Virginia – Day 12

Waking up in Northern Virginia to five and one half inches of snow on the ground.  Brrrr.  Back in Arizona, this is our Springtime!  I had forgotten how the northeast cold can sting.  I heard the grandkids getting ready to play out in the snow.  Mateo and his Abuela, Gloria, made a snowman in the backyard and then safely transported it on a sled all the while gingerly maneuvering the gentle “hill”.  Once safely in place at the front of the house, the sled was removed and the little guy stood to greet all who passed by.

Since this was the beginning of Spring break, I was hoping to spend the day packing and playing with the grandkids.  Before I could engage them, they were packed up in the truck and whisked off to places unknown – probably to enjoy the day sledding or making snowballs.  I guess this would be the time to mention that not all was quiet on the Virginia front.  Ricky and Katia are in the beginnings of divorce proceedings.  My stay was not always welcome by my daughter in law.  There were biting comments and hurt feelings.  There had been several times over the past 14 years when a darker side had spewed ugly and mean words my way, but this was different.  This time there was a sort of finality.  I have never been  accustomed to a child screaming at a parent – no matter the age.  Being chastised and degraded by a child whom you have loved is not an easy thing to face.  And, frankly, it was never attempted in my childhood – let alone tolerated!  But, there it was.  And the sting of the words burned in a way that the icy weather never could.

I spent my last day working on some accounting issues and folding and picking up.  The curtains were open and the bright snow under the sun spilled a soul cleansing brightness over the room.

Rick picked me up after work and we headed to a home cooked meal graciously offered by Isabel and a welcome reprieve from the tension.  The children were entertaining, and after watching half of their beloved “the Voice”, they performed a dance routine for the grown-ups.

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Ricky and I returned to his house where he succumbed to sleep.  I had chosen to stay awake and work on my accounting.  We were leaving the house at 3 a.m. and I could sleep on the plane.  But not before venturing upstairs to kiss my grandkids goodnight and good-bye “until next time”.  Mateo is a philosophical child when it comes to good-byes and a tender one at heart.  Both of our eyes filled as we said our farewells and hugged and kissed and vowed that it would not be long before we spent time together again.  Marluce is my tough “I am a wanna be tomboy who loves to dress like a princess” mini-me (although I never wanted to be a tomboy!).  But her good-bye hugs are heartwarming and her words of wishing I did not have to leave her, are heartfelt.  Again with the tears and hugs and kisses and I had to tear myself away from her before I could not.

Virginia Day TWO

Ricky goes to work.  First day at his new job.

Katia goes to work.

Kids go to school.

I work on accounting and in early afternoon I get the bug to go outside – even though the air is still quite cold and crisp!  I see leaves.  I find a rake.  And three hours later, I find myself finished.  Back inside for a nice hot shower and more accounting.  Ricky picks me up and then we retrieve the kids from Majest. Home so they can change and off we go to Wegmans for pizza and movie night.  Some light grocery shopping afterwards and returning home, we find Katia hard at work on the goody bags for Mateo’s belated birthday party on Saturday morning.  Mateo has made it somewhat of a tradition to be sick on his birthday of February 10th.  This year it was strep throat.  Not sure if he has ever actually celebrated his birthday ON his birthday! 2013-03-15 20.24.482013-03-15 20.24.57

Virginia Day ONE

Ricky went to work.  Katia went to work.  Mateo & Marluce went to school.  I worked on accounting and visited with Gloria and generally just got settled.03 15 2013 2

Nearing evening time, Gloria and I left to pick up the kids at their after school program at Majest Martial Arts studio here in Ashburn.  Each day they are picked up by a limo,(Yes, I said limo) from their elementary school and transported to the studio, where they do their homework and then have Taekwondo lessons. Back Camera

The studio is immaculate and there are tables to use for homework and different classes for all ages.  Here are my two little almost black belts (Okay, they are white belts but they have stripes!) getting ready to come home with us.

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Stopped at the store on the way home.  Gloria rented the kids a movie, which we all enjoyed, before the kids had their bedtime.

and the time WHOOSHES by …

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

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

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

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

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

2012 in retrospect …

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

what a nice way to spend CHRISTMAS eve

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

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

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

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

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

trick or TREAT

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

 

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