Category Archives: Grandchildren

Where the Hell Have I Been?

Where have I been for the last nearly three years? Living. Some days, barely, but I’ve been living and getting through this thing called life. I find that my last post was in June 2020. I think the pandemic really messed with my mind and I really neglected my blogs. But here’s what I have been up to:

  • Grandbaby #2 and I closed Las Vegas down at the start of the pandemic. We were enjoying the trip she chose to celebrate her high school graduation. We went even though things were starting to get crazy (or different) because of COVID. We took masks and hand sanitizer and drove to Las Vegas. We did things, took pictures, and had a great time. As we were preparing to leave, shows were closing, streets were empty, and people were staying home. We basically shut Vegas down.
At CSI: The Experience in Las Vegas
  • We were quarantined at home for my job. I learned to efficiently work from home. I saved a two-hour commute every day. I also learned that I really missed my human connection. We ended up going into the office three days a week, which solved that problem. It was a real surprise to me that I would not be ecstatic just staying by myself 24/7.
  • Grandbaby #3 graduated from high school in May 2020 with a drive-up graduation. It was at least broadcast so I could watch it live! We didn’t go on his celebration trip for another year, but in July 2021, we went to his chosen location—San Diego. He hadn’t ever seen the Pacific Ocean, so we did that first. We did a whole lot—museums, Hop-On/Hop-Off bus trips, great food, we even used our Airbnb host’s amazing tickets to a Padres game. It was, once again, an amazing opportunity to spend time with the adult version of the grandchild I watched being born.

  • I went to Chicago with two friends for our NALS Conference. We spent extra days exploring the amazing city and riding around on the Hop On/Hop Off bus to see even more. We saw a lot, ate some amazing food, and learned a lot. And we celebrated friendship, which I appreciated even more.
  • My mom suffered from dementia for many years. It was hard for me to watch and even harder when she forgot who I was. Dementia is such a horrible, ugly disease. It also forgot to tell my mom’s heart to continue pumping and she died rather unexpectedly in September 2021. I felt like I had lost her years before with her dementia, but she was there, humming Frere Jacques when she was happy—and she hummed it a lot, so at least she was happy even though I was not. I didn’t see her as much as I should have because it was painful and I regret that, but I can’t change it.
  • One way of dealing with my mom’s death was that I got another tattoo. It was bigger than I initially anticipated, but I love it. It reminds me that the pieces of my heart that are gone from this earth come back to me as butterflies that I see almost daily, so I know they are all watching out for me and make me want to make them proud.

  • Once Mom was gone, we tried to do more with my Dad, since he and my sister had been her caretakers for years with no time for themselves. We went on family trips to the casino, celebrated Christmas with almost all of the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids present, went out to dinner, and I listened to a whole lot of stories I hadn’t heard before. And then he got COVID. He hated—HATED—being in the hospital and just wanted to go home. Unfortunately, his body wasn’t producing enough oxygen to make that possible and he passed in February 2022. It crushed me. I was now an orphan. I wasn’t done listening to his stories. I wasn’t done doing the things he wanted to do (like visiting the town in Illinois where he went to elementary school). I wasn’t done showing him how much I appreciated his sacrifices for the life I had. I just wasn’t done. I still have moments where my eyes tear up—especially when I see a butterfly.
  • Grandbaby #4 graduated from high school in May 2021. I also got to watch his graduation ceremony live online as they had a limit on the number of tickets for each graduate. We went on his celebration trip in November 2022. We did what we titled the “Amusement Park Tour.” We drove to California and spent two days in Disneyland/California Adventure, then on to Knott’s Berry Farm, and finally to Universal Studios. We had so much fun on all the rides. I even surprised him by going on rides he didn’t think I would go on (I may be old, but I’m not dead and why the heck not?). I was a little bit worried in Knott’s Berry Farm when they made me leave my glasses in the bin for a couple of the rides because they could have flown off, but those rides were awesome!

  • After celebrating our firm’s 9th anniversary and thinking ahead of how we would celebrate our 10th anniversary, I found out that the founders decided to close the firm as of September 30, 2022. I was lucky enough to work there until December 31, 2022, getting everything buttoned up and transferred out. I’m still doing some stuff closing things up (I’m not sure it will ever end), but on my own schedule. I was unbelievably sad to see this chapter of my life end. I was planning to go part-time in January 2023 since I was eligible for Social Security and wanted to slow down and enjoy life, but on my terms. This changed the plan I had in my head.
  • So in January 2023, I started my own business working with attorneys I had worked with throughout my 40+ year career doing what I do—just from my house. I’m not as busy as I thought I would be, but I’m finding that that is not a bad thing.
  • We celebrated our annual BFF Christmas in January 2023 in Las Vegas. We decided to get dressed up and go to Giada’s for dinner one night. We talked a lot about doing it every time we were there, so we finally did it! And Giada was eating dinner there that night! Our waiter told us that she enjoyed taking pictures and chatting with customers, so we ate slowly and found an opportunity to chat with her for just a couple of minutes and get a picture or two! The food was amazing and Giada was wonderful! We will definitely go back! And I’ve heard a rumor they’re building one here in Arizona, so we may spend more of our monthly dinners there!
  • When I decided to work part-time, I also decided to go on a cruise from Athens into the Adriatic Sea to visit places like Dubrovnik and Corfu. Again, Facebook ads enticed me with Virgin Voyages—an adults-only cruise. The thought of no kids running and splashing in the pool and parents yelling at them while I was sitting and enjoying adult beverages by the pool was the thing that made the decision for me. I upgraded my room to have a huge balcony with a hammock. My travel buddy is coming with me and we are so very excited about our destinations, the food, the drinks, and all the fun we will have! Watch this blog for more about that!
  • Three of my siblings decided to go on a cruise to Alaska, so of course I had to say yes. My husband is going with me on this one and so far we have all scheduled the world’s largest and longest zipline and some amazing dinners!
  • THEN I am going with my sister-in-law on a cruise from Venice to Athens so I will catch all the Greek Islands I will miss the first time! I’m looking forward to spending time with my sister-in-law (who has been part of my life for over 50 years) in one of my favorite places (Venice) and exploring many new places.
  • I got another tattoo that says “One more” to remind me that everything I do could be the last time—every dinner with my friends could be the last time, every visit with my grandbabies and my kids could be the last one, every vacation I take could be the last one. So it is a reminder to live every single experience as if it were the last one and do the things I want to do and be the person I want to be and enjoy the experience as much as possible. I also recently decided that if someone hugs me, I will be the last to let go. I will let my love for them flow through the hug. I will hug as if it is the last time I will hug them.

My plan for the future is to enjoy my life, treat each day as the last one, and share all of that with you by blogging more frequently, including blogging during my many trips this summer/fall. Stay tuned for how my life is going in this second half of my 60s and all the things I’ve learned and continue to learn along the way!

Why I’m Buying Experiences Instead Of Stuff

This was previously posted on another website. Since that site is no longer active, I’m reposting it here.

Trust me, the early marriage/career/kid portion of my life was super tight moneywise. Electricity was shut off for nonpayment, the mailbox was full of “reminder” notices, and every day was stressful. Payday would come . . . and the money would all go. It felt like I was working ridiculously hard with no personal benefit!

But then careers flourished, businesses started doing well, and the kids grew up and moved out. Money! We could go out to dinner if we felt like it. We could go on vacation and enjoy it! I could (and have!) travel the world.

My husband is very concerned about retirement. I am not planning to retire and seem to be doing my damnest to spend it all now. Yes, I realize that’s really dumb and I’m trying to be better.

One thing that we are enjoying doing and are doing well is gifting our money away. Want to know how and why it’s making my life better? Here are some of the things we do:

  • When my children were little we had a tradition of having “child’s name” Day. On that day, I would take the day off work, take them out of school (not every year, but sometimes), and spend the entire day doing whatever they wanted to do. For my son, it was Spring Training games with the Chicago Cubs! For my daughter, it was movies and shopping. I do the “days” with my local grandchildren now, but on weekends. They like to go to Dave and Buster’s and have lunch and play games for amazing (insert sarcasm here) prizes.
  • As the grandchildren have turned 13, I started the tradition of taking a pair of them (opposite families are close in age) to Disneyland for a few days. The oldest two kind of got screwed because I learned a lot about getting the most out of Disneyland after their trip, but it is an experience they all will remember for a long time even after I’m gone.
  • This year saw a new tradition as my oldest granddaughter graduated from high school. She was offered a piece of jewelry or a trip. She chose a trip to Sedona and we had a great time together. Selfish? Yep, but how else do you have several days of quality time with an adult grandchild?
  • For our son’s 40th birthday this year, we sent him and his wife on a bucket list trip to Wrigley Field and to see two Cubs games there. My son had a quadruple bypass at 32, so 40 is kind of a big deal around here. Of course, now we’ll have to do the same for his sister when she turns 40. My daughter-in-law posted this picture on Facebook during that trip:


Immediately when I saw the picture with eyes tearing, my comment on Facebook was “I see an 8-year-old boy in a 40-year-old man’s body looking over a baseball field that he has been waiting to touch since spring training games introduced him to a baseball team that became part of his heart (even the rebuilt one!)” This one moment was so worth it!

So what do I get out of spending the money I work so hard for in a manner that some people would say is “frivolous”? I get joy, satisfaction, the opportunity to show my love with experiences, memories, encouragement, and all the feels. All of that instead of more “stuff” that could be bought with that money filling an already full house and leaving the sorting of all the “stuff” to our kids when we’re gone.

Experiences are always preferable to the things on the Amazon wish list. And, of course, you will enjoy it even more if the experience includes you! Extra memories! Amazon wish lists are easy. Experiences are harder but worth so much more. If you ask one of my grandkids what they got for Christmas the year they turned 13, I guarantee they won’t remember. But if you ask them what they did when they turned 12/13, I do know what they will say . . . DISNEYLAND!

And experiences aren’t always costly. Experiences include traditions. Traditions like holiday dinners, “Santa footprints,” Christmas Eve pajamas, Christmas in July with $20 limit on gifts to exchange, just getting together with people you love to celebrate holidays, birthdays, or just life.

Honestly, I may regret it when I get old and have spent all of my money, but I’ll have great memories and I’m pretty sure one of my kids or grandkids will take me in. You can’t take it with you. While I’m trying hard not to be dumb and spend every penny (trying REALLY hard), I am going to spend as much as I can as long as I can making great memories for me and my family.

I’m Number 2!

#2My grandson recently participated in his state wrestling championship. He was #1 in his weight class last year. He was District Champion in his weight class this year. He was #1 seed for the state championship this year. But he lost the championship in the title match, making him #2 in the state of New Mexico for his high school group and weight class. Number 2. Not number 1. Number 2. And he was really disappointed in himself. But if you think about it, he is number 2! He is just one person away from being the best in the state! And he is better than a whole bunch of other people.

Honestly, coming in number 2 in a field of wrestlers in the entire state of New Mexico for his weight class and high school group is amazing. But we have put so much emphasis on winning that we all think that being number 2 is not good enough. And that is really disappointing. Number 2 is not the same as a participation trophy–it is number 2!

There is only one number 1. And there is only one number 2. While it is always preferable to win when you’re been spending so much time preparing and working and psyching yourself up to win, there is no shame in coming in number 2. You’ve still done better than all of the rest of the people in your group–except one. One person managed to do some piece of what you were doing just a little bit better, knew a little bit more, or got just a little bit luckier than you did.

I have been a “runner up” many times in this lifetime. Was I disappointed? Absolutely. Did I start judging myself with all the things I could have done better? You bet. Did I think about pouting in the corner and never participating again? Yes, I did. But I was number 2 and eventually remembered that even being eligible for number 1 was pretty damn special and was something I should be proud of.

So we should all try our best, work really hard to be the best we can be, strive to be number 1, and be happy with number 2. Number 2 is still a hell of a lot better than being number 45 and it usually takes the focus and expectation off of you while you’re working hard to be number 1 the next time. So I’m ridiculously proud of Jasper for being #2 and I know it will be additional motivation to him to work even harder to go through the process again to be number 1 next year . . . or number 2 . . . or wherever his passion and drive leads him. He’s still better than so many others and he’s the best HE can be. And that’s what’s really important.


Disney Love

I just returned from three days in Disneyland with my third set of grandchildren. I take a pair to Disneyland as the oldest of the pair turns 13. It’s worked out to be every other year. The eldest granddaughters kind of actually got screwed because I didn’t have nearly as much Disneyland experience as I have now. It helps to have Disney fanatics as friends. So this trip was with my turning-13-on-July-4th and just-turned-10 granddaughters. We stayed on property at Paradise Pier (because it was the least expensive of the choices). My thinking with staying on property was (a) we were going on a holiday; (b) I wanted extra magic mornings so they could be assured of riding the most popular rides; (c) I didn’t want to drive and pay parking fees every day; and (d) I wanted walking distance so we could go back to the hotel in the middle of the day if it was hot and/or crowded. By the time I added in the costs and value of parking, magic mornings, and distance, it just made sense.Disney Love

We started our trip with a character dinner at the Disneyland Resort in Goofy’s Kitchen. The chef took us around to show us what the gluten free and dairy allergies should avoid. Everyone got enough to eat, and my dairy-free granddaughter even got special raspberry sorbet for dessert. They had autograph ears I purchased on Etsy and I had Sharpies for the autographs. It worked really well and although the glue on the ears stopped working on Day 2, we continued to carry them around and get autographs and when we returned home, I hot glued the ears back on.

I’m not going to lie, it was H O T! Even for an Arizona native. Sweat was dripping down my back, my front, my face, everywhere. Our first ride was on the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride in California Adventure. The 10-year-old was nervous because she didn’t know what to expect, but they both loved it! Then we did Radiator Racers, which they also liked. Once the parks opened to the public, we went to Disneyland and they wanted to go on Splash Mountain (since we were all sweaty). I checked my app (a MUST have!) and saw that it said there was a 5 minute wait. We started that direction while I explained that that could be wrong because I had never seen a 5 minute wait. Usually about an hour is the norm for me. But we could have gotten a fast pass if the app was wrong. As we got closer and I saw no line around the attraction, I was getting excited. There was no line! We got on right away and they both loved it. They loved it so much we immediately got in the nonexistent line and rode it again. Apparently one of the Disney Cast Members told us before noon is pretty dead, but after noon was really crowded. They were correct! By late morning/early afternoon we learned the beauty of fast passes. For most of the rides we were looking at, the standby time was something like 35-45 minutes and the fast pass was good for an hour starting in 5 minutes from the current time. So we pulled fast passes, stood at the ride for 5 minutes, and then got in the fast pass line and got right on. Why anyone would stand in the standby line in those circumstances is beyond me.

As my daughter is a celiac (gluten intolerance) and my granddaughter has a milk protein allergy, I knew eating at the park would be an adventure. So we got hungry Day 1 at about 12:30 and headed to Carnation Cafe, one of the places my celiac restaurant app said got good reviews for accommodating celiac customers. They, of course, only had room for reservations, so we were turned away and they suggested the Plaza, which allows walk ins. So we went to the Plaza and had to stand in a special place to get the allergy menu, order, and pick up the food. My daughter was really impressed with the baked chicken she got and my granddaughter loved her spaghetti.

We stayed in the park for a little while, but lines were longer and fast passes were hours away, so we went back to the hotel so the girls could test out the slide and the pool. My daughter relaxed in the room while I went down with the girls.

We ended up going back and wandering around for a little while and then went to dinner in Downtown Disney at Tortilla Joes. My daughter was super excited to have the quesadilla that was gluten free and delicious. My granddaughter had a steak salad, from which she ate all the steak and little of the salad (and all of the dressings had dairy) but she ate it dry.

Day 2 was the 4th of July holiday and my granddaughter’s actual birthday. It was magic morning in Disneyland, and we started (a little later than the day before), at Space Mountain. Then we wandered around getting on rides with a short line or a short wait on a fast pass. We made a lunch reservation at Carnation Cafe and ate another meal that everyone enjoyed and didn’t have a reaction to. We continued riding rides and visiting characters. Since it was Abriana’s birthday, we enjoyed dinner at Blue Bayou, again with no food reactions. We then enjoyed a Dole whip float, which I think was a bit much as Abriana got sick and we headed back to the room. I think it was too much food as she doesn’t have a food allergy, but the Dole whip is gluten free and dairy free so everyone got to have one. We missed the Disney fireworks, but could see lots of them in the distance from our room.

Our last day in the parks started later than the day before and then we got in the wrong line for Guardians of the Galaxy until I figured out we missed the entrance for magic morning. Once we got through, we decided to get a fast pass for Guardians and then got in line and rode it, waited about 10 minutes and got on it again with our fast pass (they loved that ride!). The rest of the day was riding the favorites Grizzly River Run, Splash Mountain, and a few others. We lunched (with reservations) at Wine Country Trattoria. It may have been the best meal we had. They had gluten free noodles, so everyone could enjoy their meals. Then everyone was pooped out so we went back to the room. I gave the girls the option of going back to the parks, going to the movies and dinner, or staying in the room. They chose the option of going to the movies. We saw Despicable Me 3! I didn’t fall asleep and they enjoyed it. We had a very late dinner that I didn’t think they would make it through and then off to bed.

We woke to no alarm that last day, showered, and left the hotel. Even though we checked the room pretty thoroughly, I left my Fitbit there. Luckily, they called me a couple of days later and asked if I had left it there and they mailed it back to me. That was great customer service!

All in all I think the girls had a great time, although I would have liked to have spent more time on rides. It was hot and it was crowded and that was getting to everyone, so I understood their schedule. One more grandchild gets the 13th birthday trip in a few years (although I might move his up just in case I’m not able to take him because I’m as old and infirm as my family thinks I will be).

In the meantime, I need to start thinking about special gifts for high school and college graduations. When do they stop growing?

Suggestions for a successful Disney trip:

  • Get the app and check for wait times and ride accordingly
  • Go before noon FOR SURE
  • Check the fast pass times because it may be faster than waiting in the standby line
  • Make lunch reservations in the app for every day you will be there or eat at the Plaza or in Downtown Disney
  • Do the character meal if you want to get autographs. It’s a good chance to get a lot of them with good pictures all at once.
  • If you want pictures, buy the PhotoPass. It’s a little pricey, but if you want to get pictures from the rides and with characters around the park, it is worth it. Ask for “magic” in the scenery pictures. We got one with Tinkerbell in our hands that they staged perfectly for the “magic.”
  • If you are in a wheelchair or have a stroller, please pull over if you want to stop. Stopping in the middle of the road is frustrating for the people behind you trying to get around you through oncoming traffic.
  • Don’t get frustrated and have a great time.

What suggestions do you have for a great time at Disneyland? Add them to the comments!




My Favorite Grandchild

GrandchildrenDo you have a favorite child or favorite grandchild? The answer to that question is (or certainly should be) NO! Unless, of course, your child/grandchild is an only child, it is unfair to the children to show favoritism.

I have what we call 7 1/2 grandchildren. Four of them belong to my son and three of them to my daughter. The 1/2 belongs to my son’s ex-wife and her husband. With that many children, it would be really easy to pick favorites. Each one of them has a very different personality–even in the same family. They are each their own individual with their own blessings.

So how could you possibly choose one? They each offer something to your life. Mine offer me intelligence, sportsmanship, kindness, beauty, personality, friendliness, sweetness, bravery, and the list goes on and on. They each bring their own piece of themselves into my life and I am incredibly proud of each one of them for different reasons.

There may well be some things about each of them that I like better than others, but I would not ever let that be visible to them. My greatest hope is that in each of their eyes, they see that I love them all equally and unconditionally and that I love ALL the parts of them.

Can you imagine how obviously favoring one child over another feels to the children? It is definitely a form of bullying. How can you possibly bully someone you love so much? Bullying is bullying and is NEVER OK. When your children start having children, you will not believe that you can possibly love as many of them as much as you can. As my son likes to say of the day my second granddaughter was born: “Her heart grew three sizes that day.” (My son is a bit of a smart ass.) One way that I like to treat them equally is that I take them each out for a day near their birthday. Once they are out of a diaper and I can understand them fluently, we go out alone for lunch and shopping wherever they want to go. Until they meet that criteria, a parent has to come along to translate (AND change the diapers). For many years, we all ended up at Build-A-Bear. These days, we all end up at Dave and Buster’s. It is one day a year that they all look forward to. A day spent with just them and me. They don’t have to share my attention with anyone else. They get it all. It was  a tradition I started with my own children when they were small. My son’s birthday happened to fall during Spring Training season here in Arizona, so we usually included a trip to a Cubs game on “Brent Day.” He still talks about it and it made him a lifelong Cubs fan (and he was ecstatic when they won the World Series this year). I’m sure you could ask him what he got for his birthday when he was 10 and he wouldn’t remember. But ask him what he did on Brent Day when he was 10 and he probably remembers that.

Another tradition is taking them in pairs to Disneyland (with a parent). It started as a way to celebrate when they turn 13. My children were very kind to space their children very conveniently for me. My first granddaughter was my daughter’s first child; the next year, my son’s first daughter was born; the following year, my daughter’s first son; the next year, my son’s first son; the following year, my daughter’s second daughter; then they got off sync and I lose count without some research for my son’s last two children. Since I couldn’t afford a big Disneyland trip every single year for five years plus, we pair them off. The two oldest girls have been on their trip and the two boys have been on theirs. This year it is time for the third pair of kids to go. The girls have been counting the time to their trip since their brothers returned two years ago. Arrangements have now been made, some swag purchased, and excitement is building for our trip this summer. The one thing that always entertains me is that they are all oh so worried about the last little brother/cousin and who will accompany him on his Disneyland trip. I think he will have plenty of volunteers.

Next year we start a tradition of celebrating high school graduations. I haven’t figured that out yet, but am thinking it will be memorialized by jewelry that will last their lifetime so they will know that I am with them (and watching them) every day of their entire lives.

My life is truly and deeply blessed because I am able to keep these traditions and love on all my grandchildren as individuals. And why shouldn’t I? They are individuals–each their own amazing person. Since I can’t make them stop growing, I’m excited to see how they each live their unique life. And then if you’re lucky enough to maintain some kind of relationship with the “ex’s” in your children’s lives and share your heart with children who share not one single drop of your DNA, you are lucky indeed. There is no child on earth whose life could not be better by being loved. All of them. Equally.