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!
I still managed to be productive! Slashing through my accounting duties and lowering the pile of paperwork. But accounting is not enough to sustain, so, periodically, I sneak away from my desk and actually do other things!
Like build a long planter and plant a tombstone rose (Home Depot delivers supplies and I bought the rose plant on Etsy!). And build a corner planter in the backyard and plant another Tombstone Rose. Still have to fill it in and paint it. Thanks, Etsy!!
Take a walk and trim up the hubby’s memorial tree.
Always a good feeling when your clothes closet is in good order. A bit of re-arranging and a floor rack on rollers from Amazon to hold 19 pairs of sandals and shoes does the trick. Yep – all of my blouses on the top rack are in order of color – light to dark
Gave out the “not this year” Easter party eggs originally for the egg hunt, to 6 different families to share or hunt or just open! And then I got a surprise gift! Thank you LeAna! If I ever get to go anywhere again, I have the perfect outfit to wear it with. Love it, but more importantly, the sentiment and thoughtfulness.
Tried on my new mask custom made by sister, Robyn. Attempted a bacon wrapped meatloaf (it will be better the next time – I think I have perfected it now!). Changed my blog design and still have some work to do on that! And scored big time with the world’s skinniest laundry hamper at just over 7 inches for the tiny laundry room in the tiny home. Easter decorations went back into storage bins. Reluctantly.
Participated in the Family Zoom meeting that Jeffry set up as a regular weekly event!
Almost finished a custom ordered lamp shade for lady’s black and white butterfly themed office/craft room.
And to top it all off, a surprise package from Isabel, Alexander & Victoria filled with Russell Stover DARK chocolate eggs and three hand-crafted cards. Pure Heaven!
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.
used to express the notion that something will be done in an uncompromising or brutal way, without compunction or hesitation.
go to the mattresses
to enter into or prepare for a lengthy war, battle, or conflict; to adopt a combative or warlike position.
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 …
I had better start planning for this right away! Cotton candy …hrumph!
Today was show my work day at Max and Abby’s school. I went to Max’s class and Aunt Megan went with Abby.
I am always amazed at the way the Khalsa Montessori works. Really I am amazed how calm the kids and the setting are. An old fashioned hand bell is heard outdoors and the kids calmly walk to their designated entrance. As they stand just outside the door, one child at a time walks to the classroom while the second child starts the walk when the first one is about 2/3 of the way there. There is no discussion. No pushing. No jockeying for a place in line. It is all rather … well … civilized. After the kids are settled in a circle on the carpet, the parents (grandparents and aunties) are all invited in. Max motions me to his table and instructs me to “stay right there” while he walks out of the room, returning with an adult sized folding chair that he sets up for me. Just a lovely reminder that at this school, Max’s consideration for me is not out of the ordinary. It is what is done. He is always considerate of others, but when he does something just for me, I tear up with pride and joy. He is really such a nice kid. And I am not the only one who thinks it as more than a few parents commented to me about his manners, intelligence and, of course, his humor!
Back to School. This Grammie, Grandma, Mimi, Nana and GG has a thing about buying school supplies. I started when Tristan began kindergarten. And now she is 27; so it has been a bit since I began this tradition.
Supplies are winging their way as I write, to Alexander and Victoria. Marluce should be getting some packages as well. Mateo does not have his school supply list yet. I am still shopping for Connor & waiting for information for AJ!
Max and Abby attend the Khalsa Montessori school and the school shops for and purchases all of the school supplies so every one has identical supplies. Since I cannot buy school supplies for them, I will settle for school shoe shopping. After Abby and I picked up Maxwell from his coding camp, we hit the Hungry Fox for a real lunch that had no resemblance to a box lunch with a toy.
Okay, sooooo, Nana may or may not have, picked up some sandals as well as a new purse. Thanks, DSW!
A fairly successful afternoon of shopping, I think!
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.
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.
Today is another pancake breakfast day with ham and fruit. Energy for our daily Inner Harbor excursion and our boat tour.
From the moment you step aboard, you’ll be greeted by the salty ocean breeze and the friendliest folks you’ll ever meet. Victoria Harbour Ferry has been connecting locals and visitors to the city’s waterfront neighbourhoods, parks and communities for almost 30 years. Our experienced captains are known for their love of the ocean, passion for storytelling, and unrivaled safety records. Join us on the water and see why our boats are the happiest little boats in the harbour!
Both kids listened intently to our Captain’s facts and interesting stories. He was a charming, unassuming guy. Actually is also a commercial airline pilot by trade – but enjoys this more. He made sure to mix in some humorous tales along the way. Sad to hear that even Victoria has a homelessness problem; and people who are down on their luck will find old discarded boats and try to live on them. Every couple of months, the government sweeps in and scoops up what they call the “derelict” boats and hauls them away; I would imagine with belongings the inhabitants have collected. In Tucson, we have homeless people in the parks – in Victoria, the homeless people are in the water.
The tour boats, unlike the little water taxis (called pickle boats because they resemble the shape of a pickle!) are all electric. Very quiet and no fuel smell – an easy relaxing ride. Maybe a bit too relaxing for Abby as I think she wanted to nap a bit. Got to see the float homes again and learn about the shipyards and the large ferries to the United States and to Vancouver. And because the tour boats are electric, they are 100% pollution free!
Your guide will share the rich history of Coast Salish peoples who have lived on the land for over 4,000 years. Discover the politics, culture, and everyday life of the early Victorian residents. Learn how the Gorge was nearly destroyed by decades of industrial pollution and about the extensive restoration efforts to return the fragile ecosystems to its natural splendor.
With only 10 seats per sailing, this intimate tour will get you up close and personal with some of our favourite things— ocean views, marine life, and history. And you can see it all safe in the knowledge that our eco-friendly, zero-omission electric ferries will preserve the environment for future generations to enjoy.
After a late lunch, we walked downtown to the Rexall Drug Store (yes, they have them here…however, no soda fountains with cherry cokes!) to get some Tums to calm Abby’s sensitive tummy. The kids went crazy. I guess we don’t really have many standalone “drugstores” anymore, so the whole thing was a novelty! Little things sometimes bring great pleasure. Waiting for our taxi, Abby spies a Ladybug, to which she exclaimed “Maxwell, there are Ladybugs in CANADA!”
The day began with a light drizzle, so we decided that the Hop On and Hop Off Gray Line tour bus would be a good option for today. Our tour began in front of the Empress. The kids were thrilled when they got to scurry to the upper level to the very front of the gigantic window to view absolutely everything in sight!
The tour guide told us all about the Hudson Bay Company and Butchart Gardens and the Johnson Street Bridge and lots more.
The drizzle slowly turned into a somewhat heavy rainstorm. The children were not deterred in their enthusiasm. They still found fun things to look at and things that made them giggle and while driving through Chinatown, a bright yellow-orange Asian paper umbrella to which Abby exclaimed … “Nana! Mahmaw has an umbrella exactly like that.” She was quite tickled over that fact.
But the pièce de résistance and the be all to end all, was when the rain dried up and we hopped off to spend an hour at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm. Our first stop was the bird sanctuary to see the tiny Zebra Finch and the apricot color tiny Canary. I am not a fan of larger birds and filthy doves/pigeons/seagulls. But these tiny little Aves are simply adorable.
The peacocks were gorgeous in their electric blue. The ducks were quacking their heads off. The llamas were funny. The miniature horses and mule were sweet. The Guinea pigs and the bunnies were a little smelly, but too cute.
But the very best part of the visit was the baby goats. Once the kids discovered that the goats would jump on their back if they got down on all fours, all you could hear was hearty laughter and little girl giggles. Both Max and Abby thought this was the best thing ever and the baby goats certainly enjoyed their cooperation. I had to keep a sharp eye out as the kids (goat kids – not grand kids) would go after a corner of a jacket (wanting to eat the fabric) or scratch with one leg the back of Maxwell’s jacket so hard, that I thought there would be shreds had I not stopped it. Both kids and kids enjoyed the experience and Abby hasn’t stopped talking about the baby goats.
After our baby goat time, we hopped back on the tour bus and passed by several other landmarks before ending up at Frankie’s Modern Diner on Government Street and enjoying some dinner. We meandered through a couple of stores downtown and, before making our way back to our home away from home, the kids took time to pose with the friendly hosts of Canada.
Max and Abby took showers and got freshly shampooed before donning their very cute matching pj’s we found at a local shop. And now they are just as adorable as the baby goats!
(this touching photography session was shortly followed by “OUCH! ABBY SCRATCHED ME AND SHE DID IT ON PURPOSE!” and then a quick response in a light small voice “you okay mama? you okay? want me to kiss it, mama? you okay??”)
After a pancake breakfast (why, yes. I did make the kids pancakes today) we begin our day – where else – the Inner Harbor. Can’t hardly begin the day without having a glimpse of the boats in the Harbor and breathing in the sea air. You just can’t!
and then … The Fairmont Empress began her story as Victoria, British Columbia’s, most iconic hotel on January 20, 1908. Famed architect Francis Rattenbury was commissioned to design the hotel after his success in designing the new legislative buildings in the relatively new Canadian province of British Columbia. Fairmont Empress was meant to serve business people and tourists, but after the Canadian Pacific Railway discontinued service to the area, it was successfully marketed as a resort.
A star from her beginning, Fairmont Empress did not have a sign over the front entrance. When a sign was finally raised, one irate Victorian uttered the phrase, “Anyone who doesn’t know this is the Empress shouldn’t be staying here.” However, it would appear many did know and appreciate the Empress. Edward, Prince of Wales, danced in the Crystal Ballroom in 1919 with many local ladies, whose obituaries mentioned that night over 50 years after it happened. When reigning royals King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Victoria for the first time, they stayed at the Fairmont Empress. Over the years, HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, stayed at the hotel as well.
Celebrities came to the hotel in droves. Stars like Rita Hayworth, Jack Benny, Roger Moore, Katharine Hepburn, John Travolta, Barbra Streisand, and Harrison Ford have passed through the Fairmont Empress’ lobby. Shirley Temple came to stay in the 1930s after rumored threats of kidnapping. Her bodyguards stayed in the room across from hers and always kept their doors open.
By 1965, the hotel had fallen on hard times; it was faded and dowdy, leaving officials to debate on whether or not the Fairmont Empress should be torn down to make room for something more modern. Thankfully, it was decided that the loss of the Empress was far too great. Instead, there was a $4 million renovation and refurbishment, the first of many. In 1989, $45 million was spent in what was dubbed the “Royal Restoration,” which was also when the indoor pool, health club, and guest reception were added. In the midst of this restoration, it was discovered that the beautiful, Tiffany-style stained glass that makes up the roof of the Palm Court had been covered by wood. To this day, guests can now enjoy sparkling light on the shining marblefloors during weddings and other special events. In the 1990s, the Willow Stream Spa was added and became Victoria’s most award winning spa to date.
Behind the hotel grounds and down the block, is the Miniature World – which is exactly what it says. Looking at the entrance gives you the impression that you will be in and out in ten minutes – but looks can be deceiving! Room upon room takes you through history in tiny form. From the destruction of the war in Germany …
Buttons are on almost every display making trains travel, propellers spin, chandeliers glow, farmers plow, hoods on classic cars raise and lower and everything imaginable (or unimaginable) to make the entire experience unforgettable. Difficult to get good photos through the glass. You must really experience it in person.
Welcome to Victoria in floral glory!
Always some “Buskers” (street entertainers) in the Harbor. For many, this is their way of earning a living. They love the work, but I imagine it can be very physically and mentally challenging.
Victoria plays host to the “Buskers Festival” in July. Lots of street entertainment downtown as well all week long.
Head downtown for five days for live entertainment featuring local and international comedians, contortionists, magicians, musicians, and much more.
Four stages: Ship Point, Bastion Square, Market Square, and Centennial Square
An outdoor beer garden at Ship Point
A dozen performance artists
Five days of free all-ages fun
With laughter by day and excitement by night, the Downtown Victoria Buskers Festival showcases quirky, funny, and sublime international talent.
“Home” after a long and busy day to pork chops, broccoli and warm biscuits! More fun tomorrow.
Since we got to bed so late last night (or so early this morning – which ever way you want to look at it) we got a bit of a late start to the day. But, we are on vacation and have no timetable or schedule and are just free to be!
We leave our condo and prepare for adventure. Walking from the residence and through some beautifully landscaped areas, it seems as though everything parts and makes way for the Johnson Street Bridge; where we can gaze at part of the harbor. Amazing to see the tiny boats as well as the tallest of the sailboats.
It is a wondrous site and bittersweet memories flood my mind and heart as I remember my first visit here with my hubs thirteen years ago. Bob and I were in the midst of a terrible family crisis. This was one we could not face at the time. Our strength had been tested in ways we would have never thought possible. We “ran away” to Victoria to be by ourselves. It was a great comfort being in a place where we would never come face to face with anyone that we knew. Walking the Inner Harbor every morning to the downtown area or just to watch the street entertainers helped us to forget what we had to face when we returned. We were in a magical land and for just a couple of weeks, we had no fear or worries. It was just us. And we clung to each other certain in the fact that whatever happened, we always had each other. That is the way our marriage began and that is the way our marriage ended with Bob’s death.
I have to blink away the tears several times until I hear Maxwell tell Abby that I am remembering being here with Poppa. Then I have to laugh at the innocence of a 6 year old little girl … “oh yeah. You came here with dead Poppa, right, Nana?” Pulls me right back into the current and makes me laugh – knowing Bob would think that the funniest thing ever. I can hear his laugh now.
We venture over the new replacement Johnson Street bridge and ooh and aah at the mechanisms that will lift this bridge, effortlessly allowing tall ships to sail through. It certainly is an engineering marvel. At night, it is lit in a beautiful blue as a reminder of the powder blue bridge it replaced.
Our first stop was to get some food in the kids’ tummies. We found a cute little place called Picnic- a coffee house with locally sourced cafe items. The kids liked it and I especially liked the Portuguese style bun!
And now, we were off. We needed to get a few groceries for the Airbnb, but before that, we explored the Inner Harbor. Now, you cannot explore the Inner Harbor without going to Wharf Street and you certainly cannot visit Wharf Street without having your photo taken at the CANADA sign!
Now that we have that out of the way, we see a small closed trailer in bright red. A young lady is standing near the steps and asks us if we would like to see a free 3 minute play. She explains that she and her entertainment partner, students at the University, travel around doing these little 3 minute plays, but also teaches school children the art of acting. We enter the small trailer and to my surprise, there are a few theater style seats from times gone by and a little stage with the requisite heavy drapery. Max and Abby think this is quite a treat, so we all take our seats. A cute mini-play begins and near the end, one of the young ladies says she needs a volunteer to help rescue the other lady. Up shoots Maxwell’s hand and before you know it, he is standing on the stairs outside of the trailer and within a minute is hailed as the hero. Quite an entertaining few moments! And such a novel idea.
These are the little things that Bob and I found so endearing about Victoria. A bit quirky. A Little relaxing. And a whole lot of fun. I think that if Portland and Austin had a baby, she would be Victoria BC.
We take our remaining time to walk around and watch the boats and observe the life here. Then, we board the water taxi to get back to our side of the harbor and are on our way to the Country Grocer and home for dinner and relaxing time. Well, as relaxing as you can get with Teen Titans!
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!”)
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)
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.
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.
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!
Max and Abby are normally at my home a couple of days a week. They have grown bored with the same old sand table and their outdoor toys were for the younger ones. I had the brilliant idea of making them a little “clubhouse”. Shouldn’t be difficult. After all, I have put together those vinyl sheds before and thought that would be the most durable and affordable way to go. AmazonSmile.com to the rescue. Free delivery and they put it right at the front of your garage door. Easy peasy – right?
Not so fast, my friend.
Picking out the shed was fine. Then, I got it into my head to buy this base grid to construct the shed on top. Brilliant!
And after taking great pride on seeing how the entire 8×8 grid looked and just how well the level sat … I realized that the ground was too hard and even if it wasn’t, I had installed the entire grid (wait for it) UPSIDE DOWN! Back on go the gloves and each grid piece is “unlocked” from another and stacked up for another day. Back to my accounting work.
It’s Saturday! I have half a ton of landscape sand being delivered. One of the hazards of not owning a truck is paying $20 for the sand and $49 for the delivery. The delivery, I soon discovered, only covered it being dumped on the driveway or curb. Well, that wasn’t going to fly as I do not own a wheelbarrow not to mention my back issues! Could you wheel it to the backyard for $50? Heck ya, they could. Then, as one guy loaded his own wheelbarrow, I queried of the other, Could you lay a foundation of the sand and then assemble the grid and fill with the rest of the sand? $100 good? Oh, hell ya, it was good!
Apparently, I needed to also tell them that it had to be leveled. Sometimes, just when you think things are going well …
Turns out that being uneven was not the worst of it. After laying the shed floor over the sand filled uneven grid, walking on the “floor” produced a lovely sound like sandpaper grating against your teeth. That would aggravate my OCD for years. So, thinking that the weight of the structure itself would get rid of that problem, I commenced to putting up all the walls by myself. Not really difficult, but a little heavy and awkward for one person to deal with. Using my patio lights as my guide around 10 pm, I began construction. Looked great! Everything was aligned and fastened together and ready to begin the roofing.
Except for that teeth gritting stomach turning noise was still there. That grid and sandy base had to go. Well, Scarlett, tomorrow’s another day.
The next morning I am up and taking the entire thing down to the ground again. Third time should be (and was) the charm. The following weekend, my handyman, David to the rescue. He surmised the situation, trying his best to contain his somewhat judgemental head shaking; made a list and off to Lowe’s he went. Back a bit later and in a couple of hours built a perfect base of 2×6 lumber and treated plywood.
Yeah, I will admit that another $390 later for lumber, nails, plywood and labor may now seem like the better idea. So it was level and made no sandy sounds in my teeth and so it only took about 30 minutes to install all the walls (again). Kind of surprising how much easier that part goes when the base for the structure is level and sturdy. David worked the next day constructing the roof and inside beams. Installed the double doors as well as an extra window I bought to give the kiddies more light and ventilation. Then it was my turn.
They have their art center with color pencils and water-color paint, lots of papers and books to work their designs. Legos and Barbies. A clock since their school teaches the kids how to tell time on such a non digital contraption! They have whiteboards and a rod with clips to hang important artwork and documents (one of which is titled “secret codes”). A couple of wires to hang artwork needing to dry. And 4 adorable battery LED lights that hang from the roof beams and turn on and off with the slightest of tugs.
Max and Abby love playing in the clubhouse. I think it is going to entertain them for at least a couple of years. And when they tire of it …
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?
I noticed a growing phenomenon a couple of years ago when Max joined the Indian Ridge Swim Team.
It seemed that practices and meets were not just about swimming; and not just about winning. There is a camaraderie among Pokemon collectors who gather at these pools; so much so that every practice is dotted with Pokemon cards laying on beach towels; on the concrete and on tables under the ramada. Everywhere you look – Pokemon.
I find headlines like
Pokemon obsession leads to bans at schools
Pokemon Craze Challenges Docs | Psychology Today
Oh, my goodness.
I thought it only my duty as a Nana to delve deeper into the details of these strange beings called Pokemon. So, I listen – and pay attention to the games and the most important activity – trading. The wheeling and dealing that goes on is hypnotizing. These children who couldn’t tell you where they left their socks that they literally had just taken off – have memorized every name of the 807 characters and what their powers are and any other statistic, for when they need to discuss. The young traders rattle off names such as Empoleon and Phantump and Zygarde like they are speaking if John or Sally.
I was told today by a young man to “alert” him to any of the cards that had these numbers; these codes in the right hand corner, in red. I asked him to explain the importance of the red writing versus the black writing. Turns out, there isn’t any significant difference in value (according to him). He just really, really likes the color red.
It is interesting to watch young swimmer/collectors file in through the gate with a handful of cards with dog-eared edges from the wear, pouring out of their pockets. Some kids walk in with small containers of cards and then there’s Max, who has a ginormous 4 inch binder weighing in at 5 pounds or so. On more than a couple of occasions, I hear Abigail informing other children that her brother, Maxwell, is a “master collector” to which the reply is always an enthusiastic “I KNOW!” Seems like he is building his own brand. Hmm.
There is something else that I have learned. There is an unspoken, quiet honor among young Pokemon Traders and Collectors. Books are left open and unattended as the kids are called to their practice or event. Kids waiting for their practice sit atop one of the tables, turning the plastic pages one by one and commenting on this or that feature of the Pokemon character, sometimes removing the card from the sleeve to look at it more closely, and always placing it back in its rightful sleeve among the other treasures, bestowing the dignity of which it is apparently deserved. A white-gloved formally dressed Marine could not have done better.
I have not personally witnessed any violence over the game – only some tearful irritation from Ginny stating that she used to have three Pokemon but Abby took one and hid it and now she only has two – dotted by a few sniffles between words. I believe I curbed any violence by ordering Abby to give Ginny the card in question. Fanaticism? Not really. Make no mistake, there is an enthusiasm among these youthful swimmers. But when coach Jenny sounds her signature whistle (not from plastic – just from Jenny), the cards are dropped, collector notebooks left open and the kids are off to swim. I think it is healthy and it amuses me to watch the carefully thought out transactions.
I mean, if they can spout off the names and powers of hundreds of Pokemon, they certainly should have no trouble learning the scientific names for minerals in a few years. Am I right?
After clean-up, it’s time to retrieve little cars and animals and people – and use our imagination! The kids had to pick up one of the items and add to the story going in turn. Nana kicked it off with a giraffe and a railroad track.
I was honored to attend a morning session at the Khalsa Montessori Camden Campus to see a day in the life of Maxwell at school. Let me preface this post by admitting that when Max was enrolled here for Kindergarten, I was not fond of the idea. This is an older building. There is a garden area that different people maintain and some climbing things and sandbox, etc in the play yard. I had a school in mind on the east side that had a fancy playground, state of the art signage and a huge paved parking lot. Mind you, I had never been inside of either school, so I really was judging a book by it’s cover. That turned out to be a huge error in judgement on my part.
Walking into the classroom, the difference between Montessori and the “regular” 2nd grade classroom is startlingly evident. There are no long rows of desks lined up. Desks are scattered here and there for individual students. There are tables and chairs – some that seat 4 or 5 students and Max’s table that seats 3.
Class begins in a very calm semi-circle in the middle of the room. Laura, (the kids call her by her name) read a story about how Nome, Alaska got its name. The children all speak in quiet voices. One child has brought something to share. He described his item and then asked if anyone had questions. Immediately, Cristian (Max’s best buddy) raised his hand and when called on by the student, he inquired “how much did it cost?” I had to stifle a laugh while his mother turned around and apologized to the mother of the sharer. After the sharing time in half circle, the teacher stands and that is the student’s queue to find a partner in the room and sit down on the floor to solve some math problems and then grade each other’s work. The teacher doesn’t have to tell them what to do because they know their daily routine. There are timers (2 or 3 students with watches) and they calmly give the time according to their watch, when asked.
After this exercise, they are handed their own notebook with their weekly assignment sheet in the front. It is amazing to watch these kids make their way through their assignments – one right after another and then check the boxes to note their progress. I was there a bit less than 2 hours and in the time left after the group setting, Maxwell completed a math board for addition, subtraction, division and multiplication; finished an assignment in adding fractions;
read a story and had me ask the test questions; pulled out a money drawer and counted the money and had me check his answer (there is a hardware cabinet and each drawer has a different amount of money); drew a clock with the hands at 10:45; completed a “tower” worksheet where he had to distinguish the prefix from the root word; and then had permission to work with the bead board that teaches the decimal system. After each assignment was completed, he would fill in the box and have me initial his page. The one and only time he interacted with the teacher was to ask permission to work with the beads
On the drive home, I marveled at this concept of teaching. 2nd graders and 3rd graders are in the same class with different assignments, The idea is that the older kids can offer assistance to the youngers. While this class time was going on, kids were allowed to move about the room quietly and to even strike up conversations with each other. Not once did I hear a loud voice or a teacher reprimand.
And I wonder how more kids would have done in school without the chaos and rigidity. A calm and quiet environment giving the 8 and 9 year olds the decisions of which assignment to complete first and allowing them to move about to deter all the fidgeting that I remember in school – what a nurturing setting to make your way through a day at school.
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
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!
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 – 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!
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.
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,a 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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Okay, it isn’t MY native land. Still, when in Rome …
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!
We learned about each other today. Paper people shapes were glued to some white cardstock paper. We made the paper people to look like us. Max decided he would dress himself as Captain Underpants while Abigail and Ginny took a more conventional approach. Abby used yellow feathers for her blond hair. Max drew his short blond hair with crayons. Ginny dressed herself in a ruffled shirt and Abby made an entire outfit coordinated right down to the boots.
Then, we made notes all over the paper background about what food we like to eat or what color was our favorite. We wrote what made us happy and also what made us sad. That is how we learn about each other.
We learned about each other today. Paper people shapes were glued to some white cardstock paper. We made the paper people to look like us. Max decided he would dress himself as Captain Underpants while Abigail and Ginny took a more conventional approach. Abby used yellow feathers for her blond hair. Max drew his short blond hair with crayons. Ginny dressed herself in a ruffled shirt and Abby made an entire outfit coordinated right down to the boots.
Then, we made notes all over the paper background about what food we like to eat or what color was our favorite. We wrote what made us happy and also what made us sad. That is how we learn about each other.
Before Ginny arrived for camp, Max and Abby donned their Camp Nana aprons and made some yummy banana nut muffins that we sent to the swim meet that evening. They squished up bananas and mixed the other ingredients. Abby was in charge of locking and unlocking the big mixer while Max controlled the mixing speed. They took their time and lifted the mixer up several times to scoop any unmixed ingredients from the bottom and sides of the large silver mixing bowl. Down the mixer would go. Abby would do her job and would loudly state “LOCKED!” Max would then turn the mixer to the proper speed. They alternated the muffin liners by color and took care in filling them with very little spills. Abby ran back and forth from playing to the oven to check the progress.
After cleanup, we practiced a bit for our dance review and had story time and play time. It was a fun and productive day!
Connor was our special visitor for our first day of camp 2017. Off to a busy start creating beautiful rainbows from bits of tissue paper and lots of glue. Max handled his own gluing and dutifully assisted Abby & Connor with dots of glue where needed.
Max decided on a miss-mash of colors in the shape of a rainbow, taking creative license. Connor took a more abstract approach to his canvas (paper) of work.
Ginny went minimalist while Abby was precise and exact. All in all, a succesful gallery of color, giggles and glue. And keeping with our theme, our quiet reading time was HOW THE CRAYONS SAVED THE RAINBOWS.
Since Ginny attended camp after her nap time, she missed story time. When she arrived, Maxwell picked up the book and got her a pillow and read her the entire book. At one point,Abby and Ginny were giggling, and I overheard Max … “do you want me to keep reading the story or do you want me to put the book up and you can keep talking”. They chose the book.
What should little campers snack on during a rainbow of a day? Well, a rainbow of fruit, of course (with a couple of other food groups as well) Strawberries, cheese, pineapple, cucumber slices, crunch berries, black berries and marshmallow clouds. It was quite the success!
Have you ever painted with spaghetti? Well, we did. And the results were nothing short of spectacular. After cooking and cooling the spaghetti, I placed it on a dish in the middle of the kids table. I then got busy setting up 4 plates with 2 colors of paint each, and when I returned to the table with the paint plates, there sat a tiny Ginny with a single spaghetti noodle hanging out of the corner of her mouth. But once she saw the idea, she was ready to go. Just in case, I did give her a little plate of noodles so that if she was inclined to grab another bite, she had un-painted pasta at the ready.
The rest of the first camp day, was filled with music, legos and a short walk to find items in the neighborhood to make up the colors of the rainbow.
After camp, loaded up my new pink Nana chair and headed off to watch Maxwell compete with his Indian Ridge Swim Team, where he took 3rd in the backstroke and the butterfly. He literally has never done the butterfly before, so his coach had him go underwater and watch another swimmer and that was his training. Off he went and was quite impressive for the first time. Looking forward to many more swim meets.
Tomorrow begins the 5th year of Camp Nana in Tucson, formerly known as Camp Grandma in Leesburg for 2 years. It will be a short day, but for three and a half hours this tiny house will be filled with laughing and talking and some “he took my paper and she knew I was going to use that one!”. It will be loud and full of questions and quiet storytime and messy. Connor, Ginny, Max and Abby will participate in all things rainbows.
Rainbow art. Rainbow reading. Rainbow snack. Maybe some rainbow songs, if there is time.
And then, just as fast as camp noisy began, 3 of the little ones will be whisked away to a swim meet … another will return to his Vail family and there will be scarcely a trace of the afternoon, save for tissue paper pieces floating around; sticky glue residue on the tables and chairs and bits of snacks abandoned on little plates and something squished on the floor over there. Hmmm.
And as I drag the vacuum out, I will take another look around and picture the sticky fingers and messy faces and as though time had never even passed – I will hear his voice in my mind saying “good job, honey”.
Most afternoons when I am on pick up duty for the Tucson Grand-Angels, everything goes smoothly. Oh, there may be the occasional complaint or spat between the two, but such a rare event.
(of an event, situation, or condition) not occurring very often.
Today, rare picked itself up, put on it’s shoes, and walked right out the door and disappeared without a trace.
After Abby’s swim team, we make our way to my house for some play time and dinner while daddy has meetings and mommy gets a well deserved pedicure. I am busy in the kitchen area and I hear Abigail from her relaxed position on the sofa.
“Max, can you please get me a blanket and a pop up book and a cuddle toy because I went swimming and I have my pajamas on and I really really need to rest here.”
“Maaaa-ax. But I am tired and I asked you nicely and you should do it if I ask you nicely.”
“no. If I get you a blanket then I will have to fold it and put it back and I don’t feel like it.”
“But I will put the blanket back, I pwomise I really really will!”
Max gives in to the high-pitched whine from the little sister, and not only returns with the blanket; but brings TWO – count ’em 2 – pop up books and THREE cuddle toys for her to choose from. Max is tired from a busy day at school and Pokemon discussion with some friends at Abby’s swim team practice. He tosses a pillow on the big shaggy living room rug, and with a big exhale, commences to close his eyes and begin operation unwind.
Abby begins to “read” the spelled out numbers in one of the books … loudly … and punctuating each syllable.
Forty-Five. Sixty-Three. Fifty-seven.
Max is getting annoyed and then, reaching his breaking point … “ABBY!! Please give me some quiet time for a few minutes. Read it in your mind. You are not even reading it right!’
thirty-three. seventy-nine. Nana, am I reading it right?
“ABBY! PLEASE just read it in your MIND!”
Well, you can surmise for yourself how Abby responded – or, didn’t. Max was now near tears and broke down, marched into my bedroom and shut the door. I gave him a few moments and went in just to check on him. He had piled some pillows near my big craft cabinet, laid down on the pillows and open the large drawer above him to make a little sleeping berth. I hugged him and asked if he needed anything and he dried his tears and said he just wanted to rest. I left him to it and returned to the kitchen to finish cooking dinner. All the while Abby is still “reading” loudly, only stopping once to ask me what was wrong with Maxwell. I had to leave the room to hide my laughter.
After dinner, I turn on the television to watch a Disney show with them, and on comes the ID channel where I had left it the night before. As I start to change the channel Max holds up his hand “Wait Nana!” On the screen it showed a hooligan family tormenting a grandpa next door with a dangerous growly dog and fireworks and loud music. On commercial, I explained to the tiny Grand-Angels that they were just taunting him to be mean and that they should be more respectful.
ABBY: “Nana, you might give me a time out for this, but I just have to say I would like to knock the shit out of those mean people.”
I am trying not to laugh while looking shocked and thought this would be a good time for a lesson. No, Abby. I am not giving you a time out, and then went on to explain that I do not like that language from my granddaughter. And then to engage Max in my teaching moment, I asked Max what would be a better way to express that same feeling of anger. He thought for just a split second, and replied …
“I am going to punch you right in the face!”
Turning to Abby to solidify my argument, apparently Max was not done with his thought on the matter.
Before he was 7 and before he could read … before he played soccer and before he went to Kindergarten … before he told jokes and before he knew his colors and shapes … before he danced to Cuban Pete … before all of that, he took my heart to places it had never known.
Together we have read books and colored pages. We have gone on long walking adventures and out to lunch and in to nap. We have played tennis and badminton and t-ball. We have painted and gardened and made home-made popsicles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
We have laughed and giggled and cried together. I have wiped his tears and he has wiped away mine. He has patted me on my arm with a little hand when I needed it most. He has helped me through the days; without even knowing it. And I could not love him more.
Yesterday, I published this original post in a private message to friends and family; cringing at what I had allowed to happen …
Kids were up before 7. Nana got up about 8 o’clock. The children fixed their own breakfast of cereal and milk . And when I say cereal, I mean the entire box. I couldn’t post it on Facebook because Nana ain’t no snitch. shhhhhhh
While the children were lunching with Aunt Megan and family, I was picking up the house, and opened the pantry door to find this …
What perfect kids! They didn’t eat the entire box after all! When I told Max the whole story he just laughed – in that same way as when Jeffry laughs at me as if to be saying “crazy old woman”.
The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this article are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.
It was a lovely Thursday afternoon. A Nana, (we’ll call her Lana) gently pulled the Impala with the tiny children (we’ll call them Jax and Gabby) secure and safe in their approved car seats, into the garage. Lana was driving very slow and trying to judge how much room she had to inch around so as not to disturb the oh-so- adorable little bug car, also in the garage.
Lana sees the blue plastic recycle bin wobble just a bit. Trying to ignore the issue in the hopes that the mini-passengers would do the same, she gingerly reverses in order to endeavor a safe and careful position, once again calculating the available distance.
JAX: ” Lana. You know you hit the recycle container, right?”
Lana takes time to reassure him that,yes, yes, she did notice that she barely touched the recycle bin. No harm done. Pulling forward again, she smiles to herself assured that she is missing the aforementioned recycle bin. Oh … Lana sees a ladder begin to move. With curse words on her tongue but not leaving her mouth; again a voice from the backseat.
JAX: “Lana. You know that you hit the ladder this time, right? Not the little ladder with the soft black seat. The tall ladder that you stand on to put the color bulbs in outside. Remember that you let me climb it one time when you were right there? It was that one. Did you see that you hit it?”
Apparently, little Jax has forgotten that Lana has been right in the same vehicle that he has, and although he has accused her of short-term memory loss in the past, she certainly does realize what she has done and responds to the six-year-old smarty pants that she certainly does remember the incident just seconds ago and that all is well.
Backing out one more time and inching forward so as not to disturb the parking police who has apparently completed some academy course since the last time I saw him two days ago; (okay, a curse word may have left my lips) as I see the big green canvas bag housing the Christmas tree and Santa rug and wreaths dance a little jiggly dance, I sense another comment from the six-year-old Captain Obvious. Instead, I hear the throaty roar of laughter coming from none other than a four-year old, as she loudly exclaims (as if I was not there) …
GABBY: “did you see that one, Jax?? This time she crashed right into the Christmas tree bag!!”
and louder and longer laughter ensues.
I back the car out onto the driveway; shut off the engine; tell the kids that it is all clear to remove their seat belt harness and sheepishly retreat into the house, leaving the Impala just outside of the garage door with plenty of room not to hit anything.
Max and Abby were raring to go at 8:30! They were delighted with new Camp Nana shirts as we sat down to paint and design birdhouses. Of course they each had to have their own paper plate with chosen dots of paints. Abby chose mostly pastels while Max goes for the bright and vibrant colors. The birdhouses are left alone to dry while O Canada Papa picks Abby up for her swim lesson. Max plays with Legos until she returns. They have carefully chosen some dried leaves from the back yard to adorn their birdhouses because “sometimes the birdhouses will be in the trees and leaves always die so new ones can grow and then the old leaves stick to the birdhouses and the birds don’t care”. After adding the leaves to the roofs and a couple of birdies move in to each house, the glue is drying – on to the next project …
With some rolls and deli meats and cheeses in front of them, Max and Abby are left to make their own lunches. Listening to their chatter always brightens my day – no matter the content.
“Abby, why did you break my giant chip? Why, Abby. Why?”
“Oh Maxie. It’s just a chip.” (insert heavy sigh)
to be continued …
(… later that day …)
Max wants a nap. It is Abby’s nap time anyway, so i put them both in my bed. Abby is caught dancing around on the bed several times while Max just lays in the same position and place). Max says he cannot sleep there. I tell him he can lie on the sofa while I work. From the bedroom, I hear the soft sobs of a 3-year-old, and I cannot let that pass. “Why are you crying, Abby?” The response breaks my heart and nearly brings me to tears. “Brover left me and I want to cuddle with him while I nap. He is my best friend ever.” I then query Max on whether he might like to give this another chance. He flatly states “no, thank you.” Abby looks and me and softly asks if Max said no. and I barely nod my head. The tears come easily as she literally falls into my arms. What choice do I have but to carry her to the sofa to nap near her brother.
In the meantime, the birdhouses are dry and ready for their first showing to the awaiting public. And so, without further adieu, I give you …THE BIRDHOUSE(S).
Max wanted to play video games on my phone. I had Judge Mathis on the television. Whenever you watch a judge show, commercials for attorneys of all kind stream one after the other. They always have catchy numbers – one has – 333 33 33 and 777 77 77.
I hear Max’s video game music stop, and I catch the familiar sound of cell phone touch tone dialing.
“Max, what are you doing?” Thinking he was trying to get to a different game.
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.
Over the past 5 years, Bob has been in the hospital for a fairly decent amount of time. After living together for 45 years, I find that I handle things better when I busy myself with a project. This month, with a two-week stay, I visited my patient, did the laundry, kept the house and yard up, worked accounting for long hours – and then I would find myself wide awake at 2 a.m. I was too blurry eyed to stare at the computer and numbers, so I chose to work on the bathroom.
Still with the original 30-year-old tile on the floor – faded and dulled and just, well, gross – I found my project. After laying half of the floor in a darker penny round, I awoke later in the morning, decided it was too dark. I retrieved the square spade shovel from the garage and commenced to pulling it up – tossed it in the dumpster and hopped in the car to the tile store. I chose a bright white glossy hexagon classic mosaic and set to work. Working only a few early mornings until sleep finally claimed me, it was done. Some trim work and some grouting and using my trusty “haze-be-gone” mitt, I think it came out pretty good. Feels so nice and shiny and CLEAN and fresh – what a difference. Even 5-year-old Max noticed … “hey, Nana. I like your new floors here.” Lovin’ that kid!
Then I decided to freshen the bathroom door exterior with some Behr Marquee paint using the color cocoa. Goes well with the decoupage I had done some months ago.
Still needs a few paint touch ups and a new faucet, but all in good time. For now, that’ll do pig. That’ll do.
Such a soggy and humid day in Tucson, forced us to stay indoors. We had frozen rolls to get ready for family dinner, so that seemed like a good place to start! Maxwell is meticulous about lining the frozen dough balls just so. Abby, being only two, couldn’t grasp the concept that these little frozen rounds would need space to grow. Max would roll his eyes as he calmly re-arranged the rolls when Abby turned away.
While Abby busied herself with her toys, Max and I got busy making the mini-pumpkin pie cups – bite sized treats that he later topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream. He never seems to tire of cooking. He is imaginative and will probably give Tom Colicchio a run for his money in a few years.
Following heart-shaped pb&j’s for lunch, we indulged in a little music time, conducted by Abby. She glances around to make certain that we all have an instrument and that we are all singing the same song and at the same time. The campers were so tired, they fell asleep at 1:30 until 4:30!
Family dinner followed shortly after the end of the nap when mommy and daddy arrived. This is always a noisy and a bit chaotic time, until Kerri has Max begin the dinner time question to each person at the table “What was your favorite part of the Day?” It is Max’s responsibility to decide who answers first, second and so on. He takes this seriously and seems quite interested in the response.
The first day of Camp Nana 2015 seemed to be a success. I was met at the front door by two fresh scrubbed campers, attired in their brand new Camp Nana shirts! Lookin’ sharp. We began with a little T-Ball. While Abby was content to hit the T-Ball spring stand with the bat and watching the ball fall gently to the ground. while Max – well, Max was a natural. He took his place at the T-Ball stand, and batting left-handed, knocked nearly every ball out of the park. That is not a metaphor, but a fact. Nana had to chase every ball down as both grandchildren stood by and cheered me on … “Get the ball, Nana! Get it.” Apparently watching Nana zigzagging all over the little park exhausted the 2-year-old Abigail and 5-year-old Maxwell. So much so that they had to return home for a cooling down Popsicle break at Max & Abby’s little diner! It was so cute to watch Abby pull her pink chair up to the outdoor dining bar and chatter back and forth with her brother.
Then it was time to begin our baking lesson. Do you really know just how difficult it is to keep little fingers from swiping through the batter for just a taste? Max took charge of the whisk and the duty of mixing, while Abby delighted in dumping in the oil and water and eggs. They took turns helping to spoon the batter into the mini cake loaf pans. Max busied himself with coloring while Abby darted back and forth to check the progress of the mini-cakes through the oven glass.
The room was filled with constant chatter and then … complete silence. Ahhhhh. Lunchtime. Nothing but the slurping of milk and crunching of crackers and once in a little while … “Brudder. You don’t want your cheese? I have it?” Topping it off with a banana and they are good to go!
Next, we settle in to create a diorama.
a model representing a scene with three-dimensional figures
Lightweight wood shadow box frames and some 3-D zoo animals were lined up and ready to go. Max took great care in painting his diorama. Lovely blue skies over lush green fields and dirt below where the animals will walk. His fence was painted green to blend in with the grassy meadow. He decided that the monkey should be climbing in the tree and the giraffe should be eating leaves of the tree. Abby, however, had a more abstract approach. She painted the entire inside of the diorama blue and then a touch of brown in the mix, happily stating “I made a waterfall.” She was thrilled with the result, and that is all that matters.
The campers were getting a little tired and were ready for a nap. Max climbed in the bed and immediately closed his eyes and just wanted to sleep. Abby was less interested in sleep, even though her perfect blue eyes were droopy and tired. Max didn’t make a peep. However, I heard what I thought was a quacking duck, and walked in the bedroom to see Abby sitting on her knees with her head bent down close to Max’s face while a very loud and raspy “QUACK QUACK QUACK” yelled from her mouth. I stood there until she noticed me. She immediately squinted her eyes tightly shut and made her way back to the pillow.
After nap time, we enjoyed reading the new books and playing with the stickers that came with the books. Mommy and Daddy joined us for Family Dinner and a little playtime. Great first camp day!
Maxwell Edward Gardner first entered my heart over the airwaves some 2000 miles away. Aunt Megan graciously held her cell phone so I could capture the first gentle baby noises of my grandson. My baby had just witnessed the birth of his baby, and a whole new world opened up.
We attended Max’s first birthday party over Skype and were honored to watch Max toddle around and open gifts and play with paper and boxes, as is the tradition of all children, it seems. By the time we moved back to Tucson from Leesburg, Virginia, Maxwell was eighteen months old blond hair and big blue eyes and a different expression every day. He wowed us with his curiosity in all things out of his reach and his wonderment at the small things that we adults forget about. Fluttering butterflies and puddles of rain water were at the forefront of his enjoyment, while we tend to put them on the back burner with usually a fleeting glance. Max would stop on our walk and crouch down to silently watch a butterfly tenderly landing on one bloom of a Bougainvillea and then another. And after his mind was satisfied with that display, he moved on to another, all the time taking it in and storing it in his memory to recall in a conversation later with mommy and daddy.
By age 3, Max was able to reason and explain himself like a high school graduate – only with cuter grammar! All through his five years, he has been a gentle, caring soul. Always tender with a hug and sweet word. As he has gotten closer to this milestone age of 5, he has mastered a dry sense of humor, the art of schmoozing and an imagination beyond his years. He takes great pride in his artwork and teaching me a song and entertaining a 2-year-old Abby. He has brought so much sunshine into my life.
Happy Birthday, Max. I can’t wait to see what you do in the next 5 years. But, let’s not have it go quite as fast. Deal? Your Nana wants to savor every moment.
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.
Say “Hello” to part of my ugly sofa. We bought this sectional in Virginia in May of 2010 before we moved into our brand new apartment. I love this sectional. It is yellow. It is roomy (seats 6). It is bouncy (just ask the grand kids). It is comfy. BUT … since it has been through grand kids in two states and of various ages; several Christmas open houses; family dinners and Easter get togethers, it is more than ready for a makeover. After drooling over $50 a yard fabrics at the fabric/craft stores, it was beyond my budget. Until one day when my friend, Joanne, advised me to pay a visit to Sas Fabric store. I had seen this store before, but figured it was more for able body seamstresses who knew what they were doing. So I took Joanne’s advice and headed down to Sas Fabrics. I found an amazing assortments of all types and colors and textures of fabrics at a fraction of the price at the other fabric/craft stores. Fabric that originally would sell for 38.99 per yard, was priced at 4.99. I took the fifteen yards they had left, figuring I would need at least 12 yards. $75 to cover the base parts of both pieces of the sectional was right up my alley. I will worry about getting complimentary fabric for the twelve cushions later.
Nice, new pale yellow with tiny squares of a soft sage color upholstery fabric in hand, I begin to formulate my plan. I set the fabric aside for several days, waiting to make my first move. Just not sure what that first move will be.
I removed all the back and seat cushions from both pieces of the sectional, tip them both over so that I am looking at the bottom of the sofa. I draped the fabric over the large piece, leaving about 3 feet of fabric hanging on each side and then do the same to the other piece. Since the backs are just flat, I think that would be the best place to start.
Trusty staple gun in hand, I attach the fabric to the bottom underneath and staple away.
So far, so good! With a quick flip of the sofas to their upright positions, I pull the fabric over the top and down to the seat, leaving about 4 inches to play with adhering the fabric to the front piece of the sofa that will be the backboard to the cushions. I cover the tailored skirt with the new fabric using the double-sided fusing. This also added a nice weight. I was careful to cover the entire strip underneath the skirts first, so that if/when a piece of the skirt was moved, I would still see the new fabric and not the old stuff. Yes, I am a bit OCD about things like that.
The upper corners are not finished – but the back is!
Look at the skirt – not the yucky cushions!
Of course, nothing beats working with a noteworthy assistant. Not too handy with the tools, but the face is to die for.
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!
And now, outdoors to enjoy some beautiful Thanksgiving weather and family photography!
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.
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!
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.
Our Camp day began with a bowl of cereal, washing hands and faces and off to Bookman’s on East Grant Road. For you non-Tucson residents, Bookmans, officially known as Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, is the largest used book retailer based in Arizona. It was founded in 1976 by Bob Oldfather, who is the current president of the company. There are now several Bookman stores selling high quality used books, sporting goods, musical instruments – you name it. This particular location has a kid’s Friday morning StoryTime session. They call it StoryTime, but it is so much more. Off we go!
These kids love books. Even Abby, not yet 2 years old, will grab a book and sit by herself and carefully turn the pages and scan intently at the words and illustrations. Once in a while you hear a delightful squeal as she finds something particularly interesting. It really is a site to see.
Max was very excited when we reached our destination. “I think my mommy taked me here, afore.” He is most likely correct, as Kerri has a love for books like I have never seen before. We make our way back to the “community room” complete with audience seating for probably 30. Some long tables off to the side are covered in paper plates, crayons, paints, kid friendly scissors, stickers, pipe cleaners, glitter and lots more. In the back corner of the room on a smaller area, is a cart with juice for the kids when they are ready.
Of course, I am early, so Max and Abby find a seat in the front row while I sit off to the side to not block little ones sitting behind me. As soon as storytime begins, all is quiet. In the first of several stories, Papa Chicken agrees to read a bedtime story to Little Red Chicken, but only if he promises NOT to interrupt. As Papa Chicken begins to read the book, Little Red Chicken chimes in with his imaginative contributions to the story. This continues throughout the book and as the kids caught on, laughter followed each interruption.
After a few more entertaining stories, time for some tunes! Before the hostess played songs on her guitar, she would announce each title.
Does everyone know the Wheels on the Bus?
MAX: oh, I know this song.
I know’d this song for a long long time.
Good job, everyone! How about the Itsy Bitsy Spider?
MAX: oh, my mommy teached me this song and she teached Abby too, but she can’t really do it very well.
Wow! You are all really good singers. How about You Are My Sunshine?
MAX: oh, I know that one. That is mommy’s favorite!