I wake up around 6:30 when I hear a combination of sounds: the shower running, my 6-year-old in the bathroom cheerily talking to my husband through the curtain, our cat yowling outside the 8-year-old's bedroom door. I lie in bed, cocooned by comfort and familiarity, while my husband pours Cheerios and kisses me goodbye. My youngest, the early riser, is puttering around in his bedroom singing to himself. The cat continues her relentless nagging. I get up as my 8-year-old emerges, and we trade blurry morning hellos.
"Dad already gave me breatfask," Dylan says. I run my hand over the top of his head and smile: I never want him to pronounce this word correctly. Riley sits down to a mountainous pile of cereal and devours the entire thing while dreamily paging through a battered Calvin & Hobbes book. I pull my fuzzy blue robe around me, walk across the living room, and open the blinds on our front windows. Thus signals -- at least in my mind -- the official start to the day.