Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dear Damien

To my precious son on his 6th birthday,

I feel like crying. That's probably not a great way to start a love letter to my child, but nevertheless, I feel like crying. It's been six years since the day I first held you in my arms, first heard your cries and felt your tiny heart beat against mine. You were the embodiment of love. I couldn't stop staring at your perfect face. All the pain of the past weeks was forgotten; the days of labor, the surgery I just experienced, gone. Nothing else existed except you. My firstborn, changer of lives, bringer of joy. Damien James.

When I first learned you were coming, I was scared. I didn't know what I had to offer a child or how we'd make things work. Then, just as I was about to become a mother, I lost mine. Your grandma died and I couldn't handle it. I was a little crazy those first few months of pregnancy, but your Daddy helped me through it. It wasn't long before I could feel you kicking me. I started to get excited and began dreaming of our life together, of what you would be like. I married your Daddy and we moved into our first house, the same house we live in now, six years later.

As your arrival drew closer, I think you decided that my sciatic nerve was a good place to hang out. Even then you were trolling Mommy. I was in so much pain I could barely move. I spent much of my time laying in bed, thinking about you, feeling you kick and move. When the midwife told me she was going to induce me, I was ecstatic. Not only would it be an end to the pain, but I would finally get to meet my son. I expected to check in at the hospital, "get induced" (whatever that meant) and be holding you in my arms a few hours later. Alas, it was not meant to be. You weren't really interested in joining us no matter how hard we tried to get you out. Finally, 3 days later during an emergency surgery at 11:30pm on January 31, you entered the world. I remember turning my head to try and catch a glimpse of you as they took you to the side of the room to be cleaned up. I remember tears streaming down my face as I heard you scream. I remember them laying you in my arms for a few, too few, moments before they took you away. You were perfect.

It seemed like hours before I saw you again. Finally, they brought you back to me after my surgery was all done. It felt like you were made to fit perfectly in my arms. After 3 more days, they let us go home. Your Daddy and I felt like we were getting away with something devious. We couldn't believe they were going to just let us walk out of the hospital with you. We felt like someone was going to catch up to us and tell us there was a mistake. We had no idea how to be a Mommy or a Daddy. We yelled at everyone who got too close to our little brown car when we drove. I'd lay on the couch and just stare at you when we were watching TV. You changed our lives.

I can't believe what a little man you are turning into. You are funny and smart, sensitive and kind. You are going to be an amazing man one day, Damien. I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of you. My wish for you is that you find something that you are passionate about and put your whole heart into it. I want you to learn what integrity looks like and strive for it. I want you to be a beacon to those around you, a shining light of love and kindness. I want you to know what compassion and humility feel like and to embrace them.

You have so much life ahead of you, Damien. You will do so many amazing things. You will probably play innumerable practical jokes on me because you think you're hilarious when you lock me out of the car....again. I can't wait to share your life. I can't wait to see who you will become. But I also want to hold on to you so tightly because I miss that little baby I cradled to my chest and I miss that little boy who finally learned to walk and then had to run everywhere because running was just so awesome. I'm going to miss the little boy who wants to play Minecraft together and tell me all the newest things he learned from the Youtube tutorials that he can't get enough of. These moments are so precious, Damien, and I want to cling to each one and never let them go because every moment brings me one moment closer to the day I have to let you go.

I love you so much, Damien. You are not just a light in my life, you are my sunshine. Happy Birthday, baby.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Party Time!

Before I even start this post, I want to say that my pictures turned out AWFUL. I don't know what is wrong with my camera, but lately whenever there is the slightest movement in the picture, everything blurs. I think I've solved the problem by completely resetting the camera to its factory settings, but I don't know. It's frustrating!

Anyway, rant over! On Saturday, we headed to the bowling alley to celebrate Damien's 6th birthday, which isn't technically till the 31st. The bowling alley had a great party package which included $5 arcade cards for 8 kids plus 500 extra tickets for the birthday boy, 2 large pizzas and unlimited soda, and 2 bowling lanes for 2 hours. Let me just say right now that it was pretty much the best birthday party we've ever had in our family. It was super easy in terms of planning (literally I made a phone call. Done) and the kids had a blast.

We went with a Spiderman theme because, duh...Spiderman is awesome!

You can kind of see the Spiderman treat bags behind the cake. We also sent out Spiderman invitations and the birthday boy wore a Spiderman badge identifying him as the VIP.

We were expecting 8 kids at the party, including Damien and Julia, their 8-year old aunt Mikallie and 5 kids he invited from his class, plus our best friends Chris, Peter and Chrissy. I had thought that was a decent, small-ish party. At the last minute, we found out that Mikallie wasn't going to be able to come and 2 of the classmates didn't show up, so we had 5 kids. As it turns out, that was PERFECT. It was utter chaos. There were probably 8-9 other parties there at the same time, so it was wall to wall kids, especially in the arcade. Trying to keep track of 5 kids was just enough for me, thank you very much! Also, I think with more kids, we would have had to order more food because 2 large pizzas disappeared very quickly. So quickly that a certain mom who was supervising kids in the arcade didn't even get some! So in the end, I think it worked out perfectly.

This is before the storm hit. We got there early so we'd be there before the other kids and it was calm. This lasted for about 10 minutes, then the place exploded with kids.

Getting ready to open gifts.

Damien got a sword and shield, plus another double-sided sword that turns into two individual swords. Many sword fights have ensued in my livingroom since Saturday...

The kids started out using this ramp thingy to roll the ball down the alley, but it didn't take long for them to realize that chucking it down the lane as hard as they could was way more fun.  

After the party, we went out for dinner with our friends, which was great. I was exhausted by the time we got home, but it was that wonderful kind of exhaustion you get after a day filled with joy, love and happiness.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Silly Saturday

Sorry there haven't been many posts this week. Next week I'll have pictures from Damien's birthday party to share and a recipe!

Friday, January 18, 2013

That Lovin' Feelin'

I've been married for 6 years. I've been with my husband for 9 years. I feel as though by this time in my life, I have a little bit of insight on love.

My husband and I have a somewhat...what's the word...volatile relationship. Don't get me wrong here. It's not violent and it's not unstable. It's just...volatile. We're both stubborn, prideful people. We both hate being wrong. We argue, maybe more than most couples, and we annoy each other. Sometimes we wonder if we even have anything in common and if we even like each other. Other days, we're best friends. We appreciate each other and support each other and make each other feel as though they're the most important thing in the world to us.

It's pretty much like a roller coaster ride. And honestly? I'm completely ok with that. It's our dynamic. It's who we are. We're always striving to be better, but I don't think we're failing at marriage. I think we've got it nailed.

There's a common thread in our marriage, no matter if we're up or down. We are committed to each other. The "divorce" word has been thrown around in fights, but only in the heat of the moment. We've claimed we're breaking up, but only in anger. Even when we say the words, we know in our hearts they aren't true. No matter how angry we get, we're in this forever. We believe, with every ounce of our being, that we can overcome anything. Notice what I said there, because it's important. WE can overcome anything.

The reason it is important is because most of the time people will say, "Love can overcome anything!" It's usually a romantic comedy spewing that crap. (I love a romantic comedy as much as the next woman, but when it comes to love, they're crap. Sorry.) Love can't overcome anything because love isn't a THING. It's not a feeling. It's not googly eyes and cupid and red hearts and flowers and chocolate. It's not weddings and dates and steamy nights. That's passion. That's lust. It's infatuation. And it goes away. If you are counting on your passion for someone else to get through the hard times, you will fail. Passion fades.

Love though. Love is dirty. It's messy. It's painful and hard and raw. It's choosing to tough it out when it seems so hopeless. It's putting your relationship before yourself. It's commitment. Love remains only when we make the choice to keep it around, only when we put in the hard work.

People don't get a divorce because they're incompatible. They don't get a divorce because they have "fallen out of 'love' (aka, passion). That's a lie that people tell each other to ease their conscience. Marriages fail because people are unwilling to try any longer. The feelings of passion have long since faded and the work is too hard, the rewards too few.

Love is a choice. Love is smiling at that man even though he left the bathroom light on AGAIN even though you've told him a million times to turn it off when he goes out and now you're just irritated! (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) Love is comforting that woman even though she's irritable and annoying AGAIN over something that doesn't even matter or make sense. It's making a choice that no matter what, you will fight through and be the one person that the other can count on. It's staying true to your vows, true to your promises to each other, even when the passion has dwindled.

Nothing great has ever been earned without hard work. The great marriages are the ones that were worked on, day in and day out. One of my life goals is to be married to the same man my entire life. Not just any man. My man. Nathan. The one I chose. The one who chose me. The man I love, every day, no matter what.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kids Activities

Sometimes, especially at this time of year, kids go crazy. Like, insane. There's whining, bickering, fighting, whining, complaining, did I say whining....?

It's the season. Christmas, and all the exciting things that go along with that, is over, kids are back in school, the weather is cold and most days are spent indoors. Boredom sets in. Sometimes I find myself yelling "GO FIND SOMETHING TO DO!" To my four year old. As though she is just a wealth of ideas and all she needs is a light nudge from Mommy to hold back the boredom. Riiiiight.

Luckily, I also haz the interwebs, which actually IS a wealth of ideas! So if you find yourself refereeing insane children who are bored out of their minds, check out these resources for tons of ideas of fun, distracting activities because it's honestly easier than being a referee for another fight over who just touched whom with their toe AGAIN.

Bonus! You get to spend quality time with your kids and they start to seem normal again. Yay!

101 Fun, Easy and Cheap Indoor Activities for Kids

25 Ways to Keep Kids Busy This Winter, Without Television!

20 Mommy-Daughter Dates

Easy Ways to Surprise and Delight Your Children

50 Simple Outdoor Activities For Kids

For more ideas on everything from meals to crafts to kids activities, follow me on Pinterest! Just click the button over there -------------------->

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.'"
                                                       ~ Jeremiah 29:11

I don't know about you, but "plans" are huge for me. I really like to know exactly what is going to happen and when. Also how. Details are important, but if I can't have details, let's at least have a rough outline, ok? I drive my husband crazy. He doesn't like plans. He doesn't want every moment to be scheduled. He wants to just "hang out", "play it by ear" or let whatever is going to happen, happen. I guess we drive each other nuts.

As much as I like plans, I like them even more when they're MY plans. I mean, if you make a plan, I'm happy to go along with it, but before we decide, why don't we take a look at MY plan? If it's my plan, I know exactly what is going to happen and I feel in control.

And there it is. The magic word. Control. It really isn't about planning, is it? It's control. I want it. I need it. Without it, stress and worry start to creep in. Doubt and fear...can we please just make a plan? It's not that I don't trust you. I just trust ME more....

Honestly, it's a little ridiculous. I mean, perhaps have a little ground to stand on in my marriage. I control a lot within my family and we need that control. I'm the mother, the wife, the manager of the house. It's my job. But when it comes to God, it's ridiculous, isn't it? Who am I, that I should claim to have control over life itself? Who am I to claim that I am more trustworthy than God? That I can do a better job?

Yet, unconsciously, I do that every day. Every time I doubt, every time I worry, every time I think I've got it all figured out, I tell God that I've got this. I don't need you. It's all good, thanks anyway. I choose my plans over His. So far, that hasn't turned out very well for me. I mean, sure, I've got some amazing blessings and I'm so grateful. But I've experienced some spectacular failures too. At the end of the day, it's my pride and my need for control that causes all my failures.

"I have plans for you," whispers God. "Good ones. You'll really like them. Just trust me."

"Ok, but can you just tell me now? Because I have this plan right here that I really like and I know all the details and I really think it will all work out this time, so if you can't give me details, I think I'd better just stick with the sure thing..."

What a mess. Lord, help me trust You. I'm so foolish sometimes. I need Your plans, Your control in my life. I know You know what's best for me. Thank you for Your unfailing love.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I've had occasion to think about the difference between being mean and offering constructive criticism. Too often, we take things personally that are meant with the best of intentions. It's easy to misconstrue something because perhaps it hits a little too close to home. This is especially true when the advice is coming from someone close to us, a husband perhaps. Not that I would know or anything...

If we as adults have a difficult time separating our feelings from feedback that is meant to help us, then how much harder is it for our children? How difficult must it be for them to understand that what is being said is not meant to hurt them?

It's too easy to speak harshly to a child, I think. Or maybe it's just me. "Julia, you need to STOP acting like that!" "Damien, that room is disgusting. Clean it up!" But do I stop to think about how the tone of my words affects my children? Not until after the damage is done, if at all. The words are necessary, but the tone cuts. As adults, we usually have the tools to deal with situations like this, but children don't. They take it personally. They think we're angry, we're being mean, even that we hate them. How heartbreaking it is to hear that "Momma is mean." Silly words and probably not truly believed, but let that silly thought fester, even reinforce it with continuous disregard for innocent feelings? Soon the rift between Momma and son will be very wide indeed. And he will be a teenager who hates his mom.

Children don't understand. It's up to us as adults to A) equip our children with the tools they need to deal with criticism and correction and B) to temper our tone towards them, so they know that they are being treated with respect and love, even in the midst of correction or discipline. I don't know about you, but B is really hard for me. I get exasperated and frustrated. But Colossians 3:21 says:

"Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged."

My children shouldn't have to deal with my frustration. They're not equipped for it. I don't want to cause my children discouragement. I want to encourage them! I want to teach them! I want them to know I correct them and discipline because I love them and I want them to feel that love even in the midst of "trouble."

Guess I have a bit of work to do. What about you? Do you find it easy to temper your own emotions when dealing with your kids or do you struggle like me? What tips do you have to help?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Inspire Me...

Oh no, I haven't posted since Wednesday! I've been pretty busy being sick and behind on housework and stuff so the blog suffered. Hopefully I'll be more on top of things this week!

(I found this image on Pinterest. I do not know where it was originally posted.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday is for Weight-loss

Originally posted HERE.

I honestly believe that one of my biggest issues in life is clinging to past mistakes, failures and regrets. I tricked myself into believing that because I messed up then, of course I was going to do it again. It's who I am. I'm a failure and a screw up. I can't change what I've done or failed to do. 

This year, I'm done with that. All it got me was pain. I spent the last few decades in pain. I would really like to spend the next few living in joy and peace, so something has to change. It's a new day, a new start and I'm moving FORWARD to a  new ending. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wenatchee Price Book

One of the most important jobs of a mother is usually the meal planning / grocery shopping. Over the last year or so, I've picked up some tricks and tips in terms of couponing and searching for the best values. But one thing I've neglected to do is develop a standard price book. If I need something and it's not advertised on sale, where do I go to get it? I don't really have a "regular" store I go to, unless you count Safeway because it's close to my house. But I don't like going to Safeway because they don't often have the lowest regular prices. 

My usual method of grocery shopping is to map out the best sales at about 5 different stores and then go to 1 or 2 a day that week. I decided I needed a price book with local prices so I could check where I want to pick up x item if it's not on sale, but also to find out if the sale price on x is actually the best deal. 

So I've created a google document that I want to share, a Price Book. It's very sparse right now, but I'll be adding to it as often as I can with all my shopping trips. If you're local and you want to submit some prices that you're aware of from your shopping trips to help flesh out the Price Book, send me an email at Also, if you have an item you'd like a "price check" on to be added to the Price Book, send an email to the same place. 

Monday, January 7, 2013


One of my favorite blogs, The Lettered Cottage, is hosting a link party today called This Little Word of Mine. It's a fun way to share our Word of the Year.

Do you have a Word of the Year? I've never really thought about it before, but when I read about Layla's idea, one word came to mind: Forward. There was no question that if I had to pick any word, this would be it. Forward.

To me, it speaks of momentum. Just keep moving. If you fall, get up and keep going. Don't look back. Press on. That's what this year is to me. My goal to lose weight and be more fit means that I'm constantly thinking to myself, "Keep going, don't stop." Even more than that though, I find that the past affects me more than I want it to. I want to stop looking back. This year, I'm looking forward.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I presson to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." - Phillipians 3: 12-14

The Lettered Cottage

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Inspire Me...

(I found this poem on Pinterest. I don't know who the original author is or where it was originally posted.)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Silly Saturday

I'm pretty sick and medicated right now, so this is about the most I could muster. It's silly, and yet oh so true!

Originally posted HERE.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Developing Relationships with our Children

It can be so easy for us as parents to get caught up in our roles as mother or father. The day to day grind is filled with moments of exasperation, frustration and "because I said so, that's why!" We know what's best and we just want them to listen. If their room gets clean that day without 30 minutes of nagging, well, that's a victory right there!

It's easy to overlook the hearts of our children when we're so caught up in their actions and behavior. But actions stem from the heart. Even more than training our children to do their chores and behave properly, it's our job to teach our children that they are important members of a community. As members of that community, be it the family unit, a social network of friends, or school, they are important. The greatest gift we can give our children is teaching them that they have value.

How do we do that? How do we impress upon our children a sense of self-worth and value? There is truly only one way: Show them. When we, our child's greatest example, treat them with respect, we are teaching them that they have worth. When we make a conscious effort to build a relationship with our children, we teach them that they are deserving of our time and energy. We need to listen to our children, not just talk at them. We need to remember that they are people with dreams and desires, hopes and fears. Even more important, they don't know how to channel this inner dialogue. It's up to us to teach them how to focus on what is important to them and let them know that if it's important to them, it's important to us.

Does this mean indulging every childish whim? Heavens no. But it does mean that we need to take the time to open a dialogue with our children and have a genuine child-led conversation with them. I think everyone would agree that marriage takes a lot of hard work to be successful. Why, then, do we think that our relationship with our children should come naturally?

I've included several links at the bottom of this post for suggestions on how to open a dialogue with your children. The relationship between a parent and a child is one of the greatest love stories of humanity. Nurture it. Water it. Let it grow. You only have this kind of influence for a short time.

19 Things We Should Say To Children

20 Pillow Talk Questions for Children

10 Habits to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Child

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year's Organizing Revolution!

A few of my favorite blogs are hosting a New Year's Organizing Revolution challenge. Every week for the month of January, they are going to focus on a particular room or area to organize and they want us all to get involved! Once the area is organized, we'll take a photo and link up to the challenge. Then all the photos will be voted on and there are prizes for those with the most votes!

Week one was Office/Desk Area and thank goodness, because mine was in BAD shape. My desk is pretty much the biggest clutter magnet in my entire house and so it looked like this:

So yeah, my desk was in severe need of organizing. There are some things I can't change due to budget and/or space restrictions. For example, my table needs a complete sanding and refinishing and the walls need to be painted. These are projects that will happen this year, but for now I just focused on getting the clutter under control.

I moved the black shelves over to where our family calender is, which is right behind my chair and on the other side other side of the entrance to the kitchen. I moved the side table over to where it SHOULD have been this entire time, right beside the couch, which is where the black shelving unit was. This posed a slight problem of where to put the printer, since it really couldn't be moved, but by moving my computer tower on to the floor under the table (good-bye pretty pink tower), I cleared enough space on the table for the printer. 

After clearing all the clutter away, I picked up a few new organizing tools from Target to make life a little easier and here is the result!

I bought a couple canvas bins to hold miscellaneous craft supplies. I was also happy to find cute little bin clips with erasable labels, so the pink one is Momma's craft stuff and the green one is for the kids. I put the computer paper and a few of our games on the top shelf and the bottom shelf is for my greeting card file and my paper file. 

I found that lamp at Target on clearance and since I didn't own any lamps at all, I decided it was probably a good investment. I really liked it because the shade is completely plain. I have plans to paint a chevron pattern on it, but I have to think about what colors I want it to be. The base is really shiny and reflective like chrome so I want to make sure it matches since I'm not sure I want to paint the base. The vase is a decorative glass pitcher that used to be brown and white basket weave, but I spray painted it silver at Christmas to put on my mantle (those flowers are also from my Christmas mantle.) I'll probably spray paint it again in the spring to something else. The picture is of me and my husband and it's sitting on my late father's Bible, which is one of my most treasured possessions. I actually thought I'd lost it years ago, but it was returned to me recently and I'm eternally grateful that it found its way back to me.

This desk organizer is perfect for holding all my pens, phone and odds and ends. That little shelf where I have my phone is supposed to be for sticky notes, but I don't use those so this works for me! I stuck the charger for my camera in there with the calculator and a few important papers right behind. Pins and other random little things fit neatly in the drawer and pens live in the back. Behind that, I have our memory jar and my clear nail polish, since I like putting it on my nails while I'm on the internet. That weird pink thing is my broken web cam but luckily the microphone still functions on it, so I keep it around!

Finally, I added a file holder to the wall beside my desk to corral all the stray papers that I end up with. The top folder is for coupons I need to file, fliers I have to look through and my shopping list notebook. The bottom file is for important papers that either need to be dealt with or filed away.

I feel a million times better having done this. I think it looks great and it's so much easier to find what I'm looking for. 

So if you think I did a good job, you should head over to Organizing Made Fun and vote for me! Voting starts on Friday and goes till Sunday. Check out all the other links as well and get some great ideas for your office or desk area.

Organizing Made Fun

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dear 2014 Me

Dear Me,

It's 2014 where you are, but it's only 2013 here. I hope 2013 has been kind to you. I hope the things we wanted to happen, happened and I hope we were able to avoid pain and heartbreak.

I'm sure you remember, but in case you don't, let me tell you a bit about myself. Right now, it's New Year's Day. I'm at home, in that drafty old duplex. I hope you live somewhere better! Bigger, with more than one bedroom. I hope the sink works and the bathtub isn't always cold. I hope there's a nice backyard for the kids to play in. Most of all, I hope it's home.

We've had some great memories in this old duplex though. Do you remember when we brought Damien home? We couldn't stop staring at him. He was just laying beside us on that futon and even though we were trying to watch tv with Nate, the only thing we could see was our new baby. He was perfect. He's getting ready to turn 7 where you are, isn't he? And in grade 1! I can hardly believe it. He's just turning six now and becoming a little boy. What happened to my toddler? Heck, what happened to my baby!?

Remember when the power went off in January that year we just moved in? We were pregnant and it was sooo cold for days. We just huddled under the blankets all day with Nate, keeping each other warm.

Yes...I really hope you live somewhere better.

I hope you kept going to the gym. I'm going to start going either tomorrow or the next day. Pretty much as soon as I can. I hope you managed to keep it up the entire year. Did you lose all the weight you wanted? I'm desperately hoping so. We need this. You know better than anyone how hard it is to live like this. We thought it was easier than working out, didn't we? Oh, we're so foolish. It's hard and it hurts inside. I hope we changed it. I hope you feel amazing. I hope you're strong and brave now. A year is a long time. I can only imagine the transformation! I wish I could see you.

How is Nate? He's all done school where you are, isn't he? You must be so proud. He works so hard for us. How did we get so lucky? Sometimes I feel like we don't deserve him. He's so strong, such a good person. I hope you worked harder to deserve his love this year. I hope you were able to love him better. It's been 10 years where you are, hasn't it? Since that first day we stepped off that bus, scared as hell. Remember how sweet he was, kissing us gently beside the car before taking us to the home where we'd spend the next few years? Wow, we were naive. I can't believe how far we've come though. Take good care of him this year.

Did you get to see anyone from back home this year? Mel is planning on coming in the summer so we can go camping. Did that happen? Was it amazing? Thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. Sometimes I get so homesick. I don't regret coming here, but I miss my family with such a physical pain...I hope you made the most of every moment. The time you spend with your family is precious. You don't know when you'll lose them. Promise me you'll never take those moments for granted.

Well, my hands are cold and my eyes are teary. I guess I better go. I hope this year was good to you. I hope that no matter what, you feel blessed and loved because you ARE! I know sometimes you get so down on yourself. You feel loathing and even hatred towards yourself sometimes. Stop it! You are amazing! I hope you realized that this year. I hope you learned to accept and love yourself. You're surrounded by people who love you.

I know it's 2014 where you are. I know you're looking back on 2013, hopefully with pride and accomplishment. I'm looking forward. It's a clean slate for me. Don't tell me how it's going to go. Don't spoil the freshness for me. Anything can happen. This is the year.