Keep Swimming!

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I just got back from a silent retreat this past weekend.  It was so beautiful, and so refreshing and so wonderful I couldn’t help but think of how much I just wanted to blog, blog, blog while I was there and share all these fantastic moments which each of you! As if somehow, by my mere writing here, I could pass on the gifts and sprinkle the seeds of refreshment to all of you who stop by for a read and perhaps, need your inner wellspring tapped up a bit like I did!

It was a silent retreat and there was practically perpetual adoration. God is SO good. One of the nuggets of wisdom a very holy nun shared with all of us was what I wanted to share with you all here.

I think Lent is a good time anyway for me to share something a bit more edifying than usual!

In talking about maintaining peace and discerning what is truly of God and what is not, Sister challenged all of us women,

‘Don’t dialogue with disquieting thoughts’

Disquieting thoughts. It hit me so much, who of us doesn’t get those? Don’t they usually come as your trying to fall asleep? Or when your running late? Or sometimes the minute you wake up? Or when we’re visiting people’s homes? Or getting dressed to go out?

I know I get disquieting thoughts. And I know I often fall so far into the trap of entering into a dialogue with them.

Not talking here about temptations, but rather ‘disquieting thoughts’. Those thoughts that rip away your inner peace, that rip away the love of a Savior from our hearts.

Thoughts like when we replay arguments in our heads, and think of things we could have said better. Or when we hear those questions in our souls, about whether or not feelings we had in prayer were really God’s promptings or if we just made them up ourselves?

What about when we revisit memories of past hurts? Do you ever do that? Do you find yourself getting so entangled in that memory and feel those feelings so closely again that you could cry?

Are we ever offended by people? Are we bothered by what someone said?

Disquieting thoughts.

I love that phrase because it grabs that process by the throat and says, “I know what you really are“.

And I love Sister’s advice don’t dialogue with them because now we know what to do when we catch those thoughts bubbling up again.

This too, is the essence in progressing in our relationship with Christ. Harnessing those thoughts as a barometer for discernment.

In the Ignatian method of discernment there is a lot of reflecting on your ‘inner barometer’, namely, when you have a thought, or an urge in prayer or maybe in the midst of your day… deep down there inside your inner spirit how do you feel?

Do you feel more peaceful when you ponder the situation or idea? Or do you feel ‘disquieted‘ ?

Essentially, is this bringing you closer to heaven? Or farther away?

Do I feel more at peace from this thought/article/conversation or less?

How is this helping my vocation?

Maybe I’m being super basic here. But this is how basic I need things for my own prayer life. I’ve found these points to be so fruitful and so helpful for everything from what I’m watching, what blogs I am reading, conversations I am having, and even places I go to.

The surest way of discernment, at least for me, seems to be that simple quieting thought of

‘Where is this leading me to?’ ‘Is it aiding my journey at all?” ‘ Is it uplifting to my soul and truly nourishing to my spirit?’

These were all points that were made this weekend to me, and that really drove home what I needed to understand. Our need for nourishment. Good, real, whole, nourishment of our souls.

And disquieting thoughts are anything but nourishing. They only serve to distract us, get us all riled up over frivolity and change our focus point onto ourselves.

Sister Shirely Ann looked right at all of us with a big smile on her face, but a very firm voice and advised each of us to cut it off, whatever it may be that is junk food for your soul. Even if it’s just People magazine, even if it’s just a reality TV show… she practically shouted,

Don’t enter into that dialogue! Don’t do it! Because guess what? There’s no treading water in the spiritual life. You are either going forward or backwards.”

Which way are we going? What will it take for us to snap out of it?

It is moments like these that I am so grateful for the lives of Sarah Harkins and Paul Coakley, to further fuel that flame of desire and bring back into focus the things that really matter.

Let us use the remainder of Lent to encourage one another to stop treading water, whatever it may be… and instead nourish our souls with things that will truly propel us forward in our spiritual journey!





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#thisiswhatIkeeponmyphone #writeasyougo  #sallylouwho #truth


  • You are only special if I had to move the furniture to vacuum before you came over.

  • A hairless dog wearing a faux fur coat is the epitome of oxymorons.

  • Stockings will always have runs in them, the one day you shave your legs to wear them.

  • All men produce 3 outfits worth of a laundry a day.

  • When you put up your hoodie hood at night, standing in front of the mall, you look like a gangster.

  • Poop in the tub always happens on days with not enough wine.

  • Talking dolls and sneaking through the kid’s rooms at night reek havoc on your urinary tract.

  •  Crayons and new furniture should never be in a one mile radius of each other.

  • Neither should nail polish and new furniture.

  • They will always pee their pants when you are running late.

  • They will always pee their pants when you are at an event where peeing your pants is frowned upon.


  • Always bank on one child loudly repeating your personal opinion about Sally Lou Who the next time you run into her.

  • If you don’t trim your facial hair ladies, you can’t blame my kid for noticing.

  • Always remember to flush the toilet during your lady time of the month. Kids are very, very easily scared.

  • Trusting a 3 year old with running water is stupidity.

  • You’re lying to yourself if you bought the cookbook ‘Deceptively Delicious’

  • Forget the phrase ‘kid in a candy shop’  holla if you’ve seen ‘kid in a Target’

  • You can never really write what you want to write on your blog, if everyone you know is literate.

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The Big Buzz Lesson

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All month in December leading up until Christmas I routinely would ask the kids what three things were on their ‘list’.  I knew what was going to be the top item on Charlie’s list, and every time he never disappointed, “A BIG BUZZ!”

He had been given (by us) a 4 inch Buzz toy from a yard sale in Wisconsin two years ago that he played with more than anything else, but since this past summer he had been nagging us and starry eyed begging us for ‘a big Buzz’.

I wasn’t surprised when he stayed the course, and no other distractions or lures could change his mind about it. He was determined, certain that the best thing in the world that he could have was the Big Buzz. I tried to coax him to look at trains or what about pirate stuff or even… nope. He needed it. He was convicted this would make his little 3 year old life so much more awesome: Big Buzz.


This is taking forever!!!


Why though, I kept trying to talk him out of it? I just kept feeling certain that he wouldn’t play with it. You know when that mom-tution kicks in…you just…I don’t know. You just KNOW your kid.

Despite his desperate pleas, I knew deep down he wouldn’t really want it. And he didn’t really need it. I knew what he did need: a new bedspread. A nice, fluffy downy blanket for his bed this winter. Big Buzz wasn’t going to be as fulfilling as that down comforter would be.

Yet, I also knew if he didn’t see Buzz in that pile on Christmas morning he would be so disappointed and continue to ask for his birthday, and the following Christmas and his next birthday and etc. Not really but you get the point.

I knew that until he held it in his hands, he wasn’t going to give up. He’d thought about it too long, asked for it so much, he had convinced himself this was the answer.

There wasn’t any harm in getting it for him, except maybe a waste of $40. (yes folks. Big Buzz costs $40.) But, we knew one thing was for sure, he’d be delighted on Christmas morning. And the thought of his happiness sealed the case.

Christmas morning came and what a reaction we got!

We’ve never seen a kid so tickled, so joyous and happy! What a feeling to know that we gave him that gift and he enjoyed so very much. His thank you to us was his sheer delight in that toy. For almost the whole day. And he hasn’t played with it since.

This is why I’m writing. This story was an incredibly eye opening moment for me. This is not about Christmas! Though you may choose to analyze our horrible secularized Christmas traditions however you like… sadly you’d be missing the point of this tale.


This is the first week of Advent. Judge me. 😉

The point is, through all of this,  God revealed a beautiful, smack in the face,’oh I get it’ image to me of His Fatherly love for each one of us!

You see, we all have ‘Big Buzz’ in our lives! We have that one thing we keep praying for, that one prayer request we just are determined is the answer. Nothing will change our minds and we stay the course.

And God, in all His Fatherly wisdom knows, you really need that down comforter. In the long run, you’ll appreciate that more especially when it gets cold out. But at the same time, He, as a Father, wants to delight his children! To give them the desires of their hearts! Even, sometimes, when it’s of no real benefit to them. We should allow Him to bless us with small delights, what joy it brings a parent to see their children happy. And the best way we can thank him is not to feel guilty, or hesitant but to rejoice in that tiny gift with sheer delight!

I like to reflect on this, especially when I can convince myself I should only be praying for the necessary and important things. Sometimes I feel guilty for praying for ‘frivolous’ things like my skin to clear up, or the kids to sleep in, or to win a raffle.

But Big Buzz reminds me it’s not silly. I wasn’t bothered by Charlie’s asking, and it brought me great happiness to give him the desire of his little 3 year old heart.i-wphdXTG-L

Sometimes, God the Father gives just for that moment of happiness. For that half a day of sheer joy.

Just because He’s a Father, too.






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An Advent Reflection

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This comes courtesy of Magnifcat. I found this meditation profoundly moving, and I hope you do too.  May we embrace our deserts (and find them amidst the chaos) this Advent as we prepare our hearts for the blessed day to celebrate Christ’s birth! That day which is truly a great reminder of just how much we are loved.


In the Desert

by Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel
When you are in love
you like being together
and when you are together
you like to talk to each other.
When you are in love, it’s tedious
to have a lot of people around you.
When you are in love
you want to listen to your beloved alone,
without the irritating background
of other people’s voices.
This is why those who love God
have always loved the desert
and why it has been impossible for God
to with hold it from those who love him.
And I am sure, O my God,
that you love me,
and that this life of mine
cluttered as it is with so much,
hemmed in with family,
friends and other people,
cannot be kept empty of deserts
where I may meet you.
It is never possible to reach a desert
without passing through many things,
without the tedium of a long journey,
without having to tear our eyes
from their normal constant horizon.
Deserts, like wars, have to be won,
they do not lightly surrender…
Whenever we find ourselves eagerly waiting
for someone to come or something to happen
we will notice the sign of a desert.
But our deserts have rugged defenses:
our impatience,
our wandering daydreams,
our torpid lethargy
with a watchful eye for some distraction.
For we are so build that we cannot
prefer you without a battle;
and we cannot avoid constantly
weighing you, our Beloved,
against this particular fad or fascination
or that corrosive obsession with various trivia.
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Phases of Life

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So lately I’ve really had to stop and just shake my head. Sometimes it just hits me, I can’t believe the phase of life I am in.   Didn’t I always just have widdle preschoolers, toddlers, who were cutesy wootsy bumbling little bambinos? Who were the reason I started blogging in the first place? Their crazy toddler shenanigans made me go “OMG” and the never ending age of toddlerhood was my life. Things like cloth diaper crazes and introducing foods, and teething and nursing and vaccines consumed my thinking. And now, it’s more of an afterthought.

“Huh. I suppose one or two crayons won’t hurt the baby….it’s just wax right?”

Big kids means big laundry piles

Big kids means big laundry piles

The things that consume my thinking now are loose teeth, homework, choir practice, internet filters, and learning to ride bikes. I look back on my past self and past posts and smile to myself,

” Silly, silly girl. You thought you were tired then…”

How can it be that in 7 short years, our world has completely and totally changed? It’s incredible but it’s a little crazy. I know everyone tells you ‘It goes by fast’ but when you are in the thick of it, it can be agonizingly tough sometimes. Slow even. Especially when everyone needs their diaper changed and no one knows how to read. Or talk.

And now they play cards with us. WITH US. What?

And now they play cards with us. WITH US. What? (Mia is a sore loser)

But dude. Future Annemarie, it goes SUPER fast. Scarily fast! They babbled then, but they’re talking non-stop now. And they want to narrate every freakin aspect of their day,

“And then I opened my eyes and saw it was sunny so I got out of bed, but I really had to pee. Then we went downstairs and  Charlie found where you hid all the granola bars! And then he and Jack ate the WHOLE BOX! Mom? Mom? Are you listening?”

Can’t get a moment’s peace to think for myself without someone interrupting. If I use the bathroom, it’s no longer cries of ‘MAMAAAA” for more cheerios, it’s shrieks of ‘HE JUST PUNCHED ME!” over who gets to wear the Batman cape. This is why I don’t enjoy roller coasters anymore. It’s risky enough just trying to use the toilet on my own.

They’re learning things like crazy, and beating me in checkers, and messing up my stuff….my stuff was never messed up or touched or moved because they were too little. Now, now I ‘loose’ things constantly because they take my things. They go into my closet and find my favorite scarves to use out in the tree house as lassos. They steal my belts to make dog collars on their dogs. Most of our clothing hangers are employed as guns, bow and arrows and swords down in the basement. Then dig through my nifty little pencil holder and loose every last writing utensil we own. They pour (and spill) lots of milk. They absolutely destroy the pantry and have made me want to order a padlock. Now they glom my computer, my phone, heck one of them keeps swiping my novels off my bedroom book shelf. I had to hide all my diaries! I’m pretty sure I used to buy myself 10 minutes of uninterrupted time with a cup of raisins. Now, they are way smarter than that.What is going on? They are turning into…. big people! I’m not quite sure if I’m ready for this.

They take selfies with all your devices

Now they take selfies with all our devices

Happen though it will, and adapt I must.  Jack and Charlie hang over the edge of the choir loft looking down in the pews, and Charlie nudges Jack

” Hey! There’s that blonde girl!”

Charlie comes up to me,

“Hiya, Babe!”

courtesy of his Three Stooges saturation.

Mia corrects my grammar and checks my facts when I retell my day to Tom. She’s mastering the art of rolling her eyes at her brothers frequent and insistent practical jokes like when Jack pulls his pajama pants up to his neck and chases her yelling ‘I’m a turkey!’ She lowered her eyes quizzically at me the other afternoon, with one hand under her chin, leaning in close over the table,

“Mom. What does the tooth fairy really do with our teeth?’

My mind raced into ‘oh shoot’ mode. Actually, I now have to watch what I write here since nosy-pants is always creeping up behind me.

But I snapped back

‘Well how should I know? I’m always sleeping”

She narrowed her eyes, shrugged her shoulders and said

“Well on SuperWhy they said she grinds them up into sleeping dust to give us sweet dreams. But that sounds weird”

I agreed with her and made myself busy with something else.

Mayday!Mayday! Big kids getting bigger! They are catching on to my total un-coolness! Aren’t I still the college kid who had so much fun making people laugh and being goofy and ….and now…. the act is over! How on EARTH am I supposed to be the MOM to actual, big PEOPLE? Especially the ones who are starting to out-wit me?!

It’s on the job training I assume. (I hope)But one thing hasn’t changed with this phase of life. They are pretty hilarious. I mean, kids kind of can’t help it. So, still gotta laugh. Have to laugh, it’s either laugh it off or death by Legos at this point. #laughingisbetter

Also, if todddlerhood is funny, and bigger kids are hilarious, than it should follow that biggest kids (teenagers) are HYSTERICAL? Am I am right? Humor me.

When I started blogging. 5 years ago!

When I started blogging. 5 years ago!

They are literally crushing me.

They are literally crushing me. Also, Jack didn’t have an injury (this time) He just wanted to dress like a pirate.


Phase of Life- Circa 2015

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Porch Project

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So I’ve disappeared for awhile, and mostly because we own a home with never ending projects, and children with never ending needs. It’s been a very tiring and busy summer. I’ve actually never been so glad to see summer go. “GO! With all your plans and projects and running around! Leave me be alone at long last! I just want to SLEEP”

Suffice to say, I’ve finally realized the appeal in calling death ‘Eternal Rest’ Resting ETERNALLY? Heck yes that sounds like HEAVEN!  I’m bushed!

No one in this house is more bushed though than the big guy. He’s way too underappreciated for all that he pitches in for. He pretty much is the icing on our cake. We love him to bits and perhaps a little suffocatingly so.

Max particularly is quite attached.

Max particularly is quite attached.

He spent 9 long months completely building, not re-building, but totally demolishing the old porch and from scratch building a brand spankin’ new porch for our home. It took as long as a pregnancy. This porch is his baby. And we all experienced the labor pains together!


Our rotten old porch. No really, it was rotten. The house is over 100 years old.

Our rotten old porch. No really, it was rotten. The house is over 100 years old.

Steps definitely not to code.

Steps definitely not to code.


First order of business: demolition

First order of business: demolition


Then this took about a week. Digging the footer holes.

Then this took about a week. Digging the footer holes.




The frame! (people, please, this took about a month. Looks way easier on the blog)

The frame! (people, please, this took about a month. Looks way easier on the blog)

My Dad put in so many hours helping Tom navigate his YouTube flooring tutorials

My Dad put in so many hours helping Tom navigate his YouTube flooring tutorials. Doesn’t he look thrilled?

We had stairs after 2 months! Woo hoo!!

We had stairs after 2 months! Woo hoo!!

Look at them footers. That's my guy! This porch is going to be around long after he's gone....

Look at them footers. That’s my guy! This porch is going to be around long after he’s gone….

Bit by bit, he got the roof all framed out...

Bit by bit, he got the roof all framed out…

Solid handywork

Solid handywork

I never had such an appreciation for carpentry or Tom's OCD measuring skills until now....

I never had such an appreciation for carpentry or Tom’s OCD measuring skills until now….

Trying to help!

Trying to help!

Then banisters

Then banisters


Everyone pitching in!


Pretty much every spare moment he had was taking care of his baby, day or night.

Pretty much every spare moment he had was taking care of his baby, day or night.

Shingles. Getting there.. getting there...

Shingles. Getting there.. getting there…

Getting the ceiling up with the help of Uncle Adam and Jake

Getting the ceiling up with the help of Uncle Adam and Jake


Detail work

Detail work

Railings were a couple day project. But I love them!

Railings were a couple day project. But I love them!

More detail work, caulking every crack of the porch with sealant to protect from rain damage.

More detail work, caulking every crack of the porch with sealant to protect from rain damage.

Sealant on everything. Time, time, time.

Sealant on everything. Time, time, time.

Finally the weekend for painting came! Almost 8 months later!

Finally the weekend for painting came! Almost 8 months later!


Pretty details, the flag with the stars for the 13 colonies and a Michael's frame I spraypainted to frame our house numbers

Pretty details, the flag with the stars for the 13 colonies and a Michael’s frame I spray painted to frame our house numbers






This lantern is my favorite!

This lantern is my favorite!


Oh my goodness. Can we just all give this guy a huge high five? I am so proud of him!! I love this porch. I can’t believe he did it, and I know, I KNOW I was tapping my foot and rolling my eyes every time he mis-cut a piece or took almost 8 hours to put up one piece of the roofing frame (true) but seriously, I never thought he could build a porch from watching online tutorials.   All he ever built us was a linen chest! Of course, now that I know he can do this….. my honey-do list just got very long!


(side note: as he proofed this he informed me he still has to finish the ceiling molding and the gutters. So. Let the project continue!)


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Poop for Peace (and crazy cats)

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Why. Why am I always the blogress of poop? Why is it my lot? I don’t know. I just CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP and it is SO DUMBFOUNDING to me, that I feel obligated to share it with all of you. Because I’m just that speechless half the time.

So wait ’till you hear this one.

Oh, you’re never going to to believe my Monday.

Some of you follow me on Facebook where you may have chanced upon my sad, desperate rant. Where my Monday morning felt like a trazillion years long. Because I was sitting, reading ONE PAGE on the back deck (ONE PAGE!) and the kids were blissfully playing on the new (12 hours new) swingset. Ah, peace. Serenity. Literatu— wha?

Charlie excused himself and stepped into the bathroom. And within 10 minutes, and one very strong stench later I discovered he had done some experimenting with ‘fingerpainting’.  Anybody else deal with this? What exactly are the thoughts/words that fumble through your brain because mine aren’t so funny.  If there is anything I can’t stand, it’s poop. It’s smelly, it’s messy, it’s always everywhere… it’s E.COLI!!!!! AHHHHHHH!

I was not particularly thrilled.

I was not particularly thrilled.

I end up throwing away clothes, towels, the car,  whatever I use to clean, or that has been touched by it because I’m deathly afraid of it. Burn the underwear! Rip out the carpet! Pour Clorox EVERYWHERE! (sorry Norwex)

That’s what happened. And after I ended up showering him, cleaning the bathroom, the dryer, the smears off the bathmat, the toilet— I still smelled it. I hate smelling it, and not finding it. Then I saw ‘tracks’ throughout the kitchen and dining room.  I spent another half hour on my hands and knees scrubbing the life out of my floor and dousing it in tea tree oil until I realized I KEPT FINDING TRACKS.

This had to be some sick joke. Then, I looked down at my own foot and lo and behold, wedged in between my chubby ubby pinky toe was a nice little brown dumpling.


Even more ticked off, reminiscent of Harry and Marv, I muttered my entire way back UP TO THE TUB and drowned my toe in soap and water.

Pretty much.

Pretty much.

The afternoon seemed to resume some amount of normalcy  and stepped out to run some errands/ have a sister date with my youngest sister.

We were giddy on our way to a trendy NYC hair stylist, I deserved this haircut. To get spruced up, especially after a long day. Ah, what a treat. How relaxing it would be…butterflies..rainbows…lollypops..chocolate.. coffee…all those deliriously wonderful places your tired Mommy brain goes to when you think you’re getting a break. Then I glanced down in the Jeep and to my utter horror, yes. You guessed it.


On my toe.

On my other foot.

I was horrified. Shocked. I had cleaned up that debacle HOURS AGO!! WHY??

I poured a bottle of hand sanitizer on my whole foot and scrubbed the life out of it. I can’t walk into Mark Ferraro’s hair studio,

“Um hi. I’d like a trendy hair style, sorry I didn’t shave my legs. Don’t mind my little ol’ poop toe. Do you also sell Hot Pockets?”

Please help me.  Please. No! Why are you walking away? I'm sorry I smell!!

Please help me. Please. No! Why are you walking away? I’m sorry I smell!!

Motherhood is so stinking humbling. (see what I did there?)

Fast forward to bedtime. I’m getting all four kids showered and tucked in, Tom’s out of town on business so I’m flying solo for the bedtime routine (Do the wave all you parents out there who know how much fun that is!)


We’re just about to get everyone down for the count when the power goes out.

And that is really not cool when you survive on sound machines. Or when you only have ceiling fans in the middle of August.

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Sidenote: It was at this point that I found it profoundly hilarious (not really?) that the book I read one page of was the “Writings of Mother Teresa” all one page about serving the poorest of poor in the blistering heat of India. Ah, God truly has quite the sense of humor with me.  Just keep telling me that’s what this is.


(It’s still Monday, lest we all forget! Stay with me folks, I did survive to tell the tale)

OOOO so it gets better. I get them asleep. We have lift off. And guess what?

No really, guess.

Hee hee.

I’ll give you a clue.

It starts with a P…..

and ends with lots of tears, laundry detergent and disinfectant. Oh, and candles. Because you know, what better time to crap your pants and step in it all over your comforter, pillowcase and rug than in the MIDDLE OF A BLACKOUT right after Mommy’s cell phone died?


This actually wasn’t found on Google. This is a selfie I took when all this went down.


Ladies, if you’ve never cleaned up diarrhea on a Berber rug by candlelight…. Let me tell you what you’re missing. In case you’ve ever wanted to know why wine was invented… Well, now you know.

Nothing. Nothing in my life has come quite this close to the terror of stepping on a morsel, missing a morsel in the dark, showering a kid by the light of a billion Sacred Heart of Jesus supermarket candles….just.


Oh and you better believe I got out my exorcised salt, baby. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I called down just about every saint in the book, and then some new ones.



As it would turn out, as it is with every trial in life…about an hour after it was all cleaned up, I went with my Jesus candle in search of a glass of wine and reasoned that oh well. I’m going to sit outside with my neighbors and enjoy the rest of this night. Hmph.

Not even joking, after the first sip everything turned back on.

I guess the moral of the story is, resignation is the key to peace. And sometimes poop forces you into it.

Also, the moral is to have batteries in your house. And exorcised salt.

Also crazy cat pictures do really help.

Also crazy cat pictures do really help.

If anyone would like to contribute to my PERSONAL/ SILENT ‘BOWEL – MOVEMENT- FREE’ VACATION that I am taking for the next 6 MONTHS you may do so now.













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