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Ramblings from a Southern liberal, Boomer, single parent, grandmother, reunited birthmother, cancer survivor, pop-culture observer, retired teacher

Most dramatic lymphoma posts are from June 2002 - February 2003 archives.

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The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I cannot go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

--Theodore Roethke


Joy's Updates - Straight from the Horse's Mouth.
Friday, May 30, 2003  
Summer Vacation

Now that summer vacation from school is about to begin, I will consider myself well. After all, I've been on sick leave and that's how it should work. I've gotten a taste of time off from work now and want more. I am really looking forward to retirement and wish it could happen now! It's great not to wake up to the sound of an alarm clock and the clock radio (takes a while for me to ease into the morning) and to go to bed when I'm sleepy and eat when I want to. Something those of you who don't teach might not realize is that it's convenient to be able to got to the bathroom when you want to - a luxury teachers don't have. We also spend our time explaining things to others, asking questions we know the answers to, trying to create order from chaos, and giving others permission to do all kinds of things most of you take for granted - talk, stand, sit, throw things away, sharpen pencils, go to the restroom, get a drink of water, etc. It's an odd life and one I'm ready to leave behind. Two more years! Two more years!

3:05:00 PM

Wednesday, May 28, 2003  

I added a link to Rituxan for those of you who want to know more about it. It's really helpful for those with cancer and those without it. The last part has helpful advice for all of us. I have some of the symptoms, such as weakness, fatigue, sweating, headache, breathlessness, racing heart, and muscle aches. I'll add mild dizziness and feeling foggy (foggier than usual for me even). As Brian said, when it costs over $9,000 a treatment (yes, one bag of it in the IV costs that!), there should be some side-effects. Doing this every week makes it worse, too.

This link has interesting information. Even though I like mythological explanations, I'm not sure I can form a workable metaphor from this. What do you think? M-I-C-K-E-Y!

From that source:
Rituxan is a specific type of drug known as a chimeric monoclonal antibody. Chimeric antibodies take their name from the chimera, a mythical beast with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a dragon. The Rituxan chimera is a hybrid of antibodies from both human and murine (mouse) sources.

2:10:00 PM

Tuesday, May 27, 2003  
Happy Birthday, Willie!

Last night on cable channel USA, Willie Nelson and Friends Live and Kickin' celebrated Willie's 70th birthday. I can't believe he's 70 until I realize how old I am and can't believe that either! Be sure to check out the video interviews and playlist on that link. It was so much fun to watch - with good music, laughs, and memories. There were some interesting guests and duets, since Willie sang with most of them. I've always liked Willie and his music. Mother and I went to one of his concerts at Opryland's outdoor theater and really enjoyed it all. He sang for well over two hours and really gave a lot to the audience.

It was held in NYC with an audience I wish I'd been part of. That is one taping I'd like to have seen! He sang and played "Nightlife" with Eric Clapton. I've always liked that song, especially when Willie sings it, and Eric Clapton playing the guitar is, well, Eric Clapton! Incredible! Willie's guitar style is recognizable and makes songs his. Sheryl Crow and Kris Kristofferson sang "Me and Bobby McGee" while he grinned all over her and looked like he was having a great time.

Diana Krall sang "Crazy" with the help of Elvis Costello and did well. I don't think anyone's ever performed it better than Patsy Cline, though. Linda Rondstadt's version was good. I really like that song even though it falls into the category of those co-dependent country songs. Those are good wallowing-in-it, crying-in-your-beer songs and have their place. We've all probably been there a time or two and know how it feels. What we hope is that we get past wanting drama in our relationships, believe we deserve better, and welcome it.

Nora Jones sang "Wurlitzer Prize" in memory of Waylon Jennings. I really do like her and keep planning to buy her CD's. Then one of my favorites Lyle Lovett joined the list. I've sung with him so many times in the car. One night when I went with friends to see Townes Van Zandt at Douglas Corner, Lyle Lovett was standing in the back in the audience. Wow! They are part of that Texas migration to Nashville along with Guy Clark, Nancy Griffith, and others.

I keep hearing sounds about how Nashville might be losing its hold on the music business, much like Hollywood is losing the movie business, because of independent labels. They need to learn a lesson from that and go back to when they took some chances on new talent and let them develop and find their audience. It's the same mentality in both places. I realize they are businesses, but something needs to change with businesses anyway. When it involves artistic aspects, the parts that make it most creative have a hard time surviving because of trying to make the "product" as commercial as possible. We have so many imitations and reheated past successes that it's even more refreshing to hear, see, and read something of quality and talent. Off soapbox for a while and back to Willie's birthday party now ....

Shelby Lynne did a wonderfully emotional and soulful "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" and made me remember how even though I'm not a big fan of country music in general, I like the country music that has a lot of blues in it. I'm going to go play some Bonnie Raitt now while I'm cleaning the kitchen, speaking of blues. When Leon Russell and Ray Charles sang "A Song for You" it got to Willie. He had tears in his eyes and was visibly moved by it. He discusses it on the video at the website. Ray Charles sang most of it and was powerful. This was Willie's favorite part of the evening, he said.

It was a hoot to see Steven Tyler and Willie singing together. They sang "One Time Too Many" and did it once country and again rock. Lots of fun! Whose lips and mouth are bigger, Tyler's or Mick Jagger's? He touched Melissa's hair (it's like spun gold) and talked to her when she worked at Peaceful Planet, a vegan restaurant, and several members of Aerosmith ate there once when they were in town. When they cleaned themselves up, they really did it! One of them said they had to eat healthfully and take care of themselves to be able to perform and keep the schedule they do. How 'bout that? But then again, Tyler did add to his birthday wishes, "Here's to Hell. May we have as much fun there as we did getting there."

There were others on the show too - Shania Twain (who looked grungy like she'd been raking leaves except for the shoes - those jeans were too bad for Goodwill), Ray Price, Paul Simon, Wyclef Jean, ZZ Top, Toby Keith ("I'll Never Smoke Weed with Willie Again" got a big laugh), Kenny Chesney, and John Mellencamp who all did well, too. I taped it so I can watch it again.

Hey! If any of you got here from a search and read the whole thing, please leave a comment and/or sign my guestmap! Thanks for stopping by! Glad to have you join us!

1:32:00 PM

Saturday, May 24, 2003  
Your Feline Personality

I took this quiz and thought it was fun. If you take it, what are you? First I was the Pink Panther which was fun, but then I changed my mind about where I wanted to live and became Hobbes, which was even better! Inspector Clouseau is a hoot and would keep me lauging, but I would have more fun with Calvin since that's how Brian was as a child. I'm not too sure how accurate that description is of me, but I choose to believe it. Who wouldn't?

You're Hobbes!
You're Hobbes. First of all, the makers of this
quiz would like to congratulate you. You have
our seal of approval. You are kind,
intelligent, loving, and good-humoredly
practical. You're proud of who you are. At the
same time, you're tolerant of those who lack
your clearsightedness. You're always playful,
but never annoying. For these traits, you are
well-loved, and with good cause.

Which famous feline are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

12:25:00 PM

Thursday, May 22, 2003  

I've noticed that I have many readers but no commenters. Where were you when I was teaching? It's probably a bad idea to ask that question since age will come up in a negative way for me. My ability to walk into a group of children and stir them up into a talking frenzy does not translate to the effects of blog writing. Different audience, I guess. The problem is that after a while of no comments, I begin to believe I'm writing to myself and get silly. Some of you email me to comment, which I certainly appreciate. Thanks for the reality checks!

1:17:00 PM

Whitie the Chicken

One of the chickens we saved from its mental mother became a pet. She would follow us when we walked. The sound her little chicken claws made on the hardwood floor were similar to that brush thing drummers use or maybe a rain stick. Very cute running behind each foot. Then she'd get on our shoulder when we talked on the phone. I'd pick her up, and she would climb to my shoulder and walk around while I talked. Sometimes she perched there and other times I had to change clothes. Later on she was assimilated back into the chicken pen and lived among her own kind. She grew up to be brown which made her name sort of odd. We could go out and pick her up and pet her though, and later when she had baby chicks (which she did not kill but took care of - glad that wasn't hereditary), she let my brother and me pick them up. Mother hens don't ordinarily do that, either.

12:59:00 PM

Wednesday, May 21, 2003  
The Bee Funeral

Funerals are an important part of Southern life. They provide opportunities for family gatherings and a ritualistic method of extending condolences. It is literally a rite of passage with customs that are meaningful to a particular family as well as the community in which they live and worship. There is a certain funeral home etiquette that's expected and which also varies, even though some of it is fairly universal. We have made it into an art form in the South where appearance is more important than content. Depending on how well we know the family and deceased, we determine the extent of our condolences, which can range to sending cards/flowers/donations to preparing meals. The length of visit to the funeral home depends on several factors, as does attendance to the funeral. Generally it's not a good idea to spend too long with a family member unless they indicate they need you to be nearby. If so, they will ask you to stay or sit with them. Otherwise, let them know you care and are sorry for their loss and either leave or go sit with the other visitors. People often prepare food for the family to eat there at the funeral home or send it to the home of some family member where they will gather after the funeral. I don't think families stay at the funeral home as long as they used to and have more regular visiting hours now. The whole process is emotionally draining and cathartic. I learned about funeral etiquette from my mother.

The first time I really learned about funerals was from my neighbors who lived on each side of our house. There were two girls who were three years older than I and made sure I realized it. They taunted me with what they learned and could do and dangled it like a carrot in front of me. "You haven't lived until you go to school!" "Just wait till you learn to read!" "You haven't lived until you're in third grade!" "Riding a bicycle is great!" "Oh, just wait until you can wear a bra like we do!" "It will be a long time before you get to date, but we can!" "We have our driver's license!" And on and on! No wonder I'm such a malcontent and live in the future. They never let me enjoy my present life without looking forward to what I wasn't doing yet.

Of course, they went to a funeral before I did. They were older while I was too young. So they relished describing every detail to me in a superior manner while making it sound dramatic and mysterious. We all played outside most of the time. We played tag, hide-and-seek, blind man's bluff, football, basketball, baseball, cowboys, cops and robbers, and games we made up. We also climbed trees, rode bikes, made mud pies, and explored the woods behind our houses and the extra lot. It was fun and fed our imaginations.

Daddy had a vegetable garden and chickens, so we always had fresh vegetables and eggs. Mother spent a lot of time during the summer canning and freezing the bounty. She still makes the best applesauce I've ever had. Daddy enjoyed giving away tomatoes, squash, corn, and all kinds of vegetables he'd share. Fortunately for me, this was a form of relaxation for him, and he didn't want anyone messing things up by weeding the wrong plants and not doing it like he did. That was fine with me! I did have to pick things sometime but not often. I also got out of dealing with freshly-killed chickens except for cutting them up into pieces since I could see a potential use for this information. Unless you've been there, no one can imagine how bad a chicken smells that's been dunked in extremely hot water to loosen it's feathers so they can be removed. I whined and complained so much about it and intentionally did it very slowly and ineffectively until he was sufficiently irritated and told me to just let him do it. Having a parent with some control issues can work for you if you play it right. It worked with scaling fish too. I made a huge mess and left gaps in them, so Mr. Perfectionist Virgo Daddy didn't make me do it. Being a girl helped, I'm sure, because I don't think my brother got out of doing much. He cared more about pleasing than getting out of work like I did.

I've really digressed! I was going to tell about the bee funeral and need to get back to that story. One day a hen killed some of her baby chicks. We saved two of them, a dark one and a yellow one, which we named Blackie and Whitie - how original! We brought them in the house, fed them, and took care of them. Blackie died. When I told the neighbors about it, they decided we needed to have a funeral for it. This way they could not only show off their knowledge but direct a production and be in charge while we played funeral. They described all the roles and what everyone did. We gathered others from the neighborhood and volunteered for our parts. Obviously, we didn't really grasp the concept of death and what it really involved. We were upset when one of the fathers wouldn't preach the funeral, so one of the older ones did that. A couple of people were the choir. I wanted to be the family since I thought pretending to cry would give me a chance to overact. We put the baby chicken in a matchbox, dug a hole, conducted its funeral, and buried it. It was lots of fun and a new game we hadn't played before. Besides, we gave him a proper burial and not something impersonal. Curiosity overcame us as we discussed what we thought happened to the little chick. Several theories were entertained until we had to find out for ourselves. Yes, we dug it up to see what happened. Gross! I was pretty young and thought it turned into worms which seemed incredible. I imagined how that must have happened and visualized it. That image is still clear to me of the remains in that matchbox. When I studied Shakespeare and read the line, "Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love," I got it.

We liked playing funeral which wasn't so much play as performing a service. Otherwise, we'd have pretended to have a deceased; however, that didn't occur to us because this was serious business. Like vultures, we waited around for something else to die. Nothing cooperated. One of the older ones (and I want to emphasize that this WAS NOT MY IDEA - I was only around eight years old) suggested we trap a bee in a jar and not poke holes in the lid the way we did for lightning bugs, so it would die. That seemed like a good idea since almost all of us had stepped on a bumble bee while barefoot in the yard which had some clover in it that attracted bees which stung us when we stepped on one. I don't know that justification was discussed, though. It takes a bee a long time to die in a jar. It would have been more humane to have stepped on it, but this was our plan and we stuck to it. Every day we'd shake the jar to see if the bee moved or not. Eventually, it was immobile. We went into action immediately for our funeral. The bee remained undisturbed after its burial. In fact, the funeral was almost upstaged because that's the day our first television was delivered.

Years later, I told this story to Challenge Class students. They thought I was horrible and macabre because of this but feared me just a little knowing that side of me. Well, I can think so anyway. I taught them for several years, and at the end of his 8th grade year which was the last year I taught him, Ben Blankenship gave me a little jar with a fake bumble bee in it. I'll always treasure it and laugh and smile every time I look at it and remember his face when he gave it to me.

2:39:00 PM

Pandora's Box

If you're looking for the perfect gift for children that's both cuddly and educational, here it is! Aren't these just adorable? Thanks to Scaryduck for the link. He wants the blue one.

12:59:00 PM

Tuesday, May 20, 2003  

Yesterday was OK. I was there from 9:00 until around 2:15, so that was most of the day. The Benadryl made me sleepy, so I slept during part of the treatment. The reason for that is to help prevent allergic reactions to Rituxan. I felt hot during some of the IV sort of like my internal thermostat was too high, but that was about all. I went by Wang's to get some lunch to bring home and then got so sleepy I had to take a nap - a long one. It was probably because of the Benadryl. Then I slept all morning and have been draggy today. If this is all that happens, it will be great. I have eleven more of these to do over the next year.

Dr. Phil had a show today about menopause and therapies and help for them. I'm thinking about getting off prescription hormone replacement therapy and doing what was suggested on the show. Does anyone know where saliva and hair follicle testing can be done? That and blood tests are supposed to show what minerals, vitamins, and hormones are out of balance. What's a compounding pharmacist? Are they only in California? This regimin is for peri-zappers taken from the book Before the Change that was featured on the show. I've intended to try this but don't plan to until I'm not working with students. I went through this before and it's not a good idea!

3:56:00 PM

Monday, May 19, 2003  
A Month of Mondays

Tomorrow I have the first of four weekly maintenance Rituxan treatments. That consists of sitting in the chemo room hooked up to an IV for at least four hours, maybe six. Side-effects aren't as bad with Rituxan as with chemo, but I can tell I've had something and felt tired and like I was getting the flu before. I hope it's not so bad again this time. I dread it. After this four weeks (every Monday), I'll do it again in six months and then again for one more round in a year. The idea is that it trains my immune system to recognize the lymphoma cells since it's targeted just for them, so it will be able to fight cancer from now on. Results have been good with it, and I believe they will be for me, too.

I watched the funeral for June Carter Cash on TV this afternoon. Roseanne Cash delivered the most eloquent, heart-felt eulogy to her! It was wonderful and so well-written and warm. She's incredibly articulate, talented, and intelligent. Johnny Cash looks so frail and bereft. Roseanne captured their relationship and his and the family's feelings in her words at the funeral.

12:47:00 AM

Friday, May 16, 2003  

June Carter Cash will be missed. As sick as Johnny Cash has been, I wasn't expecting June to die before he did. I'm not sure how well he's going to make it since he's said he wouldn't be alive without her and didn't want to live without her now. I remember seeing her when I was a teenager when Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters came to Dickson to perform. This was a big deal since we didn't have concerts like that here and still don't. Some people went to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville (we didn't), but I can remember hearing it on the radio when I was a child. I also remember Baby Snooks, a character Fanny Brice did, on the radio as well as the family sitting around the radio listening to President Truman. This was before televisions.

Yes, I can remember before there was TV. Our neighbors had the first one, so the rest of us would go there after school ocassionally to watch Hopalong Cassidy. We went to each other's houses after school to play games if the weather was bad or played outside before coming home for homework and dinner.

We got our television during the summer after the neighbors got theirs. It was the day of the bee funeral, which I'll write about next. I'm not sure how old I was but probably around 8 years old. I can remember those first shows during the early 50's such as Howdy Doody, Jimmy Durante, Spike Jones, Doodles Weaver, Sid Ceasar's Show of Shows, Milton Berle, Playhouse 90, I Love Lucy, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Hour, Gary Moore, and other shows that are listed here on this site which is pretty interesting. It was a different kind of entertainment from what we'd been used to, so we'd turn it on to watch what we wanted to and then turn it off. There weren't but a couple of channels and it was in black and white. It would take a while for the TV to warm up, so we'd have to turn it on a while before the show was scheduled to come on. Test patterns were on it when the programming began and ended.

How many of you remember the Burma Shave signs along the highway?

12:47:00 PM

Wednesday, May 14, 2003  


I just cried all the way through West Wing for all kinds of reasons. That's my favorite show in TV because of the amazing writing. The actors have so much to work with. The ending was such a surprise but actually makes sense. Now I have no idea what's going to happen. What a cliffhanger!

My other favorite show, Judging Amy, also had surprises last night. I can't believe Gillian died. I wonder what that's all about. Sometimes actors want to leave shows and sometimes it's part of the plot. I can't imagine why this is going on. We've barely recovered from Richard Crenna's death which they incorporated realistically into the show. Now Gillian? In real life, things seem to happen like that all at once until we are numb.

My Job

It's official now. I'm going to teach at Creek Wood, the new high school which is between Charlotte and White Bluff on Hwy 47. Janey Jones is principal there, and they are just finishing their first year of operation. The way it sounds now, I'll get to teach 11th grade English and get back to American Lit again. I'm looking forward to that. If I teach a couple more years, I can retire and will have taught in every school in the county. When I taught Challenge Class, we went from school to school for several years which is how that happened. More on all this when I find out what I'll be teaching.

9:52:00 PM

Tuesday, May 13, 2003  
On the Map

It's our regularly scheduled time to ask those of you who haven't signed up on the map to join in! Several whole continents are empty, and the crowded areas can still fit more in! Just click on the guest map, change it to dots, zoom in, and there you are! Hands across the world! Everyone welcome!

Lovely weather here today and yesterday. Nice change from the death and destruction of the tornadoes.

Scaryduck was particularly funny today with Nohands the kitten making a divine appearance.

One of my former students Amy Nickens just finished her freshman year at Clark University in Worcester, Mass, and writes for The Morning Rooster there. Here's a link to her article about her grandmother - A Beloved Grandmother Remembered on Mother's Day. She wrote well from a young age and just gets better!

Salam Pax is back with his blog from Iraq. You might remember that he's an Iraqi citizen who lives in Baghdad and wrote about what was going on from his perspective there. I haven't read all the posts yet but plan to. His blog has received a lot of publicity and many readers.

11:30:00 AM

Monday, May 12, 2003  
Mother's Day

I'm sure it's no surprise to you that we went to Ellendale's for brunch for Mother's Day yesterday since we like it there so much. The meal was wonderful as usual, but the company was even better. This was Brendan's first restaurant outing, and he and his parents did really well. He was so sweet and slept through most of it. He'd been there quite often before his birth, so maybe that helped. Brian and Melissa are relaxed with him and so sensible about what to do. This was Melissa's first Mother's Day as a mother. The others there were Melissa's mother Paula, my mother, Sally, and her mother Mae. Sally is Brian's godmother as well as his cousin. She and I grew up together so closely that she's more like a sister to me than a cousin. Our mothers are the youngest of seven children and the only ones remaining. We have a close family and stong bonds even if some of us aren't in touch really often.

Kathy sent me a photo of her, Brian, and me taken the first time we were all together. The frame is really touching and has all these words on it about mothers. The card she sent was so sweet and just right. Our relationship is such a blessing and continues to amaze me. It will be two years on May 15 since she called me and got in touch. It seems much longer than two years since our reunion because she's always been here with me in my heart. I've loved her all her life, missed her, and am thrilled to know who she is now and be with her.

I plan to add pictures to the online photo storage place. If you've registered, you can see them by simply clicking the icon or bookmarking the site and won't have to sign in or anything after that. I've added a few photos to the albums and will create new albums as we go along here. I'm going to get my scanner back from Brian this week and then will have to learn to use it since I never did. I'll have more pictures on there fairly soon. Earl is going to teach me how to work with the photo programs I have and delete what I don't need. Isn't that the story of my life? Deleting what I don't need! Not an easy task!

11:33:00 AM

Saturday, May 10, 2003  

Is anybody still reading this?

9:05:00 AM

Wednesday, May 07, 2003  

I've been getting excited about teaching again and am looking forward to some ideas I'd like to try with classes. I think part of the way I felt had to do with going back to work after being off a long time. This is the most time at home I've had since Brian was a baby. I've needed it, too. Physically I feel much better. I wish my neck could be itself again, but it won't ever be the same. Parts of it hurt, part is numb, and the lymphedema and scar tissue make it stiff and tight and affect my shoulder and chest, too. The emotional part will take longer to get over.

This weather we've been having is scary. Tornadoes have killed people and destroyed homes and towns. Some people have died in floods too. It keeps raining and blowing.

5:13:00 PM

Tuesday, May 06, 2003  
Photo Album

To see these photos, you'll have to register the first time. Then you can just go there from then on to see new pictures. I don't expect any of you to commit to email or anything else - just to see the photos. I apologize for this, but it's how they do it. I haven't had to log in again to see anything and hope you don't either. Good luck and thanks!

Go here to see baby pictures:

Kathy pictures here:

Cat pictures here:

2:09:00 AM

Saturday, May 03, 2003  

I went to Wal-mart to get the pictures so I could show them to you, but they aren't there yet. I'll check again tomorrow. This give me more time to figure out how to post them. Some of you will get them in email. That I can do.

6:18:00 PM

Friday, May 02, 2003  

I guess I'll go back and teach two more years. It makes me feel sad thinking about it because I really wanted to be able to retire; however, the job situation out there is pretty bad now. I've been on sick leave which means that I haven't felt up to actively searching for a new job. I'm beginning to feel like doing it, but there isn't much time left, so I suppose it's back to the salt mines. I wish I could feel more enthusiastic about it but thinking about magazine drives, float building, lesson plans, being in charge of behavior, grading papers, and all that goes with teaching makes me tired and anxious. I feel better physically but am emotional from all this and still face some more treatment this month. Oh well, I'm just glad I was able to have this time off to get over what I've been through. No way could I have kept teaching during all this. I don't know how others have done it.

Anyone want to offer me a job?

7:17:00 PM

Thursday, May 01, 2003  

Brendan will be a week old tomorrow. I'm going to Dillard's to have a free make-over from Clinique this afternoon. That's what I use, so I'm sure they will have all kinds of new products they think I should have; however, I'll just let them write it on my card since I have what I need now. After that I'm going to see Brendan for the first time since Sunday at the hospital. I'll get to see his room and how he's taken over the whole house. The sleepless little family is making it fine and are going to the pediatrician today. I called Brian to see if they need anything else when I come over, and he said they were getting ready to take Brendan to the vet. Old habits! I laughed so hard! He said that was the second time he'd said that. Too funny!

Thanks for the messages on his picture site and the emails. New babies bring such hope, don't they?

12:27:00 PM

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