Days 1 and 2, “The F Word”

I am committed to being open and honest in my blogging about my experience of being a grandparent, raising a grandchild.  So, I will be open and honest during my blogging about our 26 day trip across the country and back.  So, days 1 and 2 of our trip.  I am think about 2 “F” words.  No, neither one is “that” one.  I am think about, “Fun” and “Frustration”.  Days 1 and 2 have been filled with both.  Day 1 was mostly fun, with a little bit of frustration.  Day 2 was a lot of fun, but honestly, frustration won the day, slightly.

Day 1: It started early, because I didn’t sleep much the night before thinking about what I had to do to finish getting ready for the trip, before we left at 9 am.  9 am, so we could get to Costco at opening time.  I like to have the tires checked before we go on a long trip, and I like to get to Costco before it gets busy.  So, 9 am was the goal.  I had to put the bike rack on the motorhome and as I was doing that, I realized that I need a hitch extender.  I had one that I didn’t think I needed anymore, because it was a dual hitch extender.   So, I sold it on Craigslist.  I forgot that I needed to extender to extend the bikes beyond the spare tire on the back.  So, I had to make a dash to Harbor Freight at 8 am,  to get an hitch extender and be back in time to make our goal.  So, basically we got away about 9:15 am.  I didn’t meet the goal but it was close enough.  We were all sad about leaving Allene behind.  It was kind of a sad departure.  The other issue is that in feeling rushed to meet my departure goal, I left a few things behind.  My water bottle that keeps drinks really cold and probably more importantly, my “Love and Logic” book.  I had planned on reading it, Allene and I have started it together, at night, after Sebellah fell asleep.  So, I left Love and Logic behind.  That is probably a posting in itself.  I am working to getting back to practicing the principles of “Love and Logic”.

So, the drive, which is the shortest day as far as mileage, was good.  Sebellah did well and even took a nap during the last part of the drive.  We got to our first destination, Holbrook and the KOA there.  It was the typical KOA, a little cramped and basic, but it has the essentials.  A pool and a playground.  Both were a little dated, but the little playground was interesting.  Most of the features were metal, with a huge slide and a merry go round.  The merry go round will play a part of the day 2 frustration.  We did a pool session, which was overall, fun.  Sebellah had a hard time with their not being a section of the pool under 3 feet, but she enjoyed the time in the pool.  She loved the little playground.  She was initially afraid of the big slide, but she did conquer her fear and made it down.  After conquering the fear, she loved the slide.  She even got so bold as wanting to take two steps at a time and even go backwards up the steps.  Both of which I decided were not a part of Pops safety rules for the slide.  We ate dinner, played on the playground and went to sleep.  The other part that added some frustration to my day was that I still had to do some grading of final projects as part of my role as an Adjunct Professor for Purdue University Global.  This week I am finishing up a term.  So, after she went to sleep, I had to do some schoolwork, even though I was exhausted.  So, day 1.  Overall, a good day and a good start to our trip.

Day 2:  Day 2 started with my getting up at 4 am to do more grading of final projects.  I did an hour or so of work and then went back to sleep.  Then Sebellah came in and woke be up about 6 am.  Actually, that hour of sleep did help and I felt somewhat refreshed.  We had eggs and sausage for breakfast, she mainly had sausage.  We went out to play on the playground.  We were playing on the old merry go round and having a lot of fun, until, I tried to jump on as it was spinning and lost my balance and came crashing down onto the metal bars of the merry go round.  It was quite the crash and was very painful.  Sebellah thought it was funny but I was in so much pain that it was not even a little bit funny, as she said.  Which is a line from “Peppa Pig”.  I was in so much pain that I thought I was going to throw up.  I didn’t and was able to somewhat walk it off, although I do have two nice bruises on my back and it is still very soar.  So, the pain did add to the frustration level for the day.

But, we were off by 9 am, and head to Albuquerque.  It was about 230 miles, a little farther than day 1.  The first issue of the drive was that I could not get the tablet, the main form of entertainment for her, to come on.  She was not happy.  “I don’t have anything to watch”, she kept repeating.  Over and over again.  She can be a little dramatic at times.  About an hour into the trip, I did finally get it to come on.  “Yes!  The day is saved”.   Well, not exactly.  After about 20 minutes it shuts off again and will not come back on.  I am still not sure if it is dead or just a charging issue.  It might be dead.  So, no tablet for today.  Actually, we did pretty good finding other things to do.  We sang more songs and counted more cars of a certain color.  Right before I got the tablet back on, I had said that I would give her a new activity toy from the stash of activity toys for the trip.  When I got the tablet to come back on, I decided she did need another new activity toy.  Of course after the tablet failed again, she decided that she did.  I was okay with that idea as well, but the problem was how she was asking for that new activity toy.  We went through about a half hour of my saying that I was willing to stop and get one out, if she would change how she asked for it.  She was not giving in and continued to be whiny and dramatic.  I was not in the mood for “whiny and dramatic”.  Eventually, she came close enough and I stopped at a rest area and gave her a Mickey Mouse magnetic zoo travel set to play with.  It was enough to get us to the Route 66 RV Resort.  The resort has a great pool, with a perfect shallow section.   She loved the pool.  The only real issue with the pool experience is that Sebellah knows no stranger.  She wanted to engage everyone and wanted them to watch her pool tricks.  They were accommodating but had children of their own.  I was constantly having to redirect her back to focusing on the two of us.  Overall, our pool experience was very nice.

I forgot to mention that Sebellah did not take a nap on our drive on day 2.  So, I am dealing with what Allene and I refer to as, “No Nap Sebellah”.   During the pool experience, I heard people talking about a great burger place called, “Laguna Burger” and that you can take the shuttle over there for dinner.  So, since Sebellah loves to eat at restaurants, I thought it would be a fun treat.  Remember, I am taking “No Nap Sebellah” on our little date.  Well, the shuttle ride was fun.  It was a cute little bus/cart thing and a nice driver named, “Albert”, from New Hampshire.  Of course, Sebellah asked him what his name was.  The hamburger and hot dog at Laguna Burger were great, but “No Nap Sebellah” was very antsy and not really a “good listener”.  So, it was fun but honestly, it was a little more frustrating than fun.

When we got back to the camper we decided that since it was not quite as hot, that we would play outside.  Right before we decided to go outside, I realized that Sebellah had spilled an orange drink all over the couch.  “All over the couch”.  I was not happy.  I will admit that I showed my “frustration” more than I wish I had.  It did give me a chance to try out our new portable carpet cleaner.  I am still not sure if the stain is going to remain.  At the moment, it appears that it might.  I will keep working on it.  I will have to accept some responsibility because I did see her earlier in the afternoon lay the drink bottle on the couch, with the cap on, and thought, that is not a good idea.  I should have taken it at that point, but I did not.   I know, it is just a couch and I am still working on letting it go.

The wet couch, which is also a pull out sleeping couch, is also her bed.  So, last night, she slept with me.  It was not too bad, other than an occasional foot in my side or face.  Also, we did end the evening sitting outside and she rode her tricycle for a while.  The night and day, ended well.

So, days 1 and 2 are in the books.  Another part of my frustration is with myself.  I know that I show my frustration more than I want to.  I thought of a new phrase that I would like to implement.  “Breathe before you speak, and be calm when you do speak!”  I just thought of that phrase, while lying in bed last night.  My goal is to practice that today and each day of the next 24, and beyond.  “To Infinity and Beyond”, as Buzz Lightyear use to say.

I will try to post some pictures but I am having difficulty getting my Google Picture Library to update.

Sharing the Journey,


The Journey Begins

Well, the much anticipated and planned for journey across country begins.  Sebellah and I will be heading out this morning.  I have spent months getting our motorhome and all of our stuff ready.  I am a little nervous but I am more excited about the adventure and the time with Sebellah.  I wish Lolli were coming with us on the trip out, but we are looking forward to her joining us in Orlando.

Yesterday was a frustrating day but it ended well.  I cracked one of the sliding mirrored closet doors in the motorhome, when I was replacing the rollers on it.  I will admit that I was very “frustrated”, knowing that there was not time to have it repaired or replaced.  But, I did apply some clear Gorilla glue, and I think that will do the trick, at least for the trip.  We all need a little clear Gorilla glue from time to time.  It was also a good reminder to “not sweat the small stuff”.  It is just a crack in a mirror, “little stuff”.  The upcoming adventure, “big stuff”.

My goal is to be able to demonstrate the patience that Sebellah will need from me.  She can be a little demanding at times, related to what she believes are crucial needs at the moment.  Sometimes, the “Hey, Pops”, can get a little annoying, because it is usually followed by a request for something.  So, I will need to be patient with those, “Hey Pops” and be willing to do my best to meet her need.  I believe that we will be able to work out the necessary rhythm and system to get both of our needs met.

The journey involves the two of us, Sebellah and myself, traveling from Arizona to Disney World.  We will be taking 11 days to get there.  Allene will be flying to meet us on July 31st and will be traveling back to Arizona with us.  We will be meeting one of our sons and his family at Disney World and will be staying at Fort Wilderness, in our motorhome.  We will also be staying 5 days on the beach in Destin, Florida.  We will spend one night in New Orleans and 2 nights in Galveston, Texas.  Sebellah and I will be gone 26 days in total.

I will share the experience and hopefully be able to post some pictures as well.  I am believing that this is going to be an amazing and fun filled journey that will create lifelong memories for all of us.

Sharing the Journey,

Rich, “Pops”

Plan B

So much of the experience of raising a grandchild could fall under the category of “Plan B”.  “Plan A”, was to enjoy moving into the retirement years, being alone as a couple and being able to enjoy quiet relaxing evenings and weekends, travel and go out to dinner whenever we wanted to.  Well, that is not exactly what our life is like right now.

Last night is a good example of “Plan B”.  I was excited on Friday when Allene texted me that her boss, Angie, had volunteered to come babysit Sebellah Saturday night, so we could go out to dinner.  I was so appreciative of Angie’s offer, and Allene’s part in setting that up.  We decided that we wanted to try one of the new restaurants in town, that we had heard about.  There were two that we were interested in.  So, we researched both, and made our choice.  “Atmesfir” it was, a quaint little new restaurant in town.  We were both so excited and started looking forward to a night out.  Then, the rains came.  We are in the middle of monsoon season in Arizona and it rained very hard Saturday morning.  Angie texted that part of the facility was experiencing some flooding and that she need to oversee the taking care of that issue.  She was not sure that she could come babysit.  Although she offered to let us know by 5 pm, we decided to not wait, and let her know that we understood, and that we would cancel the plans.  We did understand, and yet, we were disappointed about not being able to go out for dinner.

It would have been easy to settle for “Plan C”.  What is “Plan C”, you ask.  “Plan C” is concession and complacency.  “Plan C” is giving up on your own plans and needs as adults.  We decided not to accept “Plan C”.  We fought to find a “Plan B”.  So, after exploring several options, we decided to go to the store and find a nice, yet, simple dinner and do a nice dinner at home, after “bedtime”, Sebellah’s bedtime.  So, we found a nice salmon pesto dinner at Costco, that you could just pop in the oven, and a kale shrimp past salad, baked sweet potato, zucchini and a nice bread for a nice dinner that was delicious.  The salmon was actually quite amazing.  Other than the fact that I did not realize that the pasta salad and the sweet potato constituted two starches, which Allene shared with me.  I guess I focused on the “salad” part of “pasta salad” more than the “pasta” part.  Other than that, it was an amazing dinner topped off with our favorite Tillamook ice cream, which in itself is amazing.  Overall, we had an awesome “Plan B” evening.

So, once again, it is important to fight for “Plan B” experiences, and not settle for “Plan C”.  Our needs as adults are important.  After all, not only does Sebellah need to survive and thrive in this experience.  Allene and I need to survive and thrive in this experience as well.  And, we are!  I believe that we are “thriving” much more during year 4, than we did through years, 1, 2 and 3.  We are much better at finding and fighting for those precious “Plan B” experiences.  “Viva La Plan B”!  Okay, so my french may not be very good, but you get the point.

Also, thanks Angie for the offer to babysit.  It was much appreciated.

Once again,

Sharing the Journey,

Rich, “Pops”

Sharing the Journey: The Value of Partnership

As I consider our journey as grandparents raising a grandchild, I am very thankful that I have partner to share the journey with.  Allene, “Lolli”, is definitely my partner.  We partner in the responsibilities that we have related to taking care of Sebellah.  I am usually the person that takes care of Sebellah when she first gets up.  I am a morning person, “Lolli”, not so much.  I am Sebellah’s breakfast attendant.  Lolli is Sebellah’s hair person, although I will be getting lessons before we head out on our 26-day adventure across country.  Lolli is also the person who fixes Sebellah’s lunch that she takes to preschool.  I am the one who does the “night, night” duties.  I think we would both say that we equally share the day-to-day tasks involved in providing for Sebellah.  I can only imagine how difficult this would be if I was doing this as a single grandparent, and I know that there are many who are doing that.  I have great respect for what you do.

Partnership is not only about sharing the responsibilities and tasks involved.  Allene and I talk about our experience and are honest with each other about the challenges and frustrations that we experience.  We also partner in encouraging each other to take advantage of opportunities that come our way, even when it means that we will have to pick up the slack for an evening, a day or a weekend.  We know the value of those times with our friends or family members.

Partnership is crucial whether you have a spouse or significant other, or not.  I do believe attempting to do this alone, is unbearable and not in the interest of either the grandparent or the child involved.  If you are a single grandparent, it is important to find people and resources to partner with.  You may need to ask other family members to join you in any way that they can.  Partnership is also one of the reasons that we are working to start a Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group.  We can share resources and referrals to help those who are not as fortunate as Allene and I are.  Hopefully, we can all share ideas, tips and resources to fill the gap where it may exist.  We also hope to build partnerships with those organizations in our community who can provide assistance.

Partnership is also an important concept as we parent our grandchildren.  We are clearly in the role of leadership and responsibility and yet, we must look for our children’s strengths, abilities, skills and giftedness, that will assist us as we seek to help them develop into healthy and independent adolescents and eventually, adults.  I believe that parenting is an empowerment process that develops as we step by step, let go of the power and control.  Hopefully, we are moving from a role of power and control, to a role of support and counsel.

So, what makes a person a good partner.  The words that come to mind are, vulnerability, trust and connection.  It starts with being willing to be vulnerable.  I can only benefit from Allene’s partnership when I am willing to demonstrate vulnerability and admit that I need the strengths, skills and perspective, that she has and I do not.  Competition never leads to true partnership, only vulnerability and trust do.  When we are willing to be vulnerability and demonstrate trust, then we have the opportunity to experience connection.  I believe that connection is the number one experience that we are all seeking, anyway.  It is in this experience of connection that we develop the partnership that benefits us as grandparents and also enhances a safe and healthy environment for our grandchildren to grow and develop their giftedness.

Partnership!  I am thankful for the invaluable partnership that I experience with my life partner, Allene, “Lolli”, and I desire to develop a partnership with Sebellah, to help her grow and develop into the precious young lady she was created to be.  I also look forward to partnering with many of you in the coming days to develop a community of connection and support to assist those precious angels that are serving as grandparents raising their grandchildren.


Sharing the Journey,

Rich, “Pops”


I am the Lolli part of this endeavor.  Rich and I have been married for 13 years. We were our own universe  happy just to be together, have adventures and experience the joy and wonder of togetherness. My adult daughter struggled with addiction and mental illness for years. She had times that she would stabilize and do ok, but most of the time her life was chaotic. For this reason we had taken a step back from her- not loving her less, but needed to not live in the place that she lived in. Then she had this amazing, beautiful little girl that was born addicted to opiates. When DCS removed Sebellah from her home at 4 1/2 months and placed her with us, our world expanded. Instead of a family of two, now we were 3-at times a completely overwhelmed and terrified family of 3! As the months, and then years went by our family grew to a tribe of people that became intrinsically entwined in our lives, that surrounded our small family of three, laughed with us in joy, mourned with us in our grief, and celebrated the milestones and each small victory. This is family in all of it’s messy, beautiful and most pure form.

Book Referral

Grandparents As Parents is a great resource for grandparents who are in the position of raising or providing temporary respite for their grandchildren.  The authors are pioneers in providing support for grandparents.  The information is very candid and honest in its discussion of the experience that grandparents have and are having.  They share many first hand stories from grandparents and provide much needed resources.  It is an easy and excellent read.  I highly recommend it.

Accepting the Paradoxes of Life

I like to say that maturity, is accepting the paradoxes of life that come our way.  As we make our journey through life, we learn that life is not “black” or “white”, but is both.  We do not experience “joys” or “sorrows”, but both.  We do not experience “opportunities” or “challenges”, but most new experiences or forks in the road, involve both.

There is no greater example of that, than the experience of parenting a grandchild.  I like to tell people that in my experience of providing a home for Sebellah, our granddaughter, “The joys outnumber the challenges, but the challenges are great!”  It is challenging to gear up to be a parent again, and to face all the decisions and sacrifices that come with that responsibility.  It’s challenging to have to plan your day around the needs of a 3-year-old.  This is definitely not the plan for my life in my 60’s.  This is not what I envisioned my “retirement years” to look like.  Yet, I do experience tremendous joy in spending time with our new family of three, four counting our Havanese, Maddi.  I do enjoy playing with Sebellah and watching the excitement on her face as she discovers new things and new experiences.  I melt when she says, “Pops, I love you so much!”

I also believe that this new opportunity that Allene and I have been given, does offer the chance to find new purpose and meaning, as we enter our “golden years”.  I know that many men in their sixties, struggle to find meaning and purpose, as they wind down their years of employment and achievement.  I feel a sense of responsibility to be a healthy and effective man during these upcoming years, because, Sebellah needs a healthy and effective man in her life.  A man who will provide a healthy and safe environment, in which she can explore and discover the wonderment of the person that God has created her to be.  She is a “Gift”, and my role as her “Pops”, and adopted father, is to simply create a safe environment, so that giftedness, can be unwrapped, received and experienced.  So, I am thankful for the gift that her presence presents to me, and know that the experience will make be a better, man, husband, friend and “Pops”.

So, life is full of paradoxes, and it is in the experience of those paradoxes, that we find the treasures of life!


Sharing the Journey,


Sharing Our Journey

Allene and I have decided to start this blog in order to share our journey of parenting our granddaughter, Sebellah.  We started our journey in March of 2015, when we decided to temporarily provide respite for Sebellah, who was 4 months old at the time.  Our March experience lasted a few weeks, but in April, we decided that she needed to stay with us indefinitely.  Well, the indefiniteness turned into a 3 year experience, that finally ended with the opportunity to adopt her.  We officially adopted her on May 11th of this year, 2018.

We hope to share our own experience, as well as share resources with other people in similar situations.  We are also in the process of setting up a support group in the Prescott area for grandparents raising their grandchildren.  I am meeting tomorrow with a representative of NACOG to discuss how we can work together to get such a support group started.

Sebellah and I are literally starting a “Journey” of our own, on July 21st.  We will be heading out in our motorhome, to Walt Disney World.  We are meeting one of our sons and his family.  Sebellah and I will be making the journey there by ourselves and Allene will be joining us at Disneyworld and then joining us for our return trip.  We will also be doing a couple of beach adventures in Destin, Florida and Galveston, Texas.  I hope to share part of our journey through this blog.

I appreciate your taking the opportunity to read this and please feel free to share this blog link with anyone who may benefit from the information and support.

Sharing the journey,