s shaping up.

Beck couldn’t sleep while his parents were out of town at the end of July. Elle had gone to a slumber party and Jack was already conked out.   I told Beck he could come out on the couch and lie down for a little while–he was immediately gone.  In a weird position!IMG_2807

Ajax has been exploring more and seems to like going over the fence into the neighbors’ yard. We will see how they feel about that.  FullSizeRender-4