Thursday, February 28, 2008

Date night

We had a chance to go to dinner and a movie tonight. I even got to go to the gym before hand! Pancakes at Perkins, Enchanted at the theater, and lots of time to talk in the car while I drove slowly on the snow covered roads made for an eventful Thursday. We didn't walk in the door until almost 10pm. The kids were exhausted from all that activity and went straight to bed. That's where I'm headed too after I say another prayer for Brian who has to plow all night.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lucky Ducks

"We didn't have that sort of thing when I was growing up." How many of us have said that before as we watch our kids soak up the activities that are available for them these days? Now I just live vicariously through my kids since I doubt I'd fit on the duck with Julia.

My Crew

Ducks in a row...well, dragon, whales, and elephants too. :)
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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Today would have been my dad's 61st birthday

This photo was taken during his grade school years. It is a blessing to have all these old photographs of my father so I can share them with Sam and Julia.

It was fun to spend this particular afternoon with my younger sisters. We never do anything just the three of us and have decided that needs to change. We saw a performance of Beauty & the Beast which was rather fitting since we all loved Disney movies as kids.

Happy Birthday Dad from your girls.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Are you there God? It's me, Sam.

Ask me what baby items I couldn't live without and I'd say my Kangaroo Korner baby slings and my video monitors. We all sleep on the same level of our home, but I still keep Julia's monitor turned up and close by the bed so I can hear and see her breathing at night. Sam is 3 so I haven't had a monitor hooked up in his room for a while now, but that changed a few weeks ago when I got sick of him yelling for me to come get him out of his crib when he'd wake up. I solved that problem by setting his video monitor up again and explaining that all he had to do was say quietly, "Mommy, I'm awake" and I'd come up and get him. He caught on quickly and he's no longer waking his sister. I still remind him when we are getting ready for bed just in case.

Saying our prayers is something else we do at bedtime. Sam says the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep prayer and then we add what we are thankful for at the end. Tonight as Sam lay curled up on my lap I stroked his hair and shared with Sam that he doesn't have to wait until bedtime to talk to Jesus. "You can talk to Him any time you want. He'll always hear you," I explained.

"On the monitor?" he asked. I guess I can let up on the reminders now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


That's how I felt today when the carbon monoxide detector went off again. The last time
I had the car so I could pack up and leave the house. Not this time. So there I was in my lounge wear, two kids in their jammies, and a dog freaking out because of the noise. Did I mention that the temperature is still below zero here? I grabbed my recipe from the furnace company and called the service department. Just in case my panicky voice didn't make it pretty obvious to the receptionist I made sure to repeat to her, "Please make sure you tell the service man that the detector is going off, I have two small children, and I have no way of leaving the house. Have him call me right away please."

I couldn't just sit there waiting by the phone so I turned the furnace off, bundled the kids in hats and scarves, and called the fire department. Ten minutes later a police officer was at our door to offer us a warm car to sit in while we waited for the fireman to check out the house. We were still getting boots on when the fireman arrived so we never did sit in the cruiser. Sam was pretty shaken up about the "air catecter" going off, but once I removed the battery and put some clothes on him, he calmed down.

The little meter thing they use to check the CO2 levels didn't find any CO2 anywhere in the house. What a relief. So why was the detector going off? The detector we have is not the type you plug into the wall nor does it give a digital read out. Both of these features are recommended by the fire department. As I understand it the battery kind have this little card that serves as a memory for the detector. It reads little bits of CO2 and stores it on the card. Over time that card fills up and will set off the alarm. I'd call that a poor design, but what do I know. I'm not 100% sure what the deal was with our oven then, but until I get a digital detector I'm not going to risk turning it on. We're doing quite well with a hot plate.

For the record: The furnace company's repairman did return my call....three hours later. He said that office lady hadn't relayed the message correctly.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Now that's what I call a punch line.

"Daddy I'm hungry. I want something good. Not dinner."

Wordless Wednesday

I spent 30 minutes picking these tiny pieces of "dirt" off the carpet today after the kids decided it would be fun to see how far (and how fast) they could throw as much as possible before I put an end to that little game.

This is an old photo from last year, but we're still using this same "dirt" to beat the winter blah's.
Some of the soybeans have been dropped down the heat register, others are out of reach behind the couch, I'm sure still more are tucked behind the entertainment center.... and that's where they'll stay until we move.
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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

So that's why I got one of the best parking spots at the mall today

Because it was only one degree outside, which for the record, was 12 degrees warmer than when we left the house this morning with zero notice at 6:45am after getting a call from Brian's coworker who usually picks him up saying that his car wouldn't start. As I was saying, it was COLD out so I was thrilled to find a spot super close to the Underwater Adventures entrance of the Mall of America. We spent a couple hours having our own underwater adventure (Thanks a million Rena!) and some bonus time at the Barnes&Noble train table before dashing through the stinging cold to the van. It was then that I saw that I had mistakenly parked in a handicap spot where the fine is $200 for parking there without a pass. Ouch. My stomach was in knots until my quick scan of the windshield did not yield a ticket secured with my broken windshield wiper. ticket. Phew. It was an honest mistake after all. I mean really - who could enjoy a trip to the mall if they were taking such a stupid risk? I had pulled into the spot from the other aisle where you couldn't see the sign hanging from the ceiling and with all the white stuff on the cement everywhere from it being winter, there was no sign of the telltale wheelchair logo.

It appears that the mall was making amends for ruining this past Saturday. I guess not having to fork over $200 makes up for the 30 minutes it took to drive 1 1/2 blocks, the roads closed with no explanation or alternative options, the three hour wait for a dinner reservation, the insane amount of people with their heads in the clouds who were always blocking our get the idea.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Turns out I had the dirtiest computer the repairman had ever seen. My CD writer wasn't broken, but merely filthy beyond belief. My computer was also bogged down by another dirt of sorts and was in desperate need of de-frigging. News to me. I don't even know what that means so obviously I didn't know to perform that task on a regular basis. If you know what I'm talking about, then the fact that it took ten hours to defrig my computer might tell you something.
So what did I do while I was without a computer for three whole days? Nothing real exciting, but I will say that time didn't evaporate like it does when I sit at the computer at night or during nap time. Brian and I watched movies together, Sam and I snuggled in bed one afternoon, we all went sledding, we made the horrid mistake of going to the Mall of America on President's Day weekend, we went to church, I read two books, we had tickle fights, we played play-doh, Brian and I each had time out of the house by ourselves.... it was a good three days.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss my computer, but I didn't miss it as much as I thought I would. I'll have to make my rounds to visit blogs in the morning when I get up at 6am (yes I am still trying to do that most mornings). Now of course the kids will be up at 5:30. I'm banking on the fact that the countless laps they took around the house today either on the toy bus or at a full sprint will keep them sleeping soundly until at least seven. A mom can dream right?

Friday, February 15, 2008

speak now or forever until Monday hold your peace

I'm dropping my computer off at my mom's this evening so her friend can take a look at it. I've been unable to burn CD's for a while now, but have been limping along by using my flash drives instead. That method is getting to be too much of a hassle and is eating into my profits since I have to pay to put images onto a CD instead of doing it in the comfort of my home. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll have it back by Monday evening, but you never know.
I feel like I'm cramming for a test this afternoon as I scramble to get all my wedding photography research completed, order prints for a client, print off schedules and phone numbers for things to do next week....
I'm finally feeling like myself today and hopefully the kids will be back to normal by tomorrow. It was a long week to say the least! Thanks again for all your prayers. Have a wonderful weekend everyone and I'll be sure to check in with you all when my life-line has been restored. :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008


With all that's going on in our house right now a romantic Valentine's is out of the question. (Thanks for the babysitting offer though, Sharon.) 8+ years into our relationship Brian and I still try to not leave it to only the Hallmark-ish holidays to express our love for each other so it's really not that big of a deal that we couldn't do anything special. Two years ago we spent Valentine's Day in the hospital while I received IV fluids because of terrible morning sickness, but that's a whole other post...

Today Brian showed his love for me by leaving me a note before he left for work. The words were simple..that he would be thinking of me.
When he came home from work at 10am I showed my love by continuing to care for our sick kids so he could get some rest, despite still feeling nauseas myself. When he got up he proceeded to clean up some of the mess in the house without making me feel bad for letting it get so out of control. Then he let me crawl into bed and relax for a couple hours this evening while he tamed the troops.
It's the little things that I love so much.

...and because I already had this saved from an anniversary post I thought I'd follow the crowd and share our love story here as well.

originally written on May 27th, 2007
It's been six wonderful years since we stood before God, our family, and our friends to recite our wedding vows to each other. When I think about how much I love Brian today, and then think back to our wedding day, I can't believe how much we've grown in our love for one another. I have always wanted to put our love story in writing so our children can read about how much their mom and dad trusted in the Lord to work things out for His glory. So read along if you'd like.....
Most stories begin with how a couple meet. Ours begins two months earlier in two different countries. Studying in Vienna, I was two hours away from leaving on a train for Paris when I got a phone call from the States. It was a woman named Carol Maass from Voyageurs National Park. It turns out that an application I'd filled out for an internship had been accepted. This was an unpaid position so I couldn't say yes without first talking to my mom about the financial aspect of it. I told Carol I was very interested, but would need to call her back. I quickly gathered up enough change to call home and explained the situation to my mom. I really needed to get to the train station so rather than put my mom on the spot I told her to think about it, call Carol when she'd made up her mind, and that I'd call home when I returned from my trip in 10 days. Who knew my entire future was tied to that decision. God knew and that is what is so amazing about it. He knew that by my mom accepting the internship on my behalf I was destined to meet my future husband. Meanwhile, Brian and his friend, Troy, were backpacking across Europe. They visited many of the same places I did and even rode on a train with classmates of mine. (They were talking loud enough that Brian learned they were students studying in Vienna. After the fact, we put two and two together and it had to be my classmates traveling to Barcelona.)

When Brian returned home to Minnesota he packed up his belongings and started his second season at Voyageurs National Park. He'd been offered a position At North Cascades, but he decided to take the position at Voyageurs instead. On June 1st, 1998 - the day we met - we both stood with the rest of the volunteers, rangers, and staff who had assembled for seasonal training in the Lake Kabetogama Visitor Center. I remember Brian as the guy wearing an ugly baseball cap and tattered flannel shirt. On the tour boat, seated kitty-corner behind me, he dined on muffins made by his girlfriend, Sara. It was a summer to remember. I made lifelong friends and learned a lot about myself. There is something about living in a cabin in the woods surrounded by God's beautiful creation that brings me close to my Savior. The way the schedule worked out - Brian and I often spent our workdays at the same visitor center. When you spend nine hours a day with someone, you really get to know them. It was Brian who shared the same days off as I did, and it was Brian who helped me with my new puppy, Conor. We talked about our faith and past relationships. That summer I read the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Years later Brian says he still remembers me telling him about the guy I was hung up on at the time. "He's worth waiting for." and "I'd move to Montana for him." What I remember from our conversations about dating was that I knew that until I had my life figured out, I wasn't going to be messing up someone elses. I was focusing on my relationship with the Lord and letting Him take care of the husband finding. God has quite the sense of humor! My future husband was right in front of me the whole time!

Soon, it was almost September and I returned to Illinois for my final year of college, but not before a tearful goodbye. He had stuck a card in my glove box and told me to read it when I got home. I, of course, only waited until I got 1/2 mile down the road and was so touched by his words that I turned my car around and raced back to give him the hug I should have given him the first time I said goodbye. We kept in touch while I was in college. He even drove 5 hours to visit me once. We exchanged letters for the next eight months until we both returned to Voyageurs the following spring. (I got paid this time) It was a perfect summer. The staff that year gelled and we all became friends. We enjoyed our jobs, hung out after work - all while living in a beautiful National Park. Others would probably say that it was obvious that Brian was interested in me, but I didn't notice. Sure, I noticed how great he was and often wrote my friends saying, "He'll make a wonderful husband for someone, but not me."
Even our boss noticed and changed the schedule so we wouldn't have the same days off anymore. His theory was that if it didn't work out we wouldn't have to work together as often. (We have a running joke that we got married just to spite that silly man.) We often sat up late after watching a movie, talking about anything and everything.
It was during a conversation after a movie on August 23rd that things changed forever. I don't remember the details, but I do remember hearing the words, "I love you." My reply was anything but romantic and we both ended up in tears because I didn't feel the same way about him. It was an awkward and horrible week until I could finally be honest with myself and admit I had feelings for him too. August 30th, 1999 we shared our first kiss (initiated by me - I mean I shot the poor guy down just a week earlier. ) My job at Voyageurs was suppose to wrap up that very day, but two weeks earlier, I had been asked to stay until the end of September. That extension gave us 4 wonderful weeks together. We studied the Bible by the fire in a 1930's cabin, we soaked up the beauty of the Northwoods in autumn, and we tried to forget that our idyllic lifestyle was about to end. I didn't have a job to go home to so I decided to tour as many state parks as I could before the weather turned cold. My original plan was to make it a solo journey, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to spend as much time with Brian as I could. So on October 1st we packed up my Chevy Malibu and made a whirlwind trip around the state to check out 16 parks. We spent two of the nights camping with Brian's family and their friends (a tradition we still continue 8 years later).

We had yet another tearful goodbye on October 14th before I returned home to Wisconsin. Brian made the 5 hour drive to visit a few times, but mostly we talked on the phone and sent letters. One of the many things I love about Brian is his sense of humor. He was always saying or writing things that made me laugh.
Brian's brother, Gary, was getting married December 3rd that year and I was invited to come along - to Alaska. Who would have thought Alaska in December could be so beautiful! Brian made a comment the night of Gary and Laura's wedding about how he would go about planning his own wedding, and without thinking I replied, "Not if I have anything to do with it." One week later, while visiting me at the Mall I worked in, Brian wandered into a jewelry store to price some engagement rings. The pushy sales lady managed to talk him into buying a ring on the spot. There are two very significant things about when and where he bought my ring. One - without knowing it, he bought the exact ring I wanted (I'd been admiring it on my way to my job at Eddie Bauer, 4 stores down from the jewelers). Two - I hadn't even told him I loved him yet. I was planning to that VERY NIGHT. Talk about a leap of faith! Just goes to show that God's timing is perfect.

We attended my church Christmas program that night (Dec. 10th) and later, while sitting by the fire I presented him with a tiny box that contained my gift - or at least a letter that explained my gift.

Dear Brian,
There are so many things I wanted to get you for Christmas, but you know I can't afford to spend very much. I wish I could spoil you like you spoiled me with my winter coat. So instead of something from your Christmas List, I'm giving you something else you wanted. My gift to you is all my love.
Merry Christmas!

Things were beginning to fall into place for us. I would be moving to Minnesota to live with my Aunt and Uncle who had a baby girl nine days before Christmas. (I would spend the next 5 years as Elsie's nanny.) At this point I was still in WI with my mom and sisters. To spend Christmas with the family we braved blizzard conditions to make it to Minnesota. We were suppose to arrive at my Grandparent's home by mid-day on the 23rd so I'd have enough time to have dinner with Brian , but that didn't work out. Instead Brian came over in the morning of the 24th and we went for a drive. The front seat of his, Chevy Lumina wasn't the ideal place to exchange Christmas gifts, but we didn't care. He opened my gift and then he brought out a photo album that he wanted to show me. Being a picture lover, I thought it was sweet of him to want to show me pictures of his childhood, his family, and one of us taken at a wedding reception in September. Then he asked me to close my eyes and I played along. When I opened them and saw a ring, I blurted out YES!! I didn't even give him a chance to pop the question first. :) If I'd have given him a chance to, he was planning to say, "The pictures in this album represent the first 27 years of my life. So while I can't give you the first 27 years, I'd like to give you the rest. Will you marry me?"
Pretty sweet don't ya think?
If anyone is doing the math, yes, we hadn't even been dating for 4 months when we got engaged. When you are going to marry your best friend time doesn't matter. We'd been friends for over a year and planned a long engagement. We waited 17 months before I walked down the aisle to meet the man of my dreams at the alter. Brian was going to make a great husband someday. Only the Lord could orchestrate a coming together of two people who are so right for each other. We don't have a perfect marriage by any means, but we work at it every day. It is my prayer that our children will find spouses someday that are as loving, generous, forgiving, and romantic as their father.

We saved a spot just for you!

Happy Valentine's Day!

This is what the kid's Valentines look like this year (with a cute Walgreens border), but now that we are all sick, I don't recommend stopping by to claim your spot. Sam called for me at 5 this morning and because I was too tired to care I just let him come into our bed. Brian was gone already and I just wanted to get back to sleep asap and avoid waking Julia. Within 30 seconds of being in our bed he started making that telltale vomiting sound. In one swift move I grabbed the bowl next to the bed and got it into position just in the nick of time. That's when I noticed that it wasn't 5am, but barely midnight. If I had seen the clock correctly I would have been changing Sam's sheets instead of rinsing out a bowl. I wouldn't have let him come in our room that early, but obviously I'm glad I did. Julia slept straight through the night again (even though she'd soaked through her jammies and sleepsack) so I was able to get some decent sleep - as decent as it can be with two feet in the small of my back. Somehow Sam turned sideways on our bed. My biggest concerns today include: how Brian will get any sleep when he returns from a night of plowing, how to keep us hydrated now that our symptoms include diarrhea, how to keep my milk supply up when I can't eat much, and how to survive in a house that is getting messier by the second. I guess I'll just look on the bright side - I won't gain extra weight today since I can't eat chocolate.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

thank you

Before we all turn in for the night I wanted to say thank you to everyone who's sent well wishes the past couple of days. The vomiting has ceased but the nausea remains for Brian and I. Sam hasn't shown any symptoms...yet. We pray he never does and that the rest of us get our strength back soon. We're expecting 2-4 inches of snow tonight and Brian has already set the alarm for 1am so he can go in to plow. Goodnight everyone.

I'm not seeing the humor this morning

If you've ever been to a Renaissance Festival there's a chance you saw this duo perform. Years ago I saw them live and enjoyed their humor, but now that I'm experiencing puke & snot in real life....not so funny. Julia's had a cold for a few days that is still lingering but I knew that the wet I felt on her sleeve when I went into her room this morning at 5:20 meant more trouble. (Most people have their nose to keep them from avoiding putting their hands smack dab in the middle of puke, but if ever there was proof that my sense of smell is extremely weak - this was it.) It's looking like there isn't a connection to what happened yesterday. We've already had the stomach flu once this winter and I pray this time will be our last.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Hindsight is like that. The nausea, the dog wanting to go out four times in an hour....
It all added up when we returned home today to find the carbon monoxide detector was going off. There weren't all that many clues, but it still rattled me to know that something so dangerous was seeping into the air we breathe. Thankfully the furnace company was out within a couple hours and was able to determine the source. Looks like I'll have to get really creative in my menu planning with our stove out of commission. Brian and I had each taken a turn sleeping on the couch this week so that's why we were the ones to feel sick being so close to the kitchen. As has become our new routine, I took the kids to the gym for the entire morning so they weren't exposed as much as they would have been if it were any other day of the week. I'm not usually one for public service announcements, but tonight I can't help but highly suggest that everyone make sure they invest in a carbon monoxide detector. I know I'll sleep better tonight knowing my family is safe.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

This little piggy

(and the rest of these tiny toes too) belong to baby Henry, who turned two weeks old today. His parents are friends of ours so it was extra special to photography his family. From head to toe Henry was a precious as can be. I'll post more photos as soon as I finish editing.

I'm was able to post more from my shoot today over at my new photography blog.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Love thy neighbor

During Sunday school a couple weeks ago the kids made muffins and learned about sharing with others. Sam tends to clam up at church when people talk to him, but not this day. He walked carefully into the fellowship hall with his tray of warm muffins and handed them all out. He was so sweet about it.

"Would you like a muffin?" he'd ask.

Stunned, the other members would ask, "I can have one?"
"SURE you can!" Sam exclaimed.
My heart swells with love for this little man and the love he shows for his "neighvors"

...and for the record: He helped with the dishes too. Won't his bride be a lucky gal!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

that doesn't happen every day

  • Both my kids were up before six this morning.
  • I spent almost five hours between two movie theaters.
  • I saw portions of three different movies in the same day.
  • I was bold enough to go up to someone that looked awfully familiar and strike up a conversation to see if in fact I did know her.
  • I do know her - I last saw Pastor Sarah* three or four years ago when I attended my grandma's church on Christmas Eve. She lives 20 minutes from the Community Center, but happened to pick today for her first visit.
  • While picking up a photo order at a local business, there on the counter sat 4x6's of someone I know - Isaac .

* To top it all off, just yesterday I'd been thinking of her and the sermon she shared that Christmas about her broken nativity set from Mexico.

- that doesn't happen every day, but today it did.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Thanks to Sam

I have a picture of what Julia looked like with pink eye.

I also have a picture of which socks Brian and his dad were wearing last Sunday night.

I also have a couple of Brian's sister and his mom, but I love my SIL and MIL too much to post unflattering pictures taken by their favorite 3 year old.

I can post this one of Julia and I (looks like someone's finger was over part of the flash)
and this one of Mommy and Daddy. (Check out those senior pictures on the wall)

I think we're going to have to get Sam his own camera one of these days. He loves taking pictures. Looks like it runs in the family. (My uncle was a photographer and my dad was a wedding photographer when I was a kid.)


Thanks to friends who've taken me up on my free portrait session offer*, I've gotten some more practice and advertising material for my business. It's tough to grow a business without funneling money into advertising so I feel blessed to have had the chance to add to my portfolio and do something for my friends. Thank you Nicole, Kristin and the Coopers!

Click here to see more portraits from this week.

* I would love to include you in my free offer. Get in touch with me to set up a time for a session.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Cheers to you, Julia, on your 16 month birthday!

Another month has slipped by. Actually a whole year has slipped by when you look at these bath pictures from February 22, 2007

My dear sweet JoJo, you are still full of personality. You are starting to put on this silly grin when I ask you to smile for a picture (and sometimes you do it just at the sight of the camera). You've spent the last two weeks fighting a cold and pink eye. You're a tough cookie though and are on the mend. When you had your finger pricked last Friday to check your hemoglobin, you didn't cry. In fact, you didn't even blink or change your expression. Yesterday when a boy stood on your finger you just looked up at him, waiting for him to step away. (I thought for sure he was right next to your hand since you didn't cry out. Sorry baby girl.) At 29 pounds you are in the 90th percentile. Only 5 more pounds to catch your brother! It's been so fun to dress you in tights and put two bows in your hair this month. Your favorite toys are puzzles, backpacks, and pacifiers. At school you can't get enough of the slide or the songs during circle time. It took 15 months for the word 'no' to come out of your mouth and now in the past week it comes out clear as day. You also have started shaking your head 'no'. I'm sure someday I won't think it's cute, but that day hasn't arrived quite yet. You still love story time and are constantly bringing me books to read to you. During car rides you like to dance and be silly with your brother while you listen to music. Now that you're practically running you are joining in on the after dinner laps that Sammy and Daddy take around the house. There's never a dull moment with you around. It's one of the countless things I love about you.
Happy Birthday my sweet angel. Mommy loves you very, very much.

Since it's a birthday post,
I thought I'd through in a picture of her birthday bath.

24 (inches of ice) + 27 (degrees) + 3(generations of fishermen) = 1 (happy little boy)

I haven't been ice fishing in 20 years. My fear of the ice has become so bad that I get sick to my stomach when I see vehicles on frozen lakes. I wasn't going to let my fear keep Sam from experiencing the fun of catching fish through the ice so I sent my camera along and off the boys went to catch some fish.

Brian caught one fish while Sam and Grandpa were out drilling more holes. Things were slow after that so out came the snackies. Sam thought it was fun to push snow into the holes and then scoop it out. He's always doing some sort of job. :)

And then they started biting!

It was THIS big!!!!!

Nothing beats a warm fire - except maybe some father son bonding time.

The boys aren't the only ones who can spin a fish tale - There was no way I was going to miss out on seeing Sammy have such a great time (or let my Rebel XTi out of my site)

School Spirit Beanie Crochet Pattern

Beat those winter blues and cold winds with this a FLEECE lined brimmed hat! It seems like everyone is wearing a beanie these days - me in...