Monday, November 30, 2009

The Fun Never Ends

We had a busy but fabulous Thanksgiving weekend! On Thursday, we joined the rest of America in stuffing ourselves full of wonderful food and then vegging out in front of the TV for some football. I think we were a pretty good looking bunch...

On Friday, I went temporarily insane and went shopping at 4:30 in the morning...I'm happy to report that I have regained my sanity (well, at least what little bit I had to start with).

On Saturday, middle kiddo turned 6! This was his first official picture as a 6 year old...

Yep, he's such a serious kid! We had a great little party for him and he opened his parental torture, I mean presents. Then we watched some more football. The Arkansas-LSU game has been on his birthday since he was born, so it's a tradition for us to watch that.

Yesterday, I helped the hubby catch up on his course work. Now, I'm catching up on my own school work. I've got finals coming up next week. Yay. And I have to finish my Christmas shopping. Double yay. Oh, and Christmas cards apparently don't address themselves. The fun never ends around here :)

Did ya'll have a fabulous Thanksgiving and long weekend?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hunting Season for Women

This morning, for the first time in my life, I took part in the madness known as Black Friday. My middle kiddo turns 6 tomorrow. We're getting him a Nintendo DS, which the wonderful world of Wal-Mart had on sale for $98. Also, they had digital photo frames for $29. I figured I couldn't beat a deal like that for the in-laws. I stood in line for 2 hours. I know, that's tame compared to some. And it was totally worth the smile I'm gonna see tomorrow when middle kiddo opens his birthday present. After all of this adventure this morning, I've come up with a few reasons for why people call it Black Friday...One, it's freakin' pitch black outside at 4:30 in the morning...Two, standing in line for two hours will cause one to black out. I also came up with a cardinal rule for Black Friday shopping: Leave your crabby hubby at home. (I came up with this one after standing in line next to a crabby hubby for two hours...seriously, if he called his wife to see where the "F***" she was in the store one more time, I was gonna stomp on his phone...)

Anyhoo, I successfully secured the bounty and have returned home. I don't think I'll leave again today. People are freakin' crazy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 9

Tomorrow is the big day...Thanksgiving! Is everyone ready to gorge themselves on turkey, pie and all the other fixin's? Personally, I don't like turkey, or mashed potatoes, or pretty much any other thing that normal people do...I do like rolls and pumpkin pie, so I'll stuff myself on those things...Anyhoo, on with my countdown...

I am thankful for days off. Today, the boys and I had the day off from school. We were able to spend some fun time together. We went and picked out their Christmas ornaments. Then we went to redeem their Book-It coupons at Pizza Hut. Before heading to pick up the baby from daycare, I took them to pick out their Christmas present for their baby sister. They are super excited that it's her first Christmas and picked out a super cute little stroller-along walker for her. It's pink and she can put a baby doll in it. I'm pretty sure she'll love it. All in all, we had a great day and it was all thanks to having a day off.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 8

I guess I really have been counting up to Thanksgiving rather than down. Oh well, it's the thought that counts right....anyhoo, today I am thankful for our Army life that let's us move to the places we've been. Sometimes it is frustrating to move so frequently. (Our next move is coming up in April and we'll have been here for less than 2 years...) But we've been to some awesome places and seen some awesome things...

Kolekole Pass, Hawaii

Sunset in El Paso, TX

Waterfalls in Kentucky

We've been to some fabulous places and seen some beautiful things. And it's all thanks to our Army life. It is not always perfect (or convenient) but it does provide some great benefits :)

I Want a Vacation and Other Random Thoughts

Buckle in and enjoy the random ride...

**I want a vacation! Someplace warm, with sand and sunshine, little fruity drinks that come with umbrellas...and no kids. That's right. Mommy needs a vacay.

**I have a cold. It sucks.

**I've got the rest of the week off from school. Woo-hoo!

**Normally, I avoid Black Friday shopping like the plague. However, I think that I'm gonna brave it this year in order to save $30 on my middle kiddo's birthday present.

**Did I mention that I have a cold and that it sucks? Well, I do and it does. The cold makes me spacey and the medicine makes me loopy....Loopy can be kinda fun, but spacey sucks.

**I love the show Bones. It cracks me up and it is one of the few shows that the hubby and I agree on.

**My MIL is my friend on Facebook, but has not friended any of her children...Is this odd or is it just me?

**We're staying home for the holidays. I'm excited about this because we always travel to visit family and it is always stressful.

**Here's a joke that my oldest kiddo told me this week: How do you keep a dog from barking in the back seat? Put him in the front seat, of course!

And that concludes RTT for this week :) If you need more randomness, head on over to the UnMom and check it out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Attention: Members of this Household Have a Severe Dishwashing Allergy...

I'm gonna have a sign made for my house that says this. Seriously. I believe that my sons and my husband must have a severe allergy to all things related to washing dishes. I have come to this conclusion because they all place their plates and cups precariously on the edge of the kitchen counter (kind of close to the sink) and sprint from the room. Put the dishes in the dishwasher a few feet away? Nope. Rinse the plate off so gunk doesn't dry to it? Nope. Leave it all for mom to deal with? Yep. I have decided that only a severe allergy is the only way to explain this. I love them dearly, but their dish habit is driving me bonkers. Every night I have to wade through a counter full of dishes just so I can wash the baby's bottles for the next day. I understand that an allergy is a medical condition but maybe they have a shot for it...

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 7

Onward the Thanksgiving countdown goes :)

Today, I am especially thankful for the fabulous friends that I have.

Thanks to our Army life, we have friends across the US and the world. Regardless of where they are, my friends are always there whenever I need them. We've been through think and thin, deployments, terrible twos, chaotic moves and so much more together. They randomly send me cards to brighten my day. They never fail to amuse me on Facebook. My friends keep me going during those times that I just wanna pull the shades and crawl into bed. (Ok, really they bring over the booze, get me intoxicated and then laugh at me, but whatever works, right...) I am truly blessed that I get to call the most wonderful women in the world my friends!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 5 & 6

Some days just get away from me. Yesterday was one of those, so I missed posting Day 5 of my Thanksgiving Countdown. I'm gonna combine days 5 and 6 to make up for that.

This time around, I am thankful that I don't always get things my way. Or, in other words, I am thankful for unanswered prayers. If everything always went the way I planned for it to, I would have missed out on a lot of really cool things in my life. I would have moved to Texas for college and never met my husband. I would have won the lottery a long time ago and never learned the lessons of money management and being happy with what I've got. I would have gotten my college degree four years after I got out of high school and I would never have learned to appreciate education the way I do now. There are so many times that my plans haven't gone right. And each time, something better came from it.

Two wonderful quotes come to mind when I think about this blessing...

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Gonna Be the Latest Diet Craze

When the boys were babies, the baby food companies were just starting to come out with all this stuff they've got now. I remember that the sweet potato puffs were a huge deal. Now that I have another baby, I have discovered that you can buy puffs in about a gillion flavors. Not only that, but they also have crunchies, which are very similar to the puffs but come in a shape like a cheeto and different flavors of course. When my mom visited recently, she wanted some puffs and crunchies to snack on. Honestly, I thought the woman was a bit loopy...until I tried the mild cheddar crunckies. OMG, they are like white cheddar cheetoes. Yummy! I could eat the whole container in one sitting. The best part? The whole container is only around 200 munch away! It's gonna be the next big diet craze and I'm blazing the trail...Maybe I'll get an endorsement deal, write a book, make a few TV's gonna be great! Then I'll fade into obscurity just like Susan Powter...only with better hair, of course :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 4

Thanksgiving is inching closer and, so, my countdown marches on. Now that I have gotten past the perfunctory blessings (kids, hubby, parents), I'll move on to some less obvious stuff.

Today I'm feeling pretty thankful for coffee. That's right...I believe it may be the nectar of the gods. Without coffee, this is me...Once I've gotten my coffee, I'm a happy person. Even my kids know that mommy requires coffee to function properly. As a mommy to 3, wifey to 1 (just thought I'd confirm that I'm not a polygamist...), pooper-scooper to 2 dogs and full-time student, I have about a million things going on every day. It takes a lot of caffeine to keep me going...

In the words of Lorelai Gilmore, "I'm the perfect storm of caffeine and genetics" :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 3

Day 3 of my Thanksgiving countdown....

I have been blessed with super parents. They have been married for almost 28 years, which is almost like a record these days. When I was growing up, they sometimes annoyed me. Now, I realize that they were looking out for me. Never once did my parents tell me I couldn't do something. My dad is one of the most patient people I know. My mother is one of the most intelligent people I know. I love them very much and can't believe how lucky I am to have such great parents!

My daddy and me....a few years ago...

My mommy and me, at my sister's wedding a couple years ago

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 2

Each day between now and Thanksgiving, I am going to make a post about something for which I am grateful. Yesterday, I bragged about my kiddos. My blessing today made those kiddos possible. No, not the milk man or failed birth control! It's my hubby!

He is fabulous. Not only does he protect our freedom, but he cooks dinner sometimes too!

In addition to his culinary skills, the hubby is one heck of a dad. Also, he's not too hard on the ol' eyeballs. Yep, I'm a nerd...a nerd in love...

Woo Hoo for the Randomness

**I was up until 2 am this morning working on a paper.

**This fact means that I am too exhausted to come up with some witty introduction.

**My hubby is surfing internet coupons. He might be driving me crazy.

**He's only coupon surfing because he traded his vehicle in for a truck last week and our payment went up.

**I may be too exhausted to come up with random thoughts.

**Ha ha, last night, I was proofing something for my sister. This morning we were talking about it and I told her that I had moved a word. Then I told her I couldn't remember where I moved the word to, but I was thinking that I might have put it in the witness protection program and moved it to, it was funny then...maybe you had to be there?

**The pistachio commercials crack me up.

**I think I'm gonna go take a warm bath and go to bed early.

For the lowdown on RTT and more randomness, check out The UnMom.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 1

Recently on Facebook, I've noticed a lot of my friends doing a countdown to Thanksgiving. Each day they will update their status with something for which they are personally grateful. I think is wonderful. Personally, I think we should remember to do this everyday, not just in preparation for Thanksgiving or on the actual holiday. Anyhoo, I've decided that each day between now and Thanksgiving, I'm going to make a post about something for which I am grateful. (Or, at least I'm going to try, somedays just get away from me...) So, here it goes...

I am grateful that I have the three most amazing kids in the universe.

Seriously, they are awesome! Each day, I learn something from them. Some days I learn (or re-learn) patience. Other days I learn that the best things in life are simple. Yesterday, my oldest kiddo sat down next to me while I was doing my homework and asked if I wanted a Kit-Kat bar out of his Halloween bucket. At first, I said no. Then he told me that it was his last one, and that he was going to have one and he thought it would be fun to share the last one with me. Well, after that, how could I say no?! So, we sat there and had a Kit-Kat break. It lasted less than 5 minutes, but was probably the best part of my day. My kids have huge, loving hearts and stubborn streaks that are about 5 miles wide. I love them more than anything and thank God numerous times a day for blessing my life with their presence.


Why do people complain that they have no money while talking on their brand new iPhone?

Why do people say they worry about the environment but have no qualms about driving their gas-guzzling SUVs?

Why do some parents expect my children to act perfectly while theirs are running around ripping toys from my child's hand?

Why do people complain about their weight while chowing down on a super-sized value meal?

Why is it that people complain they don't have enough time but don't miss an episode of the latest reality show?

Why is it okay for me to work hard for everything my family needs but others expect these things to be handed to them?

Why are 8 year olds running around with cell phones? And exactly where are their parents?

Why are we shocked that childhood obesity is on the rise when children are given snacks at every turn? Is a sugary pouch of junk and a box of liquid sugar really necessary after only an hour of running around?

Why do people seem to have no respect for others?

Why is the sky blue :)

Why do I care?

Well, I at least have answer to the last one...I care because I live in this world too and I'd like for it to be a nice place for everyone. As I re-read this, it seems a little less than cheerful. I really didn't mean for it to, but at least once a day one or more of these questions crosses my mind. I suppose I'll never understand a lot of things. But I do think that if we all took just an extra minute to think about it, some of these questions wouldn't even be necessary.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Everything I Need to Know About Public Speaking, I Learned From...

When I was in high school, I participated in FFA (Future Farmers of America, in case you were wondering). I first joined so that I could get out of classes sometimes and hang out with this guy I liked. I had no idea just how much I would take away from the experience. One of the sponsors talked me into being on the horse judging team. Horse judging basically consisted of judging some horses (duh!), putting them in the right order, and then giving reasons to a judge. Reasons is a short little speech thingy that you give to a judge explaining your logical reasons for placing the horses the way you did. For me, reasons was the most horrible part because I'm not a huge public speaker (even if it is just an audience of one). I always managed to get through the reasons and, even got to where I could score pretty well. Eventually, our team placed third in the national competition.

(That's me on the right)

At the time, I had no idea just how much I was really learning. This week, however, I was reminded. I had to participate in a debate during my history class. While I was sitting at the front of the room, waiting for my turn to speak, I just kept reminding myself that this silly debate was nothing compared to giving my final set of reasons at the national horse judging competition. When my turn came around, I took a deep breath and spoke my part with no problems. Frequently, I am appalled at the way people speak in front of my classes. I am just so thankful I learned how to speak in public from my time in FFA.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So Mistreated

This is my beautiful baby girl...

She is a very happy little bundle of giggles...

But don't let this fool you...sometimes she is so mistreated...

For about 1 minute everyday, her horrible mean parents put her in this jail-like thingy and this is her opinion of it...

Geez, how could we be so mean :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day

Today is a very special day. (Well, actually, every day is very special, but that's another topic...) Veteran's Day is a time to remember those who have served our country. Some have lost their lives, but all have made sacrifices of some form. This particular holiday is close to my heart because I am married to a veteran.

My hubby is a soldier. He has deployed twice and is ready to do it again if necessary. He puts his life on the line to protect our freedoms and in order to secure those same freedoms for others. In my mind, he is a hero. He would never consider himself as such; in his eyes, he is simply doing his job just like anyone else. But, how many people are actually willing to be so selfless? It takes a special person to do a soldier's job and I am very grateful to each and every person who has chosen to do it. Happy Veteran's Day to you all!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Thank goodness it's Random Tuesday Thoughts!! It means I get to be completely random, which, let's face it, takes far less brain power.

**I could totally leave for school early this morning and possibly not spend a decade looking for a parking space, but my daughter just quit crying! I didn't have to pick her up; she just started entertaining herself. This is a major dealio...

**Yes, I said dealio...

**My beautiful daughter is currently in that stage of life that requires her to cry anytime she's not being held. It is not her most attractive quality at the moment, but I love her anyways.

**The boys still have Halloween candy.

**I have to go to school tomorrow; everyone else in the house (the hubby included) is off for the day.

**Since my last post about what books I've read lately, I have blown through books 4 and 5 in the Stephanie Plum series. Today I'm starting book 6. They really are hilarious. If you like a good fluffy mystery series, these are totally for you.

**I ordered some stuff online recently. When my package arrived, one item was missing so I emailed the company. They emailed back and wanted me to call them. What was the point of emailing them if now I have to call them? I'm annoyed.

**I made pumpkin bread this weekend. I love pumpkin bread!

**I also started reading The Witches of Eastwick and still need to read Eclipse.

**Ok, I suppose I'm done for now and should head to school. But I totally reserve the right to add more randomness later today :)

Have a great one!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Love This Pic

During the summer, my boys went to visit the grandparents for a week. One day while they were there, I got this pic from my sister. It is my precious boys with my nephew. I love it! So, I thought I'd share it with you I don't have much time to type because my child is screaming because I'm not holding her...I love this stage of life....Anyhoo, back to the picture...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

YAY for Happy Hour

My weekend has been long and stressful. I won't go into all the details, mostly because I'd get all worked up and lose the point of this happy post, but my father-in-law is visiting for the weekend. Anyhoo, I have a ton of school stuff to do tonight. We went out for lunch and a stroll around the local flea market. On the way home, I decided that I'd swing through Sonic for a little pick-me-up. A cranberry limeade sounded like the perfect way to brighten up my afternoon and prepare me for the stacks of schoolwork awaiting me at home. I pop in, place my order for a lovely large cranberry limeade and the guy tells me that my total was 95 cents! Yep, that's right! It was Happy Hour!! Woo hoo!! It totally made my weekend. Hope something equally fabulous has brightened yours as well!

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Tragedy in So Many Ways

Many people have asked me if I plan to blog about the tragedy that occurred yesterday at Fort Hood. This is a logical question based on the fact that I am an Army wife and that I tend to blog about pretty much whatever crosses my mind. My initial reaction has been that I would not. I say this because I'm not sure what to write regarding this tragedy. The Army is like one giant family. I know people all over the country, and around the world, including at Fort Hood. As far as I know, no one I personally know was injured or killed in this attack (Thank God!). That is a small blessing for me. However, my Army family is hurting. I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon and evening glued to my television set. I was holding my breath, waiting to learn exactly who or what was behind the attack. While I waited, I debated with myself. I was trying to figure out which possibility was scarier: an attack from an outside entity or an attack from within? I still don't know. The thought of an attack from outside the Army family scares me because it might not be limited to one base. The thought of an attack from within is scary based on something else. How one can turn on his brothers- and sisters-in-arms, plot against them, and actually take from them their physical well-being and their lives is beyond my comprehension. If we cannot trust our own, those who we are supposed to trust with the lives of our loved ones in war zones, then who can we trust. I know I'm probably getting a little extreme here. But I also know that I cannot be the only one feeling this way. My heart is broken for those who were personally affected by this senseless tragedy. I hope that my extended Army family can recover from this swiftly.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What I've Been Reading

I've just finished up two books. They are both fabulous and very different from one another.

First up is Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig. I thought it was a breath-taking story. It was almost heartbreaking in many parts. But, honestly, what well-written drama set during the Civil War years isn't? If you've never read Gone With the Wind, there is a good chance you will be lost if you read this novel. (FYI: The novel Gone With the Wind is totally different and waaay better than the movie....and I love the movie.) The saga of Rhett and Scarlett is always captivating. This novel explores it and so much more of Rhett's life. I loved it.

Next, I read this fabulous book called Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson. It is a guide to teaching the fine art of grammar, usage and style. Obviously, not everyone is going to read a book like this for pleasure (although, I'll admit that I did, because I'm a nerd like that). Anderson makes teaching the scary subject of grammar seem fun and almost easy. I would recommend this book to anyone responsible for teaching grammar to middle and high schoolers.

I'm not sure what I'll be reading next, but I'll be sure to share. Anyone read anything good lately?

Just Don't Burn It

As promised earlier this morning, I am posting a new crock pot recipe. This one is for apricot chicken. The kiddos liked it. The hubby is a nerd who ate two sandwiches 30 minutes before dinner and wasn't hungry. So, his opinion doesn't count on this one. One word of advice before I pass this one along: The sauce will burn if you cook this too long. Trust me. I might or might not have burned the first attempt at this recipe.

Apricot Chicken

1/2 jar Apricot Preserves (it was an 11 oz jar)
1/2 bottle Russian Dressing (it was a 16 oz bottle)
1 packet onion soup mix
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into thirds or quarters depending on the size

Mix the preserves, dressing and soup mix in the crock pot. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cook on high for 3 1/2 hours or low for around 6 hours.

I served it over rice.

Coming Up...

I'm rushing out the door to school right now, but I wanted to tell you guys that I have some fabulous stuff to blog about later today.

Coming up I have
  • a new crock pot recipe
  • reviews of what I've been reading
  • and a lovely little rant about disrespectful drivers and funeral processions.
I know, you are on the edge of your seat. I almost feel bad for making you wait...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No Creative Name Today

Woo hoo! It's Tuesday! That means it's time to get random, so let's get this show on the road...

**I needed 4 things from the Commissary today. I managed to remember all 4 things. Yay!

**I was doing so well about drinking water for months after my daughter was born. Then I quit pumping for her and have slid back into my coffee/soda guzzling ways.

**I'm extremely annoyed with a certain college at the education center here on post. I need to take one course through them to transfer into my university in order to graduate. The course is a sophomore level British Literature course. Freshman Composition is a pre-req for it. I've received credit from 2 large universities for the courses because I took the CLEP exam and my current university gave me credit for the courses based on a huge writing portfolio I turned in. I've proven my writing abilities. Not to mention the fact that I'm an ENGLISH major and have taken numerous upper level courses. But, nooo, this freakin' tiny school won't accept those credits, so I can't take the course I need to. Oh, but they will award my hubby about a zillion hours of credit for "life experience".

**I may have gotten a little worked up on that last point there.

**William Blake's wife, Catherine, was illiterate.

**I actually managed to burn something in my crock pot recently. I didn't even realize it was possible. I've since corrected the problem (didn't cook the meal so long) and the recipe turned out well. I will share it soon.

**The father-in-law is coming to visit this weekend. I'm ambivilent about it.

**The flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz scare me so much that I won't even watch the movie.

**I also have a fear of peacocks.

And that's about all the random I've got in me for today. Go visit The UnMom for more fabulous randomness and enjoy your Tuesday!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Sometimes I wonder what my hubby will be like when we get old. I fear that he will be that old man who wakes at 4 am to make his coffee and get the newspaper, then eats lunch at 10 am and spends the rest of the day waiting for the mail to arrive followed by an early bird dinner at 4 pm and bedtime at 7 pm (after the nightly news and Wheel of Fortune, you know). You may wonder what leads me to this conclusion. Well, my friends, let me share a little conversation that occurs on a nightly basis (usually around 7:45 pm) in our house

The Hubby: Are you ready for bed yet?

Me: Um, are you serious?

The Hubby: Yes, it's (insert obnoxiously early hour of the evening here).

Me: Be a grown up and wait until after 9 before you ask me that again.

See?! He's totally going to be that old man! I think I can live with it as long as I don't turn into that crazy old cat lady...crazy old cat ladies tend to smell like wet cat food and I just don't think I can handle that...

I'd Like to Thank the Academy

The lovely Vicki over at Frugal Mom knows Best has seen fit to bestow not one but TWO fabulous bloggy awards on me. I'm so very excited! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm feeling a bit like Sally Field right like me, you really like me...Ok, sorry...Here are the awards...

One Lovely Blog

The rules of the "One Lovely Blog Award" are:
Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Love ya! Award

This award is bestowed on to blogs that are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose six more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

See, aren't they pretty?! So, these awards come with instructions to pass them along. I don't know that I can get up to 15, but I definitely have some lovely ladies that I'd like to recognize. I'm just going to pass them both along to the following fabulous bloggers:

  1. My favorite cousin, Ashley of Love Grows Best in Little Houses: She's just starting out, so go visit her!
  2. My lovely friend and fellow military wife over at Losing 90. I've reconnected with her recently and am oh-so-glad that I did. She's a wonderful person!
  3. The mouth-watering, oh-so-yummy Java Cupcake. Seriously, I think I gain 10 pounds every time I check it out :)
  4. 2 Toddlers and Me: She is so charming and always seems to have the greatest ideas for her little ones.
  5. My fabulous friend, April, at A Labor of Love. She is making her way through the adoption process and sharing it with us all.
  6. Jen, at Random Blitherings of a (Not So) Domestic Goddess: She never fails to crack me up, on her blog or in real life :)
I know it says 15, but I just can't pick that many. Sorry :( But again, a big THANK YOU to Vicki for these lovely awards!!