Category Archives: WordLily

NaBloPoMo?

I offhandedly asked on Twitter a week or so ago, “Is NaBloPoMo still a thing?”

Today, being November 1, I went in search of the answer to the question. And while the official Twitter account for the event is dormant, fallow since 2011 [November 8, they didn’t make it very far into NaBloPoMo, did they?], the answer is yes, the event lives on.

NaBloPoMo_2015

And here I am, posting.

Maybe I should take a step back. You know that November is National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), yes? The event has daughtered spin-off events galore: National Knit a Sweater Month, which I participated in last year, and National Blog Posting Month, which I took completed in 2012.

I miss blogging, and there’s lots I could talk about. I still sometimes find myself composing blog posts in my head.

I’m not officially committing, but I want to take a swing at it, NaBloPoMo 2015. Can I do it? Will you join me?

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Books that have had the most impact on me

Back in December, when the current meme of Top Ten Most Influential books was going around Facebook for the first time, I made a list but never got around to sharing it. I was just tagged (this time it says Top Ten Favorite books, but since I struggle so with choosing favorites, even in multiples, I’m going forward with the initial idea), so I’m sharing now.

This is the list I jotted down in December 2013, so it naturally doesn’t include any book I’ve read since then. And if I wrote it today, it might be different, but.

  1. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
  2. War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  3. Traveling Mercies / Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  4. Dakota by Kathleen Norris
  5. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
  6. 1984 by George Orwell
  7. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  8. The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
  9. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  10. The Reluctant Prophet by Nancy Rue
  11. A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz
  12. CS Lewis’ space trilogy / The Screwtape Letters

I’m not tagging anyone because I’m not that kind of person but also because I think nearly everyone has already done this. I’d love to see your lists, though!

Sunday Salon

I was chatting with my husband about how long it had been since we each had blogged (as one does). I was thinking it had been a month or maybe a month and a half. But come to find out? It’s been longer than two months already. Sigh. I have so many ideas for things I’d like to write about, but as I opened the blog today, to attempt to break the drought, none of them were flowing from the fingers. So we’ll try a more useless kind of unsticking, like so.

I’m reading a book that, I can hardly remember during the day. But once I get back into it each night, I enjoy it (or at least one of the two points of view). I’m about 100 pages in now, but I’m thinking I should maybe abandon it. I know we’ve talked about this before, but what’s your standard for quitting a book? I don’t usually regret the books I don’t finish, but I do sometimes get frustrated that I wasted time on a book I’ve finished. I have a draft about this, untouched for almost a year (honestly).

I want to write about my crafty pursuits (so much you haven’t seen). I want to write about picture books.

In my seemingly never-ending quest for good books for my almost 2-year-old that don’t annoy me, I rediscovered SLJ’s Top 100 Picture Books list, posted it, and started keeping a record of those we’ve read, hoping to make it through all or most of them together. We still have a long ways to go, but that’s OK. How many of them have you read?

Related: Are there any books about Easter (the real thing) that have trains, even in the background? Because the boy is still quite train-obsessed.

I’ve been intending to post a round-up of train books, too. Some are awful, but there are some that are excellent. And some in between, of course.

And then I could share what I’ve been reading. Just because I haven’t blogged doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. If you’re curious, here’s the list of what I’ve read, to tide you over.

Today, I’m sick. We’ve had so much illness in the past month or so that I’m wondering if we’ll ever be healthy again. (And how are you supposed to get better when you can’t sleep, again? I’ve never figured out how that is supposed to work.)

The weather, however, is supposed to be fantastic today. The sun is out and the high is forecast to be in the 70s. After what feels like an interminable (if lacking in snow) winter, this is most welcome.

What’s going on in your world today? Hope your day is sunny!

Best of Reading for 2013

I’m borrowing shamelessly from Trish at Love, Laughter & Insanity (who got it from Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner) so I didn’t have to come up with the questions, too. Just the answers will be enough blogging work for me these days, thank you very much.

2013 EOY book survey

1. Best Book You Read In 2013?
To Kill a Mockingbird. Lots of other great ones, but they pale in comparison to this one.

2. Book You Were Excited About and Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I wasn’t really all that underwhelmed by any books that I finished. Although Theodosia and the Serpent of Chaos was kind of annoying. And The Explanation of Everything was pretty disappointing, too, actually.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
Maybe Daystar by Kathy Tyers?

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2013?
Daystar, The Dragon’s Tooth, The Reluctant Prophet (not a 2013 read for me, though; does that count?), With a Name Like Love … And then there are the book club books; since I picked them, does that count?
:: How to Save a Life, Small Damages, Maisie Dobbs

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
• the ND Wilson one
• Robert Liparulo’s series that started with The 13th Tribe
• Also, started (but not really discovered this year): Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles books.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2013?
Harper Lee? Except my standard for declaring someone a favorite author generally includes having read more than one of their books. So. ND Wilson?

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Looks like I stayed mostly within my comfort zone for reading this year.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
The Doll / Dragon’s Tooth / Eleanor & Park

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
Um, maybe Eleanor & Park, if I pick it for book club. I only very rarely reread, but I did more in 2013 than normal, by a lot. And that’s mostly because I picked them for book club and then needed to refresh my memory before the actual discussion.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
Small Damages / How to Save a Life

11. Most memorable character in 2013?
Well, it’s hard to say it’s not Maisie Dobbs, since I’ve read like 10 books starring her, but Sherlock Holmes might be a strong contender … Oh. Also Scout Finch, and Eleanor and Park.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
To Kill a Mockingbird. Small Damages. How to Save a Life.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
To Kill a Mockingbird.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
TKAM? Me: Broken Record.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
I don’t really keep track of quotes.

16.Shortest and Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest: Man of Action is a standalone short story (87 pages); The Sign of the Four clocks in at 136 pages, according to what I can find.
Longest: Daystar (652 pages)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Eleanor and Park
Maisie Dobbs and James Compton

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You Read Previously
The Doll. Small Damages. Eleanor & Park.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
With a Name Like Love, I think.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
mystery/thriller

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
Atticus Finch?

23. Best 2013 debut you read?
I’m not even sure I read any 2013 debuts.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
Small Damages.

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
The Dragon’s Tooth

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
To Kill a Mockingbird, maybe?

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
Into the Free. Daystar. With a Name Like Love.

And then looking forward…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?
Jane Eyre
Count of Monte Cristo
Cloister Walk

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014?
The new Maisie Dobbs? Really want to get to Matthew Quick’s latest, too.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?
Actually blog, maybe? Continue clearing the TBR book case.

So what did I read in 2013? (links lead to posts)

1. The Theory of Everything by J.J. Johnson (2012)
2. The Stars Shine Bright by Sibella Giorello (2012)
3. To Far to Say Far Enough by Nancy Rue (2012)
4. Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear (2013)
5. Doors Open by Ian Rankin (2010/2008)
6. The Missing File by DA Mishani (2013)
7. The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman (2008)
8. Into the Free by Julie Cantrell (2012)
9. Seeking Unseen by Kat Heckenbach (2012) (ebook)
10. Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore (2012)
11. Dead Man’s Hand by Eddie Jones (2012)
12. A Light in the Darkness by Heather Sutherlin (2012)
13. The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo (2012)
14. Daystar by Kathy Tyers (2012)
15. Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker (2012)
16. Freeheads by Kerry Nietz (2011)
17. Placebo by Steven James (2012)
18. Cake: Love, Chickens, and a Taste of Peculiar by Joyce Magnin (2012)
19. With a Name like Love by Tess Hilmo (2011)
20. Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan (2012)
21. Soul’s Gate by James L. Rubart (2012)
22. Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins (2012)
23. The Dragon’s Tooth by ND Wilson (2011)
24. Caught by Margaret Peterson Haddix (2012) (ebook)
25. So Cold the River by Michael Koryta (2010)
26. A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans (2012) (ebook)
27. The Judgment Stone by Robert Liparulo (2013)
28. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by RL LaFevers (2007)
29. Still Midnight by Denise Mina (2009)
30. A Red Herring without Mustard by Alan Bradley (2011)
31. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1887) (ebook)
32. The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina (2011)
33. Goodness and Mercy by Patti Hill (2013) (ebook)
34. A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell (2013)
35. The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1890) (ebook)
36. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1892) (ebook)
37. Sidekicked by John David Anderson (2013)
38. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
39. The Explanation of Everything by Lauren Grodstein (2013)
40. The Doll by Taylor Stevens (2013)
41. Small Damages by Beth Kephart (2012)
42. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2013)
43. Motorcycles, Sushi & One Strange Book by Nancy Rue (2010)
44. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (2011) (reread)
45. The Drowned Vault by ND Wilson (2012)
46. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1894) (ebook)
47. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (2003) (reread)
48. The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen (2001)
49. The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen (2002)
50. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1902) (ebook)
51. Man of Action by Matt Bronleewe (2013) (ebook)

Quick Stats

Book Posts: 18 (44%) [not counting this post, oops]
E-books: 10 (20%)
Library Books: 4 (8%)
From the Shelf: 11 (21.5%)
Male/Female Ratio: 21:30 (41% : 59%)
Book Club: 3+
Fiction/Non-Fiction Ratio: 50:1 (98% : 2%)
Books Abandoned: 20

How was YOUR 2013 reading year? I’d love to hear what your favorite book of the year was.

Grandma

My grandma died this week, after two weeks in the hospital. She was 85. At her funeral, I gave the eulogy:

Whenever we were at Grandma’s house, I always woke to the smell of bacon. Was there ever a better scent to wake up to? (Especially when you’re too young to appreciate coffee — which she also had, but I didn’t yet drink.) She always fried up bacon (cooked to a crisp), and she always had Cocoa Puffs, which was a huge treat, particularly when you consider that Cheerios was considered a sugar cereal at home. Breakfast at Grandma’s was an event, and an elaborate one at that.

Mornings of bacon, eggs, and chocolate cereal morphed into afternoons around the big circular kitchen table, playing Mouse Trap or drawing. Maybe a nap by a sun-warmed window. Sometimes we went to count cows, traipsing through pastures in the Jeep, stopping to dig thistles whenever we saw one. Going out to the little house for this or that.

Amy Kramer was strong. Fiercely independent, forceful, protective.

She loved. We were greeted and bid farewell with a giant hug and a kiss. She cried as we drove away, through the gates. She gave of what she had. She often sent us home with multiple cottage cheese containers full of homemade butter.

She cared about documenting memories and marking occasions. Her camera was never far out of reach, even when cameras weren’t ubiquitous. And were expensive to operate. She sent cards for every holiday and non-holiday.

We didn’t live nearby. But when we were at the farm, she shared her life with us. She involved us in her life. We milked the cows. Used the separator. Washed the separator. We helped gather the eggs and feed the pigs. We worked in the garden (or played on the swing set), and she always showed us her flowers. We cooked all together, at the table and the large wood stove.

In some ways, she modeled a life many aspire to these days, reusing and repurposing anything that could be, living off what she had or what she could scratch from the earth. Hard work, but also rewarding.

Experts say smell is the most evocative of the five senses. While I don’t always agree, I think they might be right in this case. The soap in the bathroom. The wood stove. Coffee always percolating on said stove. Bacon every morning. The earth. Fresh milk. Well water drunk from metal tumblers.

We love you, Grandma. You will be missed.

15 months

In the tunnel

In the tunnel

His hair is the color of corn silk. So soft and shiny, and with colors ranging from white to gold to strawberry. And he has a lot of it. It’s getting long in back, but it’s still not nearly covering his forehead. He has his daddy’s widow’s peak.

He understands so much of what we say! It’s awesome watching him act on what I’ve said and begin to communicate in ways I can understand, too.

He says Dad, dog, water, food, yeah, and book (and also the EC form of pee/potty), and there/that/this (and maybe Up?). He signs all of those (except potty) plus please, cat, milk, all done, and bed / lay down. He also waves goodbye.

When asked for a kiss, he’ll lean in to *be kissed* on the forehead. He also leans in to be hugged.

Looking in the toy box

Looking in the toy box

He gets very excited when he sees an animal (including a high-pitched squeal), but he often signs the wrong cat/dog for what he’s seeing (sometimes he even signs cat for Maisie) and basically every kind of animal will be in one of these categories (the bear in We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is usually a dog, for example, and a gosling in some other book was a cat, I believe, as was the daddy long legs in The Fathers Are Coming Home).

He’s started to act out the books as I read them to him, sometimes — in Old Bear he did the climbing on each other and the jumping on the bed. In Llama Llama Hoppity-Hop he’s done several of the actions (clap, thump (which is really stomp), stretch, and he mimes jumping).

Early-morning-watching-the-ducks

When I say it’s time to change his diaper, he usually heads to the nursery to get it done, and he’ll go to his high chair when he’s hungry or when I tell him it’s time for lunch.

For the past few weeks he’s been insisting on being read to CONSTANTLY. The same book over and over, but also tons of different books. Even with a trip to the library and a few newly purchased books, I feel like my brain is melting. And not just from all the repetitious reading, but also because this means he’s requiring my attention basically ALL DAY, rather than happily playing by himself for quite a chunk of the day. He especially wants to be read to while nursing. And I’ve spent 20 minutes of him on the potty chair reading. He does pretty good with book handling these days — at least he’s not chewing on them or ripping the pages. We still mostly read board books, though. He does still get them bent backward at the spine or creased in cover or page.

He has successfully told me he needed to use the potty chair *and then actually gone* twice, once #2 and once #1. He asks other times, but we’re not catching anything those times (either we’re too slow or he’s telling us after he’s already gone or asking is just a ploy to get more concentrated reading time).

He was diagnosed with seasonal allergies last week. And he’s been working on his 2-year molars for more than a month now — although they’re still a long ways from coming in, as far as I can tell. Otherwise, he’s only lacking one eye tooth.

He still nurses at lot, although we’ve night weaned (so he doesn’t breastfeed once we’ve gone to sleep until ~6 a.m.).

He opened the lever door at the chiropractor’s office (handle there lower than the one at home). When he has keys, he uses them at a closed door to try to open it (doesn’t get it in the keyhole yet).

He’s definitely begun asserting his independence/will and will shove things/people out of his way and scream (to the extent of folded in half, face on the floor) when he doesn’t get his way.

He’s discovered a love for dipping his food.

He usually cries when Daddy leaves for work.

He loves being outside.

He has a few different car/truck noises, including vvvvvvvvvvv and ththththththththththththth. I’m pretty sure he also has some kind of barking noise, but it’s not completely clear yet.

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Fiber Arts Party debrief

Word Lily knitsWord Lily spinsSo, I had this party. I had the idea for a fiber arts party for my birthday this year, but I wanted all these people to come. And with a February birthday, I didn’t think asking people to drive and drive was a good idea. They’d end up not able to come — or stuck — and I’d end up disappointed. Instead of throwing away my plans, we just decided to move it to a time of year that usually has better, more drivable weather.

The party finally happened last weekend.

Not everyone I wanted to attend was able to make it, but we still had a really good time (as far as I can tell; I said afterward that I wasn’t able to step back and get a good perspective on everyone’s experience or the party as a whole because I was running around the entire time). Since I never took a step back from the action, though — and because the decorations didn’t really finish going up until after the party started — I don’t have good photos of all the things we did. Living in the moment, friends!

The set up /slash/ overview

I invited friends and family from near and far. All the moms were allowed to bring their children (After all, I’d have A with me!). I figured there were a few activities the older kids could do, and we’d bring toys to hopefully keep the littler ones occupied.

We had several stations with different activities. The pompom-making station was in use nearly all day. (The party went from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

I demonstrated wet felting, and quite a few people took a turn or two at the towels positioned in front of containers of hot and cold water.

A few of the girls were brave enough to attempt spinning on a drop spindle after my demonstration. My wheel got at least a small workout, but only from me.

One person learned to knit, a few others tried their hands at crochet for the first time.

We ate lunch and later had cake.

My fabulous husband made a set of giant knitting needles out of larger-than-a-broomstick dowels, and there was some rope on hand to knit with them. He also made the cake — chocolate with a peanut butter cookie layer in the middle, graced by peanut butter cream cheese frosting. It was yummy and pretty.

The decorations

Way back in January, when I started thinking of this party, I started pinning decoration ideas. Partly I was browsing for ideas, but a few of them came to me and then I found a pin to represent that.

We made a chandelier, except upon installation it changed to more of a waterfall.

chandelier, from below

The yarn … bubbles? hang from the 12-foot ceiling.

This was super messy to make. And practically required two people. You might want to wear and apron. And remove your rings. Also, we made up about 15 balloons, and we used a full two bottles of glue. So be prepared. It took awhile to get a system worked out for how to get the yarn through the paste and then out without it getting all knotted. And the instructions didn’t mention any starting points for how much yarn to use per balloon. I ended up with a range from 12 to 25 yards, I think. (And: yarn weight matters. Fingering weight yarn takes more yardage to give a similar visual coverage that can be achieved with fewer yards of a heavier yarn. It sounds like common sense, but it wasn’t included in the directions.) The first few balloons we made, we had cut too short of a yarn length.

We worked in a variety of shades of white, including creams and off-whites and winter whites and even a taupe or two. I thought the more subdued color palette would work, since the space where we hung it has bright walls.

I made pompoms, anchored them to chopsticks and stuck them in vases.

Pompom flowers of various sizes.

Pompom flowers of various sizes.

DSC_0048There are tons of pompom tutorials out there, but all the ones that used the poms as flowers seemed to require hot gluing the pom to the stem. I wanted to use our gigantic supply of plastic chopsticks, and I didn’t want to use glue, since I figured this was a more temporary installation than the chandelier/waterfall.

Instead, I left the strings I’d used to tie the pompoms long. I inserted the tip of a chopstick (thought about using bamboo skewers, too, which might have worked better on the smaller pompoms) into the center of a pom and used the long ends to firmly criss-cross down the stem a ways and ended with a knot. I just left the yarn ends, as a nod to leaves.

Also, I used little balls of yarn I had around in the bottoms of the vases to help situate the stems and give them a bit more height (the vases were taller than my stems, oops). And hey, more color!

I hung garlands of shawls on two walls.

Sarah knits plus garland of shawls

My sister learned to knit! Also, this is the best photo I have of the garlands of shawls. We were apparently having too much fun to remember to take photos.

I saw this photo of shawls on a clothesline, blowing in the breeze, in an online magazine. They were using it to showcase/introduce a knitting pattern. I thought it would be fun to replicate it with shawls I’ve made as decorations for the party. We ended up with two lines, on opposite walls, filled with shawls of all shapes, sizes and colors. (I like knitting shawls.)

DSC_0047
We hung a photo poster in a frame, kind of.

This one did double duty: We had the photo up at A’s birthday party (since it’s a photo of him, after all), and then we hung it for this party, on a wall large enough to accomodate the giant frame, too. It didn’t seem like too much of a stretch. 🙂 (For reference: The photo is 16×20.)

.

Conclusions?

I had a blast, despite the running around like crazy. (I knit and entire half a round on the sock project I brought with me.) We made a knitter and introduced a few people to crochet. Some current knitters hopefully gained some confidence in their abilities.

If you’re counting for #PinItDoIt, that’s four pins completed (in addition to the two from A’s party and the cookie one from my sign-up post, so, seven total).

There was talk of doing this again, maybe even regularly. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Thursday list

A list of randomness today, perhaps?

  1. This month is crazy busy — at least it feels that way to me right now. A’s birthday, two rounds of house guests so far and more to come, Paul‘s birthday, and my party coming up.
  2. Argh, why can I not override that backwards apostrophe in the previous item?
  3. I’m grateful for labels — like introvert — that I can wear unashamedly and that will hopefully help me communicate aspects of who I am with some new friends (who sound like they have no idea what introversion actually is); no, it doesn’t mean I hate people.
  4. I’m grateful for the rain we’ve been getting this week because hopefully it means we’ll avoid the horrible drought we experienced last summer. My sunburn from Monday is even making me less annoyed at all the days of grey and low clouds.
  5. I have books I want to review, but my thoughts are kind of muddy about them (yes, several of them), which is making it hard for me to sit down and actually write reviews. What to say? Do you experience this? How do you handle it?
  6. A’s twelfth tooth has broken through, as of this morning; might this mark an end to the fussy/clinginess? Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had to wait until these most recent two teeth are completely through, not just beginning to show themselves.
  7. I’ve completed and posted about three Pins so far, for this month’s Pin It and Do It. Since I signed up for 4-7, I think I’ll likely complete it, yay! (I don’t want to think about when the last time was that I completed a challenge within its given timeframe.)
  8. We (finally) watched Brave last night, and we were basically appalled. I know there’s some difference of opinion on this movie, but even going in with low expectations, I felt it wasn’t worthy of the name Pixar. No transcendence, no magic. Several counts against it, in my book. The best thing about it is Merida’s hair.
  9. I’m kind of stuck on knitting projects. I have been knitting, but I haven’t found a project that pulls me in, that strikes me fancy, that … isn’t boring.
  10. I learned something about myself this month that I probably should have already known. When my routine is disrupted and/or I have guests? I don’t get anything done. I love seeing people, but it takes me awhile to get back on an even keel afterward.
  11. I think winter might finally be over here, finally! Time to switch out the short sleeves for the long sleeves, pack away the snow pants, and maybe — finally — get a garden put in.
  12. I am continually drawn to nonfiction (to buy), but I rarely get around to reading it. Why is that? How do I fix it? Am I alone in this? Although I did just finish one nonfiction book, yay!
  13. Mother’s Day is coming up, and my thoughts about that day, even now that I am a mom, are complicated. Here’s one post I ran across today.

Happy Thursday, friends!