Inaugural Excursion – California Chapter

Now that Linda and I have made an agreement to take time to engage in a GrandParent’s Hands excursion, we had to decide on how to begin.   We knew what (building Self) we wanted to do, we knew how (engaging in a bi-monthly excursion) we wanted to do it and we knew why (improve Self-Worth) we wanted to do it.  We needed to figure out when we wanted to start and where.

Because both of our birthdays are in July (Linda -7th and Me -22), we agreed to start this journey in July.

Faced with the challenge of figuring out where we would start our Inaugural Excursion, we utilized the analytical and critical thinking skills we had developed as parents and decided to use Groupon; a one-stop shop for a variety of things to do, coupled with a discount!
We wanted to find and engage in activities that we had never done before.  Yet as GrandParents, we had some restrictions.  We acknowledged there were just some things we were not willing, able or desired to do.  And there were some things we were just not going to do.  Because we were searching near July, the event that caught our attention was the California State Fair.
I had never been to the California State Fair and Linda had not been since she was a little girl.  Of course, this is an event that most attend with children.  We became intrigued with the thought of attending without children?!  How much money would we save?  What would we do?  How much money would we spend?  What would we buy?  How much money would we save?  We had to go to see!
We purchased the Early Bird Admission Package for Two on Groupon.  The package included Admission for Two (2), Two (2) Monorail Tickets and 1 Savings Book.
We originally planned to attend on Sunday; July 15, 2018; which was the middle of both of our birth dates.  Due to a schedule change, we postponed until the next Sunday; which was my actual birthday!

We arrived at 11:00 am in the scorching 94 degrees temperature.  I guess Linda’s experience with having more than one child awarded her with preparation knowledge, because my Girl showed up with a bag full of necessities.  She had bottled waters for both of us, wash cloths for both of us, umbrellas and portable fans.  She said all she needed was a hat.

As parents, we had learned the value of planning; so our plan was to ride the Monorail in order to view the scenery and locate the spots we wanted to explore.  Upon our entrance, we learned the Monorail was out of order.  They had practically run out of the Savings Books, but because we were persistent, they were able to track one down to give to us.
We resorted to walking around to explore.  There were a great number of rides to chose from.  The only ride I would have considered to engage in was the Giant Ferris Wheel and Linda was not having it.  So no rides for us; we saved on not having to buy any tickets.
There was plenty of food to choose from.  After exploring our options, we felt the State Fair could be renamed “The Fried Food Festival!”  We had never seen or heard of so many different fried food options; deep fried bacon-wrapped peanut butter cups, deep fried cinnamon rolls, deep fried grilled cheese sandwich, deep fried Hostess, deep fried lobster in the lobster fries, deep fried nachos, deep fried Oreos, deep fried Pop Tarts, deep fried watermelon…  We could not imagine spending our money to try one of these deep fried delicatessens.  Our bravery only allowed us to try the lobster fries with the friend lobster and we were not that impressed.

A man asked us if he and his son could share the table with us to eat their lunch!  Look at the size of their corn dog!


As GrandParents, we mainly walked around looking for shaded areas to sit and enjoy the scenery.

We both agree that we would keep the California State Fair on the list of “Things GrandParents Can Do”

We would probably arrive later in the day to avoid the some of the scorching sun and catch the evening shows.

We had an enjoyable time and Linda was successful in finding not one, but two hats!


During my journey as a Single Mother, I’ve met some amazing Parents.  When I say amazing, I mean they are the “gift that keeps on giving.”  So much where there is no time for themselves.  Many of these Parents have not only become Friends of mine, but Family to Me and my Son.  I call them My GOD-Given Family.
I met one of My GOD-Given Sisters; Linda Thi Green-Luckett, when I moved to California in 1987.

LindaWe met while I was working (my first California job) as a Clerk Typist at Professional Process Service (PPS) in Oakland.

After five (5) months of working there, I secured a position with the federal government and Linda was hired to replace me. I was responsible for training her before my departure.  Though, I had begun working with the federal government, I continued to work at PPS as a second job.  The more we worked together, the more we began to learn and know about each other. We became friends and our friendship grew outside of the job.
Linda and I have a great number of differences.  I was born in America and Linda was born in Bien Hoa, Vietnam.  I am of one race (Black) and Linda is bi-racial (Cambodian and Black). I am monolingual (only speak English).  Linda is trilingual; speaks Cambodian, English and Vietnamese.  I was a single parent (never married) and Linda married at 22 years old and still currently married today.  I only have one (1) Child and Linda has five (5) children.

Linda came to America with her Mother, Brother and Sister, when she was almost 7 years old. I was intrigued with the stories she told me about living in Vietnam, transitioning in a new country and a great deal about the Cambodian culture.
I learned that Linda loved to cook and as most of you know, I love to eat! She invited me to her house for dinner one day and we became family. I guess you can say she captured my heart through my stomach!
When I met Linda, she was a new Mother to her 8-month-old daughter, Renee. She got married in 1990 and had two different weddings; one (American-style) that she organized and one (Cambodian-style) that her Mother organized. I stood as her Maid of Honor in the one that she organized.

The Wedding She Organized – Currently Married – 28 Years

Our friendship has endured 30 years and we have supported each other through our life’s triumphs, trials and tribulations. I’ve found Linda to be a beautiful-spirited and trust-worthy friend whom I’ve grown to have Sisterly Love!
Linda has been working for the County of Alameda for 15 years and is currently a Supervisor. She is working to turn her passion (cooking) into a career and has started her own catering business, Heavenly Delights; which has a Facebook page (
During one of our many “being the gift that keeps on giving” conversations, we defended our decisions to allow these roles to rob ourselves of the opportunity to take time for ourselves.  It can be a challenge for a Mother to “turn it off” and stop focusing on others.  I explained how I understood it could be easier for me to do; because I’ve had a lot of experience living away from my Family.  I explained how I, additionally, decided to move away from my Son and his Family; to force myself to stay in my lane and focus on me.
This was Linda’s current challenge.  I wanted to encourage her to do the same.  She could not fathom the thought of doing so and I understood her challenge in being able to embrace the thought.  Because she still lives close to her Children and GrandChildren, I continued to encourage her by saying, “You have to TAKE the time; not wait for the time.”
iTall - GP18
In an effort to inspire her to TAKE time for herself, I challenged her with the idea for us to agree to make regular appointments to get together and engage in an excursion; with just us as GrandParents.  I further explained the necessity for us to be committed to these appointments; like going to church.  It will be our time to recharge, rejoice and rejuvenate.
When Linda agreed to buy into the challenge, we decided to begin by setting realistic goals.  Because we were just beginning, we set an inaugural goal to meet bi-monthly.
We thought about the possibility of other GrandParents that may needed assistance with TAKING TIME FOR SELF; so we decided to form our efforts as a support group, which we have named GrandParent’s Hands.
We  started California Chapter in Northern California on my birthday in July 22, 2018.   Right now, the support group only contains the two of us, but we are loving it!
007.JPGWe will continue to keep you posted on our excursion experiences in our GrandParent’s Hand journey.  If you are interested in joining us, please let us know.
We have a Facebook Group –

We would love to have you!

Taking Time to Read with Children is Required Customer Service

We are living in the day where customer service is becoming extinct.

I remember the time when you would go to the gas station and receive full service; not only would the attendant pump your gas, but wash your front window shield and check your oil.  Then the self service lane became an option; you could receive full service OR pump your own gas.  Now we are living in the day, where there is no more full service; it’s totally self-service and service attendants are extinct.
We are currently seeing the same thing happening in the checkout lanes in the stores.  It used to be cashiers on every lane.  Now, self-checkout is an option; you can go to the cashier or use the self-checkout to check yourself out.  I can clearly see we are moving to the day where it will be totally self-checkout lanes and cashiers will be extinct.
I see the same thing happening at the airport.  Man, how things have changed at the airport; everything that used to be inclusive is now a’ la carte.  It used to be when you bought your airplane ticket, you would receive all inclusive service; including a meal.  Now, there is a fee to check your bags, a fee to assign your seat, a fee to sit in the exit row and a fee to eat food on the plane.  Also, there is the option to check in with the ticket agent or self-check in on the kiosk or online.  I’m sure we are moving to the day where it will be totally self-check out option and ticket agents will be extinct.
The same thing is happening in education.  In order for a child to learn to read, they were taught phonics in school.  When I became a parent and my son struggled with his reading skill, I learned that teaching in school had changed and phonics was no longer being taught in schools.  Today parent-teaching is a requirement.  I struggled with constantly being told that I needed to read with my son for 30 minutes everyday.  I kept thinking, “Nobody ever read with me for 30 minutes and I still learned how to read.”
Through this experience, I’ve learned the best gift a parent can give a child today is to take the time to read with them everyday for 30 minutes; it’s imperative.  If you have a child in school (especially elementary) and you are not reading with each of them for 30 minutes a day, you are doing your child(ren) a disservice.  The task of children learning to read solely in school has become extinct.
Your children are your customers in your family business and building a relationship is key to learning their needs.  Communication is key to building a customer relationship with your children.  Taking out time to read with them and engaging them in story can help strengthen communication skills.  This will not only enhance your relationship with your child(ren), but improve their reading skills, build their confidence, independence and self-worth.
If you are a parent and desire for your family business to prosper, you MUST maintain customer service by taking out time to read with your children at least 30 minutes a day!  Hopefully, parent’s desire to raise children to grow up, become independent and do AWESOME things has not become extinct.
Until next time…

Parenting is Changing!

I am a Baby Boomer, raised by the Traditional/Silent Generation.  I can remember after losing my parents and being raised in an abusive home life, I became a bully.  “Children learn what they live.”  I was a bully at school, because I was being bullied at home.  As my empathetic GOD seeds begin to grow, I became an advocate/defender; had the tendency to speak/stand up for others that struggled to do so for themselves.
Encore51I can remember being told too many times, “Worry about yourself.”  I understand what the authority figures were trying to teach, the one that was not speaking or standing up for themselves, “you need to learn to speak or stand up for yourself.”  Yet, what their response did was taught me, “you shouldn’t speak/stand up for others.”
Now as an adult, who understand the need to examine and evaluate the things I was taught and trained to do, I can see how these situations should have been handled with an interactive approach.  Instead of stomping on the growth of my empathetic seeds, a better response would have been, “Thank you for letting me know.  It appears that you have a good relationship with this person; so how do you think we can work together to get them to speak/stand for themselves?”  This response would have presented inclusion, engagement and collaboration to my empathetic seeds.
I feel the “worry about yourself” response is an easy, comfortable and legitimate response to ignore the problem.  I can only imagine the power of my growth had I been included in the opportunity to embrace the challenge.  I can only imagine the power of the growth of the person that I was speaking/standing up for had they been encouraged to engage in the challenge.  I can only imagine the power of the authority figure to collaborate and watch us both grow in the challenge.
I was immensely impressed yesterday (March 24, 2018) as I watched the youth (the Gen Z/iGen/Centennials generation) nation-wide engaged in the March for Life.  These youths are being raised by Generation X and/or Generation Y/Millennials and I can tell they have changed the parenting game around!  I can tell these Generation X and Y parents are not saying, “Worry about yourself!”
I can tell these parents have learned that this mentality kills collaboration.  They are saying, “How can I help you, help them?”  While you may see a girl like Marley Dias, an African-American 11-year-old who launched a campaign to collect books that focused on black girls, when she noticed all her mandatory reading was about white boys and dogs.
I see involved parents focused on encouragement and engagement.
I can tell these parents have learned to foster inclusion and are not saying, “Do as I say; not as I do!”  I can tell that these parents have learned that this mentality kills innovation.  I can tell they are saying, “What do you want to do about it?!”
While you might see a girl like Naomi Wadler, an African-American 11-year-old who was concerned about Courtlin Arrington, a black girl killed in school shooting, but ignored in the media.
Students and young people gather for the "March for Our Lives" rally demanding gun control in Washington
I see involved parents focused on encouragement and engagement.
Ultimately, I saw the other youth, after watching her modify the march at her elementary school from 17 to 18 minutes to include the life of Courtlin Arrington, embrace inclusion and collaboration by asking her to speak at the March in Washington, DC.
While you may see Amazing Children doing Amazing things.
I see Amazing ParentsChangers with modified mentality that is encouraging their children to Encore58
Parent Changers, join us at Through It All, Inc. –
or join our Facebook Page –

Empowering, Encouraging and Promoting a Change in Parenting

Until next time…

National Tell A Fairy Tale Day

In my life experience, I’ve learned the power of reading. Encore42

Since I have been living away from my GrandChildren, I’m always thinking of things that I will do with them, when I have the opportunity to spend with them.  Because I’ve learned the power of reading, I’ve decided that I will read with them as much as possible.  Once I made that decision, I had to decide what to read.  Then I thought about the life lessons that dwell in fairy tales.
Because I have a strong sense for empathy and believe it is not much of it left in this world, I want to teach my GrandChildren the value of empathy; to help develop compassion, kindness and understanding.
I’ve searched around for fairy tales that teach empathy and found some are:

  1. Cinderella
  2. The Three (3) Bears
  3. Hansel and Gretel
  4. The Princess and the Frog

I plan to read these four (4) fairy tales to my GrandChildren until they are tired.  Yet, in my experience with my GrandDaughter Mink, she never gets tired of reading the same book over and over again.  They may not understand the lesson right now.  I believe repeatedly reading these books will sow the seed and pray they will reap the lesson later.
I encourage you to explore fairy tales to engage with the children in your life; to develop values that you feel are important.  The act of reading with children alone develops empathy.  It is my opinion that empathy in today’s society needs some improvement.  In honor of National Tell A Fairy Day, make a conscious effort and take time to read fairy tales to children!
Until next time…

Happy Birthday! My #2 Namesake

To those that know me well, you might have noticed that I have not been functioning as my usual self lately, because I’m enduring a readjustment period in my life.  Lately, I’ve been late posting “Happy Birthday” messages on Facebook and I’ve fell off with posting on my blog as well.  Though, I may have fell behind, I have not given up and am working everyday to successfully manage all of the things I feel I need to regularly accomplish daily.  I’m determined to successfully reach my daily goals and am asking for your prayers in doing so.

One of my greatest challenges is maintaining this blog.  So PLEASE bear with me as I work to conquer this challenge.

One of my goals for this year, as suggested by Random Acts of Kindness,  was to acknowledge people for whom I am grateful to have in my life with a Thank You Note.  I am far behind with these Thank You posts, but I do plan to catch up.

I want to go back to March 26 and acknowledge someone who IS blood-related to me

and is my #2 Namesake,
Jameson Demetri Williams;
which was his 16th Birthday!

Jameson was born in 2001, is a multi-sport athlete that excels in football and track,


to my Maternal Cousin, James De’Lonne Williams, Sr. and
his wife, Tianna DeMecko Swinney-Williams.


He is their third child of four and their second son of three.  Though Jameson is working hard to become a champion athlete, all of his siblings are successful athletes and they have the hardware to prove it!

His parents were high school sweethearts, been together since high school and both were devout track runners.  Their track skills/abilities gave him the genetic potential to become a champion athlete.
I was living in Evanston, IL but was in the St. Louis Metropolitan area for the funeral of a GOD-Given relative, Betty Jean Route.  The day I was to return home, we got the message that Cousin Tiana had been admitted in labor and delivery.  Being the supportive family member I aim to be, I rushed to the hospital to give moral support.
When I arrive, Tianna was laying down being monitored.  After I had been there a while, the nurse came in and highly suggested she get up and walked the halls.  I walked with her.  We walked and talked about old things, new things, good things, bad things; our kids, our visions; anything we could think of.  When she got tired, we went back to the room for her to rest.  Hours later, she got back up and we walked the halls even more.
Finally, when she reached 10 centimeters, my camera and I were right there!  I watched and captured in amazement, every second of Jameson’s first seconds of life!  I still have the pictures, but I won’t post them.  It was the most beautiful thing I had witnessed in my life!  I was so excited; I felt like I was part of parentage!
De’Lonne and Tianna followed a family traditional trend of naming their children with the first name initial J and the middle name initial D.  For this reason, coupled with me being a primary supporter of his birth, I begged them to make his middle name Demetris!  Tianna informed me that the naming was left solely to De’Lonne, the Dad.  After my consistent begging, he settled to drop the “s” and give him Demetri!
Jameson Demetri has been My Boy every since!

Due to my nomad lifestyle, I haven’t been close enough to build a true relationship with him.  Notice, my pictures are all from when he was a little guy; I don’t have any of him as a teenager.  Cousin Tianna, his Mother, has been most diligent in keeping me abreast of his achievements and boy there has been many!
His Pop Warner football team, The Future, has won the Super Bowl multiple times!  He has been running track with Herbert Hoover and has place 1st in the AAU Junior Olympics multiple times!  He has won so many times that he’s no longer races against his opponents.  He’s racing against himself to break records!
To Jameson, I want to say:

For your birthday I want to tell you how grateful I am to have you in my life.  Thank you for being who you are!

I am most inspired by your determination to


I want you to know that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’m with you in Spirit and always cheering for you!

Park Forest, Illinois


To My Blog Followers, I want to say “Remember My Boy, Jameson Demetri Williams; because



Happy Birthday! GOD-Given Sister

Tuesday; March 14 was the birthday of someone, who is not blood-related to me, but has grown and lived in my life as a Sister;
Ellen Regina Hartley-Nauls
on her 55th Birthday!


Ellen and I instantly became Best Friends on our initial meeting of first day of 7th Grade at Hughes-Quinn Junior High School in East St. Louis, Illinois.  Our personalities were as opposite as our physical appearance.  She’s short and I’m tall; she’s petite and I’m plus size; she’s quiet and I’m loud; she’s calm and I’m excited; she’s easy love and I’m tough love; she’s ying and I’m yang.  Though we have opposite characteristics, we became the best of friends for life!

We went to the same high school at Lincoln Senior High School and graduated together in 1980.  After we graduated, she moved to Houston, Texas to attend Texas Southern University and she has been a Texas resident every since.  She has planted her roots there; graduated from college, gotten married and had her children.


When it came time for me to choose a GODMother for my Son, she was my choice!  She has been the BEST GODMother to my Son…

…and an even GREATER GrandGODMother to my GrandChildren!

Ellen,  On your birthday I want to tell you how grateful I am to have you in my life.  Thank you for being who you are!

I am most inspired by your love for family!


With Her Sisters; Betty, Tisha and Pat


With Her Immediate Family; Jared (Son), Jasmine (Daughter) and Stanford (Husband)

I am, also, inspired by your ability to do the right thing and follow the rules!  Whenever I am faced with describing the type of person you are, I always use the scenario of how you are always willing to help, but steadfast in following the rules!
It was during our vacation in Nuevo Vallarta Nay, Mexico for Magic (my Son) & LaToya (my Daughter-In-Law)’s wedding.  By the time we had all settled in and christened the upgraded Texas Family Suite with our first Family Gathering as our Hospitality Hot Spot…

Magic & LaToya’s Wedding Guest in the upgraded Texas Family Suite

…some decided to take the festivities to the pool for some Late Night Swimming!  You decided that you would check out the scene before you joined in.

The pool partiers (Tyrone, Sheree, Jasmine and Syliva) realized that they forgot to retrieve pool towels and asked you to take their towel cards to get some for them.  As you are always willing to assist, you went.  You came back with the towels and the announcement, “Hey guys, they said the pool is closed!”  They received the information and the towels, but continue to engage in their pool fun.  As you and I sat on the side to watch, Sherrie said, “Hey Gina, I thought you were going to get in the pool?!”  And you calmly repeated, “They said the pool is closed!”

I am most grateful for your compassionate spirit.  As your friend, I came to know, learn and understand your apathetic demeanor was no indication for your naturally high degree of emotional intelligence to help and comfort others.  You have been one of my first classic examples of understanding the true meaning of a deep-rooted TRUE friendship.  I want to THANK YOU for not deserting me, when things got rough for me; sticking by me through my Highs and Lows.
It has been 30 years and I am still disappointed that I was not financially able to serve as a Brides Maid in your wedding, when you called on me to do so.
I’m most grateful for your ability to be trustworthy and keep it REAL; telling me what I needed to hear and not what I wanted to hear.

Your friendship is an invaluable treasure that I am
TRULY GRATEFUL to GOD for giving me
43 years ago!



Happy Birthday! GOD-Given Niece

Today I want to acknowledge my blood-related Maternal First Cousin, 1x removed, Michelle Candice Lawrence
on her 36th Birthday!

Michelle is my Cousin, but has grown in my life like a Niece; which makes her My GOD-Given Niece.

We are Sisters in the Greek World;
Michelle is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
I am a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.;
which displays our individual uniqueness and does not disturb our love.


Michelle,  On your birthday I want to tell you how grateful I am to have you in my life.  Thank you for being who you are!

I am most inspired by your determination to achieve your goals.  I watched you remain steadfast in obtaining your Bachelor degree in Nursing while becoming a first-time Mother.

Ten years later, I watch you achieve your Master degree in Nursing while being a single parent of two (2) children!

I’m PROUD of YOU, Cousin Michelle!

I’ll never forget the GREAT time we had in Phoenix that weekend in that vacation home !


in Phoenix, Arizona

 You are a prime example of embracing a journey of the strong!


I am most grateful to see your Cousin kinship with my Son and his family grow.

THANK YOU for being Our GOD-Given Family!


Happy Birthday! GOD-Given Brother

Today I want to acknowledge someone who is not blood-related to me, but has grown and lived in my life as a Brother;
Tyrone Cortez Davis
on his 55th Birthday!

Tyrone and I were in the same class 7th – 9th grade at Hughes-Quinn Junior High School.  We went to the same high school at Lincoln Senior High School and graduated together in 1980.  We went to the same college at Eastern Illinois University.  Even though we had been attending school together since 7th grade, our relationship as siblings did not grow until we started college together.  He was my Home Boy from home; which started him being my GOD-Given Brother!

We are also siblings in the Greek World;
Tyrone is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
I am a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.


Ty,  On your birthday I want to tell you how grateful I am to have you in my life.  Thank you for being who you are!

I am most inspired by your ability to accept challenges of the unknown in spite of your fears.  Remember Mr. Backstrom at Hughes-Quinn, our teacher that was the beast in paddling kids?!  I remember when you would accept the classroom challenge to purposely do something that would force him give you a paddling!  We wanted to see who was strong enough to take a paddling from him with no fear or flinch.  You would work extra hard to be the one and most times you were the one!
I am most grateful for you being one of my most reliable friends.  You were there for me, when I was pregnant with my son and feeling unsupported.  I will never forget the many times I called on you for assistance and you always came through.  It was during this time I learned that you have a beautiful heart.

Though, I thought some of your actions were kind of crazy, I knew you had a good heart.  

It was 30 years later, when your loyalty came full circle and you agreed to not only attend my Son’s wedding in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, but to stand as one of his Best Men.
It was meaningful that you were there for me, when my Son was in the womb and you were there for him as he took a major step in his adulthood.
It was hilarious at the reception, when all of the Best Men ran from the garter toss.  You volunteered to be blindfolded and place the garter on the bouquet catcher’s leg.  Only to be surprised that they implemented a switch-a-roo and my Son changed seats with the bouquet catcher!

I was not surprised watching you trying to get my GrandDaughter Mink to allow you to take a picture with her.  I kept telling you not to take it personally, because she had been turning people down all week, but you were adamant that you could convince her.  This was your best shot!
I am most appreciative for your handyman skills, coupled with you having a good heart; which were both beneficial to me as a homeowner.  I was truly impressed when you were able to input a ceiling fan and all of its connections in my living room that was not prepped for one!  THANK GOD for the distance we lived apart, because I probably would have gotten on your nerves with requests!
Just like blood-related brothers and sisters, we have had some sibling rivalry!  Remember, for a minute, I thought you were the devil; because your crazy actions could some times get out of hand.  Just when I was about to etch you out of my life, you found GOD; which saved our friendship!  “He may not come, when you want him but he’s ALWAYS right on time!”

THANK YOU for being a TRUE Brother and Friend!