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Got Milk? A story about a girl and her breastpump

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written a blog! I swore I wouldn’t have long breaks from this once I started, but I guess that’s what happens when you (kind of) have a life!

Anyways, today’s post is about breast feeding. Only more specifically pumping. Hopefully it’ll be an encouraging story, if not, at least maybe an insightful one.

So I guess thewhole debates of formula versus breast milk are raging again. Or I’ve just been in a hole for a while and have just now noticed them popping up. Formula peeps are like “Hey! Fed is best, and breast feeding is weird to me, and I’m too busy to deal with it!” and the breastfeeding peeps are like “Hey! You’re totally depriving kids of a college degree and mutant powers if you do formula!” (I know that’s not really the rounded view of either argument, please don’t start a debate on my comments… I’ll ignore it.) For me? I think parents need to chill out a little bit. Both of my kids had breast milk and formula and seem fine. Although they do seem to have a weird interest in the toilet… So! I kind of feel like if you’re happy and the kid is eating and happy, then everything else will fall into place. It’s a medical fact that breast milk is amazing for babies, and there is nothing to match it. It’s also amazing for the mother as it puts everything back together in so many words. But formula is pretty packed full of good stuff too, and in the end it ensures babe is fed and happy. So yay for both sides!

End rant.

So! If you’ve decided you want to breast feed, but there are latching issues for one reason or another, I’m going to give you a few things I think you should know about pumping before starting the journey.

1: Frequency of Pumping Sessions:

Just because you’re pumping doesn’t mean you get to sleep through the night and set your own pumping schedule. The idea is that your simulating a baby breast feeding. So you will have to start off pumping as frequently as your baby would be eating. (2-2.5 hours) Eventually you can space these out a little bit further, but the rule of thumb is, the more frequent and longer you pump the more supply you’ll have, the less frequent and shorter, the less supply you’ll have.

2: The Cleaning

Every. Time. Every time you pump you have to wash all the parts of the pump, including milk containers, shields, etc. I would keep wipes by my bed and wipe everything down really well to kind of extend the actual washing to every other pumping session. If you have the option, this could be good brownie point earning opportunities for your significant other.

3: The Chafing

Pumping can get very painful, just like breast feeding. If anything I’d argue more so since the shields have no natural lubricants like baby spit. I hear this complaint a lot about why people stop pumping. Good thing I had someone tell me once that you can rub lanolin on your nipples before you pump and it lubricates and helps prevent chafing. And it really does! I could always tell the difference with and without.

4: The Pump Makes ALL the Difference

Depending on what pump you have, you can have a super enjoyable pumping experience, or a super miserable one. This is something where you certainly do get what you pay for. Cheap pumps can cause infections, milk fever, and all kinds of bad things to happen due to the inability to empty you out. A good breast pump has the “flitting” time to help your breasts “let down” their milk, and also you can adjust the power to make sure you are getting everything out. Clogged ducts ain’t no fun.

5: Pumping Space Haven

If you’re going to pump, make a place in your house that you will be. (I used my bed and then moved to a rocking chair we had in the living room) Make a list of shows you’re interested in. Make a pile of books, hobbies (like knitting or something that it’s super involved), snacks, drink… You’re going to be spending A LOT of time in those spots. So make it enjoyable. I was always excited to catch up on my shows during pumping time. I even had a different activity for each pumping session sometimes. Sometimes I was reading books to my older while feeding my younger and pumping. The point is, make it a place you actually WANT to spend time.

6: Pumping Is Hard…. But NOT Impossible

I was beyond lucky to have an amazing friend who doubled as a Lactation Consultant. So I was able to text her pretty much on the daily to talk to her. I really had to take a guilt free month to month approach on this. With my son I was only able to pump for a month because of I had to have my gallbladder out. (That’s another story for another day!) But my daughter I wanted to go as long as I could. There were days I was fine, and there were days that I was overwhelmed over it. I had a newborn and a four year old and a fairly active life! So I wasn’t going to allow myself to feel guilt should I decide to stop. Having that approach allowed me to last as long as I did (5.5 months). It allowed me to look at it at face value. I was overwhelmed, but every time I looked in the fridge (and our bank account) I felt a sense of great accomplishment! I knew that I was providing the best for my baby and I was helping myself and my family in the long run! That was worth every hard day for me.

7: No Guilt!!

I think as pumpers we can feel like we’re failures as mommy’s because we’re missing out on the connection aspect of breast feeding. But I disagree. If you’re a pumping mom, you’re a hero! That’s A LOT of hard work to ensure your baby gets that awesome breast milk! Don’t ever feel like you’re less of a breast feeding mommy, or less of a mommy in general because of that!

8: Perks

There are perks for pumping!! You still burn 500 calories a day with pumping which is pretty worth it alone! This is why keeping snacks around is helpful.  You also get the same benefits of your body being pulled back together. Not to mention your baby is getting all those nutrients and perks that breast milk has to offer!

Here’s the deal, like I said, fed is best. Making sure your baby is healthy is best. No matter what your decision, you’re a good mommy. But because I’m speaking to the pumping crowd… Pumping is hard. It’s a lot of sacrifice. But if that’s the path you’re deciding to go down, do so with pride! And certainly an open mind! Whether you pump for a month, or a year. You did good! Whether you’re ready to chuck your pump off of a bridge, or you’re having a pretty chill day with it. You’re doing great! Whether you’re approaching your due date and not really sure which path you want to go down yet, just know that pumping is always an option if breast milk is your heart’s desire! Recruit your spouse to help! A perk with pumping is that they can now help with feedings. Be open and honest about how you feel. I found the days that I had melt downs with my husband were the days that I then realized “Hm… It’s really not that bad. I think I can definitely keep going with this.” Surround yourself with people who are supportive of your decision. There are days you sometimes need to hear a “You can do this!” and some days you just need a listening ear. I’d say this is true with anything in parenting. But most importanly, I’ll say it one last time, no guilt. 🙂

Okay so this really wasn’t a story, more of a what you need to know. But hopefully it was helpful none the less!

Until next time!

-VM

 

 

Avocado…. Cookies?

So, after an incredibly crazy last three weeks, I’m finally able to get my crap together and create another blog post! I wanted to post a long story about the meaning of life and all the lessons I’ve learned over the last three weeks. Honestly the thought exhausted me. So that will have to be for another time. Between holidays, holiday travel, volunteering, a death in the family, a new job, and of course just being parents, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. It’s been emotionally, mentally, and even physically draining. To the point where I don’t think my brain even properly works. Like… I forgot how to spell ‘what’ the other day. I mean in my defense it’s a weird word. Especially when you keep repeating it to yourself. But still… The struggle is real.

When I got home the last thing I wanted to do was analyze life in it’s entirety. I wanted comfort. And my comfort comes from brownies or cookies. Chocolate cookies. Trying to eat healthier certainly doesn’t make that a guilt free indulgence though. So I went on a pinterest hunt for “healthy” cookies. What did I find? Avocado cookies… Yup. Avocado cookies.

I was skeptical. I mean I LOVE avocados… but in a cookie? Cookies are supposed to be buttery, chewy, or dense. Not… avocado-y. But, I was desperate, so I went for it anyways. I mean… why not?

Ingredients: 

1 Avocado (You need a SUPER ripe one. The mushier the better) 

1 Egg 

1/2 Cup Organic Sugar (Or sugar in the Raw) 

1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips (Dark Chocolate) 


avacado

1.Cut and pit avocado. Scoop out into a bowl.

2.Add egg.

3.Using hand mixer (you will need the extra power to get it smooth), blend together until smooth.


4. Add sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and mix well.

5. Add mini chocolate chips and fold into the batter.

6.Preheat oven to 350.

7. Grease baking sheet with either butter or a spray on oil.

8.Using two spoons, scoop a nice rounded spoonful onto the baking sheet and flatten slightly as the cookies won’t spread out nearly as much as a regular cookie.

9.Bake for 8-10 minutes. (10 seems to be the magic number for me.)

10.Let them cool for about 5 minutes before taking off of baking sheet. They will mush together otherwise.


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11. Enjoy with a nice cold glass of milk!

The verdict? They are chewy, dense, and yet somehow fluffy. Definitely rich due to the chocolate content. Honestly, if I didn’t see myself scoop the avocado out, I’d have no idea it was in there. My husband and four year old definitely didn’t taste it! My son even went on about how much he hated avocados as he chowed down on one. That is always a Mommy win. 🙂  Let me know what you think! And enjoy a batch of these (almost) guilt free yummies!

Until next time ladies and gents….

-VM

Thankful Tree

imageWith November ushering in Thanksgiving, this is a perfect way to start your month with your kids. This craft is interactive, colorful, and opens up dinner conversation for the family.

With each passing day you are forced to think of something different that you are thankful for. Something all of us could do a lot more of. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around you have a whole tree to read over to remind everyone of your thankful thoughts. It’s also a super quick craft only taking about 10-15 minutes to do depending on how much of a perfectionist you want to be.

What you need:

Construction Paper:

-Brown (6)

-Red (4)

-Orange (4)

-Yellow (4)

Tape

Double Sided Tape (or something to mount the tree on the wall)

Marker

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Materials for project.

 

 

 

1. Take all of the brown pieces and lay them out to slightly resemble a tree. One piece per branch, and about three pieces vertically for the trunk. Make sure the edges overlap about an inch.

2. Tape the inner edges as much as possible. You don’t have to cover it all, just most. (Refer to pic)

3. Flip the taped papers over so that the tape is now face down. Draw out the tree on the contraction paper using the marker.

4. Cut tree out. (I took this opportunity to fix some branches I didn’t really like.)

5. Flip tree over again so that tape is face up. Use double sided tape and place in appropriate places to insure tree will stick firmly to wall without flipping around.

 

6. Hang tree up and embellish with some details. I also labeled mine “the thankful tree” and added some bark lines. Not perfect, but I thought pretty cute none the less.

7. Using the colored paper, cut out 24 leaves of each color. I used a color per person but you are more than welcome to your own creative thoughts. 🙂 Place leaves in basket with a pen.

8. Every night at dinner time write down what you’re thankful for on a leaf and pin to tree. When Thanksgiving comes, read all the leaves to remind yourselves all the good things you have to be thankful for.

I hope you all have fun with it! Feel free to send me pics.

 

until next time…

-VM

TCO3: Bloodline

So I have been doing cooking and crafts, (which I will be back to the norm later this week!) but this blog is also intended on family as a whole which also includes entertainment. One of my favorite pass times as a kid (and to this day) is curling up with a good book before bed time. I remember when I was in high school I would have three to four books going at a time. That little stack was my get away from normal day to day stresses and let downs. Those books helped groom me and opened my eyes to what I could be later in my life.

With that being said, I don’t find many other things better for a child or an adult than a book. So this particular blog is a Q&A with the author of The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline. I have the special priveledge of knowing this woman very well, and I’m thankful that she has provided another book that is clean, yet interesting, for me to read with my kids when they’re a little older. I wanted to also help encourage other mothers, (and of course ladies in general) that just because you’ve had children doesn’t mean you have to put your dreams on hold! So here is my interview with the lovely, creative, and talented Tabitha Caplinger!


Where’d you get the idea to do a trilogy instead of one book?

So many YA books run in a series, and I am so very new to the publishing world, that I kind of assumed that was what people wanted, especially in this genre. (paranormal/urban fantasy). The Chronicle of the Three was always in three parts in my head too. (Chronicle of the three, three books, it just felt right.) Honestly, it was like I was visualizing the books like seasons of a tv show, or movies. I am a self proclaimed TV addict, a huge one, so my imagination works in terms of tv. I like the emotion and tension that comes with a cliffhanger. Well, I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love it as a writer and hate it as a reader and tv watcher. But you can’t deny that it keeps you wanting more. I wanted to have that tension in the books, leaving the reader with questions so they will want to come back for more.

Did you have any goals for this collection when you wrote it — to get published, or just to finish, etc.?

At the very beginning I pumped out five chapters and then didn’t touch it for a few months. It seemed like a very large and lofty goal to write a book. So at first it was definitely just to finish the first book. As I got some beta readers who were liking the story and wanting more I was able to keep motivated on that goal and as I closed in on the end of the first book, The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline, it became to get published. I liked my story (I think its super important for an author to enjoy their own story) but other people enjoying it was also a huge confidence boost, giving me the courage to put it out there into the world. Now I want to get the third book finished, wrapping up this trilogy, because I have ideas for the next thing that have me as excited as this story did.

You have a family. What does it look like balancing motherhood, marriage, and writing?

Most days it looks like a hot mess. Balancing anything in life is difficult. There is always one area that is screaming for our time and attention a little louder than the others. The problem comes when the thing that is screaming is the loudest but not the most important. For me keeping balance is all about intentionality. I set certain days aside for ministry work, certain days for writing. I work best in the mornings so I get the most important things done first and save the lazier afternoons for other stuff. I also have certain rituals and traditions with my kids and husband that keep time with them sacred. For instance my oldest daughter and I have movie dates curled up on the couch every weekend when she doesn’t have to comply with a bedtime. My husband and I take fridays when he is off to spend time together. I’ve also learned to push mute on the screaming things when possible, like usually the vacuuming and laundry can wait even though I hate seeing the dog hair and piles of dirty clothes in the morning I am intentional about saving them for the afternoons or evenings when my brain can no longer form the words to make the books.

You are also a youth pastor so you are constantly bombarded by teens and young adults. Did this have any effect on your writing?

I think it is was motivated me to write YA. I spend so much of my time speaking to teens and college students that it only felt natural to gear my writing toward them as well. While a lot of adults have enjoyed my book as well, my heart was really to offer something to those teens that had a message of hope and love, that reminded them that they have purpose.

Tell us about the main character Claire. What was your inspiration behind her?

I probably shouldn’t admit this but Claire was never supposed to be a main character. Zoe was supposed to be center stage but Claire kept stealing the spotlight. It was kind of breaking a YA rule because the YA isn’t the character getting all the attention but I couldn’t help it. I really like Claire. I want to be her. While there is a little piece of me in all of the characters (especially since this is my first book) Claire is the one I most relate to, the one I want to be like. She’s fierce and sassy and brave. I want to be those things.

I want to be Zoe too. Not back in high school, but kind and encouraging, able to face my fears.

I say all that and it really doesn’t answer the question. But there wasn’t a specific inspiration. You could look at my pinterest boards and see who I think should play them in the movie but as far as writing them, it was just who I wish I was in high school, who I want to be now, characters I think people can relate to and want to root for. 

So there are two main characters then? (Sort of) Was it important that you had characters all ages could connect with?

I think for me it was partly having multiple ages to connect with and part a sense of realism, the feeling that even though it’s a young adult book, there needed to be an adult voice helping guide.

Is there a message that you’re hoping readers will get out of the books?

Yes, and I wasn’t even really subtle with it. Well, I was subtle in the story itself but then I went and typed it in black and white on the dedication page. I want readers to know that they are chosen, powerful, loved and never alone. All of have purpose and it may not be to fight real demons but it is to better this world by helping others. I hope that people will see they have purpose and fight for it. 

When can we expect book number 2?

I have been working overtime with my editor to get it ready. Right now it is scheduled to release the beginning of February 2017. That seems so far away but I am really excited about the second book and more details about it will be coming out in November when we reveal the cover. 

What advice would you give to mothers out there just starting their writing careers?

Be intentional. Nothing just happens. You won’t have time for writing, or anything else in life, if you don’t first make the time for it. Have a plan, set realistic goals to get you motivated and then be flexible with yourself if a kid home from school sick means that blog post or chapter has to wait a day. And don’t quit. Success takes time so don’t give up.


tabitha
Tabitha and one of her biggest fans, Lila.

Another reason for posting this today, is that tomorrow she is releasing a preview of the cover to the second book! The Chronicle of the Three: Armor-Bearer! You can purchase her book Bloodline on Amazon and on your Kindles (0.99).  Enter the giveaway with this link. http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f32920341/?

You can connect with her through these routes:

Email: elevategirlsusa@gmail.com

Facebook: Tabitha Caplinger

Twitter: @tab_caplinger

Visit Tabitha Caplinger on Goodreads

Instagram: @tab_caplinger

Tumblr: Tabitha Caplinger

About The Chronicle of the Three:

Bloodline Zoe thought the loss of her parents would be the most difficult thing she’d ever have to endure. When she began seeing things she couldn’t explain in her new home of Torchcreek, Virginia, she was sure the grief was driving her mad. Instead Zoe discovers she is part of an ancient bloodline, one destined to defeat the powers of darkness from condemning the world. But Zoe, the daughter of the three, isn’t just another descendant, but the key to humanity’s salvation. In this first installment of the paranormal fantasy trilogy The Chronicle of the Three, Zoe Andrews learns that not all shadows are harmless interceptions of light. Some are a more sinister darkness that wants to torment the soul.

book-cover

I hope you enjoyed our Q&A! Purchase a book! Let her know what you think!

Until next time….

-VM

Spiders and Ghosties!

Who loves procrastination? You? How about you? No? Well unfortunately here lately I really do. Something to do with the weather cooling down, chasing kiddos all day, and a dog that has more energy than a pack of batteries. (Or it’s laziness… but we’ll stick to the former…)

So! In light of this fact, I have perfected quick, cheap, felt crafts. And if you follow my blog, (You’re super awesome and thank you!)  you will see many more with the holidays to come. This particular one costs maybe 6 bucks to make and that’s if you don’t have glue and everything on hand.

The materials you will need include: 

Black Felt

White Felt 

Googly eyes (small) 

Pipe Cleaners (any color) 

Yarn 

Fabric Glue


1.Take yarn and create a “spider web” on a stair railing or anything equivelant. You can do this by simply weaving the yarn in and out of the rails and pulling it in all different directions. There’s really no rhyme or reason.

2.Draw out ghosts on white felt, I used a blue permanent marker to make them more “ghost like”.

3. Draw out spiders, ghost mouths, and ghost eyes on black felt.

4.Cut out.


Spiders:

  1. Take spider cut out and create four holes on each side of the spiders torso. (A hole punch would be super handy for this. I only had scissors so it was slightly more time consuming.)
  2. Take two pipe cleaners of your color of choice and cut in half. This will give you four small pipe cleaners.
  3. Insert pipe cleaners in designated holes, one at a time. (See picture above.) Bend them to make them look more leg like.

Take googly eyes and glue right above the fangs. You can do as many as you’d like. Some of mine have three, four, and so on. Done!


Ghosts:

1. Glue eyes and mouth to the top of the ghost cut out.

2. Cut one pipe cleaner into six small pieces. (I made six ghosts. if you have less or more, simply adjust.

3. Bend the top of the small pipe cleaner to make it resemble a hook.

4. Glue to the back of the ghost right at the neck. Done!


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Have fun letting the littles hang them up on the web! It’s super fun and cute. My son moves them around almost every day so it’s even interactive to a point which is always a win. I hope you enjoy the craft and hope you all have a very safe and fun Halloween!

 

Until next time.

-VM

Chili Done Right

Whenever my brother and I are together, this is one my favorite things that he makes. With temperatures finally starting to cool down and it still being the heart of football season, I found this to be an appropriate recipe to share. It has a crap ton of delicious ingredients, and makes enough to literally feed an army. So it’s perfect for any Fall parties or get togethers. It’s my brother’s chili.

Ingredient list: 

1-Tomato paste (6 oz ) 

3-Dark Red Kidney Beans (16 oz)

3-Light Red Kidney Beans (16 oz)

2-Pinto Beans (16 oz)

2-Black Beans (16 oz)

1- Tomato Puree (26 oz)

1- Crushed Tomatoes (26 oz)  

1- Diced Tomatoes (26 oz) 

3- Bottles of Tomato Juice (64 oz) 

Franks Hotsauce (1 tbspn) 

2- Packets taco seasoning

2- Packets chili seasoning 

Chili Powder (3 tbspns) 

Garlic Powder (3 tbspns) 

2- Penne Pasta Box 

Baby Bellas sliced (8 oz) 

Onion diced (1 small) 

Turkey Burger (2lbs) 

Italian Sausage Mild (1 lb) 

Jalepeno 

Samuel Adams (16 oz) 

Olive Oil (1 tbspn)

(Phew!)


1. Grab large skillet (a deep one would be best) and add olive oil. Turn on to medium heat and allow oil to heat for about a minute or two.

2. While wating for oil, dice mushroom and onion.


chili-3

3. Add onion, mushrooms, garlic, and chili powder to pan. Saute until both have softened and the flavors have married a bit.


4. In a large pot or roaster (which is what was used in our case) add diced, crushed, puree’d tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato juices. Mix well.

5. Cut a slit into the jalepeno and place in tomato mixture.

6. Add cooked onion and mushroom to tomato mixture and all canned beans. Let sit for about 10 – 15 minutes for flavors to marry.


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7. While waiting on the tomato mixture, in the same skillet you cooked the onion and mushroom, brown the italian sausage and turkey burger.

8. By the time they are thoroughly cooked, your 10-15 should be close to up. Add meat to the pot.


9. Add chili and taco seasoning to the pot. Stir well.

10. Add beer and hot sauce. Stir well.

11. Allow to sit for at least an hour, but the longer the better as the flavors will continue to grow richer with time. 20 minutes before serving, in another pot, add water and boil both boxes of penne pasta. (At this time you can remove the jalepeno.)


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Serve with cheese and sour cream or simply by itself!

 

This recipe seems a lot more daunting than it really is. The biggest chore is getting the ingredients and opening the cans. And I promise the time you put into it is soooo worth it. It’s dark and rich in flavor, full of protien, and has a nice balance of texture! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! Let me know what you think.

Until next time…

-VM

Bran Mug Muffin

This Mug Muffin has become a staple in our household. Not only is it super quick to whip up, it’s super fast to make! You make the batter ahead of time, (it makes a lot so you’ll need a fairly large container) and it’s good in the fridge for up to three weeks! It never lasts this long with us, but it’s always good to know that you don’t have to eat a muffin every day to save the batter!

What a LOVE about this recipe isn’t just the convenience of it, it’s also the versatility. The batter is good cooked by itself, but can be a little bland. SO, when you add the batter to the mug you add whatever you want to it and it’s that muffin. I’ve done blueberry, blackberry, straberry, banana and brown sugar, and banana chocolate chip. You could do orange, lemon poppy seed, bacon maple… again the concoctions are endless!

Another thing I love about this is that my son loves it. He eats it with pretty much anything and thinks it’s a major indulgence for him. He has even called it a cupcake in the morning. (Whatever works!)

So! Onto the ingredient list:

What You’ll Need:

Bran Cereal (2 cups)

All Bran Cereal (2 cups) (You can also use oatmeal or whole wheat flour)

Buttermilk (2 cups)

Eggs (2)

Sugar (1 1/2 cups)

Flour (2 1/2 cups)

Boiling Water (2 Cups)

Shortening (1/2 cup)

Baking Soda ( 1 1/2 tspn)

Salt (3/4 tspn)

A Mug

Whatever Additives You Will Use


1.Mix bran cereal with all bran cereal. (I didn’t have All Bran, so I used whole wheat flour and it worked just fine! You can also use oatmeal.)

2.Add boiling water, mix, and let cool.


(While bran mix is cooling)

3.In a seperate bowl, mix together shortening, sugar, and eggs. Add eggs one at a time. Mix well.

4. In another bowl, this one should be the largest bowl you have, (so you will have three bowls altogether.) mix together flour, baking soda and salt.


5. By now the bran mix should be cooled to about a room temperature. Go ahead and add buttermilk and mix well.

6. Add sugar,egg, and shortening mixture to bran mix and mix well.

7. Add all wet ingredients to the flour mixture bowl and mix well. There will be lumps, so don’t worry about mixing until smooth.


8. Add batter into a large container.

Now the fun part!

  1. Grab a mug.
  2. Fill mug halfway (no more or it will make a mess!) with batter.
  3. Add toppings.
  4. Microwave for 1 min at a time until the muffin is done. (No raw batter.)
  5. Enjoy!!

Have fun with it! Let me know if you try anything really crazy with the batter! Until next time.

-VM