Monthly Archives: May 2012

Numb

I found out last night (on my birthday, no less) that my uncle died suddenly while at work.  I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and saw a post from one of my cousins about it and I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I was hoping she had another uncle with the same name and wasn’t referring to our uncle, our mothers’ only brother.  It didn’t help that there weren’t very many details on her posts and I couldn’t get a hold of my mom.  I wasn’t about to call my grandma.  There was no way I could handle that call.

Devastation.

I can’t explain this feeling of heaviness in the pit of my stomach.

I have been immensely blessed my entire life to not be so close to death.  Sure, relatives and friends have passed away in my lifetime, but none so close as this.  My grandfather died when I was 9.  I remember it, but since they lived in Minnesota and us in Arizona we weren’t as close as my Arizona grandparents.  Other great-aunts and -uncles have passed away — some recently, unfortunately — but it didn’t hurt as much at those times.

The girls and I will be flying back to the States for the funeral and to spend time with my family.  I’m not sure how multiple flights — 2 trans-Atlantic ones — alone with 2 small children will go, but I’ll make it work.  I’ll figure it out.  It has to work.  I believe there will be wonderful, helpful people on all the flights eager to lend a hand to me, a young, frazzled, solo-traveling parent of 2 kids 2 and under.

I do find respite in the fact that my uncle was a believer.  He is no longer dealing with the painful effects of Lyme disease.  He is in paradise with his earthly father and heavenly father.  And we are the ones suffering, the ones left here on Earth.

My uncle was a funny man.  He loved kids.  I’m so immensely happy I made the effort to go back to my mom’s hometown for Thanksgiving last year.  I got to see him one last time.  He got to meet Little E.  I will never forget how he looked at my two girls.  Rest in peace, Uncle.  May we living ones left find a way to move on with life without you.  It will never be the same.

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HausMiller Village Life

At The Playground

Big Ive LOVES to walk down the hill of our village to go to the little kid playground.  She’s a big fan of the swing and is starting to be ok with sliding down the small slide without a parent holding her hands the entire way down.  After a hard hit on the slide at school she’s been a little hesitant about sliding down by herself.

We have to walk by this fountain every time we go to the park.  They recently put flower boxes of geraniums out.  Big Ive makes me stop and let her walk around on top of the short wall every time we go by.  They turned the water on (finally) but it doesn’t seem to be on all the time, which is strange to me.  We’ll go by and it’ll be on and then when we come back a while later it’s off.

Big Ive learned to climb up the little rock wall on the play structure to go down the slide herself at the park.  She slipped her leg through the rope bridge and my stomach caught in my throat, I was afraid she would get hurt.

She was holding out her arms telling a little girl not much younger than she is to slide down.  She wanted to catch her.

Little E in the swing.  Big Ive trying to tell me to take her out so she could swing.  This trip to the park had me teaching Big Ive to swing on her tummy on the tire swings because she wanted to swing in the baby swing which held Little E.

This last time we were at the playground a German boy of about 10 asked me (in German, of course) if I spoke German.  I said no and that my German isn’t very good (in German, of course) and so he asked if I spoke English (in German, of course).  (I said yes in English.  Of course.)  He seemed very interested in me.  He knew a handful of words in English but said he didn’t speak English when I asked him.

We brought the sand toys along with us for this playground trip.  Big Ive really liked playing with them.  The other kids did, too.  I put wet sand in the star-shaped bucket and packed it so when it was inverted it  kept its shape.  That was a big hit.  Too bad the kids knocked them over in about 20 seconds when it took me minutes to make it. 2 or 3 of those and I was done.  They could figure out how to do it themselves after that.

The 5 year old girls kept playing with the bucket, filling it with sand.  Then they found flowers, small pine cones, pine needles and sticks to decorate it.  I asked later if it was a cake or a castle and the mom said it was a cake.  A special cake.  I felt bad about ruining their cake, but we had to go home.

Big Ive only tried to run off from the playground about 4 times.  2 times she opened the little gate and made it over to the kids’ bikes parked at the entrance.  She also is good at trying to steal and use other kids’ bikes and toys.


Big Ive noticed the plastic nut was loose so she tried to “fix” it and tighten it.  She was getting a little dismayed that it was still “broken” so I had to tell her that it was fine and she did a good job of “fixing” it.  : )

I put Little E in the sand without socks for the first time.  She liked it.  I think today was the first time Big Ive has been in a sandbox without shoes and socks, too.  She squealed when she put her toes in the sand and wiggled them around.  It’s a nice feeling.  :)  Little E decided sand was ok.  She grabbed some and let it run through her fingers.  She would pick up a handful and open her hand to look at it and it would all fall out.  Then she started trying to eat it.  That’s when her sand adventure came to an end.

In The Backyard

Now that the weather is usually really nice in the evenings we go outside in the backyard as a family a lot.  Even more now that we have a garden planted and have to tend out baby plants.

We found out Big Ive can slip through the gate in the back yard onto the road behind our house.  She was mad we wouldn’t let her go jump on the big trampoline at our neighbor’s house because their kids were jumping, so she sneaked out the gate.  While we were watching.  I carried her back in the yard and she pitched a fit running over to some bushes mumbling/yelling, “Mad!  Mad!  Mad!”  Then she did some fake crying noises to keep the act going a bit longer.


She threw her ball in the bed of our Landlord’s trailer.


If you’re my friend on Facebook you saw I just posted a video clip of Big Ive drumming on her bucket drum while singing.

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[and other daily happenings 08-12.05.2012]

I just watched Little E stand up in the middle of the floor, not holding onto anything and take 6 steps!  OHmygoodness!  The most steps I’ve counted has been 8 so far.


Loot and plunder Krabbel!


Time out from plundering to suck her thumb.


And I realize that none of these photos show her walking even though I lead you in with that first paragraph about my 9-month old walking.

UPDATE 12 May 2012: Little E took her first 2 steps a couple days before she turned 9 months on Saturday May 5.  This week she has started walking just about everywhere.  She is a very UNsteady walker and falls down repeatedly.  But, she always gets back up.  For some reason she seems to do better when she is holding a toy in her hands.  : )  Silly baby.  She looks like a little zombie the way she walks: wide stance, wobble, unintelligable babble, sometimes a questionable smell like that of an undead…  Just kidding.  I keep her diapers changed right away.

On Tuesday May 8 we had lunch with LOML at the cafe across the street from the church after the morning women’s bible study.  It was impromptu and nice.  Our church is closer to his jobsite so it worked out for him to get away for an hour and eat with me and the girls.

Tulips are almost all done blooming around here now.  I wonder what flowers are next around here?  I have been seeing more geraniums in window boxes and pots this week.

Another side of that is that almost every single deciduous tree has all of its green leaves now!  The tree tunnel road is now green.  It was brown sticks for the longest time.  Grasses got green.  Bushes got green.  Small saplings and other little trees got green.  And now, finally, the big trees that cross over the road are green.  It is crazy beautiful.

It looked green to me in December (compared to Phoenix desert, just about anything looks green!) so every day that we get more green is just amazing to me.  I can’t believe it can get greener!


Interesting heart shaped flowers in the front planter box.  When they first started growing it looked like strange celery.

04 May 2012
LOML surprised us at Kindergarten Friday afternoon by coming home early.  It was so fun to have him show up and get to watch and play with Big Ive and her friends at school.


Building a horse barn.


Redecorating.


Eating all of the fruits and veggies in the kitchen.  We were trying to leave for about 20 minutes while she kept eating.

06 May 2012
An old friend from university is in Germany this week for a conference for work.  He drove the 4ish hours over here from Munich to spend the day with us.  It was so much fun.

10 May
Big Ive still says, “Doot”, and signs food when she is asking for food.  I have no idea how she changed that word around.  That was one of the first words she said.  She still says “Wow” when you ask her to say ‘pretty’.

She pointed to her happy birthday banner when I told her to say happy birthday to her Auntie.

I just asked her to say ‘little’ and she said ‘baby’.  I’m always telling her Little E is little so she needs to be careful.


My OCD child neatly placing the wooden blocks in perfectly even rows in the box, one at a time.

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Muttertag zweitausendzwölf

Mother’s Day 2012

A Mother’s Day to remember, that’s for sure.  My first Mother’s Day with 2 children.  My first Mother’s Day in Germany.


Two of the reasons why I’m celebrated on this day.

LOML, my incredibly thoughtful and loving husband, bought my mom a plane ticket to come visit for 5 weeks in June.  I was really surprised when I opened the card and read the little printout with the trip itinerary.  I opened the card when I was talking on Skype with my parents so they got to see my reaction, too.  They were in on this whole thing for a couple of months now!  I can’t believe my mom didn’t slip up.


LOML: Love of my life, apple of my eye, essence of my being, my soul mate, my best friend, my confidant, my fellow crazy person who decided that moving to Germany with 2 small children was a good idea, my traveling companion, my sugar daddy, my baby daddy, the person I am beyond honored to call my husband and get to share the rest of my life with.
And he’s ruggedly handsome. 

On the drive to church LOML left Big Ive’s sippy cup on the roof of the car and drove off.  He made it up about half of the steep curvy hill before it fell off.  We had to turn around and get it.  The girls wore their cute new dresses to church.  I ended up staying in the nursery to help out as there were a lot of 0-2 babies and one worker was sick.  And there was a little boy who was crying almost the entire time.  I picked him up and tried to comfort him.  Poor guy.  I got to listen to the last couple of songs and the band (a visiting group) played one of my favorite songs.  Little E was in my arms during that song.  It was kind of like old times when I played bass and sang at our church back home.  Music, dancing, church.  I need to talk to the pastor and see if they need a bass player or singer.  : )

Then we went to a little restaurant and had brunch.  Little E slept most of the time and Big Ive was all over the place.  I had a little ChupaChup sucker for her and she sat still for most of that.  I think I will be stocking up on more small suckers for her.

Big Ive fell asleep really quickly after getting home.  She has been hit and miss the past week with bedtimes and naptimes.  We’re good for a few days and I get lulled into thinking we’re onto a new path and then we have some really crappy days/evenings and I wonder if they’ll ever go to sleep by themselves at a reasonable time.  Little E played by herself downstairs with LOML and me.  She’s walking everywhere now.

Big Ive got up and LOML told me to go take a short nap before we were scheduled to meet his friends at the local restaurant by the soccer field here in our village.  They have been living in Germany since LOML was in the air force 10 years ago.  It was a really nice time to meet them, enjoy a drink and wrangle children.  The owner, Herrn K, gave Big Ive 2 scoops of ice cream, complete with M&Ms and a sparkly tassel decoration.  Then they gave her a piece of chocolate.  Kid was hyped up on sugar.

There was a soccer game this afternoon so they were selling concessions.  They had a big boombox playing music and Big Ive turned up the dial so it was really loud.  That scared her and she ran behind my legs.  A little later they moved the boombox to a different spot and she danced with the music.  It was cute.

She didn’t want to leave when we tried to go because another little girl had a purple tricycle that she wanted to ride.  She threw a fit and then got over it.  She tried to help pull the wagon with Little E in it.  She’s not a very straight driver.  : )

LOML called his mom and wished her a happy Mother’s Day.  I cooked spaghetti for supper.  Little E got her first taste of spaghetti and really liked it.  I let her feed herself and she was a mess.  But I had thought ahead and put her in her high chair only wearing a diaper.  Cleanup was easy with a quick bath.  When I brought her into the bathroom she started saying, “Ba, ba, ba, ba”.  I hadn’t told her I was taking her up for a bath, but she knew what that room was and that she gets baths.  It’s neat to see the beginnings of spoken language in her.


And she walks!

During another part of the day (can’t remember where, exactly), when we were trying to get Big Ive to leave somewhere she didn’t want, she started to throw a fit and said, “Sad!”  It was the first time I’ve heard her verbally express her feelings.  She had been saying the word ‘sad’ for a long time and says it frequently when Little E is crying.  This was the first time she’s said it for herself.  It is amazing to watch her grow and develop and start doing all of these new things all of the time.


Yeah, her nose may be a little snotty here, but I love her.

I’m staying up late tonight to call my family as they are celebrating Mother’s Day at my grandparents house this year.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there.  You are a mother if you have a living child or if your child is no longer living.  You are a mother if your child still lives at home or if they don’t.  You are a mother if you gave birth to your child or you did not give birth to your child.  You are a mother if you gave birth to babies you never saw and a mother if you took those babies and gave them homes.  Biological, Step, Birth, Foster, Adoptive – all mothers.  All deserving of a happy Mother’s Day.

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Stretching Our Green Thumbs – Garden Planted

. . . Well, most of the garden is planted, anyway.  Peas, beans, carrots and the rest of the onions are left.

This evening (Thursday 03 May) LOML took Big Ive out to start on the garden while I finished getting supper going.  He was able to get all of the little pepper, zucchini, squash and cucumber plants in the soil of the raised bed our Landlords are letting us use for our garden.  [[How generous and kind they are to let us use one of their raised beds!  I am in awe of how nice they have been and continue to be!]]

Row of kohlrabi.  I think it’s purple or red.  I’ve only ever had the green kind.

Big Ive checking out the hens.  She took the log off the door and was trying to get in to get the eggs.

They weren’t happy to be stuck in the stroller…

Whenever Big Ive walks by this little play house shed building she says, “Ouch”, because I told her it could hurt her if she touched it.  I didn’t want her getting splinters or cut by protruding nails or something like that.

She was happy in the grass until she took a face plant while crawling.

Our Landlord is grafting the local pear trees from his village in his backyard.  There are a handful of trees here in the village that they haven’t found a similar tree elsewhere so they want to preserve the strains of trees.  I have heard about tree grafting before and thought it was interesting, but I’ve never seen it being done up close and personal.  Very cool guy, our Landlord.

Salad greens and purples.  We have to eat a good sized salad every other day to keep the lettuce plants in check.

Tomato plant blossoms and baby tomato from our potted terrace tomato plants.  LOML figured we’d kill half the plants by now. 
They’re all still alive.  I have no idea what we will do with all of these tomatoes when I don’t eat them.

This is what it looks like when you garden with a toddler and a baby.

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It’s What We’re Eating – Baked Oatmeal

So, I had never heard of baked oatmeal before.  Baked french toast has been a favorite in our family for years, but I thought oatmeal could only be heaping mush in a bowl.  Yummy mush, but mush nonetheless. A friend put a pinterest pin on Facebook about a baked oatmeal recipe and it piqued my interest. I like oatmeal.  How does one make it baked?  I couldn’t even venture a guess.  The recipe I make is a mix of a few I found online, but based off of this one (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/baked-oatmeal-ii/) and this one (http://www.sugarfreemom.com/recipes/baked-oatmeal/).

I’m not a crazy sugar-free person, but I also didn’t think this needed butter to make it taste good.  I think the original recipes made a little drier soft granola bar type consistency, but I wanted it more moist so I increased the milk.  You can substitute other kinds of milk and egg replacers if you need to.  Use Bob’s Red Mill oats to make it gluten free (I hear they are the only certified GF oats available).

Baked Oatmeal

4 cups rolled oats
1/2 – 1 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like things.  I used about 3/4 cup and sprinkled a little more on top) (Honey can also be used instead, if you want)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or more or less depending on your like of cinnamon)
2 teaspoons baking powder (I have made it completely omitting this and it turns out just fine)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk (cow, soy, almond, etc will all work)
2 eggs (egg replacers are acceptable substitutes)
1/2 cup applesauce (1/2 cup melted butter can be used if you have no applesauce, but it defeats the more healthy recipe)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I leave this out sometimes and it is still good, too)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
Optional items to add: cut up banana, fresh blueberries, nuts, other fruit

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, eggs, applesauce and vanilla extract, mixing together well.  Stir in dried cranberries and any other optional items.  Pour into a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.

Big Ive loves it.  I love it.  I think I’ve made this 3 times in the past 2 weeks, making me get more oats at the store twice in a week.

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Another Weekend, Another Winefest in Another Village

On Saturday afternoon we went to another little village about 50 minutes from ours for another wine fest.  It was very warm on Saturday, over 80 degrees F.  The girls both got to wear shorts and short sleeves.  Big Ive made good use of her sonnenbrille (sunglasses).  She has taken to wearing them a lot lately.  We got to the village a little too early.  We hadn’t realized the festival actually started in the early evening, instead of being an all day one like the others we’d been to.  That was ok.  We stopped in a little family winery store courtyard.  LOML got a glass of wine, Big Ive got some apfelsaft (applejuice) and I got an apfelschorle (sparkling apple juice).  The Omas (Grandmas) were so taken by our kids that they brought over a slice of cake and told us it was for the kids to eat.  Big Ive thought that was just about the best thing ever and devoured the majority of the cake.


2 of the 3 loves of my life


I was glad I had my umbrella along.  It was so nice to have it to shade myself and the kids from the sun.  My fair skinned babies don’t stand a chance with the sun.  I’m sure LOML didn’t want to be seen with me holding an umbrella with English words for rain showers written all over it.  Oh, well.  It probably won’t be the last time that’ll happen!


I can’t believe how blue the sky looks in that photo.  Nothing has been re-touched.
Also, Big Ive is just so stinkin’ cute!  I can’t get over it!


Need a navigator?


That’s one stylish dandelion blowing child right there.

Big Ive found out that the first rule of dandelion seed blowing is to wipe your nose so the seeds don’t stick to the snot dripping from your top lip.


“Bath?!”

And, any trip with 2 small children wouldn’t be complete without 2 blowout diapers.  Won’t stop us from trying it again next weekend!  : )

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Family Walk Around The Village

We took a walk on one of the wander paths here in our village Sunday afternoon.  This one goes up a wooded path, passed horse property and breaks into lush green hills with some spectacular views of rural German countryside at the top of the hill.  We could keep walking for a long time on this trail, but the kids usually give us a time limit on how long we can be out and about.  We brought the soccer ball along and kicked that for a while.

She had so many dandelions she could not hang onto all of them!

Dad had to help get the ball out of the woods during our walk.

It seems like almost all of the photos I have of Little E to this point have been her in her car seat carrier.  She’s just so much more easily transported in that thing than carried.  And our stroller does not do too well on rough terrain.  Soon enough we’ll have photos of her doing all the things that Big Ive is doing now.

Little E rode on my shoulders most of the way home.  She was entirely fed up with being in her car seat carrier and she’s just too heavy to hold in your arms for an extended amount of time.  For a while she was grabbing my hair like the mouse did for Linguini in Ratatouille.  And part of the time she would clap her hands together while sitting up there.  She was SUPER happy with that ride arrangement.

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Teddy Bear Time Out [and other daily happenings 24.04 – 25.04.2012]

Big Ive has started to put her teddy bear in time out.  A few days ago she found her bear, brought it over to the place we usually put her for time out and told him, Time Out.  It comes out closer to “Timer”, but you can tell what she’s trying to do.  It makes me wonder if she’s intentionally mocking me or just mimicking like toddlers like to do.

putting her shoes on her doll

changing the doll’s diaper with about a million wipes

During a diaper change I was blowing raspberries on Little E’s belly.  Naturally, Big Ive had to attempt to blow raspberries on Little E’s belly, too.  I was surprised that she got a good raspberry going on the first try.  Little E thinks this is hilarious: the combination of her loved sister and getting raspberries on her belly.  LOVE!

Little E has one of the best little stink faces around.  It’s kind of a stink face smile.  LOML and I were up with her the other night after Big Ive went to bed and she would give him stink face smile after stink face smile.  That gave us some of the biggest fits of laughter we’ve had in a while.  It seems like our kids are really good at doing that for us.

It’s a blurry photo, but you can see the stink face pretty well.  There is also something in her mouth besides the 2 bottom teeth…

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We started attending a small group at our church for a study on the Lord’s Prayer.  It is going well, so far.  The kids are both in childcare while we attend the study.  I admit, it is really nice to have about an hour when both of us are not concentrating on wrangling 2 children that seem to go in 4 directions.

I also went to the women’s bible study on Tuesday morning for the first time, too.  It was nice to chat (in English!) with other women.  It was nice to drop of my kids for another hour, too.  Going back next week.

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Last week at Krabbelgruppe I brought a box of diapers that the girls had outgrown for another mom.  Her baby is, I found out, 4 days older than Little E.  But she’s much smaller!  She seemed surprised that I would give them to her and asked if she should pay for them.  Once I told her no she and I had a good conversation in broken English and broken German.  It was a really nice feeling.  I felt more welcome and more connected with all of the German moms because this one reached out to me a little more. Everyone has always been very nice to me, but I hadn’t really felt connected or a part of the group before now.  I left feeling good about it.

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I think I mentioned this oatmeal bake a friend of mine posted the recipe on FB.  I didn’t make that recipe, but something similar I found on the internet (with my tweaks, of course.  Who can just follow a recipe exactly?).  It is so good!  I have made 3 of them in about a week’s time now.  Big Ive loves it — especially the dried cranberries I put in.  LOML even said it was good — perhaps the first one I made would have been better had I remembered the sugar!  Oh, well.  I’ll post my version of the recipe soon.

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first ever bath photo of the girls posted online
I liked how all of the splash droplets have a shadow because of the flash.  And the kids are pretty happy.  This was right before Little E got too close to Big Ive and she pushed her over making her fall backward into the water.  She was perfectly fine except for a small mouthful of water.  I’m surprised this was the first time we’ve had something like that happen.

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On the way home from our small group study at church on Wednesday night Big Ive and I were having a conversation.  Well, as much of a conversation as you can have with someone that lacks a full vocabulary.  We haven’t had many conversations quite like this before so it was a lot of fun.  I’d say something and she would respond and sometimes say words I said.  We looked for the cows in the field on our way home.  At one point she said, “Night, night, Big Ive”.  So I asked her if she was going to sleep and she said NO! and started to laugh.  She was making a joke about going to sleep!  It was super cute.  I haven’t noticed her purposely make a funny like that before.

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Little E looks different this week, less like a little baby and more like the transition to a toddler.  It’s exciting and a little depressing at the same time.  My little baby isn’t so much of a little baby anymore.

She is starting to really cruise around furniture, corners rapidly this week.  She used to sit back down and crawl over to another spot to stand up if she wanted to move and now she’s walking while holding the furniture.  I bet she’ll be walking before May is over.

And, she is finally starting to eat more solid foods, but she still is not terribly interested in them.  More and more every day as I am just giving her whatever Big Ive or we are eating.  WIth Big Ive we fed her jarred baby foods for a long time.  Little E hasn’t had a single jar of baby food.  (Part of that is that I don’t know what I’m buying here in Germany because I can’t read the labels on the jars!)  Fruits, veggies, meats, breads, casseroles, quinoa, lentils — why not?  She seems to like just about everything I’ve tried giving her.  And since I’ve started to feed her more food she has started to sleep a little better the past couple of nights.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Whatever — I’m just happy for a few more hours of solid sleep.  [[If only I would go to bed instead of writing blog posts after 11pm!]]

crazy hair after a good nap

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LOML got a couple new shirts recently.  When he came home from work wearing one, Big Ive sat on the sofa next to him admiring the new shirt.  She was full of Wows and had to touch it all over.  Based on her reaction, he picked a fantastic new shirt.

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Big Ive said ‘read’ while holding one of her books.

because 1 bucket of toys dumped on the ground is not enough

me and Big Ive one morning

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