Monday, December 5, 2011

All I Want for Christmas ...

The little man is increasingly aware and susceptible to T.V. advertising as of late - any commerical that comes on will most likely result in the little man promptly telling us that we need to add XYZ to his Christmas list. His Christmas list is now so long we joke that it would it be easier for him to list what he doesn't want for Christmas.

So, the other day when the little man came running up the stairs to tell us about a new thing, neither my husband nor I were surprised.

"Mommy, Daddy - there's a new place with lots of new toys. Climbing things, bounce houses - all new kids stuff just for kids!" the little man proclaimed excitedly.

"Oh yeah?" I said, expecting to hear all about how we needed to go to Chuck E. Cheese, et. al.

"Yeah - and they have lots of new fish. NEW fish mommy. And you can go snorkeling in the OCEAN! It's at a place called Hawaii ... Can we go Mommy?"

I turned to my husband.

"Can we?" I asked.

And then my husband had two sets of eager eyes gazing at him ...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Destination Life

As a 30-something careening through life in suburbia, USA, I have two guilty pleasures: TV shows dealing with bigfoot/UFOs/paranormal and my Kindle e-reader.

So when I read that Josh Gates, host of Destination Truth, had written a book about his own adventures hunting the unexplained around the world, my two guilty pleasures suddenly came crashing together.

Enter a cold, rainy night with the husband hundreds of miles away on a business trip and a little man sound asleep in his room upstairs and I happily had night full of Kindle monster hunting.

But what I found was a simple reminder of the power parents have in shaping the lives of their children.

Backtrack a week or two ago and I was running behind the little man on the sidewalk in front of our house. We had taken the training wheels off of the little man's bike (at his request) and with my hand firmly on the back of his seat, we took off down the sidewalk in a futile attempt at teaching the little man the art of riding sans training wheels.

Like any rite of passage in life - especially in learning to ride a bike - the little man fell. After brushing him off and encouraging him to get back on, the little man had had enough and was done. We packed the bike away for another day.

Another day came and I packed the bike into the back of the car and we drove to the little man's elementary school, which has a large, flat blacktop. Perfect for teaching little ones to ride a bike, so said my neighbor as she undoubtedly laughed at my constant up and down, up and down circuit of the sidewalk in front of our homes as we tried one more ride.

But, no. The little man stood on the blacktop, refusing to get on the bike. I tried every bribe and promise that I could think of to get him back on, but he refused.

We got back in the car and drove home. I supposed he would get over it on his own, in his own time.

Now we're back to the rainy, cold night. I was in the beginning of the book, where Josh (the author) was starting his memoirs at where else - the beginning of how he came to be a modern-day monster hunter.

I was especially taken aback by a passage he wrote about his parents in where he attributed the confidence he has today to them:

"My mother, a vivacious and free-spirited young woman, grew up in tumultuous 1960s England and somehow found my father, a charming American deep-sea diver and self-made man. The two of them were endlessly supportive of my interests and passed on to me their humor and a confidence to follow my own path, as they had done."

And there it was - staring me in the face. A simple reminder that - more than we can ever imagine - the seeds that we plant in our young children today are what shapes the person they will grow to be tomorrow. I realized that I don't want to raise a boy who is afraid of falling. I want to raise a confident, free spirit. I want to raise a boy who not only falls down, but gets back up again and has the confidence to try something else equally terrifying the next day.

I want to raise a boy who lives life.

And I realized that it begins with me ... Just as Josh Gates' parents taught him to live adventurously.

Do I foresee the little man 20 years from now running through a jungle after a mythical reptilian monster?


But I do hope to see him confidently walking his own path in life, without a fear of falling down.

And at just 5 years old, I realized that the present-day drama of learning to ride a bike without training wheels was just as much a lesson for the little man as it is for me.

It's not about learning to ride the bike. It's about learning that life isn't something to be afraid of. It's about being the little man's biggest cheerleader and instilling confidence in him through my actions and support in all that he endeavors ... especially when he falls down trying.

It's about teaching the little man to live life without training wheels.

I wish I could end this blog with a story of me running behind the little man, letting go of his bicycle seat and watching him ride off into the sunset without training wheels the very next day.

But I can't.

It is still very much a work in progress. But the seed has been planted.

"I don't want you to think about the falling," I told the little man. "I want you to think about the ride and how much fun it will be. In everything you will do in life, it's all about the ride."

The little man stared at me with his big blue eyes.

"Mamma?" he finally said. "Can we go inside and have some Hawoweeeen candy now?"

I laughed and opened the door to let him inside.

He may not understand it now, but I hope that in time he does. I hope that someday my little man will acknowledge that I had helped instill in him the same confidence Josh Gates pens in his memoirs. A confidence that begins at home ... with a little boy and his parents.

And if the little man ends up running through a jungle after a mythical reptilian monster 20 years from now, that's just a bonus.

At least in my book.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Bigger the Boys ...

I always knew the meaning of the old saying "The bigger the boys, the bigger the toys."

I knew it when, as a young girl, my father had a constant array of trucks, big and small.

And tractors.

And skid loaders.

I knew it when my Uncle Denny would tell stories of his motocross racing days and later hear the roar of his Harley.

I knew it when my brother got his first Jeep ... in high school.

I knew it when I went to college and my boyfriend at the time (now my husband) came home with a boat hitched to his truck.

And later a Jeep of his own.

And later another Jeep.

So, on that fateful day, when I welcomed my son into the world, I was under no illusions that my son wouldn't follow in the footsteps of those before him.

I just figured I had a good 16 or 17 years to prepare.

Not so.

Now that the little man is 5, his graduation into Kindergarten has not only meant no more daily naps, more responsibility and bigger jeans, but it also means bigger toys.

And I'm not talking about a bike without training wheels.

Enter Papa and Daddy, who conspired to welcome the little man into the "bigger toys" brotherhood.

Courtesy of a camouflage ATV sized just right for a certain little big boy.

Fortunately, Daddy and Papa prepared for Mama. They promptly explained how you could set it so it only went a certain speed, that it had a kill switch and for added safety, handed me a small keychain with a remote kill switch so that Mama could kill the engine on anything too much fun.

But by that time, the little man was off.

With Papa riding on the back.

And Daddy impatiently waiting for his turn.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Pick-Up Line

I had done it -I had put on my brave mommy face and taken the little man to his first day of Kindergarten.

I had even managed to hold back the tears until I left the building.

I had faced my fears.

Well ... at least one of them.

I had sent my baby bird off into the big world - but an equally terrifying moment was still approaching.

The after school pick-up line.

August has been a month of change for lots of reasons - not only did the little man start Kindergarten, but mommy also began a new part-time work schedule. I have shared in bits and pieces here and there on this blog about my struggle as a working mom. I love my son and want to be involved in all parts of his life growing up, but I also love what I do for a living. And, at times, those two pieces were very difficult to balance.

My husband and I had thought about it for many, many months. One one hand, if I cut back on hours at work it would give me the ability to pick him up everyday after school (no more daycare) and obviously leave me more time for the little man.

And soccer practice.

And swim lessons.

And everything else.

However, on the other hand, not only would my paycheck suffer significant consequences, so would my career. It would mean not being the project manager of the next big project.

Or not being invited to be a part of the project at all.

But in the end, no one will remember that great marketing piece I wrote. Or the great brochure I designed.

But the little man will remember how his mommy was at every one of his soccer practices.

And swim lessons.

And everything else.

So, I put in my request with the powers that be at my job. And they said yes.

And on August 1st, I officially began my new little man-inspired work schedule, just in time for school to start.

On the little man's first day of school I knew the pick-up line would be formidable. We had been forewarned by the school principal that they were very particular about the process - and needed to be for the safety of the children. They had even supplied written instructions and a traffic flow map of where you were supposed to drive, park, etc.

As little man's first day of school came to an end, my anxiety about the pick-up line began to grow. But, with my new reduced work schedule, I would leave work at 3:00, giving me ample time to pick up the little man, who would get out of class at 3:40.

I was so anxious to see the little man and hear about his day that I decided not to stop at home for a brief moment to change out of my work clothes. I also wanted to be extra early to tackle the infamous pick-up line.

I arrived at 3:17 on the dot - plenty of time, yes?


The line was already out to the street.

As I waited in the line, my anxiety grew even more. How long would this take? Would the little man be scared to not see me there right away? How would he know to come to my car? Did he even know to look for my car?

And the fear began to grow.

Am I even doing this right? Should I just park a block away and walk up to get him?

Then I stopped myself. I had survived corporate America. As a writer and graphic designer, I had faced entire rooms of people who were there for no other reason than to criticize my work and stare me down.

If I could handle corporate America, I could handle a bunch of moms in a pick-up line.

At least that's what I told myself.

As the line inched forward I finally came to park in the infamous "front circle." The little man waved hello to me, but stayed where he was.

So, I broke the rules.

I got out of my car and went to the little man, scooping him up and carrying him to my car. I wasn't supposed to leave my car (for safety and traffic flow reasons) and I was supposed to wait for the little man, or one of the teachers assisting in the pick-up, to come to my car.

But it was the first day - I could get away with it, yes?


Later that night we received an all-school email reminding parents to NOT get out of their cars and reminding us of the rules and procedures of the pick-up line.

I shut the laptop and smiled.

I may not have come out of it unscathed, but I had survived.

And upstairs I had a very sleepy, but happy, Kindergartner.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Happy Kindergarten Day!

On August 17, 1978, my mother welcomed me into the world. In what I know was a day full of emotions and thoughts about the future ahead, I doubt my mother ever envisioned that on that very same day, 33 years from then, that her baby would be sending her baby off to Kindergarten.

But that's how it went - in what seemed like a cruel twist of scheduling, I sent the little man off to Kindergarten on my birthday.

It was day I had known was coming well in advance and we had spent the summer preparing. The school supplies were bought; the little man had carefully selected his new Transformers backpack and Star Wars lunch box; and mommy had been reminding herself that "It's not until the end of summer, that's still a long ways away."

Funny how time creeps up on you.

And summer flies by.

My husband had been preparing the little man for mommy, as well.

"Mommy's probably going to cry," he warned the little man on the eve of his Kindergarten start. "But they are happy tears, because she's so happy and proud of you for starting Kindergarten."

(Or, it's because mommy had visions of kicking her baby bird out of the nest into the great big world.)

So, in the morning, I put on my brave mommy face and started to get ready for the day. The little man popped out of bed and came into my room.

I picked him up and hugged him.

Then made him waffles covered in syrup for breakfast.

Then proceeded in what I'm sure seemed like an endless photo shoot to the little man.

And then the moment came - it was time to load up the car and make the very short drive to the school.

(And another photo shoot in front of the school, of course.)

I took the little man's hand and walked him inside.

My brave mommy face lasted until it was time to tell him good-bye.

The little man smiled and gave me one last hug and walked away.

My baby bird was officially out of the nest and spreading his wings.

And mommy was ever-so-thankful for waterproof mascara.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pondering a Serious Subject

I had picked the little man up from preschool and we began our usual trek home. The little man was in great spirits and chattering away.

"Momma?" the little man said. "I've been thinking a lot today about what I want to be when I'm growed up."

"Oh, really?" I said. "What are thinking?"

"Well ... I have a lot of things going around in my brains," the little man said. "There's police mans .... and army mans ... and of course the blue police mans at the airport."

"What about fireman?" I asked the little man.

"Oh, I was just about to say that," He responded matter-of-factly. "Firemans ... oh, and paramedics."

"Well, you have a while to think about it and make up your mind buddy," I said, smiling to myself at the such grown-up conversation about growing up.

"Well, maybe when I'm 10 ... that's after 5 ... maybe when I'm 10, just MAYBE, I will have decided," the little man stated. "But I only have SERIOUS professions going around in my brains because I only want a SERIOUS profession when I'm growed up ... like an ambulance man."

The little man sat back in his carseat, deep in thought.

And Momma smiled the whole way home in awe of her SERIOUS little man.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Attack of the Lomster

It was a seemingly normal enough day when I picked the little man up from preschool. On the way home, the little man had a request.

"Momma?" he asked. "I wanna go to Red Lomster some day."

What may have been a seemingly normal enough question on this seemingly normal day definitely piqued my interest.

Mostly because neither my husband or I eat seafood.

(And yes, we have tried it all - the freshest crabcakes, the jumbo-ist of shrimp and even the most succulent lobster. Maybe it's because we grew up in the Midwest. Maybe we're just strange. Seafood just isn't something we find enjoyable. A large, juicy and rare Delmonico - now we're talking.)

"Why do you want to go to Red Lobster?" I asked.

"At Red Lomster they have lomsters ... and you can EAT them," he said, excitedly.

I figured Red Lobster must have been a topic of discussion today amongst him and his friends at preschool, so I let the subject rest with a simple "We'll see ... I'll tell Nana or Grammy Jo you want to go to Red Lobster." (Who both thoroughly enjoy sea-faring fare.)

End of story?


What seemed like an innocent question was really the start of the little man's new obsession - "lomsters."

Ever since that one day there has been much excitement over "lomsters" in our house. Now we have lomster toys, lomster books, lomster shirts and I can't even begin to tell the excitement that resounded when the little man saw real-life lomsters at the Georgia Aquarium on a recent family trip to Atlanta.

Nevermind the ginormous whale sharks, the beluga whales or the million other rare, exotic or just plain cool animals at the aquarium. They all paled in comparison to the lomsters.

So you can imagine my un-surprise the other night as I was watching TV and heard a strange "kish-kish ... kish-kish..." approaching me from the kitchen.

I was then promptly attacked by my very own lomster ... with fierce silicone oven mits for claws and a big smile on his face as he made the kish-kish ... kish-kish ... noise that apparently represented the snapping of the lomster claws.

And, of course, a lomster shirt to boot.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Where Have We Gone?

This summer is flying by ... one moment it's barely Spring, and as I look at my calendar today I find that the Fourth of July is just around the corner.

But, I guess time really does fly when you're having fun.

So far this summer we have been busy ...

{We've gone to baseball games}

{We've played baseball games}

{We've cooled off with water gun fights}

{That is, when we weren't cooling off with ice cream cones}

{We've partied like rock stars}

{And Mommy and Daddy escaped for a much-needed vacation to The Bahamas with Grammy Jo, Papa, Uncle Lambo and KK while the little man went to Nana's ... but don't tell the little man we were at the beach without him!}

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Higher Education

The little man sat in our kitchen, happily slurping up a hot fudge sundae. This week he passed his swim test, passing him to the next level for swim lessons. We celebrated his big achievement with ice cream.

"You're such a big kid now," I said. "Now you can move up to big boy Swim 1 and you're starting Kindergarten. You're all grown up."

As our conversation progressed, the little man became more curious about what lie ahead of him in the future.

"How many grades?" the little man asked.

"Well, you have Kindergarten, then you move on to First Grade, then Second Grade, then Third Grade ... all the way up to 12. There are 12 grades," I said.

The little man's eyes got big. "Then I'm all growed up!" he said.

"Well ... then you get to go to college," I said. "It's a super special school with four more grades."

The little man's eyes got bigger.

"And you get to live in a fancy house called Delta Upsilon," I said, marking my husband's Greek affiliation.

"Dwelta upsilawn ... that's a silly name," the little man laughed. "I don't wanna live in a fancy house."

"Well ... there's other houses you could live in," I said. "There's another super cool one called Theta Xi." (Marking his Uncle Lambo's Greek affiliation.)

The little man giggled some more. "Thtweata eye ... that's silly!"

"Well, where would you like to live when you go to college?" I finally asked the little man.

"I wanna live with Papa," he said. (Who, coincidentally, does live in our Alma mater's hometown.) "I live with Papa at his house."

"What about Grammy Jo?" I asked as I teased him. "Could she do your laundry and make sure you eat dinner every night, if you're living with them?"

"Yeah!" the little man exclaimed. "While Papa and I play with the skid loader."

And with that, college suddenly became a lot more affordable.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Last week, it became more evident than ever that one chapter of our lives was slowly closing, and another just barely beginning.

For the last five years we have been taking on one milestone at a time: the first "I've fed him, changed him, burped him and swaddled him and he's STILL crying" milestone, his first cold, the first solid foods, the first words, first steps, etc. We ran to his bedroom to make sure he was still breathing the first time we woke in the morning and realized he had slept the WHOLE night. We even survived potty training.

And now we find ourselves at the beginning of one monumental milestone: Kindergarten.

For the last few weeks, we've been getting all the necessary ducks in a row to enroll the little man in Kindergarten. First was the parent's meeting - a brief introduction and crash course into what would become quite the gauntlet of Kindergarten enrollment.

Then came the lottery - our elementary school only has so many slots available for Full-Day Kindergarten. Because our current daycare only takes them until they are school-age, we needed a slot in the full-day program. So we submitted our entry into the lottery and waited. I went home every day for lunch to check the mail. I knew the mailman came around Noon each day.

My husband became increasingly amused at my stalking of the mailman.

And the one day I cannot go home for lunch, it arrives. Our letter notifying us that our name had indeed been selected in the lottery - the little man had his slot.

The next few weeks were a flurry of paperwork gathering, faxing and phone calls. It took more paperwork to enroll the little man into Kindergarten than it did to get him his passport.

It all finally came to a head last week at Kindergarten Round-Up. Our family got to meet the teachers, the Principal, tour the school, etc. One of the Principal's major talking points was about whether or not your child was ready for Kindergarten - that it was perfectly fine for parents to keep them back a year if there were any doubts. The Principal herself had chosen to hold one of her children back - she said she had never regretted it.

The mommy part inside of me did allow those thoughts to seep in - is the little man really ready for Kindergarten? He is far from grown up - he can't even tie his own shoes yet.

And just as I started to entertain those thoughts of doubt, those thoughts were interrupted by "Hey, TAG - you're IT!" as the little man instigated a game of Tag with the other kids in the school gymnasium. Before long, all of the future Kindergartners were running about, laughing and tagging each other.

He's going to be just fine ... I thought to myself as I heard the little man laugh with his new friends.

It's mommy that is going to have the tough transition.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Grammy Jo and Papa have a new addition to their family - after we brought home our new little ball of white fluff, they were inspired to get a little ball of black fluff.

And so enters Riker the puppy. Or, as the little man pronounces it, "Wrecker."

The little man was thrilled when Papa stopped by our house on his way home from picking up the new puppy from the breeder, which was in a neighboring state. Fortunately, our home was about halfway between the two, so the little man got to meet the new puppy and get some Papa time.

From the very start, Riker and the little man were buddies. The little man liked that the puppy was so small (just 3 pounds) and I think the puppy liked that the little man was smaller, too. Before long they were running about the house with the other dogs, the best of friends.

It has now been several weeks since we saw Riker - but the little man still hasn't forgotten his little buddy. Fortunately for him, we will be puppy-sitting this week and Riker will be joining our family for a few days. The anticipation has been building up in the little man.

Last week, the little man had the opportunity to be named "Helper of the Day" for his preschool class. This important position means the helper gets to help the teacher do everything that day - even having to say the morning prayer. The little man, ever the performance artist, was excited to be able to say the prayer for the day. I asked him that morning what he was going to say.

"I awlready know what I'm going to pray for," he said with a big smile. "I awlready thought about it. You're supposed to pray for something special to you, to keep them safe."

I walked the little man down the hallway to his class.

"Have a good day," I said as I kissed him goodbye. "Have fun Mr. Helper."

Later that day, when I picked up my beaming Helper of the Day, he had to tell me all about how he helped the teacher and was a "zillion good" as the Helper of the Day.

"So, did you say your prayer for Mommy and Daddy?" I asked.

"No," he replied.

"Papa? Grammy Jo? Nana?" I asked, going through the list of usuals.

"No," the little man said.

"Well then who? You did get to say the prayer, didn't you?" I asked.

"I said a prayer for Wrecker," the little man said, smiling. "Because he's just a little baby dog, and God needs to keep him safe."

The little man was beaming, proud of his prayer.

And somewhere, up above, the little man's prayer was undoubtedly heard for his little friend.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Down the Aisle

I can't believe it's been a month since my last post - so far, 2011 has definitely started off as a busy year.

To combat the winter dreariness, our family took our annual trip to Florida a few weeks ago. The sun and warmth are always a welcome reprieve from winter and the little man had started asking when we were going long before the first snowflake fell. It appears he - like us - has become accustomed to a little winter getaway.

The good news is that because we live in Kansas, we have easy access to pretty much anywhere in the U.S. The bad news is that doesn't mean getting there is quick.

But the little man doesn't mind so long as airplanes are involved.

To his delight, our trip to Florida this year took a total of 4 airplanes to shuttle our family to and from our destination - two flights up, two flights home.

And four cockpits full of pilots who love little visitors.

Fortunately, we had one little visitor who is not shy one bit. In fact, I'm not sure he even knows what the word "shy" means.

As we boarded our first plane the little man was eagerly tramping down the gangway. Once we stepped onto the plane, the little man said his usual "hello" to the flight attendant greeting everyone and as I prepared to direct the little man to our seats, he decided to take a detour.

"Hi, are you the pilot?" I hear the little man as I notice he is no longer in front of me, but rather in the cockpit of the plane. In the paranoia-fueled days of post-9/11, I immediately reached for the little man, wondering if his presence was OK or not.

"Oh, he's OK, you can stand back here and wait," the flight attendant said. My husband stood back and waited while I went on to our seats. A few moments later a very smiley little man came tramping down the aisle, telling me all about his new friends, the pilots.

As we took off, the captain made his usual welcome speech over the intercom, along with a personal welcome aboard to his new little friend.

The above scenario was then repeated three more times. By the last flight, the little man had made such a camaraderie with the pilots that they told both my husband and I to go ahead and sit down - that the little man could hang out with them.

As the final passengers took their seats, we finally heard a small voice over the intercom:

"I"m coming down the aisle now!" the little man's voice boomed over the speakers.

And a very smiley little man proudly tramped down the aisle.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Destination ...

In a previous post, I shared how the little man (with mommy's help) packed a shoebox full of goodies as part of Operation Christmas Child to be shipped to a child in a developing country so that that child could also have some Christmas cheer.

As part of our project, I also received a tracking bar so that the little man could know where exactly in this great big world that his box was shipped to.

And the destination was ...


Twenty-nine percent of Mexico’s 112.4 million people are 14-years-old or younger. In 2009, 640,424 shoe box gifts were delivered to children in Mexico, which first received the gifts in 1995. Since then, 5,422,743 children have received a shoe box gift.

Our family has been fortunate enough to have traveled to Mexico on many occasions, and the little man - just this summer - has also joined us on our travels there. When I told him where his shoebox had gone, he smiled, having remembered his own visit to Mexico.

And hopefully, somewhere just south of us, there is another little man enjoying his brand new crayons, green harmonica (just like the little man's), toys and Wall-E toothbrush.

And of course, Smarties.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Little Man Turns 5!!!

Much to mommy's dismay, the little man turned 5 just before Christmas. An early Christmas present just five short years ago, our Decembers have forever been marked not by the joyous holiday season, but by also the little man's birthday.

I don't know if it is a curse or a blessing to have been born just a few days before Christmas. I am so paranoid that the little man will feel as if his birthday is never really celebrated due to it's proximity to Christmas (thus a curse), that I have made it a personal mission of mine to ensure the little man's birthday is celebrated to the full extent (thus a blessing).

Ask any friend or family member and you will know that I have explicit rules when it comes to the little man's birthday:

1. His birthday is to be celebrated on his birthday - no "you should celebrate his birthday on his half-birthday so you can space it out between Christmas."
2. His birthday presents are not to be wrapped in Christmas paper.
3. His birthday presents are just that - no birthday/Christmas combined gifts. I don't care if his birthday is the same week as Christmas.

So, as such, I of course began obsessing over his birthday in true mommy form. Planning, plotting and thinking of ways to make this birthday special. Before any thoughts of Christmas, or even Thanksgiving, my mommy mind was turning.

When it came down to it, the little man asked me if he could have his birthday party at the same place we had it last year. I had already come up with a list of no less than 100 other possibilities, all of which were quickly shot down by the little man.

And so mommy learned lesson No. 1 of letting go of the little boy and embracing my new older and and independent big boy - letting him make his own choices.

For me, 5-years-old is a monumental milestone in my son's life. He has definitely grown by leaps and bounds over the last year. He will begin Kindergarten this fall. He even chooses his own clothes at the stores now.

And so I took a deep breath and let go.

{Well, a little bit, anyways.}

And we promptly booked a party at the same place. We handed out invitations to all of his friends. We let the little man choose his birthday cake.

And we welcomed the little man into big boyhood with one great party.