Three 31


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Finish This #47

FINISH THIS WEEK 47 ….. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 

If this is your first time here, welcome. If you’re a repeat participant, thanks for playing along and joining the shenanigans. Your co-hosts are LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31) and the instructions are simple: answer the prompts on your blog and add the post to the link up. Next week, we’ll do it all over again with a new set of prompts (located at the bottom of this post). Let’s get started!

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The *YEAR IN REVIEW* link up begins December 31.
If you are a blogger then you absolutely MUST complete the *YEAR IN REVIEW* questionnaire. If you need some inspiration, click HERE. Please share with others.

1. My favorite Thanksgiving tradition
is being with loved ones. Whether I’m in Texas or Kentucky with family and friends, I enjoy being with the people I love. The food is a major plus, but the company is best. We laugh, we joke, and we have a good time. If I’m in Kentucky (Louisville, specifically), we always get the playing cards out for a game of Progressive Rummy. In years past, on Thanksgiving Day, instead of battling the long lines and craziness that is Black Friday shopping, we’d go to Churchill Downs and watch live horse racing. If I’m celebrating Thanksgiving in Texas, depending on the weather,  Husband and I grab our guns and fishing poles and head to the pond. We put targets against the dam to shoot and, when we’re done, we have a contest to see who catches the most fish. After walking the long distance from the house to the pond, we’re ready for Round Two of more turkey, dressing, yeast rolls, and desserts!

2. My most memorable Thanksgiving was
I have fond memories of every holiday, including Thanksgiving. 2012 was bittersweet because I was in Kentucky and saw my cousin, Brian, before he deployed to Afghanistan. (He’s back home, safe and sound!) Last Thanksgiving (2013) was pretty memorable because I was eight months pregnant. I literally ate ALLLLLL day long but it was a few bites here, a couple bites there, and I had to pee every two minutes. I told my in-laws not to make me laugh or I’d have to change my pants. Speaking of pants, I highly recommend wearing maternity clothes at the Thanksgiving dinner table. The stretchy, elastic panels are super comfortable and the ultimate wardrobe staple for over-eating. If you’re wondering if I still own a pair of pregnant pants, YES I DO!

3. My favorite Thanksgiving food or dish
turkey (duh!), dressing (stuffing, whatever you call it), and cranberry relish. In years past, I’ve made sausage and cornbread dressing, my Mom’s signature cranberry relish. Since I am a big fan of carbs, dressing (or is it stuffing?) takes up a significant portion of my plate. And I always go back for seconds. And thirds. For the record: I think I like ‘dressing’ best because stuffing a raw turkey’s butt with a mixture of cubed bread, vegetables, and seasonings then eating it later is disgusting and cause for salmonella. Ain’t nobody got time for salmonella!

4. I’m so thankful
for God’s grace; my family and friends; an abundant milk supply; and stretchy fat pants.

Prompts for WEEK 48 — December 3
My biggest fan
My great blessing is
Sometimes, all you need to feel better about life is


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Three 31 Photography // Barbie (#RegisteredNurse)

Have you ever received a phone call that made you smile and brightened your entire day? Last week, while walking grocery shopping, my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number but I answered it anyway, and heard the most pleasant voice on the other end. It was Barbie, one of Husband’s cousins, and she needed portraits for college graduation. I was elated! We keep in contact through Facebook and Instagram, but it’s been a couple of years since we’ve seen each other in person. She’s had quite the exciting year too: got married in May, moved in to a new place, and, in December, she graduates from Texas A&M University – Commerce. She is in the first class to graduate from the university’s nursing program.

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Barbie is gorgeous, inside and out. She embodies hard work, dedication, and commitment and I’m so proud of her! As a pediatric nurse, her patients will be in very good hands. Barbie’s amazing with kids and Kamden loved meeting and spending the afternoon with his second cousin!

If you need portraits, for any reason, please send me a message or give me a call.


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That time I wore a purple bridesmaid dress to a bloggers’ dinner.

 

Last weekend, I attended a dinner event hosted by Texas Women Bloggers and sponsored by Urban Acres, Market Street, Lost Oak Winery, and Lick Honest Ice Cream. Me being me, I showed up wearing the most ridiculous outfit I could put together from my closet and I think I hit a homerun in the *What NOT To Wear* category of blogging and social media events. I finally got an opportunity to wear THE ex-bridesmaid dress I’ve had since 2012. What do you think …are the purple sunglasses and pink feathery tiara too much? Every time I approached someone, especially the folks I’d not met before, they looked at me with confusion and perhaps a little fear too. Did I have something in my teeth? Was there a booger in my nose? Even though I spent a crap-ton on the dress and to get it altered for my voluptuous body, it no longer fits my post-partum self and the top, without the support of the black sports bra and gray tank, would have exposed my uber-lactating bosom buddies. Now THAT would have been a story to share on the blog! If I was going for muted elegance, I missed it by a long shot. I hope I proved to the ladies that I don’t take myself seriously and blogger events are supposed to be fun. I realized early in the evening that the top of the dress could hold quite a lot … I kept my wallet, a stack of blog cards, and my cell phone inside my bra!

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In case you weren’t following my shenanigans in 2012, you should read this post and this post. Or here’s the Cliff’s Notes’ version:

I bought a bridesmaid dress.
Four months later, I had the dress altered, which cost more than the dress itself.
I wrote a blog post making fun of my fabu-less-ness and big boobs.
Bride’s tinsel got tangled and I was excused from my bridesmaid duties.
I wrote a blog post about getting kicked out of a bridal party.
Two weeks before the wedding, the whole thing was called off.

Back to the TXWB dinner …

Taylor and Jennifer, our TXWB community leaders, did an amazing job at organizing and coordinating this event, and many thanks to the sponsors for supporting the dinner, which was amazeballs! The venue was super cool (a produce distribution warehouse); the food was delicious (I’m still waiting for that kale salad recipe!); and the company was all kinds of lovely. One thing I love about these blogger events I attend is the opportunity to see folks I know and meet others I don’t. Of course, when you’re dressed to the nines like I was, you know folks are going to smile, maybe laugh at you, and have a good time! At this event, I was most looking forward to meeting (in person) Stephanie, from The Vintage Modern Wife blog. She is a fellow lactating lady (her daughter, Addie, is currently in the NICU but might get to come home in a couple of weeks – go #PinkNinja!) and the sweetest, shortest, pink-obsessed, cutie-patootie you’ve ever seen.

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I’m a terrible blogger in that I took my camera but didn’t take very many pictures and, what I did photograph, didn’t turn out well because I didn’t change my camera’s settings for the indoor, nighttime event. But thank the Good Lord for party planners and photo booths. And purple sunglasses and pink tiaras.

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It’s no surprise that I stand several inches above most people – I am six feet tall – but dang, my blogging buddies are seriously short. This is even funnier because they all wear these sky-high stiletto heels while I’m in comfy flats. And no, I did not crop my head out of the photo below, that’s the actual picture from the photo booth! #BeingTallIsHard #TheStruggleIsReal

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I was so impressed by the dinner event and all of the generous sponsors. I am most appreciative to the chef, who I didn’t get to meet but was available by phone to answer my questions about the menu and my milk allergy. I need to call him back because the kale salad was delicious! Thanks to Lick Ice Creams for the Coconut, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Swirl vegan ice cream. One word: YUM!

I know I could have “pumped and dumped” and enjoyed the wine pairings provided by Lost Oak Winery, but I refrained and, frankly, there’s only so many shenanigans a group of (mostly) strange women can handle from me. One dinner attendee and blogger said I was a lot of crazy … welcome to my Husband’s life! Obviously I don’t need alcohol to have a good time. Instead, I wear a ridiculous purple ex-bridesmaid dress and a pink tiara. While I didn’t drink any wine, I’m still grateful that Lost Oak was part of our evening because I got to visit with Roxanne, the winery’s manager. I’ve known her a while and she’s a big dose of fun in a little package. I even got to see the wine labels that I helped design through a focus group a year ago!

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I’m really sad I missed the big group photo but I had to leave early because my boobs were about to explode with milk. I got very uncomfortable (that means my boobs were really full) around the entrée course and ate dessert while hugging and saying goodbye to everyone. I had a blast though and I hope we have future gatherings so I can wear my ex-bridesmaid dress again. Fortunately, it’s a wardrobe piece that can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion. :)

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11 { Kamden’s Monthly Update }

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Okay, so I’m late (AGAIN!) with Kamden’s monthly update post but I have a really good reason this time: I’ve been in the fetal position crying my eyes out as this is the last update before Kamden turns one. People, he’s almost ONE YEAR old! What happened to my itsy-bitsy bundle of orange jaundice baby I brought home from the hospital?! (Wahhhhhhhh.)

GROWING // Kamden, my boy, you are growing each and every day. You’re getting taller and leaner, which means those chubby cheeks you used to have are disappearing. You are well over 30 inches long and will most likely be a tall guy when you’re older.

I’m sorry, but you look 12 in this picture. That breaks this mother’s heart.

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EATING // Okay, Mister Picky, what’s up with your eating habits lately? You have been leaving some breast milk in the bottle after a feeding and you are still not 100% sure about the solid foods we’ve been giving you. However, if it starts with BA and ends with NANA, you’re on that like white on rice. Boy, you love some banana! I can sneak a few bites of carrot, sweet potato, avocado, mango, and green beans to you *IF* there are bites of banana in between. And you still hate the spoon so we’re still hand-feeding you. Except for the Puffs, you pick those up. In the grand scheme of things, Happy Puffs aren’t *THAT* bad and it’s not like you’re eating a million a day either. Besides, they are free of wheat (gluten), soy, and corn, and have more protein and fiber, and lots of good vitamins and minerals than other brands. We have all six flavors readily available for you to consume – greens (spinach and kale), apple, banana, sweet potato, strawberry, and purple carrot and blueberry – and you seem to enjoy them, which makes Mommy and Daddy happy. Added bonus: you’re mastering gross motor skills by picking up small pieces and feeding yourself. Now, about that spoon …

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SLEEPING // All right, three days ago I might have been singing a different tune, but you blessed Mommy and Daddy by sleeping nine consecutive hours last night and I am beyond grateful. It’s amazing what a clear, rested mind will do for one’s well-being. Thank you, my child, thank you. It’s obvious you love your shut-eye but we got a bit off your usual routine a couple of weeks ago, not sure how we did it but we did and we’re slowly trying to get you back on track. Ideally, you sleep 10-12 (consecutive) hours at night plus one or two naps (at least an hour each) during the day.

PLAYING + CRAWLING // Mommy and Daddy’s master bedroom has become your preferred play area. To prevent you from banging your head on the tile or hardwood floors in the living room and kitchen, our bedroom has carpet and that makes us less concerned about your safety. You love the extra space to play and crawl and you use the furniture to pull yourself up and stand. You also love standing by the windows and hitting the door stops. You make the sweetest, most hilarious giggle at the vibrating noise of the door stops!

WEARING // You’re still wearing 2T and 3T clothes, but I recently went through your closet again and found an outfit (size 18-24 months) that fits. The particular brand is known to run much larger than average so I’m glad I decided to keep it during my last closet-purge session. Even with a bulky diaper and chubby belly, your waist and legs are smaller in size than your upper-body, particularly your chest and shoulders. All of the shirts you wear are at least 2T but most are 3T. Your pants are 24-month or 2T.

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LOVING // Classes at The Little Gym; splashing in the bath tub; eating bananas and Puffs; playing with Daddy; reading and cuddles with Mommy; and sleeping.

LOATHING // Diaper changes; being told “no” or have something taken away; eating with a spoon; being still so Mommy can apply lotion after a bath

END OF YEAR BUCKET LIST // We better get a jump on our to-do list here:

  • Go to a high school football game.
  • Decorate a pumpkin.
  • Go trick or treating (trunk or treat).
  • Take pictures in pumpkin patch.
  • Donate to the food bank.
  • Wear a Halloween costume.
  • Pick apples at an orchard. Bake an apple pie.
  • Invite friends over for chili and football.
  • Visit the State Fair of Texas.
  • Go to a fall festival and/or craft fair.
  • Eat Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Watch a Christmas parade.
  • Have a family portrait session.
  • Mail Christmas cards.
  • Write a letter to Santa Clause.
  • Adopt a child from the Angel Tree and buy Christmas gifts for them.
  • Drive through a neighborhood and look at Christmas lights.
  • Read Christmas and Advent stories or books.
  • Deliver homemade cookies to friends and neighbors.
  • Sing Christmas carols.
  • Take pictures with Santa.


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Damn if you do. Damn if you don’t. #ExclusivePumping #EPing

In the last three days, I’ve gotten very little sleep thanks to an infant-toddler-Mini-Man-child who has taken our seemingly perfect, well-orchestrated, been working for 11 months schedule and tossed it into the garbage. I’m tired. I’m confused. I’m a little frustrated and a lot dumbfounded as to why Kamden’s schedule (specifically at night and in the wee hours of the morning) has gone to hell in a hand basket. To add insult to injury, as I’m scrolling through social media feeds at 4am, I read this gem of so-called science telling me I’m doing more harm than good by exclusively pumping instead of feeding my child directly from the breast. Awesome. Fan-freaking-tastic. Go ahead and erase my name off that Mom of The Year award because, obviously, I am harming my child by giving him pumped breast milk in a bottle.

Damn if you breastfeed. Damn if you formula feed. And damn if you pump too. I wish these “experts” would make up their damn minds!

So breast is best, I get it. I really do. When I discovered I was pregnant, something ‘just clicked’ and I knew I would breastfeed, or at least try. My initial goal was to breastfeed for a couple of months, but once I made it to six months, I pushed my goal out to one year. We are one month away from meeting that milestone. I was insistent upon skin-to-skin contact after Kamden’s birth to initiate proper feeding, latching, and milk production. My prayers were answered because Kamden began sucking, and inhaling that oh-so-precious colostrum, just moments after he was born. Our breastfeeding journey had a beautiful beginning. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I have a very abundant supply, a forceful let down,  and the desire for others to feed and bond with my child other than myself. If that makes me a selfish, how-dare-you mom, well, so be it. As much as I love my kid, I want others to have the opportunity to feed him – he needs it, I need it, and they need it too. Kamden’s always been an eager eater, consuming six ounces every few hours since he was two months old, but even my supply is too much for him to handle. In one pumping session, I can collect up to 18 ounces in less than a half-hour. As far as bonding with him, we’re pretty close when I’m feeding pumped breast milk with a bottle. There were a few times, when he was younger, smaller, and less mobile, that I would prop him on a pillow beside me and pump simultaneously. We’re not skin-to-skin like we would be if I were breastfeeding, but we’re still up in each other’s business. Last night, for example, while feeding him before bed, Kamden rubbed my arm, held my thumb, made eye contact, and even stuck his finger in my nose. If that’s not bonding, I don’t know what is.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery and as far as science and medicine advances, a mother’s breast milk will never be duplicated and manufactured in a can of formula. I honestly don’t give two shucks if you breastfeed, bottle feed, formula feed, or a mix thereof. Your baby, your choice. I’m choosing to feed my child my breast milk because it is as God intended, readily available and mass produced by my body, and considerably cheaper than formula. But there are 2,500 other reasons I choose to pump: the premature and sick babies in NICU departments across the country that are drinking my milk. To date, I’ve donated more than 2,500 ounces (that’s almost 20 GALLONS) to the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas. If you consider that most NICU babies consume about one ounce of milk per feeding, I’ve provided 2,500 high-fat, high-protein, high-carb, no dairy, natural meals. Now, I don’t know exactly how many babies have consumed my milk at which hospital or NICU department, but I am confident that those precious babies (and their families) are grateful that I (and other donor moms) am pumping. Sure, I could have worked more extensively with a lactation consultant or pumped less frequently to “train” my body to produce less milk. I could have worked with Kamden to find a more comfortable position for him to nurse and not get choked by my aggressive let down. I could have chosen to formula feed. In other words, I don’t have to pump. I don’t have to disrobe multiple times day and night and put on my hands-free pumping bra and strap myself to a Medela pump, but I do. Kamden’s grateful that I pump and those NICU babies are thankful I pump too.

So I have just two words for the so called “experts” who equate formula to pumped breast milk: screw you. I’d use another verb but my 86-year-old grandmother reads this blog. Screw you, for assuming I’m “jumping on the EPing bandwagon” for grins and giggles. Screw you, for implying my efforts to provide my baby the best my body has to offer is in vain. Screw you, for implying my nightly washing of bottles and pump parts is not clean enough and my milk is dirty, or worse, contaminated. I’d be willing to go toe to toe with anyone who argues my son is less healthy than breastfed babies. In fact, he is 11 months old and has never had a stomach bug, upper respiratory infection, or ear infection. Admittedly, I do not sterilize anything and everything he comes into contact because, well, I’m just now that concerned or paranoid about a little dirt. I see it as immune building. Screw you, for implying bottle-fed babies eat too much compared to their breastfed counterparts. If that were true, according to my regular pumping output, Kamden would consume 12-18 ounces per session instead of the six he gets from a bottle. Hey Jackwagon, in case you’re as illiterate in mathematics as you are lactation, that’s two or three times as much per feeding! Screw you, also, for indicating in your evidence-less research paper that breast milk from a bottle is not equivalent to milk directly from the breast. You insinuate this ridiculous statement based on nutrition, comfort, closeness, soothing, and security. As mentioned above, I’m pretty sure Kamden is in my arms and lap, or the arms and lap of another loved one, during his feedings. He’s not eating from a drip bottle found in hamster cages. And, finally, screw you, lactation experts, for implying that I, an exclusive pumper, am not enjoying the full range of benefits as a mother who breastfeeds her baby. While my progress might be slower than others, I am continuing to lose weight and I am  NOT suffering post-partum depression. Choosing to pump exclusively was not a decision I made lightly or on a whim or for mere convenience. I’m fortunate to stay home and incorporate pumping into my daily (and nightly) routine. While I am not bothered or inconvenienced by pumping, it is most certainly an integral part of my life and my family’s lives as well. I consider it one of my many ‘jobs’ to complete each day and I hold myself responsible to feed my son and collect as much milk as possible for the milk bank and NICU babies.

My success as a mother is not defined by whether I feed my child at he breast, pumped breast milk by bottle, or formula. My child is healthy, happy, content, and loved more than he will ever know or words could describe. As for those lactation “experts” writing ridiculous articles, they can go suck a lemon.


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Finish This #46

IT’S WEEK 46 OF FINISH THIS … If this is your first time here, welcome. If you’re a repeat participant, thanks for playing along and joining the shenanigans. Your co-hosts are LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31) and the instructions are simple: answer the prompts on your blog and add the post to the link up. Next week, we’ll do it all over again with a new set of prompts (located at the bottom of this post). Let’s get started!

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The *YEAR IN REVIEW* link up is fast approaching, make sure you’ve completed the questionnaire by December 31 and participate!
If you are a blogger then you absolutely MUST complete the *YEAR IN REVIEW* questionnaire. If you’ve never completed a similar questionnaire, click HERE. This special event will take place during WEEK 52 of the Finish This link-up, beginning Wednesday, December 31. Please share this with other bloggers. In case you’re easily distracted or forgetful, I’ll periodically remind you of this awesome event!

1. If I could fly to any destination tomorrow, I’d go to
domestic // I’d go to Kentucky for an extra long Thanksgiving holiday. Or to New York City for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I’ve always thought spending the holidays (Thanksgiving or Christmas) in NYC would be mucho-fun.

international // I’m not picky. I really want to return to Jerusalem. Now that I’ve been and I’ve studied more of the sites and places I saw last year, I want to go back with a fresh, better perspective. I also think I missed a lot of details because I was so overwhelmed by the WOW that is The Holy Land … and taking 3,000 pictures! I also want to see the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican. One of these days I’m going to enjoy one of those cabanas in Bora Bora that hover above the ocean too. Don’t mind me, I’ll just be floating with the fishies.

2. My best advice for travelling is
allow extra time in the airport or on the roads. Husband makes major fun of me because I want to get to the airport at least two hours prior to our departure time and I’m a nervous wreck if we’re cutting it too close. I hate – LOATHE – being late, and I sure as hell don’t want to miss a flight because that’s wasted money!!!!! Now that I’m a Mom and have travelled with Kamden, I think extra time and patience are even more important. Even though Kamden was a rock star on his first plane ride, and slept the majority of all the flights, I had plenty of patience packed.

3. I like to travel because
I love re-visiting places I’ve enjoyed in the past and new places I’ve never been. The sense of adventure is exciting to me, and not always having a specified schedule is nice too. If I want some time to rest and relax, I can. Or, if I want to explore and seek adventures, I can do that too. Wherever I go, I always eat a restaurants the locals recommend – I never eat at chain establishments. BORING! I wish Husband enjoyed travelling but he’s a homebody. (sigh.)

Prompts for WEEK 47– November 26
My favorite Thanksgiving tradition
My most memorable Thanksgiving was
My favorite Thanksgiving food or dish
I’m so thankful


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More Fun at The Little Gym

Once a week, Kamden and I visit The Little Gym for an hour-long class. We’ve been attending these classes since June, when Kamden was six months old. I have seen major progress in his social and physical development and, if I’m being completely transparent, it’s been nice (socially) for Mommy to be with other adults too!

Now that Kamden is mobile – crawling, standing, and walking with assistance – he is enjoying The Little Gym more than ever. As soon as we arrive, he’s anxious to get out of the car seat so he can explore. The activity room is lined with floor mats, balance beams, parallel bars, and tumble mats. Kamden loves standing and walking between the parallel bars. He’s also crawling on, over, and between tumble mats and using the padded steps to stand on his own.

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This week, Miss Karen, Kamden’s  teacher, arranged one of the wider balance beams between a set of parallel bars. In addition to walking along the beam, Kamden and his classmates (who are called BUGS) did forward rolls with their parents’ assistance. Once we were done with that activity, Kamden stayed in the area to further explore the beam and bars. At one point, he wedged himself between the two and looked up at me like it was my fault that he was stuck … AS IF!!!!

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Kamden is 100% boy. He’s so inquisitive and loves to explore. Every time we enter the gym, he makes a mad dash to the bright red and yellow straps and floor anchors supporting the uneven bars. It’s quite the chore to keep him on the big red mat for group singing, floor exercises, and Mommy-and-Me time because he wants to be on his own exploring and investigating!

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“Hey Mom, can you not bother me while I try to figure out this apparatus?”

At the end of each class, before we sing goodbye songs, the BUGS sit on the big red mat while Miss Karen blows bubbles. It’s the cutest thing. Kamden’s infatuation with bubbles melts my heart. He’s so intrigued by them!

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I’m so glad this boy is mine. :)

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