Saturday, March 29, 2014


I do our wash once a week.  Every Friday, like clockwork, the clothes get washed.  I've gotten used to Ian only having 3 pairs of underwear go through the washing machine and dryer.  No matter how many times I tell him he should be putting on a fresh pair daily, I've come to expect seeing only 3 or 4 pairs (one time it was only 2 pairs!!  Oh my!!).

Sam changes her clothes throughout the day.  She will start with one outfit and usually change her clothes after school once or twice.  Again, another thing I've come to expect with the kids.

This past Friday I go to put Sam's dirty clothes in the washing machine and think to myself, "Wow!  This is a lot of clothing for one week."   Since it didn't look like a lot of clothing was missing from Sam's closet, (a true testament to how much clothing Sam actually has), I didn't fully realize how much clothing was going into the machine. 

As I was folding Sam's clean clothes to put away in her closet, I got an accurate picture of just how much she went through in one week.  Remember, this is one week!! 

32 hangers of items (each hanger contains a complete outfit of a matching top/bottom or dress)
6 pairs of leggings (granted some of the leggings may have been worn with some of the dresses)
2 pairs of jeans
4 t-shirts
2 sweaters
3 pairs of shorts
1 bathing suit (At no point was she near a pool)
7 pairs of pajamas

I find the above list RIDICULOUS!!!!!!  This is pure craziness!!  Is it because she is a girl and this is a 'girl thing'?  YOWZER!

Either Sam is bipolar (a bathing suit, really?!?!) or she is practicing to be an award show host.  I just wonder if she will be changing her clothes this much when it comes time for her to do her own wash.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Breaking News!

I'd like to interrupt the regularly scheduled post for today and announce my really cool, fabulous news.  I AM GOING TO ISRAEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, I got picked.  Me!  Woo-hoo!!!  11 days in Israel, here I come!!  From June 28th to July 9th, I will be one with my people.  I will be absorbing the culture, eating the food, seeing the sights, and getting in touch with my identity.  I am so flippin excited!!!  I am going ride a camel!  Kayak on the Jordan River, swim in the Dead Sea, take a tunnel tour of the Wester Wall and so much more.

It still feels like a dream that I haven't woken up from yet.  I can't believe this is happening.  There are 14 others that got picked from the Washington, D.C. area.  Together with the other JWRP (Jewish Women's Renaissance Program) groups from around the world, we will make up 150-200 women all traveling to Israel. 

It is strange to think that while Ian is away at sleepaway camp, I'll be halfway around the world.  I am certainly not going to be able to obsess over his absence like I did last Summer.  I am not going to be able to scour the camp website for daily pictures posted of him. And I won't be able to send him emails to receive each morning.  I will have my own thing going on and probably not even know what time or day of the week it is back home.  Ok, let's get real people!  Who am I kidding?  I will have an email each morning on a time-delayed release to go to Ian.  And of course, I will have the dual-timezone clock app on my phone alerting me to exact minute it is in Virginia and Massachusetts.  Just because I am halfway around the world, doesn't mean I stop being a mom.  :)

Our Summer is starting off with a bang! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Heart scary

I am not ready to lose my mom.  I don't think I'll ever be ready (maybe when she is 120?!?!), but I know for sure right now would not be a good time.  Not even close. 

The Wednesday before Jeff and Ian went to Orlando, my mom landed in the hospital.  She was having heart pain, but wasn't sure where it was coming from...reflux or her heart?  By the time we all knew what was going on, the biggest part of the scare was over.  My mom apparently had a heart attack (the day before?  No one is entirely sure) and her triple bypass done in June 2012 had completely failed.  The doctor successfully opened up two of the three openings during a catherization to see what was going on.  The third blockage is still a problem, but at the moment no decision has been made to correct this. 

As the events started to unfold, everyone (EVERYONE!!!) asked when I was headed down to Orlando.  I guess I set myself up for that one as I've been known to go down to Florida to be with the family for much less than this.  But here's the thing, as much as I wanted to go (BELIEVE ME!!! I was thisclose to getting on a plane), it wasn't practical.  Jeff and Ian were headed down there just hours after mom was admitted to the hospital.  If I got on a plane to be with her, I'd have to bring Sam with me too.  Sam wasn't going to be able to spend hours on end in the hospital with me.  It wouldn't be fair to Jeff and Ian to give Samantha to them either.  They had tickets to baseball games and plans that couldn't easily include Sam at the last minute.  I had offers from friends to watch Sam in NoVa for the weekend, but Sam would've been pissed (rightfully so) if we were all in Florida without her.  The last option was for other family members in Orlando to watch her, but again, it wasn't practical.

I decided that I would fly down to be with my mom when Jeff and Ian got back on Monday evening.  This way the kids would have school during the day and Jeff could continue working and look after them.  While Jeff and Ian were in Orlando they were able to visit my mom in the hospital multiple times.  I felt so good about this.  Jeff reported that my mom looked great and she was happy.  I got to skype with my mom and see for myself too.

In the end I decided to not go down.  Mom was out of the woods and it took until Tuesday (3/18), but she got released to go home.  Mom is going to take it easy for at least a absolutely nothing (other than go for walks) and let her heart heal. 

Thank G-d my mom felt pain and her body had a way of telling her something was wrong.  Too many times you hear of the situation ending a completely different way, and not in a good way.   What a scary, scary time.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sleepaway's happening!

We all thought Ian didn't want do sleepaway camp least not this coming Summer.  While he had a great experience at his Yotair session (3 nights, 4 days for first-timers) at Capital Camps last year, he said going for anything longer than a week was way too long to be away.  Despite Ian breaking into funny stories throughout the year of his time at camp, he held his ground on not wanting to go back every time I'd say, "You SURE you don't want to go?!!?!"   By January we stopped talking about it.  I didn't want Ian to feel persuaded to do something he wasn't ready for.  He did ask if he could take this Summer off and maybe go again the following year (Summer 2015). 

About 2 weeks ago, the Rabbi at our synagogue came to us with a special opportunity.  Camp Ramah had added on a few mini sessions (12 days in length) to the beginning of the Summer.  Someone (don't know who) had made a very big donation for a few kids to go at a reduced rate.  It would cost us 1/2 the usual amount to send Ian.  Sleepaway camp is already a crazy-amount of money.  At 1/2 off, it is now only 1/2 crazy.  But somehow we could make it happen for Ian, if that is what he wanted.  We told the Rabbi how Ian didn't want to be gone for that long, but we would present the opportunity to him (yet again!) and see what his reaction was.

Later that night, Jeff and I sat Ian down and told him what the Rabbi talked to us about.  Right away Ian said no, 12 days was too long.  If it was a week, it would be ok, but not 12 days.  I wrote an email back to the Rabbi and said, thanks but no thanks. Ian is still not interested.

Two days later Ian gets in the car and says his friend asked him if he was going to Camp Ramah.  Ian told him, "I might be."  WHAT!?!?!?!  I stopped driving, turned around and said,  "Huh?  You might be?"  I guess Ian was thinking about it for the past two days and he decided he would go for it.  Even if he didn't know anyone else going.  WOW!!!  

I figured out that Ian was scared.  Scared to be gone that long.  I told him he can't live his life in fear.  He will cut himself off from so many wonderful experiences if he lets fear get the better of him.  I told him I will track down a kid or two and get them a play date before camp starts.  I also told him he can meet the Rabbi's wife who spends all summer at the Camp.  She has offered to be a point of contact for Ian if he needs anything.

As we continued driving home I made a comment that we will now be kicking off our summer by driving to the New England area (where Camp Ramah is located) and dropping Ian off at camp.  He quickly replied with, "No mom, I will fly there with the other kids."   I was shocked that he was okay with that.  The camp sends an adult to accompany the minors, but Ian is going on his own.  Drop off happens at BWI.  Yowzer!!

Ian is officially registered for camp. From June 24th to July 6th he will get to experience Camp Ramah.  Summer has just gotten real!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hanging with Samantha

Since the day I became a mom (almost 9 years ago!), I have never spent this much time one-on-one with either of my kids before.  Let me correct myself -- I have spent tons of time (years and years!) with the kids, just not alone with no other adult consistently interacting helping to parent (like Jeff, my family, or mommy friends who help parent when we are together with our kids). 

It was just Sam and me for 4 straight days.  Not only 4 days, but 4 nights of putting Sam down to bed on my own.  I know there are single moms everywhere who do this every day, but that's not me.  I've had it really good with Jeff always helping co-parent.  And he was still being a parent as Ian was with him down in Orlando.  But we both know, he took the "easy one" with him on that plane.  I got to hang with the spirited, challenging one.

It should also be noted that before the boy's weekend for Spring Training started, Jeff went to PA the first part of the week for work. So he basically had a pretty sweet week and stopped in Burke long enough to repack a suitcase and give Sam and me a kiss hello and then goodbye.

I am pleased to report Sam and I had a great 4 days together.  We had lunch and saw a play with our friends.  Met up with Elaine and Matthew for dinner.  Had a playdate at another friend's house after school on Friday.  Did the grocery shopping for the week.  Exercised together to a DVD consisting of family yoga.  And we even found time to do one of Sam's most favorite activities....get a frappacunio (don't worry, no coffee involved).  We survived!  That is until Fairfax County Public Schools announced there wouldn't be school on Monday due to snow. Ugh!  I was really counting on school happening for a break from my non-stop parental duties since the boys left on Thursday. Sam and I were doing so well together.  I guess one more day wasn't going to send me running for the hills just yet.

We woke up on Monday to 7 inches of snow had fallen.  It was time to get to work and dig us out.  Usually Sam is a big helper and loves to be outside shovelling right next to me.  I think us being around each other 24/7 was getting to her too.  Her whiny voice found itself again in her body and it was non-stop complaining about everything under the sun.  Oh, school would've been a very good thing right about now.  We were doing so well too.  No longer.  I was not a happy camper.  Jeff and Ian were still enjoying 80 degree weather in Florida, while I am shoveling our driveway and cleaning both cars of the snow and listening to Sam whine.  Lovely!  I was ready for Jeff to come back.  I needed to be rescued.

Sam and I walked across the street for lunch at Chipotle. A change of scenery (and food!) was what we needed.  Sam did an excellent job eating lunch.  We walked back and kept warm inside the house until it was time to head to the airport.  She was back to being sweet.  Maybe Sam realized it was easier to agree with me than argue with me.

Fortunately Jeff and Ian's flight was late enough in the day on Monday that it took off on time.  Whew!! It was a beautiful thing to read Jeff's text that they were on the plane and he was shutting down his phone. 

I missed my boys and was very happy to have everyone together again.  Single's not for the faint of heart.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Training

This is a first.  Jeff in Orlando. Without me.  In the 10+ years we've been together, Jeff has never gone down to Florida without me.  It feels so weird to have him down there and me in Burke. 

Jeff and Ian came up with the idea to head South and catch some of the Spring Training baseball games.  They've been planning the trip since before the Spring Training schedule was even available.  From Thursday evening to Monday evening, Jeff and Ian had a fantastic boys weekend planned.  Not only did they see three baseball games in three days, but they got to spend a wonderful amount of time with my dad, Rita, mom, Jim, Lori, Ben and Rachel. 

My mom ended up in the hospital shortly before their visit started.  I was so grateful that Jeff and Ian could visit mom and see her multiple times throughout their time in Orlando.

The boys had an amazing trip!  I am sure now that my secret is out (visiting my family is the best thing ever) I will no longer be going as much as I had on my own.  There will be some stiff competition for long weekend trips to Orlando.  Especially when you are experiencing 80 degree weather and come back to 7+ inches of snow freshly falling.

We got lucky with the scheduling as Ian was originally going to miss 2 days of school (Friday and Monday) but because of the snow, school was cancelled (yet again!) on Monday, March 17th.  Ian ended up only missing 1 school day and didn't even miss gymnastics.  Monday was St. Patrick's day.  It was the luck of the Irish!

As Jeff was unpacking he said these were 3 of the best days of his life. He loved getting to have this time with Ian and create these memories. I know it was pretty special for Ian too. 

Ian getting tackled by Orbit, the Astro's mascot

Monday, March 17, 2014

Heard and Observed #45

I found out from a mutual friend that one of Ian's classmates' mom had a serious illness unexpectedly occur.  It sent a bit of a shock through all of us among the moms who know her.  I told Ian that his friend "John" may not be in school due to the serious condition his mom was in.  If John was in school, he should be extra sensitive to him.  Don't say anything to John unless he says something first.  And try to keep your response positive.  Ian said he would tell John, "I hope your mom feels better." 

I didn't go into too many details telling Ian what was going on; only saying that John's mom was sick.  If John did feel the need to talk about it, I didn't want Ian to start asking a bunch of questions and make John feel bad about what was going on. 

At the end of the day, Ian gets in the car and I asked him if John was in school.  Ian said yes.  Here was their conversation:

John asked Ian if he thought his mom was home or not.

Ian:  Yes, she's home.

John:  No, my mom is in the hospital.

Ian:  I hope she feels better.

John:  Thanks.

Ian:  I wasn't supposed to say anything until you said something first.

Oh my!!!  Next time I give Ian instructions, I am going to have tell him not to say what the instructions were!  It's very sweet how innocent kids are.  Ian meant well and didn't realize what he was doing.  Gosh, I love that kid. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Got potato?

The family that cooks together...eats together!

A few weeks ago Jeff mentioned it would be fun if we, as a family, cooked dinner together one night.  All of us.  WHAT!?!!?  Do I look like I am having that much fun in the kitchen each evening?  Do you really have nothing else to do that you have to invade my space and join me in this necessary evil called 'cooking dinner'?!?!?!  If you've never seen Jeff in the kitchen before, it is a sight to behold.  He likes to have everything he needs within reach.  This goes for pans, pots, mixing bowls, cooking utensils, measuring spoons/cups, knives, and pretty much everything you find the fridge and pantry.  Whether or not he will actually use it, it is as close to him as possible.  Most of the time he will find use for it all.  It becomes an impressive display how one meal can use so many pots, pans and mixing spoons.

I tried hard to let his suggestion of us all cooking together go in one ear and out the other. My goal is to find things to make for dinner each night that can be done as efficiently as possible.  In and out.  I am not there to linger.  I've got too many things to do!

We had a snow day not too long ago that kept us stuck in the house together all day long.  I had on the calendar to make Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner.  I wanted to put something with it as a side (besides french bread) and decided it was time to get the family involved in making dinner.  Yes, I was going to go there and fulfill Jeff's idea of a good time.  The kids and Jeff were going to make homemade potato chips.

I had been to a Pampered Chef party at a friends house back in January.  I saw this really cool gadget that made amazingly delicious, crispy potato chips (with no oil!) in the microwave.  The only thing you needed was a potato and salt. At the Pampered Chef party I had also ordered an easy slicer to help make the potatoes as thin as they needed to be for chips.

I pulled out the slicer, the special trays to microwave the potatoes and got my Toppall team to work.  Each person had a job.  Ian sliced the potatoes, Jeff patted the potatoes dry to absorb any liquid on them, and Sam salted and placed them on the trays.  The potato chip making ran like a well-oiled machine.  Each batch took exactly 3 minutes, 30 seconds to microwave.  It took about 6 batches before we all started telling each other to stop eating them as soon as they cooked and wait until we sat down for dinner.  They were so tasty and we were all starving from being outside shoveling snow.  It was hard not to devour them as soon as the microwave dinged.  Finally, Jeff, Ian and I started showing restraint.  Sam however, decided it was necessary to taste test each batch.  We were losing too many to quality control. 

Dare I say it?  We were having fun.  Jeff, Ian and Sam had their own thing going on and I was busy making the soup.  We were all in the kitchen cooking together.  It actually worked out well.  Who thought that was possible?  Well, Jeff did.  Guess what?  He was right. Yes, I am admitting it.  He was right.

Ian slicing the potato.

Sam putting the potatoes on the tray.

Yummy potato chips!!

They don't last long in our house.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hamentashen YUM-O!

The Toppall's came together for their annual Purim baking of Hamentashen cookies.  Our group is getting fast at making these yummy triangle shaped cookies!  As soon as we arrived and started rolling out the dough, we were concerned there wouldn't be our usual crazy number of cookies we produce.  What we didn't realize is everyone was rolling dough!  Before you knew it, we couldn't get them filled, folded and on the tray to put in the oven to bake fast enough.  The counter top was covered with dozens and dozens of little circles.  Even Samantha (our youngest helper) was holding her own and rolling with the best of them.  It was so fun having everyone join in, including the older boys. 

 I think we counted 149 Hamentashen were made with lots of love and fun when all was said and done!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Saturday we rocked!

It was like the clock had stopped moving.  On this most recent Saturday morning, my Toppall team and I got a ridiculously large amount of stuff done before 9:00am.  It's not unusual for us to be early-risers, really early-risers; it is unusual however for us all to be motivated and work together towards a common goal.  Usually it's me or Jeff that is eager to get going on the to-do list; generally it doesn't happen to us at the same time.  And for the kids to be equally motivated to want to help, is quite phenomenal.  All of four us together accomplishing our to-do list is amazing.  I don't think this has ever happened before, not to this extent I know that.

The morning started off with Jeff at Wegman's at 6:15am.  Fortunately I had the shopping list done the night before and he could go as early as the store would allow him to show up. Sam spent the time with Jeff gone yelling at me and acting up.  She was going off about something or other.  Honestly, I do my best to difuse the situation and hope she calms down quickly.  I knew once Jeff came back she would be fine again.  In hindsight, he should've just taken her with him grocery shopping.

From the moment Jeff walked back in the door and put away the groceries, we all pitched in and got moving.  From five loads of wash clean and put away, to the bathrooms being scrubbed, to the floors getting vacuumed, to both kids getting showers, to beds getting made, and the pool membership application getting filled out, we moved swiftly and efficiently. Within 2 hours, the whole house was clean. Everything was done by 9:00am!!  It was pretty sweet! 

Ian and I met some friends at Wildfire for lunch and did a little shopping at Tyson's.  Gosh I love that restaurant.  Jeff and Sam walked to Coldstone for ice cream.  Later in the afternoon, Jeff played catch with the kids (It was GORGEOUS outside!!) and I went for an hour walk.  I made my chicken meatballs and spaghetti for dinner which everyone loves.  What a great day!

I loved that the kids wanted to help.  They are doing a great job with the cleaning.  I hope we can have more Saturdays like this.  Go Team Toppall!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Coffee Talk

About a month ago during one of our many snow days from school while I was out to lunch with the kids, I ran into a mommy friend that I first met when Ian was a baby.  Once her little boy and mine got old enough for preschool, we naturally went on different paths and didn't really talk as much. We had traded emails sporadically, but that was the extent of our friendship.

We decided it would be nice to get together for coffee once school was back in session and we were sans kids for few hours.  This past Friday was our date to meet at Panera Bread for coffee.  I got there about 10 minutes early, got a cup of hot tea and found a table.  This particular Panera location has their tables really close together and my table for 2 was near the really big table that a Panera Bread always has available.  Seated at the big table were 3 women who had to be in their mid-seventies.  They were chatting a mile a minute.  These women were so full of life and were pretty much finishing each other's sentences.  After listening to their conversation for 5 minutes (really, it couldn't be helped!), I had to chime in.  I HAD to!!  It was killing me to keep my mouth shut. 

Me:  Sorry to eavesdrop, but I've been watching for 37 years, since I was 5 years old.   I totally agree with you, the character of Sonny couldn't be played by anyone else.


We started chatting and I instantly fell in love with these women.  They were the coolest!  To hear them talk about this soap opera reminded me that I am not alone in my love of the show.  We are a dying breed!

When my friend arrived, she sat down and told me these women are always there.  Every time she's been there, these women are sitting at the same table and having the same conversation about General Hospital.  How cool is that!?!? 

Once I've retired from all my jobs and have more time on my hands, I aspire to be one of these women.  A regular coffee meet-up to discuss General Hospital or whatever the latest show is my idea of a great reason to hang-out with friends. I wonder if these women will still be around then?

On a side note, it was really great catching up with my friend.  We filled each other in on our kids, what's new, our Summer plans and more.  I told my friend about Sam and my latest challenges with her.  It's been more intense than usual and we are really going through a difficult time.  Once I got done giving her the 5 minute version, she just looked at me and said, "Wow, you don't even look haggard.  You always have a smile on your face."   All I could answer her with was, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.  What else can I do?  I can't give up.  I've got to keep trying."

Monday, March 3, 2014

The case of the missing homework folder

Every Friday afternoon Sam comes home with her homework folder.  It is filled with homework for the coming week.  Each Friday morning, the folder gets turned in and the cycle begins again.  I always, ALWAYS keep the homework folder in the same spot, each and every day.  Friday morning I put the homework folder in her backpack and Friday afternoon, I take the homework folder out of her backpack.  Without fail this has been going on since Ian was in Kindergarten.  Same exact schedule, same exact spot.

At some point during the weekend, Sam will say she wants to do all her homework for the coming week and Jeff or I will sit down with her to get it done.  We never need to ask where the folder is, because we always know where it is.  The homework isn't due till the end of the school week, so the completed folder gets put back in the same spot.  The whole thing is very predictable.  We've never had a problem with this system since it began. 

I left for Florida on a Thursday afternoon.  Before leaving, I put a big post-it note on the back of the front door "DON'T FORGET TO PUT THE HOMEWORK FOLDER IN SAM'S BACKPACK".

Monday night I come back home and take notice the homework folder is not where it should be.  I check Sam's backpack and it is not there.  I ask Jeff where it is.  He has no idea.  I ask Sam where it is.  She has no idea.  I ask Jeff if he put her homework folder in her backpack before school on Friday.  He said yes.  Hmmm, that's weird.  I then ask Jeff if she came back home with it at the end of the day.  He said he doesn't know.  No one knows where Sam's homework folder is.

I send an email to Sam's teacher and ask her to help solve this mystery of the missing homework folder.  Did the folder not make it home?  Did the teacher decide to not assign homework (although she has never skipped a week before)? 

It takes a full day but the teacher responds and writes that her assistant who does all the homework folder stuff was not in school today.  She will check with her tomorrow and send the homework folder home with Sam on Wednesday.  She also added a line that we shouldn't worry if Sam needs more time to do the work and we can turn it in late.

Finally on Thursday I get an email from the assistant teacher.  Sam already turned in her homework folder with all the work completed.  This was done on Monday.  As the assistant writes, "Sam is on top of it!". 

On top of it?  Really?  Wouldn't on top of it mean that either Jeff or Sam knew they received the homework folder, did all the work in it and returned it on MONDAY!!?!?!?  Just a few hours later when I got home on Monday, neither of them could remember any of that.

Mystery solved.  Case closed.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

70 Candles

A week ago, I was down in Orlando to celebrate my mom turning 70.  If you know my mom, you'd know she doesn't act like she is 70.  Most days she has more energy than I do and keeps going, going, going like the Energizer bunny.  She is funny, thoughtful, quick to lend a hand and one of the best people you'd ever be fortunate to meet.  My mom is beautiful inside and out. Simply put, she is my best friend.

My sister Lori and I threw my mom a small party for her 70th. Originally Jeff and the kids were going to travel to Florida with me, but after spending 2 weeks with everyone at the end of December, and Jeff's upcoming trip with Ian in March, it didn't make sense to spend hundreds of dollars on airfare for a long weekend.  So I got to have a wonderful weekend back home, sans kids.  The timing could not have been more perfect as I was really needing a break. 

This most recent trip going solo got me thinking.  There were many moments when I wished Jeff and the kids were with me.  I wanted to hang out with my mom/Jim, dad/Rita, Lori/Ben/Rachel, and Meghan with my kids and husband.  It was hard to be at the party and not have them there.  Hanging at my sister's house with her new baby really made me want Ian and Sam to get to know their cousin as much as they could.  It didn't seem right that I got to hold her and no one else on my Toppall team could.

My other thought that hit me was "What the hell was I thinking moving so far away from everyone?!?!?"   I absolutely ADORE my family.  The amount of love I feel towards the Florida crew can not be measured.   On Monday afternoon, a few hours before my flight back home, Rita, Meghan and I went for a quick lunch.  It is not an exaggeration to say that we laughed our way through the entire lunch.  Oh, what fun we had!  This lunch was such an impromptu, last minute idea and it will bring smiles to my face every time I think about it.

I know it is not practical to even consider moving back to Orlando (nor do I want to deal with the heat), but if given the right opportunity, I'd jump at the chance.  My sister's baby (Rachel) is so blessed to be growing up with her grandparents and aunt a mile or two away   I am not a jealous person, but this does get me teary-eyed on how special it will be for her.

Every time I come back from a visit down South, I feel incredibly grateful to have had the chance to go. I also instantly get depressed that I won't be around my family until the next time I go down to visit.  As of now, I don't plan to go back until July.  Gosh, that seems so far away.  I may need to do something about that. 

This was my mom 'back in the day'.
Wasn't she beautiful?
My mom with her 2 girls.