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

Thursday, January 24, 2013

snow day!

We all needed this snow day.

A day to let our on-the-verge-of-sick bodies rest and recuperate.

A day to be together with nowhere to go and nothing much to do.

A day to Just Play.

A day to let the wild animals roam free.

A day to lay back and enjoy the ride.

A day to snuggle...

...with big brother...

...and giant teddy.
{My sweet little still-recovering baby girl.}

A day for arts and crafts. 
{Be still my heart.}

We made Melted Crayon Hearts to give to our friends for Valentine's Day.
We've done this before, but here's the refresher:

1) Put the kids to work peeling crayons. This takes more time than you would think, so go ahead and pour yourself a cup of coffee.

2) When your crayons are all naked, snap a pretty picture and then snap the crayons into bits.

3) Place the bits and pieces into silicone molds. (We used mini hearts, large hearts, and large stars.)

4) In an oven preheated to 200 degrees, bake them for 20-30 minutes. 
I put the molded pans onto baking sheets in case they bubbled over.

5) Once they cool, pop the crayons out of the molds and attach to valentines.

So pretty.

Lesson Learned:
When I was a kid, my mom bought four gallons of milk each week. She wasn't hoarding, there were ten of us; we drank a lot of milk. In the winter, without fail, someone would glance at my mom's apparent stockpile in the cart and stop her: "Oh! Are they calling for snow?! I'd better grab a loaf of bread." 

People always assumed that my mom's fingers must be crossed that school wouldn't be cancelled for snow. What stay-at-home mom of eight would want their kids around all day, begging to be suited up to go out and play only to come in, freezing and wet, 20 minutes later begging for hot chocolate? Well, my mom, for one. She also counted down the days until summer vacation with us. And in late August, when other moms were rolling their eyes and longing for the First Day of School, my mom was at the pool with us, and only grudgingly buying school supplies and new backpacks.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there were (many) times that my mom would have gladly packed us up and shipped us off for a couple hours of Quiet. But she and my dad wanted a full house. They like full and noisy and busy and having eight kids kind of guarantees those things. They celebrated snow days and summer breaks because it meant a full house....all is right in the world when all the baby birds are warm in the nest. 

I like my nest full, too. I need to remind myself every now and then.
...Today was a great reminder.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

big girls don't cry

This girl?

Yup, this one right here.

She's a little bit sassy.

And, she's still my itty bitty baby...

But she's growing up. Fast.

This nurse-all-night, sleep-right-next-to-me baby is no longer a night nurser.

I night-weaned her. 
Cold turkey.
And she's in her own bed.
All night.

And she's fine with it.

I mean, she's up in the middle of the night looking for me... 

But she's never up for long...a minute or two, tops. 
And she settles herself down without much fight.

Where'd my baby go?

Oh, there you are.

Such a big girl already....almost didn't recognize you, Baby.

Lesson Learned:
[sniff, sniff] I'm so in love with this girl.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Evan got mad today.

But he kept his cool.

And picked up a pen.

"I am mad not hapee."

I pointed to the picture on the left, the "mad face."

"And is that okay?" I asked. He looked at me. "Yes....?" he responded, not quite confident. "Yup. Mad is okay. And you're still in control of your body. And that's great." I gave his shoulder a squeeze and slid the rest of the marker bin over to him. He picked out his colors and moved on.

Lesson Learned:
Progress. Real. Good. Progress.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

if it's broken

Before Christmas, the screaming was escalating. There were outbursts, tantrums, and meltdowns of Very High Decibels, and it wasn't coming from me. I was responding to them loudly (hence, my non-resolution of 2013), but they were starting with my children. One, in particular. And these meltdowns were, as they have before, threatening to make this house a very unpleasant place to be. But, like I said, we'd been here before and we'd gotten through it before through a series of behavior plans and incentive/consequence programs. Problem was, the usual stuff wasn't working. His currency had changed. And we were going to need to figure out what his New Currency was if we were going to have a chance at returning peace and order to our home.

Christmas and the New Year came and went and the tantrums continued. Not often, but Ugly....and this was POST-resolution, so the Yelling was only coming from one side of the battle (mostly). About a week ago, a bedtime-battle was waged, which we won (of course, because the parents have to win, right?) only to have it pick up again the next morning. Literally, at 6:07 am, Molly had JUST fallen back to sleep next to me after her 5am pre-breakfast breakfast, and my door flew open. A face, inches from mine, was drawn into Mad Face. "THE NIGHTLIGHT'S NOT RIGHT," he yelled. "Whaaa?" was my groggy response. "YOU PUT THE WRONG LIGHTBULB IN AND IT'S WHITE LIGHT AND IT SHOULD BE YELLOW AND YOU NEED TO FIX IT NOW AND I'M NOT EVER GOING TO SLEEP IN THAT BED AND YOU NEED TO FIX THAT LIGHTBULB RIGHT THIS MINUTE BECAUSE IT'S WRONG AND YOU DID IT."

At first I just looked at him. I was not going to yell. I tried to explain that we only had the new LED bulbs in the house and the light is different but not wrong. It's energy efficient! And aren't you lucky that I am such an organized and thoughtful Mommy to have spare bulbs in the first place so that you will always have a working nightlight. You can imagine how well reasoning with a screaming maniacal 5-year old works at 6:07 am. So, when that didn't work, I started yelling back. Good thing it wasn't a resolution or I would have been feeling pretty pathetic at that moment. Nah, resolution or not, it was pathetic. I needed to say something (calmly) that would diffuse the situation. But what? I needed to find his currency. And because the behavior I was witnessing was some of the nastiest behavior I have ever seen (short of the time one of my students kicked me, spat at me, and called me a "Stupid White Girl"), I was ready to Get Tough.

"If you scream at me in that out-of-control way One. More. Time....." I began, with the Mom Look and Tone, "I will take Everything You Love out of your room. I will pack it up in bins. I will put it in the basement storage room and You. Will. Not. Have. It. anymore. No more Ninjago. No more Ninja Turtles. No more Special Things Bins. No more books. No more buddies. Nothing left."

He looked at me. He wasn't shocked. Did he agree that I was being fair? I don't know. But he knew I was serious. "When will I get it back?" he asked in a not-yelling but not-exactly-pleasant voice. "When you start treating us with respect." And that was it. That was His Currency. Everything he loves. His most prized possessions. The things he keeps, not in the playroom, not out where he can access them at any point in the day, but tucked away in nooks and little spaces in his room. And every thing in its particular place. I need to take care when I dust to lift and replace each item, one at a time, or he'll know that his things have been Disturbed. I would disturb all of it and put it in bins. In the basement. It was horrible to say it...I couldn't imagine how it felt to hear.

But could I carry it out? I had to. I threatened it...if I failed to follow through I would Lose. Parenting Game Over.   And I had to because this was a Big One....coming out of his room at night is exhausting. Begging for screen time is annoying. Playing too rough with his little brother is, to some extent, to be expected. Potty talk? Developmentally appropriate (and sometimes funny). But RESPECT? That's big. It's forever. If he learns that he can scream at his parents, he'll start talking to others like that....like friends. And teachers. And someday, that nice police officer that pulls him over to warn him of a busted tail light and I'll have to bail my baby out of jail for disorderly conduct. And I will be so pissed.

So it starts now.

There will be no more out-of-control screaming....at us. We were very clear in telling him that it is okay to be upset. Everyone gets mad. Everyone gets frustrated. But not everyone screams at other people. We gave him some strategies. If you get so mad or upset that you think you're going to scream, go to your room. Scream. Stomp. Squeeze your pillow. Write in your journal. Cry on your bed. And then, you'll start to feel calm. When you're ready to talk it out, we will be, too. Talk to us and tell us why you're upset, or mad, or frustrated. We can help. We might not always give you what you want or tell you what you want to hear, but we'll listen to you.

In the days that followed, he's been calm. When he starts to grimace or furrow those brows, I say, "You look like you're about to scream. Either find a calm voice and talk to me or go to your room very quickly. If you scream at me, you lose everything." Mostly, he finds his calm voice. Once or twice, though, he's gone to his room. He doesn't scream, or stomp, or yell. He lays on his bed and cries. He's trying. His little body is working so hard. He's exhausted and he's giving everything he has to school, and friends, and siblings, and household expectations.....he's spent. And so he cries. And I follow him up to his room and tickle his back a minute and he calms down. And we move on with our day. No lecture, no screaming.


It's not perfect. I still feel like I'm diffusing a bomb when he starts to tense up, but I'm finding the words that work with him. And once, he did argue something fierce and lost Ninjagos for the next day, but he never lost control, never screamed, and didn't dispute the consequence that was given.

I'm trying to keep myself focused on what matters: Parents need to teach their children Respect. And they need to show their kids respect, too. I hope we never have to follow through on our Toughest Consequence Ever Threatened, but we will if we have to. But in the meantime, we'll teach him to express his intense emotions in a way that doesn't silence them, but keeps the peace in the house at the same time.

And I'll count to 10. And breathe deeply. A lot.

Lesson Learned:
If it's broken, fix it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

make-it-yourself Lego Table

This is the time of year that I (we?) rearrange. We all do this, I think, because we're looking around at our house that, just a few weeks ago was Just Right and then the holidays happened and now ohmygod -there-is-too-much-stuff. It's why Target features their Organization Aisle in January....bookcases, shelving units, bins, trays, labels and Sharpies....I could live in that aisle. 

So, anyway. I moved the play kitchen out of the playroom and into the kitchen. Molly needed something to keep her anchored to the kitchen while I'm busy in there. She's climbing stairs now...

...her favorite thing to do is to climb half-way up, turn around, wave and laugh at me, and scramble to the top as I race across the room to stand behind her. She's a feisty little Dragon. 

We packed up some toys for donation, moved some things around, and found new homes for new presents.  

But what was driving me absolutely nuts this post-holiday season, were the Legos. My God, the Legos. We had a pretty good collection before Christmas, but this year, Evan is obsessed with Ninjago and Santa found a Disney Princess Duplo set that had Max's name all over it. The boys are really good about keeping their tiny things off the floor (the crawling baby finds everything, of course) but that just means that there are Legos all over the tables, the counters, the couches....Legos Everywhere.

I had seen some DIY Lego Tables on Pinterest and I knew that was the direction we needed to go. I wanted a Lego "station," where all the pieces, sets, instruction booklets, etc., could be stored, but that would also double as a play space. The Pinterest tables use the $10 Ikea end table with Lego bases glued to the top. Cheap and easy, but it didn't solve my storage problem. 

This cabinet was bought by us as newlyweds to hold all of the platters, vases, serving bowls, and other pretty kitchen things we received as wedding gifts. When the kids arrived, it remained in the kitchen, but gained a child safety lock, and became an art cabinet that held all of the crayons, paints, play-doh tubs, and crafty bits and pieces needed to satisfy my artist. Most recently, it lived in our basement as a random-toy storage. 

Until today.

I hot-glued a couple of Lego bases to the top and filled it up with all of the Legos that Evan would allow me to take out of his room. (His most special Ninjagos live on his Special Things shelves and in the mini-figure "briefcase" he got from Mom Mom and Pop.)

The child safety locks stayed. Much to this little girl's dismay.

Although they're apparently necessary. I have no idea where she got those two spatulas she's holding. At least I thought enough to put the glue gun away.

FYI, Duplos fit on Lego bases.

I snapped a picture and turned around. She was at the easel "drawing" with capped markers. She was doing such a great job, I uncapped one and handed it to her. She stuck it immediately in her mouth.

Lesson Learned:
So take an old cabinet, fill it with Legos, and glue some Lego bases on the top. Or, go to Ikea, invest ten bucks in a table, and make a Lego station. And watch the baby. Seriously. She is On. The. Move.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


As Molly gets closer and closer to that big First Birthday, I'm finding myself reflecting more on that one word I've been throwing around here and there since her birth: complete.

I've written before how it first came to me:
Sam and I had always said that our Baby Number would be three or four. Neither of us were committed to one over the other because there, of course, were so many unknowns at play... would we have three and feel a hole in our hearts, like there was one more still out there for us? Would we have our third baby and feel as though we had more than enough on our plates and couldn't handle a fourth? Would it take too much time, or medical intervention, to get pregnant? Perhaps our decision would be rooted in finances...or the health of either of us or one of our kids. Maybe our first baby would NEVER SLEEP and we'd decide we didn't have the stamina to have more (Phew! Sure glad we had that second baby....and third....while still firmly sleep deprived!) We just knew that, at some point, we'd know. And I hoped that we would both come to the same decision independently...but at the same time.

While pregnant with Molly, it occurred to me that I should, more than either time before, take it all in. Pay attention to everything. Write more. Focus more. Reflect more....because it might be the last time my body does something as big and beautiful as grow a baby. And once labor started, that general sense continued and I was lucky to be able to enjoy a fast and easy unmedicated labor. In that final moment of labor, that instant before my baby breathed her first breath and was handed to me to for the first time, an awareness filled me: This is It, I suddenly knew, Remember Everything. You'll never experience labor again. And before I even had a chance to process this new knowledge, I heard that baby girl cry and I was swept into present tense and was overcome with love...my heart now three times divided, but more whole than it had ever been. And it was good.

In the days that followed, those words echoed again and again in my head and I couldn't help but wonder about them. I knew it wasn't a conscious thought I had had...it was my heart. It was full. It was complete. It was grateful. And it was Happy.

Our family of five. 


I mentioned it, in passing, during a conversation with my mom the other day. I don't remember how it came up, but I mentioned that Molly is our last baby and my mom said, "Really? You're sure? How do you know?" She wasn't questioning the truthfulness of my statement or debating anything...she was truly curious. My mom and dad had eight children. My mom had my youngest sister at the age of 39...and not just 39, but 39 WITH SEVEN OTHER CHILDREN. Her body and her head told her that eight would be enough. Truth is, if her heart had had the final say, she may have had more. Other friends of mine decide before baby-having has even begun: "We'll only have two," they say, and they stick to it because their heads and hearts are on board from the get go. Others come to the decision for practical reasons...age, money, space, level-of-chaos in the home, etc. And for some women (and men, too, I'm sure...I just haven't had this conversation with any), the choice is made for them. Their bodies can't safely handle another pregnancy. Their bank account can't afford another round of fertility treatment. Their spouse is Done. And, whatever the reason, they must stop. And their heads and hearts carry around a feeling of incompleteness for some length of time...maybe forever.

I feel so lucky that it was my heart that decided. I'm usually a thinker. A planner. A list-maker, researcher, explore-every-option-er. And sometimes, after all that thinking and deciding, I'm left wondering if I did, indeed, make the right decision. Because once you've thought your way onto one path, you're still left with the knowledge of what almost led you down another. It's different when the heart decides. There's no second guessing....there's only one path. It just is, so you go with it. It feels free.

After knowing what this feels like, I'd like to offer up to the Universe: This year, let me learn to quiet my head and follow my heart more.

Lesson Learned:
And as content as I feel with this decision that was made (for me, not by me), the best part is that Sam feels exactly the same way.

Friday, January 4, 2013

looking forward


It was a big year. 

We put our house on the market. We started building a new house. We sold our house. We welcomed a Dragon Lady. We traveled halfway across the country for a family wedding. We moved in to a new house in a new town. We traveled even further across the country for another family wedding. We sent our little boy off to preschool for the first time. We sent our big boy off to Kindergarten. We said Goodbye to my Grandpop....the patriarch. We settled. We grew. We struggled. We succeeded. We played. We learned. We yelled. We laughed. We cried. We loved.

And then, over the last two weeks.....we exhaled.

Looking back, it was good. It was so good. 

And looking forward? I'm optimistic for a quieter, though no less momentous year. 

This year, we're in our dream home. No real estate agents. No prepping for showings. No hearing about my home's shortcomings by people who aren't Serious Buyers anyway. No packing and moving and unpacking and settling in. We're already here....where we're meant to be.

We're traveling...but not by plane. And not with an infant. We'll go to the beach a few times....travel to be with family....that's it. And it will be by car. I mean...VAN. And it will be just right....just enough. Sometimes you don't need to go anywhere to get away.

This year, we Go To School. We are not "getting ready for" school or "starting" school. We already Do. We Go To School. We get on the bus happily and say goodbye to Mommy without tears. We are pretty well adjusted to the rigors of school (although Friday evenings still tend to be the hardest nights of the week) and we're getting adjusted to the new Social Scene of school. We're making friends....real friends....friends that aren't in our lives because they're the kids of our parents' friends, but friends that we choose and who choose us back. And, what's best? We LOVE our teachers. When Evan started sulking about having to do some homework over break, I said, "Well, Mrs. C thought this would be a great way to keep your brain working while you're out of school." That boy climbed right up into his seat and grabbed his scissors and glue. When he had finished, he said, "That wasn't so bad. That Mrs. C sure knows how to keep my brain working!" We're over the hump. Every first day of school from here on out will surely be (slightly) less anxiety-inducing than the one already behind us. And that feels great.

Starting this year, for the first time, we're a family of five. And for the first time, we're whole. I can picture Us moving into the future as a unit...Sam, Sarah, Evan, Max, and Molly. We're not missing anyone. We're all present and accounted for. I've never felt this way before. I feel complete. I just love this.

2013 will be a good year.

But that's not to say there's nothing for us to work on to make it even better. So, even though I'm not a "resolutions" person, here's my list of "things I'm going to practice over the coming year."

There Will Be No More Yelling In This House
Not by me and, hopefully, eventually, not by the kids. This house can be loud. I'm craving peace and civility and yelling is not the way to accomplish either of those goals. I've been practicing this for a few months now. I'm getting better. I still get frustrated when, for the fourth time in a row, my request is ignored, but I have a new strategy. Now, instead of saying in a Yelling Voice, "MAX, PUT YOUR SHOES ON. NOW." I say, in a firm but definitely Not-Yelling Voice, "Max, I've asked you to put your shoes on three times using a nice voice. If I have to ask you again, it's going to be in a loud, grumpy voice that I don't want to use and you don't want to hear." It's not a perfect strategy, I realize. Parenting Handbooks would tell me to "get down on his level," and "repeat my expectations," and maybe even to count to some prescribed number. But sometimes, when I'm trying to get three kids out the door on time, I just can't find it in me to follow the rules. So my method may be imperfect, but it works. It gets his attention. It buys me time. It keeps us moving in the direction we need to move without me raising my voice. And hopefully, by following my example, my boys will learn to use the power of their vocabulary and not the volume of their voice to be heard.

My Phone Will Stay On The Counter, Not In My Hand
I've gotten into the annoying habit of having my phone within arm's reach at all times. I check my email and facebook pages too many times per day. My kids are going to start to notice. I don't want them to. I will, of course, keep it accessible for Instagram-ops, but my status updates can wait until naptime.

My kids will only be five-and-a-half, three, and almost-one for just this moment. I'll never have an almost-one year old again. I don't want to miss a thing. Putting the phone down will help this.

Read More
And not just blogs or my Pulse News app.

Dance More
We started having after-dinner dance parties in December, dancing to Christmas Music on Pandora.  When I hold her and start to move in time, Molly melts against me. She lays her head on my shoulder and there's honestly nothing else I'd rather be doing. Sam and Evan do the pretzel and Max, as one might expect, is dancing in the middle of the room like no one else is watching. It's my zen.

In 2013, I want More Zen.

Lesson Learned:
And away we go!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

tooth and consequences

About three weeks ago, Evan tripped while going upstairs. It was an unprecedented event. Evan rarely injures himself. He is sure-footed and agile to a degree, but more than that, Evan is Careful. He watches. He thinks. He practices in his mind. And then, when he's ready and only when he's ready, he Does. I never needed to, though I did, worry as I stood beneath him while he climbed on a playground. He doesn't fight me on the helmet issue when riding his bike. He's even worn a life preserver while running around on the driveway. 

Safety first! 

And so, when we heard that step, step, step, step, THUD! We both jumped up and ran to him. His front tooth had hit the step (and bitten a tiny chunk out of the wood, actually) and there was blood...but not much, and the tooth, though maybe a teensy bit wiggly wasn't noticeably loose. And once the crying stopped, it didn't seem like it had been that bad of a fall. Evan never mentioned tooth pain or discomfort while biting or chewing in the three weeks that followed.

Over the past weekend, though, the tooth started to darken. We immediately Googled it and, based on the symptoms and the timing, pretty confidently diagnosed him with a bruised tooth. It might stay discolored until it falls out or it may lighten back to its original color. We should watch it for signs of infection (swelling gums, pain, etc.) but there's not much to do about it, so there's no real reason to have him checked out by the dentist.

But, of course, like my Boy, I'm a "it's better to be safe than sorry" kind of Mama, so this morning, I called the dentist. After detailing the story to the nurse, she agreed that it wasn't necessary for me to bring him in, but that she'd run it by the dentist. He, too, said to keep an eye on it and that I didn't need to but I could bring him in....for peace of mind.

I took the first available appointment.

After checking Evan's tooth, Dr. M said, again, that it looked like a classic bruised tooth. It may be wiggly, but it may have started to loosen even before the injury...he is of or approaching Tooth Fairy age, after all. And then he said, "And it's not necessary, but since he hasn't had any x-rays yet, I could take some films to really make sure we're not missing any internal signs of infection."

And that's when I started operating not on Brain Functioning or Rational Thinking, but on....I don't know what....it wasn't even Mother's Intuition because my gut was telling me that he is fine. Because he IS.

A few months ago, I read (but don't quote me on it because I can't remember the source) that the new recommendation is to delay dental x-rays in children until 6-8 years old and then repeat them only every two or three years thereafter barring any need (injury, excessive cavities, etc.). The thought being that exposing kids to even minimal doses of radiation through yearly dental x-rays is just plain unnecessary. Sam and I talked about it and decided that, based on our own good dental health, that we would follow the As-Few-As-Necessary x-ray schedule for the kids.

So my brain should have said, "You know what? Let's hold off. We'll take a set at his next appointment when he's closer to six years old." Instead, my mouth said, "Yes. Let's take a look."

And so they covered him in lead blankets, instructed me and the two tagalongs out into the hallway and in less than half a second, Dr. M was looking at the monitor where the images had been immediately sent. Dr. M looked at the screen, head tilted slightly to one side.....brows furrowed....cupped hand to chin....You can picture it. It's the universal pose for "Hmmmm. Now THAT'S interesting."

Which is exactly what you don't want your kid's dentist to be thinking as he's looking at your kid's x-rays.

"What? What is it? What do you see?" I started back into the room before the lead jackets had even been removed.

Dr. M pointed. "You see here? There are the front teeth...that's the one that was injured."

"Yes, looks fine to me....just like the other one, right? Or no? What am I missing?"

"No, no, you're right. I don't see any indication of infection. His tooth is fine. Look above it...see these here? Those are his permanent teeth coming in. They're still quite high."

"Oh, so if his tooth falls out, the replacement might not be right behind it? He'll have a gap? Oh. Well...."

"Well, maybe, but look HERE." And he points to the space between the two permanent teeth.

He points to ANOTHER tooth.

"What is that?" I ask.

"It looks an awful lot like a permanent canine tooth."


"And it's upside down."


What. The. Hell.

So when Evan's front teeth fall out, a CANINE TOOTH WILL APPEAR, UPSIDE DOWN, IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS SMILE. Or it won't. I don't know yet. Dr. M doesn't know yet. We'll need more x-rays (but he assured me that we're not in a rush to do those....the tooth isn't going anywhere). And we'll need to consult with an orthodontist once we know if this is a superfluous tooth or if it's one of Evan's canines that migrated out of place. And then we'll need to figure out if they'll need to move it or extract it or implant a fake tooth as a space-holder or....any number of potential outcomes because, as Dr. M said...."That's something you certainly don't see everyday."

That Evan. He's an Original.

Lesson Learned:
But he's actually following the Bizarre Dental Issues of his uncles....one of my brothers was born without his permanent canines. After wearing a retainer with fake-tooth spacers for a few years (and totally grossing us out by placing it next to his dinner plate) he now has permanent implants. You'd never know. My other brother was having his wisdom teeth removed a few years ago when they found that he had an extra! We always knew he was a smarty.

I know this isn't a catastrophic diagnosis. It does give me a pit in my stomach, though, as I consider what he may have to go through to fix this (extraction? surgery? orthodontic nightmares??)....but that's several years away in all likelihood, so for now, I should just relax. And rest assured that his black tooth, the reason went to the dentist in the first place, is Fine.

I can't help but wonder, though....the day during my pregnancy that little tooth buds were migrating to their correct locations in his teensy tiny embryonic mouth....what happened? Did I hiccup? Eat something too spicy? And isn't it amazing, after seeing something that went wrong during his fetal development, to sit back and marvel at the countless tiny things, and big things, that went So Right?

Life is beautiful.

But man, that might be one funny looking grin.