Before heading up to Camden tomorrow, we had the wonderful pleasure of spending a day in Rhode Island with Jason's brother and his wife. I haven't seen Nathan and Carolyn in over a year, so what a lovely reunion it was to hang out with them, eat dinner, and watch YouTube videos of Flight of the Conchords. Yes, the simple things make vacations the best.
Thanks N & C for letting us hang out with you for the day. We love you.
(Julianne update: she is handling our absence with great determination and courage, though feeling a bit needy. Of course, we did make three phone calls to Jason's mom, so I suppose we're feeling rather needy too. Fortunately, she does get to sleep in her own crib since the grandparents are staying at our house to make things easier. Not that I worry, except maybe a little. You know, for good measure.)
Sure, Christmas was this week. But there was also a birthday party that turned out to be a marvelous way to get the relatives together for lunch, cake, and holiday/party merriment. Since I was busy doing whatever it is that I do at birthday parties (shake sprinkles on cupcakes? search for matches? create hearts on the cake out of candy canes and then shake my head in amazement at my own cleverness?), then Sarah captured these pictures of the day for us.
Jules was all for getting at that cupcake. I'll be honest and say this isn't her first encounter with sugar, or with cake, or frosting, or ice cream. She's a pro at handling desserts.
We don't mess around when we're eating. "Clothing Optional" has always been my motto at meal time. Not really. Don't come over and expect no clothing. I wear lots of clothing. Whole wardrobes of clothing. My children, however, eat in whatever attire they prefer.
All sorts of wonderful birthday goodies: a new carseat, brightly colored toys, Little People, and her very own Baby Yeti who is just as festive as can be in his peppermint striped attire. We love him.
And we love our birthday girl, though she might not be feeling the love since tomorrow we're going on vacation. Without children. Without diaper bags. Without carseats or strollers or playpens. In fact, Jules will unfortunately be finding herself going without me and my nursings to help her through the night. For the first time.
Let's not think about how traumatic it's going to be for both of us. Let's just think about how pretty those cupcakes are.
And a pretty vacation is just around the corner...
Jason surprised me with an early Christmas present. Boy oh boy, did he surprise me. I gasped. I cried. I even felt a bit anxious for Julianne, but let's not tell her just yet that her mamma is leaving her for four days.
Next weekend, I'm going to be here. !!!!!
Extra presents in your Christmas stockings if you can guess why this location makes Jason the most romantic husband in the world.
Three hundred and sixty-five days ago I was wishing that a baby would be born. I had been hoping; I had been pondering. And then my Christmas dreams came true. With the help of an epidural and a mile-long walk into the hospital because the parking lot was under construction.
When she was born we named her Julianne Ryan--the "anne" after my sister Andrea, the "Ryan" after Jason's brother's middle name, and the initials matching Jason's. We've called her Jules since before she was born because she was, indeed, our Christmas jewel.
Tomorrow a birthday party, an afternoon spent with aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents, a trip to Powell's and dinner at the Spaghetti Factory. Who knew turning one could be so spectacular?
It was bad enough that Jason had the flu.
But then Sydney got it.
And then Jules got it last night. Boy did she ever get. She got it all over me, many times. Even though I had my mind determined not to get the flu, even though I mentally said, "No flu! I'm stronger than this bug! My tummy is no place for a little bug. Go away! GO AWAY!" and then I drank some hot water and ate some carrots just to prove that I was healthy...I still got the flu. Maybe it was cleaning up all those germs (I washed my hands a million times, but I think it must have been airborne). Maybe I shouldn't have eaten those chocolate chips for lunch. That was probably the invitation that the flu bug was waiting for (because who can pass up chocolate?). Plus, I neglected to get a flu shot this year, even though I have been getting it for the past several years and it has kept me healthy. No reason for me not getting the flu shot, just didn't go in and have it done. I am a hearty believer in them despite the perilous warnings by some who say something along the lines that it's just a governmental scheme to insert tracking devices into our bloodstream and then when the time is right they'll allow the alien forces to invade.
Err...I guess maybe nobody says that. Except old reruns of X-Files.
So, yes, Jules and I are in recovery. Jason is mostly better. And Sydney's bout with the flu was only for a few hours. Today she was healthy enough to take care of her poor mama. She got me Sprite. She turned the lights off, pulled the curtains, and put a soft blanket on my pillow. She said, "I'll just watch a movie, Mama. And I'll be quiet while Jules is sleeping." She was. Sure, she did end up having a BOZ marathon, watching almost five hours worth (the teacher in me cringes), but we were in survival mode. Plus, she totally deserved a veg-out day considering that she wasn't feeling 100% anyway. We do what we have to do to make it through.
We have to because there's just TOO MUCH to do this week. Tomorrow we're meeting with our general contractor and designer for the new house we're building (far far into the future). Friday is Jules' birthday. Saturday a party. Sunday...surely something...oh yes, I'll have to go Christmas shopping because of course I haven't even started that. Too busy to be kept down with the flu. I'll even eat carrots for breakfast tomorrow if I have to.
On the upside, I suppose I am officially a 'mom' now that I've had to clean up after flu-infested children. I had a streak of three-and-a-half very good years, but all good things must come to an end. And all bad things must come to an end too.
As sweet Julianne would say to the flu bug: Bye bye!
(video: 27 seconds)
Before getting into the story of how firefighters ended up in my bedroom at 5:30am Saturday morning, I must be upfront that today is a product-review post. I say that so that you don't think I'm using my husband's illness in order to shill a product. While I occasionally agree to receiving free products and then further reviewing them on my blog, and while I may even encourage you to buy books through my Amazon links so that I can become rich and buy myself a pair of designer jeans (right!), when it comes down to it I'm just writing about my family, not trying to sell things. I just wanted to make that clear so you don't feel like I tricked you into reading this post.
But the story must be told, and the product must be reviewed, so they shall share the post space harmoniously together, like peanut butter and jelly. Except not exactly like peanut butter and jelly because Jason is allergic to peanuts and that would only further lead me to calling 9-1-1 again.
So, the firefighters. Me calling 9-1-1. The story unfolds thusly.
Friday afternoon was just a regular afternoon. Jason had gone for a nine-mile run, then had taken Jules out grocery shopping so that I could get some grading done (Sydney was staying the night with her grandparents). Later that night, Jason started complaining of not feeling well. He had major stomach pains, and was showing symptoms of having the flu (food poisoning is also a possible suspect). Although I had great pity for him in my heart, I have a hard time summoning my maternal instincts for anyone other than my girls (and other small children). I can fetch things, but I prefer to keep my distance because bodily fluids seriously gross me out. I did what I could, which was to provide fluids and medicine.
During the night, Jason continued to not feel well. I would periodically wake up, mumble, "Is there something I can get you?" and then promptly fall back asleep (kind of reminds me of the time I told Jason I was pregnant with Sydney, and he said, "Really?" and then fell back asleep, which he says is what happens when you wake someone up at 2am to share pregnancy news).
Sometime around 5am, I hear a loud crash in the bathroom, and rush in there to find Jason unconscious, the crashing sound having resulted from his head hitting the wall. Since he's only allowing me to share this story because it was so traumatic for me, I am leaving out most of the horrible and frightening details. However, I will say that when I first saw him I was terrified at the condition I found him in. After checking his pulse and realizing that he was still breathing, I grabbed the phone and dialed 9-1-1.
I know some people say that in moments of crisis they can't recall exactly what transpired, but I remember every little detail. I remember the sound of the woman's voice on the phone, the questions she asked, the first thing Jason said when he regained consciousness. I remember it all, and I was scared. After Jason realized that I had called for an ambulance, he was not exactly thrilled. He was now perfectly lucid, and even though he wasn't feeling great, he was not suffering any significant effects of what had just occurred.
Within a few minutes of my phone call, the firetruck arrived at our house. I was relieved they didn't have their sirens on because that might have woke Jules up. I was also relieved that there was now no imminent threat to Jason's health.
It was this sense of relief that can only explain why at this point I completely lost my senses. I saw those firefighters come marching down our driveway and could only think of one thing: they were wearing some heavy duty boots. Which were going to be walking on my clean carpets. As the men were about to enter the house, I squeaked out in my most embarrassed voice, "Oh dear. You're going to walk your boots all over my carpets aren't you?"
I realized that it sounded horribly insensitive, and what did I honestly expect? That they would take off their shoes before coming in the house? Fortunately, the nice firefighter did not laugh at me and said, "I'm pretty sure they aren't muddy." And then later--after they had checked Jason out and we had declined a trip to the hospital--he managed to tease me about what I had said. I'm sure I turned eight million shades of red before he said, "It's okay. My wife would have said the same thing." So, I'm not totally crazy. Just a little bit crazy.
Jason spent most of Saturday recovering, and by that evening he was able to keep some soup and jello down. By Sunday he was mostly recovered, and barring a relapse, he'll have no trouble teaching today and tomorrow before beginning his Christmas vacation. I'm thankful he's okay. I'm thankful for the firefighters who were here and did such a wonderful job. I'm thankful that Sydney wasn't here that night. And, I have to say it again, I'm thankful Jason is okay. I hope I never have to experience that again.
Up until this weekend we had been pretty lucky to escape any significant sicknesses this year. Sure, there's been the occasional cold, and a few days Jason and I had a sore throat. Naturally, I have my migraines every once in awhile which I treat with Peppermint oil and Excedrin. The colds we pretty much suffered through, but the sore throats we were able to ward off with a dose of Simply Gargle, a salt-water gargle that tastes absolutely awful but makes your throat feel a million times better. I confess I'm not really a big fan of medicinal gargles, but Parent Bloggers Network hooked me up with Simply Gargle, and I had every sore-throated person I know try it. My parents loved it. Our nanny's sister loved it (although she said, "It tastes SO gross, but my throat feels better"). And Jason and I, while we despise the taste of it, now use it because its handy one-use capsules are easy to store, and it makes my throat feel like butter (in a good way). I even used it one day when my throat was just tired after a day of lecturing since Simply Gargle is not a medicine that I would have to ingest. I'm not against taking medicine, but if I can find one that will solve my aches without having to swallow it? Now, that's a good idea. Another good idea? Visit their website and sign up to receive a free sample of Simply Gargle. If you don't want your free sample just give it to me. I do enough talking to require a salt-water gargle weekly.
I know during this season of germs and sicknesses, I need to make sure my medicine cabinet is well stocked. I have to get something for the flu (fingers crossed we don't get it again), and I have to go get another box of Simply Gargle because we're out. I'm really hoping the next illness we get in our house is as mild as a sore throat because I don't think my nerves could take another dose of the flu.
Or the carpets either, for that matter.
It has been a holly, jolly week, even though the weekend hasn't actually been so jolly on account of illness. But I'm not sick, and I think my family is recovering, so let's celebrate.
We went to the Festival of Lights parade here in town, and it was quite the thrill. Even though it was freezing (fa-reezing!!), it wasn't raining, so there were swarms of people along the parade route. In fact, I read in the newspaper that 100,000 people were there, which is a lot of people considering the city's population isn't even 150,000.
We were prepared with hot chocolate and bags of popcorn, as well as blankets (though not enough), and enjoyed the school bands the most. The pimped-out cars that had the fire exploding out the tailpipe was definitely too scary for our girl, although I think she'll remember it for the rest of her life.
As if Saturday wasn't exciting enough, we topped off the weekend with our church's Children's Christmas program. Last year, Sydney was so not into singing the songs and being on stage. This year we practiced. We did the hand motions in the car. We built it up to be THE event of the year, at which Grandma and Grandpa would be in attendance. You'd never think that little Miss Drama Queen me would have a child who is so anti-showing off, but our practice paid off and she did make it through the program with stamina and flair. I think it helped that she got to wear her new Christmas dress, which as it turned out was the same dress her friend Gabry wore.
She was pretty happy to see me in the audience (in this video you can see her tell her teacher, "There's my mom!"), but that pales in comparison to how happy I was to watch her. If there is one thing that Sydney loves doing, it's singing. And to see her overcome her fear of crowds and sing her heart out was a proud moment for Jason and me. If you happen to like watching kids sing, here's Sydney singing Who Was There That First Christmas Day?, and here she is singing Away in the Manger.
I love my girl. Especially when she's wearing little lamby ears and laying her head down for "the little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay."
Peppermint hot chocolate. Obvious merriment.
Remember when I got together with some area bloggers? And I said I met a mom who loves to read? Well! She came over! To my house! With her adorable daughter Sawyer who had the grandest time playing with Sydney! Though you may not think it from my writing, I can be a bit of an introvert. But after talking to Rachel, and then later chatting with her at the library's bedtime storytime, I decided to be bold and invite her over. Of course, I'm so glad I did because we had a lovely afternoon talking about (as she said) everything but books. But we did trade books. And Sydney and Sawyer read books together. And Jules probably ate a book or two while we were all having fun. How about that. Thank you Rachel and Sawyer for a wonderful afternoon. Can't wait to get together again.
I love new friends, don't you?
Gave my students their final exam, and now have four weeks off for Christmas vacation. It's bittersweet because I do love teaching that class.
Also, I got my hair highlighted. The week before I got it cut short again, and so happy am I to have found a new hair stylist that I love. At the aforementioned blog party, Ona gave me Nikki's phone number along with a hearty recommendation, and so I made an appointment for a haircut. I was so smitten with her I had her do my eyebrows. And then she highlighted my hair. I think I've run out of things I can have her do, so now it's your turn, all you local girls. Nikki. Studio 554 on Ferry Street. I have her number and so does Ona.
::last Friday, aka last night::
Well, not to say that there's no more merriment going on, but it ran a bit short in the middle of Friday night, whereby I make a 9-1-1 call and find myself with a firetruck and ambulance in the driveway and paramedics in our bedroom tending to my poor sick hubby. That story, however, will have to wait until Monday.
Happy 50th Birthday, Mr. Grinch!
(I guess, technically, his birthday was October 12th, but it was just today that I saw there's a 50th Anniversary Retrospective that looks like fun. Might have to get it since I do love the Grinch's small heart that grew three times that day.)
I saw an article in the newspaper last week about kids and imaginative play. Some researchers were alarmed that kids weren't learning how to play on their own, watching too much tv and listening to their iPods too much, and consequently....well, I don't know. I didn't finish reading the article, but I suspected the findings would include something like 'let kids play more on their own, powering toys with their imagination instead of remote controls and high-powered batteries.'
I didn't finish reading it because, truthfully, I don't worry about Sydney and imaginative play. Once upon a time I did. I worried that she'd never play on her own and that I'd have to entertain her for the rest. of. my. life. Which isn't to say that I don't love playing with Sydney, I do. But I also wanted her to be able to play on her own and entertain herself. After we had her vision checked and got her glasses, she became much more willing to play away from us (maybe because she could finally see!). She even had her own posse of imaginary friends that she would pull from the mirror and "line up" on the floor. Her "friend" Dawby first visited us a year ago, and comes and goes at random times. And as for Jules, she is more than willing to wander away from us and play on her own. I'm sure it helps that she has a sister around.
Even though I don't think kids need fancy toys to encourage imaginative play, a certain selection of well-made toys can go a long way. I love blocks (even though they end up all over the place) and I love the little play kitchen that both girls are so enamored with (even though the plastic foods find their way to every place but back to the little kitchen). Several weeks ago we added another well-made toy to our collection, courtesy Parent Bloggers Network: Discovery Channel's Ready Set Learn! Lift-Off Rocket.
The timing for getting the rocket couldn't have been better. Sydney had been introduced to Little Einstein's Rocketship, and our library had just converted the Discovery Room into a science fiction exploration center. We were totally spaced out...in a good way.
As soon as we got the Lift-Off Rocket, Sydney was clamoring for me to get it out the box. She recognized right away what it was, and was "flying" it around the house in no time. The four little space critters were shuttled through the living room, zooming through the hallway, and having adventures in Sydney's room. In Sydney's imagination, the little animal astronauts would have breakfast in one of the rocket's compartments and take a nap on the fold-down bed in the other. Maybe while Commander Bunny Astronaut was talking to Houston, Commander Lamby-kins was rolling along on the space buggy exploring the little moon crater (all included with the Rocket).
It's a toy that does take a couple batteries in order to power its blast-off sounds, but it is mostly powered by imagination. My favorite kind of toy.
Turns out, the library has the exact same Rocketship in the Discovery Room, except instead of animal astronauts, they have people astronauts. Sydney was delighted to see that she could play with the Lift-Off Rocket at the library as well as at home. Because I adore our library and our children's librarians (Hooray for Ms. Karen and Ms. Connie!!), I see their endorsement of the Rocket as a good sign. True, spending nearly $40 on a toy is kind of out of our price range; however, I will say it is well-built and one of those toys whose pieces are not so small that I worry about Julianne playing with it. Jules is big on sucking on the little astronauts (I can hear them now: "Slobber monster straight ahead, Captain!"), and they have held up quite well. Also, I must mention that the product is made in China, but that Discovery Channel hasn't had any product recalls so I'm believing that it's safe. I haven't yet moved to the point of refusing to buy any toys from China, although I'm close.
I can't leave you with just a recommendation of a toy without giving you my favorite resource that will assist your kiddos in developing that imagination of theirs: BOOKS!
Some of our favorite space books:
Imagination, prepare for lift-off...5...4...3...2...1...Blast off!
This week my students finished up their final presentations in which they had to deliver a persuasive speech (using the handy dandy Monroe's Motivated Sequence) urging their listeners to take action on some issue. Even though I love listening to almost all of the speeches they deliver over the course of the semester (except the group speech, which is painfully long and unexciting), their final speech is one my favorites. This is when students get to shine, when they get to put a whole semester's worth of knowledge to use and convince their classmates to do something. While not all the students all passionate about their topics, many choose issues that they really care about. They speak about suicide prevention, exercise, the environment, and music education. They speak about the Voice of the Martyrs, Global Expeditions, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Save the Children, and Operation Christmas Child.
As one of the students said, "You can't choose every charity; you can't fix every problem; you can't donate all your money and time. But you can do something. You can make a difference." I am sad to see these two groups of students leave me...they have been good classes.
And they have reminded me to share some of my favorite organizations and links that are doing their best to make a difference in the world. For me, my passion is global hunger. This is a topic I have been reading and praying about for many months, and even though I am just one person who cannot solve the major ills of the world, I am still one person. I can make a difference.
And speaking of Compassion Int'l, I want to thank those of you who Commented for a Cause! Thank you Amy, Anachronism, Jen, Kim, Simona, Paige, Becca, Ally, Karen, Gretchen, Kristan, Kimberly, Danielle, Rachelle, Goslyn, Alida, Jess, Becca Banana, Megan, Rach and Liv, Kim, Andrea, Aleece, Leanne, Erin, Margaret, Lee Anderson, Kimberly, Leslie, Inkling, Suzanne, CCAP, Nancy, Katy Lewis, Amy, Molly, Stout, Katrina, Donnelle, Devon, Bananas, Sarah, Heather, Ariadne, Diana, Dad, Jeri, Alison, Kari, Lynette, and Sophie. What a blessing.
Of course, there are innumerable organizations that are making a difference in this world, but these are some of the ones that I hold near and dear to my heart. Nearly all the organizations are four-star charities according to Charity Navigator (an online resource that determines a charity's effectiveness and fiscal responsibility), so that's good to know.
I know this post has a lot of links and maybe you don't have time to look through them all, but I really encourage you to see what some of these organizations are doing. You never know what change you are capable of accomplishing unless you try. We can make a difference.
How about you? What issues speak to your heart?
For the past several days Jason has been teaching his students about the environment, ways to recycle, some of the research regarding global warming, etc. Since it is directed at junior high students, it's not highly indepth, but students of that age are old enough to learn how to take care of our planet and understand the value of recycling and our limited natural resources.
Yesterday, he came home from school feeling a bit down because he has had a few students come in and tell him some negative comments they have heard from their parents regarding this environment unit. Comments like, "I hope he's teaching you the other side of the issue," and "What on earth are they teaching you at that school?! Nothing." Additionally, parents are upset that Jason showed some clips from An Inconvenient Truth, presumably because the film features Al Gore and so that *must* make the whole thing a bunch of hogwash.
Okay, so maybe some people don't believe in global warming. Whatever. But to think that teaching students about recycling and limited natural resources is a bad idea? Right. Don't recycle. Litter everywhere. Use as much paper as you possibly can. Leave your lights on all the time and the water too. Good idea.
It's a good thing I don't have a teaching position where I interact with parents anymore. Because even though I've matured in some areas, I'm not sure if I could keep myself from saying unprofessional things toward them. All I can say: some people are ridiculous.
Remember when I raved about That Baby DVD/CD? Well, tonight I'll get to be part of the weekly PBN radio show--hosted by Kristen--that discusses children's music and also interviews Rob Wolf, one of the artistic minds behind That Baby DVD. I'm so excited, but also a little nervous. The show starts at 6 pm, and I'll be calling in around 6:20 to ask relevant and intelligent questions. I hope. Or I'll just stutter and giggle uncontrollably and forget my name. It's anybody's guess.
Dear Lord, Please don't let me embarrass myself in front of the whole wide blogradio world. Amen.
UPDATE: My blogradio debut did not end in catastrophe. Hallelujah and thank you Lord. I think the show will be archived at this link if you want to listen to it. Rob talks about the process they went through to create the CD and DVD, as well as their goal of making a music project that appeals to the whole family. My final plug for the CD: it would make a great Christmas/New Years/Baby Shower gift. The end.
Four years ago today, I started writing on the Internet. I had no idea what I was getting into exactly (and if I had I might have chosen a more clever blog name). My former student Angie had started this thing called a "blog," and I was intrigued. Maybe some of my students would be interested in reading about my pregnancy--especially since I had vehemently sworn I would never have children (yes, my fingers were crossed; no, I didn't really think I'd never have kids). They would get a big kick out of me, their stern English teacher, lamenting about hormones and food cravings.
And so I wrote.
It was mostly funny stuff, and I used up some of my creative energies by alternately writing between my voice and Sydney's. I told my family, but they thought it was weird. Weird that I was writing. Boring that I would write about my life. Odd that Sydney would have a voice when, of course, she couldn't really talk. Yet my former students hung around and encouraged me to keep at it.
I wandered around the blogworld with some trepidation. I saw people commenting, but it was still so foreign to me. Comment? On a stranger's blog? What would they think of me? I still don't comment on all the blogs I read because I have my moments of insecurities about my own writing. The first blog I ever commented on was Diane's at violetismycolor. I remember she had written a post about Oak's Park, and I was just so thrilled to find someone who lived in Portland. And then she commented on my blog, and it made my day.
After a year I moved from Blogger to Typepad, and here I have remained to give voice to parenting moments, teaching moments, personal moments. In four years I've gone from being a childless, former English teacher working at Red Robin as a waitress, to being a mom of one staying full-time at home, to being a mostly at-home mom of two working very part-time at teaching.
In four years I've written about buttons and backyards, food and family, joys and depression. I've been pregnant three times and had two children, my oldest who is now 184 weeks old. I've lost a friend and two grandparents. I've run out of gas, literally and figuratively. I've cried as I've typed up posts of frustration, laughed as I told funny (or not) jokes, smiled as I've shown off pictures of my family. I've even been bored with blogging, and probably bored a few of you a time or two.
In four years I've received more than 4500 comments, and this marks my 650th post here at Typepad. Some blog moments I think I'll always remember, like how I found Raehan through Catherine Newman's BabyCenter journal, or the poem I wrote about Sydney for her first birthday, or the post that brought ccap and Inkling's first comment, or even the times I've met bloggers in real life. I've discovered that my family finally decided to start reading my blog, and even some of my friends who thought I was a crazy lunatic a couple years ago when I was talking about what I do here at Creature Bug. I've struggled with how to review products while remaining true to my stories, wondered if anybody really likes my writing, worried that I spend too much time on the computer, regretted not commenting more often.
And still I write.
Even after four years, I still second guess my writing. It's silly to spend so much time wondering if I should put a comma here, or here, or there, but I do. That's why I don't post every day. I'd drive myself crazy, and probably everyone else as well. But one thing I always do every day and that's think about the people I've met over the course of these four years. I am thankful for each of you, even those who you who observe my little world in silence, because every time I look at my sitemeter or read a comment one of you blessed souls have left me, it lets me know I'm not alone in this crazy life.
I write because I want to capture the joys and trials of this life I'm living. I write because I have something to say. And I write because someone is listening.
Thanks for the last four years.
Last year I didn't win any prizes for NaBloPoMo.
This year I didn't win any prizes for NaBloPoMo. I couldn't even celebrate vicariously through any of my friends who were participating, because none of them won either. Meh.
If you'd like to comfort me in my time of loser-ness, you could perhaps take a gander at my Amazon wish list. (Note to whichever family member drew my name for the Christmas exchange: get me the rainboots. THE RAINBOOTS.) Diamonds are also oddly comforting, although you wouldn't think so with those jagged edges and bright sparkles.
Even if you decide not to add me to your Christmas list, I will say it warms my heart to read all your nice comments about the new banner. I'm kind of crazy in love with those two little girls, even though they refuse to allow me to sleep through the night.