Did You Eat Your Vegetables Today?

I am a self proclaimed veggie hater, always have been.  Imagine me now in my nutrition class, the research staring back at me saying how important those pesky vegetables really are.  So important, that my plate right now should hold about 75% vegetables and 25% lean protein.  That’s a tall order for me.  My breakfast plate should also be about 50% vegetables and my lunch plate 75%.  I can almost see my mother laughing at me and saying, “Really, did you think I made this stuff up?”2bm_sgg_dinner-plate-1.png

When I was a young girl, I blatantly refused to eat any vegetable other than corn, which isn’t even a vegetable.  Thankfully, I had a dog named Pierre who loved vegetables and would eat them fast when my mother turned her back.  When I was a teenager, my mother gave up fighting with me about eating vegetables.  It was I’ll admit, quite the fight and one I was not planning to lose.  When I moved out and was fully in charge of my eating, vegetables were never on my shopping list.  I was very thin and lived happily on my diet of Entemann’s cake, deli sandwiches and lunch from the Morgan Stanley cafeteria.   As a young mother, I made valiant attempts to get my children to eat vegetables.  My children all ate home cooked baby food.  I lovingly purchased fresh vegetables and fruits to cook and puree for each of them.  When they were young toddlers and began to fight with me about eating certain foods, I realized how hard it likely was for my mother.

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The dogs of 72nd St. Rusty, Rumple & Pierre

The past few months as I moved back into running training again, I’ve cleaned up my eating substantially.  I signed up for nutrition classes to learn how to better fuel my body and offset any genetic flaws.  What I did not do though is increase my vegetable intake to the level of 75% of my plate!  Clearly, I still have some work to do here!

Three years ago, when my mother was placed full time in a care center, I vowed to not go down the same path.  I knew first hand what this disease had done to my family and did not want my children to face a similar fate as my husband and I age.  Alzheimer’s robs you of your precious memories and the ability to care for yourself.  It is quite painful to watch helplessly as your loved one fades away.  I did not want this burden for my three children and hoped to find a way to prevent, or delay it.

I’ve spent three years reading any research I can get my hands on and changing my lifestyle.  It has not been an easy journey, as it is hard work.  My why has kept me pushing forward, even on days where motivation is low.  I’ve had my setbacks along the way with injuries, but the push forward has continued.  This winter, I decided to stop spending so much money on nutritionists and put that money to use in educating myself.  I’m in the middle of my second nutrition course and hope to attend IIN Nutrition in the fall.  I am more convinced than ever, that the answer to my quest to prevent Alzheimer’s does indeed rely heavily on the foods I am eating.  I know that my best hope to ensure brain health is to change the way we eat and continue to move my body.  It’s an exciting journey and one that I truly hope I will get to share with my grandchildren and great grandchildren someday.

Today, my husband brought home a beautiful piece of ham for Sunday dinner.  He shops early in the morning on the way home from the gym and was quite excited about his purchase.  I had a 5K race this morning at 10:00 AM, so was less than excited about his purchase.  When in the world did he think we’d be cooking and preparing this ham?  He had this all planned out and brought in the Crockpot from the garage.  He said that he heard we could set it up in the Crockpot and it would be ready later in the day. Since my options were limited, I went along with his plan.  I literally washed the ham and placed it in the pot with some water.  That’s it!  I set it to 8 hours on low and got ready to leave for the race.

When we returned from the race the house smelled heavenly.  I forgot how nice it was to come home to a meal in the Crockpot.  I was able to shower, relax and unwind from my morning without worrying about preparing dinner.  When we were ready, I took the meat out of the pot and sliced it up to eat.  It was soft, juicy and delicious.  I plated it with some shredded cabbage mixed with kale and baby spinach.  I prefer my vegetables raw, so a side salad of this was just perfect for me.  If you have a Crockpot collecting dust in your garage, I recommend you pull it out, wash it up and get it going again.  It was wonderful not to have to turn on the oven today.

I’d love to hear what your favorite Crockpot recipes are.  Please leave me a message below.

The book I just finished in my course was –

 

It was very helpful to read about how certain foods that I thought were healthy are not in fact healthy for me.  Interesting read, especially if like me, you have inflammation. If you read it, please leave me a comment.

 

Baked Chicken Parmesan & Zoodles

My parents got married on May 16, 1954 in Ridgewood, NY.  I have no idea what the weather was that day, or who was in my mother’s bridal party beside her twin brother Walter and my father’s only sister Catherine.  I do know that my mother’s gown was in the style of Princess Grace and borrowed from her girlfriend.  I do know that they were both very much in love that day and that’s never changed.  I also know her parents, especially her mother, didn’t approve of my father because he was an Irish Catholic.  My grandparents had hoped my mother would marry someone better, but what they didn’t realize was that she married one of the best men ever.  If they only knew how he cares for her now, as he did their entire marriage, they’d surely change their thinking.18A6340E-D300-4DBA-B749-7201A859A55C.jpeg

Sixty four years later my mom lives in a full time care center, not by choice but by necessity.  My mom has Alzheimer’s, a degenerative brain disease that robs one of their memories and ability to function.  For ten years my dad lovingly cared for mom at home, including feeding and diapering her himself.  It wasn’t until there was no other option, that he agreed to place her in the care center.  Even though she has no idea, he goes and sits there with her every single day.  He still feeds her, even though there are people there who can do so.  He brings nice outfits for the aides to dress her in and makes sure her hair is done.   Though many have criticized him for sitting there each day, there is truly no place he’d rather be.  If you’ve ever read the Notebook, you know how the story goes.  It’s heartbreaking, yet so inspiring at the same time.62F3421B-2D38-4C2C-8B27-BC97E5BF133D.jpeg

I see so many sad people when I visit the care center.  One gentlemen never married and has no family to care for him.  He placed himself in the center to live out his remaining years.  Another, after eight years in the care center, still talks about how he is getting better and will be going home soon.  He has no idea that his wife will never be taking him home again.   Not too many people come to visit these long term patients, only the rehab patients seem to have visitors.  Believe me it is extremely hard for me to go there and visit.  I dread it and some weeks it takes me a few days to not feel depressed.  When we visit we always bring Sonny along because the people there love seeing him.  We always seem to end up with other patients sitting with us when we visit, but we really don’t mind.  Like my dad, I know that there’s no place I’d rather be.

 

 

Today, after so many days of dreary gray skies and rain, the sun made a comeback.  When I went outside this morning, I couldn’t believe how hot and humid it was.  Yesterday, we had heat on in the house and today we need air conditioning.  Cooking is very therapeutic for my after my visit to the care center.  Music, wine and cooking are the best medicine to get me out of my funk.  Today, I decided to make my husband’s favorite dish today, Chicken Parmesan.  I decided to try to lighten it up though and make a somewhat healthier version.  I used chicken tenderloins instead of full breasts and baked them instead of frying.  The tenderloins were just the right portion to eat 4-6 ounces of chicken, which is all you really need.  We both felt the chicken was super tender and delicious and it cooked a lot faster too.  Swapping out the pasta for zoodles also helped to lighten up the meal.

I made a pot of Sunday Sauce this morning to use in this recipe.  I did not make meatballs as we were eating the chicken today.  I did put some hot sausage, removed from casing, into the sauce for flavor.  Recipe for Sunday Sauce can be found by clicking here – Sunday Gravy

I made the zoodles about two hours before we ate them.  I cut them in half today (after spiralizing) to make them easier to eat, as they come out very long.   Zoodles really are awesome and honestly make me feel like I don’t miss spaghetti.  The consistency of them raw works best for me.  Recipe for zoodles can be found by clicking here – Mother’s Day

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Baked Chicken Parmesan & Zoodles

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast tenderloin (1 lb. package was enough for two with leftovers)
  • Panko
  • 2 eggs
  • Fresh mozzarella sliced into strips

Directions:

  1. Cover baking tray with aluminum foil and spray lightly with olive oil spray
  2. Mix two eggs in flat bowl dish
  3. Place panko in second flat bowl dish
  4. Dip chicken in eggs, then panko and place on oiled tray
  5. Spray all chicken lightly with olive oil spray
  6. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and place in cooking tray with sauce in bottom
  8. Top with mozzarella strips and cover with aluminum foil
  9. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes covered.
  10. Serve immediately over zoodles and add sauce as needed.9F17D2BF-6920-45A3-BA91-3347DC9A42E5.jpeg

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Mother’s Day

I come from a long line of strong women.  My grandmothers Maria and Catherine were both strong, determined women who faced hardship in their lives.  They both modeled for me how to persevere and overcome obstacles with grace and dignity.  My mother was also a strong woman.  She was married in the 1950s at a time when most women did not work outside the home.  She was a stay at home mother to my two brothers and I and fully embraced her role as our caregiver.  Our house was always spotless and our life was pretty much stress free.  Mom found her true love when she was quite young and that has lasted over 60 years, in sickness and health.  She loved my dad more than anything and put him and us kids first every day of her life.

My brothers and I grew up loved and cared for even though we didn’t always have a lot.  We did always have dinner on our table and clothes on our backs.  We also always had unconditional love, as my mother put us first always.  Becoming a grandmother was the happiest time in my mother’s life.  I believe that is because my mother was a born nurturer.  She had endless patience with my children, probably more than she had with my brothers and I.  As long as they were able, my mom and dad made the trip out to my house every Sunday without fail to spend time with us and eat Sunday dinner.

Unfortunately, those days are gone now.  My mom suffers from Alzheimers and doesn’t know her own family anymore.  That is so hard for most people to even imagine or understand.  Many tell me that deep down she knows who I am.  I tell them she does not.  They tell me a mother’s heart could never forget.  I tell them it can.  At this point, she does not even know my dad, her husband of over 60 years, who sits with her every single day without fail.  I can’t think of a worse fate for my mother, who so loved her family, to suffer than this.  So, on this Mother’s Day I look back on the many wonderful memories of Mother’s Days gone by.  I can still see my mother and aunt cooking Roast Pork and potato balls in the kitchen, their tables perfectly set with china and crystal and  the house filled with kids and laughter.  These are the memories I hold tightly to these days.12A65D94-C375-4989-9400-F327E1F805D0

These days it’s just my family coming over for this holiday.  I know I’m supposed to celebrate and enjoy the day, but it is a hard day for me so we keep it simple and relaxing.  Today’s rainy weather was just perfect for this kind of low key day.  My daughter made it home first showing up before 8:00 this morning.  We went to an early yoga class together to prepare for our day.  Following that we came home and had a nice breakfast.  As we began to prepare for our Sunday sauce, my son arrived.  My other son was not able to come home this weekend and we missed him a lot.  We spoke with him on the phone and I’ll be going down by his house in a few weeks.  With the sauce simmering on the stove we all settled in to play some board games.  Today’s game choice was Scrabble since the rain kept us inside the house.

Today, we decided to have our traditional Sunday sauce (recipe can be found here Sunday Gravy).   Since I’m doing mostly plant based recipes these days, I decided to forgo the spaghetti for my plate.  I had two beautiful zucchinis that I purchased yesterday and pulled out my spiralizer and made some zoodles.  My daughter made a pot of spaghetti for anyone who wanted, but many ate the zoodles too.  They were delicious and worked perfectly with the sauce and meatballs.  I ate the zoodles raw, but you can certainly boil for a quick minute if you want them warmed.  I found the sauce warmed them up just enough for me.  Topped with parmesan, this was the perfect Mother’s Day meal.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Zoodles & Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 2 large green zucchini (washed, not peeled)
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Cut ends off washed zucchini
  2. Place into the spiralizer and spiralize
  3. Catch zoodles in salad basket and place over sink to drain
  4. Sprinkle zoodles with salt and let sit for approximately 20 minutes.
  5. Store zoodles in the refrigerator in a covered container lined with paper towels. The zoodles will release additional moisture as they sit in the container in your fridge.  The paper towel will absorb the moisture.
  6. Let zoodles come to room temperature before serving, or boil for one minute.

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This is the spiralizer I use – Paderno World Cuisine.  (Click photo to view)

Pulled Jackfruit (tastes like pork) Sandwich

Alzheimer’s sucks!  Just throwing that out there.  I’m sure anyone else who has walked this walk, knows exactly what I mean.  Alzheimer’s = losing your loved one, but they are still here.  It’s looking into your mother’s eyes and knowing she has no idea who you are.  No recollection whatsoever.  Imagine a disease that could make a mother forget her own child, or husband.  I can think of nothing worse.  In honor of this struggle faced by so many, I’ve decided this year to do a fundraiser give back for my birthday to support Alzheimer’s research and care.  It is my hope that someday soon they find a cure before another daughter, son, husband, wife or friend has to watch as their loved one fades away.  Ronald Reagan had it right when it called it the long, painful goodbye.  Please consider donating to this cause, any amount you can by clicking the link below.

Alzheimer’s Fundraiser – Laura’s Birthday

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Wish she knew whose hand she holds

My why for this blog and healthy living has always been about preventing my children from living this nightmare we are living.  If changing my eating habits gives me a better shot at avoiding this disease, then I’m in.  I’ve been experimenting with food lately and keeping an open mind about trying new foods.  Anyone who knew me as a kid, or knows me now, knows I’m not the most open to eating vegetables or new foods.  I’m a comfort food girl all the way – meat and potatoes.  But, my mom and grandmother were too, so if I want a different outcome I’ll have to step outside my comfort zone.

Today, I experimented with a new fruit I’d never even heard of until a few months ago.  I sent a recipe to my vegetarian brother for his cooking pleasure.  I asked about the fruit, but could never find it near me.  This week I found it at a local Trader Joe’s and decided to give it a shot myself.  Jackfruit is said to have the consistency of meat and take on the flavor of whatever you cook it in.  I’d never heard of it but was certainly surprised by the texture of this fruit.  It definitely has the look and texture of meat and if I hadn’t cooked it myself I would not have known it was not pulled pork.   I served it to my husband and told him it was pulled pork and he loved it and had no idea.  Of course, the BBQ sauce is what it’s all about and I’m not going to say that’s entirely healthy, but I tried to buy a healthier version.  Next time I will definitely make it myself to cut down on sugar.

Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of young green jackfruit in water
  • 1 1/2 cups of BBQ sauce
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Saute onion in unsalted butter or olive oil for 4 minutes
  2. Remove Jackfruit from can, drain and rinse.  Pat dry.
  3. Place Jackfruit on cutting board and shred with two forks.
  4. Add to pan with onion and saute for 5 minutes.7AB8123E-724E-4D79-9B1D-D2BC9FE0687F.jpeg
  5. Add garlic and saute all 1 minute longer.
  6. Add 1 1/2 cups of BBQ sauce to pan and stir.
  7. Add salt & pepper to taste (I added no salt)
  8. Stir to combine and cover to simmer for 45 minutes289D1AB0-C820-4004-8F95-9463519A57C9.jpeg
  9. As it cooks continue to shred the Jackfruit as it softens.

I served mine with homemade coleslaw.  I plated it on one half an English Muffin, but you can go ahead and serve on whole wheat sandwich rolls. F6B5CF32-9DB0-4EF6-942A-3BFA2472FED5.jpeg Here’s the recipe for my coleslaw –

Recipe Swap – Creamy, Spicy Coleslaw

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Dang, that was so good!  I could probably eat another, but packed it up for lunch tomorrow.   If you try it, please let me know how you liked it.  Tangy, spicy, crunchy – can’t you just taste it.AF1E559F-31CC-415E-B0C1-6263A20D7CBE.jpeg

Thank you to all who have generously donated.  I greatly appreciate your generosity and support.

 

 

 

 

 

We Can Rebuild Her…

Laura Kump, Principal

A runner broken down.

We can rebuild her.  We have the technology.  We can make her better than she was.  Better, stronger, faster.

I am a child of the 70s who grew up on corny television shows and slogans.  Truly, I can connect any situation to a jingle, slogan, opening song or quote.  It’s a slightly troubling habit I’ll admit, but one that helps me formulate leads when I write quite nicely.  Who can name the show this quote was taken from?

I am, as you know, injured and most likely missing the marathon I’ve trained for.  I haven’t pushed the defer button yet, because you know I’m still praying for a miracle.  If I can get this foot in a sneaker, I just may give it a go and walk/run the course.  If not, it’s over – likely it is over – but hey a girl can dream.

I’m once again planning to rebuild, learn from my mistakes and move forward toward NYC Marathon 2018.  Either way, if I make it this year or not, I’ll be there in 2018 because it’s not the experience I had in mind.  I spent my morning planning, that’s just what educators do, plan for success.  I’ve got my planning tools lined up, including my nutritionist, functional movement trainer, doctor’s orders (OK, I may not follow these exactly), books and nothing but time today to plan.  After spending some time working on planning for my job, I’ve now shifted to planning to rebuild me.

First order of business was to spend time on the phone with my nutritionist, chatting about ways to increase my intake of those pesky vegetables I love to hate and heal my broken bones.  I am going back to having a morning veggie drink in my trusty Vitamix starting Monday.  This will increase my intake of vegetables to ensure I am getting enough in my day.  I had on my to be read pile the book, The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan by Dr. David Perlmutter, a world renowned neurologist.  His work around the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain related diseases has become very personal to him following the death of his father.  He has dedicated his life to the effort to help others stay healthy through diet and lifestyle changes and I purchased his most recent book to continue my fight to reclaim my health and offset this disease.  Today, I finally opened the book and began reading.  The first quote really grabs you by the throat –

In the next eighteen minutes, four Americans will die from the food they eat.  That’s one person ever four and a half minutes.

This is the opening statement I heard recently on a TED talk given by Jamie Oliver.  He too has been leading a crusade against the use of processed foods in schools, linking it to higher than average obesity rates in children, and long term to chronic disease.   Reading this again reminded me of why I began this journey and helped to reel me in from my week of pity eating.  Lot’s of bad choices were made this week for sure.  Dr. Perlmutter states that, “You can choose your health destiny.”  This gives great hope and sense of purpose to those like me who by virtue of family history, have a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.  What goes into my mouth and body, along with other lifestyle choices, can greatly impact my physical well being.  I need to keep myself focused on that and move forward to the next chapter of my journey.

This weekend, I hope to put a shoe on my foot, a real shoe.  I’m tired of this broken toe version, though I did find I could run in it when needed this week at work.  I admit at that realization to thinking of buying a match for the other foot and running the marathon in them, but I’m thinking my feet would not appreciate that at all.  I hope to do some light rolling and stretching work and possibly take a nice slow walk.   That is my very short term exercise goal.  My nutritional goal is to plan my menu for the week, a habit I’ve shared in earlier posts, the only way I stay on track.  Tomorrow, I will cook at least three (3) meals that I will rotate for lunch and dinner all week.  I will do my food shopping for the week and plan for successful eating that curbs those junky pretzels I ate this week in place of food.

Finally, I hope to chat with my functional movement coach at some point this weekend to plan my long term recovery sessions.  I must allow some healing time for the stress fracture before getting back to Central Park, but there are always things we can do to rebuild this broken runner.  You can definitely say this woman is down, but not out.  I’m still on the road, just recalculating the road map.

I thank each and every one of you who took time to reach out to me following last week’s blog.  Your well wishes, jokes and love really were the best medicine.  Thank you for your continued support of my blog and mission.  I leave you with an exchange I had with a student yesterday that had me hysterically laughing – the best medicine of all.

Student: “What the heck did you do to your foot now.

Me: “This is the same injury I had when I saw you Monday.  You know what happened to me.”

Student: “Well, you just keep injuring that foot, don’t you.”

Me: “Guess so.”

Student: “Well, if you keep this up you know that foot may just fall off already.”

Me:  Laughing inside.  “Hope not!”

Here are some resources I’m spending time with this weekend:

Jamie Oliver’s TED talk

The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan
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Functional Movement Specialist 

Jessica Leggio, Run Pain Free

Free consultations are available (includes workout) when you mention my blog or name Laura Hess Kump.  Online option available if you can’t make the trip.  Worth the time – life changing stuff.

Always love connecting with readers of this blog for feedback and conversation.  Feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me directly.

Taking the Plunge

What do you do when you need to try something new?  Do you hesitate, or jump right in?  Do you try every new thing you encounter, or are you cautious and selective?  I am the cautious and selective type.  I like to read and research before taking the plunge, especially when it comes to what I put into my body.  I want to be healthy and not fall victim to the mind robbing disease that has devastated my family.  I must admit it is hard with so many “things” out there.  I get emails, see videos, advertisements on Facebook and encounter people who truly believe in programs on a daily basis.  If I took the plunge each time, I’d be broke and most likely still in the same boat.

The way I stay focused is to remember my why.  My why is to remain healthy, active and maintain my memories long into my 90s.  With this in mind, I must remain careful about what I eat and drink.  My philosophy around nutrition is that food is fuel for my body and the means to remaining healthy.  These weight loss programs sound so darn appealing and I must admit those who have had success are totally passionate and committed to them.  The before and after photographs are so inspiring and I am extremely happy for them all.  But, I just can’t do them.  Those programs are not for me as I don’t want to get my nutrition from powders and pills and often if you dig deep enough the ingredients are not totally pure.

With the exception of Purium, a program which I’ve yet to find any bad ingredients in, most of the other programs have at least one ingredient that just won’t work for me personally.  I did use Purium for a while last year and will say I had no problem buying it.  I truly didn’t mind the expense and it was expensive.  My only problem with some of their drinks was the taste.  For me, they just didn’t taste good.  I am a fan of the Apothe Cherry drink and like to drink that at bedtime.  I found a version that cost less though and has the same impact for me.

Dynamic Health Tart Cherry Turmeric and Ginger Tonic Supplement, 16 Ounce

I mix 2 tbs of this juice with 8 oz of water and drink about 30 minutes before I go to bed.  You can drink it straight, but I prefer to dilute it.

Last week, I told you I was planning to do a 10 day green cleanse and shared the book I use with you.  I cleaned up my act this week for sure, but still was not able to feel totally on track again.  It just feels like there is something every day that gets in the way of my nutrition.  I made better choices and definitely lost 5 pounds, but I’m still not satisfied that I’m fueling my body properly.

This week I attended two days of professional development, not for nutrition mind you.  As part of the presentation, the presenter was sharing his struggles with weight loss.  As he talked, he shared an app that he was using to keep focused.  I am not a fan of programs, but found myself at a center signing up that very afternoon.  I have decided to do this program only because –

  1. I get to prepare and cook my own food.
  2. I don’t have to count or think about anything.
  3. I will get daily feedback on my journey.

I signed up at Weight Watchers not because I need them to tell me how to eat, what to eat or why to eat that way.  Believe me I know that already.  I signed up because they have made it so easy to monitor what I am doing on a day to day basis.  I love the app (yes I know I could just use a free app) and how simple they have made it to track my day.  Yes, the program is about tracking points and that’s just fine.  Yes, I’m aware that it really is about counting calories and portion control.  Yes, I know that I need to eat healthy fats and this program attempts to limit that, but I think I can make this work to keep me focused and get me back on track.

Right now, I can eat 30 points a day.  My superfood coffee counts as 9.  Though they would encourage me to swap that out, I know I need the healthy fat it contains and that in the long run it connects to my why.  I am able to eat vegetables and fruits as low point and no point options.  So, of course you know this will motivate me to increase my intake of those foods from my least favorite food group.  The best feature of all is I don’t have to convert or count anything to figure out points.  I get to simply scan the barcode and it’s there, or type in the food.  Thank you for this wonderful feature!  Lastly, you get points to swap the more you move which sure motivated me to take an extra walk last night with my dog.

Am I excited about the program itself, not so much.  Am I excited to have a focus to get me ready for training, yes!  This sign up for me was for a 3 month pass.  Just enough time to get ready to toe the line for my marathon training program which officially starts in June.

I’d love to hear your success and failure with Weight Watchers.  Please feel free to share below, or shoot me an email.