Fibro Fog Hits an All-Time Low…

I’d like to say this will be an interesting and articulate blog post, but the truth of the matter is that I’m really struggling this morning and may not be able to correctly string words together into sentences.  The cognitive disaster known to many as ‘Fibro Fog’ has been my nemesis this morning and it’s not showing any signs of retreat.  Last week was difficult because of physical discomfort – nerve pain was off the charts a few times, a couple of days when I walked it felt like there were shards of glass in the bottoms of my shoes (when I even put shoes on), and a couple of days ago was exhaustion and fatigue laden…. Apparently today is “battle for the brain” and I’m the contestant.

Let me just say what’s bothering me and move on — I was trying to do some household/bill related items about 30 minutes ago and I couldn’t remember my social security number.  That is the lowest the fog has made me feel.  (Of course, just making that statement is relying on me to remember a time that it has been worse… and since I’ve just proven that my memory is off-the-charts bad today, I’m not exactly trustworthy.  *sigh*)  After being unable to recall more than the first three numbers and that there might be a ‘4’ or a ‘5’ somewhere in the remaining digits, I was stumped.  Absolutely and completely stumped.  I immediately burst into tears and now want to go back to bed and lay there under the blanket until my mind has returned from its sojourn in la-la land.  (It seems I’m not struggling with word recall today – that was Saturday during my fight through fatigue.)

I’m ashamed.  Embarrassed, humiliated.  All of those icky words that make you want to duck your head and avoid eye contact.  Luckily my husband was the only one to witness the demise of my memory and seeming departure of my intellect, however, he quickly became uncomfortable with the force of my sobs and went back to doing some work around the house.  I can’t really blame him, but sometimes it’s easy to want to lash out because of his obliviousness to the terror I feel and the overwhelming sense of dread that surrounds me like a cloud.  Questions swarm to the forefront of where my mind used to be – Am I going crazy?  What if this never gets better?  How long will the fog last this time?  What if it doesn’t go away?  It’s not his fault that he doesn’t understand – I’m actually glad he has no idea what this feels like!  But of all the things that fibro and ME/CFS are stealing from me, this is one of the worst!

There’s no real point to this post except to offer empathy and understanding to the people out there that DO know what I’m talking about.  That have a real fear that they wouldn’t be able to tell someone their phone number if caught at the wrong time.  The people who take precautions so that if they’re asked for their home address they’ll have some sort of back-up in case they don’t know where they live…  It’s horrible and scary and humiliating… and I understand.

much love & support,
~heath

Go watch the video on this great post & read some other views:

http://fibromodem.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/fibro-fog-feels-like-early-dementia/#comment-1048

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Catch Up Post & Try it Out Tuesday – the Saturday Edition…

It occurred to me that with the kind of week it’s been I managed to go through the entire thing without making time for any blog posts…. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure I’ve posted anything since my last ‘Try it Out Tuesday’ post.  So sorry!  I had a couple of things I wanted to encourage you to try when I posted this week and, frankly, I don’t actually have the energy to go into much detail now.  The fibro created some painful, difficult times during the last week, but the issue today has actually been more ME/CFS fatigue related.  I told hubby earlier that days like this were hard.  When the fatigue is this bad and I have things I have to get done I feel like I have to fight for every minute and action of the day.  It’s like a tug-of-war between me and the waves of exhaustion.  *sigh*  Anyway!  You probably didn’t stop by to hear me whine!  That’s just a bit of explanation of why this is going to be pretty short and sweet.  🙂
The topic of Tuesday’s ‘try it out’ post was about a few different ideas from Pinterest, each one addressing some sort of household tip or trick.  Since I don’t have much focus now I’m going to share the most effective and helpful and save the others for a different day, so make sure you check back!

 

Pinterest users share many different types of pins related to cleaning, but one of the first ones I saw that really caught my attention was regarding laundry… specifically – towels.  Our washing machine is in our basement.  To reach it you have to go outside the house, down the stairs and into the basement.  It’s doesn’t have heat or air so if a load of laundry is left in the washer too long during hot weather it can develop a smell.  This is particularly true with towels, which already run the risk of picking up an old, mildew smell.  One of the things that really bothers me is to take a shower, feel nice and clean and then dry off with a towel that has a smell that is slightly ‘off’.  It can make me feel like I need to take another shower.  🙂

When I saw that someone had pinned a link back to a blog with laundry tips for towels I automatically added it to my household board.  The solution is a simple one and I’ve run two loads to make sure it works – I’m thrilled to report that it does!  Simply set the water temp to hot and begin filling.  Add a cup of white vinegar (the instructions I read said anywhere from 1-2 cups), let the water dilute it a little before adding the towels so that it doesn’t discolor your towels, put the towels in and let it run a normal cycle.  Don’t add any detergent – just the water and vinegar.  After it has completed run the load again with your regular laundry detergent.  I left the temp at hot, as per the directions, and just restarted the load and let it go.  That’s it!  When the second cycle is complete put your towels in the dryer and dry them as you normally would.  If you’d like to increase their absorbency don’t add any fabric softener.

The first load I ran came out great and there was no residual vinegar smell or anything.  Just to get a different opinion I got a second load together with a washcloth I found crammed under the hamper.  It had a little slight mildew smell and I made my husband smell it beforehand and then made him smell it again after.  He thought it smelled great and judged the experiment a success!  This is definitely a household tip I’ll use again.  🙂
I’ll try to come back later and link up some other sites for ya!  In the meantime – thanks for stopping by and hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!   🙂

Try it Out Tuesday – T-shirt Yarn

 

Several weeks have gone by since I started writing “Try it Out Tuesday” posts.  Each week I have read the corresponding blog or instructional information related to a pin I’ve added to a board on Pinterest.  My goal was to make sure I didn’t just collect a bunch of ‘pins’ without ever trying out the recipe/craft/project/idea that the pin represented.  So far all the ‘Tuesday’ blog posts relate to cooking and recipes, so this week I wanted to try something from my board of craft ideas!

The pin project I chose links to instructions on how to make t-shirt yarn.  This is something I’ve wanted to learn for a while because there are many things I can do with the yarn once created – scarfs, rugs, necklaces, wrapping/packaging supplies.  I’ve been trying to make an effort to be more ‘green’ around our house and upcycling old socks and scraps of fabric into rags is something I’ve done for a while.  After seeing several examples of braided rugs I thought it would be great to recycle old t-shirts into yarn so I could create my own rug without having to buy any supplies!  (If I get around to the rug I’ll definitely stop back by the blog and let you know how it turns out!)

This pin links back to Bailey’s website – Let Birds Fly.  She has all kinds of creative projects and ideas and links back to loads of interesting bloggers!  Although I’ve taken enough photos to show each step of this project, please consider visiting her post for the complete instructions – give her blog the traffic it deserves!  Besides, her instructions and photos are much nicer than mine.  🙂

gray t-shirt, grey tshirt, grey t-shirt, t-shirt and scissors, materials for creating t-shirt yarn

If you’re going to make t-shirt yarn you will need an old t-shirt (whatever color or size you like) and a pair of sharp scissors.  I can’t stress this point enough – if you don’t have a pair of fabric scissors, consider investing in a student pair, at the very least.  The first time I tried this using older, worn-out scissors it took much longer and the results were not very neat at all.  As for the t-shirt – different types of material will yield different results, as will different styles of t-shirts.  The yarn will work best on shirts without any side seams or logos, and I found that a heavier cotton produced yarn that curled in more on itself creating the look I was going for.  Depending on what type of project you plan on using the yarn for you may want to consider experimenting with different types of fabric to see what works for you.

trim t-shirt to create yarn, cut bottom hem off t-shirt as first step in making yarn, trimming unnecessary pieces of t-shirt off before creating yarn, upcycling t-shirts, upcycling tshirts, recycling t-shirts, recycling tshirts
Since the object is to end up with a continuous loop of plain t-shirt material, the first step is to cut off the bottom hem and cut off the top of the shirt just below the arm holes.

 

folded gray tshirt, folded gray t-shirt, folded grey tshirt, folded grey t-shirt, folding a t-shirt to create yarn
Fold one side of the remaining t-shirt on itself leaving about an inch margin at the side of the shirt.

 

 

cutting even strips of t-shirt material to create yarn, creating t-shirt yarn, making t-shirt yarn, making tshirt yarn, creating tshirt yarn, cut even strips into folded t-shirt, upcycling t-shirts, recycling t-shirts
After folding a t-shirt, begin cutting evenly spaced strips almost all the way to the fold on the other side – continue to leave a margin of about an inch or half an inch. Do not cut all the way across.

 

After cutting evenly spaced strips all the way up the folded section of t-shirt you should have something that looks like this:

 

evenly cut strips of t-shirt, t-shirt cut into even strips, strips of t-shirt material, strips of tshirt material, creating t-shirt yarn, how to make t-shirt yarn

 

This is where I have to start being really careful to make sure I’m going to make my cuts correctly.  🙂  At the margin of shirt where the material has not been trimmed, you will make cuts diagonally across the margin to connect each loop of material to the next.  This is how you end up with one long, continuous strand of t-shirt material.

 

making a strand of t-shirt material, upcycling t-shirts into yarn, going green, reusing old shirts, recycling old t-shirts, making your own yarn, how to make t-shirt yarn

 

Go ahead and unfold the shirt loops/strips you have created so you can straighten out the margin of fabric you’re about to cut.  I’ve found the easiest way to keep this straight and not get the shirt tangled up is to slide something into the shirt like a cardboard tube or rolled newspapers so that the loops of material go around it and the uncut portion rests on the top of it.  Since I was trying to take photos of the process, I had a hard time correctly showing this step, but Bailey does a good job of explaining it in her post so I would highly recommend reading her instructions before continuing.  🙂

 

cutting diagonal strips in t-shirt material, creating t-shirt yarn, turning looped t-shirt material into a continuous strip, making a long strand of material from a t-shirt, how to correctly cut t-shirts into strands for yarn
Make sure you cut diagonally up one ‘step’ in order to make a continuous strand of fabric. If you cut straight across you’re just cutting the body of the t-shirt into loops.

 

After making all of the diagonal cuts you may still have a loop on the end where you started – cut a diagonal going in the other direction to open up the loop and finish the strand.  You should have a pile of material in one continuous strand like this —

 

pile of t-shirt material, t-shirt cut into one strand of fabric, one continuous strand of fabric

 

Almost done!  In order to create a neat and finished look the yarn should be stretched.  Take the end of the strand in one hand, put your other hand 12-15 inches further along the strand and pull in opposite directions.  As you pull the material against itself and stretch it out the edges of the strip of fabric should begin to curl in creating a nice consistent appearance.

 

stretching t-shirt material into yarn, stretching cotton tshirt, stretching cotton t-shirt, stretching t-shirt strips into finished yarn, finishing t-shirt yarn

 

Don’t pull so hard that the actual material rips (I did this with my first shirt, but it was older material that didn’t have much give left), and don’t slide your hand along the rope of fabric while pulling in the other direction or you might end up with rope burn on your hands.  🙂  Just pull it section by section (until your arms get tired) and then you’ll have a finished pile of yarn!

 

pile of t-shirt yarn, gray t-shirt yarn, grey t-shirt yarn, gray tshirt yarn, finishing a pile of t-shirt yarn, t-shirt yarn ready to be rolled into a ball, how-to t-shirt yarn, making t-shirt yarn

 

After you’ve finished stretching the fabric you can roll it into a loops, wrap it around something to keep it straight or roll it into a ball like you might do with regular yarn.

 

completed t-shirt yarn, t-shirt yarn ball, t-shirt yarn loop, loop of t-shirt yarn, finished t-shirt yarn, finished tshirt yarn, t-shirt yarn project

 

There are lots of photos with this post but the actual process doesn’t take that long… If you decide to make your own yarn leave a comment and let me know what you’re planning on using it for – I’d love to hear about it!  Also, as always, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to hang out with me for a while!

Take care!
~heather

 

ME/CFS & Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

May 12th – technically today – is ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

I wish I had time to go into how important this is and how many people are impacted by these medical conditions, but I only have a few minutes to write now.  Hopefully I’ll be able to drop back in later and give you better information, but I was on my way to bed and wanted to take just a moment to put this out there while there’s still time for someone to read it and show their support.  🙂

May 12th was chosen as the awareness day for many neuroimmune diseases – including Lyme Disease, Gulf War Illness,  and MCS or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.  The date was chosen because it is Florence Nightingale‘s birth date and Nightingale was believed to be the first person with a recorded case of chronic fatigue syndrome.

There are many different views of how to label Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also referred to in some countries as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome.  Regardless of how it’s labelled or what it’s called, it’s a complex condition that involves serious central nervous system abnormalities and irregularities of the cardiovascular and immune systems.  I’ve heard it referred to as a neuroimmune disease, an immune dysfunction syndrome and a crock of phoo-ee.  In the end, what I can quickly share with you is that it robs a person of their health and vitality.  It can turn the healthiest athlete into a bed-ridden hermit.  The cognitive impairment and physical exhaustion that occur are so profound that at times someone with this condition may feel like there is no hope of ever leading a ‘normal’ life again.

Many people with ME/CFS also suffer from fibromyalgia – they often go hand in hand.  Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain along with cognitive issues, fatigue, sleep disruption and memory problems.  The list of symptoms for fibro is lengthy (although not as lengthy as an 18 page symptom list I’ve read for ME/CFS) and varies from person to person, but can include IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), migraine headaches, neuralgia (severe nerve pain) and odd things such as allodynia – hyper-sensitive skin.  The most recent one I’ve been dealing with is neuralgia and it can be pretty horrific.

I wish I had more time to add some good links of information and go into the struggle of trying to live with these conditions in this post… however, my point of writing this was to ask you to please show your support.  Many may not know that you’re supporting anything and you may not even have the opportunity to explain to anyone, but someone out there will probably notice and be grateful…  As with most “Awareness” days May 12th has a color scheme.  🙂  Wearing something blue shows support for ME/CFS and wearing something purple shows support for fibro.  I really needed a blue and purple striped shirt since I have both, but I’ll probably go with blue since the ME/CFS has taken more of a toll on me.

I would personally like to thank you for just taking the time to read this.  It’s hard enough to live like this and even more difficult when I’m misunderstood because of it.  Speaking out is the only way to educate people and dispel the misconceptions.  I choose not to be silent.  I hope you will too.

🙂

 

 

Try it Out Tuesday – Baked Oatmeal

So far all of my Tuesday posts have been recipes and I would like to apologize for writing about another one this week!  I’ve got another idea entirely for next week’s post if you can just hang with me until then!  🙂   Part of my current obsession with recipes is to try to find things that are healthier options to put into rotation at our house.  Since my fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue keep me from being as active as I should be, I’m making some dietary changes – also good for both conditions anyway!  (FYI – CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia Awareness Day is this Saturday – May 12th – and I would love to encourage you to show your support by wearing blue for CFS/ME or purple for Fibromyalgia!  This blog post has some great ideas about how to get involved and I hope to add a post here sometime tomorrow or Thursday… but that’s another post.)

 

My desire to try some new, healthy meals wasn’t just for my health – I was also trying to find some things that would appeal to my husband.  He often eats only one or two real meals a day and in my search to find something he might eat for breakfast I came across an idea from this pin on Pinterest.  The link in the ‘pin’ leads back to Brenda’s blog called ‘Sugar-Free Mom’ and I would definitely encourage you to check it out because she’s got some other recipes that look and sound great!  (I think I’m going to have to go back and have a look at her ‘Orange Vanilla Frozen Yogurt Mini Pops’ recipe sometime soon!)
The recipe I tried from Brenda’s site was for the “Personal Sized Baked Oatmeal with Individual Toppings: Gluten Free and Diabetic Friendly”.  It was really important that the recipe not only be healthy but easy to eat on the go since I knew hubby wouldn’t make time to sit down and eat each morning.  Rolled oats are very healthy so I looked at several types of recipes featuring them, but since he doesn’t generally like oatmeal I was also looking for something that could be customized to appeal to his taste preferences.  The recipe I found at Sugar-Free Mom met both of those requirements.

 

breakfast cupcakes, oatmeal cupcakes, rolled oat cupcakes, oatmeal cupcakes with toppings, oatmeal cupcakes with chocolate chips, oatmeal cupcakes with nuts, breakfast cupcakes with chocolate chips, healthy breakfast muffins, oatmeal muffins, rolled oat muffins, baked oatmeal, baked oatmeal cupcakes, baked oatmeal muffins
Baked Oatmeal with Individual Toppings from SugarFreeMom.com!

 

 

breakfast cupcakes, oatmeal cupcakes, rolled oat cupcakes, oatmeal cupcakes with toppings, oatmeal cupcakes with chocolate chips, oatmeal cupcakes with nuts, breakfast cupcakes with chocolate chips, healthy breakfast muffins, oatmeal muffins, rolled oat muffins, baked oatmeal, baked oatmeal cupcakes, baked oatmeal muffins
I tried several different options to find out which flavors we would like best…

 

This was one of the first recipes I tried for these posts and unfortunately, when I prepped these I was on the verge of my April plague so I didn’t get the best photos and I didn’t take many…  I’m so sorry!  I plan on making these again soon and if I think of it I’ll take some new photos and post about any changes I made.

The recipe Brenda has created is really easy to follow and easy to make.  She also offers a list of options and tips to make sure you get the best breakfast muffins possible when you try this recipe.  The way I customized it was to try several different toppings.  I asked my husband to pick out some things from our pantry and the baking section at the store so I knew he’d like the choices available.  He chose nuts, peanut butter baking chips and small milk chocolate chips, to name a few.  My choice was dark chocolate chips and those actually turned out the best.  🙂

 

breakfast cupcakes, oatmeal cupcakes, rolled oat cupcakes, oatmeal cupcakes with toppings, oatmeal cupcakes with chocolate chips, oatmeal cupcakes with nuts, breakfast cupcakes with chocolate chips, healthy breakfast muffins, oatmeal muffins, rolled oat muffins, baked oatmeal, baked oatmeal cupcakes, baked oatmeal muffins
Finished breakfast muffins – baked oatmeal muffins – cooling on a rack.

 

Since I got sick right after making them I actually didn’t eat more than one or two.  My husband liked them a great deal (!!!) and took one for breakfast each morning for a week or more.  When I try the recipe again I’ll scale back and only include the toppings we liked the best and I may incorporate them into the actual muffin cup instead of just adding them to the top… I’m glad we tried this one because the content is SO healthy and guilt-free (unless you got the one that was completely covered with chocolate chips… lol!).  It’s hard to get unhealthy with these ingredients – rolled oats, flaxseed meal, milk, a banana, applesauce – see what I mean?  Go check it out!  If you decide to make these baked oatmeal muffins come back and let me know what you think!

 

Happy Tuesday!  🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

Here I am posting my ‘photo challenge’ at the 11th hour, as usual.  🙂   I’ve had the photos picked out to post, but unfortunately, a pretty stout headache this morning had turned into a full-blown migraine by tonight…  After hours of ice packs and pain meds, I’ve finally taken the edge off and I’m going to try to get some sleep.  (YAY!)  Since I already had the shots I thought I’d drop by and put ’em out here.

The theme this week was “Together” and although there were a couple of other photographs I would’ve liked to share there wasn’t time.  Maybe they’ll fit into the theme a different week!

baby animal and mother, mother and baby donkey, baby mule, donkey grazing, donkeys in the field, mules
Sweet baby stays close to mom…

 

sweet couple, older couple in the ocean, older man and woman swimming, man and woman at beach, grandparents at the beach
This sweet couple went out into the water most days that we were on our vacation… She would swim on out pretty fearlessly and then wait for him while he slowly made his way out with his inner tube to keep him afloat. They were so cute together!

 

baby ducks, mother duck leads her young, ducklings, baby ducks swimming, ducks in the river,
A mother duck trying to keep her young together as she leads them in a swim down the river.

 

two shadows, shadows on the sand, the shadows of two people on the sand
Pretty disheartening how much bigger my shadow is than my mom’s… lol!

 

pelicans flying, pelicans in v formation, birds flying in a v, pelicans against bright blue sky
It’s the ‘pelican patrol’! I love how they always stay together in such great formation…

 

I’m glad you stopped by and hope you enjoyed!  🙂

Take care~
Heather

Try it Out Tuesday – Penne Rosa with Shrimp

I don’t eat pasta very often… It’s not that I don’t like it – I do!  When faced with fresh macaroni and cheese I’m like a five-year old and eat every bite, even if it means I leave protein or veggies on my plate.  🙂  When I began cutting back on extra carbs pasta was one of the first things to go (along with my beloved mashed potatoes) – at that point there weren’t many whole grain pasta options at the store down the street from my house.  Things have changed since then, of course, but I’ve been slow about adding pasta dishes back to the rotation.  When I saw the recipe for ‘Penne Rosa with Shrimp’ on Pinterest, I thought it looked and sounded tasty and decided I needed to give it a try.

One of the things I liked about this recipe was the inclusion of greek yogurt in place of heavy cream.  The blog author (Cassie at ‘back to her roots‘) actually created the recipe as a healthier version of a pasta dish she loves from a restaurant near her office.  The instructions she provides are clear and easy to follow and the finished product made a very filling dinner that hubby and I both agreed was a ‘keeper’!  I’d love for you to show her some love by visiting her blog for the actual recipe, but I took some photos to share with you in case my endorsement wasn’t enough.  🙂
The first thing I did was get my pasta ready to go.  Keeping healthier options in mind, I decided to add one more vegetable component in the form of pasta!  I used a penne, but my husband had brought home a much healthier alternative to most dried pasta because it contained several types of vegetables – carrots and squash, I think, among others.  It was neglectful of me not to look at the brand information so I could pass that on to you, but I’ll try to remember to do so the next time!

browning garlic, cooking with garlic, garlic and olive oil in a skillet

After warming some extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet I added minced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.  After softening the garlic the recipe calls for the addition of chopped tomatoes and chopped button mushrooms.  When I picked up the ingredients I needed to make this dish I found that baby portabella mushrooms were the same price as white mushrooms and looked better, so although our version of this dish had a bit more mushroom that was fine with me!  The only thing I would suggest if you try this with baby bellas is draining some of the fluid after cooking the mushrooms.  They release more water than standard mushrooms, so my sauce was a little watery when I finished.  (I added a touch more yogurt and it thickened up a bit…)

mushrooms and tomatoes, chopped tomatoes and mushrooms in a skillet, chopped baby bella mushrooms with tomatoes, cooking with tomatoes and mushrooms
Baby bella mushrooms and tomatoes~

I would highly recommend getting shrimp that has already been deveined simply because it saves time.  Mine, unfortunately, was not!  It’s not difficult to clean shrimp, but it will lengthen your prep time and, as with everything else in a kitchen, should be done carefully.  If you haven’t ever done this and need instruction there are lots of great tutorials online that will walk you through the steps.   (Some links even have videos to show you step-by-step!)

shrimp with tomatoes and mushrooms, cooking shrimp and mushrooms and tomatoes, making shrimp pasta with vegetables
Cooking shrimp with the tomatoes and mushrooms.

Almost done!  One of the last things you need to do before adding your sauce and greek yogurt is to wilt some spinach in with the shrimp mix already in the skillet.

wilted spinach with shrimp and vegetables, spinach with shrimp and vegetables
We both really like spinach so I added a lot!

You can see in the picture above that there is a bit of fluid accumulating in the bottom of the skillet.  I think it would have been just *slightly* better if I had drained a little of that.  Cassie’s original recipe doesn’t call for this, but she also didn’t add baby bella mushrooms.  Oh well!  It was still good!

At this point you’re ready to add the drained pasta and sauce to the skillet and heat it through.  Then, plate it up and add a bit of shredded parmesan if you’d like…

penne rosa with shrimp, shrimp pasta dinner, shrimp pasta skillet, penne pasta with shrimp and vegetables
Dinnertime!

My husband had a pasta bowl and was dishing it out as I took this picture, so I had to decide if I was going to spend the time getting a photo of a nicely arranged bowl or join him.  It smelled great, so I decided to forgo the last photo of this series in order to have dinner with him.  lol!  I thought I’d go back later and take another shot but never got around to it.  Sorry gang!  Don’t let it dissuade you from giving this a try, however… If you like shrimp and vegetables with pasta then this might find a place on the dinner rotation at your house!

Bon appetit and thanks for stopping by!