The holidays are upon us. I sorta want to drag my feet so we can enjoy it, but I find myself looking ahead to the next fun thing. Monday was MOPS and a craft meeting (not a fan of those). It still left me feeling wiped out. I'm proud of my monogrammed pashminas nursery gift! Stephanie had Jess and I over for a pm play date, which was much needed. I got to take Ellie to Daisy's on Monday night, which meant I got an hour by myself to do a bit of pointless Christmas shopping (why try a store when you can shop online?) Tuesday, Abigail and I went to meet baby Sofia. We crashed the play date, which means I got lunch, too. Wednesday I had no plans so I took it up a notch and the younger girls and I went to Pump it Up. I feel like I did fun stuff like that a lot more with the older two so I felt the need. Of course they loved it- I'm so proud of how brave Abigail is! The Nixons joined us so I had someone to talk to while the kids played. Thursday I had a birth center appointment, everything is good- getting closer! Abigail and I did a Target run. Phil had his bank party that night so the girls and I were on our own. My friend Chrissy called and came over last minute. It was nice to catch up with her! Friday we did our library routine again and loaded up on Christmas books. We popped popcorn, had hot chocolate and watched the Grinch who Stole Christmas. We took Ellie's Flat Gingy on a paddleboat ride to see the manatees (no luck). We thought the Bravos were coming this weekend so we cleared it and didn't book babysitters. They changed their plans so we kept it low key this weekend. My parents were sweet to cover for Friday night so I went with Phil to his Rotary party. Beautiful house in Pace Island! Saturday was one of those days when everyone was in a bad mood...so what do you do? Go to the Avenues mall on a Saturday in December...then hit up the food court a lunch time- just for even more chaos (because we clearly don't have enough!) We did some Christmas shopping then came home for much needed nap time. Phil went for a run and got in a better mood. We skipped the CEE Christmas party and met the Hollands for dinner. The kids were crazy, we got some dirty looks. So then what do you do after your kids run around like crazy? You take them for dessert at Krispy Kreme! This morning we did the Jesse tree presentation before mass so we had to be there nice and early. We had even more donuts after mass then went to visit my parents. Phil played a round of golf with some work friends. The girls and I took a nap and make gingerbread cookies. Then we had pizza at the Nixons and went to their school's Christmas movie night outside. It was really sweet. So, we've got the Christmas music going, lights up, Isabel the Elf, and shopping in full speed. I just love this!
I'm all about celebrating Birthdays. Everyone deserves a chance to celebrate themselves on their special day. So, you know I do the same for myself. I think I did a pretty good job, but I'm not going to lie, this was a really hard week. It began Saturday night. We went to TCC to watch FSU barely beat the gators. We quickly came home and got ready to go on the boat to see the boat parade downtown. It was cold. I was in the house making hot chocolate and getting the girls in their warmest PJs while Phil was getting the boat down and started. I'm carrying 2 mugs of hot chocolate, Abigail and a bag of blankets when I missed a step coming out of the porch and wiped out. Everyone(thing) was intact except for my ankle. I did something nasty to it. Of course we still went downtown and saw the parade and even stayed for the awesome fireworks. Sunday was the worst because we had our street's progressive dinner party and we were the first stop. Our house was a wreck, we had to get decorations up and prep for the party. You know I made it all happen, but it was rough. The party was really nice, though. We were able to welcome a new set of neighbors who moved in October. Monday was the MOPS Breakfast with Santa so I had to bring food for that. Ellie was out of school still so she was able to come with us. I lucked out that afternoon, Ellie went down the street to a neighbor's Birthday party so we still got a great nap time. And for Daisy's that night she went to Walmart to buy toys for a girl in Foster care. Isn't that sweet? I tried to do a little Christmas shopping but couldn't find anything (are they pushing us to just shop online?). I did buy myself a fire pit for my Birthday party and some Christmas lights. Tuesday I enjoyed a morning off (with just Abigail) by sitting at Katherine's for fantastic adult conversation. That night Phil and I went to the holiday open house at TCC. The food was amazing, I just wish more "cool people" were there. Sober sister during the holidays is tough already! Wednesday was the low point of the week. It started nice with a Leen play date (those are always so good) but then Ellie got in trouble at school...to the point where the teacher called me at home! So, I had to deal with that. And it was one of those nights when Phil had something else to do in the evening so I had to take Ellie to religion class meaning I have to take all them with me and get them ready for bed before we go. Her class is from 6:30-7:40, which is late for us. It was Wednesday when I realized I'm bringing another one into this world in a bit and this is not going to get any easier. And my ankle was hurting and puffy and Marly likes to throw temper tantrums and Abigail likes to be held. You know, one of those kinds of days. Also, I had a monogramming order to finish so going to bed early was not happening. The good news is that I got past it. Thursday I made no plans. I needed a morning off. Abigail and I went to Target (no picnic there) then I got a call that Marly was sick at school so I had to pick her up early. She turned out to be fine, just tired I guess. I was happy to have an "out" that night. My Godson, Owen made his first Reconciliation so I went to support him. Then, I went to the MOPS Leadership dinner at Kickbacks. Friday was my Birthday. Phil rallied and kept the girls from waking me up, went out and got Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and Ellie got everyone dressed! Lots of temper tantrums happened that morning but I still watched the Today Show and drank a large cup of coffee. The girls and I had lunch with Phil then came home for naptime. I worked hard to make that happen because Sherry, my doula came over to massage me during naptime. And BAM, my week instantly became better! Not only did she make me physically feel better but emotionally, too! The girls and I put the fire pit together and had s'mores for an afternoon snack. We went to TCC for dinner and rushed home to set up for my party. I had some ladies over for wine and s'mores. It was very low key, all I could handle at this point...perfect for my phase of life. Saturday we had breakfast with Santa! TCC did a great job! Amazing breakfast, face painting, making cookies and ornaments and writing letters to Santa. We pushed it by going to a Birthday party after that, which was lots of fun, too. The younger girls and I took a nice, long nap! We had wine club last night. Kerri was sweet to have a cake for my Birthday (which fell on the floor...you know I still ate some!) This morning we had mass and donuts with friends afterwards. Its one of those foggy/hazy/overcast/chilly December days. I think I'll go take a nap now. We have another party tonight, this time for Phil's Breakfast club. We're in the midst of party mode- fun times this Holiday Season! Personally, I'm happy to start another week!
A little late on the weekly post, so sorry! I had a book to finish, monogramming to complete and went to see a Sunday night movie with my mom, sister and aunt (Mocking Jay)...so this fell down on the priority list. I'll just power through. We had a few down days when I didn't plan anything. I used these days to work on the new boy's room. Suzanne came over and helped me organize all the clothes. Once I get a few things for the walls, I'll post a before and after picture. Ellie started Daisy Girl Scout's at St. Matthews. I think she likes it so far and I'm excited about this new adventure. We had a pm playdate with the Freemans. We had a really neat coffee club discussion on assisted suicide specifically Brittany Maynard. I'm sure we stayed too long for Christi. Gara hosted an awesome MOPS girls night with s'mores. I think I'll copy that idea for my Birthday! Ellie had a Thanksgiving lunch at her school. Phil, Abigail and I joined her in the cafeteria. The more seasoned moms brought in fun food...we all ate lunchtime turkey with a spork. It's always fun seeing her at school, though. The next day Marly dressed up as a pilgrim and had a Thanksgiving program at school. Mom came to see her and we went to lunch at TCC afterwards, which was nice. More partying over the weekend. We celebrated Gordon's Birthday with a bunch of new friends that we don't usually see. I ended up DDing, which got old. Phil took Ellie to Leo's party at the park while the younger girls and I napped (don't want to mess with that). We had a CEE Thanksgiving party. Marly helped me make mashed potatoes. Phil participated in the "Week of Dave", which I am totally o v e r. We were scrambling for a speaker for MOPS. I ended up posting an all call on FB and my neighbor saved me with a name. What a God moment (as Jan would say) when at first the speaker said no and then called me right back with a yes. So Larry Shealy gave an awesome self-defense presentation. William hung out with us while Julianna had a doctor's appointment. After girl scouts I rushed to make it to the end of book club to discuss Argo. Abigail and I had a fun play date with the Kasper's. I loved catching up with my old high school pal, Julia. Then, we met mom, Suzanne and Aunt Susan for lunch. The girls were off of school for the rest of the week. So, I had all 3 at the grocery store on Thanksgiving Eve (totally nuts, I know) and my appointment at the birth center. I was happy Phil came home early. We went to the Nixons for a play date and ended up staying for dinner and the girls were up late. On Thanksgiving morning, Abigail was down for a nap already by 8am! Phil and Ellie went to the new Krispy Kreme while Marly and I started cooking. We made a corn casserole and potatoes au gratin and then a pumpkin pie for Friendsgiving later. It was nice relaxing at my parent's house with the Kerkezi's. The kids ran around outside like crazy. The table was so packed we had to move off décor to fit everything. We went around the table discussing what we're thankful for. It was really nice. Later we fried a turkey and did Friendsgiving with friends who couldn't go home for T-day. More kids running wild and filling our bellies! We also did a Leftover Day with the Leens and Suters. I think it's safe to say we've celebrated Thanksgiving. We read most of the Thanksgiving books from the library. The boxes are checked. We have so much to be thankful for. I hope we're teaching our children to pay it forward.
This week we celebrated our military heroes. The girls were out of school for a bit. We had lots of free family time. We also had some sickness pass through. I think Ellie and I had a night of food poisoning, although I can't figure out what it was. Phil had a cold (meaning he thought he was dying and stayed in bed all day- of course that was his day off of work). Now we're passing back some sniffles, nothing much, not enough to hold us back from anything. But that means everyone is sleeping more (or should be sleeping more). Living in Jacksonville we're surrounded by military heroes. So, I usually take it for granted- missing my ID card to military discounts and the nice gym on base. It takes a day like Veterans day, reading all the Facebook postings, to remind myself that I really am thankful for all those who have served and all the rights and liberties I have. That's pretty amazing. MOPS was wonderful on Monday. Ellie liked going on her day off so it was a win-win. The speaker was Dr. Linda Miles talking to us about relationships with husbands, mothers and in-laws. She gave some really insightful points- so much so that I've had a few post-therapy sessions with friends this week! I had a down day and worked on getting "the new boy"'s room ready. I moved all Abigail's clothes out and now she's sleeping on the bottom bunk with Marly on the top. I had been stalling this move for so long, not prepared for the battle. It turns out, it was a super easy transition. 'Bout time something was super easy around here! Now I just need to masculinize the room and move his things in (from the dining room). Maybe one day this week? I'll do a before and after shot so you can see it. I had a day of appointments on Thursday starting with a birth center appointment. Everything is going well. I got a rH shot then headed to get an ultrasound. I'm so glad I arranged for Gara to watch Abigail for me. That was an awful experience. I had to wait an hour to get in and was almost late to pick up Marly. Luckily, everything seems to be fine. My low-lying placenta must have grown up with the baby. He kicks like crazy! It's pretty neat that if someone touches my stomach, he kicks them! Friday was a busy day! We started bright and early with Dunkin Donuts (I signed up to bring a dozen for a teacher book fair preview at Ellie's school so we all got a treat, too). Then, we had a playdate at the Fire Station. Then, we had a play date at the Harmon's. I hadn't seen Jamie since she became a stay at home mom so it was so nice to catch up with her. We went out with a fun new group Friday night. The Boozers and their pals: Deimlings, Trobaughs and Wilhelms. Dinner at the Brick then drinks at Mojo's. Just what we all needed- a night of belly laughs! I love that! Saturday was low key. This was the first weekend in a long time with no plans! It was chilly so we went to OP mall to ride the train and get a few new clothes for Ellie. She loved that! We all took a nice, long nap that afternoon as it got colder. We met the Applegates at Moon River and checked in with the Bentons and Dearings while there. Today we went to mass, missed seeing all our Catholic buddies, so we headed over for breakfast at TCC, which Jan was right, it IS an amazing deal! We caught up with our old neighbors, the O'Steens then did a family shopping trip to WD. After nap we took the boat out for a spin. It warmed up today so it was a nice afternoon. We enjoyed lots of family time tonight, all about the Bravos, no trouble!
In the past, a closing has been a joyous occasion- champagne, high fives, hugs and happiness. This week, was a milestone for the Bravo family. Phil and I learned a lesson of hard knocks. We closed on a property we purchased back when we were blissful, DINKs. For a time we were doing great, getting our hands dirty in real estate. After a while, the dirty hands got old (pulling a dead cat out from under the house on my lunch break) and even sad (a tenant stealing the copper out of our AC system causing lots of damage$$). We've finally decided to end the nightmare and got someone to buy the house- meaning we had to bring a big, fat piggy bank to the closing. So, while we were happy to get rid of it, we were sad to take a nasty hair cut. Lesson learned. Let's say good-bye to our little nightmare:
It was a week of ups and downs. Some moments I felt like Super Woman- baking squash M&M pancakes for breakfast <things I snuck squash into this week: pancakes, muffins, smoothies and chili>, researching and walking to vote, planning a cool nursery 2 play date at the park and taking the girls to a Frozen Princess party at Chick Fil A...then other moments I just couldn't get it together when I was anything but a super woman- lots of temper tantrums and fighting (the older two are already at it), a whole mile walk with a crying toddler, a crabby mood that I couldn't shake, dual meltdown while I'm trying to get blood work done (perks of being O-), toys everywhere, lunches un-made, rooms a wreck (and no I haven't even started on "the new boy" room (as Marly calls him). I'm glad that I have friends I can hang out with and let the sloppiness occur and just being around other moms makes it better. As Gara pointed out, at least we were able to have an adult conversation at lunch with the children were quietly tearing apart her living room pulling out dozens of puzzles and dumping all the pieces on the floor. So while the moms were putting them all back together, they moved on to destroy another room. And Stephanie always welcomes me with a big glass of good wine (that somehow tastes fine while pregnant -since most wine doesn't). I have a good village! I paid it forward by bringing the Mitchell's dinner and meeting baby Mollie and dropping off a nursery thank you for a new worker and bringing dinner and lunch to Kathleen who had to burry her dad this weekend. I got out of making dinner twice (CFA) and Zoie's for Ellie's school fundraiser. Friday evening Phil found me hiding out on the porch in the dark (time change) while the girls were having a major dance party while waiting for him to come home. We did a low key dinner at TCC then headed to bed early. Saturday I made breakfast and we headed to Alex's soccer game and dropped Abigail with my parents for the day. Then, we took the older girls to Tallahassee for the homecoming football game! Being back on campus was so nostalgic for Phil and I (and romantic). The girls and I toured my sorority house. I showed them my old rooms. Future legacies?! We were so lucky to meet up with the Thoresens and they got us into a fabulous tailgate party at the new Old School club. The girls were super excited to go to the game! This was Marly's first FSU game. Ellie hasn't been since she was a year old! They loved the cotton candy and watching Chief Osceola and Renegade! It was nice to pull out a win and do the chop with thousands of fellow fans. It was a long walk back to the car, and an even longer drive back to Jax (especially when you're the one driving and everyone else is sleeping). This morning was even more painful. We got up and went to 8:30 mass. Donuts motivate us all. I got to sneak out for a pedi party to celebrate Mercedes' pregnancy. Later, after a power hour, we walked up to get Chinese food for dinner. It was a good way to end the week.
It seems like last week was more Halloween-ish than this week. I had to actually go looking for it! It started with hosting book club on Monday night for the book the Haunting of Hill House. I don't think the book was all that great, but the conversation was: spooky stories, who believes in ghosts, exorcisms, oh my! Going to the dentist (really, that should be done after Halloween, right?), seeing all the jack-o-lanterns at the zoo for spooktacular and then on Halloween we has spooky pancakes at iHOP and then went to the library for a special Halloweeny story time. We also did some not so Halloweeny things: at MOPS we had a speaker discuss disciplining our children. We had a play date with Willow. I've been much better at planning playdates for Abigail. Last week I hosted all her buddies from the MOPS nursery. We're going to do a weekly thing, it took off well. I had an appointment to check on baby Bravo. He's doing well. Marly and Abby got to hear his heart beat with me. I'm 26 weeks this week and feeling fine. I discussed nap time last week. I'm doing my HypnoBabies again this time and practicing at nap time. Potty training Abigail is going well. Five out of 7 days this week she's pooped on the potty (is that TMI?) It's a big deal here because it's been very little work on my part, she tells me and I take her diaper off. Nice! Ellie had her last soccer practice and last game this weekend. It was freezing cold out there watching her, but this has been a good experience. I'll think we'll do it again! We started out trick-or-treating at 5pm. The Leens came with us down our street. It was nice to have some pals. After our street we went to the Nixons for the twins Birthday party/ more trick-or-treating in their hood. So much fun! The girls had a ball! Saturday afternoon we had some friends over for chili and to watch the GA/FL game. Today we went to mass then Phil took the older girls to play tennis while Abigail and I took a nap. Later, the Suter's came over for a power hour after looking at a house in our hood for sale. Some young, fun family better buy it! Daylight savings time is here and so far no one has noticed. We'll see! Now the cool weather is here, November is too!
One time I was in Babies R Us trying out double strollers when I was pregnant with Marly. I was telling whomever I was with how important it was to me to have the ability for both children to recline so they could sleep at the same time. This mean, eavesdropping lady overheard me and jumped into the conversation- cackeling at me- saying "your children will never nap at the same time." At that moment, I vowed to make tandem nap time happen. And I did. And still do with the next pair of nappers, and plan to continue with the future set. Fast forward to present times- being pregnant means nap time is ultra important for me. Nights might not always be a success so I rely on that catch up time. Don't walk away from this thinking I have a perfect record. I don't. Naptime does sometimes fail. But I am always going to aim for the moon on this one. This means the day must revolve around the naptime window. The window shuts fairly early because Ellie needs to be picked up from school. And then the afternoon craziness begins right after that (que multiple crabby, whiny children) with park play dates, home work, dinner prep, soccer and religion class. Man, I need a nap just to get through that part! The window for nap is also sometimes tough to open: morning play dates, picking Marly up from school, the fine tuned procedure to get Marly to nap, and the extra long pre-nap book she chooses. And then I'm sure you can guess that the actual overlapping of nap can be a challenge. If one of the forementioned goes awry, the whole process goes out that window. So this week we had some interesting nap time obstacles. First, those beloved Blue Angels. Yes, a symbol of America- right here to entertain us in J-Vegas. Most residents are thrilled to look up and see the aironatics right over their homes. This lady is holding onto her rattling China cabinet praying for the roaring to stop. Next, is late night fun. You know I'm a sucker for that one! Who's going to turn down a movie with their mom and sister? Too bad a start time of 10pm on a Wednesday is the only time we could agree on! And then sometimes I just had too much coffee or Halloween candy and I'm not tired enough to nap- don't you hate that?! I know, what a complaint! Good thing we had lots of fun things happening this week to keep us wired and pumped full of sugar. I guess we'll just sleep when we're dead.
Halloween is happening! Anna arrived in the mail just in time. We've been playing Frozen all week. We've also been feeding the neighbor's cats, reading lots of books, enjoying the cooler weather and having some fun. Monday was a MOPS meeting with the behavior specialist who did that potty training seminar I went to a few months ago. Tuesday Abigail had a play date with her buddy, Sam. Wednesday we went to the beach. Timuquana has this new reciprocal membership with Sawgrass so I thought I'd check it out. The younger girls and I headed out right after dropping Ellie off and WOW! This is going to rock my world. A great place to go right on the beach. Amazing! We even went back today with Phil and Ellie. So nice! We got into the Halloween spirit- paining pumpkin nails and heading to the pumpkin patch on Saturday morning. Last minute we got to go to Halloween Doors & More that night (thanks to Regan!). That was a crazy day because Ellie's game was smack in the middle of the day then we raced home for naps before getting Frozen for the party. Phil and I used to volunteer at Halloween Doors & More back in the day, but this was our first time going as parents. It was super cool, just how I remembered. The girls had a ball. Getting them bathed and in bed after was a nightmare (meltdowns when I took their make up off). Still worth it, though. Chrissy and Tripp came over for a night cap while Phil watched FSU beat Notre Dame. We did an Engaged Encounter gathering on Friday night. It was nice to catch up, we hadn't been in a few months. We discussed the NFP chat from the last weekend we did. Today we slept in a bit then had breakfast and went to mass. After the beach we went to the Sleeth's pumpkin carving party. I did a Spiderman pumpkin. It just looked cool and do-able. We didn't win, yet again. But, it was still pretty good. We finally got the girls down for bed after a wild evening. Now we're eating Halloween candy. Dangerous!
In the effort to enrich our marriage, brighten our children and save some cash, we decided to get rid of cable. This is something we've discussed doing for some time, just didn't have the guts. Our bill went up recently (whatever promotion we were on ended) so we bit the bullet and went brave. It's been a tough week, not gonna lie. One rough afternoon when I needed some Ellen, I discovered that when you cut cable that means you have no channels at all. Today we bought some "rabbit ears" and now we have 30 channels, but clearly we have more like 20. After a week of this, it's not too bad. Most shows we love are still available for free online and thanks to Katie we have HBO-Go, which is endless entertainment as it is. The only thing we're really missing is the Walking Dead, which of course premieres tonight. Meaning the Bravos must get creative. Thank you Thoresens for saving us tonight! Another fun thing this week is that we're participating in a Local Fare fundraiser for MOPS. This is forcing me to add lots of vegggies to our diet and try new recipes. We're feeding our neighbor's cats for a few weeks, which the girls are loving. Why get a pet when you can just go next door and play for a bit, teach responsibility then head out? More fun things; we had a MOPS leadership meeting on Monday, which saved me because you know I was exhausted after driving back from Miami. We did a fun lunch playdate at McDonalds afterwards. Tuesday I had an appointment to listen to baby boy Bravo. He's growing great and has a nice heart beat in the 140-150s. My due date window has grown from perhaps Jan20-Feb2. I'm hoping it's the latter so Abigail can have a Birthday party. Abby-cadaby had a playdate before the appointment with her buddy, Willow then after the appointment we had ice cream for lunch. That afternoon we had a quick play date with the Cower boys before dinner. Wednesday was a big day. We went to the Sykes & Cooper Corn Maze for a MOPS play date. It was so HOT! Other than that, the girls had a great time. Carpooling made it even more fun. Thursday I stayed in with Abigail to work on potty training. No M&Ms were given. It's a slow process. The thought of potty training 2 more children just overwhelms me. Abigail seems to want to go- she tries to take off her diaper and tells me when its dirty, but I can get her to go on the potty once to see how to do it. I just need some one on one time with her. Ha. That night my dad came over for a Birthday dinner (a week late, I know). The girls went nuts and loved having him there. I think he enjoyed it, too. My mom's been out of town on a European Viking cruise with her sister, so I think he enjoyed a distraction. Friday was nice and low key- a morning walk/bike ride then story time. We put the girls to bed early and got burgers and watched Up in the Air. Saturday began with pancakes and a dance party then Ellie's soccer game. Phil took the girls to Leo's 2nd Birthday with a train while I went to Metro Diner to celebrate baby Mitchell #3 with Katherine and some sweet friends. After nap we went to Elisa's 2nd super sweet rainbow party. Abigail went nuts (well, we all did) at the candy table. The sugar high is still going thanks to the party favors! This morning was mass, quick visit with my parents then Dunkin donuts (clearly we needed more sugar!) Target (for those rabbit ears) then some pizza for lunch. This afternoon we went to Losco park for the FFC family fun day. Good thing we could run out some of that sugar high! Phil made tacos for dinner. Now we're just waiting for the WD kick off!
This week I went all the way to Kentucky for some soul candy. Have you read Chicken Soup for the soul? That's what I'm thinking...lots of that, inside and out. What I mean is, a conference for moms. Picture 3,000 mainly kids-less moms, it was pretty sweet. Sleeping in, a comfy bed all to myself, sessions on managing anger, sex, mothering daughters, family values, friendships and faith all going with the "Be You Bravely" theme. I even was able to have a few fun nights out, one meeting up with an ole pal, Deborah who recently moved to Louisville. The week began like many others- an oil change, last minute play dates (one with Abigail at Willow's house and another with 6 crabby kids walking through the hood), a canceled midwife appointment and book club with a fantastic adoption discussion on Orphan Train. Wednesday after Ellie's religion class, the girls and I drove down to Miami. I got in at 1am then turned around and left their house for the airport around 6:30am- a crazy start for my vacation- but hey, that's what you gotta do sometimes. It turned out to be a win-win. I got a much needed break, the girls had a fun weekend with their grandparents and Phil had a weekend to miss us ;-) I met up with some Jacksonville friends in Atlanta then we all flew into Louisville together. I think the break out sessions were much better than last year but the main sessions weren't as powerful. The one workshop on anger was totally worth the trip out there. I'll try to do a re-cap with my notes for MOPS and post it again here. It was good stuff. I flew back early Sunday morning, made it to Miami that afternoon then drove back to Jax late last night. In all my travel time I was able to catch up with my siblings and a few friends on the phone, which is always nice. Now I'm renewed and re-energized- a happy mama!