Monday, October 29, 2012

Fit throwing be gone ... part three (sent to room to calm down)

Now ... I must preface this post ... I am not feeling well ... seriously ... again ... I really thought that allergy season was over! Apparently not. It's not the type of sickness that would stop me from doing things ... just a super sinus disaster (headache, sore throat, etc [yanno ... the norm]) ... at least ... this is what I thought ... until at about 9:30 this morning when my eyes started killing me! Holy crap ... I feel as if they would be better if they just fell right out of my head. Since this morning my eyes have barely been open ... looking out of my eyes have felt like I have been looking out of the nose of Voldemort ... tiny slits ... I don't understand how he can breathe because I can very honestly barely see. Going out into the sun was murder ... I felt like a vampire ... R literally called me a blood sucker as we were traveling to his moms house because I was shying away from the sun ... I hissed at him. Luckily R stayed home from work today because he had to travel on Saturday ... I got to lay on the couch all day while he took a care of the munchkin ... oh yes! This post is about her ... well ... this was one extremely long explanation as to why this post is going to be short (ha! ... and to explain that if the writing sucks don't blame me ... blame Voldemorts nose [and the headache] ... man ... I really don't know how I am typing now).

Onto E ... we need an update on the fit throwing. Now ... reminding again ... I am doing a month long experiment with my step daughter (I always tell her each week what way we are dealing with things ... so it is not like I am doing this experiment to her) ... each week I am changing how I respond to her fit throwing (believe me ... she throws a lot of fits) ... last week I ignored her (first telling her I was going to ignore her until she calmed down) ... this week I put her in her room ... It was a good week.

It had been a full week since E had been to her mom's house ... which means that her fits are a little less frequent ... still there ... just less often. Regardless ... I learned something valuable this week.

I must remind everyone ... I am not a psychologist ... I acknowledge that every child is different and ever situation is different ... I only report on how each reaction to fits affected our family.

I learned that putting a child in their room may not work for children of all ages. E seems to already be in that age group who has learned to take advantage of being sent to their room. Example ... on Tuesday E and I were cleaning ... about an hour and a half into it (we still had about another hour and a half until we would be done) E started to throw a fit ... not a big one ... just a complaining one ... with crocodile tears ... and so she was sent to her room ... as soon as I told her to go up there the tears immediately stopped and a smile slyly slid onto her face ... That is when I knew ... she had been sent to her room twice the day before ... she knew the drill ... she knew that going to her room meant that she didn't have to clean ... that she could play even ... and so she purposefully threw a fit (I could have swore I heard her singing while going up the stairs ... but that could just be my paranoia). Who wouldn't throw a fit though ... I mean ... seriously ... I would pull stunts like that all the time when I was younger (always to get out of cleaning ... hello lazy child) ... If I didn't want to something that my mom was making me do I would either act tired or throw a fit and always get sent to my room ... awesome right ... I could do whatever I wanted in there. E made that exact same discovery! Another honest statement ... it's not like dear old mommy can stay there to make sure she does nothing but read a book ... hello bigger fit with a ton of wasted time.

Therefore ... I this is what I have deduced:

  1. This calm-down technique is made specifically for the toddler age group ... strictly 2-4 (or until you can officially declare that your child has grown smarter than you and has figured out your punishment and used it to their advantage).
  2. If you as a parent need a break from your screaming kiddo for a second this is the way to go. If your child is older then they have probably figured out how to use this technique as a weapon ... however ... sometimes that is ok. Sometimes it is mom or dad who are the real ones who need the calm down time ... therefore this is the way to go ... it doesn't exactly teach the kiddo anything if they are at that older stage ... but I could provide you with the time that you need to not rip the head, arm, or leg off of your beloved child. 
  3. This is probably something good to have in your back pocket ... you know ... in case you are the one who freaks out ... I think that infusing what disciplinary action you have decided works best for you with sending your child to their room (on those extra special occasions) you will find a way to keep both partied sane.
Ok ... I am losing it ... falling asleep and feeling like my eyes are on fire ... so I will end ... Next week I will be giving her the option between calming down and something horrible ... and then following through if she picks the horrible thing. It sounds fun ... and it sounds as if some of my household chores might get done (she did just come back from her moms).

Have a good night my friends, family, and followers! And happy parenting to you!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dear Handsome ...

R is traveling this week ... I know I have explained it before ... but I will just quickly explain it again ... R works for New Dawn Technologies here in Logan ... Which is a software product that judicial systems can buy ... what R does is he takes what that software and customizes it to whatever the customer wants. Every now and again R has to travel ... to give the customer the one on one time and training that they need for the product ... It usually works out that R leaves for one week a month. It may not sound like a lot ... but it sure feels like a lot (I feel literal pain for his coworkers ... many of them travel three times as much as he does).

So, with him being gone, I have decided to write him a letter ... WARNING: this post will contain severely mushy-gushy stuff ... if that makes your stomach turn than I suggest you stop reading right now.

Dear Handsome,

I hope you are well down there in Midland, Texas ... I have been there before ... not that great ... but I am sure that you will have fun ... you always have fun with everything!

I have been mulling over this letter for the past two days ... I want it to be perfect ... but I fear that I will never be able to put into perfect words how I feel about you ... and so ... with your trip half done ... I have decided to make you a top ten list explaining why I love you ... why I know you are amazing.

  1. You are an amazing bread-winner ... because of you I am able to be a stay at home mommy ... I am able to put food in my belly and clothes on my back. You work so hard to make sure that our little family is taken care of. You do everything you need to with work ... even travel ... to provide for us ... which brings me to my second point ...
  2. You are a hard worker. Even though I beg and plead for you to come home some days I know how important it is for you to stay at work. You know that too ... because you are a super hard worker. Sometimes you even work so hard that you work through lunch without even knowing! Aside from work you are such a hard worker at home ... you make sure that I know that it is your "job" to do that dishes ... and your job to get E ready for bed each night. As if your day wasn't tiring enough! 
  3. You are amazing dad! The way you love our lil E is so incredible to witness. Even though I may get angry with you sometimes because you play a little rough it is still so cute to see you playing with her. I know that she can tell that you love her! 
  4. You are a GENIUS. Sometimes ... you are so smart that you intimidate me ... and I thought I was smart! You seem to know everything ... whenever I have a question I know I can ask you and usually you will know the answer. If you don't know the answer you know where to go to look for it. 
  5. You are creative. This ties in with the last one ... because not only can you draw super well but you also are creative when it comes to work ... you create new ways to do things ... you can come up with new ideas on the spot. Most of them are genius! 
  6. You make me laugh! You are so funny ... the nerdy-ness is your humor is the best part of it! You are odd and weird and those are some of the most wonderful parts of you!
  7. You are sensitive. Whenever I need to cry, complain, or freakout you are always there to hold me or listen to me ... even if I am being ridiculous (which, lets be honest, I usually am)! With all of that you somehow manage to be understanding ... and help me through everything (even when I am a brat).
  8. You are always quick with five wonderful things. Whenever I am down I always ask for five wonderful things to remind me that this world is still a beautiful place ... you always are ready with them ... like you can feel when I have a bad day.
  9. I can tell you anything ... this is probably my absolutely favorite thing about our relationship! the face that we are able to be 100% open and honest with each other ... that we can talk twenty-four seven ... knowing everything about each other ... yet still learning new things and having new things to talk about everyday! I love that we don't have to drive in the car with music ... but that we just talk the entire time!
  10. I love that you love Heavenly Father more than you love me! I will forever be grateful for the amount of spiritual strength you have ... when I am weak you buoy me up and help me be strong again ... and vice versa ... we help each other! I love teaching our primary class together ... you are so good with those kiddos!
  11. I love that you skype with me all night when you are away! I look forward to 4:30 every night because I know that you are going to be on my phone looking back at me ... talking to me ... Sometimes I feel you are still here ... but then I remember that I can't reach out and hold your hand ... either way though ... I love how you stay on with me all night ... that we can still eat dinner together ... that we can still read scriptures together ... that we can still go to bed together. It gets me through when you are not here.
  12. I love how handsome you are ... from your back to you smile to your eyes ... everything about you is handsome! 
  13. I love how much you love me ... I can feel it ... it is practically palpable.
  14. You love my cooking ... no matter how many times I give you an out ... yanno ... we can always get pizza if it sucks ... yet somehow you always manage to go back for seconds and then lick you plate like it is the best thing you have ever tasted ... even though I know it isn't sometimes!
  15. We are so similar ... practically the same person ... in fact ... it is kind of eerie! We are often thinking the exact same thing at the exact same time ... even if we don't trust it ... it is usually the case! We can almost talk without speaking ... it is incredible!
Gosh boo ... I could go on and on ... you let me watch my lame shows and movies ... you help me clean ... you encourage me to follow my dreams ... you give me strength ... you are the most positive person I know ... you help me accomplish things I set out to do ... even though we have been together for three years it is still unbearable to be apart.

I only wanted to do ten things ... but you see ... you are so incredible that it is impossible to only name ten.  I just love you so much! I am so grateful for the day that you came into my life ... you came in and helped me from the beginning ... our lives were destined to be lived together ... you are my soul mate ... you are my person.We were truly forged together in a great fire ... one that I would gladly sit in again if it was the only way to bring me to you.

I am counting down the seconds until you get back ... practically literally. Get home soon ... get home safe ... I love you Ryan ... more that anything.

Your Wife

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Must Clarify ... my financial life ...

It has been brought to my attention through many sources that I have misspoke when it came to the word poor ... so I must clarify ... to do so I had to get clearance from my mom ... she gave it to me ... most people don't know this about our family ... it's like the divorce thing ... it's not like we intentionally hid it from the world ... if you were to ask us we would tell ... just not something we talk about freely ... and so here we go ...

My family moved a lot ... everyone asks me if we were in the military ... we were not ... just moved a lot as my dad followed different jobs. Where it started was Utah ... This is where a lot of the questioning came in ... actually ... it was all of the places ... but let me finish ... My daddy-o had a steady job in Utah ... as far as I knew ... and know ... my parents renovated our house ... it toke them eight years ... just about as many years as we lived in that house ... about a year after we finished it (well ... maybe the timeline is off .. I was only twelve). While living in that house we lived with plastic over a tub that was covered in mold ... the flooring was wood (particle board with nails ... not the pretty wood floors) ... the flooring (and some walls) in the basement were cement ... Regardless ... we were improving ... our house was ever improving ... we always had toys on Christmas ... I always had birthday parties ... We had nice clothes (not all were hand-me-down ... but thank you Betsy Knudsen for giving me your wardrobe after you grew out of it ... my sisters would not have suited my style at the time) ... we played sports (not sure if those are free or not) ... We lived a good life there. However, that is where the financial problems began ...

Before I start this story ... I must inform you that my parents are financially sound ... whatever I say about how they were is in the past is in the past ... when this story is done I will tell you how they did it and how they live now ... it is night and day different ... my parents are true champions!

So back to Utah ... It was told to me that this is where all the financial mistakes began happen ... Mom and Dad took out a second mortgage on our house (which I don't know was necessary or not) to start a business ... a business that would have succeeded if mom and dad didn't use the profits for personal reasons ... hence why we had nice clothes and got bikes for Christmas. However, they did use the money to provide us with a better lifestyle ... and so we had to move to Pennsylvania.

Those of you Hersheyites should know that my favorite place to live was among you guys ... each and every one of you touched my soul and I will never forget you ... my friends were a lot of the reason why I both did and didn't realize that our material wealth began to lack ... I started in Hershey in seventh grade ... just when kids get mean ... My wardrobe lacked a little ... the popular girls looked so nice ... Fashion in PA is different in UT (it also didn't help that a lot of my clothes that I wore were from elementary school) ... but that is neither here nor there. What I saw during the first two years of living in Hershey is what jaded my view of what poor is ... My big sister was always provided with things beyond the means of my parents wallets ... her clothes were new ... she was given a car ... she was given prom dresses (fully altered to fit her) ... her first year of college was paid for ... she was given the luxuries (things that you don't need in middle school ... you really don't need much then) ... I am not saying she was spoiled (if you want to know exactly what I think of her you should read the blog post tribute that I did of her on her birthday) ... She was just lucky enough to hit the big milestones in her life where mom and dad had a little money.

Hershey is around the point where Erin and I got jobs ... mine was only babysitting ... but remember ... I'm only twelve to sixteen here. Er and I didn't keep our money ... it went into what we now call a big family pot ... we gave our money to our parents so they could pay bills. (I am not saying that this is a negative thing ... I am just giving facts ... this kind of thing has been done for many years ... not so much anymore ... but it has)

Then Erin moved away ... dad lost his job ... a lot of things changed ... we still had a roof over our heads (mom and dad bought a house with a pool ... another to remodel) ...we still had food ... but there was no more money for extras ... I remember that last year in PA ... it was rough ... Christmas time especially ... there was little money to heat the house ... there was little money for food (the church brought us a box of food) ... and absolutely no money for presents ... I remember my little brother wrapped up a little toy animal of his for each of us ... to represent our personalities ... it turned out to be the most powerful and family unifying Christmas we had ever had (seriously suggest it if you feel like your kiddos might be getting a little present crazy around that time of year)

Dad finally found a good job in Texas ... we moved to Texas ... I only lived there for two years ... There was so much financial damage brought over from both Utah and especially Pennsylvania that we were in a deep hole ... There was no more money ... period ... my parents continued to be financially unwise ... but in ways I still don't even understand yet ... this is where I started to really feel poor.

I began to hit the milestones that my sister hit when she got all of her nice things ... however, my milestones came without the nice things ... without anything really ... but that is ok ... I have never really been a materialistic person ... but no matter the person ... no matter how they look at life ... it is difficult to see an older sibling get what they  don't .... I just happened to be the unlucky one to hit those milestone stages when my parents really had no money to spare.

That is where my taint lies ... you see ... I have always had food on the table ... I have always had a roof over my head and clothes on my back ... my parents always had two cars (even when one was just a company car) ... I was never "poor" ... not in the technical sense ... I guess a better way to put it was that I was poor in spirit ... My parents did not have a lot of money ... at times we barely scraped by ... but I never went without on the basic human needs.There are so many people in the world ... even in the United states here ... that go without these human needs ... and it is a travesty ... how in the hell (sorry ... I swore) can so few people have so much and so many have so little ... It doesn't make sense to me. But that is a different rant for a different day.

I am sorry for saying that I have been poor my entire life ... but I have felt poor ... I never had what my friends had ... heck ... I never had what my own sister had ... and so I felt poor. I still feel I was poor ... I feel I am poor still.

Maybe I should tell that story now too ... it isn't too long ...

Chris (the first hubby ... I wrote a post about the divorce if you want to read it) and I seemed to have the life ... we didn't pay for anything ... we were apartment managers getting our bills paid for and getting paid to live there ... getting paid extra for working on things there ... we each had a job ... the only thing we paid for was our cell phones ... but this was before the data plan became the hype ... so even this bill wasn't too expensive. We had nice things (maybe not exactly my taste ... but nice all the same). This is another way I am tainted to feel as if I am poor ... Chris would not let me buy anything for myself ... I felt as if we were poor because every time I would ask to buy even a new shirt I would get in trouble and told that we didn't have money for that. On top of that there were loans taken out ... student loans ... in my name ... five thousand a semester for two years ... unforgivable ... I had no clue. Before anyone asks if I am going to fight it you have to understand that I can't ... I've already looked into it ... these loans were electronically signed for ... and all of my information was given ... there is no way to prove that it was not me ... therefore ... they are mine ... to pay off ... twenty thousand dollars ... on top of the ten I already had taken out as a freshman to get up to school ... oh ... and the twelve thousand I used to get my car ...

Yes ... I feel poor ... I have felt poor for a very long time ... again ... no loss of basic human needs ... but can you really argue with feelings?

Things to take away:
  1. When I left for college my parents turned their financial life around ... they found Dave Ramsey and financial freedom. No joke, they are some of the most financially smart people I know now. What they did ... and what R and I are now trying to do ... is they lived on "rice and beans" until they paid off all of their debt that they had accrued over the years ... they barely left the house (luckily they had church callings and friends that got them out) and even more rarely did they spend money ... everything that was bought was basically necessity only. They started with their smallest debt and moved to their largest ... slowly but surely knocking it all out ... until they accomplished their goal! Now ... my parents are debt free and working on their savings ... I am so proud of them ... you cant even begin to imagine how financially wise they are ... I look up to them so much to change completely from where they came from to where they are now! I highly suggest looking at that Dave Ramsey link I gave and following in their footsteps ... it is what we are doing ... it is hard ... but I have seen the sun that comes out on the other side ... and it is brilliant! Remember the saying ... "live like no one else today to that you can live like no one else tomorrow"
  2. Be aware of your financial situation when you decide to strike out on your own. Make sure that you are managing your money ... not letting it manage you ... if you don't have the funds to go on that wicked cool adventure then don't. I'm not saying don't live your life ... just realize that if you borrow now you still have to pay it back later ... it's harder to play catch up than it is to just have the money in the first place.
  3. When you get married make sure that the budget making and the financially planning/spending is done completely as a couple. Be completely aware of everything that goes down with your newly combined bank accounts. You don't want to happen to you what happened to me ... It is so easy to just let the other do all of the finances ...  but don't let them ... have ... at very least ... monthly checks with each other ... look at your accounts ... rework you budget ... doing it all together.  
Now ... have a great night everyone! Remember what I said ... I tell you these things not to feel bad at me ... but to learn from my life! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fit Throwing be gone ... part two (ignoring)

Week one is over ... Now ... just to make sure everyone is up to speed ... I am doing a month long experiment with my four year old to see what will help cure the case of the fit-throwing (if you want to go back and read that blog it is here). This week I tackled the first suggestion ... telling the child that I will ignore her until she calms down then actually ignoring her.

E got back from her mom's house last Sunday night ... I felt that that would be an appropriate time to start ... all things considered ... again ... you can go back and read the other post for more details. And so it began ... the first fit was Monday morning ... I told her I was going to ignore her ... I did ... worked like a charm ... no joke ... lil E calmed down so quick it scared me ... this seemed to confirm what I had always suspected ... fits were for attention ...if she wasn't going to get attention why throw a fit right? Monday only had one other fit ... Tuesday followed suit with only one fit of it's own ... I was in Heaven! I was about ready to blog and call the whole experiment off because I had found my solution ... but then came Wednesday.

Oh Wednesday ... lovely Wednesday ... we used to call it hump day until we got a child ... to all reasons you just thought in your head ... yes ... that is why! ha! Wednesday hit me like a sack of bricks ... E did not want to wear the shirt I had picked out for her (remember, school day = I choose day) ... it was a hoodie (I may or may not have yanked it off of her head a little hard while trying it on in the store ... completely freaking her out ... I plead the fifth). And so the fit began; however, this was not a normal fit ... this was something I had rarely seen before ... I told her I would ignore her until she calmed down ... I did ... it worked ... after about fifteen minutes. Whoa ... what happened? I was not used to this at all ... where was the angel from the last two days ... the one who calmed down immediately after I started to ignore her ... holy crap ... This was crazy. Luckily (scoff) it did not end there ... after we were all ready to go ... running a little late because of the duration of the fit ... I had E run back up to grab her jacket while I grabbed my downstairs ... she comes slowly slinking down the stairs ... with a toy behind her back ... for who knows why ... E always brings a toy in the car ... I always say yes when she asks (this is another blog post I have to write about ... do your kiddos ask you if they can do anything ... because E asks about everything [no joke ... she will come into our room to wake us up every morning just to ask if she can play with the toys in her room ... which we have told her many times to do if she wakes up before us]) ... this time she was acting weird ... so I just told her that she needed to walk a little faster but that she can bring the cat (that's what she had hiding behind her back) ... she seemed taken aback for a millisecond ... then she took the cat from behind her back and was like "no ... nevermind" and threw it back up the stairs ... oh ... ok ... so we hustled out the door and she was just about to get in the car when the crocodile tears started ... hello flood gates ... nice to see you have opened again. If it were possible ... unfortunately it was ... this fit was worse than the other .. it takes us twenty minutes to drive to school ... she was screaming the entire twenty. First it was because she wanted the toy (we were already late ... I had already locked the house ... there was no turning around here) ... second because she wanted music on. Now ... when you ignore them you should not give into them at all ... E and I usually listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks Pandora radio on the way to school ... she really looks forward to it ... and it is fun for us to dance and sing together ... but there was no break in her fit this Wednesday morning ... none ... it went straight from one thing to the other ... hence no music ... hence unhappy baby. What was the most killer was the amount of times she said "mom", "moma", and "mommy" ... also the amount of times she told be that I was "hurting her life" ... It took everything I had not to cry ... or scream at her to stop ... I was on the edge of a tipping point ... luckily school was there to catch my fall.

Wednesday didn't get any better ... nor did the rest of the week (though none as bad as Wednesday) ... it was rough ... so I recommitted myself to the experiment ... vowing to see it to the end.

What I learned from this week:
  1. This seems as if it will be one of the simplest of all of them ... really, the effort it requires is minimal (unless you have a moment like I did Wednesday morning). You say you are going to do it and you do it ... all the while you get to continue on with whatever it was you were doing ... or whatever it is you need to do. They may follow you around ... but really ... their fit will rarely affect you ability to do whatever you want while you are ignoring them. 
  2. Ignoring really does seem to work ... that is ... unless you ignore them a lot in the first place because you are too busy with other things ... then it only seems to enlarge the fits. With E ... if we already weren't paying attention to her, her fits would be louder and longer. If we were paying attention to her, her fits would be a lot quieter and shorter. 
  3. For E ... this really seemed to bring so many of her insecurities. I do not know how she was raised before she got to R and I ... I can only make assumptions ... but I don't like to do that. But by ignoring her it was crazy how quickly she calmed down the first couple of days and then had a blow up day on Wednesday and then ... get this ... created a sadness in her eyes. I don't really understand what it is yet ... but there is this new sadness to E ... she now says that things are he fault ... she isn't treating other children or adults with the kindness that she used to (no joke [I know I keep saying that ... deal] ... her teacher told R that she had a hard day on Friday). I don't know if it was this ignoring thing that brought out all of these negative feeling for E ... or (and I honestly feel this way) ... I am not doing as good of a job of parenting that everyone says I am ... maybe I am being to cold (I do feel distanced sometimes) ... and by me being so cold a distant I am creating this negative affect upon E and it is finally getting to her because it has officially manifested itself in this ignoring thing. Maybe it is me. (I need advice from other moms I think ... other step-moms might be the best)
I am sure that I will have more to say when about ignoring when I complete next week ... Which is putting E in her room with a book to calm down, not being able to come out of her room until she is calm. It seems as if this week is going to be a little bit more time consuming that last ... a little more difficult ... we shall see ... I may be sticking to this ignoring this after  all ... if I can figure out the sadness thing!

Ok! good luck parenting my friends (I know I need it myself ... so yanno ... good karma for wishing it for you)!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Brown Sugar Garlic Chicken

So ... this is just going to be a random post .. I may throw a recipe in at the end ... I mean ... I have around three to publish ... I have just been a slacker in the blog department!

Oh my heck ... another place I have been a slacker ... picture taking ... no joke ... I could wring my own neck for all the photo ops I've missed these past two days along (if you follow me on instagram ... or facebook ... I have been going on a photo binge for the past couple of hours ... sorry ... ok ... not sorry ... they are cute [I may be bias]). I mean ... there have been some fun happenings at the Combe residence ... Yesterday we had some kiddos and their mommies over to bake and decorate sugar cookies (all thanks to my friend Sarah who put it together [OH ... and no joke ... totally had to go grocery shopping an hour before because not only were we out of food ... but we were out of toilet paper ... try having people over like that! ... fastest shopping trip ever]) ... really though ... the flour was everywhere (especially on the shirts of the little ones) ... frosting was flying (purple, green, orange, black, and blue) ... orange, purple, and black sprinkles were dumped all over some cookies then sparsely laid over others ... faces were all smiles through crumbs and frosting as the kiddos tasted their very first cookie. What a day ... thank you moms for bringing your kids ... and yourselves ... you all filled our home with joy, laughter, and good company ... we will for sure have to do it again some day soon ... Christmas cookies maybe (I guess that doesn't make for a soon get together ... but I couldn't think of another holiday [if we even need a holiday ... because I don't think we do] off the cuff that you make cookies for)!

Another thing I forgot to take pictures of (I know ... if I wasn't kicking myself enough already for the cookie party) was our family trip to the pumpkin patch! This was the first time R and I took E ... Her eyes were so wide as she riffled through the boxes of "baby" pumpkins (really the medium sized ones) that I could have sworn they were about to pop out of her head! She carefully picked out her pumpkin ... which I refer to as the runt of the box ... seriously ... the smallest "medium" pumpkin I have ever seen ... She held that pumpkin like a baby ... sometimes talking to it (no joke) ... patiently ... as she waited for R and I to pick our own ... when we got into the car she refused to let us put it in the trunk with the other pumpkins ... she had to hold it on her lap ... yes ... she did get dirt everywhere ... but what is a little dirt to the safety of a baby pumpkin right? When we got home she gingerly laid it down in front of the pumpkins around out front door ... "fits right in" she said ... tomorrow we will bring all our precious finds over to grandmas where they will wait for the impending competition that comes every year at grandma's annual Halloween party (yes ... R wins every year ... yes ... his family hates him a little for the following half our ... yes ... we love it)!

So that's it! See what I did there ... I tried to paint a picture with my words ... get it ... because I had no pictures ... ha! But that was our last couple of days! I hope you enjoyed!

And now a recipe ... I wanted to post the recipe to the sugar cookies and frosting we used to tie it in ... but not only did I not take pictures ... but I think I should get clearance from my beautiful mother-in-law who provided me with the recipes ... and so rather I will give you the recipe to this chicken that has been floating around pinterest ... found originally over at ... which is also known as Es favorite chicken ... but for the benefit of the public who read this blog we will just call it:

Brown Sugar Garlic Chicken:

4 chicken breasts
4 cloves garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp brown sugar 

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Let chicken thaw. Mince garlic then sautee in olive oil. Once Garlic is goldeny-brown stir in brown sugar. Place chicken in baking dish and spread garlic/sugar mixture over the chicken. Bake for 15-30 minutes. Devour (believe me ... you will)

And finally ... For some of you this picture will be a repeat ... but Es face kills me ... so I had to post it. Our little four year old is so independent that I let her help mince the garlic ... its her favorite job:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Something New ...

Hey yo! I know ... it's a couple days since I have posted and now you are all feeling Amy deprivation ... I get it ... Ha! Ok ... ok ... It wasn't that bad ... but what has kept me away is something new ... something exciting ... something scary!

So R and I are not in the best financial seat ... maybe I will tell that story one day ... it's a good one to learn from ... when I talk about divorce again I probably will talk about it ... but I hate it when I share my sob stories ... I do it only to help people ... not to make people feel bad for me ... but for some reason when I tell my financial sob story people don't think what they can get out of it (or just gain an understanding of why I can't do as much that costs money) ... they just feel bad for me ... well ... now you know that you will know how to take the story when I tell it! yay!

Anyway ... I often find myself complaining about how poor we are ...unsettled about the position that we are in in life ... not that I want to be rich ... that's not it at all ... I have just been poor my entire life (I'll tell that story too ... when I get clearance from my mommy) ... and I am ready to just be comfortable ... not have to worry about living from paycheck to paycheck ... I tell these kind of things to R all the time ... and it is not fair ... I don't do anything about it ... I just expect him to do it ... I mean ... I'm here taking care of his daughter ... which is a job ... and which is what he tells me all the time ... but I hate that I complain and yet do nothing about it. Which has brought me to what the something new that I am talking about ... My new and wonderful friend Misty called me on Monday because she was in desperate (little exaggeration there) need of someone to come with her to a meeting ... she hadn't been all summertime to her meetings and wanted to go but needed to bring someone ... so I said yes ... I needed to make new friends and she needed someone to go with her ... perfect fit! Now mind you ... I have been to these kind of parties before ... a lot before ... hasn't everyone ... and lets be honest ... they are pretty awful if you aren't interested ... but something was different this time ... I felt now that I could do this ... that I should do this ... not for the perks it provides ... but for the ability to pay off debt ... to finally get a camera or a puppy ... or even just a new shirt! So my friends ... it has happened ... I have become a

Mary-Kay Consultant!

I know ... way to bury the lead ... but there it is ... a Mary-Kay consultant. I know what you are thinking ... well ... those of you who have known me for longer than about two years ... she is too shy for that! what! Well ... yea ... that is why it is scary ... and why I will need your support ... I am terrified ... I don't know if I will be able to do it ... but I have my goals ... I really want to be out of debt ... and I really want a new camera ... and I don't want to have to wait ten years (R and I were on track for about two years to be out of debt ... but then we took on E full time ... and I could no longer work [trust me ... in Logan it makes no sense for moms to work because your entire paycheck will be going straight to day-care ... that's how little they pay you here is Logan] ... meaning debt pay off was looking more like five to ten years). I don't want to complain about anything anymore ... I have such a great and blessed life ... so I'm also trying to eliminate my complaining habits with this.

And so my friends ... I need help ... I never would ever expect anyone of my friends or family to buy things for me ... but what I need help with is the encouragement (which everyone has already proven to be amazing at with this blog)!

However ... of course ... let me know if you need/want product ... or want a facial ... I am always willing and wanting to be able to to things for people I know ... more of a comfort zone! OH! also ... If I call or text you and ask if you want a facial or want product (I am going to do this new challenge soon ... I'll announce it) ... know that I probably had to say a prayer before and am shaking when I am talking to you (no matter the amount of strength I gained from the divorce the phone still freaks me out!) ...  and so if you are going to say no please let me down gently (though some of you are already obligated to let me do whatever I want to your face ... cough ... Christen ... Erin ... cough)! haha! Not that you won't be nice ... because I already know that I have the most amazing friends, family and readers ever on the face of this planet ... I'm not just saying that to butter you up so you buy product from me ... I actually mean it!

Thanks everyone! Have a splediforous rest of your day!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkin Party!

So ... it's late ... I know ... believe me ... I know ... with my new body schedule (more like military regime it has forcibly had me abide to) I would generally be asleep two and a half hours ago ... but even this divorcee-step-mommy-full time housewife gets some wild and fun times too (ok ok ...we don't go wild ... well ... a little we do)!

We dropped E off halfway to her moms (no, she did not have to hitchhike the rest of the way ... she is only four ... it's just our meeting place) which meant that we get to have a date night! Of course we took full advantage (I mean ... what is better than dipped ice cream cones from Macey's [grocery store] and driving by the temple [we couldn't find a good parking spot {hard these days} at ten o'clock at night]) ... But I promise tonight was better (depending on who you ask)! My dear best friend, her hubs, and our sisters came up to party with us! Everything done was her idea ... but I assure you ... it was a blast ... it always is when we get together!

So tonight we went to the pumpkin patch (I'm just gonna say it ... everyone was lame except R and I ... they just stayed by the pumpkins already picked ... R and I totally wandered throughout the patch and got to pick our own perfect pumpkins!) ... If you are looking to do this in Logan ... the place across from Ted's gas station (old, broken down) is the place to go (Allison - they are finally letting people wander ... I was going to text you when we got there and found out ... but then I realized I don't have your number ... that should change!).

What you should know about Christen ... and I am almost positive I have said this before ... is that she is an amazing chef ... seriously ... and so she made sure she stocked her car with goodies for us to eat ... holy caramel popcorn to die for ... I'll try to get the recipe from her and ask if I can share it ... because it is fabulous! But what we didn't think to get was pumpkin carving stuff (thank goodness ... I'm not exactly the biggest fan of the guts inside ... yuck) ... so we decided to paint them! They turned out great ... well ... I kinda got bored halfway through and so only the front side of my pumpkin is done ... short attention span! But that's ok because everything is an adventure when Erin and Heather are around! Holy crap ... they kill me ... so hilarious! We ended the night with a movie ... it was supposed to be Hocus Pocus (the only Halloween movie I really watch) ... but R was dying to see the first Sherlock Holmes ... and they had it ... so we watched it ... pretty good movie!

Anyway ... It's late ... so this is all rambling word vomit (worse than before ... when I'm tired exclamation marks fly like birds fly south for the winter ... apparently I'm excited when I'm tired) ... so I'll just leave you with pictures then head off to dream land.

R and I picking our perfect pumpkins
Heather and Christen ... my soul sisters
This was supposed to be a Christen getting sandwiched by boobs ... she has serious bubble issues ... as in ... touch her and she becomes a ninja and you die ... hence why we always have to touch her in awkward ways! Also featured are Erins (green ... supposed to be an M&M ... didn't work out so well) and Heathers pumpkins (face ... CUTE!)!
Christens' old man pumpkin! Isn't it awesome!
My pumpkin
What the boys did all night ... because painting pumpkins didn't sound as cool to them as it did to us
Fired up the Kinect for some fruit slice ... Hilarious!!!
Then for some game I don't know ... but it was funny to watch too!

One last thing ... after it was all said and done ... everything got cleaned up ... i forgot that I had promised our primary class kiddos cookies if they completed our challenge to watch conference ... hello eleven o'clock cookie making ... at least they look kinda yummy:

Ok! have a great night friends!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fit Throwing be gone (part 1) ... well ... at least we are gonna try

Oh hey! soooo ... I have been looking back over my blogs ... I mean there aren't too many ... I've only been at this a month. Regardless, I have noticed that I have forgotten to do things that I have promised! Geez ... how rude right! ha! So here is what I want to do ... with this post I am going to introduce the experiment I am starting with E and her fit throwing. The next ones to follow will be my backlog of broken promises (history of the watermelon, tutorial for diaper motorcycle [aka: what I made my sister-in-law ... secrets out ... parties over], and there was something else but I don't remember right now ... whoops). I also realized that I need to include more family ones ... I mean ... I have kinda been taking the easy way out with all the recipes ... ha!

So to start ... I fell asleep last night at 9:30 ... 9:30 ... this mom stuff is no joke ... I shouldn't be this tired this early! I'm only 24! That is the reason why I didn't post last night ... yea ... I still can't believe 9:30 either! But what I was wanting to write about last night was E and her fit throwing ... so I'll do that now.

Whenever E goes to her mom's house for longer than one night there is a dramatic change within her behavior. Not last weekend but the one before she was with her mom for 3 night ... The child who came back was not the child I sent ... this was the worst I have ever seen E behave since we have had her ... everything became a burden to her, everything a chore ... she no longer liked anything ... and so tears and angry voices were exchanged up to ten times a day (this is not an exaggeration) ... let me give you an example ... E would be getting ready for school and her comments would go like this "I'm still tired, I don't want to eat, I want to eat, I hate that cereal, I don't want to eat that, I don't like these clothes, I don't want to go to school, I want to go to school, your hurting my hair, why can't I wear makeup, etc." ... and this was just before school ... it was like this all day everyday ... negative commentary for everything with intermittent tears and throwing herself on the ground. All of this didn't just last a couple of days like normal ... no ... this behavior has lasted up until yesterday. Again, no exaggeration. Just about two full weeks of this behavior ... I think I managed fairly well in the beginning, the first week ... but then I started to hit the end of my rope ... I was fraying from the inside out ... My voice levels began to elevate as well ... I got more and more frustrated with this situation that I have gotten myself into.

On Tuesday of this week I made a desperate plea to my mother friends on facebook ... I had officially lost it ... she called me mean and I lost it ... got straight up from the chair where I was doing her hair, locked myself in my bedroom, and cried for 20 minutes straight while she did likewise outside the door (only difference was that my cry was silent [I don't like her to see me cry ... long story that maybe I will tell one day] and hers was filled with anger and trying to calm down ... I even got my very first "run away" threat ... didn't know they did that at four) ... I now had no clue what to do so I turned to R and my friends ... the answers I got were diverse and helpful. I have decided that I am going to do an experiment with E ... see which way works the best ... and maybe help some moms out there too!

What I plan to do is do a week with each answer ... here they are ... In the order I plan to do them:
  1. Ignoring her ... but right before I ignore her telling her that I will only talk to her when she is calm (Thanks Karinne and Meredith!)
  2. Sending her to her room with a book to calm down (Thanks Laura!)
  3. Give her the option between calming down or something horrible scrubbing the bathroom floor (can a four year old do that?) (thanks Amanda!)
  4. Make a "Yes Chart" ... every time she chooses to listen and obey instead of throwing a fit then she gets to put a sticker on a chart and so many stickers gets her something special (Thanks Elizabeth!)
See! They are all such great ideas ... I think in a way they will all work I will post my results and how each worked and how each affected her ... from this I hope to help all you moms out there with fit throwing kiddos find what works best for you! I should note that I did get multiple suggestions for spanking ... However R does not believe in that ... and I have to say ... That after reading the response from my old friend Meredith I have been completely converted (I never really thought that I would ... but I was a fence sitter) ... thank you so much for explaining that so clearly Mer!

Now ... I should clarify ... E's behavior changes when she is with us for extended period of time without going to see her mom ... usually it only takes her a couple of days to get back to normal (fewer to no fits ... and an all over more positive outlook on life) from being with her mom ... but this time she took much much longer ... I don't want this to be the new transition period ... I know I should let her take as long as she needs ... but tomorrow she goes back to see her mom (yes ... I am slightly dreading what will return to me) ... I only got two days of "normal" E ... I don't think for my own sanity I could have her take another two weeks to transition to a positive attitude ... and so this is the real reason why I am doing this experiment ... ha ... I always seem to do things for selfish reasons don't I!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Creamy Crock Pot Chicken

Hello again friends! I have another new recipe ... get excited because it is super good ... Rs plate is still out so I can take a picture of what it looks like after he finished eating this meal ... its worth it ... promise.

So E takes ballet every Tuesday from 3:15 to 4pm ... now ... one thing you should know about her place of ballet instruction is that it is the community center here in Logan ... for those of you not living here you should be made aware that there is a gigantic playground outside. E always wants to go and play after class but I always have to go home and cook dinner so it can be ready for when R gets home from work. This week I decided that with winter coming E really needed to get out there and play ... and now we have introduced into the Combe family Crock Pot Tuesdays!!! Today was the first crock pot Tuesday ... so I wanted it to be great ... However ... E slept in until about 9:15 today ... no joke ... so R and I did too ... score! This also meant that we were a little lazy until about 12:30 today ... yup ... so I needed something simple ... this is when I remembered pinning this recipe from the stick a fork in it blog (which happens to also be one of my moms favorite movie quotes) a couple of weeks ago! hallelujah! easy ... yummy ... cheap ... just what we like in the Combe family!

Creamy Crock Pot Chicken:

2-4 frozen or thawed chicken breasts
8 oz. cream cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg. dried Italian dressing seasoning
2-4 servings of rice (we prefer jasmine rice the best ... suuuuper yummy with this)

If cream cheese is still hard (like mine was because it has been sitting in the fridge) then combine cream cheese, cream of chicken soup, and Italian dressing seasoning and cook in crock pot on low for 30 minutes (this softens the cream cheese enough to stir everything together). Next, add chicken and cook until your own chosen dinner time (high = 4-6 hrs, low = 6-8 hrs). Cook rice. Serve chicken (we shredded our chicken after we got it onto our plates) and sauce over rice. Enjoy!
In the words of E ... this dish is delish (delish is her new favorite word ... apparently children can pick up attributes of the step parents too ... sweet ... she gets my vocab! love it!)! This is what Rs plate looked like after dinner was over:
Yes ... he did lick it clean ...

Ok ... have an awesome night you guys! Tomorrow I am starting an experiment with E and her fit throwing using all the different ideas given to me by my wonderful friends ... one week trials with each (I think R put the kibosh on spanking ... dang ... isn't that one supposed to be the fun one ... ha!) ... we will see how it goes!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Easy Breaded Parmesan Chicken

ok ... I'm going to make this post short, just like the chicken of which recipe I am posting! R, E, and I were at a wedding all day (I will post a picture of the place after this recipe ... it was amazingly beautiful!!) ... this was chicken that I made the other night ... but worth a post. So this chicken was pinned on pinterest with the name "OMG Chicken" ... but I'm not gonna lie ... I hate that phrase ... So I call it "super easy yummy chicken". Now ... I did not alter the recipe at all (ok ok ... except for making the breadcrumbs from scratch) ... however, I do have some suggestions (in some ways this chicken was a little bland) ... I'll post them after the recipe too ... but it was super easy to make and that is usually important to all mommies out there (I know it is to me).

Easy Breaded Parmesan Chicken:

link to original recipe here
4 chicken breasts
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 parmesan cheese
italian breadcrumbs (to your hearts content ... again I made and used fresh ... if you need to know how to make them look to my Chicken in Basil Cream Sauce recipe for directions)

Mix the sour cream and parmesan cheese. Spread mixture over chicken. Sprinkle as many breadcrumbs as suits you over top. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

See ... Easy! Now ... it would not hurt to add a little salt to taste ... to be honest it tasted a little cinnamon-y at first bite ... I am not quite confident enough in my cooking skills to throw out what would compliment that ... if you have any idea what would help please let me know! Otherwise, my only thought would be salt or even a clove of garlic minced ... that would be yummy! Either way ... it is easy ... and that is important!

Now ... pictures from this amazing wedding (R's cousin Kelli just got married ... her venue was up Sundance Canyon in Provo, UT ... it was at a cabin that looked up onto Mount Timpanogos ... seriously gorgeous ... my party planning senses were tingling!)

View that was behind the couple as they were getting married  ... a little inversion ... but beautiful!

Not the best pic of R and I ... but had to prove that that was the view!
Congratulations to the beautiful couple!!! Thank you so much for letting us be a part of your special day!!

Just for good measure I had to throw this picture in of E ... very few times does she actually show people her mad ballet skills ... yesterday she decided to show them! Here is a picture of her showing her moves at grandma's house ... Enjoy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Crock Pot Loaded Cheesy Potato Soup

It's fall time everyone ... yanno ... thought I would announce it just in case you didn't notice ... but that means that recipes shift! It is now not sooo blazing hot outside that turning on your stove makes your house become Hell itself. Aside from that, it means that it is soup time! Yes ... there is a preface to even this story ... so ... I am not so much a soup person ... I like it just fine when given it (you know ... no other options type thing) ... but never really been one to seek it out ... until today. I have joined a recipe exchange group (thank you so much Sarah for inviting me!) that some of the girls in my ward started (two reasons - maybe get out of the whole chicken and pasta thing that I always do ... and two - make more friends[Thanks girls! It was so much fun])! Super exciting ... I know.

Well, the theme for this month was fall soups. "Ok ... Ok ... if I have to" (internal monologue) ... so began my journey to find an amazing soup (you know when you first start in a group and what you do/say has to be quality ... yea ... that way they don't "forget" to invite you next time ... that was my mindset). First, I called my best friend (I really need to come up with a name for her on here so I stop just saying "my best friend" ... I mean ... I talk about her enough) ... she is an AMAZING chef ... seriously ... way better than me ... and she told me of this soup that she had just made ... holy crap it looks amazing ... heck ... I'm even going to link the recipe ... I was planning on doing this lasagna soup ... but then I realized that I hate tomatoes ... yup ... I said it ... I think they are yucky ... everything from ketchup to pizza sauce ... can't stand them ... so why would I make a soup that has a tomato base? Sorry Christen ... I couldn't bring myself to do it ... you'll have to make it for me to convince me otherwise. And then this lil beauty fell into my lap (original found here)... seriously ... I was on pinterest for maybe two minutes before I heard it calling to me (almost literally ... I'm so not joking) ... it was potato (which I love) ... it was easy (which I also love) ... therefore it was mine. As always I have made some changes that I really feel make it phenomenal ... maybe you will have to try it both ways and tell me yourself which way is better. Anyway ... here it is:

Crock Pot Loaded Cheesy Potato Soup:

funny about this picture ... I actually forgot to take a picture until I had already put the soup into the freezer ... so I hurried and took it out and put the garnish on it ... just to scrape the garnish out and dump it back into the tupper ware to go back in the freezer ... yup ... what I do for this blog

5 lb russet potatoes (peeled or not ... your choice ... I peel mine) diced
3 tbsp fresh garlic minced
1 whole onion chopped (best to use white or yellow ... I used white)
64 oz chicken broth/stock
16 oz cream chees
2 c. (1 pkg) cheddar cheese
4-8 slices of bacon (I used turkey bacon ... I only needed feeble attempt to be healthy) ripped up
bacon, sour cream, chives, or shredded cheese (all for garnish)

Combine first 4 ingredients in crock pot (low = 8 hrs ... high = 5hrs). Once cooked use hand mixer to combine cream cheese and contents of crock pot. Stir in cheddar cheese and bacon bits. Garnish with sour cream, chives or even more cheese or bacon ... or even all four!!

Super simple right!!! seriously ... I was amazed at how well it tasted ... I mean ... this was the first soup I have ever made ... I think it worked ... one for the books ... perfect to the perfect fall day ... enjoy (I know you will)!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Box Elder Bugs ... the story of an infestation ...

Oh hey! Recently there has been a sudden appearance of these things:

delightful right? Wrong ... these things are lean mean killing machines ... in the most sarcastic of ways ... these kung-foo fighting bugs strike when you are least prepared ... flying at your face ... landing on you ... crawling around inside your house ... worst of all they congregate around your door (most likely plotting their next strike) preventing you from entering or leaving your house (at least without having to sprint). There is a reason for their coloring ... red and black ... it's called mark of the devil.

I was reading an article last night ... trying to figure out how to kill these conspiring groupies ... and all they said was that this bug is no more than a nuisance bug ... are you kidding?!?!? they are more than a nuisance ... they are spawn of Satan himself!! All I want it to be able to leave my home without being rampaged by millions of flying torpedoes ...  is that too much to ask?

There were two other things that I learned from this article ... apparently when smashed they emit some kind of foul odor that attracts more of the foul beasts ... of course ... foul beasts would be attracted by foul odors ... spiders do the same thing ... go figure ... well ... to avoid that stench you are supposed to suck them up with your vacuum. Ok ... so what are you supposed to do with them after that? Leave them there to crawl back out and infest your house again??? I think not! I have resorted to flushing them all down the toilet ... but this is how our staircase has been looking lately:

Mr. Vacuum has a new permanent home! Or ... at least until the creepy crawlies migrate for the winter ... or die off (hopefully). His cord is forever plugged in ... his hose is off and extended just waiting for it's next victim (wow ... that sounded kind of dirty ... unintentional! This is a family blog) ... he's like a puma ... laying in wait until the next bug shows his ugly mug.

The next thing I read was that they aren't very good swimmers ... in fact ... they stink at it ... it is very easy to drown them ... ha ha ha (this is my evil villain laugh) ... I found my new secret weapon!!! Last night when I was watering my new plant (thank you very much father-in-law for providing me with my new Fall beauty) I decided to test this theory ... after a cup full of water against a now dirty window ... I realized that it kinda works! more come eventually ... but I think it at least lessened the load.

being filled with this hands-on knowledge, I felt prepared for anything crazy that may come ... yanno ... like dive-bombing the window ... well ... I wasn't  ... today after grocery shopping I wasn't ready for the sheer number that covered my door preventing me from getting my cold food inside .... yea ... that bad ... sooo ... I lost it ... I ran inside threw the trash bag out of its can ... filled the can with water (no ... we don't have a hose ... or anywhere to plug it in) ... and marched outside ... in my best Stallone voice I address these mongrels by saying "alright bugs ... lets do this" (you should all know that while I'm doing this I am completely oblivious to the man walking behind me to take his trash to the trash bin ... my given internal monologue for him was this: "crazy white ladies" [he was Mexican ... but that wasn't relevant to my story til now]) ... now ... what I do next may shock some people (who am I kidding ... everyone knows I am nuts ... in the best possible way of course) ... I threw the water all over my door ... hitting the overhang ... hitting the window again ... hitting the door ... soaking myself and my doorway while screaming "DIE BUGS DIE" ... yup ... did it ... this was the aftermath:

you can't really tell ... but there is water dripping from the ceiling and the top of the door frame ... the drip-age continued for a good five minutes ... that's how much water I threw (the white thing is the trash can I used)
The damage didn't quit there ... there was more inside ... just look:

The shoes I was wearing were the Toms ... you can see how wet they were to get a sense of how crazy I went with the water ... I should have taken a picture of my pants because the water went halfway up my calves

I don't know how well you can see ... but it is officially time to mop again. pluses and minuses to this endeavor (no ... I am not going to call it an irrational freakout) ... plus - i got all of my food in without one dive bomb ... it reduced the number of demon bugs there were for the rest of the night ... Minus - it drove seven inside of the house (thank goodness for the well stationed vacuum) ... it got me all wet ... it helped me to see how crazy I truly am (ok ... already knew that one ... especially with bugs ).

Will I ever do it again ? possibly ... depends on how much these suckers are annoying me. Really ... I am just ready for box elder bug season to be over.

OH! just another quick tid-bit of info I learned from the article ... they like south facing walls ... don't ask me why they are so picky ... but for those of you with south facing doors (like ours) it might be wise to find another way in and out of your house ... or else you can attack back like I do ... because really we cannot let them win ... and what kind of example for the Darwin theory would we humans be setting by letting them win?

good luck out there my friends ... it's a battlefield