Friday, August 31, 2007

Toddler Philosophy 101 (Notable Quotables)

It's pretty interesting to hear Will (and believe me, hear him we do!) trying to figure out the workings of the world.

Here are some recent quotes from Will:

1) "I won't hurt Daddy's feelings. Men don't have feelings. Only ladies have feelings." (Andy thought it was hilarious that Will had figured out this Eternal Truth at such a young age.)

2) (Throwing a stuffed ball - which was of course never once actually caught - back and forth with Julia) "We are the BRAVES!"

3) "Mama, I'm your other husband."

4) About my brother Vic's dog Sandy, "Is that his wife?"
5) (I think this one proves how truly, insufferably hot this summer has been...)
Mom: Will, what do you want for your birthday?
Will: Candles. (Because every birthday cake needs candles.)
Mom: What else?
Will: Walkie-talkies. But the walkie-talkies have to be in a box like Scott got. (Scott is Will's cousin. We went to his seventh birthday party a couple of weeks ago.)
Mom: Anything else?
Will: Water, 'cause I might get thirsty at my birthday.
Mom: OK.
Will: And I want a fan. A lot of fans. A ceiling fan for our kitchen like Mrs. Debbie has, 'cause we don't have one. We need a ceiling fan for our breakfast room where we eat breakfast.
(The poor child is turning three and he requests water and a fan for his birthday! Maybe we all need to take Al Gore a little more seriously.)

6) Will is emptying the lint receptacle in the dryer. "Mama, I need a dust mask. Do you know where the dust masks are?" "Nope." "Well, this is dusty. I might get dust in my eyes."

7) (Loudly to me as we are passing a grocery stockBOY), "Mama, that's Spoono's wife right there!" (What can I do but say "OK" quietly and motor swiftly away with our Car Cart before the poor guy turns around?)

8) "Why do we have to clean up?" "Because our friends Mr. Stan, Mrs. Tasha and Isabella are coming over tonight." "Why are they coming over?" "Because they're our friends and they want to spend time with us." "Well, MY friends are at Mrs. Debbie's house!"

9) (This is when I realized our corporal punishment, such as it is, might be a little lax.) "Will, you have to clean up all those hangers you made fall on the floor." "But I don't want to!" "But you have to." "But I just want you to give me a spanking."

10) (Get your "Aww...s" ready) "Mama, I very completely love you."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Martha Within

If you know me, you know my Domestic Diva is buried deep, deep within. I was beginning to doubt her existence, but every few years she makes an unexpected appearance and surprises us all. Last sighting: Hmmm... cross-stitching during college comes to mind, circa 1996. I'm not sure what summons this elusive genie from her bottle normally, but this time it was sheer embarrassment.

Let me explain that we use our "breakfast" table for every meal. Even when we have visitors, I've found that it's easier to squeeze everyone around the breakfast table than venture into the dining room. I'd stir up so much dust trying to get that room ready to eat in, we'd all be in respiratory distress. Plus the chairs are big so it's hard to squeeze extras in. (Our next house is going to have one gigantic eating area and THAT'S IT!)

It turns out being used daily with small children and also for guests is not an easy combination. Our fabric-covered chairs had become quite faded and suffered massive spill-related trauma. The funny thing is that they were almost all equally disgusting, even though Will uses some much more often than others. So he may be the scapegoat for all of us messy eaters.

I've sat down to numerous meals with guests on these, each time wincing in embarrassment when I pulled out my chair and hoping no one else would notice how gross they were. But last weekend I finally reached my breaking point and went to JoAnn's Etc to pick out new fabric.

Naturally I picked out $35/yard fabric. This was more expensive than most special-order fabric, and if it had been special order, it would in fact have been 50% off. But because they had it in stock, I was forced to wait and beg, steal or borrow a coupon. (See previous post re: free couches. You can guess that I do not pay $35/yard for fabric!) Thanks to Mom F.'s expedient mailing, today (8/24) I went to JoAnn's with 40% off coupon in hand and walked out with said fabric.

I still felt like it was awfully expensive, but as I was wandering through the store, people kept looking in my buggy. I'm pretty used to this, as everyone compliments me on Sophie, asks how old she is, how I ended up with a baby supermodel, etc. However, this time they surprised me by complimenting me on the fabric (Um, guys, I didn't make this stuff. It's on a rack at the back of the store.). One lady was so excited about it she wanted to know all about what I was going to do with it! All of this contributed to me feeling pretty OK about this unusually expensive purchase.

This afternoon I spent about three hours recovering all seven breakfast chairs (we have an extra at the "kitchen desk"). And here you see the before and afters (yes, for further self-humiliation, I am showing you just how nasty these were):





P. S. I have enough fabric left over for a valance for the windows in the pictures. I'll have to post a picture of it once it's done, too.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Papa's Little Angel


A few of you had the privilege of knowing my Papa (equal emphasis of both syllables), Will and Sophie's Great Grandfather. He was a wonderful man and died when I was in elementary school. All the time I knew him, he was paralyzed on one side of his body from a stroke. The stroke also affected and "mixed up" his emotions. He would start laughing at something, and in a matter of seconds he'd be crying. They weren't tears of sadness - they were tears of joy in the truest sense.

Now my little Soph is like Papa reincarnated. I'll tickle and play with her and she'll start laughing, and in a few seconds I'll have to stop to see how I hurt her, only to find a delighted grin on her face. When she laughs her big belly laugh, it sounds like she is crying. This brings back sweet memories of my grandfather, his "Slopped Dripper" (some of you know what that means!) and all the other things that made him laugh. And I think he must be looking down at Sophie with a big proud smile and tears running down his face.

With love from Papa's Little Brown Jug

Friday, August 24, 2007

Potty Odyssey

Now that Will is potty-trained, I find that a major component of my life involves visiting restrooms in public places, and discussing whether they are clean and whether clean people or dirty people use them. This stems from the fact that Will doesn't stand in front of the potty yet, but sits, and needs to know whether it is acceptable for him to put his hands on the potty (NO! YUCK!) or place them on his thighs (THANK YOU! GOOD JOB!).

I've tried to explain that we don't touch ANY potties except for those at home but Will argues that there are exceptions to this rule. This results in vigorous hand-washing, made all the more challenging by the fact I am usually propping him on my knee so he can reach the sink while balancing Sophie on my other hip.

So bonus points to those potties with a sink that isn't installed in the corner of the room, leaving poor Sophie plastered against the drying station or else me trying to vigorously wash Will's hands with my RIGHT hand. (I'm not ambidextrous. Not even close.) EXTRA bonus points to those that have a little seat for infants built in to the wall. (Unfortunately, these are very rare, and if it's not an exceptionally clean restroom, I wouldn't put my little one in there anyway.)

Going into this phase of Will's life, I had assumed that by asking "Do you need to use the potty?" before we left the house, like all good parents do, I would happily avoid the frequent use of public restrooms and thereby keep my baby's sweet little tush as germ-free as possible. There were a couple of miscalculations in this assumption:

#1 - Will LOVES to visit foreign potties. The more exotic, the better. If there is an automatic flusher, faucet or hand-dryer, the excitement level is elevated significantly (as is the chance that multiple trips will be requested).

#2 - Will plans ahead. So when I ask him, "Do you need to use the potty?" before leaving the house, he confidently answers, "Well, there's a potty at {insert destination} that I can use." I've expounded on the benefits of in-home potty use, but these seem to fall on deaf ears. Since some battles aren't worth fighting, I do want him to take ownership of the potty process and I also want to leave the house within the next half hour, we venture out anyway.

I'm now offering a potty-review service for all of you that are or will be potty-training soon.

Dirty Potties:
First convenience store off exit 96 in Bedford County. (Not recommended for anyone that has to sit to do their business. Unfortunately, it's 7 miles to the next exit.)
Taco Bell/Pizza Hut at Nipper's Corner
Lowe's on Nolensville Road
Captain D's in Brentwood

Marginal Potties:
Kohl's in Cool Springs
Las Palmas at Nipper's (I think they really try, but I am pretty discerning; these are my baby's buns we're talking about)

Clean Potties:
Publix at Nippers Corner (a real superlative since we were the first to use it since it was cleaned! Yay!)
Kroger at Nippers Corner (this barely escaped "Marginal" status because the automatic lights make it a bit gloomy at first)
Panera (thanks for bearing with us through TWO trips in the space of 20 minutes)
Kroger gas station at Concord and Nolensville (definitely an A-lister of gas station potties)
Joann Etc in Cool Springs
Snappy Tomato

If there are any others you're wondering about, just ask! Chances are, we've been there or will be there soon!


Coming soon to a potty near you!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Ultimate Achievement in Thrifty Living


You guys all know how cheap we are, and how much we pride ourselves on our deals. But we recently reached a new high, a crowning achievement that should secure our place as King and Queen of Cheapdom for years to come.

With a lot of patience, a little scheming, a bit of happy coincidence and a great willingness to move large furniture, we've managed to acquire two matching couches for our home theater. Total cost = FREE.

I know, I know. You're wondering how this impossible mission was accomplished. I understand. I am a little amazed myself, and I am fully aware of how good we are at getting great deals. Let me retrace the steps to Free Twin Couch Euphoria.

1) About two subdivisions and three years ago, Andy met a new homeowner with a strong desire to rid herself of one couch. But not just any couch. A very nice and modern purple couch. Well, having just moved into a house about 2.5 times our previous one, and not one to let a homebuyer down, Andy was quick to take this problem off her hands. Enter purple couch #1.

2) Realizing two couches in the home theater would be ideal, we went shopping for a similar model. You can imagine our glee when we found that the EXACT model was still available in stores such as Sofa Express in Cool Springs. Approximate retail value $995. Do Andy and Kathy pay a cool G for a couch, especially for a room other than the den? Silly question. So on with the passage of time.

3) Our marvelous and cool friends Chad and Kathi come visit. Lo and behold, they, like Sofa Express, have the exact same model of purple couch. But alas, they aren't ready to sell their couch to us. So again, on with the passage of time.

4) Andy's company has some furniture in storage in one of their model homes, including one very cool orange plaid couch. Management orders the community employees to rid themselves of all furniture in the garage, so that the garage will look like a garage instead of a self-storage unit. So this very cool orange plaid couch seems dumpster-bound. Ah, no - not with Andy Flanigan around. The very cool orange plaid couch comes to live at our house.

5) Our marvelous and cool friends Chad and Kathi come to visit. We show off our new marvelous and cool orange plaid couch to them. A match made in heaven! Chad and Kathi are eager for a couch trade. And we have been lying in wait for just such an urge. Ka-chow! Thanks to one 4WD Ford truck, Couch Swap 2007 is on!

And that's how history is made, my friends. No, really - there's no need for applause. We just want all you other cheapskates out there to use our story as an inspiration in your own lives. There's no limit to what you can achieve with a little patience, creativity, and energy. Cash is completely unnecessary.

Monday, August 20, 2007

"Firsts" for Sophie

Besides a visit to a place akin to the bowels of hades and just about as hot (otherwise known as our latest investment property), Sophie has experienced some other historic firsts in the last few days.

She's starting to become a parade-car-style waver. I feel like she's a bit late to board the waving train, but it's not something we tried to teach her until recently. (We're not so big on goodbyes and tend to make them more matter-of-fact and less of a learning opportunity.)

(I have to cite Shelly's blog for inspiration for this next part of the post. Her results to the following experiment were similar, possibly slightly more successful, than mine.) I decided to try ponytails today. Turns out, I may have been a little early on this effort, but the results were cute anyway. Here you see Sophie not only sporting her ponytails but also giving the pretty baby in the mirror a big open-mouth kiss (the only kind worth giving, as far as she's concerned).
Here, along with the ponytails, Sophie coyly hints at her other latest first. Yep, she finally has a tooth! It's barely visible and in a pretty expected place, the front bottom. This development is much less interesting than Will's first tooth. He kept us in suspense for two months longer before popping out a weird top/side fang.




(P.S. I realize some of you may argue with my "ponytail" terminology, since I've debated this very issue with Andy. I'm not sure if it's a Northern/Southern difference or what, but our definitions on hairstyles differ and we are both equally convinced that we are right. Andy maintains that a ponytail is singular and pigtails are plural. I contend that number doesn't matter; a ponytail is loose and a pigtail is braided (a simple braid as opposed to a French braid or a plat.). Since this is obviously a very critical issue, feel free to post any strong opinions you may have. I don't think I'm going to bend on this, but I am glad to hear you out. I will say, though, that I have dismissed Andy's argument that "There is only one tail on a pony!" since there is clearly only one tail on a pig as well.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Southlake, Day 3 (Surprises Revealed)

So the last few days have revealed some interesting surprises at the Southlake property.

Surprise #1 was that under the paneling in the living room, the walls were painted a frightening jet black with fluorescent paint depicting fun items like handprints, skulls and marijuana plants. Very classy as you can see from the pictures.


And this one's just for you, Annie. It seems that in our family, a prerequisite for investment properties is that they must feature pictures of Satan himself on the walls.
Surprise #2, definitely not pictured, was a very serious and (it would seem) expensive collection of pornography that filled the attic. We're talking hundreds and hundreds, maybe thousands, of magazines. Again, very classy. Too bad we didn't know about this in advance, as Andy may have been able to get volunteer helpers!

Nevertheless, the progress continues at a terrific speed, thanks to Andy's initiative and the hard work of himself, Jose, Abel and Blake. Here you see Dumpster #1, filled to capacity and schedule to be picked up and replaced ASAP (Monday or Tuesday).
Here you see the junkiest corner of the house, now mostly cleaned up.
Front hasn't changed much (other than the addition of the building permit in the front window).
Big changes in the kitchen! Cabinets and appliances are gone (did any of you want that stove? I think it's still available...) Washer/dryer was removed after this picture was taken.
Here's the dining room in its current state. That's the bathtub you can see just past Sophie through the stud wall.
Bedrooms are cleared of debris now.

Also, attic and crawl space are completely cleaned out save one water heater in the attic, which will have to wait until the attic stair is removed due to its large size.

Andy's very enthused with the progress thusfar. Up for this week: Contract central air installation, determine electrical upgrades needed to accomodate central air, design and order new kitchen cabinets, sheetrock removal, wall cleaning (where existing sheetrock will be painted), tree trimming, floor leveling, and framing in a new bathroom!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Shocking New Photos!

OK, now that I've gotten your attention, I must say that I do intend to deliver on the promise. But a little background first...

On Sunday, July 29th, we met our renters and gave them the keys to the Durrett property. We knew that we wanted to do a "rehab and retail" next (my preference to the term "flip", which sounds WAY too easy) to generate cash for our next down payment on a rental property. We currently are operating on a theory that "flip one, hold one, flip one, hold one" is the way to go.
However, Andy and I had talked at length about our next project and my hopes that it would not manifest itself too quickly. Besides the constraints that a big project has on our weekends, he has a long list of things he'd like to do around our own house (and I must confess I have a few items on that list too). You know how the cobbler's child is the worst shod, or however that saying goes.

But lo and behold, at 10:00 on Monday, July 30 (THE DAY AFTER WE GAVE AWAY OUR KEYS TO DURRETT), my phone rings at work. It's Andy. "We need to go look at a house at lunch!" he says. A new house was just listed that morning that looked intriguing (READ: might need a lot of work and is priced accordingly).

Let's just say my enthusiasm was not exactly unbridled, but I trust Andy and I know it's better for him to see the property and - hopefully - realize it's not a good fit than to continue to speculate. So we went to see the house at lunch.

In spite of my reservations, I was won over and we were both ready to make an offer. When we submitted the offer early that afternoon, it was already the third one they'd received, in less than a day. By the time they made their decision to accept our offer two days later, there were no less than fourteen offers on the table.

And what made ours the most compelling? Well, I'm not at all sure it was the highest, but ours contained a clause that they could take what they wanted out of the house and leave whatever they didn't. Below you'll see what happens when you include a clause like this. (By the way, I am not posting pictures of the attic or crawl space, but they are both FULL of junk and debris that will need to be removed.)

We closed today at lunchtime. So without further ado... the Southlake property:

(Disclaimer: Don't view these photos while you are eating. Seriously. Or if you think you're going to eat anytime soon.)


The front doesn't look too bad, does it?


OK, you're starting to realize it has a few issues...

Here's our new dining room: Living room... Bedroom #1...
Bedroom #2...
OK, steel yourselves. Here's where it starts to get ugly.

Bathroom:
Again... you're really not eating, are you? Kitchen...

Yeah, that's a roach.
This was really to be the climatic picture. However, maggots don't photograph well, so you really can't fully appreciate the writhing mass we witnessed on this plate.

And my favorite, to end on a hopeful note. Enlarge to see detail if needed.

Now go enjoy your mansion or house or apartment or shack or cardboard box with renewed appreciation!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Reflections on Parenting

I've posted some pretty light-hearted thoughts on parenting. But I was doing some more serious reflecting as I lugged in groceries today while keeping a constant eye on the stairs to make sure one half-pint little adventurer didn't come sprawling down headfirst...

How is it that parenting can simultaneously 1) make you wonder who you were before you had kids, 2) feel like you never truly lived until you had kids, and 3) still long for those simpler days?

People gave us lots of advice about seizing the moment before we had our kids. But it's so hard to take that to heart until you've experienced it. I don't think I was particularly selfish before I had kids. BUT I COULD HAVE BEEN! Not just occasionally, but consistently selfish in lifestyle. I could have done anything I wanted anytime I wanted. And now I wish for the possibility of selfishness, with or without its realization.

At the same time, and I've heard this over and over from almost every parent who has tried to bestow wisdom on me, I WOULD NOT CHANGE A THING. One hug, one smile, one little possessive arm thrown over me while I read bedtime stories or one little face curling into my neck when she's acting shy, and it's worth every minute of worrying about illness, obsessing over childcare and wishing for a guilt-free trip to the mall.

So I tell myself that it's OK to wish for freedom, and to try harder to remember all the little rewards of parenting next time I do!

(An old picture, but one that seemed appropriate.)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Revelation

Today I had a revelation.

It all started yesterday, when Lynn told me about the preschool to which she is sending Brycen here in Tennessee. It piqued my interest, so today I looked up their website. The birthday cutoff for enrollment is September 30, so for three-year-old preschool, your child must be three by September 30. Will's birthday is October 13. Hmmm... why did they choose September 30, I wondered.

I asked Tanya, my coworker and a veteran mom, about the public school cutoff, thinking maybe it was the same (and hence why the preschool had chosen that date). I'm not sure why I continue to ask Tanya ANYTHING. In the past, every answer I've ever gotten from her has been either a) awash in longwinded psychobabble or b) completely wrong. (She doesn't know I have a blog. And now I must make sure she never knows, or else delete this post!) Also, she lives in Williamson County and we live in Davidson. Nevertheless, she informed me that she had lived in Davidson County once and answered confidently that the cutoff for both counties was October 31.

Now, I don't know why I ask Tanya anything to begin with, but I have at least learned to seek out a second opinion. About 20 minutes into the Metro Nashville Public School website, after I learned oodles of minute details about MNPS I didn't particularly want to know, I finally ascertained that the birthday cutoff is September 30. I told Tanya this, and she requested that I look up Williamson's cutoff to prove she wasn't completely offbase. Yep, their cutoff is also September 30. Apparently you can raise four kids in the public school system without ever knowing this.

Anyway... although these dates vs. birthday matters always confuse me for some reason, it didn't take me long to figure out the shocking truth. Will and Sophie, in spite of being 23 months apart in age, will be in back-to-back grades! This is probably something a lot of people would've figured out earlier, like, say, once they knew their second baby's due date. But I guess I'm a little obtuse about these sorts of things and had never given it much thought. I think I'd always assumed that the cutoff was more like the end of August.

I was pretty bummed about this revelation at first. I hate to think that Sophie will always be in the shadow of her brother, and I feel like sometimes this can be the case when siblings are back to back in grades. I (very briefly) entertained thoughts of moving Will up or holding Sophie back, and while I guess both of those options could happen, I'm not going to base a decision like that on something as trivial as this.

After letting this sink in today, this evening it occurred to me that there may be great advantages to this situation. They may have a closer relationship and even share common friends. For better or worse (and this is a really scary thought) their friends could even be each other's dating pools someday! And from a selfish perspective, the convenience of having both at the same school and on the same schedule as much as possible has great appeal. I also think, if it had to be screwy like this, at least Will, the boy, will be among the oldest in his grade. The extra months of maturity may really help him. I've heard that a lot of boys end up getting held back or starting late just to give them a little extra time to mature. And Sophie, on the other hand, will probably do just fine if she happens to be a little small in stature for her grade at first.

I solicit your comments, especially any of you with siblings close in age (which I never had). How did the timing work out for you? How did it affect your lives and relationships with each other?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Missing My Copper

So I am reflecting on the wonderful things about Will, since he is in Georgia this week and I am missing him. I find it's easier to reflect on his good traits in his absence. When he's around, there's just not much time for reflecting on anything. So here are just a few of the things I love about little Copper:

1. "I'm so glad to see you!"

2. He loves to vacuum.

3. He loves to wash my car with Daddy.

4. He stands up in the cart at the grocery store and says, "I'm vewy brave and tall!"

5. He tells me, "I'm so proud of you for using the potty!" when I come out of the bathroom. No one else does that for me.

6. When I come into a room where Sophie is crying, and I ask him "Did you hurt Sophie?", he says, "Yes I did." "Why?" "Because I wanted her to be hurt" or "We-ell, she can't play with my _______ (insert random toy here)." I don't love that he hurts her but the truthfulness is nice.

7. When we point at him and say, "You're mine!" he grins and points back, "You're mine!"

8. He gives terrific bear hugs.

9. He sings to Sophie when she cries, albeit a little manicly.

10. That sweet smile. Who could resist it?

If for no other reason, this week has been nice because Sophie is enjoying her time outside of Will's shadow. It has been so much fun to see her bonding with her daddy and wrapping him around her chubby little finger. She's also enjoying getting to play with all Will's toys without him taking them away. The other day she crawled into his room, stood up, and laughed aloud in sheer glee at the thought that she was in there without him (or at least that's what I attributed her laughter to).

Monday, August 6, 2007

Other People's Kids

When I am around other people's kids who are older than mine, I am always assessing. Will my kids be like that? How will I handle this age? And sometimes, how can I keep my kids from being like that?

I remember having some friends over when Will was tiny and they had a 10-month-old. He just banged and banged and banged on the coffee table. It was a very loud activity, and he couldn't talk yet, and it just seemed like a very frustrating age for both child and parent. "Not an age to look forward to", I thought. But when Will was 10 months, I remember enjoying him more than ever before, and the same is true of little Soph now.

So whenever Cousin Zoe comes to visit, I am interested to see what she is like and what she is doing. Since she's just over three months older than Sophie, she's always a little ahead and I feel like I am getting a glimpse of our own future. Luckily, Zoe is, and has always been, an incredibly sweet and good-natured child, so I've never had second thoughts about continuing with Sophie's parenting. Her most recent visit was no exception. I was impressed that she is starting to use eating utensils, walk and talk a little, and can (and did) climb in and out of the Cozy Coupe over and over with increasing dexterity. So I guess that's where we're headed. And thanks to Zoe's good nature (no pressure, Zoe), I think I'm going to keep Sophie a little longer.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Durrett is finished!

At long last, the "simple" and "quick" renovation of the Durrett Drive house is complete. After an overwhelming response to our Craigslist post, we showed it around 10 times and had three applications. The three applicants were all top-notch - some of the best we've ever had. I don't know if the slower housing market is convincing more people to rent, or if it's just the time of year, or if we underpriced the house, but in any case it was a good situation to be in! Our chosen tenants moved in August 1.

And for our next project? Stay tuned...





Friday, August 3, 2007

Bookworms Anonymous

So... I am in this terrific (all-female) book club, but our membership has experience some shrinkage due to a couple of members moving or otherwise dropping out. We are now recruiting. If any of you ladies in the Nashville area are interested, please let me know. We'd love to have you guys.

We welcome any age or viewpoint, and we read everything from classics to mysteries to light women's lit. It's definitely a grab bag. We take turns choosing books and hosting potlucks monthly, so there's not a lot of prep work for the hostess. (We've even been known to meet at Starbucks when someone's home isn't conducive to a meeting.) We're also contemplating going online with a discussion group so members who can't attend a meeting can still participate in discussion.

If you aren't interested but know someone who might be, please pass the word along.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

If You Love Someone...

So my parents are up this week and want to know if they can take Will back down to Americus with them! We'll be down there next weekend, so we'd be without him for about five days.

What an eternity!

Can we make it five days without that little smile and that little voice saying, "We-elll... I'm not ty-rid!" or "Get up, Mama! It's not dark outside! It's time for you to GET UP!"

Come to think of it, maybe we can.

But can we live without an "I'm so glad to see you!" and an "I like your new shirt!" (even when the shirt is not in the slightest bit new) every day?

This is what we have to determine. And it's really not about him. I can't say I'm sure, but I think Will will do fine. I'm much more concerned about those of us he leaves behind!