Friday, June 29, 2012

Farmer Boys

I went out this evening to watch the boys milk. They are awesome! Bean can do it so fast. He complains about having to do it twice a day every single day, but he does a really good job. He and Fish have a good system where Fish helps with the goat wrangling while Bean does most of the actual milking.  This evening we got close to a full gallon of milk from one single milking, so that means production is gradually increasing!






The girls like to come out and help too.  Roo is very good at many of the milking tasks, such as disinfecting the teats.  The Rabbit tends to get in the way most of the time, but she is learning to do some useful things like refilling the feed bowl.  And she's awfully cute...
 


I love to see my kids having these experiences!  Someday they'll thank me for them, right?  :)
 
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More Kid Creativity

The kids have also had a renewed interest in Wikki Stix lately... today they made patriotic fashion accessories.

  
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Fish the Architect

Bean had to draw a floor plan of our house for his Webelos Engineer activity badge. I wasn't sure if he really understood the concept of a floor plan, so I dug around in the garage and found some old house plan books. When I was a teenager I used to LOVE to look at house plans and imagine houses I would live in someday. I especially loved the Southern Living magazine's books of house plans. I still have some of these and it was really fun to get them out. The kids latched onto the books and went nuts. They quickly found their dream houses-- several times over. And then they started designing their dream houses. Fish, particularly, has gotten into this and it's so fun to see what he comes up with.

  
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Building Badger

One of the things that really amazes me about my Badger is his ability to just go build something. I would have to have a detailed plan and measure everything a million times, but if he wants to make something he just goes and makes it.

He's been storing hay on top of the little goat shelter he built in the stable awhile back, but he was having problems with the chickens hanging out on top of the hay and covering it with their droppings.  So he made this little cage thing to keep them out of the hay.  

 

The door swings open for easy loading/unloading.  Very clever!
 
 
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The Kids' Garden

I'm very pleased with how well the kids are taking care of their garden. It really helps that these raised beds minimize the work, especially the weeding, making it not so overwhelming for them. They are so proud of their plants, especially when we pick and eat something they grew!
 
 
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Disappearing Text

I've had some trouble lately with Blogger.  Among other minor things, twice now my text has disappeared after I've published a post.  I write a nice long entry to go with my photos and then it's just not there.  I am sorry if you have been confused!

I just went back and added some text to the post with the pictures of Mexican food.  It's not what it was before, but at least you'll have some idea of why I posted those pictures. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Smoothie Goodness


Summer heat has dropped on us like an anvil.  We were spoiled most of June, and then all of the sudden it was in the triple digits.  Here we go again...

Every day I put a bunch of frozen fruit in the blender.  Then I pour in goat milk up to the top.  I add a little swirl of honey, then I blend. 

  
 




It helps...
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Mexican Goodness

It was Mexican Add-on week at Bountiful Baskets recently.   This means that in addition to all the yummy fruits and vegetables in my regular basket I could get a bag full of the kind of veggies you use in Mexican cooking: tomatillos, cilantro, garlic, onions, limes, avocados, various types of peppers....



I adore Mexican food, and I've gotten to the point where I can cook it better than your average Mexican restaurant, especially with this basket stuff.   This kinda takes the fun out of eating out, unless you can go somewhere like the Red Iguana in Salt Lake City!  But it does add to the fun of eating in!  Here's dinner the other night:

  
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

For Want of a Shoe...

From time to time I hear women at church say something like, "when I was young and newly married I used to look at the big families coming into church and think 'when I have several children we are not going to be like that.  We will not be late.  All the kids will be neatly dressed. The girls will be in matching dresses and their hair will be perfectly done.'"  And then they admit that once they started having kids they realized what the mothers of big families all know: that you're lucky just to get to church at any point with everyone decent.

Sunday is an interesting day in that regard.  It's not about what people think, it's about putting your best foot forward for the Lord.  It's the one event we show up to each week where I really try to have everyone looking their best as a sign of reverence and respect for God.  And sometimes it's fun to do the girls' hair or have matching clothes.  But no matter how hard I try, it never completely comes together.

With six people under my scrutiny on Sunday morning (that includes me), there are just too many details and too little time.  Dresses, tights, slips, hair bows, shoes, ponytail holders, ties, pressed white shirts, scripture totes, nylons, jewelry, hair combed, nails trimmed, teeth brushed, shirts tucked in... Even though the older kids are pretty independent I still have to give everyone a final look-over and then usually get involved in some remedial effort. 

The Badger has leadership meetings during the hour before church starts, so the children and I are supposed to meet him there a few minutes before the meeting starts. 

I try really hard.  We typically get there during the opening hymn, which I think is pretty good for someone in my situation.  And usually most everyone is fairly well dressed.

There is always something though, usually several little somethings.  Often, the boys "forget" their ties on purpose because they don't like to wear them.  Often I just forget to comb the girls' hair.  That kind of stuff.   

Then there are the more interesting situations, the kind we will laugh about at future family gatherings.  One week we were all ready to go (early!) and as we were loading in the car I asked Fish to please move his bike to the shed.  He somehow managed to get mud all over the front of his pants in the process.  I somehow didn't notice until we were on our way to church.  There was nothing to do but go to church with muddy pants.

Another week I was pretty pleased with myself for getting everyone ready and to church before the meeting started.  The Rabbit had refused to wear her tights for some reason, but I was feeling okay about that because she had a pair of cute sandals that matched her dress.  Then after we got seated in the chapel I discovered that she had neglected to put anything at all on her lower body.  (So like her!)  Luckily someone has left a stash of Pull-Ups in the mother's lounge, so I went and got her fixed up, but I missed the opening of the meeting.

But nine times out of ten my difficulty is shoes.  Almost every week we are all ready to go except at least one person can't find at least one shoe.  Sometimes it's even me.  

Every child has a special place in their closet designated for their Sunday clothes, including their shoes.  In the case of the girls, their closet is even locked to keep these items from being played with.  When we come home from church I have them immediately change and put all these things away so that they will, in theory, be ready and waiting for them next Sunday.  But somehow it never quite works that way, especially with the shoes, and we always end up with a Sunday morning shoe hunt.  Once they're all found, chances are someone will be missing a lace and someone else will complain that their shoes are too small and want me to look in storage for a bigger size.

Last week when we got to church Bean was wearing his sandals, Fish was wearing his dirty tennis shoes, and Roo was wearing no shoes at all.  The Badger had told Bean to wear his sandals because he thought my old Doc Martens looked dorky, and then I told Bean to go change because I thought his sandals with black socks looked even more dorky than my Docs, but when I went to grab him the Docs I found laces missing.  (???)  In Roo's case, we found FOUR different shoes for her-- each one from a separate pair-- but we couldn't find a match for a single one of them and they were too different for her to wear a mismatched set.  I don't know what Fish's deal was; he has two pair of Sunday shoes right now.  Oh well, we made it to church after all!  And I bet most people didn't notice. 

This week we totally would have been on time if it hadn't been for missing shoes.  Instead we were ten minutes late and barely made it on time for the Sacrament.  I am considering a special locked chest for church shoes. 

I know every veteran mother has stories like these.  I've heard some from my friends that blow my little difficulties out of the water.  I know a lot of you are thinking of your own experiences as you read this (and I hope you're laughing about them!)

So, to all you young women out there who are shocked by my kids' wrinkled clothes, cowlicks, stains, and filthy fingernails on Sunday, let me just say.... your turn is coming!

Friday, June 22, 2012

What Happened to Normal Clothes?

Please forgive me for this little rant...

When I was pregnant with Bean I went to Motherhood Maternity in the mall and bought a couple of basic sold-color t-shirts.  All these years later I still have them, but they're getting a little stained, so I decided to go back and get a couple more.

The basic maternity t-shirt no longer exists, folks.  Well, they have what they call a basic t-shirt, but the fabric is tissue-thin, the style is designed to be skin-tight, and the neckline is beyond scandalous.  The "basic" maternity t-shirts at Target and Old Navy are the same way. 

I suppose I could wear such a shirt if I bought a huge size so it wasn't so tight and layered it with something underneath to make it decent.  I don't mind a little layering like that when it's a cute shirt that I want to wear when I'm going out and about and want to look a little more put-together.

But when I get up in the morning and am facing a day of dishes, laundry, working in the garden, and chasing kids, I don't want to layer.  I don't want to have to constantly worry about where my neckline is shifting and what is visible when I bend over.  I just want a plain old shirt.

The available selection for maternity across the board is terribly small.  But surely someone should sell just a plain old shirt for pregnant people.

So then I'm thinking "okay, forget the plain old shirt, but I can surely find a couple of shirts to wear when I'm going places... maybe something for church?"  

I'm sorry, but we all pretend we like what's fashionable, but many of the clothes they're making these days are downright ugly.  Ten, fifteen years ago we wouldn't have used them to line our dog beds and now we say "oh look, isn't this cute?" just like a herd of lemmings.  Most of them are not cute.  I'm sorry.  They're just not. 

So now I search the racks at Motherhood and everything looks just horrifying and the helpful salesperson is doing her darndest to find something to sell me so she brings me about 20 shirts to try on and I reject every single one of them because they're too tight, too low-cut, and too ugly.  

I am frustrated and appalled.  Here I am reading this book about how sacred motherhood is and during this incredibly important and spiritual time in my life all the major clothing retailers want me to look like a you-know-what object.  Why can't I be attractive and feminine and modest?


*****************

Okay, after I wrote that I decided to Google "modest maternity clothes" and I turned up some interesting results.  One is a website called The Modest Clothing Directory which has resources for all kinds of modest clothing for all ages.  This has taken me to a number of websites which have given me some hope.

Two little problems though: I am tough to fit when I am pregnant-- I have about the worst figure type imaginable and I don't like buying things without trying them on.  I don't want to pay to have to mail a bunch of stuff back.  The other problem is that these clothes are pricier.  One site, Lilo Maternity, has my basic crewneck t-shirts, but they are running in the $30 range instead of the $10-$15 I was hoping for when I went shopping today.

I am thinking I am going to have to choose just a small handful of nice pieces I really love to wear places and then just wear sloppy stuff like the Badger's t-shirts around the house.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I Made Dinner!

It's pretty amazing that I actually prepared food for dinner, but what I was proud of was that it was the first time in forever that I got creative and cooked without a recipe. 

It turned out so good!  Everyone loved it. 



The day before I had sauteed all the peppers we'd picked from the garden, along with an onion, and was planning to make white chili.  But I didn't have any white beans.  I thought I would stop by the store at some point, but I don't get to the store half as often as I imagine I will.  So there we were with dinner needing to be prepared and these lovely sauteed peppers and some chicken the Badger had cooked and shredded previously, but no beans.  And then I realized I had quinoa, which has been sitting in my freezer forever because I haven't gotten used to using it, and I decided to give it a whirl. 

I made a white sauce with lots of my lovely goat milk and then I stirred in the peppers, the chicken, and the cooked quinoa.  I added cumin liberally, then garnished with cilantro from the garden and lime juice.  It was heavenly! 

Look at me!!!  I can cook!!!!



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Coming Alive

It's finally happening. 

It's not just the easing of the physical symptoms of nausea, extreme fatigue, headaches, etc.  It's that I feel like my mind is coming out of a foggy dreamland and I am starting to feel like a human being again. 

I am starting to think ahead to the future (homeschool plans!) and I'm starting to be able to think deeply about things again.  One of the ironies of the last several weeks was that despite the hours and hours I had laying in bed with little to do but read or surf the internet my brain felt like it could not grasp anything really deep or spiritual.  I confess I had difficulty with personal scripture study, and I would often zone out during prayer because I just couldn't hold my mind on anything that important for very long.  And my husband's vast collection of religious literature sadly held little appeal to me.  It would have been nice to use this time to read Talmage or McConkie or maybe even Nibley. 

The mental awakening finally started when I was notified last week of a new book published by a group of LDS childbirth educators entitled The Gift of Giving Life.  I was told it was a MUST READ, so I thought I'd briefly check out their website and see what the fuss was about.  I got completely sucked in.  Birth stories are fascinating to me whenever I'm pregnant, but birth stories mixed with profound Gospel insights on motherhood were like manna to my malnourished soul.  I'm still working through all the blog archives (and loving every minute of it) and I now have a copy of the actual book in my hands which I am reading every spare minute I have (and loving every minute of that!)  It was just what I needed after this difficult time. 

I was finally able to get in to see my midwife on Wednesday.  I realized something as I drove into the city to see her: I have seen at least a dozen midwives over the course of my mothering career (and they've all been amazing women) but this is the first time I've gone back to someone for a subsequent pregnancy. We've moved around so much that it was never really an option before. 

So I'm driving into the city and I'm remembering the drive to the hospital to have Peanut.  I pull into the parking garage I remember so well from all my prenatals with Peanut and I started to get really excited.  I go into the clinic and some of the same people are working at the front desk and that made me happy.  And then seeing my midwife again was wonderful.  I told her what a sweet and happy baby Peanut has been and we reminisced a little bit about her birth.  I was very surprised at how much she remembered, since hers is a busy practice.  She said "some births are more memorable than others."  I've been wondering ever since what exactly it was that made her remember Peanut so well...

Anyway, being there with her in the clinic it suddenly dawned on me that I am going to have a BABY!!!!!  Isn't that wonderful????  I am SO EXCITED!!!!!!! 

We listened to the heart rate (perfect) and we took a quick peek with a small ultrasound machine.  There is someone very wonderful in there.  I have felt these last weeks like I was dying.  It was so nice to see a brief glimpse of who all my energy and wellness was going into giving life to.  What an amazing, miraculous thing. 

I am so in love with this baby.  I always have been excited about the baby, but before I was of necessity so focused on the short-term that it was hard for the baby to seem very real.  Well, that baby is real, HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!

It's amazing how they always brush off the misery you've just been through.  "How've you been?"  "Sicker than I've ever been in my life."  (Sympathetic noise) "Oh, I know, it's tough.  Alright, I'm going to listen to your heart now."  And it's so strange to me that despite how difficult things have been over the last few months everything medically looks just fantastic with both me and the baby, for which I am profoundly grateful.  I had a whole pile of blood tests done and the only thing that came back abnormal was my Vitamin D, which is pathetically low.  (Um... I've spent the last few months curled up in my bedroom with sheets over the windows!) 

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to finally be able to enjoy my pregnancy and be excited about it.  I still have some periods of sickness and fatigue (this evening was a little rough) but now I can better visualize that vibrant and active little critter in there and feel that happy euphoric feeling again.  The baby's alive, and I'm alive too, and life is wonderful.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Get in Line...

We need to get another laying box. Right now during peak laying time the laying box looks like a ladies room during intermission.  Get in line, ladies, the stalls are full!

 
 
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Surreally Wonderful

My garden is growing perfectly lately.  It's almost creepy.  All my garden experiences in Oklahoma have been something like a Shakespeare tragedy: full of fierce, bloody battles and tragic untimely death.  

So far this year, everything is doing exactly what it's supposed to and growing like mad.  Take a look:




Roo is so excited about the ripening tomatoes on my grape tomato plant.  All the other tomato plants have tons of green tomatoes, but so far this is the only one we've been able to harvest off.

 Look!  Baby watermelons!  Cuteness!
 


Look!  Mint, lavender cilantro, basil and happy geraniums!!!  I'm especially excited about the cilantro.  I've had a hard time growing it before and even this time only one plant germinated, but it's doing so well!


Look!  Rosemary, marigolds, blooming bee balm, a Rabbit, and scenic background goats!


Look!  We're eating bell peppers, cucumbers, and Anaheim peppers! THAT WE GREW OURSELVES!!!!!
 


I certainly don't take any of this for granted.  Any and all of it may disappear at any moment.  But if it does, I will be glad for everything we were able to get!

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Monday, June 18, 2012

An Oklahoma Evening

This has been a beautiful spring and early summer in Oklahoma.  Plenty of rain, mild temperatures, lots of butterflies and wildflowers.... everything is green and lovely and happy. 

I must confess that there were times last summer when I thought we'd moved to purgatory... I read a recent news article that stated that after closer study of the climate data for last summer, Oklahoma trumps Texas for the title of "Hottest Summer on Record for any state EVER" for the summer of 2011.  How fun! 

But lately I have been enjoying Oklahoma.  I am apprehensive with July and August around the corner, but I am trying to just enjoy each day right now where it feels like Summer and not like Hades. 

The other night the kids and I sat out on the porch with a bag of chips and watched the fireflies come out.  I continue to be absolutely enchanted by fireflies.  I just can't get enough of them. 

As we sat there, suddenly an owl swooped over our house and flew to the trees across the road, where he began hooting enthusiastically.  The swoop happened so fast, and yet for just the split second we saw him he was unmistakably an owl and we felt that we had experienced the presence of an almost magical life force. 

Awhile later, a large toad joined us on the porch, looking for dinner.  And I thought, you know, someday I am really going to miss this place. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Daddy Badger





I hope my Badger had a good Father's Day.  If anyone deserves it, it's him.  He has been a father extraordinaire above and beyond the call of duty, especially lately.

He even made me pizza yesterday.

I am not kidding.  Soon after I posted that post about pizza Roo shows up in my room with a plate of homemade pizza for me.  I didn't even know that he was making it!  It tasted heavenly. I ate six (small) pieces.

Anyway, I managed to drag myself to the grocery store last night, and this morning I was able to coach the kids through making awesome breakfast sandwiches for their Dad.  They scrambled eggs, put them on toasted English muffins, and then topped them with ham and cheese.  He loved it (and was totally surprised!) so at least we were able to do that for him.

I bought him a book on cheese making and a cheese making kit.  I hope he likes it.  It seems a completely inadequate gift for this man who is everything to us and who has cheerfully done everything for us these last few weeks.

Happy Father's Day, Badger!
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pizza...

All I can think about lately is pizza. 

Good pizza, bad pizza, healthy pizza, greasy pizza, I don't care.  I just want it for every meal. 

We do end up eating it quite a bit, but not often enough for my craving.  There aren't very many options for pizza for a family as large as ours without us blowing our budget.  Every time we go to Sam's Club we get one of their pizzas,but that's only a couple times a month.  Every time I go into town I stop at a little local place that makes a pretty tasty and very affordable pie, but I don't go into town very often these days.  And any time I am anywhere near a Papa Murphy's (WHY can't there be one close to me?) I stop, but that happens so rarely.

But there are so many times when I'm laying in bed hungry (I'm always hungry) dreaming of pizza and I just can't get any.  Too much work to load everyone up and drive somewhere to get even frozen pizza from the grocery store.  Waaaah!  

Ask my mom how many times I've called her lately and cried for a pizza.  My poor mother has been so patient with me. 

Pizza is one of the few joys in my life right now.  Physically I am almost always in pretty bad shape, but when I have a slice of pizza in my hand everything seems like it's going to be okay. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Goat Tales

Tale Number One: The Delta Goat

The Badger has never been able to remember the names of our four original goats.  It was rather confusing the way we changed them around and mixed them up, so I don't blame him. 

So he did what any pilot would do:  he began calling the goats Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta.  The rest of us still call three of them Annabelle, Mabel, and Daisy.  But the Delta Goat has stuck.

The Delta Goat is the one that didn't get pregnant when we took our herd to be bred last fall.  For whatever reason it didn't stick with her, so while the other three goats spent the winter growing babies she spent the winter growing big and fat and obnoxious.

She has become something of a character, and the Badger often comes in from the barnyard saying "the Delta Goat this" or "the Delta Goat that" and we think that it's very amusing having a Delta Goat on the property.


Tale Number Two:  Milking Solo

We are now milking twice a day and the boys are now able to milk by themselves, which is a huge load off the Badger.  When he goes to work he is gone for at least 13 hours at a time, so it helps to have the boys able to do one milking totally without him.  I have learned that there can be some flexibility in the "milk every 12 hours" rule-- up to a couple of hours either way, but we've also learned that the longer you wait and the more engorged the udders are the crankier the goats are about getting milked.   The boys have a hard time dealing with Annabelle when she's engorged, so this motivates them to not procrastinate the milking.  This is really helpful because my boys, like typical human children, prefer to be lazy and irresponsible.  Which is one of the main reasons we got the goats: to teach them hard work and responsibility. 

We milk at about 8 am and 8 pm and at each milking we currently get about 2 liters of milk.  From what I understand this is not a terribly high yield, but it's enough that we still have more milk than we know what to do with.  We're working on adapting to a diet high in milk.  We've never been big milk drinkers and the Badger has dairy issues, so this is a change for us. 

Everyone who tries our milk likes it, even if they say they hate goat milk.  Most people are surprised that it tastes like "regular milk."  Some say it is sweeter, some say it is richer or creamier, and I say it's a little bit saltier.  But everyone agrees that it is good. 


Tale Number Three:  Goodbye to the Kids

Early this week the Badger sold all the kids except Brownie. Here is a last group photo, with Brownie on the far right:

We had planned on keeping the girls, Millie and Mollie, but it's so expensive to feed the dang things we figured four goats was enough for us for now.  I was kind of sad when the Badger said Millie and Mollie were gone, but it's also a relief.  It was a huge relief to have the bucklings gone because they are just a liability. 

Brownie made the most heartbreaking noises when he found he was in the kid pen all alone, especially as it got dark that evening.  We put the Delta Goat in with him to give him companionship and that quieted him down.  Goats are highly social creatures. 

And that's the reason we've kept Brownie after all: as a stud for the Delta Goat.  Once he has grown big enough to take care of that little job we will sell him too.  We are not set up to keep a buck around this place long-term, much as we love Brownie. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Gymnastics Showcase 2012

 
 
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The Growing Casualty List

I'm fifteen weeks pregnant, but I'm not feeling better yet.  Sigh.  Logically I know it has to be soon, but I feel rather defeated: none of my other pregnancies have been this debilitating, so maybe I'll be sick all nine months this time. I know that's being irrationally pessimistic, but right now I just can't tell myself I'll be feeling better by any given time because it wasn't supposed to go this long in the first place. 



The Badger is weary, but he continues on cheerfully cooking, washing dishes, and mopping sticky floors.  He deserves a trophy.  I need to get him something really nice for Father's Day. 


The kids are learning to help more.  This is a slow process and there is lots of backsliding, but there are beginning to be buds on the bushes of housework capability in their inner gardens of character. 


Still, we all see more clearly now what Mom does around here to keep the family healthy, the house clean and uncluttered, and the family finances under control, especially as the list of things that have been ruined or destroyed or wasted grows.

I call it my pregnancy casualty list, because these are the kinds of things that cut deeply and painfully into my thrifty and organized heart:
  • The jumbo package of Sam's Club chicken (3 or 4 meals worth) that got overlooked and left out on the counter all night long and so had to be disposed of
  • The very special Easter baskets which we've had for years  that should have been put back away in the Easter storage tub in the garage as soon as Easter was over but which are still being played with to the point where they are smashed, dirtied, and bereft of all ribbon adornment and really need to be thrown in the trash
  • The dress that I bought for Peanut that didn't fit which I was intending to return to the store because we really didn't have money to waste on it which then sat in the car for some time waiting for me to feel well enough to drive to the mall until one day Bean was assigned to clean out the car, when it was taken and thrown, along with a mountain of other car debris, into the washing machine-- tags and all
  • The quart of organic castile soap (6 months supply at least) which got poured down my bathtub drain last night by enterprising youngsters who were bathing themselves without me to help with the soap part of the operation like I normally do
  • The one pair of nice khaki pants I have that fit right now that I wear when I want to go anywhere looking presentable that got put in the washer with a large dark green cotton blanket and came out an interesting shade I might call "hint of mint"
And the list could go on and on-- expensive board games that got left out and the pieces scattered, toys broken, books ripped, food wasted, all because Mom has left her post. 


But this has been good for me.  I do tend to get too worked up over these kinds of things, and this is a good reminder to me that people are more important than things. 

What really matters most is that all my children are healthy and well and here with me.  I thank Heavenly Father for that every night, as well as for this new child I have the privilege of bringing into the world, who the minute I meet I am going to wonder how I ever lived without.  This baby is worth far more than a package of chicken, a pile of Easter baskets, a Gymboree dress, a bottle of soap, and a pair of pants.  This baby is even worth more than weeks and weeks of me hardly being able to get out of bed, rapidly gaining weight, and feeling like my health and vitality are at twenty percent and dropping.  There is no question that this is worth it.  There may be some discouragement that it continues to be as hard as it is, but there is also gratitude that we've made it this far and that we get to do this at all.