Phillip is sick.  And by that I mean that he has saved up about five winters' worth of head colds and minor irritations in order to experience them more fully, all at once.  Dude can be very efficient.  This would be the classic, wretched, late-winter flu and he has been on his face with it for no less than five days.  Which means that I am effectively a working single parent this week, with the added bonus of nursing duties.  In Sickness and in Health.  Whatever: This Blows.  Oh, and I really need to review and return about 100 pages of tech edits to my publisher.  Yesterday.  And the hacking cough of Certain People who are in the same room with me has kept me awake all night for about a week, so you can sprinkle sleep deprivation into the Gloom Stew we're cooking at our house, as well.

So I arrived home last night after an exceptionally long day at work,  struggled to divest myself of coat, purse, laptop, and keys.  An unusually loud racket coming from the living room should have motivated me to turn right around and leave again.  Instead I followed the din and surveyed the wreckage:

1.  Five children, only some of whom belonged to me, feasting on Cub Scout fund-raiser chocolate bars and pepperoni sticks in my living room.  The Universe has again spoken on my choice of white slipcovers.  Nice work, that.

2.  A sheepish-looking Scottish Terrier lurking near a suspicious puddle under my desk.  Evidently neither the Bed-Ridden nor the Chocolate-Besotted are functional dog walkers.  Brilliant.

3.  The 413th pile of tangled yarn this week: Unsupervised Kittens + Yarn = Carnage.

My instincts kicked in and I fled.  By which I mean that I sighed heavily and went to check the mail.

Then everything turned on a dime, because waiting for me at the mailbox was this:

And if that weren't enough, this:

Apparently, the Universe has not completely given up on me...