Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Musical Muse

Today I figured out how to do a bunch of chords on the keyboard. Did I mention that Eric has been praying for a piano or a keyboard for a while now, and God provided one for us at affordable Thrift store prices...a REALLY good one, too. Along with a stand. So it has a spot against the wall in our dining room.

I've been enjoying resurrecting some very very rusty and non-existent piano memories from the one year of lessons I had as a teenager.

And so now I can slowly eke out the chords for pretty much all the songs I've written, since they are all things like A, am, D, dm, E, em, G, C, F, F#m...that sort of thing. So it's not too hard to listen to the notes on guitar and figure out the chords on the keyboard. And then I can sort of accompany myself. Lots of practice needed, but it was so fun that two hours flew by while I was doing that, and my arms sort of got crampy.

Well, I promise that I'm not very good at it, but it was fun.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Father's Day a Week Late

Last week, 75% of our kids were at camp, so we decided to do Father's Day at our house today instead. The kids did a cute skit based on the Code Monkey song, and a can of Mountain Dew (anyone who knows Wes...), and here's the dinner I made:

Fried fish, local collard greens with garlic, local blueberries, homemade ketchup, and two pies: brownie pie (sweetened with low glycemic palm sugar) and apple custard pie (sweetened with stevia/erythritol blend) and a bottle of homemade Kombucha. I ended up adding the apple custard pie when I had too much pie crust dough, it only took seven minutes to put together.

Wes was kissing the back of my neck while I was cooking that dinner, so I think he felt loved and I know he liked the food.

Thanks for being such a wonderful Father to our children, Wes!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Kids, Mount Washmore, and Trimmed Fingernails

The kids are back from camp! I'm so happy, that I have little butterflies in my stomach. Don't get me wrong, after telling them get on that big charter bus (which was admittedly hard), and especially after I got phone calls that they'd arrived safe and sound at Antiochian Village, I proceeded to just let them have a good time, and to not worry about them at all beyond praying for their fun, health and safety.

God answered all my prayers, and now I'm being regaled with how one sibling shut another sibling into the stinky charter bus bathroom out of revenge for some familial meanness. Kids.

And of course, I have three large suitcases (a week's worth of clothes each) full of dirty stinky camp laundry to contend with. My youngest came home looking like she'd been wearing her outfit for at least a week, which, she informed me, was close to the truth, since laundry day for her cabin was on the first Friday of camp. But how that meant she didn't have clothes somehow escapes me. Perhaps some hyperbole was involved in the tale.

Suffice it to say, the kids had a good time. The camp staff even found a way to take care of Eric's weird food issues. He was eating breakfast each day, and then living off fruit and snacks from the gimme shop (choice of drink and junk food at snack time) for week one, and then someone picked up on his weird eating, and he started being fed a PBJ sandwich for lunch and a cheese sandwich at supper. Better than just fruit. I'm very grateful. Food issues. Sigh.

So, Mount Washmore grows in the bedroom, and later on today I'll have to sort and fold it all. I might recruit some help.

Oh, and I've been growing my nails out lately, and really enjoying having longer nails, but a couple of them started to break and split, so I trimmed them all back down-for now. The nice thing about fingernails, is that they grow. But while they are short, I think I should play my much neglected guitar or something.

I'm really enjoying my slow Saturday morning, but MUST get up, shower and get myself off to the farmer's market. As soon as I finish my morning coffee. ;-)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Playing with Beads

I particularly like how all three bracelets look together. I've had fun.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Opportunities

Pray for me. It seems that after a time of settling in, I have some opportunities developing in my life for service, that coordinate with stuff that naturally is going on around here.

One thing that's developing is that a bunch of us homeschooling moms have gotten together and formed a new group called Alphabet Soup Homeschoolers. We are each of us teaching our special needs kids at home and have been in need of support and encouragement. We chose the name Alphabet Soup because we wanted to include anyone who has special challenges, regardless of diagnosis. LD, ADD, ADHD, AS, Autism, Downs, etc.

It's really great to sit at the park and socialize with other moms who get it because they are in the same trenches. The opportunity to really serve is revolving around the fact that some of us think it would be a good idea to actually form a co-op social skills class for our kids. I really want to be involved in this effort, and am excited about the possibilities. Everything is embryonic right now, but I do appreciate prayers. We need a meeting room and we need to choose a curriculum or social skills book to work through. I'm not thoroughly familiar with all that is out there, but have begun to research.

As I move forward next school year with getting as much of a diganosis for Eric and Maia as I can, I hope that doing something like this will be a way that something good and grace filled can come out of something painful and sad.

The other opportunity that's been presented to me is not something very big or hard at all, and it's also not something for this blog. But a prayer that God would give me wisdom on making a decision would nonetheless be appreciated.

I've been meeting so many new people and making new friends lately, and getting closer than casual to at least one person, and I feel really really blessed by that.

This week Bethany and I (the kids are still at camp) have been taking walks at the St. Matthew's Mall, since it's been really really hot outside. I've also enjoyed the long hours of quiet that having the kids at camp has caused, and have done more reading than usual. I like to read, and right now I have my nose in at least three books, along with various blogs and keeping up with the news over the internet.

Good things, all of it.

~blessings on your day~

Monday, June 22, 2009

How I make Waffles

Marfa asks. I answer. I don't measure much of anything.

The night before my waffle making stint I soak about four cups of whole wheat flour in some water and about half a cup of whey. I don't measure anything. It should be thick-ish so that when I add the other ingredients, the next day, it's not too thinnish.

Next morning, add three or four eggs, a heaping tablespoon of baking powder and some coconut oil, blend it well.

It will be thinnish, but not too thin. A thinnish batter makes a lighter, crispier waffle.

Bake in waffle maker. Three and a half minutes in my case. You don't want them too dark as they will get toasted later. Let waffles cool, then freeze them.

It works better to freeze them on a flat tray and then put them in bags, otherwise they stick together. Ask me how I know. I broke a nail trying to pry them apart this morning. Sigh.

I usually toast them twice to get them thawed then hot.

Very good with maple syrup (or something sugar free in my case...I actually found a sugar free maple flavor syrup that's just maltitol and NOT splenda or aspartame the other day, at Whole Foods. Thrilled.)

Pre-soaking the grains, using whey and of course coconut oil and pastured eggs is all in line with Nourishing Traditions type of cooking/eating.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nerd Heaven

Yesterday I had the day to myself, which meant really I had the afternoon to myself. After cleaning up the house (yes, I vacuumed on my alone day!) which results always leave me happy, and after defrosting the freezer and making a huge batch of freezer waffles (which results also leave me happy), I decided to take myself to the thrift store.

One lovely blue 3/4 sleeve t-shirt with a v neck. 1 black Coldwater Creek twist skirt (the kind you twist up so that it has crinkles) and 1 book.

I think I'm most excited about the book. I started reading it, and it's interesting.

The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought by Thomas S. Kuhn.

Nerd heaven.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Time is Not My Own

I have the old "praise chorus" running through my head this morning, from back at my Belmont Church (Charismatic, non-denominational) days..."I'm not my own, I'm thine. You purchased me, I'm thine. Bought with a price, the blood of Jesus. I'm not my own, I'm thine."

You see, I have the "day off". Three of my kids are at camp, and B is at her friend's house for a two night sleepover. Tomorrow I go pick up the girls and they come here for a two night sleepover at our house...so good times had by the girls this week. I hope to take them to the zoo, hopefully to the pool if the weather cooperates. We have some movies. Hope they don't get bored with each other.

But already my day off is filling up rapidly. I gave a friend of mine a ride to Matins this morning. I woke up at 6:24 and was lying in bed wondering if I could think of an excuse not to get my sorry carcass out of bed and go to Matins, since it was close to 1 am when I actually fell asleep, when at 6:26 my phone ring. My friend said: "God told me to call you and tell you to go to Matins this morning." "So, you need a ride, huh?" I do wonder if it was really God or just her needing a ride, but God does work in less-than-mysterious ways sometimes, and I truly am grateful, and a bit chagrined that that's what it took to get me up. I think I value my "beauty rest" a bit too much sometimes.

So, plans for today include helping my friend with a small sewing project and making some freezer waffles, tidying up the house, and hopefully settling down for a long comfy read. But knowing me, I'd like a serious alone time stint at a good-sized thrift store somewhere as well.

Yesterday after I took B to Lexington, I came back to an afternoon long meeting of a new group that's forming: Alphabet Soup. It's a support group for moms who are homeschooling special needs/spectrum kids. ADHD, AS, LD, PDDNOS, that sort of thing. And last night, after Vespers and out to chinese food, Wes and I finally sat down and figured out exactly what books to buy for next year's homeschooling. God is gracious and provides what we need, and I think we have an affordable and workable plan for next year. But ordering we will have to wait a bit on.

Ahhhh. For now, though, I'd better get my caffeinated self off of here and over to the chiropractor.

What would you do if you had a day without your normal responsibilities?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yesterday morning we got up at 4 am so that we could get to Liturgy at 5 am. An extra Divine Liturgy was being held in the chapel so early because a big group of kids from St. Michael's were getting on a charter bus and heading off to camp. That's the advantage of having two altars and multiple priests in one parish.

I stood there in the parking lot with tears in my eyes. For some reason, it was hard to let them go. Bethany wasn't able to go to camp this year, because she's too sick. But of the others, I think I'm the most worried about Eric having a good time, as he is rather rigid and aspie-ish and high strung.

I know they arrived safely because I got a call from Ariana that they were there. She was over the moon ecstatic, and had lost a tooth on the bus ride. And I was so glad to learn that no one was left behind at the rest areas on the road. Terrible "mommy toughts" about bus wrecks and about the chaperones not doing role call after the kids stop for lunch or whatnot were bombarding my brain.

I'm going to try to have a nice time while they are gone. I can tell B likes the peace and quiet, and so do I. Today: Swimsuit shopping. Ugh, ugh, triple-ugh.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Liver Strips

Here's a good way to fix liver:

Buy a nice beef liver from a farmer who raises grass-fed beef. These are very nutritious (the livers, not the farmers).

When it's thawed, rinse the liver under warm water, and slice. Cut each slice into strips.

In a bowl, mix some whole wheat pastry flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Dredge each piece in the flour mixture and pan fry in some non-hydrogenated lard.

These are so good! Five out of six people in my family eat these liver strips. (The other one ate a waffle. Sigh.)

I served them with potatoes, and peas and lacto-fermented sauerkraut. And I was so proud of myself for dragging my tired carcass into the kitchen to make a nourishig meal for my family when all I really wanted to do was to be whisked away to someplace like Pizza Hut and have my food brought to me.

But I didn't want us to spend our money on that. So I cooked. But the nice part is, someone else is doing all the clean up and I'm now done working for today.


There's been so much to do lately, that I have not been keeping up with my blog. And it's all piddly stuff. I guess God is calling me to be the queen of piddly stuff right now in my life. Meal preparations, laundry, getting kids ready for camp, cheering a friend up on the phone...that sort of thing.

And you know what? I have no deep thoughts on any subject. None. Except maybe that schizophrenia sucks. And I can't really blog all my thoughts on the subject, out of respect for privacy and all that. Wish I could.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Easy Bone Stock

More than one person has asked me recently to tell them how to make bone stock. I think I read how to make this in Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. But at any rate, although I'm fairly new to the process, it it simple and here's how I do it:

After we've eaten a roasted chicken (or other type of meat), I pick all the meat off the bones to use for sandwiches. Then I put the bones in a crock pot and cover them with water. I might cut an unpeeled onion in half and put in there, perhaps some garlic, any leftover veggies that I might have had from the roasted chicken meal that we just ate.

To this I add between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of vinegar. The acid helps leech the minerals from the bones.

I turn the crock pot (which is big and rather full by now) on low. I let it go overnight, and throughout the next day.

My goal is to cook it until the bones are soft and crumbly (in the case of chicken bones) or if it's beef or pork bones, until the marrow has come out. I add more water as necessary.

24 hours...36 hours. It can go for awhile. If doing it on the stove top, it requires more monitoring but will boil faster. Your mileage may vary. Also, I've read about a froth forming on the top that should be skimmed off. I've not seen any froth in the crock pot.

When it's done, I put a colander over a big bowl, strain out the veggie gunk and bones and catch the stock in the bowl. I pour the stock 3/4 full into quart mason jars and freeze. To thaw it, I put them, opened, in a pot of water and boil it on the stove.

This is the kind of thing that gave chicken soup its good reputation for being a healing food. Not. Campbells.

Homemade soup stock. Mmmmm Mmmmm, good!

The Food Revolution: More thoughts on food etc.

Last night while we were out on our big date, after dinner at a local middle eastern restaurant, and feeling very stuffed, and after driving down the road in an unfamiliar direction on a lark and getting to know the various sections of downtown and south Louisville (Finally Wes glanced over and said "Oh, there's Churchill Downs! I know how to get home now!") we ended up at Carmichael's book shop, where Wes bought me a copy of Michael Pollan's newest tome: In Defense of Food. I have a feeling it's going to mesh nicely, but not 100% perfectly with what I'm reading in Nourishing Traditions. I really get into the whole "food discussion". A topic which has interested me for years.

Here's an exciting paragraph that I wanted to share with you guys. It's on page 14 of the paperback version, in the introduction:

"Most of my suggestions come down to strategies for escaping the Western diet, but before the resurgence of farmer's markets, the rise of the organic movement, and the renaissance of local agriculture now under way across the country, stepping outside the conventional food system simply was not a realistic option for most people. Now it is. We are entering a postindustrial era of food; for the first time in a generation it is possible to leave behind the Western diet without having also to leave behind civilization. And the more eaters who vote with their forks for a different kind of food, the more commonplace and accessible such food will become."

I remember, about twelve or thirteen years ago, I had been doing lots of food related reading and I decided that it really would be better to "go organic". I tried. Our grocery bill about knocked us over. Now, it's 13 years later, and what is available has changed. I CAN buy organics, for the most part. OK, our finances have changed to the point where I have a budget with the wiggle room necessary to be able to do that, but at this point I'm also seeing a direct connection between real, healthy food and how I feel.

I'm really really grateful that I've managed to find some ways, without increasing my food budget (which apparently is below "government standards" of what a family is expected to spend on food in a month...we spend somewhere between $166 and $200 dollars a month on food per person in our family...the lower number is the goal, and very occasionally I slip above that goal...but not very often), of joining the food revolution. I wish I could do more in terms of offering the revolution to others. But the best I can do right now is in my own home. (I still buy regular peanut butter and macaroni and cheese to donate to the food bank, and feel like a huge hypocrite doing so...perhaps I need to think harder and more creatively about what to do there.) But hopefully, by voting with my fork, as Pollan puts it, the availability of real food grown in sustainable ways will continue to increase and become more accessible to any who have food dollars to spend, even the poor with transportation difficulties and a limited budget.

A big part of making the food revolution work, is cutting out the middle man and shopping farmer's markets, or CSA, or placing an order with a local farmer once a week. It's about changing how we think about where our food is coming from. Because the truth is, food comes from farms, not from grocery stores.

The second part of it, is actually cooking from scratch. And scratch cooking means using things like chicken bones and vinegar and water to create bone stock, as opposed to opening a can of Swanson's chicken broth.

Cooking from scratch means the groceries in my pantry look more like bags of oats, flour, dried beans, onions, olive oil, eggs, fruits and vegetables, etc. Than it does boxes of macaroni and cheese mix, soup mixes and the like.

Yes it's work. That's the third part of the food revolution. I spend weird amounts of time in the kitchen. Doing weird things. Rachel Ray I am not. Yesterday I made cheese just so I could get my hands on some whey so I could soak some whole wheat flour in whey water overnight so I could make waffles for breakfast and another three dozen or so for the freezer. (Mmmmmm, toaster waffle goodness this week.)

But I think its worth it. Because for the first time in forever I am feeling good. Nourished. It's easier to tell when I've eaten enough. And there's a sense of physical well being with me that is new. I still have fibromyalgia, and I still have a really really bad back, but other than that, there's some wellness happening. My skin is better, has a bit more of a glow to it, no more acne. I have more energy. I feel brighter.

Still massively battling sugar cravings, and I'm certainly not immune to temptation, lest you think I"m perfect. Chocolate gets consumed far too often...for now: I eat really really healthy...except when I don't.

Friday, June 05, 2009


Today I made the mistake of going to Target to try on some clothes. I thought I'd pick something cute up like a more current looking skirt or something. Big mistake, because I just got depressed about my looks and overweightness. Gotta love those oh-so-honest changing room mirrors that are angled so that you can see all the jiggles on your back, and how wide you are. Thankyousomuch, target!

I came to two conclusions: I'm fatter than I think I am, and I don't look good in trendy clothes. Who am I kidding? I'm probably too old for the Target trendy look (lots of loud funky prints and not enough modesty) anyhow. Who am I kidding?

So I did not buy anything. I thought about sneaking into Steinmart, where they have clothes for middle aged people, but decided not to spend the money, since it cost over forty dollars to fill up my minivan with gas.

Blech. Blarch. Pfffffft.

I'd better find a way to cheer up because Wes and I are supposed to go out for our big 17th Wedding Anniversary Date tonight. Must. Put. On. Happy. Face.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Sourdough Bread

About a week ago, I mixed some rye flour and water together and started a sour dough bread starter. It really was as simple as that. Every day, I added some more flour and water, stirred it, poured it into a clean bowl, covered it with a towel and let it sit.

It frothed, it looked scary, it smelled rather fermented. And so forth.

After the week went by, I added more water, salt, and a lot more rye flour and made it into a dough. I hated the texture, so my daughter ended up kneading it. Rye is so different from wheat, that's for sure. It kept sticking to my hands in an unpleasant grainy way.

After she kneaded it, we had this massive lump of very dark, dense, dough. We let it sit another day.

Today she formed them into loaves and baked them. We have some very dense, very sour loaves of rye sourdough in our fridge and freezer. (I'm thinking they need to be thin sliced, then toasted with butter, a slice of tomato and some cheese. That might salvage them.)

But bread baking, for me, is like having children. I always fall in love with those loaves. I pour myself into them. I appreciate the bread I make and I want others to love it as much as I do. But these sourdough rye breads....bonding has not yet happened. I'm not in love with them. I did have a slice with cream cheese and it was dense and seemed rather nourishing, but dang, it was sour! I guess, duh, that's why it's called sourdough...ya think?

I also was not in love with the daily attention, although it really is almost as benign as feeding fish or one's worm farm. In fact, considering that sourdough is a probiotic, I was feeding the pets: microbial ones to be sure, but still...

It's a learning process, and while right at this moment I just feel like throwing in the towel on sourdough, another part of me wants to rise to the challenge and learn how to make awesome and amazing sourdough bread. Clearly there is something else that I don't know about this process, because I can't imagine an actual culture basing their cuisine around the door stops that my daughter and I produced this week.

And anyone who knows me knows that I love me some bread. I can make a mean loaf of whole wheat molases bread with baker's yeast, I can whip up biscuits like I'm in a State fair contest, and I can sure make some good European artisan style crusty bread. I'm even good at pie crust.

So, since it is my nature, I will keep trying, and someday I'll be able to blog about an excellent loaf of sourdough bread that I've made.

Meanwhile, I'll probably have to get up and make the kids some waffles in the morning. Because I KNOW they won't want that sourdough rye.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My Day

In my Kitchen:

working on the sour dough bread, supposedly the starter was ready today, so I started to knead more rye flour into the starter to make it into loaves. I hated the way it felt on my hands, very different from wheat flour, so Bethany gladly helped me out. I have my doubts about whether it will turn out or not. Tomorrow will tell, when I bake it. It's supposed to sit for another day after you make the dough.

I really doubt it will be good.

Lentil soup for a too-late dinner. I felt crummy from waiting too long to eat.

Out and About:

A group of homeschooling moms got together at the park today while our kids got to know one another. Our purpose: a support group for moms with kids who have Asprger's or ADHD, learning differences (especially social learning differences/challenges). It was SO good to be with other moms in this particular trench. We were all like parched people at an Oasis of fellowship. Our aspie kids were all begging us to go home LONG before we had had our fill. typical. But they got along.

Austim Land:

We are moving forward towards getting a diganosis for Maia and Eric. Maia's speech therapy evaluations came back clean and clear (no need for speech therapy) but certain markers on the tests that indicate possible autistic spectrum issues were really strong, so now she's slated for further testing when school starts back up in August. No surprises there. I predict that when it's all said and done, that three out of four of my kids will be diagnosed on the spectrum, and the other one has sensory issues. I wish I could buy each of them a weighted blanket.

Looking forward to:

Shopping for camp items starting tomorrow. It looks like Bethany might not go to camp after all. She's just not doing well enough. This makes me sad. For her and for me. I wanted a big break, and I KNOW she wanted to go. Sigh. If I were rich I'd take her to the beach or something. This makes me so sad.

Also looking forward to celebrating Wes and my 17th anniversary on Saturday. Who knows if we'll actually get to go out, because the day is filling up rapidly: Wes and the older girls have food pantry to volunteer at, I have Farmer's market shopping to do, Eric has a Pokemon tournament, and Bethany has a birthday party she's been invited to.

On Friday I'm meeting some new accquaintances to go to the zoo. Deliberately connecting with more families who have spectrum issues. Hope all goes well and we dont' get too fried.

Reflecting on:

Praying the Rosary more again lately. Good to do. I've been struggling lately with the post-pascha spritual slump and I sure hope to get out of it soon.

Also reflecting on the intentional nature of Christian virtue. Christian virtue is not a feeling, it's a choice.

Yesterday I was listening to pod casts about Church history while folding vast mountains of laundry. Nothing like Church history to liven up laundry folding.

Sorry my blogging has been so mundane lately. It's because my LIFE has been very mundane lately, too. And I seem currently incapable of deep thoughts or eloquence. But who says deep thoughts or eloquence are necessary for the Christian life? I think most of it is rather just putting one foot in front of the other and saying "yes" to God.

I miss my friends in Lexington.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Chicken Sunday

I bought a pastured chicken from the farmer's market on Saturday, and for Sunday dinner I roasted it in the oven, stuffed with some apple chunks, and some fresh basil under the skin, with olive oil drizzled over. Green beans, carrots and onions accompanied it on the roaster pan and into the oven.

Just like the grass fed beef tasted beefier, this chicken tasted chickeny-er, if that's possible. Very hard to describe. Chickeny-er is the best I can do.

I remember reading about something in French History, about someone (might have been either the goal of Napoleon, or the French Revolutionaries...can't quite recall) saying that their goal for the nation was a chicken in every pot on Sunday. I remember being astonished that perhaps a chicken would be enough for a week's worth of meat for a family.

But perhaps it is we who eat far too much meat? Out of that one chicken (about 3.5 pounds), I think our family will get at least three, if not four meals off the meat, and then all the bones, leftover veggies and an extra onions went into the crock pot with some vinegar and some water as soon as dinner was over, so I could make some chicken stock to get all the nutrients out of the bones.

When I strain it, I'll freeze the broth and throw the veggie and bone gunk out. All the good stuff will be in the broth by then.

I find that I really really like having stock on hand in the freezer. It makes quick nourishing lunch time soups so very easy to do. Just pop that frozen block (or blocks) into the pot, throw in some veggies and in just a few minutes, soup's on!

Sally Fallon, in Nourishing Traditions, tells of the protein sparing effect of having bone broth in one's diet. With a good broth, every little animal protein is needed to complete what is needed, and properly soaked beans can make that broth go a long way.

That being said, I still have some beef laid out for dinner tonight. Beefy pasta something sounds good, I think.

Official First Day of Summer Break

and we cleaned the apartment from top to bottom. The kids did more work than I did. Woot!

It feels good to have a clean place. Now I have less than two weeks to get everyone's stuff ready for camp.

I have fabric for a blouse to sew, and lots and lots of labels to make and iron into people's clothes. And some shopping to do.

Plans for the summer:

-Kids to camp for two weeks (which means Wes and I are solo for two. whole. weeks.--unless we have to pick B up after one week, depending on how she's doing at camp.)
-Getting last year's school papers organized and filed
-purchasing next year's home school text books and supplies
-Kids to spend time with cousins and grandparents
-ADD/LD/ASD social group (and mom support group) to form, people to get to know, etc.
-lots of long healthy walks
-trips to the park, zoo, pool, library
-the enjoyable reading of good books
-more food renegade type of cooking and learning to do
-farmer's markets, u-pick berry patches, etc.
-celebrating my 17th wedding anniversary (Wow, those numbers just get bigger and bigger!)