in spite of stay home & stay safe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

it is late

The kitchen is clean. The dishwasher is gently humming while water spills into the washing machine over the dozen cloths used as napkins and the many towels used for the meal prep. The wood scraps used as some type of Barbie yoga retreat have been returned to the wood bin. The patio and sidewalks are still alive with the vibrant chalk art of two little girls. The house is quiet as another Sunday family dinner is done.

I so love these times. The prep and cooking take a large part of the day. The patio tables are set with simple place settings and chairs are scattered between the two tables. As the house fills with greetings and conversation and baby squeals, plates are filled and drinks are poured as the house empties on to the patio. Conversation quiets for a bit except the clang of the silverware against the plates. (Yeah – we mostly use regular dinnerware out there. I can’t help myself.)

As dinner comes to an end and dessert has been served, kids are playing; guests are loading the dishwasher and we settle down for some evening conversation before everyone begins to head home.

Another evening of family time and my heart is full.

trunk or treating

the gloves are off

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

go to the mattresses

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

gobsmacked

  1. so surprised that they cannot speak

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

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

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

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

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

maybe next year …

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live jousting!
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now what kid could resist candy from a life sized dragon?
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make a grand entrance?

Or maybe just one of these simple treat displays.
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I had better start planning for this right away! Cotton candy …hrumph!

up, up and away

This morning we have a lazy few hours with Max and Abby watching television cartoons. I am folding the clean laundry (I have a rule about travelling with dirty laundry) and when I need their assistance and call their name, they respond with a karate stance and a sharp “ma’am! Yes ma’am!!) They lighten my slightly sad mood as I realize this is the last morning of Nana Vacation time, and now I will have to share them again.

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

Packed up our beautiful little condo for 5 days and then out and about to say good-bye to Victoria before we have to head to the airport.

It’s a good thing that we are leaving the dangerous downtown of Victoria. The kids were almost eaten by a Canadian bear!! Poor little things were terrified.

To celebrate their survival, we hop on our final Victoria Taxi and made our way to the Victoria airport to meet up with Jeffry and Kerri in Calgary.

Almost everyone of these taxi’s we used (and we used them at least twice a day!) were all Prius cars as Victoria prides herself on keeping green. The Unites States could take some lessons from Canada. Going green is just one of them. The other major one is how British Columbia tries to save historical buildings – or at least their facades and architecture – even if they will be renovated for use other than what was originally intended. I understand how a sleek modern building may be the desirous effect of the moment, the beauty and history of the old is far more interesting to me. And I think by discarding them, we do our younger generations a disservice and rob them of the importance of our past. That is just this Gdovin Girl’s perspective.

This old Catholic church in BC was restored and has been used as an art gallery.

The Empress Hotel in 1908 and then today.

Late lunch at the White Spot in the Victoria Airport before winging our way to Calgary. Jeffry and Kerri met us with a rental car and the GPS loaded for our drive to Red Deer, Alberta – Kerri’s hometown, and then to our Airbnb for a week. Of course the little ones were very excited to get hugs from mommy and daddy and jabbered about their adventures and the plans for upcoming family get-togethers as we navigated our way to Red Deer.

On our way …

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

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

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

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

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

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.

my 2018

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

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

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.

 

last day of fun and sun in Canada

 

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It’s About Family Fun

32 Family-friendly rides! High-energy entertainment! Tempting treats! Calaway Park has something for everyone!  As Western Canada’s Largest Outdoor Family Amusement Park, Calaway Park has been offering affordable, family- friendly fun and entertainment for over three decades.  Ever since the award-winning theme park first opened its doors in 1982, Calaway Park has built on our well-deserved reputation for excellence by offering the best attractions, no less than 32 rides designed for thrill-seekers of all ages and beautifully choreographed, high-energy entertainment.  I enjoyed the outdoor shows and watching little ones on rides.

After a full day of rides and water and snacks and entertainment, it was time to head out to our hotel, which is attached to the Calgary Int’l Airport.   Wonderful concept.  Not only beautiful, but how convenient!  We had a great dinner at Image result for montana's steakhouse in Calgary airport

and we were so ready for real food instead of fast food, and Montana’s delivered.  While Kerri and I relaxed after dinner, Jeffry and the kids made their way out to the escalators to discover just how and why the escalators would speed up and then slow down.  Thank goodness they figured it out so that burning question would not be mulling in our minds!

The hotel was as expected for a Marriott – always beautiful and scrumptiously soft and yummy bedding.  Also, very relaxing and quiet, given the fact that our hotel room windows looked out over the runways,  landing strips and docks.  Thumbs up!

on the road

We all pitched in and cleaned our little rental house, packed up the van and headed off for a day trip of sightseeing on our way to Calgary.  First up – Image result in Red Deer.  Tim Hortons Inc. is a Canadian multinational fast food restaurant known for its coffee and donuts.  Breakfast sandwiches for the ladies and donuts for the kids and their daddy.  

We weren’t too far into the trip when Jeffry confiscated my phone with my 136 songs because he determined that I was singing too loud.  Jeffry doesn’t have much of a poker face, so it wasn’t all that difficult to figure out who took the phone!

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He did make up for the theft by tuning the radio to the Beatles channel.  Sightseeing beautiful Canada AND the Beatles – nothing better!  First stop …

LAKE LOUISE and Mount Michener, with a 2,545 m (8,350 ft) peak, is a mountain on the eastern border of the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, Canada. It forms the northerly part of the Ram Range. The mountain sits on the shore of Abraham Lake.  The waters are a light Tiffany green-blue.  I have never seen that color water before.  Pretty amazing.  Photos do not do it justice.  As the melt water from a glacier that feeds a lake starts to flow in the spring time it carries with it glacier silt or rock flour. The silt is created when rocks underneath the surface of the ice are grinding from the movement of the glacier. The rock flour is very light and stays suspended in the lake water for a long time. The sunlight that reflects off this rock flour is what gives the lakes their spectacular turquoise blue or green colour.

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 Note:  Kerri is the only one who doesn’t look like a crazy tourist.  She’s a Canadian.

Look at the view from The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont hotel on the eastern shore of Lake Louise, near Banff, Alberta. The original hotel was gradually developed at the turn of the 20th century by the Canadian Pacific Railway and was thus “kin” to its predecessors, the Banff Springs Hotel and the Château Frontenac. The hotel’s wooden Rattenbury Wing was destroyed by fire on 3 July 1924, and was replaced by the current Barrot Wing one year later. The Painter Wing, built in 1913, is the oldest existing portion of the hotel. The Mount Temple Wing, opened in 2004, is the most recent wing and features modern function facilities; these include the Mount Temple Ballroom.  The hotel was first conceived by the railway at the end of the 19th century, as a vacation destination to lure moneyed travelers into taking trains and heading West. By the time airplanes and automobiles had displaced the trains, it had gained sufficient renown to have a life of its own. In 1999, Canadian Pacific Hotels (a division of the Canadian Pacific Railway) acquired Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, and adopted the Fairmont name for all of its hotels, resulting in the Chateau Lake Louise being operated as a Fairmont hotel.  Rate is from $1199.00 CAD per room, per night based on double occupancy.  Offer is available for one or two bedroom suite bookings.

Oh yeah!  We will definitely stay there next trip.

Of course, we found our way to a cute shopping area near Lake Louise for a few souvenirs and some lunch.  Max and Abby were very happy to spend their Canadian dollars.

 

 

 

 

 

And we are off for more exploration!

        

ma·jes·tic
məˈjestik/
adjective
  1. having or showing impressive beauty or dignity.
    synonyms: Statelydignifieddistinguishedsolemnmagnificentgrandsplendidresplendentglorioussumptuousimpressiveaugustnoble,

     awe-inspiringmonumentalpalatial

yes.  all of the above.

Off we go to Canmore and Best Western!  Beautiful hotel and amazing rooms.  Fireplace.  Walk in shower as big as my house…well, almost.  Reading and work nook.  Very nice.  “Okay, ma’am.  we have upgrades you to an executive room today and the charge is $289.  A little steep, but it is only one night, so go ahead and splurge.”  The little song from Moana is playing in my head “you’re welcome!”

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Jeffry’s turn and since he booked way in advance, this should go fast.  “Thanks for waiting sir.  Okay, your standard room with 2 Queen beds will be $499.  Will that be check or charge?”  I watch the color drain from Jeffry’s face and I am wondering if he will pass out right here in the lobby.  A few seconds pass and he calmly says “that cannot possibly be right”.  Um, unfortunately it was.  After an hour on the phone with the booking company it was finally reduced to the same price as mine.  Whew.  For that price per room, they had better bathe me in bubbles, do my hair, mani-pedi and give me a new outfit with shoes and purse to match!

Tomorrow we hit Calgary – with some fun in between.

back in time

I worked most of today.  But, took a little time to visit Kerri’s childhood home in Red Deer – and I so want to restore this house!!  Look at those windows and the covered porch.

and then to Kerri’s Elementary school – Grandview – where we turned the grand kids loose on the playground.  I wish the school had been open, so Max and Abby could visit the classrooms where their Mommy most likely got her bug for teaching.

Waskasoo Park

Today, we ventured out to Waskasoo Park in Red Deer … featuring the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, the Aspen Parkland and the Cronquist House.   Seems like Red Deer and the surrounding area is peppered with natural areas like this and provide for an abundance of daily outings (and let’s not forget learning opportunities for the little ones)  without even leaving town.  After a quick tour through the Centre, we embark on a nature walk.

I fell in love with this painting.  Amazing to see what our minds are muddled with these days.  Something to think about.  Get it?? Think about?

Maxwell especially enjoyed knocking his daddy off of the rope.

After a picnic lunch, Jeffry and I opted to tour the Cronquist House (thinking it was a museum) while the others ventured out in a paddle boat.  We soon found the museum to be a tea house.  

Not really our thing, so we spotted a tandem that would seem to be a lot more adventure than sipping tea.  And off we pedaled.

 

say cheese

group photo

Morning photo shoot with Kerri’s big Canadian Family (and a couple of American’s tossed in for good measure) at her Aunt Arlene’s home.  Afterwards, an old fashioned BBQ picnic at Aunt Linda’s.  I must say that the family was wonderful and the food was great.  But, oh … the amazing gorgeous outdoor area was a whole other story!  I cannot really call it her yard because it was so huge!

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This carrot cake was scrumptious – just a side note!

Doesn’t matter which country, Abby has Papa wrapped around her little little finger.

She knows it and he relishes it.

Chris Mundle rented a jumping castle for the day and kids of all ages enjoyed it.

Best idea ever.

There were lots of introductions and how are you related and great food.  There was water balloon fights between the cousins – a tradition as I understand it.  Lots of photography and clean up and long walks on a beautiful property with some really good people.  So happy to be invited along on this trip to our neighbor up north.

O Canada! Our home and native land!

Okay, it isn’t MY native land.  Still, when in Rome …

 

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We made it!  Calgary International Airport.  I feel more relaxed already.  After a short pause for a photo-op, we are on the way to the car rental for the not too far drive to Red Deer, Alberta.

And this charmer is our home for 6 days!

An immaculate 2 bedroom home complete with a well stocked refrig and lawn games for the kids.  All of the kids!  Perfect!  As we settled in with luggage and setting up our little spaces, I decided I would share the room with Max and Abby and let Jeffry & Kerri have a bit of a break with their own room.   Not really much sharing as our room was ginormous – I had a double bed on one side of the room and there were twin beds on the other side – one with blue linens and one with pink.  Abby arranged her toys and books on her side of the table and Maxwell found a little cabinet which suited his Pokemon collection just fine.  They each put their clothes in little cubbies in the closet and were well satisfied with their areas.  It was so cute to see them try to carefully put their items here and there, and although it kind of looked a hot mess to me, they stood back and studied the progress they made and I could tell they were thinking “well done”.  So what if Max hung his underwear on the little hooks in the closet?  To him it was logical as he could just grab one each day.  Very handy!  They didn’t have to be told what to do – they just did it.  There was no fighting and lots of “here, Abby – you can put some stuff right here”.  That’s my grand kids!

every once in awhile

if you are very blessed; someone makes their way into your life and settles right smack dab in the middle of your heart and stays put.

Never mind that you may be acting the fool or laughing at the wrong times or drowning in your own tears and self-pity.  Never mind that a million things are swirling around her brain with kids and work and home and family and couple of dozen tiny humans vying for her attention eight hours a day.  Never mind that exhaustion is setting in and her eyes and mind are craving sleep, but is still inviting of family dropping by.

Yes.  IF you are very blessed, someone makes their way into your life and settles right smack dab in the middle of your heart and stays put.  And her name is Kerri Anne.  She engages with her child while engaging with you and somehow gives 100% attention to both.  And sometimes, she cries because she senses your pain.  And sometimes she smiles because she understands.  But mostly, she laughs.  She laughs at a husband who can be not so easy to laugh with all the time.  She laughs at his intellectual humor and she laughs at his goofy humor.  And as she hides her face in her hands, attempting to wipe the streaming tears, her shoulders are shaking and the high-pitched squeak of a laugh can be heard here and there.

And the husband knows that his mission is complete.  He has taken a beautiful and graceful young woman and dissolved her into a beautiful and graceful mess of laughter and tears and an occasional sniffle and snort.  And Kerri ends with the same post script each time …You are such an idiot.

and life is good.

Blog 2016 02 21

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

Mission POSSIBLE

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.

2014 Gdovins and More Family Reunion Day 4

Thanksgiving Day.  Couldn’t have asked for nicer weather.  Jeffry and Kerri and the grandkids arrived the night before, and we had planned on getting together for Thanksgiving Dinner at a local buffet.  Mateo and Marluce and I were ready to make the trek to Whitewater to pick up Gramma Anne to join us for some family time.  I was quite proud of myself that I kind of winged my way to her home!  Mateo got out of the backseat and held her arm as she got situated in the front seat.  He is quite the little gentleman!  I could tell that  Anne was quite taken with him.  We were off to meet the other Gardners for an early dinner!

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 And now, outdoors to enjoy some beautiful Thanksgiving weather and family photography!IMG_3244

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After dropping off Gramma Anne at her house, I took the kids over to meet Dennis & Sandra Forsgren.  Dennis was married to Bob’s sister, Linda until Linda was killed in a vehicle accident in 1996.  Dennis was and remains a part of our family and close to my heart.  A really nice visit followed – so nice to catch up.

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Dennis actually owns the house that Gramma Anne resides.  Don’t know why I cannot find anymore info on it, as that house was the original Whitewater Post Office.  There is still a little side door that had the US Post Office in that old gold script.  I would think it would be listed as a historical place, but I literally cannot find anything as far as research.

After a brief respite at our hotel room to let the kids lay around and wrestle a bit and me to do a tad of accounting, Robin and Alina rolled into town after a 2-day drive from Austin.  We all met up at Denny’s for dinner and laughter and general catching up.  It gave Robin a chance to meet Mateo and Marluce and for me to meet Alina.  She is a sweet and precocious 3-year old with silky dark hair and brown eyes on the verge of turning green.  What a beauty!robin1 robin2

We had a wonderful day, albeit a tad long. Lots of family visiting. Lots of laughter and conversation. Lots to be Thankful. Back to the hotel early. In our pjs and the kids played their games on iPad while I caught up on some blogging and accounting. Good times.

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

 

Monday Tuesday Happy Days . Wednesday, Thursday …

albums You have most likely read it here before, but if you missed it – Wednesdays are now Family Dinner night at our house.  The nights change once in a while when Jeffry and Kerri begin new kickball seasons.  For now, Wednesday it is.  Tonight was Retro Diner themed.  Max and I shopped at the local party store for some plates and napkins and mini banana split cups.  (Okay, they are really plastic martini cups, but you make do with what you find.  And since we are not a martini imbibing family, no one seemed to notice anyway!)

The announcement was made on the new family chalkboard mounted right on our front door.  (Doesn’t everyone have a chalkboard on their front door??).  And the most important part of the announcement – Bow Ties are required.

Chalkboard

Max and I worked on making 5 bow ties from scrapbook paper and jewels!  Max’s favorite part of this Camp Nana project was cutting paper.  And then cutting some more paper.  And, well, then cutting a bit more paper.  He makes great confetti!  We set the table with retro blue and pink plates and napkins and silverware, atop the 1950’s tablecloth we found the day before.  We even put markers out for everyone to enjoy writing on the tablecloth.  Dinner was finally served with hamburgers plated with lettuce, tomato and onion using the style of the Woolworth’s counter service on Main Street of Grand Junction.  Home made fries (note:  if you want to make homemade fries, google the recipe from Guy Fieri – but remember to add some prep time because these things take a while to brown up!)., cheese pizza and grilled cheese were also on the menu.  Even Abby got to dine on some organic mac ‘n cheese, just like her big brother.  Max had milk while the adults enjoyed old-fashioned bottled root beer and creme soda.

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The evening ended with mini banana splits where Max was treated to his first ever spray of whipped cream right into the mouth!

I urge you to try a retro diner dinner – although this was more work than most of the other dinners, it was worth the fun.

Ser up your own retro dinner, and until then, HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU….UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN! 

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and then as quickly as they arrived … it was time for them to depart.

Ricky and Mateo and Marluce left early in the morning for the airport and their return trip to beautiful northern Virginia.  The paints and crafts were all back in their rightful place.  The house was too quiet.  Nobody asking for snacks.  Nobody asking to play in the water.  Nobody trying to talk their daddy into a little more screen time.  Just the quiet.

I do not accompany my kids to airports, if I can avoid it.  I am too emotional.  Watching them walk into the building and having them beyond my grasp is just too much.  So, I leave that to the other son or the husband.  Although, I am certain you wouldn’t have to look too close to see a tear in Jeffry’s eye as the glass doors of TIA closed behind them.

I remember the many times we would leave Grandma Tabor’s house for our return trip to Grand Junction, and we silently giggled at the fact that “uh oh.  Grandma is crying again”.  I think I can hear her voice in my ear asking “well, how do YOU like it?”

I don’t, Gram.  I don’t like it at all.

TIA sunrise

a crazy little thing called LIFE

I am getting way too familiar with all the wings at Tucson Medical Center.  I know how to get to each ward, the emergency room and (very important here) the cafeteria.  Not for their food as I compare all hospital food to my days at St Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction where you could get mashed potatoes (real ones) a fried chicken leg (so yummy) and a regular old piece of Holsum bread with real butter for a buck something and it was like having dinner at home.  This was a staple of mine during my employment as a nurse’s aide and later on working in the nursing office.  Nowadays in hospitals, there is always a conglomeration of some type of casserole,  Not my cup of tea.  So, no, it is not for the food.  It is because it has big tables and I know which ones have outlets near them so I can spread out my accounting and work while Bob is sleeping or in surgery.  It helps to have numbers bumping back and forth in my brain to counteract the medical jargon and talk of transplants and heart stents and blood sugars and more.  Numbers make sense to me.  Medicine, not so much.  So another 30 days with ambulances and 3 hospitalizations and surgery and waiting.  Hubs is home from the various hospital visits now and for the time being, is doing well.

Saturday I open the freezer door and see that the ice in the ice tray is melting.  WHAT?  I listen with ear pressed against the refrigerator door.  Nothing.  Not the usual compressor noise kicking on and off.  Must be the breaker.  Move everything away from the door to the fuse box.  All breakers are in their proper place.  Well, that can’t be good.  I hear something …  is it a bird?  Is it a plane?? NO – it’s SUPERSONS!  And a brand new refrigerator is delivered on the morning of Mother’s Day.  My boys saved me and what a relief having someone take care of me while Bob is in the hospital.  I am forever in their debt.

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Mothers Day Brunch for Kerri, Maggie and me at the University Marriott, where we were treated to a yummy buffet, a box of chocolates, Abby singing but also to watching Max riding in the glass elevator with Mahmaw waving until his little arm almost fell off!  Then, up to the Mundle’s room for Mimosa’s.  Yummy!2013 mothers day 1

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In the meantime, we are having our Friday Family Dinners and Abby visits on Monday and Tuesday while Max maintains his Thursday-Friday routine at Nana’s and Poppa’s house.

Look what I can do, nana!
Look what I can do, nana!

 Max pulls his shirt up over the back of his head and reminds me of those elves on JibJab!  He is proud of this new accomplishment and demonstrates various versions of this feat, shirt over the back of the head and the shirt over his face.  This goes on for much of the afternoon.  Amazing!

I announce the annual Camp NANA in chalk on the back patio.  Max is impressed.  Max is so impressed that shortly after he sees it, I hear the unmistakable sound of hose water and see that he has entirely washed my promo away.  Fame is so fleeting.

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Friends and family have been so supportive during this very trying past couple of weeks.  My gratitude to everyone!

Meanwhile … back east in Virginia, swimming lessons for Mateo and Marluce!  And they are flourishing in the water!  Cannot wait to watch them swim in person!  Love you kids!

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and the time WHOOSHES by …

Days fly by so fast that I can barely keep up!  Trying to get ready for my 2 week long trip to Virginia and a birthday moustache bash and still working my accounting and housework and laundry, OH MY!  Well, the 3rd birthday part for Mr Max was quite a success.  Moustaches and balloons were everywhere.  Kids were laughing and playing and Bob and Tom and Jeffry and Jamie were all kibitzing.  Mahmaw and O Canada Poppa were running back and forth making sure all of the guests were fed and recycle items picked up and in general, making the entire affaire seamless!  Kerri had everything so well thought out and executed.  Such a clever young lady!  Just look!

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complete with PB&J moustache sandwiches, Root Beer Floats and Warm Popcorn!  Max was a perfect gentleman, thanking each person for their gift and hugs all around!  On Monday, Miss Abigail came to visit and was charming as ever.  We strolled around the neighborhood and she was not shy about telling Nana what she thought when I had to stop to do something or wait for a car!

abbyCarriage 1While shopping for a snack to take on my plane trip to Virginia – I found this HUGE bag of carrots.  Just why  would someone need a 25 pound bag of carrots??  Have to think on that one.  really big carrots

My flights to Virginia were great!  Each leg I had a window seat and each leg, the aisle seat and I had the middle seat open so we could share it to hold our stuff  Bonus!  I could have sworn the guy on the 2nd leg of the flight was Anderson Cooper –  until he mentioned that he worked for Hilton Hotels!  Glad I did not ask for his autograph.

Landed at DCA Regan and Ricky was right there waiting for me.  Very late dinner at Amphora Diner and then home to hugs from Katia and Gloria and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Once Upon a Time …

There was a little blond hair blue eyed boy who wriggled his way into my heart just when I thought there would be no more babies.  There had been a miscarriage in 1970 and a first baby in 1971.  Three more miscarriages and another baby in 1976.  Another miscarriage followed.  I kept secretly wishing that I would be blessed with just one more, but really thinking that, at age 31, my baby time was finished.

So, imagine my surprise after returning home from an unbelievable week in New York City, only to find out that another blessing was going to be mine.  And he was mine.  All mine.  Until,

along came a little blond hair blue eyed girl who wriggled her way into my heart.  And his.  And there were awards ceremonies graduations and white ropes and gold ropes and scholarships and cum laude and magna cum laude and blended family gatherings and an unforgettable wedding celebration and a honeymoon in Jamaica and a new home.

Then the magic happened … a little blond hair blue eyed boy who wriggled his way into my heart followed by a tiny dark haired beauty who is already learning how to wrap me around her little finger.

Behold.  Two little Valentines who make Nana’s heart so happy!

MAX WITH HIS TOY HAMMER –
THIS KID KNOWS HOW TO SMASH THE CRACKERS TO BREAD THE PORK CHOPS!
ABBY MODELS HER NEW HAT FROM NANA & POPPA!
WATCH FOR HER IN VOGUE IN 15 YEARS!

My WEEK in Review

Almost finished Mateo’s Birthday Adventure.  While his birthday is actually on February 10th (Gee, the nicest people seem to be born in February, don’t you think?), he will actually have his Birthday Adventure, commonly known as the Escape to Arlington, on Saturday February 16th.

Here is a sneak peek:  tickets to a kids improv comedy show, dinner at the Metro 29 as featured on Diner’s Drive Ins and Dives on Food Network with Guy Fieri (we dined there several times when we lived back there and it was excellent every time!) and custom cookies from Monster Cookies being delivered to Mateo and his dinner guests!

pancakes and milk shakes and french fries, OH MY
Cha Ching has an envelope behind with the dinner money!
Mario Bros / Luigi custom cookies will be delivered to
Mateo for his guests to enjoy!

Jeffry and I were treated to Birthday Dinner at Mays Counter Chicken & Waffles – a new diner here in Tucson!  Thank you Kerri and Maxwell and Abigail for a lovely evening.

By the way, the ladies from GJHS class of ’70 and I have made a pact.  60 is as old as we are getting.  This year and every year will be my 60th.  A deal is a deal!

Maxwell and I made LUV BUGS as our Friday Family Dinner place cards this week.  I peeled off the sticky backing while Maxwell placed everything just so!  He really did a nice job and always is so proud of himself when he completes a “job”.

We also had a great idea to make the entire back patio Valentine’s Hearts.  And by the we, I mean that Max told me what color to use and where to draw the heart.  He was sick and tired of having to wipe chalk from his hands.  “You do it, Nana”.

To top off a pretty nice week, I won this beauty from ReChique on FB:
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I found this great book at OfficeMax for only $5 and Max cannot get enough of it!  Poppa has read it twice, Nana three times, and his mommy has read it four times.  This is what people in other states call a jackpot – here in Arizona it is known as a GONGA!

For the rest of the week, I have planned on playing accounting catch up!  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Happy Birthday, Cristopher Chase!

Almost 3 years old.

Chase finds the perfect Christmas tree for his house.
2002 – Chase patiently poses for Grandma.
Visiting Tucson from North Carolina.
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2006
at baby shower for the birth of Quinn
in Greensboro NC
The baby shower came and went. Thanksgiving was over and Christmas was just a memory. The date of January 30, 1997 was set and I thought that it would feel to me just like any other day. After all, I had delivered three babies myself. Just how exciting could this be to an “outsider”? I dressed and readied myself to go to St Joseph’s Hospital with the intention of checking in for a few moments with your Mom and Dad and then I would leave them to experience this wonder – this miracle – you!
I entered the hospital room with a basket of goodies that I made for this special day – lullaby cd’s, onesies, lotions for a very tiny you and some for your Mommy and so many other things. I gave both Cristopher and Sherrie my love and after hugs, I returned to my car in the parking lot. As I guided the car to the road, I found myself heading to your Uncle Jeffry’s school. I walked into the office and signed Jeffry out for the rest of the day. He ran to meet me in the school office and told me he was finishing an extra credit problem in Algebra and would return as soon as he turned his paper in to the teacher. I waited somewhat impatiently, tapping my fingers on the office counter and touting my story to anyone who would listen that I was going to meet my first Grandson!
Jeffry and I rushed to the hospital. While he was excited, I found myself in somewhat of a panic mode that I would not get to the hospital in time to hear the announcement of your birth. Fears were relieved as Jeffry and I walked in the room and had time to visit with your Mom and Dad before Sherrie was wheeled away by Cristopher and the attending nurses.
Within fifteen minutes, out walked my first son cuddling my first grandson in his arms. With just a simple “here he is, Mom”, He walked closer so I could get a better look and then states matter of fact that he had to get you back to the nurses so they could clean you up and check your vitals. Tears flooded my eyes so I could barely see your little face and any words I had planned on saying just got lost in my throat. Just then, Jeffry returned to the waiting area with your Grandpa in tow. I told myself that now I could go home and get back to my day, Instead, I found myself glued to the bench in front of the nursery windows; staring at you – Grandma’s tiny little blessing.
In between January 30 1997 and January 30 2013, all of our lives have taken many different turns. I have not seen you or heard your voice in four years. And now you are a young man of sixteen and I cannot even wrap my mind around that. You are in High School and have a part-time job and these facts simply astound me.
Happy Birthday, Cristopher Chase. I think of you each and every day. One day we will be together again and we will have a lot of catching up to do! Until that time, be well, be healthy and be happy. I love you, Buddy.
Your Grandma.

Family Dinners

On the television show, Blue Bloods, the entire tv family enjoys (or not) a family dinner each Sunday after attending Mass.

Emily Gilmore required the attendance of her daughter and granddaughter every Friday evening for dinner.

When I was young, it was understood that Sunday dinner attendance was not just expected, but mandatory.  Not in a bad way – just a fact that Sunday dinner was at 2 pm and we all knew to gather around the table at that time.  Sunday dinners were always the best dinners.  Not only the roast beef or the traditional fried chicken or ham with the skin covered with cloves; but the conversations were lighter and school grades and homework were not mentioned.  Oh sure, the kids still always cleaned up after the big dinners, but, for some reason, we didn’t seem to mind.  And later, around 7 when our stomachs would begin to rumble, the leftovers were almost as good as Thanksgiving.

Well, now we have family dinner night and tonight was our very first one.  And so Poppa grilled chicken on the barby and I made yummy cheesy potatoes and the requisite mac ‘n cheese for Max.  Bob and Jeffry and Kerri and Maxwell found a seat at the table as I got drinks for all.   Abby cooed at her Daddy.  Conversations were varied and peppered with a little voice “excuse me excuse me excuse me” so Max could update us on the latest idea that had popped into his amazing mind.  Afterwards, Max thanks me for making a family dinner!  he melts my heart.  Maybe next Friday will be Italian food!!

This is gonna be fun.

2012 in retrospect …

in January I received a video of my beautiful granddaughter, Marluce in her ballerina glory.
and my handsome grandson, Mateo,  on keyboard!
My hubby survived another back surgery – not without some scary issues during his hospital stay, causing Jeffry and I to panic a bit and making unscheduled trips to TMC.  We even brought home a small plastic container of now unnecessary hardware and bolts and screws and rods which still reside in one of his tool boxes as a souvenir, I guess.  5 weeks later, Bob was admitted to UMC to remove one of his kidneys for cancer.  We were lucky as the cancer was completely enclosed inside the failed kidney and there was no need for any further treatment.  Once again, there were breathing and heart rate complications which had Jeffry and I running back and forth again.  I cannot describe how that feels to be summoned by the hospital while a nurse matter of factly states “I think you should come here now”.  Scared is way too mild of a word.
Bob and I retrieved the old 1969 Rahleigh Robin Hood side by side tandem bike and put it back together.  Our plans are to restore  refurbish these and paint one black and paint one white for engagement/wedding/anniversary photo shoots.  Of course, here it is, December 31st and we haven’t even started.  But, we still have plans!

 

In February, I was able to steal a couple of photos of my Grandson, Cristopher Chase and Granddaughter, Quinn Ariana from my ex daughter in law’s facebook site.  Then she blocked me, but not before I stole a few more.  I would love to spend time with them and include them in family events, but that is not to be, so I take what I can steal er, get!  Chase is 15 in this photo and Quinn is 5.  Chase looks like his dad and Quinn looks so much like Tristan did at that same age.
Marluce recreated Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman” as she pumps gas in the car in Virginia.
 Hey, is that even legal??

 

 

 

 

Mateo’s 8th Birthday Adventure!  Mateo has a passion for all things weather and absolutely loves watching the weather channel and learning about tornadoes and hurricanes and anything else to do with the weather.  So, we thought this would be an ideal birthday adventure for him.

 

In March, Maxwell turned 2 and his mommy and daddy threw a huge birthday bash with lots of guests and food and a bazillion balloons.  Safe to say that all of us had a wonderful time, but none more than the Birthday Boy himself.

Marluce and Mateo always enjoy getting packages in the mail – and Grandma here always enjoys sending them.  Happy Easter with lots of Love!

 

 

 

 

Marluce turned 6 years old on March 30th, and her birthday adventure was customized just for her!

On April 5th, we quietly celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary.  We didn’t need a big hoopla.  Just each other.  (an excerpt from my life story)

If memory serves, September 5, 1967 was the first day of high school and the first time we met. You were a tough looking street kid with a smart-assed attitude. I am not sure just why I was drawn to you at the time, but I was. I was modest and not at all street-wise and obviously reared in an entirely different environment than you experienced. You clearly showed an interest in me with your playful glances and funny comments. My older brother, Jay, put it this way: “here you were, Miss Polly Pure Heart and along came this James Dean wanna be with cigarettes rolled up in his t-shirt sleeve and a beer in hand. Of course you were going to fall for him.”
To say you did not always attend first hour geometry class would be an understatement of immense proportion. To put it in plain speak, you rarely attended most classes. I found myself distracted when you were not in Geometry class. It was the only class we ever had together and even though geometry was a difficult subject for me to grasp (and still is), I felt more confident and at ease when you actually did show up for class. I guess even then, barely knowing each other, you somehow made me feel comfortable and protected. I tried not to let you see that side of me, but I think you had it all figured out. And, yes, I did know that you stared at my legs most of the class time.
I often wondered why you never finished your sophomore year. I know you did not experience the support of a family at home. Looking back, I think you were lost and possibly felt you had nothing to offer high school and high school had nothing to offer your life. You worked. You drank way too much. You dated the wrong girls (well, of course I would say that) and you wandered. I never even realized in my naiveté, there was even a choice on attending school. It was a given in my life and I never thought of it any other way. You, like geometry, were a foreign concept. I am not sure that I have ever figured you out completely.   (more)    gdovin girl

 

 

 

 

 

 Easter was such a fun day as we entertained family and friends.  Guests were on the back patio and in the house and on the front yard swing – eating, laughing and playing with the little ones.

 

Mother’s Day was celebrated at the Doubletree Sunday Buffet with the Mundle Family and the lil Gardners.  After the scrumptious buffet, Maxwell and I took a walk on the beautiful green grounds to work off a few calories.

My first grandchild, Tristan Lee became engaged to Drake Shumaker in Farmville Virginia.  So happy for them both and looking forward to meeting a new grandson in law.  This little girl (yes, she is still a little girl to me) deserves all of the love and happiness that comes her way.  I love you so much, Sassy Marie!

In June, Max got to show off his computer savvy while Poppa was not around!

 

Max receives July mail in his very own mailbox!  And he shows off  his bounty!

 

 

 

 

 

I wish I could have attended Marluce’s first official Yard Sale in August in the backyard of her home in Ashburn Virginia.  I am sure I would have found something that I needed to purchase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katia and Kiddies –  smiles and hugs.
And the be all and end all of the month of August …

Max continues his culinary career with his signature dish of milk, crackers, cereal grapes and strawberries.  I think we all see, the Next Iron Chef.

 

Early September, Bob and I worked on laying a laminate maple flooring in the kitchen/dining area of the little house.  Max decided to assist us placing the planks the way he thought they should go.  After a hard days work, he relaxed in a livingroom tent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mid September was a great getaway to Oceanside California for the beach wedding of Kyle Harvey & Megan Mundle.  Lots of fun activities, a beautiful wedding and a surprise baby shower for Kerri filled the entire week and I enjoyed every moment of the time.  We shared a condo with the lil Gardners which was a little piece of  heaven compared to staying in a hotel room.  And the additional time playing with Max was just an added bonus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We spent a day in October at the Agua Linda Farm.  Went thru the pumpkin patch and climbed on the hay bales.  We had a picnic and watched Max ride a horse for the very first time.  We walked thru the petting zoo and made friends with the billy goats.  A perfect way to kick off the fall season.

November brought the most amazing reason to give thanks … she is petite and opinionated and loved and her name is Abigail Anne; Abby to us.  The sweetest little bundle ever.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving in Virginia has Marluce slaving away in the kitchen making her first pumpkin pie.

 

While my retro Flair oven contributed to Thanksgiving dinner at the Mundle home.

Family and Friends enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at Chris & Maggie’s with beautiful Tucson weather in their gorgeous and inviting backyard.

 

 

 

 

After returning to Tucson, we finally resumed our annual Holiday Open House hosting around 26-30 guests during an early evening.  Food was aplenty and catching up with people we love and rarely get the time to see.  Got caught up so much in our guests, totally forgot to take any photos.  Now THAT is a first for us.  We so enjoyed all of the company and conversation and funny stories. Next year – lots of photos!
I won’t repost my recent Christmas Eve events since I just posted, but suffice it to say it goes down in my holiday history as one of the best ever.  I am still smiling.   Christmas Day was a relaxing day of early morning visits with the kids and Mundles and Max and Abby while Maggie served scrumptious french toast and Max opened gifts.  Max, taking some time to show his gifts to his audience, enjoyed each and every moment.   Received a really nice phone call from Ricky which is always a treat.  Later on, a yummy honey baked ham dinner at Chris and Maggie’s with Matt and the kids and grandbabies topped off a wonderful Christmas 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 And now, as 2013 is almost upon us, we hope for a healthier New Year for Bob and friends and family needing hope.  We wish to be able to reconnect with family members in the summer in Colorado.  And most of all, we wish for a gentler world this coming year.  It could happen.

as the years fly BY

Before our first child was even born, I began saving.  Just little things.  Notes from a friend; cards from special people in my life; movie tickets from a favorite show – just stuff like that.  I thought it would be fun for the kids and grand kids to look thru after I am gone and enjoy making up their own stories of why this note or what did the teacher mean by that?  One cubbie contains a note from 5 year old Jeffry to me somewhat as follows:  “dear mom.  Ricky would not let me have a peice of my candie and you said I cud have it so will you plese talk to him about this?’  Just a small example of the fun stuff I have saved.

I have stored them all in little plastic boxes with lids and labeled by the years since 1970.  I walked into Home Goods and voila!  This had to be made especially for me!  I mean, why else would I come face to face with such a piece of memorabilia furniture!  And what a price at only $199.  Alas, I walked away from the cabinet with a heavy heart.  I will hate it when I go back in that store and see that someone else with the same vision has taken it home.

I may even cry.

trick or TREAT

Oct 2003 Kerri & Connie at a Halloween Concert in Tucson
We picked up a couple of Wizards after the concert.
Really never was much of a big Halloween fan.  Oh, when I was a child I was a huge fan just because I had a ton of dance costumes to choose from recitals – so what to wear was never a problem.  And since it was back in the 50’s and 60’s, we could roam for hours by ourselves collecting candy from strangers with no worries.  We knew which houses to hit first as they always gave out real size candy bars!  One Halloween, Mom made all of the fixings for popcorn balls of all colors.  Kids could come right inside the kitchen (front door wide open) and plunk down their bags and take off their coats and dig in to the warm gooey popcorn concoction and make their own treat adding bits of candy or nuts or even fresh coconut.  When they were done, Mom would hand them a flat sheet of waxed paper (Saran wrap back then – never heard of it) and they could roll it around to cover their own home made treat and shove it in their bag.  it was okay to grab a handful of the popcorn all warm and gooey and pop it in your mouth to tide you over during your long night of making the rounds.
Another year, Dad decided that we would all make homemade pulled taffy.  We would make our way walking backwards across the kitchen with warm taffy strung from our hands to Mom or Dad’s hands.  It was a constant motion of pulling the taffy one direction and then the other with buttery hands until it reached the perfect consistency.  Mom would cut the taffy rope into pieces with scissors and we would wrap the little pieces in torn wax paper.  If they were so inclined, kids and adults alike had an open invitation to join in the fun to make their own.  And lots did.
Oct 1998 a 6 year old Tristan sans costume sorts out her bounty at our dining table.
Many other Halloweens followed with carmeled apple make your own treat night.  Our home was turned into a haunted house by my parents and Al & Dorothy LaCount, complete with scary music and cold spaghetti brains and peeled grape eyeballs and jello-y guts.  Even though Janet and I had watched the entire thing come together, we still got creeped out when actually going thru the dark house.  When I got home from trick or treating and was tired and ready for bed, that proved impossible as the adults had turned all 4 bedrooms, the family room, dining and living room and kitchen – all into scary little dark rooms.  So, I made my way to my bedroom and dug my pillow from the closet where it had been stashed in order to make the scary guts and blood room – made my way to one of the bathrooms and sat in the dry tub, pillow propped up on the edge and tried to get some sleep in between the screams of terrorized neighbors!
October 2004 baby Mateo visits his first ever Pumpkin Patch and tries a taste of straw!

 

October 2007 Katia and little princess Marluce
When I had kids of my own, I was horrible at making costumes.  Did not have a sewing talent to my name and no imagination whatsoever.  So the poor kids were relegated to being clowns or hobos or Fonzie.  When Jeffry was in Taekwondo and would be testing for his black belt at the tender age of 8, he firmly reminded me that his Taekwondo gi was NOT to be used as a Halloween costume.  Orders from Master Rex Veeder!  Hmmm.  Apparently Master Veeder was aware of my past costume endeavors.
Jeffry inherited his mother’s talent for costumes. 
 I have had other memorable and enjoyable Halloweens as well.  Halloween dinners on the driveway at the Dunham house …
October 2003 at the Dunham halloween Spooktacular Dinner
Enjoying the Tucson Zoo Halloween night with Tristan and Chase … Tristan had my phone headset and was a Rock ‘n Roller and Chase was skull to toe bones dressed as a skeleton.  We toured the Zoo, watched dancers, got lots of candy and treats and were exhausted by the time we got back to Grandma’s to spend the night.
And we just had a visit from Thomas Train.  Nana (me!) decorated the little front yard just for him as we had ZERO trick or treaters.  Sign of the times, I guess.
Yeah – still not so much of a halloween fan – but with Grandkids and friends and family in the picture – well, what could be better than that?

agua linda FARM in amado arizona

Jeffry, Kerri, Max, Bob and I took a little trip to the Agua Linda Farm in Amado Arizona – about an hour south of Tucson.  They advertised a pumpkin festival for the month of October.  We had such a great time.  Maxwell had his first ever pony ride – on a really big pony!  We climbed a haystack, watched Max bounce, went on a hayride, had a picnic and lots more!  I highly recommend it for any family wanting a fun family outing!
And that was our day at the Farm!  We’ll be back.

Another week passes me by …

The kitchen island top re-do is almost done.  Not perfect – but what an improvement!  Granite tile and many times of removing some tiles and re-installing some of the trim – we have some touch ups, one corner, and caulking between the wood trim and the tiles – but it is still really nice.

So looking forward to hosting an Easter dinner for friends and family!

Max spent Thursday and Friday with us again this week.  Today, he helped Nana shop for Easter dinner – even brought his own cart!

Celebrated our 41st anniversary on the 5th with a letter to the hubs!
41 years ago at 7 pm, two teenagers stood in the Church of God in Grand Junction.  Pastor Todd officiated a short ceremony in front of a few friends scattered in the pews.  I do not even remember what he was saying – I guess I was too concerned with the child inside of me and what was next in our lives together.
Since then, we have lost babies and family and friends.  We have lost books and love letters and a piano and photos and perspective and even sometimes our way and so much more.  Since then we have built careers and houses and backyard decks and friendships and gardens.  We have gained knowledge and daughters and sons and a deeper relationship and love of others and even a little respect.  We have seen Victoria BC and Puerto Vallarta Mexico and Nassau Bahamas and lots of stage plays and young sons in school productions and our youngest sporting the gold ropes at high school graduation and our oldest granddaughter lip syncing to “oops I’ve done it again”.  We laughed at Cristopher imitating the walk of Charlie Callas and at Ricky jumping up on the table at Dairy Queen to sing like Rosie singing like Elvis and at Jeffry performing Cuban Pete boom chicky boom, boom chicky boom, boom chicky boom.  We were blessed to hear Tristan attempting a kindergarten singing career and seeing Chase just a few moments old and watching preemies Mateo and Marluce blossom into healthy and happy kids, and listening over the phone to hear the first cries of Quinn and getting text messages from Megan updating us on the birth of Maxwell and hearing his little cries.  We have loved each other and our children and grandchildren and each other even more and dear friends and going on dates and seeing new places and each other even more.  We have felt the pain of loss and the fear of the future and the sadness that comes with family crisis and the realization that some things will just never be.  But we have felt the pride in our family and the joy of new babies and the unimaginable appreciation of a prospective kidney donor and the peace that comes with security in love and the dreams of what lie ahead.  All of this has been ours.  Together.  I cannot imagine it any other way.
Hard to believe those two teenagers with a baby on the way, pledging their love in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others until death us do part, beat the odds.  I dream of more travel and future babies to cuddle and being with family and watching sunsets and all of this,  Together.
  Happy Anniversary honey.  I love you oodles.

the last time

The day was November 26th 1988 – the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Mom, Dad and Grandma Tabor had the motorhome packed with their travel belongings after a few days of visiting and enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with them and my special “little sister” guest, Leisa. We had managed to fit in a huge holiday feast; the requisite shopping on Friday after, and of course, several rounds of Bingo at Papago Bingo. I had stuffed the traveling refrig with container after container of Thanksgiving leftovers. This was a special one as I had never known my mother to leave her home for that particular holiday. This was the first and only one in my life. One year she was sequestered on a murder trial as a jurist, and the judge had ordered the jury dismissed just for that day and they had to return to sequestration Thanksgiving night. Mom had made a detailed list of everything I needed to buy a week prior to the holiday with detailed instructions on how to prepare what and how and when – like I didn’t already know after being her right hand gal since the age of 10. Even on a several week jury trial, she still insisted that the family dinner would be held on North 18th Street, and no amount of reasoning was going to change her mind. And so it was. So, I was quite surprised when she called and said they were coming for Thanksgiving. Mom had suffered a bad bout of the flu in several weeks prior and I thought maybe she was just worn out. So, I didn’t question it. I was excited to host Thanksgiving at my house in Tucson. Of course she insisted that everything would be just as though we were in Grand Junction. She would do all of the cooking and baking. Gram was in charge of peeling 10 pounds of potatoes and I was charged with setting and decorating the table. I didn’t give a second thought to Mom’s comments here and there. “I do not ever want to die in Tucson.” When I said what an odd thing to say, she explained that we had that doctor here who transplanted hearts. And what if he took hers out and replaced it with someone who was mean? Would those unprincipled traits be transferred to her? I kind of just shrugged it off with a smile. We were sitting in the living room relaxing one afternoon, watching an old rerun of Designing Women where the ladies had designed a New Orleans style send off for a young friend who had died of Aids. Mom stated that she wanted her funeral to be like that with upbeat music and lots of flowers. Maybe I should have paid more attention.

After a nice breakfast at Coco’s, the three musketeers were on their way home. I didn’t envy them. The drive from Tucson to Grand unction is almost unbearable for me; hours of dry dusty desert with no cell or radio reception. It is, nicely put, miserable. They didn’t seem to mind. As long as Mom was in her motorhome, she was good. Cristopher was out with friends. Ricky was at a U of A game enjoying his time with friends in the kids Knothole Section. Bob and I were set to enjoy a movie night out with 4 year old Jeffry in tow. As the movie time slowly approached, Bob reminded me that we needed to get on our way. But, I felt uneasy and did not want to leave the house that night. When I relayed that to my husband, he just nodded okay and went about his evening. He was used to me changing my mind so nothing unusual about that.

If memory serves, it was around 7 in the early evening when the phone begin to ring. It was still in the time where the phone hung on the wall. Bob held the phone out saying it was my dad and if they had car problems, I was to find out where they were and he would be on his way. Before I put the phone to my ear, I quietly said to Bob “honey, my Mom is dead,” He just looked at me, admonishing me with his stare about the inappropriateness of making such a comment. As I lifted the phone to my hear, I could hear my Dad’s voice saying “Mom’s gone”.

I felt the tears as Daddy explained the chain of events leading up to this call. And then the blur of the night began. Laundry had to be done for five people making the 780 mile trek to western Colorado; arrangements had to be made for Jeffry to stay with my Tucson friend, Peggy for a week. Calls had to be made to my siblings. And in a flurry of tears and questions and travel arrangements, we finally fell into bed after midnight. And then came the long and drawn out sobs as Bob held me tightly until finally exhaustion and sleep took over. And this day was over.

My Mom was gone.

Family History Links to Page for GDOVIN