Wear sunscreen

I’ve been gone for an embarrassingly long blog hiatus, and there’s no real reason why. I have spent my “free” time doing other things; I read and occasionally work on projects, but mostly, I’ve been watching HGTV or old Lost episodes in my downtime. Very productive, eh?

Now that I’m back in the blogging saddle, I felt a bit of pressure about this post. After almost two months of silence, what should I write about? What do I have to say? One subject came to mind immediately and has stuck in my mind ever since.

Sunscreen.

A couple weeks back I noticed something strange. A spot on my chest didn’t look right, and it started to make me nervous. I’m a doctor-visiting kind of person, so within a week, I had seen my dermatologist and had a biopsy. Two weeks later, I got the letter – all clear! Collective sigh of relief at the Ray household, let me tell you.

Still, it got me to thinking. I know way too many people – young and not-so-young – who have had a skin cancer scare. Did you know that skin cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in children and young adults? They call it “a young person’s disease”. Scary, right?

Wear sunscreen, y’all… and hats and sunglasses! Be that person in long sleeves at the beach, especially if you’re fair-skinned. Get out of those tanning beds!  If you have little ones, protect them – keep them out of the sun whenever possible, especially between the hours of 10am and 4pm. Invest in high quality sunscreen (Need some help? Check out this list). Don’t let your babies get a sunburn; every sunburn you have before you’re 18 increases your risk of skin cancer.

Above all, check your skin. Know what’s normal and what’s not. If you have a question, see your doctor.

We do little things every day to keep ourselves and our family safe. Add this one to this list.

You’ve probably already seen the Dear 16 Year Old Me video, but if you haven’t, please check it out. I cry every time I watch it, no joke. It’s a moving reminder that little things, like putting on sunscreen and checking our skin weekly, can make a profound difference in our lives.

And while you’re at it, watch this video. Can you believe it’s been 13 years since “Wear Sunscreen” was all over the radio? It’s really great advice… and so true. What a difference a few years makes.

A quick word on the Naptime Chronicles

So, my daily battle with Vivi’s naptime continues. We seemed to turn the corner yesterday, but sadly, today is another story.

I tried a couple of things yesterday that I thought worked. First, I pushed Vivi’s awake time as long as I could – in the morning, 15 minutes longer than normal, and in the afternoon, almost an hour longer than normal. She was mega-grumpy, but I persevered and did everything I could to keep her awake and as happy as possible. Second, I kept a very close eye on her while nursing. The very moment I noticed her getting drowsy, I woke her up – no mini catnaps on my watch, y’all.

Lo and behold, she took two great naps yesterday! The first nap was almost two hours, and the second nap was an hour and half. That’s more than double the amount of daytime sleep she normally gets. You can only imagine the “happy dance” I was doing all over the house. (Actually, I’ll spare you – it wasn’t pretty, but it was oh so happy!)

I congratulated myself on solving the mystery, and I was ready to go again today. Sadly, it hasn’t quite worked out as I expected it would. I think the fly in the ointment has been an early wake-up that threw off the rest of the day. Vivi woke up an hour earlier than normal (6AM) and wanted to nurse. I fed her, and then she went back to sleep for two more hours. I guess I should think of that as a victory, but it feels less like a nap and more like an extension of her nighttime sleep.

Anyway, Vivi just wrapped up her first “real” nap. Again, I kept her awake as long as I could – about 30 minutes longer than usual. She fussed for about 15 minutes, then slept… blast, only 35 minutes! I let her stay in her crib for another 30 minutes just in case she’d go back to sleep, but no dice. I’m going to get her out now.

Wish me luck for a better afternoon nap!

You know you’re a parent when…

  • You have army-crawled out of a room to avoid someone seeing you leave.
  • You have caught someone’s spit-up/throw-up with your bare hands.
  • You leave voicemails to your spouse, asking about the status of a poopy diaper.
  • You don’t even notice the spit-up/sweet potato/snot dried on your shirt sleeve.
  • You pray that someone else will go to sleep. Just. go. to. sleep!
  • You read books about things that previously seemed straight-forward, like eating and sleeping.

Y’all have any to add?

What I learned. Sleep training: Part 3.

I’m not an expert by any means, but I did learn a few things along the way while sleep training Vivian. Here are a few of my tips for anyone starting a “progressive waiting” approach.

  • Make sure you are committed, but be flexible.
    • If you are going to sleep train your baby, make a plan, but remember that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with flexibilty. Change it up if something really isn’t working.
  • Get your significant other on board.
    • There’s nothing like having a partner to remind you that you aren’t cruel, that it’s all going to be okay,  and that your baby is OKAY!
  • Set aside time to sleep train.
    • If at all possible start on a weekend or take a little vacation time to devote to sleep training. The first three to four days can be especially brutal. Brad was with me on Day 1 and 2, but I really missed his support on Day 3 and 4 while he was at work.
  • Be prepared to listen to some crying.
    • Your little sugar will cry. Probably scream too. It’s horrible, especially if you’ve really only heard that level of crying a couple of times before, like during shots at the doctor’s office. I cried along with her. Seriously, Brad and I both looked like we were sucking lemons for the first two days.
  • Wait until your baby is old enough to handle it.
    • I can’t imagine sleep training before 5 months old, personally. I don’t think most babies are emotionally able to cope before that age, but let’s face facts: sometimes you just have to sleep train earlier. Maybe you are going back to work and desperately need sleep. Maybe your baby is cranky all day long because they aren’t getting good sleep. So I understand sleep training earlier, but I’m glad that I was able to wait until Vivi was 6 months old. I don’t regret nursing Vivi to sleep for the first 6 months, and honestly, if it still worked, I probably still be doing it, but that’s just me!
  • Stick with sleep training for at least 7 days!
    • If I had given up on the worst day (Day 4 for me), I would have missed out on several very successful days.
  • Don’t be afraid to modify.
    • I struggled with “following the rules” to the tee, but once I gave myself leeway to follow my gut, Vivi and I were both happier. Listen – your baby is special! No book can plan for your little sweetling’s personality and needs. If the approach doesn’t feel right, make tweaks and get it right for you and your baby.
  • Nurse to drowsy, not to sleep!
    • Ferber doesn’t recommend nursing to sleep, and I have to agree based on my experiences. When I nursed to “drowsy”, Vivi went down easily. When I nursed her until she was asleep, she woke up shocked and distressed when I put her down into the crib. I can relate- I would probably be distressed too if  I woke up in a different place than I fell asleep.
  • Keep living your life!
    • Don’t let sleep training make your home a prison. If you need to run an errand or want to grab lunch with a friend but it’s Baby’s naptime, go anyway. Life is short!
  • Offer extra snuggles during waking hours.
    • Crying is tough for both you and Baby! Offer snuggles while Baby is awake. I use the baby sling around the house more often now. I’m not saying you should overcompensate by holding your baby all day long – no need to feel guilty – but a little extra love while sleep training is sure to make both you and Baby feel better.
  • Have a baby that won’t sleep anywhere but your arms? Use the swing before you start Ferberizing!
    • Vivi loooooved to nap on me when she was younger. Around three or four months I started using the swing for naptimes, and it worked great! If you have a cuddler too, start by letting your baby nap in a swing for a few weeks. They will get used to falling asleep, albeit assisted, out of your arms. Once used to sleeping away from you, the transition to the crib is easier.

Anyway, I’m sure to learn more as this little journey continues. I hope what I’ve learned helps someone out there in BlogLand! Good luck!

Daily Play-by-Play. Sleep training: Part 2.

After realizing we were scrapping the bottom of our “go to sleep” bag of tricks, Brad and I had decided to use Ferber’s sleep training method with 6 month old Vivi. Here’s what went down.

We settled on a nighttime routine that included a bath, a nursing session, and lastly, a “Goodnight Moon” style wind-down.  After a mellow bath, I nurse Vivi until she either pulls away or starts to fall asleep. Then Brad, Vivi, and I all walk around the house and tell it goodnight: “goodnight kitchen, goodnight front door, goodnight books” etc. For me, the “Goodnight house” step is  the most important part of the routine because it’s something that anyone – Mommy, Daddy, grandparent, or otherwise – can duplicate at any time of the day. For example, I usually nurse Vivi before naps, but even if I don’t nurse her beforehand, I always do the “Goodnight house” step.

I also opted to give Vivi  her “lovey”, a little stuffed elephant with a 12×12″ blanket attached. [Since Vivi is 6 months and rolling easily both directions, I feel that she is safe with the lovey, but that’s a personal decison for every parent.] Brad and I kiss her goodnight, hand her the lovey, and turn on her mobile. The mobile plays music and lights for a few minutes then turns off automatically.

After we settle Vivi into her crib, we close her door, and the rest is up to her!

Day 1 re-cap: Napped 2 hours, Slept 10 hours, Cried 2.3 hours

This was probably a little backwards, but we started with her morning nap. Ideally, I think the first time using the technique would have been bedtime, but we figured since she was so tired from little sleep the night before, ferberizing during the first nap wouldn’t be too bad. Boy, were we wrong! The crying was rough. I mean, really rough! Vivi didn’t just cry, she screamed! To be honest, in her lifetime I’d never let her cry this hard, but we stuck it out. It was a huge relief to have Brad there with me for reassurance. I think I would have ended up in the fetal position otherwise. Also, quick note about naps – Ferber doesn’t recommend letting babies cry for more than 30 minutes before naptime, but because we knew Vivi was super tired from little sleep the night before (and because it was a first time sleep training), we pushed through until she fell asleep.

  • nap: cried 50, slept 30
  • plus: quick 20 minute cat nap in car
  • nap: cried 40, slept 45
  • nap: cried 28, slept 25
  • night: cried 20, slept 10 hours

Day 2 re-cap: Napped 2 hours, Slept 10.5 hours, Cried 1 hour

All in all, this day felt like a success. Vivi woke up well-rested in the morning, but she did seem a bit blue all day long. Brad and I both noticed her sad mood. This was, of course, disheartening. I was particularly concerned and began to wonder if the end justified the means. The 40 minutes of crying before bedtime was brutal! Brad shouldered most of that load while I scrubbed the shower in an effort to avoid hearing the crying. Upside: my bathroom has never been so clean!

  • plus: quick 20 minute cat nap in car
  • nap: cried 23, slept 40
  • nap: fussed 13, slept 40
  • plus: quick 20 minute cat nap in car
  • night: cried 40, slept 10.5 hours

Day 3 re-cap: Napped 3.6 hours, Slept 9 hours, Cried 54 minutes

This was an interesting day. The first nap felt like a dream; she never really cried! She just fussed a bit and then slept. The next two naps were harder. I especially struggled with the fact that she was crying for almost as long as she was sleeping. She woke up red-faced and cranky. My heart was hurting, and she just wasn’t her usual happy self. Vivi’s never been a great napper, always preferring to cat nap several times a day rather than sleep in a long stretch. Towards the end of the day, she fell asleep while nursing, and I cuddled her while she slept an amazing hour and a half! I’m sure that’s against the rules, but I honestly didn’t care. Bedtime was a breeze – just 4 minutes of crying, and we had a sleeping baby. This gave me a little reassurance that we were doing the right thing.

  • nap: fussed 13, slept 45
  • nap: cried 20, slept 48
  • nap: cried 17, slept 35
  • plus: 1.5 hour nap in my lap!
  • night: cried 4, slept ~9 hours

Day 4 re-cap: Napped 1.5 hours, Slept 9 hours, Cried 52 minutes

This was my challenge day. I remember around 2:00 I called Brad and asked him when he would be home. I hadn’t felt that discouraged as a parent in a very long time. Vivi cried hard during all of her CIO sessions, and I was so stressed by bedtime. Honestly, the stress of hearing Vivi cry had really taken a toll on me. I felt like I had less patience than normal, and the waking hours weren’t as happy as usual. Luckily, I can now look back on this day as a turning point! I think Day 4’s issue was twofold: Vivi had an earlier than usual morning wake-up, and I probably pushed naps too much. Pushing a “every two hour” nap schedule just created more stress for both of us. At the end of the day, I decided to relax and loosen up, and I gave myself the leeway to use rocking and nursing when I thought it would help ease her into a relaxed drowsy state.

  • extension of night sleep: woke up earlier than usual, nursed, then stayed asleep when I put her back down in the crib. Slept another 1.75 hours
  • plus: quick 20 minute cat nap in car
  • nap: cried full 30 minutes so I ended the nap
  • nap: nursed her to sleep, she woke when put in crib, cried 5 minutes, slept 25
  • nap: nursed her to sleep, she woke when put in crib, cried 2 minutes, started playing… I eventually got her up.
  • nap: cried 3, slept 47
  • night: cried 12 (woke up briefly after sleeping 55 min, soothed herself then woke again at 1hr 7min, again at 1hr25 min – got her up and nursed her back to sleep), slept 9 hours

Day 5 re-cap: Napped 2 hours, Slept 10 hours, Cried 51 minutes

This is really when I started getting the hang of meshing crying with my usual touchy-feely approach. I started nursing her to a relaxed state before putting her in her crib. She was relaxed and happy – no stress getting into the crib! I also stopped naps if she was acting super upset, especially if it was a third nap of the day. If she was screaming, I ended the nap. Vivi and I both were much happier with this more lenient approach!

  • nap: 27 min of talking or mild fussing but no crying, slept 25
  • nap: fussed 4, slept 1.75hr
  • nap: got her out after 15 minutes of crying
  • night: cried 5, slept 10 hours

Day 6 re-cap: Napped 2.5 hours, Slept 10 hours, Cried 15 minutes

By today, I was absolutely on the “sleep training works” bandwagon! Vivi went down for a nap and to bed with nary a sound. She actually smiled at me when I put her in her crib and rolled over to her side to fall asleep. It was like a dream! Sadly, every time I put her down isn’t that easy, but it can happen!

  • nap: didn’t make a sound! slept 1.5 hours
  • plus: quick 25 minute cat nap in car
  • nap: cried 15, slept 30
  • night: didn’t make a sound! slept 10 hours

Day 7 re-cap: Napped 1.5 hours, Slept 10 hours, Cried 12 minutes

A totally different kind of day… we were go, go, go all day with limited opportunities for her to nap in her own crib. She ended up falling asleep in her carseat at the restaurant while I lunched with some friends. I was impressed that she was able to relax in a loud, interesting public place like that (with just a little help from Mommy, who rocked her carseat until she fell asleep). Nighttime was tough, but I wasn’t surprised – the poor darling was overtired. A super tired baby does the opposite of what you’d expect: instead of falling right to sleep, they fight sleep like crazy! When I put Vivi down for bed, she screamed so loud that I decided to “restart”. I got her out of bed, rocked her, nursed her…  and she seemed calm, we did the end of our nighttime routine again.

  • plus: 40 min nap in restaurant/car
  • nap: played for 20, slept 40
  • night: “restarted” when she was really upset, then cried 12, slept 10 hours

So, in the end, I do feel that this sleep training approach was very successful for us. Vivi is sleeping in her crib, and bedtime is no longer a struggle. Naps are still difficult, but I’ve decided to follow the beat of my own drummer. If I think a nap in the swing would yield better rest for her than a crying session in her crib, I go that route. If I just want to snuggle her while she naps in my lap, I indulge myself. If her cry is hurting my heart, I get her up. I was originally concerned that allowing her to nap elsewhere would hurt our nighttime efforts, but I’m happy to report, none of those things hurt her ability to go to bed at night.

I’ve definitely learned quite a bit along the way. Interested in my tips? Check out Part 3.

Forgetting the book

My unintended blog hiatus has gone on far too long, but lately I’ve been having a hard time finding even five minutes to write a post.

Vivi’s struggles with napping continues. Today, for example, she woke up at 7AM and nursed, and then I changed out of her diaper and jammies. We played with toys on the floor, sang songs, and read a few books in her room. Around 9:30, she nursed again and started to doze. I attempted to sneak her sleeping self back into her bouncy in her room, but she woke up as soon as I put her down. Somedays, I’ll let her fuss in the bouncy for a little while in the hopes she’ll go back to sleep, but that has yet to work in the daytime. Believe me, I’ve done the fuss-then-soothe, fuss-then-soothe routine during the day so many times, and it never results in sleep when she’s in her bouncy – no matter how long I try to wait her out. If anything, it results in a more tired (and angry) baby because she refuses to let go and then gets really worked up. So, if Vivi wakes after I try to transfer her into the bouncy, I’ll let her talk or fuss for 5-10 minutes, then I’ll pick her up.

Then we begin in earnest my least favorite part of the day, which I affectionately call the “morning nap dance”. I change Vivi’s diaper, nurse her, and then put her down in the swing. I know she has a full tummy and a dry bottom, so if she fusses, I don’t get her out right away. Usually, I’ll let her fuss for only around 10-15 minutes, occassionally walking by to soothe her with a calm voice but not picking her up. If the fuss turns into a full-fledged cry, I get her out almost immediately; I just can’t stomach the “crying so hard I can’t breathe” cry.

Yesterday Vivi talked and fussed for a full hour before she finally went to sleep in the swing (and thank heavens, she slept over an hour – it hardly seems worth it if she only sleeps 30 minutes). I typically wouldn’t leave her fussing for so long, but she was mostly “talking” in a happy sounding voice, so I didn’t bother her.

That’s the thing about the “morning nap dance”: it’s always unpredictable. Rarely, Vivi will quietly slip off into sleep; somedays, she’ll fuss and then drift off to sleep. Mostly, she fusses then begins to cry in earnest until I pick her up.

What’s so confusing to me about napping is that Vivi will fall asleep while nursing, so I assume she’s tired, though she really doesn’t give any other signs of being tired in the mornings. The thing is, when she falls asleep while nursing, it’s really just a light doze – she’s not fully asleep, and when I try to put her down to nap, she seems to be (loudly) telling me that she’s not actually tired.

Back to today… I tried the swing at 10:00. She fussed until 10:15 then started crying, so I got her out. Diaper change. Nursing. Diaper change again. Back to the swing… Vivi cries almost immediately this time, but I give her 10 minutes to try to work through it. Finally, it’s 11:25 – more than an hour after I first tried this failed napping experiment. I decide to concede for a little while and let her play. She smiles at me, laughs when I tickle her tummy, then rolls onto her belly to play with her toys. This does not seem to be a tired baby! She’s not rubbing her eyes; she’s not yawning. She’s happy and not the least bit fussy… unless I try to coerce her into sleep.

Which leads me to the question: is my girl a one-nap baby? The afternoon nap usually goes better… Vivi seems geniunely tired, and though she may protest (i.e. fuss and cry), it rarely if ever takes more than one or two tries to get her to sleep.

My mom gave me a great piece of advice the other day. “The books say I shouldn’t nurse her to sleep, that she should learn to self soothe, that she should be taking 2-3 naps a day…” I said, 100% stressed. “I feel like I’m failing!”

My mom listened to my worries and then wisely pointed out, “when does life ever go by the book?”

How true. Sure, you can read every book there is on sleep, follow other people’s advice on what worked for their baby, and stress about how your child may never sleep (or eat or play or what-have-you) according to the “rule”… but the ultimate truth is this: your baby is an individual. You are an individual. What works for another mom and baby may not work for you – and that doesn’t mean you’re right and they’re wrong – or vice versa.

I try so hard to live “by the book” – to do the “right” thing – and at some point, I just have to stop, take a deep breathe, and remind myself: there is no “right”, there is no “perfect”. Is your baby happy? Is your baby healthy? Yes? GOOD! That’s what matters.

In the end, Vivi played for an hour, then she went to sleep easily with nary a word sound of complaint. Somedays you just have to step back and go with the flow – “the book” can wait.

As they say, patience is a virtue.

Almost as much as I want to be a loving parent, I want to be a patient parent.

In a way, I think they are often one and the same. It takes a lot of love to hold in a groan when your exhausted child won’t fall asleep or spits up again or bites you because they are teething.

I’m not saying that you love them any less if you do lose your cool, but for me, patience is a virtue that is hard won.

Ever since Vivi was born, I’ve found that I have so much more patience than I ever knew I had before. Sure, some of this newfound patience is because Vivian is just so darn easy to love, but mostly it’s because I work at it. I work hard at it. I actively remind myself that losing my cool won’t help, that she doesn’t understand frustration, that I can easily laugh off just about anything.

There’s another big keeping-my-cool factor for me: being a stay-at-home mom. Before Vivi, I was pretty much a workaholic, and my days were long. By the end of most work days I was completely wiped out. I used to marvel at people who went out for drinks or dinner on a “school night”. I didn’t have the energy to do much of anything when my work day ended. I just wanted to zone out on the couch.

I would joke and tell Brad, “I used up all of my good will at work today”, but most days it was less a joke and more a fact. My patience was stretched thin, and I was irritable and sullen. I didn’t like that me, but I had a really hard time balancing. People would tell me to “just do what you need to get by at work… don’t take it so seriously”. That’s just not me. You can’t put the proverbial carrot in front of me and expect me not to chase it. Let’s be frank: I want to do the job right, and if possible, do it better than everyone else, all the while trying to be likeable. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

It’s not possible to be perfect. Not everyone will like you. I know these things to be true, but I push, push, push myself to be more, to be better.

The decision to leave my outside-of-the-home job was a tough one. Despite my work/life balance struggles, I really did love most facets of my job. In my heart, however, I knew I wouldn’t be the parent I wanted to be if I kept working. I couldn’t be half of one and half of another; something was going to get less of the better version of me, and I sincerely worried it would be the family half of the equation.

So many people work and are wonderful parents. They do their job well, go home with a smile, get dinner on the table, and even squeeze in quality time before the kids go to bed. I have the highest praise for those people – especially the ones who do it because they have no other choice. The ones who want to cry but keep right on smiling… the ones who are exhausted but let their little one read one more story. Those are parents that I strive to be like.

Every day I count my blessings that I am able to stay at home with Vivian. Every little sacrifice along the way is worth being here with her – not just being here but the best version of me being here.

A few days ago Brad wrote a guest post on the blog, and he said something to the effect of “I’m made of patience”. Little did he know, I’d started this post a few days before but hadn’t yet finished it. That simple statement… “made of patience”… made me cry. It was the best compliment he could have given me.

Mother’s Day guest post!

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Vivian Ray here, just wanted to do a little guest post in honor of the Best Mom In The Whole World (BMITWW). I’m pretty new at this whole blogging thing (being 4.5 months old doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for social media) and my typing skills aren’t great (small hands). But with a little help from Dad we’ll get through this.

First things first…Mother’s Day. What a great day! Is there anyone more deserving of some love and attention than moms? I don’t know many other moms, but mine is pretty awesome. Without her I’m pretty sure Dad would be as lost as lost gets. I mean, seriously, is there anything my Mommy can’t do? Sometimes I test her by crying, or being fussy, or acting like I want one thing when I really want another, but she always comes through. It’s like she’s made entirely of patience! She just sits and talks to me and figures out what’s wrong and then fixes it! She’s like a saint. And then there’s the diapers….so…many…diapers! Oh and who can forget the breastmilk. I know my Mom posted on the nursing already, but let me just say the milk, it tastes excellent. Must be all the M&M’s :).

And to add to all that, she’s pretty great to Dad too. He’s kind of lazy, you know, but she puts up with him day and night. She’s even sweet to him every now and then, though if you ask me he doesn’t deserve it. You’d think taking care of a little bundle of joy like me would be hard enough! But she keeps this place clean and tidy, and keeps us all in clean clothes. It’s amazing! I don’tk now if there’s anything that my Mama can’t do.

Of course it’s Mother’s Day, and I realize that my Mama (and Daddy too) are great because of a few other folks. So here I’d like to give a big shout out (that’s what kids today are saying, right?) to a couple of other awesome moms. My Nana is my Mom’s mom, so she’s mostly responsible for how awesome my Mom is. Which means she’s pretty awesome too!  She’s great at being a mom and helping my Mama out, AND she’s handier than Dad too. Then there’s my Didi, my Dad’s mom. Daddy says she’s pretty special. She’s been his number one fan as long as he can remember, even when he was a teenager and stuff. It must have been pretty hard, but Didi made Daddy super sweet and she’s really great. I’m so lucky that my Daddy has two mama’s, because I also have my Kay-Kay! She’s really fun and vivacious, and she keeps my Grumpy-Grampy on his toes.

Speaking of mothers, Daddy did want me to give a special mention to my Aunt Laura (Aunt Sister? Dad calls her Sister and Mom calls her Laura, it’s SO confusing for a little sweetie like me!). She was like a third mom to Dad when he was a little kid. It can’t have been easy to be a teenager with an annoying baby brother, but she kept on keepin’ on, and it’s because of her that my Daddy uses soap these days (sometimes).

Okay, it’s super late and I have a busy day of eating, playing, and MAYBE napping (if I’m feeling generous). But I just want to say Happy Mother’s Day to all you special ladies out there, and most of all to the BMITWW. Momma, you are the greatest, most loving and nurturing Mama around and Daddy and I are both lucky to have you. We love you!