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

Sunday, December 8, 2013

'tis the season...to talk about Jesus

As a Christmas-celebrating non-Christian family, we've already had a few moments as parents during which we have been challenged, by our children, to explain our "faith"...despite our lack of religion. Evan went to a church-based 3-year old preschool, and Jesus and God were woven into nearly every lesson. Naturally, he came home with questions. We were okay with that because we want our children to be exposed to a number of different world views, cultures, and belief systems. We want them to have the Knowledge Of Many Opinions to feel free to explore their own beliefs....even if that means that they may stray from our own.

It started when Evan asked about God.

Since then, we've had conversations about what happens when someone dies and more conversations about "God." A few weeks ago, Evan came home from school with some new information to share: "You know what? God is all around you all the time. That's what E says anyway. I don't know for sure."

Most recently, our conversation began in a church. We were there to celebrate my niece as she participated as an angel in her preschool's Christmas program. Sitting in the pew, Max noticed the many thick, picture-less books in the book racks on the pew in front of us. "Why are there so many books?" he asked.

"Those are Bibles," I answered.

[Giggle!] "Bible!" [Giggle!] "That's a funny word!" he laughed.

The family in front of us couldn't help but overhear. The father shot me an unequivocal "Not from around here, eh?" look.

As the Christmas program went on, my dad pointed out the players to Max...Mary, Joseph, innkeepers, donkeys, etc. Max was enthralled.

We came home and Max noticed our two Nativities that are out with our Christmas decorations. As they always are at this time of year...because we may not be Christian, but Jesus is, after all, the reason for the season. "Hey, Mommy? Is this the Baby Jesus?" he asked.

"It is, buddy. Just like you saw in Lauren's Christmas program." (And, uh, like we talked about a week ago when we got the Nativities out...)

"Mommy? Can you tell me the story of Baby Jesus?"

And this is where I hesitated for a fraction of a second. Would the story I learned in my catechism classes still make sense if I took the Son of God piece out? Is that a misuse of editorial privilege? Am I denying him the Knowledge that we have always said we wanted him to have....the information he will ultimately use to find his own spiritual path?

Am I over-thinking it?

Of course. I always do.

And so I just told him a story.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, the world was not a nice place. People were mean and greedy and unkind. Some Wise Men, who were Great Thinkers, knew that a new King was going to be born...a King that would teach people how to be nice and thoughtful and kind...a King that would teach people how to have Love in their hearts and to take care of each other.

Well, Mary, who was about to have a baby, was traveling with her husband, Joseph. When they got to the next town, there were no rooms for Mary and Joseph to stay in. All of the hotels were full. So, Mary and Joseph had to stay in the stable with all of the farm animals. When the baby, Jesus, was born, Mary had to lay him down in the hay because there wasn't a crib for him.

As soon as Baby Jesus was born, something magical happened....a brand new star lit up in the sky. It was brighter and more special than any other star in the sky. The Wise Men saw it and knew that the new King had been born...and they followed it to find him. And they brought him presents!

When Baby Jesus grew up, he became a great teacher and leader. He showed the people around him that it was better to live with love and kindness in your heart then to be mean and greedy.

Today, we celebrate Christmas to remember that Baby Jesus was born....All year, YOU have been nice and thoughtful and kind. You have shown love to your family and friends...like when you let Molly use your princesses and your ponies, even when you had them first...And you have helped take care of others...like when we bought food for the Food Bank and when we bought clothes and toys for the kids who don't have new clothes and toys....and so Mommy and Daddy and Santa show you how proud we are of you by giving you presents....


The End.

And he smiled. And he ran downstairs to tell Daddy the Story.

***
And so it was. The Christmas Story....for non-Christians. I believe in Jesus....as a historical figure. An important leader. I believe in his message. I don't think I need to believe that he was the son of God in order to achieve eternal salvation. But his story is right for this time of year....the time of thinking of others. The time of Giving. The time of Family. The time of Love.  And, because I'm a Mommy and I can't help myself...the Time of Presents.

Lesson Learned:
The real reason for the season? Call it what you like....in my opinion, it's Love. Plain and Simple.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Molly talks!

We come in from running errands and stop in the mudroom. "Let's take off your coat, Molly girl!" I say.

"Co?" she repeats.

"Yup, your coat. Let's hang it up. And your shoes! Let's put them away, too."

"Shooos? [pointing] Baa?"

"That's right! Your shoes go in the basket!"

"Shooos! Inna baa! Co! Co! Shoooos! YAAAAAAYYYYYY!" And she claps and she dances and she celebrates because....

She Talks.

And she is proud.

Evan was a "late" talker. He exclusively used sign language to communicate until he was well over two years old. Well, sign language and First Born-ese, which is a form of communication involving blinking and pointing that stay-at-home parents of First Born Children can understand because we spend all day tending to the wants and needs of our one and only child. Evan was not a babbler, but when he did speak his first true word, "backhoe," it was quickly followed by a complete sentence.

Max, on the other hand, never really used the signs he learned. From the beginning, he was a talker. He had always been a noise-maker, verbalizing and babbling and making animal sounds and humming and singing, and otherwise making his voice be heard.  But he was just over a year old when he said his first unsolicited word...."fish," while looking at the fish tank at the library. And he hasn't stopped talking since....

Molly, true to form, is shaping up to fall somewhere right between her two big brothers. She has been playing with sounds and words for awhile now, and the girl definitely knows how to make her voice be heard. But over the past two weeks or so, she has been Talking for Real.

She'll imitate just about anything you say to her and knows almost all animal sounds, in fact, she even knows what the fox says. Her current Spontaneous Word repertoire includes words or word approximations for: mommy, daddy, Evan, Max, Molly, Mom Mom, Pop, Uncle Mike, shoes, coat, hat, gloves, kitty, baby (she'll point to a baby and say, in a gravelly voice, "maa-maa"), dog, juice, LaLa (for Lalaloopsies), book, bear, yes, no, stop, go, socks, pocket, tickle, sky, star, twinkle, car, truck, big, bow, bus, and....well, bum and toot. She does have two potty-talk-obsessed big brothers, you know.

Between her new words, her new lip-smacking kisses, the way she plays pretend, the way she hugs so tight, the way she holds my hand when we walk, the way she plays with her big brothers, and the way she crosses her arms, sticks out her bottom lip, and pouts when she doesn't get her way, she reminds me every day how much I love this stage...

Lesson Learned:
There's beauty and wonder in every age, but one and a half to three has to be one of my favorites....

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I'll still kiss you goodnight...

...even though you're six (and a half).

Even though you're saying such big kid things, like, "Me and some of the guys were..." and "I just had this totally random thought..."

Even though I can feel you slipping into Independent Adolescence as you enjoy your "alone time" after school. I've missed you all day, but you need your solitude (I get it. I really get it.) so I leave you be.

Even though you school me on such matters as Aquatic Mammals and Vehicles of the Tundra and Star Wars Characters.

Even though you get bored ten minutes into Christmas Tree Decorating and want to go and play with your Legos and I need to lecture you on "Christmas Spirit" and "Family Time," like you're 15...



I'll still kiss you goodnight. As long as you let me.

Because you still curl up on my lap for a quick snuggle when you're holiday-ed out.

Because you still wear zip-up jammies...and you call them "jammies."

Because you still prefer that I read to you, although you could read any text I hand to you.

Because you still want me to help you shampoo your hair and help you straighten the seams on your socks.

Because you're still my baby, even if you roll your eyes when I tell you that.

Because you're ONLY six (and a half).

Lesson Learned:
Stay little, will you? Please?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

thanksgiving

This year, I'm thankful for Science.

I'm thankful for doctors who know how to prevent my baby's lungs from getting all wheezy and scary sounding.

Thank you, QVar, for keeping his lungs open and Albuterol, for being there when we need you to quiet an almost-wheezy cough before it gets bad.

Thank you, humidifiers, for keeping my kids' noses clear and their skin from scaling.

And I'm thankful for medicine that helps my babies feel better (and sleep!) when preventative measures just can't keep every ear infection or bout of strep throat away.

I'm thankful for technology...

...for the ability to connect through phone chats and texts with my Circle of Moms who are spread out all over this coast.

And for social media, which has introduced me to a whole new network of moms who are experiencing some of the same challenges and rewards of parenthood as I am.

Thank you Skype, for letting me tour my brother and sister-in-law's new house, even though they live across the country...and FaceTime, for letting my Dad call to see the kids whenever he wants to, now that he has his fancy new phone.

I'm thankful for On Demand and Netflix streaming, which practically guarantee a Movie Night (or Afternoon or Morning) whenever we could really use one. (I say "practically guarantee" because you will notice that I am not thankful for my "never-fail" internet/cable service provider. Because that does not exist.)

Thank you, PBS kids, for providing educational television programming that my kids actually want to watch. In particular, thank you Wild Kratts for giving me enough Animal Fact knowledge to keep up with my 6-year old Animal Expert.

I am thankful for my cellphone camera because, thanks to it, I actually have *more* photos of my third baby than my first.

And I am thankful for Instagram because, thanks to it, my beautiful babies now look artsy.

Thank you to the brilliant inventor of the White Noise Machine, which signals sleep time for my three sleep-fighters. And I'm particularly thankful for the sleep-deprived genius who dreamed up the alarm clock that changes from a soft yellow nightlight glow to a green "It's Okay to Get Out of Bed and Wake Up Daddy" signal at 6am. (And I'm thankful for the fact that the boys know to wake up Sam first.)

***

In addition, I'm thankful for pepperoni because there's 14 grams of fat per serving and Evan will actually eat it...and for ketchup because, now that she's discovered the art of Dipping, Molly will eat just about anything.

Lesson Learned:
It doesn't matter what it's for....just be thankful. Every day.

Friday, November 15, 2013

sweet, sweet acceptance

I've said it before, and I'll say it again....I love Max's preschool. I love his teacher, I love the curriculum, I love the philosophy...and today more than ever...I LOVE his, as he calls them, "schoolmates."

Max's teacher relayed to me the following exchange that she overheard between Max and one of his friends, L, a sweet girl, who appreciates a good romp through the dress-up bin as much as he does.

***

L is dressing up as a police officer as Max is putting on his daily accoutrements...fairy wings, pink sparkly tutu, fairy flower-crown, magic wand, etc.

L: Max, you like to dress up in girl clothes.
Max: Uh-huh, I do.
L: You're a boy.
Max: Yup.
L: You're a boy who likes to wear girl clothes.
Max: Yeah, I am.
L: Max, you're a special boy.
Max: Yeah, I am. I'm a special boy.

***

I want to bottle up this sweetness and light and love and keep it at the ready, just in case my Special Boy needs a little extra someday....

...but maybe....he won't.

Lesson Learned:
These times? Maybe they are a-changin'.

Friday, October 25, 2013

things are getting creeeeeeeeepy

Well, kind of creepy. Mostly just "festive."

But, there has been an alarming increase in the number of disturbingly large and realistic plastic spiders in our house lately, so I'll stand by Creepy.

Now that November is right around the corner, we're no longer dressing up as princesses for Max's Princess Party, we're in formal attire, police officer uniforms, tiger suits, and Witch's Hats for the upcoming celebration of All Hallow's Eve.


My two littlest witches and I started our day today at Max's preschool to do one of our favorite Halloween (or anytime) light table activities: Witch's Brew. I started my brief return to the front of the class by reading a new book to the kiddos that has easily become one of our family's most-read Halloween books, Room on the Broom. Because it's about a witch, and I was dressed in my witch costume, I pretended the main character and I were friends. I was in character. It made sense to me. One little girl in the class, though, was not buying it. "You're not really friends," she started, "I mean you don't even have the same color witch hat." Touche, little one.

During Choice Time, the kids each had a turn to come over to Clare's wonderful new light panel to mix up their own witchy potion concoctions.






 They did a wonderful job. And, while the big kids were busy coloring and mixing, little Molly just made herself right at home in the classroom. She took care of a sick cow at the Veterinary Clinic, she cooked in the kitchen with a buddy, she mucked in the gak in the art studio, she built a fairy block tower with Max's BFF, and she Did. Not. Want. to leave. The poor thing is going to be devastated when she learns that I'm not going to give her up to preschool next year.

After our Witchy Morning, it was off to an afternoon of Pumpkin Carving with my first grader. But first, we had to prep our pumpkin for carving. Thursday afternoon, the kids gathered around expectantly as I cut the top off of our pumpkin. I peeled it off for the big reveal.....and they all gagged. They couldn't get over the smell. After the initial reaction, I had little hope of having any help scooping out the guts, and I was right. They wouldn't reach in. So. I scooped the guts. Then, I tried to gather some help separating the seeds from the goop. Yeah, right. So. I separated the seeds.  I did get the boys to agree to making their "How Many Seeds Are In The Pumpkin" guesses...(Max: 100, Evan: 101---he's going to kick ass at Price Is Right someday). And I did force them to help me count the seeds....
(Final result: 511!) Here's a great way to count large quantities with kids: lay out a huge roll of paper and draw a bunch of large-ish circles. Count 10 seeds (or whatever you're counting) into each circle, then, when finished, just count by 10s.


And if your sensory kid puts up a fight because the seeds are too slimy, give him a spoon and put him to work.


So. I cut the pumpkin. I scooped out the guts. I separated the seeds. I washed the seeds. And I seasoned and roasted the seeds. And, like the Little Red Hen before me, I did it alone. But when it was time to eat the seeds? Yup. They all loved them. (Unlike the Little Red Hen though, I shared, because, OHMYGOD! Is Evan TRYING A NEW FOOD?!)

So, pumpkin prepped and seeds devoured, we were ready for a Friday afternoon Pumpkin Carving party. But what's a Pumpkin Carving party without snacks, though, right? I couldn't resist drawing up a bunch of these adorable little clementine Jack-o-Lanterns to go with the popcorn and candy that the other parents contributed. I mean, look at them.


 Evan's buddy helped us carve our pumpkin. They, quite democratically, agreed upon a face and took turns carving.



Final verdict?
Evan says, "Scary." His buddy said, "Nah, he's silly." Evan insists: "No. He's scary. See those teeth I gave him? Those aren't just any teeth....they're PIRATE TEETH." 
"Oh," she said, "I didn't know that. Yeah, he's scary."


And, it may not be Halloweeny, but would you just look at this girl?
We sat for a tea party the other day....
The light was perfect.
She was, and is, gorgeous. 


And I'll tell her so every single day.


Lesson Learned:
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

that time I thought I had skin cancer...

I was sitting on the couch working on a blog post last Thursday night when I twisted my wrist in such a way that I caught a glimpse of a tiny, shiny, black speck on my right forearm.  TICK! I thought, as I had been working out in the yard, pulling weeds and vines out of the back of our property, earlier that week. I immediately, obviously, started scratching at it. But it was smooth...not like a scab as I had been expecting.

And so, my mind instantly went to dark and scary places. Melanoma.

I wasn't being a hypochondriac. Not this time, anyway.

My sister was diagnosed with malignant melanoma about seven years ago. She had a tiny, shiny, black speck on her leg. It didn't really bother her, although, in hindsight, she realizes that it had become itchy. But it didn't raise any red flags for her...but it did for her masseuse. She was getting a massage as part of a pre-let's-have-another-baby getaway with her husband. The masseuse noticed it immediately and told her that she should get it checked out, and so she did. She received the results of the biopsy shortly after her general practitioner did a punch biopsy on it...malignant melanoma. For those of you unfamiliar with skin cancers, it's the worst-case-scenario skin cancer diagnosis. It's the type of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of your body and can do so quickly. Over the next few days, more tests revealed that she had, thankfully, caught it early, and the cancer was "in situ," or, confined to the top layers of her skin...it hadn't spread. Another test revealed that she was pregnant.

Apparently, my little niece-to-be gave her VIP status among patients awaiting in situ melanoma surgery and her procedure was scheduled very quickly. An oncologist was able to remove it and a clear margin of skin around it. Aside from now having regular dermatology screenings and wearing sunscreen on a daily basis, she has had no recurring effects of the cancer and has had  no other abnormal skin growths.

But she, and our whole family, are forever more aware of our fair, Irish skin and the markings that come with the sun and with age and with pregnancy.

So this tiny, shiny, not-a-tick, black dot? It had me worried.

So worried that I kept scratching at it and picking at it until nothing was left of that smaller-than-a-lentil sized piece of skin but a tiny, raw abrasion. Finally, Sam convinced me to Leave It Alone and call a doctor. I did.

Friday afternoon, I went to see my GP. This was the first time I'd seen him as I'm not really one to "go to a doctor" unless I'm "having a baby." He looked at my....scab...and I described what I had originally seen, and he seemed puzzled. "I'm not concerned," he said, "Only your family history has me wanting you to get this examined by a dermatologist. Without a history, I'd suggest we just watch it for awhile." I was disappointed and I told him. I just wanted a punch biopsy. I just wanted it OUT of my skin. My overactive mind was already picturing tiny, angry cancer cells running amok through my arm. Is my arm tingling? I'm pretty sure it is. That's the cancer, right? It's spreading!  I have been really tired lately! It's my body fighting! Ohmygod! I think my head hurts! BRAIN TUMOR! OHMYGOD!

I've said it before: My mind is not a pretty place to be.

He didn't want to do a punch biopsy, said he'd rather let the dermatologist see the entire area. Besides, they'd be able to do it without leaving a scar. I practically insisted, promising that I didn't care about a scar. He said he'd call first thing Monday morning and get me in to see the doctor quickly.

The original appointment was set for November 24. I don't know about you, but I was pretty sure I couldn't wait SIX WEEKS to find out if I had cancer or not. I called back. I Insisted.

I got an appointment the very next day.

Which was today.

The doctor walked in and I immediately decided I didn't like him.

He, in his 70s, with his "Let's let ol' Dr. G take a look atcha, sweetheart," and hurried manner. He listened, barely, as I described what I had seen and reminded him of my family history. He looked at the area with his fancy little flashlight. He went ahead and did a full spot check on my arms, torso, and scalp. He finished his exam (talking all the while about god knows what...not my skin or my worries) and said, "Well, nothing that I've seen today is of any concern to me. I don't want to see you in my office again for another six years!" At which point, his medical student (who had, by the way, listened intently with both concern and compassion to my story) interjected, "But of course come in sooner if you have ANY other concerns!"

What? That's it? But where's my answer? WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT ON MY ARM?!

I demanded to know. Well, really, I meekly said, as he backed up out of the room, hand on the door knob, "So what was this?"

"Hard to say! Maybe black spot poison ivy? Hard to tell since you went and scratched it out all by yourself!"

Black spot poison ivy?

Time to Google.

I did.

Self diagnosis? Black spot poison ivy.

It's a rare form of poison ivy that usually presents the first time a person is exposed to the plant. I think I've been exposed before (surely I have been...growing up, we all spent all summer traipsing through the creek in our backyard...my siblings all came home with it numerous times...) but I don't remember ever reacting to it. It usually presents after having prolonged exposure to highly concentrated amounts of the sap...from either the roots or crushed leaves (makes sense....I'd been pulling vines by the root and I know there's poison ivy in the area...). About 24-72 hours after exposure (the timeline fits...pulling weeds early in the week, noticed the spot Thursday), the sap, which you cannot remove with soap and water, takes on a dark black, lacquer-like appearance. It appears to be part of the skin itself (smooth to the touch) but is only surface deep (which is why I was able to "dig" it out).

Treatment? Wait it out. Use calamine lotion for persistent itching.

Thanks, WebMD, for setting my mind at ease more than that doctor did today.

Lesson Learned:
Next time I think I have skin cancer, I won't try to remove the "melanoma" myself. I'll leave it in for the doctor to see. And, despite what the doc suggested, I don't think I'll wait a whole six years before getting another skin check. I think it's a pretty good idea for everyone to schedule a yearly or every-other-yearly check. Can't hurt. And, once again, I'll try to practice the art of Worrying Less and not letting my mind get away from me.

I'm a work in progress.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to Build A Force Field

By Evan
Age 6 1/2

1. Get a Special Jacket. One that's built for catching lightning. You might have to build it yourself.

2. Wait for a thunder and lightning storm.

3. Use your Jet Pack to fly to where the lightning is shocking the ground.

4. Catch the lightning in the bowl. Oh, you need a bowl that's built for catching lightning, too.

5. Once you've collected all the lightning you need, take it back to your lair.

6. Mix it with red food coloring.

7. Pour it into a generator.

8. Wait five weeks.

9. There's your Force Field!

10. Use a remote control to control your force field so it lets only the good guys in and keeps the bad guys out. It can protect everything important, like the jewel room, the White House, and other important stuff.

"I've got big plans tomorrow, Mom."

Uh, oh.

Lesson Learned:
So red food coloring is actually intended to be used in the creation of a force field. Who knew?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Changing Perspective

Sam went away this weekend. For less than 24 hours....but for all 22 hours that he was gone, it rained. And so, needless to say, when he got home, I headed out for a little Me Time. First I spent too much money on a cup of coffee (but, even as I took my last sip, it was still hot, so it was worth every penny). And then I spent too much money on party and craft supplies for Max's upcoming Princess and Heroes Birthday Party (but the look on his face when I got home and unloaded the goods for him to peruse made them worth every penny).

And then.....behold! I went to the grocery store. ALONE.

Mommies, you get it. My options were: take two kids on one of Max's days off of school or use up one of my Molly and Mommy Days while Max was at school. I guess there was technically one other option...The Nuclear Option: The Take All Three Kids Grocery Shopping AFTER SCHOOL option.

It, obviously, wasn't even a choice.

And so, I wandered the aisles of the grocery store far from home....the one near the university, that I don't usually go to but that has the right kind of yogurt and milk for my high-maintenance dairy-free, soy-limited, nut-free, need-more-fat-and-protein skinny minnies. And while I wandered, I sipped my coffee, read labels, compared prices and protein-contents, and felt totally Peaceful.

And then I saw them. The group of four ridiculously cute and perky college roommates. They were all huddled around a cart that contained, roughly, six things. One of them held a list. The one pushing the cart said to the others, "So, is that everything?" Two nodded, one--the one holding the list, dramatically put her head in her hands and said, "I don't even know. Let's just go. This place is Like. So. Overwhelming."

I, clearly, just about laugh-snorted my Grande Vanilla Latte all over the sweet potatoes.

Overwhelming? Grocery shopping with your three (adult) besties, is overwhelming?

Oh, if only I had had my three little (not adult) besties with me today. I could have just loaned them to her for a few minutes.

They could have just given her a little glimpse into her potential future...the crying, the whining, the excessive touching of each other and things on shelves, the walking too slow, the walking too fast, the hanging onto the cart, the "I want to ride in the cart"s, the "I want to get out of the cart"s, the "I need to use the potty NOW!"s, and the, roughly, 76 "Mommy Can We Get"s per child. (Unless your baby is preverbal, then she will point to the box of Elmo crackers, say "Dis!" and point to herself repeatedly and with increasing insistence until you finally "understand" what she's been trying to tell you and just throw the damn Elmo crackers in your cart.)

Overwhelming?

How is she going to handle mid-terms?

Lesson Learned:
Ah, perspective. You live and learn...and then you look back and realize that, what seemed like a big deal at the time, was a walk in the park.

I shudder to think what I'll be doing when taking three kids under the age of 7 to the grocery store seems like a breeze.....

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Juice Cleansing for Beginners

A few months ago, my brother officially launched his new juice company, The Juice Laundry. We've been drinking raw, organic, cold-pressed juices ever since and LOVING them. Max is a big fan of the red pepper/pineapple juice while Molly is a fiend for the beet/carrot/cucumber blend. (Evan prefers his juices "one at a time," as in "apple," which surprises no one.)

I'm not a big drinker; I mean I am in terms of cracking that beer open just about every time 5pm comes around, but I'm not in that it never occurs to me to pour myself a cup of anything other than coffee. I rarely drink a cup of water....I know, I know....but I honestly rarely feel thirsty. It's genetic.

ANYway. Despite the fact that I'm not a drinker, I have found myself reaching for these juices not only because they're so good for me (two pounds of organic produce in every bottle!!) but also because they're so amazingly delicious. Who knew?

Well, apparently, a lot of people. "Juicing" has become something of a big deal among the health-conscious types, and my brother's company has really taken off in his town in just the few months his juice has been on the market. A lot of people enjoy the juices by the bottle, as we've been doing, but most of my brother's customers purchase the Juice Cleanse...where for 1-3 days, they only consume a carefully designed menu of six juices and one cashew milk each day. It's to purify and detoxify your body. To clean your machine. Get it? The Juice Laundry?!

I have been toying with the idea of doing my own beginner's cleanse for awhile now, but didn't want to do it while nursing for some reason. Yesterday was my day...and Sam's, too. We opted for the "Gentle Wash," because the juices in this category are a bit more palatable for those of us unaccustomed to drinking straight vegetable juices. For example, the green juice in the gentle wash consists of kale, spinach, cucumber, grapefruit, and apple, whereas the heavy green is kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, parsley, apple, ginger, and lemon. You can't go wrong with either....the gentle green is just a touch sweeter, a good place to start.

I started the day with a total cheat. While cleansing, you're not supposed to drink coffee. While cleansing, you're also not supposed to be up at 4am with a sleep-striking toddler. So I cheated. Instead of my usual cream and pinch of sugar, though, I used a few tablespoons of the cashew milk. Oh, mama. This is good. I hated to waste a bit of my cashew milk dessert on breakfast (it's so decadent and delicious I knew it would be a welcome sweet treat at the end of my cleanse) but it was worth it.


Juice #1 was the Gentle Green, which I sipped at 9:30 while unpacking groceries as Molly slept in her crib. (Hooray for my first baby who can be transferred, asleep, from car to crib!! No more sitting in a running car in my driveway playing Candy Crush! Who am I kidding, I still do that first.)


Juice #2 was one of my all-time favorites, the cucumber/grapefruit/pineapple blend. Super refreshing and light. Molly loves it, too. She demanded a sip. And then 'moh' sips. I, obviously, couldn't resist this face.


I drank the red-pepper/pineapple juice while the kiddos ate lunch...and then....I cheated. Again. Only this time, it was a total accident. Several times already that morning, I had caught myself before tossing a random...whatever was left over on a plate or tray...into my mouth for absolutely no reason other than the fact that the last waffle bite, strawberry slice, or cheese spaceship cracker, was headed either there or into the trash. Reduce!

So I drained the bottle of juice and started to clear the lunch plates. I picked up Max's last turkey sandwich triangle, as I often do, as my lunches, like most mamas', are made up of odds and ends of other peoples' lunches....and I ate it. I felt guilty. I also realized how much mindless eating I do during the day...especially when I caught myself, immediately after the lunch blunder, reaching into my secret chocolate stash at the top of the pantry. (Don't tell Sam about it....he's worse than I am.) I stopped myself in time.

During Quiet Time, I typically fire up the Keurig for a little mid-afternoon boost to get me through the rest of the day. But, coincidentally?, I didn't need it yesterday. Was the cleanse already giving me extra energy and clarity? Perhaps. After we rested, the littlest two and I went to the bus stop with MY Gentle Green juice in hand. Only, as is always the case when there's one of something and you're telling the littles that it's for YOU, not THEM, Max and Molly wanted to share. And, because that juice is LOADED with goodness, I was happy to oblige. They both loved it. I did, too, what of it they allowed me to have, that is.

I was planning on bringing my spicy lemonade to Evan's gymnastics class after school, but forgot it. Because of that, I ended up drinking it over dinner, while Sam enjoyed the next juice...the beet blend. It's one of my other favorites, but after guzzling the spicy lemonade, I couldn't drink more juice. And because I ended my day at 9pm (see: sleep-striking toddler, 4am wake-up), I ended up skipping it in favor of my protein-dense decadent cashew milk. It really is dessert in a bottle, but one that does your body good. 

I had done it. My first Juice Cleanse. And with only one cheat and one slip-up....which I'm SURE would have been avoided if I hadn't been the one making meals and snacks for people five different times during it... 

Lesson Learned:
Do it! Do your body good! Clean your machine! Next time I'm going for two days. No slip-ups. 
(But I still might do my coffee cheat....)

Monday, September 2, 2013

blooming confidences

On Max's third day of school, I picked up a Missing Mommy Kiddo. He was happy to go to school that morning, and said goodbye to Molly and me with a kiss and a smile. When I arrived at noon, however, his teacher said that he had gotten a little sad about twenty minutes before. He perked up for the end-of-day singing and dancing (his second favorite part of school, only behind playing dress-up. That boy can rock a Snow White dress.), but as soon as our eyes met, his lower lip started wavering and I barely caught him in time before he melted into me.

We had a quiet, lovey afternoon and didn't talk much about school. The next morning, he clasped his hands below his chin and said, "Hooray!! It's TUESDAY! That means it's NOT a school day!" And my heart cracked just a little bit. Max's school is perfect for him. It's calm and quiet and inspiring. It's musical and imaginative and artistic. It's friendly and warm and inviting. It is safe. It is happy. He knows his teacher well. His best little buddy is in his class. After his first two days of school, he was a non-stop motor-mouth about every last detail of his classroom, his new friends, and his activities of the days. I know he's happy there....so why doesn't he?

Tuesday night I made a special bag for Max. In a small, drawstring pouch I tucked a family photo, his beloved flyer from the upcoming Disney Princesses on Ice show, a Love Stone, a pipe-cleaner shaped into a heart, and his Sofia the First Amulet.

In the morning, as he ate his waffles and didn't once mention that Wednesday is a school day, I showed him the pouch...but not it's contents. "If you feel sad or lonely at school today, Max, ask Mrs. W if you can sit in a quiet spot somewhere and look through this pouch. The surprises inside will make you smile, and they'll remind you that Molly and I will be there to pick you up soon...before lunch time!"

He cast his eyes down to his plate. He sighed a heavy, sad sigh. He slumped his shoulders. He stuck out his shaky lower lip.

"Oh, baby. I think you're going to be so happy at school today. Don't spend your morning feeling sad about school."

"I'm not feeling sad about school," he started. "It's just that I'm not going to feel sad ever at school today. And I won't feel lonely and I won't miss you. So that means I'm never going to get to see what's in that pouch."

?

Um? Okaaaaaaaaaayyy.

So I handed him the pouch to peek in over breakfast....and sure enough....no tears at school that day!

In fact, when I got to school to pick him up, he was smiling broadly....and holding his Amulet. Apparently, after I had kissed him goodbye that morning, he opened his pouch to show his friends. One of his friends had spied the necklace and had wished to wear it. Her mom told me the story as we greeted our happy kiddos: "Oh, C had so wanted to get that Amulet! She probably wanted to wear it all morning!" Our teacher, Mrs. W spoke up, "Oh! She did wear it!" C smiled shyly and I looked to Max...who was beaming. "I shared!" he exclaimed as he threw his hands in the air dropping the pouch, spilling it's contents, and losing his balance.

Oh, that Maxwell.

Not a tear since. And he's bringing with him a million happy stories to share with me as we walk home each afternoon.

Did you catch that? Yes...we walk to preschool. We live in Mayberry.

And my almost-4 year old is Happy Happy Happy.

***

Evan is amazing.

I can't even to begin to describe the growth in his confidence in the past year. He's a total school pro now...already. The school bus is a breeze, he's up, dressed, and ready to start his day right at six... (I wouldn't mind if he caught a little extra sleep in the morning, but I've finally come to accept the fact that my children were born with some crazy gene mutation that causes them to need very little sleep. Molly has finally started "sleeping in" until about 4:45am.) ...and Evan, too, is Happy.

On Friday he brought home a sheet titled "A Peek at My Week." In the first section, he was to write "Something that went well this week." Below, "Something I'm still working on." I'm not sure if I ever wrote much about it last year, but Art class was always difficult for him. He struggled with the fine motor requirements, he struggled with the time constraints, he struggled with the sensory aspects of some of the projects, etc. I heard about Art a lot from him, and it was never positive. And there were other issues with the class, too, but mostly, he just felt like he stunk at it...and that, well...stinks.

Imagine my surprise when, on the top line of his Peek sheet, I saw that he had written "ART." I asked him about it...."So tell me what went well in Art class this week, buddy." "All of it," he replied, "We had to draw monsters by listening to Ms. M describe a monster and mine turned out really cool. I mean, like, probably the coolest one at my table! Or even in the whole class! Well, maybe just my table."

And he beamed. And my heart swelled...and I read on..."Something I'm still working on...making new friends." And I asked..."Is there anyone in particular you'd like to become better friends with?" And an immediate response...."Yup. A. She's nice and she's my friend but we never play together yet because she's always off playing with some other kids. But maybe someday!"

That's the spirit, kiddo!

And, as luck would have it...that someday was today. A moved into our neighborhood over the summer. We had met her family briefly, but the kids hadn't played together. As our family hung out on our back patio this afternoon...the little ones busy with play-dough, me washing windows....Evan said, "A's daddy and brother are outside. Maybe she'll come out, too." "Maybe," I said, "Or you could go and ask her dad if she can come out to play."

He thought about it for awhile....like, an hour.

And then..."Daddy? Will you go with me to ask if she can play?"

And so they went. Sam ended up doing most of the talking, but ultimately, A came running out... "EVAN!" she yelled, as they both broke into the wide smiles of long-lost buddies. And they spent the next hour running around the house, tossing the football, digging in the garden, acting silly.....like old friends. And when she hugged him as she was leaving, Evan didn't hug her back...but he didn't pretend to fall asleep, either! Progress!

Lesson Learned:
They're both changing and growing right before my eyes. If I blink, I'll miss it.....so I guess it's just as well that we're no longer sleeping.....

Friday, August 23, 2013

not at all how it was supposed to be...

Monday, August 19, 2013, 7:15 pm.

Two days shy of 18 months old.

Molly nursed for the last time.

I breastfed for the Very Last Time.

And my heart is broken because I didn't know it would be at the time, so I didn't savor every moment, remember every snuggle, trace every outline as I should have...as I would have had I realized it's finality.

I knew the end was near. Molly had been regressing lately with her sleep. She had been sleeping through the night and waking at 5 or 5:30 to come into bed with me and nurse/doze until the boys woke at 6 or 6:30. Over the past few weeks, however, she'd been waking earlier and earlier and not falling back to sleep at all, even when nursing. Since last Saturday, she's been up for the day at 4 or 4:15. Four. In the morning. That's crazy early. That's even early for my dad.

So it was decided. No more morning nursing. I figured I'd teach her to sleep later in the morning by offering only a sippy cup of milk rather than nursing. I would still nurse her at nap and bed times, but would gradually taper that down, too, over the next several days. I was buying myself more time. I wasn't ready for it to be over.

I love breastfeeding.


I love the bonding. I love the closeness. I love the fact that my body has come through for me so flawlessly THREE times to nourish and sustain my babies. (And I know how lucky I am for that.) I love that, by breastfeeding, I can still keep my babies BABIES. I mean, she's 18 months old, she's no newborn...but when nursing, she is. She's my itty bitty, snuggly baby. I love the fact that it has never really mattered that Molly is such a picky eater (she puts Evan to shame. EVAN!). I know that even if she were to skip all three meals, she'd still get her crucial nutrients and calories from me.

But that was the other problem....besides not sleeping, this girl has not been eating. I knew that it was time to wean so that she would learn to fill her belly with food. Again, she's eighteen months old. It's time. Besides, perhaps if she ate more during the day she'd sleep later in the morning? Perhaps she really is waking up hungry at 4am?

Tuesday morning, when she woke up at 4:15, I brought her straight downstairs from her crib. "Nu-nu!" she said, pointing into my room. "No, baby, let's go downstairs and get some milk." She protested, but ultimately drank a few sips from her cup and snuggled while we she watched Angelina Ballerina (and I closed my eyes, obviously). We had a normal morning, which included a trip to the park to meet some buddies for a Last Day of Summer Ultimate Playdate. It was wonderful. And long....after an already long morning. I wasn't surprised when Molly fell asleep in her carseat on the way home at noon. I was surprised, however, when, for only the second time in my six-and-a-half year tenure as Mother, I was able to transfer a sleeping child from carseat to crib.

She slept for an hour and a half. She hadn't nursed beforehand, and I certainly wasn't going to nurse her when she woke up....and so....it seemed like it just made sense....we would wean cold turkey. I thought that if I nursed her at bedtime it would be confusing. Like we'd be starting over at square one the next morning.....

Sam put her to bed that night. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was a little heartbroken that she didn't have a harder time falling asleep without nursing....

And so it is.

She's not quite sleeping yet, she's not quite eating well yet, and she's pretty fussy...but...
Molly has weaned.
My time as a breastfeeding mother has come to a close.

My girl will, someday, sleep and eat.

For now, I'll savor my snuggles when I can get them (yes, even at 4am) and I'll look forward to what lies ahead....because there is so much to look forward to as our family, together, gets older.

And I'm not going to lie, if not for the discomfort that cold-turkey weaning causes, I could get used to these B-cups.

Lesson Learned:
[sniff]
She's off on her way...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

'Twas the Night Before School....

Evan and Max, tomorrow you'll each start a new year of school. Evan, for the first time ever, you're returning to something familiar. You're a pro. And Max? Well, buddy, I have a really good feeling that we found the right fit for you this time.

On this, the Night Before the First Day of School, I'd like to offer up these wishes to the universe. I'll keep my fingers crossed that they find you...but I'll keep repeating them to you myself, just in case.

Evan and Max:

Be brave.
Be confident.
Be sure of yourself.
BE yourself.

Be kind.
Look out for others.
Be helpful before being asked.
Be aware of the needs of those around you.

Be open.
Try new things.
Be ready and willing to ask questions.
Be thoughtful.

Be friendly.
Smile. Laugh. Be as funny as I know you are. 
But save the potty humor for home, please.

Be happy. 
Come home with stories of new friends and new things you've learned and done that you can't wait to share with me and Daddy. 
Miss us a little, but not too much.

And never forget, even for a second, how much...


Lesson Learned:
It's going to be a great year. I just know it.
Love stones, for backpacks or pockets, inspired by Kelle Hampton.
The one pictured above is for Max. Here is Evan's (front and back....or back and front?):

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Water Beads! A Light and Sensory Experience

We've played with Water Beads before, and the kids have always had fun with them....but today, we made A TON of them. And it made all the difference....

Evan and I set up this "invitation," to borrow from Play At Home Mom, during a rare Quiet Time during which the younger two both fell asleep. We used about half of each of our blue and clear packets of water beads. 



Water beads, often used in cut-flower arrangements, can be found in the floral section of most craft stores. 


They are tiny beads that, when soaked in water for several hours, expand to marble-sized, squishy, clear gel balls that are super fun to scoop, pour, and slosh your hands through. They're also really cool to look through because, as Evan immediately pointed out, "They're kinda magical because they can turn the whole world upside down."


Or, one tiny head.


Because you could see right through them, Evan decided they would be even cooler to play with on the light table. 
He was right.




When the others woke up, we had to relocate the bin to the floor because Molly wanted to play with them All. Afternoon. And I couldn't just stand next to her while she stood up on the bench and played all day...I had things to do. Things like take 100 pictures of her playing....


...and "sorting"...



....and taking this simple sensory experience and turning it into a Full-Body Sensory Experience.



Lesson Learned:
This was a huge hit. We learned here that, sometimes, bigger....or MORE....really is just waaaaaaayyy better. So skip the mini-bin and fill up the big boy. Fill up a deep bowl with them and sink your arms up to your elbows in there. Max has already suggested that we fill the bathtub with them next time. I don't know about that....but maybe a baby pool?

Best part is, you can leave water beads out and play with them for awhile, replacing water as needed. Then, when you're ready to fill your sensory bin with something new, dry the water beads out, let them shrink back down to original size, and put them away until next time.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

An Open Letter of Appreciation

Dear Mrs. C,

I had feared the beginning of Kindergarten since my first-born baby was about three months old. (Before that, life was a blur.) I worried about letting him go. I worried about what he would be exposed to. I worried about the other kids--would be be well-liked? Would he make a friend? Would he be confident but not obnoxious? Would he show his true, beautiful and vibrant, colors or would he hide behind the veil of introversion as his mommy often did?

And then, we learned of his food allergies. All of my worries were trumped by my newest Worry: Would he be safe?

But also: Would he feel excluded during food-related school events? Would he be taunted? Teased? Peer-pressured into "trying" one of his allergens? Would there be someone there, when I couldn't be, to look over his shoulder and double check that ingredient list?

And, as if I wasn't already up-all-night as it was, we started to trip and stumble our way into the murky, undefined waters of sensory processing disorders and anxiety. And as Evan began to speak up for himself when presented with a new food ("Is that safe for me? I'm allergic to peanuts, you know."), I became overwhelmed with a new Worry...one that will probably always be with me, as it is for all parents, of all children....

Will my baby be happy?

Will he be loved?

Almost exactly a year ago, with a couple of deep breaths trying to settle a couple of nervous tummies, I kissed my Kindergartner goodbye as he stepped onto the bus, headed off to his first day of School.

And waiting for him in the doorway of that first classroom on that first day, was Mrs. C.

And he was loved.
And he was happy.
And he was safe.

And there was more.
He made friends!
He learned to read!
He sculpted with (wet, slimy, squishy, not amenable to children with sensory issues) CLAY!
He wrote stories!
He READ HIS STORY ALOUD into a microphone in front of a live audience!
He SANG and DANCED on STAGE during the kindergarten musical!

He gained confidence.
He honed his sense of humor.
He started saying things like, "But Mrs. C said....." and, "Well, according to Mrs. C...." and, "Never mind, Mom, I'll just ask my teacher."

And I've been trying since Teacher Appreciation Week to find the words to adequately express my gratitude and appreciation for everything you've given to and done for my boy. (And for me.) But I don't think those words exist, so these will have to do.

Mrs. C, Thank You.
Thank you for teaching my son. Thank you for loving him. Thank you for believing in him and for building him up. And through it all, thank you for supporting me, during what you knew in your Mother Heart to be a very difficult transition for me.

I hope that you have had a restful and rejuvenating summer vacation because I know that in a few short weeks you will be back again, giving every ounce you have to your new group of Kindergartners. And while I'm envious of the parents of your Bees-to-be, because they, and surely their children, are among the luckiest ones....I, and Evan, too, will approach the beginning of this new year, First Grade, with the confidence and positivity that we learned from you.

And it will be another great year.

With love, thanks, and most sincere appreciation,
Sarah
(and Evan)

Lesson Learned:
It's easier to let go when you have someone so wonderful waiting and ready to catch him.

Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that this one-in-a-million teacher will see me through my next two Kindergartners-to-be.....

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Calm the F* Down

There's a new Theory of Parenting circulating around the internet. Coined by David Vienna, of The Daddy Complex, the CTFD method promises to simplify your life and still result in happy, successful, well-rounded children. CTFD, of course, stands for Calm the F* Down, and is directed not at your children, but right at you, Mom and Dad.

Here's why I like this method:
Regardless of whether or not you stress over it, your child will, most likely, figure out how to ambulate, communicate, eat something, sleep at some point, use the potty, make a friend, function within a society, and secure gainful employment as an adult. And, more likely than not, love you, his or her devoted and supportive parent. So just enjoy it, right? Just calm down and enjoy it.

Here's why I don't:
I can't Calm Down. I am, by nature, a Worrier. And, more importantly, I am, by biological reproduction, a Mom. I am jealous of the Dads out there who can CTFD. (And the Moms who can, if there are any....I'd like to meet you and let you buy me a glass of wine, by the way....Yes, you read that correctly: clearly, I'm the one more in need of that vino than you, oh Stress-Free Wonder, you.)

I think it's because I read this article a mere days after reading one (and I really wish I remember where I read it...) written by a Stay-at-Home Dad who admits that he can do no wrong. When he's at a "Mommy and Me" music class with his daughters at 10am on a Tuesday, he's Super Dad. When he's grocery shopping with a cranky toddler and a fussy baby, he's Super Dad (and a great husband). When he's at work, he's providing for his family, therefore, Super Man/Dad/Husband/Provider/etc. When his wife is with the kids? She's just being a Mom. When she's at work....she's neglecting her family. He can't lose, she can't win.

I'm a Stay-at-Home Mom. I don't have the added burden of having to juggle my family and my career. But still....sometimes I feel like I can't win. No, that's not true....I honestly feel like I win every day. It sounds hokey to say it, but there are successes each day to be celebrated...some bigger than others....some days I need to look reeeeeeaaaaaaaaallllllllyy hard to find that something...but it's always there.

But my days are not without stress.

Being the primary caregiver for three young children is stressful.

BUT.

That's not to say that I don't fully support and appreciate the CTFD method. I think, in my life, it applies less to me as a "parent" and more to me as a "mommy." As in, I'll never calm down about my role as a parent to these three wonderful little beasts. I CAN, though, calm down about what the hell other mommies are doing all day with their wonderful little beasts.

I can stop comparing myself against other mommies.
I can stop judging other moms for the choices they make that work for their family.
I can stop competing (in my mind) with the moms I emulate. Learn from them, yes. Compete? No.
I can stop keeping up with the Pinterest goddesses. Just, like, cold turkey stop. My kids won't even know what they're missing.

My kids are happy. My kids are healthy. My kids are thriving. So tonight, I will Calm the F* Down.

Lesson Learned:
I think I need to bookmark The Daddy Complex and re-read this post often. "Calming Down" isn't typically in my repertoire. It needs to be. Starting now.

But wait! The first grade school supply list came out today. OHMYGOD. I'm not ready! We're just now hitting our lower-anxiety, summertime stride! He still refers to his kindergarten teacher as "my teacher," and refuses to discuss the possibility that she'll have new kindergartners when he starts school again. And why did they stop selling the only brand of dairy-free yogurt that Evan will eat at our Whole Foods? Now I have to pick the berry bits out of the Silk Strawberry yogurt and, I tell you what, it is even less glamorous than it sounds. And Max! He's going to be leaving my for THREE mornings a week! What will I do without my stream-of-consciousness chatterbox by my side? And the other day, he said he didn't like pink anymore. He said pink is for girls. I reminded him that colors are for everyone, and he said he still liked pink, but not to wear. Is it because that annoying neighbor kid said that "Tinkerbell" isn't "manly" enough? Can I shield Max from annoying neighbor kids forever? And is Molly really getting enough Mommy Time? I mean, I'm constantly juggling between her and the boys. I don't read to her enough. Shouldn't I be singing her more nursery rhymes? Have I EVER taught her the Itsy Bitsy hand motions? And when, WHEN, am I going to enroll us, any of us, in a Mommy and Me Yoga class? I've been trying to do one with ANY of the kids for SIX YEARS and haven't gotten around to it. So, WHEN?! GLOBAL WARMING. BIO-TERRORISM. HATRED. LIARS, CHEATERS, MEAN GIRLS, MOTHERS WHO ALLOW THEIR TODDLER TO TAKE THE TOY RIGHT OUT OF MY BABY'S HANDS WITHOUT APOLOGY OR CONSEQUENCE.

Deep breath.

Caaaaaaaallllmmmm.

Okay. I'm good.
Startinnnnnnnggggg...............Now.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

slip slidin' away

It's disappearing. Right before my eyes, it's slipping away. We're really only about halfway through summer, but that means we're HALFWAY through summer. And I don't know about where you live, but here, the first half of summer has been nothin' but rain. Our summer to-do list? Practically untouched. In addition to our upcoming beach trip, there's a lot left to cross off: hikes, parks, playgrounds, picnics, pool days, playdates, and....well, I'm sure I know two little boys who could help round out that list of "P" words....

It's been a weird summer. But we've still managed to keep busy and happy. And I'm just soaking in my time with my two big boys before I send them off to school in just a few short weeks. Evan? FIRST grade? I can't think of it. And Max? Three days a week? As much as I'm hoping that he'll find his new school a better fit, I'm going to miss that kid....and the wacky things he says....

So it's been a fast-as-lightning, monsoon-soggy kind of summer, but it's still Summer. And Summer is For Fun.

Playing in our new Sensory Garden is Fun!











Painting with Water is Fun!

Making a Fairy Garden is Fun!


Peach Picking is Fun!





Playing on the new Patio after breakfast is Fun!


Art Projects are Fun!




Playing at the Cousins' House is Fun!

Fourth of July Parades are Fun!
(But having to take the requisite picture is not fun. Or easy)



 (Yup. Those were the best that we got.)

But watching the parade is Fun!


(Baby Signing for "More" Parade is Fun and Cute.)

Playing at Mom Mom and Pop's House with the Uncles' Vintage Toys is Fun!

Trying to keep up with the Big Boys on the Spider Web is Hard.

Catching up on Lost Time with your Brother is Fun!

Playing Doctor is Fun!

Playing Dress-Up is Fun!
(Evan does not prefer to dress up.)

MORE Inside Art Projects are Fun!
(This time, magic swirly color prints with shaving cream)





And if you might put the shaving cream in your mouth, yogurt is a good substitute for 
Swirly Color Fun!

But when you're 16 months old, there is, unfortunately, such a thing as
Too Much Fun.

Lesson Learned:
It's not over yet! And the weather forecast for this week looks hot and humid. Like it's supposed to be. Still time to soak it in before we slip, slide away, right into the school year....Oh, and Target? You can take your school supply section and shove it because some of us aren't quite ready to see your shiny safety scissors and perfectly pointy Crayolas, okay?

(Who am I kidding? I am such a sucker for brand new crayons.)
(And we both know I can't stay mad at you, Target. I forgive you.)