"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm no detective, but...

...the evidence is mounting.




There's going to be a baby in the house.



And it's going to be a "teeny teeny tiny whiny" baby (according to Max, who is, by this new comparison...a Giant)...


And, I know I'm no expert on all things girly....but....




That's more pink than this house has ever seen.

And, after much talking, reassuring, bribing, and careful word selection...
There has been some Carseat Rearranging.


Evan was not excited about his move to the Way Back. (Neither am I, to be honest. This just means that I'll have to climb over seats or through the back door to adjust his shirt/pants/coat/straps forty-two times every time we drive somewhere.) We talked about it for weeks leading up to the big move. Ultimately, Sam let him in on a little secret. "You know, Evan," he said, "Your seat in the way back is sort of like your own Star Command." This went over really well with Evan, aka: Buzz Lightyear. 

"You can see straight out the front windshield AND the map screen. You're the navigator, buddy."

Evan's face lit up and his eyes got wide. 

"You know what, Mom," he said as we got in the van this morning, "I was just kidding about not wanting to move to the back." 

"That's great, bud!" I said.

"... ... ... Um... But what if I wasn't really kidding?"

It may take some time. But he'll be fine. And Max, true to form, was thrilled to bits to move his seat over to the (according to him:) Big Brother Section.

That leaves one seat open and ready for a baby bucket.

Lesson Learned:
We're ALL ready when you are, baby girl. But don't rush. It'd be awesome if we could sell this house first.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

fun with selling a house!

25

That's the number of showings we've had since listing our house. 25 times that we've cleaned up and cleared out for an hour or more so that people could walk through our house and find things that are wrong with it.

I'm trying hard not to take it personally. I'd be picky about my house-to-be, too. That's why we're building. Again. For the third time. But some of this "feedback" is starting to really irritate me. These prospective buyers have already, one would think, seen our realtor's website of our house before coming through. So they should know that, for instance, we don't have granite countertops. (I know. Can you believe the squalor we must live in?!) If we did have granite, you can bet that on the kitchen page of the website, it would include something to the effect of: Beautiful GRANITE Countertops! But it doesn't say that. It doesn't say: "Like-New Corian Countertops!" It doesn't say ANYthing about the countertops, which, if you've ever seen HGTV for even five minutes should scream at you: THIS KITCHEN HAS LAMINATE COUNTERTOPS. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Somehow, we've managed to survive in this kitchen for over five years. But I understand that, for some people, No Granite is a "Deal-Breaker." Good thing countertops are so easy to upgrade. And look at it this way, now you don't have to live with MY selection....ask for a couple grand off the price and pick out your own damn granite.

It's not just the granite.

We've also been told that, get this: We don't have an all-brick front. I'm shocked. All this time I've been living in a house with SIDING?! For shame.

Also:
We don't have "Enough" hard wood flooring.

The sinks in our master bathroom are "too small." (???)

Our (2-car!) garage is too small.

Our hardwood floors have been improperly maintained. (For the record, they look fine to me. Not even scratched. And are you supposed to do more than vacuum them? Who knew?)

And my personal favorite: There are not enough window coverings in the house. What the hell?

And to the poor guy who said he liked the house but he didn't like the neighborhood: You just missed out BIG TIME, buddy. You haven't met my neighbors. I'd pack these people up and bring them with me if I could.

We have had two "serious" offers. Both wanted to steal the house. One wanted us to give them the house and everything in it. I'm pretty sure they would have added "And your firstborn" if their realtor hadn't been there to advise them on proper Contract Offer Etiquette.

A few more people have indicated that they love the house but need to move in before our end-of-June ideal move time. One family wanted to be in by mid-February. We told them that we have a few things going on around then.

Lesson Learned:
I'm ready for this to be over. I've tried hard not to whine about it (although there are a select few who would say that I may not be trying hard enough), but I'm ready to sign a contract and have this part of the process behind us. I'm ready to have nothing to look forward to but getting settled in the new house.

AND THE BABY. Of COURSE the BABY.

Monday, January 23, 2012

the final countdown

36 weeks

Four weeks (or so) until we meet our  Little Dragon Lady. (It's official now--Happy New Year!)

This pregnancy HAS FLOWN by. All of a sudden, I'm in the final stretch...the final month. The nesting is starting to kick in now...the downstairs Changing Station is up and ready for some midday diaper changes and, hopefully, naps. The carseat, bouncy chair, and swing covers are washed and ready. (And we've been prepping Evan for his imminent move to the Back Seat of the van.) I've been stocking up on shampoo, lotion, toilet paper, diapers, and chicken nuggets because, you know, I might never leave the house again once Molly is here.

Even though this pregnancy has lacked the photo documentation that Evan's had (and even Max's, to a lesser extent), I have been remembering, every once in awhile, to take those Baby Book Essentials: Belly Pictures.

Baby Molly: 36 weeks


I may not be taking pictures every four weeks, but, you lucky little girl, your big brothers NEVER had photos like these:

Big Brother Evan: 36 weeks


Big Brother Max: 36 weeks


Love.



Lesson Learned:
And, in line with having fewer pictures...a preemptive apology: Molly, if you don't show up in the home videos until you're three and a half, don't worry....you've been here all along--despite what your taunting big brothers may say.

Friday, January 20, 2012

the wild thing learns his letters

 Max is into the alphabet big time these days. I attribute his interest to the hour we spend on Phonemic Awareness every morning. Just kidding. It's probably Super Why. Or, maybe the Starfall app we have on the iPad. Or maybe it's the If Evan Can Do It, I Can, Too mentality of being a little brother. But it's definitely no thanks to me or any kind of formal instruction. Regardless of HOW he learned them, Max, at just over two years old, knows all of his letters and sounds. Trips to Target and Kroger take forever these days because he has to stop at every sign and point out each and every letter. He sounds out three-letter words with alarming accuracy. This isn't me bragging about him. This is me reassuring you that technology really CAN teach your child. So go heat up that now-cold cup of coffee, Mama, sit down on the couch with your kiddo, and turn on some PBS. The kids will be fine. Smarter, even.

The other night, as I was cooking dinner and Sam and Evan were upstairs playing highway robbery or something similar with Matchbox cars, Max played with his magnetic letters on the fridge.

He wasn't just placing the magnets willy nilly on the fridge, he was carefully considering where each should go. Each letter had a place to be, and he knew how to get them to match his vision. As he played, he talked quietly to himself...saying things like, "Oh, look! More with the dots!" and "Curvy with lines!" and "Lots and Lots of Ms for MAX! and MONKEY! and MOO-GOO-ga-LOO!" When he had finished his masterpiece, he stood back, called for my attention, and said, "TA-DA! All the letters together!"


For the first time, I really looked at what he had been working on...


He had, indeed, been sorting the letters. As I looked over his work, I noticed all the "letter with dots" together, the Ms were in a corner together, the Rs were patterned nicely, the letters with cross-lines, Fs and Ts, were partnered up, and there were random pairings of Ss, Vs, Os, Ns, and Ws.



As much as I was privy to through his self-talk throughout the sorting, though, I wish I had just stopped cooking and watched him. The teacher mommy in me would have loved to have watched his thought-processes play out in noticing similarities and differences and deciding which attributes to sort. The proud mommy in me would have been bursting as I watched my artistic little boy play with the shape and appearance of the letters, instead of just their names and sounds. 

But the Let's Get Dinner On The Table and The Kids To Bed mommy won. So instead, I had my back turned as I willed the pot to boil faster and scrambled to get apples sliced, yogurt served, milks poured, and broccoli, that I knew wouldn't be eaten anyway, prepared.

Lesson Learned:
Next time, let the pasta pot boil over. Don't miss these moments. And don't feel guilty about the TV, either.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Product Review: American Innovative Teach Me Time Alarm Clock

This is not a "sponsored post." (But if American Innovative wants to send me a freebie for Max's room, I'll take it!)

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows our family (or who has read this blog) that we have a little bit of a sleep problem in this house. Evan has long been a night-owl/early-riser/awake-all-nighter (sometimes all three in the same night). We've never come up with a real solution to the problem, we just find something that works for a few nights (sticker charts, placebo "sleeping" vitamins, Good Night's Sleep Incentives, etc.) and we celebrate our mini-success. Then, the problem shifts, we go back to the drawing board, and try something new. Basically, we cope. So basically, we've been existing in a state of sleep deprivation for nearly five years. Five. Years. FIVE! YEARS!!!!! 

Lately, our nighttime issue was frequent middle-of-the-night wakings, followed by middle-of-the-night insistence that it was ACTUALLY MORNING (because I would say idiotic things like, "Evan, it's three o'clock in the morning, you need to go to sleep), followed by a 5 am wake-up and a complete and utter disregard for the seriousness with which we would say, "We ARE NOT watching a show right now, you shouldn't even be out of your bed." And none of this, as you can imagine, was done/said pleasantly. There was whining, crying, yelling, demanding, and pleading because three exhausted, stubborn people do not act rationally or respectfully at one or three or five o'clock in the "morning" when they haven't had a good night's sleep IN FIVE YEARS. 

But then....
I saw this....

We've been using it for a week now, and, wouldn't you know it? This little thing just may very well save our sanity.

Here's how it works:
You set the Nightlight Timer for bedtime (the white orb glows yellow and, for most people, probably functions as a nightlight...but it's a "Not Bright Enough" nightlight in this house, so we still use the Original Just Bright Enough Nightlight). We set the time for 7:30 pm, by which time we're usually finishing with bath and winding down to books and bed. Then, you set the Ok To Wake Timer, at which time the glowing yellow orb turns into a glowing GREEN orb, signaling to the child that it's REAL morning, and it's okay to wake up. We set this time for 6:25 am, which gives Evan five minutes to turn off his nightlight and noise machine, tuck his bedtime buddy back into bed, use the potty and come to our room justintime for Wild Kratts to start on PBS. (At which time, Sam is up to shower and get ready for work, and I get to squeeze my eyelids shut, duck beneath the covers, and pretend I'm not being crawled on by a two-year old monkey who has, most likely, already made his way to our bed, too.)

Since we started using this clock, Evan still wakes up at night. But it's been only once or twice a night (MAJOR improvement) and....BEST of all....the midnight showdown between my definition of morning and his is GONE. Now, he knows that REAL morning doesn't come until the light turns green and, as argumentative as he can be, Evan is also a Rules Guy. If the nightlight doesn't say that it's morning, than it must not be. (I'm not sure my word doesn't hold as much sway as a clock, but whatever.) So when he wakes up to use the potty and needs to be tucked back in, or needs me to fix his covers (stripes on his comforter should be straight, sheets should not be bumpy, covers should not be too close to his chin, but not too far down, either, etc.), or needs me to tickle his back ("Because I just think that helps me relax enough to sleep."), I can happily oblige because he asks nicely and there isn't a 20-minute battle of wills to follow.


The first few mornings, he came into our room at exactly 6:27, suggesting that he had been lying awake in bed, staring at the clock, just waiting for it to change color. But twice this week (twice!!) he has slept in past 7 am. 

Other cool features of the clock:
It's both analog and digital (or one or the other, you decide) to aid in teaching time. ALSO, if you press the button on the right "foot" of the orb, it tells you the time verbally. Evan LOVES this feature, and I think it really is helping him to learn time...at least he's much stronger in reading his two-digit numbers (up to 59) than he was a week ago. It's simple to learn how to use and, when your little one no longer needs to learn how to stay asleep, it can function as a true alarm clock. 

But I seriously can't imagine a day when I'll have to rely on a device to Wake Evan Up. I mean, I can imagine it, just as I can imagine a day when I'll be surrounded by books on my Want-to-Read list and Vanilla Lattes and Words With Friends and be instructed to "Get to work!" But I don't think either will actually happen


This clock? It's like a miracle you can plug into your wall.

Lesson Learned:
And in less than six weeks, we get to START ALL OVER again with a newborn who is going to insist upon seeing every other hour on the clock. Breeeeeeeeeaathe.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

dragon lady

I'm not really into Western Astrology. Partly because it's astrology, but mostly because Every Single Time I read my horoscope, it's wrong. In fact, the one time it was Dead On, I cut it out of the paper and carried it around in my wallet for more than a year. True story. I'm a Scorpio. Only, I'm So Not a Scorpio. I think I should have been born a week later, which would have made me a Sagittarius. And, it would have made my birthday 11/23, which are those numbers that always seem to pop up for me (for instance, I look at the clock and see 11:23 more often than 11:22 or 11:24 by a factor of, like, a million).

ANYWAY....

So I've never put much stock in Astrology in general, until I became pregnant with Evan. It started with a co-worker who stopped me in the hallway at school: "You're going to be such a lucky Mommy!" she began, "He's going to be a Golden Pig! But not just ANY Golden Pig....a Golden FIRE Pig! ...According to the Chinese Zodiac! ....It only happens once every 600 years!!" Curious, I looked into it after work. As it turned out, she was right: The Year of the Pig, as is true for all signs of the Chinese Zodiac, cycles through every 12 years. But the sign of the Pig, combined with the elemental sign of Fire, and the yin/yang oppositional forces, happens only once every six CENTURIES. (And the 2007 Baby Boom in China proves it...)

Evan was going to be my Golden Piglet. He would live a charmed life of comfort and wealth, with luck always by his side. He would be exceedingly intelligent with an insatiable curiosity. He would be sensitive and wise beyond his years. He would be a diligent worker, compassionate, and honest. He would be a giver. He would thrive in the company of others and provide entertainment for those around him. He would be a Leader. There are negative traits associated with this sign, of course; laziness, over-indulgence in food/drink, and a reluctance to ask for help, but overall, this was a Very Auspicious Sign to be born under. And my First Baby was going to be One Lucky Golden Piggy. My interest in this Eastern Astrology was piqued.

And so I looked up my own Chinese Zodiac sign. As it turns out, I'm a Sheep (or Goat). I'm creative, dependable, intelligent, and calm. I'm a natural nurturer. I'm comfortable being alone, left to ponder the workings of my over-active mind. My favorite place to be is at home. I don't need fancy or elaborate furnishings, just some comfortable pieces with touches of beauty through art or natural elements. A suitable career choice for a Sheep? A teacher of early-childhood education.

Yeah. I'm a sheep.

And then there was Max. And wouldn't you know it... My Wild Thing? My Independent, Persistent, "I do it myself!" Bull in a China Shop? He's an Ox. Max is hard-working and determined. Confident and tolerant. He'll listen to the opinions of others but, ultimately, make his own decisions. He'll prefer the companionship of close, life-long friends to hordes of casual acquaintances. He'll find his path and stay on it until he's reached his goal. He won't take short-cuts, knowing that the only job worth doing is a job done well. He'll be steady. Even. Reliable. Strong.

But Molly? Oh, boy. Provided that this babe stays put until January 23 or later, she's my Dragon Lady. Passionate, brave, and self-assured, she'll easily find her place next to her two big brothers. She'll be smart and enterprising with a quick wit and a sharp tongue. She'll be a risk-taker, enthusiastic, and wickedly funny. She'll have a natural flair for fashion, style, and beauty. She'll be overly generous with her resources and she'll leap before she looks. She'll be fiery and brazen, but in good fortune. In 2012, the elemental sign is Water. This can calm the Dragon and soften some of her dramatic tendencies. She'll be more open to the opinions of others, allowing her natural charisma to shine through. And shine she will. Bright and bold and beautiful.


I can't wait to meet my little dragon lady. Less than six weeks!


Lesson Learned:
Famous Pigs: Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg. David Letterman, Elton John, Hemingway. Kevin Spacey. Snoop Dogg.
Famous Oxen: Barack Obama. Van Gogh and Picasso. Bach and Springsteen.
Famous Dragons: The only one that matters: John Lennon

Saturday, January 7, 2012

DO something

You're shocked and saddened by the news of the little girl who died this week after suffering an allergic reaction at her school. You want to DO something about it.

Here's what I did:
-----------------------

The Honorable **********
United States Senate
Washington, DC  20510

Dear Senator *******:

I am writing to ask you to co-sponsor S. 1884, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, introduced by Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.  As you are probably aware, a 7-year old Chesterfield, Virginia resident died this week after suffering an allergic reaction at her school. She did not have an Epi-Pen prescribed to her at school and so, according to county policy, no medication was administered to this child. Her reaction escalated until she was in cardiac arrest and, ultimately, lost her life.

I am the parent of a child with severe food allergies. Evan is four and a half years old and will be entering Kindergarten in the *********** County Public School system in the fall. He has had food allergies since infancy, although we are among the lucky ones; he has outgrown all of his allergies (there were 13 at initial diagnosis) except for Milk and Peanuts. I am confident in my child’s safety at school because he does have an Epi-Pen prescribed in his name and I will be vigilant to ensure that it is always up-to-date and accessible to him.

But the safety of other children is not so sure. Food allergies can develop over time. Children can experience their first allergic reaction to a previously “safe” food well into their school years. Similarly, a child who has a known “mild” allergy or sensitivity to a food can experience increasingly severe reactions over time and exposures to the food. There is just so much to learn about food allergies and the growing population of children who have them.

However, there is a lot we already do know. Children with food allergies are at risk for anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. To prevent death, anaphylaxis must be treated promptly with an injection of epinephrine. The Durbin-Kirk bill would encourage states to ensure that epinephrine is available in schools and that school personnel are trained to administer it in an emergency. Epinephrine is safe and easy to administer. Children are able to self-administer the medication, and any adult working in a school would be capable of learning how to administer epinephrine in a matter of minutes. If school staff and student population can practice what to do in the event of a fire through multiple school-wide fire drills over the course of a year, surely 20 minutes of a staff’s Back To School in-service can be devoted to Food Allergy Education and Epinephrine Administration Training.

Nearly 6 million American children have potentially life-threatening food allergies. Schools need to be prepared to treat allergic reactions in the event a student’s personal epinephrine auto-injector isn’t available or the student is having a reaction for the first time. 

The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act is not a controversial bill. It is endorsed by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of School Nurses. On average it will cost a school just over $100 to have epinephrine available to prevent a fatality from anaphylaxis. This is a small price to pay to save the life of a child.

I hope you will co-sponsor the Durbin-Kirk bill and work to assure passage of this important and life-saving legislation. Thank you for considering my views.

Sincerely,



Sarah ********

Lesson Learned:
It doesn't take long. And is Well Worth It. Take a few minutes and personalize your own letter to your Senator. Start here: http://www.foodallergy.org/page/school-access-to-emergency-epinephrine-act1

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

food allergy tragedy

A 7-year old girl died at her school this week as a result of an allergic reaction to, most likely, peanuts. Her family knew of her severe food allergies (which included peanuts and eggs, among others) and had an Allergy Action Plan in place at her school, which included the administration of medications in the event of an allergic reaction. She knew she was having an allergic reaction and went to the clinic complaining of a rash. At some point during the presentation of her symptoms, 911 was called. By the time she was being transported by ambulance to the hospital, she was in cardiac arrest. She was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.

There are holes in the story as it is being reported to the public. Was the Allergy Action Plan followed? Was an Epi-Pen administered? Did she have an Epi-Pen at school? How is it possible that she could ingest her allergen if she had known food allergies that were severe enough to warrant an Allergy Action Plan at school??

I need to know more about this, not only because I'm about to send my Epi-Pen carrying kiddo off to The Big School next year, but because THIS CHILD SHOULD NOT HAVE DIED.

Food allergies are common (5-10% of school age children have food allergies), food allergy deaths are not. And that's because there are prevention measures that can and must be taken to ensure that children with food allergies do not come into contact with their allergens (only eating food from home being the obvious one) and because there are ways to stop an allergic reaction once it has started (the administration of Benadryl at the first sign of a reaction and giving the Epi-Pen if the reaction progresses or at ANY point in which breathing/respiration is being compromised).

I need more information. Maybe an Epi-Pen was administered, 911 was called, and a second Epi was given (which is standard protocol if the first doesn't "work" within five to ten minutes of the injection). If this is the case, a tragedy occurred: A tiny body was unable to cope with a poison that, by some horrible accident, was ingested.

But what if?? What if an Epi-Pen wasn't given? Why wasn't it? Because someone didn't recognize the signs of an anaphylactic reaction? What if the signs were recognized but the little girl didn't have an Epi-Pen at the school (one report I read states that the mother tried to bring one to school at the beginning of he year but was told by a clinic aid to leave it at home)? What would you have done? You would have taken some other allergic kid's Epi-Pen and you would have administered it to the little girl in distress. You wouldn't have even thought twice about it because this is LIFE and DEATH. This is not the time to think of legal consequences of prescription violation or whatever.

But what if she were the only allergic kid in the school and there WERE NO EPI-PENS at the school? Well, there needs to be. If schools, restaurants, airports, shopping malls, and concert venues can have defibrillators at-the-ready in the event of a cardiac emergency, why aren't there Epi-Pens in every classroom, cafeteria, and school clinic to protect the lives of this growing population of severely food allergic children?

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network is currently working tirelessly to promote legislation to make this a reality, in part because 25% of reactions that happen in school occur in children without a prior history of allergies, but mostly because IT COULD SAVE LIVES.

In addition to putting Epi-Pens in every room, every school district in the country needs to take 20 minutes of their Back To School Week lecture series and devote it to the education of teachers and support staff about the recognition of allergic reactions and action plans to follow once a reaction is underway. Because this IS more important than literacy, math fluency, team-building, and classroom decorating.

Parents of food-allergic children: review the Allergy Action Plan you have written with your child's doctors. Then, go to school. Sit down with the teachers, cafeteria staff, clinic aides, support staff, office personnel, and administration. Go over your child's Action Plan with them and review What to Do, How to Do it, When it Do it, and What signs and symptoms to look for. Review your Food Rules with your child (eat only food from home, only food with ingredient labels on it, etc. depending on your comfort level and your child's ability to verbalize reaction symptoms). Double check expiration dates on any and all medications needed in your Allergy Action Plan and make sure you have a complete set of medications at home and at school.

And then, hug your sweet child a little tighter tomorrow like I did today. Because I Can't Even Imagine what Ammaria's mother is going through tonight.

Lesson Learned:
I need to know the whole story here, because not knowing the details specific to this case make me think that this sort of thing can Just Happen. And it can't. It shouldn't. Yet somehow, it did.

Monday, January 2, 2012

twenty twelve

I found it really hilarious to read so many Facebook status updates over the last few days that said something like, "Ready to kick some ass in 2012!!!" or "Bring it on, 2012!" In fact, I don't know if I have ever, in the history of my Facebook account, read so many similar statuses...all taunting the New Year to "bring it on" or conversely, alerting 2012 to the fact that people would be "bringing it" to the New Year. It was starting to read like the planning phases of a potluck.

I don't want to kick anyone's or anything's ass this year. And I'm not really sure what is being brought and/or delivered in 2012, but I think I'll stay out of that, too.

For this year, I just want simplicity. And that's easier to ask for than to receive in a year when, within the first seven months alone, we'll be welcoming a new baby, building a new house, selling an old house, packing and moving (just once, please), and traveling more than halfway across the country with three kiddos on two separate occasions.

But simplicity is what I want, and simplicity is what I'm going to work towards.

So, first up: Baby.
I wasn't, as my friend Chris recently pointed out, the World's Easiest Patient while in labor with Max. My body wasn't cooperating (partial placental abruption, baby's decelerating heart rate, contractions that were too intense and too close together to be productive, etc.) with what my mind wanted (a labor and delivery suitable for a Lamaze How-To video, like Evan's was). Luckily, I had a supportive husband and my mom (who had eight babies and eight unmedicated deliveries) in the room with me, wonderful nurses to keep me posted on what was happening with me and the baby, and a doctor who let me bully him into a Plan B when I refused to hear him out on his "We may need to consider a Cesarean Section" line of thought. And, in the end, everything worked out beautifully.

This time around, I'm going to, again, fight for my rights to an unmedicated/non-surgical delivery if all is going smoothly. But if things get scary, I'll keep a more open mind. What do I want this time around? A healthy baby. At any cost to my precious little birth plan.

And once she's here, Simplicity. I'm not setting up a nursery for her until we're in our new house. She'll have her co-sleeper in our room (ha! she'll be in our bed and we all know it) and her tiny little clothes in our closet. We'll haul the baby swing and bouncy chair out of the attic when she needs them. I'll pick up a few new binkies and toss her sleepers and onesies in the wash. Other than that, she already has everything she needs....blankets to be swaddled in, toys for her big brothers to wave in her face, and a ErgoBaby to be carried around in. I'm not feeling the need to wash/disinfect everything in the house this time around (although ask me again when the Nesting Phase sets in in the next few weeks...). And I'm not going to kid myself and sterilize the pump and bottles. She'll be just like her brothers and want/get nothing but Mama. And she'll be just fine.

As for the house we're building: Simplicity. We're designing it from the ground up (with help from floor plans found online and a builder who is as much artist as he is builder). We'll pick out the cabinets, countertops, lighting fixtures, appliances, tile flooring, hardwood flooring, carpeting, cabinet hardware, door knobs, mirrors, towel racks, smoke alarms, door stops, etc. as well as the location of all of these things plus the locations of walls, doors, windows, electrical outlets, light switches, etc. And that's just the interior. It should be pretty simple.

Or, if not simple, at least it's sort of like my DREAM COME TRUE. I've watched enough HGTV over the past decade to know what I like and what I don't like. And luckily, Sam and I are pretty close in our styles and tastes. So, in order to keep this process as simple as possible, we're going to make decisions quickly and not second-guess them once they're made. (And, I'm going to become a Houzz.com addict in the process.)

And then there are the flights....across the country....with two Big Boy veteran fliers and one brand new baby flier....and not just new to flying, but new to Life....and me, white-knuckled, barely breathing, and nearly sick to my stomach. BUT....we're flying to WEDDINGS! Weddings to welcome two wonderful in-laws into our growing family! Wonderful in-laws who are already, for all intents and purposes, In The Family, but with whom we can't wait to celebrate their excellent choices in their spouses! Who doesn't love weddings? I know Max will. He's been working on his Moves since before he was born. I can't WAIT to see him at the receptions. And as long as there are cupcakes, Evan will be in heaven.

As for the packing/moving that may or may not occur more than once, I'm just refusing to think about any of it until our house sells. Which, by the way, I'm also not thinking about.

So, Happy New Year! Go kick some ass or bring something somewhere....or something. I'm just looking forward to a Year to Remember....a year full of Big Time Changes for our family. A Year of Great Things.

Lesson Learned:
Channeling my wise and beautiful late Grandma: I will not sweat the small stuff. I will keep it simple. I will...Let It Be.