How pregnancy ruined me (not really, well kind of)

The tears, oh the tears today!

Like so many things, my emotions are still stuck on pregnant. I was never the type to cry over things I’d read or watch. It had to be something pretty darn emotional or something that was directly impacting me or people I loved to get tears, real live tears from me.

Because, cute kids

Because, cute kids

Not anymore! I see a cute little ant working hard to carry a giant leaf set to some inspirational power ballad and a cutesy “you can do it” quote at the end and I’m a blubbering mess.

It all started about four years ago when I was pregnant with Miles. Granted the serious surge of hormones that is standard with a pregnancy was accompanied by some pretty emotional stuff in my life — my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I moved across the country from my husband (for three months) and great friends (forever), got a new and kind of scary job and then, sadly, lost my dad all within the first seven months after marriage and first four months of pregnancy.

Me and my dad

Me and my dad

So when people would say, “Parenthood is a great show but you’ll probably tear up a little.” What I would actually do was have a near mental breakdown during every episode before my husband, for my own good, deleted the show from the DVR. I wasn’t able to revisit it until just a few months ago. Guess what folks, I almost needed an intervention then too.

Because my emotions — like my internal thermostat — are stuck on pregnant.

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There’s this video that’s going all viral of little kids blindfolded sensing their moms. All of the tears! And seriously people, it was good and tugged at your heart strings, but tears, sobs, sniffles — it shouldn’t be a thing. But it was.

And then about 20 minutes later the Internet, or the source of the Kleenex industry, spits out another tear fest. There was a story about the three things you should ask your child before bed:

  • What is something that made you smile today?
  • What is something that made you cry today?
  • What is something that you learned today?

 

 

Fourth of July parade in Vincennes 2012.

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Again, with the tears. These tears come from a place of, you guessed it, guilt. I can’t escape this five letter word. Miles, nearly 4, doesn’t get as much of my time as he deserves during the week because from the time I get home from work to the time he goes to bed I’m nursing his brother. The 20 or so minutes where that isn’t the case I’m fixing dinner or we are eating dinner. None of it is real quality, momma and Miles time. And I feel bad.

So when I read this I realized it is something I need to do. So to kick that guilt to the curb I’ve vowed to myself to incorporate this into our nightly routine. Even if I’m nursing his brother, Miles can snuggle into my other side and we can have this conversation — EVERY NIGHT

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So pregnancy, you win again. You forever altered my shoe size, my thermostat (yes, it is ALWAYS hot in here) and my whacky emotions. But I suppose my two little boys are worth it.

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Chicken-tastrophe, oh and that thing with our home’s roof too

 

Chickens, happy and peaceful in their coop before "the storm!"

Chickens, happy and peaceful in their coop before “the storm!”

The post-mortem in my house this morning can be seen as a little comical — I’d rather laugh than cry.

Me: “So I’m going to talk to Stephanie about what I should do about the coop and where the chickens can be in the meantime. That sounds like a good plan right? We have to figure out what we are going to do. My poor chickens.”

Him: “Yes, and there is also the matter of the hole in our roof to deal with. I got that.”

Me: “Oh, yes, that’s right.”

Sigh.

Back up about eight sleepless hours to our less-than-fabulous evening. I had checked on my chickens, tucked away snugly in their coop, around 10:45 p.m. There was a storm raging outside but the coop was a nice fortress and protection for the nasty winds, rain and lightning.

I finished up a bit of work, snapped my laptop shut and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. The wind was really whipping. I could hear it whistling through the windows and could almost feel the house shake.

We’d just gone through a nasty storm during the day Tuesday and unfortunately lost a huge section of our roof. It sucked! But the coop stayed strong. We spent a good 24 hours patting ourselves on the back for Michael’s stellar coop-building skills. And then we doled out several hundred dollars to fix the roof on Wednesday because now we are grownups and that’s the yucky stuff we have to do.

While brushing my teeth — I’m not one to really sit still — I wondered into the kitchen closer to Michael’s office where he was working on a story on his computer.

“Thesh sturm sheemz wurst thahn de least one,” I said through my mouthful of toothpaste and toothbrush standing on my tiptoes to see out the window to get one last check on my coop and little chickies.

It was dark and raining SO hard I couldn’t see the coop in the backyard from that window but I had a bad feeling. I moved to the dining room, peeking out the lower windows.

The coop was overturned.

Me, screaming: “My coop is upside down!”

I ran toward the door, toothbrush still in my mouth, pajamas and no shoes with Michael right on my tail.

It was raining SO hard, torrential downpour. And the wind; the wind was crazy. You couldn’t hear anything. It was kind of surreal. And I was in serious panic mode. My chickens — Mocalotive, Choo-Choo, Olive, Stella, Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little — these were my babies. They weren’t just some feathered things we were getting eggs from one of these days. I had grown attached.

And my coop, ah, my coop was so, so cute!

The completed coop

The completed coop

Me, now screaming at the top of my lungs and waving my arms like a crazy person: “We have to flip the coop over! Hurry, we have to flip it over.”

I was prepared to go all Hulk and just pick up this substantial structure and find my chickens safe and dry, chilling underneath.

We both got down on all fours in the mud and muck, rain beating down on us looking for any signs of chickens.

There were none.

Him: “We can’t just flip it over. We might crush them.”

Me, repeatedly, with more tears and even more manic: “No, we have to flip it over!”

Him, much calmer: “Let’s look for them.”

We continued to look through coop rubble and debris from trees but saw nothing.

Him: “Wait, I hear something.”

He points out one lone chicken hiding under a piece of the broken coop. I grab her, plopping her in the feed bucket nearby. But behind her is another chicken. And behind her another. Four chickens piled on top of each other. I nose my way farther into the broken up pieces of wood and find two more chickens.

All were safe!

I run them inside into the garage checking them over again, my breathing returning to a little more normal pace. I go back outside and with Herculean effort flip the coop back over assessing the completely smashed roof.

As the wind continues to try to knock Michael and me over, we decide the coop isn’t safe out there. So we walk it around the house and with the strength of sheer adrenaline I lift my end over my head so we can clear Michael’s car, getting it safely inside the garage.

I got my teenager chickens inside the house, dry them off and gave them a little snuggle before putting them to bed in the basement, in the space they once occupied as chicks.

In the meantime, my responsible, normal, non-chicken-obsessed husband is checking out the house to see if it sustained damage. And of course, it did.

Another section of roof had blown off.

Sigh.

So, here we are, less than eight hours later trying to make sense of the crazy night before.

The roof guy, the same one who replaced a section of the roof on Wednesday, is coming back Saturday to do another job. And while he has an important job in fixing our roof, I’m going to ask if maybe he can fit a reroof of my coop into his busy schedule.

It’s the important things…

Easter memories

There’s a saying in my family, if it happens more than once it is a tradition.

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Well folks, we have an Easter tradition. Michael and I had just moved into our new home just before Easter last year and had my mom, sister, brother-in-law and nephew over for a meal and an egg hunt in the back yard. We did the same thing this year.

A tradition was born.

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There’s nothing fancy or extra special about it, but maybe that is what makes it special. It was a quiet (well can anything be quiet with a 6 month old, 2 year old and 3 year old… NO) low-key day but so much fun.

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Miles, 3, and Charlie, 2, boys played and hunted eggs in the back yard while my mom snuggled Owen, 6 months. Sarah and I “hid” eggs throughout the yard as Michael grilled and Chris, Sarah’s husband, helped wrangle the kiddos.

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This year we added some chickens and a new baby to the mix but it was pretty similar to last year’s celebration.

I loved it!

And Easter Sunday we followed a tradition too. Last year we attended Aldersgate United Methodist Church with my sister and her in-laws. Michael and I and the boys started regularly attending the church a few months ago and returned again this Easter Sunday, this time feeling a little less like strangers. It was a nice service and Miles, shockingly, was able to stay quiet throughout the more than hour long service.

The church has a tradition of its own, the children "flower the cross" at the beginning of the ceremony. Miles helped.

The church has a tradition of its own, the children “flower the cross” at the beginning of the ceremony. Miles helped.

I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to create and make memories and form our own traditions with my own little family and my extended family.

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Hope Easter was a great one for you too!

So the boys took a little trip…

… and forgot to take the rest of us.

They started out small and decided to go visit their Ema in Vincennes and stopped by the George Rogers Clark memorial.

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Owen wasn’t too impressed so they moved on to visit with their buddy Abbey Nickel in Ohio.

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After hanging out on the farm, they wanted to check out something a little more exotic. They asked me about my past travels and decided to head over to Bangladesh to visit some of my old friends.

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There were a few too many people, and they were looking for something a little more metropolitan so they hopped on a jet making their way to Paris where they checked out all the sites and museums (my kiddos are so very cultural.)

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Having enough of the actual Eiffel Tower, Miles suggested they check out the fake tower along with several other sites and take in a little gambling, so the boys hit the Vegas Strip.

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The trip was a little much for Owen, so he asked Miles if they could maybe go take a break at their MeMe and PawPaw’s house in Louisiana. But you know 3 year olds, they can’t skip a parade, so of course the two stopped on Bourbon to take in a little Mardi Gras magic. “Throw me something mister!”

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The saying, “What happens on Bourbon Street stays on Bourbon Street” isn’t always true. They had to give me a call to bail them out.

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These earthly adventures were fun and all for the Doyle boys, but they had a yearning for more. They knew some where out there more adventure was to be had…

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After travelling back in time and participating in the moon walk, Miles and Owen thought they should go check out their momma’s namesake — Abbey Road.

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The guys weren’t too talkative just mumbling about some record they had to get to work on. John did flash a peace sign before they took off for their next adventure — Hollywood.

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“If we can’t make it in Hollywood, well then we should go to the beach,” Miles said.

OCEAN

 

I hope Michael and I can join them there soon. Cool blue oceans!

 

 

Managing expectations

I was editing something for a non-profit I’m involved in, Project Reveal, this morning about expectations and it got me to thinking about my own.

The woman we spoke with talked about how she’d built her life up around expectations but that she only was able to enjoy life when she let go of them and really experienced her world free of them.

That’s a pretty powerful concept. We all have these huge expectations. And expectations can come in lots of forms: hopes, dreams, goals, aspirations… While it is good to have goals and things we want to work toward I think the position we often, well let me stop there and just start speaking for myself, I often find myself in is that I lose track of working toward a positive goal and instead start criticizing myself for not meeting that expectation.

It went from a goal of, “I want to be a more engaged and present mom in the evenings after work” to “I am failing at being there for my boys because I answered those work e-mails and took that phone call.”

Having a plan and a goal is a wonderful thing. I LOVE a plan. But I’m still working on letting go of it if things don’t work out or go as planned — from the simple things such as having a meal out where my kiddos don’t cause a scene to the bigger expectations of being meaningfully engaged in my family, at work and in the community while still having time to breath, I need to loosen up the expectations and give myself a little grace.

Let go of the expectations and gain a little peace.

One day at a time!

I used to be so much fun

There’s this app on my phone called TimeHop, it allows you to see what you were doing this time one, two, three, four, etc. years ago.
I both love and hate the thing.
Sometimes when something pops up from six years ago, I sigh and say, “I used to be so much fun!”
The features department is a small group and two of the four of us are in their early to mid-20s. They are a lot of fun still. And when I hear stories about all their weekend antics I’m like, “aww man, I used to do stuff like that.”
We rented a water slide for our "pre-rehearsal" cookout and did it without the water.

We rented a water slide for our “pre-rehearsal” cookout and did it without the water.

Bounce house for my 28th birthday

Bounce house for my 28th birthday

Seriously guys, I was a lot of fun. Here’s a few examples — for my 28th birthday we rented a giant bouncy house for the backyard for me and all of our friends. For my now-husband’s birthday (also the same night he proposed to me) we rented a giant inflatable water slide and played on it ALL night long with about 30 friends (dish soap even got involved.) We had parties for nearly every occasion, and my crazy friend Jodi usually ensured that fireworks were a part of every celebration. I even hosted a 1920s-themed murder mystery party where I transformed my house into a bordello.
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The squierrel I rescued and had to keep with me and warm until the wildlife rehabber could get him. He even went with me on a few assignments.

The squierrel I rescued and had to keep with me and warm until the wildlife rehabber could get him. He even went with me on a few assignments.

The antics didn’t stop at parties. I’ve kind of always been a bit eccentric. I had a pair of full-sized mannequin legs rescued from a department store that I’d transformed into a lamp complete with high heels and fishnet stockings. I had a room devoted to my accessories, yes a room — my shoe room. I had the space (a three-bedroom house for just me) and it was just silly enough to be something I’d do. I had an entire large Rubbermaid tote filled with adult dress up clothes (there were occasions). I went to “Rocky Horror” dressed up. We had mock fashion shows and photo shoots in the middle of the night. I could always find a reason to wear a boa.
I rocked those socks.

I rocked those socks.

My funky style still is showcased on special days.

My funky style still is showcased on special days.

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Michael and I used to do all kinds of silly things. He, of course, rolled his eyes through most of it but I know was having a great time. We “borrowed” an old office chair from the newspaper we worked for and stayed up until 7 a.m. reupholstering it before getting a greasy diner breakfast and then sleeping until 3 p.m. the next day. I forced him to go on plenty of adventures, including an alligator hunt where I ended up kissing a gator. Outings often included a picnic lunch. One date even ended with a tow truck — that’s a story all by itself.
Late night chair redecorating.

Late night chair redecorating.

Kissing a gator

Kissing a gator

The date that ended with a tow truck.

The date that ended with a tow truck.

I was the fun one at the office, making cake for everyone’s birthday, the center of every laugh fest and just the general goofball whose goal was to make everybody have a good time, especially when they were having a bad day. I did things like make silly kid crafts (with pom-poms and googly eyes) with a co-worker and then leaving one for every single person in the office in the middle of the night so they could be surprised the next morning. Or picking out a “spirit animal” for all of the people in the newsroom and leaving a stuffed version of it on their desk.
Birthday cake!

Birthday cake!

One of the infamous tots.

One of the infamous tots.

There were stuffed tater tots that lined my desk, which often were the subject of various kidnapping plots. I remember packing my car to the rooftop with supplies for ONE night at a friend’s cabin and my dog coming along, barely room to turn around.
Gear for one night camping and the dog.

Gear for one night camping and the dog.

Enjoying gumbo after having a drink at 9 a.m. during a traditional Mardi Gras celebration in South Louisiana with my mom.

Enjoying gumbo after having a drink at 9 a.m. during a traditional Mardi Gras celebration in South Louisiana with my mom.

Writing out all of this makes me wistful for those crazy days filled with silly antics. We had some epic times.
But, while I miss many of those things and would love to repeat many of them, I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for my “crazy” times today. I LOVE being a mom. I loved being the center of my social circle throwing fun parties and doing silly things, but being the center of my boys’ world is so much cooler.
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And you know what, the other day Miles crawled up into my lap and gave me a giant hug and said, “You’re my best friend!” I just about melted. He was SO excited because I was going to be with him “all night long.” He tells me all the time that I’m the best and so much fun.
Miles painting in the nude.

Miles painting in the nude.

Swinging at the park with Miles and Owen.

Swinging at the park with Miles and Owen.

We do things like have dance parties in the middle of the living room rocking out so hard to “Yo Gabba Gabba” that we make the breakables on the mantle jingle. We make scented play-dough from scratch. I let him paint using his fingers! We go for bike rides. We laugh until our bellies hurt saying things like “poop trash” and “home” for still-unknown reasons. With less than 24 hours notice, I booked tickets for Christmas Eve at an indoor water park. I let him eat the occasional marshmallow and chocolate chip. I ride the spinny rides with him. I listen, I snuggle, I care.
Spur of the moment Christmas trip.

Spur of the moment Christmas trip.

Climbing in the tunnel with Miles.

Climbing in the tunnel with Miles.

We sing silly, crazy songs. We try to have mini-adventures each weekend doing things like going to festivals or the museum or digging around in the backyard. We are raising chickens, just because.
Unplanned swimming adventure.

Unplanned swimming adventure.

Playing in the dirt and rain.

Playing in the dirt and rain.

I am still that same old crazy, eccentric, giggly gal. When asking Michael to help me think of some of the silly things we did in the “old days” and some that we do today, this is what he said (cue waterworks):
“Just being quirky and off-center in general, that’s one of the things that first struck me about you, that you were willing to put yourself out there and not be afraid of looking goofy or whatever. It is one of the main reasons I love you. It’s still there, you just don’t have as much time and energy to show it off as you used to. That is to be expected. But that is what draws people to you. One of the things that first attracted me to you is your laugh, and the reason I fell in love with you is because you were a lot of fun and got me to do and experience things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.”
Awww! I don’t think I can top that. So yes, I guess I am still fun, it just looks a little different.
See, we can still have fun, even without the kids!

See, we can still have fun, even without the kids!

Family photo

Family photo

How has your “fun” changed with kids over the years? How do you make sure that you keep that fun still alive when things get crazy busy?​

Picking up, I mean out, chicks

So the chicken dreams have become a reality.

I think Michael is calling them his chicken nightmares, but that’s another blog post altogether.

Miles and I headed over to Rural King to pick out some chicks. I’d gone myself a few weekends ago and checked out the cute, tiny chicks there. And then went last week twice — once with Miles and once with my chicken guru/awesome friend Stephanie. The chicks then were still on the little side but looking much less fragile.

 

Meet our toddler chicks -- Mocalotive, Choo Choo, Stella, Olive, Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little

Meet our toddler chicks — Mocalotive, Choo Choo, Stella, Olive, Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little

With Stephanie by my side last week — Owen sleeping snugly against my chest, oblivious to the monumental chicken lesson going on around him — I loaded up my cart with all the chick necessities. I grabbed pine shavings for bedding, chick feed, heat lamp and bulb, a chick feeder and water dish and a few other miscellaneous items. Stephanie loaded me down not only with supplies, but chicken knowledge.

I’ve done my fair share of chicken research (too much my husband says) but nothing compares to firsthand experience from my own personal chicken virtuoso. Stephanie said she’s excited to have her own personal chicken apprentice. We are going to establish our own chicken journeyman certification through this whole process.

So two weekends ago was filled with all the technical stuff — supplies and knowledge. When Saturday finally rolled around I was ready to get my hands on some chicks!
So back to heading over to Rural King … the selection of breeds was a little lighter than I’d hoped but there were plenty of chicks there ready to find a good home. And instead of being tiny, cute, itty-bitty chicks they were more like toddler chicks. Don’t get me wrong, they were still awfully adorable. A bit of me was a little sad but then I remembered just how fragile Stephanie had described the newborn chicks and the extra tedious (and sometimes icky) tasks that goes along with them. So I celebrated my decision to wait until the chicks were about four weeks old to pick them up. My biggest disappointment was kind of a trivial one — I really wanted the Ameraucana breed chicks because their eggs are a neat blue/green hue.

The two breeds that they had pullets (female chicks) in were Silver Wyandotte and Light Brahmas. Miles and I scoped out the bins walking around a few times. He excitedly dipped his hand inside causing the sea of chicks to run in the opposite direction. I found a chick box and started selecting our future little chickies.

My process was, as should be expected from me, a little different. I didn’t just grab the first three from each bin that I could then called it a day. I wanted Miles to be able to select a few.

I was too distracted by my tiny helper to get any pictures during the actual chick picking stage. But here they are ready to go home.

I was too distracted by my tiny helper to get any pictures during the actual chick picking stage. But here they are ready to go home.

“That one,” he excitedly said. “That one with the speckle, right there. That one, that one!”
So of course, I HAD to get THAT one. My hands darted up and down the metal tub trying to grasp what must have been the fastest, sneakiest of the bunch. Each requested chicken was more elusive than the last.

After he’d selected four, I wiped the sweat from my brow and decided that last two I would pick out. I overheard two employees talking about needing to separate a few chicks because some had gotten picked on. AWWW! So of course I mosey over there eavesdropping and then just butt right on in.
“Which two are the most picked on?” I asked, tears almost welling in my silly eyes. “Let me rescue them!”
They, of course, laughed at me causing my little monkey-see, monkey-do little guy laugh hysterically.

“Mama, you are SO silly!” he cried, practically rolling on the floor.

Kid, it wasn’t that funny.

Anyway, the high school kid employees go to great lengths (seriously, one of them even stepped in the bin to track down this poor, feather missing chick) to procure the bullied chicks for me.

Done!

I had my six chicks, a 3-year-old and said 3-year-old’s stuffed owl that he INSISTED come into the store with us. And no cart. Yep, you read that correctly. It’s like I’m a glutton for punishment.

So as I surmise the situation — three little cartons of live chicks, a squirmy kid who does not want to leave the chicken area of the store and a stuffed animal that said kid will now no longer have anything to do with — I start to come up with the most plausible out, bribery.

“Hey Miles, if we go home we can get a special treat!”

“What treat? Nevermind, I don’t want a treat. I want to stay here! I want to be with the chickens and the bunnies. I want to stay ALL DAY LONG!”

“When we get home we have our own chickens that we can play with.”

“But mom, there’s lots of chickens right here!”

Desperate I look around.

The yellow, painted chicken tracks leading from the front door back to the chicks catch my eye. Yes.

“Miles, let’s follow the duck path!”

“Oh, OK!”

Easy, peasy.

We miraculously make it to the car with six still-alive chicks and get everything back in the house and set up. Miles names two chicks — Mocalotive and Choo Choo; Michael begrudgingly threw two literary chicken names in the mix — Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little; and I used girl names that I loved when we were having babies — Olive and Stella.

Chicks in their mood lighting.

Chicks in their mood lighting.

The little chicks seem pretty happy. Right now they are cozy in an oversized tote in our basement complete with a red heat-bulb keeping them toast. Michael put together the coop Sunday afternoon as Miles played and Owen cooed in the sun.

So far all is good on the Doyle farm. I’ll update you when the chicks have made their way outside.​

The directions for assembling the coop were one page of pictures... no words. And he used all the pieces and lost no limbs! Good job honey!

The directions for assembling the coop were one page of pictures… no words. And he used all the pieces and lost no limbs! Good job honey!

The completed coop

The completed coop

We’re the same!

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Everyone assumes my twin sister and I grew up being dressed alike all the time. Nope, it happened once and that’s it. People often bought us matching outfits or the same outfit in different colors but we never wore them at the same time. My parents were pretty particular about ensuring we had our own individuality and all that jazz.

With all that being said, it is ridiculous how much I love to put my boys in the same outfit or how much my mom enjoys having all three of her grandsons in the same outfit. It is seriously SO cute.

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We don’t do it all that often but every time we do Miles gets the biggest kick out of it.

“We’re the same,” he’ll shout excitedly. “The same, the same, the same!”

Then he likes to quiz us, like they quiz him at school.

“Are we the same, or different? Same or different?”

Revel in the cuteness that is “SAME!”

same same3 same2