Monday, December 5, 2011

Transformation, a holiday or two, and why I think it's all so great

A few weeks ago I posted about Transformation.  I debated asking some influential/important/incredible women in my life about how to go about effecting the change that is "transformation".  I thought, I pondered, I wondered, I asked myself and ultimately, although I know how important guidance is, I feel like I have - at this moment - enough information to begin.  I have been blessed and given ample instruction on starting where I am and what needs to be in place to effect true transformation, it all begins with me, and it's an inside job, holmes (an often used quote by a dear old friend from Albuquerque.  I cannot say the phrase "it's an inside job" without hearing Adan's voice, and it was always followed by "holmes")

That being said, I also know it is a process.  Deliberate, painstaking at times, tortuous in pace, but it is a process that is going to take time.  So during this time, I'll continue to be present in life as it is, celebrate life exactly as it is, in it's inherent perfect imperfection, and sneak in a "transformation" post, and a Nica post, where I can.

We celebrated the Feast of Thanksgiving in true Storch/Barnas/Houston style at Abuela's casa, bittersweet because it is probably our last holiday season at La Playa, mama is selling the condo and getting ready to begin the next phase of her life, hopefully living at Pablo Towers, and enjoying walking distance to St. Pauls, Publix, and of course, her beloved beach.  

Here we are, I'm attempting my first gluten/soy/dairy/corn/potato free pie crust and Abuela is chopping veggies, preparing our feast.  The pie crust was a relative success, I'm sure I'll get better as time passes.

Frida, Magdalena, and Augustus romping at the beach.

Flying kites with Maco aka David.

A visit from our dear friend Lien, who is one of the kindest and most generous people I know, and we give thanks for her often, probably not often enough though.

Two of the men, maxin and relaxin after the outside play with the littles.

 Thanksgiving has such profound significance for me personally, as well as for us as a family, community, nation.  Every day that I get to walk around healthy with all my working parts is a miracle. Each day that I live, breathe, think and feel is gravy, baby, icing on the cake.  16 years ago I began the journey of becoming the woman that I am still aspiring to become, and where it not for a radical 180 in my life and behaviors, I wouldn't be here today, at least, not in this incarnation.  So I personally find bliss in being thankful for this life I get to live.  And then on top of that, well, the blessings are exponential.

I know how lucky I am to be a part of a family that seeks each other out to hang out with, to be with, to celebrate with, to chat with, to bear the absurdities of life with, to have fun with, to laugh with, to grieve with.  Not that we are unique, but we are special, and we have such love for each other that our gravitational pull is irresistible and I know all families do not share in the mutual admiration society club that is our family.

I appreciate and acknowledge how blessed I am to be a part of a larger community of families - families that practice loving and respectful parenting, families that homeschool, Catholice families that do both!  Who knew?

And finally, especially after my latest sojourn to another country, I appreciate and understand the truly privileged nature of what it means to "be an American".  I can go to the store, wait, let me back up.  I can wake up in my oh-so-comfy-yummy-featherbed-topped-bed that is inside a house with four solid walls, not to mention walk the 15 steps from the side of my bed to our bathroom and use the bathroom, get dressed, walk out the front door of an awesome house that my fabulous husband bought for us to our car that is in pretty darn good shape, and then drive to the store and buy whatever food it is that I care to buy from an astonishing array of food, products, and beverages and then go home to my sweet safe secure comfy abode that shelters our family and cook what I want and then share in all that bounty with my family.  Not every family, in every part of the world gets to participate in that luxurious of a lifestyle, and I know not by a long-shot.  Yes, I know there is profound poverty in the good ol' U.S. of A., but there is also abundance, and I do not take infrastructure or inside plumbing for granted, not lately at least.

This past Sunday we began the Christmas celebrating and decorating here at Casa Naranja, with Tito Chuchi, Abuela, Tita and Frida in attendance to help put it all together.  Below is a snapshot of our day: the bowls of shells that are on the table since Nica, the Christmas flowers from Tito Chuch, the small arrangement of picked flowers from Gustie, shushi to snack on while awaiting the steaming yummy Chicken and Dumplings - gluten/dairy/soy/potato/corn free, of course - and the cranberries for stringing.

Let the decorating begin!  Saturday night, Ethan, M & A went out to find the perfect tree, and find the perfect tree they did!  It is huge and glorious, full, round, and lush.  We love it.

And the stringing of the cranberries, it must be done!  I have to say that this is one of my favorite new traditions.  We never did cranberries growing up, and once we discovered it as a family, now we do it every year, and love the process, the outcome, and the making of a tradition.

Speaking of tradition, a funny thing happened on the way to the holiday this year.  I woke up to something that has been brewing over the last few years.  I snapped to the fact that oh, wait a sec, decorating isn't at all about "me" and getting it done anymore, is it?  The children were chomping at the bit to get the big Christmas box down.  They are both old enough to have years of accumulated memories about Christmas, about different ornaments they get every year, about garlands and where they go - as in where we put them in our old house on Gable, and where we put them here in our new house, about the lights and Advent and about our book on St. Nicholas, about presents under the tree, Santa Claus and Christmas classics.  It just gets richer.  Life just keeps changing that way with the children, it just keeps getting better.  Do we have rough moments and serious challenges?  Oh heck yes we do!  Am I a totally-together-always-does-it-right parent?  Oh heck no, I have my own serious challenges!  But it is so rich, life is so dear, and we are, ultimately, blessed beyond my wildest dreams.  And as Martha would say, that's a good thing.  
xo life, we love you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Release the Hounds

Nicaragua bound, Jaya, Magdalena, Sage, Augustus, and Anna.  Five beautiful children, at the beginning of a five week journey to Nicaragua and into ourselves.  Let me explain.  My dearest darlingest friend, Kimberly Waugh - you can check her out here, and if you just want pure juice, check out her school in action here, was offered a 30 day intensive yoga teacher training gig in paradise.  Why yes, I did say paradise.  Paradise with a paradox, more on that later.   Anyhoo, she has three glorious children (los rubios), and one Sol baby, and we were talking about her childcare options and I remember commenting, something like, wow Kimberly, what a gift!  What an opportunity!  I wonder how I'll ever put something like that together for my children, you must go!  The gears turned, she crunched numbers, and offered a 30 day intensive family gig for me and my two children and It.Was.On., like donkey kong.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Post-dated post

(I found this unfinished post in my draft folder, written last February when I was trying to blog regularly again.  It stands.)

One day recently my mom stops by my house and comes in and says something along the lines of  'oh, you're all wet" and I say "I'm HOT" and my son Augustus who is five years old explains "She means sweaty hot Abuela, not sexy hot." (pronounced "saxy")

I'm sorry, what did you just say?  Seriously, what?  WTF mate.  Not so recently, one day when I was talking to my dear friend Jessica whose family is not as media-centric as ours is asked me, after I explained to her that our current favorite song was Kanye West's "Golddigger" because it has a seriously bad-to-the-bone beat and crazy good samples, asked me if I thought my at times unadulterated exposure of musical media was going to bite me in the ass.  Consider myself bitten.

In my own defense, or maybe I should say I have no defense because I don't think Augustus learned "hot" from the media, I think he got that from me.  I think my husband is hot.  Super hot.  And I like to tell him so.  And I have been known to ogle, more women than men, but that's only because I happen to think women are pretty spectacular as far as beauty goes. wonder where my son gets it.

Anyway, my point is this, I have dropped the ball by my own standards of protecting my children's innocence and exposed them to far more media/screen time than I thought I would.  Which happens to be considerably less than the average family, but I'm not ascribing to "average".  I'll take eccentric, weird, odd, different any day.


Transformation.  It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?  Transformation.  Nice to say.  Roll it around a few times...mmmm...trrrrraaaannnnsssssforrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmaaaaaaaaassshhhhhuuuuuunnnnnnnnn.
Now, if I write it beautifully, on unlined artisan rice paper, and sleep on it, the question is, will I transform?  Will - through the power of wishful thinking and osmosis - I transform?

That is a question for the ages.  And tonight, we test it.

At least I know I can transform the form of my blog, my sweet post fb neglected blog.  Ah sweet blog, let's transform juntos.*

*Juntos is Spanish for "together", a little hint at what is soon to follow.  A little bit of together, a little bit of Spanish language reinvigorated after a stay in a Spanish speaking country, and a lot 'a bit of transformation.  Ahhhh...there it is again.  Transformation.  Such a good word.

Monday, February 7, 2011

One fine day

This is what my dining room table looks like right now:
Cake from last night's belated cake celebration for my mama, a.k.a. Abuela, because as far as Augustus is concerned, a birthday is not complete without homemade cake and the appropriate number of candles, which last night meant 73.  Thank heavens we found those looooong sparkler candles that burn a really. long. time.  It takes a minute to light 73 candles!  
A gorgeous lily brought over by Amanda last Thursday for our HAP East Gardening/Seedling day that was for dissection (yes, we were going to sacrifice the lily in the name of earth science) to find the seeds inside, the stamen, the pollen and what not that we never got to because between the making of ladybug catchers and the excitement of dirt/pots/seeds/popsicle stick labels there was no time or energy left over for the sacrificial lily, so she stands tall as a gorgeous part of our table.  
A random striped sock that Augustus wants to wear but he cannot find the mate.
Uneaten cornbread that I made to go with the ribs Ethan smoked yesterday for ya know, Super Bowl Sunday, that no one ate because I was talking on the phone while making it and managed to put a TBS of baking soda in instead of a tsp.  Sigh, it was gross.  And I was so disappointed because cornbread is one of my favorite luxuries in life.
My gorgeous ceramic lion butter dish that you can't really see b/c it is to the left of the cake dish.  
Bottled bbq sauce for the ribs my man smoked. 
Empty orange bamboo bowl that formerly had chips. 
Used blue gingham cloth napkins, courtesy of my MIL, she even monogrammed them.  We love them.
Nature's Gate Colloidal pump lotion (I've heard Nature's Gate is "false" green/organic, but I still like it!)
Random piece of green felt.

That table is a snapshot of my life.  The fabulous, the delicious, the mistakes, the random, the unfinished, the celebratory, the pseudo, the pretentious (and delightfully so!), the sacred masking as the mundane, the authentic, the mess.  
Today as I meandered around on fb I ran across this this, a self-revelatory and funny post on the blog   Write With Spike that is a review of the book Poser: My Life In Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, and a bit of a scathing review at that.  Spike jumps in the fray over the real/media generated "mommy wars"; the SAHM (stay-at-home-moms for the uninitiated) and the FTWM (full time working moms).   I'm torn between my natural curiosity and rubber-necking humanity to join in and my what-people-think-of-me-is-none-of-my-business/I don't have time for this foolishness sensibilities.  But what informs most my reticence is that to me it feels all wrong, the real "war" isn't between mamas, it is within the mamas.   Isn't that what parenthood is all about?  Each decision we make is a decision to make the best choice given the information we have.  Whether it's a financial decision or a personal preference, each mama must decide what will work best for her and her family.  
I'll use my sister as an example.  She could stay home with her daughter Frida full time if she was passionately disposed to.  Her family would definitely make some different financial choices and money would be tight, but theoretically yes they could do it.  But Jeanna doesn't want to do it.  When Frida was a newborn, staying home drove Jeanna crazy (I'd say literally, she suffered from post-partum psychosis) and she couldn't wait to get out and about and then back to work.  She struggled mightily with this decision because I think she thought she should be a stay-at-home mom, especially with me - SAHM extraordinaire, constantly extolling the glory of never leaving the house and proclaiming that frumpy is the new black (a different post altogether) for a sister.  
But Jeanna - who has a MA in Psych - understood that if the mama ain't happy, ain't nooooobody happy, and did what works best for her and her family, she works.  She just so happens to work from 3pm-11pm, so she has the days with her daughter and weekends are sacrosanct family time.  For the first 10 months of Frida's life, between Jeanna and her dh Dave, Frida was always with a parent.  Then at 10 months Frida started staying with us for between 20-35 hours a week, and has been ever since.  We all benefit, as far as I can see.  Frida gets to have extended family time every week w/her cousins and auntie (me), Jeanna gets to work a challenging and fulfilling job that she happens to love, their family has the benefit of a two income household, and I make a little mad money on the side.  

I'm an AP parent, a leader of a local API group, a homeschooling mama and I have a specific philosophy that informs my parenting choices, so does that mean I condemn my sister for not being a SAHM?  Do I believe that I am making a better decision?  Oh hellllllllll no, I do not.  I couldn't do what she is doing, she couldn't do what I am doing, and be happy and joyful and grateful for what we have.  Let me say also that we are a one income family with a blue-collar bread winner, please do not assume I have the "luxury" of staying home because we make a certain amount of money, we don't ;)  We do make decisions that support our life as it is, well, uhh, most of the time we do.  Ahem.  As long as I can stay home, I will.  As long as it benefits our family, I'll do it.  Were our life circumstances to change, I would adjust accordingly, but for now, this arrangement not only fits our family, it is the life that my wildest dreams are made of and I love love love it!  

I read once that women with degrees, not just advanced degrees but even women with BA's, are doing the "feminist movement" a disservice by staying home and raising their children.  That we need to be out in the work force, promoting women's working values and rights.  I didn't sign up for that.  I signed up for the women's movement being about freedom of choice, on every level.  I also signed up for a unified women's movement, one that supports each and every woman's right to be the best mama she can be, however that looks.  I am so uninterested in the depiction of "competimom's" or the idea that mommy and me playdates are all about what brand of stroller you have, who took your baby pictures, whether or not you cloth diaper, how "crunchy" you really are, or if you are hip enough.  
Do I hang out mostly with moms who have a similar mind-set as me?  Why yes I do, thank you very much.  Do I care if you cloth diaper?  Only if you want to and I can give you some of my old Chinese pre-folds, truth be known.  Do I condemn the working mama?  Absolutely not.  Do I idealize staying at home?  Are you kidding me?  I live it, there's no idealization happening on this end, it's all stone cold reality.  Do I look longingly at Jeanna who is always so well put together, going off to her professional job?  Only because she is so well put together, I could take a page out of her book, if you know what I mean.

I know SAHMs, I know WAHMs, I know FTWMs, PTWMs; I know FTWMs who arrange their schedule so that they, with the help of their partner, homeschool their children.  I know mom's who look at me and the feeling I get is that they think I am either a saint or a simpleton, because (in their words) Oh My Goodness but I could never do that!  But really I know they just couldn't imagine doing it because it is not where their passion lies.  I must confess that I look at FTWMs and think the same thing, I could Never Do That.  I would loose my mind!  Probably not, but I would miss out on my passion, which happens to be staying home (or as Ethan says, never staying home) with my family, homeschooling, AP leading, adventuring, and creating.  As Martha would say, it's a good thing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Other half

1/2 the crew

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Celebrating Abuela

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A day at the zoo or ape heaven

We went to the zoo today with our friend and mama of twins Lisa.  It was just Magdalena, Augustus and I with Lisa and her boys in the stroller.  Usually, we're a group going, ya know, at least one other family often two or three, so today felt like a luxury.  
Magdalena and Augustus were together.  Playing.  With each other.  I know I know, there brother and sister right?  They play together all the time, right?  Well...sometimes yes but I realized we've never been to the zoo as just us.  Just the Barnas family and there was something so lovely so sweet so basic about M & A playing together.  At the zoo.  
Lisa had not yet arrived when we got there so we went on in by ourselves.  It seemed so...peaceful, so easy.  We wandered in and Magdalena led the way because since we do always go with other families, I never pay attention to where we're going and really have no idea how to get around the zoo with all it's paths and continents.  Magdalena wanted to go Straight To The Playground.  But first let's stop and take our picture in the photo booth!  (never done that before!)  Next, On to the Playground!  But let's stop and play on the apes!  Next, On to the Playground!  Oh!  There's the lion, so close, right there!  He's sooo beautiful!  OK, now, On to the Playground!  Oh wait, the elephant sculptures!  We must climb those! Mama, mama, take a picture and post it to fb and call it Magdalena and Augustus in Africa!  Done. 
Now, On To The Playground!  (ring ring)  
Now, off to meet Lisa and the boys at the entrance!
Anyhoo, it was a beautiful day.  We played, we saw a few animals, had a lovely lunch with the Jaguars, played at the playground (finally) and rode the carousel.  
It was a special day with my crew, and yes I do believe we will be doing that again one day in the near future.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tea with the Queen

Today I had tea with the Queen.  Which Queen you ask?  Oh, Queen Magdalena doncha know.

I'll start from the beginning, of the day that is.  The faucet on our kitchen sink is A.) hideous B.) backwards.  Yes, backwards.  One must push the hot/cold handles back for water.  And finally, C.) is leaking horribly and cannot be repaired, thank heavens.  So my hard working man who has worked for a month straight and this was his first weekend off picked up a job yesterday, I said to him I said, Honey, can we spend some time together as a family tomorrow?  M & A were pretty bummed when we woke up and you were gone.  They know it's Saturday and that you do not have the guard and that you were supposed to be home, so can we, hunh, can we please?  He said yes.  Then the phone rang this morning and he said, I'll just be gone a little while.  Sad faces all around.  This won't take long, how about after I get home we all go to the hardware store for a new faucet and then out to lunch?  Happy faces all around.

His job was short, our trip to Lowes was fine.  I said I'd like this, this or this.  And while he checked out the different faucets that met the mama's criteria, M & A & I wandered around the kitchen area fantasizing about our one day kitchen: our one day five burner stove, our one day dishwasher (Nora, I remember your words: It changed my quality of life), our one day two drawer oven, our one day HE front loader, our one day tile backsplash, well, you get the picture.  It was fun.  There is one thing that is a now kitchen and that is gorgeous pulls from Anthropologie and other fabulous places, not a hardware store.

I digress.  After we bought the new and quite perfect faucet and dish soap to go in the soap dispenser (YAY! no more dish soap container on my counter top!) we headed out to Mojo for b-b-q and we had a really yummy lunch.  Then home for coffee and hang out time whilst my man worked some more, but this time for free b/c of course it was here for us.  After a bit Magdalena says to me, Mama, could you please try not to be loud?  Augustus and I are going to take a nap.  Nice I think.  Naps are nice.  Then she wanted some appropriate soft music, turned on Pandora and said mama there is nothing that is the right mood.  Of course there is say I!  Let's try classical.  We try choral...too Christmasy she says.  Then I go for orchestral.  She says what's that?  I say ya know, Bach, Tchaicosky...she says Vivaldi?!  I say yes.  M and A listen to these amazing cd's that are stories of composers lives and music and they are riveting, and yes I listen to them b/c of course I have to and they are really really well done. Very entertaining and they do exactly what they are supposed to do.  Expose my children to great classical, baroque, whatever music and have them fall in love with it.  (We also have been watching the Habenera from Bizet's Carmen on youtube, that is their favorite piece right now.  It's a bit hard to explain that the gorgeous Carmen is a "bad girl", but Augustus gets it intuitively.  She's really beautiful, he says. And she's mean.  Exactly!)

Oh forgive me I digress again!  Such is my nature I do believe.  Anyhoo, so the classical music is playing and Magdalena is snuggled on the couch under a down throw, Augustus is in his room snuggled under his quilt, Ethan is in the kitchen working, I'm doing the endless laundry when Magdalena says Maaaamaaaaa...would you please make me some chai tea?  And then come and sit with me and have tea?  And I say oh Magdalena, I can't, I have so much laundry and... oh well of course I'll sit and have tea with you!  (see how I say no?  see why my laundry is never done?  I thought, as I walked into the bedroom to put down yet another load of not-folded laundry, what am I going to remember in five years?  The laundry that I did or having tea with my daughter in the dim light of her down-time nap?)

Classical music played while I danced my way into the living room with the little blue cafe table and matching chairs for Augustus and I, Magdalena would stay on the couch.  I put down a lavender tule with white stars table cloth, made a lovely pot of chai tea with warm milk and honey, and danced my way into the living room to serve.  Once there, Magdalena proclaimed her royal-ness and that she was Queen Magdalena and that I was her servant.  Fine by me I thought, pretty close to real life but I'll play along.  She spoke with a delightful British accent and when I answered her I barked out my best Cockney accent and she said no mama, you're not that kind of servant, you speak with a nice British accent.  I was knitting on my forever knitting project, having tea with Queen Magdalena and Sir Augustus, and we had a whole discussion of aristocracy, the working class, the servent class etc and accents and countries and what it means to actually say "the sun never sets on the British empire" which led to an exploration of "imperialism" to which Magdalena replied "oh you mean like the Persians!" and then went on a meandering narrative about Cleopatra, Julius Caeser, the Roman Empire and the asp that bit Cleopatra from Magdalena.

Sigh.  A perfect day.  Days like this I think, why do I ever worry about "what if"?  What if they're not learning?  What if they don't learn the right things?  What if I never really stick to a curriculum, whether it's one I bought or borrowed from the library?  What if I fail?  What if I fail them?

And then I remember that at the zoo party for Addie Magdalena was the only person in the room who knew "crepuscular", and one of the few that knew "diurnal".  And then I spend the afternoon having tea with the Queen, getting schooled on Ancient History, what Tasmanian Devils really eat, and who's who with Caeser, Cleopatra, her ten year old brother that she married, and Marc Antony and then I remember how perfect this really is, and how blessed I am to have the family I have, with the husband I have, and the children I have.

Tea with the Queen was all I could have imagined, and more.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What is it about children and kittens?

Frida came in the kitchen and stood back as Lavender wove her way between my feet, watching. I bent down to pet the kitten and Frida said, in her delightful high, light & sing-song voice - can I pet her? We sat on the kitchen floor and I said of course. She picked up Lavender with her little girl skills, and walked away in absolute bliss. She was the perfect picture of childhood wonder and innocence, white pj's sprinkled with pink & blue flowers, trimmed in pink, clutching a freaked out kitten. Does it get more perfect?

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Wow, it's been so long and fb has become such an easy way to spread the Clan Barnas propaganda that I have lost my blog groove.  Those quick and easy posts from my BB are so easy, just like on fb, that well, I guess nothing.
I digress.
Today I spent the morning with some of the most fabulous families I could hope to know.  Mamas, papas, little ones, infants, toddlers, big guys, babies in the bellies...and more love and kindness and good will that one knows what to do with!  Oh do let me gush on, please.
Seven years ago around when Magdalena was four months old I co-founded an API group with four other mamas.  (API you ask?  Check it out here.)  The group in Cruces was like a (not to be cheesy) warm green ocean of love and support for this brand-new-didn't-have-a-community-mama and I loved and still love all the families/mamas/children/midwives/doulas that I met and that sustained me in my wild and random ride of early motherhood.  

Today I was at our regular second Tuesday of the month API meeting and there it was again, that warm green ocean of love and support.  The listening, even over the din of children playing, babies cooing, Augustus demanding (noooooo!) and general parenting going on amongst 15 families with various numbers of children, 40-ish folks at least, the quality of listening is profound.  Throughout the din, the parents are heard, and heard with love and respect and offered suggestions and solutions.  Oh how I do cherish the community that is growing here, and thriving.
Like I said, do let me gush on.  This is where we grow.  This is where we thrive.  This is where we learn to surrender expectations, to open our hearts and stretch them all out of proportion to allow more love in so we can let more love out, this is where I connect my heart to my brain to my instincts to my nature and learn to filter out the noise that says our children do not deserve our respect, and in turn, that we do not deserve theirs.  This is where I see the evidence of the success of attachment style parenting.  Listen, if something I'm doing as a parent doesn't work, it's not the fault of my child, nor necessarily my fault, but if it doesn't work, I am certainly not going to do it over and over and over, let alone try to enroll other families in a failing philosophy.  The beauty of attachment parenting - besides the payoff of loving it! - is that it is effective parenting.  It works!  I respond well when I am respectfully asked to do something, not barked at.  Big fat hairy surprise, it's the same for my children.  Shocking, I know.
Oh how I could ramble and ramble and ramble on about the lovefest that is my family and my community, but if you don't know them or me, you probably won't believe me.  And if you do know them or me, then you know.
All this to say that a 2  1/2 hour meeting and lunch at Costco (so random) turned out to be one of the loveliest days around, and I'll take that anytime.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kitten perfection

Did I mention we got kittens for Christmas? Oh that's right, how could I? I haven't posted since September. Meet Lavender & Yorick, our most precious additions to the family. Augustus held Yorick in his lap and petted him the first night we had them and had such a look of awe and wonder on his face. He said, mama, he is exactly the kitten I wanted. How did you find him?

Time to liven it up again.

Yes, it has been for-cussing-ever (see Fantastic Mr.Fox) since I have posted but now, well, we're mobile. Prompted by a dear friend and devoted follower, ahem, I decided to actually get busy. Hello 2011, nice to meet you.

For Becki