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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I love the way… you love me

I love that when I roll over you are always next to me.IMG-20110630-00149
I love your little giggles that develop more and more every day.
I love that you want to do everything your brother does and your first words are always, “where’s Andrew?”
I love that you put a little too much emphasis on the 3rd syllable in Alex(AN)der’s name … and that you don’t say the D.
I love your little chocolate kisses that come every time I ask for them.IMG-20110630-00148
I love that you will give me the “morning off” if I need a little extra time.
I love the way your eyes stare into mine.
I love that you still want me to carry you back to brush your teeth and be put into bed.
I love it when you smile – that little smile that only I know is a smile.
I love it when you get excited about something and try to “play it cool” like it’s no big deal… but really it is.
IMG-20110708-00173I love how you say, “ok?” at the end of your sentences. 
I love that you have to “fix” everything… tables, chairs,… everything.
I love that you try to fix things. Even when it doesn’t go quite as planned… you tried.
I love that when you smile you have this little gap between your front baby teeth.  It is perfect, because you are so beautiful and that crooked smile only makes your more so.IMG-20110707-00169
I love that you cuddle into the small of my neck … and want me when you are not feeling well.
I love that you love to sing. And when you sing the Bob the Builder theme song, your voice gets louder at the end of the song when they change keys.
I love that every time I come into your line of vision, you look at me like I am your hero.
I love that when I put you down for a nap, you still ask me if I will come sleep with you “after.” (you fall asleep)IMG-20110629-00137
I love that you are free with your “I love you’s,” hugs, and kisses – to anyone who asks
I love that you only give your “I love you’s,” hugs, and kisses to me. (well… and the kids)
Andrew and Addison are changing so quickly.  Although Alexander is not going through stages as quickly, it is important to remember the sweet things he is doing also.  And Ray… well, sometimes it is just a good thing to remind yourself the things you love about a person.

For those of you interested – here is the key:
Ray, Alexander, Addison, Andrew, Addison, Ray, Alexander, Andrew, Alexander, Ray, Addison, Andrew,Ray, Addison, Alexander, Andrew, Alexander, Addison, Addison, Ray

Monday, August 29, 2011

In my New Normal

I’ve started to follow this blog – Finding My New Normal.  I love how she writes and how open she is about her journey of dealing with her own demons. I had a rough weekend and was really worried writer’s block would keep me from writing anything worthwhile after my Big Post.  It turns out… I just needed a few moments to allow my “new normal” to unfold.
In my “new normal,” my life has some extra worries.  Thankfully, after I blog my fears away… they usually stay away.  My big fear has left. (pretty much.)  The other miracles that were laying on my heart have once again shown their strength and resilience.  One endured open heart surgery at age 4.  And. is. home. Our friends have been sick, battling seizures, and worrying about the consequences of the seizures.  In my “new normal,” these things weigh on my heart and follow me into my dreams.  But as good health returns to the members of our Wolf Hirschhorn family, my fears subside. 

In my “new normal” – those fears that remain… I try to write about in the hopes of blogging them away.  I found myself writing this post yesterday and then walking away from it.  Today was our first day back to school… and several students from last year asked me about Alexander.  I found myself repeating the same mantra I tried to instill in them all last year.  You can let life’s circumstances define you… capture you… bring you down.  Or you can rise above them… live out loud in spite of life’s circumstances … live out loud because of life’s circumstances.

As I found myself repeating those positive words all day, I remembered the healing power of the innocence of the young.  I found myself smiling, pushing those fears away, remembering why I love my job.  I knew I needed to come home and re-word this post. 

In my “new normal,” I rage against seizures, wrestle with my weight, worry about the amount of stimulation Alexander will get in a house without the twins, and try to be all things to all people.  In my “new normal,” I am learning that I cannot be all things to all people.  Just today, I forgot to order Alexander’s Prevacid (he is out of refills) and we almost broke his pump.  I was mentally preparing to get up every  1/2 hour to give Alexander his formula manually. (Pump is fixed… no worries there.) But, I am making lists to call the doctor and pharmacist tomorrow.  In my “new normal,” I have to remember to manage my time, find a space for me, be a positive influence for students, and remember that my family is a priority.

In my “new normal,” we celebrate the first back to school with an evening at the park.
He is so stinkin’ proud…. Just look at his face.  That expression says, “I’m cool, Mom.”
We rejoice in new tricks and old treasures found in – just being outside.

In my “new normal,” – we cherish our moments with our friends..
Yes… Andrew has a new girlfriend.  He asks about her almost every day….
In our “new normal,” we still get excited by small milestones that are met.  Alexander… riding in a cart – like a big boy. 

The stress will come.  I may launch myself over desks to answer a phone and feel pure RELIEF when it is not about Alexander.  I may forget to order medicines or schedule doctor’s appointments or even enter a grade.  I could dwell on the fact that I have a new normal… or I could embrace it.  I can chose to live. out. loud.  I can chose to dance in the rain.  I can chose to live the “life” I preach to my students.  I’m choosing it, baby. I’m choosing it.

I actually "cheated."  I wrote this post of my heart on Monday night, but - it is the follow - up to my last week's PYHO.  The post spiked at over 600 reads... I felt I should follow up with the I'm ok... in spite of fears post. 

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Friday's Confession Booth: You know what is more embarrassing?

Welcome to the first ever Friday's Confession Booth.  To participate - you write a "Confession Post."  It doesn't have to be serious, and you can read more about them HERE.  Then you grab the button and place it in your post to link back and share with everyone's confessions.


My Confession
 You know what is more embarrassing than weighing in at Weight Watchers?  Weighing in after you’ve been on a 5 week dieting hiatus.  At least at the first weigh in, I could just walk in – admit I was fat – and get on with it. ..

Now – here’s how I envision Monday going:

I go to weigh in.

“Why hello there.  What is your name again? We thought you quit.”

Nope… I’m still here. I just chose to give you a donation the past few weeks. I’ve been pretty busy.

“It can’t be that bad - just step up on the scales and let’s see what the damage is.” (snickering)

(me… quietly thinking about punching this girl).

“Hmmm! I see we haven’t been tracking our points this past … um … what was it? Month and a half?”

No, I chose to just donate to Weight Watchers.  I didn’t want to use their tools… just support their organization.

“That monthly fee can really add up. You should take advantage of these meetings.”

I give to Jesus because I want to and pay my taxes because I have to… You guys are somewhere in the middle, but definitely on the taxes side of things.

woman-yelling-5“Well, you’re back here now and that is all that matters.  +10lbs is … going to be a struggle, but it is doable.”

(me… quietly wanting to punch this girl.)

I wanted to make sure you still have a job.

“You know honey. This is about your health.”

(I might just punch this girl.)

Ray says I’m not allowed to continue to “donate” and not use the stuff we are paying for.  Kind of like the gym down the street that I donate to.  I seriously want to go on a diet before I go back to weight watchers because it will be humiliating to go in after paying dues all summer and step on the scales and be HEAVIER than I was when I started!  But, what can I say?  I’ve been on vacation, gone to parties, picnics, and every day promised I would begin to start watching what I eat.  Because of that promise, I give myself a “one day pass” to eat whatever I want today.  And.. then.. I. do. it. again. the next day. 

**sigh** I’m going to go have a snickers bar or something because on Monday – I’m going back to Weight Watchers. … Maybe.

There is my confession for the week.  I’m donating to Weight Watchers and slowly gaining weight because I’m too proud to go weigh in at a higher weight than I started at.

Take a minute – Link up your Friday's Confessional Post!

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Education can’t keep up

There are so many thoughts running through my head. 

First, there is the THANKS for the support from my post yesterday.
Second, there is the TEACHER-THAT-NEEDS-TO-SET-HERSELF-FREE thoughts…

I feel like a first year teacher.  I feel like I’ve never been in the classroom before.  Our world is changing so fast and we as educators can’t seem to keep up.

No cell phones in classrooms, but everyone uses cell phones everywhere else.

No cheating on tests but in the workforce we call that maximizing your potential or collaboration.

Students must LEARN all this knowledge … but unless you are a surgeon, when are people EVER on the spot so much that they can’t look something up?

What if? What if? What if?  These are the things that circle my mind today. 

We went back to work yesterday, and I could feel myself getting ENERGIZED to teach.

But how?  Every couple of years, it seems my educational philosophy shifts… just enough to cause … a complete overhaul in my classroom.

I’m doing it all differently.  I’m thrilled.  I’m scared.  I feel like a first year
teacher.  And I love it. (And secretly hate it.)

I’m re-creating the stage for the ultimate Apprentice reality series.  Only – I am in charge – and you have to pass to get “hired!”

I’ve changed the layout of my room. 

Imagine this:
  • Students will now be in 3 man pods.
  • One person will be designated as the leader for the task and they will rotate jobs within their groups.
  • They will grade each other.
  • I will also grade them.
  • They will be given a list of “tasks” – (a video / a PowerPoint / a paper / a portfolio / etc.)  that must be completed by the end of the marking period.
  • They can choose, as a group, which task they would like to complete for each unit of study. 
It will be:teacher_cartoon
Skills Based
Research Oriented
Technology Rich
Student Led

They must collaborate.  They will rotate groups and rotate leaders within their groups.  They must motivate.  The group leader will have extra responsibilities, have a different assessment rubric to rate the performance of the group, and will receive extra “credit” for how the group performs.  Like. In. Real. Life. 

So few of us actually work independently anymore.  And even if you do work alone, you still need to develop good people skills.  Besides that, I have the benefit of access to technology and I believe students need to have the ABILITY to understand a map or political cartoon or information found on the internet. 

So, students come in … collaborate together… pick their “mode” of assessment … and then answer an “over reaching” question using that medium.  All the while, I’m watching and guiding what they are doing – and they are holding each other responsible and accountable for work.  AWESOMENESS.

It is a complete re-vamp of my teaching style.  In one weekend.  Complete with lesson plans.  Ready. Set. Go.

I have to write rubrics, create classroom expectations, create posters, create teacher rubrics, narrow down my thoughts into how questions could possibly be answered in these mediums, design lessons to teach the essential skills needed to use the mediums, and …. look like I’m an old pro at it.  Because one slight pause – and students will sense indecisiveness… In order to make sure high standards are met, I have to make sure the entire package seems professional.  Have I said, “Ready. Set. Go.” yet? 

I’m so excited.  Without crushing my spirit – What do you think? Would you like to come learn in that classroom?  Have I mentioned how excited I am?

Ps. Don't forget - Bloggy friends - Tomorrow I am starting Friday's Confession Booth.  Just so you know - my confession is something funny and small - nothing deep like my past few posts.  It can be anything ... just post and link up! I'll be posting at 7am EST. and the link will be open then! 

pps. I was looking for motivational videos.. and found this. God is Good.. He knew just what we all needed.

ppps. I'm testing the "timed" posting now that I'm back at school... hopefully this works!  
Picture is from HERE

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Letter to the Mothers who live my deepest fear

Just answer me one question, how do you go on?

If I would have been asked two years ago what my greatest fear was, I would have said, “Having an unhealthy baby.”  When you are pregnant these are the fears that occupy your mind.  When that fear was realized, I found a way to go on.  I knew it was not the end, but only the beginning of a new journey.  I knew… it wasn’t really my greatest fear.  I survived that fear… but I still have one left.

It is so crippling, that sometimes I struggle to breathe.  It consumes my thoughts at least once a day.  How do you endure the death of a child? 

This past two weeks, two beautiful people with the same syndrome as Alexander have passed on to Heaven.  I write those words from my head.  My head tells me that they are running free of all physical restrictions and are awaiting the arrival of their family in Heaven.  My faith tells my head that truth. 

But my heart won’t listen.  My heart brakes for the families of those children.  My heart rages at the syndrome that leaves so many fears.  My heart … crumbles into a million pieces as I admit my deep dark secret.  I am not as strong as I seem.  I do not know how those mothers go on.  I do not know if I would be able. 

In our small church, there are several mothers who have buried their children.  On Sunday, I sat and looked around, and my thoughts drifted to the parents – connected – to – me – through – genetics… I quietly wept.  Will I someday find myself amongst those ranks?  Who even thinks these thoughts?  Will I alienate myself because I have this fear?  Because I’ve aired it out loud?  How can I bury this fear?  Will I push myself further away from my friends who already don’t quite know what to say to me?

** My good friend (whom I ran this post by before publishing it) asked me WHY I am so scared right now.  I started to write it in this post, but erased it because it seemed too wordy.  Not only has our small community lost several beloved people lately, but other, more personal things have happened.
When I was pregnant with Alexander, we attempted to buy a bigger – 2 story – house.  Our attempts were not realized and I remember asking one of my closest confidants, “What if God is making sure we don’t sell our house because something is wrong with the baby?  What if he wants us to stay here because he knows we won’t be able to handle the stress of a bigger mortgage?”
Fast forward – we did not buy a bigger house.  That fear was realized.
A few weeks ago, there was an opportunity for us to possibly, again, attempt to get a bigger house for our family.  A larger house would also bring a larger mortgage and would commit us to a 2 paycheck family.  I prayed one prayer, “God… please let the decision to move or stay be an easy one to make.”  It turned out, that prayer was answered – the decision was easy.  The offer was not what we expected .. and we are staying.  In the back of my mind – I can’t help but think, “God knows my fears.  He knows I am week and might not be able to maintain a job if something happens to Alexander.  God is taking care of us.”  And it scares me – literally into a state of debilitation. **

I’m not sleeping. I’m literally paralyzed with this fear. I hold Alexander … and beg for mercy. I think of him constantly. And, truth be told – I don’t know how I would cope if anything happened to any of my children. And my head knows that anything can happen to anyone at anytime. But my heart worries for my medically fragile child. As each child is brought to us in prayer – death, seizures, complications …. it grips my heart.

But … really … how do those mothers go on?
There. I just poured my heart out.  Shell @ Things I Can’t Say encouraged me to do it…

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Wives, Submit to your Husbands

IMG_066Stop Laughing. Seriously. Stop Laughing.   It’s in the Bible, right?  I mean… all we have to do is just sit back, listen to what they say, and then .. do it.  Right?
A good friend of mine blogged about the Welcome to Holland Essay.  She used the “strikethrough” – which I think is the greatest literary tool ever invented, to make sure the essay conveyed her thoughts.  You can check it out HERE.  Although I’m not working on a special needs essay, I am going to use her methodology to dissect this excerpt from a 1950’s Home Ec textbook.:
The Good Housewife
The following is excerpted from an actual 1950's high school Home Economics textbook:

ADVANCE: How to be a Good Wife
HAVE DINNER READY: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious  edible meal--on time at some point in the evening. This is a way to let him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned with his needs Everyone needs to eat and you are going to end up fixing it either way, so you might as well get in the habit of doing it. Most men are hungry when they come home, and having a good meal ready is part of the warm welcome that is needed will make you wife of the year.

PREPARE YOURSELF: Take fifteen minutes to rest so that you will be refreshed when he arrives because you are exhausted from all your daily “chores”.  He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting Be sure to share with him all the stories of children pooping in the hallway and tearing out every shoe from every closet so he appreciates his time out, besides,. His boring day may need a lift. Greet him with a smile.

CLEAR AWAY THE CLUTTER: Make one last trip though the main part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up sighing at all the children's books and toys, papers, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order the site of a tornado landing, and it will give you lift too.

PREPARE THE CHILDREN: If they are small, wash their hands and faces and comb their hair. They are his little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.Try to find all your children. Attempt to make sure no one has any evidence of your poor parenting skills on their person – aka. left over lunch you didn’t get to wash off, poop still stuck to something, or buggers crusted on their cheeks. 

MINIMIZE ALL NOISE: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise from the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet. I have no words here. NO. WORDS. 

SOME "DO NOT'S": Don't greet him with problems and complaints. Don't complain if he is late for dinner. And expect that he won’t greet you that way either.  But do lean on each other … as a sounding board for your struggles and successes.  Count this as a minor problem compared to what he might have gone through that day. He probably had some big crisis he took care of at his big time job… but you gave all 3 children LIFE and kept them safe for another day.  You did ok too. Feel good about those accomplishments.

MAKE HIM COMFORTABLE: Have a cool or warm drink ready for him then fix yourself something with a kick. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest that he lie down in the bedroom help do something while you lie down in the bedroom. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes.  Again, NO. WORDS.  Speak in a low, soothing voice. By expressing yourself in that low “I’m gonna go crazy if I don’t get some help around here voice” you will scare him into doing something. Allow him to relax and unwind.

LISTEN TO HIM: You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival so make sure you get them all out quickly.  When he is firmly seated in front of Sports Center is not the time. Let him talk first  eventually.

MAKE THE EVENING HIS: Never complain if he doesn't take you to dinner or to other entertainment.Men forget that you are not a wife from 1950 and like to sit around and wait on their every need. Instead, try to help him understand his your world of strain and pressure and his your need to unwind and relax.


So…. where is the marriage to be?  1950’s style? Or the more “modern” version of today?  Or somewhere in between?  I will tell you this – I am NO marriage expert.
But, Biblically, it says in Ephesians 5:22 – Wives, submit to your husbands.  Guess what it says in Ephesians 5:28?  Husbands love your wife as you love yourself.  Yeah… it’s not one sided men. IMG_357

Have you ever heard the phrase, too many cooks in the kitchen?  Why is it that almost everyone can agree that a time CAN come when there are too many people in the kitchen and nothing runs effectively.  It would be better if there was one person in charge and others working on tasks.  (Uh oh… how many followers have I lost here?)  But, no one wants to admit that there can be too many leaders in the marriage?  (I can see the followers dropping like flies.)

IMG_384If Ray loves me as he loves himself – then I can submit.  Because I know that he would never do anything to harm himself and would only want the best for himself.  That does not mean that I can’t have an opinion.  Or offer my opinion. Or that we don’t argue… a lot. Or that probably a lot of people would say, “I can’t believe she thinks she submits to him.” Because often when we are out it seems I am in charge. 

Looks can be deceiving.  There can only be one Rooster in the henhouse, one cook in the kitchen.. but it is a two sided equation.  I expect that Ray will love me as he loves himself.  And he can expect me to submit. 

Eventually. (Just kidding!)

So… what do you think?  Should that verse be thrown out completely?  Interpreted differently?  Who’s the BOSS in your family?  Who’s telling me off and moving on to a new blog? It is ok. 

(ps. as I was writing this Ray was plucking my last nerve and I told him I was going to delete everything I said after my re-write of the Good Wife…. so I guess I’m still working on the submission thing.)

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Friends In Fun Places

Our Wolf Hirschhorn Family has been ROCKIN' some awesomeness lately:

1.  If you are in the greater Philadelphia (PA - the only one) area and want to check out a GREAT fundraiser - check out Tee it up for Tanner.  An amazing golf outing for one of Alexander's BFF's.  The guys golf (or girls... we are not gender specific), the girls walk, the kids hang out, and there is a beef and beer later.  Tanner's parents are a true testimony of love with a blended family where WHS is a tiny part of life.  LOVE THESE GUYS.  For more info on Tee it up for Tanner - check out their BLOG or contact us.

2.  All the way from Australia (the country) comes Alexander's on-line BFF.  Ellie is Amazing.  And check her out on TV!!! Her parents took part in this perfect segment that pretty much sums up 4p- and their awesome look on life.  LOVE THESE GUYS TOO!  Here is the video

or to go to their blog click HERE.

Have a great Sunday and check back tomorrow when we discuss the idea of "wives submitting to their husbands"


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Friday's Confession Booth

I must confess... I love some of the link-ups I have participated in this summer.  I especially like Shell's link-up at Things I Can't Say.

So, I realized that I LOVE to "Confess" things on my blog.

Sometimes it is serious stuff like about "the syndrome", but often it is light hearted things like "I'm a bad parent," or "how my weight is the bane of my existence."

For an example of a serious post check HERE 
If you are looking for examples of light hearted confessions - check HERE and HERE and HERE.

See - like I said, I confess everything.  So I decided to create my own Link - up.


Here are the Rules:

Friday's Confession Booth

Confess something.  It can be a little thing or a big thing.
It can be about yourself.
It can be about your husband / family / kids.
It can be about kids going off to school or the love/hate relationship you have with Walmart 
It can TOTALLY be light hearted.  
Remember: Confessions don't mean you must share your deepest darkest secrets...
Most of us "confess" on our blogs anyway.
This will just be a great way to share with each other and build a little community.
Then you grab a button and link up.

Every Friday.... Come rain or shine... the Confession Booth is OPEN.

*** All Call to my most faithful Blogger Friends.... 
Think of SOMETHING to link up for this Friday.. 
Please... ****

I know I don't have to say this... but - PLEASE  remember... people come from all walks of life. If someone is here to share - we will all support each other.  Just like your Momma said, "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all." 

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Friday, August 19, 2011

The Day we Scammed a Great Man…

You know what is a total rip off?  Going to an Amusement Park.  Tickets are close to $50.00 each (family of 5 = $250), parking is $12.00 for a car, food is outrageous (a soda usually cost in the $3.00 – $4.00 range), and you end up with a $500.00 DAY in no time.  Unless you are us… We totally ripped off Milton Hershey today.

In my eyes, Milton Hershey is a great man.  Milton Hershey is known for his amazing chocolate – which would automatically make him a great man in my eyes.  But, he also uses the money from his ventures to fund a private school (requirement for entrance?  Poverty), and the hospital that has saved Alexander’s life several times. 

Even though all those positive things come from his vision, when we enter the town of Hershey, my gut clenches tight.  My palms get sweaty and I can feel my heart race - because 99.99% of  our visits are related to a complication from Alexander’s syndrome.  The other day we went to Hershey for a routine appointment… and as we were leaving, I saw Life Lion (Hershey’s Helicopter) land.  I had to pull in a parking lot... I needed a moment to gather myself together before driving home – the feelings were that debilitating. .

Yesterday we went to Hershey.  To the Amusement Park. With the kids. And once again… turned a place filled with negative memories into a place filled with positive ones.  I found myself reminded of all the greatness Milton Hershey is responsible for as I experienced his playground through the eyes of a child.
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The carousel Horses were a big hit.  Ray even showed Andrew how to make his horse go “faster” using the reigns.  Isn’t 2 years old a great age?
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We left Alexander at home (to cuddles and hugs) because of the heat factor.  Andrew and Addison were free (under age 3), Ray and I used couponed tickets ($50.00 total), and … well – let’s face it – the twins are a cheap date.  Split a hotdog and some water and they are happy as clams.  They skipped a nap and rode every ride they possibly could all day long.  The lines are really short for kiddie rides and they rode and rode and rode.  All the while, squealing in delight and begging for the next ride. 
Uncle Tim has a motorcycle – so they had to be just like him.  And… they wanted to ride the helicopter just like the one that comes to help Alexander and Mommy. 
Andrew does take driving very seriously.  Just like his Daddy.
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We even rode on the cars that you really drive around the track.  Addison drove for about 10 seconds, but Andrew was all about driving that car.  I mean… the pride that came off that kid was palatable.
Trains are still our favorite, so we rode the train.  And while we were riding around the park, I looked over at my family and saw 3 smiling faces.  No worry lines across Ray’s brow.  Nothing but giggles coming from the twins.  Hershey… a place of excitement and fun … was just that.  The medical center (that does so much GOOD and we are grateful for) seemed so far away.  I was reminded that Hershey was to be a wonderland of opportunity and hope. 
Next year, we will come back. The twins will have to pay… and the lines might be longer… and they might be pickier about their food. And we might give you $400 for a day of fun. But yesterday, you gave us a million dollars of happy memories. I think we got the better deal, so thank you, Milton Hershey.
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I told you Alexander was well taken care of.  We came home and the little guy was exhausted from all his loving.  One more happy moment of the day.  Alexander standing up to the tub.  I am basically just putting side pressure on his torso to keep him vertically in line.  He was totally rockin’ the after bath stand. 

Hope everyone has a great weekend…
Tell me – anyone take a bad memory and turn it into a good one lately?

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