Monthly Archives: June 2010

Am I the Only One?

I’m starting a new event.  It’s out of laziness really because I am in the mood to write tonight but have nothing intriguing, compelling or even interesting to write about.  So, starting today and maybe ending today, each Tuesday will be, “Am I the Only One? Tuesday“.

If I was at all creative or computer savvy I’d create a cute little button so that you could join me.  But for now… enjoy my post on my recent observations that have left me shaking my head.

Am I the only one… with a five year old child who:

– Watches the “commercials” during Nick Jr programming intended for parents?  She told me that yesterday she learned after Maggie and the Ferocious Beast that parents are “often anxious before their children start Kindergarten because it’s a big responsibility to send them off to school.  It’s normal mommy to feel this way”, she consoled me.

– Demands I apologize after scolding her?  She stomped down the stairs yesterday after a time out, her hands on her hips, her face inches from mine and said, “Do you have anything to say to me?”

“Um, no?”

“An apology maybe?”

“I don’t have anything to apologize for Hannah.”

“Oh yes you do!  Now, let me hear it and make sure it’s from the bottom of your heart!”

– Has a make believe language that she uses only with the family.  Where no one can understand what she’s trying to say.  It was cute at first.  But quickly became annoying.  Especially since Luke, who is struggling to speak, is repeating all of her pretend words and looking confused as to why she’s calling him “Sam”.

– Doesn’t seem to be the least bit saddened by the thought of people or animals dying, but cries elephant tears when the weeds she picked from our yard are wilted and brown the day after she carefully placed them in a vase?  Wondering “why on earth” they don’t live longer than a day.

– Is the worst backseat driver on the east coast (or the world)?  She shouts at me to hold the steering wheel with two hands.  She yells, “Go!” when a light turns green. She comments if I don’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign.  She notifies me if I am coming close to the yellow lines in the road. And god forbid, if I glance at my phone, “NOT SAFE!” rings through my head from the back seat.

– Can work the Tivo, DVD, stereo, and answering machine and can buy apps on my iPhone on her own, YET, refuses to wipe her tush, brush her teeth, or get in her pajamas by herself?

– Requests medication by name (Benedryl, Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec, Zoponex, Pulmocort, steroid cream, etc.) but still calls the remote control the “morote”, thinks her swim class at camp is “constructional” swim and thinks things that are HUGE are “hermendous”?

– Thinks she’ll get struck by lightning if she’s drinking water?

– Wants me to explain length of time by Wow Wow Wubbzy episodes?

– Requested I give her “an example of an example”?

– Overheard me complaining about my ugly feet and told me it’s what’s on the inside that counts?

– After she shouts something tells me that if she “had written that, it would have been in all Upper Case letters.”?

– Tells me she can’t fall asleep at night because she has too much going on in her head?

– Thinks the bus is the best part of the day at camp?

Really?  Is it just me?

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!!! – captured moments

So often it’s hard to capture the moments.  To remember to note the moments that make me smile.  So many days come to an end and I’m exhausted, dragging myself to bed and it’s the stressful parts, the overwhelming parts that are in my head as I drift off to sleep.  But it’s the happy, heartwarming, uplifting moments that keep me going.  Make me get out of bed each morning to do it again.  As Momalom and Bad Mommy Moments have pegged them… the !!! moments in our days.

Finally I’ve captured some.  To remember.  And to share.

Early morning hugs. She grabbed him.  He let her.  I handed her my !!! (Thanks Sarah!) and it will now be remembered.  And when she’s shoving him away from her project or he’s yanking out a handful of her hair, I will know, these happy moments DO exist.

Hannah received this medal (along with everyone else in her gymnastics program at school) but she placed it around my neck that night for being The Best Mommy.  I refuse to remove it.  Because dammit, I deserve it.

I didn’t have a chance to grab my !!! but this moment should be noted.  Luke is afraid of going anywhere near our pool.  But he was hot. And his water table would just have to do.  One way or another, he was getting in there.

His and her drinks on date night.  Enough said.

A full moon.  A husband willing to take a picture as I held my !!! card in front of the beautiful glowing circle in the sky. A perfect summer night.

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Fitting In

“There are three things Mommy that make me feel a little sad. The first one I may have told you before. The second you may think I’m a little crazy for saying. And the third, you’ll DEFINITELY think I’m crazy for. But don’t say anything until I’m done telling you all three. Okay?”

Hannah said all of this to me on Tuesday in the car as we left my parent’s house.

My first reaction to this was, “Do I really make her feel crazy for saying things? Ever?” Apparently, I do.

“Okay Hannah. I won’t say a word until you’re all done.”

“Number one.” she started, “On Fridays at school when everyone else is eating the pizza, I feel left out that I’m not. It’s just that I don’t like the pizza so I don’t want to eat it. But it makes me sad that I am different.”

I was about to immediately make her feel better for this one but remembered my promise. And kept my mouth shut.

“Number two.” she continued, “And remember, you’re going to think I’m a little crazy for saying this…I am one of the only, I can’t think of any other, there really isn’t anyone else, EVERYONE else in my class, I think, has their finger nails painted except me. And I really don’t understand what you think is so bad about it. And I feel sad about that.”

I bit my tongue.

“And number three. You definitely are going to think I’m NUTS for this one, the ears pierced thing.” We’d talked about this before.

“Okay mommy, Go.”

I took a deep breath realizing that this was going to be the most adult conversation I had had with her yet. I wished I wasn’t driving so that I could sit facing her. Her hand in mine. Looking her in the eyes. The few glances in the rearview mirror was going to make it harder for both of us. But it was important to have this discussion, in the moment.

“Well, let’s talk about the pizza first. Friday is your last pizza day. Your last day that you’ll have to feel sad that everyone else is eating pizza and you’re not. Ever. So there’s no reason to even think about it anymore, ok?”

She smiled with that realization and nodded, happily moving on.

“Now let’s talk about the fingernail painting.” she prompted.

To give a little background on this, it’s true, I have not let Hannah have her fingernails painted. I think it makes little girls look too grown up. It pushes them right out of being a little girl and into “tweenhood”. I’ve felt pretty VERY strongly about this, and have told her that when she’s eight, she can get her fingernails painted.  I DO paint her toenails frequently but will not allow her to have them done at the nail salon.  I have witnessed countless little girls sitting in the massage chairs next to me as I get my feet rubbed and moisturized and my toes painted and I always shake my head to myself that it’s just too much.  Too much, too soon.

But I have been thinking a lot about it recently as I notice that EVERY four and five year old in her class has bright sparkling pink fingernails.  Some with little butterflies painted on the corners, some with different colors on each finger.  And they always run to me to show me their new pedicure and Hannah hears me say to them, “Oh how beautiful they are!”

How is THAT fair?  How is it right that I praise her friend’s nails as looking so lovely when I won’t let her have it done herself?

I’ve been trying to understand what it is that makes me turn it into such a big deal.  Are pink fingernails really a symbol of growing up?  Or is it more just another way of enjoying “girlhood”.  An easy way to feel special in a world of so much competition, even at such a young age.  I’ve tossed this around in my head recently.  Interesting that Hannah brought it up when it had been on my mind as well.

“Why don’t you tell me WHY you want your fingernails painted Hannah.”

“Well, because I think it’s pretty.”

I held my breath, HOPING she’d stop there.

“And because I want to fit in.”

My shoulders drooped a little as she uttered the second part of her thought. I had hoped fitting in wasn’t a part of her sadness.

“Hannah, I understand completely if love how it looks. It IS pretty.  It’s fun to feel and look fancy.  I would love to help you feel this way.  For YOU.  But I don’t want you to be concerned with Fitting In because of how you Look.  You’ll always fit in because of who you Are.  And how you Act.  But if you’re concerned with Fitting In because of how you look or what you do… that’s not good.  And this is going to come up over and over as you get older.  And speaking of getting older, there are some things that I think make girls look older than they are and to me, that’s silly.  There will be plenty of time to look older.  You should enjoy looking YOUR age for now.”

Not surprisingly, I could tell she wasn’t really getting it.

I quickly gave her an example of doing something just to fit in by asking her what if all of her friends started using bad words at school and she felt left out for not using them.  I asked her if she’d start using these words just to Fit In? She emphatically shook her head no.  That she wouldn’t do something BAD just to fit in, but stated that having painted fingernails isn’t BAD.

She was right on that.  But she got my point too.  I think.

I went on to talk more about the “Looking older than you are” issue I have.

“Tell me something that makes a lady look old to you.” I asked her.

“Gray hair.”

“Ok, let’s pretend you came home from school one day and saw me with my hair dyed gray.  What would you say?”

“I’d say, ‘why did you do that mommy? you look like an old lady!'”

I smiled.  This was going to work.  “And what if I said, ‘Well, all of my mommy friends dyed their hair gray so I wanted to fit in with them!’.  What would you think?”

“Hmmmm…. I guess I’d just think it was weird to want to look like an old lady.”

“Exactly.  And that’s how I feel looking at girls with bright red fingernails.  I wonder why they want to look so much older.”

“Oh.” she said understanding, but still looking sad.

I felt bad.  She was five.  Wanting to feel like a big girl.  Wanting to feel special and fancy.

“Hannah, what if we compromised?  What if we find a color for your nails that I won’t think makes you look to old but you think is fun?  Would that make you happy?”

A look of elation brightened her face.  “YES!”  She paused.  “As long as it doesn’t look like the same color as my fingernails are now.”

“Deal.” I said, and reached my arm back to shake her hand.  She grabbed it and kissed it.

“Thank you.” she whispered to the back of my head.

I won’t bore you with the pierced ears conversation.  I’ll just let you know that I think I convinced her a) that I don’t ever think she’s nuts and b) there’s no way in hell she’s getting her ears pierced before she’s 12.

I went to bed that night wondering if I swayed too easily.  Thinking about how many other things in her life I’ll cave on because she looks so sad.  Curious how often this conversation about Fitting In will arise.

But I also went to bed satisfied. Feeling like I did get through to her. That I did ok with this hurdle. That it is possible to find a happy medium.  And that she now trusts me.  That I’ll listen. That I’m there.  And that I’m reasonable.

Her nails were painted this morning. Three different shades of pink in a pattern on her fingers.  One shade name is “Hard to Get”.  Luckily the conversation about what THAT means didn’t have to happen.  She was too giddy from her nails to remember to ask.

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Three Days

Hannah has three days left at her school.  The place where she has spent minimally three days a week and at most five for the past five years.  Here she learned to walk, talk, read, make friends, be a friend, make a bed, lend a hand, put on a jacket, climb monkey bars, pour milk and draw a face.

Sadly, it was also where she first experienced the pain of a broken leg, and the pain of a broken friendship.  Overcame a speech problem.  Was told her feet smelled.  Told her first lie. Had her feelings hurt. Felt different for being Jewish.  Dealt with severe separation anxiety.

Three days.

Three days to wrap up the end of the beginning of her little life.  To soak in the moments with these first friends.  First hallways. First playgrounds.  Three days to give hugs to kids and teachers that have given her so much of who she is. Friends and teachers that she may not see again but who mean the world to her today.

And I only have three days. Three days with a preschooler. Three days before I have a Kindergartner. Gradeschooler. Middleschooler. Highschooler. Three days of feeling this level of comfort with a school and its philosophy. With the loving arms and minds of teachers. Three days feeling comfortable enough to cry to the director of the school feeling so lost with the phases and stages of my daughter.  Three days to hang around the classroom and playground as long as I want, as if I belong.  Three days not feeling like a helicopter mom or feeling like my daughter is crazy as she cries holding onto my leg not wanting me to leave. Three days feeling secure with the fact that Hannah still goes to school with her elephant and falls asleep at nap time sucking her thumb.

I’m not ready for these three days to end. I’m overflowing with emotion. Reeling from sadness.  Filled with wonder.

Why do I want to hold on so badly.  What is it that makes me want to stop her right HERE?  Push Pause. Stay put.  I complain daily that this stage is so HARD. He little words can be so vicious. And she’s certainly not sad to be moving on.  Why would I want to stay here?

Because these days are in many more ways sweet.  Are easy in comparison to what I’m sure is coming.  Because she looks to me for the answers. She only wants me to help. There’s no bus or bigger kids in older grades to teach her what I’m not ready for her to know.  Because she still wants to hold onto my leg and grab my hand when she’s nervous. She still tells me what’s in her head. What scares her. Why she’s sad.

And I don’t want only three more days of This. I’m not ready to let go of any of her.

I just hope the First Three Days of her next stage are not even harder than these Last Three.

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Wake up call of the day

I rushed into the store. On a mission.  Father’s Day. Gift for Tim and gift for my dad.  I worked my way through the crowded, bustling store not wanting to waste any time.  I had a mile long to-do list in my head and having recently bought Tim AND my dad birthday gifts, buying another gift just seemed like another thing to check off my list.

I swiped a conservative shirt for my dad from one table.  A funky Tee shirt and possibly too cool jeans for Tim from another.  I hurried toward the counter to pay, ticking off the other things in my head that I wanted to accomplish on my day sans kids.

And then a roadblock appeared ahead of me.

A couple, about 85 or so years old, shuffled along in front of me. Holding hands. She was carrying 3 or 4 items under one arm leaving the other free to grasp her husband’s.  He was hunched over as he walked, supporting himself partly with his wife’s stronger hand and the cane in his other.  I walked directly behind them.  Feeling the adoration radiating off of them. They arrived at the counter to pay and I overheard the man say to his wife, “So show me what you picked out for me darling.”

One by one she held up two Polo shirts and a pair of Polo shorts with a draw string.  He gave the shirts a decisive Thumb’s Up.  He looked curiously at the shorts as she held them for him to see and said, “Now would those be pajama shorts or walking-around-during-the-day shorts?”

“Do you sleep in shorts?”

“Not last time I checked.  But maybe you think I should?”

“No, there’s no reason for you to change what you sleep in at this point!”

“At this point?” he asked.  “That doesn’t sound good.”

He took her hand.  Caressed it as it lay on the counter. Her engagement ring and wedding band sparkled between his elderly fingers.

She smiled at him.  A “You know what I meant” smile with a little roll of the eyes.

He agreed to her choice of shorts, although he thought they looked like pajamas, and the cashier told her the total of $118.01.  She handed him the cash and she and her dear husband both dug in their pockets for the $.01. The salesperson told him that the penny wasn’t necessary but he and his wife vehemently agreed that they were not leaving without giving him the penny they owed.

They laughed at each other as they raced to see who could find the coin first that to most of us is worthless. Finally his fingers found the prize in his back pocket and flipped it onto the counter.  “I WIN!” he shouted.

I laughed and gave a little applause behind them.

He turned and winked at me.  Still laughing at the fun he had just shared with his wife. That he still was able to have, even “at this point”.

He led her away from the counter, hand in the small of her back and again I overheard his words.

“I have figured out why everyone is always looking at me.”

“Why’s that?” she asked.

“Because I’m with you.”

She stopped.  And looked at him.

“Really.” he said.  “Look at you. You’re beautiful.”

She blushed and put her arm on his shoulder.  She said, “I’m sorry your Father’s Day gift won’t be a surprise.” And then disappeared from my view.

How lucky was this couple to still have one another. To Have and to Hold. To still laugh with one another. Still SEE each other and how beautiful they still were. Even with the hearing aids. The trouble walking. The questionable taste in shorts.

I looked down at what I had chosen for the Fathers in MY life. And realized they deserved more. More thought. For all they do for me. The one who cheered me on when I was little and always told me I was beautiful, and the one who I hope will still look at me in 50 years and tell me how beautiful I still am. Even at “That Point”.

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Too much Truth?

I got home from the doctor yesterday with Luke and was greeted at the front door by my sweet girl.  She was busy playing with her grandparents but she dropped everything to hear everything.  She had a litany of questions waiting for me as I stepped through the front door, Luke curled onto my shoulder.

“What did the doctor do? Did he put a stick down his throat? Did he take a blood pleasure? Did he listen to his cough? Did he take his temperature in his ear?  What was his temperature? Did Luke cry?  Did he get a shot? Did he get a finger prick? Did he get a sticker? Did you get ME a sticker?  Does he have to take medicine? Can I taste his medicine?”

Unfortunately for her, I was totally shaken by the doctor’s visit.  Having expected a simple chest, throat and ear check, I was smacked with having to pin my little guy down to the table as the doctor took three vials of blood and then watching as they strapped a baggy over his little Pee Pee in the hopes of gathering some urine to test for an infection.

Apparently, a high fever with NO other symptoms is NOT a good thing.

Luke cried until he was gasping for air.  Grabbing for me.  Pleading with me with his big eyes for my arms to sweep him up from the table.  I caressed his belly.  Rubbed his head.  Assured him it was almost over.  But I was breaking inside.

Hannah could see I was hurting.  She took my hand and led me into the family room and said, “Mommy, tell me, what happened?”

And although I was stressed out, not in the mood to talk, I didn’t hesitate.  I told her. I told her that Luke screamed for 20 minutes as they wrapped a tourniquet around his tiny arm, stuck a needle in and drew blood.  That he had a bag attached to his “pee pee” so that we could collect some pee for the doctor to look at.  That I was sad.  That I had a hard time seeing my children hurt.

Some think I’m too honest with her. That she doesn’t need to know all of my thoughts. That she’s too young to comprehend adult emotions.  That I might make her fearful of things she shouldn’t be worrying about.  But I choose to tell her. Right or wrong, it’s my choice.

I also tell her that if she doesn’t hold my hand in the parking lot, she could get hit by a car and get killed.

I tell her that there are bad people who steal things. Who take kids.

I let her watch Annie and explained what orphans are.

I tell her that it’s not just old people who die.

I tell her that I’ve had friends even as a “big person” who aren’t nice to me.  Who have hurt my feelings. Some of my friends aren’t actually my friends anymore.

I have told her that spiders creep me out. I don’t like raw cauliflower. I used to be afraid of going blind.

All of these things I’ve told her.  Things that may instill fears or dislikes in her but things that let her KNOW me.  Feel comfortable with me. Know that I’m a person who has been hurt, has fears and emotions.  That there are scary things in the world.  That she SHOULD be scared sometimes. That there are things I’M scared of too.

Right or wrong. This is something I’ve chosen to do.  And yes, now she is afraid of bees. Jumps at lightning.  Asks millions of questions about sickness and dying.  Wonders if a child she doesn’t see with parents is an orphan. But I’m ok with that. Because I can be there for her to calm her fears, to try to answer her questions.  But I may not be able to be there for her when she’s thirteen and is hit with reality.  Reality that I never clued her into.  It’s a fine line, I know. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve crossed it but usually, I trust my instincts.

On the other hand, there are some areas I’ve more carefully tippy toed around. I am NOT the mom who uses all of the anatomically correct terms for body parts.  Hannah still has a Pee Pee that the peepee comes out of.  Her brother also has a Pee Pee of a different shape.  Mommy has boobies. A baby grows in a mommy’s Belly (not her uterus as someone I know told her three year old).  Babies are removed from their mommy’s bellies, they do not come out of their Pee Pee (which in this mama’s case, is true).  I also know of someone who told her 5 year old how babies are made.  Not me.  I told Hannah that I have NO IDEA how the baby starts growing in there… it just starts as a tiny seed sometime in your 20’s or 30’s and your doctor tells you when it happens.  And then I change the subject.  Fast.

It’s getting harder.  Answering the questions.  Helping her with her curiosities.  I find myself struggling at times.  Why we chose our house when the one next door is so much bigger.  Why some people have beach houses and we don’t. Why some people are pudgy and others are so skinny (“People come in all shapes and sizes” doesn’t seem to cut it with her).  How come some kids look like their daddy when the mommy is the one with the baby in her belly?  Why do all of her favorite cartoons have Christmas specials but not Chanukah specials? Why was Boxing even invented if hitting is so awful?  Why do I only drive with one hand sometimes if I KNOW it’s safer with two?

My attempts to blow off or not know the answers doesn’t work with this girl.  “But you still haven’t told me WHY mommy!” or “But why do you THINK mommy?” is usually what comes back at me.  Which is why so often, I go with the truth.  Hannah still gives me a hard time about lying when she was two about the stork delivering the baby to a mommy’s doorstep.  I realized when she was four years old  and talking about the stork at preschool that this story was leaking out so I fessed up and told her the “seed” story.  I’m sure I’ll be fessing up on that one soon too…

I hope I haven’t caused any true damage to Hannah. I hope she appreciates the honesty where I use it. And that she won’t hold my little fibs against me for too long…

Where do you draw the line in honesty with your little kids?

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When she Grows Up

Luke is sick again.  My day that I had planned on having as My Day became a day caring for a feverish, clingy, cuddly little boy.  My plans for brainstorming a truly creative post for today’s Creative Boot Camp flew out the window as soon as his school called to tell me to come pick him up.

So, I asked Hannah to help me out.  The prompt for today was “Grow”. And what better way to talk about Grow than Growing Up and asking the five year old in the house?  The quotes below are truly quotes.  No editing.

Hannah, I’d like if you could help me out with a little project tonight for my blog.  Would you like that?

H: Will it be hard?

No.  Not at all.  I’ll ask you questions and you’ll just answer them, k?

H: Are there right answers?

Nope, no right or wrong answers.

H: Ok, mommy. But I’m sleepy so don’t ask me too many questions.

Hannah, What do you hope to look like when you grow up?

H: I’m hoping my hair will turn to blonde and my skin maybe will turn a little lighter.

Why lighter and blonder?

H: Because that’s my favorite kind of head.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

H: An artist.

What kind of artist?

H: An artist that knows how to draw everything. I mean I’m already really great at drawing and I already AM an artist but I want to be the kind of artist that is really good at EVERYTHING.

What do you dream of drawing?

H: A zoo perfectly. A tiger and an elephant especially.

Who would you most like to marry?

H: A person that looks exactly like daddy. And is exactly like daddy.

What’s daddy like?

H: Funny. Cute. Goes out to dinner.

Do you want to be a mommy when you grow up?

H: Of course I will.

What’s the best part of being a mommy?

H: Making up all of the rules by yourself.

What’s the hardest part of being a mommy?

H: When my child won’t listen to me.

What’s the worst part of being a mommy?

H: Getting a ticket on my car.

Do you think you’ll ever cry when you grow up?

H: Maybe.

When?

H: When something bad happens to me.  When I’m scared my kids will have a hard time in kindergarten or any school.

When you look at mommy all grown up… what do you think is the best part of being grown up?

H: Being able to drive.

Where would you like ot drive to?

H: Nanny and Grampy’s beach house.

What seems to be the worst part of being grown up.

H: Getting tickets.

Oh and another best part would be going to the circus and my kids are really happy.

What do you want your house to be like when you grow up?

H: Big. White. Red shutters. Clean.

What do you think Luke will be when he grows up?

H: Oh of course, a question about Luke.  A daddy.  A toy maker.

Where do you think you’ll live when you grow up?

H: New Jersey.

NEW JERSEY?  Why??

H: Oh, I’m just kidding.  Stamford… I want to live close to you.

What grade are you most excited to be in?

H: 12th grade.  It sounds exciting and I’d feel proud of myself that I almost finished all of my grades and that I learned so much and I’m proud of myself that I did all of my work and it was fun for me.

Will you play sports when you grow up?

H: When I’m a big big big kid I’ll play soccer, t-ball and gymnastics.

I wish I could be in the Olympics.

If you could be on any TV show what would it be?

H: ET of course.

How about a TV show?

H: A real person show or a cartoon show or a pretend show with real people?

Any of them.

H: Project Runway.

Why?

H: Because I think it would be fun to make clothes. I’d make a beautiful dress that is pink and red.  Bright pink.  And I want to see Michael Kors, Tim and Heidi.

Do you want to have kids when you grow up?

H: Yeeeessss.

How many?

H: Three

Two girls and one boy. Boy youngest and then two girls older.

And there names are Isabella and Gabriella who are twins and have a bunk bed and Jason.

Anything else you’d like to tell me about when you grow up?

H: I’d love to go to another country and see the Eiffel Tower.

Where do you think Ellie (your stuffed elephant) will be when you grow up?

H: Really old and probably somewhere in my house.  Either in a box somewhere or I’ll put her somewhere special.

H: Are we done because this is getting exhausting.  And it’s hard for my brain.

Yes Hannah, we’re done.  Thank you for helping me.

H: You’re welcome for doing all of your work for you.

I hope to hold onto this and read it to her when she is all grown up.  And an artist. And married to someone as wonderful as her daddy. If she has time to listen to it between all of the tickets she’ll apparently be getting and her three kids she’ll be caring for.  At least she’ll have a clean house… one step ahead of me already.

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