My Diary

Mom, I’m here. Don’t forget me.

I sounded so crabby at the therapist’s office the other day while explaining my mixed emotions about being 40 and pregnant, “I’ve never been the kind of woman who was like, ‘Oh, please let me bear children. It’s my life dream to have a whole houseful of darlings. My only ambition is to be a mother.’ ” In fact, even though I’ve always assumed I would have a large family and was even quoted in my high-school yearbook that I planned to have a dozen kids, I have also been quite conflicted about it ever since I can remember. I love kids. I came from a large family that I also love. But, I have always also been full of dreams and ambitions that had nothing to do with family. In fact, I knew kids would just get in the way of a lot of what I wanted to do: graduate from college, serve in the Peace Corps, write a book or two, travel, and have a successful career in one thing or another.

I further explained to the therapist, “I’m a willing vessel, I’m just a broken one.” LeGrand and I both chuckled. Ain’t that the truth! He knows it even more intimately than I do. I am a very spiritual person and I try to live my life in communication with God. This is a good thing and a bad one. Because I listen to the voice of God, my life is always full of conflict. What He wants for me always seems to be in direct opposition of what I want for myself.

I remember when my hubby and I had been married for just a month. We went to the temple together and separated to do some work. I was 24, he was 22. We were both in college and working full-time. After we were done with our service in the temple, we walked out to the car hand in hand, both very quiet. Something was up. You could cut the dark sky in front of us with a pocketknife. My newer-than-new husband turned to me and said, “Alice, I felt it too, we are supposed to start our family now, and have joy in our posterity.” Nooooooooooo. I couldn’t keep the spiritual impressions I had felt in my own heart a secret like I had planned. This was crazy, but it was also undoubtedly what God wanted for us. I knew that this family business would rob me of all if not most of my own dreams. It took me six months to even become willing to go off birth control and then I was still resentful. And pregnant.

So, bring us up to the present day. We have four kids. I’ve had four miscarriages. I am forty and pregnant. Four seems to be an important number for me right now. This is my fourth and final blog. I know many people are reasonably questioning the child growing inside of me. Heck, they can’t question any more than I am. I am questioning. My husband is questioning. The only ones who are not questioning are our four children. They couldn’t be any more excited. Kids are really good at instinctively knowing what is most important…plus they don’t have to worry about paying the bills or losing three years of sleep.

I’d like to take this chance to explain and write down this little tale so that I will always remember it. There is one reason and one reason alone I am pregnant. The reason is that this child spoke to me from its pre-mortal realm. In August of 2012, my hubby and I found ourselves again at the temple. I had just suffered a pretty brutal miscarriage at 18 weeks. As we sat in the chapel, I turned to my husband and said, “LeGrand, I am not praying about this today, but I just want to be done having kids. I’m 38. I’m so tired, and I don’t think I can handle it emotionally anymore.” LG answered with his full support, “It’s up to you Alice. I don’t blame you. I don’t want you to have to go through that again either.” I wasn’t going to pray about it because I didn’t want any other answer from God besides my own.

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But something miraculous happened. Something I couldn’t deny. God sent a messenger to the temple that day. In the spirit form of a child. My child. The one I hadn’t yet given birth to.

It’s hard to explain the special place that are Mormon temples. They are very sacred. God is always there. They are a place where the veil between two worlds is very thin. In the temple I’ve felt the presence of many of my deceased loved ones who have gone on before me.  They have been there with me often, telling me that they are watching over me.

I never expected to be visited by someone who had yet to come to earth, but somebody had an important message that day. One that I really didn’t want to hear. In fact it was the last thing I wanted to hear.

I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked behind me to see no one there but to feel someone as assuredly as if they were standing there. There was no doubt someone was there. I then heard an audible voice, “Mom, I’m here. Please, don’t forget me.”

I instantly started bawling. How selfish I am! How easily distracted I become. I so willingly forget that this earth-life isn’t about gaining the adventures that I want to have, but is all about being willing to take on the ones that I already promised God (and others) that I would achieve. My most important calling in this life is to be a vessel, even if I’m the most broken one that there ever was. I answered with a pledge in my heart, “I won’t. I promise. I could never forget you.” It took me sixteen more months to get pregnant again. Every day I was haunted by the pleading of my child. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant or stay pregnant. I convinced myself that it was just the miscarried kid talking to me. I would maybe get to meet him at a later day in heaven. I told God that if he wanted it to happen, forty was as high as I was willing to go. Miraculously, I got pregnant on the first cycle after my 40th birthday, almost as if God wanted me to know that he got the message. But also in typical God-fashion..in the 11th hour…after we’ve been tested to the limit.

I’ve vacillated between anxiousness, depression, and elation. I’m only four months in and I’ve already had to give up my running,  my plans to go back to school and work, and a portion of my sanity. A big chunk of money that was put aside for our new home will now be used for doctor bills and baby items. I worry every day that this child will have special needs, but one thing dismisses my many worries. There is one thing that I will always know: this child is special. More than anything, this child wanted a chance to be mortal. He knew that for that to happen I had to be his mama. He traveled from wherever he was all the way to the temple to remind me of my promise long ago to not forget. I smile at his bravery and his audacity because he chose the day that I least wanted to hear it to remind me.

And then I cringe at what is in store for him. He’s going to be stubborn. He’s going to be brave. He’s going to have his own ideas. He will also have a mother to remind him that more than anything he wanted to come to earth because that is what God wanted him to do. I will remind him as much as I will myself: We might as well keep on listening to God…no matter how much harder it seems to make our lives and how much it robs us of our own dreams and ambitions. Ultimately we both will have to answer for how we used our time on earth and every single one of our choices. God will never be concerned with how much we traveled or achieved, His main concern is for the immortality and eternal life of all of His children. For that to happen, He first has to get them to earth….even if the vessel is forty and all washed up. All we can hope for is our own willingness to say, “I am a vessel, God. I am broken but I am here and I am listening.”

* I say “he” because I have this secret wish that the lucky number five will be the son for which I’ve prayed for my husband, but we are 99.9% sure that “he” is really Vivienne. There is always that .01% though, I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks.

Feel Like I’m Falling

Fall has been my favorite season for as long as I can remember. I love the weather, the start of a new school year, football games,  the eye-catching colors everywhere, outdoor adventuring, and of course my birthday! I turned 40 yesterday. I feel pretty good for forty. I feel better, happier, healthier, and fuller then I did at 30. I feel self-aware. I love myself. I really do. I think I am blessed to have great self-awareness and am working on giving myself more credit for the good in me while simultaneously tackling the weaknesses that hold me back.

I’m far from perfect. So far from perfect. I still get depressed from time to time. It is nothing like it used to be, but there are still dark periods that I don’t like to experience. I am trying to keep this blog as real as I can, but I am also trying to keep it positive because if I’ve learned anything in my last decade of life it’s that life is what we make of it.

So, I am a bit down today. That’s the real for you. The positive is that I know it won’t last. I will think my way out of this. I have learned not to dwell on the bad and I know that I can’t squash the negative feelings away by not acknowledging them. I have to feel through it and keep the light burning through the dark. I have to allow myself to have crappy moments. I have to give myself the space to mourn for the things that I don’t like, the things that don’t bring me happiness.

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I write from my new little writing space in my teeny 3 bedroom 1,000 sq. foot basement apartment. I don’t like our new living arrangements. Not one bit. I am deeply depressed about the fact that I am forty and don’t have the securities that I’ve longed for since I can remember.  I don’t like not being able to give my kids more. I don’t like that I can’t get a moment of peace and quiet anywhere. I don’t like that the only time I will see the sun until I move is when I walk out of my home. I don’t like that I have the inconvenience of letting my dog outside at the minimum of four times a day. I don’t like that my four-year-old Caroline cried at bedtime because our new place scares her. She wakes us up all night again because she isn’t at peace. I don’t like that my fourteen-year-old cried because she misses taking the bus with her friends and my ten-year-old and newly turned twelve-year-old have to be driven and picked up from the school they used to be able to walk to and from.

I don’t like goodbyes. Today I said goodbye to many good friends that I’ve had the privilege of sharing lives with for the past two and a half years. When my Bella ran up to give her special church leader a hug today it made every part of me cry. I wish things could be different. I wish things were better. I wish money wasn’t always a constant worry. I wish that I didn’t always feel the tug between being home with my kids where I can nourish and teach and going out and getting a job where I can earn the money that could keep bad things from happening. I wish we didn’t have $800+ a month in student loan payments and I wish my husband earned the salary that all his education should have earned him.

So as you can feel here, tonight I am falling. I am surrendering to the sad because I’ve got to get through this sadness, resentment, and regrets. I can’t just power through. I have to lay my broken pieces down and then pick them back up again and once again move forward.

Tonight I am just pieces of a broken puzzle. I’ve fallen off my wall. In fact I don’t even know where  the wall can be found. I’m in a place of total unrest. I’m angry with myself, with my husband, with my God. Why do things have to be so hard? Why can’t I give my kids what they deserve? Why are we always the ones who have to make sacrifices when others just get what they want? What am I missing? What do I still need to change? I’ve worked so hard at living as frugally as possible. I have always paid my 10% tithe. I work hard. I support my husband.  I babysit other people’s children so that I can be home with my own and still pay the bills. I try my hardest to listen to God. I pray constantly. I serve other people. Why then is my life so hard? Aren’t I doing the things that are right?

If God tried to wrap his arms around me tonight I would push Him away and that is the truth. Sometimes I just get so mad that He continues to let me suffer. I know, I know, someone is out there screaming at their screen that I am selfish, I am prideful, I am stupid, I am ungrateful. And I am. Maybe tomorrow I will do better. No, not maybe. Tomorrow I will do better. Tomorrow I will continue to forge ahead. Tonight, however, I will cry myself to sleep and that’s o.k.

9-17-13

I have this itch to write and I don’t really want to blog. Yeah for the diary feature! Life is good. It’s really good, but isn’t it funny that it is all in the attitude? Happiness is a choice as so eloquently communicated in one of my favorite books Man’s Search For Meaning by Holocaust Survivor Victor Frankl. Loved that book. The more life I have lived the more I realize that the mind is either a powerful tool for happiness or a mean cruel prison for misery. Right now my mind is doing good and I am really happy. Thank you mind of mine.

I’m listening to this constant play on youtube of JJ Heller.  I love JJ. Listening to her always reminds me of the great women’s group I attended at Cokesbury Methodist. Those ladies were my angels at a time in my life when I needed something that my church didn’t have to offer…a 12 step group for Codependency. What a beautiful time that was in my life. Painful but beautiful. Funny the song Your Hands just came on and it said, “that you would take my pain away” and He did. That’s why it was beautiful. “When my heart is breaking I never leave your hands.”

So, the first exciting news is Abigail scored her first goal at a HS soccer game. I was sooooo happy for her. She won the game 1-0. Of course I was home cleaning the kitchen. She always scores when I am not there. I am beginning to think I should miss all her games from now on. NEVER! Last night I got really emotional as I remembered that I had prayed specifically for Abigail to be able to let go of her anxieties and play to her fullest capability. My prayer had been answered. I immediately said another prayer of gratitude.

Funny sidenote about Abigail. We always read all her texts and LG found one really inappropriate one the other day. It had something to do with a boy talking about her nice legs and honey. I’ll just leave it at that. From now on we are going to tease her and call her honeylegs. One really good thing about Abigail is that she has straight A’s so far this school year. She seems to have figured out being organized and getting all her assignments turned in.

Sophia went to her first volleyball practice last Friday and she really loved it. It is one of the best parental privileges to see your kids find their element. I hope she will continue to shine on the court. I want to get her back into art class, but can’t justify the expense right now.

Bella insists that she ONLY wants to play softball from now on. It also makes me smile. She fell in love this Spring.  I am so happy that Bella got a teacher that is perfect for her. She loves Mrs. McManus and I feel God really looked out for us this with this placement this year.

We started piano with all the girls. I hope it will stick. One of Abigail’s soccer friends was over a few weeks ago and when her dad came to pick her up he highly encouraged us to teach the girls the basics and promised me that just 5 minutes a day of practice for them would make a really big difference in their lives. I just felt like it was finally time for LG and I to get to work on teaching the kids. We have talked about it for a long time, but never follow through. It is kind of ridiculous that we both play and aren’t passing the talent along. So, we came up with a simple plan. Either LG or I are teaching all 4 girls at the same time on Sundays for a quick 5 minute lesson. They are then expected to practice for 5 minutes during homework time every day. We will hold a recital every Sunday before the next lesson. Whoever masters the song the best gets a prize. The girls were excited about it this last Sunday and I hope we have started a rich tradition that will last. So far, Sophia seems to take the most interest and enjoys playing always taking way longer then 5 mins. Abigail already had a little piano some years back and with her violin and choir it comes to her easy. Bella though has the hardest work ethic so we could have a good three way battle here. The most fun part is seeing 4-year-old Caroline try to fake along.

Caroline has some musical talent. This past Sunday she played some of the right notes, but sang the whole song perfectly as she played. Last year at one of Abigail’s choir concert the music director gave the pitches to the kids on stage and Caroline belted them all out in perfect pitch. It was kind of embarrassing but also totally awesome. We often talk about getting Caroline into dance, acting and singing. She belongs on Broadway.

Today I took Caroline and Shyloh (the neighbor girl I babysit) to the library. They had a fun puppet theatre in the corner and Caroline was LOVING it. Storytelling is her element.

LG and I had a rough week last week as he was withdrawing and kind of down and I get super impatient and frustrated when he is like that. Our Friday marriage counseling session was super productive and it made me happy. We had a really great Sunday night just connecting after the counselor reprimanded us and told us to always pray and then spend at least 30 minutes every night of connecting time. I felt really close to LeGrand as we took the time to just talk and I was so grateful for the progress we’ve been making, especially in communication and emotional intellect.

We went up to Squaw Peak on Friday night. It was fun to just get away and look over the valley trying to figure out which street was which. There were two 20 something kids up there. They were sitting on the wall in front of their bullet bikes drinking beer. One chucked his bottle down the mountain. It upset both LG and I. We had just a few minutes as the only people up there. It was nice.

I had a great experience at church on Sunday with one of my primary kids. I was able to calm him down from his initial state of borderline hysterical. After about 20 minutes of distracting him with my iPad, he was able to participate. During class I took him out in the hall for just a minute and had a heart to heart with him. I told him I loved him and that he could trust me and that he could tell me anything. His parents had told me that he had been acting really upset for a couple of weeks. I asked him a couple of questions and then felt the distinct inspiration that he was just experiencing typical kindergarten anxieties and exhaustion. I asked him if school was making him tired. His emotions surfaces and I was able to give him a pep talk. It was awesome. It made me happy for my calling.

Tonight LG and I were laughing that he is always in the leadership callings. He doesn’t feel like he is a good leader. I told him that the Lord was going to keep calling him as a leader until he believed he was good at it. LG didn’t say it but I know he was probably thinking the same thing I was. Maybe the Lord will give me a leadership calling when I quit thinking I could handle it with ease. LOL I’m so prideful.

We are really happy in this home. We know though that the landlord wants to sell it. We hope something else will open up in our ward or she will wait to sell it until we can afford to buy it.

I had a thought this morning. God was really being very merciful for calling me home when he did. It hasn’t been easy for the last few months but I have really learned a lot and have enjoyed my motherhood more than ever. With Caroline going to kindergarten next year and me not getting pregnant this is kind of my last chance. I think it really took me surrendering to find the joy. He knew that.

Well I have to run and get Caroline in the bath. LG and I are going to try and play tennis for a half an hour when he gets home from YM so I need to have the kids totally ready for bed.

I need new running shoes. My legs were killing me on tonight’s run and that is always the tell-tale that I need to bite the bullet and buy the shoes. Unfortunately they will have to wait til my birthday. I might have to ride my bike solely til I can get my shoes for my birthday. Part of me is happy that I have been running for two whole years but the other part hates using her birthday money on running shoes. This will be the 3rd year in a row that all I get for my birthday is a pair of shoes! At the same time, I’ve never felt better. I am so happy with my running progress. Now the sugar-free is something I need to do better at; I wish I could find the motivation I had the first two weeks again. I really want to lose that 10 more pounds before my 40th birthday. I can’t believe I am going to be 40. I feel so old. I am my mother.

I’m really really really looking forward to going to the Diana Krall concert with LG next week. He loves her and I am so glad I bought the tickets before we went on vacation because there is no way we could afford it now. We will finally get our delayed 16 year anniversary date next week.

 

Diary Entry, 8-30-13

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I used to be an impeccable journal writer, but once I became a mother journal writing, like many of my other interests, went to the wayside. Blogging has been a great alternative to get my writing fix, but I’d like to get back to a place where I write from my heart every day. Instead of filling an old vintage suitcase like I have with all my childhood/adolescent journals, I’d like to fill a hard-drive. I have tried different journal sites over the years but I have never stuck with them. In fact if I even wanted to go out and find all my entries I wouldn’t even know where online to even go back to look. I need something central. Why not the blog where I already visit so frequently?

After having some family drama over a post a few weeks ago, and not wanting to delete the raw feelings that were unappreciated, I figured out that wordpress allows me to turn posts private, where only I can see them when I come to my blog. Because I can use the private feature, When I know I can go private, I will be more comfortable to just write out my heart’s thoughts without inhibition. At the end of the entry if it isn’t something I want the world to see, I can just hit private. The best part is none of you will ever know if you missed anything.

So, here is my first of hopefully many more diary entries. On this first one I will try to be politically correct enough and use my filter, but in the future I hope to just write freely and share or not. I am excited to get back to my journal writing. Being so sporadic has given me a lot of frustration over the years. I know journal writing is a really effective tool for emotional well-being, history chronicling, and proper perspective, so I hope this new plan will work for me.

So, on with the entry.

I was just chucking at myself because I had to go to school to pick up the class gerbils that Bella gets to keep for the weekend and then two seconds after getting the gerbils situated I found myself holding Abigail’s box of bugs she has collected for Biology class. I feel like we are running a zoo around here. I hate rodents. The girls have been pretty excited about the weekend with the gerbils and have been counting down the days. They like to taunt me about the fact that we get to keep them an extra day because I was the idiot mom who signed up for Labor Day weekend. I mostly just wanted to get it over with. Eeek. LG says I deserve mother of the year because a couple of weeks I collected a maggot for Abigail’s collection off a dead bird that Olive killed in the back yard. I quite agree. What we do for our kids’ education.

This week I started babysitting Shiloh. It hasn’t been bad at all. I was dreading going back into the babysitting business and I was really upset with God that he keeps telling me to be home and then I have to take these side jobs that I don’t want: at the top of the list is childcare. I don’t even want to hang out with my own kids half the time. I had a conversation with the marriage counselor about it last week and she said that I need to make a plan to get what I want. What do you want Alice? I want to get my college degree and be a teacher. I want to have my own career. I know what I don’t want. I don’t want to be the girl in the family that always has to pick up the slack and take the crappy jobs to make it all work. I don’t want to keep feeling like I get the table scraps. She suggested that I save some of my babysitting money in my own college account so that the job will gain greater meaning to me and I will feel empowered knowing that I am working towards my own goals instead of just giving everything to the kids. She then suggested that next year when Caroline goes to kindergarten I can get a part-time job at UVU that will allow me to get half tuition. Save all that money and then I can use it towards adding in the classes I want when Caroline goes to first grade. Why is it that I can’t come up with plans like that myself? It felt so hopeful having a plan.

LG and the girls and I met with the foster care recruiter this past week. I absolutely know we have at least one more kid, but I can’t seem to get pregnant. Ever since my miscarriage last year and since that really cool experience I had at the temple, I can’t get it out of my heart. I’ve been pretty much begging LG to get on board with me to foster to adopt. He finally came around. He is having a hard time getting excited about it after seeing so many of his foster kid clients’ issues. He is mostly just worried that it will drive me crazy and strain our relationship. I think LG will be the best foster dad ever and any kid would be lucky to have him. He is so patient and attentive and loving and kind. I worry about what kind of toll it will be on my sanity (the possibilities of issues are infinite) but I just know in my heart this is the right thing. I know there is a kid out there waiting to join our family and he/she doesn’t want to be forgotten. LG and I have always talked about adopting even before we were married. I just think doing the foster thing will be harder as we may have to send kids back and that will be heart wrenching, but we can’t afford to adopt any other way right now and I want to get it going as I am just getting older by the second.

Abigail broke my heart yesterday as she bore her soul to us about some mean girl stuff going on at school. It was a great talk that LG and I got to have with her in Carls Jr playland of all places. She even cried which is very uncharacteristic of her. We listened and tried to advise the best we knew how. What it boils down to though is Abigail needs to learn to move forward when friends aren’t willing to forgive her. She also needs to just love herself. Last she needs to be o.k. with the fact that she will make the same mistakes repeatedly. All she can hope to have is people who are willing to love her in spite of them. She is so much like LeGrand in the way that she gets lost when she screws up. She doesn’t know how to fix it because she feels so much self loathing and shame. I know as a mother I have fed into that and it hurts. I wish I would have learned about shame a whole lot earlier in my life and I wish I could keep my cool better when the people around me screw up.

Overall, I am really happy right now. I have lost 15 pounds in the last 3 weeks and that feels amazing. I have been trying to avoid all unnatural sugars. It’s taken a lot of self-will but it’s been a fun challenge and an eye-opening experience towards my greater physical health. LG and I still have stuff to figure out but we are happy. The girls make me so proud every day. They are truly amazing kids and beautiful girls. They are smart and talented. They are more than I could have ever wished for in kids.

I am trying to focus on loving my church calling. Primary is a hard calling for me, but when I’m honest, I really don’t like most of my church callings and so I am trying to change that.

Things are super super tight financially, but I have been amazed at how focusing on gratitude makes it all so much more tolerable.

Impending Doom

I have exactly 30 minutes til my kids walk in from their last full day of school. Summer is here! (Yeah they have school for an hour tomorrow but that doesn’t really count except as an evil educator’s trap to get me out of bed early one more day.)

I have been dreading summer. I am usually way excited about it as I am an easy-going gal that loves the pool, smoothies, and sleeping in. This summer is different for me, just like life lately. I am in the middle of a mid-life crisis, therefore nothing is meant to be enjoyed.

How am I spending my last 30 minutes of freedom (when the toddling tornado happens to be napping)? I am eating straight from the bag of chips while zoning out into my computer. And it feels so good. I may not get to post for a few more months as the children think my laptop is meant solely for their entertainment. I cannot get my hands on it. Ever.

I know I am a killjoy lately. I cannot even stand to listen to myself on the blog. negative. negative. negative.

This is what I have figured out. I hate being poor. I have been poor my whole life. I hate NOT having control over it. We aren’t really poor. My hubby has a great income, but $1,000 a month goes to student loans and that eats up our disposable income. I just want financial freedom to do what I want when I want. I had all these grand ideas a few months back: I was going back to school, I would get a good job, we’d start chipping away at the student loans. But then God stepped in. He not only said, “Alice quit your job, you need to be home”, but he also said, “You have one more baby waiting.” Although having another member of the family join us from God’s realms makes me happy, all the other stuff that goes with it does not.

Babies are HARD and I am FORTY years old!! I am not even out of the hard stage with Caroline yet and I am willingly going to jump back into it again?? Not only am I dreading the ins and outs of caring for a baby (not the baby itself) but I can’t get over the resentment I feel that I can’t work to provide myself with greater financial freedom. I just want to have a vacation now and again, be able to afford to go to college, and give my kids nice things. Is that too much to ask?

But I love God, I believe in Him, and I am trying my hardest to believe Him…Believe that He knows best for me. I feel like He is guiding me OUT of certain areas of my life: blogging, book reviews, working at the school, but I haven’t figured out anything that He is guiding me into yet. Except for the baby. And the baby only leaves me conflicted and doubtful. It took me 3 years to get Caroline and 3 more to get the last pregnancy that I miscarried at 18 weeks. Time is running out.

And what is upon me? Summer. All my kids here every minute of every day wanting to be entertained, and I have no extra money. I am not happy about it. I just want to go and have fun with them every day. I know I can do that without money and have even planned something to do every day that doesn’t cost money, but I don’t want to do it that way, I want to do it MY way, which would include spending money.

I feel like in my life cinematic experience there is a little creature popping up on the screen every 30 seconds with a dun, dun, dun. I am living a tragedy.

I take my anti-depressants, I run 3 times a week, I don’t feel necessarily depressed, but WHY do I sound like I am? I just can’t get happy unless I get to do what I WANT TO DO. Can I find a happy medium between pursuing my own happiness while simultaneously listening to God? I don’t know. If I can I don’t know HOW yet.

I can tell you one thing, it’s going to be near to impossible during the months of June, July, and August. Good timing, God.