Being Creative is Just What I need

Being Creative is Just What I need

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I got a new toy a few weeks ago and basically want to do nothing but play with it.  I bought myself a Cricut Explore Air.  I have had 2 Cricuts in the past, starting with the original machine.  It worked just fine, but only cut small things, so when the bigger one came out I got it and gave the smaller one to my kids to use because they were always asking me if they could cut shapes with it.

And I was completely satisfied with my second machine.  I used it a lot when we had our etsy shop, but once we closed it I only used the Cricut every couple of months if I wanted to perk up a gift or redo a room.  I’d make a Bible verse for the wall or add seasonal images to Mason jars or something else fun like that.

Then my BFF got a new, updated machine and when I saw how it worked my heart skipped a beat.  I knew we had to be together.  So I took the plunge and got one for myself!  The new Cricut works with Bluetooth and I can design on an app that’s easy to use and tons of images available!  Like…..way more than I’d ever need.

I had to watch a few videos before I got the hang of it.  This one, “How to Cricut with Cricut Explore Air Video” was really helpful.  And while you’re at it, check out the project center to see how many things you could make with this machine!  It’s kind of amazing.

I started with making phone stickers.  I have a plain battery case which isn’t cute at all, so I used the Cricut to decorate it.  I made Minnie Mouse both regular and for fall (I used a Disney® Cartridge to make Minnie then added the flowers from another design).

A fun way to use the Cricut Expression Air! Phone cover decor.

I made a Harry Potter style one for our trip to Universal.

Phone case with a Happry Potter theme

Then I made one for my Young Living event this coming weekend.

Make an oily phone case cover! <3

The phone case decorations take about half an hour to make and it gets my creative juices flowing.  I buy all of my adhesive vinyl from Expressions Vinyl.  They have the best quality for the best price and a TON of selection.  It’s kind of dreamy.

And then I discovered that I could make t-shirts with my Cricut.  And now I can’t stop.  I keep asking the boys, “Do you have any blank shirts I can play with?!?!”  I made us all shirts to wear to Universal as a nod to the Marvel area there.  We were all either Team Cap or Team Stark.  (they thought they were being funny to look serious for the photo, you know, like a super hero would)

Marvel tshirts made with the!

What I really love is that I can add Bible verses to make the t-shirt message more meaningful to us.  In this case Team Stark was Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another.”  Team Cap is, “The Lord is my strength and my shield…,” Psalm 28:7.  It was such fun to answer the question, “What is the Bible verse?” and we could tell people and share Jesus.

I made myself an oil shirt that I have been wearing a lot.  I’ve washed all of these several times and they are holding up beautifully.

Make your own tshirts with the Cricut!

And this one I made for a friend who is going to Disney World.

Make fun Disney shirts with the Cricut!

I did some cute pumpkin things too!

Make your pumpkins even cutrer with the Cricut Air!

Seriously, this is just a sampling of what I’ve made.  I’ve created cards, home décor, Christmas stuff, I’ve gone crazy!

I put my new machine on a little table in the dining room and it’s ready to use any time I feel an itch.  If I have a spare 20 minutes I will go in there and make something.

It’s been so satisfying.  I have missed using my creativity lately with all of the traveling and book writing and homeschooling I’ve been doing.  My little Cricut projects use up that energy and they all make me smile when I see them.

I can show you more details about using the Cricut Air and show you how I use it if you want.  But it’s really pretty easy once you get the hang of it.  I will sometimes just open the app and put together a design for later, save it and use it when I’m ready.  That’s really fun because once it’s all designed I can make something in about 10 minutes from start to finish.  That’s what I’m talkin’ bout!

If you like to be creative, but don’t have a ton of time, think about getting a Cricut.  You’ll love it!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook so we can share more ideas!

And in case you’re wondering, this is not a sponsored post and I bought my own Cricut with my own money.  I just really like it so I wanted to tell you about it. 🙂

Getting Back to Normal (Kind of)

Getting Back to Normal (Kind of)

I am sitting in a hotel room in a small Texas town with my computer.  I am supposed to be catching up on emails and blog posts, but instead I am shopping all of the Cyber Monday sales.  I can’t help it.  I need these great deals to fill all of the stockings I have to fill on Christmas morning!

I am in this hotel because I drove 6 hours to Dallas yesterday and didn’t want to drive all the way back home late at night.  I am not good at night driving and now that it gets dark at 6:00 I start falling asleep by 8.  So I stopped about 1/3 of the way home and spent the night.  I was in Dallas to see my niece’s play and take my oldest daughter back after she spent Thanksgiving with us.  Another of my girls went along to spend the week there, so the drive was a fun fest of chatting and singing and planning.  I mostly love to listen to them talk to each other.  It’s amazing to have adult kids who really love each other and I just soaked in the sweetness.

I feel like I am still recovering from our Thanksgiving, which was wonderful!  We had 4 families over and there was so much food that I am still full.  We emptied out the living room to add 2 extra tables and everyone brought their favorite dishes and we stuffed ourselves.  There was so much pie that it was slightly shameful.  We could have opened a diner with as much pie as that.  After the food was put away we played games and that is where the magic happened.  We laughed so hard I had sore muscles around my rib cage.  There is nothing better than a day with good food and great friends!  I hope that your holiday was just as wonderful!

We did go Black Friday shopping which turned out to be not so great deals, but a good time anyway.  I had 2 of my girls with me, my 16 year old son and his friend.  We ran around the mall and Target, saw “Mockingjay – Part 2” and ate Chickfila.  I think we spent a grand total of $25 on deals, but it wasn’t about buying.  It was really about the time spent together.

Once we got home from shopping and ate some leftovers, I was worn out.  I laid in my bed at 8:15 and Levi (my 8 year old) came to talk to me.  He scootched under the covers next to me and started to tell me some of his ideas about a book he wants to write and how I can help him with his Disney collection and on and on.  But I was so tired that I kept falling asleep.  He would hear me snore a little and push my shoulder, “Mommy!  You fell asleep again!”.  I tried to stay awake and he kept talking until finally I must have fallen so hard that he gave up because I woke up at midnight with the lights on and he was gone.  Poor kid.  I will make it up to him with a good listening session one night this week.

I am so happy that it’s Monday and we can get back to school and normal activity.  Or as normal as it gets when you have to boil all of your water like you’re living in circa 1807.  Our hot water heater died and we are struggling to figure out what we want to do.  The plumber has been working with us to figure out if we should change over to an instant hot water system or replace the tank.  I don’t really care as long as I can get this settled within the next few days.  When an appliance goes out on Thanksgiving week you really get to discover what you’re truly thankful for.

AND since they say things happen in threes, I am praying this is the last of our appliance deaths for a while.

I need to get back to my cyber shopping before I have to check out of my room.  Have a great week, friends!

Home from Vacation and Straight to Thanksgiving

Home from Vacation and Straight to Thanksgiving

I should be starting this morning with enthusiasm.  I have grocery shopping and Bible study, answering emails and getting the house ready for Thanksgiving all to do this morning.  But instead I am drinking hot tea in my jammies and considering a 10AM nap.

Our family was on vacation last week and now I am so worn out from all of the running around and eating and keeping up with active boys that I need a break from my break.

We went to Disney World.  It was wonderful and magical, but I got so tired that by the time we pulled in the driveway on Saturday night at 10:00 I wasn’t sure if I could make the walk from the van to the house.  Yesterday I stayed in bed until noon while watching trash TV.  After that I dragged myself to my recliner and stared at the walls, not even trying to get anything done.  I slept almost the entire day and I still don’t feel caught up on rest.

I’d like to stay in my post-Disney stupor today too, but life won’t let me.  We are having a houseful of people here for Thanksgiving, which is such a wonderful blessing!  Since I love my friends, I can’t just lie around wishing the holiday elves would bake the pies and find room in the fridge for all this food.  I have to actually get up.

This morning while I was unpacking my suitcase and putting away the vacation memories, I decided not to put my hair supplies away just yet.  You see, I got a little obsessed with doing fun things with my hair for Disney.  I created a different style for each themed park and it was so much fun that I am thinking of doing some more things with my hair for the holidays.  Maybe a Christmas tree or some kind of fountain.

Here are the styles I did last week.  I got so much interest in them on social media that I will do individual tutorials for them over the next few weeks.  I just need time to recover first.

Right now I have a week filled with baking and shopping and cleaning and hopefully getting some rest before I have to get up at 4:00 on Black Friday to take my teens shopping.  In preparation for Thanksgiving Day, I made a Pin board with some great tips, games and recipes.  This will help me when I get to the store and forget what I was planning to cook.  If you have a great Thanksgiving recipe, I hope you’ll share it with us over on Facebook! I need all the help I can get.

We will be moving all of the furniture out of our living room to make space for a few more tables on Thanksgiving.  I am not sure where the sofa is going to go, I may be crawling over it for the next 4 days.  Hopefully I can still get a few naps in while we get ready for our guests to arrive!

Happy Thanksgiving week my friends!


One Rotten Pumpkin Can Spoil the Whole Bunch

One Rotten Pumpkin Can Spoil the Whole Bunch

Where did Monday go?  I think I missed it somehow.  In fact, I somehow missed the entire weekend because when I sat down this morning to recount the past few days I can remember nothing.  Either it was so simple there’s nothing to remember or I blocked out something dramatic.  Or option number 3….I’m old and my memory is shot.

Whichever excuse, I have nothing to share about the past few days.

With the end of October looming, I am doing some holiday prep.  I don’t like these holidays that sneak up and are over before you can think, so I like to plan out some of the tasks early and get them out of the way.  I made a few Christmas lists and Thanksgiving invites and I set the pumpkins out on the porch.  Finally.

I bought 5 pumpkins about a month ago and they have been sitting in a pile at the edge of the porch ever since.  I have so many ideas for what to do with them, but in the end I just plopped them on a bale of hay with some mums and called it a day.  One of the pumpkins had already gone rotten, so I felt like it was becoming an urgent situation.  I didn’t want the rot to cross over to the other pumpkins and ruin them all, so I spent about 10 minutes setting them around on the porch.  I don’t foresee having any spare time in the next few weeks to decorate the porch more than this so I am settling for git-er-done over Pinterest-worthy.  Story of my life.

I also got some mini pumpkins for the mantle, but it’s not looking hopeful that they will get put up there.  It will only get done if I have a burst of creative energy at the same moment I have unexpected free time.  In other words, not gonna happen.  It’s OK, I can use the mini pumpkins for the Thanksgiving table decorations if they’re still sitting on the floor by the fireplace in another month.

In case you’re also doing some holiday planning, don’t miss my Holiday Gift Guides for Men and Women.  I filled them with products that our family owns and loves!

The next few days are filled with being home and working on my next book while homeschooling the boys.  I went to Costco and picked up easy meals (in other words, expensive) and told the boys to be prepared to do their own cooking and cleaning while I am wrapping up this manuscript.  Frankly, they are thrilled since their meals consist of frozen pizza and pre-made burgers.  I recommended they add a salad to their meal at least once a day, but the chances of that are slimmer than me making a Pinterest worthy fall mantle.

At least there will plenty of lettuce and greens for me to have all the brain food I need while writing.

We have worked out a schedule for the rest of the week where I am giving them lessons while I work.  It involves them checking in with me every hour to let me know what they are doing and I can give instructions.  I am writing each boy’s check-in down on a tablet next to me so I don’t forget which boy was supposed to be doing what and when.  If I don’t write it down then 3 hours will go by and I will get up to stretch and wonder where the boys are.  I won’t remember how long it’s been since they came to talk to me or what they were supposed to be doing.  They are getting too smart to fall for that, “So…. what do YOU think you were supposed to be doing?!  I mean, I know what it is, but do you?” routine.

Motherhood ain’t for the weak.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week with your family and get at least a few pumpkins to decorate with.  Just set it in the middle of your table and enjoy!

Be sure to follow up with the conversation on Facebook!


It’s Fall Y’all!

It’s Fall Y’all!

I am pretty sure in heaven it will be fall weather all of the time.

We are rounding the corner to pumpkins and 75° and warm drinks and wearing layers and it all adds a spring to my step!


The past few days have been filled with family and relaxing and church and all things lovely.  On Friday I had my first full day at home in weeks.  I celebrated by not getting dressed or brushing my hair for the entire day.  I’m thinking of making it a weekly event.  I may even put it on the family calendar so everyone can be prepared for the less-than-stellar look.

After a whole day of playing games with the kids, homeschool assignments and folding laundry, I prepaid to go to bed around 9:30.  After lying in bed for about half an hour I got an idea, what if I went ahead and colored my own hair?!  Because that is the next best thing to sleeping.

I had ordered some do-it-yourself hair color in July and it’s been sitting in my bathroom staring me down ever since it arrived, daring me to use it.  I’ve been too nervous since the first time I colored my own hair I ended up looking like something out of an old horror movie.  I cried for 24 hours afterward until my stylist could get me in to fix it.  But having it done is so expensive that I decided to try it again and apparently Friday was the night to do it.

Frankly, my gray roots were scaring people.  Mostly me.

The color was from eSalon and was pretty easy to do and only took about 45 minutes.  The color looks nice, not as pefect as when I pay the big bucks, but I didn’t cry all day Saturday so that’s one check in the positive column.  I will definitely do it again.

On Saturday morning my kids dressed like pirates so they could go to the city for free donuts and some fun shopping.  My 3 youngest boys couldn’t go pirating (it was just for big kids this time) which I felt really bad about because they had gotten up early and dressed for it.  It nearly broke my heart to tell them they couldn’t go so I told them, “You guys think of something fun you’d like to do and I will take you tonight.”  They chose to go out for Mexican food with ice cream after, which is something we very rarely do.  They sure know how to make the most of the mom-guilt.

Also this weekend I had my first Honeycrisp apple of the season and I picked up some pumpkins for the porch.  Someone should really write a song to the Honeycrisp apple, so enormous and delicious and the perfect amount of crunch.  It’s just another way to celebrate fall.


Sunday we went to church followed by lunch out with an older couple we have grown to love since we have been going there.  Yep, eating out twice in a weekend and I am feeling pretty spoiled.  Let’s just call it fall celebration number three.

After lunch I took the sweetest nap and then went for a walk with the kids.  Really…. the simple goodness just never stopped.

I may have to make this an annual event…. after school starts and the weather cools down I spend a day in my pajamas eating Honeycrisp apples and having Mexican food with friends.  You have my permission to adopt this tradition for yourself.


Sadly, according to the family calendar I will have to actually get dressed each day this week.  There are activities happening every day, but it’s all pretty close to home and we will be together.  That’s all a girl can really ask for.

I hope you’re having a nice September and a wonderful week!

Be sure to continue the conversation over on Facebook!


Are You Ready?

Are You Ready?

Here we are.  The week of Thanksgiving and I haven’t given a single thought to what we will be eating on Thursday.  Not to mention shopping for food.  Oi, the crowds!

Every year we get together with another family that has become like our true family over time.  They are there for us in hard times and share in our blessings.  They will roll in on Thursday morning around 11:00 and we will begin the flow of food that doesn’t stop until around 7:00 in the evening.

Since we already had the whole turkey and dressing meal with our church family yesterday, I am going to skip that this year and we will do something different.  Maybe burgers, maybe Mexican food.  It depends on what strikes my mood while I am at Costco this afternoon.


I do love the freedom of going with my mood.  It can be dangerous though.  It could take me down a path like Alice down the rabbit hole.  I see a pretty bottle of who-knows-what and my mind says “Drink me”.  Then off I go and by the end of my shopping trip today we may be having tea and giant mushrooms for Thanksgiving.

I am also going to preview the new Hunger Games movie while I am out.  My kids are dying to see it.  Last week I saw “Big Hero 6” and it was pretty cute.  I don’t think it will become a family favorite, but I found nothing objectionable in it.

I have a lot of work to do on my book over the next couple of weeks, so my main focus is going to be that.  But since my travel for the year is over, I plan to also take lots of walks with the kids and clean out a few spaces that have been much neglected.  I noticed this past weekend that our pantry has things in it that no one has used for at least three years.  I found a can of soup that I bought in 2009.  It needs to go.

It’s always a struggle finding ways to organize packages that are odd shapes and bags of snack and chips.  I will be spending some time on my friend Becky’s blog, Organizing Made Fun.  She’s got some great pantry organizing ideas!  I may also, if I think I can control myself, make a stop at The Container Store.  It’s risky, especially when I have been “mood” shopping at Costco.  The Container Store is my Kryptonite.

While many of you are preparing for Thanksgiving travel or a houseful of family, I am glad to be settling back and relaxing for a few days.  I hope you have a wonderful time and if you need prayer let me know.  Praying for you is what gets me through my own trials.

Thanks for stopping by!


I Don’t Care If I Look Like a Hillbilly If It’s Free

I Don’t Care If I Look Like a Hillbilly If It’s Free

The big event here has been the new family member we have welcomed into our home, also known as my iPhone6.  It came to live with us last Friday and has pretty much taken all of my attention since it had to be practically nursed into usefulness.

Being technically challenged, getting my new phone to act exactly like my old phone only better feels impossible.  But I do have the advantage of having several teens who think it’s SO fun to teach their old mom new things.  If they didn’t know I would punish them with brussel sprouts for dinner they would probably pat me on the head while transferring my contacts.

Another issue besides the technology obstacle was the case/cover.  Those cases cost upwards of $30 and no way am I going to spend that much unless I completely love it.  So I decided that I would make myself a cover until they come out with one I want.  I got a plastic bubble envelope and some washi tape and made one.  It is actually working pretty well for a free, temporary solution.


Sure I look like a Hillbilly.  I’m OK with that.

In other news, I am leaving this week to spend a few fun-filled days in Nashville with my peeps at Thomas Nelson.  I’ve been writing for them for over a year now and I am so, so excited to meet these friends I have made online.  It’s amazing how close you can get to someone you have only communicated with through Facebook and email.  Well, of course, we’ve also built a relationship around Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.  😉

You will like my latest post there all about how to keep it together when your kids can’t.

I got out my suitcase yesterday and started planning what to take.  Now that I am exercising in the mornings I have a harder time trying to squeeze everything in a small carry on.  The running shoes alone take up half of the space and even though I shove underwear and hairbrushes in them, it is hard to make myself sacrifice an extra pair of adorable wedges.  The price you pay for health and wellness shouldn’t involve a choice between ugly shoes and your favorite sandals.

Having so many trips between now and mid-November, I will be planting my suitcase on the trunk at the foot of my bed and leaving it there during the week, refilling it, then whisking away again.  Normally I would be worried about getting too tired, but I am all oiled up and ready.

What are you up to this week?  Anything fun happening?!



Old Clothes and Japanese Restaurants

Old Clothes and Japanese Restaurants

Being a true American, I overate on Thanksgiving.  I made some eating decisions before the big day arrived so I wouldn’t lose sight of the fact that I am on a diet and regret my choices.  I would allow myself a little bit of dressing and one sliver of pie (in addition to the turkey and salad of course!).

I did stick to my goal except I had a second sliver of lemon pie that night.  Although I felt too full, that wasn’t the problem.  The problem came on Friday night when we went out to eat with my aunt and uncle.  That’s where I lost all sense of right and wrong.

We went to one of those Japanese restaurants where they cook your food at the table.  It was a sight and even though I just ordered chicken, shrimp and veggies, there was something about that food that caused me to lose control.  My plate was piled high with deliciousness and it was shamefully enough to feed a small country.  And I ate every.single.bite.

Afterward I pushed myself away from the table and may have been slightly green.  It left me feeling sick and I am not kidding…..I continued to feel stuffed the rest of the weekend.  If you are reading this in 2014 I am probably still full from that meal.

On Saturday morning I decided enough was enough with my closet full of clothes that don’t fit me and I started cleaning.  I had Elijah, my 10 year old, helping me by throwing away trash and carrying large mounds of clothing from the closet to my bedroom.  I’m not kidding…..there is a mountain in there!  I almost lost him at one point and thought I might have to dive in after him.

I made myself let go of everything that’s too big, which was almost everything.  Now this is embarrassing to admit, but I felt so sad getting rid of those things!  I know it’s just clothes and it’s a victory and all that.  But cute, modest, plus-sized clothes are hard to find and as I watched them get tossed onto the pile I felt pangs of sadness.  I really will miss some of them.

I’m not sure what to do with them now.  I am considering selling them on eBay or Craig’s List.  But that would involve a lot of work and I don’t know if photographing clothes, listing them then packaging them to ship is how I want to spend my Christmas holiday.  What do you do with your old clothes that are perfectly good? 

We spent the rest of the weekend doing the second most popular Thanksgiving tradition….the decorating of the house for Christmas.  It’s a slow progression and this full, tired, nearly clothesless mom took her sweet time getting it all set up.  Each of the kids had an assignment involving some form of Christmas decorating right down to the repair of last year’s nutcracker decoration.

I am so glad I painstakingly stored it in my closet and have been stepping carefully over it for a whole year only to pick it up and and have it fall apart in my hands and need to be completely reassembled.

Note to self: just go ahead and store the nutcracker decoration with all of the other Christmas ornaments this year.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and I really hope you were wiser than I when it came to your food choices.  May your December be merry and bright and all your nutcrackers be intact.


Two Great Homemade Mix Recipes!

Two Great Homemade Mix Recipes!

In my Taco Soup recipe (which I made last weekend and will make again this coming weekend because I can’t live without it) I mentioned that we make our own taco seasoning and ranch dressing mix.  So I thought today I’d share with you how we make those.  It’s so easy and you can be confident that you know exactly what is in your mixes!

Homemade Taco Seasoning:

2 tsp instant minced onion
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp crushed, dried red pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch of dried oregano
pinch of paprika

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in cool, dry place in an airtight container.

This makes one “packet.”  I usually make a huge batch and keep it ready to use.  We make taco meat several times a week, so it goes pretty quickly.

Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix:

1/2 C dry buttermilk
1 TBSP crushed, dried parsley
1 tsp dill weed
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp onion flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender until mixed well.  Store in a fridge in an airtight container.  One heaping tablespoon makes a “packet” of ranch dressing mix.  Again, I make up a lot at once and use it often.  I often add fresh chives when I am ready to use it.  It’s great for not only the Taco Soup, but mixed with yogurt for a quick salad dressing, rubbed on chicken for baking, added to mashed potatoes….yum!

It’s so easy and with some of us sensitive to gluten and all of us trying to avoid msg we like to make our own as much as possible.

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Embracing Modesty, No. 38

Embracing Modesty, No. 38

Between the weather changes and my weight loss, I am having fun experimenting with my outfits.  My old clothes that I have been keeping in my closet “in case they ever fit again” are actually starting to FIT!  They are dusty and not as stylish as they were 100 years ago, but I am enjoying it anyway.

This past week I only went out a couple of times.  Once to run errands for the day and another to the grocery store.  Not the excitement of a New York socialite, but this countryfied city girl is happy with her simple life.

This first look was just a grocery store day.  I try to look kind of nice so I don’t end up on the people of Walmart website.  It’s a fear I have…..finding myself there one day.  I also have a fear of heights, but that doesn’t really apply to my outfits.  Unless I’m going bungee jumping, in which case I don’t think my modesty would be first in my thoughts.  Death trumps skirts.

I love to mix patterns, so on this day I wore a pink swirly top with a striped skirt.  The black vest ties it all together.  I had on a long silver necklace, but I took the picture before I put it on.  But a long necklace will elongate your body.  It’s all about creating the illusion of slimness.

In these next pictures, my errand day, I wore a denim skirt that I love, but it kept falling off all day, so it will probably be my last time to wear it.  It’s a happy/sad thing to lose your favorite pieces.

This is a brown t-shirt and vest.  I’ve had the vest for-ever and it’s just fitting me again after so long….just in time for fall!

But of course, it’s really all about the pearls.  They distract from the imperfections everywhere else.  And be sure to play with your accessories.  The necklace didn’t look right just hanging there, so I tucked it under the back of the collar and it improved it 100%.

I hope you’re enjoying wearing some of your fall clothes.  Play with your things and see if you can find a new way to wear something old.

Getting into fall and figuring out what to wear .... The Pennington Point

Be sure to check out my Embracing Modesty Gallery to see the rest of the posts in this series.

Follow my Pinterest Modesty Board for more ideas!