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the mommyhood memos: July 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

some precious baby bliss... still celebrating six months with my boy

For those of you wanting to get to know me a little better... here's a look into my family. I can't watch this video too much because it just gets me all emotional and makes me want to have another baby. And despite what my husband thinks {grin} I'm not ready for that quite yet. Speaking of Ryan, he's the clever chap that made this.

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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Friday, July 30, 2010

living in the midst of holy teachers: our children {sacred parenting series, part 1}

“The process of parenting is one of the most spiritually formative journeys a man and a woman can ever undertake.” Gary L. Thomas (Sacred Parenting)

Although I am a new mom, and have only had my little boy on the “outside” for six months, I am already becoming so profoundly aware of this truth. I recently wrote a post about growth spurts – that of my child and my own – where I talked about the way I’m growing and changing and being shaped as a woman as I learn to give my life to my son. And I know that what I touched on in that post is only scratching the surface of where this journey of parenthood will take me throughout the rest of my lifetime.

Not the “how” by the “why” of parenting.
I’ve just started reading a book called Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes our Souls by Gary L. Thomas and I’m finding it so challenging and so refreshing at the same time. In my short few months as a mom I’ve read countless books and websites about how to take care of my baby – breast feeding, how to help them sleep, cloth diapering, pumping, immunizations, and on and on. I felt like I was spending so much time thinking about the “how” questions of parenting, that it was becoming easy to forget the “why” questions that are at the very heart of parenting.

Why do we have children? Why do we experience such a wide array of emotions? Why are we “allowed” to be parents when we are oh-so-less-than-perfect?

Children are our teachers.
In Sacred Parenting, Thomas puts forth the premise that having children is the single-biggest learning experience of our lives if we allow it to be. He says that having children is like living “in the midst of holy teachers” and I couldn’t agree more.

I can think of nothing in my life up to this point that has caused me to examine myself – my motives, my strengths, my weaknesses, my limitations, my vulnerabilities, my securities (or insecurities), my source of joy – more than becoming a mom.

Keeping perspective of the big picture.
Thomas says that our spiritual quest must drive our parenting so that we can keep right perspective. If we just let our children drive our parenting we will be living from one milestone to the next, from one bad nap time to the next, from one bout with teething or skinned knee or school program to the next.

Of course it’s important that we live in the present and enjoy the day-to-day aspects of raising our children, but in doing so we need to take care not to fall into “maintenance mode.” In maintenance mode we can get so consumed in the day-to-day that we easily forget that we are raising men and women who will go on to influence the world.

What are my motivations?
When our motivations in raising children are askew (ie raising them to make us look good or fulfill our own unmet expectations in life) then we are in danger of focusing on the minor things and forgetting the major things. (You’ve heard the expression, “major on the minors and minor on the majors,” I presume?)

For me this doesn’t mean to neglect or downplay the every day humdrum of motherhood – those diapers need to be changed… again. But what it does mean is that while taking care of the “little” things I’m doing it out of a deliberate motivation to raise a child who is healthy and whole so that he can ultimately fulfill his purpose in life. It’s doing the little things with the big things in mind. (Of course all parents desire this, but how easy it is to forget when we're caught up in the latest growth spurt?)

Keeping this perspective means appreciating my child and loving and accepting him unconditionally even when he isn’t 'behaved' or 'accomplished' or whatever else makes me feel successful as a parent. It means remembering that it’s not all about me, because—if it is—then I will quickly grow resentful and frustrated by the little munchkin that has taken over my life and eats up most of my time. Because ultimately, as Thomas says, “when we don’t understand the purpose of parenting, the process becomes tedious.”

When purpose gets crowed out.
When we neglect the spiritual aspect of our parenting, we easily become resentful, controlling, intolerant and demanding of our children in ways that are not only unfair but unloving. God is the ultimate help for all that we face, and—if we allow—He is the one that will help us to see how our children shape our souls, mold our hearts, and experience life in deeper ways than ever before.

The transforming process.
While raising children is one of the most profoundly joyful and fulfilling endeavors, it’s also one of the most humbling endeavors often bringing frustration, and pain, and sacrifice. Although as a new mother I’ve yet to experience the depth of these things that I know is inevitably coming, I’m trying to establish a perspective early-on that will help me to understand the transforming process that I am in, as well as the purpose behind it all.

I’m so grateful for my little “holy teacher” that has come in the form of a sweet baby boy. I’m learning so much, I’m growing as a woman, I’m having my rough edges sanded down, I’m learning compassion, flexibility, humility, faith, and love on heights I’ve never scaled before.

Yes, I have a long way to go. But I’m thanking God—and Levi, my little “holy teacher”—for how far I’ve come already.

Dear mommy-friends, some questions to think about:
  • Do you ever have trouble remembering the “why’s” of parenting because you get too busy with the “how’s”?
  • When is the last time you examined your parenting motivations?
  • When is the last time you thought about the “big picture” of how you want to raise your child, and how do you incorporate that in your day-to-day parenting?
  • How do you find strength to get through the potential tediousness of the day-to-day?
  • When is the last time you allowed your child to teach you something? (Or recognized it?)
This post is the first of a series I will be writing, inspired by the book Sacred Parenting by Gary L Thomas. Please let me know if you have the book and would like to follow along... I highly recommend it. (Please note that I'll be moving through the book at a fairly slow pace, in order to keep writing a variety of other posts as well.)

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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

dear God, thank you for half-birthdays.

{love you sweet baby boy. thank you for the best six months... ever. x}

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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

breaking all the blogging rules: 100 things for my 100th post {pregnancy, birth, and being a first-time mom}

I make no apologies that this will be a long list post. I was going to write about 100 things I’ve learned about blogging, but then I came across Mel at Adventuroo last week and she’s already done it. Not only has she already done it, but it’s far superior to what I could hope to do… So, I deleted that draft and changed gears.

Instead I want to share 100 things I’ve learned in the last year about pregnancy, birth, postpartum recovery, breastfeeding, caring for a baby, and being a first-time-mom. I'm sure this post will be far too long to have many readers or get many comments. But I don't care. It's my blog and I can do what I want.

Should I have broken this into a few posts? Most definitely. (Problogger would be appalled.)

But then again, it wouldn’t be 100 for my 100th now would it?

About pregnancy:

1.                 Don’t worry about timing your baby “just right”. Most people take a few months to get pregnant anyway.

2.                 Forget #1 and do everything possible to not be in your third trimester in the middle of summer.

3.                 Your pregnant elephant ankles will return to normal. Just hang in there.

4.                 Take more naps. Don’t wait for the baby to be born so you can “nap when the baby naps”… He might not be a good napper.

5.                 Ask your husband’s employer if he can take an extra week of paternity leave if you end up having an unplanned c-section.

6.                 You have no idea about your capacity to burp and fart until you’re into your second trimester. Just you wait.

7.                 Don’t feel guilty if the gender of the baby on the ultra sound isn’t what you were expecting. It’s normal and will pass. (And you will be so happy about your little boy or girl that you'll forget about it anyway.)

8.                 Wear fitted clothes – your bump is beautiful and you look cuter without extra frump.

9.                 Don’t buy maternity clothes if you can get around it. Just buy a belly band or button extender and wear your normal clothes.

10.            If you do buy anything, buy long tank tops that you can layer under other “normal” shirts. Or better yet, buy nursing tank tops (You will live in them during those first few postpartum months, whether you are layering over them or not.)

11.            Take heart, your shoes will fit again someday.

12.            Enjoy that beautiful skin. Unfortunately it doesn’t last.

13.            Enjoy that hair. You will soon be shedding it in copious amounts.

14.            Save receipts because you really don’t need that bottle sanitizer.

15.            Use your birthday money on yourself, silly girl. That little baby will get more presents than you know what to do with.

16.            Get educated about giving birth. The more you know, the more you will be empowered and the less scared you will be.

17.            Have some understanding about c-sections and recovery… just case.

18.            It really is reasonable to let the lady with small children move to the front of the line. Start now – you reap what you sow.

19.            Read differing parenting philosophy books and then decide for yourself what’s best for you and your family.

20.            In light of #19, be prepared to change your mind later if you need to.

About labor and giving birth:

21.            If you want to speed up labor once your contractions have begun, use a breast pump. Oh. My. Goodness.

22.            Have a birth plan but know that it’s just a plan, not a prophecy. It will look different.

23.            Having your waters break is not a one-off gush… it continues for hours into labor. Don’t be alarmed when you have to walk around with a towel between your legs for the rest of the day.

24.            Watching So You Think You Can Dance between contractions provides good distraction, but don’t get mad when they forget to pause it while you hunch over in excruciating pain every few minutes.

25.            Giving birth is messy. What? You know that? Ok then, remember it.

26.            Remember that sometimes your midwife needs encouragement too, especially when things go wrong.

27.            Make sure your husband knows how to quickly and efficiently find the ice machine.

28.            Labor is hard work, but you were totally made for it. Go for it.

About postpartum recovery:

29.            If you wake up drenched in sweat a week or two after giving birth, get excited about it. You’re sweating off those extra baby fluid pounds.

30.            Deal with your disappointment about things that went wrong with the birth and don’t let it steal the joy of birth from you.

31.            You are going to feel so overwhelmed with love – don’t try to harness it, just soak in it.

32.            Who cares about getting your tiny baby on a schedule from day one? Just snuggle, snuggle, snuggle and let him sleep on your chest as much as your little heart desires.

33.            Yes, the world really does want to see a bajillion photos of your baby on facebook – load ‘em up. (You’ll never feel so popular as when you’re the mom of an incredibly good-looking brand-new baby.)

34.            Tell hubs to stock up on Draino because at around four months post-partum you will begin to shed ungodly amounts of hair.

35.            Your c-section scar will still be numb six months after the surgery, and it will sometimes still feel itchy. Just deal with it and know it's now a badge of honor.

About breastfeeding:

36.            Breastfeeding will come easily and natural to you, so you have nothing to be nervous about, and just ignore all those horror stories.

37.            Breastfeeding will be one of the sweetest things you will ever do.

38.            Breastfeeding will sometimes feel like one of the most annoying things you ever do.

39.            Breastfeeding might sometimes feel like a competition with some inanimate object while you vie for your baby’s focus and attention.

40.            Breastfeeding will sometimes feel like one of the most time-consuming things you ever do. Hang in there, it changes before you know it.

41.            Breastfeeding will be one of the wisest things you do for your baby... for many reasons.

42.            Breastfeeding is the one thing only you can do with (and for) your baby. Remember to appreciate it.

About caring for your baby:

43.            If you keep your baby awake too long, he will never go to sleep easily. Don’t overestimate how much awake time a newborn can handle between naptimes.

44.            Don’t worry about changing your baby every time he spits up. You already have too much laundry to do.

45.            Never judge your baby’s clothes by the numbers on the tag. If you think that cutest-ever outfit for your baby is too big to pull out, do it anyway. It’s easier than you know to miss the “right size” window.

46.            When traveling on an airplane, don’t only pack a spare set of clothes for your baby – pack a spare shirt for yourself too.

47.            Use the TV to your advantage when cutting your baby’s fingernails.

48.            Don’t wake your sleeping baby unless you absolutely have too. Feeding schedules, shmeeding schedules. Let the baby sleep.

49.            When your baby is a newborn, take extra care to burp him after a feed. It’s worth the extra few minutes to avoid gassy baby melt-downs.

50.            If your baby is having a melt-down, drop everything and walk outside. It really does work every time.

51.            Four months is not too early to begin teething. If in doubt, just keep sticking your finger in there to check.

52.            Decide on a lullaby song for your baby so that every time you sing it they know to expect that it’s naptime/bedtime. (Just make sure that you like it, or make your own up.)

53.            Just because your baby sleeps through the night consistently at a few weeks old doesn’t mean they will continue as he gets older and hungrier. Just know that in advance.

54.            Traveling with babies is fun and adventurous and you often get to jump to the front of the line. Take advantage.

55.            Leave the diaper bag in the car unless you really, really need it. You have enough to carry around.

56.            Don’t wait too long to introduce the bottle – you under estimate just how much you baby really does love your boobs.

57.            There will be some diaper blowouts that are not worth trying to clean up outside of the bathtub.  We're talking a right, *hot mess*. That goes for both you and baby.

58.            Don’t be legalistic about waiting to start solids until six months old. Your baby will be so much happier if you start a bit earlier.

59.            It’s okay to pull your baby into bed with you sometimes when you’re just too tired to get up yet. Do what you want.

60.            There will be lots of times when the baby is crying and you don’t know why. That’s ok, babies cry. Just do your best.

61.            When introducing solids to your baby, strip him down to a diaper and bib, roll up your sleeves and put on goggles.

62.            Be prepared when you’re encouraging your child to learn to crawl. There’s no turning back.

About being a mom:

63.            Never judge a parent that is bribing their baby with food… there will be times when you end up doing it too.

64.            Be prepared for spontaneous mommy-tears when you have love-saturated-heart moments. (And don’t rush them – they are precious.)

65.            Although you already thought you were a responsible driver, you will start to drive even slower and even more cautiously. Just sayin.

66.            Congratulations, you will now forever be known as “so-and-so’s” mom.

67.            You will be tempted to spend more time making sure your baby looks cute than making sure you do. Keep it real, woman.

68.            Diaper bags are for carrying important things, like snacks for mommy.

69.            Your baby will sleep through the night sometimes… and when he does you will have insomnia.

70.            Even though you think you won’t be one of “those” parents who wants to buy their kid everything, you will come home with a big ridiculous Baby Einstein exersaucer. (And he will absolutely love it.)

71.            Be prepared to go through baby’s clothes every 3-4 weeks and pack up the too-small ones and pull out the bigger ones. (And be aware that you might get a little teary on occasion about how fast it's all going.)

72.            Even though it feels like a lot of work to think ahead and make double portions, it’s worth the effort to have homemade meals to pull out of the freezer instead of frozen pizzas on those nights. (Although frozen pizzas work too.)

73.            Write milestones down on a calendar if you’re not into doing a baby book – it’s a lot easier than scrolling back through all your facebook status updates to remember when baby learned new tricks.

74.            Make sure to regularly go through your photo files and delete 30% of the millions of photos you’re taking of sweet baby. (They really are more similar than you think.)

75.            Plan for “quick errands” to take twice as long as they used to.

76.            There will days when you want to return to work just so you can have a break.

77.            Being a stay-at-home-mom is the only job in the world that doesn’t come with coffee breaks, lunch breaks, weekends, holidays, or sick days. And there’s nothing you can do about it except to learn to roll with it.

78.            There will be days where you cry as much as your baby. This is normal. There will also be days when you cry more than your baby. This is also normal. 

79.            When your baby is going through a growth spurt, cut your to-list down to 25% and give yourself lots of grace when it comes to house work and errands. 

80.            You think hearing your baby say “mama” for the first time will melt your heart… It will, but know that it’s even more than that. It will also blow your mind and make you weak at the knees. (So basically it affects your whole body, it’s that good.)

81.            Different babies have different milestones at different times. Do your best not to compare.

82.            Weekly menu-planning has never been so important. I know it’s boring and not spontaneous, but it really does help.

83.            If you’re having one of those days where you feel discouraged because you’re getting nothing done, take 20 minutes to play with your baby without multi-tasking. It will instantly give you perspective.

84.            Take long moments to stare at your little wonder and drink in that baby goodness. They really do grow way too fast.

85.            Keep in mind that immunizations are harder for mommy than for baby.

86.            Find an on-line forum to join for encouragement and support.

87.            Your bookmarks bar will become overrun with parenting websites and forums… but save your other links too. After the first couple of months you’ll want them again.

88.            Always try to leave five minutes earlier than you need to. Then you will only be five minutes late to wherever you’re going (instead of ten) after you’ve changed the pooey diaper that inevitably happens when you’re walking out the door.

89.            Be prepared to wonder if you ever knew what love was before you had a child.

90.            Doing a load of laundry, folding it, and putting it away all within the same day will make you feel like wondermom. (Go ahead and congratulate yourself and tweet about it when you accomplish this.)

91.            Make feeding yourself as big a priority as feeding your baby. (That way everyone wins.)

92.            Don’t stress about baby-proofing. Your baby will help you when it’s time.

93.            Watching your husband be a daddy will make you fall in love with him even more. Relish it.

94.            Don’t wait too long before finding a mom’s group. It really is more fun than you’d expect.

95.            You might find yourself accidentally speaking in a higher pitch or saying things like “bye-bye” when talking to other adults. You’ll grow out of it as you get used to this gig, so just have fun making fun of yourself in the meantime.

96.            You will re-define “sleeping-in” to any time past 7:00am, and thankfully it will happen every once-and-a-while.

97.            Don’t put off buying a video baby monitor. Not only will it provide endless entertainment for your first few days of having it, but it will save you from playing the guessing game about naptimes.

98.            Be careful not to underestimate the small things. Starting your day with simple things like making the bed, having a shower, and eating breakfast will make the entire rest of your day better.

99.            Don’t get defensive when friends without children (especially single friends) ask you what you do all day at home. They honestly have no clue.

100.       Remember that you’re doing a great job. Being a mom brings out the best and the worst in you. Know that you are normal and try to learn from all of it.

And just for the record, there will be no second installment of this for my 200th post, though no doubt I have much more to learn.

Dear mommy-friends, what have I left out? {grin}

Linking up with:
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adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

so you think you're funny?

mommyhood memo #11: 
you know life has changed when… you're asking your five-month-old to please use his "inside voice" and wondering why he's not responding to your completely reasonable request.

AND, announcing this week’s winner…

Hanan from Lilac City Momma said:
“You know life has changed when… the only “date” in your vocabulary is playdates!”

Well, hopefully this isn’t the case… but I’m sure we can all relate! {Congratulations on being funny Hanan – heh heh.} Hanan got bonus points for the cute story and photo that went along with her entry. {grin} Please go and visit Hanan and tell her “well done”!

Honorable mentions this week go to Ros from A Little R & R and Morgan from The Little Hen House. You ladies are so funny!

If you want to link into this week’s mommyhood memo meme for your chance to be featured, here’s how:

1) Write a post with your own mommyhood memo one-liner beginning with: “You know your life has changed when…” Please keep it to one sentence! (Check out these examples for inspiration.)

2) Add the mommyhood memos button to your post:

The Mommyhood Memos
3) Link up your mommyhood memo post (not your blog home page) here anytime during the week while the linky is open so we can easily find your entry.

That’s it! No mandatory follows or comments… but please do visit as many other linked blogs as you can, and tell ‘em I sent you! And of course, feel free to encourage your readers to write their own mommyhood memo as well.

At the end of the week, we’ll choose a winner and you’ll be featured for the rest of the week at the top of my side bar!

So dear mommy-friends, let the memo-swapping begin!

{If you're happy and you know it, click right here: Vote For Us @ TopBabyBlogs.Com - A Top Baby Blog List By vote, vote!}

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Monday, July 26, 2010

do you have a bump or baby blog?

Are you on BlogFrog? I've recently joined BF and am amazed at the level of support and community I've found as I've become active there. (The two communities I frequent the most at the moment are the Ingenue Mom Community and the SITS Community.)

I'd highly recommend for anyone to join up and find a community or two that you really love. It's a great way to learn and to contribute to others who are learning too. And--from what I can tell so far--it's also a good way to increase traffic to your blog, which of course is a nice bonus! {grin}

As much fun as I'm having with BF already, I've decided I want more baby... Oh Baby!

In light of that I've formed a new community on BF called Oh Baby! to connect mamas who have baby and bump blogs... 'cause at this stage in life, I'm all about the wee little bubbies.

If you are a preggo mama or a mama with littlies (or you just really like babies and toddlers) then please come and join up! I'd love to get some good discussions going about practical every-day topics like feeding, cloth diapering, navigating growth spurts, and more.

So mommy-friends, come join in! Find some new bump and baby blogs to follow and add to the conversation!

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baby faves: bumbo baby seat {er... make that a 'bimbo'}

In my house, this little blue wonder is called the "bimbo". After five months of trying to teach my husband to say "bumbo" I finally gave up. He just can't get it. So... bimbo it is.

We started putting Levi in his bimbo at three months old. It was love-at-first-sit! This was weeks before he could sit up on his own, but he loved being able to sit up and check things out around him from a different vantage point other than laying on the floor on his back or tummy. (Or being on mommy or daddy's lap.)

He's now almost six months old and has been sitting up independently since four-and-a-half months old (not sure if the bimbo helped him to be an early sitter?). But even though he can sit up by himself, we still use the bimbo all the time, especially if we want to keep our little scooter contained in one place.

He sits in the bimbo on a chair right next to the shower so that I can pick up the toys that he constantly drops and give them back to him... we set it up in front of the computer so he can have skype dates with his grandparents without wriggling off to chase his ball... we use it to feed him his solids since he's still a bit dwarfed in the regular highchair... and the list goes on.

Overall this is a great product and has definitely made it on my must-have list of baby faves. Although I got mine from a generous Freecycler, it's well-worth the $35-$50 you would spend on it (or make that $85 if you are in Australia - yikes!). We also have the tray which you can buy separately. I don't put the tray in the "must-have" category, but it's certainly handy to have.

And lastly, I figure you can get a good four months use out of this little wonder, which is a relatively long time in baby life. I think we'll need to retire it around seven months since he's getting a bit rambunctious and will--I suspect--be ready to bust out of it within the month.

By the way, this is not a sponsored review, just a tip from one mommy to another. {grin}

Dear mommy-friends, what's your latest must-have baby fave?

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

so this is what it feels like to have someone call you 'mama'?

Today I reached a new high as a mom. My boy... my sweet little baby boy unmistakably said my name.

It's hard to imagine that this little boy:

has turned into this little boy in just under six months:

It feels like he just arrived... And yet it feels as if he's always been. {I'm so a mama in love, aren't I? *gush*}

During the last week I've noticed Levi starting to say "ma-ma-ma-ma". As fun as that is, it has definitely been random - just another sound to add to his growing little vocabulary along with: "blah blah", "da-da-da", "ga-ga-ga", and lots of other little baby chatter cuteness. I figured it would be a while before he would say  'mama' (or anything else) with any level of comprehension.

And besides, I was fully prepared for 'dada' to be his first "real" word. After all, we've been practicing.

In saying that, there were a few times during the last day or two that he said "ma-ma-ma" while looking at me... a bit differently... as if he knew.

I've wondered... {could it be?} but then quickly dismissed the thought not wanting to live in false hope.

But tonight was different.

My little teething boy was crying in daddy's arms, and--in a moment that will forever be burned into my memory--he looked over at me with longing in his eyes and arms outstretched and said, "ma-ma-ma-ma-ma".

Still hesitating a little in my heart to believe it (in case I was just projecting my hopes onto him), I took him in my arms and held him close.

Immediately he stopped crying.

Ryan and I looked at each other. "I think he just said my name," I murmured to Ryan, almost afraid to speak at full volume for fear of the burst of my bubble.

"He sure did," grinned Ryan. {Oh how sweet those three words of confirmation were!}

And since daddy is usually the one with the unfailing touch (unless it's boob time of course), I was even more shocked and surprised and in awe all mixed up together. My heart was melting in puddles all over the floor and my eyes were filling with 32 years worth of mama-in-waiting tears... Oh, the magic of that moment.

So this is what it feels like to have somebody call you 'mama'?

I never thought my name could sound so sweet. {Say it again dear baby boy.}

I like it. I really, really like it.

Dear mommy-friends, what are your most precious mommyhood moments... your mama highs thus far?

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