Thursday, March 3, 2016

VoxBox Review: L'Oreal RevitaLift Volume Filler

I'm so excited to be reviewing another VoxBox!  This time, I got to try the L'Oreal RevitaLift Volume Filler products, and I can't wait to show you a before and after photo!

Before I write out my review, it's important to note that I have dry, blotchy skin and that pregnancy makes it worse for me.  As far as my skin goes, I've been lucky to have fairly "good" skin for most of my life.  I never really dealt with awful acne as a teen and have only ever had to use facial lotion to keep my skin hydrated.  But, I've been noticing lately that I have pretty noticeable dark spots under my eyes, wrinkles on my forehead, and fairly noticeable veins on the upper part of my eye lids {thanks, kids!}.  I'm going to be 32 this summer, and I'm only now realizing that I could be taking better care of my skin.  Cue the RevitaLift voxbox!

Here's what came in the box:


  • Eye Treatment {to reduce under-eye hollows and and sunken shadows}
  • Concentrated Serum {intensive face serum to replenish skin's fullness}
  • Day Cream {to replenish skin's fullness, smooth lines and fine wrinkles}
  • Night Cream {to recover skin's fullness while sleeping, and smooth lines and wrinkles}
Stock Photo...but this is what actually came in the VoxBox

I'll admit that when I first opened the VoxBox, I was intimidated.  All my life, I've been a soap and water kind of girl.  At most, I'd follow that up with a bit of lotion on my face.  And now here's this box with not one but FOUR different products that I was supposed to be using.  The first day I tried the products, it took em almost 20 minutes to figure out which product went where and in what order.  I'm proud to say that, 4 weeks later, I've got it down pat and the whole routine takes me about 4 minutes tops.  And that's only because I take my time while I'm doing it.

So...for my review.  I LOVE this line.  Like, seriously love it, and am ridiculously grateful that I was chosen to test it out.  It's incredibly easy to use, and every product in the line goes on smoothly and leaves my skin feeling hydrated and soft.  And I really love that I can use the night cream before bed and it basically works for me while I'm sleeping.  I'm going to post a before and after photo below, but want to clarify here, too, that this product has been a game changer for me.  My skin is smoother and less blotchy after using it, my under-eye circles are hardly noticeable, wrinkles on my forehead are less noticeable, and the pesky veins that I have around my eyelids are nearly gone.  And my skin feels SO damn SMOOTH after I use it.

The great thing about these VoxBoxes is that the products we receive are all full-sized.  And, as far as the RevitaLift products go, a little bit goes a long way.  So, in a month, I still haven't had to replace them yet, which is awesome.  Because I haven't had to stock up on more of it, though, I don't know off the top of my head how much it actually costs.  BUT...when I do run out, I will be buying more of this line, regardless of the price.  That's how much I like it.  I don't typically buy much for myself and I very rarely "splurge" on anything that's just for me.  But this is one thing that I absolutely will splurge on for myself in the future.  And that's saying a lot.

Check out my photos below {and ignore the goofy faces I was making...and my crazy hair}.  The first photo was taken before I started using the RevitaLift line.  Notice the under-eye darkness, the wrinkles on my forehead, the uneven skin tone, and the veins around my eye lids.  And then check out the after photo, which was taken just this week.  My eye brows are raised...and no wrinkles on my forehead!  And where did those under-eye circles go?  And my blotchy skin?  I didn't use a filter in either of the photos, and I'm wearing the exact same amount of makeup in both (eye liner on upper and lower lash line and a bit of mascara on the top lashes...that's it).  To me, there's a very noticeable difference in these two photos.



I've tried A LOT of VoxBoxes over the past year, and I've liked just about all of them.  This is the only one that I can say I was 110% satisfied with and would continue to purchase and use the products in the future.  Give it a try and see what kinds of results you get!



*I received these products free from Influenster for testing purposes.*

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Bailey's Mid-Year Kindergarten Conference


WARNING:  I'm a ridiculously proud mom right now, so I'm going to spend this post gushing about my daughter and how amazing she is.  Read at your own risk.  ;-)



I had Bailey's conference this morning and I'm blown away by how well she's doing.  Her teacher describes her as quiet and shy (the complete opposite of what she's like at home), and as an example for the class.  She can recognize and write all 26 letters of the alphabet (uppercase and lowercase), numbers 0-30, can count to 100 and beyond without help.  She can recognize rhyming words, though she has a hard time producing them, which we've noticed at home, too.  Her handwriting is getting better and better, and she's gotten the hang of starting sentences with a capital letter and ending them with some form of punctuation.  She's reading short books with small words on her own, can sound out and spell random words, recognizes all 14 sight words they've learned so far and then some, can write both her first and last name without help, and is just doing great all-around.



When she started Kindergarten back in August, she was placed in the full day program, based on how she tested.  The full day program is available for kids who tested lower than their peers and/or who needed more help.  The goal is to bridge the gap between what the full day Kindergarteners and their half day peers are able to do in terms of education, so that when they all move on to first grade next year everyone is on or near the same level.  Bailey's teacher told me that she's already bridged that gap and will do perfectly fine in first grade next year.  

As far as being with other kids, she says Bailey is a good friend and gets along well with everyone.  I already knew she would, but it's nice to hear it from someone who is unbiased.  Especially since Bailey has been something of an over-emotional diva at home since school started.  My only concern, and one that the teacher noted she'd look into, is Bailey's speech.  Not all of it; she's been speaking pretty clearly since she was around 2.  She has trouble with her "th-" blend.  Instead of making the blend sound, she pronounces it like an "s" {"Sank you!"} or a "d" {"dem" instead of "them"; "dey" instead of "they"}.  And when she writes, she sounds out her words the same way, and she writes them they way they sound to her.  There's a note on her bedroom door that says:

"Bailey's Room.
Sanc you"

I had to ask her what the bottom part of it said..."Sank you, mom.  Like, sank you for not coming into my room."  Her teacher says it's fairly normal and may be attributed to the fact that she's got a missing tooth front and center, but that she'll mention it to the speech teacher and see if she has any tips for working on it with her.  Other than that, though, she's doing amazingly well, and we couldn't be prouder!


Wacky Wednesday at school...dress wacky!  




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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Baby Number 3: 35 Weeks

Sooooooo....it's becoming "real", you guys.  I've got 5 weeks left of this pregnancy {let's be honest...probably closer to 6 or 7 weeks with the way my babies tend to stay in forever}, and I'm feeling everything.  Most days I vacillate between sheer joy that there will be another teeny baby in the house, abject terror that Scott and I will be officially outnumbered, sadness that this is likely my last pregnancy, and feeling anxious to meet the baby.  It's a crazy mix, I tell ya.  A crazy mix.

Physically, I'm in survival mode.  As I'm typing this, little man is wiggling around like a ninja on crack.  Every once in awhile, I'll feel his butt or his head or some other limb (seriously, how do all these women really know what's what in there?) poking out.  More often than not these days, his movements are painful.  But so is just about everything else.  And the exhaustion?  Ridiculous.  By the time 5pm rolls around, I feel like I've been hit by a train and am just being dragged along the tracks.  So much more tired this time around than in either of my other pregnancies.  Sleep is amazing...except that I'm not getting any.  Heartburn is a bitch these days, and it keeps me awake for hours at a time during the night.  And, Scott, if you're reading this, I love you.  Like crazy.  But there have been so many nights where I've just wanted to punch you in that handsome face of yours for being able to sleep so peacefully when I can't.  I'm not even sorry about it.  It just is.  

The "nesting instinct" that I'm always reading about is in full effect...the only downside is that I'm too tired and sore to actually follow through on all these grand plans I have of organizing the house to prepare for baby.  I have to do things a little bit at a time, which is frustrating.  And then, of course, I've got Bailey and Gerry {and sometimes Scott} coming through and screwing up the work I've already done.  My To-Do List is pretty extensive, and includes everything from "wash sheets for crib" to "organize linen closet" to "wash kitchen walls" to "scrub every room and corner of the house", and then just keeps circling back around and around.  Daycare doesn't help much, either.  Realistically, I know that none of this is a big deal.  But the irrational part of me just wants it all done.

Lately, I've been thinking about this third baby of ours.  He's most likely going to be our last and, while I'm {mostly} content with this, I can't help feeling so, so sad for Bailey.  She's 100% on board with another little brother right now, but I know how badly she wanted a little sister and I'm sad that she'll never get that.  My sister and I were never close as kids, but have gotten closer since growing up and having kids of our own, and I'm sad that Bailey will never have the kind of sisterly bond that I've wanted for her.  I have 3 nieces and, while it's crazy now because they're all so young, it's going to be so amazing for them as they grow up.  I can't help feeling like I've failed her a bit in that respect.  Yes, she's got cousins and friends...but it's not the same as having a sister.  On the opposite end of that spectrum, I'm really glad that Gerry will be getting a brother.  He's been surrounded by girls, both in our family and at daycare, his entire life and I love the thought of him growing up with someone to goof around and "be boys" with.

So, with 5 weeks to go, that's where I'm at.  Little by little things are coming together, though not nearly as quickly as I'd like them to.  My mind is constantly racing, thinking about the things left to do, to buy, to pack before baby gets here.  And then there's the matter of what to do with Bailey and Gerry when I go into labor...it will all get sorted out, I know.  I'm trying really hard not to stress too much about it right now.

I'm soaking up the baby kicks, the hiccups, hearing his little heart beat at each of my prenatal appointments--all the best things about pregnancy.  Bailey and Gerry are big on kissing my belly these days, which is pretty much the cutest damn thing ever.  We're still undecided on a name, though that's 100% me at this point.  Scott's been set on 2 names for about 4 months now, but I'm holding us up and insisting that we wait until after he's born to name him.  I'm not sure why.  I just don't feel a strong connection to any one name right now, and a name is kind of a big deal, you know?  ;-)  We'll figure it out.


In the meantime, here's a gratuitous bump shot!






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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Baby Number 3: 31 Weeks

We've made it to 31 weeks!  

Not that I'm even the littlest bit surprised, considering I went well past 40 weeks with both Bailey and Gerry.  I have no stats on this baby, beyond the fact that he's a normal size and a normal weight and moving right along in terms of growth.  Poor thing doesn't even have a name yet and the walls of his bedroom are still a soft pink, left over from when Bailey was the occupant.  

Such is the life of a third baby.

We've got the crib set up and ready to go, and I'm almost positive that I'll have a clean set of sheets on that mattress before we bring him home.  He's got a dresser with clothes inside, just waiting to be worn.  My bag for the hospital is absolutely NOT packed yet, and I don't plan on even attempting it for another few weeks.  I can distinctly remember when I hit the 32 week mark with Bailey and my sister found out I hadn't packed a bag yet.  "What?!" she screeched.  {Yes, she screeched}.  "How do you not have your bag packed and waiting by the front door?!  You're going to go into labor and HAVE NOTHING READY TO TAKE WITH YOU!!!"  She had me so freaked out that I packed a bag that night, nearly convinced that I was going to give birth before the following morning.  Bailey was born nine weeks later.  Nine weeks.

With Gerry, I packed my bag at 36 weeks.  I was so very, very hopeful that he would be born on or before his due date.  I took my time and carefully packed a few outfits for him and a few for me, being sure to include things like chapstick and a book and photos of Bailey (who was 2 and a half by that point) to focus on during labor.  The bag sat in the trunk of our car for what felt like forever, until Gerry was forced out at just under 42 weeks.

This time I'm not rushing.  I refuse.  We have a coming home outfit washed and ready for the baby, and I have a general idea of what I'm going to pack for myself.  Beyond that, nothing.  I don't even know where the actual bag is.  I'm sure I'll find it accidentally in the next few weeks.

Bottom line, I'm trying really hard not to let myself get too stressed these days.  At my last prenatal appointment I damn near fell off the scale when it showed my weight.  That was a number I'd never seen before.  I had to check my pockets afterward to make sure Gerry hadn't slipped an anvil or something in there before I hopped on the scale.  

He hadn't.

My glucose test came back totally normal, but my hemoglobin is fairly low.  Which explains the ridiculous exhaustion I've been feeling lately.  So I'm taking iron pills twice a day and filling up on leafy green foods as often as I can.  

And have I mentioned the stomach pain?  

I generally try not to complain too much during pregnancy, thought I'm sure my husband will tell you otherwise.  But a few weeks ago, I noticed that the skin on my belly was really starting to hurt.  I assumed it was the literal tearing of a stretch mark, slathered on some lotion, and went on my merry way.  Fast forward a few days later, and I realized that my stomach would start really hurting by the end of the day.  Like, hurt from the inside out and was tender to touch.  I just kept on slathering on more and more lotion throughout the day.  A week later, I was feeling almost constant pain from about 4pm until I passed out for the night.  Moving and bending over made it worse, and pressing on the area was simply out of the question if I wanted to stay conscious.  So I brought it up at my prenatal appointment a few days later.  After a somewhat painful exam, it was determined that I've got a few torn ligaments and an abdominal hernia.

Gross.

And, also, ouch.  And there's not a doctor around who will even attempt to fix the issue until after this baby is born.  So, that's something new this time around.  I'm resting as often as I can with 2 kids and a full time job, but damn if I'm not near tears by the end of the day.  And it also doesn't help that the baby is in there just ninja kicking around all day long.  I love him, but damn.  Settle down, kid.

My life right now


So that's where we're at these days.  Pain on top of the usual sciatica and back issues.  At least it gives me something else to focus on, right?  I'm nothing if not positive, you guys!

Now, we're just counting down the weeks until little man makes his arrival.  I'm due March 30th, but I've pretty much got it in my head that we won't be seeing him before early April.  And I'm okay with that for now.  Scott and I have decided that we'll name him after we meet him, which is an entirely new concept for us.  We had Bailey's name picked out the day we found out she was a girl, and Gerry's name was chosen before we had even gotten married.  So this complete and utter indecision is entirely new and I think we both feel a little weird about it.  We're going in with a short list of names that we like, and we'll figure it out from there.  Hopefully.

In the meantime, we're hanging in there.  Gerry is as crazy as ever and Bailey is loving the Kindergarten life.  I could do with a little less energy from both of them, but we're getting by.  And now we're down to single-digit-weeks {hopefully}...baby will be here before we know it!







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Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy Birthday, Gerry!

We celebrated Gerry's 3rd birthday yesterday, and he had SO...MUCH...FUN.

Birthday plans were a little scattered this year with this new pregnancy and the craziness of daycare and Bailey being in school, so we threw together a party for our boy {almost} at the last minute and took him, his cousins, and a daycare friend to one of his very favorite places on this earth--Chuck E. Cheese.

To say that he had a good time would be the biggest understatement of this century.  He spent the majority of his 2-hour party looking like this:


Look at that face.  Pure, unrestrained joy.  I love that about him.  Also, for those not yet in the know, this picture was taken in the Ticket Blaster.  It's basically a see-through tube that your kid stands in with goggles on and enough air blasting to send hundreds and hundreds of tickets flying around.  The object is to catch as many tickets as possible while they're flying...Gerry caught one, and that was only because it blew into his mouth.  He spent the rest of the time in there jumping up and down with the world's most giant smile on his little face.  To him, this was magic.

He got to meet Chuck E. Cheese, play all the games, eat pizza and cake and ice cream, and generally have the time of his life.  And he did.  He was so happy.  It was, quite literally, the best birthday he's ever had.







After the Chuck E. party, we had yet another cake for him with family at my parents' house.  More sugar, more candles, more fun.  Seeing that smile on his face all day long was just incredible.

Which leads me to the meat of this post.  My son.  I won't post his birth story  again {though you're welcome to click that link and read it}, but I'm about to go all sappy mom because it's his birthday and my kids' birthdays always make me sentimental.


At 3 years old, Gerry is crazy.  To put it mildly.  He's loud and rambunctious and goofy.  The second his feet hit the floor in the morning he's on the go and he doesn't stop until he passes out for the night.
His favorite color is blue.
He loves most foods.
Bailey is one of his favorite people in this world.  They fight like most siblings do, but he misses her when she's not here and he looks for her when he wakes up in the morning.
Paw Patrol and Mickey mouse are still at the top of his list as far as favorite tv shows and toys to play with.
He LOVES his doggie blanket.
He has less than zero interest in going on the potty.
He loves to run around and be silly.
He absolutely will not smile a normal smile for a picture these days, unless I catch him off guard.  Otherwise, we get these goofy faces out of him.
He doesn't hold back his emotions.  Any of them.  When he's angry, he yells and stomps his feet.  When he's happy, he walks around with a big smile on his face that just can't be contained.  When he's feeling silly, he lets it all out and runs around with no clothes on.
He loves to make people laugh.
He's a bit of a mama's boy.  And I kind of love it.
As wild and crazy as he is, he has a sweet side that not many people have the privilege of seeing.  He gives awesome hugs and kisses, and he's been known to ask us if we're okay if and when we "seem" to be in pain or tired or sad.
He's great with babies, but rough with the big kids.
He has one knock-knock joke in his repertoire, and he plays it on repeat.  And still thinks it's the funniest joke in the world.
Chick-fil-A is his Mecca.


I love this little boy more than I ever thought I would or could.  He's 3 years old now, but he'll always be "my baby" in my eyes.  And I can't wait to see what this next year brings him.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

The L-Word, Updated

Lice.

It's ruining my holiday season, you guys.  It's been a nightmare of epic proportions.  It's the worst thing that's happened to me as a parent, and I wouldn't wish it on my mortal enemy.  {Actually, I might.  But I wouldn't wish it on someone who I just didn't really like}.  My head itches just thinking about it.

Thanksgiving night, Bailey and Gerry slept over at my in-laws' house so Scott and I could be those assholes out shopping on Black Friday  get a head start on our Christmas shopping.  They spent the following day with their grandparents at the park, Chick-fil-A, and just generally hanging out and having a good time.  When they dropped the kids off the next night, Scott's mom mentioned that Bailey had been scratching her head and we might need to wash her hair because they were playing outside a lot earlier in the day.  I look over and Bailey is just digging the crap out of her hair.  Fist-deep and scratching like there's no tomorrow.  So we said goodbye to the grandparents and tossed her in the tub for a good scrubbing.

Two days later  we were at my parents' house to help set up their Christmas tree {which really means that Bailey walked around admiring the ornaments and whining about how it was taking so long to put the lights on while Gerry basically just threw stuff all over the place and wreaked his usual havoc}.  I happened to glance at Bailey and there she is scratching at her head again.  And then it hit me.

Oh my God, she has lice.  OH MY GOD, SHE HAS LICE!

On the outside, I was calm.  Inside I was freaking the eff out.  I had my mom do a quick check of Bailey's hair and, sure enough, there they were.  God bless her, my mom drove right to the drugstore and picked up a RID treatment.  We did the treatment on Bailey {and I'm not even going to attempt to explain the horror that took place--the screaming and thrashing and general freaking out from Bailey, who was legitimately terrified and has been scarred ever since} and my mom combed her hair and pulled it back in a tight braid.  Done.

I texted all of my daycare families right away and emailed the school before Bailey went in Monday morning to give them a heads up that we found lice over Thanksgiving break, had treated them, and that she was good to come back to school.  I get an email that afternoon from the school nurse:  "Hi, Mrs. Wanner!  Just wanted to let you know that I checked Bailey and she is nit and lice free.  Thanks for making us aware of the issue and have a great evening!"

Sweet!  One treatment and she was all good!  I couldn't believe how easy it all was.  I'd heard horror stories about lice and how difficult they could be to control, but Bailey was declared lice and nit free by the school nurse, so no worries over here!  I happily and obliviously went about my life, feeling relieved and smug and like I must be doing something right as a parent to have dodged the lice bullet.

Until she went to a sleepover at her cousins' house that weekend.  I had just fallen asleep on the couch {because it was 7:45pm and that's how I roll these days} when I get a frantic text from my sister, immediately followed by an actual phone call.  "Ummm, we found stuff in Bailey's hair."  Shit.

I drove straight to the pharmacy to drop $24.99 on yet another RID treatment and then headed to my sister's house.  I was prissily indignant {and wrongly so}.  "It can't be lice.  The school nurse said she was all clear.  Are you sure you actually saw something and not just dust or fuzz or something?"  I stripped Bailey down, did another treatment {which was super fun since she was still traumatized after the first one} and slowly combed through her hair.  Yep.  Lice.  Quite clearly there.  Fuck.

She goes back to school on Monday and I email the school yet again to let them know that we found lice over the weekend and treated her.  I get another email from the school nurse that afternoon telling me that she's been checked and is nit and lice free and so I, of course, stupidly and blindly assume that the nurse knows what the hell she's talking about.  I pump my fist in the air.  Yes!  No more lice!  It may have taken more than a week and more than one treatment but they've been conquered!  Back to my normal life.

It's important to note that, up until this point, I had been completely and utterly clueless about lice.  I'd had no idea what to look for and no clue {other than directions on the RID box} how to treat them.  For the two weeks since I'd first found them, I'd been sending Bailey to school with her hair greased back in a tightly braided pony tail or bun and sprayed within an inch of it's life.  The RID directions mentioned that, because of the bites from the lice and the chemicals used to treat and kill them, Bailey's head may still be itchy for 1-2 days after applying the treatment.  Three days later, she was still scratching, so I figured I'd better check her again just to be positive that they were all gone.  I grabbed a comb, a high stool, and a bright light and carefully parted her hair.  I took a look and there the fuckers were, just hanging out on her neck being all gross and lice-y.  Cue another internal freakout and a very vocal cursing-out of the school nurse {to Scott, not to the nurse's face.  I'm not ballsy enough for that just yet} for telling me on two separate occasions that we were in the clear when we most definitely were not.  I sent her and Scott off to urgent care because at this point I didn't know what the hell else to do to get rid of them and we had hit the maximum number of RID treatments that was safe to do.  The doc sends her home with Permethrin, a more heavy-duty cream that should kill most if not all of the lice after the first treatment.  This was on Friday.

While Bailey and Scott were at urgent care, I was online researching other methods of getting rid of these bastards and generally freaking myself out.  Basically, our only option was to wet comb through her hair every single day.  'It may take awhile', the website told me, 'so be sure to have something available to keep your child comfortable and entertained while you do a proper combing'.  My cell phone.  Done.  That thing could occupy my kids for hours.

And occupy her, it did.  Thank God.  We sat Bailey down just after 7pm that night.  I had a bowl of boiling water, a lice comb, a fine-toothed comb, hair clips, paper towels, regular towels, and a bright interrogation-style light, and I set up my "work area" with surgical precision.  I got to work separating her hair into sections while Scott alternated between stripping the beds and washing the shit out of everything and standing by Bailey's chair offering me moral support and an extra pair of eyes to search for any eggs or nits that might be hiding on my baby's head.  Bailey's hair is super long.  Like, just-above-her-butt long.

It took over four hours to comb through her hair.  Four hours of separating and combing and literally picking nits and eggs {and 2 big, live, moving lice} out of her hair.  Did I mention that I'm absolutely terrified of bugs?  Like, "heart palpitations and fear sweats and a general and overwhelming sense of fear and doom" terrified.  But there I was, literally living out my biggest fear while my kid just sits there watching Taylor Swift videos on YouTube.  I'll give her major credit, though.  She didn't whine and she sat still for a long time.  By the time I had combed through and was ready to rinse her hair, it was well past 11pm.  My shoulders and back were screaming in pain and my feet and ankles were so swollen it hurt to walk.  She got to bed just before midnight, and I thanked my lucky stars that it was a Friday night and we could all sleep in the next morning.

We had a semi-calm weekend after that.  Kept Bailey's hair pulled back.  Spent Saturday morning washing all clothes and bedding, bagging up toys and other stuff that could even remotely support the life cycle of lice, vacuumed the car seats and our furniture.  Went to a Christmas party.  Took the kids to church Sunday morning.  A nice, sort of relaxing weekend.

But then I noticed Gerry scratching the back of his head.  It had honestly never occurred to me to check his hair.  It's very short and coarse, and I really never even entertained the thought that maybe he had come in contact with and was housing a lovely little family of lice.  I did a quick check of his hair, the whole time praying that he just happened to have an itch in one particular spot.  I had just come from church, after all, and I was pretty certain that God was on my side.

Buuut, there they were.  More mother-effing lice.  We had a little bit left over of the Permethrin that the urgent care doc had prescribed for Bailey, so I stripped him down and coated his head with it.  Fuck RID.  I'm not wasting any more time or money on that shit.  It doesn't work.  So I sit my boy down, hand over my phone, and go live through my nightmare all over again.  There were a ton in his hair.  Nits and eggs and live lice.  FML.  Luckily, it didn't take me nearly as long to comb through his hair as it did to go through Bailey's.  Just before I had sat Gerry down to coat his hair, I lost my mind and yelled to Scott, "Screw this!  Just throw away everything with fabric on it.  I'm sick of this shit!"  Sooooo...all of the beds in the house got new mattress covers that zip closed and our playroom now has only plastic toys and furniture in it.  No more comfy bean bag chairs, no more Barbies or baby dolls or My Little Pony or dress-up clothes.  If there was even the teeny tiniest possibility of something in that room allowing the lice life cycle to continue we were getting rid of it {good thing Christmas is next week, because it's downright bare in there right now}.

So, by this point Bailey had been treated 3 times and Gerry had gotten one treatment.  I was thoroughly distraught and disgusted and Scott was trying to keep up with the laundry and his crazy-ass wife.  We had done everything we could think of to get rid of these bugs, save for shaving our kids' heads and setting the house on fire.  I thought we just might be on our way to being in the clear.

But then I did a head check on all of the daycare kids the next day.  And sent 2 of them home with nits in their hair.  To add insult to injury, I spent 3 hours combing through Bailey's head and still found lice in there, albeit not quite as many as before.  Scott stayed home on Tuesday, and I got Bailey an appointment with our regular doctor, who prescribed us a much more potent cream for her hair that's almost guaranteed to kill everything--eggs, nits, and lice.  Our pharmacy doesn't stock the cream, so we had to wait a day for them to order it.  I was totally cool while Scott was home on Tuesday.  Calm, ready to tackle this shit and be done with it.  But then he went back to work yesterday, and I lost my ever-loving mind.  

He must have taken all the calm with him when he left, because I started researching again, which led me down a rabbit hole that left me convinced that these super lice were invading all of our heads, would never go away, and we'd all just have to live with bugs feasting off our scalps for the rest of our lives.  I read studies that said that lice nowadays have become resistant to over the counter treatments like RID and Nix, and that the only way to get rid of them was to comb through someone's hair every single day for weeks and weeks and weeks, and handpick the eggs and nits out.  I studied essential oils and different concoctions I could create to keep the lice away once we {hopefully} were able to get rid of them.  I added special shampoos and conditioners to my Amazon cart specifically because I read that lice don't like the smell of them {coconut, you guys.}  I looked into Lice Removal Services {did you know that these are an actual thing?  Like, professionals will come to your home and treat everyone for $200 a head and it's 99.9% guaranteed to work the first time around and then you don't have to worry about lice anymore?}.  Three hours into my research, I was a mess.  I emailed Scott in a panic and told him that I was going to have a lice removal team come out to the house.  It would cost about $700 and I was going to apply for a small personal loan to do it.  I had a plan of action in my crazy little head and when Scott called me a little while later to try and talk me down {and also to let me know that he'd be stuck at work until 9pm so it was on me to treat both kids' hair, bathe them both, and get sheets back on their beds all by myself} I burst into tears and hung up on him.  I was a damn head case, you guys.  Just saw no way out and no way of getting rid of these little pests.  I'm afraid of bugs and I was convinced that we were just going to be stuck in this long, dark tunnel for the rest of eternity.  Pure madness.

I loaded the kids up after all the daycare kids went home, and we went to Target to pick up coconut scented shampoo, tea tree oil, lavender essential oil, hair clips, and spray bottles.  And then I went to work on their heads.  Scott had picked up the potent hair cream for Bailey earlier and I slathered that shit all over her head.  Combed it through and let it sit for the required 10 minutes before rinsing it out.  With this particular cream, you don't have to comb through the wet hair afterwards and for that I was thankful.  Between Bailey and Gerry and the other daycare kids, I've combed and picked out enough bugs in the last few weeks to last me a lifetime, and I was all too happy not to have to do it right then.  So we rinse her, pull her hair back into a braid, get her jammies on, and get her settled on the couch with a snack while I tackle Gerry.

I used regular conditioner on him.  Coated it on his hair, let it sit for 5 minutes while I gathered my interrogation lamp, lice comb, fine toothed comb, paper towels, and boiling water, and then got to work.  And, wonder of wonders...

Not a single egg, nit, or louse was found on his head.  He's free!  I was so happy I cried.  Again.  {I do a lot of crying these days}.  We're not in the clear just yet-- I still have to check heads daily, and Bailey will get a thorough combing tonight {I'm not sure she's free just yet}...but at least I can sort of see a light at the end of the tunnel.  Sort of.  

It's been a long 4 weeks, and I'm tired.  Christmas is my favorite time of year, but I haven't gotten to enjoy it this year because I've been so worried and disgusted and stressed out over these stupid lice.  We've done everything -- everything -- to get rid of them and to keep them away.  One of these days {maybe in a few years}, I'm going to look back on this past month and laugh at how crazy it made me and how I felt like there was no end in sight.  I now know more about the treatment and prevention of lice than I could have ever hoped to {gross}, and I can't wait to come back here and shout that Bailey is lice-free, too.  Soon, hopefully.  Fingers crossed!

*******************************************************************************

UPDATE:
After almost 6 weeks, I feel safe in saying that we are finally lice-free!  In the future, and for those of you who may end up dealing with lice with your own kids, ask your doctor to prescribe you Natroba.  It's not allowed for children under age 4, but it worked like a charm for Bailey {who's 5 right now}.  It's very strong, but it was a much easier process than the RID or Permethrin treatments.  One treatment of Natroba is supposed to kill the live lice, but we waited a week and then did another treatment just to be safe.  The last time I combed through Bailey's hair (just last week), I found 4 empty eggs and that was it.  They were empty and they slid right off, which means there's no threat of them breeding or causing more lice to appear.  I'll keep doing regular head checks and will do a thorough comb through again next week just to be safe, but I'm pretty sure we're finally in the clear...and I'm so relieved!


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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What We've Been Up To...In Pictures

It's December, and you know what that means...shit gets crazy.  Life gets crazy.  And amid all the craziness are some seriously awesome memories that I get too busy living in to share on here.  Luckily, I've got photographic evidence!

October 1st meant all things pumpkin and farm visiting.  Fall is Scott's and my favorite season, so as soon as we got a minute we took the kids to some pumpkin farms, picked a few pumpkins, and decorated the living daylights out of them.
Feeding the animals at the farm



This was a particularly cold day for October...but we still had fun!

Pumpkin decorating!  {I can't for the life of me get G to smile like a normal person in pictures}

  
Halloween was a blast!  Bailey had a Halloween Parade at school, and got the biggest kick out of parading around the building for all the parents.  She went as Mack, a '50s surfer character in one of her favorite Disney movies.  And Gerry was a Ninja Turtle.  As soon as it got dark, they went out with Scott to do some trick-or-treating, came back to take a break and give out candy for awhile, and then went back out with me for a second time.  Our neighbors were awesome, and the kids had so much fun!

Halloween Parade!

The cousins on Halloween

Mack and the Ninja Turtle taking a break from trick-or-treating


We had a fabulous Thanksgiving, filled with food and family.  The kids and I watched the Thanksgiving Day parade on tv in the morning before heading to my parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner #1 in the early afternoon.  Then that night, we headed over to my in-laws' house for a second dinner...and not one of us complained about the extra food!  The kids spent the night with their grandparents, and Scott and I headed out to do some Black Friday shopping...and, bonus!  We got the kids' gifts bought, wrapped, and hidden away all on Friday.  And they have no idea.  :-)

Christmas is just a few weeks away.  And that means Santa and carols and the damn Elf on the shelf.  The Elf, in particular, makes me twitchy.  I live in constant fear of forgetting to move him at night, or of one of the kids catching me moving him.  It's ridiculous how a tiny little fake toy can rule your life.





December also means that we got our Christmas pictures done and sent out our cards.  We haven't hit the mall to see Santa yet, but these are some of my favorites from the kids' "photo shoot" at Target.




And, of course, we've got our tree up.  In fact, this year the kids got to decorate 3 trees-- our own, one at my parents' house, and one at my grandparents' house.  I don't think we'll be invited back to decorate next year, because KIDS.  But we had fun, destruction, broken ornaments, and all.





And last, but certainly not least...I'm 24 weeks along today.  Viability, baby!  According to my pregnancy app, Baby is between 11 and 20 ounces, and I can certainly feel every one.  I feel huge these days, and fairly uncomfortable.  We still don't have a name for this little guy, and I feel kind of bad about it {but obviously not bad enough to actually, you know, give him a name}.   Nothing is striking us as quite right like it did with Bailey and Gerry, so for now we're sticking to calling him "the baby".  Bailey has decided that we're naming him Dominic, and she'll tell anyone who listens that his name is going to be Dominic Black {no idea where she got that from}.  She's going to be sorely disappointed, because Dominic isn't even on our radar as far as names go.  We've got 16 weeks, give or take, to figure it out.  Soooo...hit me with your suggestions, folks!



Until next time!



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Friday, December 4, 2015

Kindergarten Conference

Last night we had Bailey's first conference and I left near tears.

Happy tears.

See, back in August when they did the original school testing Bailey was placed in the all day program, and I was shocked.  All day kindergarten, from what I knew, was for the kids who were behind.  Those who needed extra help.  At orientation, the principal stressed that full-dayers needed to be diligent about not missing much school because they needed it.  I thought for sure that Bailey would be in the half-day program.  Like any mother, I thought my kid was a genius, and she was too smart to need the extra help that the principal was talking about.

Friends of mine were posting pictures on Facebook of their kids holding up the letter from the school district with the caption "Kiddo is so excited to be in so-and-so's AM Kindergarten class!"  I couldn't wait to get our letter and post a cute picture of Bailey, too.  That is, until we got the letter in the mail telling us how happy the administration was to have Bailey in their full-day Kindergarten program.  I read the letter and I cried.  Then I emailed the teacher and the principal.  After that, I called the guidance counselor and demanded to know what exactly my daughter had been tested on for the all of 10 minutes that she was gone that determined her kindergarten placement.

A few of my mom friends started texting and messaging me when the letters came in the mail, asking if I knew Bailey's placement yet.  When I told them she was in full-day, I got a lot of "I'm sorry to hear that" responses, and one "Really?  How do you feel about that?" .  The truth is, I was embarrassed.  Bailey had been at home with me her whole life and I felt like her "poor" testing was a direct reflection on my parenting skills.  For days, I walked around berating myself internally, thinking If I had worked with her more, maybe she'd be in half-day.  I was angry at myself and at the school, and I felt like I had failed my daughter.

Turns out, I ended up eating all my angry words.  Because she really did need the help.  And she really was behind other kids in her age group in terms of what she should have known before entering Kindergarten.  And a big part of my anger at her being placed in the full-day program was because I wasn't ready for her to be in school all day.  Not just yet. There was still so much more I wanted to do with her before sending her off all day long.  But she was thrilled to be in school and so, so excited to be making friends.  And her friends are awesome...they really are sweet and intelligent and funny kids, and I'm ashamed that I let myself worry as much as I did.

So...all that to say that I was nervous about her conference.  Her report card had gotten sent home the day before, and it was great,  All 4s and 5s (5 is the highest "grade" they give), except for her specials (Gym, Art, Music, etc. where she got mostly 3s), and I was so proud of her...but worried about what her teacher would have to say.

A great report card = a sweet treat!

I was so pleasantly surprised and so damn proud of her after sitting down with her teacher.

Turns out, not only is she "on par" with her peers, but she's advanced in certain areas.  She can recognize and write all of her letters and most numbers to 20.  As of the testing two weeks ago, she could count to 49 without missing any numbers and she knows what sound each letter of the alphabet makes. She's sounding out words on her own, and is able to write both her first and last name correctly without help.  The class has been taught 7 high frequency sight words...Bailey can recognize and correctly identify 9.  She's doing simple math (one and one is two...two and three is five, etc) and she's beginning to correctly identify non-sight words by sounding them out on her own.  Her teacher is recommending that she be moved up to the more challenging reading group this next quarter.  I can't believe the progress she's made in just 3 months!

Academics aside, I was concerned about her behavior while at school.  At home, Bailey tends to be bossy and lately she gets angry about everything.  She comes home from school and immediately goes into "boss lady" mode, ordering the kids around and trying to run the show, and God help us all if Gerry interferes with anything she's trying to do.  The tiniest little thing not going her way sends her into a tailspin complete with screaming, stomping feet, and sometimes thrown objects.  So, it's been fun.

I want my daughter to be intelligent and eager to learn.  But, right now, it's more important to me that she is kind and compassionate toward others.  So I was nervous about asking this question, and worried that her teacher was going to tell me that we needed to work on behavior and being nice to others at home.

Turns out she's pretty much a different kid at school.  "Quiet and shy" was a phrase I saw written on her progress report, and the teacher confirmed it.  She's not one to call out or to be mean to someone else, and she has lots of friends in school.  Her teacher also mentioned that Bailey is starting to take on more of a leadership role.  She was amused by it, and said that it was nice to see her come out of her shell a bit and that she does it without being mean or bossy.

Cue my exaggerated sigh of relief.

So, she's doing awesome!  Better than I could have imagined, and I'm so, so proud.  Bring on the next round of learning!

Homework!  It's the first thing she does when she gets home each day.








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Friday, November 13, 2015

It's A Very Fine Line Between "Normal" and Not

I've never kept it a secret that I was put on meds for postpartum depression and anxiety after Bailey was born.  In fact, I wrote a post about that very thing a few years ago.  And then another when I started wondering and worrying if I'd be dealing with those issues the second time around.  And now here we are, the THIRD time around, and I feel like I'm going crazy all over again.

The day I found out I was pregnant, I stopped my meds cold turkey.  It's not advised {and I definitely don't advise it} but I tend to be a worrier in those first {very important to the little one's development} weeks, and I've been lucky enough to not have any withdrawal symptoms other than a wicked headache that lasts a few days.  I'm up-front and honest with my doctor from the get-go and, while they don't necessarily condone it, they monitor me very carefully to make sure that both myself and the baby are doing okay.

See, the thing about meds (in my case) is that they do a very good job of keeping me calm and even without making it obvious to me or to the people around me that I am, in face, medicated.  There's no big "ah ha!" moment, no fanfare in terms of how I'm feeling.  Just, one day I wake up and it dawns on me that I haven't felt that crazy, anxious, "off" feeling that is usually present throughout the day.  It's awesome, it really is.  I'm a better mom, better wife, happier person when I'm medicated.  I just am.  But the downside to the medication taking effect gradually and almost un-noticeably is that when I'm not taking it, that effect is also minimal...gradual...not noticeable.

Until one day it really, really is.

I've been taking Fluoxetine since just a few months after Bailey was born.  I stopped when I was pregnant with Gerry and started right back after he was born.  When I'm taking my medication, I'm calmer.  Things don't "get to me" as much.  I'm not rage-y.  Messes, attitudes, the kids and my husband being crazy don't bother me.  Other people's opinions roll off my back.  I don't worry as much and I tend to not want to hole up at home all the time.  Physically, I've got the same back pain I've always had.  But mentally?  I'm good.  I'm happy.  Not in an in-your-face, over the top way, but in a normal, this-is-me way, if that makes any sense.  It's great.  But the flip side is that I don't notice those other feelings creeping up when I'm off my meds until they're right there slapping me in the face.

I'm an anxious person by nature, and it's only gotten worse since having kids.  Since they were born, I've had crazy nightmares where they're both in serious danger, Scott is not around, and it's up to me to save both of them.  Bailey started school in August and not a day goes by where I don't think about what, god forbid, I would do if there were ever a serious situation like a gunman or something at her school.  I tell her I love her and to have a great day every single morning before I send her off to school in her friend's mom's car, not only because I mean it, but because I live in a constant state of fear that something is going to happen to her at school and I want the memory of her mother telling her that she loves her {a happy and pleasant memory} to be one of her last.  It's gruesome and it's crazy to have these thoughts, but I do.  And I can't help it.

I've been feeling a lot of guilt, lately, that I don't spend enough quality time with my kids.  Yes, I'm home all day long with them...but there are also at least 4 other kids here with us.  It's fun, but it doesn't make for quality time with my kids.  By the time Bailey gets home from school in the afternoon, I'm waking the kids up from their naps, giving them a snack, changing diapers and putting on jackets and tying shoelaces, and running around to make sure that each kid is going home with the same stuff they brought with them in the morning.  After the last daycare kid leaves, it's time to cook dinner...then clean it up...and by the time all that is finished, I'm worn out and exhausted and it's about time for the kids to go to bed for the night. I tell them I love them before they fall asleep each night, but I can't help the worry.  Those intrusive thoughts that remind me that I didn't have enough special moments with them throughout the day, that make me wonder and worry that they don't know just how much I love them because I'm too busy running from task to task and stressing myself out over other people's kids.  It's terrible, it really is.  But I can't help it.

Bailey has been testing out quite the attitude these last few weeks.  Talking back, bossing the other kids around, and yelling {mostly at me} when things don't go her way.  Generally, we deal with that behavior by sending her to her room until we've all calmed down and we can talk to her about her behavior without anyone wringing anyone else's neck.  For the most part, it works.  But the last few weeks have been tough for both of us in this department, and I definitely haven't handled myself in the right way.  I'm quick to anger and even quicker to yell.  Instead of reasoning with her and letting her have a say, I find myself interrupting her tirade with a curt "No.  Not another word!  I'm the mom!  I'm the boss!"  And it just goes downhill from there.  Afterwards, I feel so guilty; and I always, always apologize.  I'm terrified that I'm somehow damaging our mother-daughter relationship.  But in the moment?  I can't help myself.  I honestly can't.  I don't realize how it's escalating, and the rational part of me that sends a constant reminder that she's just a 5 year old little girl trying to work through an issue just completely shuts down.  I hate myself this way.  But I can't help it.

Yesterday morning was an epic one here.  Bailey had a meltdown before school, which ultimately resulted in my yelling at her to go to her room and her screaming that I was the worst mom ever and was making her life miserable.  There was door slamming {her} and shoe throwing {me}, and I'm not proud of any of it.  By the time I'd sent her off to school, I was a wreck.  I had apologized and told her I loved her and to have a good day, same as I always do.  But I couldn't help wondering if she knew how genuine my apology was.  If, God forbid, something were to happen to her or to me that day, would her last and most recent memories of her mother be those of us arguing, of me yelling and sending her to her room, of anger?

I got through the morning, fed the kids lunch, and put them down for naps.  And it was then, sitting alone on the couch, reflecting once again on the shitty morning we'd had and how much I regretted it, that I got my slap in the face.  I was crying without realizing it, having these awful thoughts that I should be a better mom, that I'm not trying hard enough.  Then came the guilt-- I don't spend enough time with them, I don't show them enough how much I love them.  And then the stupidest thought of all--I don't know what they want for Christmas.

My mind never works in straight lines.  My thinking is sometimes all over the damn place.  So that one stupid thought about what to get them for Christmas led me down this crazy path of thinking that ended with me feeling guilty for not being able to provide for them as well as my sister and brother-in-law and other parents I know can provide for their kids.  And that thought right there was my slap in the face.  It is literally the very same thought I had way back when Bailey was 4 months old, and it was the catalyst for my seeing my doctor and being diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety.  It took me weeks, but I recognize it.  My guilt, my anger, my less-than-stellar tolerance for my kids' behavior...all the typical feelings when I'm not taking my medicine.  It was all right there.

But recognizing it doesn't make it easier to deal with or to forget about.

And there's the problem.  I see it now, and I know that this isn't normal for me.  But in the moment it's harder to notice it.  I need to go back on my meds.  I think, like most people who are medicated for "mental issues", I don't realize how different I am when I'm not taking them and I think that everything is fine and normal.  Until it's not.  After Bailey was born, it took me 4 months to bring up the subject with my doctor simply because I thought I was "fine" and that this was just my normal.  It's not, and it took me awhile to realize it.  Same thing with Gerry.  I didn't ask for a prescription refill until he was well into his second month simply because I felt okay and didn't think I needed them.  I chalked things up to hormones, to being the parent of two small children, to life.

I know that this rage-y, short-tempered, guilt-ridden woman will disappear in a few months when this baby is born and I'm back to being medicated.  I know that I love the hell out of my kids and that I always do what I think is best for them, and pretty soon I'll be back to the mother and wife they've always known and {I hope} loved.  But my fear is that they won't remember or trust it.  I'm so afraid that these last few weeks are going to be seared in Bailey's memory and that, no matter what I do, she'll remember me this way.  And that's a really humbling thing, being worried about what your child is going to think of you.

So, that's my Dear Diary moment.  I love my husband and I love my kids and I love being pregnant...all of it and all of them.  And I can't wait to be "myself" again and start showing them.




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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Week 20: Baby Is A...




...BOY!

Oh, dear God, another boy.  We're going to have our hands so full...so full.

Our Level 2 ultrasound was scheduled for last week, so Scott took the day off from work.  We dropped Bailey off at school, packed Gerry up, and headed over to the hospital.  My gut had been telling me that this baby was a boy for a few weeks now, so I wasn't surprised when it showed up nice and clear on the screen.  He's healthy and growing just perfectly, and I couldn't be happier.

I'll admit, I'd been fairly worried in the weeks leading up to this ultrasound.  This pregnancy has been 100% completely different than my last two.  With Bailey and Gerry, I was starving all the time and had gained a fairly decent amount of weight by week 20 {think double digits}, and was having very specific cravings from very early on {Slim Jims and canned peaches with Bailey; Twix candy bars with Gerry}.  With this little guy, I haven't had a single craving and my appetite for the most part has remained the same as normal.  Some days, I have less of an appetite than usual.  My weight gain has remained under 10lbs so far.  I'm also not feeling much movement at all with this pregnancy, thanks to an anterior placenta.  I felt those first little flutters with Bailey at 11 weeks, and at 13 weeks with Gerry.  By the 15 week mark with both of them I was feeling honest-to-God kicks and pokes.  So when week 12 came and went this time and I hadn't felt much more than a teeny little stroke, I started to wonder.  When I hit week 16 and still hadn't felt actual movement I was legitimately freaked out.  I'd been having awful, awful back pain and headaches from the very beginning of this pregnancy and was worried that that, combined with the stress of Bailey starting Kindergarten and the craziness of running a home daycare, had somehow stunted this baby.  I would walk in for my monthly OB appointments and say a prayer over and over again until the doc found the baby's heartbeat with her doppler--then I could breathe a sigh of relief.  Until the next day, when my freakouts happened all over again.  I've never been more relieved than I was when the ultrasound tech pointed out the baby and said, "And your placenta is anterior..."  Finally!  A reason for the lack of movement!

Baby was wiggling all over the place during the ultrasound {not that I could feel any of it}, and we were able to get some great photos.  There's no doubt that he's a boy, and he looks perfect in there.

Baby #3


Gerry was pumped right away.  In the weeks leading up to finding out the gender, whenever we asked him what he wanted he said, "A baby brudder".  Being that he's the only boy surrounded by a sister, all girl cousins, and all girl daycare kids, I'm thrilled that he'll have a little buddy to play with soon.  Bailey is another story.  She wanted a baby sister.  Badly.  Scott and I have been preparing her for the possibility of another brother, but she just wasn't hearing it.  When she got home from school the afternoon of my ultrasound, she walked in the door with this giant smile on her face and said, "So do I have a baby sister?  Is it a baby girl?!"

I almost lied to her.

Instead, I plastered a huge smile on my face and said, "You're getting a baby...brother!"  I could see the instant it sunk in that she wasn't, in fact, going to have the baby sister she wanted.  Her little face crumpled up and she threw herself into the couch.  She cried for a solid 15 minutes before we were able to calm her down a bit.

These two have very different feelings about the news that they're getting a baby brother

She's had a week now to come to terms with having another brother.  We've pointed out all the best parts about having only brothers-- they won't want to play with her makeup and hair stuff, she won't have to share her clothes and shoes, she gets to have her very own room and the boys have to share.  She's coming around and getting excited again, and has even thrown out a few name ideas.  And I know that once he's here and she can actually meet him she'll fall in love, just like she did with Gerry.

So that's where we're at right now.  I'm 20 weeks along {as of yesterday}and according to the ultrasound my due date has stayed the same.  My hips ache in the morning and I have wicked heartburn starting in the afternoon and lasting just about all night long, but other than that, I can't complain.  And-good news- I'm feeling some actual movement!  Not often.  Not even daily, really.  But just about.  And it's awesome.







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