Friday, August 29, 2008

Moving in

The rental furniture and air freight were delivered today, so tonight is our last night in temporary accommodation! Who would have guessed we would be in our new home in ONE WEEK? Amazing. And what a home! When we went this afternoon to let in the delivery people, we got our first real look at the place. Remember, it was the first house we saw here, so we were looking at it with open minds but no real intent to settle on it at the time. We are happy we did! It has got to be the biggest house we've ever lived in, and it is lovely! The yard is great for us and for the kids. There is so much guest room it's possible our guests won't leave (of course, they have to suck up the flight to get here first). The only catch to our speedy choices is internet will not catch up to us for another week or two. That means unless I find an internet cafe, you will just have to check back from time to time until we can return to the blog. Everything else is sorted, so I guess we can't be too upset about this one area. And once we're back on the desktop, we'll have pictures to share again too!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Check check check!

Another 24 hours and more big items checked off the list!

Tonight, we went browsing and ended up buying on the spot our new Vespa scooter. Actually, it's a new-to-us, used Vespa that's "blinged out" (its bling has bling). Previous owner wanted ALL the goodies, drove it for a few months and then decided he needed a more powerful engine too, so he traded this one in and we got a great deal. Can't wait to share photos. When we have photos, that is.

We will sign lease papers on the house tomorrow morning, and our rental furniture will be delivered tomorrow afternoon. Our air freight will be delivered midday.

We arranged for all utilities to be connected, starting today. The only exception is internet, which will be another 5-10 business days. Alas.

And the biggest, most unexpected check: we found the children's emergency hospital last night. Before you worry, EVERYONE IS FINE. Climb down off your desk, Mom. THE GIRLS ARE OKAY! Remember I wrote about Ellie's cold, saying one day was the worst day and we hoped it would mostly go away by the next (yesterday)? Well, it mostly did. She was happy again and far less cold-y...except for the congestion. The congestion was troublesome, but then again, it always is. By late afternoon, though, I noticed she was breathing very rapidly. Too rapidly for my comfort, so I placed my hand on her heart to find it was racing too. She was happy, her color was good, appetite was normal, etc. so we thought we'd be sure to find a doctor today and take her in. Well, after bedtime, I went in to check on her and, although she still seemed happy/healthy, she was breathing so fast and shallow that she kept stopping to catch her breath without even getting out a whole sentence and she'd developed a fever too. I was afraid to let her fall asleep like that, so off to the emergency room we went. Our relocation agent guided us to Princess Margaret Hospital for Children. Ellie was a superstar! No tears, no drama (told you she was in a good mood!). She let the nurses listen to her chest and watch her belly, and she didn't complain one bit when she had to use the puffer (for the first time ever) three times in an hour. After the treatment, we were cleared to go home with a puffer on the condition that we wake up every 2 hours to check her breathing and decide if she needed more treatment. We did the checks, and she was fine, sound asleep and breathing normally every time. No further need for the puffer last night or today. All is well again. The doctor suspected it was an asthmatic response to the virus she caught. She could have been exposed to just about anything, considering we've been in four countries, three climates, and two huge international flights in the past two weeks. So now we know where to go for children's health emergencies too. Check!
Also, this prompted us to understand the medical system here, so today I took care of finding us a GP, learning about children's immunizations, after-hours clinics, etc. Now we are covered.

It's amazing how accomplished we've been in this first week! This weekend, we will settle into our new home and do some more exploring. First impressions of Perth are highly favorable! When we were shopping tonight, there were local birds scattered over the trees and building roofs, chatting away; they were cockatoos! So fun!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Two big checks off the list

We did it! We snagged the house and bought a car! What a day. Markus and I are still reeling a bit from such snap decisions, but we think all will turn out well. The house is a "character house" with lots of details and charm. Stained glass, high ceilings, wood floors, wrap-around porch, etc. No bath tub still makes me a bit sad (love bathing the girls together!), but in summer, we can get around that with a kiddie pool. And it's summer here for a big part of the year!

We also bought the car that was under the time crunch, or at least we put down a deposit. We will do the actual buying this weekend, when our money arrives from Holland. We're getting a white Honda CR-V. It was between that and the Subaru Forester, and it was a tough call. Ultimately, it came down to "chick car" or "man car", and I'm going to be doing most of the driving. Plus, this is a three chick family. Chick car it is! The rooster (so to speak) will be getting a Vespa, so he's happy too.

Unfortunately, we are picture-free for the moment. Attaching the camera to the laptop caused trauma again, so we're not going there. My desktop computer is in the air freight, which will be delivered by this weekend. We are actually going to move into the house this weekend too! The relocation agent is arranging rental furniture until our sea freight arrives, so we're going to go ahead and settle in although we won't have our things until late September. I'm not sure how long it will take us to set up internet there, but I will try to post from a cafe while we don't have it at home.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Birthday shout-out

I am a big fan of birthdays. HUGE. I love birthdays, and I believe they should be recognized!
That being said, I just missed a bunch of them (three in two days!) and am bound to miss a few more before the dust from this move settles. Happy happy belated birthday, gail, Azure, and Karly! And happy birthday early, Quinn! When I find my calendar, I may unearth more belateds, so happy birthday to you too! Our shipment should find us by the end of September, so maybe I'll have it together by then.

Status update

Perth is the farthest I've ever been from home. Friends and family in Europe are 6 hours behind us, time-wise. Friends and family in the States are 12-13 hours behind. I have got a dear friend only 6 hours ahead of me in Hawaii...if you subtract a day (she's actually 18 hours behind). This makes communication a little challenging, which makes me realize this blog is more important than ever to loved ones trying to keep track of us. It's time for a status report.

We arrived safe and sound on Friday late afternoon, as you know. The flights were great. The girls were great! We are so blessed that they are good travelers. We managed to kill off the worst of the jetlag in Singapore, so all is well (the worst of the jetlag with kids is them falling asleep during the evening and waking in the middle of the night, ready to party for hours before they fall asleep again...right around the time locals are starting to wake up). Now, when the girls sleep, they sleep. When they sleep. Unfortunately, both of them seem to have picked up a cold on the plane (incubation time suggests as much anyway). Stephanie has never had a cold before, so on top of the myriad other changes she's been through, she is super-clingy and unsettled. She's still a happy baby, but she definitely will not sleep on her own. Combine this with the fact that she doesn't sleep when she's not lying flat (i.e., wants to be held but wants to be flat too) and we have big trouble getting her down at night. Ellie is no stranger to colds, but the winter dryness here is unfamiliar after Holland's damp. She has chapped lips and hard boogies, something she never tires of shouting about; as you can imagine, it's hard for her to sleep too. So although my computer is still functional (hallelujah!), I haven't had my normal posting time each day. Don't worry, though! We're all doing fine. Colds happen. Today was really the worst day of Ellie's cold, and we think it will be mostly gone by tomorrow (we hope!). If I'm honest, I don't mind Stephanie's clinginess. She is our koala, and I love it. She is my baby, and she's growing too quickly for I enjoy the closeness while I've got it.

The local news...

We are currently staying in temporary accommodation, a hotel/apartment the company arranged for us. It is walking distance to Markus's office and it is fully decent. Actually, it's fairly large. Two bedrooms, two full baths. A washer and dryer. A minimally fitted out kitchen. We spent Saturday and Sunday exploring a little. On Sunday, we drove up to the view from King's Park, which was incredible. It's wildflower season, so I'm hoping to take and post some beautiful pictures of the local flora soon. The weather is incredibly gorgeous! The skies are a blue that goes on forever without a cloud to be seen, and the temperatures in the sun are heavenly. In the shade and after dark, you quickly remember that it is winter here. Brrr. The sunshine itself is rather intense already, so in that respect, I am not looking forward to summer and worrying about my family's skin.

On Monday morning, our "relocation agent" met us and took us in her car to see a few properties. The rental market is insane here at the moment. She said she believes prices have gone up 100% in the past 2-3 years. Yow. There is such a demand that any good house that goes on the market is usually gone within a week, and usually then to someone with connections to the agent. Combine that with the fact that we've arrived after school has resumed, and there just isn't much out there right now. Markus has been monitoring the market online from Holland (there's a really good real estate site), so we checked it out again before we met with our agent and found two properties in recommended areas we wanted to see. The first house we requested was one she was able to show us (the first one we saw, actually), and it's great! Nearly everything we wanted. I know no house is perfect, but this was close. Lovely home with wrap-around porch. Nice fenced yard (even the front is fenced). Gorgeous hardwood floors and high ceilings. There is a small pool in the back (something we didn't want with small kids), but it is fenced off with a security fence and separate from the rest of the yard. The only real downside for us is no bathtub (two showers). The girls are big fans of bathtime, and I hate to give that up. But it seems silly to give up an otherwise great house (especially since bathtubs aren't common in the older houses/nicer areas), so we put in an application. Ellie likes showers, and there is a huge sink in the laundry room that will be a great baby tub for Stephanie. Now we have to wait and see. The other two homes we saw were "no"s. One was gorgeous inside, but had a useless yard. The other just felt wrong, instinctively, to both of us. Nothing else that seems suitable is on the market now. Yikes. I don't like making decisions quickly. I like to look around, learn, and weigh my options. But if the homeowner accepts our application, house #1 it is, no more looking after only one day of looking and one house in each suburb. I don't really like that, but that's how it is here.

This morning, we went to look at cars. One side of moving internationally is frequent car changes. Markus joked that we should pick a totally different car each time so we can try them all before we finally settle somewhere and make a longer-term purchase. We narrowed our choices down to two vehicles and I test drove them both. When it boils down, they are very similar. Too similar to choose easily, especially since price is also identical. Hmm. One vehicle is on a manufacturer's special right now valid only for the month of August, which means we have until Friday to buy it and get a really good deal. Actually, we need to put down a deposit as quickly as possible (i.e., tomorrow morning) because there is only one in stock that has the options we want. But again, I don't like time pressure. I want to weigh my options. Yet, like the house, if I take the time I like to take, the deal will be gone. If I decide that's what I want after all, too bad for us. A more decisive person might enjoy this. Another person might see the missed opportunity as a "sign" that it wasn't meant to be. I, however, sit and waffle. This time-pressure on big decisions is not fun for a Libra.

The silver lining, however, is pretty easy to see. If we get the house and the car (both of which will be tomorrow or bust!), our two biggest decisions will be taken care of in the very first week. That's pretty darn impressive. We'll keep you posted.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Zombie laptop

Yesterday afternoon, much to my horror, my trusty laptop died. It froze up completely while I attempted to send a brief email, and then it couldn't manage to run the restart software. It just kept flashing a file folder and a question mark at me. All attempts to help it failed. In the (adapted) words of the Monty Python boys, bereft of life, it rested in peace. If I hadn't anchored it to the modem, it would have been pushing up the daisies. It had rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. It was an ex-laptop.
And then it came back.
After a few hours and multiple tweakings, it suddenly came back.
It is a zombie.
And I'm a little afraid of it.
I don't know what I did to kill it, though I'm sure it has to do with an inadequate memory for the most recent software upgrades I installed. Now I'm a bit afraid to put anything else on it, like recent pictures to add to this blog. But in fear is no way to live, so I will upload photos at my own peril and hope for the best. What would this blog be without an overly detailed account of our travels? Here goes nothing! If you don't see a Singapore post here soon, you will know why.

In case you didn't understand the quote reference above, you really should watch:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Technical difficulties

Please excuse the delay in new posting. We are experiencing technical difficulties. Working on it. Will post soon!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Safe and sound!

We are in Perth! After a 12 hour flight from Amsterdam to Singapore, we made a four day stopover to recover a bit from jetlag and spend a few days of vacation in a new place. Yesterday, we flew the remaining 6 hours from Singapore to Perth and arrived safe and sound to find beautiful, clear sunny skies, gorgeous temperatures (it's winter here!), and friendly faces. Now that we have internet access again (the rates charged by our hotel were too extortionate for me!), I'll be posting soon about our time in Singapore. Obviously, there will also be more to come on our new home as Perth unfolds. For now, we're off to pick up a hire car and buy some groceries. After two weeks in hotels, we are ready to eat in again!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back in time to go

We're back! We took a big train ride this morning to make it back to our hotel in time for naps. We'll be taking a big plane ride this evening to wave "bye-bye" to the city we've called home for the past 22 months. But before we go, we should talk about where we've been. I'll give you a few hints:

Any guesses? Those are the most location-specific shots we have from the most un-touristy big city trip we've ever done. On Thursday night following a minor debacle with Dutch trains, we hopped on the Thalys in Rotterdam and headed to PARIS for the weekend! With no real plan and no agenda, we had the best time! Having been to Paris before, we didn't feel obligated to try to see or do anything, so we just went with the flow. The flow involved staying at a great hotel in St. Germain and walking a few blocks to the Jardin du Luxembourg each morning so Ellie could play to her heart's content in their elaborate (paid-entry) playground.

Long naps each afternoon. Riding the carousels in the Jardin des Tuilleries.

Enjoying a delicious meal with the kids in tow.

Okay, so we cheated a little there. But the meal (at La Petite Chaise on Rue de Grenelle) was fantastic. We even wedged in a couple of museums. While Ellie napped, Jennifer and Stephanie made a quick fly-through Jennifer's favorite, the Musee d'Orsay, to see the Impressionists.

We all went to the gardens at the Musee Rodin, in which there is a lovely cafe with yummy chocolate cake (ask Ellie about this).

Ellie also discovered the joy of crepes with Nutella on this trip. Man, oh man.
Going with the flow was just what the doctor ordered (and worked particularly well since Paris is practically empty in August, with all locals on holiday and most shops/restaurants closed). We feel very happy and relaxed, feeling like we had a great last hurrah in Europe before we head out of Europe. This morning, we got up, packed, ate a quick breakfast, and hopped back on the Thalys for The Hague. Thanks to awesome summer rates, we had a whole area of First Class to ourselves.

Just practicing for our Business Class flight to Singapore tonight.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Because we're crazy like that

Today, we finished our business with the house. The packers completed hauling our stuff away yesterday afternoon. The "professional" cleaners "cleaned" the house this morning. The real estate agent "checked over" the house this afternoon. We are done (technically). What's with all the quotes? As part of our rental agreement, we had to hire professional cleaners to clean the house after we moved out. This cleaning cost an outrageous sum. Think of what the word "wedding" can do to a catering pricetag, and you will have an idea of what the word "[Markus's company] paid move" does to a cleaning bill. For five guys for six hours to "clean" the house about as well as I do in three hours while chasing two small children. Disgusting.
Then the estate agent gave up one of her numerous coffee breaks to check us out and receive the keys. She barely glanced around and signed off "okay." This should be fine, but we know from direct experience that the homeowner is not nearly so content to merely glance around. We expect to hear more about this, although papers have been signed and keys are out of our hands.
It's been an ordeal.
And we're still here, waiting on flights Sunday night. Why do that?
Because we have had enough, because we are crazy, because we NEVER throw caution to the wind, we are throwing caution to the wind and hopping on a train this afternoon. We're getting out of Dodge before we really get out of Dodge Sunday night. Expect to read more about this mystery departure sometime soon. For now, I have a bag to pack.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Playdate madness

How do almost-3-year-old girls show happiness at seeing each other? Lots of shrieking and bouncing, of course! (fear not; for the sake of your eardrums, the shrieking has not been captured on video)

Today, we had a playdate with Ellie's friend Sophie, and ooooooo the excitement! Sophie's mum and I were pondering what heights we might reach if only we had one-tenth of their energy...

Editor's note: Most sincere apologies to those of you with delicate sensibilities for the videos YouTube automatically linked to this one. In my naiveté, I originally titled it "bouncing girls". I see now how this went horribly wrong, and although I edited it, the links remain unchanged. Oh my.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Pre-Move Scramble

Starting last night and carrying on through today, Markus and Jennifer are doing the crazy dance called "The Pre-Move Scramble." It involves last minute organizing that should have been done all along; emptying the kitchen cabinets; transporting food/cleaning items to friends' houses; washing every piece of laundry; separating clothes/shoes/toys into pack for now, air freight, and won't-see-this-again-for-nearly-3-months...all while trying to manage two little kiddos who have no way of understanding what is going on. Ellie has flown enough that she is ready to board the plane NOW. This much upheaval surely means we're about to depart, and she is consistently disappointed that we aren't leaving for Schiphol within minutes. Stephanie, contrary to her usual mellow nature, is very fussy and insists on being held EVERY MINUTE (making our dance much slower and more challenging). She knows something strange is happening and doesn't know what, so she wants reassurance. Poor girl. The good news is the dance is almost over. Our day today is so busy because we want to finish all our work before bedtime tonight. We changed our plans slightly and will move into a hotel tomorrow morning, so we will be completely out of the way when the movers arrive tomorrow. I will have my cell phone if you try to reach us by phone, and I will have my laptop for email/blog access (however often that might be accomplished). Wish us luck!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Sample Mama Blog Entry: Edible Rainbow

I see that little poll of mine is largely going unnoticed, so I thought I'd provide a sample post. Here is a mama creation I made this week for our picky eater. Ellie really enjoys the free Sesame Street podcasts on iTunes, and one of the more recent podcasts was called "Eat Your Colors." That gave me the idea for a visual reminder I call the "Edible Rainbow" that I hope will encourage her to try more fruits and vegetables.

I drew this and laminated it with my whiz-bang home laminator, only to have my perfectionist efforts thwarted by wrinkles in the lamination (if you know me, you can imagine my Type A reaction to these wrinkles). Of course, I hadn't scanned it before the Wrinkles of Doom, so you get to see it in all its imperfect glory. But hey, being a parent is all about learning what to worry about and what to let go, and the wrinkles have to go in the latter category (see, I'm growing!). Besides, I can already think of more items to add, so this may just have to be a test run. My plan is to stick some magnetic strips on the back and leave it on the fridge at her eye level. Whenever the food I'm preparing contains dreaded ingredients, I'll help her find them on her edible rainbow. We will also use it when we plan our grocery shopping trips. I may make extra copies for her to bring with us and use like bingo cards to get her interested in observing what's available.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ellie is a big girl

Baby Lolo is a well-cared-for baby. She is breastfed and regularly diapered. She has scheduled naptimes, and her devoted mama is a firm believer in the co-sleeping model. Now, Baby Lolo can be carried in her own "baby yarn" (that's Ellie for "Baby Bjorn"/baby carrier).

Yesterday, we made what is probably our last trip to Blijdorp. Boy, have those membership cards paid off! The weather was downright NASTY yesterday morning, but our resident almost-3-year-old was bouncing off the walls and personally chauffeuring her mama (me) to the asylum. We decided it would be best for all concerned if we got out of the house and went to the (indoor) Oceanarium at Blijdorp. Ellie had a good time, as always, climbing up to see exhibits and running around like a wild thing.

You can see how she is growing up. This photo is from yesterday morning:

And this one is from November (look at how baby she still was then!):

She amazes me every day. Her speech is the best part of this age. She talk talk talk talk talks all the time. Don't wait for her to take a breath to give you a moment to interject; there won't be one. Sometimes, it's downright hysterical! Her logic is evolving greatly as well (much to Markus's and my detriment). That too can be quite impressive. This morning, she woke up at 5 and of course wanted us to get up too. We watched her wander over to our door, look up to the light switch, and pause for a while, clearly thinking. Without a word, she went into the bathroom for her small stepstool (for reaching the sink) and carried it to our door, placing it carefully beneath the switch. She still couldn't reach it, but it was impressive reasoning nonetheless.
There are also increasing occasions when one or both of the parents have to be corrected in our reasoning. Take yesterday afternoon for example. When she came home from the playground with Markus, she was happy and wired. As I escorted her up to her bath, I said she was a monkey and I needed to check for her tail. She pivoted on the spot, looked me carefully in the eyes, and said, "Mama, Ellies have no tails. Monkeys have tails. Monkeys are animals. Ellies are LITTLE GIRLS."
I stand corrected.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

for Coldplay fans

Did you know that the video for "Viva La Vida" was largely filmed in and around The Hague? Given the prevalence of orange flags, I'm guessing they filmed during Eurocup. Take a look and see places we see every day!

A question for you

Perhaps it's only natural evolution in this age of internet that I become more and more engaged with mama blogs and creativity blogs as my own wee ones grow. Being a mom is my full-time job (one I am blessed to have), so it absorbs most of my time and thoughts and certainly all of my energy. As an expat (person living outside one's own country), I often feel quite disconnected from friends and family back home. I get discouraged with all the competitive mothering out there, and I am so pleased to find other moms (however personally unknown to me) who share activities and offer ideas for what works in their families. So my question to you is: Do you think I should start a separate mama blog? I use our current blog primarily to report on our family's doings, but I don't cover much specifically on the creative mama/engaged parent job. Because I have benefited from ideas of others, there are many things I/we do that I'd like to share. I am not a competitive mom, so there will be no "look what I'm doing better than you!" or "here's where your family is lacking" that you may have seen elsewhere. Just some things we do and links we like (goodness, that's a long list!). What do you say? There's a poll on the sidebar. Please cast your vote there, but of course please feel free to comment here if you have some extra feedback! I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Weekly Video Post

Baby Stephanie is a smiley, darling girl. She is a wee bit ticklish when Mama gets to her belly and her neck. But so far the only one to make her laugh out loud again and again is Ellie. She ADORES her big sister. She will happily watch her do anything for however long, and the giggles are too precious not to share.

Efteling, the second

Oma boarded the train and headed home to Ahrweiler today. We had such a good visit! We are happy she was able to come. Markus was able to take time off while she was in town, so we had lots of good family time. And...dream of dreams...we went back to Efteling (AKA Carousel Heaven) on Monday. Ellie hadn't stopped asking about it since we left the first time (literally asking every day to go ride the carousels), so she was THRILLED!

Mama felt very special to be chosen to ride with Ellie despite the fact that the #1 Papa was with us. I was first choice! She wanted me! To ride again and again and again...oh dear. Seven times: five on the "horse carousel", twice on the swings... It was the swings that did it. Green green green. Give me the horse carousel any day. Of course, it was all worth it to see Ellie so happy and excited. Oma was happy too, because she got lots of baby Stephanie time. She loves snuggling that bundle!

Who wouldn't? Look at this girl! Look at those blue eyes!

And of course, there was this day brightener:

Other than Efteling, we mostly stuck close to home. Parks, playgrounds, walks around town. Taking it easy. Markus got a lot of good time with his mom, and his mom enjoyed every minute with the grandkids. I was given Saturday off, so I got a haircut AND went to the movies! Woo-hoo! I am a movie fiend, but I have rarely been since Ellie was born. The only movies I have taken the time and money to see in the theater in the past three years have been the most recent Harry Potters and Pixar movies (I'm sure this says something big about my personality, but I won't analyze). On Saturday it was "Wall-E". Wall-E is so sweet and cute! I just know he wants to come live with us and clean my house.
Someone needs to.

Now, we are gearing up for the move (to PERTH, Lee!). Less than one week away from the packing. Yikes. We sat down today and made three lists of to-dos and to-packs, so now we need to get cracking! Though the movers come next Monday (11th), we won't fly out until the following Sunday (17th). Then we will spend four nights in Singapore exploring a wee bit and adjusting slowly to the time change before continuing on to Perth on Friday the 22nd. There, we will be in temporary accommodation set up by the company. I don't know if we will have internet access there or not, but we should in Singapore so look for updates even after we depart The Netherlands. There is a lot we will miss about this place; there is a lot we won't. In any case, we are looking forward to the next location and getting settled at some point. Visitors welcome!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Alkmaar Cheese Market

Oma is here visiting, so Markus took Friday off and we headed to see the Alkmaar Cheese Market. We had been warned that it was very cheesy (I'm sure that pun was intended), but we risked it anyway. We are, after all, about to leave Holland and the cheese market isn't something you will see anywhere else. We hadn't been before because it is only for a few hours each Friday morning, and Alkmaar is over an hour's drive away (that's far by Dutch standards!). Verdict: worth it, if only to check it off the touristy to-do list. It's cute and fun and completely overrun with tourists, so we fought our way through the hoards just enough to take this photo

and then move on. The parts of Alkmaar immediately surrounding the cheese market are lovely. The architecture has been preserved beautifully for the sake of all the tourists who flock there, and we appreciated it. Of course, it had escaped my attention before we left the house that the camera battery was nearly empty, so this one cheese market photo is it for the day. We had lovely weather, though. That cold spell I was praying for CAME! I am so happeee. The girls are sleeping. Hooray!