On the eve of the day when my three youngest children return to school after Christmas break, I am a happy mom. Reflecting on the past 18 days of intense closeness, I am happy to say that I found them to be on the whole enjoyable. Last week in particular after the whirlwind of family gatherings, it was nice to settle into a more relaxed vacation mode. It takes a couple of days of transition when they are flying high from candy over-load at class parties and the anticipation of Santa’s arrival. I normally run a pretty tight ship so it’s fun to surprise them with special treats like, a sleep-over, a play date, a movie night, and ice cream before we buckle back down tomorrow for early morning reader’s club, math facts and homework. I loved hearing the conversations in the back seat, “Dude,” before every comment from my son’s friend. He must be the cool kid, because he actually came over wearing a herringbone fedora! And, “You control it, don’t let it control you!” my daughter said to my son referring to his foot that somehow developed a mind of its own. I enjoyed watching my son build interesting items of questionable usefulness with his carpenter’s kit like a name plate for our dog’s food dish. Although a very intelligent dog, as far as I know she can’t read nor can any visiting dogs. I enjoyed turning my middle-school aged daughter onto The Hunger Games even though the subject matter is about a lottery which calls for a fight to the death. She devoured it and I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it.I admit sometimes it blows my mind that I am still pouring Apple Jacks into bowls at this stage of my life. At least they are whole- grain this time around! And everything does not bring a smile to my face like when my youngest daughter cut a huge chunk of hair from the side of her head creating an odd side mullet, perfect for beautiful Christmas pictures. Or when my almost 9 yr. old son opted to urinate in the bush in our front yard instead of using a toilet just inside the house! But the precious moment when my daughter came to put her head down on my lap yesterday during the Mario Bros Bible Buddies Kick-off and when I saw them happily playing their very loose version of the game of Life somehow softens those other ones. These moments are always unexpected and fleeting but they are heavenly and they are powerful reminders of why I’m here.