First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak. Epictetus, Greek Philosopher
Not that anyone has ever asked, but I thought that maybe I should explain (just in case the thought ever crossed your mind)…why hymningandhaing? If it sounds familiar and looks horribly misspelled, then you’re right on both accounts. The title is my take on the familiar idiom “hem and haw.”
When I began writing this blog in 2011, I planned to share bits and pieces of my faith along with my everyday life and I wanted a title that would reflect that theme (go with me on this one, the road is a little twisted here….) To hem and haw means to dither, refuse to give a definitive answer and to keep one’s options open (according to The Word Detective at least.) So while the more familiar version of hemming and hawing connotes a level of indecisiveness, uncertainty and fence-sitting, my interpretation is a little more personal. The “hymning” part is a playful way of suggesting that while I’m a pastor’s wife, I am also the least literate hymn person in the congregation! I didn’t grow up in church so for the most part the hymnal is full of dozens of songs I’ve never, EVER heard of. Not exactly what you’d expect from the so-called “first lady of the church,” (a title that makes me giggle every time!) While this might seem like a sad state of affairs, the “haing” part of the title (pronounced ha-ing…like ha, ha, ha) suggests that I try to take all this in stride and accept the fact that no matter what role I find myself in (wife, mother, sister, friend, etc.) I always try to find the lighter side of things and not take myself too seriously. Afterall, NONE of this was my plan. I am just grateful that God’s plans are so much bigger than anything I could have imagined for myself! And that’s where the original hemming and hawing meets my variation. I don’t know where all this is going or how it will all play out. For the most part, I try to stay open to the possibilities, be thoughtful in all situations and just wait and see…realizing that I don’t have all the answers (if any at all.)
So that’s it. It’s definitely not an earth shattering revelation. Just a little insight. Although I will admit that it makes me belly laugh every time someone mispronounces the blog title! My favorite to date is when someone asked me why I call it hymning-and-HAYing…is it because I live on a farm? (No, I don’t.) :)
I stay up late every night and realize it’s a bad idea every morning. —unknown
As I near 40, I’m almost ashamed to admit it. Almost. But here’s my confession: When it comes to sleep I am my own worst enemy. I think I might have jinxed myself as a kid when I muttered that both food and sleep were overrated. While I still hold these tenets to be true, I have come to discover that sleep is pretty vital (I’m sure food is, too…I just don’t want to admit it or PREPARE it.)
It’s not that I don’t need sleep. Trust me, I NEED it! It’s just that my clock is “off.” I could try blaming age, but my real trouble with sleep began way before that. It seems that at bedtime…I’m just not tired. As a child I remember sharing a room with my little sister and after lights out, we would simply stay up and talk…or sing. (We had these singing contests where we tried to win the other person over to our song. Popular catchy songs work well, but if I remember right, annoying brain worm songs like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” worked much better!) I also loved to tell stories and like an old woman I could spin a yarn that would go on for days. My poor sister! On more than one occasion I’d tell a story that would go on so long that she would fall asleep before it ended :) It was slightly embarrassing…. Only slightly.
In junior high and especially high school, I continued my night owl ways. It wasn’t that I wasn’t tired. I really, really was! But afterschool activities, a social life and school work kept me up ’til the wee hours of the morning. (Before you jump to any conclusions let it be known that I stayed up way later for school work than for anything else! I know–I’m a NERD :) ) For some reason, I always felt like I had more energy at night. 11pm seems to be peak time for me. To be fair, I have to admit that I am not a morning person. Not at all. Maybe that’s part of why I’m a night owl.
During my college years, being a night owl just went with the territory. We were all night owls…burning the candle at both ends. It wasn’t that big of a deal–nothing ever is at that age. Wake up early, stay up late…some nights sleep was more of a good idea than a reality. I can remember going to a Poe concert the night before a final, closing down the club, going out to breakfast, drinking my weight in coffee, studying for an hour and arriving on campus just in time to take a 7am final–and acing it. (Good genetics, I can thank my Mom for my test taking abilities!) This was the way life rolled and I loved it! Yes, sleep was overrated indeed. We are so invincible in our 20s….
One might think that motherhood would change everything. No. Now I had an excuse to be awake at all hours of the night. Pregnancy, middle of the night feedings, a colicky baby, illness of one kind or another, bad dreams, etc. All this and so much more just pushed my night owl tendencies to the next level because a sleeping child meant that I could have a moment to do what I wanted to do. You know, like watch a sitcom from beginning to end (forget movies…that’s asking for too much time,) have a snack and not have to share, catch up on correspondence, READ, and have a continuous thought (crazy, right?) Let me be clear, my late night tendencies have never had anything to do with insomnia (which sounds horrible!) It really is LIGHTS OUT once my head hits the pillow. It’s just that I can find a million and one things to do before going to sleep. Did I mention that I drink ALOT of coffee?
I’ve given my night owl tendencies a lot of thought lately. For the past few weeks I’ve noticed several news articles and studies that cite the need for better sleep habits…specifically MORE sleep and an earlier bedtime. At first I sort of brushed it off, but I’m starting to think that maybe I should take these things more seriously. These same studies say that a lack of sleep leads to poor memory, an inability to focus, impaired immunity, sluggish metabolism and WRINKLES. (Look, I claim not to be vain, but I don’t know a woman on the planet who’s “okay” with wrinkles!) So, what’s a girl to do? Change seems practically impossible. And let me just state for the record, this wouldn’t even be an issue if I could find a school district where classes didn’t start until 10am (that’s what I call a reasonable morning hour.)
My best friend recently told me that she has successfully made “the transition,” moving from night owl (she was my social counterpart in my early years) to morning person. I know–it just doesn’t seem possible! No longer does she fritter away the late night hours or need to set several alarm clocks to wake up in the morning. Instead she’s up with the sun and happy about it. So what’s her secret? She tells me that through prayer and discipline she has made a change for the better. Wouldn’t you just know it? Jesus is the answer (again!) I have to tell you that I’m not optimistic. It’s not that I don’t have faith…it’s more that I don’t know if I’m ready. Because you see EVERY part of me LIKES staying up late. It’s my chance to breathe, to sit without interruption, to find peace, READ and have a continuous thought all my own! (Notice a theme here?) I like being the only person awake in the quiet of our little home. Maybe it’s an introvert thing, but nighttime is MY TIME!
Okay, so someday (soon) I plan to grow up and get serious about sleep and taking care of myself. And when I do, I know (without a doubt) that Jesus will see me through. That and the threat of WRINKLES….
The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!—Charles Barnard
THE Christmas tree: Symbol of that oh so special holiday, proudly displayed each and every year in a place of prominence, carefully adorned with treasured and sentimental ornaments. A recognized hallmark of the Christmas season and the BANE of my Decembers. As our family always opts for the “real” variety (instead of the plastic trees of my childhood,) it seems that somewhere along the way a war has been waged between the Spencer family and THE tree. A battle that never fails to entertain and frustrate at the same time. This year proved no different.
So may I present to you our annual Christmas tree adventure–in song form! Oh yes, this year’s tree had us fooled…we REALLY thought this was THE perfect tree :) Each family member convinced that we could avoid the typical end of the year evergreen hijinks. Fools we were, this tree had our number from Day 1.
Still standing! We made it through December and into 2015. Sure, it’s a sight to be seen and my son is already begging me to “please, take it DOWN.” No, son, not yet. I promised my daughter I would try to have it down by the time her birthday rolls around (mid-January.) In the meantime, I will sip coffee and watch our once majestic tree transform into a scraggly shrub, daily picking up the ornaments (aided in their fall by the dog no less,) placing lights back onto the branches and taking bets on just how crooked it will get before it tips over (again)…and then, maybe then, I will take it down. I’m in no hurry. The whole ordeal has practically become its own Christmas tradition…a tradition I secretly wouldn’t trade for anything in the world! Ohhh, Christmas tree :)
Don’t measure the height of your Christmas tree. Measure the abundance of the love present in your heart! Have a blessed Christmas!–author unknown
I would like to say THANK YOU to those who have been following my blog, hymningandhaing.com. As I enter my fourth year of blog writing, I am proud of the 65 posts I have penned thus far and the positive feedback that I have received—it continues to fuel my desire to write more! I am grateful for the fun comments, insights and encouraging words that you have offered throughout my blogging endeavor and I look forward to 2015 and the writing opportunities it will bring!
Happy blog-iversary, hymningandhaing.com!!!
My favorite things often have a story behind them…. –Amy Sedaris
As 2014 winds down the countdown to New Year’s Day 2015 begins. It’s at this time every year that we’re all subjected to the top news stories, songs, movies, television shows, etc. of the past twelve months (just in case we forgot.) We’re also treated to the “best of” and “worst of” inventories for just about every subject under the sun. And since we’ve already suffered through the roll call of Oprah and Ellen’s favorite things, I thought it was time that I got into the act with a list of my own (never mind the fact that I’m not a talk show host or a celebrity!) So enjoy (or is it endure?) a few of MY favorite things from 2014 :)
- Favorite Song: “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors This upbeat song hit my radar this spring and really spoke to me as a call to approach each day as an amazing blessing. I wrote about this song in a previous blog post and labeled it my personal “walk up song” for 2014. This fun little anthem encourages one to be young, to see each day as a new opportunity, and to wholeheartedly believe in the limitless possibilities of good and joy in this life. It’s a toe-tapping, high energy, nonsensical call to be AWESOME each and every day.
Favorite Book I Read: “Sundays in America” by Suzanne Strempek Shea I came upon this book by accident or sheer laziness (you decide.) My daughter and I happened to be at the local library during an unusually heavy downpour. We had already finished up in the children’s book section, when the thought of facing the rain seemed idiotic (a lifelong Kansan…I knew it would let up in 5-10 minutes.) So rather than get drenched, we moseyed over to the religion section of the library and this little goodie caught my eye. It was the subtitle that really sold me: A Yearlong Road Trip in Search of Christian Faith. In journal form, the author offers up insight as she sets out to visit a different church every Sunday for a year. Her journey takes her across every region of the country, including Hawaii. As a self-proclaimed “Church Nerd,” I found this book to be very eye-opening, offering up moments of hope and reflection while inciting a few sad and squeamish realizations about the Christian faith and how it is received and perceived. An easy read…fellow “Church Nerds” should make it a point to check this book out.
- Favorite Item Purchased: Fire Pit Let me start by saying that I am both equally terrified and mesmerized by fire! Yet nothing soothes my spirit like hanging out around a fire pit. Watching the flames dance around under a star-filled sky is my ultimate idea of relaxation. No item that we have purchased in the last year has brought this much excitement to every member of our family. While the kiddos have enjoyed having friends over to share in the fun, they seem to be just as content to hang out with their Dad and I. And I’m all for anything that brings everyone together for an evening (with minimal bickering, of course!)
- Favorite TV Show: “The Middle” The kiddos first stumbled upon this show in reruns and I wasn’t exactly hooked (at first.) In fact, I was more insulted than anything. Somehow, my children got it into their little brains that our family was just like the fictitious Hecks and that as “Mom” I was relegated to the “Frankie” character. This scatter-brained, (often times) sad excuse for a mother was supposedly me? No way! I refused to accept such a role and couldn’t believe my kiddos could put me in the same category. Yet, over time I came to appreciate this TV family. In their own unique way, the Hecks love each other, look after each other, and in so many ways this imperfect family is absolutely relatable on a number of levels. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I still find the “Frankie” reference insulting (let the record show that Sue is my favorite character,) but 2014 has brought about a new appreciation for “Frankie” and this dysfunctional (yet adorable) family sitcom. You can find it in reruns on a variety of channels, or for new episodes check out ABC on Wednesday nights.
- Favorite Snack: S’mores Okay, since we now have a fire pit, s’mores have earned the top spot for favorite snack of 2014. While traditionally I am a nachos kind of person, s’mores have gained prominence as the treat of choice. Funny thing is, that while I could probably eat a pound of nachos…I generally just want one s’more. Maybe that’s another reason to eat more s’mores! One little tidbit of advice that I will offer up…we’ve discovered that regular size marshmallows work best. They toast quickly and provide the right proportion of marshmallow to chocolate to graham cracker ratio. After experimenting with campfire (extra-large sized) marshmallows and marshmallow squares, we’ve discovered that these varieties seriously affect the ratios. TIP: If you just want toasted marshmallows go BIG or square, otherwise for traditional s’mores regular-sized marshmallows are best. Yummy :)
- Favorite Product to Hit the Supermarket Shelf: Peet’s Coffee As a coffee lover I am pretty much Starbucks all the time. However, whenever I visit the San Francisco Bay Area, for me it has to be Peet’s Coffee. Later, when I found out that they sold Peet’s at the supermarkets in Northern Cali…well I just had to have that AND buy enough to bring some home to Kansas after a trip. Now…you won’t believe what I found on the supermarket shelf? Peet’s Coffee in KANSAS! People, this is exciting!!! This coffee is so amazing…strong, rich, full flavor…perfect :) I went through a bag in a blink and I can’t wait to buy more–locally! Hooray, hooray…such a happy day! Jump on to their website for supermarket locations near you. http://www.peets.com/
- Favorite Podcast: Freakonomics My husband first introduced me to Freakonomics a few years ago. He came across the documentary on Netflix. Later I found out about the book and the blog. Finally, I discovered the podcast! For “News Nerds” like me this is awesome! Freakonomics is the product of a journalist and an economist. Together, they uncover the hidden side of everything (their tagline, not mine.) Both educational and extremely entertaining this is my weekly go-to for information and insight. Each podcast is about 40-45 minutes long and they cover a variety of topics. A little something for everyone.
- Favorite Place to Shop: Ulta I have loved playing with make-up since I was a teenager. So as I near 40, you would think that I would be over it. NOT! Enter Ulta, the make-up mega store. It has just about every make-up product known to (wo)man, in every shade imaginable, and at prices to fit all budgets. I could spend hours in there. As far as make-up goes I’m pretty traditional and extremely conservative, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like to look. Orange lipstick, green eyeliner, purple fingernails…yes, I am intrigued (even if I’d never have the guts to wear any of it!)
Favorite iPhone App: Tadaa SLR I’m pretty sure everyone on the planet knows that I love to take photos. Now that our phones are our cameras, this makes taking pictures easy and a full-time hobby without all the gear. I have tried and use a lot of photo apps on my iPhone, but this year’s stand out is Tadaa SLR. With features that let you adjust the focus and depth, blur with precision (it also includes all the standard editing features) this app makes me feel like a professional photographer (even if it’s only in my head!) Seriously, at only $2 this is definitely an app worth having and it’s so easy you’ll wonder what you ever did without it! HONORABLE MENTION: Wal-mart Savings Catcher because I am a mother on a budget!
- Favorite Lesson Learned: GOD’S CONSTANT PROVISION. I could write a whole book about this line alone! Going into 2014 I knew there would be one big hurdle for our family life. (In fact, I heard that little voice as early as December 2013.) And just as surely as I had been warned, these things came to be. Without going into too much detail, let me say that God has provided time and time again. And He has provided in ways and with means that I would never have expected and all in His perfect timing. Whenever I should have been stressed out and overcome with worry/fear I knew and felt God’s presence. I’m sure it was maddening for those around me to see that I wasn’t worried (heaven knows I found other things to worry about!) But let me tell you that we always had what we needed exactly when we needed it! Friends, God is good–all the time! I won’t pretend to know God’s plans or why I needed to learn the lesson of provision, but I am grateful for it and I know that it serves a larger purpose in our family’s faith walk.
That pretty much sums it up! Like the popular song from the Sound of Music…these are a few of my favorite things. Well, 10 of my favorite things anyway :) Would love to hear about some of your “best of” or “worst of” items from this past year.
Looking forward to learning, growing and discovering new things in 2015!
Okay, so I’m not really a member of the official Santa Claus family, but Christmas is my FAVORITE time of the year! I am well versed in all the songs of the season, know the “Code of Elves” verbatim and I’ve successfully completed several Christmas-themed Buzzfeed quizzes. So OBVIOUSLY I’m practically an adopted member of the Claus household :). And as a self-appointed Christmas authority I feel obligated to share these 12 little goodies with the planet to ensure you and yours experience your best Christmas yet! In no particular order, I present to you Anna Claus Holiday Must Haves….
- Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. I read this collection of short, satirical (and politically incorrect) stories every December for many, many reasons. Mostly because who doesn’t love the escapades of a grown man parading around Macy’s as an Elf, the unlikeliest Christmas Eve houseguest EVER and the snarkiest review of children’s Christmas pageants you’ll ever read? Nothing gets me in the holiday mood quite like this fun (and funny) book. Complete brain candy, it is good for continuous laughs.
- Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas If you love jazzy, upbeat Christmas music this album is for you! The 60s style jazz offerings are traditional yet they possess that special “zing.” CAUTION: The “cool cat” vibe this album induces may cause scatting! Wonderful background music for doing just about anything holiday related.
- Candy Canes Nothing says Christmas like candy canes. Sweet and pepperminty I try to consume as many as possible. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s it’s not unusual to find these tasty treats and their tiny crumbs in my purse, in my pockets or in my mouth!
- Pandora’s Swingin’ Christmas Radio Station This is the ONLY internet radio station I listen to during the holidays. On the computer and on my phone this is my go-to background music for the holiday season. Here you’ll find everything from the Rat Pack Christmas album and Louis Armstrong offerings to Michael Buble and everyone in between.
- Santa Hat (Reindeer Antlers optional) My all time hat of choice, the Santa hat comes out right after Thanksgiving and lives among the coats all Christmas season long. This year I’ve decided to add reindeer antlers to the list of approved December head-gear. Very festive!
- Starbucks Christmas Blend Warm, sweet and spicy…this is what Christmas tastes like! For a coffee lover like myself this is a terrific blend that gets the day going…also serves as the perfect addition to an evening dessert. Would I like another cup…of course!
- Nativity Nativities set the scene for a Christ-centered holiday. Our family nativity is my all-time favorite and I love to share the story about how we acquired such a unique set. I also love visiting the homes of family and friends and seeing their nativity displays. Most times it leads to another wonderful story as well.
- Cookie Baking I am probably guilty of too much cookie baking during this time of the year, but I love it!!! I wish we could live off Christmas cookies, but I’m afraid of what we might look like if I got my wish. Too many favorite cookies to name, I especially love making treats to give away to family and friends.
- Holiday Movies The Christmas season would not be complete without holiday movies. My all time favorite is It’s a Wonderful Life. Watching the Charlie Brown Christmas is a must. I also like to sprinkle in a little Christmas with the Kranks, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story and Elf among others.
- Christmas Cards I love the tradition of Christmas Cards, but I’ve noticed that this tradition is fading. Sigh. As someone who has lived in several states and many cities (towns) over the years, this is one of the best ways I know of to catch up with far away friends and family. Be sure to throw in a zany family photo or funny Christmas letter!
- Christmas Lights Tour This is a tradition that goes way, way back for me. I can remember piling up in the car as a child and checking out the Christmas lights in my little hometown. Today, my husband and I continue to take (drag) our children out to look at the lights. This year we cranked our adventure up a notch with a Holiday Lights Scavenger Hunt. Great fun!
- Snow Never a guarantee, but snow really makes it all perfect. It seems that whenever it snows the world seems to slow down a bit…offering us a moment to take in and savor everything around us. The holidays typically fly by…I need a little snow to take it all in.
A few honorable mentions to my list: cocoa, caroling and Christmas parades! They don’t call it the most wonderful time of the year for nothing. Wishing you the Merriest Christmas!
Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. —Ellen Goodman
When it come to holidays, I like to go full-out! I love traditions…the habits and rituals that create memories (both good and bad, but especially MEANINGFUL) and serve to connect families and friends to the past, present and the future. Equally as important, I enjoy sharing where, why and how the traditions came about. So for the last month, my family has endured all of my favorite stories about Halloweens past. I share these little gems, not just for myself (okay, maybe just for myself) but also as a way to join together my childhood experiences, a little history, some faith/religion and finally…to secretly instill some expectations and wisdom upon my kiddos. And you thought I just hung out in my kitchen baking cookies all day :)
Seriously, I think one of the most effective tools in parenting (and a number of other categories) is the personal testimony. That’s why I like telling Sean and Casey all about my Halloween adventures–successes and epic fails (age appropriate, of course.) Everything from what costumes we donned (not ashamed to admit that I was Bat Girl more than once) to trick or treating in the neighborhood to visiting my great grandmother’s house (for peanuts and apples) to haunted houses and everything in between. We compare and contrast classroom parties, popular candy (then and now), real (and not so real) ghost stories all while asking questions and googling Halloween history. Together we’ve learned a lot! And the payoff comes when the kiddos are just as invested in the traditions as I am :)
I would say that I get my love of Halloween from my Dad. He was the first adult (outside of teachers) that I can remember dressing up for Halloween on a regular basis. Dad likes his costumes to be scary, and while that’s not my cup of tea, I have many memories of his gory masks and spooky get-ups. He would help us carve pumpkins and Mom would work on roasting the pumpkin seeds. At the time, pumpkin patches weren’t a part of our Halloween experience…but we looked forward to the carving nonetheless. We didn’t use fancy stencils or patterns and our primitive carving tools could have easily sent one of us to the ER (fortunately it never came to that!) Today, my family looks forward to our annual trip to “the patch” (which my son tells me doesn’t sound quite right) and choosing our own pumpkins from a giant field of orange and green. Over the years, I have amassed a great deal of pumpkin carving supplies and we make an event out of the whole thing…complete with spooky music courtesy of Pandora. This year we added hot dogs and s’mores to the occasion. It’s one of my favorite days of the year (and someday I will master those pumpkin seeds, too!)
The traditions go way beyond the pumpkin patch and the carving. We decorate the house, reminisce over old Halloween photos and spend countless hours discussing, shopping and creating Halloween costumes. The costumes have become one of our best-loved parts of the season. Fortunately, my kids aren’t into scary and with a little imagination and planning, they’ve managed to come up with some pretty creative costumes over the years. And while I’ve quietly lobbied for the “family” costume, I am afraid that ship has sailed. For some years, however, I was able to finagle the kiddos into coordinated costumes, but my luck eventually ran out there, too :(. Oh well. There’s plenty of fun in sharing stories about past costumes, who we went trick or treating with (family or friends,) where we were living at the time and surprisingly no one ever seems to mention the candy.
Typically we watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” once (sometimes twice) each October and I marvel at the questions the kids come up with. When they were younger, they needed help with the character’s names and who was related to whom. Now they ask why Lucy is so mean, how come Charlie Brown can’t get a break, and what Snoopy’s role as the Red Baron is really all about. This year I had to explain that bobbing for apples was a real thing and we discussed some of the reasons why that tradition didn’t carry on (gross.) We marvel at Schroeder’s piano playing skills, discuss party invite etiquette and basically feel bad for Linus.
As the children have grown older, Halloween has included a faith dialogue as well. We talk about the early history of the holiday…a time when pagan superstitions and overall fear fueled the observance. Picture a people who warily watched the seasons change and anxiously retreated into a time of the year when no crops grew, the weather was particularly harsh and their survival depended upon the work that had been done in the warmer months. Harvest really was a reason to celebrate as they prepared for months of cold and uncertainty. Can you imagine how they were compelled to turn to a number of gods for protection and provision? Warding off evil lent itself to carving scary faces on gourds and trees and displaying these items on their doorsteps. And what about trick or treating? A custom that spans ancient beliefs, religious practices and morphed into a “pseudo-war” between the haves and have-nots before becoming the family friendly outing that we now know.
It’s November 1st and costumes lie crumpled up on the floor, candy wrappers dot the tabletops, and tired looking eyes stare up at me. And while the whole Halloween adventure culminates in one day, I realize that it’s not the holiday itself that means so much to me–it’s actually the whole season. We’ve been gearing up, preparing for, talking about and making plans for a whole month. Through it all we’ve carved out special (additional!) time together…outside of mealtimes and the occasional quiet evening. We’ve cooked and baked together. We’ve shopped together. We’ve attended school parties together. We’ve enjoyed nature together. And it feels good. I know these seasons are fleeting. Before long, their Halloween plans won’t include me. The kids are growing up so fast and that probably scares me more than any creepy costume on Halloween. For now I hold onto the imagination and creativity of the season. I look forward to the cooler temperatures and the rustling of leaves and my mind wanders (unafraid) to the approaching season that seems to draw us closer (even if it only is for warmth :) ) The traditions abound and yes, I can still taste the caramel apples that sweeten this already favored season.
There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch. ~Robert Brault