First off, I will never have more children. Between the two kids, I think I was up seven times last night. Second, I have this neighbor that has an admirable ability for rolling out the welcome mat and inspiring me to be a better hostess. How often do you show up on some one's doorstep unannounced to meet a smiling face, one that's genuinely happy to see you? It's one thing to arrive at a friend's house for dinner when they've prepared for you, scoured their bathrooms, set the table, stocked their fridge, and tidied their living room. It's a whole different ballgame when you have a surprise guest standing on your doorstep. How often does that homeowner invite you in, offer you coffee, urge you to sit, be comfortable, eat, laugh, stay? One that even tolerates your toddler who dribbles crumbs and breaks Barbie arms, your infant that inevitably needs to be breastfed the moment you walk in the door? Asks if your giant chocolate lab would like to come in, too??? Well, I know someone who does ALL these things. She's an anomaly, she's ready to drop everything to chat, her house is always in fair order (by this, I mean, not so perfectly clean she doesn't live in it, but tidy enough to always be presentable), AND she is the mother of FIVE kids (FOUR of which still live in her 1200 square foot home). Okay, so maybe she's a little crazy. Got me there. This year, I'm trying to set my standards for a "guest-ready" house at more attainable levels, because guests don't see it with the same critical eye. And I'm trying to open my door to friends and neighbors when they come by, at any time, because I LOVE it when they do it for me. And I'm leaving my coffee pot on all day, just in case. And I'll be working on my "I'm-so-happy-to-see-you-face" in place of my "Oh-shit-what-are-you-doing-here-please-don't-look-over-my-shoulder-face" when I open my door. I hope you, too, can be inspired by my neighbor's genuine hostessing. I'll be popping in to check on your progress!