Saturday, July 29, 2006

the gift

All week long, my seester was excited about my birthday gift. She couldn't give it to me, though, 'cause all the pieces hadn't yet arrived. I couldn't imagine what on earth it could be.

On Friday, the boys and I drove two hours to Nashville to meet up with my dear friend Elaine, who lives two hours away in Alabama. Another friend, Amy, happened to be two hours away as well, visiting her brother in Chattanooga. We spent Friday evening stolling around and taking a boat ride through the Gaylord Opryland hotel, which was very, very cool. Then on Saturday, Elaine and I took the kids to the Nashville Zoo. It was low-key and relaxing, and I loved watching our kids interract so well and become friends. Today, Elaine told me that her youngest daughter (who's 2) asked when Stacy is coming to her house. Aww!!

When I arrived back at my sister's house, the gift was waiting for me on the kitchen table. It was a pink and brown canvas bin thingy filled to the brim with my favorite things. My sister had stalked my blog to come up with things that I love! There was a gift card to Sonic, Aveda Hand Therapy lotion, 3 Tyler candles, a Mary Engelbreit mouse pad, a precious silver heart charm with my name engraved on it, a sign for my scrap room that says "Stacy's Parking Only - all others will be towed", and a book: In Her Shoes.
It was the sweetest, most thoughtful gift.

On Sunday, we drove to Mississippi for Brittani's swim meet. It was her first meet in her new age bracket; at her most recent meet, she had the best times in the 11-12 group, but they were still below the slowest times in the 13-14 group. But Brittani will not be beaten! With determination and skill, she ROCKED those lanes, coming in 2nd and 3rd in all her four of her heats. I was so proud! As I took photos from the seating area above the pool, I felt tears gather in my eyes. Her butterfly stroke is absolutely beautiful. Brittani moves with such grace and artistry in the water. She definitely has a gift.

Both of my nieces are undeniably precious. They're considerate, polite, kind, loving, conscientious, reliable, smart and beautiful. I'm so proud of them! (And my sister for raising them!)

Much of the week, I was pretty emotionally absent. I can't explain why or even HOW I felt, but I found myself being withdrawn and quiet and not even making excuses for it or apologizing about it. Bobbie never once chided me or tried to coax me out. She just let me be. She let me rest. She let me wonder and think and reflect and pray. She let me be ME. She loved me anyway, even though her usually fun and energetic sister had come all that way only to be a big blob. And THAT was the best gift of all.

I love you, Bobbie!

Friday, July 28, 2006

an open letter to Kyla...

You'll have to come out of lurkdom and comment, because I'm on to you! Isn't it freaky how NOT anonymous the internet is? We had this discussion with our 15-year-old daughter tonight. ahem.

Anyway, I checked my stat counter tonight... something I haven't done in months... and saw that some people had visited my blog via a link on YOUR blog. And I thought, hmmm. I don't know a Kyla. So I followed the link and read what you wrote about me.

"Blogs I read: stacy: I don't even know this woman in real life. I came across her blog randomly and now I check it everyday. She usually writes about her family, but I find myself strangely connected to her and her emotions. I can identify with her, and I have a weird sense of understanding even though I have no kids. She is creative, talented, and funny. Her humor and openness leaves me longing for updates."

I cannot TELL you how uplifting your words were to me! I haven't felt like blogging all week. I logged in a few times and started to post, but each time I deleted it all and moved along. Tonight, I was stalking my favorite blogs (I read strangers' blogs too! And I never comment... 'cause then they'd think I'm a freak or somethin'. But have you ever heard of Ali Edwards? AMAZING CREATIVE scrapbooker extraordinaire and one heck of a good Momma. She seems REAL. I wish she lived next door, 'cause I swear we'd be best friends. I love her and would tackle her with a big hug if I ever ran into her at say, the airport or something. I've never met her - she's never even heard of me - and yet, I'd be devestated if anything ever happened to her. So see - we're connected in that way, too.)

ANYWAY. I haven't felt like blogging all week. I have so much to say about my trip to Tennessee. I have photos to share. But at the same time, I'm wading through a grayness right now that's washed all the color from me. (That in itself is another blog that's rolling around in my head - based on a profound analogy my friend Elaine made last weekend.) Your single paragraph made me wanna blog.

Are ya happy? I am! You say you're longing for updates. That makes me happy. You say I'm open and HUMOROUS. I can't tell you how happy that makes me. 'Cause I KNOW I've been open lately, but I gotta tell ya. I haven't felt real funny.

Thanks, Kyla. You make my day.

p.s. I created a scrapbook last fall for two retiring employees at your alma mater. The woman was the school nurse and her husband was the bus driver. Know who I'm talking about?? :)

Also... a student from your alma mater is living in my house this summer.

Small world! :)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Dani's Fun Fifteenth

So. My daughter is fifteen today. How can that be?
Just yesterday, she was wacking off her baby curls with a pair of my craft scissors.
Just yesterday, she was jumping from the chair and nearly biting through her tongue when her chin hit the corner of the table. She was singing to her baby cousin Brittani, just two years younger than she. She was shooing me away from her classroom on the first day of Kindergarten. She was telling me not to walk on the grass, 'cause the sign said not to. She was building her first snowman, coming down with chicken pox, winning her first essay contest. She was nursing her first bad sunburn, her first broken heart, her first real fight with me. She was crawling, walking, running, laughing, learning, growing, crying, writing, singing, soccering, guitaring, eye shadowing, flirting... and now she's fifteen. So soon. Isn't she lovely?

That's Brittani (all grown up herself), Dani, Marcus (Dani's friend in Memphis whose family shared dinner with us tonight at Olive Garden - Dani and Marcus met earlier this summer when his youth group came to Fortress to do mission work!), and Brianna.

Friday, July 21, 2006


This afternoon, out of the blue, Ian walked up to Aunt Bobbie and said, "When people hurt my feelings, I run out of energy."

She looked and him, cocked her head to the side, pouted her lips, and said, "Awww. When people are mean to you, you run out of energy?"

"Yah," he answered. "And when someone is REALLY mean to me, the only energy I have left is right here," he said, pointing to his big toe.

"How do you get your energy back?" Bobbie asked.

"By drinking."


Ian is thirsty. ALWAYS thirsty. That kid arrived in this world begging for a drink. When he was about 3, it actually worried me enough to ask the doctor, "Could he be diabetic? 'Cause he begs for water all the time!"

He loves water. But it has to be cold - from the filtered water thingamajiggy in the fridge. Now that he's tall enough, he's happy to help himself to all the water he can drink. I think it's cool that he's so in touch with his thirst and so adamant about having it quenched NOW.

I'm not that way. Sometimes, I'll get a headache and the first thing that I think is, "Ah. Probably dehydrated. I haven't had anything to drink all day long." (There's a spiritual analogy to be made here, I just know it.)

Ian's right. Drinks DO give you energy. And he's entirely correct that mean people sap it right out of you. Makes me wonder, though. He's only 4. How many mean people experiences has he really had? Sometimes, his wisdom scares me. Am I smart enough to raise this precious kid?

Tonight, as we floated around in the pool (I was the Mommy Shark, he was the Baby Shark and Aidan & Brianna were the doomed teenagers on inflatable rafts. lol), he asked, "Mommy. When sharks get thirsty, what do they drink?"

See, Bobbie's pool is salt water. I told the boys to stop drinking it the first day we were here, 'cause pool water isn't healthy for you. I told them it was salty like the ocean. Ian is now worried about sharks and what they drink when they need energy.

What DO sharks drink? I answered the way any Mom worth her salt would answer:

"Let's ask Daddy."


Thursday, July 20, 2006

It starts with SH and ends with it

Dani and I had a heart-to-heart tonight. More accurately, I had the heart-to-heart and she sat there in stunned silence. It was dark out. The only light came from the Tennessee moon. We sat on the pool's edge with our feet dangling in the water, watching the ripples make the moon's reflection go all wonky. That kind of atmosphere is condusive to honest speak. I need a pool in my backyard.

Sometimes, the truth is, when you need to make a point, there's only one word that'll do. Shit. There it is. I don't cuss often, and never around my kids. (Although, I do confess to having a potty mouth. I say "crap" way more than I ought to). I think that's why tonight, when the S word came out of my mouth, Dani sat up straight and listened.

Here's the deal. When I was 16, I came within 3 feet of killing myself and 10 friends who were crammed into my car with me. I was drunk. That night scared the SHIT out of me. I never drove drunk again. I never drove TIPSY again. Tonight, Dani needed to hear that story. And try as I might, I could not come up with a word that made my point any better. I know many of you will disagree. (My sweet husband is one of you.) But hey. I'm feeling honest.

And while I'm at it, there's this:

A beautiful, sweet, very observant friend mentioned to me that I've seemed distant. Funny thing is, she hasn't seen me or spoken to me in person. I've seemed distant online. Well. All I can say is, you should see me in person. I. am. not. myself. Most of my local friends haven't noticed because I've made myself scarse. A chronically, chemically depressed person becomes skilled at hiding it. I am the master.

As much as I hate it, it's time to admit that I need my medicine. The doc told me last November to get on it and STAY on it, and not to wean myself off or else. I weaned. Now I'm dealing with the "or else". Again. Depression is a beast. It's hideous. I fight against it because I don't want it to own me. I stop the medicine because I don't want to be "depressed". I am not a depressive person. I hate the label. It is not ME. My natural state of mind is that of JOY. When I feel the depression building, I compound the problem by getting angry at it. I know it's medical and that if it were cancer, I'd have no problem treating it. I KNOW THAT. But as always happens, I fight fight fight it until I just don't have anything left to fight with. And when that happens, I crash hard. This time, I'm catching myself mid-air. I won't crash. At least not hard.

Even so, as I sit here and admit to the world - to complete strangers and new acquaintances and people whose opinions of who they think I am are changing with every word I write - as I sit here and get honest and acknowledge the beast, the words that come to mind are: Shit. How did I get here again?

And the next words... the ones that sprang to the forefront of my mind and my soul and my heart as I typed that last sentence... are these:

Make me new, Lord Jesus. Make me new.
For it seems that in so many ways, I'm not enough like you.
Take this weary vessel I am in
And mold me once again.
Take my life, take my spirit, make me new.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tennessee or Bust!

The kids and I set out from Fort Worth yesterday at 1:30. 9 hours, 7 stops to potty and a tank and a half of gas later, we arrived at Bobbie's house.

I'd forgotten to print the mapquest directions before we left home, and this was my first visit to see her since she moved to Tennessee. So on the phone somewhere along the way, I told her I'd call as soon as we got to Jackson, and she could talk me in. But instead of calling Bobbie, I called Darren, and he mapquested for me. Soon enough, I was pulling into her driveway. As soon as my headlights hit her house, the phone rang. It was her!

"How close are you?" she asked.

I thought for a split second that she knew we were right outside, but I decided to test my theory just in case. "Uh, we just crossed the Mississippi River into Memphis." I answered. She was totally bummed that we were still over an hour away. As soon as we hung up, the kids and I giggled and squealed and snuck up to the front door. Dani tried it, and it was unlocked, so we waltzed right in.... down the hall...into the kitchen, where Brittani turned and SCREAMED. Then Dani screamed, then much hugging and squealing and screaming ensued, both from the two of them and from my and my beloved Seester.

Within 60 seconds, Brittani and Dani jumped in the pool, fully clothed. Aidan and Ian were right behind them. Never mind that it was almost 11 o'clock at night. This morning, that's the first thing the boys wanted to do again. :)

So here we are.

Monday, July 17, 2006

the wall

Recently, I had the privilege of seeing a vision become reality at Fortress Youth Development Center. I'd long wanted to create a photo wall featuring the kids we minister to. Turned out, my sweet friend Cara shared the same vision. When Exec. Director Michael approached us about sprucing up the Big Room, we already had a plan in mind, and he loved it. "Go for it," he encouraged. So we did.

Weeks of planning: 5
Photos sorted through: 350
Frames purchased: 25
Minutes spent on the phone with Weezie while she worked some photo magic for me: 25
Cost of photo developing: $240
smallest photos: 8x10
largest photos: 24x36
Hours I spent installing the wall: 12
(plus 9 from Darren and 5 from Cara)
Times I almost wet myself 10 feet up a ladder when Cara made me laugh: 3
Times I almost fell off said ladder when I tripped on my gauchos: 2
Paint pens used for words: 2
Watching kids' faces as they spotted their mugs on The Wall: Worth every penny. Worth every minute.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

I carry your heart

I just watched "In Her Shoes". Have you seen it? It's an adaptation of the book by the same name. I've been remiss and haven't read the book yet, but I think, judging from the movie, that it's gonna be one that I'll buy and keep.

The story focuses on two sisters - the older one and the younger one. The frumpy one and the pretty one. The protective one and the reactive one. In so, so MANY ways, I identified with them. Rose and Maggie are Stacy and Bobbie. It's no wonder I cried buckets.

I'm taking the DVD with me to Tennessee next week, on the off chance that Bobbie hasn't seen it yet. If not, we'll watch it together. If so, we'll watch it together!

I love my seester. I can't wait to see her again. (IN TWO DAYS!!!!! I'm not excited or anything.)

i carry her heart with me
(i carry it in my heart)

(read the full text of e.e. cummings' poem here.)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

the blues

Got an Elton John song rollin' through my head, and it ain't "Crocodile Rock".

I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues

Don't wish it away
Don't look at it like it's forever
Between you and me I could
honestly say
That things can only get better

And while I'm away
Dust out the demons inside
And it won't be long before you and me run
To the place in our hearts where we hide

And I guess that's why they call it the blues
Time on my hands could be time spent with you
Laughing like children, living like lovers
Rolling like thunder under the covers
And I guess that's why they call it the blues

Just stare into space
Picture my face in your hands
Live for each second without hesitation
And never forget I'm your man

Wait on me girl
Cry in the night if it helps
But more than ever I simply love you
More than I love life itself

Music by Elton John and Davey Johnstone
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin
Available on the album Too Low For Zero
© 1983 Big Pig Music Limited
I don't know why I have the blues, really.
Just today, I've felt sort of... weary.
Kinda blue.

Cranked out 32 client pages today. You'da thunk THAT woulda fired me up.


Made a gourmet meal of mac and cheese tonight, and when I went to drain the macaroni, I let the pan slip and all the noodles went straight down the disposal. I handled it OH so well by exclaiming, "HOLY CRAP!", then by throwing the pan in the garbage. Then I cried.

Darren rescued the pan later, washed it, and put it away.

I love that man. I'm sure he doesn't understand what in the WORLD is wrong with me today, 'cause I don't even understand. But boy, does he GET it. Makes me cry all over again.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cool Water

This 6-pack is for Zach, a totally awesome college sophomore who's spending his summer working with inner city kids in Fort Worth. The heat can be unbearable. The road can be parched and barren. I pray for him COOL WATER. In abundance. (And a few IBCs along the way.) :)

I love, love, love being a secret pal!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Tahoka, Texas

Back in May, my friend Joe blogged about missing his hometown: Tahoka, Texas, population Not Many. He's been terribly homesick, and mentioned that anybody finding themselves in West Texas should stop in and visit his folks. "They'd love to have you over," he wrote.

Well. Turns out, we were planning a trip to Colorado, which most definitely would take us through West Texas. So I challenged Joe on his offer. "I hope you mean it," I commented, "'cause we're heading toward Tahoka next month!" Within days, he put his Mom and me in touch with each other and it was official. My family and I were on our way to Tahoka, Texas.

Glo had instructed us to turn on Ave O once we got to town. When we got there, I snarked, "Maybe she meant zero. I don't think there are enough streets in this town to GO all the way to O." Darren quipped, "Maybe the streets are T, A, H, O, and K." We laughed. We had fun cutting down the little town in the 48 seconds it took to drive through it.

"This is one of those towns I'd pass through and think, 'Wow. People live here? Glad I'm not one of them,'" I snorted.

Then we pulled up to Joe and Glo's house. (My friend Joe is named after his Dad. To minimize confusion, from here on out in this story, I'll call my friend what his parents call him - Joe Clyde - even though I know he'd probably thump me in the head if he were here in the same room with me.) Glo received us warmly, saying over and over, "I'm SO glad you're here." Inside, she led us straight back to the patio, where iced tea and root beer awaited us. The local preacher sat with Joe, and stood to shake our hands. Joe tried to shake my hand, too, but I refused. "Uh uh," I protested. "I want a hug." I think he was taken aback just a bit, but he hugged me anyway. Joe is the smilin'est man I've had the pleasure of spending time with in a long time. He's just happy.

And Glo. Well. Glo needs a category all to herself. She joined the kids in the pool, claiming that she couldn't bear to see little kids splashing around and not splashing with them. At first, I sat on the edge, with my feet in the water. She scolded me, and said, "The rules at this pool are, if you're gonna sit close, you better not whine about getting wet." I got wet. I did not whine. In fact, I was soon in the water with them, even though I'd forgotten my suit. Glo just invites that kind of fun. I imagine it would've been a delight growing up with her for a Mom. It made me happy for Joe Clyde.

The Hays's backyard is truly an oasis. It's lush and green, with flowering plants hanging from the eaves and the trees and lining the pool and the waterfall. The whole yard is set apart from the rest of West Texas by a stone wall. I kept forgetting we were in the middle of flat, dry farmland. I was a world away in tiny Tahoka, Texas.

By the time we left the next morning, I understood why Joe Clyde's so homesick. It's not the spot on the map he misses. (Well, maybe it is.) It's the people. It's the Oasis that is his childhood home. The friendliness, the familiarity. After swimming and dinner, Joe and Glo drove out with us to the city limit sign so we could take this photo (which will be part of Ira's Scrapbook Project).

On the way back to the house, we followed behind their truck, and wondered where they were going when we passed Avenue O without turning. I wondered (with a little silent laugh) if they were planning to show us the local sites. Sure enough, Joe pulled his truck over, pointed over the top of it with his left hand, and then pulled back onto the street. I yelped with glee when I saw it:

I envy my friend Joe. I don't have a hometown to get homesick for. I totally understand why he misses his. In fact, now, after spending only 15 hours there, I miss it for him.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

the voice of truth

A couple of months ago, I received an email from an online acquaintance. It read, "Hey, we know the same person. I emailed my friend K and mentioned your scrapbook ministry, and she said, "OH! I know Stacy. She's adorable!"

Those sweet words came on the heels of another email I'd just received that blasted some pretty outrageously hateful vemon in my face. I knew the accusations were false, and yet, I started to believe that I should be punished for them. I knew that I had all kinds of people who'd have my back if I'd just allow myself to vent to them about the problem, but I didn't do it. (Still okay with that decision, actually.) I recognized that God has blessed me with countless friends and acquaintances who are quick to encourage, love and edify me. But even so, I believed the email - things which I knew to be lies, I believed anyway. I identified the attack as being a direct hit from Satan. And YET, I kept allowing myself to be hit. Over and over. I read and re-read the email, pouring salt on the wounds each time I did. WHY? I do. not. know.

Even as I'd get the kindest letters and emails that were meant to lift me up, I'd discount them. "They're just being nice," I'd tell myself.

But for some reason, the words from K kept creeping into the front of my mind. "I know Stacy. She's adorable!" Every once in a while, I'd think, "Hmph. K thinks I'm adorable." And that truth would power me through the rough spots.

I hadn't seen or spoken to K in several years, but I emailed her on Wednesday.

"I know this must sound ridiculous," I wrote, "but then again, I know that your sweet spirit embodies an understanding that I don't even have to try to reach. God used you to speak truth to me. You didn't even know it, but those few little words hung out in the back of my mind, waiting for my self-doubt and -loathing to rise up. At those times, "She's adorable" would ring out. Just as I recognized the other words as being lies of Satan, I recognized yours as being Truth from my Father.
"Of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth."
I've been listening. Thank you for being the Voice."

Within hours, she'd responded.

"Isn't God amazing!! And Oh how powerful are words....both for God and for Satan. My dear, you are more than adorable (although, you are totally adorable) are a daughter of the King. He created and formed you and has equipped you to do mighty things for His kingdom and you have been obedient! Stacy....thank you. Thank you for recognizing God's voice and truth and your honesty and your precious spirit. YOU ARE ADORABLE and I'm so glad that God continues to cross our paths in His random ways....that's why He is so awesome and so sovereign!!!"

There are all kinds of voices calling out to me. But I will LISTEN, and choose to believe the Voice of Truth. And even more, I will be the voice of truth to those around me.

'Cause I'm here to tell you. The Voice of Truth is MUCH more lovely to the ears and soul than the voice of lies.

Go. Be the voice of truth to someone you love. Be the voice to some random person at the grocery store. When you feel prompted to encourage someone -even in the smallest way- LET YOURSELF DO IT. Your voice might be the only one that keeps repeating itself. Your voice might be the one they finally believe.

It's powerful for all involved. Just ask K.

Just ask me.


Friday, July 07, 2006

owie owie owie!

The boys both had check-ups today.
They both needed shots.
I tried to prepare them without scaring them.
Ian went first.


As I held his arms, the nurse expertly jabbed the first needle into his thigh.

The next four went in relatively fast, and with each one, Ian screamed louder and with more terror, to the point that Aidan, sitting in a chair not 6 feet away, started to scream WITH him. "No, no, nonononoNO!" Aidan cried.

Then it was his turn. He was as white as a sheet. He started to tremble, and begged, "No, Mommy. I don't wanna do it. No, no no...."

I looked at the nurse. She looked back at me as if to say, "I don't have time for this."

So I held Aidan as he received his four shots. He wriggled and fought and screamed like a banshee the whole time. It was horrible. We all had tears when it was over.

After the boys calmed down, after we all wiped our tears, and after I loved on them with every ounce of love my heart could muster, we walked down to the lab to have their fingers pricked. They were understandably apprehensive. Aidan looked at me with pleading eyes. I promised him it wouldn't hurt like the shots did. I promised him it was only one little stick. I told him that he had to go first, 'cause Ian had gone first for the shots.

My heart swelled as I watched The Big Brother muster all his courage and climb up on the chair. My eyes watered as he reached out for my hand and squeezed it. He bravely took his finger prick, and we talked about how cool it looked when the lab tech squeezed tiny drops of blood into the vial. I told him how happy I was to see that his blood was RED. That meant he was healthy, and most importantly, NOT AN ALIEN. We laughed.

Then it was Ian's turn. Before Aidan hopped down from the chair, he looked Ian right in the eye, and in the most loving, sincere voice I have ever heard in my life, said, "Ian. Don't worry. It doesn't hurt."

I embarrassed myself when I let a little gulp of cry escape from my throat.
So tender.
So sweet.
So protective.
Such a good Big Brother.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

out of touch

Perched in the Colorado High Country, we were cut off from the world and its excesses. No phones- not even cell coverage, no TV or radio, no newspapers. No Google (can't even remember why we needed it now), no (s'okay. Storms blow up on the mountain every afternoon, but clear out in time for the stars to dance. Figured that out withOUT, no traffic reports (watch out for the chipmunks playing Chicken, for the occasional deer, and for the slow-moving cattle being driven down the road by leather cowboys). By the end of Day One, we were quite over our loss of communication. We decided we really DIDN'T need it.

The cabin was equipped with a propane generator, which we fired up twice a day - for showers and washing breakfast dishes in the morning and for dinner dishes at night. After breakfast that first morning, our media-addicted boys begged for a movie. We put in "Cats and Dogs" and told them they could watch half of it. You should've heard the wailing and screaming and gnashing of teeth when we turned it off.

"NO FAIR!" they screamed.
"I don't WANNA do anything else!" they cried.
"We wanna finish the movie!"

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the mountain. We hiked around and looked for animal tracks, discovered what Aidan labeled as "PokeyPine" trees 'cause they have pokey things like porcupines (which he pronounces as pokeypines), tryed out the 4-wheelers, and breathed in and enjoyed the crisp, clean, dry air. Dani and I started reading the books we took, Darren split some logs, and the boys ran up and down the meadow out front, bringing me flowers and watching the hummingbirds. When the afternoon storms blew up, we gathered around the table to play Uno. I was surprised at how quickly the boys caught on, and that they understood how to strategize and WIN. We had hours and hours of fun playing Uno. Ian cracked us up when he had TWO cards left in his hand one time. He yelled out, "Dos!" He knew it was funny. I 'bout fell out of my chair.

Later that night after dinner, we turned the generator back on and suggested to the boys that it was time to finish their movie. You should've heard the wailing and screaming and gnashing of teeth.

"No fair!" the declared.
"Movies are BORING!" they professed.
"Movies take too long!" they insisted.
"We wanna play more games!"

I laughed. Out loud.
Mission accomplished.
THAT didn't take long.