Celebrate · Family · Home · Personal

Big News

capitanphoto cred because I failed to take a single picture during our interview *facepalm*

Big new’s y’all! Sorry for the radio silence but the last few months have been full of real life and some hard things, and I needed to take a break. But, I’m missing blogging and some big changes are happening around these here parts and I’m excited to document this new chapter the boys and I (and the dogs, and the horses, and maybe an errant barn cat or two) are about to start.

We’re moving! Bert got a job working for a ranch in Capitan, New Mexico, so we’re packin’ up and movin’ out. We jumped some of the major hurdles this week (navigating the health insurance marketplace…#woof) and it’s starting to feel a lot more real and exciting. It wasn’t an easy choice, and I have a lot to visit with y’all about, but it’s new, and it’s fresh, and sometimes we really need that. This is the path that God has put us on, so I have faith that it’s a good one. Stay tuned!

Celebrate · Family · Personal

Mother’s Day

buster snugglephoto credit: Elizabeth Jane Photography

Today, of course, is Mother’s Day. So far, my third Mother’s Day as a mama has been glorious. My morning looked like throwing on some comfortable athleisure-wear (that’s a thing, right?) (You’ve all tried Old Navy’s workout gear, right?) and going to have some coffee alone. I also picked up (chocolate cake with sprinkles) donuts for the boys, ravioli for dinner tonight (#notcookinganythingcomplicated), and literally seven boxes of blackberries because they were on sale and Wacey is obsessed and since one of my duties as a mother is to prevent my offspring from contracting scurvy, I can get reeeeaaaallll hip to that fruit-obsession-on-sale jive.

breakfast

I sat, enjoyed my Vente Espresso Frappucino Light and Butter Croissant and with Two Napkins while beginning Wacey’s Prompted Journal (hey mamas–go get you some of these journals for your babies) and subsequently getting teary while writing the birth story and early days of the boy who made me a mama.

I then checked a big to-do off my list (the best feeling) by vacuuming the car (no kids+time to kill+enough crackers in the backseat to feed a small, pro-gluten country=two rounds with the industrial vacuum at the car wash and a burden off my soul and the axles of the car) and getting the top layer of dirt off the car so now we aren’t slovenly country-dwellers, we’re just sort of dirty people who live on a dirt road.

shirts

Then, Bert called and asked if I’d be okay running to the farm store to order some chainsaw things, and I said of course because I was alone and like putzing around sans bebes. While I was there, I of course had to check out the kids’ clearance section and I hit the jackpot with clothes for the boys. Five button-downs (two matching sets) and two onesies for Buster for $50 WHAT. Sorry boys, but you’re going to have to dress alike.

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Lunch, a long walk, an easy but delicious dinner, and an ice-cream-and-movie-night with Bert (strawberry and Passengers and now I want my own Arthur and clean-up bots) and I feel like a new woman. It’s the simple things, folks.

Mother’s Day is kind of a weird holiday. You grow up celebrating it, but then once you have children you become celebrated yourself and it’s lovely and also a little strange, or maybe surreal is a better word. My family never subscribed to the Mother’s Day Brunch tradition (which I’m convinced is only nice if everyone is going to be well-behaved so we won’t be testing that one out any time soon), opting instead to go to the nursery together so my mom could pick out new flowers, so we’re trying to build our own Mother’s Day traditions. So far, I like this year’s the best: a quiet, leisurely solo jaunt to Starbucks filled with lots of reflection and motherhood goal-making, followed by a non-hustling walk and plenty of post-nap horsing around with the babies and a delicious, easy dinner, and very little in the chores and cleaning departments.

Today has been such a gift. Every mom is different, but for me, the gift of leisurely time to myself to recharge my batteries is wonderful. It makes me a better mama and a better human!

Motherhood is hard, guys. Hats off to all of the mothers out there (or maybe hats on if they’re going to have to pick up the aforementioned hats off the floor). Being a mother has definitely increased my appreciation for my own mother, and for the mothers in my village. We literally wouldn’t be here without our mothers, or their mothers, or their mothers (how’s that for existential?) so, you go moms.

On this First Mother’s Day Being a Mother of More Than One Child, I am so grateful. I love being a mom–I’m shocked at how much I love it, actually. I never thought I would have two boy, and I never thought I would have two kids two and under and still want another one. These boys keep me on my toes, keep me honest, and keep me moving forward and trying to be the best I can be. We have our tough moments (I’m looking at you, yesterday’s two hour nonstop whine/cry jag), but most of our moments are glorious and hilarious and probably kind of gross.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms–the moms to babies on earth and in heaven, and those who are hoping to be mamas someday.

Also: preview of tomorrow’s post. Do you see what I see?

preview

Celebrate · Family · On The Ranch

Weekend and Caking Cows

family photo

watching daddy

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driving
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This post brought to you by a full night of uninterrupted sleep. Yes. Buster slept from 10:30 pm to 6:00 am and while that’s still a little short for me, I will 100% take it because I didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed, burp, or change him. I am also 100% certain this was a fluke because he was awake so much yesterday with an upset tummy, and he isn’t even six weeks old yet so I know better than to hope for this to stick, but it’s refreshing and lovely to know that it is, in fact, possible, and that there is a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that is months of nighttime shenanigans.

He also could have been worn out from the weekend because what a weekend! Saturday we ventured down to the Big City to see Bert’s cousin get married and to visit with his mama’s family. Wacey wore himself out wrestling and dancing with his cousins, and Buster was handed around for hours. I had two mimosas, and we sort of got a family picture. It was a win-win. We stopped and visited with friends on the way home from town, so it was a very long, social day for us!

Yesterday was a slower day–somehow, by the grace of God, both boys slept until 8:30, so we did, too! I spent the day trying to get more baby smiles out of Buster, putzing around the house, doing wash and starting giant piles for ThredUp and Goodwill, and cleaning the upstairs bathrooms that hadn’t been cleaned since before Buster was born…ahem.

Then, once the boys were up from their naps, we all went out together to cake cows–a first as a foursome! Wacey, of course, loves to cake cows (imagine!). He is a little boy that wants pretty badly to be grown–there are so many things he wants to help with and do, but just can’t yet, and it makes him so sad. For now, we’ve found a (likely temporary solution) in encouraging him to watch Daddy very closely when he can’t help so that he can learn what to do when he is big enough, which is why he spends a good amount of time with his face glued to a truck window. It’s pretty safe to say that Bert will have a little shadow as soon as Wace is old enough to be horseback by himself!

We’ve got a busy week ahead of us on the ranch–we’re hoping for two brandings, weather permitting, plus a day of breeding cows. Thrown in there is my six week postpartum appointment, a party, and the requisite I’m-in-town-so-I-have-to-go-to-a-store-I-don’t-normally-go-to Target or Costco run. After a slower winter and the post-baby lazy period, it looks like life is back in full swing!

Happy (hopefully warm) Monday!!!

 

Buster · Family · Personal · Wacey

Takeaways from Life with Two

brothersWe have two boys! Two. Bert and I look at each other in disbelief sometimes that we have kids, as in plural, as in more than one child. I can officially say I’m Married with Children, although thankfully Bert’s not Al Bundy (sorry, Al), and it’s weird and great all at the same time.

We’re about five weeks in, and because I know you all are waiting to hear how it’s been going (no? Oh) I’m going to share with you some nuggets of wisdom that I have learned:

If your room and your toddler’s room share a wall, get two sound machines. That way you will avoid the fun merry-go-round that was our Friday night involving one kid waking up, settling back down, and then the other kid waking up and then waking the other up , and then both waking up again because they’re so restless and making too much noise, and then you waking up (read: not waking up because you we already awake) and deciding that hell, Starbucks is only 17 minutes away so everyone get in the car but wait one second while I Amazon Prime this new sound machine.

Diapers. I don’t mind changing diapers, but it gets comical when you have a contest about who changed the most poopy ones in one day, or when you have both boys laying down to get diaper changes at the same time and the smell is overpowering and hilarious.

Wacey looks enormous.

Buster looks squishy and floppy.

Being exhausted and having a screaming toddler is a new kind of hell, but one that I’ve thankfully not visited much since apparently we can function much better on much less sleep than we used to. I guess that’s good?

“Gentle touch please” only goes so far, and then your toddler on purpose steps on his brother’s face.

Buy the big diaper bag.

Get prepared for your always-adorable, usually-the-center-of-attention toddler to really up his game at the grocery store since everyone immediately wants to coo over the baby. Be prepared to have conflicting feelings about this. Is it adorable, or mostly adorable with a side of slightly weird? Also be ready for that toddler to turn into a demon sometimes. Can you blame him though?

That same toddler will be amazingly tender and sweet to his brother, giving him kisses and begging to hold him, staring at his face and holding his little hands, and then do a complete 180 wherein you’d better move fast, lady, or your kid’s about to put an Crayola-colored, frustration-induced Uruk-hai handprint on his little brother’s face. Or step on it, as mentioned above. That’s only happened once, as I now know the warning signs.

Going out with only one kid is like a vacation. Going out with just the baby means you might forget he’s there. Not literally, though. Just figuratively? Going out with two kids requires planning and snacks, and not being in a hurry, but I highly recommend it.

Fed is best, fed is best, fed is best. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, and if you’re the person doing the telling, stop it before I slap you upside the head.

When you go visit a friend and you’re early, driving around with sleeping baby in the backseat listening to podcasts (S-Town did NOT disappoint, someone please tell me they’ve finished it because I want to know their opinion re: mercury poisoning) is glorious. Add a smoothie onto that and man oh man, you’re living large.

Wearing the same sweatpants every day for a week is somehow more acceptable when you have two kids. I’m okay with this, because I have been. Week=three months, ps.

You’ll get a lot of questions about who looks more like who, and if you think the babies look alike. I think all newborns look like potatoes, but Buster looks like a potato that could be Wacey’s brother, so the answer to all those questions is yes.

Pumping becomes a whole new adventure once you get a car adapter, and your toddler yells “PUMP!” every two seconds while it’s on. I have to make sure I’m off the ranch before I get ‘er started, though, because I would rather be the Weird Anonymous Lady Pumping While Driving than Weird Anonymous Lady Pumping—Wait, That’s Cassidy, What’s Going on There?, while praying the blanket staying intact over the general frontal region of myself. I have no problem talking about pumping/nursing/breastfeeding/etc., and no shame, but you have to admit that a Human Milking Machine is a little weird, much less a mobile one.

It’s easier the second time around. I know it might not be the same way for everyone, but for me, it’s been vastly, extremely, outlandishly, scarily easier this time around. So much so that I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. My recovery was much faster, and I somehow avoided becoming a completely psychotic hormonal mess. I don’t mean to say it’s been easy, though. Just easier. I know a little  more what to expect, what to do, what’s normal. Buster only woke up once last night, though, and gosh that was a fluke but it was a glorious fluke that made me long for real sleep soon.

On that note, if you have a fitbit, don’t look at the sleep tracking part.

While we’re on sleep: you forget HOW LOUD NEWBORNS ARE AT NIGHT. THEY TURN INTO GREMLINS. Between the snarfing, heavy breathing, gagging, snorting, wiggling and the geriatric goat noise that is apparently the trademark of my Johnston Boys, it’s amazing those little babes get any sleep at all.

Your heart will get very, very full. Even when you’re exhausted and begging the baby to sleep, your heart will be so full. You may not know it, at that moment, but it is.

When both kids are crying, you and your husband will look at each other and try not to laugh at the zoo that is now your life.

You need Jesus. Lean in.

Your house that you kept reasonably clean with one baby will now resemble a barnyard that had a visit with a tornado that just went though a toy store. Go with it. Your kid’s eating off that dirty floor? You see that, I see immunities. 

Good books are clutch for late-night feeding/pumping/nursing/holding baby sessions, points for being able to immediately download them on devices with dimmable screens. I’ve legit read 20+ books this month, let me know if you need recommendations. I got you.

Buying an outfit that makes you feel like a million dollars in your in-between body stage is worth it. Do it. Especially if you have a social engagement or any event that you’re nervous to attend! Here’s mine.

It’s harder with two to slow down and enjoy your babies, especially on their own. But try, it’s so worth it. Also, get those two babies in your bed in the morning, because there’s nothing sweeter than brother snuggles. Until the hangry sets in and it’s breakfast all around, but for five minutes it’s so great.

We keep finding ourselves looking at Wacey’s pictures when he’s Buster’s age and just a little older, feeling nostalgic and excited for what’s next all at once.

Mostly, life with two means get ready for all the feels.

 

Buster · Family · On The Ranch · Wacey

First Branding of the Season

Saturday morning I loaded up the boys for the maiden voyage of the double stroller and we moseyed on down to the barn to brand our first set of calves! It was Wacey’s first year to get to “help” (in past years he’s been strapped to me in a carrier or in his stroller) and he had an absolute ball.  In between M&M breaks, he helped me take down numbers on his own notepad, and helped his daddy wrestle calves.

Buster spent the morning snoozing in my Solly wrap, which has occurred so often with Wace and now Buster that it’s a ranch joke that my kids could sleep through Armageddon. I don’t know if it’s the wrap, or genetics, or a combination of both, but the ability of both my boys to nap through the din of branding with cows and calves bawling, everyone talking and carrying on, horses snorting is absolutely uncanny. I love it, though. They get to snooze, I get to work, and we’re all happy!

Branding season is one of my favorite times. The first (and last, haha) ones are always kind of festive, and Saturday was no exception. We had the whole crew there, plus some neighbors, and a delicious brisket lunch in the barn. It was warm, but not hot, and not windy, so it was a lovely morning and a great start to the spring season.

I can already tell that ranch life with two boys is going to be so fun. Messy, sticky, hilarious fun. It’s also going to keep me on my toes–Wacey has no fear when it comes to calves and horses, so the minute he’s allowed to be horseback by himself we are in for some wild west adventures, let me tell you.

PS–doesn’t that little cowboy hat just kill you?! He’s starting to insist upon wearing it almost all the time, including with pajamas.

maiden voyage of the BOBwrestling calves 2mmswrestling calvessolly

Happy Monday! I’ve got a mountain of work (and laundry) to get done this week, which I’ll be doing in between wrangling babes, sweeping the floor that is now apparently applying for the position of Wacey’s Second Sandbox, and pumping. #momlife.

Speaking of #momlife, get thee to the nearest place wherest thou gets thine audiobooks (that was weird, remind me no more Olde English), and get Jim Gaffigan’s Dad Is Fat. SO GOOD.

Family · Home · On The Ranch · Personal

We’re Back!

We’re back! Baby Buster was born almost three weeks ago, and it’s time for this mama to get back into the blogging game.

mirror selfie

I’m planning on sharing a little more about Buster’s birth soon, but long story short: he was born on the morning of Wednesday, March 15, less than four hours after we arrived at the hospital! He was a whopping 8 lbs, 7.5 oz (Wacey was 7 lbs, 1 oz so Buster was just a liiiiittle bigger) and 20 inches long. He’s already surpassed nine pounds, which is crazy, and he’s a pretty mellow little squish.

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neck rolls

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Our last few weeks have been full of movies, snacks, books, snuggling, Amazon Prime, odd sleeping patterns, and we’re pretty smitten with both of these little boys! So far, Wace is all about being a big brother, and although it hasn’t been 100% smooth sailing (is it ever with a toddler?!), I think he likes Buster quite a lot. I’m excited for when B is a little less fragile because Wace really wants to hold him and carry him and play with him.

Wace holding Buster

We’ve done a couple of trips to the store (okay, one real trip, the other one was an excuse for Starbucks), and of course to the pediatrician for checkups, and while it’s a little harder to get us all out of the house–newborns need so much stuff, I think Buster’s just going to roll right on in with our crazy selves. I think he’ll fit in, though–he isn’t fazed by much so far, and loves being worn in the wrap which is to his benefit because he’ll be there all spring! Wacey’s been appreciating the extra time with Bert, too. They just left in their matching hats and jean jackets to go put up some fence, and you’d think it was Christmas Wacey is so glad.

park day

mama wace wrap

little cowboy

As lovely as playing a pseudo hermit has been, it’s time to get back to real life. I feel really good–the recovery has been vastly different this time, for which I am so, so grateful. I’m chalking it up to a much faster labor and less than a half an hour of pushing vs. over three hours, and staying in better all-around shape this time, and also God. We got lucky with the timing of Buster’s arrival and we’ve been able to take it pretty easy, and have Bert home more than usual. But, it’s springtime on the ranch, and that business waits for no one!

So, what’s coming up? Bert is done calving his heifers (yay!) but we have about 400 calves left to be born elsewhere on the ranch, so I’ll be busy getting calves entered into the database for a long while. I have 125 waiting on calving sheets to be entered this week already! We’ve set up our first group of cattle to breed (post coming!) and will breed them this coming Sunday, I’m counting that as my official return to work (even though I’ll put in a lot of hours this week at home!) and the end of being a hermit, haha. We have eight groups of cattle to breed, plus over a thousand calves to brand. All of this needs to get done before the middle of June, so our calendars are full. We were supposed to have branded calves already, but we’ve been getting snow and rain for over a week, praise the Lord! While it sucks to feel behind already, we really, really needed the moisture so we’re singing lots of hallelujahs over here regardless.

I won’t lie, though, I’m ready for sunshine–it’s hard for Wace to be cooped up all day, and it’s hard for me because he’s a toddler who’s been cooped up all day. Plus I can’t wait to take the Bob Duallie for a spin.

The next few months will be a mixture of baby things, family things, and ranch things, with some real Mom life thrown in. I decided that this space is going to be as honest as possible about everything we deal with because I don’t want to add to the fake noise on the internet, and well, it’s just life.

Real life side note: I’ve been reading tons of books since I’m pumping so much (I’m pumping + supplementing with Buster, more on that in the future), and have stumbled across some great reads. The Hidden Figures book was so interesting, I learned so many new things, and now I’m fully prepared to see the movie (anyone else refuse to see the movie before they read the book?). I would recommend Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance to anyone and everyone; it’s well-written, and so appropriate for our current political climate. It provides insight and nuance into some pretty big, important issues.

For lighter reading, the Sunday Philosophy Club and its sequel, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith (he wrote the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, if you haven’t go read allll those) are both really good, I can’t wait for the third installment to come available at my library! I finally read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and devoured it–I’ve got the sequel on hold and I’m so excited for my turn. I checked out the movie last week, so I need to watch that, too, now that the book is read, duh.

Next up while I wait for my holds to come available: The Nightengale, and maybe the Martian? I can’t decide. I also have another Emily Giffin waiting in my Kindle–she’s one of my favorites (like Liane Moriarty) for lighter, fun reads. On hold: the audio version of Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is FatAfter You, and Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild. I’ll report back!

Happy Monday, sorry about the word vomit, I’ll try to be more eloquent in the future but I have a newborn. Don’t get your hopes up.

 

 

Family · Food · Home · pregnancy

Preparing for Armageddon (or a baby)

I posted some pictures of my meal-prepping endeavors on Insta the other day, and got some questions, so I thought I’d write a post about pre-baby meal prep in our house. Disclaimer: this is not a picture-heavy post because #rawchickenfingers.

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Most of my “meal prep” isn’t meal prep in the traditional sense. I’m not a big fan of crock-pot meals (I know, I know) and the way I cook isn’t usually conducive to one-pot, make-it-and-freeze-it sort of stuff. I wish it were because it’s easier, but I’m a pretty picky eater (read: I have to see all the parts of my food, so soups and casseroles are off the table) and so this is how I make it work for us. Yes, this will be pasta and rice heavy, because my favorite easy recipes usually contain one or the other, and the first few weeks after having a baby is all about ease, comfort, and good fuel.

For me, a lot of it is about the meat. Handling raw meat on the daily is not something I enjoy, and you know how it is with a newborn: anything with germs is like the anti-Christ and must be kept away at all costs! Thus, I prep all of our meat in advance. I do this monthly, although not to this extent.

First, I made batches of chicken parm and plain chicken cutlets. For the chicken parm, dredge in seasoned flour, then a water or milk and egg mixture, then a mixture of panko, Parmesan cheese, Italian herbs like oregano and basil, paprika, garlic, and a little salt and pepper. For the plain chicken cutlets, same deal with flour and egg and then panko plus basil, a little parm, and lots of garlic. Freeze flat on parchment or a silpat or waxed paper, then divvy up into freezer bags. To cook, I bake the chicken parm in the sauce, and I saute the plainer cutlets in butter and olive oil (not the healthiest, but so delicious).

I also bread and freeze these pork chops.

I know that seems like a lot of breading, but serve with a little pasta or wild rice and a lot of veggies (our faves are roasted asparagus or broccoli, or sauteed green beans) and it’s not so bad. I also try and find whole-wheat panko instead of the processed white.

For more “flexible” meat ideas, I dice chicken breast and slice beef and freeze so I can just thaw and throw into stir fry or whatever without actually touching the meat. I like stir fry because it’s heavy on the veggies, light on the junk, and requires minimal effort. I get the big bag of stir-fry veggies from Costco, and make several batches of this sauce which has become our tried-and-true favorite. We eat it with rice or with Asian ramen-y noodles! I also make ahead the sauce for the Pioneer Woman’s Beef and Snow Peas and slice up beef for it. I used to put the whole kit and caboodle in the freezer to eliminate a step, but Bert and I both agree that soy sauce tastes funny when it’s frozen and thawed. Another sauce I made ahead is for this Kung Pao Chicken. Again, it’s a great, easy recipe and you can throw a ton of veggies in!

Since the meat is sliced and the sauce is made, all you have to do is throw rice in a rice cooker or some noodles on the stove (the noodles we like cook in less than four minutes), and throw the rest in a skillet. No knives or cutting boards or effort, really, and you can do a lot of it (not the actual skilleting) with a baby attached to you!

Another sauce I make ahead is the sauce for Simple Sesame Noodles, which I serve with veggies potstickers that I’ve pre-made and frozen, or just purchased from Costco.

A “fancier” meal I sort of prep for those miraculous good days when everything is jiving is fajitas. I pre-marinated some steaks (and arm roasts, I think, this time around) with this recipe, and they can marinate more while they’re thawing and I’m cutting up peppers and onions. But still, not a ton of dealing with meat!

I also do a couple of batches of meatballs, and this time I’m trying my hand at a couple different recipes for lactation cookies and some blueberry oatmeal breakfast bars–I’m hoping Wace likes the bars because he loves blueberry muffins but they’re not the healthiest!

I make sure we have plenty of “Bert Food” too, like frozen burritos and pizzas and roast beef and such, because even though I love cooking for my boys, I can’t always manage it in the crazy postpartum days. He’s super busy this time of year, too, and so it’s nice to know that he’s set. I’ve made sure to have a huge abundance of granola bars, fruit pouches, Naked smoothies, string cheese, peanut butter, juice boxes, whole-wheat bread, protein waffle mix, and fruits and veggies for us all to eat during the day, and try to keep sugar and soda out of the house since I’ll just devour it. When I had Wacey, I kept a stash of mini York Peppermint Patties in the freezer, and I’ll probably do the same this time around–Yorks aren’t as sugary as usual candy bars but totally hit the spot for me, and the peppermint is wonderful since I haven’t eaten anything minty since, like, September. #heartburn.

Other easy dinner ideas: Pasta (we use Bucatini) with Italian Sausage and Herbs, breakfast for dinner with canned or homemade-and-frozen biscuit dough, angel hair with sauteed Canadian bacon and asparagus (Bert eats his with homemade alfredo), pasta primavera with canned or pre-made pesto sauce (Costco has a GREAT one in the refrigerated section, just saute some veggies and chicken and throw it on some pasta with the pesto and BAM), chicken nuggets with mac and cheese when you really just cannot (we get the dino shaped ones from Costco so we obviously cannot on a semi-regular basis), Italian sausage links with pasta or tortellini/ravioli, sauce, and veggies (if you live in CO get Sara’s Sausage, it’s SO good. I know we can get it from either Safeway or Walmart most of the time), and, of course, frozen pizza.

Basically, we’re ready for Armageddon over here, which is pretty unnecessary but gosh it makes me feel good. #TypeAPlanner.

…and no, we haven’t had the baby yet.