Life · Motherhood · Parenting

Ain’t That a Kick In the Head

Hi guys! I’m still here, I promise. Things have just been a little wild lately. A project I joined early in the year has been essentially taking up all my spare computer time and my toddler decided she wants to make things super fun and stop napping. So things have been interesting around these parts… That, and I swear I’m tired all the time now, even though Jonas is sleeping really well these days (putting him in his own room a month ago was the best decision we’ve ever made! He immediately started sleeping almost through the night!)

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::cough:: favorite child ::cough cough::

I jest! But our daughter is giving me a serious run for my money these days. To be honest, it’s hard right now. I am losing my mind. And I know I need to be better at regulating my own mood and behavior, but man… when there’s a tiny person permanently glued to your side who whines and cries at the drop of a hat and refuses to sleep so she NEVER EVER goes away… it’s rough. (I know, poor me. I’ll stop my complaining. Shortly.)

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A very rare moment of peace. The constant battles are exhausting.

I know what you’re thinking right now. “But didn’t you just write about getting over the no-nap slump?” hahahahahahaha. Bedtime was getting to be a nightmare and she wouldn’t fall asleep until 9pm or later because she wasn’t tired, so I finally had to bite the bullet and get rid of naps. I know, right? Life. And the folly of a still-learning mom who thought she’d figured something out.

Oh, and want to laugh? Potty training has gone completely down the toilet too. We couldn’t get past #2, and I was sick of literally washing human excrement out of everything, every day (remember, I have a baby too…), so we gave it a break. Whatever.

Let’s see, what else am I awesome at right now: Being nice to my toddler? Really struggling. We have our ups and downs. Responding to emails quickly? HA. Screen time under control?

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Meh. It could be worse. My own media consumption has been pretty bad lately — whenever things get rough I tend to bury my head in my phone to escape. Time for another media fast… an acquaintance recently shared that she logs off all social media every other day these days, and I kind of like that idea. Or what I’ve done in the past, only looking at my phone when the kids are asleep (WHICH MEANS NEVER THANKS TO A CERTAIN SOMEONE). Ahem.

So yeah, we’re really winning around here. Lest anybody be under the illusion I have even a semblance of my crap together… I don’t. I know one-on-one time with her is what she craves and needs, and we do have good moments — she’s really into reading books now so I love doing that with her — but then her brother wakes up and I need to nurse him and she’s literally climbing on top of him to interpose herself… deep breaths. We’ll get there. This is what we call the trenches of motherhood, right? At least she makes us laugh plenty too!

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On the plus side: there’s been a lot of exciting stuff this summer already, and we are going home to France in one month! My sister was married this month and it was insanity for the kids, but it was so fun to be a part of it all, to spend time with my family, to relive all the excitement of a wedding and a new life.

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Reminded me of these kids…

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Ha! We were such babies! So much has happened since then. Life is a lot more complicated, and a lot harder. (man, parenting! careers! home-ownership!) But it’s good to have this guy at my side to go through it all.

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Clubfoot

World Clubfoot Day — June 3rd, 2017

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I’ve written a lot about our son’s clubfeet and all the medical care he’s received as a result. June 3rd is World Clubfoot Day and we spent a lot of time reflecting on our journey so far and what our sweet boy has been through. He’s come so far!

We’re the lucky ones — we only live two hours away from a top-notch clinic at a Shriners Hospital for Children, we live in the first world and have health insurance and access to plenty of information. And, clubfoot is a congenital birth defect that’s relatively common and completely treatable. It’s not life-altering. But it could be, if we didn’t have access to all of this. If you ever feel like it’s hard to make a difference in the world, here’s one thing you can do:

  • Donate to MiracleFeet: they provide organizational, technical, and financial support to over 150 clinics throughout the world in order to provide treatment to children born with clubfoot. The treatment costs, on average, only $250 per child and is free or extremely low-cost for the families who receive it
  • Support Shriners Hospitals for Children

The Wyoming Shrine Bowl is next week. We attended a few years ago when we lived in Casper, but had no idea at the time it would become personal. Sitting in the stadium then, we never imagined we’d someday be beneficiaries of local Shriners’ fundraising efforts a few years later!

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We are lucky his birth defect is mild and treatable, but even then, it’s not cheap, and Shriners helps make it all so much more affordable.

For anyone who might end up here after receiving the initial diagnosis: there is a lot of joy to come, even though it may be hard at times. Just wanted to share some encouragement as we celebrate our own precious little one! ❤

photography

Love

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I got to shoot my little sister’s engagement photos this past weekend, and it was so much fun. First of all, photographing adults is WAY easier than kids. No question. And second, I made these two college students wake up early on a Saturday morning to take pictures, but I think it was well worth it to get that gorgeous morning light!

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It doesn’t hurt that my sister is pretty much gorgeous either — and her fiancé isn’t half bad either 😉

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We are all pretty excited for their wedding this summer — but probably not nearly as much as these two love birds!

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Holidays · Traditions

Easter 2017

Our Easter was relatively simple this year, but still lovely.

I loved doing some of the little things in preparation, like dying eggs with Adelina (she loved it, obviously. We even managed to not make too big a mess!). She was so proud of her creation!

 

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She very much enjoyed helping with these cookies too…

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We did some special scripture studies during Holy Week — watching Bible videos, reading special articles, etc. For Family Home Evening, I opened Easter eggs that told the story of Christ’s last days with Adelina. She’s still a little young but getting to touch and hold objects was fun and helps the concepts make a little sense. (Here’s one, and another version here)

For my own personal study I found this guide really helpful — and no, I certainly didn’t make it through the whole thing! But over the years I look forward to refining what works for our family traditions. This is a great guide for families as well.

And yes, Easter also meant the end of my social media fast. This year was interesting because instead of a complete break, I decided to only allow myself to use social media when the children were sleeping. Full disclosure, I wasn’t 100% successful. I had some rough days here and there where all I wanted to do was escape. But generally it went well and it was really beneficial in terms of evaluating how I was using social media and for what purpose. It helped me exercise restraint in a more real-life type of scenario. I significantly disconnected from online hysteria and debates, which was really good for me. Instead, I plunged myself into books, I texted or called friends more often (instead of just assuming they’ll see my updates on the internet), and I had more time for reflecting on the important things. General Conference was so good this year, and I think part of it was I was cleared from a great deal of the distractions I usually surround myself with. This “fast” was so good, I think I’m going to continue to restrict social media time in a very similar way. In the last few weeks I also gained some really good insights into things I need to change in my life, and received a really direct response to how I could invite Christ into my life more — a concrete way I could do that. It’s funny how the answers come when you’re finally listening…

So there’s my recap of sorts. It is absolutely worth doing, and I recommend it to anybody who’s looking to recenter their thoughts on what really matters. It was a really great tool to start some important reflection. And it helped me make more mental space to prepare to celebrate Christ for Easter.

Of course, I love the fun and decoration aspect too 🙂 I’ve been slowly collecting or making little items for around the home — a moss-covered bunny hanging, a linen table runner, an egg wreath that I adore. And no spring would be complete without tulips and daffodils!

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I got to enjoy these on Saturday at the Provo City Center Temple (I got to shoot my sister’s engagement photos, and I can’t wait to share them with you!) Since we had to travel that weekend, my plans for an egg hunt sort of went out the window when I realized it was just one thing too many. I decided it wasn’t worth stressing about, so instead, Adelina simply found a surprise from the Easter bunny ready for her.

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(And yes, things got a little crazy so I dug out and repackaged a toy or two! Ha ha. I didn’t even buy any chocolate eggs… I know, I know. But she seriously didn’t need more junk food that weekend.)

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The big item in her basket was an apron I found just in the nick of time. I love cooking with her, and she loves the hands-on fun — like playing with dough — so much! She was a great helper for our Easter meal that day 🙂

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As for the traditional family photo… Jonas had a blowout ON Andrew before we got a chance to take it! And then Adelina was waving a stick in my face the whole time, so this is as good as it gets.

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Real life, right?! (Just take my word for it, Jonas looked stinking adorable. And my husband was handsome as always of course!) I had some moments of frustration that day, but I’m getting better at tampering my expectations and being reasonable about what will and won’t work with small children. So when Adelina decided that “I’m going to get a quick picture!” meant “Quick! Run around as fast as you can and whatever you do, DON’T look at the camera,” I took a deep breath and just went with it.

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Jonas has matching shoes that he can finally wear now! And yes, she’s been wearing that cardigan since she was about six months old…

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Gah! She was so tiny! But seriously, I can’t find a good replacement for this cardigan and I love it so much! It’s probably getting a little ridiculous though.

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And there you have it: hope you had a beautiful, peaceful, and meaningful Easter weekend!

Clubfoot

Clubfoot Update: Almost Out Of Daytime BNB Wear!

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We are now nearly done with 23-hour bracing, and it’s incredible how fast this phase has gone. We go in for a follow-up appointment this week and if his feet look good, he’ll be cleared to wear the brace for naps and nights only!

23-hour basically means your kid wears the boots all the time, but you’re allowed an hour of free time. We’ve been doing his free hour in the evening and usually take advantage of it to give him a bath. Some people do a half hour first thing in the morning and a half hour before bed.

I’m pretty sure I significantly over-prepared when we started out. I had moleskin, band-aids, sheepskin scraps (helpful for padding) and the MDOrtho website on speed dial, ready for bruising, blistering and general misery. Three months later, Jonas hasn’t had a single issue! The first few nights of BNB (boots and bar) were rough, but once we got through the adjustment, it’s been right back to normal — if not better.

His feet and legs look a little funny without the brace because they are squeezed for so long, but the nurse explained this is perfectly normal — skinny ankles and puffy-topped feet — the brace needs to be tight at the ankle especially, so all that baby fat has to move over! Here’s what they look like after 23 hours in the BNB:

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Those muffin-top legs crack me up. And his little feet keep the turnout and stay at a perfect 90° angle even when we remove the BNB because they’ve been in there so long! Over time though, this will all smooth out. I’m curious to see how it changes with less wear now.

As much as the 23-hour bracing phase has been relatively effortless, I’m truly looking forward to ditching the brace during the day. It makes baby-wearing pretty difficult (some people do it, but I couldn’t find a way to make both of us comfortable, plus it was mostly winter anyway and we weren’t out and about in nature for very long periods of time!) and then there’s the fact you have to hold your baby a little differently — no propping the baby on your hip, for example. And if I want to lay him on my lap with his feet towards me, I get gut-punched with his brace. Not to mention that thing is painful if he slams it down on you when you’re not paying attention!

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And that’s just why I don’t like the brace. Jonas has adapted because it’s all he’s ever known at this point, and he wields that thing like nobody’s business. He quickly learned to move both legs together for maximum effect, or how to set one foot and push off with the other, using the bar for leverage. He started rolling over just fine, approximately at the same age my daughter did if I recall correctly. I actually feel like his gross motor skills have been pretty advanced comparatively, he was rolling up onto his side pretty early on. I think having to lift the brace has strengthened his core quite a bit. But I guarantee he’s going to love the extra freedom and mobility once he gets it!

Funny story: I once tried to put him down for a nap during his free hour and he wouldn’t/couldn’t sleep — I think the weight of the bar is something he’s gotten so used to that it was disorienting to try to sleep without! I’ve heard similar stories from parents of older kids, toddlers crying about their bar when a parent forgot to put it on. It just goes to show that children really do adapt: if this is all they’ve ever known, it’s just life!

We tried to take advantage of those rare moments of freedom: bath time, walks, play, and our most recent discovery: swinging!

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I’m sure we’ll get to a point where putting the brace on will become a real struggle (he’s already getting pretty wiggly now that he’s rolling over!) but I am looking forward to a new phase, unencumbered. And yes, I just bought his first pair of shoes… and they are stinkin’ adorable.

Good luck baby Jonas, here’s to more freedom soon!

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Recipes

Conference Morning Orange Rolls

I’ve shared my love of little family traditions many times, and this is one of them that has developed over the last few years: I love making orange rolls for LDS General Conference. (This is hardly unique ha, pretty much all of mormondom is making cinnamon rolls twice a year for conference!)

Speaking of which: conference was amazing this year. So much to ponder and study again. Sister Cordon, Elder Holland, Elder Rasband, Elder Sabin, Elder Choi, Pres. Jones and Elder Uchtdorf gave messages that especially stood out to me. What were your favorite talks?)

Anyway, I shared a photo of my favorite orange rolls on social media and someone asked for the recipe, so here you go! These are a little more “cakey” than airy bread because they’re quick rolls, but honestly I’m not at a point in my life where I have the patience for dough that takes more than an hour to make. And this one is quite tasty!

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I use this 30-Minute Dinner Roll recipe for the dough, then once I’ve mixed it I make up the filling and icing.

  1. Prepare dough
  2. Filling: mix about 6 Tbsp of softened butter, the finely grated orange rind from one orange (wash it well before!), about half a cup of sugar (add more if you need so it’s nice and thick and not runny. I tend to eyeball things…) and I like to add some cardamom.
  3. Icing: I use this Sour Cream Icing from Our Best Bites (those sugar cookies are SO good by the way, and this is now my favorite icing! It’s a little on the runnier side just FYI) Just whip up the following:4 tablespoons softened butter
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    I usually let the icing chill while I’m finishing everything else up and waiting for the rolls to cook

  4. Roll out dough into a large rectangle after you’ve let it rise (about half an inch thick, ish? it puffs back up pretty fast so don’t worry about making it too thin!) and spread filling over it. Leave a little space on one of the long sides, roll it up from the other long side and press the dough so it holds in a long roll.
  5. Use this dental floss technique to slice the roll into 12 pieces, arrange into large casserole dish. You can let it sit another 10 minutes if you want, the rolls will rise a bit more and squeeze together.
  6. Bake at 400° F for about 15-20 minutes (until barely golden on the top — make sure the center roll cooks through though!)
  7. Drizzle the icing all over, and serve fresh from the oven!

All told, it takes about an hour to an hour on a half, depending on how distracted by little people you are 😉 Hope you enjoy them, they’d be lovely for Easter breakfast too! I want to try out this Challah Bread this year, and I love this sweet Resurrection Rolls idea for kids.

Parenting

Lessons Learned After Three Weeks of Potty Training

We embarked on the potty training journey about three weeks ago now, and we’re surviving. Actually, it went rather well. I think it was time, she was ready, and the bulk of potty-training is over. But as anybody who has been there remembers, it’s never as simple as you’d think. And it’s not a three-day affair even if the main learning portion does happen then.

Here’s what we did, some advice from friends, family members, acquaintances, and some good online articles, plus a genius tip from a good friend of mine! Oh, and a little encouragement to get through the tough days.

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What we did

Day one: post nap, put her in panties, let what may come, come. We went through at least five pairs of panties the first day. More the next. (We started off just doing a few hours in the afternoon to keep ourselves from going crazy) There were a lot of puddles. I started to despair that she just wasn’t making the connection.

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Then, day three, it clicked, and there were only one or two accidents. We did two M&Ms for every pipi in the potty, and lots of reminders. She was really defensive about not wanting to get on it — still is frequently — but after those first few days with lots of accidents she started just going by herself when she was ready. We also kept her pumped full of as many juice boxes as I could give her to keep things going (I bought CapriSun juice packs and plied her with them all afternoon long. Yes it’s a lot of sugar, but this is temporary). A lot of thoughts went through my head that first week:

I am so sick of wiping urine off the floor!

The M&Ms aren’t actually for the kid — they’re to reward mothers for not cannibalizing their children.

YAAAAY! (I can’t believe I’m getting so excited about this…)

Anyway, we survived. We stuck around the house for almost a week — or close to it — so we could stick with the program. For now I still use pull-ups for leaving the house (and naps and night-time, although honestly she doesn’t really need them for naps, I have a potty in her room and she uses it just fine by herself)

We are still using Pull-ups when we leave the house, but the first few days was pretty much the nuclear option, all panties. I think it really helped to get a feel for things. Another little thing I picked up — which I think will come in especially handy once we’re only in panties — is this “piddle pad” to protect the car seat.

We have two little plastic potties (I love the IKEA one) — I’ve found she generally prefers having a seat of her own, although I hear some kids want to do it “just like a big person!” — as well as this comfy toilet-seat insert and stool for the bathroom. One potty in her bedroom, one in the living room (whatever, it’s how we live right now, ha) and then I keep the toilet seat insert on in the main bathroom.

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I also put together a little potty basket full of the necessities: Clorox wipes, regular wipes, hand sanitizer, plenty of panties, and of course TP. I’m not much for trademarked character clothing, but in this case, Frozen panties were helpful in getting her really excited about wearing them!

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Number two was a different story, by the way, but after a few weeks and some despairing conversations with friends, we’ve made some progress. Thank goodness for people who have gone before! It was also helpful when my in-laws came to visit the next week and brought some of their own special treats and lots of enthusiasm and encouragement. She was definitely surrounded by positive reinforcement!

And there’s this too: Everybody talks about how awful potty training is. We’ve been in the thick of it lately, and it certainly isn’t super duper fun time. But what you don’t often hear is how proud you’ll be when they start to figure it out — and how much pride you’ll see in their face too. The shyness or defensiveness turning to pure joy when they figure it out and see how excited you are for them. It is the sweetest!

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Here are some of the insights I’ve gleaned from other mothers:

It might take a while for the child to get used to how it feels when they need to go before they can give you advance warning. I was frustrated the first two days because she would just go and then realize immediately she was wet and wanted to be changed. I kept thinking “why isn’t she telling me, I literally asked her if she needed to go two minutes ago!” But I asked around thinking maybe it was too soon, and friends told me it takes some time for them to recognize that feeling and have the presence of mind to warn you. So in the meantime I just kept asking, a lot. And looking for warning signs (squeezing legs, dancing around… so funny). And by day three, it clicked.

There are still plenty of setbacks and accidents. Like when they are way too engrossed in an activity. I try to keep an eye out for warning signs and encourage early action, but there are still some accidents here or there.

Things that were recommended to us:

  • Do it in blocks of time so you don’t completely lose your mind. It’s a lot of work to be so hypervigilant and watching their every twinge, so it’s been nice to start by just doing those hours after naptime until bedtime. I go get her from her room, put her on the potty, and change into panties for the afternoon where I try to keep her on the hard-surface portion of the home. Or outdoors on the deck.
  • Elmo’s Potty Time. I would have her watch it while sitting on the throne and she really liked it, I think it helped her relate to the concepts a little better.
  • I liked some of the tips over here from The Pinning Mama
  • For #2, constipation and pain or discomfort might be an issue too. A few friends of mine said they used fiber gummies or even metamucil for a while to keep things nice and smooth so it’s not scary or painful. I’m definitely going to get those fiber gummies started now!
  • “One of my kids: I had to put a bucket of warm water in front of them with bath toys in it. They played in the water with their hands while they sat on the little potty seat. This helped stimulate them to pee. This child had issues connecting how to go. This really helped.”
  • “With our oldest 2 once they were in real underwear anytime they went in their pants we made them walk from every room in the house to the bathroom before changing them. We would go to each room & say, “if you’re in here & need to go potty where do you go?” Apparently it isn’t comfortable walking around that much in gross undies. Took 3 days tops for both of them.”

Another thing I’ve learned: the potty becomes a new excuse in the toddler’s arsenal of stalling techniques (for us, it’s typically bedtime)… it’s absolutely maddening. One friend has the same issue with leaving the house: “Things are going really well, but our biggest hiccup is that he’s a boy who cried pee every time we try to leave the house! Any time we go to a store he’s insisting he needs to pee every 10 mins, which is a blast when you have a cart of groceries and are 27 weeks pregnant.” Yup. Little stinkers!

Actually, for me, this is the aspect that is the most frustrating about potty training. It’s not the cleaning up of messes or excessive laundry, but the fact that it creates one more power struggle with an already-willful child. I’ve had to arm myself with a lot of patience, and I haven’t always been successful. You never know if they actually need to use the bathroom or are just using it to avoid going to sleep, and sometimes it’s just an additional opportunity for metldowns! Gah.

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A note about Amazon Prime: I had a lot of friends recommend the Subscribe and Save feature for diapers/pull-ups, but at first I was frustrated that you didn’t get Prime shipping. You have to set up shipments that can’t be any sooner than a full week out, and sometimes that wasn’t fast enough for me. But now that we live in a very rural area, it’s become a necessity and I’ve learned to just plan ahead. You definitely save quite a bit that way.

OK, here’s the last tip, and this is the one that I’m pretty sure helped us with that final breakthrough! It’s goofy, but I swear it worked.

One friend’s genius secret to making #2 happen in the potty: “I told her if she does it in her diaper/panties, it has to go in the trash, poor caca! But if she does it in the toilet, the caca gets to go on an adventure!” I thought this one was hilarious, but anyone who has been around toddlers knows it just might work. I tried it. We talked up the adventures of the caca, how it would go down the pipes — like a slide! — and into the ocean, and go swimming with Dory! (Finding Dory has been a favorite around here the last month or two) Yes, I know, this is an absurd conversation. I also talked up the lollipop she’d get for a caca in the potty… and would you know, somebody earned a lollipop that very day!

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So don’t knock it until you try it. Sometimes, it’s all about the psychological manipulation!

I kid, I kid. Anyway, there it is. These are a few things that have worked for us, and I’m sure there will be plenty more insights as more kids with different personalities come along. It’s definitely more of a long-term learning curve than I expected — the whole “potty train in three days” thing is misleading — but it is encouraging to finally be on the way. And if you’re in the thick of it: courage!

Share any and all of your tips, tricks and insights below in the comments!