Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Chicken Run Part 2

"Chicken!  Chick-chick-chicken!"  I must sound very strange - just as well we only have a couple of neighbours.  I stand on the grass near their coop and call my girls to me to come get some slightly off grapes (no more guilt about throwing away uneaten fruit).
Today it took a little while for them to appear (it's been raining and they'll be huddled under their favourite bush) but a quick glance through the fence into the main garden (from which they are meant to be excluded) and here come the hens, pelting through the long grass (must get that strimmer) like sprinters.  They stop at the fence and look at me quizzically and determinedly.  They know I have food - I've trained them to respond to my call - but they can't quite remember how to get to me.   After a moment one of them remembers the little gate in their run - which I have given up closing, since they fly over the fence into the garden and then can't get back to the Coop to lay their eggs.  Three hens waddle quickly through the run and I throw a few grapes.  Then the other two figure out the way in and they're all squawking and fighting over the grapes as I throw the rest.
Only five.  Which means the broody one will be in the coop, sitting on some adopted eggs.  I scoop her out to join the others - since she won't have eaten today and needs to stretch her legs.  She sits for a moment on the wet stones.
"Go eat," I say gently, and she looks up at me and then slowly stands and strides over to the food dish.  She won't bother fighting the others for the grapes.  She has important business to get back to...  Of course, in the mean time I've removed her adopted eggs, so she'll be disappointed when she gets back to her nest and will have to wait until tomorrow for some more.
I never thought I would feel such affection for chickens.  I had not considered them as pets before we had them - they are farm animals.  Now I find myself talking to them, laughing at their antics and beginning to understand the special relationship a good farmer has with their animals.  I'm a city girl really, born and bred in London, and we only had guinea pigs and hamsters growing up.  This is a whole new world for me, and I feel so privileged to experience it.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Today is not a good day...

Today is not a good day.  I hesitate to share this with you - I want to keep positive, but I also want to keep real.  And perhaps, by writing down my confession, I can get my head in order.
I did not sleep well, despite going to bed early and leaving baby boy sleeping in his 'downstairs' cot with Daddy until they decided to join me.  Cue interruption to sleep number one to feed baby at 11.30pm.  This is followed by our usual routine of baby boy waking about six times in the night for a feed.  I am barely conscious during these feeds, but it still affects my sleeping patterns and I am tired, tired, tired when I wake finally to find Daughter 2 has joined us in bed.  It's 7.30am, so it's not unreasonable, but still.  Thank goodness I don't need to get the children ready for school, but breakfast must be served - even if it is just cereal and they can put most of it together themselves.

They have been pretty good today, but I have been impatient anyway.  I go away on Thursday, and I am conscious that there is loads of washing to be done, the house needs to be tidied, and although my husband doesn't join me until Saturday, if I don't get organised and leave strict instructions for the intervening days we will return to a house that will look like it's been ransacked by burglars.  I am not good at housework at the best of times, and the mantra of doing things when you see them doesn't work for me - if I pick up the toys on the floor as I walk past they will be back there within an hour.  So, I have been leaving things until tomorrow, when at least I can leave behind me the memory of a tidy house.  As a result my mood has not been great, and every time something has been spilt or broken today (i.e. egg dropped on the step on the way in from the chicken coop) I have overreacted.

Something else is playing on my mind.  My husband is picking up some bookmarks I have ordered printed to advertise my business today, and once more I am conscious of spending (and wasting) his hard earned money on my brilliant business idea that has failed to yield any kind of result!  He doesn't say anything, but I feel so guilty that I seem to be throwing good money after bad and I am disheartened.

And then there is the poo... sorry, but it's a fact of my life at the moment.  Today, the air is filled with that lovely country smell when they muck spread on the fields.  It will have settled tomorrow, but today it permeates everything and I am tired of it.  And then, my darling two year old, who refuses to wear nappies any more despite pleas of desperation, pooed in the nappy I forced on her for her nap, removed said nappy, smeared poo all over herself some how, wrapped herself in a blanket and fallen asleep.  To be woken by me - bad mummy who ignored her pleas to get up - carried to the bath and showered - which she hates.  And this has meant more washing.
And now the children are gathering their belongings, including the kitchen sink to pack for our holiday.  Please STOP!!!!
I think I need to start this day again and plan a big trip out somewhere.  We'll try again tomorrow.

Doctors, Where are you?

Two years ago we were living in the Falkland Islands and we had a little baby girl.  (Fab place to have a baby, she was the only one born in the hospital in June!)  When she was about three months old I mentioned to the Health Visitor that her eyes always seemed to be moving - she never seemed to fix them in place.  Being thousands of miles away from eye specialist we were referred to Oxford for eye tests and were dramatically medi-vacced back to the UK a month later.  (Not really all that dramatic, but it sounds good).
My parents hired a cottage near the hospital for us to stay in and ferried me and baby girl back and forth.  We had a day of tests - because we had come so far they made sure they fitted everything in the same day, but it was quite overwhelming.  During many Opth.. somethings sessions - first showing baby cards and flashy coloured lights to see where she looked, holding up lenses in front of her (I think that was opticians) and the lovely doctor who jumped us from appointment to appointment - I was told casually:  "With the Albinism, the Nystagmus is fairly standard..."  "The What?" I asked, startled.  "Oh," said the doctor.  "Haven't you heard that before?  In that case, we'll talk about it when we've completed all the tests..."  Apparently to them it was obvious my little girl had Albinism.  It had never occurred to me - all my children are blond.
There was a particular test the doctor wanted to run in another department, but she wasn't sure if they would be able to fit us in that day.  It seems the consultant then called in a favour, and we were sent up an hour later to have electrodes fitted to baby's head and lights flashed in her eyes.  Not the most successful enterprise - how do you explain to a four month old that they really need to keep their eyes open, despite the horrible flashing lights.  However, it was clear enough to suggest that yes, Daughter 3 has the non-crossing nerves typical of people with Albinism.  As you can tell my grasp of the pertinent details and doctor jargon is pretty low!
And thus began our adventure.
Yesterday was our sixth visit to the Eye Doctor - now referred to Cardiff - and despite my continuing lack of understanding of the technical elements, I'm fairly happy.  As it's the school holidays all five children were with us, which was surprisingly civilised as there is an excellent play area in the waiting room and plenty of other children for my ultra-sociable tribe to befriend.  This is all the more remarkable when you realise that the appointment consists of three separate assessments over two hours.
Daughter 3 was also remarkably cooperative - she has a slight obsession with doctors, since recently we seem to be taking one or other child to the GP most weeks.  This was her doctor, and she was very excited.  Forgive the next few lines - I'm going to brag.  She responded to the cards with pictures on without getting too distracted, and then in the second assessment sat quietly in the chair by herself while the doctor shone lights in her eyes and wrote notes.  She didn't even cry when he put the drops in her eyes to dilate her pupils.
Then back out to wait for half an hour for the drops to do their job.  At this point we realised she had the most disgusting nappy, so it was just as well we had some time to deal with it.  On the way back from the toilet, I said, "Back to the doctors now."  At which point she started shouting at the top of her lungs.  "Where Doctors?  Doctors where you?  Doctors where are you?"  When we went back into the clinic, she wanted to go straight back to the doctor and had a minor meltdown when she realised she had to wait.  "MY Doctor!  My see Doctor!  Now!"  I'm a dab hand at ignoring tantrums now - she soon quiets if you don't fuss - and after a minute or two she went back to playing.
It was more than a half hour wait - it always is - during which time my eldest two competed in telling us that the clock had moved yet again and Son 1 repeatedly informed me he was hungry.  (BTW, I must start learning to accept that boys are always hungry.)
Finally, we went back to see the doctor, and once again, Daughter 3 was a little angel!  Sitting on her chair, looking through the lenses at the light with only occasional hesitation.  Then - and this is where I'm really going to brag - the doctor brought forward the scope with the little chin plate, and hesitantly asked me if I thought she would put her chin on the plate.  At which point without any prompting she stood up on the chair, leaned forward and put her chin on the plate.  Clever girl!
When that was finished, so was she...  She wasn't interested in the doctor talking to mummy about the new glasses she would get, so I missed most of what he said.  I asked if these ones would be tinted, and he said we could just keep on using our other tinted ones for outside, as she'd need ones for inside that weren't tinted.  "We don't have any tinted glasses," I said.  "Oh, then we'll make these ones tinted, and you can use her old pair for indoors!"  Joy.
So, now she will have some cool dark glasses to impress everyone with, to go with her startlingly white hair.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Magic Moment - Baby Smiles

One of the things I love about breastfeeding is the sheer gratitude my four month old baby expresses to me for what only I can give him.  There's the little smile, encouraging me, eyes alight, when I say "Do you want some milk" and he sees me starting to get ready.  Then, there is either the contented sleep that he sinks into in such bliss when he has finished his feed or - more and more now as he gets older - the little coo and warm smile that says, "Thank you, mummy, that was just what I needed".  And I think, "Thank you, my little man, that smile is just what I needed too!"

Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Power of the Microphone

I remember being struck once by the change that comes over people when you hand them a microphone.  A shy, hesitant person can be transformed (if you can get them to take it in the first place) into someone who will not stop talking.  I suppose it has to do with hearing their own voice, and realising that they are actually heard, they don't have to make an effort to fight against the noise around them.  I guess the same is true in Karaoke, ask someone to just sing and they'll struggle, hand them a microphone and they'll sing, even if it's out of tune.  That's my experience anyway.

I sang a solo of a hymn at my wedding.  I had never sung a solo before - it's not the kind of thing I do, but I needed to do this.  When I stood in the church for the first time to practise, I was very nervous.  As soon as I was handed the microphone, however, I felt different, and I belted out the hymn.  This was to the relief of my fiance who had been concerned for two reasons - (1) he didn't know the song and was worried I would embarrass him singing something sentimental (he's a northerner) and (2) because he'd never heard me sing before!  The point is the microphone empowered me.

I feel like Blogs do the same thing - and social media in general too, I suppose.  People speak, and when they realise they are listened to (if they are listened to), they speak some more.  In the 'real world' our voices can get drowned out, but here - if we are found amidst the many - we have the stage, we have the microphone and our voice is clear.  Some of it will be pointless, some of the time perhaps I should have kept quiet, but some of the time I hope I will share things with people that they will be enriched by, and so I have made good use of my voice.

I will set myself one rule though - don't hog the microphone.  I will look for other voices to listen to.

Friday, 26 July 2013

This Means War... Chicken Run the Sequel

Ever seen Chicken Run?  I sometimes think I should have taken notes...  About three months ago we got six Black Rock chickens.  Goldie (with lots of golden feathers), Gertrude/Gertie (with a golden chest) and four others that go by Clucky, Pecky, Miss Nosey and Broody, but have no distinguishing features.  My husband had bought and built a palatial chicken coop with run for their residence and for the first few days this is where they lived.  They were then allowed out into a pen:

They swiftly learnt how to fly over the fences (yes, I know they're too low!)  After a month or so we gave up and let them have the run of the garden...  They have since learnt how to escape from the garden to go foraging in the the grass down our lane.  Barricades have been established with varying degrees of success.  Fortunately we've trained them to come running to the cry of "Chickens!", as they get food.
The other day I'd had enough of the muck (see Meltdown post) and so we attempted to restrict the chickens to the wild lower part of the garden, again with varying degrees of success.  My son takes great delight in catching escaped chickens and 'gently' throwing them back into their area.  At which point they simply saunter to the nearest gap in the fence and return.


Peppa Pig

I am a huge fan of Peppa Pig - it's one of the few children's programmes that I am quite content to watch over and over again.  Since Daughter 3 has developed an obsession with Peppa Pig now (following solidly in the footsteps of her three siblings), this is probably just as well.  I love the fact that Peppa is a bossy little madam, that George is a genius at everything he tries.  I enjoy the stories too - simple, 'educational' in the subtlest ways, funny, even insightful at times.  I love the little 'Peppa-isms' that my children come out with.
Earlier I was momentarily shaken out of my comfortable enjoyment, however.  Daughter 3 - two years old - put a plastic bag over her head.  I ripped it off with shouts of "Dangerous!!!"  She started to cry (understandable really) and said "Suzie Sheep!" and my heart sank.  Somewhere in her two year old mind she has confused Suzie Sheep wearing a mask with the bag-over-head concept.  I in no way blame Peppa Pig for this, children put things over their heads, round their necks and do other dangerous things without any assistance - and we poor parents can only do our best to be alert to those moments and try to head them off.  But how do I explain the difference to a two year old?
Still, we will go on enjoying Peppa Pig (especially those episodes before they had seat belts!) and I will just have to try to stay ahead of things.  At least she hasn't asked me when she will become a god...  That was Daughter 2 - aged 4 - after watching Hercules.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Babies on display

I wasn't going to post on the Royal Baby - goodness knows there's enough comment already!  But I can't help myself (smiles).  I have to talk about My Babies...

I felt such sympathy for The Duchess of Cambridge (who am I to call her Kate?) having to face that crowd (and the millions watching through the cameras like me!) just after having a baby.  What new mother wants to go through that?  And then I thought that, actually - given the time to make myself look a little presentable - there is nothing I would have loved more than to hold my precious baby (all five times!) up to the awed gaze of the world and say "Look!  Look how wonderful my baby is!"  Then I'd have wanted to disappear and just enjoy my baby all to myself (and my family, of course).

When we had our third baby we took her to the supermarket on her second day in the world and my husband carried this tiny little person around in the crook of his arm delighting in every coo and gasp when he proudly announced how brand new she was!
I still love to have people comment on my children (and when you have five, aged 4 months to 7 years, you get noticed) - as long as it's positive, of course!!!  They are a beautiful bunch (if I do say so myself - and oh how I love the "Aren't they beautiful - they look just like you!" comments), and when we lived in Gibraltar their blond hair caused strangers to stop in the streets to gaze at them, want to chat and reach out and touch their hair (this is Gib, where such things are unremarkable!).  Now the comments are more often directed at me - "Are these all yours?  Wow, well done you!" - I had that on Tuesday while in town with all of them.

I have never minded 'sharing' with the world in this way.  I don't mind being an object of comment - although I'll grant that my experience is on a very small level.  When I've been pregnant, I have never felt offended by the well meaning comments and questions of complete strangers.  I see pregnancy, raising a family, even marriage to be 'society' parts of my life.  Hmm.  I think I may have to think about this a bit and post on that some other time - otherwise this will become a very long and very philosophical post!

Competition - Winner washes up

It seems competition is a useful thing in a family.
This week, as a family, we have been taking some time each morning to tidy up (it's something to do and stops us drowning under mess during the holidays - I understand that some of you won't need this explanation for tidying every day, but anyone who knows me will!).  Anyway, on Monday, my son asked if he could do the washing up - he likes playing with water, I guess.  My second daughter (middle child) then complained that she never gets to do the washing up, so I promised she could do it yesterday.  It took her an hour to do just a bowl full, since she's only four, but she stuck at it faithfully and was rewarded with chocolate.  This morning she asked if she could do the washing up again (bearing in mind that the tidying done by the others yesterday was minimal) and I agreed.  At which point my eldest daughter complained that she hadn't had a chance to do the washing up yet.  "It's my turn tomorrow, then!" she declared.
Now, I recognise that washing up is more fun that other types of cleaning / tidying for a child (they also enjoy vacuuming in my experience, but are very bad at it), but it seems peculiar to me that there would be such an insistence on them each having their turn - especially since it's currently the only chore having to be done.
Got to love child logic!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Joys of Buses

As a non-driver for much of my life I have always been a fan of public transport.  Growing up in London I often wondered why people bothered driving.  At various times - when I have lived outside of London - I considered learning to drive.  With children that desire increased until finally, pregnant with child number five and having moved to rural Wales, I got myself some lessons and passed my test after the baby was born!  Hurrah!  Unfortunately the expensive nature of car insurance for new drivers has left me without the opportunity to use my new skills for two months.  So, with the summer holidays here it's still public transport for me and I must say I have few regrets.
Riding a rural bus is a special thing.  Assuming you can cope with the infrequency issue (2 hours minimum between buses on my route), it's really quite pleasant to sit back and watch the beautiful Welsh country side flash by (and it does go by pretty fast as the bus speeds around the windy roads I learnt to drive on).
The children enjoy it too - the adventure of sitting on the double chairs without mummy or all on the back row of seats so we can be together seems to be appreciated.  There are no complaints about seat-belts (a definite plus when you're travelling at 60mph), in fact my two year old will look at me askance and say 'Mummy, twee bel' - 'Two Boats?' I asked.  She frowns, 'Mummy, twee bel!!' emphatically.  Oh, 'Mummy Seat Belt', and so I must put on my seat belt too, despite the baby in the sling making this awkward.  They chatter, but their voices aren't as annoying as they can be in the car because of the space and the noise of the bus thundering along the roads.  We wave at their school as we go past - my son tells me this is the way to swimming, as if we didn't drive this way most weeks in the car with Daddy.
All is tranquil and I feel a surprising glow of happiness.  I'm not sure why this is really.  Surely the inconvenience of having to balance baby, two year old, buggy and bag while climbing onto a bus would make it stressful, especially today when I had the three older children with me.  Surely having to time our trip around the bus timetable should make it more effort than it's worth.  But no.  I can't help it.  I love travelling by bus.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Quiet time...

Several years ago - just after I had my second child - a friend was explaining how she had coped with four children while her Padre husband was away for six months with the military.  One of her most useful suggestions was called Quiet Time.  Every afternoon her older three children would have an hour or so of alone time.  They could choose to do almost anything they liked - sleep, read, play - but they stayed in their separate space.  No computers, no television.  It wasn't a punishment.  It was just the routine.  When my eldest started not needing very long afternoon naps, I decided to try it, and she responded really well.  This was particularly useful as I was pregnant with No. 3 and living in Gibraltar where a siesta was definitely a plus.
Unfortunately when my second child stopped taking regular naps he wasn't of a temperament to continue this pattern without a struggle, and I kind of gave up on the idea.  Today, however, we revived it.  With six weeks ahead of us, five children and me, we really need some alone time, I think.  So, when Daughter 3 went for her nap, the elder three children were 'invited' to take some Quiet Time.  Predictably, Daughter 1 went happily to her room to read, and Son 1 and Daughter 2 opted to 'play quietly' outside - not coping well with being told to be alone.  For a while this was acceptable, and then finally Son 1 went to his room to play with Lego, leaving Daughter 2 miserable and alone.  She has since been sitting doing colouring and trying to learn how to do this.  There's still a bit of time left before Daughter 3 wakes up, and so far it's been a good start.  Hopefully we'll all settle comfortably into the routine in the next days.
If nothing else it will give me time with the baby.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Meltdown

Just had my first emotional meltdown in quite a while - crying while doing the washing up!  It all started over chicken muck - which is all over our grass in the garden at the moment because we have truly free range chickens.  This wouldn't be so bad, but it means the children are running around getting it on their feet, because they're not wearing shoes in this weather, and then treading it into the house.  Add to that the stress of two-year old initiated potty training and a series of minor infections and injuries for the children and I start calling myself a bad mother and wondering how I will cope over the summer holidays without our normal routines.
Immediately darling husband starts to suggest solutions - spend loads of money penning the chickens into the lower garden, moving to a less country style house, getting rid of the chickens....  But it's not about the chickens, or even the mess, it's about me worrying about the health of the children and wondering if my laid back attitude to dirt is actually harmful, worrying about their emotional health and if they have enough real experience of my love.  My solutions are therefore more manic - insist the children wash hands every five minutes, check them over for dirt, infection and worries, regimentally plan every moment in our lives so that I feel in control.
But I know that's neither going to happen nor work if it did.  What I need is to feel strong again, to know that I can be a good mother - that I am a good mother.  That despite the frequent whining, the children are happy, despite the odd minor injury they are healthy, and despite the chaos all around some days, everything comes together somehow by the Grace of God!  Of course there's also learning to laugh at the crisis - for example my two year appearing from the garden a moment ago covered in her own poo...  How she managed it I don't know - why the other four with her didn't notice I can imagine.  Still, crisis over and we live to fight and laugh another day.

Breakfast in the Holidays

It's the first day of the holidays - 'whoohoo!'  Of course, 6.45am is when Daughter No. 2 is up and chatting.  This is useful, however, as she can be tasked with letting the chickens out of the coop so Daddy doesn't have to get up.  It's about half an hour before I have to stir myself to get Daughter No. 3 out of her cot, although I've been feeding Baby Son No. 2, so I've been awake.
During term time mornings used to be a bit frantic 'Eat breakfast, get dressed, where are your shoes?  Have you brushed your hair?  Right, we have to go NOW!'  Strangely though, the hour and a half we allow for all of this has become far too much time since the baby was born.  How does that work?  I suppose it's because the children are getting more and more independent.  The older three can mostly get themselves dressed (with a bit of help for the four year old) and they can organise their own breakfasts to a certain degree (I must look into getting small milk bottles to avoid the arguments when I don't want them to pour from the 4 pint carton).  After that there isn't all that much that really needs to be done.  Of course, there is still the frantic last five minutes when I realise that despite everyone 'being ready 'for an hour, at least one of them doesn't know where their shoes are.  Every now and again I dream up organised systems - all shoes and hats in the same place, coats on hooks, book bags somewhere we'll find them again in the chaos!  Inevitably nothing is where it 'should' be, but we're getting better and I don't think anything will ever stop my children from loosing things, dawdling or getting distracted - except maturity, I suppose.
So now it's the holidays and we don't have to get dressed yet.  Breakfast has been consumed and the cries for snacks have yet to start.  For a moment we can relax and enjoy this new time.  But routine is important for children, so I'll have to stir myself over the next weeks to ensure that we have some kind of rhythm to our day.  Not today, though.  Not yet, anyway.  The squabbles haven't started yet.

Friday, 19 July 2013

School's Out!

I'm not very good at the 'buy a present for the teacher' thing that seems to be the norm these days.  We tried to make some homemade fudge/cake and put them in containers decorated by the children, but it all went a bit wrong, so no present from my three this year!  My sister is a teacher and mum a nursery nurse, and they always get loads of presents, some of them surprisingly expensive, and some of them with the category 'it's the thought that counts'.  I know they're happy with anything they receive, and I'm sure they wouldn't be particularly concerned if they didn't get anything.
I feel slightly uncomfortable with the whole concept.  Not the idea of giving presents, but the fact that people seem to spend so much money on something that should be a gesture - and a one from the children!
Anyway...  In other news...
Daughter No. 3 has decided that she is not wearing nappies any more.  This, of course, is very clever at barely 2 years old, but somewhat stressful with a small baby around as well.  She has now gone down for her afternoon nap (chocolate button bribe in addition to chocolate button reward for use of toilet) and refused a 'just in case' nappy.  Oh well, sheets can be washed and the sun is shining!  Baby - Son No. 2 - is awake, but has been happily bouncing in his chair for the last half hour.  I suspect this is due to a lovely surprise for mummy in his nappy.  I'm tempted to let him enjoy it a little longer, but that would be bad parenting, I guess.  I wonder what is so enjoyable?
No bread in the house for when the others get home from school, so I thought I'd make some rolls.  I use the breadmaker to make the dough and then use this to make the rolls and bake them in the oven.  When the dough finished a while ago I was too busy to deal with it, so decided to just bake a loaf in the breadmaker.  Always a bad idea to try this.  Just smelt the bread cooking before it had risen so have turned it all off to give it a chance to rise.  Hmm.  There may be no bread later.
Chickens are basking in their dirt baths in the sun.  We're down to 4 eggs out of 6 and I think another one is getting broody!  Poor things.  I shall go feed them some left over sweetcorn in a minute.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Beginning

Today is probably not the best day to begin this blog...  Chances are I won't get much chance to post in the next weeks as the Summer Holidays consume our lives, but this is the best time to make sure I am being positive about life!

I choose to look forward to having all my children home during the day.  I know that if we're all going to enjoy ourselves in the next six weeks, however, I need to do some planning.  So here are some thoughts.

1. Plan out each day.  That doesn't mean every minute has to be filled, but we're going to need to have some things to work around, and not all of them have to be fun.  This is what I think the 'normal' days will look like:

Breakfast
Time of tidying and cleaning
Rewarded with - Sweets, cakes, biscuits! and for mummy too!
Group activity - Drawing / Craft / Cooking / Something?
Lunch
Nap time for the smallest two and quiet time for the eldest three
One choice each on the iplayer
General play time
Dinner
DVD or iplayer
Bed for the smallest and quiet play for the eldest

2. Head off confrontations by bribing the eldest to good behaviour

3. Plan days out of the house as treats - set up reward charts to earn these

4. Pray every morning for grace, energy and peace!

5. Go to bed early so I don't resent being woken at the crack of dawn in the holidays.

Those are my thoughts.  Time to get to work.