Last year we partnered with Rolling Ridge Elementary in Olathe, to do Reading Club at Rolling Ridge! Every Tuesday afternoon we would hop on the bus and head out to the school for an hour of reading and interacting with the children.

Once we got there, we split into three separate groups, because there was a Kindergarten, 2’nd Grade and a 5’th Grade classroom that participated in Reading Club with our residents. Warren’s daughter Christa met us at the school every week and volunteered to help our residents with the student readers.

It was really wonderful.

The teachers would pick books for the kids and they would come out one student per volunteer, book in hand and practice their reading skills by reading out loud to us.

As each child finished reading their book, they would return to the classroom and send out another student.

The interaction between these students and our residents was very meaningful for everyone involved and at the end of the school year all of the students and classrooms who participated in Reading Club made thank you cards for our folks.

We became involved with this school because there are a large number of students in attendance who are homeless or under privileged. Lesa Suwareh and I attended a volunteer meeting where we met with other volunteers and school leaders from the Olathe School District to brain storm about how to best benefit the school.

This year we are excited that we will resume Reading Club but also have plans to host after school clubs for the kids and may participate in some music and art classes as well. Lesa and I will again meet with the school district this Wednesday and further solidify our plans for this school year.

A week ago, Lesa threw a bake sale to raise money for Rolling Ridge school. Lesa cooked all day long on Friday before the bake sale. Several of us, including Christa and Oren pitched in but Lesa worked tirelessly to accomplish her goal.

On Saturday, Lesa, her sister and kids, Ken McMullin, Christa & Oren Pickett also volunteered their entire day to stand outside the new Walmart off 135’th and K-7 selling Lesa’s delicious baked goods to raise money to benefit the students of Rolling Ridge. In all Lesa said they made $500!

Below are a few pictures from the Bake Sale and also, a few pictures from Reading Club from last school year. Many residents participated in this group, the bus was usually filled. We generally tried to keep the same residents in the same classrooms each week so that they could build relationships with the students. I was in charge of the Kindergarten classrooms and the Reading Club pictures that I took were taken with my iPhone.

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August 4, 2012 we held a Duck Derby and Pancake Breakfast! We hosted this event to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association of Kansas City. We rented space at Grace Fellowship Church next door to us to hold the Pancake Breakfast which started promptly at 8:00 AM. The Duck Derby took place in our very own back yard in the pond at 10:15 AM. It was great!

We had fantastic participation from family and friends both for the breakfast and buying ducks! In the end we sold all 500 ducks but there could be only one winner for the 50/50 split!  Lucky Duck #402 won $625.

I would like to give a HUGE thank you to our Girl Scout Troop volunteers and all the friends and family members who contributed to making this event a huge success and a great time for everyone!

It went even better than we had hoped, we learned a lot, enjoyed catching up with everyone and owe a huge debt of gratitude to those of you who shared your money, time and the kindness of your hearts to make everything go smoothly at the event and to contribute to Alzheimer’s research which was our ultimate goal.


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One morning we got up extra early to go fishing.

Getting up extra early appeals to some folks more than others but we did it!

We got a couple boxes of bagels and a wonderful assortment of spreadable cheeses and juices, loaded the fishing poles, hats, and sun block onto the bus and headed out to the lake at Shawnee Mission Park!

Off to the right of the dock there were several benches positioned perfectly under big shady tree’s where we set up our spot. Even though the weather had been incredibly hot, on the morning we went fishing we had nice breezes and we left around 10:30 before it ever got the chance to get uncomfortable.

Some of the people that went set about fishing like pros and some, like Wilma and Rose here, weren’t so sure they wanted to fish at first. They were certain they didn’t want to put the worms on the hook. : ) They of course caught the biggest fish of the day! Oh and Rose also caught a rock! She actually caught a big rock! It was on her hook and everything! Somehow I didn’t get a picture of that! I think maybe David did.

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I thought it would be fun to put on an impromptu play for our residents!

It wasn’t only fun but a wonderful team building experience. We had a great time and will be doing it again this week on Thursday 8/23/12, but this time with a double header!


Jade as: Judy

Jon as: Tom

Erica as: Mrs. Sweet

David as: Mr. Sweet

Nick as: Stan Mackintosh

Kim as: Tom’s Mother

Tsega as: An Aerobics Instructor

The Interrupted Picnic


TOM and JUDY enter from stage left. TOM carries a picnic basket and a blanket. He finds a spot in the center of the stage, unfurls the blanket with a flourish, and plops down the picnic basket. JUDY takes a seat on the blanket and TOM sits beside her.

JUDY: It sure is a beautiful day for a picnic.

TOM: Sure is, Judy. Especially here. Do you remember our first date?

JUDY: Of course I do! It was exactly one year ago today.

TOM: In this very park. In this very spot. On this very blanket.

JUDY: That’s when I found out that you don’t like potato salad.

TOM: And I found out that you won’t eat a pie if it isn’t homemade. So I spent all day yesterday baking you one, a nectarine pie.

JUDY: Ooooh, I love nectarine pie!

TOM kneels to look in the picnic basket as if he is looking for pie, but he turns on his knee to kneel before JUDY. Is he going to propose?

TOM: Judy, this past year has been the best year of my life. In you, I feel as if I have truly found my soul mate. I wanted to come back to this park today and have a picnic because…

A man and a woman, MR. and MRS. SWEET, enter from stage left, waving.

MRS. SWEET (hollering to the couple): Yoo-hoo! Hi! Hi, Judy!

TOM (to JUDY): Your parents? What are they doing here?

JUDY: Oh, I invited them. Didn’t I tell you?

TOM: No, I think I would have remembered if you did. (TOM stands up.) Mr. and Mrs. Sweet. Hello! How nice of you to join us.

TOM hugs MRS. SWEET and then shakes MR. SWEET’s hand.

MRS. SWEET: Oh, this is just a lovely spot for a picnic. Judy tells me that this is where you two had your first date. That’s so cute! Isn’t that cute, dear?

MR. SWEET: So what do we do now? We sit on the ground?

JUDY: Yes, Daddy. It’s a picnic.

MR. SWEET: The ground looks wet. Is it wet?

JUDY: It’s just a little damp. That’s why we have a blanket, Daddy.

MR. SWEET: These are new pants.

MRS. SWEET: Oh, then why don’t you just stand, dear?

MR. SWEET: I think I might. Judy, sweetheart, I’m starving. Could you pass me some of the potato salad?

JUDY: There is no potato salad, Daddy.

MR. SWEET: No potato salad!

JUDY: Tom doesn’t really like potato salad, Daddy, so we didn’t make any.

MR. SWEET (to TOM): You don’t like potato salad? Why not? What’s wrong with potato salad?

TOM: Nothing’s wrong with potato salad, Mr. Sweet.

MR. SWEET: Who doesn’t like potato salad? It’s delicious. My wife makes the best potato salad. She’s won awards!

MRS. SWEET: Oh, will you stop pestering the boy! So Tom doesn’t like my award-winning potato salad – that’s fine. I’m not offended or disappointed. Sure, no one has ever refused my potato salad before, but there’s a first time for everything.

TOM: I’m sure your potato salad is delicious, Mrs. Sweet.

MRS. SWEET: Well, I can go home right now and make some if you’d like. It would only take me an hour or so to go to the grocery store, go home, make the salad, and come back. Help me up, dear.

(MR. SWEET helps MRS. SWEET stand up.)

TOM: Oh, that’s not really necessary.

MR. SWEET: I could really go for some of that potato salad.

TOM: It sounds like too much trouble.

MR. SWEET: And what about pickles? Do we have any pickles? We didn’t bring any. Honey, could you pick up some pickles, too, while you’re at it?

MRS. SWEET: It’s no trouble at all. Yes, I’ll go home and make up a little potato salad and pick up some pickles.

JUDY: Mom, please don’t go. You just got here. I think we can make do without any potato salad. And I think we have some pickles, right Tom?

TOM: Yup. A jar of sliced pickles.

MR. SWEET: Sliced? No, no, no. I got to have whole pickles. I like the crunch when you bite into them. Honey, go to the store.

JUDY: Mom, please don’t.

MRS. SWEET: Are you sure?

MR. SWEET: Are you sure about that?

JUDY: I’m sure. We have plenty other things to eat.

Just then a Frisbee sails from off stage right and lands in the middle of the picnic. A man, STAN MACKINTOSH, comes jogging over to fetch his Frisbee.

STAN: I’m so sorry, that one got away from me. Oh! Mr. and Mrs. Sweet, how are you?

MR. SWEET: Oh, hi there Stan! Honey, look, it’s Stan Mackintosh. You remember, Stan? He and Judy dated before she met Tom.

MRS. SWEET: Of course I remember Stan! Hello there, Stan. How have you been?

STAN: Fine, thank you, Mrs. Sweet. Hi, Judy.

JUDY (reluctantly): Hello, Stan.

TOM (reaching out his hand for a shake): Hi, Stan, I’m Tom.

STAN ignores the hand shake and reaches for his Frisbee.

MR. SWEET: Out getting some exercise, I see, Stan.

STAN: Yes, Mr. Sweet. My doctor says that exercise is really one of the best ways to stay positive and ward off the blues, you know.

MR. SWEET: Is that so?

STAN: Ever since your daughter broke up with me, I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch.

MRS. SWEET: Oh, Stan, you poor boy. Would you like to join us?

JUDY: Mom!

TOM: Maybe he shouldn’t.

STAN: I wouldn’t want to impose.

MRS. SWEET: It wouldn’t be an imposition.

STAN: Well, I sure would love a taste of your famous potato salad.

MR. SWEET: There is no potato salad.

STAN: No potato salad? But it’s award winning!

MR. SWEET: Tom doesn’t like potato salad.

STAN: Who’s Tom?

TOM: I’m Tom. Judy’s new boyfriend.

STAN: Oh, Tom. Hi. I didn’t see you there. Maybe I should just pick up my Frisbee and get back to my exercise.

JUDY: I think that would be a good idea.

STAN: But thank you for the generous invitation, Mrs. Sweet.

MRS. SWEET: You’re very welcome, Stan.

TOM: You’ve probably got to get back to your friends, anyway.

STAN: Friends?

TOM: To play catch with? With your Frisbee?

STAN: Oh, no, Tom. I play Frisbee with myself. It’s a much better workout to throw and catch your own Frisbee. But it looks like you probably don’t work out much, so you wouldn’t know that.

TOM: I do too work out.

STAN: I’ll have to take a rain check on that potato salad, Mrs. Sweet. Bye-bye.

STAN throws the Frisbee off stage and runs after it.

MRS. SWEET: What a nice boy.

MR. SWEET: Throws and catches his own Frisbee. Now there’s an idea.

JUDY: How about I start fixing some plates?

TOM: I’ll help.

As TOM reaches into the picnic basket a WOMAN wearing sunglasses enters from stage left on the arm of a MAN whose arms are loaded down with a picnic basket and a picnic blanket. The WOMAN stops, lowers her sunglasses, and stares at TOM.

WOMAN: Tom! Sweetie!

TOM looks up, a look of horror on his face.

TOM: Mom? What are you doing here?

JUDY: Hi Wanda. What a surprise to see you here.

WANDA: Hi Judy. Well, Tom, I remembered that you told me about this wonderful park to have a picnic in, and it was such a beautiful day that I thought I would try it myself.

WANDA stands there awkwardly for a moment with the MAN standing silent next to her.

TOM: Mom?

WANDA: Yes, Tom?

TOM: Who’s your friend?

WANDA: Ohhhh! How rude of me! This is my friend Bruce. He’s my aqua aerobics instructor. We met online. Well, I found his aqua aerobics course over the Internet, and that’s how we met. I take his class two times a week. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

MRS. SWEET: Isn’t the Internet lovely?

TOM: Mom, these are Judy’s parents, Rebecca Sweet and Donald Sweet. Mr. and Mrs. Sweet, this is my mother, Wanda, and her friend, Bruce.

WANDA: Boyfriend, Tom. My boyfriend Bruce. It’s so nice to finally meet you, Rebecca and Donald. I can’t believe our children have been dating for a year, and we haven’t met yet. I have to say, your daughter is the sweetest girl I’ve ever met. Our little Judy Sweet. Aptly named.

MRS. SWEET: Thank you. And so is your Tom, of course.

MR. SWEET: Hey, Bruce, why don’t you put down that heavy load right here next to our blanket.

MRS. SWEET: That’s a great idea! You two should join us. Please do.

WANDA: Well, I don’t want to interrupt if you’re having a family picnic.

As BRUCE sets down his basket and blanket, TOM whispers to his mother.

TOM: Mom, I didn’t know it was going to be a family picnic, I swear. I would have invited you if I had known. Actually, I thought it was going to be a romantic picnic for just the two of us.

WANDA (whispering back to Tom): I know what you mean, Tom, I kind of had the same idea.

TOM: Mom!

MRS. SWEET: Come now, Wanda. If this is a family picnic, then you’re family too. And Bruce, you get comfortable. You’re a quiet one, aren’t you Bruce?

MR. SWEET: Hey Bruce, do any men take your water aerobics course? I’ve been thinking of joining one, but I don’t want to be the only guy in the pool.

Just then a football comes sailing from off stage right and lands in the middle of their picnic. STAN again, comes running through to fetch his football.

STAN: Sorry for the interruption again. That one got away from me.

MR. SWEET: Throwing around the old pigskin, hey Stan? What happened to the Frisbee?

STAN: I like to vary my workout. It works all the major muscle groups.

TOM: You still playing catch with yourself?

STAN: It’s excellent for the cardiovascular system.

WANDA: Like aqua aerobics!

STAN: Hey, Judy, do you remember when I ran that half marathon?

JUDY: You mean the one where we ate breakfast at an all-you-can-eat pancake restaurant right before the race started? You were sick the entire race. You didn’t even finish.

STAN: I was carbo-loading. You need to eat a lot of carbs to run those things. Hey, Tom, you ever run a half marathon?

TOM: Nope. Sounds like you’ve never run one either.

STAN: What did you say? Anyway, I should get back.

TOM: Throw yourself a long one.

STAN hurls the football off stage and runs after it.

TOM (to Judy): You actually dated that guy?

JUDY: My mom set us up. We went on, like, two dates.

TOM looks around at all his picnic guests.

TOM: Well, this certainly isn’t going like I had planned but… here goes.

TOM gets down on one knee.

WANDA: Tom, what are you doing?

TOM holds forth a ring box.

MRS. SWEET: What is that?

MR. SWEET: If we’re lucky, it’s some potato salad. Or a box of pickles.

TOM: Judy, it’s only fitting that here, in front of our family – your parents, my mother, and Bruce – that I ask you to start a family with me. Judy, I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?

Just then, a croquet ball rolls over from stage left, and STAN hurries after it with a mallet in his hands.

STAN: Sorry. I missed the wicket. Ignore me. I’ll just play through.

STAN whacks the ball and exits.

JUDY: Yes Tom. In front of all these people, I say yes! I’ll marry you! Yes! Yes!

TOM: Can you promise me one thing?

JUDY: Anything.

TOM: Promise me that our wedding will be invitation only.


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Romeo Club stands for: Retired Old Men Eating Out

And I didn’t make it up!

Click Here to learn more about Romeo Club!

It’s an actual club, I read about it and decided we definitely needed to have our own Chapter! So, on what was very likely the only rainy morning we had during the month of July, our Romeo gents set out on their first adventure with breakfast at The Egg & I!

As luck would have it, even though we were trying to unload the bus in the middle of a total downpour, I had several umbrellas which I had purchased to decorate for the Silly Superstitions party we had that afternoon and so every man was able to enter the restaurant under the cover of very feminine looking giraffe colored umbrellas.

Once everyone was settled in the restaurant I left so that the group would be authentically MEN ONLY but I was told there was lots of talk about sports, travels and NYC! The men also decided that their next trip would be to Hooters for appetizers. Go figure.

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I read that in July there is a holiday for the fairies and it gave me an idea to make props and create an atmosphere fit for the fairies. All through the month of July, our teams in each house (but especially building 3) made whimsical Paper Mache mushrooms and big fluffy flowers on strings made from tissue paper. They were really simple and they turned out exactly like I had hoped!



At the end of the month we decorated the dining room in Building 1 with all of the props that they had made. I bought some fancy cookies and muffin tops, put on music that included birds chirping and rain drops and together we shared in a fancy Fairy Tea. The folks were thrilled with the way it all looked and felt and we had a wonderful time together.


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This month we have been working on making palm tree’s, tropical flowers and vines to prepare for our King of The Jungle Social this Wednesday 8/22/12 at 3:00 P.M. in Building 2! I am very excited to see how it will all come together!

For a long time now I have been thinking about how to reproduce the camping experience for our elders, in a way that is manageable, safe and realistic but still allowed them the full experience of  sitting near a tent and a campfire at dusk, roasting marshmallows and singing campfire songs.

I know there are a lot of people who have enjoyed camping with their families over the years and those are special memories of family time, special places and fun times with friends.

A lot of families went camping ritually, always to the same spot, or maybe for some, a different spot every year and there are even more people that at one time or another participated in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls organizations either as a leader, a participant or both.

My favorite memories of camping are from when I was a child and didn’t have to worry about packing for a trip or getting the camp set up. I remember skipping my jump rope outside my parents big, orange family sized tent, to see how high I could get before I stepped on the rope.

I also remember roasting marshmallows and after, trying to get our sticky fingers clean from the marshmallows and melted chocolate our smores left behind. We would try to get clean by using the water from our water bottles or the big jug.  Getting our fingers clean usually involved making them dirtier first because there were inevitably pine needles and dirt under the water bottles that would glom onto our fingers before the first drop of water hit our skin.

Singing by the campfire was always a big thing for my family. My Dad could play a little on the guitar and he would often bring it along when we went camping and we would always beg him to sing the song about the logger lover who stirred coffee with his thumb. This too is a favorite memory for me. Other families nearby would sometimes come share our fire and sing a long.

I remember waking up in the morning to the smell of the campfire and my Dad cooking up Spam, eggs and the trout we caught the night before. Listening to the dull hum of he and Mom chatting by the campfire as she tried to get the water boiling for instant coffee. These are some of the things that we talked about that night, while we roasted marshmallows and hot dogs with our Girl Scout Troop 1547 in the back yard at The Heritage.

The girls of Troop 1547 hold their monthly meetings in the conference room of House 3 during the school year.

Just about every person that came out and took their place around the campfire said some version of “Ah! This brings back memories!”

The smell of the campfire filled the air and the wood crackled and popped while little tree frogs sang from the pond (which I now know we have a bunch of) and wind chimes tinkled from a neighboring house.  You could hear giggles and conversations going on around the campfire and laughter, sometimes from all of us and sometimes from someone close by.  Some people came outside and stayed out the entire time, and some came out just for a short time,  to eat a fire roasted hot dog or a smore and then went back inside.

A lot of folks came and went throughout the evening and that was the way it was meant to be…. to give each person just as much as they needed.

We sang old songs around the campfire, some songs were sung 2 or 3 times. We reminisced about husbands, children, and camping and watched and listened to the girls while they did cartwheels and somersaults and sang a bunch of songs they had learned in choir that year. Towards the end of the evening the girls tried to make Jiffy Pop. Upon seeing the packaging, several people said “Oh I remember that!” or “Oh yes, sure.” As it turned out, only one pan of Jiffy Pop successfully popped, though the girls tried in earnest. oh, and one burned, which as you know, smelled really bad!

Several people stayed out by the campfire until long after dark and all houses reported that each person who participated was still talking about the campfire or the girls while they were getting ready for bed. The girls seemed to understand the magnitude of this event for our people and in the morning, we all agreed that we should definitely do it again.

Thank you so much to the troop leaders and girls from Troop 1547 for making this event possible. It was truly wonderful.

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