Surprise Trip to NJ

My mother turned 89 on January 18. A few months ago my brother Joe texted my sister, brother and me to say he thought we should surprise Mom for her birthday. My brother Bill lives in NJ but Joe is in WY and my sister Kathi and I are both in Texas.  To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about going for my Mom’s 89th, figuring we’d plan something major for her 90th next year. I felt a little conflicted about it because we have a lot going on this year but I also felt somewhat obligated to go. I mean, how bad is it if you say you don’t want to go see your mother for her birthday??  So Rich and I found some decent plane tickets and made plans to go. Meanwhile my sister couldn’t make it after all and my brother had to change his dates! Oh, good grief!

Joe and his wife Denise flew in on the 10th and spent a few nights in Philadelphia, then Bill and  his wife Patty told my mom they were taking her to dinner in Philly one night to celebrate her birthday early. She was totally surprised when she walked into the restaurant and Joe and Denise were there.  She loved it and was very happy to see them! They then moved over to her house for the duration of their visit.

Meanwhile, we flew in on the 15th and my sister in law Patty and niece Abby picked us up from the airport. Abby texted Mom and said they were “in the neighborhood” and wanted to stop by. Thankfully Mom was home and told them to come on. They walked in first and we waited a couple of minutes before walking through the back door, through the kitchen and into the living room where they were all sitting. Mom looked up and seemed very confused, like “what is happening here?!”  We said “surprise!” and she was flabbergasted that we were there as well. It was all pretty cute and we were glad we did it.

We had a great time visiting as always, lots of talking, laughing, and game playing as is the usual at my mom’s. We celebrated Mom’s birthday all week long; had a lunch out with several family members and friends one day, then a nice dinner with Bill and three of his kids (Patty and Abby both got sick and couldn’t make it), Joe and Denise and us. It was also our 15th anniversary so happy anniversary to us!

I had lunch with my cousin Patty another day and we stopped by to see her mom, my Aunt Jeannette.  Went grocery shopping and had to have a Philly pretzel while browsing the store. Had hoagies and cheese steaks, though my cheese steak was a major disappointment with loads of raw onions on top after I special ordered it with NO ONIONS. Our last night we went out for real Jersey pizza which tastes so much better than pizza anywhere else, don’t ask me why.

I went with Mom to her trainer’s where she works out several days a week. She’s been going to James’ gym since she was 82! I’ve heard lots about him but had never met him so I tagged along. I didn’t have any workout clothes with me so I told him I was just there to watch. He laughed and said “what do you think this is–a theater??!” His mom, Joyce, is a former ballerina and dance teacher and now helps him at his gym so he said “Mama Joyce, take her to the back and do some stretches!” So we went to the barre and she had me do some ballet positions and stretches. Reminded me of all those years my girls were in ballet! She said I was pretty good and I should look for a class. LOL James and Joyce were both so nice and are really great to my mom. I was glad to finally meet them.

We had snow one day and it was chilly the whole time we were there. In fact, Mom’s bday dinner was supposed to be at a nice restaurant about 45 minutes away but it started sleeting and we decided not to risk it. My cousin Patsy came by to visit at Mom’s and then offered to take us to the airport when we left, so that was super nice of her. Come to find out her daughter is in NYC so we might see her when we go up for our cruise in April.

Soon it was time to head back home! Another great visit and I’m really glad we got to go. The Philly airport has been remodeled or at least the terminal we were in. Fancy lights in the boarding area and iPads at every charging station. Wowie! We heard an announcement that the flight was overbooked and they were looking for volunteers to wait about two hours for the next flight. Rich went up to ask what we would get for volunteering and they told him a $500 voucher each! So he said we would do it and we were super pumped, planning how we were going to use those vouchers! Alas, as the boarding commenced they announced “Mr and Ms Bye, we don’t need your seats after all. You are free to board!” Dang it!  🙂



We celebrated my youngest, Susan’s, birthday on the 11th. Though she will always be my baby, she’s not such a baby any more but a wife and mom and hard worker as a CNA at a nursing home, taking care of vulnerable people who need someone like her who will treat them well and spread a little kindness into their lives.  We love her and appreciate all she does!

We also celebrated my mom in January, 88 and still going strong! She’s feisty and fun and full of life. We always have a blast when she is around!

Rich and I married on my mom’s birthday in 2005. It just happened to be our day off! Thanks to this guy for a calm, peaceful, interesting and fun life.  He’s the best!

Our greens have continued to flourish despite the winterish weather.  It doesn’t get all that cold in Dallas so they have managed to survive despite a couple of freezes.

Met up with these cool peeps for lunch before Kyle and Ingrid went back to France. I envy their life abroad!

Our shared celebration day

Rich and I had our 13th wedding anniversary on January 18, which was also my mom’s 87th birthday.  We just happened to get married on her birthday because it was my next day off in Jan. 2005 while we were living in Unalaska.  🙂 Kinda makes it easy to remember both and none of us minds sharing the day.  Chatted with Mom on the phone and Rich and I had a nice dinner out at a Mexican restaurant we hadn’t tried before.

Happy birthday to my Mom! We’ve shared too many adventures to count and she’s always up for another one. From her example, I learned the love of reading, music, travel and education, the importance of family, the fun of trying new things and striking up conversations with random strangers, the sense of fulfillment in getting involved wherever we may be, the necessity of laughing at ourselves and not taking life too seriously. She’s always been our champion and biggest supporter. Thanks, Mom, and here’s to many more!

And happy anniversary to Rich!  Since it’s been 13 years now, I am calling this our “lucky” year.  It was a huge leap of faith to move to remote Alaska to be with this guy but I couldn’t be happier about it. He’s smart and funny and talented and feeds me great food every day (witness the pounds I have gained), we share the same ideals and values, he’s a fabulous Grandpa to the kids and my best travel partner. Here’s to 13 more and 13 more after that.  I wouldn’t have anyone else!


January 11 was my youngest daughter Susan’s 34th birthday.  She says she can’t imagine being 34 and I say I can’t imagine my YOUNGEST being 34!  I can still picture her as a tiny little curly headed girl running around in her diaper.  I’m sure that’s not what she wants to hear!  She is working as a nurse assistant at a nursing home and finished her certification class recently so she is gearing up to take her exam.  She loves her patients and I know she is kind and caring toward them. And I know they are glad to have her there! She and Corey are raising some super kids and she’s a fun, funny, and determined young woman.

Today is my mom’s 86th birthday. She might not be happy with me for stating her age but I think she should be proud to have reached this milestone.  She’s pretty amazing, lives alone and is very active and busy with family and friends. She works out with a personal trainer a couple of days a week! Go, Mom!  She’s also fun and funny (guess it runs in the family) and always interested in people, places, and new things.  I think her curiosity about life keeps her young at heart.  I hope I have inherited her genes.

And today Rich and I also celebrate our anniversary. Twelve years of marriage to this guy have been the best.  We’ve had lots of adventures and I can’t wait to see what’s next.  He’s fun and funny (fits right in with the rest of the family), smart and talented, and, of course, who doesn’t want a chef for a husband?!  We didn’t start out till we were almost 50 so I hope we still have lots of years ahead of us.

Love, love, love to these special people in my life!