Lil Granny and Lil Grandpa

A couple of years ago I was appreciating some travel photos of one of my friends on Facebook.  She was in Washington DC (for work, I think) and didn’t have her small boys with her.  She posted the traditional travel photos including the view from her seat on the plane and monuments, but she always included a Matchbox car in the shot.  I loved this idea and vowed to use it when I became a grandparent.

You have to admit, it’s a lot more exciting to see where the car went (opposed to just looking at a strange landscape.)  But the thing I loved the most was the underlying message that wherever she went, no matter how far away, she was always thinking of her boys.  The car gives perspective and personal connection and will turn an average, boring photo into a treasured memory.

So here’s my version!

Meet Lil’ Grandpa and Lil’ Granny!  This is my answer for our traveling shots.  There are two pieces so we can post on our solo trips or combined when we are together.  If you look close enough, you’ll realize that these figures are not accurate representatives of Leroy and me.  I would be holding the dog (and probably the pie too.)  And while the apron, glasses and sandals are a good match, Lil’ Granny has way too much hair.

Obviously Lil’ Grandpa’s hairstyle isn’t up to Leroy’s standards either.

You might (hopefully) be seeing these two quite a bit on social media.  I’ve been learning how to post to Instagram “Stories” (not as simple as it sounds) and will be using that platform a lot in the near future.




78 Days

It’s been 78 days since Jameson was born and I still don’t have the words to describe how much our lives have changed since he arrived. In 78 days, this little being has managed to capture all our hearts, hopes, dreams and imagination. And when I say “all” I mean EVERYONE in the family… Grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins… the whole squad. That’s it! We’ve become Jameson’s “Squad.” I think I’ll have that printed on some t-shirts.

The whole world seems better now that he is here. The sun is a little warmer, the colors a little brighter and even the rain seems to hold a bit more moisture. Text messages with daily pictures bring wide grins to our faces and we’ve become those people who show pictures of him to everyone we know (and occasionally to random strangers too.)

This grand parenting gig is the BEST and I find myself with so much to express, but I don’t know where to begin. I’ve whined about missing my daily writing and vowed to return to it. Just like anything else it seems that beginning is the most difficult part. Author Louis L’Amour wrote, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” So here I go.

While I still have a lot to learn (and I’m looking forward to all if it) here are a few things I’ve come to realize already.

1. Most transitions are gradual in life but becoming comfortable in the role of a grandparent seems to happen overnight. I hardly recognize myself sometimes. It is as though I’ve finally become the person God intended. (Or at least I’m finally headed in the right direction.)

2. There is something healing about the scent of a newborn baby. I couldn’t get enough of him when he first arrived. I would make up excuses to go to town just so I could swing by and get my smell fix. It is almost magical. Breathing in Jameson’s scent transformed me instantly. It brought peace, happiness, wellbeing and a lot of other physiological changes that I can’t even begin to define or describe.

3. One of the best parts about becoming a grandparent is witnessing your children transform into their new roles and become the loving, responsible and nurturing people you always hoped they’d become. This is not to suggest they weren’t all those things already. A new baby just provides the perfect opportunity to tap into those gifts and develop the character traits.

4. I’ve got a lot to do. Everything is better with Jameson and there are things I want to do to be better too. I’ve got big plans for the two of us and while it’s going to take some work, I am so looking forward to the journey.

We have some big plans for 2017 and I’ll be documenting our life here. Stay tuned!



Choose Life

A few weeks ago I posted my “one and only” statement regarding the upcoming election. I don’t consider Facebook (or any other social media outlet) the best location for the sharing of serious issues.  However I felt compelled to share the video I had discovered. I knew that I was inviting criticism but I didn’t care.  The message was too important.  Besides, I know “Blessed are the those who are persecuted because of righteousness” so bring it on!

What I didn’t expect (but should have realized sooner) is that I would be censored by Facebook for the subject of the content I shared.  I cannot prove it the fact, but I am convinced that Facebook has limited the amount of people who actually saw what I wrote.  Yes.  That happens.  There are complicated algorithms which decide who sees what content (and not just on Facebook.)  Sometimes those “decisions” are influenced by the agenda that the media agency wishes to promote.  Don’t kid yourself.  Whatever you see or read in the media has a purpose of influencing your thoughts and eventually your behavior.  You must decide to whose voice you will listen.

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

So here it is again.  This is too important to ignore.  Please choose life and defend the unborn with your vote in the upcoming election.  God bless this priest for his courage.

I am embedding this video into the permanent archive of my blog.  Facebook will probably still block the posts but that will not stop me from hearing and sharing this message.

Fr. John Lankeit of Sts. Simon and Jude in Phoenix, Arizona.



Hey Kid: Rough Draft

Hey Kid,

I have a confession to make and it’s not going to be easy to admit this but owning your problems is the first step to resolving them… Right?!  (That’s a rhetorical question… OF COURSE IT IS!)  These letters to you are to give you advice, not ask you for answers to life questions.

I haven’t written for a long time.  I was a daily blogger for many years, but I haven’t written consistency since 2014.  I didn’t make a decision to stop… it just happened.  A few skipped days turned into a few skipped weeks.  At several points I tried to go back and catch up but even that became overwhelming and I decided I must need a break.  It may have been an excuse and you know what they say about excuses… everyone has one.

Maybe I did need a break… but I’ve known for a while that I need to get back in the saddle and it terrifies me. 


I said it. 

I’m afraid to write again… and I think the reason is that I’m afraid that I might be wrong. 

I’m a Granny now for heaven’s sake.  I’m supposed to have it all together.  I’m supposed to know exactly what to say, how to fix things and make everything wonderful.  Isn’t that what grandparents do?  I’ve written over 370 letters to you dispensing my wisdom (because I thought then I really had some wisdom to share.)  Now… I’m not so sure.  You’re almost here and I feel like I’m beginning again.

So… I had a thought.

What if we did this whole “grand-parenting” thing together?  What if you and I work through the details as them come to us?  After-all, I’ve never been a Granny before, but you’ve never been a Grandson either.  I know it won’t always be easy.  We’ll make mistakes, but we just might get it right once in a while too.

So you… My little “Jim Bob Cooter” are going to be my rough draft.  We’re going to write this scrip as it comes to us; always knowing that we can go back and edit it later.  We (you and I) have a story to tell and no one else can tell it as well as we will.  I’m sure you’ll feel like you drew the short straw once in a while (when your siblings and cousins come along) because I’m bound to get better at being a Granny.   But keep in mind, no one else will get to be my first grandchild either.  When you arrive, you will have my undivided attention.  Until then, I’m going to work on being the brave one and get ready for you.  We have a lot of things to learn.






Sierra is scheduled for a sonogram on May 21st. We’re hoping to learn the sex of lil’ baby Olive(r.)  People ask me all the time what I think… Well, the answer is simple (I don’t know) to complicated. Since Sierra is my daughter (feminine) and I only know how to relate to her as a female, when I think of the baby (now a part of Sierra) I think female… but that’s only a guess. Not even a hunch.  If you consider “Wives Tale Gender Predictions” the results (are below…)

    1. Heart Rate = Girl
    2. Sweet/Salty/Sour = Boy
    3. Chinese Birth Chart = Boy
    4. Morning Sickness = Girl

So what’s your guess?  Vote in our poll!  We’ll post the answer as soon as we know!  (Hopefully, sometime on Sunday, May 22nd.)





Hey Kid: Ready, Set, Go!

1 ultrasound

Hey Kid,

About three and a half years ago (Fall 2012) I realized that I had reached a different stage of life.  It didn’t happen overnight… and I’m not sure when the transition actually started to occur, but I understood that my role and my calling were changing.  With age comes wisdom and I knew that embracing change would be a lot easier (and a lot more fun) than fighting against it.

One of the most striking epiphanies was that I was actually looking forward to becoming a grandparent.  So weird.

I’ve always heard from friends and family how awesome it is to have grandchildren.  My brother Curtis once told me that if he knew how much fun grandkids were he would have had them first!  I myself had terrific grandparents and watched my parents and my in-laws enjoy the grandkids too.  But until 2012, it was an inconceivable role for me.

And then suddenly, it wasn’t.

That’s when I decided to dedicate my blog to writing letters to my future grandkids. There are important things you need to know and life is short.  At that time I wasn’t convinced (and I’m still not) that I’d be around to teach you all I wanted you to know.  So I got a head start.  I wrote to you every day in 2013 and a few times after as well. This is my 371st letter to you and there are more to come.  To read the rest of the letters, click the “Hey Kid” category on the blog’s home page.

But today’s post is different… because you’re on your way. (Well, at least the the oldest is on the way.)

On my 48th birthday I received the best gift ever… Sierra and Joey told me that I am now, officially, a Granny.  (Due November 2016.)  I can’t begin to describe how thrilled we are with this news.  I’ve imagined it for so long, but nothing compares to the reality.  I’ve loved you for a very long time and now I get to act on that emotion and I am counting the days.

We have a lot to do to get ready for your arrival. Your grandfather (previously known as “Chief” in the blog posts) has decided to go by the name of “Grandpa” so I’ll be calling him that from now on in my letters. (It took him a little longer to get used to the whole “grandparent” idea but he’s on board now!)  I like “Grandpa.”  It suits him.  And when he’s grouchy, we’ll call him “Grump-pa.”

I’ve started calling you Olive(r) because “it” or “the baby” seems so impersonal.  I don’t think your parents are going to stick with it (Olive or Oliver Oliveira is a little redundant) but I think it’s a fine name in the mean time.   I pronounce it Olive…er.  That way it works for either a boy or girl.

This is your first picture… and I think you are beautiful (even if you look like a blob.)

I love you more,




Hey Kid: Wallet Size

To read more about my “Hey Kid” posts (letters to my grandchildren) click here.

Hey Kid —

It’s been a long time since I’ve written to you, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been on my mind.  On the contrary.  You’ve been on my mind A LOT lately.  Oh the plans I’m making for us!

Many, many, years ago… long before you came along, we used to carry around wallets.  A “wallet” was not just an app on your phone.  It was a small, compartment style device that would hold our identification, credit cards, money… and for a while it even carried pictures.  This is the way we would show off our family and loved ones when we met up with friends and family.  (Before phones had cameras and pictures and way before Facebook.)  Photos were specifically printed in “wallet” size so that they could be easily carried and displayed on the go.

For Christmas (2015) Chief got a new wallet.  A new, physical wallet.  This version (because there have been many over his lifetime) is a scaled down model and much thinner to fit easily in his pocket (if necessary.)  He decided that he no longer had the need or the room to carry around the pictures that he had transferred, year after year; wallet after wallet for the last 30+ years.  (Yes 30 years… The photo I gave him when we first started dating was in there too!)

Today (February 2016) Chief gave these pictures back to me for safe keeping.  I had to laugh.  I couldn’t believe that he had kept them for so long… (And for what purpose?  NONE of us look like this in 2016.)  I guess hold habits die hard.   The captions are from the back of the photos  (Yeah… we used to do that too when we were super organized.  Sure glad I was in that habit.)

(Photos in post below.  If you’re reading this via email, please click on the link to see the images.)

These photographs still make me smile and bring a flood of wonderful memories of when your parents were young (and Chief and I were young too.)

Well… We’ve come a long way baby!  I thought you’d enjoy seeing these photos.  I’ll save them for you.

Love, Granny




Ending Football

I’ve written about a lot of things over the years, but one of the most common themes is high school football. This is no surprise to anyone who knows me.  But what you  may not know is that I’ve written A LOT about the END of high school football too.

Because it sucks.

There is no other way to say it.  The end of a high school football season (to those who love the game and the team) is just awful.  And each and every year I watch families endure the same mourning that we went through so many years ago.

I recently came across an article that gave a good perspective.   Click here to view.

And to read my previous posts, (in chronological order) click the links below.  I don’t know if they’ll help you cope, but at least you’ll know  you’re not alone.

Shared Grief

Don’t Know Much About Football

Still Don’t Know Much About Football



Wedding Vendors

I’ve had the idea for this post for several weeks.   As we participated and experienced all of the “events” during the wedding, I just kept thinking that we were surrounded by the best people.  Yes, that does include my family, but I wanted to specifically mention the vendors that Sierra and Joey chose to help make their day.  My daughter is an organized and thorough planner (and yes, I take all of the credit for that trait) and she did an extraordinary job of choosing all of the vendors for the wedding.  Below is a full list (I think) of the wedding vendors we worked with and some notes about each.

Ceremony Venue: St. Stanislaus Catholic Church (209) 524-4381

This is our home parish and not just a pretty church.  This is home. The celebrant was a personal favorite too.  Bishop Myron Cotta (Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento) is my Godfather.  Everyone told me he wouldn’t be able to celebrate the mass, but I decided to ask anyway… and I’m sure glad I did.

Reception Venue:  The Century (209) 451-2292

We first visited in January 2015 and it was under construction.  I have no vision so I had to trust Erin and her staff when they said it would look beautiful.  It did and we couldn’t have been more pleased.

Photographer: Jody Atkinson Photography (209) 678-7805 Email:

I knew she was good from looking at photos from other events she had shot, but I had no idea how much I’d appreciate her talent.  As a bonus, she was WONDERFUL to work with on the day of the wedding.  She blended in and was never intrusive.  I forgot she was even there, but I’m sure glad she was.

Videographer: Rumble Cinematography/White Raven Productions (209) 614-3178

This was Sierra’s “must have” for the wedding of her dreams.  Charlie was the first vendor she booked and I can’t wait to see the results.  Like the photographer (above) Charlie was delightful to work with and was in no way a distraction.

DJ: Sounds in Motion (209) 522-5999

Their prep work (on timeline and reception schedule) was awesome.  The dance floor was never empty.

Make-Up: Blush Make-Up and Beauty Lounge (209) 596-0740

Christa has become our go-to esthetician and is (and certainly was the day of the wedding) a talented makeup artist.  As a bonus to her mad skills, she is simply delightful and always kind and cheerful.  I have a new fondness for false eyelashes.

Hair: Hair by Jordan Segna (209) 620-6009

Of course I did my own hair the day of the wedding, but all of the other “ladies” were attended to by Jordan and her assistant and they all looked beautiful.  Jordan (her assistant as well as the Christa from Blush and her assistant) were on-time and on-task during the morning.   We were so appreciative of their organization and professional manner (and so were the photographers.)

Wedding Dress: Trudy’s Brides (408) 377-1987

This is an event by itself.  The staff at Trudy’s were wonderful and made the whole experience a joy.

Alterations: Monika’s California Apparel (Facebook)

Only 1 fitting… and Sierra’s wedding dress fit like a glove.  Literally one fitting.  She’s worth the trip to Pleasanton.

Rings: Gabriel Fine Jewelers (209) 529-2110

This was Joey’s choice and he did well.

Tuxedos: Men’s Wearhouse

Florist: And Two Shall Become One (209) 402-2036

Fatima Bettencourt-Mendes is an artist… and will become a part of your family as soon as you meet her.  She’s like your favorite aunt and I knew from the first time we met her that she would be a wonderful addition to the team.  Not only did she take care of all of the flowers for the wedding party, ceremony and reception, she also created all of the beautiful centerpieces for Sierra’s bridal shower in August.  She is a wonder and a delight.  If/when I ever need flowers again, she will be my first choice.

Caterer: Greens on Tenth 209-524-7336

Ann Endsley and her team are extraordinary.  The food was not only delicious, it was beautiful too.  We’re still dreaming about the antipasti.

Limo: Luxury Limousine (209) 537-5466

If you ever find yourself in need of a limo, call this company and ask for Demetrius.  He was WONDERFUL (and we can be a crazy group!)  He was prompt, courteous and always helpful.  I think he had a good time too.  (I even gave him a hug!)

Cake: Cristina Dos Santos (Facebook)

There is nothing this girl can’t do.  Not only do the cakes (cookies, cake pops, etc. look good, they are delicious too!)

Sweets: Maria Mendes (family friend) – Unbelievable!  They were delicious and beautiful!

Sweetbread: Doralice Rocha (Sierra’s grandmother.)  – The stuff is world-famous.



Pregnancy Update

Whoa!  That title got your attention, didn’t it!  No.  This is not an actual pregnancy update. I just wanted a title you’d notice.  Since I’ve already poked the hornet’s nest (with my Doing Christmas Right post) this week, I figured I might as well get something else off my chest before I move on to other topics.

I am asking politely (for now, I may get irritated later) for everyone to please refrain from asking my daughter and son-in-law (and any other newlywed couple) when they are going to have children.  (Or if she’s already pregnant.)  And please don’t ask ME either!  (As if I would know anyway!)

I expected Sierra to be bombarded by these questions.  (People actually watch which beverages she’s drinking  for some kind of a sign!  “Is that a glass of wine or is she only drinking water?”)  But I have to admit I’m a little shocked at the barrage of questions that have come my way.  I cannot believe the number of people who have approached me since the wedding (it’s only been a few weeks) asking if “it’s” happened yet (these things do take time.)

I know these questions come with the best of intention (even with a sense of teasing) but when we do this (and I say WE because I have been guilty of it in the past) we may be adding stress and strain to an already personal subject.  There are clearly three main reasons not to do it and they make perfect sense:

  1.  The couple may not be able to HAVE children.  Maybe they’re trying and it just hasn’t happened yet. (For whatever reason.)  Our asking certainly isn’t going to help matters move along more quickly.
  2. Maybe the couple doesn’t WANT children!  (Yes, sometimes that happens.)
  3. It’s none of your damn business.  (And it’s not mine either.)

A friend (who struggled with infertility) told me that she announced at a family dinner that they had decided NOT to have children.  (She surprised her husband with this proclamation because she didn’t trust his reaction if he had tried to play along.)  The best part is that it WORKED!  No one ever asked about the issue again.  (Sound advice for anyone who is facing the same kind of scrutiny.)

Now… A word to those of you reading this blog who HAVE said something to me in the last few weeks.  I am NOT offended and it is not necessary to try to explain or apologize.  Like I said, I’ve done this myself.  I just have a new awareness of how intrusive it can be and I’m asking everyone else to be aware too.

NOTE:  This blog post is strictly my own opinion and was not written on the request of my newlywed daughter and her husband.   The picture is pulled from a free Google download.