Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dog, Dooce, and Drink

Three Good Things for the day (and today was a rough day):

  1. I braved the biting cold and took Toby to the dog park for the second time this week.  I'm trying to make it a point to get him out more often.  The dog park is yet another wonderful discovery in our new neighborhood.

  2. I did some dooce archive reading.  Leta is now 2 years old and repeating the final word of her parents' sentences - just like Sam was doing a few months back.  Thank god for mommy-bloggers.

  3. I found a bottle of the same champagne we enjoyed so much for Christmas dinner with Adam's parents.  Happy New Year!

I Think We Have a Winner

The last Montessori school I visited is going to be our top choice.  I didn't get that, "this is the one" feeling when I observed the classroom, though - I thought the kids were flailing about too much and the environment wasn't quite as attractive as one of the other 2 options on my list.  But they do indeed respect the 3 hour work cycle, as advertised.  Actually, it turns out to be more like 2 1/2 hours, but that time is uninterupted. 

Another thing I noticed was that the older children at this school were using the math beads, the moveable alphabet, and other reading and math tasks.  I didn't see much of that at any of the other schools.

I'm a bit concerned about the ideological garbage at this school: environmentalism, multiculturalism, religion, and volunteerism.  They have one elementary class, and the kids "volunteer" at a soup kitchen or something.  The administrator spoke about how they try to get the kids to see that "it's not all about them - that they are just a part of a community."  This disturbs me, but I can't say it's any worse at this school than it would be anywhere. 

Our backup school is the one I that said felt cramped, but I ruled out the one with the more attractive environment because the tuition was quite a bit higher.

Now I have to figure out how in the world we can afford this.


Forgive me, Internet, for I have sinned.  It has been 44 days since my last confession.

I've grown to like Diane Rehm.  She's a radio host with a speech impediment.  For years that fact alone made me turn off NPR in disgust every time I heard her voice.  (I'll never get over the fact that at my very first real job, I worked with a legally deaf woman who was hired to answer the phone!)  Rehm is also an infuriating liberal.  But she is a good interviewer and I learn a lot from her show.  As long as I'm at it, I'll admit that I think Bill O'Reilly is a good interviewer too, despite his disgusting character and idiotic populist views.  I haven't watched his show in years, but I always thought he asked real questions, unlike so many "journalists" who elicit nothing of substance from their subjects, except what you already know.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Why do dogs think lotion is food?  At least cat poo has protein in it.

Good Things

Thanks to Jean Moroney for another simple, and hopefully valuable, idea: each day, write down three good things that happened in the last 24 hours.  I can always use a little help staying on the positive side, so I think I'll try it here on the blog for a while.  In the last 24 hours:

  1. I took Sam to our local library for the first time and it turned out to be a beautiful new building with a great selection of books.  I love our new neighborhood.

  2. I took Sam to our local (indoor) pool for the first time, and again, it was a nice, clean facility and we had a blast.

  3. I watched a movie that goes on my Top 50 List for sure: The Man Who Would Be King.  What a grand adventure!  And how can you go wrong with Sean Connery and Michael Caine?

Sunday, December 28, 2008


It finally happened!  Somebody found my blog by searching for "how to clean moss off of a sidewalk."



A few years back we almost had the chance to live in Alaska for a year, and now that I've lived in 8 cities in 7 different states, I'm so glad we ended up in New Orleans instead.

When we lived in Michigan we missed the sun during winter.  It was cloudy most days, and when the sun did come out, it just meant that it would be colder than usual because there were no clouds to hold in the heat.  The sun had no power to warm.  You couldn't feel it on your skin at all - you only knew it was there by looking.  Chocolate and cozy fires a few times a week got us through until April, when we'd start to feel like winter was over.

Here in Virginia I still hate the shortened days and chilly weather, but it is 68 degrees right now!  Even on cold days, when the sun is out it is powerful enough to warm up the inside of your car a bit.  You have a chance to soak up that energy and to produce some vitamin D.

The weather in Florida ranged from about 60-80 degrees while we were there.  It rained once, but otherwise, the sun was shining.  It was HOT.  It felt like summer.  I had to move into the shade after a half hour of sunning because I got overheated.  It was heavenly.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bananagrams and the Ghost

This was the Christmas of Bananagrams and Finding the Ghost.

Bananagrams is Scrabble on speed.  You use the same kind of tile letters as in Scrabble, but you don't use a board and you don't keep score.  You start with about 15-20 tiles (depending on how many players) and just start building words in a crossword pattern.  There are no points for using uncommon letters - it's all about using them up.  When a player uses up his initial set of tiles, he shouts "PEEL" and then everyone, including the peeler, picks up one more tile and tries to finish again.  There are 144 tiles so the peeling is a big part of the game.  When you build a good base, you can add single letters to your board as quickly as you can pick them up, so the peeling can be a real thrill.  When there are no more tiles to peel, the next player to use up his letters wins.  You can also play Banana Smoothie where you simply divide up all the letters at the start and try to be the first one to use them up.

I think the best thing about Bananagrams is that everybody plays at once, unlike Scrabble, where you spend a lot of the time just waiting your turn.  The game can be serious or raucous depending on your mood, the concept and the rules are simple, it's super-portable (just a bag with tiles in it), and you can play with only 2 people if you want to.  Just like Scrabble, you get the pleasure of using your mind - concentrating, being creative, and drawing upon a huge storehouse of knowledge.  And the feedback is immediate - win or lose - but completely inconsequential to your success in life. 

Thanks to Adam's sis (is that a word? I need a Scrabble dictionary) for introducing us to this fabulous game!  The adults played it endlessly the whole week. 

Samantha and her second-cousin (cousin-once-removed?) had their own game: Find the Ghost.  It was nothing more than hide and seek - another game that has a simple concept.  Adam's dad had joked about their new house having ghosts, so when the ten-year-old cousin gave me a wink and then snuck upstairs, I told Sam to go find the ghost.  That girl is a master hider!  The girls had so much fun with this game that the first thing Sam said the next morning was FIND GHOST FIND GHOST, as if she had been dreaming about it all night. 

Games are fun.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We're having a wonderful Christmas in sunny Florida with my in-laws.  I've been swimming twice, ridden on two killer roller coasters, seen some tigers, read two popular novels, and have been introduced to the greatest game since Pictionary.  I took a nap today, too.  Hallelujah!

And I have showered and washed my hair 7 straight days in a row.  I hadn't been keeping track, but I'm fairly certain that that is the record since Sam was born 2 years, 3 months, and 23 days ago.

More details to come...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

OK - One more post before Christmas

I'll never hear YYZ the same way again.  I thought we were supposed to think that Rush was an amazing band for making all this sound with only THREE musicians!


(via list of the day)

Friday, December 19, 2008


Luckily, we will be having Christmas this year.  We're going to Florida to visit Adam's parents.  We managed to put up a few little Christmas decorations around the house, but no tree or outside lights.  Santa will come while we are gone and leave a few things.

This is the third year in a row that we'll be away for Christmas.  We visited Adam's parents in St. Louis for Sam's first Christmas, then last year we were literally homeless, in between living in San Diego and Lexington, so we stayed at our super-great friends' house in Richmond.  My mom pointed out that these early years are really the best time to take Sam to other places for Christmas - when she gets older it will be more important to stay home. 

I finished my "Christmas shopping" today.  We managed to make zero Christmas shopping trips by picking up items here and there along the way.  Besides Christmas cards (which I'm very proud to say that we got out in early December) we didn't buy a single thing for anybody other than Sam.  I picked up stocking stuffers at Target (where I've been 4 times in the past 3 weeks for stuff we need for the house) and Adam picked out the big-ticket item at Ikea: an easel which has paper, chalkboard, and whiteboard.  I know she'll get some nice things from the grandparents and maybe a couple of friends, and that is enough.

I'm looking forward to the vacation.  I really need a break and I'm hoping the grandparents will take over and let me sleep in a few days.  I probably won't blog while we're gone, so I'll take this opportunity to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas.  Get off your computers and go play with your kids!

Little Samantha

This was the first song we made up for Sam. 

Sing this to the tune of You Are My Sunshine:

Little Samantha
Little Samantha
We really love you
Yes we do
We really love you
Little Samantha
Your pee, your puke and your poo

Chew Your Food

Sing this to the tune of Three Blind Mice:

Chew your food
Chew your food
Chew your food
Chew your food
Chomp it up like a good dinosaur
After you swallow you can let out a roar
And if you're still hungry you can have some more
Chew your food

It's Not a Problem, it's an Opportunity

I'm having a real problem with time sickness again.  Any time I'm doing something that is either purely for myself (taking a shower, eating, writing in my blog) or where my body is occupied but my mind is not (doing dishes, driving, letting out the dog) I feel panic setting in.  All I can think about is how many other things I need to do, and that I should be doing them and not what I'm doing now.

This is nothing new, and it's entirely predictable that it would crop up again while we're in this "moving in" stage.  As a matter of fact, when I looked up the entry I just linked to, I saw that it was about one month after our last move.   That's about where we are now.  It's true that I can barely keep my head above water at the moment, but getting all worked up about it doesn't solve anything.  I also keep forgetting to recognize all the things that I have accomplished, and I allow myself to wallow in the, "I'll never get out of this hole" mode of thinking.  I wonder where my youthful confidence went - the feeling that as long as I'm working hard and doing the right thing, that things will work out ok.  They always have.

Intellectually, at least, I know what my problem is, but it's still very hard to snap out of it.  But the cheesy phrase I used as the title of this post actually does help, as does writing about it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Little Thing

Santa Claus came to ask all the children at Samantha's school what they wanted for Christmas.  The teacher made a list to keep track.  One kid wanted a pony.  Another wanted a race car.  One sad child wanted his mommy for Christmas.

Sam wanted a book.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dog Park Alert!

There is a dog park across the street from my house!

It was about 60 degrees out today so I took the girl and the dog across the street to explore this park.  From the street it just looks like this big grassy area - no play equipment or basketball courts - just grass and some bushes.  I thought there must be something behind those bushes but an off-leash dog park never crossed my mind.  But there it was, like a Christmas bonus for my buddy. (Sam already has a playground in our development and a kiddie park one block away.)

Toby and Flash (Secret Lovers)I couldn't let Toby in today since I had Sam with me, but I see many fun weekend afternoons in our future.  I'm so happy for Toby.  He's never gotten over having to leave our hilltop home in Lexington, where he roamed free with the cows and horses.  Here he is with his favorite, Flash.  They would chase each other along that fence while the other two huffed and pretended they didn't know those two goofs.  We took to singing, "Secret Lovers" every time they played.  Ahh, I miss that place too.

Highly Opinionated

When Samantha was born, both the midwife who helped me deliver her and Sam's pediatrician used the same phrase to describe her: highly opinionated.  Even though Adam and I didn't mind the idea of a highly opinionated child (in fact we bragged a bit!), we never saw it.  She seemed like a pretty average baby, and in some ways, pretty easy - sleeping through the night at 10 weeks and adapting to all kinds of new situations with relative ease.

I don't know what those experts could see in a newborn, but recently, their predictions have come true.  Sam has reached the developmental stage where she is asserting her own will.  This has been building for weeks, but she really hit her stride in the past week.  And as always, the biggest challenge of parenting, (given that you have some good basic principles) is keeping up with the changes.

Sam is using every trick in the book to get our attention or to see what she can get away with.  When I give her a two-option choice, she says, "A," and then as soon as I start to act on it, she says, "B."  By the time I realized that this was not cute, I had already accepted it as normal and it never hit me to change how I react. 

She has started to scream for hours most nights.  At first I thought it was nightmares and I would go in to comfort her, but we've been through this whole cycle before and the solution is always to stop going in. We stopped going in about 5 days ago and we had one quiet night, but now she's back to marathon crying.  I'm not sure how she has any voice left.

She started refusing to look at us when we talk, especially after a time-out when we'd talk to her about what she did wrong.  Adam actually made some good headway on this issue by giving her a series of about 20 time-outs until she looked at him when he talked.  But it's still a problem.

She's been crying wolf with the "boo-boos."  When brushing her teeth, she points to her mouth and says "boo-boo."  When she wants to delay putting on her coat just one more minute, she finds a bruise or scrape and says, "boo-boo."  And when all else fails, she hurts herself.  She'll fall out of a chair or run into something, and yesterday, she took hold of a table leg with both hands and slammed her forehead into it.  This was right after she tripped over the rug and banged her eye on Adam's elbow, which was right after a 45 minute time-out session where she threw herself out of the chair about 100 times, and just prior to puking up her first bite of dinner because she had been crying so long and hard she couldn't hold down food.

Because we've been moving, I haven't been able to keep up with these changes.  But Adam and I both knew we had to change something after this weekend, and after talking about it, we're going to crack down with the time-outs.  We were very consistent with using time-outs for hitting and she completely stopped that.  Since then, I've tried to use the time-out only for heinous behavior, but as her behavior has gotten worse, I've raised the standard of heinous for fear of giving too many time-outs.  This is not the way to do it.  There need to be firm standards for her behavior, and more time-outs will lead to less time-outs (I hope).  We've decided to give time-outs for:

  • Any type of physical force: hitting, pushing, biting, etc.

  • Not following instructions after a maximum of 2 repetitions plus one warning. 

  • Screaming or yelling in response to a question after one warning to speak nicely.

We've also decided to renew our commitment to ignoring her when she gets hurt.  This is extremely difficult to do and I used to be very good at it.  But lately I've been trying to comfort her more since I worry about her being unsettled from the move.  WRONG.  As Adam pointed out, the best thing we can do to help her through the chaos of the move is to remain consistent.  And I'm scared enough by the head-banging to stop worrying about whether she needs a hug.

Another reason my efforts at discipline are degenerating is that I have not been clear on whether or not I should expect obedience from her.  Up until now, we've tried to mostly use distraction and playing games to get her to cooperate, so I haven't had to really face the issue of obedience - the dreaded, YOU MUST DO IT BECAUSE I SAID SO.  But at this age, Sam must obey.  We give her explanations and always speak to her with respect.  We do not bark orders at her.  We give her choices.  We give her time to process what we say and we give her warnings that a change will be coming up (3 more times down the slide then we leave the playground, etc.).  But there are no games or distractions that will get Sam to cooperate with a diaper change or put on her coat anymore if she decides not to.  Her whole purpose right now is to try NOT to do what we say, just to see if she can get away with it.  She knows when I'm weak or hesitant to give a time out, and that's when she tests me.  Still, I don't like the word, "obey."  Yesterday I coined the term, "listen and do."  Sam is now required to "listen and do," and when we talk to her about it, we explain how she needs to listen with her ears, understand with her mind, and do with her body.

I really have no idea if Samantha is any more opinionated than other children her age.  But I do know that if there is a difference, it's just a matter of degree.  This defiance is natural and necessary.  And it's our job as parents to guide her towards independence within boundaries.  Wish us luck!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nora, The Piano Playing Cat

This is Nora.  Her servants are my aunt and uncle-in-law, Betsy and Burnell.  Betsy is a Suzuki Method piano teacher and has given us some great tips for fostering Samantha's love of the piano.  They also gave us Nora's book, which Sam absolutely loves.

You might find something a bit familiar about 36 seconds into the video.



Friday, December 12, 2008

A Little Thing

I'm wearing my contact lenses for the first time since I got that series of colds that lasted, I kid you not, 70 days.  Actually, I put the lenses in once when I thought I was getting better but I had to take them out after a couple of hours when the eye boogies took over.  What a relief to take off those glasses!  Soft contact lenses are definitely one of the blessings of our modern age. 

The concept of the contact lens was first proposed by none other than Leonardo da Vinci.  (What a great mind!)  Hard glass lenses were in use in the late 19th century, but I'm not sure by whom - it must have been torture to wear them.  It was in the 1940's that all-plastic lenses were invented, but they were still very uncomfortable.  The men we have to thank for today's modern lenses are Czechoslovakian chemist Otto Wichterle and his assistant, Dr. Drahoslav Lim.  They invented the lenses in the late fifties and some countries were using the product in the sixties, but of course, the FDA did not approve the hydrogel or "Softlens" material for use in the U.S. until 1971, when Bausch & Lomb introduced the first commercially available soft contact lens here.  Dr. Lim actually invented the soft, water absorbing plastic they used, hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA).  Another great leap forward thanks to materials innovation! (Summarized from this, this and this.)

I'm sure many of you are thinking that the contact lens is old news and I should be writing about vision correction surgery.  But I write about the Little Things that are important to me, and I'm not a good candidate for LASIK or other corrective surgery since I only have one working eye and so no room for error.  Besides, I thought it was an interesting history.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Montessori Observations

I've now observed 4 Montessori schools.  The plan is for Samantha to start school next fall, which means I have to decide on a school and register her sometime between January and March.  Unfortunately, I've been at least a little bit disappointed with all the schools I've seen so far.  I've ruled out 2 schools, one of which ended up being too far away and one which was Montessori-lite and charged about 30% more than average to boot. 

Both of the others are acceptable.  They use Montessori materials and set up the classrooms attractively and properly.  The students at both schools acted independently, choosing their own work, focusing, and respecting the other children.  However, neither school has a true 3 hour work cycle.  Between the "occasional" Spanish class, art time, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, circle time, lunch time, and outside time, the time spent on the "work" of the Montessori method is fragmented.  At one school I also felt the classroom was too cramped and cluttered, and at the other, that the teachers were a bit too involved in the childrens' work.  Of course, both schools propagandize the kids with religion and environmentalism, but not to an extent that I would reject them. 

Today I found a school that I'm really excited about.  I'm going to observe the classroom on Monday.  This school actually explains and defends the 3 hour work cycle on its web site.  Pictures of the classrooms bode well.  It has reasonable tuition and no other glaring problems.  I've got a feeling about this one and I can't wait to see it.  It's so exciting to be working on this aspect of Samantha's future!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Here's another one:  Why do people use placemats?  Is it supposed to be easier to clean the placemat than the table?  I can understand a tablecloth, but only if you have an ugly table.  If it's a nice table, don't you want to see it?  This all seems to be one step away from covering your furniture in plastic.

A Little Thing

Now that we have 2 sinks in our master bathroom again, it's not ridiculous for me and my husband to each use our own favorite brand of toothpaste.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Does anybody iron their clothes anymore?  I've never ironed and yes, my clothes are wrinkled some of the time (but not often, thanks to this).  But, seriously, after sorting, washing, and drying clothes, does anyone really get out an ironing board and an iron, put water in it, wait for it to heat up, and spend multiple minutes per item making them just perfect, then folding or hanging?  And I've heard a rumor that some people actually iron their sheets!  What planet do they live on?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

When Supergluing Your Fingers Together is Not a Mistake

Ever since my first real winter in Chicago 1999-2000 (I grew up in Los Angeles), I've had terrible problems with dry skin.  In Chicago, my heels cracked so badly they bled, which was painful enough, but last winter my fingers started splitting.  Right where the edge of the nail meets the finger I got these deep cuts.  Two of my favorite activities, writing (typing) and cooking, became torture.  It started up again about a week ago and was so bad I decided to try my father's trick - Superglue.  Yes, I glued my fingers back together.  It works!

Home Improvements

We've lived in our new home for one week now and we've been busy.  Well, our handyman has been busy and I'm exhausted from monitoring him.  So far we've:

  • replaced the carpet

  • painted Samantha's room

  • replaced the kitchen faucet

  • replaced the garbage disposal

  • installed a light switch in the basement storage room

  • replaced all the rotten wood trim on the front windows and fixed the leak that caused it

  • caulked a cracked front step

  • reset some of the tile in the basement shower

  • fixed a broken kitchen cabinet

  • cleaned the chimney

  • cleaned the dryer vent (which was so full of lint that the dryer did not work)

There are only a few more urgent things on the list, plus unpacking and cleaning.  We're feeling secure enough that we decided to go to Florida for Christmas with Adam's folks.  Now, if only I could find the towels so that I can change out this one I've been using for over 2 weeks...

Reading List

The absence of an imminent move has made me feel ambitious again.  For close to 2 years, I've told myself, "no, not now," to so many of the values I want to pursue.  I was afraid it would become a habit, but the moment we moved I felt a weight lifting and an excitement brewing.

I thought my to do list was long before, but now it's growing like mad.  The difference is that the things on my list now will advance my life instead of just maintaining it.

One thing that's going back on my list is a big project called getting a Western Civ education.  I have temporary but open-ended custody of the Great Books of the Western World series (thanks, Stace!).  I started reading straight from the ten year plan about ten years ago, but dropped it...well, when we moved from Chicago to New Orleans.  Three things have inspired me to start up again:  1) I heard an interview with this guy on NPR and he talked about St. Johns College where they have a Great Books program, 2) We unpacked our series and put it back up on our bookshelves, and 3) I ran across this reading challenge and thought that I can finally get organized about reading again too.

Let life begin again!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Little Thing

Our new neighborhood is pretty upscale and I must say, it is a pleasure to shop in a decent grocery store again.  Our old neighborhood was fine but for some reason the supermarkets were horrible.  I have a new appreciation for all the services my new store provides.  They keep the shopping carts inside so you don't freeze your hands.  They have cart return caddies in the parking lot.  The aisles are wide enough for 3 carts.  And there is a Starbucks inside.  Heaven.

Prepared Environment

I'm in my third home since I took my course with Cornelia Lockitch and learned about the Montessori principle of the prepared environment.  In the first house, I did things like set up a "shoe basket" for Sam to put her shoes away in, but not much else since Sam was just starting to walk and we were moving in a few months.  In the second, I set up the basement as Sam's playroom, putting her toys on shelves at her level and buying some kid-sized furniture.  I put my office there too, so that we could both "work" at the same time.

This time, I'm trying something new.  I'm integrating Sam even more into our household set up.  We are in a three-level townhouse again, which really chops up the living area.  But instead of relegating Sam to the basement, I've made the dining room her main play area, with our dining table in the eat-in kitchen (much more convenient anyway).  Since I need to have access to my computer in small bursts as well as long stretches, I have to have it on the main level of the house where we spend most of our time.  The basement did not work for me in the last house - it was just too much trouble to go down there, and I ended up using an old laptop in the kitchen most of the time.  The need for an office on the main level sparked the idea to make our living room a "library" instead of primarily a TV room. 

Adam and I do like to watch TV and movies, but we do it almost exclusively after Samantha is asleep for the night.  We don't leave the TV on while we are doing other things - we decide to watch and we make an event of it.  It makes so much more sense to put the TV in the basement.  We even have an extra refrigerator and microwave down there.

Our living room now houses my office and all of our books.  Luckily it's a big room!  Adam has so many books and he loves to see them out on display.  Although we'll still keep most of Sam's books in her bedroom where we do most of our reading, we are setting aside one shelf of each bookcase for her in the living room.  I think this will become even more important as she gets older.  We plan to get some cozy reading chairs, which will also serve to make the room work for those rare times when we invite people over.  Still, it's not a formal living room because it is open to the playroom (or should I call it Sam's living room?) and there will be toys in view.  Oh, horror!  We have a child and there are toys in the house!  What about clutter and toy encroachment?  Well, part of the principle of the prepared environment is that the child should respect the order of the house and keep toys in their proper places.  Having them in the main area of the house forces that issue for all of us.  I'll be sure to post updates about how I set up the play area and how it is working.  Right now it's just full of boxes.

Sticking the child's area into a back room or basement may be necessary in some cases, but I think you need to be careful about why you are doing it.  Are you acting on the premise that your child is a less important member of the household?  Are you keeping the toys away from public areas so that you don't need to teach your child to clean up, or because of some idea that toys are unsightly?

I'm very excited about this new set up.  I think it will change the way we live.  I think it shows respect for Samantha.  I think it reflects my own family's values instead of some second-handed idea of what a house should look like.

And there is still an extra room that I can turn into a classroom when the time comes.  Yipee!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's All About Values

Two years old is not too young for an Advent calendar.  Sam has already been "counting," meaning that she parrots the sounds, one-two-three, etc.  She definitely knows the concepts "one" and "two."  I have a feeling that she's going to be focused on learning her numbers this month, now that chocolate is involved.  It's all about values.

The Sam Update - Twenty Seven Months Old

SamThis is supposed to be the big quarterly update with multiple photos, but since we're unpacking I'm glad to simply say that Samantha is handling all the chaos like a champ.  She loves the new house and on her first day at her new daycare, she napped and ate and had a great time.  What a great kid!