Mischievous Masterpiece

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Sweet-Cheeks climbs up to the table with her coloring book and opens the bin of markers. Munchie is playing quietly in the living room. Taking advantage of this rare moment, I slide into a chair, flip open my laptop, and pull up my email. I glace over my screen to check on the troops. All clear. I glance back down.

Spam. Spam. Special Etsy order request. As I click on the email, Sweet-Cheeks starts saying, “Egg. Egg. Egg.” I look up and notice she is holding a small Easter egg that she found in the marker bin.

Oh, yes. I remember those eggs. We got them at one of our egg hunts this past Spring and I tossed them in with the markers because they are actually self inking stamps. This kid loves stickers, I bet she will love stamps too!

As she opens the egg, I explain that it is a stamp. I got really excited and started to get up to show her how to use it… when… all of the sudden… she presses to her cheek. I’m sure my eyes about popped out of my head. “Sweetie, we don’t stamp skin… just paper. Watch!” I then demonstrated that pressing the stamp on paper would make an orange bunny appear.

She seemed enthused and stamped her little heart out. With the situation under control, I made my way back to the other side of the table to complete the special order I had received. I did a quick scan of the room every 15 seconds or so.

15 seconds – Good to go, keep working.
30 seconds – Work faster, Munchie is coming and will want to sit on my lap, making it impossible to complete anything.
45 seconds – Munchie must have changed his mind.
60 seconds – Sweet-Cheeks is looking at the floor, but in her seat. Keep working.
62 seconds –  Wait. What is on the floor that is more exciting that coloring or stamping in her coloring book?
63 seconds – I dart to the other side of the table.
64 seconds – I freeze, as I see Sweet-Cheeks with a blue egg stamp in her hand, just staring (very proud of herself) at Munchie’s face, which is about two inches from the blue stamp.
64.5 seconds – Notice a giant blue stamp/smudged chick outline on Munchie’s forehead.
65 seconds – Begin laughing uncontrollably as he happily turns around and stumbles in my direction, having no idea what just happened.
66 seconds – Take a picture… because I am SO going to blog about this.
67 seconds – Send picture to Sweet-Cheeks’ mommy, through the tears that are welling up in my eyes from laughing so hard.
68 seconds – Munchie begins crying (not because of the stamp… but because he wants picked up)
70 seconds – Both children freak out as I chase them around the house with a baby wipe and try to scrub the beautiful Easter artwork off their heads.
135,752 seconds – Finally stop laughing, catch my breath, and transcribe the tale for your reading pleasure.

Sweet-Cheeks was delighted with herself and her beautiful form of artistic expression… and I was appreciative the unexpected humor in my day.

Adventures of Earl… Tooth Numero Seis

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You would think that after your kid gets their first tooth, you would stop getting so damn excited. I mean, most baby books only have a spot for you to fill in a date for the first tooth. Fortunately, I’m not sticking to any rules, regulations, or guidelines about how I should limit my excitement to certain events that an author of some baby book deems important. (Nope, scrapped the baby book when it didn’t have a spot for me to fill in “First time you broke an electronic device with urine.”)

Until last week, Munchie… officially beyond the one year mark… still only had three bottom teeth. (Charlie, Roberto, and the third tooth that I am kicking myself for not blogging about… apparently tooth number three is less exciting.) All three teeth sit in a cute little row on his bottom gum. Freaking adorable.

Well, last week (while we were on vacation and couldn’t sleep), we noticed this front top teeth were incredibly close to popping though. (But they have been pretty close for about a month… maybe more. I am convinced top teeth are just a cruel joke.) We blamed his lack of sleep on these tiny front top teeth trying to wiggle themselves down, cutting through his poor little gums.

Umm… we were wrong. Every morning, I would check his front gums to see if any  of the little buggers had made their debuet… and no. Nothing. But, one morning, Munchie grabbed my hand and plunged my finger further into this mouth. HOLY HOCKEY STICKS! WTF WAS THAT?!?! I stuck my finger back in, but this time, he shoved it to the other side of his mouth. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?!

Two top molars. (Bertha and Gertrude.) Before any top front teeth. Escuchame?!?! (I use this in the same Texan tone as Peggy Hill… like Excuse Me?… even though I know that isn’t what it means.) Seriously though. No wonder he had been so crazy! He was pushing razor sharp, semi-truck sized, teeth through his poor little baby gums. So… then there were five.

But tooth numero seis, Earl (Jo Bob Billy), appeared yesterday. FINALLY. I don’t know what took him so long, but he is certainly the hillbilly cousin that has moved into Munchie’s mouth. We are quite hopeful the other top teeth will show up soon… but until then, Earl is making Munchie’s smile look like something you would only find in the back woods of West Virginia. (Shout out to all our family in the Wild and Wonderful state. Go Mountaineers!)

Maybe Munchie’s relatives will send some moonshine to help get us all through he rest of this process. But, until then… it’s Tylenol, gripe water, teething tabs, and orajel for the little buckaroo… and wine for Momma Bish. Cheers!

Now That I Can Walk… It’s Time To Drive (You Crazy)

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Watch out world! Munchie is officially WALKING!

For months and months, people have looked at me like I’m a psychopath when I would say that I couldn’t wait for Munchie to start walking. They would say things like, “Oh, you don’t want him to walk yet… he will be into everything!” and “Once he walks, you won’t ever get a chance to sit down again!”

Um… okay? First of all… he crawls like a freaking speed demon. Like, seriously… let’s have our babies race. Second, he already stands up, reaches around, and smashes everything he can find, pulls everything out of any cabinet, drawer, shelf that he can reach, etc. Just exactly how will my child’s ability to walk make this worse for me?

And finally… my kid just turned one and weighs a very solid 30 lbs (give or take a pound for giant poos). How much did your kid weigh when they were his age? Any “extra” work I have to do must be far easier than lugging him around in my arms.

Needless to day, despite all the crazy people telling me that walking was full of trouble… I wanted… no, wait… I NEEDED Munchie to walk (or at least my back did).

That brings us to July 11, the day our Munchie Moo took off. He had taken a few steps here and there, but (of course, while Daddy was at the office) he stood up with a giant stuffed Mickey Mouse and just started walking! I was on the couch, trying not to express any shred of excitement, while slowly reaching for my phone. (We all know if a child senses your excitement or sees your grab the camera, they will most certainly turn into a blob of jelly and refuse to ever complete -insert task here- again.) I stealthily hit record and caught a few solid seconds of walking. YIPPIE!

Since that moment, he has not stopped cruising around… unless, of course, we ask him to show someone how he can walk around. (Oh, you want me to perform? No gracias. But, look how awesome I am at crawling around!)

Is a walking baby more stressful than a crawling baby? In our house, there isn’t much of a difference… but when we go somewhere… sitting in a stroller, shopping cart, etc becomes a battle. All this kid wants to do is walk around… but not with shoes on. Oh, no sir/ma’am.

The fact that shoes seem to be his kryptonite may be related to the fact that his shoes are too big. (Grandmas gasp and immediately pick up their phones to call me and offer to buy shoes that fit… well, put your phones down and let me explain.) His shoes are too long… but they fit his chunky little feet height and width wise. Shoes that fit in length, flip flops included, don’t go around his foot. So, our choices become… shoes that are too big… or no shoes at all.

Personally, I hate shoes and have no issue with Munchie walking around barefoot… but shoes do seem to serve a purpose… oh, yes… shoes are a fabulous way to slow Munchie down. (HUZZAH!)

Post Baby Beach Body?

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Okay, so it’s been over a year since my adorable little monster made his debut. Now, we all know that only freaks of nature immediately bounce back to their pre-baby size, dawning their “pre-pregnancy skinny jeans” as they strut out of the maternity ward… but after a full year, we should be able to shimmy back into those pre-baby bikinis, right? Errrt… wrong-o!

While I might be getting close to my pre-baby weight, nothing about my curves even closely resembles my pre-baby body. My hips are permanently wider… and I believe we have discussed how post baby bums are radically different that pre-baby bums (yup… when I went pants shopping)… and I have these amazing “tiger stripes” on my mid section (aka giant stretch marks). So, for me… while I might be able to eventually lose my excess pregnancy weight, my pre-baby swimwear will never see the light of day again. (Womp, womp.)

I absolutely love people watching. Last week, while we were on vacation, we went to Water Country USA. They have a few sections of the park that are specifically designed for little kids… like giant baby pools with a water spewing jungle gym in the middle.

While we were there, I took a look around to see what types of swimwear other moms (with kids about Munchie’s age) were rocking. I saw a ton of moms wearing the same things I wear… a one piece with jogging shorts, or a tankini. (I did see a couple moms with awesomely modest tankinis and I seriously regret not asking where they found them.) It made me feel so much more comfortable in my own skin to know that I wasn’t alone in my desire to keep my well earned stretch marks to myself. (Seriously, I could live in a vat of cocoa butter and they would never go away… but whatever… they are pretty impressive proof that I grew a freaking human inside me!)

 

But, among the well covered moms, you have a few who are rocking bikinis… and look amazing. My conclusion is that these types of moms fit into one of three categories…
1. Those freak of nature moms we were discussing earlier… and it’s alright to give them a dirty look.
2.  Adoptive parents… who are on the same level as the rest of us… no dirty look necessary.
3. Kidnapper… that baby does not belong to that woman. Someone call the police.

I didn’t even have to make those up… we already look at moms this way. Don’t believe me? Join me next time we head out to a water park, pool, beachfront, etc… and watch people’s reaction when my teeny tiny (100 lbs soaking wet) sister carries Munchie around. We will kick back, watching the scowls she gets from other moms, as we sip on some wine and laugh hysterically… which might make us pee a little… because that’s another post-baby body function we just can’t control.

Don’t let your post-baby body keep you from rocking whatever the *bleep* you want this summer. You earned that body.

 

Two in Tow

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I’m so freaking awesome at being a mom that another child has been entrusted in my care! (And yes, these people have read my blogs and know what they are getting themselves, and their child, into.) She is a very intelligent two year old, beyond adorable, and full of energy and excitement. Yesterday, our adventures began… and we headed up to camp. These were my take aways from the day:

1. My double stroller is NOT fit for off road adventures. – Thank goodness Sweet-cheeks (still working on nicknames) can walk and I had someone to help me get Munchie on my back in the Ergo… because that stroller, while amazing, was not built for trekking through gravel, over roots, across fields, and  over all the bumps of camp. Lesson learned.
2. Camp loves babies. – Bring a baby to camp and you will immediately be swarmed by staff members and little girls who want nothing more than to scoop up your tiny human(s) and make them laugh. Camp is kind of like spending the day with hundreds of aunts who just want to spoil your kid(s).
3. Freeze pops are Thebomb.com. (Does that sound lame coming from me because I’m “old?”) – Seriously. I try to avoid juices and added sugars… but on a day when the humidity was high and thermometers were teetering on the brink of 100 degrees… nutrition goes out the window and  cooling down and hydration of any sort take priority.
4. Teaching an independent 2-year-old how to eat a freeze pop is hysterical. – Popsicles can be consumed from just about any angle… but freeze pops have one opening… and you have to push the ice toward that opening as you eat them. Let’s just say, there were chunks of freeze pop all of the ground (that Munchie was beyond thrilled to chase around and smash). Summer goal: Learn to eat a freeze pop.
5. I’ve got this under control… until Munchie starts walking. – I could plop Munchie down on the ground and he would play in the grass, dig in the dirt, and study rocks… while I chased Sweet-cheeks around in the field. That being said, once Munchie starts walking I just hope and pray these kids take off int he same direction. (Yeah… I know… fat chance.)

I’m sure all the parent’s reading this are like, “OMG, I WANT HER TO WATCH MY KID, TOO!”… but guess what… notafrigginchance. You should have asked me sooner… because my awesomeness can only be stretched so far (and two kiddos is my limit). But, if you want to have a playdate, that can probably be arranged (as long as you and your kid(s) aren’t annoying or lame… because we have social standards).

I’m Great, You’re Great, It’s All Great at Juice Plate

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Yesterday, Munchie and I headed downtown to ReStore… in search of new door knobs. (Fun fact, it’s cheaper to buy new door knobs than childproof the current door handles in our home… which are super easy to open… not to mention all of the reviews for the required childproofing mechanisms came with horror stories of moms being locked in bathrooms for countless hours while their child ran around unsupervised, covering the entire house in Hershey’s syrup, peanut butter, and Crisco. No gracias!)

After finally tracking down three identical doorknobs, and then spending another 45 minutes browsing all of their other incredible treasures (if you need random crap for your house, Pinterest projects, etc… check ReStore), we headed out the door. Across the street, my eyes (and rumbling tummy) were met by an intriguing new (but apparently, only to me) establishment… Juice Plate.

I stood on the sidewalk, trying to make sense of the name. Juice Plate? What do they serve? Juice? Food? Does my juice come on a plate? Will I be expected to lap it up? I needed to know more. As we walked through the doors, I noticed it was clean, the staff was friendly, and the menu had everything from “wheat grass to bacon.”

Juices, smoothies, wraps, salads, muffins, cookies (including chocolate chip bacon), and more lined the bright and colorful menu boards. I was entranced by the selection, when I heard a woman to my left exclaim, “He is so cute, I just want to pinch his cheeks!” Some moms would be all like, thanks lady… and give a half crooked smile… but I wheeled Munchie’s stroller over and said, “Go for it!”

This is where I need to interject. Moms… don’t assume everyone in the world is a creeper. Some people just love babies (umm… everyone in my family) and sometimes these people just need a baby fix. Make someone’s day and let them play with your freaking kid! Lord knows, you need a break anyway!

He hopped out of his stroller and onto her lap. She dawned an apron, indicating she worked here. She was friendly and quickly suggested a smoothie he might like. (Super considerate about his diet, allergies, etc.) We got to chatting (babies are great icebreakers) and I learned that she (Pattee) owned the joint!

Nothing amazes me more than the incredible people you can meet if you just engage in conversation. Not only does she own Juice Plate, but the Frederick Gorilla (which I love… because they have real articles about real people… people I actually know in real life… which is amazing) is her magazine!

Pattee was super delightful and expressed her love for our town. She showed a genuine interest in getting to know us better, which is always exciting, and told us we must return 1-2 times per week so they can see Munchie. (Even after he chucked his freaking smoothie all over the floor… which they generously remade. Next time, I’m bringing him a sippy cup. #embarrassing)

Long story short, you need to try Juice Plate (which has apparently been open since September… but I was living in my own little world and never got much further downtown than the library… which is a lie… we have eaten quite a few pretzels at Pretzel & Pizza Creations… but still… we haven’t ventured this far… but now we will… 1-2 times per week. Don’t tell Daddy.)

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I got the “Incredible Hug,” a fabulous green smoothie… and you can’t even taste the kale. Talk about knock you on your tush amazing!

Munchie got a custom smoothie… strawberry, banana, orange… it was rockin’ and he LOVED it!

 

Your Face is Going to Freeze That Way

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You know how some dogs are so ugly that they are actually kind of adorable? I’m talking about the ones with the horribly squished up faces that look like they were a normal dog, but ran into a wall and squished their nose all up into their face… the fugly ones. At some point, a level of ugly flips on a neurological response to trigger admiration signals in the brain… which results in humans muttering words such as, “Aww, look how cute!!!” (This is a scientific fact, discovered by myself… self proclaimed neuroscientist. My credentials include two community college science courses… 7am Chemistry, where I scraped by with a very hungover C-… and some science course about rocks… that I took twice… same reason. So, like I said… pretty much qualified to be a brain doctor.)

Well, this is the same response we have to Munchie’s new (and extremely exaggerated) facial expression. He looks straight ahead, opens his mouth as wide as he can, which makes  his chubby cheeks squish up into his eyes. Then he squints, so his eyes become tiny slits in his face, barely visible over his chipmunk cheeks. He looks like an excited sumo wrestler. (Actually, we call it his horrible Asian face.)

The worst part of this expression, is once you see it… you have no idea what is coming next… because he uses it for just about every emotion. Happy? You are going to get a high pitched scream. Sad? He is going to yell and start crying. Angry? He will unleash the battle cry and throw this arms down, yelling small short bursts of babbling… which sounds like his version of baby swearing.

While absolutely horrible, this facial expression melts my heart. He is so overly dramatic (gee, I wonder where he gets that from) and hysterical looking, that you can’t help but melt a little… and laugh a lot. Daddy keeps saying, “We need to make his stop doing that,” which just cracks me up even further. I mean, what are you going to do? Tell him his face is going to stick like that? Good luck, buddy!

The only ounce of reassurance I have in this whole horrible Asian face matter, is that every kid has one. Every kid has that one expression that is so ridiculous, it almost becomes their signature look. So, if your child is making hideous faces… just embrace it… and remember… they are probably just mimicking you.

 

Mommy and Daddy Haven’t Slept in Days… Because Sleep Cycles Are a Cruel Joke and the Work of the Devil, Himself

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I am throwing my hands in the air and calling BS on this whole godforsaken sleep cycle routine nonsense. Flip my tiddlywink pancakes and call me a hoggobblin, because I’m ferocious, sleep deprived, and spent the better portion of my night being kicked in the face by a tiny ninja in our bed.

“Leave him in his crib, don’t put him in your bed,” some will cry out. To these people, I say… let me move his crib into YOUR home, so YOU can listen to him scream bloody murder while you try to sleep. No freaking thank you. I would rather catch a couple minutes of sleep between kidney shots and headbutts to my rib cage than risk certain deafness and bleeding eardrums from the piercing screams of my offspring. (And earplugs don’t block the decibels he is able to achieve, albeit from that tiny body of his.)

We can sit here and blame ourselves for throwing his routine out of whack, though he has always been quite amazing at adapting to new people, places, activities, and schedules. We aren’t a family that typically plans events around naps… so Munchie has learned to be flexible and catch naps on the fly, if he needs one (in a car seat, stroller, shopping cart, couch, restaurant booth, shoulder, etc), and not let it interrupt his nighttime sleep. So, really, there is no need to beat ourselves up about his sudden desire to party all night.

I have been blaming everything on the three teeth that seem to be taunting us, slowly creeping toward the surface for what seems like months (but has quite literally been weeks)… but he isn’t awake out of pain. If he were in pain, he would be crying… or biting things… but he isn’t. What we are seeing is Munchie get into our bed and proceed to do ninja flips, as if he is training to fight an entire arena of zombies, single-handedly… or perhaps for some sort of intricate Cirque du Soleil routine.

Ultimately, I sit here, searching for solutions. I am sure there is some scientific reason (which I refuse to Google, because I’m certain the Google gnomes will tell me my child has some rare disease called antisleepacrobaticninjaitis… or worse… that it’s just a phase we will have to wait out).

While I am almost certain Munchie’s 1-3 hour middle of the night raves are what the medical community (and those creepy pediatric sleep study people… who just watch babies sleep) would deem to be, “a change in his sleep cycle,” and something we will have to, “give some time to work itself out,” I would be more responsive to a diagnosis that I could do something about.

I mean, this has to be the work of the Devil himself… and something that can be solved with a simple exorcism… right? Everyone start praying… I’m going to bust through the doors of a local Catholic church and fill up my BPA-free water bottle (because we don’t need carcinogens interfering with this mess) with some holy water… I’m gonna need someone to print out a script for this… maybe Google can help you out with that?

Oh… hold on… wait a minute… Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Austen just walked through the door with a sleeping Munchie. (Maybe they are some sort of baby whisperers and can get him to sleep through the night, too!) Great… nap time. And Daddy is napping. And… I could have been napping… but instead, I typed this for you. You owe me. (And I think a valid form of payment would be buying my book… when I finally get a chance to write it.)

Munchie’s New Mohawk… The Story of a First Haircut

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We were a bit apprehensive about the woman wielding a pair of shears, making her way toward the red fire engine chair that Munchie was driving to his first haircut. Frozen was playing on multiple screens, a table of toy trains sat behind him, and brightly colored furniture was placed in an inviting fashion. Other tiny customers were excited about the new fashionable hair styles they were rocking (or would soon be rocking, one small guest convinced his short hair was about to become long and curly… Sorry buddy… These stylists are skilled, but this ain’t “Hairy” freaking Potter) and frolicked about the establishment.
Munchie, not knowing what to expect, looked to a less than certain Mommy and Daddy. Additional audience members include Gram, Aunt Lizzie, and Uncle Austen. Thankfully, the rest of our audience reassured our Munchie, as he was meet with exaggerated smiles, clapping, and cheers.

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Miss Christine started carefully (and patiently) snipping away curls, gently placing them on the counter for our commemorative keepsake bag (complete with photo and a memory card to document the milestone). I held my breath during the first snip, but then chilled and started cheering… And feeding Munchie animal crackers to distract him. Daddy, on the other hand, mustered up a reassuring smile… But I’m pretty sure it was a smooth disguise for the panic attack he was having.
An overwhelming number of pictures were taken, by what can only be described as a paparazzi mob, to document the experience.
A pile of hair collected in the back of the tiny red fire engine, a glob of grape scented hair goop was rubbed through Munchie’s freshly cut hair, and an adorable Mohawk started to form upon the top of his head.
The haircut was a success, everyone survived, and now that everything is evened up, we are going to start growing Munchie’s mane or to see what kind of curls and chaos emerge. Will he have long locks, a curly blonde fro, or a short spikes? While I don’t know what the future holds for our little rockstar’s hair… I know he will always be handsome in my eyes.

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A Week Without My Munchie

Reunited!

That’s right folks, last week I packed my bags and rolled out for a full SEVEN days. (Yes, concerned readers, I was traveling… and did not simply fall off the face of the planet… though I do appreciate the large number of panicked emails I was greeted by, upon my return home.)

I have been away from my boys (Patrick, an entire summer… when I opted to pack my bags and move into the woods, to work at camp for three months, just seven hours after returning home from our honeymoon… and Munchie the occasional weekend and when I was in the hospital in October… but never for this amount of time), but this time was different… because I was a couple states away and they couldn’t just pop in for a visit.

All of this being said… while I didn’t have MY boys… I did have 40 teenagers from our church to chase around, confiscate cell phones from, lecture about how “I don’t care if you don’t want to eat spaghetti… you are going to… because that’s what is for dinner… and you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit… so eat it.” In addition to bringing down the hammer, I did get an incredible chance to bond and build relationships with these kids, have deep and meaningful conversations, and share countless hysterical moments.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, we loaded up our vans and made the loooooong drive to Louisville, Kentucky. If you want to try and tell me driving from (near) DC to Louisville isn’t that looooong of a drive… well… then apparently, you have never made such a trip with 40 teenagers and six adults. (Shockingly, ALL off us made it home alive… but only by the grace of God.)

We went to M(ission)-Fuge… which is a camp I grew up attending. This was my ninth year of being transplanted in an unfamiliar city, and setting out to serve the community. Our students learned four valuable lessons this week.

1. BE His (Be the person God designed you to be… you have a purpose… so live that purpose, making use of your abilities and unique skills.)
2. BE Last (J.O.Y… Jesus first. Others second. Yourself last. Serve with a joyful heart.)
3. BE Real (We tend to put on this costume of a happy and perfect version of ourselves… especial when it comes to social media. Don’t glamorize your life like this. Instead of wearing a costume, put on a uniform. People in costumes are pretending, people in uniforms are living a truth.)
4. BE Bold (Doing the right thing is rarely the easiest path to choose, but suck it up and DO IT. You have countless opportunities to build relationships, share your story, and help others… so stop worrying about what the rest of the world will say and just step up and be bold.)

Let me tell you, the lessons we learned, the stories we heard, and the verses we read didn’t just speak to the kids we were with. Yes, leaving my boys for a week was a struggle… but I know I was where God needed me to be… and for that I am thankful.

I had a fabulous week, but I am SUPER happy to be home.

Now stop isolating! Turn off your computer/phone/iPod/tablet/whatever… put it in my backpack (because that’s where confiscated devices live) and go interact with the world.

 

The Twists, turns, and true tales of a mom and her pint sized human

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