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

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Don't Want to Build Any More Snowmen

I haven't felt like an especially awesome mommy lately. I mean, I'm handling all of the daily business well....kids are clean, well-fed, at school on time (weather permitting), busy, but not too busy, and happy...and I'm keeping my cool, staying patient, taking our time, for the most part...but I lately I've felt like I'm just going through the motions.

But I know why. And the problem is two-fold:

1. It's really freaking cold outside. All the time. We need to get outside to play. And...
2. You guys. Frozen. Yes, the movie.

I loved the movie. I still probably do, it's just hard to know since I can't escape it for one single moment of any day. It's like if you had to eat ice cream for every meal of every day, you'd probably eventually stop loving it. You might like it again once you've been given a chance to miss it....maybe.

Like Elsa, who banished herself to her ice palace of isolation, I, too just want to Let It Go. But what I really want to scream off a balcony into the breaking dawn of a new day is "I DON'T WANT TO PLAY THIS GAME ANYMORE, MAX!"

You guys. Before 8 am this morning, we had played three different games. The rules were as follows:

1. Third Grade: "I'm Anna and you're Elsa, Mommy. And Molly can be Olaf. And I'm about to go to third grade and you tell me that you're going to miss me." And then we "princess-danced" while singing "For the First Time in Forever." Max carried his "school bag" on his shoulder while he danced.

2. Clock-Tower: We pretended we were those little people who come out of cuckoo clocks and dance with each other and bow and stuff. But Max was Anna and I was Elsa and Molly was Olaf and, instead of cuckooing, the clock "chimed" Frozen music, which we sang.

3. Townhomes at the Beach: Anna and Elsa go to the beach. It's a cold beach so Olaf can come, too.

I, obviously, couldn't take any more after that, so we went to Target.

The endless Frozen pretend-play continued this afternoon until I finally remembered how to effectively and happily break the cycle....

Sensory Play.

It works every time. And it's effective against so many different kinds of negative cycles we find ourselves in...boredom, cabin fever, grumpiness, I'm-not-sharing-with-him-ness, and yes, even when you've OD'd on Frozen.

It works for us because we can all play together...but no one has to talk in a Princess Voice. I mean, anyone can if they want to, but if you don't want to, you're not breaking the rules of Max's Game. Plus, there's something about sensory play...it's calming, it's centering, it helps me reconnect with the parts of mommy-hood that I love, but that can become lost in the daily grind. I try to have a sensory bin or two constantly filled and ready to use...we rotate through some favorites (pasta, rice, lentils + beans, water beads, Gak (? the borax and glue mixture), and, of course play dough and cloud dough)....but we're always looking for new ideas, so shout 'em out!

***

Here's our quick and easy playdough recipe:

1 cup flour
1 cup water
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt
1 tbsp. oil
food coloring

Mix in a microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Knead until cool and smooth. (You can knead fine glitter into it, too.)

This week, we had a picnic. Max, Molly, and I made the guests...Max provided the fare.


Molly made the little blue guy on the right in front of her. I helped her stick the top to the bottom so it wouldn't fall off, but she did the rest! She's awesome at play dough. And everything.

***
And our cloud dough has been a huge hit....


We fancied it up for Valentine's Day with heart-shaped cupcake cups from Wilton.



I don't usually measure out precise amounts, but it's roughly a 1:8 ratio of oil to flour. I just dump flour in a bowl and add baby oil until the dough holds it's shape when squeezed.

Molly doesn't squeeze it so much as scoop it.


And smear it...



...and want to live in it...


Super fun and super sensory (it smells amazing, too, when you use baby oil), but also super messy. I've recently been hearing lots about Kinetic Sand, which is apparently similar but much cleaner, so I think we may have to check that out. (Although, sorry Kinetic Sand, but no one's buying your "2% magic" ingredient.  I'm pretty sure we all know that it's really called Polydimethyl siloxane. I mean, puh-lease.)

Lesson Learned:
After a quick breather, with us all engaged, together but independently, in Sensory Play, I'll be ready for more singing and dancing and freezing and unfreezing and Let It Go-ing and For the First Time in Forever-ing.

But, sorry. Still no Snowmen.
Because, for real...can we start the countdown to spring?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

a little word of advice

I read this adorable blog post the other day about how to be a "happy" and "productive" stay-at-home mom. I don't mean to sound as condescending as I'm sure I do...it's just that...here's the thing with offering broad, unsolicited advice to an entire group of individuals....You don't know Our Story. What works beautifully for your family made me literally snort my coffee.

This:

2. Become an early riser. I used to sleep until the girls woke up. Then we would all be tired, trying to wake up and get some breakfast, and it would become chaos. Now I try to wake up before the girls so I can have some coffee and sit by myself and watch the morning news. Get yourself ready for the day during this time. Shower, get dressed, do your hair, brush your teeth; whatever your routine for getting ready is, do it in this time. That way if you do have to go somewhere, you just get the kids ready and go. Plus it's a kick start to the day and that way you can get more done instead of sitting in your pajamas all day.

Oh, honey.

If I were to wake up before my children, the morning news anchors would still be asleep. I'm pretty sure even my coffee-maker would cry foul and refuse to start. But that's just me. Just my family. Just my weirdo kids who don't sleep.

But that's beside the point. My point is: One stay-at-home mom offering broad, unsolicited advice, or helpful "tips," to all other stay-at-home moms is about as helpful as the octogenarian in the grocery store telling me that wearing my baby in the Ergo is going to spoil my child. No, Grandma; it's my inability to refuse my child's puppy-dog eyes that's going to spoil my kids...not my hands-free baby-wearing.  

My mom has always said that, had they stopped having children after their first two, she would be the most smug parent in the world. My older sister and I were easy. We were rule-followers who played well together. Had she stopped at two, she would have considered herself a Parenting Expert. Her Potty Training Manual would have read: 

"Wait until your child is ready to Potty Train. Allow her to pick out her own Big Girl underwear. This will be an incentive for your child to successfully use the potty. Which she will do. Immediately. This will happen before the age of 2."

Then she had her third child...who was three and a half before he used the potty...and even then I don't think anyone would have called it "successful." But still, her three children were well-mannered and compliant. We first three were Pleasers. 

Then came Baby #4 who refused to sleep and wore a constant, yet adorable, impish grin as he refused to follow the neatly-in-a-line footsteps of his older siblings. There came a day when he, then two and a half years old, ran, laughing, down the street away from my Mom. At nine months pregnant with Baby #5, she wasn't able to catch up to him, which he surely understood, and she realized that perhaps there's no such thing as a Parenting Expert.

My parents went on to have four more children after Baby #4, and each of the eight of us has given my parents the "opportunities" to earn more stripes on their parenting badges than they ever could have thought possible. And therein lies the wisdom.....

The more you experience in life, the more lessons you learn, the more you realize that there is still so much more for you to learn....so much that you can't possibly know. That you might not ever know.

So take my broad, unsolicited advice, all of you different and unique individuals who have different and unique children and circumstances and challenges:

Share your stories. Share your struggles. Share your triumphs. Share your Lessons Learned. 

But own the fact that, even if you have it ALL figured out, you only have it figured out for you and for now....because parenting is really practicing the art of flexibility and adaptability and change.  That's sort of the beauty of Parenthood.

That and, I'm sure, the fact that someday my parents will get to see their beautifully impish grandchild run, laughing, away from their fourth-born.

Lesson Learned:
I'm really not trying to criticize the author of the blog post. Truly, I respect her for having the confidence to post her success as a stay-at-home mom as a how-to guide for moms who might be struggling. And let's be honest: I, too, have offered plenty of unsolicited advice in real life and certainly on this blog. But, damn. On that magical day that I wake up before my kids, I promise you I won't be watching the news or doing my hair. I'll be rolling over and going back to sleep.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Extraction of a Supernumerary: Part 1

This post is subtitled:
Holy Shit This Oral Surgery Thing Is Really Happening

About a year ago, we found out that Evan has an extra tooth. It's visible here......


.....up there in his gums between his two permanent front teeth.

The dentist who discovered this tooth, henceforth referred to as Our Former Dentist, saw this x-ray and was completely flummoxed. In fact, he kept me and three monkeys trapped in a tiny cell with dangerous and expensive machinery for MANY MINUTES while he sat on hold with dental experts who were not taking his call regarding what to do about that extra tooth. That was a fun day.

We sought a second and a third opinion on the tooth issue from two pediatric dentists. Both agreed that it was not a canine tooth as Our Former Dentist assumed, but a "supernumerary," or extra tooth; many of which grow in conical in shape because they are squeezed in between two normally forming teeth. After talking with the two other dentists, and conducting some research on supernumeraries on our own, we realized that they're actually pretty common....occurring in 0.5%-3% of the population (different locations of supernumerary teeth are more or less common. In Evan's case, it is a fairly common "mesiodens," which means that it's growing in between the top, central incisors.) In fact, both dentists said that they had seen multiple cases in their practices alone, and many more in their dental training. (Because it turns out to be a relatively common dental anomaly, one that seems likely to have been covered in Dentistry 101, we found a new dentist.) Both pediatric dentists also agreed that the optimal time to "deal with" this extra tooth would be around the age of 7.

Guess who's already 6 years and 9 months old? That went fast.

Today, we had our first consultation with Dr. B, an oral surgeon. Surgeon. As in one who performs surgery. SURGERY.

We all went. I wanted to be able to talk to Dr. B about the specifics of the surgery while Evan waited in the waiting room with Sam.

First, Evan and I went back to the consultation room and Dr. B talked briefly, very briefly, with Evan about what would happen when we return for the procedure (which will probably be early this summer). It went a little like this, "First, you'll drink a liquid that will make you feel very calm. You can play video games or listen to music or do whatever you like to do for thirty minutes. Then, we'll go back to a different room where we'll put a mask on you--like a funny elephant's trunk. Then, you'll feel kind of floaty, like Aladdin on his magic carpet." She turned to me and asked, "Do you have any questions?" When I answered, with big Read Between My Lines Eyes, "Not right now!" She quickly wrapped up: "And then, when you wake up, your mom will be there!"

Then, she directed him across the hall and into the X-Ray room. He sat on a chair inside an iCAT machine, which produced a 3D image of his skull, jaw, and tooth structure. It only took about 10 seconds.


He said it was "boring." But then, when he saw this photo, he said he looked like he was from Star Wars. Don't tell anyone, but I think he thought it was kind of cool.

Then, he went back to the waiting room and Dr. B and I looked at the images and talked through the procedure. The Surgery.

I was thinking...hoping....that she would extract his baby teeth and go up through those openings in his gums to pull out the supernumerary. 

Turns out, the fact that his baby teeth are still in place is a good thing....and they want to keep them there. The longer they stay in, the better chance his normal adult incisors have of coming in correctly.

Which means they'll be going in to get that damn tooth through the roof of his mouth. Well, maybe not the roof....but the palate.

She held up the model of the skull in the room, flipped it upside down, demonstrated how she'll peel back the gums behind the top front teeth and then described how she'll flake off the thin layer of bone that sits behind the extra tooth. Then, she'll replace the gum, stitch between each tooth, and voila! Easy peasy!

Holy Shit.

So I asked about recovery. She said he should remain pretty low-key for three to four days following the procedure, but! He'll be able to eat pretty much normally! You know, because what kid doesn't like Macaroni and Cheese! (Nope...even without the cheese, sensory kids don't eat noodles.) Or mashed potatoes! (Nuh-uh.) Soup? Not a chance. Looks like soy milkshakes it is. Oy.

And then she handed me the consent forms. The forms that list every single thing that could potentially go wrong. And I had to put my initials next to every horrible possible accidental outcome saying, basically, "Yup! That's okay! Let's risk jaw displacement! Who cares if there's some residual tingling that may or may not last forever?!" Dr. B did say that the form covers all types of oral and maxillofacial surgeries, even very invasive palate reconstruction, etc. But still. He's my baby.

I'm super nervous. Mostly about the anesthesia...and mostly about the surgery itself....and also mostly about the recovery. But I'm Super Calm Cool and Collected Mommy on the outside!

Not really. But here's when I start perfecting my fake because I have about five months to make it believable.

In the meantime.....does your kid have a super cool skull pic to show off at school? 'Cause mine does...


Lesson Learned:
The good news is that I feel really comfortable with this doctor. And all the rest of his permanent teeth are present, accounted for, and in the right place. So this will be the only oral surgery that we are signing up for....right now, anyway.....whew.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Avoiding the Pukes aka Tempting Fate

So here's a post that's really going to tempt the karma gods. I'm going to hit Publish and then start furiously knocking on wood.

And then I'll wash my hands.

Here's the thing. The dreaded stomach bug has been ravaging our community since just after Thanksgiving. It's everywhere. Evan's elementary school has been hard hit, it tore through Max's preschool, Molly's music class has been abuzz with tales of three days' worth of laundry piling up over the course of six hours, playdates have been cancelled, and messages of surrender are filling up my newsfeed.

It's a nasty, super contagious bug.

It doesn't help that not all parents are making good choices about their kids' sickness....take, for instance, the time I went to pick Evan up from school with a phantom fever. The kid sitting next to him in the clinic said to me, "He's going home? Me, too. My tummy hurts. I threw up all day yesterday and last night but my mom said I could go to school today." Thanks, Mom. Thankfully, Evan didn't catch that kid's pukes.  Then there was the time, at music class, when a mom and her adorable-but-dripping-from-every-facial-orifice kid "J" came and sat down next to me and Molly. "Ugh," she lamented to the mom on her other side, "J's a mess but you should see T. He's been puking for more than 24-hours! I'm just waiting for the rest of us to pick it up." Um, and now so are we.

But those are probably the minority of stories. The truth is, this bug is everywhere. And so are we. So we have to protect ourselves. We've had a strict Shoes Off, Hands Washed policy when entering the house for as long as we've had kids. But we've still always managed to pick up the occasional bout of strep throat or an ear infection or, in Max's case, recurring cases of bronchiolitis. So far this winter? Nothing. Well, not nothing. Evan has had two phantom fevers since school started in August, but I'm pretty sure he can will himself into those. And I had a terrible sinus infection in the fall, but, miraculously none of the kids came down with any symptoms.

We've been exposed to more kids and more sickness than ever before with all three of our kids involved in outside-of-the-house activities. And somehow, we are healthier than we've ever been.

(Hear that knocking? Knuckles to table. Knuckles to table.)

Ready for our secret?

You guys: Run, don't walk, to pick up a stash of PROBIOTICS. We've been adding powdered probiotics to the kids' morning orange juice since August. We stated Evan on them when he was so sick last spring. When I asked the pediatrician when we should get him off of them, she said, "Oh, why would you? My daughter and I take them every day." She went on to say that they're such a great way to maintain digestive health, which, in turn correlates very strongly with overall health. We started Max and Molly on them shortly after that doctor's visit, and I plan to keep them on them...at least through the winter.

Lesson Learned:
Okay, don't run straight to the pharmacy. Talk to your doc, first. But ask about using probiotics. We use Culturelle Kids, which is a flavorless powder. There are pills and chewable, too, I think.

But, after the number of puking kids we've encountered, and the lack of puking going on in this house, I'm convinced.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I love to watch her play.

Molly has always excelled at Play. She is thoughtful; she is imaginative; she is smart; she is independent; she is confident; and she is persistent--refusing to give up on a toy or manipulative until she figures out a way to use it in her play. On top of that, she has brag-worthy fine motor skills (which I did at her 15-month well-check when I gushed to the doctor about her ability to connect and disconnect Lego pieces. To which he responded with a totally unimpressed face, "Legos are choking hazards." Yes, thank you, Dr. KillJoy). But truly, Molly is just really good at keeping her tiny, delicate hands and her always-turning mind busy.


She gravitates toward toys that come with small pieces, and she LOVES animals. It's the perfect recipe for Calico Critters, which she received for Christmas. She undresses (and asks for help to dress) the animals, saying "bath" and "night night" as she does so. She sets up the mommy critters on the couch and sends the daddies to the playroom with the babies. She tucks the babies into their tiny beds, gently tucking them in under a tiny, stiff blanket.


The other day, I answered the phone right as I was taking Molly up for her nap. Because it had been Quite A Day, I needed some Adult Conversation Time, and because the boys were settled in their rooms with their Quiet Time Activities, I sat in her rocking chair, chatting with my friend, and I watched her play. 

First, Great Big Bear was carefully positioned for a nap. She thoughtfully considered her buddy basket for a minute before selecting two nap buddies for Great Big Bear. She placed the pink bear and the owl next to him to snuggle with, then she stood back to look. "Book!" she pronounced, as she picked out a book for him. "Bla bla!" she said next, as she pulled the blanket off the arm of the chair I was sitting in. After pulling one corner and walking around him and pulling the other and walking around him some more and pulling yet again, she finally got the blanket just right on her buddy. Then she found a book and buddy for herself, directed me to tuck her in with her nap blanket, and "took a nap." I wrapped up my phone call, she "woke up," and she went to sleep for real. 


This girl Loves her buddies. She takes such good care of them.


And, when she wants human company, she has two nearly-always willing playmates in her brothers (although she will, on occasion, approach me with a pair of fairy wings, which signals that I'm allowed in). She's one lucky little lady.



And I love to watch her play.

I always have. I always will.

And then....this....while I was cleaning up from lunch the other day, the house got quiet. Too Quiet. Max was in the teepee, reenacting the entire Frozen screenplay with his new Elsa and Anna dolls. But Molly? I'd lost track of her. I peeked into the playroom and found this......

....She had set up her Fairy Princess castle and had put tiaras on herself and her TWO UNICORNS, which sat on their own chairs.


The next day, she invited Doggie and Kitty to play.


I LOVE to watch her play.

Lesson Learned:
This is a golden age. I love the development of language, curiosity, imagination, creativity, independence, and interaction that happens around two years of age. I love Two. In fact, if there was a way I could double up on Two and skip Three altogether, I'd pay any price. But I can't, so instead I'll just savor this time we're in right now. And I'll sit back, sip my coffee, and watch my girl play.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Patience: More in 2014

We have three young kids. They are six, four, and almost two. On occasion, and on some days more than others, they whine, demand, argue, refuse to eat their food, refuse to put on their shoes, insist that they put on their own shoes when they are developmentally unable to do so, make messes seemingly on purpose, refuse to clean up after themselves, insist upon hearing the same direction 17 times before following it, act selfishly, speak at an incredibly and unnecessarily high volume, behave in a way that is annoying to others, break into spontaneous and intense fits of crying, speak to each other in an unkind voice, play too roughly, sleep too little, and think that there is nothing on earth funnier than the word poop....except maybe the phrase "poop toot bum and penis."

In other words, they act their ages.

But, on occasion, and on some days more than others, I don't.

I forget that they are *just* six, four, and almost two. I lose patience. I rush them. I get frustrated when, in trying to master a skill, they put the left shoe on the right foot four times in a row (when we're really trying to get out of the house for school, like, Right Now). I repeat the same direction 17 times instead of making sure I have their attention before I say it the first time. I speak in an incredibly and unnecessarily high volume. And sometimes, I, too, break into spontaneous fits of crying.

And then, the storm passes and I look back on my Mommy Meltdown and I vow to do better. To speak to my children with love and kindness in my voice. To have more patience. 

But sometimes, before I can even feel that post-meltdown regret.....something happens that is way worse than any self-inflicted remorse....something like this...


It says, "To Max. News Report. From Evan. The Book of Mom"
On the inside: me, with fire coming out of my head. Max asked if those squiggles were "a hairy face." Thankfully, no. Unfortunately, Evan said, "No, that's Mom using her mad voice."

Luckily, Evan gave this to Max in front of me, and he showed it to me. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to use it as an opportunity to apologize for my meltdown; to tell them why I had felt frustrated but to explain that my behavior was unacceptable. Luckily, by the end of our conversation, we were all laughing and hugging. 

Unluckily.....I'll never forget that picture.

Lesson Learned:
Do better. Have more patience. Do better. Have more patience. Do better. Have more patience..............

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pet Store: a game {of redemption} for all

Yesterday was not our best day. It began with temperatures in the barely-double digits and no snow to speak of to make that frigid blast worth it. Then, it sunk down into the depths of Spoiled and Ungrateful Children, which lead to a Mommy Meltdown and resulted in a Bedroom and Playroom Clean-Out of epic proportions. 

Once our discarded buddies were given final (dramatic, teary) goodbye hugs, and bags and boxes destined for Goodwill were packed, we settled into the comfortable midday routine of lunchtime excessive-mess-making and nap-refusal. 

Just when I thought I'd really lose my mind, I shut myself and Molly in her bedroom to answer a phone call from a friend. For the next 30 minutes, we chatted, Molly tucked in and untucked and re-tucked in her buddies under a blanket on the floor, while Max and Evan quietly (remorsefully?) entertained themselves in their slightly less-full bedrooms. 

The afternoon promised to be endless.

Until Max had a plan.

Max is full of plans. Most of them of late require fancy dresses, tons of costume jewelry, the Frozen soundtrack on repeat, and the adoption of "princess voices," which sound a lot like really obnoxious Valley Girls.

This one was different. Thank god it was different. Max suggested that we play Pet Store. 

First, they gathered some of their remaining buddies and put them in their places.

Seriously, this isn't even all of them. And this is AFTER we filled a donation bag. #spoiledkids

 And then, of course, the animals needed to be fed.

The first customer arrived right after the Grand Opening. She carefully inspected her choices, finally deciding on a lovely new pet panda. She was sure to bring home his food dish as well.


The "checker-outer" rang her up for her purchase and she handed over her rumpled wad of three dollar bills.



As new customers came through the store, the checker-outer switched. This particular clerk gave wonderful Animal Care Advice, such as "Don't forget to walk your new dog 2.6 miles everyday," and "That bunny prefers to eat 1.3 pounds of fresh carrots every morning."


The littlest checker-outer was so interested in opening, emptying, refilling, and closing the cash drawer (on repeat) that the customers finally just left with their new, free pets.


The game went on for nearly an hour. They played together....each child participating in parts of the game that suited their interests and abilities. Evan was the professional salesman. Max was the indecisive pet-buyer, flitting around the store telling all the pets how fabulous and special and wonderful they are....Molly was the Queen of keeping the pets' food bowls filled (only occasionally requiring the clerk to call out over the loudspeaker, "Clean up in the Doggy Aisle!").

This game literally saved the day.

Lesson Learned:
Life is good when the kids are engaged.
Life is good when they play together.
Life is good when the stars of happiness and cooperation and turn-taking and sharing align.

Life is good when Max's plans are simple and don't require obnoxious accents.
Life will be GREAT when he gets to go back to school on Monday.

Holiday Wrap-Up, in pictures

My biggest wish for our family going into this holiday season was to maintain balance. I didn't want to overdo it on gifts or travel or social obligations or fun-and-festive-holiday-Must-Do-Activities just for the sake of doing any of it. I wanted December to be fun and festive and full of Do It If We Feel Like Doing It and It Isn't Going To Stress Us Out by Doing It Activities. 

And I think, for the most part, we struck just the right balance.

We had just the right amount of time for baking and decorating...


...for our annual Cookies and Cocktails Christmas party, for gifts for friends and family,


...and for our two school Gingerbread House Decorating Parties.


We had lots of family time, both at our house and after just a little, not too much, travel.

Grandpop and the dollhouse he made for Molly

dance party with Uncle Matt and Aunt Megan

"Story Time" with Uncle Mike. He needs to work on his story telling.

But we had lots of time for just our own little family to be together, too.


Between our phones and our camera, we took dozens and dozens of pictures of this scene.
This was the best one.

Max is the World's Best Sharer.
She wants everything that is his, all the time. 


But, as is necessary, we also had time apart. Time to play on our own. Time and space to breathe and decompress from all the craziness that the holiday time can bring.


The kids are getting to the ages (and the more independent personalities of the younger two help) of self-sufficient play. They are happy to spend time alone....the new toys from Santa and our generous family help, too.








And, sometimes, because we're a family, we even found ourselves alone, together.


It was the perfect balance for our family of sensitive, routine-craving, prone-to-overstimulation-meltdowns kids, who just won't sleep past 5:30 am, no matter how busy they've been, how late they've stayed up, or where they are. Someday, they'll sleep. And when that day comes, it may come with a hefty price tag; the magic of this season may be waning for them. So I won't rush them. The magic of Christmas was alive and well, nearly tangible, this year....I can't believe that someday that will change...will come to an end. So I'll gladly pay the price of sleeplessness. For that, there's always coffee. Peppermint Mocha coffee...........

Lesson Learned:
It really was the most wonderful time of our year. Next year, I hope we can recreate the same great balance...with all of the magic, but maybe with *a bit* more sleep...now to go power up the Keurig.