Thursday, May 28, 2009

This Just Might Work!

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Gentle, who inspires me to strive for excellence as a wife and mother. A few months ago, when Allyson and I went over for a play date with her son Liam, Gentle happened to show me their master bathroom.

I commented at how clean her vanity was, and she gestured to the hanging shoe organizer on the back of the bathroom door. She had all of her bathroom supplies neatly tucked into the pockets, which were labeled with little typed cards. There was a place for everything, and everything was in its place!

Gentle confessed that her bathroom counter used to be a jumbled mess, and she just couldn't seem to keep it neat. But ever since she'd hung the shoe organizer, she had never backslid into her old haphazard ways. "You should get one, too!" she suggested.

"Maybe I'll do it," I said halfheartedly.

I was skeptical. For one thing, I secretly doubted that Gentle could EVER have been messy, let alone as messy as me. Her entire house is always impeccably clean even though she's busy chasing after a toddler all day (and now a new baby, too).

Secondly, I just couldn't imagine letting go of my slovenly habits. On the whole, I try to keep our house presentable, and there are certain things that I won't tolerate, like pee on or around the toilet. (Keeping up with the pee has been a daily chore ever since Ethan started standing up to pee. Before I married Bill, I let Ethan believe that everyone peed sitting down, but when Bill joined the household, he said it was just WRONG to make a 5-year-old sit down to pee. Now, I think he regrets saying anything.)

Anyway, I try to be a good housekeeper, but our gargantuan bathroom counter is the one area that I completely ignore unless we're having overnight company--to whom we usually relinquish the master suite while we sleep on the pull-out couch that used to be remarkably comfortable but now is remarkably lumpy. Here's what our vanity usually looks like (if not worse):

What you can't see in the photo--because the digital camera was dead and I had to use the video camera--is the hair all over the place. The reason I never clean it is that it's too much trouble to put away/move all the junk on the counter so that I can wipe it all off. So the hair builds up, along with the paraphernalia, until I either can't stand to look at it another minute or until we have company coming.

Ever since I'd seen Gentle's sparkling vanity, I'd been hearing her voice in my head each time I looked in disgust at my own bathroom. She actually asked me a couple of times whether I'd bought my shoe organizer yet, but I told her I hadn't gotten around to looking, and then I guess we both thought I'd never follow through.

A couple of weeks ago, Bill's parents came for a visit, and the vanity stayed clean for ten whole days (because I wasn't using it)! "Man, it would be nice if it was clean like this all the time," I thought.

So I decided that my Memorial Day weekend project would be to buy a shoe organizer and get rid of all the clutter. I found a natural colored canvas one at Bed Bath and Beyond for $14.95. First, I hung it on the bathroom door and put all the items that I use frequently into the slots. I tried to put the dangerous stuff like hairspray at the top, and the most frequently used stuff in the middle. The more obscure objects, like band-aids, went on the bottom.

Next, I typed up labels on business card paper using a large font. I laid the organizer out on the floor and pinned each label, from the back, with a safety pin. That was a little tricky until I figured out the right angle. I only stuck myself once, and I managed to avoid getting a blood stain on the crisp new fabric.

This is how it looked after Bill helped me hang it back up:

And here's how the vanity looked after I polished the counters and washed the mirrors:

Now if we could just replace the giant mirrors with three smaller, ornate mirrors and get rid of the 90s garden wallpaper, I would actually like the bathroom! In any case, it's a vast improvement.

I proudly showed Bill how to use the new system. He eyed the clean counter dubiously. "It might work," he offered.

It's now been four days, and I'm proud to report that the counter still looks as clean as it did on Sunday. Each time I drop the brush or contact solution or moisturizer into its pouch, I mentally pat myself on the back. Who knew that keeping the counter clean could be so fun?

The best part is that, because everything I use regularly is readily accessible, I almost never have to venture into this dark cavern any more:

You may recall that this cabinet was part of a recent misadventure--I was looking for sanitary supplies, which were the only things NOT in this cabinet. Incidentally, guess what I found in my laptop case yesterday when I was frantically searching for my cell phone charger? Yep, the mother lode of pads and tampons. Now why didn't I think to look in the laptop case?

As I rummaged through this scandalously messy cabinet on Sunday, I contemplated buying the canvas totes that match the shoe organizer. I could type up some more labels and.... Ugh. Maybe next month!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Taste of Heaven

I've been thinking a lot about heaven recently because I've been reading a book that my aunts Carol and Donna recommended when I posted an entry about my fear of death. The book is Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, and it's really making me long for heaven.

For a few short minutes today at church, I felt almost as if I were in heaven already. We sang a song that absolutely thrills my heart, "Our Great God," by Fernando Ortega and Mac Powell. I love the song so much that I'm going to download it.

Here are the words:
Eternal God, Unchanging, Mysterious and unknown.
Your boundless love unfailing, In grace and mercy shown.
Bright seraphim in endless flight around your glorious throne.
They raise their voices day and night in praise to you alone.

Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!
Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!

Lord, We are weak and frail, Helpless in the storm.
Surround us with your angels, Hold us in your arms.
Our cold and ruthless enemy, His pleasure is our harm.
Rise up, O Lord, And he will flee before our Sovereign God.

Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!
Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!

Let every creature in the sea and every flying bird;
Let every mountain, Every field and valley of the earth;
Let all the moons and all the stars in all the universe
Sing praises to the Living God, Who rules them by His word.

Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!
Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!

The first verse made me think of heaven, and that unfathomable moment when I will first behold the face of our eternal, mysterious God--when I will know Him and be known.

The third verse gave me chills, and tears streamed down my cheeks as I sang, my hands raised up to the Living God. It was if I were all alone with God, and yet intimately connected with every other living creature, part of the universe's joyous chorus of praise.

I can praise God anywhere, and some of my favorite times of worship occur when I'm out on my bike and surrounded by the beauty of creation. But there's something so special about praising God in church with fellow believers.

Next, we sang "How Great Thou Art," and I felt my heart would burst when I sang, "Then sings my soul...." I had to put my hand on my heart--where I imagine my soul must be. The woman next to me must have been feeling the same thing. She was patting her heart and sobbing audibly. After the service, I gave her a hug and told her how much I enjoyed worshiping with her.

Can you imagine what it will be like when we are all worshiping God face to face, with people from every nation and every age in history? In the meantime, I'm so thankful for moments like these when we can experience just a fraction of the joy that awaits us in heaven.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Wasn't Trained for This!

Something's up with my kids this week. They can't get along with each other. With their nine-year age difference, I never expected them to argue, but they do. Allyson has learned to push Ethan's buttons, and he makes no attempt to rein in his temper.

For example, one day they were swinging in the backyard together after school, and I basked in the warm feelings of their sibling bond while I cooked dinner. Suddenly, Ethan's shrill, prepubescent shrieks shattered the peace. I raced outside to see if he might have been attacked by bees.

Ethan was obviously in no pain, just furious. "She's using my middle name! Make her stop!" he hissed.


"She's calling me Ethan Montgomery."

"But that's your name," I said, pretending to be mystified.

"You only call me Ethan Montgomery when I'm in trouble," he explained.

"Well, she's not doing anything wrong," I said. "I can hardly punish her for calling you by your name."

"Ethan Montgomery! Ethan Montgomery!" Allyson sang, and Ethan shrieked again.

The first couple of times, I laughed, but I quickly started fantasizing about a Calgon bath and a few swigs of my cheap cooking wine.

"MAKE IT STOP!" I pleaded mentally, of no one in particular.

There are moments when the two of them make my heart glad--like last night, when Ethan asked for a kiss goodnight and Allyson pulled down his (sweaty) head with both hands and planted a kiss on the crown of his head.

One of Those Moments

And then there are the moments like the one a few short minutes later when Allyson came into Ethan's room to wish him goodnight for the fourth time, and he snarled at her to get out of his room. Seeing her quivering lower lip and her hunched shoulders as she trudged back to bed literally brought tears to my eyes.

I think Ethan and I had a meaningful conversation when I tucked him in a bit later. I reminded him how much Allyson adores him and how much it hurts her when he's cruel. I recounted Allyson's lament a from few days earlier: "I love Ethan so, so much, but he's so mean."

Ethan was unmoved. "It's all her fault. She's just so annoying."

"Ethan, she's two (for three more weeks, anyway). Try to look past her annoying side and see the sweet side."

"I tried that," he said flatly. "She's just too annoying."

I tried to abstain from lecturing and take advantage of this opportunity to impart some wisdom; as long as I kept scratching his back, he was a captive audience. I told him how much he'd appreciate his sister someday, how much I appreciate my own brother and sisters. I asked him if he enjoys spending time with all his cousins, and he couldn't deny that he does. "If I didn't have a good relationship with my siblings, you would miss out on all those fun times," I said.

I also reminded him of how Jesus loves us even when we don't deserve it, and how he expects us to forgive others as we've been forgiven. He didn't argue that point, at least.

I told him he needs God's help in order to love Allyson even when she makes him angry.
During our bedtime prayer, I asked God to help him and Allyson see the best in each other, and asked the Holy Spirit to help Ethan guard his words.

Allyson's Mean Streak
Lest I should feel too sorry for poor little Allyson, she got into some trouble of her own this week. When Bill picked her up from the sitter on Tuesday, he learned that she'd hit her friends Lucy and Katie. Then she refused to apologize or even explain why she did it.

When we questioned her, she said the girls had been pretending to bite her. We surmised that they must have been rough-housing, and she'd gotten carried away like she does when Daddy tickles her.

Rough-Housing with Uncle Rick

I calmly explained that we can't hit people, even when we are playing. She slumped over a kitchen chair and hid her face. "I'm tired!" she whined. (This is her latest excuse whenever she doesn't want to clean up her toys or take responsibility for her actions.)

"Hitting hurts," I told her. "If we hurt our friends, they might not want to play with us any more."

The next line could have been delivered by Ethan: "I usually play by myself."

This morning, I reminded her when I dropped her off that she mustn't hit, and she agreed cheerfully.

This evening, Bill got off work early, so we all rode bikes over to get Allyson. It was a gorgeous evening, not too hot if we rode in the shade, and my spirits were high--until they were dashed the minute I walked through Alex's door.

"Look at your daughter," she said wryly. Allyson was curled up on the couch by herself in the playroom. She was clearly pouting. "She's been like that for an hour, and she won't speak, won't eat. She's basically put herself on time out."

From what Alex could tell, Allyson had punched Lucy in the stomach because Lucy wouldn't let her play with a certain doll. Alex tried to get her side of the story, but she refused to speak.

I was at a loss for words. "I'll try to deal with it," I promised. "She's never acted like this before."

We gathered up her uneaten snack and loaded her into the bike trailer. As he strapped her in, Bill asked her what had happened, and she confirmed Alex's report. At least she was willing to talk to us.

When we got home, I told her there would be no TV at bedtime tonight. She cried a bit because she'd just checked out a Wiggles video at the library and was supposed to watch it for the first time after her bath.

At bathtime, I offered her an out. "Maybe we could call Lucy and you could tell her you're sorry," I suggested. "That would make both of you feel better. And then you could watch your new video."

"I don't want to watch the Wiggles video," she said coolly. "I'll just watch Noggin [a preschool channel]."

"No, honey, you're not watching ANY television tonight because you hurt Lucy and you wouldn't tell her you were sorry."

I watched Allyson square her shoulders and set her jaw. "I don't want to watch TV tonight," she said resolutely.

"Okay, then."

We read a few stories, and I tucked her into her tiny bed. During bedtime prayers, I thanked Jesus for her friends Lucy and Katie and asked God to help them learn to be kind to each other.

A Little Help, Here!
So what do I do next? I feel ill prepared for struggles like this. Allyson, I think, is not the typical two-year-old. Time out doesn't seem to be a valid option since she gave herself time out and didn't seem bothered by it. Spanking isn't a logical way to teach her not to hit. She's impervious to psychology--reverse or otherwise. She's as headstrong as... as... as I was at her age.

Yet she's also the sweetest, most loving little thing. When I snuggle with her in the mornings, I can't believe my tender girl could be capable of hitting anyone.

Of course, I'm praying about this. I'm also reminding myself of my first memory passage in Proverbs 31, through which God has promised that I will "speak with wisdom" and that "faithful instruction will be on my tongue."

Well, I'm fresh out of wise words and faithful instruction tonight. I'm open to suggestions. Has anyone else dealt with this sort of behavior? What else can I do?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And Here Come the Carrots

This morning I spotted the tiny carrot sprouts. Neat how they stand straight up like the stems on a carrot top.

The real stars of The Family Garden are the green beans. They've gone beyond sprouts and are now leafy green plants. Unfortunately, the bugs seem to find them irresistible.

This morning I finally sprayed my home-made, almost organic pesticide on them, and it rained ten minutes later. Hard. So I sprayed them again this afternoon, but now I'm worried that two doses of cayenne pepper (along with onions, jalapenos, and tons of garlic) in one day might stunt their growth.

Tonight at bedtime, Allyson and I prayed for the garden to flourish. Allyson piped up, "And please tell the bugs to stop eating our bedge-tables!"

Then she said, "But Mommy, maybe the bugs are just hungry."

"Yes, I'm sure they are, Baby. But they need to find something else to eat."

Man, I hope these veggies make it. I'm already ridiculously attached to them. Maybe I should start talking to them every morning. Or do you think they'd be more in the mood for conversation in the evening? I'd better read up on it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Our Day at the Ranch

While Bill's parents were here, we took a three-day mini vacation. On our first day, we stayed at a ranch Deep in the Heart of Texas. It was a working ranch with longhorns, horses, six llamas, and a dog named Rosco. There are seven cabins, but I think we were the only family there because it was a Thursday.

Unfortunately, there weren't a lot of activities going on during the week--such as the chuckwagon dinner I'd been looking forward to--but we still managed to have fun.

After we checked out our cabin, we walked a half mile or so up to the big house for Allyson's free pony ride. We were escorted by Rosco, who went everywhere with us. He would have been very lovable had it not been for his propensity to roll in mud puddles and then rub up against our legs.

It turned out that the "pony" was actually a big horse named Apache, but Allyson wasn't at all afraid. As she rode around the yard, she never stopped grinning. She sat tall in the saddle, her hair waving lazily in the slight breeze. The ranch wife, Tracy, said she was a natural.

Meanwhile, Nana, Ethan and I sat at a picnic table in the shade, next to the chuckwagon that we would not be eating from. After Allyson's ride, Bill and his dad stood and talked to Tracy and her husband for quite some time while sweat trickled down our backs.

Back at the cabin, I settled on the couch for a short nap while the guys drove 20 minutes (each way) into Glen Rose to buy groceries. We could have eaten out, but we decided it would be more fun to grill steaks on the charcoal barbecue.

I guess it's been years since I had anything grilled over charcoal, but I couldn't believe how incredibly delicious the ribeyes were. Sandi didn't marinate them at all, just tossed them on the grill. Even Allyson gobbled her half a steak and asked for more.

After dinner, Bill and Jim watched their Canucks' playoff game. (We were shocked that the cabin had the Versus channel on satellite.) The rest of us sat in the giant hot tub for about an hour. The temperature was perfect, and it was mostly relaxing except when we were caught in the crossfire of Ethan and Allyson's splash wars. We stayed in the water until the stars came out, but the full moon was so bright that we couldn't see too many stars.

It was such a lovely night that we were reluctant to go to bed even though we were exhausted. Sandi, Ethan, and I sat on the porch swing and listened to the night sounds while we contemplated the vast sky. We wondered whether there could be other life out there in the universe somewhere.

I felt very small, but not insignificant. I felt God all around me in the gentle sway of the trees, and I rejoiced that he has given us the capacity to revel in the joys of nature. Surely all the beauty in this world isn't really NECESSARY; no, I think it is a gift for our pleasure--and his. I get the feeling that God delights in surprising us with the wonders of his creation.

Finally, Sandi and Jim settled into the bedroom while the rest of us climbed up the steep ladder into the loft. (Allyson loved climbing the ladder, but getting her down was a major ordeal.) Ethan and Allyson each had a twin bed, and there was a double bed for me and Bill. We were all out in minutes, but Allyson woke up an hour or two later when she fell out of bed with a thunk. She slept blissfully in the middle of our small bed for the rest of the night, but her kicking and thrashing seriously hindered our slumber.

Ethan was up by seven, excited to go fishing in the pond. We opened our eyes to find him standing over us. "Is it time to go?" he asked. Bill stumbled out of bed, but I smiled and rolled over, snuggling Allyson's warm body against my chest.

Two hours later, when we finally got up, the guys were just returning. We were basking on the front porch in the morning sun when we spotted Ethan running across the field, his fishing pole held high and a proud grin lighting up his face. He was breathless with fishing stories.

They'd hiked to the fishing hole, where Ethan promptly caught a turtle! (He released it, of course.) Next, he caught a tiny bass with Grandpa's help. Bill caught two more bass that were a bit bigger. It was a catch and release pond, though, so we didn't get to enjoy a breakfast of fresh fish.

The biggest adventure was when Bill's line got tangled on a tree trunk. Jim fearlessly shimmied his way across a fence, just inches above the water, to untangle the line. He probably could have used some help, but Bill was too busy laughing and taking pictures.

Anyway, they made it home in time for a breakfast of leftover steak and eggs--yum!--and no one got wet.

My favorite moment occurred on the way out. We had bought sugar cubes for the coffee, and Allyson wanted to feed some to the horses. We stopped in the pasture, and they all clustered around us. I was amazed by the velvety feel of the horses' lips, and by the intelligence in their gaze. Not being a "horse person," I'd never felt such a connection with a horse--or any other animal. Just as I thought, "Thank you for this moment, Lord," one of the horses nuzzled my neck! It felt like God had just kissed me! Granted, I had just fed the horse a sugar cube, but I don't know.... It reminded me of the time last summer when I thought God had sent me a dolphin.

Allyson was torn between delight and anxiety; she hid behind my legs like she used to do when she was a toddler. Ethan seemed perfectly at ease. Bill had to drag us away so we could begin part two of our little vacation: the safari camp at the nearby wildlife preserve. But that's another story.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Lettuce Is Up!

Yesterday, after just four days, we were amazed to see tiny sprouts in the lettuce rows. Aren't they cute?

Lettuce Sprout

It was fitting that the little shoots came up yesterday because my Mother's Day gift consisted of various gardening tools: a tiny rake, pink gloves, a little trowel, a spray bottle for my pesticide concoction, and a fancy sprayer for watering/showering/misting/power washing. (It looks like you could power wash with it, but I'll try not to wash away our sweet little sprouts.)

Ethan was so excited for me to open my gift. He'd picked out the sprayer himself, and he couldn't wait for me to see it. While we tried to enjoy the fancy breakfast he and Bill had prepared, he hounded us continually. In fact, he was just as anxious for me to open this gift as he had been about opening his own birthday gifts a week before. Of course, I was delighted when I finally gave in and opened the present at 10:05 AM.

Ethan and I are both excited to try out the new toys, though I'm a little nervous, too. I hope I'll be able to distinguish the weeds from the veggies. I'm sure Allyson would love to get her hands on the tools, too, but I'll try my hardest to keep our little garden safe from wayward trowels and spades....

This afternoon, we spotted the newborn bean sprouts! Woo-hoo!

Green Bean

Allyson asked if we could eat them, but I told her it would be 71 more days. (She loves green beans.) This evening she had the pleasure of calling Nana--who flew back home this morning--to tell her the good news.

I'm sure Nana must have been impressed. I'm pretty sure she said it would be several days before anything else would sprout. I guess our garden is just a little exceptional!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Veggies and Creepy Crawlies

Today was a perfect day. Bill's parents are visiting from Vancouver, British Columbia, and we had the most fun here at home. We planted a vegetable garden in the corner of our backyard!

First Bill and his dad, Jim, built a little wall of paving stones and filled the area with 35 bags of gardening soil. This was the most fascinating part for Allyson. She was delighted and amazed with all the creepy, crawly creatures that Bill's shovel turned up. There was a writhing mass of ants, wriggling worms, a slimy slug (that Bill picked up with his bare hands!), a partly severed centipede that ran in circles in the wheel barrow, and a good-sized frog.

Allyson was not afraid of any of these. In fact, she picked up several rolly-polly beetles and a worm. She held them out to me and Bill's mom, Sandi, but we preferred to examine them from afar.

Bill managed to catch the frog, and while he was showing it to Allyson, it let out a gush of fluid. "It peed on me!" he said with a grimace.

"You'd better hope it's pee and not some toxic fluid," Sandi said.

You're not going to believe what Allyson said next. (I find it hard to believe myself.) "It's the frog flu!" she shouted. Obviously, we've been doing way to much joking about the swine flu around here.

Once the soil was prepared, the whole family headed to Home Depot to buy seeds and seedlings. By this time, Ethan was home from school, and I was surprised at his enthusiasm. I never knew he'd be so interested in planting vegetables. (Hopefully he'll be just as interested in EATING them in about 75 days.)

We bought two kinds of tomatoes, banana peppers, yellow bell peppers, yellow squash, green beans, two kinds of lettuce, and carrots. Ethan picked out the banana peppers since they are his favorite, and Allyson carefully selected pot after pot of tiny seedlings.

After an ice cream break at the Sonic drive-in, we came back home and planted our veggies. Everyone except me got filthy; I busied myself taking pictures and fetching supplies, ice water, etc.

See Ally's Dirty Face!

Under Nana's watchful eye, Ethan gently nestled the seedlings in their new beds. Then he made about six furrows for the seeds. Ethan meticulously spaced the tiny seeds, but Allyson dropped them in bunches.

Ally and Nana Planting Carrots

Sandi and Jim struggled to plant the tomatoes in the funny Topsy Turvy upside-down planter. The TV infomercial claims that planting is effortless, but we thought it was pretty darn confusing. Bill hung the planter from the pergola, where I hope the dangling tomatoes will be out of the dog's reach. (I still have flashbacks about the violent death of TWO tomato plants last spring.)

Tomorrow I'll concoct a noxious brew of onions, garlic, jalapeno peppers, and dish soap to keep away the pests. I can't believe I'm this enthused over an insecticide recipe!

Now we wait. It seems impossible to believe that soon we'll be eating vegetables from our own backyard. Ethan and I are so excited! Maybe this will teach us both some patience.

The Finished Garden

Monday, May 4, 2009

Asleep in No Time...Not!

Allyson finally got her big girl bed last week, one month before her third birthday. She and Daddy put it together while I was on my birthday shopping spree, and she was beside herself with excitement when she showed me the bed for the first time. In fact, she wanted to go to bed right away even though it was only about 6:00 and still bright outside.

"No, honey, it's not bedtime yet," I explained.

"Can I take a nap?" she asked. (I never thought I'd hear those words coming out of her mouth!)

"It's kind of late for a nap," I protested. "You can go to bed when it gets dark."

A few minutes later, I was folding laundry when I heard Allyson calling me. I found her snuggled under her mismatched quilt on her new bed and clutching her favorite dolly. She had closed the curtains and turned on the little noisemaker that she used to listen to during nap time.

"Read me a story! I'll fall asleep in no time," she predicted.

I stifled my laughter and grabbed a Cat in the Hat book. I knelt beside her and started reading. About five minutes later, Ethan and his four friends, who were spending the night for his twelfth birthday, returned from Blockbuster. The moment Allyson heard their voices downstairs, she leapt out of bed and ran down to join in the fun.

A couple of hours later, it was actually time for bed, and I snapped some shots of her while Daddy tucked her in. She was still excited about the new bed, but I wondered if she'd stay in it when we left the room.

Just as I'd expected, she was in her doorway about a minute later. "I just want to say good night," she explained.

"Good night! Go back to bed."

Another minute later: "I just need a drink...."

"...I just need to go potty...."

"...I just need to read a story...."

"I just need you to pray again, Mommy...."


We hoped her restlessness was due to the novelty of the toddler bed and the excitement of the sleepover, but this has been her nightly pattern. It's driving us crazy!

Still, she's so cute. She rotates all the way around in her tiny bed; when we check on her, her feet might be hanging off the side or resting on her pillow. As often as not, she ends up on the floor.

I have to face it: my baby is gone! In fact, she's so big that she told her first knock-knock joke the other day, and it was actually funny....


"Who's there?"


"Allyson who?"

"Mama! You know who I am!" she giggled uproariously. She repeated this joke at least 10 times in a row, and she laughed harder every time. She was enjoying herself too much for me to get tired of it.

Sigh.... I should know this is the way of it. Ethan's TWELVE, for crying out loud. I can't complain, though. What a privilege it is to watch my children growing and developing their own personalities.


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