all rolled up into one

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.

(enjoying some lunch while she listens to the teacher reading)

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/

a garden for fairies and a little girl’s imagination

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.

Well done, my little fairy Granddaughter. Well done, indeed.
And the fairies and fairy mermaids will live Happily Ever After.

The End.

CAMP NANA 2020

At first, I was thinking we would have a remote Camp Nana. There is only going to be a few more years (if that) left of this tradition and I was really hoping the pandemic would not spoil yet another family event. Since the grand kids had been mostly quarantined and I had most definitely been mostly quarantined for the prior 2 plus months, we decided that we could hold Camp Nana at my home with no field trips. Never mind that. We have plenty of fun things to do. We have a clubhouse. We have a kitchen and plenty of crafting supplies. We have Pinterest. And we mostly have the imaginations of a 10, 7 and 5 year old. What else do we need?

So, the invitations went out in 4 little bags with a new Camp Shirt on their front doors. And here we are. 4 kids ages 10 to 1 – ready to be entertained. Max’s first responsibility as a Junior Counselor (yes – he has been promoted!) was to take everyone’s temperature. He was very good about cleaning the thermometer after each reading. He is growing up way too fast!

We also began rehearsals on our end of camp performance which I cannot disclose as we keep it super secret until the big day on which the parents and grand parents already have a good idea because those campers cannot keep a secret! Nonetheless, we pretend like it is still a secret.

A few photos from some of our first camp days activities…

They made a cover for their journal to write notes about each camp day. They painted and waited for the covers to dry before decorating. Nana laminated the covers when finished.

Time for the Junior Counselor to present story time while Nana prepared a light lunch for the campers. Ginny brought some books to share for the first camp day.

LUNCH TIME!

After lunch, Nolan left camp for a well deserved nap in his own bed, while the other three campers designed and wrote Thank You cards to some first responders and essential workers.

Time for a bit of baking. I had not really prepared for this, so we ended up using prepared cookie dough and made enough chocolate chip cookies to snack on and send home with the campers.

Afterwards we practiced our super secret performance and I think we are off to a good start!

To wind down the busy day, we took in a bit of Boss Baby. Listening to the kids laugh always make my day!

in spite of stay home & stay safe

I still managed to be productive! Slashing through my accounting duties and lowering the pile of paperwork. But accounting is not enough to sustain, so, periodically, I sneak away from my desk and actually do other things!

Like build a long planter and plant a tombstone rose (Home Depot delivers supplies and I bought the rose plant on Etsy!). And build a corner planter in the backyard and plant another Tombstone Rose. Still have to fill it in and paint it. Thanks, Etsy!!

Talk a walk and trim up the hubby’s memorial tree.

Always a good feeling when your clothes closet is in good order. A bit of re-arranging and a floor rack on rollers from Amazon to hold 19 pairs of sandals and shoes does the trick. Yep – all of my blouses on the top rack are in order of color – light to dark

Gave out the “not this year” Easter party eggs originally for the egg hunt, to 6 different families to share or hunt or just open! And then I got a surprise gift! Thank you LeAna! If I ever get to go anywhere again, I have the perfect outfit to wear it with. Love it, but more importantly, the sentiment and thoughtfulness.

Tried on my new mask custom made by sister, Robyn. Attempted a bacon wrapped meatloaf (it will be better the next time – I think I have perfected it now!). Changed my blog design and still have some work to do on that! And scored big time with the world’s skinniest laundry hamper at just over 7 inches for the tiny laundry room in the tiny home. Easter decorations went back into storage bins. Reluctantly.

Participated in the Family Zoom meeting that Jeffry set up as a regular weekly event!

Almost finished a custom ordered lamp shade for lady’s black and white butterfly themed office/craft room.

And to top it all off, a surprise package from Isabel, Alexander & Victoria filled with Russell Stover DARK chocolate eggs and three hand-crafted cards. Pure Heaven!

Not a bad couple of weeks. Not bad at all.

a Faerie Tale come to Life

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.

Welcome to
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!

the Hungry Caterpillar
a proper tea for the young fairies

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!

and now she is 7

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

it is late

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.

trunk or treating

the gloves are off

  1. used to express the notion that something will be done in an uncompromising or brutal way, without compunction or hesitation.

go to the mattresses

  1. to enter into or prepare for a lengthy war, battle, or conflict; to adopt a combative or warlike position.

gobsmacked

  1. so surprised that they cannot speak

So, last night was the second year that I opened my trunk (and yes – my heart) to the West Coast Karate annual Trunk or Treat.

The trunk was decorated with black lace and glittery purple and tiny green lights. There was a huge tub filled with over 100 goodie bags and 100 brightly lit glow sticks on strings to wear around the neck. I even wore a hat, for the love of Pete (whoever Pete is)! The crowds of kids began to ascend and there were lots of oohs and aahs over the decor. Jeffry was busy snapping glow sticks and taking orders of what color Cinderella wanted and making sure the Ninja Turtle got a green one, when something caught my eye.

What was this? Every kid with freshly made cotton candy on a cardboard cone. Just like at the circus or a carnival. WHAT?!? As I gaze across the parking lot I see a laser show in purple on the building wall dancing to the music of the Monster Mash. Why, it really was a graveyard smash! And Picachu dancing around and handing out Pokemon cards. This was not a trunk or treat! This was a really big display of awesomeness. What ingenuity. What creativity. What betrayal! I mean, after all, these tiny green fairy lights set me back 14.99 (free shipping!) and I spent 2 evenings stuffing each goody bag with 10 different candies (and NOT generics, either) and a tatoo to find it all gone to princesses and ninjas and turtles and jojo in less than 34 minutes. And this guy – this master of trunk or treat imagination – does this. Shameful, I tell ya.

Just you wait Mr. Cotton Candy Laser show Monster Mashing trunk or treat guy. Next year your display will look like a mere speck of a spectacle. I’m thinking a popcorn popper … No. Kids don’t want that when there is a plethora of refined sugars to be had. A hot dog stand with a clown to hand to the mini diners? Nah. Again, no sugar. Snow cones?? Ice cream???

No worries. The possibilities are endless. Wonder if I can find some of those cute miniature doggies that jump through those hoops. Ooh, I know. Pony Rides!! Although, the nature calls aspect may not be one with the walking around and noticeable odors and all. Hmmmm. Just give me a few moments and I will surely come up with something. In the meantime …

maybe next year …

Image result for outrageous trunk or treat displays and activities
live jousting!
Image result for outrageous trunk or treat displays and activities
now what kid could resist candy from a life sized dragon?
Image result for outrageous trunk or treat displays and activities
make a grand entrance?

Or maybe just one of these simple treat displays.
Image result for largest candy displays
Image result for halloween cupcake war display

I had better start planning for this right away! Cotton candy …hrumph!

show my work day

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!

it’s that time again!

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!

up, up and away

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.

Abby asked for two small pancakes for breakfast. So, I made her some!

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.

happy boats!

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.

Abby reads the brochure.

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.

Vhf Logo Harbour Tours Cmyk

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.

G’night.

RaiNy dAy adVentUreS …

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.

Why do goats like standing on things?
One reason is that goats are prey animals and it’s wired into them to get to the highest point to watch for predators. … It is best to keep any structures such as goat houses away from your pasture fence because goats will climb on top of those and make their escape if they can.

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??”)

Nana’s treasures.

a Wee Little Adventure

After a pancake breakfast (why, yes. I did make the kids pancakes today) we begin our day – where else – the Inner Harbor. Can’t hardly begin the day without having a glimpse of the boats in the Harbor and breathing in the sea air. You just can’t!

and then … The Fairmont Empress began her story as Victoria, British Columbia’s, most iconic hotel on January 20, 1908. Famed architect Francis Rattenbury was commissioned to design the hotel after his success in designing the new legislative buildings in the relatively new Canadian province of British Columbia. Fairmont Empress was meant to serve business people and tourists, but after the Canadian Pacific Railway discontinued service to the area, it was successfully marketed as a resort.

A star from her beginning, Fairmont Empress did not have a sign over the front entrance. When a sign was finally raised, one irate Victorian uttered the phrase, “Anyone who doesn’t know this is the Empress shouldn’t be staying here.” However, it would appear many did know and appreciate the Empress. Edward, Prince of Wales, danced in the Crystal Ballroom in 1919 with many local ladies, whose obituaries mentioned that night over 50 years after it happened. When reigning royals King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Victoria for the first time, they stayed at the Fairmont Empress. Over the years, HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, stayed at the hotel as well.

Celebrities came to the hotel in droves. Stars like Rita Hayworth, Jack Benny, Roger Moore, Katharine Hepburn, John Travolta, Barbra Streisand, and Harrison Ford have passed through the Fairmont Empress’ lobby. Shirley Temple came to stay in the 1930s after rumored threats of kidnapping. Her bodyguards stayed in the room across from hers and always kept their doors open.

By 1965, the hotel had fallen on hard times; it was faded and dowdy, leaving officials to debate on whether or not the Fairmont Empress should be torn down to make room for something more modern. Thankfully, it was decided that the loss of the Empress was far too great. Instead, there was a $4 million renovation and refurbishment, the first of many. In 1989, $45 million was spent in what was dubbed the “Royal Restoration,” which was also when the indoor pool, health club, and guest reception were added. In the midst of this restoration, it was discovered that the beautiful, Tiffany-style stained glass that makes up the roof of the Palm Court had been covered by wood. To this day, guests can now enjoy sparkling light on the shining marble floors during weddings and other special events. In the 1990s, the Willow Stream Spa was added and became Victoria’s most award winning spa to date.

Image result for palm court window at Empress

Another must have photo in front of the iconic Empress.
Room rates range from $526 to $960 Canadian per night.
Related image

Behind the hotel grounds and down the block, is the Miniature World – which is exactly what it says. Looking at the entrance gives you the impression that you will be in and out in ten minutes – but looks can be deceiving! Room upon room takes you through history in tiny form. From the destruction of the war in Germany …

Buttons are on almost every display making trains travel, propellers spin, chandeliers glow, farmers plow, hoods on classic cars raise and lower and everything imaginable (or unimaginable) to make the entire experience unforgettable. Difficult to get good photos through the glass. You must really experience it in person.









Back to the Inner Harbor to lunch at MILESTONES. Yummy! Kids got free ice cream sandwiches (minis) from our waiter.

Welcome to Victoria in floral glory!

Always some “Buskers” (street entertainers) in the Harbor. For many, this is their way of earning a living. They love the work, but I imagine it can be very physically and mentally challenging.

always something to see at the Harbor.

Victoria plays host to the “Buskers Festival” in July. Lots of street entertainment downtown as well all week long.

Head downtown for five days for live entertainment featuring local and international comedians, contortionists, magicians, musicians, and much more.

  • Four stages: Ship Point, Bastion Square, Market Square, and Centennial Square
  • An outdoor beer garden at Ship Point
  • A dozen performance artists
  • Five days of free all-ages fun
  • With laughter by day and excitement by night, the Downtown Victoria Buskers Festival showcases quirky, funny, and sublime international talent.

“Home” after a long and busy day to pork chops, broccoli and warm biscuits! More fun tomorrow.

a Day to Explore

Since we got to bed so late last night (or so early this morning – which ever way you want to look at it) we got a bit of a late start to the day. But, we are on vacation and have no timetable or schedule and are just free to be!

Image result for 29 Songhees Road in Victoria, BC.

We leave our condo and prepare for adventure. Walking from the residence and through some beautifully landscaped areas, it seems as though everything parts and makes way for the Johnson Street Bridge; where we can gaze at part of the harbor. Amazing to see the tiny boats as well as the tallest of the sailboats.

It is a wondrous site and bittersweet memories flood my mind and heart as I remember my first visit here with my hubs thirteen years ago. Bob and I were in the midst of a terrible family crisis. This was one we could not face at the time. Our strength had been tested in ways we would have never thought possible. We “ran away” to Victoria to be by ourselves. It was a great comfort being in a place where we would never come face to face with anyone that we knew. Walking the Inner Harbor every morning to the downtown area or just to watch the street entertainers helped us to forget what we had to face when we returned. We were in a magical land and for just a couple of weeks, we had no fear or worries. It was just us. And we clung to each other certain in the fact that whatever happened, we always had each other. That is the way our marriage began and that is the way our marriage ended with Bob’s death.

I have to blink away the tears several times until I hear Maxwell tell Abby that I am remembering being here with Poppa. Then I have to laugh at the innocence of a 6 year old little girl … “oh yeah. You came here with dead Poppa, right, Nana?” Pulls me right back into the current and makes me laugh – knowing Bob would think that the funniest thing ever. I can hear his laugh now.

We venture over the new replacement Johnson Street bridge and ooh and aah at the mechanisms that will lift this bridge, effortlessly allowing tall ships to sail through. It certainly is an engineering marvel. At night, it is lit in a beautiful blue as a reminder of the powder blue bridge it replaced.

Image result for Johnson st bridge at night

Our first stop was to get some food in the kids’ tummies. We found a cute little place called Picnic- a coffee house with locally sourced cafe items. The kids liked it and I especially liked the Portuguese style bun!

And now, we were off. We needed to get a few groceries for the Airbnb, but before that, we explored the Inner Harbor. Now, you cannot explore the Inner Harbor without going to Wharf Street and you certainly cannot visit Wharf Street without having your photo taken at the CANADA sign!

Now that we have that out of the way, we see a small closed trailer in bright red. A young lady is standing near the steps and asks us if we would like to see a free 3 minute play. She explains that she and her entertainment partner, students at the University, travel around doing these little 3 minute plays, but also teaches school children the art of acting. We enter the small trailer and to my surprise, there are a few theater style seats from times gone by and a little stage with the requisite heavy drapery. Max and Abby think this is quite a treat, so we all take our seats. A cute mini-play begins and near the end, one of the young ladies says she needs a volunteer to help rescue the other lady. Up shoots Maxwell’s hand and before you know it, he is standing on the stairs outside of the trailer and within a minute is hailed as the hero. Quite an entertaining few moments! And such a novel idea.

These are the little things that Bob and I found so endearing about Victoria. A bit quirky. A Little relaxing. And a whole lot of fun. I think that if Portland and Austin had a baby, she would be Victoria BC.

We take our remaining time to walk around and watch the boats and observe the life here. Then, we board the water taxi to get back to our side of the harbor and are on our way to the Country Grocer and home for dinner and relaxing time. Well, as relaxing as you can get with Teen Titans!

On our way …

to beautiful Victoria BC. Jeffry and Kerri are driving Max and Abby and I to Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. This evening, the grand kids and I will board Alaska Airlines (upgraded seats) to make our way to Seattle and eventually to Victoria – the cutest gem of a city that I have ever laid eyes on. After kisses and hugs and “see you in 5 days”, we checked our luggage and ventured into the general boarding screening area. The kids do not have known traveler numbers, so in the general line we went. Everything was smooth until the man said “all food items must be out of the bags and into one of the bins”. I thought, ‘no problem’ since I packed the snacks in a little lunch box and just placed it in the bin. All of the sudden, Maxwell was in a panic – going through his backpack pulling out 3 Starburst and a couple other small items. Crisis averted!

The kids were treated to a kid’s snack box with a turkey sausage stick, applesauce, cheese crackers, popcorn and a mini chocolate bar and of course apple juice and sprite. Happy Campers!! Thanks, Alaska Airlines! On the descent into Seattle, we watched fireworks shows all over the city from above. Believe it or not, the displays are not nearly as amazing from above as they are looking up at them. A new experience.

The transfer in Seattle was rushed, to say the least. After getting off the first plane, we had 20 minutes before we boarded the second one. Normally, not so much to worry about. However, we landed at one terminal and our next gate was C10D. Excuse me? Okay then – we find the train to take passengers to GATES B C D. That is what it said right there on the little red letters above the train. So there we await the little train to take us to our gate. We board the train. The doors close. And then a voice comes over the loudspeaker … “this train will not stop at gate C. To get to gate C, disembark at gate D and walk to gate C”. Well, now that was fun with all 3 of us – me with back issues and two children sleepy at 11 pm – scurrying in and out of crowds of people to get to our gate just as they called our group. We made it. Got settled in our upgraded-but-you-couldn’t-tell-it-was-an-upgrade seats and settled in for a quick flight to land in Victoria. Had no time to pick up a cute night shirt in the Seattle Airport that said “Sleepless in Seattle” and that is one of my favorite movies of all time!! (“hello, Howard!”)

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Got to the Airbnb around 1:45 am.. The kids were both now alert and ready to explore the little condo…”look how these light switches work… the toilet lid closes by itself like ours … hey, I have dibs on the pull out sofa …”

By the time we got settled in and faces washed and teeth brushed, it was close to 2:30 a.m. and all three of us were exhausted and sleep came ever so easy. (shhhhh. more tomorrow)

Camp Nana

Ginny is making her way to Portland to visit her childhood friends and family, so Camp Nana was down 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.

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!

 

my 2018

Besides my accounting business, making custom lamp shades & junk journals, there has been time spent with grandchildren & family & friends. Emails, Facebook & Skype have become the way of staying in touch.  A beautiful Tucson spring brought my Annual Easter celebration.  I enjoyed the company of family, extended family & friends and the photo booth area with the obligatory bunny ears & lots of food & drink.  A face painter joined the party – a huge hit with the younger ones.  For Mother’s Day, and in the company of the Mundle ladies, I enjoyed a day of pampering, courtesy of Jeffry at the most gorgeous resort & spa.  A week later, I finally got my cast off my leg after 7 long months of weekly visits to  the wound clinic.  In no time, it was Summer, and I hosted Camp Nana for Max,  Abby & their cousin, Ginny.  We planted veggies (which didn’t survive the Tucson heat), painted ladybugs on rocks & rehearsed for our Camp Finale.  In a few days, I will join the Mundles & more for Thanksgiving dinner. In December,  after a family trip to the North Pole (well, sort of), the 5 Arizona Gardners will join the 3 Virginia Gardners for a family Christmas in Leesburg.

It has been three years now of living on my own.  It is a strange place – this land of widowhood.  But, with the love and support of friends & family, I put one foot in front of another & take life head on,  one day at a time.   I will never get used to not being “us”, but I enjoy what I have now, looking toward 2019 & a spring vacation in Italy with my sister and other adventures that may come my way.