December 29, 2010

Gifts of Christmas

I admit I am a crafter. I like to create, I like to make messes and I like to see the reaction people have to my creations, good or bad. I love to learn new things and in the crafting world it's easy to learn things one step at a time. I also have a dark side. {no comment from my family, please...} I am a procrastinator extraordinaire. I have the best of intentions and worst follow through ever. I started making Christmas gifts in July. Really. I finished the last one Dec 23. Ugh. My other real problem is that while I am amazing at taking an idea and making it my own, I am lousy at coming up with my own unique idea. So thanks to all of the wonderful crafters out there in blogland. Your ideas helped make a great Christmas for my family!

Christmas gifts I give have criteria to meet. I don't just give any old thing. First, it has to be fit for a variety of age groups. Nieces and Nephews range from 2 months to 12 years old. Some of the parents are bigger kids than the kids. It has to be a family strengthening gift. Toys don't last, memories do. Also, some aspect has to be handmade. It's better if I can come up with a plan and make it for each family (9 in all + grandparents), but I am happy to do different things for each family too. Lastly, it has to be affordable. Lots of people, we don't draw names and we have to afford Christmas for our own kiddos too.

This year was the year of games. I loved this idea from a blog I read. I have posted about it before and the same warning still applies. Every family got Yahtzee games with a hand made drawstring bag with their name on it.  The idea was to be able to add personalized games to them throughout the year. I have cousin memory coming up by Easter I hope. I also saw a version of Family Go Fish I liked a lot too. We shall see what actually gets done.

I borrowed an embroidery machine from a friend of mine. (It's actually for sale. Contact me and I will fill you in on the details.) I forgot to take a picture of this,although hopefully Dad and Annie will send me one to add.(Thanks Annie.) It was a bird tablecloth with matching gold napkins. Each corner of the tablecloth had a bird from a different season on it.

 It was really pretty when I was done and quite a learning experience. It fit the criteria in that it's only them living there, she loves to cook and entertain so it brings them closer together.

I also did a couple of quilts. For my FIL and his sweet wife I did this fun quilt.

I got the idea from Crazy Mom Quilts. Good for cuddling on the couch after a long day of horses and chores on the ranch. I decided that one quilt per year for was going to be my limit, but then this one fell into my lap. The same friend who had the machine I borrowed also had a rough outline of this cute quilt done.
 It didn't take long to finish it up, since it was all cut out and had all the pieces together. A lap quilt was perfect for this Grandpa.

For my grandmothers I made tater bags. They both loved them. Good for re-heating rolls, heating tortillas, baking potatoes or apples, these are fun and easy. Both of them have everything they want and love something new and different, so this was the perfect gift for them. No photo of that either. Think bright lined flannel with a bright yellow lining. Cute and functional.

No Christmas cards were sent out this year, I just didn't get to it. Maybe for Valentine's Day. Lots of cooking, lots of sewing {and with a brand new sewing machine, who could resist?} and lots of errands. We helped two friends move away in December, which was sad, but we know they are on to new adventures. I participated in a Christmas Choir, we had illness visit our house and Meg started Pre-school. I did 3 family photo shoots and 2 sweet babies but didn't manage to get our own family photos done. We also celebrated two birthdays and made lots of cookies.

 I traveled to WA for the funeral of my Grandfather

and returned to the biggest storms So Cal has seen in many many years. Here's our unofficial rain gauge for the 5 days of rain. There should be another almost 2 inches but my son emptied it out. Crazy, isn't it?

Still reading? Wow. That was long and involved. There were other gifts this year too. Gifts to me personally that made a difference in my life. Gifts of mercy, when I needed it most, gifts of patience, gifts of self reliance, endurance, music, creativity, hope, family and testimony. Without those gifts, where would I be? We hope you had a wonderful Christmas season and feel ready to take on the New Year with joy and energy. 2011, here we come...

December 1, 2010

Traditional Irish Blessing

Duane Francis Colwell passed away this week. He was my Grandpa, and a Great grandpa to my kiddos. He was full of optimism, even when life was hard and his greatest joy was to bring smiles to the faces of those around him. He loved to joke and always had a zinger waiting for you when you might not have expected it. His life was not easy, and he didn't expect it would be. He lived and died on his own terms and in his own time. 2 years ago when he was told his cancer was extensive and he might only have 4-6 months left, he laughed at the doctor. "What does he know, anyway", he said. "I have things to do. I want to go to the casino, who's taking me?" One thing I remember vividly from my childhood was him walking through the orchards or just sitting outside whistling. He loved Irish Folk tunes and when I ran across the video below, it reminded me of him. We enjoyed the time we had with him and the things that he taught us. Miss you Grandpa.

My wish for youI wish you not a path devoid of clouds, nor a life on a bed of roses,
Not that you might never need regret,
nor that you should never feel pain.
No, that is not my wish for you.
My wish for you is:
That you might be brave in times of trial,
when others lay crosses upon your shoulders.
When mountains must be climbed and chasms are to be crossed,
When hope can scarce shine through.
That every gift God gave you might grow with you
and let you give your gift of joy to all who care for you.
That you may always have a friend who is worth that name,
whom you can trust and who helps you in times of sadness,
Who will defy the storms of daily life at your side.
One more wish I have for you:
That in every hour of joy and pain you may feel God close to you.
This is my wish for you and for all who care for you.
This is my hope for you now and forever.

-- anonymous Irish blessing


November 23, 2010

The Universe sends me a message

    Isn't it wonderful how a way is always provided for us? How we are prepared for things to come without always seeing the preperation or understanding it's purpose? That is one of the things I am most grateful for right now. Over and over in my life I can look back and see how I was prepared to handle something, how someone came into my life at just the right time, or a job or volunteer position I held gave me just the right tools to deal with the upcoming events. I am indeed glad for many things.

Here's just a tiny example, but it served the purpose of reminding me of so much more.

    Yesterday my plan was to make pie crusts, put them in the pie plates and freeze them so they were ready to go later this week. My mom gave me courage to make my own this year, instead of buying the yucky box ones. They really are so much better. Back on track... So I gather ingredients and set them on the table and pull out my favorite apron when my darling daughter says, "I need an apron to help you." Wanting to get on with it, I tried putting an adult apron on her. No go. She wanders off and I sift some flour. She comes back with a piece of pink fabric from my stash in her closet and asks "Can you turn this into an apron? It won't take a long time..." She has big blue eye, and she knows just how to bat them for maximum effect. So, I move the ingredients back to the freezer and cut out an apron for her. Just then the Big kid comes in. He wants one too. I never sew for him, he says. (Well, he's right. He's 9 and not exactly into mama sewn items these days.) He too comes back with a piece of fabric I hadn't had a plan for yet and asks me to whip it up for him.

  I spent the better part of the next hour and a half sewing aprons. Just as I was about to finish Meg's, she comes in asks where the buttons are. What buttons? I wasn't planning on buttons. She has a button thing. So she spent some time picking out buttons from the button jar. Thankfully, I had recently learned how to use my buttonhole foot. (Who knew that was so darn useful?) I was able to add buttons to her apron. Now I had 2 kids with aprons and it was nap time.

     Finally, after dinner, about 6:00 we started with the pie crusts. I had two great helpers. While letting the dough chill so I could roll it, I decided to make a loaf of garlic french bread to use in my dressing on Thursday. While it was kneading, my stand mixer bit the dust. I went through 2 or 3 before finding this one that I could both afford and would last a while. I guess I have had it about 10 years. It's not in the budget right now to get a new one, especially since I am saving for that new sewing machine I need, uh, want. So now what? Now I have two kids with aprons who really want to help me and a lot of work I need to do the old school way. After all, my Grandmother's didn't have stand mixers and they were all amazing cooks. They knew how to put on a holiday meal without all of the hoopla we have today.

My message: Simplify. And spend more time with my kids. They will remember for a long time to come helping me make this holiday meal, and maybe learn something along the way. Perhaps they will take pride in the things they have made and actually eat something this year. Thanks be for the message from above.

November 17, 2010

We have a Mathelete

We have known for a long time that our kid was brilliant. All parents think that, right? We knew it at about the age of 20 months or so when he would memorize and give us correct directions to and from a certain place. Like the commissary to home in HI where I would turn the wrong way every.single.time. We knew it when he was 2 1/2 and was adding up the beans on his plate and stacking the canned food in a certain order. Before he was 3, he had started memorizing books and in Sunbeams (a Sunday School class for 3 year olds) was able to memorize at least half of the Articles of Faith. We knew it in kindergarten when he started doing 6 square Sudoku and by first grade when his times on regular Sudoku were better than his Dad's. Several teachers told us right away that he was different and people commented all of the time on how bright he was. We knew he had a different perspective on the world and that numbers were almost magical to him.
   Today in school he competed for the first time in the Math Olympiads. In our district it's a program for 4-6th grade students to expand their problem solving skills through math. The questions are hard. Really hard. Some of them come directly off of the PSAT tests. The object isn't necessarily to get all of the problems correct, but to figure out how math could help you solve the problem at hand. It's encouraged to look at a problem differently than someone else and you get points for coming up with the right solution using different approaches. A big part of the competition comes after the test, when you get a chance to stand up and show everyone how you came to the answer you came to. It gives the kids a chance to use math vocabulary in a relate-able way, to teach others, to stand up for their own answers and be encouraged by maybe doing things a little differently. I have to say it's a pretty amazing program.
     His current teacher has told me she thinks he is gifted and that in 17 years of teaching she hasn't seen a kid who has a mind that works like that. She encouraged me to look for opportunities to further his obsession (um, talent.) I am not sure the local Rec Center has what we are looking for though. Does anyone have any ideas on how to go about finding the right thing for him? Are there community math groups and do they admit almost 10 year old boys? I am proud of my big kid, who can do hard things. I know there are harder things to come. I hope this little experience in Math club will help teach him some great problems solving skills. I hope it re-enforces his love for math and motivates him to work harder. I hope all of the work will eventually earn him great scholarships and open doors for him all through his life. Having a Mathelete is awesome.

November 15, 2010

Ah, Military Life

Some things in life are just hard. Unfortunately there is usually no way around them. Like the game says "can't go over it, can't go under it, can't go around it, guess we'll have to go through it..." One of the hardest things about being a Military Kid is that you move, sometimes a lot. When you move you have to make new friends, and the worst part, leave old friends behind. When we left WA, Bug left some great friends behind. One of them was able to come and visit this summer. They had such fun, it was like they were never apart. Bug still talks about when we get back (crossing fingers) so that he can play with his friend.

As a Mom, you want to shield your kids from heartache. Also as a Mom, you know they have to go through it to learn and grow. It's one of the hardest things about being a parent. I do know, as a grown-up having moved 9+ times, that you do make new friends and the very best part is that you get to keep the ones who move away. We now have friends in far corners of the world and I love that. In fact, we have neighbors here who we have known since Bug and his Friend were in pre-school together.  As a 9 year old boy, it's hard to see past next Tuesday.

In our new house here there are lots and lots of boys. In the park behind our house they are free to play ball, tag, football, spy kids or whatever they want. They all have a great time back there. A couple of months ago one of them moved away and everyone was sad. They all moped around for days. This week another family moved on to a new Military Adventure, leaving us another 2 boys short of a fun time. The 3 oldest boys were all in the same class at school and some of the same school activities. They loved hanging out. It's so hard to say goodbye. This morning Bug looked toward thier house and said, "School will not be the same today." No it won't, but new adventures are in store, and we wish them well. 


November 2, 2010

Our Fun Halloween

 Aren't they cute? Meg wanted to be a Rodeo Princess after I showed her a picture of my cute cousin Jaime as Princess of the Benton County Fair some number of years ago. She loved the hat but was even more excited about the boots. The child has a thing for pink boots. Can you blame her? I kind of love them too. I have had the suede pink outfit stashed for some time and the belt was Justin's when we was a little tyke. She comes from a great Rodeo family. The belt buckle was a gift from another Grandpa, which she also loved.

Bug wanted to be Monopoly Man. He's Monopoly obsessed. He mostly plays it on the Wii now because the games tend to be easier to save that way when they go on and on. In the game, the Monopoly guy gets a new jacket every time you win a game and he thought that was cool. He's also found a bug in the game so that he can make very advantageous trades. Not that he cheats, I am just impressed he figured it out.

Justin and I threw together our costumes at the last possible minute. The glue was still drying on the skirt ribbon when we got in the car. I love washable fabric glue. I didn't even have to ruin a skirt. Too bad we left the can of spinach on the counter at home. I also gained a whole new appreciation for my husband who has to wear those awful boon dockers every day to work. Those things are horribly uncomfortable.

Everyone had a good time at the Trunk or Treat with a chili cook off, carnival games, a cupcake walk and a bounce house. Quite the party and we all had a great evening.

No ideas for next year. Guess we will wait and see.

October 22, 2010

Sew busy

This week has been a long, long week. This poor kid has been sick, sick, sick.

He didn't move off of the couch except to bed from Sunday through Wednesday. He has bronchitis. Finally, today, he is feeling better. Except now he has a mysterious rash.

So, what did we do to keep busy while being house bound this week? Meg played and tried hard to antagonize her brother, which didn't work well. I sewed. In between bouts of coughing, orange juice fetching, temperature taking and everything else, I sewed. I had a couple of project I wanted to finish up.

First was this cute coat I did in a sew-a-long with Christine at From an Igloo. That was wonderful. It took me a while to finish because of the embroidery design. I knew what I wanted, it was just a matter of figuring it out. The pattern is from Dear My Kids. Her patterns are easy to ready and follow and run pretty true to size. Very fun project, finally finished. I picked up the fabric from Michael Levine's loft at the fabulous $2.00 per pound pricing. Also from Christine, I did these easy peasy no pattern knit pants that are under the skirt. I ended up cutting the skirt fabric wrong due to inattention (i.e. sick kids, phone calls and my sister having a baby) but the cut fabric turned out to be the perfect size for these cute leggings. I told Meg they could double as jammy pants. She's happy about that. And I learned a few things about sewing knits along the way.
House on Hill Road has has this Twirly Skirt Pattern up for some time. I have loved it for a while, but just now got around to making up a skirt from it. I love that people are so creative and so willing to share. I can duplicate almost anything, but coming up with it myself is just too much for me. I did make the extra ribbon embellishment to add to it, and I debated on it for a while. Too much? In the end, the wearer loved it, so I guess it was a good call. She just loves to twirl around in it.

Sew, what's next? I do have a brand new niece, Cambrie Linda. I am sure she is in need of something made with love from her Auntie. Then again, there's that mailing thing. I need an assistant, just for post office runs. We will see what happens over the next few days. Hopefully the Good Health Fairy will visit us tonight and everyone will be well and happy tomorrow. I surely hope so. Justin has a final to take.

October 21, 2010

More Arizona

Someone thought we may have left the Big kid at home on our latest Arizona adventure. No pictures of him, he said. Well, there was one picture of him in the collage. Top right, just so you know. The problem is that the kid is getting bigger. He doesn't hold still, and he's good at avoiding the camera lens. I hate to post horrible pictures and as a result, he's not represented as much as the short, cute, camera loving child we have. For the record, when he was her age, he begged for pictures to be taken of him. And I have a ton of cute 3 year old pictures of him. Now he's almost 10 and he's too cool for the lens I guess. Check out the shot of him and his dad. I wonder where he gets the lens scowl from?

Here is all of the photos I got of the big kid in AZ. He was there with us, really. Also, I don't have a favorite child, but I do have a favored shooting subject. And it changes from week to week.


October 19, 2010

Weekend Get Away

A couple of weekends ago we took a little trip to Arizona to visit the kids Grandpa. We love visiting there. The kids think it's a great adventure to stay in his travel trailer (where he lives) and they love to go play in the desert. Meg asked him to get out the "penny finder" or metal detctor. We searched for gold or other treasures, but found only tin cans and other odd and old metal pieces. Meg just loved the digging part. Adam loved the ATV and flying through the desert with dad or grandpa or whoever would take him. Pretty soon he will be big enough to fly off on his own. We all came home with sunburns, smiles and good memories. Thanks for having us, Joe. See you again soon.

October 8, 2010

To Becky, the Chemo Warrior Princess

{source} Sarah Kang 

My sweet cousin Becky lost her valiant fight with breast cancer today at the University of Washington Hospital. She fought very hard against a very aggressive and difficult cancer. She kept her sense of humor and good spirits to the very end and everyone who was around her felt of her love and the joy. Her husband and young children will be very, very sad for long while, but having their mom's smiling face and laughter in their memories will help to carry them through. I know Becky is in the loving arms of her older brother Jonathan, who died 17 year ago, also from cancer. They all have a deep faith and testimony of Jesus Christ and have been stalwart examples of showing love in difficult times. She was a Warrior, a Fighter, and one of the greatest examples of humor, facing adversity, and faith I have known. I am thrilled she was part of the rich tapestry of my family. All my love Becky. Until we meet again.

October 7, 2010

This is My Life

Yeserday was a busy day. I had reports for church due that evening and was struggling to get all of the needed information together so that I could finish them. Laundry was mounting again and dishes remained undone in the kitchen. We are getting ready for a little weekend trip and I had gathering things together on my list of the "to-do's".  To keep Meg occupied while I was compiling data, I gave her a pre-school book to color in. She wasn't content to just sit and color, she wanted to write her letters. She needed my help.

Within a few minutes, she was on my lap tracing letters and sounding out words. I stopped for a minute a looked around. Dishes still on the table from breakfast. Glue sticks from the book report worked on this morning. Pens and pencils of all kinds. My VT papers stacked here and there. A sweater from this morning's walk and a magazine I had intended to read. Sitting on top of all of it was my daughter's preschool workbook. I could see how happy she was to have some attention, some love and caring and well deserved praise for learning something new. She tried to write an M but had done it upside down. I told her it looked like a W and she turned the book upside down, telling me "Look now. It's an M now, Mom."

I thought "This is my life." Dishes undone, laundry to fold, a table to clear away, reports still to do, but happy, smart, trusting children to make it all worthwhile. Maybe I don't live a glamorous lifestyle, or even an upper-middle class lifestyle, but I live the life I want to live and the one that will teach me the most and test my limits, just the way it's supposed to be. I am thankful for that.

I love this quote from a recent conference I saw. It says it all about my life right now:

"I know that each of us has a vital and essential role as a daughter of God. He has bestowed upon His daughters divine attributes for the purpose of forwarding His work. God has entrusted women with the sacred work of bearing and rearing children. No other work is more important. It is a holy calling. The noblest office for a woman is the sacred work of building eternal families, ideally in partnership with her husband."  Steadfast and Immovable, Silvia H. Allred

October 6, 2010

What I learned about my Husband today

After almost 19 years of marriage, I love my husband mow more than ever. I never would have foreseen the journey we have taken to get where we are. I also have absolutely no foreshadowing of what's to come. But, today, after all this time, I learned something about my husband.

 If you know him at all, you know he is a man of few words. What he says carries weight because he doesn't just idly chat. He's got a wicked sense of humor, but you have to know him a long time to see it. He doesn't talk on the phone. At all. He hates it. He never answers it and it was well after we were married that he would even care to figure out how to dial long distance. When calling from places like Hong Kong, Japan, or the UAE it involved a lot of numbers and a lot of patience.

My sister Robin and I used to have a running joke about my dear hubby. Our joke was about our family cell phone plan. We had 700 minutes and we would laugh that my Mom (who's on our plan) would use well over half of them, I would use about a quarter of them and Justin would use 3 minutes. In at least 5 phone calls. We laughed about it all the time, but it was true more times than it wasn't.

Getting him to call home even while on deployment was difficult. While stationed in Guam he spent many many months in Japan. They had a system set up where you could call home for free for 15 minutes per day. I got a phone call once a month, maybe. In the days before e-mail sometimes that was hard for me. I actually had one wife tell me "Your husband must not love you as much as he should. Certainly not as much as my husband loves me." To which I had to bite back saying something really, really not nice and move on. She wasn't joking. Rude, huh? He loved me, he just didn't love the phone.

This morning his work phone stayed home due to a late alarm and a rush for the door. It had been charging all night and just didn't make the transition to the uniform before he left. Just after his departure, it started ringing. And ringing. And ringing. Between 5:30 am and about 9 it must have gone off 10 times. At one point I answered it and told the person on the other line it had left at home. They guy tells me he works in the same office and offers to have Justin contact me about the phone. He did call from work. I mentioned his phone had been going off a lot to which he replied, "Yep. That's a typical morning for me."

What? He talks on the phone for work? A lot?  A really lot from the sounds of the vibrating phone on the counter. Today I learned he is fully proficient in the use of his cell phone. He's a good manager and he's a busy guy at work. He works hard and does things that he doesn't enjoy so that others around him can have a better working environment and be more efficient. So go ahead, give him a call. He might even answer. Just don't expect a long conversation.

October 1, 2010

What could be better?

What could be better on a stormy, cloudy and grumpy day than hot, fresh chocolate chip cookies cooling on the table.

And bread rising in the kitchen?

It was a grumpy day at my house yesterday, everyone was out of sorts. Maybe it was the lightening, maybe the thunder, but probably not the rain. We like rain. In any case, fresh baked goodies made everyone feel better though. Ahhhh, the power of comfort food. Can you smell it yet? Oh, you have to add in the smell of chili in the slow cooker too. Perfect.

September 27, 2010

Finding Joy Every Day

Sometimes you just wake up in a bad mood. This morning my darling Meg was at my bedside at 6 am, just 7 minutes after Justin left for work today. She wanted her Dora surprise. I had no idea what she was talking about and she was getting mad about it. A few minutes into the incoherent conversation she decides she's going to be happy with a yogurt instead. About an hour later she comes up to me and tells me she thinks the Dora surprise was a dream. She had a dream that was real to her and was mad I wasn't up to speed on it.

Earlier in the week my neighbor dropped by. She had a stack of Parenting magazines. She said, "I don't know why I am getting these. I didn't subscribe to them. I can't use them and I thought you could." After staring blankly at her, I took the magazines, said thanks and went in to shut the windows that are on her side of the house. I am not sure she meant anything by it, but it really made me think how loud my voice could really get and how much of my life my neighbors knew about that I don't want them to. I know a little too much about them too. Windows in the back of the house now remain shut and Meg has lots of magazines to cut pictures out of. Oh, I got a new dinner recipe too. Can't wait to try it.

We had a friend stop by with her kids the other day. Meg and her little boy are close to the same age. Meg wanted to play Hide-n-Seek with him. She brought him to her favorite hiding place and told him, "You stay here and hide. I will go and count. I will be right back." And off she went. The best part was, he stayed there.

After Meg's latest reading lesson she got out the Children's Songbook. It's a collection of Primary songs for children in our church. She loves to bring it to me, randomly open it and have me sing her the song. We had a little sing a-long today. So sweet. After I was done, she remained on the couch to sing on her own. I hear this from the kitchen, "Mary wants me for a Sunbeam, sunbeam, sunbeam. Mary loves me and wants me to be a sunbeam for her." So I ask, "Who's Mary?" "You know", she says, "Row, row, row your boat, Mary down the stream. She wants me to be a Sunbeam today." Later she sang the same Sunbeam tune with the words "Daddy wants me for a prayer." Several times.

Sometimes in the day to day with the laundry never ending and the dishes stacking up and the kid messes and never ending project lists and meetings and commitments, it's really hard to remember why we are all here. To have joy and be joyful. I am so grateful today for my darling daughter who tries my patience more than anything and brings joy to my heart every day. I am going to try and pay a little more attention to the joyful, uplifting and good things around me. Won't you join me?

September 23, 2010

A Happy Birthday Part 3

After staying out late the night before with my darling hubsand at the community theater, I headed out bright and early the next morning for a day of shopping and girl talk in LA at the Fashion and Garment district. That was tons of fun.

At the Michael Levine's loft, where you dig through bins and buy your fabric not by the yard, but by the pound, I found some yummy white and bright yellow fabric I have a skirt in mind for.

Some of it was good, some was not, but mostly it was a grown-up treasure hunt.

We choose a day that was not ideal. It was a Jewish holiday and most shops were closed. Even with that, we found enough open to keep us walking from 10:30-3:30 that day. There's no place to sit and rest, so if you go, be prepared for that. We saw shops with $1.00/spool serger and embroidery threads, and notions of all types and sizes. Elastic for 15 cents/yard. Flannel, cotton, fleece, knits, rayon, blended fabric, lace of all kinds and everything in between. Some shops were organized and pretty.

Some were not. They kind of reminded me of my Grandmother's basement at one time. Seriously. Grandma knitted, crocheted, sewed, serged and did all manner of needle crafts. She could have had her own shop. All of her grand kids had the pretties to prove it.

Trims anyone? If you can't find it here, it isn't out there.

On the way home at the request of some hungry husbands who had a taste of being Mom for a day, we stopped at Randy's doughnuts. One of the better doughnut shops on the West Coast, so they told me.

We all had a great time. We didn't get home until late and we were tired. We also had all added at least 10 things to our project list. We also can't wait to go back. Thanks Mary, Michelle, and Angela for wonderful day and a great birthday weekend adventure. And thanks to my Hunky Husband, who held down the fort while I played a little.