Saturday, October 29, 2016

Raising a Latino Male and Female

Every day I think of the awesome responsibility that we have been given to raise two children, but especially a Latino boy. When I hear reports like this one, "Report Examines the Health and Education of Latino Boys and Young Men" on Houston Matters I think about that responsibility even more.

Seth is a 7th grade Latino boy. His father and I are divorced but we are very much on the same page about how we want to raise our children. We want for them to be strong, smart and educated. We want for them to be good people that will do the right thing, even if we aren't watching.

I'm proud of both of my kids. My daughter has always been a great kid since she was a baby. In some ways I think we just expect for her to do well because she always has. I have to remind myself that by doing that we are placing a big responsibility on her shoulders. So I tell her how proud I am as much as I can so that she knows how much I love and appreciate her.

We have come so far with Seth from those early days of elementary school when we struggled with his behavior and we couldn't understand what was happening to him. We didn't know that he had ADHD and was a high functioning Aspergers. When we finally understood this it made all the difference on how we worked with him. By fifth grade his assistant principal said she couldn't believe he was the same boy who had constantly been in her office the year before. So sometimes I think that the victory is even sweeter with him. To see him transition into the young man he is now in middle school in the Vanguard program has been so rewarding.

It also makes me sad when I think of all the young Latino males who don't have the support system they need to help make them successful. I hate that young Latino men become a statistic and I will work so hard to make sure my son is not.

I know the challenge isn't over yet and that we have to keep working on both of these kids. Two and a half more years for Miranda and Five and half for Seth to be exact. I am on a mission and a plan to make these two kids successful and hard-working adults. If that means sacrificing a little part of my life to do it that's okay with me. When I signed up to be a parent I knew that was in the job-description and I have never regretted this job once in my life. I tell my kids that thus far they are my greatest accomplishment in life and they are.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Little T-Rex Arm and Other Adventures

Kids have no idea how good they have it. Back in the day we got paddled at school, teachers had the last word all the time and parents didn't challenge them. If you messed up at school you got spanked at home too. You didn't see parents coming up to the school to fight with teachers about discipline. My parents were those kind who signed the paper that said that I could get paddled at school. I never did, but I had that fear and believe me, it kept me in line. Parents also didn't challenge doctors. Remember that? Doctors talked to us the way they wanted to and parents, at least mine, didn't argue.

When I was little I broke my left arm TWICE. Yes, once at the grocery store. The grocery cart turned over on me because I was hanging off the side. That time I had to wear a cast. The second time it was a small fracture and I just had to wear a sling. I broke it roller skating that time. And yes, I still learned how to roller skate after that and even used to "fast skate" when I was a teenager.

When I broke my arm the second time my mom took me to the same doctor who saw me the first time. I will never forget that visit. He told me point blank that if I broke my arm one more time that my arm would stop growing and that I would have a little arm for the rest of my life. I remember sitting in his office picturing myself as a grown woman and walking around with one short little girl arm. I have a vivid memory of me sitting up on the doctor examination bed and looking out the window at a cemetery while I thought about that. I often remember that story when I drive by that cemetery. The office building that used to be there was converted into indoor storage units.

I was telling my co-worker friend that random story and she asked me, "Like a T-Rex?"

"Yes, exactly," I laughed. A couple of days later she gave me the comic strip above.

"I saw this and I thought of you."

I laughed so hard. She always has a way of thinking about the exact movie quote or clip that will fit the situation and she makes us laugh so much.

We have a great team at work. We have all kinds of different personalities and just good people in general. It's nice to go somewhere like that each day.

I've been thinking a lot about creating my own #WIN. I've changed up a few things I've been doing and I feel like they've worked. I feel a different energy in me. A lot of good things are happening and I'm excited by the possibilities. I may be partnering with a new digital endeavor.

On the health/exercise note. I fell off the wagon with my exercise and I really need to get back on because I'm going to LA in 3 weeks, but most importantly for my health. I had my blood checked yesterday and when I went in today with my daughter for her physical my doctor said that it looked better than the last time and to keep doing what I was doing.  I'm still working on that #clarity #liberty and #healthy. I fail some days but I succeed others. I just need to keep on keeping on. It's all I can do.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

"I'm OK By Myself"

When I was young and single my mother used to tell me I was "libre y en Tejas" or "free in Texas." She especially said that to me when I would call late at night to tell her I was spending the night at a friend's house. After she died and after my divorce I had this Texas charm engraved with the word "libre."

The thing is though, I have never been truly libre. I lived at home until I got married at 27, like a dutiful Hispanic daughter, I was married for 14 years and after my divorce I had 2 children. Then a year and a half after my divorce my father moved in. In other words I have lived with a man, except for that short year and a half, my entire life. If you add the fact that I have lived with my children since my divorce then I have never lived alone. Never. Even the summer I did an internship in Florida in 1991 my mother's stipulation was I had to live with someone so I rented a room from two older ladies.

The hilarious part about it is that I am not the kind of person who has to live with someone or needs to have someone in her life. I enjoy being alone and I have never had a problem doing things alone in the past. I've traveled alone, I've gone to concerts and I eat out alone. I was reading my journal from 1992 recently and I had so many entries where I did things by myself. I'd go to Fitzgerald's to hear a band play if I wanted to and I usually ran into friends there. I'd go to parties alone as long as I knew the host. I once traveled to Spain and back. I was with friends in between but I stayed by myself in my own pensione and had some nights out alone.

This past Friday my ex-husband picked up the kids right after he got out of work. That meant that I didn't have to rush home to get them packed and ready to go like I usually do when they go over to his house. I had plans to attend a lecture performance that night and I realized that I could go straight from work and I even had some extra time before it started. The event was at the Byzantine Chapel at the Menil. I'd wanted to try the Bistro Menil but I always have the kids in tow. This time I had nothing to hold me back. I stopped there first and ordered a glass of wine and a small appetizer, some ahi tuna. Everything was delicious and I wrote a rough draft for this blog while I sat at the bar.

When I was finished I drove over closer to Byzantine and found a parking spot on that block. The lecture performance wasn't exactly what I had expected. It was more of a reading than a lecture and the girl was really really young. I enjoyed it none-the-less but more than anything I thoroughly enjoyed being out by myself. It was such a liberating moment. It's not that I can't do that if I want to, it's simply that I don't do it any more. Not like I used to when I was young. I felt so free. So libre!

After the lecture I met up with some friends for margaritas and I finally saw my friends' company. It was much needed ME time and a wonderful night. As I'm getting older my priorities are shifting. I get so much pleasure from those stolen moments without the kids or my father.

I wrote last time about becoming an empty nester and preparing for life after kids. Part of that preparation is getting out again.  I want to have more nights like the one I had on Friday and I will. In the words of Morrissey, "I'm OK by myself."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

My Three and Six Year Plans

A couple of months ago it really hit me. My daughter is leaving our house in three years. Tomorrow she starts her sophomore year of high school and that only leaves us three years. Three years is nothing!

This means that I have six years left with my son and provided they both go out of state, or at least out of the city, I will be alone. I will be an empty nester!

A few days after that realization hit me I wanted to do something after work and I asked my daughter if she wanted to order pizza for dinner.

“I can do that?” she asked surprised.

“Sure,” I said, “Just go online to either the Dominoes or the Pizza Hut websites and see who has the better deal. Use your credit card and order it for delivery.”

After texting me a couple of times she managed to get it all done and to figure out the tip. I was at a happy hour with co-workers and I told them what was going on. They praised me for raising a good girl that would check in with me first before making a final decision on the purchase. But I was also reminded that at fifteen it was time for her to learn some of these life skills.

I am at a point in my life where I need to make a three year plan and a six year plan. The three year plan is about making sure my daughter knows all the things that she needs to know before going off to college. This includes driving, self-defense, how to manage a checking account, grocery shopping, to name a few things. It also includes all the things we have to do to get her into college, like researching scholarships and applying for those that are a fit. Of course the most important thing, keeping her on track between lacrosse and her academics to make sure she does excel in school, on her SAT and then applying to colleges.

The six year plan is a plan that includes both my son and I. First and foremost we have to get him through the dreadful years of middle school. He has to do well in 7th grade because those are the grades that will be considered in his high school applications. We need to find high schools that are a good fit for him and we need to apply to those. I live in the City in the Houston Independent School District so Magnet schools are the only way to go. Thank goodness those applications will be happening a year before my daughter’s college applications.

On top of all that, he’s interested in joining some sports teams while he’s in middle school, like football and cross country. I want to encourage his interest in pursuing sports because I feel that they will keep him focused and busy.

Once the girl is in college I start all over again with the boy on the life skills that he will need to know for college three years later. Of course he will have the advantage of watching his sister prepare and will hopefully learn some of those too along the way.

I have to have a six year plan for myself. I can’t lose sight of me because it’s very easy to do that when you are in the thick of high school and college applications with your kids. Between lacrosse games, football games, track meets, school programs, and dances, I’m sure I will lose sight of myself if I don’t keep that in mind.

So how do I do that as a mom? That’s part of what I need to figure out when I’m making this six year plan. My plan has to include my personal and professional goals and what I want to accomplish at this time in my life. Where do I want to be in six years once they are gone? What do I want for myself?

Most people think that it’s only new moms who need to work on not losing themselves. I think that it can be just as hard for a mom with teenage children because of the amount of activities involved in their daily lives.

On the plus side, teenagers don’t need me as much as a baby did. Teenagers can order pizza for dinner and they are caught up in their own social lives and activities. I don’t have to watch them 24/7 like I did when they were little but I do have to be aware of what they are doing. Teenagers are okay if I leave them alone, together, for a couple of hours in the evening to go have dinner or drinks with a friend. However teenagers will keep me busy when they have something going on.

So just like when they were babies I have to follow the same advice on some things. I can’t forget to take time out for myself. I need to go to book readings or to listen to lectures. As a single mom I have the advantage of having weekends alone when they are with their dad. I need to have dinner and drinks with friends.

I need to make a new vision board of all the things I want to accomplish in the next six years. Because six years are going to fly by and before I know it they’ll both be gone and I’ll be all alone in the nest.
I know that as a mother my life will truly never be the same as it was before I was one. I know that when they are in college I'll worry about them and how they are doing, but it will be a new-found freedom in so many ways.
One of my friends who has five years left with her girls has said that she's letting her company know that in five years she'll be ready for any expat assignments. I've been thinking something along the same lines. In six years I may be open to taking a job assignment in another city, either with Hearst or another newspaper in another part of the country. There are so many possibilities, so many options in six years. I feel like the world is going to be my oyster again for the last half of my life and that is a good feeling.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Creating My Own #WIN

I've been thinking a lot about life lately for a couple of reasons besides you know, just life.

This is LIFE

It all started when my sister came to visit from LA a couple of weeks ago and we finally started going through some boxes I brought to my house THREE YEARS AGO from my dad's house, after we cleaned it out and threw away stuff. My other sister who lives in Houston came over to help us sort through them because she's really good at organizing.

There were two boxes that belonged to our sister who passed away 21 years ago filled with pictures of hers and pictures of her friends. They held her memories book from high school, her wedding album, work ID cards and other mementos. As we sorted through these I got really sad, like I often do when I think of my sister's very short 42 years on this earth. This time though I looked at those two boxes and I told my sisters that it made me so sad to think that our life can end up in two boxes that people have to sort through and that nobody knows what to do with your stuff.

One of the photos we found in the other boxes was my sister's (the organizer) prom picture. We talked about her prom date and other friends. She told us that she had heard that one of our old guy friends was sick. We were surprised and that led to a phone call and she placed it on speaker. He answered and told us he was in the hospital but that he was getting out that day or the next. However, he was going to have to go to an assisted living facility because he didn't have anyone to help take care of him. We looked at one another in shock and dismay.

This all led to me going to visit him first then my sister who was closest to him went to visit him at home and has been helping him ever since. She was once in love with him when she was a teenager but they both married other people, twice... Now here is he is very close to the end of his life on kidney dialysis and she is helping to take care of him. So many missed opportunities in life...

So all of these things make me think about life, my life, my kids' lives... my happiness, my reality, my responsibilities.  A friend gave me the venn diagram above and it's such a great synopsis of life. It's so hard to find that #WIN. When we end up in one of the other spaces we do what we can and we try to be happy and that's where most of us are.

As I'm making changes in my life this year and concentrating on my three words, Clarity, Liberty and Healthy, I am trying to work a lot harder on remembering that people pray for the things that I have. Two brilliant healthy children, I OWN (or paying) a house, I just paid off my small mortgage, I've had a rich full life and I've travelled more places that many people. The list can go on, which is why I know that I have a lot of things to appreciate.

In addition to making changes, like running and eating better, I'm also working on positive thinking and believing more in affirmations and in the power of the universe, without sounding too new agey. I'm practicing gratitude, reviewing my vision boards, visualizing, making affirmations, meditating, making a positive list and other things. These are all part of my clarity and liberty words for the year. I want to create my own #WIN.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Summer Lovin' Happened So Fast

Yes, we are less than one month away from the first day of school now. We are exactly 4 weeks away, to the day. The summer flew by. Miranda finished her five week summer school schedule at Kinkaid EMSI and she was invited back for her third summer. We were thrilled for her! She made it to the final 20 who will complete the courses next summer. For their final summer they apply for internships in math, science and engineering.

Me, super sweaty after a run in the Houston humidity.

In other Summer News:

I grew up in Houston and I know Houston summers, so what compelled me to start running outside this summer is beyond me. However I've done it and I've survived! Of course there's still August, which is considered the hottest month of the year here.

I started my whole exercise thing exactly 3 months ago today so it's an anniversary of sorts. I started running one block and walking one block on June 5. Then on July 19, just a week ago, I started running two blocks and walking one block. I'm going to keep doing this for a month and then I'll start running three blocks. At least that's the plan. I'm training for a 5K run in the fall!! I'm thinking the MECA Day of the Dead Run but we will see if I'm ready for one before that one on October 30.

I went back to look at old blog posts and the last time I ran was 8 years ago!!! Even then, it was running inside a gym on a treadmill and nothing like this. This is running on a whole new level!

The thing is this. This can't be a temporary thing. This has to be a lifestyle change or I will end up a diabetic on Metformin for the rest of my life, ruining my liver. OR on insulin because that will be it and I'll be at the point of no return and I will definitely have a very short life that will end before 70. I like to compare it to this. When I was in my 20s it was "Last call for alcohol and now it's Last call for health." THIS is it! This is the last chance for my health and if I don't do it now it's never going to happen.


After 10 months at my new job, not so new now, I am finally taking a full one week vacation. Since I'm still not rich I had to do the most affordable thing that was still interesting. Day trips with me packing a lunch for the day. We are going to Washington on the Brazos, the Beach of course because it's summer, and finally either museums or another day trip nearby. Then the kids are off to San Antonio for a week to visit the grandparents. I'm planning on going to pick them up and going to the caverns on the way back. We've been wanting to do that for a while.

When we get back that only leaves two full weeks for shopping for uniforms and school supplies. Then it's Back to School time before we know it.

Yes, Summer lovin' definitely happened so fast....

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

School's Out for Summer!

We survived 6th grade and 9th grade and we are on to the rest of middle school and high school. Both kids did really well and I was pleased with their last report cards. They are good kids and I'm very lucky. Miranda starts summer school at the Kinkaid Engineering Math and Science Institute next Wednesday. Seth is staying with my dad while Miranda is at school with occasional visits to his best friend's house for play dates. The summer is going to fly by!

In other news....

Yellow dress that hasn't fit me since I don't know when.

I have been losing weight again! It feels like it just happened. I went to the doctor because I had a flu that turned into bronchitis. The doctor asked me when I was going to do something about my weight and my health and sent me for blood work. So around April 25, a month ago, I started keeping track of what I was eating and walking in the evenings.

I hardly ever eat out for lunch. I take soups, crackers, and fruit. My main tactic is to have dinner made the night prior so we have dinner when I get home. I either cook dinner over night in the crock pot or I cook dinner before I go to sleep. I don't usually get home from work until 6:30 or 7 so we eat dinner as soon as I get home. We go walking right after dinner before it gets dark.

Just making those simple changes has made a huge difference. This past weekend I decided to try on several outfits that haven't fit me in a long time and I was shocked to find out that almost every single piece of clothing fit me. It was like a miracle! I couldn't even believe it every time a dress or a skirt would zip up. I still have a couple of dresses and a pants that don't fit that I can use as an incentive.

One of my goal words for 2016 is Healthy and I feel like I'm finally making strides with that word. By healthy I mean both physically as well as mentally. After such a long time of being at either a plateau or steadily gaining the weight back it seems incredible that my weight goal is within reach. Pretty cool!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Far from the Madding Crowd

On Reading:  Many years ago I started a collection of classics that I wanted to read. I acquired some of the books at book shops or people gave them to me. One of the books I somehow got from my sister was "Far from the Madding Crowd" by Thomas Hardy. This was pre-Google and I never bothered to look up the plot, but I had heard that it was a classic so I added it to my collection. I've had it for years now and I never read it. Since it's a paperback it's grown old and the pages have yellowed.

I don't know why I never started to read it, especially since I love the title. It reminds me of how I feel when I'm overwhelmed and I have that desire to just run away and hide. Last night I decided to watch the movie on my HBO app on my Kindle (I sound so 21st century saying it that way!) and I absolutely loved the storyline! It is such a romantic story and the characters are so great. It made me want to read the book for sure now to get more details and to know more about the characters than a movie can't tell you.

I want to start reading again like I used to. I don't read enough and I miss it. I just finished reading "Room" by Emma Donoghue. It's a really great book and I can't wait to see the Oscar-nominated movie.

On Health: Well I have not done very well with my #healthy word for 2016. In fact I've been sick with a cold or flu at least three times. The third time was the charm! I had the flu really bad last weekend and it settled into my lungs and turned into bronchitis. It was the first time I've had bronchitis that I know of. Yeah, ironic isn't it? After all that talk about health!

I ignored resting this weekend because I wasted all of last weekend sick in bed. I cut the yard and I swept and mopped the 3 main rooms in the house. Now I'm feeling a little extra congestion in my chest but at least I've taken all 5 days of my antibiotics.

My doctor got after me when I went to see her about this bronchitis and she sent me for blood work. I'm going to go get it done this week so I can face the music. She's checking me for everything and I know I need to start seeing her on the regular. I hadn't been in three years! Yeah, not good.

Now that the time has changed I'm going to start walking every evening after work. I need to start a regular exercise routine again. I'd like to eventually start Cross Fit and I want to train for a run.

On Life: It's good in general. I appreciate the small things and the big things. I appreciate that I'm working back at the Chronicle again and that I have money to support my family like I should. That's a big one. I appreciate weekends without the kids to be alone and to watch all the HBO and Netflix that I want, uninterrupted.

I'm doing better at #liberty and #clarity than I'm doing with #healthy. At least there's that and I appreciate it. It's still a work in progress and arguing with the demons in my head.

Is it weird to still want to achieve something big in my life at the age of 46? Although I'm very grateful for what I have I still want to do more and achieve more in life. I was looking at Soledad O'Brien's biography and of course I'm not a major news anchor like her, but I see women like her, around my age, and all that they've accomplished and I want to do that too.

Soledad O'Brien is around 49, Brene Brown is 50. I don't know how old Kelly Rae Roberts is, but I did learn that she didn't start painting and doing her craft until she was 30.  I realize that 46 is much older than 30 but still, she didn't start as a young adult. I want to do that.

I want to achieve something big like they have, whether it's writing and publishing a book or starting a successful podcast with a really cool and interesting topic, or becoming a journalist for NPR in my old age. I feel like until I'm dead anything is possible and I don't want to stop dreaming and believing.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March Madness

March has been a pretty crazy month, thus the madness part. Miranda turned 15 and she had a karaoke party with a few friends. It's also the month of Spring Break so we went to New Orleans on the first weekend to visit my step-daughter and her new baby.  While we were in New Orleans I visited some of the oldest and coolest cemeteries, St. Roch 1 & 2. They were so old and so amazing. Here are some of the photos I haven't shared on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Kids on the St. Patrick street of the cemetery since it was the week of  St. Patrick's Day.

Creepy girl statue we suspected had blood on her forehead but we aren't for sure.

Shots of St. Roch Cemetery, NOLA

We came back from NOLA and Seth's cat had mysteriously had his jaw ripped off and broken. We had to take him to the emergency room that same night we got home and had him put to sleep. Tears from everyone.

I had to go back to work Wednesday-Friday. I had a short but very busy week as I felt myself getting more and more sick. I spent the better part of this weekend in bed sick with a bad cough because Murphy has a sense of humor like that.

We got a mild cool front, probably the last of the year because today is the first day of Spring, so the weather has been beautiful. I needed to cut the yard and treat it for fleas. I needed to spray in the house for fleas too as a precaution with all this cat activity going on in here. But since I was sick all I managed to do was stay in bed resting and trying to bring my fever down. It finally did come down and at 5 p.m. on Sunday I'm finally feeling better, just in time to go back to work tomorrow.

 Now it's on to a short week of school for the kids because they have Good Friday off but I don't.

Since the year started I've only written a blog per month. My goal is to increase that to at least 2 blogs per month or one a week if I'm really being ambitious.

I'd like to start blogging about the Houston Independent School District and the Vanguard and Magnet programs a little more consistently. I think it's a topic a lot of parents have questions about and now that I've been through it a few times I feel like I can be a source of information for parents with questions. I'm still interested in doing some grassroots outreach to lower income and minority parents to educate them about what opportunities there are for their kids. That's on the agenda of things to do as well. Stay posted!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

"The who-I-was who would become the the who-I-am"

I turned 46 last week. Yes, 46, as in 4 years to 50, and I'm in a good place right now.

This is me yesterday on an adventure with my 14.5 year old daughter. We took the Metro downtown to the Place Upstairs. They weren't open so we had a snack and a drink at Tacos a Go Go downstairs. I got my hair cut yesterday so I wanted a picture of my hair and I found those amazing readers at another shop upstairs, above Tacos and the Continental Club. So here I am, looking every bit my 46 years.

I'm in a good place because I'm happy. I love just chilling in my house without anyone bothering me and deciding what I want to do and when. Sure, I have the kids and my dad to take care of but other than that I don't have to answer to anyone and that is a great feeling. Even cutting my hair short was a statement of liberty.

I've slacked off on my #Healthy, #Clarity and #Liberty. I need to get back on track there but I'm OK. I'm not going to stress myself out about it because I am free (liberty) to do what I want when I want to do it.

It was a great 46th birthday. I am finally feeling like a grown woman and that's a good thing. I think I felt like a kid or someone's wife for way too long. That's nothing to be ashamed of. It's "the who-I-was who would become the the who-I-am," (Sandra Cisneros)

The thing is this. I have always been under someone's headship. I lived at home until I got married at 27, then I was married for 14 years and we followed the traditional "head of household" relationship. After we got divorced I lived alone for only two years but I was truly alone in every sense for one year and then my dad came to live with me.

Even though I'm taking care of my dad and I'm the "head of household," at least according to the IRS, it is still living with my dad again. There are a lot of things I don't do out of respect for him and his religious beliefs even if it is my house. So in some ways I am still his kid and that's another bridge I will need to cross. My dad is 92 and I'm not in a hurry to cross that bridge if it means losing him.

For now, I celebrate the little victories, like doing what I want in general, letting go, doing my own taxes, turning people away from my door if I don't want to talk to them and voting in the Primary for the first time. (I didn't vote because it was against my former religion.)

I feel free in so many ways that the little ways that I'm not free don't really matter that much. I know that growing up also means letting go in my mind and grasping that freedom and liberty myself. It's what I'm learning to do.

Monday, January 04, 2016

My Words for 2016

A friend of mine gave me this idea a couple of years ago. We choose either one or more words to define our goals for the year. We started doing this when she moved back to Houston from Savannah and this is our third year doing it. It's become a tradition now!

A clean desk after a good house cleaning the day after Christmas, part of clearing the clutter!

This year I've decided not to set any wordy goals at all. I'm only going to use the three words that will be my guide for all things. These three words can act separately, but they can also overlap. I'll define them for the purposes of this blog post only.

Healthy-  This means both physical health as well as mental health. I want to work on clearing the baggage I still carry from childhood and along the way.

Clarity- Clarity of mind and well as soul. This also relates to clearing my life of clutter and goes hand in hand with my mental health.

Liberty- I choose freedom from all things that bring me down, whether they are food, clutter, organized religion, fear, people or the negative voices in my own head.

The older I am getting the less tolerant I'm becoming of people and things that I don't appreciate. I'm still learning to say no and telling people that certain behaviors, like coming to my house unannounced, are not okay. It's my right to say no and I will. Here is to a happy and prosperous 2016!