Remembering Eleanor

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


My thoughts are not my own today.  Today a little girl is very much on my mind.  It is her second birthday, and I wish... oh how I wish I could wish her Happy Birthday in person.  Her name is Eleanor.  She is the daughter of my friends Dan and Amanda.  She was born twelve hours before Ladybug, and they were to be very good friends.  Eleanor passed away shortly after she was born.  She is no longer with us, but she is remembered, and she is loved.

She is loved.  It's not that she was loved.  I hate how when someone passes away you're supposed to say that you "loved" them, not that you "love" them.  You don't stop loving someone because they're no longer with you.  Love doesn't stop when a heartbeat stills.  Love isn't past tense.

Forever in my mind, I will remember seeing her precious, perfect feet in ultrasound pictures, and her sweet profile.  We will always wonder "what if?" and miss her.  I often look at Ladybug and think of what a mess they would be, playing together, learning to walk and run together, dancing together, discovering the world together, and doing the things two girls born so closely together would do.

There's an awesome birthday party going on today in Heaven.  Here on earth whenever those of us who love her see an elephant or a purple balloon, a butterfly, or even a perfect sunrise or sunset, we'll take a moment and think of Eleanor Lee.

Sweet girl, your time here was far too short for us, but your mark is forever left on our hearts.

Rainy Day Randomosity

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I think Ladybug and I really needed today's rainy, cool weather to just stay inside and be.  It seems our days have been filled with some activity or craziness for far too long, and we kind of need to slowly melt into our winter groove.  Yet, I'm not entirely sure what our winter groove will be.  We're going to have to find some sort of activity for the cold months to get out of the house for some fun at least once a week!

We had a yard sale Saturday.  Bart's parents came up with a truckload of stuff, and we attempted to rid ourselves of several things that were more or less just taking up space.  I sold a couple of L's baby things, but the treasure-trove of baby clothes, play-things, and such was largely untouched.  I'm just not ready to part with any of it yet.  I still hope for one more sweet baby before I'm ready for them to go to other families.  I did sell my bike.  I didn't intend to, it just happened.  Now I'm trying to decide what I want to get to replace it.  I will get another soon, because that is how I exercise, and it has become an integral part of my life.

We went to Dickey Farms to find this year's pumpkins Sunday.  We took L to Farmland Adventures a few weeks ago, but we loved Dickey Farms so much last year that we went back there to actually pick pumpkins.  I hope it's a tradition we can continue for years to come.  I think we all look forward to it - at least those of us who remember it.


Bart picked a couple of odd-looking gourds.  I call this one Jimmy.  You in the know about VeggieTales get it.



I need to go back through all of my blog posts and clean up my labels.  This is not something I look forward to doing.  It may take until Doomsday, but I will do it.

I'm thinking of writing a children's book or series based on Dory, her abandonment, her rescue, our adoption of her, and several other moments in her life that I think would be great material.  Of course I have no artistic skills, so if this does come about I will be looking for and illustrator eventually.

We're really starting to plan Christmas gifts, and I'm even trying to start planning L's birthday now, because once the holidays hit, her birthday just comes too quickly for a party procrastinator like myself. I think this year we'll just invite a handful of her friends and her cousin who may actually be in state then.  I also wouldn't be surprised if it had an A League Of Their Own theme, so she can use her Halloween costume again.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  In some respects, I feel that this deserves its own post.  Ladybug should have a three-year-old brother or sister that we lost at eight weeks in January 2010.  There's a quote I remember from Grey's Anatomy that Cristina told George when his dad died: 
CRISTINA: "There's a club. The Dead Dads Club. And you can't be in it until you're in it. You can try to understand, you can sympathize. But until you feel that loss... My dad died when I was nine. George, I'm really sorry you had to join the club."
GEORGE: "I... I don't know how to exist in a world where my dad doesn't."
CRISTINA: "Yeah, that never really changes."
That's how I feel about both the loss of a parent and also the loss of a child.  People can try to understand and sympathize, but until you feel that loss you just can't.  I hate that anyone has to know that kind of loss.  A part of your heart always has a hole in it.  I'm very thankful for my life that I have, but I will always wonder what he would have been like.  I wrote a letter to him last year around his due date.  I think of him every day.  I'll know him someday though, and I am so very thankful for that.

I Wish...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

  • I wish my dad could have heard me play saxophone.
  • I wish he could have taught me how to drive.
  • I wish he could have seen me graduate anything:  junior high,  high school, college.
  • I wish we cold have discussed things like politics, religion, football, dogs, music, literature, and everything as two adults.
  • I wish he could have met Bart.
  • I wish he could have walked me down the aisle when we got married almost ten years ago.
  • I wish I could have heard his opinion on our house before we bought it.
  • I wish he could have known Ladybug, and that she and I both could have known him.
  • I wish we could play another game of Super Mario Bros. together.
  • I wish he could have known about iPhones and iPads and all the cool gadgets that didn't exist a quarter of a century ago, because that's where I get my gadget-whoriness.  

It has been twenty-three years today since I had any type of conversation with my Dad.   It's been twenty-three years this evening since he passed away suddenly of a heart attack.  It's been twenty-three years today since a huge piece of my innocence was stripped away from me at the age of ten.  I wish a great many things and wonder countless "what if's".  However, I realize that God has put me in the path he has for reasons I'll never fully understand until I'm in Heaven.  I'm very thankful for the life I have, but still sometimes I wish...  At least I know that I'll see him again some day.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.” - John 14:1-4 ESV

A Year of Adjustment

Friday, November 16, 2012

Today is Day 5 of the Arkansas Women Bloggers ThanksBlogging Challenge.  Although it isn't visible here, I participated yesterday by linking my blog's Facebook page to a Linky list on the AWB page.  I was going to write a post yesterday afternoon about that and about how nice it is just to enjoy the quiet for a bit while Ladybug took what should have been a nice, long nap.  Then my neighbor rang my doorbell, asking if I would like him to mulch the leaves from his tree that blew into our yard, setting off Thing 1 and Thing 2.  The quiet did not last long at all, and the Ladybug awoke very early.  Once she was finally bathed and asleep in her bed last night, I managed to watch Grey's Anatomy on the DVR then B called from Minneapolis and was very chatty.  Never count on a little quiet time.  Anyway, you should totally visit the AWB page and learn about all the great blogs there.  If you're from Arkansas in any way and have a blog, you should join!  It's an awesome resource!

Today's ThanksBlogging Challenge is a Foodie Friday type of thing, so I'm going to pass on today.  There's something else I would rather post about anyway.  Today (actually Sunday, but I left on a Friday) is the one-year anniversary of my last day at work.  What a year it has been.

I left my job while there was still so much time left in my pregnancy for several reasons.  The most important reason was that every year after Thanksgiving, the cold/ flu/ plague would descend upon the TV station.  Some years I caught it, some years I didn't, but I wasn't taking a chance last year.

I miss it... some.  I miss the people I worked with and seeing them every day.  There are often complaints about how up in everyone's business people can be there, but in reality it's just another family.  When you leave on good terms after several years, you miss your family, even though you're very happy where you are.  I keep the card that everyone signed when I left with Ladybug's baby book.  Thankfully the world is smaller now, and we can keep in touch so much easier than in the past.

If you asked me what I did those 11 weeks from when I left work until the Monday morning when Ladybug was born, I couldn't really tell you.  I think that I have that wonderful selective pregnancy amnesia that most mothers must have in order to want to have another child.  I remember that with Thanksgiving, our wedding anniversary/ Christmas, the New Year, and just preparing everything for Ladybug's arrival it went by incredibly quickly.

I sort of remember Thanksgiving.  That's when Capt. B and Aunt J announced to us that they were expecting Pistol.  I remember making out Christmas cards while B was working out of town one random day.  I remember going to B's work Christmas party.  I remember having my 32 week appointment on our eighth wedding anniversary, sort of seeing a very big Ladybug in the ultrasound, and scheduling my C-section that day before watching The Muppets that night.  Then it was Christmas a few days later.  The rest is a blur, and everything seems to exist on a Before Ladybug and After Ladybug timeline.

After Ladybug was born there was of course a great deal of adjusting our lives.  You learn quickly with a baby that almost just as soon as you're used to a certain routine and way of doing things, you have to adjust them again.  With every milestone you have to adjust everything you do.  Once you get used to the baby's sleep schedule, she'll start sleeping less during the day.  The less she sleeps, the more she wants/ needs to be played with and stimulated.  Then it's time to start adding solid foods to her diet.  Then she can sit up on her own and things seem easier for a bit.  Then she's teething.  Then she's crawling, and suddenly you need to shower before she awakens in the morning, because she has a habit of falling on the tile of the bathroom while playing.

Not to get too personal, but today I was trying to go to the bathroom while Ladybug was pulling up on my legs.  Pretty soon, she's going to ask me what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and possibly how I'm doing it.  Privacy is pretty much nonexistent.  That takes a huge adjustment.

In the past year I've also become much softer.  In some ways I think the process started a few years ago with my first pregnancy.  However, Ladybug and I were listening to Christmas music in the car today because 1). I like it, and 2). it's a nice change from the Hot Dog Song, and I started crying.  Suddenly I was the woman pulling out of the drive-thru at Taco Bueno, blubbering while Steven Curtis Chapman sang "Christmas Is All In the Heart.  I thought that I was going to have to pull over in the NWA Mall parking lot for a bit and collect myself!  The softness is okay though, because everything that has happened in the past year has filed away at my rougher edges a great deal.

This past year has been one of the best in my life, and yet also one of the most painful.  You can't explain to someone the immense joy, relief, and gratitude that washes over you when your child is born healthy.  Meanwhile at the same time you're grieving so deeply for a friend who should be experiencing the exact same thing at the exact same time as you but instead is going through the worst pain imaginable.  You're grieving also for the friend your daughter never got to meet here on Earth.  Then some months later, to lose one of your former coworkers who was your age and had to leave his wife and little girl not much older than your own...  Words just can't...

It's been the best of years, it's been the worst of years, but mostly the best of years.  It's been an age of growing up and growing inwardly.  It's been a time of joy and a year of tears.  It's been a season of change and of adjustment.  In short, it's been quite a year, and I get to hang out with this crazy kid all the time.

A Loss

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I said a prayer this morning, thanking God for safely bringing B home from Chicago yesterday.  Every time he goes out that door, I pray that God protects him, and keeps our family safe.  Not an hour later, I was playing in the living room floor with Firecracker when a Breaking News Alert from my old place of works's iPad App sounded.  Last night, my friend Matt  who is my age, has a wife and a little girl two months older than Firecracker, passed away in a car accident on I-30, near Bryant.

To most people, he was the guy who did the news here for years and just moved to Little Rock to anchor at the CBS affiliate there.  To me, he's the guy who was always having me cinch up his suit coat with binder clips, one of the guys who would ask which tie to wear on certain days, and quite honestly was known for having "words" with more than one viewer who came to cause problems when the rest of us didn't feel safe.  He was a friend.

I remember when he made the move from weekend sports to evening anchor, and how his mom bought him a new suit to wear.  He was close to his mom, especially after having lost his dad to leukemia.  I remember the weekend he got married.  It snowed, and most of his coworkers couldn't make it to Arkadelphia for having to cover the weather. - not to mention it was rather difficult to get down the mountains.  I remember early in the spring of 2011 when he told me that the IVF worked, and they were expecting Preslee and how proud he was of that baby girl.  She was so wanted, so loved by him.  Thank goodness for gobs of archival footage that she can watch and see how he loved her.

So now, as I watch Firecracker nap, my heart breaks for the little girl who is not yet a year old, and has lost her Daddy.  I think about Julee, who now has to figure out how to raise that little girl without Matt. We're all sad and at a loss right now, but pray for Matt's family.  Our lives will go on, but their world, their lives will never be the same again.  Pray that God give them a comfort only He can give, because despite all the well wishes and platitudes we say, that's the only real comfort they'll receive for a very long time.

Former KNWA Anchor Matt Turner Dies in Car Accident

To My Unnamed Child

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dear Little One,
Today or a day very near this one, you would have been two years old. It's hard to imagine that we could have a toddler running about, that we could be trying to potty-train you, and that you would probably try to be helpful with your little sister.
I don't know if you are a boy or a girl. You went away from us too early to know. We hadn't even grown used to the idea of you yet, and then you were gone. You did exist though, I know it. On two different occasions I saw your little heart beating via ultrasound. I have pictures somewhere, filed away to prove it.
Some, at the point in which we lost you, would say that you weren't a person - just a clump of cells, but that isn't true. I saw your heart beating. I couldn't feel you move yet, but I was aware that you were there, and I just remember the horrible emptiness I felt once you were gone -how your dad and I really already knew you were gone before we saw that empty ultrasound.
Your dad and I talk about you more now that we have Firecracker. She didn't replace you, but her being here does make it easier. I've learned that talking about you is good. Even though over two years have passed since we lost you, I've started attending a grief share group with a friend, and even now it still helps to talk with others who have similar experiences.
We're taught to hide early pregnancy to make it easier if miscarriage happens. The problem with that is that when that happens, few people talk with you about your loss. I don't know how many times people didn't tell me things I wanted to know about, because they thought they were protecting me. People withholding their good news for fear of hurting me only hurt more in the long run.
Since we lost you, I had to make some changes in my life. I had to decide to go after what I wanted, which was and is a family with children, rather than just allow life to happen. I had to cut off unhealthy relationships, some very close, because I realized that I was never going to have my own family and really life I was too busy being sucked dry by others. I stopped taking (pardon my language) crap from anyone, especially those closest to me. I finished growing up when I lost you. I lost what was left of my innocence along with you that bitter, cold January.
I have had this dream since at least high school of a particular Christmas morning. I always loved Christmas as a kid. I loved the magical, warmness of Christmas. Then your grand-dad died when I was ten. Christmas suddenly became a holiday about wanting and trying and never obtaining. When I was younger, I thought possibly it was because I wanted certain gifts, didn't get them, and had to live with disappointment. As I grew older, I realized that I didn't want things, I wanted that warm, magical feeling of when my family was whole. Then the dream started.
There was this dream of Christmas morning with a happy husband and two tow-headed kids running down the stairs to see what was under the tree. Three years ago at Christmas, I thought that dream was coming true, because I had you. Then you were gone, and Christmas suddenly became that much harder. Even last year when your sister was on her way, it was still so difficult at times. I'll never be able to listen to "Silent Night" without thinking of you. This year will be easier and happier, because your sister is here, but knowing that dream could have come true this year.... Knowing that you're not with us will always be with me.
As your sister reaches milestones, I can't help but wonder how you would be the same and also different. Would you have blue eyes too? Would you also have reddish-blond hair that sticks up straight no matter how much we brush it? Would you be a squealer like your sister or maybe a chuckler? Would your first word have been, "Momma?" Your sister's is "Da Da." Would you like carrots and squash too? Would you spend your days chasing Lucy and Dory? Would Mickey Mouse Clubhouse be your favorite TV show also, or would you prefer something more like Jake and the Neverland Pirates?
By now, you would probably be talking nonstop, asking millions of questions daily, reciting stories from memory, and just being a crazy, crazy kid. I wish I could read you a story and sing silly songs with you. Time is both my friend and enemy in regard to missing you.  The pain hurts a little less with time, but every day, every week, month, season, year that passes since you were here with us carries us further apart the emptiness of your not being here is sometimes more evident.  It was difficult accepting that time could and would go on without you here.
I wish that I could hold you, hug you, kiss your sweet head, and let you hear how very much I love you - will always love you. I miss you, dear Little One, but I know you're in a wonderful place and will never know pain or sorrow. Someday, I'll meet you there. We'll know each other, and it will be like no time has passed at all. You will always be my first baby. You will always be in my heart - the child of my heart.

I love and miss you Little One,



Mom




Beyond Our Understanding Part Two: The Things Unseen

Thursday, July 19, 2012

On a Friday morning, not so long ago, Firecracker and I met a lifelong friend of mine and her little girl who is a few weeks younger than Firecracker at a Chick-Fil-A for breakfast and catching up together.  I don't know why we've never done it before, because we've both lived in the area for years, but this was the first time we had gotten together in ages.  I guess having two girls the same age and wanting them to be friends like we were was the best incentive to finally do it.

While together, we did what most new moms do and old friends so.  We gossiped some about things back home.  Then we talked about our pregnancies, how we found out we were pregnant, and also how we both had suffered miscarriages:  she had two, I had one.  In discussing all of the above, she told me an interesting story.

One night around a year ago, her then two-year-old son, we'll call him Little Precocious One, was saying his prayers before bed.  Like any child who is taught about God and how to pray, he prayed for his Mom and Dad, all of his grandparents, the family's pets, and his baby sister.  The thing is, he didn't have a baby sister that anyone knew of yet.

My friend asked Little Precocious One what he meant by his baby sister.

"My baby sister that's in your tummy," he told her with all the innocence that only a small child contains.  Then he said he had a baby sister in her tummy and he also had a brother and a sister in Heaven.

Needless to say, she was astonished that he knew about the two miscarriages.  Even more amazing was when she sent her husband out for a pregnancy test, and she took it, it was positive.  Little Precocious One knew that she was pregnant before she did!  He even knew it was a baby sister, and they didn't find out the gender until her birth.

I don't know how he knew these things, but he knew them with the childlike faith Jesus talks about in the Bible.  We, as jaded adults marred by sin, could never just know these things.  We would have to question them, and most of you reading this probably are questioning them, writing it off as childish fantasies.  We don't allow ourselves to have that kind of faith, and we don't allow God to talk to us the way He can with children.  We certainly don't stop over thinking everything to stop and listen.

I believe that God speaks to children in ways He can't with us, because we don't allow Him to do so.  Our sins, our skepticism, our believing we always know right is a barrier blocking that intimacy with Him.  It makes me think of when God spoke to Samuel when he was still but a child.

Once again, I must bring up one of my favorite Bible verses, Hebrews 11:1  "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen."  The faith of a child is the only faith strong and innocent enough to just believe enough to have that kind of knowledge and intimacy with God.

Hearing Little Precocious One's story did assure me of hope and of what I already knew.  Heaven is a real place, and our little Glory Babies are there waiting on us.  I think about that book, "Heaven Is For Real" and though I wonder how much adults have added to the story to sell books, I know that little boy was in Heaven with Jesus, that he met his miscarried sister, and the great- grandfather who died 30 years before he was born.

Just because we can't always wrap our heads around something completely, doesn't mean that it isn't real.  When life seems like nothing but heartache and turmoil, know that Heaven is real.  Be assured of the things unseen.  Take joy in them, and thank God for sweet innocents like Little Precocious One, who give us a glimpse into things beyond our understanding.

I don't pretend to know what God's plan is, and why some things happen.  I do know that He does have a plan for all our lives.  The things we experience, the fires we must walk through, they prepare us to help someone else.  It's always a chain of events, hopefully making those of us still on Earth better people and helping lead others to the Lord.

I want to share one final thought as well.  We mourn the time we don't get to spend with those we've lost, both young and old.  Yet, what we don't think about is how short a time it really is compared to spending all of eternity together in Heaven.  I may be sitting in my earthly home right now, where my comfy bed and couch are, but my real home is Heaven.  I just have loved ones making it especially homey for me.  I'll be happy getting glimpses of it from those who are innocent and faithful enough to see it when I can't.


Beyond Our Understanding Part One: Glory Babies

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


This is a repost of one of the last posts on my old, now defunct blog.  It's from March 28 of this year, and I'm sharing it with you today because it ties in with a post I hope to have ready tomorrow and also one that I'll be posting near Labor Day.


Today is the first birthday of a very special, very precious baby boy, Miller McNeil Woodruff.  Miller is the son of my friend and former coworker, Meredith.  Miller was diagnosed very early on with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and though he left us all only 87 days after his birth, he continues to touch the lives of many every day through The Miller McNeil Woodruff Foundation.

I've learned that a great part of growing up isn't just getting married and having kids.  It's dealing with and growing from the difficult passages in life.  Child loss, whether it be at week eight of pregnancy like B and I endured two years ago, loss of a full term pregnancy at birth, loss in early infancy, or even loss later on is one of the hardest things any person can endure.  We each cope with the loss in our own way, and as friends we should always remember that there is no wrong way to do so, because life will never be as it was.

In all honesty though, I don't know many people who would want life to go back exactly to how it had been.  I know for myself that though I went on about life in many ways after my miscarriage, little things like getting my hair cut or buying clothes just seemed so incredibly wrong.  While the rest of the world may  go on like normal, you have to find a new normal and it hurts when you feel that everyone has forgotten what you have lost.  Worse yet is when people who don't know what you've endured or are just thoughtless make assumptions about you and make hurtful comments.

I'll never forget Miller, nor will I forget Eleanor, the baby girl born to two of my friends just hours before Firecracker, who passed away shortly after her birth.  So often we all take for granted that once a person gets pregnant that everything will be fine.  Things can happen at any point in a pregnancy, something might not develop properly, or genetics may play a very cruel role.  They, the baby we lost, the ones our best friends lost, and all the others are Glory Babies.

Glory Baby is a term I learned from the Watermark song, "Glory Baby," a song written when the couple endured two painful miscarriages.  There are times when I can't stand to listen to it, because even though I have Firecracker now I think of the one I'll never know until I get to Heaven.  There are other times I listen to it and find great comfort in it, because it give some reassurance as well.

I know that Miller had a birthday party today in Heaven that we can never even begin to imagine, and he gets to hear lullabies that are so beautiful in Heaven, as do all of our Glory Babies.  Those of us left here are the ones who need the comforting though.  So, whenever you see someone who is of the age to have children and doesn't, don't assume it's always by choice.  Please never make any curt comment about their not having children.  You never know what that person or that couple has gone through.  You never know the soul crushing hurt you may be unwittingly inflicting on them because there really is no pain like that.

We're grown up now, and while we're somehow taught while growing up how to deal with the loss of people older than us and even our own age, there is nothing to prepare us for the loss of Glory Babies.  It's something that we can't wrap around in our heads.  We can't understand why the losses had to take place, it's just now getting to be something that isn't kept hidden, within the shadows of our lives to where we can talk about it.  For too long, those who have lost have had to suffer silently.  Remember the Glory Babies, and their parents.  Before you say something and make a crass assumption, know that behind every smile there is the possibility of an unknown hurt.  Also take comfort that there are no lullabies as beautiful as the ones sung in Heaven, because Heaven is a real place.

What I've Learned In Three Weeks: Enough Time To Form a Habit

Monday, February 27, 2012




Enough Time To Form A Habit (Three Weeks) 

Wearing her Old Navy jeans & Strawberry Shortcake onsie.
Today, my Dad would have been sixty-six years old.  It's hard to believe that he's been gone for over twenty-one years.  He would have loved his new granddaughter.  She seems to have my nose, which is his nose.  Sadly, that means it's a bit crooked and turns to the right. Every day she looks a little like one person or another.  She's very much a mixture of all her DNA.  I can't wait to see what she'll look like when she grows up, even though I'm not in a hurry for her to no longer be small enough to curl up on one arm.

They say that it takes twenty-one days or three weeks to form a habit.  I guess that's true, because after three weeks, living with Firecracker is seeming more natural and common rather than this new, novel thing.  Even the new has worn off on the dogs.  Dory only checks on Firecracker almost every time she comes into the same room with her now, instead of every single time.  What have we learned in three weeks?
  • We are finally establishing at least a bit of a routine.  Every morning we wake up around seven for a bottle, then we're ready to be either bathed or sponged off, and changed into our clean clothes for the day and a fresh diaper.  After that, she likes to hang out in her crib for a while, listening to the radio or iPod, talking to Stuffed Lucy and Dory until she falls asleep again, while I shower.  We read books and just hang out in our room until our next bottle around ten.  We eventually come downstairs and hang out off and on in between bottles, naps, tummy time, etc.  I do housework when I can too.  We have a tendency to get fussy in the evening when it gets close to bedtime, but usually after our 10-11 pm bottle, we're out for the night.
  • She's a very good girl for the most part, but she has a tendency to only poop every four or so days, and by the last day she can be a nightmare, so her pediatrician has her taking an ounce of pear juice every other day.  She LOVES it, and it makes her much more pleasant.
  • Her hair sticks straight up after it's been washed.  I love it that way right now, though it tickles when she's cuddled up against me.
  • B and I have decided that we need a baby carrier.  I think I'll be heading to Target this week to buy a Baby Bjorn.  We don't mind holding her a lot, but it would be nice to be able to do other things as well.

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