Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday

It is hard to believe that Little Man is two years old today (we are ignoring the fact that the twins will be 7 soon).
Of course every parent says it is hard to believe that their child is __ age. But Little Man carries a special story with him. He is my miracle child. While carrying full-term for me is a miracle in and of itself, Bradley redefined the term.
After having a rough first trimester, Little Man started to calm down and grow, and grow and grow. Every time I went in for a checkup they would tell me how much more he had grown past his gestational age. He was a week big, 2 weeks big, 3 weeks big. My doctor even gave me a term for it (not that I remember what it was). I knew he was going to come early, he was big, strong, healthy and ready to see his family. Little Man's due date was June 6, 2007, but after having the twins at 36 weeks, an extra 6 weeks of pregnancy sounded too long for me. At 39 weeks I was ready to pop, they told me he was 8 lbs. 8 LBS!! I knew that if I waited full term I'd have an 11 lb baby like my brother was. I did not want an 11 lb baby. I started walking stairs at lunch, eating spicy food, basically doing every wives tale there was on how to jump start labor. Of course nothing happened. At 40 weeks, they told me he was 8 1/2 lbs and gave me the choice to induce labor.
"Where do I sign up?"
I was scheduled for 7:30am on Tuesday, May 29, 2007, the day after Memorial Day. Dear Hubby dropped the twins off at day care and my mother in law took me to the hospital. It was a great day - and relatively easy. I had an epidural and started pushing about 3 o'clock. I won't gross you out with all the gory details. I will say that when he finally arrived at quarter to 4 and the doctor lifted him up for me to see I was in shock. HE WAS HUGE. My frame of reference is a little skewed as the twins were only 5lbs each when born, but that was a big baby!!!
9 lbs 4 oz , blue eyes, blond hair, just like his brothers and just like his Daddy. He was perfect. Although he did cry for two hours straight, but only because he was hungry. After that he never fussed, slept great, and was the apple of his Daddy's eye.
Everyone who came to see us thought he was beautiful, so I am not being biast. The day after was going well until the pediatrician on staff came into my room. She said "your son has a heart murmur. We found it in a routine exam, and it may be nothing, but we want to run another test, an Echocardiogram, just to be sure." I had chosen the hospital we were in for health reasons. Because I knew from previous experience, they were thorough and my son would be in the best hands. I didn't even call John to tell him about the test, because she said it may be nothing.
Two hours later a pediatric cardiologist walked into my room and I knew the pediatrician had been wrong from the moment the cardiologist introduced himself. No one should ever have to meet a pediatric cardiologist. He told me that my son has a rare (1 in 20,000) congenital heart defect known as Ebstein's Anomaly. Our son's tricuspid valve is not closing properly, leaving an opening for blood to leak back through the valve and into the right atrium. As a result, the right atrium becomes enlarged and if severe enough, congestive heart failure can result. Luckily our son's condition was not that severe. The cardiologist told me his right atrium was enlarged and our son had constant backflow. The doctor was great, he drew pictures and sat with me for over an hour.
It didn't matter. I lost it anyway; I thought it was my fault. Then he told me, no one knows what causes this defect. He also told me that CHD is the most frequently occurring birth defect, and is the leading cause of birth-defect related deaths. I was shocked. How could I not know? Over the next few days my husband and I did a lot of research and what I found was startling, not just about my son, but about all children with CHDs. According to the American Heart Association about 40,000 babies are born each year with heart defects. And nearly twice as many children die from congenital heart disease in the United States each year as die from all forms of childhood cancers combined.
The first few weeks of Little Man's life were tough.
We questioned everything. Would he have surgery? Would he be able to play sports? Would he get tired too easily?
We had to rearrange our world. We had to have and appointment with the pediatric cardiologist and got to watch the backflow on the echo. I had to switch insurance policies as quickly as possible to make sure Little Man would be covered no matter what happened. We learned what signs to watch for, how to take his heart rate. In July he had to go on a heart monitor for about a month because his heart rate was so high. It was hard, but I knew people were worse off than us. I knew that there were worse cases who were having to have surgery right then. We were lucky. We went back for our check ups at 3 months, 6 months, a year.
His first birthday was when we found our miracle. We went to the cardiologist for a echo to see how he was doing - and the defect was all but gone!!! The doctor said that he wouldn't even say he has a problem now and to come back in 2-3 years!!! Shocked, thrilled, releived, were only some of the emotions we were feeling. We had witnessed a miracle in our own son.
So today, we celebrate our miracle. I love you Little Man!

Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Gross \'gros\ adj 1. lacking knowledge or culture, unrefined 2. boys

I believe we have well mannered children. Even Bradley (who will be 2 on Friday) says peas, tank you, and welcome. I work hard to make sure they know proper dinner etiquette, to say yes sir and yes ma’am and how to ask for something. Others have expressed their admiration in the level of manners our boys exhibit.

They should have been there for breakfast. Breakfast is very relaxed at my house, the twins are up first and I make lunches while they eat at the counter. Tyler wanted to tell me what his friend had taught him at school, but it required getting up and giving me a demonstration.

“Mommy, did you know that if you bend your arm like this (looking at the inside of the elbow) it looks like a butt? And if you take your finger and put it in a brown shirt, and push it through it looks like poop?”

No, I did not know this, and I didn’t even want to watch him do it. Luckily, no brown shirts were nearby.

“What do you think Mommy?”

A response, this requires a response? What am I supposed to say?

“That is gross.”

I didn’t have anything better to say. Most of the grossness I can handle. Farts, burps, blood, dirt, mud, worms, frogs (just no dead ones see older post). I need to come up with some wittier comments. The other day I went in to give the twins a kiss goodnight and Tyler called me back as I was leaving his room. He had sat up on the top bunk and wanted another kiss. As soon as I was in front of him, he farted. Immediately laughter erupted from both of them. This I can handle. It’s natural (for the most part). I’ve been known to pass gas and blame it on my children. Or even pass gas while standing next to one of them. Maybe because I have allowed the ‘grossness’ to some degree they think I can handle arms looking like butts. And I can, I just need wittier comebacks. Any suggestions?

Beans, Beans
They are good for your heart,
The more you eat 'em, the more you fart!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Snakes, Snails and... dead lizards

I can handle a lot.

I don’t freak out when one of my boys comes screaming to me with blood running down his face. These are boys, this is what they do. They are going to get hurt, they are going to play rough and they are going to get dirty.

T2  fractured his leg when he was 1 ½ years old. I watched it occur; he was running down the hall, tripped, and fell on a plastic toy drum with the drumsticks tethered to it. And started crying for Mommy. I comforted him and told him to go play. He didn’t want to walk, but he quit crying. He sat on the floor and played. I thought it was odd, but my mother in law and husband agreed, nothing was wrong. I took to the doctor the next morning and he thought nothing was wrong either. But the x-rays showed something different. Apparently kids bones are so soft, they don’t hurt unless they are actually in use.

I am not squeamish at the sight of spiders, mice, worms, or lizards. The twins love for me to dig worms out of the garden for them, and actually fight over who gets the next one. We catch frogs on the side of the pool. Last summer they were on the hunt for the small garden lizards. T1, my quick and quiet one, was sure to catch one, considering he can catch flies with his bare hands. But it was T2 who finally caught the tail of one, only to pull it off and run to his Daddy squealing because the tail was still moving in his hand. We watched that lizard regrow his tail over the next couple of months. My father, feeling sorry for the twins, caught a lizard for them. I brought him home, along with an aquarium I’d acquired. I knew it wouldn’t last, but they wanted to keep the lizard for a pet, and hey – it’s better than a snake.

For a time, they took care of it. Then one day, one of the twins came running up to me, upset because the lizard was missing. I figured he was hibernating in a nice new home, somewhere outside the hands of 6 year olds. As fall faded into winter, the lizard was forgotten.

This past Saturday, I was sitting on the couch tickling my almost innocent one. Little man doesn’t know what a worm is; he just picks it up like dirt and drops it back down on the ground. T2 was helping me and we were having a laugh fest on the couch. T1 walked up and said “Mommy”, actually he may have said more but as I turned around to face him, 2 inches from my face was the DEAD BODY OF THAT LIZARD. I screamed so loud that T1 dropped it, ON MY LEG. I jumped up and screamed again and again, “GET IT OFF ME.” I was freaking out. My husband walked in the front door, as I tried to escape the living room. T1 asked me what was wrong and I didn’t even know how to respond as my husband was doubled over in hysterics. T2 asked why I was afraid of it and I replied “Mommy is a GIRL! Take that thing outside!” Being boys, the twins agreed with their father that this was the funniest thing they had seen in a long time. T1 proceeds to chase me into our room, where I locked the door, only to have him push it under the door while cackling with laughter.

Eventually my husband convinced him to get rid of it – outdoors.

Yes, Mommy is a girl. I can handle a lot, just not dead lizards.

Footnote: I am grateful to the neighbors who didn’t let T1 bring home the dead black snake that Monday. I am forever doomed now that he knows Mommy doesn’t like dead animals.

What are little boys made of?
Snakes and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That's what little boys are made of!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Springtime = Baseball

Springtime at our house comes with balls, bats, gloves, cleats, and lots of dirt. The twins have been in love with baseball since they were two years old. I'm not sure where the desire for the game came from, my husband and I never played, but never less they LOVE the sport. I am not overstating it either. Before they could speak sentences they would hand you a ball and try to swing a stick at it. Or they would scream "UPDOWN" meaning please throw the ball way up in the air so we can try to catch it when it falls back down.

When they were 2 1/2 they each got their own first t-ball set and played all the time. Inside the house and out (my favorite blown glass piece was broken by one such baseball).

At three T1 had watched enough baseball movies to know the pitcher stance and throw, and even to check first and third before throwing (although I'm not sure he knew what he was looking for). For years they asked me when they could play on a real team, to them those years must have dragged on. They were finally able to play last year, as five year olds, on a coach pitch league. I loved their team last year, everyone was great, the parents, coaches, kids. Most of the team was new, and we had our good players and our bad like every group. When the season was over they were sad that they wouldn't be playing again for a year (I see year round baseball in our future).

This years season started out great, they were so excited to be playing again. They would not have their same coach (as he moved on to the next age bracket), but the new coach wasn't too bad. Practice looked good, they looked good. And we won our first 5 games. But as other teams were getting better, we weren't because we no longer practiced as a team. Just games during which the kids were yelled at for not paying attention by the coach. Yelled at for not paying attention - these are 5 & 6 year olds here. This is little league. They are not always going to pay attention. My husband, bless him, is so frustrated with the coach. When he got word the coach wanted our boys next year, he decided he would coach next year, enabling him to control who gets to yell at them.

So here we are at the end of the season winning 5 games, losing 5 games. And our team has done well. There are your ones who always hit, and mostly catch, and then there are those who still aren't sure how to swing the bat. And then there are my favorites, no not my boys, but two kids, siblings, boy and a girl, who are so little but have such great hearts. They try so hard to hit, and about once a game they do manage to connect, but not being able to run fast, are usually tagged out before making it to first base. Their mom and I root for all the kids, but especially our four, the four of them love the game so much.

Last night was our first playoff game. We were up against a team we clobbered early in the season. But this was a different team. They had been practicing, they warmed up before the game. Only three kids on our team warmed up (you know 2 were mine). And they started pounding away at us. We weren't ready for them, we weren't communicating with our team. And we were losing.

I don't know the exact score, but they were up by 4, up by 5, up by 4, we were not making any headway. By the fourth inning, I had given up on the score, but still had my whole heart in the game. T2 came up to bat and hit a ball that went all the way to the fence (being a short field, it was still only a double). I was jumping up and down cheering so loud. T1 hit one 6 inches from the fence - and I cheered telling him he had hit the fence.

That's what matters right, teaching them to keep going, that they are doing great. We cheered for Adam and Abby every time they came to bat - even though they were using the wrong bat, and could barely lift it. We cheered when in the outfield Abby watched the ball go between her legs and it looked like something from the movies. But she figured it out and chased it down and still threw the ball in. We cheered when short stop threw to T1 at first, going over his head, and T1 still got the ball and threw it to the pitcher who was trying to stop the runner going home and did! (Now the coach did not agree on this move - but we ignored him). We cheered when T2 on third caught a ball and chased a runner back to second, almost stopping him. It was a great try.

By the last inning we were worn out. All this cheering, so wanting them to win for themselves, because they loved the game, but knowing the other team worked harder for it.

Bottom of the last inning and we are up to bat, when T1 comes running out of the dugout, I figured he wanted a hot dog, but he said his leg hurt. I checked him out while Adam was at bat. And as I sent T1 back (he was fine), Adam hit the ball, but didn't quite make it to first base. Out #1. Abby was up next and she missed, and missed and then she HIT, not far, but because they had to come get it, she ran as fast as her short legs could take her and made it to first base! We were screaming something fierce, she was safe at first - that alone made the season. The lineup started over and a good hitter was up, could she make it to second - YES! Wow, this was becoming unreal as T2 stepped up to bat. Ironically I was now afraid he would hit a double and the boys would run over little Abby, she would never make it from second all the way home. But he didn't, he hit a single and the bases loaded, with Abby making it to third. Could it happen? Could Abby make a run and score? That would be the way to end the season. The batter hit, and with the coach running along side her, little Abby made it to home plate - scoring her first point ever.

The bases still loaded the next hitter bats and hits, allowing 2 runs before being tagged out. Yeah T2 scored. But there is now a guy on third and T1 at bat. The coach from the other team, turned around and told us the score was tied. TIED, how did we do that, we couldn't be tied, we were just happy Abby scored, that they were having fun, oh this was worth more now - T1 was told, all he had to do was hit that ball, and he did and the other boy was able to score, ending the game. What a night, what a game.

So tonight we play again, shocked that we made it this far. I hope the kids have a good time and that I am not quite as hoarse as I was last night. This could be their last game, the end of baseball season, the end of spring.

Don't tell me about the world. Not today. It's springtime and they're knocking baseball around fields where the grass is damp and green in the morning and the kids are trying to hit the curve ball. ~Pete Hamill

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Story of Twins

Everyone loves a story. Mommies especially love a birth story, or even better a birth story on multiples - so here is mine. (Beware it is REALLY long)

Getting pregnant was not the issue with my dear hubby and I, it was the staying pregnant part. We got preggo in the summer of 2001, only to lose it just as fast. September 11th came and we chose to try again. I made it 6 weeks this time before they found a problem, the pregnancy was eptopic and we would have to terminate. We chose methotrexate, but the pain did not cease and I ended up having laparoscopic surgery. During surgery, they found that the pregnancy had dissolved, but the source of my problems was endometriosis. They were able to burn the spots off of my uterus. Now apparently my fabulous obgyn told my family that I was super fertile after the surgery, but no one told me that. A month later - I was preggo again.

On Monday December 10th, I went in for my first ultrasound. I was only 5 weeks pregnant, but everyone wanted to make sure this one was in the right spot. My mother in law went with me and we got a great pic of what looked to me like a chicken leg. So early in pregnancy all we could see was the sack and that it was perfectly placed in my uterus. We were THRILLED to say the least. Finally after multiple losses, we knew this pregnancy was going to make it. On Friday morning I woke up to spotting. Immediately terrified I called the doctor and she ushered me in right away. They scheduled an ultrasound at another location because they were booked, but wanted to see what was going on as quickly as possible. I ended up at one of these procedure clinics that don't really have doctors, but just do ultrasounds and other screenings all day long. I didn't know anyone there, none of my friends or family could make it on such short notice. I sat freezing (swear they had the air on in December) in a place I was unfamiliar with waiting on news I knew would be devastating. The technician performing my ultrasound was super nice. She immediately started chatting about the weather, and my history, what I ate for breakfast. I was so glad she was occupying my mind which was freaking out. She continued this barade of questions about my pregnancies, what I wanted, had I ever had twins. And I answered each one; I'd been pregnant twice already, one eptopic, wanted a boy, twins run in my family, my grandfather was an identical twin, my uncles are twins, my husband's brother was a twin but one didn't make it. Then she stopped talking.
Stopped talking, for a full 15 minutes (okay maybe it was 5 but it seemed like eternity). I began to wonder what was going on, but being in an unfamiliar place I was scared to ask. Then it dawned on me, maybe she wasn't asking for the heck of it, maybe I was having...
"Why did you ask?" I said.
"Oh, you're having twins." She replied, "I'll show you in a minute, just let me finish."

Oh, you're having twins! What? I was in shock. I was expecting news about losing another baby, not gaining another baby. Apparently I was having this ultrasound on the 5week5 day mark. This was the first time they could see the heart beats and inside that sack I called a chicken leg, were two heart beats. After giving me pictures, the tech told me she had to take my results to the radiologist and wait until she came back, reminding me not to use my phone. DON'T USE THE PHONE - Oh I didn't even know how to keep this kind of news to myself. But I did. I sat patiently and waited for 30 minutes while everyone looked at my ultrasound. After coming back she explained that I had Monochorionic-Diamniotic twins and the reason it took so long was that she was looking for the membrane that was dividing the sacs of our twins. Needless to say when I got out of that place, lots of squeals of joy ensued and the journey of my pregnancy began.
It was a couple of months before we found out we were having boys, and again we were thrilled. We picked out names within a week of finding out. John picking his favorite, and I picked mine. Things progressed fairly well with monthly ultrasounds and the goal of making it to July even though my due date was August 13th. In June I started having preterm labor, eventually I ended up on bed rest which for a non-stop person like me was oh so thrilling. The twins were in perfect position for birth - baby A was head down, straight, and feet up under my right rib cage. Baby b was head down, with his head on my left side, bent at his waist with his feet also in my right rib cage. By Friday, July 5th I was miserable. Having all these feet in one set of ribs hurt, and made it hard to sit comfortably or eat. I was so ready to have them. We went to the doctor for yet another ultrasound that would measure the boys and see where we were. We were told I was having giants. That both boys were already over six pounds. I was officially at 36 weeks, could come off bed rest and if they got too much bigger, we'd look at induction.
Well that was it for me - time to get those babies out!!! My wonderful hubby and I spent that July 4th weekend walking. We walked the mall, we walked some stairs, we walked everywhere. I felt so free finally being able to do things. (although I was finally cleared to drive, it hurt too much to operate the car). I started working on every known wives tale (except castor oil) to induce the labor. Not that any of it worked. By Tuesday morning I was exhausted and there was no end in sight. Wednesday would be my birthday and I did not want to spend it in the hospital, so I decided to take a few days off. Tuesday morning I laid down on the couch for a nap around 10am (you know get all the sleep now kind of thing). I was laying there basking in the silence when I heard a small pop.
There's no way I thought. That couldn't have been my water. But what else could it be. I got up and went to the bathroom, no gushing. Just dripping, that didn't end. I called a friend who happened to be a nurse and who was working with my husband at the time. She confirmed that it was probably my water. Well - I didn't believe it. I wasn't having contractions and who hears their water pop but doesn't see the gush. I got on the phone with my hubby who was quickly preparing to make the 45 minute trip home and get me, just so we could make another 45 minute trip to the hospital. I casually got into the shower and rinsed. I didn't use soap, but if I really was going into labor, I wanted to be freshly showered. As soon as I got out, my mother in law called to say she would be taking me to the hospital. She had happened to take the day off work and was a lot closer than Dear Hubby. Moments later she was there and we were off.
As soon as I got in the car, she asked how far apart my contractions were, I said I wasn't having any. Well 12 minutes later, I was having fabulous contractions 5 minutes apart. By the time we got near the hospital they were 2 minutes apart. The next little bit is really a blur. I remember being in a lot of pain, putting off the epidural only to have these awful drugs that made me loopy. Turns out the reason my water never gushed was Baby A's head was holding it back. At my first check I was already 8 cms and they were able to touch his head already. Everything continues to be a blur, although at some point I got the epidural and at 5pm they took me to the surgery room.
I was not sure what was going on. In all my preterm labor trips to the hospital, no one ever told me I would deliver in the surgery room. The doctor quickly explained that although the goal was for me to deliver vaginally, if anything happened they needed to be ready. I started out pushing on the bed they wheeled me in on. I was told they would move me to the next bed when I was really close, and the third bed was if surgery was needed. I pushed for over an hour, all the time thinking I was never going to make it to the next bed. Around 6:30 I got to move. At this point I was ready. At 6:48pm T1 was born. I saw a glimpse of him as the doctor lifted him up. He was white as a sheet and his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. We had no idea he had been in distress. My quiet child was immediately whisked away to the NICU without me getting to see him again.
But with twins there is no time to dwell, it was T2's turn. Only T2 wasn't moving. His water hadn't broke, he wouldn't drop and I was back to having contractions 5 minutes apart. Of course as in any hospital it was now shift change. So one son born, another on the way and now the room is twice as full of nurses as there were before T1 was born weighing 5lbs3oz. Barb, a nurse I'd met on a previous hospital visit, came in and took over. I was so happy to have her there. There is a 20 minute time limit on twins and 15 minutes after T1  was born, the doctor decided to break the water and suck T2 down. It worked. At 7:05pm T2 was born weighing 5lbs1oz and screaming. There was nothing wrong with him other than mad about being out. I was able to hold him almost immediately.
T1 had to endure a blood transfusion, and we didn't get to hold him for 2 days, but he only spent a week in NICU. T2 was able to come home after three days in the regular nursery.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


In my contemplation of all the things I could write here, I realized there will be times when I have to digress. My life is full of events and details that need to be written down, but then there are other moments that cannot be forgotten. These moments, while I may remember them now, are what I am scared of losing. They are also the history that makes current events more interesting. So from time to time, I may take a moment to go back and relive an event that seems pertinent. Please bear with me during these times and know that I will eventually return to the present.

"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it. "
Sir Winston Churchill

Monday, May 11, 2009


Can we skip the very first post ever?

I am not very good at firsts.

Each year my mother would take our picture on the first day back to school. I believe she meant to see how we grew, for me it was a imprint forever capturing that horrible back to school blues. I still have the picture from the first day of middle school somewhere. I thought I was cool in my black dress with the colored scarf tied around my waist and shoes that were colored to match the scarf. I went to school thinking I looked great until I realized not another girl in my class was in a dress. We were in middle school, we had gym class now, and there I was in a dress.

There is not a picture of my first day of high school, I have no idea what I wore, although I bet it wasn't a dress. I was up early, scared I would miss the bus to school, scared it would forget me . The bus came and I even asked the driver if this was the bus for West Charlotte (as if it would go somewhere else). She said yes. I took my seat in the middle of the bus, only the third person on it. I watched as we drove around, not sure what to expect, but terrified none the less. We probably only picked up 7 more students, I thought they were all looking at me. Then we joined a line of buses waiting to get to the school when I realized, this was not my school. We were going to another high school, no matter that I had asked the driver, my worst fears were coming true before my eyes. Head down I departed the bus and went searching for the office while everyone I passed knew I didn't belong there. I had to wait for someone to take me to the correct school. A teacher with a free period took 3 of us (two others had the same problem I did, but they didn't speak english) to our correct schools. I arrived 1 hour late, everyone was still in homeroom for a reason I don't know, but am very grateful for. I walked in late - and saw one person I knew. That was all I needed, just one friendly face and maybe it would be alright.

The first time my husband and I became pregnant, it wasn't meant to be. I learned a lot from that first time, how nothing can prepare you for that kind of hurt. The second time we got pregnant, was a little different. We were prepared to lose again, we knew our odds. It was on that fateful day that I had to travel to the doctor alone and have an ultrasound, I wanted everything to be alright, but knew it might not be. I had rehearsed what I would do, who I would call. I was prepared for whatever the doctor said. Except I wasn't prepared to hear "Do twins run in your family?" So focused on not losing another child, I answered yes and went on to explain my uncles were twins, my grandfather a twin. It was not until the pause in which the technician didn't respond that it started to dawn on me, she may be asking for an actual reason, not just to make small talk. I waited a full 15 minutes of silence before I asked why she wanted to know. "Oh" she replied, "you are having twins, just a minute and I'll show you." It is a good thing I was lying down.

So firsts aren't my thing, but I do try to teach my children to persevere. That even though you may not get it right the the first time you keep going back and trying again. I don't know what I am trying to get out of this blog, if anything. I don't know who my audience will be, no one even knows I've started it. But I do know that I enjoy writing and that somewhere I need to write down the moments in our lives that desperately need to be recorded. Not the big moments at the end of baseball season when trophies are given out. The little moments when Nathaniel wanted to slide like to the pros, so he slid into every base or when Tyler hit a line drive and almost took the coach's head off (causing the coach to flinch every time he pitches now). Those are the moments that need to be recorded and now that the "first" one is finished - I'll be able to write more.