Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Vacation Photos

I love Washington, D.C. There's so much neat stuff to see--so much, that I ran out of room on the memory card in my camera. I didn't have enough space to get any pictures of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, but I have to say that I don't think pictures could do it justice anyway. I forgot what the building is in the picture on the right--my sister told me, but I was too busy admiring it. Sorry I didn't pay closer attention. Isn't is gorgeous?

Ah, The Capitol Building. It's majestic. The lighting is this picture is kind of washed out. My camera is misbehaving, but the sunshine was kind of hazy, too. Anyway, we didn't go into the building--I just admired it from afar. I couldn't believe the number of people swarming toward it or the amount of traffic. My sister and I relied entirely on the Metro, which is much more efficient than the CTA.

The next two are from the World War II Memorial. I was so moved by it--it's a beautiful tribute to the men and women who so proudly served our country during that era. It made me miss my Grandpa, too. He fought in the Pacific during the war. Ironically enough, I didn't know that until my sister told me. It was something that was never discussed, but apparently, my Grandma mentioned it once. Just once. And dear old Grandpa isn't here to answer the hundreds of questions I have running through my head.

These are two shots of the same statue near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also known as "The Wall."

This is a shot of "The Wall." I'm always amazed at the number of people who flock to this memorial. There are so many of them, searching for names of lost loved ones. In fact, my sister and I overheard a man who was scanning through one of the large books and he said quietly, "Well, I guess he made it." Apparently, whoever he was looking for wasn't listed, which he hoped meant he made it home. I got choked up at that point. I know that but for the grace of God, my own father's name could have been on that wall--and I wouldn't be here.

Another statue shot. This memorial statue haunts me. I've seen it a few times and I still get chills. This time around, I also got angry, because there was a tour group and there were kids climbing inside the chains that go around the memorial. One kid was in there with his father. I thought it was rude and disrespectful. I don't get that. I just don't. This is a place to honor those who served this country and people literally walk all over it.

This is from the Korean War Memorial. I didn't see this the last time I was there nine years ago. This memorial is haunting. The wall next to it is a smattering of images carved in granite. From a distance, it look like smudges of paint, but as I got closer, I could see the pictures in the wall. The statues are sort of out of proportion, but the when you look at them head on, they look amazing. I will say that it's very eerie. The air around this memorial seems to reverberate with unseen force--perhaps the souls of lost men.

Last shot--pretty neat, huh? Except the guy standing down at the end refused to move. Ah well.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Painful Return to Reality

So, I've determined that the worst thing about a vacation is coming back to reality and realizing that for better or worse, nothing has changed. There's still laundry to do, papers to be graded, clients to be seen, a kitchen to be painted and floors to mop. My dear hubby did clean our bathroom and put fresh sheets on the bed yesterday, so that's two less things I have to do.

{Insert big sigh here.}

Ah well. The vacation was nice while it lasted. Last night, it was back to the same old, same old. Back to only 3-4 hours of sleep. Back to my snoring sweetheart. Back to my responsibilities. Back to tickling my daughter and smooching all over her sweet face! Most of it is good, don't get me wrong, but I am so tired today. I had the day off--took it off on purpose because of two medical appointments--but I know I have to go back to the daily grind tomorrow. I'm not looking forward to it.

Tonight, I also received a sharp reminder that the past, no matter how far gone it is, has a nasty way of rearing its ugly head and going for the jugular at the most unpredictable moments. I was attempting to grade a videotape project from one of my students and I ended up going back through some of my family's videos. That was when I realized that my daughter's Baptism video had been recorded over with something else that was not even family related. It was a tape from my husband's old job...he (hopefully) accidentally allowed "someone" to record over it. My hands were shaking so hard, I almost dropped the camera. The video from my daughter's Baptism is all I had from that day. The person who we asked to take the pictures never gave them to us, so that video was it.

It's just a "thing." Nothing more than a "thing." I know that. But I'm still sad. Almost crying sad. But I'm okay. Or, I will be. Probably by tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day, right? It's just a tape.

Now that I'm done with that, I have to tell you, I'm kind of glad I got out of D.C. yesterday when I did. I heard there were tornadoes in Virginia! Yikes! Actually, my husband has a good friend who lives in Virginia, and I'm hoping he calls her to make sure she and her husband are okay. I've got to get back to grading stuff for my students--it's finals week and I can't afford to get behind. I'll have to post more pictures from my trip tomorrow!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Whirlwind of a Weekend

I spent the weekend in Washington, D.C. with my little sister and I had the most amazing time! I came home feeling more relaxed and well-rested than I have in a LONG time. I just got home a little while ago and of course, my daughter is snuggled up on me, giving me hugs and kisses. It was our first time apart--she had a great time with her daddy, but definitely missed mommy. It's good to be home, but I'm going to miss the relaxation I got while I was gone. I've got lots of pictures...not enough time to post too many now, but here's a little something:

My sister took me a Nationals vs. Cubs game at the new stadium. Rocked my world!

There are a ton of Cubs fans in D.C. I was impressed. Amazed, really. There was a really funny drunk guy who kept making fun of how slow the scoreboard was and imitated how we do it manually in Wrigley Field and still take less time to do it.

Here I am acting goofy for the camera.

I was acting goofy (well, goofier than normal, because I had just looked up on the screen and couldn't figure out how to pronounce this guy's name).

That's all for now. I need to spend some time with my sweethearts. Actually, the little one is getting tired, so I think I'll give her a bath and rock her to sleep. More later!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Do Not Worry"

My religion and my faith are things that I typically keep close to my heart. I don’t feel the need to advertise to the world how I worship or what I believe. I will, on occasion, write about my relationship with God and things that I’ve been thinking about. Today is one of those days. It started this morning when I checked my e-mail—I receive sort of a “daily support” type message everyday and I always find them to be uplifting. Today’s scripture really jumped out at me.

Jesus admonishes you to not worry because He will provide everything you need: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Luke 12:22-25).

The last sentence really struck me. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

It sort of drives home the point that worrying doesn’t get us anywhere. Of course, I’m trying to convince myself of that even as I type this, worrying about all I need to get done today and wondering if I’ll have everything in order this weekend for my family while I’m out of town. What if I forget something when I pack? Will my husband remember to do the household stuff while I’m gone? Will he give our daughter good, healthy meals, or will he indulge her and let her eat too much junk food while I’m gone? Will my daughter miss me and not want to go to bed at night? Or will she not even realize I’m gone and just have fun with her daddy? Will the planes I’ll be flying on be delayed or cancelled? What if they crash? Will I be able to relax enough to have fun? What if I have so much fun that I’ll be sad I’m not staying with my sister longer? It’s all the “wills” and “what ifs”. Too many.

In the long run, it doesn’t really matter, does it? It just is what it is. Things work out or they don’t. Life happens and I can participate and enjoy it as much as I can, or I can sit on the sidelines, burdened by those “what ifs” and watch things go on around me. As I’m getting older, I’m finding that I’m more comfortable with myself and the circumstances of my life. I’m never going to be skinny and that’s okay. I’m a homebody in my daily life, but if I had the chance to travel the world, I’d do it in a heartbeat—with or without my husband! Until this morning when my husband unknowingly reminded me, I forgot that tomorrow is an “anniversary” of sorts—something that for the past few years has grated on my soul and left me with the bitter taste of resentment burning in my throat. This year, I feel only slightly annoyed. I’m grateful and relieved that the anger (rage, really) that used to be bubbling just below the surface is now cooling on a back burner. That brings a wonderful, settling feeling of peace.

I’m not sure if it was a conscious decision to turn over that issue to God—I don’t remember actively thinking, “Let go and let God” or “His will, not mine.” I just know that at some point, God took that burden from me. Or perhaps more correctly, I finally let the worry go and opened myself enough to let Him take it from me. And for me, the biggest control freak of the universe, that is a BIG deal. Letting go of something—especially if it’s something that hurt—is no small task. But there is no task, big or small, that God can’t or won’t take. He’ll take it because he can take it. He’s stronger than me. He’s bigger and badder (and I mean “badder” in the best way possible) than anything that will cross my path. I’m not always good at remembering that, but I’m working on doing better.

I can’t add an hour to my life by worrying about anything. All worrying does is waste time and I hate being a time waster! So, in an effort to worry less, I’m going to pack my bag tonight for my upcoming trip and remind myself that other than my medication, I can buy whatever I forget to pack. There are stores where I’m going, right? No big deal. And if my little munchkin gets a little more junk food than usual, it’s okay. I’m not the one who will be up all night with her tummy ache. She’ll miss me some and be glad when I’m home (as will my husband). The planes most likely are not going to crash. It will be a safe, smooth flight, both ways. I will have fun. I will appreciate coming home to my family. And I can’t wait!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Monday (Today!)~ 8-Minute Egg and Pepper Frittata (I just like seeing the word "Frittata." Actually, this is a quick and easy breakfast-for-dinner type thing, which is perfect today because I've got a pounding headache.)

Tuesday~ Vegetable Radiatore with turkey meatballs and salad

Wednesday~ Daddy Duty, but I bet he makes some kind of chicken with green beans

Thursday~ Artichoke ravioli with mushrooms and spinach

Friday~ No clue. Wait a minute. I won't be here for dinner on Friday because I'm going to visit my sister. Hahahaha! It's two Daddy Duties in one week!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Springtime Sunshine

It's a sunshine-y beautiful day today. There's warmth in the air (along with a big of humidity) and my garden is starting to bloom. Mix that with the wonderful smell of hyacinth drifting in through my open dining room windows, and it all adds up to a big ol' smile on my face! It's one of those days where I can't help but feel happy!

Here's some Woodland Hyacinths:

And some Gypsy Hyacinths:

Here's some Daffodils popping up around my little tree:

Aren't they lovely?? I can't wait until the buds bloom on my tulips and lilies. And peonies. And clematis. And lavendar. Oh, and the wildflowers, too! I've got a ton of everything so that my garden blooms from early spring, straight into the fall. I love it!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Earthquake Anyone?

The Midwest, and especially Illinois, is known for a lot of things...tornadoes, droughts, lots of rain, snow and wind. Illinois is not really known for earthquakes. Time to change that! You can read about it here.

I remember another earthquake when I was a kid--my dad felt it while he was dozing in the recliner in the living room. This has been the first one in a while and it just seems so odd to me. I know there's a fault line not too far from the southern Illinois border, but I never really give it any thought. I mean, this isn't exactly California!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

One More Thing...

It's been one of THOSE days...one of those days where you catch yourself repeatedly asking, "What else can go wrong?" or "What else can happen today?" And then one more thing goes wrong or happens.

Ugh. I'm a total crabby pants. Just say, "Heigh ho!" and call me Grumpy. Today was so bad, I'm not even going to tell you what happened--I'll just say it involved irritating co-workers, annoying students, not enough money, a broken shoe and stinky dishes.

'Nuf said. I'm going to take a shower and crawl into bed. Tomorrow HAS to be better.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

It's been a while since I've done meal planning, but this week, I've got some good stuff planned.

Monday (Today)~ Baby back ribs, sweet potato fries, zucchini and yellow squash

Tuesday~ Turkey breast with stuffing, mixed veggies

Wednesday~ Late night at work...daddy will be doing cooking

Thursday~ Grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, butternut squash

Friday~ Hmmmm. I might make ham and potatoes with sweet peppers, but depending on when I get home from work, it might be a frozen pizza!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Groovin'...on a Sunday Afternoon..."

Ah, I love relaxing weekends.

Yesterday got a little nutty with grocery shopping and errands, but it was fine. I was thinking about comments on my last post from Missy and Margaret about the insanity of price increases on basic necessities. Milk is out of control. And juice...forget it. My household budget for gas is still exceeding my budget for food, but probably not for too much longer. The evidence is in the pile of receipts from yesterday.

I went to Trader Joe's first. They have delicious, organic, fresh produce and all kinds of yummy other stuff. With my daughter's health problems, I try to buy organic as much as possible, but it's too expensive at the regular grocery stores. Trader Joe's has plain ol' regular prices on all of their organic stuff. Plus, I never have to worry about label-checking for high fructose corn syrup. I don't think they carry anything that has that terrible stuff in it. (I've cut out high fructose corn syrup as much as possible from my diet because my insulin levels get crazy. Anyway...) I spent right around $65.00 in there. I got all my fresh produce for two weeks, half a dozen bags of frozen veggies, bread, cereal, cheese and a few healthy snacks. Not too shabby.

I went over to Super Wal-Mart for the rest of the necessities and had to bite the bullet and spend some extra because it was meat-shopping time and we needed some basic household necessities. I spent about $100 there. I almost cried on the spot. I hate spending that much. But I calmed myself down and realized that for $165 total, I had enough food and household items for two full weeks, other than replenishing milk and bananas. Whew! I don't know how Missy (4 kids), Margaret (3 kids), and pretty much anyone who's not single keeps their household going with these prices. I try not to freak about it too much, but let's face it...I'm a freak.

So...getting to the whole Sunday afternoon thing.

I had the most fulfilling, relaxing day ever! My poor hubby had to work today. It was a bummer for him, but wonderful for me. My daughter and I headed over to my mom and dad's late in the morning for a little visit. My dad works Sundays, too, and the munchkin was disappointed, but she still had fun. She played in the family room and my mom and I sat right upstairs, chit-chatting (about gas and food prices and the cost of replacing furniture and carpet, my niece's upcoming Communion and goofy in-laws). We had some lunch and hung out until around 1pm, then stopped off at the library to return some books and video before heading home. My little sweetie was wiped out, so she took a nap, and while she dozed, I cleaned the bathrooms. Mmmmmm. I love the smell of mint eucalyptus bathroom cleaner. The whole house smells good now. I also had laundry going, making my way through a daunting pile of sheets and towels.

After my sweetie's nap, we played in the living room, read a few books, had a snack and just totally enjoyed spending time together. The best part was building a tower of blocks, which, for whatever reason, my daughter called "Santa Claus's castle! Ho ho ho!" Odd, but still cute. She wanted to color by herself for a little bit, so while she did that, I put clean sheets on the beds and vacuumed upstairs. I had a chicken cooking in the crock pot,

Um, I just had to take a half hour break to do toxic cleanup in my daughter's room. She was complaining all day her tummy hurt and now I know why...ugh. How can such a tiny tummy hold so much nastiness? Turns out that night-time pull-ups aren't that absorbent. But I'm glad she was in a pull-up...that was an afterthought actually, because she'd been complaining about a tummy ache. For the past few weeks, she's been dry at night. Good thing we had some pull-ups left! Poor baby. She's asleep again.

So, where was I? Oh yeah...the chicken. I made chicken with some mac and cheese and green beans. Little munchkin helped me make a small cake, too. She turned up her nose at dinner, said she wasn't hungry and that her tummy hurt. She ate some applesauce later on, but no dinner. She didn't even want a taste of the cake.

After dinner, we cuddled on the couch. Didn't read, didn't sing, didn't do anything. She just snuggled in my arms and I laid back, breathing in her sweet baby smell. I know she's not a baby anymore and probably in another year, that baby smell will fade completely, but just sitting there quietly, her wrapped in my arms, I swear was a piece of Heaven on earth. I gave her a bath, then got her tucked into bed and read her a book. She read quietly by herself for a while and fell asleep, holding her favorite pink bear...and then right after her dear old daddy got home, her tummy erupted.

Still a wonderful day. Although, I thought was done with laundry. Not quite. *Sigh* But it's fine by me. It's worth it. Totally. Completely. Always.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sharing the Pain

I used my break at work to go put gas in my car and write this post.

Last year, my household budget for gas exceeded the household budget for food. That was upsetting and I wrote a scathing editorial about it for the local paper. My husband and I are careful with our pennies and dollars--thus, we're extremely careful with how much we drive. The past few weeks, I've just been putting just enough in the tank to get by, probably around $15-25 per week. Today, I went all out and filled up after my low fuel light came on.


It cost $49.51. I have never, ever spent that much on a tank of gas. Yeah...basic unleaded gas is $3.43 per gallon here. I remember crying when I went back to work after my daughter was born because gas prices hit $2.00 per gallon. That was almost three years ago. Sad. And scary. My husband currently spends about $50.00 per week on gas, too. And we drive economical, gas sipping cars!

The person at the pump behind me had a total of $79.82. I can't even imagine that! Almost $80 for gas? For a giant SUV? That's crazy. Of course, it appeared that the young man could afford it, so that's good for him, but still...I could get an entire week's worth of groceries for $80! Heck, with that much money, I could get a week's worth of groceries and probably even a few extras.

What a wild world we live in, eh?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Yes, threes. I've always been told that bad things happen in threes. I grew up thinking it was just superstition, sort of like an old wives tale, but after today, I'm not so sure.

On Good Friday, I whacked my wrist while doing laundry and ended up having to go the the emergency room. At 2am on Easter Sunday, my husband and I brought our daughter to the ER because of a bad case of croup.

Today...I ended up back in the ER. It started a few days ago when I felt some early symptoms of a bladder infection. My doctor didn't want to wait to treat it, so he did send me for labwork, but told me he was phoning in an antibiotic that he wanted me to start taking the same day. That was yesterday afternoon.

Last night, I took the first dose of the antibiotic. It's a sulfa-based antibiotic I've taken many (many, many) times in the past. This time, though, my body went haywire. About a half hour after I took it, I started swelling up and itching in a place where a woman doesn't want swelling and itching. I sat down in a cold bathtub while my husband called the pharmacist, only to find out that I was having a classic, textbook allergic reaction to the medication. She suggested taking some Benadryl and calling my doctor. That's what I did and my doctor said to stop the antibiotic (duh), continue the Benadryl on the label's dosing schedule, and to go to the ER if I started having any other symptoms.

The "other symptoms" kicked in early this morning in what's called a "secondary allergic reaction". My face was swollen to twice its normal size, bright red, and my eyes were almost swollen shut, with gunk pouring out of them. Then my heart started racing (about 137 beats a minute, when my normal resting pulse is between 70-80 beats) and I started having trouble breathing. That really scared me and I started to cry. Bad idea, because the crying made my heart beat even faster, which made me cry harder--vicious circle. My husband packed me in the car and drove to our trusted ER...along the way, I was able to mumble out through my purple, swollen mouth that my normally thin lips were rivaling Angelina Jolie's full pout. It looked like I belonged on a TV show called "Collagen Injections Gone Wrong." Gotta have humor, even in bad situations, right?

I got great treatment at the ER--complete with an IV where the nurse pumped me full of Benadryl, steroids and Pepcid. Pepcid? Yeah, Pepcid. I thought it was only for heartburn, but the prescription strength that's administered in an IV fusion is a strong line of defense in halting an allergic reaction. I learn something new every day, even when I'm not in school!

I was home just after 10am. I was kind of a space-case because of all the meds, but much better at least. My hubby ran out and got all my prescriptions, then came home and sat with me until I could settle down and go to sleep. And did I sleep! I got more sleep during my afternoon nap than I do in an average night. Even so, I'm wiped out, so after my next dose of steroids, I'm going to crawl into bed. Going to work tomorrow is questionable...I guess I'll see how I feel in the morning, but I think right now, it's not looking good.

Ah well. More nonsense later...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Beating the Blues

I'm feeling a little better today. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and offered some suggestions for dealing with stress.

The first thing I tried was Margaret's suggestion. Getting out of the house. Getting the heck out of Dodge. Getting away from everything making me feel totally-batty-crazy-nuts. I spent most of Saturday morning doing benign errands all by myself--had the car windows down and the radio turned way up loud, singing along. Sweet relief. Then I came home, changed clothes and got my hands dirty. Literally. I dug around in the garden, pulled up some of last year's weeds, did some de-thatching and then lugged around 40 pounds of dirt and seed to fill some bare spots in the lawn. I was exhilarated.

The payoff to fanatical gardening? Last week, where only tiny hints of green were starting to poke through, today turned into this:

Tiny little snow crocuses. Of course, the snow is gone (thank goodness!), but better late than never! I don't know why that white one looks so fuzzy. I think something's wrong with my camera. I took a bunch of pictures today, and the color was washed out and the light was fuzzy in all of them. Bummer.

Anyway, next I decided to try Katie's suggestion. She agreed with Margaret in that I needed to get out of the house, but thought maybe something a little more aggressive would be helpful.

I had been slacking off on exercising, which isn't good, so I threw in a Tae Bo DVD. Not quite the Kung Fu that seems to help Katie, but it still felt good to get out some frustrations. I used to do kickboxing back in college and I really enjoyed it. I like working out, but the treadmill and bike get boring after a while. I just feel like I should be doing so much more with my body--moving, shaking, dancing, whatever. My hubby isn't really interested in dancing with me, but I just realized that there isn't a rule that says I can't go dancing without him...

I considered Christine's suggestion of getting out and getting a hotel room for myself. The only hitch with that is that in my town, the inexpensive motels aren't exactly reputable. So instead, after the kiddo went to bed last night, I isolated myself downstairs, ate some Cheetos, watched mindless television for a little while, then settled down with a good book. I crawled upstairs when I finally started getting sleepy. I left the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, didn't fold the laundry that was sitting in the dryer and didn't mop my kitchen floor. All chores for another time.

I went to church this morning. I usually stay until the final hymn is finished, often sitting alone in the open, cavernous space, just getting lost in my thoughts and in prayer. There's something very healing about that, just being alone in a house of God. Today though, that was interrupted by my bladder, which kept calling out, "Gotta go, gotta go." So, I skipped out right after Communion. I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes, basking in the sunshine and thinking about Missy and Cheryl expressing concern that I might be experiencing some depression. You know, I might be. The only real depression I experienced before was post-partum, and that got pretty severe. I don't feel like that, but I suppose the fact that I'm not fully enjoying things the way I used to is of concern. Although now that I think about it, I hit a rough patch last year about this time when my insulin and thyroid levels were a little crazy. I'm due for a checkup with the doctor soon, so I should mention it and see what he thinks. Could be medical, could be related to a series of very unhappy work issues, could be related to the fact that I'm chronically sleep deprived. Maybe all, maybe none. I'll let the doctor figure that out.

My computer shut down right after that last sentence. When I got back into my blog, I saw that Catherine left a comment, too. Funny about the Franklin Covey thing. I haven't been to a workshop, but I follow the principles...they're included in my Franklin Covey day planner! The saying "no" thing...that I need to work on. A lot.

Anyway, the best part of the weekend so far can be summed up in the following pictures:

Here's my girl (such a big girl!) climbing up one of those goofy ladder-thingies...

And here she is getting ready to go down the slide with dear old dad...

Hanging out on the swings with mom...I've determined that the reason kids are so thin is because running around the park and pumping legs on the swings really is a good workout. I need to do this more often...

No complaints today. I've got a nice, meaty chicken cooking in the crock pot and the house smells yummy, which is nice after the whole sour milk thing. I think I might make some zucchini with it, maybe toss it with some brown rice. I'm debating whether to make a blueberry cobbler or a pumpkin spice cake for dessert. I'm thinking this is what it feels like to feel like my old self.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Reader Request

Please leave a comment if you read this!

I'm looking for ways to manage the stress in my life. I'm not used to feeling so frazzled and unsettled and it's really...uncomfortable. Normally, I'm pretty good at rolling with the punches in life, but this week has been unusually bad and my regular coping skills aren't working this time around. I can't sleep it away. There isn't enough water (or gas to heat the water) in the world for me to take a long enough and hot enough shower to melt my stress away. Money is too tight for me to quit my job. Even my favorite pastimes of perusing cookbooks and puttering around the kitchen isn't helping. How do I know it's really bad? I don't even want to clean my house. And for people who know me, a clean house is sacred. Everything seems like a chore and (to go back and quote myself as a kid), "I don't feel like it." Nothing is feeling enjoyable and I'd love to curl into a ball and roll myself to pretty much anywhere but here.

I'm looking for suggestions. How do you manage stress in your life? Work, family, economy, gas prices, health, money, whatever. Please leave a comment and give me some hints as to what works for you. I'll do my best to implement whatever you suggest and come up with a post later as to what worked best for me--and to express my eternal thanks!