Remember that new blog I mentioned last week? Well, it’s up and running! It’s still in its infancy but I would sure appreciate all the support I can get. So, if you’ve enjoyed reading my posts over here, could you kindly link over to the new one and subscribe? It’s would mean the world to me. Thanks!
I kind of did as well. I just checked and it seems that my last entry on this blog was posted March 1st, 2020. That’s “pre-COVID” if you hadn’t figured it out. I guess, like a lot of people, I was just focused on other things for the past few months. It’s the height of irony for someone who loves to document life. Think about it. The most bizarre year of any of our lifetimes comes along and I can’t bring myself to write a solitary word about any of it.
I believe in the silence, we sometimes find answers to the big questions in life.
These past five months have been a blessing for me. They have been filled with many wonderful memories – memories that, for now, will remain untold on these pages and bound up only in the collective mind of my family. You all know by now that this blog has been a way to document the life of my family as my kids have been growing up. Don’t worry, they’re not quite grown yet. There are many more stories to record and to share.
But I think these times God gives us – times like a national lockdown – force us to confront the question of what is most important in our lives. For me it has always been God. It MUST be God. He is at the center of all that I hope to do and be – “my first beginning and last end,” to quote the daily missal. To love is to sacrifice, to give oneself to God, whole and entire. We do this in giving ourselves to our spouses, our children, the Church, society. I have always harbored a desire to be loved. It is a desire with which I have struggled in many ways. And yet I know that it is far greater to love. I hope that my love for my wife and kids has shown through in the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve committed to this space over the years. But to love them means to sacrifice myself for them. Now I am preparing to embark, for them, on what is perhaps my greatest task in life fully realized. Let me tell you.
Two things in particular have happened in the past few months to spur this realization. First, there were the hours and days and weeks spent with the kids. My wife works from home in a cozy office off the back of the house. We try not to disturb her during the work day. But yours truly is a school administrator/teacher. We got shut down. Just like every other parent in America I found myself suddenly teaching my own kids. My situation was a bit different. For starters, I had always wanted to teach my kids in a formal setting. It’s why I went to work at the school were I did – so the kids would be with me and one day I would have them in class. I know, I’m that dad. Although they say they think that’s a “cool” idea now, I’m not sure how they’d feel in high school. And I have even reached “Master Dad Joke” level within the International Society of Dad Humorists so I was just waiting to lay puns and set snares with an intellectual bent that would make anyone’s head explode. Yet here we were, unexpectedly getting that chance; while I was simultaneously teaching other kids online and helping to run a K-12 school.
Three months. We did this for three months. We got creative and got plenty of exercise walking around the neighborhood or riding our bikes. We laughed. We cried. We struggled. But it was sooooo worth it.
Another thing happened recently. This one affected me more than the kids. Two weeks ago one of my older brothers committed suicide. He had a wife of 27 years and two grown kids. I will never understand why he did such a thing. Please pray for his soul and for his family. Something shook me about this. Did the lockdown mess with him? He was one of the most social creatures I’ve ever known? There’s no sense trying to find an answer, though. It is over. It is final. Pray for him. When I say something shook me, I mean that the fragility of life came to the fore of my own life once again. We’ve lost so many over the years. We cannot go forward as though all is doom and gloom. Yet at the same time we have to use these moments to focus on what is truly important, just like we might see good in the lockdown if we understand that we got more time together as a family. Don’t get me wrong. I think the lockdowns were useless and politically motivated and you can call me a nut but the curve was flattened a long time ago. Nonetheless, it gave me time and his death gave me pause to reflect.
I have one solemn charge in life and that is to get my wife and kids to heaven. I need to teach them their faith and about the world around them. I need to pray with them every day, go to mass with them every day like my dad taught me. I need to give them everything I have. And I’m the one to do it. Just look at me! Every moment of my life prepared me for this. And right now you’re asking what I’m talking about…
Wait for it…
After fifteen years in education as a teacher and administrator, after more than a decade of documentary blogging, after years of working in broadcast media, having served varied school communities, television networks, and a brief stint driving live lab mice to the airport; I am leaving it all behind. Starting in a few weeks, I will be the principal of my home. Since I was only ever vice principal, I guess I just gave myself a promotion. My two kids will be getting up with me every morning to do what is most important – praise God and live out our family life together – while I teach them the “Three R’s” and try to keep them away from Mommy’s office. I’m excited beyond belief. I know I can do this. I hope they’ll be cooperative when the going gets tough. And you my dear readers, both of you, already know that there’s no way I’m starting this new chapter in my life without chronicling all the gory details. Look for a new blog to start soon (either right here or under a new domain). And if you have any friends (like the million or so Americans who are also crazy enough to try this same stunt) who want to follow and read along, send them my way. The adventures of a now-former vice principal who quits his job to be a homeschooling dad might just be anybody’s cup of tea in these insane times.
My life has been so chock full of the bizarre lately I’m truly grateful to have found ten minutes on a Friday night to write about it. Trust me, it’s that good.
It all started late last week when the local health department notified our school of a confirmed case of pertussis. What’s pertussis, you ask? Whooping cough (pronounced hoop-ing). “But I thought no one got that anymore because… vaccines and stuff.” Well yes and no. It doesn’t spread like wildfire like it used to and it’s usually not as severe as it could have been. But, as I found out this week, even the vaccinated can get it (albeit usually in milder form) and apparently booster shots are recommended and quite often for the inoculated. One learns something new every day.
In a small school such as the one where I am vice principal (I still like saying that) a highly infectious disease can certainly make the rounds rapidly. To make a long story short… We’ve had a few more confirmed cases since the first. I haven’t heard of serious complications. I think we’ve helped maintain a sense of calm. We closed the school early on Thursday. I have personally been in close proximity to every single student and in every single classroom as have numerous faculty. Everything will be OK.
And… we’re taking precautions. My daughter had developed a cough over the past two weeks that is probably NOT pertussis but after all of this one cannot be too cautious. Today I brought her into her doctor along with my son who was also coughing. To make matters murkier there are also strains of strep and influenza going around our larger community. We haven’t seen the actual doctor in a number of years; it’s only ever his physicians assistant. I don’t mind. Although, she is always pushing flu tests on us even absent any symptoms. Today I walked in, told her the whole story, and then said, “The good news is you’ll get to do one of those swabby tests you seem to love so much.” I didn’t think of those words in terms of a “shot fired”. But I should have. The PA stared at me with a wry smile and declared, “Actually, I think the kids are probably fine in terms of whooping cough based on what you’re telling me. It’s you I’m worried about. I mean, you’re standing here obviously tired, haggard, you know. I can tell you’re run down.”
Before we’d left the office the kids had been tested for every airborne illness known to man. Yours truly? I dragged my “tired and haggard” parts out of there with my head hung low. On my way to the car I passed a raccoon digging through a dumpster. I took a good look to see if the dark circles under his eyes looked better than mine before Googling whether my insurance would cover botox injections.
I came home and returned to my lovely and unexpected Friday off. Lately I’ve been watching a few things here and there. There are the Youtube videos about aviation, engineering, and all the many JFK conspiracies. And then there’s Netflix. I decided to do a one-month trial in order to watch the third season of The Crown. I can’t help it. If it’s about the Royals I’ll probably watch. If it’s written well I’ll definitely watch. Maybe it’s my British ancestry coming through and manifesting itself in my TV viewing habits; but I simply cannot turn away from the train wreck that is the House of Hanover Windsor.
In particular I have have been fascinated to learn more about the life of the late Princess Margaret, the only sibling of Queen Elizabeth. Brilliantly portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter, Margaret is a troubled figure. Denied the opportunity to marry her first love, Peter Townsend, she ultimately found solace in photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. For the moment, overlook the fact that Townsend was already married. Oops, forgot that detail while trying to make her a sympathetic character. Never mind the fact that she admits she thought Armstrong-Jones was gay when she first met him. Never mind the fact that she forgot about her own vows when cavorting around the world with a man half her age. I mean, come on you pesky moralist… The point is that HRH Princess Margaret was a chain-smoking gin fiend. And in this I can relate.
It is not just Netflix and Youtube that have captured my interest lately, though. Tonight my wife asked if I would accompany her to the movies. I’m not usually big on the big screen (the commercials and previews are cumbersome to me) but I do enjoy spending time with my wife. Tonight our kids rounded out the group. The flick? We saw the new Tom Hanks feature about the life of the legendary Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers is, undoubtedly, an American icon. I must admit that as a kid I didn’t care much for Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. I found it kind of slow and boring and Rogers’ hyper-gentle personality to be a drag. In fact, the only times I enjoyed watching his show was when he left his studio and went on location. I still remember vividly the time he went to the Crayola factory. Then again, those episodes played out more like a Youtube video on engineering.
But as I grew I came to understand the value in what he was doing, even if it wasn’t quite my speed. As a teacher I can appreciate his work with children. As I came to learn more about his personal life I really came to sense that he was a genuine man who loved what he did and, more importantly, he was a man of prayer. The movie we saw tonight brought into focus the fact that he was a man who worked every day on trying to do what he saw as God’s work, laboring – sometimes with great difficulty – on the virtues of patience, humility, and gentleness. In many ways I can relate. In my own life and career as a teacher and vice principal I try to exemplify these same virtues. It seems odd sometimes. One tends to think of the vice principal of a school as the stern disciplinarian, something I definitely am not. Forgetting the fact that “vice” is right in the title, I see my job as someone called to help young men and women find and then stay on the path of virtue. If that comes in the form of reminding them of our dress code or making sure they are in class then I need to do that without personal animosity. Look, I will be me. I will let God work His discipline through the personality He gave me. I’ve never been an ogre and I’m not going to start now. Learning from Mr. Rogers I will focus more on prayer for specific people every day and continue to help my students in kindness and humility.
Lately I have been contemplating who I am. I don’t mean in the “existential crisis” sort of way. But I’ll be turning older soon. It’s only natural to take stock of one’s life when one reaches 30. Having done that many years ago I decided to take stock once again. God has bestowed many blessings on me. Whether I realize it or not; whether I like it or not, He made me who I am. I am soft-spoken and somehow I command the attention of dozens of teenagers. I get no sleep and yet somehow I’ve remained immune to most diseases. I doubt myself all the time and yet somehow I’ve been able to help my students find confidence in God’s Will for them.
As we came home from the theater my children fought with each other, almost coming to blows over some silly squabble. Calmly and with the gentlest tone I diffused the tension. I saw them off to bed, poured myself a gin and tonic, stepped out onto my porch and lit a Marlboro. I listened to the sounds of my kids coughing themselves to sleep. I yawned. And I thought of how wonderful God is and how wonderfully He made me…
…a cross between Princess Margaret, Fred Rogers, and a raccoon.
I came home from what is more and more the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had and got to work on a carpentry project I’m working on for Christmas. Take a gander.
I’m not great by any means but I’ve been taking stock lately of a few things. The thing I would most like to be proud of in my life is my vocation as husband and father. On that front all I can say is I am trying every day. I am a teacher and vice principal. After my family, in my adult life, few other things have brought me such joy. I am a writer who has never claimed to be much good although I do know my way around a few decent turns of phrase. I am a man who likes to challenge himself in the gym, not stopping or giving up until I’m satisfied. I will probably never be satisfied and that is just OK with me. It simply means I will always be challenging myself. And I think that goes for every aspect of my life.
On the writing front in particular, I have been reading old posts to my children. It is fun rediscovering our life together; but not nearly as much fun as seeing the joy and hearing the laughter from my children who really get a kick out of my writing. Also on that front, I have noticed that I have at seven separate times in the past few months started writing new posts only to save them as drafts. Perhaps I will one by one finish each post and publish them. I might even provide context.
Until then, the family is beautiful, school is wonderful, I am building back up in the gym and getting stronger, and Baby Jesus has a comfortable place to sleep in my garage.￼￼
There is in my home tonight a great excitement that has built. I’ve been doing this teaching thing for a long time but the first day of school (the one with the kids and not just in-service meetings) is always a terrific time for me. This year it’s a bit different. Having walked away from education a couple of years ago this is my first “first day of school” in 2 years. And even though I started working at this school in January it wasn’t quite the same, jumping in mid-year. This year I am the vice principal. This year my nine year-old daughter (she of broken wrist fame) is joining me at this school. This year Netflix will hopefully release season 3 of The Crown but that might just be wishful thinking.
Tonight my sweet little girl and I ate dinner and then began what I hope to be a nightly ritual. We packed our lunches together. I still can’t believe how fortunate I am. All parents are the primary educators of their children. But I get to do it in a very real way. Short of homeschooling this is a great option for me. It combines two things I love – teaching and my kids. I can’t wait to drop by her table in the cafeteria and drop dad jokes on her and her friends. She’s a little nervous but she’s also excited and I think she’s happy because what other little girl gets to bring her awesome dad to school every day?
Speaking of the broken-boned one, we picked up her new eyeglasses today. Before getting out of the car at the ophthalmologist my daughter asked ever so kindly if I could help put pants on her stuffed bear. I don’t even ask anymore. But the cast was getting in her way. I may not be the best dad but I try as evidenced by the picture she took.
The tail has to go through the hole. Don’t ask.
After packing lunch we gathered her uniform and I ironed her shirt and mine. Then she brushed her teeth as best as she can with that cast on and I read her a book before watching her drift off to sleep. This is going to be awesome. My wife and son? They were out shopping, buying us a big bag of fun things to keep in my office like Twizzlers and protein bars. I didn’t see any pony bottles of gin but that might come later.
I got myself a “nun Bell” for recess!
Speaking of my son… I’ve been prepping mentally that I should probably deliver some kind of father-son talk to him one of these days. He’s 11 and it certainly seems appropriate. The only thing is how to do it. I prayed about it and discovered a wonderful (if not someone older) book called Listen Son. The book, written by Cardinal Stritch (yes, Elaine Stritch’s Uncle) in 1952, is a series of conversations between a father and his son. What I like is that it presents the facts in a straightforward way while focusing on the virtues of manliness, chastity, and honor. I can work with this.
Tonight I came in from grabbing a smoke on the porch and son asked “Daddy will you read to me tonight? I don’t care what it is.” Perfect opportunity, I thought. So I grabbed the book and sat down with him. Two things happened.
First, about mid-way through the first instruction my son stopped me and said “It sure sounds like you’re reading a script.” Perceptive, that boy. In fact it kind of is a script. I brushed it off by saying “Yes, son, this is an important topic and I want to get it right for your sake.”
Second, I concluded with the line “remember that what we will discuss is sacred and does not need to be talked about with others.”
For some reason at this point the boy asked “Where’d you get this book.” And without missing a beat and with as much honesty as I could muster I said “Amazon.”
We both immediately burst into laughter.
“A sacred topic brought to you by a minimum wage factory worker,” replied my son.
Well I’ll tell you what I didn’t do. I didn’t write much at all. I have my reasons. Lots going on this summer; and usually that’s a recipe for more writing. But this summer was different.
I could say that a lot of what was going on was travel. If you read my last few posts a couple of months ago you know that we were well on our way to another amazing family road trip. And one day I promise to write all about that from the spot right where I left off. The Big Apple, the Garden State, my time at “Relaxation House and Spa” (AKA: my sister’s house in central PA), the rolling Blue Ridge foothills of Northern Virginia, a wedding, a long return drive through a place that is nowhere along the route home (Peoria, IL?), a journey down old Route 66, home again… And that was just us getting started with an incredible time for me and the kids (and my wife when she wasn’t buried in work). A few days later my wife and I set out for Southern California for another wedding, a major earthquake, some Hollywood sightseeing, and another trip home. A few days later my wife set out back to Virginia for a funeral and more work. Then a week and a half later and she returned to California for a vacation with some old friends while I entertained one of my nephews with his cousins (my kids). And like that, summer’s over. But I won’t say it was any of that.
I could say it was the near 1,000 degree heat and high humidity to which I have NEVER become accustomed. The stickiness of this literal hot mess slows down every molecule in the deep south to where typing out a few sentences is a major undertaking. It’s why we sit on our porches and drink gin. I did a decent amount of that this summer which also contributed to my bronzed appearance. I saw an old friend yesterday. We seem to lay eyes on each other about once a year despite living 4 miles apart. He noticed the tan. Some might say skipping sunblock is probably bad but it’s how I get my Vitamin D. And I’ve soaked in about as much as nature will allow. And like that, summer’s over. But I won’t say it was any of that.
I could say it was physical in nature; that I spent hours each day jumping rope shirtless (see tan above) outside, sweating bullets, hoping to see the slightest reduction in body fat percentage For the benefit of my fused spine. I also lifted weights, did a bunch of HIIT cardio, and a few other things just for fun. You’re probably wondering why I mentioned my lack of upper body clothing. Well, it’s funny you should ask. I have really come to rise above my self and my natural laziness and aversion to hard, physical work over the past few years. And something about stepping outside into the hot Texas sun and sweating everything I’ve got is incredibly rewarding. Unfortunately I still hate wearing sweat-soaked clothes. Since I can’t workout in public without shorts I opt to ditch the shirt. I promise it’s not a vanity thing. There’s not much to be vain about. But I mention this fact in particular because while entertaining that nephew I mentioned I traveled with him to stay at a friend’s house in Austin for the weekend. He wanted to workout with me so we bought a jumprope and some gym shorts at Walmart, stepped out onto our friend’s patio, and I trained him – a strapping young fireman – in the finer points of jumping rope. He was learning how to master the classic boxer skip; I was racing through double and triple-unders. My friend in who’s house we were staying texted and asked what we were doing. Her next door neighbor, unaware that we were houseguests or who we even were, texted my friend (the homeowner) to ask why two studly shirtless dudes were jumping rope on her patio while she was in Napa with my wife. Did I mention that I only had one rope and so my nephew and I took turns with it, and that while one of us had the rope the other simply jumped in place? It must have been a strange sight indeed. So I worked out like a beast all summer. And like that, summer’s over. But I won’t say it was any of that.
In fact it might have been a combination of ALL of that and it might have been NONE of that at all. Part of it is that I’ve been living life with my kids, knowing I could continue to chronicle this life of ours a little later. True I don’t like to wait too much longer lest I start to forget details or the stories don’t sound as incredible. But there’s something to actually living it and then writing it down. Not everything needs to be documented in the moment. And we’re still here and still fine. My wife has been beyond occupied by her job, traveling a full quarter of every month away from us and the kids and I have had to learn to adjust to that. It’s not ideal but we’re managing to have fun together even though we miss her terribly. We’re kind of developing our own groove in our communication and our interactions. I went back and read old posts from when the kids were babies. It’s funny that now we have inside jokes with each other, we sneak in “Dad-treats” to get ice cream, and play games. And Dad tries to keep them on track with their chores, hopefully inspiring them to help keep our house a home. And when Mommmy gets home we all breathe a sigh of relief because everything is back to normal. So it was some of that.
But perhaps the biggest reason I haven’t written in a while is that I’ve been on a quest of late to re-tool my digital footprint. One way to do this is to step away from blogging for a bit, trying to rediscover why I started writing in the first place. Toward that end I’ve spent months re-reading the old stuff and getting a good laugh. I’m happy to say my style hasn’t changed much. I think I’ve become a better writer but the old stuff was still good – and some of it even still makes me laugh very hard. There was the dark summer last year where I wrote so many memories of my time in McCarrick’s seminary; stories I eventually took down so I could organize them into a book, a book that will come eventually. Mentally recovering from that mess was some of it too. I spent about a year reading every single article, watching every Youtube clip, searching out news, caught up in one of the darkest scandals in Church history. After a while, it’s time to just stop and reflect. And I did. I’ll still write about it, the truth; but I need to write about my blessings too. And speaking of social media, I deleted my Facebook after 12 years. Now that’s another story for another day. I’ll say that a friend of mine commented right before I pulled the plug that “I’d be back”. He’s probably right but when I am back it will be right for me, on my terms, as a platform to stay in touch with family and people with whom I am actually friends in real life. I think I know how to do it to. So was that any of it?
What did I do this summer? Man alive, what didn’t I do this summer? School’s starting next week. I’m so ready to have my kiddos back. I’m a teacher. If they didn’t return to me every year around this time I’d be talking to an empty room for an hour at a clip because I kind of have to teach. Say a prayer for all of us.
I’m thankful for this summer, thankful God gave me this time with my kids, this time truly to miss my wife, thankful for gainful employment (hers and mine), thankful for returning students, for travel, strange roadside attractions and the St. Louis Arch, thankful for a gift of writing, and thankful for all of you who read.
My dad was fond of telling that old joke when I was growing up. In reality, I like some of Kipling’s work. The Just So Stories come to mind. But the focus on Kipling was not why I repeated it here. I opened Facebook this morning and saw a picture of my father (with my mom and me) and for some reason I thought of that line. Still that joke must have made an impact on me. Every now and then my son will turn to me and ask: “Daddy, do you like… Kipling?” We both laugh like little kids.
Where were we my faithful follower? Ah yes, I broke my back. I don’t want to beat a dead horse. That wouldn’t be fair to the horse and simply a desecration of its body. But this is significant. First, it hurts. Second, it really hurts. Finally, it hurts a lot.
Let’s get caught up, shall we?
Determined to do hard things I realized that lifting heavy weights wasn’t enough so I started doing bizarre gymnastics-like things called calisthenics then my wife went out of town and I gave in to the whims of my children and, having prayed to share in the Passion of Christ, did a frontal flip on a trampoline at the age of 41 with two spinal fusions under my belt (literally), and broke my back. This was followed up with a visit to an urgent care facility wherein two pit bulls had been shot and killed by police earlier in the day after mauling their owner to death. That sound about right?
In my last post I quipped that I must be pretty tough that I went almost 24 hours without treating it before being seen. You see, although I probably get my love of dad jokes from my dad (go figure) I think I definitely get my grit (if you can call it that) from my mom. I still vividly remember her when I was a child and a fall from a second story window in a house fire had left her in traction for weeks. She willed herself to get out of that hospital because, as she said: “I had kids at home to take care of. What was I gonna’ do? Lie there forever?”
This morning I walked into my classroom and was greeted by 18 of the happiest faces you could hope to see at 8:45 in the morning. They rose to their feet (as they always do, they’re very polite) and said good morning. Then, having already heard through the grapevine that I was injured they began asking with mouths wide open how it was possible that I was with them. I told my story.
Then it was on to my senior class who literally bowed down for me when I came in. They informed me that two of their classmates were out sick because they “didn’t feel well today”. They then told me they would be texting those two to inform them the the “legend” (their teacher) was a machine, a beast, and the most incredible human being they’d known because he didn’t let no broken back stop him from getting to work.
“Kids,” I said, “I had to demonstrate my toughness for you.” It’s an old teacher trick.
The juniors were last and just as mystified as to my presence. “Kids,” I said, “Who else was going to come in here today and have as much fun with you as me?” They appreciated my being there as much as I appreciated their presence. One of them in particular, an athlete, picked up on my fear of getting soft over the next few weeks. He offered me some advice on exercises I could do and diet tricks to keep in mind during the time when I wouldn’t be able to lift. Nice young man.
Back to the doctor’s office on Saturday, the doctor who came in to speak with me after looking at my X-ray asked me “Do you, um, like, do you lift weights or anything?” I gave a bit of a smirk, nodded my head, and said “Yes, yes I do.” “That’s what I figured,” she said. “It probably saved you.” She had just spoken with the neurologist on the phone because she was concerned with where the break was. It seems that a break like mine could easily have left my paralyzed but for my brute physical strength and charm. I tossed the “charm” in there for fun. But really, being in decent shape allowed me to thrust myself out of the dangerous position I was in and I’m glad that I can see a payoff for all the hours in the gym.
Tonight I’m back out making pick-ups and deliveries as part of my courier job. I’m hoping none of the parcels tonight are particularly heavy but as I previously stated “for everything else, there’s Percocet.”
I think Dad would be proud. I didn’t let a little thing like a broken bone get in the way of continuing to do what I need to do for my family. He taught me well. And Mom? Do I even have to ask? I think she’s probably wondering why it’s even a thing. After all, if memory serves, she broke several vertebrae in that fall. She’s probably reading this and thinking “When’s he gonna’ shut up about it? It was one bone!”
And my kids? Well, one day we’ll determine if we actually like Kipling.
Folks, I got off all that social media nonsense a while ago. Sorry but I'm not on Twitbook, Facepalm, YouHu, WingWang or any of the others. Maybe an event will happen to make me change my mind like Peter and Paul coming down with flaming swords and commanding it be so. Until then, read the blog and if you feel a comment is in order or you feel like sharing a tip or suggestion for a topic, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harvey is a funny, witty and interesting read. Want to know what's going on in the world of Harvey? Then make a point to subscribe to his blog! You just never know when those pesky Weebles will show up. Hmmm, speaking of Weebles - haven't heard from them in a while (wink). Seriously, you just never know what to expect and whatever you find, it never disappoints! -- Debbi Robertson @ Photos and Facets