Monday, December 31, 2007

...and a New Year begins.

I've always had mixed feelings about New Years. As for New Year's Eve, I'd rather be sleeping when the ball drops and I think that has to do with the beginning of 1987 when as a naive 12 year old, I heard that Nostradamus predicted the world's end for that year; I was terrified to no end. I always get kinda "weirded out" about this time of year since then. Yet, the New Year for me is like getting a new notebook...the possibilities are endless on what you can fill it up with. As time goes by, I try hard to change my negative attitude toward the holidays; my old life is past me, and I treasure my new life with my wonderful husband and my little man-child. But for tonight, you can bet that I'll NOT be awake at midnight!

I am the type of person that always has to have something to look forward to, and I must always be prepared for what may happen. Right now, I'm busy with making sure that Sarah will have what she needs to begin her new life. I ordered her car seat/stroller system this morning and I will soon wash and put away her wardrobe, since now it's safe to say she's still a girl. Sarah got lots of presents for Christmas, so that helps me a lot with the whole what-does-she-need (or what do I want) what-is-left-to-buy thing. I'm also packing hospital/babysitter bags for myself, Phillip and Gabe in case we're caught off guard when she finally does decide to make her appearance. If any of you have any suggestions so I don't forget to pack anything, please send them my way. (I realize that I may be preparing a bit too soon, but Gabe made an early arrival...Sarah may do the same.)

This year will bring plenty of new changes for us, and I have some plans for the year as well. Here's a list:
  • Sarah is due to arrive soon. (+)
  • This is NOT a resolution, because we all know how those go, but I do plan on dropping some much un-wanted pounds (+).
  • Gabe will play soccer in the spring. (+)
  • Phillip will be deployed again during the summer. (-)
  • At least a couple of my/our really close friends will be moving away, or going with Phillip on that deployment. (-)
  • To help ease the "blow" of the above mentioned deployment, I plan to take the kids to Louisiana for at least a month during the summer to spend time with family and explore the area (Gabe LOVES exploring...we looked forward to each weekend excursion while Dad was away the first time) and end that trip with the traditional end-of-summer Gulf Shores trip with Phil's parents. (+)
  • We might get to find out towards the end of 2008 if we stay here or move to another post when he comes home. I LOVE Texas, but I'm ready to explore a new area. (+)
  • I can also get to work on planning our next family vacation, which is more of an after-deployment celebration. I'm pretty sure it will be Disney again, which is OK by me! (+)
  • I don't plan to return to work until after Phillip comes home, so travel back home to see family will be much easier for me...though it's always nice to be re-assured that the road goes both ways!
I'm sure as time goes on, I will be able to add to this list. I admit that I am scared, but excited at the same time, of what the year will bring and how I will handle it. But as before, with God's help, and the fortune of having good friends and family...we will be just fine!

Happy New Year, Ya'll!

The holidays are over...

Since my doctor advised me not to travel back to Louisiana for Christmas, Phillip's family came to us. Angie (Phil's sister) and her family arrived on Thursday night, and the rest of the Lopez's got here some time on Friday afternoon.
Here I am, with my 32-week belly and pregnancy spot on my left cheek, presenting Angie and Phillip's mom with a special gift that I made for all the mom's of the family. Judging from their reactions, I think it went over well. My Mom and Step-mom will get theirs later on this week, so I can't spoil the surprise for them, but I think they'll enjoy their gifts too (at lease, I hope so!).
As you can see, there were lots of presents. Our living room was a total disaster area, but I didn't mind a was nice to see everyone enjoying the moment.

On Saturday, while the women went to check out the sales at Hobby Lobby, the men and our niece, Elise, went to see where Phillip works. From left to right are: Phillip, Manuel (Phil's Dad), Greg (Phil's brother), nephews Brigg and Adrian, Elise, and then Gabe.

After a nice breakfast at the Historic Stagecoach Inn in nearby Salado on Sunday morning, everyone headed back home. We were sad to them all leave, because we had such a nice weekend (spending time together, eating some really good food). Gabe was especially sad, since he loves to be around family, but we reminded him that very soon when Sarah is born, we'll have visitors again.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How was your Christmas?

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. We did. We spent the morning, opening and playing with our presents, and then we packed up our car and headed out to Rob and Margaret's house for a late lunch/early dinner with them and some other friends (Chris and Christie). We had a really nice time, as it's always nice to be in their company. Right now, the "boys" are playing with the new Wii while I catch up on the computer...

Word must've gotten up to the North Pole that we have a very special stuffed tiger living among us. When we woke up yesterday morning, we were surprised to find a box of candy under the tree for Sassy. The note reads: "From one special animal to another...For: Sassy From: Rudolph. PS. Share with Gabe."

Do you guys know what it's like to have a tiger running around this house with a "sugar high"? Thanks a lot, Rudolph!!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to All!

I've mentioned before that my huge collection of Christmas decorations would be complete when I finally get a replica of the lamp from "A Christmas Story". On Saturday evening, we met our friends Craig and Mary at their house and Mary, with a sly look on her face, presented a big box to me. Lo and behold, my much coveted lamp was inside of it! That Mary sure knows how to bring a smile to this girl's face. Thanks again, Mary.

On another note: Craig got to witness what happens when a VERY hungry pregnant woman gets impatient with a waitress that we've seen maybe twice over the course of 25 minutes. When Phillip inquired about my Gyoza appetizer (we were at Nami, our favorite Japanese restaurant) and the waitress looked at him like she had no idea what he was talking about, I snapped and told her in a not so quiet way that I was 8 months pregnant and STARVING! The look of shock and amusement on Craig's face was priceless, as I am normally a "sweet" and polite person.

So, to make amends for my bad behavior, and because this holiday season is supposed to be one of good cheer, I will say that I have not been myself lately; please forgive me if I've been a little grouchy (you can't really tell in my posts, but if you're in my immediate vicinity, you might detect some negative energy) or if I've been on the anti-social side. This pregnancy is wearing me down....

I am ending this post with a most sincere wish that everyone, near and far, has a Merry Christmas. I hope that this New Year brings you positive new changes, and that you continue to walk the path of safety, happiness and health.

May God Bless You All!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Here she is...

Introducing Sarah Evangeline. She's 31 weeks old today. We're biased of course, but we think she's a little beauty. The "thing" partially covering the right side of her face is the placenta and the shadow on top of her head does not mean she has lots of hair, it is actually a shadow. We checked for hair and it looks like she'll be a bald baby, just like her brother was!

I did not realize that my belly was so big; friends say that I've "popped out" recently. The lady who did the ultrasound for us was super nice and very knowledgeable. She explained lots of different things to us. In the above pic, I am watching the whole session on a huge projector screen.

I just love Gabe's reaction. He could actually pick things out on the old-fashioned 2-D images and his face was priceless when we got to the 4-D images.

The very excited, and nurturing, big brother helped me get positioned more on my side while Daddy took pictures. Both Phillip and Gabe had to help me roll over at times to get better viewing angles, since it's kinda hard to move these days. It seems that Sarah is running out of room (her nose is smashed up against the walls of the womb) to grow and I had to get in awkward positions so that there was enough "pocket" to get the proper images. Oh yeah, and in one particular image, Phillip asked if he was seeing her leg and come to find out it's a very chunky little arm. She might be a little butterball!

What a Christmas gift for our little family. Go to the left side of this page and click on photo collection and then Sarah to see the rest of the images taken yesterday (there are about 26 of them). Enjoy and have a great weekend!

PS. Image #10 in the photo collection is her chunky arm and image #19 is proof that she is a girl. For those of you who are not familiar with Shutterfly, you can double-click on the first image in the album to get the option to see a slideshow. Again, enjoy!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I love Welcome Home celebrations. As you walk up to the crowd of people waiting, you can feel the anticipation and excitement. Music is blaring as you wait for the announcement that the soldiers have left the airport, and you know that in a few minutes, you will finally see your loved one in the flesh. You get butterflies in your stomach. You hope that you look beautiful to him (though you know you will) and you don't care that he may stink after days of traveling. You try not to cry, though you really want to because the deployment is finally over. Everything that you had to do to keep things from falling apart for the past year, every decision that you've had to make alone, all the times that you got so frustrated over simple everyday life, simply just melts away....because the other half of you is about to get off of that bus. No more worrying, no more loneliness. You feel an overwhelming sense of pride, in yourself for being such a big girl, but most importantly for him. You finally get that much needed hug and life once again goes back to normal.

That's exactly how I felt a little over a year ago, when Phillip came home from Iraq (and to see that look of relief on our son's face was absolutely the best moment of it all). I think it's safe to say that Mary felt pretty much the same way yesterday.

I even started to cry, because it's such an emotional and deeply personal event.  Out of respect for the happy couple, I won't post other pics that were taken. I'll just say that indeed, it was a wonderful day. A husband (and a good friend) came home and I'm glad that we were able to be there for it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I survived.

Lately, I've been blogging about Adasia, Gabe's friend. Well, she and her mom just came over to exchange gifts and say good-bye. I've been dreading it all day, because I figured that someone would start crying. I'm happy to announce that things went well; I think it's because the gifts were a distraction. We promised to keep in touch and tonight, while we're all sleeping, they will make the long drive to the east coast. I'm pretty sure that it will hit Gabe tomorrow, or soon thereafter, that his best playmate/classmate is gone.

On a much brighter note, tomorrow we will attend the Welcome Home ceremony for our friend Craig. Mary and Craig have been our friends since we were stationed at Campbell; they're both from South Louisiana, and they are so much like us. We're so happy that he is coming and sound. It's gonna be a good day.

It's weird how we adapt to military life. Saying hello, saying good-bye. Not knowing what life will bring in the next year or can kinda get to you at times. But hey, what do you do? You keep on truckin'. After all, it's a good life and no matter what, there's always something to look forward to.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I'm having a major moment here...

Okay, I changed the yellow (see post below). Now what I need is a snazzy little title picture like Beth and Tracy have.

Any volunteers on making one for me? ha ha ha snort

Pardon the Construction

I am having a major prego moment and can't decide what colors I want to do my page in. I thought that black was just getting kinda dark, but you know what? I might go back to it, because I'm thinking that this yellow is kinda weird.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Quick Update

I realize that I tend to ramble on in my posts. What can I say other than I have lots to say? Not today though.

I'm happy to announce that with Gabe's new medication, he no longer "whistles" in his sleep. He no longer sleeps all over the bed either, but actually stays on his pillow like a good boy should. I think he's a lot more rested these days. We're still waiting on the allergist's office to call us with the okay to go in for the shots; the serum mixed and ready, it is not.

As for me, with the new meds that I've been taking, I've slept like a baby for the past two nights! No more wandering the land like a zombie. I think I may be getting my "glow" back! Whooooo hooooooooooo!

And now, I'm off to take a nap! Have a great weekend ya'll.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I want my body back...

Right now, I'm at 29 weeks (7.5 months). People ask me how this pregnancy is different from Gabe's. Well....I'll tell ya.

The above picture was taken this past Saturday; and I just LOVE how I'm looking all matronly, but I guess it could be worse. I'm short, so the prospect of me being one of those long-legged, sleek, not-so-swollen pregnant ladies is out of the window. ( I'm really not liking my haircut these days, but that's a whole 'nother story)

With my first pregnancy, I was stuck in Lower Alabama and missing the dickens out of my husband, because he was away for most of the nine months. I was very fortunate not to have morning sickness and everything went so smoothly until the last two months. Then, I swelled up like a puffer fish! As Gabe got bigger and bigger, he started pressing on my Vena Cava and the fluid in my body was having trouble finding it's way out. It probably didn't help that I was insatiably hungry and would wake up in the night to eat a peanut butter sandwich either. My Ob/Gyn was watching me for toxemia, and was about to put me on bed rest when at 37 weeks to the day, I waddled into his office and threatened someone's life (it could have been anyone at that point) if I didn't give birth in the next week. He heard me loud and clear and a little over 14 hours later, Gabe came sliding out like butter! Let's just hope that anything like this doesn't happen this time (I'm talking about the swelling part).

For this pregnancy, things are different. I wouldn't say it's a whole lot different, but it's just....different. With Sarah, I had nausea and even got sick a couple of times. With both pregnancies, I've been exhausted. I'm definitely more active with this pregnancy, and I'm a lot happier and not so lonely this time. I've been so sick with allergies, name it. I don't sleep well at night, so I try to nap while Gabe is in school. I also crave ice cold water and fruit, but my appetite is no where near what it was with Gabe, so I eat much less. As for the baby, I feel her a lot more. I think she's more active than Gabe was.

I went to see my Ob/Gyn today and he could see (and hear) that I'm having trouble breathing. I love his personality. I used to work with him so I know he's a great doctor; I totally trust him. Anyway, he prescribed some strong antibiotics because he doesn't want what might be in my system to get worse, and he gave me an inhaler for the difficulty breathing. He also told me to slack off on the Allegra D that I've been taking. Sarah has also made her way to the "head down" position and I only gained four pounds since my last visit (which was about 5 weeks ago).

So, we have about 2 months to go, and besides the sickness lately, I'm pleased with how things have been going. Next week, we have a 4-D ultrasound scheduled and I can't wait!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Too cute!

I had to post this picture (taken last Friday afternoon). Gabe's friend, Adasia, lives in our neighborhood and so it's really easy to just get her off of the bus along with Gabe and bring her home for a play date. They play so well together. Here they are, in their imaginary boat watching a movie....and there they stayed for at least a half an hour, resting after a looooong day at school.

School Performance....fa la la la la, la la la la

Gabe had a Christmas Carol performance last Wednesday in the school cafeteria. I admit, I got kinda teary eyed; there's something about watching children sing that just gets me all emotional (that, combined with pregnancy and allergies...I'm can be a total wreck at times!). The last pic is of Gabe and his one of his best friends, Adasia. She's the one that, as I mentioned in an earlier post, will be moving away soon. Oh, I dread it....

Friday, December 7, 2007

Enough is Enough

I don't know if you guys can see the picture above. I took it yesterday with my cell phone, so it's not the best quality. If you look closely, at the lower left of Gabe's back is a big red spot that told us that we could proceed with rest of the 4 rows of numbers (I believe it's 67, total) which represent the allergy skin test that was done on him.

Gabe has had allergies since he's at least a year and a half to two years old. Ever since we lived at Fort Campbell, and maybe even while we were at Fort Rucker, he's had to take an antihistamine EVERY NIGHT. If a dose or two has been missed, he will get sick. Lately, it seems that he's developed a resistance to his meds, and we're constantly giving him nasal decongestants, steam showers etc. to un-clog him. He whistles when he breathes and we've finally had enough! I really don't think he's ever known what it's like to breathe normally. About a month ago, I went to his primary care physician requesting a referral to see an allergist. Though I hate the thought of having to take him in for allergy shots, I cannot just sit there and not deal with the problem either.

So, I made an appointment with a local allergist. They mailed tons of paperwork for me to have filled out and ready for them, and included were the instructions to stop his meds at least 3 days before we do the skin test. Easier said than done. On Wednesday night, I put him to bed and about 15 minutes later, I heard this awful noise coming from his room. I went in to check on him and his whole body was trembling as he struggled to breathe through his nose. I broke down and gave him his medicine, which I knew would most probably mess up the results of the test but....what is a mother to do? I called yesterday morning to tell the nurses at the docs office what I had done, and they told me to bring him in anyway. They told me that I had done the right thing, and that they could do a control test to see if he had enough antihistamine in his body to mess up the skin test. Thankfully, we were able to carry on.

The skin test itself was not easy on Gabe; he tried so hard to be brave, but after the first row of skin scratches, he decided he'd had enough. I ended up having to hold him down for the rest. As we waited about 15 minutes for the results, he went into my purse to get a pen so that he could write something on the disposable tissue sheet on the bed. He asked me to help him write, "This hurts." on the tissue and my heart broke...again.

By the time we'd left the office yesterday, we'd found out that he is allergic to Pine and Mexican Tea Weed specifically. Though he is only allergic to these two things, the doctor does feel that the shots would be a benefit to him, so he will soon have to go in twice a week for at least the first 32 shots, then once every two weeks until I'm not sure when. He will also have to take Zantac at night to help with reflux that goes along with his sinus drainage and Nasonex spray to help clear his nasal passages. Hopefully, he will start to feel better soon.

I realize that we are very fortunate to have allergies as our only health problem. We have friends who have bigger issues to deal with, and they are always in our prayers.

On another note, Gabe really liked the doctor because Dr. X is a train lover (so they had lots to talk about) and had a track that runs along the ceiling of his office. I too, got some information from the doctor about some of my own issues. Time will tell...I have to get done with this pregnancy before I can proceed with anything on my end. And lately, I've been so sick. Stay tuned, I might rant about that soon in another post.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

More Evidence

I plan on one day publishing this here web page to keep as a family journal, so I scanned this picture for that reason and to keep on my hard drive (just in case it gets lost or something)...I'll put it in Sarah's keepsake box or better yet, I'll start a box of "See, You really do love each other" momentos for when times get rough between brother and sister.

I found it in Gabe's book sack a few days ago and I assumed that his best friend, Adasia, made it for him. "No, Mom. I made it for Sarah." he said.

He talks about it often....he can't wait to meet his little sister. And I'm pretty sure he'll make a great big brother. For now, he's excited, but he really doesn't know how life is about to change for us. I just hope that adjusting to life with her won't be too hard on him.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I hope you had a good weekend...

We had a pretty laid back kind of weekend over here.

Phillip had the day off on Friday, and so he and I took the opportunity to do ALL of our Christmas shopping from start to finish while Gabe was in school. With proper planning, we had all of it done in two hours! We even had time to hit up a store we hadn't tried yet for a Wii, and totally lucked out; someone had been in the store just 15 minutes earlier to sell his (he needed the money) and we were able to snag it up before anyone else did. Phillip was giddy all day, because he's been looking for over a month....NO ONE in the area keeps them in stock for more than a couple of hours and he really wanted one for Christmas. We also had time to see Beowulf, the movie, before picking Gabe up from the bus stop.

We were supposed to go to Salado, TX this weekend to get our Christmas tree, but it rained all day on Saturday. The weather was so nasty out here that it was a perfect day for another movie. We went on to the nearby town of Copperas Cove to see Enchanted at the Cove Theater. I think everyone enjoyed the movie; Gabe thought it was a little "girly", but he still had fun. We like going to Cove Theater. As soon as you find your seats, a staff member (dressed in some sort of silly costume) takes your snack order; a short skit is performed before the movie begins and then...Showtime! After bringing Gabe to get a much needed haircut, we went home and lounged around for the rest of the day.

Phillip caught the allergies/cold/lung funk that I had during Thanksgiving and all last week, and so yesterday after church, Gabe and I watched Man vs. Wild on the Discovery Channel, played with play-doh and then hopped onto the computer to play some of our favorite games while Phillip took a nap. I really like playing these games with him, because it gives me a chance to see what he's been learning in school; I can also teach him a few things myself and we are both spending quality time together. (some of these sites are not really meant for teaching and learning, but they're still fun!)

Here are our favorite sites:
1. Noggin
2. Cartoon Network
3. Hasbro
4. Hotwheels
5. Kindersite (my absolute favorite)

We finished off our weekend by going on over to a friend's house (Beth and Abe) to celebrate another friend's birthday (Randy). Luckily, Beth let Phillip stay inside the house with all the other healthy people....

Oh, and if you want the recipe for some killer cupcakes, go to Beth's name on the right side of this page and go to her link for "Best cupcakes ever". They really are the best cupcakes ever!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Talk about Good!

The title above is something that you'll hear often in South Louisiana. Being Cajun, our life revolves around food (as if you couldn't tell by looking at us!). The photos are of my favorite salad in the world, and of my favorite pizza in the world (Pizza Village's Landry Special). Sometimes, I find myself dreaming of and wanting to drive home for those two things especially. I regret not taking more pictures on this trip, but you break out a camera in the middle of a restaurant to take pictures of the food on your table and you get strange looks.
Every time we go home, we have a small list of places we want to visit...for the food. Home cooking from our parent's houses is definitely a treat and I'll get to that in a second.
But first, I'll describe to you my favorite dishes from our some of our favorite eating establishments. Last Wednesday, we took our new car over to get it's first time service and it provided the perfect opportunity to hit up Pizza Village for lunch. I crave their salads especially for the home made house dressing on top. The Landry Special pizza is topped with hamburger, shrimp, green olives and I'm not sure what else, but by a few hours after eating it, and the salad, the sodium levels in your body go off of the charts and you find yourself dying of thirst. But about good!
On Friday, while Phillip, his dad and his brother played golf, Gabe and I met my brother, James, for lunch at another one of my old favorites. Damascas on Arnould Boulevard did not disappointment me; it's still the best Greek/Lebanese food I've ever had. I think James was impressed (it was his first time) and Gabe, excited after receiving a brand new watch from "Uncle Bubba", was also happy with my choice of restaurant. After filling up on humous, beef and chicken shawerma with yogurt & cucumber sauce etc., we headed out to the downtown area to explore Lafayette's Children's Museum and the Natural History Museum and Planetarium. Some of the locals might have a better idea of Greek food, but to me, you just can't beat Damascus.
On Saturday, Phillip was REALLY craving a shrimp po-boy (kinda like a hoagie for you non-cajuns). After spending the day with Mom and James, we met Dad and my step-mom Elaine at their house, and drove on to yet another favorite...Old Tyme Grocery near UL Lafayette's campus. We picked the best time to go, a cold and rainy Saturday night; you try to go any other time and you usually have to try to find decent parking (since it's near UL) and the place can be crowded. I ate the "killer" meatball po-boy that I always get...I had to take a dose of Zantac, but I survived.
On Sunday, just after church and before we left the area, we made our last restaurant stop at Prejeans. Phillip tended bar there when we were first married and I got hooked on their crawfish enchiladas. And I don't even like crawfish! I must always have a salad there also, because I love their house dressing. The menu has a great variety for any taste, and there is usually a cajun band playing LOUDLY in the background. We always suggest Prejean's to people who ask us where they should go while visiting the area. There, you get the ultimate cajun experience.
All around, it was a good trip, especially along the lines of food. Visiting our favorite places is always a treat when we go back home. Hopefully, when we go back home for Sarah's baptism, we will have more time to do lots of other things that we didn't have time for this time around. We planned to, but didn't quite make it on over to New Orleans for a brief visit; the last time I was there was about two weeks before Katrina and it's been a lot longer for Phillip. There's a small list of places in N.O. that we love to go to for the food, Central Grocery (for their muffalettas) is a must before we leave that area.
Before I close, I must mention the DELICIOUS home cooking that we also like to go home for. No restaurant can compare to the Thanksgiving feast (fried turkey, dressings, casseroles) that we had at Aunt Teeney's house, the fall-off-of-your fork brisket that we had at mom's house, Zella's smothered chicken and biscuits....we did not go hungry! (On our next trip, maybe we can get Elaine to smother some of her famous stuffed pork chops and I can get Mom to make a Chicken Fricasse')
During this past week, I've pretty much summed up our trip for you. We didn't stress ourselves out trying to be in too many places at once. We took it easy. We celebrated Thanksgiving with family, had a birthday party for a much loved stuffed tiger, ate good food and got the chance to just relax and be "home" for a few days.
And that you've endured this loooong post on food, have I given you any ideas on dinner tonight?


Today, I'm going to write about what happens when you leave home to live life and you go back to discover that life went on without you.

Lafayette, Louisiana has always been constantly growing. Everywhere something new pops up. But when Phillip and I left in September of 2001, we were anxious to see what else was out there; life in Lafayette seemed like a dead-end street to us. It's not because there was not plenty to do there along the lines of entertainment etc.; it just seemed to me that there just wasn't much opportunity for this young, freshly married couple to "make it". I don't mean to offend anyone. This is just my opinion. Life was hard, and we struggled financially. We needed the chance to get ourselves established, and the military was our best option for helping Phillip live his dream. We said goodbye to family and friends during the week of Sept. 11, 2001. We also found out that "we" were pregnant with our first child on the Friday before that. We left Louisiana with lots of anticipation, yet lots of hope in our hearts. Life was about to CHANGE for everyone.

We've gone home to visit many times in the past, but last week was a real eye opener for me. Everywhere, change. Lafayette has expanded quite a bit and everywhere you see new developments. I mean, everywhere! When we left, River Ranch (a community within a community) right across the river from our old house, was just getting started. Today, it is such a busy and almost crowded place to shop, eat, name it. I took Gabe for a ride through River Ranch while we were there so that we could walk through the unique shops, get a cup of coffee at CC's Coffee House and just take it all in. Traffic in Lafayette has increased considerably. I found myself almost afraid to drive around for fear of 1. getting into an accident, because now I'm an "out of towner" and 2. because I had to remind myself what streets bring me where. And everywhere I went, I saw familiar faces, but most, I couldn't put a name to. I saw families at church that when we left, had young children who are now teenagers. Scary! I saw the familiar face of one of my old doctors, and it took me all of church hour to remember who he was! (Phillip was dumbfounded on how I could confuse a priest with a Gyenocologist) When we left, Jefferson Street was just the old main street in downtown, it is the place to see and be seen (from what I hear). And everywhere, new restaurants. I took in a breath of relief to see that some of my old favorite places where still there.

My original hometown is a little place about twenty minutes north of Lafayette. Sunset, LA was definitely the place that everyone knew you, your business and your next of kin. Even little ole' Sunset had lots of changes to it. It was depressing to see how some places where "run down". It was nice to see new businesses that popped up. And I had to chuckle at a group of bikers along the side of the road in the downtown area....I recognized a couple of them as guys that I went to school with. My, how we get old and change ourselves! (We're old enough to drink liquor in public now) I even saw Coach Duos' old truck for sale in the parking lot of Domengeaux's Lumber Yard and remembered that she was only one among many who drove that acqua blue Chevy. I wanted to rescue it from it's loneliness in that parking lot, and bring it home just to be able to say that I owned a piece of Sunset history.

It's amazing to me how life changes, especially when you're not around to see the gradual way in which change happens. Not just amazing, just plain shocking. I can't expect for change not to happen, I must go with the flow. I am happy to report though, that the overall expression of kindness and hospitality on people's faces have not changed...the people of south Louisiana all have that particular look to them; the look of hard working, yet friendly people that don't give a second thought to waving hello to someone they don't know.

I could go on and on about this, but I won't. I think I've made my point. This particular post is one that our military friends (or anyone who's ever moved away from home) can better relate to. I'm sure they've felt the same way from time to time. On my next post, I'll talk about one thing we look forward to every time we go home....THE FOOD!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Birthday, Sassy Cat!

I've decided that I will entertain you this week with details of our trip home from last week. We don't make it back to South Louisiana very often so there is lots to tell....I think. Well, maybe I'll get two or three posts off of it.

I will start off with the most memorable and downright humorous event.
But first, some background....

When I was a little girl, up until the time I got married and moved out of Mom's house, I was extremely close to a doll named Holly. Holly was my best friend in the sense that she knew everything about me and I knew that she would never judge me or betray me; She was always there for me when times got crazy and I needed some security. Snuggling with her when I was tired, sick or mad etc. always made me feel better. Call me crazy, but I took some of my bridal portraits with her in the background; it was my way of including her in one of the most important events of my life. She also made an appearance at the hospital when Gabe was born. Today, she sits safely on top of my Mom's bed so that she doesn't feel totally abandoned. Although I've grown up, she has a huge part of my heart.

This past year, while Phillip was in Iraq, his babysitter Ms. Jo bought a stuffed tiger for Gabe while they were out shopping one night. Her name is Sassy, after Jo's lovable old mutt Sassafras. It took only a short time for me to realize that Sassy became Gabe's "Holly", perhaps because his little world was just not right while Daddy was away. Sassy goes EVERYWHERE with us and was even the subject of Gabe's first pre-school fight. (another little boy called her a doll at naptime and Gabe was NOT having that!) To this family, it's another "Calvin and Hobbes" type situation. Sassy is a mischevious, but loving little tiger and she even helps me wake Gabe up for school in the morning. I use her as a tool to help build Gabe's imagination, and boy.....has it worked!

It started a few days before Thanksgiving. The announcement was made that Thanksgiving would be Sassy's birthday. She would be three years old (not really, but that's what Gabe says it be it). Of course, at first, we didn't take him too seriously. But on Thanksgiving night, after we had all eaten our fill of good food for the day and were lounging about in our PJ's at Phil's parent's house, the party was organized. There was already a cake on the kitchen cabinet; not a whole one, but it worked. We were told that candles needed to be rounded up. "Okay, so I guess this is really going to happen", I thought to myself. Before we knew it, we were all in the kitchen singing Happy Birthday and laughing our hiney's off! Everyone had to take pictures with the birthday cat. Gabe went to bed pleased with the outcome of the party and we went to bed scratching our heads at what just happened.

Oh, to be a kid again....It was a good night!

Monday, November 19, 2007

What's new?

Well, this is going to be a short post. Not much going on here that I can think of that's worth posting to the "public".

I have to share this with you though. On Saturday night, Gabe was resting his head on my stomach because he wanted to see if he could feel Sarah move. In the past, he's claimed to feel her when I know for sure he didn't because there was no activity. Well, all of a sudden she gives a good swift kick to his temple and I thought the kid was gonna fly off of the couch! His head shot up, he looked at me with eyes the size of quarters, and he had the most comical look of disbelief on his face. He started to fidget; he didn't know what to do with himself!!! I wish I had a camera to capture that moment; it was priceless.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling utterly exhausted. Maybe it was the excitement from Saturday or it could have been that I hadn't taken my prenatal vitamins in a few days. I'm so bad at taking medicine! I dragged myself through the day. It was a good one though. We went to a baptism and then on to a baby shower for two of our close friends.

This morning, I woke up with my allergies going full force. I'm waiting for my OB/Gyn to call me back with the answer on whether I can take Zicam or not. I REALLY don't want to be sick this week, because we are going home to Louisiana.

We should leave either tomorrow or Wednesday after Phillip gets off of work. We're excited about going to see family and catching up on what's new around our hometown. And there's always a couple of restaurants that we must eat at before we leave the area.

I probably won't post for a while because of the trip, so I hope that everyone has a wonderful week!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What a day!

I'm just gonna spit it out. I just woke up from a nap, I'm in shock, and I can't believe that today turned out the way it did. I took my Surgical Technology Certification test this morning and I passed it! Yes, sir. I did!!!

You can call me many things. I'm a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a pretty loyal friend, a documented perfectionist and can call me Janet Lopez, CST. (I worked for 2.5 years as a ST at one of the only hospitals in the area that did not recquire that I be why waste the $ to take the test when it really didn't matter to them?)

And now to explain to you why I'm so in shock about this new title. In recent months, I've had "pregnancy brain". Bad. I find myself not being able to form a complete thought at times, I often tune people out while they are talking to me (sorry folks, I know I've been a little anti-social), and when I would sit down to study for this test, I simply would not retain much information. So I gave up on studying this week. I also find myself trying to remember things like "When we did a TURP, did we use glycine or sterile water?" or "What was the name of that suture we used to close skin?". It's only been a few months since I've stopped working, so this scares me. I had accepted the fact that I would probably be one of those people that has to take the test twice. I figured I'd check into my hotel the night before, watch a movie to relax, and take the test to find out exactly what's on it so I could do some better, more intense studying in the future.

Last night, I cooked a Lopez favorite (Cabbage Casserole, and don't knock it, it's "the bomb"), ate, kissed the guys goodbye and set out for Austin. I figured that leaving later in the evening would help me to avoid that lovely traffic the city is famous for, but I had no such luck. A normally hour long drive turned out to be almost two hours! I checked into the Southpark Omni, which I got for a ridiculously low rate thanks to Priceline and went about finding the test site so I'd be all prepared with at least that. Okay, so we need to seriously update our version of Microsoft Streets and Trips, because the directions that were given led me about a mile out of my way (not good in that particular area of Austin due to twists and turns under major overpasses); I coulda just turned left out of the Omni parking lot and hooked a right, right on over to the test site!

Anyways, I woke up early this morning, made sure I had something good to eat and drove over to the test site to take my licking. I was allowed to start the test 15 minutes early and I admit that I was not sure about half of my answers. But, my work experience was there to carry me for much of the way. I clicked on the "end exam" button and hoped for the best. After a couple of minutes, there it was...the word "Pass". Sarah gave a small kick to my stomach and I nearly passed out. I stared at the screen with my mouth wide open for a bit. And then I gathered my locker key (purses not allowed) and bolted for the door to call my husband.

I doubted myself again and, again I proved myself wrong. And I am so happy that now, I can concentrate on the holidays and the last miserable months of pregnancy without the worry of having to study for this darned test! Yippppeeeeeeeee!!!

So, now that I'm Certified the question I still want to go to Nursing school? hmmmmmmm.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Run for your Life!

So, this is the tune I've had in my head all morning:

(to the tune of Frere Jacques)

Mr. Turkey, Mr. Turkey
Big and Fat
Big and Fat
I am going to eat you.
I am going to eat you.
Just like that!
Just like that!

As Gabe was playing on the living room floor the other day, I hear his sweet voice singing this song. Oh, Dear Kathy, what are they teaching our kids in schools? Such violence, I tell ya.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Sincere Attempt....

Okay, we tried. Really. Hard. To take a nice picture of the both of us looking nice and "purty". I mean, how often do we look our best and get the chance to do this? The goal was to actually take a nice family photo, but our son suddenly became one of those kids that couldn't resist sliding on the dance floor all night until he drops from exhaustion (there was no dragging him away, even with warnings that he had better not ruin his tuxedo).

Many thanks to our dear friend Beth (her blog link is on the side), who has turned her hobby into something awesome. The woman's got a skill and could make money at it if she wants. I enjoy her photography, I enjoyed this photo shoot (we laughed our butts off and tried to get serious) and judging by the way she was laughing at us...I think she enjoyed herself too!

PS. I originally posted more pics from this shoot, but the general response was that the file size was just a bit too small.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fun was had by all...

We went to the Bryan-College Station area this weekend and fun was had by all...

All three of us served in our friends' wedding; I was a bride's maid, Gabe was the ring bearer, and Phillip was an usher. We've known Kit ever since we were stationed at Fort Campbell, KY. He came over one night with our friends, Rob and Margaret, and while pushing Gabe on the swing, dropped him on his head! He's made himself completely comfortable with us ever since and shows up on a regular basis (he loves to ring our doorbell like a madman and takes great pleasure in hearing me scream "That's Enough, Kit!"). All in all, he's a great guy and we are so glad that he has Tiffany to call his wife. Tiff is a doll, inside and out.

We arrived in Caldwell, Texas on Friday evening in time for the rehearsal. We rehearsed for the wedding, were introduced to half of Caldwell (the half that Tiffany is related to) and then went on to the rehearsal dinner. (It was also good to see the family members that we already knew; Tiff's Mom is a complete sweetheart and I love visiting with Mr. Todd, Kit's Dad, as well). Gabe was really excited because he got a new Transformer toy for being the ring bearer.

On Saturday morning, Gabe and I went to the hotel lobby to check out the breakfast spread while Phillip took a shower. The U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team were in town for the weekend and were staying at our hotel; we had seen them on the news the night before because they jumped for a local football game and were surprised to get the chance to see them up-close. Gabe, being Mr. Personality, started talking to one of the guys and then Phillip eventually joined make a long story short, we learned from their Commander that Former President Bush (Pappa Bush, #41) was going to be jumping along with them at the Bush Presidential Library on the Texas A&M campus at eleven that morning. Gabe was also presented with a few stickers, and a couple of pins....boy, was he excited! While the guys went to watch the jump, I went back to the hotel and rested up for the evening.

The wedding was beautiful. We're used to the hour long Catholic Mass, so the Lutheran ceremony that took place was short and sweet; it was also a blessing for my tired feet (I don't do so well in high heels these days). The reception hall was filled to the brim with people. Tiffany's mom is the church organist and Caldwell is a small town, so about 800 invitations were sent out! Like the ceremony, the reception was a little different than what we are used to. After a sit- down dinner, the bridal party led a Grand March around the hall (after about 10-15 minutes of this, I had to run to the bathroom!). All in all, it we had a great time and returned to the hotel utterly exhausted.

On Sunday, we woke up late, saw a few of the Golden Knights again and then went on to explore the area. Bryan, Texas is a nice town with a charming little downtown area. We did a little Christmas shopping, ate lunch and left town before we got trapped in by the Veteran's Day parade. We then backtracked to College-Station to tour the Presidential Library, which was VERY interesting. I wonder, what will Baby Bush's (#43) library be like? What interesting artifacts will we be able to see? What will be said about him? Just curious.

We arrived home at a decent time Sunday night and made our Sunday night phone calls to parents. Looks like the plan for the holidays will be that we go home to Louisiana for Thanksgiving and then (since my doctor advised that travel around Christmas would not be a good idea), we will have family over starting the day after Christmas, for a few days. Plans are not definite yet, but I think that's how things will go. Anyone wishing to visit around that time is more than welcome to add their names to the list!

Hope everyone had a nice weekend as well. Until next time, Take good care of yourself.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I almost forgot...

How could I forget?! Today marks the one year anniversary of Phillip returning home from Iraq. What a wonderful day that was! I will never forget the tears in our little boy's eyes that day....Daddy was finally home.

It's been a great year and we are so happy to have him back in our day to day lives. We try so hard, but life is not the same when Daddy is away.


PS. It's been over a week since I've posted this, and I just wanted to add another thing. Look closely at the 3rd picture; Gabe's face says so many things...his eyes are glassy with tears, he's smiling, and he looks so...relieved. I want to cry every time I see this picture and I dread the next deployment.

What's going on?

Okay, sorry about venting on my last post. I guess I have more readers than I thought. I'd still like for others that I care about to take notice though....oh, well.

What's going on in the life of the Lopez Four this week? Well, I had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday and everything seems to be fine with Sarah. She is quite active, as the doctor had to chase her around my abdomen for a while to get a heartbeat. My original doctor who just recently moved to Arkansas had changed my due date to February 16, which got me REALLY excited (towards the end, I get really swollen and the less I have to carry her, the better). But my new doctor (I'm fortunate to have worked alongside both doctors and I know that they are both awesome docs) had no idea why the date has changed so he says it's better to go with the original. Of course, Sarah will come out when she's darn good and ready, so why even mess around with such things like due dates? I did gain more weight since the appointment before this one; I've been craving lots more sugar, not drinking as much water and you can tell from my face and chest that I've gained. I hope that it doesn't get much out of hand, and I guess I'll have to try harder to stay away from the Halloween candy! My doctor did tell me to make our Thanksgiving trip home to Louisiana a good one, because since Gabe was born at 37 weeks, he's not comfortable with us making a long drive back home for Christmas. I'm kinda relieved, because to be honest with you, I'm not sure how uncomfortable I'll be around that time and I would much rather be uncomfortable in my own home (and have my own bed to fall into).

Phillip is still going through training on the new F Model Chinook. He's been waking up really early and lack of sleep is starting to take it's toll on him. He starts flying again next week and I think he's looking forward to it. He made a Gumbo on Sunday that lasted us all of two days. I was a Gumbo eatin' fiend and I want more, more, more!!!

Gabe is being Gabe. I got a phone call from his teacher on Wednesday night. The boy just wouldn't sit down in class that day! He loves to push buttons at times to see what he can get away with. But, on the bright side, he shows us everyday that he is learning more and more and is excited about it. These days, his thing is to sound out words and I LOVE listening to him and helping him out. I did find out yesterday from one of his closest friend's Mom that they will be moving in January. My heart breaks for him again. He's made so many close friends that he's had to say good-bye to and I know he will miss this one. This is just another con to military life.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend. We're off to Bryan-College Station for a friend's wedding. Hopefully, we'll have some good pictures to show you next week.

Bye Bye for now.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Getting Ready...Part Two

I was cleaning off the desk in our office today and I came across this. Gabe made it at school last month. I'm so happy that in his little mind, the new baby is already part of the family. I just hope that once she finally arrives, that he doesn't mind sharing our attention.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Getting Ready

We're in the process of putting Sarah's room together. I started this early because the holidays are coming, and soon thereafter, Sarah will be on her way. And I am the type of person that always has to be prepared.

I found the bassinet at Babies-R-Us and it fits perfectly in our room (Gabe was so eager to help me put it together), and her crib bedding was a steal on ebay. The armoire in the corner is a nice old piece from Phillip's family that we will strip and re-stain (was also used in Gabe's room), the crib was Gabe's, and the dresser/changer that Phillip is putting together is a gift from Dad and Elaine. The Peter Pan picture was also Gabe's and I plan to change the matting in it to make it more feminine; I'm thinking that I'll have the blue taken out and replace it with a Mocha color. As for the valance on the window, I think I want to change the curtain rod and put something sheer and floor-length. I guess you can say that the nursery will have a Shabby Chic theme to it. I am also looking for a good picture of the Evangeline Oak in St. Martinville, LA to put up somewhere in her room (black & white or Sepia for the antique flair).

Any comments or opinions are welcome. Do you have any ideas on what else I should do for her room?

In case any of you were worried about my heartburn (I'm just joking), I got some Zantac yesterday for my heartburn and wow! I slept so much better last night. I didn't have to take my usual 2-3 a night dose of Tums! Now if I can just control my bladder issues...

Well, have a good day. I'm off to Austin today to pick up a dress for an upcoming wedding, and maybe I'll do a little shopping.

(You can click on any picture that I post in any blog for better viewing)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Here you go...

This is me, at 24 weeks (6 months), taken last night. The stomach "popped out" a few weeks ago and you can definetly tell that I'm pregnant now.

So far, things have been good. As I've mentioned before, I crave lots of water and fruit, so my skin looks awesome. My face has swollen, but I've only gained less than 10 pounds so I'm VERY happy about that. Oh, and the heartburn.....I'm constantly chewing on Tums. I think I need something stronger, Zantac or Prilosec is on today's grocery list.

As for Sarah, she's alive and kickin'. On Tuesday, I don't think she slept very much at all because she constantly kicked throughout the day. We both slept rather peacefully that night though. I find it amazing that just a few short weeks ago, it felt like I had a bug crawling in my abdomen and then one day....POW! she goes into full blown kicks. I'm also really sensitive to light these days; I wonder what that means?

Happy Halloween!

We live in a great neighborhood. Every year for Halloween, we meet up with a group of friends/neighbors and have fun together with the whole trick-or-treat thing. By the time we meet up, take pictures, and then go hunting for candy down our looooong street and halfway down the next, most of us are wiped out (more parents than kids). Gabe was a winged dragon; we realize this is probably the last year that we can put him in a costume this cute and get a way with it!

When we finally got home after visiting with our friends Kit and Tiffany, Gabe sorted his candy, took a bath and went to bed later than usual. It was a fun night, but it was really rough trying to wake up this morning.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Day out with Thomas

We had fun this past weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, we drove up to Tyler, TX to spend the night at Angie's house. Angie is Phillip's sister and it is both a blessing and a treat that she lives so close to us (it's almost a 3 hour drive). Gabe LOVES going to his Na-Nan's house to spend time with her and his cousins, Brigg and Elise. On this particular visit, we had something very important to do and that was to go to Rusk, TX on Sunday to spend the day with Thomas!

Thanks to my older brother, James, Gabe now has a massive collection of Thomas the Tank Engine tracks, engines, cars etc. It all started when James bought a starter kit for him. For the past 3 years at least, we've been slowly gathering pieces to the set.

Gabe not only loves Thomas, but has shown quite an interest in all trains. For some time now, I've wanted to take him to the Texas State Railroad Museum in Rusk and this was the perfect weekend to do it. Gabe and his little friend, Marissa, had the best time and we even got to take a ride on Thomas' train.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Report Card time

I am happy to report that Gabe got his very first Report Card today and his conduct from earlier this semester has not hurt him. I mentioned that he's a talker, and he was having some trouble adjusting to the rules, but I think he's past that now. Ever since the day he was sent to the Vice Principal's office and got In-School-Suspension, he's been an Angel. (We warned him, but he had to find out for himself)

He also got good grades in basic kindergarten skills, and his teacher says that he's a pleasure to have in class and that he's a very eager learner. She wasn't singing that song a month ago!!!

There were no "Unsatisfactory" marks on his card so, do you think maybe we should reward him? Just joking. Of course, we will.

And now, I shall introduce...

Exactly eight years ago today, Phillip and I became Two (or if you will, we became one). On October 30, 1999 I truly did marry my best friend and I have absolutely no regrets. I knew from our first date that he was special and would be in my life for a very long time. I just never imagined that he'd be crazy enough to marry little ol' me.

Let me tell you about him. First off, we were both born and raised in South Louisiana. Phillip's last name is of Spanish origin; his father's family has been traced back to Grenada, Spain. Phillip's dream has always been to fly. He started flying fixed wing aircraft while in highschool, and now flies the huge and impressive CH-47 Chinook helicopter for the U.S. Army. (I NEVER thought I would end up outside of the confines of small town LA, or become a military wife; life is definitely more interesting these days!). The word Pilot does not completely define him. After all, he is a wonderful husband. There are times that I could kill him and tell God he died, but I am not perfect and living with me takes a strong man. He has loads of patience (I know, I've tested it) and the determination of....well, I can't give you a good example, but you get my point. I can't think of anyone else to raise a family with. He is an excellent father, enjoys every minute of it and I would be proud to grow up and say that I had a father like him (don't take this the wrong way, I have a wonderful father of my own). Gabe and I are very lucky to have him in our lives.

I'm Janet. My mom's side of the family has been traced back to La Rochelle, France (I really wish I knew exactly where Dad's family comes from). I am a Surgical Technologist and I thoroughly enjoy what I do. For now, I am a stay-at-home mom as we are expecting the late winter arrival of a baby girl! My plan is to take care of myself and my little family for a while (Phillip will be deployed again sometime next year), and then who knows...I may go back to school for a nursing degree just to broaden my horizons. I am a busybee. I tend to be anxious about nothing at times, and I'm the type of person that always has to have something to look forward to.

On April 20, 2002, we became Three. I can't imagine life without our son. I realized the moment I got a good look at him, that my purpose in life was right there in front of me. I love being a mother, as I live at times vicariously through him. I'm a kid again, thanks to him. I thank God everyday for the privilege of being Jean Gabriel's mother. He is a happy and healthy five year old; talks too much at times, but hey, it could be worse! He is 100% pure entertainment. Gabe loves to be active and enjoys soccer. He is a child that thrives on lots of hugs and kisses (he's quite sensitive) and praise. He loves helping out (doing the dishes can be fun!) and will not hesitate to let you know what's on his mind. He is also very excited to be a big brother and doesn't mind at all that he'll have a sister, instead of a brother.

Our little family is eagerly anticipating the arrival of the fourth member. Sarah Evangeline is due in late February. She will be the first girl in twelve years on Phillip's side of the family and the first grand-daughter on my side. For now, the only thing I can tell you about her is that she is a kicker! She has me craving fresh fruit, and I drink so much water with crushed ice in it that I tend to make myself sick. I have a 4-D ultrasound scheduled before Christmas, and I cannot wait to see what she looks like (I'm cheating, I know I should just wait for the birth).

I've been fortunate with both pregnancies, morning sickness was never really an issue, but incubating a baby sure does drain ALL of the energy out of me.

As time goes on, you will learn more and more about us. As I've mentioned before, we keep busy so check back often for pics and news. You never know what I might write about...

And I hope this post finds everyone safe, happy and healthy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

As requested...

The conversation with Beth went something like this:

Beth: Why don't you blog anymore? I liked reading your old one.
Janet: I don't know. It kinda gave me the creeps that some people were reading, but not commenting. I'm not sure if I want to share "us" with anyone else. Why should I share my private thoughts etc. with the public?
Beth: Well, don't share your private thoughts, share your public thoughts.

And in my mind, I thought, okay smart@$$, I guess you're right!

So, after putting more thought to it, here's what I came up with....I know that at least certain members of my family liked visiting my old blog so that they could see more into our daily life. And I know that friends would also stop by for the same reasons. It's nice to post pictures and spread the news; I'm just not quite sure how interesting some things may be to other people. Again, I think to myself "do I really want to let others into our day to day lives?". I guess, the answer is yes. Because, over here at Casa de Lopez, the house is full of love and good times, and we work very hard to keep it that way. Why would I not want to share it with you, the reader?

We are a military family. We live a busy life. We love to travel and explore. We take lots of pictures and we make lots of memories. Sometimes, it's hard for our loved ones to keep up with us; this I know. Hopefully, this will be a good way to "keep in touch".

My goal is to inform and entertain. I will use this blog to be outright and honest. But most of all, I intend to have fun with this....
I guess I'll give this blogging thing another shot. But, I'm shy and still a little hesitant; if I get little or no feedback from you, I will consider terminating the project again.

So here you go, Beth (and everyone else). I hope you enjoy!
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