Saturday, December 31, 2016

New years eve

I cant find my normal journal so I'm going to write here.

Tonight Nathan asked to call my mom. She's sick and I heard him asking "Well who's going to take care of you since you're sick?" And then after we did fireworks we did a little toast and Aaron told the kids to go kiss who they wanted to kiss after we said cheers. And Nathan tugs on my shirt and looks up at me with his puckered little lips and my heart just bursts with love for this sweet boy.

Olivia has a cough and isn't feeling well. She painted her face to look like a Pikachu.  But then I think she was slightly embarrassed.  She's entering this new phase of no longer being a little kid and it's definitely new territory for us.

Abigail is still the peacemaker. Lately she's also filled our house with music as she's constantly singing or playing piano. She is also boy crazy already.

Eliza is almost 3. I'm praying that at 3 she turns a corner and all this sass she's been full of lately goes away. She is very strong and independent and smart as a whip. And I think I'll leave it at that.

Nora is 7 months and she's trying to crawl. She mostly scoots and rolls and does her baby planks. She doesn't sleep horribly but not great either. I can pretty much count on one hand the number of times I've slept through the night since March. But she's the sweetest most charming baby and we're all absolutely crazy about her.

We've had a fun day with family in town, playing board games, drinking mocktails, and eating delcious food. But my heart is heavy as I wish I could also be with my family in NJ. This is just a hard time of year for them and I'm so so glad that in less than a week I'll be on my way there.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

An open letter to my unborn child.

Dear Baby Girl,
       
       I see you're already following the good example of your older siblings by not being born, even a day before your due date. It's okay, I'm used to it by now. I just want to be clear, this isn't a competition about who could gestate the longest, okay? We're at 40 weeks, so any day now would be great. Lets not try to get to 41 like everyone else. Plus, we just cleaned a lot. And I had the van cleaned. These things won't last long, so if you'd like a nice clean welcome into this world, tonight, tomorrow, no rush, would be a great day to be born. Otherwise, I make no promises about the condition of the vehicle that will drive you home. Perhaps you think because we already have a cute new baby here we're not as excited for your arrival. I promise, this couldn't be further from the truth! I am so excited to see you two next to each other. And all your older siblings can not wait to meet you. And so here's the thing. Your dad is going back to work after this week of vacation is up, and I'd really like you to be able to hang out with him a lot. So if you aren't here by Saturday we're going to be giving you the boot. But I'm super scared of that whole process, and worried how it will effect you, and me, and so please, before Saturday would be great. Also, if you could come out with a name badge on that would be great. Your dad and I can't seem to see eye to eye. Again, nothing new. Don't worry, no one is nameless yes. You've been such a calm in-utero baby. I hope it's indicative of your personality. Because we have a lot of crazy going on around here, and can sure use some calm. Though if you're another opinionated, sassy, silly, emotional female, don't worry. You'll fit right in.
We can't wait to kiss you, and count your toes, and dress you up. See you soon.

Love,
Mom

Thursday, May 12, 2016

7 weeks old!

Our little Saely is 7 weeks old today. We finally got some big, genuine happy to see ME smiles today. It was great. I haven't updated lately because for 1, I don't know how much I'm "allowed" to say on a public forum like my blog. And how much I want to say, for Saely's sake. Respecting her privacy and whatnot. But my hopes of reunification seem to be diminishing and we're thinking more about adoption. Fortunately we have some time before we have to make that decision. So many big decisions lately. I think I will always look back at 2016 as the craziest year. We are looking at possibly buying a house and choosing to stay here in Yuma for at least 5 more years. We're also thinking we might home school next year. And we are going to have to decide if we're going to basically raise twins! And you know the best time to make these decisions is when you're running on 2-3 hours of sleep at a time.

38 weeks pregnant now and feeling really good honestly. My usual aches and pains that I've come to expect at this stage in pregnancy haven't hit me yet, and other than being tired and difficulty with like maneuvering around this giant belly, I really feel great. For the first time I'm glad that I tend to "slow cook" my babies. I'll gladly stay pregnant another 3 weeks! She's a whole lot easier to take care of in there than out. So as long as we're both healthy she can stay put. Though I am so excited to meet her. This pregnancy has felt so surreal. Time goes by so much faster with all these little ones.

Anyway, if you want the last trimester of a pregnancy to fly by, I highly recommend becoming foster parents to a newborn. There is no time to think, "hm, how can I pass the time before baby comes?" I can't believe there will be 2 of them in 3 weeks or less. Saely is a very high needs newborn. She fusses quite a bit, doesn't sleep great, and I keep thinking "How am I going to do it?" But immediately I feel peace and think that it will work out. One day at a time! We'll get through it. I just hope this little one in my womb is like the most chill baby ever. Otherwise things will certainly be interesting.

The kids are all finishing up school. Lots of end of year parties and trips. Oh and I got rid of one of our dogs. Something just had to give. And she was constantly jumping on the kids and knocking them over and they wouldn't go outside because they were afraid of her jumping on them. I feel tremendously guilty, but she went to a great family and I'm sure they're taking great care of her. But I still feel this sense of guilt. However, all 4 kids were completely 100% on board with her going. I don't think I could have done it if even one of them seemed remotely sad about her leaving. So now life is a manageable 5 kids.. soon to be 6! And 1 dog. Binky it seems to have proven the test of time. He's a good dog, even if he has a weird compulsion to pee on plastic bags. Seriously, completely house broken, unless you leave a plastic bag on the ground. So weird.

I'm going to try to add some pictures from my phone. We'll see how that works...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Olivia's Baptism!

Olivia was baptized on Saturday! Such a crazy, whirlwind of a day. But it was beautiful. Aaron and I started the day in the temple. It was really special, and I think we might make it a tradition for the rest of our kids baptism days.

For my not Mormon family and friends, mormons get baptized at age 8. We don't believe in original sin, so we don't see a reason to baptize babies. So the "age of accountability" was decided to be 8. I think it's interesting that it's the same age you receive your first Holy Communion in Catholicism. 
So Aaron performed the baptism and confirmation. Olivia kept saying she couldn't believe she was really baptized now. We went up to Mesa for it so that Great Grandpa could be there. Afterwards we had cake. Olivia drew a picture of the cake she wanted literally 6 months ago. She's changed it a bit since then, but mostly this is exactly what she wanted. And I was ridiculously proud of it. It was a vanilla lemon cake with honey vanilla whipped cream and strawberries between the layers. SO good. I actually made two of them because we love a lot of people! And then for our immediate family I made a pasta bar. I made 3 different sauces and 3 different pastas, chicken, sausage, bread sticks, and salad. It was all so delicious. And if you want to feel like super woman, do all this while 8 months pregnant and taking care of a newborn. Not to brag, but I totally am. I just felt impressed with myself. Though it's honestly more of a reflection of the amazing people I have helping me. Obviously I couldn't do any of that alone. So grateful for my husband and his family and all their help. 



^That's a lot of babies! 6ish more weeks until there's another one!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Busy seems to be good for me

At least for now. Maybe I'll crack eventually, but right now it's been really good.

Before Saely was with us my days looked something like: Get kids to school. Exercise with a friend 3x a week. If exercise happened, pretty much nothing else did that day. Like literally, lay on the couch and read Harry Potter while the kids watch TV. Usually I'd cook dinner. And get little people to bed. But I feel like I was doing the bare minimum. And I wasn't feeling all that great about myself. But I had great excuses. Like, hello super pregnant, and taking care of kids, that's enough!

Since Saely has been placed with us a typical day so far has been:

Wake up every 2-3 hours all night and feed, diaper, burp, baby.
Do laundry like all day every day.
Appointment for Saely for a visit with mom.
Doctor's appointment for Saely
WIC appointment for Saely
OB-GYN appointment for me
Coordinate babysitter for all this stuff
Make my bed every day because it gives me some sense of order, which apparently I did not need until now.
Try harder to make individual time each day for each of the kids, because this transition might be hard on them.
Cook dinner.
Read scriptures and pray together, because we need that peace.
Meanwhile, continue to care for newborn around the clock all day.

It's been so hectic. And I love it. Though I almost lost it when I took Eliza with me to pick up Saely today from her visit, and she cried the entire time. Eliza! Just screaming and crying over the most ridiculous things. It took almost an hour to get Saely and come home, and Eliza was crying or yelling for 90% of it. Then when we got home I was so tired and just wanted a nap, when I remembered Saely had to go for her newborn screening follow up today. And I had to drop off a rent check. This was dawning on me as Eliza was crying for who knows what and it was the first time since Saturday that I felt like I was going to just snap. Fortunately, Aaron was home and he told me he'd take Saely to her appointment and drop off the check. Eliza took a good nap, and once again all is right in the world.

I want to document as much of this as possible, so the ol' blog may be updated as much as it was in its glory days of '09. We'll see!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Foster Care Adventure Updates

So we have a newborn! And no, not an 8 week premature one from my womb, but a baby who was placed in foster care as soon as she was born. Since this blog is public I won't go into too many details about her life and her mom, but she's healthy, and tiny (6lbs!!) and beautiful.
    On Saturday, it was Aaron's only day off before a hectic week beginning so I was going to take some time for myself and go shopping. But of course I needed a quick nap first. Went to lay down for a nap around noon, and almost immediately my phone rang. As soon as I saw the name, I knew it was a call about a placement. Our licensing agent told me the situation, baby was born on the 24th, and was being discharged from the hospital today. I looked at Aaron, eyes beaming, goosebumps from head to toe, and said, "We're taking her, right?" And he was like, "Are you sure?" Ya know, being 7 months pregnant and all. But I was sure. So he nodded, and I told her we'd take care. She said another social worker would call me shortly. Sure enough a few minutes later my phone rings again and it's the case worker. I can go pick the baby up, like right now. Holy cow! So much for my nap and shopping spree. Aaron started to unload the newborn stuff, and install the car seat. I told the rest of the kids that I was going to pick up a baby. They were all so excited, but also half ignoring me because they were watching a show. They barely noticed when I left, and Olivia was shocked when I got home about a half hour later with a baby.
           She's been really good. I'm a zombie. Last night she slept from 8-11, and then 12-2, and then woke up at 3 super fussy until about 5:30. The night before was similar. And the night before that I think I was too excited, and she was up every couple of hours, that I literally didn't sleep at all. So yeah, I'm tired. But I also feel really good. I really love the bio mom, and I'm excited to help her. I do think this baby will be reunited with her.
            Everyone is smitten, except maybe Eliza. Who frequently says, "BE QUIET BABY! JUST GO TO SLEEP!" But has occasionally whispered, "She's beautiful." And squealed, "She's so cute!" Olivia has been super helpful, and it's been really good for her. Abigail asks to hold her, and then is over it almost as soon as baby is in her arms. Poor Nathan is so confused about what's going on. He understands it's not the baby from my belly, and that she probably won't be with us forever, so he keeps asking, "Is she gone yet?"
     It's been extra hard because Aaron has had to work a ton the past few days. But I'm super grateful for the support from friends. The strongest emotion has really been gratitude, and peace feeling like this is the right thing. Tired is definitely there too.
        So yes, 32 weeks pregnant, taking care of a newborn + my 4 littles. Life has never been busier, but I've also never felt more fulfilled.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The other day we were outside riding bikes and Nathan was riding as fast as his little legs would peddle. Then he came up to me and asked, "Mom, could you see me? When I was riding that fast? Or did I just look like a line of smoke?" He really thought he was going so fast I couldn't see him and could only see a blur and smoke. I think 4 year olds are my favorite.

Just a snap shot of life right now... 31 weeks pregnant. Thinking we might home school Olivia for the rest of the year after spring break. She's been begging me to, and it's been on my mind since she started school, so I think we might just try it out and see how it goes.

Abigail has a weird infection, which she's on medicine for. It's caused a big bald spot on the top of her head. The other night Aaron was looking at her and said, "It's just so sad." And she looked up and was like, "What? What's sad?" It 100% doesn't bother her. Same as the wart. I heard a girl at girl scouts asking her if she was embarrassed because she has a wart. Abigail said, "Why would I be embarrassed about part of my body? It's just part of me. Are you embarrassed of your hair or your eyes? Of course I'm not embarrassed!" Tonight she also told me, "Mom I am cute, but I'm 'don't mess with me, or I'll destroy you' kind of cute." I have no idea where this fierce amazing girl came from, but I love her to bits.

Eliza is obsessed with Lion Guard. She is so funny and makes everyone laugh all the time. Her vocabulary is crazy, and Nathan think it's great that she's not a baby anymore since she can talk. They've been playing a lot better lately, though it's almost always a fighting game, and almost always it ends in tears. He loves protecting her though, and he can't wait to have another baby sister, so he can be "two big brothers".

I also found out that our foster care license is NOW officially done. Before, I misunderstood. I thought since everything was done with our agency that we were done. But it still had to be submitted to the state. Then once it was submitted to the state, they were taking forever to get it back. But I got a call today that it's officially approved! As of tomorrow we're on the open bed list. Eeeee! I don't know how long it will be after that, that we get a call, but I'm under the assumption it won't be very long.

I am feeling pretty good. Just super tired. My energy is tapped out after the most trivial tasks. My back hurts right now. The other day we got in the car to pick up Nathan from preschool and Eliza said, "Mom, we got this!" And then demanded a fist pump. It was so funny, and oddly just what I needed when I was feeling overwhelmed. We got this.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Gross and hilarious, like most of parenthood.

This morning Nathan cleaned his own ears with a Q-Tip for the first time. (First time doing it himself, not first time ever. I know what you're thinking!) He pulled the Q-Tip out and there was a huge piece of ear wax. He screamed, "AH! MOM! I GOT MY BRAIN!" I couldn't stop laughing. He 100% thought he pulled part of his brain out of his ear. I guess he took my warnings of being careful very seriously.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Some day I'll probably regret not documenting this more, so today I'll write... foster care

       Aaron and I have talked about adopting/becoming foster parents for a long time. I don't remember the first time we had a conversation about it, but it was always something we said we'd do "some day". Then we had a bunch of babies and didn't talk about all that much, but every once in a while it would come up. I asked a friend once here in Yuma, and she said that it was next to impossible to become foster parents in Yuma. She told me the trainings were all in Phoenix and they were every week, so that immediately made me dismiss the idea entirely. But months went by and every once in a while the thought would pop back up. And I don't know if Jesse's death had anything to do with us finally taking action, but I have wanted to do something, helping someone in someway since he died. So I think to say it was completely unrelated would be a lie.  Anyway my googling led me to a licensing agency which I sent an inquisitive email. The person who I emailed happened to be on vacation and didn't get back to me for over 2 weeks. When I saw the response I was honestly shocked because I figured my friend was right and it just wasn't going to be possible in Yuma. So we set up a meeting to meet and she would answer all our questions for us in person.
           I'll never forget the feeling sitting there with that social worker. As she answered our questions and explained a bit about the crisis going on in Arizona with so many kids needing homes right now, I had chills and tears the entire time. She explained the process, which was very doable here in Yuma. However, two weeks later she got back to me that all of my kids needed to be 100% vaccinated in order for us to proceed to become foster parents. At that time I was not comfortable with this so we put it on hold a little longer.
           But I bet every week Aaron and I would bring it up again. Are we doing the right thing? Should we just vaccinate them all on schedule? It took us from May - Sept to make our decision. I emailed the same social worker again and told her we would vaccinate our kids and wanted to start the next set of classes. Which just happened to be starting that next week. So found a babysitter willing to come every Wednesday night, and Aaron and I started PSMAPP.
           The classes were okay. Some weeks were super interested and we left feeling like we learned something. Other weeks were frustratingly boring and we were just grateful to have the time together.
            Classes ended the first week in Dec. The goal was to be licensed by the end of class, but that didn't happen. All kinds of little things popped up to delay the process. Including finding out we're pregnant with Opie baby #5! So then we weren't sure if we were going to move forward or not. But after lots of prayers, temple going, we decided to move forward. To at least finish PSMAPP because once those classes are done, they're done forever. So we kind of put off everything else. But then we decided, heck lets get licensed. I'm feeling fine, and maybe we will just start with respite, or short term placements for now.
          So then it was on to waiting for the home inspector, and then there's the Adam Walsh law which means they have to do a background check in any other states we've lived in. Since we lived in PA less than 5 years ago, they had to do a check with PA. And PA came back with some weird paper our caseworker had never seen before. So we had to fill that out, and wait and wait and wait.
          But, now here we are in Feb. and EVERYTHING IS DONE! They got stuff back from PA, we did the home inspection, we filled out mountains of paperwork, got physicals, licensed our dogs, put locks on our windows and all of our medication, visits with social workers, and our 12 week PSMAPP class... it's all done! It's been a peculiar kind of pregnancy for sure. But so exciting, and all along has just felt right. So we move forward.
              And then on Friday I was walking with a friend. My phone was on silent, and zipped into the stroller, so I didn't hear the 6 phone calls I missed that hour! I also had 3 texts. I read those first, and my eyes locked on the first one and my heart raced. "We have a placement for you." from our case worker. WHAT?! At this time, I thought we were still waiting to hear back from PA so I didn't know we were available to be placed with anyone yet. I texted back, "Details!?" And she texted back, "So sorry! A family member came forward that's going to take the baby."
             I can't say the feeling was disappointed. Because you can't be sad that a baby is staying with family. But now I can't wait. It's so weird knowing at any time my phone could ring and we'll be on our way to pick up a baby, or have children at our door. I can't say the thought has been far from my mind since that text on Friday. And I wasn't sure if we were ready, or if this was a great idea right now, since I kind of already have enough kids to be confused with a day care. But this false alarm just confirmed to me that this is still right. I didn't have any feelings of, "Oh crap, not now!" or any anxiety, just excitement. I know I still have on my rose colored glasses, and as this process moves forward to having a real life baby with us, my views might change. But right now we're so excited for the possibility of another baby joining us, and giving us a chance to love them for however long Heavenly Father gives us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Lately I think everything my kids say is hilarious. So it's hard to write it down, because it's probably not funny to anyone else. For me it's more just the fact that Eliza barely turned 2, and when she gets something she likes (like to share a soda with her sister) she exclaims, "SODA! AWESOME!" 

Lately I'm the only person in the world who can make her happy, and when Aaron tried to pick her up she put her arms out in defense and yelled, "STAY BACK!"

Olivia asked Abigail why she picks her nose, and without missing a beat Abigail replies, "I have a HABIT, Olivia, okay?! It's a habit!" 

I got Nathan a little bag of power ranger toys from Goodwill (ya know the ones that's basically a bag of random garbage for $2?) and in it was a morpher that is missing the key. The other night while putting him to bed he mused, "Mommy, I think if I find the key to that morpher, I will actually turn into a real power ranger." Not quite as funny as just absolutely adorable, and just perfectly captures that childlike innocence. 

I've had a lot of those moments recently, where I just want to bottle them up. Eliza and Nathan especially. Nathan has a crush on our babysitter, and Abigail said, "Nathan, do you even know what it means if you have a crush? It doesn't just mean you like the person. It means you like them AND you feel EMBARRASSED about it." I thought that was the perfect 6 year old explanation of a crush.

When Eliza is going off to play she always says, "Bye Mom! Have fun!" Because that's what I usually to them when they leave. She loves to count, and draw and ask me what color things are and then argue with me about it. I shouldn't think it's as cute as I do, when she says, "No, actually, that's blue." when she's pointing to something that's most definitely not blue. Though lately she's been getting better, and actually knows most of her colors. I always tell Aaron it's like Olivia 2.0. She reminds me so much of her older sister.

Nathan is finally adjusting to school and hasn't cried the last two times we dropped him off. On Thursday last week he got a little award for having a great week. They sent home a little paper, and they gave him a little toy with it. He's also made some new friends, and it's been really good for him. Though I'm pretty sure he's been sick more in the past month than he has in his entire life. He's really eager to please, and today he helped me put away laundry and mop the kitchen floor. Though if it were up to him, he'd spend every minute of his life playing a Zelda game. 

Pregnancy wise I'm feeling so much further along than my 24 weeks. I feel bigger, more tired and emotional, and achy all over. It's going to be a long 17 weeks, but I know looking back it will fly by. Even just typing this feels so surreal to me. Hard to believe this is the 5th time I'm writing about a pregnancy on my blog. Can't imagine what this little one will be like. It's funny, before having so many kids myself I always wondered how a mom could have enough love and time for so many kids. And one reason I wasn't sure I wanted a #5 was because I just couldn't imagine my heart growing any more. And yet, I find the opposite to be true... I feel more connected to this little baby growing inside of me than I did to any of the others. But it's because I know how much I love them, that I'm able to feel that love already for this little girl. Love definitely multiplies, not divides. I love how much the kids love to talk to their baby sister already. They're constantly asking how big she is now, if she's moving, and Nathan asks daily if she's going to come out now. The big girls understand how long 40 weeks is, and it helps that I'm due right around the last day of school, and they know how far away that is! 

Well I guess that's all I have to say... just wanted to update a little snippet of what life is like right now. Time marches on too quickly, and much too soon these days are memories.


Friday, January 15, 2016

So tired but fulfilled

           It's only 8:45 on a Friday night, but seriously feels like it could be 1:00AM. We are two weeks into 2016 and I think we've had maybe 4 days of everyone being healthy. Nathan and Eliza have strep and ear infections, and Abigail and Aaron have stomach flu stuff going on with high fevers, and Olivia has a cough. Every night since last Saturday I've been woken up around midnight by a sick kid. My days have started at 1:00-2:00AM, and I'm so tired. Eliza is the worst little sick person ever. She was so miserable. It started Sunday, though she was kind of clingy and extra crazy a few days before that, and each day I thought, tomorrow will be better. But each day seemed to get worse. Just constant crying and misery. Or in the bathtub, which is definitely her happy place. The only moments my arms got a break was while she was in the bath. She probably took between 7-8 baths per day, every day this week. The antibiotics seem to be doing the trick and she's getting back to herself. Or so I pray. Nathan didn't really seem that sick at all, but he would randomly complain of an ear ache or sore throat, but it always coincided with not wanting to eat dinner, or go to school. So I had my suspicions. You can imagine my guilt when almost a week after he first complained, he was finally taken to the doctor and diagnosed with strep throat and a double ear infection. Poor guy! Though he has said he hopes that he stays sick forever so that he never has to go back to school. Mr. Social Butterfly, he is not. Meanwhile taking Eliza to the YMCA day care while I work out has been the only way she doesn't cry hysterically the entire 3 hours Nathan is at all school (though that only happened once, before I realized she was sick and not just being a cranky butt).
                Olivia is a much happier person when she has school. The last few days of winter break we were going crazy. But this week has been happier, though she missed two days for being sick.
                  Though despite this craziness I've somehow managed to stick to my goal of staying on top of laundry since my mom left (she helped catch me up, and I've just done 1-2 loads a day since she left). Yes that is only 1 week tomorrow, but this is probably a first for me in my entire marriage. I've also made my bed every day, and we've studied the scriptures as a family every night. The house has stayed semi-clean, like I wouldn't be completely mortified if someone came over, in fact we had our home inspection for foster care yesterday and I barely had to do anything to feel not embarrassed by the state it was in. So even though these are like bare minimum standards, I'm feeling pretty awesome. And by some miracle I've managed to stay healthy through all of it.
                      And Eliza's crying. Why won't these children just sleep?! I swear, when they're sick they sleep significantly less than normal. So frustrating.

Friday, January 1, 2016

How 2016 Began...

So I went to bed last night with the hopes that we had seen the last of Nathan's puking, and starting to think about goals for myself for the new year. Trying not to think too much on the year that had passed, and think about the future and all that. Visions of myself being in better shape, physically, spiritually, financially danced through my head as I started to doze off to sleep. Only to be awaken by the awful, heart stopping sound of a child puking. This time it's Eliza. I look at the clock, 11:48.  Happy New Year, looks like I'll be awake for midnight after all. Aaron and I get her cleaned up, and listen to the fireworks ringing in the new year. We kiss and laugh at the craziness. And then there's more puke, and more puke, and we spend most of the night cleaning puke from 1 and 4 year old. Eliza slept between Aaron and I, with a barricade of towels covering myself because I really hate puke. And at 7:00AM I'm awoken by a sharp fingernail scratching my eyelid and a little voice, "Good morning mama."
       And then I go check on the other puker where there's a fight going on over a blanket, and a cat being tortured. Settle fight, free the cat. Start breakfast. Then Olivia accidentally knocks over a giant, open bag of M&M's in the pantry. Clean M&M's, and switch out the vomit laundry from the middle of the night.
      And I realize the only goal I'm setting this year is to survive with my sanity in tact. Maybe keep the laughter we were able to find in the midst of sleep deprivation and vomit last night. I'll worry about waistlines and budgets next year, when maybe things are starting to settle down a bit. (HA!)