Camp Nana

Ginny is making her way to Portland to visit her childhood friends and family, so Camp Nana was done one person. And her smiling face was missed.

Max and Abby began the day by making their own wind chimes. We used mini pie tins (thanks, Pat) from a family dinner dessert, as the top piece. Holes were poked in the tin and in the center… a cute old bell. Hollow little tubes were added and various accouterments such as old keys and some moon charms until the chimes were just right in sound and sight.

Unfortunately, I did not think to snap a photo while we were working on them, Kerri did get a couple photo of the chimes which found a new home from the eave of their patio cover.

We barely had time to run a couple of rehearsals for our end of summer program (cloaked in secrecy as always) until the kids had to leave for karate. But, before our time was up, we managed to conjure up a very tasty lemon supreme cake topped with the family favorite French white icing for Max and Abby to contribute to their dinner time.

Camp Nana

Since Camp Nana always runs in June – we began this camp day making Father’s Day Cards. They had different color cards to choose from. Changing their painted hands into little monsters – came out so good! When Nolan arrived with mommy to pick up Ginny for gymnastics, we used his little foot to make the monster. All 4 little monsters were just as cute as their contributors. They added some of their own artistic touches with drawings and words, as well as make good use of googly eyeballs and stickers. Very cute.

I made the mistake of asking Max to take a few photos during the day. When I downloaded them, this is what I got.

The kids then enjoyed a game of Scrabble Junior, and had lots of fun learning the new rules. Every family should play board games again!

Swim Meets

I really do enjoy the swim meets  There’s something about the smell of sunscreen and pizza and hot dogs.  Brightly colored canopies and sun shelters dot the area, housing swimmers playing card games and snacking on strawberries and cucumber slices.  Giggles are abundant and amidst all of the chaos, relays and medleys kick off the evening activities.  Jeffry and Kerri always put in more than their required volunteer time – Jeffry manning the concession stand at home meets as a fundraiser for the Indian Ridge Swim Team.  Kerri is on her feet for three and four hours at a time, donning an old favorite hat of her late father in law, and rounding up six to ten year old kids of every size and shape and color, all in navy blue swim attire,  and lining them up for their events.

The afternoons are hot.  The atmosphere is hectic.  The announcements and the kids are loud.  And it is 100% fulfilling.  It lifts my soul, no matter how tired and sweaty I feel.

Camp Nana 2019 Ready, Set, GO!

The three campers (known as Nana’s Camp Squad) all have many summer activities this year.  We are squeezing in mini-camp sessions as we navigate through swimming, gymnastics, dance, karate and summer travel.  And today was our kick-off with a morning movie of HOP at our new favorite Galaxy Luxury Theater on the far east side of town.

EB’s destiny was to take over the role of the Easter Bunny, as had been his father’s and his father’s before him.  But his heart was set on becoming a drummer instead. And I have to admit, he was darned good at it!  In fact, the most enjoyable parts of this movie for me, were the drumming scenes.  Image result for hop the movie EB drumming with the blind singers

The campers were invited to bring their own bunnies along to enjoy the movie with us.  Ginny and Abby stuck their bunny’s butts in the cup holders and would every once in a while “feed” the bunnies a kernel of popcorn or a skittles candy.

(Max had his bunny, Chocolate,  in a “sleeping bag” while Abby’s bunny, Strawberry, and Ginny’s namesake bunny, Ginny, were more of the come as you are dress code.)  Once in a while, Ginny would lean over and give me a short explanation of why the mouse did this or the chick did that.  It made for a very sweet and enjoyable morning.

Ginny was off to gymnastics with mommy and baby brother, so Max and Abby and I headed over to McDonalds to get some energy expended and a few calories under our belts. 

The Pima County Public Libraries are all giving away one free book to any teen or child stopping by this week, to encourage summer reading.  Max and Abby need no encouragement as they have their noses in a book often; but hey, who doesn’t love a free book?  They perused the books and made their choices and began reading their new material while walking out of the library door.  I had to remind them that reading while walking could be dangerous!  They took a minute to strike a library pose before departing the area.

Home for some quiet time and a game of Uno Attack while I gear up for a fun project on another Camp Nana day!


Day 15: Vacation – Last day in Firenze

A bit of a leisurely morning before we hopped back on the tour bus to finish the tour that we got sidetracked on the day prior.  I mean, we saw stores and boutiques and gelato and stuff … lots and lots of glorious stuff.  Hmmm … anyway, we got back on the bus.

It was a cooler day with drizzle, so we had every intention of just staying aboard for the entire tour.   However, we came to a sweet little stop on the tour – Piazza Mino da Fiesole, in the beautiful village of Fiesole.  Fiesole  is a metropolitan city in the Tuscany region, Italy. A favorite destination of many writers who have been attracted to Fiesole including Giovanni Boccaccio, John Milton, Percy Shelley, Alexandre Dumas, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and Gertrude Stein. Fiesole was also a favorite place of Leonardo da Vinci who, reportedly, experimented with attempts at flight off its hills.  (the Los Angeles Times)

Fiesole has become the go-to area to live of the very affluent of Italy.  It is known for grand gardens and exquisite residences.   This little gem is on the market for 20 million Euros.  Today that is only $22,334,880. USD.  A Bargain!


We took a few moments to enjoy a traditional Toscana lunch of burger and homemade chips.  We were ready for that after 14 days – trust me!

Afterwards, we wanted to see more of the beautiful countryside, but the rain was drizzling and the wind was blowing really cold,   We got a couple of shots of the clock tower of the Cathedral of Fiesole (Il Duomo),  and the town.  There are very few shops – maybe a couple cafes – not much more, other than the stunning gardens and homes.

Took a catnap on the bus ride “home” and spent time packing and doing laundry and getting ready to take the train to Rome in the morning.

DAYS 12 – 15 VACATION: FIRENZE – continued

Our 14th vacation day!  We decided on the Hop On – Hop Off tour bus option, where we get on and off at 30 different points of interest.  It turned out to be the perfect thing to do.  Image result for Firenze hon on hop off bus

First stop – Piazzale Michelangelo.  Beautiful panoramic views,  replica of David and souvenir shopping for family.  Listed as one of the best places to see Florence from above, it is “not just a perfect photo opportunity, but a moment of wonder. You are looking at the city that gave birth to incredible artists, amazing scientists and an enthralling history of discovery and power that has filled novels and movie theaters“.  It certainly did not disappoint.  Absolutely took my breath away.






Hopped back on the tour bus after a few hours and hopped off at the beginning of the bridge to begin the long walk to the Ponte Vecchio. “Built very close to the Roman crossing, the Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218. The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345. During World War II it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. Instead they blocked access by demolishing the medieval buildings on each side. On November 4, 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood the tremendous weight of water and silt when the Arno once again burst its banks.”  The history is rich, but let us not ignore the world class shopping!  And, thank goodness, because since we bought so many family gifts, we had to stop in a luggage shop and buy two more suitcases to carry them all home.

After perusing and purchasing our way through several blocks in the shopping district, we found the best gelato in the entire wide world … probably. 

Half salted caramel and the other half the darkest chocolate ever known to man – er – woman.   Then, the long walk over the bridge and down to the tour bus stop, wheeling our newly purchased luggage behind us.  We were stopped before we could take one step to board the tour bus, “Nessun bagaglio è permesso sull’autobus.  Devi aspettare l’autobus della città.”  We could not bring the luggage on to the tour bus.  We needed to await the city bus.  And, so we did.

Barely had enough energy to walk from the bus stop to our home base.  Joyfully exhausted.

Days 12 – 15 Vacation: Firenze!

“Sure, Florence is touristy. But where else can you stroll the same pedestrian streets walked by Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Botticelli while savoring the world’s best gelato?” – unknown source

If Tuscany is the quiet diva of Italy, then Firenze is most certainly the diamond! A brilliant way to end a vacation in Italy. Florence. Firenze to the locals. A mesmerizing bouquet of art, architecture and rich history. Words, pictures – nothing can do this city justice. You have to experience it with your own eyes and heart. And four days was not even a speck of enough time to appreciate this diamond.

Day 12: Our first evening was spent waiting for the owner of the rental property to arrive (almost an hour late) and then listening to her go over each and every nuance of the apartment in the greatest of detail … “this is a butter knife … this is a cake knife …) She allotted us ONE roll of toilet paper for four days; 2 tiny trash can liners for a tiny trash receptacle and two dishwashing tablets. Kind of funny now. But then – not so much.

our little neighborhood for 4 days …

DAY 13: The following day we venture out from the little apartment (also Ikea-ized) and found a neighborhood restaurant – gorgeous inside and fun to listen and watch the locals there for lunch, sharing long tables and sitting family style. Ristorante Alla Vecchia Bettola Firenze.

highly recommend

Then we decide to search out the Boboli Gardens, a park in Florence, Italy, that is home to a collection of sculptures dating from the 16th through the 18th centuries, with some Roman antiquities.  We walked and walked and walked some more. Making our way past a tall and winding stone wall – sure that the next turn would be an opening to the gardens. ‘Til we came upon this beauty – Piazzale di Porta Romana.

Note: A plaque on the external wall claims the gate was erected in 1327. Originally and as demonstrated on the 1584 Map by Stefano Buonsignori the gate had a lower outer wall with a small courtyard dominated by the larger gate we see today. And through that entrance is residential mixed with retail. And it is just this kind of place that makes my heart flutter! ! This is where, walking through that ancient gate, you leave the modern Florence and enter historic Firenze.

After absorbing the sounds and sights of this beauty, we made a run to the local grocery store and then “home” to make dinner and relax with a little sister time. Exhaustion has indeed set in!

  • to be continued …