Friday, December 31, 2010

The End.

For my final 2010 blog entry, I think it's fitting to end the year with a nice recap of my blog over the 1 1/2 years I've been keeping up with it.  The larger the word, the more frequently it showed up on my blog, and I'm glad to see that "reading" and "book" were two of my most used words so far.  Enjoy, and wishing everyone a happy and successful 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Welcome Home, Leia!

Because we have a tendency to name nearly every item we buy and bring into our home (i.e., Sally the Step stool, Teeveetwo the new TV just to name a couple), it's only fitting that we have named our most recent large addition to the house.  Leia (short for Liatorp), found her way into our hearts while perusing the display rooms at IKEA on Monday afternoon...  


One quick look at her and we knew that the price and design were right, and that we needed her nestled in the Southeast corner of our dining room.  Luke and I have been in search of the perfect sideboard server/buffet for over a year now, and after several close calls, we just couldn't find the right one for the right price.  Sure, I fell in lust with multiple hutches and servers that were well out of our price range, but Luke was always good at keeping me from actually wanting to seriously pull the trigger on the purchase.  Did we think that we would be walking out of IKEA with a sideboard?  No, not a chance (I had looked so many times on their website, and somehow this one never came up in any of my searches, plus we were only going in there for another set of Hemnes drawers for our bedroom).  Are we glad we did?  Definitely (not including the 2 1/2 hours of quasi-stressful assembly- Damn you IKEA and your non-verbal instructions).  While we originally wished that she had a more natural wood colored top board on her, we figure that as our home decor tastes change she will do a good job withstanding that sort of change, and will be enjoyed by us for many years to come. 

Lastly (to make sure our other purchase made at the same time as Leia doesn't feel left out...), we also brought home Hemmy II.  He will hopefully be put together in the next couple of days so that I can get my clothes off of our bedroom floor. 
Overall, I must say that we had a very successful After-Christmas shopping day at IKEA.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blizzard!

Today, we have been officially snowed in. Thank goodness both Luke and I have the day off (well, my parents gave me the day off since there was no way that I would be able to make it from Saint Paul to Minnetonka today). They're predicting that it could be almost as bad as the Halloween blizzard of 1991 in some parts of the state. I'm not 100% sure of how many inches we've gotten so far, but I know that our snow reaches the top of Luke's wellies!










Yes, I know that the shorts weren't the best decision on my part :-)

Pocket Degu!

Franz and Bruno (our boy degus) LOVE to nest in the pocket of my bathrobe. Just thought that I would share this video from today of them. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Things I love right now

1.)  The fact that I just made kraft mac 'n cheese with half and half instead of milk (we ran out of milk this morning, so fortunately I had over estimated how much half and half I would need for cooking just before Thanksgiving).  I added a whole bag of peas to the one box of pasta, so that cancels out the half and half, right?
2.) Luke's LEGO mess all over the basement.  I feel like I have a little boy living in my basement :-)
3.) Soy Chai Lattes from Starbucks- I can't seem to get enough of them.
4.) That it's Christmas season, and it's time to start shopping for gifts!
5.) My job (especially that this upcoming week is the only full- 5 day week I have before winter break)
6.) The snow, even the shoveling isn't that bad
7.) My zoo



Things I don't like:
1.) Luke's new schedule (though it's supposed to be done by Christmas).  Only being able to see my best friend once or twice a week really sucks.  We basically just sleep next to each other, and talk on the phone about once a day, but I really don't enjoy not seeing him.  It's been a hard adjustment, going from seeing each other every day and doing everything together to trying to make the most of the day or so that we do get to see each other.
2.) Cooking for one.  I don't have any incentive to cook well-balanced meals (or at all).  The only thing keeping me cooking is the face that I need to have something for lunch the next day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

And it begins.

The weirdest thing for me regarding Luke starting 2nd shift this week is trying to figure out when to eat dinner.  If I wanted to, I could just make popcorn and peas, or eat a can of beets, or even make myself a real meal if I so desire, but I'm realizing very quickly that I do not like making meals for one...  I have a feeling that the next 5 weeks are going to go by very slowly...

Looks like salad and roll, followed by some coffee-heath bar ice cream is what's for dinner tonight!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A November Winter Wonderland

We've got SNOW!



This morning we woke up to our first real snowfall of the year, and I'm giddy over it.  I love the snow and everything that comes along with it (except for bad drivers and black ice on the roads):  Chunky sweaters, hot chocolate, the festive red cups from Starbucks, shoveling, snowmen, Christmas shopping, my red pea coat, Love Actually... just to name a few of my favorite things. 

Today's favorite thing is the fact that my mom called to tell me not to come into work today due to the amounts of snow and the lack of plowing (they've got a Ford Excursion which can handle the snow, no problem), so I actually get to enjoy being snowed in for the day instead of trying to slowly make my way to the other side of the metro- Thanks Mom and Dad!

Time to go put my robe back on, start a new pot of coffee, grab season one of The Big Bang Theory (thanks to a coworker who lent it to me), and relax for the day :-)

Christmas 2009

Friday, October 22, 2010

A brief reflection + Book update

Here I am, on day 2 of my first MEA break as a teacher, and I'm finally getting a chance to catch up on my blogging.

My big news of the week is that I am now being employed FULL TIME by my school (hooray for title money...)!  I started the longer hours on Tuesday, and while I am not actually adding another section of English 12 until Nov. 8, I am supposed to use my time at school to start documenting how I am helping each student in my English 9/10 Make-Up class pass the GRAD reading test.  Since the additional .33 FTE added onto my contract comes from them receiving title money, I have to be very meticulous with my documentation.  I am welcoming this extra work, since I was never expecting to be able to get FT hours this year.  One thing that I am looking forward to the most as being at the school now from 7:30-3:10 is that I now get to participate in the Friday staff breakfasts!

At my school, we have a daycare facility for the teen moms who are trying to finish their coursework to graduate.  I just found out that every year for Halloween, the little ones go trick or treating around the school during 6th hour.  I am SO excited to see the babies and toddlers being herded around in their adorable costumes.  This is also the one time of the year that the teen moms are able to bring their children into the main part of the school and show off their kids.  Hopefully I'll remember to bring my camera and take a few pictures of them.

Lastly, I've been definitely slacking on my reading updates.  At the beginning of the school year, I had to put the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series on hold, and I still haven't had a chance to get back to them.  Hopefully I'll have time to dedicate to them over winter break...  But here is an update in my reading world.  At school, I do not have my own classroom, so I have a cart that goes everywhere with me.  Everything that I could ever need during a class period is on that cart, as well as my library.  In my classes, every Friday is independent reading day.  It is a day where the students get a chance to read for fun and explore what is out there for them.  Most students read something off my cart, while a handful brings their own novels to enjoy during that time.  During this time, I read along with the students (it makes a huge difference- once I pick up my book, they all quiet down almost immediately), so I have been able to start reading some of the YA literature that I have on my cart.  It's been awhile since I have been reading multiple books at once, but I've once again found myself absorbed in several different titles (some of which I had read before, but I wanted to give them another go)...

Mockingjay- Suzanne Collins (finished)

The final book in the Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins does not disappoint.  I had been waiting about an year for Mockingjay to come out, and was amazed by her writing.  This was a great conclusion to the popular series.  This is one of the few book series that I can get both boys and girls to read and enjoy.  I've heard that there are rumors regarding a possible movie franchise for this series, and I hope that the rumors are true!  If you have not had a chance to read these books yet, run (do no walk!) to the nearest bookstore or library and get yourself a copy of this series.  You will not be disappointed.

The Help- Katherine Stockett (about 70 pages in)


Wintergirls- Laurie Halse Anderson (finished)

I knew that Wintergirls was going to be a slightly difficult book to read, based solely off of reading the back of the book.  Laurie Halse Anderson writes about deep teen topics, and this book definitely fits the trend.  Wintergirls follows teenage Lia, and the reader views how Lia deals with the death of her former best friend Cassie.  Both Lia and Cassie suffered from eating disorders (Lia- anorexia, Cassie- bulimia), and this novel give the reader an inside perspective of what it is like to be anorexic and gives us a taste of the thoughts that go through one's head when they are obsessed with loosing more and more weight and how they are able to convince themselves that eating is bad.  Anderson's way of writing is so amazing and convincing that I even scared myself at one point in the book when I got mad at the parents for trying to force Lia to get better.  This is one of those novels that you just can't put down, and girls can find ways to relate to this book in many many ways (even if they have never had an eating disorder).

A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khaled Hosseini (reading with my class)



The Knife of Never Letting Go- Patrick Ness (about 50 pages in)


A Child Called "It"- David Pelzer (finished)
I remember reading this book for the first time when I was in junior high school.  I remember reading it in bed, and not being able to put it down.  I will proudly admit to crying several times while going through this book, and being so enraged at the same time.  The parts the stuck out to me as an adolescent definitely stuck out to me as an adult the second time around.  A Child Called "It" is the memoir of Dave Pelzer and his survival through childhood while being constantly abused by his mother.  Pelzer starts his novel off by telling the reader of the day that he was taken into custody by the police and saved from his mother.  If he hadn't started off the novel this way, there is no way that I would have been able to make it through the rest of the book, wondering if he'd ever be saved.  This is another one of those books that I read in a 24 hour period because I couldn't put it down.  While this heartbreaking account of Pelzer's childhood isn't for everyone, I would definitely recommend it to teens and adults alike, no matter who they are or where they are in life. 

A Million Little Pieces- James Frey  (about 100 pages in)

I am always looking for book suggestions for my students and am always on the lookout for more books to add to my cart, so if you have any titles that you would recommend, please let me know!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Excellent!

Overall, this has been a most excellent week. 



Sunday, I had the opportunity to go see Wicked's last performance during their run here in Minneapolis with my Mom, Aunt and Grandmother.  My Grandma is a former English teacher, so it was great being able to update her on my experiences as an English teacher in a different type of setting.  The musical was amazing, and I am so grateful that I was able to go see it.  I need to go get the soundtrack now!  That night I only got about 3 hours of sleep due to L being up at his family's cabin and my fear of having another experience similar to the one I had on Friday.

Monday-Friday at school was good.  It's amazing how fast the weeks go by (despite the fact that I thought that Wednesday was Thursday- I was still surprised when Friday got here!).  One of the nice things about working PT at the school is that I get to roll into school at about 9:30am and then start teaching at 10.  That gives me time to get organized in the morning and mingle with some of the other teachers who have 2nd hr. prep time.  I really love the staff of my school, and they've been great at asking me if I need anything and readily give me advice when I ask for it.  The students have been great, and even those who were giving me a hard time for the first week or so in my 6th hr are doing much better and I don't spend as much time asking them to be quiet and keep their comments appropriate.

Friday was even more amazing because I finally got paid!  I signed my contract last week the day it was ready for me, so I was able to get paid this month rather than get 3 paychecks for the next payday in October (I received 2 checks yesterday to make up for the one I missed at the beginning of the month).  It was a huge stress reliever to see more than $100 in my bank account, and that I now have the ability to pay all of my bills and start putting money away into savings!

The last thing that I am going to mention that made this week excellent was the compliment that I received from a seasoned teacher at my school (I've made her my unofficial mentor... though I'm not sure that she knows this!).  She told me that I teach like someone with years of experience, not a first year teacher and that I'm doing a great job with the students so far!  It's amazing how good a small compliment like that can make one feel.  It really made the rest of my day, and I definitely feel more confident in my teaching :-)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Scariest moment of my life

I was 100% convinced that there was an intruder in our bedroom last night.

I don't know how it came about, but after watching netflix in bed (nothing scary-just old episodes of King of the Hill), I rolled over in an attempt to get to sleep early to cure my exhaustion from a week of teaching.  I was half asleep when I heard a sound like someone had tripped or stepped on something in the room (near the foot of my bed), and then I saw what looked like the light of a cellphone screen projected on the wall, as if someone was trying to find their way around the room without turning on a light.  Then, I swear I felt someone sit down at the foot of my side of the bed.  When I slowly moved my feet, it felt like there was a body that my foot was touching.  At that point, I froze completely.  I couldn't move, and I could barely breath.  Since I was rolled facing the wall, the most I could do to try to wake L up was to poke and pinch at his back, but it wasn't working.  In my mind, I thought that maybe he was faking being asleep too, so that whoever in the room would just take our stuff and walk away.

A few minutes later, I was still frozen, and I was convinced that whoever is sitting at the edge of my bed could hear my heart pounding.  I have never been so scared in my life (especially after I realized that I don't have an easily accessible knife on my bedside table anymore).  After about 30 minutes of being completely still with the sound of my pulse in my ears, I realized that I needed to move my feet a little because they were starting to cramp.  I feigned a sleepy stretch, and then realized that there wasn't a mass near my feet anymore.  I took a chance and swept my feet across the bottom of the bed, and what ever I had convinced myself was there minutes ago, definitely wasn't there anymore.

I don't know what made my brain create this elaborate situation, but it was real enough to me that I actually felt the intruder sit down on the bed, and I legitimately thought that something was going to happen to either L or me.  Though, what I have learned from this is that I need to find myself a new knife to keep near my bed, and put my cellphone closer to the edge of the bedside table if an emergency actually does occur!

Friday, September 10, 2010

End of Week 1

Today was my first Friday as a teacher, and I must say that I had almost forgotten how much I love teaching.  I love the fact that I don't have to follow another teacher's lesson, I'm teaching the subject that I am an expert at, and I'm getting the chance to make connections and build that trust with my students!  Not only that, but I finally have coworkers again!  I haven't had coworkers since I quite the Security Monitor Program in May of 2007, so it's nice to have adults to talk with who are doing the same thing I am.

While there have been some more difficult parts to my first week teaching my own classes, I've most definitely walked out of school each day with a pretty goofy looking grin on my face.  Some of the kids in one of my hours are complete little shits, but even over the course of 4 days, they've stopped testing me as much, and seem to be accepting that they are stuck with me as their teacher.  Most of the kids that I have in my classes are wonderful and lots just need a lot of support and modeling to understand and do the assigned tasks.  After my first day "All about Me" speech, I've had kids come up to me to show me pictures of their guinea pigs, and tell me all about their pets.  They laugh at me when I pronounce 50 Cent as FiddyCent (because it's weird to have a teacher call him that), and when I can name the artist they are listening to on their iPod during work time.  They've also opened up to me in more ways than I could have ever imagined; allowing me to learn about their families, pregnancies, past issues, friends drama, and why they're at the alternative school.

Overall, I've met some wonderful people over the course of the last week, and I'm hoping that I can one day call this school my permanent workplace.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

AHHHH!

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The first day of school is in just over a week, and I feel completely unprepared.  The school I'm teaching at is an alternative high school, so pretty much every thing that the district says the rest of the schools have to do goes nearly out the window for us.  I was hoping that there would be some sort of curriculum set up for 10th grade English, but when I asked about what texts they use in the classroom, the response I received blew my mind: "We don't really use texts."  How the H E Double Hockey Sticks am I supposed to teach English without texts?  But then I'm told that I can pretty much do what ever I want to do within professional reason, but since these students have already failed English once, I'll need to find another way to get them to reach their fullest potential.  I asked if I could take a look at the text book, and I'm told "We don't really use the text book, but you can use it if you want." 

So now I have two huge Holt books with a ton of information, but I'm wavering as to whether or not I should use it, least I be looked at strangely by my colleagues.  Fortunately, workshop starts on Monday, so I should be able to have an opportunity to talk with the teacher who taught 10th grade last year, and see how she went about teaching, and what she would have changed.  I'm used to the regular school setting where there is an outline of what I need to teach and the desired outcomes, and I'm just in charge of getting the students there in my own way.  I like structure, and all of this freedom is nearly killing me with stress!

Please keep your fingers crossed for me as I try to survive my first few months before I really get the hang of it...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I got it!

I got the other job I was waiting on!  So I am now officially an English teacher and I'm super excited since the location of the job is basically at my dream school!  Yayayayayayayay!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On the job front

I finally have gotten a minor very PT teaching job offer!  I went to the interview on Monday, and got the call this afternoon informing me that a local school district wants me to teach their Tuesday night Adult Basic Education English class for their diploma program.  It's only .10 FTE, but it's most definitely a resume builder and a way for me to get my foot in the door with this district.

Now, all I need is a positive response from the .67 job I interviewed for last week and I'll be ecstatic (though I'm not holding out too much hope, because I don't want to be super disappointed when I get the rejection phone call...)!

My latest obsession

Mr Freezies/Otter pops/Pop Ice/Tubes of frozen goodness

And yes, I'm not ashamed to say that I purchased a giant box of these from Menards yesterday, but I will not confirm how many I've downed in the last 24 hours...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Crafty Update

Yesterday was a productive day:

First, I finally sold the 64 cylindrical vases from our wedding for my asking price.  They had been sitting in my parents' basement for over a year, and am glad that they have a new home with an enthusiastic, soon-to-be bride.  Now to just write up an ad for the winter tires L has sitting in the garage and we'll have a little more fun money to play around with.

Next, J and I took an adventure to a thrift store, craft store, and a hardware store to gather up the supplies we needed to create our craft.  We went to the Uptown Art Fair last weekend and were inspired by one of the booths to use vintage silverware to create functional pieces of art.  We saw the utensil wall hooks and decided to give those a try (despite us not having the recommended torch to help flatten and bend the silverware).  At the thrift store, we each found two larger silver spoons with ornate patterns on the hand piece for between $.69-.99 each.  Then at Michael's, we found small unfinished wooden blocks with beveled edges for less than $1 each, so we each picked up 2 of them.  Finally, we stopped in at Home Depot to pick up some small nails to use to attach the spoons to the wood blocks. 

This project went a lot more smoothly than we had originally anticipated it to go.  The hardest part was waiting for the paint on the wood blocks to dry between layers.  We used a hammer to pound the heads of the spoons flat, and a rubber mallet to shape the spoon into a hook.  Then, we used a 1/16 bit on an electric drill to make two small holes in each of the spoons to make sure that the nails would go through easily.  The final step was to place the spoon on the block and hammer in the nails to keep the hook in place.  Here are the final results:

The plan is to hang these in the kitchen, as the white paint contrasts well with the red on our walls.  Now all we need to do is either drill a small hole in the back or add on mounting hardware to finish them up.

Overall, this was a very easy and fun craft to make and am thinking of making these for family and friends, so if you would like to request one, let me know and I can customize the colors :-)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What I'm Reading

As of right now, I'm out of coffee, so my ability to critically think and write has gone out the window and I'll try to update with a review on Percy Jackson and the Olympians- The Lightening Thief asap.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Our Best Friends' Wedding

We had quite the whirlwind of a weekend and are proud to say that our best friends were hitched this past Saturday and couldn't be happier for them!  The wedding took place at the gorgeous and historic Saint Paul College Club with an outdoors ceremony and a rocking reception with amazing food.  M and B had hired the same photographers that we used at our wedding last summer, so it was fun to reconnect with Bryan (and second shooter Joey) at Studio Blue Photography.  Anyways, I'm still surprised that it's over already and that we're trucking our way through August!

And now for the pictures:

3/5 bridesmaids at the Groom's Dinner
My bridesmaid gift- pretty necklace in an antique box

Groomsmen gifts- personalized wooden baseball bats

M with her flowergirls/nieces

Wedding day!  M looks beautiful :-)

Just chilling in the bathtub, no biggie.

M&B were out taking their couple's photos, and we were able to see them out the window, and since we were watching The Lion King while waiting for them to be done, it seemed only fitting to blast "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" at them.
These next photos were all taken by my sister in law since I didn't have my camera on me for the rest of the evening.  Eventually, I'll have a link to the professional photos once those are done!

The 'maids

The 'men

The 'girls

M and her Dad walking down the aisle

Vows

Chilling in the 90 degree heat with humidity with L's sister

L with his brother-in-law
M dancing with her new niece at the reception.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Woohoo!

Hooray!  It's wedding day for our two very best friends- M and B!  Wishing you guys the best, and thank you for allowing us to be a part of and play witness to your special day.  Love you guys!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What I am Reading Wednesdays, Part III

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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larsson, published 2009,  576 pg.
In Stieg Larsson's final novel in the Millennium Trilogy, the characters pick up right where we left them: in the emergency room of the hospital with Lisbeth fighting for her life, and Mikael sitting in handcuffs at the property where the epic fight between Lisbeth and her father went down.  The conclusion to the trilogy centers on the time that Lisbeth spends fighting for her life in the hospital with her biological father just down the hall from her.  The general public still believes that Lisbeth is responsible for the murders committed in the previous novel, but Mikael's sister agrees to represent her as her lawyer in the upcoming trial.  Mikael knows that Lisbeth is innocent, and spends the majority of this book investigating and creating another media frenzy to show the world what actually happened, and uncovering and exposing to the world one of Sweden's most kept government secrets.  Just as the first book did, the last spends a relatively long amount of time within the courtroom, but in a more engaging fashion.  This novel also gives one of the side characters (Erika Berger) more time in the spotlight as she forges her way into a new position at an esteemed magazine, but finds herself being harassed along the way.  Again, this is another great book, and doesn't let the reader down.  I would recommend this book to anyone who has read the previous two books, especially if they enjoy crime dramas.

What I am Reading Wednesdays, Part II

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The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson, published 2009, 503 pg.
In his second novel in the Millennium Trilogy, Stieg Larson focuses mainly on the storyline featuring Lisbeth Salander.  In my opinion, this book is better than the first, the reader really gets to know Lisbeth better and has a more rounded understanding of why she is the way she is.  After returning from some much needed time abroad, Lisbeth returns to Sweden just as some very high profile murders are committed in connection with the revealing of the country's sex trade industry.  Lisbeth's prints are found on the murder weapon, and she becomes one of the most wanted women in Sweden.  Her face is plastered everywhere, but no one can seem to find her.  It has been a long time since she had had any contact with Mikael Blomkvist, but he finds himself connected to her once again.  In Played with Fire, we see more into Lisbeth's past and her relationship with her biological father.  This book ends on a major cliffhanger after Lisbeth engages in a nail-biting battle with her father and half-brother, gearing the reader to jump right into the third and final novel in the Millennium trilogy.  If you have read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there is no excuse not to read Played with Fire, and I wholeheartedly recommend this novel.

Catch Up... What I am Reading Wednesdays.

So, one day a family of tomatoes went on a walk.  There was a Momma tomato, a Papa tomato, and a Baby tomato.  While they were walking, the Baby tomato started to lag behind.  A frustrated Papa tomato turned around to the lagging Baby tomato, squashed it and yelled, "Ketchup!"

To "ketchup" (or catch up) on my book reviews, I thought that I would start with the Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy.  The three titles in this trilogy include: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson, published 2008,  572 pages.
I started out reading Dragon Tattoo for an online bookclub, and was at first put off by the start of this novel.  The first 60-100 pages were dull and hard to get through.  Had I not been reading this book for a bookclub, I'm pretty sure that I would have put Dragon Tattoo back on the bookshelf and wouldn't have considered picking it up again.  Luckily I pushed through the first part and then the book finally started to pick up pace.  This book follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist while he is trying to solve a 40 year old missing persons/murder mystery for a wealthy elderly man named Henrik Vagner who is hoping to finally have some closure regarding his niece, Harriet's disappearance.  Along the way, he gets to know the strange, tattooed Lisbeth Salander, who is an advanced computer hacker working for a security company.  With her help, Blomkvist continues his life-risking investigation.  This book doesn't end on a note where one can just walk away from the trilogy, and leaves you excited and ready for the next one!  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in mysteries and crime dramas, with the warning that to really enjoy this book, you MUST push through the first 100 pages, and you'll be happy that you did.