Energetic Grateful Grandma Finds Adventure in Family and Travel
By Patte Smith, photos courtesy of Candy Tillack
Grass does not grow under Candy Tillack’s feet. Recently her feet – and her husband Blake’s – have made their way to Castle Pines. Wanting to be closer to their sons’ families, especially the grandchildren, the Tillacks moved from Phoenix to Castle Pines in early 2020.
“We love living in Castle Pines – the quality of life is great,” she stated. “Our location is perfect and close to our family who live in Highlands Ranch. Castle Pines has incredible parks, and we are fortunate to live right by Elk Ridge Park.”
The Tillacks’ love for Colorado was a lifetime in the making. “We vacationed with our children in Colorado many times over the years and always thought it would be a great place to live. Early on, our boys fell in love with the mountains. The oldest, Bryce, lived in Seattle for years and relocated to Colorado in 2019. Austin, our youngest, graduated from CSU and has stayed in Colorado ever since.”
The Tillacks’ grandkids, Emerson, Connor, Walker and Addison range in age from 3 to 7 years old. Candy laughs as she proudly explains that “Lolli” is the moniker chosen by the kids referring to her and, “Pops” is what they call grandpa. “Attending the kids’ soccer, t-ball and basketball games, as well as school programs is top of our list, although the two of us do like to travel, a lot,” stated Candy.
Outdoor, active vacations are their idea of a great holiday. The Tillacks challenged themselves while raising their boys to travel to all 50 states, and they accomplished that goal. “We have always loved visiting the national parks and hiking in other countries. One of our favorite hiking tours was the Dolomites in Italy. We also went on safari in South Africa.”
The Tillacks recently took up a new sport of riding electric bikes (e-bikes). They have had their e-bikes for a year and have already ridden 800 miles. They rode from Keystone to Breckenridge as well as numerous trails throughout the Denver area. Biking in Zion, Teton, and Bryce Canyon national parks was a thrill for the couple, and they are currently planning a trip to Oregon and Washington for a summer ride. “Anyone thinking of getting an e-bike, we highly recommend it,” affirms the couple.
Being a nature lover, Candy loves all wildlife and wants to pass that on to her grandchildren. “One Christmas, I gave them Chelsea Clinton’s book, Don’t Let Them Disappear, highlighting endangered species. It was then I decided to celebrate with my grandkids, unique international days, such as International Polar Bear Day, World Giraffe Day, World Gorilla Day – there are many of these special days supporting conservation efforts throughout the world.”
Crafting and learning with the grandkids is a priority for Candy. Their task is to find some facts about a wild animal they want to learn about. Then they craft the animal using art supplies and materials while discussing the facts they learned. “I cut out each specific animal we learn about and then the kids decorate them. We place them on stakes in the yard or decorate windows or tables with their creations. It is fun for them and a learning experience. I kind of go ‘over-the-top’ on the theme,” Candy admits.
During various holidays, the kids create themed foods such as PB&J sandwiches with animal shape cookie cutters, or craft giraffes out of cheese and pretzels. Jell-O jigglers are made using cookie cutters too. “You have to find the right one – there may be a mess involved,” Candy warned.
The kids have a blast throughout the year making all kinds of food and crafts while laughing with Lolli. You never know what clever idea will pop up next. “I am grateful for this window of time with my children and grandchildren and look forward to the years ahead,” smiled Candy.