Saturday, August 30, 2008

A little town in the Midwest

There is a little town that sits precisely in the middle of Illinois. It is surrounded on all sides by corn fields, and John Deere tractors with triangular orange caution signs hanging on the back rumble up and down the streets during planting and harvest time. There are four churches. One tiny library. A post office where people stop in and pick up their daily mail from their assigned mail slot. It is the epitome of small-town Midwestern life, a place where everyone in the entire town knows everyone else and their business.

For the first 15 years of my life, this was home to me.

I haven't been back in 13 years. When my grandpa died in 1995, we went for his funeral. Then a few years passed, I left home and moved several states away, and that was the last time that I've been back.

Thinking about it brings waves of nostalgia. Some things I remember perfectly, like the huge evergreen tree in our backyard that would bend its mighty branches as the wind whipped through it. I would pretend I was Heidi, living in the Alps...I always thought it was so dreamy and romantic when she described the roaring of the wind through the mountain pine trees.

Other things are hazy in my memory; I cannot recall the names of certain streets or how to get to some of the surrounding towns. Funny how living in several cities between then and now can get your brain all befuddled.

The town only has 2000 people, so its claim to fame is limited. But...if it is famous for anything, at least within, oh, say, a 20-mile radius, it would be the Turkey Festival. Every year in June, the entire town turns out for a weekend of roasted turkey legs, mounds of homemade strawberry shortcake, and rickety carnival rides. And you cannot forget the bed races...are ya'll familiar with this? Picture a cot on wheels, many cots on wheels, actually. Four guys to push, one to ride. They line up in the middle of Main Street, and then race to a center line, where they leap off and circle the cot in some sort of Chinese fire drill fashion. Then with whoops and hollers they careen towards the finish line.

Good times.

The weekend ends with a bang, pretty much the highlight of the entire 3 days...the parade. I don't care how many big-city parades I go to in my life, nothing will compare to the feeling of standing on the edge of the curb, clutching a bag, and hearing the first strains of a marching band coming around the corner. Pure excitement; you know the little homemade floats and the cars and fire engines will be coming by any second, and that loads of candy will by flung into your eager little hands. The Macy's Day Parade has nothing on this when you are 8 years old.

These are my memories, my roots. And sometime this week, for just a day, I am returning. My sister and I, and possibly a brother or two, are making the 3 1/2 hour-drive from Indy to visit our little Illinois town. I am a bit unsure of how I will feel once I arrive; I think it is always hard to return to a place you once called home, because it will never be exactly the same as you remember it. Things change, you change, and the ideals you held on to as a child look completely different when viewed through grown-up eyes. I know it will be a pensive trip as we reminisce about the way things once were, all the while knowing that you can never really go back to that exact place in time.

But still, for just a day, it will be good to be home.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

And I used to think it would be fun to live in the olden days...

In about 24 hours I will enter into the land of dial-up internet connection. The horror...I'm cringing a little as I type that.

Yes, I'm spoiled. This high-speed lovin' girl, who gets a little irritated when the page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, might twitch and moan through the first few days of withdrawal, but it's ok. It will be worth it.

Savannah, my sister Jamie, and I are flying home to Indiana to visit la familia. All 3 of my brothers will be there as well, and so my far-flung family will be together for the first time in almost 2 years.

Savannah, who has no concept of time yet, has been saying for the past 2 weeks, "We go on airplane to Papa's house pretty soon!" And also, "We are going to play with special toys, special outside, and special birthday party!" - each being said with progressive degrees of enthusiasm. As far as I know no birthday parties are in the works, so she'll have to content herself with playing with the "special toys" and the "special outside", which is special indeed because of all the real live green grass. I might just lie down and roll around in it for awhile and forget that I live in the desert.

Until the humidity starts frizzing up my hair and then I'll be glad to go back home.

So, what with the dial-up situation and all, oh, and also the fact that the purpose of going is to actually spend time with my family, I might be out of bloggy commission for a few days. We'll have to see if the dial-up is kind to me and lets me put up a post or two, but if not, it'll just have to wait.

And now I am going to bed so that I can be alert and ready to entertain a certain 2-year-old on a looooong flight tomorrow. One that will involve suckers and a portable DVD player.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Where I belong

My sister flew in from LA last night for a short visit. She was scheduled to arrive at 10:45, but she was delayed and didn't get in until after midnight. My family was fast asleep as I slipped out of the house and drove off into the night to pick her up.

I rolled the windows down as I drove and let the cool, end-of-summer-but-not-quite-fall air wash over me. The radio played a country song, one that seemed to beckon me on a long road trip. For a second, I was just girl, traveling down a dark road in the middle of the night. I wasn't a mama, I wasn't a wife, or someones daughter or sister, I was just me. I could be going anywhere. I could take off and drive to Texas, or turn around and run away to Colorado. Or Idaho. I could stop when I wanted, drink in the sunrise by myself, go all the way to the ocean if I wanted. The feeling of freedom coupled with the breeze blowing all around me was exhilarating.

The moment passed seconds later when I pulled up to the airport pick-up and my sister jumped into the car. We jabbered non-stop to the house like sisters do. We entered the house a little too loudly, and shushed each other as we giggled and talked, trying not to wake up Ricardo and Savannah.

Eventually we said good-night. I walked by Savannah's closed door, imagining her in peaceful sleep, her chest rising and falling with even cadence, and my heart whispered, I love you. I entered my room and settled in bed, knowing that my hubby was fast asleep and feeling secure with his presence.

I am a wife. A mother. A sister. A daughter. A child of God. But I am still me.

And I'm exactly where I want to be.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A runner? Nope, not me

My neighbors, who also happen to be good friends and go to church with us, rang my doorbell this evening and dropped off a couple of pictures. Old pictures, from seven years ago. They apparently have been accumulating rolls and rolls of film and just now got them all developed. The occasion was Ricardo's proposal (he did it in front of a lot of people, so hence the pictures taken by friends). The first thing I noticed in the pictures was that I looked stupendously, amazingly happy - as well I should be; I mean, the most awesome man in the world had just proposed to me, so I think that some excessive happiness was in order.

The second thing I noticed was how skinny I was back then.

Sometimes it can be discouraging looking at then and now pictures. I know I posted about my determination to get this under control oh, about 2 months ago. I haven't forgotten, even though I haven't said anything since then. I have lost some weight, not a huge amount like I was hoping would just magically fall off, but enough to give me some incentive to keep going. I guess the biggest plus of all is that I haven't put it back on. That's the past, I would lose 5, gain 5, lose 3, gain 4. Vicious cycle. This time, it seems to be coming off slowly, but at least it's staying off, hallelujah.

So a few weeks ago Natalie started the Couch to 5K program. When I first read her post, I had zero interest or intention of joining her. Because, quite simply, I don't run. I speed-walk, I do aerobics videos, I do some light weights. But I just don't run. And I didn't think I could ever do it.

But I read her post, and she was encouraging everybody to jump on board. I went to leave her a comment, and suddenly my fingers were typing, "Ok...I'll do it", all of their own volition. What?? I wanted to take it back, but I had hit publish and it was too late. I had committed.

On the day we were supposed to start, I was having some foot and ankle issues. I know it sounds like an excuse, but it was really hurting. So I waited a couple of days until it subsided, and then I started. The program eases into it very gently, and I was able to keep up without collapsing in a heap.

I'm on the 3rd week now, and I'm starting to feel sorta like a real runner. My endurance is increasing and I actually feel exhilarated while running. We'll see how I do by the end of the 9 weeks, but I'm pretty excited about it, and determined to see it through.

A slightly embarrassing thing happened today while I was on the treadmill. And it wasn't even during one of the running portions, it was while I was walking in between. I had reached for my water bottle and was taking a drink when suddenly I lost control and fell down on the moving treadmill. It happened so fast and I got back on my feet quickly, but it was a total America's Funniest Videos moment. Only, I sort of hurt my knee. I have no idea what I did to it, but it's hurtin'. So if you feel so inclined, pray that it returns to normal so that I can continue this program.

Oh! I forgot the best part...all of my old jeans are getting all baggy around the waist, and I just bought a new pair that was a size smaller and that fits (almost) perfectly. Again...hallelujah!

I think accountability is huge when trying to do this, and I'm thankful for girls like Natalie and Sarah, who are walking down their own paths towards health and fitness, and who are encouraging us along the way.

I'll let you all know if I succeeded or failed in six more weeks...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Look, a virtual meet and greet!

Have ya'll seen this?

Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee is hosting the "I See What You're Saying" carnival on Sept. 30. She wants us to video ourselves doing our posts, as opposed to us writing our posts like normal. So that we can "meet" each other and hear what we all sound like. She even has a cool button that you can grab just for this occasion.

I love this idea because one of my favorite things is hearing my bloggy friends' voices. It makes it all so much more real, when you realize there is an actual person with a real voice behind the words they write every day.

More than anything I love hearing the different accents. Love it. I have several real-life friends in Minnesota, and when I hear them talk, it totally makes me smile. It's so cool, hearing them say fleg and beg instead of flag and bag. And when I hear some of your sweet Southern drawls, it really does make me wish that I had been born in Georgia or North Carolina or Texas, because my flat Midwestern non-accent? It just cannot compete. Not to say that those of you from the Midwest have boring voices. Not at all. It's just that I do love some Southern-talk.

I did live in Dallas for 3 years, so I feel that qualifies me to say "ya'll" on occasion. I picked that up when I was working at a downtown Dallas restaurant as a hostess because it just worked beautifully when addressing a party of more than one person. Ya'll. Saying "You" or, even worse, "You all" just sounded strained and contrived to me. But saying "Ya'll"? It just slipped out so smoothly. But that is the extent of my faux-Southern. It just doesn't ring true with the rest of the staccato words that pop out of my mouth.

I haven't decided if I'm going to participate yet (due to, umm...we'll call it voice issues that I have. Does anyone else think they sound dorky on video?).

Plus I am not sure what I would talk about.

Plus I'm shy. (Oh, the excuses, they just keep coming).

So I'm debating. But I think it would be lovely if YOU would participate. So I can see what you look like in action and hear your voice. That's not hypocritical, is it? Yeah, maybe just a little. I'll work on slowing down my speech enough so that you can understand me, and then maybe I'll jump in, too. Maybe.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fresh Entertainment

If you give a little girl a freshly picked tomato from the garden...

It will keep her entertained for at least an hour.

(Please ignore the fact that one of them is green. It might have been plucked a tad before its time).

They may even get placed in the princess purse - and I don't think the tomatoes realize what a HUGE honor this is. They have hit the big time. Right next to the lip gloss, which is a staple in this household.

And you will get a smile like this that says, "Thanks for the tomato,'re a rock star!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The creative gene missed me completely...

I like to pretend that I am creative. I copy decorating ideas from magazines, crafty ideas from my friends, but really, there isn't a lot of original thought that comes directly from my brain. At Christmastime, when my best friend and I host a table at the annual tea party, she is the one that comes up with fabulous ideas for decorating the table. I am the one that makes the checklist and makes sure we have silverware, sugar and cream.

The non-creativity spills over into the realm of the look of my blog too.

I have no business messing with my blog design. That's what I decided after I almost obliterated the entire thing this weekend.

I've been meaning to update my blogroll, but have been putting it off because there are just too many to add and it seemed entirely too daunting of a task. But this weekend, I decided to be brave. I've seen blogs that use the drop-down menu for their blogroll, and I thought that was just perfect.

There was just one small issue - I had no clue how to do it. So I googled. And about 10,000 sites popped up.

I just love it when the instructions say, This is super easy. Just do this, cut this, copy this, paste this, delete this. Foolproof.

Except that when I do what they tell me to, I end up deleting my entire existing blogroll. And in its place, a drop-down list of labels shows up. What???

I panicked a bit, and then when I tried to copy and paste my back-up copy of my original template back in, it told me my HTML wasn't acceptable and the tag wasn't closed. Or something. Then I really freaked out, thinking that my entire blog was never to be seen again.

Which didn't happen, but I was good and scared, so I just closed out of everything and went and read a book. So much for my burst of creativity. Now I have no blogroll whatsoever.

And I know I could put my blogroll into a separate post and then link to that post from my sidebar, but I really have my heart set on the drop-down menu. Anybody out there know how to do that?

This pretty much puts the kibosh on any plans I might have had for trying to re-do the actual design of my blog myself. Guess I'll have to hire one of you brilliant people out there to do it for me.

And to those of you that teach yourself how to do this stuff, all on your own, my admiration for you knows no bounds. Send a little of your creativity my way, will you?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Looking ahead...

I've been reading a lot of posts lately by mamas whose kids are going off to school. Some for the first time, to preschool or kindergarten, some with older kids returning again for another year.

And it is so interesting to me to see how each one handles it. The moms, I mean, not the kids. Some are excited for a little bit of free time, which I can totally understand. Some are a little sadder, wondering how their baby grew up overnight and where the time went.

It seems like such a far-off milestone for me. Waaaay down the road. Two or three years.

Well, the school that we are thinking about sending Savannah to announced recently that if the child's birthday falls before the end of December, they will allow them into the Pre-K program that September. Savannah was born on December 27, just before the cut-off.

That means my baby could be going to preschool next year. Next year, as in exactly one year from now, when she is 3 1/2.

Of course, we aren't deciding now. We'll see how she is doing, if she is ready, but if I know my child, little Miss Social Butterfly (ahem...definitely doesn't take after me in that regard), she will be thrilled to get to go to school. And I really do want her to be excited about it, to go and make friends and learn. I want her to stretch her little baby wings and fly, but just not too far or too fast. Not yet.

This weekend my hubby and I had the rare chance to go on a date, all by ourselves. We are all about frugal and free things, so we used a gift certificate to go out to eat and then another gift certificate to rent a movie (August Rush...good stuff).

So we dropped Savannah off with some friends, and then headed to the restaurant. We ate, and then drove home and watched the movie. It was 9:45 when it ended, and Ricardo left to go pick Savannah up.

And as I sat at home waiting for them to come back, I realized how much I miss her, even when she is gone for just a couple of hours. I heard the garage door groan as it opened, and I went to stand at the door so that I could grab her the minute she walked in and kiss her little cheeks and hear all about her night. I wanted to hear her jabber excitedly about her friend and the ball they kicked and the doll they played with, to hear her say, "Mama! We had ice c'eam!" And as much as I love being alone with my hubby, and I know it's healthy for us to take that time, our little family isn't complete until she is back with us.

At the same time, I don't want to be so completely wrapped up in being her mama that I forget who I am outside of that. Before I know it, she'll be gone, first to school, and then she'll grow up and leave for good, and I will still be me, apart from her. It's hard, that separating of the different roles that we play.

So, I'm pretty sure I'll cry a little on that day when she shrugs on her Dora backpack and heads off to the new exciting world of school; a turbulent mix of emotions where happy and sad collide all at once.

I guess that is what motherhood is all about.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The vacation? It continues...

Apparently my brain still believes it is on a bloggy vacation, because all on its own, it is insisting on reading books and watching the Olympics instead of coming up with something - anything! - to blog about. Well, actually,that's not entirely true... I have at least 4 different post ideas swirling inside my head, but it's really hard to bring my thoughts together cohesively when the fate of the US gymnastics team depends solely upon me being glued to the TV. And since I'm not one to let my country down, I shall remain glued.

So, given all of this, it seems like a perfect time to do a meme.

Tracey at Grace Comes by Hearing tagged me awhile back for this one, and so here goes...6 random things about moi.

1. I wash almost all of my dishes by hand. And not because I don't have a dishwasher, because I do. I just enjoy it; something about it is therapeutic for me. In fact, my dishwasher actually stopped working because of lack of use, and after my dad and Ricardo got it running again, Dad told me that I had to use it once a week so that it didn't happen again. So every Monday I run it, but only because I am more or less forced to.

2. I was 15 when our neighbor hired my brother and me to feed and groom the 8 horses that she owned. This was basically a dream job for me, because I was going through that stage where I thought owning a horse would be the most amazing thing in the world. I loved it; we would go out twice a day and give them hay and oats, and then brush them down until they were sleek and shiny. It was boatloads of fun. That is, until winter hit. We had an excruciatingly cold winter that year, and it got down to about 15 below zero. The water pump out in the horse barn froze, and so my brother and I had to fill up 5 gallon buckets at the house, and then carry them by hand across 3 acres to the barn. Try doing that for 8 extremely thirsty horses every single day; suddenly the job isn't so dreamy anymore. What should have taken 20 minutes took over an hour, and then we would trudge back to our house, frozen to the bone and with no feeling left in our hands and feet.

3. When it comes to Savannah, I have sort of an irrational fear. Two actually; one is that she will choke on something; when she takes too big of a bite and starts to gag, my heart stops. I think it is because I feel so helpless; I can pound on her back, but really, I don't know what I'm doing, and it makes me so nervous. I can't even describe how awful it is. The second one is a little stranger; I am afraid something will fall on her. Like a ceiling fan, or the shelf on the wall, or something else equally silly and unlikely. When she was small, she was on the bed, and I was sitting beside her, singing a song complete with wild gestures. My hand shot up and connected with the shelf behind me, on which sat a heavy porcelain picture frame. I watched in slow motion as the frame hurtled down towards Savannah's head; it missed her by mere inches. I still get chills thinking about it. And yes, I know; this fear is completely unfounded, and I just need to trust that God will protect my baby from any random falling objects. I'm working on it.

4. When Ricardo first called to ask me out (I use that term loosely here - you will see why in a moment), it was to invite me to go white-water rafting. I was excited that he had thought to include me, and had visions of romance dancing in my head until he said, "Well, we had all of the places filled until today, 2 people dropped out and so I'm trying to find some replacements." Well, then. When you put it like that, what girl wouldn't jump at such an opportunity? But I decided to go anyway, mentally writing him off in my head as any sort of a prospect. He ended up hovering close by the entire trip, making sure he was in my raft, sitting by me at lunch, and then talking non-stop for the 2-hour ride home. 8 years later, I'd say that was one great white-water rafting trip.

5. I abhor cockroaches with every fiber of my being. Just typing that word gives me the heebie-jeebies. I have been known to grab a bowl and set it upside-down over a cockroach so that it can't escape while waiting for my hubby to come home and rescue us. I'm sure his love for me knows no bounds at that moment when he walks in the door and sees what is sitting there.

6. We chose to wait to find out whether we were having a boy or girl when I was pregnant with Savannah. It killed me when I was going in for my ultrasound, because a part of me wanted to find out so badly. In the end, she didn't cooperate anyway, so even the ultrasound tech didn't know what we were having, and that gave me a little satisfaction...if we weren't going to know, then nobody was going to know. However, we were 100% convinced that we were having a boy. I don't know what we were basing that on, but we believed it with absolute certainty. Imagine our surprise when at the birth the midwife said to Ricardo, "Take a look, see what you've got!" And he, already choked up with the emotion and beauty of the moment, did a double take and then announced, "It's a... girl!" And I was all, "Serious? Really??" And we could not have been more thrilled. Of course now, I can't picture having anyone else but her. Perfection.

And now...I am tagging Wendi at Everyday Miracles, Kaley at Cheap Therapy, and Sarah at Tales from Oakbriar Farm.

A few weeks back Wendi passed along this lovely little award to me:

Thank you, Wendi! She is such an amazing writer, weaving her words into stories with so much beauty. She is also my soul sista...pretty much every time she writes something, I feel she is peeking into my life and writing about me.

I would like to pass this on to Lizz at Yes, And so is my Heart. She has such a sweet blog, and also 3 of the most adorable children you could ever hope to see.

Chel at Leaving a Legacy awarded these two little beauties to me last week...thank you, Chel! You need to go and visit this girl...she is a fairly new blogger who is witty and insightful, and I'm so glad that I ran across her blog recently.

I am Sharing the Love with Alana from A Kiss, A Hug and a cannot visit her and leave without a smile on your face.

And for the Friendship Award, I am giving that to my real life best friend, Tara. I don't know what I would do without her!

Whew! I feel like I just gave some sort of speech at the Academy Awards. Except this is much easier because, the public speaking? It terrifies me. There, that's one last random fact about me, thrown in as a bonus.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I feel like I've been gone a month...

Things I learned during my Break from the Blog, also known as Trying to Get my Ducks in a Row.

  • My ducks are still not in a row, and probably never will be. And that's ok.
  • Books are good. I should really make time to read more of them. I read one by Jodie Picoult, one by Francine Rivers, and one by Bodie Thoene. The time I usually spend blogging I instead spent getting lost in pages that came alive and transported me to New Jersey and San Francisco and Bethlehem, and I loved every second of it.
  • Going to bed anytime before 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning does wonders for me. Wonders. Like, I am not tired in the middle of the day and I do not toy with the idea of taking a nap when Savannah goes down for hers. Who knew?
  • I could take a year-long blog break and still not want to clean my house. That's one priority that did not rise high in the ranks.
  • Being on a bloggy break lends itself to the feeling of being on vacation, if only mentally. I did not compose a post in my head one time this week. That was a weird feeling.
  • My time spent with God was more consistent this week. That's a good thing. And one I need to continue.
  • TV can wait. Family takes precedence. Even if said TV is showing the gymnastics that I have been waiting - all day - to watch. Because it might so happen that hubby announces at a most inopportune time that he wants to take a little drive, and do I want to come? And I might hesitate, and even tell him to just go ahead without me, imagining a quiet house with just me and the balance beam and floor exercises and little girls with lots of glittery clips in their hair doing amazing flips and twists in the air. But then I might come to my senses and realize that my family is here and now, in real life, and the little girls on TV are just pre-recorded entertainment, and that it won't change the outcome one bit if I'm there holding my breath nervously or not. So I choose to go, and make some memories with my family, watching a storm roll in as lightning flashes and outlines the mountains in the distance.

On a side note - my sweet hubby turned 41 on the 2nd. Happy Birthday, are the youngest 41-year-old that I know!

I also had my first piece of sushi this weekend, and I'm feeling pretty special about it. I know, some of you are probably gasping at my obvious lack of refinement. What can I say - I am more of a down-home cookin' kind of a girl. I have had a huge aversion to the whole idea of sushi, because, um, raw fish. But we had a Girls Night Out at a Japanese restaurant, and they ordered some to share. I gingerly took a bite, and it was fantastic. (Now that I typed all of that, I'm hoping that what I had was real sushi. Hmmm...maybe it wasn't, and that's why I liked it so much. Tara...that appetizer, was it the real deal?)

So, I'm hoping you all are still out there. I can't wait to drop by and see what I've missed out on this past week. And to those of you who told me that you have considered taking a blogging break of your own, I highly recommend it. Just be sure that you come back.

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Parties and finding balance

You all have some definite ideas about home parties! I was thoroughly entertained reading what every single one of you had to say, and I vacillated between laughing and agreeing with you.

So what did I do? Well, I went. My mom sort of saved the day when she told me she has been wanting a garlic press, and that she would buy one if I wanted to go. Win-win! So I drove there (by myself! but with an occasional glance in the rear view mirror to check on a non-existent Savannah before I remembered that I myself - weird feeling. Um, yeah, maybe I need to get out more). My friend's new custom house is lovely, and I took the grand tour and admired everything profusely.

The Pampered Chef presentation was just like all the others I have been too. There are so many gadgets that look so cool and that I'd love to have, but there is always the question of, would I actually use them? More specifically, would I use them enough to justify the money that I would have to spend to get them? So I refrained from purchasing anything for myself, but got the garlic press for my mom, and figured that was good enough. We had a yummy little caprese sandwich appetizer made with fresh mozzarella and tomato and pesto - it tasted like summer, an explosion of freshly-picked garden vegetables. And in keeping with my low-carb weight-loss aspirations, I only had 6 chips with fresh salsa and guacamole. I was very proud of myself.

This morning, the same friend that hosted the party called and said she was giving me a 25% off coupon to the Gap, where she works part-time. Apparently it is friends and family week, in addition to being tax-free weekend. And (the best part) Darcie at Such the Spot just sent me a Gap gift card that I had won a few weeks back (thank you, Darcie!). The timing could not be more perfect. I see some shopping in my very near future...and I am hoping to get a few things for myself instead of being tempted to spend it all on adorable clothes for Savannah.

I think I'm going to be taking a little blogging break next week. My life is in need of some prioritizing. I love too many family, friends, reading, blogging, cooking. And sleeping, which is kind of a necessity. And while I do not love cleaning and laundry and exercise, those things factor into my day as well. Somewhere along the way I have gotten turned around, and I just need to take a week and figure it all out. I plan to go to the library today and stock up on books, which I haven't done in such a long time, and the thought is making me giddy with excitement.

So, I won't be posting next week, but I am quite certain that it would be impossible to tear myself completely away...I still have to keep up with you! I can't imagine coming back after a week and finding 700 (literally)new posts in my reader. So I'll pop in to visit as much as I can. And hopefully you all will hang in there with me....don't leave! I'll be back.

Have a great week, ya'll.