My Sunday Best


Back to blogging!  My husband is away for two weeks, starting another Masters program with an intensive 6 credit session!  So, my evenings are free and what better way to get back into blogging than with a link-up!  Joining Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best, and hoping to post regularly again.  So I’m starting the weekly count again, although I have a few past posts in this category.

We moved seven weeks ago, and our new church is both great, and an adjustment!  The priests are all reverent and good homilists, but the church is more casual than our last parish, with no Latin.  Besides, we’d been going regularly to the Extraordinary Form Low Mass, which is very quiet, and I miss the silence.  Still, the parish is very large with lots of ministries, and I’m hopeful we will find the right groups to be involved with!  If by chance you read this and you go to St. Mary’s in Fredericksburg, I’d love to connect with you!

I have to give my daughter credit for finally getting a Sunday Best picture.  There are gorgeous flowering trees outside of church, as well as flower beds, and she asked to take a picture with the flowers.  You can’t really see them, but it was a cute picture of all us girls!  This skirt is the first LulaRoe I ever picked out, and I love it!  I think of it as my Lady of Guadalupe skirt, although it’s technically covered in flowers, not stars.

If you notice Theresa’s bangs look rather short, that’s because she decided to give herself a haircut this morning!

The trim I gave her looks a but silly, but I guess it fits her!

On a reflective note, the readings today reminded me of how I’m trying to plow, water, and rejuvenate the soil of my soul.  I’ve been reading a new book out called Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life.   Right now, for me, its amazing!  Just what a need to hear and reflect on and work on, in terms of seeking God’s will for my life and learning to cultivate and thrive in the life I’ve been given.  The author relies on a lot of garden analogies, and also says she learned many of these lessons from having a garden, and so today’s readings really spoke to me.

What I took away today was that I need, through God’s grace, to cultivate the soil of my soul and heart and mind to that it is the “good soil.”  And not only does the word need to fall on good soil, but the Word itself creates the good soil!  Finally, I loved what our pastor said about the harvest: the “hundredfold” harvest Christ speaks of is a miracle, more than those seeds would produce on their own.

Maybe I’ll write more about this book, definitely a new house post in the works!  Until next week!


Theresa Rose, age 3


A beautiful smile.

Happy birthday to my Rosie Roo.  My precious third daughter turned three today, and I’m so proud of this sweet little girl.  She is different from her older and younger sisters, and its amazing to watch her and wonder what is going on in her little head.  Although she talked sooner and better than Grace, she is much more quiet and reflective.  I suspect she is partially melancholic.  For the first time, I think I understand why temperment books describe melancholic children as having “old souls.”  Often, she seems much older that just turned three, and she’s definitely more serious that her sisters.  But she also has a very silly, spunky side, and will run and jump (often on Daddy!) and laugh and giggle and give big hugs.

So far, Theresa has been our only child who resembles me.  Her brown eyes and hair and sweet pointed chin look a lot like me or my sister when we were little.  But her brown eyes are wide and clear, like her Daddy’s.  Theresa has always been the most independent little girl, playing well and happily by herself even before she could crawl.  She loves her baby dolls, blankets, and finding and gathering all sorts of things, then leaving them in piles around the house.  Her favorite drop spots being the middle of my kitchen and her bed.


Dressed up and carrying a baby doll.

Theresa goes here and there around the house and yard, wandering around the yard or swinging by herself on the swing set.  When she visits other people’s houses, she often finds a spot by herself to play there too.  She can sit and amuse herself for hours, and has a short attention span for books, but she still will rarely sit still to watch TV or a movie.  I suspect she has her own world in her head, and doesn’t need to see one playing out on a screen.


First haircut from Ms. Shoanna.

Theresa loves babies.  Whether she sees a picture, a baby in an advertisement, or whether we’re at the store, she will always spot the babies and want to go see them.  She is generally gentle with babies, and now that her own baby sister is big enough to play, loves hugging and coddling her.  Of course, she is a good mommy to her baby dolls, and loves putting them to bed, nursing them, and singing to them.


Although Theresa likes to play by herself, she also spends a lot of time playing with her sisters.  They do argue and clash quite a bit, largely because Theresa has a hard time communicating to her big sister that she needs space, and because her little sister is always grabbing stuff.  However, many days Theresa and Grace will get busy playing together for long periods of time.  They love the swing set in the new backyard, and recently have been making “tents” in their bunk bed and in their playhouse, every day.  Yesterday I went outside, and was told they had a “stable” and Theresa was Joseph.  So I guessed Grace was Mother Mary and the doll was Baby Jesus.

This summer, there has been no doubt that Theresa loves the water! She enjoys jumping and splashing in the waves, playing in the sand, and walking out into the gentle surf.  At the pool, she prefers to not wear a floatie, even if it means dunking under and getting her head wet sometimes.  She likes jumping off  the side and going down little slides.  Happily, she has very little fear of the water and I wonder if she will learn to swim before Gracie (hope to get them both in swim lessons this fall).

Most of the time, Theresa is a great eater, and we call her the “stomach”!  If asked, she’ll say her favorite food is chocolate, but she also loves fruit and pasta, but will eat just about anything.  She will occasionally help with baking, and especially likes to lick spoons!  Sometimes, she will help sweep or clean up, but this takes a good bit of prompting.  Theresa is also a night owl.  While she hasn’t napped regularly in a year, she will still fall asleep in the car or when she is very tired.  But then, she can’t fall asleep.  Even on most nights, she takes awhile to toss and turn before drifting off, while Grace lays her head down and goes right to sleep.  Sometimes, Theresa will cover her bed with books she gets out to look at, probably falling asleep an hour after we leave her room.  On the flip side, she’s the only one who sleeps in!  If not woken up by a sister, Theresa will sleep until 8 or 9, and if she comes into bed with me, that’s the only time of day she is really snugly.IMG_5313

She communicates much better at this age than her older sister did, which has been wonderful for me to hear her little words and also be able to communicate better with her! I was very excited to be able to do the “Birthday Quiz” with Theresa, and actually get answers!  (Borrowed this from Rosie at A Blog for My Mom.)

1. What is your favorite color?    Rainbow.

2. What is your favorite toy?    Penguin, baby doll.

3. What is your favorite fruit?   Strawberries.

4. What is your favorite television show?   Tinkerbell.

5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?   Nut-ting! (Nothing) (Then she started answering nothing to everything, so we finished later 🙂

6. What is your favorite outfit?    The pink dress she is wearing, that she picked out this morning.

7. What is your favorite game?  Birthday.

8. What is your favorite snack?   Chocolate.

9. What is your favorite animal?  Cat.


10. What is your favorite song?  *Vocalizes at a high pitch*

11. What is your favorite book?  Baby books.

12. Who is your best friend?  Daddy

13. What is your favorite cereal?  Joes Os

14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?  Play with her new water table.

15. What is your favorite drink?    Water.

16. What is your favorite holiday?  Easter.

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?   Baby doll.

18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?   Joe-joes and oatmeal.

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?   Nothing.

20. What do you want to be when you grow up?  Like Daddy.

Bonus: What’s your favorite vacation place?  Outside.


Of all my children, Theresa sort of fascinates me the most.  I often wonder what she is thinking or pretending.  Although she looks like me, I think she is quite unlike me, and I hope that I can be a good mom to her and treat her with a great deal of love and understanding.  Because she is smart and quick and clever, its so easy to think of her as older that she actually is, and underneath her independence, I know she is also sensitive.  When she smiles, I see a dear, sweet soul, one who will hopefully grow into a beautiful and smart girl.  I love you, my daughter.



Fatima and Mothers’ Day

Guest Post!  Special post written by my husband in honor of the 100th anniversary of the first Marian apparition at Fatima. 

I have wanted to write this post ever since I saw a particular Scripture passage this week, in a presentation some of my students did on the Fourth Commandment.  I have surely read it before, but in light of current situations, I thought it particularly apropos for this time to reflect on it, and to offer some considerations for myself especially, and for anybody else who might happen upon it.   I read this quote, spoken by Jesus Christ Himself, and I immediately feel the need to offer reparation for the many times this commandment of Christ is violated.  Here is the quote: “For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die.’”  This is taken from Matthew 15:4, spoken by Jesus Christ, and in honesty it cuts me to the heart.

I write this on the vigil of the great centenary feast of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, when she appeared 100 years ago to three shepherd children in Portugal: Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco.  I also write this two days prior to the great American secular and quasi-religious holiday of Mother’s Day.  Here, we have the Mother of God appearing to three lowly shepherds, on the same weekend we ought to be honoring all mothers, especially our own.  It is quite beautiful that this year they fall in conjunction with each other, but it causes one to step back and reflect on the consequences of them falling in conjunction.  Let us begin this examination.

In the great Council of Ephesus in 431AD, the Church articulated what She has understand implicitly from the Resurrection of Christ, that Jesus, in order to be fully God and fully man and a whole, unified person, must have received His humanity from another human.  But at the same time, he is fully God and fully man, not simply half God and half man.  We cannot distinguish a merely human part of Jesus and a merely divine part of Jesus.  He is fully man, and fully God, and so Mary is the Mother of God.  Please bear with me with these theological distinctions.  If this is confusing, join the club, and I invite you to read the documents from the Council of Ephesus for more information.  This is not the main point of my little writing here.  I just wanted to note that the title Mother of God has been in existence as an official title of Mary in the Holy Church for almost 1,600 years, which is a long time.

It may be obvious to some, but probably not to others, but on Mother’s Day we honor our mothers.  This includes giving gifts to our moms, spending time with her, taking her to brunch, and hopefully Church before that, and just making it generally a special day for her.  I am the first to accuse myself of not being the best with Mother’s Day.  I have forgotten, I sometimes give lackluster gifts, and I often can’t do the simple nice thing of waking up with the kids in the morning, which my wife would greatly appreciate.

It is sad though, that in many instances, mom just is not honored by her children.  She is neglected, verbally and psychologically abused, her boundaries violated, and children often walk all over her, similar to what they do every other day of the year.  We have in society lost respect for the great dignity of motherhood and what it brings to society.  It brings care, gentleness, kindness, and we respond with evil, saying with our actions that her dignity is not worth even a day of respect.  This is essentially what children, especially grown children, say to their mothers when they ignore and treat them like it is every other day of the year.

Regarding this, we can obviously point to attacks in society on motherhood.  This constant assault against the beauty of this vocation has included society’s infatuation for abortion on demand, which cheapens society’s overall respect to mothers.  It includes society’s demand on mothers to keep up with the neighbors, to keep house, to take care of kids, all while somehow juggling a full time job.  As a man, I know that if I tried to juggle everything, that everything would come crashing down.  Kudos to mothers who try their best to make it work on a daily basis!

Not everybody obviously treats their mothers horribly or even bad.  Many people love their mamma and do some really nice things for them.  And this is fantastic.  But for those who ignore, neglect, abuse, and take advantage of their mothers in some way,  take heed of the warning of Christ:  “He who speaks ill of mother and father will surely be put to death.”  No relationship is perfect.  Far from it.  But in no condition of the relationship between parents and child should the child resort to speaking, or acting, in a manner in direct opposition to the virtue of Charity.  Woe to that person, for they are in danger of their soul being lost.

Now, I know this might feel a little fire and brimstone.  The order of charity directs all, and one should always tend towards mercy.  In fact, one of the spiritual works of mercy is actually to admonish, or correct the sinner.  We would be doing an injustice if we become complacent when we see another sinning.  We must act for the good of that person and for the good of their soul.  Charity is willing the good of the other, and sometimes charity can take the form of tough love.

This ties into Saturday’s feast of Our Lady of Fatima.  When Our Lady of Fatima appeared over a six month period, she asked for three things in general from the children, and everybody else, if there is to be peace.  Consider the historical perspective: on May 13, 1917, Europe was in the ravages of the Great War, the Soviet Revolution in Russia was in its infancy, and many people around the world were suffering as a result.  Our Lady of Fatima predicted an even more terrible war and a destructive 20th century if people did not heed her warning to turn to her Son Jesus Christ, to pray the Rosary for the salvation of souls, and to offer reparation for those in danger of hell as a result of their actions on earth.  To support this last claim, the children of Fatima were even given a vision of hell and saw a great many souls there suffering.  It is here that our Lady called them to pray even harder for those in spiritual danger the prayer after the decades of the Rosary: “Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell.  Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of they mercy.”  People are in danger of spiritual death as a direct result of their actions that destroy the virtue of charity in their souls.  The third request was that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, and if this did not happen, that Russia would spread its lies across the world, that the pope would suffer, and that a great many martyrs would be created.  So our Lady asks for three things: reparation, prayer, and consecration.

Our Lady of Fatima told us the way to peace is through these things.  And these things did not generally happen after the apparitions of 1917.  Russia was not consecrated to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.  Atheism rose, and while the Rosary was prayed, many simply did not heed the call to pray it.  So, what the world got was exactly what Our Lady predicted.  Russian Soviets spread heresies around the world, destroying the Catholic Church wherever they went.  St. John Paul II, on May 13, 1981, at even the same time as the vision in 1917 (5PM), was shot by a would be assassin and miraculously survived, and the 20th Century saw more martyrdoms than any other century in history.  And why is this?  Because we did not listen to our mother.  We did not heed her warnings.

Like our earthly mother, Mary knows what is best for us.  What is best for us is Jesus Christ, and communion with Him on this earth in the Holy Mass, which points the way to the eternal Mass celebrated in Heaven, which is the Christian’s destiny.  Mary reiterates the call for every Christian: to seek the heart of Jesus.  Mary points the way.  She points the way through the Christian’s call to repent of their sins, direct their prayers to Jesus through Mary, and to consecrate the world to her Immaculate Heart, which leads the whole world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Additionally, we can consecrate our own hearts to Jesus through Mary, so that, like Mary, we may bring Christ into our world.

This is what it means to honor your father and your mother, to not speak ill of them.  It means to listen to them, learn from them, and hopefully trust them.  Our earthly mother is not perfect.  Our heavenly mother is, as far as a creature can be perfect.  Mary is the model of motherhood, the model of faith in Jesus, and the model for us all striving after the heart of Christ.  When we follow this fourth Commandment, we must remember that Mary is our mother as well, and so honor and devotion should rightly be given to her as to our earthly Mother.

But this goes back to my original rebuke of those who violate the 4th Commandment in such a way as to show dishonor to their mother.  Generally, people ignore the message of Fatima.  They ignore the Mother of Christ.  They consider her unimportant.  There are many books written on Marian doctrine, so I will leave that aside right now, and if you have questions about Mary and Church teaching, I encourage you to read those.  I will just say, however, that I personally believe she is very important.  She does not detract from Jesus, but rather adds in my spiritual life a deep richness that allows me to know the heart of her Son in a way that without her I wouldn’t know.  It pains me that so many people do not know the model of motherhood, Mary, so perhaps this is a reason we don’t always treat our own physical mothers well.

This centenary, let us heed the warnings of Our Lady of Fatima, preparing our hearts to meet Christ, on a daily basis in those around us and in the Holy Eucharist, and as we prepare for the inevitability of every person reading this: our own death.  Pray the Rosary for sinners like me.  Offer sacrifices for the salvation of souls, listen to your earthly and heavenly mothers, and prepare your hearts today for that inevitable encounter with Christ, whether it happens now or after death.  Do not wait.  Amen.

{JEI} New Year or resolutions that don’t involve dieting.

1.  What is one small thing, if you accomplish it in 2017, that will make you feel successful?

A small success would be following through on my 2017 resolutions, which are 1) learn how to bake layer cakes by making one a month 2) making my own bread again and 3) completing the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.  I have reached the conclusion that New Year’s Resolutions like “lose weight” and “eat healthy” or even “pray more,” just set you up for discouragement.  These things are lifelong struggles that we all continually work at.  And depending on our circumstances and season of life, we’ll have varying rates of success at improving our mastery of these things.  So my New Year goals have become fun little challenges to improve or enjoy a small area of life.


Just to briefly outline the goals, in an effort to hold myself accountable!

1) Baking layer cakes.  I love to bake, and I’m proficient in a number of recipes.  But layer cakes intimidate me.  The only kinds I’ve made with moderate success are carrot cake and German chocolate cake.  So I’m choosing a special day each month and a different cake to try!  For January, I’ll be making a double chocolate cake for my birthday!

2) Baking bread.  Two years ago, Bobby gave me this book.  I really enjoyed trying the recipes and making bread more regularly.  But then I got pregnant and stopped having the energy.  This winter, I’m opening the book again and I’ve already made two batches!  Hoping to keep fresh bread around.  I hope it will make a good snack for my ever-hungry two year old.


3) This will be the third year I attempt to complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge!  I’m going to do the “fun” list, and my first book this month, the one I choose for the cover, is The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.

2.  Have you picked a “word of the year” or patron saint of the year?

On to the spiritual resolutions for the year!  The word I chose this year is “trust,” with verses from Isaiah 12 and 26: “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid… You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you…Trust in the Lord forever.”  With so many potential changes in our life this year, my need to trust the Lord is very great indeed.  We need to move, a need another job, my husband may start a second masters program, and our daughter will be starting school.  The words “dawn” and “light” have also been recurring for me, and I’m trying to wait and listen to what the Lord is saying to me with those words.

St. Joseph and St. Teresa of Calcutta are my saints for 2017.  St. Joseph because who better to intercede when you’re looking for jobs and houses?   It has been on my heart to read more of the words of Mother Teresa ever since August, when I was reading 33 Days to Morning Glory for my Marian reconsecration on September 8.  The words of Mother Teresa really resounded with me then, and I’ve borrowed a book of her private writings to mediate on.


3.  What are you looking forward to in 2017?

Having a place of our own!  God willing, things will come together so we can purchase a house of our own.  But even if we end up renting for another year, come June we should no longer be renting my parents’ house!  My parents are retiring and moving into our current home this summer (which they bought five years ago in anticipation of retirement).  I’m grateful we’ve had this large house and yard to enjoy for four years, but it has put a strain on our relationship with my parents, and we are very eager to have place of our own.  We also plan to move closer to my husband’s job, hopefully reducing his commute time by at least half (so 40 minutes each way instead of 75 minutes each way!)  But I know I will miss this view.


12 Takes for 2016: Part II

Here’s the July-December photo recap for 2016.


Chillin’ by Nonna and Boppa’s pool.

NYS Museum Historic Carousel

Snow in July!

Cecilia with Fr. Paris

In July we took a trip to New York to visit my parents.  This is where I grew up, but we decided to do some touristy stuff with the kids.  We visited the state capital, including the free NYS Museum.  It had some great kid exhibits and a historic carousel.  We also went to Lake Placid, because Bobby loves Olympic stuff!  We also spent time in the pool and at the lake house of a friend, where we took the big girls canoeing.  At the end of the month, we visited Cecilia’s godfather, Fr. Mike Paris, so he could meet her before traveling to Minnesota to join the Carmelites.


Luray Caverns

Five months old and just so.cute!

Mini golf on a very hot day.

My sunflowers.  The one thing in the garden that really did well.

Our new van!!!!!

Pool time.

August was an all-around busy month!  Bobby and I were in DC a bunch for my job, and our anniversary and Bobby’s birthday are also the start of Bobby’s school year.  But we found time to visit Luray Caverns (the girls really enjoyed it), go mini golfing (luckily no one else was there) and cool off at the community pool a few times.  We also bought a new van, which was a huge excitement for me!  Our old one died in the spring so I’d been without a vehicle, and this new Chrysler Town and Country is just awesome!


Despite having chickens ourselves and cows next door, the girls love farms!

Catholic Women’s Blogging Conference

I just love this picture.

Lots of ups and downs in September.  Started preschool with Grace, visited local farms for the fourth year in a row during the Rappahannock Farm Tour and spent lots of time outside in the still warm weather.  I also attended a local Catholic women’s blogging conference, which was so amazing.  Cecilia came too, but wasn’t so sure about it 😉  And like every year, September 19 found us in Philadelphia, visiting and remembering our first daughter.  Mary Catherine would have been six.


Incredibly hot October day!

We love fall hikes in Shenandoah National Park.

Halloween: kitty and princess.

October was more low-key, with a pleasant rhythm  and fall fun.  We love fall hiking, and the girls had fun going on their first neighborhood trick-or-treat for Halloween.


We voted.  And were stunned and excited by the outcome.

Playing in the leaves.


November started off with an All Saints Day party at church, then the anxiety and excitement of the presidential election! I taught Grace to say “the wicked witch is dead” and Bobby taught her “Donald Trump wins!”  The leaves take awhile to change here, but they finally burst into brilliant colors.  It was a very windy month, though, so not much raking because they all get blown along the fence!  In honor of Grace’s fifth birthday, we went to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, and had a great, albeit cold, day at the park.  There were dozens of little kid rides, which the girls loved, a small zoo, and of course the factory tour and chocolate!


Decorating the tree.  We made the switch to artificial this year…

Christmas card picture 🙂

Merry Christmas!  We actually had a very nice December.  It started with a birthday party for Gracie, with about 25 kids here.  Then a quiet, peaceful Advent and Christmas spent at home.  The girls love decorating and “redecorating” the tree.  We finished off the year at the home of our friends who have four kids, where we played Mario Cart, had a lovely dinner, and left by 7pm.  It was the perfect New Years Eve. Cheers!


12 Takes from 2016: Part I

The year of Our Lord 2016 consisted of many ups and downs.  For myself, my family, and it seems, for many other too.  But every year is like that, right?  Life will never be perfect, and as the saints tell us, we should receive the good and bad as coming from the hands of Jesus and Mary, and be grateful and joyous in every circumstance!  MUCH easier said than done!  My husband and I like to review every month of our year on New Years’ Eve anyway, so I thought I would capture our memories on the blog this year.   (Going through the pictures, I realized I couldn’t limit myself to one a month!)


Snow Cave!  Naturally created when the weight of the snow bent over this bush!

The Big Snow! We got three feet of snow in Virginia and my husband had seven snow days!


Waiting for baby to be born. And we spent St. Valentine’s Day at hospital visiting Bobby’s grandfather.  (He’s 95 and has been in and out of the ICU this year.  But he keeps pulling through!)


Cecilia Anne was born on March 4!  Her pregnancy was rough, but her birth by scheduled c-section went smoothly, and she has been the most wonderful baby!  She had brought so much joy to our lives, and is bouncy, happy, and laughs more than either of the other girls.


Adorned with hair bows and dancing.  This captures Gracie at age 4.

Apparently it was a warm April!

Ceciilia’s Baptism.


In April we started spending lots of time outside in the gorgeous spring weather.  Cecilia was baptized and we bought another 12 baby chicks to add to our flock.


Gala at Bobby’s school.

One of my favorite pictures of Theresa.

So. Much. Attitude.

May was a busy month!  I was working a lot, and so the kids were usually playing outside while I worked on the patio and the baby slept in her seat.  Bobby, Cecilia and I had a wonderful evening at the Gala for Bobby’s school (I wrote about that here).  Bobby planned a special Mothers’ Day outing for us, which included a buffet breakfast and feeding ducks.


Cecilia is unimpressed by her first visit to the beach.

These girls loved the boat ride!

In June we celebrated Fathers’ Day for the second year in a row at the a local beer fest.  We enjoy the micro-brews and there were great activities for the kids too. At the end of June we had our only weekend at the beach this year.  Friends of ours graciously host us at their beautiful beach house in Virginia Beach, and we had a fun and relaxing weekend.  The girls especially enjoyed the indoor pool and hot tub at the house, as well as our ride in our friend’s new boat (we cruised the back waterway, not on the ocean).


My Sunday Best: New Clothes!

Because every post should start with a cute baby picture!

Gaudete! Rejoice! I finally had an outfit today that I was excited to share! I recently posted about how I don’t like my clothes, and on Friday I finally bought some new ones! Here’s my gorgeous Lula Roe Cassie skirt, and a rose top for the liturgical dress win. (The girls all wore pink today too 🙂 

My husband cannot seem to focus the camera or take a flattering picture of me. Grace is getting a camera for Christmas. Maybe she’ll do a better job!

Linking up today with Rosie. Check out her lovely outfit, cute new baby and the other link ups!