At first, I was thinking we would have a remote Camp Nana. There is only going to be a few more years (if that) left of this tradition and I was really hoping the pandemic would not spoil yet another family event. Since the grand kids had been mostly quarantined and I had most definitely been mostly quarantined for the prior 2 plus months, we decided that we could hold Camp Nana at my home with no field trips. Never mind that. We have plenty of fun things to do. We have a clubhouse. We have a kitchen and plenty of crafting supplies. We have Pinterest. And we mostly have the imaginations of a 10, 7 and 5 year old. What else do we need?
So, the invitations went out in 4 little bags with a new Camp Shirt on their front doors. And here we are. 4 kids ages 10 to 1 – ready to be entertained. Max’s first responsibility as a Junior Counselor (yes – he has been promoted!) was to take everyone’s temperature. He was very good about cleaning the thermometer after each reading. He is growing up way too fast!
We also began rehearsals on our end of camp performance which I cannot disclose as we keep it super secret until the big day on which the parents and grand parents already have a good idea because those campers cannot keep a secret! Nonetheless, we pretend like it is still a secret.
A few photos from some of our first camp days activities…
Time for the Junior Counselor to present story time while Nana prepared a light lunch for the campers. Ginny brought some books to share for the first camp day.
After lunch, Nolan left camp for a well deserved nap in his own bed, while the other three campers designed and wrote Thank You cards to some first responders and essential workers.
Time for a bit of baking. I had not really prepared for this, so we ended up using prepared cookie dough and made enough chocolate chip cookies to snack on and send home with the campers.
Afterwards we practiced our super secret performance and I think we are off to a good start!
To wind down the busy day, we took in a bit of Boss Baby. Listening to the kids laugh always make my day!
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.
Ginny is making her way to Portland to visit her childhood friends and family, so Camp Nana was down one person. And her smiling face was missed.
Max and Abby began the day by making their own wind chimes. We used mini pie tins (thanks, Pat) from a family dinner dessert, as the top piece. Holes were poked in the tin and in the center… a cute old bell. Hollow little tubes were added and various accouterments such as old keys and some moon charms until the chimes were just right in sound and sight.
Unfortunately, I did not think to snap a photo while we were working on them, Kerri did get a couple photo of the chimes which found a new home from the eave of their patio cover.
We barely had time to run a couple of rehearsals for our end of summer program (cloaked in secrecy as always) until the kids had to leave for karate. But, before our time was up, we managed to conjure up a very tasty lemon supreme cake topped with the family favorite French white icing for Max and Abby to contribute to their dinner time.
The three campers (known as Nana’s Camp Squad) all have many summer activities this year. We are squeezing in mini-camp sessions as we navigate through swimming, gymnastics, dance, karate and summer travel. And today was our kick-off with a morning movie of HOP at our new favorite Galaxy Luxury Theater on the far east side of town.
EB’s destiny was to take over the role of the Easter Bunny, as had been his father’s and his father’s before him. But his heart was set on becoming a drummer instead. And I have to admit, he was darned good at it! In fact, the most enjoyable parts of this movie for me, were the drumming scenes.
The campers were invited to bring their own bunnies along to enjoy the movie with us. Ginny and Abby stuck their bunny’s butts in the cup holders and would every once in a while “feed” the bunnies a kernel of popcorn or a skittles candy.
(Max had his bunny, Chocolate, in a “sleeping bag” while Abby’s bunny, Strawberry, and Ginny’s namesake bunny, Ginny, were more of the come as you are dress code.) Once in a while, Ginny would lean over and give me a short explanation of why the mouse did this or the chick did that. It made for a very sweet and enjoyable morning.
Ginny was off to gymnastics with mommy and baby brother, so Max and Abby and I headed over to McDonalds to get some energy expended and a few calories under our belts.
The Pima County Public Libraries are all giving away one free book to any teen or child stopping by this week, to encourage summer reading. Max and Abby need no encouragement as they have their noses in a book often; but hey, who doesn’t love a free book? They perused the books and made their choices and began reading their new material while walking out of the library door. I had to remind them that reading while walking could be dangerous! They took a minute to strike a library pose before departing the area.
Home for some quiet time and a game of Uno Attack while I gear up for a fun project on another Camp Nana day!
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.
Today we learned all about Ladybugs. Who knew they came in other colors besides red? Some are yellow and others are orange. The more common Ladybug is red with 7 black dots. There is even an orange one with white stripes and another orange with white dots!
Did you know that a ladybug lives 2-3 years AND they actually play dead to protect themselves from predators.
After making garden ladybugs out of rocks. We left them to dry before Nana sprayed them with an outdoor clear sealant. Now there are three yards with cute little garden critters.
Then we played a game using the letters from LADYBUG, All three of them came up with answers (sometimes with a bit of help) to:
L – If I were a Ladybug, my favorite place to play would be … (MAX – Lake Kalabonga; ABBY – Lily pad; Ginny – Lawn)
A – My name would be … (Alexander; Abby Jr; Abby)
D – My favorite food would be … (Durrito chips; Daffodil; Daisy)
Y – I would make a friend named … (Yelda Jr; Ybbythd; Yoo Hoo)
B – My friend and I would play … (mini-Basketball; Bug and Seek; Baseball)
U – I would hide under this to keep me from the rain … (Umbrella aka mini-leaf; Umbrella; Umbrella)
G – I would travel to … (ground; Grand Canyon; Grandpa’s)
It was such a messy fun day! Who doesn’t love a cute Lady Bug?