Saturday, November 23, 2013

My other blog (she has another blog?)

I originally started two blogs, one for my family and one for my scrapbooking, but the last time I posted on my scrapbooking blog was 5 years ago! I decided to remedy the situation and now I'm working to keep a fun log of favorite scrapbooking pages and ideas and tools and whatnot. If you're interested (or just bored out of your mind and have nothing better to do at the moment), go check it out at willscrapbookforfood.blogspot.com. Enjoy!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Muhammad-al-Eli

Eli and Caroline and Patrick really like to brush my hair, but none of them are particularly good (i.e., gentle) about it. After finishing up with a particularly painful brushing Eli asked me if it hurt when I brushed my own hair. I said, "Yeah, but not as much because I expect it. It's like when you punch yourself, you can't really do it so hard it hurts because you expect it." Eli said, "I can punch so it hurts!" and he immediately punched himself straight in the face. Well, you sure showed me, Eli!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Family photos with mischievious children...

Although we had family photos over the summer in Estes park, our kids grow by the day (practically by the second, judging by their food consumption and outgrowing of pants) AND I needed to update their individual pictures. Since everyone "turns" in the winter months I like to do it all in one fell swoop: family photo, individual yearly photos, and material for Christmas cards. We had our good friend Cami Chapman do them for us, and I'm pleased with how many cute ones we got!

 One of those "All because two people fell in love" beginnings... First we were crazy about each other, then we had four kids, and now we are just crazy.

Awww, Patrick is old enough to pose by a river and not fall in - so big! *tear!*

I maintain that Eli is the handsomest. Like, EVER. In the history of ever.

This is a common look from Caroline when she's embarrassed - the only thing missing from this expression is her looking out the corner of her eyes.

 How can you resist this guy?!

 Wicked cute!

 There was some serious wrestling by Patrick and distraction by the parents to get Ethan to sit semi-still for this shot.

 In the end we ditched him because he was determined to throw himself off the boulder and own the hill. I'm holding the frame in one hand, Ethan in the other, out of the shot.

 But I still love him. And he still loves me (and my teeth).

My handsome dudes

 We didn't do it! We were framed! Very cutely framed!

 Framed or not, Caroline's too cute to be found guilty.

 ALL my handsome guys.
 
Cami is the same talented friend who did Ethan's baby photos, so if you're in Pueblo and need some nice pictures snapped, call her!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Help, injected with honesty

You know in "The Help" (by Kathryn Stockett) when Aibeleen tells the little girl she watches, "You is good. You is smart. You is important."? It always makes me want to cry because I can see myself on both sides, being like the mother who is distracted by inconsequential things instead of using her energy to wisely raise her daughter, and being like Aibeleen who is truly busy yet trying to instill in the girl a sense of self-worth in spite of sometimes difficult circumstances. Yes, I can be distracted by inconsequential things, like crafting far too late into the night so my kids get TV and candy in the morning while I get a nap; on the other hand, I spend nearly every waking minute with 3 of my 4 kids so there are more moments than I can even count where I am reading to them, talking with them, playing with them, cleaning with them, eating with them, encouraging them, lecturing them, and loving them. 

To make the most of some of our quiet moments, and to counteract some of my negligent moments, I've taken a note from Aibileen and been whispering encouraging words to my kids as I tuck them in bed. Caroline, especially, since I catch myself saying nice things about her, but things that are not necessarily something to aspire to, like, "You're my pretty girl." Caroline, don't go getting the impression that I am basing your worth on how pretty you are! I'm not! But I'm your mom, and I think you're pretty, so I say it. So at bedtime I say things like, "You are smart. You are important. You are special." She nods in agreement with each one, which warms my heart. Last night after I'd whispered to her and was leaving the room she added, "And difficult," and nodded with her satisfied little smile. Now THAT is the truth, Caroline, that is the truth.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Perhaps craftier than I thought...

 A friend walked into my house yesterday and appreciated these colorful curtains. I was happy because I LOVE these curtains, they were a big part of bringing more bright colors into my living spaces!

I said, "Thanks! I made them from some clearance fabric I found at Hobby Lobby." She was surprised and noticed that the pillows were homemade, too, so then I started pointing out all the things I've crafted that decorate the one room we were standing in… it was crazy! The family sign over the door.
The wreath on the front of the door. The pillows on the couch. I knitted the blanket on the couch. I painted the frames that are all around the room.

I whipped up the cafe curtains over the sink, and made a cute pink accent stripe around the window.

I was feeling pretty good about myself! Most of the projects have slowly spanned the last 5 years or so, it's not like I suddenly began crafting 6 months ago and have transformed my home, because that's simply not true. But the slow accumulation of homemade items combines to make a unique and fun (for me) place to be! Later this weekend, hanging out with Kari, we were sitting on our rears doing nothing while the kids were playing well and quietly together - why waste time? Let's do more crafts! So I went to get the materials from my house for a new Valentine's wreath I've been wanting to start, and in collecting the material I came across materials for old projects I never got around to finishing! So instead of a from-scratch Valentine's wreath I ended up completing these 3 beauties:

A Valentine's 3-D thingy. I painted an old scratched-up frame from Goodwill (got the cheapest one I could find, less than $2). The Zebra background is scrapbooking paper, on hand (and stolen from my sister Kari, so REALLY free for me!), the roses are simply scrapbooking paper cut into a circle, then cut a spiral into he circle and wind it up from the inside out, then hot-glued on. SO EASY, you wouldn't believe it (especially for how cute they turn out!)


A decorative tray. I salvaged an unfinished wood breakfast tray from Goodwill (maybe $2? It was YEARS ago), painted the edges and mod-podged scrapbooking paper cut and/or torn to make the interior picture.  The tree on top has sequins glues on as ornaments, the wording was cut from Cricut. All the items were already on-hand, I didn't buy anything special for it, so I'm gonna say $2 for this bad-boy. It's sitting on one of the chairs I re-upholstered myself :)

This nice charger I got on wicked clearance at BBB after-holiday sales. Originally $10 it was only $1! I hand-cut "joy" and cut the rest from Cricut, then mod podged it together. The paper and mod podge were on hand, the Cricut was borrowed from my sister, so the whole project was seriously $1.

I guess I need to dig through my craft stash more often, I know I have more half-finished projects lying in wait for a quiet afternoon!



Friday, November 15, 2013

Visitors - the Pre-game

Joe's parents drove over to visit us for a few days, and we had lots of fun! For one, they always bring us lots of stuff. Exhibit A:
Cutest dollhouse ever! They acquired it from a garage sale in anticipation of Caroline's birthday, but since they won't be here for her actual birthday they wanted to enjoy the gift of giving and see her play with it while they were here. Caroline was very please. Eli, though, was over the MOON, he was far more enthusiastic! It was fun to have the two of them open it together (Patrick was at school and Ethan was napping).

Exhibit B:
Bikes! Bikes! And MORE bikes! Patrick's new one looks like a dirt bike, but is really pedal power.
 
Check out the enthusiasm!
 
Patrick's new red bike meant Eli could use Patrick's old yellow bike, though he's back to insisting he needs training wheels. Oh well, soon enough... in the meantime, he goes 200 mph!
 
Caroline's bike was brought down last time and she's put a few thousand miles on it since then, but they DID bring a 3-wheel scooter and a smaller bicycle for when Ethan grows a bit! So many modes of transportation in one garage...


For another thing, Debbie and I went shopping and I got 2 cute pairs of shoes, a nice skirt, about 5 adorable shirts, and enough books that it took 3 grocery sacks to carry them. The only place you can shop like that and still get out for under $75 bucks was Goodwill, one of my favorite haunts! Secondhand stores are the best - get a sink, get Halloween costumes, get materials for gifts to make, expand your library, and get some really adorable stuff. By adorable stuff I mean I got shirts from Charlotte Russe and Old Navy for $3 apiece, and I would be shocked if the shoes were not brand spanking' new - there's not a scuff mark on the outside or toe indent on the inside! It's not regular outfit-your-whole-wardrobe shopping, of course, but sometimes (like this time) you can get some serious steals.

 For a final thing, we had a very nice time just being together. Ethan loves to play peek-a-boo, and grandma loves Ethan, so there was quite a bit of that going on.


 And finally we had to get some shots of the kids with the grandparents. They're getting so big!

Awww, look at that Joe! He's getting so big and grown up! I'm scared for the day my boys are taller than I am.


 And look at that grandma Debbie! She's getting thinner than ever. She's been on the Ideal Shape diet this past year and this amazing woman lost 105 pounds! More details o that later... but Holy cow, I get grumpy when I need to lose even 5.

 Now I call this the visitors pre-game because over Thanksgiving we'll have upwards of 20 people in our two houses, so this was a little practice run on getting things to run smoothly. Wish us luck!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Oops, and Dollar deals

Was yesterday a post based on pictures that didn't actually have any pictures? Well, try reading it again - THIS time I actually put pictures of the nook on it! Hooray hooray! I like the yellow paint in the room much better in person, it never photographs well. Maybe I'll have to repaint so you'll be even more *impressed* by my rooms when I take pictures - anything for you, that's my motto.

In other room news I posted (many moons ago) a picture of Caroline's tree that I painted on her wall, and it looked pretty bare. I eventually hung up shelves like the original idea I'd pinned, and I also stumbled across wall stickers from the Dollar Tree - there were 2 different styles of butterflies and I bought 2 packs of each, not sure which theme I wanted to go with, but in the end I enjoyed mixing the realistic butterflies with the plain pink ones. I seriously wish this was MY room, I love hanging out in there!

Then I found this very cute metallic fairy wall sticker - add a little magic to a boring space of wall between her door and her closet.

For the boys' room they had dino wall stickers! Big & little dinosaurs, plants, and footprints to create your own scene. This scene wasn't created by me, but I figured Fun (which is the Function) over Form.

Here's a Triceratops stabbing a T-Rex in the Achilles tendon.

In the case of my boys, they recreate the scene daily - the stickers stick well enough to move again and again without sticking SO well you need a razorblade and some Goo Gone. All in all, from cute butterflies to aggressive dinosaurs to sparkly fairies, I'd say "head to your local dollar store! It's a couple bucks well spent!"  You may need to search a bit, these were in the same isle as dog food and pet care. Worth the browsing!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nook, 365 days later (or is it 2 weeks early?)

Well, in this post (yup, this li'l post from 2012) I SAID "Let's see how far we get by Thanksgiving," I didn't say Thanksgiving of what YEAR. So, for Thanksgiving 2013, here is our nook!

I got around the upholstering the chairs!

I painted the cabinets white and turned them into upholstered benches!
I even re-upholstered those benches because they were originally white in a vinyl fabric I *thought* would be easily wipe-able but was really just dingy and dirty no matter how hard I scrubbed; this is exactly the same fabric in black.

I got art on the walls!

Curtains on the window!

See? Everything I wanted to have done by Thanksgiving, DONE. I must be awesome.




Monday, November 11, 2013

Funny Kids Tids (tidbits, that is)

Just some humorous tidbits that have been overheard from my kids lately... I realize I used to do them a lot more, so now I've been listening a lot more and writing them down again. Good thing! They were funny this week.

Patrick and Eli helped me clean out some of the air ducts in our kitchen this week - they needed to be vacuumed out and have the vent covers washed. They were gross. I'm not a picky person, so if *I* think they were gross the general population may have deemed them disgusting. But not anymore, of course, now they are CLEAN. Patrick was so proud of his job scrubbing and drying off with 11 paper towels (sorry, trees, I miss you already!) he declared, "Sheesh, I could do this, like, every frickin' day!"  "Sheesh," a "like" filler, and "frickin'" all in one sentence from my 5-year-old. So proud :)

Caroline lined up a bunch of stuffed animals and was singing to them.  As I walked past she told me, "I putting my babies to bed." I said, "Awwww, that's sweet that you're singing to them." She deadpanned me and said, "No (in a "no-duh-you-idiot" tone), my MONKEY is singing to them." Sure enough, she had a very small stuffed monkey in her lap. Very soon she will have mastered the art of eye rolling, and she has yet to turn 3 years old.

Here's my still-2-year-old in sponge roller. We'll see how that turns out in the morning.
 
Each night before bed Caroline like me to snuggle her. I'm all for a good snuggle, but she's in a modified crib (open in the front) so I can't exactly lay in her bed (without breaking it, that is) and it's a tricky angle to snuggle on the floor, so I do my best and tell her I'll snuggle for one minute. Lately she's been very annoyed that as I breathe through my nose I am breathing on her shoulder. She shrugs away and tells me I am "niffling" her. Heaven forbid, here comes some niffles!

The boys were watching a dino documentary on Netflix today, narrated by Donald Sutherland - it's a good one, and you can always TELL it's going to be a good one if it's narrated by Donald Sutherland. Sorry Ben Stiller, your narration stinks. But anyway, they wanted this documentary on in the background because then they had all their toy dinos out to fight. At one point Patrick('s dinosaur) exclaimed, "I'll sacrifice myself for you!" Then aside to Eli, "Do you know what sacrifice means? It meant to die for something important so that someone else can live." They kept on playing, then one of the dinosaurs must have bit the dust because Eli said, "Nooooooo!" (with exactly the voice inflection you're imagining from a lame movie). Patrick responded in a light, angelic voice, "It's okay, I'll see you in Heaven...."  So now we know, all dogs AND all dinosaurs go to heaven.   

On the All Dogs Go To Heaven bit, just last month I met a couple who named their only child, a girl, Charlie. Not a nickname. The mom said she loved the name ever since ADGTH. I just hope that girl is a HOTTIE when she gets older, because then Charlie is a stroke of genius; if not, Charlie is a cruel joke that she will be yoked with the rest of her days. Hopefully she got a girly middle name just in case.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Crafty Crafter

I've pinned any number of cute throw pillows because pillows are easy and cheap to make at home, or crazy expensive to buy while I'm hating myself for going shopping with my kids. Unfortunately to make pillows you have to buy fabric, so there is SOME shopping involved, but I was lucky enough to be kid-free one morning and hit up Hobby Lobby. Found some super-cute polka-dot fabric on clearance for $4 a yard, so I bought 1 yard to make 2 pillows, plus 2 colors of felt (4 sheets of felt for $1, I bought 4 sheets of each color, so $2) to make the flower petals. Total for each pillow, then was $3! Hooray! The instructions for this particular pillow come from http://www.cluckclucksew.com/2008/09/petal-pillow-tutorial.html
 
Here is how mine turned out:

 Notice the lovely purple knit blanket behind the pillow, it's the one I lovingly spend 800 hours on for my baby girl, which turned out to be baby boy Ethan. Anyway, the pillow was indeed very simple, but mine took lots longer than 30 minutes to make since I was whipping it up in the middle of the day with kids running all around. I had to forcibly remove Ethan from sitting on top of my sewing machine pedal more than once.

The next pillow was an idea from dollarstorecrafts.com, which (you guessed it) is dedicated to ideas for crafts you can make solely from items you find at the dollar store! Love it because it means I can go to the Dollar Tree (just down the road) and bring my kids because they can all pick 1 item and then they're quiet, good shoppers so I'll actually BUY their items. Hobby Lobby, much as I adore it, is clear across town and I can't get out of there for less than $50, EVER.  So I've seen and I loved these felt leaf placemats, but I never use placemats, so I was so excited to see them used as a PILLOW! Pillows, I use.

You know any girls who loves naps loves pillows. I worked on this very late into the evening as Joe and I caught a few episodes of Scandel (he's hooked, thank goodness) and nobody claimed it was a 30-minute pillow in the first place, but GUYS... this is NOT a 30-minute pillow. It SHOULD be, it's so simple! Stitch an existing felt leaf placemat onto white fabric, fold it inside-out and whip the sides together, and BOOM. But I was very particular about my pinning, I wanted the fabric to align perfectly with no shifting (which I did, so that's good), so I pinned the heck out of that leaf. Then I wanted to make sure all the edges were securely sewn down, so there was a LOT of angles and turns and sewing veeeery sloooowly. It took about 90 minutes, start to finish.
Still! The fabric was $8 a yard (I bought nice thick fabric since it's white and it's just a slipcover, it needed to cover my dark brown couch pillows!) and each pillow took 1/2 a yard, plus a $1 placemat. $5 a pillow? Yes, please! The two episodes of Scandel it took to make it were practically a bonus, I love that show.
 
The bad part about the whole 2-tv-show-episodes, 90-minute pillow craft-a-palooza was that the next morning I was exhausted! It went down after Joe finished tiling, so I was making this at indecent hours. The next morning I catnapped on the couch while my kids ate Halloween candy and cheese puffs for breakfast while watching cartoons. But hey! I had this super-cute pillow to nap on, candy for breakfast is a dream come true and happens roughly never at our house, so it's all good.




Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bold and the Beautiul: Part 4

TILE!

Did I say I'd post about this tomorrow? I meant today, since I forgot to "schedule" when I posted. Oh well.

Joe worked super hard for 2 days taming the tile monster. It was noisy from the tile saw and all the swearing, tiles were being cut and/or broken right and left! 12"x24" tiles, not some cheap 6x6 thing, so it was extremely frustrating at some points. He persevered and now it's up! It's beautiful! It's... still not quite complete, as you can see.

The top and bottom row need to be put in, but there were some scheduling issues... He wants the shower pan tile down before the wall tiles, so as the water runs down the wall it will go over the basin tile; if he laid the wall tile first the water would run down under the basin tile and possibly cause a failure. If nothing else, bad design. BUT. He only has a few days at a time and if he laid the basin tile he would have to wait a few days for it to cure enough for him to stand and work on (and probably drip lots of mortar and muck on), so his days would be wasted waiting for the basin to dry rather than getting things done. I call Joe "Mr. Miralax" because, as he likes to say, he "makes sh*t happen."


 
 
 
 
 
 
 


=

His Needs, Her Needs, House Needs

Watch out, this could be a long one…

Normally when Joe and I have a project going we work together. I love painting side-by-side, he needs a helping hand to hold the crown moulding, and spending a few hours browsing our local Lowe's or Home Depot together is time we enjoy together! But this project is DIFFERENT.

It all started when we realized the bathroom is really too small for both of us to fit in at the same time, particularly while swinging a hammer. Only one of us could work at a time, and that one often needed to be Joe. Heavy lifting? Joe. Electrical work? Joe. New plumbing? Joe. Even if previous projects had similar aspects that were just Joe I would sit nearby and we'd chat and dream up new house ideas or something. Well, there isn't even any room to sit and chat now so I might as well make myself useful somewhere else. You know what's really useful to a guy working hard on home renovation? A hot meal! You know what has to be done after a hot meal? Dishes! And how about all those clothes that get grimy and sweaty from his construction? Laundry! And what does a guy want after working in a dirty, cramped space? A clean house to relax in! So my part of the bathroom renovation has been to settle into an even-more-domestic-than-usual role.

Let's talk domesticity.  My mom had us do some chores around the house growing up, but mostly she bore the brunt of housework. I didn't touch a load of laundry until I went to college - not to sort, wash, dry, fold, or put away. The laundry fairy did it, and she sure was amazing at her job! Same with the dishes fairy (even though that fairy tried hard to convince us she didn't exist). We had to mow the lawn and occasionally sweep or vacuum, and I enjoyed helping with dinner, though it certainly wasn't required. I absolutely loved and admired all the hard work my mom did for our family, and I was very gratefully I didn't have to do it myself! Instead, I worked on playing piano, working my way through our library, practicing for softball or swimming, getting up to my elbows in an art project, and spending many long and creative hours with my sisters and friends playing games/making forts/taking pictures.  All the mundane things my mom did allowed me the freedom to do much COOLER and more FUN things - because that's a mom's job!

Well crap. Now I am a mom. Now that is my job. There is SO MUCH laundry, cooking, and cleaning to be done I find it difficult to catch a significant chunk of time for my own pursuits. I have a little time here (quiet time in the afternoon, if Ethan's asleep) and a little time there (bedtime, if it doesn't require me to get out of my seat every 5 minutes for a glass of water or a lecture about saying in bed), but mostly my time is dedicated to "mom's jobs."  At the beginning of our marriage this wasn't a thing. Chores and cooking were light and were divided pretty evenly, but of course when kids enter the picture marriages and roles get turned on their head. The more kids I had, the more you I got up on your head, and now I feel like I am in a nearly complete headstand - I'm fine, everything's ok, but it's quite an adjustment to being right-side-up! And it's not an adjustment that came easily, believe you me. If you read my blog, you believe me already. No, no, it's taken 7 years and 4 children for me to become a decent housekeeper. Let's examine that, shall we?

I hate keeping house. I love having my house kept, but doing it is such a drag! Trouble is I don't want Joe to do it. Don't get me wrong, he's a handy guy with a broom or some windex and it's his house too so he should help out, but I feel terribly guilty if he has to clean, it feels like I've been failing at my job. I stay home, home IS my job. This became a big issue when we lived in Thornton because A) I was nearly always pregnant, which means always exhausted and sleepy, B) we moved at an incredibly slow pace on home projects due to a severe lack of time and funds, and keeping the house neat around construction is a whole different ball of wax, and C) I was just plain not as good at keeping house. I did not want to accept that it all fell on me, I wanted a magical solution to appear where I could get the house clean and cute and de-cluttered and still take a nap.  Plus, Joe worked super-long hours so I figured if the house was a mess he'd only see it about 2 hours a day. NOW, though, times have changed. Oh, the times have changed SO MUCH for the better and Joe is home SO MUCH… which means the house needs to be clean and STAY clean because Joe is actually here to see it! Yipes! This is a big deal because Domestic Support is one of Joe's top 5 needs, as outlined in "His Needs, Her Needs"  by Willard F. Harley, Jr.

I absolutely love relationship books. I love trying to learn how to make my relationship better before something happens to make it get worse, like a little 72-hour Relationship Kit when an unexpected storm blow in. Luckily, I was reading "His Needs, Her Needs" after our big issue and a storm blew in. I re-read my old posts just last week because I was looking for the one about re-doing our bathroom and I got sucked in with memories… and I hadn't really remembered (though I did as clear as day once I read it) that Joe confessed to his pregnant-with-his-third-child wife that he didn't feel like they were in love anymore, and then his pregnant & hormonal wife did not panic - because this book was that dang good! After re-reading that post I knew I had to re-read the book, and this time to do it WITH Joe (who is now VERY much in love with me, thankyouverymmuch). So we were reading it together, trying to decide which of the 10 emotional needs we rate as most important to us individually - there's "admiration, affection, conversation, domestic support, family commitment, financial support, honesty and openness, physical attractiveness, recreational companionship, and sexual fulfillment" (Harley, Jr. "His Needs, Her Needs," 2004. Page 18). To get a better idea of what some of those categories comprise we were reading their summaries in the index, so I read domestic support - we vaguely thought it was probably not important, only rated with people who were superficial.  Joe even declared, "Pshhhht!" when I came to the topic, like he was *so above that.*  He's a man of the present, not the past - he cooks REALLY well, he takes the kids and goes grocery shopping, if he desperately needs a shirt ironed he does it himself - but as we read the description it was like reading our own personal history!

"Newlyweds commonly wash dishes together, make the bed together, and divide many household tasks… At this point in marriage, neither of them would identify domestic support as an important emotional need.  But the time bomb is ticking. When does the need for domestic support explode? When the children arrive! Children create huge needs - both a greater need for income and greater domestic responsibilities" (Harley, Jr. "His Needs, Her Needs," 2004. Page 192-193).
"Domestic Support includes cooking meals, washing and ironing clothes, cleaning house, and child care.  If you feel very fulfilled when your spouse does these things, and very annoyed (that's Joe!) when they are not done, you have the need for domestic support" (Harley, Jr. "His Needs, Her Needs," 2004. Page 192)

We laughed out loud and immediately ranked Domestic Support right up there in his top 5! He and I both agreed that we feel more in love now than we were when we lived in Thornton, and we both credit "the job change that saved our marriage." I am more able and willing to provide the things he needs (like domestic support) when he is able to give me things that I need (like family commitment). Bonus on the financial support, his increased salary has made our lives 1,000 times easier. This hasn't made me like housework, but it has given me much more of a purpose in doing it. I always knew Joe (and I) would rather live in a clean house than a dirty one, but I'd also rather have a pedicure and a extra-long nap at least once a week, and that's just not always in the stars. But when I'm doing it specifically for my spouse so he feels fulfilled rather than annoyed, and I know that my spouse is working equally hard to keep me happy in my own personal areas, well... it's a good thing. I'll clean to that!

So while Joe works on the bathroom I work on the house because His Need is to be taken care of, Her Need is to have him around, and the House Needs two fulfilled people to get it put back together. More on that progress tomorrow...

Meanwhile, I highly recommend the book! Fix existing problems, avoid future problems, and meanwhile get your fix of an interesting and enlightening read.