Welcome 2017!

Whew!  Christmas has come and gone, and the New Year has arrived.

Here’s random sampling of some pictures from our holiday season…

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We did two Thanksgiving!  This is a sporting event that I suggest you properly train for.  We have perfected it over the years.  😉

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Plus a few more…img_4410img_4415img_4424img_4431img_4466img_4474img_4487img_4492img_4494img_4504

We are day 4 of snow, and I am so thankful to be home {except for an urgent care doctor trip + a library visit} with these people!  The Mr. had to work both weekdays, but he played it up with Holden over the weekend (and celebrated his 32 birthday!).  I just got the call that schools are closed tomorrow as well.  I know we will have to make it up in some form…I just love this unexpected time off!

2016 was quite a year!  Holden turned four, started Pre-K, played two soccer seasons, did awesome at swimming, and just plain grew a ton before our eyes!  We can’t forget the addition of sweet Helen Elizabeth back in April 2016.  She’s such a blessing, and we are all over the moon for our little girl.  She is small but quite strong in body and spirit!  🙂

I didn’t do any resolutions directly on January 1, but I have done some thinking about it and some areas that I would like to improve upon.

  1. Gossip ~ Isn’t this just a the hardest?!  It’s not like you are stealing, killing, etc. BUT it can steal your joy, and it can kill others’ happiness.  I find this one hard, because I do actually like to talk although I’m not really outgoing with a large social circle.  I really want to make the effort and succeed to not talk about others in a negative light EVEN if it’s just recounting facts (which is how I usually validate it to myself).
  2. Respecting My Husband ~  Whew!  This is a tough one as well.  I do feel like I respect the Mr.  HOWEVER, I tend to not do the best job that I could.  I must accept that I married an imperfect man (just as he married a very imperfect woman) who cannot give me everything that I need and want at exactly every moment of the day.  Just as I cannot do that for him.  The really struggle is when he corrects Holden.  This is a very tough one.  I really feel like parenting/education/kids is MY area.  I’m the expert.  Sounds a bit prideful, huh?  Although I would say I have put lots of time and effort into this area, I want to handle disagreements or critiques of how he handles situations for a time when we can talk about it one-on-one.  It is my hope that this will make us more productive parents and more on-the-same-page.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Ephesians 4:29

“God doesn’t want me to be a ‘fix him’ wife, God wants me to be a ‘love him’ wife.”

– Lysa TerKeurst

“My husband is one of my greatest blessings from God. His love is a gift that I open everyday.”

– Darlene Schacht

Do you make resolutions?  What is your favorite holiday, Christmas v. Thanksgiving?

Do you decorate for Valentine’s Day?

Happy Tuesday!

We Meet Santa!

Hi there!  Wow, it was a full weekend followed by a very busy Monday.  My mom came into town on Friday evening, and we were all very excited to have her stay.  The Mr. left to go hunting VERY early on Saturday morning.  I also was up and at ’em early on Saturday to help serve breakfast at our church’s winter shelter for those who are homeless in our area.  It was an experience I hope we can share as a family once the kids are older.  I think we tend to label and put ourselves (and others) in categories.  As humans, it soothes us to organize our existence and make sense of our environment and those in it.  I think we (meaning me too) forget that we all have more in common than we think.  The people I served early on Saturday morning were just people whose circumstances are different from mine.  There were some morning-people, some cranky people, some polite people (actually no rude people), just people.  I’m very thankful for the experience.

So…after my early morning activities I picked up my mom and kids to head to the Breakfast with Santa event at my school.  It was so low-key!  It was the perfect recipe for a casual conversation with this guy…

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They both did great!  Holden asked Santa for a Captain America costume…Helen just chilled on his lap!  No spit-up and no tears!

I got to see a few students and introduce them to my kids.  We also visited the book fair, and Holden purchased a book for himself and one to give his sister for Christmas.

After a quick pit stop at home to pick up my sister, we were off for lunch at Dish.  This was a fun restaurant in Virginia Beach…”Scandinavian specialties along with our great American favorites.”  -from the website

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My delicious smoked salmon sandwich with avocado pictured below!

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We ended our celebration (it was my early birthday celebration!) with a visit to The Royal Chocolate in Town Center for fondue.  IMG_4370.jpg

I think it’s clear that Holden was excited.  🙂

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We were so full we hardly ate dinner later that evening!

Sunday was super quiet.  We (the kids and me) staying home all day except for a walk to the park.  I really hate missing church especially during Advent, but Helen is quite a wiggle worm during worship service.  I think we need to take the plunge and drop her off in the church nursery for worship service.  Clingy mom and baby problems!

Here’s Holden doing some crafting on Sunday…

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We were so glad to see the Mr. on Sunday evening…he came home with two deer!  Lots of venison in our future!

Monday was back to work/school, but we enjoyed seeing Holden perform at his Christmas program.  The Mr. was on “dad cam” duty with the pictures, but I did snap this one of the three spectators (Moochie and Poppy were present but not pictured…we were so glad they joined us!)…what do you think of the Mr.’s face?!?

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Whew!  I can’t believe it’s only Monday evening!  I’ve got THREE meetings this week plus just regular school stuff.  I can almost taste winter break AND am so excited!

My Christmas fun list still has cookie baking and some Rudolph watching on it.  🙂  What are you looking forward to in the Christmas celebration season?

Have a great week!

Natalie

 

5 for Friday (Catch-up Edition)

Whoa!  It’s a crazy day!  I’m actually writing a blog post!!!  The perpetual excuse is I’ve been WAY too busy.  It seems like every moment is scheduled or that I’m absolutely exhausted I do have a moment (and therefore immobilized by all the many other moments of the day).  I can only give credit to this post due to my day off yesterday.  So let’s jump into my 5 things on my mind this Friday….

{ONE}

Yesterday was surprisingly hectic since it was a day off.  I joined big H’s class at a holiday performance at a local theater.  It was a family theater group, so adorable (and very talented kids) little ones were actually a part of the action.  Unfortunately, chaperones had to drive themselves.  I like to ride the bus with kids!  It lets me get to know all the classmates that H mentions at home.  Although it was a lot of sitting for those little bodies (3 hours! by the time they were dismissed), they did a great job!  I think the fake snow machine, Elsa signing “Let It Go,” and a couple visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus helped.  😉  No photography was allowed during the performance, but I snapped this pic prior to it.

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Our faces were all red from the reflection of the light off the curtains.  H was very inquisitive about this, so we had a little mini science lesson while we waited.  Anything to keep him occupied!

{TWO}

I’m so thankful soccer is over!  I know that may be terrible to say, but I’m actually thankful it gets dark earlier.  We start settling down sooner (aka I may have put my PJs on BEFORE 5 pm one night this week).  He had a great season that wrapped up in mid-November.  While we were waiting at the performance yesterday, I asked him what it was going to be for the spring, try T-ball or soccer again.  He said, “Soccer!”

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H’s fan club pictured below…

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{THREE}

I’m looking forward to a visit from my mom this weekend.  We are taking the Hs to see Santa at my school bright and early tomorrow morning AND trying a new restaurant for my birthday.  We’ll have the littles in tow since the Mr. is in hot pursuit of a deer.  We always have a good time!  My mom, sister, and I took a little day trip back in November to Lee Hall (family home of Robert E. Lee and former plantation home outside of Richmond, Virginia).  We also enjoyed lunch and a wine tasting at the nearby winery.  It was such a beautiful fall day and fun to be with them without little people in tow!

My mom and sister

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This side of the house faced the James River

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My mom and I

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{THREE}

Helen is 9 months tomorrow!  I’m so happy that she is growing (although I confess to wanting to weigh her CONSTANTLY!)  and developing!  Plus, I’m excited to be coming to the last leg of breastfeeding.  Here’s a few pictures of our baby girl!

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{FOUR}

We took the kids to the Garden of Lights at the Norfolk Botanical Garden this weekend.  It is always so beautiful and a tradition we have done since Holden was 1.  My lap and hands were full with Miss Helen while we were going through the lights, but I had the Mr. take a few while we were waiting…You can definitely tell Helen is growing!  Look at those high-water pants!

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{FIVE}

I’m so excited for Christmas vacation this year!  We are spending our very first Christmas at home in exactly 10 Christmas of living in our home aka two apartments and two houses total.  We are doing a Christmas Eve dinner that will follow our church’s Christmas pageant.  Holden will be a shepherd most likely.  All my motherly dreams are fulfilled!  I’ll see my number 1 baby in a Christmas performance!  I’ll also use fancy dishes that haven’t seen the light of day in my home!  My Christmas is fulfilled already!  The Mr. is going to be in charge of the meat, and I’m in charge of the sides.  I’m not sure he’s totally OK with this.  He’s rather partial to my mom’s cooking and a bit skeptical of the new dishes I want to try.  However, I’m standing my ground and new dishes we shall try.  Can’t wait to be off from work and spend time with these guys with no schedule (sort-of…if you know me personally, you know we’ll have some type of schedule going on!)!

Advent wreath making at church

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Decorating the trees!  We have two this year.  One has our sentimental ornaments on it plus some other pretty ones.  That’s our real one.  The fake on has the old ornaments of my grandmother and the Mr.’s grandmother.  These are all the glass/delicate ones.

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Well, there you have it!  A quick catch-up from the past month + some!  I hope you have the best Friday!  Only 16 days until Christmas!  🙂

Natalie

Dropping Off the Planet + Life Lately

Hi there!  Wow, fall is super busy for me!  I know some people just love this season, but it is always just too much of EVERYTHING for me after the relaxed pace of summer.  Hence…no posts since late September!  It’s like I just fall off the planet until about holiday time.  I bet other teachers would agree with me.  Things don’t seem to smooth out until Halloween.  Well, what is all this busy-ness we’ve been up to you may ask???

Helen’s been chilling at daycare…

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Holden’s been playing soccer…1 practice and 1 game a week except for our rainy spells.  I get to hang out with Miss Lovely on the sidelines.  Thankfully, we’ve had mostly warm weather which is good considering the 5 o’clock practice time.

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He built a fire truck and saw lots of firemen with their fire truck at the Home Depot Kids’ Workshop on one rainy Saturday.  We were glad to have C-Pa and Meme join us for this Saturday fun which also included PIZZA!IMG_4197.jpg

We all went to the Neptune Festival at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.  Although no purchases were made (lots of art and artisans there), Holden score lots of free loot.

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He only tortured his sister slightly with it…

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I got a bang trim to prepare for my sis-in-law’s wedding which is THIS WEEKEND!  Can’t believe it’s almost here!

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I’ve still been doing running/working out when I can.   I signed up for a 5K the Saturday after Thanksgiving to keep me motivated.  I’m looking forward to a fast, short race.

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I got to do a trail run recently, and it was wonderful.  I just ran for enjoyment – not time or distance.  Saw lots of pretty scenery and just basically soothed my soul!

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until this happened…

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I tried to jump up on a fallen tree blocking the trail.  I was coming from downhill and didn’t have enough forward momentum.  Took a tumble!  Don’t worry…I eventually made it over after a couple of similar attempts.  It is still a quite lovely scabby mess.

We experienced some of Hurricane Matthew and lost power for a little over 24 hours.

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Lots of dog cuddling…

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I baked the above “chocolate cake” in the toaster oven on our one cord coming from the generator.

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Hunting season has started for the Mr., so we are doing our best to tough it out without him.  I think we did pretty OK.  I had my right-hand-boy with me while grocery shopping last Saturday.

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Aren’t those kid-sized carts adorable?!?!  He is such a big helper!

 

What’s Up Wednesday

Happy hump day!  This week is absolutely flying by!  I feel like October will have come and gone before I can turn around!  I’m linking up with Shay, Mel, and Sheafer.  Here’s “What’s Up” with us…

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What We’re Eating…

Lots of wraps!  I have had a almond butter, raisin, agave syrup and banana whole wheat wrap three mornings in a row!  I bought a big pack of wraps from Trader Joe’s to make veggie wraps for lunch last weekend.

What I’m Reminiscing About…

Previous falls!  I love these pictures of Holden taken at the annual CHKD Make-a-Scarecrow.  ❤

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Here’s this year’s!

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What I’m Loving…

Catching up with my mom twice this week.  This is a big deal since I don’t live around the corner.  She came and stayed with us on Saturday, and she stopped by with my dad this evening on their way back from an appointment.  So nice to have a little talking time that does not involve a cell phone!

What We’ve Been Up To…(and Sort-of What I’m Dreading…)

For me, it’s been work, home life, sleep, repeat.  I have started going to the gym in the mornings two days a week.  It’s a little challenging find that time to workout for myself with two little ones in the afternoon.  Thankfully, the Mr. is super helpful, and he gets both kids up and going in the morning.  Love him!  Holden has been up to some soccer, lots of “creations” aka making things out of stuff in the recycling bin, and all sorts of fall-themed activities at his preschool.  Helen is eating solid food(!).  She’s had rice cereal, bananas, and avocados.  Bananas are her favorite.  Shocking, right?  The Mr. is heavily anticipating hunting season.  I’m happy for him, BUT I do really miss him when he’s off on those adventures.  Check out these funny e-cards (all from Pinterest) below…

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What I’m Working On…

Feeding Helen solid foods!  I take my food prep, children’s food, etc. very seriously.  I’ve been making all sorts of food (sweet potato, pear, banana, avocado).  I hope to do some winter squash this weekend.

What I’m Excited About…

I’m actually excited about decorating for Halloween this weekend AND our costumes this year.  Holden decided on “Indian!” and we’re all following along.  The Mr. is still saying that’s a big N-O to him dressing up.  However, I hold out hope.  We are making Holden’s, but I did buy him a little bow and arrow and a brown shirt.  We’re going to make him an Indian vest out of a paper grocery bag.  I so loved doing this as a kid!  Have no clue why we did it, but I vividly remember it.  I also got elastic headbands (and a brown onesie for Helen) for both kids that I plan to hot glue feathers to.  Here’s Crayola’s advice on how to do it.  

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What I’m Watching/Reading…

I did watch the presidential debate and instantly felt like an informed citizen (If you know me, you know this is a lie.  I’m usually clueless about current events).  I just finished Beautiful Day.  I would recommend it if you like an easy read with lots of family drama that isn’t your own!  I love the setting, Nantucket!

What I’m Listening To…

I jammed out to Mariah Carey’s “Hero” this morning.  So good!  I typically listen to Christian music mostly all the time.  I like this new song, Thy Will.

What I’m Wearing…

I’m still sporting all my summer clothes.  It really doesn’t feel like fall here yet with temps mostly in the 80s.  I feel like I need to be wearing rain boots all the time.  We had so much rain last week that school was closed on Wednesday and 2 hours late on Thursday due to flooding.  I kind of want this trucker hat…why does a hat cost 20 bucks?!?!

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What I’m Doing this Weekend…

Cleaning, Soccer Game, Visiting with the Hs’ C-Pa and Meme, finishing up Sunday School online training, teaching Sunday School, enjoying being with my fave people, and lots of other things!  Weekends are busy!

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month…

  • my sister-in-law’s wedding
  • Halloween and Granny’s visit
  • some teacher work days plus Veteran’s Day off with my babes
  • cool breezes
  • some runs before it gets chilly out there (I’m such a baby when it comes to running outside in cold weather!)

What Else is New…

Not much!  I will say my attitude is new this week.  I’ve been really trying to focus on gratitude, finding as much joy in the day as I can, and just being super thankful for all that God has given me.  I want to treasure all these blessings and use/tend them the best I can.

Hope your day has been a good one!  Only two days until the weekend.  Hip-hip-hooray!

Natalie

 

 

 

 

 

Weekending

Got to hang with my girl for some extra hours on Wednesday and also a bit on Thursday morning!  Holden went to school on Wednesday.  We are way too slow moving for him.  He did get to have extra time at home with Mommy and sister on Thursday thanks to a 2 hour delay for me.

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Gosh, why do I hate Sundays?  They overwhelm me from the moment my feet hit the floor.  I absolutely hate it!  I saw this funny e-card somewhere that said “Sunday…when we try to get our whole life together in twelve hours.”  So true and so unrealistically crazy!

I think the concept of Sunday as a day of rest is a wonderful idea.  However, Mommy and Daddy have to go to real jobs on Monday morning.  All the home jobs have to get done some time.  I can tell you that Monday afternoon at about 4:45 is probably not going to work for us (or 5:45ish in the case of the Mr.’s arrival at home).  So anwayyyy!  I obviously got a bit bogged down in the Sunday workday blues, but I/we had a wonderful weekend.  Nothing but great times!

Friday – Got off early, got my teeth cleaned (no cavities!), got my blood tested (so not fun but so worth it to be able to donate milk to the local children’s hospital milk bank), took a walk with some of my favorites and went to bed early

Saturday – ran ran ran in the morning after giving Hellie Bellie her first taste of bananas.  This went better than rice cereal.  Plus, her spit-up is now delightful!  A sweet, banana smell!  My mom aka Moochie visited us for the CHKD Make-a-Scarecrow event.  We’ve done this every year since Holden was born.  All proceeds go to Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters!  We ate an early lunch at Commune…highly recommend!  Glad we got to go!  When I say it was a fast lunch, I mean it!  Holden changed into his soccer duds in the parking lot.  We picked the Mr. up on the way to the game.  Holden did great even though it was super hot at the game. P.S.  All this was done prior to 2PM.  Whew!  My mom and I left the kids with the Mr. for nap time and enjoyed fro-yo and coffee plus some grocery shopping/craft store shopping.  Love having her visit!

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Sunday – Baby food making!  So far, we’ve got bananas, avocado, pears, and sweet potato.  Helen has only had rice cereal and bananas.  Lots of freezer food!  We also took a nice walk at First Landing State Park.  It was such a great temperature and a perfect day to check out a new trail that we don’t usually take.  We came up on a nice little beach and let Holden and Roscoe (and maybe the Mr.) run wild.

Hope your weekend was a great one!  I can’t wait for another.

On a sidenote…I got stuck in the room I pump in at school this past week.  I found it hilarious, and I kind of wanted to not call anyone to help me out.  What does that say about how my work weeks have been going?  Hmmmm….The picture that I texted the Mr. below.  I was doing some slightly hysterical laughing.

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P.S.  Holden got a new bike.  He’s officially getting so tall and so big.  How is this happening!?!?  I want Helen to grow, and Holden to hold steady for a little bit.

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Weekends v. Weekdays

We are in the thick of the “weekdays” right now on this Wednesday morning.  It feels like it has been raining for 100 years, but it has really been only a full day of rain.  I woke up once for Helen and once for Holden last night.   Both times it sounded just like someone had turned a faucet on over our house!  Don’t you just hate the rain?!?!  It’s kind of cozy if you can stay home when it’s going on.  Unfortunately, that’s not what we were up to yesterday.  I have about a 30 minute drive to work in typical traffic.  Yesterday’s rain extended that quite a bit.  I just hate being late to work!  I have a hard time keeping the day going in a positive way when that happens.  Which brings me to what’s on my mind…weekends v. weekdays!

This past weekend was Holden’s first soccer game.  He loved it, and we loved watching him!  It was pretty warm with temps in the mid 80s.  The team split into two small teams, so the kids could play the whole time with no subbing.

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P.S. Boys 6 and under soccer is when things start to get a little more serious and a little more competitive!

Besides soccer, we got to attend a baptism of our old friends’ baby boy.  The Mr. was the godfather.  Doesn’t he look handsome?!  Baby and Godfather!14355539_1462250590457984_1420083822664243896_n.jpg

It was a beautiful service with lots of delicious food afterwards.  We also had a visit from Holden and Helen’s Meme and C-Pa.  This delayed nap time, so Holden was quite pleased! It was such a nice (and busy!) weekend.  I confess that Monday was not my favorite, and Tuesday was really not my favorite.  I’ve been really not feeling the work scene lately, and it’s been very noticeable.  Not to mention I’ve been pretty vocal about it!  Don’t ask me how I feel unless you REALLY want to know.

I know when I have times like this the most important thing I can do is to pray more.  Well, (sadly) I feel like I tend to pray less.  This morning I finally got myself together and spent a little time reading.  I came across this verse in Hosea 7 (verse 14).

They lie there sleepless with anxiety, but won’t ask my help.  

Instead, they worship heathen gods asking them for crops and for prosperity.

So true in my case!  I have chosen to fret and worry and obsess and just WALLOW about in my despair over working outside the home (let’s be real…there’s work inside the home too!).  Right now it seems to be my portion.  Although people say you can always change your course, I don’t feel that’s anything I can do now.  I’ve got to figure out how to make this work AND somehow enjoy it aka not be super miserable everyday.  A key part that I’ve been missing is PRAYER.  I totally have been skipping this in my life right now for worry, crying, whining, anger, and just general despair.

 So…I’m going to try to do better.  Does this seem like it’s the theme of your days?  I feel like it happens to be mine.  I am thankful for new days and fresh starts.  Even if today I may float away on the way to work.  It’s STILL raining!

Have a great hump day.

Natalie