Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · dogs · Gulf Coast · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

The Art of Practicing Stillness

In today’s world of social media, it’s often hard for me to find stillness. There is this huge demand to stay connected. Even before I felt the pressure of social media, I struggled with finding serenity. It was one of the things that appealed to me about sailing. Being able to quiet my mind and find peace in the midst of the mental storm was something I craved desperately. The solitude of being on the ocean with nothing but the flap of the canvas as the wind moved the sails seemed to be the answer.

While there is busyness in the work of sailing, I find it brings me to a place internally where I am able to recenter. Once the auto pilot is set, I try to find a comfortable spot to just sit and breathe in all that is around me. I take a deep breath, filling my lungs with the salty sea air. I listen to the lap of the waves as they slap the hull and the cries of gulls circling overhead wishing I were a shrimp boat. I push the anxious thoughts that continually plague me and instead take note of the way the canvas flutters and the direction of the tell-tales on the sail as we glide across the water. It never ceases to amaze me how still the Bay here can be, almost like sailing on a lake. As I take in my surroundings, I again quiet my mind from intruding thoughts,  and then do absolutely nothing. That’s right nothing. The age old wisdom from the Psalms says “Be still and know that I am God.” Sometimes I have to remind myself that He is God and I am not. I am not in control of the wind or the waves, He is. Practicing stillness isn’t trying to problem solve or even pray. It’s literally making everything in my life silent. Not an easy task for this over thinker.

There are several reasons I practice stillness at least 15 minutes everyday. I use this time to reconnect to my true self. It’s easy to get caught up in the image that I present to the world, but I want to live from the inside out. I want to be able to love the person I am today in this moment. I am extremely hard on myself so taking this time to just let all of that go and just “be” is essential. My favorite place to practice stillness is on my boat, whether it be at sea or docked. I can just as easily apply this practice to my morning cup of coffee while I sit topside as I can at sail. I first set aside a time each day for what I like to call my “quiet time.” Stillness isn’t necessarily prayer, but it can be an act of worship. I relax my body, become aware of my breath, and quiet my mind. This has so far been the hardest part for me. My mind runs 1000mph, with flurries of thoughts popping up everywhere. I try to use non-judgmental observation, or mindfulness, to help keep the thoughts at bay. When I first began practicing stillness, I found this was often when the negative thoughts and voices in my head were the loudest. They would remind me what a failure I was, or how everything that had happened in my marriage was my fault. They would point out all the moments in time when I had really screwed up and let everyone down. As I learned to push those thoughts aside and focus on the present, my surroundings, it got a little bit easier. I am learning to be present. I watch the clouds or birds as they pass by. I smell the ocean, the way the teak oil smells on the boat. I feel the wind on my face and listen to the water. Sometimes I close my eyes and visualize a place I’ve been that gave me peace, recalling intricate details. I like to close out my quiet time with prayer, but sometimes just say out loud positive affirmations. I remind myself that I am loved. I am worth loving. I am healthy. I am a loving mother. I am a loving and nurturing daughter. I am a kind and caring sister. I give and receive love freely.

This practice has definitely helped me move towards healing. I hope you are able to incorporate this into your day and learn to live in today.

Much love everyone! Fair winds and Following Seas!5E7CE4CD-4D13-4B7C-971F-9B90A2B0D5F7

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Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · dogs · Gulf Coast · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Magical Days: Living in the moment

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Friday turned out to be absolutely magical. With the refit still happening onboard my boat S/V Rialto Zephyr, she’s not ready to be sailed. Friday the winds changed to the southeast and the air began to warm. Although the temperature was still a little cool, I couldn’t resist the sailing bug any longer. My Dad owns a 31ft. Allied Rhodes Seafarer, the smaller sister version of my boat. I had decided to head over to the marina to do some cleaning on the Rialto Zephyr but my dad had mentioned a few issues he wanted me to look at with his boat. It has a few soft spots on the cabin near a teak rail. I wanted to see how big the area that would need to be fixed was and to explore some options of repair WITHOUT having to cut down into the fiberglass. My dad decided to join me and together we succumbed to sailing fever. We loosened the mooring lines and set out to sail on the bay.

I jokingly but loving have bestowed the nickname the “Accidental Sailor” on my Dad. He wasn’t looking for a boat when he purchased the Deja Vu and I certainly never saw him learning to sail. Yet, here we are, gliding across the bay as if we were seasoned sailors. I’m sure we weren’t doing it properly or that he even knows the names to all of the essential workings but it doesn’t matter to him as long as we are safe and enjoying ourselves, and enjoy ourselves we did. There was little to no wind when we first set out, but eventually a gentle breeze picked up. We hoisted the Jib and practiced tacking and jibbing. I love the fact that my Dad allows me to “play around” with the heading and the sails. I’m learning how to sail without instrumentation and I feel like that’s a pretty important skill, considering I’ve experienced electrical failure onboard my boat. The wind died down again and my Dad grabbed a fishing rod and lazily cast off the stern while I soaked up the warm January sun. I briefly thought of my Massachusetts sailing family and thanked God that I live in a place where I can sail year round. With no fish biting and the wind starting to pick up again, we motored a little further to the east. I noticed a sailboat off of our starboard stern and thought to myself that it appeared familiar. As the boat gained on us (we hadn’t brought our jib down and the wind DEFINITELY slowing us down) I realized that it was our good friend David, a fellow live aboard from the marina. David has been sailing for most of his life and in my opinion is one of the most knowledgable sailors I’ve ever met. He had been watching us from the shore and when he noticed that we were sitting dead in the water (remember the lazy fishing) he decided to charge his batteries and check on us at the sam time. We changed course and headed west back into the marina, enjoying conversation as we took turns gliding along the glass bay. I sat on the bow and watched as brown pelicans floated above the water, the tips of their wings touching just enough of the water to cause ripples. One bird in particular flew so low across the water that it almost appeared to be slowing sinking into the ocean itself. Just about the time I pointed the bird out to my dad, it quickly cut a left turn and hopped right aboard our bow only 2 ft from where I sat. The bird made itself comfortable and my Dad got quite the laugh as I freaked out a little bit. I have this thing about flapping around my head. I inched my way down the rails to the cabin where my Dad stood hysterically laughing at the wheel. Once I realized our stowaway wasn’t going to peck my eyeballs out, I grabbed my phone and began to snap pictures. The pelican sat quietly, looking at us as if to say “Um I demand payment for your passage, FEED ME.” Once he realized that there was no snacks to be had, he dove off into the water and paddled away. It was a really funny and incredible experience. Thankfully he did no damage or mess. I snapped the above picture of David in his boat as we made our way back to the marina. We easily docked into our slip and I helped my Dad tie off the lines. I glanced forlornly over at the Rialto Zephyr and felt renewed motivation to finish the refit.

These are the days that make living worthwhile. I know one day I will look back at this memory with fondness. Sailing hasn’t only healed me from a broken heart, it’s restored a relationship with my Dad that at one time I thought was lost. So often I forget to just slow down and live in these moments. Friday was a reminder again that not everything in my life is broken.

Fair Winds everyone!

 

Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · dogs · Gulf Coast · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Daily Prompt: Shock

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To say that this life I’m living now is a bit of a shock would be an understatement. When I first started out on this journey, I wasn’t sure I’d make it to the other side. There were days I didn’t want to wake up and days when I was sure that if heartbreak could kill I was on death’s door. Looking back now, as much as that hurt and still hurts some days, I realize that it was all a part of the story that is being woven. Sure I have regrets, we all do, at the same time I’m coming to realize that life is about chances. Every chance we are given to love, to learn is so incredible.

A few months ago I took a chance by starting this blog. I didn’t think anyone would read it and honestly I didn’t really care. It was more or less a way for me to get my excruciating emotions out. Somehow  writing about the path that Ava and I were on seemed to me the only way to be able to put one foot in front of the other. Today over 400 people read it and while that makes me feel slightly vulnerable, I am proud of every little thing I’ve written. I took an even bigger chance when I decided to live aboard the Rialto Zephyr. Trust me, you should have seen the looks I received from family members when I told them of my plans to make my home on a sailboat full time. It’s not conventional, but then again neither am I. I’ve always had a bit of a restless, adventurous side and this life is now a chance for me to explore that. I’m discovering who I am. I’m learning my own strengths. I’m learning to love myself again.

It’s also a bit of a shock to others when I tell them that I share my little home with my 110 lbs. German Shepherd. Ava isn’t exactly what most people would think of as a “boat dog” and true sometimes her size gets in the way. Still, there is nothing like watching how happy she is when we are underway and she is standing on the bow. When I’m behind the wheel, she lays at my feet, my constant skipper. She’s adjusted to this life better than I thought she would. She’s been a reminder so many times that I should just slow down and live in the moment. She’s finds joy in small things; beach walks, swims, and lazy days of laying in the sun on the deck. Most days she’s the reason I find joy too.

I am still in shock over how different my life is, but it’s not all bad. Sometimes we need a little jolt to wake us up to the life we were supposed to be living.

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Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · dogs · Gulf Coast · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Introduction: New Year, New Followers

It’s 18 degrees outside right now. Yes, I live in Mobile, Alabama and it’s 18 degrees. Everyone is freaking out. Schools, work, roads are closed. I am shut up in the apartment dreaming of sailing. I’ve been trying to be better at posting but haven’t had much to blog about lately. The S/V Rialto Zephyr, my 38 ft. Rhodes Seafarer, is across the street in the marina just waiting to be loved again. The weather hasn’t been right for really working on her. I’m hopeful that by the weekend this cold will have pushed through and I’ll be able to get to her. I have so many plans this year.

I recently had a follower on Twitter ask me to do an introduction post. Initially when I started this blog I had posted the story of how it came to be that I lived on a sailboat, but it’s been almost 10 months since that journey began. It certainly hasn’t been easy or gone the way I had planned but I feel as if I am making progress and my goal for 2018 is to live aboard full time. So I thought I’d revisit the past for just a bit and introduce myself, Ava (The Wayfaring Tail Wagger) and my life.

My name is Rebecca. I was born and raised on the beautiful Gulf Coast. I had a pretty idyllic childhood with lots of adventures. My Dad has been a school teacher for nearly 40 years and our summers were filled with his dreams. We learned how to make pottery by digging clay out of our backyard and firing it in a kiln he purchased from the art department. We sold watermelons and blueberries from the back of trucks and learned about marketing and sales. We bought a boat and became marine biologists, discovering all the incredible things about living on the Gulf of Mexico. I suppose that’s where I get my adventurous, albeit restless nature.

I married young, had two children, divorced, remarried, had a precious baby girl, went through an abusive, traumatic relationship, divorced, remarried and in a heartbreaking twist, my ex-husband, who suffered from PTSD and a Traumatic Brain Injury, left with a family member one day to never return. It was a complete shock and surprise to all of our family and friends. No one saw it coming, especially me. Ken and I had started a nonprofit for veterans who suffered from the same demons he did. We had loved and lived happily with this being our life’s work. The nonprofit farm was our happy place, but now it was completely broken just like our marriage. For weeks, Ava, his emotional support German Shepherd, and I cried and prayed that he would come home. He never did. A few weeks later, my oldest son graduated high school, my youngest daughter went to live with her father, and my middle daughter moved out with friends. In less than a month my entire world had fallen apart. I had been a full time paid caregiver for my husband through the Veteran’s Administration so I lost my job when he moved out as well. I was forced with the decision to move back home to be with my parents until I could get on my feet.

What followed is one of the most deepest depressions I think I’ve ever experienced. I felt so lost. Ava was lost as well. Suddenly she the one person who she was born to serve and help wasn’t in her life anymore. She laid around, stopped eating and became my shadow.   In an effort to come to terms with what happened, I started a blog about traveling with Ava. You see, I thought I would have to reinvent my life to survive. It was so different than the life I had known. We slowly adjusted to apartment living with my parents. We took long walks on the boardwalks and beach. One day my Dad called me and asked me to walk over to the marina next door. He had discovered the beautiful treasure the S/V Deja Vu and she was for sale. Little did I know that this was my father’s way of trying to save me. He and my mother felt if they didn’t intervene and give me something to live for that I might not live. They were right. My Dad purchased the boat and I set to work getting her cleaned. The Deja Vu is a beautiful Allied Rhodes Seafarer and with a little bit of elbow grease, quite possibly one of the prettiest little sailboats I’ve ever seen. I had experienced sailing in New England with friends and wanted to learn more. I began reading books, articles and talking to sailors. A few weeks later, I landed my dream job as an operations manager in a local marina. Unfortunately, the business was dying and within a few months I’d be without a job again. During my time at the marina I began dreaming of living aboard a sailboat. The Deja Vu isn’t quite big enough for me and 110 lbs. German Shepherd, so I began to look for larger boats. That’s when I found her! My baby and the reason this blog exists now, the S/V Rialto Zephyr. With help from a friend, I  purchased her and moved her to the marina I worked at. A few weeks later I started the process of moving aboard. The few weeks that I spent aboard her were happy and the sailing bug definitely bit hard. When the marina shut down, we moved the Rialto Zephyr to the marina across the street. There weren’t any live aboard slips but I tried to use this time to plan a refit and some much needed repairs. Meanwhile, Ava had adjusted to boat life and just the mention of the word boat would send her into happy barking and tail spinning. I made friends at the marina and learned more about sailing from them than in any book I’d ever picked up.

So now it’s been 10 months since my life was shaken. Am I happier? Yes. Do I still have a lot of healing to do? Absolutely! but I am healing. The blog really helped and now that I’m in a place where I don’t feel like I have to explain the heartache anymore, I’m hoping it can go back to being about my adventures with Ava and our friends. Thank you to everyone who showed such a great deal of support and love to Ava and I. You have no idea how it helped us on this journey.

Fair Winds and Following Seas my friends! Off to work on the refit list again.

 

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Word of The Day: Viable

I am running out of viable options for my life. 2018 hasn’t been here but for 4 days and already I feel as if I’m crashing and burning. The only good thing to have happened recently was my Christmas visit with the kids, but even that was not without a ridiculous amount of stress. I have no job: Month 3. I’ve not even really had any bites of prospects. I feel like a total failure. Not to mention that there were apparently pictures all over social media of my estranged husband with his new girlfriend. I wasn’t quite ready for that. Our divorce was filed but I was never served. I sat here waiting with sickening anticipation that eventual led to boredom as it never happened. I’ve had no travel plan activity and with no money coming in, won’t be having anything of the sort for some time.

Have you ever wondered what your viability is? Like, are you capable of making something out of the life you currently live? I do every day. I play a game of round robin with a million viable options as to how I can get my life on track. The scenarios play out over and over in my head and quite honestly I feel as if I’m losing my mind on those days. I ask myself if I have somehow brought all of this on me. Surely there has to be some reason I lost everything and can’t quite seem to gain any forward momentum other than time. Time keeps moving even when/if I do not. Every day I’m further in debt. Every day I am barely treading water to stay alive. My days have become more or less a roller coaster of emotion where I’m giddy with joy and excitement one moment and then seconds later feel the nausea over take me as I dive into a death defying low. Have I talked to a therapist or counselor? No. I no longer know if I have insurance and the VA won’t tell me anything as I was removed from his contact information many months ago.  I’m holding on to the only thing I have left and that is my faith, but even now I question it some days. I’m being tested. This I know for sure. To what purpose or extent, I have no idea. Most days I’m just glad that I made it through the day without finally deciding I can’t take it anymore and ending it all.

My emotions are raw and my feelings are tender. I’m all over the place. I know that if I were to have at least one good thing happen, it might turn the tide and push the waves that threaten to drown me back a bit. Maybe then I could catch my breath, spit up the foamy sea water that has filled my lungs and be able to have life again. For now it’s crushing me and life doesn’t seem viable on this lonely ocean floor at all.

Alabama Gulf Coast · Christmas · divorce · dogs · Gulf Coast · Pets · Sailboats · Uncategorized

Merry Blogmas Failure and Catch up

My first attempt at a blogging challenge has failed miserably! Around, oh I don’t know Day 6, I spiraled into a depression that I’m still struggling with. The holidays are HARD. No if’s and or but’s about it! I decided today that I really needed to at least give myself something to do and since I have entirely too much time on my hands, thought what better time to catch up on the Merry Blogmas challenge. So here goes:

#BRIGHT #ORNAMENTS #SOMETHINGYOUREREADING #WRAPPINGPAPER #GREEN #BEAUTIFULSIGHT #FAMILY #CHRISTMASTREE #FAVORITEHOLIDAYSONG

WHEW!

I’m going to knock several of these out in one fell swoop. A few days ago I finally surrendered my displeasure at setting up a Christmas tree and did it. I had some help and my mom directed the entire thing so it wasn’t too bad. The tree actually turned out really pretty. Yesterday my mom placed the little owl ornament on the tree. I have to admit I think it’s pretty cute! I wish I were crafty enough to make things like that. As we finished “trimming the tree” my mom said, “It looks great! I’m going to go tomorrow and find some of that icicle trim stuff you can throw on the tree.” Sadly I had to inform her that they don’t make it anymore. It is apparently a serious choking hazard and I don’t think it’s been made since like the early 90’s. Hey time gets away from us all. #bright, #ornaments, #green, #family, #christmastree

I hate wrapping gifts. I love it when I’m in the mall and some charitable organization has a wrapping station set up for donations. TAKE MY MONEY! I’m a duck tape and gift bag kind of girl. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cut my finger or had the gift coming out looking as if I rolled it in the paper and ripped it with my bare hands. Actually that’s probably what happened.  #wrappingpaper

#FavoriteHolidaySong

Oh geez, ok so if you’ve followed my blog you’ve discovered that one of my favorite holiday songs is the Eagle’s version of “Please Come Home for Christmas.” It’s possibly one of the most depressing Christmas songs EVER. So in an effort to not be so depressing that I”ll  want to jump off the Dauphin Island Bridge, I’ve decided to share my love of the Vince Guaraldi Trio. As a child I loved to watch The Charlie Brown Christmas Special. It’s also one of my favorite holiday movies. The soundtrack is all VCT and it’s beautiful and happy and jazzy. I love it. Then again, I love pretty much all of their music. Every time I hear “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” I think of the Weather Channel. They use it for the forecast in the winter.

# BeautifulSight

The other morning a friend of mine called and begged, no demanded, that I get up early to see the sunrise. He was driving across the bay and assured me it was possibly one of the best sunrises he’d ever seen. It was cold and I really didn’t want to leave my warm bed but I had this feeling in my heart that I was supposed to get up and do this. I’m glad I did. The deep blues of the night were fading away to the orange glow of morning. The moon was still visible and it was an eerily spiritual experience to see both night and morning merge together. I said a prayer and made a wish on the last star as it faded out of sight. I hope it comes true.

 

The blog has been filled with my depressive mood so much lately that I’ve considered not writing anymore. Honestly though, when I do it’s a tremendous outlet for me. I hope that eventually it can go back to being what I imagined it to be; Ava and I traveling, sharing our adventures. Right now it’s taking a backseat to the reality of my life. Or maybe I’m coming to terms that this is the reality. I’m not sure. I know it’s not pleasant.

So Merry Blogmas anyway! Hopefully this will jumpstart me back to writing again. Oh and I almost forgot…Here are two of the books I’m reading right now. Nicholas Sparks because I need sappy romance in my life and A Gentle Spirit because this book belonged to my Grandma. Inside she underlined and highlighted things in red. I guess I want to feel close to her (she passed away in 2006). Maybe I’m hoping she’ll share some of her wisdom through the notes she made. I miss her.0110743F-AAC1-4380-BB3C-DB584DC7957A

 

Alabama Gulf Coast · Christmas · divorce · dogs · Gulf Coast · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Merry Blogmas! Day 6 #shopping and Wishing Well Wednesday

We are 6 days into December and 6 days into my Merry Blogmas 30 Day challenge. Just as I mentioned yesterday, the weather is total crap. It would be a perfect day to be #shopping but I am #broke. This whole not having a job thing is definitely getting the Christmas Spirit harder to be in the mood for. Yes, I know that it’s not all about presents but I’m a giver and not really a big receiver. It makes me happy to see others enjoy a gift I’ve given. This year it’s going to be a little tough to make that happen. On a happy bright note, my kids ARE coming in for a few days around Christmas. I’m so excited!

Not only is is Merry Blogmas Day 6, it’s also Wishing Well Wednesday. Today my wish is that I would actually hear something back from the nearly 200 job applications I’ve filed in the last 3 weeks. It’s hard to find work here unless you are in retail or a shipbuilding career. I’ve started placing my applications in to retail and coffee shops. If I don’t hear something by the end of the week I’ll start putting resumes in for restaurants. I’m not being picky about where I work at this point. I just hate to see the education and experience I have go to waste. I actually have an even bigger wish for this Wishing Well Wednesday. I wish that the nonprofit that I created in New Hampshire would be revived here. There is such a need all over the country to provide job training to veterans. I’ve always believed there was healing in agriculture. The peace I saw it bring the veterans who participated in Veterans Chapel Farm, an agricultural training program that Ken and I founded in New Hampshire. I wanted so badly to see it grow into an actual US Dept of Labor apprenticeship program. With that status, Veterans could use their GI Bill to earn certification in an agricultural field. There are so many grants available to nonprofits in this sector, especially ones who work with veterans. I just don’t even know where to start. I put my feelers out to a local farm only to be shot down with a “we’ve had several organizations contact us and they all have big promises but really they are after the money.” I haven’t responded because I can’t think of a way to nicely say what I want to. I do understand where he is coming from though. We saw this in New England as well. I’m definitely not in it for the big bucks. That’s not where my heart is. But, if I could change the lives of veterans and their families by teaching them how to get into sustainable agriculture and how to apply to resources to help them, you bet I want to be involved.

So back to #shopping…..

Today isn’t exactly a day to be out in the weather, so I wanted to share some of my favorite online shopping sites. Stitch Fix would be number one. I had a subscription to Stitch Fix when I was working a professional job and needed to dress business casual. I had no idea how to pair items. I am not the fashionista in any sense. The site was really easy to navigate and I was able to fill out a style profile. My stylist did a great job because I only sent a few pieces back over the year that I had the subscription. I hate clothes shopping so it was really nice to have the items picked out. I also loved being able to try them on at home. Stitch Fix now offers shoes, something they didn’t have when I was a subscriber. I’d love to renew my subscription with them. You can even set a budget to make the items in your “Fix” affordable. http://www.stitchfix.com

Etsy- I love homemade and vintage everything. Etsy is a great place to find quirky, fun items. I’ve ordered everything from home decor to winter hats from them. It’s also a great place to showcase your own handmade items. Maybe you’re a knitter or have some mad woodworking skills? Sell your items on Etsy. The process for starting a seller’s account was a little difficult to navigate but once I figured it I had no problem listing my items. Remember they have to be handmade or vintage items. This is NOT a resale site like EBAY. http://www.etsy.com

Amazon- Ok so Amazon has become my absolute go to site! I mean you can seriously shop for ANYTHING with them and now with the Whole Foods purchase I can buy my groceries as well! It’s so easy to set up Ava’s dog food on a monthly delivery. I don’t ever have the “omg I’m out of dog food” moments now. The same could be said for those other necessary items that we tend to run out of like toilet paper, dish liquid. Why these things never seem to end up on my shopping list stoops me every time. Yet, I almost always get home and discover I have to run back out to grab something I forgot.

Wish- If you have time to wait on an item (because their shipping is iffy) You should check out wish. They have some of the most random items on their website. They also have really really low prices. Everything from jewelry to electronics are listed. http://www.wish.com

I wanted to list EBAY but honestly I haven’t had a good experience with them lately. I used to sell my girls fancy dresses on them. One time this lady who got angry over something completely stupid blasted me in the ratings. I didn’t sell anything for awhile after that. Reviews are everything on EBAY so you want to make sure you keep people happy. On the flip side, I like that I read reviews and get an idea on who I’m purchasing from. So take Ebay as it comes. It survived the 90’s so that has to mean something right?

Time for me to brew myself a cup of tea. This weather has me just wanting to grab a book and curl up with my tea. Even Ava isn’t feeling it today.

Merry Blogmas everyone!

Oh and I had promised to snap a finished picture of the Lamb Roast. Unfortunately my parents loved it so much that they couldn’t even wait for me to take a pic and literally were pinching pieces of the roast off while I whacked their fingers with my wooden spoon. But seriously, that’s one you should make!