Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Who loves blizzards?

We used to call Maggie our snow dog. As for Gus? I am now officially dubbing him the blizzard dog.

The wind is howling and blowing snow in his face. Parts of the yard are clear, while areas have two-foot drifts. And Gus can't get enough of it. He's running around in circles, snapping at the snow with his mouth and then every so often he runs and dives into a snowbank.

Here's the wide shot for perspective. In the last half hour, Gus been out and in five times.

So yes, we are having a snow day. And no, Gus isn't the only one excited about it. AJ just came wandering out from his room.

"School cancelled?" was his morning greeting.

"School's cancelled," I confirmed.

He raised his arms in the air, "Yes!"

There's something universal and timeless about the excitement of an unexpected day off from school. No matter how much technology changes the way we learn about it.

I remember listening with hopeful anticipation to the legendary voices of Boone and Erickson on the radio as they'd read through the list of school closings and delays. They'd announce the schools in alphabetical order, and so as they got close to "E", we'd pay closer attention. I'm pretty sure I held my breathe. And then, there was the let down if they didn't say "Elk River." But a few minutes later, they'd re-start the list, and the anticipation would build again. We'd keep listening right up until the moment we were sent out the door to wait for the bus.

Contrast that with the present. Several neighboring school districts announced last night that they'd be closing. Before the snow ever started. I set my alarm for 5:45 this morning, got up and turned on the TV. I watched the alphabetical list of schools sliding across the bottom of the screen: Carlton, Cloquet, Drummond... when they hit the D's, I started watching more closely. How ironic that I again live in a school district that starts with "E"... Duluth, East Central, Floodwood. No Esko. That feeling of let down.

But forget about waiting for the list to rotate through again. I headed for the computer. Nothing yet on the 'DIO website. Nothing on the News Tribune's website. I checked Facebook. Sure enough, another TV station had just posted a link to the latest school closings. And there we were! It's still exciting, but not quite as magical as hearing it on the radio.

About 30 seconds later, the phone started ringing. I made a mad dash from the computer in search of a phone, trying to stop the loud ringing before it woke anyone else up. It was an automated message from the school, announcing the closing.

Gus has just come back inside for the eighth time. He has the Kong toy in his mouth that I threw out the door during trip number two or three. AJ thinks he's going to play Xbox NHL Hockey all day. He is wrong about that. And Sydney has just come stumbling from her room.

I guess it's time to make the most of our snow day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jungle party

How far will I go to avoid another birthday party for AJ at Chuck E. Cheese? All the way to the rain forest if necessary. Or at least to the Rainforest Cafe at the Mall of America, which is still a pretty good trek for us.

Here you go, Grandpa Dave and Grandma Elouise, a shot of all your grand kids.

Oh wait, what does that sign under AJ say? Something about not sitting or climbing on the wall?

Sydney, move over a bit. AJ, put your legs together. There. Now you can't see it. MUCH BETTER,

And what was so dangerous about this spot? Well, there was a "crocodile" on the other side.

All together, 15 people came along on our birthday safari – my sister's and brother's families, and my friend Geralyn and her kids. Baby Finn seem unfazed by the wild surroundings, but cousin Zane was fascinated. How could he possibly be expected to smile for (or look at) the camera when it was raining right behind him?

Each time the rain would start, he'd grab a menu and cover his head.

Which was a wiser move than what my son did. AJ, standing on his chair to check out the surroundings beyond the "mushroom canopy" that covered our table, managed to stick his head out far enough to get soaked. Note the drenched hair in the photo below. Such a brilliant child!

Of course the highlight was the volcano ice cream. Giant scoops of vanilla, whipped cream and fudge, surrounded by wedges of chocolate cake, topped off by a real sparkler.

These things are so huge that two were enough for our entire table.

It was fun seeing everyone. It was nice eating somewhere other than Chuck E. Cheese. And it was very nice to have a party with a Wild theme that had nothing to do with the hockey team.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

McCommunication error

What's going on
As a fundraiser for AJ's school, some of the teachers and the principal will be working at McDonald's one evening, with 15 percent of sales from the three-hour period being donated to the school. It's a fairly common marketing gimic for fastfood restaurants. They get customers in the door, boost their own sales and look like a good community partner all at the same time. (My ad agency has a client that does the same thing.)

How my first grader interpreted it
AJ: Did you see my newspaper?

Me: Your newspaper?

AJ: My newspaper.

Me (grabbing the folder from his backpack): You mean your notes?

AJ: Yeah. One of them said my school isn't making very much money, so they're going to work at McDonald's to make some more.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Another hockey birthday

I meant to write about my awesome birthday celebration last night, but then I fell asleep. Before 10 p.m. I'm sure it has nothing to do with my advancing age. I'm totally blaming it on all the fresh air and exercise I got yesterday skating with AJ's class.

As birthdays go, this one was totally awesome. (Does that phrasing make me sound old, too? Perhaps I should throw in a "like" or two, and maybe a "tubular" reference to seal the deal.)

The first grade classes at AJ's school skipped gym class Friday, and instead spent two and a half hours playing outside at the ice rink. I volunteered to go along and help tie skates, and since it was such a nice day, Jeff and Sydney came along, too. We weren't sure what exactly the teachers were planning, but brought our skates along, just in case. Good thing we did.

I'm pretty sure Jeff earned "Coolest Dad ever" status, or at least "Coolest Dad of the Day" honors. He is such a kid magnet.

What is it about chasing adults, and being chased by them, that kids find so much more fun than playing against themselves? Jeff and I became the targets of grinning little skaters, doing their best to come just close enough to get our attention, before racing away as fast as the could go. All but one were easy to get. The only one I couldn't catch up to was AJ.

The goal became gool (How do you spell the safe zone when playing tag?) and it was amazing to see how many kids could squeeze into the net at one time.

Later, Jeff had at least 20 kids playing a modified version of Marco Polo. AJ's teacher thanked us repeatedly for coming along and spending so much time on the ice. I'm fairly certain we made her job easier by keeping the kids so busy. And thankfully, no one got hurt.

Sydney initially didn't want to go on the ice with all the other kids, but eventually she decided to venture out of the warming house, and then there was no stopping her. Quite honestly, Sydney was able to keep up with many of the kids out there. AJ's friend Hanna and another girl quickly invited her to play with them, and at one point, I heard Hanna say, "You're the best four year old skater ever."

Oh yeah, Sydney was loving the attention!

Hanging out with the big girls (L-R) Sydney, Addie, Hanna, Alaina, Avery

For my birthday dinner, we checked out the Osaka Hibachi grill. AJ was pretty fascinated by it all (though, at the end, wished he'd ordered shrimp like me, rather than chicken.) He was quite proud that when the chef flipped a piece of broccoli to each person gathered round the grill, AJ was the only one who could catch it in his mouth "without cheating and using hands".

Sydney, meanwhile, did not appreciate the show in front of us. The loud clanging of spatulas was scary, and when the chef lit the grill on fire, Sydney just about took off running. She did, however, appreciate the noodles and the strawberry smoothie that came with her meal.

Later, at home, my birthday present was a Zumba workout disc for Xbox. There will be no photos posted of that. If you need a picture in your mind of what I looked like attempting to follow the dancers on the screen, just imagine Elaine on Seinfeld flailing her arms and legs around. It wasn't pretty, but it was fun.

And it was exhausting. THAT must be the reason I fell asleep so soon. It has nothing to do with age.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who wants to be in kindergarten?

Somebody thinks she is SO ready to be a kindergartner. Sydney has, after all, now spent an hour bopping between the library and two different kindergarten classrooms.

It seems like not long ago we were going through this with AJ, and now, here we are attending the "Get Ready for Kindergarten" sessions all over again.  

As we drove home from school, I asked Sydney which parts she liked best.

"All of it!" was her happy reply.

And what's not to like? There was cutting:

And stitching:

And a blob of goo... 

It tricks you into thinking it's Play-doh, but it's not. I think it's called Farp. It smells like rubbing alcohol and has a slightly wet feel to it. And when you press on it just right, or try to squeeze it back into the container, it makes an absolutely hysterical noise that sounds like its name, but with one letter different.

Oh boy do four- and five-year-olds find that funny! Sydney had been less than impressed by the feel of it, but as soon as she heard the giggles from her "best friend Jayce", then of course she thought it was too funny to put down.

Until a spot opened up at the adjoining table with dob paint. I'm pretty sure the amount of paint Sydney put on her picture could have covered two to three sheets of paper. It might be dry by next week.

And then she spotted the family of stuffed Dalmatians in the corner. This room had everything!

Sydney wanted to know if she gets to start kindergarten tomorrow.

"Not yet," I told her. "You have to wait until next fall."

"How long is it until fall?" She wanted to know.

"It's after summer." I did some quick calculations, "that's about six and a half months from now."

"That's a LONG time."

It'll be here in no time. I have no doubt she's ready for it. The question is - will I be?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Note from the teacher

I'm going to let a guest writer fill in for me today: AJ's first grade teacher. (She doesn't know, so don't tell - particularly because her e-mail ends with a confidentiality notice stating any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution of the message is prohibited. But nobody pays attention to those disclaimers, right?)

I'd emailed her a question about a skating event his class is having Friday. She responded, and then added the note below. If the first paragraph doesn't make sense, read here and know that I never got around to talking to the teacher.
 I just have to tell you a couple funny things that happened lately....  First, when we were making valentine's cards to our parents, he asked me what it's called when two people get married and then a few years later they don't get along anymore and live in seperate houses.  I saw he has written "Please..." so I told him it's called "divorced" but I explained I knew he was just trying to say that he's happy that his parents do live together, so I suggested writing, "I'm happy you got married" and explained that it might make some parents sad to know their kids think about them getting divorced.  He said it was ok because he talked to you about it before and you told him you were "love mates" and that wouldn't happen.  I just said "soul mates" and let him write whatever.  It was too sweet!

Then a couple days later we had two students from St. Scholastica working with our school nurse and they tagged along with our class to see where the lunch room was.  Alex asked them what college they were from and they told him.  And he said "happy anniversary".  I had him explain more and he said his dad went there and that it's the school's anniversary this year... how thoughtful!

One last thing...  in  music the other day, the substitute held up a sweatshirt asking if it belonged to anyone in our class. It was very unique because it had one long sleeve and one short sleeve so the sub and I were commenting on how odd that was. Alex announced it was probably made for "soul surfer".... the girl who lost her arm to the shark attack.

You have got one smart, observant boy on your hands... I'm sure you don't get away with much without him noticing.

Anyway, I just had to share those stories because I've been thinking them all weekend. I can't wait to see his hockey skills on Friday! I'll see you at the rink. 

I've said it many times: I love how my son's mind works. How lucky we are that his teacher appreciates it too, and takes the time to share the stories.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The juggling act

I didn't even realize it long enough to appreciate it, but we were so close to getting a night off. So very, very close.

I'd been trying to coordinate rides so that AJ could play in a 6:45 scrimmage Tuesday night in Hermantown, while Sydney skated in Esko from 5:30-6:30. And then came the somewhat welcome news that Sydney's Learn to Skate class was being postponed a day. That solved the problem of being in two places at once on Tuesday. But it created a similar issue Wednesday because that's when she has dance class. Then I remembered - there is no dance class this week due to the mid-winter break in the Duluth School District. So the good news is, we have no scheduling conflicts. The bad news is, Wednesday would have been our first activity-free school night in more than three weeks. Not anymore.

As I commiserated with my boss, who's been through this with three boys, she gave me one of those all-knowing smiles and suggested I get used to it because this will be the norm for about the next ten years. Give me strength.

Maybe it's because thoughts of the future are too overwhelming, but I spent a lot of time this past weekend thinking about the past. AJ played in a hockey tournament in Cloquet.

Thankfully, only one of our games was in the Barn, the non-insulated arena I love to complain about more than any other.

Here's AJ making the save:

Sunday's games were in the newer, nicer arena - an arena I reported on when it first opened. (Which means it's really not so new anymore.) I remember being impressed by the woodwork in the arena, but other than that I couldn't figure out why it was newsworthy.

Whatever my impressions were that day, I never imagined I'd one day sit in that same arena to watch my son play.

Quick, shameless plug... Lakewalk Surgery Center is one of my clients. We designed the dasher board.

And another small world moment involving a hockey player on the other team. Check out #16 - the one with a grey hooded sweatshirt under his jersey. John's mom is not only a former co-worker from the ad agency. She's also a former high school classmate. And here are our sons, battling against each other for the puck.

As we drove home from hockey tonight... on ice covered roads with snow blowing all around us... AJ complained that it wasn't fair that it would be bedtime when we got home because he'd only gotten to play XBox hockey for 20 minutes today. Wrong thing to say to the wrong person. For me, it'd be my first time home in almost 14 hours. And so I asked AJ, "What about me? I didn't get to play XBox at all."

"But you don't even like XBox," AJ defended. "You don't even like to watch TV."

He has no idea.

Though to be fair, if I ever found myself with an evening to do nothing but watch TV or play a game of my choose, I have no idea what I would do. But it's not something I worry too much about. Because it's not likely to happen any time soon.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Party road trip

There's more to life than just hockey. And so in between a 3:15 p.m. Saturday game and a 10 a.m. Sunday game...

We squeezed in a quick trip south to sing happy birthday to cousin Zane.

Yes, it was a very long day and late night. Yes, watching AJ play hockey the next day, it was obvious he was tired. But hey. At least there was cake. And not just any cake. It was red velvet cake decorated by the birthday boy himself.

And there were presents to unwrap. Thankfully, when the time came to actually unwrap the presents, there were still a few that hadn't already been revealed.

Darling little Sydney and sweetly innocent Zane have a devious side to them. Zane's Grandma Kathy busted the two of them hiding in his room, where they'd managed to smuggle a few gifts and were gleefully unwrapping them.

When the guilty parties were herded back into the living room, I motioned Sydney to come over to me.

"Whose idea was it to sneak the presents and open them?" I asked.

With just a hint of a smile, Sydney admitted, "Mine."

"Sydney!" I started to scold. But before I could say anymore she quickly changed her answer, covering her mouth with her hands.

"I mean Zane! It was Zane! Don't tell! Don't tell!"

And Zane sat smiling through it all. Those two... we shall have to watch them.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The hockey birthday party

Who'd have thought, living in "the state of hockey" that it'd be so hard to find hockey-themed party decorations? (Because of course, when I asked AJ what kind of birthday party he wanted this year, his answer was "hockey".)  But apparently there's just not a lot of demand for hockey decorations. Several places had sports theme paper plates and cups, but those featured football, basketball, baseball and soccer. No hockey.

And so, once again, for the child whose party themes of choice have ranged from Peter Pan to presidents, I once again had to design the invitation myself.

Answer: A party hat trick

(Note to self, next time AJ wants to check out the invitations, make sure he hasn't just finished eating chocolate.)

We held the party at our local rink, and all but one of AJ's favorite teammates were able to come and play some hockey.

Owen, Carter and AJ
AJ also invited some of his best friends from school. I warned him that his friends who don't play hockey might not want to come, especially if they don't have skates. And for the most part, I was right. But thankfully, two of his favorite classmates were brave enough to show up. AJ did a good job involving them in the game.

AJ, Ben, Evan and Owen
One of the best surprises for me was how much the kids loved one of the indoor activities I'd planned. I'd picked up sheets of white fun foam and cut them into the shape of a mask. Using markers and foam stickers, each kid then got to decorate his own goalie mask.

From left: Owen, Wyatt, Carter (in mask), AJ, Daniel, Carver, Evan and Ben
 The boys totally got into it! We had Wild, Bulldogs and Esko themed masks by the time we were through, as well as a few that looked like something out of a horror movie.

For another game, trying to keep with the hockey theme, instead of pin the tail on the donkey, we blindfolded the kids and had them try to shoot a goal.

That lead to pleasant surprise #2. There was a group of older kids skating at the rink. We see these kids all the time - it's many of the same guys who graciously welcome AJ and other young kids to play with them. This time, it was the other way around. When they saw what Jeff was doing, they asked if they could line up after the kids to test their aim while blindfolded.

Back inside again, we opened presents and ate. Thank goodness the Cub bakery offers NHL-licensed cakes.
Sydney, AJ, Carter and Ethan
Among the other fun surprises (for me) was what the kids chose to eat. We had three kinds of chips, plus watermelon, strawberries and raspberries. The kids barely touched the chips, but by the end of the afternoon, all of the fruit was gone.

AJ really has a good group of friends. And they're at such a fun age: half trying to be cool, tough hockey players, the other half still sweetly innocent, giving hugs and shy smiles of thanks at the end of the party.

Looking back, I wish we'd been a little more organized in terms of having the boys do all the outside games first, and then come inside, rather than going in and out and in and out. But AJ had a lot of fun, as did his friends, and that's really the ultimate gauge of a party's success.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Moms vs. Mites

Isn't the third time supposed to be the charm? Thursday night was the annual Moms versus Mites hockey game - my third year of playing - and all I can wonder is "who invited AJ to play?" 

My little turkey racked up about 10 points against the Moms team. What a difference it is to play against a kid who's become really good! When the first line of Mites went out at the start of the game, of course AJ was part of it, and of course he volunteered to do the face-off. Which meant, yeah, I was there for the first puck drop, too.

The game was fun in the sense that it was challenging. I had to try my hardest. It was not fun to realize my best wasn't good enough.

It made me proud to stand with the other moms and listen to the joking complaints that someone had to find a way to stop AJ. He was identified as the biggest threat. I gave them all permission to go after him with all they've got. When that didn't work, I finally did it myself. I reached out with my stick and...

"Mom, you tripped me!" AJ sounded shocked as he got back on his feet.

"Yeah. So what's your point?" I skated past him.

"That should be a penalty." He caught up to me quickly.

"I didn't hear a whistle. Too bad."

Of course, he then found the puck and skated all the way down the rink and scored. His way of dealing with it, I guess.

This was probably the most organized game I've played in yet. One of the coaches would announce in advance which kids would be going out next, so the appropriate moms could be ready. The men also, I suspect, had done some advance planning to make it harder for the moms to score. A mysterious 2' x 4' showed up in front of the moms' net at one point. Or the net tipped over. Or was turned around. Or was replaced by one of the little nets the Mites usually use in their goalie-less games. Or disappeared all together.

The guys probably didn't need to work that hard. We moms had fun, but just weren't that good. In years past we've always had at least one ringer on the team, but not this year. I couldn't resist pointing out to the other veterans, "Remember how we used to come back to the bench and say, 'okay, we've got to let them score a couple now'?" That wasn't the case this year.

It's weird, and sad, to think that if Sydney doesn't choose to play hockey next year, then this was my last game. At the Mite II level, the players take on the Dads. And if Sydney does decide to play, I can't help but think what a different experience it will be to play against a first-year player, instead of my third-year hotshot.

The other recurring thought during the game... I have GOT to get my own helmet. The stink of Jeff's helmet just doesn't fade. In fact, I think it was distractingly bad. THAT was my problem. I'm sensing a possible excuse here, and I'm going to skate it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Someone's lovin' it.

It started with a simple request from Sydney, "When we get home, I want to do the dishes."

Ever the doting parent, I told her she could. After all, who am I to deny my sweet little princess' wish to wash dishes?

But then she asked if she could wear one of "those white things that go around here." (Picture in your mind Sydney making wild hand gestures around her waist.)

"You mean an apron?" I asked.


That took a little work to find, but eventually we located it in the bottom of the costume bin. While we were looking, I happened to find the hat from my old McDonald's uniform. We're talking a vintage '80s polyester double-knit visor. Definitely an envy-worthy classic. Sniff hard and you just might be able to inhale the remnants of grease that's now a quarter-century old.

Sydney was beyond excited. The apron and washing dishes were quickly forgotten. I pointed out that I always wore an apron when washing dishes at McDonald's, but that didn't sway her. She was too busy digging out her McDonald's cash register.

Perhaps it's an indication of how often we eat at her favorite fast food restaurant, or maybe it goes to show how good customer service is rooted in basic common sense... but Sydney already has the process nailed. She greets me, takes the order and suggestive sells additional items. Okay, that last part might need a little work.

Sydney: What would you like today?

Me: I'll have an apple pie and a cup of coffee.

Sydney: You have to order more than two things.Otherwise you'll get too hungry.

Me: Okay, I'll have some french fries, too, please.

Sydney: Very good.

She then calls back the order using an imaginary microphone.

I'm not quite sure why she thinks she should talk with an uppity accent, but here's some video of the next generation of McDonald's girl:

Clearly, she'll need to practice her enunciation of the word "three," otherwise she'll be giving away a lot of food. But other than that, she seems to have a better handle on the job than some of the workers we've encountered recently who do have the job.

My children make me so proud as they dream of the future. AJ plans to play in the NHL some day. And Sydney... Sydney will be serving happy meals to the post-game rush.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Be mine

As Valentine's Days go, I knew this year wasn't going to be all that memorable. Jeff had to work. AJ had hockey. Sydney had skating. All the ingredients of a perfect, romantic holiday. Uh huh.

And I wasn't particularly bothered by it. I'm far too practical to want my husband to spend a ridiculous amount of money on roses because the calendar told him he should. We exchanged cards this morning. Jeff, with Sydney's help, made the card he gave me. It was by no means fancy, but the thought of them working together on it makes me smile far more than flowers or a box of chocolate ever could. Okay, chocolate might make me smile more. But then I'd feel guilty for eating it, and I'd get frustrated that Jeff didn't remember I was trying to count calories. So yeah, the homemade card wins.

As I stood shivering at the side of the practice rink this evening, I joked with some of the other moms about how our younger self's visions of Valentine's Day differed from reality. I started formulating in my mind what I'd write about my kids and this day: specifically, how girls already seem to embrace this holiday as being for them, while boys begrudgingly do what they're told to do. For instance, Sydney, with very little prompting/nagging from me, "signed" each of the cards she would give to her classmates.  

I debated whether I should pencil in her name, to make it legible they were from her. But then decided not to bother. All that would do is tell her classmates' parents that Sydney had given a card/candy. Her friends won't know the difference. They can't read.

AJ cared about Valentine's Day only enough to complain and question why he had to go to school on a holiday. I reminded him that if he didn't have school, then he wouldn't get candy from his classmate. Suddenly school didn't seem like such a bad thing.

Sydney's Valentine enthusiasm continued into the evening. When we finally got home from the hockey rink, she excitedly showed me all the cards and treats she'd gotten.

Wanting to again highlight the difference between boys and girls, I started questioning AJ about what he did for Valentine's Day.

"We mostly just did Valentine's centers today." (Centers are smal group learning activities.)

"When did you pass out your Valentines?" I asked.

"Um, that was at the end of the day."

"Who had the coolest Valentines or treats?"

"Um, probably Jordan. His were Legos. Lego police."

As we'd talked, I'd looked through his folder. There I found a card he made. I asked him to come and read it to me.

"Okay," he agreed with little to no enthusiasm. "But this counts as part of my minutes I have to read today."

"Dear dad and mom... Oh wait, February 14, 2012. Dear dad and mom," he began. (They've been working on letter writing form this week.)

"Happy Valentine Day," he continued. "Mrs Baird said we should just say Valentine, not Valentines."

"Okay, keep going," I said, trying not to read ahead.

"Thank you for doing good things for me. Please don't get divorced."

As he closed with "Love, Alex" my mind screamed, "What? WHAT?"

Taking a deep breath, I thanked him for the card and assured him that Dad and I would never get a divorce.

"Why did you even think that?" I asked. We haven't been fighting. There've been no recent arguments I can even think of.

AJ shrugged, "Sometimes people get divorced."

"Well, yes, sometimes they do," I agreed. "But your Dad and I love each other very much." I continued to push, "Is one of your friends' parents getting a divorce?"

"No," he told me. And then at last, "But a kid at Cool Kids told me his parents are divorced."


"Do divorces make people sad?" he asked.

"Yeah, they do."

"Then why do people get divorced if it makes them sad?"

Oh, how I love his logic!

"Sometimes people stop loving each other, and so they're more sad being married than they would be alone. But don't worry," I assured him again. "Dad and I love each other and we talk any time we get upset. So you don't have to worry about us getting divorced."

"I know," he said. "That's what Mrs. Baird told me, too."

Oh, joy. What must his teacher be thinking? Thankfully, I'm already scheduled to go with AJ to school tomorrow morning for a special "I Love to Read" month event. I'm not sure what I'll say to his teacher, but I'll think of something. Hopefully by this point in the year, she's already used to the way AJ's mind works, and so won't think this too out of character for him.

There's nothing like Valentine's Day to trigger a conversation about divorce. At least in our case, there's a happy ending.