Sunday, July 25, 2010


We've been listening to Anne of Green Gables and watched the beginning of the 1985 CBC TV movie. D wanted to know what a gable is (here I need to confess that that's a word that I really only learned in my 30s, after years of soaking myself in architecture and design books).

After hearing my explanation of what a gable is, D said, "Some houses don't have gables--like flat-roof houses!"

Birthday party

We had C's birthday party yesterday. Due to a combination of a wedding, a baptism, a move, a visiting cousin, and a church hike, we only had one family join us. There was a girl a bit younger than C and a boy a bit younger than D, plus the mom. I had C give all the kids unicorn tattoos and then we had cake with a white chocolate unicorn on top and chocolate ice cream on unicorn plates and C opened the rest of her gifts (a world atlas, a world history, and The Usborne Book of Living Long Ago). I told C the gifts could have been worse--they could have been socks. The kids did some Wii together (always a favorite at our recent birthday parties) and then we went outside where we had the wading pool, the sprinklers, and bubbles. We had some issues over custody of the garden hose. As our party favors, we gave our guests each a small plaster Chinese dragon and a small plaster unicorn that my husband and the kids molded.

Later in the afternoon, C did more of her Grade 3 Kumon Geometry & Measurement workbook. She has just finished up the liquid capacity section. "Milliliters and liters are easy!" C says. She now has $92 in her remote-controlled race car fund and needs $35 more to get it. That day will come much sooner than you might think.

Friday, July 23, 2010

D on DNA

Here are some things that have been happening:
  • D asks: Does DNA decide when you die?
  • C is saving up to buy an absurdly expensive non-toy remote-controlled car. We let her have some of her birthday money for the project, but told her that she'd need to save the rest herself. Currently, she has $87 in savings and needs to save $40 more. She's been diligently cleaning the living room at night and she's started doing her Grade 3 Kumon Geometry & Measurement workbook again. Her recent work in that workbook has included conversion between grams and kilograms, grams and milligrams, liquid capacity problems, conversions between pints and quarts and between gallons and quarts. She's about 2/3 of the way through the Geometry & Measurement workbook (she's been skipping around a bit). I like the measurement section a lot, but am not always as impressed by the geometry section.
  • D asks, "What's dragon plus dragon." C answered correctly, "Two dragons!"
  • This morning, we had a playdate with a family with 4 kids. We met them at the spray park/playground near the river and had an excellent time, although it was tricky keeping track of everybody. Two of the kids (boy/girl twins) are D's classmates.
  • We ordered a birthday cake from a young neighbor and it's now sitting in the fridge waiting for the party tomorrow. It's green with flowers, to suggest a flowery meadow. My husband has molded a white chocolate unicorn from white chocolate chips and that's also waiting in the fridge. We're going to try to combine the unicorn and the cake for the party. The party's going to be very small--just one other family. Between a wedding, a baptism, a move, a hike, and a visiting cousin, it turned out to be very difficult to assemble the usual suspects.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Something is living in the chimney

Here are some things that have been happening:
  • Thanks to a series of 4-mile treadmill walks, I've finished listening to the Northanger Abbey audiobook.
  • Something is intermittently chirping and twittering in the chimney. I've notified the property management guy.
  • Today I cleaned some muddy suede shoes and mended C's comforter.
  • A house I'm not very excited about dropped from $227k to $219k.
  • My husband and the kids have been watching The Thief of Bagdad (1924).
  • My husband put C onto CellCraft, which is a computer game where you build a living cell and try to save the platypus (if I understand it correctly).
  • Today, the kids were doing that Wii game where you sit cross-legged and focus on a flickering flame in the most Zen-like manner. The kids got very competitive about it. C is also pretty territorial about the living room and doesn't like splitting the cleaning fee for it with D. However, I love having the living room clean every night.

Monday, July 19, 2010

C is 8!

Here's some of what's been happening:
  • D said (very expressively), "I love Anne of Green Gables!"
  • C turned 8 today! As of today, she is no longer legally required to ride in the car in a booster seat (although she has one more year to go in Canada). C is actually pretty attached to the booster seat, so it may take a while to get her out of it. She and I will be able to travel without it later this summer, which will be nice.
  • I had a dental appointment this morning, so while I was there my husband took the kids to Michaels where C bought glow sticks and a velvet art kit and D bought just glow sticks. C was apparently very grown-up at the check stand, where she deployed her money, a coupon, and calculated her change. Official festivities began with the four of us having a nice lunch at the faculty center. Afterwards at home, nearly all the glow sticks were immediately activated. Somewhat later, we each had one Little Debbie cupcake (the chocolate kind with creme filling and a white frosting squiggle on top), C's having a long, thin sparkly candle. For gifts today (we are saving a few for her party on Saturday), she got a Smithsonian chemistry set (now very hard to get), a new swimsuit, and a unicorn gift box with a unicorn noisemaker, a unicorn notepad, a small pack of crayons, unicorn stickers, a butterfly sticker, and a small stuffed unicorn. And which item do you think C liked best? Yes, the $4.99 unicorn gift box. When we were originally planning the party, C wanted to get a unicorn gift box for each of her guests. At the time, I envisioned 10 or so kids at the party and said no. However, it turned out that C was more than happy with just a unicorn gift box for herself. She likes the swimsuit but is obviously not extremely excited about the chemistry set. It's true that C has been on the receiving end of many edifying gifts from her parents.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Anne of Green Gables

Here's some of what's been happening:

  • This morning, we took advantage of the relative (very relative) cool and I practiced driving to three different playgrounds, one of which has a spray park. Lately, temperatures have been getting close to and slightly over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so if we go to parks, we should go early, but there are still a few hours in the day below 90 degrees. says that our overnight lows are around 76-77 degrees, but I have a really hard time believing that. When I get up in the morning, it tends to be around 80 degrees.
  • I bought a boxed set of Anne of Green Gables books and have been trying to sell C on them. C has read the beginning, but was not excited about the book. However, on the ride to and from church this afternoon, my husband was playing the free recording. The book felt a little bit slow when I looked at the first chapter a couple of weeks ago, but it really came to life in the recording. The kids (particularly D) loved it.
  • I'm about one fourth of the way through the Librivox recording of Northanger Abbey. I forgot how good it is, how enjoyable it is to follow Catherine as she navigates Bath and discovers the difference between what people say they are and who they really are. I've also got Emma and Persuasion to read, and then the Austinpalooza will be over for another year or two. What will I listen to? I should also wait another year or so before doing Lord of the Rings again, since I just finished this spring. It's really hard to find books that are absorbing enough to send you happily off to the treadmill every day, and when you do, they are soon finished, and then the hunt is on again.
  • C was very particular today about wanting to be paid for room cleaning today, even though on Sundays, the money goes into her giving box. C really wants to get those honeybees from Heifer. She's getting very close.
  • To earn a second movie today, C went through the first six pages of Usborne's Illustrated Elementary Math Dictionary with me today. I bought the Usborne Illustrated Dictionary of Math (that's the big kid version) earlier, but it was pretty serious stuff, so I ordered the elementary version. In the first six pages of UIEMD, we talked about numbers, digits, zero, infinity, positive and negative numbers, whole numbers, place value, even numbers, odd numbers, squaring, cubing and factoring. Factoring was the hardest.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

D likes going to the doctor

Here are some things that have been happening:
  • D says, "I like doctor visits."
  • C told D, "Stretchy gave me this [a sparkly pipe cleaner]!" D was not amused.
  • D asks, "Is Disneyland real?"
  • The kids have just started watching Ponyo, which is a newish Miyazaki cartoon about a goldfish who wants to be human.
  • D has just bought chicks (or the equivalent) for Heifer. C has about the same amount in her charity savings, but is going to wait and save up for honeybees (or the equivalent).
  • I've just finished listening to Mansfield Park at the gym and am starting Northanger Abbey. I've normally listened to audiobooks on an old school, now obsolete PDA, but my husband (the family technical expert) is weaning me over to listening to audiobooks on my beautiful new phone.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Back from Ft. Worth

Here's some of what's been happening:
  • We spent the day going back and forth from Ft. Worth to a follow-up gastro appointment for D. His tests are fine, he's been on two medications, he's happier and he has grown. We're supposed to stop one medication, continue the other, and then taper that one off once D is settled into school. We usually make a massive production out of our Ft. Worth trips, but today we just had lunch at a Thai place (Junsuree Thai House) and hit an outlet shopping place that I've wanted to go to for some time. Junsuree Thai is unpretentious, but gets the job done. We made the excellent decision to get a box for C's leftover green curry and then stuck it in the large ice chest in the trunk of the car where we had our water bottles, juice boxes, and Coke Zeros. The curry's all gone now.
  • We've driven by the outlet mall several times but this was my first opportunity to visit. Unfortunately (and this is the first major sign of recession I've seen in the area), half the storefronts were vacant. I'd love to know which stores didn't make it.
  • We're going to go over the hill to the poorhouse, but thanks to the new carrot/stick compensation system for the living room, the kids are tidying the living room. It's fantastic, like having live-in staff.
  • My husband has been setting D up with worksheets with simple addition, subtraction and multiplication. I occasionally help him by illustrating problems with dots arranged as if on dice. In the car, C worked on multiplication problems involving 6.
  • In real estate, a 1950s house in the older neighborhood I watch has just had its listing dropped from $265k to $259k. The Dutch auction continues. However, to round out the picture, a nice 1920s brick cottage recently shot up from $165k to $175k. As far as I can tell, the reason for the price increase is that the house had to have a new roof.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Unicorns and dragons

Here's some of what's been happening:

  • At swim class, D was doing both a front and a back float (with some help to get into position). C has graduated from the Red Cross's level 2. We're told that level 3 involves distance swimming and deep water and often requires multiple tries.
  • C says she'd like to work as a house cleaner (in order to see the inside of houses) or a house painter.
  • My husband was quizzing C on voicing and devoicing. C knew that a devoiced "b" would be a "p" and (this is a tricky one) that a voiced "sh" would be a "zh."
  • C has a birthday soon, and my husband and the kids are working hard to mix, pour, and mold small plaster unicorns and Chinese dragons as party favors for our guests.
  • After a really apocalyptic living room scene last night (my husband and I had to tidy up before the cleaners came this morning), my husband laid down the law to the kids today. The kids can 1) earn $1 for a clean bedroom, plus 50 cents each for the living room or 2) if the living room is a mess, they can get 50 cents for a clean bedroom. This is potentially a lot of money for the darlings, but these days they buy their own art supplies and 90% of their toys. They chipped in quite a lot of ride money for the trip to the amusement park this week.

Kid quotes

Here are some kid quotes from the past day or two:
  • D: I'm going to make a safety harness for pulling people up cliffs!
  • C: It wasn't blood, OK?
  • D (worried): How do we swing like these monkeys? C: We pretend.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Xantippe's almost smart phone

Here's some of what's been happening:
  • I just finished up a session of life education with C. I told C that if she wanted her usual dollar for cleaning her room (yeah, I know that's pretty steep, but that's market rate at our house), she'd better be ready for bed and have the room cleaned by 9:30 PM, because that's when she's going to bed. I returned a bit after 9:30 PM and discovered her glued to Harry Potter. Nothing else had happened in my absence. I explained the awful consequences of her inactivity. C got to work on cleaning up and dressing for bed, accompanying it with howls of how unfair it was. I ought to have taken the book away, I ought to give her a second chance, etc. I told her I'd give her 50 cents, and that was more than daddy would give. I gave her the 50 cents, there was more howling and I put her to bed. By the end of that, it was very close to 10 PM. I'm not totally sure that either of us learned much from the experience, but some semblance of justice was done.
  • I was at the water park today for the kids' swim classes and I got to use my almost smart phone for serious web surfing for the first time. The phone is smart enough for me, but uses our old calling plan. We paid serious coin up front for the phone, but aren't going to be nibbled to death by monthly charges.
  • I forget if I blogged it earlier, but C produced a very nice tracing of a dragon with the following text: "Dear D: inclosed in a zipblock bag are some little coupons that say things like Hug from C."
  • Today's real estate news is that a house at the fringe of the older neighborhood I watch has just slipped from $130k to $115k. It's 3BR/2BA, is actually very pretty, but is just under 1500 sq. ft.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Xantippe sees a real live loft

Here are a couple of things that have happened lately:
  • Yesterday, D and I had an invitation to visit a family downtown. I was immediately intrigued by the address, which was right in the old business district. The family (mom and dad and four little kids) lives in a converted department store. The ground floor is a banquet hall and the upper floor is an enormous loft, with acres of (probably original) hardwood floors and 12-15 ft. high ceilings. They've been working on it for about 8 years.
  • Today, my husband took the kids to the small local amusement park. We fixed our ride budget in advance and the kids contributed generously from their funds.
  • Back in Washington State, my family is just finishing up the hay harvest.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Craigslist continued

Here are some things that have been happening:
  • C has been doing an hour or two of Wii exercise every day, which is nice. I'm currently avoiding my turn.
  • I think we've just about wrapped up our Craigslisting after fielding dozens of phone calls and text messages. A very nice lady with a home daycare bought all my remaining toys, and the only things we have left up on Craigslist are a handful of books. D got nearly all of the proceeds because the toys came from his big purge this spring. C wants in on the action, and she brought me a pristine Barbie princess with intact shoes and tiara. She also brought me a heap of books, but 1) I want to keep some of them 2) the other ones are more likely Salvation Army fodder. As C pointed out, the Barbie was in perfect shape because she never plays with it. We'll probably do another Craigslisting before Christmas. More people than you might think get their Christmas presents second-hand. So far on Ebay, we've sold the Fisher Price toddler camera for $20 (including shipping). That's the going price for a used toddler camera, as unlikely as it sounds. We will need to get quite a bit more aggressive with Ebay, Craigslist, and charitable donations soon if we are moving in a year.
  • We met friends at the college pool yesterday. There was some delay because of a pool closure, but that just meant that the kids got to go on the big multi-story climbing wall at the college gym.
  • There's an adorable 1920s 2BR/2BA cottage in the older neighborhood I watch. Yesterday, the price dropped from $230k (where it had been for months, if not a year) to $215k.
  • In financial news, I see that our money market account is now paying out 0.95% a year in interest, the first time since we opened it that it has dropped below 1%. Where is this going?

Friday, July 9, 2010


Here's some of what's been happening:
  • C has finished the fifth Harry Potter (again) and has turned her Wii piggy bank gold.
  • We got a coconut at the store and my husband and D opened it up by drilling it with a power drill. My husband held the drill and D pressed the trigger.
  • I told the kids that they are the best kids I've ever had. C pointed out that they were my only kids, and furthermore, that it was equally true that they are the worst kids I've ever had.
  • We are in the middle of an Ebay/Craigslist/Salvation Army frenzy. We have four books and a Fisher Price toddler camera listed on Ebay for auction, and I'm hoping we get some nibbles. We have two books and a box full of toddler toys listed on Craigslist. I've gotten flurries of phone calls and texts from the Craigslist postings, but so far have seen only one buyer in the flesh. She bought a Dora play set, a Leapfrog schoolbus, and a Playmobile farm set, for a grand total of $3. The $3 went to D. D in turn bought a collection of toys (mainly Happy Meal items) from C. C took that $3, added $5, and paid my husband $8 and got a camera from my husband. (As I may or may not have mentioned, C dropped and broke her nice digital camera at the Dallas Zoo back in the spring. My husband recently acquired a donor camera for $8 and spent part of yesterday trying to resurrect C's camera. He was successful, but it now has a tell-tale pink bottom.) It's quite the active economy we have at our house (although C's transactions with D are heavily regulated). I'm hoping I'll be able to sell more Craigslist stuff this morning. Whatever doesn't sell will go to Salvation Army.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chain stitch

Here are some things that have been happening:
  • After a couple weeks of break, C has returned to embroidery. I gave her a white t-shirt of D's and she sewed on a decorative button and practiced her chain stitch.
  • The kids swam again today. They LOVE their swim class at the water park. C got to practice diving today.
  • Yesterday, we were briefly but seriously entertaining the idea of buying a lot in the other faculty neighborhood and even visited it and looked at house plans. It's very tempting, given that nobody in that neighborhood shows any sign of wanting to move. Unfortunately, the lot is somewhat narrow (50 feet). I suppose 50 feet isn't tiny, but even a 30 foot wide house would be excessively neighborly on either side. The previous house there was a 700 sq. ft. shack, which the college did in fact tear down, and now it's just a weed-covered lot with some trees. Because of the relative dimensions, a garage would take over the facade. To do it properly, I think we'd need need an architect. Paying an architect, buying the lot and building would be rather more expensive than buying a nice existing home elsewhere in town. It would cost a lot of money, there would be a lot of delay, and there would be a lot of architectural compromises. It's still tempting.
  • Speaking of tear-downs, the college just tore down a building just off campus that used to house a Quiznos.
  • In other real estate news, I see that a mansion in the historic neighborhood I watch has just dropped from $425k to $400k. I also notice that the Craigslist real estate section has been taken over by option-to-buy and rent-to-own. Although there's nothing wrong with option-to-buy, the enormous volume of these ads gives me the heebie jeebies. There's something wrong.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New phone

Here are some things that have been happening:
  • D asks: "For my next swim class, will the water be deeper?"
  • My new phone has arrived and it's so pretty! I'm hoping to enjoy it a lot during our West Coast travel, although I know that I won't have reception everywhere.
  • C is working hard on our Wii to turn her piggy bank gold. It's interesting how motivating these token prizes are which give no tangible benefit. She was doing some yoga, which is unusual for her.
  • C asked: "Why do villains in stories have henchman problems?" I had mentioned this issue a week or so ago when we were watching Hogfather. I pointed out to her that villains tend not to be very nice to their henchmen. "I understand!" C said. And she did.
  • I called up a guy today who had given me a landscaping business card some months ago, to do some beautification (gutters, bushes, lawnmowing, patio, driveway, and walk). I find it a little weird to hire this stuff out, but it's been a long, long time since we've had a helping hand, and things were starting to get pretty wild. It was $105 for two guys and it was worth every penny. We should really try harder to get yard help on a quarterly basis when we have a house of our own.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Here are a few things that have been happening:
  • Today, D wanted to know if marshmallows grow on trees. He had seen a misleading movie.
  • D wanted to clarify a point of etiquette: "I don't know if you have to say "please" if you have servants."
  • The kids had their first class of their two-week Red Cross swim course today out at a water park with a beach entry pool. D's class (level 1) was in the beach entry pool and they were mainly practicing bobs. C's class (level) two was mainly doing tummy and back floats. Both kids had a very good time.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th

Here's some of what's been happening:
  • Today, we had our big neighborhood 4th of July parade. One of our neighbors drove a golf cart around the loop twice, followed and preceded by dozens of kids on bicycles and scooters. Their parents followed at a more stately pace. Both C and D participated in the parade, first having decorated their bikes with sparkly pipe cleaners. After the parade there was a big picnic at a neighbor's house, with piles of grilled sausage, several different variations on the biscuit-pudding-berry theme, and several trees to climb. This was probably the last 4th of July parade and BBQ in our neighborhood. Two families with four children each have moved or are moving, one to a suburb, one to a rental in a neighborhood near our big city park. Boo hoo!
  • We're beginning to wonder whether we shouldn't think seriously about doing a faculty-in-residence thing again. Pros: It would cut our housing costs and utilities to zero, would eliminate our yardwork and would enable us to live on campus. Cons: We would lose our garage, green space, and much of our storage. What would we do with the kids' bicycles and my husband's beloved telescopes, so as to store them safely, but also be able to quickly pull them out as needed? Con: No neighborhood children. Pro: Babysitters! We'll keep thinking about the faculty-in-residence possibility. It's not a permanent solution, but it's definitely worth keeping open as an option.
  • My husband and D planted the cactus in the patio garden.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Patient dragons

Here are a few things that have been happening:
  • The kids were really good together today. The living room is in a state, but I don't think the TV was turned on once today, except to do Wii.
  • D said: "My dragons are always patient." C said: "Mine, too."
  • I ordered unicorn paper plates and such for C's birthday. It being the beginning of the month, I also did a Landsend order for clothes and ordered several edifying Usborne books for C from Amazon. I also had the washer and dryer running much of the day.
  • My husband went to the public library and got some books on animals and astronomy for both kids and two Terry Pratchett kid books for C. He also aired up the double jogging stroller in preparation for its move to a new home, cleaned various potty training equipment for storage, and mowed the backyard.
  • C cashed in 35 points and took us to Chick-fil-A for dinner. The kids frolicked in the two story indoor play structure, my husband read a grownup Terry Pratchett book, and I finished transferring phone numbers between two calendars (I'm really old school) and started drafting a note in Russian.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thumbs down on Yoplait's Greek yogurt

A few updates:
  • We have our West Coast plane tickets.
  • My husband is working on the double jogging stroller that we just got back from a graduate family. He's fixing up a few things and then we'll send it back into circulation again, hopefully.
  • In real estate news, there were two price drops in the historic neighborhood I watch. A rather pretty colonial house (a new listing) just dropped from $293k to $280k. A cute little mid-century house (very imaginatively described as a tudor) has just dropped from $172k to $160k, and I need to try some Lamaze breathing to keep from picking up the phone.
  • We all went to Walmart today for some shopping and I was able to pick up some items that aren't sold at our usual HEB. D fell in love with a cactus, which he paid $8 for. I bought several different kinds of plain yogurt for taste-testing: Stonyfield Organic 99% Fat-Free, Stonyfield Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt 0% ft, and Yoplait's Greek 2X Protein 0% Fat. First of all, while the Yoplait Greek yogurt has 14g of protein (26% of your daily allowance) and only 100 calories, it's the worst yogurt I've ever had, nothing at all like the velvety 2% fat Fage Greek yogurt that our HEB has by some miracle started stocking. Yoplait's version is aggressively tart and gritty and it tastes nasty even with honey added to it. Also, there's gelatin in it, which is why the texture is all wrong. Yuck! I'm tossing it out, even though I paid $1 for the 6 oz. tub. Yuck! I'm also, unfortunately, tossing out the Stonyfield Organic 99% Fat-Free, because it looks like there might have been some damage to the carton and some spoilage (although, as my husband says, how can you spoil yogurt?). Now, moving along to the Stonyfield Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt 0% Fat. This has a fairly smooth texture and the ingredient list is nice and short, although it's drippier than Fage. You can eat it straight with a spoon without wincing, although it's nicer with honey. I still like the Fage 2% fat best. C also picked out Yoplait's Fat Free Pineapple Upside-Down Cake yogurt and Yoplait's Fat Free Red Velvet Cake yogurt. I'm not going to taste-test those, but I'm just entering them into the record.

July begins

Here are some things that have been happening:
  • Yesterday was the last day of C's garden camp. There was early pick-up. We missed the program (in which C was going to do a rainbow dance while wearing a rainbow shirt), but we brought a vase, scissors, and water for cutting flowers. The camp is at a public school in the suburbs that has a very tidy and well-managed garden on the grounds. They have a butterfly garden, a plantation of 9-foot-tall wild sunflowers (the bushy kind with small, multiple heads), grapes, and cantaloupes growing vertically and ripening in panty hose. C was very excited about having the chance to harvest small purple grapes from the grape arbor.
  • D said: "Mary had a little lamb that lived on whole wheat bread."
  • We've been having grey, rainy days with temperatures under 80 degrees. It reminds me of the weather we had the first July we moved to Texas three years ago.
  • Yesterday was the end of our June budget. We did save over $600 for our house in June, as planned, but we squeaked to the finish line to do it. I went $160 over our original budget for the month, but I got $100 birthday check and there was some business income or reimbursement that brought us even, so in the end, we were not over budget, and our house savings were as planned. I always forget how expensive the summer is.
  • In our July budget, we have projected savings of $159 for the house this month. I expect things will be better starting in September. Looking at our savings, if we bracket our basic emergency fund and the money alloted for other savings projects (camp savings, medical saving, car fund, household maintenance, etc.), it looks like we have $13,000 available for the house purchase. That's not quite enough, but it's a fair start.
  • Competing with the house fund are some smaller goals. I've finally decided to go for a better phone, so after some research, we've settled on a HTC Touch Pro. It's a smart phone and we'll pay something like $235 total upfront (which is a lot), but we'll be able to hold onto our old $50 a month service plan. I was planning to hold onto my existing cell phone longer, but we are going to be on the road later this summer, and it would be awfully nice to have internet access. The other competing goal is travel. We've got a West Coast trip this summer, we are planning to make a family trip out of a conference in Baltimore in the fall, and I'm hoping to make a long-awaited trip to Russia in a year. Put all of this stuff together and I suppose it sounds like we're living high on the hog. I suppose we are.