Sunday, December 30, 2012

...and may all your Christmases be white!

First big snow of the season! It's a few days after Christmas, but we'll take it.
Too bad Baby A hated being out in the snow. Maybe next year...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

May your days be merry and bright...

Since I'm not sure how many more years they'll agree to wear them, I just couldn't resist the matching PJs!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Oh-Oh and Ton-Ton"

Baby A was slow to start talking. We discussed this with our pediatrician at our 15 and 18 month appointments and agreed that we would consider a referral to Early intervention if he didn't start talking in the next few months. Thankfully, over the next few months he did start talking more and more. One day in the fall, I made a list of his words to track his progress. At that time he was saying:

"Sept 19, 2012 -20 months- Dada,  Choo choo, Aff aff (what a dog says), Sit, Up, Uh oh, fall down, Stuck!, Outside, Shoes, Voom (what a car says), Maow (what a cat says), Moo, Wafa (waffle), Plane, Dat (that), Ball, Bup (cup), Off, Train, All done, Where's the ball?, Bar (fruity bar)"

Of note, he was still not saying "mama". Yes, despite me being a SAHM, and nursing Baby A until 19 months, he still had no name for me! It took a few weeks after I made that list, well into 21 months, before he started saying "mama" consistently. And just a couple weeks later he started saying "iPah". At least I beat the addictive purveyor of Thomas apps and videos! But not by much...

Baby A still had no names for his brothers, until last week when he started attempting to say their names. His version: "Oh-Oh!" & "Ton-Ton!" It's so cute to hear him call out to them!  And now that he can identify his brothers, he can also rat them out. After he started crying while playing with C & O in the other room, I heard "WAAAAAHHH!!! Ton-Ton!!! OUCH!!!" Yup. Now he can identify the culprit, who in this case had knocked him off a chair. Only took 23 months for a new player to emerge in the never ending blame game!

I love this phase where every day there is a new word and I can see his language starting to explode. I know soon he will probably say C & O's names correctly, but I never want to forget his first names for them. Baby A still isn't able to say his own name, so for now he calls himself "Baby".

Happy Holidays from "Baby", "Oh-Oh" and "Ton-Ton"

Monday, December 10, 2012

Letters to Santa

It's that time of year again!

For the first time, O wrote his letter himself! This was quite an accomplishment. At O's kindergarten conference last week, his teacher expressed some concern that O has quite a bit of difficulty forming letters and suggested that we find fun ways to practice writing at home. And what could be more fun than a letter to Santa?!

My favorite part was the "And Money". When I asked him why, he said "Because then I will give C the money so he can buy me a DS!" (in case Santa doesn't bring one, I guess...)

C happily wrote his own letter.

Clearly he's very into angry birds at the moment.

Santa had better get to work!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hopes & Dreams

C: "Mom, guess what I wrote for my hope and dream for second grade?"

Me: "What?"

C: "My hope and dream for second grade is to learn more about geometry!!"


Definitely his father's son....

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Back to School Survey

O started Kindergarten last week. C, now an experienced second grader, didn't seem too phased by the start of school, but O was much more hesitant. Thankfully, despite a few tearful anticipatory days, the actual start went smoothly and he came home brimming with excitement about all his new "best friends". It apparently only takes half a day to earn that moniker in his book! In an attempt to learn more about each child, O's teacher sent home a list of questions to ask our children. We had to record the answers word for word and send the responses back to school.

I thought some of O's answers were funny, so I wanted to write them down!

What are some things you like to do?
"Play video games, play board games, and play outside."

What is reading?
"Reading is when you look at a book and you can read out loud and also in your head."

Why do you need to know how to read?
"So you can be a school teacher and read books to the kids."

Can you read? "Yes"
If yes, what do you read?
"I read Curious George and other books."

How did you learn to read?
"I watched Mommy read, so I got it."

How do you think you will learn to read?
"I already know how!"

What is writing?
"Writing is when you write something on a piece of paper, but if you make a mistake it's ok."

Do you like to write? "Kind of"
If no, why not?
"Because it's a bit tiring."

Why do people write?
"Because they want to tell other people what they wrote."

Ready to take on the world!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Journal Fodder

C's teacher encouraged him to continue to work on his writing by keeping a journal this summer. The inspiration for his first entry came last Saturday.

I'm not sure why he decided to add lines to his already lined paper. It makes the text hard to read. So here it is...

"One day I bumped my head and went to the hospital and got staples."

Yup. That happened. Darn street fair Touch-a-Truck!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

School's Out!

School's out for the summer! It's been a mixed bag for the kids. They're excited to have vacation but also sad to be leaving their current teachers. I remember those feelings well, so I wasn't too surprised when they were a moody mess to start the week. But we're settling into the groove. I got them each a special "Congrats on finishing the year" present which helped distract them a bit. C got the World Almanac for Kids 2012 edition, which he has been asking for since he used the 2008 one in his classroom--how could I say no to a book request?? O got the game Twister. He first played at his preK end of the year party and hasn't stopped talking about since--it was convenient that I saw it on clearance at the grocery store soon after. I also overloaded our first few free days with playdates so that helped set the tone for fun.

This is our first summer in our new house, and the boys are really enjoying having their own yard to play in. We broke out the sprinkler for the first time a couple days ago and they have asked for it every day since. O has spent so much time on the swing set that he finally learned to pump his own legs and no longer needs to be pushed!! I can not tell you how much this has changed my life. Now instead of whining for me, he just goes out and swings. So awesome!

I am not doing too well with my 10 book summer challenge. I got most of the way through a book that I was really enjoying, but then I put it down and it got kicked under the couch so it was out of sight, out of mind. By the time I found it again, I'd already been sucked into a new obsession--the now defunct show Friday Night Lights, which we have free on demand. Hubby started watching it a few months ago when he was home with a stomach bug and kept raving about how good it was. I had no interest in this show, because why would I want to watch a show about football??? I just ignored his commentary and he ended up watching all five seasons by himself. But then a couple weeks ago, there were no interesting movies on so Hubby suggested that I watch the first episode and see if I liked it. He enjoyed the show so much he was eager to watch it again! I was still skeptical but figured why not? It turns out that while the show is based around a football team, it is really a family drama with a lot of interesting characters. I have gotten totally sucked into it and am now midway through season 3. I'm definitely glad I gave it a chance, and wish I had watched it when it was actually on.  I wonder if it never truly developed a huge fan base because everyone thought it was just about football...poor marketing on their part, because it's so much more than that!

But that book was really good too, so I need to pick it up again! C & O signed up for the summer reading program at the library so they are motivated to read and log their books now. Hope they can get me going again too.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Adventures and Summer Book Challenge

There's only two weeks of school left which means summer is just around the corner. The big boys will go to a couple of weeks of 1/2 day camp, but otherwise our summer is pretty wide open. I'm hoping to have a good mix of lazy days and day trips. For the last few years we've had fun making a list of possible summer adventures and then crossing them off once the mission is accomplished. I might have forgotten to make a list this year, but C was quick to remind me a few days ago. Here's our preliminary list of possibilities for Summer 2012...

2012 Summer Adventures List

  1. Art Museum
  2. Children's museum
  3. Visit Gramma & Grampa
  4. Visit Auntie A
  5. Go to the Farm
  6. Zoo
  7. Beach
  8. Swimming at the Pond
  9. Bowling
  10. Mini Golf
  11. Strawberry Picking
  12. Blueberry Picking
  13. Woods Treasure/Scavenger Hunt
  14. Go for a Hike
  15. Visit local Sculpture Park
  16. Have a picnic
  17. Bike Ride
  18. Science Museum
I've also always equated the lazy days of summer with long hours of reading. I will probably never actually get to read for hours, but I do want to read more, even if it's in little snippets here and there. So I'm going to challenge myself to read more again. I really enjoyed reading 50 books in 2010. 2011 was a wash in terms of reading--Baby A drained pretty much all of my energy and motivation! But now that it's halfway through 2012, maybe I can get back into it again. 25 books seems too daunting though, so...I'm challenging myself to read and blog about 10 books this summer!
Let's see if I've done it by the time school starts in September!! Anyone else want to join me in a back to the books challenge?

What are you up to this summer? I'd welcome any suggestions for reading or adventures!!


Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Artist

One of O's favorite school experiences this year was "the art unit". Every year, the director of our preschool spends several weeks at the end of the year teaching the pre-K students about art. They talk about what art is, learn about specific artists, and try out many different styles and media. The in-depth art adventure culminates with a trip to the local art museum and the grand opening of their own art gallery in the school gym. I remember this unit well from 2 years ago when C learned that "We are all Artists." I knew C enjoyed it, so I was interested to see what O would think.

In general, O does not love art. Or writing. Or working particularly hard. All year, we have gotten the feedback that O is very bright, but just does the bare minimum on his assignments so he can get back to playing with his friends. And what he produces is generally simplistic. As his teacher said at his final conference, "He does exactly what is asked of him, and nothing more." So I was anticipating that this art unit might be a little torturous for him. Boy, was I wrong!

Each day O came home bursting with information about the artist & style they had studied that day. Unlike C, who told me cryptic bits and pieces that I didn't really understand, O reported the names of the artists and styles with ease. And his teachers kept commenting on how hard he was working on all his art projects.

After the trip to the museum, O reported, "My favorite piece was the Chihuly. And the mobiles and stabiles by Alexander Calder. But we didn't get to see the Mondrian, because that gallery was closed. But we did see some Jackson Pollack!"

Me: (!!!) "What's a Chihuly?"

O: "Mom, don't you know? Chihuly is an artist who makes things out of glass. And it looked like a giant floating tree but it was really made of glass."

Nope. I didn't know that. I've never even heard of Chihuly. I love that O is teaching me things!

The next day, his art gallery opened, and O was thrilled that Hubby was able to join us for the exhibition. O took his responsibilities as our "docent" very seriously and led us around the room explaining all of the works. Just a sampling of some of the display (which included line art, shape composition, color composition, artistic interpretation, pop art, photo montage, abstract expressionism, kinetic art, and quilting). I think it's quite a collection for 5 years olds!

Looks like we'll have to plan a trip to the art museum this summer, so O can teach us even more about art!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

For the Birds

A few weeks ago, I took down one of the hanging pots on our porch and was very surprised to find this inside...

The boys were so excited to see the nest, and since I noticed that the Mommy bird seemed to be tending to it regularly, we were optimistic that some of the eggs might actually hatch. We took the pot down every few days to take a quick peek and soon saw our first hatchling!

And over the next few days, all the eggs hatched. We discovered that newly hatched birds are kind of funny looking without their feathers!

My mom said that baby birds are "all mouths" and she was right. Can't you just imagine him wailing "I'm hungry!!"

Mommy bird is doing a good job feeding them, because they sure are growing. We've been careful to only peek at the nest for a couple seconds every few days, and we never touch the birds, to make sure we don't scare her away.

They're so cute sleeping all huddled up together...and now they really look like birds! Feathers and all! I wonder how soon the nest will be empty because the birds will have grown up enough to fly away.

My mom suggested keeping the nest as a souvenir after the birds have abandoned it. At first I thought that was a great idea, until I realized how much baby birds poop. You can barely even see the nest now. It just looks like the birds are sleeping in a poop circle. Gross.

But those birds sure are cute!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


End of the school year craziness is definitely in full swing around here! This month between C & O, there are 3 field trips, a play, an art gallery presentation, final conferences, soccer, TBall, swimming and piano lessons. Not to mention all the scrambling I am doing to figure out what they are going to do this summer. Add to that Hubby traveling to Europe during school vacation and one of the boys bringing lice home from school (A parenting rite of passage that I definitely could have lived without!), Baby A finally being on the verge of walking, and I feel like I've just been swept up by a whirlwind!  I know this month will fly by, and then I'll have to wrap my head around having a second grader, a kindergartener, and a toddler. 


But life is good.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Springtime Splendor!

I've been so thrilled with how our adventure with bulbs is turning out. First the crocuses appeared and now we have beautiful daffodils and tulips! Definitely a success! I had no idea that some of the tulips would be hot pink. I love them! Can't wait to plant even more next fall!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

And then I made a Super Mario Cake.

O's birthday always sneaks up on me. It's only 6 weeks after C's birthday and that seems like a lot of time but it really isn't. So some years I just don't have a lot of creative fire when it comes to his cake. It doesn't help that most years he requests the same cake that C had. This year was no different. "I want the same cake as C had, Mom!" O said. "But with a Mario face instead of a Luigi face because Mario is MY favorite."

That would have been easy enough to do since I already figured out a method for the Luigi cake a few weeks ago. But this year I was determined to make O something special and unique.  I wanted to try to create a Super Mario scene.  But how to do it?

Luckily I was able to find a few mini figures on Amazon to help me flesh it out. (Hooray for 2 day Prime shipping since I only thought to order them a few days beforehand!) I made my typical two round cakes, but split one in half and stacked it to make the backdrop for the scene. Then I added icing for bushes, clouds, coins, and to cover an oreo cookie pipe.

The results?  A grumpy baby who was upset over being ignored, a very sore back from hunching over the cake for hours, and this....

I was a little worried that O wouldn't like it since it wasn't the Mario face he asked for, but thank goodness, he thought it was awesome!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Please take your own advice!

Yesterday, O came home from school in a very whiny mood. Everything was a problem. It took too long for me to make his sandwich, I didn't put it on the right plate, it wasn't fair that I was making him a sandwich in the first place because he only wanted to eat cookies, etc, etc, etc.  I knew he just needed a rest, so I said he could lie down on the couch and watch TV for a bit once he'd finished his lunch. I just asked him to drink some of his milk first. But apparently that was just too much to ask, because for the next few minutes he lay on the floor sobbing and screaming over and over:

"But Mom! It's not fair! DRINKING ISN'T ANY PART OF FUN!!!"

That's right, son. Make sure you remember that when you're in college!

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Funny Valentine

A few days before Valentine's Day, C came home from school brimming with excitement.

C: "Mom! Wait until you see what I made! It's a special Valentine's Day surprise!"
Me: "Oh. Well, maybe I shouldn't look at it until Valentine's Day then?"
C: "No, no, you can look at it now. Look what I made in school today!"

C pulled a beautiful handmade card out of his backpack. As he handed it to me, I could already tell that it was a masterpiece! The front of the card was filled with heart shaped stickers, glitter, and other festive decorations. C had clearly put a lot of effort into this one! I looked down at the card and saw "Dear Mom" at the top. "Awwww..." I thought, "Look at this beautiful Valentine's Day card C made me! And he's so excited about it, he just can't wait to give it to me!" I noticed that he had scribbled over the 'Dear Mom' with pink highlighter. "That must be for emphasis," I thought, "He was even trying to decorate the words themselves because he loves me so much!"

And then I kept reading...

The next few lines read "Dear Ms. T, Happy Valentines Day! You are so nice! I love you! C"


Me: "C? Is this card for your teacher?!"
C: "Yes! Do you think she'll like it? I really hope she likes it!!"
Me: "Well, it's beautiful, so I'm sure she'll love it....But why does it say 'Dear Mom' on the top?"
C: "Oh yeah...well, I started making a card for you. But then Liam said he was going to make a card for Ms. T. And I thought that was a great idea because I REALLY love Ms. T! So I crossed out the 'Dear Mom' and made it for Ms. T instead!"


C: "And then I brought it home so she wouldn't see it before Valentine's Day. It's going to be a surprise! Do you really think she'll like it, Mom?! Don't let me forget to take it to school on Valentine's Day!"
Me: "It's really special C! I think Ms T. really will love it!" I put a big smile on my face and gave C a big hug. "I'm so happy you like your teacher so much!"

But I couldn't help being a little sad inside. I would have treasured that card and probably kept it in C's memory box for years. Ms. T probably gets so many cards from students, that it wouldn't really be special to her. Hubby must have sensed my dismay because he said to C, "C, I think that's a beautiful card that you made for Ms. T. But you know what you have to do? You need to make a card that's just as nice for Mommy for Valentine's Day. Because you love her too, right?" C replied matter of factly, "Well, I would Dad. But I can't. Because I don't have any of those cool stickers. That stuff was just for at school."

Oh well.

I dutifully saved the extra special card on the kitchen counter, and on Valentine's Day I put it in C's school folder so he could bring it back to Ms T.  When he came home from school, I asked, "Did Ms. T like your card?" C beamed and said, "Mom, she said it was so nice! And then she gave me a big hug! I think she really liked it!"

Well done, Ms. T. She really is a great teacher, and I am happy that C loves her so much.

I just wish I'd thought to make a copy of the card before C took it back to school. It's not every day your name gets scribbled off the front of a love note from your child. I think I'll remember that card...the one that was almost mine...for a long time.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Let's Get Away!

As I mentioned in my previous post, we had a wonderful vacation in Florida last month. It was so nice for all of us to spend a week together. Since Hubby works long hours during the week, and I work on the weekends, "family days" (as we call the days where everyone is home), don't happen as often as we'd like. So to spend a long stretch of time together as a whole family was really great. We spent the first part of our vacation visiting my inlaws and the second part at Disney World!

The boys had a wonderful time checking out the ocean...

...and the new Red Sox spring training stadium...

...meeting some characters...


 ...enjoying the fireworks...

...riding the rides (Toy Story Mania was C & O's favorite)...

...and, in the case of Baby A, plenty of snoozing...although the rest of us can't say the same!

Yup, it was exhausting! But, we can't wait to go back again!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Luigi Cake

A few weeks ago C turned 7. The boys are currently obsessed with Wii and Super Mario Games, so it was no surprise that C requested a "Luigi" cake. Due to his food allergies, I can't just order him a beautiful bakery cake.  So I am always trying to figure out how to accommodate the theme he requests into my very basic homemade cakes. I think the best cake I've ever made was probably the Chick Hicks cake I made for C when he was 5. I set the bar too high with that one though, because now I never feel like I quite live up to that cake! When C requested a Luigi cake, he was imagining a vertical cake carved in the shape of Luigi. But since we had just returned from a great trip to Florida the night before, I was exhausted. I could only really work on the cake while baby A was sleeping, which was when I also wanted to be sleeping. I knew there was no way I'd have the mental sharpness to figure out how to make a full body Luigi cake. Especially not a vertical one! So instead, I looked online for pictures of Luigi, and when I found a satisfactory 2D image, I printed it out, enlarged it, cut out just the face, and used that as a template. After using a toothpick to trace the outline on the cake, to make sure the overall shape was right, I freehanded the rest of the face with icing. It didn't come out quite how I was envisioning, but C said "Wow, Mom! That looks just like Luigi! I thought you were going to make a whole Luigi, but the face is just perfect!"

That's good enough for me!

Hubby insists that there must always be an extra candle on the cake ("One for good luck!").

Now to figure out what to do for the Mario cake O requested for his birthday....

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

First Grade Poetry

C has been working on a poetry unit in school. On his report card a few weeks ago, his teacher commented that C "wrote a beautiful poem about snow." I had no idea what she was talking about, but it all made sense when he came home with this today.

He informed me that "'Soaking flakes on the grownd' is my poetic name for snow."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Grownup Display

When Hubby and I got engaged in 2001, my future mother-in-law insisted that we register for fancy china. "You'll want to have it for when you host Christmas!" she said. That seemed so far down the road, and I would have put off registering for that sort of thing, being fairly un-fancy by nature. But she insisted that Hubby's relatives wanted to give us nice dishes, so we finally settled on a pretty white and light green Wedgwood set. I still remember the excitement of checking our wedding registry, seeing what had been purchased, and then waiting for the boxes to arrive in the mail. We got so much mail back then! I don't think we've ever received so many packages since. We were well on our way to having fancy dishware for life.

There was just one flaw in the plan.  When we got married, I was just starting my first job, Hubby was still a student, and we lived in a tiny apartment. We had barely any counter space, only a handful of cabinets, and no room for anything. There was barely space for our regular plates, never mind fancy china. So we took a couple of place settings to use on our anniversary, and the rest of the gifts stayed boxed up in my in-laws storage room, waiting for us to have enough room for them. Since that first apartment, we've lived in 3 other apartments, but none of them had the room for our fancy dishware. So my in-laws have been storing our wonderful gifts for 10 years!

This house finally has a dining room, and space for our fancy dishes. But there was still a problem...over the years, we had never acquired any dining room furniture! Luckily, my in-laws decided they wanted to get us a dining room set as a housewarming present. It took several outings before we finally settled on a set, but it was finally delivered last week. My father-in-law delivered all of our wedding boxes several months ago, and they have been sitting in our garage since then. So it felt great to finally open up all the boxes and display all of the china that family and friends so lovingly gave us 10 years ago! It was also a fun trip down memory lane, as I found many handwritten cards tucked in with the gifts. It feels great to finally have all our things in our home! And I'm sure my in-laws are happy to have their storage space back. I really like how the room is coming together! My mother-in-law was right, now I am grateful to have all these lovely pieces.

Looking at the finished product, I remarked to Hubby, "Now that we have a china cabinet, I really feel like we are grownups!" And he agreed.

Not sure why the three kids didn't get the same point across!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring has Sprung!

We've really been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather so far this year. This week it's been feeling more like summer than the early days of spring. Amazingly enough, despite my total lack of gardening know-how, we are seeing some flowers in the front yard. It was thrilling to see the very first bloom--our first gardening success in our new home! I immediately took this picture and sent it to my mom! She always told me that I would get excited about gardening when it was for my own yard, and I guess she was right.

Our very first crocus!

It's been even more fun to see more crocuses popping up every where. The boys love counting up the number of flowers we have so far--I think we're up to 52 crocuses!--and they can't wait to see if we'll have similar success with the tulips and daffodils we planted in the fall.

We've also noticed that there are some new leaves popping up in places where we didn't plant anything. It will be interesting to see what those turn out to be. Hopefully a beautiful parting gift from the previous owners of this house.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

No longer "brand new!"

Baby A turned one. Two months ago.

I know. I can't believe it either. My sidebar is so out of date.

I also can't believe I didn't blog about it. Maybe I am in denial. In a lot of ways, he still feels brand new to me. After all, he's still nursing, and still waking up at night wanting to hang out with me.

But in other ways, he's clearly been around a while. He crawls away the moment my attention is diverted for a second, especially straight up the stairs. He's obsessed with his "Dada". When Hubby gets home from work, I might as well disappear. A close second to "Dada" is Backyardigans.

Yes, Baby A has a favorite show. That's what happens when you're the 3rd child. Your mom is much more likely to let you watch TV. After all, TV means she can sit down with a cup of coffee or change a load of laundry. I sort of feel guilty about that. But I also sort of don't.

Hopefully he's not too worse for wear. 

Baby A would rather pose with the Backyardigans than with me!

Friday, March 16, 2012

It's been too long...

OK. Clearly I stink at blogging. I keep meaning to sit down and write, but never seem to get around to it. I really wish I had documented more of the last year. It's been amazing and exhausting, funny and frustrating to have 3 boys, but life just never seems to sit still enough for me to really reflect on it. Yesterday, when C brought up April Fools Day, I realized that I still remember vividly the funny little things I blogged about in the past, like when he played a confusing April Fools joke on me when he was 5.  He's 7 now... 

There are so many other things I've forgotten. So many things about which I thought "I've got to write that down!" but then didn't. Now I have no idea what those things were. I'm so glad I documented our April Fools exchange because it still makes me chuckle. And I'm sure I would have forgotten it otherwise.

How is it possible that I have a 7 year old anyway? Has that much time really passed since C came into my life? When I was 7, I met one of my friends for life. She was the new girl in my girl scout troop, and the first time she came over to my house to play, we couldn't figure out what to do. We ended up tossing a stuffed bunny back and forth for most of the time. I'm not sure why she wanted to come over again after that less than stellar entertainment, but that was only the first of many playdates, sleepovers, and vacations together. We called ourselves "The JJs" since we both shared the same initial and would scribble stuff like "JJs forever" in notes to each other. I was sure then that we would be friends forever, and 25+ years later, it looks like we're off to a good start. She has 3 girls now. I like the symmetry in that. I think "Auntie J" was the only one of my friends rooting for Baby A to be a boy, so she must like it too! Who knew that day when I was 7 would be the start of something so meaningful?

I wonder if C will be lucky enough to make a friend like that this year. Big stuff is happening right around me every day. I'm just not sure which of the everyday occurrences will end up being the big stuff. So here's hoping I can make more time to sit down to write and reflect on our regular old life, and get a snapshot of what really matters.