Wednesday, October 28, 2015

pre-birth story: due dates are the worst

Due dates are the worst. They shouldn't give due dates. They should give due-weeks. A whole 7 day window during which your baby might come. And they should make it week 41, so that the likelihood of your baby coming after your due-week is very small. But no, the very first thing they do when you go in for a pregnancy confirmation is pull out that little wheel and figure out your due date. 40 weeks after your last period. Then for the next 9 months people are asking you, "when are you due?" And you keep saying "October 7". Because that's the due date. Then October 7 comes and goes without anything happening and all of a sudden you go from being a pregnant lady to being a crazy pregnant lady who thinks there is something majorly wrong with her and fears she will remain pregnant forever!

Johnny was born 2 days before his due date, so naturally I thought there was no way this baby girl would be late. I felt like I was carrying really low and my mother's instinct told me that yes, this baby would come early. But the "due date" came and went and nothing. happened. And each day after that stretched on and on and felt like it was 70 hours long. I tried to keep busy, finish up Alex's sweater (done!) and not go crazy.

That is a handsome man in a handsome handmade sweater.


Each day that passed with no baby I took a few minutes to write down what we did that day. I don't why, but doing this each night helped me feel better.

Due Date: Johnny locked himself in the bathroom. I ended up getting the door unlocked with a screw driver. But I thought it would have made a great story if I had had to call the fire department and then went into labor while they were here.

Due Date Plus 1: It would have been a good day to go into labor because I put on make up today to go to my midwife appointment. Then I would have looked nice in any new baby pictures. After the appointment we met Alex at school for lunch. That night I felt so tired and a little sick and was hoping something would happen. But apart from 1 or 2 random contractions, no action.

Due Date Plus 2: Johnny and I spent the morning with some good friends which helped to distract and pass the time.  After Alex got home we walked to the adoration chapel at our church to say some prayers. It's about 8 blocks round trip. I decided that I will walk to the chapel every day until the baby comes. Then when we got home a friend of ours delivered a bunch of McFlurries to our house. Word had gotten out that I was craving a McFlurry.


Today I realized that with each day that passes with no labor I am going to need more emotional support. It's really draining and frustrating to be waiting for a baby, even though I know it's perfectly normal to go a few days past the due date. Thinking about Johnny meeting his baby sister makes me feel better. 

Due Date Plus 3: I went to Ikea with a girlfriend, got a $1 frozen yogurt, and walked all over that store. We also walked to mass tonight. Johnny was strangely very well behaved. I was feeling pretty bummed that all the walking didn't seem to be doing anything, until...

In the wee small hours of Due Date Plus 4: My water broke!

Birth story coming soon!!

//

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Not A Cradle Catholic Vol. 2


Thanks for coming back for another installment of Not a Cradle Catholic, where it's all about those of us who did NOT grow up in the Catholic Church. Why did we join up? What have we learned? Why is our perspective unique? I hope you'll follow along. Whatever your background, maybe there's something you can learn from us.

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MaryRuth has the privilege of being a wife of 15 years to an amazing man. Together they have four children on this earth and one praying hard for them in heaven. She holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and has studied Human Development and Psychology both in the classroom and in the home. She has always wanted to bridge the gap between research on child development and actual parenting and tries to do that at her blog, Parenting with Peer Review. She loves writing, family, coffee, wine, chocolate, office supplies, the Catholic Church, watching her boys play soccer, historical fiction, and time gabbing with girl-friends.  She does not love proof-reading, unloading the dishwasher, traffic, returning phone calls, scorpions, or the post-office. Find her on Facebook, Insatgram, and Pinterest.




How long have you been a Catholic?

I came into the church Easter of 2007, so 8+ years now.

What were you before?

I was raised non-denominational protestant. I was baptized Presbyterian as an infant, but my parents took us to a few different types of churches. I really came-of-age in a congregational church

What was your main motivation for entering the Catholic Church?

I like to say I have a baby saint who led me to the church. I lost a baby before she was born in 2005. I was of course a total wreck and my husband asked if I would like to talk to someone about it. We were temporarily living out of state for the year because of my husband's job and I was pretty isolated socially.  We had been attending a Catholic Church because it was convenient and my husband had been raised Catholic.  He made an appointment with me to speak to the priest and his words were so soothing. I was reassured by the fact that the Church recognized my loss as the loss of a life, not just a potential life.  But more than that, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and wanted more.  My heart was pulled to the Church so I started doing the research.  The deeper I dug, the more convinced I was that the Catholic Church was the One True Church.

Which Church teachings were easy to accept and which were stumbling blocks?

 Natural Family Planning was crazy hard for us to accept. My husband was a cradle Catholic but also a bit of a potluck-Catholic at the time. He was worried we would end up with a bazillion kids. We had already been using oral contraception so embracing NFP required a total change in both of our mindsets about kids, about life, about openness, and about marital love.  It was tough, but one of the best things we have done in our marriage.

Is there anything you miss from your pre-Catholic days?

Not really. I feel like I haven’t lost a single thing, but I have gained so much that protestants had just dropped.  The teachings of early Church Fathers, Church tradition, the Saints, feast days, The Eucharist, Our Blessed Mother, oh my!

Is there anything you really do NOT miss?

Growing up it seemed like our church was successful if it had lots of people giving lots of money, and the pastor's job seemed to be to keep people coming back by keeping them entertained with a good sermon.  The pastors didn’t challenge us to grow in our faith but rather seemed to say what the people wanted to hear. The sermons I heard growing up were just really fun or interesting stories - but rarely really challenged me spiritually.  The sermons were the focus of every service rather than Christ in the Eucharist. I like having Christ as the focus - body, blood, soul and divinity. I love having the Church here to challenge me to continue to grow in holiness. I love that the Church just teaches the Truth - take it or leave it.

In what ways (if any) has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic?

I have learned to listen to Him. To hear Him in my heart.  I have learned to read the Bible. I have learned to pray and connect with Him.  I have discovered countless ways that I can grow to be the daughter He desires me to be and I learn more each day!

What do you think Catholics can learn from our protestant brothers and sisters?

Our protestant brothers and sisters have really done a beautiful job marketing Jesus, evangelizing, and entertaining.  They make it fun.  They make it their mission to make sure that everyone feels welcome and loved in their churches.  They reach out to everyone and make church a fun place to be. That is hard for us because we have our tradition and we are fairly unchanged for the last 2000 years… but I think we can do a little better job marketing at least!

Biggest misconception non-Catholics have about Catholics?

That we don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  That is bonkers, but I think many believe that to be the case. I have grown so much in my own individual relationship with Christ since my conversion!

Favorite saint and saint quote?

I don't know that I have a favorite saint. I love St. Claire and St. Catherine but I think St. Theresa is probably the one with whom I can most personally connect. I love her writing and her struggles and honesty.  She has challenged me to grow in my spiritual life and challenges me intellectually as well. I think we could have been really good friends, but maybe we are becoming friends yet!

My favorite quote from her is probably:

“The important thing is not to think much, but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens us to love.”

//


Abbey writes her life as a homeschooling mom to a small collective. She muses about parenting, practicing gratitude, and celebrating the liturgical year with her young family at Surviving Our Blessings. In her spare time, Abbey enjoys running, knitting, coffee and cookbooks, not usually all at the same time. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter


How long have you been a Catholic?

I entered the Church at Easter in 2002, so 13 years this past Easter.

What were you before?

I grew up Southern Baptist (along with every member of my family, living and dead).

What was your main motivation for entering the Catholic Church?

I was never a very good Baptist. I asked too many difficult questions. I appreciate being part of a tradition that values scholarly inquiry and intellectual discourse...those and the depth of the liturgical practice were what drew me in initially. What kept me there, though, was the Mass and the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. It was like a magnet.

Which Church teachings were easy to accept and which were stumbling blocks?

I struggled some with some of the Marian doctrines. I didn't necessarily disagree with them, I just felt they were theologically unnecessary. (Good thing I'm not in charge.)

Is there anything you miss from your pre-Catholic days?

I miss old-fashioned hymn sings. There's an entire hymnal of really good old Gospel hymns that I don't get to sing in a group any more. I try to make up for it by playing and singing them at home, but it's not quite the same.

Is there anything you really do NOT miss?

I don't miss skipping from Palm Sunday to Easter with no Holy Week in between. I don't miss the long exegetical sermons that go through the text a line at a time and last 45 minutes. And I really don't miss the altar calls with verse after verse of Just As I Am while we wait for someone to feel guilty enough to step out of the pew and come forward.

In what ways (if any) has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic?

Growing in faith as a Catholic Christian has helped me move from Jesus in my head to Jesus in my heart. It's ironic- the entire focus in my childhood church was on whether or not Jesus was in our hearts. I believed He was there, of course, because I had invited Him to be. Experiencing Jesus in the Eucharist, though, brings him much more into the forefront of both my mind and my heart. I feel His presence much more closely now and relate to Him more intimately on a daily basis.

What do you think Catholics can learn from our protestant brothers and sisters?

All traditions have valuable insights for each other. The key is to look for the gifts that the Spirit has given to each denomination. Some things that come to mind from my relationships with Christians who are not Catholic (and from spending time in those churches) is a strong Biblical knowledge that is taught from a young age, a missionary zeal and fervor for sharing Christ with others, a warm sense of hospitality, and great singing during worship. From my Mennonite brothers and sisters, particularly, I appreciate the witness for radical peacemaking and justice for the marginalized. These things are all very Catholic, too- we just tend not to emphasize them quite as much in the same ways.

Biggest misconception non-Catholics have about Catholics?

That we worship saints and Mary. That we don't know the Bible. That we think the Pope is a perfect person who doesn't make mistakes and that he thinks for us.

Favorite saint and saint quote?

Saint Therese of Lisieux: 

"Do not fear, the poorer you are the more Jesus will love you. He will go far, very far in search of you, if at times you wander off a little."

//

Amy hails from the great state of Kansas, though she has lived the last 13 years away from the “Land of Oz” traveling the country with her Air Force Airman.  She has lived in Ohio, Florida, California, Virginia, and is gearing up to move to Las Vegas, Nevada.  She graduated from Kansas State University in 2001 and married her love, Dustin, that same year.  She has three amazing kiddos–two daughters and a son.  She is the founder of Passionate Purpose, a website dedicated to promoting healthy marriages and dating relationships.


How long have you been a Catholic?

I became Catholic in September 2009, so six years now.  

What were you before?

Protestant.  I was raised in the Disciples of Christ Church.

What was your main motivation for entering the Catholic Church?

When I married my husband, he was a Catholic and I was Protestant.  Dustin wanted to remain Catholic, I wanted to remain Protestant.  And so, we fought.  Correction--I fought.  I spewed out all the things I thought were true about the Catholic Church at Dustin and he remained calm, patient, and loving.  He countered every single one of my baseless untruths.  Soon, there was nothing I could say.  He had an answer for everything.  I was so frustrated, but I refused to concede.  That would mean that I was wrong.  That would mean that I had believed in untruths and that thought was humiliating.  
Pride is a strong sin.  But, as I started attending Catholic Churches with him, my ears, mind, and heart began to soften.  I actually started listening. Three things really brought me in:
  
1.  The Eucharist.  The desire to receive became overwhelming. 

2. The history is there and I can't dispute it.  If this was The Church founded by the apostles at the very beginning than that is where I want to be.  The history is rich, intriguing, mysterious, and supernatural.  Again and again, I am left in awe as I continue to explore the only Christian church that has been around for over 2,000 years.

3.  It ignited a flame in me.  The beauty of Catholicism has brought me closer to Jesus in numerous ways. 

Which Church teachings were easy to accept and which were stumbling blocks?

So much of what the Church teaches, I had never even heard before, such as Jesus being present in the Eucharist, Mary's Immaculate Conception, the Church's stance on contraception.  It was all a lot to take in.  I think the thing that was hardest for me was the teaching on contraception.  I had taken birth control since I was 17 and never thought a thing of it.  It was just what everyone did.  When I actually had to think about why I was taking it and if it was good for me and my marriage, it was hard to swallow that pill.  

Is there anything you miss from your pre-Catholic days?

Honestly, no.  

Is there anything you really do NOT miss?

The symbolic gesture of communion.  Nothing, I mean nothing, beats Holy Communion in the Catholic Church.  

In what ways (if any) has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic?

In every way!  Catholicism has brought me so much closer to Jesus.  I pray more, go to church every Sunday (if not prevented in someway), I have Bible studies with my kids; I see everything in a different way. 

What do you think Catholics can learn from our protestant brothers and sisters?

They know their scripture.  They can quote it, they know where to look in the Bible for what they want.  They know their way around the Bible.  As Catholics, we need to be better about this.  

Biggest misconception non-Catholics have about Catholics?

Uh, everything!  LOL!  I used to believe in all the untruths that non-Catholics believe.  To pick just one would be hard.  But, I think the biggest misconception is that they don't understand that the Catholic Church isn't just some denomination.  It's THE Church founded by the apostles.  We have that lineage, that history, we can trace it back to the beginning.  They are Protestant because someone long ago broke off from the Catholic Church.  I never understood this and I don't think many Protestants do either.  

Favorite saint and saint quote?  

So many amazing saints, how do you pick just one?  St. Augustine, St. Jerome.  St. Maria Goretti.  I think one of my favorite quotes comes from St. Catherine of Siena: 

"Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."  

Isn't that the greatest call to purpose in this life?  I sure think so.  

//


stay tuned for more stories, and as always, keep in touch!

   

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Not A Cradle Catholic Vol.1


If you've been hanging around here for a while you probably know that I did not grow up Catholic. If you haven't read my conversion story yet, you should check it out. Faith has always been a huge part of my life and my decision to join the Catholic Church was the natural culmination of my childhood formation that I never saw coming.

Whenever I meet other converts I always want to ask them why they did it, what made them take that big step. I want to know if the Catholic Church surprised them as much as it did me.  So that's why this series is here. It's all about those of us who are NOT cradle Catholics. Why did we join up? What have we learned? Why is our perspective unique? I hope you'll follow along. Whatever your background, maybe there's something you can learn from us.

Thanks to all who so willingly participated and I hope you enjoy hearing their stories!

//

Kelly is married to a man with the same name as her (yes really) and they have four darling daughters. She is expecting baby #5 in April and is told it's a boy! She lives in Nebraska, stays at home with her girls, and blogs about it on the side to help remember all the sweet moments of mothering. You can read about it at The Misadventures of Kelly and Kelly. You can also find her on Instagram


How long have you been a Catholic?

We (my husband and I) joined the Church in 2005 at Easter so a little over 10 years.

What were you before?

Lutheran.

What was your main motivation for entering the Catholic Church?

I look back on it now and I see that I was just drawn to the church. I especially wanted to be able to pray the rosary so I feel like Mary was calling me home. I started to question the validity of the Lutheran church splitting from the Catholic Church and when that fell apart it was easy to switch.

Which Church teachings were easy to accept and which were stumbling blocks?

NFP was the hardest. I told God that I could do anything except I would not do that. Until January of the year we were in RCIA and Christopher West came to town to speak. We went to the all day long talk and were convinced and immediately learned NFP.

Most of the things seemed pretty easy, which looking back must have been the grace of God and the Holy Spirit. I had lots of questions but the answers mostly just made sense and were easy to take.

Is there anything you miss from your pre-Catholic days?

I miss being the same denomination as my family.

Is there anything you really do NOT miss?

I can't think of anything. I was a pretty lukewarm Lutheran though.

In what ways (if any) has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic?

My relationship is deeper, my prayer life is stronger. I have more trust I think.

What do you think Catholics can learn from our protestant brothers and sisters?

Love of scripture.

Biggest misconception non-Catholics have about Catholics?

That we worship Mary.

Favorite saint and saint quote?

Probably St. Theresa (and typing my answers on her feast day!) 

"The world's thy ship and not thy home."

//

Sterling is a wife and mama to three girls under 5, lives in Boise, Idaho and is the host of the Coffee & Pearls show. As an adult convert, she had to discover Catholicism on her own. She is so in love with the truth and tradition of the Church that she dedicates her life to helping lukewarm Catholics discover the passion and joy of our great faith! She writes at Sterling Jaquith. Also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.


How long have you been a Catholic?

I converted to Catholicism officially in 2010 but it took me two years to actually embrace and love my Catholic faith!

What were you before?

I was a very conservative Evangelical Protestant before. 

What was your main motivation for entering the Catholic Church?

I fell in love with a Catholic man and I didn't want to raise my children in a split-religious household.  I felt sure that God wanted me to marry this man so I decided that God must also want me to become Catholic!

Which Church teachings were easy to accept and which were stumbling blocks?

I easily accepted going to Mass every week and turning to the Saints for wisdom.  I struggled to understand why we had to practice Natural Family Planning and it took me a long time to understand the beauty and the power of Adoration and the rosary.  

Is there anything you miss from your pre-Catholic days?

I miss the bible studies and the scripture memorization which was so common among my Protestant friends.  I just don't see that happening as often with my Catholic friends.  We don't talk about Jesus as often. I miss the music too.  I would go to Protestant church and meet Jesus in song.  Now I love the true presence of Christ in the Mass but I wish more people joined in singing the hymns!

Is there anything you really do NOT miss?

I don't miss the hypocrisy.  I look back now and I see so many Protestants put on a smile and said JESUS but it's a culture built on bending the rules and choosing what you want out of Christianity. 

In what ways (if any) has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic?

After consecrating myself to Jesus through Mary I feel so much closer to Him.  I feel as if knowing her has helped me to know Him better.  I love sitting and chatting with Him in Adoration.  I never experienced anything like that before. 

What do you think Catholics can learn from our protestant brothers and sisters?

Protestants have great confidence that they can convert people.  We should have that too!  We should try harder to inspire more people to become Catholic.  Yes, you do have to hook people with warm and fuzzies but we have all the good and true stuff to back up what we're saying!  We need to evangelize more and do it with joy!

Biggest misconception non-Catholics have about Catholics?

Two things!  One, Catholics aren't being forced to "have all the babies" like we're part of some brain washed club.  I always thought I'd only have two kids.  Now, after being Catholic and spending time with so  many bigger families, I see the love that those families share.  It's that love that has inspired me to want a bigger family.  Being Catholic has just opened my heart to sacrifice and to embracing love.  

Second, everything about Mary.  And that's been hard for me.  I now love Mary so much and she's such a big part of my life that I'm saddened by all the Protestants who leave her in the background and don't think about her much.  It's such a lost opportunity because she really is amazing and we don't worship her, we honor her as the mother of Christ, as we should!

Favorite saint and saint quote?

St. Therese has stolen my heart.  She is my favorite saint.  But my favorite quote is,

 "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!
St. Catherine of Sienna

//

Emily is a wife and stay-at-home mom living the Midwestern dream with her little family. She is a lover of chocolate, coffee, and comfy sweaters. You can find out more about her and read her ramblings over at Raising Barnes.


How long have you been a Catholic?

6 1/2 years (since March of 2009)

What were you before?

Lutheran

What was your main motivation for entering the Catholic Church?

It is a hard thing to put into words.  Growing up, I was pretty active in church activities and had lots of "friends" there.  But there was just something missing.  I went on my first Lifeteen retreat my senior year of high school (2007) with my best friend; after that, I started attending more youth group functions with her as well.  I felt a kind of peace and acceptance among those people that I had never felt in all my years growing up.  That level of acceptance made me look into the faith more - what did these people have that I had been missing all those years???

Which Church teachings were easy to accept and which were stumbling blocks?

I wouldn't say that anything was necessarily easy to accept for me, but I didn't have a lot of stumbling blocks either.  I was very lucky to be surrounded by people who were willing to listen to my concerns and answer my questions.  There were things that didn't always make sense to me, but I felt a peace that eventually I would understand them.  There are lots of things that I'm still learning to appreciate, even today! 

Is there anything you miss from your pre-Catholic days?

Having a common faith with my parents has been the hardest thing.  They were supportive of my decision to convert, but I think it is hard for all of us to not share that common bond anymore.  They attend Mass with us once a year (Christmas), which I am so grateful for, but it just isn't quite the same any more.  

Is there anything you really do NOT miss?

The traditions and rituals of the Catholic Church are just so beautiful and amazing to me!  I really don't feel like I'm missing anything from the faith that I grew up in because the Catholic faith offers so much more!  

In what ways (if any) has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic?

I am by no means perfect or an expert when it comes to my relationship with Jesus, but I do feel like He became more real to me after becoming Catholic.  Growing up, we were never really taught how to have a relationship with Christ.  To me, He felt more like a distant character than someone to have a living, breathing relationship with.  Becoming Catholic made Him more real to me, making that relationship feel more attainable.  But it is always a work in progress.  

What do you think Catholics can learn from our protestant brothers and sisters?

The importance of community.  There were (are still are) lots of opportunities to gather and build community in the church that I grew up in.  That was the hardest thing coming into the Catholic Church - there wasn't an obvious group that I felt like I could belong to.  This could look different depending on the parish you attend or the city in which you live.  And there have been so many changes, even in the 6 short years that have passed since I became Catholic.  But, I think it is still an important thing to emphasize community - our faith is both personal and communal.  

Biggest misconception non-Catholics have about Catholics?

That our faith is weird, perhaps bordering on fanatical.  I didn't experience too much Catholic "bashing" growing up, but some of the stories I did hear seemed so ... odd.  Did Catholics really believe they were eating Jesus?!?  Once I learned more, Jesus' presence in the Eucharist became a beautiful thing, but when you only hear snippets of it, it all sounds very strange.  

Favorite saint and saint quote?

St. Michael & Blessed Mother Teresa

"If I ever become a saint - I will surely be one of 'darkness.'  I will continually be absent from Heaven - to light the light of those in darkness on earth."  
- Blessed Mother Teresa

//

stay tuned for more stories. And as always, keep in touch!

   

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Introducing


Introducing

Beatrix Margaret
Born 10/11/15
8 lbs 15 oz, 21 inches long

We are all smitten with our little Trixie. I'm looking forward to sharing the birth story with you, but for now we are resting, rebuilding iron stores, and trying to postpartum like a boss

Stay tuned! 


//

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

on waiting

Last weekend we had a once in a generation occurrence of a total lunar eclipse. The nice thing about it was you didn't have to be up in the wee small hours of the morning to see it. Alex and I put Johnny down for bed as usual, then stepped out onto our side walk to see the shadow of our own earth just beginning to creep across the moon. We checked on it again about an hour later and saw the almost complete eclipse.


I was hoping that all this lunar activity would send my body into labor.  You always hear about women going into labor when there are crazy storms, and full moons.  Well, I guess I'm not one of those women. Nothing happened. I'm still here in my ever increasing state of discomfort.

The lunar eclipse made me realize though, I'm really just in the waiting phase now. Yes, technically a week until my due date, but it could be any time and I just have to be ready.

As I play this waiting game I've been thinking a lot about my days as a music major. When I was preparing my junior piano recital my teacher told me giving a recital was a lot like having a baby. The whole thing takes about 9 months to prepare. At first it seems so far off, like it will never come. As the event gets closer you begin to feel more uncomfortable, physically, mentally, whichever. And then those last few weeks are just agonizing, it's all your can think about. You're dreading it, but at the same time you can't wait to get it over with.  Giving the recital itself is just a blur and a whirlwind and before you know it it's over and you're not really sure how it happened.

As of now I have more experience giving recitals than I do having babies. But if there's anything learning and memorizing 45 minutes of music has taught me it's that the body has muscle memory. You've put in the time and you've prepared, and at some point you just have to trust yourself and trust that things will fall into place.

Even though my experience birthing Johnny is kind of a big dark blur, my body has done this before and my body will do it again. I'm actually beginning to get kind of excited about working with my body to make this delivery happen. I'm excited to meet our baby, I'm excited to nurse a newborn again.  I'm really excited to enjoy a big old glass of wine and sleep on my stomach too.

But until then, I'm just here. Waiting.


//

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