You Give Me Fever …

Been a crazy week here. Ella wasn’t feeling all that great Monday night and then woke up Tuesday with a 104 temp. We began to alternate the Tylenol/Motrin every four hours and were told that if the fever continued on Wednesday to do a Tele-Med visit. Wednesday morning, the fever was still there, so we did the video visit with the doc, who insisted that we bring her in.

Once we got to the office, the fever had broke, because we had given her Motrin before we left. The doc checked her out and she was diagnosed with another ear infection. We were told when she was born that she may have issues with her ears (There were issues with her newborn hearing tests.). Sam immediately asked about ear tubes. Did you know you have to get 6 ear infections in 12 months before they will even consider putting tubes in? I didn’t.

At any rate, she was sent home with an antibiotic and she’s been doing better. By Saturday, she was like her normal self. I was called off work Friday night, so I was able to get some sleep. Saturday was sunny and hot. We had heard about a splash pad near by and we decided to take Ella there. She loved it!

At first, she was a bit apprehensive, but once she saw other kids running around, she was screaming with joy and running all over the place.

We all got a little sun Saturday. I was hoping to go back there today with her while Sam slept, but she spiked her fever again. I kept her inside most of the day. I made a trip out to Meijer with her to pick up a few things and when I got back she walked right to her stroller. She signed “more” to me, and I knew we had to take a walk. Because it was so sunny, I didn’t want her out there too long, so we did a quick walk around the block.

After her nap, she wanted to go outside. I had filled her pool, and figured she might want to just play in it. She sat in it for a bit, but for the most part, she wandered around the yard, playing on her slide, and “sunbathing”

She’s been on the antibiotic for a few days now. I am hoping that she feels well enough to go to the splash pad tomorrow.

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

Pet Peeve

I have a few pet peeves. One of those is people who say “Happy Memorial Day.” To me, this is an example of someone who just doesn’t get what the day signifies. Memorial Day is not like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or a birthday. Memorial Day is a day for remembrance and honor! I saw “Happy Memorial Day” countless times on Facebook, on TV, and heard it on the radio. Please stop. For those who need a refresher – this is for you:

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the U.S. military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties.  Please remember that when you are having your back yard BBQ next year.

A Busy Weekend

As most of you know, Sam is 5 months pregnant. We decided to stay close to home for the holiday weekend. There were a lot of things to do around the house and some shopping that needed to be done. We took a trip to Sam’s Club and picked up a bunch of stuff there, and then ventured up to Birch Run so I could get a few pairs of scrub pants for work.

The weather was just beautiful. Ella got plenty of time to play in the sandbox and on the trampoline this weekend. We also got to go out and walk the neighborhood a few times. One walk had a purpose.

Our neighborhood has a “group” on Facebook. A neighbor posted a picture of his daughter in front of her Melissa and Doug Lemonade Stand with the request to “make her day” by purchasing a glass for just fifty cents!

NOT my neighbor’s daughter…

We grabbed the stroller and walked a few streets over and grabbed three glasses of lemonade. I made sure to give her an extra fifty cents as a tip! Ella loved it!! So did we. As we started to walk away, another neighbor drove up to purchase some. We were certainly glad to help make her day.

Cool Treat

I think ice cream and summer holiday weekends go together. We decided that we wanted to grab ice cream on Monday. It was about 6pm, and I knew that the local Dairy Queen was gonna have a line of cars out to the road. I remembered that about 7 miles down the road, there was a little ice cream shop. They serve regular ice cream and soft serve, and since Sam was craving Moose Trax, we drove there.

The line was not long at all and we were at the window in less than 5 minutes. This place gives you plenty of ice cream! Their scoops are huge! Sam got her Moose Trax, I got mint chocolate chip, and we got Ella a scoop of chocolate (with sprinkles). She started to eat it at one of the picnic tables, and then they started to get busier, so we drove home to finish. Ella loved her ice cream. After she got toward the end, she actually picked up the bowl and started to drink it like soup or something!

Another First

We cooked out for the first time on Monday. I grilled up some burgers and hot dogs. I also cooked up some potatoes on the grill. Sam cooked up some corn on the cob. We decided to let Ella try some. She put the holders on the ends of the corn, Sam showed her how to hold it and she was off! She pretty much ate two cobs of corn. I wish I knew how to post a video on here. I took some video and asked if she liked her corn (as she was munching away on it). She shook her head “no” and kept eating, only to put it down and say “mmmmmm!” Love this girl!!

Bonus Vacation Day

Because the holiday falls on a day that I don’t normally work, those of us who work on Tuesday were given Tuesday off. Sadly, Sam still had to work, but I took advantage of the day with Ella. We went for a walk around the neighborhood, and then spent all morning at the park. She got to swing on the swings, play by the slide, walk by the creek, talk to the dogs that were out being walked, and run around like crazy!

We always start at the swings, and when I said it was time to go, she signed “more” and pointed to the swings. I took her back over to the swings and she got to swing a little bit more. She LOVES swinging! I was able to snap a picture that I feel sums up what summer should feel like:

Loving summer!

Back to Work

I have to be back at work tonight, but I got to spend some extra daddy/daughter time with Ella as mommy slept. We usually play on the floor with her toys. Today, she wanted to go down the little slide we have in the house. She must have done that about 35 times. Then she grabbed the stuffed Curious George my dad gave her and sat him on the couch next to me. She climbed down, grabbed a book and started “reading” to George. It was so sweet.

Listen up, George! I’m a Pout Pout Fish …

It has been a while, since we had a nice family weekend together. What a blessing to spend it with my wife and daughter.

A Morning Spring Walk

I’ve been struggling with a few things lately. I decided to listen to my own advice and take a step back and look around and appreciate the little things. So this past week, I put Ella in her stroller and we took a 2 and a half mile walk around the neighborhood.

She loves going for a walk and it was very beneficial for me as well. The first thing I did was focus on the sounds of spring, which were all around us as I walked!

The Sounds

As I was putting Ella in her stroller, the sounds of the birds singing rang loudly in my ears.

As I listened to them, I could here the songs of different types of birds. One, in particular, reminded me of early mornings in Caseville. I remember walking out of grandma’s trailer and hearing this one particular bird sound. Funny how you can remember that almost 40 years later.

At one point during our walk, the church bells began to chime.

It is not odd to hear the church bells/chimes begin to play hymns during the day. I recognized the hymn as being Blessed Assurance.

The weather was nice, so naturally, some neighbors were out mowing the grass.

This allowed me to experience not only the sounds of the lawnmower, but the smell of fresh cut grass.

There were also plenty of neighbors out working in the garage. I loved walking by and hearing the sounds of a small radio playing from inside the garage.

I remember my dad always had the radio on when we were outside on the weekends. If he was washing the car, working on the yard, painting, cleaning the garage, or fixing something – the radio was always on. I remember many Sundays listening to Casey Kasem and American Top 40 while we helped outside.

The Sights

Along with the sounds of spring, there were plenty of sights, too!

Ella always gets a kick out of the squirrels running up a tree or around a yard.

There are plenty of squirrels in the neighborhood – and many that run around my yard!

The Robin is the Michigan State Bird. We always look for the “first robin of spring.” They are all over now. They were hopping all around the yards and bird feeders we see along our route.

Along the way, we also saw many neighbors out doing yard work.

I truly wish that I had the time and energy to do what some of my neighbors do! I’m lucky if I get the leaves out of the flowerbeds by late summer! It is SO much work! Yet, there are neighbors who line their walkways with tulips, fill their flower beds with every flower imaginable, and have hanging flowers that are beautiful all spring and summer long! We bought hanging plants one year and they died within two weeks. I obviously do not have a green thumb.

Kudos to my neighbors! I love looking at the product of your hard work when I walk.

There is one house I always walk by with Ella. I do it because there is always this old hound dog outside.

The dog is either laying along the fence or up on the back porch. It always looks up when we walk by, but it is old and content to just lay there soaking up the sun. We have no idea what the dog’s name is, but she gets a kick out of seeing that dog on our walk.

Sadly, the dog is really old and I’m not sure how many more walks we will be seeing him/her out there.

The last thing I really enjoy seeing when I am out walking is people sitting out on the front porch. I’m not sure why more people don’t do this, but it seems to be more and more rare.

Before Ella, we would sit out on the porch in the morning and drink coffee. That doesn’t happen too much anymore. There is something about sitting out with a hot cup of coffee, my Bible, or a newspaper that is so relaxing. I don’t need a rocking chair, any chair will do.

I guess the only beef I have with sitting on the porch lately is the recent increase in the number of bees and wasps. I’ve walked around the house and looked to see if there are nests, but I can’t seem to find any. I read somewhere that peppermint oil will repel them. Maybe I need to find a way to put that around the porch?

The walk around the neighborhood really helped me relax. Noticing the sights and sounds instead of being lost in thought was a big part of that. I’m looking forward to my next walk …

Weekend Wrap Up

Michigan weather has been just beautiful the past week or so. It looks like we’ll have one more nice day and the temps will drop. Saturday, while the baby was napping and my son was doing homework, I went out and cleaned up the leaves from the driveway. Later that afternoon, my kids and I got to get out and take a walk around the neighborhood. He enjoys pushing his sister in the stroller. It is a good time for us to just catch up.

I decided to take advantage of the weather and get the Christmas lights up. The more I thought about what I wrote in a recent blog, the more I was convinced that putting up the lights early would bring about some happiness in a year that has really sucked. My son and I strung all the lights out on the side porch. The nice temps made it easy to do and with him helping, it only took me half the time.

I got some of the decorations up out front, but I have a few bad strands that I need to check fuses on before I string them up. I am thinking of adding the strands of white LED lights that I had strung along the fence for our 4th of July party. I usually only put the lights along the rails on the porch, so it should be pretty easy.

After I dropped my son off and the baby woke up from her nap, we spent most of the day outside. We took our stroll through the neighborhood and walked a bit longer than normal. I had to laugh because when we got back home, she totally kicked her foot up like she was relaxing!

After our walk, we played in the leaves (until she tried to start eating them), played on the slide, sat on the trampoline, and then just sat in the grass. She was standing next to me in on the back lawn and I looked up and saw our shadows. For some reason, looking at them it hit me how fast she is growing up. I can’t believe she will be 9 months old tomorrow! The shadow was a reminder to enjoy every little moment like this…

Heavenly Jeopardy?

I have never read a bad thing about Alex Trebek. Every interview I watched of him, he always seemed like a wonderful man. With his passing, there has been an outpouring of wonderful tributes to him by celebrities all over the country. A friend pointed out that Trebek and the great Sean Connery passed away within a week of each other.

One of my favorite sketches on SNL was Celebrity Jeopardy. Will Ferrell played Alex Trebek and Darrell Hammond played Sean Connery. In the sketch, Connery has this unreal hatred for Trebek and always made countless jabs about Trebek’s mother. It was always a treat to see Norm MacDonald playing Burt Reynolds in these sketches.

I always waited to see how Connery would take a category and make it dirty – for example:

Real Category: Let It Snow. Connery asks for: Le Tits Now

Real Category: The Pen Is Mighter Connery asks about: The Penis Mightier

I truly hope that SNL doesn’t miss the opportunity to do some kind of tribute to Connery and Trebek this week. I can see a Heavenly round of Celebrity Jeopardy with Ferrell, Hammond, and MacDonald being very funny!

Same Old Lions

Sunday, I got to see bits and pieces of the Detroit Lions game. It was awful, as usual. I saw this on Facebook today, and had to share. I know that this is totally supposed to be more of a political jab, and I am not posting it to be political, I just thing it is pretty funny!

The Election

It was certainly great to hear that voter turnout was so good. Whether your candidate won or lost, if you voted, you did your part! Over the past couple decades, we’ve seen a lot of division. We’ve seen a lot of lost trust in the system and the government. With every election, I hope and pray that the elected officials will do something to bring us together. I may have posted this picture before, but I thought it was one of the most powerful that I had seen this year:

In 2016, after the election, I wrote something on Facebook. It came up in my Facebook Memories today. It is worth sharing:

Maybe we are family. Maybe we went to high school together. Maybe I went to college with you. Maybe we worked together. Maybe we bowled together. Maybe you and I like the same movies or music. Maybe we met at a conference.

However we met, however we know each other, you are here because you are my friend. You and I are Americans. We are citizens of the greatest country in the world. One of the great things about being an American is that we have the freedoms to believe what we want and vote for who we want. We don’t always have to agree. I say this because no matter where you stand as a Republican, Democrat, or Independent…..as a Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran nondenominationalist or Dispensationalist….. heterosexual or homosexual …..male or female…..employed or unemployed….union or nonunion…..I don’t care!!! You are my friend and I am glad you are my friend. You have the right and the freedom to believe what you want and voice your opinion. Knowing that we may not agree is ok with me. There are other things we have in common that led us to be friends. I haven’t deleted any friend or family member because of their vote, because of their faith, because of their sexual preference, or because of their job or financial status. Thank you for being my friend.

Life would be pretty boring if we were all the same! A quote from Andy Hargreaves came across my timeline today and I want to share: “If we were all on the same page, no one’s reading the whole book”!

So what if your candidate lost? So what? One of the first thing I learned as a kid was there are winners and losers in games and elections. So what do we do now? You take the words of a pastor friend of mine who reminded me that “The guy you voted for may not have won, but you should still pray for him.”

So that’s what I am going to do. Here are the Bible verses to back that up:

I Timothy 2: 1-3

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

God Bless America!

Autumn in Michigan

The weather has been nice enough over the past two weeks for us to get out and really enjoy the fall weather! It’s been pleasantly warm with temps in the high 60’s and low 70’s. I’m glad, because this has allowed me to take Ella out for walks in the stroller through the neighborhood. At one house, the red leaves on the ground were so bright, I took her out of the stroller and let her play in the leaves.

After we got home, we both sat on the front lawn and watched the cars go by. She just loves to be outside! She loves to watch the squirrels, listen to the birds and wind chimes, and play in the grass.

This week Ella turned 8 months old! She has 4 teeth and two more popping through. She’s pretty much crawling like a champ and will no doubt be walking before we know it! To celebrate, we took her and her brother to the orchards to go pumpkin picking. I hope that this will remain an autumn tradition.

At the orchards, you can purchase pumpkins that are already picked, or you can take the hayride and pick your own from the pumpkin patch. Naturally, Ella needed to go on her first hayride, so we did that! She was SO tired when we went, but I was still able to get some amazing pictures. This one is my favorite from the hayride:

I love how she is cuddling with mom! She was loving the ride and the colors were just awesome. She wasn’t really sure what we were doing when we got out to the pumpkin patch. At one point, Sam made her sit on a pumpkin … she was unimpressed!

I love the way Ella looks at her brother. She lights up when she sees him. I have no doubt that she and him will have a strong relationship. After we got our pumpkins, there were quite a few pumpkins out in front of the orchard. I had Dimitri sit down among the pumpkins and then sat Ella next to him. While there are some really great pictures of them looking right at the camera, my favorite is probably the one below. She reached over and put her hand on him and they both are kind of looking at each other. A priceless moment!

I’m hoping that the weather cooperates in the next week or two, as I’m hoping to get both boys over and take some family pictures outside. Sam bought a cute outfit for Ella and shirts for everyone that match the polka dots on Ella’s outfit. I can’t wait to go out and get these pictures done!

Fall is my favorite season and I just love looking at the beauty of God’s creation! Happy Fall!

Weekend Wrap Up

I am not working my normal schedule at work, so my days are a bit messed up. The weekend for me, basically consisted of half a Saturday and today. I work Friday overnight and get home Saturday morning about 8am. I slept till about 2pm and Sam woke me up so we could enjoy some family time together.

We’re not to keen on actually going out to dinner, but we ordered out and got food from one of our favorite restaurants. I’m not going to lie – it was nice to sit back and enjoy a great steak at home and be with Sam and the baby for the day (even if it was short).

Sunny Sunday Morning

Sam works tonight, so it was Ella and me today. She was up at 7:30, and after she ate, we went out for a walk in the neighborhood. There were a surprising amount of people up that early. We saw people walking their dogs, people taking out the trash, people riding their bikes, and people just enjoying the sunshine out on their porch reading the paper.

It got pretty hot today, but it was cool when we walked. I figured we should probably get the walk in before it got too hot. Ella just loves to be outside, so when we got home, we sat out on the front porch step and watched cars go by. She gets so excited when that happens. There is a church at the end of our street, so there were plenty of cars for her to watch this morning.

When we came inside to eat, we must have woke Sam up. Sam fed her (and let her play in the apple/strawberry/banana baby food that she didn’t eat). Naturally, she needed a bath afterward! She was obviously tired, and Sam was going back to bed to try to sleep, so she took Ella in the bedroom to nap with her.

I watched a pastor friend of mine from Grand Rapids on Facebook Live teaching on a passage in the book of Colossians until Ella woke up. I usually work Sunday night, too, and sleep most of the day in preparation for being up all night. Thank God for the Internet, as I can tune into pastor friends in my hometown, across the state, out of state, and even out of the country if I want.

“I know what we’re gonna do today…”

In all the time we have had cable TV, I guess I didn’t know we had Disney Channel. That was the channel that was on when I turned the TV on today. Usually, I turn on the TV for background noise, and it is usually on PBS. Sometimes, it is on Nick Jr. because Ella loves Bubble Guppies. Anyway, it was on Disney Channel and I was happy to see that there was a marathon of Phineas and Ferb on this weekend.

I used to watch this with the boys all the time. It was so much fun. If you are not familiar with the show, the entire show happens during the 104 days of Summer Vacation. Each day brings the boys on a new adventure. They are always building something out of this world, their sister tries to get them in trouble with their mom, and their pet platypus is a secret agent who stops an evil scientist from destroying the “tri-state area.” There’s always a musical number in each episode, too. It is a blast to watch.

I’m not sure if they were running them in order, but I know the last episode they showed was the actual series finale. Ella was sleeping in my arms while the last episode (which I had never seen before) played. Call me what you will, but I was totally wrapped up in it. Kudos to Dan Provenmire and Jeff Marsh for creating such an amazing show. Sadly, the entire series is not available on DVD. If it was, I would surely buy it … for Ella to watch …. with daddy….

I never had the chance to when I was doing radio full time, but I had always hoped to get to interview Dan Provenmire (who does the voice of Dr. Doofenshmirtz). I thought it would be cool if he could do my voice mail message – hell, I still wish I could have him do it! I’d love to sit and talk with him about the show. I messaged him on Facebook once and complimented him on the music numbers and he gave me a little insight into what went into that for every episode. Those are thing things I miss about not being in radio anymore – interviewing neat people.

Almost Monday

Ella is sleeping now and the sounds of her sound machine are coming out of the baby monitor next to me. I watched a message from a pastor in Warren about the importance of the Bible and how it will be used in the last days, which was very interesting. One thing the pastor mentioned was how he tries to read through the entire Bible once a year. I really need to find a way to do that.

As I ate my dinner, I watched our cat run back and forth chasing a fly that got in the house. She finally caught it … and ate it. I’m glad I was already done eating. I’m going to take a little trip down to see my dad tomorrow. He’s recovering from knee surgery and I want to make sure he doesn’t need anything done.

One request before I close – I have something brewing that I am hoping might pan out for me. I will be looking into it further this week. If you would be so kind as to pray for me, or send positive vibes, I’d appreciate it very much.

Thanks for reading!

Well, well, well. Look who’s back…

back

This is my first blog since May 18th. I guess this is the longest I have gone between blogs and many have sent private messages wondering if I am doing okay. My good buddy, Max, sent an email asking about me and it took me a while to write him back. Knowing I work in the medical field, and knowing how often I blog, he feared the worst. Needless to say, he was relieved to hear back from me. I figured if folks were worried if I was still around, I’d take some time to write.

It is not that I haven’t had stuff to write about, because I certainly have. I guess I was just having a hard time motivating myself to do so. It has been a very emotional month. So where do I even begin?

When I last wrote, I had just celebrated my 50th birthday. It seems that every time I hit a mile stone birthday, something happens to remind me I am getting older. This birthday, I found myself trying to read and really having difficulty seeing the words. I had Lasik surgery done years ago and I have had no real issues with my vision. I was told that the only thing that they couldn’t correct was if I needed reading glasses. I need to make an appointment to have my eyes checked, but until then, I am reading with these ridiculous readers on!

Speaking of birthdays, I feel bad because two very important ones came and went since I last blogged and they certainly both deserved a full blog. My wife celebrated at the beginning of the month and my youngest son officially became a teenager just a few days ago. Birthdays in quarantine suck. I didn’t get to really do anything for either of them! It will be a week or two before I see my son, so I am planning on doing something for him when he is back here with me.

I got Amazon gift cards from my mother and father-in-law, and from my dad. I decided I’d get some vinyl to play. One for laughs and one for music.

IMG_20200621_180008011

You can’t go wrong with Frank Sinatra. They remixed his Nice and Easy album and I picked that up.

Next, I found an album I had years ago that is loaded with laughs from the great Soupy Sales.

IMG_20200618_113730685

Graduation on the Internet

My oldest son graduated this year. You may have seen something about his school, as it made national news. They rented the Drive-in theater in town and showed all of the commencement speeches, staff speeches, and called out every graduate’s name (while showing their pictures) on the three big screens. Sadly, only one car per student was allowed, so Sam and I watched the live stream from home. It was certainly not the way I thought I would see my son graduate.

I emailed the principal and voiced how disappointed I was that only one car was allowed per student. Certainly there were more divorced parents than just me! I had hoped that he would return my email, but that didn’t happen. So, I cheered and cried when they read his name from my living room. He wore his cap and gown to the ceremony, but I haven’t gotten any pictures of him in them. I am hoping that he will come by with them so I can at least get one.

Back to Work

I returned to work two weeks ago. I really wasn’t sure I was ready to return, but the doc thought I’d be okay. The lab where I work is open, but only a few of the staff is back there. The rest are still working in a labor pool at jobs that they are assigned to. When I returned to work, that was where I went. The only bad thing is, the labor pool is going away and that means I will have to take a temporary lay off.

MGN_1280x720_00319C00-REGHU-1-860x484

The thing that scares me is wondering if they will ever call me back. I know of many people in radio who were told they were being laid off temporarily, only to have the companies eliminate those positions and terminate them. This is happening all over as many companies are doing whatever is necessary to keep their business alive. In the weekly trade magazine that comes our for just country radio stations, there is almost three pages of people LOOKING for jobs, while there is just a half page of stations looking to hire people.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day I was up early to meet my sons for breakfast. It was the first time we’d eaten in a restaurant since things opened back up. It was nice to see both of them together. Lately, I have only been seeing Dimitri, as Dante’ is now working and usually hanging with his friends. We had a nice breakfast and I enjoyed my time with them.

When I came home, Sam had Ella all dressed for Father’s Day.

IMG_20200621_110555649

I received my Father’s Day/Birthday gift from Sam between my birthday and Father’s Day. She ordered me something that was made special for me. She had hoped it would be here by my birthday, but it took a few weeks to make. I was floored by this when it arrived. It was a book –

IMG_20200629_204405206

She got to design how I looked, and how Ella looked. She said it was hard because her hair was still looking red some days and blonde on others. There were various stories to put in the book. She had Ella point and those were the ones that ended up in the book. She asked me to read it and I could barely make it through. It made me so emotional. It was the perfect gift and I will treasure it forever!!

My Baby Girl

The one thing that has been a plus though all of this is the time that I have gotten to spend with Ella. She brings me so much happiness. On nice days, we always try to take a walk around the neighborhood. She loves it! We look at the squirrels, listen to the birds, say hello to neighbors, and just enjoy the nice weather.

IMG_20200615_115305428_BURST000_COVER_TOP

We like to play with her toys on the floor, she likes to bounce in her jumpy seat, we nap together, and occasionally, we’ll watch Bubble Guppies together (she likes the music on that show).

IMG_20200627_170148145

Sometimes, I will put on my Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra albums and we’ll sway and dance in the living room. Having this precious time with her has been a blessing. With the layoff, I will have more time with her and that will be the positive in a negative situation.

Classes

My DVD’s arrived for my Bible classes. I am currently re-watching the first year (the stuff that I had already done) and will continue with the new classes when I am finished. Just revisiting these classes has been very beneficial for me. I am glad that I decided to return.

I certainly feel like my spiritual life is moving in the right direction. I have a lot of peace right now, despite the uncertainty that lies ahead. I have faith that no matter what is ahead of me …. Every thing will be okay.

Faith-in-the-unknown

With that being said, I guess that brings you up to date. I hope to not be so long between blogs. Thanks for reading!