gratitude…in whatever form

hand

Today is just one of those days. I set out to be super proud that I made it through last week, but to celebrate, I’ve burned the crap out of my hand, somehow put a scrape on my leg and bruise on my arm and stubbed the hell out of my toe. I have very little makeup on which means I look like leftover hell. The “brown football helmet” I’m sporting doesn’t help things.

Maybe it’s just better if I check myself in to a plastic bubble and also, please don’t look at me, I’m hideous.

I mean…well, it’s kinda funny when you think about it.

I think.

At least, it will be.

When I looked at the calendar, gearing up for last week, I actually got a little concerned about how I would fare. So, quite honestly, a burn, scrape, bruise and stubbed toe is probably my body’s way of telling me that last week kicked my ass. But last week? Well, it also kicked all kinds of ass.

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There was Stanford. There were work deadlines. There was my nephew’s birthday. There were practices and lessons. There was a midnight showing. There was two hours of sleep before getting up for a (wonderful) food drive. There was being so proud of my cute little sixth grader and her school play. And then her school band was in a parade. And then I took the girls to the movies. Again. And then we celebrated Thanksgiving with my inlaws. Which was LOVELY.

And we survived. And my house is only in a tiny bit of a shambles. And I’m thankful and grateful and apparently so excited about it I’m a hazard to my own well-being.

But we crossed off things on the College Bucket List. We did good, you guys. We helped people. I watched my kid blossom…and I could see how much she’s enjoying herself. Which was amazing and wonderful and I’m so stinkin proud of her.

It was a good week. A week to be proud of.

And I’m just so glad that I have this place to write it all down and remember how wonderful and insane it was.

My life is (overly) full. And you know what? I just wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Touring The Farm

So, okay…I’ve stepped outside almost every comfort zone I have this past week. A week ago today, we (softly) launched Cap City Moms. And, well, I’m ridiculously excited and proud of this community of mamas we’re working towards. We’ve made some pretty big plans. And I can’t wait to tell you more.

But this morning, I find myself reeling a little bit from yesterday.

Stanford University - Hoover Tower
Stanford University – Hoover Tower

You would be proud of me. I was very well behaved, believe it or not. I didn’t cry once during the admissions tour and meetings. I didn’t cry when we toured the campus. And I mean, there we were…at STANFORD. Doing the college tour things like we’re supposed to. At MY first choice for her. (And her dad’s first choice for her. And HER first choice…for her.) My big brained child would do well there. It’s hard to get in. But I think she has a pretty good chance.

And she would do so well there. It would be so good for her.

It would also be good for me.

Stanford University - Memorial Church
Stanford University – Memorial Church

I feel like it’s far enough away that she could “go off to school” and have the college experience I am so hoping for her. But it’s close enough that The Dude and I can take off after work one day and take her and her roommates to dinner. (I don’t know…I just figured this would totally be something we would do.) (I promise to not do this super often. I mean, I think I promise.)

It IS Rival Week.
It IS Rival Week.

And honest to goodness I was excited. My goodness, it’s beautiful there. The campus is ginormous, but I could picture her having a blast there. I was so glad we toured with one of her best friends. The two of them were so excited. Not to mention, adorable.

These two. Adorable, yes. Also, ginormous brains
These two. Adorable, yes. Also, ginormous brains

I didn’t cry. Not once.

Well, not until we were almost home at least.

I knew she was overwhelmed by the day. As excited as she was, she couldn’t believe that college wasn’t so far away. Even though we keep talking about it, being on campus and touring made it a lot more real.

For all of us, really.

You guys, I’m just so proud of her. I couldn’t stop thinking about how proud of her we are. And then how proud I am of our family.

And then I told her. And then I cried.

And then she cried.

But it was more from being overwhelmed, I think, than sad or worried or scared. I think it was just a lot for us to take in. A lot to process.

I’m still reeling. And probably more overwhelmed by it than I care to admit.

But I left yesterday knowing that she’s going to be so awesome wherever she ends up going. She’s going to thrive. She’s going to have a blast.

I know (I KNOW) I’m going to be a mess when the time finally arrives.

But you guys? I think we’re all going to be just fine. Really.

stanford

the path to OFF DUTY

The past few days have given me pause top post anything here until I get over my rage. Okay, I haven’t had constant rage for a week, but…well, a good part of it. Our life is insane with two parents sharing tasks. So you can imagine what the insanity looks like when there is only ONE parent. And by the mention of my rage, you can probably guess that the solo parent is ME.

But here’s the thing: I do not have rage because I am solo-parenting it right now.

I have (had) rage because it has also been one of those weeks were SO MANY THINGS have gone wrong. Things that would’ve complicated a regular week. And, yes, some of my frustrations came from breakdown in communication with everyone in my family. It’s good that I know when there are schedule changes for school, practice or lessons. You know, so I can get people where they need to be. I believe there was a child of mine that wasn’t super careful or watchful and the dog ate something she wasn’t supposed to. That’s ALWAYS pleasant. Then there is the getting ready for an out of town tournament. And coordinating all things under the sun so that everyone is where they need to be.

It has been trying. And, honestly, a lot of damn time in the car. In rush-hour traffic. And trying to figure out how we’re just going to make it all work. Especially getting everyone packed and ready to go.

I only hope that I didn’t forget to pack anything.

Spoiler Alert: I PROBABLY FORGOT ALL THE IMPORTANT THINGS.

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But? I’m super looking forward to a fun weekend. Hanging out with some of the funnest parents a softball team has ever seen. I get to see one of my very dearest, wonder-twin friends. And? I’m just telling you all now that I am OFF DUTY as soon as my husband gets back into town. Well, when he gets back into town and then after he drives the three hours to the tournament. BUT THEN.

What am I going to do? Well, watch softball, of course. But I’m not making ONE meal, driving anyone anywhere or cleaning up after ANYONE. Off-Duty is going to be awesome.

And oh so very needed.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends.

 

 

 

photo credit

time: sworn enemy of bucket lists

I couldn’t get my act together for the football game. Well, let’s be honest…we didn’t have a free weekend in all of October and September, really. So attending a high school football game as a family just didn’t happen.

Next year we’ll just have to go to two of them. (I think that’s how it works.)

But hey…Hunger Games tickets HAVE BEEN PURCHASED. So at least we’re not completely sucking!

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I feel proud of the tiny bit of progress we’ve made. But I’m also panicking at HOLY CRAP NOT ENOUGH TIME DO ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW.

Helpful!

But…well, this kind of stuff makes the pressure to get it all done even greater:

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I’m really not a complete mess 100% of the time. When discussing plans for 2015 holiday with my family (yes, we know that’s two years away but whatever) I didn’t even cry as I mentioned that those holidays will be the first of Beezus coming home from school for the holiday break. No really…didn’t cry!

But man, time just keeps going by way to fast and I’m nervous that we won’t get to everything on our bucket list.

I may have to get a little more efficient and surprise her while she’s sleeping. You know, if I’m actually going to surprise her. Does ‘surfing’ the internet count as learning to surf as a family? Or maybe I should start a food fight AFTER we cook one of those fancy dinners.

I feel this is the may be the only way I’m going to keep up with this list.

 

 

 

not exactly how I planned it…

So, the our anniversary weekend didn’t go as planned. My in-laws were going to take the girls Saturday night but ended coming down with a bug. They still were expecting and willing to take the girls, but we just felt bad. Hopefully we can arrange a do-over! But since I was looking forward to having a nice “staycation” with my husband, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. But you know what? It was still a really great couple of days.

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Even though we had staycation plans, we knew that our early Saturday would be busy. Beezus had a big softball practice for the team’s upcoming tournament, so The Dude headed that way with her. Ramona and I headed out to join our family tradition of Pomegranate Weekend.

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The main point of this family tradition is to seed/press the pomegranates for the juice. That juice, in turn, is used to make some pretty fantastic things. Mainly the (somewhat famous, maybe kinda) pomegranate jelly. We also have an amazing tradition of pomegranate punch. But there’s also been pomegranate ice cream and wine made from the fruits of the family labor.

This was the 42nd weekend that our family has gotten together to do this. The process has changed over the years, but it’s still a big deal to all of us. And obviously, this has been a part of my history for more than all of my life. Sometimes sporting events get in the way, but I loved that I could be there for so much this year. And, believe it or not, this was the first year that I took part in every step of jelly making. I think I’m usually outside and not much more than a helper when it came to getting the jelly happening. But this year? Thanks to my aunt and my gram, and (bless you) my cousin, I actually made jelly.

This is probably more shocking to me than most. But still.

I. Made. Jelly.

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Hopefully it’s just as delicious as it should be! But if it’s not, well…it’s really no wonder. I probably shouldn’t have been trusted with all that sugar and juice and such.

* * *

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If you follow Life of Jill on Facebook, you may have seen a few things mentioned about Operation Eleanor. Today is November 4th and NOT TO LATE to join us as we choose to do one thing each day that scares us. And it’s amazing what can happen when you have fear but you do it anyway. Getting out of your own way is job one. Or at least it was for me. Once I got out of my own way, I started seeing a lot clearer…and making some kickass to do lists and some pretty rad plans.

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I hope you’ll join in. It’s amazing…it’s hard…and it’s so very worthwhile.

* * *

I forgot to show you some cute kids on Halloween:

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Or some BABIES that were married 16 years ago that just so happened to be featured on Fancy Pants Weddings.

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Yeah. I don’t have any words either. Except BABIES WE WERE BABIES OMG.

* * *

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This has nothing to do with anything, but this my breakfast yesterday. Actually, Eggs Benedict has everything to do with EVERYTHING so really it’s important that I’ve documented it here.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a lovely weekend…it’s about to be a REALLY busy week for our family over here. So I’m glad that I could look back on a great weekend, even if it REALLY didn’t go as planned.

I’m still holding out for that DO-OVER.

my marriage is now old enough to drive

A few weeks ago, I was headed to pick Beezus up from school. There was a difference in schedules that day, so I was headed out to the high school a little earlier than normal. And as I stopped at a light not far from the school, a truck pulled up next to me.

I thought,

“Huh. That’s funny. That looks like The Dude’s truck.”

Being that I drive a car much lower than the truck, I couldn’t really see in the window. And, like always, my mind was filled on the next thing. Like my to-do list once I picked up my kids.

“Huh…funny. That guy’s arm looks like it could be The Dude.”

And then the truck’s window rolled down and I happened to look over into my husband’s smiling face.

I laughed. I hadn’t expected to see him. And so my mind ignored the possibility that it COULD be him.

Not that I shouldn’t be happy to see him, but this unexpected “running into each other at a stoplight” seeing him made me stupid happy. Like, my heart did that pitter-patter/flip-flop thing.

I rolled down my window, still laughing. And after some funny hello’s, I found myself blurting out,

“It’s my person!”

I don’t know why that stuck with me. And why it still sticks with my now. It makes my heart swell and it still makes me giggle. But there was something about that chance meeting at a stoplight that reminded me how much I love that he’s my person.

So much of this past year has been a near-constant reminder why he’s my partner in crime. We can both be such pains in the ass, but we are better because we have each other. We are a team. We are the balancing act that beats all.

We are beating the all the odds.

anniversary

Someone told me yesterday that The Dude and I did everything right.

And I laughed right out loud.

Because for 16 years as of today, I’ve joked that we did everything backwards and wrong. Because our baby was at our wedding. Because we lived with my in-laws. Because we’ve barely made it through all the obstacles. Because life was so, so hard.

Because we’ve done nothing by the book and nothing by the rules. Okay, almost nothing.

But something that this year has shown me (again) is what a crock of shit those rulebooks often are. Because maybe you have to make your own rules and blaze your own trails because the path on the map doesn’t make any sense. Instead of being worried about our rough beginning, we can be so damn proud of our present and our future. And if someone pays us the compliment of doing everything right, say THANK YOU…and recognize how blessed we really are!

My life is insane and crazy and chaotic and, well, hard. But my life is also full and wonderful and fun and amazing. And sometimes it’s nice to be able to sit back and remember all that.

So who cares that maybe sitting at a stoplight was the best date we’ve had in a while.

Don’t tell my husband, but apparently it doesn’t take much to make me ridiculously happy.

take me out at the ballgame

I knew going into this weekend that I would probably make an ass of myself somehow. Just getting through a normal day without inflicting harm upon myself is a huge accomplishment. Signing on to play a charity softball game? Well, that’s just asking for trouble.

AND YET.

Yesterday, my daughter’s competitive softball team participated in a Play for Pink charity softball tournament that benefited a local chapter of breast cancer awareness and research. However, instead of the girls playing, it was the parents. And the girls were our coaches. It was a wonderful idea! Clever and fun!

I was just as surprised as anyone when I agreed to this. My lack of athletic ability isn’t what any of us would call a secret. It’s amazing that I’ve made it through training and participating for several running events without falling or breaking anything. ::knocks on wood:: But I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t terrified of getting injured. In fact, in the days leading up to the tournament, I had pretty well freaked myself out about the possibility of getting pegged in the head with a softball. No helmets + amateur, out of shape parents = ME GETTING PEGGED IN THE HEAD WITH A SOFTBALL.

I mean…it’s basic math. Right there.

Despite all the warning signs and math problems, we packed the ice chest and BBQ, laced up our tennies and headed out to the softball field yesterday morning. We played catch, warming up…for whatever it was worth. Yes, it’s good to warm up those muscles…and yes, it helped to get us going and moving and out there. But yeah…I wasn’t sure how much it would actually help me play an actual game of softball.

Which brings me to my second fear: STRIKING OUT.

I was somewhat expecting to strike out whenever I was up to bat. I can hit the ball ok during family softball practices…but I was pretty worried about softball stage fright when it came time for me to be up to bat in an actual game with people who don’t love me like my family does. I guess I just didn’t want to embarrass my kid. Or…myself.

*womp* *womp*

I switched off playing outfield in the first game. (Yes, the first game. Because I soon learned that there would be THREE.) And a little ways through the game, it was my turn to be up at bat.

Now what I’m going to tell you, is that I’m a very impatient batter. I just want to GET IT DONE. So I swung at the first pitch like I had been doing this all my life. And, not only did I make contact, but I hit it somewhere near the shortstop. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT…because I was RUNNIN. And I made it to first. Not only had I actually hit the ball, but I was safe! And yes! It probably had everything to do with an error in fielding, but shut up. I made it to first…and dammit let me celebrate because all my excitement is about to come crashing down.

Literally.

I can’t even tell you who was up to bat after me, but they hit the ball right near the second baseman. Force and all that, I was out. But I didn’t even have time to be bummed, because that sonofabitch playing second was trying for a double-play at first base. And HOLY SHIT I WAS IN HIS WAY OMG MY WORST FEAR IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN I’M ABOUT TO GET BEANED IN THE HEAD.

So I ducked.

And then I ate dirt.

Because Momentum, being the bitch that she is, well…she took me right down to the ground. Ducking so that I wouldn’t get hit in the head meant I would hit dirt. Knees scraped, hands raw…sunglasses down HITTING DIRT. For a split second, I do believe I contemplated staying there. BECAUSE WHY NOT.

But I didn’t.

I had some dusting off to do, and some filthy sunglasses to retrieve, as I made the walk of shame from between first and second bases to our dugout. Small blessings as they are, I was the third out, so many of our parents were headed out to take the field. I had a minute to pretend that I wasn’t embarrassed as that transition created a distraction for all of us. I searched for my mitt so that I could head to the outfield.

Except for that’s not what happened. Because I got benched by my own kid.

Being one of the captains of her team, Beezus helped lead the team that called the shots of batting lineups and positions played. And apparently my epic display of athleticism wowed her to the point of benching me.

Insult? Yeah, let’s add you to my injury.

But hey, since I’ve got all this free time on the bench, I might as well laugh with one of the other moms and then Instagram a picture of my battle wound. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOUR FIRST RULE OF THE DAY TO NOT GET HURT GOES RIGHT OUT THE WINDOW AND YOUR KID TOTALLY BENCHES YOU BECAUSE YOU’RE A KLUTZ.

 

Let's Instagram that shit.
Let’s Instagram that shit.

Laughing about it all the way home, as The Dude and I also lamented at how sore we both are, I stop and read the comments on a picture I posted on Facebook.

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I tear up as my aunt tells me how special it is that she’s one of the people we played for. And I’m reminded why I wanted to play in the first place. Because if these amazing women in my life (and people all over the world) can fight to kick cancer’s ass, I can totally make an ASS of myself out on a softball field for them…and for a really wonderful cause.

Do I hurt like hell today? Yes. All the things hurt, especially my knee.

But a great day, with great and wonderful people for an amazing cause makes it all worth it.

Although, amazing people and excellent cause aside for a minute, I have to tell you…I didn’t strike out. Not even once. Like, hit that ball better than I ever thought I would. Even impressed my family!

Yeah, sure…I also embarrassed them with my graceful face-plant in the dirt. But let’s let me have my moment.

However brief it may be.

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (and by Kid, I Mean ME)

Greek Worry Beads
Greek Worry Beads

When I was little, I cried if anyone looked at me cross-eyed. I was scared of men with beards. And if someone laughed at me, I swear it scarred me for life. Since it was easy to make me cry, I was an easy target. Let’s be honest…I was probably super annoying.

I grew out of my fear of facial hair. Crossed eyes aren’t my undoing. And I can laugh at myself fairly often. But I never grew out of being really sensitive. And I have to be aware and careful of those sensitivities.

I (generally) can’t watch the news and will mostly stick to reading the headlines, if that. I avoid certain types of movies and TV shows and books. In fact, Sarah will often tell me about a new show she is watching or book she is reading, stop mid-sentence, and tell me I’m not allowed to watch or read whatever she’s talking about. Even Beezus will talk about something and say “Yeah, Mom…you can’t read/watch that.”

They are my parental-guidance-suggested in real life form.

There have been times, obviously, that I’ve let my guard down. I’ve watched movies that still haunt me. Or books that have burned images in my brain that I wish weren’t there. There are news stories that still wrench all of my guts.

I mean, yeah…I’m probably still really, super annoying.

And there are many times when I feel like a complete and total wimp.

I feel like my sensitivities are weaknesses.

Like I am weak.

But every once in a while, I have moments where I can recognize that God built me this way for a reason. When I can get past my frustrations of being a total weenie, I see the softness for what it is. I am hard-wired to be soft. And to feel.

Honestly, I was hoping that writing this out would maybe make me feel better. That I could recognize the lessons I’ve learned from being so open and so soft-hearted. Like maybe I could remember that soft doesn’t necessarily mean weak. And that maybe having a soft heart allows the love to get out easier.

But instead, I’m not even sure if I want to post this. I’m annoyed and worry that *I’m* annoying. And I haven’t even gotten to the point of what I wanted to say.

Ridiculous AND annoying.

Except for maybe I am the one who is missing the point. And maybe I’m not learning the lessons that I need to be learning. And that when my heart is breaking for friends or I’m sick with worry for another…that maybe I need to take this soft heart that I have and apply it to my damn self. Or maybe it’s a reminder to all of us to take care of ourselves and our health and well-being. Or that we all remember that life is short and to love our people.

I don’t know what I’m meant to or what I should say. Except that I’m truly sorry if you are hurting or sad or worrying or angry. And if there is a prayer or good thought or giant internet hug, I’m sending all that I have to you.

And maybe that’s my answer. That there is no point.

Just a whole lotta love headed your way.

Because that’s just how it’s supposed to be.

my truth about consequences

It’s hard to raise children in the Miley Cyrus “do what we want to” society. I could take the time to find the real name to that song, but I just don’t want to. I usually change the station whenever it comes on the radio. Mostly because I’d get a mental image of twerking and oversized stuffed animals and there’s not enough bleach for my brain. But also because I’m trying to teach my kids about consequences. Because that’s a real part of life. The kind of real life that not everyone likes to talk about.

My dad used to make a big deal about reminding us kids about consequences. And even if we rolled our eyes every time you brought it up, Dad…we listened. I didn’t have a conference call just now with all my siblings, I’m totally basing this on the lives that we all lead. We actually paid attention to what you said and all five of us are upstanding citizens raising kids that are looking like they will carry on the Upstanding Citizens title.

Because of consequences. And the knowledge that every choice and every decision has a consequence.

Oftentimes, when we hear the word “consequence” we immediately think of a bad result of something we did.

I drove to fast. Thanks for the ticket, Mr. Policeman!
I lied to my mom. Now I’m in trouble.
I ate that giant cupcake. Now my giant ass is gianter.

But all consequences aren’t bad. Making good choices and good decisions lead to, sometimes, the most amazing consequences.

I worked hard on that project. I feel accomplished and people respect my work.
I washed my windshield. Holy crap, I can actually see out this window.
I hugged my child instead of yelling. We both feel better and are actually talking out the problem.

Don’t get me wrong…none of us are perfect and we’re all going to make mistakes.

That’s not what this is about. It’s the mentality that so many people have that what they do doesn’t matter. That they can “do what they want to” and no one else is affected.

“It’s our life and we can do what we want to.”

That’s true. It is yours and you can. And you can sing with your tongue hanging out and twerk your way through life doing all the things you want.

But there are consequences. Even if it’s only complete and total shame when looking back 20 years from now. (But, then again, maybe no one will care.)

Telling your kids they can be anything they want is absolutely true. But I don’t believe that gives them a free pass to do whatever they want. And I have reached this level of frustration that I can’t even explain. I just feel it. I feel it every time I see something in the news where “doing what you want” lands a group of college kids in jail and lives ruined. Or when I hear about a middle school aged child bringing a weapon to school. When someone drives under the influence. When a celebrity (and countless others) die of a drug overdose. Or when someone doesn’t pay attention to where they start their campfire.

There are consequences. Sometimes terrible and tragic and sad ones.

I know there are extenuating circumstances that can’t all be addressed here. There are exceptions to my rant and I do try to find compassion for those that can’t understand. Or who haven’t been given the tools to understand.

My frustration comes from the blatant disregard for life’s consequences. Those that seek to hurt others. To break rules without caring. Or those that just don’t care in general. We are not invincible. And our actions affect other people.

In our family, we talk a lot about choices. Making good choices. How happiness is a choice. And how our choices and decisions have consequences.

With all the songs and TV shows and news reports that give examples otherwise, I hope it’s enough. I hope my conversations matter to my kids. Even if they just humor me right now (yeah, sorry about that Dad) I hope that it leaves an impression on them like it did me. I hope they can remember just how important consequences are.

remember that time we laughed so hard during wedding pictures?

Nothing snaps you back to reality after a fun wedding weekend filled with family like a puking kid early (EARLY) Monday morning. We’ll all just sit here and be incredibly relieved that Pukeapalloosa 2013 didn’t ruin any wedding festivities. I mean, what else CAN you do?

(Nothing. You can do nothing about pukes.)

But you know what will make you feel better? Wedding dancing!

 

 

I loved having my family in town. Like, super loved it. Especially having all of my siblings together.

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It’s not that I forget how much fun we have when we’re all together; I guess I just don’t really think about it when we can’t be in the same location. And then when we spent so much time together for the past week? Going back to normal life is a little bit of a bummer. Adding a sick kid on top of that is just adding insult to injury. (Although, look how cute they all are?)

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But you know what? I love that we have so much fun together. I love that we added one more to our family. I love these people so much. I just do.

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And I’m pretty excited to add another wonderful sister in-law that puts up with our really, really crazy family.

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So yeah…I’m coming down off my family high. And I’m missing everyone already.

It’s just…well, it would be A LOT more fun cleaning and doing laundry (even yucky laundry) if they were here too.

Love you guys.