Are You a Sinner? I am!

My mother’s family has some struggles, as all of our families do. She comes from a large family of 10 children. Her father died when she was 22, then her brother died in a motorcycle accident when she was 25 and then her mother struggled with alcoholism. I don’t have the best memories of this grandmother, but my mother always took up for this lady, no matter how miserable she made my mother’s life. I have to hand it to all of my mother’s sisters—they all rose above what they grew up under and did wonderful things with their lives. They are all amazing woman, and I  applaud them because they didn’t use their childhood as a crutch instead they became the cream of the crop!

My grandmother had a large family as well, and many of them struggled with alcoholism. I didn’t know many of them very well, but one of them had a big influence in my life. She was more like my grandmother, than my biological one. I love this lady, and still do. She’s a great woman, and still spoils me to this day!

When I was planning to go back to work after my first born, this lady volunteered to babysit my son. I was thrilled. In my books, this woman was the next best thing to my mother. I loved her to the moon and back, and she treated me like a princess all my life, I knew our son would be in wonderful hands. We had the plans all under way, and she was making visits to get to know our son better, and his face would light up when he saw her, just as he did with my own mother.

My husband and I made plans to go out one evening, and decided to see if my great-aunt would be available to babysit. My thinking was, it would be good for the two of them to be alone with each other and she could get used to putting him down for sleeps and such.
We were excited to get out and join our friends for a night of laughs and relaxation. Some alone time, the way it was before our lives got shifted into this other dimension after the birth of this miniature human being. I was pumped.

This lady pulls into our driveway, and comes into our home, and I could smell liquor off of her breath. She was a bit thick tongued and definitely not herself. My heart raced. What was I going to do? I was a new mom, on her first venture out into the world without my infant child for one of the first times, and my babysitter shows up drunk. I was devastated. How did I approach this wonderful lady that was just tempted by her love for liquor? I did as every young mother does—I called my mother.

Frantically, I asked my mother what to do. How do I handle this? I was not used to confronting intoxicated people, especially those who I was trusting to leave my most precious cargo with. As always, my mother guided me with what to say and do. It wasn’t as confrontational as I thought it would be. My drunken friend was a tad bit upset, and in denial that she was under the influence. My husband offered to drive her home, but she was adamant that she wasn’t drinking.

I could have let this really fester inside of me, get bitter about her behavior, and hold a grudge, but I didn’t. Instead I tried to show her more love. I tried to continue to include her in my child’s life. It was extremely hard, because it was a trust I had with her that her involvement with alcohol broke. My mother is such an angel, and kept explaining that it isn’t them acting in that way, it is the hold the alcohol has over them.

This lady has a son, and he has totally cut himself and his children off from her due to this dependency. She tries hard and goes to AA, but like all of us, she gives into her inner demons once and a while. She has such a huge heart and so much love to give. It breaks my heart that her son does this to her. I am sure she has disappointed him like she did me that night, but I am such a forgiving person that I try to look at the best in people, thanks to my mothers gentle guidance. Not everyone is like this, and her son isn’t one of them.

Matthew 6:14-15 instructs us, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I am a sinner.  Are you a sinner?  Yes!  So, what gives?  Why are we such bitter, grudge holding people?  Why do we have to let anger seep into our hearts, and not forgive people who wronged us?

I might not be struck down with alcoholism, but I have my own demons I deal with, like every human being on the planet. I have to forgive her, if I expect others to forgive me. The most important other being God. I pray and ask forgiveness for my sins but I know he’s not going to forgive me if I have anger I’m holding in my heart towards anyone. Family included.

Are you harboring a grudge? Bitter towards someone? Are you holding resentment in your heart for something someone did to you? Do you have a family member that you distanced yourself from due to a circumstance like I’ve been through? Try reaching out to this person and explain how you feel, but reassure them that you forgive them. Are you not up to talking to them? Write a letter and send it. Whatever way you feel the best at approaching this very delicate and sensitive situation, do it! It will be amazing the way you feel after you let it go.

If you know the Bible at all, you know in Matthew 22, it tells us the second most important commandment is to love your neighbor like you love yourself—your neighbor being everyone you have contact with. Sure, you might not like what they do to you, but we are still commanded to love them. Show those people love and see if it makes a difference. I’m confident it will!

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Nursing Your Needs

I thought growing up was hard. I guess we think that every stage we are going through is tough at the time, then when we look back, we realize that it was actually easier than the stage we are in now. It’s like it is a life test to pass as a prerequisite to move onto the next stage of our lives. Take what we learn and move forward. I know when I had my first baby, it was definitely the hardest test I faced at it was one of the most difficult times in my life.

I was nursing, and very determined to make it for a year performing this job, that I have officially deemed as the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Everything that could go wrong did. We had thrush twice, I had low milk production, he wasn’t latching properly, he wasn’t gaining enough weight, he was projectile vomiting, he had Reflux, then I got Graves’ Disease—it was non-stop. I tried to put on a brave face, tried to pretend everything was hunky dory, but it was the farthest from the truth.

It was a year from a Hell!  He nursed, and then slept on my chest for about an hour, nursed, then projectile vomited, nursed, slept, it was exhausting. Oh—did I tell you if he wasn’t nursing, he was crying? Whaling actually. Good thing babies are as cute as they are, because it was all that saved me some days.

People who knew what I was going through all tried to convince me to feed him the bottle, but I was stubborn and determined not to lose. To me, and my competitive nature, this was a loss in my books. If I didn’t give my first born the best, which through all the literature I read, it was not an option to feed my child formula!  It was a year of my suffering for the good of my child.  I could handle a year of this.  Looking back, I am thrilled I toughed it out!

I also read that the child’s brain developed when they were sleeping and how important sleep was. I remember thinking that my first born was going to be mentally delayed because sleep wasn’t even a word that was in his vocabulary.

My anxiety over this child was through the roof. I was reading too much about trying to have that perfect child and everything in the literature of what I wanted, was the exact opposite of what this little bundle of joy was. I was devastated.

I remember one time, my best friend surprised me with a visit. When I opened my front door to see her familiar smiling face looking at me, I instantly broke into tears. Finally, someone I could tell all this horribleness to. Finally, I didn’t have to put on a face of happiness for the world to see. Finally, I could tell someone how awful my life really was. Finally, someone who I can trust and let know my secrets of how my son was going to be mentally delayed from no sleep, physically delayed from lack of nutrients, emotionally delayed from an unstable mother, socially delayed because he lives on my chest and makes little eye contact with the real world. My list of failures was a mile long.

Was I a failure? No, but in my head I was. I was bringing all this stress on myself. Sure, it was a tough time in this season of my life, but it was my own doings that made it stressful. If I had of learned to relax and roll with the punches, and not research them to death, I know now how much easier it would have been. If I had of prayed about the situation and left it all in God’s hands, it would have been much simpler.

Are you having trouble with your first born child or adjusting to motherhood? Are you struggling in a marriage that is not what you envisioned it would be? Maybe your debt isn’t clearing up as fast as you would like it. Or maybe there is someone that you just can’t please in your life. Whatever your trouble is, just like my nursing trouble, relax, take your troubles to God in prayer, give it some time and watch the magic unfold.

I’m loving my Bible study on the book of Mark! So many great stories, but a verse that popped out at me was, Mark 5:36, “Do not fear, only believe.”   Only five little words, but what wisdom!

You have control over your emotions. I’m chalking my crazy emotions during my son’s first year of life to hormones. Now, I see how amazing he turned out to be 13 years later, if I only had faith instead of fear, that first year of his life would have made it much more enjoyable for me, and everyone around me.

We are all put through tests and trials. It is what you do with these tests that form you into the person you are. I’m stubborn and competitive, so tests to me are a challenge. Some people aren’t as determined as I, but if you fight for what you want, your reward after is incredible. I have no idea if it was my determination to nurse and not feed my child formula that has formed him into what he is today, but it was a test I was put through and I am very glad that I toughed it out.  Even when everyone else thought I was crazy torturing myself the way I did.

People might be judging you, thinking you are crazy for the situation you have yourself in. People might give you their opinion on a trial you are going through in your life.  People might be trying to influence you to do something that you don’t feel in your heart is right.  Listen to your heart, your thoughts, those are put there by the spiritual world.

You might be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, but if you feel that something is right, who cares. Turn your troubles to God in prayer. Don’t double guess what he has put in your heart. Don’t have fear, just believe and watch the wonders that are meant to be—BE!

Cupcake Connoisseur

At the thought of red velvet cupcakes, I instantly salvate. I don’t know what it is about that intense chocolate sensation, but as soon as it hits my taste buds, they have a little dance party inside my mouth. Does this happen with any other cupcake? Nope! Just the red velvet ones. Why? I have no idea!

My daughter on the other hand, hates any chocolate cupcake. She only likes vanilla cupcakes. In my mind I think, how can this be? Does she not know the dance party that she is missing out on? I always get her to give the red velvet cupcake another try, but every time she spits it out in disgust. There is no convincing her that these cupcakes are the be-all-end-all like I feel they are.

To make everyone happy on special occasions like birthdays, we go to a local cake shop and get a variety box of cupcakes. This place has oodles of different kinds of flavors that will fulfill the tastes of any pallet. I’ve tried many, many different kinds, but still to me, nothing beats the red velvet.

We are fortunate to have such a variety of different cupcakes to sample, and it is very parallel to our choices when it comes to religion. We can choose the ones that give us the feeling of a dance party in our hearts instead of our taste buds.

I’ve listened to many different people who are teaching God’s word, and just like the cupcakes, so make me excited about the word of God, and then others aren’t as tasteful. The one’s I find the most bitter to my senses are those that put down other people that are trying to teach God’s word too. I listened to this one individual who was explaining why the Pope wasn’t in heaven, he also was honestly poking fun at a very popular new age pastor, and so, I stopped listening to this man, even though he was very intelligent when it came to God’s word. He definitely wasn’t my taste in cupcakes!

I’m a not a Catholic, but I am a Christian, and that is all that matters to me. I study the bible, meditate on God’s word, and try to incorporate what I learn into my daily life. I try my best not to judge anyone, and that includes those whose life mission is to teach the bible to others. I do, however, find I’m left with a bitter taste in my mouth when these people are diminishing other religions, others’ techniques of teaching, and judging whether the Pope is in heaven. But, again, that is my own personal taste.

Luke chapter 6 has a very nice part in it about judging others starting at verse 37…”Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others and God will forgive you.”

I know one thing, I am not a cupcake connoisseur, but I do love my red velvet cupcakes. Neither am I a bible expert…I just know that I love God, and try my best to follow his word. Since it is written that I am not to judge others, than that is what I will do. Race, religion, even sexual preference…not MY place to judge!

As it says in Matthew 22:36-39, “”Teacher,” he asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”

Is judging whether or not the Pope went to heaven a very nice way to love your neighbor? Absolutely not. Just because you might have a difference of taste between cupcakes, doesn’t give you the right to judge me for liking red velvet cupcakes, and in my opinion, it doesn’t give anyone the right to judge whether someone goes to heaven or hell either. Just my taste on this touchy subject.  I admire and love you for whatever cupcake you choose!

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My Aunt, My Angel

auntFamily is a huge part of my life. I love all that it stands for and represents. You know when all else fails, family is going to be there for you, no matter what, or at least I’m fortunate to have a family like this!

When I got married, my aunt and her husband took my wedding pictures. This particular aunt loved pictures and volunteered taking pictures for everything. It was such a kind gift, because it takes the entire day taking pictures at a wedding, but she never once complained about it. She was just a magnificent woman.

Sometimes members of a family can also be misunderstood…and this was my aunt. She was different than her other siblings, but different in a good way. She was wise beyond her years and couldn’t care less what people thought of her, or her beliefs. She was very modern in her thinking and coming from a very religious mother, this was sometimes frowned upon.

When I was a teenager I used to love going for walks with her in the fall and look at the beautiful leaves and smell the crisp autumn air as she would share her world views with me…It was something we always did when she came home for a visit. I cherished these walks, her views were so different than what I was used to hearing. She was very liberal in her thinking. So open-minded. It was as refreshing as the fall air!

After my wedding, was my baby shower. A young couple starting out and having their first child, money was tight, and we were looking forward to the generosity of all our kind family and friends and their gifts of love towards our first born child. This particular aunt gave me the strangest baby shower gift. It was a candle holder. Yep…my forward thinking aunt got me a candle holder for my baby shower gift! Can you believe this? Everyone that knew her agreed that she also probably spent a lot of money on this candle holder…I was in awe wondering why she hadn’t of given me something more useful…something more…babyish…I thought this aunt understood me…knew me.

This candle holder wasn’t just any candle holder, it was a beautiful angel sitting down with its wings in full spread, hugging its knees. The angels head was tilted to the side resting in its folded arms. It was all white adorn with a burgundy and gold ribbon and burgundy artificial flowers and white baby’s breath encircled the actual candle. It was very nice, but what was I going to do with it? It didn’t match any of my Noah’s Arc décor in the nursery…it left me mystified.

Two days before I gave birth to our incredible first born son, we got a phone call late one evening. It was my father’s voice on the other end, and as he said just my name in a very shaky voice, and skipped all normal greetings of a casual phone conversation, I knew something was desperately wrong. When he announced that this amazing aunt was hit by a car while driving on her motorcycle with her husband I couldn’t believe the news! How could this be? Why? NO!

Little did I know, that this angel candle holder was going to represent so much to me, then, and even 13 years later as it still sits on my shelf. I haven’t even as much as burnt the original candle that she set in it. It is probably the most special gift anyone has ever given to me…and I know that she is one of the angels watching over me, my family and probably, definitely my son!

Sometimes we don’t understand why things happen the way they do or their reason…just like this gift. Why was she giving me an angel…my forward thinking, cool aunt. Sometimes we have to wait to see the value in certain things…or their meaning. If we are patient we will see the purpose of a situation. It is difficult some times when pain and grief are involved, but like it is said in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

My aunt’s time in her earthly form was over, two days before my son’s body was brought into this world. My forward thinking aunt gave me the most precious baby shower gift I could have ever asked for. A constant reminder that she was such a huge part of my life, and was going to continue to be with me and my family, maybe not in an earthly form but in a spiritual form. At the time of the gift opening I didn’t realize this, but we aren’t going to understand everything that happens to us. We just have to go to God in prayer and ask for strength to get us through our trials. Everything has a purpose, and once you find out why, you will understand his grander plan.

Two years later, my second child, our beautiful daughter, was born. She was almost two week overdue, but to our pleasure, she was born on my late aunt’s birthday!  March 12th. Not only do I have the ceramic angel candle holder as a reminder of this wonderful woman who has had such an impact in my life, but we also get to celebrate her birthday every year with that of our daughter. She might not be here in body, but I am more than certain, she adorns us every day with her spirit. How lucky am I?

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Signs and Symptoms

signI think I have the most incredible son, which every mother thinks, I know! He’s so fascinating though! He was a hard baby. Looking back I know he was colicky, but I never wanted to admit it. I saw the signs, but avoided them at the time. How many mothers do that right? We want the perfect baby, not a colicky one—but having flashbacks of myself sleeping upright in the bed with him asleep on my chest was a big red flag. How could I miss that one?

I missed this sign, and many others when it comes to parenting. I read many, many, many parenting books, but nothing prepares you for reality.

My son now misses signs too. I sometimes get frustrated with him. He doesn’t get some basic social cues. The one that probably frustrates me the most is, if someone’s eyes are shut, they are probably sleeping. I’ve been trying for 13 years to instill this in him, and I am not giving up. Someday, he will remember this if it is the last thing I teach him!

Just today, he knocked on my prayer room door, peeped his head in and flashed me his handsome smile, and his eyes lit up seeing me.  Frustrated, but lovingly, I had to remind him that if my door is closed that means I’m meditating. He didn’t listen to me, and barged right over to where I was sitting and explained that he was just wanting a kiss—of course, I paused my meditation to fulfill his wish. Who could turn that down? But, he still missed the signal of the closed door.

He is a super smart boy, and enjoys educating himself. He’ll bring home tests and explain to me that he made a bunch of careless mistakes again, and every time I remind him he has to take his time, but again, it is one of those cues that he struggles with.

It’s not just him that struggles with seeing signs. We are all very guilty of it. Sometimes we miss the signs of our loved ones wanting more of our attention. Sometimes we miss when a friend is in need.  Maybe we are getting ourselves in financial troubles, and ignoring these signs.  We could be missing the signs that our bodies aren’t functioning the way they should. Being in our 40s, we are starting to have friends that have 80% blockages in their hearts, and tell me they didn’t have signs of that before they take their first heart attack? Sadly, we all see signs and ignore them.

After my son interrupted my meditation, and I was studying the book of Numbers all in the same morning, it hit me! Numbers 14:11, really jumped out at me, “The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?”

How many times have you missed the signs that God was sending you? How many blessings have you missed out on because you didn’t recognize his signs? When we don’t recognize these signs, and decide to do things our way, he allows us to wander, and sometimes into very dangerous waters. While we are wandering, we are missing out on blessings that he had in store for us.

The good news is, just like I’m never giving up on my son, he never gives up on us, and he will keep dishing out those signs until we finally take notice. Sometimes we might have to hit rock bottom in an area of our lives before we realize this. Just like our friends who have 80% blockages in their hearts, or myself who had to witness an area of her life bottom out before she realized the blessings she was missing out on.

It is my wish that nobody has to go through the pain to get to the pleasure that awaits all of us. Open your eyes, ears, minds and hearts now to the signs he is sending you and save yourself the trouble. Start your relationship with God and witness the many blessings he has for you. Look for the signs, they are all around you! If you give your troubles to God, you will be triumphant!

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Baseball Blessings

ballBeing the end of February, I have to say that I cannot wait for baseball season to start! Our family loves baseball! It’s in every one of us! Both sides of my children’s Family Trees, are lovers of the sport in some sense or another, and it’s become a huge part of our lives. Even in the winter months, we are still talking ball. It’s who we are!

My husband went to many National Championships and Canada Games for the sport and was coached by his father…also known in this house as “Poppa Key-Key”. He’s an incredible 75 year old, who when you meet him, he seems only to be about 50 because he’s so spunky, full-of-life and comical! I met him for the first time 18 years ago, and he hasn’t aged a year since I first met him.

Now, Poppa is coaching my son, with his son. How amazing is that? In the heat of the summer, he is at the baseball field up to 4 days a week. Braving the heat and elements to donate his 70 plus years of knowledge of this sport to the kids that are six decades younger than him. And the boys LOVE him! How could they not? He’s entertaining, a ball of fun, and knows more about baseball, then the entire group of 12 fourteen year olds. I’m sure my husband is learning loads from him too, even though he might not admit to it!

To me, it touches my heart to the core and there is nothing better than watching my son at home plate, his grandfather waiting for him at first base to coach him around the bases, and his father on third to coach him home! It is the most wonderful site to see.
I realize, a big part of me, loving this picture is because I adore each one of these men to the end of the earth. But think about it! Where else do we have a Father and Son cheering us on? Coaching us from base to base, making sure we get home safe. Trying to score a run for our team.

That is what we need to get through this world successfully! We are at the bat having many hard balls thrown directly at us! Sometimes we may strike out, sometimes we may hit our home-run. Some days we only get a base hit, but waiting for us there, is our loved ones, and watching over us is our Great Father, Son and Holy Spirit, edging us on. Trying to guide us, if we’d just listen.

We might be able to steal second base, if we have the confidence in our great leaders who are our eyes for us, while we are looking straight at our goal. Be obedient to their lead…trust that they know what they are doing. Keep our faith in their knowledge of the sport and their strength. It’s a hard thing to do, because sometime we have our own ergs to make choices and decisions on our own.

If sometimes, my son doesn’t listen to his coaches’ directions, they are both there to lovingly pick him up and dust the dirt off him and they are very forgiving to him for not trusting them. Of course they hope that he learned his lesson from trusting his own instincts, and not listening to them.  They hope that he will trust them to guide him the next time he gets on base, but in the end it’s his choice.

We all have to learn to trust in our Heavenly Coach, waiting for us to make it to our next base in life. Trying to get home without getting called out by the umpire is difficult, and without his help, it is risky. We might make it alone, but why take the chance? If we listen to our Heavenly Father on third base, standing strong, waiting for us to round third, we will easily get the arm rolling motion to hurry to home plate! Hustle to our destiny! Slide in to our home plate! Score the winning run!

It is told to us in Exodus 15:2, “The LORD is my strength and my defense ; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” We all need strong defense to win any game…whether it is a game of baseball, or the game of life.

What are you waiting for? Grab that bat of life, step up to home plate, look at your two base coaches, and realize with them on your team you have the game in the bag!  Just listen to their direction, use them for your defense and wait for the big arm wave from your third base coach, guiding you safely home to victory! It’s a feeling that you will never forget!

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Snow Day Priorities

snowMost Canadians love a great snow day…especially the students and teachers and luckily I’m a teacher. When we get about 30 centimeters of snow, the entire city will shut-down and we get a nice quiet day at home with our family. It is priceless!

I love them because I get to get caught up on my time in my home. Being held captive in your own home is a good thing now and then. You get caught up on your laundry, get to play some board games with your children and cook a nice meal that isn’t rushed. Some days I even grab a nap! There is nothing like a good afternoon snuggle with the kids and a nap. It’s just icing on the cake.

As I age, and learn through my mistakes, I’m learning that sometimes we get our priorities out of order. It wasn’t until my quest to become a better wife that I learned that the husband should be a wife’s number one priority. Man, did I ever have my priorities all wrong. My list of priorities went more like this: my children, my work, my gymnasts that I coach, running the home properly, my friends, and then when I could find time, I would squeeze a little time for my husband.

Instead of giving him my best, I was giving him what was left of my life after all my other commitments. Thank goodness I finally came to the conclusion that things had to change. I’m very fortunate that this became my New Year’s Resolution, because I started to do my research and found out that I had it all wrong. I was so busy making sure that my children were going to be successful, I forgot that without having their father in their world, their lives would come crashing down.

Before snow days were all about catching up on things I needed to do, but this year, things changed. Our last snow day, I got up earlier than the rest of the house and spent my time with God, but after that it was back to cuddle with my husband this time, and not the kids. Then it was make my husband’s favorite breakfast, instead of my picky-eater of a son I have. If he didn’t like what I was making he is old enough now to make his own toast.
Then my husband and I watch 3 episodes of our favorite Netflix original program and cuddled on the couch watching the snow accumulate. This time, the kids played board games together while I was spending some catch-up time with their father. Did it hurt the children any? Absolutely not. Instead they were learning what a healthy marriage should look like.

Finally, I made dinner…my call this time…and as the snow slowed down my husband ventured out to our local restaurant to try and get it open for the public. Now, that my husband was gone to work, I had lots of time to spend some alone time with the children. My housework might not have been finished, my laundry might not have been caught up, but I was prioritizing this extra spare time that the snow day left me, and since my children are third on my list of priorities, I owed it to them to spend quality time with them.

You can judge me if you wish, but the way I had my priorities previously wasn’t working. Proverbs 12:4 is a verse that I became to love, “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” Not only was I decay to my husband’s bones, I was also decaying my entire family unit.

If you were to list your priorities, would they have looked more like my first list, or would it be in line with my second list? We all have to prioritize, and this is difficult. Please believe me that when we prioritize our husbands before our children it is a win-win situation. It is the way that God created it. We can frown on it, and go with the way society of today feels it should be…which I was very guilty of…or we can follow the instructions in the Bible.

I’ve had it both ways, and trust me, the way that the good Lord made it initial is definitely the most rewarding for you, your husband and your children. Make the change today, and enjoy your extra time with the people that need your attention the most, and watch the instant change. My husband still rubs it in to the children that he is number one, but the kids completely understand and love it too!

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