Sunday, April 26, 2015

Healthy Changes- follow up

So it's been about 3 weeks since I started on a slow journey to get healthy. I've started with adding in one new challenge each week- all of them relatively small changes but I hope by making small changes, eventually they will add up to big changes. Doing these small things helps me to feel more in control and able to follow through.  In the past when I would take on a "diet" mentality, it required me to change so many things at once that I don't think I could sustain it long term ( and obviously didn't), which just puts you on the yo-yo path. I would love to report that all though it's been only 3 weeks doing simple things that I've lost 10 lbs. or something, but it's just not true.  The first week I was down a little, the 2nd week up higher than my initial starting weight and tomorrow will be the weigh in for this week- my weight tends to fluctuate, but if it stays where it was yesterday that would probably put me back down to about what I was the first week where I had lost a smidge. Here's a review of the goals and how they are going.

Week 1- Ditch artificially or sugar sweetened sodas and flavored waters, start drinking 9 cups of water a day. I just felt this was an overall healthy goal and also not too much of a stretch.  Only in the past few years had I really started drinking more and more artificially sweetened sodas and such on a more regular basis. I still occasionally want that sweet taste, but I don't buy it , so it's not here. My youngest daughter has also started drinking milk more often than a soda, so that is good too, I think.  It is mostly when we are out or travelling that I think I will have to consciously think more about this- for example when we are on a long drive it would be normal for us to stop and get sodas at the gas station- and I always didn't want to buy a water bottle because it seemed silly- water was free, so instead I would usually get a diet soda.  So sometimes yes, my body feels heavy and full of water, and there are days I spend more time in the bathroom than I would like, but my nails are also nice and shiny and I feel like this is just a healthy, natural goal.

Week2- Limit eating sweets to only one time a day.  It's a little embarrassing that this even had to be a goal, but it did. I would often eat something sweet multiple times during the day, especially on stressful days.  It didn't have to be much, a handful of chocolate chips here, a cookie there, but it may be several times a day. Sweets were definitely a coping strategy. Doing this goal has made me insightful.  This is what I have found- I CAN control my sugar cravings and not give in, I like to often save my "sweet" for the end of the day, it has made me more aware and deliberate in my food choices. However, this is still an area of struggle for me. I find that when I do decide it is my time of the day to eat sweets, remember I never said only 1 sweet, only 1 time a day, I find that I eat more than I may be satisfied with, I feel I have to get all I could possibly want, or maybe I'll order a small blizzard instead of the mini one, just because I can.  I'm still working on this- breaking the power sweets have over me, it's a process, and knowing is half the battle right? However, I do see new thought patterns emerging- for example yesterday I was at a church function and they served lunch with dessert available. It looked delicious and normally I would have had some without a thought, but I knew that that night was Jayna's piano recital and that we would most likely be going out to Dairy Queen afterwards, so although it was hard and a very conscious decision, I was able to choose to skip the dessert because I knew we would be having something later and that is where I wanted to spend my "sweet". That thought process is not something I would have done before, unless I was on a "diet", which I don't really feel like this is- in a positive way.

Week 3- Exercise 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes. I know, it sounds like such a tiny goal. Exercise is something that I have difficulty with when it comes to consistency and injuries. There have been times when I actively exercise 5 days a week or so and then times when I am doing hardly nothing. Immediately before this, I was at the nothing part.  However, about a month or so ago I was doing really well at exercising a few days a week. I had started in part to keep depression at bay. I had a video game that I actually enjoy with a variety of exercise opportunities.  And then I threw my back out. Weeks of pain and now I am okay, until I do anything outside of my normal daily movements.  If I do something more such as pull garbage cans, mow the yard or cut tree limbs, I again end up with a hurting back. I haven't gotten back to the video yet and this week I just walked to meet my goal. They say you should find something fun and make it a part of your life but that seems to back fire on me. Enjoyed the video game = hurt back, also I've enjoyed playing tennis in the past but I usually end up with a hurt shoulder. Again 3 times a week at 20 minutes isn't going to make someone really lose weight, but I do think it helps someone be healthier and push them towards the losing weight goal as well. Something is better than nothing right?

Week 4- This upcoming week I think I am going to not add anything else in but keep working on the 3 goals above, hoping to make the exercise part not feel so dreadful and hopefully tweaking the sweet eating to be happy with just enough. I think adding in another goal right now would make me start to feel out of balance- too many things hard at once.  I think I just need one more week on these goals before I add a new.

And so it goes...

Just Read- "We Have Always Lived In The Castle" by Shirley Jackson- the same author that wrote "The Lottery", which I watched in school at 7th grade which traumatized me. Andrew read this book and loved it. Her books are those that make you think of community and society as a whole and how we act.  I give it 3/5 stars.

Currently Reading- "Inside the O'Briens" by Lisa Genova. She also wrote "Still Alice" which I enjoyed which was about a lady and her battle with early onset Alzheimer's. This story (fiction) is about a family whose Dad has Huntington's disease. Good so far.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Wanted- Cheerleaders, not coaches.

The end of December I took a leave of absence from my job as an activities director to manage some family needs. By the middle of January, I knew that the needs were more involved and that I wouldn't be returning to my job. This was  hard, yet the right choice.  It put me in a new position.  So many people find that they have too much stuff to do and not enough time, but for me all of a sudden I felt like I had all this time, but not enough stuff to keep me happily engaged.  Although I was needed at home, since all of my kids are in school I was often home alone- and yes, I could spend loads of time cooking and cleaning, I can tell you neither are my passion.  So I decided it would be a transformative year for me. I had desires to: use my girl power, become spiritually stronger, get healthier and overall become the best me possible.  Now a few months in- I can't say I've changed drastically, although I do feel like I've done little things in probably all of these categories, but mostly I've gotten busy wasting time or spending time on what isn't most important to me- it is so easy to do.  Anyhow the realization is that to accomplish the above goals it takes time- but more importantly a set plan.  So I've been thinking about the health issue- especially in regards to weight.  I've been processing through my life, and my story because I think you have to understand where you are and why before you can make changes.

So here goes- How did I get so fat???
Now listen, I don't consider that a negative statement, I'm not overly beating myself up, but the truth is I'm not only fat, I'm obese.  I don't believe being obese means you can't be beautiful, but what I know for myself is that being so overweight limits me- and I don't like to be limited. And I don't necessarily mean the limits you put on yourself, because I think many overweight people limit themselves. Growing up I felt like my mom often didn't want to take us swimming because she didn't want to get in a swimsuit- I have really tried to not live like that- I have put on a swimming suit to take my kids to water parks, snorkeling at Disney and more.  And now I have to say my mom swims on a regular basis. However, I do feel limits and one of the biggest for me is when planning trips or activities wondering or worrying if I will be to overweight to do something- for example before going to Disney I did a lot of research about fitting into rides and such- now thankfully Disney is a size friendly theme park and I didn't have any problems, however wondering about it did cause me worry that I can really do without.  Am I too heavy for a Segway tour, too heavy for sky diving, for horseback riding.  I love doing things and I hate worrying about if I will be able to.  Will I have to set out an activity while I send my husband and kids to participate- that sounds sad.  So I have to say once upon a time I wish I had a list of all the activities I would like to do and a maximum weight allowed to do such things- of course I never knew I needed a list, because I never knew that I would be where I am now. I also feel like I don't feel mentally or spiritually as well when I am so overweight. It limits what I do, because although I try not to feel self -conscious , sometimes you just do.  I also know my body is a gift from God, and that I am expected to care for it well and that when I don't, spiritually I suffer.

So back to HOW did I get so fat?
Genetics and lifestyle- the early years. Both of my parents spent a lot of my childhood being overweight.  My dad and mom were both short as well- and when you're short, there is just less space for those calories to go.  We didn't have packaged, processed food, but we did have probably a meat and potatoes mentality, although vegetables and fruit were available as well. Also lots of homemade goodies such as pies and cookies.  Healthy habits weren't really talked about.  I know I over ate then but at the same time we put in so much physical labor that it probably balanced out to allow me to be around a size 10-12 during my high school years. My dad encouraged badminton, horseshoes and ping pong as active fun.

A misunderstanding of religious teachings?- I remember all these lessons about vanity and how it was wrong and that you shouldn't be so concerned about how you look, as well as the importance of not judging others on the way they look- and somehow I got it in my head that it was wrong to care or worry about how you looked.  I know we also had lessons on healthy eating and the Word of Wisdom, which then mostly seemed like a list of "Don'ts", but I feel like it was the anti- vanity lessons that stuck.  And I agree you shouldn't judge others on how they look, but there is nothing wrong and actually something right with wanting to look nice. And in reality the church teaches to care for our body- but my teenage brain got everything a little skewed.

Marriage and Life- Early on in our marriage I got down to one of my lowest adult weights of around 125.  I think I was able to do that then for a few reasons- we couldn't really afford eating out or buying many extra treats, our life was simpler- just two people and time to really plan out meals and count calories. I gained a lot of weight with our first child, but was able to lose it.  However after our second child was born, and basically from then on, I've been gaining weight. Yes sometimes with a loss and regain thrown in.  I'm not sure if I was always a stress eater or became one or that it was just noticeable because all of the sudden I had a lot more stress, but I would definitely say I am a stress eater. I have recognized this, but haven't yet learned how to do this differently.  I think I need to do 2 things- learn to get stressed less, but then also learn to substitute something else to do when I am stressed. So as well as being a stress eater, there are many other things I do wrong and some things I do right. 

My goal now is to set goals to start incorporating healthy habits and to find time to really focus on what I need to do. Time to really think about the steps to take.  I'm not on a lose 100 lbs by next year plan or triple the exercise plan or only eat veggies plan, I just want to mentally feel well, physically feel well and eventually get to a point where I don't have this nagging worry over my head of "will I be able to do that", I have every intention of  spending a lot of fun time with my family as I age. Right this minute I don't know exactly what goal or goals I'm going to work on first, although I have started a list of ideas. I'm going to talk to Richard tonight and discuss this, maybe we will do this together or even choose our own healthy habit to start on, but be able to support each other.
I' m happy to have cheerleaders on my journey, more than coaches right now- if I have learned anything it is that sometimes ( all the time?) you have to choose what works for you and ditch everyone else's "you shoulds", but feel free to become a cheerleader on my team!

And so it goes...

Reading Now- "Everything I Never Told You" by Celeste Ng and "Half the Sky" by Nicholas D.Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn

Recently Read- "1984" by George Orwell- thought provoking
"Longbourne" by  Jo Baker- a fun read showing another side of  "Pride and Prejudice"
"The Light Between Oceans" by  M.L.Stedman- Great story! A page turner except for the fact that you don't want it to end!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I'm Done Feeling Sorry Myself- Please Stop Feeling Sorry For Me Too.

Marriage. Is. Hard.

 I. Love. Being. Married.

 Marriage. Is. Hard.

Great accomplishments require lots and lots of hard work. A great marriage IS a great accomplishment- thus it requires lots of hard work.  And I don’t just mean work, like making time for dates and overlooking your hubby’s quirks that drive you insane or figuring out how to share housework so one person isn’t feeling overworked and or underappreciated. I mean HARD work. Hard like finding again your identity as an individual and as a couple when a defining factor has drastically changed. Hard like realizing some of your goals that you had hoped for as a couple just are not going to happen, and beyond realizing that, accepting that without blame or anger, and then discovering other goals you can share. Hard like wanting to yell out at church that “ Hey, we’re not contagious! If you associate with both me AND my husband doesn’t mean your spouse will lose his religion! Give it a try- invite my WHOLE family over” and “Please stop feeling sorry for me!”

My sweet husband and I have been married for 23 years.  Long enough to experience some HARD work.  I have dwelt on a lot of that hard work that came from him going from being an active Mormon ( or member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints) to being an Atheist. But to be honest- we had our difficulties before then, because you know what? LIFE is HARD.  LIFE IS WONDERFUL, BUT LIFE IS HARD.

Anyhow, the change from Richard being an active Mormon, as I am, to absolutely not being one provided the avenue for us to tackle some really hard work.  Which we have, and truthfully after about 10 years we continue to tackle this hard work. I am still trying to find my own personal identity as well as our couple identity because things that had clearly defined us before no longer exist.  And only recently am I recognizing the need to define us differently- because I’m kind of tired of feeling like “poor me”, because you know what?  “Poor me” isn’t accurate and it makes you feel like crap getting stuck in that mind frame. Lucky, blessed me- now that’s accurate. Why lucky me?  Because I have a husband willing to work through the HARD stuff too, because you know what?  This has been hard on him to.  When he decided our religion no longer worked for him, he had hoped that I would come to believe differently as well, but didn’t. I’m not going into details about how things were hard for him, that is his story, but they were hard.  And we worked and we worked and we worked. And as we hammered away trying to create an amazing relationship, yes sometimes one of our hearts got bruised. But the work continued. The bruises healed. We both try to support each other in our individuality.  He is constant and kind.  I hope he can say the same about me. Sharing a religion may make some things easier, but no longer will I think it is what defines a good marriage.  I have seen plenty of same faith marriages with abuse, criticism and infidelity.  And in our marriage I’ve seen compassion, friendship, respect, understanding and love.  Why would I accept a “poor me” attitude about that!  So I’m done with that, and if you’ve ever felt sorry for me because of the change in Richard’s religion, I’m letting you know now- please don’t, instead just realize that yep, amazing accomplishments take lots of HARD work, and team Ashead is just going to keep on working hard!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2014- A year of Learning

Whether I wanted to learn or not, 2014 decided that it had a lot to teach me.  Some of the things I learned this year:

1.  I learned about my Dad.  My Pops passed away in July and as we celebrated his life and prepared for and had his funeral I learned more and more about him.  Things I wish I would have known before he passed.  He never talked a lot about himself, but at his funeral it was opened up for people to share their thoughts/memories of him. I learned a lot. After the funeral two individuals were talking about how it was "the best funeral ever!"- and they truly sounded excited and happy about it.  And you know what- I agree. His life was celebrated and I learned more of his awesomeness and how he touched many.  Even at the time of his death, he was still teaching us.

2.  I learned about myself.  I started a new job this year and it stretched me. I did things I've never done- plan a picnic for 300, pull off a huge bazaar, become a manager, do a radio ad. Of course I had help, I couldn't have done it without help, but I learned I could do things I didn't know I could.  I learned that people had confidence in me and that built my own confidence.

3.  I've learned that I really do have friends and that a lot of people are here for me. I have a hard time making close friends- the kind that you run to lunch with feel comfortable dropping in on without notice.  I have had them and I'm grateful- but in general I just feel like I don't make close friends very well. However, I have learned that I have friends just the same. This year has had some really tough spots, but time and time again I have been blessed with caring friends who stepped up to the plate in one way or the other.  Whether it was answering questions, providing a meal, texting me to ask how I was doing, letting me know I'm not alone in one way or another.  I feel so blessed, and chastened for the times I felt sorry for myself saying I didn't have friends.  There is more than one way to be a friend.

4.  To go along with #3, I also learned that it really is the "thought that counts" - at times people did whatever they thought might be useful to us or kind.  And it really didn't matter if it was or wasn't- but what did matter is that I knew that they were trying to reach out to us and help us in whatever way they could think of.

I've learned more this year as well, but sometimes what I've learned is wrapped up in someone elses story that isn't really mine to share. 2014 taught me many things, but what I hold in my heart is that I'm blessed and have much to be thankful for.

And so it goes...

Reading Now: "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" and "Nine Lives"
Just Read- "How to be an American Housewife"

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Love Steps Up- My Dad's story

My last post dealt with the way my Mom had stepped up to care for my Dad who lived with Alzheimer's for many years.  My Pops has recently passed away and I wanted to share some of his story and the many way he was an example of  "love stepping up".

My emotions remain tender in thinking about my dad, but I am glad that the last time I saw him alive his personality still shone through the Alzheimer's. He was still telling jokes.  As family and friends reminisced about him and his life people commented on his smile and joking personality, but time and time again what was recounted was all the ways he showed kindness and compassion to the world around him. What I have learned from my dad is that it doesn't take $ to and reach out to someone, we had little growing up and he had much less growing up, but the stories remained of how that didn't stop him. 

** Growing up my Dad's dad left his family when my Pops was in the 5th grade.  This left my dad to start working to help the family get by.  He worked for various farms and gave the money to his mom. He worked and worked and worked. At the funeral his sister spoke about how he gave up things so her and his other sister, both younger than him, could have things at school that others had, and how he went without.  In a book my sister had him fill out years ago, my Dad had written about how they used the cardboard from cereal boxes to line their shoes.

** Over the time us kids were growing up my parents cared for 7 different foster children.  Some for a short period of time, some for much longer.  Dad also spent time at the juvenile detention center working with kids who needed hope and guidance. For many who didn't have a male role model, he stepped up to the plate and became one.  He never did this for the praise of the world, or because he had excess money to spare- he just wanted these kids to feel safe. To understand when I say we didn't have excess money, a story my sister shared was how going out to eat was so rare and if you did stop it meant one order of fries for all the kids to share ( and how she hoped there wasn't many in the car when  they stopped.- and I remember him buying one Snickers bar and slicing it into 5 pieces for us to share.) I regret that in the younger years I didn't recognize my dad for the man he was.

** Hitchhikers, hobos and more!- It was routine for us to pick up hitchhikers and give them a ride on their way.  And if their way was past our house, it was also routine for them to either be given a meal or food.  We had a picnic table outside- and it was normal for us kids to be expected to serve these individuals. If a transient needed a place to stay they were offered the barn for the night, if they were a smoker, the garage. My dad helped out neighbors and strangers and more. 

I loved that at the calling hours and funeral there were people from many areas of Dad life- church, local restaurant, neighbors and more.  One man, with little worldly stature had a broad circle of individuals whom he had touched.

As family and friends talked it was mentioned time and time again how Dad taught us to look out for those who needed a hand up, to show compassion to those around us.  As I consider my last post and this one, it makes it easy to see why I have become the person I am - a person who desires to help others- whether it is a family of a child with disabilities or a nursing home resident that doesn't have anyone to advocate for their cause.  My Dad and Mom have taught me that compassion is essential. There is always something you can do. I'm grateful that my parent's taught me the importance of love stepping up, wherever you are.  I hope I can teach the same lesson to my kids.

And so it goes...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Love Steps Up: A Personal View of Alzheimer's

When life and love get hard, we all have a choice: step up or step away. I am so grateful that my mom has chosen to step up. For the past several years she has been caring for my Dad who has Alzheimer's . Well in reality, she has been caring for my Dad way before then, isn't that what wives do?  I know that this is not what she anticipated in a fairy tale love story, and even before then I don't know that I would describe my parent's marriage as perfect. Is there really such a thing? And in marriage, unless you are one of the members, I don't think you can judge if it is "perfect" or even "good" or not. Feelings of the heart, and individuals hopes and desires are not always easily seen on the surface of day to day living.  So maybe it has been perfect.

The above picture was taken a few months ago as I visited my parents. My mom was shaving my dad. I asked her if she felt comfortable with me sharing this picture and some of our Alzheimer's story and she agreed.  I was hesitant to write this. My dad has always been a hardworking man and it is sad to see him in the state he is now. I didn't want to disrespect him by sharing how this disease has affected him.  But, it is a story that must be shared, in hopes of having others understand perhaps how to help out and love those like my mom and dad. ( or even my mom and dad if readers know them)

The Beginning
My Grandma Spriggs, my dad's mom, suffered from dementia. She lived with us for some of my teenage years until she was placed in a nursing home. I remember changing her diaper and her doing things like pouring orange juice into the milk and stories that she felt were true that were scary imaginations. My mom cared for my grandma a lot. It was hard for her and she will say at that time she thought some of the things my grandma did was simply to spite her.  My grandma suffered with dementia for several years, at that time I don't think it was given the Alzheimer's name, but it may have been.  When my grandma passed on, I'm sure my dad may have been a little sad, but probably not a lot. I recall him saying that he had already said good bye to her years before.
So, my dad, having seen his mom in such a state, never wanted to be in a similar position.  As he started to exhibit some of the initial signs of Alzheimer's it was scary to him. He didn't want to become like that.  That is a tough place to be in.  You are still cognitive enough to know that things aren't right, but you can't fix them or change them in the way you want.  It's like you see your nightmare rushing towards you, but you can't stop it. Things become more and more confusing. At the beginning ( and even later, too, I think) as he was aware that he was losing his cognitive skills,-there is a certain amount of faking. He may have run into someone in the store and knew he should have known them and was maybe able to muddle through a conversation with them, all the time wondering who they were and what his connection to them was.

For awhile my dad was able to do the majority of the things that he had been doing. He worked some and still drove to neighborhood places. Eventually my dad wasn't able to continue either tasks. He wasn't able to follow through on his job demands and although it was hard, slowly my mom decided that it was no longer safe for him or others around him to drive.  I think that was hard for my mom- how do you take away the simple pleasure of driving privileges from your husband ? He was still able to do many other things . 

For my mom this was a transition period.  Thankfully she had always been involved in family finances, but now she found herself having to make decisions that before her and dad would have made together. He was no longer able to understand the complexities of daily decisions and my mom, as she was losing, in part, the relationship she had had with my dad, and I'm sure that is a sad place to be, she was also having to take on more and more responsibilities.

Today, my dad needs help with the most basics of things.  He needs to be told how to eat something- for example do you use your fingers or a spoon.  At times he needs directed to use the bathroom and wears a diaper for the times when he doesn't make it. He wanders off. He might think I am his sister. He will ask if his mom has passed away. 

As I have watched my mom and dad- there are some important things that I need to share.  I know that I won't do justice to all the important things that need said in this blog post. So if you want to know more- please ask me.

  • Give the caregiver love and support-  My mom's world has gotten smaller as she has taken on the role of caregiver.  A lot of people have given her advice- and I know I know how I feel when people give me advice about my relationships in areas they know nothing about! I know so many people mean well, but unless you are living in the situation- trust my mom to make the decisions that need to be made.  Understand how totally time consuming and draining this is for her.  My dad attends an adult day program 3 days a week now, and he has a "sitter" that comes into their home 2 days a week.  You may think that this has made it so much easier for my mom- and yes it helps- but consider this- there are days when he doesn't attend day care because my mom just doesn't have the energy that is required to get my dad up and moving and dressed and ready to go. There are days that my dad has escaped from day care. It is not a lock down facility. As a concerned daughter I talked to my mom about this - and thought she made a good point. She said he looks for the opportunities that he can sneak out. She said he wouldn't be happy if he was locked in, and if this is the way he goes, then that is okay. True that we could extend a lot of people's lives by locking them in somewhere- but what kind of life is that. Nights are hard, I have stayed over some last year and I think one night was pretty restful, but there were other nights when my dad was up all through the night- agitated, wanting to pack for work and there are other nights, which my mom says are the hardest- when he just cries and cries. So on top of the daily stresses, my mom also doesn't have the chance to recover at night.  My mom has helped so many people in her life- this is what I wish people would do for her.
               ** Listen to her ! Call her up, stop in and visit and let her talk, let her share her feelings with you, be her friend. She doesn't get to attend church as much and socialize as much and sometimes she just needs to know someone is there. Not to offer advice, but to be a friend.
              ** Bring a meal over, offer to help with something at the house, help her with her garden in the spring and summer!  My mom loves her gardens! They help keep her sane! They are her respite, but also a lot of work.

  • Don't ignore my dad!- My dad is "still there", he can still joke around and although he doesn't know what is going on- he often returns to this mantra- "I've had a good life"  he will talk about the farm and the life that he has lived. I have found that at times I am even guilty of doing this- only asking my mom how he is and not talking to him when I call. I am trying to do much better, because I have found that he has happiness in moments. So those few minutes talking and connecting to someone are meaningful to him.  When I call and ask to talk to my dad my mom has to instruct him how to use the phone: "don't touch anything, put it up to your ear".  He is happy to chat- last time I talked to him he told me he had been picking rhubarb- I know it is January in Ohio and that he wasn't picking rhubarb, but it doesn't matter. I talk to him about the rhubarb I have in my freezer from the plant I got at their house.  His core beliefs come through as he says " I always think it is good if you don't have to get all of your food from the store" Self sufficiency was always important to him.  So call my mom, but then talk to my dad too!  Don't expect him to know who you are, don't expect his words to always make sense, but tell him you are glad to be able to talk to him.

I'm sure there is more to write here, but I just want to end with a thought about the picture above. My dad lives in a land of confusion. There are times when he says he wants to go home, although they are already in the home they have lived in their whole marriage. One visit he was agitated and I believe he said "I don't know where I am or who I am".  Yet through it all my mom is his safety spot. He wants to know where she is, he wants to be near her and he trusts her to take care of his needs. Love has stepped up.

And so it goes...