Sunday, February 26, 2017

More John, Now With AWESOME OWL ACTION

Someone asked last week if no news on John was good news, and I'm happy to report that's exactly the case. In fact, the only reason I haven't mentioned ARMageddon lately is because it makes me look bad, but more on that in a sec.

In short, it turns out John's part Wolverine, only with more of the super healing part and less of the stabby bits. (Also I meant the X-men Wolverine, not the bitey badger thing, but you probably got that.)

If you're lost (re: ARMageddon, not Wolverine), I should mention John had shoulder surgery on the 13th. It involved severing a torn bicep tendon, re-attaching it to his shoulder with a screw, and then "cleaning out" a lot of old damage. [shudder]

Everyone's told us to expect a slow recovery: Lots of pain, 6 weeks at a minimum in the sling, then a gradual transition over 6 months before John can tackle the hardest stuff, like weight training.

However, in less than a week John had weaned himself completely off pain meds and was shocking his physical trainers with his post-op range of motion.

At one week John hit his 4-week physical therapy goals, and was being restrained by the trainers from going further, faster. (We're going to ask the doctor about speeding up the time table.)

At Day 8 John had his stitches out and we re-enacted this Pit of Despair scene. Because of course we did.



By Day 10 John was out of the recliner and sleeping in bed again, and got the grudging all-clear from his extremely protective trainer to resume driving.

I'm writing this on Day 11, and John is completely, stubbornly self-sufficient once more. He's learned to do absolutely everything one-handed, and can shower and dress and drive and even cook all on his own. He's out of the sling most of the time now, and only has to wear it while sleeping or when we leave the house. He can even use both hands to type. The only times he really needs help are with his cooling unit, which we hook up a few times a day after his exercises to help with inflammation, and the occasional pants-hitch.

I'm staggered by how quickly John's progressed, and so proud of him for working so incredibly hard. I'm also ashamed of what a dreadful nurse I've been, and feeling more than a little guilty over my attitude the past two weeks.

To be fair, I told you guys I was going to step up, and I did. I drove and I made meals and I fetched ice packs and I did all the things. I didn't even panic! ... but peeps, I was the grumpiest of grumps doing it. I was so focused on just DOING, on not panicking, on checking off all the boxes on my lists, that I neglected to do them with love. That may sound trite, but it's so, so important. I rushed around and avoided eye contact. I delivered meals without a word, then swept off to clean the kitchen while John ate. I groused every time I had to leave off writing to deliver pills or plug in machines or drive to the store. I made John feel like a burden. I made him feel like an inconvenience.

So while I'm thrilled that John is healing well and feeling less cooped up and helpless, I'm also keenly aware that those past 10 days were my shot - my big chance to repay John a million tiny kindnesses - and I blew it. I threw away my shot.  I can blame my anxiety, my agoraphobia, the fact that I was hurting and scared and PMSing. I can say I'm a one-track introvert who doesn't multi-task well. But I screwed up, guys, and I need to do better.

So I'm going to try to remember this. To remember the way I do something is just as important as the thing itself. To remember my love and my friends and my family come first, people come first, not my schedule and to-do lists. I need to allow myself to be interrupted for more hugs, more laughs, more impromptu Princess Bride re-enactments. I need to remember it's not all on me to make the world turn.


Egadz, that took too long to say. Here, let's get on to the fun part: John's new favorite thing ever to happen at Disney.

If you've been to Animal Kingdom then you probably know "the bird show," AKA, Flights of Wonder. John and I love it. So when we were there a few days before his surgery, we thought, hey, wouldn't it be AWESOME if someone could get picked to go onstage during the owl fly-over, then take a slow-motion video of it? So we headed straight to the next show, and when the time came John's hand shot into the air...

AND GUESS WHAT:


Eeeee!

John was positively giddy, which must have showed since Guano Joe immediately picked him to go onstage. Ha! And here, for those who don't want to watch the video, I made a .gif of the best part:


Hard to believe that's the slow-motion version. Owls are fast!

AnyHOO (see what I did there?), sorry I waited so long to share that; John's been itching for you guys to see his moment of glory since it happened. :D

Happy Sunday, everyone! Here's to slowing down, looking up, and taking more flights of fancy.

52 comments:

  1. Dearest Jen, Please don't be so hard on yourself!!
    First of all, it sounds like John is recuperating miraculously fast so YAY for him!! It took me longer than that to recover from the birth of my first child, and after a surgery I had...well, it took months and months and months to recuperate from that.
    As for you, young lady...please, don't be so hard on yourself. You did what you had to do. You stepped up, went out of your comfort zone and did it! That's amazing!! I can cook and feed and carry and care, but I can't drive or shop or transport to Dr. appointments. I can't cook unless someone else goes out to buy the ingredients. The fact that you actually physically did all those things that you are so uncomfortatable doing, (and you did them without panic!!!!!) is as miraculous as John's speedy recovery.
    And I bet John knows you love him without you having to serve with a smile while he's down. He knows how hard it was(is) for you and how you did(are doing) the impossible. Yes, we always want to improve ourselves, but don't let that take away from what you've accomplished. You're doing great!!

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  2. Jen I've been married almost 44 years + I can tell you I've been guilty of the same behavior, just as my husband has. You'll get another chance to "redo" and I know you'll take advantage of it.
    MaryO1230

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    1. This right here! Don't let what you didn't do take away from what you DID do. You got a grip and you took care of business! Huge! Next time you'll be less scared and overwhelmed, it will be easier and you'll manage it with better grace. We are imperfect creatures and every day we learn and grow.

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  3. Hi, I have followed you from afar (literally as I am in the U.K.) I love your blog and your geekiness - it definitely hits the spot with me. I can see a lot of me in you and I love how hard you try to be 'better' - physically, socially and wifecally (new word). You wanted to be everything for John and, maybe, it didn't work quite as planned but when it does all come together in a perfect storm of paying back - you will absolutely love how good that feels (too good really, it can be a bit addictive). By the way having grown up in a socially inept society I.e. Being English, I found visiting the USA like being on another planet - this was only made better because everybody loved my accent - it sort of made my social ineptness and lack of grace somehow ok. All I can say is 'chin up, my dear, have a nice cup of tea and a biscuit' because I am English and that is what we do (it isn't a stereotype, by the way, I genuinely believe tea and a biccie will fix most things - including Armageddon!!!). Take care.

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  4. Glad to hear John is doing well (admittedly not entirely sure of the etiquette for online well wishing, so please excuse any overstepping). Have to admit it's difficult to not do too much when you finally feel better (and based on recent experience, there are times when the doctors seem to push for the exact wrong course of activity to make things better (and make things 100x worse), but obviously a lot of that is up to the individual in question).

    Having seen various raptors up close and personal (and a roughly 10ft flyover of a very, very large buzzard), it must have taken nerves of steel not to flinch when those talons came so close. Also "right before impact"? Definitely nerves of steel :)

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  5. This topic is one that a lot of us can understand and relate to, Jen: "work-mode" at home. Thank you for mentioning it on your blog and helping to put that struggle into a better balance.

    Glad to hear you are recovering so quickly, John. What a warrior you are!
    Kind regards,
    Karla in CA
    PS: May we use your PO Box address seen on your Instagram account of your post office box photo to send you a card or random EPBOTesque item in the future?

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    1. Sure thing, Karla; that P.O. Box is set up just for Epbot stuff! (It's also listed on the FAQ page, if anyone needs it. I just don't mention it much because it feels weird. :D)

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  6. Thanks for sharing the beautiful owl video - I was so excited to see how great that turned out!

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  7. So you can't dwell upon the feeling of screwing up over the past week. We've all been there and done that.
    The fact that you made the effort to step up out of your comfort zone despite the anxiety and other things, says a lot. It shows love and care. No one is perfect and as you work through the things life throws at you, you know that the only perfection is that you worked through things and stuck together :)

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  8. Susanna Sharp-SchwackeFebruary 26, 2017 at 2:58 PM

    OK, so I am going to be attacked by onion-wielding ninjas as I type the following: you are NOT alone in the caretaking failure. I admit to a kind of relief reading your confession, because I've been feeling so isolated in my own failures on this front. My husband has been ill for most of 2.5 years, with the past year being the worst on him. I have to make most of the decisions, instruct him on the littlest of things, and so much falls on my shoulders. He really does try to help, but the nature of his illnesses keeps him from doing much. And I know it's only going to get worse as time progresses. What's horrible is that I can't talk to him about this, because I don't want him to just give up. What's horribler about it all is that I'm a raving bitch far too much of the time. And I feel guilty. All. The. Freaking. Time. I swear I'm going to be better, be nicer. And I manage it for a little while (hours, days, weeks at a time), but sooner or later, I snap and get really grumpy and not so nice.

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    1. Oof, sending virtual hugs, Susanna. I can't even imagine. I think the trying is what matters, though; you're still trying. You still care. And that right there is everything. <3

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  9. You didn't blow it! It's like when Ian's baked alaska melted and he threw it out. It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't worth bingate. BINGATE.

    Glad John is wolverining through it. Sending you good vibes!

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    1. Bless you for the Baking Show reference. BLESS YOU. (We're binging it on Netflix now!)

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  10. Experience, learn, do as much better as you can next time, rinse, repeat.

    BTW, is your address the same as it was 4 or 5 years ago?

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  11. Being the nurse for the husband is never easy...just don't let him overdo.. it's easy to undo when they fixed :)
    It sounds like you did great though..I never felt like I did enough when my husband had his surgeries...but he like your John was independent and self sufficient..and only let me do the bare minimum..

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  12. Listen, I don't have anxiety or agoraphobia, and I did a LOT worse taking care of my partner some years ago when he had to have surgery on his ankle. He was in a cast and on crutches for a while. I was sometimes actively MEAN to him, which makes me feel terrible now. I'm used to running my share of the errands, but I almost immediately began resenting that I had to do absolutely *everything* now because it was so hard for him to get around. This was also during a very snowy and icy winter in NYC and we don't have a car nor does our building have stairs. He barely made it to work and we certainly couldn't do anything together but stay at home, where I had to fetch and carry things for him because he was under doctor's orders to keep off his feet as much as possible.

    As much as you love someone, taking care of them like you did is *exhausting* on so many levels. Professional nurses have a high degree of burnout and off-the-job problems! (I have SO much respect for nurses, BTW.) Please don't be too hard on yourself; it sounds to me like you really DID "step up" and I'm sure John appreciates that! :)

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  13. Just like you told someone else... Just the trying is what matters. Not for nothing, you've made the rest of us KEENLY aware of how much you love and appreciate everything John is, and does. If you can convince a bunch of internet strangers, I'm sure he knows, and I'm very sure that even if you think you didn't do it with love, he knows you did, because you had to go way outside your comfort zone in order to take care of him. Stop stressing it. <3

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  14. Oh my dear Jen, I echo the previous comments; don't be so hard on yourself! John's amazing progress might be due to the fact that he KNOWS his convalescence is hard on you. He wants to be well, for you, as soon as possible. But also, I SO know what you're going through. When my late husband was developing a ranging case of Alzheimer's, at first we didn't know what was wrong. I was angry at him all the time. The grumpiest of grump-monsters. As he got worse and we saw more doctors, it became evident that it wasn't his fault. I don't know why I couldn't lose the anger. I plodded along, taking care of him as best I could while still working full time and raising our young daughter. I was angry and grumpy for years. Now 9 years after his passing, I can honestly say that I have faced my faults and you can't imagine the guilt I feel. I could have handled things so much better. It's hard to ask for help when you don't know what the problem is. We both, you and I, need to cut ourselves some slack. We are only human. So tell him you love him, hug him (gently!) and talk to him about your feelings. You have him now, so say it. Don't wait.

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  15. It's never easy to take care of other people, no matter how well it goes. Your self-consciousness about your thoughts and feelings is far more than most other people. I hope you feel better about it soon - your husband had some very nice things to say about you on Facebook, so I think that you are maybe a wee too hard on yourself. So glad things are going so well!

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  16. Uh, so I may have just gotten the opening music to Labyrinth in my head while watching that owl video. (And by may I mean totally did) ;-)

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  17. I mean this in the nicest way possible - congratulations for being human and not some robot, non-feeling entity. I understand somewhat where your feeling are coming from but please don't be so hard on yourself. By compartmentalizing your emotions you were able to take care of everything that needed to be done. If it wasn't done with a loving attitude that's ok. John knows you love him with all the fiber of your being and that you were (and probably still are) scared about his surgery and subsequent recovery. We are all thrilled to hear that John is fast-tracking his recovery and I'm sure you taking care of him helped. Thanks for being honest with yourself and sharing with us. The video of the owl flight was a hoot!

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  18. My husband got picked for the bird show too when we were there a few years ago!

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  19. *whispers* I feel like a little bit of a wife failure right now too. I met a nice woman who was new to our country on Friday and invited her for Sunday dinner with my husband, my father-in-law and his wife. My husband has been battling being sick for a while now, but loved the idea of not leaving her to fend for herself. He dove into the idea and we picked her up this afternoon. He cooked a lovely meal and we had a beautiful table with our fine china and everything, but I was so tired I begged off driving her back to her hotel. I feel exhausted after a day of entertaining a lovely stranger and his father & step mother for dinner. I tried to make up for it by cleaning the good crystal as he dropped her off, but I know it's not the same...

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  20. This post reminds me of a column by Erma Bombeck--"If I had my life to live over." It has stuck with me for years. "I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage....I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband." She was such an amazing writer. You often remind me of her.

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  21. Jen - Part of your grouchy-feeling, was probably because you thought John's convalescence was going to last a lot longer. You weren't grouching at him - just circumstances, worrying how you were going to do all the chores & driving and still get your Blogs done over several weeks. If you knew it would only be 10 days, you would have managed to be cheerful as well!
    (You can't be worse than me at regrets in hindsight ;) - In fact I cry at the Edith Piaf song, where she says "she regrets nothing", because practically my whole life is regrets... ) :)

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  22. A couple years ago, my husband broke his shoulder slipping on ice and was then unable, of course, to shovel the 18 inches of snow that followed. I am a petite, cold-hating person who leaves the outdoorsy stuff to him while I do the indoorsy stuff like cooking and laundry. But I shoveled the snow. I shovel well (Mystery Men, anyone?) actually no I shoveled like crap and I was miserable the whole time and cursing under my breath and not exactly enjoying the scenery. But you know what, I did it. And I did a bunch of other things for him like helping him put on underpants that I did not think would be a thing, ever. I know it seems like we should be blowing kisses and handing out soup and tightening sling Velcro wearing pearls and a smile but the act of doing is an act of love itself.Don't be so hard on yourself. You rose to the occasion and I'm sure John appreciates you. Glad to hear he's on the mend, positive thoughts for both of you always.

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  23. i love that you acknowledged that you can be better and vowed to be better. that is all any of us can do. well, adding a blog post telling the world your husband is great and you want to be better for him probably helps, too!
    thank you for the owl! incredible.

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  24. I'm a little burned out of caregiving after close to 10 years, but you have done extremely well. He probably understands you not serving him with a smile better than you do. You showed him love in everything you did for him. Try not to be so hard on yourself.

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  25. Ok Miss Jen you messed up. You stumbled and maybe fell a little. You have recognized it, you have confessed it, you feel bad about it. Now it is time to stop beating yourself up with all that. Move on, carry on, try to remember this and be better next time. And there probably will be a next time. If not with John, then, you have family, right? Friends? Neighbors? Now that you know you can do it, you can do this again. And when you do, you can put some more love into it.
    We still love ya, girl, so carry on. Maureen S

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  26. The smile on John's face ;^)!
    -SM3

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  27. Youll do better next time, nice to see good old Mel Smith again, he is missed.

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  28. Jen, I read part of your post as you helping John with the "occasional pants-itch", and was kind-of grossed out. LOL!!! So glad John is doing so well, but please make sure he doesn't overdo it.
    Amy LD

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    1. Hitch Marion...hitch. Not itch.

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  29. So glad he's doing so much better! Congrats, and hooray for owls (see what I did there?)! :)

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  30. Glad to hear that John is healing so quickly! You were a big part of that by taking on a lot of stuff outside your comfort zone, Jen. :)

    Love the owl flyover! (BTW, The Bloggess had horrible owl puns in Sunday's post. So, timing.)
    -Zippy

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    1. "So, timing"? What does that mean? What has happened to grammar?

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    2. She's snogging in the shed with Grampar! ;)
      -Zippy

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  31. He had his phone in front of his face the whole time. So he experienced something he was eager to do with a phone blocking his view. Instead of experiencing the moment I guess it's about capturing the moment these days.

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    1. Enjoying the moment is great, but sometimes sharing it with others is even better.

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  32. Love John's Owl In Motion video! Sometimes taking care of a loved one is the hardest thing to do once, but to do it over and over again takes practice. Cut yourself a little bit of a break here. It was probably just as hard for John to be the taker as it was for you to be the giver.

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  33. Dearest Jen. Perhaps a bit of your grouchiness was the result of your body forcing itself to do things that you normally would not do. Like when a Mom sees her child under a car. The adrenaline kicks in and she suddenly gets Superhuman powers and lifts the car off the toddler. But you didn't have to lift a car, you just had to drive one. And make sandwiches. And worry about him. And make sure everything happened on schedule. So all that Superhuman adrenaline power racing around your body didn't get used up in Superhuman feats of strength, but it helped you do what needed doing. The leftovers gave you a case of the grouchies. Give yourself a break. And give yourself some credit for supporting John's incredible recovery. I am sure he understands and appreciates how hard you worked to help him. And if you have to do some thing like this in the future, maybe go lift a car or two if you are feeling grouchy :)

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  34. That owl video! I teared up and laughed and gasped and clapped with a fool grin on my face. That was fantastic. Loved the look on John's face. Happy his recovery is going so well. Appreciate your honestly about caregiving struggles. I'm challenged in that area, too. My husband is a John, and I marvel at how good he is at serving. It really is a gift.

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  35. Keep up the great healing, John! And I *love* your video of the owl!!! Super cool!

    Try to forgive yourself, Jen. We are all human and make mistakes -- you've owned up to this one and all you can do is try to remember this moment in the future...and do better. ((Hugs))

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  36. I had to care for my wife after her knee surgery and I think it's very easy to get wrapped up in the doing and not the doing with love. Especially when you're so concerned about doing it right, keeping them happy, repaying all the great care they've given you, and NOT HURTING THEM, that you forget to stop and cherish the hugs. Luckily, my wife helped me slow down by simply requesting hugs and such and that helped me to recenter and get her whatever she needed to get well with love and maybe possibly a smile. But I sure feel you. I'm sure John will continue to need you for a few things here and there and you can try to pile on all the love you can into those small actions. Also, I'm sure he knows you love him endlessly and that's the most important ;)

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  37. We can all do better. They say every day is an opportunity to learn something new. And only a truly caring person would feel the way you do. Anyway, give yourself a pat on the back for accomplishing some great acts of love no matter what.

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  38. I was wondering when this video was taken when I saw it in my Youtube subscriptions! Glad to hear John is healing super fast as well.

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  39. So I have come back to this post to thank you for it. I love reading you and the Bloggess, and I want to be as supportive as your husbands are. My husband has depression, and I try so hard to always be his strength, but I feel like I fail too often. I am glad you don't tell us about the times John has an off day (I have to believe they happen, to make myself feel better), that would feel wrong for you to share here. But thank you so much for telling us about your hard time. It helps me forgive myself for not being perfect yet either.

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  40. This reminds me...I have been meaning to share this with you. I see these owls every time I get a GaelSong catalog and I think of this blog.
    http://www.gaelsong.com/product/154497/15
    and
    http://www.gaelsong.com/product/154596/15

    Cheers,
    Kelley

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  41. I've been a hiding hermit for the last little while. I was wondering how John was doing, though, so I thought I'd come here and check up on him. Glad to hear he's doing so well. I'm now imagining John with Logan's sideburns. *hee-hee*

    That owl video is fantastic. I watched it several times.

    Jen, you are often the Jiminy Cricket in my head. You seem to post about things that bring to light my own flaws, but also inspire me to be better. Thanks for having the courage to show us who you are (I have the sudden urge to watch The Lion King - "You have forgotten who you are...Look haaaarder..." : P ).

    -Just Andrea

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  42. This is fantastic! A treat for all of us. And I feel like I'm only so generous caring for my family and then I get impatient. So I feel ya and thanks for the reminder. Your words are convicting.

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