Here comes the rain!

It sure would be nice if the photo I chose was the picture I am seeing out of my window this moment. This is in fact a picture my daughter took at some point when she went to Alaska. I can’t say for sure where that is as she went with her Grandpa and Aunt several years back. Somehow I liked the photo and it stayed in my computer. As it would seem I think I only take photos on clear days, at least from the look of it anyhow.

So for days we were hearing about Tropical Storm Erika. I did the best I could to prepare my yard and home for the upcoming storm. Seems while I was busy around here, Erika fell apart. Just because it fell apart has nothing to do with the amount of rain we are expected to get. Much of Tampa and the surrounding area’s have been saturated for some time. I actually just noticed on Friday, a place I have been seeing flooded for weeks was actually dry.  Today when I passed there it was a giant mess again and I am sure I will find a different route to the hospital come Wednesday.

I am looking out of my window, and notice that it is getting close to sundown, It has been thundering on and off for hours and its a light to medium steady stream of rain. It is actually quite peaceful to listen to. I have it very quiet in my room, my oldest daughter has friends over and my son is playing the game in the living room, while the little one is doing her treatment. (she has special needs)

I just opened the window to see if I could start to feel the breezes, It is not time. It is still warm and the winds have not picked up at all. So many years we prepare for storms that do not come. Other years we don’t prepare, thinking they never come and sure enough it storms all season and we always have power outages. In the area I am living in now is right off of the river about the length of one average city block. There are lots of old trees in the area and you always seeing broken branches in the streets. This happens even when it is just a regular summer thunderstorm.

I am quite certain that Tampa will see lots of flooding but I don’t believe we are in much danger of anything else. I am pretty thankful for this. When I was younger I used to get very scared this time of year. I would buy so much water, food that did not need cooking or heating or could be cooked on the grill if need be. I would make something the night before like fried chicken or a bunch of grill cheese sandwiches. I would prepare to stay home or if I got really paranoid I would go to another family members home(this was based on where I lived usually)(I have moved a lot in the last 20 years).

This is the first time I have had to do this alone in a long time. When my husband was alive he would gather up my the two older kids and they would take care of the yard and make sure nothing should be flying into someones windows in the event of high winds. They would take care of the outside, I would take care of the inside. Make sure we had flashlights and candles. Sometimes you get worried and get candles and don’t think of a lighter or matches. After 20 plus years in Florida I have learned a thing or two about Hurricane season.

I have been fortunate enough to never live here when the area has received a direct hit. I have been here through many tropical storms. Many many no named storms and many threats. Sometimes you don’t get the high intense winds but you get enough to cause damage. Sometimes they sprout waters spouts and tornadoes. I have seen the footage on the news but have never actually witnessed it.

Right now before the heavy rains start I will decide what to get my kids to eat. It is not like the old days. They used to eat whatever. The oldest eats only chicken no other meats and barely any vegetables. My middle one eats no meat at all and he does eat vegetables but he prefers salads with all kind of different stuff in them. My little on is a dialysis patient and she must follow her diet, with all that being said cooking is no longer a fun family event its a ugg, what do you want event. So the one thing they will all eat (rarely of course) is spaghetti. I have to make two sauces one with meat and one with out. This sometimes works but is kind of boring and not great really great for the little one.

Hope that it rains steady and peaceful when I get back from the store of course!

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525600 Minutes- Just like in Rent!

https://youtu.be/s1c3MARlJ0Q This is a link to the song referenced in the Title.

I don’t know if you have seen Rent? I only saw it about 2 years ago for the first time, but I have seen it many times since. I first saw it live in a high school performance. I was blown away that such an emotional show was put on by such a young age group of performers.

The reason I had this song on my mind is right now when I started this post it was literally 525615 minutes from when my husband passed away. He slipped into a coma about 4-5 days before he passed. He was in hospice(in an actual hospice house) for about 9 days total.

I can’t even express the emotions that I have felt over these last minutes, days, months. It has been one year. I never thought I would make it one minute and here I am alive. I am handling it, each day brings different emotions. Someday’s I miss him almost desperately, other days I enjoy the fact that I had the opportunity to love and be loved. I don’t really know how else I am supposed to feel. I did not know if I would ever take off my wedding band? would I switch hands? What would I do with that unknown emotion and process? Well over that year I figured it out about two weeks ago. I had to change my medications and I am retaining some fluids. My fingers are swollen and although my diamond fits just fine my band is too snug to be comfortable and I had to take it off. At least that unknown was answered for me.

Over the course of this year. I have lost my husband. My kids lost their Dad. I took a chance I quit my really crappy job for a chance at a better job. I worked just a few short months and I got axed because they did not want to invest the time in expanding the position. It was a starter position. They give me 100 phone numbers to call. They expected me to continue to call these same numbers for almost 9 weeks. I was through the 100 numbers ever 2-3 shifts. I was set up to fail and I did fail. First time in my life something like that ever happened. I have always been successful where ever I have worked. Most people either know me from School or know my from somewhere I worked. I believe most would attest I am a hard worker. I have experienced true financial hardship during this time. I have taken my daughter to dialysis 156 times this year. We have gone to more appointments than I can count. I have disassociated myself from all of my husbands family except 1 brother and his family and his half-sister whom I only got to meet one time. We keep in touch via the internet and I am glad that we have gotten to know each other a little at least. I have pretty much had to learn how to be single again. It is not like a single, like a break up and you want to move on, date other people, make changes. Being widowed is more like you are being forced to deal with all these changes that you really did not plan for nor want.  That is a lot of things that were not that great this past year. I found out I need a knee replacement in one leg, Had knee surgery on the other leg, and found out that will need replaced as well.

Now for some of the better things that happened over these 525600 minutes:

My son completed 8 and 9th grade on the computer doing virtual school. He also learned how to take care of the yard, fix things around the house, help with the laundry and basically take over some of the things that Dad would do. Like making sure his little sister is not doing anything she is not supposed to. He takes care of the dog and the bearded dragon and he is showing signs that he will have many success’ in his life.

My oldest daughter moved out and moved back in and is getting ready to move out again. She has gone from taking her Dad’s death very hard to working , working on relationships and moving forward with her life. She has learned to move past some things that were holding her back and she is showing some signs of true adulthood. I look forward to seeing where life will take her.

My youngest has brought her reading up 3 grade levels. She has gone from refusing to discuss school and reading to, hey Grandpa can you buy me this book I am interested in. She has attended 156 life saving dialysis treatments. She has finally met the medical goals she has been working towards to be re-listed on the kidney transplant list.

Our dog has gone from a little puppy to a big 70 pound bundle of playfulness. He has learned so many things. Tricks are not one of them. Sitting is though and we are proud of our boy. He sit’s like a scholar, just ask his loving siblings if that is how he would refer to them?

I could go on and on with all the things that have happened. So many details,

I saw my family experience true grief. I sit here now with tears on and off. I miss my husband. I miss his touch, his smile, his need to debate, his smell, there are so many things to miss. I know my kids have a hard time. We all have pretty good sense of humors and we take advantage of that. We need to. Life has dealt us some pretty difficult situations and we continue to adjust. As humans this is what we do, adjust, adapt, call it what you will but that is what we do.

In Rent, Angel went from this fun-loving, lively, energetic character to the end of his life. All of the characters have hurdles to jump and emotions and problems to work on. A year sure changes a lot in their lives and a lot in mine.

I do, so enjoy seeing Rent. The characters had me at the opening act. I couldn’t pick a favorite part but I have been known to randomly sing out, Jump Over the Moon. So that might be an indicator of a favorite scene.

I am hoping that anyone who read’s this will look at their 525600 minutes and see what happened with theirs.  I know for my self just writing this opened my eyes, see I started this while tears were streaming down, all I could think of was wow last year exactly now I was dealing with losing him. It is one of the worst things that can happen. Lose someone you love to a horrible disease. There was not one thing we could do to change it either. I also realized that my little unit is pretty strong. My kids whether the storms. They have learned to buckle down and I am nothing short of proud of them. I also learned that among all the bad things we had to go through we went through some good ones too.

Steroid Psychosis- a personal experience

There are some things in life we don’t ever believe we would have to experience. Not only do we not believe we would experience them, but we don’t even focus on the the fact that these things could happen. Why would we? I don’t know but I did experience this and there are many times that I believe me and my children we traumatized by this entire experience.

My husband, was a really great guy. Sure he had his issues, and maybe even a little more than the next guy but he did not deserve to leave this earth the way he did. Well in his opinion he did. He always said,”I have done a lot of bad things and I will die a miserable death from some horrible disease.” I would get angry and tell him shut up, you are being dramatic. Well he must have had great instincts, in fact he did but who would think that great. In November 2013 he was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer(glioblastoma). This is the most deadly and aggressive brain cancers a person can get. Sadly by the time we found out treatment was only a way to delay the inevitable. He did fight with everything a person could fight with. He did have his ups and downs and he did pass on knowing just how much his wife and kids loved him and a few other people as well.

When I took him to the emergency room, the staff(front desk) thought he was over reacting. They saw him going in and out of the front doors. He kept sneaking cigarettes(he had quit for a very long time but some how right before we knew he was sick he started again) He was on the phone and talking and joking and being himself. However, I knew that he was very sick. I knew the crap he was talking was not really making sense. I knew that the time frames he would be referring to were not current and he was not seeing correctly. He was walking into things and other signs only someone who knew him would notice.

When he finally saw a nurse they saw his heart beat was extremely low. This concerned them. I told them he is very sick. Terrible headaches and he is confused and so on. They agreed to do an MRI. I guess they saw something when assessing him that they agreed something was going on. Once they did the MRI, the doctor came in and said we have an ambulance on the way, you are being transferred to another hospital. Your brain is very swollen and we see a lot of blood. We don’t even know how you are walking and talking. At that moment he passed out and I had to soak in the information and try to comfort him. I made the pertinent phone calls and went to pick my son from school and bring him to my daughters who were both at home. I told them what was going on and went to the other hospital. After a few days we transferred hospitals again only to get the proper diagnosis.

After the brain biopsy a few days later we went home. We had the first appointment with the cancer center. We were told by the oncologist, that with out treatment he has days to weeks to live. He opted for the chemo and radiation. This bought him 9 months and I am very happy he did. Funny that I started this off explaining that we should be traumatized but I have not told you why. The reason for this is I want you to understand the back story a little. We were in love and we had our issues but who does not. Our kids were scared they loved their Dad and I was scared also. We banded together to make this as comfortable for him as possible.

This is the part that gets crazy. At first they started him on a lowish dose of Decadron. This is a very potent steroid. This is the kind of medicine that if not monitored properly will make a person insane and violent. They call this steroid psychosis. The doctors or nurses or anyone else mention this to the patient or the family. For a guy whose brain was shot he was pretty in tact. When he was on the low does I would joke and say here honey I have your cocaine ready. Time for you to run around the house and clean. He did this for weeks. He had fun cleaning it was easy for him to do and kept him busy. After about 3 weeks we noticed he was becoming a little obsessive about it. We also notices that he was easily annoyed. We mentioned to the doctor. We were told this is probably from the brain cancer and we should expect a lot of ups and downs with his personality.

Weeks are passing. His health is up and down as they said they kept increasing the steroids to deal with the increase of the swelling in his brain. After this whole nightmare ended we were told that this is a necessary evil. Well now he was starting to get really hyper. He would want to exercise and smoke cigarettes, he would want to eat every 2 hours and clean and go here and go there. He was literally running me to the ground as in between taking him back and forth to chemo and radiation and all of his extra and I do mean extra curricular activities, I had to take care of my kids, I had to take my daughter to dialysis three times a week and deal with all of her medical issues. I also worked part time and had a torn meniscus(knee) and required surgery. I was at my wits end and he would be more and more hyper. When I say hyper I mean. Lets paint the house(that we rent), Lets re arrange the furniture. Lets go here and there and back again. Lets clean out the garage. Lets go to the casino, Lets go and lets go. I could not go for much longer when he started becoming weird. At first it was my son who had it the worst. He would start talking to him about the bible. He was saying weird things and insisting he saw angels. Then he started forcing my son to pray. I mean pray out loud prayers he does not know, never learned and never needed to learn as I am Jewish and our kids are raised that way. He then started on all of us. He would be very nice to every one and then curse us out. He would call us names that would make the toughest guy in the world blush. He would get angry about nothing and because of the steroids he was strong. Because of the cancer he was starting to go crazy and because of the steroids he was becoming psychotic.

There were days were he would choke us, me the kids, any combination. Calling the cops on him would be quite counter productive. It was not him. He was very sick and dying. He did not need to be abused and sent to jail. One day he was so crazy and mad about nothing I was driving us home from who knows where and doing 50 down a main road. He reached over and turned my car off. He grabbed the key with such force it bent in half. Luckily I am a good driver. Luckily I know how to handle pressure and luckily we did not crash. He would get angry regularly and say he was moving out. He would literally pack everything he believed he owned(meaning well I paid for the tv, I bought that picture, I picked out those pillow) everything. He would say he was moving out and put everything in front of the house. When he was really really mad he would call his family, mother, sister and tell them that we don’t take care of him. That we don’t feed him and we hide his medicine. He would tell him that our oldest daughter was to busy screwing the guys in the neighborhood to help him get dressed and get to the bathroom. He said I was not taking him to his appointments. This of course was far from the truth. We stayed with him every minute day and night and when he ever got to a reasonable amount of steroids again he did realize it. That is the saving grace in the whole thing is that he did not leave this earth angry mean and violent.

This steroid induced rage lasted about 2-1/2 months. We had days that were truly nightmares. We had to listen to him every word he said or he would flip out. He would call family members and lie to them. Sometimes he would decide to fight with them to. They always blamed it on us. They believed we were being bad to him and all the crazy lies they believed. To this day I can’t stand them for sitting home living their lives while he literally went crazy abusing us and then they have the nerve to think we did something wrong. My mother in law to this day exactly one year past his death has not seen my children, asked how they. 90 percent of his family is out of our lives now. Sad, but good they are pretty worthless anyway.

My family did not know what we were going through. I never believed they would understand. I would lie and say he was not feeling well so no one would visit. I just did not want them to see the holes in the walls and the broken things from his fits of rage. I can look back on it and laugh as I have a gift of sense of humor. I am blessed with the ability to say it was not him. He loved me, he loved us this was the drugs talking. When we finally could not take him anymore I had to do something drastic. I felt that he was going to really harm us more than what we already were and I did not want to see it turn into a tragedy. I gave him Tylenol and told him it was his medicine. I knew that once the steriods started wearing down he would crash. He would fall asleep and feel like crap. The steroids were keeping him alive, they were also killing him. Finally he woke up feeling down and hurting and sad. He said I think I am dying now and I need to go to the hospital. I played the loving wife and comforted him. Once we got to the hospital they doped him up on the steroids again. They admitted him just because he did not feel well and the stage of his disease. The emergency did not understand that he was going crazy from the steroids. It took several days of him being in the hospital for it to start getting resolved. It took for nurses to hear him screaming at us on the phone when we were down stairs in dialysis with my youngest daughter. He would swear we were out doing something bad. He would be nice in front of the doctors and nurses but be mean to us. Finally after a doctor saw me crying in the hallway to listen to me. I explained what was going on and he knew right away that it was the steroid psychosis. He was not the doctor caring for him. The only way he was able to help was by putting him in a seizure room. This way he was being monitored by camera. This way they could see what was really happening when they were not in the room. They saw him throwing waffles at the kids. They saw him screaming at us and all kind of things. They would come in the room and he would pretend to be nice and that we were playing. He would want us to go along. Of course we did because we did not want more problems but we would tell the nurses when we would go into the hallway for whatever reason. Eventually they figured out they need to get him weaned down to the lowest possible dose. This would take many weeks and we would not see the benefit for several weeks. They have us some medicine that would knock him out if he went crazy at home and sent him home. Well he was crazy for about 3 weeks or so. We agreed to take him home only if he would agree in front of the doctors that if he went crazy at home he had to take it. Well too bad that did not happen he would throw the pills across the house and call a cab to take him somewhere. He would have no money and I would have to send the cab driver away. This was a very very low point in our lives. The kids and I were really starting to be afraid of him. We were tired. We were annoyed and we were scared we would never see him as himself again.

Finally he got to a reasonable dose. He was awake and functioning but not psychotic. This was better. He did not remember anything from that time. He did not remember painting, He kind of remember making the  holes in the walls. He did not remember the name calling and choking and punching and everything else. He did not remember cursing out his mother. This all came back on me eventually. When he started getting normal again. He would call them. They would say are they still treating you bad. That wife and daughter and all this nastiness. He would lie to me and say they did not say it but I would be sitting right next to him and hear the conversation. He felt terrible and spent many many nights apologizing for hurting us. It took the kids a while to get close with him again. They always loved him and that is what allowed us to look past the horribleness of it all.

As the time passed his health continued to fail. We did everything possible to fight it. I loved him with all my heart and while he was going through that terrible time, I kept it to myself. I did not share with anyone except one time his sister because he called and forced her to come get him. That was one of his big moving out days. I told her he was going crazy. She took it like really, but not serious.

He was admitted to the hospital several times during the next few months. Each time he came home a little weaker, a little more tired and a little nicer. He eventually got so nice that it was nicer than I ever knew him. This made it so much harder to lose him. I would try so hard to boost him up. Any little thing he did I would tell him he was great and full of will. He eventually lost his left side completely. He would still walk. He would use his right side to his full advantage until this no longer was possible. He did fight this horrible disease with as much fight as you could ask for. He kept positive. He would make this videos and looking back on them I cry my eyes out. He would sit at the table for hours drawing and it would usually be something saying that he loved me or one of the kids names or something that was easy for him. He really did amazing considering our first visit to oncology told us days to weeks to live. He managed to get past the horrible couple of months and make the next and last 7 a whole lot better. Even when he would lay in the bed for weeks on end and barely get up to eat or use the bathroom, he would yell out Babe- I love you. He would do roll call with the kids and tell them how much he loved them no less than 20 times a day. No one could know just how much he needed to say it and we needed to hear it. I still see his face all swollen, with his eyes shut and him yelling to my oldest daughter, he would yell hey G come here. She would be right next time him watching tv or reading and he would say you know I love you. We spent months sitting quietly while he rested. The kids, the dogs and I would just sit there. We did not know what to say or do. We would just talk to him when he was awake. The good thing is that with each down came an up for a while. He would have up days or nights where we would actually have fun. We would watch movies. We would make videos play cards and one night we even sat and had a few drinks(this is rare for us ever and I mean ever) We would take those good times and cherish them. My oldest daughter and I spend months researching this disease, If there was a way to cure him of it we would have found it for sure.

I would hope that no one ever has to experience this disease, or any like it. I know that cancer is a monster that just keeps on. I would hope if you had the time to read this and the misfortune of knowing someone that must take these high dosed steroids to see the signs before they experience what we experienced.

I hope my kids really can move past all the bad and just remember the good. I know that is not really possible as I know I can’t. But like I said before I am quick to make a joke to help ease the pain.

I will always and forever miss him. In 9 days it will be the one year anniversary of his death. I don’t really think this is the kind of anniversary we dreamed of. Hoping he is resting in peace….until we meet again.

Today’s plan- Yellow Rice and Empanadas

For the past two years my children and I don’t enjoy home made cooking like we used to. When my husband was still alive we thrived on sitting together as a family for dinner and other meals when possible. We did our best to cook regularly and for the most part the kids loved when he cooked. He made the best Chicken Wings ever and mostly everything he cooked came out very good.

When he got sick, some how or another he started only wanting Sandwiches and fast food. I did learn through reading a lot about brain cancer that is very typical. I figure it has a lot to do with loss of ability. It is hard to hold a fork and knife. It is embarrassing having to admit you can no longer do these things so you tend to over compensate. I don’t have a taste for any of my favorite foods I just want a Bacon Egg and Cheese on a Bagel several times a day. We ate a lot of junk as we were constantly in the hospital and times were difficult.

During that time I injured my knee. It got bad enough to need surgery. This put in even bigger damper into the cooking thing. Now he is gone just about a year and I just had surgery on my other knee two weeks ago. It has been a long hard battle for me and my kids and we work through it the best we can. Since going out is pretty hard when you are broke and can barely walk, we spend a lot of time home and sadly it is very hard to get back on track when you are in those situations, plus my kids diet’s are a pain in the butt. My oldest daughter does not eat any red meat or pork and she is very very selective about the poultry she eats. She is not too fond of veggies and she is difficult. The good thing is she is about to be 22 and for the most part she tends to her own meals (at least when her boyfriend is around) My son is almost 16 and he does not eat any meat or poultry or fish. Only fruits, veggies, carbs and snacks he is not vegan but that is because he is learning what fruits and veggies he really likes and what of the soy and tofu kind of things he likes. My youngest daughter is 11 and she is a dialysis patient. She has a strict renal diet and fluid restriction. I just want to lose this extra weight and be healthy so I will be around for a while if I can help it anyway.

So with all that being said Cooking is fun, but its stressful. What does everyone want that everyone will eat and that will not drive me crazy and make me stand for long periods of time. Well- that is usually the hard part.

Two out of three love Yellow Rice- 1 loves chicken empanadas, 1 loves beef empanadas and one loves them stuffed with onions and peppers and olives and cheese and little yellow rice. This is can be done all in one meal. It is time consuming but I can sit and stand while preparing and cooking as I have to make the two different meats and rice but then I can sit and cut everything up and put them together then I just have to heat the oil and fry.

I was blessed enough to have been taught to cook a little Spanish food from an old friend. Her first husband was Cuban and her second was Puerto Rican. She learned from the different mother in laws and she of course added and changed to make it her way which was delicious and I have also learned to change to make it perfect for our taste.  It did not hurt that my husband was Puerto Rican and Italian so he taught me a lot also. He could not and would not learn to cook rice though.

I will share a quick version of the recipe but should you have any questions and need more information about something please feel free to ask. My daughter said this should be a secret recipe like Dad’s sauce but I don’t agree. I feel if you have something that is great you should share it and let other people enjoy also. But hey to each their own right!

Yellow Rice

Rinse rice-  In rice pot add the following seasonings

2 tbsp Sofrito – I like the Goya Brand frozen(I also keep it defrosted in the fridge) with dry seasonings I use a about 1/2 tsp but you can adjust to your flavor

1 packet Sazon(with Achote(color)) and 2 sprinkles yellow coloring (badia sells for 1 dollar in the spices section) if you use too much will get like an orange color(it dry food coloring)- if you can’t get the yellow coloring in your grocery store you can use a couple of teaspoons of tomato sauce it will help color it but too much could change the flavor so you will have to adjust for that. I leave it out as this is a terrible meal for my daughter that is on dialysis too much sodium and too much potassium and way way too much salt(I actually leave most of this out for her and put a little hot sauce and she thinks it’s the same but please don’t tell her that)

garlic powder, adobo, black pepper, onion powder about 1 tbsp of olive juice(just from a regular jar of olives) also about 8-10 olives and a tsp of oil

Mix well and start heating on low( you can add other ingredients gondules, meats,etc) Add the rice and mix well in seasonings. Make sure all of the rice is evenly coating. Add water and boil when most of the water is boiled down add lid and lower temp until tender.

Empanadas-

I buy the shells pre-made. I like using the Goya brand also. They have a piece of plastic in between each shell and that helps them from sticking together while you are preparing them all to be fried.

I fry with vegetable or canola oil.

Cut up about 1/2 a green pepper, 1/2 onion and about 30 green olives.

Shred about 2 cups of cheddar cheese- I like the mild better

I use boneless skinless chicken for the chicken and very lean for the beef.

I chop the ground beef as small as possible and the chicken I cut into very small pieces.

I season them both the same only the chicken I leave out the ground cumin. For whatever reason it changes the flavor and not for the better.

Season the meats with a few tbsp’s of  Sofrito, the beef gets a whole packet of sazon and the chicken gets a half packet.  1/2 tsp each, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, ground cumin(beef only) season salt, garlic salt, olive juice and if you have it a few shakes of Mrs dash regular.

Drain all liquids and oils from meat and chicken.

Set up your preparing table with a couple of plates, and forks and spoons and bowls, mix together the peppers,onions and olives in one bowl, the cheese in another the meat on a flat surface (I like to use those plastic cutting boards) and lay out the shell add 1 tsp shredded cheese 1 tsp onion,pepper mix and 1-1/2 tsp’s meat or chicken. I work with one and then the other. Fold in half make sure all ingredients are in the middle and then press the sides down neatly and tightly with a fork on both sides so they look like the photo.

Heat oil and fry to a golden brown and serve with hot yellow rice and hot sauce is how we do it here!.

Enjoy and be careful frying.

PS my son gets the ones with only the veggies and cheese and a spoonful of rice. He likes it. There are so many ways this can be done. We have also made Breakfast Empanadas in the old days when everyone ate meat and eggs.