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Spring Faves: April Adventures

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April showers bring May flowers, or so they say, but around here April has brought plenty of papers, rainy afternoons, and evenings in the library. I've been applying for jobs, getting coffee with friends, and trying to dig roots down deep into this season that's ending. It's easy to start pulling back and preparing to move, but I'm trusting the Lord to handle that when it comes.

Spring also brings lots of sales and bright floral patterns, plenty of pretties to make me weak at the knees. Now y'all know I'm on a shopping freeze as part of The Contentment Challenge, but I HAVE to take a moment to brag on those things I already have on hand that are making these rainy (...senior-itis filled) April days a bit brighter.

I could live in fall clothes all year long if the weather would cooperate, which come to think of it is probably why I loved Seattle so much... But this terry cloth, striped, cinch-waist dress has become my go-to. It's light-weight, soft, has 3/4 length sleeves which I LOVE, annnnnnd it's on clearance. AT WALMART. I don't ever shop at Walmart, but it was one of those I wheeled my cart past and backed up in a hurry. I have it in the gray and black stripe as well as in solid black. It'll work great with leggings and cute booties in the fall, too.

THIS BOOK. I first heard about Wild and Free at The Influence Conference last fall, and I could not wait to get my hands on it. Jess and Hayley are quite the dynamic duo, and their heart for the Lord and encouraging women speaks right to my soul. In this book they share their journeys and discoveries about being wild with Jesus and free to be you in every sense of the word. I'm on the launch team, so I got the book a few weeks early, but you don't want to miss out on pre-ordering this gem!

Have any of you tried Audible? I've been a member for almost a year now, and I cannot recommend it enough! The long drives to and from school, as well as across the nation for festivals and conferences, have been made so much more enjoyable with audiobooks by my favorite authors. Start your free 30 day trial today! Need a book to start with? I recently finished The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck. It was so sweet!

Speaking of cute booties to wear with the dress listed above, I have practically been living in these faux-suede ankle boots I picked up at Charlotte Russe over the Christmas holidays. I got them on sale and snagged them in both nude and black. The heel is the perfect height and they're so versatile. I'm not ready for sandal weather quite yet, and these have pounded the pavement for a fancy event or two as well as a casual night out on the town.

Sadly, my nice digital camera has sat on the shelf for far too long. It's big and bulky and I'm perfectly content snapping away with my iPhone. But when I want a change of pace and something unique to add to my scrapbooks, I break out my Instax polaroid camera! It's light weight, easy to pack, and the cute little polaroids bring me so much joy. I need to remember to take it with to New York this summer.

Stationary makes my heart so happy, and the simplest things like a nice black pen can bring so much joy. The Illustrated Faith Pens have done just that! I use them for EVERYTHING. Scrapbooking, Bible journaling, paper outlining, planner organizing, you name it. They come in two sizes, and I plan to someday stock up on both.

I shared about my 100 Day Project of illustrating my faith every day, and I have to say my Journaling Bible is my favorite companion lately. Writing notes in the margins, painting throughout the pages, and spending a little time getting my hands and heart beautifully messy in the world has made all the difference!

Lastly, this 6' Amazon iPhone Cord is a GAME CHANGER. I have one in my bedroom and in the living room, and they stretch so far. I've had off brand chargers before that decide to stop working after a few weeks, but these are quality, y'all. And if you're on Instagram as much as I am, you need a charge more than just at night ;)

There you have it, friends. Surprisingly, listing my spring faves has made me even more excited to take a second look at things I've got around the house and put them to good use again. Woohoo!

What's on YOUR spring faves list? Pick any of these up lately?

Note: The above post contains affiliate links. These links won't cost you a cent more, but any shopping you do will help me power through my graduate studies with a Sonic happy hour run ;) Thanks for your support and enjoy.

24-Hour Readathon Live Update: April 2016

Challenge Complete! Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon rocked along on Saturday, and I have survived! See below for a full recap.

Total Time Read: 13hrs 17mins
Total Pages Read: 1,428 pages

TIME: 7:01am
LOCATION: Barely out of bed, crashed on the couch under a blanket.
UP FIRST: Ah Wilderness! by Eugene O'Neill
LISTENING TO: P.S. I Love You Pandora Station
FEELING: Half awake, exhausted.
COMMENTS: What have I gotten myself into?
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
TIME: 8:26am
LOCATION: My book nook, corner of the couch by the shelf.
FINISHED: Ah, Wilderness! By Eugene O'Neill
BRIEF REVIEW: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Love this play! We did scenes from it in college and I forgot how much it makes me smile.
UP NEXT: 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl
LISTENING TO: Ludovico Einaudi Pandora Station
FEELING: Tired but determined.
COMMENTS: This might be harder than I thought! I'm exhausted, but powering through. Stay tuned!
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
TIME: 10:01am
LOCATION: Sprawled out on the couch, sideways.
FINISHED: 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl
BRIEF REVIEW: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Goodness, I love theatre. And I love Sarah Ruhl. And I love umbrellas on stage. And I want to read this book again and again.
UP NEXT: Peter and Alice by John Logan
LISTENING TO: The Holiday Score Pandora Station
FEELING: Energized, inspired, and thankful.
COMMENTS: There is something deeply satisfying about finishing a book of 100 essays at 10:01am. I really love theatre. Watching it, creating it, studying it, reading about it. This woke me right up! A favorite quote: I was as transfixed as I've ever been, remembering that theatre is at its roots some very brace people mutually consenting to a make-believe world, with nothing but language to rest on." Now to take a 2 hour break for a shower, breakfast, and Bible study. I'll be back!
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
TIME: 11:54am
LOCATION: A sunny front porch.
FINISHED: Delight Ministries on Identity
BRIEF REVIEW: 💖💖💖 We might not have followed the book, but be still my heart, I love these ladies.
UP NEXT: Peter and Alice by John Logan
LISTENING TO: "Great Are You Lord" by All Sons and Daughters (feat. the lovely Jess) Praises.
FEELING: Encouraged, loved, secure.
TOTAL PAGES READ: 348 because the scriptures count ;)
COMMENTS: Totally worth a break to spend time in the Word and fellowship with these ladies! Talking about identity and security in Jesus was WONDERFUL.
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
TIME: 1:08pm
LOCATION: Back in my own little corner, curled up on the couch.
FINISHED: Peter and Alice by John Logan
BRIEF REVIEW: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Hands down, this is in my top five favorite plays. Maybe top three. I can't wait to be 80 years old and play Alice. And to direct it sometime before that 😉 Brilliant and moving. A fascinating read.
UP NEXT: The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow
LISTENING TO: Big Fish Score by Danny Elfman
FEELING: Whimsical, nostalgic, curious, contrariwise.
COMMENTS: Now I want to add Peter and Wendy as well as Alice in Wonderland to today's list! I could hear Dame Judi Dench and Ben Wishaw's voices so clearly in my mind reading this, and Big Fish was perfectly magical to listen to. But this marks the last of the theatre texts. Onto the fiction choices!

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
TIME: 3:55pm
LOCATION: Slumped on the other side of the couch.
FINISHED: The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow
BRIEF REVIEW: ⭐️⭐️ Eh, not bad but not a winner. Reviews said it was The Fault in Our Stars but the guy's perspective. Truth be told, I liked TFIOS better and bought the book because the cover was pretty.
UP NEXT: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
LISTENING TO: Peaceful Piano on Spotify
FEELING: Melancholy, hungry, ready for the next one.
COMMENTS: I mean, it was alright. Not one I'd necessarily go to again, but I'll keep it cause the cover's pretty. 😁 Pretty simple, straight forward, fifteen year olds sorting out life, love, and leukemia. Again, TFIOS was better and I sobbed though that entire book/movie. It's gonna be a looooong night y'all, but I'm really looking forward to the next books!
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
TIME: 4:37pm
LOCATION: Standing in the kitchen. *Dad jokes we all eat standing up at the counter because he had to when he was a flight attendant and we just picked it up from him. Guilty as charged.
CURRENTLY DEVOURING: This delicious red velvet cupcake... and All the Light We Cannot See
BRIEF REVIEW: 💃💃💃 Because cupcakes always win.
LISTENING TO: The Book Thief Score by John Williams
FEELING: Content... mostly. More cupcakes would be nice.
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
TIME: 2:05am
LOCATION: Beneath the fuzziest red polka dotted blanket.
FINISHED: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
BRIEF REVIEW: ⭐️⭐⭐️⭐️⭐️️ It was worth ALL the hype and the time it took to wade through the world of these characters! Gripping, propelling, intriguing, and beautiful.
UP NEXT: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
LISTENING TO: The Imitation Game Score
FEELING: Well pleased, intrigued, tired but dedicated.
COMMENTS: This one was certainly spread out tonight, but I'm SO glad it kept me company! I had to work for several hours in the midst of it, then an hour ago I had the joy of calling the police on a disturbance outside my apartment... BUT all is well and the book is complete! Onward we go!
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

So... I read until 3:30-3:45ish... and then I hit a wall. A MAJOR one. 
I decided to take a nap until 5:00am, but I slept right through until 7:00. Oops.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

TIME: 7:09am
LOCATION: Snuggled up in bed.
IN THE MIDDLE OF: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
STATUS UPDATE: We made it! I may not have read the full 24 hours, but I read just over half of the day away and THAT is a win!
LISTENING TO: White noise.
FEELING: Exhausted, happy, proud.
COMMENTS: I made it until 3:30am, then the day caught up to me. I crawled in bed for a "nap", planning to rise at 5:00 and read the last two hours, but my body said NOPE. 13+ hours of reading, 1400+ pages read, two plays, 100 essays, two and a half novels later, my first 24 hour readathon is complete! Now... back to sleep.
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Sooo.... WE MADE IT! I amy not have read all 24 hours but I made so much progress. I'm now HALFWAY to my 52 Books in 52 Weeks goal for 2016, AND the lovely Annie Wiltse and I are going to host our own 24 Hour Readathon this summer! Stay tuned for more details!

Catch a recap of my 24 Hour Readathon Experience on 
Instagram @lovebaileyjean and on Periscope @baileyjrobert. 

Call Me Crazy, But Challenge(s) Accepted

This post was originally titled "Dear Target, it's not you, it's me... mostly." However, I realized that was not true because it is ENTIRELY me. Why was I writing a break up letter to Target, you ask? Because sometime's a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. But we'll get to that in a minute.  

You may know that I love a good challenge (and you may also know that I'm either a wild success at them or riding the struggle bus the whole way...), so naturally I signed up for three at one time ;) Putting the title CHALLENGE on a goal gives me the extra "umph" I often need to get things into gear, and I love being able to document them on Instagram with a hashtag to look back once completed. It's quite the sense of accomplishment! 

Today I'm sharing the THREE challenges I'm diving into this month.

The Contentment Challenge
April 1 - June 30, 2016

I started The Contentment Challenge for the fifth sixth soemthing-th time at the start of April, and it's been going pretty well so far! This is where the break-up letter to Target comes into play. Thankfully the closest Target is over an hour away, and my college town doesn't have too much to offer in the way of shopping. So long as I keep myself from driving into the city and splurging, I should be good.

This time around I am following Nancy Ray's Contentment Challenge 12 Week Study. Partnering a desire to be more content with what I have --and to save money while doing it-- with a Biblical exploration of commitment is the element I have left out in every other failed challenge. Pick up her study guide for a more in-depth look at the process or even her free starter booklet. I've included a brief outline below to get us going.

We will give up shopping for clothes, accessories, household decor, and "stuff" for the next three months, to focus our hearts and minds on the root of true contentment. We will actively pursue fulfilling activities that will replace our addiction to material things.

The Guidelines (from Nancy Ray's blog, slightly edited for my personal challenge):
  • For the next few days, your homework is to do the following: prepare your heart, organize your closet, and make any necessary purchases that you might need during these months.
    • I did this at the end of March (and maybe a little splurge spending... SEE?! I NEED HELP), and those purchases have been made. I've got the guide and a list of stores I'm literally not allowed to step foot into during the challenge. Working at Anthropologie this summer is going to be an added challenge, I already know.
  • Choose 1-3 inspiring books to read during this time. 
  • Gifts are okay! If someone gives you a new dress or a piece of decor during that time, receive it graciously! If you need to buy someone else a gift, by all means do so. The point is not to be rude, but to learn more of ourselves and the Lord.
    • This is not a plug for gifts, but an allowance for honoring others even if it includes spending. I did send a couple of Greetabl boxes to some gal pals of mine, and Y'ALL. Spending on others feels so much better than spending on yourself! One lesson is already being learned. 
  • Necessities are okay! If you drop and break your phone, please get a new one. If you lose your glasses, buy a new pair. Just don't start justifying new purchases for items that you already have.
    • There is definitely a difference in a need and a want. Trying to draw the line clearly in the sand. I could say I "need" a new pair of nude sandals because my last ones broke, but honestly I have others that I could wear instead. Plus, that would mean walking into Target and DO NOT PASS GO! DO NOT SPEND 200 DOLLARS! So... that's not on my need list ;)
  • You must actively pursue something -anything- that replaces your tendency to buy stuff. Begin thinking about something you love or a hobby you've always wanted to do, and make preparations to actually do it.
    • The challenges shared below are part of my plan to replace window shopping --and inevitably over-shopping-- with another type of activity: reading and/or illustrating my faith! 
Are you in? Have you done The Contentment Challenge before? 
If so, I'd love to know what worked for you!

The 100 Day Project
April 19 - July 27, 2016

The second challenge I am participating in begins TODAY! If you haven't read The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna, add it to your list ASAP! Elle is also hosting The 100 Day Project, and I'm excited to jump in!  She shared all the details on Instagram, but I've also added them below.

  1. Choose your action (an action you will repeat for 100 days).
  2. Find a unique hashtag for your project like #100daysof...  (This is very important! Choose your own so you can have all of your work under one hashtag.
  3. Announce your project on Instagram with your hashtag and share using #the100dayproject.
  4. Finally, start this project on Tuesday, April 19th, repeating your action UP TO & INCLUDING July 27, 2016.

Voila! The 100 Day Project! This year I am getting into the Word and illustrating my faith. I'm so excited! Follow my Instagram @lovebaileyjean and my hashtag #100illustrateddays to see how things progress! I'm sure I'll share here and on Periscope along the way, too.

Have you done The 100 Day Project before? 
Are you joining in this year?!

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon
Saturday, April 23, 2016

Lastly, this is the most recent challenge I added to my list, and it is the one that will be completed first. This Saturday I am participating in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon! My to-be-read list is a mile long, and nothing quite fires me up like getting lost in a good book, so it should come as no surprise that my heart about pounded out of my chest when I saw that there was a 24-hour reading marathon this next weekend! 

Starting at 7:00am on Saturday, April 23, around 2,000 readers will start the day with their noses in a book, reading all the way until 7:00am Sunday morning, updating on Instagram, Twitter, and their blogs along the way. According to their blog, I'm going to be among The Casual Readathon-ers, those who start right on the dot but allow life to cut in a few times during the day. I've got a Bible study Saturday morning and I am house managing the musical Saturday night, but my plan is for those 3-4 hours to be the only break in my readathoning. 

I'm positively giddy with excitement! And I'm super nervous, which sounds silly. But mostly excited. I'll definitely be over-gramming about all the books on Saturday, and I plan to post here at Brave Love Blog once, updating it with time stamps and page counts along the way.  There are going to be giveaways and challenges throughout the day, too. I'll be sure to keep you posted, and wish me luck.

Yesterday I set aside my to-be-read pile for the challenge which includes four fiction selections, two plays, and a book of essays about life and theatre. I did not include any Christian living books because I like to work through those slowly with a pen and highlighter, savoring them along the way, whereas these I will be able to breeze through and still thoroughly enjoy them.
  1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Derr
  2. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  3. First & Then by Emma Mills
  4. The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow
  5. 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl
  6. Peter and Alice by John Logan
  7. Ah, Wilderness! by Eugene O'Neill

I don't necessarily plan to read them in this order, and I may add more to the list if by some miracle I'm able to tackle these with time to spare. A full recap and reviews will be on the blog sometime next week. After I've recovered of course ;) 

Have you read any of these selections? 
And any chance you'll join the Readathon?! Wish me luck!

Note: The above post contains affiliate links. These links won't cost you a cent more, but any shopping you do will help me power through my graduate studies with a Sonic happy hour run ;) Thanks for your support and enjoy.

Brave Love Book Club: April 2016

If I could sit at home and read books all day, I would. I am well on my way to reaching my goal for 2016 of reading 52 books over 52 weeks, and I am DELIGHTED to be back with the Brave Love Book Club this month! The blog was dark in March, but we're back in action, and I think you are going to LOVE this month's selection!

This month we are reading Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs.
"I want you to take every step of your life with excitement for where you are headed. And I want you to feel beautiful and confident as you do. But how?"

Now find your way to a bookstore or the library, pick it up discounted on Amazon, or borrow the book from a friend if you can, and dig in with us! I wrote the outline of the Brave Love Book Club HERE, but for clarity below is the updated breakdown: 

  • During the first week of each month I will share discussion questions, journaling prompts, extra resources, and Periscope dates for the book of the month. I will also announce the book selection for the following month so you have time to hunt down a good deal or check it out from the library.
  • There will be TWO Periscope dates one scheduled Periscope date on the 2nd  week of each month, to discuss the book, ask questions, and connect about what we are learning.  If you can't tune in live, they will be available for 24 hours after the initial broadcast, and I am hunting for a way to post them online as well. (Find me @baileyjrobert!) 
  • On the LAST Wednesday of each month we will link up our response/review in blogpost form (feel free to write about the book any time during the month, but this is the day I will host the link up with some added discussion questions for comments)!
  • I will be sharing thoughts and questions throughout the month on my Instagram, so follow along at @baileyjrobert and the hashtag #bravelovebookclub.

  • Here are the April dates you need to know:
    Thursday, April 7 (Today!): Details, Prompts, + Dates for Looking for Lovely
    Wednesday, April 13: Periscope Date*
    Wednesday, April 27: Review for Looking for Lovely
    *Periscope time TBA.

    Honestly I read this book in March and I LOVED it, so I'm looking forward to going back through it spending more time and doing each of the challenges. At the end of every chapter, Annie suggests that you try one of the ways she looks for lovely, and I'm determined to put those into action this go-around.

    Below are some questions/ prompts I've come up with to get us started, either journaling, Instagramming, blogging, however you want to respond! Also, feel free to leave your answers in the comments of this post AND to respond to others joining in! How fun would it be to get the convo going here?!

    April Prompts/Questions:
    • What does lovely mean to you? How do you look for lovely in your own life?
    • When is it hard to see what is lovely? Why? 
    • What are those things in life that brighten your day or point you back to the Lord? In this season, what is the loveliest to you?
    Like I said, these are starting points to get us going, and I am sure we will come up with more as we read through the book! I am truly so excited to journey with you all through Looking for Lovely this April. I cannot wait to see what the Lord does in our hearts and lives through it!

    Before you go, it is my pleasure to announce May's selection:
    Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong

    Now let's get to reading, writing, and digging into Looking for Lovely together!

    Believe in 2016: April Goals

    This is no joke, y'all. Giving myself permission to take last month off was INCREDIBLE. I felt both relief and re-envisioned for Brave Love Blog at the same time. My first three months of 2016 felt like a marathon, always on the go-go-go, and now the hamster wheel has stopped. This week I got to step off with wobbling knees and catch my breath. It has been beautiful.

    It would also happen that after I announced a break I'd get all the ideas and more ;) Such is life.

    You may recall that at the start of 2016, Rachel and I gave ourselves the first three months to plan and that was it. January, February, and March were all my heart could hold and conceivably set goals for, and as of today the first season has come to a close! What a whirlwind!

    But the decision to take the year in quarters is the best decision I've made in a long time. This next stretch of three months is FAR different from the last, and it makes SO MUCH SENSE that my goals should be reassessed and rearranged as needed.

    Today I am sharing April's goals, and next week I will break down this quarter's goals.

    Making April Happen
    Verse of the month: Lamentations 3:21-25
    "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.' The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him."

    1. Finish grad school! Guys. This is my last month of classes! Graduation isn't technically until May 6, but I finish class on April 30. WHAT. IN. THE. WORLD?! With that in mind, I'm determined to finish strong. This means taking care of homework ahead of time, investing in my department, and cleaning out my office. I'm so close!
    2. See Cinderella in Tulsa (+ more shows if possible). This one will be taken care of tonight. I'm headed to Tulsa to catch the tour of Cinderella with a friend, and I cannot wait! I love, love, love the show so much. It is also one of my goals to see as much theatre as possible each month, so I'm hoping to catch a few more plays elsewhere as well as the National Theatre in London's NTLive broadcasts. Seeing more theatre makes me a better artist, and it totally fires me up.
    3. Participate in the 24 Hour Play Festival. Each spring our department holds a 24 Hour Play Festival. Everyone involved meets at midnight (tonight) to get the theme. Last year it was Twilight Zone. Then the writers have until 7am to write their plays. The directors meet at 7:30am to get their play and cast the actors, then the actors show up at 9:00am to start rehearsal. We will rehearse all day then end with performances that night at 8:00pm. It's going to be crazy day, but I'm so excited to do it this year! I signed up to direct. You'll catch glimpses on Instagram all day tomorrow. Wish me luck (or break a leg)!
    4. The Contentment Challenge + Study. I've tried and failed at this too many times to count, but here we go again. The Contentment Challenge was started by Nancy Ray, and she recently came out with a devotional to go along with it. My challenge spans April, May, and June, and I'll share the details next week. It starts today!
    5. Journal through the April Daily Declarations. On Instagram, I shared about a list of daily declarations that I was given in college. It's a list of Biblical truths partnered with scripture, to the said aloud everyday for 30 days. I plan to illustrate my way through them this month, digging in each morning. You'll see them appear @lovebaileyjean, I'm sure.
    6. Read 5+ books. I'm still working on my 52 Books in 52 Weeks goal for the year, and I am 15 books in! Woohoo! I have two book club selections to read this month, as well as a few fiction options I picked up from the library. I'm actually going to finish Pride & Prejudice on Audible today, and it's 25 hours long so it totally counts. ;)
    7. Disciple my girls well. I have the joy and honor of meeting with a handful of gals each week to walk through our goals and to dig into what the Lord has been teaching us. They challenge me and encourage me every time! I really want to invest well in them, in prayer and in our meeting times, this last month I have at school.
    8. Contribute to my teams. I am on the creative teams for Illustrated Faith, Laura Rahel Designs, and I am going to be contributing to the PowerSheets community site blog soon, so I want to be sure to give time and attention to each one of these commitments. Blogging about them here will be part of the fun, too. You'll see!
    9. Finish the In the Wait study. I was gifted In the Wait by the sweet Holly Holt, and it has spoken right to my soul every time I've picked it up! I put it on pause to co-host a study of Hebrews through Instagram last month, and I'm working through the final three weeks of it with one of my discipleship gals. Goodness, it's glorious! You should check it out ;)

    There you have it friends. April, you're going to be a good one, I can just tell! There are plenty of things to get one, but after a month off I am approaching it with such a healthier mindset and heart. Thanks for hanging in there with all the ups and downs lately. Y'all are the best!

    So what are YOUR goals for the month?
    What do you want to make happen this April?