Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Four Key Steps for Finding Love as a Single Mom

Dear friends,

So as you all know if you've only read me once or twice, I basically suck at love.   Yup, there I said it.  I asked my friend, Honorée Corder (author of The Successful Single Mom) for some much needed help.  Here are her 4 steps for finding love, I'm going to take her wise advice.  Please enjoy her piece about her journey to find love again and her great suggestions!


The Single Mom
The Art of Finding Love As a Single Mom

My philosophy on the art of dating is quite simple:

Dating is an opportunity to ask for what you want, say what you’re looking for (your purpose for dating), date lots of people (as many as you’d like), have fun and enjoy the process, have almost zero expectation, and remain unattached to the outcome.

When you engage in the art of dating from the right place physically, mentally and emotionally, you actually stand a better chance of ending up with the person who is the best fit for you sooner. Much sooner.

If you’ve been searching for “the one” and beating your head against the wall, crying yourself to sleep, or lamenting to your BFF how “a good man is hard to find,” well, stop it. You will only get what you want when you make up your mind about what that is, and get smart about your search.

I write all about my journey to finding my husband of five years, my Mr. Wonderful, in The Successful Single Mom Finds Love! Before I found him, before I got smart, I had to kiss a lot of frogs, cry too many tears, and spend countless hours and dollars on men who didn’t deserve the time it took to write this sentence. I want to save you some time, aggravation, heart-ache and babysitting dollars. Are you ready? Then let’s get started.

Ask for, and Get, What You Want

Remember: There is someone out there who wants for you to give him what you want to give and who will give you what want you to receive.

Your role in this process is to speak your truth (state your “purpose for dating”), and sort and keep sorting until you’ve found the person you’re going to date, live with, marry, have children with, all of the above, or none of the above.

Oh yes, and you probably will want to enjoy the process. Therefore, decide right now that you’re going to begin this process when, and only when, you can commit to yourself to enjoying the process and not before.

I make it sound so easy, right? Actually it’s simple, but I recognize it’s not necessarily easy because of the way we are wired and because of the way we’re used to doing things.

Here’s your new dating process:

1.                  State your “purpose for dating” all the time. Tell everyone within the sound of your voice what and who exactly you’re looking to find. They may have a brother, son, nephew, cousin, co-worker, or neighbor who sounds like a good fit. You just never know where your Mr. Wonderful is going to come from.

2.                Have fun and enjoy the process. What’s the point if you don’t have fun and enjoy the process? When all of your energy is wrapped up in “finding,” you won’t be “enjoying.” Inject fun into the dating that you do! Go to new restaurants, indulge in new foods, try miniature golfing, go hiking, learn how to SUP (stand-up paddle), learn a new language, train for a triathlon. All of these activities put you in front of people, many of them new people.

3.                Have no expectations. What if you could just go on a date and the only expectation you have is that you’re going to have a conversation (maybe even a good one) and a nice meal? Wouldn’t that take the frenetic energy out of the date? The energy that holds expectation and hope and even a little bit of crazy? Wouldn’t that be nice? Yes, yes it would. Nod and smile, so I know you’re with me, okay?

4.                Don’t be attached to the outcome. Don’t worry if “he’s the one,” just do your best to have a good time, enjoy your dinner and movie, flirt your ass off, and then wait and see what happens.

There are two other love-finding tips I want to share with you.

First, do what you haven’t been doing: go on more dates or dress differently. Go out with your girlfriends, or even take a weekend away by yourself. In other words, do the thing that scares you the most when it comes to dating. Shake things up. Shake yourself up! You deserve to try something new and get a new, great result.

Second, save yourself for the best fit, i.e., you deserve the best. So no settling! I mean it: this part is where I insist you not settle. Good enough is just not good enough.

This process isn’t about finding Mr. Perfect. He just simply doesn’t exist. This process is about finding Mr. Perfect-For-You. My husband isn’t perfect (pretty darn close), but he is perfect for me. We compliment each other so well, and that makes our relationship harmonious, most days, anyway.  I’m so clear I’m not perfect, but he swears I’m perfect for him. That’s a pretty great feeling, a feeling you, too, deserve to have.

Bio: Honorée Corder is a Personal Transformation Expert, Keynote Speaker and the a best-selling author of The Successful Single Mom book series, The Successful Single DadPaying4College: How to Save 25-50% on Your Kids College EducationPlay2Pay: How to Market Your College-Bound Student-Athlete for Scholarship MoneyTall Order!, and the upcoming Vision to Reality.

Learn more on her website 
here. Visit her Single Mom blog here and her Personal Transformation blog here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Going Deep

Today I’m going to be painfully honest with you and it scares me to admit what I’ve been feeling.  I started this blog as a leap of faith almost three years ago, I honestly didn’t know if I was a good enough writer, funny enough or had anything to say that mattered.  I always wanted to write and leave a legacy of words on the world in my own way.  I wanted those words to make you laugh, inspire, teach, entertain and sometimes even touch your heart.    

While none of those goals changed, my circumstances did, drastically.   I can’t even read some of my first posts today because I don’t know who that woman was, she sure isn’t much like me today.   Ouch, I can’t believe I really wrote that and haven’t backspaced it yet.  Yikes.    When I began writing this blog, although I just got dumped and fired I had no idea that life was about to suck even more.

I’ve written some about these hard days and I don’t want to rehash a bunch of that stuff, but to review, life got increasingly more challenging after I started writing this blog.  What I’m about to say sounds corny, but I truly think some of those experiences shaped me to be a better writer.  While they sucked on ice, I’m also grateful for them because they helped me go deeper and have more to share.

This time in my life forced me to realize that if I was going to inspire YOU, then I had to get my shit together first and put good stuff in my dome.   It was a downside of having an audience, in a small way I felt responsible to put some good crap in your heads, my writing had to have more substance than high heels, lip gloss and making out.  It had to.   Fortunately, I’ve attracted an intelligent audience who likes to be entertained and wants some depth with it.    I realized that this blog couldn’t just be a cheap lap dance, but it could still be sexy.  

In the beginning, I was naïve.  I thought I write these fun little dating tales and it would be fun for both of us.   I’d eventually end up meeting someone terrific who would worship me silly and you would clap and cry tears of joy.  Eventually, I’d bore the crap out of you as all I had to share was our boring trips to Home Depot to pick out tile.   Spoiler alert: that shit didn’t happen, now did it?   Nope.    Almost three years of dating and writing and I’m closer to going cat lady crazy than shopping for tile. 

The last two and a half years have been extremely difficult to endure.   There were many nights I went to sleep hoping I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.  I didn’t know how I’d get through another day, let alone another week. 

The two reasons my life has become so challenging  were financial struggles and that my ex stopped being a parent to the boys.   Before this, I could at least count on being a wild and crazy bachelorette every other weekend and having some time to catch my breath.  Now, I don’t have that at all.  It’s been harder to have a life, be a good mom and to maintain a job, to be quite honest with you.   I hate admitting this but I need a break from being a mom, a weekend, an overnight, anything.    I feel like a failure for thinking that let alone writing it, but it’s the truth.  I don’t feel like I’m my best and therefore not able to give my best to the boys. 

In some ways I also feel like I’ve failed you, my reader.   I want to be writing happy, sexy posts consistently.  Heck, I’ve barely been able to write at all.  But hey guess what, life isn’t always what we expect and I know you understand.   But I’m hard on myself, harder than I’m sure you are.  

Another reason I feel like I’ve failed you is because I haven’t found love.  I haven’t written that perfect walk into the sunset, holding another hand.   Sometimes, I wonder what is wrong with me but lately, I’ve realized that it goes deeper than that. 

This deep dive into self-improvement and all my hardcore personal development, especially this year has caused me to pull away from many potential relationships with men and be more picky about who I truly let in.  Yet, I can date more casually for fun, more for the experience of meeting new people, but it takes me much longer to get attached.   I’m also starting to look at why I’ve attracted a certain type of man into my life and then why I was even more of a dumbass and slept with that dude, over and over again.  

A lot of my answers lie on my own shoulders.  I realized that I’ve welcomed men into my life who had some kind of handicap that would keep us from becoming too serious.  Ouch, that’s pretty painful to admit.   A great example of that is the most recent man I dated this summer,  who was much younger.  I wanted companionship but I didn’t want him crowing my life.   The fact that he was younger was a built in hurdle, so that we wouldn’t become extremely close.   What is wrong with me? 

I haven’t truly loved anyone since “The Reader”.  You don’t know how hard that is to admit, especially since he may still read my blog sometimes.   On the other hand, the time that has passed since being involved with him has shown me that although losing him from my life was painful, it was absolutely for the best.   Today, he’s not a man I would be attracted to; I’ve changed so much, it’s almost staggering.  

Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten as close as one can to falling in love, without completely falling over the cliff.    Truthfully, I’m scared of the weak little girl I am after a difficult breakup, so scared in fact that it keeps me from fully immersing into love.  So my choices are simple, I either let someone in partially or I stay disconnected totally until I find someone worthy of taking the risk.   I’m meeting a lot of men and flirting, but haven’t met anyone who is worth risking my sanity.

I was very fortunate this year to find a book that has drastically shaped my life and my future.     I highly recommend, The Successful Single Mom for anyone going through a difficult time in life.   It’s an excellent book for a single mom or anyone actually who needs a jump start in life and career.  I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with the author of this book, slobbering all over her, thanking her for writing this book.   Her advice literally changed my life for the better,  I use some nugget of wisdom from her book every single day.  It also forced me to look harder at myself, my inner circle and my thoughts.  I’m truly a better person for reading this book.  

In the next few weeks, I’ll share an experience this summer that has made me swear off online dating, at least for now and more from my dating life.  As always thanks for reading and for all your encouragement, it really means a lot!  


The Single Mom

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Oh Those Summer Nights...

I’ve had several steamy moments so far this summer, some that have taken my breath away and some romantic stolen moments under a starry night sky.   Over the past few months, I’ve been dating a few men and have been enjoying the hell outta it, notice I said dating and not sleeping with them all, thank you very much.   My mindset about dating is totally different and it has made it so much more fun. I’m not exactly sure if it’s the relaxed summer days and having more social opportunities or just that I’ve had so many disappointments that my attitude is breezy about dating. 

Let me catch you up on life and why I’ve haven’t been blogging as much, spring was extremely busy with my youngest son’s end of school year activities.  I was running around like crazy helping him makeup homework and getting him from point a to b and life was hectic at home with my oldest too.   
As far as me, I’ve been working hard on my two jobs, networking, looking for other opportunities and writing when I can.   A great deal of my time has been spent exercising and working hard on my own personal development.  I’ve lost weight, feel incredible and have been putting my energy into me and my needs instead of constantly focusing on some dude.   Our home has also needed an incredible amount of work because of the change of season.  The yard especially has been giving me all the challenge I can handle, so I’ve had my hands full. 

My dating life has been equally active, I’ve been putting myself “out there” and the smile is back on my face.   I dated a couple of men this spring who seemed like they had real potential to end up as serious partners.  Oddly enough, I wasn’t really looking for anything serious, but they moved “us” in that direction.   One in particular, I thought could have been boyfriend material because our dates were fun and I “held my cards” until the right time (ie I didn’t sleep with him until I practically had him pinky swearing that we were a couple.)   

Although I make it sound like I laid down the law and was a tyrant, it wasn’t like that at all.  He spent a small fortune trying to impress me and our time together was always perfect.  Things progressed naturally, our dates were a blast, and I was puzzled when ultimately it didn’t work out.    However, I wasn’t completely attached so I didn’t miss a beat getting over it.   Looking back on it now, I’m still confused because he spent so much time and money to “woo” me but I guess his cold feet ultimately caused him to freak out.  

Sometimes, I wonder if I make it too difficult for the men I’m dating to get attached to me because of my past scars.  I have a lot of walls and I keep men at a distance.   I’m not really sure and although I think about it sometimes, I don’t know if I really WANT to change right now, or if there is anyone in my path that is worth being more vulnerable.  

However, recently I met a man who helped me tear some walls down.   He’s a young man no less who I’ve gotten relatively close to even though initially, I tried to push away.   I met him online, and when I saw that we had a huge (almost 20 years)  age difference I sent him a short and sweet email thanking him for the nice things he said about me but basically I was blowing him off because of our ages.   Although he is in his late 20's, he seemed mature, had a child and was a good person, but I couldn't completely ignore his age.  

He wanted to strike up a friendship because I seemed cool, but that didn’t really interest me – until we exchanged a few emails.    There was something about our connection and he made me laugh hysterically.   It was rare because he not only got my wicked sense of humor but he gave it right back to me and we became close, quickly.

To be completely transparent with you, I don’t “click” with a lot of people as friends that easily.  I’m nice to everyone, and I’m likeable overall but I don’t trust many people and I’m guarded.   I think it was easy to be myself with him because I didn’t view him as “relationship material” and we connected quickly.  

The friendship quickly turned into romantic chemistry and when we met for the first time, it was electric.   We were kissing within a few minutes and ended up steaming up some windows.    After our first date, I wasn’t clingy at all and our interactions were normal for the next few days.   Shortly after, he got a case of cold feet and pulled away.  However, there was just something about our connection that kept bringing us back together.   

Initially, I convinced myself I wouldn’t get attached to him and I lied to myself that it wouldn’t happen.   I was drawn to him because he still had some youthful sweetness and hadn’t been jaded about love in general .  He’s good looking, funny, sweet and charming, I should have known we were both doomed to get close, but I didn’t want to believe it.  Maybe it was naïve, but in the beginning I didn’t think we’d be intimate and then I was naïve again when I convinced myself that we wouldn’t develop feelings for each other, but we did.   

My heart wasn’t completely immersed but I was getting close to falling off the ledge, and I pulled away. Although I know having some distance is for the best, I miss our silly, sweet conversations and the blossoming summer romance that made me feel younger and invincible for a short season.  I have to admit, I felt free like a child on summer break because for a couple of months I was a giggly teenage girl again with a pure heart flirting with a boy, not worried about heartbreak or feeling silly.  I was just enjoying a playful courtship, sneaking around stealing kisses and laughing hysterically at our inside jokes.   

It was effortless being together and it felt so perfect as he slept in my arms, peacefully snoring.  There was just something that made us feel so comfortable together from the beginning, the friendship came easy, then the romance and it's sad that it doesn't have a future.  Even if our time together is really over, I know I’ll carry a piece of him and the memory of this sweet romance with me for a long time... and maybe just maybe, although it's bittersweet today, it taught me that the teenage girl with the pure heart is still a part of me.

Thank you for reading!


The Single Mom

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

First Date Tips and Reentering the Dating World

Last week, the Huffington Post asked me to participate on the panel of Huff Post Live to talk about Dating after Divorce, First Dates and Dealbreakers.  I was immediately excited and a it’s subject I know well.  Last week, I went on two fantastic first dates, so I’ve  recently experienced first date jitters and felt like I could make a contribution.

I’d say over the last 7 years I’ve been on anywhere from about 75 to 100 first dates.  Yikes, that sounds like a lot, but over 7 years, that’s an average of 10 a year on the low side.   My first dates have ranged from being taken to Hooters to watch cage fighting to overnight camping, so I’ve had a wide range of experiences.

To give you some reference, I was married for 13 miserable years, had two kids and when it was time to date again, I was chomping at the bit.  I couldn’t wait for romantic first kisses in the rain and to run across a field of daisies to greet the man of my dreams, arms stretched out wide and his likewise.   That whole dream sequence didn’t play out so well for me in the real world.  What I ended up with in reality was more like the plot of a horrible Lifetime movie.  I met men who had major substance and violence issues and a big 'ol helping of dysfunction.  

After a revolving door of douchebags, I ended up on my shrink’s comfy sofa for a good old fashioned trip to the wood shed.  She ever so gently pointed out to me that I kept choosing the same bad boy over and over again, the color of the Harley may be different as well as the placement of tattoos, but I had to change and expand my dating pool.  She advised me to do two things at that moment.   

The first was to write a list of traits that I wished to find in a long term partner and dealbreakers.   The purpose of this list was to be a reference to keep me on track when I met a man - if he didn’t meet most of the qualities I wanted, I had to move on to the next one.    

The second piece of advice was to go out on as many dates as possible.   Since I had a particular “type”, she suggested I go outside of that comfort zone to meet men of different ages, careers, or ethnicities.   Basically, she challenged me to have a lot of casual first dates in the hopes of expanding the type of man I would be attracted to. 

After a few glasses of wine and some laughs with a married girlfriend, I had a profile.   My girlfriend enjoyed spending time with me, vicariously feeling like she was a character in “Sex and the City” but then would happily go home to the arms of her loving husband.    She left and before long I was answering emails, instant messaging and making dates. 

That summer, I had shared parenting and for the week I didn’t have my kids, I sometimes had 7 dates in a week.    They ranged from horrific to not God-awful, but eventually I did meet someone pretty terrific, who wasn’t the stereotype bad boy.

Fast forward to the present and I have learned a lot the hard way and I still fall for the wrong guy.   My life is so much more complicated now, having my kids 24/7, rarely having time to date.  During these years, I've taken time to grow and explore myself.  Time I wish I would have taken before I started dating in the beginning.  It was productive to do an honest self-inventory and look hard at things I needed to change.     

Recently, I've forced myself to dip my toe into the dating pool again with a breezy new attitude.   I approach dating now more like a trip to Golden Corral, I take a spoonful of yummies on my plate and see what I like.  If I want more, I can go back for a second helping.   It's more important for me now than ever to keep things in perspective since I have more time constraints now.

 Here are some of my general tips to get you out there on your first dates. 

1.      Talk to and date several people, trying to NOT focus on just one person.   This helps keep it light and having many people to talk to prevents you from thrusting you into a Rocky Road tailspin if you don’t get a text from a specific person.
2.      If you find someone online you think you like, meet them relatively soon, within about a week or so.  I’ve made this mistake, talking to someone constantly and becoming very attached only for it to blow up in my face.  Bottom line is you have to meet the person to know if you have physical attraction, so do this before you fall for the person you think they are, not really the person they truly are.
3.      If you’re a woman, my advice for how to dress for a first date is to dress like a GOOD movie trailer.  You know, the movie trailer that doesn’t show all the best scenes of the movie in the 60 second commercial.   Dress in a way that gives some idea of “coming attractions” but not showing everything you have.  In essence, it’s ok to be sexy but not slutty.
4.      Plan a short date, not longer than a couple of hours or so.  This way you have a built in “out” if you don’t hit it off.  If you do like the person, it’s also going to build intrigue for the next time.   Of course, if you really like each other and want to continue, go with it.
5.      Do an activity on a first date if possible, not a dinner.   An activity helps you bond more readily than trying to make small talk across a dinner table for 2 hours.    Go to a sporting event, play mini golf or a wine tasting.  If you must do a dinner date, choose something that has some built in excitement like a hibachi restaurant or a fondue restaurant where you are actually doing something.
6.      In your conversation, be positive.  Talk about fun activities and positive subjects.   Don’t bring up your ex and if it comes up, share a casual sentence or two.   Listen carefully about what your date has to say about their ex, however.  It will give you a lot of clues about if they are over that relationship and how they talk about that person will give you a lot of insight.
7.      Be honest as much as possible, but don’t feel like you need to bring your tax return.
8.      Of course meet at a neutral location and always be cautious about your safety.

So, whether you’re going on your first date after your divorce or your 50th, I hope these ideas help you get your dating mojo back.  Oh, and one of my first dates a couple of weeks ago has potential to be something lasting.  Who knows?

Thank you for reading and please share with me your thoughts!  


The Single Mom


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

For Love or Money? The Rules of Dating are Changing

I don’t know about you, but you’re much more likely to find me riding my shiny rainbow unicorn headed off to whoop it up on Cupcake Island than you are to find me balancing a checkbook or worse still, in some stupid financial planning class (yawn).  The thought of that practically dulls my glittery eye shadow.  I like living in my own world and the people here really love me too. 

“Reality” and “finances” and other words of that type are not allowed in my day to day vocabulary.  I’m much more concerned with, “Is the lipgloss shiny enough?” “Are the heels high enough?” and I buy jeans based on which one makes my booty look better, am I worried about the price? Nah, notsomuch. 

So, imagine the pure shock and horror I felt when I first heard that “Credit Score Dating” is a thing.  Yes, there are new dating sites devoted to match potential dates up by high credit scores.  If you didn’t just throw up in your mouth a little, you need to process that concept.  I’ll wait… 

Gulp… what did you say??? Credit... Score….. Dating?  I about dropped my credit cards there for a second…   I understand “Credit Score” and “Dating”, well of course I know about dating! Boom, chicka, wa wa… Do I know about dating?   Yes I do thank you very much! *Cheesy wink and air gun*

However, putting these two ideas together makes just about as much sense to me as me putting a stick figure family on the back window of my sassy, sexy, sports car.   

I’m middle aged, divorced and just now beginning to embrace the flaws of said middle aged body along with the emotional shit sandwich that life serves all of us from time to time.   It’s tough enough for me at forty *cough, cough* to put myself “out there” and wonder “Is he going to like me?”  “Is my rack big enough?” “Do my Spanx lines show through my clothes?” …you know the normal checklist we all go through in our head before we meet someone new.    Now, I have to add one more item to the list to be self-conscious about?  You’re kidding me… right?  

When I first heard about this, I nearly marched myself straight to the cat adoption shelter and cleaned them out, along with taking Ben & Jerry home for a future of ice cream and kitties.   Credit score dating was sure to be the end to my legendary career of dating, a fantasy highlight video played in my mind of the great dates, crying ex-boyfriends giving teary speeches and finally culminating with the ceremony where I retired my high heels and lipgloss, waving goodbye to onlookers. 

Then I realized that I had a friend who could help me.  He’s a guy who works in the financial world and yammers on all the time about balancing your checkbook and only buying things you can afford and making a household budget, and a lot of useless, boring knowledge that I never paid much attention to.  

It then also dawned on me that if I didn’t make some serious changes in my finances, that I’d no longer be able to party it up on Cupcake Island and I wouldn’t have a unicorn, shiny or otherwise to get me there, shitsticks!   Screw you, “Reality” – you Sir, suck! 

I quickly hopped off my unicorn and gave my friend Britt a call.  He sent me a lot of information and even a video about how divorce can affect your credit score and some common myths about relationships and credit.  He teaches a financial planning class and also gave me some great information and makes it easy, and almost fun.  Almost.   He made a difficult subject easier and I’m going to share his suggestions with you about credit and divorce.  You can also email him directly at for more information or help. 

Credit considerations when facing a Divorce
Divorce is an emotional separation that can greatly impact your financial situation. Many people are financially fit until faced with the economic consequences of marital separation. There are some steps you can take to minimize money problems during what is already a stressful time.

1.  Beware of using money or charge cards as a marital weapon - if accounts are jointly held, you may end up paying the killer bill.

2.  Stop charging unless you have the personal income to pay it off in a timely fashion. Do not use credit cards to supplement missing income.

3.   Save for moving expenses and legal fees. They may be hefty and you should save and not charge or take new loans - unless, you have a secure job and can pay them back as promised.

4.  Pay utilities on time - especially if they are in your name. If you have to move and resume service, you may be asked to pay security deposits if you have not been a good paying customer in the past. The same goes for rent and mortgage payments. Many landlords request credit bureau reports, and if the payment history is poor, they may refuse to rent to you.

 5.  Do not take out any new joint loans with your spouse. If your spouse doesn't pay, you will have to pay the entire loan.

 6.   Write the credit card companies and send a certified letter requesting a new credit card in your name only. According to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, they must grant you a credit card equal to the current card's credit limit.

7.   Protect your divorce judgment. If the divorce papers stipulate your spouse is responsible for the debts, unless you take legal action to remove your name from the original contract, the creditor may still pursue you in court.

8.  Base all new bills and living arrangements on what you can reasonably afford on your own. Don't depend on child support or alimony when making future income considerations.

9.  Read and understand any financial documents BEFORE you sign. Make sure your attorney or financial advisor explains all the consequences of a decision, including any penalties for early withdrawals and income tax complications.

Here is a great video about Marriage/Divorce & Credit:

So, before you go invest in an expensive new pushup bra with all the “special effects”, and sexy Lebotins, go balance your checkbook first and, then go knock ‘em dead on your next date!

Thanks for reading and go have some great dates!

Has your credit score come up in conversation on a date?  How do you feel about "Credit Score Dating"?   Please connect with me in the comments below, I'd love to hear what you think!


The Single Mom

So, what has The Single Mom been up to?  My world has been hectic with the boys, work and a lot of self improvement.  I've been working hard and things are looking up for me!   I've also been out on several excellent dates with a couple of men I really like, but just taking it as it comes.  They are both freshly out on "the market" again from new divorces, so I'm being more cautious than normal but having a lot of fun getting to know them.  Big smooches!