Sunday, December 30, 2012

Closing Down 2012

I have to say I'm glad to see this year end.

The year of unemployment.

The year our "free" medical insurance became too expensive to use. Leaving us high and dry.

The year of no dental insurance.

The year we used up what we had put away for retirement.

The year no contractors were hiring Hubs specialty because of trillions in cuts and more on the horizon.

The year I learned to hate the Dem and Rep parties equally.

The year I actually refused to respect the President just for being the President.

The year the words Hope and Change became dirty and ugly.

The last month of 2012 wasn't so bad.

It saw a paycheck for the first time in forever.

It saw all of my side of the family together for Christmas. We haven't all been together since my dad was dying.  I hadn't seen my sister in 4 years.

It gave us a look at what our non-government health care is going to be. Assuming all goes well.

And hey - someone else will be paying our share of the taxes this year. Enjoy.

2013 has the potential to be a good year. And I'm holding on to that.

A job.

Health and dental insurance.

A new home.

A new community.

Getting settled with the intent on staying put forever. (I've seen lots of intent that didn't work out that way - but I'm happy with the thought that this could be the last move.)

A chance to dig out from under the debt we have now accumulated.

So here's to hoping that 2013 posts will be much better than my 2012 posts!

A girl can dream!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Pinterest Recipe Or Pinterest Project #18

Where we are staying is pretty far from most shopping and other things. We are inbetween Hot Springs and Little Rock. Any trip to either town is pretty much an all day affair since you don't make the trip very often with the price of gas.

Crockpot meals are perfect for those days. I did bring my family cookbook with me and had my cookbook software....which all of a sudden no longer works, so I am short on crockpot recipes.

Sounds like the perfect Pinterest project 18 right? I dug up a crockpot recipe from my recipe board to try. So here you have it:

Slow Cooker Green Chicken Chili with Kale

This pin came from a blog called Nourishing Days.  I have linked to the pages so you can go read the original post.

Slow Cooker Green Chicken Chili with Kale

2 cups dried great northern beans, soaked for 24 hours in plenty of water
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon cumin
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, depending on your taste
2 (4.5 oz) cans green chilis, chopped
2 cups cooked, cubed chicken
1 bunch of kale, leaves stripped from the stalks and chopped
sea salt to taste
creme fraiche or sour cream for serving
Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Place beans in slow cooker (at least 4 1/2 quart size). Add onions, garlic, a good pinch of salt, cumin, cayenne and chicken stock to beans. Simmer the beans with this mixture in the slow cooker for 5 hours, or until tender.
Mix in the green chilis and chicken and simmer for another 2 hours. Thirty minutes before serving stir in the chopped kale. Taste for seasoning and adjust flavors with sea salt if needed (this will depend on whether or not your stock was salted).
Garnishes can include dollops of sour cream, sliced scallions and cilantro.

I really liked this recipe...but my kids were not thrilled. But if you know my kids this wouldn't surprise you. LOL. 
So if you are looking for a recipe to use your green chile this might appeal to you. I think I would use more kale next time as I liked the texture and extra green flavor it gave.
Now go check out Nourishing Days as its a great blog with great recipes.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

That's What You Do At Grandma's

Being homeless has a few advantages. Since we are in a new area and have no roots or ties to the community, this is a very very laid back Holiday Season.

Not that I am one to overschedule my holidays....its one of those important things to me that my kids don't associate the holidays with a mom that runs herself ragged and is all stressed with an over-booked schedule. Its family and fun -- not obilgations and parties for me.

But still. We have nothing this year and that feels a bit strange. We did drop in on a cousins holiday party for a few minutes. It was great to see them. They took the girls out to see the horses and fed us and it was just real nice to be with family.

Yesterday we had to get out of the rental as a realtor was showing it. So where do you go with two dogs and not a dog park in the entire area?  To grandma's, that's where.  (You have to understand that I am not one to take my dog's to someone's house...especially when they don't have animals themselves.)

And that spur of the moment play date resulted in the whole day playing outside. Mom lives in the woods and one thing she loves to do is make wreaths for the windows out of live evergreens from the forest.

So we grabbed the dogs and went for a walk with our gloves and clippers. I also had the firewood carries I made from pinterest in the trailer so I passed those out. We came back with our pines and cedar and set up shop in the garage. It was nice enough to work outside all day. Love that.
Mom showed me how to do the wreaths as I am not this kind of crafty. But I did remember a cool wreath (on pinterest of course) so I sort of winged it and tried to do what I remembered. Turned out nice. I like a more airy wreath instead of the thick kind mom was making. Then she decided she liked it airy better too and redid hers.
And 5 wreaths later we had all of them hung in the windows of the house.

And that is the danger of living close to my mom. LOL. She always has a project going on and I never know what I will end up in the middle of.  Which isn't actually a complaint, I learn alot. (I also sneezed alot this time because I'm allergic to cedar!)

And one project always leads to another so we ended up setting up some outdoor furniture for when the rest of the family arrives. Plus I trimmed the bushes in front of the house as one of the windows was covered and over-grown.

All that because I needed to leave the rental for an hour.

Its going to be a fun few months!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Pinterest Move or Pinterest Projects 11-17

I can't speak for others, but I do get use out of my pinterest boards. Most of it is practical like things for camping or stuff to sooth sore throats.

This time I got to try out pins that had to do with cleaning and such for the move. Anyone that has dealt with military housing knows that the cleaning you are required to do is no joke. And if you don't get it right, you PAY. And they can charge you and still make you clean more.

We got out without any charges or complaints. We always have. Hazard of growing up a military brat was learning at an early age how to get this done. LOL.

During the week we had to get the house ready I tried several pinterest things I want to share. Some worked, some didn't.

So here goes:

Put your phone in a glass to make the music loud enough to fill the room.. does this really work?
Yes you can really put your iphone/ipod into a glass to aplify the sound for the entire room. Once our belongings were gone and we had to spend a couple of days cleaning an empty house, I used this trick in the rooms I was in. I used a coffee/tea cup that I keep with me when I travel instead of glass and it worked just fine. I have heard of others using Solo cups even.

One of the things we come across is carpet dents, those little divots left behind by furniture legs, an easy fix for this is to place an ice-cube in the divots, let it melt on its own, and gently lift the carpet fibers with a spoon (or a coin in a pinch).
The ice cube on the crushed carpet from heavy furniture trick. Yes and yes. Worked like a charm. Some spots needed this more than once for the super heavy furniture. Wish I had known this trick years ago!  Really helped when we cleaned the carpet ourselves instead of paying someone.

How To Clean a Ceiling Fan with a Pillowcase - So useful!  Slide a pillow case over each blade and wipe them clean. The dust goes in the pillow case and can be repeated until all blades are clean. When you're done, take it outside and shake it to set those dust bunnies free once more!
Slide a pillowcase over the fan blades and pull off inside out to capture all the dirt. Works. Like a charm. Why did I not know this trick? So easy.  It helps that we have a couple of cases in our rag bin to do this with.
How to Clean a Bathroom Exhaust Fan - they are a very common cause of fires
This was a favorite. The fan in our master bath was really bad and it was really hard to clean. One can of canned air fixed the problem. You turn on the fan so it sucks up the dust and blast it. LOVED this. The amount of time it saved me was worth money!
How to clean oven glass.
How to clean oven glass. This used a baking soda and water paste. I'd say it worked pretty good but wasn't perfect. Worth doing to avoid the chemical route.** Part of the problem ended up being brown junk INSIDE the window that I thought was in the oven. Military housing. Enough said.
Erase hard water stains with a lemon and other tips to naturally clean your bathroom
The lemon on the water stained fixtures trick. I'm calling this one a fail even though that might not be correct. First, its not clean if you have lemon juice on it. Pulp is messy to shiny up after wards. Also, I still had stains. To be fair I must admit that I don't actually know if it is stains or etching of the fixture as we inherted it looking like that. Its possible that it is just etched and cannot be fixed. And it was only the master bath shower fixture that didn't come clean. I still didn't like rubbing the lemon juice and bits up.
The best oven cleaner! Cover bottom of oven with baking soda, then pour vinegar so it's all wet. Let sit around 20 minutes or so then wipe all of it out with damp cloth or sponge.  Leave oven door open.  After drying you may see some white residue, wipe again.
Baking soda and vinegar for the bottom of the oven cleaning. Works great. Now need to find something for the TOP of the oven.

And there you have it.  Six more pins put to the test. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Because No Frymark Move Goes Smooth

We made it to mom's. And she had a roast waiting and it smelled great. Coming home. Is there anything better than going home to see MOM? Seriously!


Before the hour was up our plans were coming undone. Always at the last minute right? So I had to kick into high gear. Here it is  Saturday night and I needed to find a place to stay before Tuesday morning when we were supposed to leave. Sunday is out as everything is closed. So I have Monday. One day.

Luckily, anyone that know me knows that I become a "what do we do to fix it" Natzi. And some calls were made to contacts, friends and relatives so we were ready with names and places come Monday morning.

Mom invited us to just stay with her, but I have an 8 year old and a 17 year old ( who had just been RIPPED away from a job and a boyfriend -- need I say more?) sleeping on the floor in the office.  Plus the two dogs.  This is not a dog house. No fence. No grass even. The house is in the woods.

I wanted to stay close to Mom so I was only looking in the Village. This means I was not going to end up with a fence no matter what. The rules here are extreme.

So here I am with two kids that really need to be separated and two dogs. The two dogs were an issue in a rental. And I only wanted it month by month because we have no idea how long before we can get a location figured out, etc.

Luckily this is a vacation area and it is NOT vacation season. So we started looking at places that would take a long term (30 day) lease. There were about 127 possibilities.  Throw in the 2 dogs. Now there are about 7.  Right.

To make a long story short, in the end just before we settled for a run down and bug infested two bedroom with a reasonable rent, an owner that is trying to sell also came forward with a great offer on a three bedroom. So we are ending up in a place for a little over $500 LESS than I was paying in Ohio.  That's bills and everything. One way or the other we are better off than if we had stayed in Ohio. Because I'm telling you, I was kicking myself for leaving the home we had and all our belongings and ending up in this situation in the 11th hour. It sucked.

We are quite happy with the decision with the exception of two major things.....the drive for Hubs every rotation (about 13 hours) and no fence for the dogs. Otherwise it is a beautiful home and we will be staying here close to mom until March 1. (Unless the house sells because the way I got this place is by saying if they gave me a rock bottom rate I would let them out of the lease if there was someone that wanted to buy the place.)

So our adventure changes. As usual. And now the girls and I are hanging out in a vacation home (well, starting Dec. 1) for a few months.  Love the fact that when we are done I don't have to clean the place. LOL. That's what the cleaning fee is for. (Happy!)

So things should level out a long as nothing goes wrong with training for Hubs. Not that we expect that, but with the slaps we have taken the last 12 months I would not be shocked to be sucker punched again. Just sayin.

And now begins the getting address changes in, getting into the new place, prepping for Christmas (I brought my quilting stuff with me!) and getting back into a homeschool schedule.

It feels good.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Taking One For the Team OR Truck Stop Showers

One of the funniest parts of our trip was a comment I made about trying out truck stop showers....which resulted in all kinds of conversation. One friend said her girls were dying to know what it was like, and then others joined in. There were requests for pictures even! So I thought it would be fun to go ahead and do it -- even though I was KIDDING! LOL!

On the morning of the third day, I woke up really, really early. And I was stinky.  We were all stinky actually so the trailer was not a fresh smelling living space.  Just sayin'.

We were also only 150 miles from my mother's house.  And it was rather the 20's.  So I chickened out. No shower.  I grabbed my bathroom bag to go do the max you can get away with in a bathroom and headed inside.

A funny thing happened when I reached for a tube of toothpaste to buy before heading into the bathroom.  I smelled myself.

Oh hell no! (Sorry young ears, but it was really that bad!)

So I also walked over and grabbed a sweat shirt and headed back to the shower area. Unprepared and without a camera -- so sorry, no pictures. (It was much too cold to track all the way back out to the trailer in the truck lot.)

** I just found pictures on the TA site for where we stopped.

I had to be walked through it. I went to the shower area first where the attendant tried to help me. I didn't have a ticket. Where do I get a ticket. At that point another girl came in and she took me to the ticket machine.  Loyalty card? No? Okay. Cash or credit? Okay.

My friends. $12 to take a shower.

Of course at this point I was committed and I would have paid $20 to wash off the funk. So I paid. The good news is if we had half a clue all of us could have gone in and showered which would have made it $3 each and less of a sucker punch. LOL!

But back to the showers.  I can't say if where we were - a TA - is average or what. I can tell you these showers were NICE! Marble walls, very clean, plenty of towels and a bath mat.  And they are cleaned between each use so there can be a wait.

Still, don't forget your safety gear -- shower shoes. I used crocs. Thank goodness I was too lazy to put on shoes before coming in or I would have been showering in socks, which is gross.

These showers had two areas. Regular sink/toilet area and shower area. Plenty of room. There was soap. Since I had my bag I had my shampoo and razor and all that handy.

I only have two complaints.

1.  The temperature fluctuates.  It did get nice and hot and had a steady, nice pressure.

2. It has a huge mirror and I got a good look at myself after only having a medicine cabinet for 3 years.  Shudder.  Just, shudder.

Sorry I don't have my own picture, but hey, there will still be months before we are able to find a new home so all is not lost.....except my truck stop shower virginity. Which was painless.

Too bad the rest of the day went down hill from there.

Only about 150 miles to travel and in that time we had:

1 very large and scary spider running loose in the van which made Mouse scream in terror and cry for about an hour. Songbird tried to get it but we were packed to the hilt and it was IN THERE somewhere. Why didn't we stop? Because....

A 2 1/2 hour traffic jam. Only covered about 7 miles with a stupid detour. Never did figure out why it became such a parking lot so many times.

1 Chinese fire drill in the middle of the 2 1/2 hour traffic jam. Songbird and I had several cups of tea for breakfast so it was bound to catch up with us in the jam. Murphy's Law. So, since Songbird has her license, I told her to jump into the drivers seat when I jumped out. Then I jumped into the trailer and used the bathroom. Then we switched.  Yes we did. And I'm sorry but that was the best thing EVER!!!!!!!!

Finally we made it to mom's in one piece.

But very shortly after arriving our plans went south. But that is another story for another day.

Today was all about the shower.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Our First Full Day Homeless

So to continue on the beginning of our saga. Our second day of travel went really great. Hubs was feeling much more confident in his abilities with hauling the trailer. Weather and traffic were cooperative.

We did hit one snag when the Dobie got loose at a truck stop. The collar broke and she took off -- towards the highway and trucks. I about had a heart attack.  Luckily some of the other people gassing up helped us to catch her. You just have to stay still and try to call her to you and hope she gets close enough to grab. Try chasing that dog and its all over. That would be a big drawback of adopting dogs that have been strays. Training them to come back is almost impossible...and we haven't been 100% successful ever.

Otherwise it was a kicked back travel day that we stopped when we felt like it. There was no rush to get back on the road.

At one stop an elderly black man started up a conversation with us. He is an independent trucker that is 2 years away from full retirement and looking forward to it. He is also a Vietnam vet so him and hubs chewed the fat for awhile.  Out of the blue he looked at us and said "This might surprise you, but I want to know, how did HE get re-elected????? After getting over the shock of the question (we don't normally have people start talking politics to us out of the blue) we had to confess we had no clue. This gentleman is very remorseful to see the country he defended on the road it is on. And that's when I bailed out of the conversation. LOL! I must admit it was a surprising end to a very nice conversation with a stranger.  A conversation we never would have had at any other time as we have always traveled in a hurry.

Again we enjoyed the day and the lack of schedule.  Hubs said he could get used to this. Anyone that knows him and how he can't stay still would be surprised to see this.

We ended up staying the night at a TA outside Nashville. And after a crack on FB about staying at a rest stop for the first time ever and maybe I should try a truck stop shower next....well, it generated enough response from so many friends that I guess I was committed to it. But it could wait until tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Homeless Saga Begins

The movers finally finished packing our stuff out of the house. The house has been cleaned. Last check for utilities and anything still owed has been paid.

Key has been turned in.

So for the first time ever we are homeless, without an end destination or time firmly in place.

Intentions and plans abound....but the safety net is gone.

We didn't get on the road until 4:00 pm to start heading south. After checking our maps we decided to head west first instead of south like we usually go in order to avoid the tail end of the mountains in Kentucky and Tennessee.  We were both a little nervous about pulling the trailer so far, but that was what all the camping trips were get our trailer legs. Hah.

The goal was to get to the West side of Indianapolis that first night. Only a couple hundred miles but it was a start.

When we stopped for dinner we didn't want to leave the dogs in the trailer alone or crated in the cars so we got it to go and then all of us had dinner inside the trailer.  It was not rushed. It was clean. It gave us all a breather from travel.  We loved it.

We have never traveled like this before. In our own space at stops and with no clock to watch or time to beat. Its rather nice.

A funny from this stop. We are parking in the truck area obviously. A 30 foot trailer does not park well anywhere else. The cool thing is that the truck/trailer and then the van pulled in behind it is the size of a semi so we just park it all together and fit rather nicely in a semi spot.

Anyways, as we were loading back into our cars to move on, a man came out of the truck next to us and scared Mouse to the point of tears.  She didn't realize that people stayed and slept in the big trucks. So then she got a lesson on truck driving. LOL. She is so high strung.

We pulled over at a rest area for the night. I wasn't sure how it was going to be....we have never slept at a rest stop. We wondered how the noise from the highway along with the generators from the semi trucks running all night were going to effect our sleep.  I am glad to report that it was no problem. I won't say it was soothing, but it was like having a noise machine. We slept just fine. For free. Important for the homeless.

And after our nights driving Hubs was feeling much more confident about pulling the trailer. He got the feel for the wind effects that suck you in close to a truck and then spit you back out when they get close to you. It was no longer intimidating.

All in all, our first day of our new life was rather easy.

Small blessings.

I'll take them.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Girls Are Worth It

One of the hardest parts of our moves is always leaving "My Girls" behind.

I did not grow up a Girl Scout. My father was military and we moved so much that there were very few things my parents wanted to spend the time and money on. The future was always uncertain. Moves were unexpected and quick. Not a good combination for the "finish what you start" mentality.

When Songbird started school I wanted her in Scouts.  It wasn't the crafts and fun. It wasn't the camping...although that is fun. It was the social aspect.  Not social as in socializing. Social as in service to your community.

When you move around as much as we have, connecting to your community is rather hard. So we have to find an interest and dive into the community in that area to feel like we belong and to connect to our area. For many that can be church. For others its volunteering with the schools. The possibilities are endless.

As I had kids and settled into life, I wanted something more on the giving end. I wanted the same for my kids. So Scouting became an important part of our lives no matter where we moved.

What I didn't go looking for was to be involved in Scouts myself. But, as happens many times, I was pulled in during a crisis when another leader was needed.

And I never left -- except for our stay in Waco -- but Songbird was still in a troop even though I wasn't.

Part of the reason I wasn't involved in Waco was because it was so heart breaking to leave my girls in Omaha behind. They were amazing! I enjoyed every minute with those girls! And I wasn't big on strangers kids. They changed all that for me.

When we came to Ohio Songbird was about done with Scouts and going in other directions. Now I had Mouse asking me to join. She was pretty much the troop mascot since she was adopted so she was now old enough to be a scout herself and she was ready.

Of course there was a shortage of leaders as this was a super troop with almost all age groups.  That's alot of leaders to need on hand.  I knew I needed to be away from Mouse to get her to interact but I had almost all the training already so I went ahead and agreed to work with the older girls.

It's been a blast.  And yes, I have found I like the older (middle school aged) girls the best! Not quite into boys yet, old enough to behave, but young enough to be a hot mess! Love it.

I have been with these girls for 4 years now and I LOVE them.

Tonight Mouse and I had to go say our good-byes.  Mouse said goodbye to her age group last week. I still had to bring her to the older girls meeting also for goodbyes as she is well loved. It pays to be cute.

Once again I am leaving a group of girls that I would really love to stick around and see grow up. They are amazing. And the service projects they come up with for their community? Great stuff! They love to help others. They have all the idea's adults we just have to provide the ride or the direction on how to get where they want to go.

I never saw myself as loving this. It was a temporary thing. Today, I can honestly say its one of the most satisfying and fun things I do.

Girls need adults other than family to be in their corner. They need adults to cheer them on and encourage them to be all they can be.  They need adults they can cut up with on a camping trip without worrying about being kept in line when they are too loud or too boisterous.

They need you.

If you are looking for a way to give back to your community, please consider Scouts. Its not as hard as you would think. The older they are the more THEY run the show and you just facilitate.  And our youth want to help their communities! You could be the one to make it happen for them.

Our girls are worth your time.  And guess what? If you try it and don't like it? You don't do it again. No harm, no foul. But maybe, just maybe, you will find out that this is worth two Fridays a month.

What I know for sure is...

Girls are worth it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Marching Forward

It's been crazy here. Good crazy, but crazy.

I/we managed to pull it all together and get things ready before the movers came. There have been some forgottens and panic moments when something was already packed or missing....but it wasn't my stuff - and we will leave it at that. Lol.

The dogs troll around nervously. The house is almost empty and they don't like it.

Actually the movers were supposed to be done Friday but they weren't and now have to come back to finish on Monday. I warned the lady that came to do the walk through and the crew the day they showed up. They all thought they knew better than me .... And they couldn't complete the job.

But I'm not complaining as it leaves me with the washer/dryer, the couches and a tv to watch over the weekend. Everything else we need is in the trailer which we pulled up in front of the house last night.

It feels really unreal this time. I think it must be because we don't have an actual destination or end time for what happens next.

We know the area we can live in ....and it is very large. We know there will be training and possible back to back rotations to complete before we will be able to even begin to look at houses. It could easily be six months. It's a big unknown.

So next week we start a whole new life adventure as travel trailer full timers. It should be interesting with an active 8 year old, snarky 17 year old, 70 pound Doberman, 9 pound chihuahua and the two of us. I'm sure it will not be boring.

I can't say I'm real excited as this is not the road we ever saw ourselves going down.

Who knew we'd have a president that would force so many out if the military and close down the contracting jobs at the same time?

Who knew we would have to use the money we worked so hard to save for retirement to keep ourselves afloat for so long?

Who knew the economy would be at its worst ever when we did get out?

We sure didn't.

Now it's time to do our best to get back to where we were at least. I really don't feel confident that we will with the way things are going. I think our nation is following Argentina's downward spiral almost exactly. I honestly doubt that it will get better.

But I'd love to be wrong.

So we march forward in hopes that we can recover from the damages done. Not everyone can recover from their losses.

We march forward to teach our children that you exhaust every possible avenue before joining those on assistance. Many other people have already reached the point of being out of options.

We march forward to teach work ethic to our girls. Lets face it - too many people do NOT have any work ethic- or never had it modeled for them. We can do better than that for our girls.

We march forward to teach that taking care of yourself is a personal responsibility - not a government responsibility. Again, there is a large population of capable people that think the rich owe them assistance and the government must provide for them. We don't.

We march forward to show that anything worth having is worth working for. We don't believe in collecting the money taken from those that work while we don't when we are capable.

And most important - we march forward because we are capable. There are many that are mentally or physically unable. We are not.

So I'm thankful we have the opportunity to keep marching. I'm thankful we have not yet been broken. I'm thankful we are mostly healthy and whole.

So. We are putting our marching boots on. And marching forward.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The End of October and the Beginning of a New Life

Oh October! My most favorite month! Not only do you bring my birthday, you also bring a whole MONTH of monster movies. I can find them on AMC or SyFy or This or many of the other networks. It just doesn't get better than that. It doesn't.  PLUS The Walking Dead started back up. My one and only show I watch.

To make it even better, hubs went to an invitation only job fair down in good old Houston. After a bunch of interviews and the aftermaths, Hubs accepted an offer from a company based out of Houston. (The job fair had jobs from all over, not just Texas, but we did want to get back there.)

We hung out in limbo for a bit while the ball got rolling, etc. Then Friday night Hubs got the call that he was to start work on November 26th. So we had 25 days to get him to Houston.

25 days to see if the military moving office would get us scheduled asap and see if housing would work with us in that time frame.  I was skeptical. Its the government after all. And there would be extensions and extra paperwork due to our year to move almost being up and our goods having to sit in storage past that date.

Today we got the answers we needed from the moving people...and they will be here to start packing us up on November 6th barring bad weather or something. So the first hurdle is conquered.  I began the withdraw process for Alia's school today. Thankfully Texas is one of the easier states to deal with on the home school front so I'm not worried about our time in limbo.

So now we are working crazy hard to prepare.  The plan is to get out of this house and make it as far as central Texas for a few months. The girls and I will stay with family that has a place for us to pull the travel trailer into and live out of for now. Dion will begin his training and his rotations on the platforms in Houston. On his off times we will start looking not too far from the Houston area for somewhere to finally settle down and buy what I hope is our last home ever. I probably should not have put that in print. LOL! We expect it will be several months before we can determine where that is and before a bank will give us a loan since we have been unemployed for so long.

So. I have 6 days to pull it all together and get the heck out of here. Please snow, hold off. Maybe we will head south before it catches us good. That would just be the icing on top of the cake since I hate snow.

I guess my little blog world will change up a little too while we become official trailer trash for a number of months. It will be interesting to say the least.

Remember us in your prayers still -- this is far from over yet!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Not Much To Say Now-a-days

We actually haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I would if I could.....

So a quick update for friends and family...

Torture. Sheer, unadulterated  torture.  After much suffering I finally got the attention that was needed and had Mouse worked with.  Why yes, there is a problem.  So, reading and math have been downgraded a grade. And after the state testing we did get the official letter stating that she is not 3rd grade material.  Wish her old school system that passed her would get that letter (and a fine for passing her too).  Like they would even care. A failing school, is a failing school is a ........

Things have improved with the correct curriculum,  but I don't see her in 4th grade next year. Ohio won't pass her and if we move to another state I still wouldn't try to put her in 4th. She needs the extra time with reading and math. The whole thing is kind of surprising as she is rather smart. We are also looking into a possible disability.

Life in general:
Bank account is almost on E. Looks like we will have made it about a year on our savings. Not bad. With a new President jobs would open back up where Hubs is experienced. Without a new one we could be looking at assistance. But hey, the Dems want that and will have the privileged of paying for it and providing it for us. So life is exactly like it should be, right? That's the bright side of things.

Songbird continues to work and now has a boyfriend. She is also paying for her own drivers ed as we can't help her with it....and she got tired of being without a license. So we should have a driver before much longer. I actually feel kind of lucky that I have dodged that bullet for a year longer than most parents. LOL. See, I can see the bright side of things.

Its getting cold now. Hope all my friends in the storms path stay warm and safe. I didn't buy cold weather clothes or coats for anyone as we had planned on being long gone from here before the cold weather set in.  Guess we are just going to wear things that are too small or just lots of layers. Thank goodness I did not get rid of the scarf/glove/hat box that is in the hall closet. Our ears will stay warm anyways! There is a bright side.

That about covers life. Maybe soon there will be some actual good news to share instead of the bright side of things. LOL!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Box Full of Maggots

A box full of maggots.


That is what you get when your child blatantly disobeys you and brings a pencil box full of acorns in your house and hides them in the closet for two weeks.

Then said child sneaks them back out and pops open the box in the back yard and you hear the most terrified screaming imaginable issue forth.

But that is nothing compared to the screaming that commences when said child is forced to clean up the mess in the yard and check her closet to ensure there are no escapees.

Hah. She wants to move into the bathroom now.

Poetic justice for disobedience. God IS good.

And that was the text I sent several if my friends. One of which I have never texted on her phone. So she checked with me to ensure it was me. At that time she thanked me because HER daughter had just collected a box which was on the shelf next to her bed.

Crisis averted.

But it gets better.

My friend then posted a blurb about it on FB. It was just a summary so it ended up sounding like the maggots were discovered in my house instead of outside.

And one of her friends then mentioned that there must be more in there than just acorns because maggots go for meat.

So now it's sounding even more gross and I'm sounding like a very nasty skank.

But Heather redeemed me by googling it and informing us all that they weren't maggots after all. They are acorn weevils.

I feel so much better now.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Glass Half Empty

The title is a warning. Don't read this.

We all have our magic numbers that make us comfortable or uncomfortable in our bank accounts.  As responsible adults and citizens we did not run up massive debts and we watched our numbers.

We denied ourselves when everyone around us drove two new cars and had nice homes.  Our kids had a quarter of the toys and activities of the other kids. Our clothes lasted years instead of seasons.

And we looked to the future and how to take care of ourselves when we were no longer young enough to work.

Then there was no job.

And the last 10 months we've been conservative. Not scary conservative....more like a confident conservative.

We should have been scared.

So now here it is September and the bank has hit the half empty number.  The number I am not comfortable with. The number that makes me grouchy.  The number that makes me downright hate life. The number that makes me want to stay in bed all day every day.

Of course we just got the notice in the mail telling us how much our free insurance is going up. I won't be able to pay it. So we will be bumped down to the other free insurance. The one you pay a percentage of the allowable but no yearly. Except none of the good doctors here will take that insurance. And is getting $8 back on a $120 bill worth the 6 months it will take me to get it paid by filing myself? I will spend that in postage and phone calls. So, this family with free insurance will not see any doctors unless its in an ER and we feel its life and death. Because we can't pay. But hey, we won't be taxed since technically we will have insurance.....whether we can afford to use it or not. At least we will dodge that lovely healthcare tax. And I feel for those that won't.

We are looking again for ways to cut expenses. We do have some fluff we can work with. Not much but some. How I wish we had never bought a new car two years ago. That is literally enough money to cover groceries and a portion of gas needs for the car. Plus insurance would be cheaper. We need to cut the housing cost. We need to do it by Christmas. How I hate the thought of moving into an unsafe area but its got to be done.

Because I've got to tell you, pissing away our retirement money is painful. It was painful to save and now its painful to spend. On groceries and gas and the necessities.  Totally sucks.

I think I'm done spewing for now. If you were crazy enough to actually read this (I did warn you) you will know better next time. LOL!  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

After Labor Day Camping

We aren't big fans of crowds.  Especially when camping. 

We love a quiet campground. Where small amounts of people walk around being friendly because everyone has plenty of space.  Where there are three empty spots for every filled one. Where there are more live-ins than "couple of days" campers. 
I love homeschooling at the campgrounds. Space dictates you go outside alot. The pace is more laid back because there is not a schedule to keep up with and a list of household chores. After all, the reason you are camping is to get away from that. 

The beach is empty. There is no line for the shower. The hot water doesn't run out. The floor doesn't flood. The bathrooms do not run out of paper. 

There is no drunk feast going on in the site next to you every night. Or loud music late into the night. 

The dogs don't have near as much to bark at. 
No rude/unparented kids running through our site at all hours of the day and night. No wolf whistles at the girls.

Mouse got to ride her bike all over as there were so few cars pulling through.

We took advantage of the days after Labor Day to camp this week. And it's glorious. Loving every minute of it. Well except for the zit that popped up on my chin. That hurts. And has nothing to do with anything. Just checking to see if you are still awake.

It's been great!

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Sent from my iPad

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Survived Hell Week

1.Hell Week

Ok. So it was none of these. But I'm not so sure this shouldn't be added to the Urban Dictionary along with the other definitions. Because. Oh. My. Words.

I've explained that we felt Mouse was really falling behind in school. I worked with the teacher last year to try and pin point what the problems where but even she was stumped. The kids will bomb testing but if you sit by her and ask her to do something she just does it. 

Although trying to teach new concepts to her was a challenge also. And when you are ready to beat your head bloody against the wall....she picks up the pencil and just does it.


Anyways, we survived our first week of school at home. 

There were tears (mine!!).
There was crying (because she thought home school meant no more school?!?!).
There were blank stares.
There were lessons that took 3 hours instead of the 1 expected.
There were lots of breaks.
Sadly there were a few instances of yelling and having to get a grip.
There were a million emails and three phone calls/conferences with the teacher (in 5 days).
There were decisions to try and make based on a snapshot of time (drop back to 2nd grade work or press on).
There were classes taught by dad to verify whether it was material or the teacher that was the problem. (It wasn't the teacher.)

There was the realization that it was much worse than we originally thought.

And after many conferences there was the realization that this IS the right thing for right now.

I'd be lying if I said it was fun right now. It has the potential to be fun when she realizes that whether its school at home or in a building with other kids, ITS STILL SCHOOL. It requires learning. It requires work. And I think we will get there slowly.

I'm working harder than I had to work with the other two put together. But I do like this curriculum and having the lessons planned for you...and only needing to read and prep yourself is a true Godsend.

We also are in a learning curve with getting used to switching back and forth from computer to books to virtual classrooms. Its starting to get easier just after the first week.

Of course we are throwing a wrench in the works this week. We did not take Labor Day off. Instead we switched the off day to Friday as we decided to get in a last summer camping trip Tuesday through Thursday. We wanted to miss the Labor Day crowds. So we spent today hammering out all the online class materials and the stuff we were behind on. The rest of the weeks work we take with us is rather easy and portable. And Friday is the day off that we can use to catch up if we fall behind. Although we do have our school picnic that day that will take up a couple of hours with kids in the same program.

I'm not sure I'll have much to blog about the next couple of months. Unless, of course, the economy miraculously improves and Hubs finds a job.  Right. Like that's going to happen.

See? You don't want to hear that kind of crap anyways. 

Keep us in your prayers! We need every one we can get!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pinterest Project #10

This is kind of funny as my friend Sandra over at Diary of a Stay At Home Mom just posted on it also. We tend to be on the same page alot and this is not the first time I was ready to make and post on something and she gets it done a day or two before me. One thing that comes to mind is the dish drying towels. Or the beef jerky. Obviously great minds think alike.

Last week she did the post In Preparation For Winter Time. She also has made some of the tea throat soother or cough syrup. She links to a different recipe/blog post than I have but its the same.

My pinterest project was linked to Medicinal Sweets or I Wish I Had a Sore Throat at Mad Made Me.

Unfortunately I am coming down with my first cold of the school year. I had hoped to miss the first week bug with Mouse being homeschooled...but no such luck.

So my fridge is sporting its own jar of the honey that shall grace my tea over the coming months.  Of course my Mamaw's little addition of bourbon will be waiting in the wings to add a little extra punch when needed before bedtime. What can I say, my Kentucky roots are showing.

One thing I will add that others don't always put in their recipe is RAW honey is a better choice. It has more medical properties than the heated/processed honey.

And never forget that you never give infants honey. Google it if you don't know what I'm talking about.

So how about you? Tried anything from pinterest lately?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

CrockPot Butter Chicken

I was asked by several people for this recipe so I am finally sitting down to type it out.  The original recipe "Slow Cooker Butter Chicken" I found on I have tweaked it some so I renamed it.

We love Indian food. Dion took me out for our anniversary a couple of years ago to an Indian place and I tried Butter Chicken for the first time. It was so good that I had to try and find the recipe.  Unfortunately the authentic recipes call for cooking it in a certain clay pot and had things I couldn't find.  So I tried to find an Americanized version that at least came close to it. 

This is NOT as good as the authentic but it is as close as I've come so far, and the whole family loves it. Its also less fattening that the original...which is always a good thing, right??

CrockPot Butter Chicken

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 large, skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into     
   bite-size pieces
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon curry paste (I buy this in a tub at the Asian   
2 teaspoons tandoori masala (an Indian spice mix)
1 teaspoon garam masala (an Indian spice mix)
2 (6 oz) tomato paste
7 black cardamom pods ( or 15 green which is what the 
   original recipe had, but I didn't want  to go buy green 
   when I had black)
1 (14 oz) coconut milk
1 cup Kefir cheese (or yogurt)
Salt to taste

Melt the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in chicken onion and garlic. Cook and stir until onion is clear, about 10 minutes.  Stir in curry powder and curry paste, tandoori masala and garam masala and tomato paste, until no lumps of paste remain. 

Pour into slow cooker and stir in cardamom pods, coconut milk, yogurt/cheese and salt to taste. Cook on high 4-6 hours or low 6-8 hours.

Discard cardamom seeds before serving.

You can tie up the cardamom in a piece of cheesecloth for easy disposal after cooking. I just throw them in and warn everyone to watch for them on their plate and keep count when found. Its like a cracker jack surprise! LOL! They are large and easily identifiable. 

We eat it over rice and have a side of naan bread and hummus or Tadzhik. 

Hope you enjoy this as much as my family does. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Here I Go Again

It appears that one thing all three of my children now have in common would be homeschool.

Yes, after 3 years of tears and crying and begging to be homeschooled we finally decided to give Mouse what she wants.

Hah. She has no idea what she is in for. LOL. Songbird will tell you that homeschool is the only time she EVER went through an entire text book.

All three of my children have ended up at home for different reasons. I am far from anti-public school. I'm all about WHAT WORKS for THIS child.  And lets face it, that's not always a traditional classroom. For my son it was a terrible fit. For my second child public school is the perfect fit. She did come home for a year because she thought it looked like her brother was having too much fun.  She couldn't take it. I put her back in public the next year. (I have non-negotiable one year commitment rule- no school hopping.)

Mouse has always wanted to be homeschooled. That was actually part of the reason we didn't. She was a Velcro child and wouldn't even speak to other adults for a long time.  She needed a degree of separation.

I also wanted her in a system that is used to identifying problems and disabilities. She has adoption related issues and we did not know if any of that would carry over to learning disabilities and such.

Unfortunately we moved into a failing district. They've been a failed school since before we got here...and they still are going on 4 years later. And darned if it isn't in the same subjects that my daughter is failing in.

After working with the teacher last year we pinpointed many of the problems. And many of them require a little bit more from a teacher but not outside intervention, if that makes sense. But there is no time for the extra in the classroom. So she is one that will fall between the cracks. Its the nature of the public school beast. At least this one. In another district this might or might not be the case.

So we have a kid who is barely keeping her head above water and destined to start failing by the end of fourth grade.  Add a school system that can't help. And we have jobless parents with no money to send to a private school. Add to that the extremely unstable day to day operations as daddy tries to find a new career.


With all this homeschooling looks good. It gives the individual attention she must have to get on track with reading and math and be able to succeed in school.  It gives the flexibility to travel with daddy to interview cities or for house hunting or whatever may come. And if we hit the point where we run out of savings before that job is found...then it makes moving into the travel trailer oh so much easier as transportation will not be an issue depending on where we end up parking. Lastly, it makes the transition to our new location that much easier when we do move.

Lots of reasons to do this.

Except the funds.


What they have now that they didn't have when the older two were homeschooled is Public School at Home. They send all the materials at no cost. Including a computer if you need one (we didn't).  Its still the same number of hours. Its their lessons. She still is assigned a teacher for us to meet with and work with when we need help.

And she is beside herself happy.  It was like Christmas when the boxes came.  She is on cloud nine. Its been fun (and a little scary honestly) to watch.

Right now we are still working on some assessments so they can figure out how to start her out and what they can do to work with her issues.

But Monday starts a whole new chapter for her.  She is counting the days.


I almost feel like a heel for ever having sent her to public school. Almost.

This year will tell on many levels whether this was good or not. And I am not above changing things if it doesn't work.....

I actually look forward to revisiting the decision come next August. I am very curious to see how this child ticks.

But tonight.....all I can do is sing over and over in my head....

Because Here I Go Again ......

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pinterest Project #9

In an effort to organize all of Mouses school books and make them easy for her to find I did a search on Pinterest for organizational ideals.

Someone had posted magazine holders they had covered in colorful paper to coordinate. With this is mind I made a stop at Ikea on my last trip. They did have some rather cheap paper files but I was concerned about their ability to stand up to an 8 year old. So, for $2 more I bought the metal holders instead.

I knew I wanted to label each one so I picked up a couple of packets of magnets to stick to the front.  My label maker was then used to label each magnet so Mouse can easily identify what she is looking for.

For my books I didn't bother labeling.

This wasn't the bookcase I wanted to use but it is the only one (also purchased at Ikea) with tall enough shelves to handle the holders.

It worked out very well and isn't an eyesore in the living room, which the paper holders would have been.

Thanks again Pinterest!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Guess What? She's Black.

Gymnastics: U.S. Olympic Team Trials

I tried to leave this alone.  I really, really, really tried.

But it just burned inside my heart and my head.

You see, some people were really upset and took offense to the fact that the press said this amazing young woman was the first African-American to win gold in this event for America.

And I was stumped.

Their point was that she is AMERICAN and to point out her race was to be divisive. And our country needed to stop being divisive about race.

And my point was that ignoring the most visible part of who a person is (their appearance to the world - the skin) was to "whitewash" them which implies there is something wrong with being anything other than "white" or colorless.

But we aren't colors they said. We are AMERICANS.

Umm....even the youngest child can tell you that we ARE most certainly a color. (Which goes even deeper as each color has a heritage to share also.)

And that's where I personally think the problem lies in this country.

Not in the fact that we all need to be "the same".


We all need to be respected and loved for the fact that we are exactly who we are.

To pretend we aren't something is to imply that there is something WRONG with being different from you.

My daughter is Chinese.  And the most insulting thing a family member ever said was that they don't see her as Chinese...she's just part of the family.

Excuse me???

She IS Chinese and there is NOTHING wrong with that.

If you have to "whitewash" her and strip her of the most visible part of who she is, that is not being inclusive or showing value and accepting her as part of the family.

Its just the opposite.  Its saying that being brown is something to ignore.  It's saying that being Chinese is shameful. Its saying that being a different color than you is not okay.  It's saying you can't see her as she is. Its saying you want everyone to be the same.

And we aren't.

We are different.

And its GOOD.

Not something to hide or ignore or pretend isn't there.

And until white America gets a grip on that, the decisiveness is here to stay.

Because, white America, you aren't the one that has to be something other than what you already are.

Everyone else does.

Gabby is an amazing, black, American Olympian.

And I see her color.  

And it is glorious.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Because a Girl Can Dream....

The political climate right now is insane.

Its devastatingly sad.

Because I remember a time when different beliefs were an American icon. They were something to celebrate. They were a reason to consider America great.

Now its the nastiest hate fest imaginable.

You can't go on fb without reading how you are the most vile of persons from your own circle of friends if you have a different view.  The ugly names are flat out shocking. You wonder if they really feel that way about you.  And it makes you a little sick...because we are all so much more than this issue or that one.  Do my friends really think that of me because we disagree on that one subject? 

And I've become convicted on this subject in my own life and regret any of this behavior I may have participated in. I bitterly regret it. Its wrong.

How did this happen?

And I'm sure you have seen both sides post how if it wasn't for this group we wouldn't have this...and vise versa.

YES!!! But not in the way its meant. 

The truth is all parties and sides have given us great programs and laws and privileges. No one school of thought has a corner on that market.  Its the combination of all groups contributing that makes this the most amazing country.  Or did.

And even though I didn't vote for our current president, I did hold the hope in my heart that he was what he said.......change and transparency.

A girl can dream. And I did. I hid my crossed fingers behind my back in the circles that didn't vote for him and hoped and prayed that it was all true. And I was disappointed. Its all more of the same old thing that we need to get rid of, to me.  But that's MY opinion and I don't go shouting it at people that feel differently. (should I add anymore there?)

And I'm so so tired of character assassination. From all sides. From anyone.  

I want to hear about the issues.....not the mud slinging. 

I personally have believed things and changed my mind. I have done bad things and had to atone for them. I have made uneducated decisions and been educated. Its all a part of living and growing up in this life.  I have never been nor do I strive to be perfect - because its not even possible. And I don't expect perfection from anyone else either. Not even our political candidates. They can all make mistakes and they can all change their minds on issues.  As long as they are sincere in that I will not ridicule them for it. I will not start a smear fest. I will not murder their good name.

What I'd really like to know is what will it take for regular American's to step off of this hate fest? What will it take? Someone else going first? Well, I'll go first. I'm stepping off this bad behavior. I will listen to other views that are stated in respectful ways. I might not ever agree, but I will agree to disagree with style and grace. Because THAT is American. 

Of course that will probably just make me an even bigger target, but I'm ok with that. I've never fit into any box neatly anyways. I'm always the odd man out in any gathering of people.  And even that is ok.

And I'll hope and dream a little more this year. Not about a candidate...but about the people relearning to treat each other with respect even when they disagree. 

Because a girl can dream.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Week In Louisville Kentucky

I've been MIA again.  Yes, was another trip.  This one without my kids.

Last week I spent 6 days with three of my favorite, all time people. The girls made it to the National Fine Arts Convention (they don't like the word Competition) for Assembly of God teens for the third year in a row. Pretty impressive.  And this year it was held in Louisville, which is only 3 hours away.

So I offered to be an extra pair of hands. And my offer was accepted.  I packed the car up yet again and went for a ride.
I did take advantage of an opportunity to stop and fill up a big blue bag. But more on that at a later date.

We all arrived the night before the beginning of a week of presentations and classes. And I could do a whole post on how it was the worst hotel stay I have ever, ever had. From broken refrigerator, fried toaster, no ventilation, a drunk maintenance man and a horrible, rude and arrogant manager.  Expedia and will be hearing from me. I promise. But lets not go all the way into that.
First day was pretty much registration and getting schedules for the girls presentations. We also figured out where to park in downtown Louisville and how to find the convention center.
We explored the convention center and found the rooms the girls would be presenting in. Like the first day of school, its just comforting to know where you are going to be the next day.  One of the other things the girls were interested in was finding the horses around town.

Tuesday was a day off so we took a drive to a state park with an old school house and Abraham Lincoln's father's old log cabin.  We had a picnic and then went out in a paddle boat.  Very peaceful and relaxing day before presentation day.

Wednesday was all business and a long day at the convention center.  Both girls finished with Excellents and I was so proud of them. I love the fact that they compete every year in so many categories.

And let me tell you, this is a fantastic convention. All these kids (15,000 this year) that are so talented! Every thing from drawing, painting, photography, speaking, signing, singing, songwriting, bands, vocalists, acting, etc.  I enjoyed some of the urban dancing in down times. So fun.
Thursday the girls and I took a trip to Indiana to a cave and working gristmill, old fashioned soap shop, candy shop, candle shop and bakery. I didn't realize the girls had never been to a cave before so that made it even better.

All too soon it was time to return home so we snapped a quick shot.

And Friday was full of retrieving paperwork and scores, classes and preparing to travel back home.

What a great week. So glad it was in my back yard this year!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Punching A Time Clock

Songbird has joined the ranks of the working.  Well, she has actually been babysitting this summer so technically that would be her first job, but it wasn't consistent and was two houses down so it didn't feel like a first to her.

Since there is no progress in the job hunting realm, we decided to go ahead and let Songbird apply around close to home.  She doesn't have her license because we can't afford the insurance and she didn't have a job. And we didn't want her to get a job after she got out of school because we are supposed to be leaving. (By the way, this marks month 8 of me saying that. Bet you are as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it.)

Anyways, she put in a whole lot of aps but then got a call pretty much right away. Seems there were people she knew working there and they put in a good word for her. Interview lasted about 10 minutes. They need people when the kids go back to school at lunch rush. Perfect timing for her to apply.

So she was told to show up Friday.  We did have to do a little bit of work as in Ohio you must have a work permit if you are under 18. You get said permit from the school -- and yes it costs time and MONEY. The purpose of the work permit is to keep kids in school. If you drop out you can't get a permit and can't work. I think its a great program on one hand - to keep kids in school. But if a person has dropped out it keeps them in poverty....and many drop outs have babies so I don't like that aspect of the program.

 But Songbird was graduated and is no longer affiliated with the school so it made no sense to me that she would need a  permit. A copy of her diploma, sure, but a work permit? So I know just enough to be dangerous after working for attorneys and found the actual Ohio statute on the exemptions and ran a copy of it up to her work with a copy of her diploma and crossed my fingers.  I really did not want to fork out the money for the work permit...and by law it turns out I don't have to with a diploma in hand.  I'm sure they never had this come up before and that is why they wanted it anyways, but I was nervous because you just don't know how that will go over in a brand new situation like that.

Apparently it was fine and my baby started work. She is so proud.  She is working at a Sub shop that is very close to home.  Close enough to walk if the situation arose.  But we will be working on getting her license since she will have the income to pay the insurance.  And I didn't want her sitting here spinning her wheels in limbo like the rest of us.

So she is a happy camper now. Tell her congrats if you see her.