Sunday, September 28, 2008

Monday Musings

Thank you so much for the wonderful birthday greetings. It was a good celebration. Feisty was so cute. She kept asking me, "When's your birthday, Grandma?" I kept telling her it was going on as we spoke, but I finally realized she was talking about my party. It's just not a birthday without a party - or a cake. She asked me, with her big brown eyes looking so concerned, "Is Mommy getting your cake, or are you getting it yourself?"

It turned out that Kristen brought lunch over for us, and then decided to fix us dinner as well. Then DC took me out to On the B*rder Friday evening. They have a healthy section on the menu - but it's those chips and salsa before the meal that are diet killers! We didn't have cake - fine by me.

DC wanted to buy me something after dinner. I am truly a terrible shopper. We didn't find anything that worked for me - or for him! I am a firm believer that they make mirrors in dressing rooms especially to make one look the worst possible. I can't understand why, but it seems that it would do for anyone what it does for me - makes me run screaming from the store! Give me a catalog any day.

I received the most lovely card from
Denise at Sentiments by Denise. She does the best work! There is so much detail that doesn't show up well on this photo. She should go into business!

Today we had a lovely gourmet dinner at Wendy's with a bunch of friends from church. Wendy was even there taking orders! Kristen has so much homework (you know the professor who thinks his in the only course that counts?!) so after lunch, Grandpa took the big girls to a new park and I took the babes for the afternoon. We took a little ride and a nice walk.

I drive by this property frequently, just a few blocks north of our neighborhood, but only recently discovered the horses that live there. I knew it was a feeling of country in the midst of the growth of our town - somebody had refused to sell their last bit of property for the almighty dollar and more houses.

This guy (or gal?) came over to greet me.

It's not a large area, but it's their own.

Directly across the street to the north is this fancy housing area.

The corner to the northwest - open area ripe for more houses.

To the southwest - lots of houses and room for more!

We headed back south and parked the car by the lake. Remember the dry lake bed a few weeks ago?

I'm not sure where the water came from, but the lake is back again in all its beauty.

People were having so much fun on this late September afternoon - perfect weather - who knows how soon the snow will fly?? They were fishing --

Water-skiing and relaxing on a pontoon boat --

Jet-skiing --

Feeding the geese -- who are really fun to watch and feed, but who then wreak havoc on our sidewalks! They have begun flying overhead and honking - definitely a sign of fall.

The American Coots were bobbing around on the water --

There is a nice large family of pelicans who call this lake home, but today this lone pelican was resting on the lake - joined by a little Coot. Earlier in the day we saw one in very graceful, beautiful flight, make a perfect five-point landing - unfortunately we were in the car, so couldn't get a shot.

I'm pretty proud of this shot~~

Then I happened upon this lovely sculpture --

And this one - I love this one. I felt like I was interrupting story time and had to be quiet.

I especially love the title and memorial plaque on this one --

This is in front of the fire station by the lake -- it is entitled "Under Control"

I wish I knew the story behind the bouquet of roses someone left --

Speaking of fire stations - did any of you happen to see the movie "Fireproof" this week-end? Oh, my goodness - I don't go to movies and I rarely rent them, but this is one you don't want to miss. I only saw it advertised within the last week and had to drive 30 miles to find it, but it was worth every mile and every penny. The message of the gospel comes through loud and clear, and beautifully.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

It won't be a big celebratory day - no 0 or 5 at the end of the number this year. My sis and I won't be the same age any more. It's the first time in 15 years that I haven't been up at 4:30 on this date, making caramel rolls to bring to work. I know - it's weird to bring your own treats on your own birthday, but that's the way it was done there. And I shared a birthday with one of the other faculty members, so we brought rolls and fruit for many years - then she dropped out and I brought rolls. She often was gone somewhere on this date.

Sometimes it has snowed on my birthday. Most often it is the best week-end to view the changing aspens in the mountains. Today it is supposed to be 89 degrees F! How crazy is that??

We won't do anything tonight to celebrate. We'll do it tomorrow, just DC and me. I asked him not to buy an expensive cake and have a "surprise" party for me. He did that for my retirement just 3 months ago (well, it wasn't a surprise this time - and it usually isn't anyway). Care Bear never can understand it when grown-ups don't have a big party - she's quite the event planner! But this is what I want this year - my choice.

I got a great Hallmark e-card this morning from my best buddy from work, who left 5 years ago (not by choice, but by job elimination) and it gave me a great laugh so early in the day.

I'll ride my bike to the gym for the first time this week - the days have changed since Feisty started preschool and I have to meet Kristen there and take the babies - can't do that on a bike! But today is different and she'll drop off and pick up, bringing all 3 to me after her Bible study this morning. We don't want to change THAT routine - her social outlet and spiritual uplift.

On another topic entirely, Kristen is opening her blog to invited guests finally. She doesn't have much time to write, but she's done a bang-up post this week. I know she'll be contacting many of you, who have been her friends for a long time. I hope you can visit her, even though she'll be posting sporadically and won't show up on Bloglines, either.

Well, have a great day on my birthday! 61 years - where have they gone??!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Alphabet Soup Tuesday

This is my first foray into Alphabet Soup Tuesday, hosted by Morning Glory. Here are a few things that enhance my life, brought to you by the Letter B.

  • The sound of the Sunday School chorus, The B-I-B-L-E, being sung by the girlies in the back of the van as we travel down the street.

  • Birds in our yard this summer, enjoying the feast provided in our two feeders - the family of finches came back, and this week-end we had about Four and Twenty Blackbirds swooping in and out of the one hanging from the Austrian Pine (and keeping the squirrel away for a time!)

  • My bicycle has brought me great enjoyment this summer as it added a bit more exercise to my routine when I rode it to the gym and home in the wonderful early morning air. That has changed now, as I have to pick up the babes at Feisty's preschool when Kristen drops her off there. But I am walking from the gym to the preschool with the stroller to somewhat compensate.

  • Babies in the Bathtub - what fun to watch them kick with joy as they bathe together - getting Grandma wet seems to delight them at this young age.

  • Books - So many books, so little time! Right now I'm reading Beverly Cleary's two autobiographies, on the advice of Sammy. I finished A Girl From Yamhill today and will begin My Own Two Feet yet this evening. She is 92! I think I'll have to read all of the books she's written - again. If you read the post before last, you know how I feel about Ramona Quimby. The first book of Beverly's that I read was Fifteen, when I was about 14, which was also the first romance novel I ever read. I loved it. I didn't discover Ramona until Kristen was a kid.

  • Bronze Sculptures - well, at least the ones that please my senses. Our town is famous for our collection. I will be doing another post, Art in the Park II, soon.

  • Brothers - I have three of them, and they are each unique and great in their own ways.

  • Bouquets of Blossoms - DC used to send me a bouquet every month - when we first started dating. It was fun to see the envy of my co-workers! (This ended when the realities of life took over and flowers became SO expensive!) I love bouquets from my yard as the flowers change from week to week. It is coming to the end for this year.

  • Bedtime - I am pretty tired by the end of the day, and usually fall asleep on a gripping episode of Murder She Wrote.

  • And, of course, last but not least - Blogging. Enough said!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Monday Meme

Thank you for all your kind comments on the before/after pictures - I do hope to have some more in the months to come~ ~

And for your concern about our neighborhood drama the other day. This was what appeared in the local paper the next day under the police reports:

"2:28 p.m. A 21-year-old *** man, in the 3800 block of *** Drive, on suspicion of speeding, reckless driving, eluding police, criminal mischief, child abuse, driving under suspension, and on a warrant.

"2:36 p.m. A 19-year-old *** woman, at the intersection of *** Street and *** Drive, on two warrants."

So - I don't know anything specific, but we do know that this guy that was running was not anyone you'd want to spend much time with! I hope he gets his life straightened out.

I seem to have a lack of things to talk about today, so decided to join in the meme that is going around. I've probably discussed everything that is on this list, but here goes, just for fun:

1. What were you doing ten years ago?

Ten years ago - 1998 - Hmmm. This is harder than I thought. All I know for sure is that I was working at the university and had been there for 5 years. Kristen was 23 and had begun working there as well. DC was still at his original company before they decided to "retire" many of their most loyal employees. We were in the midst of our traumatic years, but I can't think of anything specific. So that was exciting, eh??

2. Five things on my to do list for today?

It's the end of this day, so I'll do my list for Monday.

  • Get up early, make DC's lunch, have devotions
  • Go to the gym at 7:00 instead of 8:00
  • Get the babies at 8:30, as Kristen takes Feisty to her first day of preschool
  • Keep the babies occupied until 11:30, when we pick up Feisty from school
  • Take them all home to their mommy
  • Start one of my many kitchen decluttering projects in the afternoon

3. What is your favorite snack?

Unfortunately, it's hard to pin this down to one or two things. Snacking is probably my biggest weight challenge. I like anything chocolate. I also love salted nuts. So put it all together in Trail Mix and that's a diet disaster waiting to happen.

4. If I were a millionaire, I would:

  • Tithe first of all - my church would be so thrilled!
  • Pay off my kids' school loans.
  • Set up college funds for the grands.
  • Be sure my parents' last years were free of financial worries.
  • Set up a trip fund for DC and me so that we could take a nice trip once a year.

5. Places I have lived:

  • Monticello, Minnesota
  • St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Batesville, Arkansas
  • Heber Springs, Arkansas
  • International Falls, Minnesota
  • St. Paul Minnesota (again)
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Bethany, Oklahoma
  • Parsons, Kansas
  • Colorado

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Friday Fun Stuff

The contest is over. I was happy to be one of the 8 finalists. There were 150 people who started out and had their pictures on the wall. Only 25 of us did the final weigh-in.

I didn't win. Well, I didn't win the cruise. But I lost - so I won! The guy who won the cruise lost 57 pounds - in 3 months! I asked him how he did it - as far as eating goes, he just halved his portions. And he worked out 6 days a week - 1-1 1/2 hours a day. I don't know how a person gives that much time to working out, and would love to know if he'll keep up that pace. And he's a guy - they seem to have an advantage when it comes to losing weight. Not fair! He switched off with cardio every other day and weight training the opposite. We were given kind of a lecture on how weight training is the secret to really losing weight - you're cheating yourself if you don't do weights. I HATE WEIGHTS!! So I am not sure what I'm going to do with that challenge. But - I plan to keep losing. Here is the visual proof of how much difference just 16 pounds makes.

Taken 6/4/08

Taken 9/03/08

This dress is to serve as my next motivator - DC gave it to me for my birthday several years ago and it fit for about 5 minutes. I would love to be able to wear it again someday - - preferably this year.

We had a bit more excitement on our culdesac yesterday than I like. I was sitting on the swing in the front of the house, holding a twin on each leg. I saw this young guy running stealthily across my neighbor's yard, ducking through a hedge into their next door neighbor's yard. I thought it odd, but it didn't really strike me how very odd it was. He stayed behind the hedge for several minutes, then took off like a shot across the circle - charging between two other houses, limping with one shoe on and one shoe off - probably jumping a fence into a back yard. Just then a police car came storming down our usually fairly quiet street, hollering to ask any of us if we'd seen a young man running through the neighborhood. I was glad to give the officer what I had seen, realizing that my gut feeling had been right on target. This kid had the nerve to ask a neighbor guy to give him a ride, or to let him use the phone - while he was in his back yard!

The kid shed his red and white striped shirt and ran like a shot to the end of the culdesac, turning left toward the park. Fortunately, he was apprehended and arrested. By this time there were 3 police cars on our street. Evidently there were warrants out for the occupants of the car - when the police finally got the female driver to stop, the kid in stripes jumped out and took of fas fast as he could run. All sorts of rumors began flying around our neighborhood. I wish I knew the whole story. But it was pretty scary to think of what might have happened in those minutes before he hit our street.

Yesterday was story time day at the library - I was almost there when I realized I had forgotten to put the stroller in the back of the minivan - it is usually there, and I had taken it out for some reason. There I was with the book bag full of returning books, the diaper bag, my purse (which I left in the car), and two car seats with babies who are not as light as they used to be! I struggled to get them into the library, very happy to put them down in the story room.

The good news is that we still live in a small town in some ways. The twins are quite the celebrities at the library. The story lady was happy to sit down on the floor, feeding them their bottles while Feisty and I returned the old books and checked out some new ones. She then helped me carry one of them out to the car. I will never let that happen again!

Speaking of library books - it is time to start reading Beverly Cleary books to the bigger girls - my favorite children's author of all. I just love Ramona Quimby.

Sammy and I have been talking about our mutual love of all things Ramona (I love Ralph S. Mouse, too!) I told Sammy that I have some pictures of Feisty that remind me of Ramona. What do you think??


The other day I was in the grocery store when they were playing music that I actually enjoyed - from the 60s. The song that I was singing as I shopped was "See You in September." Do you remember that one (if you're in my age bracket?) You know how sounds and scents can take you back in your mind? I instantly went to 1966, the summer between freshman and sophomore years of college. I had my first serious boyfriend that school year and was missing him that summer.

I was working two jobs, seven nights a week, that summer to try to close the gap between the money I had and the money I needed. It was a terrible summer. One of the jobs was at the Dairy Queen (which didn't help me get rid of the "Freshman Fifteen" I had gained!) The radio played all day every day, and this song came on several times a day. I just found it on Youtube and discovered that The Happenings had just recorded it that very summer. Every time I heard it, I would almost cry. Oh, my goodness, it was so romantically sad!

I was working so hard that summer, assuming that he was, too. When I found out that not only did he not make any money, but had ended up owing the company by the end of the summer (remember Southwestern Book Company - it roped in lots of college guys to spend their summers beating the streets trying to sell books for their college tuition). When we got back to school, I broke up with him. He eventually flunked out - he was not the serious student that I was, and we were not well suited for each other after all. Thank you, Lord, for protecting us from ourselves! I still wonder what ever happened to him, poor messed up guy.

Have a wonderful week-end!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Micah is With Jesus

Many months ago I posted this button:

Many of you joined in praying and following his story (you can go to my sidebar and click on it if you want to read it). What a wonderful little guy! He exuded energy and joy, even when he was at his sickest. He touched the lives of so many people.

Then he got better - he got to go home - he lived on a farm in the Nashville area and loved his life there with his family.

I didn't check for a long time. Assuming he was doing okay. It must be the Lord who prompted me to click on that button a couple of days ago. I found that he was not doing well. I was so sad. I signed up for the Care Pages updates. Two days later, this was the message from his daddy:

Micah's Homecoming

Posted 2 days ago

To our Dearest Family and Friends,

Our hearts were broken this morning as our sweet little Micah slipped from our loving arms into the arms of our loving Lord. Though our hearts are so full of grief, we know that he is free of pain and ‘pokies.” He is running the streets of gold like he was running the hills of Tennessee and the hallways of the hospitals.We are so very thankful for each of you as you have lifted us up in prayer and kindness over the past two years.

God has been so good to carry us through this most difficult time in our lives. May we remember the sweet smile that Micah had on his face even through the many tough times that he endured. May we also face life with the same veracious spirit that he portrayed each and every day. He loved each one of you and I know that he has had a huge impact on all of our lives.May God bless each and every one of you. Micah would always say as I was heading out the door, ”Daddy, wait for me.” Well now, Micah, your earthly father is saying “Micah, please wait for me” because I too want so much to hold hands together again in our heavenly kingdom.

Nathanael and Jacque Crimmins

Service Arrangements for Micah David Crimmins

Thursday, September 18
Trevecca Community Church of the Nazarene
335 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville TN 37210

• Noon public visitation• 2 pm service

Flowers and Donations

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:

• Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House.

He made a lot of wonderful memories playing there and we would like to honor their generous spirits and kind hearts.

3921 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19104

• American Cancer Society

There have been so many sad stories lately about children and young adults losing their lives - but the sadness is overshadowed by the assurance that they're with Jesus - maybe even getting to know each other. What a blessed thought as we grieve for those of us left behind.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Monday Musings

Thank you for making the effort to continue to be a part of my life. It means so much to me. I do feel your support and love.

I know many of you are still living in summer mode, but we are definitely into the beginnings of autumn. It is more than a nip in the air in the mornings. In fact, as I ride my bike to the gym, it's more like a BRRRR factor. I even caught a whiff of fireplace in the air one recent morning. Some of the leaves are already changing - -

Speaking of the gym - the good news is that I made the cut to the final 8 contestants for the cruise to Mexico - I was asked to write a short essay. I realized after I turned it in that I left out several important points that I meant to make. Oh, well. Tomorrow we'll know the winner. I heard that one guy had lost an enormous amount of weight - I don't know how it is physically possible to lose that much in only 3 months. Fortunately, weight loss was not the only factor in the decision.

I took a little trip back up to my old office the other day, with Feisty and one of her buddies along for the ride - and of course, the twins. Did I tell you about the goofy lady I worked with who told me not to bother to bring the girlies when I came to visit, but to bring a dog??!! HUH??? Did you ever hear such an insensitive thing to say to a grandma?? I think it's a good thing she never had children. A very good thing.

Anyway, the girls and I were walking around campus, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised to see far fewer belly buttons showing than the past few years. It's about time a bit of modesty returned!

Retirement - I jokingly told everyone, when they asked what I was going to do with "all that time," that I was going to do what I felt like doing and not do what I didn't. Well --- I have tried to have my mornings to myself. Riding bike to the gym, working out, and riding back home takes a good bit of time. I am trying to get things in my house in order one mess at a time. I took some pictures, but am embarrassed to show them. Maybe I will later. It is taking me alot of time to complete each individual project. In the meantime, as I work on these projects, my nice little room becomes inundated with piles as I sort and toss. I must have thrown out 500 recipes this week that I was quite sure I'd never use. I am a great saver of things I might someday try - not likely. So I'm decluttering one cupboard at a time. We're in the throes of deciding how to re-do our kitchen. I'll have to do before and after pictures when we get that far.

More about retirement - one of our dreams, once DC has retired as well, is to take a trip to visit every place we have lived - being preacher's kids, both of us, that will cover a lot of ground. We will go to Minnesota, Nebraska, maybe Iowa where he was born, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Hopefully I'll get to visit some of you!

My afternoons are spent with Feisty and the twins while Kristen studies. (I neglected to mention in my back to school post that both of my adult children are back in college - exciting times). If anyone thinks you can get anything done while you care for baby twins and a 4 year old, I beg of you to let me know how it's done! I've been attempting to get my fall things out and on display for a week now - don't even have them out of their storage place yet. Maybe this week.

Speaking of which -- have you ever known of anyone who could ruin Rice Krispie Treats? You know these simple little things that take 10 minutes to make??

Well, now you know somebody - me! We eat at church on Wednesday nights and it was my turn to bring a dessert. I had everything I needed, and wanted to bring something kid friendly. I rested just a few minutes too long while the twins napped - the minute I put the butter and marshmallows in the pan, I heard their little squeals. I turned down the heat and ran up to attend to them - when I got back, the marshmallows had begun to stick to the pan. I decided to pour the mixture into a bowl and microwave instead. The marshmallow volcano erupted in my microwave - the bowl was too small! So I got a bigger bowl and attempted to pour the mess into it - but the little bowl was SO hot! By the time I poured the mallow mess onto the cereal, it had become too hard and I had one big gloppy mess - and most of the krispies weren't even coated. At that point - a pan and two bowls later, I threw it all in the sink and headed to the grocery store for something from the bakery. I'm usually pretty proficient in the kitchen!

We ran out of bird seed the other day and took awhile to get the feeder re-filled. For several days our visitors came to check, then they disappeared. It took several days after the food was replenished for the finches to return. They also brought a cute little chickadee. There is another feeder hanging from the Austrian pine. We have quite a few resident squirrels as well - this one particular little guy is very persistent --

I have been going through a lot of pictures, beginning to try to decide how to sort and save them when I begin the huge project that I'm planning for winter. So many of them bring a post possibility to mind. I thought I'd share this one with you just for the fun of it. I got braces when I was 33 years old. I was very happy to be able to get my teeth straightened, and my doctor loved adult patients, because we did what we were supposed to do! I even wore headgear - the doctor told me that every hour of headgear wear took an hour off the other end - I wanted to be done as soon as possible. I worked in a school kitchen at the time and the kindergarteners, when they came for their milk break, would say, "Look she's wearing bracelets!" So cute. I'll never forget the trip we took when I was in the middle of wearing rubber bands - finding a place to brush my teeth and replace the bands was a challenge. But it was so worth it.

Can this grandma do a bit of bragging? Care Bear was saying her prayers and she said, "Dear Jesus, please let me have some harder math homework tomorrow. All they have is 3's and 4's and 5's, and I know those already." What a kid - she's reading at 5th grade level - in first grade - the youngest kid in the class. Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Wrapping up this crazy mish mash of mental meanderings - on a more serious note.

I have been reading through the Bible chonologically this year from The Message. I just finished Ezekial and chapter 20 has stuck with me. Four times in that one chapter, God states that He is so tired of the rebellion of His chosen people. He says that he seriously considered unleashing his anger on them, but "I thought better of it and acted out of who I was, not by what I felt." I believe God is still acting out of who He is, not by what He feels, as He watches us self-destruct as a nation. Then in chapter 22 Ezekial quotes God saying "I looked for someone to stand up for me against all this . . . to take a stand for me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn't have to destroy it. I couldn't find anyone. Not one." I trust He can find us standing in the gap.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Once Again, Change is the Thing

It's Thursday evening and I'm not doing a "Friday Show and Tell - and Twin Update." I will not be posting pictures for a twin update - maybe ever again. It is a sad fact of life, but one I have to live with. I regret terribly, my impulsive deletion of all my pictures on Flickr - I didn't recall the consequence, that all of the pix would disappear from my posts! So sad.

I have not written anything for a week. Many thoughts are running through my mind. I have missed you all during this unexpected, unplanned bloggy break.

9/ll - my sister's birthday for the last 60 years, and the last seven years, a date of infamy. It was hard for my sis to have this birthday for the first few years after the tragedy. I haven't written about my sister, who has always been my best friend. V was born two weeks before my first birthday. We are always "twins" for two weeks. We loved it when we were kids. The only problem - I always knew what I was going to get for my birthday two weeks later. Same at Christmas.

We don't do big birthday gifts in our family, but V and I always do something - sometimes lunch, sometimes breakfast, usually something "autumn-y" for our houses. Today I did something fun. She still teaches (ESL in middle school - English as a Second Language). She's a good teacher. I went back to the middle school my kids attended years ago and surprised her in her classroom. I was glad to see that she has an actual classroom - there have been years when her program was so undervalued that she was stuck in the janitor's closet as her students came to her for their classes. She has one more year of teaching and then we'll be able to get together for lunch more often.

Today I gave her two pictures that I had scanned and framed for her - one frame from H*bby L*bby was specifically for a Sisters picture.

Here we are about 4 and 3 - taken while Dad was in college in St. Paul, Minnesota - Mom would have been all of 22, and was dealing with mono and 3 kids. That's me the blonde, and her with the glasses - she got them at age 2. Note the beautiful wall behind us? We lived in the basement of the boys' dorm - we played church, as always, with me "playing the piano" by sitting backwards on the steps, my little legs swinging as I sat pretending to accompany the singing. Our life was all about church. Hmmm. Some things never change - I'm still accompanying singing at church, mostly on the organ.

We LOVED our circle skirts! This was taken in Heber Springs, Arkansas.

If you hear of anyone who can't find me and would like to be invited to read my private blog, please have them e-mail me so I can add them. It is so sad that this is necessary, but you do what you have to do. I have done a lot of thinking about this blogging thing this week. Why is it so important? Is it important? I came to the conclusion that many of us have lately - it can become consuming and can take up too much time. But it has become such a big part of our lives and we've formed such close friendships that it is hard to fathom saying good-bye forever. So, for me, it IS important - it is a lifeline I have found and has been some of the most fun I've had. Some in my life just don't get it - but for me it's not only prayer support and good laughs and new information and just plain fun to have new friends, but it's been a way to bring writing back into my life, something I had neglected for too long. God has used this for such good - look no further than the healthy twins to validate that fact.

I have been looking at the reality - I will miss making new friends who happen across my site and find something they like. It is sad that someone else's actions have forced me to go underground, so to speak. But, as decided, a private blog is better than none at all - and I can keep in touch with those who really want to.

Thanks for your friendship, your prayers, the enjoyment you have brought me as I've kept up with your lives.