Saturday, February 27, 2010

Where were you 10 years ago?

I can tell you where I was 10 years ago today...vividly!!! I spent most of the day pacing in a hotel room over looking this view of Guatemala City fielding calls from the U.S. State Department's Director of Children's Affairs and the Ambassador to Guatemala!!!

Only two days earlier these same people had directed me to abandon the plan to have Mari escorted back to the United States by the director of our adoption agency. In the days when adoptions from Guatemala were only taking 3-5 months to complete, ours was going on TWELVE!! Both of these officials had given me every assurance that if my husband and I presented IN PERSON to the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City that we would be given the all important VISA needed to finally bring Mari home. Less than 24 hours after being given those directions we were standing at the infamous 'window' only to be informed that somewhere in the bowels of the embassy our new daughter's Guatemalan passport had!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, and by the way, "the embassy will be closed tomorrow" so even if by some miracle of bribery you do get a replacement passport from your attorney we won't be issuing any visas until Monday morning when we reopen after having picked our noses all weekend long. Yes, 10 years later I can still feel the full rage I felt that day!!! They lose the passport but we get to replace and then wait around for the same bunch of incompetents to enjoy a long weekend off?!?!?

Needless to say I was on the phone to EVERYONE within minutes. Thanks to a very well connected sibling who was the highest ranking naval officer in England at that time, we received a personal call from the ambassador to England who was looking for the details of our case. He then took that information and personally called the ambassador to Guatemala...and suddenly there seemed to be one employee who would be working on Friday?!?!?! Nice to have connections sometimes (:

So here I am pacing, while Patrick sits on the floor playing with Mari, waiting for the suddenly available employee to call and tell us the plan. In a whirlwind, we are collected from the hotel and driven into a very dicey neighborhood where we are trooped up some dark and foul smelling stairs to sit in front of a clearly annoyed Guatemalan Imagracion employee who grills us for several minutes. During this time he goes from annoyed to accusatory! Suddenly we are being told that our attorney did not obtain a legal passport?!?! My heart just about stopped and I hugged the squirming toddler on my lap even tighter. My mind raced as it tried to keep up with his Spanish tirade and I was, for the first time of the trip, thankful that Patrick did not understand Spanish! In some adept linguistic maneuver, that I missed in my time delayed translations going on in my head, the embassy employee gets the man who turns out to be the HEAD of Imagracion in Guatemala to make a phone call. Whoosh!!! We are hurried back down the stairs and into the waiting taxi and flew through traffic across the width of the city because as Mr. Embassy informed us...not only had our attorney gotten a VALID passport but he had been smart enough to get it at one of the only sites that was fully computerized! We were now on our way to the police station located at the airport (because that was the location assigned to the embassy) to make out a police report?????

Sigh, yes, in one of those ludicrous Catch-22 scenarios we had to go the police and report her passport as being 'missing and assumed lost' and obtain a certificate. This certificate was the only way the Imagracion people would reissue Mari's passport.

One thing to say...Mari was an absolute trooper through this whole ordeal!! Can you imagine leaving the only people you have known for more than two years to be handed over to these pasty white strangers...who are clearly stressed about something?? Can you imagine going from a quiet life where you rarely left the four walls of the foster family's home to multiple taxi rides in this strange woman's lap as the adults around you talked in tones that were clearly not joyous?!? In all of her innocent youth all she did was watch everything with studious intensity with an occasional happy exclamation of, "Mira Mommy! Puedo ver muchos motos!!!" Later that night in the hotel room, Mari also told us she did not like the policemen. I was surprised because I had not found them particularly nice either so I asked her why? She said, "Ellos son malos porque los ojos no tienen sonrisas" which means "They are bad because their eyes do not have smiles".....very perceptive! You see, the police men were the first people I ever met in Guatemala who not only didn't smile at Mari and wish her good luck in America but there was a racist quality to the way they discussed how her physical description should be listed!! "Tipico Indigeno' said with scrunched noses and curled lips...

and so I am very grateful that we got that passport and visa so she could get out of that place where her future was limited by her 'tipico indigeno' label!! This was my beautiful daughter that I had waited so long to hold in my arms and the world is her oyster!!

Funny how some of those 10 years are etched deeply in my psyche but most of them have flown by in a heart beat!! 10 years ago tonight I went to bed as a Mom.....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shameless Pitch #2!!!

I so try to keep this blog limited to our little family and their antics with an occasional nod  to my sewing addiction. Every once in a while, though, I do come across something that moves me to reach out to every one I know in every way I possibly can! So please humor me with this one short post directed at my Catholic blogging buddies.

I was just approached today about a woman working in Guatemala who is trying to establish a lending closet of First Communion dresses for a Catholic school in Guatemala. The whole idea seemed odd when the story first started but then it hit me pretty hard. Which one of us did not savor every second of the dress choosing process? Which one of us did not feel like a princess as we dressed that special morning? Which one of us did not feel holy through and through as we knelt in prayer after receiving the sacrament for the first time? 

Then I recalled some special Guatemalan girls in their First Communion finery and it brought a lump to my throat. 

These little girls had been adopted by American parents who had the resources to robe them in white on their special day!!! I can only imagine the number of girls in Guatemala who hold a tiny dream of getting to wear white on their special day.....

So for my friend who is trying to bring the dream of a white First Communion dress to the girls of Guatemala I am spreading the word! If you have or know of anyone who has a dress they would like to donate please contact me!! A dry cleaner owner has volunteered to clean and bag any dresses donated at no we just need to supply the dresses!! Used and new dresses especially in the smaller sizes would make a dream a reality.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Olympic Fever!!

As is the rest of the world, we are enjoying the Olympic coverage on T.V. Just as many other children around the world, my two girls are fantasizing about their own Olympic glory!! Very conveniently Julia's school had a scheduled outing at a local ice rink for this Sunday. Sad, I know, to say but my Midwestern lades have never been on ice skates! Did I ever mention how much I dislike winter???

So in anticipation of the big USA vs. Canada hockey match-up on Sunday we headed off to the rink to give it a go!

Did I say 'we'? Not a chance!! My skating days are looooong over so I requested tutoring assistance from the skating star, Andrew. This is the exact moment that Julia first put foot to ice!

He earned BIG TIME brownie points with me this day! He had the patience of Job with the struggling Julia!

Over and over he got her back on her feet! Such a sweetie as he assured her that she would be skating before the party was over.

One of the kiddie stands finally became available and it did the trick! My camera had gotten pretty wonky in the cold so I didn't get shots of Julia finally making her first fall free lap!!!! Let's just say Apollo Ohno's records are real safe. No winter Olympian in this house!!!

Oh, by the way...Mari used her rollerblading skills and did just fine. She still isn't Olympic fodder but she did stay safely on her feet  the whole time.

She's in one of those quirky tweener phases where pictures are 'uncool' and anything I say is wrong ...thus the disproportional appearances by Julia in the blog of late.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What a Welcome?!?!

Dear New Next Door Neighbors,

As we told you this morning, "Welcome to the neighborhood!"  That lovely house has been sitting empty for way too long and we are delighted with your arrival. We are even more thrilled to find you will be bringing the first new child onto the block in SEVEN years!!!!! There are far too few children on our block and even though your summer arrival will be a lot too late for my children to have as a playmate, they are still excited!!

Now about that first meeting with my daughter Julia this really do say the darnedest things!! Someday your little one will stand on my front porch and tell me something that you will try to snatch from the air as it sails from their mouth. It happens more than you could ever imagine so, I promise that if you withhold judgment on Julia's proclamations then I will do the same for your child, okay?!?!

You see, there is always a logical explanation if we only give the time needed for it to make itself known. Like today....when Julia told you that I was making you a "batch of Ugly Soup" as a gesture of welcome. We can't help ourselves sometimes! When an adorable little toddler, that you love to pieces, looks into a serving bowl at dinner one night and asks so innocently "Why is this soup so ugly Mommy?" just go ga-ga and the next thing you know.......

perfectly lovely 'Beer Braised Beef Stew' is known as 'Ugly Soup'!!!!(Wish I had taken pictures as I worked today because while I'm kind of tired of this recipe, others may have liked to try making this hearty winter comfort food. Just not that organized of a person, sorry!)

Had she just stopped there I'm sure you would have figured that it was just a funny name for perfectly edible food. It's the next bit that leaves me red faced and feeling the need to press the restart button on your introduction to Julia!! Because I can only imagine what you must be thinking about the follow up sentence to the Ugly Soup announcement. I'm absolutely sure you will, some day very soon, understand how much that precious child will change your life!!!!!!!!!! As a single, professional I was always 'tsk-tsking' over the ludicrous things my friends with children would stoop to and I was ever so certain that I would NEVER behave like them should I ever have children. Yeah, well there's this spell so strong as not to be resisted when a grin squishes already chubby cheeks into dimpled adorableness or big, beautiful eyes open wide and literally sparkle with joy!! You will have no idea how low you've stooped to serve those grins and sparkles until one day that living, breathing symbol of your unconditional love blurts out the line that I'm sure you heard as, "But she's not giving you any of the poo potatoes because there's not enough and you might not like them anyhow."  Please, please, please know that my children have NEVER(to my knowledge) placed any form of excrement in their mouths!!

It would be "Pooh Potatoes" in Winnie the Pooh! Besides, they aren't even potatoes...just humble rutabaga which, to a wondering toddler, looked like mashed potatoes in the color of her favorite stuffed animal. 

After you've finished painting the walls and hanging the drapes, come on over and we'll spend some quality time to have a proper introduction. We're really  nice...we promise!
Hope you enjoyed the Ugly Soup.........

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Recipe of the week

After 13 years of marriage I am finding myself in a rut when it comes to meal preparations! Now with a budding chef in the house we watch an awful lot of the Food Network but it somehow does not rub off on me. Lately, a few of my blogging buddies have started posting some recipes, complete with pictures! This seems to work better. Don't know why for sure but I guess that since another 'Mom' finds it achievable I'm not so daunted...besides, I have the pictures and narrative that I can keep going back to reference unlike the T.V. shows. (Yes, we are DVR-less and no TIVO either!)

I'm going to embark on this recipe posting path in the hopes that more blogging buddies will jump on the bandwagon and create a renewed interest in meal planning! Now my first recipe is not technically a meal. More like a snack or a dessert but something I've made recently that I think others may like...and which I remembered to take pictures of as I worked!!!!

The recipe is called "Scones ala Agnes". This recipe is not my original but a gift to me from my sister-in-law Agnes. You remember her, the lady that pushed Patrick and I together?!?!?


That would be the proud new grandma on the right in this picture! Well Agnes was born and raised in County Mayo in Ireland. Needless to say, she is well versed in the Irish repertoire and scones would be her forte!!! You know that one thing that people always ask you to bring? When it comes to Agnes it's always our request that she bring a batch of her scones!! Once we moved out of the city and started the whole child centric lifestyle, it became harder and harder to get our scone fix so Agnes came one afternoon and conducted a tutorial! Turned out to be  waaaaaay easier than even I could have imagined and now it's one of the things gaining in requests in my repertoire! Give them a'll see how quickly they become 'comfort food' at your home too!!!

The ingredients are as follows:
2     Eggs
1     Stick of Softened Butter/Margarine (I only ever use butter)
1     16oz tub of Sour Cream

3.5   Cups of Flour
1      Cup of Sugar
2      Teaspoons Baking Powder
1      Teaspoon Baking Soda
1      Generous Cup of Raisins/Currants/Dried Fruit of Choice

In a large bowl combine the first 3 (wet) ingredients and beat with hand mixer ONLY UNTIL blended.



In smaller bowl or large measuring cup combine the next 4 (dry) ingredients. No need to sift the flour but just take care not to pack it either!!

Then add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix by hand! (The electric mixer tends to over work the dough making for a tougher scone!!!) You just 

want a fairly coarse mix.

Then add the fruit of your choice. No need to rehydrate as the moisture in the dough will steam the fruit as it bakes resulting in perfectly plumped fruit!!!

Now most of the time I use raisins. This is only because they are usually on hand but we prefer currants as they are just as sweet but smaller resulting in more per scone...and I'm also veeeery heavy handed with the fruit measurement as well (:  You can use can use any dried fruit you like or as my girls prefer....chocolate chips!!

The finished dough will be just ever so slightly wetter than drop cookie dough. If it seems too wet then add a pinch more flour. Too dry then add a drop of milk!

Drop in generous spoonfuls onto aluminum foil lined cookie sheets. No need to 'shape' as the whole idea of the scone is a simple quick bread!! Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown on top. Cool on wire racks if you can keep the scone snatchers at bay long enough...the smell of them baking usually draws a crowd though.

Not only are they delicious fresh baked but if stored in a ziploc bag they can be brought out later and a quick 10-15 seconds in the microwave will bring them back to their fresh baked goodness. No surprise but in this house they are usually accompanied by a generous amount of butter and washed down with a strong mug of tea.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Celebrating Mardi Gras

Chicagoland and Carnival are not usually associated! There are no parades with elaborate floats nor bead'd freeze the unmentionables if you sat out on our curbsides at this time of the year!!!!!!!!!! There are no days off of school to recover from the late nights of partying...not really many parties even! We do try our best to bring on the holiday though.The Paczki (poonch-key) are bought from the local Polish bakery and waiting to be served for dessert. We have a favorite decadent dinner planned. The girls have been debating their Lenten sacrifices...Julia's seems possible as she plans to give up pop/soda but Mari has set a very high bar by declaring that she intends to stop 'back sassing' her parents! We even did up special shirts for school this year!! So here is Julia all beaded up and heading off to let the good times roll....well not so much....since it's just a normal school day. Hey, it's the thought that counts, isn't it?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A different Valentine's Day love story

Close family and friends know (and are frequently exasperated by the fact) that Patrick and I are not really big into giving each other gifts nor celebrating special days with big displays of romanticism. We are 'matter of fact' kind of people who see our daily life and love as gifts enough! Auntie Peggy has logged several anniversary moments when it was she that reminded us of the importance of the day. She is very humorous in her telling of how she spent a whole hour on the phone with me on my anniversary several years ago without me mentioning the fact. So she baked some cookies and invited the girls over for a play date where they decorated the cookies to say Happy Anniversary. Patrick and I had not even remembered when the girls arrived with big shouts of "Congratulations!!" I guess the best way I can describe it is...we consider EVERY day of our marriage to be an anniversary and we have so much that what could the other possibly buy that would be any more special?!?!? Valentine's Day would be no different...except that it is a special day for another reason. Today is a day filled with an extra hug or two and while it is to affirm the love in our family it is not because of the romantic holiday. Valentine's Day in our home is a day in which we remember love lost.....and the reason to embrace the love still held tight. February 14, 1982....the day that Patrick's mother, Bridget O'Mahony of County Kerry, Ireland died. Her loss is beyond measure for a son who admired her every trait and magnified by the thousands of miles that separated them on that day. So as you admire the boxes of chocolates, the golden bangles, and the flowery verse on the Hallmark card you received today, please remember those whose love you once held so literally in your hand that is now only held in your heart and memory. Even better, pick up that phone and call someone whom you love as there may not be another chance to tell them in person!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

No Bull

Three posts in one day...oh yeah! Things are grinding on all cylinders today and my production tallies for the day are near record breaking. Of course, by actually putting that in writing I'm probably jinxing tomorrow but it feels too good not to celebrate!!! Besides, I don't have to go to work tomorrow so I have a much lower bar to reach. So. where were we? Oh yeah, Julia had just opened her box of horses. After a couple hours of racing them all around my living room where I discovered my wing back chairs were actually 'mountains' and the carpet was 'the valley floor', I had to drag the girl off to the dreaded tub. You see we had big plans for the night!!! She had to 'dude' up to properly prepare for the festivities. Dressed the part and with binoculars in hand Julia was off to our SECOND annual professional bull riding championship!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now this was not the OFFICIAL PBR but none the less we saw 30 cowboys try to stay on those bucking beasts for 8 seconds. Julia was not alone. Three of the 1997 cousins (we had a big crop that year in our family!) were allowed to come too. Okay, so technically one of the 1997 crop is a sister but Julia wouldn't mind at all if she went to live with one of the other relatives (: But of course the BFF/Cousin was in attendance too!!! Deirdre is always the first person on Julia's guest list, no matter the occasion. While the tweeners sat up in their seats and chatted/texted the pre-show time away, these two got right into the spirit of the night. They wanted to check out the entertainment up close and personal! They got to see real bulls waiting in the pens 'backstage' and tried to guess which one would inflict the most pain later in the night! They got to see real cowboys getting ready for the night's action! It was surprising how close the arena security and the event organizers let them get to these guys!! Like this close!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! His name was "Caleb something or another" as Julia told me as we scanned through Auntie Peggy's pictures....oh, you surely don't think I have this kind of luck with a camera do you?!?!? Our resident photographer MUST come to all important events if we are to ever have any recorded memories of the event!!(Though the blurred border was my doing...didn't realize that once I selected it on Shutterfly that it stayed that way!!) Caleb was loudly cheered on by his new fans and he was in the lead until the finals...when on his last bull he was thrown in less than TWO seconds...bummer ): This time the Rodeo Clown wore a microphone and was quite humorous...even after a most unfortunate slip on that barrel in which one leg went in the center and one leg went outside resulting in a man's worst nightmare! Poor guy hobbled for the next 10-15 minutes after the slip. Adorable routine with a toddler dressed as 'mini-me' which he referred to as his son but since there was no program sold we can't verify the relationship. The child was really good as he pantomimed along with the routine!!! Intermission was followed with 15 barrel racers and we've decided that they need to change the penalty time for knocking over a barrel!!!! A 5 second penalty when everyone was within a second and a half range seemed very steep to us...but then again we are just pavement pounders and not cowboys! Saw more wild rides than we could have expected based on last year's experience. One of the clowns was taken off by medics due to a bull landing on his legs and several of the cowboys wisely wore the full helmet! Like this cowboy is wearing!!! I just have to wonder how much testosterone is in play with the ones that decide to wear their cowboy hats instead???? I mean I know it's like going to a hockey game where you expect to see some violence but who really wants to see some one's brains spilling out onto to the arena floor? Lucky for us it didn't get that bad this night! Yep, no testosterone with this group! Andrew was scheduled to come but a hockey tournament ran longer than planned so it was a 'girls night out' in the end. So until next year when the THIRD annual bull riding outing is convened, we just want to wish "Happy trails to you"! P.S.-Vanessa, the Monster Trucks will be at the same arena in March!! We're thinking on it....

Horsin' Around ....AGAIN!

I told you this was going to be a quick series of posts. I might even have the time to get another one in before the night's over!! As you are probably well aware, Julia is a tad smitten by all things equine. Well her horse sense really got a boost this weekend! You see, she had a great time playing with her toy horses....NEW toy horses that is!!! Mom had a chance at a win/win situation in which Julia could expand her herd while helping out a friend who is trying to raise funds for her adoption account! Julia had known that I had entered into the arrangement but I never told her HOW many horses would be joining the herd. Her eyes nearly popped when she saw the postman carrying up such a big box (: Leah and Maya included a sweet note which I made her read before I let her start rummaging in the box! Then she dove in and with each 'find' she kept saying, "This really makes me smile!". The smile was in the grin category once the box was emptied!!!!! Her herd tripled in size all at once! By the way, the wildcat did not come in the box. That was in her hand as the doorbell rang and just mixed right into the imaginary play as her new kicking pony seemed an ideal opponent. Now I have the whole herd as my front window 'decor'....going on almost a week now! She just wants to be able to "see my buddies as I get home from school" (:

Fish Tales

So here's the first in a quick series of posts to catch up with our past week...brace yourself!! Gardenia needs to pay up!! Nacho was NOT the first fish to die... see, it was Justin Bieber that 'sank' first!! Nacho waited another 12 hours before he too succumbed! So I guess we'll call it a tie and let all those who bet on Nacho off the hook (: Now I had promised to try and make this a serious attempt at pet ownership so we took ourselves off to a smaller, family run pet store to hopefully get some 'training' and some replacement fish. So I'd like to introduce you to Ditto (on the left) and Bruiser (Due to his markings !) They are much more vigorous from the get go and very fond of eating..unlike their predecessors. Here's hoping they last longer than the first duo!!!!! By the way, JB lasted 5 days and Nacho 6. Oh, and the new duo are 'officially' both Julia's this time... because Mari opted to go back to the Beta, since her last one had lasted two years!! This would be a very poor quality shot of Salsa. Should Ditto and Bruiser be as short lived as Nacho and JB, then be sure that Julia's next 'pet' will probably be Salsa's cousin!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

I am typing as fast as I can so I can have this posted before midnight!!! It has been just crazy around here and after posting the give-a-way I ended up at the Emergency Room to pick up Auntie Peggy who had succumbed to the GI bug in a baaad way during the night! After 4 liters of I.V. fluids and some anti-nausea medications they decided she was up to recovering in her own bed. Then in the midst of our latest snow event, I had to pick up Julia, Andrew, and Alyssa from school and bring them back to my house until homework was done! After pushing out a double order of scones and a meatloaf dinner I then had to waken Patrick who had been called back in to work the midnight shift due to the snow!! After dinner was cleared, homework completed, and Patrick safely packed off to work I had to drive Andrew and Alyssa home, swing by my Mom's to drop off her birthday wish (the scones) and then go back home to shovel...I work first thing in the morning...theoretically... Back to the point of the post! February 9, 1928 marks the entry into this world of George and Margaret Sullivan's firstborn daughter! Loretta Anne Sullivan was one of those eldest siblings upon which birth order studies are proven. Combining great intelligence with single minded determination which lead to the kind of legends found in the most revered of novels. This gritty little girl child at the age of 4 heard the parish priest announce the impending school registration date and immediately started badgering her parents to enroll her. Thinking they could end the assault, her parents told her that since she was not yet six she had to get permission from the pastor. The very next Sunday she jumped from her spot on the end of a pew to plant herself in front of the exiting pastor and make her pitch!! Thinking he was avoiding the issue he gave her a conditional yes....she had to bring her first semester report card to the rectory to prove she could keep up with the six year old classmates. Oooooh, you just don't dare this woman to do anything!! She is a classic 'game on' kind of competitor!!!Needless to say she was always two years younger than her classmates right through high school graduation. This would be a picture of her from just after the start of her school career. She claims that her competitive nature was as a result of being the 'different' child in the family. She was the 'bony blond' to her darker and chubbier younger brother and sister. Let's just say there are many of us who dispute her premise...sadly because the competitive gene has been clearly passed down...okay so my family can stop laughing now!!! World War II came to an end and Loretta left her secretarial job to marry and raise a family. Raising a family would be an understatement!!! I remember at one point in high school, during a smart alack phase, counting out how many months my Mom had spent pregnant. Counting the miscarriages and my brother born premature who died at 1 day old, I remember being incredulous that she had spent 10 YEARS of her life at some stage of pregnancy!?!? Then , as if seven of us were not enough, my Mom applied to be a foster parent with our state's DCFS AND Catholic Charities!! 63 more children spent a portion of their young lives under our roof....yeah, 63! Two of those foster children stayed for good by way of adoption. So no need to say anything to her when we decided to pursue that avenue to build our family!! She was there at the airport (it was allowed in those days!!) to welcome both of her Guatemalan granddaughters home and was the first one to embrace them in the family...besides Patrick and I that is. She was also all of the grandchildren's first and best baby sitter!! When Julia was one I had to return to work and my Mom stepped right up! Her strength declines with every passing day these days, but back then she could have a hefty Julia on her hip as she carried a full gallon of milk up the stairs from the car....she was 75!!!! She has always been sure to make every birthday and special occasion for all 13 or her grandchildren!! She has also never been one to let the grandchildren off the hook for remembering her special days...or her children for that matter! So even though the 'party' is tomorrow, we were sure to stop by today with a batch of scones that she had been 'hinting' about wanting for a week now! It gets harder and harder to see how much of a toll that Father Time is exacting on her physical being these days and the shock I feel every time my whip smart Mom 'forgets' one of my daughter's names goes right to the core of my soul. Ma, Mommy, Mom, Aunt Retta, Loretta, Grandma are all titles she has carried while on her mission to carve the bedrock of our family. As I stand here on the solid slab of family that she has made for us I feel a deep apprehension that her mantle must now be passed to my generation. She has set a veeeeery high bar and I cannot say with certainty that anyone of us is ready to step she has always done...with a gritty determination that all will work in the end! Much to our benefit, that overwhelming job can be made bearable by the MANY family members she has raised so very well! Happy 82nd Birthday Mom..and many, many more!!!!!!!