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Note of Thanks

Note of Thanks

I've posted variations on this theme on Facebook, in my church bulletin, and in various letters that have gone out to the many communities that helped our family recover from the fire that destroyed our home and belongings four months ago.  In case I've missed anyone...

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Back to the Grind

So Christmas vacation is over and today it is back to the grind. Back to bath times, bedtimes, and waking up in the dark. Back to rushed mornings and fighting traffic. Back to daily stops at Taco Bell and Weigel's. Back to signing papers and stressing over homework....

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2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog. Here's an excerpt: The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would...

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Uniformity

Uniformity

For twelve years, I wore a uniform every school day--plaid jumpers, little red ties, knee socks, button downs, penny loafers, kilts--the whole Catholic schoolgirl thing. And I loved it. When I started college, I would panic every morning and wish for my uniform.  It...

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Fireproof

Fireproof

We use fire as a metaphor for life experience all the time. Garth Brooks sings about "standing outside the fire." At Mass we sing of God strengthening us "like gold that's tested in fire." Only a little while I ago I was writing about the flames of experience,...

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The Lord Be With You . . .

And with your spirit! Yesterday was my first chance to experience the new Roman Missal (I was driving Emily back to school post-Thanksgiving last Sunday). You might expect I'd have a lot to say about the new translation, but you'd be wrong. (Oh, I have things to say,...

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Value Vision

This is a SPONSORED post.  What does that mean, exactly?  It means that I received--for FREE--the item that I am writing about in exchange for posting a review of it here.  The good news is that I was going to write a post on this topic anyway, so it's not going to...

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On Losing Everything Part Three

Of course losing sentimental items is by far the hardest part of a tragedy like ours.  Some things really are just things, and can be replaced.  The problem with that is that there are so MANY of them, and you don't realize how many and much they cost and how long it...

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On Losing Everything Part Two

On Losing Everything Part Two

On the loss of all we owned, someone commented to me, "You unburdened yourselves." True, although not on purpose.  A lot of stuff we lost is better off as ashes, probably.  I wouldn't have chosen this method of decluttering/downsizing, but it worked.  I don't have to...

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On Losing Everything

On Losing Everything

What's so terrible about losing everything (okay, let me just say that there is LOTS that is terrible about losing everything) is that "everything" is too big to grasp or think of or remember all at once.  I KNOW I lost everything--every MATERIAL thing--I ever owned,...

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Remembering Mima

Remembering Mima

Today would have been Mima's 93rd birthday.   I feel especially melancholy today thinking of all the many treasures related to her that I lost in the fire.  You already know about the afghans.  But there was so much more.  Before Mima moved from the home where she had...

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Laundry Laundry Everywhere

Laundry was a big problem for me in what we are now calling "the burned down house" (to distinguish it from "our first house" and "the old house").  In the not-quite-two-years we lived there I never worked out a good system for sorting, washing, and putting away like...

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A Sorrow Shared

A Sorrow Shared

Friends from school and church have been bringing us several meals each week since the house burned, and even though we have a house now it is still a blessing.  I have not had time for a big trip to the store yet, and we don't have any of the staples you need to have...

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The Lord Will Provide

My husband was the second reader at Mass today.  Of course I always expect to find meaning in the readings or the homily, but hearing John read the following this morning hit eerily close to home: Brothers and sisters: I know how to live in humble circumstances; I...

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Traditions

Traditions

The gifts continue to flow in from so many generous and thoughtful people, from friends and strangers alike.   Today I want to share two that touched me especially because of their link to my past. When I was in the first grade, my mother had a Christmas party for me...

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Communities

Communities

When you are hit with a tragedy, being part of a community is a wonderful thing.  In the 20 years we have lived in Knoxville since our marriage, John and I and our five children have become a part of several communities, and all of them have rallied round to provide...

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Good-bye, Grandma

Good-bye, Grandma

The reason no one was home when our house essentially exploded into flames [Labor Day 2011] is that John's grandmother had died just a few days before, and John and I were in Baltimore with our little kids for the funeral, while the big boys hung out with friends and...

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And Justice for All

Lorelei stated rather matter-of-factly the other day that the next time we go out of town, our house will burn down again.  And of course I told her that will not happen, that it is very, very rare for a family to suffer such a random, terrible accident. That's one...

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Very Good People

Very Good People

Once we received a printed thank you card for a gift we took to a wedding we attended.  It said something like, "Words cannot express how much it meant to have you at our wedding.  And thank you for your thoughtful gift."  I'm not kidding--that was IT!  Not even a...

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An Unanswerable Question

An Unanswerable Question

Today my six-year-old was crying for her cat, missing since the fire.  And she asked me, "Why did God let this happen?" All I could say was the truth:  "I don't know.  That's one of the things that we won't understand until we die." The other day, someone said to me,...

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Good People, Bad People

It has long been one of my convictions that most people are good.  I've said it, and I've believed it, and if I hadn't, the outpouring of affection, prayers, support, and gifts we have received since the fire would have convinced me.  Gift cards, money, clothes  and...

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Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

You know me--the kid who always had her nose in a book.  Who grew up to be a bibliomaniac, with bookshelves in every room of the house, stacks of books everywhere that would not fit on the shelves, twenty-something boxes of books that were carted around from house to...

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The Flames of Experience

Most of my readers probably know that our home was destroyed by fire  a week ago.   I know now I really am a writer since I began composing blog posts in my head within a few hours of hearing this unbelievable, sickening, life-changing news. We were not home, which...

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Back in the High Life

Drama was my "thing" in high school.  I landed a starring role as a freshman and was involved with every production until graduation.  I'd been involved in theatre in grade school as well, and at one time was planning on being an actress when I grew up. But I felt...

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Home is where the work is

A year and a half ago, I started working at home.  Working, as in working at a job, I mean.  Every mother is a working mother and my husband always told the kids that I was the hardest working person in our home.  But being a wife and mother was my job, and it was the...

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Savannah Smiles

Savannah Smiles

For the past umpteen years (twenty, at a guess), we have spent several days in Baltimore every summer.  Our very good reason for our faithfulness to Charm City as a vacation spot is that my husband was born there, and that once-a-year trip is usually the only chance...

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One Short Life

A year ago today, a young life ended.  Today marks the end of the first year that Henry's family spent without him, longing for him on every holiday and birthday, at the birth of his sister  and death of his great-grandmother, during family milestones and every day...

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Essence de Mai

Essence de Mai

Doesn't that sound like a good name for a perfume?  Too bad God doesn't put the ones he designs into bottles.  This one is available only in May, usually in the early morning or late evening hours.  The air is cool and the smell outdoors is like nothing else.  I just...

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Song of Spring

Despite the warm weather, it's gloomy and un-Springlike out my window this morning.  Rain is forecast for later and I just hope it holds off until after my kindergartner's much-anticipated field trip to Ijams Nature Center is complete. I'm a big fan of four definite...

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Resilience

The yellow house had to go.  It really did.  It was dangerous.  But the wisteria draping it was so beautiful and I was afraid that it would all be gone this year.  I started seeing it bloom in other places but not in my yard.  And I wondered if I would enjoy that...

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Nothing to Do

I think last night was a record for us--we had TEN KIDS in the house overnight, eight of whom were teenage boys!  As John and I sat on the front porch I remarked to him that some people might be fazed by such a gathering but as I have so often remarked when people...

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From Toddlers to Teenagers

The days when Jake and Teddy were tiny (well, they were never exactly tiny!) are blurred in my mind, probably because it was so hard.  They were just over twelve months apart--Jake only learned to walk two weeks before the new baby arrived.  The poor little thing--he...

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Justice for Henry

I became a fan of Katie Allison Granju at least ten years ago, when she was writing her column "Loco Parentis" in the Metropulse (that's our alternative weekly for my non-Knoxvillian readers.).  It was near the back of the paper, I remember, and the first place I...

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Twenty Years Ago Today . . .

Twenty Years Ago Today . . .

. . . right about now, actually, I was welcoming my first child into the world. We knew that Emily's birth would require a C-section because she was breech.  Although my obstetrician was one of the last left in town who would assist at a vaginal breech delivery, he...

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Prescription Addiction

My friend Katie has been writing frequently about the scourge of addiction to prescription drugs since her son died of an overdose and beating in May.  And now John and I have been witnessing this almost every day in our work. Our practice is mostly appointed work--a...

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It's Leo!

So, I really meant to get back on a regular blogging schedule for the new year, and I was doing pretty well.  My last post, however, was January 20, and that's when I got sidetracked.  Because late that evening I became an aunt again!  This is Leo.  Isn't he...

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A Tangled Web

This is a picture of the back of Lorelei's head Monday night before I started attacking her tangles.  That whole wad of hair at the end of the ponytail was one giant rat's nest.  I have never seen anything like it in my life. Now, I am very fond of baby curls.   And I...

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Images of the Past

Every morning when I go to my computer for my modern technology fix, my desktop wallpaper reminds me of a very different time, almost 100 years ago.  Taken in 1915, in Mobile, Alabama, this four-generation photograph includes (standing, on the right) my great-great...

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here's a high level summary of its overall blog health: The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow. Crunchy numbers A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats. A...

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It will grow back

Fourteen years ago, I came home one afternoon to find that my husband had cut off my toddler's curls. Teddy was 22 months old, and when I left the house he had sweet baby curls on his neck.  Now he had a big boy haircut.  Of course, I started to cry.  Not-quite-three...

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Bad Songs Revisited

Bad Songs Revisited

Last time I wrote about bad church music I said there was another song I wanted to write about but I couldn't remember what it was.  I knew it wouldn't take long before we sang it again, and sure enough, last week, there it was.  I'm sorry, again this is a song that...

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Good Morning to You!

I just finished reading Good Morning, Merry Sunshine: A Father's Journal of His Child's First Year, which I picked up at my parish's wonderful monthly Book Swap.  The title comes from the father's habit of saying this each morning to his baby girl when he goes to pick...

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In the Midst of Life We Are in Death

In the Midst of Life We Are in Death

November is a natural time to reflect on our mortality, when the religious, the secular, and the natural all join to remind us that fleshly existence has an end.  The Catholic Church remembers the dead on the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, and many parishes...

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I Miss Blogging

Just a quick note to say that I have not run out of topics, only time.  One day I will write the story about the unpaid job that ate my life, but not today.  I have so much I want to say--I am always composing posts in my head--but I find myself too tired for the...

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PayBox

PayBox.  I encourage you to check this out.  It's a new payment system similar to PayPal except that it will be trading its own currency.  You can read more about it at the link if you are interested.  They are recruiting early bird users right now to test the system...

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Morning Walk

How lucky am I to be able to take a morning walk in my own back yard and see the following scenes: And what drew me out into the yard so early in the first place?  THREE DEER, whom I watched from my bedroom window while they grazed.  It was a good start to the day....

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Henry's Story

I've written a lot over the past few months about the tragic early death of Henry Louis Granju.  That story is now going to be told on television.  If you aren't local (or, like me, don't have t.v. in your home--yeah, right!), you will be able to watch it online after...

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Of Mysteries and Bodice Rippers

Today I am re-reading "A Tangled Web," the sequel to the more-famous "Deceptions" by Judith Michaels (if you haven't read it you may remember the t.v. adaptation which starred Stefanie Powers).  Since I am thinking so much about Mima today, I remembered that my copy...

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Mary Elizabeth Higgins Carroll, 1918-2008

Mary Elizabeth Higgins Carroll, 1918-2008

I was blessed with the obligation and opportunity to write Mima's obituary, which follows. Mary Elizabeth Higgins Carroll, age 89, died January 30 at her home. She was a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church for over 50 years.   Elizabeth was born to the...

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Happy Birthday, Mima

Happy Birthday, Mima

Today would have been my maternal grandmother's 99th birthday.  She died in January 2008.  The following was the column I wrote immediately following her death. When I tell people about this column, I say I write about “life issues.” But that means that necessarily I...

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Back in the Day

Back in the Day

My post about my trusty Dodge Durango, and whether my teenagers were embarrassed about riding in it, got me thinking about my own years at Knoxville Catholic High School.  It's true these days that not only does every student old enough to drive seem to have their own...

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On the Road Again

On the Road Again

Back in June, John had a wreck while driving my car.  For once, it was not his fault (he is kind of famous for rear-end collisions, unfortunately).  But the other party disputes his version of events, and it looks like a lawsuit may be necessary (why, you may ask, has...

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What Really Makes a Writer?

What Really Makes a Writer?

I was a "writer" long before I could put pen to paper to form legible words.  I remember dictating stories to my mother when I was about four, and illustrating them afterwards.  "The Girl with the Hat" was my first composition; I believe my mother has it tucked away...

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Making Believe

Making Believe

Feeling tired and looking for inspiration, I turned to the box of un-albumed pictures (15 years' worth) next to my desk and pulled out this one: Here sits King William, at the age of four, with his boppy pillow and ever-present royal purple towel, treasures arrayed...

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The More Things Change

When I was in high school, my parents let me go up to a friend's cabin on the lake for the weekend.  Four 17 year old girls, we drove to Watts Bar all by ourselves and set up housekeeping.  We built a fire and set up our lawn chairs around it and played charades.  I...

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Poetry Blogging: The New Colossus

Poetry Blogging: The New Colossus

I only have part of this one by heart.  Reading the whole thing brings tears to my eyes.  Not just because of the moving lines, either, but because I don't think most Americans today share these sentiments. The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus Not like the brazen giant of...

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Poetry Blogging: Equipment

Poetry Blogging: Equipment

I'm sharing the following poetry excerpt today which I borrowed from my friend Ikisha's Facebook.  She says an elementary teacher had her class memorize it years ago.  Entitled "Equipment," and composed by Edgar A. Guest, it was George Washington Carver's favorite...

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Memorable Messes

Memorable Messes

Today on Facebook, Mothering Magazine asked readers to comment on the worst messes their kids ever made.  Now, my kids make messes daily but I knew immediately that the worst one ever had been made--of course--by Jake and Teddy when they were toddlers. It was right...

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I'm Tired of Being a Human Doing

I'm Tired of Being a Human Doing

"Take time just to be; remember, you are a human being, not a human doing." I think I clipped it out of a Reader's Digest long ago, and for years it hung inside the kitchen cabinet of my first house, along with similar uplifting sentiments:  "Enjoy the little things,...

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What is Fair?

What is Fair?

So the other day a friend posted this link on Facebook and I thought it was really interesting.  It was a talk about some of the differences between liberals and conservatives, and one of the differences was what value each group places on fairness. I was telling John...

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Liturgical Music Redux:  Bad Songs

Liturgical Music Redux: Bad Songs

You know, I think this blog is really good for me, because I get things off my chest here and then I don't have to rant about them in real life anymore.  And I also think that's why (aside from getting busy with the start of school) I lost steam on my Liturgical Music...

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TV Is Not for Me

TV Is Not for Me

In some class way back in high school, the teacher conducted a survey of the number of television sets each family possessed.  I remember feeling quite proud that my family had the most: five--one in the den and one in every bedroom.  One of my classmates had...

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Book Blogging

Book Blogging

I don't get the impression that my readers get especially excited about my book blogging entries, but hey!  It's my blog!  and I LOVE to read. I've been reading--really reading, books not just words--since I was four.  I spent my entire childhood with a book in front...

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Morning Glory Musing

Morning Glory Musing

I wrote here about how sometimes weeds turn out to be flowers.  Morning glories exemplify this.  Their vines don't look like much and could easily be mistaken for something you want to uproot quickly.  Indeed, they are considered invasive by many gardeners, being...

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Old-Fashioned Homeschooling

Old-Fashioned Homeschooling

It sounds like a misnomer, doesn't it?  I mean, homeschooling is kind of radical and newfangled, right?  It wasn't so long ago that those who wanted to do it had to fight the state and everyone thought their kids were, well, weird.  I wanted to homeschool Emily but...

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Don't Try Suicide

I'm feeling sad today about the death of Darrin Owenby, who took his own life early this morning.  A former Marine, Darrin apparently suffered from PTSD.  I didn't know that, though.  I didn't know much about Darrin at all, really.  Although we were in grade school...

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Backpack Rant

Backpack Rant

Back in the day (and oh, how my kids mock me when I start off that way), I was so proud of the new book satchel I got at the beginning of every year to carry my things to and from school.  As I recall, a lot of children didn't even have satchels--they just carried...

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Update

Thanks to anyone who has actually stuck with me over this long hiatus.  I have been incredibly busy and although my goal is to find a way to blog daily, I'm not sure where I am going to find the time! A quick update:  Jake and Teddy had their first full day as Junior...

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Don't Give Up On Me . . .

I'm still here.  I still have a lot to say.  I am not finished with Liturgical Music "Week," and I will respond to the many thoughtful comments I have received lately. However . . . In the next two weeks, I have to help Emily get her things together and transport her...

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Roll Call

This has certainly been a busy week or so on the blog, according to my stats even if not evident in the comments.  I owe most of the new traffic to posts I made on my friend Katie's blogs (and to those of you who came here first, you should go read her, because she is...

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Is It Just Me . . .

or is this extremely tacky? My husband received a pamphlet today from TACDL (Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers) advertising a Continuing Legal Education class with the following title:  The Terrible Twos: Representing Clients Charged with Physical and...

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East Tennessee's Best

The Knoxville New Sentinel is holding its annual vote for the best of everything in East Tennessee (the best of almost EVERYTHING is in East Tennessee!).  Included in this year's categories is Best Blogger.  My friend Katie has been nominated!  Click here to read all...

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A Busy Day

It's almost midnight, and I am having a hard time keeping my eyes open.  It's been a very busy day. Today I Got up at 6 a.m. to get Teddy up for football and put in another load of laundry before sneaking back to bed; Got up again at 9:30 to take Emily to pick up a...

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World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week

According to Mothering Magazine it is World Breastfeeding Week.  So I need to take a little break from musical topics to wax lyrical on the joys and the benefits of breastfeeding. Except surely by now you know the benefits of breastfeeding, right?  If you don't, click...

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