Homemade Self-care Products

When we are feeling the most stressed and at our wit’s end, some easy quick self-care can be just the trick to bring us down to earth. And taking care of ourselves doesn’t have to be expensive and even creating self-care products can be soothing if you are a slightly crafty type (and even if you aren’t). These homemade self-care products allow you to make your own calming comfort products for face, body and hair. Also, you can pick some of the smells and other materials to make them the best for you.

A pretty jar can make having the lotion even more fun!

Homemade Lotion
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 oz. Beeswax
5 drops essential oil fragrance of your choice
Supplies: double boiler, bowl, hand mixer, clean jar for storing

In a double boiler, heat up coconut oil and beeswax. When completely melted, add the essential oil. Next, pour into bowl and wait until cooled. Then, using hand mixer, whip the lotion until it is the consistency of…lotion. This is how the coconut oil keeps whipped at room temperature. Homemade lotion doesn’t last as long as manufactured; it will be good for about two months.

Vanilla Olive Oil Body Scrub
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 cups Turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon Vanilla extract or your favorite essential oil
Supplies: bowl, spoon, airtight container

Mix together sugars. Then, add olive oil. Last, mix in honey and vanilla or fragrance. Store in airtight container. Some notes: this is NOT a face scrub; body only. If it’s too coarse, you can use regular brown sugar instead of Turbinado. The olive oil will settle so you’ll need to stir it and if you want a more liquid consistency you can add more oil after it’s packaged.

Jelly sized mason jars are perfect for storing!

Homemade Bath Salts
2 cups coarse sea salt
1 cup Epsom salt
1/3 cup baking soda
Essential oil of choice
Food coloring
Supplies: bowl, container with stopper or airtight container

In a bowl, combine the sea salt, Epsom salt and baking soda. Add a few drops of your chosen essential oil and combine. Next, add food coloring to get the color you’d like. Store in container. Sea salt is an exfoliate, Epsom salts soothe and fight inflammation. Baking soda softens water.

These can also make great gifts for other stressed out friends or family members with the holidays coming up. But this is the time for you. Now, I’m off to make some body scrub…enjoy!

Until next time,

Shannon

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Do you remember being asked this question when you were a child? Do you remember asking this question of your own children? It comes along as children learn language with favorite color and food and others as we begin to form our identity as separate humans from our parents. We develop our own tastes and interests and passions which lead to our potential career choices. But for many of us, life takes turns between that question when we’re very young and now. So, what did you want to be when you grew up?

For a long time when I was growing up I wanted to be a doctor. Specifically, a pediatrician. I’m not sure where that thought came from. But that’s all I can remember ever wanting to be. And I, and my parents were very proud of that choice.

Until I realized an amazing fact. I loved ice skating when I was young. My best friend and I would go ice skating outside in winter at the pond in our hometown and at the ice rink down in Cincinnati other times of the year. You may or may not know that the machine that put down a new smooth coat of freezing water on an ice rink is a Zamboni truck. Well, one day at a Red’s baseball game there was a rain delay. They brought out a machine to suck up the water from the Astroturf and blow it over the outfield wall. Guess what that machine was? Yep. A Zamboni. I was thrilled. When I figured out I could work year round driving a Zamboni truck, I almost fell out of my chair. That became my new career obsession. Still is a little bit!

But the serious career aspiration of becoming a pediatrician stayed until college and my first semester when two things happened. My first chemistry class and my first psychology class. I hated chemistry and fell in love with psychology. Became a psychology major and never looked back. A semester or so later I took my first political science class and then every poli sci class I could make room for. Walked into college pre-med; walked out with a BA in psychology and a minor in political science.

Now I’m sure I’m not the only one with this kind of story. Part of the reason for college is discovery. Learning what you are passionate about and what you have a talent for. It’s part of the reason colleges don’t make you declare a major for the first two years. And I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there who are doing nothing even closely related to what you went to school for. That’s probably the second most common thing after having changed plans once we get to school.

So beyond a career or a college degree, what else did you want to be? Obviously we all wanted to be parents. But did you say when you were little, “I want to parent a RAD kiddo that’s going to test me every single day. A child that’s going to force me to put locks on my door and have a safe for all my valuables. Who I’m going to someday call the police on?” Was that what you wanted to be when you grew up? I imagine probably not.

You probably dreamed as we all do of your well-behaved children who would excel in sports and academics, grow up to respect you and other grown-ups, go to your alma mater and then take care of you in your old age. And wherever your dream veered off course, you may not have landed where you planned. But how has your life been enhanced by the challenges you’ve had to face? The people you have met along the way? The strength you’ve had to use that maybe you didn’t know you had?

I never planned to become a writer. I have always loved to write and it’s always been easy for me but I never saw it as a career. It took having a RAD kiddo to help me find this path and realize that writing was what I wanted to be when I grew up. There can be blessings that come from RAD that we don’t see in the moment but they show up in other places and times. My career has definitely been one of them.

Finding the good in the midst of bad is a great form of self-care. You may not have the idyllic dream you saw when you were young but there are happy moments and celebrations coming and still to come. Let that be your focus.

Until next time,

Shannon

The Healing Power of a Good Smell

When I was growing up, we would spend a lot of time at my grandmother’s house. The house where I now live. She always woke up way before we did and one of my favorite memories is of waking up to the smell of bacon. She cooked bacon better than anyone ever. And there’s nothing that will get your day going like that smell! That’s when I first learned of the healing power of a good smell.

As I grew up, it was feeling prettier with a certain perfume on. Or how when you clean something and it has that wonderful lemony or Windex smell. When my son was born it’s of course the new baby smell. Or the new car smell (even if it causes cancer!) Fresh cut grass. Autumn leaves. They all have some wonderful memories associated with them and every time they changed my mood for the better. So I’ve found some essential oils you might want to try so that the healing power of a good smell can help your mood as well.

  • Lavender: This is a well-known scent for both alleviating anxiety as well as a sleep aid. It has been used for centuries so there are many products available that contain this pleasant smell. Try an evening bubble bath with lavender bubbles after the kiddos are in bed to help balance your mood.
  • Citrus: As I mentioned, the lemony smell helps us feel good and perks us up. But it can also reduce high amounts of stress and anxiety. A whiff of lemon, lime, orange and bergamot can create a sense of calm.
  • Peppermint: Are you a stress eater? Grab something peppermint! Lighting a peppermint candle, eating a peppermint candy or some peppermint oil will help reduce cravings. It’s also good for stress-induced migraines!
  • Coconut: If the smell of coconut immediately sends you to the beach with palms trees and the sound of waves, then you get the power of coconut! I hate the taste of coconut, but love coconut body butters and lotions! The smell can lower our heart rate and soothes agitated nerves.

These are the most popular and common scents that you can find in a lot of products. But if you’d like to try some that are more unique, check this article out. I keep a candle lit a lot of the time while I write. I don’t always pick the same scents. It depends on my mood. And I pull out different ones for Christmas and other holidays. I have lavender bubble bath and coconut lime body butter. Any and all occasions to use the healing power of a good smell to calm my head and my heart.

Until next time,

Shannon

It’s Always Better When You Take A Walk!

Many times in the middle of a heated battle with August I have wanted to run away. Or he HAS run away. When he gets anxious or stressed he knows the best outlet for those feelings is to run around the house. To quite literally run around the outside of the house until he’s able to burn off the energy created by that anxiety. The change created in his demeanor and physical body posture is incredible. Doctors and scientists and veterinarians will tell you the same thing. It’s always better when you take a walk!

An article on the Healthline website found studies that indicate that walking between 15 and 30 minutes a day can:

  • Burn Calories
  • Lower Blood Sugar
  • Strengthen the Heart
  • Ease Joint Pain
  • Boost Immune Function
  • Boost Your Energy
  • Improve Mood (BINGO!!)
  • Extend Your Life
  • Tone Your Legs
  • Promote Creative Thinking

You can read details about each of these benefits and the studies here. But what is it about walking that is so helpful for our mood? Well, depending on the situation, it might just be that we’re finally alone, out of the house and away from the chaos that is our day-to-day lives! But it’s more than that, right? Because sometimes we can’t walk that way. Sometimes we’re walking on a treadmill or a track at a gym full of people. So there’s still noise and activity.

I will have to walk a long time to get all the great thoughts I need!

And sometimes we don’t walk alone. We walk with a partner, friend, dog. I know when I walk with my dog, Mia, the walk is the one she wants to take, not necessarily the path I want to travel! Occasionally even a walk with our RAD kiddo can be self-care if everyone is in the right head space.

August and I took at walk on the greenway behind my house in North Carolina around dusk one evening. I don’t remember the time of year but it’s almost always copperhead season. And we came upon one on the path. I walked around it and kept going. August froze. I could not get him to go around the snake. He was petrified. I told him to go around on the backside like I did and the snake wouldn’t even care. He wasn’t having it. It became quite apparent that I wasn’t going to convince him so I came back over to his side and we went back the way we came.

This article focuses only on how walking can improve your mood. Now one of the things I didn’t think about that it suggests is to find a walking partner you can vent to. I’m not so sure that is a good idea because I’m more of a relax and release kind of walking but I bet if I was venting to someone as I walked I’d cover a lot of miles! If you try this, please let me know!

However you choose to make walking a part of your self-care, do it. Even 15 minutes a day to get up from your desk chair, get out of your car, get off of the couch, whatever can make such a difference. And if you’re worrying about losing productivity, get and audiobook to listen to. But try hard not to. Focus on breathing and just being. I promise that will be productive enough.

Until next time,

Shannon

Taking Care of Siblings

May 1, 2001. The day we got the call with our court date in Russia to finalize our adoption of August. May 3, 2001. The day I found out I was pregnant with his brother. Yes, it was every bit that connected. And yes, we were shocked and happy and terrified. My statement to this day is, “Two kids in seven months. Wouldn’t change it. Don’t recommend it.” But what it meant is that after barely having a chance to get to know August, I would find myself taking care of siblings.

First camping trip. Four and five months old.

By the time his brother was born, August had a pretty good ability to speak English. It included comments when his brother would cry like, “I told you we shouldn’t have picked this one.” Because like him, August thought all children were adopted. And like a lot of older siblings, he regressed in some ways. So we spent considerable time cleaning up peed on toys and sheets in his room. That felt really angry on his part. But we were yet to get his RAD diagnosis so we just thought it jealousy.

Every once in a while, something truly weird and magical happened…

As they grew (they are almost four years apart) I had hoped they’d get along and become the best of friends. Well that’s not what happened. There was the time August colored his brother’s bare bottom with a black sharpie when he was a year or two old. There was constant manipulation. August loved the outdoors and being active. His brother was into reading and music and theater. So there weren’t many things they shared an interest in. They did find some common ground in video games. Though inevitably August’s temper would bring an awful ending to most gaming sessions.

Then there was the size difference. From about the time his brother was two (which made August six), I started reminding August, “You’ll always be the older brother, even if you’re not always the bigger brother.” August was and still is, small for his age. We don’t know if that genetics or his early trauma. But his brother was born into some big person genetics so he moved past August in height pretty early on. We worried that would be a problem but August’s sense of self is amazingly healthy.

I think this is maybe 11 and 15. The height difference is way worse now.

But I was not always able to take care of their relationship and foster it the way I had hoped. And I wasn’t able to protect his brother from what August unleashed when he was raging due to RAD. It wasn’t easy to contain his anger which would move throughout the house as he would spin out of control. And sometimes August had to capture a disproportionate amount of our attention which would leave his brother with much less of our time than he deserved.

I wrote about this last Spring but today I want to talk about what to do to take care of those Siblings. How do we make sure that they don’t become collateral damage in the ongoing war for the healing of our RAD kiddo? Sometimes it seems like after doing battle with our RAD kiddo we have nothing left. Not for our spouse, our job, our home or the other children who also want our love and attention. The same as if you had a child with cancer or another chronic illness, whatever it is that forces more attention on one child, creates tremendous guilt for what you are not able to give to the others.

I was going to put together my ideas for what to do to help siblings cope with having a RAD kiddo the home, but this article hits all the buttons and puts it together with a bow. So click the link. Do it.

The important thing to remember is when there’s a child suffering trauma in a home, everyone must deal with it. Consider the stress and anxiety you are feeling and your other children are also feeling that to some degree. Consider what will help them cope and get ahead of their needs and feelings as you are doing your own self-care.

Until next time,

Shannon

Where Did My Friends Go?

Have you asked yourself, “Where did my friends go?” since you started your journey with reactive attachment disorder? For many of us, a RAD diagnosis wasn’t the parenting experience we signed up for. We dreamed of fun play dates at the park and maybe having neighbors with children of the same age who we would become life-long friends with. And we’d watch our children grow up together and go to the same schools and be on the same soccer teams. The boys and girls would date and go to prom and it would all be like a cute version of High School Musical. Until they go off to the same college and we all watch them, arm-in-arm with tears in our eyes. Then go off and celebrate with many bottles of wine!

Well that’s not how it’s going, is it? For me it wasn’t. From kindergarten through second grade, none of his friends had moms who I had anything in common with. When we moved, the neighborhood seemed more promising. It was over Spring Break during second grade and he wanted to ride the bus home the very first day. There was a boy in his class who lived in the neighborhood who’d help him so I said OK. He jumped off the bus that afternoon saying, “Mom! Can I go to Andrew’s house!” This boy had obviously made an impression and the two of them became fast friends.

He also made friends with the kiddos who lived behind us. And the boy in the cul-de-sac up the street. And a boy a couple of streets over. So you might think things from a friendship standpoint were going well for him. And as a result for me. But as is so often the case with RAD kiddos, being friends with them can be intense. And they can overwhelm their friends with attention, with demands for doing things their way and impulsivity which children don’t always understand. So his relationships with the kids in the neighborhood were somewhat fluid. They’d be fine for a while then someone would just burn out and have to take a break. So there’d be a period of no contact.

As August got older and his behaviors got more problematic, I started to feel some of the separation. It wasn’t intentional; who knows what to say to someone whose son got arrested for stealing a cell phone in 6th grade? Or bringing vodka to 8th grade? He’d switched schools so much that he wasn’t in the same schools as any of the neighborhood friends which further isolated him and us.

Then you wake up one day and you figure out your child doesn’t have anything in common with the neighborhood kids. You can’t coordinate play dates because no one wants their kiddo to play with yours. And After the stolen cell phone his Saturdays were spent doing community service. You can’t chat at the pool about what your kids are up to because there isn’t anything your kid is doing that other kids are involved in.

Any of this sound familiar? Nothing is intentional in any of this. It’s just life. Just the saga of having a RAD kiddo who doesn’t fit in the box of “normal” when it comes to social interaction. And how that translates to your social interactions as well. It can be pretty defeating and isolating when you are dealing with issues your friends and your children’s parents can only hear about and be shocked.

When August first got diagnosed I sought out comfort on social media where I found a lot of parents like me. The only problem was they all seemed to be living everywhere except where I was. And it only goes so far when you can’t crack open a bottle of wine or dive deep into a pint of ice cream over the internet.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have some amazing friends. Some who have seen me through every scream and tear and terrified moment. They hear everything August does and take it all in without judgement or alienation. And I love them dearly.

Here is an idea of why our friends may have a hard time sticking it out. Your true friends may not be able to help you but they will get you and they will stick by you. And the best friends will bring wine!

Until Next time,

Shannon

 

Defining Your Own Happiness

As soon as I wrote this title, the words came into my head from an old song by the Mamas and the Papas called, “Make Your Own Kind of Music.” I have now given you a big clue as to my age. I found a great video of Mama Cass Elliott singing it here. This is special because she was a great example at the time of someone who was defining her own happiness. So how are you defining your own happiness?

I think it’s very easy once we become parents to define our happiness by the happiness of our children. If they’re OK then we must be OK. And when you have a RAD kiddo that can be really tough. Because you are going to have days, weeks and maybe years where happiness maybe fleeting or seemingly non-existent. And it seems unnatural to search for happiness if your child is not happy. Like we are not entitled to be happy unless the rest of our family, down to the family pets are happy. How did that come to be?

This happens in families who aren’t dealing with a special needs child as well I’m sure. But living in the constant chaos and anxiety of life with a RAD kiddo means that we will be taking a backseat for a very long time. Possibly forever if our child cannot learn to live independently. So do we just sit back and wait to see if we will be able to carve out happiness for ourselves? Doing that is not healthy for ourselves, our relationships or our ability to effectively parent our RAD kiddos.

Defining your own happiness begins with not making your happiness contingent on the happiness of your partner or your children. Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work towards making them happy as well. But it does mean that you should identify what is essential to your happiness whether it involves your family or not. That’s not meant to sound harsh. Just that the more you are real about what will make you happy and content, the better able you will be to take care of your family.

So how do you go about defining your own happiness? Well, I am no expert. I spent many years caught up in the lives of my children. After August was diagnosed I was consumed with how to “fix” him. And after homeschooling, tutoring, therapy and extracurricular activities as a stay-at-home mom I got completely lost in my child. When my marriage ended and I had to go back to work and strike out on my own I had no idea what my life needed. And as the years have past and August has spiraled more away from me, my sense of self and definitions of happiness have been tossed more times than I can count.

Here are a couple of references to how to define your own happiness. This first one from Psychology Today is pretty logical and straightforward. This second one aligns much more with what it feels like to be a RAD parent. In both cases, they describe spending time soul-searching for those things which are truly yours in your search for happiness. That is what I wish for you.

Until Next Time,

Shannon

Practicing Self-care on Holidays

Well this holiday is almost over so I don’t know how much help I’m going to be today. But the topic for today is practicing self-care on holidays. Holidays tend to be the days when we spend a lot of time doing for everyone else. This can make a rough situation worse if you’ve got a RAD kiddo to worry about as well. Whether you’re at your home or at friends or relatives, making sure everything is going right seems to be the norm for us super-parents. So a RAD kiddo fiasco or getting to the end of the day feeling like you’ve run a marathon shouldn’t be surprising. Let’s dive into how we can make these holidays a little easier on us and make sure we are practicing self-care on holidays too.

Say NO. I wish there was more options in WordPress to allow me to turn that word red and make it blink or light up or write it in the sky. It’s a perfectly acceptable word. And used way too little by people in our situation. Particularly if our family and friends don’t really understand what our situation truly is. So when you’re asked to bring your apple-crumble-whatever that has 27 steps and 19 ingredients and takes three days to make…say NO. Your presence with a store-bought Kroger apple pie should be welcome enough.

Manage expectations…yours, I mean. I went to a lot of family and church and school gatherings with my hopes high that this would be the one where August wouldn’t steal something. Or mouth off. Or say something embarrassing about the food or get into it with his father. And most of the time I was disappointed. And why? What kid did I think I brought? What possible reason was there to think that this time would be any better? My love for my son is boundless but my expectations have to be realistic when it comes to his abilities in certain situations. And when I learned (I’m still learning) to do that, my anxiety level doesn’t get so high. And then my frustration level isn’t so great when things go wrong.

Make sure you find some time to be alone and get quiet. My preference would be outside but whatever you find that works for you is great. Some centering time is essential on busy days like holidays when it seems like noise is coming at you from all sides. Maybe you want to do it first thing to try and steel yourself for the day ahead. Or perhaps in the middle of the day to take a much needed break from the chaos. But at night when you’ve survived and everyone is in bed and you can celebrate that you got through can work too! Whenever you choose, take in deep breaths and just be you for a few moments.

I looked for some practical self-care advice to share and this really spoke to me. It’s less practical but it also wasn’t as focused on the “big” holidays as the other articles I found. I hope you enjoy.

Until next time,

Shannon

Pair Care: Self-care for Couples

This is not an area I am qualified about which to write. My marriage did not survive our efforts to heal August and hold our relationship together as well. But I did learn a lot from that experience which I think I can share. Hopefully some ideas on pair care: self-care for couples will work to help maintain your team which is so essential for keeping your sanity with a RAD kiddo in the house.

I love hot tea so this one spoke to me!

There will naturally be some aspects of RAD kiddo interaction that one partner might be better at handling than another. One may have more patience with homework and one may handle bedtime better. Having some conversations with each other about what might be the best division of labor helps you each play to your own strengths. That’s the first step to making sure you each don’t get burned out doing child-care that is more taxing than it needs to be. There will of course be times when you have to do something you don’t want to but keeping it to a minimum is the goal.

When you do get some free time as a couple, make sure you take full advantage of it. And that doesn’t mean copping out with dinner and a movie. It’s important that your time together is meaningful and substantial. Try something that gets you engaged together and talking rather than just in the same place at the same time. Try some of these ideas:

  • A picnic
  • A dinner at a place where you can take your time
  • A museum
  • A hike

As you can see the idea with these choices is doing things that promote talking, engagement and togetherness. Just being in the same place at the same time doesn’t count. There are other things you can do on a daily basis that will help make sure that time doesn’t pass without taking care of the relationship. Some ideas may include:

  • Leaving each other notes of affirmation
  • Small gifts
  • Doing small things that help out (getting gas for the car, laundry)
  • Find even a few moments of quiet time together
Many of these things are essential. Not sure about fairness…sometimes you have to go beyond halfway. It always works out.

For some more ideas, check out this article. The bottom line is make sure you keep each other well through also dealing with your RAD kiddo. It will be easy to get buried in the chaos of RAD. Don’t let it happen!

Until next time,

Shannon

What’s on My “To Read” List

This has always been one of my favorite sayings.

So many books, so little time. I have multiple topics I love to read about. But within those topics there are so many good books! I try to stay up on what’s current in Reactive Attachment Disorder but obviously self-care is also big on my list! And with August’s current prison stay, I’m now moving into looking for books to help me understand what to expect afterward. But what’s on my “to read” list is a constantly moving target!

In the area of books on RAD, there are not a lot of new books being published on the topic. The work being done on possibly changing the name is still under consideration so no one has published a full book on the subject. Nevertheless, there are some new books that have come out in the last few months. I haven’t read them so this isn’t a recommendation of any sort. But based on my research they look promising.

Reactive Attachment Disorder Books

  • Reversing Reactive Attachment Disorder: Overcoming Cravings The Raw Vegan Plant-Based Detoxification & Regeneration Workbook for Healing Patients. Volume 3– I know the effect of food on RAD has always been a hot topic. When August was little it was food dyes and Dr. Feingold’s diet. This one uses what is now known about the benefits of a plant-based diet focused on RAD.
  • Love Never Quits: Surviving and Thriving After Infertility, Adoption and Reactive Attachment Disorder– This is one family’s story of adopting a child from Guatemala who has RAD. After years of infertility they adopted one, then a second child and that one had RAD. She deals with her years of struggle with all these issues and the emotional roller coaster ride that it takes the family on. It sounds like the story of my life!
  • My Self Healing Journal Surviving Reactive Attachment Disorder: Prompt Journal For Families Surviving RAD/Reactive Attachment Healing Journal/Reactive Attachment Diary– This is a self-published journal and each page includes a writing prompt to help you with getting out your feelings about life with a RAD kiddo. If you don’t have a great support group and need some place to vent your feelings, this may be a good option.

The other topic I keep an eye on is help for school. This one is harder because the issues tend to be more subject-specific or child-specific. But here are a few that looked interesting:

  • Helping Children Manage Anxiety at School: A Guide for Parents and Educators in Supporting the Positive Mental Health of Children in Schools– Anxiety can infect so much of a child’s performance at school. And RAD kiddos who feel shame and have no control don’t have to look far for sources of anxiety. Add to that learning disabilities and they can have so many strikes against them. Managing anxiety can go a long way toward creating a successful school experience.
  • Lessons from the Listening Lady: Adolescents & Anxiety A family guide to making the mind, body, spirit connection– This has the same goal as the previous book but it is specifically targeted toward adolescents.
  • Words Will Never Hurt Me: Helping Kids Handle Teasing, Bullying and Putdowns– This one looked particularly interesting. August had a rough patch with bullying in late elementary school (when your name is also a month…) His quick temper and grandiose opinion of himself didn’t help him handle it well. I wish I would have had a way to better handle talking to him about dealing with it.

The last section is self-care and that is a monumental list that I could write about forever, but the easiest way to help with this is to recommend goodreads. If you’re not there, you should be! You can connect with friends and share what you’re reading, what you want to read and what you’ve read. You can look for what celebrities are reading! And you can browse by subject to get information on what the goodreads universe is reading to see what is recommended in about every genre. I’m not copping out but their self-help section is particularly good. And, of course, there’s an app for that!

Roald Dahl has been and continues to be one of mine and the boys favorite author. If he’s not as familiar to you, Google him. You’ll be amazed!

I am sure there are many more you might be reading and I would love for you to share them! And as I get through these I will post reviews! I will also move these titles and more information over to the resources page for easier referencing!

Until next time,

Shannon