Friday, April 29, 2011

She Helped Me Become the Woman I Am Today

I was a teenager when I met Polly. She was my friend's mom, but we quickly became close. There was a time when I wasn't able to go to school because of a medical issue, and I spent most of my days at home alone. It was a very depressing time in my life. She started picking me up each Wednesday morning to go with her to Bible study.

That Bible study was one of the best things I have been involved in. It was a large group of women, ranging from young moms to grandmothers. They could have written me off as just a kid, (I was only 15) but instead they treated me like a peer. They all opened their hearts to me and accepted me into the group. I learned so much from those women during the two years I studied with them - about the Bible, and life, and marriage, and motherhood and being a woman.

Polly and I stayed close. She recommended books for me to read and encouraged me. She wrote letters of recommendation for me when I wanted to attend a summer study program, and later when I was interviewing for a job.

I got married and became a mom. She answered many of my scared, first-time mom questions, with a lot of encouragement and patience. She prayed with me and for me.

I am so thankful for Polly, and I could never begin to repay her for all of the things she taught me and ways she touched my life. She helped me become the woman I am today and I hope that one day I will be a "Polly" to someone else in my life.

Do you have a special woman in your life who has helped  or inspired you? 
_______________________________________

The Clever Girls wanted me to tell you about a woman who helped me, because with Mother's Day coming up, you have a chance to give a gift to your mother (or any special woman in your life, if you have your own "Polly", or a sister, or best friend) and at the same time help families in Haiti whose lives were changed by the 2010 earthquake. 
From 5/3 to 5/8 you can get a 15% discount off of all Heart of Haiti and Rwanda Path to Peace products by using the promocode: CLEVERGIRLS.
To view the Shop for a Better World / Heart Of Haiti collection in it's entirety (including just added items for Spring), visit: http://bit.ly/gaalFPIncome derived from sales on the Heart of Haiti site enhances an artisan’s family’s nutrition, educates children, and brings access to healthcare and dignity. 


I was selected for this very special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Want My Royal Wedding To Pop-Up

Do you remember VH1 Pop-Up Videos? I loved those when I was a kid. The only way to watch a music video. 

The other night, TLC had Charles and Diana's wedding on...in pop-up video form. Thomas and I stayed up watching it, because I missed it the first time around (not having been born yet), and it was probably the best thing I've seen all week. 

It is clear to me that all major television events should happen in pop-up video form. So much better than hearing news commentators break in over the audio to share frivolous points of information. 

I will take ALL my frivolous information in pop-up video form from now on. Thank you. 

I tell you this, because something has become painfully evident, and I must confess. 

The Royal Wedding. William and Kate. 

I held off as long as possible. When the news was first announced, I put on my haughty "who cares" face and snickered with the rest of you. I told myself that I was going to be cool. I was not going to watch that drivel. I was not going to care about the dress, or Diana's ring, or the hats -the HATS! (I love hats, I might have known right away that I was going to care about the hats), but I really was not going to care about the tiara, or the flowers, or the new Coat of Arms for the Middleton family (I know. That link totally outs me as one of the people who turned on her computer and googled "royal wedding information" today. Save me!), or the cake, or who was invited and where they would sit. I was not interested. I would not be pulled in. 

Then one little viewing of Charles and Di with the pop-up videos, and I was hooked. 

There is no fighting it. I will be watching on Friday. I will be waking up at 3am (more like, staying up until 3am) to watch the pre-ceremony commentary. I will be Ooooh-ing and Ahhhh-ing and probably laughing at at least four hats. I have even promised Kataria that at 4am I will wake her up (proving that I am, indeed, insane) to watch the ceremony with me. I will probably even drink hot tea while watching it (you know, to feel more British?). 

I am watching the Royal Wedding. 

(If only they would include pop-ups. Then it would be perfect!)

Tell me I'm not alone. 
Are you secretly planning to watch the Royal Wedding? (I promise I won't tell anyone!)


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happiness is Family

When grandparents who live far away come to visit, I spy with my little camera....

Smiles....

More smiles....


And a lot of silliness....


All of which make me very happy!


What is making you happy today?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse - April 2011 - Speaking Out Edition

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness month, and we are picking up on that in the Blog Carnival with a theme of "Speaking Out".  I love that this month, there were not only submissions specifically for the theme, but also several of the submissions in other categories involved speaking out in some way.

Many of the submissions also touch on recognizing child abuse, and what to do when you see it. It was interesting to read about this from the perspective of the child who was abused as well as from the perspective of a social worker.


Speaking Out Theme:

Marj aka Thriver from Survivors Can Thrive submitted, Take A Stand, Raise Your Hand!
She wrote: "Yes! I finally made the deadline for a blog carnival edition! And I'm so happy about the theme. I wrote this poem for a project called "The Show of Hands." The artist who started this project has since passed, but the advocacy and awareness we need to raise remains."

-Puzzled Hat from All The King's Horses submitted, Things Social Workers Investigating Possible Abuse Need to Know.
This is what speaking out is all about, not just telling our stories (which is SO important) but also educating and teaching...that is powerful. 

-Gail O'Keeffe from Survivors Healing Way submitted, The Remembering: A Legacy of Sexual Abuse.
I love to see the different ways that Gail is speaking out, and offering hope to other survivors. I relate so much to her "discovery of her real self" through journaling and writing.


-Patricia Singleton from Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker submitted, Dear Whoever You Are That Wants Me To Shut Up About Child Abuse - It Ain't Happening. So Deal With It.
She wrote: "In speaking out about incest and other forms of child abuse, I will not be silenced just because someone is uncomfortable with my choice of topics. Now as more of us are speaking out, more will become aware and can work to stop child abuse."



In The News:
-Patricia Singleton from Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker submitted, Is It True That Money Can Buy You Friends Even When You Are A Pedophile?
She wrote: "A friend on Twitter asked me to write this blog post asking Katie Couric how, as a mother, she could go to a dinner party given by an acknowledged registered sex offender."


Advocacy and Awareness:
-Lisa from Two Bears Farm and Three Cubs submitted, April is Child Abuse Prevention Month - A Social Worker's Perspective
Lisa shares the story of the first time she removed a child from her home due to abuse. 

-Astrid from A Multitude of Musings submitted, Disclosure.
She wrote: "I have a new blog, and here is my blog carnival submission for April. Comments may be triggering."
This post is in response to a commenter who wanted the author to reveal more of her personal story and details than she felt comfortable revealing. I think it is important to note that even though we, as bloggers, have chosen to share ourselves and our stories in an extremely public forum, we still have the right (and responsibility) to set boundaries and hold firm to them. This can often be a safety issue, but it is also a respect issue. 


-Patricia Singleton from Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker submitted, Post About 11-Year-Old Gang Rape Survivor.
She wrote: "We all must speak out and stop the rape of our children. We must be more than outraged. We must act to stop child abuse."


Healing and Therapy:
-Sheena from Sociology of Sheena submitted, The Least of These Things ~ Surviving vs Thriving.
Sheena talks about the difference of surviving and thriving, and why she is committed to thrive! 


-Gail O'Keeffe from Survivors Healing Way submitted, Childhood Sexual Abuse and the Myth of Silence.
I love the idea of focusing on self-care and seeking out joy as a part of the healing journey. It is so important.


-Charlene from Divergent Ramblings submitted, My Bracelet Arrived!
Charlene has been on the hunt for a bracelet that represents everything she wanted to celebrate about her healing journey.  I love all the thought and symbolism she put into this...and I also love that it can provide further opportunities to speak out and share her story when people comment on it. 


Art Therapy:
-Paul from Mind Parts submitted, My Six-Word Memoir.
 He wrote: "I came upon "six word memoirs" a couple months ago. Some people have used them as regular check-ins with themselves, and they of course change based on where you are at. I suggest others give it a try."
*Sidenote from Tracie: "Each month, Paul hosts the Expressive Arts Carnival. There is a great community over there, and if you haven't already, I would love to encourage you to check it out!"


Poetry:
-Rick Belden from Poetry, Dreams, and The Body submitted, Poetry on Video: 'Easter'
He wrote: "This is a video reading of my poem "Easter" with background and commentary."


Survivor Stories:
-Nissa from Nissalotus submitted, What To Do If You Suspect Sexual Abuse
She wrote: "This is a portion of my story to illustrate how to recognize sexual abuse and what to do."

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The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse is a monthly event. The purpose is to raise awareness about the serious issue of child abuse and to share important posts with others who may not be frequent readers of an author's blog, and expose one's work to a wider audience. There are so many wonderful bloggers who are contributing to the cause of ending and recovering from child abuse. If you, as a reader or author, know of other blogs that you find helpful, please encourage them to submit to an upcoming issue of the Carnival Against Child Abuse; and please bookmark that page so we can continue to receive high quality submissions from a wide swath of bloggers.

Many thanks to all of you who shared your hearts and stories with us, and to all of you who read the submissions and show your support. You keep this carnival, the awareness, support, and healing going each month.


To provide another way for you to stay in contact with the blog carnival and make sure you don't miss any updates, you can like the new Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse Facebook Page


Thank you for raising your voice and speaking out against child abuse in April, and all year long! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Life Is Looking Up

Happiness is that moment when dusk...

turns to night...

...and everything is still around me as I sit under the moon, look up, and watch the world change.

It is the most magical moment of the day. 
The time when thoughts held deep within the soul can be whispered aloud.

In that moment, there is a simplicity of spirit...and that makes me happy.


What is making you happy today?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eating Yummy Salad with Katarina

My family eats fast food and stuff that comes in packages. It is true. I have even tried justifying a burger by claiming that the piece of lettuce counted as a serving of vegetables, but I'm pretty sure that no one was fooled.

In order to get an actual serving of vegetables, we eat salads. Salads fulfill all of my requirements: they taste good and count as a homemade meal without having to actually cook anything, and Katarina and Thomas like them too.

I can sneak a lot of vegetables into a salad, but not tomatoes. Raw tomatoes are not my thing, and Katarina doesn't like them either (one of the powers of being a mom is influencing your kid's food choices, and where tomatoes are concerned, she has definitely picked up on the fact that I never eat them raw.)

After seeing that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend eating more tomatoes, I read about all sorts of health benefits from tomatoes.....they are good for my heart, full of potassium and lycopene, and reduce the risk of some cancers and osteoporosis, but that was not enough to get me to toss some into my salad.

When it comes to tomatoes, I'm only going to eat ones that are cooked and added to something yummy, like a Bloody Mary or salsa.

It turns out that my instinct to eat cooked tomatoes has actually been helping me all these years. Cooked and processed tomatoes have a higher level of lycopene than raw tomatoes.

Cooked tomatoes are better for me than raw tomatoes, and I should be eating them....finally a healthy food recommendation that agrees with my taste buds!


In the spirit of being healthier and eating more tomatoes, I'm going to share a recipe with you. This is dedicated to my daughter, Katarina, who also loathes raw tomatoes, but was willing to sneak some of the yummy cooked kind in a salad dressing (we had a very fun afternoon playing around in the kitchen and getting this just right)....Salad with Salsa Dressing!


Salsa Salad Dressing Ingredients:
-Hunt's Diced Tomatoes with Sweet Onions (I love the flavor that the onions add, and I really love that I don't have to chop and cook them myself, because Hunt's has done that for me!)
-Jalapeño Peppers 
-Cilantro
-Lime Juice
-Avocado
-Olive Oil (approx 1/2 cup)


You start by making salsa. Open the can of Hunt's Tomatoes and Onions and use a fork to break up the tomatoes (you could go all fancy and use a food processor, but a fork works just as well, and is easier to wash) stir in diced jalapeño peppers, cilantro and a generous splashing of lime juice (I drink my water with lime juice, so I always have a bottle in the kitchen, but you could also juice a couple of fresh limes if you have them).

Once your salsa is made, restrain yourself from opening up the tortilla chips and eating it. Smoosh in one ripe avocado and add olive oil until it reaches the consistency you like in a dressing, toss in a little salt and pepper, and you will have Salsa Salad Dressing.


Salad Ingredients:
-Baby Spinach (lettuce is fine, but my family prefers the baby spinach and I'm not going to pass on any opportunity to get Katarina to eat more spinach!)
-Yellow and Green Bell Pepper, diced
-Grated Cheese
-Grilled Chicken (I buy chicken breast that has already been grilled to make life easy, but you can also grill some chicken yourself, use steak, or leave out the meat and go vegetarian)
-1 Avocado, diced (I know there is avocado in the dressing, but you can never have too much avocado!)
-Tortilla Chips (they take the place of croutons and add some crunch)

Toss it all in a bowl, top it with your Salsa Salad Dressing, and enjoy!

This post is part of a campaign from The Motherhood and Hunt's. I was compensated for my time and creation of a recipe, and was provided some literature about tomatoes. The opinions are all mine....and the recipe belongs to me and Katarina, but feel free to use it in your kitchen, because it is yummy! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Did That Vampire Just Bite Ashton Kutcher?

A normal night at Tracie's house: Thomas and Tracie watch tv. Thomas falls asleep.
At 3am Tracie is almost asleep, or at least seriously considering going to sleep (Shhh. I am considering going to sleep......after reading just one or two more blog posts). 

Thomas suddenly wakes up! "I had a dream," he announces, "Let me tell you before I forget it." 

At which point sleep never comes.

This is one of those dreams... 


Ferris Wheel Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman not includedSetting: A Carnival.
A Small Adobe House sits across from a ride. 
In front of the ride is a table with Thomas' mom, Judy, standing behind it.

Inside the Small Adobe House, Thomas is involved in a short play with a vampire, Ashton Kutcher, and Natalie Portman. 



The vampire has stolen a ring, and it is very important for Ashton Kutcher to get it back. A fight ensues. 

Ashton Kutcher is able to get the ring from the vampire, and throws it to Natalie Portman. 

Natalie Portman runs to the window and throws the ring outside. 

Thomas steps out of the shadows and yells. He runs through the audience to go outside to find the ring. (at this point in the dream telling, he explained to me that the purpose of throwing the ring outside the window was so that carnival passerby-ers would see him run out to get the ring and get interested enough to come inside the Small Adobe House to watch the play.)

After getting the ring, Thomas runs back inside the Small Adobe house from the side door. 

Just as the vampire is about to bite Ashton Kutcher, Thomas runs toward Natalie Portman. 

The vampire notices that Thomas is holding the ring. He stops fighting Ashton Kutcher and sneaks up behind Thomas, biting him in the neck. At that moment, Ashton Kutcher jumps up and kills the vampire. The ring is safe. 

The End. 
(of the play, not the dream...the dream continues)

They continue to preform the play four more times. Thomas is getting mad because each time the vampire bites his neck, it really hurts, and he is convinced that the vampire is hurting him on purpose. 

It is now almost nighttime, but a group has gathered to see the play, so they start performance number six. 

The play is going smoothly, and Natalie Portman throws the ring out the window. 

When Thomas runs outside to get it, it is too dark.. 

After searching frantically, he yells out, "I can't find the ring". 

Judy, his mom, calls him over to her table and shows him a pewter ring that she is holding. 

He takes it from her and turns to go back to the Small Adobe House. 

Judy stops him, "That ring won't work," she says, and pulls out a flashlight. 

Thomas and Judy are using the flashlight to look at the ground. The table she was standing behind starts to grow....it grows bigger and bigger and Thomas can see that there is a creek running underneath it. 

They walk under the table. He sees the other ring, at the bottom of the creek, and grabs it out of the water. "I have two rings, now! I have two rings," he cries out. 

They walk out from under the table and he can hear Ashton Kutcher shouting from inside the Small Adobe House, "I'm dying!!"

Clutching both rings in his hand, Thomas runs in the side door. He heads toward Natalie Portman to hand her the ring and the vampire bites him. 

Thomas turns around and says, "Hey dude! That's my neck and that hurts!!!"...

The End. 
(of the dream....and possibly of my sanity)

I think I need a dream interpretation.
Or a recommendation for a good sleeping pill that will keep Thomas out for the night.
OR...maybe this is the plot for a new Kutcher/Portman movie and Thomas has some very movie-specific kind of ESP that has allowed him to see it in his dream? 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Will You Forgive Me?

Will you wonder why I couldn't take you outside to play that day?
Will you forgive me?

Will you think back and remember that time I yelled over something that was really so very small?
Will you forgive me?

Will you remember too much fast food and no homemade cookies?
Will you forgive me?

Will you see all the ways your life was different from those around you?
Will you forgive me?

Will you have to pay for the decisions I made that changed your life?
Will you forgive me?

Will you think about that time that you couldn't have a dog?
Will you forgive me?

Will you remember too much time spent watching tv?
Will you forgive me?

I wonder how we will make it through another day like this....and I wonder....Will you forgive me?

But what my heart really wants to know is.........Do I deserve your forgiveness?
#SOCsunday

This is my Sunday five minute stream of consciousness. 
More five minute posts can be found at All Things Fadra.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Petz Bunnyz Bunch Review

Last week, Ubisoft sent their new game, Petz Bunnyz Bunch, to my daughter Katarina, so she could try it out.
The official description:
In Petz Bunnyz Bunch, care for the cutest and most remarkable bunch of bunnyz. Raise them in your house and show them their new home. Teach them how to follow you when called upon, hop up on furniture, and even play music! On top of being absolutely adorable, these bunnies have personality! They know exactly what they want and know how to show you, so if you take good care of them they'll surprise you with games of hide-and-seek or other treats.
 Here are some things about the game that Katarina wants you to know.....


In the past, we have tried other Nintendo games with animals or babies that have been difficult to interact with, and ultimately frustrating. Petz Bunnyz Bunch is definitely better, it is simple to control the bunnies and Katarina hasn't needed my help to figure out how to interact with them or play the mini games. I also appreciate that it doesn't require use of the microphone to talk to the bunnies.

The only complaint that Katarina had about the game was this: "When you get to name the bunny, they don't give you enough spaces to do long names. I wanted to name one of my bunnies Snowball, but couldn't because that name was too long."

The big thing about this game is the total cuteness factor. (It is also nice to have a bunny in the house without having to clean up after it, and without having all the sneezes that a real bunny would cause me to sneeze!) Being able to customize the bunny's house, and buy different furniture and decorations with coins earned from playing mini games, is something that Katarina has really enjoyed.

Some last thoughts about the bunnies from Katarina:
"Even though you can buy more than one bunny from each breed, none of them like the same things. That makes the game interesting.

The more that you give a bunny something that it doesn't like, it will grow to like it. If you give the bunny something that it likes too often, it will get bored with it and not like it anymore, so you have to be careful.

It is fun to feed the bunnies, because they are super cute when they eat! Right now, my Mini Lop's favorite food is radishes."

Petz Bunnyz Bunch has definitely been a big hit at my house!


*While Ubisoft provided me with this game to review, the opinions I've expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Ubisoft, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.

Friday, April 08, 2011

I'm Obsessed with Nickelodeon

This week I have been here, there and everywhere. Actually, no. I've been pretty much everywhere but here...you get the point.
*********

Today, Katarina and I caught a bit of the replay of the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. Can someone explain to my why they had Kardashian sisters on stage? I understand that they are famous...but I'm pretty sure that they aren't famous for anything that kids should be watching or need to know about (hello, sex tape).

********

I walked outside my front door this week, looked up at the sky, and saw this....

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In other Nickelodeon news....I heard on the radio earlier this week (when I was everywhere but here) that Nickelodeon will be bringing back shows from the 90s on TeenNick. (Does anyone else remember the big orange couch from SNICK? Because I was just thinking about that a few weeks ago.) Apparently the network decided to do this after seeing the huge interest in the old shows on social media sites (I may or may not belong to one of those "Bring back the 90's Nick Programing" pages on Facebook).

I always say that I grew up with Nick at Nite, and only watched shows that were made before I was born (with the exception of The Wonder Years - which is the best show ever), but the truth is that I did also watch some Nickelodeon in the afternoons while waiting for my beloved Nick at Nite to come on. Hearing that some of those shows are coming back, prompted a long, in-depth conversation where I think I permanently scarred my husband by explaining in detail every Nick show that I used to love as a kid.

Am I the only one who is excited about this? Clarissa Explains It All, Hey Dude, Salute Your Shorts, Rugrats, Pete & Pete, The Secret World of Alex Mack, Doug, Are You Afraid of the Dark, and probably a few others I can't think of right now (do you have a favorite that I missed?)......Not all of my favorites are making the cut, but supposedly they are eventually going to let viewers choose shows to add to the line-up through social media (making the fact that I may or may not belong to one of those facebook pages about 90s Nick shows a little less geeky? Maybe?).

********

I have been listening to this song...



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What have you been doing this week? What have you been writing? Please leave me some links to visit, because I'm completely out of the loop of what has been happening in your lives the last couple of weeks.

You can visit Mrs.4444 for more Friday Fragments!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Another April - It Is Time To Get Involved

Teal Awareness Ribbon
If you are friends with me on facebook, you might have noticed that my profile picture changed to a teal ribbon. That is because once again, it is April (it comes around every year...about this time) and April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.




Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2011 Theme: 





Getting involved can be as simple as starting conversations. Changing your facebook picture to a teal ribbon and posting a status update about SAAM is a great way to show support for victims and survivors. Tweeting and using the hashtag #SAAM is another simple way to build awareness.

-Check out the National Sexual Violence Resource Center Calendar list of events.
-Get your Stewards of Children training or join in a Prevention Campaign with Stop It Now.
-On April 27th, you can wear Denim.
-On April 30th, you can join in a PAVE Walk to Shatter the Silence.
-Call your local rape crisis center and see if they are having an event or campaign.

If you have been the victim of sexual assault and need help, you can contact RAINN or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

If you are thinking to yourself, "Why should I get involved in this? I haven't been raped. I don't know anyone who has been assaulted or abused. This doesn't have anything to do with me," let me tell you, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before they turn 18 years old. I am one of those girls. Sexual assault and abuse is a serious epidemic, in this country, and all over the world.

Blue Awareness Ribbon
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
In 1983, April was the proclaimed the first official Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Blue Ribbon Campaign began in 1989.

There are lots of ways to get involved in Child Abuse Prevention.

It is important to remember that not all child abuse is sexual and not all child abuse is violent. If you suspect that a child is being abused, you can contact Child Help or call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD.




The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse - April Edition - Speaking Out
This month, I will be hosting the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. The theme will be "Speaking Out". This theme is an opportunity for you to share with us what speaking out means to you, or what it looks like in your life. If you are doing something special for awareness and prevention in April, we would love to hear about that as well. 


If you don't have a post relating to the theme, that is fine. We will also be accepting submissions in all of our regular categories: Survivor Stories, Advocacy and Awareness, Aftermath, Healing and Therapy, News, Poetry, and Art Therapy.


Submissions are due by Wednesday, April 20th and the carnival will be posted on Friday, April 22nd.


To submit a blog post or article, fill out the Blog Carnival submission form, or email your links and information to me directly at BlogCarnivalAgainstChildAbuse@gmail.com with "Blog Carnival Submission" in the subject line. Old posts are always welcome, and please feel free to submit more than one.
The purpose of the Carnival is to share important posts with others who may not be frequent readers of an author's blog, and expose one's work to a wider audience. There are so many wonderful bloggers who are contributing to the cause of ending and recovering from child abuse. If you, as a reader or author, know of other blogs that you find helpful, please encourage them to submit to an upcoming issue of the Carnival Against Child Abuse; and please bookmark that page so we can continue to receive high quality submissions from a wide swath of bloggers.

Thank you for raising your voice and speaking out against child abuse and sexual assault in April, and all year long.