To Mom (part 2)

The bond of bobby-pins:

Mom grew up in war torn England when rations and air raid sirens were everyday occurrences. Life for a teen in those days was tough, but because of their youth they easily brushed these concerns aside. They still went out to dance halls, and went out with friends to the pictures. At times, especially if it were the middle of the night, she wanted to ignore the air raid siren and stay sleeping in her bed; and her mom would have to call to her several times to get up and get going to the shelter. I think there were even a few times when she ignored it all together. She did know the bombing was a real danger. Homes in her neighborhood had been hit, and friends had been hurt, or worse. But she was a young woman and we all know how invincible we feel as a teenager.

Rations were strict. The war had been going for a couple of years and as is human nature, people figured out how to get by with what they had. As a young lady my Mom of course wanted to dress up nice, so with her limited options would add some lace to a neckline, or a flower in her hair; always adding her own touch of flair. Ladies did their own hair in those days. My Mom knew how to twirl and pin her hair at night to set it, and then the next day let loose a flow of curls. But due to metal going into the war industry, there were no more pins to purchase and people had to make do with what they may have already had. People fixed what they had to make it last, or had to do without.

When her mother, my grandmother, would come home from having been out about her day (whether having been to the market or some such outing) my Mom and her sisters would eagerly ask if she had found anything; and sometimes, she had. To the great delight of the girls, she would lift the collar of her coat to reveal a bobby-pin on the lapel of her blouse. She had found it on the ground, perhaps by a bus stop or along the walk. Occasionally she’d find two.

Throughout her life, my Mom continued to do her own hair. She would sit in her chair with a small glass of water and a stash of bobby-pins by her side, and twirl her hair up and pin it. No mirror needed, and she didn’t even need to pay attention to what she was doing. She would just get a lock of hair, twist and curl and pin. I always thought she was so talented. And in the morning, she’d unpin it all and it looked amazing. She’d put the bobby-pins away back in their little container until the routine started up again the next evening. There was always a bobby-pin or two next to Mom’s chair, next to her bed, or in her purse. Even recently when she was in the hospital for an extended time, she had my Dad bring in some bobby-pins so she could do her hair; the nurses too were fascinated with how she did it.

Well, Mom passed away last week. There may not be a shortage of pins anymore, but in honor of our Mom, my sister and I each wore one on our lapels and felt again the bond of the bobby-pin.
In memory, with much love to my beloved mom; dearly missed, always loved.


To Mom (part 1)

A walk on the beach

My Mom has passed away. She has been determinedly managing one day at a time for several months now. I am amazed at her strength. And while we have been expecting her to pass on, it somehow is still a shock.

What a fantastic Mom she has been too; so much love and laughter, LOTS of it. And she passed away while holding hands with my Dad, him right by her side as he has always been for 62 years, telling her how much he loves her…

It is a blessing and yet, I know many others have experienced this so they know, it is still a deep sadness. Mom is Irish, and she would want us to be celebrating her memory and not to be sad, and celebrate we will; the ‘not to be sad’ part, oh boy – no hope for that part. So for celebrating I am sharing this photo of her the last time she was well enough for a walk along the beach when I was visiting.

Always upbeat and smiling, always ready to share a laugh, “CHEERS” to a most wonderful admirable woman, my Mom!

Gratitude and Sadness

(We went to spend time with my parents in the fall. My mom’s health has been deteriorating and I wanted the kids to have time with her while they could. You never know what life will bring, and I believe when something tells you to “go” you should go… I wrote this during that visit.)

Trying to hold on to a loved one who is slipping away, much like sand sifting through fingers.

I don’t know that I have ever felt deeper sadness which has filled me with gratitude.
What can I do for those who have spent years with my well-being as their top priority?
Years. My full lifetime in fact.
The least has been to have these two weeks doing what I can to help around here, even though my dad still won’t let me cook dinner. “No love, you take it easy. I’ll just throw this on the bbq, and you keep your mother company.”

And that has been the best, yet the hardest, part of my time here this trip.
When she asked when my brother was coming I nearly cried. He died 9 years ago.
When she asked where I live now, and was surprised when I told her, (for the 25th time) I had to smile.
When I talked about some family things and she responded with such great advice – wise beyond measure – I wanted to shout “I am not ready, I have so much still to learn.”

Instead we smile, I sigh and say “I need you Mom, this job is harder than I ever imagined it would be.” She smiles to me and says “ah, you’re doing fine love; you only need look at your lovely children to know you are doing just fine.”

I need to tell her, I am only doing fine because I am being you.

I am so grateful for my blessings of wonderful devoted parents, and grateful I have had the time and opportunity to tell them, to thank them, and to just spend time with them.

I guess what I can do for them now, is simply to be strong.

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
From: ‘The Profit’ by Kahlil Gibran

First Empty Nest Christmas

Christmas Cracker

Christmas Cracker

Well this was the first Christmas that was NOT held at my house. Ok, not the first ever to anyone else, but in my little world, it is the first.
My daughter, T, has her own apartment, and it is her first Christmas there. It is a lovely little place, and she is rightfully proud of it, and she asked if we could have Christmas there. The whole shebang. Morning presents, big dinner, the whole thing. Of course I agreed because this was important to her.

We three, my kids and I, are all very close. My goal in raising them as I have always told them is for them to be independent, self sufficient adults who are good members of their community.
They’re getting there.

When T got this apartment, I could tell she wanted to be in her own place, but still have the security of her familiar neighborhood and close to Mom. The place she chose is half a mile from home. That umbilical cord has a lot of stretch to it …

So, we’re planning Christmas and I said I would still buy the meat; we like prime rib for Christmas so that’s a little pricey for a grad student! And we set out a plan for the meal. She only had a few kitchen items, already borrowed from Mom’s Kitchen, so we went over what else would be needed.
That would be pretty much everything. Right down to a potato peeler, and roasting pan.

I had taken the whole weekend to Wednesday (Boxing Day) off, and thank goodness. Sunday I brought several bags of saucepans, peeler, serving dishes etc over to her place. And she lives on the top floor (she thought there would be less chance of bugs if she was up high. Never mind that there are really no bugs around here to start with, she was not going to take any chances.) So I trudged up once, and gave her the keys to go get the rest in the car. She’s in her mid 20’s – this was no problem!

And, I gave her a Santa Key. As I explained to her, we have a fireplace and that’s how Santa gets in to deliver the presents. If there is no fireplace, parents have to leave him a key so he can get in another way. This pewter key has a Santa face on it and only works with Santa’s magic. She smiled and took the key.

Christmas Eve Day felt very weird not to have any running around with last minute things to do. No food to prep, no hustle in the house to get ready for a big crowd, and no fire in the fireplace. I had still decorated like crazy but that was many days ago. I was already done shopping and wrapping.

Midnight came, and there was no need for Santa to put things under the tree just for us to pack it all up and into the car in the morning. The cats didn’t know anything of course, but they have always been so funny and playful as the presents get arranged under the tree. They would seem to sense the excitement, and they would jump over presents, dash under the tree branches, sit on top of boxes and nibble on the bows. It was a time of just Santa and feisty kitties, and it was fun.

So Christmas morning arrived, and, well – we are all sleepy heads in the mornings. So I eventually got up and ready, as did my son J. The morning felt off because it wasn’t our tradition. We got everything packed up in our sleigh and headed around the corner to T’s apartment. And again, I let the kids carry everything upstairs.

It was lovely! T had Christmas music on, her tree was pretty and already had presents underneath it. She told me she had put the Santa key out the night before, and sure enough he had delivered some presents for us there! She had already made me some tea (I’m a big tea drinker) and some for her brother too. She was very excited to have us there and to start on the day. The spirit was warm, loving, and festive!

I got the prime rib prepared and popped in the oven, then we sat around her tree and shared presents. It was wonderful and just like we’d always done at home. There were laughs and delight at funny or perfect presents, stories shared of how that present was found or chosen, and many many pictures. The grand finale was J opening a cook book, kicking back and reading it (he loves to cook) and T opening a big box: a set of pots and pans in her color for her new place. Everyone was happy.

We had phone calls to the rest of our family, then the kids got busy with preparing the rest of the meal, while I put my feet up on the couch and had the first of several glasses of wine. J made his famous stuffing – it is amazing. And T got everything else going. There were a few more moments when we realized we didn’t have all we needed, like there was only one big knife, but we managed still. One funny moment, T realized she picked up the wrong green beans for the casserole she loves. Sure, cut green beans will work, but that’s not the tradition she loves. So she popped back to our house and got the French cut green beans from my freezer, and brought them back and proceeded.

From my perch on the couch, with wine glass in hand, I answered their many questions: “How long do you cook potatoes? Is it ok if I use a green bell pepper instead of red? You’re still making the gravy aren’t you Mom?” It was terrific. They had cooked before, as I said J loves to cook. But they both go exactly by the book, so if the recipe calls for sweet onion and you have a yellow onion they are quite unsure about how that will turn out.

Timing is a talent that takes experience to figure out. We planned on eating at 2pm. The roast was ready at 2pm. But it was about 4 before we got everything cooked and on the table. That’s okay, it will come together with practice I told them. We sat; we had Christmas Crackers which is another tradition of ours. My heritage is British, and this is a “Brit. Thing.” And then we had our big dinner. It was delicious! Everything came out so good, and the kids were delighted as well. We ate, and of course had more than enough. T was so excited that Christmas at her home had all come together so nicely!

Then the kids had me head back to the living room while they cleaned up. I told them that NOW I was sold on this new tradition!! In my own kitchen I am in charge, and sure they would help out, but you know how it is when it’s your own house, you do most of the work. Thank god for youthful energy!

Back on my perch, watching them joke together and hustle around putting away leftovers, and cleaning up dishes, I got to thinking of how proud I am of them both. It was heartwarming to see them pick up the values that are important to me, the traditions that are meaningful to them, and the real love for family that they and I share.
It may be snowy and cold outside, but it’s been warm and wonderful wrapped up in family inside.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I love Christmas !

I love Christmas. I love Christmas Music. The music of the season is so varied and beautiful. It makes me laugh, though I enjoy it, that the musical style jumps around so much. You can be listening to Pachelbel’s Canon, then Snoopy and the Red Barron, then Harry Connick Jr, then the Morman Tabernacle Choir, then Jimmy Durante, … and so on all the way to Elvis. aah, we can’t forget Elvis! Don’t we all have a varied taste in music though? I doubt there is anyone who “only” listens to heavy metal, or “only” jazz.

There is a proven connection between music and health, music and brain function; of course there are studies that dispute it also, but speaking from personal experience music enhances life. Who doesn’t get energized and pepped up when a great Motown song comes on? Who doesn’t grab the improvised microphone and sing along with the Supremes on “You can’t hurry love”? Or for younger crowds, Party Rock Anthem (every day we’re shufflin’). And I still get moved to tears with “I will Always Love You”.

I love it all. And I love to sing along with just about all the Christmas songs too. My kids are grown now, and no grandkids yet, but one of my favorite things when the kids were little was going to their school Christmas programs. I loved it so much! In every class you have a kid who is a wiggle-worm, another who is the one who does everything right, a shy kid who is just dying being on stage, a cool kid who acts bored to be there, and the drama queen – at least two. The rest of them are kids just having fun.

Kids singing The Twelve days of Christmas never fails to make me laugh. They’re so enthused and singing joyfully; but it’s a long song. Once they hit 7, the energy starts fading, it becomes seven something somethings, and they struggle through ….. 8, 9, and so on. But, ALWAYS, every kid gets energized once they get to “FIVE GOLDEN RINGS!!!” The wiggle worm usually does a high-five, the shy kid gets confident and belts it out, the cool kid smiles.

Oh, the memories!

Now, I have many many favorites. This one piece in particular which, I don’t really know why but, it touches me and I find it very moving. I can listen to this in the heat of summer or middle of the day, doesn’t matter when. And I get lifted up and away. It is all instrumental and I have a dance to it in my head.
I like to put this on the stereo, no lights except of the fire or the Christmas tree, and then I dream…

Do you have a favourite?

Sadness for Shady Hook, Newtown CT

Everyone is horrified and stunned by the awful events in Newtown CT today. Everyone is saddened, and shocked. We all hurt.

This is community. We look at those lovely little faces at Sandy Hook School, and we hurt for them and their families. We hurt because we are all a community of caring. I immediately saw my children at that age as I watched the news reports today. I saw the faces of the little ones I had in my daycare way back when. We all see these precious little ones and we care about them.

I wasn’t there, of course. But I could feel myself there. I recognize the look of the neighborhood, the small rural town. I’ve lived somewhere just like that in western New England. I took my kids to the small local school, dropped them off and expected they would be safe, that their greatest worry would be homework. I have gazed at little faces during reading time, and wondered which one would grow up to be the next story teller.

My sister is a preschool teacher. I see her as I look at the teachers on the news, or in the photo of the kids being led from the school to the fire house. And of course I see friends and neighbors in the faces of all the townspeople of Newtown Connecticut.

We don’t need to know anything more than “a child was hurt” to touch our naturally caring and empathic hearts.

I saw the interview with one of the heroic teachers, who not only got the kids into a locked room, but then did everything to comfort them. She said that if they were going to die, she didn’t want the horrors to be the last things those kids heard. She wanted them to hear love and comfort.

And that’s what most people feel when with a child, you feel protective, caring and nurturing.

So, how could anyone, ANYONE, hurt a child? It is beyond our ability to understand, but we ask. And we all want to know why? Why did this happen, so we can make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I don’t know how, but somehow – a parent, a family, a community – will somehow do the impossible and go on.
In spite of darkness, in spite of unthinkable grief, in spite of this crippling pain, they will go on.
I hope they know that in sister communities across the world, we are holding them in our prayers wishing for their comfort, and peace in their hearts.

And we are all asking “why”.

Sunday Phone Calls


I am blessed in that I still have both my parents; and though we’re on opposite sides of the country we are still very much a part of each others’ lives.

We have shared family phone time every Sunday for as long as I can remember, starting when the kids were small. We talk other times as well, but Sunday is the routine. My sister the early riser has the earliest time slot. She likes to think it’s because she might be the favorite; we let her think that and I get an extra hours sleep!

My dad is the ultimate dad. He can fix anything, or make anything, and is the most patient teacher. When we lived closer, he would say to us (my sister and I) “make sure you make a list of what needs fixing” so he would have things to do when they’d come to stay for a while. He is a man who cannot sit around; he has to have a project in the works. And wow, were we ever grateful! One summer he organized my garage though. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate it and being able to park in the garage was a welcome change. But the man is 6’2” and strong. It was a challenge when Christmas came and I tried getting boxes off of top shelves (I’m 5’4”) or needed something tucked way up in the rafters!

So as the years of being a single mom running a house continued on, I have called my dad on many occasions for house repair consultations. Google is great once you know what you need to look up, but we didn’t have it ‘back then’, I could call him and say ok here’s what’s going on, and he would narrow down the problem. I’ve always been amazed by this. The one area that scares me though is electricity. I had two light bulbs break with the base of the bulb stuck in the fixture. It was a ceiling light fixture so not something you could unplug. I was scared to death to touch it, in spite of his reassurance, so left it for a year until he was here again. When I did come across something I could figure out and fix, the first thing I wanted to do once the job was done, was to call Mom and Dad and tell them about it. Really, they are the biggest cheerleaders and supporters! I’d be so excited, “Dad! Guess what? The toilet kept running and I figured out the flapper was worn out. So, I got another, and I replaced it myself!” Another time just months later it was the whole refill valve assembly. Anyway, they are always so proud when my sister or I figure out how to do these things. To any handy-man kind of people out there, this may not seem like much, but to us it is quite an accomplishment. I’m going to attempt replacing my windshield wipers tomorrow..

When the kids were little, they loved having their turns on the phone and would be waiting expectantly while I talked first. Then, as is natural, they turned into teens and slept all Sunday mornings. Then they got a little older and would be at work or in a study group or gone for the weekend. They’d catch up when they could on other days. But for me, I like the Sunday tradition.

Over 25 years one can imagine the ups and downs of life that we all paddle through. So having Mom and Dad’s wise ears to listen was very comforting. “J’s got appendicitis and in the hospital, I’m so scared.” “T’s getting migraines, where do they come from?” The school issues: “They’re saying they won’t let T graduate (an honor student,) that she is missing a gym credit??” (it was their mistake but what a nightmare) and of course the teen years – need I say more?!!

My mom especially is so understanding of people, and by that I don’t mean a wishy-washy personality, I mean she sees where people are coming from and knows how to deal with them. And if someone is full of BS she could see right through it. So she helped me so much with dealing with school personalities who had to fulfill their requirements, were sometimes needing to feel self important. “Pick your battles” was wise advice she gave regarding them, and my teens.

It’s funny, a couple of times recently my kids have each muttered “I still have to call and talk to my mom to work these things out” regarding one thing or another… and I tell them, ”Hey, so do I!”

These Sunday phone calls have been life savers over the years, and warm blankets at other times. Their need and purpose remain constant though; a loving connection of family no matter how many miles in between.

To feel the music of life and live the dance

This note turned out to be so different from what it started out to be.
“I was a dancer” was the initial title I used as I sadly stared at this blank page. But in writing this, I have heard my song once again.

I am a dancer.

I have some, as yet, undiagnosed problem within my arches of my feet, and a tear in my knee that is healing; so for a while I have to stop dancing and limit my weight bearing activity to allow the healing to take place. That is the simple factual state of affairs.

What my emotional side of the brain keeps diving into is: “I can’t dance”. Everyone else is in the studio. Everyone else is dancing. Everyone else is bursting with fun. What if I never get to take part in a routine again? Why bother making costumes if I can’t dance in them? What if I never again step on a stage?

Damn that emotional brain! I have to keep myself in check, push those thoughts aside and battle them with reason. Because no matter what diagnosis is returned, I will still dance.

And this is why I know this:

I come from a family where music flows and is a tangible part of everyday life. My parents sang all the time, my dad had a fantastic whistle and was never quiet, there was always a tune interspersed with his marvelous whistling. As such I have always loved music, felt music, and breathed music.

I found my passion in my late 30’s. I began dance lessons with timid baby steps in the warm embrace of the most wonderful spirit. This dance class was never anything but uplifting, encouraging, welcoming. The friendliness was real and spread from instructor to and through students. She was an amazing person; and she taught much more than steps set to music. She taught us all to feel proud of our own selves. To stand tall and proud. To walk with grace and beauty. And that we are all beautiful. We all can dance.

I had found Belly Dance.

It wasn’t about perfection or talent; I am far from having either one. It is about expression of love, art, senses and feeling.

Every year the grand finale has been a nice weekend dance show, which had us talking about costumes, make up and jewelry; everyone wanting to pitch in and share with one another. It is so much fun. And, of course after a couple years of this, you see some of the same people in the class and you start to develop real friendships. It is a real family.

Throughout my growing up, I slouched. At least from my mother’s perspective I did. Once I danced, I never slouched again. The essence of ‘life is a dance’ becomes a part of you. When a pile of leaves is between you and the workplace door, you find yourself walking right through it with a kick/ball/change step. Or maybe a swish swish crunch; swish swish swish crunch. And nobody else even knows, but YOU hear it. There is music in everything. You walk with a rhythm in your head. You’re conscious of the wonderful unison of body movement.

And depending on your style of dance, glitter may be a part of your life.

One thing that stirs me is that moment before stepping on stage. In that moment, I like to look out to the heavens and offer “dance with me” to my angels. And often, they do. While I am confident I will heal and be back in the studio; there is so much more from dance that is simply a part of me which I will never be without. So even if I never step on stage again,

I feel the music of life and live the dance!

And thus,
I am a dancer.

Tale of many kitties


I have always loved cats, felines of all sorts, and along the path of life became a true crazy cat lady. At one time seven years ago, we were overrun with darling pet cats beyond reason. How did this happen? Here’s my kitty family story – with names, but don’t worry there won’t be a quiz.

We started out as a normal cat family with two grey, short haired, sister kitties we got when we bought this house: Pudgy Puddin’ and Hobbes. When they grew, my daughter longed for another kitten and without asking me, brought home a Maine coon kitten. She named her Lucky – not that I felt lucky to have another pet, but because she was the last of that litter at the shelter. And you know – once you name them, you can’t then give ‘em back.

 Lucky didn’t grow up to be an affectionate purr-baby like my daughter wanted, and two years later when she moved out (temporarily) she didn’t take Lucky with her. Instead she got another grey kitten – Shinobi. My daughter moved back home shortly thereafter and actually let the then ex-boyfriend keep Shinobi for a few short months.


The thought of Shinobi moving in was raising the bar to “a little too many” but little did I know….

While on a weekend trip, my daughter found a stray cat that she brought home, and we took care of her until we could find a home for her. This one my daughter named Cali (she’s calico, and was found in California – as if one can’t find a local stray cat….). I found her a home with a dear friend of mine, but before we could pack up her litter box we realized she (Cali) was expecting. …. Sigh….. I couldn’t do that to my friend so we kept Cali during this time.

Well, we took such good care of Cali, that she had 11 kittens! I had to check the Guinness Book of World Records because we were stunned at this many kittens in a first litter. I was with her throughout the birth of all of them and could not believe they just kept coming! I have to admit, it really was a wonderful experience to have the kittens born at home and to watch them grow. I found great homes for most of them – and made sure any kids that wanted one came with parental permission first!!!

But we each – my daughter, my son, and I – each had our special kitten we’d bonded with. I didn’t realize it until someone wanted to adopt Tux (my fuzzy black and white one). I got choked up, and said “You know, that one is really quirky… and she meows a lot …. And ,,, umm,,, and,,, no you can’t take Tux.”

SO – we kept those 3 kittens:

  • Tux (her full name is Tuxess Meow: ”Tux Says Meow” because she is super chatty)
  • Julious (He’s orange.  His name has changed as he’s grown; we started calling him Pumpkin, Pumpkin Paws, Pumpkin Pie, and now that he is a mature 7 year old kitty, Mr. Pie)
  • And, Princess Zelda (now simply known as Princess, and is she ever!) Finally my daughter has the affectionate kitty she’s wanted. I don’t know which one is more spoiled; although both are the results of my own doing.


We did find good homes for the rest of the kittens, and a fabulous pampered home for Cali, and Pud has passed over the rainbow bridge to kittie heaven.

I am sharing my home with 4 kitties now.  After what we’ve lived through the past 5 years, it doesn’t seem like many at all.  >^..^<

The best of the Team M experiences

This was perhaps the best of our Team M experiences, it was in early October.

Being the night owl that I am, one late Friday night found me working around the house: in and out to the yard, garage, cleaning and moving things…
I had some nice steel drums music blasting to battle my ‘end of summer’ despair, and when “Kiss the Girl” came on as I headed out to the garage with a bag of trash, I hit repeat so I could hear it again when I got back inside. I love Disney movies & songs 🙂

Nothing ever gets finished in my house because, for instance, while in the garage I realized I had this nice little end table that I could store CDs in, so I got to cleaning that off and strategizing how to move it into the house.
In the meantime T, my super disciplined and organized daughter came home for about 15 minutes to change and bond with her cat Princess before going out again. Before she left again, she popped out to the garage to say hi/bye and teased me about the torture of the same song playing over and over again in the house. We had hugs and giggles and off she went.

Now, T is very safety conscious, and has very good safety habits. Without thinking she turned the deadbolt to the garage, and turned off the light in the house by that door.
And, she paused a moment there, thinking “Wait, something’s not right…. Oh! I should leave this light on for mom.” Flipped the switch and left, locking every door behind her.

It took me another 10 minutes before I went to go in the house, at which point I hit the proverbial brick wall: The garage to house door was locked. I went to the front door, that was securely locked too. As was the back door to the yard, and all windows were closed. As I tried to force the kitchen window, our cat Shinobi gazed at me from the warmth inside, pawed at my hands on the outside of the window as if I was playing with him, and I could see my cell phone on the kitchen table. All the while listening to peppy steel drums playing “Kiss the Girl.”

I have poor concept of time, I had no idea if it was 10pm or 12am, I just knew to most people it was “late”. But there was no choice, I went out to the driveway to look for signs of life, seeing only lights on in the house across the street but didn’t see people. I didn’t want to go there. “Oh please! c’mon this is funny, but I don’t want to wake someone up! I need a person!” at which point someone drove down the street and into a nearby driveway.

YAY! Thank YOU universe!

So I ran down there as this neighbor I have never met was getting stuff out of her trunk. She was rather wary at first, but I explained through laughter what had happened to me and asked to borrow a phone.

All’s well that ends well. I met a very nice neighbor, she let me use her phone to call the kids, and T rushed back home to let me in the house and turn off that stupid CD.

My son, J, has promoted T to “Team M : Project Management.”

We all laughed til we cried 😉