A Week with Grandma in Taipei

Our flight back to Taipei was long. We flew from Ohio to Houston and then were delayed in Houston for almost 3 hours (stuck in the plane on the tarmac due to a passenger being not fit to fly and then a storm coming through). It was awful and we were all happy to finally make it to LA and into the Star Alliance Lounge.

IMG_7493My Mom was a huge help. I still can’t believe I ever contemplated flying by myself with the boys – it would not have been possible.

IMG_7483The LAX Star Alliance lounge is amazing. They have an awesome outdoor area which was great for antsy kids.

IMG_7487Mom and I were able to enjoy a vodka tonic and some LA-‘fresh’ air while waiting for our flight.

IMG_7490Our 13-hour flight was tough but we all survived.

IMG_7496We arrived late Thursday night and Friday to recover. Saturday was the 4th of July and so we went to the American Club to celebrate with a BBQ by the pool.


The rest of the week went by in a flash. We had playdates,

IMG_7555Beef noodle soup,

IMG_8378Walks around town,

IMG_8374A vegetarian feast for lunch,

IMG_7516Complete with giant veggie burger,

IMG_8375And of course there was lots and lots of playtime with the boys at home.

IMG_7569One evening my Mom shared her vision for reorganizing my kitchen and we made it happen.

IMG_8376What she did was amazing. I still can’t get over how she shifted around a few things and made our tiny kitchen feel bigger.

IMG_8377I couldn’t let Mom leave Taipei with out taking her to an awesome vegan hotpot restaurant. She loved it. I brought Natalie here when she visited over Christmas and she was also a huge fan.

IMG_7547On Mom’s second to last night we went out for Spanish Tapas and washed them down with New Zealand wine.

IMG_7568The last day we spent hanging outside on the patio (which Mom also helped re-design and jazz up while there).

IMG_7587I can’t even begin to describe how sad the goodbye was and just how much we all miss her.   Thanks again for everything, Grandma. We love you!



Summer in Ohio: Week 2

Our second week in Ohio has flown by. Jude has again spent most of the week outside.

IMG_4231He spent a lot of time down at the pond throwing rocks, blowing bubbles,

IMG_4236Watering plants with Grandma,

IMG_5975And wagon rides.


IMG_6009In between these adventures we chat with Dada.

IMG_6196Boy, we sure miss him.  (He still gets lots of hugs and kisses through the phone).

IMG_6197Of course, it’s not all fun, play, and Facetime, Jude’s also been going into work and helping Grandma out.

IMG_6017The weather has been great so we were able to cook out one night.

IMG_4315Steak fajitas and corn were a real treat.

IMG_4316On Wednesday we got another treat- Aunt Natalie arrived! (And came bearing Elmo-themed gifts).

IMG_4332Things got a little crazy her first night in.

IMG_4335The next day we were up early and Jude and Nat spent some time catching up and cooking.

IMG_6044And then cleaning up after.

IMG_6049It’s been great having more helping hands around. At 29 weeks pregnant (!) it’s been nice to have a break to put my feet up, or fit in a work-out.

IMG_5974We’ve attempted taking Jude out to eat a few times and it’s always a challenge. He’s not really into sitting in high chairs these days and would prefer to sit on Grandpa’s lap and make a mess.

IMG_6033We found a place way better than any restaurant to take him – a splash park.

IMG_6052It’s a free, outdoor, splash water park, located not too far away. It’s the most amazing thing! Jude loved it!

IMG_6060Next to the splash park is a playground so we went up and down the slide after to dry off.

IMG_6061On Saturday we threw a little baby shower for Jen. We left Jude with Grandpa and went out for a bit of pampering.

IMG_4396We had pedicures,

IMG_6068and then went out for a nice lunch.

IMG_4395Back home we met back up with Grandpa and Jude and soon after Rob arrived. We showered the parents-to-be with presents.

IMG_6084And then had cake (which Grandpa and Jude were in charge of picking up earlier in the day. Note that it is a little lopsided due to a little incident where Grandpa claimed he had to choose between dropping the cake or dropping the baby…).

IMG_4399Come August these two will have a little baby boy!

IMG_4398And Grandma and Grandpa will have their second Grandson!

IMG_4397On Sunday we had another family gathering this time at Jen and Rob’s. They cooked a beautiful Italian feast in honor of my Grandma, who passed away last October. She was born on July 19, 1921, so we thought it was a fitting time to celebrate her life.

IMG_4402After dinner Jude took a spin around the yard in the wagon.

IMG_6125It’s been a great second week,

IMG_6127And we still have a few more days left here to play outside.

IMG_6103To be continued…


The Rest Of Our Unexpected Trip

Despite being a very sad time, we tried to have some fun moments during our trip to the US.  Jude, perhaps, had the most fun in this wild contraption – ‘the Jumperoo’ – it played music, made animal noises, and kept our little guy very entertained.  He needed all the entertainment he could get as, after the funeral, I came down with some nasty bug – a super duper bad head cold which pretty much deemed me useless.

IMG_9076Thankfully there were plenty of people around to keep him entertained.

IMG_9179Jen dressed him up as Winny the Pooh,

IMG_9145And Natalie gave him his first piano lesson.

IMG_9171Before my sisters left to return to their respective States we managed to do one final outing to the pumpkin path. I was still feeling pretty crap but couldn’t pass up an opportunity to photograph Jude with giant pumpkins.

IMG_1759He wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about but went along with it anyway.

IMG_1784Such as good sport.

IMG_1793Even managed a smile.

IMG_1794I did too.


We did a group shot to remember the occasion.

IMG_1829After Jen and Nat left, Mom and Dad pitched and helped out with Jude while I tried to rest and recover.

IMG_9182Jude would wake up at 6 or 7am and I would get to go right back to sleep thanks to them.


When I was feeling a bit better we made a trip downtown to the Cleveland Zoo.

IMG_9252We did our best to show Jude all the animals but he wasn’t really all that interested.


IMG_9246We made it an educational experience, too, by showing him just how small he is,

IMG_9266As well as how to ride an elephant (should he ever find himself in a situation where he needs to).

IMG_9295All of it made him pretty tired and he passed out before we got to the bears.

IMG_9324After the bears we came across a very scenic area of the park – perfect for father- daughter; and

IMG_9327mother-daughter photos.

IMG_9330The rest of the time we laid low – hung out at home watching ‘Elmo’s Song’

IMG_9240Sorting through old baby clothes my Mom saved,

IMG_9528And taking quick trips to Target to buy diapers.

IMG_2317We had just one night out to eat.


The day before we flew I was feeling better but poor wee Jude had caught whatever it was I had.  So I stocked up on baby advil and such to help get him through the 18 hour journey. We said our goodbyes.

IMG_9367Despite being sick, Jude was a champ. He didn’t cry once on the trip home. He must have been excited for what was waiting for him at home…


A Jumperoo!


Goodbye Grandma

Jude and I just recently returned from an unplanned trip to the US. Just over a month ago my Grandma got pretty sick. Her kidneys began to fail and then everything else. She eventually passed away on the evening of Thursday, October 3rd. We arrived in Ohio on the day she passed, getting to see her one last time that afternoon.

Her funeral was held on the following Monday. My sisters, Jude, and I gathered with my Mom, Dad, and other close family members and friends to remember Grandma. During the church service I gave a eulogy and have copied it below in memory of my dear Grandma.



Good morning. As probably most of you know, I am Melanie, one of Vincetta’s three granddaughters, and I wanted to say a few words today in memory of my Grandma and on behalf of my family.

Vincetta, Vinnie, V, Aunt V, Grandma, or Mom. We all knew her by something different but one thing is for certain she had an impact on all of our lives. And for me and my sisters being granddaughters meant our relationship with Grandma was based purely on love and on having fun.

When Jenny, Natalie, and myself were little we spent a lot of time with Grandma and Uncle Frank. Our parents used to drop us off at their apartment in Euclid where we would spend the night. I remember looking forward to these sleepovers knowing how much fun we would have. A sleepover at Grandmas almost always included a fashion show. After watching ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and the Lottery, she would let each us dress up in one of her very fancy ball gowns, put on make-up, jewellery, powder, lipstick, and even a wig. We’d then parade around the living room pretending to be Vana White. Sleepovers also meant lots of good food. Grandma was an amazing cook and baker. Her signature dishes included rigatoni, fried cakes, and buns. For dessert her and Uncle Frank would always have individually wrapped apple pie from Convenient for each of us, they were loaded with and caked in sugar. In the morning Grandma would make each of us a cup of instant coffee. She justified it as okay to give children coffee by adding lots of milk and guess what? More sugar.

Later on Grandma and Uncle Frank moved to a condo in Mentor. They were closer to us so we got to see them more. My sisters and I have a lot of memories from this time. One thing that sticks with us all is the plastic yellow baseball bat they owned. The bat, most likely purchased from the dollar store, was meant to be used for protection. I can remember them hearing sirens drive by and they would both get all wide-eyed and Grandma would shout over to Uncle Frank to grab the bat and get ready. Grandma would instruct us all to stay quiet as Uncle Frank stood behind the door grasping the bat. Of course, nothing would come out of the event but we always stayed up a bit later and didn’t quite sleep as well on these occasions.

We especially remember driving around with them in Frank’s little red Ford Fiesta. Grandma in the front seat shouting instructions to Frank as he drove. Us three in the back, with the plastic yellow bat. We drove to a little store on Mentor Avenue where they stocked up on lottery tickets and candy bars.

Grandma was a great story-teller. During these visits my sisters and I would press Grandma to tell us one of her many stories over and over again. One of our favorites was about the man with three-legs who rode his bicycle around Euclid. The way she would tell these stories, with such conviction, made it seem as if she really, truly, believed what she would tell us.

We have so many great memories with Grandma and Uncle Frank when they lived in Mentor. They certainly weren’t your typical Grandparent figures but we loved their cooky and chaotic ways.

There was a terribly sad and confusing time Grandma went through after Uncle Frank died. He was her everything and I believe she felt absolutely helpless and lost without him.

So we stepped in and tried to fill that gap that was missing in her life without Frank. It was difficult and most of the burden fell on my parents. After Uncle Frank, they helped Grandma moved to and from various apartments in search of the perfect place. She always felt lonely and had a hard time being on her own, (a favorite quote of hers being, ‘get me out of this place’). So as a result she spend a lot of time at our house. We tried to keep the fun going with her by playing tricks on her, videotaping her as she read lyrics to rap songs, and even getting her to buy us and our underage friends beer when our parents were out-of-town. We knew we could trust Grandma with such a task as for those of you that knew her well knew she was a great liar.

After we moved out and onto college, the dependence Grandma had on my parents, especially my Mom increased. Grandma began calling my Mom over and over all day long and became obsessed with knowing where she was at all times of the day, as well as knowing when she was going to see her next. It’s hard to explain to anyone that doesn’t know just how many times she would call and how many messages she would leave. But a message wasn’t always enough to satisfy Grandma as she had a phone book and knew that if my Mom wasn’t home, she would be somewhere else around town. So she would call work and if she wasn’t at work she would start calling other places, like the mall. I distinctly remember being with my mom in K-Mart one afternoon when we heard over the loudspeaker, ‘Nancy Stokes, please report to customer service’.

Speaking of the mall, no speech about Grandma would be complete with out mentioning it, as she loved going there for the day to sit in the food court. She made many friends there, including with the cleaning lady, fast food workers, and other mall-goers. She continued to ask my Mom to take her up until weeks before she died.

Grandma was also a great animal lover. She especially loved our dog, Odie. After her daughter, Odie was always the second thing she would ask about when she called. ‘Where’s Odie, how’s Odie’? And she always, always had a bag of shredded chicken in her purse ready to feed Odie and our cats whenever she came over.

Despite her love of animals she wasn’t all that fond of babies but there was one, my son Jude, she couldn’t resist. She got to meet her great-grandson in July when we also celebrated her 92nd birthday.

Grandma was a determined person, which could sometimes be interpreted as stubborn. One great example of this is how she insisted on getting her driver’s license, even into her 90s, despite the fact she never, ever drove.

Before I end I want to talk for a minute about my Mom as she has been so incredibly amazing. As the years passed and Grandma’s demands grew. My Mom continued to meet them even if it meant having to sacrifice her own life. We would often encourage Mom to not to worry about Grandma or to skip a visit but she would never listen to us. She always always was there for Grandma and cared for her and helped her like only a loving daughter could. I truly admire my Mom for this. And I know that it will take time for my Mom to heal from this but I encourage her to remember that Grandma has a long, and very full life. She certainly lived longer than than I expected especially given the facts that she loved fast food, never exercised, was overweight, and has several serious health problems (including major back and brain surgery in the same year) and was never one to turn down a high-ball. Mom, Jen, and Nat, let’s hope these longevity genes were passed onto us.

Grandma may not have had all her fingers, nor all of her marbles at times, but that didn’t matter as she had a big generous heart toward her family and friends. I know she will miss us just as much as we miss her.



As I mentioned in my last post our Christmas didn’t go as planned. We had planned on having spending half of Christmas Day with my Grandma at her nursing home and then coming home after and having a nice Christmas dinner. So that morning my Mom went over to the nursing home before lunch to get Grandma ready for our arrival and found her in a bad way. She had had pneumonia for the past week and was progressively getting worse. On Christmas Day she was completely out of it, wasn’t talking, and had a badly swollen lip and legs. So no question about it she had to go to the hospital. So off they went in the ambulance to the hospital and my Dad joined them there.

Meanwhile, the rest of us stayed at home and had the lunch we prepared for Grandmas. We decided to carry on as normal and after lunch got to work on Christmas dinner. We received regular updates from Mom and Dad about Grandma. By the time she was finished being examined and placed into a room it was well into the evening. And it was almost 9pm by the time they finally got home.


As soon as they got back we cracked a bottle of bubbly, toasted


And dug into the appetizers Luke and Rob had prepared (Pigs in Blankets).

IMG_3215Yum, yum

IMG_3222And after we sat down to a very late but delicious Christmas dinner.

IMG_7597Then it was time for presents.

IMG_7633Here’s Nat with a Weiqi board from Luke and I.

IMG_7637Jen with a fancy face tool to make her look younger from Mom and Dad.

IMG_7642Rob in a Taipei Elephants Baseball jersey.

IMG_7667Dad with practice chopsticks to help him prepare for their upcoming trip to Taiwan.

IMG_7679Luke and Rob gave eachother the same book.

IMG_7670We got a subscription to the Economist and a bottle of whiskey from Mom and Dad.

IMG_7681We had a great time but of course missed getting to see Grandma. So once she was feeling better, a few days after Christmas, we headed over for a belated Christmas visit. (I had to wear a face mask to protect my pregnant self from getting pnemonia).

IMG_7707Grandma loved her gifts, which included a lot of tasty treats and a cool photo calendar from Nat.

IMG_7739She wasn’t really supposed to be eating anything other than what the hospital gave her but we decided to live dangerously.

IMG_7728It was nice to spend time with her even if it wasn’t as we had planned.