Saturday, April 30, 2011

Calling Social Services

Rosie: Do I have to cut up any more of this potato?

Me: Tomato.

R: Yeah, tomato. Do I have to cut up any more?

Me: Cut up the whole thing, babe.

R: Why are you making me cut up the whole thing? I don't even like tomatoes. I'm pretty sure this would be considered child abuse.

Me: Hang on, I'll get the phone so you can call social services.

Me: James, come empty the dishwasher, please.

J: Aww Mom. I don't want to.

Me: Oh, well then. If you don't want to then never mind. I'll do it.

J: Really?

Me: No.

J: Vwy I even have to empty it? You should empty it, it's your job.

Me: I don't think you want to go there, son.

J: It is your job. You have nothing else to do. You should do all the chore stuff. You don't do anything.

*This while I am in the middle of cooking dinner, signing school papers and cleaning a mess off the kitchen counter.*

Me: Well as long as you think I don't do anything, I guess that's exactly what I will do.
Julie, you can stop cooking the meat, James is going to take over cooking the rest of the dinner tonight.
J, when you're done emptying the dishwasher, you can go ahead and refill it, because that's something that I was going to do. But as long as I'm now not doing anything, you can do it for me.
When you're done filling the d/w, I want you to finish browning the meat and while you're doing that you can butter these rolls and then cook the corn and finish the salad.
Of course, when dinner is over, you can clean up and put away all the leftovers and wash out the pots and pans.
Then I guess you can walk yourself the two miles to CCD since I won't be driving.
It's Bella's turn for reading tonight, so don't forget to make time to read with her just before bed.
She should also put some laundry in tonight, so be sure to fold and put away the towels from the dryer, then switch the washer load over to the dryer, and make sure she gathers all her laundry and sorts it correctly. She may need help getting the detergent down.
After that you can oversee that people get their medicine, brush their teeth, take their vitamins, and go to bed on time.
Next, set up the coffee for the morning.
After that you can put the dogs out, put Sophie and Cindy away, and lock up all the doors and turn out the lights.

I'll be sitting back and enjoying all the nothing like I usually do.

J: VWAT?! I'm not going to do all that, are you crazy?! Vwat you think I am, slave or something? I am NOT doing all that work.

Me: You have a choice my friend. Either you do all my work tonight, or you hand your phone over. What's it going to be?

J: VWAT? I'm not giving you my phone!
Grumble, grumnble, grumble....

Starts to load dishwasher. Begins to look around the kitchen at plates and silverware being gathered, meat cooking, salad being cut up, stove getting dirtier by the second.

Walks away from half-loaded d/w and gets phone. While staring at the floor with eyebrows furrowed, hands me the phone and walks away in a huff.

Call ME a slave?

I think not.

*Though I gotta admit, the kid's got a point*

Click the brown button to vote for me.
Just click the button. No dishwasher, no cooking, no laundry.
Just click the button. It's not slave labor.
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Farm Friday

I'll admit, I am a hopeless lover of alliteration.

I also enjoy a good acrostic.

I am all kinds of high-brow when it comes to literary stuff. It can be intimidating to some people.

So I hope you don't mind too much if I make Farm Friday, as Wordless Wednesday, a regular feature.

I'm actually tempted to do one more, focusing on ways to help children in the foster care system, orphans, Fresh Air kids, etc. But the alliteration piece has me stuck, so you're spared. For now.

Because whenever I try to think of something that would work I just get hung up on stuff like Malevolent Monday or Thespian Thursday, and they just plain don't make any sense.

But don't worry, I'm sure I'll think of something....

Meanwhile, like I said, I'm going to take a spin at Farm Friday. I will try to save anything farm related for Friday posts. Like the chick updates, putting in fencing, castrations, that sort of thing.

Sound like a plan?

OK, then, let's see what I've got for today ....

Oh I know. I'm finally starting the weaning process for Finnegan. You know, our blue-eyed colt that you got way TMI on regarding his recent testicular incident?

Yeah, him.

He is a hopeless Mama's Boy. He is still nursing at one year. I know I should have weaned him about six months ago, but I don't really have the proper facilities to separate them in cold weather, as I only have one barn. Not even a small run-in shed.

I know some folks subscribe to the method of completely removing the foal from the dam. As in they ship one off to be boarded at someone ele's farm till the deed is done.

Not to be judgemental or nothin', but that's not an idea I could get behind.

First off, it places a terrible stress on both Mama and baby when they're removed from each other so suddenly. Neither one knows what's going on, Mama turns her Mother Bear switch on when her baby is taken from her and who can blame her? They pace, they cry, they scream, they gnash their teeth
you say grazing I say gnashing, tom-ay-to, tom-ah-to.

Second, as a fellow mammal who has formerly nursed, I can tell you right here and now that cold-turkey weaning could be considered a form of torture. If it could be applied to men, it would be banned by the Geneva Convention.

At least when it was time for my babies to say goodbye to the boobies, I could do it on my own terms. And if the pressure
pun intended
got too much for me, I could always jump in a nice hot shower to express my discomfort
pun intended again.

So I'd much rather keep them together, within sight, within ear shot, just maybe separated by a fence.

Even that can be difficult. Tuesday I put Genevieve in the side pen and gave her a nice big tub of fresh water (of course, I had my kids haul about 10 buckets of water to fill it for me) and a few forks of hay. Pippin and Finn were in the field. At first they were visibly distraught even by this small degree of separation, and Finn wouldn't stray far from the fence, but as the day wore on they seemd to settle into this new turn of events.

After a spell, Finn did as any young boy will do, and went off to explore muddier fields with his brother. Gen would cry and pace a bit but eventually settle. And Finn would check in with her from time to time. Throw the poor old hag a bone.
Is this what it will be like when my kids leave for college?

My plan is to increase periods of separation gradually so the demand on her milk supply will also decrease gradually. Purest example of supply and demand I can think of. More comfortable for Genevieve, my sister in lactation.

The weather has played nicely into things because the next day we had threats of severe wind and thunderstorms. So when I got home with the groceries, I quick ran out to the side pen, (hoping the ice cream wouldn't melt), talked to her and pet her for a few minutes, then let her reunite with her baby. They immediately ran to each other and snuggled, then he checked out what was on tap and drank his fill.

Storms over on Thursday morning, and back into the pen for Gen. I'll keep her in there for two or three days this time, then let them briefly reunite. After that, a week.

So if my plan works out as I've intended, Gen will be all done with the whole nursing scene for the first time in many years. She was kind of a rescued broodmare and I believe Finn was her 8th foal in about 10 years. Yikes.

I'm all for large families, but my hat's off to this girl.

Here's Finnegan on his birthday last year in early June. Cute, right?

This is Finn and his brother Pippin about three months ago. How quickly they grow...

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Breath of Fresh Air

Last year we (British royalty for I) decided to participate in the Fresh Air Fund by hosting a little boy from the Bronx.

We weren't too sure of ourselves. Adding a 7th kid to the mix for a week?


But it was great. He was a terrific little kid and got along pretty well with everyone. There were a few squabbles to be sure, but it all just seemed like the usual sibling stuff that we're so used to anyway.

So when asked by the coordinator if we'd be doing it again this year?

A resounding yes.

Would we be inviting the same boy back?

A resounding yes.

If you're wondering what this program is all about, it's simple. They place children from NYC into homes in the suburbs/rural areas in NJ, PA, NY and a few other surrounding states. Most of these kids are from impoverished homes, single parent homes, or families that may be struggling in other ways. Children in the program are 6 - 13 yrs old (I think) and can stay with you for a minimum of one week. Many of the kids that have been staying with the same family for years just stay all summer b/c their host family becomes their home away from home.

The goal is to get these kids to see that there is more to life than what they see day to day in the inner cities.

When a child grows up seeing crime, violence, school drop-outs, teen pregnancies, drugs, etc, he just assumes that's how life is everywhere. By placing him or her into a home in the "country" they are exposed to a whole other way of life. They hear crickets at night instead of sirens. They feel grass under their feet instead of pavement. They see that the norm, not the exception, is to go to school, go to work, care for your family. They see that this is an attainable lifestyle, and it helps to break the cycle they seemed destined to be caught in.

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I seem to recall that most of the kids that participate in the Fresh Air Program go on to finish school and lead productive adult lives out of the inner cities.

I think it's a very simple, very cool way to make a huge difference in the life of a child.

And you don't need to live on a farm, or in the country, just out of the city. All you have to do is meet your child when he steps off the bus, and get him back at the appointed time. He comes with a suitcase full of clothes and full instructions. You do not have to schedule fun things for him to do while he is visiting; simply allow him to fold into your normal family routine. Honestly, anyone can do it.

Yes. That means you.
Come on, you knew where I was going with this.

To that end, I just received a letter from the good people at Fresh Air asking all participating families to also become referral families. Their hope is that each family that has participated refer at least one new family so they can place another child.

So go. Get your phone. I'll wait.

whistle, whistle...

Got it? Ok, now dial this number:
1-800-367-0003 x8931, and ask for Anya Korshak. Tell her you are interested in hosting a child this summer. She'll take it from there.

Or if you're more the keyboard type like me, you can e-mail her at

How simple is that?

And how simple to make a difference in the life of a child?

Contact the Fresh Air Fund. Do it today.

Our boy breathing in some fresh air and listening to the quiet of the country.

Here he is picking a tomato from our garden. He doesn't even like tomatoes, but he loved finding them!

Even after one week, lasting bonds were forged.

After you place the call to Fresh Air, click the brown button to vote for me. Or you can vote first and contact FAF afterwards. I'll leave it to your good judgement.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Madness

So I left off hinting that we had a slightly chaotic Easter weekend. It wasn't bad, really, just too much going on and not enough time to squeeze it all in. But somehow we did. The only day that was truly a challenge was....

My friend Mary and I filled I don't wanna know how many dozens of plastic Easter eggs with I don't want to know how many pounds of sugar. Yes, the sugar was in the form of cute Easter candy like egg bubble gum and pastel-wrapped Reese's peanut butter cups and little foil wrapped chocolate bunnies and all, but honestly it would have been more to the point to just dip each plastic egg into a giant vat of granulated sugar. Certainly would have been cheaper.
Started some of the food prep work for Easter dinner, like slicing strawberries, baking the cake, etc.
Sent about 7 or 8 of the kids outside to play while Mary and I got the stuff ready to dye the 5 dozen eggs I had boiled the day before.
As we were nearing readiness for the troops, in they started running, all yelling,
"James got hit in the eye with the softball!!!!"

Sure enough, in walked James, caboose of the Mayhem Train, bleeding from his eye. Well, not his eye, but right at his eyebrow. And it was bleeding pretty good, too. We guided him to the kitchen sink so he could bleed into that while about 25 hands started thrusting papertowels and ice towards us. And between James' best friend, Mary and myself all standing directly in front of James and each vying for the position of chief cook and bottle-washer, things were getting a bit crowded. And just plain nuts.

Finally someone got Fred who surveyed the damage and decided it would need stitches or glue. He had some old Dermabond (which is basically Crazy Glue for skin) but it was old and crystallized. It would not do. We found some Crazy Glue knock-off and he was thinking about using that but then heard where he could get his hands on some of the Real Thing and off he jetted to pick it up.

So we bandaged an ice pack to J's forehead and went ahead with the egg-dying. Sorry, but the day's schedule left no wiggle room. Head injuries be damned, the eggs would get dyed.

And dye them we did. Followed by Fred getting back in time to glue J's eyebrow back together just before dinner.

As you can see from the picture, there are more hands involved than there needs to be. I'm counting at least four.

But, bottom line is, J's eye got fixed, the eggs got dyed, dinner got eaten. So far we were on track.

Next up was the service for James' and Julie's initiation into the church. They had been going to CCD for awhile, coupled with much whining and complaining, but their education on matters of the church was deemed complete. They were to receive the sacraments of baptism, communion and confirmation during the Easter vigil mass on Holy Saturday. I had been assured that the vigil mass was absolutely beautiful, though a bit long. I was told to expect an hour and a half for the mass. Maybe two.

Since I rarely possess the courage to get my brood through even a one hour mass, that was cause for some angst on my part. But I swallowed the lump in my throat and agreed. What choice did I have, after all?

So after dinner we presented James and Julie with their gifts of some rosaries and mass books and statuettes and the whole crew got dressed up in their church clothes, which took me all day to round up and wash and (wink) iron.

The kids looked beautiful. Even James with his swollen and glued eye. My angels. And off to church went Fred and I, plus J and J, with the rest of the crew to follow later (rest of the crew meaning 3 of our guests, the rest of my kids and my sister).

Poor kids were both pretty nervous. James hid it well but Julie kept going over and over how to hold her hands for communion
(left over right) Like this, right?
(right over left) No,no, like this! Right?
(left over right again) Aaah! Like this!
And trying to remember her responses
Me (playing priest): Body of Christ
julie: And also with you. No! I do. NO! Amen.....Right?

Finally, at 8:30, the sun had set and it was time to begin. The priests and the deacons and the entire congregation filed outside to the bonfire. Candles were lit, ancient words were chanted by the men in white robes.
Fred said if only we had a few goat entrails we'd have ourselves a nice Druid ceremony.

Back inside the dark church we filed again, this time with our candles providing the light.
Because I needed to worry about my boys and fire.
But the CCD teacher was right, it was beautiful. The priest sang the entire opening of the mass acapella. Sang for a good 10 minutes. Like Gregorian chants.

So peaceful....

OK, we need to move along here, people.

And move along they finally did. At a snail's pace. If said snail were oozing its way through a chalice of Holy molasses.

A typical mass will have two readings, generally each followed by a responsorial hymn, with the homily bringing up the rear.

This was no typical mass. There were 9, nine, NINE readings, each followed by a responsorial hymn.

And myself being a cafeteria-style Catholic, I'm more of a New Testament kinda gal. This was mostly Old Testament fire and brimstone stuff. Abraham binding his son and raising the knife till God cried "Psyche!". The parting of the Red Sea and the consequential drowning of the Egyptians. And we were singing about it!

The Egyptians sank like a stone, to the bottom of the seeeeeeaaaaa....
The water crushed all the chariots and charioteers and horses, till they washed up upon the shooooooore.....

We worship you because we fear you, and you cloak yourself in gloooooo-ryyyyyyyy...

I fought the strong urge to cover the ears of my children.

But at long last it was time for my children to be baptized and confirmed. We marched over to the font and I was waiting for the whole "Do you reject Satan and all his works?" line of questioning. Instead we got more singing. This time to all the saints in heaven.
Literally, ALL the saints in heaven.

Saint Agnes
Pray for usssss
Saint Anthony
Pray for ussssss
Saint Ignatius
Pray for usssssss

Fred swears about 5 minutes into it he heard us ask a St Billy Bob to pray for us. He says there's no such saint but I just pray what I've been told.

But finally they reached the end of the line of saints and we proceeded with the ceremony. The kids made all the correct responses and they had water poured over their heads and Chrism oil applied to their foreheads and they donned their white robes and voila, they were Catholic.

Not many minutes later they went up for communion and Julie got her hands a little mixed up but the priest was kind with his correction.

Then, miraculously, at 11pm, it was over. Not an hour and a half. Not two hours. TWO AND A HALF HOURS! For James, Julie, Fred and myself, it was three hours as we had to arrive early.

I mean honestly, couldn't the nice priest just have waved his magic wand and said a few things in Latin and made the sign of the cross to all corners of the earth or something equally holy and mysterious? Three hours we were there.

But to remain positive,
no one strangled any of their siblings
my boys did not set the church on fire
bottom line, James and Julie have completed all their sacraments in one fell swoop
(though at three hours, perhaps not so fell)

Well, all sacraments except reconciliation.

Tune in next week for that one.....

Pray for ussss.... then click the brown button.
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Just a Quickie....

Busy weekend, including head injuries, marathon masses, sacraments, houseguests, holiday meals, egg-dying, Easter egg hunts, computer viruses and more.

Will write tomorrow. For now, please accept my apologies and a re-post of what I posted at Easter the first year J and Y were home with us.....

So kids, let Mommy explain to you all about Easter.

Jesus died on the cross for your sins.

Well, no, I know you weren't around back then, not your sins specifically.
He just did.

Then He rose from the dead.

No, not like a zombie.
He just did.

We decorate Easter baskets and dye eggs real pretty to symbolize springtime and new life.

Yes, I know Jesus was born on Christmas, but we celebrate new life at Easter. After He died.
We just do.

We eat chocolate eggs because .....
Well I don't know why exactly, but aren't they yummy? Don't touch that, you've got chocolate all over your hands.

OK, now let's all go outside and find the candy-filled Easter eggs that the Easter Bunny hid in the yard.

Hmmmm? He's a giant bunny that brings candy to good boys and girls.

No, honey, don't look afraid, he's a good giant bunny.

No, he didn't rise from the dead.

No, he's not related to Jesus.

Here, have some more chocolate and let Mommy go lie down for a little while.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Progress Report: 1 Month

OK, so the weekly progress report on the chicks is getting a little old as they ... get a little old.

I shall henceforth provide monthly updates, which may still be a bit much for some.

And I'm a little late on this, as they turned one month on April 17th or there-abouts. But hey, I was out of town, out of state, out of my mind as usual, so I didn't gitterdun in a timely fashion this month. Hopefully you all are the forgiving sort.

In a nutshell
or shall I say an eggshell
they are doing quite well.

I am still at 100% survival rate which is an unprecedented feat for me. They have grown. A lot. But they are by no means full grown. They are still kinda gangly looking and seem to be all body and feet with little tiny pinheads.

I am about ready to break open their second 50 lb bag of start-n-grow, so yeah, they like to eat.

I brought them some crickets and hoo-boy was that entertaining. I opened up the crickets and let the hopping and the scrambling commence. At first my chicks didn't know what to do with them other than chase, catch, and run. But when you've got another chick/hen barrelling down on you and you've got a cricket in your beak and you run to a corner, you figure out pretty quick that you either eat the thing or have it stolen from you. Once the first couple crickets went down the hatch I could see the lightbulbs going off over the chicks' heads. And then they'd run off to see if they couldn't find them some more of these tasty hors d'ouevres.

Next time I'm bringing me a camp chair and a beer to watch the show.

Can you say Phyllis Diller?

Belly up to the bar.

This is either Goldie or Puddin' or Chicken Little. Can't tell unless I see them all together.


Progress Report: You still need to click this brown button. Yes, every day.
Thank you for your support.
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

So Ran-dummm

My kids say it all the time.

So ran-dummmm...

Today's goings-on could certainly be classified that way.

James and Shane had to get out to the pond this morning to do a little engineering. The bank of said pond has been slowly eroding away to the point that the water level has dropped about 2 feet. I think if we waited one more day for repairs we'd start to see the fish flappin. And sunnies don't make good eats so that's just a big waste of fish that could otherwise be caught and then released and then caught all over again.

The water from the pond had to go somewhere, and it's been turning the lowpoint of our upper field into a mudbath. Yesterday when Bella had to go fetch Annabelle to put in the barn for the night, she sauntered into this area totally unawares and found herself in a pit of quickmud. Her boots sank in so deep that the mud started oozing over the tops and all down inside.

She was stuck. Every bit of effort expended to attempt to release herself only mired her in even further. Lucky for her, Rosie was in the backyard playing badmitton with a friend, and heard Bella's plaintive cries for help. Rosie went barelling down the hill in heroic fashion, straight into the mud to join her sister, losing her flip-flops to boot.

They were both stuck. Rosie's friend, wisely, had stayed at the top of the hill to better survey the comic genius unfolding before her. She was able to run into the house (after gaining control of her laughter) and fetch the head of the household (I was, in my infinite wisdom, at CCD with James and Julie). Fred found a stout length of bamboo
who knew we had a stout length of bamboo???
and, staying clear of the mudpit, reached it out to them and pulled them out. Yes, just like in any movie with quicksand.

But that was yesterday.

Today I got pulled over by a cop in Lancaster. Rosie and I were driving up there to pick up an old friend. I tried out a new road that I had seen before but never taken. A short-cut to bypass the village of Strasburg. Guess I shouldn't have tried it today either. Apparently the speed limit was 25 mph and I was driving mumble-mumblemph. Mind you, this is a road that cuts through corn fields. There are no houses. There are no schools. There is a bank way at the end of the road and there is an old inn set waaay back off to one side of the road. Sum total. And for that I was supposed to drive 25mph? I think not.

Besides, I didn't even know it was 25. When I told the nice policeman so, he told me "You looked right at the sign, I saw you. You know when the sign has a 2 and a 5 on it, that means it's 25mph".

That's what he said to me, hand to God.

But I had to smile and giggle and act like he was so cute and clever and sit on my hands so as not to throttle him because he chose only to give me a written warning.

To my dear brother-in-law, if you're reading this, I owe you once again. That little gold card you gave me is sadly becoming careworn. I'm a good driver, honest I am, but policemen like to pull me over when I'm driving too fast through corn fields, for cryin' out loud. Seriously, I owe you a couple children by now, I think. Call me.....

This is a picture of the sunset that Rosie took on our way home from Lancaster. Pretty, right?

I know. The picture of the sunset is so...

Know what else is ran-dumm? The #18. I don't like it. Click the brown button to change my number for the better.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Here's an old drawing of mine that I dug out of a sketch book dating back to a time of big, crimped hair and equally large belts positioned just slightly beneath our boobs. Anyone remember? Oh yeah .....

Not asking you to draw anything. Just move your mouse till your cursor is positioned over the button and .... click! Ta-da!
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'mmmmm Ba-ack....!

Got home last night from our little road trip.
If you'll recall, I had taken 4 of my kids up north to Massachussets to visit friends. Even with me leaving a couple of the kids at home, there were still 9 kids in the house, all of them teens and 7 of them from adopted from the same region in Kazakhstan.

Pretty cool.

The kids had a great time playing video games, watching movies, riding bikes, playing freeze-tag and musical chairs and going for walks downtown or to the local park. Some of these things my kids, living as we do in the middle of nowhere, usually miss out on.

We also got to be personally escorted around the nearby historical area, Salem. How cool was that?

Learned a lot at the Salem Witch Museum.

Got to meet the Easter Bunny. It was particularly frigid on this day and we were all jealous of his warm suit.

Souvenir shopping. Always fun.

Did a little grave hopping.

Little tiny tombstones.
For little tiny children.
So sad.

I don't know that my soul would be comforted with this image engraved upon my tombstone.

Checking out the "Friendship".

Checking out the friendship.

Who knew a bunch of teenagers could have fun playing musical chairs?

Dee and family, we miss you guys already! Thanks for such a lovely time....

People? I leave town for a few days and you let me fall into the 20's? Very irresponsible of you, very irresponsible. Click the danged button. I hate to nag, but honestly ....
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Outa Sight, But Not Outa Mind

I will probably be mute the next few days.

I'm throwing some of my brood into my tank, plugging an address into my GPS, and heading north to visit some friends.

Leaving house and home and critters in the care of hubs, oldest, and youngest.

I am putting the care of the chicks in the capable hands of B the Younger.

They'll all divvy up the work of the dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, goats, frogs, crabs and bird.

I'm sure they'll all do just fine.


As for me, if I can survive the 8 - 12 hour drive
depending on traffic, number of pit stops and number of times I have to pull to the shoulder to bang my head against the steering wheel,
then I know I will do just fine as well.

The kids will pretty much huddle together and entertain themselves.

I will pretty much huddle together with Dee and talk shop, vent, cry, and laugh. And drink a bottle of wine.

Or few.

But I probably won't blog again till I get home. It'll be good. I need to take a day or two off of writing from time to time, right? So I will make a concerted effort to Step... AWAY.... from the keyboard....

If anyone sees me wrapped in a motheaten blanket, sitting on a street corner in Massachussets, frantically scratching at my arms, you'll know I'm jonesing. Get me to a Starbucks with wifi and I'll be fine.

See ya'!

And if my Top Mommy Blog rating drops precipitously, don't worry, I'm a big girl and I can handle it. I won't cry. I won't wail or gnash my teeth.


Oh forget it, I'll die, I'll just die! Please click the brown button every day, please! Even if I don't write anything.


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