Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31, 2013 - AZ

Well, here we are, the last day of 2013.  It was a rough one, but I have to also remember the joyful events of the last year - especially, the birth of my twin granddaughters, Camille and Norah.  Although I lost the love of my life, I am thankful for the many loving family members and dear friends that have helped me to carry on and to be able to also have some joy in my life.

May 2014 bring us all happiness and good health.

After many months of grieving, I am ready for an evening with friends at my community's New Years Eve party.  Ron and Becky went with me and we had a really nice time.  I danced a lot and Becky danced a few.  We toasted midnight in New York at 10:00 for the early-to-bed folks, then again at midnight.  I had a lot of fun and it felt good to have a lively evening.

Happy New Years!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 23 - 30, 2013 - AZ

Monday, December 23.  Christmas is coming up too quickly and I wish I could just blink and it would be 2014.  Although I am looking forward to Sharon, Becky, Ron, Brooke, and Elizabeth's arrival on Christmas Day.  

I’ve started to pick away at getting the house ready for guests and got the lasagna for Christmas dinner assembled.

Frisco has been digging at his ear and yipped when I touched it yesterday, so we were off to see the vet today.  His left ear is fine, but the right has a bacterial infection.  The treatment is cleaning with a solution, putting in drops, and Benadryl.  Poor guy.  As I was leaving, they were bringing a big Golden Retriever that had been attacked by a Pitbull.  The poor thing couldn't walk, so it was wheeled in on a gurney and it's whole front shoulders and chest were covered in blood and cuts.  I hope the outcome was good.

Tuesday, December 24.  The sadness crept in last night and I couldn't stop crying.  This season is supposed to be filled with joy and happiness, but instead, it is filled with grief and sadness for so many lost family members this year.  I think I will find some time to look through photos of past Christmases and remember those joyful and hectic times.

Thursday, December 26.  Yesterday morning, after a nice Christmas conversation with Pat and Tracey, I got to open gifts with the Bridge family in SF on FaceTime.  Charlotte was all about the presents and it took several conversations to let her know that all of the gifts were not for her - that we not only received gifts but we gave some too.  And that there were gifts for everyone.  It was the next best thing to being there.

My 3 little elves.

Sharon, Becky, Ron, Brooke, and Elizabeth arrived from Wisconsin around 1:00.  After the grand tour of my little box, we shared a nice lasagna dinner together, went for a walk to see the Christmas lights in Brentwood, and we all retired early.

Today, we drove to the Grand Canyon because Sharon had never seen it.  There was snow up there, from Sedona north to the canyon.  The weather was actually pretty nice, mid 50's and sunny and the views were worth the drive - the long, long drive.

Friday, December 27.  Ron surprised his family yesterday morning with a hot air balloon ride and I got to go along.  We left the house at 6 am and headed to Deer Valley where we all piled into a van and headed to state land trust property, where there were about 10 other balloon crews getting ready to take off at sunrise.  Our crew was very efficient and we were the 2nd ballon to lift off.  The flight was as enjoyable as I could ever imagine with beautiful views, a smooth ride and just high enough (about 1700 feet) to give us great views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, the entire valley, and desert.  The ride was about 90 minutes long. I'm so glad that I went along - I thoroughly enjoyed it - one of those bucket list items that got checked off.  Many thanks to Ron for including me.

When we got back home, we packed up Lizzie and dropped her off at Becky's friend, Deena's house where she will stay with her friend for a few days.  We then headed to the Mesa Marketplace Flea Market for some shopping.

I went to the clubhouse tonight to cut up grocery bags for making crocheted sleeping mats for the homeless.  About 10 people showed up and we cut the base and handles off the bags, then cut the bags in strips that will be joined together to make the yarn, then crocheted.  We have been told by the Salvation Army that these mats provide a comfortable cushion, are good insulators against the heat and cold and also are somewhat water proof.

Saturday, December 28.  We all slept in this morning and it sure felt good.  Once we were all showered, had a good breakfast, and were ready for the day, we went to Goldfield Ghost Town and strolled around, watched a cowboy gunfight in the streets, and had a beer and burger on the patio that overlooked the Superstition Mountains.  Gorgeous!  It is truly the Wild West, as folks come there by horseback - there were at least a dozen horses tied to the rail in the parking lot.  A man looking a lot like Sam Elliott was having a beer right next to us.

Later on, my guests all went to see the Christmas lights at Glendale and at the Mormon Temple in Mesa.  I opted to stay at home and enjoy the quiet - and I did just that.

Sunday, December 29.  The Green Bay Packers were playing the Chicago Bears today and Ron and Sharon wanted to see the game and Pat and Roger invited them to Val Vista Village to watch it with them.   Becky and I went to Usery Mountain Regional Park to hike with Deena.  I knew  that we were going on about a 3-hour hike, but I didn't know that it was a 7.5 mile hike - a bit more than I am used to hiking.  I trucked along, we stopped and rested, and I was able to make it the entire distance.  I couldn't quite keep up with Deena's pace (a quite ambitious gal, my age, who is training for the upcoming Phoenix Marathon) so we slowed a bit, took a few breaks, and we made it in 4-hours.  The views were spectacular and the trail was not difficult, just long.  From the north side of the mountain, you could see the fountain at Fountain Hills.

Dena and Becky

Me and Becky

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16 - 22, 2013 - AZ

Monday, December 16.  I'm upset.  I found the back to an earring on the floor in the bathroom this morning and after searching and searching, I was unable to find the earring.  It was a gift from Mike years ago and I don't want to lose another reminder of him.  

I'm happy!  I found the earring on the floor of the bathroom when I got home from running errands this morning.  Yay!

My car cost me $160 this morning when I took it in for an oil change and was told that the transmission fluid looked dark.  He didn't charge me for the oil change but I was surprised at the bill.  And then, when I got back home, I got to thinking that my car is smart - it would probably tell me when to change the transmission fluid.  That proves that I'm not thinking too clearly these days.  And it cost me $$$ that I may not have had to spend.  They also told me that I had a leak in the front struts - this, I believe might be covered on my warranty, so will check it out.

I'm sad.  Sharon called to tell me that Mom is not doing well.  She hadn't opened her eyes all day, her blood sugars were really high, and her apnea causes her to stop breathing at times.  Poor Mom, she is there without any family nearby, as they are getting snow and the roads are treacherous.  The thought of losing another person in the Bridge family is making me feel really sad. 

Wednesday, December 18.  Rest in Peace, dear mother-in-law, Jane Bridge.  She passed away about 6:30 pm, shortly after Tom, Karen, and Becky left her side.  Pat spent time with her on Tuesday and said that she did open her eyes but he didn't feel any acknowledgement from her. 

Here are some of my thoughts on this great lady:

Jane Bridge, known to me as “Mom” since I met her back in 1966 (just 2 years after losing my own mother), when she welcomed me to her family with open arms.  From the beginning, I’ve known her to be a giver.  She dedicated her life to nurturing and caring for others.  Early in her marriage, during a time when she lost several babies of her own, she provided foster care for babies that were up for adoption.  Then she and Dad started their family by adopting Mike and then their family grew when they had 2 more sons and a daughter to love and care for.  When her own children were grown, she became the caretaker for other children, including mine at various times.   
It was nothing to her if there was one or more extra mouths to feed at dinner time.  What a good cook and fine baker she was, always trying out new recipes and making sure there were plenty of everyone's favorites around.  When grandchildren came, the crib and the toybox that were stored in the attic came out.  She was my expert resource on raising children and I tried to live by her loving example.  I have fond memories of sitting on the front porch stoop, chatting with the neighbors, gathering around the kitchen table for meals, sitting around the campfire at the cabin, sharing books and watching soap operas, going for long drives just to watch the scenery

When her family grew up and Dad retired, they enjoyed spending time outdoors, at their cabin, and traveling  in their campers.  A lover of all animals, she took in strays and always had pets to care for and to take comfort from, many of them were rescued from bad situations.  She loved feeding and watching the birds, shooting bottle rockets to scare the crows that were robbing other bird's nests, and marveling at the antics of the squirrels.

I will cherish these memories forever - she will always be "MOM" to me. 

Saturday, December 21.  I can't believe that it was 8:30 when I woke up this morning - and I was in bed by 8:00 last night.  Guess I needed a long night's sleep. 

I've spent a lot of time on the phone the last few days with family and friends, calling because they heard about Mom, or just calling to talk and give Christmas wishes.  I am so thankful to have such a warm circle of loving folks around me. 

The family has decided to have a small graveside service for Mom on Jan. 3, and then have an informal family gathering to celebrate her life in June.  I will not be flying back for that but will definitely be there this summer.

I stayed busy all day, but don't ask me what I did.  Oh, Allan and Sharon were in the area, so they stopped by for a light lunch and a very nice visit.  I loaned Sharon some of my antique bottles so she could use them in a still life painting.  I can't wait to see what she creates!

Sunday, December 22.  After getting all of my groceries yesterday, I had what I needed to make the sauce for the Christmas lasagna and I put a pork loin in the crock pot so we could have pulled pork sandwiches later in the week.  I also made some fudge and unbaked caramel cookies.

Pat and Roger joined me for dinner of pork roast, baked potato, and carrots.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 14-15, 2013 - AZ

Sunday, December 15.  I slept in yesterday morning until 8:15 - boy, did that feel good.  I also got to FaceTime with the twins for a few minutes and managed to get big smiles from both of them.m It didn't take me long to get back involved in the community and see several of my friends, starting with a stop at the clubhouse yesterday morning to pay  my annual community association dues and also to vote for area representative (the person who is responsible for welcoming newcomers and keeping folks informed).

I'm scrambling to finish up on the gifts to send to WI and CA (no room in my bags when I went there) and I'm working on a hat and mittens for Charlotte (a project that got started out there but was unable to finish).  I will have to post a photo when I get it done.

Today was nice and included some relaxation in my yard and chats with a couple of neighbors.  Right now, there is an apple dessert in the oven and a pot of chili on the stove.  The chili got me thinking of Mike and missing him - one of his all time favorites - I would have scored big time with him.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 9 - 13, 2013 - SF, then back to Mesa

Tuesday, December 10.  As you can see from the heading on this post, I have only a few more days here with the family before heading back home to Mesa.  Charlotte seems to have a good understanding about the switch in grandparents that is occurring in her life these last few months, and she is talking about it every day.  It is amazing how much the twins have changed since I arrived here.  The 2-3 pound weight difference is quite noticeable, their little legs are getting chubby and they have graduated to the next size in clothing and diapers.  They will really look different 6 weeks from now when I get back again.

I took this cute photo last Friday, as CC was dressed in her vintage coat and getting ready to go to daycare.  No, she wouldn't turn around and face the camera.
Here, she is helping to make pancakes.

Thursday, December 12.  My conversation with Charlotte this morning as I leaned over her crib, went like this:  CC: "I'm going to Mikey's house". Me:  "Who's Mikey?"  CC:  "Grandma's friend". Me:  "Grandpa Mike?  He's my best friend."  CC:  "I love him."  Then she kissed me on the forehead.  Wimpy me, had to wipe the tears from my eyes.

Finally, a photo op that worked.

Friday, December 13.  Yes, it is Friday the 13th and it's a good thing that I'm not superstitious because I'm flying back to AZ today.  The lucky penny that I found in my suitcase should bring me good luck.  It is also 10 months since we lost Mike and I miss him just as much as I did back then.  I just keep trying to move ahead each day and feel good that I have been able to keep myself going in a positive way.  My family and friends are so supportive and helpful.

All connections and travel arrangements went well, in fact, my flight took off early and arrived in Mesa 20 minutes early.  I was also impressed with Super Shuttle who called to let me know my pickup time and arrived at exactly that time - and got me to the airport with time to spare.  The guy got a good tip. Pat and Roger picked me up and we went to Simpleton's for fish fry.   Very good, except for the coleslaw.  Frisco was happy and excited to see me.  It feels good to be back home.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 2 - 8, 2013 - CA

Tuesday, December 3.  The weather was gorgeous on Sunday and after a delicious breakfast, the whole family headed out on a walk with a stop at the local playground.  Charlotte's little legs carried her for 12 blocks with very little assistance from an adult.  As we walked along together, she asked me "where's Grandpa Mike?" And then she said, "I want to see him?"  It just broke my heart - and then it was hard trying to keep my tears hidden from her - not that I am concerned about her seeing me cry, but that it would just bring up another question that would be hard to answer.

Yesterday's weather turned more wintry, that didn't matter much for my grocery shopping outing, but it did make for a chilly walk later on.  Jill and I headed to Cassava, a nice little cafe on Balboa St but they were closed, so then we went up the next block to another cafe and we discovered that neither of us had any money with us, so our plan to have a nice, warm drink got nixed.  We headed up the steep hill on 37th Ave for the library but when we got there, we had no library card.  Busted.

I made a yummy beef stew for dinner tonight - another successful Martha Stewart recipe.

I just couldn't decide on an activity to do with Charlotte this morning (it's another cool and cloudy day) and finally decided on walking to the library.  It turned out to be a good choice, as we got there just in time for the toddler story time and she really enjoyed it.  We picked out a few books and headed back home.  For lunch today, we had our 10th meal from the Thanksgiving dinner.  

Wednesday, December 4.  Today was mellow and uneventful, with CC at daycare and the twins starting to get more on a routine.  Jill was able to get lots of things done and I was able to finish a crochet project that I have been working on - hats for the twins. The photo doesn't show the true color of the yellow - it is a pretty buttercup yellow and they fit Norah and Camille just right.  They are growing so fast that I should probably start working on the next bigger size.

Pat sent me photos of the memorial tribute for Mike on the Trellis Tree at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison that was donated by his friend, Don.  What a special and meaningful gesture. I will look forward to seeing it in person.

Jill had an opportunity to have an evening away from home, so Ben and I were the tag team tonight.  Norah had a long, fussy spell but Ben was able to settle her down after a while, and then Camille started, so it was my turn.  That's how it often goes.  There is nothing like having a beautiful sleeping baby in your arms, though - so that is the reward.

Friday, December 6.  Yesterday, I decided to take Charlotte to the Academy of Sciences again and we had a great time browsing around the aquariums, sat in the snowman shaped igloo and learned about the North Pole, Caribou, and the seasons.  Outside they were making snow and we also got to see some live reindeer.  It was a fun time together.

This morning, Jill and I decided that a walk was in order, so we headed from 35th Avenue to 21st Avenue along Geary Blvd to the post office and to pick up some wrapping paper.  It was a nice day and an enjoyable walk.  

This afternoon, the twins had their 2-month checkup and Get their first set of vaccinations. They are exactly the same height and Camille weighs about 10 ounces more than Norah, they are both over 9 pounds.  Yeah!  Team Bridge is doing a great job!  It was painful for Jill and I when they cried out from the shots.  They have been sleeping ever since we got back home except for one very fussy spell for both of them.  Wouldn't you know that Charlotte would choose that very same time to be uncooperative and throw a tantrum.  All is quiet now and we are not complaining.  It takes a village.

Next week at this time, I will be settling back into my home in Mesa.  It is hard to believe that it is time for the next Gransition, aka the Granny Switcheroo.  I'm going to miss the activity and bring around this family, but I also look forward to having some down time. 

Sunday, December 7.  It is quiet.  Charlotte and the twins are napping, Ben is surfing the internet, Jill is browsing through photos, and I was working on a crochet project when I got to thinking they it would be a good time to write.  After breakfast, we all headed to the playground but the wind was so cold that Jill decided to head back home with the babies.  I stayed at the playground with 
Charlotte and Ben went for a short run.  The playground was a bit sheltered for the wind, so it wasn't too bad, especially when CC has a way of keeping you moving.

Just a Swinging

Yesterday, the family went to a birthday party, so I decided to go shopping - not a great plan, as the traffic was awful, the stores crowded and busy, and it just wasn't much fun.  I think I will save my shopping for Mesa where the parking lots are huge and I can go mid-week when the stores aren't too busy.  The best part of my afternoon was the drive along the Great Highway where I could see the huge waves coming in on the beach and lots of folks flying and riding on kites.

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25 - 30, 2013 - SF

Monday, November 25.  Happy Birthday to my daughter-in-law, Tracey!  Wow!  She was born the year that I graduated from high school.  I feel old.

This week has started on a good note.  I was with the twins for about 3 hours today and I enlists the help of my friend, Marta.  She said that she even cut her fingernails last night so she would be prepared for handling babies.  They were quiet and ate well for us.  Jill treated us to some yummy sandwiches and a pastry from La Boulange for lunch.

The upstairs neighbor stopped by to see if any of us had heard any noises from the basement last night, as her husband's golf clubs and mountain bike were stolen from the garage.  Later on, when he got home, he discovered that all of his hunting equipment was also missing.  It doesn't seem like any of Ben and Jill's stuff was taken but then, they don't have a lot of high tech stuff down there.  I sleep right over the area where the clubs were and I never heard a thing.  For years, I have been the lightest of sleepers but not recently.  My days are so full that when I hit the bed, I am out.  

I have always envied Mike's ability to sleep anywhere at any time, even when even when I was driving.  Ha!  Recently, I have been able to enjoy it myself.

Thursday, November 28.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of my wonderful family and friends!  I am thankful to have you in my life.  Unfortunately, my day hasn't been too happy.  I started feeling ill around 4:30 this morning and haven't improved.  I have been holed up in Ben and 
Jill's room most of the day.  Their friends, Joan, Kerry, Henry and Penelope are here to share the dinner.  We decided there was no way we could manage a big dinner, so we bought the prepared dinner from Whole Foods.  Everything is precooked and just has to be warmed when it gets here.  The smells from the kitchen are yummy?  I don't think I will be having any today, as even simple crackers are not sitting well.  Top that all with the depressing thought of a holiday without Mike and I would like to crawl in a hole.

I spent some time with the twins alone this week and was feeling fortunate that they weren't hungry or fussing at the same time. It went well both times.

Friday, November 29.  Well, I missed out on Thanksgiving dinner and the togetherness of family but I did wake up feeling better today.  I'm certainly not feeling good, but definitely feeling better than 
I did yesterday.  I started slow with food this morning and was able to have leftovers for lunch.  Ben is working from home today, so he took his break this morning and we all walked to the playground.  It is an absolutely gorgeous day here and it felt good to get outdoors for a breath of fresh air.

Jill made a large pot of turkey noodle soup for dinner and we will get at least 3 meals out of it.

Saturday, November 30.  My stomach is feeling much better today.   My morning started with a nice FaceTime conversation with Pat and Tracey.  Charlotte really warmed up to them when he showed her his cats.  That really broke the ice and then she talked to him a lot.  

We had some interesting ways of using up the Thanksgiving leftovers and have actually gotten about 6 meals out of half a turkey dinner.  Ben made a breakfast casserole this morning with leftover dressing put in a buttered baking dish, indentations made and eggs out in them, topped with grated parmesan cheese and baked until the eggs were done - yummy!  For dinner, we made Potato Croquettes - leftover mashed potatoes and diced turkey, an egg and some flour added to bind, rolled in balls, dipped in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs and fried to a golden brown - delicious!  A little more time consuming than we expected though.

The twins are getting stronger every day, lifting their heads and looking right at you when you hold them.  They are also starting to smile and make some cooing sounds.

Norah Lou

Camille Rose

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Elf on the Shelf came out and the story was read at least 3 times, the stockings were hung on the fireplace, and we got a Christmas tree today.  The fun begins.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 18 - 24, 2013 - SF

Monday, November 18.  Jill took the twins in to be weighed this morning and got good news that Norah gained 7 ounces and Camille gained 9, mostly from nursing.  They are 6 weeks old today. The Bridge team is doing a great job and it is true, it does take a village.

Tuesday, November 19.  We were off to the JC Penney photo studio this morning and had to have the 3 kids and ourselves ready to leave here by 9:30.  It was only 20 minutes later when we loaded up the car.  Kind of chaotic with Charlotte changing her clothes every 10 minutes, putting her shoes on and then taking them off, the twins getting diapers changed, then filling them again before you even get them buttoned up, and trying to get ourselves ready too.

Charlotte was fascinated with the mall and all of the Christmas decorations, and we let her play in the mall playground before doing photos.  She was not into the photo shoot at all.  If the photographer had been more experienced, he would have captured at least a couple of shots of her and her sisters before she would have no more of it.  They got several shots of the twins but none of them were really great.

And then when we got back home, Charlotte didn't even take a nap.  She laid in her crib for over an hour but never did sleep.  

Wednesday, November 20.  Today's plan:  drop Charlotte off at Maggie's, do the grocery run, make granola, make spaghetti for dinner.  Today's actual: Charlotte woke up vomiting, clean up and do laundry, take shower, Charlotte vomits, clean up, do more laundry, bathe Charlotte, repeat this twice more, quick trip to Fresh and Easy and CVS (neighborhood stores) for necessaries, Charlotte sleeps most of the afternoon and is ready for bed early, Ben picked up burritos for dinner.  In between, helping with twins.  

Poor Charlotte, she was worried that she made a mess, kept asking "what did CC do?", she even told us that it was a sad day.  I just felt so helpless.  It was also a gray and rainy day all day - that doesn't help you to have a good mood.

I'm tired.  Good night.

Thursday, November 21.  Today has been better, Charlotte is feeling better but still running a slight fever.  I wasn't feeling completely up to par though, maybe just tired out from yesterday.  I kind of felt on the verge of coming down with something all day.  We shall see.

Friday, November 22.  I am remembering the loss of President John F Kennedy fifty years ago today.  A sad, sad, event for our country.  I remember coming home from school that day to a very sad mother who thought the world of that man.

I woke up feeling just fine this morning - yay!  We have a lot of catching up to do, as little gets done when CHwrlotte is around, she is such a busy, jabbering gal (she kind of talks nonstop) these days and being sick doesn't help.  So... After breakfast I dropped her off at daycare, stopped at the credit union, got groceries at TJs, got the rest of the groceries at Cal Mart, had some lunch, went for a nice walk with Jill and the twins, helped with bathtime, cut up veggies for snacks, and started to prep dinner.  Whew!  Now I have a few moments to write a bit.

The weather was gorgeous today.

Sunday, November 24.  Here we are, approaching the week of Thanksgiving already, the last week of November, and the end if my 3rd week here in SF.  Each week, there have been noticeable differences in the twins development.  They are growing so quickly.

We try to have big breakfasts on the weekends, so Ben made bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast yesterday and I made biscuits and gravy today.  They all had a birthday party to go to yesterday, so I had a couple of hours to just enjoy the quiet house.  I lounged in the tub, made a couple of phone calls, had a glass of wine, and watched a couple of episodes of Arrested Development.

Today, Ben and I took the 4 girls (we can't forget Ruby-doo) for a walk - it's another beautiful sunny day.

This weeks photos of my girls:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 11 - 17, 2013 -SF

Tuesday, November 12.  Yesterday was Veterans's Day and in honor of Mike, we made his favorite casserole for dinner, Mrs. Gumtow's.  This was one of his go to dishes whenever he was the cook.  I will share because everyone who has tried it, loves it.

Mrs Gumtow’s Casserole

1 lb hamburger
1 lb bacon, cut in 1” pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 ½ to 2 cups of wide egg noodles
shredded cheddar cheese
1 bottle Del Monte Chili Sauce (no substitutes)
1 can Del Monte peas (no substitutes)
2 dashes bitters
1 tbsp ketchup

Brown bacon, drain (leaving approximately 1 tbsp of grease in pan).  Place bacon in a 9 x 12 baking pan.  Saute onions in remaining bacon grease until clear.  Add onions to bacon.  Brown hamburger and add to other ingredients in pan.  While burger is browning, cook noodles.  Add noodles.  Add ketchup, bitters, juice from peas, and chili sauce.  Mix gently.  Add peas & mix gently.  Sprinkle shredded cheese on top and bake at 325° for 30 minutes.

This morning, Charlotte and I headed off to the zoo, in hopes of catching the feeding of the penguins.  With a few minutes before feeding time, we headed off to see the baby gorilla and all of the gorilla's we're active this morning, including the big silverback who was quite interested in us.  We made it to the penguins just in time to catch the last if the feeding.  Most of our time was spent at the petting zoo.

Friday, November 14.  What a week!  These 3 little girls really know how to keep 2 adults busy all day long.  It's been a long week for Ben, as he has gone back to work but is busy before and after.  Jill and I are going nonstop with maybe a 1-hour quiet time each afternoon.  Jill had a doctor appointment on Wednesday, so I went along and the twins stayed fast asleep in their car seats while she was seeing her doctor. Yesterday, she took Charlotte to a play day and I stayed home with them.  She got back just in time, to sac me from having to feed them both at the same time.   My world is full of diaper changes, shushing, feeding, burping, and keeping up with Charlotte.  Whew!

Mike has now been gone for 9 months and I could really use the comfort of him being around and having a hug whenever I need it.  I miss him every single day, but anniversaries even more so - something about a date that you remember keeps it right up front all day long.  It was an emotional day for me.

The cleaning lady came today, so Jill and I packed up the twins and went for a nice long walk (it's s beautiful day) with a stop at the Garden Cafe for some lunch.  We got home just as Betty and her staff were leaving.  It is quiet now, not for long, so I'm going to just shut my eyes and take a brief nap.

Sunday, November 17.  Well, it has been a good week all around.  Ben and his family got some time in together yesterday morning with a walk to the playground.  I did the grocery shopping while they were gone.  Today, Some friends took Charlotte for a play day and the 3 of us took the twins and 
Ruby for a walk.  Like I said, a good week.some recent photos:

Two fisted drinker.
Grandma coddles both at one time.
One way to get a nap.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4 - 10, 2013 - Back to SF

Monday, November 4.  I met up with the usual group of walkers this morning, so I had a chance to say goodbye.  I just love these little gatherings with friends and I'm going to miss them.

Oh my, will I be able to fit everything in my suitcase?  I sorted things out - again and I think I will make it.  A trip to the local CVS will be necessary though.  Also, the purchase of a giant piece of luggage might have to be added to the "things to buy" list.

I made it to SF after an uneventful trip.  My flight was not full, in fact, the giant that was sitting in the middle seat next to me was able to move to one of the exit row seats and we were all happy about that.  We even took off about 10 minutes early.  The shuttle ride to Ben's house was also not bad.

And then I got to meet Norah and Camille.  They are so tiny!  And very sleepy too.  Charlotte was in bed by the time I arrived, so bright and early tomorrow morning, I get to see her again.  I'm sure she has changed a lot in the last 6 weeks.

Tuesday, November 5.  I heard Charlotte stirring this morning, so I went to her bedroom door.  She gave me a great big smile and reached for me and said "Grandma Rose, you went away".  I told her that I came back and she said it as ok for me to stay awhile.  We read stories and had some breakfast, then later on we were off to the playground.  She has gone through a growth spurt and is now speaking in complete sentences and expressing herself very clearly.  We had fun at the playground and she had to show me her new climbing skills.

It is a whirlwind around here, something happening constantly.  The twins aren't quite up to speed on the nursing thing, so the routine seems to be to nurse, to follow up with bottles, Jill pumps, they get changed, then a couple of hours later, it starts all over again, throughout the day.  They are coming around, gaining weight, and looking healthy.  Ben is back to work this week (from home).  

By 9:00, we are all pooped and ready to call it a day.  It may be a little more laid back on the days that Charlotte goes to daycare.  We shall see.

Thursday, November 7.  Happy 1 Month Birthday to my beautiful twin granddaughters.  Too bad, they are both conjested and fussy today.

Friday, November 8.  Today is my brother-in-law Dan's birthday and it is sad that he didn't live to even see his Medicare birthday.  I miss hearing from him and I know that his family back home is having a hard day today.

After dropping Charlotte off at daycare this morning, I went to the brand new Target store at the end of Geary St, as a humidifier is needed to help clear up the twins' nasal congestion.  We all managed to get showers in after I got back home - they have to be squeezed in whenever there is a quiet moment. Ben took his lunch break so we could all go for a nice walk together with Norah and Camille in their new stroller.  

Sunday, November 11.  The weekend has flown right by.  The family was able to get out for a walk and playtime at the playground with Charlotte and Jill's friend, Joan, came for a visit and brought us lunch on Sunday.  

Charlotte is all about playing with anything that is for the babies.  Check out the difference is sizes here where she was convinced that she could fit in a newborn pj.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 1 - 3, 2013 - AZ

Saturday, November 2.  Yesterday, several girlfriends and I headed out to Val Vista Lakes for their community garage sales.  The number of sales was a bit disappointing but we all managed to find something.  My lucky find was identical outfits for the twins.  I could hardly resist but I had to hold back because I don't  have that much room in my suitcase to carry all of the stuff I have set aside to take with me.

I've been getting things together for my trip back to SF and this activity upsets Frisco.  He is hiding, pouting, and not eating as he should.  He will be staying at my house with Pat, Roger, and Louie and will adjust to that change of routine in no time.

Sunday, November 3.  Connie, Pat, Roger, the 2 dogs and I are heading out for a desert hike this morning.  I better get in gear.

I met a young guy a while back that told me about the Meridian Trail, so that is where we headed.  Connie knew that if you took Meridian drive to the parking area that you could hike along there.  The short trail from the parking lot actually leads to the Pass Mountain trail that circles Usery State Park.  We headed to the left but soon found that the trail wasn't very well marked, so we returned to our starting point and headed the other direction.  That trail was clearly marked but became really rocky, so we turned around and headed back.  By the time we got back to our starting point again, we had walked for almost 1 1/2 hours - and we all agreed that was plenty.

Dry Wash

I decided that I should spend as much time outdoors today as I can - it certainly won't be this warm when I get to SF.  So I read, relaxed, crocheted, and napped out on the patio or in the back yard.

Arlene invited me to join her, Charla, and Tom for dinner and she made BBQ ribs, mashed potatoes, yummy Brussels sprouts and cherry pie.  That prevented me from having the bean soup that I've already had for 3 other meals in the last week or so.  Thanks, Arlene!

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28 - 31, 2013 - AZ

What a surprise this morning when the BT Cruiser pulled up in front of my house and I got an incredibly nice hug from my BFF, Pat, and Roger too. Louie just walked off in the other direction.  I was expecting me pretty soon but thought I would get a phone call first.  The personal touch was much, much better.

I had my follow-up appointment with the Cardiologist this afternoon and that was another surprise.  First, the stress test showed that my heart is pumping blood as it should, but my heart function is 55% (the average for a woman my age is between 50 and 75%).  The monitor showed that my average heart rate was 70 (that is good) - no concerns about the low heart rate that was found at my annual checkup.  The echo cardiogram showed that my heart walls have damage, possibly because of a previous heart attack that I was totally unaware of.  Well maybe not - is this what was going on in the middle of the night when I called 911 while visiting Bob in KC?  That is when the Bundle Branch Block drew attention.  Who knows???

The plan is to have no treatment for the time being unless I start to have any symptoms like chest pressure, shortness of breath, fainting, etc.  If I do have symptoms, then I need to have an angiogram that would check my arteries for blockages.  So, I am relieved but not real happy with the heart function number that I was given.  I am still fairly active and plan to try to continue that - he said there should be no problem doing anything that I am accustomed to do.

Pat and Roger joined me for dinner and we had another great visit.  Rog made me the best Old Fashioned that I've had since leaving Wisconsin.

Tuesday, October 29.  That Old Fashioned really helped me to have a good night's sleep - I didn't even start to stir until almost 7:00 this morning.

The windshield installers were to show up by noon and weren't here.  Then I looked at my phone and realized that the ringer was off (since my doctor appointment yesterday) and I had missed several calls from them and they went on to another job.  Darn.  No problem, as they came to my house when they finished that job and I now have another new windshield.

Wednesday, October 30.  It is a chilly morning, only in the upper 50s.  I had to grab a sweater and some socks to keep me warm this morning.

Frisco and I went to see Allan and Sharon this morning.  The dogs seemed happy to see each other and they had fun chasing and playing.  And I got to see the paintings that they completed over the summer and are currently working on.  I just love visiting them, as it is like going to a gallery and also getting a feel for what the landscapes in different parts of the country are like.  Best of all is the great conversation that we always have together, not to mention a yummy lunch too.

Friday, October 31.  Happy Halloween to all!  Not much happening in my world for this least favorite holiday of mine; no decorations, no costumes, and no trick or treaters coming to the house.  It was fun seeing photos of my niece and nephew's kids, though.  And here is one of my trick or treating Lion.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 21 - 27, 2013 - AZ

Monday, October 21.  This is the week of tests that will determine if my low heart rate is a concern.  Today, I had a nuclear stress test.  The reason that I didn't have a normal stress test on a treadmill is that the left bundle branch block that my heart has could cause a false negative result.  My test consisted of an injection off some creapy radioactive stuff, an 11-minute scan for images, another injection and a normal paced walk on a treadmill, followed by an 8-minute scan.  It was pretty painless, although the injections caused my veins to expand, which also caused a very strange sensation - like very little activity was causing extreme exhaustion.

I didn't accomplish much the rest of the day, other than print some photos and frame a couple of collages of Charlotte.  Last year, I made one of her first year, so I decided to do the same thing every year.  Now, I will have to start one for the twins.

I also had to drop off photos of the house to my insurance company because of a switch in companies (and an increase in price too).  It is a much better policy with more coverage - but I'm paying a lot more for it too.

Tuesday, October 22.  This morning, I got wired with a Halter Monitor - a small electrical box that is clipped to my waist, with 5 electrodes stuck to my chest.  No biggie, just awkward.  It didn't stop me from shopping.

My shopping mission for today was to find a shower adapter for my utility sink to use for bathing Frisco.  I use it now but a handheld shower would make it so much easier.  After trips to several pet stores and a hardware store, I was unable to find what I wanted.  Good old Amazon came through for me.

Arlene joined me for dinner tonight - I had lots of Navy Bean Soup to share.  She just returned from a 4-week cruise to Alaska and then down to the Panama Canal.  It sounds like a wonderful trip, although she said it was a little bit long.

Wednesday, October 23.  The halter monitor came off this morning and that was followed by an echo cardiogram - another painless procedure.  And now I wait until Monday afternoon to hear the verdict - I'm a little anxious based on what I have read on the internet, but I'm trying to be patient and hear what the doctor has to say.  The good thing is that I am not having any symptoms.

I got to see the twins on Facetime again today.  They were asleep on the sofa - both of their arms held identically.  They had a 2-week checkup today and are both doing well and gaining weight.

I met my friend, Karen, for dinner tonight at a Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico in Phoenix.  We had a really nice visit over $12 (little did we know) Prickly Pear Margaritas but we were both dissatisfied with the intensity of heat of our entrees.  I had Carne Adovada (smoked pork roast) that was so hot that it took away the flavor.  And I like HOT.  Not only that, it kept coming back to me throughout the night - was it liquid smoke or natural smoke flavor?  I don't think we will be going back to that place.

Saturday, October 26.  The last few days have been very social for me.  On Thursday afternoon, several women from Brentwood went to see the movie Enough Said with James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  I thought it was a fun and quite entertaining chick flick about middle age dating and relationships.  After the movie, we all went to Old Chicago for lunch and had a great time. 

I made a batch of Mini Pumpkin Pie Croissants to take to TGIF on Friday night.  It was held at Sue's patio and she arranged for some Karaoke entertainment for the evening.  I wasn't too impressed with the entertainer's choice of music (I would have liked to hear more upbeat tunes to dance to) but we all had a nice time.  I think our Brentwood Boys (Bruce, Dan, and Jim) did the best job of singing but then they are used to singing together.  The parties here are lots of fun.

I wasn't feeling  the greatest this morning - rather sluggish - I wonder why?  Could it be the last cocktail that I couldn't live without? 

Kathy called this morning to invite me to join her and Chuck for dinner tonight.  Now, Chuck is one great cook with lots of experience, as he ran a restaurant in Washington for many years.  He has the knack for putting seasonings together that are always yummy.  We had pork chops (a mountain of them), mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and asparagus with bacon.  Talk about yummy stuff - and naturally, a bit too much of it.

I sure haven't been doing a lot of cooking lately.  And then - there's another party tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October 14 - 20, 2013 - AZ

Tuesday, October 15.  I had a great Skype conversation with Ben this morning and got to see Charlotte and the twins who were both sleeping together on the sofa.  Ben told me that it had been a rough week for them (3 trips to see doctors since getting home from the hospital last Wednesday) but he felt that they finally reached a turning point as far as getting the twins to nurse or to drink from a bottle.  Camille hasn't been a problem but Norah needed lots of coaxing.  They didn't seem interested, only wanting to sleep, and Mom and Dad were concerned that they weren't getting the nutrition they needed.  The lactation specialist that they saw on Sunday told them to not worry about the amount of food they were getting but to let them stop when they were ready to stop - they would only take what they wanted.  They will catch on and become hungry.  They are gaining weight and doing well.

Yesterday, I changed out my bedroom drapes, hemmed the new ones.  I just got tired of the dark and gloomy bedding and drapes that I had.  Today I made pillow shams that matched the drapes and I also went shopping for a new duvet cover.  I have looked online and at several stores and just couldn't find what I was looking for.  So I headed for the mall this afternoon and walked into JC Penney's home store.  Boy, did I find a deal there - on the sale rack were 2 duvet sets and I could have gone with either color - they were marked down from $110 to $14.99.  It was an easy decision to make and I was out of there and back home in no time at all.

Connie and I have gone for bike rides after dinner the last 2 nights.  Its a great time to ride and we've ridden a couple of miles each night.  It feels good.

Thursday, October 17.  Sinus pressure are the words that describe how I have felt today.  It all started right after I woke up this morning and I leaned forward to brush my teeth.  My nose and head just ached.  I'm hoping that the antibiotics that I started on Monday will help it get better.  The symptoms improved though the day, but I never did get to feeling good.

Friday, October 18.  Today will be a better day, at least it is starting out better.  Yes, the antibiotics must be starting to work.  I was able to tolerate 3 hours with the dental hygienist - complete exam and cleaning at Carrington College.  I'm convinced that this is the way to go - first of all, it's free, but these folks are thorough, have the latest technology, and are under the supervision of professionals.  And they need volunteers. I am 100% satisfied and will go back.

I got new photos and an update from Ben today.  Things are improving with the twins - they are learning to eat and are gaining weight - much to the relief of Mom and Dad.  

Sunday, October 20.  I spent yesterday with Nan and Dale and we went to several estate sales and garage sales in the Chandler area.  No big finds for any of us, although had the prices on a couple of pieces been more reasonable, I may have considered a purchase.  Regardless, it was nice to hang out with them.  We had a nice lunch at Pita Jungle.  

This morning, Connie, me and Frisco headed to Usery Mountain State Park and hiked the Cat's Peak trail.  It was a beautiful morning and the 2+ mile hike was very enjoyable.  We had gorgeous view of the Superstition Mountains to the east and some smaller ranges that could be seen throughout the hike.  Very few critters were spotted along the way, although we did have to yield to some horseback riders - Frisco was not very nice to them at all - barking and yapping the whole time they were passing by.

Jan called this afternoon to see if I wanted to join her as she was giving Connie a lesson in painting with acrylics.  I decided to join them, but I don't think I will be pursuing that art form.  My painting might have passed for that of a 3rd grader - although a 3rd grader might be a lot better than me.  It was fun just hanging out together, though.

Monday, October 7, 2013

October 7 - 13, 2013

Monday, October 7.

5:15 am - Jill is at the hospital and in labor.
6:14 am - Camille Rose (Baby A) is born, weighing 6 pounds, 10 ounces.
6:15 am - Norah Lou (Baby B) is born, weighing 6 pounds, 2 ounces.
6:53 am - Grandma freaks out when she sees the photo - uncontrollable emotional outburst.

It happened quickly.   Labor started around 4:00 am and they called the hospital and were told the hospital was full, they would have to go to another.  How stressful is that when you are having twins and this has been a high risk pregnancy?  They were on their way to another hospital when they heard that they could get into their hospital, so they headed straight to an operating room on arrival.  Less than an hour later, the twins were born.  Mom and babies are doing well.  I am an emotional wreck.

I had my cardiology appointment today to follow-up on the low heart rate.  The doctor is not concerned that I have a low heart rate and because I don't have any of the telltale symptoms of heart disease, he feels that I am in general good health.  BUT... my heart has a Left Bundle Branch Block (has to do with the electrical impulses of the heart) that was first detected in 2006 that has not been a concern in the past.  Since my heart rate has decreased over the past 3 years (59, 54, then 45 at my last checkup), I will have a Nuclear Stress Test on 10/21, wear a monitor for 24 hours starting on 10/22, have an echo-cardiogram (last done in 2011) on 10/23, and a follow-up on 10/28.  He also agreed that I do NOT need to be taking cholesterol medication, although my bad cholesterol is slightly high - I need to do a better job of eating the right stuff and get plenty of exercise.

Wednesday, October 9.  I got the carport hosed down and the windows all washed yesterday.  Everything smells so much better after the last year of dust accumulation is washed away.  Then today...high winds and an "almost" dust storm.  It was pretty miserable when I took Frisco for his late afternoon walk and my patio is full of leaves and palm fronds.

Ben called this morning, the first we have talked since Monday.  I learned that everyone is doing fine and the babies are getting a little better about nursing - it is going to take some coaxing as they are tired and sleepy.  They were happy to be going home this afternoon.  Here is proud Daddy getting his workout.

Best of all, I learned that they are both carrying the middle names of their grandmothers - Camille Rose and Norah Lou.  I know it was a difficult decision on their parts - at least it seemed that they were struggling with their selection of middle names.  I am honored, to say the least.

It took me a long time to realize that my name was chosen because of someone that meant so much to my mother - her niece, Francis Rose.  They were only 3 years apart and they grew up together and became best of friends.  Before that, I kind of resented the fact that people teased me by calling me Rosie Posie, Rosie the Riveter, a rose is a rose is a..., things like that.  The unfortunate thing is that I never learned from my mother her reasons for choosing the name that she did.  And I agree - Fran is a wonderful person who has always set a good example for me and I grew up respecting her.  She also is my godmother.

 I spent the day making Zuppa Toscano for several of my friends who joined me for dinner tonight.  Along with that came the necessary cleaning and preparation for visitors.  It feels good to be cooking for more than just myself.  Connie brought Caprese salad, Jan brought garlic bread, Carmen brought pumpkin cookies and ice cream, and Kathy brought wine.  It was a very nice time and it feels good to share a meal with friends..

Thursday, October 10.  It was 63 degrees when I woke up this morning and it is strange to wake up to cloudy skies around here.  The cloudy and windy day we had yesterday has carried over but the winds have decreased.  That wreaks havoc on my sinuses that have never really cleared up after the infection I had last month in SF.  Rinse, rinse, rinse.

Saturday, October 12.  I awoke this morning to NO INTERNET - and had to do house cleaning instead of surfing.  I can only relate this to the change that I made to my Cox services that are effective today.  A technician showed up at my house this morning to deliver a cable box and install it.  On Thursday, I called to decrease the internet service that I had since it was way more than what I could ever use and I learned that they were offering a bundle that included Cable TV for the same price for a year.  Now, I just have to remember to call them a year from now to negotiate for another package.

Yesterday, I went to a few garage sales in  the morning with Connie and then spent a few hours cleaning the front and patio sides of my house.  Yea - the windows are all clean too!  This really does reduce the dusty feel and smell to everything.  This morning, I got the insides of the windows cleaned.

I went to Dirtwater Springs for dinner with Chris and Norm last night.  Norm and I ordered Old Fashioneds and had a toast to Mike.  Unfortunately, they were not like the old fashioneds I know - I wouldn't order one again.  Guess I have to wait for Hoovey to mix me up a good one when he gets here.

Sunday, October 13.  It has been a long, sad 8 months since Mike passed away.  There isn't a day that I don't look at his photo and wish that he were still here.  Love you Mike!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October 1 - 6, 2013 - AZ

Thursday, October 3.  This week has been full of appointments for annual checkups starting with mammogram, chest xray, and bone density tests on Tuesday and then it was Frisco's turn on Wednesday.  It will be a while before I hear the results of these tests but I heard back from my doctor on the tests that she ran last week and all is looking good for me.  Frisco is in great health - I do have to work harder on keeping his teeth clean and cutting his nails shorter (she advised using a coarse nail file and doing it every week).

I worked on pulling a couple of panels away from the wall so the plumbers could get access to the pipes that run  to the showers.  I was successful without doing any damage that can't be covered up with some filler and paint.

I have come up with a solution for someone to keep Frisco when I go back to San Francisco next month to help out with the Charlotte and the twins.  Pat and Roger have agreed to stay at my house while I am gone - I think this will be a win-win for all of us - they can have more room to spread out (instead of their motorhome) and Frisco will be comfortable at his own home and with folks that he knows too.  Thanks friends!  It looks like I will be gone from November 4 - December 13.

ELS (the company that owns our community) offers a bus to various events if there are more than 5 people signed up to go to the event.  Last night I went with 8 other folks from here to see the ASU Symphony Orchestra at the Gammage Auditorium in Tempe.  The theater is beautiful and we had perfect seats.  The show was delightful, as it was conducted by Timothy Russell who has been the Professor of Music at ASU for 21 years.  They played pieces from Brahms and Tchaikovsky.  What a great evening!

 Friday, October 4.  Happy Birthday to my sweet brother Bob.  We had a great phone conversation this morning - its always so nice to chat with him.

The plumbers, Larry, Tim and Tim's 15-year old son Brandon (the apprentice's apprentice) showed up at 7:00 this morning and got right to work.  Larry showed me one of the 1/2" cold water pipes that was removed  and it was so corroded on the inside that you couldn't see any light through it.  It is amazing that any water was able to flow through at all.  I was having second thoughts about spending the money on this project but after seeing those plugged up pipes - there was no question that this is going to make a big difference.  It is now mid-afternoon and they are making great progress - all of the pipes under the house are in position and the kitchen and bathroom sinks are done.

I have water! And plenty if of it.  My shower before bed was just so enjoyable.  And here we thought ithe problem was because of low pressure coming into the community - not.  It is comforting to know that I shouldn't have any plumbing issues as long as I'm in this house.  GOOD NIGHT!

Saturday, October 5.  Connie informed me of a very nice estate sale down the street from us, so I met her at 7:00 this morning and we headed off.  Yes, I bought some books, some beautiful unopened Christmas wrapping paper, and later this afternoon when they marked down the prices, a table for my grill for $5.  It was another sad story - the lady recently lost almost all of her eyesight, waking up one day with no vision in one eye and she is very quickly losing her vision in the other eye - meaning she will need assistance and will be unable to live independently any more.  

I was quite surprised this afternoon when I grabbed the mail from the mailbox and there were 2 checks in it totaling about $80 - both from ATT Mobility, the result of a class action to refund incorrect or excess service charges.  What a pleasant surprise!

I worked on putting paneling back up where it had to be taken down for access to the pipes - one panel in my computer/guest room and the other in a closet.  Needless to say, it was a pain in the neck but I got them back - now I have to plug holes and touch up the boo boos with paint.

Allan and Sharon invited me to join them this evening, so after I made them dinner, we headed off to the Tempe Center for the Arts where we saw an exhibit of the International Guild of Realism http://www.realismguild.com/Press/AAC_6page_2013.pdf.  We met and had a chat with Marsha Chandler and her painting was titled Candy Kaleidoscope.  She had a very strong accent (from Geogia) and  told us that she loves working with silver and glass because of the many reflections and she likes to really challenge herself.  A very friendly and talkative gal.  Many of the artists had traveling from far away and there were also many local artists including a fellow pastel artist and friend of theirs, Karen Budan.  Her painting didn't earn a reward but was sold.  Unfortunately, she has learned that she under priced and she could have gotten 3 times the amount - had she known.  Still, it was very exciting for her to have sold a piece at this international show.  A very enjoyable evening with friends - it has been a week with 2 cultural events for me - very nice!

Sunday, September 6.  I got busy patching up holes and touching up paint on the panel that was removed for access to the bathtub plumbing.  While doing that, I got sidetracked several times and installed a new towel bar in one of the bathrooms, watered plants outside, had a conversation with Pat, put air in my bike tires, and later on a Skype with Ben and his family.  Tomorrow is the big day and Jill learned that both babies are in the right position - lets hope that they stay that way.  I just can't wait to see pictures, learn their names and be satisfied that they are healthy little girls and they and Mom are doing well.  Our lives will never be the same!