How To Halloween: You're Welcome

You're welcome, Internet.

Today in the Midwest we're expecting SNOW. Because of course we are. Here's a simple way to keep warm while walking your goblins begging for cheap candy.

Or if you're like my friend Kally and don't like hot liquids (her words, not mine) here is another way to keep hydrated. On any day, but especially Halloween.

Don't forget my old stand-by go to travel flask:
The Capri-Sun large size with the top that PERFECTLY FITS a flask funnel. Coincidence? No flippin way.
I named my flask 'iPod' so I could say:
"I'll be ready to go as soon as I fill my iPod"

If you're looking for cheap, easy costumes dress as your mom. KIDDING. Probably. I have a whole Pinterest board for easy DIY homemade costumes with items around your house. And/or a quick trip to the Goodwill, where I get 99% of my costumes. And clothes. And housewares. And toys....

Here is a post I wrote about that last year. Click that sentence for a link to EASY costumes, with lots of stuff you have lying around your house.

Speaking of that, here's the costume I thunked up this week.
I'm going as a Basic Witch. Instead of a Basic Bitch. Google it.

I should really get a Starbuck's cup, but that would more than double the price of my costume. 

What are you going as?

Happy Haunting!


Not Feelin the 'Ween: 10 Long Years

Lately I've been posting once a week on Mondays, statistically proven to be the worst day of the week to publish a post. That's the only day I have a few minutes to myself in the morning to write, or have, thoughts.

I have starts of thoughts, I had something about Halloween starting to brew, but like my keys and any shits to give I have no idea where they are right now. 

I did find some truly terrifying pumpkins. Like this one picturing Canadian female impersonator, Justin Beaver:
I can't seem to come correct with my Halloween swag this year. Or slang apparently. I have Sudden Onset Elderly Syndrome caused by too many shorties all day, and then I was put over the top by seeing a "Sexy Ebola Nurse" costume online. 

Yeah....I'm out.

We've also had other things going on, celebrating my FIL's birthday Saturday for one. Also yesterday I forced my teenager to watch his little sisters while my husband and I went out to dinner to 'celebrate' the 10th anniversary of our first date. At TWO P.M. because we skipped over the Peg and Al Bundy stage of marriage and went to full-on Helen and Stanley Roper. Don't worry, this isn't one of those annoyingly mushy posts about relationships. We don't swing that way.

We don't even remember the exact date but we got together toward the end of October of 2004. After ten looong years, we have just started to reach the stage where those cute little annoying personality habits? Are not so cute anymore. And there are a lot. 

Frankly I can't believe we made it this long. We're both pretty big assholes. It's okay, that used to be our thing. Maybe that's the secret? Find that person who is the same level of asshole.
It helps for us to keep reminding ourselves of each other's asshattery. There is plenty of material there. His clothing issues for one. That is a link to a whole post I wrote about that. After 10 years I still only operate at about a 60% success rate buying clothes for him. I'm all Jar Jar Binks "My give up!" I have my own issues, that's for sure.

Then there are the new issues we keep finding about each other, like my constant complaining venting. And his inability to move a car by himself. My teenager recently got a car, and with a single-lane driveway and his late comings and goings, that's a lot of car maneuvering in the morning. 

Even though every single day my husband takes his laptop out, starts his car and then comes back in the house for his lunch and roadie coffee, he has a complete mental block against moving my son's car during this time. 

The only way he can possibly  scheme the getting out of the driveway in his mind, is if *I* move my son's car. Now granted, when my booger-mobile is behind him, I'll move it and put it back in the driveway. That would take a lot of maneuvering for one person. But I've told him several times it's also okay if he leaves it in the street. Nope. I have to do that so he can just drive away.

Most of the time I move the Smoke-mobile (appropriate name I gave Tinny's car,) to the street, leave it parked there and return. I do that all by myself. He watches me do that. By my self. Yet still, every morning, no matter how many children are whining at me and asking me for food and milk and attention, he'll still say:
"Can you help me move cars?"

Really? You can't just move that car 5 feet to the street and walk the keys back up? Nope.

What if I make you your OWN set of keys so you don't have to worry about the key situation? 10 pounds of NOPE in a 5 pound bag.

We all have our things, I get it. It's no secret I'm not a great chef/cook/food prep person, for one thing.

I'm also disproportionately sick of taking the damn garbage out. I was the only one who did it for years as a single mom. We lived in an apartment complex with a communal dumpster. 2 buildings over was a registered sex offender, so I would never have slept again if I made my son take the garbage out by himself. I did it for years here, the dads of the neighborhood and I chin-nodding 'sup' to each other walking our rolling cans to the curb. Now? I'm over it. 
I work, sometimes I even clean. I watch an assload of little kids. They might be cute? But trust me, I'm around repugnant-level STINK all day. YOU handle the garbage. Strap on some Daddy Nikes and JUST DO IT.
I have to go through this whole speech every freaking week. Usually at 6:30 in the morning when he keeps pushing 'Snooze' on his alarm.

Even though I probably brought that on myself by having an opposite view of typical gender roles, I'd like to propose a more traditional switch for just this one thing. I'll still drive everywhere we go, and tease him about backseat driving all that. We need a Sheldon Cooper Relationship Agreement

There is also my constant tweeting about our relationship. I'm sure he loves knowing that the tens of people that follow me are knowing the details of our marriage. 
Oh and also Instagram
Not to mention I also have a genetic low tolerance for annoyance, (family thing, my niece is a doctor and she says it's legit) and an extra chromosome of sarcasm. Not a good combo.
I think he does like that I don't take his crap, though. No one respects a person that kisses their butt all the time. He likes a challenge. We both do, and we're both painfully honest. Sometimes that can be really painful. It's a delicate balance.
A real writer would wrap this up with something hopeful, clever, perhaps some advice. I think we both know you're not getting that here. I can only tell you what definitely does NOT work, and that's bottling up your annoyance and aggression. That causes ulcers, and other medical terms I can't think of at the moment but I'm sure it's legit.

I'm not an advice-giver, but calling each other on our mounting bullspit seems to work for our relationship. And talking things through with close friends. And a couple thousand people on social media. 

What would YOU put in your relationship agreement?

Are there things that really irritate you that may be borderline deal-breakers? Tell me about them. It'll be our secret. Ours and the internet. And the 11 people who regularly read this, but they are not judgmental. At all. 


That Cubicle Life

I started watching another boy full-time, because we have gotten ourselves used to the cushy American lifestyle of eating every day. Lately while I'm waiting to adjust to the *new* new schedule, I can't help but pontificate about all the things that are different from this job than my past jobs.

Both involved working with children, but in an office situation you get lulled into a false sense of adult security by all the computers, uncomfortable business attire and coffee breath. But then before 10am, you've been called away from the nearly impossible billing magic trick you're trying to pull of, just to watch freaking cat videos and break up a fight about marked or unmarked food in the communal refrigerator.

My former co-workers (the alleged adults) had disgusting bathroom habits from not flushing to not washing their hands to not cleaning up their pumped-out baby food, and worse biohazards you REALLY don't want to hear about, but at least in an office I wasn't in charge of wiping anyone's anything.  

My new co-workers never go way over deadline gossiping, or talk about American Idol until I want to jam sharp office supplies into my ear holes. They do sing "Let It Go' from Disney's Frozen after I caved and rented it from the $2 video store down the street. 3 times now. 
Yes, I know that eventually it will be cheaper to buy it, but also if we own it? I can't say, "Sorry, the store's closed."  Can you put a price on THAT? No, no you can't.

I miss office pranks something fierce. In my old jobs I could for example, let off some steam and simultaneously remind someone of their least favorite client by wallpapering every single inch of their cubicle with returned mailers from that client. Also inside all of their storage shelves and desk drawers, any anywhere else I could get into.  
No, this is not mine unforch. It was like this, only with client mailers.
The HOFF pics ARE better, though
. from Pinterest
I've done that one twice, both times before having a digital camera so I have no idea where the physical pictures would be. In the saddle bag of the brontosaurus I rode to work, no doubt.

Working with toddlers, pranking is generally frowned upon. They also never fall for that whole,
"Your credit card company called to verify a $7,000 charge today." 
One guy really yelled at his wife over that one before I had the chance to explain that it was just me, just kidding. Whoopsy.

Toddlers on the other hand? It's a scientific fact that toddlers are the LEAST funny individuals on planet Earth, despite maniacally laughing at their own evil destruction. You might think wearing a cute clown mask to greet them in the morning would be funny, but you would be dead-on-balls wrong. And definitely greeted with screaming tears. And possibly tiny fists of fury. Toddler humor is a very oddly specific art, where only adults being in actual, physical pain seems to make them happy. Say, bumping my head or falling on the floor, or fighting off a nervous breakdown. I'm not playing to that room. Not on purpose anyway.

Managing projects is quiet different in my new gig. I used to arrange a meeting(s) of all people involved to lay out a general timeline, making sure everyone is on board with their part. All team members were clear on their individual goals, and we would have follow-up meetings to see how things were coming along (or not.) Now my projects are handed to me, like it or not, without so much as a pretense of pretending to care about my opinion. 

I'm told what the goal is, and when the light is green, even if it couldn't be more red. Or yellow and brown in the case of Force potty-training (and I'm not talking Star Wars) a 2 year old, who can't talk or even pull down his own pants, much less control the muscles responsible for holding in his bodily fluids. The Father wants to stop paying for diapers, so now it's my problem how to make that happen with someone who can't even get their junk, much less their fluids into a potty hole once I've placed him on it. That's all I'm going to say, except:
If you feel like you get dumped on at work, walk a mile in my bathroom. 

The pay is much different, even how I'm compensated. Instead of my pay being directly deposited into my bank account, so I can cover the expenses of the job, in my case feeding other human beings that eat several times during my work day, now I have to actually ASK (beg at times) for each and every payment. Half the time I'm put off for a myriad of reasons no adult person would ever offer instead of payment in any other situation anywhere else in the adult world. 

Imagine your mortgage company calls you to ask for your house payment, and you casually walk away telling them you forgot your checkbook. Or you're running late, you'll get them later. Or listing a bunch of things you recently had to pay for that have nothing to do with them, that made you come up short. 

How do you think the electric company would respond to that one? That's right, after they hung up on you, you would be trying to dial them back up IN THE DARK because they would turn your crap right off. Assuming the phone company hadn't already turned your phone off for not paying because you didn't feel like it yet, even though the service you pay for WAS ALREADY PROVIDED. If you were at a restaurant, ate your meal and upon the waiter giving you the check, you rattled off everything you had to pay for that week-----okay, I think you get the idea. Point is, PAY people who provide services to you. It's literally the least you can do. It's what you agreed to do.

This job does come with benefits I have never had before, smiles, giggles, hugs, nine thousand crayon drawings every week and even "Thank you"s at times. I'm glad I'm able to work from home, don't get me wrong, even if it means making a LOT of sacrifices financially, and not having a lunch break, or bathroom break alone, or any break, or 5 seconds to be allowed to finish a thought or speak like an actual intelligible adult. 

This whole post probably doesn't make any sense, as I have yet to be able to read even a single sentence all the way through to try to proof-read it. Am I going to publish it anyway? Yes, I am. Interacting through this blog is 95% of my only adult interaction, so THANK YOU for reading, and especially those of you who comment and remind me THERE ARE GROWN UPS out there. Somewhere.

Enjoy your lunch breaks if you get em! I'll be over here oooh'ing and ahhh'ing over my stick figure drawings. 


GRIMm Fairy Tales: 2014 Edition

October is my favorite time for story telling. I enjoy the bounteous benefits Fall has on fables during the season of the witch. Something about the anticipation of the Day of the Dead, puts an especially sensational scary spin on spinning yarns. 

When we don’t take the happy ending element for granted, but instead sit at the edge of our tree stump and wonder just what will happen.
Will the hero prevail?
Will there be a happy ending?
Will some mysterious other-wordly force keep the princess from riding into the sunset?
When will the evil undead monster appear out of nowhere and donk up this boring love story already?!
More than princess-flavored fairy tales, the famous fables of such literary geniuses as the Brothers Grimm were always favorites of mine. So many writers have put their own spin on the classic tales. I feel they would be flattered by yet another homage. 
Plus even they can’t sue me from their graves, or can they? *cue terrifying music* 
Even if someone claims to own the rights to these ancient tales, the odds are ever in my favor that those people won’t come across this blog.

What if some of these tales took place today? They might look something like this:

Hansel & Gretel
A very different fairy tale in 2014. The woodcutter and his wife don’t actually have to set their children out into the woods, unable to feed them. Thanks to the advances in increasingly scary food additives, originating from people complaining to the government just how expensive it had become to feed their families, boxed and prepackaged food can be purchased at very low prices. They last and last forever thanks to the powers of the added space-aged polymers.
from healthywyse.org
The family stay together and daily enjoy low-priced meals of Ramen Soup, boxed macaroni and cheese, and even ‘real fruit’ juice, made affordable by adding High Fructose Corn Syrup. They never do get trapped by a witch in a candy house! Thanks to the chemicals in their food, it becomes far too painful for them to walk more than 20 feet from the safety of their house.

They live long-ish, happy lives with their parents thanks to their surgically-implanted diabetes pumps regulating their glucose, after their internal organs become unable.

If you listen carefully, when you eat a candy bar with nougat you can still hear the
echoing the sounds of their soft-shoed footsteps, waddling through the house to mount their rascal scooters in the garage. Which they ride to the end of the driveway to catch the bus to Wal-Mart.

The beautiful Rapunzel in her high tower, never let any princes up to see her on a ladder made of her own hair because she has an empowering, stylish pixie hair cut. That no one ever sees. Because: Locked in a tower.
from fanpop.com
However, her tower did have internet access which she used to educate herself about everything from engineering to Magical Curses Law, which no one told her she couldn’t learn because she was all by herself in the tower. She learns to build herself an ACTUAL ladder, and climbs down.

She finds a good doctor to prescribe her something for social anxiety. Then Rapunzel runs a background check to locate the enchantress who originally sentenced her to the tower, ILLEGALLY, because of something her mother did before she was ever born, and brings litigation against her ending her reign of magically tyranny. She lives happily ever after, all by herself, because she knows first hand you don’t need a prince to be happy. You only need the internet.

Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs
The story is similar, charming tale that it is, except in 2014 the Wicked Witch poisons Dopey instead of Snow White. Dopey was the only one who was home in the cottage, after being talked into the home care-taker role while Snow White worked in the diamond mine, earning just $.78 for every dollar the male dwarves are paid. Minus the cost of her more expensive work garb, which is priced higher for some reason because it’s for females.
This is her on Casual Friday. from dotshoplet.com
All goes well, until she hits the diamond mine glass ceiling. Then Snow White is forced to train a much younger, much more stupid recent college graduate who can do 40% of the same job she does, at just 20% of the pay. But the owners of the diamond mine “really appreciate everything she’s done for the company over the years.”

They live happily ever after. By 'they' I mean the owners of the diamond mine. As rich white men always do.

Disney's Frozen
I think this one would be almost exactly the same in 2014. Women are unfortunately often forced to "conceal don't feel, don't let it show" when they're struggling with something painful. They hide it as long as they can until they have to Let It Go, and explode causing an eternal winter, while singing a catchy, annoying pop song.


from picturequotes.com


Post Happily Ever After Script
I wish I had time to ponder more modern day fairy tales, but alas I must return to my fairytale dwarves in my own Comfily Ever After castle.

I hope you enjoyed my spin on these tales, and didn't find them 'too bitchy' as my Prince Charming did.


To Prep For Ebola: Eat Your Boogers

Ever since the first case of Ebola was said to hit the US, almost everywhere I go I’m hearing/seeing cries for help people freaking out about Ebola. The people worrying haven’t been to a hospital, or on an airplane, or been exposed to a building where anyone with ebola even walked through, much less actually put themselves in contact with the bodily fluids of anyone with the disease, but Worriers Gonna Worry.
from ar15.com
Let me just take this quick opportunity to explain how you would get the ebola virus. It’s a scary illness, that’s for sure, however for you to get the virus you would have to be exposed to a person who definitely has it, and actually be IN CONTACT with their bodily fluids
from caribdirect.com
You’re not going to get it from someone coughing on the bus, or even sneezing right in your face. This won’t give you ebola. A cold? Maybe. Disgusted? Almost definitely, it happens to me every day by cute little kids and it’s still gross.

Now if you have been exposed to someone with the disease, and you went ahead and rolled around in their vomit or blood:
  1. Please tell me the story behind that in the Comments below.
  2. Know that we very different practices in play here than they do where this disease started to grow. We have the best medicine, and we are able to test and quarantine people, unlike the areas where this is a real actual threat.

In other words: Calm the Frick Down and have faith in our medical system.

Mostly the people I see worrying are overly-worried (to put it nicely) parents and/or your paranoid types. Your germaphobes, OCD sufferers, anti-bac ralliers, etc.

Mysophobia (Verminophobia) is a pathological fear of contamination and germs.

These are the people who, in their constant vigilance against bacteria, actually CAUSE common germs to mutate into superbugs and antibiotic-resistant strains. 

A part of me feels badly for what they’re going through, but mostly the part of me passed down by my old man wants to grab them by the collar and explain at great length just how they’re making things worse.

I do feel badly for actual OCD-sufferers. If you know someone, or are someone, who washes their hands and/or cleans their house to the point where it affects your life, you really should get some help. There may be a very simple fix for you. Science tells us that people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have different brain activity. If left untreated, it could get worse. Talk to your doctor, who has heard about these and many worse conditions and will not judge you, and try some different treatment.

If you don’t actually have OCD, your worry is probably coming from a place of fear. You want to be a good parent, a good citizen, or you just don’t want to get sick. I get it.  I understand where some of it is coming from. I used to have many irrational fears from public speaking to a small bout with spider fear, to a myriad of general parenting fears. 

Do you want to know how I got over my fears? I just faced them, dead-on-balls straight on. That is a weird way of saying that, at no time did I ever have a fear of any kind of balls. Being a single mother, I was the only one around to deal with spiders in the kid's room. 

I had 2 choices: Either freak out and give my offspring the same irrational fear, or can realize they are a part of our world, get over mydambself, grab a cup and just put that little fricker outside. I moved many a spider, I lived, and now I'm not afraid of spiders anymore.

Public speaking? I volunteered to do small training classes with the 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer, and worked my up to giving talks to the entire crew. I spoke, people stared, I lived, I'm not afraid anymore. And this coming March? I'm marrying an awesome co-crew member and her fiancee.
Which is to say I'm officiating the ceremony as a minster of the church of Universal Life, not that I'm becoming poly-amorous. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

from boldomatic.com
When my first 2 kids were born, I used the anti-bac, I bleached, I washed my hands a million times. 

Eventually they got sick, they lived, and now I never buy or use anti-bac anymore. I wash my hands using good old soap and water. We get plenty of exposure to germs, both in our own dirty house, and in public places. I avoid antibiotics at all costs, and we're all healthy. 

My oldest is 19 and even though he's a smoker and his main food group is currently Flamin' Hot Cheetos, he almost never gets sick.

Some people obsessively wash, clean, disinfect, and sanitize simply because they want to keep their family safe. They want to feel in control in a world where we may not feel like we have a lot of control. That's a very human reaction to fear.

However, they should know they’re not actually helping their family by keeping them away from germs. That makes their immune systems weak, and therefore more vulnerable when they actually are exposed to germs. Since germs are a part of our world, there is a good chance eventually all children and adults will be exposed to some sort of germs. And that’s okay. Germs are everywhere, you can’t outrun them.

Without getting all science-verbiage on you, did you know there are mites that live on your eyelashes? They feed off the dead skin cells and oil that collect in your follicles. If I showed you a picture you might be horrified, feel free to look them up, because there they are. Every day. They come out to breed on your face at night, and return to your follicles to lay eggs. You can’t run from them. They are there, they are fine. They won’t hurt you. If you tried to interfere with them and say, spray Raid on your face, you would do yourself a huge injustice.

My point, other than grossing everyone knowing that mites are having sex on your face, is that there are some things in your environment that you can’t control, and you’re better to just embrace them. 

Do you think people in Mexico go around telling each other “Don’t drink the water!” No, they drink it, they’re fine. This is because their bodies are used to the water. It’s their world, that’s their water, it’s where they live. Their systems adapted. Just like ours need to adapt to our water, our world, our germs.

You would do your family a better service exposing them to everyday germs. Let them actually touch a cart in the grocery store, play at the park where children around them played, even eating their own boogers would be better for them than all the anti-bacterial goop on their little meathooks. Look it up, ask any doctor worth his/her salt, ask any medical student. I will put links to sites at the end of this.

My sister had a friend so afraid of germs, she wouldn’t let her children check out library books because she was afraid there would be boogers in the books from other kids. If there were, this would have done her childrens’ immune systems a world of good.

By being exposed to germs, their bodies would develop antibodies to fight those germs. The next time the kids get exposed? No worries, their bodies know just how to fight this. This is how vaccines work, this is how our bodies work, it’s all natural.

When you or your children get a common cold, let them fight it. The body knows what to do. Unless you or children are immuno-comprimised, or the fever goes above say 103 degress, the white blood cells and other defense mechanisms will kick in and fight. If you rush them to the doctor and give them anti-biotics every time they’re sick, you may cause the germs to become stronger, and their bodies never learn to develop antibodies.

If you know anyone worried about ebola, just tell them to eat their boogers.

Okay, that is not the only thing that will build your immune system. I mean, think about it, any germs in those boogers were already in your body. My point is, embrace the germs and bacteria in your world, they're not going away and they're good for you.

Some non-wiki links if you want actual science backup:


Here is an article from webMD about exposing your kids to germs:
The bottom line on that article:
"A mounting body of research suggests that exposing infants to germs may offer them greater protection from illnesses such as allergies and asthma later on in life."

That is straight from webMD, not wikipedia.


Star Wars Rebels Is Happening. Also Snow, Snow Is Happening.

Our plans were cancelled for this weekend and it's freezing cold and raining outside, YAY! 
from accuweather.com
Wait, before you decide that I've finally gone all the way off the deep end, I should 'splain.

These events mean I can FINALLY sit on my lazy hams for once on a Saturday with my laptop. Like the good Lord intended. Hoooooray!

Combine that with the debut of Star Wars Rebels cartoons, and that means I have time to write a blog post, while half-watching the new awesome cartoon. 
from superbwallpapers.com
Well, other than catering to my childrens' many demands for food and beverages and attention.  Be right back...

Lately life has been so busy I don't even want to open my laptop and be reminded of all the things I've been ignoring. I'm overwhelmed enough by the change of schedule, combined with random other normal life stresses that shouldn't be overwhelming me, but are. I have another appointment with my doctor Monday to ask her if NOT being full-on crazy is right for me. We'll see what she says. 
If only the side effects didn't include anal leakage. from fukitol.au.com
I'm thankful we have medical insurance and a doctor who is willing to work with me on finding out what is wrong with me. I'm more stressed by the same things that shouldn't be stressing me this much. 

I've been trying to get out and walk and stay active, and by that I mean my husband has been dragging me out by the hair. I need that sometimes, it's true, and I'm thankful he cares enough to fight our Comfy (lazy) nature and get fresh air and exercise. Even if it IS dark outside by the time we eat and get out for a walk.
From our walks. That tiny sliver is the moon. If I zoom in, my phone makes things too pixely.
But today? We're staying INSIDE. All day if I can help it. 
(Probably can't pull that off because I also haven't gotten any groceries for days.)
In my defense I was more busy than usual this week. I watched a little boy from my daughter's school, who I may start watching full time thanks to my daughter's teacher recommending me to his mother. 

I know, ANOTHER kid? Just what I need. However, we do need the money. I'm thankful to possibly be getting another paycheck, if his mother decides to take the job, because right this moment I'm wearing a hideous FREE comfortable FREE pair of shoes my mother gave me. For FREE. Literally in a garbage bag. FREE. I don't want to know where she got them. FREE. I just picked out a pair, put them on, and HEY, they don't hurt my feet like all of my very old shoes do. FREE!

The new boy, should we be thankful enough to watch him, will keep us all busy, he's a boy with a lot of energy. The good news? He's the LAST possible body that can fit in my mega van and still get my daughter to school. So I couldn't possibly watch even one more. Nope. No room. Sorry. All FULL.
We don't really live in a shoe. It just feels like it during the week. from xackphobe.com
It's also the start of SOUP season. Yes we make soup all year long, but now we'll really be going crazy with it. Today my husband's famous F.O. Soup (French Onion) is burning our eyes and delighting our noses as you read this. 

My kids aren't adapting well to not running around outside today, so that's all I have time for. 

This post is a part of the best blog experience on the market today (?) the Ten(ish) Things of Thankful. Click >>here<< to play.

I'll do my best to hop around to the others, but I apologize if it takes me a long time. I'm easing back in to this blogging thing. I really stink at it right now. Thankful in advance for your patience!