Sunday, August 28, 2011

The skeleton in my laundry room

I’m about to let the world in on a shocking secret.  Are you ready for it?  Are you sitting down?

I don’t like to iron.

There.  I said it.  Go ahead and judge.  Let the name-calling begin!  Throw some rotten tomatoes at me if you feel the need.  You won’t change my mind, though.  I just don’t like to iron.

I’m a housewife.  I do everything under the sun during my daily life.  I plan, chop for, and cook meals; I bake; I clean the house from top to bottom; I do laundry on a daily basis; I ferry kids to school, parks, play dates, grandparents’ houses, and appointments; I have been known to mend a hole or two in a t-shirt; I do the yard work; I deal with servicemen who come to the house; I do the majority of the child rearing; I give moral support to my family.  Note that ironing isn’t included anywhere on that list. 

When Trevor and I first got married, I did try to fulfill my wifely duties by ironing his shirts.  I realized a couple of things right off.  I’m not good at ironing.  I mean, I’m terrible.  I had a great teacher; my mom rocks at ironing.  In fact, she finds ironing relaxing.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The woman enjoys ironing.  I’m not sure how I came from her womb.  Anyway, when I iron, whatever I’m ironing ends up looking worse than it did when I started.  Quite often, a shirt looks like a wild animal dragged it away, spent a restless night rolling on it, and deposited it back on my doorstep.  The second thing I realized is that Trevor is waaaaay too tall.  No, that’s not right.  He’s not too tall; his shirts are too tall.  The fabric pools on the floor on one side while I’m trying to smooth out the creases on the other side.  It’s not pretty.  And with all of the wrestling I do to keep the shirt from getting dirty, it just ends up wrinkled again.  And have I pointed out how much time it all takes?  Egad.  In the time it would take me to iron all of Trevor’s work shirts for a week, I could watch an entire episode of Dance Moms or Real Housewives of New Jersey.  Priorities, people.  Priorities.  Not to mention the safety issues.  If anyone would have kids who would run into the laundry room, trip over the iron’s cord, knock over the ironing board, and injure themselves or others, it would be me.  Clumsy is sort of my thing. 

I tend to enjoy chores that give me immediate gratification like mowing, vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen, or organizing a closet.  By that definition, I should like ironing because I can watch the creases magically disappear.  But, c’mon, it’s not magic.  It’s my bum right shoulder making it happen, and that’s no magic, baby. 

My compromise with Trevor as soon as I realized my ineptitude was this: you took your stuff to the dry cleaner before we were married and you can keep doing it now. Where is the compromise?  There really isn’t one.  That’s the way I roll. 

So now you know my dirty little secret.  I’m the best housewife around, except when it comes to ironing.  Maybe someday, when the kids are older, I’ll go back to school and take Ironing 101.  Then again, maybe not.  After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Things that make you go hmmmmmmm...

Like all kids, my kids tend to say the darndest things.  Too bad Art Linkletter still isn't around...

Dallas: "I can't eat this."
Me: "Why not?"
Dallas: "It's shaped like a circle.  I don't like circles."

Odd considering all he talked about today was circle time at school.  He loves circle time.  I guess he doesn't love edible circles, though.  Duly noted.
Lottie and Trevor had lunch together on Wednesday to celebrate her first day of 4-year-old preschool.  Apparently the TV at the restaurant was tuned into coverage of Hurricane Irene.  Lottie was interested and a little worried about what was happening, so Trevor did his best to explain. He said the storm was far away from us, near the Bahamas, and that was when Lottie interrupted him: "Daddy, is that anywhere near France?"  She knows Indiana, Kentucky, Florida, and France.  That's my girl.

Lottie has always thought of herself as Dallas's second mother.  Quite frankly, she may even consider herself his first mother since, based on Lottie's frequent skeptical looks, I don't seem to know nothin' 'bout raisin' no babies.

Lottie: "Mama, I'm worried about Dallas going to school."
Me: "Oh, why, baby?"
Lottie: "Well, I know they serve cow's milk at lunch at school.  I've had it before.  Do you know that Dallas can't have cow's milk?"
Me:  "Hmmmm, that rings a bell, yes.  No worries, though.  I'll send rice milk in Dally's lunchbox like I did last year."
Lottie: "Mama, THE SCHOOL GIVES EVERY KID COW'S MILK.  I KNOW THIS.  IT HAPPENS.  DALLAS WILL GET HIVED."  (This was said slowly and loudly just to make sure that what she was saying would penetrate my thick skull.
Me: "Babe, I know.  I'll take care of it."
Lottie:  Big sigh.  Exit stage left.

Dallas: "Mommy, when it's Christmastime, Mama, we can drink eggnog and eat cookies.  Mommy!  Eggnog!"
Lottie: "Dallas, it has to be SOY eggnog and soy cookies!"
Dallas: "Okay, Lottie."  Beaming smile.

He's going to be some lucky lady's dutiful beau.  And she's going to be the Boss of the World.


There are certain words that we don't use in our house.  We don't say anyone is an idiot, and we don't call anyone stupid.  Well, not all of us.  Dallas is fascinated with the "bad" words and will do anything he can to get around the no-use rule.  He has come up with quite a few ways to almost say what he wants to say without exactly saying it.  His favorite ways to defy are by saying "stewie" or "stew" instead of "stupid."  And then he even has the stones to say, "I didn't say 'stupid', Mommy.  I said 'stew' like a witch's stew."  Ay yi yi.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


With the recent invasion of college students returning to Lexington, I have been thinking about my own college days.  It's so bizarre to think that twenty-one years ago this week, I started my first year at Butler at the tender age of seventeen.  That's one choice that I never realized would have such an impact on my life. Going to Butler was an easy choice: I wanted a small school in a big city, I wanted to be within driving distance of home but not within dropping-in distance, and I wanted a scholarship.  I got all three.  That one decision of where to continue my education ended up bringing me to my life in Lexington.

*I went to Butler and made amazing, life-long friends.  The bonds I forged there are still present and still very strong.  And in a required speech class, I met the love of my life, only I had no idea he was The One at the time.  
*I loved school, and I loved student teaching in Indianapolis at Broad Ripple High School and Cardinal Ritter High School.  I was offered a job at CRHS as a full-time teacher.  There, too, I met people who will be my life-long friends. 
*With my friends, I went to a bar one night in Indianapolis.  I met J.  
*J. became my first husband. 
*CRHS wanted to move me to a part-time position, so I took a new job at Danville High School.
*Four years into the marriage, J. turned my world upside down one morning by telling me that our marriage was a mistake and walking out on me while we were staying with my parents for a visit.  Humiliation doesn't even begin to cover it.  
*In a blind and numb panic, I went home to Valpo and my family.  I got a job at Valparaiso High School.
*In my classroom at Valparaiso High School, I received an email from Trevor, The aforementioned unrecognized One.  
*After one year, I taught part-time at VHS and Ben Franklin Middle School.  *BF was the place where I healed and remembered how to smile again.  
*After lots of phone calls, emails, and visits, Trevor asked me to marry him.  *The rest is history.  

Some of the things that happened were pretty terrible.  There was a long period of time where I wasn't sure who I was anymore or if I would ever figure it out again.  I had a lot of lonely nights and a lot of sleepless nights.  But, boy, did I have a lot of fun, too.  I really can't stress enough how many amazing friends I have made in the last twenty-one years and how important they have all been in different aspects of my life.  And my family?  Beyond measure.  Without their support and unconditional love, I would have withered away before the new millennium.  But everything that happened had a purpose, and every single decision I made, good or bad, got me to where I am now.  Every single decision was the right decision at the time simply because I made it, you know?  And look where I am now:  I am married to a man who loves me more each day, even when I'm a teeny bit overdramatic.  (  I have two children who are stunning creatures.  They're truly the best things I have ever done.  If I hadn't chose Butler, I wouldn't have met Trevor, lived in Indy, met J., been dumped, moved to Valpo, taught at VHS where my email address turned up when Trevor plugged my name into a search engine, found myself and found my joy again.  A friend and fellow blogger has had a pretty crazy/bad/frustrating year herself, and now, she is consciously choosing joy in her life.   No matter what choices you make, you can't go wrong with joy. Even when the decisions or choices don't feel joyous, have faith that someday they'll get you there.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy endings

Trevor and I have been reading Charlotte's Web with Lottie at night.  First of all, it's one of the best children's books ever.  EVER.  And second, I thought Lottie would get a kick out of reading a book where her name is in the title.  And third, she is an avid "reader" though she's not reading herself yet.  I want to do everything I can to nurture her love of reading, and I thought it was high time to begin some simple chapter books.  

My only concern with this book in particular was *SPOILER ALERT* that Charlotte dies in the end.  Lottie is an animal lover; that kid would take care of any non-human living being that she could find.  I was afraid that Lottie would get too emotional over Charlotte's death and wonder why on earth her cruel and unusual parents had subjected her to such torture.  Turns out I didn't need to worry at all.

When we came to the pivotal chapter, I began to read, anticipating lots of tears: Lottie's and my own.  She seemed to understand that Charlotte was growing weaker and dying, but her main concern was for Wilbur. Would he be sad?  Did he know what was happening to Charlotte?  Did Wilbur have other friends?  All of a sudden, a big smile came to her face.

"Mama, I know why Wilbur shouldn't be sad or worried!!!!"

"Why, baby?"

"Because Charlotte will be waiting for him in Heaven!!"

I give all credit for her epiphany to Good Shepherd Day School.  In general, we're not a religious family.  We don't go to church, even on the big holidays.  We don't really talk too much about God or religion to the kids.  It's not that Trevor and I are necessarily against religion as a whole, but it's not a focus of our lives.  I'm actually glad that Lottie and Dallas are learning about faith in school; I want them to be exposed to lots of different viewpoints before they decide what to believe.  I mean, I'm thirty-eight years old, and I'm still not entirely sure of what I believe.  However, I have to agree with Lottie that Charlotte was waiting to welcome Wilbur when it was finally his time to die, and I think Wilbur knew that in his heart as well.  After all, death isn't really about the person who died; it's more about the people who are left behind.  And if it comforts someone, anyone, to feel that his loved one will be waiting, than let it be.  

On a completely unrelated yet hilarious note, Lottie wore two pairs of underwear to the park today.  When I asked her why, she looked confused and then laughed.  In her haste to get dressed, she hadn't taken off her other pair, just slipped the new pair on right over the top.  That's the kind of bizarre we have every day chez Wells.  I'm never bored.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Take mine, please

Last week, Dallas had his yearly check-up at the allergist's office.  I figured we'd be in and out quickly, but I was wrong.  Shocking.

Lottie, Dallas, and I all trooped in to the exam room and waited for the doctor.  When he came in, Dallas decided that it was a perfect time to lose his mind.  There was crying, falling to the floor, and even some screaming.  This time, it wasn't me!  The poor doctor hadn't even touched Dal, just walked through the door.  I mentally deflated a little then and there because I knew it wasn't going to be an easy visit.  The doctor wanted to do scratch tests to gauge Dally's allergies to dairy and eggs.  No problem, right?  No problem for an adult, but for a not-quite-three-year-old kid in a state of utter despair, it was a problem.  I wrestled off Dally's shirt, and the nurse did the control scratches and the allergy scratches.  Then we waited.  It seemed like we waited a VERY long time, but maybe it just felt like an eternity in that teeny, windowless room.  I plied the kids with treats (M&M's and Skittles) to make the wait a bit easier.  When the nurse came in to check Dallas's welts, she said, to my surprise, that Dally hadn't reacted to the egg scratch.  The doctor returned and said he wanted us to get a blood test to confirm those results.  I assumed it would be a finger prick, and I felt the first stirrings of dread when he sent us to a lab.  I knew that wasn't good news: no need to go to a lab for a finger prick.  So I dragged both kids to another building and into the lab.  Once again, Dallas lost his mind and actually tried to flee the room.  Smart kid.  I filled out paperwork, tried to occupy Lottie, and kept an eye on Dallas to make sure he didn't sneak out.  Multitasking at its best!

Then the really awful part began.  I sat in the chair with Dal on my lap.  I had to wrap my leg around his legs to ensure he didn't kick the woman drawing his blood, and I also had to hold one of his arms down and the other arm out straight so she could find a vein.  He about jumped out of his skin when the woman wrapped the tourniquet around his arm, and I could feel myself starting to shake and tear up.  I knew Dallas wouldn't see how upset I was, but I had to hold it together for Lottie.  She was watching all of it with her big blue eyes, and I didn't want to scare her.  The first time the woman got the needle in, Dallas moved too much, and she had to take it out.  Then she tapped his other arm and I held him as tightly as I could.  Meanwhile, I was also sweating like a pig out of stress and the fact that it was a BILLION degrees in that stupid room.  It was the worst feeling to hold my son and know that someone was hurting him.  I couldn't even look at his face to smile at him or reassure him.  I just kept whispering in his ear that it would be over soon, but I doubt he could hear me over the wailing.  When it was all finally over, he stopped crying immediately.  He picked out a yellow crayon bandage and immediately said, "Can we get out of here now?"  Yes, buddy.  Right now.  He fell asleep in the car - lots of trauma for one day - and continued to nap on the couch once we got home.

That night when Trevor came home, Lottie told him all about the afternoon and promptly burst into tears.  I ran in to see what was wrong, and she sobbed, "I was so scared."  My heart fell out of my chest.  She hadn't seemed scared at the time, but I was so focused on Dallas that maybe I hadn't noticed.  Score one for Worst Mommy Ever.  I held her for a while and let her cry, and I apologized for not realizing how scared she had really been.  Later, as I was putting Dallas to bed, he said, "I'm sorry I was scared about the blood, Mommy."  Again, heart falling out of chest.  I hugged him and told him that he hadn't done anything wrong.  I told him he was a brave boy and I was proud of him.

The whole time we were in the lab, I knew it was awful.  I knew Dallas was in pain, and I knew it couldn't be good for Lottie to watch all of it.  But what I didn't tell the kids about my experience in the lab was that the entire time, I was silently thanking whatever higher power gave me healthy kids. The food allergies are Dallas's biggest health problem, and Lottie had her tonsils out.  That's it.  I don't have to spend a lot of time at doctors' offices or labs or hospitals, and for that, I'm grateful.  Even though it was a harrowing afternoon for the kids, I know it could be worse.  We're lucky.  We're so incredibly lucky.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A mini Ari Gold

Just before dinner, Lottie came into the kitchen where Trevor and I were talking. "Mommy?" she said. "I'll make a deal with you. I'll help you set the table and then I'll lie down on the couch for a while. Then, and only then, I'll eat dinner. Is that a deal?" Then and only then? Did she turn forty while I was out shopping today?

She's either ready to be a Hollywood agent or she's going to be an attorney like daddy.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Houston, we have potty training.  (I'll wait for you to pick yourself up off the floor before you continue reading...)

Before and during this adventure with Dallas, I read just about everything I could on the internet about potty training.  On one website, I was told that day three of a five day potty regiment would be the tipping point: either we would quit and go back to diapers or soldier on.  I was determined not to go back to diapers, so I was mentally prepared to keep going.  But Wednesday was quite a day.  There were SO many accidents, Dallas refused to sit on the potty when I asked him to, and I was over the whole thing.  I even texted Trevor at one point and told him we needed to have a serious talk about whether or not to bother enrolling Dal in the upcoming preschool year.  (Yeah, I know.  I overreact.  It's charming.  Dig?)  I know I cried on Wednesday; I'm just not sure how many times I cried.  Dallas also hadn't been sleeping well, so I knew that was part of the issue.  He's crabby when he's tired.  I wonder where on earth he gets that from?  At 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, he asked to go to bed.  I started to worry that he was sick, and I put him to bed hoping that a middle of the night vomiting session wouldn't derail the potty training process.  Not a problem.  He woke up at 7 PM to eat and then played his Leapster until about 9 PM.  

Add to the Wednesday woes when Lottie mentioned to me that she was feeling like she wasn't getting enough attention recently. Ouch. (Her exact words.  Sometimes smart kids make me mad.)  She was totally right, but it really hurt to hear it.  And I was still getting over the fact that I had backed into Trevor's car.  Before I went to bed that night, I decided that we would move forward with potty training no matter what, but I, personally, was giving up. If Dallas were still in diapers on Prom night, so be it.  That would be his date's problem, not mine.  Wednesday was a bad, bad day.

Thursday morning dawned and I was dreading another day of cheerily saying, "That's okay, honey!  Accidents happen!"  I mean, I fully believe that and I'm not angry when he has an accident, but there are only so many times I can say it without becoming either shrill or dead inside.  But something happened.  I don't know if Dallas benefitted from a good night's sleep or if a potty fairy took pity on my weeping, but Thursday was different.  I didn't push Dallas or lead him to the bathroom every thirty minutes.  I reminded him that he could go any time he wanted to go, and he could ask me for help whenever he needed me.  That was it.  And.  It.  Worked.  He told me when he had to go, we went in the bathroom together, and he did what he needed to do.  Victory!  I wasn't too excited, though.  It was a fluke, a one-time deal.  But then it kept happening and happening and happening.  The whole day he told me when he needed to go.  We even went to the park, to the hair salon, and to McDonald's with no accidents.  One huge milestone was that Dallas went on a "big" potty at the salon.  He was scared, but he sucked it up for momma and peed in a big potty.  What an amazing day!  We did have a couple of poop accidents, but I couldn't blame the kid there.  After all, the last time he pooped in the potty, he threw up.  So, you know, there has to be some aversion there.  I started to feel cautiously optimistic.  Could he really be getting it?

Friday was a brighter morning.  Lottie begged for Dallas to be able to go to the park with her: he had basically been exiled to the house with me for potty boot camp the whole week.  Our sitter, Nicole, was willing to take him along, with a backpack full of extra clothes, of course, and off they went.  No accidents.  They were gone for three hours.  No accidents.  Dallas ate lunch.  No accidents.  Dallas went potty.  The kids went to their grandparents in the afternoon.  No accidents.  The kids came home and played for a while.  Dallas pooped on the potty.  OMG.  This is what it feels like to have two potty trained kids.

I know that there will still be accidents.  Realistically, I know that this journey isn't over, but five days ago, I wasn't sure we would even be at this point today.  I have so many emotions running rampant through my head.  I'm so proud of how far he has come, and I love that he's proud of himself.  I feel sad that Lottie has felt neglected lately.  I have been really focused on getting my shoulder back into shape and getting Dallas to ditch his diapers, and she got a little lost in the middle of everything.  I'm proud of her for telling me how she was feeling and for forgiving me.  We have started reading Charlotte's Web together, and I'm enjoying the quiet, snuggly time with her.  Both of my kids are growing up so quickly.  Cliché as it is, time is flying.  Some days feel like they drag on and on, but as a whole, I don't know where the days are going.  Although I miss the sweet-smelling baby stage, I love watching the kids learn and grow and become who they're going to be.

All sappiness aside, for the first time in four years, six months, and twenty-six days, I AM DONE WITH DIAPERS.  Well, except at night, but that barely counts.  Cut me some slack, people.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Alexander's got nothin' on me

Do you remember the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?  I had that beat yesterday.  Oooh, buddy.

It was our first day back from Valpo, and everyone was tired.  But I needed to start Dallas on potty training because we're running out of time.  School starts in 24 days, and I need Dallas to be there.  NEED it.  So we started the morning with big boy underwear!  Woohoo!  Exciting, no?  Apparently for Dallas, no.  He refused to put the underwear on.  He wouldn't put it on until he thought I was crying.  (There is some deep-seated weirdness there that will put him in therapy in years to come.)  Once we got the underwear on, things went downhill.  He refused to even try to sit on the potty.  Not happening at all.  Even my fake-crying didn't sway him.  At one point, he even peed and pooped in his underwear and then stood there and finished reading his book.  So...yeah.  Obviously discomfort doesn't bother him.  He also wasn't really too interested in the treasure chest of rewards that I had all ready for him, either.  After numerous phone calls to my mom and real tears, I decided to just let it go and see what happened.  I felt so happy and free after that decision, and I was ready to tackle the grocery store, my coveted alone time.  I backed out of the garage, and I forgot that Trevor's car was there, too.  Smack. Crash.  Bang.  Dent.  I crumpled in his driver's side door and mashed up my taillight.  Neat.  I cried, the kids cried, and Trevor silently assessed the damage.  Once everyone had calmed down, I went to Kroger, leaking tears all the way.  Surprisingly, no one looked twice at my swollen eyes and red nose.  Once I got through the shopping, I sat in my car and ate part of a Hershey bar in completely beautiful silence.  I came home, cried a little more, and went to bed.  (Trevor, by the way, has been nothing but nice about the whole demolition derby thing.  He took charge of getting repair estimates and talking to the insurance company today.  Love that man.)

Today was better.  Both kids napped, and that means I got to nap, too.  Score!!  I pretty much let Dallas take the lead on using the potty.  Yes, there were some accidents, but there were successes, too.  He voluntarily sat on the potty a few times today with good results - pee and poop!  However, there was one potty visit that was more interesting than the rest.  Dallas made a teeny, tiny poop in the potty.  As Lottie and I clapped and cheered and generally made a ruckus, Dallas started to gag and then promptly vomited.  I assume the smell got to him; I don't know.  I tried to explain that going in the big potty would eliminate his need to hork after every BM, but I don't think he was really listening to me.  We'll try that tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

I just realized how bizarre and sad it is that I am so psyched about how well today went even though I cleaned up lots of bodily fluids.  I guess it's all about perspective...and a huge bottle of laundry detergent.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Da Region

Lottie, Dallas, and I just spent a week in Valparaiso, IN, with my family.  The kidlets were so excited to spend time with everyone!  We flew up in a private plane last Saturday - thanks, Dad! - and arrived in a little under an hour and a half.  MUCH nicer than a six-hour drive that always turns out longer when potty stops have to happen every hour or so.

While we were there, we kept pretty busy.  We visited the Porter County Fair one day, and the kids were all about the rides.  Last year, I injured my shoulder on a fair ride, so I was given explicit instructions to stay off all rides this year.  Luckily, my sister-in-law and my niece accompanied us, so I didn't even have to ride the Ferris Wheel with Lottie.

Lottie, the more adventure-seeking of my two kids, even did a bungee jumping activity.  It was hilarious to watch her bounce up and down or at least try to.  The workers had to pull her down a couple of times to give her enough oomph to do it on her own.
While we were in Da Region, which refers to northwest Indiana for those of you unfamiliar with the lingo, we saw two movies: Winnie the Pooh and Cars 2.  Both movies were really cute, but the kids got pretty restless during Cars 2.  It was quite a bit longer than Winnie the Pooh, and I don't think the kids were quite ready for the James Bond-esque adventures that Lightning McQueen, Mater, and crew were having.  Dallas laughed so long and loud during Winnie the Pooh that I had minor concerns we would be kicked out of the theater.

We also visited a few parks to let the kids run wild.  When Dallas was trying to climb the outside window sills of my parents' house, I thought maybe it was time to get him someplace where it was appropriate to climb.

We also spent a lot of time at my brother and sister-in-law's house at their pool.  Lottie is a total fish and would swim all day long if I would allow it; Dallas deigned to sit on the highest pool step once or twice, but as we well know, water is not his thing.

And yes, he's nude in the pool.  Apparently swimsuits are not his thing, either.  I chose a picture with no naughty bits, though, so his future political career remains intact.

We also got to see my aunt and some of my cousins.  Sharin and her kids, Carolyn and Tommy, were visiting from Colorado, and Ted, his wife Shu-ting, and their son, Theo, were visiting from Taiwan.  My kids were not in particularly good moods on the day we saw Sharin and her crew, so instead of taking pictures, I was ministering to them.  The second time we saw Ted and his family, Dallas stayed home with my parents due to his bad mood.  Luckily, Lottie was fine and had fun playing with Theo.

Lottie was dressed as an Native-American...complete with tomahawk and Batman utility belt.

Overall, it was a great trip.  I love spending time with my family and watching my kids interact with everyone.  I was really lonely for Trevor, though; I miss my best friend when I'm away from him.  And I know that having the kids around 24/7 is exhausting for my parents.  When my mom and dad are visiting us in Lexington, they have their own condo to stay in and escape to.  No such luck when we're in Valpo. But I'm grateful that they at least pretend that it's okay when Lottie and Dallas insist on bubble baths in their whirlpool tub or follow the dogs around and dress them in costumes and jewelry.

I'll have to keep these memories close to my heart this week as we begin (dum dum DUUUUUM) potty training.  Today is day one, and I have cried three times.  It's gotta get better, right?  RIGHT??????