Welcome Home Handsome

Welcome Home Handsome


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Happy Birthday, 'Merica!

The days are drawing closer. Ten days to be exact, until the biggest day in our beautiful country. Independence Day just happens to be my most favorite holiday of all time.

I come from an extremely patriotic family with a long line of Military service members. One of my Grandfather's retired from the U.S. Army after serving in more than one war, as a Lt. Col. Another Grandfather was a Tech Sgt in the USMC and another served in Korea with the U.S. Army. I have many uncles, and cousins as well who have proudly serve or are currently serving. From a wee child, love and pride for my country has been instilled in me. I have cried through the Star Spangled Banner for as long as my memory takes me.

When my husband enlisted in the U.S. Army, 8 years ago, that pride welled even more. Each time I saw him off to an ugly war in a foreign land and every time our children and I welcomed him home, the pride and love for this great country swelled yet even more as my pride in my husband's selfless service overwhelmed me.

How lucky am I? I can't count the times I thought that. My very own husband was one of the few American's who willingly signed their lives away by writing a blank check to the United States Government for an amount up to their own lives. They live with the mission of protecting American's from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

It wasn't until 2009 that I realized what this War on Terrorism had done (and taken) from my husband. I had heard of post traumatic stress disorder, however, I didn't think or expect MY husband would have it. I was naive to it, too ignorant to understand how serious it was. The Army nor the FRG had prepared me for this. No one told me that it was probable that my husband would come home different. See, the man I knew and loved never made it home from his first deployment, he's still mostly stuck in Afghanistan. Six years later and I'm still not ready to share our whole story with the entire world, yet. But I can say that my husband nearly didn't survive his PTSD...twice. Our marriage BARELY made it through the worst of it. We've had a long and hard battle the last six years. We're finally in a place where we are able to easily recognize his triggers. We know what situations to avoid and what we need to do to prepare for certain events so that we can enjoy them should we decide he is up for it. We work TOGETHER now, rather than against each other. The D word is never uttered anymore, nor is it thought. We have good days, bad days and even ugly days. However, the ugly days are fewer and fewer than ever now. PTSD HAS NO CURE!! It is something that will forever haunt my husband. But with regulated meds (finally, after 5 years) and therapy, he has been able to make leaps and bounds in his progress and coping skills.

My husband is NOT afraid. He'd take the devil himself on in a hot second. He'd be the first in line to volunteer to fight ISIS. He is NOT afraid! But he lives every day of his life with the memories and nightmares of a war that has never left him. That does not make him weak. Quite the contrary, he's the strongest and most brave man I know. To have been through and to have seen all that he has, and to still face every day with optimism, to still be an amazing father, husband, and provider, blows my mind. I admire his strength more than he'll ever know. As his wife, lover, and best friend, I will do everything I can to stand up for him and protect him from those who try to attack and shame him, from those who do not understand. It's not their fault but I will not let ignorance put another nail in a coffin. I will spread awareness and help to educate others on PTSD and the symptoms.

So as the 4th of July draws closer, I'll anticipate my favorite holiday of all time. I will gently remind others to be courteous with their fireworks.
                 -This raises another questions. What does it mean, exactly, to be courteous with fireworks? It basically means, please don't shoot them off in the middle of the night. Please don't shoot them off every day leading up for an entire week or afterwards. Please don't shoot them off in the yard of a combat veteran.

It's not asking others to refrain from enjoying themselves and celebrating the best day of the year. See, with PTSD, fireworks sound like bombs and mortars going off. It can trigger flashbacks that can affect them severely for weeks following. A combat vet suffering with PTSD can make proper arrangements for the 4th of July, whether that be secluding themselves or taking their "as needed" anxiety meds which are a little stronger. There's a small difference between knowing something is coming-and being able to brace yourself for it and being taken by surprise. There's a difference between being in control of your situation and environment and not being in control.

As my husband and I plan to make the 4th of July the most pleasant experience for our family as possible, we want to wish you and your family a very, very happy Independence Day! I hope you take the time to thank your nearby Veteran's and Active Duty Service Members who, if it wasn't for them, have ensured our beautiful country remain the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Feelings of Nostalgia

My husband enlisted in the Army nearly 8 years ago. Honestly, that doesn't seem like a very long time but in the Military community, it's a lifetime. I've grown a lot over the last (near) decade. I've learned a lot about who I am and who I want to be, the type of people I want to surround myself with, what I want out of life, what expectations I have, the type of mother and wife I want to be and so much more. I've experienced self discovery, heartache, tragedy, loss, overwhelming joy, pride, humbleness, burdens, trust, compassion, empathy, and growth.

To date, my husband has served two combat tours in effort of Operation Enduring Freedom. He's seen things I couldn't begin to imagine and as a result, is forever a different person. My family has been put through the wringers of PTSD and TBI, all of which are stories for another day. But I will say that it has taught me so much and made me a better person and wife. I've learned so much about what is important to me in life.

About a year and a half ago we made our most recent PCS to an Army post in the South. I've dreamed of living in the South since I was a little girl. I have roots down here and I've always felt a calling to the South. When my husband came down on orders for here I was over the moon filled with excitement and wonder like a small child. I've always been a country girl. Little did I know that a country girl from the West is so much different than a country girl from the South.

I respect the South and I do feel my southern roots down here, but there's one thing I've become to accept and love. I am a Northwest girl and I always will be. I belong in the West. I'd rather go to the rodeo than a high school football game any day. I'd rather go up to the mountains and have a midnight bonfire with family, friends and beer than hit up the Broadway strip in Nashville, concert or hockey game.

You see, in the Pacific Northwest we have a history unlike any other. We have so many things to boast about. We're about so much more than hippies, grunge, and rain. We're misunderstood by the rest of the country east of the Mississippi and north of the Great Divide. If you ever have the chance to visit, do it! We have some of the most spectacular and breathtaking mountain peaks in the world. We have hot springs, a rain forest, beaches, wild flower fields, mountains, gorges, pike place market, COFFEE, wine, countless vineyards, cowboys, car shows, boat shows, rodeos, ferry rides, orca watching, beaches, the freshest air, evergreens for miles, the largest apple industry in the world, endless beauty, countless beautiful hiking trails, state fairs, and a rich Native American culture. We offer a blend of all cultures and a diverse history of our own.

My love for my home state has grown intensely over the last decade. There's so much you take for granted when you live somewhere, I know this more than most. It's hard, in the moment, to focus on anything other than the negative. You see, my home town gets a bad rap. Yes, the crime rates have risen (they have EVERYWHERE!). However, when you can look beyond that to the beauty that is my home, you realize that there truly is no other like it. Where else can you get 4 seasons, hot summers, cold winters, 300+ days of sunshine per year, a days drive to a number of amazing state parks, minutes from the mountains, hop festivals and more!

I miss home so much. I miss how much simpler our lives were before the Army pulled us away. I miss family. I miss small town Yakima and having the freshest produce. Life in the Army has put such distance between us and the friends we used to have and family. I've never felt so lonely in my entire life. I often day dream of our future when the Army is a memory I can reflect on. I can't wait until the day that my husband and I can root our family, purchase our forever home and watch my children make life long friendships. Home is comfort. Home is where our family is. Even with all the drama and day to day none sense, family is the only thing you have at the end of the day.

If there's one thing the Army life has taught us, it's to live in the moment and to never take anything for granted. I see so many from my home town gripe about this and that and complain over petty things. But those are things that I yearn to experience again. "There's nothing to do here", yeah...I used to say that too. But trust me, all you have to do is get out! Take a step outside yourself and see everything there is surrounding you and the beauty of it all. The grass is not greener on the other side.

I just hope and pray that by the time we get to say goodbye to this lifestyle and re-enter the civilian world, and move back home, that we will no longer feel lost and forgotten. I pray that my children will still be young enough to remember their childhood growing up with the same family memories I grew up with. I yearn for the big family get together's and BBQ's and trips up to the mountains. I pray that we transition well from the chaotic and stressful life we currently live.

For now, I will continue to day dream...
...there's no place like home...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I want to share something with the web world that has been bothering me for some time. When I say time, I mean, days...weeks...months...and now, years. There is a title that has been placed upon "Army Wives". I use that term in quotations as to purposely not say spouses-this term has been attached to the women who are married to Soldiers, exclusively and predominately. "Dependa". Oh how that word makes me cringe. Here is a quote from Urban Dictionary:

A person who is married to someone in the service who doesn't just depend on their spouse for financial support, but pretty much relies on them for it. They start out all cute and All-American until after the wedding, then it's like cookies, couch and coach purses. Arguing with other dependas over Facebook all day over who's the bigger dependa. They're generally not educated and have no goals or aspirations in life. They live their lives through their husband's successes and think they rank and are better than "civilians" when they themselves are in face...still civilians.

You can usually find them at the PX and/or commissary like a herd of cattle during every pay period blowing their spouse's paycheck on oreos, Coach and Michael Kors and then complaining 2 days after "they" got paid that they're broke and need someone to deliver them free diapers for their 6th baby. (also see "dependa-twat", "dependasaurus" and "dependapotomus")

-"My husband and I just got married last month, what are some websites that give free stuff to military wives?"
--"Shut up dependa."

-"I got married to My Marine, he's going to take care of me now. No more working at Taco Bell for this girl!" 

This is the stigma that my fellow Army Wife Sisters carry with us every single day. This is the chip on our shoulder. This is why we fear going out in public, wearing the wrong thing, showing too much support or pride, having too many children-you name it.
Now, as you read the above "definition" of a "Dependa", you may think back to the old term-"tag chaser". I used to too...until recently. The above is a very loose description of what "people" believe we are. Let me bring it down to basics, according to the people who throw this term around, basically, if you are Brown DOD Dependent ID Card Holder and not an Army Brat...you're automatically in this category-HOGWASH. Any action you may or may not take on ANYTHING in life, whatsoever, you risk being publically flamed on a variety of social media sites that are dedicated to "outing" us.

I just have to stand up on behalf of my fellow Army Wife Sisters and say that if anything, (from the words of Mollie Gross), I am my husbands INDEPENDENT!

A little over one year after we were married, my husband and I made the joint decision for him to follow his dream of serving in the United States Army. He always wanted to be a Soldier, to fight for his country, to stand up for what he believed in. Coming from a highly patriotic family, I was eager to support him in this decision. I went with him into the recruiters office, I saw the numbers for the E-fuzzy pay and allowances. We understood that by taking this new path in life, with a brand new baby in tow, we would essentially be going from a household with two full time incomes, to one. We took a pay cut. But with this pay cut, we gained stability in a way we could never pay back. We also gained health insurance, something myself and our newborn child did not have due to the high costs through our jobs.  

I say all of this so that you can understand that despite the assumptions of others, I didn't choose to follow my husband "for the money". I chose to follow my husband and support him because I believed in him, our country, and our military. I was eager to join a community of like minded individuals. I was eager to share my pride in my Soldier with anyone and everyone. Not because I wore it as a badge of honor, or because I was bragging. But because my husband decided to make a life altering decision to join an elite group of people who selflessly serve our country in the heat of an ugly war. I was so proud of how strong he was to take himself away from his first born son and young wife, how he was so willing to make enormous sacrifices in support of the greater good. I was also proud of myself. I went into this knowing that the possibility of becoming a young widow was real. I went into this knowing that I would be moved thousands of miles away from everything and everyone I knew, only to be on my own for weeks, months, and years at a time. 

Let me tell you, this life has been anything but easy. But I can promise you that it has guided me and molded me into the woman I am today. I have learned to lean on strangers when the time called for it. I have learned to suck up my pride and ask for help when I no longer feel like I can stand alone. I have learned to stand alone. I have learned to depend on no one else but MYSELF. I have learned what it really means to be INDEPENDENT. I've learned how strangers can become like family. I've managed 2 children, an infant in a carrier, and 8 care packages in a single trip to the post office. I've fixed appliances, fixed broken toys, assembled furniture, unpacked and set up an entire house for 5 and a dog, managed multiple sick kids while feeling like I was on deaths door myself, survived multiple emergency room trips and school funtions with other little ones in tow, wiped tears, soothed night terrors, shared my empty bed with a weepy and emotional toddler, potty trained all 3 of my kids single handedly, managed cross country trips alone with 3 kids under the age of 7-more than once. I mean, I could keep going on with the list, but that's really just besides the point-we've all been there, right? I am not bitter about doing any of these things without the phsyical presense of my husband. What I am bitter about, is being singled out in the world and having been slapped with a label that I don't deserve.

I spend my days, caring for my husband and my 3 children. I wake up at 0400 to make and pack my husband breakfast and lunch, because he will more than likely be working through lunch and not home by dinner time. I fix my kids breakfast and send my oldest off to school. I then start cleaning the house, which will be a repeated chore until my head hits the pillow that night. I will prepare lunch and send my middle child to preschool. I will read stories to my toddler and clean some more while she naps. I will prepare dinner and wash my 3 dozenth dish for the day. I will clean up spills, pick up dog poop, and tend to the yard. Amongst my busy days I still seem to manage a beautiful flower garden where I get a few minutes of peace to myself in the evenings.  Amongst all of these daily tasks, I have still managed to volunteer countless hours to the FRG and other organizations over the year.

Most of all, I stay faithful and supportive to my husband who sacrifices so much more than most men his age. He's missed most all of our children's biggest milestones in life. He's missed countless holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. He's missed saying goodbye to loved ones that he wasn't able to lay to rest. He's been to war multiple times. He's given his body and his mind to the United States Government to honorbly serve to protect this wonderful nation.

My husband is my hero, and I will be damned to walk around with the stigma that I am anything but an honorable Army Wife. I have made sacrifices as well, mostly in secret as to not take away from him. No, the sacrifices I have made over the last 7 years are not even comparable to his and I am FAR from perfect, but they do matter. I matter. All of us matter.

Do not succumb to the derogatory remarks and titles placed upon us. Do not waste your time fretting over this nonsense. Hold your head high, sweet heart, because you, YOU are better than that. You.ARE.Important! You matter. You are appreciated!

Monday, September 2, 2013

We have orders!!

My goodness, after nearly 6 years here at Fort Carson I never thought we'd see the day where we would finally have orders to PCS.  But we do!!  My husband came down on orders the beginning of July for Fort Campbell, KY!  I can't even begin to describe my excitement to you all!  I am beside myself!

Some of you may know, though, that we were trying to get a compassionate reassignment for Fort Lewis, WA due to my dad's health conditions.  But I suppose the big man upstairs had other plans.  And thankfully, my daddy is progressing in his recovery, though 100% disabled  and unable to work again.  Fort Campbell has always been high on our "wish" list, but did we think we'd ever actually get to go there?  This is the Army of course, haha....so no, we didn't.

Though we will now be roughly 35 hours from "home" I think we will find ourselves right where we were meant to be.  Nate and I are both, down to earth "country folk".  We like the small town, southern hospitality, and all things that come along with living in the south.  Aside from that though, we'll only be around 6 hours drive to my best friend, and still a days drive away from my sister and brother in law.  On top of that, we'll only be 45 minutes away from NASHVILLE!!  Oh yeah, that's right, country music central!  Can I get a "hell yeah"?!

When Nate enlisted in 2007, I had high expectations of moving around the country and getting to see and do things I might not otherwise be able to do.  Little did I know at the time that it wouldn't really work out that way.  Beings we've been here at Fort Carson for over half a decade now.  We were filled with so much excitement when he discovered he had orders for Campbell.

This last weekend we drove to Kansas (near Fort Riley) to visit my sister and brother in law.  And while I've been in humid area's of the country before, I really got a good taste of what we're in for.  But you know what, that's OKAY!  While I was sticky most of the time I was there, I embraced it.  We went to the zoo with all 4 of the kiddos (did I mention my adorable nephew?).  It was HOT!  Reallllllly hot.  I was drenched in sweat,. Imagine sitting in a sauna and the sweat is dripping off of every part of your body (gross right?).  Well, that was me.  But I just laughed it off.  I've got to get used to this, right?  However, I will say that I didn't itch once while I was there.  I never even needed to apply oil or body cream or anything.  And I have naturally dry skin.  It was kind of amazing.  So I guess what I'm trying to say is, while I really don't care for the humid climates all that well, I will survive the summers of the south.  And hey, maybe I'll finally be able to lose some of the extra weight I've been carrying around.  Because I'll be drinking like 15 gallons of water a day (okay maybe not that much. ;)   But you get my drift.

So what I am looking forward to?

  • Actually being able to enjoy Autumn.  I haven't been able to experience the fall season in over 6 years.  Fall is my favorite season of the year.  Since we've moved to Colorado summer has been my favorite season because it's the only time we get some sort of heat around here.  Although, even that is hit and miss with all of the rain we get here.  When it rains here the temps drop about 20 degrees and it's cold...you can't even enjoy the rain.
  • Southern hospitality. Need I say more?
  • Being super duper close to my best friend, being able to watch my Niece grow up (because we'll likely be there for some time before we PCS again).  
  • Green.  Green grass, green trees, TREES!  Omg, I can't wait to start growing food, planting insane amounts of outdoor plants and flowers.
  • Outdoor activities year round!
  • No snow!  Okay well virtually no snow.  Coming from where I grew up and from Colorado, it'll be nice to have mild winters without snow, bitter cold winds and the similar.  I don't do cold.  My kids don't even like it haha!
  • Country music!
  • Honky Tonks (provided we can get a babysitter on occasion).
  • Being part of the 101st Airborne Division family <3 li="">
  • Meeting new people, seeing new things, experiences new things.

My list goes on.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't a nervous wreck though.  Moving is nerve wracking.  My anxiety is high.  Will we get a house before Nate leaves for school?  Will we clear housing here without ending up in the poor house?  Will we have enough funds to move and temporarily live in a hotel?  Will we have enough room for all of the things we aren't letting the movers take?  And good golly....are we gonna get good movers or is our stuff going to get severely damaged enroute? How will Wyatt do transferring to a new school where he doesn't know anyone?  Will I even be able to get him back into school right away?  And on and on and on... My dad always called me a worry wart while I was growing up.  I guess he was right. :/

All these aside though, I'm just thrilled!  I can't wait to get there and get settled in and start our new journey in this Army life.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why I Love This Military Life

Let me tell you a little bit about my world and why I love it so much.  Why the thought of leaving it one day not only deeply saddens me but scares the livin' day lights out of me. 

My life is filled with uniforms and codes of ethic.  Acronyms and standards.  Rules and regulations.  Stress and tears.  Love and pride.  Pride that can't be explained with words.  Deployments, FTX's, TDY's, fun times and hardships.  Anxiety and fear.

I am awoken every morning by the bugle calls for reveile.  I go to sleep by the sounds of TAPS.  And when I hear the the bugles for retreat I know that my husband "should" be home soon for dinner-given that they aren't deployed, gearing for deployment, or on an FTX (lol).

I step out my front door at any given moment int he day and I am always surrounded by uniforms.  Uniforms worn by our nations unsung heroes.  Uniforms to which I owe my life and freedom to.  Unless you live this life, you haven't the slightest clue how security and pride can envelope and overwhelm a person.

I can step outside and see moving trucks.  Either families departing to a new duty station or new comers who have PCS'd here-to their new "home".

I can step outside and see children and parents hanging banners and signs.  Decorating their homes and cars.  I smile inside, knowing that little boy down the street is about to get his daddy back.

I can go to the Commissary, where I see many women-"single moms"-like myself toting several children while she gathers her families weekly groceries.  The pure look of stress in her eyes as she fights the urge to break down into tears.  I see the childless wife with a cart full of frozen dinners and junk food.  Because we all know how pointless it is to cook for one.  I see the retiree's with their spouses and I shoot them a smile.  I see those who have been inured during war, proudly walking in his new pair of legs.

The advantages of being a Military Spouse vs. a civilian one is that I am reminded EVERY SINGLE day (sometimes more than once) how important my husbands job is.  I am also reminded of how thankless it is.

Words cannot even begin to describe the overwhelming emotion and pride that paralizes you when you to to a welcome home ceremony.  Words cannot describe the fear a spouse has and the sounds of an unexpected knock at the door.

You see, the reality of becoming a widow in my twenties is far more real than for any of my civilian friends.  Sending your husband to fight a thankless war that many Americans fail to educate themselves on, not knowing if that is the last time that I will taste his kiss, is almost unbearable.  Will that be the last time I touch his face or feel his embrace?  Is that the last time I will stare into his eyes?  Is this the last time I will see him swoop his children up in a great big bear hug?

But I keep going.  I know have the job of two.  I am the only one now.  I am on my own, 20 hours from family.  I am my own backbone.

Many wonder how we do it.  Us spouses have to rely on each other.  Just as our guys become family with their battle buddies, our fellow Military Wives become each others family.  We UNDERSTAND more than ANY other person will, what each other is going thru.  Even if we don't walk it at the same times.  I would be lost without that hand to hold, helping offer, or shoulder to cry on.

After living the Army lifestyle and learning to love it, I don't EVER want to go back.  This is where I belong.  This is where I belong.  This is where I feel at home.  Because "home" is where the Army sends us.  "Home" is where my husbands plants his combat boots.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Religion & Politics

If there are two things I HATE discussing more than anything else, it's religion and politics. 

Some may argue it's because I don't know much about either.  Everyone can have their opinions.  I will be the first to admit that I don't know much about politics.  Honestly, I don't care to.  I have my opinions and I prefer to keep them to myself.

Religion, I know about Christianity.  I was raised in that religion.  I know my fair share of it.  Yet, people still feel the obligation to shove their religion (Christianity) down my throat.  Throw scriptures in my face as though I'm naive and uneducated in this area.

I'm getting to the point in my life where I honestly do not know what I believe anymore.  Because the Jesus I was once, did not treat people the way that Christians do these days.  The Jesus, *I* believed in did not "Bible Bash".  In fact, there was no Bible when he was walking the earth.  I'm so sick and tired of being made to feel "guilty" for not attending church or for the way I am raising my children.  I'm so tired of being looked down upon for decisions I have made in my life.  Or for the fact that my husband has different views and lots of doubts as well. 

Christians have this way of knowing everything about everytghing and making sure that everyone knows it and that we are all wrong for not following their ways, opinions, etc.

I really don't know what I am even trying to flippin' say at the moment.  My laptop is about to die for good and I just don't have the time to get my jumbled thoughts into a proper blog.  So yeah...

...I really don't know what I believe at this point.  I still pray, read a devotional, and teach my kids about the God I was raised to know.  But in my heart and mind I have many many questions and doubts. 

I'd love to take some world religion classes and learn about other religions more deeply.

At some point I will continue on with this mess of a blog and organize my thoughts to make better sense.

So go on....judge me like y'all always do in your hearts...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Deployment Confession # 23476515

Today I was required to attend the Fort Carson Garrison Council Meeting.  So that meant leaving all three of my babies at childcare while I was gone.  My older two (boys ages 4.5 and 3) have been to hourly care several times, but I hadn't taken them until last month.  Well, I had to leave my 8 month old daughter at day care for the very first time.

I had never left my boys at day care that young.  In fact, like I stated, they had never been until last month.  Poor Alliebug has been dealing with separation anxiety since my husband deployed.  If we are not home (and I'm not with her) she refuses to eat, nap, and cries non-stop.  I was so anxious about leaving her for fear she would just scream the entire time.  My poor baby girl needs her mama (or this is my thinking!).

So I drop the boys off in their classroom and walk down to the other end of the facility to drop her off, for the first time.  After I have labeled and put her things up and signed her in, I had to let her go.  I took a minute to snuggle next to her, kiss her cheeks, the top of her head, and whisper to her that mommy would be right back and that she would be okay.  As  I set her down, I kiss her one last time-and then it happens!  The TEARS!  I'm bawling my eyes out as I stand back up.  I was so humiliated.  I had not expected to cry.  I have left her with close friends before and I was fine.  This was different.  I was leaving my baby girl with strangers, albeit trained strangers, but still strangers.

As I went back out to my car, drying my eyes, I was reflecting on the sacrifices my husband has had to make regarding our children.  I couldn't help but feel guilty and a little bit selfish.

When Wyatt was 2 months old Nathan left for Basic Training and AIT.  When Wyatt was 16 months old he left for JRTC.  When CJ was 2 months old he left for his first deployment.  In between all of these he's also been gone for weeks on end on FTX's (field training exercises), etc.  And now he's had to say good bye to all 3 of our babies AGAIN for his second deployment.  As a mother, I could not imagine leaving my kids for any length of time, let alone almost an entire year.

What an incredibly strong person it takes to answer the call of duty and leave behind the strings of your heart. I could barely leave my baby for 2.5 hours, how in the world do our Military leave their children behind for months/years at a time?

I have the utmost respect for our Military and the sacrifices they make (great and small).  I couldn't do it.  So to those of you that do, thank you!  And please forgive me for being selfish.