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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Underweight? Hmmm…

It’s a funny thing, becoming someone’s parent.  You start to think about all kinds of things that you probably never thought about before.  And if you find they become thoughts you think a lot, they become Worries.

When I found out I was becoming a Mom, I didn’t have a lot of Worries.  Really, I just had one.  As someone who has battled her weight for all of her remembered life (really, I was about 7 or 8 when I started gaining; and I know why that happened too, but we’re not talking about that today) I knew I did not want to raise an overweight child.

No one actually wants that, I’m sure.  Many people think about it I’m certain.  Some people become actual Worriers about it.  I?  I became obsessed with this thought.  Every day we talk about food in our house.  When Connor was 3 or 4 we started talking about the food guide and how many fruits & vegetables we need to make sure we have in a day.  If he asks for a treat, we talk about what’s been eaten so far today, and what’s to come, and make a decision based on these facts.  My kids are very informed about healthy eating and unhealthy eating.  My intention is to ensure that food does not become a crutch (because man-o-man am I an emotional eater), nor something forbidden (because I’ve also been a horrific closet eater).  I want my children to have a healthy relationship with food.  And I think we’re doing really well.

Take, for example, a conversation that happened in the car today:

Sam: “Connor, what’s your favourite food?”
Connor: “Wow Sam, that’s a tough question!  I can’t pick just one thing…”
Me: “Okay Connor, top 5 – go!”
Connor: “Okay: strawberries, pancakes, bacon, french fries, broccoli.”

Sure – it’s not the healthiest list, but c’mon.  The kid’s just turned 8, and on his list of favourite foods are strawberries and broccoli???  That’s a pretty great list, in my opinion.

So imagine my surprise when we went to the pediatrician for his 8-year checkup today and she commented that his weight had “flatlined”…

For the last couple years, Connor has been tracking in 75th percentile for both weight & height.  His height stayed in position on the curve (52.5 inches, for those who are interested) but his weight is back at the 50th percentile (64lbs).  I say “back at the 50th” because when he was born, he was in the 50th for both height and weight.  And for the first 3 months of his life, he was always below that marker.

hmmm…  I may have just uncovered why this upsets me so much…  ok, I’ll come back to this thought later, because I want to STRESS loudly that the doctor did NOT say that she was worried.  She did NOT say that he needs to be fattened up and to start main-lining trans-fats ASAP.  She did NOT say that he has an eating disorder and should be checked into a clinic STAT.  All she said was, “Huh, his weight seems to have flatlined.”  And too, I want to stress emphatically that I am not in dire straits over this comment.  I am not headed for a bridge, nor am I looking for a high place to hang my rope from.  It’s just sticking with me, is all, and I wanted to try to uncover why that is…

Which, you may recall from the start of the previous paragraph, I think I have.

So here’s my revelation: Connor was very close to starving in his first 5 months of life.  He was born a healthy 7lbs 3 oz, and by the time we left the hospital (3 days later) he was down to 6lbs 8oz or something like that.  Breast feeding was not going well (it rarely does with the first child, so I’ve since learned), and he was tongue-tied, which I did not know made it almost impossible to latch.  I talked to the pediatrician about switching to, or supplementing with, formula but she was not supportive of this.  After his 4-month checkup, when he weighed in at less than 11lbs (I can’t remember exactly) I decided to forget her advice and go with my gut: we started formula.  When we went back for his next checkup, he was like 16lbs and she was thrilled to see him so big and happy.

So as it turns out, my barometer for how I’m performing as a parent to Connor is totally tied to his weight, and where he sits on the damn curve…

Well, that’s just crazy.

Here’s what I know: I have a kid who is very happy and jovial.  He is effective at expressing his emotions, generally in healthy ways.  He is reading almost at grade level (which is HUGE since when he started grade 1 last year he really couldn’t read at all), and he excels in math and science.  He loves gym, has lots of friends, can ride his bike and he even likes to work in the kitchen with me.  He’s a great kid.  And I’m a great Mom, 50th percentile be damned.

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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Family, Food, Oversharing, Sickness/Wellness

 

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Samples…

You guys, what is it about doctors offices and their row upon row of sample products that so entices me???

Backtrack: Sam is sick again.  Yes, it’s true.  He spiked a fever on Friday evening and we haven’t been without fever since then.  So when he started to loose his voice yesterday, I got worried that he actually had strep throat.  Because this is exactly how he manifested strep last time he had it (which was almost 18 months ago now).  So I am taking no chances this time: if it’s strep, I wanna know about it ASAP.

Which is how this morning we found ourselves in our pediatrician’s office in downtown Toronto.  We have been seeing her since Connor was born (which incidentally, was 8 years ago today!  Happy birthday big guy!  Momma loves you, and wishes you’d let her kiss you) and I really love and trust her.  Plus, she works at Sick Kids too, so if we ever wind up there, she can continue to care for my kids, which I think would make everyone feel just that much better.

Anyway!  Back to samples.

Ever since we have been going there, the same thing happens.  You get there, you maybe wait in the waiting room, you are maybe called right away.  Always though, without fail, you wait in the treatment room you’re assigned for that visit.  Now, being a nosey, sneaky person (like I am), who gets bored when left waiting for more than say…  5 minutes (yep, that’s me too), the allure of cupboards can be too great to resist.  And that was how on my first visit to our pediatrician, I discovered that those cupboards are with stocked to the gills with stuff.  Infant or children’s Tylenol, infant or children’s Advil, spectro gel, topical ointments, inhalers, lotions and potions…  and all of it free for the taking.

I bet you know what I do, right?

I take it!  That’s right people: whenever I’m in the office you can be sure that I’m leaving there with a pack of both tylenol and advil.  And when my kid are under 12 months, you can be sure too that I’m taking any samples of the vitamin D drops too!  What about you?  Are you as susceptible to the lure of free stuff?  Not just any stuff though – stuff that you know for sure a time will come when you’re going to need it, and you either (a) won’t have it or (b) what you have will be expired.

Which is how my purse currently contains a box of children’s tylenol, as well as a bottle of children’s advil.

And just in case you were worried, I’m happy to share that no it is not strep throat.  The Doc thinks it’s the tail end of the flu, which is now becoming a cold.  So…  yay…  Sam’s had the flu twice in the last couple of weeks…  See??  I told you he could be sickly.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Family, Sickness/Wellness

 

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10 Years…

31 years ago today, something amazing happened to me.  To my family.

My baby brother was born.

I won’t ever forget it: it was the middle of the night, a sea of darkness all around me, and I was sharing a bed with our family friend, Cheryl.  She was staying with my sister and me because my parents were – of course – at the hospital.  So in the dead of night, my Dad bursts into my room, turns on the lights and hollers, “It’s a BOY!  His name is Ian Glenn,” and we were all excited together, and then he says very sternly: “Now go back to sleep,” and turned off the lights.

YEAH RIGHT.

I was 6 and 3/4’s old, had just been wakened from what was likely about 6 hours of sleep or so, and was told that I didn’t have another sister – I had a brother.  Any of you who have children, or spend time with children know there is a dangerous point where if a child is wakened, it will decide that it’s had enough sleep and not return to sleep until passing out in their lunch.  Not to mention the added excitement of a new sibling!  That was me that night.  Once Cheryl tired of my likely endless stream chatter, realizing that I was not likely to go to sleep at any point again that night, and that she had to work in the morning, she did what any (in)sane person would do.  She sent me to get in bed with my father.

Those of you who know my father will not be at all surprised to know that in the end, I did in fact go back to sleep.

March 23, 1981 my brother was born.  I found out the next day, through my Aunt Donna, that my brother’s name had been changed from the aforementioned “Ian Glenn” to the lasting, sticking name of “Glenn David”.

This was taken at a family wedding, in October of 2001, I believe. It’s a great shot of his laughing, smiling self.

Today is the 9th time this day has come and gone without calling Glenn to wish him happy birthday.  It’s the 9th time that my family has not had a cake to honour him, or a meal of any kind.  Sure, we talk about him.  In fact, that first time, my parents, Cheryl, my sister my hubby and me all had dinner together in his honour at East Side Mario’s since Glenn loved pasta.  So I suppose that year we did have dinner in his honour.  Somehow, it was not the same.

Every year on March 23, I start my day by singing the “Happy Birthday” song to him, out loud, choking through the tears.  Those tears got thicker and more prolific the year I was pregnant with my first child.  I always cry because of what I miss with him gone – experiences, conversations and the like.  That year (and every year since, in fact) I was crying for that, but also because I have absolutely no idea how my parents cope.  How do you move on from the death of a child?  As my Mom would say, “You do it one step at a time.  And when that’s too much, you do it one breath at a time.”

With a heart full of gratitude for the 21 years, 1 month and 25 days we had with you Glenn, I wish you a happy birthday.  You may be gone from this life, but remain forever in our hearts.  I love you and miss you, Chum.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Family

 

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Reaching a New Level of Understanding

Do you find that, as you age (note: I did not say “get older” because really: no one wants to “get older”) opinions and thoughts you developed when you were young, solidify into facts?  For instance: I was a Girl Guide, and we used to camp on occasion at a place called Camp Ma Kee Wa.  They had a pool there, and when I was young, I knew that pool was huge.  I mean, freakin’ HUGE.  Then one time when I was a Brownie Leader, we took our Brownies to camp there.  And guess what?  That pool was tiny.  Like, the size of 2 regular-issue Toronto front lawns.  Seriously, I have friends that have pools in their back yards that are significantly larger than this pool.

This is what I mean about thoughts solidifying into facts.  Does that ever happen to you?  And then you come face-to-face with something that takes that “fact” and crushes it into teeny-tiny little pieces?  Has that happened to you before?

I have all ready admitted that it happens to me.  I’d like to think that it happens less often now, because I’ve made it a point to become very flexible in my view points.  Especially since so much of what I know about the world I learn from the internet.  And everyone knows you can’t trust what you read online.  <grin>  This flexibility has served me well in recent years, and thank God it’s been tested because yesterday, I had another one of these shake-up-and-shatter moments.

A friend of mine linked to a series of articles on The National Post’s website, about forced adoptions.  If you click this link, you will find a dozen or so articles that work to uncover the atrocities committed  in the name of “family values”.  I read through probably 6 of these articles yesterday, and with each one my heart was hurt.  As a mother, I cannot imagine the pain these women lived through, and the guilt that must still haunt them.  As someone who is right now pregnant, feeling the kicks of the child within, I cannot fathom never seeing the child I birthed, nevermind being denied the chance to hold my baby.  As a woman, I rage against the machine who believes that our mental states are so inferior that we – all women everywhere – cannot possibly raise a sound, solid human being without the presence and support of a man.  As a human being, I am deeply dismayed that as recently as 1970, basic rights to decency and compassion were denied to my sisters…

But this post is meant to be about reaching a new level of understanding.  And so I will explain that now.  My paternal Grandmother was a wonderful, strong, passionate woman.  Some may have called her obstinate, or stubborn.  I would actually call her liberated.  You see, she was born in the 1920’s in a farming community in Ontario.  She used to tell me about her big move to the city when I was a young woman, and I still find the story so empowering.  She told me that she went to school until she was 12, so she completed grade 8.  The summer after her 8th year, someone came to her door asking if she was going to register for school in September.  She said no, she was not.  She was going to the city to get a job and that was that.  And you know what?  That’s exactly what she did.  At the ripe old age of 12, she packed up a suitcase and boarded a bus to Toronto.  She got a job as a housekeeper for a family, where she stayed for some years.

She grew up in the city, grew into her independence, and worked for a living that was very comfortable.  When she met my Grandfather, she was 22.

This is my Nana, around about the time she married my Grampa

They met on a Saturday night, at a dance at the YMCA.  They way I remember her telling the story, she was dancing with him sometimes, and sometimes with his friend George.  A while after that fateful night, she found out that Grampa & George had a bet on to see who could take her home, “If I had known that, I wouldn’t have gone home with either of them!” She always made that last statement with a bang on her armrest.  God, how I miss you Nan.

Anyway – about my new understanding.  My Nan wound up pregnant.  Her baby was born in 1949, and she and Grampa were married in 1949 as well.  Obviously, she would have been one of the women who would be the targets of the forced adoption tactics.  This was eye-opening for me…  truly, a revelation.  Here’s why: my Nan’s marriage was – in so far as I could tell – loveless.  She didn’t ever seem happy with Grampa, and in fact I remember when I was 12, she was getting ready to leave him.  I always wondered why a woman like her – strong, fiercely independent, capable, empowered – stayed where she was not happy.  In fact, why did she get married at all?  All she would ever say to that question was, “Because it’s what you did.  You didn’t have a choice.”

I think I get it now…  She got married because if she didn’t, she wouldn’t get her baby.  And while I didn’t know her when her kids were young, I can tell you with certainty that there was very little she would not do for them, even as adults.  Whatever was needed, she was there for them.  Whatever her grandkids needed, she was there for them.  Be it a place to stay for a night or a week, some money to make rent, a nice hot dinner and a loving hug, she was there.  The very idea that this woman would not be allowed to have and raise her family is just devastating.  She did not have a choice.

So today, another facet of the woman who was my grandmother is crystalizing.  She truly was a warrior, a trailblazer.  Maybe not because she wanted to be, but because she had no other choice.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Family, Opinion, Politics

 

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Faithful Evolution

I was reading an article this morning on a site I’ve started checking out regularly.  The author was talking about how she and her family are practicing Christians, who made the choice to send their kids to public school.  You can read the article here.  I gathered from that piece that they like the idea of being in control of what their children learn about their faith, and appreciate that no religion of any kind is taught in public schools.  (I imagine that last part is a large deciding factor in her school system choice, since Catholic schools in Ontario – maybe across the country – teach world religions starting in high school.  Based solely on the piece I read this morning I assume that the author would not be comfortable with her children exploring other faiths.)

She was writing about being upset to discover that a yoga instructor came to the school and taught some basic yoga to one of her 3 kids.  Her position is that yoga is a faith, that clearing your mind is not the same as praying, and is really just upset that any form of faith was taught in the classroom.

Is it just me?  It’s possible – maybe it is just me.  I thought that yoga had become totally mainstream and sanitized.

I was raised in a Catholic home.  My Mom was a reader, Minister of the Eucharist (meaning she could administer communion alongside the priest), founder of the pre-school Sunday School program, and later the founder of the school-aged Sunday School program.  I myself was an alter server, a reader, I sang in the choir, held the youth seat on the parish council, taught the pre-school Sunday School program and later founded a youth group.  To say that my roots are Christian is a very fair statement.

I do not today call myself Christian, however, so maybe my perspective is skewed.  The thing is,  I do not see yoga as a faith.  I get that it’s roots are, but so are the roots of Christmas and Easter, and how many of us still celebrate those holidays even though we don’t accept Jesus as our saviour?  I see yoga as exercise.  I see it as relaxation technique.  I see it as a way to release stress that our daily lives bring to us consistently, that are proven to be killing us.  And you know, even in my very Catholic upbringing, when we kids started to get out of control of wound up, my Mom would say, “Stop for a minute.  Take a deep breath.  Okay, and now take another deep breath.”  She did that because she knew it would clear our minds of the craziness that was happening in there.  She did not feel that in doing so we were “inviting the devil in” to quote one commenter from the article.

In my upbringing, I grew to understand that you need to still your mind to hear the voice of God.  It’s in the quiet moments that God reveals Himself to you.  I still believe this to be true.  We need to calm the white noise in our heads – there is so much chatter there, all the time, that it’s a real gift when you are able to stop the noise for a moment.  Yoga can do that, and that should be seen as a good thing.

I think though, more than my lack of understanding for her position that yoga is a faith, I am upset that this seemingly progressive woman, living in one of the most liberal provinces in our country (British Columbia) is so closed to diversity.  From my perspective, your faith must not be very strong if it cannot handle a little discussion about other faiths.  Some will say that it’s not her faith that she’s worried about – it’s her children’s faith.  I hear that.  Again though, it’s a great chance to reinforce your family’s values and to discuss the similarities and differences between the 2 faiths.  In order for our society to move forward to a place of peace and acceptance, we need to be able to talk about what makes us different.  Our children need to feel free to explore the world around them, and know that we want them to come and talk to us about what they discover.  By telling the teacher (as the writer did), “Please let us know if you plan to do such a session again, so that we can take Graham out of school that day,” she is effectively cutting off any discussion and exploration.  And to me, that’s just sad.

But what do you think?  Am I over-reacting?  Am I mistaken, and yoga is a faith system all it’s own, not something that can be used to cross a myriad of religions?  Should the writer be upset?  Help me see what you see, so my perspective can be broadened.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Opinion

 

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I… I didn’t expect this.

You know, when I was pregnant with my first-born, everyone told me that my life was going to change dramatically and that I would never again be the same.  Other mothers told me that, well meaning strangers, and even old ladies who were rubbing my belly – without permission, in Gerrard Square (those of you who know the fresh hell that is Gerrard Square can clearly understand how freakin’ creepy this was) of all places – told me this.  And of course, I knew it myself.  I mean, my salary was about to be dramatically reduced, and therefore no more wine budget.  But I knew too in other, less obvious ways, I would be forever changed.

I was scared.  I mean, I don’t know if you remember this or not, but I was never going to have children.  I was going to be the crazy aunt, with the high-flying career, who travelled the world and impressed her bevy of nieces and nephews with the ever-increasing cool factor that was my life.  You know what they say about life right?  “It’s what happens when you’re making other plans.”  Boy-howdy can I attest to the truth of this addage.

Anyway.  I’ve been doing this Mother thing for almost 8 years now (how is it possible that my baby is going to be 8 in 12 days?!?!  In-con-ceivable!) and I’ve had my fair share of unexpected things.  Like giving up my “high-flying career” and choosing to stay home, which I’ve been doing now for almost 3 years.  Somethings though…  you can never prepare for.

I mean, maybe when I was a kid I thought that maybe one day I’d have kids and I’d stay home with them like Patty Brown’s (my best friend in grade 2) mom did.  So maybe it was on my radar in some what.  What I had zero ability to imagine is that…  is that a grown man, singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Turkey in the Straw” could be so…  so…  attractive.

That’s right people: I am coming out and telling you that I have a crazy crush on this man:

Object of my affection, Blue Wiggle Anthony Field

It’s his eyes, it’s his accent (the Wiggles are Australian), and lord knows I have always swooned for a man who can sing.  But really…  I never expected to have a thing for a children’s entertainer.  It feels wrong somehow; almost pedophile-adjacent.  Which IT IS NOT.  I mean, he’s a grown man, I’m a grown woman, we’re not related, it’s totally legal and not at all taboo.  Especially when you know he looks like this when he’s not working:

   

Mr Blue Wiggle himself, out of costume. YUM.

And such a lovely smile, no?

So there you go.  I didn’t expect it, but I don’t think I’m totally crazy either.  Do you?

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Oversharing

 

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Really? Again??

You might recall that last week, Connor was sick.  And you may be able to guess from the title of this post, that this week, Sam is sick.  It seems to be the same bug, so I guess it takes a few days to incubate before showing overt signs.  Connor was well and truly back in the saddle by Thursday.  And it was Sunday night that Sam’s fever spiked.

You might note that today is Tuesday.  That’s right, it’s been almost 72 hours of him being sick.  Last night was by far the hardest.  He awoke at about 12:50 came into our room, and puked.  MOMD got that all cleaned up and sorted out (thanks M! You’re a superstar) and then at 1:20 he rolled over and said to me, “I think he just puked in his bed.”  We both jumped out of bed and yep…  yep he had.  I took him downstairs (he was saying that he needed to eat something) and again, MOMD dealt with the mess.  We came down, and I was going to get him 1 cracker.  By the time we got to the kitchen though, he wanted just apple juice.  So I got him some.  He drank it down in a moment and then asked for water.  I got him some more of that.

**note: ROOKIE MISTAKE!

(You might be thinking, “Rookie?  How can she be a “rookie” when she’s got an 8-year-old who had the same illness just a few days ago?!?!”  You aren’t wrong to ask that question.  Here’s my answer: Connor has never been a sick child.  Last week was the first time he’s had anything in more than 2 years.  And even then, he threw up once.  Yes, he catches the occasional cold, but that’s it.  He has a very hearty constitution, it seems.  Sam, on the other hand, got sick a lot when he was a baby.  He’s been well mostly now for about 18 months, but still.  Connor=healthy Sam=sickly.  The birth order allows me to feel like a rookie.  Herein ends the note to my note.)

He drank that in a flash as well and went to the couch.  He snuggled down into the new blanket I got at my Arbonne retreat, I was cleaning up the cups and BAM!  Puke all over the blanket, all over the couch.  (Have I mentioned that I bought a lovely, gorgeous white couch for our house when we moved here?  Yeah.  I did.  And that’s the couch he puked on.)  I went to help him up, and he started to puke again, at the other end of the couch, and all over the floor…  I got him to the bathroom, but by the time we got there everything was out of his system.

Of course, what came up was all that liquid I had just fed him.  Silly rookie!!  Anyway.  He sat on the chair in the kitchen (his jammies were now covered in vomit) while I cleaned it up.  Once that was done, I took him back upstairs, got him changed into fresh PJ’s, another dose of tylenol (the fever that was gone when we went to bed at 10:00 was now back) and tucked him into his freshly made bed.  It was around 1:40 when I got back into bed.

I was still awake at 3:15.

Needless to say, I feel am not feeling my best today; all of last night’s shenanigans happened on the tail of the night before’s fever-dreams which Sam could handle and kept waking himself up from.  In the past 48 hours, I have slept about 11 hours, where I would normally have slept for 16-18 hours.  This morning I gave in and had a fizz tab (which I haven’t done since we found out about #3; so since sometime in November) so I could drive Connor to my Mom’s house.  My niece is there on a little March Break getaway, and we had planned to all go there today to decorate cupcakes (here’s the project I was inspired by: http://www.bakerella.com/butterfly-cupcakes-and-some-fun-news/).  (Have I mentioned just how much I love and adore Bakerella?  I do.  Although I’m a little tired of cake pops.  Just sayin’.)  I baked all the cupcakes yesterday, made the icing, and I have all the candy and whatnot to complete the project.  I’m taking all of it to my Mom.  She can do the project with the kids.  I’m bummed that I won’t be there, but I need a nap like you could not believe.

The strange part is that I feel worse today than I ever remember feeling with a newborn…  how does that make sense???  My Mom said that it has something to do with (a) expecting to be disrupted by your baby, and being able to bring them into your bed to nurse them while you sorta sleep; and (b) the stress of someone being sick.  GOD I hope she’s right.  Otherwise, how am I ever going to cope come July and this little delight is born?!?

Here’s what I’ve decided though: I’m not going to beat myself up about how I’m feeling because it’s not going to make a difference at all.  I’m just going to go with it and do what I need to do to get through the day.  And be grateful.  For what you ask?  Well last night as I was trying to sleep and fretting about missing the cupcake party today, I made a list of what I’m grateful for.  Last night, it looked something like this:

  1. I am grateful for a partner who will hop out of bed to clean up puke in the middle of the night, even though he has a train to catch in the morning, meaning he leaves the house no later than 6:45 every morning.
  2. I am grateful that we have lots of mattress protectors, so it’s not the end of the world when there are 2 accidents in a bed in one day.
  3. I am grateful for washing machines that clean the clothes, sheets, toys etc, so effectively.
  4. I am grateful that while I may be loosing my shi* inside, when my kids are sick all they see is calm and composed me.

This afternoon I would add one more thing to the list: I am grateful for yesterday’s laziness that saw me buy a prepared (but not dressed) spinach salad for dinner that was big enough that there were leftovers for today’s lunch.  So I could be lazy and healthy today.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Family, Sickness/Wellness