Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Rare Encounter with Nature

On Saturday, we took the kids to their 4-H shooting sports meeting at the range, and then went to check on our newly weaned calves.  That afternoon, we were driving back down our road when all of the sudden we saw a huge traffic jam in front of our house and two sheriffs directing traffic!  We could barely turn up the driveway for all of the cars parked in front of the house.  There must have been 30 people standing at the fence taking pictures.

Here's what was causing all of the ruckus in the pasture in front of our house:

As it turns out, this old bull elk was just standing in my kids' crawdad fishing hole for hours.  It was evident that he wasn't doing well because he was quite thin.  But upon closer examination, we saw this:

If you look closely, you'll see that he has an antler tine lodged into his skull next to his ear.  There's no doubt that it got shoved into his head during a fight with another bull.  The bulls are in rut this time of year, and they battle other males in order to take possession of their harem of cows. 

What I'm not sure of is whether or not this is his own antler tine. He's missing one on that side of his rack as seen below. It could have been broken off in battle and lodged into the skull by one forceful blow of the other elk, or maybe not.  It would make a great crime scene investigation mystery.

One thing's for certain, this guy was in an awful lot of pain.  He might have been battling infection, and fever because he kept laying down in the water.  It was clear that he wasn't going to make it much longer.

As some people would drive off, others would come and fill their places.  Two Game and Fish Officials were called to the scene.  Unfortunately for them, it was a no-win situation.  Normally, they would just let nature take its course, and not intervene, but the swarms of people calling for them to do something made it a public relations nightmare.

This happens from time to time in nature, but it rarely occurs in the public eye.  The Game and Fish went above and beyond in this situation, and they did a great job.  They chose to tranquilize the elk because they couldn't shoot it with the crowd of people around. Then they loaded it up in the back of their truck and removed it from public view to end its suffering.

Elk are such beautiful and majestic creatures that folks can't help but stop in their tracks when they have the opportunity to see one up close.  The solemness of the occasion just underscored the fragility of life, and the ruggedness of nature.  Even in the face of death, the bull stood dignified and quiet.

It was a day that we won't soon forget.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weaning Calves

We were up before the sun on Friday to gather and wean calves. It went pretty smooth, and we were done hauling the calves over the mountain by noon.  We've had them up in the corral all weekend with a dry Mammy Cow until they settle down. If all goes well, we'll let them out to graze today, and Mammy Cow will show them the ropes; where to get water, where to get salt, and where to bed down in bad weather.

Weaning is the loudest time of the year with a cacophony of bawling calves and mooing cows day and night. Not my favorite week.

Every morning when we go to check on the cows, they are in the same spot, just looking for their calves.  As a Mama myself, I feel a twinge of guilt, knowing how miserable they must feel with their udders all bagged up.  But those calves are nearly the height of the cows.  It was definitely time to cut off the milk supply.

Oh ya, I forgot to mention that weaning day was also my husband's birthday.  He worked from sun-up 'til choice. I told him we could just take the day off and go to the city for a shopping trip, but he'd rather pull out his toenails one by one than spend the day at the mall...that's MY perfect birthday wish, not his. We did go to his favorite restaurant to have Chile Rellenos, and made a trip to the feed store to look at a pallet of fence stays.  Does that count as shopping? ;)  

Birthdays/ weaning days = homeschool holidays. The kids were great hands to have around with the gathering and sorting. Then they spent the afternoon playing in the pasture while Dad fixed fence.

Below, my son was chewing on a piece of grass while he was waiting for Dad to come driving down to the pasture gate.  He was trying to "blend in" with his surroundings. Ha Ha!  Just moments before, we scared up two big bucks that were bedded down in the tall grass.

We met Grandma and Pop Pop for a fish fry/ prime rib birthday dinner, and then headed home in the dark.  It was a long, productive birthday...just the way my husband wanted it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mountain Men and City "Lickers"

This family has been scurrying around like little woodland creatures preparing for the long winter ahead. I stock up the pantry, and freezers, and my husband stores up hay and wood.  After church on Sunday, we went wood cutting.  We're trying to get as many loads as we can before the snow flies.  My husband is a slight firewood hoarder, and in his mind, a man can never have too much fuel for fires.

This year, he's taken his woodcutting strategy to new heights.  Literally.  Every single tree we've harvested has been standing dead.  Normally we cut dead and down wood, so this has been quite an adventure.  We all stand back as my husband cuts the base of the tree, and the kids yell, "TIMBERRRRRRR!!!" as it comes crashing down.  I should have taken pictures, but I was too busy making sure everyone was alive and out of harm's way.

The tree we cut this weekend was so tall that even after splitting and stacking it carefully, we could only fit half of it in the truck. This means we'll have to take another trip to get the other half before someone else finds what my husband has proclaimed to be "The Perfect Log".

"The Perfect Log" is one that is completely dried out, has no rot, and splits in half with one swing of the maul. It can be burned immediately, and doesn't need any drying time on the stack.  When you find a log like this, you don't want anyone else to get it.

Every person in the family is now a full-fledged member of the wood crew.  My little lumberjacks help to roll the freshly cut rounds to the truck and set them up for splitting.  After Dad comes around with the maul and makes quick work of the splitting, we stack it as high as possible in the truck.

Something about being in the woods on a crisp, autumn afternoon transforms all of my kids into mountain men.  They look for squirrel caches, talk about hunting for elk, and use sticks as weapons.  They lay down on the bare earth and watch the sun's light filter through the quaking yellow aspen leaves while they eat a quick snack and then it's back to work again.

As they methodically gather wood to bring to the truck, they talk of roasting meat on a stick, and sleeping under the stars.  Then out of nowhere, our littlest proclaims, "If a man can't poop in the woods, that means he's a real city licker!"

Everyone drops what they were doing, and production comes to a screeching halt.

My husband looks at her."A What?"

"A City licker."

"You mean a city slicker?"

"Ya, that's what I said, a city licker."

"Well, I guess you're right about that!"

After 5 minutes of belly-aching laughter, we all returned to work.

Kids have the most bizzare observations of people.  City folks and mountain folks have many differences, but evidently, in the mind of a kid, it all comes down to just one thing. If the forest is your bathroom, you can rest assured that you are a mountain man.

With the new definition of "City lickers" still fresh in our minds,  we finished loading the truck and headed back to the house, chuckling all the way.

There's never a dull moment with kids around,


Friday, October 19, 2012

Multi-Grain Bread

We have an awesome kitchen supply store in Arizona that not only sells top of the line kitchenware, but they also carry 50# bags of wheat berries, and have weekly cooking classes.  Once or twice a year, my friends and I make the long drive to stock up on all of our bread-making supplies.  

Shar's Kitchen has a tasty Multi-Grain and Seed Bread recipe that many of us enjoy baking on the mountain. It's a nice loaf to compliment a hearty meal, and makes delicious toast.  Shar's recipe makes about 5 loaves of bread, and if you don't own a Bosch mixer (I don't...yet.) , it can be a LOT of dough to handle.  I've modified the recipe a bit to make two loaves, and it works nicely in my Kitchen Aid Mixer.

First, grind up some wheat (About 3 cups ground just to be sure you have enough.) OR  just buy some whole wheat flour at the store. ;)  As you can see, my fabulous Country Living Grain Mill looks a bit like a medieval torture device since my dad motorized it, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!!! It's so much easier than hand- cranking. 

Here are the ingredients for this recipe!

Multi-Grain and Seed Bread
(As adapted from the Shar's Recipe)

3 Cups very warm water
1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
1/3 cup Canola Oil. (Coconut oil works,too.)
1/3 Cup Honey
1 1/2 Tablespoons Dough Enhancer
1 1/2 Cups White Bread Flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons of yeast
2 Cups of Fresh Ground Wheat Flour (more as needed to make dough workable)
1 Cup Spelt Flour
1 Cup Kamut Flour
1/4 Cup Nine Grain Cracked Cereal
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
2 1/2 Tablespoons Millet
2 1/2 Tablespoons Flax
2 1/2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds

Mix up all ingredients in a Kitchen-Aid Mixer with a paddle attachment on.  After mixed, change to a dough hook and knead for about 8 minutes. The dough should be coming clean from the sides of the bowl. If it's sticking to the sides, add more flour a little at a time until it comes clean. If it is too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time until it looks right. The dough will be a bit sticky, but will still come together as a dough ball.  After kneading, divide dough into two loaves and put into loaf pans sprayed with cooking spray.  Leave to rise in a warm place for 30 to 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 Minutes.

Below are my two dough balls after kneading in the Mixer.

Next, are the loaves after rising for 45 minutes covered and in a warm place.

After Baking:

Sliced and ready for lunch!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Glimpse of Fall on the Mountain

On Saturday, we met up with fabulous friends to spend the day at our local ski resort.  One weekend each year, they give free season passes to local junior skiers, and this was the big day.  We all rode the ski lift to the top of the mountain where the views were absolutely breathtaking! 

 Pictures don't do it justice, but here's a peak of fall on our mountain:

The weather was so beautiful that we all decided to get off of the lift at the top and hike all of the way back down to the bottom.

We've got a bit of snow on the north face, but it's melting quickly.

Autumn is my absolute favorite season of the year, and I'm soaking in all of its beauty for soon Old Man Winter will be upon us.

Enjoy the beauty all around you,


Monday, October 15, 2012

Ginger Cookie Heaven

Author's Note: I know that my blog is a bit  um... orange-ish today.  I was determined to sit at this computer until I could figure out how to change the html code so I could widen my blog. After I figured that out, things began to snowball out of control. Next, I decided that I needed a fall background. After I put the background on, I realized that my header no longer matched, so I had to make a new one from scratch in Photoshop. When you teach yourself these things by trial and error, it can be painfully slow. I am a bit of a simpleton when it comes to both computer code and Photoshop so it took me three hours from start to finish. And THAT, my friends, is why it's going to stay up on this blog for a little while... Orange and all.

Thank you for understanding and loving me through this "learning" phase.

On With the post!

This weekend, I made the most delicious discovery, and I want to share it with you. I've been making these BIG SOFT GINGER COOKIES for several years now. They are a seasonal favorite around this house, and  a huge hit wherever I bring them. They won't win any prizes for looks, but as soon as people try them, they beg for the recipe.

If you like gingerbread, you might LOVE these!

After dinner one night, I grabbed a few cookies for dessert and I had a delicious epiphany!  I decided to plop a little scoop of vanilla bean ice cream onto one of the cookies and turn it into a Ginger Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich.

Oh. My. Word.  


That's right. They are so good, I just made up a new word.

You should try them as soon as possible. That is, unless you are a gingerbread hater.

Here's the recipe link again:  Big Soft Ginger Cookies
 Bake them up! (But don't over-bake them. You want them to be nice and soft. Trust me on this.)

Add the magically delicious stuff. Then smoosh the whole thing together!

Perfection.  Bliss in every bite!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Friendly Reminder

Live in the moment.

This is one of the most poignant lessons I took away from my mother's sudden death a year and a half ago.  You don't know what tomorrow will bring, or next month, or next year. Only the Lord knows the number of days you have on this earth.  

I'm keenly aware of the fact that life is fragile, and I fully intend to soak it up every day that I'm here. I want to make as many wonderful memories as I can. When my girls ask me to skip through the Walmart parking lot with them,  this mama not only skips with abandon, but sings along too. Sometimes we rock out in the truck with Carly Rae Jepson's "Call Me Maybe" blaring through the speakers despite protests from my husband and interrogation as to why a 34 year old woman has that song on her iPod.  "I bought it for the girls!", I say as I bop my head back and forth and mouth the words "here's my number, so call me maybe!" with my thumb and pinky extended out like a telephone.

Wait, did I just type that on my blog? Forget you ever read that confession.

Sometimes I make pancakes covered in strawberries for my son, with whipped cream stacked so high that it teeters on the plate. We drink hot chocolate for no special occasion. I burn scented candles every day so the house smells nice for my husband when he walks in the door. Sometimes I take my horse for a ride on a Tuesday evening for no particular reason other than to breathe in the crisp autumn air.  

In the past year, we've driven more back roads, taken more spontaneous trips, and had more impromptu get- togethers than in all the years I can remember.  

 I love it.

I used to be really far-sighted, always planning for the future, always talking about the future, and saving for the future.  There is something wonderful about the possibility that the future holds, but don't grip so tightly onto tomorrow's dreams that you don't make room for today.

We've scrimped and sacrificed so we can afford to take a trip to watch the National Finals Rodeo this December. It's something we've wanted to see since college but have never gone to because we put it low on the priority list. We can't wait to take that trip! We also got our kids a horse instead of buying more cows this year.  The cows would have definitely made us more money, but a HORSE.... well, that is a memory maker!  Every kid dreams of having a horse of their own.  No kid will remember his parents having a few more cows to add to the herd, a Roth IRA, or bigger Mutual Funds, but they'll always talk about their first horse. The way it looked, the way it smelled, and how it nuzzled them for apple treats. The way it felt to be wild and free on it's back with the wind in their face.  Now THAT is living in the moment!


It's certainly good to save, and plan, and be cautious. I'm not saying to live recklessly. I'm just suggesting that we all leave a little wiggle room for fun in our lives, schedules and budgets.  Don't let those spontaneous moments pass you by. 

-Grab your spouse and twirl them around the kitchen floor every now and then.  

-Have an adventure with your kids that involves over-priced Churros and kettle corn. 

-Surprise your elderly neighbor with a batch of warm cookies for no special reason. 

-Take the long way to get where you're going. 

-Let your girls play "Beauty Salon" with your hair in the evening. 

-Help your son cook the three crawdads he just caught  in the lake even though you'll only get a teaspoon of meat out of them.

-Set that pile of paperwork aside and play ball with the kids.

- Let the dishes sit in the sink after dinner and take a long walk with your family.

Live in the moment today!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Life With Lily

Soon after I started blogging, I stumbled across a delightful blog written by a lovely, formerly Amish woman named Mary Ann Kinsinger. Since my grandparents on my mom's side of the family were raised Amish, Kinsinger's life journey was very intriguing to me. I was instantly enthralled as she wrote out her story from early childhood to the present, one blog post at a time. I found myself returning day after day to read her account of being  raised Amish, and of her courtship and marriage to her husband, LV.

Mary Ann's blog, "A Joyful Chaos" soon became one of my favorite reads. I was absolutely delighted when she announced that she was going to be teaming up with the wildly famous author, Suzanne Woods Fisher, to put all of her blog stories into book form. What a once in a lifetime opportunity! I waited patiently, along with scores of other blog followers for her first of four books to be finished.

Life with Lily (The Adventures of Lily Lapp)
Life With Lily

I was tickled to receive a complimentary copy of  Life with Lily in my mailbox a few weeks ago from none other than Mary Ann Kinsinger!  This book was recommended for children ages 8-12, but my entire family has been thoroughly enjoying it! Every evening, my husband and kids have been gathering in the living room before bedtime, and I have been reading the book aloud to them.  Many nights it has them laughing hysterically, and sometimes they are even hanging at the edge of their seats, but it always leaves them begging for more!

Life with Lily  is filled with treasured stories that are reminiscent of Mary Ann's simple upbringing.  The young Lily Lapp finds endless adventure on her family's farm, and in her one-room Amish Schoolhouse as she navigates life as an Amish girl. In my opinion, the first book is every bit as entertaining as The Little House series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

If you are looking for a wholesome and charming book filled with little life lessons and heart-warming stories, this book is a must buy!

I can't wait for the second book, A New Home for Lily, to come out!

New Home for Lily, A (The Adventures of Lily Lapp)
A New Home for Lily

(I was in no way obligated or compensated for my review of  Life With Lily. I'm just one of thousands of fans who love the book, love the authors, and I wanted to share it with you, my lovely readers.)

Have a great day!


Monday, October 8, 2012

A Stock-Up Trip

This weekend the menfolk went hunting, and the ladies went to the valley.

I can't tell you how much a little break from the house selling craziness can improve a gal's outlook. The girls and I went down to visit my dad for a few days. We shopped at all of the stores that we don't have on the mountain, and I gave my hair some much needed attention. Sometimes, all it takes is a haircut to make you feel like a new gal! I neglected my locks for way too long, and it felt so nice to take a trip to the salon this weekend.  

Afterward, we went shopping to stock up on all sorts of dry goods for the fall baking season.  In addition to buying sacks of flour and sugar, I got several weird things that I either can't find on the mountain, or things that are outrageously priced like Amaranth, Spelt Flour, Kemut Flour, Basmati Rice, flax, millet, quinoa, sesame seeds, bulk yeast, sea salt, etc. I also got a smoking deal on chicken, and apples. I've got apples coming out of my ears right now.

No shopping trip would be complete without a pit stop to Hobby Lobby. Be still my heart. I love that store. So. Very. Much. My house would look way cuter if  Hobby Lobby wasn't 3 1/2 hours away. My house would look so much cuter if ANY craft store was closer than 3 1/2  hours away. I was bombarded with the urge to buy beautiful Christmas decorations while I was there, but resisted. It took every ounce of will power that I had, but I did it. Barely.

If you have a Hobby Lobby near you, then I would urge you to never take it for granted. You are blessed. If you live within an hour of a craft store, fabric store, Costco, Chick Fila, Target, or mall then you are blessed. Except that I wouldn't trade this rural life for anything. Being far away from my favorite stores makes me appreciate them so much more. It feels like a vacation to go shopping when you only get to do it once in a blue moon.

While we girls were being pampered by my dad and eating ribs at Texas Roadhouse, the boys were cooking steaks on the campfire, sleeping on cots in the desert. They joined up with a bunch of friends and went quail hunting for a few days.  They came back with birds to eat, and tales of their adventure.   

On Sunday morning, it was nice to be back together sitting in the church pew as a family.  I made a HUGE batch of cinnamon rolls and a baked apple dish for our big Sunday school class, and my husband helped lead the worship service. We had lunch with friends, and then went to haul water to the cows. I love to spend time in the pasture with the cows in the evenings. It's such a peaceful, relaxing way to unwind from a big weekend.

Ready to conquer the week ahead,


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

An Attitude Adjustment

I woke up yesterday with a list of must-do's swirling around my sleepy head before my toes even hit the floor.  I got up in a Monday morning haze and toasted bagels for the kids before sitting down to read my Bible. Still in my P.J.'s, I yanked the dog off of my comfy rocking chair, and  attempted to avert my eyes from the tornado-like mess left behind after a weekend of fun and family visitors.

After reading the same Bible verse three times, I realized that comprehension was nearly impossible with a mountain of laundry distracting me across the room. Despite the foreboding task taunting me,  I managed to muddle through my morning quiet time and started sorting clothes into piles. Just as I sat down to teach the first of many schooling lessons to my kids, the phone rang.

It was the dreaded Realtor.

He wanted to show my house in two hours.  Thankfully he couldn't see the expression on my face through the phone. As I surveyed the disaster around me, I just laughed and said I'd have it ready to show.

 I laughed because I was still in my pajamas.
 I laughed because I had no less than 9 piles of laundry sorted on the floor in front of me.
 I laughed because God has a very funny sense of humor sometimes.
 I laughed because if I didn't laugh, I'd have started to cry at that very moment.

As soon as I hung up the phone, I lit all engines and throttled to turbo-speed. I have never scrubbed toilets, made beds, and mopped floors that fast in my life! I had to do some creative thinking that involved putting dirty, sorted laundry back into hampers, and shoving three loads of clean but not folded laundry back into the dryer for a later time.  I threw on some jeans and put my hair in a ponytail.  Just as I was putting the vacuum away, a car pulled into my driveway... a full 30 minutes early.  The kids scrambled to put their homeschooling books away, and I shuffled them into the truck as the realtor apologized for being so early.

We drove off in a rush and proceeded to find a spot to pull over and wait until the showing was over.  As I sat there with kids whining in the backseat, I felt my ears get hot.  My irritation level was rising with every moment that passed. Thirty five minutes later, I drove home with a brewing case of grouchiness.

I got the children back on track with their schooling, I re-booted my laundry, and sat down to write a blog during our lunch break.  No sooner did I start clicking the computer keys then the phone rang.  My stomach dropped. It was the Realtor. Again.

Another agent wanted to show the house at three o'clock.

The air hissed out of my lungs.

I tried to hide my disappointment and told him that we would keep it clean and be out of the house at three. I knew that I should have a positive attitude, but keeping an immaculate house twenty four hours a day, and being ready to leave at a moment's notice is mentally draining... especially when you homeschool three kids. Thirty eight showings in just four months is enough to make a grown woman cry. Yes, 38.  Four years after we moved here, someone bought the piece of land next to ours, built a GIGANTIC two story house on it overlooking our backyard, and it completely blocked our view of the lake. Now that we are trying to sell it, every. single. person. loves our house but hates the "huge two-story" blocking the views. It's tragic, really.

As I left the house for the second time that day, I mulled over all of the things on my list that didn't get done. I  stewed and brewed about all of the circumstances that were completely out of my control. I contemplated all of the things that weren't going my way. I had so many pent up emotions that I just wanted to go to the nearest canyon and holler until I lost my voice. I wanted to sprint until I fell over in exhaustion. I wanted to cry but I couldn't.

Instead, I clung to one last glimmer of hope.  Every October 1st, I go to Dairy Queen and eat a beloved Pumpkin Pie Blizzard on the first day that they're offered.  It's a tradition that I look forward to all year.  That night, my family loaded up in the truck and made the twenty minute drive down to the Dairy Queen. I pulled up to find out that Dairy Queen was closed for re-modeling.

 I just started cracking up! It was a perfectly crummy way to end a crummy day.  I laughed nearly all the way back home, and decided that I should just throw the covers over my head, and wait for a do-over the next morning because my attitude was less than joyful, less than thankful, and less than honoring to God. Yes, I'm ashamed to say that even mothers have tantrums every now and then.

Today was a new day. I woke up with a fresh outlook on the world, and a thankful heart. I repented of my previous attitude problem, and was careful to count my blessings at every turn. Things weren't perfect, but I didn't let circumstances dictate my level of joy.  Instead, I did my best to release my burdens to the Lord, and not worry about them. Our family went for a nice long walk around the lake this evening to get some fresh, fall air. Then we went to visit an elderly neighbor and bring her some fall decorations to cheer her up.  It was a much better day!

It's amazing what a little attitude adjustment will do for the soul...

God's still working on me,


Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall Festivus...For the Rest of Us

(How many times can I say some variation of the word "festive" in one post? Stick around and you'll find out!)

This weekend we celebrated our town's annual Fall Festival. My dad, and my brother and his family came up to enjoy the festivities with us.  We call it "Fall Festivus....for the rest-of-us". ( Name that show!)

My dad is not a real festival goer, if you know what I mean, so it meant a lot to me that he "festivized" with us without too many complaints.

One of the most well attended parts of the weekend is the annual classic car show that comes to the mountain. To kick off the festivities, all of the old, beautiful cars meet up in the neighboring town on Friday evening and cavalcade up the mountain in one giant procession on their way to the car show destination.  People line up along the whole route to see the cars in action, and the passengers throw candy out the window at 45 miles per hour to the kids. It's slightly risky, but the kids walked away with an entire grocery bag full of candy.

On Saturday, we spent a few hours looking at the hundreds of cars parked at the show. There are some gorgeous old relics out there! The car show is so popular, that the crowds are HUGE. You have to park really far away and walk to get there. That is, unless you hitch a ride on Daddy's shoulders.

Another highlight is the annual Fall Festival Parade on Saturday morning. If you've never been to a small town parade, then you should know a few things. Anything loud, sparkly, blinking, or old will be entered in the parade. You will know at least half of the people on the floats, and all of the local politicians will be out in full force cleaning up poop from the horse entries.

Here are the only float pictures I got because I bring giant cameras to parades and leave them hanging on my chair for 90% of the time. I'm cool like that.

This dog was "festivizing" with his owner.

Below are the candy beggars in action.

This is my sweet, precious niece with her pinch-able cheeks.  She looks IDENTICAL to her daddy at that age.

 I'm telling ya.... spittin' image! You just have to trust me on this one.

My kids had fun pushing her stroller around the craft show, car show, and parade. I'm pretty sure that she slept through most of the festivities.  But she did wake up long enough to go pet Jake at the end of the long day.

Fall Festivus will really take it out of you! We were all tired, sunburned, and full of Kettle Corn by the end of the day.  We came, we conquered, we fesitvized.

And now I shall do post-Festivus cleaning of my house.

Happy Monday!