Feeding The Grandkids


When my kids left for college I had a bolt of wisdom hit my brain like lightning,

“I want them to come home.” 

You might say, “that’s not wisdom, that’s separation anxiety.”

No, it was wisdom. When they stepped out of that door our relationship changed. They were making decisions without my guidance, without the benefit of my experience – unless they asked.

They’ve made decisions I didn’t particularly like or agree with and I’ve had to stand back with my mouth shut and let the consequences happen, let them struggle, let them cry, my heart breaking knowing that they could have avoided it. I’ve comforted them and helped them out of the ditch all the while biting my tongue to keep from saying, “I could’ve told you that would happen.”

Why didn’t I step in? They needed to learn, they needed their own experience. And I knew that if I jumped in and told them what to do that we would’ve had World War Three or at the very least it would have been an insult to their pride. And like I said, “I want them to come home.” Oh, I’ve spoken up when the danger or risk was greater than the possible conflict. That is how “Pick Your Battles” works. For the most part, though, I treat them as educated, reasonable adults able to make informed decisions for their age. And I let them do it without always having to give my advice – unless they ask. 

And I am applying this same modus operandi to feeding the grandkids.

I mean, to be honest, I have to recognize that I haven’t been the parent of a small child for 27 years. There’s a lot of research and data that’s come out. There’s a heck of a lot of information at my kid’s fingertips than was never available to me. They are making informed decisions, they don’t really need my advice.

Not to mention that if they did take my antiquated, albeit “good enough for you when you were a kid and you survived” advice, they would stand out like a freak show among their peers. I mean, even if granny used to let me suck on a chicken leg bone that’s just not done nowadays. And if my kids allow their kids to eat some of the stuff I gave them to eat, their friends would report them to the “horrible and dangerous parent” police. I just found out last night that corn was on the list of dangerous choking hazard foods. Corn.

So, as I’m navigating this new grandparent land and wondering how to deal with feeding the grandkids, I’ll amend my previously successful guiding star of wisdom: “I want them to come home and bring the grandkids.”

I mean, is it really so important to me to push some foods on my grandkids that their parents don’t want them to have just to prove some kind of point and cause an argument or worse still, cause them not to trust me enough to leave my grandkids with me?

Heck to the no!

I want to be around them so much that I will lay down my pride and ask, “What would you like for them to eat.” Not a problem.

And I solemnly swear that I will not feed them any of the “danger foods” in secret. I do not want to lose their trust.

Relationship is more important than my pride.

But I would like to say for the record that I did raise 2 kids and we all survived. I do know what I’m doing, really. And I was allowed to do it my own way – so I guess I should allow my kids the same freedom.

So, give me that list of “danger foods” the avocado and quinoa and let’s do this!

Hope you all have a great weekend. I will be blasting you with blatant bragging 1st birthday pictures soon, just get ready to skip that post!



This Was The Goal!



Of course there are many factors, many purposes and many reasons because life is not that simple. But one of the goals of freeing up, lightening up and streamlining my life was to do just what I’m doing right now…being able to spend A LOT of time with my kids and grandkids who live half way across the country.

I packed up pretty much all of my clothes in a plastic bin- because I’ve cut down the size of my wardrobe, remember – and threw them in the car and drove 15 hours to my kids to stay for a month.

It’s okay. The husband is okay with me leaving. Not jumping up and down but okay especially when I reminded him he’ll have control of the remote and he can cook all the crazy, spicy, weird foods that stink up the house he wants to.

But let me tell you, it was a breeze leaving the house. Back in the day it would have taken me a week or so to get ready to leave. I would have had to wash a ton of clothes and dig out a suitcase. I would have probably gone shopping because I never really had stuff to wear because I hated most of my clothes in my closet. So, thank you KonMari!

I would have cleaned the house (because I hate coming home to a dirty house) which would have led to the sorting and cramming and the frustration of realizing I need to throw stuff out but I’m too stressed because I have to go on this trip to stop and do that right now which leads to the guilt of having just crammed all my crap into weird places just to make the house look neat and clean and putting discarding and organizing on my to-do list for when I get home. Whew!

Then I would have to pay the bills which would lead to the same ordeal only in the office and file cabinet followed by the guilt of feeling unorganized and worring if we have enough insurance in case there’s a flood or the apocalypse and knowing none of my important files are in a fire/water safe safe and then feeling guilty for not really knowing where those files are, in fact not knowing which files are important. Whew!

But since I’ve done all the decluttering and organizing, leaving for the trip was easy. I paid the bills, filed the necessary papers which took me 20 minutes max. I had one small, and I mean small load of laundry to do. I didn’t have to pick and choose what clothes to take because I only have like 4 pair of pants, 2 shorts, and several shirts. I threw in my sneakers for walking and sandals. I wear my hoop earrings almost every day and my fitbit so I didn’t have to figure out what jewelry to wear with which outfit. I slimmed down my every day grooming routine, so I just threw everything I use everyday in my toiletry bag. I didn’t really have to clean the house because the house stays pretty clean everyday now that I don’t have a lot of clutter.

So, I put all my clothes in a plastic see-through bin so I wouldn’t have to dig through a suitcase for a month. I packed a tote bag to take into the hotel with me for my one night stay halfway there. One basket of snacks and water and I was on my way!

I didn’t leave with that uneasy, guilty feeling of having left things undone or unfinished or out of order. I left free.

Now, I’m here and we’re already having loads of fun. I think all those FaceTime sessions has helped make me a familiar face with the grandboys. They are sweet and social anyway, but they’re not looking at me like I’m something from another planet.

So, now to settle into a routine and try not to be an annoyance. You know, “the mother-in-law.”

Let me say sorry/not sorry if I write and post pics about my grandboys for the next little while.




Hydrangea Cupcakes for Summer!

I grew up hearing them referred to as “Snowball bushes.”

Later I heard they were actually called hydrangeas.

Either way they are so pretty and they represent summer in my mind.

Since I already had my baking tools out from my Smash Cake frenzy I thought I’d try my hand at making some hydrangea cupcakes.

I read a few baking blogs I found on Pinterest and watched a couple of  how to videos about how to pipe buttercream hydrangeas, I thought I’d take a stab – or a spatula – at it!

I think they turned out pretty good!

hydrangea cake2

Peace & buttercream to you!



Why I Love Virtual Photo Walks

vpw postcard

I’ve mentioned Virtual Photo Walks before and I’ll probably keep mentioning it because I think it is SO great!

When I was in my 30’s my older sister was diagnosed with a terminal heart condition and given a few months to live. Being a stubborn, disciplined person, she did everything the doctor told her to do and she lived 6 years longer than they expected. I was one of her main caregivers. Having 2 small kids and caring for her was quite a challenge. My kids spent much of those 6 years in waiting rooms, hanging out with my sister as she gradually became housebound. We watched a lot of TV. We watched all of the O.J. Simpson trial. All of it. (Can you detect my sigh and eye rolling?)

Fast forward to 2015. My best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Like my sister, I walked by her side until she passed. Again, I spent many hours and days in waiting rooms and hanging out at her house watching TV and dreaming of trips we could take if we could.

I don’t know how I forgot about Virtual Photo Walks, but I did. Too many things on my mind, I think.

I remember when I initially found it I thought, “This is the greatest idea ever!” And when I ever have time I’m going to volunteer to be a photographer for them.

Since I’ve “retired” I have started volunteering with them and I want to spread the word, that’s why I’m writing another post about it.

What Is Virtual Photo Walks? 

VPW is a non-profit organization run by volunteers who are passionate about giving those isolated by illness, age or disability the chance to “escape” their isolation and travel the world!

John Butterill, the founder, organizes the walks through a video conferencing app called Zoom. Photographers from all over the world work with John and plan walks and visits to sites from archaeological digs in Russia to volcanoes in Hawaii to sites in Japan. John sets up the video conferencing meeting and connects the participants who may be in their homes or rehabs, day care centers, nursing homes or are in the hospital and they connect with their computers to participate in the walk.

“The Secret Sauce” 

The magic of Virtual Photo Walks is the live, real time interaction the participants can have with the photographer and also the others who are on the walk with them.


The participants can talk to the photographer, ask questions and make requests like, “Can we see what’s to your right?” or “Can you take a photo of that tree?” Everyone laughs together and are amazed together in real time. It is a completely different experience than watching a video.

I joined a walk to Yosemite a couple of weeks ago from my office. It was so moving to be with the other participants as we saw the mountains and a beautiful waterfall together. On another walk to an archaeological dig in Russia we had participants from Israel and Japan. It was so interesting.

What VPW Can Do

I remember spending endless hours, days, months and years indoors with my sister and later, my best friend. Too weak to go out and sometimes even to leave the bed. Both of them had to restrict their exposure to germs so even though they might have felt okay, it was too dangerous for them to go out. It was isolating! They were lonely!

Virtual Photo Walks can give people who are isolated a chance to travel to another place and do it with a community of people! Nobody cares what you look like – you can cut the camera off to yourself so no one sees you if you’re worried. Everyone is just glad you joined. And away you go to some beautiful or interesting place together to get away from your bed or hospital room for an hour.

It really does carry you away for a while. It’s magical.

Please Share! 

Here is a great video about VPW. Please share with people you know. Share on social media!

As I said, VPW is a non-profit organization. It’s free to join. The participant just needs internet access to their computer.

You are required to make a request to join because John makes sure all the participants are safe and he protects their privacy.

If you or someone you know would like to participate in a walk, you can join here: 


If you’d like to volunteer to be a photographer and share the beauty of the world around where you live or where you travel, you can volunteer here:


You’ll need a smart phone, a good data plan and a tripod.

If you’d like to donate, that would be amazing! Please share with businesses who could possibly donate to help provide equipment and internet access. Donate here:


Thanks for your help in this very worthy cause!






Why Mature Adults Need To Take A Personality Test

The Guide to Manliness

I’ve been under the impression most of my life that as someone ages the more they become sure of who they are. As I’ve gotten older, I haven’t found that to be true. I have found that maturing, like every other phase of life requires me to start over again and figure out how I fit, how to function and how I can contribute.

When I started college back in the Ice Age I was required to take a personality test. I don’t remember the results and in my arrogance, I didn’t quite see the purpose. Later, in my 30’s I went back to college and was required to take another personality test. My results were surprisingly accurate. In a course I took I was required to administer and interpret personality tests for 20 different people. The results were freakishly spot on.

Since taking that course I have administered tests to many people, most of them college bound students, like I was, who needed a little direction in their new phase of life.

So, how are older adults any different? Just like the new college student, we are entering into a new chapter of adulthood. As a college student we were entering into a new phase of life, taking on new relationships, moving into a different living situation and community and so, I think, as an adult I’m not so different. I’m learning to parent adults, adjusting to new family members as an in-law and grandparent. I’m considering a new career, albeit a 2nd or 3rd one. Many of us are moving to new communities to retire, navigating health issues, losing loved ones and making new friends. Why wouldn’t it be beneficial to stop and revisit who we are at this point?

I understand that some people don’t like personality tests, I think they equate them to horoscopes or palm reading. I also think some people don’t like them because they don’t like to have “their mail read” so to speak. They find it disconcerting that a test can reveal tendencies or weaknesses about them that they are trying hard to hide or ignore. As in anything in life, if we look for the negative we will find it. If we look for the positive, we will find that, too.

I would encourage you to take a personality test as an adult. I think we can’t truly appreciate the accuracy of personality tests until we get older and can see how spot on they are. Hindsight is 20/20 you know. Taking a personality test as an adult can be very revealing and encouraging. You may find that you actually gravitated toward a career that best suited your personality type. Or that you naturally found ways to overcome your personality’s weaknesses in creative ways. You might even discover that you navigated relationships very similar to others with your personality type and did it quite well.

If you took a test as a college student you will most likely find that you are not the same type as an older adult. We have changed and adapted to our circumstances. We have been affected by life and experiences. Not only can a test help you discover who you are now but it can encourage you and affirm the person you have become.

I have found that revisiting personality tests at this point in my life, as an older adult, has been very helpful in several ways.

  1. In considering a 2nd career, volunteering and choosing how to spend my time, knowing my personality type helps me direct my work and effort in areas that are most compatible with my type. Not to say that exploration and failure can’t be good experiences, and they have been, but I want to “cut to the chase” at this point.
  2. Revisiting my personality type has given me an upper hand in navigating new family relationships and new communities. Seeing myself more clearly helps me be more authentic. Knowing other types helps me identify others, potential conflicts and potential friends.
  3. Knowing my personality type and my needs has allowed me to cut myself some slack. I find that my personality needs time alone to recharge. Knowing that gives me permission to do just that and not feel guilty about it.
  4. Not only has knowing myself allowed me to cut myself some slack but I find it easier to cut others slack, too. It’s easier for me to recognize and appreciate our differences and not be so judgmental. This is vital when navigating new relationships.
  5. Knowing myself at this point in my life gives me confidence and boldness while stepping into these new experiences. I know what I’m good at, how I can best contribute to community, and what my limitations are.

We’ve lived life, we’ve adapted, we are resilient. Our experiences have made us stronger and smarter. We’ve thrown off the weights and are looking to pursue a brighter future! And I think taking a personality test, as an adult can encourage and help us enter into this chapter will confidence and boldness.

Here are a couple of  links to some free tests, but you can also search for yourself.








The Challenge of Staying True To The Vision

spinning plates

I always loved watching the plate spinners on Ed Sullivan or some other variety show. I love variety shows, why don’t we have those anymore?

Anyway, remember the plate spinning music? If you were here I’d hum it for you and you’d know what I was talking about.

My blog has been neglected as of late because I’ve been on the other end spinning some other plates.

That’s life, isn’t it, spinning plates? Having to give more attention to one plate, then move to another before it stops spinning and so on.

When I retired/quit my job of 17 years I quickly went into a frantic decluttering and minimizing phase. Now I’m into a “getting my s@#! in order phase which is soon to come to a close. Recently, I’ve been trying to take my time and think carefully about my choices and how they will affect my goal – to free up my life so that I can enjoy this next chapter.

So, in the past 7 months I’ve been resting, getting my health back on track, researching myself, exploring new interests and potential 2nd careers and generally figuring out what I want to do now that I’m in this chapter of my life.

There are a couple of “demons” that I am fighting right now. I have to keep them at bay lest they thwart my plan. Maybe you have the same ones: Money and Productivity.

I’ll be honest, money is tight since I quit work. I mean, we’re paying the bills but don’t really have much left to have fun or buy the grandkids stuff. So, it’s very tempting to take job offers that I’ve been given lately but I have to keep my goal in mind and be ruthless in making sure my choices support my vision of this chapter of my life. Otherwise, I will just be right back in the same boat – stressed out, fighting my blood pressure and not having enough time to spend with my grandkids.

This is my mantra, “It’s more important that I give my grandkids myself rather than stuff.”  That’s true, isn’t it? Tell me it is! They wont’ always remember the things I bought them but they will always remember the times we spent together and how I made them feel, right?

The other “demon” is productivity. I like to be busy, I like to feel productive. So, I’m tempted with filling my days with “doing stuff” to get that fix. I’m not comfortable (yet) with taking it slow, being patient, etc, etc. However, I know – from experience – that if I don’t chill out, take my time and be selective that my life will just be one big snowball of busy-ness that will crash and explode in a pile of illness and stress.

I also feel that mortality clock ticking and I want to spend my energy and effort doing things that produce goodness and help and bring joy to people. I don’t want to spend my precious time running in a hamster wheel going nowhere.

However, I have to gear down my passion to “help the world” and remember that cooking a good meal, making an encouraging comment on social media, loving my family, and all those other seemingly small gestures and actions are actually big things in disguise and are so important!

Taking It Slow

I’ve gotten involved in a couple of volunteer opportunities lately. I feel good with volunteering right now. I’m the kind of person that if I get paid for something I’m going to kill myself to make sure I give the person their money’s worth, and more. So, if I’m not getting paid, I feel freer to relax and enjoy the experience instead of obsessing about the work/pay exchange. But even in that, too, I have to put on the brakes. When I find something that is creative, challenging and that I’m passionate about I tend to get carried away. I have to pace myself. (Excuse me while I preach to myself!) And in my volunteering I have to keep my vision in mind and stay true to it.

So, this post, dear reader, is my attempt to slow my roll and re-center. Revisit my vision and make sure that I’m staying the course. And in sharing it with you, I give you permission to do the same.

What is your vision, dear reader? Maybe today is a good day to ponder your vision and goals and think of ways to adjust your trajectory to achieve them.

Hope you have a great day!



The Big Squeeze

*I’m going to talk about how really absurd it is that we are expected to react in such a nonchalant way to freakish medical procedures. So, if you don’t want to read about my mammogram or hear me use really base words for body parts, then just skip this post and come back another day. Love, Jill 


I put it off for 4 years. One, because I just forgot and two, because my friend died of breast cancer and having walked with her through it, well chalk it up to PTSD.

My other friend reacted to our friend’s diagnosis totally different: as soon as she found out our friend had cancer she ran to get a mammogram. Me, I ran the opposite direction. It’s bad, I know, early detection and all that. Call me chicken. It’s the truth.

So, plucking up my courage, sweaty palms, biting lip, I had the big squeeze done yesterday.

Before I went my husband, sweetly asked, “So, you’re going to have a mammogram today? It hurts doesn’t it?”

Me, my face freakishly changing like Bilbo Baggins when someone tries to take the Ring,


“Imagine if I put your nuts between two plates of glass and squeezed as hard as I could and told you to not move!”

He took a few steps back in shock and replied calmly, “Ouch.”

I apologized and told him I was just nervous.

I got to the imaging center and everyone kindly asked me, “How are you?” And you know the reply they want is, “Fine, thank you.” But inside I’m screaming, “I’m scared out of my freaking mind!!” So, I just give them an awkward smile.

They take me back to a little, closet sized room that smells of B.O. (sweaty fear, as I call it) because we’re not allowed to wear deodorant, powder or lotion for this procedure. They tell me to undress from the waist up and put on the little spa-like robe.

So, I’m sitting in a waiting room with other women like me, bra-less in our little spa robes biting our nails, white-knuckling the belt on the robe and doing any other little nervous tick to give relief to our screaming nerves.

There’s always one woman who talks incessantly about people we don’t know and about stuff no one is interested in but that’s how she’s releasing the pressure inside her. Another woman gives her dirty looks as she absentmindedly flips through a magazine. Still another stares blankly at Oprah on the TV.

We do all this because it is not acceptable to express our fear publicly. And in this little room, a woman’s greatest fear could come upon her. Our lives could be changed in a moment. That is huge, that is giant, that is overwhelming. So, keep talking sister, keep cutting those looks, text til your fingers fall off honey! Do whatever it takes to keep it together!

They call me back to the Lemonade machine, I like to call it. I get the rundown, the head’s up. Then I have to literally embrace, hug, wrap my arms around this machine while the nurse carefully places my girls (how I lovingly refer to my boobs) on the glass plate.

Then she begins to crank. The plates squeeze the girls like she’s preparing a slide for microbiology class. 5 pounds of pressure, 10 pounds, 15 pounds of pressure! She tells me to hold my breath – no freaking problem! I want to raise my hand and say, “Excuse me but I don’t think you mean to squeeze me this tight! The girls are worried they might burst.” But I hold my breath and follow orders.

After a few poses, we’re done. I whisper, “Thank you for our special time together” to the machine with whom I have a very intimate relationship with now. In less than 10 minutes I’m out. I put the crying girls back into their familiar holder and I’m done. I walk back through the waiting room and I want to wave, say goodbye or something but no one looks me in the eye.

This is not my first mammogram, nor is it the first medical procedure I’ve had done. My mother, sister having terminal illnesses, I’m very familiar with the world of doctors and hospitals. However, it never ceases to amaze me how stoic and calm we are expected to be when we are faced with these sort of procedures and tests whose results could change our lives forever.

Such a weird thing to me.

Maybe I could start a service in places where people get life changing news. I could set up a sound proof room for people like me who just need to go talk, scream, cry, lay on the floor and kick their feet, punch something or whatever they need to to express their fear and anxiety.

I could call it the Panic Room. Oh, that’s already taken, dang!