Sunday, September 16, 2012

Who's your Papa?

I made this photo extra-large so that you could fully appreciate the awesomeness of it.
Oh, and the flowers aren't sprouting out of his head, just bad placement on my part.
(Why don't I see these things through the camera lens?)

Jeff has had Daniel over a couple of times so that he (Daniel) could help him (Jeff) paint the fence and do a few other odd jobs.. 
It's a paid gig, don't ya know?
So Daniel dresses the part, a mini-Papa, right down to the knee socks.
I find it particularly hilarious and have trouble hiding my giggles.

Last Friday night, Thomy slept at our house for the first time ever, except for when he was little and the whole family was visiting. The plan was that he would have his turn helping Papa paint the fence (darn that fence, it always needs painting!) and also spend some quality time with the grandparents.
I missed the photo of the fence-painting, although I suspect I would have had to be very fast to catch it. I recruited Thomy to help me prune the grapes and he enthusiastically agreed. 
He did a fine job, although he was leery of the spiderwebs. 

He clipped away with abandon and then helped me clean up all the debris.

He found this poor ladybug, ensnared in a nasty spider's web, so we freed it and placed it on a grape leaf.
I know, I know, spiders are just as important as ladybugs, but ladybugs score higher on the cuteness factor!

Thomy was fascinated by the passion flowers, so we picked some and floated them in my lovely new green bowl made of recycled glass. 

I do believe that passion flowers are the most intriguing flowers ever.

Thomy had a grand time finding long-lost Lego pieces at the bottom of the Lego bin and he made some great structures. Don't let the solemn face fool you: he was gleeful the entire time.

And that, I think, is one of the best things about being a grandparent: giving your grandchildren the chance to be just themselves. Not a sibling or a cousin (or a son or a daughter), with expectations and rivalries, but their own sweet and best self.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Nana Stories: Part III (The End of Summer Fling, Day 2)

After breakfast the next morning, we headed up the mountain to Magness Tree Farm. This lovely forest is managed by our friend Bill, who was nice enough to let us use the indoor bathroom instead of the PortaPotties. 
Thank you Bill.
I am never too ashamed to take advantage of a little nepotism.

There are several trails at the tree farm. We somehow ended up on the 1/2 mile, paved trail, that has many benches on which to sit and signs explaining the flora and fauna of the woods.
If you are very lucky, like me, you might see cute children adorning the benches.

Cute children who, I might add, were very noisy and rambunctious on their riparian ramble. No amount of coaxing on my part would induce them to be quiet, but I continued to read the signs in the hope that something would pique their interest. Everything I read was met with a loud and obnoxious "I know!" from eldest grandson. Finally, it became a joke and all four of them were singing "I know, I know" as we walked along.

We took a little detour to the source of the spring that was the only water supply for the original Magness family. One of the rugrats spotted a woodpecker. I was happy to point out that if they were very, very quiet, they would probably see many more interesting things.
It was like magic.
Suddenly, four children were creeping along, vigilantly peering into the trees to see what they could see.

This toppled tree is full of woodpecker holes.


...and looking. Natalie is examining more woodpecker holes.

We found a great tree for photos.

We crossed a stream on a wobbly plank.
Josh refused to have his photo taken. I guess I had exceeded his quota!

Natalie walked very carefully.

As we followed the trail along, we heard what we thought were birds talking to each other in the trees, so we stopped and listened. I soon realized that it was squirrels chattering to each other. We could see a couple of them sitting on branches and we had fun watching and listening to them. 

The next item on the agenda was Dairy Queen.

Josh and Natalie had the star thingy.

Kenzie, Daniel, and I split a chocolate cookie dough Blizzard, because I am cheap that way.
It was not my favourite.

We headed home for a quick lunch and then drove to Charlie and Sam's apartment complex, which has a swimming pool and an accommodating uncle, who spent a couple of hours tossing small children high into the air. 
I took way too many photos, because I loved capturing the expressions on Josh and Natalie's faces as they flew through the air.

This is the boy who is terrified of water.

Wasn't that exhilarating?
Myself, I sat on a lounge chair in the shade and read a very good book.
[Have you read Cutting for Stone? You should.]
Before anyone was ready, except for maybe Charlie, it was time to go home.
And that was it, until next year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nana stories: Part II (The End of Summer Fling, Day 1)

I know what you're thinking.
You mean we have to suffer through more than one day of this?
Yes indeed!

Bethany was bemoaning the fact that there were still two weeks left of summer holidays and wondering if she would survive the torture bliss.
I had a little think to myself as I drove home and decided to invite the kids over for a couple of days of fun in the sun. 
One of my friends does a week-long camp for her grandkids every summer.
I'm not that crazy resourceful, but I figured I had a good twenty-four hours in me.

The next Monday afternoon, Bethany gleefully wistfully dropped them off and danced her way out of the door with Madelyn.

I had done a little prep work and mooched some giant bubble paraphernalia from my friend, Hope. 
Let me tell you, this Nana rocked the entertainment factor that evening! Here is the link to the bubble instructions, just in case you want to be mighty like me.
Or, if you're very polite, I'll give you Hope's number!

Next on the menu was customized individual pizzas for dinner.
I whipped up a gluten-free crust for Josh and he was meticulous in the placement of his toppings: pepperoni, olives, and pineapple.
No cheese for this dairy-free boy!

Here it is, ready to go in the oven. I wish I had gotten a photo of him eating it. I have never seen him eat anything quite so gleefully, with little grunts of satisfaction. He ate almost the whole pizza for dinner and the rest for lunch the next day. This Nana's heart was most delighted.

Kenzie and Natalie with their more traditional pizzas. Natalie discovered that she likes pineapple on her pizza.

Daniel had breadsticks, as usual, and I forgot to take a photo but I would have had to be quick as they were eaten in a flash.

After dinner, we played with the bubbles some more and then got ready for bed.
Pyjamas were donned and teeth cleaned.

We played an excruciatingly long game of Uno and then went to bed.
Promises of "lots of fun tomorrow" quelled their tendency to chatter and they were soon asleep.
My pillow and I were very happy to see each other.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Nana stories: Part I

It was a dark and stormy night....

If you've been reading for any length of time, you know that Jeff and I give our grandchildren gifts of experiences, rather than the usual toys or clothes. Last year in July, I told Bethany we would pay for swimming lessons for Josh for his birthday. Time went by...and by....and by, until I finally learned that Josh didn't want swimming lessons. He is scared of many things, remember? Water is one of them. 
So I planned an outing for Josh and Thomy to the art studio, thus taking care of T's birthday in May this year and J's birthday last year.
Whew. Sometimes the tracking of all this stuff gets a bit convoluted for my aging brain!

So, on a sunny Friday morning, off we trotted to My Masterpiece Art Studio, the setting of many happy outings for the Osborne progeny. 
The first time I took Josh there he refused to make a project and just watched his siblings and cousin. Towards the end of our visit, he decided he wanted to participate, so I let him use some of the clay that the other kids were using, dabbling his toes in the artistic waters, so to speak. I had promised to take him another time, now that he had decided it was an okay thing.

It was Monster Day again! What are the odds of that happening twice, a year apart? 
I told the boys that they could choose two projects each. 
Thomy chose a monster collage and painted an articulated wooden weiner dog that looked just like Squeaker. 
Josh, of course, chose only the collage and could not be bribed, coerced, or otherwise talked into a second one.

The monsters were pretty awesome-looking, don't you agree?

And, just because Josh hardly ever smiles so big on demand, here's another one.

Thomy takes his art quite seriously.

After this we went to Pump It Up, the play zone of inflatable bouncy things, and had lots of fun but no photos. 

And, just for a lark, how about some Madelyn photos to sweeten your day?

What's that you ask? 
What is Josh getting for his latest birthday?
Only tickets to go to a Timbers game with his Papa! I tried to renege on the promise and come up with something else after I found out that all their games were sold out, but someone's Mommy was pretty insistent that He Had Been Told. I swallowed my disgruntlement with ticket scalpers and bought two in the secondary market.
In thirty years, when I am old and decrepit and I ask him, "Josh, what was the best night of your life", he had better say, "The time Papa took me to my first Timbers game"!

The End.