Preschooler

Christmas Magic

Santa has been here, and an excited little boy will find gifts waiting for him in the living room in a few short hours. If the cats don’t destroy them, since they apparently find the smell of new rubber from Daniel’s bike tires intoxicating!

I am going to bed with a very full heart. In fact, I almost feel like I need to cry. From happiness. From nostalgia. From excitement. My emotions are a pressure valve that needs release.

We’ve had a great day, and we are confident that our little elf went to bed quivering with excitement about Santa’s impending arrival and beginning to understand a bit about the magic we are trying to impart to him: jingling bells suddenly sounding must mean Santa is approaching! A star for his Advent tree appearing from nowhere! Seeing Daniel take all of this in and peek outside the window to see if he could see Santa was thrilling.

These are the things we dreamed of seeing and experiencing for years and seeing them is so very sweet.

I’ve also been banishing some “shoulds.” Life has been a series of dashes lately, and I’m learning it is better to spend my energy where it matters most. Our Christmas prep & decor were haphazard at best. It took us weeks to have tree ready to decorate and once it was, I had an eager helper who liked to layer ornaments three deep along the bottom third. The external lights are all slightly different colors. I didn’t get around to sending cards. And perhaps most shockingly, we didn’t have a fancy Christmas Eve dinner and won’t have one tomorrow either.

I chafed a bit at not cooking. I felt that having a nice, special dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas was required. But Jimmy felt like doing something simple, and the more I thought about it, the more I agreed. What did I want my memories of Christmas Eve and Christmas to be? Of a meal I slaved over that tasted great for 20 minutes but took hours to prepare? Or a great day with my guys? I chose the latter.

Today we made reindeer food (enough to feed an army of reindeer). Daniel got to use wrapping paper in his garbage trucks (his dream). Our dinner consisted of pizza eaten in front of the TV, watching old-school Rudolph. Low- key and perfect. I didn’t go into Santa mode feeling exhausted & worn out. We had a great, calm evening. Later I retucked my little boy, telling him how my beloved grandfather used to call and give me Santa updates when I was a little girl (because we didn’t have that newfangled Internet and Santa Trackers!). Generational lines continued.

I could tell myself I half-assed the holidays this year, but that’s untrue. Just who am I trying to impress? What am I trying to prove? My tree and exterior lights aren’t perfect – so what? Who cares? I didn’t make a 3-course meal. So what? My little boy enjoyed his pizza in front of the TV and most importantly, a calm & present mommy.

I love Christmas and its magic. I can’t wait to see Daniel’s face when he sees his gifts. I love making magic for him.

I may half-ass some things, but we make magic like experts.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

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What I Did At School Today

Today was my rescheduled time to talk to Daniel’s class about my job. You might remember that my scheduled time last week was postponed due to vomitapalooza (my car still remembers and so do I when the air is just right).  Unfortunately, today didn’t start off well because there was a wreck on the interstate that caused major traffic issues.  Daniel and I were in the car for an hour and arrived 20 minutes late.

The teachers graciously let me have a few minutes, and I sat down in a minuscule chair with my props.  I had decided to focus more on what my organization does (works with manufacturers) and then talk a teeny tiny bit about what I do (market research & playing with data), capped off with Krispy Kreme doughnut holes…made in NC you know!

I started off by showing some of the products made in North Carolina I thought they might recognize: a can of Campbell soup (they don’t like tomato soup based on the chorus of “ewwwws” the can received), a hat with Cheerwine on it, deodorant, and last but not least a model of a school bus (Thomas Built Buses are made in the Triad).  Then I explained that my job was to talk to manufacturers and pass along that information to my coworkers so they could help them better. I figured that sounded better than “I stare at my monitor all day while I crunch data and attend a billion meetings.”

The teachers guided questions about what my hours were like, what I studied in college to do my job, who I work with, etc., but the kids’ questions were priceless as I had been warned.

One little girl asked my favorite question:

Do you get to eat candy at work?

She was on a candy kick, apparently, because her next few questions and comments all revolved around whether candy was available and how much of it she would eat!

Another little girl was very interested in where I eat lunch and whether I like the band that plays at the university’s sporting events.  A different little girl asked how old you had to be to work where I do.

The children, all 4 and 5-year-olds, were mostly well behaved and adorable.  They also had the attention span I expected them to have and made me laugh a lot.

There wasn’t time for me to give them the doughnut holes then, but I left them with the teachers for them to have after lunch.  I was thrilled to find a sweet card from the class in Daniel’s backpack today.

pre-K card

Card from D’s Pre-K Class

I hope my talk was a bit interesting.  At the very least, maybe I left them with an idea that we still make things in North Carolina. Daniel wouldn’t leave my side the entire time I was in his class, and I hope he was proud of me.

Who knew that speaking to a Pre-K class would be as nerve-wracking as it was?

***

PS Thank you all for the support on my wreck and the humiliation I felt (and still feel a bit). While I wish none of us suffered from this fear or have had similar situations, I’m glad to know I’m not alone. I’m going to start chanting, “You’re human. You’re human. Mistakes are a part of life.” I’m truly grateful for your support and commiseration.

Unexpected Sick Day

sick preschooler

Sweet Boy resting

Today did not go at all like I thought it would. I had prepared to give a somewhat engaging presentation (culminating in doughnuts for bribery) on what I do at work for Daniel’s class, expecting that I would be at work by 9 and at my favorite Pho dealer by 11:30 to quench the craving I had based on watching too many episodes of No Reservations. Instead, I spent the day at home.

I was making coffee and getting breakfast together this morning when I heard Jimmy yell, “KEANNE! Get in here!” I ran in to find that Daniel had thrown up a bit on my side of the bed (always the favorite for cats and kids alike) and was bent over the toilet coughing. OK, one incident of throwing up when he had been coughing earlier that morning was not reason to panic or change plans. He threw up again about 10 minutes later. OK, it is practically clear; again, maybe it is mucous.

I was determined to keep to our routine because I am mission-oriented in the morning, so I thought happy thoughts, and we bundled Daniel into the car and we set off. About 5 minutes later, he threw up all over himself, and I turned around, asking Jimmy to email his teacher.

Our poor, sweet boy looked pale and lethargic, yet tried to play. About every 30 minutes, he threw up until around lunchtime when whatever was agitating his tummy left and he was ravenous.  We kept meals very light and thankfully, everything stayed down.  I knew he was feeling better when he refused to attempt to nap at quiet time and instead played “quietly” in his room. Oy.

Sometimes I stress about missing work, but today, I was OK about it. I had been talking with coworkers yesterday about how we were ready for the holidays and here I was barely into the working week and already needing a sick day to take care of a sick child when I was going to be out the rest of the week at a local conference and out on Friday because of a teacher workday. And I regretted not a moment. Yes, I answered the occasional email that needed my attention, but for the most part, I was off the grid. I was thinking of items to tempt a delicate palate (yes, we did go through half a pack of applesauce). We watched a billion episodes of No Reservations because Daniel asked to watch “Anthony Bourdain” and how can we refuse such quality television?

Most of all, we thought of today as an extension of our weekend.  I washed more laundry, did dishes and straightened up, but the pace felt slower and more manageable than during the weekend when there is so much pressure to get everything done ASAP.  It was pleasant being able to do those tasks at my leisure (who am I?).

We cuddled. We did chores. We watched a billion episodes of No Reservations. We cleaned dry erase marker off of Daniel because it amused him to draw on himself.

Sometimes, you get what you need, even if it is not what you want or expected.

Brought to You by the Letter “G”

Monday nights are homework nights in this house.  Daniel’s class has a letter of the week and on Monday, the dreaded piece of paper comes home.  In addition to everything else we are juggling, we have to have Daniel think of things that start with that letter, find pictures, have him cut them out and then glue them on the sheet. And on Tuesdays, each child presents his or her homework. Are you tired? I know I am.

The first time the assignment came home, it was a surprise and I groaned because I was solo parenting while Jimmy was on a business trip and had to tackle “A” in addition to making dinner, eating, getting out clothes, teeth brushing, stories, etc. in about 90 minutes.  I admit that I located, cut out and glued the pictures myself, making sure Daniel could identify them the next day in class.  The next day I confessed to his teacher that I had done the assignment because I have flashbacks to my 6th grade science fair project and the beautiful display my mother created and hearing classmates AND their parents comment how I had obviously had help.  I didn’t want to be “that mom” already.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve managed to hit our stride on Monday nights.  Once we confirm that we have homework this week, we start asking Daniel to think of things that start with that letter.  Then we find pictures and print them.  Daniel cuts them out (and does a great job by the way; his skill with scissors has improved immensely since he started school; also our cutting skills are roughly equivalent) and writes his name on the paper (a skill which has also improved dramatically).  I glue them on for now only because sometimes the pictures need to be trimmed to fit.  It’s a team effort, but I truly feel the final result reflects Daniel.

I also never imagined we’d have homework in Pre-K.  And I could write an entire other post on how I need a calendar to keep up with Daniel’s various activities and deadlines for school: field trips, buddies, parties, parent career month, weekly newsletters, behavior reports, etc. Oh my! I consider us doing well if we remember which uniform he is supposed to wear that day as well as whether he needs a full lunch or morning snack only because we paid for hot lunch. Does it only get worse from here?

Daniel is learning a lot, and that’s the important thing.  I just wish school had come with a huge binder and calendar for me to keep up!

This week was the letter “G” 🙂

Yes, that lower right image is a picture of God. Appropriate, right?

Yes, that lower right image is a picture of God. Appropriate, right?

Sunday, Sunday…So Good to Me

I’m not a big fan of Sundays because they are usually, hands down, my busiest day of the week. Grocery shopping, getting Daniel’s lunches and snacks ready for the week, preparing his uniforms and hopefully preparing a multi-day meal of some sort that will see us through any “what are we having for dinner” angst that might crop up.  It’s a busy day and that doesn’t even include if we get wild hairs and decide to clean, do yard work or straighten up.  After all, chances are good that there is a basket of laundry to put away. Always a basket of laundry to put away.

Today was no different except that I decided to go the extra mile and sweep the house and put all the laundry away.  Jimmy did yard work.  I was honestly dreading the late afternoon/early evening because I was certain the adults would be exhausted and the 4-year-old would be as well because he had been awake since 6 AM and no longer naps.

But I was surprised. Yes, we were all tired, but we headed back outside to enjoy the late afternoon sun.  It was a truly beautiful Autumn day in Raleigh – not a cloud in the vivid blue sky, the temperature a perfect 60 degrees and everything looked like it had been diffused through a soft gold filter. Daniel ran around, picking up leaves in his dump truck and then ran up the slide into his clubhouse. He was in heaven. It was a joy to watch him and a reminder that we had longed for so very long to see a wee one run through our expansive back yard, purchased for such a reason.

When we went inside, Daniel requested to watch a No Reservations (my burgeoning foodie!), and he colored while Jimmy and I watched and chopped, preparing for the week ahead. The sky dimmed, and it was truly a moment of calm I had not expected. It rejuvenated me while I chopped melon and berries for snacks and lunch.

And now he’s been tucked in and is hopefully drifting off to dreamland and sweet dreams of starfish and wooly worms. Daniel is such a good boy, and he has been working so hard on his behavior chart and doing what we ask and expect of him.  He is still sassy, but the tantrums of a month ago seem to have dissipated. He’s a good, sweet boy. He slams into us to give us hugs and kisses. His joy is everything.

I didn’t expect today to be a great day, but it was.  I know that every minute and hour means he is growing up and away, so I am grateful that we had our perfect hours this afternoon and our hugs and kisses and sweet mood tonight. One day he won’t want us to tuck him in and sing songs. He won’t want his billion cuddly starfish or his Toy Story pajamas. I’ll remind myself of that every night when I’m tired and worn out and ready for bedtime.  I’ll give him one more kiss and a huge bear hug and store up each moment for my memory bank.

Ghosts, Saints and the Next 30 Days

Halloween

Halloween has come and gone and as usual, we were scrambling to get everything ready until the last possible minute. Each year I vow we will have pumpkins carved the weekend before Halloween and what usually happens is that Jimmy is carving them as twilight approaches and I’m bouncing from one foot to the other while I wait for him to finish them before the first Trick-or-Treaters arrive.  This Halloween was especially interesting since the after-school workers at Daniel’s school let him eat FOUR cupcakes in the span of about 1.5 hours.  I was not thrilled. I picked him up an hour early too; I can only imagine how many more cupcakes he would have eaten.  He practically vibrated the entire way home, and I wasn’t the only one bouncing in the kitchen: it was like having a mini Tigger in the house.

This year, Daniel was a ghost for Halloween. We were relieved at his request because last year he wanted to be a cookie or a garbage truck and those costumes were not easy to find off-the-shelf. But a ghost? Great! Along with witches and vampires, ghosts are a traditional part of Halloween. Finding a good costume should be easy.

Not so much. There were sexy ghosts. Ghosts rattling chains. Downton Abbey-like ghosts. Black robes with the Scream mask (unsure how that qualifies as a ghost). And then one lone, happy, hobo-like ghost that was suitable for a child. When Daniel tried it on, we discovered we needed to make alterations. Off went the head. The length was trimmed. The arm holes were weirdly placed, so Jimmy cut new ones.  We bought makeup to create a ghostly face. In retrospect, it might have been easier to buy a sheet and cut out holes for the eyes and mouth.

Finally, Daniel was costumed and ready to bounce out the door with his purple pumpkin.

Halloween ghost

We had a great time and visited around 20 houses. We let him have only one piece of candy since he was still sporting a decent sugar high.  Our neighborhood really gets into holidays and decorating, and it was so much fun to see the extremes some went to.  I keep saying that will be us next year, but the reality is that it likely won’t be except in my dreams.

Halloween candy

All Saints Day

Daniel got to dress up two days in a row because his school is celebrating All Saints Day today. We were told that the kids could dress up as their favorite saint.  I was a bit skeptical and asked one of the moms who has an older child, and she reassured me that the kids do dress up and it is actually a much bigger deal in the older grades.  Since our family has a UK connection, we decided that he could go as St. George.  Oh, the cuteness!  It was a big day for his class because they were going to Mass for the first time. Imagine 16 Pre-K children sitting quietly for an hour. I thought his teacher looked a bit stressed at drop-off this morning!

St. George for All Saints Day

St. George

NaBloPoMo

National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) kicks off today, and I plan to participate for the third year.  I really need some blogging motivation, so I’m hoping that 30 days of blogging will revive my mojo.  Consider yourself warned and prepare for inanity as I attempt to make it 3 years in a row.

 

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Hate Floats Away

The moment your child lisps or proclaims decisively, “I love you,” is a moment you have anticipated. You melt. Your heart thrills. This, THIS is what parenting is about.  A little human loves you.  The mysteries of the universe open to you. Life is good, nay grand.

The moment your child announces – with total conviction – that he hates you is decidedly less pleasant, less heart-warming but oh-so-very memorable.

I expected to hear “I hate you” during Daniel’s teenage years. OK, that’s a lie. I never expected to hear it because of course we would be awesome parents. We might not be liked during the teenage years, but surely we would never be hated.

It never occurred to me that I might hear “I hate you” from my 4-year-old.

Age 4 has many wonderful aspects but as we have discovered recently, it also has some major shitty ones. Daniel’s behavior over the last month has not been great. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the transition to his Pre-K program, earlier morning routine, and new people, but life in our house has been a bit challenging.

Mommy is often the enemy. If I thwart his wishes, if I insist on our routine, if I deny him something he wants, he fights back with words. I’ve been told, “I hate you;” “I don’t like you;” “You’re not my mommy; you’re nothing.” Truly, most of it rolls off my back because I know it’s his age. I’m usually able to reply with an, “I’m sorry you feel that way…” And while I know he doesn’t really understand what he’s saying and what it would mean, say, if he didn’t have a mommy, his tone is astounding. He may not understand the words, but he understands that they are hurtful and bad things to say, and he injects those words with such venom. It would be impressive if it weren’t so heart-breaking.

Again, I know he’s 4. Four. Not a baby, yet still so young. It’s a weird limbo for him, but it can hurt like hell for me.

***

We’ve talked to Daniel quite a bit about appropriate uses of the word “hate” in light of his delight in saying it to me. He’s smart and loves to catch us using it. Our downfall is the “I hate to say this but…” type of phrase.  Within seconds we’ll hear a small voice say, “did you just say, ‘hate’?” Touche. One thing I’ve discovered about parenting is that some words and concepts are more difficult to explain than you anticipate. And that 4-year-olds are very contrary.

One night when we went out to eat at the beach, a dessert came with a piece of mint. Daniel loves mint, and he plucked it off the dessert and exclaimed, “Mint!” Then he got a sly look on his face and said, “I’m going to name it ‘Hate’.”  He then dangled the mint over the deck and the water below, telling us, “I love Hate. I don’t want to lose Hate.” I’m sure the entire restaurant could hear my resigned sigh.

This little scene went on for a few minutes, Daniel smirking the entire time. Finally, the inevitable happened and the mint fell into the water: “Oh, no! I lost Hate. Hate fell into the water” he exclaimed.

“Daniel, that’s too bad, but we don’t want to hold on to Hate, ” I replied. “It’s good to let Hate go.”

“Goodbye, Hate,” Daniel waved, as Hate the Mint floated away.

“Yes, goodbye, Hate, ” Jimmy nodded.

I’ve also learned that there are absurd moments that no parenting book can prepare you for.

Routine Change

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

This week has been L-O-N-G, primarily because we had a major change in our daily routine this week.  Daniel said goodbye to his classmates at day care last Friday and started Pre-K at a small Catholic school on Wednesday.  We had toured the school in late spring in order to decide if we liked it for Kindergarten in 2014. During the tour, the principal told us that they still had spaces available in their Pre-K class and that attending Pre-K guaranteed a spot in Kindergarten.  We hadn’t planned on Pre-K at this school since Daniel’s day care incorporates Pre-K lessons into the two classrooms for the 4-year-olds (and it’s not like he hadn’t been learning anything in the younger classes).  We really liked the school, though, and Jimmy had attended it through 8th grade, so we decided to go ahead and give Pre-K a try.

We had a lot to do to get ready for the first day, including buying a new full-size backpack, a new lunch box and uniforms.  Uniforms.  Yeah. The school has a strict policy on what is worn when.  Shorts and a short-sleeved shirt for the 1st and 4th 9 weeks.  Pants and a short- or long-sleeved polo for the 2nd and 3rd nine weeks.  There is also a specific uniform for PE.  There are also new routines to learn.  Daniel’s Pre-K teacher requires the parents to provide a fruit or veggie snack for the mornings along with lunch. Since the Pre-K kids are low on the totem pole, they eat lunch at 10:45, so I’m packing less food for lunch than I did for day care, especially since they eat snack at 9.  Whew!

The biggest change in our routine has been the morning routine. School starts at 8, and we can walk them to their class at 7:40.  We need to leave the house at 7 to make sure we can make it in time because traffic can be difficult.  I wake up Daniel at 6:15 so he can eat, get dressed in his uniform (soooo cute!) and play while I finish getting dressed.  That means that I get up at 5-ish to make sure I’m finished washing my face, brushing teeth, putting on make-up and putting in my contacts by the time I need to wake up Daniel. That makes for very busy mornings! You might wonder what the big deal is; after all, don’t I seem to be awake and active on Twitter at that time anyway?  It turns out there is a huge difference between being awake and lounging in my cozy bed and having to be up and active at 5!

Daniel and I are wiped in the evenings.  He’s been asleep by 8, and I’m trying to get to bed no later than 10. I am really looking forward to being able to sleep until the late hour of 7 AM tomorrow!  I’m sure it will get better next week as we adjust, and maybe we won’t have to get up as early once we feel confident about what morning traffic will be like.

Daniel seems to like his new school so far.  He really likes his teachers, and I like that his class is small.  Since I’m getting to work so much earlier, I can leave earlier, and it is such a nice change to be home by 5:30 instead of after 6 like it had been.   His school is close to where Jimmy and I work, and we like knowing we can be there in 10 minutes.

So far, so good! I’ll have more to say about his new school next week.

Other Items of (Possible) Interest

The Pre-Kindergarten List

I have a post in my drafts folder on which I have worked daily since Tuesday. I have another post I want to write this weekend. Instead, you get this, my “hello, I’m still here” post, which smacks of desperation and hubris.

What is it about summer that makes it difficult not only to post but to form a coherent thought?

I suppose it is OK. In the South, summer seems to suck the lifeblood out of you until all you can do is see to your basic bodily needs.

I went to a gun show today. That will be a separate post. Daniel is amazing and contrary and infuriating and delightful in one 42″, 36 LB package. How we love him, even when he makes our blood boil 😉

We received the list of things he needs from the Pre-K he starts later this month, and Jimmy and I are practically shaking at the thought of our baby starting “real” school earlier than we anticipated: large backpack, lunch, uniform, no cuddlies/toys, etc. I think Pre-K will suit him, but I am as nervous about it as if I were the child in the class. I hope he likes his new class. If so, it’s likely he will be with them until 8th grade. I’m trying to keep an open mind. We are flexible, right? And no shame if it doesn’t work out and we need to find a different place, right?

It’s August. We are 75% through the year (Note: OK, so not exactly 75% but close enough!). How did that happen? I was in Michael’s last week and they already had out the Halloween/Autumn displays. I was delighted. But that’s not right. Part of me was thrilled while another part was in shock. Too soon!

It seems like only yesterday we brought a tiny newborn home from the hospital. The next year, we had a little one who could run easily. From then on, every milestone has passed with warp speed.

D is a sweet boy and we love him very much. He has learned so much already and amazes, astounds and confounds us daily. Hopefully he will have a great year in his new school.

Have a great weekend 🙂

Four is…

Daniel turned 4 almost two months ago, and I cannot believe I didn’t write a commemorative post (that sounds odd) or a recap of his birthday party or anything. June was a busy month, and the entire summer is zooming by.

Daniel’s birthday party went very well. Eight preschoolers jumped, climbed and bounced to their hearts’ content, and then we threw pizza, cake and ice cream at them.  Daniel was thrilled with his garbage truck cake, and he, Jimmy, my mother and I were all exhausted when we got home (although no naps were had by anyone).

I feel like I need to knock on wood as I write this, but age 4 has been so much easier than age 3…so far. I wrote several times last year how unprepared I was for the huge changes and challenges age 3 brought almost overnight, and we’ve been waiting and watching, but so far, so good. I’m not saying it’s an easy age.  Age 4 has its own delights, but we can reason with him and are beginning to be able to use logic. We can have conversations with him and that helps SO much.  He’s funny and sweet and delightful and infuriating, often simultaneously.

Four is Inquisitive

Daniel: Mommy, do starfish have toes?

Me: No, they have feet but no toes (according to our starfish book)

Daniel: Why not?

Me: I don’t know.  That’s just how they were made.

Daniel: You do to know.

Me: ????????????

Four is Inquisitive and Chatty

Daniel: Mommy, what’s your favorite color? Do you like garbage trucks? Do you know I like Word Girl? What’s that, Mommy? Do you like Thomas? Do you like Percy? Do you like…<insert every train he owns>? It starts from the moment he gets up, to the moment I pick him up, until he finally lays his little blond head on the pillow and falls asleep.

Four is Inappropriate

Daniel: Mommy, do you wear underwear?

Me: Yes

Daniel: Mommy, what do they look like? Are they pretty?

Me: ummmmm we don’t really talk about our underwear

***

Daniel: Daddy! What’s in your pants? (reaches hand down Jimmy’s pants)

He was actually referring to what Jimmy had in his pocket, but we weren’t sure at the time.

Four is Bossy

Daniel: Mommy, do not argue with me. Do not say that word. Do not call me that name. I must be first! I own purple!

Four is Sweet

Daniel: Mommy, who am I married to?

Me: I don’t know?

Daniel: I am married to you, daddy, and Word Girl (he blushes a bit and my heart melts. I also suddenly hate Word Girl)

 

Four is Infuriating

Me: You need to finish your green beans.

Daniel: No.

Me: Yes, you do or you won’t get dessert.

Daniel: But I waaaaaaaaant dessert

Me: Well, who controls that?

Daniel: You.

Me: No! You do! (suddenly feeling like I’ve lost control of the conversation). Just eat  your green beans!

 

Four is Sensitive

Daniel: I’m a robot

Me: Are you like one of Toby’s robots? (from Word Girl. Toby is a bit of a punk)

Daniel: (chin quivering, face crumbling,  tears falling) I AM NOT TOBY. I AM NOT ONE OF HIS ROBOTS. HE’S A BAD BOY. NO ONE IN THE FAMILY IS TOBY OR ONE OF HIS ROBOTS.

Me: OK, OK, OK! (Maybe it’s time to teach him about similes)

 

There is never a dull moment around our house; that’s for sure.