Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Leftover Enchiladas

Today I found myself with a fridge full of stuff. We were loaded. We went to a hastily-arranged dinner at a parishioner’s house last night and she sent us home with two grocery bags full of food, plus we already had stuff from our recent grocery trip and leftovers from the past couple nights. The inventory this morning included: pot roast, fajita chicken, guacamole with two more avocados ripening on the counter, cheese both shredded and block, a zillion tortillas of several varieties, super spicy salsa, not as spicy salsa, two different kinds of chili, plus the other normal fridge stuff like eggs and milk and weird lunch meat turkey and apparently two tablespoons of leftover curry rice from forever ago.

So I did the only thing a girl can do in this situation. I made enchiladas. I have a good recipe for enchiladas that uses beef and refried beans as the basic filling so I adapted that. I shredded the pot roast beef and the fajita chicken. We can think of what to do with pot roast potatoes tomorrow. I used the vegetarian chili to fill out the insides of my enchiladas. I used up both kinds of salsa. Some of the corn variety of tortillas (sadly not even all of the corn tortillas). I sprinkled with shredded cheese. We served with guacamole and plain yogurt. It turned out delicious.

So what if there was both beef and chicken. Vegetarian chili with lentils, two kinds of bean, and sweet potatoes is sorely underused as enchilada filling, in my opinion.

I could give you the recipe, but I’m sure you already know what to do.

1. Saute a diced up onion in a large pan.

2. Add some meat. Whatever kind of meat. Several different meats. Even pot roast, but probably not weird lunch meat turkey.

3. Add something wet, like vegetarian chili or thick soup or refried beans if you want to be boring. Maybe I should have put in two tablespoons of curry rice.

4. Season the stuff if it’s lacking.

5. Dump some salsa in a large baking dish so your enchiladas don’t stick too bad. Fill your tortillas with stuff and put them in the dish. Top with any remaining filling and some more salsa. Sprinkle a ton of cheese on top.

6. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Serve with whatever. Salsa, sour cream or yogurt, guacamole, chip dip, melted velveeta, or whatever. Done. Delish.

Do you really want to see a picture? Cuz I don’t think that would help my case that these things are delicious. After all, they’re called leftover enchiladas.

Actually my favorite part about “leftover enchiladas” is that you get to say, “Honey, we’re having leftover enchiladas for dinner” the first time you make them. Then if you serve them again (and you will, unless like 10 people are eating them the first time), you get to say, “Honey, we’re having leftover leftover enchiladas for dinner.” And that is just fun. It appeals to my sense of the ridiculous.

I really enjoy being creative in the kitchen. Now the big puzzle remaining for me is what to do with the rest of the zillion tortillas…

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Stephen Continues to do Cute Stuff

It’s very late already and I’m just now getting to write a post for today.

Here is a picture of Stephen playing piano:

stephen playing piano


Also today had a moment that I think will turn out to be one of the defining moments of Stephen’s life. We were in the parking lot when Jeremy pulled up on his motorcycle. Stephen got to see Jeremy pull into the parking space and turn off the bike, and take off his helmet. Whoa. It was awesome. Stephen “talked” about it the whole way up to our apartment. He kept babbling and stopping every few steps to point back to the bike and go “brr, brrr.” Then when we got upstairs I showed Stephen one of Jeremy’s motorcycle magazines and he flipped through the pages goings “brr, brr” at every picture of a bike.

Here’s a video of Stephen helping me clean the bathroom, one of his favorite activities:


I hope you enjoy my cutie patootie.

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I’m writing a really good post in my head right now, but it’s not ready yet. So I’m going to fill in with a couple sub-ideas that are going on.

A big task I have to do tonight, if I have time before bed, is balance the checkbook. Jeremy is going to get his severance pay in one big lump and it would be helpful to know what we already have when it comes time to divvy up what will be our last income for a while. We do have a bit in savings (Thank you, Dave Ramsey!). We put together what Dave calls the “baby emergency fund” back when we first started getting our accounts in order: $1,000 in a savings account that you don’t ever touch except for emergencies. We also opened a totally separate savings account for sinking funds, like saving up to buy new furniture, or a replacement car, or saving for home repairs that may come up in the future. Then when we sold our house back in January, we used some of the meager proceeds to buy Jeremy’s motorcycle then put the rest in the emergency fund so we would definitely have it later when we would need it. We didn’t have any emergencies along the way, which is good.

So we are by no means flat broke, which is a huge relief. But. We are looking at some serious outlays that do have me worried.

First of all, it’s time to file taxes. Unlike many people who look forward to this time of year, we dread it because we always have to pay. Jeremy was technically a self-employed contractor editing for Magnificat magazine, so his paychecks from there never withheld anything. The past couple years, even though we bumped up the withholdings on our other jobs’ paychecks, we still owed about $2,000 in combined taxes to state and federal. When we moved to New Mexico, Jeremy bumped his tax withholdings at his salaried position way up to compensate further, but I’m not too certain it was enough to eliminate our tax payment. All I can realistically hope for is that the damage isn’t too severe. Thank God the sale of our house didn’t close until January 2013. So at least we don’t have to deal with that right now. We just have to mess with filing in two different states.

Second, since we are breaking our 12 month lease early, we have to pay a penalty. We also have to pay back the promotional free month of rent we got for signing a 12 month lease. That is going to be significant. Apparently, losing your job and moving for health reasons aren’t good enough reasons to waive the penalty. The only thing that will do it is a letter from my doctor saying I must move for my health.

Third, moving itself is going to cost a pretty penny. The cheapest option of course is the least convenient. We still need to decide how we want to handle the move.

I think we will come out in the black after all is said and done IF we don’t owe a ton for taxes and IF we can convince the apartment manager to cut us break. It may be possible. Jeremy suggested we pray a novena to Saint Matthew. You know, the former tax collector. He was only half joking.

So if you’ve talked to me lately and were confused about why we’re moving–is it for the baby or for finances?–I hope this kind of clears it up. We are moving because we had been intending to move anyway, just not this soon. My doctor said we should move now rather than wait for the baby to be born. But I am concerned about our financial picture. I think it will turn out okay, but like I said, there are some “ifs” about it.

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…Don’t Say Nothin’ At All

So, I can’t really write a post about what’s been going on and what I’ve been thinking about because


But pretty much:

this shit sucks


Sorry. I don’t usually like to swear in public. And seriously, our exit from New Mexico is not getting off to a smooth start. If there’s anything else that could happen to us right now, I fully expect it to. The bad news brigade is starting to queue up and take numbers. Next in line, please!



Land of Enchantment, indeed. The past few weeks/months have felt like

mistakes poster


We’re just shaving years off of purgatory like crazy all up in here.

But don’t get me wrong! There have been lots of great things about our time here, too. And even amidst these rocky times, things like this still happen:

stephen in my shoes


And that truly brings a smile to my face. Then it’s easier to remember that life hasn’t always been hard, and the trouble won’t last forever. It will get better soon. After all

every cloud has a silver lining

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What I Wore Sunday: March 17 and BIG NEWS

Once again I am joining for the weekly link up. Make sure you read to the end of this post for some big news that I was planning to break tomorrow but what the heck, why wait?

Anyway, on to the clothes!sunday 3-17-13

I’m wearing dedicated maternity clothes more and more these days since finally I am starting to actually appear pregnant, at about 25 weeks now.

Veil: oops. I forgot we were taking a picture so the veil came off on the way in the door. I usually pin it for mass but here I just draped in on my head. See, it’s already sliding off my hair after a few brief moments.

Shirt: Planet Motherhood. “Embrace the future,” it says on the tag, with a picture of a heart-shaped globe thing. Doesn’t that just make you feel warm and fuzzy? I got this second hand from who-knows-where.

Skirt: The tag says Bobbie Brooks. Also second hand from who-knows-where. I don’t know, these things are just in my closet.

Shoes: I actually do remember buying these at Target. They are Xhilaration. I like the flowers on the toes. And they’re pink!

Again, I tried to get a photo with my darling boy: sunday 3-17-13 with Stephen




Oops, I just published the post when it was half done.


Now for the BIG NEWS:

Jeremy and I are moving to Ohio in one month. This is how it happened, told in a purely factual narrative, with no editorials:

Our lont-term family goal was to move closer to my parents in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. A lot of my extended family lives near there, and Akron is a really nice city with a super-reasonable cost of living.

When we moved to New Mexico, we realized pretty quickly that maybe it wasn’t the best for our family so we decided to give Jeremy’s job at least a year while we saved up and planned for the future. Then we would move in the fall of 2013 sometime after our baby was born.

Then we found out that our baby is not exactly healthy and will require extensive care after birth. Our doctors advised us to move sooner rather than later if moving is what we wanted to do. We agreed that it would probably be best to move before our baby is born.

On Monday 3/11/13, Jeremy contacted his boss and asked for a meeting to give him a letter. His boss said he couldn’t meet, so Jeremy left the letter in his boss’ mailbox at the office. It was his 30 day notice resignation letter.

On Thursday 3/14/13, Jeremy sees that his boss has finally taken his mail, so he sends a follow-up email “did you get my letter?” His boss says yes, and will send a formal email response. [Just to clarify, Jeremy’s boss is rarely at the office so the employees do almost all communication with him via email, text, or phone calls.]

On Saturday 3/16/13, Jeremy’s boss sends the response email that tells Jeremy to clear out his office and turn in office keys by 9:00am Monday 3/18/13. His boss is offering pay through April 3, but Jeremy is to cease all official function as an employee immediately.

So yesterday afternoon, we went to Jeremy’s office and cleared it. Then we got Chinese take-out and came home to drink beer and watch The Muppet Movie. If you want more words around the story, you’ll have to ask me in person to get the extended special edition.

As a side-note, we had been praying a novena to Saint Maria Goretti on behalf of our baby, and yesterday was the last day of the novena. So…I’m thinking….maybe it’s a miracle? Or maybe a coincidence. God only gives you what you really need, after all.


Baking with Babies

Today I baked some cookies and I let Stephen help me. Okay, I did it while we were home alone this morning and I was hoping this activity would keep him interested for a while and eat up some of our morning. And it worked. He was actually pretty excited to help!

We put on aprons. I folded Jeremy’s apron so it wouldn’t drag on the floor when Stephen wore it. I pulled a kid stool over to the kitchen counter so Stephen could stand on it and see what I was doing. I showed him the stuff I put in the mixing bowl. I let him try to stir the butter and sugar together. I gave him a taste of creamed butter and sugar. Then he wanted a taste of every subsequent step, but that was okay. It was pretty easy to deflect his reaching finger.

His favorite part was dumping the cups of rolled oats into the mixing bowl. I would pour the oats into the cup measure, hold the mixing bowl down where Stephen could reach, and help him flip the cup so the oats dumped into the bowl. The recipe called for 3 cups of oats. 3 cups of awesome.

I spilled some chocolate chips on the counter when I measured those out. Stephen put a couple back in the cup for me, but he also ate one or two. I didn’t mind.

The most difficult part for him was watching me spoon lumps of cookie dough onto the baking sheet. He really wanted to grab a cookie!

Luckily he didn’t start losing attention until the first batch went in the oven. Frankly, I’m surprised he lasted that long. Oh well, I guess it’s time to admit to myself that I’m just an awesome mom who thinks of really engaging activities full of teachable moments.

Don’t worry, I did give him a delicious cookie after the first batch cooled enough to eat. It was a pretty fun morning. And he is totally my baking good luck charm now. This is the first time in, like, ever that I have made exactly as many cookies as the recipe claims I will be able to make. 6 dozen, boom baby!

I had fully intended to make Jeremy take a picture of us in our aprons so I could post it with this blog entry, but the afternoon totally got away from us for reasons that I will divulge possibly on Monday or Tuesday. All I’ll say is the evening ended with Chinese take out and The Muppet Movie on Netflix. And beer.

Time for another. Again, don’t worry. My big bad pregnant self is drinking O’douls tonight.


7 Quick Takes Friday March 15

Today I’m joining Jennifer at Conversion Diary and all the fine bloggers for a quick takes Friday link up. Head over there to read some other quick takes!


1. Today we went to Savers to buy Stephen a new wardrobe. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but toddlers grow really fast. The last time it was warm enough to wear shorts and t-shirts all day and then go to bed without the fleecy sleeper, Stephen was like half the size he is now. So we stocked up, all for under $30. Ka-ching. That even includes a nice dress for me! I love shopping at thrift stores. I got a catalogue in the mail today for maternity clothes, and I’m looking at the $35 dresses thinking they are sooo expensive. Then Jeremy comes home and says, “huh. I don’t think they’re that expensive.” I guess I’m just spoiled by Savers and Goodwill.

2. Maybe it’s a pregnancy skin condition, or maybe it’s the dry mountain air, but my face has never ever been so dry as it has been the past couple weeks. Sure, I’ve dealt with the occasional patch of dry skin, but even in the depths of a Minnesota winter I’ve never had visibly flaking skin all over my face. I’m sorry if that’s gross for you, but it’s really bugging me. No matter how much I use the exfoliating face wash and smear lotion, the dryness won’t go away. If anyone has a tip, I am all ears.

3. I think my cat has a mental disorder. He bites his back until it bleeds, then he keeps licking it and messing with it so it takes forever to heal. He does this mostly when we leave him alone for a while. We first noticed it when we moved to New Mexico and we had him in a kennel for about a week because we were packing and moving and arranging to air-ship him to our new home. Then a couple weeks ago, I was in Ohio and Jeremy went on a retreat for the weekend, and the cat did it again even though we hired a very attentive cat sitter for the two days the cat would be home alone. I’m not saying the cat isn’t strange in other ways, but I’m pretty sure this is the only actually clinical disorder I’ve noticed. I wonder if the veterinarian will diagnose mental disorders in cats…

4. So yesterday was Pi Day, because it was 3-14. Jeremy and I were going to get pie from the Village Inn yesterday after dinner, but it didn’t work out. So we got some tonight! It’s waiting for me right now, patiently sitting in its little take out box. Village Inn has legendary pies apparently. We read about them on the table tent the first time we went there to eat. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, we didn’t save any room for pie. So we vowed to partake of the pie on our next visit. That didn’t work either! So we vowed again. I think we might actually fulfill our promise to the pie this evening. I better hurry up and finish writing!

5. Jeremy and I have been watching Mad Men on Netflix. We are just now finishing the fifth season with one episode remaining. Gosh, why did it get so depressing?

6. When Jeremy and I found out about our baby’s ventriculomegaly, we started a novena to Saint Maria Goretti and we got a mini miracle. The blood test that tests for chromosomal abnormality failed the first time! Which I guess hardly ever happens. So I submitted a fresh vial of blood, and the test came back negative! The first test failure and the resubmission all happened within our novena. At the follow-up appointment when we learned more about the condition and how serious it could possibly turn out, we started a second novena. Today was the eighth day. I’m expecting great things for our little one, with our prayers in the arms of sweet Saint Maria!

7. Stephen has been helping us pray the rosary and our novena in the morning. We pass out rosaries (he gets a knotted cord one) and make the sign of the cross. Then we begin and Stephen pays a little attention, or runs off to chase the kitty, or plays with toys in the room. When we get close to the end, like to the “Hail, Holy Queen” prayer, he comes back and grabs his rosary again, and sits on the couch by us, and prays with us to the end. He makes the sign of the cross and kisses the cross on his rosary, complete with lip smacking sound. Then we all give our rosaries to Jeremy to put away, except Stephen always wants his back right away. Then we go eat breakfast. It’s a very nice morning routine, and I’m very glad Stephen enjoys participating.

The end. Time for pie.


Stephen, the Strange and Wonderful

I just wanted to write a little post about how strange my child is. A couple days ago I wrote about how he is a very sweet little boy, but you should also know that he is also very odd. Today I witnessed an event that truly encapsulates this reality: We were watching EWTN in the middle of the afternoon (hoping for pope coverage and instead we got Cat Chat), and the Divine Mercy Chaplet for kids came on. This is a line drawing animated cartoon featuring Saint Faustina and five young children. She teaches them to pray the chaplet and the words scroll along the bottom of the screen so all you kids can pray along at home. During each decade, the show plays cartoon scenes from the Passion of Jesus. Stephen thought these were hilarious. Like, the scourging. Laughter. Jesus falls and the cross falls on top of him. So funny. I admit I was a bit disturbed. But is it wrong that laughed too, just because Stephen was laughing?

Now a handy numerical list to organize a few more odd things about my child.

1. He guzzles apple juice like there’s an amped-up college kid chanting “chug, chug, chug, chug” in the room.

2. His bed head is amazing. That’s how we know it’s about time to cut his hair, is when his bed head gets wild.

3. He adores helping take out the trash. He always wants to carry his dirty diaper from the bathroom and throw it in the garbage can under the kitchen sink. If he finds a torn paper or a bit of grit on the floor, he runs with it into the kitchen, opens the cupboard as far as he can (not far; there’s a safety latch on it), and drops the item “into” the garbage. When it’s time to change the bag in the can, joy of joys. He gets to yank a fresh bag out of the box and help shake it out, then he gets to help stuff it in the can and put the can back in the cupboard. God forbid either Jeremy or I change the bag without Stephen.

4. New fun game: mommy or daddy put up their feet on the ottoman. Stephen bumps his tummy up against the leg, then flips himself over and slithers down the other side, landing face-first on the floor. Repeat.

5. He sings along at church. When we all stand up to sing a hymn, he claims a hymnal and flips it open. Then he “sings.” Cutest thing ever. He also likes to pull out my songbooks at home and flip through the pages “singing.” This is especially cute when he’s flipping through my Graduale Romanum.

6. And one more for the grandmas. He likes to “talk” on the “phone.” This could be a real phone that is either connected or not, or a block, or a small notepad, or a plastic panda bear, or anything else you hold up to your ear and say, “hello?”

There are plenty of other wonderful and strange things about Stephen, but these are the ones I could think of right off the top of my head. I bet those of you who have kids have some great stories about your babies! What strange things do they do?

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Surprise! I’m Writing about the Pope

Okay, so how could I not write about the election of the new pope today? I had planned to join this link up with a post about decorating my living room, but then the pope had to go and get himself elected and all, and now I have to write about that.

No, actually I am super-duper, extremely jazzed to write about the pope! I have been obsessed–I don’t want to say obsessed but I’ve been obsessed–with the papal election conclave that started yesterday. Pretty much as soon as I recovered from the news that Pope Emeritus Benedict was retiring, I started to get excited about the election of a new pope. In 2005, I wasn’t actually engaged in my faith, and I don’t remember the death of Blessed John Paul II and the subsequent election of Benedict being a huge deal for me. They were guys important to me because they were Popes, but I didn’t really feel a personal connection to either of them, or really know much about them. Especially, Benedict was a mystery to me since I had no knowledge of who Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was or what he did, or the books he had written or the theology classes he had taught. Right, and I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school until I was 13, and my dad took me to mass every weekend, and I was deeply involved in my local college campus church music ministry. We’ll leave a discourse on the sad sad state of Catholic Catechesis for another post.

Anyway, so I guess this time, I was making up for my lack of enthusiasm in 2005. I’m sure my dear sweet husband did in fact get tired of me asking, “So when is the next vote going to happen?” “Is it very likely they will pick a pope during this ballot?” “Who are the favorite cardinals?”

He didn’t act sick of me, but I know he was. I even got that pope alarm thing for my cell phone (“What if the alarm goes off in the middle of the night?” “Can we get up and watch the announcement and then go back to bed?” “What if I sleep through the alarm?” “What if my alarm doesn’t work and we miss the announcement of the new pope? sniffle sniffle.”) He got the pope alarm too, so I’m sure we were covered, but, you know.

We took a quick trip to Costco this morning, but I made sure to stipulate that we be home with the T.V. turned on in time to catch the black smoke/white smoke. (“If the smoke goes off while we’re in Costco, we won’t be able to watch!” “Maybe we could go to the Catholic bookstore after Costco and they’ll be following the story.”)

We just barely made it home in time…


white smoke

I was so happy. I can’t remember the last time I felt that happy, so happy I was almost crying and I did a little dance. Even Stephen was really excited. He was dancing around the living room too, clapping whenever a cheer went up on T.V. and watching me and Jeremy and laughing.

Then we waited for an hour, biting our nails. I didn’t actually know who any of the cardinal electors were, except the five or six super famous ones who are always in the news. But I was still excited to see the Big Reveal.

When the cardinal deacon guy came out to make the announcement, I admit it was a bit anti-climactic because I didn’t recognize the name. Jeremy and I looked at the new pope’s picture in our diocesan paper and were like “huh.” But then the commentator said “Archbishop of Buenos Aires” and Jeremy remembered that this was the cardinal he’s been praying for with that Adopt-a-Cardinal thing! He told me he could never remember the guy’s name, so he just prayed for the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Neat, isn’t it?

Then Pope Francis walked out on the balcony and I had a weird disorienting feeling because I was looking at a guy wearing white and it wasn’t Benedict. He gave a beautiful address and blessed the people with the traditional first blessing of a new pope and that was that. More misty happy tears.

pope francis

I do have a few final comments.

1) He is going to be great because he has a lot of cred with “conservative” and “liberal” Catholics alike. He’s outspoken on abortion and traditional marriage, but also very passionate about serving the poor and social justice.

2) We had better be prepared for endless comments from mainstream media about how he should just retire already. He’s old–nearly as old as Benedict was when he was elected. And as Archbishop, he’s already ticked off some media outlets with his orthodoxy regarding Catholic social teachings. We can be sure that any time Pope Francis says something against abortion, or gay-marriage, or ordination of women, or whatever, newscasters the world over will collectively shout “RETIRE!”

3) This is an amazing time to be Catholic. We have a cool new pope from South America, and we have a cool retired pope praying for the Church as his job. I think there are wonderful things ahead for the Church.

I can’t wait to see what happens.


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My Child is Actually Very Sweet

It’s true. I am the first person to admit that my little boy Stephen is a good-natured, easy-going, happy, helpful, agreeable little munchkin. He can entertain himself for goodly stretches of time, he allows me to cuddle him in certain circumstances, he doesn’t get sick very often, he always sleeps through the night, he takes a nap about 60 percent of the times I try to get him to nap. I really love my little boy. I know I am lucky to have such an “easy” baby for my first child.

Of course he has his moments: he’s a kid. I realize that, and I know full well that toddlers are far from rational and prone to meltdowns at the slightest provocation. Perhaps it is because Stephen is so generally even-tempered that I find his moments of hysteria that much harder to endure.

Today–somewhere between the millionth snot missile launched at my face  and the moment I turned around to find Stephen very carefully dropping handfuls of violently yellow curry rice in his lap–I lost it.

I don’t know why it was suddenly a tragedy to find myself picking grains of rice out of the carpet; I’ve picked sticky food particles out of the carpet before. I don’t know why one more sneeze was cause for mommy tears; Stephen has a cold so it’s not like he can help it. I don’t know why I felt the frustration boiling over when he stepped on my (bare) feet with his (shod) feet again and again because it’s apparently a super fun baby game to make mommy go “ouch!” and scowl and get misty tears in her eyes.

I think it was a cumulative effect that started this morning with Stephen climbing over my legs repeatedly at mass, continued when he cried like the dickens when I tried to test some new shoes on his feet at Target, and ended at home with him hacking and wheezing so much he missed his nap. Maybe I can blame my inability to deal on crazy pregnancy hormones. Maybe I can blame it on not getting quality sleep at night.

Or maybe I just suck at dealing.

Like I said, I know I’m lucky to have such a sweet little boy. I worry what it will be like when I have two kids, the younger one possibly being a special needs child. Will I be able to deal with that?

I know God never gives us more than we can handle, and trials only make us stronger, blah blah blah. But I do worry. If I can’t handle parenting an “easy” child, how will I ever be able to parent a child who is not “easy?” If anyone has any encouragement or advise, feel free to share it.

I do want to end on a positive note, so I will tell you that Stephen now has speech! His official first word is “kitty.” It sounds like “ki-ki” when he says it. Isn’t that cute? He’s been making sounds for months like lip buzzing (to indicate cars, trucks, coffee grinders, drills, etc) and “woof woof” (to indicate dogs, and actually any other animal, including birds). And we’re also pretty sure he understands every single thing we say, because he can follow directions and respond to things like, “where’s your platypus?” “Let’s throw that in the garbage,” “Go find the kitty,” “Pick out a toy to take with you,” “Time to put on your shoes,” “Go get your coat,” “Take that to daddy,” and lots of others. I have a feeling when he starts to talk for real he’ll be speaking full sentences with complex grammar. It’s been known to happen.


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