Friday, January 17, 2014

Seven Quick Takes Friday

So if I am really going to try to blog more, this is a good place to begin, right?

I am very rusty at blogging, and remembering things like linking and such.  Plus it is so different now.  This will take me a while to get the hang of it so my posts may be low tech for a while.

Anyway, here we go

1)  I just spent the entire day sorting through my icon studio.  I soldiered on after the last baby was born (two years ago) and didn't take more than 6 weeks off from my classes here.  For that I am very proud of myself, because after Melanie was born I didn't get back to it for about 6 months.  Anyway, in that two years things have really gotten out of order, so even with all day, I have a few more days to go until I am happy.

2) I did, in fact, get a hand me down laptop.  I am learning how to use it, and so far, this is amazing.  I am truly grateful.

3) I have read three books already this year, more than all of last year, sadly.  I have decided this year I will read rather than surf around Facebook or randomly check websites.  I started with "Orphan Train", by Christina Baker Kline, then went on to "Joy School" (Elizabeth Berg), and am now almost finished with another Elizabeth Berg book, "A Year of Pleasures".  Now I know these aren't classic literature or anything, but getting back to the habit of reading needs to be eased into.

4) I am also reading some non-fiction.  One called "Stiffs" about the use of cadavers throughout human history.  One called "Daring Greatly", by Brenee Brown, and another called "Two Part Invention" by Madelieine L'Engle.   I am about 1/3 through the first two and only a few pages into the third.

5) I have also finished up a few icons.  I don't know how to post pictures yet, so maybe I'll do it from my phone next post.  I did St. Ephraim the Syrian, and an Anapeson (reclining Christ).  I am currently working on a Pantocrator and finishing two Tender Kissing icons.  If I can add photos to this through my phone post-publish, I will.  Otherwise I'll make a separate post later.  

6)  The School Year.  Well, we are hitting February mood already. Blah.  My college age kids started back this week.  My high schooler at the local Catholic high school just started her second semester.  My home schooled high schooler is mid second quarter due to getting his materials late from Seton.  The rest are about where I hoped they would be.  The pre schooler and toddler make each day an adventure.  Ahem.

7) I have continued to exercise, and feel great.  The Paleo experiment lasted a few months, and now I realize I'm living on bread and cheese again, so maybe another dip in that pool would be a good idea.  Once change that stuck though, is we are on fire for veggies, and eat so much more of them than we ever did before the Paleo challenge.  Roasted Brussels Sprouts are the bomb!

So that's it!  Check out http://www.conversiondiary.com/ for more.  I'll link if I can figure it out.  Otherwise, I'm sure you all know how to get to that website by yourself if you have to.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I miss writing!

I may be getting an old, passed down numerous times, lap top. I haven't been able to access a real computer for a long time and I just can't blog using an iPad or my phone. Just the thought of blogging again makes me happy. I'm really hoping the laptop comes to pass. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

My icon in progress

I am still working on icons. This is one in progress. I can not express how much I really love writing icons. I will be a participant at an icon workshop next week and am looking forward to that. Hopefully I'll get some pictures up of the new one too. It's taking me a while to remember I am trying to blog more. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Finally I can use my phone!

Watch out, posts aplenty coming. I lost most of the use of my PC, hence no blogging. I just checked into a mobile ap for blogger. I  am probably years behind, but here I am. And here are the little two. Can you believe how big?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Joyful Mystery of a Full House

My baby and my almost  teen




I have entered a new landscape now as far as my children and household are concerned.  When I began this blog, eight years ago, I had seven children, ages 11 to 1.  I was busy, exhausted, isolated, overwhelmed, but very interested in gardening, iconography, decorating and writing.  I had a quiet house by 8:00pm every night, and total control over our schedule.  Everyone was home schooled then, no one went anywhere or did anything unless I took them, or invited and prepared for company.

Now, I have 9 children, ages 19 to 1.  My house is almost never quiet, as I have a college student and two upper classmen in high school who do homework and studying into the wee hours.  The little kids wake up at the crack of dawn, and I try to cram sleep in between for myself the best I can.  We have become "that house",  you know the one, where all the kids congregate.  I never know for certain how many people will be eating with us, or sleeping over, popping by.  I do not mind that our home is one of hospitality, but I must be willing to keep my balance on the shifting sands of our life.  I guess you could say that through the years I have had to develop good sea legs to keep my balance.

I'll have another child graduating from High School this year.  When my eldest graduated, I was seven months pregnant, and could only absorb the event as a calendar obligation.  I told family, a few friends, I bought a cake, we got him a card, and took a few pictures, but I could not get "into it" at all.  And that has been my struggle with a family this size.  I have kids moving in and out of every stage of life concurrently.  I want to soak it up, but I just can not.  The best I can do is notice the preciousness of each day, one encounter at a time, maybe make a note of it, maybe a photo, but more than likely, the moment will be fleeting and then will disappear into the ether of the past.  The rate of precious moments disappearing down the memory hole makes me so very melancholy at times, so grateful for the abundance at other times.  It is more than I can grasp.

My life has more joy that I can hold,  more work than I can do, and more love than I can actually make any sense of.  I have had people ask me, "How do you do this?  How can you keep it up?"  I don't actually know the answer about how, except One Day At A Time, with a very firm foundation of love, and a deep belief in the goodness of what (or Who) our family reflects.  As my husband and I were discussing our life yesterday, and he commented that I seem to worry less, even as the number of people to worry about has increased, and the number of things outside my control has increased (can you say teenagers driving, being driven by friends, going on trips, and so on?).  I replied, "I guess I just have to trust God, because I don't have time to do anything else."  We will deal with each day, along with its events both expected and unexpected, and trust that Our Lord will see us through.  And that is all I've got at this point. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday, finally

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!



I am going to try this again~  I need to get my blogging voice back, and I have to start somewhere.  Here goes:

 1.

  I have been doing a Paleo style of eating since Jan. 7th.  Since my research in any area boils down to nothing, I just took the advice from one of my work out companions, and define Paleo as any food except grains or dairy.  I was not enthusiastic about this, but it was a challenge, and if you want me to do something, challenge me, and I'll do it. 

2.
Coffee is paleo.  French Press coffee has become an essential part of my morning.  I have fiddled around with the coffee, the water temp, the steeping time, and come up with something that tastes terrific.  All this despite the fact that I rarely have time or presence of mind to pay attention to any of the above.  And it still tastes terrific.

3.  

I love eating this way.  I can't believe it, though.  I mean bread was my life, my love, my everything.  How can I live if living is without bread??
And cheese?  Seriously?? Cheese is the stuff that makes the world go around, food of the gods, gift to all mankind.  How could I possibly live with out cheese?

4.
  
So now I have established that I probably needed to reset my food hierarchy a bit. I think I was living mostly on bread and cheese. 


5.  

The first week was the worst.  I wanted to cry, scream, hit, verbally eviscerate whomever, and then go straight to bed.  I continued to work out my three times a week schedule, which helped.  I made good food though.  Chopped lots of veggies,  roasted chicken, made bone broth, modified all our regular meals to include a paleo option (basically serving the pasta, potatoes or bread on the side, as well as the cheese on the side.)  I made paleo stuffed peppers, paleo spaghetti, paleo cookie bars, and lots of avocados.  Favorite sweet craving snack: Sliced banana with sesame seed butter on top, covered in either almond milk or coconut milk.  So good.  

6. 

It came to be, that I could live just fine without bread if I had avocados, and without cheese if I had carmalized onions (with cayenne pepper).  If I made almond butter and dark chocolate cookie bars I could make through my morning coffee happy.  If I had avocado/chicken salad for lunch, or a hamburger patty with kimcha on it, with raw veggies on the side, happy as a clam.  If I had roasted chicken with sauteed seasoned veggies for dinner, or bone broth soup, or roasted veggies with roast beef, content.  If I had bacon wrapped dates, or ham wrapped olives or roasted brussel sprouts for a movie snack, yum.  

7. 

Will I keep this up?  This began as a 30 day challenge.  I have more energy for sure.  My mood is so much more steady, and I have a body with very few aches and pains. I am almost never hungry, or if I am it is a good, honest hungry, not a shaky "if I don't eat something right now I might kill someone or die" sort of hungry.   So yes, I will apply what I have learned past the 30 days.  I will incorporate some grains back in, I will just be careful about the quality and amount.  I love cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread, and intend to add that in.  I will have cheese from time to time, as the delicious treat that it is, and relish it and enjoy it, and not just put it on everything. I will add back good quality yogurt.  I will keep my new found love of veggies.  I will keep being more intentional about what I create in the kitchen.  I will use food treats as treats, and not as a daily occurrence .  And  I will keep working out three times a week, which has been the key to all of the changes I have been able to make.  Maybe this will be the topic of my next quick takes:  How a 46 year old who just had a baby got back in shape after sitting in a chair and nursing for 4 years straight, or something like that.  

8. 
Wine is paleo.  Enough said.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday. Oops. Never mind.

I tried to do a Quick Takes Friday post, but it was so boring and dull and horrendous, I couldn't even stand to read it.  So never mind.  I apparently have nothing of import to say today.     A one sentence summary:  We (as in all 11 of us)  have been sick with a virus for 10 weeks, and are finally better, with only random coughing;  I nearly lost my mind listening to all that coughing.

There.  The end.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tap, Tap, is this thing on??


No blog post since April.  Crazy.  The addition of Theo to our family seemed to be the tipping point for me on so many of my side dish amusements.  My gardening is only basic maintenance; my cooking is uninspired but nutritious, with oodles of shortcuts.  My ability to read a book or anything longer than a blog post or Facebook update has disappeared. My only photos are on my iPhone, so Theo has only dark, blurry pictures to commemorate his first year.  Church has become a Sunday only affair, which I hate, but right now is all I can manage.  I have made a few trips to the monastery that is attached to our eparchy, and those pilgrimages have been soul savers. 

 I have enjoyed caring for Theo, and watching Melanie be the cutest 3 year old ever, and hosting innumerable teenage gatherings and shuttling  people back and forth to choir and buying  an enormous amount of food every week, and keeping us a few steps ahead of squalor every day.  I sleep the sleep of the exhausted when I am able to sleep (any other mid-forties women understand that comment?).  I began an intense exercise regimen with some church friends in September, which has given me my strength back after feeling very weak from Theo’s birth.  It took me a year to even gather the energy after he was born to try to exercise.  I can now say I am stronger than I have been since before I was pregnant with Melanie, which gives me hope for my continued strengthening.  It never is too late!  I am still doing iconography weekly, praise God, and have taken two workshops since Theo was born to improve my skills.  My husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary this year, and have had to pour renewed energy into our relationship if we are to have any time together at all.  Having nine children from college age to one year old all living under our roof is a full, full life.  
 
But I really miss blogging.  The entire blogging universe has change so much since I was active, I really don’t know how to be part of the blogging “community” anymore, but I figure if I write, at least I will have a record of my thoughts. 

And now it is time to get the kids on their schoolwork.  I did fail to mention that I am still home schooling the bottom 6 children, if you count Theo and Melanie as being home schooled, which  I do.
Hopefully I’ll be back soon with something besides my task list.  Here is to hope springing eternal!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Birth Story, re-visited

So eight months later, and I'm still reveling in Theo's birth.  I went through my usual phases post-partum:  shock, massive adjustment and aligning what really happened with the imaginary life I had in my head.  There were some disappointments, and in my usual fashion, those took center stage for a while.  But now, as I am finally getting the feel for my new normal, some events have occurred that make me more able to digest the events on the day Theo was born.  I am remembering other details and feelings now that the main feeling of relief has tempered down to reality.

One funny thing is that I was watching Nanny 911 while in early labor.  My now 15 year old daughter was watching with me, as I was jotting down contraction times so I could assess when to call the midwife.  I remember discussing how watching that show was enhancing my self esteem and comfort in my ability to parent yet another child.

I remember trying to get my husband to come up from his home office and help me get the bedroom ready for the birth.  I remember being very angry at how distracted he was that day.

I remember the quick decent into labor land, and my immense relief when the midwife showed up earlier than I had expected.  My labor picked up so quickly (maybe because I was at home and my body knew it could just go for it, instead of gearing up for an hour of relocation?), and I remember saying, "I hate this part of labor", referring to the part where the pain is intense, but you really have no idea how long it might go on.  If I hadn't been so firmly in labor land, I would have recognized I was nearing the homestretch, and everyone was telling me so.  But I wouldn't be persuaded.  The nurse asked me, "What part of labor do you like?" and I remember answering, "When it is over!".

As I relayed in my original birth story, once I got in the water, I had maybe 5 contractions before Theo was born.  It might have been more, but it wasn't many.  One of the worst parts was my husband left momentarily, and ended up missing the actual birth.  He heard the baby being born, and dashed in immediately after, but I have to admit I was upset by that for some time.  That never happened at the hospital births!  But it was a small price to pay for the amazing part after Theo was born, getting in my bed, the relaxed, happy atmosphere, and the complete ability to me comfortable.  I had never loved my home as much as I did that day!

Now, to prepare for this birth, I had gotten some essential oil beeswax candles, made a play list of inspirational and comforting music, gotten snacks and drinks for the attendants, and so on.  The birth was so fast, none of it got used, and weirdly that left me feeling I had failed in some way.  It took me months to go ahead and burn those candles, listen to the music and realize I wasn't hosting a party or setting up a scene for a play, I was just having a baby, and I did that just perfectly.

Months later, my 12 year old daughter set up my bathtub with bubbles, my scented candles and music, having no idea this was something I had missed during Theo's birth.  It was so nice, just making peace with what really went down that day, especially because it really was an amazing birth.  To integrate my disappointment with my gratitude was the missing piece in my analysis of Theo's birth.
                                                                        Theo then

                                                                     Theo now

 So the lesson from this birth was that life isn't a performance, it is real.  It is the real thing, and hinging my happiness on the appearance of having it all together is just getting in the way of me being entirely present to my own life.

And really believing that is a such a gift to be given along with my sweet little Theo.  I am so blessed! 

(for the original birth story go here)

My daughters are in the blue choir. This performance was last summer, and I am currently dealing with new facebook crashing into new blogger. Oy.





Thursday, March 22, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

So it's been a while. But I am plugging along, and decreasing my computer use during Lent, which is good. A few things to share, though.

{pretty}
I have a glass bottle on the window sill obsession, and an early spring. My kitchen window sill is a colorful haven in the chaos that is often my kitchen.

Also Melanie turned 3 this week, and here is her cake. I happened to have 3 heart shaped cake pans so this was easy

{happy}

I found a terrific new family doctor after Theo was born. He has decorated his office in the painting of Gustav Klimt. I particularly was drawn to the "Tree of Life" and have since purchased it and it hangs over my bed. Life is so beautiful!


{funny}

Some of the younger children were having such fun last night. While my nearly 8 year old played (quite well, by the way) the harmonica, the other 3 were jumping, dancing and skipping around. Ordinary, precious moments!
And another ordinary, precious moment: Melanie cleaning out the bowl of cake batter on her birthday

{real}
Theo is 7 months now, and today for the first time began pulling books off the shelf and examining them very closely. The look of pride on his face was precious, and I know it is just the beginning of his delight in encountering the world, and of my books being rearranged.


More {p,h, f, r} at Like Mother, Like Daughter

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy St. Valentine's Day.

I can't skip my traditional St. Valentine's Day Post. Love to all!


"Little Skunk," said Cat, "I have a kiss for Little Bear. It is from his grandmother. Take it to him like a good little skunk."

Little Skunk was glad to do that. But then he saw another little skunk.

She was very pretty. He gave the kiss to her.

And she gave it back.

And he gave it back.

And then Hen came along. "Too much kissing," she said.
"But this is Little Bear's kiss, from his grandmother," said Little Skunk.
"Indeed!" said Hen. "Who has it now."
Little Skunk had it. Hen got it back. She ran to Little Bear, and she gave him the kiss.

The skunks decided to get married. They had a lovely wedding. Everyone came.


(From "A Kiss for Little Bear" by Else Holmelund Minarik)

Friday, January 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

~One~

Theo is nearly 5 months old. I am truly just getting it through me that he is here. I know that sounds crazy, but it has been that way for all my babies. It is so overwhelming and unbelievable to me, that a whole person can be created and come from me, that I can't really grasp it for months. My midwife this last birth, since it was at home, looked at all the newborn photos of my nine children I have around my room, and said, "Wow, you are really attached to the newborn period!" I have thought about it, and while that may be it (you know, the moment your arms embrace the reality of your hopes and dreams!), I also think it is because those months of each of my children's lives seem wavy to me, like an oasis, or a mirage. I am in such a state of transition, that I can't quite get reality through and through. Having these photos around helps cement in me that those times were tangible, and solid, and despite my inability to grasp it, very real.

~Two~

My poor, poor body. This last pregnancy and birth, as I feared, really did some damage. I am battling a hopelessness about ever getting remotely "back" to myself. Gravity and stretch marks have had their way with me, and I haven't gotten my strength back, even yet. I "know" what to do, but have no earthly idea how to get it done. It is time to bring back "Mrs. Happy". I was in the same spot seven years ago after baby #7, and told my children I needed their assistance in putting my recovery and health first. This drawing was on my white board when I returned from a walk, by my then seven year old. She is now 15, and still my most enthusiastic fan.

~Three~

Melanie, now closing in on three years old, is still just the sweetest of the sweet. She has always, and still does, make my heart ache with her sweetness. And she is so patient, yet direct, when she needs me. She'll wait for me to finish with Theo, but she will reiterate she needs me. I am so grateful, as she makes it doable for me to know and meet her needs. I still love dressings her up like a little dolly. She likes it too.

~Four~

I have had far more fun than I anticipated getting clothes for Theo. I thought there was no way, after getting girl clothes for Melanie, that I would enjoy getting little boy clothes. I was wrong. The Thrift store is full of adorable, cheap little boy clothes and shoes, and I am enjoying every minute of it.

~Five~

My middle kids get neglected blogwise, but they are so enjoyable! The 11 year old girl is a creative genius and a warm, tender care giver. My 13 year old son is changing every day, but maintains his sweet demeanor and I can see the amazing man he is going to be. My 9 year old son is a ball of anticipation and excitement about life, and I am trying to follow his lead. And my seven year old daughter is really embracing her "middle kid" status, finally, after clinging mightily to the "little kid" position. I am so pleased she is finding her new place in the family to be to her liking!



~Six~

And my big kids. The 18 year old son is at home, going to community college and holding down two jobs. He still does his chores and makes time to snuggle the little kids. He isn't as patient with the middle kids as I would like, but then he would be perfect, and that is impossible. My 17 year old daughter took a leap and cut her hair short and it is adorable. She is doing great in school and is training for track and field, and has a job. Busy, busy, but fun to watch. And the 15 year old girl, also doing well in school, and in the drama club, and busy with her very vibrant social life. This is the social butterfly girl, exuberant in so many ways. She walks around singing, she smiles and laughs often, and her enthusiasm is contagious!

~Seven~

I find it ironic that the very creatures that have caused my fatigue and huge workload are also the most inspirational people in my life to assist me in carrying out the work of my life. Isn't it rich how all is provided?

So there we are. I am fully immersed in my life. Fully.
Taken after Theo's Baptism this fall. It is the only photo of all of us taken as of yet. Must remedy that situation soon.


More over at Jen's Place!

Friday, December 23, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

The Tree has been Chosen!


-1-
Christmas prep has been relaxed, calm, fun, on pace. This has not been my experience ever as a mom, so I can not explain it. Just a Gift, I guess.
After the tree was up, Theo in his Bumbo, with Melanie

-2-
I feel (finally) my strength coming back after Theo's birth. He is four months old, but now I can have a busy, active day without major exhaustion and lots of back pain. I can also get up off the floor without pushing on something and making lot o' noise. Huzzah!

(With his older sister on his 4 monthaversary)

-3-
Melanie has been the sweetest. Her use of language is increasing so rapidly, but there are somethings she pronounces incorrectly that I love. "I wuv my baby brudda", "Otay" "Pismass Tree" "Nit" for Nick, "dould" instead of could. SO cute, and it is going away slowly but surely, so I want to document a bit before she speaks correctly.

-4-
My seven year old has recently discovered card games. It is so much fun to see her just breaking into the "big kid " world, and loving it so much.

-5-
I have almost finished my Nativity Icon, and will have it blessed on the altar on Christmas. It has been such a pleasure working on this icon during Advent.

The faces of the icon in progress
Now I just have to add the halo rings and and lettering, and this is finished!

-6-
I am now old. This year we have had a balmy December, no snow or threat of it so far, and I am delighted. I remember when I was young I thought people who were happy about no snow were old and sad. Now I think differently.

-7-
It was just a year ago, tomorrow, I found out that Theo was on his way. I kept it a secret for a week, so last Christmas I was "pondering in my heart" what was happening. This year, we have a 4 month old love and I can not imagine our family with out him!
(iPhone photos, so sorry for the grainy pics, but better than nothing, right?)

More Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Facebook, etc.

So here I am, with Theo being three months old, realizing I skipped the month of November entirely on this blog. In seven years of blogging, I don't believe this has ever happened. Admittedly, Facebook has filled in for blogging on a daily basis. Firstly, it is much easier, now that I have an iPhone, to whip out a little update with a photo. The same thing would take much longer to blog, unless I find a way to blog from my phone. Secondly, frankly, the blog world is a very different landscape than it was. It is far less of a community, and like so many other parts of society, has become corporate. Little blogs disappear, readership centers around the "famous" bloggers, who either have 5 billion comments, or closed comments. Most the popular blogs now are part of the bloggers' marketing package for their other business pursuits, which is very smart, but lacking in the community blogging once was. We hear about many of the blogging "get togethers" that contain the same famous bloggers that all know each other, while thousands of us are "spectators" now at the community. It seems to me, Facebook has replaced the "virtual" community that blogging once was. The downside is that some of my long time blog friends are not on facebook, or I haven't found them. I personally have my privacy settings set very high, and that makes me difficult to locate. I have kept my friend list small on purpose, so it is intimate, and truly full of my friends. Now, if any of you want to be on facebook with me, let me know in the comments and we'll figure out how to find each other.

The other problem with the blog decreasing for me is that my attention span is shrinking. I think of status updates of 140 characters or less to get my point across. I miss delving into something for a paragraph or two, focusing on an idea for more than a few moments. Thus, the blog continues. The thoughts are still there, in a fractured sort of way, but I haven't allowed myself the luxury of parsing and collecting and then putting forth these thoughts. And I miss it.

So, while Facebook has filled a gap for me, to be sure, and I am grateful for that, I want to continue blogging, but sadly, not so much as part of a community, but as a tool for me to organize my thoughts and work out ideas that rattle around in my head.

I also plan to spend more time with my "In Real Life" community. I have been, actually, and it is good. When I have gone through the joys and sorrows of life, there isn't a big blogger response or outpouring of support. But the people in my real life? So supportive and good to me! I must make some notable exceptions (you know who you are!) of blog friends that reach out to me in "real life" ways, and you are primarily why I am unwilling to let this place go. I consider you part of my real life.

For the random reader who comes here, and likes what they read, I so welcome you. I love "meeting" new people, or reacquainting with those who I haven't heard from in a long time. But the purpose of this blog has entirely changed through the years. I was looking for a community seven years ago, and I found it. And like so much of life, things have changed, and my blogging has changed, and my purpose for blogging has changed.

Anyway, I intend to keep this up, trying for a weekly reflection post, and then adding in to various blog groups such as {pretty, funny, happy, real} at Like Mother, Like Daughter, or & Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary.

So anyway, that's where we are now. I am working on a post right now called, "Birth Story, pt. 2", which is the rest of the story, so to speak, and the effects of pregnancy and birth in the months following the physical fact. I have had ripples of "birth effect" after all nine of my births, and it is sort of like a dirty little secret. Especially since my births have been by the book, normal and fairly quick! Anyway, that post will be coming soon, and I am looking forward to finishing it.

I also have a post in the works about the difficulty and uniqueness of my life as a mom of 9 children, with all ages and stages. Talk about feeling pulled in all directions!!

So, hopefully this space will continue with a smaller quantity, but higher quality. Again, for daily connection, let's try to connect on Facebook. My email address is in the side bar, also.