Happy Place

One of the Roc’s favorite places to visit is the beach and we got to go many times in the two weeks we spent visiting GC’s family over Christmas vacation.

We went in sunny warm weather,


IMG_3036with Marcello while he was still in town,

IMG_3049and with the Roc’s cousin Aiden when he came up to stay at Nonna and Nonno’s house for a few days!




We even took our crazy dog to the beach one evening!






It wasn’t sunny every day, but even light rain won’t keep the Roc away from the water.





While we spent most of our time walking on the beach, the Roc and I finally hiked a little trail at the state park (that I won’t step foot on in the summer — poisonous snakes!) and he loved this awesome tree.

2014-12-30 11.03.54

IMG_3409I love that the Roc wants to be outside as much as I do.

We also stopped by the marsh and freshwater lagoon one afternoon so I could photograph birds.




The Roc is working on his patience while I work on my photography.  We both have a long way to go.

The beach is my happy place too.  Especially when I’m with my boy.



Week 1 of 12

The Roc and I survived the first week of summer “vacation.”

The Roc started sleeping in as soon as school ended.  No more 5:30 am baths for him.  I let him sleep.

On Monday the Roc started a two-week swim camp at the swim school he’s been attending since the fall.  He was excited and nervous to be in a new lane, with a new instructor, and 2 new kids, but the lure of the water is strong and he left my side easily to get started.  When it was over he was happy and told me it was because he got to do new stuff.  He is in a new “level” for this camp and will be working on the front-crawl, the backstroke, and swimming underwater.

He loves the water and allowed the instructor to move and guide him in ways he never lets me when we go to the pool together.  The last two lessons of the week I grin watching him try to propel himself downward to grab a ring off the bottom of the pool, four feet down.  He needed the instructor to help him get underwater, but he grabbed that ring and was all smiles when he broke the surface.

During the first lesson, another mother struck up a conversation by asking me how old the he is.  When I asked the same she commented that her daughter is also seven, but very uncoordinated for her age and that swimming is very hard for her.  I mention that it is hard for the Roc too and she tells me that her daughter was a micro-preemie, born at 24 weeks, she spent over 100 days in the NICU, and her only real lasting “issue” is with gross motor.  She said she has never looked at children the same, and cannot believe how much most people take for granted in regards to their children.  That after all her daughter has overcome, she takes nothing for granted.  I tell her I understand on a cellular level, down to my toes, exactly what she is getting at as my son has autism.  We discussed that yes, he doesn’t look like he is autistic, but he is.  She smiled as she watched him,  then commented on how happy he is in the water.

We sat  together for the rest of the week.

Also on Monday, The Roc started the first of his once-a-week “friendship club.”  He was nervous to leave me in the lobby and after a few contorted facial expressions and five glances back over his shoulder, he went with the therapist.  I blew out a deep breath when he disappeared from view and made eye contact with the other mother who stayed behind in the waiting room.  She asked me if it was the Roc’s first group of this kind and we soon exchanged that both of our boys were on the autism spectrum.  We quickly got past all formalities and threw small talk out the window as we unraveled our stories in that small cheerful lobby.  When the children came back the Roc thrust the puppet he made during craft time an inch from my nose and loudly proclaimed that they put on a play.  He said he had a great time and would come back again.

Tuesday morning the Roc had a dental appointment to get the sealants applied to his molars and he surprised me while we waited in the lobby by building with legos in the kids corner.  I had long ago given up pushing him to put small legos together, as his frustration with his fingers would cause a meltdown.  I made a mental note to get some legos.  I watched the anxiety sweep over him when the hygienist called his name and I reminded him to listen and follow her directions.  Twenty minutes later he was back with two hygienists, they worked together to get his sealants done in half the time.  They said he listened well and earned a prize from the box.

We also started our “summer school at home” this week and the Roc did well working for stickers to add to his “go to Dairy Queen chart.”  I wonder how long he will cooperate.

After the Roc’s swim lesson on Wednesday we went to my parents house.  We stayed there until Saturday, house and doggy-sitting while they went up north to celebrate their anniversary.  We stayed up late watching a movie that night.

After swim camp on Thursday we had to make sure we got back to my parents house in time for a meat delivery.  Forty pounds of meat that my dad uses to make meals for his two dogs.  Looks yummy doesn’t it?

I had to divide it into four containers.  Then I let the dogs clean out the plastic tub.

The older dog got into the tub and then couldn’t get out.  He is no longer able to go into reverse.  I helped him.

The Roc and I had been together non-stop and needed to get out of the house, so on Friday we went to the park and watched the water flow over the dam.

Later we met up with two of my girlfriends from high school.  The Roc was nervous to go, but he played on their play set and sat with all the kids eating dinner before they all went swimming!

When the kids were done swimming we all went inside.  I thought for sure we would be leaving, thinking the Roc wouldn’t be able to handle playing inside.  He proved me wrong, following my friend’s son K to his bedroom.  They played together.  I sat on the couch and talked to my two friends.  It was a completely new moment for me as I flashed back a few years on those play dates that never went well.  How the Roc used to cling to me and I would try in vain to get him interested in some toys or playing with the other kids while the other mothers sipped coffee and chatted.

The Roc and I headed back to our house on Saturday when my parents got back from their trip.  On Sunday I told GC he had to bring the Roc with him to the airport when he went to drop off his friend as I needed a bit of space.  GC’s friend had been in town for ten days and so I had been on “Roc duty” almost the whole time.  He took him and then stopped at Toys R Us on the way home and let the Roc use his money to buy a new toy.  He bought some Scooby-Doo characters and was happy to get them out of the package when they got home.

We had my parents over for dinner on Sunday night to celebrate Father’s Day.  I had the Roc go into the house to get the present I had wrapped for my dad.  “Is it M&Ms?!?!” he yelled as he left the porch.  Luckily my dad didn’t hear him!  It was M&Ms!

One week down, Eleven more weeks of summer!

Spring Break – The Zoo!

Spring break 2012.

The Roc was excited to go to the zoo.  He kept saying, “We’re going to the ZOOOO!  We’re going to see ANIMALS!!!  We’re going with my grandparents!” that morning and it made me smile.  It also made me remember the last time we went to the zoo.

June 2008.

The Roc was three, would turn four in two months.  We had the knowledge that autism was a part of our lives for ten months, though it had been there much longer than we knew.  The Roc and I were visiting my family in MN for 10 days.  I lived with a deep thread of anxiety running through my body every single day during that time, and I choked on my grief if I tried to explain my thoughts and fears about the present and the future.  But I remember feeling hopeful and excited at the beginning of the day, thinking that all kids like the zoo.  All kids like animals!  It was a gorgeous day, the zoo wasn’t over crowded, and I had hope.

I was deflated by the end of that day.

We attempted the bird show, but as soon as we sat in the little theater I knew it wasn’t going to work so I left my family inside to enjoy the birds and the Roc and I waited outside the little theater alone.  I leaned against the floor to ceiling glass and watched the monkeys outside chasing each other while the Roc paced the window next to me, his hand trailing, looking in their direction, but not seeing the monkeys.  I wondered if he would ever be able to sit within a crowd, attend to a speaker, enjoy a show like the one we were missing.  I could hear the oooooohs and aaaaaaaahs inside as I watched my boy stim and my insides ached.  I smiled and shrugged my shoulders as my family excited the theater, and pushed down on the grief bubbling to the surface as we moved on.

The Roc was more interested in looking at any water we could find that day than the animals I desperately pointed out to him.

As the children around us rang out with, “LOOK MOM!  LOOOOK!” and I did the same, “Look Roc!  Look at the BIG cat!” the Roc would shrink away from the children, from their piercing shouts.  He never looked where I pointed, he didn’t seem to care about the animals that made all other children shout with glee.  He climbed the display rocks, stared at the little streams of water in the enclosures, and then he would take off again.  He didn’t look for the animals, even when they were right there.  I settled for getting a picture of him with an animal in the background.

My heart hurt.

We stopped by the farm and the Roc did not hesitate to touch a big horse, and I my eyes filled with tears behind my camera.

I wished for him to look at me and smile, to share the moment with me, for connection.

I followed him into the goat enclosure, most parents watching from the other side of the fence.  “LOOK MOM!” a common exclamation from the children around us.  I again tried to get the Roc’s attention, I showed him how to pet a goat and watched him giggle as his hand made contact with the goats back.

I wished for him to look at me.  My heart hurt.

I remember my mom looking over her shoulder at me as I buckled the Roc into his car seat at the end of the day.  She smiled and said, “That was fun wasn’t it?” but I saw in her eyes that she knew, she could sense how disappointed I was.  How much my heart was hurting.  We didn’t go back to the zoo when the Roc and I visited the next summer.

Almost 4 years have gone by since I snapped the pictures above.

Spring Break 2012

The Roc kept asking, “Are we there yet?  Are we close to the zoo?  It’s taking SOOOO long to get there Moooommmmy!” as we rode with my parents to the zoo two weeks ago.  The parking lot was filling up as we parked, and I felt that familiar anxiety creep up my spine, crowds and the Roc do not mix well.  We got our tickets and my parents noticed that the dolphin training show was going to start in about 25 minutes.  The Roc immediately said he wanted to see it.  The area was packed with people looking at the giant fish tanks and the station where you could get your hands wet.  We looked at what we could, the Roc enjoying the station that had a big gush of water like a wave.  Memory snippets of the last time we were at the zoo flashed behind my eyes and I wondered if he was going to look for water more than animals again.  As the time for the dolphin training drew closer we made our way to the viewing area to get seats.  It was filling up fast and I directed the Roc to sit between my mom and I.  I wondered how we were going to get out of all the people if the Roc suddenly decided he couldn’t be there.  I didn’t need to worry, he watched the water and asked over and over when the dolphins were going to come out.  The Roc was pressed up against me as the trainers came out and the show started.  When the first dolphin came into the front pool and started to interact with the trainer the Roc said, “Look Mommy!” and I looked at him instead and I willed myself not to cry.

The Roc was so present, grinning and excited to see the dolphins.  He was sitting among a crowd in the bleachers, he was watching the dolphins, listening to the trainer talk.  I wished I could take a picture of his face, capture his pure joy.  He was so happy.  Over and over I looked at the Roc enjoying the show and my heart soared.  Tears pricked my throat the whole 15 minute presentation and I had to force them away.  Who gets emotional at a short dolphin training session?

It wasn’t about the dolphins.

My mom grabbed the Rocs hand as the crowd poured down the stairs and I lost sight of them.  We met up outside and decided to go see the new (to me and the Roc) bear exhibit.

The Roc was so excited to go see bears.  “We’re in a cave!” he told my Mom as they entered the area first.  “BEARS!” he shouted as we rounded a curve and came to the viewing area.  This time he smiled for the camera.

We walked the outdoor portion of the zoo and the Roc stopped to see each and every animal.  He was excited to eat lunch outside with grandma and grandpa, and we adults couldn’t get over the fact that we were eating outside in MN on March 15th!

We visited the rest of the zoo after lunch and the Roc was so excited.  He enjoyed it all, loved finding all the different animals, always wanted me or one of my parents to see what he was seeing, and  I heard, “Look Mommy!” more times than I can count.  He did find a little waterfall that got his attention, but he watched it for awhile, came over when I told him I found flamingos and when he went back to the waterfall he said to me, “I just want to go look at it one more time okay Mommy?  Then we can move on.”  I leaned against the railing and watched him, marveling at how he is still attracted to water and waterfalls, but how he has changed in so many other ways.

Almost four years ago we walked the same paths, looked at the same exhibits and I had felt crushed.  I was wishing for so much, for me, for the Roc, for conversations and connections.  I wanted what I saw all around me, I wanted what I had expected.  I didn’t know we would come back almost four years later and I would have what I wished for, and so much more.  Conversations and connection being tip of how far the Roc has come.

As we walked back to the car my Mom said, “Roc, you did a great job today!” and he replied, “I really liked the zoo, that was really, really fun!  When can we go again?  Can we come back tomorrow?”

“He really did do a good job didn’t he?”  I said to my mom, memories from the last visit to the zoo dancing behind my eyes, contrasting images from the day flashing alongside.  I didn’t know, couldn’t know how things would change in four years.

“He did,” she replied and smiled at me.

He did.

An Epic Weekend

It’s no secret, the Roc loves water, and he especially loves waterfalls.  Many months ago GC showed the Roc some waterfall videos on You Tube.  One of those videos became a favorite and was requested over and over and over again.  It was a 10 minute video of Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania.  It mesmerized the Roc, completely.

So we decided to go visit.

The Roc was soooo excited when we got out of the car on Saturday morning.  He was literally bouncing up and down, manically grinning, and repetitively repeating “I’m so excited!  Let’s go mommy!  Hurry up!”  As soon as we got on the trail he lead us off the path right to the water, and we were still over a mile away from the first waterfall!  He was all smiles, so happy to be outside.

We didn’t rush and let the Roc stop at each and every waterfall for as long as he wanted.

We hiked up one side of the Falls Trail and back down the same side, deciding not to risk the whole loop in one day, and when we got back down to the bottom the Roc insisted on throwing rocks into the stream.  There’s just something about little boys and rocks.

That night we stayed at a Residence Inn and while GC made dinner in the teeny, tiny kitchen,

the Roc made a waterfall on the couch.

The Roc has stayed in cabins in northern Minnesota, but this was his very first hotel experience.  We decided not to tell him there was pool there (or we’d hear about it all day) until we were ready to go swimming.  So while I was washing the dishes, GC had the Roc go look out the window where you could see a little bit of the indoor pool below us.  His expression was priceless as he realized what he was looking at.  He had a great time swimming in the (cold) pool,

and he even sat in the hot tub with me for a little bit.

We decided to hike up the other side of the Falls Trail on Sunday.  It proved to be just as beautiful,

but much steeper, see the trail there right next to the waterfall?

It was just a little bit nerve wrecking to hike this with the Roc!  We stayed glued to his side during each ascent.

We hiked to the 96 foot waterfall, but the Roc wouldn’t get any closer for a photo so I took his place.

After hiking up, up, up we found a great place to stop for lunch.

The scenery was beautiful, and when we got to the top of the Falls Trail we decided to hike across the Highland Trail and go back down the side we climbed the day before.  I couldn’t imagine hiking down the waterfalls we’d just climbed up with the Roc.

The Roc thoroughly enjoyed himself at Ricketts Glen.  We hiked around 5 miles on Saturday and just over 7 on Sunday, and the Roc really hung in there, only really showing how worn out he was about a mile out from the car on Sunday afternoon.  It was a great weekend, one we will not forget.

Visitors + Loose Teeth + A Race

May has been a hectic month so far, and I just haven’t had the chance to write it all down.  Oh well.  Here’s a bit of a recap:

My in-laws made the long drive up from South Carolina two weekends ago to visit, and help with a big project – fencing in our teeny, tiny yard.  It took my father-in-law and GC three full days to completely install it, but it’s in!  They really did a great job and now we can play with the pupper outside and he won’t be able to run away, and I can keep those pesky teenagers from cutting through my yard.  Double score.

While the guys were busy in the backyard cursing the wind I took my mother-in-law and the Roc up to the Thai food restaurant for lunch,

and then to Longwood Gardens.  She loved it, and so did the Roc.

Except when the Roc got tired of my camera constantly being pointed in his direction.

He isn’t able to stay mad for too long.

During the week that my in-laws were here they got to spend a lot of time with the Roc.  Nonno played basketball,

the Roc called Nonna up when he was taking a bath and conned her to sit in the bathroom with him,

they both went to see the Roc’s swimming lesson,

and they were even here for a momentous event – the loss of the first tooth!

The Roc was funny when it came out.  I thought he would be upset, maybe even throw a mini tantrum at the big change in how his mouth felt, but he took it all in stride.  His tooth had been loose for a while and he had been complaining for a couple days, saying that it hurt.  While eating a muffin after dinner one night he said “OUCH!” and we could all see that the tooth was hanging by a thread.  The Roc reached in and pulled it out!  We all cheered and I grabbed my camera.  We put the tooth in a bag, put it under his pillow, and then he forgot all about it.  The next morning I went up to his room and reminded him to look under his pillow!

He was pretty excited to find the money and he told his teacher that the fairy left him a dollar, when in fact it was a $5.  We are definitely leaving $1 for all subsequent teeth!

We didn’t have the greatest weather last week but we were lucky that it was decent on the night of the Roc’s baseball game, I had really wanted my in-laws to see the Roc play and I knew he would enjoy having them cheer him on.  I was right, he smiled so big when he went up to bat and kept looking over at them sitting on the bleachers.

And I got the official baseball pics – they turned out awesome!

Nonna and Nonno left on Saturday morning and we spent the rest of the day in the yard.  I planted seeds in our new little herb garden and I planted my tomatoes.

I went to bed early on Saturday night, but I tossed and turned, too keyed up to sleep.  I woke up right before my alarm went off at 4:45 am and got ready to meet my friend Tracy, who lives two doors down.  It was race day.  My first half marathon.  On the drive up I wished that I had trained a little harder, done some intervals and added weight lifting to my routine of just running.  It was too late now and I just vowed to finish the race running.  And I did!

We had perfect weather for the race, cool and cloudy for the start.  My training partner Kelly and I ran the whole race together, talking a bit and keeping each other motivated.  As we rounded the final corner and saw the finish shoot we clasped hands and sprinted across the finish line.  I’ll remember that forever, my first half marathon, completed with a good friend.

I woke up this morning with sore quads and was looking forward to a day of rest.  Not only physically, but mentally.  I’ve been feeling mentally/emotionally exhausted lately.  The Roc has been going through a phase lately, oh please – let it be a phase, and I’m so worn out.  I shouldn’t have mentioned my “day of rest” to the girls while we were out celebrating our race (where I found a new favorite drink: THE DOUBLE BLACK DIAMOND.  Fresh pineapple and SKYY Infusions All Natural Pineapple Vodka. Garnished with a sweet pineapple slice.  YUM!) last night because as soon as the Roc got to school, the school called me – he threw up on the bus and then again while walking into school.  I abandoned my resting plans and went to pick up him.  He was in good spirits and spent the rest of the day following me around, except for the 1+ hour he sat on the couch watching a movie, with a barf bowl nearby.

He never did use it.  But he did lose another tooth!

So now I must go put $1 under his pillow.

And then try to rest my brain.  The Roc will be home again tomorrow, he has to be barf free for 24 hours and technically he barfed at school today…sigh.

Busy Bee

I’ve been busy the last two weeks.  Annual developmental pediatrician appointment, get fit day at the Roc’s school, phone calls, and lots of driving up to PA for three straight days of evaluations.  No time to reflect through writing.  There is no shortage of stories to tell, my heart has both ached and soared, many times within the same day.  Talking to the doctor about the Roc’s progress, watching her work with him, feeling so proud and worried in the same heartbeat.  Attending school events and wondering why I go?  Seeing the gains and the struggles, trying not to compare and failing, watching the children group up with their friends and seeing that the Roc has no one, only me and the teachers.  Watching the Roc work so hard to keep it together when something didn’t go his way, and just feeling for him.  Knowing that he works that hard all.the.time.  Watching a little girl watching him struggle and seeing her whispering to her little friend, and knowing that that has only just begun.  Walking away from the event and feeling mixture of emotion I have no words to explain.  Trying to describe the feeling to both my Mom and GC, how it feels like something has wrapped it self around all my organs and is squeezing me.  It’s not a sharp pain, it’s the pressure, sometimes I feel like I’m suffocating even though I can take a deep breath.  Knowing that I will probably always hold part of myself so tightly because for me…this is the way it is now.  Knowing that I feel only a portion of what it must feel like to be the Roc.

But it has not all been so grueling.  Yesterday, after the three consecutive days of evaluations were completed I surprised the Roc by asking him if he would like to go to Longwood Gardens.  He loves it there and it had been hard for me not to spill the beans earlier in the week, as it’s the best feeling to make him blissfully happy.  On our drive I mentioned that instead of having a picnic like I originally suggested, we would be passing by the Thai food restaurant and we could stop for lunch there.  After changing his mind back and forth between the two he decided to go to the restaurant.  And so we did.  Just the two of us.  He behaved and even smiled for the waitress.

and me.

He kept asking me what the music was and I told him to ask the waitress, and he did, but she didn’t know saying she could speak the language but when they started singing she couldn’t keep up!  After lunch we headed over to the gardens.  And it was bliss.  Perfect weather, only the retired and a few with very small children, wonderful for the Roc.  For me, it’s about the flowers,

but it’s all about the fountains for him.

We found a dragon in a tree house,

and stopped to drink out of every water fountain we saw,

which makes the Roc oh so happy.

After a second visit to a waterfall,

and some more time gazing at the Italian water garden,

we headed into the conservatory where I bored the Roc by taking pictures of orchids

before letting him loose in the childrens garden.

It was the perfect way to wrap up our long three days and his smile says it all.

Now I need to go clean my house, my in-laws are coming this weekend!  If the weather is nice the Roc and I are planning on taking Nonna to see Longwood Gardens, we know she’ll love it as much as we do.

The Dog Park Revisited

About a month ago I attempted to take the Roc and Guinness to the local dog park.  It didn’t go well, read about it here.  But I don’t give up easily with this kid, because if I did, we’d never be able to go the places that we do.  It takes a lot of preparation to go someplace new.  Lots of description, lots of talking (from me, not so much him,) and looking at pictures if available.  It helps him understand what is expected when told “There is no screaming at the dog park,” as well as gives him an idea of what may happen so he is not as upset when something “out of the ordinary” (for his world) happens.  It keeps his anxiety levels in check.  Anxiety being a big precursor to melt downs.

I didn’t prep him last time, which was our first attempt at visiting the dog park, and what a disaster.  We both paid the price for my lack of foresight and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again.  When we got back home we talked a lot about the dog park and we’ve had small conversations about it in the weeks since.  So last Monday, the first day in our week of all day togetherness (which roughly translates to my being an all day entertainer for my son who lacks those skills necessary to entertain himself,) I casually asked him if he wanted to try the dog park again and this time, if things went well, he could play on the playground afterward.  I received a very enthusiastic “Yes, I would!  I will play on the playground and see the fountains.”

Alrighty.  I reiterated that the playground would come after dog park success.

On the drive over we spoke about who might be at the dog park, what we would see, different types of dogs, and that there would be people in the dog park.  Just a little refresher.  Kind of a verbal social story.  As I drove into the parking lot I immediately noticed the small herd of big dogs in the “large dog park,” and no one in the “small dog park.”  No one.

Not one little dog.

We had the place to ourselves!

No worries now.  So the Roc got to explore, try out the water fountain and push the button for the doggie water fountain.  And they both RAN while I threw a ball.

All that prep.

But not for nothing because after spending some time on the playground,

the Roc wanted to go back in the dog park and run with Guinness some more.  And this time, there were a couple ladies with their little dogs in the small dog park.  As we approached I gently reminded the Roc that there were people and dogs here now and it would be different.  I wondered how it was going to go, and I tried to remember if anyone from our disastrous first day was present.  I didn’t recognize anyone, but I tend to block everyone out except the Roc during any public spectacles.

We went in and stayed near the entrance for a little while, bouncing and throwing the tennis ball for Guinness.  Pretty soon the Roc wanted another drink from the water fountain and we edged our way over there.  The water fountain is near a bench where the old ladies congregate to talk, and they love to talk to kids, except the Roc doesn’t like strangers approaching him.  I happened to be walking away from the water fountain to deal with a little “gift” Guinness was leaving on the ground when the Roc asked for help pushing the button.  I yelled to him that I would be there in a second and one of the ladies popped up and said she would help him.  I cringed inside as I watched the Roc bounce a step backwards with a wary look on his face, but the promise of a drink from the fountain was too enticing and he stepped forward to drink with a hesitant “okay. She stood next to him, holding the button down, and he drank.  When he was done she asked if it was good and he said yes before sprinting towards me.  She laughed.

She had no idea the amount of prep work that had gone into this morning at the dog park.  She had no idea how hard that exchange was for him.  How far he has come to allow a stranger that close to him.  To allow a stranger to help instead of Mommy.  For him to say “okay” to her!  My god!  He spoke to a stranger!  She had no idea how tight I was holding my breath, willing the Roc to keep it together.  She had no idea how hard both of us had worked on making our second trip to the dog park more successful than the last.  And as much as I wanted to share, to shout out his accomplishment, like I do every time something like this happens, I just quietly savored the moment.  A small moment where a nice lady simply helped my son get a drink and he accepted the help.

A small moment, but a HUGE one at the same time.

We spent a little more time throwing the ball for Guinness and after a few “times up soon” warnings and the promise to bake something when we got home, we left.  We left with success.  A successful second trip to the dog park.


I won’t give up on this kid.  Over and over he shows me why.  Gives me reasons to keep reaching, keep working, keep guiding.  He is worth it.  I know that our next trip to the dog park my not go as smoothly, he may have issues again on another day.  But, we both know what he is capable of, and I always hold that in my mind.