Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Get Wired Wednesday

Memorial Day weekend was a bit disappointing for a lot of folks here from the Chicagoland area.  It was gloomy and extremely rainy both Saturday and Sunday.  Monday more than made up for it though, being in the 90s and extremely sunny.  The sky was clear, it was breezy and it was just that kind of day that could make you sit on the grass, under the shade with a cool drink in your hand....well, that is if you could find a dry spot on the ground and not get mud all over you.

Regardless of how it was for you this past weekend, I'm sure most of us had fun times with family and friends, whether it was a well-planned barbecue event with lots of summer fun on the side, or just a quiet and intimate gathering with intelligent conversation just as I did last Sunday night.   

After an extended weekend, I know you're just wishing for next weekend to come much quicker to get that much needed break...again.  Well, let's distract ourselves a bit and try to get wired!  This week, I'm co-hosting the Get Wired Wednesday Blog Hop with Victoria's Voice and Three Boys and an old Lady.  It's an honor to be able to join them this week as a co-host and I do hope that a lot of you will hop with us, have fun and maybe find some inspiration along the way! 

There are no complicated rules for this hop.   All you have to do to join is ---
  • Follow this week's Guest Host  (Catharsis) that is, if you genuinely enjoy the site of course
  • Follow the Hostesses Victoria's Voice and Three Boys and an old Lady through GFC
  • Link yourself to the list below
  • Follow some of the other great blogs (Remember to leave a comment so they know to follow you back)
  • Copy and paste the blog hop button on your blog so that others can join (optional)
  • Not mandatory, but I would love for you to leave a comment that you have joined up to the blog hop.

Link up your blog, Twitter, or Facebook here.

The Gifts of 'YES'

I'm not a very outdoorsy person.  Though I grew up in the tropics, I've always hated the sun, heat, sweating and feeling sticky.  Ask me if I want to go outside and I'd AUTOMATICALLY say 'no thanks, I'm fine with the comforts my home has to offer'.  But yesterday, I decided to brave the 'evil' outdoors I'd always dreaded just so I could join my husband and my son for some active family time.  I took a pause when my husband asked if I wanted to join them and miracle of miracles, I said, 'why not?'  My son's been begging to fly his Bumblebee (Transformers) kite and since it was windy, we decided it was time.  I mean, sure I could've tortured him and said we'll wait another year (this kite was purchased a year ago, if you must know), but I was powerless against this face...

And once the kite was launched, it all the more became clear to me what I would've missed had I said no to the outdoors yesterday....

The look of pure sense of wonder and pride in my son's face....

Excitement as he was all set to go and run around....

Look at Bumblebee soaring against the clear blue sky...

And then when the little one got tired, he decided to run to the play lot beside the open field.

When he was all done and we decided it was time to go, I decided to turn around and take one last look.  I was feeling a bit sentimental knowing that in less than 3 months, we will be moving and this will no longer be our park, our play lot.  I'm so glad I turned around and took the time to capture this...

Sure I was tired, hot and sweaty after all that, but THIS smile makes it SO worth it!!!  Lesson learnt...It's amazing what happens and what we could find when we will ourselves to go against knee-jerk responses and say 'yes' for a change.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday Threading Blog Hop: Week 5


I don't know how the weather's been like at your area but it's been gloomy and stormy from where I am.  Thank goodness we don't need umbrellas to hop on to other blog sites! 

So start threading once more from one blog to the next 'cos it's time for Thursday Threading Blog Hop!  Rules are simple.  Just follow me (spot #1) if you truly like what you see on here, link up and then visit as many blogs as you'd like.  Remember to comment on the sites so they know you're following.  

If you are interested in co-hosting in the weeks to come, kindly let me know by filling out the 'Contact Me' form on the side bar.  

Enjoy everyone!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sending a Tornado of Light

As I watched the morning news earlier today, I saw this video.  This is a video of people huddled in a store in Joplin, MO as the tornado hit Sunday.  You won't really see much but you can definitely hear the people's voices as well as the rumbling and rustling as the tornado hit.  You can hear adults and children crying, praying and calling out to the Heavens, as well as people saying their 'I love you's'.  I was in tears as I listened/watched this video and that means a lot coming from someone like me who doesn't cry much.  I couldn't help but think of how those people must've felt; the level of fear they must've drowned in as they anticipated the imminent disaster;  the feeling of not knowing what will happen next and if you will survive it; the wondering if there is indeed someone, a God, looking out for you who can save you.  

I can only imagine the pain of those who were there thinking of their loved ones and whether they'd see them again...

Life is fleeting.  We know this but often take this for granted.  With all that's going on in the world, I don't think anyone can say that he's FULLY prepared for ANYTHING.  Nobody knows when they'll die, where or how.  And very few of us can really choose how we'd like to leave this earth.  So the real question is, how much of your self can you leave behind to live on in others, through others?  Because in truth, that is the only legacy that truly counts...how much of your self you've shared or given unconditionally; how much your own life has allowed others to truly live; how much of what you know has nurtured others; how much you've illuminated a darkness in this world; how useful and relevant your being has been in the cycle of Love.

As we reflect upon these questions, let me also share this link to those of you who want to help out our brothers and sisters in Joplin, MO.-----


Sunday, May 22, 2011



I'm shining the light on three blogs once again and I hope you can find the time to visit them all and show them some love.  I really think these three are special and offer some interesting flavors that make you keep looking forward to reading some more.  Before I introduce them to you though, here are the mechanics for S.A.L.S. for those who are new to this:  

1.  Follow CATHARSIS and the one who's shining the light on you (if it's another blog), but 
only if you truly appreciate their blogs and plan on coming back to read and comment on 
their posts. 

2.  Feel free to copy the SHINE A LIGHT SUNDAY button above to post on your own blog 
entry and kindly link back to this post.  

3.  Make a list of 3 to 5 blogs, (with proper links of course), that have become your  
favorites and that you would like to promote and place a spotlight on, so to speak.  It 
would be great if you can always include a few new blogs that you've discovered and have grown to love and feel might need more support in terms of readership/followers.  If you want, you can do a short write-up for each to give a brief background of the sites, or to 
explain why you love them.  I'm limiting this to 3 to 5 blogs because bear in mind that you can do this every Sunday or any Sunday you feel like it.

4.  Make sure you inform the blog authors of those 3-5 blogs you listed for the week that 
you've shone the light on them.  This way they can participate and pay it forward.  That's 
the most important part!
Now here are my 3 picks for this week ------
Wrapped With Hope : This blog site is so different from the rest that you can't help but take notice. Its focus is on helping others in need. Jenn and Angela (owners and contributors) thought of starting this blog as a response to the April 2011 victims of tornadoes. They had this creative idea to make and send blankets to the needy and the hopeless. I'm sure they need all the support they can get so please head on over there and see what you can do to help out. Writings of An Infertile Bellerina : Jennifer is a mother going through infertility and in  order to take her mind off of this challenge, she has decided to pursue adult ballet lessons and has been totally enjoying it. She posted daily until she reached the day of her dance  performance and now is thinking of making some changes to the focus of the blog. I think  this only translates to more exciting times for her and us, her audience, so I can't wait to  see how this transformation takes place! I continue to wish her all the best! 40blogSpot : A French Mom now living in London, Muriel offers a lot of interesting stories  and insights about parenting (especially multi-culturally), starting a new life in a different  country as an adult, and everything else that colors her life. I find her site engaging,  intelligent and fresh as she presents her world through the eyes of someone who has a  distinct cultural background. Go see for yourself!   

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Featured Blogger

What a fun Saturday, and the day's just beginning!  I was selected as this week's Featured Blogger for the So Followed Saturday Blog Hop hosted by Vivian of Confessions of a Vi3tbabe.

So Followed Saturday

Thanks Vi!  Now let's head on over there and meet new blogger friends!  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Need To Fight Back

Argue, Children, Playing, Happy, Unhappy, Catch

My husband and I barely had any sleep last night.  And no, it's not that there was too much 'fun' going on, but because we were seething with anger.  We had just found out that our son had been bullied.
I was in the process of dressing Noah up after his bath when I thought of asking him how his afternoon went.  He was picked up by his grandparents to go play and have a snack at McDonald's.  I knew that after a while one of his cousins (a year older than him) came by to join him there so I was focused on asking Noah how he spent his time before his cousin arrived.

Noah said, "I just played by myself".  I thought that would be the end of it but then I was shocked when he continued to say, "But Mommy, while I was by myself, there was a boy and a girl and then the boy kept pushing and hurting me."  

Defenses up.  
Eyes squinted and focused.  
Mother Tigress ready to strike.

As calmly as I could, I asked, "What do you mean?  Can you show me how he did it?"  So then my son stepped closer to me and gently did punching moves on my chest.  He was doing it gently so I had to clarify if that was exactly how the boy did it and he said yes, and that he did not get hurt at all.  He then proceeded to say, "But I kept telling him to stop but he wouldn't.  I even told him, Hey no punching and hurting, but he still kept punching me.  And then Mommy...I was getting angrier and angrier and I was stomping my feet 'cos he wouldn't stop".  My son's face was turning red and getting more intense as he was telling me this story so I knew that he looked and felt exactly that way when the incident happened earlier that afternoon. To make matters worse, he continued to say, "And Mommy, after that, the girl was calling me bad things....She called me 'poopoo face' and she kept calling me that."

At this point, I wanted to hunt those two kids down and strike them dead. Yes, yes, we're talking about kids and I'm the adult. But I'm being honest. I wanted to hunt them down and still do, actually.

I asked Noah what he did and he said he just kept telling them to stop but they wouldn't listen. I'm not sure exactly what happened, not sure if my son just walked away eventually or if the kids stopped at some point. Noah did say that the boy's mother intervened at some point to tell her boy to stop punching. My son did not mention anything about the ill-mannered girl's parent though.  

I am angry, sad and highly disturbed.  My son is just 4.  He's shy and is gentle and we've always taught him to be 'nice', polite and to not hurt others.  My instinct as a protective mother was to teach him to retaliate, but I know that that is not the proper way, the right way.  A part of me wonders though if I'm leaving my child ill-equipped for the world when apparently, not every parent out there is teaching their children the same values and rules of conduct.  I asked how big these other kids were and Noah said they were all the same size.  This means these kids are probably the same age, if not younger, considering my son is not exceptionally tall for his age.  

To be that young and that mean?!! To be a bully so early in life?? I'm appalled. And like I said, highly disturbed.  I'm disturbed by how there are parents who are not doing their jobs well. I'm disturbed by the thought of my son getting bullied more in the future. I'm disturbed and anxious because I realized that I am not equipped at this point in time as a parent with the necessary tools that will help my child deal with bullies.  

I took it for granted that he was too young; that I'll know what to do or say and how to deal with it when it happens; that others will be there to help me deal with it, like maybe a school teacher or a principal, etc.  But what if there were no adults around to intervene?  What if it happened at some totally unexpected place, like maybe, McDonald's?!!

Looking at the brighter side of things, I'm thankful it happened now and that my son was not seriously hurt (either physically or emotionally).  I'm thankful for those two bullies.  Yes I still want to hunt them down like an obsessed and starved beast, but I'm thankful that they brought this to my attention this early.  And most of all, I'm thankful that Noah opened up to me.  That, I'm extremely grateful for.  Now I have a serious task before me.  I now know that it is never too early to educate myself about bullying so that I can teach my child and myself how to deal with it.  I am clueless and this admission is a blessing for me.

Have you been in a similar situation?  How did you deal with it?  How educated are you about bullying?


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thursday Threading Blog Hop: Week 4


It's time once again for Thursday Threading Blog Hop!  I can't believe it's now week 4 for this and I continue to thank everyone who have been participating.  I hope you will continue to have fun threading from one blog to the next!

I'm just glad that GFC is back to normal.  I almost ended up not hosting this week.  But....Thursday Threading is here and we're in business!

This week's lucky and gracious co-host is Susie of SusieQTpies Scraps Of Life (spot #2).  (Thanks to Random.org for helping me in selecting our co-host).  And thank you again, Susie!!  

As usual, the rules are simple.  Just follow me (spot #1), as well as Susie's blog (spot #2) and then feel free to link up below.  Visit as many of the other blogs as you'd like and make sure you comment so they know you've visiting and/or following them.  

Feel free to grab the code above so you could advertise the hop on your site.  The more participants, the merrier!

Have fun everyone!

Problems with GFC??

Google FC logo.pngIs it just me, my browser, or is anyone else out there noticing that your GFC (Google Friend Connect) / Followers section is not showing up on your site?

To my blogger peeps, I apologize but for this reason, I am thinking of not hosting Week 4 of our Thursday Threading Blog Hop tomorrow.  I think it's too risky since it defeats the whole idea of a blog hop.  Imagine signing up, hoping to follow and be followed, only for Google to announce that none of it worked because of some tweaking they're doing???  No thanks.  I think I can wait for a week until the dust settles....and yes, I'm hoping for it to settle.

Are you experiencing the same?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Maria Made Me Do It

Last week, I saw a Youtube video of Maria Shriver asking people about their own experiences on transitions.  The video was first released around the end of March, I think, and obviously by that time, she would’ve been already aware of her own major transition, her separation from her husband.  In her vlog, she asked people who have gone through any kind of transition (work, relationship status, financial, etc.) what three things they know now (after the transition) they wished they had known prior to the transition.  This was a challenge for me, if only to force myself to think of what I’ve learnt from my own transition (or if indeed I’ve learnt anything at all).  

As most of you know by now (assuming you either know me personally or have at least read through the “About Me” section of this page), the most challenging transition I’ve gone through so far is my migration to the United States from the Philippines.  And it wasn’t just a simple, ‘no-loose-ends’ kind of migration because it was all unexpected and due to marriage (which makes it a double transition in one!).  None of it was expected nor planned so you can imagine the shock every molecule in my being had to experience.  As a matter of fact, until now, even after 7 years, some ‘aftershocks’ still shake me every now and then.

Anyway, after thinking long and hard about my three core lessons, here they are ready and ripe for sharing.  I hope you're reading this, Maria...

(1) Remember that you chose this.  It was actually one of my best friends that pointed this out to me a few years ago.  He noticed that when I spoke of my experience, I tended to say, ‘I was uprooted’, as if to free myself of accountability.  I never thought of it that way until he highlighted that I spoke as if I never wanted any of it to happen.  That was such a revelation to me because truthfully, even though it feels at times that you were just thrust into this situation and things just happened to you, you need to remind yourself of your accountability in the situation, of the choices you made, your role in shaping this situation. It could be painful to think of it this way but it is also empowering. When situations get bad or at the very least go in the way we never expected or planned for, it is always so tempting to victimize ourselves, release ourselves of any responsibility.  But now I know that for most things in our lives, we are ‘agents’, actors, constantly choosing albeit less consciously at times.  Nonetheless, we choose.  If you were able to choose before, you can always choose again.  Who knows where that can lead you?

(2) You need to be clear about who you really are. In a major transition (or maybe any life transition for that matter), expect that a shedding of identities will occur. Certain statuses would have to be given up, surrendered, peeled off of you INEVITABLY. There will always be a temptation to hold on to these things and even force them upon others so that they will continue to recognize us as bearers of those old statuses.  In my case, I wanted to hold on to my status as a university professor, an academic or an intellectual for the longest time. I took pride in holding that status.  But it no longer made sense considering I was no longer doing any of my previous roles as an academic.  The dissonance occurred when I found myself still wanting others to define me according to my previous status/es but of course no one would.  It was becoming painful as I knew it was not possible, nor justified.  For a time, I had an attitude of "don't-you-know-who-I-am/was", until I realized that it simply did not matter.  If something were true, it cannot be hidden even in the absence of declarations.  It will just be.  It just is.  My sense of identity, as long as it is clear to me, will naturally seep out of every pore, every breath.  And you have to be clear that your identity, who you truly are, is more than just a status, title or label.  As long as I'm clear about who I am, no formal title, label or outward recognition by others will ever be as important as my sense of peace in claiming what is truly ME.                  

(3)  As odd as this sounds, to ease your transition, you have to aim for another transition.  If you think about it, this is quite basic isn't it?  Part of the basic laws of matter states that no two things can occupy the same space at the same time.  'Matter' and 'Energy' are interchangeable.  When you have troubles /problems, that is energy and you expend energy dealing with them or thinking about them.  So if you're in a transition that seems to make your life a bit less than ideal, one way of coping is to expend energy somewhere else.  Try to 'replace' the unpleasant transition with a more pleasant one, something you can plan for and be excited about; something you can have more control over.  Set some goals.  Engage in new projects, whether it's something as trivial as putting together a scrap book for the past year, or something as major as looking for a new job.  Or you can shoot for something in the middle, perhaps, say, establish a blog?        

Transitions are anything but easy.  They are, after all, about changes, about introducing something new into our lives and this goes against our natural tendency to seek the familiar.  In the end, no matter what coping mechanisms we may find in dealing with transitions, the one important thing is to do everything at your own pace.  You must respect the process.  Just relax and don’t dread the steps that you’d need to take to move forward.  As my friend reminded me from long ago, each step only takes you closer to the destination.      

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thursday Threading Blog Hop : Week 3


Welcome to Thursday Threading Blog Hop...again.  I'm pretty sure majority of us were affected by the blogger maintenance issues so I'm reposting this and extending this hop until Sunday midnight CST.  I apologize for the inconvenience.  Thank you and have a great weekend everyone!  

You know what to do...Link up below, discover and be discovered!  Happy blog hopping...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Living One Note At A Time

I do not know how to play the piano but I've always fancied the idea of being able to.  Every now and then I would hear a beautiful piece, obsess over it and fantasize about being able to magically play it.  This has been happening to me recently with a composition that seems to meld all the deepest emotions one can feel in one's lifetime.  It's magically powerful and powerfully magical!

Since I don't read notes but have been feeling desperate and adequately challenged to 'figure this song out', I've decided to rely on humming to be able to figure out the piano keys each hummed note corresponds with.  Then I numbered the keys and wrote the sequence on paper so I can 'play' the song.  I guess in some primitive way you could say I'm playing the piano ouido style. What's a desperate non-piano-player to do after all but improvise, right?

my VERY humble attempt

Interestingly, by doing this, I've found that most, if not all, songs have a certain set of notes they always go back to. After a while, it became easier and faster for me to figure out the piano keys because they were repeating or tended to go back to a few key notes.  I guess this is what makes songs melodious.  You introduce a few new notes here and there but you always go back to your key notes, the core melody, and in the end, you end up going back to the beginning. 

Somehow it's the same with life, isn't it?  New things happen to us and we do need to seek them out every now and then.  This makes us unique, makes our lives interesting and this is really how we evolve.  Without these 'new' and 'different notes', we would sound very flat and there would be no depth to our song.  However, it is equally important to not lose sight of your 'core notes', the elements in our lives that are familiar to us, the things we can rely on being there and those we always need to go back to.  Like a familiar song, each of us, I think, have certain thoughts, memories, that will always be with us and haunt us, if only to remind us of what truly matters and what defines us. We'll always have certain people who are 'home' to us; who, mixed in with our newer experiences, create a mellifluous life and memories woven seamlessly, not to perfection, but to perfect meaningfulness.                

In life, we don't get to choose our notes  all the time.  As we journey, some notes will seemingly sound off and not all notes will be our favorites.  But we make our song.  Just keep playing, making the best of what you have or what you'll find, because you'll never know when you'll stumble upon some remarkable notes that will make you a masterpiece, notes that will end up defining your song.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Super Model

I am posting this earlier because right now, it's already Mother's Day where my Mommy is.  

To my Mom, whose life continues to make my own life richer and more anchored in love...

B...Believes in my abilities and encourages me to always strive to be the best I can be.
L...Listens whether it be about my successes, failures, joys, heartaches, dreams or         
A...Answers my needs no matter how inconvenient it may be for her (She flies over 8,000 
    miles across the seas one way to visit and help me out, to ‘spoil’ me when I need my   
N...Normalcy, that's what she gives me whenever I drown in panic or get overwhelmed 
      with the demands of motherhood.  I can always rely on her to put things into 
      proper perspective and have her say, "That's really how it is.  Do not worry so much."
C...Calls me almost everyday even just to say hello, making sure I’m doing alright and am 
      able to keep my head above the water and my feet on the ground.
A...Accepts me for who I am…a mother who still has a lot to learn and a lot of edges to 
    smoothen; a daughter who will always be stubborn and whose passion and intensity get 
    misplaced more often than what she would prefer; a person with still a lot of personal 
    demons to exorcise.

Thank you to the Universe for allowing me to have my Mother in my life.  I would be very happy and honored if I could be allowed to become even just half as great as my Mom is as a mother.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!  I hope you know how much I love you and continue to look up to you, even at this age, even from across the globe! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thursday Threading Blog Hop: Week 2

Welcome to Thursday Threading!  Join the hop and discover more cool blogs out there, as well as be discovered!  Feel free to copy the blog hop code on my side bar to promote this hop.  Have fun everyone!

Here are the simple rules:

1.  Be a follower on Catharsis, but only if you genuinely enjoy what you see on here. 

2.  Link yourself to the list below.

3.  Check out the other blogs listed on this blog hop and remember to leave comments so they can follow you back.  If you don't know where to start, checking out the ones before  or after you on the list is always a good start.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Shame On You!

I know it seems like a delayed reaction on my part to be talking about this just now when the school year is almost over.  But the first time this happened to me, I thought it was just an isolated incident.  Earlier today though, I realized that it isn't.  I'm talking about the MBB's at my son's school....those Moms Behaving Badly.

Black, Gray, White, Straight, Lines, Road, Parking Lot

You see, my son's preschool has a drop-off system. You're supposed to get a parking spot in the morning as you arrive, wait in the car with your child, until the teachers come out of the building to signal the start of the drop-off.  There is, of course, an option to walk your child to the classroom so you can go this route if you are in a hurry and want to leave sooner.  

One by one, the cars parked form a line in a very organized manner, respecting each other's spot based on where they were parked.  There is a system in place which everyone is aware of. Unfortunately, some parents ignore this system and cut in line.  I don't think this happens very often but every once in a while, I see it happen...mothers rushing and sneaking up from behind, wanting to believe you did not notice where they really came from (or maybe they just don't care).  

It's not so much the behavior per se that troubles me but the implications of such.  If these are parents we are talking about and they don't seem to care that the wrong they are doing is being done even in the presence of their children, then what can we expect from these people in terms of what they are teaching to their kids, what values and beliefs...that their time is more precious than others'?...that rules are not important?...that their needs    outweigh those of other people?...or perhaps simply that 'respect' does not mean anything?  

They say everything is magnified in the eyes of a child.  What do you think you taught your child today through modelling?  I don't really need to know.  But YOU need to know you can sleep well tonight with your answer.


Sunday, May 1, 2011


Can you believe it's already May??!!  The days on the calendar sometimes seem like they're being sucked into a vortex faster than the speed of light!  It's unbelievable!

Anyway, it's another Sunday and it's time to put the spotlight on some special blogs I've recently discovered.  I hope you visit and enjoy them as well!  

Once again, here are the 'rules'---

1.  Follow CATHARSIS and the one who's shining the light on you (if it's another blog), but only if you truly appreciate their blogs and plan on coming back to read and comment on their posts.  

2.  Feel free to copy the SHINE A LIGHT SUNDAY button above to post on your own blog entry and link back to this. (optional)

3.  Make a list of 3 to 5 blogs, (with proper links of course), that have become your  favorites and that you would like to promote and place a spotlight on, so to speak.  It would be great if you can always include a few new blogs that you've discovered and have grown to love and feel might need more support in terms of readership/followers.  If you want, you can do a short write-up for each to give a brief background of the sites, or to explain why you love them.  I'm limiting this to 3 to 5 blogs because bear in mind that you can do this every Sunday or any Sunday you feel like it.

4.  Make sure you inform the blog authors of those 3-5 blogs you listed for the week that you've shone the light on them.  This way they can participate and pay it forward.  That's the most important part!

My newest finds and favorites ----

Sounds Like Crazy: Marrying & Mothering Thru Mental Illness - Nancy's honesty about living with certain disorders is eye-opening and you just can't help but appreciate her and how she welcomes us all into her daily struggles.

Philosophy of a Cynic - Sarcastic take on everyday life and a tell-it-like-it-is voice...fun to read and easy to get hooked!

Victoria's Voice - She seems to have everything a blogger needs like product reviews, recipes, giveaways, blog hop links, practical tips and more!  It's like a magic box you'd want to carry around with you all the time 

I hope you'll visit these bloggers with me on this beautiful, sunny Sunday!  Enjoy the week ahead!