Day Two – Max in Texas

JUNE 25, 2017

Dear Max,

You repeatedly asked how long the drive was going to take to my house.  It would be more than an hour.  It was then that I realized that we needed to be better prepared for all of the future-planned trips.  Texas is a big state, and I live a minimum of a half hour one way to whatever outing we were planning.  Most often, our excursions were going to be at least an hour one way.  So, we decided to be armed with activities, books, or toys to play with in the car, and I put a supply of snacks, most often animal cookies and a package of seaweed or a banana, next to your car seat for you to munch on when you got hungry.  We always brought along a bottle of water.  Texas is HOT in the summer.  It’s important to stay hydrated.  (We were lucky that your first week here, it was only in the high 80s; your second week was in the high 90s and even reached 101 degrees on occasion.)  You started reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, your Dad’s favorite book when he was little.  You brought it along with you during our car trips.  (I did read a couple of chapters to you, but you are so grown up now, you read the rest yourself.)  And you finished the book by the end of your visit.

We all arrived at our house to enjoy lunch and dinner together with Great Grandpa, Uncle Roy, and, of course, Simon and Pearl.  (Uncle Koji, Aunt Maiga, and cousins Sean and Mateo came separately.)  You had a ball playing with a new marble run upstairs in the “Grandchildren’s Quarters” with your cousins. Unfortunately, I am not able to post all the videos from this day, (I have a spectacular one of Mateo going nuts with joy.) but at least we have some photos.  You can see in one of them how tired your Dad was.

We had tuna steaks from Uncle Roy’s recent fishing trip off the coast of San Diego for lunch and homemade Texas-style chili con carne for dinner.  Hotdogs for the kids.  Uncle Koji and Aunt Maiga bought a huge chocolate cake for the birthday party.  I had prepared the food earlier in the week, so cooking was a snap.

In the four-generation shot, we should have had Great-Grandpa seated in the center.  But we had to move fast and pose quickly because all you kids were getting antsy.  (We miss you Nicole and Zoe!)

Uncle Koji and his family returned to their house in Austin after dinner, and you and your Dad spent the night and slept upstairs together.

Be sure to click on photos to get the full effect.  Thanks to Uncle Roy for the group shots.   😀

Day 2 Upstairs - Marble Run

The marble run was a major hit. (Sean and Max)



Sean and Tired Uncle Tunny


Sean and Pearl

Family Birthday Celebration

Four Generations


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Day One, cont.

All during the time my older son was entertaining the little ones with his artwork, Maiga, my DIL, was working hard in the kitchen preparing a fantastic lunch and dinner for all of us to enjoy. I wish I had gotten a better photo of the lovely spread she prepared for us. Sometimes I’m just plain lucky to get any photo at all.




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Three months ago I announced that I was back to writing in my blog after a three-year hiatus, and then, once again, disappeared.  This is certainly no way to “age with class.”  Ha ha ha…

But, life happens.  My 93-year-old Dad has lived with me for 15 years now, and I’ve been managing his care and health issues while enjoying every minute of his company, not to mention helping him publish his second book of poetry.  In the meantime, my 8-year-old grandson, Max, just visited us in Texas for two weeks from New York.

I’ve had this plan in my mind to do something special with each grandchild individually, and Max’s visit was the first.  Three more grandkids to go.  Once they get old enough.

Coincidentally, my plan is part of my effort to continue to “age with class.”

I told Max I would write a memory book for him and include all the photos I took of his visit.  I figured I would document it here on my blog, so I can have my own record of the wonderful time we spent together.

Keeping up with an 8-year-old at age 68 was no small feat as I continued to manage care for my father.  I wanted to make this visit fun for Max and engage him in all sorts of activities and adventures that would be different from his life back home in NY.  Texas provided the perfect setting.

Before I go any further, I want to congratulate all grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.  I don’t know how they do it.  As fantastic as this two-week adventure was, I am exhausted.  But I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Maybe keeping up with grandkids takes practice to build the endurance it requires.  Maybe the challenge came from caring for two generations at the opposite age spectrum at the same time.  Anyway, I am impressed with any grandparents who are raising their grandkids.

Max arrived in Austin on June 24 with my older son (his Dad).  I met them at my younger son’s house in Austin, where we all spent the night, and Max had a chance to hang out with his younger cousins.

More of Day One to follow…

Yours in aging with class, Jane


Max and Sean enthralled with Tunny’s art work.

Koji and Sean are excited to see what Uncle Tunny is drawing.

It’s Japanese manga! 🙂


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I’m Back!

It’s been just about three years since my last post.  Where did they go, and what happened?

We up and moved from Massachusetts to Texas Hill Country, for one.  It was time for me to retire.  I could never have done so had we stayed in the expensive Northeast.  I knew one of my sons was considering re-locating to Austin.  My Dad, who lives with me, wasn’t getting any younger at age 91.  And neither was I.

So, we took a gamble and moved to Texas.

And here I am, two years after the big move.  Still figuring out this whole new scene. Retirement.  Fitting in to a new culture.  Finding purpose and contributing however I can. Facing new elements of aging I never expected back when I was younger and immortal…or so, I thought.

Please inspire with me with your comments so I will get back to writing again.

Yours in aging with class,


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One Month So Far “Off” Sugar

So many previous posts bemoaning my sugar addiction.  Particularly ice cream addiction.  So, I decided to carpe diem and stop moaning and wailing. I gave up sugar on April 18.  Or, at least, that was what I thought I was going to do.

The first thing I had for dinner that day was organic salsa on a veggie omelet.  And then, I read the ingredients, which indicated there was sugar in the salsa.

Hidden sugars – oops…

In no time, I had a craving for fresh orange juice and drank copious amounts every day, only to realize that oranges contain sugar, and I was consuming lots of it.

Natural sugars in foods but sugar nonetheless – oops…again…

I craved potato chips and nibbled on Cape Cod chips.  I also craved bread and began eating at least four slices of Ezekiel Sesame Bread a day.  The nutrition facts and list of ingredients didn’t include sugar.  Yet, on the one hand, a friend pointed out that sugar is needed to activate the yeast.  And on the other, this article says the opposite.

As if this weren’t enough, we know that carbs convert to sugar in the body, as so clearly explained in a post about carbohydrates and blood sugar from the Harvard School of Public Health.


Another friend asked what my plan for giving up sugar would be.  I told her I was going to have to make it up as I went along.  Little did I know how true a statement this would be.

OK, so, I started with cutting out obvious sweets such as cookies and ice cream.

My Nemesis (photo from

My nemesis (photo from

I accepted the above initial cravings because, at least, I had quit obvious (to me) sweets cold turkey.

Within a month, the cravings for chips, bread, and fresh orange juice is no longer.

During the first few weeks, I transformed from a person paralyzed amongst the clutter in my condo to a bolt of energy — in three days, cleaning out so much junk, I couldn’t believe it.

I wondered, “Was there a connection between my new-found energy/motivation and eliminating so much sugar from my diet?”

I used to have a voracious appetite, and I’ve been noticing that this isn’t the case any longer.  My appetite has become more normal, naturally, and I’ve lost a couple of pounds without having to deprive myself and feel hungry.

I’ve reset my palate so I no longer crave sugar.  I enjoy cooking new recipes with real food, eliminating processed foods and including as much organic as possible.  I’m even starting to be interested in eating foods I had never bothered with, such as apples.

I actually have more energy.

What follows is material I read during my first month “off” sugar.  I hope you’ll find them as informative as I have.

References for the Month:

  • Pure White Deadly







Yours in aging with class,

P.S.  Next month, I’ll clarify my giving-up-sugar plan, including situations that may require flexibility.  Stay tuned.

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“Try to be a Rainbow in Someone’s Cloud.”

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou…RIP…

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”

Yours in aging with class,

(Photo credit:
(Link is from CNNU.S. and written by Todd Leopold, Ashley Fanz, and Faith Karimi.)
(Quotes are Maya Angelou’s.)

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Grandparenting 101, cont.

Day One (Friday, May 9)

A four-hour drive to Brooklyn that included a 10-mile backup in CT on Rte. 95 to visit son, Koji, Maiga (my DIL), and grandson, Sean, now 16 months old already.  After a Mother’s Day lunch, we took Sean to the park so he could run off some steam.  And me, too.

Après naps, off to an indoor playground before meeting Dad at the commuter ferry.  Here’s a photo of me cramping Sean’s style.  (Don’t forget to click on photos for the full effect.)

Sean and me (alias "Gummy") at the indoor playground

Sean and me (alias “Gummy”) at the indoor playground

On the way home, Koji took us out for a lovely Mother’s Day dinner!  🙂







Day Two (Saturday, May 10)

Koji and Sean - breakfast time

Koji and Sean – breakfast time

I left Brooklyn after breakfast, and what do you know…someone had stolen the GPS out of my car…with no trace of a break-in. Luckily I know the way and made it to Long Island easily to visit my other two grandchildren, Max (age 5) and Zoe (2 1/2).

I took care of the chicklets while their Mom (Nicole) was off doing volunteer work, literally helping to build a playground.  The kids and I first played in the back yard while I pushed them on the swing.  Zoe laughed and laughed when I pulled her legs and let her go.

We discovered huge puddles of water left over from a recent rain storm on a walk around the block.  Zoe started to step in them gingerly.  It wasn’t too long before both kids were running and splashing through the water, saturating their shoes and Max, his pant legs.  In no time, shoes discarded, they were running barefoot through the puddles.  After repeated invitations, I joined in.

When it came time to walk home, we started out sans shoes.  The kids’ feet were so tender, they ended up putting their shoes back on.  I told them about how I used to run around in bare feet when I was a kid all summer, which toughened them up.  They were mildly impressed that I could walk home without shoes.

After lunch, Zoe napped, and Max and I opened his birthday presents together.  (He turns 5 on Monday.)  Before opening them, he said he hoped they wouldn’t be boring.  (He cracks me up.)

One was a build-your-own bird house, which we did.  Except Max didn’t want me to put glue on the nails before pounding them in.  “No glue,” he said.  He was adamant.  So, I left the almost-finished project for his Mom or Dad to add the glue later, otherwise it won’t be sturdy enough.  I hope they finish it and put it outside and that some day the kids can enjoy watching a little bird move in.

Another was a scratch art set, which he had already played with at his other Grandma’s; but, luckily, he was fascinated with it.  We hung each design on various windows throughout the house, and they looked so decorative with the sun shining through.

Phooey, I wish I had taken photos of the finished projects.

Since I only see the kids every 6-8 weeks, I can particularly notice changes as they are growing up.  On this visit, Max used the word “basically” in just about every sentence; I melt when this precious, munchkin expresses himself in such grown-up words.

I sleep with Max when I visit.  I love talking with him as we fall asleep together.  I also love watching him wake up.  He waits quietly for me at the top of the stairs in the darkness of the 6 a.m. morning while I get dressed, and we walk downstairs together.  We then sit in silence on the couch with my arm around him, as he wakes up slowly.

Day Three:  (Sunday, May 11, Mother’s Day)

When I fixed my morning coffee, I noticed ants all over the kitchen counter.  As if this weren’t enough, Max’s cup leaked a strawberry-milk circle the size of a basketball on the living room couch.

The kids were painting and playing so nicely after breakfast while I finished making them Rapunzel-inspired wigs out of yarn.  Nicole (their Mom) came down and was horrified to discover that Max was playing with an ant cup in his paint water.  And here I thought I had been constantly checking on what they were up to.  (Would I be fired as a babysitter?)

(The day before, Zoe had spilled milk on the cable box, and so the TV didn’t work.  Actually, I enjoyed the kids more without it.  Please note that this particular debacle wasn’t under my watch.)   😉

We made plans for the day.  I waited until Nicole had finished her coffee before mentioning that there were ants all over the kitchen counter.

“Happy Mother’s Day!” I said.

It took some extra time for her to deal with this situation before we left for our outing. (BTW, the ants were gone upon our return.  Max commented that his Mom was a genius when it came to getting rid of them.)

Our outing for the day was a trip to a local farm.  The kids happily checked out the chickens.  Zoe was disappointed she wasn’t allowed to climb over the fenced-in area to join them.

Max and Zoe at the farm playground

Max and Zoe at the farm playground

Painting at the farm

Painting at the farm


Max prefers wearing his shirts backwards.











The kids were their usual active selves as we tried to savor Mother’s Day lobster sandwiches (mac & cheese for the kids) at a nearby Panera for lunch.  When we finished, I asked Nicole if she was able to taste her food.

Later in the afternoon, Nicole went shopping for Max’s upcoming birthday party.  I stayed home with the kids while they played with their Rapunzel wigs.  (Originally, I was only going to make one just for Zoe, but Nicole said that if Zoe liked hers, Max would want one, too.)  I had hoped to get a photo of both of them all dressed up together, but, alas, Zoe would have no part of that.  Max sensed how upset I was that my photo shoot plans were thwarted and tried to comfort me.  I told him not to worry and that all was well.


Zoe likes her Rapunzel wig.

Zoe likes her Rapunzel wig.

Max's wig has more masculine colors...

Max’s wig has more masculine colors…










Nicole came home to Max and Zoe eating dinner to music blaring from a CD I brought with me, Laurie Berkner’s, Whaddaya Think of That.  Zoe was transfixed.  I wish I had taken a photo of the expression on her face as she sat for an hour and a half, requesting certain songs over and over.  She even started to pick up the lyrics.  I hadn’t realized she was so passionate over music.  We made a new connection.

Nicole cooked a delectable lima bean/brown rice dish full of veggies for dinner.  Seasoned perfectly.  Another one of her pressure cooker masterpieces.  She bought me the book, Pressure Perfect, by Lorna Sass for Mother’s Day.  Yes!

Monday, May 11

Time to drive home after breakfast.  The kids were asking when I was coming again.  I told Max that he was invited to visit me any time.  He told his parents, “Grandmummy said we can visit her any time.  She welcomed us!”

It was such a delight crossing the Throgs Neck Bridge in gridlock traffic because the Whitestone was closed from a truck fire.  It was also a delight buying a Dunkin’ Donuts ice coffee (which was DELICIOSO) at a road stop and for the first time in my life, benefiting from a senior discount the cashier gave me, without my even asking for it.

I came home to a Mother’s Day plant of pink roses from Koji that now sits out on my deck and are enjoyed by us all when we are relaxing in the living room.  It’s awfully quiet back home, though…

Yours in aging with class,
Jane (alias “Gummy“)

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