"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." (Aldo Leopold) Apparently, I cannot.


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Our Special Day

Today my daughter turns 6. And I turn 35. Yup, that’s right, we share a birthday. Here we are in one of our annual birthday selfies. (More from each year at the end of this post.)

February 20, 2014 -- 6 and 35!

February 20, 2014 — 6 and 35!

Things weren’t supposed to work out like this, but our feisty, little Ms. Independent had plans of her own. She didn’t want to wait until her May 3rd due date to make us a family of three. February 20th — 11 weeks before she was scheduled to arrive — suited her just fine. And so it was, after 3 days of trying to prevent her from coming so early, and during the final hours of my birthday in 2008, Belle was born. (If you somehow missed it the first few times I shared it and you’re interested in reading her birth story, you can find it here.)

My most vivid memory of my daughter’s birth isn’t of the frantic race to get my doctor to me before Belle arrived, or the pushing, or even the moments just after Belle was born when she was rushed to another room and all I could do was relish in the fierce cry I heard from behind closed doors. It’s actually of my husband. And him leaning down and whispering, “Happy birthday, hun. I’m so proud of you.”

Belle was indeed the best birthday gift I could ever imagine. Nothing else will top her arrival. EVER. (Although, babe, if you’re reading this, that doesn’t mean that you can’t try if you’re so inclined, lol.) To share a birthday with my little lady (ok, not-so-little-anymore lady, sniff, sniff) goes beyond words. It’s not my day any more. It’s our day. Our special day that we’ll have, literally, forever. (Not that we’ll live forever, but the fact that we share a birthday will be a part of our history forever.)

And as Belle gets older, I look forward to all of the things we’ll do together to celebrate our special day. I envision movie and dinner dates, shopping, manicures and pedicures, spa days, vegging out and eating ourselves silly . . . just me and my girl. And don’t worry, if we run into those I’d-rather-do-anything-other-than-hang-out-with-my-mother years, as so many mothers and daughters do, I’ll figure out how to work that angst into some type of celebration. ;) (But please don’t get me thinking about years that we may be apart and unable to physically get together. I just can’t go there yet!)

So a big happy 6th birthday to my sweet little daughter! I’m so grateful that I get to spend the rest of my life celebrating this special day with her. And you can bet that wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, every year on February 20th at 10:05 pm, I’ll be telling her about that fateful day in 2008 when she made me a mom for the first time and became the greatest birthday gift of all time. Plus, we’ll be taking more pictures like these:

1

February 21, 2008 — the very first time I was able to visit you in the NICU, and our very first picture together (thanks to Daddy!)

2

February 20, 2009 — your 1st birthday, my 30th  — and our very first birthday selfie

3

February 20, 2010 — 2 and 31

February 20, 2011 -- 3 and 32

February 20, 2011 — 3 and 32

February 20, 2012 -- 4 and 33

February 20, 2012 — 4 and 33

February 20, 2013 -- 5 and 34

February 20, 2013 — 5 and 34

So, happy birthday, Beany! Can’t wait to see what this next year brings. Love you to the moon and stars! xoxoxoxoxoxo


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Saurus’s Birth Story: 9 Months of Anxiety

Well looky here! A new post from me. It’s been nearly 2 months since I wrote my last post. And you know what? The time off felt good. But so does getting back in the writer’s seat. This new write-when-inspiration-strikes thing I have going on is working out very well. So thanks again for your continued support as I find my way in the blogging world. 

But anyway, back to my post . . . Today is my oldest son’s 4th birthday, and as I was wrapping his presents last night, I realized that I never shared his birth story with you. So here it is — the story of my first full-term baby! And boy, did we just make it.

After our daughter’s very early arrival (if you missed it, you can jump to her birth story here), I was, not surprisingly, extremely nervous about trying to get pregnant again. Because we could never identify why exactly I went into preterm labor with my daughter, we weren’t sure what to expect with a second pregnancy.

And so I did what I do best when faced with the unknown — I worried. I wanted so desperately to give our daughter a sibling, but I worried that I’d deliver early again. And what if it was too early this time? Surely I wouldn’t be able to handle that.

So after many talks with my hubby, we decided to give it a go. There was no one in the world who could assure us that we’d have a perfectly normal pregnancy — in fact, no one gets these assurances — and since I had a healthy pregnancy with our daughter until the preterm labor, we were comfortable with our decision. But comfortable did not translate to free from worry.

It took about 3 months (and again, a little bit of medical intervention) before we found out I was pregnant again. My husband was in the shower when I took the pregnancy test (don’t worry, we were in different bathrooms), and I was so excited when I saw the result that I ran to the bathroom he was in and just stuck the pregnancy test through the shower curtain for him to see. We were both super excited.

But it didn’t take long for that excitement to turn to worry for me. On top of the anxiety I felt not knowing if I’d make it to full term, we were moving out of state, which meant I’d have to switch doctors. Thankfully I found an amazing practice close to our new home with very understanding doctors. Not only did they approach my anxiety with real concern (“Hey,” my one doc said, “you went through a scary first delivery, it’s only natural to be worried. But we’re here for you, so don’t feel bad about calling whenever for whatever reason. That’s what we’re here for!”), but they also made it their mission to create a plan of care that was acceptable and comfortable for me AND would get the baby to term. (Although again, they couldn’t make any assurances.)

Essentially, because I was considered high-risk this time around, the doctors would be following my pregnancy very carefully. Starting at 14 weeks (and going to 30 weeks), I’d have ultrasounds every other week to check on the baby and to check to make sure nothing was going awry in my body (like a shortening cervix or early dilation) to cause me to go into preterm labor. Then at 20 weeks (and going to 36 weeks), I’d start weekly progesterone injections. All with the goal of keeping the baby in for as long as possible.

Great! The fact that I was going to be followed so closely definitely made me feel better — if anything started to go wrong, we’d catch it early and hopefully be able to do something about it. But of course, there was always that nagging fear in the back of my mind that something would go wrong.

And so, I was pretty much a bundle of wreck my entire pregnancy. I suffered from major insomnia for practically all 9 months — I would literally go a few days at a time without sleeping before my body would give into the exhaustion and allow me a night’s rest. Then the cycle would start all over again. I became very acquainted with our couch and the weekly Nick at Night lineup.

Then, beginning pretty early on, there were all of the Braxton-Hicks contractions. Oh boy. These were rough because when I went into labor with my daughter, I didn’t have very painful contractions (until active labor, of course) — all I really knew were the contractions I’d had that signaled to me that I should probably get to the doctor, which felt just like BH contractions. So of course, with every BH contraction this time around, I worried I was going into preterm labor again. And all of my anxiety led to more contractions, which led to more anxiety, which led to me being hooked up to the monitor at the doctor’s office more times than I care to count. Thankfully, every time turned out to be simply BH contractions.

If I could have lived at my doctor’s office, that may have made things a little more tolerable, but probably not. Thankfully I had an almost-2-year-old to keep me busy and an understanding husband who didn’t once make me feel like my worry was unwarranted. (And I know he was worried, too, but he stayed strong for me, which I am truly grateful for.)

And this time around, we decided to find out the baby’s sex. I say we, but really, it was all me. I absolutely needed to know this time. For two reasons.

  1. As crazy as it sounds being so anxious about this pregnancy and seemingly paying attention to every little thing going on with my body this time around, I felt very disconnected to the baby I was carrying. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I didn’t have another little person requiring all of my attention, so I was able to devote all of it to my growing belly — I’d spend my free time resting and daydreaming about his or her little face and what our new life together as a family of three would be like. With this second pregnancy, I didn’t have these luxuries. There were days in which I’d even forget briefly I was pregnant until my husband would come home and ask how I was feeling. So in my mind, knowing the baby’s sex would help me feel more connected.
  2. For reasons doctors are not entirely sure about (although they think it may have something to do with hormones), girl preemies tend to fare slightly better than boy preemies. So if we were having a boy, I wanted to be prepared in case he came early, too. Although looking back, I’m not sure what I could have really prepared for — maybe just emotional preparation? — but that was my thinking.

And wouldn’t you know? A boy this time around! So very exciting — we’d have one of each — but so very terrifying for me at the same time.

And so I went, week after week, not sleeping much and constantly worrying that each new day would be the day that I’d go into labor. It wasn’t my ideal pregnancy to say the least. And I tried so very hard not to worry, really I did, but I couldn’t help myself.

Full term was the ultimate goal for this pregnancy, but in all honesty, I just wanted to make it past 29 weeks (which is when I delivered our daughter). I kept telling myself that all of my anxiety would lift after I hit this milestone. But it didn’t. At that point my anxiety turned from not wanting to deliver early to now wondering when exactly I would go into labor. I was the most pregnant I’d ever been, and each new day brought with it the unknown. Would I go into labor today? Tomorrow? The next day? I know it probably sounds extremely bizarre, but it was all new to me. And? You guessed it. Scary.

I continued my healthy “uneventful” pregnancy until 36 weeks when I started having some blood pressure issues and had to be hospitalized for a few days of monitoring. Thankfully, my mom was able to come up from Maryland to our house in Connecticut to help with my daughter until I was discharged. Turned out that I had labile hypertension — simply meaning my blood pressure started getting wildly erratic — and not preeclampsia, so once my pressures stabilized, I was able to go home. The next afternoon, after many many thanks to my mom, we got her on the train back home to Maryland and went back to waiting for the baby.

We did not have to wait long. The very next morning, after my husband left for work and I dropped off my daughter at daycare for a few hours, my water began leaking. It started while I was going to the bathroom, so I wasn’t really sure what was going on at first, but I was aware enough that something was odd to call my doctor’s office. They suggested I come in for them to check things out. And so I went. In for another exam. Sure I’d be sent home after a quick check.

But this time was different. A few minutes after I got up on the exam table — as the nurse was unwrapping the stick to test for amniotic fluid — my water broke. Fully. In a huge gush. All over. “Well, I don’t think we need to do this test,” laughed the nurse. “Looks like you’re going to have a baby today!”

Today was the day. Oh my gosh, today was the day! I called my husband from the doctor’s office and asked him to meet me back at home to take me to the hospital. Which was kind of silly because he worked at the hospital I was delivering at, but still. There was no way I was going to drive myself home to get my stuff and then drive myself to the hospital. I wasn’t having any contractions, but you never know when those are going to start, amiright?!

After loading me up with giant maxi pads and a stack of exam table covers (because the nurse warned my water would just keep gushing out), I got in my car to make my way home. But first I called my mom to let her know that she and my dad should start making their way up. For my mom, not even 24 hours after she left the day before.

It wasn’t until I started backing out of my parking spot that I realized it had begun to snow. It wasn’t much, just a light dusting, and so I didn’t think anything of it. Until I got home, threw my bag in the car and was all ready to go, and my husband called to say that he was stuck in his car on a hill just outside of our neighborhood. Of course he was! And so I drove to where he was, got out of the car, and tried to start helping him get his car up the hill. You would have thought my husband had never seen a woman in labor trying to push a car uphill in the snow! Before I could take a step he said, “Absolutely not! We’ll just leave the car here, woman!” and he ushered me back into my car, and we made our way to the hospital.

I wasn’t in active labor when we arrived at the hospital, but because I was GBS positive, I needed to be on antibiotics for a while first anyway, so we were there for several hours before it was time to start pushing. (Which was actually perfect because it gave both my parents and my mother-in-law time to get to the hospital in time for the big event.)

And man did I push! With my daughter, she was so small, I only pushed for a few minutes before she popped out, so my body wasn’t really prepared for pushing a bigger baby this time around. It took about 2.5 hours, but finally, finally my baby boy was born.

On January 28, 2010, we welcomed our second child (known as “Saurus” here on the blog; a name he chose, btw) — at 37 weeks, 1 day, he was officially full term! We had made it! And he was completely healthy. And big. Already 8 lbs. (The doc said he probably would have been 9.5 lbs had we gone to 40 weeks!) I cried tears of joy. And exhaustion. And relief. After the past 9 months of anxiety, he was finally here and healthy! Hallelujah!

Zac born

We made it to full term! Now a family of four!

But the best part? We got to take him home with us just 2 days later. No NICU needed this time around.

I cannot believe this all happened 4 years ago already. It’s been a wild ride with this kiddo (and of course I’ve written about it a lot on this blog), but one I wouldn’t trade for the world!

Happy 4th birthday to my original and very first “little man”! We love you so much.

Zac 4

Oh this face! Even during rough times, this face gets me! Happy birthday, “little” man!


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Shining a Light on Domestic Violence: In Memory of Chris Keith and Her Son Isaac

Today’s post was written by the lovely Lea Grover (Becoming SuperMommy) in memory of  Chris Keith of Adventures of a Thrifty Mama and her son, Isaac. Chris and Isaac were killed 1 week ago by her husband, who’s abuse she had been trying to escape for the last several years. To honor Chris and Isaac, and to shine an extremely bright light on the horrendous problem that is domestic violence, bloggers from all over are sharing this post today or writing about their own experiences with domestic violence. I urge you to take a few minutes to read this and pass it along in the hopes that it can help even just one person. Thank you so much for your support and for helping us honor Chris and Isaac’s memories. 

Every day in the United States, three women are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.

It seems like an improbable number. Like it could never happen to you, to somebody you know.

But it has.

Christine Keith, aka Adventures of a Thrifty Mama

Last week, the blogging community lost one of its own. Chris Keith blogged about healthy living, organic eating, homeschooling… the same thing that so many mommy bloggers do. And she was good at it. She had to be. Chris was supporting four kids on her own, on a subsistence income after separating from her abusive husband.

But one week ago, her estranged husband went to her house, and killed her. He killed her oldest son, Isaac. And then he killed himself. The three youngest children had gone to their grandparents’ house for the night — fortunately out of harm’s way.

Chris taught Zumba. She gardened. She went on her local news channel to talk about food stamps, and how to eat healthy meals with a minimal budget. She was a good person, and a good mother. And now she’s gone.

Now she’s one of three women who died at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends that day.

There are things you can do to help her and her children. Her church has taken up a memorial fund — you can donate there to help provide for her children — sons aged 4 and 8, and a 6-year-old daughter.

You can send clothes and toys. They have not been allowed back in their home, a crime scene, and it may be a long time before they are. They have nothing but what they took to Grandma’s house the night their mother and brother were taken from them. You can send these gifts here:

Keith Children
Care of Ann Merrifield
1504 Wintercrest
East Lansing, MI 48823

And you can help more than that. You can spread the word that domestic violence, as endemic as it is, should not and must not be tolerated. That there are places those who are suffering can go, that there are resources available to them. That there is help out there.

There’s the National Domestic Violence Hotline, where trained expert advocates are available 24/7 to talk confidentially.

There’s Safe Horizon, which helps connect victims to shelters.

There’s the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, which provides access to information, and opportunities for training and education for those who want to work to end domestic violence, or intervene on behalf of somebody in their life.

Don’t remain silent. Don’t close your eyes to the suffering all around you. Don’t make excuses, or insist it takes two to quarrel. Just listen, offer a hand, and stand strong.

And maybe, if we all shine a light on this issue, into the darkness of abuse, maybe today nobody has to die.


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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: I’m Back, Sort of

Although I’ve known I’d be writing this post for some time now, I’ve actually dreaded writing it. Not because I’m not 100% behind my decision, but because I kind of feel like I’ve failed in some way.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning. When I first started blogging last February, I did so with the goal of sharing funny stories about my kiddos and lessons learned from the craziness raising kids brings to life. I didn’t do it to become a professional writer or to have any piece of my writing go viral. But I quickly got sucked into what I’ll call blog-mania.

I started a Facebook page for my blog. I started Twitter and Pinterest accounts. I started scouring the interwebs to see what online sites I could submit my writing to for more exposure. I started participating in blog hops and mixers. I started guest posting on other people’s blogs. I was invited to post on Scary Mommy (which I still can’t believe). I even managed to get my own space on HuffPost Parents. All in the name of getting my writing read.

I won’t go so far to say that I was spending more time writing about and getting people to read about my family than actually spending time with them, but I did become consumed with building an online presence for my writing. And this was on top of my responsibilities to my family and my freelance editing job.

In essence, I very quickly burned out. Writing posts for my blog became more of a chore (“Uggh, I have to write something tonight”) than the fun, lighthearted writing I was doing at the beginning. I looked at everything with an eye toward how I’d turn it into a blog post — what lesson could I share with others? What funny twist could I put on it? How could I write about it differently than the eleventy thousand other people who had already written about it?

And then a few months ago, I snapped out of it. I was forced to take a writing hiatus when my freelance work piled up on me and life got crazy busy (did you miss my announcement that Wild Thing #4 is on the way? lol). I barely had enough time in a day to take care of my family and work, let alone sit down for any meaningful writing. And you know what? I felt relieved.

Relieved that when I was finally able to sit down and breathe at the end of a long day I didn’t have to rack my brain for something to write about for the sake of publishing something, anything, because I didn’t publish something the day before. Or even the day before that. Relieved that I stopped trying so hard to see the blog post possibilities in everyday situations. Relieved that I wasn’t concerned with how many people were reading my post or, if the gods were smiling down on me that day, sharing it with others.

And I realized that these were all pressure that I put on myself. Nobody asked me to write a blog or start a Facebook page or Twitter account. No one pressured me into trying so hard to get people to read my posts. And certainly no one was keeping me tied to writing three of four posts a week. So why was I working so hard to add more pressure to my life?

And so, I have come to a decision to let my writing take a (rightful) back seat to my family and real life. I am not going to stop writing completely, but I am not going to impose any strict schedule for when I write. I’ll write when the mood strikes or when inspiration hits. Not simply for the sake of writing.

changes

With this new focus, I’ll be making some other changes as well. I am no longer going to be doing my weekly Too Tired to Try Tuesday posts (although fun, they took a lot of time to figure out and put together). Similarly, I won’t be doing regular “That’s What She/He Said” interviews. I will, however, keep doing my Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Friday posts, but instead of doing them every week, I’m going to run them once a month. (And because I cannot stand the thought of deleting any of my writing, I’ve created a page on on the blog — Things I Used to Do (and Sometimes Still Do) — where everything will be kept safe and sound!)

And in terms of social media, I am going to keep my Facebook page, but I’m ditching my Pinterest account (which I never used anyway), and maybe even my Twitter account. It’s just too much to keep up with.

Part of me feels like a failure by making these changes — not a failure as a writer, but a failure at sticking with it. But then I look at the life around me, and I realize that participating in it is the real success.

So a huge thank you to those of you who have stuck with me and will continue to hang around. I truly appreciate the love and support!


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SUPER DUPER Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Friday: 11/15/13

Because it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to post a Shiny, Happy post, I’ve got a Super Duper post for you today. Enjoy!

Some things that have made me happy over the past few weeks:

Field trip with my girl.

Field trip with my girl.

Merry-go-round fun

Merry-go-round fun

40-foot tube slide

40-foot tube slide

Cow ride

Cow ride

My boys

My boys

Crazy hair day AND Donuts with Dad day!

Crazy hair day AND Donuts with Dad day!

Pumpkin carving fun

Pumpkin carving fun

My viking and rock star

My viking and rock star

The 3 yo decided last minute not to wear his costume, but still a cutie, no?

The 3 yo decided last minute not to wear his costume, but still a cutie, no?

Supporting Movember!

Supporting Movember!

Rocking Sissy's Hello Kitty fedora

Rocking Sissy’s Hello Kitty fedora

Why hello newest Wild Thing!

Why hello newest Wild Thing!

And some things that have made you happy:

Phyllis from justbcauz http://justbcauz.wordpress.com/: Abby (age 9) enjoying the view from the Funhouse; Katie (22 months) enjoying chocolate dipped cheesecake; Jeb (6 months) people watching at the NC State Fair.

Phyllis from justbcauz: Abby (age 9) enjoying the view from the Funhouse; Katie (22 months) enjoying chocolate dipped cheesecake; Jeb (6 months) people watching at the NC State Fair.

Jerica from CO: My little sister enjoying pumpkin fun; my now five year old when she was a year old... found it on my moms computer.

Jerica from CO: My little sister enjoying pumpkin fun; my now five year old when she was a year old… found it on my moms computer.

Kristen from CA: The best happy face I've seen at home this week...squeee!

Kristen from CA: The best happy face I’ve seen at home this week…squeee!

Claire from Sydney, Australia: Sydney spring has sprung.

Claire from Sydney, Australia: Sydney spring has sprung.

Christina from MI: Enjoying some ice cream! Starring Iris, Koalie & Thomas.

Christina from MI: Enjoying some ice cream! Starring Iris, Koalie & Thomas.

Devan from TN: This is what made me happy this week! A change up from my kids. MY BREAST MAN!

Devan from TN: This is what made me happy this week! A change up from my kids. MY BREAST MAN!

Tiffany from AR: Trying on new pajamas and silly faces!

Tiffany from AR: Trying on new pajamas and silly face.

Corinna from Toronto, Ontario: My little princesses; I don't have to listen to adults.

Corinna from Toronto, Ontario: My little princesses; I don’t have to listen to adults.

Melissa from MD: My little daredevil modeling his new bike gear.  Gotta protect the noggin' in the coolest way!

Melissa from MD: My little daredevil modeling his new bike gear. Gotta protect the noggin’ in the coolest way!

Kathy from IL: Fall fun with cousins.

Kathy from IL: Fall fun with cousins.

Julie from MD: Pumpkin patch!

Julie from MD: Pumpkin patch!

Brandy from IN: Eli and Zoe had so much fun rolling around in and throwing leaves. Definitely made standing in the cold worth it! :)

Brandy from IN: Eli and Zoe had so much fun rolling around in and throwing leaves. Definitely made standing in the cold worth it! :)

From Chronically Sick Manic Mother http://chronicallysickmanicmother.wordpress.com/: All my loves.

From Chronically Sick Manic Mother: All my loves.

As always, thanks to those who submitted some happiness! Please keep it coming. Until next week…

Fridays on Raising Wild Things are Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Fridays! Since parenting can sometimes suck the  life out of me, I wanted to do these posts as reminders of the good, the great things that happened during the week amid all the crazy, exhausting, sometimes frustrating, sometimes maddening, sometimes head-exploding moments that seem to linger in my memory and can put me in a mommy funk. What makes you happy? Please share!


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Be Back in 15 Minutes

Ok, maybe not 15 minutes, but soon . . . For those of you who follow my blog, first off, thank you. I’ve been taking a little step back over the past several weeks, as life has left little time for me to focus on any sort of writing. I am not giving up on it, but I am in the process of re-evaluating some things and will most likely be cutting back on the amount of blogging I do moving forward. So, thank you for waiting out this little break. I appreciate everyone’s support, and I promise I’ll be back soon. Until then . . .

xoxoxoxo


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Too Tired to Try Tuesday: Witch Hat Cookies

Thanks to my friend Michele for sharing her photo!

Thanks to my friend Michele for sharing her photo!

Okey doke, hokey pokes, my last Halloween-inspired TTTTT post: Witch Hat Cookies. Saw these on my friend Michele’s Facebook page — aren’t they adorable?! And, they’re super duper easy to make.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Then, here’s what you’ll do:

  • Lay out cookies.
  • Pipe a thick circle of the orange frosting around the hole of the cookie.
  • Push a Hershey’s Kiss into the center of the frosting, covering the hole.
  • Add sprinkles.

Cute and easy peasy, no? Might actually make these with the kiddos on Halloween. :)

As always, if you try it, let us know how it turns out. And send some pics!

I’m no cooking or crafting guru, so I started these Too Tired to Try Tuesday posts to share craft and recipe ideas that I’ve come across and would really like to try but am just too damned tired (that sounds better than lazy, right?) to get around to. In addition to ideas that I find, I am open to submissions from you–either something tried and true or something you want to try but haven’t had the time to. Just send me an email at raisingwildthingsblog@gmail.com with your ideas, and I may share them here. (And by “may” I mean “will definitely”! I just confessed how lazy tired I am, so if you take the time to send me something to share, I’m going to share it!)

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