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b is for bobbins

Updated: 2015-09-16T17:34:47.521-07:00


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


Campbell Christmas Letter 2013This year, we decided to crowdsource the family Christmas letter.  Each member of our family was randomly assigned to write about another family member.  Here’s what we came up with:Scott (by Jerome) - Scott Campbell, patriarch of the Ohki-Campbell household, is currently employed as the president of Decagon Devices, a position which he has held for a little over two years.  His main athletic achievement for the year was finishing a half-ironman triathlon.  Unfortunately, your correspondent was unable to witness this endeavor because Scott’s wife didn’t want her children to be present when he was in “racemode”.  In preparation for the family’s Oregon Coast trip, he painted the family travel trailer, transforming its surface from a dingy off-white to a brilliant pearl sheen.  The only downside to this project was that your correspondent had to assist with the sanding of the trailer’s surface prior to painting.  His passion for cooking has continued, resulting in the perfection of “sauce-ome” (sauce+awesome), which can make any old hunk of meat into a first-class meal.Marie (by Scott) - My wonderful wife continues to make the Young Women’s organization run smoothly, mostly by keeping the girls well-fed with cookies during the last hour of church each week.  Upon re-assembling her sewing area after last year’s renovations, she fueled her insane quilting sessions with web-streamed episodes of “This American Life”.  I convinced her that buying a road bike was a good idea.  She sometimes rides it on a trainer indoors, but I think she’s still pretty skeptical about the whole thing.  Marie sometimes reprises her role as home “creative director”, most recently as the master-mind of a stairs wainscotting project.Jerome (by Asha) - This year Jerome turned 14, and started 9th grade at Pullman High.  Every morning, he wakes up at 6 am on his own to head to early morning seminary.  While not busy with school and cross-country, he loves to watch BBC’s “Dr. Who”, which he has hooked me on as well.  He also makes small-scale props from Dr. Who using cardboard, balsa wood, and hot glue.  He enjoys choir at school, and this year was the first freshman from PHS accepted to All-State Choir. Asha (by Quinn) - Asha has a door alarm.  I think she likes it because if someone tries to steal something from her room, she knows, unless she’s at school.  Asha started middle school and Young Women this year.  Asha likes gymnastics.  She gets lots of medals.  Asha likes Taylor Swift, but she listens to it so much that I get a little tired of it.  Asha plays pretty music on the piano.  She practices all the time.  I like the song she’s learning now.  It’s the hard one that has a note that is hard to reach - “River Flows in You”.Kai (by Marie) - If you want something done and you can convince Kai to do it, he will deliver.  Incidentally, that’s one of the first things Scott’s mom told me about him.  If you are Kai’s younger brother, luck is on your side.  He will share everything and let you in on all his adventures.  In fact, Quinn wanted to invite all of Kai’s friends to his birthday party because he always includes Quinn when he has friends over.  Since I know Kai to be a boy who hates sitting still, I’ve been surprised that he likes school, and proudly lays out tests and papers for me to admire when he gets home from school.  He is often busy building something with Lego bricks.  His favorite bedtime activity is listening to books read by Scott, with his favorite being “The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear”.  This is actually one of the only times Kai will sit still.  Quinn (by Kai) - Over the year Quinn started kindergarten in August, started loving Transformers Prime in July, started liking Tron Uprising, and had a birthday in November.  I like to play with Quinn because we sometimes get[...]

Liberty quilt


My sister Yurika and her husband Daisuke welcomed their first baby in July. They namedher Erika.  Such a cutie!  My mom tells me she looks just like me when I was a baby.  My parents didn't own a camera when I was little, so it is fun to hear that.  

I decided to make a quilt for her.  It took me a while to know exactly what kind.  I wanted it to be very special and I set the bar high for myself.  I wanted it to be cute and girly, but at the same time mature enough that you could have it in the living room.  I also thought that some of the patterns clashed with eachother when they were placed next to eachother.  In the end this is what I came up with.  

I gathered all my favorite fabric that I was sure I would never be able to cut into, and pieced them together with some solids of pink and gray to break up the busy pattern.

Most of the fabric is Liberty.  Each is a work of art and makes my heart sing every time I look at it.  




Scott was pulling some base boards off to recut the bamboo flooring that shrunk and pulled away from the wall.  So I asked if he wanted to put some wainscoting up while he was at it.  We looked up some tutorials and it seemed like a quick weekend project.  Not, so.  What you don't see in those tutorial is how much time it takes to fill in the holes and imperfections, sand after each step, and wait while coats dry.This is what it looked like before.  What you can't see in the picture is how dirty the light beige carpet is.  It only took one kid to run up the stairs in his shoes and I had to scrub.  We decided the carpet had to go.        This is what we found once we removed the carpet and pad.  We recruited the kids to pull the staples out.   Then we realized that the wall side didn't have a base board.  Cutting a piece out to fit the shape of the stairs seemed impossible, so we removed the treads and the risers.  The treads came out OK, but most of the risers broke in the process of being removed.  Scott cut out new raisers, trimmed the treads, and pulled all the nails out. Then he installed the base board and reinstalled the treads and raisers.  That took us until pretty late into the night.  We had to pull through. We were afraid if we left it in the state of the picture above, one of the kids might go through the sheet rock in the morning and end up in the basement.    Scott used dry wall mud to cover the texture.  That took two coats and lots of sanding after each coat.  Then he built the frame.  This is what it looks like now, after primer and two coats of paint.    Next up: painting the treads in a espresso color and then installing a runner.   [...]

Powwow Quilt


A year and a half worth of "This American Life" kept me company as I worked on this quilt.   It made even the most tedious task such as cutting out 100s of square fabric enjoyable.  

I bought the pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew.   

I used the triangle scraps from the pattern on the back side.   I like it just as much as the front.   

And here is the whole quilt.  You can see the wainscoting Scott just finished, but that is for another post.  

front deck, finished


A banana tree from the home center and the outdoor rug from Overstock completed the look.  I am happy to note that the outdoor fabric from is holding up very well. 

Skirts for Asha


Asha was in need of some skirts that came down to her knees.  Now that she is old enough to start middle school next month, she is not so excited to model the clothes anymore.  Can you tell?     

skirt one
fabric: Walmart calico, 100% cotton
pattern: Holiday Girl Clothes, view19

skirt two
Alison gave me the four tiered skirt piece a while back.  I hemmed the side seam and put cotton/lycra knit on for the waist band.

skirt three
fabric: heavier poly/cotton blend that used to be Scott's mom's jumper
pattern: Holiday Girl Clothes, view 18
size 140

patio pillows


In an effort to make our drab front deck more inviting, I made some pillows in bright and happy colors.     

We had some rain in the middle of the night, but the outdoor fabric kept the inserts dry.  Some plants and a rug should complete the space.    



This year we had my brother Takuya's family over all the way from Las Vegas.  It was such a treat.  We were mostly too busy to remember to take pictures, but here are just  few we managed to take.     

The girls were so excited to be together that they woke up before seven and started helping me put breakfast on.  Asha made a turkey head with felt at achievement days, and we made a fruit turkey with it.  The pumpkin bread pudding made with baguette was a big hit.     

The dinette was the perfect place for games.  This pretty much went on the whole visit.  

Here is our Thanksgiving table.  All 13 of us fit around our table. 

Lots of Lego and blocks play happened by the cozy fireplace.   

And here we are, ready to feast. 

This year we followed Takuya and Sarah's tradition and said what we were thankful for around the table in the order of the alphabet.  That was fun and there were some creativity involved.  We are thankful for all of our family wherever they may be.         

Guess who came to say hi


Every year they come and eat our soggy tomatoes that have previously been frozen multiple times. 

We have never been prompt at cleaning up the garden, but now we can feel good about not getting to it right away.  

Asha got too close.



This week Scott put the office in. 

Vinyl tiles in the mudroom


Today we laid the floor in the mudroom.  We used commercial grade vinyl composition tiles from Armstrong.  They are what you see in malls and grocery stores.  Don't feel bad if you can't remember the floor of any stores you frequent.  I had never paid attention until now.  Just in the last few days, I saw them at Costco, mall, Rite Aid, and our home improvement store.  We were told that they are cheap, easy to install, easy to clean, and durable.  It was very cheap.  At 79 cents a tile, we spent under $100 including a bucket of adhesive.  We broke a few tiles when the kids stood on it over a big gap.  Other than that, the installation was as easy as we had hoped.  I know cleaning it will be great because there is no grout or seams.  We will report on the durability later, but if hundreds of people can push their cart on it everyday, I am sure it will last us until we get sick of it. Kai and Quinn sat on the tile to help them stick.  We started under the washer and dryer.  I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but there are just enough specks of grey and tan in the tiles to hide dirt and dust between moppings.              And here it is all finished.      Scott started at 4 in the afternoon and finished it at 11.  I helped for a total of an hour.  Not bad for a half day's work.  Thank you, Alison, for the idea to use Vinyl tiles and also to make it black and white checkered!  We love it!  In the morning we went down to Clarkston to pick up the dinette from Duane of Wilden's Upholstery.  We have been very happy with the goucho bed and dinette he had made for our trailer.  Pictures here and here.  He surely didn't disappoint this time either.  The tufted back came out beautifully and it is very comfortable.  The vinyl we chose from Luxurious Leather Looks III was called Graphite. We like the linen like texture it has.       You may have seen it in the last post, but Scot finished this cabinet last week.     We still have some tools in it, but this is what the inside looks like.  We will likely put our Cuisinart mixer next to the pressure cooker.  Scott used full over lay Euro style hinges for this.  It lets the door swing all the way to the outside of the cabinet.  We wanted the option to leave the door open when we are cooking and need frequent access to the microwave.  Some can lights to install next.   [...]

Before and after


I was pretty sure we had not taken a proper "before" picture, but I just found one when I was scrolling through some old pictures.  We loved our old kitchen.  It was one of the deciding factors for us that got us in this house in the first place.  This post is not one of those " Can you believe how ugly it was?" posts.  It is rather seeing your child's picture when he/she was little and reminiscing the good old times. And then you look at the big kid in front of you and feel pleased with how much he has grown.     

So, here is our big kid today.  The old outer wall came to about where the new island ends, and rest is what we have added.  

We are working on cabinets, drawers, and work surface for the office area, which currently looks like this.  I crammed things in there so we could start using the space and find out what we wanted.

Curious about the grey contraption on the window?  It is a hydroponic gardening system Scott ordered online so we can start growing our own herbs.  I think it is a great idea.  The only problem is that there is no getting around how ugly it is.  Scott wants me to give it a chance until we start seeing green.  I am pretty sure I will still want it somewhere else.  I wonder if Asha would care if we put it on her window.  She has a sunny one. 

Dinette progress and painted banister


Scott made a dinette while I was at girl's camp back in July.  I kept thinking I would save this post until everything is finished, but it is time I give a progress report.  I originally got the idea for a dinette here.  I fell in love with the idea of having a fun and cozy spot for our kids right in the kitchen.  I could just picture them with their cousins and friends eating their after school snack, doing crafts or even doing homework there.       Scott thought about it for a while, measured some benches at church and at the Thai restaurant, looked up some plans on magazines, and then drew ours up.  He wanted to make sure it was going to be comfortable, so he angled the back, seat, and foot pieces.  He also added the chunky molding details to match the rest of the kitchen.  We chose the trim white paint, but after looking at it in our kitchen for two months, we are leaning towards re-painting it in the same warm grey color as the kitchen cabinets.  The white feels too stark.   The next step is deciding on the color of the vinyle cushion.  I want to have a professional make it, but Scott thinks I can buy an industrial sewing machine and sew it up.  I am not sure if my skills can do these benches justice.  I am pretty happy sewing bibs and blankets.           He added filing cabinets under the seats.  Always nice to have more storage.     Yesterday I painted the banister.  The wood color stuck out like a sore thumb against the new wall color, so it was a great relief to get that finished. Here is the before...     ...and after.I love it.  It feels so crisp and clean.  My sister and then my mom kept me company on the phone white I painted into the night.  Three hours and five coats later, it looked good enough.Last week we got to spend the day with a cute baby.  Her twin sister had surgery and her parents were with her sister.  There is a special spirit babies bring into a home.  We got to feel that sweetness all day.              [...]

Our "Labor" Day weekend


Have I told you Asha takes beautiful pictures?  She does.  I asked her to take a few shots of the chandelier so it shows how sparkly it gets.  Here is what she got.       And I love the crystals.     We had a fun camping trip planned with Scott's brother Colin and Kersten's family for Labor Day weekend, but we decided to cancel and stay home to "labor".  Living in a mess was starting to grind on us.  It has been two and a half months since we started construction.  And we are not the patient kind that enjoys the process.  Kersten took Kai and Quinn to the pool Saturday afternoon and Bryan and Karine took the kids all day Monday.  Caroline and Asha kept asking us what they could do to help.  We are grateful for the help.        Scott worked on moldings and base boards.  I had no idea what a big job it was going to be.  If I had known, I don't know if I would have asked.  I found a blog that had moldings I liked and asked if Scott could copy it.  He said he could, and has worked so hard since.         Scott also finished the island by putting in the toe kick and base boards.  It is so pretty.You can tell why we have to paint the bar stools.  It has an olive tint in it.  I am still working on choosing the color.  I think I am going to keep it light.      I got the mud room cleaned up.  This room had turned into a "catch all" as we worked on the other parts of the house, so it took some doing to get all the junk out of the way.  Here is the laundry side.  The tall cabinet is from IKEA.  It is actually a kitchen cabinet called AKURAM.  I love it that it has drawers inside.  Really nice quality.  I originally bought it for the office, but decided I didn't want anything tall in there.  I am glad I found a spot for it.The door you see on the right opens to the back yard.  We got rid of the door in the kitchen, so this is the way the kids come in after school.  I love it that the mess stays in this room.  I am going to love it even more when winter comes.  All the shedding of clothes, hats, mitts and boots can happen here instead of in my kitchen.              This side is not finished yet, but the hooks went up. Scott is going to make a bench that goes along the wall.  And the floor needs to go in, but that is a topic for another post.         We painted the living room in a soft grey.  We haven't painted the ceiling yet, so you can see the old color there.  I couldn't believe how high you could reach with an extension pole.  We got to the top of the second floor without a ladder.     We also got the closet shelves in.  Asha got right into organizing.  Her room is the closest to being finished.  Another coat of paint on the wall, window molding, and the vanity is what is left.     This is Kai and Quinn's closet.  I put everything low so they could get to their clothes without climbing.  The bottom shelf is Quinn's, next is Kai's, and the other two are for off season clothes and hand-me-downs.  hopefully no more hanging from the closet pole.   And here is how Quinn spent today.  Poor guy has a high fever and hasn't been able to keep much down.  I sat next to him most of the day with a laptop, while I tried to get him to drink.     [...]

Backsplash and chandelier


The back splash is up.  George loaned us his tile saw and Colin helped Scott put it up.

We will wait a while to let the tile adhesive cure and then grout it.  The tiles are big.  10"x20".  They are porcelain called Ascot Cube.     

Here is the "We did it!" pose.    

We also put the chandelier up for the dining table.  Love for things like this.  

Scott started working on window trim and baseboards.  Big and chunky.  Can't wait.

Bad Apple


I love having a bowl of granny smith apples in my kitchen.  They usually sit in my glass trifle bowl and add just enough color to my otherwise plain kitchen.   

When the counter stools came from and we didn't like the color (We were warned from the many reviews of the possibility.), we knew just what to do.  Paint them in apple green.    

Well, it looks terrible.  Unfortunately, the cheerfulness of the apple didn't translate to the stool.  Did it get lost in the paint selection or should I change course?  I do have a few other ideas.  The red tomatoes are looking great on our counter right now.  What about the bright yellow lemons?  Or, are these bright colors better left to the food?     



Saturday was spent mostly on our hands and knees.  George, our contractor came in the morning to finish putting the sub-floor down in the addition part, while Scott prepared the old part by pulling some staples and sanding off a few raised parts. Here you see the first row being carefully laid down. Scott's brother Colin had put his floor down when he renovated his house, so he coached us throughout the process.  Here he is teaching Jerome who had just gotten back from a week of Encampment.  Jerome helped for a couple hours and then went down stairs for what he called a "power nap".  He then slept through until the next morning.  He looked very refreshed after the 16 hour nap.   Scott's father came and helped us, too.  He is very handy and I appreciated his calming influence, especially towards the end when we needed it.   And here it is!  All finished!  (This picture was taken the following day.)   Well, almost.  We were short by a fifth of a box.  We thought we carefully calculated and then bought two more boxes on top of that like you are supposed to.  We don't know what happened.  We didn't waste much either.  I keep hoping that I would walk into a box that we somehow misplaced, but so far, no luck.     And here is the crew at 10:30(Minus Jerome. I couldn't wake him up.).  Scott and I will be forever grateful for the help of Colin and Dad.  And let's not forget Kersten who watched our children all day.  Kai and Quinn were so happy and tired when they came back that they didn't even make a peep once they were in bed. [...]



It has been an exciting day.  Mario & Son from Spokane came and installed our countertop.        

And glued the sink on.

It looks like this with the fixtures, which are just resting in the holes.  The plumber is coming tomorrow to get everything connected.

Here is an attempt for a close up picture.  I wish I knew how, but I don't.  This is the best I can do.  You will have to come and see it in person for a better look.  

The wall mud has been applied.  Sanding and texturing to follow tomorrow.  I will start painting the walls and Scott is gearing up for a big day putting floor down on Saturday.

Sierra Silver Mine Tour


The next day we took a Silver Mining Tour.  We didn't expect much going in because the advertisement was modest(a small sign on the store front) compared to all the in-yor-face kind we are accustomed to, but were surprised at how informative and entertaining it was.  The 90 minute tour was enjoyed by the adults and kids alike, which is a rare and wonderful thing.

You get to ride this open trolly around town and up into the woods where the mine is.    

With jackets and helmets on, we are ready to enter the mine.

Lots of demonstration from a retired miner as we walked through the mine.  The local high school has a mining class and the students get their field education in this mine.  They helped stage the mine for the tour.  

I had no idea how tough the work was.  Dark, hot, humid, dirty, dangerous, and lonely because they each get paid by how far they can dig in a day.  I can't imagine doing it day in and day out.      

The tour ended after a stroll around the town Wallace, where we saw some historic buildings and cute old houses.

Hiawatha Biking Trail


Just as we were loosing hope for a trailer vacation because we have been so consumed with the renovation, Scott decided getting away from it all for a little weekend trip was a must.  We loaded up the bikes and headed to Northern Idaho... ... to Hiawatha Rail-Trail.  Hiawatha Rail-Trail is a scenic section of abandoned rail-bed from the Milwaukee Raod that was turned into a world class non-motorized trail.  It is either a 30 mile round trip with 2000 feet of elevation change, or 17 miles of level and downhill dirt track with a shuttle bus ride to regain your 1000 foot elevation loss.  We chose the latter. Here we are excited to get on our way.  There was a 1.7 mile tunnel at the beginning and several shorter tunnels that followed throughout the trail.   The kids enjoyed turning on their LED head lights.   The view from the many bridges were just fantastic.      This was Kai's first big bike ride.  He was a champion on his old and rickety Spider man bike that wouldn't cruise.  He pedaled and pedaled, until his legs were exhausted.  He still made it three quarters of the way.   We had Dixie cups back at the camp ground afterwards.  They tasted extra yummy after the long bike ride.    We can't wait to come back again.  "But with better bikes, Mom!" the kids say.    [...]

Sheet rock


It has been a dusty week, but the result is exciting.  It is finally starting to look like a living space. eat-in dining areamud roomThis used to be a laundry closet .  You can see where it used to end.    Jerome's roomAsha's roomsecond floor alcoveThis used to be Asha's room.  We tore the walls down and opened it up to be an upstairs living room.  The sheet rock guys were covered in sweat and white powder when they were finished.  They left two sets of white foot prints down our driveway all the way to their truck.  What hard work they do! There are a few new additions to the kitchen.pot filler 600 CFM range hoodHopefully this powerful fan will be able to expel the smoke fast enough that the smoke alarm won't go off as much as it has "when Papa burns food".  I might even be able to fry spring rolls inside. Scott is in the process of painting some built-ins for the family office area.  I should be able to show it to you in a few days.  The counter top is scheduled to go in this Thursday, which means we will have plumbing back in the kitchen.  The kids have never been so excited to load the dish washer.[...]

The face frames are in!


The face frames are in!  

We took the old wall cabinets and microwave off the wall.  We love how open and spacious it feels.

Last saturday we ripped out the tile with the help of Scott's brother Colin and nephew Seth.  It turned out to be a lot bigger job than we anticipated.  Scott and I stayed up until two to finish getting the 2500 square head screws out of the hardie board.  The screws wouldn't come out unless the grout was scraped out of the screw heads which made the process painful and long.  

Now we are working on getting the staples out of the sub floor.  Unlike the square head screws, these staples are fun to pull out.  Don't get me wrong.  It still is a process.  You stick a flat head screw driver by the staple, hammer it under the staple until the staple comes up a little, and then pull it out using fencing pliers.  But it is satisfying when the long staple comes out.  If only my back didn't hurt after a while.  I would be doing it all day.  Instead, we pay the kids 10 cents per staple.

This is not related to the reno, but here is a picture of what happens when you have two boys volunteer to make milk shakes for the first time.  Yes, they really were trying to put the whole box of ice cream in my blender.  

bar stool side storage


Today we got the bar side cabinet doors in...  

... and the sink cabinet got doors, too.  

Scott got started on the face frames, which he says is a tedious job.      

The cabinets are in!


This past week was mostly spent on electrical work, plumbing, and making of the drawer fronts.  We decided that Scott's time is better spent doing things he does well, and hired a pro to do the plumbing.  We are glad we did because plumbing for an addition turned out to be a bit complicated.   Today Scott changed out all the old drawer fronts and made some special pieces to finish up everything that uses drawer slides.  I put pulls on all day long.  Here is a the wall side.   The first piece Scott made is a pull out bottle holder for oils, vinegars, and anything else you want when you are cooking at the stove.  There are two of them, one on either side of the stove. This is the island.  The two empty spaces you see are for the dishwasher, on the left, and the sink, on the right. And the second piece Scott made is a pull out trash and recycle bin.  He followed a tutorial from this blog.   Our life has been interesting now that we haven't had plumbing in the kitchen for a week.  Here is how we do dishes.       Don't let this fun picture fool you.  The boys "helped" just once before the novelty wore off and they lost interest.  It's fine because I actually don't mind doing the dishes as long as I have Jerome and Asha's help.  Jerome fills up the two storage containers with water.  It takes him several trips to the bathroom sink with a big pot.  He does this happily whenever I call, "Jerome, get water from the well!" Jerome and I thought it was fun to pretend that we were pioneers, until we realized that we were silly for thinking that getting warm city water from a faucet fifteen feet away didn't really qualify as a pioneer experience.  But it is still fun.  We first tried to take the storage containers into the bathroom sink to fill, but then learned that we couldn't get the faucet out of it before loosing most of the water.  That made a big mess in the bathroom when a lot of that water ended up on the floor.  Jerome also dumps the dirty water into the toilet after I am finished, a big help.  Asha "unloads the dishwasher" by putting away all the dishes that I pile up in the basket.   I pulled the lower basket out of our dishwasher and put it on a bath towel so it wouldn't roll off of the countertop. Scott is taking the rest of the week off of work, so we should have more things to show you soon.  Stay tuned![...]

Ready to instal the rest of the cabinets


The sidings are up.The workers spent this week taking out the inner wall. Scott started the electrical with the help of Marc Smith.    Most of the cabinet parts are made and ready for installation.  Here are the cabinet boxes.      And the drawer fronts.  You also see the IKEA drawer parts in their boxes.   The five piece drawer fronts look amazing, don't they?  Scott has perfected the art.     I am really impressed with Scott's ability and patience for learning new skills.  I know it has been a steep learning curve.  Pictured below is the first set of drawer fronts he had made.  The wood planks he got at the local store was slightly warped, so the drawers didn't line up straight.  The sanding job was not the best.  The inexpensive paint sprayer produced an unwanted orange peel effect.  Despite the imperfections, Scott was so excited that he finished his first set of drawers.   He took a picture on his iPhone and showed it to Mark at work.   Mark used to be a cabinet maker and he had been giving Scott some advice.  He wasn't impressed.  He took one look at the tiny picture and asked Scott why they weren't straight.  Now that Scott has better tools, more tricks under his sleeves, and a lot more patience for details and quality control, he thinks it is funny that he was so proud of those first drawers.     Here is another one.  Scott spent the whole evening making these drawer fronts, just to find out that they were half an inch too short on both sides.  It wasn't funny.  Not at 11p.m.           I am going to miss seeing these drawer fronts that have given me a smile every day.      [...]