Monday, January 31, 2011

Playing Favorites

Ella had her four-month check-up today, and our pediatrician came right out and told us that Ella is one of her favorite little patients.  Perhaps she says that to all of the new moms, but I'd like to think that she was being genuine. 

Ella is doing really well.  Her growth looks great, and the pediatrician was impressed with all of her developmental milestones.  Ella was super happy throughout the entire appointment and flashed her sweet smile...all the way up until the shots.  As can be expected, she screamed and her poor little face turned bright red.  I nursed her as soon as the bandaids were in place, and she settled down within a few moments.

Since her appointment was in the mid-afternoon, I just brought Ella back to my office with me rather than bringing her back to daycare.  After the excitement of the appointment and the agony of the shots, she took a good nap and let me finish up a few little projects.  She was happy this evening, which leads me to believe that she's feeling okay at this point.

My blessing of the day was the chance to visit with my former colleague who is pursuing her dream of being a nurse.  It was great to see her in her element while we were at the hospital (although we were interrupted a half dozen times by hospital staff who kept commenting on how cute Ella is). 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mommy Brain

I had a horrible case of "Mommy Brain" this week.  It lasted for about 24 hours...and I'm hoping that's the end of it.  Listen to what I did:

First, I booked my flights to New York and Seattle (I've decided to bring Ella with me and meet my mom in New York) under the wrong name.  I booked them through one of the online travel services, and apparently I've had the account since before I got married, because I selected my maiden-name.  I noticed it almost immediately, and called customer service.  Even though it clearly says "no name changes" online, they were able to help me.  But they had to cancel my flight, refund the credit card, and have me rebook a new flight--which wouldn't be such a big deal if I had purchased the flight on my own credit card, but I felt pretty stupid explaining it to our Office Administrator.

That evening I had to work late, and would also be working late the following night.  So my husband and I agreed that I would just pick up pizza to eat both nights.  He was home with Ella and submitted the order online, but then I drove past the exit without evening noticing.  I realized that I passed the I was passing the next exit.  Our exit is then five miles beyond that second exit.  So I had to backtrack about 10 miles to get dinner.

Then the next morning, I pulled into the daycare parking lot and realized that I had left Ella's bottles at home (about a half-hour away).  Of all the days to forget them, this was actually the best day, since my husband would be coming into town to take a test.  He didn't want to come into town right away (three hours before his test), so we compromised and I took a "breakfast break" instead of a "lunch break" and went over to feed Ella in the mid-morning.  He then dropped off her bottles right before his test (which he passed, by the way).

My goodness!  Each blunder worked out okay, but gosh did I feel stupid with each one.  I'm now praying for clarity and the ability to focus--especially since we're heading into a busy time at work (and I'm in charge of the bulk of it).

Yesterday's blessing was the chance to help someone out with buying a tank of gas.  I was running on empty myself, so stopped on my way into work to fill up.  An elderly gentleman approached me and explained that he had left his wallet at home, and that he needed $10 to get home.  I rarely have cash, but actually did for once.  I only had $8, but he said that would do.  He asked if he could reimburse me, but I just suggested that he "pay it forward".  It felt nice to know that God put him on the opposite side of the pump from me, and put the money in my pocket for a reason (and yes, I saw him indeed go inside to pay and then come back out and pump).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

More Travel Advice, Please!

I'm planning on traveling again in a couple of months, but I need to make the arrangements now.  I was selected by my supervisor to travel to New York and Seattle on two separate trips in April/May.  I'm really looking forward to this opportunity, but I'm trying to figure out what to do with Ella--take her with me, or leave her home?

Seattle is no problem--my husband went to school in the area and has always wanted to bring me to see his old stomping grounds.  Since I'll be flying and staying for work, he just needs to buy a plane ticket and all three of us will head out a day early to see the sights.  Like I did when Ella and I flew home for my sister-in-law's baby shower, we'll just carry her in the Baby Bjourn and leave the carseat at home.  (This might sound really ignorant, but I can just bring her in a carrier on public transportation...right?  My mom had a carseat in her car for our last trip home).

But I'm trying to figure out what to do about New York.  My husband has Army Reserve drill that weekend, so he can't come with me (and he's not too keen on the craziness of such a big city).  Nor can he take care of Ella.  So I essentially have two options:  1) leave her at home with someone; or 2) take her with me and have someone watch her while I work.

Option 1:  My very-dear friend has graciously agreed to care for Ella for the weekend when I'm gone, and since she has an abundance of breastmilk, she even offered to let Ella have her milk so that I wouldn't have to worry about pumping 100+ ounces for the long weekend.  (It's not ideal, but I think I'm okay with this, as I totally trust her and it would make my life so much easier).  But even if Ella is fed for the weekend, there is still the problem with my milk.  It would take me nearly all day to fly from Arizona to New York, so I would have to worry about the hassle of pumping whenever I had a chance (before the flight, during the layover, etc.).  More and more airports have "family rooms", so I could try to find a place to hide away and pump, but there's no guarantee.  How humiliating would it be to have to pump in the middle of a public restroom?  I could bring a hand-pump, but I don't know how effective it would be.  Then there is the issue of either dumping the milk (which breaks my heart) or storing it and bringing it back with me (which wouldn't be the easiest thing to get a fridge in our hotel room and transport it through security and back across the country). 

Option 2:  Fly to New York with Ella and have my mom meet us there.  My mom had planned on coming to visit us in Arizona for her birthday in late February, but that's also shortly after my sister-in-law is due, so I don't think she'll want to leave her brand new grandbaby.  She figures that if she has to fly to Arizona, it wouldn't make that much of a difference to fly to New York instead.  The clear benefit would be that I wouldn't have to worry about pumping during our travels--just during the portion of the day when I'm working.  And I wouldn't have to worry about missing my baby and I would get to see my mom (and my mom would get to see Ella).  However, my husband thinks it's silly to traipse Ella all over the country and expose her to an airplane full of germs.  She did great on the trip home and back, but she's going to be just over six months at the time of the New York trip, so who knows how she'll act. 

So what are your thoughts?  Should I bring her with me and meet my mom there, or leave her at home with my very dear friend?  I realize that there are plenty of business-women-mommies out there who travel all the do they do it?

Today's blessing was the chance to go to church and see all of our friends again. I was absolutely too sick to go last week, and was home for the shower the week before (and was too sick to go to my home church either).  As part of our bible study for married couples, we talked about when we first knew that our spouse was "the one".  It really was a blessing to hear such special moments in our friends' lives, and to be reminded of what my husband saw in me that made him think that he wanted to marry me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Less Is More

I've been mostly happy with our daycare (granted, Ella was there for the first week, and then home or at work with me for the second week when we were both sick).  But I'm running into a little bit of a problem when it comes to feeding Ella.

It turns out that Ella is only one of two breastfed babies, so I feel like there is a bit of a lack of knowledge--or at least a lack of appreciation--when it comes to feeding her.  Their policy is to have the parent bring in five clean and sterilized bottles everyday, and then bring them home to clean and sterilize them each night.  They provide formula if the parents want it, or we can bring in our own breastmilk.  They are fine with us bringing in milk in the storage bags and they will prepare the bottles for us--which seemed like a great time-saving strategy to make my life easier.

But that's where we're running into a problem.  Back at her two month appointment, our pediatrician said that based on Ella's birthweight and growth, that she should be taking in 2-1/2 to 3 ounces in each feeding (on roughly a 2-1/2 to 3 hour feeding schedule).   I obviously don't know exactly how much she is getting when she feeds straight from the breast, but from what I understand, what I produce in an independent pumping session should more or less match what she normally gets in a session straight from the breast, based on the elements of breastfeeding supply and demand. 

I have shared this 2-1/2 to 3 ounces every 2-1/2 to 3 hours with the daycare providers, but we're running into problems.  First, the bags I had held 5 ounces, so I was just filling them up with the assumption that they would only pour out 2-1/2 to 3 ounces at at time (and use the remaining milk in the next bottle), but this ended up being troublesome for the providers.  So I suggested that I would just add 2-1/2 to 3 ounces per bag so that they could just pour it all into one bottle and not worry about the remaining milk.

But before I had a chance to transition to the small bags, they insisted that Ella wanted more than 3 ounces, and started to fee her 5 ounces.  They were amazed that Ella finished off her bottles so quickly--and I agree that she does drink it really fast.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that she's still hungry.  They also pointed out that she cries a bit when she finishes the bottle--but I think that's simply because her bottle is empty, and not that she is still hungry.  She's easily distracted and happy enough after a moment.  So they were rushing through all of my hard-earned milk at a pace that I couldn't keep up with--even with pumping every two hours at work.

I did the math, and during the 9-1/2 hours that she is at daycare (I have an 8 hour work day, with an hour lunch break, plus a half hour for travel), they were feeding her 25 ounces (5 bottles that were 5 ounces each).  When she is home with me, I figure that she is getting closer to 12 ounces in the same amount of time (2-1/2 to 3 ounces every 2-1/2 to 3 hours).  That's more than double what I'm giving her!

So I talked with the morning care provider in the infant room this morning.  She was the one who had initially said that Ella wanted more, but when I shared my concern, she agreed that 5 ounces was probably too much, and she assured me that she aims to feed Ella at around 3 hour intervals.  I felt a little bit bad that I was telling her how to do her job, but this is my daughter that we're talking about here!  We essentially compromised that they would feed her 4 ounces in each bottle until I can talk to the pediatrician at her next appointment in two weeks.  Who knows--maybe she really is hungry?   An extra ounce isn't going to hurt her...but I still fear that I'm not going to be able to keep up.  I'm getting right around 3 ounces each time I pump, and I'm pumping as much as I can at work.  Today I squeezed in five pumping sessions, and went over to feed her at lunch.  I had initially planned on trying to get over to nurse her once per week, but I feel like I need to try to get over there as much as I can in order to save as much milk as possible.  I know that I can introduce rice cereal at four months, but I was hoping to wait to six months.  I just hope I can get enough milk to get us through the next two months!

Any thoughts?  Should I have just listened to the caregivers?  Should I have insisted on only 3 ounces?  How much breastmilk should a 4 month old drink?  When did you (or when will you) introduce rice cereal and other solids?

Today's blessing was the chance to see some of my students again.  It's been very rewarding to reconnect with them (in between all my pumping sessions).  If I can't be with my own child during the day, at least I get to work with all my great "kiddos" at work.

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Sickness And In Health

When my husband and I got married, we did the traditional vows.  As I've been battling this nasty cold, I've been reminded of the words to love each other through sickness and health (though the best way that we can love each other right now is to sleep in separate rooms to try to keep him well).  In typical fashion, we said those vows when we became a family of two on our wedding day.  But then I started thinking--what about when we became a family of three?  What vows would I share with Ella?

For starters, I vow:

  • to tell you I love you every day.
  • to clean up the spit-up on you before the spit-up on me.
  • to pray for you each night when you go to sleep.
  • to let you play in the dirt and make messes.
  • to give you chores and help you to learn to be responsible.
  • to let you make your own fashion mistakes.
  • to admit when I am wrong.
  • to push you to be your best without pushing you too far.
  • to tell you about your family.
  • to take lots of pictures to capture your childhood.
  • to tell you how beautiful you are even in the awkward years.
  • to punish you when necessary.
  • to listen to your side when we disagree.
  • to be your biggest encourager.
  • to read to you.
  • to bring you camping.
  • to play sports with you in the yard.
  • to teach you how to bake and cook.
  • to save money to help pay for college. 
  • to love your Daddy.
  • to help you discover who you want to be.
  • to lead you to Christ.
  • to live a life that will make you proud to be my daughter.
I know my list will grow as time goes on and she and I learn more and more about each other.  Some will be easy and enjoyable to accomplish; others, not so much.

What vows did you (or will you) make to your child?  I'd love to hear what others have to say.

Today's blessing is that I'm starting to feel a tiny bit better.  The gunk in my chest is definitely starting to loosen up, and though I have to endure some pain in my ribs to cough it up, clear my throat, or blow my nose, it does feel good to get it out of my system.  I pray that Ella and I both continue to heal today so that I can return to work tomorrow.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

From Bad to Worse

It was bad enough when I was coughing, sneezing, sniffling, and shaking with chills and a fever.  But now I can add a busted rib to the list as well.

I've been having this horrible unproductive cough.  At times, it becomes a "'Honey, take the baby'-knock me to my knees-'Oh my God, I can't breath!'"  I cough and cough and cough and wheeze and call out for water or a cough drop, or beg my husband to pull my lungs out so that I can scrape all the gunk out of them.  I had one of those episodes yesterday shortly before my husband got home from work.  But at the end, I had this horrible sharp pain in my right ribs.  It hurt when I coughed, but it also hurt to simply take a deep breath.  It hurts with just the slightest movement as well.

I didn't think it was possible, but we confirmed with my doctor sister-in-law (my husband's sister--not my brother's pregnant wife) that you can indeed bust a rib from coughing too hard.  I don't know if it's broken or strained or tweaked or out of alignment or what--I just know it hurts.  And I doubt--and my doctor sister-in-law confirmed--that Urgent Care probably wouldn't really be able to do anything for me, other than give me pain meds, which I have left-over from when Ella was born. 

So now on top of everything else, I'm dealing with this horrible pain in my side.  Things just seem to be going from bad to worse.  I guess that's not entirely true--I *think* (and hope and pray) that the gunk is starting to loosen up.  I'm starting to be able to cough up little bits of gunk--but I have to mentally psych myself up to get through the pain in my ribs.  I realize it's totally gross to talk about the gunk, but really--it's such a glorious feeling to get it out of the system!  It's just that the timing couldn't be worse.  I want to cough it all up and be done with it, but this busted rib is keeping me from reaching my full coughing potential.

Yesterday's blessing was my husband's care for me and Ella.  But before I tell you how wonderful he is, let me first tell you how un-wonderful he was the previous night.  Ella and I both had a tough night on Thursday night.  Neither of us were really sleeping for more than an hour at a time because we're both battling this cold (I swear that we sometimes cough in unison).  My husband has been sleeping on the couch (who can blame him?), and when I crumpled to the floor of the living room in tears, with Ella whimpering in the bedroom, he told me that I was being pathetic.  Sounds insensitive, right?  But I was pretty pathetic--and rightly so...I was sick!  Anyway, he was much better last night.  We figured that the best thing for me to do would be to feed her at bedtime, and then take Nyquil so that I could get some sleep.  He would then put her to bed in her crib and feed her bottles if she woke up.  It would be heavenly if I could have slept all the way through the night like the commercials portray, but I ended up waking up when she did (or maybe she woke up because I woke up coughing).  Even though the Nyquil should be okay, I didn't want to run the risk of what it might do to her little system, so we stuck to the bottles, and I did a "pump and dump" for the first time.  It hurt to pour so much milk down the drain--especially since she seems to be eating more at daycare than what I am pumping at work (it had been my intent--long before I got sick--to spend the weekend pumping and storing...but that's not really going to happen now).  Anyway, my husband it taking good care of us.  He still thinks I'm a bit pathetic, but he's doing all that he can to help us get well again.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Still Sick

I can't shake this cold, and on top of feeling like crap--physically--I'm feeling like crap--emotionally--because it's the first week of classes and I'm at home.  I feel like I'm letting my colleagues down, but I'm home today because I probably pushed myself too hard earlier this week. 

After taking Monday off--which I know was the right thing to do--I brought Ella into work with me on Tuesday because I thought that I was up for it.  Yesterday, my husband stayed home with her because she still has a bit of a cough and a stuffy nose.  So I went to work, but coughed the whole time.  It's that nasty, dry, unproductive cough.  I had a cough drop in, and was still coughing.  By the mid-afternoon yesterday, I could feel the pressure building in my head as well.  Last night, I felt even worse.  I had chills and couldn't stop my runny nose or my cough.  i was flat-out miserable.

This morning, I gave in to the cold and went into the clinic at the drug store.  I knew that it was just a nasty cold and didn't warrant a trip to Urgent Care.  The very nice doctor (okay, he's really not a true doctor, but he knew his stuff) diagnosed me as having a common cold that turned into Acute Bronchitis.  He gave me a prescription for a cough suppressant which he assured me was safe while breastfeeding ad told me that I would need to just let the illness run its course. 

So I'm home and trying to rest between blowing my nose and coughing up gunk...but my heart is at work.  Don't get me wrong--I love having a day at home with Ella, but I feel like I'm not following through on my responsibilities.  I feel like I'm letting my colleagues down.  I fear that my supervisors are going to regret giving me that nice promotion.  I'm afraid that people will resent me having a baby who got me sick (or vice versa).  I know I'm perhaps being hard on myself, but I don't take my work responsibilities lightly--especially during such a busy time of the semester.  I just want to be a good colleague...while also being a good mom and wife and daughter and friend...and the list goes on and on.

Today's blessing is that Ella seems to be doing a little bit better.  She's still kind of snotty, but she's happy and beautiful (well, except for maybe the dried boogers around her nose that she doesn't want me to clean off).  I pray that both of our immune systems can heal and strengthen for the rest of this cold and flu season so that we can both feel better. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

It Was Bound To Happen

Ella has her first cold.  Now that she is in daycare, it was bound to happen, sooner or later.  I just didn't realize it would be quite so soon.

I guess I can't blame it on being in daycare entirely.  I also exposed myself to all sorts of germs by going back to work, and I'm also sick.  So I don't know if she gave it to me, or if I gave it to her.  Either way, I guess it was bound to happen.  So we're both staying home today to heal, and hopefully we'll both be ready to return to our regular activities tomorrow.

Looking back, I guess it started with just a little cough from her on Thursday morning.  I figured that maybe she got a little milk down the wrong tube, or perhaps it was just the dry air.  But she had a few more little coughs on Friday, and then I started feeling that undeniable tickle in my throat.  That tickle developed into a full-blown head cold for me, and I turned into a coughing, sniffling mess.  Despite my attempts to wash away the germs and cough into the crook of my elbow, she's in close contact when she nurses.  I guess I could have tried to feed her bottles, but we were visiting my parents and I hadn't brought the pump for just the weekend.

So now I have a snotty, sleepy, sick baby who is happy enough--until I go after her boogers with the nasal aspirator.  I called to speak with the triage nurse at her pediatrician's office, just to make sure there isn't anything else I should be doing.  She assured me that I was caring for Ella properly, and told me what to look for in case the cold got any worse.  Poor thing.

Even though she is sick now, it was a huge blessing that she was okay for the flights home and back from my sister-in-law's baby shower.  I was so scared that she would be upset on the plane, but she pretty much slept entirely through both flights.  She was the perfect travel companion.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ella's First (Fabulous!) Flight

Did I mention Ella and I were flying home for my sister-in-law's baby shower? With so much going on with the return to work, I may have neglected to mention it.

Anyway, Ella did fabulous on her first flight--even with a half-hour delay on the runway. She got just a tiny bit fussy as we boarded because she was tired and hungry, so I nursed her and she fell asleep before we even took off. She prerty much slept the whole flight, though I offered my breast the two times she woke up a bit, just to keep her content. I, on the other hand, developed the worst head cold in my recent memory. I am absolutely miserable and I'm debating if I should even go to the shower. It's this afternoon, so I might give my parents "Grandma and Boppy Duty" and go back to sleep.

Assuming I feel good enough to go, today's blessing is the chance to celebrate the upcoming arrival of Ella's cousin. My brother and sister-in-law went through so much when they lost their son at 30 weeks in 2008. I'm so thankful for her support and friendship, and I really hope I can celebrate with her today...without getting her sick.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It Might Not Happen (Chuckle) Overnight

I think that whoever came up with the "it might not happen overnight" phrase must have been a new mom.  As I was chatting with my husband this morning about the possibility of Ella sleeping all the way through the night, I started saying just those words...and had to laugh at the irony.

For the last month or so, Ella's little internal clock seems to be waking her up at some point during the 3:00 am hour (or during the 2:00 am hour when we were in California).  It's just one middle-of-the-night feeding; she goes to bed somewhere in the 9:00 pm hour, and wakes up somewhere in the 5:00 am hour (when I get up to go to work, now that I'm back).  When I was on maternity leave, I didn't mind this feeding--in fact, I kind of liked it.  The rest of the house is nice and quiet, and I used the time to do my bible study/prayer journal.  But now that I'm back to work, things are a little bit tougher.  I still enjoy the quality time I have alone with Ella, but I kind of need my sleep.

I'm managing well enough, but I miss my naps with Ella.  On Monday morning, I couldn't fall back to sleep after feeding her, so I ended up getting up at 4:40 am to make sure that I had plenty of time on my first day back.  Yesterday, I found my eyes starting to close as I fed her when we got home.  And this morning, I actually slept through my alarm for the first time in my life.  I just have the alarm on my phone set to vibrate, which has always worked for me in the past, but apparently I was really tired this morning and the alarm just morphed right into my dream.  Luckily, the alarm apparently just treats my unresponsiveness as if I hit "snooze", and I woke up five minutes later when it went off again.

I know that I could have it so much worse (my very-dear friend's little boy wants two night feedings at this point), but I admit that I get just a little tiny bit jealous when I hear that other friends' babies are sleeping all the way through the night.  I know that we'll eventually get just hasn't happened yet.  And like I might not happen overnight.

Today's blessing was the chance to visit with a wonderful friend who I haven't seen in over 18 months!  This is the friend who was living in Scotland for a year, and then went on an amazing Semester-at-Sea adventure, and she is now back in the states.  She has been so supportive and encouraging to me through our journey, and has been the perfect listener when I needed to talk.  It really was a special honor to introduce her to Ella, and Ella to her.

Monday, January 3, 2011

It's Off To Work I Go

I survived my first day back at work, and Ella survived her first day at daycare.  Let's just hope that this arrangement continues to work for us.

Ella was the first baby in the infant room to arrive today, which was nice because it gave me a little bit of extra time to chat with the caretaker in the infant room.  Ella gave her a sweet smile and didn't cry when I left.  I, on the other hand, had some tears when I left her.

I was the first one into the office, which I admit that I felt a little bit guilty to have some "me time".  It's a weird sensation to miss holding my daughter in my arms...and yet feel a new "lightness" that I haven't experienced since she was born.  For the last three months, everything that I've done has revolved around her.  Don't get me wrong--I've loved it!  And I've made sure to take some time for myself.  But when I do, my plans still revolve around her needs.  But now that I'm back at work, I'm essentially forced to focus on someone other than her.  I have to remind myself that in the same way that I need to focus on my students, these care providers are there to focus on her.  I have to trust that she is in good hands, and that the women who are taking care of her really and truly are taking good care of her. 

Since things are still a little bit slow on campus, I snuck away during my lunch hour to feed and visit Ella.  I won't always have this luxury once things get busier, so I want to take advantage of this time as much as possible.  I think that I'm going to try to make it over there at least once a that reasonable? 

Although it is tough to leave Ella, I had an amazing work-related blessing.  On Saturday, I dropped by the office to drop off the pump, my computer, and some snacks so as to make today a bit easier, and was blessed to find a promotion letter on my desk.  With the promotion came a very generous raise which will nearly cover Ella's daycare expenses.  God is so good for providing for us in this way!  I still wish that I could stay home with her, but it does make it a little bit easier to go to work knowing that the work that I do is valued and appreciated.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! (Oh Crap...That Means I Have to go Back to Work...Help!)

It's a new year, and a new semester, and that means I have to face reality and go back to work.  These last three months at home with Ella have been absolutely amazing!  Every ounce of me wishes that we were in a financial situation where I could just quit my job and stay home and be a full-time Mommy.  But we're not there yet, so it's back to work I go.  And not to toot my own horn, but I'm actually pretty good at what I do, and I know that my students miss me.  Yes, Ella will miss me too, but I do feel like I am somehow contributing to society through the work that I do.

But I'm kind of freaking out about how I'm going to manage it all.  I like to be organized and plan ahead, but I also realize that there are going to be plenty of unavoidable hiccups that I can't foresee.  I also like to get a full night of sleep or perhaps a nap, but I don't think that's going to be the case anymore once I start putting in an eight-hour workday.  I'm a little concerned about balancing my job and my responsibilities at home, so I'm trying to think ahead as much as I can. 

So let me ask--what time-saving tips/secrets/advice do you have for a new Mommy who is going back to work?  What are some ways that you streamline your life when you're trying to get out the door in the morning?  How do you manage to balance your 40-hour-a-week job with being a good wife and a mother at home?  I'd appreciate any thoughts or suggestions that you might be able to offer.

Today's blessing is the chance to hang out with our friends from church.  One of the guys in our group recently joined the Air Force National Guard, so he is in Alabama for eight months of training.  But he's home for the holidays, so it will be great to catch up with him.  We're looking forward to celebrating the new year with great food, fellowship, and fun.