My Night with the Emporer

I’m going through this year’s pictures and came across a funny story I forgot to tell you…


It was past 1:00 a.m. and I was sitting up late in bed, reading what I am sure was the latest ground-breaking historical Christian fiction book on the market, when I heard Baby Betsie crying. My gracious husband – who, unlike me, does NOT sleep like a giant, inanimate boulder from the Rocky Mountains – usually handles the middle-of-the-night stuff, and so I was happy to hop up and handle this situation for him while he slept.

I ran up the stairs and tiptoed through our large, dark nursery, and, arriving at Betsie’s crib, gave her her pacifier and was covering her back up when I heard a sound behind me.

Turning around, I couldn’t believe what I saw…

I blinked.

I squinted.

I blinked three more times.

Yes, this was really happening…

A robed figure, unaware that I was in the room, was rising from the twin bed by the window. Standing up next to his bed, he pulled his hood up over his head, and bending down, quietly retrieved his lightsaber from the floor beside him. Standing back up, lightsaber held high, he shuffled noiselessly out of the room.

And I, snapping out of my open-mouthed, fascinated gaze, took off like a flash of lightning, and, running past him, fled down the stairs and to the office to retrieve my camera. By the time I made it back to the stairs, he was sitting there near the bottom, apparently waiting for me.

“Can I take your picture?” I whispered, in the dark.

He nodded, keeping his head down.


Then he stood up…


and shuffled into our bed, where we all spent the rest of the night snuggled close together, him, me, his Papa, and his lightsaber.

It was the first time I’ve ever slept with Emperor Palpatine…or anyone from Star Wars, for that matter.


It wasn’t as creepy as I thought it would be.

But one thing is sure. If it weren’t for these pictures, I would be certain this had all been a dream…

Holy Week (3).

On Easter Sunday morning, our church congregated a bit early to share breakfast together, forgoing our regular Sunday School classes for one joint class following our potluck meal.

Brother Ralph, our retried missionary from Tanzania, led us in study, and opened the class with a question: “Would anyone like to share a memorable Easter?”

A few shared funny stories, and sweet memories of years gone by, and then Ralph told us what Easter had been like in Tanzania…

It was the biggest holiday of the year, he said, and the celebration lasted for FOUR days.

“Wow…” I thought to myself, “four days! That would be amazing…”

But then I started doing a little mental calculating, and realized that WE had spent four days celebrating Easter this year, and I had to thank God on the spot for working in us, even when we aren’t being intentionally…well, intentional.

Because, Easter, in the past 3 years alone, has been transformed into one of the most substantive weeks of our year, and I kid you not when I confess that I had little to do with it. We’ve just kind of naturally followed the Spirit’s leading, and the result has been eye-opening and all kinds of wonderful, to say the least. I love that about the Spirit of God, condescending to work in you when you never would have changed a thing in the first place!

And so, very quickly and with few words (and lots of pictures), I thought I would share how our 4-day celebration is starting to look. I do so mostly for those of you just starting out in this whole family living stuff, in the hopes that you will glean inspiration for shaping your traditions sooner rather than later…

but with the following disclaimer: I am in no way an expert and none of my parenting endeavors have been proven successful – my oldest child is 6! My kids are mostly still heathens, I am still learning to fall out of love with materialism, and I have no reason to believe that in the next 3 years, our Easter “traditions” will not change as much as they have in these past 3 years. For all I know, in 2016, we will no longer be doing any of the things we are doing now!

But this is where God has us now, and this is working for us now, and we are so pleased with it. For now.

Now…let’s get started.

{Oh, and up there when I said I would do this very quickly and with few words? I changed my mind. I can’t do anything on the blogosphere with few words…but then, you already knew that, didn’t you?}

Day 1: As I’ve shared in the past, to commemorate Good Friday, we all dress in black and spend the day together, cooking, reading, playing, singing hymns…it is a solemn and sweet day, and to try to express the joint gravity and joy of this holy day to our very young children, I had them take a happy picture (Gideon was supposed to be smiling!)…


and a sad picture…


Miss Sunday took hers a little far, though, and wept and mourned…


but…you get the point. We rejoice in the sacrifice that was made on our behalf! But we cry over our sin and that we would choose death and destruction everytime without the work of Christ.

And to further instill these truths into my children’s hearts, I put away all their toys and only allowed them to play with the bones of dead animals.


Just kidding. That just happened, and I thought it was funny and ironic so I took a picture. All the toys are still on the porch.

And we don’t usually play with skulls.

Just sometimes.

Moooo-ving on, that night, we met with our church family for a Good Friday service and communion. Rebekah so longingly gazed at “the Lord’s feast” (as she has dubbed it) and said “why is it taking me so long to grow up?! Can I take the Lord’s feast when I am 26?!” To which Gideon replied, “You can’t take the feast until your heart’s fixed! Your heart’s not fixed.” To which Rebekah cried and cried.

(This story was topped by Amy’s, whose 3-year old daughter, Kate, yelled out during their Good Friday service, “I want to drink Jesus’ blood!!”)


We followed this service by a churchwide meal at our friends Zac and Chrissy’s house. What a sweet, sweet night, enjoying the bounty of brotherhood and fellowship on the day our sin was atoned for.

Day 2: The next day  (Saturday) was spent making Hot Cross buns and, after naptime, the children made “good news” pictures saying “Jesus is alive!” Once everything was finished, we strolled down our street and delivered the buns and pictures to our neighbors. This sort of just happened at the last minute, but it will definitely be something we do every year now.





When we came home, we sat in the living room floor and ate as many Hot Cross buns as our tummies could hold and read the Easter story together before singing some of our favorite hymns. This was one of the best days I’ve ever spent with my little family. I had been wondering what to do on this empty day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and God so graciously took care of that for me, in a sweet and simple way that just bowled me over.


Day 3: Like I mentioned earlier, the next morning – HAPPY EASTER! – we met with our church family for a potluck breakfast, followed by a group Sunday School class, followed by worship. I’m speechless when it comes to this morning spent with this group of people I would have little in common with were it not for the blood of Jesus that binds us together…for eternity! Because of Him, we can be one, and we can point the world around us to the cross by our love for one another. That’s too beautiful, don’t you think?


After that, we went to an amazing Easter picnic and egg hunt at my Mama’s house (I will share more on this in the future) where we spent the day with family and friends, enjoying love, delicious food, our freedom, our hope, and some truly beautiful Spring weather…





This picture that I snapped of Rebekah on our egg hunt in the woods says it all…she was just sitting there by a tree with a happy little smile on her face. My heart felt exactly the same way.


oh, and we finally colored some eggs, just for fun!


Day 4: And the next morning (Monday), we finished up our week with a “Life Abundant” party. This party is my way of utilizing those fun Easter traditions I grew up with, but in a way that doesn’t interfere with our Holy Week observations, rather, that works with them fluidly and comprehensively.

It was a really fun morning with our children, eating a special breakfast as a family, giving them Spring gifts and candy, reading Spring and Easter books, and hunting eggs in our backyard. And it’s funny…I’ve struggled over how to  fit “the Easter Bunny” (a truly special old friend of mine) into our celebration…but guess what? He didn’t even come up in our conversation this year. The baskets were set out, just like normal, but the kids rightly assumed they were from us. And, in accordance with all we told our kids that week, we shared with them that the purpose of this party was to celebrate our new life, and that Jesus truly is ALIVE! We also told them that, just because we follow Jesus, doesn’t mean life will always be easy and that we will get “stuff” like Easter baskets full of candy…but that if we do receive any blessings, they are from Him, and that we are free to celebrate and enjoy life as a family because of what He did on the cross. This was a day of rejoicing. Of living. Of enjoying life and life abundant.








As an adult, it has bugged me that I always gave Christmas all of my time and thought and, by my actions, made it out to be so much more awesome and important than Easter, but, by the grace of God, that is beginning to change for us, and Easter is becoming the crowning week of our year.

God is truly good.

Easter is the BEST.

Oh…and Jesus IS alive!


Do you have any traditions to share with our expectant mothers, young families, or anyone looking to make their Easter more meaningful? Even if you have shared over at the facebook page, please share again. We’d all love to hear from you!

A Letter To My Children (to read in the year 2030)

Dear children…

Did you know that before you were born all I thought about was myself and my beautiful hair, but after you were born I would have shaved my head if you needed me to?

Did you know that when you asked me questions and I answered them, I usually had no idea what I was talking about?

Did you know that when I made you eat your green beans against your will and seemed mean and strict and unfeeling, I was just desperate for your body to get any amount of nutrients because you hadn’t eaten a vegetable in 8 days?

Did you know that, even though I was your Mama, I was afraid of the dark, too? And tornadoes. And scorpions. And…lots of stuff, really. But I tried to be brave for you.

Did you know that a very large piece of my heart sits on top of your head and walks around with you wherever you go? Even in this grand year of 2030?

Did you know that I liked to watch you when you didn’t know I was looking and study every curve and line of your face, sometimes while you were sleeping, sometimes while you were watching TV, sometimes when you were coloring? The Bible is right. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I know it full well.

Did you know that I kissed your clothes as I folded them? (when I wasn’t cursing the laundry…)

Did you know I always cried when I put your outgrown clothes in the attic? Every time.

Did you  know I always cried the night before your birthday? Every year.

Did you know that I really didn’t care if you played sports or knew lots of poems or had the longest eyelashes…I just loved you and my favorite thing about you was that you were mine. You didn’t have to do anything to earn my love. It was your birthright, from Day 1.

Did you know that it made me pray and sometimes cry when you didn’t get along because I didn’t want you to waste precious years being selfish when you could be happier being nice?

Did you know that when I was grouchy with you I always felt conflicted on the inside? I couldn’t be happy in my grouchiness against you…it didn’t sit right with me, and so I worked really hard to get over it and enjoy you.

Did you know that I often prayed that you would never become a ventriloquist? But mostly, I prayed that you would follow hard after God, that you would love Him more than I did, and that you would sin less than I did. And that you would never be a ventriloquist. I feel like this cannot be said enough.

Did you know that I rarely let you walk by me without at least trying to reach out and pull you into my lap? I lived for the times you consented and breathed in your scent and covered your hair with kisses as long as you would let me.

Did you know that I don’t know how I’m going to survive having you grow up? Seriously. If you go to college or get married and leave me, I’ll probably be dead by the time you read this.

Did you know that, in caring for you, I have found more fulfillment than I ever thought possible? Diamonds and fame and wealth are nothing with you under my wings. Nothing.

Did you have any idea that, when I said silly things like “I love you to the moon and back and all the way to heaven” that words were actually failing me? Words don’t exist when it comes to my love for you.

Did you know that God has used you to help me grow? I have never needed Him more or prayed to Him more or praised Him more or thanked Him more or confessed my failings more. He knew I needed you in order to know Him better.

Did you ever stop to consider how many times you got poop on my hand? Too many times to count. Just thought you should know.

Did you know that, when I lectured you and made long speeches about your behavior, I was kind of making it up as I went along and sometimes I thought I sounded ridiculous but had to keep going so you would think I was scary? It was all an act. I was just trying to sound like a Mom.

Did you also know that everytime I lectured you, I felt like such a hypocrite, because everything you did on the outside was something I still struggled with on the inside?

Did you know that, even though you were tiny and young, you ministered to me so many times, and that when my heart was sad, your sweet hugs and your childish ways lifted me up?

And did you know that you made me feel like the most beautiful and talented and beloved woman in the world? When I made your eyes light up, I felt like a success. And you made me feel like a success almost every day.

I just wanted to say thank you, for all of it.

I love you forever,



To my beloved readers, if there are any ventriloquists in the house, my apologies. I meant no offense. But I’m glad you’re not my kid. Your puppets scare me.

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a mother's love for her children

How Boys Play in the Snow…How Girls Play in the Snow

I don’t want to get in trouble for making generalizations, but I couldn’t help but notice something as I went through all of our snow pictures yesterday…

I’ll just mostly let the pictures do the talking.


How Boys Play in the Snow

Make  a Snowman…


then tackle it.


OR make a Snowman…


then eat it.

(I don’t understand. It’s so…dirty! Boys are weird!!).


Snowballs fights are fun…


and the bigger the snowball, the better!!


When you run out of things to do, I don’t know…you could roll up a big snow-wheel…


and then you could, like, put it on top of each other.


and long after everyone else has gone inside, it’s still fun to just hang out in your Winter Wonderland…


eatin’ dirty snow and enjoyin’ the great outdoors.



How Girls Play in the Snow

Make a pristine and beautiful snowwoman and give her matching accessories…

(these are my beautiful nieces, Anna and Abigail! Love you, girls!!)


Or make heavenly snow angels with your sisters.

(and that’s little Kate there on the left. Love you, Katerbelle!)


Or pretend that you are a snow ballerina, dancing and twirling on the ice.


You get so excited to have a snowball fight with your brother…


until you (immediately) get hit in the face.


Snowball fight over.

(we have ALL been here, have we not, ladies?)


In fact, snow play over. Get me a blanket. I’m done.


And when all else fails and you have fully realized how miserably cold and wet it is outside…

(I know I used this photo yesterday, but I think it deserves to be seen over and over again).


Go inside where it is warm and read a book by the fire.



But thankfully, whether you’re a boy or a girl, and whether you play like a weirdo or a perfectly normal person, at the end of the day, when the snowball fights are over, and the tears are forgotten (and the dirty snow has somehow been digested), I’m glad we can all agree on on thing…

Hot Chocolate.

Heavy on the marshmallows.


Life is Nuts. Snow is Pretty.

Two weeks ago, I was terrified in the walk-in clinic waiting room.

One week ago, I thought I was dying from first trimester misery.

Three days ago, I felt like a new woman when I joined once more with my church family.

Yesterday, I had my second unexpected wave of internet “fame” this year after the author Jen Hatmaker shared my social media etiquette post and my site stats immediately exploded.

Last night, I didn’t need to wear a coat it was so nice.

And this morning, I woke up to…


That’s a picture of my backyard from my bedroom window.

All that to say, life is absolutely nuts, and you just never know what a day is going to bring.

But as we have observed together over the past two years on this blog, no matter what a day brings, and no matter what you’re going through, there is a level of beauty and abundance when life is lived according to the Word of God and when you are covered by the blood and grace of Jesus Christ.

Especially on snow days.

Miss Sunday and I woke up slowly this morning after one of the craziest nights of sleep our family has ever endured experienced. After hearing her bare feet patter out of my room (Miss Sunday does not pitter) and into the completely windowed laundry room, I heard her gasp.

“Mom!” she reverently breathed. “It’s snowing!!”

I let this knowledge sink into my very fuzzy and sleepy brain. They had forecasted snow. But I never believed it would actually happen…

We had been waiting for this moment for two long years, as forecast after forecast has left my kids disappointed, none greater than the Christmas Day powdering we were almost certainly supposed to receive. (We didn’t).

Miss Sunday had been a wee little tyke the last time she had really played in the snow, and I had looked forward to this moment all winter.

Although I will admit, my excitment was immediately tempered by the thought that I would be spending the next two hours or so dressing and undressing three children and mopping up melted snow from my entryway. But this is motherhood. I should have gotten over these things long ago.

After I peeled the cobwebs out of my brain and eyeballs, Gid, Sunday and I bounded up the stairs to retrieve Baby Betsie from her crib. I don’t know who was more atwitter about introducing her to the white world that awaited her, but I’m pretty sure it was the big, pregnant lady with the frizzy hair (who has a  heart of gold, by the way). Standing in front of the large double window in their nursery, all four of us ooohed and aaahed, and Gideon noted that “God must have decided to do something nice for us since we pray to Him all the time.”

“He must have!” I agreed. “We should thank Him.”

“Thank you, God!” Gideon yelled out the window.

“Thank you, God!” his sister copied, before adding, “I LOVE you!”

One cup of coffee and a “Peppa Pig” episode later we were scrambling around like crazy people, flinging hats and mittens and scarves and long johns all over the place in our haste to be ready to play by the time Papa made it up the hill to watch us. I had one driving motivation: we had to make it out there before the fat flakes tapered off or I would be a miserable failure of a mother who cares more about coffee than children.

And by jove…we succeeded!

Once ready, I surveyed my handiwork.

Be still my heart.

Do you remember days like this? Getting all bundled up with your siblings? Being so excited that God sent you a gift from the sky? Having nothing else on your entire horizon except enjoying what was right in front of your face?

Sweet, precious childhood. My favorite of all created things.


It was the most perfect snow I’ve ever seen, the kind that makes building snowmen and creating snowballs as easy as pie. And the giant, fluffly flakes that fell down as my kids played were like something out of Narnia.

If only we had a lamppost and a Faun.

Oh, well. Maybe next year.


Miss Sunday approved of her new winter playground.


And Baby Betsie reached up in wonder to touch the flakes that were landing gently onto our porch…


before swiftly deciding that, just like she doesn’t care for swimming pools and sprinklers, she doesn’t care for snow.


In fact, she hates it.


But she loves her Papa.


As unique and particular are the difficulties of life in the ministry, so are the perks, one of which being that Papa can come play in the snow with us while the time is right.

He may have to work on Saturday now, but…how could we have missed this morning with him by our side?

(Please excuse the dirty, grouchy snowman who is still staring at me through our office window. I think he wants to kill me…).


I will share more funny things about our playtime tomorrow, but for now, I’ll conclude with this: by the time they had shucked all their wet clothes and only long john bottoms remained, my eldest children were wound up. Drinking hot chocolate and eating grilled cheese sandwiches right in front of the fireplace topped off what must have been to them the perfect morning…


And If they don’t fully realize it now, they will. The only reason we have days like this is because God is good and His mercy endures forever.

We know who butters our bread…

and who sends us our snow.

Thank you, God, for all of it.


And I’d like to give a hearty “welcome!” to everyone who joined up with Mrs. Gore’s Diary yesterday! Your kind words and comments just absolutely made my day, and I am so very glad to have you along.


Want to read about more of our snow adventures? Here is one of my first (and favorite) posts: How to Survive When Snowbound

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Love is in the air…


Our house is ready…


Papa is ready…


Gideon is ready…


Miss Sunday is ready…


and Baby Betsie is ready!


and although this week has been nothing like I planned, I am so ready to spend some time with my family and enjoy one of my favorite days of the year.

And I’d be so happy if you’d consider this your first Valentine of the day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear friends, from Mrs. Gore and family. No matter where you are in life (or how you feel about Valentine’s Day!) I hope your day is filled with the sweet contentment of being partakers of life and life abundant.


Today, our life abundant will include lots of sprinkles, chocolate, and sweet nothings, which is exactly why I love Valentine’s Day so very, very much.

Seeing is My Favorite.

I love – seriously, love – those moments when I SEE my children and marvel at them for a bit.

You know what I mean, don’t you?

Most of our days are spent doing what families do, and my mind is just on autopilot and I love and hug and kiss my kids without dwelling on or digesting the emotions that I feel for them.

But then some days, I see them. My mind, even for a matter of minutes, belongs to them. I meditate on them, and who they are, and how God made them, and my heart consequently sings with gratitude and praise.

I don’t know if you can plan clarity like that, or if it just a gift of grace that lands unexpectedly in your lap; regardless, I’m a pretty big fan.

It happened to me just yesterday.

Gid and Rebekah were upstairs playing (they’ve been thick as thieves lately), and it was just me and Betsie on the first floor.

She toddled over to where I sat in our large wingback chair and, resting her chin on my knee, peered up at me through her ever-scraggly bangs. Her hair has good intentions right after bathtime and curls so lovelylike all over her head, but then her orneriness eventually comes eeking back out and takes her curls and her neatness right out of her system, leaving a wild ‘do that actually suits her perfectly.

“I love your face.” I said to her, in my mind.

“Boo’?” she asked me.

“Yes, I’ll read you a book!” I answered, glad to feel free for the moment to do that very thing.

I watched her toddle resolutely through the living room and to the office/schoolroom, stopping in front of the iron and wood bookshelf that holds most of our children’s collection of books. She squatted down into her typical aborigine pose and began rifling through the Little Golden Books that are stored in a basket under the lowest rack of the bookshelf.

I enjoyed two things about this moment:

1. She was enjoying the very books that I laid out for her in a spot that was accessible to her; it is just kind of fulfilling to see your children living in their own house, in the way you intended for them to live. “I put those there for you!” I thought to myself, happy, for the moment, to be a homemaker, and

2. I still consider Betsie my eternal baby – something about the way she moves and speaks and acts is so…baby…but I had to admire her pluck and maturity as she flipped through the scads of books to find the ones she wanted. Not just any book would suit her fancy, and this surprised me. Even Baby Betsie’s grow up, I suppose.

You may or may not care, but her book selections were almost all centered around farm life and/or dogs. “How interesting…” I thought, “Baby Betsie is a fan of farms! I had no idea.”

Anyhow, she would find the perfect book, stand quickly back up, pitter-patter back to where I was sitting in my chair, hold her arms up to be brought into my lap, and, once situated, would gesture for the covers next to us. I would cover us both up, and set in to “read” (a.k.a condense…some of those Little Golden Books are loooong. I’m looking at you “Poky Little Puppy”), and I was so delighted by her frequent interjections. I would say the animal’s names and she would make whatever noises she decided they made, and although she did well for most of the animals, “mooing” for the cows and “oinking” for the pigs, she tapered off near the end, giving a “chick chick” for the chicks and a “duck duck” for the ducks.

You know, typical precious/hilarious baby stuff that just cracks us Mamas up while our friends and family humor us with sympathy smiles and laughs.

But I swear, it was hilarious. And utterly precious. Don’t you think so, too? I knew you did.

But the best thing is, while the world whirled on outside of our walls with all of its business and entertainment and who-knows-what, Betsie and I were sitting still in a chair in our living room, and our were hearts bonding and, for that sweet half hour in the uninterrupted quiet of our home, our life was as perfect as it could be…

I saw her.

And I can’t be sure, but…I think she saw me, too.

The Best Days…

The best days are not necessarily holidays or Christmas-bonus days or personal achievement days.

They are the days when you wake up in January to 70-degree weather. You have your husband open the bedroom windows before he goes to the shower and you lay in your bed for a near hour just drinking in the fresh, balmy air that shoots a steady breeze right across your pillows.

They are the days when you make yourself a breakfast tray and sit in your bed with the windows still open, slowly drinking your coffee and orange juice and marveling over how beautiful an ordinary day can be.


They are the days when your Princess lays on her fluffy pillow bed nearby, gazing out at her Kingdom and mirroring your own appreciation for nature and fresh air. “Doing good, Mudder?” she regally asks as you continue to sip your coffee. “Doing REALLY good,” you answer, thinking that only the addition of a ladies’ maid could make this morning better. (Cause somebody’s got to fix that hair…)


They are the days when you dress how you want and you spend the hours how you want, and the only thing you need is a good friend to give you a push or two.




They are the days when you sit on the front porch and watch your greatest blessings, and you think you might just be tasting Eden…





You thank God all day for the reminder of what life should be like, and you pray over your children, yearning for the day when all of you will live, and work, and play there forever. Together.


I think we should have more days like this, don’t you?…

(And I mean that).

December Party Ideas

I’m going to make this post pretty snappy, because time’s a’wastin’!

We had 2 kid parties last year that were so much fun, and there is still time for you to have one of your own before December zooms by:

1. On 11-11-11, my Mom had all the kids out for a weenie roast in the woods. The components: a) At 11:11 a.m., we threw confetti in the air. b) We took a group picture with printed off (and then framed) number 11’s, and c) Mom gave each child $11.11 to spend on someone else. (11-11-11 also happened to fall on Veteran’s Day, so this party had a patriotic theme to it).

All that to say, there is still time for you to plan a 12-12-12 party at 12:12!! It doesn’t have to be fancy, and could require very little thought, but don’t miss this VERY last opportunity to commemorate all those matching numbers. Why is this so important? I have no idea. It just feels super special.

11-11-11 party

2. And about a week-and-a-half before Christmas, Mama had the kids back over for a baking party. I loved this party because she actually let the kids do almost all of the baking and decorating, and she used it to help them learn to serve others. As the cookies were cooling, the children were instructed to decorate paper sacks and write little cards for some of the members of our church. Then we all loaded up into a church van and made cookie deliveries. We also sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” at each house. Take a look:












I won’t mention what happened about halfway through our deliveries, but…you can read about how Miss Sunday gruesomely smashed her finger and had to be rushed to the hospital (and later have surgery) here: Mrs. Gore has a DAY

Still…this was a truly special day and one of my favorite parties ever, no bells and whistles and very others-oriented. I want to do more of this with my kids.

Let me know if you decide to try either of these “parties” and how they turn out! And please forgive me if there were any typing or spelling errors in this post – I’m in THAT big of a hurry and had to get this published (without editing) so you would have time to plan your 12-12-12 party. Spit-spot!! Off you go!