Returned

on 25 January 2010

We're home.

I'm not sure where to begin to talk about the trip.  I have some stories that I really want to tell but I seem to be experiencing this vacuum of language where I don't quite have the right words to talk about much at all right now.

Once again I considered just shutting down the blog all together.  I get delete happy when I feel like this.

For the moment I'm washing load after load of laundry, grocery shopping and hoping the delete happy feeling passes.

I'm going to try to work on those stories and get them up this week.  I have pictures too, and pictures to send off to Whimsy and Samwise.  My child thinks his new permanent place is in my lap.

To do it justice

on 20 January 2010

Coming to you LIVE from New Mexico and the High Desert, it is M!  And the Boy, so fully two-thirds of Burnstopia!

We are exhausted.

So here's the back story. 

Six years ago last August our triumverate disbanded.  I moved to the South for grad school and eventually the faithful Samwise would leave to work a WIC clinic in North Carolina followed by a stint in Okinawa.  Whimsy alone of all of us has remained constant.  Then we went and got married in our separate corners of the states, Whimsy to Chip in Seattle, me and Chris in North Carolina and Samwise and her Joe in the desert southwest.

And then we went and had children.  The charming and disarming Alice, followed four months later by the Boy followed a year and bit later by the Newbie:  London.  (Though ingenue would probably be the nicer and more sophisticated term.)

We haven't been all together for 6 long years. 

So when Whimsy came East last Spring we concocted this PLAN.  The two of us and our two children would DESCEND on the unsuspecting Samwise in New Mexico.  We would admire each other's children, we would talk, we would laugh and we would oooo and aaaahhhh over the Newbie.

And so that's what we're doing this week.  In case you were suffering The Morbid Curiousity.

The Boy and I flew from Jacksonville to Atlanta from Atlanta to Phoenix and from Phoenix to Albuquerque from whence we would meet up with Whimsy and Alice and rent a car and drive the long miles into the desert to a small casino/resort near our Faithful Samwise.  And that's what we've done.  Crossed time zones and state lines, soared and descended, hurried and rushed and finally rested.

I have many stories to tell you all, stories of bravery, of kindness and tender mercies, of patience and mellowing.  But I can't tell them just yet.  I haven't quite finished living them. 

Be patient.  More is coming.

Away we go...

on 19 January 2010

The Boy and I are winging our way west today.  Chris drove us south to Jacksonville this morning.  We'll fly to Atlanta then to Phoenix and then, at long last, we'll arrive in New Mexico.  If anyone can logically explain why I have to overshoot the whole STATE of New Mexico in order to go there, I would appreciate the explanation.

If any of you have traveled with an 18 month old then you'll know exactly what I'll be doing for the next few days. 

In addition to all of that I'll be laughing until I cry and crying until I laugh with two great women and their two daughters. 

My poor Boy is about to be hopelessly outmanned by the estrogen.

Monday, Monday

on 18 January 2010

Am I the only one completely depressed by Haiti?  I can't stop looking at the slide shows and watching the news coverage.  Some women from church are planning a service project for the people down there, so I'm not quite paralyzed...but I have taken to roaming the house and muttering, "We live in biblical times..."**

And when I want to curl up in a ball and pull the covers over my head, I flip through these pictures...



As if the cardboard box was not fun enough.  That was before he met his good friend Rubbermaid.



 

 

 

 

 



**Give what you can...please?

A Buzz and some living room furniture

on 15 January 2010

So.

First, let me Shout Out a Happy Birthday to my home-girl Whimsy!  And since I'm feeling nostalgic I'll say, "Stay Cool and Sweet, Flygirl!"  I'll be seeing you next week.  In case you won't recognize me since the spring, I'll be the frazzled looking one carrying a tired and cranky and probably flailing child.

The Boy and I have been sick most of the week.  I have been decidedly more ill than He.  He had a runny nose but was otherwise fine.  I lay on the couch watching West Wing for the better part of Wednesday afternoon.

And as I lay there it occurred to me that my Boy's hair was a bit out of control.  Instead of being thick and shaggy and cool it was thin and wispy and due to the excess of static electricity he had a comb-over from his left ear all the way over to his right.

So out came the clippers and 30 minutes later (hey!  You try buzzing a Boy who is thoroughly fascinated by the clippers and keeps trying to turn around to see what you're doing back there!) and he was much neater.



 

 

So the cowlick's back.  But all in all I think he likes it.  And he looks MUCH better.  (I didn't cry.  I wasn't sad.  But I find after a couple of days that what I miss is the bed hair.  It was so cute when it was big and sticking up all over his head.  Now it sticks up for no good reason at all except that it grows that way.)

Oh.

And we finally bought some real living room furniture.  Chris' boss, his dad is selling his duplex on St. Simon's and moving to Florida so he's selling all of his furniture too because it reminds him of his late wife and all he really needs for happiness is a recliner.  So we went and looked at it and it's all relatively new and you can't beat the price so we bought it.

We now have real living room furniture.

Feelin' BOR-ING

on 14 January 2010

What do you guys do all winter long?

I'm not bored.  I'm actually quite content but I feel like I'm boring to read right now.  I'm sorry.  I'm off to New Mexico on the Grand Invasion next week.  I should get some good pictures and good stories to report from that...

For now, we're hanging out.  There are toys all over our living room.  We watch West Wing.  I crochet or knit--I'm working on two very different scarves at the same time.  We read a lot.  We cuddle under blankets and tell stories in hushed voices.  We play with toys from Christmas.  We eat lots of citrus and still have to wipe runny noses.

Chris is job hunting again.  So there's that familiar tension in the house again.

I've been able to successfully put off working out until I get back from New Mexico.  I figure, I don't work out when I'm traveling so there's very little point in working out this week only to take most of next week off...so I'll go back to ye old treadmill and yoga after New Mexico.  In the meantime I'm dreaming of really good Mexican food and laughing with my girls until I cry.

The Cats can't get enough of all the cuddling under blankets.  They're two furry purring machines.

I keep having weird dreams.  I blame falling asleep before I've properly warmed up.  Last night I dreamed that I had x-men mutant powers, some how I could contain and condense other mutant's powers.  Magneto and his gang of ruffians had kidnapped the Boy and wouldn't tell me where he was and I was containing and compressing his merry minions one by one while setting the place on FIRE with my MIND.

Yeah.  I know.  I didn't really have a point there did I?  Sorry about that.  Apparently, I shall go to New Mexico in search of really good Mexican food AND a point.

Read This, Not That

on 13 January 2010

You've heard of those books Eat This, Not That, right?  This guy goes around to different restaurants comparing caloric and fat content of food and telling people which are their best choices.

I've decided that it's my job to do that for people, but with books not food.  Not that I think I'm all important or that anyone should listen to me, but quite a few of you do send me emails asking for book recommendations and I think I shall resolve to do a better job of that in the New Year. 

My first recommendation is going to be the Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I read this review by Amy at the Progressive Pioneer and was intrigued enough to pick up a copy.  And there it sat until I gave myself a Get Out of Your 2010 Reading List FREE Card (for my birthday, natch) and I picked it up.

Let me just say this.  If you're going to read adolescent fiction (as opposed to real literature for ADULTS), READ the Book Thief, DON'T READ Twilight (or any of the subsequent soap operas).  It's surprisingly intelligent, it's historic, thrilling and imaginative.  And because I am an ADULT reading adolescent fiction it's a quick and easy read.  I'm not even half-way through and I'm perfectly confident recommending it for all of you to read.

Now if you'll all excuse me, I have a book to read...

18 Months have Passed me by...

on 12 January 2010

In 18 months I have lost and found my mind dozens of time.  I have lost my temper and found my patience.  I have forgotten my ambitions and found my sense of purpose.  I have lost my balance and found my priorities.  I have lost time and found the moment.  I have forgotten how hard it was at the beginning and remembered how much I have loved him from the start. 

He's taught me how to let work slide and play.  How to let things go.  How to forgive and forget.  How to sacrifice something good for something better.  He reminds me to have fun every day.  To eat well.  To take naps because all of that work and play and reading and eating will really take a lot out of a person.  He teaches me how to see the world with better eyes.  And just last weekend he taught me the limitless possibilities of a cardboard box.



 

 

 

Lessons Learned

on 11 January 2010

Can I just tell you all how fantastic my birthday was?  It was just perfect.  The celebration started Friday morning with a play date with some of my lovely friends down here.  There were bagels and cream cheese and muffins and CAKE and it was all fantastic.  And the best part?  The kids played and I got to have lovely conversation with some really great women.

The festivities continued with an afternoon NAP.  I haven't had a nap in months and it was gorgeous.

And then Chris came home and we had dinner together and he promised I could sleep in on my Birthday morning.  And you know what?  He was bang on the money!  Usually when I ask to sleep in, it means that I'll wake up when the Boy wakes up and then I wake up Chris and he's the one who actually gets out of bed to address the Boy who is done sleeping.  On my birthday?  Chris woke up BEFORE the Boy woke up and crept out to the living room to listen for the Boy so that I wouldn't even wake up with the Boy!  I slept until 8:45!  Absolutely unheard of 'round these parts for many, many, MANY moons.

My birthday included some of my favorite things:

  1. Chris!
  2. Hugs from my Boy.
  3. Bagels for breakfast
  4. CAKE!  Brett made lemon poppy-seed cake and it was SO good.
  5. Good conversation with lovely women.
  6. Chocolate.  Mmmmm.  
  7. Exploration of a local book shop.
  8. PRESENTS!  I already told you what Chris bought me, my mom gave me a gift card to Michaels and I gave myself a Get Out of Your 2010 Reading List Free Card.  As in, I shelved the book I was reading (sans guilt) and picked up a new book I bought with money from my Grandma.  Review is forthcoming.
  9. Cream puffs!  Chris made them for me and then he made me a SECOND BATCH the next day because they were so good.
  10. Fancy dinner out!  Ok.  So I don't really care about fancy dinners, but the hospital gave us a gift certificate to this fancy restaurant so we had to use it.  My friend Celeste came and sat with the Boy and we trekked out to St. Simon's Island for pan seared yellow fin tuna on a bed of wasabi mashed potatoes and oh man it was GOOD.  Not how we normally eat, but delicious for a treat we didn't have to PAY for.
  11. Birthday wishes from tons of people!  Thank you all!  You are marvelous and I'm most grateful to have you in my life.
I just couldn't get over how fantastic it all was.  I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting but I'm exhausted from all the happiness.



I have been thinking about things that I've learned from my 3+ decades of life on this Earth.  The following list is really for my own reference, you don't have to keep reading, I just needed to write this down somewhere so that I could come back to it as necessary.  Total Skimmers, you're off the hook.

Things I've Learned So Far...
  1. You can do hard things.
  2. You have had a very good education.  You should never take that for granted, you should never hide it, you should share it in whatever way and in whatever place you may be in.
  3. Everyone has their own gifts.  Some are fun and creative and flirty and beautiful and others are quieter and more subtle.  You can't trade gifts with others so stop wasting time wishing you were like someone else.  You are who you are.  Your gifts are your own.  Appreciate the gifts of others, and use the ones God gave YOU.
  4. Never dumb yourself down for others.  People will rise to the level around them.  It's not a bad thing to be smart.  It's only a bad thing if you don't use it to help others.
  5. Life isn't fair.  It's a recognized fact, now let's move on.
  6. There will likely, always be something that chafes you about your life.  Something you don't like, something you would wish away if you could.  You can't.  Enjoy everything else and you'll be just fine.
  7. Travel.  It's good for you.  You hate it most of the time.  Planes go against nature and it's too many people and too many germs and too much too much too much.  But it's good to leave your comfort zone.  It's good to see new places, to meet new people and please remember Lesson #1.
  8. All communication is essentially miscommunication.  We can't be on the inside of someone else's head so we can never fully understand what they "mean" when they speak.  Does this mean we should try?  NO.  Keep trying.  If speaking doesn't work, write, if writing doesn't work, paint, if painting doesn't work, touch.  And keep on trying until you find some way to communicate with the people in your life.  Which leads us to #9.
  9. People are in your life for a reason.  Don't waste time feeling awkward or admiring them from afar.  Call them.  Go see them.  Sit and talk with them.  Learn all you can from them.  Be of service to them.  Love them.  Sure, sometimes they'll break your heart but that just leads us to #10.
  10. It's not fun and it's not pleasant, but don't let fear of having your heart broken keep you from loving people.  We're made to be broken and put back together again.  It'll hurt for a while but we get better.
  11. Never miss an opportunity to tell people you love them.  Feel silly?  Sentimental?  Weird?  Yeah.  But so what?  Nothing is garaunteed so tell them you love them and walk the silly/sentimental/weirdness off.

Not that this list is complete but I've got to publish this sooner or later, so you tell me, what are some lessons you've learned?

    An experience in random

    on 08 January 2010

    I'm feeling decidedly unfocussed lately.


    Poor you.


    Also poor Chris.


    The Boy is in Heaven.  It means that our days are totally unstructured and I spend a lot more time wallowing on the floor with him or tickling or playing with toys that I don't normally play with.

    I don't really know why I'm so unfocussed and disorganized, it's not NORMAL for me.  I can only assume it's a prolonged holiday hangover.  (We don't drink so by hangover I mean the over-eating, over-sugar, over-traveling, over-family, over-presents of the holidays.)  I'm trying to remember what I used to make for dinners before it was all pie all the time.  Last night I made pizza and my friend Mona said, "But it's Wednesday.  You make pizza on Mondays."  Which I vaguely remember, but it's almost cold here so I was craving warm pizza.

    How's that for random?

    I have this long list of things I was supposed to do this week but alas, poor Yorick, I have not done them. 

    1. Bake Bread
    2. Bake cupcakes for Friday play date
    3. Play date Friday
    4. Prepare lesson for church
    5. Laundry
      1. in my own defense the laundry is all CLEAN, I just have to finish folding it.
    6. Write thank you notes
    7. Blog 
    8. Go and look at some furniture
      1. Chris' boss's dad is selling the furniture in his condo now that his wife has died.  We want to go look at it in the hopes that it will be cheap and we'll like it and it will perhaps come to Burnstopia to provide us with more comfortable seating than our thoroughly mashed futon.
    9. Schedule an oil change for Arabella
    10. WASH Arabella
    I could go on but it's kind of depressing me at this point since I feel like I've worked all week long but NOTHING on this list is actually done.

    On a totally unrelated and therefore appropriately random note, I made some whole wheat spice muffins yesterday that turned out awesome.  Especially when one considers that I didn't have a recipe and was totally winging it.

    Why is it that my child's favorite place to be in the entire world (of our apartment) is laying right under my feet?  I wish I was exaggerating, but alas, I am not.

    Chris has applied for 2 jobs so far and both of us are trying not to talk about how much we hate the job hunting process.  HINT:  A LOT.

    This is the first year since Chris and I were married that he's bought me a birthday present.  The year we were engaged he brought (they were FREE from Dad's store) me a small Swiss Army penknife and a pedometer because I lost my original Swiss Army penknife and he and I were having an on-going argument about relative walking distance.  (i.e. he thinks FAR is anything further away than a block.  I think FAR is 5 miles or more.)  After 5 and half years of marriage he's bought me another pretty-pretty bag off of ebay.  It's a diaper bag.  It's made by my favorite diaper bag designers.  Neither of us would EVER buy one for retail price because lo, they are RIDICULOUSLY priced.  But ebay always has them (and craig's list sometimes has them) and most of them are reasonably priced.  So while we were in NC for New Year's he bid on one and won it!  I'm giddy at the prospect of a bonafide birthday present from Chris.  It's a once every 6 year phenomenon (apparently) so I intend to enjoy it.

    My feet are really cold right now.

    I really should attempt to do something productive off of that list...

    I made these reading goals for 2010, mostly composed of books that I've started at various points but never finished.  There are 12 of them.  So, theoretically, I need to read a book a month.  I'm currently working on Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy.  It's good, but it's also good and depressing.  I'm resisting the urge to shelve it in order to re-read Lord of the Rings again.

    The reason I was thinking of Lord of the Rings is that part where they have to face the Balrog of Morgoth in Moria and Gandalf realizes what it is and he says, "A Balrog.  And I am already tired."  I love that.  That's how I feel lately.  Everything becomes a Balrog and I am already tired.

    The Boy is toting around the new hair clippers I bought for Chris because his old ones broke.

    All right.  This is going absolutely no where, I had hopes that I might be able to salvage it and you know, actually go somewhere with it.  But I have now realized that's not going to happen.  Here's hoping for greater focus next week.

    The Haps 'round these parts...

    on 07 January 2010

    Chris got a call Monday evening from his brother.  Mike said that Grandma had been found (by Dad) unresponsive in her home.  Her heart was beating and she was breathing but otherwise unresponsive.  So Dad called an ambulance and had her rushed to the hospital.  She was given a CT scan and admitted to ICU.  The problem is that nobody knows what happened.  Chris went to see her Tuesday night and she was awake and responsive but still confused.

    As you can imagine we're all worried.

    I did a lot of thinking while I was in North Carolina about These Women in our lives.  Chris has 2 grandmothers and a great-grandmother still living.  I have one grandmother.  The Boy has both of his grandmothers, 3 great-grandmothers, and a lovely great-aunt (she may as well be another grandma to him), and a great-great-grandmother .  I was thinking of how we seem to be surrounded by these very different, very lively, very lovely older women, and it seems like the Boy will likewise be surrounded by different, lively and lovely women as he grows up. 

    It is a great blessing, but it's a blessing that carries its own sadness as we have come to realize this week.  We get to have these women as a part of our lives, we get to listen to their stories and laugh with them.  We get to share in their knowledge and learn from their regrets.  But we also have to watch as they grow older little bit by little bit.  We watch carefully where they step, all the while making conversation so that they don't notice that we're watching where they step.  We have to live in the moment while planning (and worrying) for the future.

    We invest our hearts in These Women all the while knowing that at some point their bodies will wear out and our hearts will break as we have to let them go.  And in that moment we come to realize that at some point we ourselves become one of These Women, one of the older ones that people worry and fret over. 

    It is a great blessing.  But one silver-lined with sorrow.

    S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night

    on 06 January 2010

    You know what I hate about traveling?

    There's absolutely no way to win.  Because there is a finite period of time, there's no possible way to see everyone we want to see nor everyone who would like to see us.  And knowing this, we decided ahead of time that the priority was to see family and our lovely Cathy of Career Serivces (Chris has started the job hunt again and we can use all the help we can get).

    So after 3 long days of happy family chaos, we met up with Cathy, had a lovely visit and headed home to bathe the Boy and put him to bed.  Which we did.  It was cold out so we warmed up some yummy food and sat and ate, at which point I realized that I hadn't seen my Grandma yet.  So I bundled up and walked down the street to see my Grandma.

    My Grandma has lived all over the place.  She was married to a sailor and they lived on Guam, Midway, up and down the California coast, Oregon, Washington and other parts unthought of at the moment.  She's a tough woman because she had to be.  They (my grandparents) eventually settled in Arkansas in this somewhat ramshackled house.

    As a kid their house was strange to me, it was full of various mementos from their travels so you can imagine the combination of artifacts.  My grandmother is a knitter and otherwise needle worker so there were always these bright lights that she could pull over her work to see better. 

    She's since moved more than a thousand miles away and yet there is this ineffable quality to my Grandma's house.  Maybe it's the light, maybe it's the smell, maybe it's the artifacts, I don't know, but there's something about being there that makes me feel young again.

    I was looking into her face last Saturday and I felt like a 9 year old again.  Creeping up to my Grandma and holding out my hands imploringly, "Grandma, will you paint my finger nails?"

    (She had worked in a salon at one point or another in her history.)

    She would look at my fingers with those piercing eyes of hers (the kind that never failed to notice if you were just pushing your vegetables around on your plate instead of eating them, or if you were in any way dirty or slovenly) and say, "You've chewed these to nothing!  I can't do anything with these!"

    (My Grandma hates it when we bite our nails, and I was BAD, I chewed my nails until I was in college.  I still do when I get really nervous.)

    That 9 year old face, framed by the long curly hair, "Please, Grandma, please?  Please will you paint my nails?"

    And she would.  We would sit at her kitchen table with the ceiling fan making a slow strobe light of the flourecents and she would carefully file away the rough edges and paint a thin coat of clear polish over my short stubby finger nails.


    ********************************************************************************

    We chatted and talked and she told me stories of her childhood, her parents and my Grandpa Bill.  She told me about the people she goes to church with and things that she used to be able to do that she can't do anymore and she resents it.  She resents getting old.  She misses her independence like you would miss a member of your family.

    We talked for more than an hour and eventually I walked out into the cold clear night.  I looked at the moon and the stars as I walked up the hill to my parent's house and I thought about growing up.  How hard it must be the older we get.  I still carry that memory of that 9 year old girl in my head, and it was only 20 (ish) years ago.  My Grandma is 93.  She carries her own 9 year old self in her head but there are even more years to contend with between now and then.

    I look around and everyday I'm grateful for Time.  Time with my family and friends, time with my husband and boy, time to work, to read, to relax, to be creative.  But sitting with my Grandma I began to think that Time must also be a heavy burden.  To carry the weight of all those years, of all that memory, to know clearly what you have been and what you are no longer.  To see Time passing in the faces of those you love and to lose those people one by one to Time. 

    Oh yeah...

    on 04 January 2010

    We were in North Carolina.

    Now we're back.

    My living room looks like a Tornado of Toys has passed through the midst of it.

    There is a pile of laundry the size of...well, ME, in my bedroom.

    The apartment is cold and the cats are needy.

    The Boy is throwing various toys around the already trashed living room

    I know I should be writing, I should be working on the mammoth pile of laundry, I should clean up the apartment and maybe think about cooking something, but I am tired.  Tired of epic proportions.  And so I'm putting on West Wing and relaxing today.


    I'll see you on the flip side.

    Well, there went the last of my dignity...

    on 01 January 2010

    We're in North Carolina, y'all, so you know I'm happy.

    My brother and his lovely family drove down from Maryland and Chris and the Boy and I drove up from Georgia and we all converged on my Sister and her family to celebrate my Dad's birthday and New Year's.  It's lovely being back here so soon, I hadn't expected it, but Chris was in need of a break so here's where we are.

    We spent most of yesterday at my Sister's.  We all contributed some fingery foods and sat and talked and snacked most of the day.  The Boy bounced like a ping pong ball between his EIGHT cousins until, in a fit of over-stimulation and exhaustion, I hauled him upstairs for a bath and his bed time routine.  At the time we intended to get him ready for bed and then get on the road.   (We're staying with my parents who live about an hour away from my sister so we were hoping to get him winding down in the car and then he'd go to sleep that much easier when we got back...HAHAHAHA!  This is the tale of the best laid plans of Mice and M and how they often go astray.)

    I had the Boy upstairs and I stripped him and Chris was helping me to bathe him, so once he was in the tub, I took his dirty clothes and dirty diaper and started to trot DOWNSTAIRS to where I had left the diaper bag.  In a fit of over-confidence in my ability to oh, descend the stairs, I missed the bottom step, slipped on the hardwood floor, tripped on the rug and landed rather forcefully on my right knee.  As I lay there, SPLAT, on the floor all I could think was, "Well, there went the last of my dignity.  The last few slender pieces I had remaining after pregnancy and childbirth, they're laying about me like tattered pieces of confetti.  Now, do I attempt to pick them up, or do I just leave them where they lay and attempt to reconstruct my dignity once we're done with our family?"  It was a very exhistential moment for me.

    I left my dignity there.

    I scraped myself up, put the dirty clothes and dirty diaper away.  Had a few moments of histerical laughter and then trudged back upstairs where my child was screaming through his bath time.  I dried, diapered and dressed him and much more carefully descended the stairs again. 

    Then, I proceeded to get caught up in my brother and sister's conversation...which lingered...and lingered...and then was permeated by this stench which seemed to be eminating from my child.  I looked at him and inquired,

    "Did you poop AGAIN?"

    No comment from the accused. 

    I lingered with the conversation until the stench became un-ignorable, at which point I picked him up and schlepped back to the bathroom to address the crisis.

    Oh dear, bless us and save us.  It seems my child's entire gastrointestinal track exploded in that diaper.  It was EVERYWHERE.  Suffice it to say I'm still a little shaken up by it.  The grossness of it was such that I was able to acknowledge that situations such as these might be why people wrinkle up their noses at cloth diapers.

    But left with no alternative, I cleaned him up, changed his clothes (AGAIN) and this time I was fleeing the scene, sans dignity, sans bed-ready Boy, sans any remaining sense of smell.  I'm telling you, it was a SCARRING experience.

    And yet, like the band playing on the Titanic as the ship goes down, my family was awesome.  Totally unphased by any of it, the stories continued, the jokes continued, the conversation continued.

    We're heading back today.  It's family dinner, and the last one we'll have all together until June.  Tomorrow my nephew returns to college, my Brother and his family return to Maryland and on Sunday we'll be returning to Georgia.  As for today, I'm going to wallow in the familial love.