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 our 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.

all for a tart

The night before Thanksgiving, my mother would call and lure the grandkids into coming over to her house – for tarts. She would take her leftover pie dough (made from scratch with no recipe – some of this and a handful of that and a sprinkle of salt – roll it paper thin and brush the entire thing with Crisco. ONLY Crisco would do. She would gently fold the thin layers until there were 4 flaky layers. After cutting them into uneven squares and triangles, she would shortening up her left thumb and make a thin indent on the top of each piece and drop a spoonful of her homemade jam in the dent. On the other half she sprinkled cinnamon, sugar and a bit of nutmeg. In the oven they went.

And only AFTER all of the grandkids had torn about a dozen loaves into inch size pieces filling about 6 Dutch oven pans – would they be offered the treat of one of each of the tarts. The grown kids and grandkids carried that tradition with my Mom as long as we all were around. I think of the one and only time Bob helped out. After he got out the cutting board and electric knife and cut 6 pieces of bread at one time into perfect little squares, he was banished. The next day at dinner, Mom and Grandma Tabor both complained that the stuffing was “not quite right” because some of the bread had not been “torn”. I think he did it on purpose. In fact I am sure of it.

thoughts of thanksgiving …

Easy Lime Curd Puff Pastry Tarts {or Lemon Curd!} - Num's the Word

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.

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.


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

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

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


There’s always next Year!

Well, my promise to myself to keep up scheduled blog postings for 2013 did not come to fruition!  In my defense, I have my bookkeeping business every day; grand babies 4 days a week; help the hubs daily; laundry and housework and yard work and shopping – something almost every day.   So, there.  I think I made my case!  Have a seat.  Relax.  Put your feet up and get ready to be amazed at my blog postings.  Okay, maybe not amazed.  But, still …Sofa (2)

a Picnic in the Park

Our little neighborhood has a little green patch about 30 feet by 50 feet in size.   Max thinks this is the greatest park ever!  Sometimes we take a ball to the “park” and kick it.  Sometimes Poppa rides his bike around the perimeter while Max drives his little car around the sidewalk.  Other times, Max and I kick off our shoes and run barefoot on the lawn and chase each other or have races.

Today, Max decided we should have an impromptu picnic at the neighborhood park.  He decided on jello with fruit and cheesy organic bunny crackers and bottles of water.  The weather was beautiful as we sat on the wall and enjoyed watching a very little boy in his glory in his great big park.  My heart grew just watching him enjoy his little picnic – that face is truly priceless.11 08 2013 Picnic

Max reminds me that I need to take time for simpler things.  Thank you, Maxwell.

not my cup of tea

I suppose that anyone who has known me for over ten minutes, most likely is knowledgeable of the fact that Halloween is not my “thing”.  Even as a little girl, I did not like costumes.  I did not like having my face made up and calling attention to myself.  Luckily, I began dance lessons at the tender age of two, so I always had a tutu around to dress up like a ballerina.  And my little black cowgirl outfit with the white fringe from “Ragtime Cowboy Joe“.  Or, my blue costume from “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue”, so I could dress up in my big blue bonnet and be a Dresden Doll for the holiday.  I was a small child and it seemed like I always got swallowed up in a sea of huge witches capes and black hats and yards of billowy white ghosts.  I did not like to look funny or scary.  I had zero confidence for that type of shenanigans!  I enjoyed seeing everyone else’s costumes and admired their guts to have dark paint smeared on their faces or teeth blacked out.  Not for me.  Imagine how mortified I was each year when my Mom dressed up for her bowling team party.  She would smear honey – gooey sticky honey, on her cheeks and chin and then rub COFFEE GROUNDS into the honey so it looked like a scraggly beard.  To make matters worse, she would find an old stained shirt of Daddy’s that she had used with furniture polish and wear that ugly, dirty looking, wrinkled thing over some torn pants.  And then, much to my horror, she would mess up her thick black hair and then Aqua Net it to hold the entire mess in place.  She would get in the car, windows rolled down, and wave to anyone who looked her way.  She always came home with some sort of prize for her winning look.  Apparently I was the only one who did not appreciate her “costume”.

So, when I had children of my own, I was always in a panic.  I didn’t want them to be a plain Jane and not be up to par with their classmates and friends.  I experimented with different looks, but always came back to a clown.  I just had zero talent for any other look.   We always had something around the house to make their shoes look like clown shoes or an over-sized tie and shirt.  Red lipstick on the cheeks and mouth and some eyeliner tear drops and eyebrows completed the transformation.  Clowns.  I tried something new every year, but I admit it – they always looked like a clown.

I never decorated the house save for the pumpkins that the boys and their Dad carved – front on center on the porch of wherever we lived.  Mom and Dad would turn most of their house into a haunted house with dark lighting and cold spaghetti “brains” and jello “guts” and peeled grape “eyeballs”.  They took great delight in scaring the living hell out of me while working on the house for several days.  They had stuff in every one of the five bedrooms and, needless to say, I had many sleepless nights until Halloween was over.  I did not like scaring people and I did not like being scared.  I had enough of that on a daily basis while little brothers, Mark and Larry, would hide in my closet or in the bathroom, waiting for me so they could jump out or yell and watch me have a panic attack.  Yeah, those were sure fun days.  My brother-in-law had great fun digging out some dirt in the front yard of his Tucson home and, laying as flat as he could, and would raise up in the dark of the night and scare the bejesus out of the neighbors.  How sad it was one Halloween evening, watching little kids walk a huge arc around the front of Dan’s and Robin’s house out of fear of the crazy guy in the dark.  Robin always had lots of good candy left over!

So, here it is, October, and I will be damned if Halloween is once again upon me.  Now I have grandkids and have enjoyed entertaining them on Halloween from Tristan and Chase to Mateo and Marluce and now Max and Abby.  I have never had the chance to spend a Halloween with Quinn, but perhaps one day.  So, Max comes to spend the day last week and flatly states, Nana, you need to decorate for Halloween”.  Well, I did decorate (or at least I thought I had) by displaying a cute little pumpkin from Safeway where someone had artfully drawn a cute face with red lips and long eyelashes.  And, if that was not enough, voila, look at my cute Halloween owl in the front garden!


Max gave me a patronizing smile and a soft “oh”, but I could tell he was not very impressed.  Then he said, “you should see our house Nana!  We have skeletons and pumpkins and decorations inside the house and outside of the house.”  I assumed from that statement, that the kids house had more than an “indoor” pumpkin and a tin owl stuck in the dirt.  “Come on, Nana!  We need to decorate!”  Looking into those clear blue eyes, I had no choice but to get in the car and high-tail it to the store before Max came back the next day.

I was NOT going to spend a ton of money on a holiday that I do not even really consider a holiday.  Afterall, November 1 begins “my” holiday season of Thanksgiving-Christmas-Epiphany.  THAT is my kind of holiday and I have always said that Halloween is just in the way.  But, little kids and big kid enjoy the dark holiday, so who am I to quibble?  I decided to make some melting witches.  Some black pointy hats, black gauze, black and green and purple ribbons and hang them from the courtyard lights and presto! we have melted witches.  A couple long pairs of Halloween socks filled with some squished up plastic bags made for the stylish footwear left from the melting witches.  Max and Poppa found some orange and green lights in our Christmas light stash and I replaced some clear ones with the colorful ones to add a little flair!  I got 5 little battery lit pumpkins which max has had a great time arranging them and rearranging them!  Add two Sassy Witches to the front door, and we have  the final product.  Not going to win any prize, but seeing my grandson’s eyes light up and the smile on his face is my blue ribbon.

20131021_095312 20131021_095336 20131021_095346

Happy Halloween, everyone.   I am going to start getting my Thanksgiving-Christmas-Epiphany decorations ready.  November 1 will be here before you know it!

Happy 21st Birthday to my Beautiful Granddaughter, TRISTAN

Hard to believe that this tiny mite who bounced into my life at the age of two, is now a 21-year-old, married, self-sufficient young adult.  And, oh, the adventures we have shared.


Here she is in 1998 taking inventory of all of her Halloween bounty!  Tristan first Trick or Treated in her neighborhood, and then Trick or Treated around our neighborhood; and Gramps drove her to some surrounding neighborhoods, so it could be assured that her treats were a-plenty!

1999An unforgettable Performance by a 6-year-old Sand Dollar first grade spring concert in 1999.


The Summer of 2001, after one of our annual School Supply Shopping excursions.  Many years ago when Tristan, was just a little girl, I began a new tradition of school supply shopping.  Since we lived in the same city, I would pick Tristan up and off we headed to Target to find just the perfect school supplies.  We would pick some items from the list send home by the school, and we added some other things just for fun.  Everyone needs paper and pencils and erasers and such.  But it is much more fun to have pink pencils with silly erasers and fun characters on homework folders.  Works just the same, but puts a smile on your face when you are working on a math problem!


Tristan commandeers Gramps computer to play games in 2002.  He never lets anyone else do that!


A 2004 portrait with two of the most important ladies who have shaped my life.


I enjoyed an after Christmas dinner with Tristan in 2005 at yet another fun-filled Granddaughter weekend.


Just one of our special 2006 weekends with a Butterflied Granddaughter,  Our special weekends were always filled with dining out, game night and spoiling!  Oh yeah, shopping.  Lots of shopping.


a 2007 trip to Costco during one of our Granddaughter Weekends where Gramps and Tristan grazed their way thru all the food samples!


In the summer of 2011, a very grown-up Granddaughter drove to Leesburg Virginia to bid farewell to Grandparents making their way back to Arizona.


And the little girl has blossomed into a young married lady.  Happy Birthday, Sassy Marie.  I love you more than words can say.  Be Happy!

Max’s Excellent Park Adventures #3

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For this new adventure, we ventured out to Purple Heart Park  on Rita Road in the Rita Ranch subdivision.  The day was cloud covered for the most part so it seemed a bit cooler than the 98 degrees it actually was.

Purple Heart Park is another one of those parks nestled within a neighborhood.  It is quite a pretty little area with a baseball field, playground, swim center, and benches under the shade of huge trees.  Not sure where the rest of the acreage is, but I can only assume that if we had gotten onto the walking path,we would have seen a lot more than we did.  However, 3-year-old Max is more concerned with the playground and drawing circles in the dirt with found branches from the ground.

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This is a really peaceful little area for reflection and remembrance.  Notice the purple tiles inset into the stone in the shape of a heart.  Nice and simple and beautifully thoughtful.

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Higher, Poppa.  HIGHER!
Higher, Poppa. HIGHER!

We need to revisit this quiet little park and explore the undeveloped nature as well.  This is a great place for family get togethers as the playground is close to benches and BBQ grilles – so the little ones could be in your sight while enjoying the day.  Good amount of shade for the Tucson desert.  Max and I both give Purple Heart Park a thumbs up!


From Ashburn Virginia to Tucson Arizona

Finally, Ricky, Mateo and Marluce were about to land in Tucson for a week-long vacation.  I had Abby for the day, so Poppa picked up Maxwell and headed to the airport.   Soon after, I heard the garage door open and Abby and I ventured out to greet our Virginia family.  And, this would be the first time that Abby was introduced to her cousins.

Mateo multi-tasks.
Mateo multi-tasks.

Relaxing and visiting and listening to tales of a grand kid’s life!


Marluce works with Maxwell while creating a masterpiece!


Max likes to make a good impression on his cousins by dressing up for the occasion!

7 6 4The kids started getting restless in the little house and so I hooked up a wacky water thingy and let them cool off a bit in the backyard, much to their delight!

For dinner, we had a huge spread of salad bar, sandwich bar, Mexican dip, chips of all kinds and teriyaki meatballs!  There was something for everyone and the leftovers would serve us well later in the week for snacks and lunches.  The Virginia kids left with the Pantano Edge kids to retire for the night.  More tomorrow.



on this day in 2007 …

Tristan came to visit us all the way from Tennessee.  Since we had an earlier invitation to attend Samantha Sherman’s Bat Mitzvah, Jay & Jackie graciously added her to the guest list.  Of course, NO visit from my granddaughter is complete without the traditional let’s shop for something new for you to wear spilling from my mouth.  Tristan picked out the perfect little brown and white cotton dress to wear to the festivities.  Our day began at the breathtaking historic Stone Avenue Temple in Tucson.  This was my first time visit to this temple, and I was in for a real treat.  As soon as we entered, I could feel the history coursing through my veins.  I was truly in awe.  The service was inspiring and Sammy’s tender voice did not waver as she recited the words from the Torah.   After the service, Gramps, Tristan and I retreated to our local breakfast place and had a late breakfast/early lunch.  Conversations with this fourteen year old teenager were always interesting as she shuffled between being a little girl to an old soul.  The same evening, Tristan changed from her dress to a new skirt and blouse, pulled her hair back and got ready for the night of dinner and dancing and celebration at the Hawaiian themed party.

I love this photo of her.  Tristan and her Grandpa Bob (and later on, Gramps) have always had a special relationship.  They know how to make each other laugh.  And isn’t that so important in life?

June 2 2007

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.


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

2013 mothers day 2

2013 mothers day 3

2013 mothers day 4

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.

20130516_170824 20130516_170833


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!


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!

bday 3 bday 2 bday 1

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.

a Guy’s day out

the morning started out with a little Max softly rising from his little bed around 7:30 and I hear
hi, Nana” and receive a perfect, albeit a bit slobbery, kiss on the cheek and a hug that would put any bear to shame!
I try to catch a few more zzzz’s as I hear the conversations between Max and his Poppa:
  I can brush my teeth by myself.
Well, I need to help you a little bit.
  But I can brush my teeth by myself.
Well, I still need to help you a little bit.
  But …
We need to get dressed because we are going to the restaurant to have breakfast with Tom.
  Max sits down on the floor, lays out his jeans with the tag on the floor and wriggles his legs in place, hops up and pulls   the jeans in place.  Picks up his clean shirt, sticks it on his head so it covers his face, and runs into the bedroom yelling “hey poppa, I’m ready!”
Max signed his own card!



After a hearty breakfast of sausage, pancakes, eggs, waffle, cantaloupe, applesauce and milk (GULP), Poppa and Max said their good-byes to Tom and headed out to the Bear Canyon Library on Tanque Verde and returned home with a brand new library card and three – count ’em – THREE books in tow.
Later, I had a client at my home office working on some accounting issues.  Max was not shy about asking “when yew done working yew wanna play with me?”  When the client mentioned that he had to go “potty”, Max mis-interpreted that to mean my client was going to use his froggy potty, and yelled out ” noooooooooooooo –  you are too BIG!”
The kid is nothing if not honest!  Such an angel !

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.
2898678631_611a265f7b 8231982426_eb02198516_o Chase
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.

a brand new year of MAX

Max stays at Nana’s and Poppa’s house on Thursday and spends Thursday night and all day Friday.  No matter how tired or busy we are, this little ball of fire pops in the front door each week and the house really comes alive.
It has been so cold out that I thought we should do something to get him out of the house to play.  He loves the Park Place kids play area, so that was our choice this week.  I packed a picnic lunch for Max and off we went for a couple of hours of giggles and smiles and “I’m hungry now, Nana”.
At one point, some teen girls walked by and Max turned his head to catch a glimpse of the cute girls.  Poppa asked him if Max thought they were pretty.  “Oh yes”.  When Poppa posed the question, which one is your favorite, Max replied ” I like the big big tall one!”
He spies the little fountain and the coins dotting the bottom.  “Why is money in there?”  I explained that people make a wish and then toss in a coin and maybe sometimes their wish will come true.  I gave him a couple of pennies and a dime and held onto him as he expressed his first wish “I wish for an OWL” and in went the coin.  After leaving the mall, Max  and I are waiting for Poppa to bring the car around, and Max spreads his arms as wide as he can and states to everyone around “This is the best time ever ever ever!”
Back at home, I asked Max how three little cars “stuck” together.  “Well, Nana, they have mag-a-nets, and the problem is, you have to put them back to back”.  Can I remind everyone that this is from a TWO year old??

Before bedtime, Poppa and Max shared a relaxing read.



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.

what a nice way to spend CHRISTMAS eve

Finishing a midnight shower, I emerge in a towel wrap and my wet hair upon my head only to come face to face with …Mateo?  I honestly could not speak and finally, after staring at the poor kid for what seemed like minutes, I was able to spit out “how did you get here?”  “Hi Grandma!  We drove here.”

I look over on the sofa and there sits a very travel weary Katia and her mom, Gloria.  Katia explained that she and her mom had left northern Virginia on Friday and had been switching driving back and forth allowing one of them to relax and catch a bit of sleep.  Nevertheless, they set aside their physical discomfort and allowed us a good memory of a most special Christmas Eve!

Thus began excited conversations about do you know what grades we are in, Grandma?” and about how long it takes to drive through the huge state of Texas.  In the meantime, Mateo makes himself a peanut butter and JAM (not jelly) sandwich to enjoy with a big glass of cold milk.  Over an hour passed so very quickly and it was difficult not to hold them and hug them every second of the visit.
Marluce always gets smiley faces from her first grade teacher, Mr Meehan.  When asked if she ever gets in trouble for talking in class she offended-ly replies absolutely not because then I would lose points!  Tears pool in my eyes and my heart thumps a bit when she tells me “sometimes I will be somewhere and I will think, I wish Grandma was with me”.
Mateo is quite excited to be getting taller and talks about being in the “upper grade levels” , which, by the way, is third grade!  He is such a sweet and gentle boy and quite demonstrative when he relays stories and thoughts.  He tells me about weather events telling me about the earthquake a year ago in the DC area that they felt “clear over in Ashburn.  I was in the basement and Mom was in the middle floor and I felt shaking and thought that Mom had fallen down.”  We all grin as Katia has never been overweight and Katia states that perhaps she was heavier then – an inside joke for the grownups.  Again I get hugs and heartfelt “I love you Grandma.  I miss you.”   Snacks eaten.  Conversations ended.  And about 1:30 a.m., Katia and Gloria need to get driving to get to California in time to have even just a bit of Christmas Eve. 

 Hugs and Kisses and more hugs before walking them to the truck.  Driving off I hear their still little kid voices “I love you Grandma.  Good-bye.  Until next time!”  My heart is so full that I can barely sleep for a few hours.  Thank you Gloria.  Thank you Katia.  Best Christmas Eve ever!!

After a few hours sleep, a few more hours of accounting and a bit of relaxing, we are off to meet Maxwell and family so Max and Abby can receive their Christmas Eve packages from Nana and Poppa.   Max was more than happy to open his package of pj’s, and Mickey Mouse and new book and then happily opens Abby’s!  Mommy read both kids books to them before they donned snuggly pajamas and went to bed to await the arrival of Santa.  So much fun to share this tradition with Max and the newest addition – little miss Abby!
Back home after enjoying some Christmas Lights.  Tomorrow is Christmas!
 Happy birthday to baby Jesus.

POPCORN & Christmas Lights

When Max got here this morning, I told him that we were going to make popcorn and get on our jammies and drive around to look at lights tonight.

pjs – check
jacket – check
crocs – check

When?  Now?
No – when the sky gets darker.

Well, when it is dark, the lights are prettier and we can see them better.

Later in the day …
Nana!  Ready to go and see the Christmas lights?  I’m so excited!
  Well, it is only lunchtime, buddy.  Still have to wait until the sky gets dark.
   Well, when it is dark, the lights are prettier and we can see them better.

At the dinner table …
The sky is getting dark, Nana!  Are you ready to go and see the lights?
Well, we have to finish eating dinner first and then clean up and then we can go.
  Why?  I love Christmas lights Nana!

Popcorn is popped. Car seat is buckled.  Christmas music is on the radio.  Poppa is behind the wheel.

We drive to Mamaws neighborhood and I hear Max say “this is Oh Canada Poppa’s house”.  We turn the corner on to the next block and I ask “Max, what lights do you see now?”  The only response is a gentle baby-ish snoring coming from the back seat.

So much for driving around and seeing Christmas Lights!

Hey, are you gonna eat that?

deLIGHTfully MAX

Abby is settling in her new home with Mommy on leave from work for a couple more months.  Keeping Max on his normal schedule is his parent’s priority.  They are so smart!  So, Monday and Tuesday, Max will continue to spend quality time with Oh Canada Poppa (or Chris Mundle as we know him).  Wednesday, Max attends Catalina Methodist Day School in the 2 year old class.  Poppa (Bob) picks Max up from his home on Thursday mornings and he spends all day Thursday, Thursday night and all day Friday at Nana’s and Poppa’s house.
Some highlights from this week:
Max, let’s get your underwear changed before bedtime.
  he immediately whips off his big boy underwear and tosses them on the floor.
Nana, first let’s do the naked baby dance!
  Max was supposed to be napping, but I kept hearing thuds and bumps.  Max is wide-eyed and innocent as I walk into the room, almost catching him in mid-air as he was jumping on his bed.
What’s going on in here, Max?
Hi, Nana.  ummmm, why are you in here, Nana
I had to pick up some things at Target and Max wanted to be my trusty assistant.  We piled his personal shopping cart into the back of the Hyundai, secured Max in his car seat and off we went to get some groceries and household items.  The ooohs and the ahhhhhs were in abundance, and I will admit that I was the hero of the shopping grandma’s for letting Max push his own cart and fill it to the brim with items from the shopping list and not.  When we got to the checkout, Max insisted on piling his cart items on the black belt slowly moving toward the cashier.  I notice a package of cheese and chicken chimichungas go past me into the hands of the cashier and deposited into my shopping bag.  Hmmm.  Odd.  I did not remember picking that package, but no matter.  Hmmmmm.  A Sesame Street Coloring and Activity book.moving past me on the black belt.  All of the sudden, a familiar little voice proudly announces to the cashier directly behind us “Look what I bought for myself!”
And while taking him home to Abby, he directs Poppa while driving, turn here – on Fon du Lac.  This kid is TWO.  And Fon du Lac is NOT the street where he resides, rather the street LEADING to the street of his address.  Maxwell never ceases to amaze me!

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.

and so IT goes

Sometimes life is planned out and sometimes those plans don’t work.  Bob met with his potential kidney donor this morning and the donor is unable to participate in the transplant.  His doctors have advised against it and his family was uncomfortable with the procedure.  Completely understandable.

We are blessed in just knowing that this man has been poked and prodded and questioned for the past year – all to help a friend.  Yes, there ARE people like that in the world.  Bob knows one!

And so we go on with life and work and family and friends.  Bob is able to complete his daily dialysis routine through the night right in our home.  We can pick up the machine and travel (the airlines HAVE to allow the machine on board and CANNOT charge you for the additional carry on!!).  Bob is back to work at a less stressful job (Ventana tire on Sunrise & Kolb) has already been promoted to Manager and has made such a financial impact on the company that their CPA and Owner have called him several times to congratulate him on sales.  We have a new grand baby on the way for Thanksgiving and healthy grand babies back east.

I am busy with work and fixing up the little house and accounting clients and Camp Nana with Max two days a week.  He spends the night and I can count on waking up with a mini-flash lite shining in one eye and a little voice saying “wake up Nana – it’s morning time”.

We are planning on way more family/friend get togethers overflowing the tiny house!  Already planning one for September!  Also excited to attend megan and Kyle’s Wedding in Oceanside mid-September.  We have extended our trip for a week long stay and will meet up with more family to enjoy.

Thanks to everyone for the queries and good wishes and prayers.  Upward and Onward.

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.

a look back at my Week

In Virginia, Marluce and Mateo show off their Easter treats I sent to them. Apparently the calendar is different in Virginia and they are on Easter Treat savings time!! Max has not been introduced to a lot of candy, etc. I needed some large plastic eggs to hide for him on Easter Sunday Dinner, and the only ones I could find were ones holding lots of candies. I bought the eggs. Dumped all of the candy into the Easter box I was sending to Ashburn, and I got no complaints from the Virginia Gardners!

03 29 2012

Max spends Thursday and Thursday nights with us during the kids kickball season.  Daddy picks him  up on Friday afternoons.  Never a dull moment with Maxwell!

Max:   (seeing me drop something) Dammit Dammit

me:    oh, don’t say that word.

Max:    Dammit Dammit Dammit

(Nana & Poppa decide to ignore, thinking it will stop)

Max:   Dammit Dammit Dammit
Max:   I sleeping at Bob & Connie’s

Bob:   Call me Poppa or Poppy.  You do not call me Bob

Max:    Ahhhh Dammit Bob!

Friday morning we visited the local Farmer’s Market at Jesse Owens Park, bought Max some organic jam, played on the slides, and then took in breakfast/brunch at a local cafe which, due to the absolute ickiness of my food, shall remain nameless.
Max stands up in the wooden high chair.
Me:  Maxwell, you sit down before you fall.
Max straightens his arms and pulls them behind him.
Max:  I am a birdie.  I flying!
03 30 2012

Meanwhile, back in Virginia, Marluce Andrea turns 6 years old and is treated to a tiara, feather boa, and a pedicure and manicure.  Nothing like a day of beauty!  03 30 2012 MarluceMe?  Well, I spent my days and evenings working on my client accounting, and trying to finish the kitchen island tile work before Easter dinner!

Started design work on my newest Wedding Collection “once Upon a Time”.   I would love to hear your comments!

Stumped for words

How is it that this blond little tyke can look at you with those crystal blue eyes and you lose the ability to form the words that describe your feelings.  This little guy goes strong all day long.  As soon as I got out of the car on the first day back in Tucson, a smile just filled my heart and two little hands reached out to me.  He toddles after whoever is walking to a place that is different from the place in which he was standing!  He has a gentle little voice and so many adorable little moments of quirkiness.
Me:  Max, do you want some more avocado?
Max shakes his head no.
Me:  Do you want some banana?
Max:  nods his head and whispers “‘kay”
He calls for his Grandpa(s) almost continuously.  “Grmpa…Grmpa”.  And if Grandma says no to something, he makes a beeline for his Grandpa!
This is going to be fun!

and so there I was,

So excited because my first Shutterfly 8″x8″ photo book that I designed just came in the mail today. All the effort! All the time!! And it only covers the first 3 months of 2010. Oh my goodness. It must have 100 photos. So much more to do.
Bob brings in the mail on his way home from work, and oooh, an envelope from cousin Carolyn. This should be fun! A few photos to look at and then a disk. I place it in the computer and begin at the first item which is a lovely letter from cousin Carolyn explaining how she and Uncle Ray began this project of scanning and noting photos that they located in her childhood home. Reading further. Seems like Ms. I do everything big or I do not do it at all, has cataloged about seventy thousand bajillion photos and documents from her two sides of family history AND has made disks for several relatives to share. This is wonderful. Bob returns to the living room after his shower and I hold up my little 8×8 inch book – about 1/4″ thick and ooh and ahh and say “oh honey, did you see my little photo album I designed?” “Uh, yeah. Saw most of them on Flickr. hey, what’s this?” as he sits at my computer and begins with the, “this is amazing – she did all of this? Wow. I love this. This is extraordinary”
Yeah, yeah, already. We all know that Ms. Super Mom Doting Daughter Auntie’s Favorite Loving Sister Tall Cousin first Yogita Bear of National Parks in the whole entire world is ambitious. Got it! Does she have to put us all to shame with this absolutely wonderful and selfless project?
I, for one, am thrilled she did. Cousin Carolyn, most accomplished cousin of the bunch (sorry cousins, but you know it’s true) you have truly outdone yourself this time. I am in a mad dash to finish sales taxes and payroll reports so I can add much of this to my family ties blog, and I cannot wait to get started.
You know, you are okay. Even if you never would play dolls with me.
Thank you from the depths of my heart for taking on this project, and for sharing it. (Um, still waiting on Auntie Kay to send me the Gdovin genealogy info she put together about 25 years ago! Perhaps you could hang out with her a bit more!)
Love and Gratitude from Virginia!
gdovin george thomas,carolyn rae
Carolyn Rae in the arms of Grandpa George Thomas Gdovin.


Marluce is turning One!

2007 Marluce First Birthday Party 023
Originally uploaded by Connie.

We celebrated her birthday early with a Sunday brunch at our house. I got to decorate in pinks and yellows and lavendars and greens – all pastel girly colors. It was a beautiful day and wonderful family time.

In the evening, hubby and I had a date to see the Broadway Show “RENT”. The voices were wonderful. I will have to say, that I missed a lot of what the show was about, and then when I heard that one of the characters would die of aids in the show, we made our way out. I didn’t want to end such a great day on a sad note.

Mateo & Marluce visit for a weekend …

While Ricky and Katia took a weekend trip to California, the grand babies spent the weekend with Grandma & Grandpa. We spent a lot of time in the backyard since the weather was perfect. Marluce was fed in her booster seat on the back patio while she squealed with delight every time her big brother ran past her. She thinks he is just there to entertain her and she absolutely adores him. She did not like to touch the grass, so she played in her play yard with her toys and watched the birds and listened to the outdoor noises. It was fun to watch her reaction to a dog bark or a plane fly over. Mateo was on the go every minute of the day, and kept me on my toes. When he wasn’t hopping and jumping and running and turning on and off the water outside, he was conversing in new “Mateo-isms” … when I said it was time for a nap, he replied “don’t say that, Grandma!” … when he couldn’t get me to do what he wanted, he would start asking in Spanish, apparently thinking I did not understand English. At the end of the day, Grandpa came home from work and he and Mateo relaxed on the back yard swing as Mateo looked in the sky and exclaimed in hushed tones “beautiful stars in the sky!”

1955-1956 a snippet of a husband’s childhood

by Bob Gardner – written to me in an email 03/14/2007

Chugwater Wyoming population in 2010 – 212

I was three or four. We lived in a farmhouse in Chugwater, Wyoming. Linda was seven or eight. The rooms were huge. Linda and I ran the length of the house without fear if hitting anything. I recall sitting in my wagon and Linda would push me as fast as she could and we would scream from room to room; through large doorways and into the living room. Mom and Dad would laugh as the dogs would run and bark at us while we ran. I remember worrying about smashing in to the large glass doors in the house but it never happened.

Nothing bad ever seemed to have happened there. We had no running water; only a well with a pump out front which we used for dishes. I remember more than once men waking through our property and asking for a drink from our well, Mom would let them drink [from the well], but for our drinking water, we would walk for what seemed like miles down to the clear spring near the river which ran out back behind our house. We dipped water out of the clear spring and brought it home in large gallon jars that Mom brought home from the restaurant she worked at. The water then had to be boiled for drinking.

I loved that house. Dad would come home, and Linda, Mom and I would go to the river and swim. (Well, I would wade.) Linda would paddle and Mom and Dad would swim. I felt very protected there. Mom was happy. Dad was normal and Linda and I were the best of friends.

One day the river ran dry and the fish in the river lay there dead and dying. We had to move, and left what seemed to me to be a paradise behind.

Family History Links to Page for GDOVIN