I miss you, Bob

Alex made a little card one autumn day in 2021. On the front, he drew a man with glasses and a cane. A tissue paper flower was perched atop the card and below was written Grandpa Bob.

On the back of the card was the childlike penmanship of an 8 year old pouring out the thoughts of a poet, far beyond that of a child.

It read:

You died when I was just toddler. I knew you were sick, but I thought you had time. I should have savored those moments, for I would never experience that again.

(followed with a small drawing of a broken heart)

I miss you, Bob…

And such were the thoughts on the mind of a child who had only lived a scant eight years at that time. I cherish this little card. Alex is nine now (almost 10 as I would be corrected!). Just imagine what Alex will have to say in 10 years.

You have tears in your eyes right now – don’t you, honey?

Every Day


I had a canvas of this print made a few years ago. I must have hundreds of photos almost the same. The look you had listening to the musings of one of the kids or grandkids. The look on your face just before the laugh out loud. Beautiful blue eyes with the twinkle under the thick light brown lashes. Your eyes never faded – even in the last days.

I often look up at the canvas when I hear a funny musing that I know you would enjoy or when I feel the intensity of that damn Blacklist tv show you got me hooked on. And every night before sleep, I see that canvas – that look – and I think my heart will just burst open from the pain. Knowing I have faced another day without you here with me is difficult. Knowing that I have to do it all over again the next morning is sometimes just too damn hard to bear. But that is what I do. I know it is what you want me to do – to face life head on just as you always did. And I try.

Every night.

Every morning.

Every day.

You have the biggest piece of my heart and soul. You always will. And I will keep trying to make you proud.

I love you.

it would have been

50 years.

It was difficult to imagine as two teenagers entering into adulthood and parenthood. As the years began to number in the double digits, it seemed more possible.

Our 2nd anniversary was celebrated with an evening drive thru Estes Park and a candlelight dinner at the Greenbriar near Boulder. The forest was a mere 30 miles from our apartment in Longmont and made for a beautiful detour. Another 40 miles to the Greenbriar Inn, nestled at the foot of the mountains. We were dressed as though we were headed to prom, and the staff seemed to enjoy pampering these two young marrieds with chateaubriand and baked Alaska served by vested waiters. We were out on the town with an 18 month old at home. So we did what most couples with kids do when they have the opportunity to dash from the normalcy of real life and into a special night of celebration – we talked about baby Cristopher. Even so, it was magical. So perfect.

We always thought we would return to celebrate other anniversaries.

We never did. Life took us on other adventures.

Bob was scheduled to attend a VW parts manager meeting in Albuquerque on our 5th anniversary. Ricky was only a couple of months old, but Mom took charge – “I think after six kids I am more than qualified to watch two kids, so just GO” – in her own not so unassuming way. On the evening of our actual anniversary, we had dinner at a local hotel restaurant; and I honestly cannot say in which hotel we were booked. But I remember it was a dressy, upscale restaurant with luxurious surroundings, white tablecloths, candlelit table settings; and of course, Bob had five long stemmed roses waiting for me, but this time 3 red and two yellow to represent our two sons. After the soup flambe was served, we enjoyed the light piano and the ambience of the entire evening. Just another of the many anniversaries we would celebrate, leaving us with memories to make us smile.

10 years was a real milestone for us. When you are so young, that seems like a lifetime. Bob had a special brown leather cowboy hat he loved and only wore once in a while – so he could keep it nice. I bought him a handmade hatband of beautiful feathers and a few beads. The colors were just as he liked and he oohed and aahed over the gift as I certainly did my 10 long stemmed red roses. We had a sitter for the evening and made our way to dinner at one of our favorite places – the Feed Lot on 2nd and Main. Their steaks were beyond tender and seasoned perfectly. A pianist was entertaining and a complimentary dessert was served, when they found out we were celebrating our anniversary. During dessert, you surprised me with a tiny box. A ring inside with four perfect diamonds to celebrate our family of four. I went to tears. To this day it is one of my favorite rings and I wear it often. I lost it for a few years. After going thru each pocket and drawer and handbag and wallet more than once, I resigned myself that I must have left it in a purse or piece of clothing that I had donated. After two years of searching and giving up, one day Kerri shows up and holds the ring out. “Is this yours?” It had been in some craft things I had given her a few years earlier and she was just going thru it to see what she could use for the kids or her students, and found my ring. I couldn’t hug her enough. My ring is home.

the ring

Our 20th anniversary was probably the most eventful of all of our 44 anniversaries. My mother’s death on November 26, 1988 hit me hard. I was left with unanswered questions and disturbing nightmares and feeling as though I was in a complete fog and in a dark depression. I returned to church and needed something traditional like St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Grand Junction, as opposed to the “lighter” guitar masses becoming so popular at that time. I chose St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in our adopted home town of Tucson.

St Joseph’s Catholic Church – Tucson AZ

St Augustine’s Cathedral, Tucson Arizona

All of this paved the way for our marriage rededication. So, on Friday, April 5, 1991, we renewed our vows and were married in the Catholic faith at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Tucson, Arizona. Fr. O’Flannigan presided. My father walked me down the aisle this time. Robyn was my Maid of Honor and Cris and Ricky were Bob’s Best Men. I carried a very heavy bouquet of 20 long stemmed roses in ivory cascading down the front of my dress. We had a little party with a few guests back at our home and thoroughly enjoyed the company and conversation. Bob and Cristopher and Ricky selected a gold anniversary band of diamonds for the ceremony, which I cherish. At the party, Bob gifted me an amethyst rosary with a gold cross. That man always had good taste in my jewelry! It was a night to remember.

engagement & anniversary ring

We had many anniversaries. Some big deals. Many quiet with just us. I wanted so many more years with you. But I am so grateful for the years we did have. I would do it all over again, just the way it was. Sweet memories.

We didn’t quite make it to 50 years. You sure tried. And I love you all the more for it.

Happy anniversary, honey.

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.

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!!

Take 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.

my Spring Yard

Ready and waiting for the time that family dinners resume,

Nicholas and Nikki got re-bronzed for the Summer.

The planters are flourishing.

The ground cover between the paving stones is peeking up.

A new loveseat for the backyard. I miss my multi-colored fence slats.

I may have to “colorize” it again.

Lots of room and ready for Family dinner.

best birthday gift ever!

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.

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.


  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!

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!


DAY 1 Vacation

Surprising how quickly 5 a.m. comes when you finally get to sleep around 2 a.m.   What is even more surprising is that I feel awake enough to finish the last-minute packing and alert enough to call Mr. Uber.  The line at Tucson International was hella long – one of my bags was overweight by 1.5 pounds.  Because I am too cheap (and too SANE) to pay $100 overweight fee, I wrestled the plastic protective cover from my huge bag, removing the packing cube which is labeled “BEACH”, wrestled the big bag cover back on the huge piece of luggage and proceeded to go thru the entire routine with the normal sized bag. Placing the packing cube (yes, everything IS in packing cubes and properly labeled BEACH, BOOBIES, BOOTIE, FOOTIES – I think you get the idea) in the normal sized bag only to find that I had to expand that bag and the protective cover would no longer fit;  all the while holding up the very long line.  Yes yes.  I am one of those people – at least for today.

The best laid plans … 

Going thru security was a breeze because I am now a priority one known traveler (courtesy of Homeland Security, 45 minutes of questioning and $75)!  When I got my approval letter in the mail, I kinda felt a little like Steve Martin …

“The new phone book’s here… I’m a somebody now.”

And now ready to board in Phoenix to arrive in Austin just in time for my sister, Robyn to question my choice of taking eight pairs of shoes and my great niece, Alina to entertain me for the evening.  And speaking of which, I find this at the airport!



Followed up by sweet little grand (great?) niece, Alina.


how to spoil your grandkids …

in only 173 steps…well, practically.

Max and Abby are normally at my home a couple of days a week.  They have grown bored with the same old sand table and their outdoor toys were for the younger ones.  I had the brilliant idea of making them a little “clubhouse”.  Shouldn’t be difficult.  After all, I have put together those vinyl sheds before and thought that would be the most durable and affordable way to go.  AmazonSmile.com to the rescue.  Free delivery and they put it right at the front of your garage door.  Easy peasy – right?

Not so fast, my friend.

Picking out the shed was fine.  Then, I got it into my head to buy this base grid to construct the shed on top.  Brilliant!

And after taking great pride on seeing how the entire 8×8 grid looked and just how well the level sat … I realized that the ground was too hard and even if it wasn’t, I had installed the entire grid (wait for it) UPSIDE DOWN!  Back on go the gloves and each grid piece is “unlocked” from another and stacked up for another day.  Back to my accounting work.

It’s Saturday!  I have half a ton of landscape sand being delivered.  One of the hazards of not owning a truck is paying $20 for the sand and $49 for the delivery.  The delivery, I soon discovered, only covered it being dumped on the driveway or curb.  Well, that wasn’t going to fly as I do not own a wheelbarrow not to mention my back issues!  Could you wheel it to the backyard for $50?  Heck ya, they could.  Then, as one guy loaded his own wheelbarrow, I queried of the other, Could you lay a foundation of the sand and then assemble the grid and fill with the rest of the sand?  $100 good?   Oh, hell ya, it was good!

Apparently, I needed to also tell them that it had to be leveled.  Sometimes, just when you think things are going well …

Turns out that being uneven was not the worst of it.  After laying the shed floor over the sand filled uneven grid, walking on the “floor” produced a lovely sound like sandpaper grating against your teeth.  That would aggravate my OCD for years.  So, thinking that the weight of the structure itself would get rid of that problem, I commenced to putting up all the walls by myself.  Not really difficult, but a little heavy and awkward for one person to deal with.  Using my patio lights as my guide around 10 pm, I began construction.  Looked great!  Everything was aligned and fastened together and ready to begin the roofing.

Except for that teeth gritting stomach turning noise was still there.   That grid and sandy base had to go.  Well, Scarlett, tomorrow’s another day.

The next morning I am up and taking the entire thing down to the ground again.  Third time should be (and was) the charm.  The following weekend, my handyman, David to the rescue.  He surmised the situation, trying his best to contain his somewhat judgemental head shaking; made a list and off to Lowe’s he went.  Back a bit later and in a couple of hours built a perfect base of 2×6 lumber and treated plywood.

Yeah, I will admit that another $390 later for lumber, nails, plywood and labor may now seem like the better idea.  So it was level and made no sandy sounds in my teeth and so it only took about 30 minutes to install all the walls (again).  Kind of surprising how much easier that part goes when the base for the structure is level and sturdy.  David worked the next day constructing the roof and inside beams.  Installed the double doors as well as an extra window I bought to give the kiddies more light and ventilation.  Then it was my turn.

They have their art center with color pencils and water-color paint, lots of papers and books to work their designs.  Legos and Barbies.  A clock since their school teaches the kids how to tell time on such a non digital contraption!  They have whiteboards and a rod with clips to hang important artwork and documents (one of which is titled “secret codes”).  A couple of wires to hang artwork needing to dry.  And 4 adorable battery LED lights that hang from the roof beams and turn on and off with the slightest of tugs.

Max and Abby love playing in the clubhouse.  I think it is going to entertain them for at least a couple of years.  And when they tire of it …

SHE shed!

Image result for she shed

remembering July(s) from the past

an all grown up granddaughter comes to Leesburg to say good-bye before we move back to Tucson

weekend visit with a granddaughter

Old Glory

Wedding day for Lori & Jim

Tristan gets a little surprise from Uno Blast

Kerri’s Birthday

Maxwell visits Leesburg

Family get-together

Walking the town center in Leesburg Village

I have no idea what he is doing, but it must have been important!

Look at those little kiddos.

Parade in downtown Leesburg

Parade in downtown Leesburg

Parade in downtown Leesburg

He loved the Inner Harbour in Victoria

Bicycling thru Tucson

Family BBQ in Canada

Happy Fourth of July, everyone.


Week 4 Camp Nana 2018

Today we learned all about Ladybugs.  Who knew they came in other colors besides red?  Some are yellow and others are orange.   The more common Ladybug is red with 7 black dots.  There is even an orange one with white stripes and another orange with white dots!

Did you know that a ladybug lives 2-3 years AND they actually play dead to protect themselves from predators.

After making garden ladybugs out of rocks.  We left them to dry before Nana sprayed them with an outdoor clear sealant.  Now there are three yards with cute little garden critters.

Then we played a game using the letters from LADYBUG,  All three of them came up with answers (sometimes with a bit of help) to:

L – If I were a Ladybug, my favorite place to play would be … (MAX – Lake Kalabonga; ABBY – Lily pad; Ginny – Lawn)

A – My name would be … (Alexander; Abby Jr; Abby)

D – My favorite food would be … (Durrito chips; Daffodil; Daisy)


Y – I would make a friend named … (Yelda Jr; Ybbythd; Yoo Hoo)

B – My friend and I would play … (mini-Basketball;  Bug and Seek;  Baseball)

U – I would hide under this to keep me from the rain … (Umbrella aka mini-leaf; Umbrella; Umbrella)

G – I would travel to … (ground; Grand Canyon; Grandpa’s)

It was such a messy fun day!  Who doesn’t love a cute Lady Bug?

I will trade Pikachu for your Archen …

I noticed a growing phenomenon a couple of years ago when Max joined the Indian Ridge Swim Team.

It seemed that practices and meets were not just about swimming;  and not just about winning. There is a camaraderie among Pokemon collectors who gather at these pools;  so much so that every practice is dotted with Pokemon cards laying on beach towels;  on the concrete and on tables under the ramada.   Everywhere you look –  Pokemon.

I find headlines like

  • Pokemon obsession leads to bans at schools
  • Pokemon expelled
  • Pokemon Craze Challenges Docs | Psychology Today

Oh, my goodness.

I thought it only my duty as a Nana to delve deeper into the details of these strange beings called Pokemon.  So, I listen – and pay attention to the games and the most important activity – trading.  The wheeling and dealing that  goes on is hypnotizing.   These children who couldn’t tell you where they left their socks  that they literally had just taken off  –  have memorized every name of the 807 characters  and what their powers are and any other statistic, for when they need to discuss.  The young traders rattle off names such as Empoleon and Phantump  and Zygarde like they are speaking if John or Sally.

I was told today by a young man to “alert” him to any of the cards that had these numbers; these codes in the right hand corner,  in red.  I asked him to explain the importance of the red writing versus the black writing.   Turns out, there isn’t any significant difference in value (according to him).  He just really, really likes the color red.

It is interesting to watch young swimmer/collectors file in through the gate with a handful of cards with dog-eared edges from the wear, pouring out of their pockets. Some kids walk in with small containers of cards and then there’s Max,  who has a ginormous 4 inch binder weighing in at 5 pounds or so.  On more than a couple of occasions, I hear Abigail informing other children that her brother, Maxwell, is a “master collector” to which the reply is always an enthusiastic “I KNOW!”  Seems like he is building his own brand.  Hmm.

There is something else that I have learned.  There is an unspoken, quiet honor among young Pokemon Traders and Collectors.   Books are left open and unattended as the kids are called to their practice or event.  Kids waiting for their practice sit atop one of the tables, turning the plastic pages one by one and commenting on this or that feature of the Pokemon character, sometimes removing the card from the sleeve to look at it more closely, and always placing it back in its rightful sleeve among the other treasures, bestowing the dignity of which it is apparently deserved.  A white-gloved formally dressed Marine could not have done better.

I have not personally witnessed any violence over the game – only some tearful irritation from Ginny stating that she used to have three Pokemon but Abby took one and hid it and now she only has two – dotted by a few sniffles between words.  I believe I curbed any violence by ordering Abby to give Ginny the card in question.  Fanaticism?  Not really.  Make no mistake, there is an enthusiasm among these youthful swimmers.  But when coach Jenny sounds her signature whistle (not from plastic – just from Jenny), the cards are dropped, collector notebooks left open and the kids are off to swim.  I think it is healthy and it amuses me to watch the carefully thought out transactions.
I mean, if they can spout off the names and powers of hundreds of Pokemon, they certainly should have no trouble learning the scientific names for minerals in a few years.  Am I right?

a Montessori morning with Max

I was honored to attend a morning session at the Khalsa Montessori Camden Campus to see a day in the life of Maxwell at school.  Let me preface this post by admitting that when Max was enrolled here for Kindergarten, I was not fond of the idea.  This is an older building.  There is a garden area that different people maintain and some climbing things and sandbox, etc in the play yard.  I had a school in mind on the east side that had a fancy playground, state of the art signage and a huge paved parking lot.  Mind you, I had never been inside of either school, so I really was judging a book by it’s cover.  That turned out to be a huge error in judgement on my part.

Walking into the classroom, the difference between Montessori and the “regular” 2nd grade classroom is startlingly evident.  There are no long rows of desks lined up.  Desks are scattered here and there for individual students.  There are tables and chairs – some that seat 4 or 5 students and Max’s table that seats 3.

Class begins in a very calm semi-circle in the middle of the room.  Laura, (the kids call her by her name) read a story about how Nome, Alaska got its name.  The children all speak in quiet voices.  One child has brought something to share.  He described his item and then asked if anyone had questions.  Immediately, Cristian (Max’s best buddy) raised his hand and when called on by the student, he inquired “how much did it cost?”  I had to stifle a laugh while his mother turned around and apologized to the mother of the sharer.  After the sharing time in half circle, the teacher stands  and that is the student’s queue to find a partner in the room and sit down on the floor to solve some math problems and then grade each other’s work.  The teacher doesn’t have to tell them what to do because they know their daily routine.  There are timers (2 or 3 students with watches) and they  calmly give the time according to their watch, when asked.

After this exercise, they are handed their own notebook with their weekly assignment sheet in the front.  It is amazing to watch these kids make their way through their assignments – one right after another and then check the boxes to note their progress.  I was there a bit less than 2 hours and in the time left after the group setting, Maxwell completed a math board for addition, subtraction, division and multiplication; finished an assignment in adding fractions;Image result for Montessori fraction tools

read a story and had me ask the test questions; pulled out a money drawer and counted the money and had me check his answer (there is a hardware cabinet and each drawer has a different amount of money); drew a clock with the hands at 10:45; completed a “tower” worksheet where he had to distinguish the prefix from the root word; Image result for montessori tower teaching tool for prefixes and root wordsand then had permission to work with the bead board that teaches the decimal system.  After each assignment was completed, he would fill in the box and have me initial his page.  The one and only time he interacted with the teacher was to ask permission to work with the beads

..Bead chains for Montessori math; number sense, place values, skip counting.

On the drive home, I marveled at this concept of teaching.  2nd graders and 3rd graders are in the same class with different assignments,  The idea is that the older kids can offer assistance to the youngers.  While this class time was going on, kids were allowed to move about the room quietly and to even strike up conversations with each other.  Not once did I hear a loud voice or a teacher reprimand.

And I wonder how more kids would have done in school without the chaos and rigidity.  A calm and quiet environment giving the 8 and 9 year olds the decisions of which assignment to complete first and allowing them to move about to deter all the fidgeting that I remember in school – what a nurturing setting to make your way through a day at school.

Color me impressed.


a teenager grandson

Grandma's Bebes

And now he is in his second year of teenager-dom.

This smart, funny, sensitive little boy – is no longer so little.  He is grandma’s boy and I tell him that every time I see him.  Even though, now, when he runs through the airport to greet me, he almost knocks me over; he will forever be grandma’s boy.

I was at the Virginia house when he came home from the hospital.  A preemie at 3 pounds and 5 ounces, you would never know it today.  At fourteen, he stands over his dad and takes much satisfaction in resting his forearm on his father’s shoulder.  He has a tender heart and a sensitive soul.  He also has a sly sense of humor and enjoys making me laugh when we should be serious; lovingly taunts his younger sister by flipping her hair or poking her side when dad isn’t looking.

When he was a toddler in Tucson, he was my Target buddy at least once a week.  And he kept me in check, removing items from the cart when he was of the opinion that “we don’t need this, Grandma”.  Later on in his tween years, he would accompany me to the Wegman’s, and it was my turn to keep him in check.

And now he is heading toward the middle of his teens.  Still Grandma’s boy.  Still his sister’s biggest fan and her steadfast gentle tormentor.  Still a loving, sensitive, smart, talented and handsome boy  er, young man.

But in my eyes, he is still the toddler stacking soup cans in my pantry or running down the sidewalk to my open arms and appearing out of the bedroom where I thought I had cleverly hidden his birthday gift, on the seat of his brand new red tricycle.  So much for that surprise.

I love this child.  This toddler turned teen.  This handsome young man.

This forever grandma’s boy.

Happy Birthday, Mateo.  Grandma loves you.

2017 11 25 VA Gardner Wall Photo


camp nana – all about me


all about Me

We learned about each other today.  Paper people shapes were glued to some white cardstock paper.  We made the paper people to look like us.  Max decided he would dress himself as Captain Underpants while Abigail and Ginny took a more conventional approach.  Abby used yellow feathers for her blond hair.  Max drew his short blond hair with crayons.  Ginny dressed herself in a ruffled shirt and Abby made an entire outfit coordinated right down to the boots.

Then, we made notes all over the paper background about what food we like to eat or what color was our favorite.  We wrote what made us happy and also what made us sad.  That is how we learn about each other.

About Me

We learned about each other today.  Paper people shapes were glued to some white cardstock paper.  We made the paper people to look like us.  Max decided he would dress himself as Captain Underpants while Abigail and Ginny took a more conventional approach.  Abby used yellow feathers for her blond hair.  Max drew his short blond hair with crayons.  Ginny dressed herself in a ruffled shirt and Abby made an entire outfit coordinated right down to the boots.

Then, we made notes all over the paper background about what food we like to eat or what color was our favorite.  We wrote what made us happy and also what made us sad.  That is how we learn about each other.

Before Ginny arrived for camp, Max and Abby donned their Camp Nana aprons and made some yummy banana nut muffins that we sent to the swim meet that evening.  They squished up bananas and mixed the other ingredients.  Abby was in charge of locking and unlocking the big mixer while Max controlled the mixing speed.  They took their time and lifted the mixer up several times to scoop any unmixed ingredients from the bottom and sides of the large silver mixing bowl.  Down the mixer would go.  Abby would do her job and would loudly state “LOCKED!”  Max would then turn the mixer to the proper speed.  They alternated the muffin liners by color and took care in filling them with very little spills.  Abby ran back and forth from playing to the oven to check the progress.Image result for tap shoes

After cleanup, we practiced a bit for our dance review and had story time and play time.  It was a fun and productive day!Image result for tap shoesImage result for Storytime

Image result for Storytime


camp nana – over the rainbow

Connor was our special visitor for our first day of camp 2017.  Off to a busy start creating beautiful rainbows from bits of tissue paper and lots of glue.  Max handled his own gluing and dutifully assisted Abby & Connor with dots of glue where needed. 20170601_123857-1.jpg

Max decided on a miss-mash of colors in the shape of a rainbow, taking creative license.  20170602_144732Connor took a more abstract approach to his canvas (paper) of work. 18871631_10209221513085627_783146094_n

Ginny went minimalist while Abby was precise and exact.  20170602_14475520170602_144809All in all, a succesful gallery of color, giggles and glue.  And keeping with our theme, our quiet reading time was HOW THE CRAYONS SAVED THE RAINBOWS.20170531_141210

Since Ginny attended camp after her nap time, she missed story time.  When she arrived, Maxwell picked up the book and got her a pillow and read her the entire book.  At one point,Abby and Ginny were giggling, and I overheard Max … “do you want me to keep reading the story or do you want me to put the book up and you can keep talking”.  They chose the book.

What should little campers snack on during a rainbow of a day?  Well, a rainbow of fruit, of course (with a couple of other food groups as well)  Strawberries, cheese, pineapple, cucumber slices, crunch berries, black berries and marshmallow clouds.  It was quite the success!20170601_114713

Have you ever painted with spaghetti?  Well, we did.  And the results were nothing short of spectacular.  After cooking and cooling the spaghetti, I placed it on a dish in the middle of the kids table.  I then got busy setting up 4 plates with 2 colors of paint each, and when I returned to the table with the paint plates, there sat a tiny Ginny with a single spaghetti noodle hanging out of the corner of her mouth.  But once she saw the idea, she was ready to go.  Just in case, I did give her a little plate of noodles so that if she was inclined to grab another bite, she had un-painted pasta at the ready.



The rest of the first camp day, was filled with music, legos and a short walk to find items in the neighborhood to make up the colors of the rainbow.  20170601_123814

After camp, loaded up my new pink Nana chair and headed off to watch Maxwell compete with his Indian Ridge Swim Team, where he took 3rd in the backstroke and the butterfly.  He literally has never done the butterfly before, so his coach had him go underwater and watch another swimmer and that was his training.  Off he went and was quite impressive for the first time.  Looking forward to many more swim meets.


photo stolen from  courtesy of Megan Mundle.

Camp Nana 2017 Kickoff

Tomorrow begins the 5th year of Camp Nana in Tucson, formerly known as Camp Grandma in Leesburg for 2 years.  It will be a short day, but for three and a half hours this tiny house will be filled with laughing and talking and some  “he took my paper and she knew I was going to use that one!”.  It will be loud and full of questions and quiet storytime and messy.  Connor, Ginny, Max and Abby will participate in all things rainbows.

Rainbow art.  Rainbow reading.  Rainbow  snack.  Maybe some rainbow songs, if there is time.

And then, just as fast as camp noisy began, 3 of the little ones will be whisked away to a swim meet … another will return to his Vail family and there will be scarcely a trace of the afternoon, save for tissue paper pieces floating around; sticky glue residue on the tables and chairs and bits of snacks abandoned on little plates and something squished on the floor over there.  Hmmm.

And as I drag the vacuum out, I will take another look around and picture the sticky fingers and messy faces and as though time had never even passed – I will hear his voice in my mind saying “good job, honey”.





oh my

Most afternoons when I am on pick up duty for the Tucson Grand-Angels, everything goes smoothly.  Oh, there may be the occasional complaint or spat between the two, but such a rare event.



(of an event, situation, or condition) not occurring very often.

Today, rare picked itself up, put on it’s shoes, and walked right out the door and disappeared without a trace.

After Abby’s swim team, we make our way to my house for some play time and dinner while daddy has meetings and mommy gets a well deserved pedicure.  I am busy in the kitchen area and I hear Abigail from her relaxed position on the sofa.

“Max, can you please get me a blanket and a pop up book and a cuddle toy because I went swimming and I have my pajamas on and I really really need to rest here.”


“Maaaa-ax.  But I am tired and I asked you nicely and you should do it if I ask you nicely.”

“no.  If I get you a blanket then I will have to fold it and put it back and I don’t feel like it.”

“But I will put the blanket back, I pwomise I really really will!”

Max gives in to the high-pitched whine from the little sister, and not only returns with the blanket; but brings TWO – count ’em 2 – pop up books and THREE cuddle toys for her to choose from.  Max is tired from a busy day at school and Pokemon discussion with some friends at Abby’s swim team practice.  He tosses a pillow on the big shaggy living room rug, and with a big exhale, commences to close his eyes and begin operation unwind.

Abby begins to “read” the spelled out numbers in one of the books … loudly … and punctuating each syllable.

Forty-Five.  Sixty-Three.  Fifty-seven.

Max is getting annoyed and then, reaching his breaking point … “ABBY!!  Please give me some quiet time for a few minutes. Read it in your mind.  You are not even reading it right!’

thirty-three.  seventy-nine.  Nana, am I reading it right?

“ABBY!  PLEASE just read it in your MIND!”

Well, you can surmise for yourself how Abby responded – or, didn’t.  Max was now near tears and broke down, marched into my bedroom and shut the door.  I gave him a few moments and went in just to check on him.  He had piled some pillows near my big craft cabinet, laid down on the pillows and open the large drawer above him to make a little sleeping berth.  I hugged him and asked if he needed anything and he dried his tears and said he just wanted to rest.  I left him to it and returned to the kitchen to finish cooking dinner.  All the while Abby is still “reading” loudly, only stopping once to ask me what was wrong with Maxwell.  I had to leave the room to hide my laughter.

After dinner, I turn on the television to watch a Disney show with them, and on comes the ID channel where I had left it the night before.  As I start to change the channel Max holds up his hand  “Wait Nana!” On the screen it showed a hooligan family tormenting a grandpa next door with a dangerous growly dog and fireworks and loud music.  On commercial, I explained to the tiny Grand-Angels that they were just taunting him to be mean and that they should be more respectful.

ABBY:  “Nana, you might give me a time out for this, but I just have to say I would like to knock the shit out of those mean people.”

I am trying not to laugh while looking shocked and thought this would be a good time for a lesson.  No, Abby.  I am not giving you a time out, and then went on to explain that I do not like that language from my granddaughter.  And then to engage Max in my teaching moment, I asked Max what would be a better way to express that same feeling of anger.  He thought for just a split second, and replied …

“I am going to punch you right in the face!”

Turning to Abby to solidify my argument, apparently Max was not done with his thought on the matter.

“You Bastards!”

i give up.

a mini-man with a MAXi-heart

Before he was 7 and before he could read … before he played soccer and before he went to Kindergarten … before he told jokes and before he knew his colors and shapes … before he danced to Cuban Pete … before all of that, he took my heart to places it had never known.

Together we have read books and colored pages.  We have gone on long walking adventures and out to lunch and in to nap. We have played tennis and badminton and t-ball.  We have painted and gardened and made home-made popsicles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

We have laughed and giggled and cried together.  I have wiped his tears and he has wiped away mine.  He has patted me on my arm with a little hand when I needed it most.  He has helped me through the days; without even knowing it.  And I could not love him more.

He is 7 years old now.

He is Max.



confessions of a well meaning, but apparently negligent, Nana

Yesterday, I published this original post in a private message to friends and family; cringing at what I had allowed to happen …

16935610_1226389610763343_836463381_oKids were up before 7. Nana got up about 8 o’clock. The children fixed their own breakfast of cereal and milk . And when I say cereal, I mean the entire box. I couldn’t post it on Facebook because Nana ain’t no snitch. shhhhhhh

While the children were lunching with Aunt Megan and family, I was picking up the house, and opened the pantry door to find this …


What perfect kids!  They didn’t eat the entire box after all!  When I told Max the whole story he just laughed – in that same way as when Jeffry laughs at me as if to be saying “crazy old woman”.


The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this article are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.

It was a lovely Thursday afternoon.  A Nana, (we’ll call her Lana) gently pulled the Impala with the tiny children (we’ll call them Jax and Gabby) secure and safe in their approved car seats, into the garage.  Lana was driving very slow and trying to judge how much room she had to inch around so as not to disturb the oh-so- adorable little bug car, also in the garage.

Lana sees the blue plastic recycle bin wobble just a bit.  Trying to ignore the issue in the hopes that the mini-passengers would do the same, she gingerly reverses in order to  endeavor a safe and careful position, once again calculating the available distance.

JAX:  ” Lana. You know you hit the recycle container, right?”

Lana takes time to reassure him that,yes, yes, she did notice that she barely touched the recycle bin.  No harm done.  Pulling forward again, she smiles to herself assured that she is missing the aforementioned recycle bin.  Oh … Lana sees a ladder begin to move.  With curse words on her tongue but not leaving her mouth; again a voice from the backseat.

JAX: “Lana.  You know that you hit the ladder this time, right?  Not the little ladder with the soft black seat.  The tall ladder that you stand on to put the color bulbs in outside.  Remember that you let me climb it one time when you were right there?  It was that one.  Did you see that you hit it?”

Apparently, little Jax has forgotten that Lana has been right in the same vehicle that he has, and although he has accused her of short-term memory loss in the past, she certainly does realize what she has done and responds to the six-year-old smarty pants that she certainly does remember the incident just seconds ago and that all is well.

Backing out one more time and inching forward so as not to disturb the parking police who has apparently completed some academy course since the last time I saw him two days ago; (okay, a curse word may have left my lips) as I see the big green canvas bag housing the  Christmas tree and Santa rug and wreaths dance a little jiggly dance, I sense another comment from the six-year-old Captain Obvious.  Instead, I hear the throaty roar of laughter coming from none other than a four-year old, as she loudly exclaims (as if I was not there) …

GABBY:  “did you see that one, Jax??  This time she crashed right into the Christmas tree bag!!”

and louder and longer laughter ensues.

I back the car out onto the driveway; shut off the engine; tell the kids that it is all clear to remove their seat belt harness and sheepishly retreat into the house, leaving the Impala just outside of the garage door with plenty of room not to hit anything.







Call me.

Max wanted to play video games on my phone.  I had Judge Mathis on the television.  Whenever you watch a judge show, commercials for attorneys of all kind stream one after the other.  They always have catchy numbers – one has – 333 33 33 and 777 77 77.

I hear Max’s video game music stop, and I catch the familiar sound of cell phone touch tone dialing.

“Max, what are you doing?”  Thinking he was trying to get to a different game.

I gotta call these guys!”


777 7777333 3333

Connor brings his Mommy to Tucson

Such a treat to spend the day with my great grandson and my grand-daughter visiting all the way from southern Virginia.  Reviewing these photo pages are guaranteed to bring a little smile to your heart.  Enjoy.page 1 page 2 page 3 page 4 page 5 page 6 page 7 page 8 page 9 page 10 page 11 page 12

In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning

Over the past 5 years, Bob has been in the hospital for a fairly decent amount of time.  After living together for 45 years, I find that I handle things better when I busy myself with a project.  This month, with a two-week stay, I visited my patient, did the laundry, kept the house and yard up, worked accounting for long hours – and then I would find myself wide awake at 2 a.m.  I was too blurry eyed to stare at the computer and numbers, so I chose to work on the bathroom.

Still with the original 30-year-old tile on the floor – faded and dulled and just, well, gross – I found my project.  After laying half of the floor in a darker penny round, I awoke later in the morning, decided it was too dark.  I retrieved the square spade shovel from the garage and commenced to pulling it up – tossed it in the dumpster and hopped in the car to the tile store.  I chose a bright white glossy hexagon classic mosaic and set to work.  Working only a few early mornings until sleep finally claimed me, it was done.  Some trim work and some grouting and using my trusty “haze-be-gone” mitt, I think it came out pretty good.  Feels so nice and shiny and CLEAN and fresh – what a difference.  Even 5-year-old Max noticed … “hey, Nana.  I like your new floors here.”  Lovin’ that kid!


Then I decided to freshen the bathroom door exterior with some Behr Marquee paint using the color cocoa.  Goes well with the decoupage I had done some months ago.


Still needs a few paint touch ups and a new faucet, but all in good time.  For now, that’ll do pig.  That’ll do.

date night … dinner, uber and the Beatles

A long and overdue date night began with a roaring downpour of a Tucson monsoon.  The east side of town was flooded and drenched.  By the time we reached mid-town and parked at the Outback Steakhouse, roads were dry and you never would have guessed that two minutes earlier, you could barely see in front of you because of the rain.  Mmmmm, I haven’t had the teriyaki steak medallions with peppers and onions for years, and it was just perfect with a strawberry margarita surrounded by a plentiful sugared rim.
combining form
  1. denoting an outstanding or supreme example
    of a particular kind of person or thing.
    We had already decided to leave our car parked at the restaurant after dinner, and to call Uber for the drive to and from downtown to the Fox Theatre.  We had never used this service before, and what a treat.  The car arrived within 6 minutes, nice and clean. What a relief not to have to find parking downtown and then walking back and forth to the car – and that is assuming that I would even remember where I parked!  Dropped right smack in front of the theater and the door politely opened for me, we step right up the curb to the will call window.  We have never been to the Fox Theatre, so this should be a treat!

    10088 TextDividersSet1_20

    The Fox Tucson Theatre opened on April 11, 1930 as a dual vaudeville/movie house. The Fox featured a stage, full fly loft, and dressing rooms beneath the stage. The combined effects of “talkies” and the Depression limited the opportunities for live performance, and the dressing rooms were never completed.

    Opening night, April 11, 1930, proved to be the biggest party the small community of Tucson had ever seen. With Congress Street closed and waxed for dancing, four live bands, a live radio broadcast and free trolley rides downtown, the party was one not to be missed. So began Fox’s 40 year reign as the “crown jewel” of downtown Tucson’s entertainment world. Originally, the Fox served as Tucson’s Movie Palace, presenting films on the big screen as well as community events, vaudeville performances and the Tucson Chapter of the Mickey Mouse Club.

    Competition for new theaters and the decline of downtown shopping led to the Fox closing in 1974.  After sitting empty for 25 years, the theater was nearly beyond restoration. Extensive water damage, vandalism, and neglect had conspired to keep the building dark. The owners, who had decided to let the building slowly decay, had little interest in selling the property to anyone. Following a two-year negotiation the non-profit Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation was able to buy the building in 1999 for $250,000.553ec922b92e6.image

    Stabilization and planning for the rehabilitation/restoration began at once with a new roof being installed to stop further damage from the elements. Small restoration projects such as the repair and relighting of the original chandeliers kept the community engaged—through bi-annual open houses and special event fund-raisers.20150822_190957

    Following a six-year, $14 million rehabilitation the theatre reopened on New Year’s Eve 12/31/2005. The building is listed as on the National Register of Historic Places due to its unique “Southwestern Art Deco” decor as well as it world-class acoustics. The 1164 seat audience capacity is big enough to attract national and international talent, yet small enough to boast an intimate entertainment experience. Once again the Fox is a premier performance venue, a classic film buff’s dream (showing classic 35mm films on the big screen “the way they were meant to be seen”), and a multi-purpose, elegant rental facility for corporate, non-profit and private events.20150822_19095010088 TextDividersSet1_20

    Twist & Shout – a Beatles review – unleashed memories of 12-year-old girls who had a dream of taking the train (we’re talking the California Zephyr here – not Amtrak) from Grand Junction to Denver to attend a Beatles concert.  Mona Hicks and I were planning – dreaming.  Could we really make our way to the middle of a screaming crowd of teenage girls at a Beatles concert.We had enough money for tickets and the train fare.  Just couldn’t work out the logistics of where 12-year-old kids would stay the night or get transportation and meals.  Not to mention that no parents in their right minds would allow such shenanigans.  I don’t really remember just how the hoped for plans ended.  I just know they did.  We didn’t really discuss it.  It kind of just faded away and we were back to the business of school and homework and the everyday life of a kid.

    The music tonight was fun and led by a local Tucson guy and that made it even more entertaining.  The loge seating (front balcony love-seats) allowed perfect views of the stage, and we were surrounded by a lively, woo-hooing, dancing crowd.  The singing quality was good but the instrumentation was spot on to the original Beatles songs.

    Twist & Shout is truly the definitive Beatles experience played by brilliantly talented musicians, and led by Tucson-based Tony Kishman (Paul).

    Another Uber met us at the curb and delivered us to our car back at the restaurant. Not one complaint beginning with dinner and ending with Uber.  The theater is a master-piece and takes you back to a gentler time.  We have already reserved tickets to two future concerts and are anxious to return to our date nights.  After the past 5 years of lengthy hospital stays and hundreds of medical appointments – I would say a date night here and there is deserved.

Clean up on Aisle 4

The good people of Tucson are up in arms over our grocery stores.  Albertson bought Safeway and sold out to Haggen. Haggen took over some beloved Safeway stores – MY Safeway as they were commonly referred – and nothing was the same.  Prices went up.  My Safeway Select products were gone, and the immaculate produce department was no more.  People are writing letters and complaining to neighbors and now Haggen is closing the two stores they ruined for me and Tucson will have yet two more buildings vacant with nothing to show for the effort but some plywood over the windows and colorful gang tagging.

I have one word that can solve this issue and only needs three great locations in our fair city.  WEGMANS.  That’s it.  Not even a long word, really.  Easy to pronounce.  A Wegmans on the far south side, northwest side, and, of course, my favorite side – East Tucson.  Bring on the bulldozers and let’s get that land leveled and build three Wegmans.  The other grocers can close up shop.  Jobs?  There will be plenty, because you never walk into a Wegmans with long lines due to two cashiers manning the sixteen check stands.  There is never a rain when a Wegmans employee isn’t present to open an over-sized umbrella and walks you to your vehicle.  You do not have to ring a bell at the butcher counter or the bakery – they are always out front and ready to serve.  Come with me on a little tour of what your world could be, Tucson.wegmans1

Pull into the more than ample parking lot with wide spaces to discourage door dings.  The front of the store is wide and inviting.  No, there are no strip mall storefronts adjoining – it is all Wegmans.

Even the carts are unique.  Choose the full-sized cart or the “split level” with a small basket on top and a large on the bottom.  Pick an aisle – any aisle.  You will find more treats for the eye – and your taste buds – than you can imagine,  Strolling through the fresh fish aisle to find something for dinner?  Pull up a chair in the bistro and treat yourself to a little sushi and a glass of wine.


Kids having a meltdown and you need to sugar them up?  No worries.  Wegmans is there for you, like an old family friend.  They’ve got your back.


Or, maybe it’s dinner that they need.  The teenager wants pizza.  You want a healthy salad.  The twins  want Asian and the hubs wants to dig into a sub. Wegmans to the rescue.  Sushi. Burgers. Pizza. Subs. Calzones. Salads. Hot entrees. Asian – Chinese – Thai food bar. Chicken. Braised ribs. Turkey. Pulled pork.  Chipotle corn cakes.  Giant burritos.  Organic and gluten-free choices as well.wegmans5 wegmans6 wegmans7 wegmans8 wegmans9 wegmans10 wegmans4

Entertainment for the kids?  Don’t spend $14 a ticket for the movies.  Just grab some dinner and take it upstairs on a Friday night.  25 cent popcorn and movies are free.  Take the elevator if you are so inclined.  Join a cooking class. Have your kid’s birthday party there, and yes – there are weddings at Wegmans!

Of course, there are the usual meat departments, bakery (gotta get their signature W bread) floral, canned foods, lots of home decor and kitchen and dishware, beautiful produce, pharmacy etc etc.  But anyplace can brag about that.  THIS is Wegmans. 

Oh, how I miss my Wegmans.

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 Come on Tucson.  Who’s with me?

Today’s ABBY-isms

ME: Abby, want this grape? (last one)
A: I don’t need it, but thanks anyway.

A: I need a tookey sandwich (pulling open the refrigerator door – and removing Poppa’s balogna) Now… I need mustard.

ME: Abby, try these scalloped potatoes – you like potatoes.
A: I really don’t want to try something if it might be yucky.

A: I need some glue, Nana. I need some glue to make my crafts.

A: Nana, you’re so cute I wanna wear you like a suit. (followed by a high pitched scream/laugh.

She is only 2 and 1/2!! Talks like a 4 year old.

A lot.

And by a lot, I mean constantly.

Like, all of the time.

20150512_124447But it is so damn cute, I cannot tell her to stop!

Camp NANA 2015 – Week 2

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Such a soggy and humid day in Tucson, forced us to stay indoors. We had frozen rolls to get ready for family dinner, so that seemed like a good place to start! Maxwell is meticulous about lining the frozen dough balls just so. Abby, being only two, couldn’t grasp the concept that these little frozen rounds would need space to grow. Max would roll his eyes as he calmly re-arranged the rolls when Abby turned away.

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While Abby busied herself with her toys, Max and I got busy making the mini-pumpkin pie cups – bite sized treats that he later topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream. He never seems to tire of cooking. He is imaginative and will probably give Tom Colicchio a run for his money in a few years.

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Following heart-shaped pb&j’s for lunch, we indulged in a little music time, conducted by Abby. She glances around to make certain that we all have an instrument and that we are all singing the same song and at the same time. The campers were so tired, they fell asleep at 1:30 until 4:30!

page 4 Family dinner followed shortly after the end of the nap when mommy and daddy arrived. This is always a noisy and a bit chaotic time, until Kerri has Max begin the dinner time question to each person at the table “What was your favorite part of the Day?” It is Max’s responsibility to decide who answers first, second and so on. He takes this seriously and seems quite interested in the response.

Another successful Camp Nana Tuesday!

Camp Nana 2015 – Week ONE

2015 06 02 A 2015 06 02 B

 The first day of Camp Nana 2015 seemed to be a success.  I was met at the front door by two fresh scrubbed campers, attired in their brand new Camp Nana shirts!  Lookin’ sharp. We began with a little T-Ball.  While Abby was consport-boys-02tent to hit the T-Ball spring stand with the bat and watching the ball fall gently to the ground. while Max – well, Max was a natural.  He took his place at the T-Ball stand, and batting left-handed, knocked nearly every ball out of the park.  That is not a metaphor, but a fact.  Nana had to chase every ball down as both grandchildren stood by and cheered me on … “Get the ball, Nana!  Get it.”  Apparently watching Nana zigzagging all over the little park exhausted the 2-year-old Abigail and 5-year-old Maxwell.  So much so that they had to return home for a cooling down Popsicle break at Max & Abby’s little diner!  It was so cute to watch Abby pull her pink chair up to the outdoor dining bar and chatter back and forth with her brother.

Then it was time to begin our baking lesson.  Do you really know just howdough abby difficult it is to keep little fingers from swiping through the batter for just a taste?  Max took charge of the whisk and the duty of mixing, while Abby delighted in dumping in the oil and water and eggs.  They took turns helping to spoon the batter into the mini cake loaf pans.  Max busied himself with coloring while Abby darted back and forth to check the progress of the mini-cakes through the oven glass.

The room was filled with constant chatter and then … complete silence.  Ahhhhh.  Lunchtime.  Nothing but the slurping of milk and crunching of crackers and once in a little while … “Brudder.  You don’t want your cheese?  I have it?”  Topping it off with a banana and they are good to go!

Next, we settle in to create a diorama.

coloring max

di·o·ram·a     noun

a model representing a scene with three-dimensional figures

Lightweight wood shadow box frames and some 3-D zoo animals were lined up and ready to go.  Max took great care in painting his diorama.  Lovely blue skies over lush green fields and dirt below where the animals will walk.  His fence was painted green to blend in with the grassy meadow.  He decided that the monkey should be climbing in the tree and the giraffe should be eating leaves of the tree.  Abby, however, had a more abstract approach.  She painted the entire inside of the diorama blue and then a touch of brown in the mix, happily stating “I made a waterfall.”  She was thrilled with the result, and that is all that matters.

The campers were getting a little tired and were ready for a nap.  Max climbed in the bed and immediately closed his eyes and just wanted to sleep.  Abby was less interested in sleep, even though her perfect blue eyes were droopy and tired.  Max didn’t make a peep.  However, I heard what I thought was a quacking duck, and walked in the bedroom to see Abby sitting on her knees with her head bent down close to Max’s face while a very loud and raspy “QUACK QUACK QUACK” yelled from her mouth.  I stood there until she noticed me.  She immediately squinted her eyes tightly shut and  made her way back to the pillow.

After nap time, we enjoyed reading the new books and playing with the stickers that came with the books.  Mommy and Daddy joined us for Family Dinner and a little playtime.  Great first camp day!

So, this is what 5 years look like

Maxwell Edward Gardner first entered my heart over the airwaves some 2000 miles away.  Aunt Megan graciously held her cell phone so I could capture the first gentle baby noises of my grandson.  My baby had just witnessed the birth of his baby, and a whole new world opened up.

We attended Max’s first birthday party over Skype and were honored to watch Max toddle around and open gifts and play with paper and boxes, as is the tradition of all children, it seems.  By the time we moved back to Tucson from Leesburg, Virginia, Maxwell was eighteen months old blond hair and big blue eyes and a different expression every day.  He wowed us with his curiosity in all things out of his reach and his wonderment at the small things that we adults forget about.  Fluttering butterflies and puddles of rain water were at the forefront of his enjoyment, while we tend to put them on the back burner with usually a fleeting glance.  Max would stop on our walk and crouch down to silently watch a butterfly tenderly landing on one bloom of a Bougainvillea and then another.  And after his mind was satisfied with that display, he moved on to another, all the time taking it in and storing it in his memory to recall in a conversation later with mommy and daddy.

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By age 3, Max was able to reason and explain himself like a high school graduate – only with cuter grammar!  All through his five years, he has been a gentle, caring soul.  Always tender with a hug and sweet word.  As he has gotten closer to this milestone age of 5, he has mastered a dry sense of humor, the art of schmoozing  and an imagination beyond his years.  He takes great pride in his artwork and teaching me a song and entertaining a 2-year-old Abby.  He has brought so much sunshine into my life.

Happy Birthday, Max.  I can’t wait to see what you do in the next 5 years.  But, let’s not have it go quite as fast.  Deal?  Your Nana wants to savor every moment.

03 01 2012 Max10 30 2013 Max2015 02 08 A


I met my husband 48 years ago.  We were only 15.  We are getting ready to celebrate our 44th Wedding Anniversary this coming Easter Sunday.  But there is a dark cloud looming.  Bob needs a kidney.  He is in end stage renal failure – stage 5.

He has struggled over the past decade with numerous ambulance rides and multiple stays at hospitals, and several near death episodes.  He is determined, but in order to be placed back on the UNOS transplant list (United Network for Organ Sharing) at the University of Arizona Medical Center, we must pay the $12000. deductible as well as about $1000 in funds transfer fees.  Our son, Jeffry, has set up a gofundme page, and in only thirteen days, friends, family and strangers have donated just over $11k.  Such remarkable people in this world.  We need you to spread the word.  If you can share this post and send a prayer, it would mean more than we could ever say.  Here is the link to the fund:  http://www.gofundme.com/bobneedsakidney

Six of our grand children say it better than we ever could.

Project Ugly Sofa/Sectional Part 1

Say “Hello” to part of my ugly sofa.  We bought this sectional in Virginia in May of 2010 before we moved into our brand new apartment.  I love this sectional.  It is yellow.  It is roomy (seats 6).  It is bouncy (just ask the grand kids).  It is comfy.  BUT … since it has been through grand kids in two states and of various ages;  several Christmas open houses; family dinners and Easter get togethers, it is more than ready for a makeover.  After drooling over $50 a yard fabrics at the fabric/craft stores, it was beyond my budget.  Until one day when my friend, Joanne, advised me to pay a visit to Sas Fabric store.  I had seen this store before, but figured it was more for able body seamstresses who knew what they were doing.  So I took Joanne’s advice and headed down to Sas Fabrics.  I found an amazing assortments of all types and colors and textures of fabrics at a fraction of the price at the other fabric/craft stores.  Fabric that originally would sell for 38.99 per yard, was priced at 4.99.  I took the fifteen yards they had left, figuring I would need at least 12 yards.  $75 to cover the base parts of both pieces of the sectional was right up my alley.  I will worry about getting complimentary fabric for the twelve cushions later.


Nice, new pale yellow with tiny squares of a soft sage color upholstery fabric in hand, I begin to formulate my plan.  I set the fabric aside for several days, waiting to make my first move.  Just not sure what that first move will be.

I removed all the back and seat cushions from both pieces of the sectional, tip them both over so that I am looking at the bottom of the sofa. I draped the fabric over the large piece, leaving about 3 feet of fabric hanging on each side and then do the same to the other piece. Since the backs are just flat, I think that would be the best place to start.
Trusty staple gun in hand, I attach the fabric to the bottom underneath and staple away.
So far, so good! With a quick flip of the sofas to their upright positions, I pull the fabric over the top and down to the seat, leaving about 4 inches to play with adhering the fabric to the front piece of the sofa that will be the backboard to the cushions. I cover the tailored skirt with the new fabric using the double-sided fusing. This also added a nice weight. I was careful to cover the entire strip underneath the skirts first, so that if/when a piece of the skirt was moved, I would still see the new fabric and not the old stuff. Yes, I am a bit OCD about things like that.

The upper corners are not finished – but the back is!

Look at the skirt – not the yucky cushions!

Of course, nothing beats working with a noteworthy assistant.  Not too handy with the tools, but the face is to die for.


Gdovins & More 2014 Family Reunion Day 1

Monday, the 24th,  was a comedy of errors as far as our flight.  Bob was unable to travel to Grand Junction Colorado, so Ricky remained behind to stay with his dad, while Mateo, Marluce and I headed to the airport.  From before we even left home, our flight was delayed by 45 minutes.  Okay – no problem as we had an almost 2 hour layover in Phoenix.  So, 1:45 passes us by and then 2:15 and I am thinking, boy our layover is getting fairly short!  At 2:40, we are moved to another gate to board a different flight to Phoenix.  As we are landing with 7 minutes before the boarding gate is closed on our connection, the flight attendant asks everyone who is not connecting to stay seated as we are all running out of the plane to get to our gate.  With one minute to spare, we make it.   We taxi out to the runway and then stop and wait…and wait … and then the Captain announces that he received an error message on the plane’s computer and maintenance people are on their way so we wait and wait and 2 guys come on board and check this and that and then they leave and we are thinking “woo hoo”.   Well, we woo-hoo’d way too early.  After the men leave and the stairs are pulled back up and we are getting ready to take off, Captain has other ideas.  He announces that we have to go back to the terminal and we will sit on the plane while some other mechanics surmised the situation.  A fuse.  We needed a new little fuse.  A short time later, we were on our way – although, since this was the 2nd attempt at take-off, the enthusiasm had waned somewhat.  As we settled in the air at 30,000 feet, Mateo and Marluce played on their iPads (Yes, the each have one and Mateo won them both at different events).  Once in a while you could hear their voices and a little giggle.  Just good kids having a little fun.A1 A2

This smaller jet has much more engine noise than the bigger ones, so any conversations were muffled, as if they were whispering.  Captain announces that he is beginning the descent into Grand Junction and clapping follows.  I like a grateful crowd.  Just as the first wheel touches down, Mateo, not realizing the volume of his voice after such a noisy plane ride, exclaims (okay – he yells!) PREPARE FOR LANDING!!!  And then comments on how he didn’t realize that his voice got so loud.  Several passengers joined me in laughter.

GJ Regional Airport

I will admit to the embarrassing confession that I have never rented a car myself up until age 62. The hubs always handles these things and I have not minded one bit that I have been spoiled for my many years of marriage. Off we go in a 2015 Nissan Altima with key-less ignition. Zippy little thing and if I could, I would pack it up and take it home!! So, back to our day … We arrive at the Marriott’s Spring Hill Suites in beautiful downtown Grand Junction, facing Main Street and all the beautifully lit trees ready for the holidays.springhill

Camp Nana Week 7

Our Camp day began with a bowl of cereal, washing hands and faces and off to Bookman’s on East Grant Road.  For you non-Tucson residents, Bookmans, officially known as Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, is the largest used book retailer based in Arizona. It was founded in 1976 by Bob Oldfather, who is the current president of the company.  There are now several Bookman stores selling high quality used books, sporting goods, musical instruments – you name it. This particular location has a kid’s Friday morning StoryTime session.  They call it StoryTime, but it is so much more.  Off we go!

2294226_FLHalcJxEnBOf9rtITMHTY0IPm7loU9wWPBpFox00b0These kids love books.  Even Abby, not yet 2 years old, will grab a book and sit by herself and carefully turn the pages and scan intently at the words and illustrations.  Once in a while you hear a delightful squeal as she finds something particularly interesting.  It really is a site to see.

Max was very excited when we reached our destination.  “I think my mommy taked me here, afore.”  He is most likely correct, as Kerri has a love for books like I have never seen before.  We make our way back to the “community room” complete with audience seating for probably 30.  Some long tables off to the side are covered in paper plates, crayons, paints, kid friendly scissors, stickers, pipe cleaners, glitter and lots more.  In the back corner of the room on a smaller area, is a cart with juice for the kids when they are ready.

Of course, I am early, so Max and Abby find a seat in the front row while I sit off to the side to not block little ones sitting behind me.  As soon as storytime begins, all is quiet.   In the first of several stories, Papa Chicken agrees to read a bedtime story to Little Red Chicken, but only if he promises NOT to interrupt.  As Papa Chicken begins to read the book, Little Red Chicken chimes in with his imaginative contributions to the story.  This continues throughout the book and as the kids caught on, laughter followed each interruption.

IMAG0464After a few more entertaining stories, time for some tunes! Before the hostess played songs on her guitar, she would announce each title.

Does everyone know the Wheels on the Bus?

MAX:  oh, I know this song.  

I know’d this song for a long long time.

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Good job, everyone! How about the Itsy Bitsy Spider?

MAX:  omusic5 copyh, my mommy teached me this song and she teached Abby too, but she can’t really do it very well.

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Wow! You are all really good singers. How about You Are My Sunshine?

thCAIGJ0P4MAX:  oh, I know that one.  That is mommy’s favorite!    


music5 copyOkay, before we do some crafts, let’s try My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.

MAX: (sporting a sad little frowny face)  I don’t know that song,  I don’t know the words.  I haven’t heard that song a’fore.  Nobody teached me that and I can’t read words yet.

(music and singing begin, and as the music and singing fill the air, one little voice stands out.  Because he thinks that the hostess maybe did not hear him, Max removes himself from his chair and stands maybe a foot away from the singing hostess.  All the while the music plays on,) 

MAX:  I don’t know these words.  I can’t sing this song.  Nobody teached me that song a’fore.

The song ends.  Max politely tells the hostess “Thank You” and returns to his seat before heading over to the craft table where we shall magically turn a paper plate into a beautiful, custom-made butterfly.


After an exhausting morning, it was a very quiet ride home to have lunch.IMAG0472
After a nice lunch and an almost two-hour nap (them – not me) it was time for Poppa to read some of the new books from our excursion to Bookman’s. Abby had to have the giant storybook that I made so she could sit inside of it. A little toy time to take up the rest of our camp day.

Camp Nana Week 6

Started off bright and early with a Junket Joyride to Pantano Riding Stables.  Always a good thing to visit the horses and their world for an hour or so.

pantano_menu_items_bluebgAbby was a little stand-offish at the beginning while Max acted as though the horses were his best buddies from years (all 4 of them) gone by.

He especially liked the miniature pony and made several remarks such as “boy, that Chester sure did like me!”.  And he wasn’t wrong.

Chester would follow Max as we walked by and at one time, even put his hoof up on the corral rail as though he was having a good old-fashioned chat with Max.




Max made certain that all horses wanting his attention did not go unnoticed.  He was always ready with an open hand and a pet on the nose.

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Most of the horses were wearing the mesh masks to protect their eyes from flies and mosquitoes and diseases of the eyes from such and from the Tucson sun’s harsh rays.  They can see through them and it seems they are not the least bit bothered by the masks.  On the other hand, Max was concerned at first thinking it was some type of blindfold.


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 Max, being a bit disgusted by the smell at first, pinched his nose shut for some relief.




We watched a couple of the horses get their morning baths.  This one kept wanting to drink the water instead of getting rinsed and

Abby and Max giggled openly watching the horse raise his head to sneak a little drink.





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Abby, hold my hand.


Okay, then hold just my finger.

totay, brudder. you’re welcome, brudder.

026 (2)

025Hey!  There’s a horse in here!!

024Taking a little breather from the heat and long walk!

021 (2).An independent little wrangler insists on seeing the sights without holding anyone’s hand.


Meanwhile, Maxwell maps our route so that we don’t miss anything.

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Culinary Corner brought us back home on the range to a hearty lunch of hot dogs and mac ‘n cheese.

By the way, Abby is not in pain.  She is saying “cheeeeeeese” for the camera.

The kids helped make lunch.  Abby placed each hot dog on the giant crescent rolls and Max rolled them up to make a bun!




A little trip down Artist Avenueis a great place to relax and unwind from such a busy morning.


Abby takes charge of her own Camp Nana adventure, by rearranging my wallet!

Today’s Max-ism:   Max “needed” a baggie to take home some art, etc.

Nana, where are those bags with the zippers?

In that little cabinet Max. Just grab one of the boxes.  There are big ones and little ones.   (After too long of a silence, I make my way to the kitchen to find about 60 sandwich sized baggies on the floor and Max is still sitting on the rug, pulling each bag out one by one and stacking them, making a lovely pile of clear bags.)  Max, what are you doing?

Looking for the bigger ones.  I figure that they must be at the back of the bag because the little ones are “afront”.

Oh, Max.  the big ones are in their own box.  Now, you need to pick all the small bags up and put them back in the box and then I will get you a large baggie.

Can’t you just do it, Nana?  You’re the one who advised me!

Closing out another fun day at Camp Nana 2014.

I have a young niece.

Her birthday is tomorrow, July 15th.  Cassandra Michele is the only child of my late brother, Larry.  She never really got to know her daddy.  Oh, she met him a couple of times, but Larry had issues with his mental health and always thought she was better off without him.  Oh, how wrong he was.  But that is the not so happy story.

The happy part of the story is Cassi, herself.  When Cassi was just a little girl, she came from California to visit with us for a week or two for several summers.  Since we had raised three boys, having a little girl around was a delight.  She was an energetic, happy little jabber box.  Every day we would do some type of little craft, play card and board games and made meals.  In the evenings after dinner, shower and yet more games, Cassi would curl up in her little bed we made just for her in the loft of our condo with a Junie B Jones book and read until her eyelids began to lower into a happy sleep.  Some nights she would come to our room and lie atop the comforter and read Junie B Jones to her Uncle Bob and me.  This is one of my favorite memories of Cassi’s summer visits.Junie-B-Jones

Other evenings were spent with Tristan (3 years younger) spending the night or eating dinner at Little Anthony’s Diner watching Cassi and Tristan both slurping down their ice cream sundaes.  We had family dinners to celebrate Cassi’s visit and roller skating at the rink and special shows at the Gaslight Theater.  There was always a good time when Cassi came to visit.


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And then she grew older and probably felt to “big” to visit her crazy aunt in Arizona.  And now?  Now, she is a stunning young woman wearing a Julia Robert’s smile and her hand clutching an adorable son, Oliver James, (James being Larry’s middle name).  I have gotten to watch Cassi and Oliver grow and have their own adventures through photos and social media messages.  I hope soon I will get to meet Oliver and to hug Cassi again.  Until then, happy birthday and wishes for the best ever year ahead of you.  I love you very much, Cassandra Michele Gdovin – you know that. Nothing you could do to ever change that.  Give that little mini-Larry a kiss from great Aunt Connie and tell him I will meet him soon!


Camp Nana Week 5

We had a change of Camp dates for this week due to the 4th of July holiday and got a late start to the day as I attended a graveside service in the morning. We still managed to squeeze in a little Camp fun in the afternoon.

Since this was the day before the 4th of July, or as Max calls it “Ind-pendence Day”; the theme of the day was Red, White & Blue. Max painted a patriotic looking wooden train and added sparkly red, white & blue stars after the paint had dried. Abby worked on an equally patriotic wooden airplane. She is not much into spreading her stickers around a project – she likes to pile her sticky embellishments up in a stack, one by one all placed on top of the one prior.





After a little lunch and screen time, we were back to our red, white & blue projects. Next up, fireworks! White circles exploded with red, white and blue paint using a plastic fork and after a few embellishments, a handle was added to finish the project. Max had a great time making exploding noises as he held the “fireworks” high up and then fizzling out sounds on the way down.

Some reading time before we met mommy & daddy for an impromptu dinner.

January – June 2012 Photo album pages completed …Finally!

yeah yeah.  I am a bit behind in my photo albums.  Now, on to the last half of 2012.  Stay Tuned!

01 02 2012 Ashburn 01 02 2012 Max Paints 01 04 2012 Mateo 01 07 2012 Max

01 29 2012 Max 1 01 29 2012 Max 2 01 29 2012 Max 3 01 29 2012 Max 4 01 29 2012 Max 5 01 29 2012 Max 6.02 11 2012 Mateo 102 11 2012 Mateo 202 11 2012 Mateo 2a 2b02 11 2012 Mateo 302 11 2012 Mateo 402 11 2012 Mateo 502 14 2012 Alina02 20 2012 Quinn02 21 2012 Marluce02 23 2012 Chase and Quinn02 26 2012 Alina double spread03 01 2012 Max03 11 2012 Max B-day03 15 2012 Easter Invites03 16 2012 Max 03 29 2012 03 30 2012 Marluce 03 30 2012 Max 04 04 2012 04 06 2012 Marluce 04 06 2012 Mateo 04 07 2012 Marluce04 12 2012 Max and Poppa04 14 2012 Marluce04 16 201204 18 201204 19 201204 25 201205 03 201205 10 2012 105 10 2012 205 10 2012 305 10 2012 405 10 2012 505 10 2012 605 11 2012 105 11 2012 205 22 201206 04 2012 106 04 2012 206 04 2012 306 05 2012 a06 05 2012 Ashburn06 05 2012 b06 05 2012 c06 05 2012 d2012 06 20 Mateo & Marluce2012 06 21 Max at Lunch2012 06 27 Abigail Ultrasound


Camp Nana Week 3

JOYRIDE JUNKET & LETTERS LANE Our busy camp day began with a field trip to Jesse Owen’s Park with colorful bags labeled A B C to search for items from the Friday Farmer’s Market that began with those letters. Max, what do you see that begins with an A? Tomato? No, not tomato.  What sounds like a a a (Nana makes the a short vowel sound). Well, I was going to say apple first, but I only saw tomatoes! What can I say – the kid was right.  Apples are not in season here, but we did find some apple chips and apricot jam and broccoli and beans and cauliflower and two baby carrots with, much to Abby and Max’s delight, still had the little soft greens attached.  Bags in hand, we headed for the car and a quick (not so much) trip to the grocery store to pick up items for dinner. Max and Abby insisted on the cart with a car attached to the front.  It took me a while to realize that every time another shopper stopped in front of us, the toy car horn would make a series of HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK until the nice shoppers moved from in front of our cart!  I quietly explained to the sweet children that it was not very nice to honk at people because they were just shopping for their dinner as well and probably did not realize that they were in our way.  Max calmly stated that it was also not nice to block people and also not nice to say “outta the way…outta the way”.  Once again, right on both counts.  So, if I were keeping track;  image With a big old “L” on my forehead, I head for home with the toddlers in an effort to escape my shame.  Once home, a new project. ARTIST AVENUE Painters paper is taped to the floor and long white cardboard strips are laid out nicely on top of the protective paper.  Max helped to pour out washable finger paints in different areas of the paper.  Abby’s turn first … I painted different colors on the bottom of her feet and helped her press er, smear her footprints on the white cardboard.  Camp Nana Tip:  try not to use cardboard that is on the shiny side as it smears rather easily.   ]Max was next, and after a practice run, ended up with footprints of every color!  After the projects dried, Max thought of things he and Abby use their feet for while Nana wrote them next to the prints.  He was very particular about coming up with different suggestions for Abby and him.  He is such a creative and smart little guy! CULINARY CORNER Although was not too creative this week, Max enjoyed spacing the cookie dough just so and making certain that all the dough balls were approximately the same size.  He was also quite accurate on telling me when the oven temperature reached 350 and was ready to bake treats to be enjoyed at a later, cooled down, time. IMAG0315           IMAG0317


Lunch time. A little rest time. A little STORYTOWN time with Biscuit, the dog.


When the sun moved from the play yard, out came the bright pink pool and the towels.  After the pool was adequately filled, Max climbed up on the bench (a grownup bench for Nana and Poppa to observe water play) and the next thing I hear is cannonballlllll and since the bench is only a foot from the pool, and Nana was on the bench … well, I guess you can surmise the results.  Later, I was sitting by the pool on the lawn picking up some toys for Abby to play with.  Max has a little rubber fishy in his hand and a twinkle in his eye as he coaxed me “Nana, just lean over here a little bit”.  And with that, I receive a long stream of water squirting from the fishy mouth directly to my face.  As I holler and try to block the stream with my hands, I hear a belly laughing grandson.  Time for Nana to dry off and get out of this danger zone. Soon, we are dry and in fresh clothing and indulge in a bit of play dough time around the kiddie table.  We relax with books and a little Zoodles and some good all around quiet time until daddy Jeffry arrives.  Just another wonderful day at Camp Nana.

Camp Nana Week 2

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Started off with Culinary Corner fresh fruit popsicles,  constructed and some deconstructed, while tiny little fingers helped themselves to a snack.  Of course the project was peppered with “Abigail … no.  This is not to eat!” resulting in high-pitched screams from a not yet 2-year-old.  It wouldn’t be Camp Nana without a little drama.  Max takes some time to scoot a little bench over to the refrigerator, climbs and stands atop and checks out the progress of the fruit pops.

Designated screen time followed with Chuggington.  Maxwell watches intently while Abby watches, then colors in her coloring book, then gets a book, watches another minute and retreats to the bookshelf to read.  Nana has time to regroup!

We move on to Artist Avenue and begin our top secret project for Father’s Day.  Final project will be published after Father’s Day.  Let’s just say it involved a lot of paper and glue and washcloths and paper towels.  Max says he is exhausted when we finish.  Kid can’t hang with Nana.

The kids make their way to the camp table (their outdoor picnic table with a big umbrella moved to the inside of the house for June and July Camp time) for some quiet coloring time while Nana prepares lunch of pb&j (Smuckers crustless), salad, a few chips, strawberries and milk.  Max completed his lunch in record time while Abby strays from the table and has to be coaxed back,  Max reminds her that he is learning pre-K rules and in pre-K, if you leave the table, you are done with the lunch.  Abby looks up at him, grabs a chip and leaves the table and then Nana picks her up and places her back on the bench.  Max heaves a heavy sigh, realizing his advice has gone unheeded.

After lunch clean-up, we journey to Imagination Station where we are going to write our very own storybook.  Nana’s contributions are in black type, Maxwell’s in green type and Abby’s in pink.


Abby naps while Maxwell indulges in a bit of well deserved Zoodles on my phone.  Zoodles time expires, so Max and I play SNAP – a card game where, despite my quick instincts, they cannot compare to Maxwell’s unique interpretation of the rules.  As a result, I lose 26 to 14.  Hanging my head in shame, I gather up what is left of my dignity and go outdoors to fill up the swimming pool.  When Abby awakens, we are off to Wet & Wonderful Water Play.   For an hour, giggles and splashes and blowing bubbles fill the air.  Best noise ever.  Nothing like toddler giggles to make you realize what is really important in life.

This is where I am meant to be.  In this home.  In these circumstances.  Right here with my jeans now soaked from splashes and my heart so filled with the love of these two toddlers.  It was a good Camp Nana day.  A very good day indeed.

P.S.  As promised, here is the Father’s Day gift Max and Abby made for their daddy.  Abby was quite good at tearing up the papers and Max excelled at gluing, sticking on the letters, and writing his name!

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Camp Nana 2014 …

Max and Abby’s Summer Camp Nana 2014 begins next week.  One day every week in June and July will be dedicated to Camp Nana.  This year will be a bit more structured than the past years.  We will participate in 3 activities each camp day which will leave time for naps and lunches and relaxing time.


CAMP NANA 1 2014


IMAGINATION STATION will allow the kids to help write a story, dress up as a character, or take an imaginary trip!

STORY TOWN will be a great winding down activity with reading stories and relaxing.

JUNKET JOYRIDES  will be time for a “field trip”.  A trip to Pantano Stables to visit with the equine residents.  Or maybe a ride on the train at the Reid Park Zoo after visiting the animals.  Lots of places to choose from in Tucson.

SPLISH SPLASH water play in a kiddie pool.  Fishing for magnetic fishes and just some good old-fashioned splashing around.

ARTIST AVENUE will be the place for finger painting, coloring, clay molding and making fun stuff.

In the CULINARY CORNER, the kids will make family and kid friendly creations.  They may even make a dinner (with Nana’s help) for the family.

TINY TUNES will be the time for Music.  Dancing and singing and playing instruments and even making up a new song will be included.

Camp Nana T-Shirts have been ordered and are on their way – hopefully before the first day of camp!  I am collecting character and fun dress up clothes … New finger paints and Play-Dough and a large roll of crisp art paper are waiting.  Tambourines and a xylophone and some mini-recorders are ready for music making.

Off to Hobby Lobby in the morning for more supplies!



Best Gift EVER!

A few short years ago, I started a sibling Christmas gift exchange.  The reason was a simple one.  After the death of our oldest and youngest brothers, I just wanted the remaining four siblings to connect.  The idea was to be nothing fancy but should be handmade or recycled or at least had some kind of personal aspect.  We all were living in different places so far away from one another.  Lori in Grand Junction, Mark in Colorado Springs, Robin in Austin and me in Tucson.

blog map The first year I had Mark’s name and made him a calendar with footprints of his grand kids and family photos. The second year, I made Robin an ornament using some of Gram’s old costume jewelry. I cannot say what I did this year for Lori, because it would ruin her surprise!

I loved the gifts that Robin and Lori bestowed on me the previous two Christmases. This year, Mark had my name. Imagine my surprise to see a huge package all wrapped in cardboard and taped together by our front gate yesterday. As soon as I began cutting the tape, I realized just what my gift from the heart was.

Some years back, with the blessing of Gram,  I signed over the deed to her house to her niece, whom I affectionately called Sissy.