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The Perfect Home Birth of Finnella Blessing

May 31: I had been getting more and more tired of being pregnant and trying different tricks that might get labor going for several days. Of course it was nothing drastic as my due date wasn’t until 9 June. When Kevin and I went to bed that night, he noticed I had a “piddle pad” a reusable thick cloth pad one could use for incontinence; we used them for changing pads for the wee ones. He was teasing me about it; but I pointed out that my water broke as my first labor symptom with Elivette and I wanted to be safe, in case that happened this pregnancy too, I knew only about 15% of labors start with breaking waters, but maybe it would bring me luck. Unfortunately, I’d been sleeping on it for several days too, and it had done nothing to start labor. 😉

We had been in bed for a while, and were still in that drowsy awake stage of pre-sleep when suddenly, I felt a tiny “flick”, and boom: the precautionary mama cloth I was wearing, my pajamas, the piddle pad and the mattress pad were all soaked! Guess who was glad I had preemptively protected the mattress now!

I knew it could be a while before contractions started, but I went ahead and texted my midwives and the people who had promised to be in prayer for us, around midnight. I was excited and jittery and found it hard to get to sleep. I got a surprising number of replies too, which helped keep my mind calmer. I’m thankful for my night owl friends.

I woke up around 7 as usual, and no more signs of labor, just the occasional gush of amniotic fluid reminding me how I wasn’t laboring. By 10, I was starting to get resigned to the fact labor was not going to happen, and frustrated about it. My mother-in-law picked up the three youngest and the girls and I kept busy around the house. We went for a walk down to the lake about 1/2 mile from our house. It was pretty and peaceful and I would have stayed there most of the day if not for a heavily pregnant woman’s need to relieve herself frequently and the fishermen I wouldn’t want to see me do so. We trundled back to the house and relaxed a little.

At lunchtime, Kevin wondered if he and Aviana could drive a few hours to go pick up the milking LaMancha goat he found on Craigslist. I said they may as well, since I wasn’t going to have the baby. My midwife thought it was possible it wasn’t my actual amniotic sac that ruptured, but the forebag. She also thought that perhaps it wasn’t amniotic fluid at all, but pee. I was positive THAT wasn’t the case.  A friend,meaning to be helpful, bless her heart, told me she had gone to the hospital one day thinking her daughter would be born, and she wasn’t born for 17 more days. And my discouragement grew.

I posted on Facebook , “We aren’t having a baby, but we are getting a milk goat, so yay.” The support and solace my friends offered were bountiful. My photographer and friend, Kelcy, commented that there was still plenty of day left, and that made me feel a little better.

At 3ish, I felt a twinge of something. A dozen minutes later, definitely, something. I put the first birthing wave in my contraction app at 3:30. I texted my midwives again. Kathy lives an hour away and I’m not known for long drug out labors.  Sarah, my midwife’s assistant and friend and I chatted for a while. While we were going back and forth, my uterus amped up. Now the waves were about five minutes apart. I told her I would feel more comfortable if she were with me. She texted back, “ME TOO!” A little later she told me she would leave as soon as her husband got home from getting a chicken.

Meanwhile, Kevin was still 45 minutes away from home after picking up the goat.

Kevin got home eventually, and he started filling up the birth tub. Sarah arrived soon after, much to my relief.   Aviana felt strongly that JuneBug, the goat, needed milked then and there. Since I had the tub ready now, and Sarah was with me, I was ok with that. The contractions were coming right on top of one another. Getting in the tub spaced out the contractions so I was able to have some breath of a break; I was amazed at how the water helped!

During the time they were down at the barn, I had a contraction that was ‘different’, one that made me feel if Kevin and Aviana didn’t hurry up with that goat, they were going to miss Fizzy Baby’s arrival!
My good friend Karen arrived. She was here as support for the girls. We wanted someone to specifically be with them, in case of anything going awry especially. She was absolutely perfect in her role, and supported anyone who needed her. She and Brielle went downstairs to get some fruit ready to snack on. The watermelon tasted wonderful. It was the first time I had ever eaten in labor.

Close to 6, I told Sarah she had better tell Kelcy she had better come. She texted back, “I can see your house.”  I asked her if she would braid my hair, as it was starting to get wet and was all in my face annoying me.

It was such a peace filled, calm hour. Aviana tried to read some Baby Blues comics to me when Wanda was giving birth. It was amusing for a while, but quickly got to the point where I needed it to stop. I had some praise music playing. The birth affirmations were hung on the mantel so I could read them, and I would think of one when a birth wave came on, over and over again as a meditation.

 It wasn’t long before things started to intensify incredibly. A few days before, I had watched a mare give birth out in the open air. It was beauty to behold. She would get up, turn around a few times, and then lie back down again. I found myself sort of spinning around in the tub, and thinking of that mare.

 The mare was so composed and tranquil. I was starting to get noisier, but I felt like that mare. I never once felt scared or worried or out of control. With all of my other births, there was at the very least one moment, if not a whole scene, where I felt tumultuous.

A couple of times, as a birth wave crescendoed, I started to say “no” and then I caught myself and released myself into the passionate force of the moment. Being able to do that, being given the safe space, being surrounded by love and prayers, being completely mentally comfortable, was awe striking.

Soon, my birthing waves changed and my body needed to start pushing Fizzy Baby. There was no one moment of “Now, I shall push.” It was a gradual buildup and I didn’t really notice exactly when it was different. I never got checked to see if I was complete. No one told me what to do. Everyone just supported me and held me emotionally.

I had my hand on her head, and could feel as she began to come out into the world. This was a wonder-filled stage for me. I had never felt as in control before, so aware and internally calm.

I have seen several videos depicting the mechanics of birth (start watching about 1:40) and knew cognitively what was happening. Now I could feel it happening to my own baby, under my own guidance, under my own hand! I could feel her head molding. I felt her head turn and then her shoulders slide out, and then she was here!

 She didn’t even cry at first, just opened her eyes and looked at me, and gazed around at her new world. It was astonishing to see her be so peaceful and placid.
My legs started aching and shaking immediately after she was born, and I started whining about soon after that.  Somehow they managed to get me out of the tub, and into bed. There I delivered the placenta. Kathy assisted Aviana in its delivery. 
Finnella– heart–  placenta
 Brielle then cut the cord, and Finnella was forever her own person.
 We all fell immediately and irrevocably in love.

 Our phenomenal midwives.
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The Throwin’ of a Pirate Party

I LOVE to throw parties. I have a philosophy: Go Big or Go Home. Kevin, my everlovin’ introvert, can’t understand it, but he assists me in all the ways he can. He gets into it too!

I like to have a theme for our birthday party. We just have one a year to celebrate all of us, all born in July and August. This year’s theme was pirates.

To set the scene, send out invitations. Of course, you could always do a facebook invitation, or text it, but people love to get something in the mail. I typed out pirate speak on the computer, tore them, dyed them with tea, wrote translations on the back as an afterthought, just in case. 
We built some pirate ships using hay wagons. I made the bunting from felt. 

A friend sent me the link to Catch My Party and these free pirate printables. I don’t really think “treat bags” are a necessity, but they needed something to put their treasure in after the treasure hunt, so…perfect! They got a couple of mini candy bars and treasure. (jewels and gold coins I purchased from Amazon.)

First we frolicked and face painted until enough people arrived to start the festivities.

 We started with Pin the Patch on the Pirate.

I had a talented friend draw a pirate.

 

On to the treasure hunt!
putting the map back together
For the treasure hunt, I drew a large map on a folded out paper shopping bag, labeling various areas around our yard, such as the Petrifying Playhouse, Tire Swing o’ Terror and the Willow the Wisp. I asked Brielle to tear the map into 15-20 pieces. She got carried away and tore it into 42. We hid those pieces around the yard and the wee pirates had to search for them like an Easter egg hunt. Then we had to put the puzzle back together. I’m not sure if we didn’t have all the pieces back or if it was because there were so many of them, because it was a challenge! I was impressed with their tenaciousness. We had wrapped a cardboard box in yellow paper and hidden it in a hollow tree. Then we marched back to the front yard and I threw all the treasure up in the air and they stuffed their bags. The big kids helped the littles get their share. 
 Then it was time for A Battle!
We had the dads be Captain Scallywag and Captain Salty Dog. We numbered off by twos and got the kids loaded up with water balloon bombs, water bomb splash bombs and water cannons.

 Once the ammo was mostly gone, it was time to walk the plank.
 Kevin rigged up the teeter-totter into an admirable plank.

me best matey and meself
 Then it was time for cake and ice cream!
 Brielle and Kevin had been working (sporadically) on this model ship since December. It was the perfect addition to our pirate cake.
All our soggy pirates.
 I made a three layer poke cake. 
It was delicious, but as it turns out, none of us like grape jello. I was trying to go for the colors of black, red and white. Next time I’ll just stick with red.
One of the wee little pirates.
 After playing on the hay bales a while, we loaded everyone up for a 
 pirate ship hay ride.
Elivette and her little friend Andrew

After this we had homemade sloppy joe sandwiches and the delicious sides that everyone brought to share. All in all, I would say it was a jolly good time
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“Luckiest” Girl in the World

I really hate the expression “he made me the luckiest girl in the world”. This man, this birthday man of mine, this good man, he works hard at loving me. I work hard at loving him. We work hard at loving our family. Of course there are easy moments, there are beautiful moments, there are hilarious moments. There are also, buckets and buckets of work.

This good man, this birthday man is celebrating his birthday today by hanging out with his family. That is hard for him to do. Being still is hard. Not getting jobs out on the farm done is hard. Being around the founts of energy that are our children, on a rainy day is hard. Prioritizing what is best, not what is easiest is hard.

It’s not luck. Our marriage, our 13 years together is not made up of luck. We challenge each other, we bring out the best –and the worst–in each other. We love each other madly, and sometimes, we love each other mad. This man, this good man, and I stay together because we choose to stay together.

I am so thankful for this man, this good man who chooses each day to carry on loving us in the best ways he can. This man has been by me through five pregnancies, and five births, and ten years of breastfeeding and diaper changing. He was there for me the times I had to be on bedrest. He stands by me when I’m sick, when I’m tired, when I doubt myself.

He comes along slowly, warily but surely, when I decide we’re not going to spank anymore. He tries. He supports when I start new ventures, when I try new things, when I dare.

This man, this good man, is celebrating his birthday today by going to Menard’s to buy things like brackets and bathtub plugs. He’s celebrating by corralling small children at the steak house. He’s celebrating by doing art with younglings. He’s celebrating by heating up leftovers, selling a mattress, getting a candle in his ice cream, and brushing teeth.

He could choose to be out with buddies, drinking at a bar, or flying thousand dollar remote controlled helicopters, or playing golf. He could choose to be at work and not be home for dinner.He could choose to look at other women, or flirt with them, or more. He could choose to be emotionally unavailable to me and our children because facing your feelings is a hard thing. He could choose dishonesty. He could choose distance. He could choose solitude. He could choose an easy peacefulness that doesn’t include five rambunctious children and a sometimes contentious wife.

But he doesn’t. He chooses me. Every day. He chooses us.

I am the luckiest girl in the world, but then again, it’s not luck. 
Happy birthday, my loving man.
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The Absolutely Amazing Home Birth of Babe E

I’m sharing this video for several reasons.

One:  Because it’s awesome.

Two: I want to educate people on natural birth. Women were created to do this! (Not just this, but you know what I mean). I want people to know that even though it’s hard, and even though it can hurt, women CAN do this!

Three: My first birth was a Cesarean. That means I’ve had four VBACs, three out of hospital. VBACs are safe and should be encouraged.

Four: After Elivette was born, I had uterine clotting and bleeding. I lost a lot of blood and fainted. My midwife gently removed the clots, and administered oral Cytotec to clamp down my uterus. My midwife called 911 and I went to the hospital in the ambulance about two hours after the birth. My blood pressure was almost non-existent upon arrival. The ER doctor on call flipped out on me. At one point, he panickedly yelled at me “Do you just want me to take you back and do a hysterectomy right now?!” What kind of question is that for a medical professional to ask; especially to a woman in my weakened state? I knew my midwife had given me medicine at home, but I was unclear at the time exactly what it was. All I wanted was for him to wait until she arrived so I didn’t end up with some sort of drug reaction.

After my midwife arrived at the ER, we got the OB on call to come down. She removed (NOT GENTLY) still more clots from my uterus. I remember screaming and writhing. It was much worse than anything I’d ever been through. I had been loud during the birth, but now I was really screaming! Then, after she got down off of me, they gave me morphine for the pain. A little late, I’d say. I was also hooked up to Pitocin.

I was thankful at least I got to nurse my baby in the ER.

They wouldn’t let me eat. Once I got admitted, they made me stay awake and answer all these ridiculous questions for their intake forms. They wouldn’t let me eat! I just had a baby and they wouldn’t let me eat! I had to be on the surgical floor (I think) because since my baby was born at home, apparently she’s contaminated and can’t be in the Mother/Baby unit. The nurses were as kind as could be and very curious about home birth. I didn’t really want to talk though; I just wanted to sleep! And eat!

The next morning, the OB came back to check on me. She told me that my midwife did everything right. My home birth midwife saved my life. She told me that while it was good we transferred, in case I needed a blood transfusion, the her actions and the actions of the ER doctor and the hospital staff are not what saved my life. My home birth midwife saved my life.


I reiterate this because I want it known that home birth is safe. Home birth, even when there’s an emergency, is safe.

I want people to know that moving birth out of homes and into the hospital in the 21st century is much less about safety as they are led to believe, and more about money. Absolutely, there are instances where you need to be in the hospital–my first birth was one of those. But in the vast majority of cases, for the vast majority of women, it’s unnecessary.

Welcome Home banner the girls made for me.

Meeting biggest brother

Meeting big brother

Five: I want to encourage other expectant moms out there with this video. I loved watching youtube videos of birth while expecting because I felt it helped me be more prepared. It could happen this way, or that way, or some way I’d never anticipated. I loved watching the miracle of mamas bringing their little ones into the world. My baby was malpositioned, and it was difficult, but the euphoria of being able to bring her earthside is unparalleled.

Six: Our birth stories matter. Birth matters. Helping women have a “good story” or even, the story they want is important to me. I hope that this video encourages someone to have a natural birth and to be able to say “I did it!”

Because you can!
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Mother’s Day My Way

It’s now a week and a half past Mother’s Day.

Something like mothering got in between me and my Mother’s Day post.

I am generally a bit cynical about “hallmark holidays”…days just made up to make money. I like the idea of  these holidays. Days to remember your loved ones, to honor those important people in your life. And even though I’m a big believer in capitalism, I just don’t love the commercialism. Take Valentine’s Day–tell your loved ones you love them, by all means, but don’t spend $100 on roses that day. I’d rather you thought of me with a heartfelt  $4.99 bouquet from Aldi than some over the top display. I hate the sense of obligation that has crept into a lot of these holidays. Even Christmas has gone way overboard. Merchandisers want me to spend my total allotment of gifts on “stocking stuffers”. Not to mention there is a sense of competition, whether people want to admit that is what they are doing or not, with everyone posting pictures of their presents and flowers on Facebook. Ridiculous.

Mother’s Day is no exception. I stay away from media for the most part, so I was really surprised when a friend wished me happy mother’s day on the preceding Friday. I responded with a blank look and a “oh, is that this weekend?”

She laughed and said, “you have five kids! If anyone should know when it is, YOU should!”

But I was kind of glad I had forgotten. I was glad to let my husband off the hook. Mother’s Day comes smack dab in the middle of planting season, with the 15th of May being some kind of magic day of “100% of the corn planted by then will grow” pressure-filled deadline looming on the horizon.

I was glad that I had forgotten too, because I remembered the heartache it was when we wanted to have a baby but weren’t pregnant yet, and didn’t know if we ever would be. Then I felt like all the Mother’s Day stuff was a slap in the face.

I know the day brings unimaginable pain for those who have lost babes.

As it is, for this stage in life, I never get the day off. I never get A day off.

sideways foxglove

I was glad I had forgotten. It was better to not have any expectations. It was freeing to wake up and know that it was just any other day. I could relax into the fact that Kevin would have to work, and getting the kids to church by myself was my reality. It went well.

I was glad to get the handmade cards filled with effervescent love from my sweet babes. I was fulfilled sending out texts to my mama friends–in the words of a wise one I’m blessed to know–my mama tribe– who are walking this path of building love legacies alongside me to encourage them, and be encouraged in return. I was warmed when we stopped by the grocery and nearly every person we saw was carrying out a bouquet or a plant for their mama.

My amazing mother-in-law and my babiest last summer

I was glad to do the tasks throughout the day of being a mama. I was so relieved I had gotten past the day should be all about me, and that I could just let it BE. I was happy to have my mother-in-law over for supper. I was thankful Kevin quit early and grilled out. I was glad he and she put the kids to bed so I could finish working on our closet design. I was glad I let it go. I was glad I had forgotten.

Because really, no matter what your situation was like, we can never, ever in one day be thankful enough to the mama who brought us into the world,  or  to the mama who raised us.

My mama and papa
and my three littlests last summer

To quote the sentiment of the card my awesome brother sent to my mom, “Mom, I very much appreciate you giving birth to me and all the work it was bringing me up all those years…so here’s a card.”

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Happy New Year

A Visit  From Our Family

‘Twas the day after Christmas and at the Farm House,
Everyone was stirring, including the mouse
(who was packing up to move to Bogotá because our house was just too crazy for him)

The children were chattering like a flock of birds
While visions of anything that crossed their brains filled the air with words
(which, while precociously adorable, is also quite annoying)

The stockings were hung in the doorframes with care
Even though St. Nickolas had already been there
(and likely they’ll be hanging there until Valentine’s Day)

Papa in his flannel pants and I in my yoga gear
Had just settled in to look back over the year
(Truth be told, he watched Netflix, while I reminisced; but we were next to each other)

As it turned out 2013 was a wonderful year
Normal and challenging and filled with good cheer
(Which doesn’t even begin to describe the joy and hardship which is life with smalls)

When we flip back the calendar pages
It’s amazing to see the growth and changes
(The difference a year can make! I feel like an old auntie who pinches cheeks and squeaks,
“My, how you’ve grown!”)

Last January, Elivette could scoot in a circle a little
Now she climbs up on the table and dances in the middle
(Cackling and smiling her toothy grin all the while)

She can talk a bit and sign a lot
She tells us when to change her, when she wants a drink and when something is hot
(It’s such a thrill to watch her communicate—except when she communicates in ‘Whine’)

Pushing buttons, eating remnants off the floor and nursing are her favorite things to do
Along with trailing after her siblings, destroying towers, getting into cabinets too
(And did I mention the nursing :)?)

Denton is three, and boy, is he ever!
Stubborn and sweet, and funny and clever
(His abundant enthusiasm for life is evident in his phrasing: Oh boy! I wuv it! Dat’s my fwaverit!)

His resistance to direction makes me want to climb the walls
But he cracks me up with his “I’ll swice out your eyeballs!”
(Especially since he makes such dire declarations in his little happy cricket voice)

Last year, Cadrian, 5, talked like this: A gegagorus gat in ghelly on his gare.”
Now he can say, “A stegosaurus sat in jelly on his chair.”
(We’re so thankful for the natural learning process normalizing his speech!)

That sweet boy loves being outside with Dada and Duke, all over the place
And reading about dinosaurs, disasters, volcanoes, rockets and outer space
(He makes our home so loud, so messy, and so delightful!)

The boys are dressed up as knights on any given day
And swords and ‘beetle battles’ are part of daily play
(I had no idea how different boys are from girls until I had a set of my own)

The girls can usually be found amid several stacks of books
They also often are in the kitchen and are passionate cooks
Although asking them to clean up sometimes results in dirty looks
(The chocolate treats are worth it though—
and huh, I just realized that a lot of what they make in the kitchen involves chocolate.)

Seven year old Brielle has been taking Kuk Sool Won, a Korean martial art
She just earned a yellow stripe for her white belt, an excellent start
(She’s really found her niche and loves stick fighting, sparring, and wrestling.)

Aviana, 9, plays piano and has auditioned for a couple of plays
Writing music, dramas, monologues and reports and knitting fill her days
Both girls enjoy creating art, as well as competing to get their own way
(The bickering sometimes makes me want to join our mouse in Bogotà)

I’ve kept busy with home keeping and of course our small ones
I’m also passionate about educating families why not to circumcise their sons
(Since currently 68% of U.S. boys already are coming home intact, our hope is we’ll be able to completely change hearts and minds within this generation and everyone in the U.S. will follow the recommendations of the entire world’s medical associations and not circumcise at all)

I’m training to be a doula so I can assist in better birth
As much as I love that, my family is my favorite thing on earth
(I’m also a breastfeeding advocate and training to be a Parenting Coach)

I also find it necessary to have plenty of hobbies in play
Sewing, gardening, knitting, healthful eating, and most recently working with clay and crochet
(Learning new things keeps me out of the insane asylum)

Kevin continues to make improvements on the farm and to be a cattleman
He volunteers with our health care sharing ministry by the name of Samaritan
(Do let us know if you want more information—www.samaritanministries.org)

He enjoys making upgrades to our home when he has the time
But the fixing, fixing, fixing often makes him whine
(Even though he’s good at it, the constant need of repairs is aggravating)

So now you know some of our individual highlights
Now for a few of our year’s stand out sound bytes
(and by few, I mean, like, two—Kevin said this letter is already too long)

We all flew out to Colorado for a quick cousin visit and a cabin in the mountain air
And we delighted in visiting Wisconsin for the Lake Michigan beach and the Renaissance Faire
(and when we go again, Kevin even said he’d dress up!)

We hope this letter finds you happy and healthy, feeling truly blessed
And that this season fills you with joy and you aren’t a bit stressed
(Do what you like and leave the rest.)

Our message for you as we close our little letter
Is: A Happy New Year to All, and May It Ever Be Better!
(Mercy, Peace and Love be yours in Abundance. ~Jude 1:2)

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Our take on Santa

We tell our children that Santa Claus is a Christmas tradition. We tell them people like to pretend he’s magical and that he’s a fun game people play. Just like candy canes and holly, Christmas carols and Christmas cookies, Santa Claus to us, is just another symbol of Christmas. We do not think it’s a good idea to try to get them to “believe”. 

We feel that would be lying to our children. Calling Santa to tell him your child’s being naughty? That seems like lying and kind of mean manipulation. Just discipline your child for disobeying and move on. The “Elf on the Shelf” seems like more of the same–lying to your babies.

We want our children to trust us, to believe us in all things and getting them to think a make-believe person is real would drastically deter from that end.

And of course, we want our chiddlers to remember that Christmas is a celebration of the coming of the Christ child. Even though it was originally a Pagan holiday, even though Jesus wasn’t really born in December, we now use this day to honor His coming. The light of God in human form. An undertaking, a promise, a gift I’ll never really be able to comprehend. A grace I don’t deserve. A forgiveness I could never be grateful enough for.

To honor God sending His Son to sacrifice for our sin? So I could be face to face with the Perfect Holy One who is our Heavenly Father? I don’t know why He allowed us to be worthy, but am so thankful He did. That’s what we celebrate.

 But celebrate Santa? Not so much.
We think it’s cute, but as a main part of Christmas,
we feel like this. 

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Birthday Party Prep

Pennant Banner completed: check
Fruit cut up: check
Veggies cut up: check
Bad Guy masks made: check
Obstacle course designed and set up: check
Buns sliced: check
Kitchen floors done: check
New desk assembled: check
New bathroom stocked and functional: check
Washer and dryer moved: check
New bathroom decorated: check
Handkerchiefs located: check
Capes made: check
Signage made: check
Cupcake picks made: check
Eleventeen balloons blown up: check
Cityscape made: check
Night scene made: check
Facepaint located: check
Paint, brushes and ice cube trays located: check
Chocolate sauce made: check

Tomorrow’s list is shorter. I thank God for family and friends who did the lion’s share of this! I didn’t do a whole lot of it because I’ve been having high blood pressures and have had to rest a lot.

It’s annoying when my mom, husband, dad, mother-in-law and anyone else who deems it necessary tells me, “Go sit down!” or “Are you resting?” I understand the concern and I’m not taking it lightly. It is just very very difficult to let people do things that I feel are my responsibilities or even things I just want to do.

Even so, I am very thankful for the people willing to do whatever needs done to help our family thrive and for the kids’ Super Party to be a Super Success.

And truthfully, I am so tired I could fall asleep right now.

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