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!

Change – Being a GrandMother

My Father died at the age of 35 years old.  I was five (5) years old and my Sister was three (3) years old.  My Mother died at the age of age of 30 years old.  I was seven (7) years old and my Sister was five (5) years old; so neither of my parents got the opportunity to become a GrandParent.
My Paternal GrandFather died before we were born.  My Paternal GrandMother died, when I was ten (10) years old and my Sister was seven (7) years old; so we didn’t get a lot of time to make memorable memories with our Paternal Grandparents.
My Maternal GrandMother died, when I was 25 years old and my Sister was 23 years old.  My Maternal GrandFather died when I was 31 years old and my Sister was 29 years old.  Though, we got to know them greatly, I don’t recall any fun-filled memories with them.
My son’s father and his family were never really in his life and with my parents passing away before he was born, my son was raised with no grandparents at all in his life.

Opportunity for Change
While I was in graduate school, I was BLESSED to become a GrandMother, with a GrandDaughter on Valentines Day of 2012.  She is the Sweetest Valentine’s Day gift, for the rest of my life!  Her name is DeYani Danielle Lawrence.  I gave her the nickname “Mink,” because I knew she would acquire a great deal of my money.
Initially, I chose my GrandMother’s name to be “Mother Dear.”  When I would come home to visit from graduate school, I would give her my typical “Hello,” which was “Hey Nah!”  While I was away in South Africa, my Son and Daughter-In-Law would show her pictures of me and she would say, “Hey Nah!”
After my experience in South Africa and learning in the Xhosa culture, GrandMother was called “Magogo;” I chose to change my GrandMother’s name to “Magogo” to commemorate my experience in South Africa.  Now upon my return, Mink still calls me “Hey Nah;” which has become by GrandMother nickname.  So I gave myself a GrandMother name and my GrandDaughter has given me a GrandMother nickname and she uses both!
Given my lack of experience of having or watching my son have a fun-filled GrandMother, I made a personal vow to be the Fun-Filled GrandMother I wish I had or the Fun-Filled GrandMother I wish my Son had; this was a change I wanted to see.
When my GrandDaughter reached the potty training period (2 1/2 years old), I made arrangements with my Son and Daughter-In-Law to pick her up every other Sunday.  My goal was to spend time with just her in order for her to get to know me better and to create fun-filled memories for the both of us.  I wanted her to be able to remember special times that just the two of us shared.  I would researched things for us to do together and looked forward to doing them!  I called our time together “Mink and Magogo Day!”
Some of the things that we’ve experienced on our “Mink and Magogo Day” are:

  • UniverSoul Circus
  • Bengtson Pumpkin Patch
  • Build-A-Bear Workshop
  • 1st Movie Theatre experience – “Home”
  • Mall Playground – Her Favorite
  • School Field Trips
    • Navy Pier
    • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Live Musical Plays
    • Fancy Nancy
    • Elephant and Piggy

When I began to run out of things to do, I sought help from my Son and Daughter-In-Law.  My Son said, “Mom, you don’t have to do something every time you pick her up.  You can just sit at home with her.”  I was like, “No, I’ve got to do something, while I am able.  You never know when it’s my last day on this earth.”

During graduate school, I decided to go natural with my hair.  Right before I went to South Africa, I got the “Big Chop.”
After my return from Africa and my hair had begun to grow back, I sought the service of my Cousin LaToya Jackson, who specializes in braiding little girls’ hair.  I went to get my hair twisted every 2 weeks.  Then Mink’s hair began to grow and she needed her hair braided as well.  So our Fun-Filled “Mink and Magogo Day” turned into “Mink and Magogo’s Hair Day.”

Continuing to explore being a Fun-Filled GrandMother…

Gwegwesha Day Care Center

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Gwegwesha Day Care Center was motivated, created and founded from a vision of Wellington Kangapi, who is originally from Mzwini. Wellington moved from Mzwini to Cape Town and obtained a job with the South African Police Department.  He worked there … Continue reading

Changing my Grandmother Name

Since I’ve been here in South Africa, I’ve decided to change my grandmother name from “MotherDear” to “Magogo,” which means “old lady” in Xhosa/Zulu.  This part of my journey has inspired me to take the name, because it is unlike any other grandmother name in America.

When we met Linda Biehl, she told us how Easy Nofemela and Ntobeko Peni, two of the men convicted for killing her daughter, had become family to her and their children call her “Magogo.”  When we met Lindsay Henley, Program Director of the Beth Uriel, and she informed us that the boys of the house call her “Magogo” as well.  Even though, she has been working there since she was in her 20s and was far from being an old lady, it was a name that gave her a family title.

“Magogo” is the Grandmother that cares for her family and extended family. It is traditional in African culture to take in children as part of the family who need care. And it is often the Magogo who takes care of these children with her pension and whatever means she can find. She too will tell stories to the children and anyone who will listen.

This name has grown on me and I must adopt it!  This grandmother name change will also allow me to mark this part of my journey in my life.  Since my only grandbaby, Mink (18 months) has not yet begin to speak my name, I think it’s a great time to implement a grandmother name change!  “Magogo!”  I LOVE IT!!