All About Oliver

A Sanfilippo Story by Grammy L…

A great birthday party with great friends!

Sunday April 4th, (yes it’s Easter Sunday) Oliver celebrated his birthday with his 3 special friends from school: Jack, Henry, and Zev…

…at Tree of Life Play & Cafe…

3708 Fishinger Blvd., next to Get Air trampoline park

And of course Reagan invited her special friend, Lily…

What a great place for a party! The slide and ball pit area let Oliver, Jack, and Henry bounce, climb, and run off steam. Zev really enjoyed the slide and was a good sport as the other 3 amigos kept corralling him. Oliver, who does not realize his own roughhousing, made sure to let Henry’s dad know, though, when Henry was out of control.

Zev’s mom was so touched that Zev was invited to Oliver’s birthday party. “This is the first birthday party he has ever been invited to!”

What a great birthday party! We even did a take 2 on singing happy birthday because Grammy L thought she was videoing the song, but, alas, oh, Grammy L wasn’t. Henry’s dad, Steve, (the same dad Oliver kept calling and finding and taking his hand to “tattle” on Henry), calmly said, “Let’s do it again.” So we did!

All About Oliver

A Sanfilippo Story by Grammy L…



Oliver is 6 years old! He doesn’t quite grasp the fact that today is his birthday, we guess, since his party with friends won’t take place until Sunday, the 4th of April. We remember, a little sadly, how excited he was to wake up on his birthday and celebrate his special day in the past. “It’s Oliver’s birthday,” he would shout with a great big smile on his face. Today is different. Maybe on Sunday he will realize we are celebrating his birthday.

Later in the afternoon, Oliver attended the birthday party of Jacob, one of his friends from pre-school last year. It was held at a gym with sports areas. Jen said he had a wonderful time running around and throwing balls. The best part though was that Jacob and his friends played with Oliver. They chased him and joined him in the various areas as he flitted here and there the way he does. They INCLUDED and ACCEPTED him!

Sadly, this is not usually the case when Oliver is around kids his own age. They label him strange because he acts differently so they don’t engage with him and leave him all by himself. It’s not their fault. But maybe it’s time to start having conversations with neuro-typical children about all the Olivers of this world they have yet to meet. How can we explain that Oliver is doing his very best even if it looks different than their very best? As Oliver says, “hmmm… I KNOW!” isn’t this a lesson for us adults too? Hmmm… I KNOW I need to learn to practice this!

All About Oliver (and his family)

A Sanfilippo Story by Grammy L


Mom and Dad get their first dose of the Moderna COVID vaccine.

Mom works on the front porch project, installing the floor…

Frankie and Stephanie visit from ABA Therapy (Applied Behavior Analysis), an in-home service for Oliver.

Miss Kelsey visits Reagan…

Reagan has a “sleepover” with Grammy L downstairs…

A great day living and enjoying each moment! (Even if behind the scenes we are sometimes having difficult feelings…)

All About Oliver

A Sanfilippo Story by Grammy L


Jen created a muscle and sensory area downstairs for Oliver and Reagan.

But the best snuggles of all are the ones at the end of the day in our jammies…

All About Oliver (and his family)

A Sanfilippo Story by Grammy L

We ring in another new year filled with cautious hope that we can reunite with our families soonish.

That’s right, Oliver… 2020 was a booger of a year!


My New Year’s Resolution is to fly out to Ohio ASAP!

Meanwhile, here’s what’s been happening yesterday, today, and tomorrow with Oliver…

On January 6th, Governor DeWine signed a bill designating November 16th
as Sanfilippo Awareness Day in Ohio

Jen updates the profile picture for Oliver’s Tomorrow on Facebook.

“Every day given is reason enough for joy.” …Oliver’s Mom

Sundays at Magaw’s… (Jen’s Mom)

And Valentines (courtesy of Magaw) sent to me in California from Reagan and Oliver…

And here’s a shiny reflection from all the colorful stickers on the ceiling in the RV:

Speaking about Valentines Day…

Oliver’s Kindergarten school picture…

And finally, my longed for wish comes true! On March 16th I land in Columbus, Ohio and see and hug and play with my love-loves in person!

Jeff and I had received our first dose of the Moderna vaccine and I made an appointment for a rapid COVID test immediately upon landing in Hilliard, Ohio… I flew Southwest from Palm Springs to Phoenix to Columbus…

So good to be “home” with my family!!!

All About Oliver

A Sanfilippo Story by Grammy L

“I knew this day would come…”

Jen shares…

“I knew this day would come, and I know the day has long passed where Oliver’s younger sister Reagan has become the big sister. We often find ourselves asking Reagan to give Oliver a chance to answer questions on colors, letters, sounds, counting. I ask her to slow down singing her ABCs so Oliver can add a few letters to the song. These were all things he knew when he was two.

When he initiates play by taking her stuff, when he pulls and tugs and wrestles her with no sense of safety, she takes it in stride.

She says she’s a ‘capable girl’ – she has no idea the depth of her strength that she has and will continue to need. Her love for Oliver asks for nothing. They root fiercely for each other. They love fiercely for each other.”

February on the Preserve

Cutting a Trail in the Wetlands and Tagging Tamarisk Trees

Tamarisk trees aka salt cedars are not native to California or the American Southwest. These wispy bushes and trees with pretty feathery pink flowers attract bees, dragonflies, and hummingbirds. But they are also a scary sight, so scary that Matthew Chew, an Arizona State biology professor calls them monsters. (

Tamarisk were brought into the United States from Europe in the 1800s, with the approval of the federal government, to help control erosion. As the plant established itself along stream banks, nature conservancy groups discovered its harmful effects of sucking large amounts of valuable water from the ground, turning desert streams and ponds into salty dry basins. Tamarisk consumes so much water and takes over spaces where grasses to feed cattle grow. The tamarisk is now listed as an invasive plant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (

Last spring and summer, Jeff and I pulled tamarisk seedlings and small bushes along the stream behind Squaw Hill and across Thousand Palms Canyon Road heading south toward Washington Street.

And we continued “streaming for tamarisk” throughout this season (October through April) always on the lookout for trees in the wash or camouflaged in the brush. Tamarisk seedlings were always present!

When Ginny asked me if I would like to help her blaze a trail through the wetlands, parallel to the McCallum Trail, to access invasive tamarisk trees… I jumped at the chance to participate! She used a power saw to chop through small trees and roots while I followed her with trimmers to whack away the overhanging reeds and help stomp down the rest that cushioned our pathway over the water.

We discovered our efforts were being supervised by…

Can you see who?

Who…hooooooooo is a long-eared owl!

There’s always something unexpected and exciting around the corner on the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve!

And always something dependable and educational on Sunday mornings…

Docent Don explains the geology of the Oasis Preserve caused by the San Andreas Fault on which everyone is standing.