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Archive for August, 2006

I’m drinking a cup of coffee. Something I said I would not do again because it makes me hate my son. Well, I think I can work around that. If I don’t drink this coffee, I won’t get off the couch today. I am highly unmotivated to clean and that is exactly what I need to do, my house is a disaster area. I’m sipping a very small amount, just enough to get the caffeine high that I need to move. Then, I’ll guzzle a gallon of water and drink a cup of Oat Straw Tea, which is what will save my son from being growled at again and possibly eaten.

Oh, I should probably confess here that my growling at Max the other day wasn’t a normal, I’m standing here and he’s over there, growl. No, that would be acceptable and wouldn’t induce guilt in the least. My growl was the, in your face – my nose just about touching your nose, kind of growl. Now you see why he was so freaked out?

It seems both Hal and I are at least the same species. This morning Max was looking at one of his coloring books that have a picture of a monkey wearing horned rimmed glasses. He was really trying to say, monkeeeee, but no matter how loudly I emphasized the “K” sound all that kept coming out was, moMieeeee. I’m a monkey and Hal is a sloth. At least we both like climbing and hanging out in trees. It’s important to have some similar interests with your spouse.

So, I guess that makes Max a Slonkey.

Random Thought:

I really miss being able to take a shit alone. And reading on the can is now a fantasy of mine. Now, when I won’t pick Max up as I’m doing my thang he simply pulls his potty in front of me and climbs on my lap. Keeping him at bay when I have to clean myself is not easy. He cries, yells, “nononono”, and relentlessly slaps at me. I never feel clean enough anymore unless I take a shower right after. Yeah, it’s a hard life I live.

Num-Num News:

As of four days ago I pretty much had Max weaned from the boob juice at night. I would nurse him to sleep and he could – for the most part – make it until morning. He’d wake up, still, but accepted that his beloved num-nums went nite-nite and he couldn’t visit them until morning. Well, the little boob monster got sick four days ago. Nothing major, thank the stars, but never-the-less he had a little cold. I ended up nursing him when he woke up because I could hear him coughing and he sounded miserable. Now, he’s feeling much better and I’m back to square one. Last night was pretty painful because he cried his little eyes out for at least half an hour – which is longer than he ever did the first time around. My only consolation is that with each night it does get easier. And, at least he is in bed with me so when he finally accepts that num-nums went nite-nite, he can flop his weak from crying body on top of mine and snuggle in real close. He managed, after the first time he woke up (around 11pm), to fall back to sleep until 6:30 this morning. Only a few more nights to go and we’ll be back to where we were when he got sick.

When he gets sick again I’m gonna have to keep my No Nursing In The Middle Of The Night Policy. I think it is much worse to go back and forth with it than to keep firm and not nurse. I just have to remember (because it won’t be easy) that I can comfort him without whipping out the boob.

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Sloth

Eric Carl wrote this book about the sloth. Hal brought it home the other night for Max. He insisted that I read it because it would “save our marriage.” So I read it and this is what it said:

Slowly, slowly, slowly, a sloth crawled along a branch of a tree.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, the sloth ate a leaf.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, the sloth fell asleep.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, the sloth woke up.

All day long the sloth hung upside down in the tree.

All night long the sloth hung upside down in the tree.

Even when it rained the sloth hung upside down in the tree.

“Why are you so slow?” the howler monkey asked one day.

But the sloth didn’t answer.

“Why are you so quiet?” the caiman asked.

But the sloth didn’t answer.

“Why are you so boring?” the anteater asked.

But the sloth didn’t answer.

“Tell me,” said the jaguar, “why are you so lazy?”

The sloth thought and thought and thought for a long, long, long time.

Finally, the sloth replied,

“It is true that I am slow, quiet and boring. I am lackadaisical, I dawdle and I dillydally. I am also unflappable, languid, stoic, impassive, sluggish, lethargic, placid, calm, mellow, laid-back and, well, slothful! I am relaxed and tranquil, and I like to live in peace. But I am not lazy.” Then the sloth yawned and said, “That’s just how I am. I like to do things slowly, slowly, slowly.”

I love my slow hubby and now, thanx to Eric Carle’s book, I totally get him now. He’s a sloth! Oh wait, not that Sloth, this one. The cute one.

This morning Hal was reading a completely different book to Max and on the last page there was a picture of a sloth. Max apparently picked up on our conversation the day before because Hal asked me as I stood in the kitchen slothishly making a bowl of cereal, “why does Max keep pointing at the sloth and calling it “daddy”?”

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Go ME!

 

I didn’t grow up fantasizing about what my wedding day would be like. Even as a little girl I never wanted to get married. I also never planned or dreamed of having children. It was only in the moment, at age 29, I turned to my boyfriend and said, “Let’s go make a baby,” that I wanted children. Now, I’m married to that same boyfriend, have a toddler, and another babe on the way. For the first time in my life, and this is most ironic to me, I feel as if I am doing what I should be doing. I am living in my skin. I was always meant to do the work of mothering.

Becoming a momma is teaching me mindfulness. It is teaching me what sovereignty means. It is teaching me how to empathize on the deepest level. Normally, I’d never make it to that place. Habit would have me in a battle of wills with Max every time… because, you know, I am the boss. But instead of fighting, I am finding myself examining his sovereignty, allowing myself to feel what it is I am feeling and then respond to him with compassion. And yes, I am still the boss. This awareness is also seeping into my other relationships. I’m slowly awakening to my true self through this work called mothering. My desire to give Max the emotional connection, love, and feeling of security he deserves is turning me into a Buddhist!

Everyday it is a struggle to attain this feeling of mindfulness. But, like giving birth naturally, it is a worthwhile struggle. Earlier this week when Max threw his yogurt cup on the (carpeted) floor for the umphteenth millionth time, I found myself growling at him. Yep, and it wasn’t pleasant. It was akin to the growl I growled as I pushed him out of me. Kind of like a rabid dog. He looked so startled, let out a scream of his own, and then threw his spoon to the floor. At that very moment I came back from the place I like to call hell and calmed down. I realized that my reaction didn’t do anything to help the situation and left me feeling guilty and harsh. I apologized to him, picked him up from his highchair (because he was clearly finished eating) and held him close. I didn’t dole out mushiness all over him. I treated him the same way, with a little extra momma love, as I would a friend if I lashed out at her. I talked to him as I held him close. It felt good and I felt normal again. He was fine and reassured that I wasn’t going to eat him.

I am not a religious person. I don’t believe in “God”. I also do not feel the ego driven need to believe that one or many do not exist. Have you ever noticed that many atheists have the same assholic fervor about their non-belief in God as staunch close-minded fundamentalist Christians have in their faith? Everyone knows what the truth is, I guess. But, I am quite comfortable with not knowing. Yes, this makes me agnostic.

Someone recently recommended a book titled, “Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting.” It is written from a Buddhist perspective on parenting. I started reading it two days ago and have been devouring every word since cracking it open. This book was written for me. Hal told me that Plato thought that everything we learn in life is in fact knowledge that we already know. Each discovery is a reawakening of information that we learned in our previous lives. Now, I’m not 100% convinced that reincarnation is truth but I do find it eerie that the complex yet simple ideas in this book I’m reading are already familiar to my consciousness. In fact, I had a conversation with a friend (a day earlier than I picked up this book) discussing my observations and ideas about sovereignty and relationships. Even though my vocabulary wasn’t expanded enough at the time to use the word “sovereignty”, I talked at great lengths about our need as individuals to have the freedom to truly be ourselves (which includes growing and changing) around our partner and how this freedom is necessary for the relationship to be healthy and to last. I also told her in my long rant that our partner will never make us happy but we can find happiness while in a relationship with our partner if they allow us to be/discover who we are… and nurture that need. Of-course, this need for sovereignty applies to all relationships – even to our kids and in relation to ourselves. Yes, it is my job to mind/preserve/honor/grant/you get the point my own freedom within the relationship with my children.

I’m not an educated person. I have maybe one year of community college under my belt. But, at age 31, FINALLY, I believe that I am a smart woman. I’ve always been able to read any philosopher and understand the deeper meaning of his or her works. If you are making sense when you talk I will understand, even if I do need to ask what a word means. Hal, who has a master’s degree, has been known to come to me for interpretations of different works by well known philosophers. I also have a keen ability to empathize with any situation my friends find themselves in. And, although Hal is very intuitive about people (more than they would like to know) he often can’t understand a word they are saying if it isn’t said in “his language”. I never attributed this ability to understand anything thrown at me to “intelligence” before. Well, now I’m a mother, and I may often feel isolated, unsure of myself, and uneducated, but I finally feel intelligent.

Some people need a degree. I just needed to pop out a kid.

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So, THIS is what will make me a good wife? Wow, I don’t think so. This was published in 1955; maybe someone should let them know their list is outdated. My husband would be appalled to not see the 19th bullet point that was added in the 70’s:

 

  • It’s beneficial to your husband’s satisfaction for you to apply a fresh coat of Dick Sucking Red Lipstick precisely two minutes before he walks in the front door. Remember, he needs to relax after his hard day at work and before eating that fabulous three course meal you prepared for him.

 

Pfft, Good Housekeeping needs to update their shit. Prudes.

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This article is discussing my prenatal care with both an OB and an independent midwife while I was pregnant with our first child, Max. I also included a section describing what my birth experience was like because I just LOOOOVE sharing it with the world.

 

My OB experience…

My plan was to birth Max intervention-free. For about the first 32 weeks of pregnancy I saw a Sarasota area OB who has two certified nurse midwives (CNM) on staff. Around this time I began to acknowledge that, although my OB is a highly regarded practitioner and a very nice man, I was less than relaxed during each visit.

I was shuffled from the waiting room, to the bathroom, to an examining room for a short encounter with a nurse who took my vitals and asked a few routine questions. After the nurse left, I waited some more. Then, my OB– who was always in a hurry to get to his next patient– came in and asked a few more routine questions. Hardly looking up, he’d check me over, give me a few orders, and then disappear out of the room. Unless I was armed with a list of questions it was impossible to convey anything meaningful about my pregnancy.

Essentially, my prenatal care providers were not able to spend quality time with me. They had too many other patients to attend and had the difficult task of balancing out the needs of all of them. Furthermore, it always felt like I was taking up too much of their time when I did have that list of questions ready to rattle off. I felt uncertain about the normalcy of my pregnancy and nervous to speak up about anything. Despite the kindness of everyone I encountered, the experience of being shuffled from one place to the next, the impersonal interactions with the staff and OB, and the lack of intimate conversation made it feel like my pregnancy was being treated the same as a routine check-up at a walk-in clinic.

Who can provide the professional and compassionate quality care I’m looking for?

Giving birth for the first time was the most emotional and life altering event I was ever going to confront. It seemed below standard that my OB and the CNM working under him didn’t have time to talk about what I was really going through or what my body was experiencing. I began to re-evaluate the term “quality care.” Did I need to hire a psychologist as well as an OB in order to address the non-physical changes I was undergoing? Was it possible to receive quality medical care with emotional/intellectual support as part of that care? Am I the only one who feels that being pregnant is not just about my body changing and the baby growing inside of me, but also about what I’m thinking and feeling because of these events? How will this emotional disconnect from the OB affect my labor and delivery? I contemplated these questions as I carefully researched midwifery care in the state of Florida and across the world. It soon became apparent that the kind of care I was looking for could only be found with an independent licensed midwife.

My midwife experience…

When I tell people that I had a homebirth with my son, their first response is usually, “Wow, you are brave!” I smile and tell them that I don’t consider having a homebirth to be an act of bravery, but it was the most empowering experience of my life thus far. Trusting that your body knows how to birth a baby has more to do with education and knowledge than bravery. My reasoning to give birth at home– and certainly this is true for many women who choose midwifery care in our country– was based on a desire to have an honest opportunity at a natural childbirth without any interventions to start or augment labor. Equally as important was to have my needs and Max’s treated together and not as separate units, because they are symbiotic needs. With an experienced and licensed midwife all of my standards of care were met… and then some.

Our first visit together was a two hour appointment in which we talked for about one hour 45minutes and did the exam within 15minutes. Each additional visit was roughly 45mins of conversation time and 15 mins of exam. Although I began my care with her at 33 weeks pregnant, by the time I gave birth I felt close to her, confident about what my body was going through, and had a clear sense of what labor and birth would entail. I also stopped having nightmares about going into labor. Rather than feeling isolated and fearful, I started having dreams about feeling safe, loved, and protected as I went into labor.

Is homebirth really safe?

Yes! Florida actually sets a notably high standard for midwifery education so as to make the option of homebirth as safe as an intervention-free hospital birth. Midwifery has been legal here since 1931, and The Midwifery Practice Act was last updated in 1992. The revisions are based on World Health Organization standards and successful European direct-entry midwifery programs. To become a licensed midwife in the state of Florida, an applicant completes a three-year program of academic and clinical education and must pass the North American Registry of Midwives national certification examination.

With the midwifery model of care, birth has an astoundingly low rate of interventions. Scientific medical academia consistently shows that the less interventions a laboring mother has, the less likely she will end up having a cesarean birth. In 2002, a study titled, “Outcomes of Planned Home Births with Certified Professional Midwives: Large Prospective Study in North America,” was organized by, Kenneth C Johnson and Betty-Anne Daviss and published in the British Medical Journal. This study included 5,418 women in the U.S. and Canada who intended to give birth at home as of the start of labor. Throughout their pregnancies all the women were attended by Certified Licensed Midwives. Although many people have a knee-jerk reaction to assume homebirth is dangerous, the results of this study clearly prove otherwise.

The study concluded “…home birth is safe for low risk women and involves far fewer interventions than similar births in hospitals.”

Info box:

Results of the 2002 survey, “Outcomes of Planned Home Births with Certified Professional Midwives: Large Prospective Study in North America”

  • 12.1% transferred to a hospital either during or after delivery and only
  • 3.4% of these transfers where considered urgent. Most transfers occurred for failure to progress, needed pain relief or exhaustion.
  • 9.6% electronic fetal monitoring
  • 2.1% episiotomies
  • 0.6% vacuum extractions
  • 3.7% cesarean section (as opposed to in 2004, Sarasota Memorial Hospital delivered 3,461 babies with a c-section rate of 36.95%, and Manatee Memorial Hospital delivered 2,164 babies with a 31.10% c-section rate).
  • 1.7% of the mothers said they would choose a different type of caregiver for a future pregnancy.

 

What Giving Birth at Home Was Like For Me…

I have never in my life felt so at one with spirit and body as I did while in active labor. I could have been laboring a million and one years ago and it wouldn’t have felt any different. The connection to my primitive spirit was beautiful, powerful, wild, foreign, and uninhibited. As labor progressed, I began to move on instinct alone. I was able to walk around, drink juice or water, and eat whenever I wished to do so. I vocalized the pain and moved my body as needed. By my side at all times were my midwife, my husband, and four of my closest friends. Labor was intense and painful but manageable, especially while resting in warm water. Of course, I had moments of doubt that I’d make it through. But, instead of someone asking me if I was ready for drugs, I heard a soft voice of encouragement telling me I was beautiful, doing great, and that everything was progressing normally. The lights were dim and I felt safe, like my midwife was a guardian watching over Max and me. She checked Max’s heartbeat often as well as my blood pressure – all was perfect. I moaned, moved, cried, and eventually became what I was doing. I found my way to that sacred place within that only I could travel and where my greatest inner strength was revealed. Pain at this point ceased to bring fear with it and became a welcoming means to an end– Max in my arms.

Ultimately, regardless of who is surrounding us or how many machines are available, we all give birth alone. It is the birthing woman who is left with the most powerful memories, good or bad, of the birth experience. My friends and husband played important roles in my labor memories; however, it was my midwife that had the power to “make or break” my confidence. She was the one I entrusted to make decisions about our safety. This power that we give to someone is a gift. Whether we give this gift to an OB or a midwife it is vital to choose our birth attendant(s) wisely. It is our birth attendant(s) and their philosophies about childbirth that have an enormous influence on how our labor progresses and how we feel about the birth experience overall. Maxamilian was born into my husband’s arms in a tub of warm water after 12 hours of intense, meaningful work… without any complications.


Recommended Reads:

Book Resources:

 

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin: I recommend this book over all others! Ina not only provides great information about natural childbirth, it also has a very comprehensive and honest section dedicated to interventions.

 

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer, Rhonda Wheeler

 

Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England, Rob Horowitz

Internet Resources:

 

    http://www.motherfriendly.org – The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS). Here is a great place to learn how to find a provider that has built a practice around mother centric values.




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    Hal went out with three of his friends tonight to celebrate one of their birthdays – and just to hang out and enjoy each other’s company. I’m home, Max is sleeping, and the thunder is threatening to cut out my power. I love the sound of rain. Oscar hates it. He’s curled up under my chair as I type. And NO, we don’t normally tie a bandana around his neck. Camus, despite his first impressions on people, is actually the fearless one.

    I’m very happy with how far I’ve come in terms of jealousy and control issues. When Hal and I were first dating I would get insanely envious if he went out without me. It would be even worse if there was another female present – or anywhere within his vicinity. I was between the ages of 19-23 when these feelings were the most relentless. Around age 24, I started to relax about stuff like that. Now, I am so happy that he has a social life outside of his relationship with me. I’m at a point where I don’t care who he is friends with as long as he enjoys their company. It is liberating to not have jealousy controlling my behavior. The damage it would cause our relationship if I were to attempt to control his social life in any manner would be devastating. It would pain me, him, and this bond of trust we have established.

    It really is enough to just know that your partner loves you. The problem lies with the fact that many people will never really know how much someone else loves them. It took me about eleven years before I could accept and return the love Hal was offering me. That gives you an idea of how fucked up my ideas about love and relationships use to be. Sometimes we become so damaged by dysfunctional relationships that are presented to us as “this is how you love someone” that we can’t appreciate a healthy one when it is offered (I have to add that I don’t think “healthy” is a one size fits all prescribed form). All too often the way we love someone is more a byproduct of our damage than what we consider to really be ideal. Like, we buy into the notion that the ideal is unattainable so don’t even bother going for it. We also think that “ideal” means “flawless and perfect” – which is a myth created by the dysfunction of dichotomy often presented to us by those who taught us how to love. Okay, this paragraph is clearly a side-effect of waaaay too many Hershey’s Miniatures Special Dark Chocolates and a runaway stream of conscious.

    It is also reassuring to know Hal wouldn’t sacrifice his happiness to please a selfish insecurity that I may have. I say that because at one point months ago I considered putting my foot down about one particular person he spends time with whom I do not get along with. I use to be very close to this guy – so close he attended Max’s birth – but our friendship ended badly. I could have insisted that Hal spend no leisure time with this person and to please me he would have accommodated my wishes. But, as we both know, it would have severely damaged our relationship. It would have actually caused detriment to the trust we have for one another. In the long run it wouldn’t have been worth it. I shared with him how I felt about this guy and how it made me feel knowing he spent time with him. We talked about it a lot and then I let Hal be his own person and do what was best for him. Because ultimately, I knew that what was best for him was also going to benefit me. I didn’t know how but I knew that is how love works. And I really trust and believe with every ounce of who I am that Hal loves me. I also knew that the pain I felt was my pain and to impose it on him wouldn’t be representational of our love but instead emblematical of my insecurities and fears. I don’t want to be in a relationship that functions that way. Hal and I used to behave like that and I see people doing it to each other all the time – you know – controlling who their partner is friends with or freaking out if their partner even looks at another person. It isn’t healthy and I never want to go back to that place again. It’s a crippling and painful place to be in. As humans we need to be social (at least some of the time) and it is only natural that we will be attracted to other people. To attempt to control another’s life in any way by guilt, manipulation, or downright badgering them to accommodate your fears and insecurities is abusing that little bit of power that their love for you and your love for them provides. This doesn’t just apply to marriages, boyfriend/girlfriend, partner type relationships, either. It also applies to family and friendships.

    I still have some unresolved feelings about Hal’s friend, in case you haven’t picked up on that. But those feelings really have more to do with my life than what happened in our friendship. That friendship gone sour has opened many doors in my consciousness.

    The way I feel tonight is reminding me that Hal and I have a really strong relationship.

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    Oh. My. Fucking. Gawd.

    A Little Scare.

    Last night the nature mamas and I had a ladies night out and gorged our faces with sushi and Thai food. While there Heidi informed us that she decided Monday, to shut down the birthing center. She has been running on over-drive as the only midwife for the past two years desperately looking for help but to no avail. As I sat next to her in silent horror I stopped breathing. She is my midwife. She went on to say that she has already had to turn away four people and has 17 clients to contact so she can give them the news that she can not attend their births. Of-course she’ll give them references to where they can go to have a birthing center birth or a homebirth, but still! It is as hard for her to let them know as it will be for them to hear it. The center will officially be closed December 1st. Our baby is due January 27th.

    I must have looked dead when she turned to me and said, “But don’t worry, Rosa, you’re in.” I practically fell on her in the form of a hug from the tension that was building in my heart. The tears started leaking out. I laughed with relief and was like, “THANK YOU. I LOVE YOU!” She laughed, the table was cheering congratulations, and she said, “Maybe I should have told you that part first.” Um, yeah. The pocket upsurge of stress compounded with the instantaneous break of it immediately gave me a bitch of a headache. But, once again, I feel lucky.

    Times Are a Changing.

    I’m in a state of transition. In more ways than one but what I’m talking about here is a social transition. I have never been friends with women who have children – let alone a group of women who have toddlers – until now. While sitting at the table last night with these nine amazing, brilliant, and funny women I found myself incapable of speech. Are there too many adjectives to express my affection in that last sentence? Anyway, when they shared stories about their life my mind was commiserating, agreeing, relating, and thinking of my own life but my chops were locked shut. The only exception was that laughter of mine that can never be contained (I’m certain the folks sitting at the next table would have appreciated a cap on it, though). It was like my senses were taking it all in and getting to know these individuals as my communication skills froze. See, they all know one another and I’m pretty new to the group. Unless I’m drunk or already know a group of people I have a really difficult time talking about myself or about anything interesting. It was intriguing to hear their stories and watch their personalities unfold even more than what I’ve already been honored to witness.

    And, wow, it was a lot different than my non-parent group of friends. Not better or worse, just really different. For example, when one of the women arrived after I was sitting there chatting with T, we both greeted her and T, instead of asking how are you doing she asked, “so, how was it getting out of the house?” Anyone with kids knows how difficult it is to style your hair, put makeup on, or even to simply get dressed with a toddler begging – no demanding for you to pick her up. The new arrival told her little story of getting ready and so did T and I (no makeup for me though, because Hal was at work and Max was demanding I hold him as I shoved my head and arms through a dirty shirt). Just little variations like that scattered throughout the night made the difference. It was a distinction that I have been longing for because it is really nice to have people around who can actually relate to what I’m saying. I think it is the same for anyone really into something – it’s nice to be able to talk without always having to explain.

    For a lot of women I’ve met (since Max’s birth) having a baby preludes losing all their friends without kids. A lot of times people without kids are really unsympathetic towards those with a new baby – and they are often the ones with loads of unwanted and bad advice. I’m lucky that I still have many of the same friend’s I made pre-Max and I still enjoy making new friends – with or without kids. For me, chronic isolation is the only recipe that has one ingredient and one certain outcome – depression. I intend to avoid that as much as possible throughout this life.

    Being Pregnant Is Not Working In My Favor This Time Around.

    This pregnancy is creating mountains on my face. Mountains that like to explode all over the bathroom mirror and require bandaging until the volcanic emission stops its nastiness. I feel like my skin has digressed back to puberty.

    Max slept solidly right through THE ENTIRE NIGHT last night. Unfortunately, I didn’t. My fucking bladder is making certain that I never get to experience the must-be-bliss that would ensue if I could just sleep for oh, I dunno, five fucking hours. UNINTERUPTED. I guess that isn’t going to be possible for another few years. FUCK.

     

    Caffeine is great for my writing but sucks ass for my parenting. I can’t drink it at all unless I really want to hate my son. I can not believe the difference in my ability to manage stress on the day I drank a cup of coffee during breakfast. No more coffee for me. I imagine it affects a lot of unsuspecting coffee lovers the same way.

    Max got ahold of my camera and took these pictures with it. Not bad for a little guy.

     

     

     

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