Every child should have a grandma like Roselle Judkins, but if your pedigree chart doesn't connect directly to her line, she's probably accepting proxy applications.
Grandma Judkins resembles Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, The Little Red Hen and Auntie Mame all rolled up in a tidy package of enthusiasm and vitality - 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.Whether a weekend movie, a San Francisco shopping trip or an annual backyard Easter egg hunt, the grandkids clamor to her door, which is always open.
Daughter Jill Maurer reports, "Whenever anyone is on the outs with the rest of the family, they always go to Grandma's."
Troubled kids find sympathy, but the overall atmosphere at the Judkins' getaway blends giggles with gastronomy. Her middle name is Food and Fun.
A bulging, accordion-pleated recipe file on Judkins' shelf defies organization.
Judkins described her best recipes as those with multiple copies at various locations in the file. A recipe for Violet's Oatmeal Cookies showed up seven times, each copy in Judkins' handwriting.
"I wouldn't want to lose track of a recipe as good as that one," she acknowledged.
Quantity is another important criterion in a good Judkins recipe.
"I always 10-times a recipe, at least. After all, there are 31 grands and 26 greats. I think it's 26; that's always changing. But I like to have things on hand when the kids come by," Judkins admitted.
Many recipes note quantity amounts - 4 cups, 8 cups . . . 36 cups.
"That 36 reminds me," she recalled, "I did 36 times this Chocolate Marshmallow recipe for Jill's wedding. That was around 1,800 cookies. I found a bag of those in the freezer last week. They couldn't have been from Jill's wedding; her youngest daughter is 20, but I don't remember making them since."
Finding other things in Judkins' kitchen poses a challenge.
She runs three kitchens in her home - one family-size, one pint-size and another in the basement.
But Grandma Judkins always finds time for kids in the kitchen whether decorating Easter eggs, dipping holiday chocolates or frying doughnuts, 500 at a time.
There's another cooking site beyond the three inside kitchens: a three-room playhouse in the back yard.
"There's no running water out there. You know the city won't let you do that in a shed, but I could hook the hose up to this faucet if I need to. I don't tell the kids that, but someone could live here and have another kitchen. I saved this old wood-burning stove; I could cook out here, too," Judkins said.
The playhouse books weekend sleep-overs, afternoon birthday parties and everyday, ordinary picnics. Equipped with a TV, a computer and an intercom, the building welcomes grandkids of all ages.
"Mother started out to build a little shed in the back yard," said Maurer, "but she kept saying, `Why don't we add another room, then another?' The neighbors worried about the height of the roof after she got going."
"I told Mother she could have gone around the world twice for what it cost to put in the playhouse," daughter Jean Bentley mused, "but she didn't care. `Oh, this will be a lot more fun,' she said."
The grandchildren agree.
Chelsea Bentley, 8, admits to having at least "a thousand sleepovers at Grandma's, lots in the playhouse. I come almost every Saturday night and stay up late."
Judkins completes her best work in the wee hours.
"Never call her before 10 a.m.," cautioned Jean. "And it's best to call her at 11:30 p.m. She probably just be getting home from the show, ready to start making more candy."
Easter tradition at Judkins' home dictates a backyard egg hunt, complete with homemade candies.
"I make chocolate marshmallow eggs for each of the kids, then fill up a bag with other treats and a dollar. We hide the bags in the yard, and the kids all come. Every year, when the yard man comes to do the spring cleanup, he finds some of the leftover bags. He can't understand why I have all these dollars hanging around in my trees. I still find hiding places the kids don't," Judkins admitted.
Amanda Bentley remembered, "One time she hid the bags way in the middle of a tree. It took us a long time to find them."
The visits are challenging but not inhospitable.
April Judkins confesses her grandma treats her like a guest all the time. "We come and play and eat. Grandma always lets us eat candy, and we don't have to do chores. But sometimes we do work, just to surprise her."
It's no surprise to family members to have Grandma Judkins climb in for a ride. Whether to school for a program, a camping excursion or to a houseboat on Lake Powell, she's packed.
April described the bag of goodies Grandma packs for the movies. "She makes a big bag of popcorn. She makes suckers and then she puts it in this bag. She always carries it into the movie. She says it's illegal for us to carry it, but sometimes she buys a drink at the show."
Judkins also packed for a recent bridal shopping spree to San Francisco.
Granddaughter Belinda Bentley and her mom, Jean, planned a quick trip to the Bay area, an economical journey for two.
"When Mom found out, she was packed in a minute," Jean explained. "Then my sisters decided to go and the cousins Belinda's age. We planned to fly over, shop for Belinda's dress and the line and come back, but we had such a good time, we shopped for three more days, all nine of us."
Family togetherness - Grandma Judkins' goal in life.
"Mom works to keep her grandkids close," Jean said. "But to her, it's no job, just fun. She's everybody's dream of a grandma."
A dream that comes true.