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Forty Years in the Making

Benny was one of the officiates at our wedding.

Benny was one of the officiates at our wedding.

Every once in a while you encounter a moment in time that you realize will be life-altering. You know the kind? Life is just happening…when all of a sudden it dawns on you that this present moment is a bit bigger than you had thought.

I’ve had several moments like these. Most recently, was when I learned that I was carrying triplets. The world around me stopped and life as I knew it – life as I’d hoped, planned and dreamed it – was shattered. (The Good News Is – It’s Triplets)

These moments can be good but they can also be terrifying and tempt us with serious doubts, worry and flat-out fear. But I think even in these scary, life-altering moments we can be propelled towards a more Christ-honoring response as we become aware of how others around us have been carried through difficult times like the one through which we are about to walk.

Saturday night held a good life-altering moment for me. David and I were super excited to celebrate our dear friends’, Benny and Sheree’s, 40th anniversary that evening. Prior to having the babies, Benny was one of my bosses at Metro Life Church and Sheree and I worked closely on many ladies’ events for years. They were heavily involved in meeting with the two of us for pre-marital counseling and instrumental in our short post-marriage relationship. To say that we love them dearly and respect them highly would be an understatement.

But that’s only how they affected us.

Forty years of marriage to the same person is an amazing length of time in this day and age. Think about it…how many 50-60-somethings do you know who are still madly in love with the same person they married in their teens? Sadly, there are statistics that say that as much as 90% of couples will be divorced before their 40th anniversary!

Forty years is also a very long time to affect other people’s lives. And this is where the “aha” moment happened for me.

The evening began with some individuals honoring them for the way they loved God, served the church, invested in their family, made sacrifices, and loved one another. …And this theme was repeated over and over for an hour and a half. It was truly incredible to hear person after person – even some relationships from several decades ago! – sharing how affected they had been by various aspects of their lives. We’re talking kids who came to Christ because of their involvement in their broken homes. And people who chose to ignore the culture’s mocking voice that many children are tedious and impossible…and welcomed many children into their home because of Benny and Sheree’s example. And people who watched them walk through intense suffering, only to emerge bitterness-free and still trusting in their Saviour…giving these individuals hope for their own struggles. And people who saw major sacrifices later in life when many are getting comfy with empty nests. People who saw a woman following a man, laying down her own desires to see his dreams fulfilled – and finding her own desires being fulfilled in new ways. People who saw a man love his wife in the little things, both from the pulpit and with the dishes in the sink. People who saw a couple loving God more than comfort, ease, reputation and accomplishments. And their children rose up and called them blessed (Proverbs 31:28).

{Enter my life-altering moment.}

You see, the people at the celebration that night were not viewing this couple through rose-colored glasses. No. We have lived life with this couple and their family. We’ve seen the sin. The tears. The offenses. We know and have been affected by some of their flaws…as they have been affected by ours. But underneath it all, motivating them for 40 years through intense life circumstances, has been a love for God and a passion for His church.

Is all I do fueled by a love for God?

Or am I more concerned with how others view me? By what people will say about my accomplishments after I’m gone? By how obedient my children are? By how successful we are in raising three teens at once? Am I more aware of the present moment than I am of the eternal weight that this present moment has?

Do I love Him above all else? When my husband asks me to follow him somewhere, will my response be fueled by a love for God or a desire for ease? When my children hurt me beyond belief, will I respond with trust in God – as I sought to do during the fear of carrying multiples, a high-risk pregnancy?

Do I want to be more like Him than anyone? Am I willing to confess sin, exposing the hollows of my deep and pervasively rebellious heart? Are there any costs too high in pursuing Christlikeness? 

Do I view the church as the highest priority, as Christ does, outside of my marriage and family? Have I allowed my attendance to become a duty? Do I cherish the people inside that building (or in any building across the world that professes Jesus Christ as their Saviour)? Do I allow love to cover a multitude of sins?

Certainly, having all these things in place does not guarantee me a stellar 40th anniversary celebration, thrown by three children who want their marriages and families to reflect ours. It doesn’t guarantee that everyone will adore me and that I’ll be as cute as Sheree was this night, dancing with her high school sweetheart. =) But it does paint a picture of a life that has eternal effects. It pulls my view from “the daily” – the endless tantrums and diapers, dishes and laundry – and pushes it towards heaven and the realization that I have the opportunity to affect people (as do we all!) in ways similar to Benny and Sheree.

Benny & Sheree Phillis

Benny & Sheree Phillips

David and I are just starting out. We could barely be more “starting out” than we are with these three 18 month olds. We have the pitter-patter of feet, the grubby hands and the long-but-short childhood and teen years before us. Benny and Sheree have the pitter-patter of grandchildren’s feet and can look back on raising their family with both regrets and happiness…

My hope is that in 37 years, David and I will both be able to look back and see, more often than not, a marriage fueled by a passion and love for God.

Benny and Sheree, happy, happy anniversary. We love you. Like family. ❤

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If You Were Born With Your Siblings…

Any mom can attest to the crazy joys of parenting several children all at once. The fights over…well, everything. The tattling. The “ick” factor. The exhaustion. The laughs… but think back to when you were “one of the kids” growing up. Remember?

Daren as David's best man at our wedding in 2010!

Daren as David’s best man at our wedding in 2010!

Well, the other day David’s identical twin brother, Daren, and his family were at our house. They were in town vacationing and we were super excited to have them visit. Pretty much anytime I’d been with David’s twin was when we were visiting his family in Georgia – David’s home state. And of course pretty much everyone had watched them grow up and were used to their identical-ness. But this time they were on our turf. They came to our church. And people did double-takes. The girl at the check-out counter at the grocery store kept looking at them and finally asked if they were twins. And they replied that they had just met. =)

Which one is which??

Which one is which??

I often forget that the craziness that I deal with on a daily basis (looks, stares, questions, whispers, shouts and pointings) are things that David has always dealt with…with his identical twin brother! Now, take a moment and imagine what it would be like to have a you that’s not…well, you. I mean, I’d love to clone me and just set her loose on cleaning the house every day. But to have an identical me that’s completely different than me? Wow!! And being married to David and being around his brother is sometimes so twilight zone-like! The other day they both said something at the exact same time, with the exact same voice…whoa! And Emma loved snuggling with Uncle D – because he is so like Dada???

Sissies born an exact 18 months apart!

Sissies born exactly 18 months apart!

People get my sister and me mixed up all.the.time. Which is so weird. Because we look nothing alike. Right? We just decided early on to not bother to correct people, to answer to each other’s names. (Cruel, I know.) But being born with your sibling? Growing up as a multiple? Being one of two or three or four or more babies born at one time? Well, if you were then you can attest to the fact that:

Two of you will sit on the same toilet at the same time to pee – without batting an eyelash. Or one will stand to pee between the legs of a sitter.
You can expect to bathe in the same bath water with the sibling that just spit up.
You never have – and never will – bathe alone…especially after you learn to sit up.
You have no concept of a “personal bubble.”
You always have someone to blame your pranks and bad behavior on.
You do not need friends.
You share the same spoon, steal bottles, get crawled over.
You have no boundaries when it comes to imagination and pretend play because there’s always someone the same age as you to play with.
You don’t have to speak to achieve a common goal.
Each night of your childhood is like having an awesome sleepover!
You have a constant side kick and a look-out or an accomplice and an alibi for whatever naughty thing you are about to do!
You get to eat “recycled” food: passed from plate to plate to plate until somebody finally eats it!

You have your own language.
You lose your food if you’re not quick enough.

You will think nothing of smelling a sibling’s bottom (or two) to report to mom who pooped.
You will never really have anything that is just yours.
You have your best friends with you from the day you were born – a bond that no one will understand.
You have a hand or foot being gnawed on by someone other than yourself!
You never want for company… although you may want for silence!
You always have a “best friend” to laugh at you when you bust your butt!
You get your diaper changed – whether you’re dirty or not! – because your brother did.
You laugh and have two others laughing along with you who have no idea why they’re laughing.

You share underwear and clothes.
Your diaper is the only one that doesn’t get changed…in six hours. (This, sadly, was my booger-boy yesterday!)
Your secret middle name is “Wait”…never mind what your birth certificate says!
You sleep in a “pile” and don’t mind it!

What can you add to this list???

Happy Friday, folks! =) Have you liked us yet on Facebook? Give us a shout-out there and tell us what you think about today’s post!

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Family, Friday Funnies, Polls, Triplets

 

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Easter Weekend

Easter Weekend

I’ve always loved Easter and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I love remembering His incredible sacrifice for us on Good Friday, and His triumph over the grave three days later. I grew up knowing it was a celebration of “more than just fun baskets.” My parents did a wonderful job teaching us the true meaning of Easter. And I am so grateful.But we also had lots of fun with Easter! I can’t tell you how many times we found “lost” Easter eggs in the backyard…months afterwards. Or how many bunnies or birds we got at the end of a treasure hunt over the years. Or the Easter cakes and crafts we made. Or how many times we’ve gone through the Easter eggs that tell the Resurrection story. Or how many choirs I’ve sung in and productions I’ve directed at church.

And now I have children. I love thinking of ways to make it “more than just fun baskets.” Of course right now they’re too young to understand any of this, I know. But this morning, when Makenna was mimicking Mama and Dada in “praising Jesus” during worship, I wondered if maybe they weren’t too young to understand after all! In little munchie-sized pieces… Maybe singing The Gospel Song ( < a MUST watch!) every night before bed, instead of a lullaby, isn’t hokey but starting to keep the Truth before them…especially now that they try to “sing” along. As a parent, I can’t imagine my sweet babies ever growing up to curse at me, shake their fist at me and storm out of the house. But they may. I want to teach them that Jesus came to earth to take their punishment for their sins so that they could live with Him forever – that this life, with its momentary trials, is our temporary home. And that Easter is much more than Easter baskets. Much, much more…

But we still enjoyed the silly, fun and fellowship-y side of Easter this weekend. Because our God is a God of laughter and joy and loves seeing His children enjoying His gifts. So we went up to our church on Saturday morning to see what this Easter Egg Hunt was all about. (Maybe next year I’ll let them join the hordes of kiddos looking for eggs. This year they would’ve gotten trampled! =) And then after church today, we met up with the fam at my parents’ house. It was the first holiday I’ve gotten to enjoy since the Easter I was pregnant!!! Every other holiday we have been up to our eyeballs with babies x 3 (the babies’ first Easter: recap here). Now we have toddlers. Toddlers…toddlers. (I don’t like that word. Boo.) Don’t get me wrong, it was still crazy! Besides carrying in three babies, we carried in a van-load of paraphernalia for the afternoon. And it’s a lot of work. Borrow three toddlers for an afternoon – I have several other friends who’d love to take advantage of this! (Jenn, Christy, Andrea? =) But today was like that first Christmas where the kid enjoys opening presents. We had soooo much fun!!! And I think they did, too. But wow…they were so exhausted!

What did your family do to celebrate today the resurrection of Jesus Christ – 2000 years ago?

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1/2 Marathon – My Style

David and me on our wedding day!
PC: Kristen Leigh Photography

I love a good challenge. That’s why I had triplets! (Kidding!) But seriously, I love challenges. I love working towards a goal. Life is so much more exciting to me when I work under deadlines. (I’ve found myself complaining a lot more these days about my deadlines, but that’s a story for another post.) So, when I saw a dear friend (Debi from The Romantic Vineyard) encourage fellow-bloggers to take this challenge, I thought it would be fun. I immediately knew what I wanted to write. I’m starting after most of the other “competitors” because I’ve had quite a bit to write about with our babies’ first birthday stuff (pictures, birth story part 1, birth story part 2). So, who am I writing to? Newly married couples! I know, I know…technically I am one myself. Specifically, I am writing for those without children yet…or new parents.

But wait. Let me rewind a bit, for those of you just joining me. My husband, David, and I were married in February 2010. In March 2011 we found out we were expecting. While we didn’t exactly have a “honeymoon” baby, we certainly have been propelled into parenthood very quickly. During our first year, we both worked. We enjoyed regular date nights. We were each other’s best friends. Countless evenings (well, maybe not countless – it was pretty much 365) were spent talking, walking, holding hands, fighting and making up. We made dinner together, slept in together and went grocery shopping together. Now, don’t get me wrong – life was busy. Oh, so super-busy!! In addition to working and caring for our home, we also were each taking a class with CCEF.  And we were an active part of our local church, Metro Life Church.

But then I got pregnant. And then we were parents. And life changed. There was suddenly no time for walking and talking, though there were plenty of opportunities to fight and make up! Dinners were thrown together…or not made at all. Grocery shopping? Well, let’s just say they became phone calls to the hubby on his way home. Sleeping in was non-existent and we didn’t make it to church for months (part of this was our “unusual situation” and would certainly recommend making every effort to remain connected, if at all possible). I think it was four months after becoming parents before we went on a date and then wondered why we waited so long to get out for a bit! Communication, which happened so regularly and freely such a short time ago, was now sporadic and always revolved around the babies.

So…how have we survived so far? Well, we have by no means “arrived.” But we have learned a few things during this first intense year. The next 12 days will be intensely practical. They won’t require a lot of time to read (because let’s face it – “time” is a vanishing thing as a new parent) but will hopefully be something you can return to when you’re feeling your relationship with your spouse is dragging. They also don’t require a lot of thinking or preparation to execute. Amidst the challenges of adjusting to a new baby, I hope you’ll pick-up some tips that may help you to keep your orientation towards your spouse. It is super easy to be distracted, overwhelmed and exhausted in those first weeks, months and even years (one of the reasons I’m excited to even be writing on this – it will be refreshing for us, as well!). So, David and I both came up with a dozen simple ways we have “focused” on one another over the past year. Please join me – and let your newly married friends and new parent-friends know they may join us as well!

Day 1 of the marriage blog challenge from CMBA. To see other CMBA bloggers, click here.

 

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All In A Year’s Work

What has it been like to have triplets? Well, here’s a quick glance at our first year…

DIAPERS:

  • Diapers changed = 15-24 per day
  • Diapers changed = 6,600 per year (David wants everyone to know he’s changed over 50% of these. Maybe, says I.)
  • Poopy diapers changed = 1,300 per year
  • Wipes = $70 per year
  • Disposable diapers given to us = 720 (lasted one whole month!!!)
  • Disposable diaper packages = half a package per day
  • Disposable diaper costs = $80 per month for the first few months (didn’t want the volunteers to also have to spray poopy diapers – haha!)
  • Cloth Diaper costs = $625 TOTAL
  • Cleaning poopy diapers = 15 minutes per week

DOCTOR/CARE:

  • Doctor appointments = 18 in 11 months (This is actually very low for triplets! Only two were sick visits and this doesn’t count the 12 month appointment yet!)
  • Weight gained (total) = 40+ pounds
  • Inches grown (total) = 31”
  • Shots given = 0
  • Ear infections = 1
  • Finger nails = 1,400 cut
  • Ears pierced = 4
  • Baths given = 20 (yep, you read that right)
  • Information tracked = 9 months (wet/poopy diapers, bottles given/to whom/and oz., breast/side/time)
  • Teething = 8 + 6 + 6 = 20 teeth
  • Hyland’s teething tablets = 6 boxes of 135 each
  • Naps = 2,000+ (no complaining here!!!)

FINANCIAL:

  • Hospital costs for me = $3,500 paid out of pocket
  • Hospital costs for babies = $1,500,000 (paid $0!!!)
  • Equipment acquired this year = 6 car seats, 3 cribs, 3 pack n plays, 3 high chairs, 4 strollers (double, single, triple, triple – yes each one serves a different and necessary purpose), van (!!!), kitchen table and six chairs, changing table, 2 bath seats, 3 bouncers, 2 swings, 3 jumpers, 3 bumbos, 1 dresser, 2 rockers, 24 4 oz. bottles, 24 5 oz. bottles, 18 bowls, 30 spoons, bottle warmer, twin nursing pillow, single nursing pillow, etc.
  • Baby food = $400 increase in grocery budget (total for five months)
  • Laundry = 5 extra loads per week or 250 per year (includes 2 weekly loads of diapers)
  • Electric = $90 per month increase compared with last year
  • Water = $9 per month increase compared with last year
  • Cash gifts = nearly $5000 provided by the Lord from generous friends and family!
  • Meals = 30 meals brought during first 4 months home
  • Volunteers = 40+ volunteers helping during first 4 months home (Thank you.)

NURSING & FORMULA

  • Breastfeeding = 9.5 months and going strong!!!
  • Sat down to breastfeed = 4,000 times
  • Time spent breastfeeding = 5 hours each day
  • Pumped = 8.5 months
  • Pumping sessions = 1,500 sessions
  • Length of time spent pumping = 432 hours
  • First day of pumping yield = 36 mLs TOTAL (one oz.)
  • Highest yield of pumping = Christmas Day!!! (48 oz. in addition to breastfeeding)
  • Fresh expressed breast milk = 3,500 oz. expressed for bottles (in addition to breastfeeding)
  • Frozen breast milk = 1200 oz. or 9+ gallons frozen over 4 months, from February – June (in addition to breastfeeding)
  • Amount pumped total = 4,700 oz. (in addition to breastfeeding)
  • Gallons of water drunk = 61,320 oz.  or 475 gallons
  • Breastfed AND supplemented = 7 weeks we breastfed and supplemented with a bottle before/after every feeding for every baby
  • Bottles given = 4,200 (from birth, when bottles were given every day – all day long, through January when they finally learned to breastfeed; plus bottles here and there)
  • Bottles washed = 4,200
  • Burps heard = 11,000
  • Donated formula = 4,000 oz. or 125 containers or 1.5 months of formula (to supplement)
  • Formula purchased = 0
  • Formula costs = $15 per day or $6,400 for the year (had I not breastfed)
  • Breastfeeding costs = $1,500 (pumps, scale, consultations, medications, herbs, etc.)
  • Savings = $4,900 saved by breastfeeding

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Professional photo shoots = 8
  • Professional photo shoot costs = $18 (woot, woot!)
  • Road trip = 1 (Atlanta)
  • YaYa visits = 100 (doesn’t include that she lived with us during the week for the first 6 weeks they were home)
  • Weight gained during pregnancy = Oh, ok, I’ll tell you. 56 pounds. Bleh.
  • Weight lost by two weeks = 22 pounds (more than half was JUST babies)
  • Hobbies = none…except three babies (Seriously, snuggling, feeding, changing, researching and blogging about them…that’s it.)
  • Heart capacity = filled to overflowing with a bazillion, trillion, one million, forty zillion ounces. I love them. So much.

Now, before you roll your eyes wondering how I had time to put all this together, I have an app that tracked much of this and was able to just pull the information. And why did I put all this together? Mainly so that I can look back and marvel at how God cared for us in the daily grind – the pure exhaustion that piled on top of pure exhaustion, the financial provision when we had no idea what we were going to do, the prayers answered for the desire to be able to breastfeed. Because He has cared for us. He has not left us forsaken, but has walked with us daily. And we owe all of the above to Him!

 

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11 Months!!!

My babies are 11 months old. I don’t know how this happened. It seems like just yesterday we were praying they would take another 10 mLs through their feeding tube and now I’m peering around the corner at their upcoming birthday, creating their smash cakes!!! Like every other mother, I just want to pull back on the reins of time and freeze frame every moment. Pictures and videos can’t hold a candle to the memories themselves, though I’ve never been so thankful to have them as I am now. My tiny babies are growing up before my eyes!!!

We are trying new foods several times a week (well, when Mama can remember to throw something new at them). To date, they have had a yummy variety of fresh fruits and veggies, legumes, seeds, dairy and spices. I think even Gordon Ramsay might approve. We began with avocado and continued our journey with:

  • carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, pumpkin, squash, green beans, eggplant, green peppers, summer squash, broccoli, corn
  • prunes, peaches, mangos, bananas, apples, pears, cherries, watermelon, blueberries, canteloupe, kiwi, apricot
  • kidney beans, black beans
  • olive oil, coconut oil, cinnamon, butter, garlic, salt
  • egg yolks
  • quinoa

Some days, it’s a fun challenge to create new ways of serving up dishes…others it’s an incredible challenge. It’s a TON of food to prep for each meal but I’m learning some tricks for making life a little more streamlined. Right now we’re working on sippy cups. Since we’ve just started getting comfortable with breastfeeding, in the last few months, I was in NO hurry to introduce sippy cups and possibly confuse them. So we waited. I love that part about parenting – you just do what’s right for YOUR children and not what all “the books” say. We are at varying stages of “getting” the sippy cups. When Emma’s eyes lit up after she got some of the liquid from the cup into her mouth, I had a glimpse of so many future moments of teaching my children and seeing them “get” a concept. I.cannot.wait. Noah just loves to gnaw on the cup and Makenna is on her way to figuring it out. Hey, I’m just happy my little man decided he would go ahead and feed himself on a consistent basis!!! I still spoon feed them about half of each meal to ensure they’re getting a good amount and it doesn’t end up on the floor (and, hey, they don’t know the difference, yet!). But I have, for weeks, put chopped up food items on the little booger’s tray and he absolutely refuses to lift a finger to feed himself…even.though.he.can. Yep. I’ve seen him do it. Several times. But then it seemed like he realized the work involved and would rather sit back and have Mommy feed him. On either side of him, his sisters inhale those same foods. And he cries. Booger! Not anymore, though! Now he’s chasing those banana slices and peas all over his tray! And Mommy says, “Glory, hallelujah!!!”

We recently had our first house guests stay with us for a few days! Joe and Kristen Catoe and 5 month old A.J. came all the way from Maryland to vacay in south Florida, then traveled up to stay with the Fountain Five. I met Kristen years ago – she worked for Sovereign Grace Ministries’ conferencing department and I also was coordinating conferences at Metro Life Church. We have hung out often through the years and they even came down for David and my wedding a few years ago! Anyways, the babies enjoyed having A.J. here and the girls took every opportunity to flirt and do headstands and show off their cute, fat booties. I think Noah showed off a time or two…and threw at least one glorious temper tantrum, right, Kristen? We had a wonderful weekend sitting and talking and drinking lattes and changing babies and discussing parenting goals and marriage struggles and so many other things! For this mama who rarely gets out of the house (and I do mean rarely!), it was a shining weekend of biblical fellowship in a long line of (mostly) monotonous days.

The babies are all hitting milestones at different times. If you have more than one child, you know what it is like to remember back to when Baby’s older sibling did this or that. The temptation with multiples is to constantly group them together. Meaning, when one hits a milestone it’s easy to think they have all hit it! Or, the opposite also holds true: you compare constantly with a living, breathing day-in and day-out example of one sibling who is leaps and bounds ahead of another sibling and yet miles behind that very sibling. Very strange, right? Anyways, they all love saying “mamama” and “dadada.” They’ve been holding onto furniture and walking – but nothing on their own yet. Yayyyyy! I’m not ready for my babies to grow up THAT much, yet. They clap and play “high five.” They love mimicking Mommy and Daddy – or anyone, for that matter! They love to dance to music and recognize their favorite tunes when we sing them in the car. (When we turn the music on in the living room, they all look at the CD player and start dancing – cracks us up!!) With their increased mobility has come an incredible jump in the amount of boo-boos they get. All day long it seems I comfort this one or that one from some toy or sibling’s head upon which they’ve landed. I’ve been learning a whole new set of “cries” for each one of them – is it a big owie cry or a little one?

Teeth have also been a fun experience in this house! I felt like they started teething super early – around three months! – but nothing showed up for quite some time. However, Makenna now has seven teeth and Noah and Emma each have six. These teeth appeared within three months – all 19 of them!!! And I think a couple more are about to come through because everything is being gnawed on again. At the moment I can’t remember who might be the teethers…too hard to keep track. Ha!

Our current “discipline” issue is the ever-dreaded diaper changing time. Changing three wiggly babies as many as seven times EACH every day….well, this can be quite the exhausting task! They have some strength for being babies; wrestling them has become my new workout. I am encouraged, though. I’ve reached out to friends for help on how to begin the training and “discipline” process even at this age. Thankfully, we’ve been able to implement some of these ideas and if you happened to be around during these times, you’d hear “lie still” about a million times. 🙂

Overall, though, we are blessed with wonderful, happy, beautiful babies. Of course they each have their moments, daily!, but then so do I! Every day that brings us closer to their first birthday is incredibly sentimental for me and I try so very hard to live in the moment, savoring every smile and every tear I have the privilege to wipe away.

 

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