Monday, December 26, 2011

A "P.C." Post Christmas Post!

Merry Christmas to all! 
To see the discoveries at our house this Christmas,
please read (and link to your friends and family)!

http://momsoffaith.com/2011/12/a-pc-post-christmas-post/

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wai-yai-yai-a-a-aiting!


http://momsoffaith.com/2011/12/waiting-for-christmas/ 
Today on Hott Flashes:  Waiting is so hard sometimes!  What is the hardest thing you've ever waited on?  How are your children handling the wait for Christmas?  Mine are NUTS!

Please share today's post.  My blog journal is  nearing 20,000 hits!  Can you believe it?  Hoping to get there before 2012.  Thanks so much for sharing these stories with me this year.  It is my hope that you find a small giggle or a grin as you hear about my crazy times here in the WV hills.  Merry Christmas to all!

love, a

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jesus' Birthday Censored!

http://momsoffaith.com/2011/12/jesus-birthday-censored/ 
Ooooooooh! 
We just got back from a lov-er-ly trip
Along the Milky Way
When the Hotts stopped off at Ron Jon's
To spend a holiday!

We spied on dear ole Santa Claus,
To see what we could see
I forgot to post my column
While in Florida, from me!

Hey blogger buddies!  We all went to Florida last week and stayed at our time share.  Had a great family vacation with all the kids; Caity even joined us from DC for fun in the sun! 

Here is my column from last week on Hott Flashes.  It is called "Jesus' Birthday Censored!"  Let me know what you think.  Here's the link:
http://momsoffaith.com/2011/12/jesus-birthday-censored/

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tree Traditions


http://momsoffaith.com/2011/12/tree-traditions/


Tell me your family's "Tree Traditions"...  Here's one from the Hott House published today on Moms of Faith.  Click the link above to see it. 

I am still looking for the pickle!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Deals, Deals, Deals!

For a FREE connection to the best deal EVer, click here: 
http://momsoffaith.com/2011/11/cyber-monday/



Today's column "Hott Flashes" on Moms of Faith is a free connection to the best deal EVer!  GOD!

For when all the racket of the holidays makes your head spin, remember the quiet voice seeking to share the best gift of all, Jesus!  Share it with all your friends!  http://momsoffaith.com/2011/11/cyber-monday/

Monday, November 21, 2011

Caught Me Kissin in the Pew!

http://momsoffaith.com/2011/11/heartfelt-thanks/

I'm still grinning over this week's column!  Some stories melt my heart...









...this one does!  So, Dan says I got the question wrong.  Pastor Andrew asked what  person most influenced our faith.  Something like that...which blesses me even more, if that's possible! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thankful?

http://momsoffaith.com/2011/11/thankful/

This is today's column on Hott Flashes.  My little addition to the Facebook "Thankful" challenge!  Hope to hear from you! 

Love, a

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Going Commando!

http://momsoffaith.com/2011/11/commando-levi/

This column is about our Levi
Who loves to pretend he's a spy
a ninja, a rock star, or Pikachu
This story I will tell you.

It's content, he has no clue
Yet every moment is true!
So please don't reveal my tale!
As a mom, I sometimes fail.

To remember every detail.
Has it happened to you?  Just maybe?...
But, how?  Oh, how could I forget
so essential an element?

The king of super silliness always keeps me smiling!  Please tell me YOUR kids have also gone to school commando!  PLEASE!  Check out "Hott Flashes" to see what I missed on a busy school day:  http://momsoffaith.com/2011/11/commando-levi/

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!

http://www.blogher.com/frame.php?url=http://oascentral.blogher.org/RealMedia/ads/adstream_jx.ads/blogher.org/Jobs_Oct11_Badge_1/@

Employing the Unemployable?  Okay.... so... try being diagnosed with a chronic illness like Parkinson's Disease and see how that can wreck a family's means of sustanibility about like a hurricane or steam train crashing into your life!

It is kinda like this:  One day, you're a mom raising your four children in an already busy world.  Your husband's career as an environmental engineer comes to a crashing halt when a neurologist tells him that he has a dibilitating illness:  Parkinson's Disease.  Couple this with a terrible economy, it is now unsafe for my 49 year old husband to continue his once lucrative business.

Well, not really "lucrative"... not like we were rich or anything; but we were paying our mortgage.  Then, one day, our friend "Parkinson's Disease" trips Dan while going up the stairs to our second floor bedroom.  Okay... so maybe we should move the house around and create a first floor bedroom with handicapped accesible facilities.

There goes the mortgage!  It was 2008.  No job, medical expenses, and a young family to raise. 

Over three years later, the PD is at bay with the help of lots of medication and I am back to work, part time with a disabled husband at home and kids in school. 

Last summer, I began blogging about my experience and how life has changed dramatically.  In order to help pay expenses, I started substitute teaching and took on an administrative part time job at the local arts council.  Recently, momsoffaith.com offered me a weekly column where I post about the crazy things our kids do and the little blessings that keep me going daily.

Because if not for that, this whole jobless junk would be, well...  I really don't know. 

What I do know is that prayer has gotten me through this mess and will continue to keep it bearable daily.  So, if a program like "Blogging Americans Back to Work" can help others, I'm all for it!

And that's my jobs, jobs, jobs story!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fright Aid

Dear rite aid.jpgRite Aid:


Please don't include this mom among the one in seven Americans purchasing Halloween merchandise at your establishment this season!  Sure, I understand that marketing your $7 billion in items from gory costumes to sugary treats generates business; but "Excuse me, can I tell you something?"  With me, "it's personal!"  Here's what happened to this All American average family when we entered "Fright Aid" this year.  Check it out!

http://momsoffaith.com/2011/10/fright-aid/

Sincerely,
Hott Mama

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Last First

 
 
"The Last First" is a story that published today on my column, Hott Flashes, over on Moms of Faith.
My limited computer skills seem to get me in trouble.  I can't seem to figure out how to rotate these pictures for you. Therefore, for those of you dear friends that occasionally check out my blog, I am including the actual photo of Levi's note to the tooth fairy!  Check it out!  Sorry it is sideways - but I do like the little white speck in the center.  What  you see is Levi's real tooth!  That little sucker was loose for days!
 
Yes, there it is!  This mommy's "last first" tooth episode!  Please click the link above to see more (I promise you will enjoy it) and share with your friends.  Tell me about your "Last First" -- we're all in this together!
 
Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice!
Proverbs 23:25



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hott Flashes Goes Weekly!

http://momsoffaith.com/about/columnists/

Check.It.Out!  Hott Flashes Goes Weekley starting THIS week!  (Guess that's better than a nightly "hott flash", right?)

Moms of Faith offered me a weekly columnist postion on their writers staff!  Can you believe it?????  Until now, I have been submitting stories to the editor and they have been publishing them.  Wellllll.... she sent me an email Sunday and said that they "adore" my column.  A columnist position became available, and I was the first writer she thought of!  Get this:  Moms of Faith will pay me to write!  I didn't even have to ask!  Okay.... could someone please pinch me?

It's not like it will make us rich or anything; but it is a little bit of unexpected income.  In fact, I have talked to Dan about donating it all to Parkinson's research.  We have decided to contribute it to our church for local mission projects and youth programs that will directly benefit the youth of Berkeley Springs (that was Dan's idea!  I like it!)  After all, my column "Hott Flashes" as well as my blog "Excuse me, can I tell you something?" are an extension of God's blessings through some crazy life situations.  God is providing our needs already; just like Dan's faith said He would when we got the crazy news that Dan had PD.

"Seek the Kingdomof God above all else, and live righteously,
and he will give you everything you need."  Matthew 6:33

To see my new bio, click this link.  I am directly under the editor.  Cool, hugh!?
http://momsoffaith.com/about/columnists/

As for the nightly hott flash thing....  that's a long way off for me.  I hope.  No time for that.  I've got writing to do!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Empty Bowls in Berkeley Springs!

Not for long!  Thanks to a group of mission-minded youths, visual artist Lynn Lavin, and a generous donation from the Seely Foundation in collaboration with the Morgan Arts Council, First UMC, and the WV Commission on the Arts!  "Empty" bowls will soon be "filled" with not only soup for the hungry but seasoned with a little thanksgiving and a lot of  hope on the top!

While a substitute teacher in Morgan County, I came across a number of students locally that need our help.  Did you know that several kids actually go home without a meal until they return to school the next day -- even over the weekend!!!  MAC's Ice House School of the Arts offers a class in hand built pottery where students will create bowls to be a part of Starting Points "Empty Bowls" project, a fundraiser which helps to feed our community -- and your neighbors! 
(See http://www.emptybowls.com/ for more information.)

Recently, I joined the Arts Council part time as the Art School Coordinator.  My busy "mom schedule" finds me all over town, including the soccer field.  It was here when soccer coach and Family Ministry Coordinator, Jenny Ellis, asked if Dan and I would be a part of her team to plan events that bring families together.  Nothing brings a family together more than dinner time over a hot meal, right?  So, from soccer balls to "Empty Bowls," students taking Hand Built Pottery this semester are learning the skills and craft of pottery creation while generating awareness of hunger issues both locally and worldwide as Ms. Ellis' includes "Empty Bowls" as part of a larger program to raise awareness across the globe!

As Thanksgiving season approaches, "Empty Bowls" will conclude with a final event scheduled in Berkeley Springs on November 18th.  We have asked the congregation at First UMC to "bless the bowls" prior to the event.  Pictured here is artist Lynn Lavin (of http://www.icehouseartistsco-op.com/lavin.htm) student Abby Wood:

With clay under finger nails and smiles on faces, students of "Empty Bowls" hope to warm the hearts -- and bellies -- of a fellow child in need.  Serving over 160 children in the rural community of Berkeley Springs, the Youth Art After School program continues to provide classes in visual arts, art and technology, performing, and dance.  Okay, so here's my plug:  Help send a kid to an art class!  Or, stop by and learn pottery - YOU can make a difference and make bowls too!  Sponsors for students as well as entire programs are needed! 


It's "art with a mission!" Here is my little girl Violet learning to make pinch pots, early instruction leading to bowls!   For more information, leave me a comment or call me at the Morgan Arts Council at 304-258-2300!

"For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'
Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? And the King will tell them, 'I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'" --Matthew 25:31-40 NLT



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Empty Nest


Sharing a new story called "Empty Nest" which was published this morning on Moms of Faith.  Just click on the link above and it will open to the page for you.  I am logging it to my blog so that I may include a picture of "moving day" to show you all!  Can you believe it?  A John Deere at the gas station!  (I thought a tractor used some special tractor gas???)

I am really curious to hear if there are any other moms or dads with an "Empty Nest" today...  or in the past.  Although our "nest" is far from "empty", sometimes the heart feels otherwise.  Whether it's that first day of preschool (right Ashley?); gymnastics classes; soccer games; or piano recitals, it just seems like a mom is always sending her children off on a one way journey away from home.  What was it like for you?  Any unusual "moving day" experiences?  I would love to here all about it!  And, I hope that you all find courage in "Empty Nests"!

Here are the Hotts final summer days!  What a crew!  Here is the link again to "Empty Nest" on Moms of Faith:  http://momsoffaith.com/columns/hott-flashes/empty-nest/

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

For Good!

"Ring...." 
Hummm... there's the phone.  Let's see, everyone's home to answer it.  It can wait.
"Ring, ring..."
Wait a second.  No one got it?  "Hey guys!  The phone is ringing.  Can someone get it?"
"Ring, ring, RING..."

Hold on!  Where IS everyone!  Gheeezh!  Can't I have one second to go to the bathroom, for crying out loud?!  Oh great!  As I am passing the remaining FIVE Hott family members on my way.to.the.phone!  Guess they were too busy watching Phineas and Ferb repeats to answer the phone.  That's alright.  "Rrrrring!"

"I got it!"  (Again!)

"HELLO!"  (a little too loud!)

"Hello.  This is the Kennedy Center.  We are calling for Angie Hott."

"Uhhhhh..Hello?" (a little less loud now) I answer, as always.  "Who is calling, please?  It sounded like you said the Kennedy Center."

"Well yes.  This is the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.  Is Angie Hott available?"

"This...is...she."  I think.  Why would THE Kennedy Center be calling ME?

"Yes, well, thank you Mrs. Hott.  We see here that you have reservations for tonight's performance of Wicked.  And, well, we are wondering if you may be available to help us out?"

"Who, me?  Yeah right... Wait!  How did you know that we have reservations for this evening?"  By now, I am wondering if the Kennedy Center saw my posts on Facebook or, even more startling, read my blog.  This is just too weird, isn't it.

"Well, by your reservations, of course."  was the reply.

I'm thinking, "oh... of course!"  as the kind individual on the other end continues.  "Mrs. Hott, we could really use your help.  You see, we heard that you are quite familiar with the lyrics to Wicked."  Oh my goodness, I am wondering  how they KNOW that?  It was like the time I called the fire hotline to tell them that Dan was about to burn brush and the operator on the other end knew we lived in a log house.  I actually looked up, inside the house, and asked her if she could see me.  (That's embarrassing, please don't tell anyone!) 

How, exactly, would the Kennedy Center know that I know all the words to Wicked?  Oh -my-gosh, maybe somehow, they could hear me?......  (Again, I look around the house.)

"According to your reservations, you will be arriving for the 7:30 performance tonight.  We are calling you to ask if you could do us a favor."

"A 'favor'..." I reply, wondering what 'favor' I could possibly do for the Kennedy Center. 

"Yes.  There has been some extenuating circumstances this evening.  The actress playing the part of Elphaba is suddenly unavailable.  Since you are familiar with her role, we are wondering if you would consider filling in for Elphaba."

"Me?"

"If you would consider it, we see here that your reservations are in Row D, Seat 29, we will be happy to leave her costume under your seat."

"DAN!  GET READY TO GO TO THE KENNEDY CENTER!  I'M PLAYING ELPHABA TONIGHT!"

Oh.my.gosh!  I was so excited.  "So, well, sure!  I guess I can do that.   We're on the way."  Hummm...  I do know most of the lyrics; I'll just "wing" the rest! 

And we were off!  Dan dropped me off at the Kennedy Center door.  After a quick kiss, I ran to my seat and found Elphaba's costume underneath as instructed.  Next, I found the Stage Manager down front and the make up artist proceeded to paint me green.  I can't believe this... I am really about to perform in a touring Broadway show; my all time favorite, none the less - Wicked!  Back stage, I can see the audience arriving in the beautiful Opera House.  There's Dan and Violet with Caity and Brian -- next to the only empty seat in the house, mine.

Sold out.  A sold out performance.  What have I gotten myself into?  Ooooooh, here it comes, it's almost my turn; I'm ready for this, all green, when I hear the cue for my entrance:  "Mommy... mommy..."

Wait a minute.  I don't remember those lines!  I.am.so.nervous!  "MOMMY!" 

"Can I sleep with you?"  What?  Levi?  What are YOU doing backstage?  You're supposed to be staying with Luke and Bridget.  Hugh?  "Mommeeeeeeee!" 

OH!  That's when.....

..... I woke up.  Well, sorta-kinda!  Hugh?  What day is this?  August 4, 2011.  Sounds familiar?  We're supposed to go somewhere today...  Sure Levi.  Come on up in bed with us.  Wow... what was that?  Me... Elphaba... Wicked! 

It turned out, indeed, to be our adventure to the Kennedy Center!  This year, we took Violet to her first professional performance; celebrated Caity and Brian's college graduation; and, for the second year, saw my favorite show, Wicked, on my birthday!  (see post http://excusemecanitellyousomething.blogspot.com/2010/08/just-returning-from-emerald-city.html )

As it turns out, I was unavailable to perform Elphaba that night.  They managed just fine without me, even though Dan told me I did have the nose to play the Wicked Witch.  The usher only had to ask me twice to stop singing in the audience.  Here we are!


You see, I was busy.  I still have lines to learn and I am certainly never the star; but, I had already accepted a better role  --  it's called "Mom" ! 
Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her.
Proverbs 31:28




Friday, August 5, 2011

Busted!

http://momsoffaith.com/columns/hott-flashes/busted/
Please check out the story published yesterday on my column "Hott Flashes". 
Ever need a little help in the "Tooth Fairy" department?  I sure do!  Enjoy and let me know what you think!.....

Click here (or above) to link to Moms of Faith:
http://momsoffaith.com/columns/hott-flashes/busted/

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hott Family Finishes 5K and Kicks PD's Butt!

Well, from the title of this post, you can see that the Hott Family finished, for the first time ever, an entirely NEW adventure.  Some families may go to a ball game, the beach, or amusement park; we entered a 5K race at the Morgan County Fair!... without a stitch of training, but with a load of heart and soul the size of a 50K and, I should mention, some well timed levodopa for Dan.  The "leader of the Hott Pack", Dan, has Parkinson's Disease, an incurable neurological disorder of the brain which severely impairs movement.  Six months ago, Dan could not walk across the room much less stand up at times.  Saturday, July 23rd, Dan finished the 5K in about 45 minutes! 

Let me hear you all say "WooHoo!"  Oh yeah!  Little louder now!  "WooHoo!"  Here we all are at the end of the race:

Notice the trophy?  (cough, cough)  Pretty cool, hugh?  I was awarded this prize for the best time for a mom runner with freckles and grey hair! How cool is that?  (Shhhh... I actually stole this bronze award from a strapping first place teen athlete that finished in record time.  That's why I am looking to the right, scoping for it's rightful owner.  Just after the picture was snapped, he spotted me.  Let me tell you this... I gave him a run for his money!  He had to chase me halfway through the park!  I gave it back... eventually.) 

Also from the title of the post, one could assume that the Hott family ALL "finished" the 5K, right?  Well.... let's just call this our little secret and I'll fill you in about how the "others" did! 

To begin with, I am also so proud of the Hott Sisters!  They managed to steal the show in record time:  just about one hour.  And to their credit, Caity and Violet actually ran something more along the lines of an 8K.  Seriously!  The girls had to run or walk double with their brothers.  One would alternate and speed forward then insist on being delivered back to mom, me, bringing up the rear -- of the entire 5K!

It wasn't so bad, really!  The scenery was beautiful on a lovely Saturday morning.  Unfortunately, I managed to start my very first ever 5K in a fit of giggles.  No wonder all the boys, Dan, Isaac, and Levi, kicked it in high gear and took off, leaping ahead of me like a horse in the Kentucky Derby when the gun was fired.  You see, leave it to the Hott Family to arrive last.  Yes, I said l.a.s.t.  To my defense, each participant had to register for the race over a mile from the the entrance and then walk back to the race's start location.

I wasn't about to add another mile to MY 5K!  Heck... at that time, I wasn't sure I was even going to make it one K.  So, to the embarrassment of my entire family, I managed to hitch a ride for us all on the back of a stranger's pick up truck.  You never know till you ask, right?  So this guy just happened to be parked there and I asked him if he would drive us all over to the beginning of the race.  Little did I know that his lady friend, sitting under a tree, yelled over "Oh go ahead and give them a lift!  That's Ida Lea's niece, Angie!"

What?  Just who the heck is that and how do they know my Aunt Ida Lea?  She's been dead for a decade!  So, I engage in a conversation on the McBee family tree.  How easily did I forget that we were all  entered in a 5K race which was about to start any second.  After rambling on and on about Aunt Marion and Uncle Junior, Dan grabs me around the race and just throws me in the back of the truck.  The kids just pretended not to know me, already realizing after the conversation that we were ALL related! 

So, off we go to find the beginning of this 5K!  After giving the wrong directions, we drive up another road and literally run head first in to the beginning of the race.  Nervous, I do the only thing that comes naturally,... I giggle.  Suddenly, I am attacked with a rage of uncontrollable giggles!  Not only that, what are we supposed to do now?  Those "real" athletes are no way letting us in at the beginning of the line.  Then I hear from somewhere in the middle of the crowd of racers, "Hey!  It's the Hott Family"

Who said that?  Now I am really getting nervous.  Should I not have gotten us all in to this?  Turns out, in the middle of the racers, is another mom and neighbor friend of mine:  Creama Shetler!  See, here they are:

Next, all six of us manage to find a spot, in the back, and in no less than two seconds, the Park Superintendent says, "GO!" 

And we're off! 

And I still have the giggles!  It's no wonder the boys dart ahead as fast as they can.  I can't even get close to them; six year old Levi included!  It is ten seconds in to the race and I am dead last.  Somewhere ahead of me, I can see Dan and our boys!  The more I giggle, the faster they run... hummmm!  There's something fishy here! 

As I run (and giggle), Caity slows down to catch me.  Between the giggles and my bouncing breasts, I am sure I am no way going to make this 5K.  I realized that I made a HUGE mistake in planning (or lack of planning) for this race.  How in the world do people run with bouncing boobs?  It's terrible!  I am running and having this conversation with Caity (just a little too loud) and she says, "Well, mom... that's what sports bras are for!"  Hummm... didn't think of that!

Duh.... she's the one with the MBA, right?

So, on we go... giggling and bouncing our way through the park in our first 5K!  I still have my eyes on the boys.  Yes,...  there they are!  I see them.  Dan running with both Levi and Isaac at his heals.  For a moment, I finally stop giggling.  That's it!  That's the picture I will always remember about this 5K!  Dan with the boys at his heels; every now and then Dan bends down to listen to Levi because, I am sure, our Levi is talking his ear off the entire time.  Sure enough, he is!  Then Isaac, only 7 but wise way beyond his years, insists on holding Dan's hand while he tries to run.  It's hard enough to run when one is healthy, right?  Now, try it with Parkinson's, two boys, and the uncertainty of future physical capabilities.  And you know what?  I could care less if any one of us finishes at that moment.  Because right now, this very second, we all won. 

Here is the picture that stinking ole Parkinson's saw:

Our backsides!  "Eat Our Dust Parkinson's Disease!"  WooHoo!


Needless to say, along about the 2.5K mark of our journey, little Levi and Isaac were well spent.  After all, it was about a 90 degree morning.  We had managed to pass our first water break which lead us by the parking lot.  Finding our car, we stopped to coat with bug spray and the complaints were pouring.  Dan was heading up the mountain.  Isaac, however, had a different idea.

"Hey Levi!  There's the Nature Center!  Guess what's in there?!  A timber rattlesnake!"  Levi's response was, "COOL!"  (Typical boy, right?)  So, I was bombarded with pleas to just stop in and see the snakes; we were standing right in front of the building after all, mom, pleeeeeeeease!

Looking at my boys, I knew they were too pooped to go any further!  And feeling the safest thing to do was take a break, I said "sure!"  After all, we were already winners, right?!

At this point, I would do anything to stop running too, even if I had to look at a rattlesnake, copperhead, and animal carcasses.  Eeewe, right?  But the boys thought it was the coolest thing ever.  and guess what, the Nature Center was air conditioned!  So as Dan, Caity, and Violet headed up the mountain to finish the 5K in the heat, we chilled out in the presence of a few snakes.  Hopefully, they won't tell.  And after a while, the boys were refreshed and we returned to report our "absence" and watch Dan and the girls cross the finish line.  Following our little "confession", the race coordinators gave the boys medals for being the youngest to enter and completing 2.5K.  Check it out:  

The Hott Family "Finishes" 5K, Kicks Parkinson's Butt and... we're ALL winners!

"Now thanks be unto God,
which always causeth us to triumph in Christ!"
2 Cor. 2:14

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Eat Our Dust Parkinson's Disease!

Have you ever had the crazy idea to do something entirely different?  Something you have never, EVer done before?  Something completely new and unattempted? And then,... sign up your entire family to join you?

In just two days, (July 23, 2011), all six Hotts will run in the Morgan County Fair's 5K Family "Fun Run". 

A few months ago, I ran across an entry form in the local library and considered the possibility of entering us in the 5K.  Now, I am FAR from any sort of marathon runner,  much less even very athletic for that matter (stop laughing Dan).  So, I can not imagine what has possessed me to attempt to run (or walk) a 5K, with other people that run, with others that run often, much less with our six and seven year old Hott sons!  I don't even know how far a 5K is, which I think the K means kilos or something like that.  Why can't they just say it in miles?  Can someone please tell me this?  It certainly isn't about the free t-shirt, that's for darn sure!

But here's the deal.  In the upper corner of the entry form, it claims that the entry fee (only $25) goes to support research for Alzheimer's Disease.  Hummm... this got me thinking.  Alzheimer's.   Another neurological disorder. 

Parkinson's Disease is a degenerative neurological disorder of the central nervous system with no cure. It results from the death of dopamine-containing cells in the substantia nigra, a region of the midbrain; the cause of cell-death is unknown. Early in the course of the disease, the most obvious symptoms are movement-related, including shaking, rigidity, stiffness, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait.

Dan, my husband, has Parkinson's Disease.

Most of this stinking disease really sucks, pardon my frankness, but.it.does!  And believe me, it can be scary.  Especially when, just this past January, Dan was having difficulty with walking.  The distonia was so severe, that he was unable to walk without a stoop of an advanced PD patient.  For several weeks, simply standing was an issue; his left leg cramped so badly that he was shorter than my 5 foot vertically challenged self (see http://excusemecanitellyousomething.blogspot.com/2011/01/standing-tall.html).  Dan spent days rolling around the house in an office chair.  One day when I had a substitute teaching assignment, Dan's left leg cramped so badly, he was stuck on the bathroom floor and remained there most of the afternoon.  Yes, PD sucks, plain - and -simple. 
Since those difficult days this past winter, Dan has seen a leading neurologist, Dr. Paul Fishman with the University of Maryland and Veteran's Administration.  Immediately, he recognized that Dan was seriously undermedicated.  Since then, they have doubled Dan's medication and with physical therapy (this is where I come in), Dan is back to his normal height!  See here how tall he is!

Now imagine this:  a 5K... Although I really wanted to do this as a family, I was not so sure of Dan's impression of going out there at all.  But I was pretty eager to; and eventually, Dan sorta said "well, whatever."  Taking this for agreement, I was victorious and proceeded to jump around the kitchen a few times and added:  "In 'yo face Parkinson's Disease!  Just watch the Hott Family do a 5K!!!"  Woo Hoo!!!  Come on everyone, let's start training!  I mailed in the registration form.  We had about 2 weeks.

So, just the other day, Dan said he had a question for me he was wondering about.  Naturally, this peaked my curiosity.  Added in the subsequent sentence, Dan, whom I have known since 1995 then says that he was wondering if I would mind him doing something! 

Me!?  Mind?  Hummmmm....  Doing something?  I'm thinking, "like what?"  Sky diving?  Last time he asked me something like that he broke his ankle.  Then there are those "other" things I won't mention (LOL!  just kidding!) ... So, what in the world could he be referring to?  Then Dan said,...

"Well, I was wondering if you would mind if I RAN (instead of walk) the 5K?"

Oh yeah!  That's what I'm talking about!  "Eat Our Dust Parkinson's Disease!" 

See you at the finish line, honey... it may be four hours later, at least for me and the boys!  But Dan will be there waiting for us!  All thanks to answered prayers, praise God!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12




Friday, July 8, 2011

When Kids Grow Up Too Fast

I know, I know... you're probably wondering, "What?"  Which foot is 11 and which is 45???  Can you tell?  Exactly!  Can someone please tell me when my baby girl got so tall?  Have you ever turned around and your kid grew several sizes?  Find out how this happened to me just last week in my column "Hott Flashes" here:
http://momsoffaith.com/columns/hott-flashes/when-kids-grow-up-too-fast/

Tell me if this has ever happened to you!  (I hope it has!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

From Russia, with Love; No Matter What

It happens every year just about this time; not long after school lets out, usually the third week of June. It is always the same time of day; every morning from 8:45 a.m. It always lasts from Monday through Friday. It occurs in several locations, actually. However, for the past twelve years, (yes, I said TWELVE years), it has been at the same very special location for the Hott family. And, it has been here for the past 12 years that I have had the privilege and honor to be the “Drama Mama” in Vacation Bible School, or “VBS!”

Do you remember those days? This time of year, one can see signs in towns all over the country -- invitations for children to go to Vacation Bible School. Parents will be hauling kids off for a week that somewhat represents a “Bible Day Camp”. Now, I must tell you that the majority of my 45 years have found me involved with a VBS in some capacity, be it child participating, a parent, to a volunteer helping with everything from Crews Leader, crafts, snacks, to story telling. So, I have reserved a week, sometimes more, to a VBS; let’s just say that it is something that I grew up with and has also become a summertime feature for my wee Hott ones as well.

So, why? Why, since I have been involved in the tradition of VBS year after year, this year – PandaMANIA VBS 2011! – has taken on an entirely different significance? Why is this VBS any different than the rest? I’ll try to explain.

I must tell you all, and please don’t tell Pastor Andrew, that I feel a bit guilty about having so much fun doing VBS at First Church. Honestly, somewhere or somehow it is surely looked upon unfavorably for not just me but all these kids to be allowed to get this crazy in church. Seriously! For some reason, the Children’s Coordinator, Ms. Sarah, allows me to dress up in just about anything to tell kids, yes… to tell kids stories in the Bible!

And the kids! Oh the kids! I wish you could see the faces of these kids as they line up outside the door, waiting to enter the Bible Adventure Room. Eyes wide and gigantic grins; one would think that they were waiting in line at an amusement park to ride a world famous roller coaster! The anticipation is SO great; you might wonder if a popular Disney star like Selena Gomez or Justin Bieber was inside! Excitement levels are so high… Is it tickets to the final Harry Potter movie? Or could it be a performance from their favorite gymnast, Shawn Johnson, or a football star, Pat Manning?

No. It’s none of those. It’s not even the Disney channel, Nickelodeon, or Cartoon Network. It’s just me and Pastor Andrew. And we’re here to share stories in the Bible.

And it’s not just Biblical history and the stories we all grow up with. You know what else it is? Not every child will grow up with these stories and hear them in the way that First Church allows them to be shared. More than the stories about Noah, Peter, Jonah, Hannah, Sarah and Abraham…; it is my honor to let each and every child know that they are loved no matter what. Today, I realize this simple thing more than ever!

They are loved by all the people at the church, their families, friends,... and by God! God made them each special. Each one. And no matter what utterly crazy thing happens in the world, God loves them.

No matter what.

And today, I realized something? After 12 years, I have seen hundreds of kids grow through the entire elementary program, graduate, and move on to college. I have watched them accept Jesus and celebrate these precious decisions. I have partied and played until my back aches (especially after today’s hiding from the Roman guards). Year after year, I watched many VBS children listen to the invitation and tell kids about eternity with Jesus.

Today, I realized what a blessing this is.

Because at this year’s VBS, a certain bundle of energy and enthusiasm was missed. You see, over the weekend, a terrible handgun accident took the life of a boy just thirteen, Andrew Arthur Butler. Born in the Ukraine (actually not Russia!), Andrew came to our church just a little boy. He attended VBS regularly and was always a part of our holiday dramas. Our VBS felt the absence of him and his family as they attempt to recover from this shocking event.

My heart aches as I think and try to remember the many times Andrew came through the Bible Adventure Room at VBS. I rack my brain and try to remember: Did I personally tell Andrew he was special and loved by God no matter what; Did I show him God’s amazing gift, Jesus; or, Did I take a moment to hug Andrew, for what I didn’t know was one last time?….

For the blessing is that simple: Each time God honors me with the privilege of a child, another child in the Bible adventure room, it could be their last time. Their last time to hear a Bible adventure story; their last time to be told God loves them, their last time to get a hug from the goofy “drama mama” at VBS. This year in the Bible story room, I have been extra conscious of a very important message: to be sure that each and every child knows that God created them unique and God loves them.

No matter what.


"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life." - John 3:16







Wednesday, June 8, 2011

5:31 P.M.!


Introducing Isaac, our resident weather watcher!  Please enjoy today's story called "5:31 P.M.!" published today on Moms of Faith!  The episode in this story reminds me to not waste time thanking our dear God for his many blessings!
love, a
Here's the link:
http://momsoffaith.com/columns/hott-flashes/531-p-m/

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mama Misunderstood

Well, if you are wondering why I am sitting here covered in mud, it's because I have taken a few blows over the past couple days here in the blogosphere.  All in the spirit of "friendly banter" according to Circle of Moms, coming from my kitchen, the mud slinging in my direction is far from friendly.

But you know what?  That's okay.  Chalk it up to my inexperience in this entire blogging world.  What I once felt was a safe medium to simply share stories of how God has blessed my family, I've learned that just because you compose something here online doesn't mean you will be completely understood.  After all, these are only words.  As much as I try to attempt to give a picture of my personality, the reader sitting on the other side of my lap top, never personally meeting me or really knowing anything about my character or background, can draw any conclusion they choose.  This is a tough lesson learned.

Very much a "Polly Anna", my naivety often gets me in trouble.  Conflict is not something I enjoy.  In my excitement in discovering some interesting sites (including contact from really popular moms), my eagerness to respond and be involved was completely mistaken as "backhanded compliments".  I am embarrassed to say that I had to look that up, so please don't tell anyone. 

Quickly, my comments were mistaken, words were twisted, and I was being verbally attacked with not only name calling but also spiteful religous persecution violating my civil rights.  So, you know what?  In the words of Taylor Swift, "why do you gotta be so mean?" 

It was my mistake thinking I could be a part of this crazy Top 25 thing, competing with nationally recognized sites among experienced bloggers.  Please don't stop by my site to harass me and throw more mud my way.  In the meantime, I will continue to visit and admire the creativity and construction of other blog sites.  We don't need to agree on everything, but we should at least be civil.  And whether you believe me or not, I once thought this was a medium to meet other moms and make new friends online.  Now, it doesn't feel like such a safe place to do that anymore.  How ironic is it, that of all places, a contest called the Top 25 Faith Mom Blogs would have so many willing to be blatantly unkind.

"But I say to you, love and bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you..." 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Faith Blogs by Moms




Hi All!
Here's a cool link to see lots of really awesome faith mom bloggers!  When you click the button above, several blogs come up!  This is a contest to select the top 25 "faith mom bloggers" and also a great way to meet and share awesome "God stories"! 
 
So, if you like "Excuse me, can I tell you something?", I am entered (can you believe it?)!  Here's something even crazier, today my blog, my collection of little stories about God and the Hott Family, hit over 10,000 pageviews, or "hits"!  God's good news gets around, doesn't it.  Please consider voting and forwarding this post to others.  You can vote every day up until June 8th!  So, tell your friends!  Thanks for your time, and mostly, thanks for listening to how God has often says to us:  "Excuse me, can I tell you something?"
 
love, love, love,
a
 
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.  Isaiah 40:31

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dear Mom:

In the fall of 1984, I walked in to the dark sorority room of Holloway Hall on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College.  I was barely 19 years old and I was about to pledge the sisterhood of a group of girls:  Zeta Tau Alpha.  In a dimly lit ceremony, I joined a group of young women for what turned out to be too short a time.

Little did I know then, that nearly 28 years later I would be standing in the exact same room, once again lit only by candles, preparing for yet another sorority ceremony.  This time, our baby girl - just barely 21 years old and only moments after receiving her hood, MBA, and BS degrees (magma cum laude), would present me with the Zeta Mother's Pin and...  the following letter:

"Mom,

People always ask me, "Is that your mom?!" 

I have come to get used to this question.  Whether you are dressed in a crazy costume for the kids at church, e-mailing your blog to all my friends, or telling the President (of Wesleyan College) my life story -- your energy and positive attitude always bring people together -- and leave them wondering who you belong to!

I don't mean to make it sound so terrible!  I am always proud to say, "That's my mom."  When you amaze all those who know you with your strength and grace when faced with life's hardest struggles.  I would like to tell you that I am proud to be your daughter; I am proud you are my mom.

Graduation has made me think about what I want to do and who I want to be in this new life.  I want to be just like my mom.  I admire so much your approach to adversity with a strong trust in God and confidence; I admire how your writing is an inspiration and blessing to everyone.  I have always looked up to you, and today - like any other day, I am proud to be your daughter!"

You know what...  I realize that I am not the most organized mom around; I normally carry a 100 lb bag full of snacks, books, DS games, toys, crayons, etc; I probably should have had my hair cut months ago (at least colored, right?); if given a choice, I would eat chocolate all day; I tend to laugh a jokes a little late... and loud; and my clothes are mostly Caity's hand-me-downs. 

But hey...  this day, Caity's college graduation AND Mother's Day, well... (sniffle, sniffle)...  well, you know what I mean,... right?


".....28Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."  Proverbs 31

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kicked in the Head!

http://momsoffaith.com/columns/hott-flashes/kicked-in-the-head/

Please check out today's story which was posted in "Hott Flashes" on Moms of Faith!  Let me know what you think!  Tell me, do you ever find yourself awake in the wee hours of the morning? 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Cane in the Corner

I have been thinking about this post since Valentine's Day.  When I saw Uncle Phil at Grandma Violet's just this Sunday, he reminded me that I hadn't posted an update on Dan's condition.  This story is a follow-up to "Standing Tall" and was published today on Moms of Faith.  (momsoffaith.com)

We personally want to thank each and every one of you for your prayers and words of encouragement.  May you all know that "The Cane in the Corner" is there when you need it.  Please read and share this link with others!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Column -- Hott Flashes

Moms of Faith (momsoffaith.com) published an article yesterday.  It is called "Not Just Another Birthday Party!"  I have been a sub for a teacher this week and just getting around to seeing it myself. 

This story makes me wonder... What is your favorite birthday party memory?  Tell me about it! 

Here is the link to the magazine:
http://momsoffaith.com/columns/hott-flashes/not-just-another-birthday-party/

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fashion Show Birthday

Caity created this video for Violet for her 11th birthday party. Let me tell you how this all came about: nearly a month ago, I was on the phone with Aunt Tammy (in Philly) and we were chatting about the birthday season. You see, Caity turned 21 on Jan 17th; followed by Levi turning 6 on Feb. 5th; and finally, Violet's birthday was Feb. 18th when she turned 11. (Isaac is the only one to have his fall birthday alone -- Oct. 25th). Here at the Hott House, we find any reason we can for a celebration! Dan often remembers the 3 day weekend celebration when Caity turned 10! It was a pool party at an inside place, of course. We've had lots of fun with the kids, everything from Spider Man, Hannah Montana, to Percy Jackson, or just plain Jump Rope parties.

I guess you could say, Aunt Tammy and I were reminiscing about the kids being little and all the fun. Violet wanted to go tubing at Whitetail, which is WAY to expensive! Once, Tammy took us all to the hair salon at JC Penny's for Crystal's 5th birthday many years ago. (Crystal will turn 21 this year.) Violet mentioned, just in passing, how much fun it would be if Aunt Tammy could come from Philly and do fancy "do's" for her birthday.

Well, I was telling Tammy about this and she said.... "Let's do it!" Violet was so excited! And you know what, it was just the thing after the long winter days, nasty weather, and just plain "stuff". First, Caity arrived from college on Friday evening for a birthday dinner with Violet. Later, Ashley arrived early Saturday and was followed by Tammy and Crystal later in the day. Aunt Cindy joined us and we were ready for a

"PAR-TAY!"

Tammy transformed our basement to Madame Fleur's Hair Salon with make-up artist, "Ginger Snap"! (That was Ashley.) "Coconut-Caity" was the manicurist (but refused to touch anyone's feet)! And Crystal was our honorary emcee as "Betty Bop Lolli-pop"!

Much to Violet's dismay, her brothers (organized by Brandon) were the judges for the day: Stephen Tyler/Simon (Isaac) and Hubba Hubba (Levi). Nathaniel was also renamed "Lil Pop"!

There was creativity spilling out the logged cracked Hott House, that's for sure! The girls went all out and mixed their own CD music for the Fashion Show. The transformation in the basement included a fashion show runway, complete with red carpet lined with colorful balloons. Sparkling beads were hung at one end with a make-shift red stage at the other dazzling in individual "stars" for each of the party guests and karaoke mic for the emcee Betty Bop Lolli-pop!

The excitement mounted as the day quickly passed with girls getting hair, nails, and make-up done. Some of my favorite comments were: "Wow! We're gonna look 15!" (insert squeal!) "I look so grown up!" (insert squeals and giggles!) "This the first time I ever played with make-up!" (insert squeals, more giggles, and maybe some fainting!)

Then, each selected a dress to "model" for us as they walked down our runway. Dresses were fun too! We pulled out all of Caity's old prom dresses and even her fancy cocktail dresses from Zeta events. Even more adorable ensembles were added later by "Cousin Kendall", who joined the fashion show and decided to stay for the sleepover!

So, without further adieu, I hope you enjoy this video! And may it hold a precious memory in your heart as we watch our "babies" grow in to beautiful young ladies right before our eyes.  




Thanks Aunt Tammy... and another "thank you" to all the moms and dads for allowing us to borrow these precious little girls for a day to play dress up, maybe, for one last time.  Because before you know it, they'll be 21 like Caity, Crystal, and Ashley... all at the blink of an eye!  Hoping they all had fun,

love, a
Princess Violet Eve Hott, 11 years old


Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Hott Flash!

How crazy is this!  Moms of Faith published an article just this morning.  I submitted this story early yesterday just before Dan and I left to go to his first appointment for physical therapy at the VA.  While there, I opened the "Picket News" to a story called "Remember Who's Carrying You".  (shiver)  Here is today's Hott Flash:
http://momsoffaith.com/columns/hott-flashes/make-mine-another-double-shot-please/

In the article, I mention a song I heard on the radio.  I found it on youtube.  Thought I would include it here to "carry you" in your times of need.  Maybe you, too, are going through some rough roads and will be inspired to know that when you least expect it, God will carry you!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75YZ8ByHSrM&feature=fvw

Monday, February 7, 2011

HOTT FLASHES!!!

It's official!!!...  I'm a COLUMNIST!!

Today, my first article posted on Moms of Faith as an official columnist!  The name of my column is "Hott Flashes!"  Like it???  I hope so, we had some fun on facebook coming up with a name and many seemed to like Hott Flashes!  I was glad that the editor also agreed!   And thank you Bob Goodman from Chicago!  You had the best suggestion and there it is!  Now, when one clicks the "columns" button on the online magazine, "Hott Flashes" comes up.  And it's me!  How cool, or "hott" is that????

So, please check it out and leave comments.  My first story as a columnist is called "Chocolates ARE Medicinal!"  Although I am not allowed to post it on my blog, I can direct you to its' link:

http://momsoffaith.com/category/columns/hott-flashes/

LOL!  "Chocolates ARE Medicinal" is an testament to God's awesome response to my last blog post here on Excuse me, Can I Tell You Something?  The article is called "Standing Tall"!  Over 400 people have read "Standing Tall" thanks to all of you!  I don't know if I even know that many people.  But guess what happened, people prayed across the country for my HottHubby Dan and he is improving.  Parkinson's Disease still sucks (sorry Andrew); but the prayers are being heard -- praise God!

For an update, Dan is scheduled for physical therapy through the Veteran's Administration this week.  Also, he has an upcoming appointment with a neurologist at the Baltimore VA, Dr. Paul Fishman, whom we hear is involved with neurological movement issues.

 “I call on the Lord in my distress, and He answers me!” Psalms 120:1



Sunday, January 23, 2011

STANDING TALL

June 22, 2008
A beautiful sunny Sunday morning in Berkeley Springs just over 2 and ½ years ago found Dan and I standing in front of a congregation of approximately 200 people. As we began our walk down the aisle, we were about to renew our marriage vows, this time standing in front of large crowd, with several other couples standing next to us, all standing in front of God, our Heavenly Father. Pastor Andrew, in his typical “non” typical service, had invited couples to stand before the church and get married! I was soooo excited… especially about the honeymoon to follow!

Here’s the thing. Dan and I were already married; and, well… so was everyone else. You see, 12 years earlier, we actually secretly eloped and were married at the Court House on Christmas Eve, 1996. I’ll never forget my 6 foot tall hunk-honey of a husband-to-be… standing tall… next to me. He was every inch solid as a rock; my engineer; my problem solver; my fearless protector with farm-boy arms of steel, a chest as broad as Texas, and the cutest butt you ever did see! At barely 5 feet and 100 pounds, I was the luckiest girl ever. I still tingle every time Dan leans way down to kiss me, especially now as we just completed our wedding vows.

To be standing with Dan, 12 years later, at an alter in front of God and all the congregation was the sweetest thing ever, especially as he bent way down to kiss me, again. After spending 14 years together, as a family we had traveled together, built a house together, owned/operated a consulting engineering firm together, and increased our family to six together. Our lives were, well… perfect. We cherished each other and the lives we had created. Dan treasured me with abundant blessings and I was privileged to be Mrs. Daniel Hott.

I always feel truly blessed when I think about that day standing at the alter with my husband, Dan. You see, it was not even a month earlier that a neurologist gave us the news. Dan had Parkinson’s Disease. On this particular day, the second time we got married, Dan was almost a month into a dopamine study to confirm this diagnosis. He had been taking something called levadopa to see if his symptoms improved. Although his rigidity improved, as we renewed our vows, I held tight to a tremoring hand.

God had blessed us with so many things, including the surprise of babies, had he also blessed us with Parkinson’s Disease?
“To have and to hold, from this day forward,
for better, for worse, for richer,for poorer
in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

Since Parkinson’s Disease moved in with us in 2008, Dan has generally had limited physical progression of the disease. He has been able to find benefit from his meds, constantly tweeking and learning as the stinking symptoms creep up on him. Overall, one would say that he is managing the physical demands. Everyone even raves at how well Dan looks, standing at six feet with just a tiny drag to the left side of his body!

Until January 2011. Parkinson’s Disease has decided to rear it’s ugly head.

Starting with back pain nearly a month ago, Dan’s rigidity and distonia is now so severe that he has spent nearly two weeks incapacitated. Initially, he thought that perhaps he had sustained an injury that caused some sort of fracture or break in his hip. A very painful xray showed otherwise; a spine and hip that “looked good,” according to the Emergency Room doctor. We have since learned that early signs of Parkinson’s can include back pain or problems with the “L5” disc.

The distonia in Dan’s left leg has crippled him for several days now. The rigidity in his muscles are cramped so tightly that his entire left leg draws completely up to the point where it is bent. He is experiencing tingling and numbness in his extremities on his left side. From what I had anticipated with Parkinson’s, this degree of degeneration was not expected to happen until years down the road! At least it was supposed to wait for the kids to be grown ups. Instead, Parkinson’s has stolen Dan’s ability to do the simplest things, like walk and, well,… even stand.

Is this hard? You better believe it is! For the first time ever, I am the tallest Hott in the house! Do I like it? Well… no, not.at.all. I find it sometimes unbearable to “stand tall” and allow God to be in control of this crazy illness called Parkinson’s Disease, whatever it is. In Andrew’s sermon last week, he had to go on and on about the stories of Daniel in the Bible. Really now. Tell me God wasn’t reminding me that He will truly get us through this. .

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.
We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.
We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.
We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.” - 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Although having to watch something like Parkinson’s literally knock down my Hott-honey-husband, we are still blessed every day. Parkinson’s Disease wouldn’t stop me from walking down the aisle with Dan again. He may not be standing at six feet because of stupid Parkinson’s Disease ever again, for all we know right now, and I may have to push him in a chair; but, you know what? I would still be privileged to recite those same marriage vows.

And that kiss would still tingle!

“Blessed is the man... who does not walk.” Psalm 1:1

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'M PREGNANT?!

A 21st Birthday Post for Caity!

Moms of Faith published this story today!!!... just a little early for Caity's 21st birthday.  Check it out here:
http://momsoffaith.com/blog/guest-blogger/im-pregnant/

Send my link and share with your friends and family... well, and just about anyone that knows Caity!  Since we will miss her for her birthday celebration this year, I thought I would share a picture... or two!  Violet and Caity!Easter, 2010!Happy Birthday!