She is a cutie. With a grin that lights up a room and a giggle that lights up my heart. She is a smart one and I am not surprised, given her parentage. I love it when she uses a grown-up word and I think I may stump her when I ask if if she knows what it means. She usually does and she can readily define it in her own words. Sometimes she gives me an example – even without me asking. She doesn’t gloat about what she knows or what she can do. It is just who she is and what she does. It’s just Abby. And as smart as she is … she is just that messy. Her little brain is totally organized with everything in the proper boxes. Her surroundings – well that is a whole different story, entirely. She takes up a small conference room table working on her remote schooling at my house. Papers are mixed up with some on the floor and some under her chrome book or on a chair across the room. She constantly murmurs “oh no. Where did I put that paper?” I try to keep my smile and giggle to myself. She always finds it.
She is blessed with many other talents. She can pull off an impromptu hip-hop at the drop of a backwards baseball cap. She can commit almost any song to memory as well as sing it on key. She continuously sings to herself while playing with Barbie, remote learning, enjoying lunch and sometimes even during karate lessons!
And today she is 8, We celebrate with burgers and cake and gifts at her house with immediate family who have been isolated, She doesn’t seem to notice that the fuss is less this year. She has her cousins and brother and an aunt and uncle; a Papa, a Mahmaw and a Nana, her mommy and daddy, two dogs and so much love that it spills out of the house. Her giggles radiate from the backyard. She opens gifts and hugs each one. Her voice is getting a little hoarse and she swears that she is going through puberty! (She has studied the new books mommy has gotten her lately,) She may be disappointed when, after a day of not yelling in the backyard, her little voice comes back and she discovers that is not to be. Not this year.
For now, she is a happy little 8 year old in the spotlight. Happy Birthday, Abby. This is the only year you will ever be eight.
Breathe it in, my sweet little granddaughter. Nana loves you/
Abby and I made a fairy garden. I set two planters up and filled them with rich dark soil and scattered a few plants here and there to give shade to our invited fairy guests.
I placed a few online orders and soon we were ready to set up a retreat to welcome our new residents. Abby called dibs on the top barrel and all of the fairies. She then told me I could do the bottom level and make an area for the mermaid toddlers. I told her, these are baby fairies. No, she stated. They are mermaids, but that’s okay. I look them over. They ARE mermaids. We agree that they are probably (possibly?) fairy mermaids and let it go at that. Mermaid fairies. Of course!
She takes great care in placing the little fairy lanterns on the shepherd’s hooks and distributing them around both levels. She places a bench here and a swing there and tucks tiny colorful toadstools around. She takes some small stones and makes a “fairy circle”, because that’s what they do, Nana. I work on my level and let her do her thing sprinkling fairy dust and planting miniature pumpkins and laying the smallest of stepping stones. And it looks good. Really good.
And then … “I have a great idea and you are going to love this” and her voice trails off, only to return several minutes later with some found treasures (from my found craft storage cubes) clenched in both fists so as not to drop any of her newest ideas.
The hands open and out falls a silver butterfly clip, several half “pearl” beads, a tiny corked bottle of green and gold rhinestones and my set of teensy-weensy glass teacups, saucers and creamer charms. She places the pearls on some seashells around the fairy mermaid’s pond and a butterfly on our homemade twig and string ladder. The bottle of rhinestones are semi buried in the dirt around a plant. Finally, she sets up a tea party area on the flagstone for the pond dwellers.
Looking over her new fairy dwellings, she seems pleased with her efforts and retreats to the kitchen for a jell-o fruit cup and a mini root beer. Well deserved.
Happy Birthday, my sweet, talented and loving Marluce. Grandma’s Girl. Always has been and always will be. Cannot wait to see what the world has in store for you – or should I say, what YOU have in store for the world. Love you oodles, Missy.
West Coast Karate is continuing classes via the Internet.
Abby and I embarked on a girls trip this week. On Thursday, we boarded American Airlines (Abby called dibs on the window seat) for Austin, Texas to join my sister, Robyn and her granddaughter (my great niece), Alina, for the 2020 Faerie Tea. Oh, but this is so much more than just a tea party.
First things first – the perfect faerie dress. This is no time for a costume. Etsy is the place to go for carefully constructed faerie gowns befitting the event. Always good to support small businesses.
Alina wore a tulle skirted gown in all of the blues and greens you could imagine on a beautiful peacock in all of it’s glory. With her fair complexion and thick black hair, this color pallet showcased this 8 year old beauty.
Abby’s “new favorite” color is green. So, naturally, a Tinkerbell Fairy dress was in order. https://www.etsy.com/shop/Emmasmagicalcloset had the perfect one. The workmanship was amazing, the dress was impeccable and the customer service was second to none. The colors were perfect with her blond pixie cut and sparkly green nails!
And now we were off to meet up with other fairies at the gardens.
Zilker Botanical Garden —
located on 26 acres nestled within Zilker Metropolitan Park
in the heart of downtown Austin, Texas,
Zilker Botanical Garden is often called
“the jewel in the heart of Austin”.
First step was to sign in and select a Fairy Name. Alina chose Peacock Girl while Abby stuck with Tinkerbell. Way to nail the theme, ladies! After a few indoor games, the garden tour began with the guide imparting information about the gardens and their care. She kept it engaging by sprinkling bits of “fairy dust” particles of information on such things as what fairies eat and how they make their tiny houses. There were actual fairy homes here and there and each seemed to have a little theme. There was a sewing fairy house and a cozy gardening fairy home to name a few.
There were ponds to explore and places for fairies to pose and even a book to read!
All fairies got to plant their own plants to attract tiny fairies and butterflies. Aunt Robyn will plant Abby’s at her home and watch it grow. We cannot take it on the plane and cannot bring it into Arizona. Abby was thrilled that Aunt Robyn will watch over her plant.
A trip to remember. Loved every enchanting minute! Thanks to Robyn for the amazing photos!
Today I celebrate receiving my best birthday gift. Cuter than a puppy. Better than a new car. The gift that keeps on giving.
I had ventured to the OB ward at St. Mary’s Hospital four times previously just to meet this baby bundle. One day for 8 hours with pills shoved in between my lips and gums; small contractions here and there with no results. Returning another day for more of the same and leaving empty handed – but oh, so determined. Two days later, a 48 hour pitocin drip. Oh, I knew this would be the day. Alas…no bundle in blue. I was exhausted mentally and physically. Bob was exhausted. My doctor was at his wits end. Before being released, Dr. Mohler appeared at the door. His eyes were red and watery. He told me he was sorry, but if the next time produced no results, I would need to undergo a C section. I am a serious bleeder and hemorrhaged in previous deliveries, so a C section was a last resort. His face turned toward Bob – the already nervous daddy to be (again). I had never seen Dr. Mohler with a stern face before. He pointed at Bob. “4 weeks after she delivers, I want YOU in my office!” It was not a request. It was not a suggestion. Bob knew what that meant and so now he had a couple of worries on his mind. Poor guy. But, back to me.
On Sunday, February 5, 1984, my Grand Junction family descended on 30 Road with birthday cards and birthday gifts, cakes and wishes. I waited until the surprise gathering was almost over to reveal MY surprise. I was going back to St. Mary’s the next day on my birthday and was not leaving without a baby!
Monday, February 6th. 6 a.m. Bob was driving us back to the hospital. I am sure he was convinced by now, that this was all a hoax. I am also sure that he was replaying the doctor’s parting words to him over and over and over.
This day, the OB specialist and Dr. Mohler had come up with a new plan. After explaining that there would be no more Pitocin (an idea that I LOVED) and that there was an experimental drug in the form of a cream that would be placed (Jeffry – cover your eyes) inside my vagina that would soften the cervix and encourage contractions. Now this I could do! No needles! This was right up my alley (so to speak). We signed all kinds of forms regarding the risks and yes, yes we knew this was not an approved method yet and was still in testing stages. If it meant I would go home with a baby this time, I signed away!
A few moments later a nurse wheeled a little stainless steel tray up to my bedside with gauze and tubes and a giant syringe the width of a turkey baster with a long THICK needle at the end. Wait. WHAT?!? After pulling me back into a resting position, the nurse explained that it was used to place the right amount of the cream on to the gauze. Wiping my tears and trying to get my heart rate back under 300, I was thinking that information should be printed in large red letters on the side of the giant thing with the giant needle THIS GINORMOUS THING IS NOT GOING INSIDE OF YOU.
So, without going into the details of the actual birthing (you’re welcome), less than 9 hours later my best Birthday Present arrived. World, meet Jeffry Charles Gardner. The last Bob and Connie baby (on orders of the Doc). And he was a joy.
A few days later, we were home. The newness soon wore off for the older boys. “Do you want to hold him?” “Um, sure. Then can I go ride my bike?”
How could anyone resist this bundle of cuteness and joy. Jeffry was a perfectly content baby – as long as mommy was holding him. He never cried – as long as mommy was holding him. Yes, yes. Sheer perfection.
He is still perfection (save for his truck driver mouth). He has laughed and cried with me. Held me up when I thought I could not emotionally get to my feet again. Fills me with laughter and wipes my tears. He is a wonderful husband (so I am told) and a father that every man should strive to be. He is still my baby boy. He is still the best birthday gift ever and I get to relive it every year. Happy Birthday, Jeffry. I could not have imagined my life without you.
My little pixie of a sweetheart. Part cheeky Gdovin girl and part tender hearted princess. With a keen eye; a memory like an elephant and the smarts of her parents …
I met her when she was mere hours old. I have watched her learn and laugh and cry and argue and nurture. She has tried my patience until I had almost none. She has brushed away my tears with her sweet touch. She has made me laugh to the point of aching. And she has made me love more than I ever thought possible.
She argues with her brother and within seconds will tell him that she loves him. She can act like perfection one minute and spew out a verbal jab the next.
She is tiny, yet mighty. She is wise beyond her years. She has the whole world at her fingertips. Just wait and watch what she does with it.
She is my Abby. Happy Birthday my sassy little pixie. I love you beyond words. Nana
The kitchen is clean. The dishwasher is gently humming while water spills into the washing machine over the dozen cloths used as napkins and the many towels used for the meal prep. The wood scraps used as some type of Barbie yoga retreat have been returned to the wood bin. The patio and sidewalks are still alive with the vibrant chalk art of two little girls. The house is quiet as another Sunday family dinner is done.
I so love these times. The prep and cooking take a large part of the day. The patio tables are set with simple place settings and chairs are scattered between the two tables. As the house fills with greetings and conversation and baby squeals, plates are filled and drinks are poured as the house empties on to the patio. Conversation quiets for a bit except the clang of the silverware against the plates. (Yeah – we mostly use regular dinnerware out there. I can’t help myself.)
As dinner comes to an end and dessert has been served, kids are playing; guests are loading the dishwasher and we settle down for some evening conversation before everyone begins to head home.
Another evening of family time and my heart is full.
Today was show my work day at Max and Abby’s school. I went to Max’s class and Aunt Megan went with Abby.
I am always amazed at the way the Khalsa Montessori works. Really I am amazed how calm the kids and the setting are. An old fashioned hand bell is heard outdoors and the kids calmly walk to their designated entrance. As they stand just outside the door, one child at a time walks to the classroom while the second child starts the walk when the first one is about 2/3 of the way there. There is no discussion. No pushing. No jockeying for a place in line. It is all rather … well … civilized. After the kids are settled in a circle on the carpet, the parents (grandparents and aunties) are all invited in. Max motions me to his table and instructs me to “stay right there” while he walks out of the room, returning with an adult sized folding chair that he sets up for me. Just a lovely reminder that at this school, Max’s consideration for me is not out of the ordinary. It is what is done. He is always considerate of others, but when he does something just for me, I tear up with pride and joy. He is really such a nice kid. And I am not the only one who thinks it as more than a few parents commented to me about his manners, intelligence and, of course, his humor!
Back to School. This Grammie, Grandma, Mimi, Nana and GG has a thing about buying school supplies. I started when Tristan began kindergarten. And now she is 27; so it has been a bit since I began this tradition.
Supplies are winging their way as I write, to Alexander and Victoria. Marluce should be getting some packages as well. Mateo does not have his school supply list yet. I am still shopping for Connor & waiting for information for AJ!
Max and Abby attend the Khalsa Montessori school and the school shops for and purchases all of the school supplies so every one has identical supplies. Since I cannot buy school supplies for them, I will settle for school shoe shopping. After Abby and I picked up Maxwell from his coding camp, we hit the Hungry Fox for a real lunch that had no resemblance to a box lunch with a toy.
Okay, sooooo, Nana may or may not have, picked up some sandals as well as a new purse. Thanks, DSW!
A fairly successful afternoon of shopping, I think!
This morning we have a lazy few hours with Max and Abby watching television cartoons. I am folding the clean laundry (I have a rule about travelling with dirty laundry) and when I need their assistance and call their name, they respond with a karate stance and a sharp “ma’am! Yes ma’am!!) They lighten my slightly sad mood as I realize this is the last morning of Nana Vacation time, and now I will have to share them again.
Packed up our beautiful little condo for 5 days and then out and about to say good-bye to Victoria before we have to head to the airport.
It’s a good thing that we are leaving the dangerous downtown of Victoria. The kids were almost eaten by a Canadian bear!! Poor little things were terrified.
To celebrate their survival, we hop on our final Victoria Taxi and made our way to the Victoria airport to meet up with Jeffry and Kerri in Calgary.
Almost everyone of these taxi’s we used (and we used them at least twice a day!) were all Prius cars as Victoria prides herself on keeping green. The Unites States could take some lessons from Canada. Going green is just one of them. The other major one is how British Columbia tries to save historical buildings – or at least their facades and architecture – even if they will be renovated for use other than what was originally intended. I understand how a sleek modern building may be the desirous effect of the moment, the beauty and history of the old is far more interesting to me. And I think by discarding them, we do our younger generations a disservice and rob them of the importance of our past. That is just this Gdovin Girl’s perspective.
This old Catholic church in BC was restored and has been used as an art gallery.
The Empress Hotel in 1908 and then today.
Late lunch at the White Spot in the Victoria Airport before winging our way to Calgary. Jeffry and Kerri met us with a rental car and the GPS loaded for our drive to Red Deer, Alberta – Kerri’s hometown, and then to our Airbnb for a week. Of course the little ones were very excited to get hugs from mommy and daddy and jabbered about their adventures and the plans for upcoming family get-togethers as we navigated our way to Red Deer.
Today is another pancake breakfast day with ham and fruit. Energy for our daily Inner Harbor excursion and our boat tour.
From the moment you step aboard, you’ll be greeted by the salty ocean breeze and the friendliest folks you’ll ever meet. Victoria Harbour Ferry has been connecting locals and visitors to the city’s waterfront neighbourhoods, parks and communities for almost 30 years. Our experienced captains are known for their love of the ocean, passion for storytelling, and unrivaled safety records. Join us on the water and see why our boats are the happiest little boats in the harbour!
Both kids listened intently to our Captain’s facts and interesting stories. He was a charming, unassuming guy. Actually is also a commercial airline pilot by trade – but enjoys this more. He made sure to mix in some humorous tales along the way. Sad to hear that even Victoria has a homelessness problem; and people who are down on their luck will find old discarded boats and try to live on them. Every couple of months, the government sweeps in and scoops up what they call the “derelict” boats and hauls them away; I would imagine with belongings the inhabitants have collected. In Tucson, we have homeless people in the parks – in Victoria, the homeless people are in the water.
The tour boats, unlike the little water taxis (called pickle boats because they resemble the shape of a pickle!) are all electric. Very quiet and no fuel smell – an easy relaxing ride. Maybe a bit too relaxing for Abby as I think she wanted to nap a bit. Got to see the float homes again and learn about the shipyards and the large ferries to the United States and to Vancouver. And because the tour boats are electric, they are 100% pollution free!
Your guide will share the rich history of Coast Salish peoples who have lived on the land for over 4,000 years. Discover the politics, culture, and everyday life of the early Victorian residents. Learn how the Gorge was nearly destroyed by decades of industrial pollution and about the extensive restoration efforts to return the fragile ecosystems to its natural splendor.
With only 10 seats per sailing, this intimate tour will get you up close and personal with some of our favourite things— ocean views, marine life, and history. And you can see it all safe in the knowledge that our eco-friendly, zero-omission electric ferries will preserve the environment for future generations to enjoy.
After a late lunch, we walked downtown to the Rexall Drug Store (yes, they have them here…however, no soda fountains with cherry cokes!) to get some Tums to calm Abby’s sensitive tummy. The kids went crazy. I guess we don’t really have many standalone “drugstores” anymore, so the whole thing was a novelty! Little things sometimes bring great pleasure. Waiting for our taxi, Abby spies a Ladybug, to which she exclaimed “Maxwell, there are Ladybugs in CANADA!”
Home for our last night in Victoria.
A light dinner.
Packing and picking up.
The day began with a light drizzle, so we decided that the Hop On and Hop Off Gray Line tour bus would be a good option for today. Our tour began in front of the Empress. The kids were thrilled when they got to scurry to the upper level to the very front of the gigantic window to view absolutely everything in sight!
The tour guide told us all about the Hudson Bay Company and Butchart Gardens and the Johnson Street Bridge and lots more.
The drizzle slowly turned into a somewhat heavy rainstorm. The children were not deterred in their enthusiasm. They still found fun things to look at and things that made them giggle and while driving through Chinatown, a bright yellow-orange Asian paper umbrella to which Abby exclaimed … “Nana! Mahmaw has an umbrella exactly like that.” She was quite tickled over that fact.
But the pièce de résistance and the be all to end all, was when the rain dried up and we hopped off to spend an hour at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm. Our first stop was the bird sanctuary to see the tiny Zebra Finch and the apricot color tiny Canary. I am not a fan of larger birds and filthy doves/pigeons/seagulls. But these tiny little Aves are simply adorable.
The peacocks were gorgeous in their electric blue. The ducks were quacking their heads off. The llamas were funny. The miniature horses and mule were sweet. The Guinea pigs and the bunnies were a little smelly, but too cute.
But the very best part of the visit was the baby goats. Once the kids discovered that the goats would jump on their back if they got down on all fours, all you could hear was hearty laughter and little girl giggles. Both Max and Abby thought this was the best thing ever and the baby goats certainly enjoyed their cooperation. I had to keep a sharp eye out as the kids (goat kids – not grand kids) would go after a corner of a jacket (wanting to eat the fabric) or scratch with one leg the back of Maxwell’s jacket so hard, that I thought there would be shreds had I not stopped it. Both kids and kids enjoyed the experience and Abby hasn’t stopped talking about the baby goats.
After our baby goat time, we hopped back on the tour bus and passed by several other landmarks before ending up at Frankie’s Modern Diner on Government Street and enjoying some dinner. We meandered through a couple of stores downtown and, before making our way back to our home away from home, the kids took time to pose with the friendly hosts of Canada.
Max and Abby took showers and got freshly shampooed before donning their very cute matching pj’s we found at a local shop. And now they are just as adorable as the baby goats!
(this touching photography session was shortly followed by “OUCH! ABBY SCRATCHED ME AND SHE DID IT ON PURPOSE!” and then a quick response in a light small voice “you okay mama? you okay? want me to kiss it, mama? you okay??”)
The day was November 26th 1988 – the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Mom, Dad and Grandma Tabor had the motorhome packed with their travel belongings after a few days of visiting and enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with them and my special “little sister” guest, Leisa. We had managed to fit in a huge holiday feast; the requisite shopping on Friday after, and of course, several rounds of Bingo at Papago Bingo. I had stuffed the traveling refrig with container after container of Thanksgiving leftovers. This was a special one as I had never known my mother to leave her home for that particular holiday. This was the first and only one in my life. One year she was sequestered on a murder trial as a jurist, and the judge had ordered the jury dismissed just for that day and they had to return to sequestration Thanksgiving night. Mom had made a detailed list of everything I needed to buy a week prior to the holiday with detailed instructions on how to prepare what and how and when – like I didn’t already know after being her right hand gal since the age of 10. Even on a several week jury trial, she still insisted that the family dinner would be held on North 18th Street, and no amount of reasoning was going to change her mind. And so it was. So, I was quite surprised when she called and said they were coming for Thanksgiving. Mom had suffered a bad bout of the flu in several weeks prior and I thought maybe she was just worn out. So, I didn’t question it. I was excited to host Thanksgiving at my house in Tucson. Of course she insisted that everything would be just as though we were in Grand Junction. She would do all of the cooking and baking. Gram was in charge of peeling 10 pounds of potatoes and I was charged with setting and decorating the table. I didn’t give a second thought to Mom’s comments here and there. “I do not ever want to die in Tucson.” When I said what an odd thing to say, she explained that we had that doctor here who transplanted hearts. And what if he took hers out and replaced it with someone who was mean? Would those unprincipled traits be transferred to her? I kind of just shrugged it off with a smile. We were sitting in the living room relaxing one afternoon, watching an old rerun of Designing Women where the ladies had designed a New Orleans style send off for a young friend who had died of Aids. Mom stated that she wanted her funeral to be like that with upbeat music and lots of flowers. Maybe I should have paid more attention.
After a nice breakfast at Coco’s, the three musketeers were on their way home. I didn’t envy them. The drive from Tucson to Grand unction is almost unbearable for me; hours of dry dusty desert with no cell or radio reception. It is, nicely put, miserable. They didn’t seem to mind. As long as Mom was in her motorhome, she was good. Cristopher was out with friends. Ricky was at a U of A game enjoying his time with friends in the kids Knothole Section. Bob and I were set to enjoy a movie night out with 4 year old Jeffry in tow. As the movie time slowly approached, Bob reminded me that we needed to get on our way. But, I felt uneasy and did not want to leave the house that night. When I relayed that to my husband, he just nodded okay and went about his evening. He was used to me changing my mind so nothing unusual about that.
If memory serves, it was around 7 in the early evening when the phone begin to ring. It was still in the time where the phone hung on the wall. Bob held the phone out saying it was my dad and if they had car problems, I was to find out where they were and he would be on his way. Before I put the phone to my ear, I quietly said to Bob “honey, my Mom is dead,” He just looked at me, admonishing me with his stare about the inappropriateness of making such a comment. As I lifted the phone to my hear, I could hear my Dad’s voice saying “Mom’s gone”.
I felt the tears as Daddy explained the chain of events leading up to this call. And then the blur of the night began. Laundry had to be done for five people making the 780 mile trek to western Colorado; arrangements had to be made for Jeffry to stay with my Tucson friend, Peggy for a week. Calls had to be made to my siblings. And in a flurry of tears and questions and travel arrangements, we finally fell into bed after midnight. And then came the long and drawn out sobs as Bob held me tightly until finally exhaustion and sleep took over. And this day was over.
My Mom was gone.