Word of the Year

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If you are ready or not, it is 2016!  So are you ready?  Do you have a plan this year?  A theme?  Every year, my friend Mary posts on Facebook what her “Word of the Year” will be and requests others to do the same.  Kim and I like to do this too.  Some years are more successful than others.  But we do like to share with each other our words as we like to help keep each other accountable.  Last year I chose “SIMPLIFY” as my word.  In many ways, I think I failed with this word.  However, it really isn’t a pass/fail type of exercise.  I honestly believe that my word was a reminder from God.  I needed to look at each project, time commitment and such and measure it against my goals and his purpose for me.  In January of last year, I had no idea what changes would be coming in 2015 but God certainly did.  Had I not simplified a few things, it could have been so much uglier than it was.  Yes, my life became more busy in some ways as we decided to have the girls in three different schools (co-teaching two days a week at home) and start this blog, but it also allowed me some precious time with my gymnast daughter that I was missing previously.

So what is my word this year?  Drumroll please….

 

RESPONSIVE

 

Say what?  Responsive!  That’s right, I want to be responsive this year.  I want to be a doer of the Word not just a hearer of the Word.  When I feel the Holy Spirit whispering or even screaming at me, I want to be responsive to what I’m being told and shown.  This is definitely an area of my life that needs some work.  As much as I needed to simplify last year, this year, I need to listen and respond.  Have you ever heard something or read a Facebook status and respond with, “I’ll pray for you/her/them/it?”  I know I say it, but I don’t always do it.  It has become a rote answer at times.  But this year,  I’m going to make it my goal to always pray when I say I’m going to pray.  I’m going to be responsive in that area of my life.

Do you have a word for 2016?  I encourage you to take some time and pray about a word for your year.  And if you do, can you leave that word in the comments below with your name?  I will pray for you this year and I mean that.  I’m starting a new prayer journal and you and your word will go in it.  I bet I can get Kim to hold me accountable too!

I’m already praying that you are encouraged in 2016 no matter where you start the year and where you end up in 2016.  Remember that you are never alone!

I’m closing this post with a few verses from James.  Happy New Year!

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James 1:22-25 The Message (MSG)

22-24 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

25 But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

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Going Nuts Over Traditions

Kim made some great points in her last post on making family traditions.  Sometimes, traditions only last for a season or two and that is fine.  If you live in Michigan, you might be going out sledding on New Year’s Day.  If you live in Florida, you might be headed to the beach instead.  You just have to be flexible!

As I was thinking through this post, I started thinking about some of our family traditions and realized I may need to offer an apology to my husband.  Looking back, I was rather inflexible on the traditions front at the beginning of our marriage and when our kids were first born.  We discussed how we wanted to do certain things based on what we did as kids, and I’m fairly certain that we adopted everything I wanted from my childhood.  You know, the earth shattering decisions like….Santa/No Santa, wrapped/unwrapped presents under the tree, and opening stockings before or after other gifts.  Some things I bulldozed my way through and others just worked out.  For example, growing up, Steve and his brothers were allowed to open their stocking first thing even before their parents were up on Christmas Morning.  However, I always opened my stocking up last.  For some reason, this was really important for me to keep the same.

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One thing that we did agree on was that we didn’t want to travel on Christmas Day.  We definitely wanted our kids to wake up in their own beds and spend Christmas at home.  We even make everyone wear pjs all day long on Christmas since we don’t plan to leave the house.  My parents divorced when I was a young kid, and I hated being shuttled around on all the holidays.  We would open gifts, have a bit to eat then head off to another place for another gift session and meal.  I appreciate how sensitive Steve was to this area of my life and how he helped me set a new standard for our family.  So as new parents, we told all the grandparents that they were welcome to come to us, but we were not traveling.  I’ll be honest though, we have relented and traveled twice on Christmas day for vacations.  But we did it as a family.

Another tradition that I was inflexible on was what we served for Christmas breakfast.  My mom always made (still does actually) absolutely best scrambled cheesy eggs.  But as our family became a blended family and grew with spouses and nieces and nephews, she had to switch to a baked egg dish so she could prepare it ahead to feed such a large crowd.  I couldn’t wait to make this same egg dish for Steve when we were married.  And so I did make it….year after year.  Finally after being married for at least 12 years, I noticed that Steve didn’t really eat much of it.  So I asked him about it and he admitted that he didn’t like it and never did!  Guess what?  My kids didn’t like it either!  Here I was getting up early to prepare this silly baked egg dish that no one even liked.  We now eat biscuits and sausage gravy every Christmas morning.  My oldest daughter loves biscuits and gravy and requested it once and I’ve been making it every Christmas since.  And if you asked her, she would probably say that its a tradition.  She doesn’t remember the baked egg dish and that’s fine with me.  I learned that its ok to let some traditions go when they don’t work for your family.

You know one thing I love about moving?  Being introduced to new foods that are either regional, or just favorites of new friends.  Each place we have lived, we have had a least one neighbor bring us a traditional yummy  treat each Christmas.  In Louisville, our neighbors made the most delicious pound cake and would deliver it the week before Christmas with their daughters.  In Fort Wayne, my friend Tracey brought us a tin of spiced pecans.  Here in Texas, my friend Stacee brings us homemade snack mix.  Guess what I do?  I now buy Texas grown pecans from the local 4H club and I make Tracey’s spiced pecans to give out.  (crazy side story…Tracey and I became close friends when she moved to Fort Wayne and her childhood friend Jane introduced us.  Kim and I knew Jane from Louisville and consider her one of our dearest friends even though we haven’t lived in the same place for 7 years.  Tracey has since moved to Kanas City and Jane has moved back to Ohio.)

Aren't these personalized tins cute? I plan to order for next year!

Aren’t these personalized tins cute? I plan to order for next year!

So maybe now is a good time to evaluate your traditions.  Are you and your family enjoying your traditions?  Or are you holding on to traditions for the wrong reasons?

Here is the recipe for Tracey’s spiced nuts…Enjoy!

angeline3

 

 

 

Spiced Pecans

★★★★★

Cook 1 hr 30 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2-3 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves (I use allspice instead)
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

Beat egg white until frothy. Add the water and pecans. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, salt, cloves & nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to egg white & pecans. Stir to coat well. Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 1.5 hours. Stir 3 times while baking.

NOTES

I usually triple recipe

Family Traditions

Traditions…..it’s what makes the memories for each and every one of us.  Growing up my family had several traditions.  One that stands out the most to me is one at Christmas time.  Every Christmas, my Mimi would load up my aunt’s car with me and all 7 of my cousins to go Christmas caroling  (2 of my cousins lived in Santa Fe, NM so they didn’t get to regularly participate in this activity).cousins
Aren’t we all cute!  That’s me front and center.  I distinctly remember a station wagon one year with no seatbelts for all of us piled in the back!  That’s how life rolled back in the day. HA!

After we were all loaded up, we would then proceed to each of my Mimi’s friends’ houses and Christmas carol.  Some were widowed, while others just had family that lived far away and they were alone for the holidays.  My Mimi spread cheer to those she loved by simply having her grandchildren sing at their doorstep.  Her desire was to love on her friends.  Simple as that.  And everyone of the recipients enjoyed it!  Now, if you think christmas caroling sounds miserable, there were some perks. Some of these special friends made us goodies each year we went.  We LOVED going to Ms. Green’s house.  Two things I remember from her house – her homemade popcorn balls and her fake fireplace logs.  Sure some years we would complain about having to go but NONE of us wanted to upset Mimi.  Not because she would do something to us but we genuinely did not want to upset her.  And I bet each and every one of us grandkids are so thankful for all the memories Mimi created with us each year.
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These are the kind of memories you and your little family can create if you have moved away from family.  The past few moves, we have lived too far from our families to go home for the holidays.  This forced us to create our own little traditions.  And that’s a good thing!  Most traditions don’t start out planned….they just happen.  For example, one of ours is to let our kids stay in the PJs all day on Christmas.  I certainly didn’t plan that to be a tradition but my kids loved it so much the first year they asked the following year and thus a tradition was born (one of them loved it so much he wrote about it at school for a traditions project – ha!).  Starting traditions within your own family is not only healthy but really creates a sense of “home” to your new surroundings.  And I bet you anything, your kids remember them and cherish them.  My kids can spout off all kinds of memories of things we do as a family to celebrate different holidays.   And look at me – I can still recall times associated with my family and traditions.  Do I miss spending the holidays with family?  Absolutely!….but what we do have as our little family is so special to me and my kids that I wouldn’t change it one bit.  So, please do not sit in sadness if you can’t go home for the holidays…..make your own memories!  You never know…you may like them more!  And no, I don’t make my kids go christmas caroling (although one day when I have grandkids…watch out!).
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Angeline’s Favorite Things

Here are a few of my favorite things to consider while you shop this Christmas season:

Erin Condren Life Planner

I’m not the first person to tell you about Erin Condren life planners, right?  Yes, they are a bit pricey.  But have you ever known someone to have an Erin Condren planner and not love it?  So be prepared, once you give in and buy one, you will want one every year.  I’m on my third one.  They are tweaked a bit each time with new features.  Now some of you might be wondering why anyone uses a paper planner in this technical day and age.  I used iCalendar on my iMac and iPhone for a couple of years but then Apple made some changes and I felt like I couldn’t get a good view on my day/week/month.  Plus my schedule got a bit more complicated once my older girls were pursuing different activities.  This life planner allows me to see all of their appointments and practices as well as my to-do lists and lots of notes all in one place.  I carry it with me into appointments and all meetings.  At home, it is either on my kitchen counter as I sift through the girls’ papers or at my desk while I’m working.

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www.erincondren.com

And let’s be honest, I get to design it to fit MY personality each year and it is  just plain fun.  There are so many options to the cover and other accessories.  The picture above is similar to the one I have for 2016.  The phrase “bloom where you are planted” is a great summarization of what this blog is all about.   It’s just a little piece of happiness each day.  A very special friend is getting one of these planners for her birthday.  She is a busy mom and deserves to smile each time she reaches for her calendar.

Bath and Body Works Candles (again)

I wish I could make this list and not post about Bath and Body Works Candles, but that would be unfair.  So yes, you probably already know my love of candles, but they make great gifts at different price points!  Right now, my house smells like a Christmas Tree farm thanks to….

I bought these matching soap covers and candle holders for myself, but also for gifts.

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Minnetonka Moccasins

So two of my daughters have these  Minnetonka Moccasin Britt Trapper Slipper as well as myself, and the third would probably want them except that she is almost 13 and doesn’t want anything that her younger sisters and mom are wearing.  Just being honest, folks!  They are in fact called slippers.  But I see little difference between these “slippers” and moccasins that can be worn out and about, so guess what?  We wear these slippers out of the house.  They come in several fun colors including the blush pink and good old black.  This is the second pair for my gymnast daughter.  She wears these moccasins to and from gymnastic practices as they are quick to put on as well as warm and comfy.  Who wouldn’t want a cute pair of these for Christmas?  They do run small, is if you are a 1/2 size, you will want to buy the larger whole size.

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Exploding Kittens Card Game

So the last favorite thing for this post is actually a card game called Exploding Kittens.  My husband bought this game for me as a joke but we started playing it as a family and it quickly became a favorite.  He originally bought it at Target but it can be found on amazon as well.  It is easy to play and fun for almost all ages.  Steve and I actually took this game on vacation with us and played it a couple of times.  Then for some dumb reason, it got packed in our carry on for our flight home.  Of course the one time that our bag needs to be searched, the first thing the security office pulls out is a box with the word “EXPLODING” on it.  Try explaining the concept of this game to someone who speaks English as a second language who’s main purpose is to search out explosives. HAHA.  It didn’t help that I could not stop laughing.  Good news, we did get to keep our game.  This would be a great gift for the game player that in your family or the neighborhood cat lady.  Not that I know anyone in the second category.

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So there you have some of my favorite things right now.  Happy Shopping!

angeline3

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (Kim Edition)

Can you believe Christmas music is already in full swing in the stores?  The holidays seem to approach faster each year as I get older and busier.  Well, with the holiday season just around the corner and black Friday deals every day of the week (out of control!), Angeline and I thought it would be fun to list some of our favorite things.  These would make great gifts because you know we have great taste. HA!  Well, we do have great taste ya know.  Here’s my top 5:

Give me some coffee
I’m not a coffee drinker people.  I hated the stuff up until about 5 yrs ago when I gave up my daily coca-cola in the afternoon.  I’m a coffee snob.  Offer me coffee and I will probably pass.  I have found that I don’t particularly enjoy coffee, but ironically I like espresso.  You think, well that’s crazy – it’s even stronger.  Well, even though it is stouter is has a much smoother taste.  I hate the bitterness of coffee.  Here are the two things I looooove every morning.
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The coffee is from Cost Plus World Market.  They have the best coffee for a really great price.  This 24oz bag of coffee beans is just $9.99.  Pair it with my delicious natural vanilla coffee mate (just has cream and sugar) and you got yourself a sweet yummy cup of joe!  Just ask my friend Tricia who I lured into the natural coffee mate….something about it makes the coffee taste so much better than most creamers.

Caffeine for my eyes
Apparently I can’t get enough caffeine in my coffee….because my next favorite thing is caffeine in my concealer.
It-Cosmetics-Bye-Bye-Under-Eye-Corrector
This stuff is Ah-mazing!  I have dark circles under my eyes and this stuff hides them all day long.  Plus it’s all natural ingredients AND anti-aging.  What more could a girl ask for?   You can buy at select Ulta stores or online at www.ulta.com.  It runs kinda high ($29) but has lasted me 6-9 months easy.

Oh Vera….
This Vera Bradley Hipster is perfect for anyone!  It’s not too big or too small.
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It comes in various patterns but my fav is by far this black microfiber one.  These babies can be pricey online or in Vera Bradley stores – around $80!  However if you have a Vera Bradley outlet close by, you can get for around $36.  I almost didn’t buy this the day I found it but I am SO GLAD I did!

Mornings made easier
Angeline deserves the credit for my next favorite thing.  She showed this to me when I was visiting her in TX and I just knew I needed one.
griddleI
It’s the Calphalon Unison nonstick Griddle Pan.  You can buy at Bed, Bath and Beyond  for $50 (but remember you can use your 20% coupon) or anywhere else that sells Calphalon.  My mornings are so much easier cooking scrambled eggs – they don’t stick and the pan is SO easy to clean afterward.  This griddle will also cook 3 pancakes at one time.  This pan is a time saver!

Pizza, Pizza
This monster of an appliance is not for the faint of heart.  It’s huge people, but if you have the place to store it, it’s awesome.
breville
The Breville Crispy Crust Pizza Maker from Williams Sonoma perfectly cooks pizza on your countertop – freeing yourself from the agony of a hot kitchen with the blazing oven.  The crust on the pizza can’t be beat.  This appliance cooks pizzas like a brick oven – gaining temps of 650 degrees Fahrenheit!  My hubby bought it for me at a great price on sale last mothers day and we’ve been enjoying crispy pizza ever since.  Friday night is our pizza night and the majority of the time I make homemade pizza, so this was a great buy for us.  Not so much if you rarely make your own pizzas.

Curly Gals Unite!
Ok, I know I said I was listing 5 but once I got to the end I realized I HAD to share this one.  I have curly curly hair.  I straighten about half the time but when I wear it curly I had a hard time finding the right products.  I have finally found some that are great and I must share with my fellow curly gals.
curl leave in curl keeper
A friend told me about the Paul Mitchell full circle leave-in treatment.  I put this on first.  Then I follow with Curl Keeper (which I found through Birchbox – which is an AWESOME gift idea by the way). Then I let it air dry.  Neither of these products make my hair crunchy and they keep the frizz under control.  Highly recommend if you are curly – embrace the curls!

I could probably list more things but I will spare you.  Happy Shopping!  Stay tuned for Angeline’s favorite things….
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Yes to Life, No to Distractions

busynessOnce you move there’s tons of projects to keep you busy around the house.  But a move is also a GREAT time to prioritize your life and make changes to an overwhelmed schedule.  Your previous “home” may have had so much “busy-ness” that you never truly felt like you had time to breathe.  Kids were in a million activities, you volunteered for everything at school and church, your hubby had several recreational sports leagues he was involved in after work and you felt like you were in your car more than your house.  A move can change a lot about how you view life.

I blogged a little about loneliness last month.  Life is much slower after a move due to the sheer fact of not knowing anyone.  However, this can be a great time to re-evaluate what’s important to you and your family.  Need more time together?  Decide what could be eliminated from your previous life before the move.  Yes it’s a great idea to get the kids signed up for stuff so you they can find friends….but remember….it’s also a commitment.  Do you want to live life in the car again?   Volunteering on the school PTA is a good way to meet people and help out the school.  But were you at the school more days than you were at home during the week?  Did household duties get put on the back burner because you had to volunteer for the school for 2 hours?  Serving in the church is such a great investment of your time, but was it drawing you away from worshipping with your family too much or keeping you from growing in the Word through corporate worship?   All of these examples are well and good and I’m not saying you should quit doing them.  (I’m guilty of doing them all!)  But, just use this time of “aloneness” to re-evaluate why you did all those things.  Don’t just jump into the same scenario you were back at your last place of residence.best yesI always say it takes a good year to feel comfortable in your new surroundings.  I’m approaching my one year mark in MN next month.  I’m also getting to know more people and being asked to join this and that.  I’m really starting to struggle with the purpose of each activity.  I want to give my best YES to those things that I feel led to do and have the courage to say no to the things I feel may just be distractions in my life to my overall mission.  What is my mission…..I’m not real sure but I do know that I want to shine a light to the people around me.  I have to know and live out the gospel in order to do this, and if any of my activities prevents me from doing so then it is a distraction and must be put on the back burner.   Satan can use the little things in life to distract us….don’t let him win.

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Change = Stress

Most of our moves have been a direct result of Steve’s job.  But not every job change came with a move.  Just recently, Steve started a new job that didn’t require a move.  Well, it was new and old at the same time.  He actually went back to work at a company and with people that he had previous work with for several years and ahem, caused a few of our moves too.  In fact, when I posted on Facebook that Steve went back to work for that company, friends from 3 of our previous locations all asked if that meant a move back.  And I’m going to be completely honest with you…I know this company and I know my husband and his career.  I will not be surprised in the least if he is asked to move in the future.  I know it won’t be for the next year or so.  But after this role and this specific project, I bet we have the “move” conversation.

Even without the moving, a new job brings change!  Guess what causes stress?  CHANGE (even good change) causes stress!  This new job is 100% answered prayer for us.  Steve couldn’t start soon enough!  He was going to be working with amazing people that he already knew and that in return, already knew his  work style, his strengths and even his family.  But even though all of this was great, it was still a change.  As a couple and as a family we had to navigate this new job.  It did not help that his first day back was also our baby’s first day of kindergarten, first day of our middle daughter’s new school and first day of our oldest daughter at the Junior High.  Yep, it was a banner year of new schools for all of girls and hubby’s new job too.

I’ve learned to roll with the punches around here.  Was I disappointed that Steve was flying out for his first day and wouldn’t be here for first day of school?  You bet!  But you know what is just as important to me?  My husband starting his new job with my full support.  Friends, I have seen too many wives withhold their support of their husbands in an effort to make a point or “punish” their husbands for making them move or just stressed.  Your marriage is worth so much more.  Most men are not as talkative as their wives.  They are less likely to share their feelings, their fears, and their worries.  But that doesn’t mean they are not thinking about it.  When our husbands make huge decisions like changing jobs and moving their families,  I’m sure it is not without giving thought to how it affects the family.  In our case, I know that Steve is always praying about it.

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What would happen if as wives we simply support our husbands?  What if we not remind them (as if they need it) what you and your kids are giving up to make this move or job change?  Could it be that our nagging and punishing don’t actually bring about anything good?  I’m not saying that the stress isn’t real.  Listen, Steve started a new job and spent 2 weeks in Europe on rather short notice.  I was inconvenienced.  We were still getting into the new school year routine on top of activities, sport practices, PTO meeting and just general life.  But at the same time,  I love this man.  Why wouldn’t I want him to enjoy some cool stuff while working to provide for us?  It won’t take long for the newness to wear off and it’s just a job again.  I want to do whatever I can to help him enjoy it while he can.

But let’s get practical.  How do I actually deal with new job stress?  Be honest with people.  I gave a heads up to the girls’ teachers that we were in some uncharted territory with new schools and Daddy away with a new job.  Also, give yourself some grace.  Your house will likely not be looking its best  especially if you are still unpacking (but with a pumpkin candle it can smell good).  When Steve is gone, I have a hard time getting to bed at a decent hour before I have to get up before the sun to start my day.  I have learned that some nights I need to just leave the sink full of dishes so that I can get some sleep.  The dishes are usually still there in the morning.  Ha!

And what if you just moved for a job?  Both you and your spouse will be busy navigating all things new.  It likely feel as if your spouse is busy and focused on the job while you are focused on everything else.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Don’t you want this new job to work?  Be cognizant that a new job often brings about a huge amount of work in the beginning.  And remember there is a season for all things.  Check out Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 if you more convincing.  And please give your self a break!  You probably have a to-do list as long as your arm, but you need to carve out some time that you can stop and breathe.  It may be just a five minutes of flipping through a magazine while you let your little one play at the park.  Or go ahead and get a starbucks to sip while you walk down every aisle of target (I have a good friend who buys icees and popcorn for her kids to enjoy in the cart at target while she shops).

And finally, if you are feeling overwhelmed or seriously depressed with the change, do talk to someone about it.  You can still be supportive of your spouse and need to talk to them about how you are feeling.  There came a point in my husband’s two weeks away that I was overwhelmed and exhausted.  I just didn’t know what to do next.  And instead of insisting that I was fine, I gave myself a “mommy time-out” and retreated to my room.  I sent an extremely honest text to a dear friend sharing how I was feeling.  She was able to validate my feelings reminding me that it was ok for me to feel exhausted and such because I was in fact exhausted! Sometimes we just need someone to listen and validate our feelings.  Did she do anything to elevate the stress?  No.  I was still dealing with three kids on my own.  But I knew it was ok and that Steve would be back in a matter of days.  Just try and talk to a friend that will be supportive and not one that will add to your misery.  You know the type…always one upping you on how terrible life really is or telling you how horrible your spouse is for traveling and leaving you to deal with the kids alone.  I can do a whole blog post (and probably will!) on avoiding the trap of Debbie Downer.

This blog was something that Kim and I really wanted to start back in the Spring.  I had no idea at that point that Steve would have a new job and that I would have one of my kids basically home schooling two days a week.  So it hasn’t gone quite as we have planned.  But I do enjoy it and I know things will eventually settle down.  So hang in there as I adapt to the stress change going on here and I will do better about blogging!

angeline3