Happy Turkey Day! Gobble, gobble

November 25, 2010 2 comments

It’s only seven o’clock but after polishing off 15 pounds of turkey and two pumpkin pies my entire family, dogs included, has already passed out in the living room. I’m sure you’re thinking precious, right? No, not really, they actually look like a bunch of beached whales, but still, for this I’m thankful.

For my dysfunctional family, for the feast my husband spent five hours preparing while he got drunk, for a job and a business that continue to pay (most of) the bills, for a year full of more good memories than bad, for having good friends and family, for readers who actually like my blog enough to read it, and for anything and everything else God’s blessed me with, big or small. I’m thankful for it all.

From my family to yours, may you always know the full value of what you have waiting for you at home.
Happy Thanksgiving!!

A Mother’s Declaration

November 23, 2010 2 comments

Life is good, but it can also be very, very trying. You’ll often find yourselves at crossroads that will surely test your judgment and confidence. Sometimes you’ll choose the path laden with smooth stones and simple turns. Those will be the days filled with more good times than bad. Other times you’ll choose the road less traveled. This is where you’ll learn what you’re made of. Life is filled with choices and when you’re in the moment it’s so hard to know if you’re making the right ones. Strive to make decisions that you can be proud of, that reflect who you are and what you stand for.

Remember the golden rule. Treat others as you want to be treated, not how they treat you. This is difficult, I know. People can be terrible and cruel. You mustn’t reciprocate that. How people treat you is their karma, but how you react is yours.

Dream big and don’t be afraid to fail. The world is filled with people who stay confined to the limits set before them. Fear can do that to you. Don’t be one of those people. Live your life with a perseverance to survive and succeed despite the challenges you face. Nothing worth having has ever been easy, but I assure you the taste of success is sweeter when you’ve worked that much harder. You can be as big as you want to be, the possibilities are endless. Your father and I believe in all of you and the potential you possess. Believe in yourself.

Inevitably you will make some mistakes. You’re not perfect and no one should expect you to be, including yourself. Create a compass of your triumphs and misfortunes, a means of understanding what works for you and what doesn’t, but never let either conclude you. Victories can be short lived and tragedies can ruin you only if you allow them to.

Be grateful for everything, however big or small. We’re not guaranteed anything in this life except the air we breathe, but through the grace of God we are blessed with opportunities to make better lives for ourselves and those around us. It’s up to you to recognize those chances. Remember that when you feel you have nothing or no one, you have yourself.

Our family has been fortunate to been able to provide you with material possessions and amenities that have suited to make your lives comfortable. We are neither rich nor poor. Many people have more than us, but far more have less. I don’t regret living in a nice house or filling it with pretty things. I believe in enjoying the dollar you earn, but I hope I’ve raised you well enough to distinguish the difference in values we place on objects verses people. People are what matter, not things. Don’t forget that. When you die you can’t take things with you, but the memories you foster with family and friends are everlasting. If you lose someone you love that new BMW or diamond necklace will do little to comfort you. Be mindful of what you cherish and who you don’t.

We are all born into varying cultures, religions, and families that influence us and have the propensity to carve circles around us. Often these circles are intended to protect us, but more frequently they hold us down. You’ve been shaped by our family that loves you, groomed by our social and ethnic cultures, and blessed by our religion that has handed you down its own values and beliefs, but you and you alone must be the one to define yourself. Stay true to you. Always. You are unique and that is what makes you special. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are or who you shouldn’t be, not even me. Embrace yourself for your differences even if it feels like everyone is telling you otherwise.

I have tried to instill the significance of your relationships with one another. Friends are wonderful, but blood will always be thicker than water, at least in this family. You’ll grow up, move on, go to college, and meet new people. The changes in your life will be constant. You’ll find a better job to replace the old one. You’ll lose touch with friends and make new ones. New loves will become past loves. Throughout it all, your brothers and sisters will always be there. That will not change. Your relationships with one another are forged by childhood memories, the secrets only a sibling could know, and just in knowing that neither time nor distance could ever break the familial thread that link the four of you together.

I know that your father and I have made dozens of mistakes while raising you all, mostly unintentional. Maybe by the time you read this we’ll have made a dozen more. I beg you to forgive us our indiscretions and not just for us, but for you. Throughout your life people will hurt you, betray you, sometimes with malice, other times with ignorance. Forgive them all, no matter the immensity of their offense. Nothing good comes from a grudge harbored from deep within. Anger only serves to feed hate and resentment, both of which lead to self destruction. You must will yourselves to be bigger than that.

And if I haven’t told you enough, I’ve always known you were great. Don’t allow yourself to be labeled by your paycheck, your job title, the college you did or didn’t go to, your social class, the color of your skin, the clothes you wear, or even your physical beauty. These are not the things that matter. Your greatness resides in the goodness in your hearts, in the way you treat people, the compassion and tolerance you offer them, the inner strength that gets you through the most challenging occasions, the ferocity with which you face your utmost fears, and the effort you put into your own lives.

Wherever you are, whoever you become I know all of you will make me proud. Borne of my blood and nurtured with the potency of my love, all of you were destined to deliver nothing less than brilliance to this world.

When did I get this pathetic?

November 22, 2010 2 comments

This past weekend I caught one of the dogs trying to mount the other and after I shooed them off of one another, they each shot me a dirty look as if to say “Don’t hate just because we have healthy sex lives.”

Hmmm…I wonder if God finds it funny that my dogs are now getting some more often than I do?

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November 20, 2010 Enter your password to view comments.

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Letter to my 17 year old self

November 19, 2010 5 comments

Several years ago a few friends and I practiced an exercise where we each wrote a letter to our 17 year old selves, words of advice so to speak. It was awesome, very self-reflective, and showed us just how much we’d learned and been through in the previous decade. I encourage you to try this yourself. Here is my letter.

Dear Maria,

I know you feel alone, like you’ve just lost the rest of your life because you have this baby to raise, but I promise you – it will get better. Just ride this time out, it doesn’t seem like it, but this time will only equate to a very small portion of your life. And your life is far from over.

You will learn to be a good mom. It takes time and I know you are unsure of yourself right now but you will learn.

Finish school. Go straight to college, even if it’s only part time. If you fail a class because you’re having a hard time juggling work and your son, ask for help from the family and take the class again. Make it work this time. Just don’t stop going. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Get a digital camera as soon as you can afford it. Take a lot of pictures. Those digital pictures are going to last a lot longer than the 35mm film. Honest.

You will find the love of your life.

You haven’t even met half of the people you are going to meet in your lifetime. Don’t worry.

You are going to make a million more GREAT memories that you don’t believe you can- but you will! Just be patient.

Save some money in a secret bank account. Make it an IRA plan that you can’t access so easily.

Save more money for AJ sooner, college will be around the corner before you know it.

Spend less time worrying about your weight. You’re not fat.

You are beautiful. You have great cheek bones, smooth skin, and a sweet smile. Enjoy your youthful beauty for as long as you can because when you get older you will regret that you never realized what you had.

Practice safe sex.

Don’t have sex with your girlfriends’ ex-boyfriends, it complicates things.

Cherish the group of friends you have in your 20’s. They will be the best you ever have.

Don’t drive drunk.

Accept your mom for who she is. She’s crazy but don’t ask her to change, don’t expect her to. She doesn’t have to and she won’t ever. The sooner you accept that the sooner you can make amends with who she is to you.

Don’t be sad  about Dad. I know you think he doesn’t love you, but he does. It’s not about you. You didn’t do anything wrong. Some people are just broken.

Hold onto every moment with your baby sister. Make every memory with her last longer. Love her. Take care of her for as long as you can. Forgive her.

Control your temper. Don’t get so angry. The world isn’t out to get you. Think before you react. THINK FIRST. Revenge doesn’t fix anything.

Don’t sweat the stuff people do to you, life really is a circle. You get what you give.

Get into jogging, or running, or walking in the mornings. Make it a habit.

Write it all down. All of it. Everything you feel. Everything you’re afraid of. All of your secret hopes you don’t want anyone to know about. Write it all down. Hide them if you have to but just write it all down. Your own words will serve as your record that you actually did it, you went through it, you got through it. I know you’re afraid people will read what you write but that’s okay. When you get older you will want them to.

When you are 22 you will go through some things that make you question yourself. You will ask this question everyday for several years. The answer is yes. Yes, the tears will stop. Be strong.

Throw less house parties. They are not worth the headache.

Buy a hybrid car as soon as they are available. I’m serious. Don’t worry about how they look. It won’t matter soon enough.

Go ahead and take those risks. They won’t always pay off, but when they do, they will pay off BIG.

Take care of your credit.

Don’t talk back to Grandma. Just listen to her. You don’t have to believe everything she says, you can pretend. She won’t be around forever and you will regret the times you fought with her.

You don’t know who I’m talking about yet but- he will come home. He will.

Don’t be angry when your kids act just like you, they are doing it because you are what they know.

Don’t get angry when your kids don’t act like you, they are their own people. They’re not you. Let them be who they want to be.

Last piece of advice. Remember this one because you will question this time and again for decades to come. Things are going to work out for you. You will be okay. Don’t let your fears stop you from trying or you’ll miss out on all the successess in store for you. Don’t stop trying. Your life is worth it. You are worth it.

Love,

30 year old Maria

P.S. Don’t overanalyze this letter. It’s not a map of your future. It’s just some advice from someone older and wiser.

I’m so cheap…

November 18, 2010 1 comment

I’m so cheap … for the last few days I’ve been hungrily eying the broken office chair our Executive Director at work is trying to trash. One of the wooden arms has completely broken off and the seams have separated in several areas along its side revealing the yellow styrofoam beneath the leather.

I keep thinking that if I can just break the other arm and maybe color in the spaces where the styrofoam is peeking with a black Sharpie, it still might be a good chair. I voiced what I thought were my clever solutions to save the chair, but my Office Manager and Executive Director both just rolled their eyes at me.

I think I’m in love

That 1L Torts class last night was…fascinating. I’m in love. A regular dreamy eyed undergrad anxiously awaiting her first year of law classes. Now, on to devoting the next year to preparing for the LSATs. Pray for me. I need it.

By the way, I did manage not to pee myself.

As an added bonus, I’ve discovered male law school students are hot. Either that or I’ve suddenly given everything and anything that has to do with law school instant credibility or more credit than might actually be due.

Whatever, I thought those older male law school students were hot. I hope they still look like that when I attend (or rather if I get to attend – did I already ask you to pray for me?).

Trying not to pee myself

I am leaving in 30 minutes for St. Mary’s Law School and I would like nothing more than to hurl, but I have nothing in my tummy to regurgitate since I’m so nervous I haven’t eaten anything all morning.

I’m like the too excited kid waiting to go to the circus afterschool; completely anxious and useless. Add to that scared. I will be sitting in for the entire 1L Torts class.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Maybe it has something to do with finally getting a taste, if only just a taste, of what I’ve wanted for such a long time. Maybe it’s the idea that I have the opportunity to make my dreams a reality if I can just keep my sh*t together. Or maybe it’s because I’ve actually decided to rant this, to say it out loud, laying my heart on the line and making myself vulnerable to my critics. Yup, I think that’s the winning answer.

Did I already mention I want to hurl? I act like I’m actually interviewing, or getting accepted, something more than just meeting with the Director of Recruitment and sitting in a class, but still, I’m so excited I’m trying not to pee myself.

Even his dog knows

November 16, 2010 3 comments

Recently my 18 year old son informed me that returning to the coming spring semester of college “did not fit into his current plans” to which I appropriately responded “and supporting your *ss until you figure out your life does not fit into mine!” Is he sh*tting me?

*Sigh* Honestly, I actually saw this coming. He’s never taken too well to academics and he struggled throughout high school, but still, I thought he knew better than to be a college dropout. This topic is still premature, so I’m hoping he changes his mind – before I wring his neck. If he doesn’t, well, I’m going to pray for the kid because if he thinks I’m going to let him lounge around the house until God knows when he’s got another think coming .

If he wants to live in the real world, I’m going to give it to him. Go to school, get a job, or get out. Other parents, be careful not to judge me or you could find yourselves in a similar situation several years from now.

I refuse to be the typical Asian parent who lets her children live at home rent free, usually encouraging little sense of responsibility, until they turn 35. That may work in some families, but it doesn’t work in mine. You can call it tough love, I call it a dose of reality.

I love my son, don’t even try to to accuse me of anything different, but if he’s going to take this path, inevitably limiting his choices without that college degree, I won’t knock him, but he’s going to get a taste of how hard it is without one early on. I’d be nothing short of a bad mom if I didn’t make sure he realized the full consequences of his actions before it was too late or too hard to rectify things. He can drop out, but he better have a good back up plan, because I won’t be it.

He’s spent the last week staying at friends’ houses, I’m sure in an effort to avoid discussing this further with me.  Following a four day absence, he came home and tried to play with his dog, Hyden, before dashing out the door again. Hyden refused to play with him. Instead Hyden walked over to him and started barking at him incessantly. Each time my son reached out to pet him, Hyden cringed backwards to avoid his hand.

It was as if Hyden was trying to tell him something. Maybe he was saying “C’mon kid, what are you doing? Get your head out of your *ss. Go back to school, or get a full time job, but do something. You’re driving your parents nuts. Ruff!” See, even his dog knows.

I’m so cheap..

November 14, 2010 1 comment

Personally, I prefer to describe myself as cost-efficient, but everyone else tells me I’m just plain old cheap. So I’ve decided to start a series of rants documenting my cheap antics or tips to save money, whichever way you want to look at it.

Enjoy people, you might actually find some of my tips worthwhile and not just crazy.

I’m so cheap … I save and store every condiment packet, napkin, and plastic utensil we don’t use when we eat out. It’s not uncommon to eat at my house and find the table set with varied McD’s, Wendy’s, and Jack in the Crack napkins, ketchup packets, and sporks. One evening when I ran out out of soy sauce for the chicken adobo dinner I was preparing I just used all the soy sauce packets in my pantry instead of buying a second bottle. It still tasted good, at least no one complained.

I’m so cheap … when my youngest son requested Estancia Churrascaria, a fancy Brazilian all-you-can-eat steakhouse, for his birthday dinner I agreed under one condition. For a family of six our bill would be upwards of $200 after tax and gratuities and that’s assuming I limited everyone to drinking tap water, so in an effort to maximize my return I forbade each child, even the girls who were eight at the time, and my husband not to consume anything more than water and one snack prior to dinner that day. No, I’m not kidding. I wanted to make sure everyone was hungry and we got our money’s worth. I’m sure all the gaucho-attired waiters were amazed by how much steak six people could actually eat in one sitting.

Stay tuned for more of my ‘I’m so cheap’ blog segments!

Why I write comical satire

Wouldn’t all the crap in my life be experienced in vain if I couldn’t share my family’s dysfunction with others so that they, in turn, might gain some consolation in knowing at least their lives don’t exceed the lunacy I encounter everyday?

Ho ho ho…or maybe not

The holidays are creeping around the corner and I’ve asked the kids to make their Christmas wish lists now so I can budget early. Yeah, I don’t play that “one night Santa miraculously visits everyone’s house and gives them everything their heart desires” crap. I tell my kiddos the real deal. Mommy and Daddy work hard 365 days a year to try to get you what you want, but don’t always deserve. Santa stories are for woosies.

Anyway, between a busted transmission and a broken refrigerator, it’s an easy guess the pickings under the tree will be slim this year. I instructed each child to make a list of their top ten, but expect a solid three they might actually receive. 

As for me and my husband,well, aside from the makeshift craft gifts our kids give us, we actually haven’t given one another more than three gifts each, Christmas or otherwise, in the last five years. Gift giving between the two of us has become like sex in our relationship – near nonexistent.

Raising three Democrats and one Republican

Well, not really, but this may end up being the case. In a house full of liberals, the baby of the family seems to be exhibiting early signs of conservatism.

She was mortified when she saw her older brother wear an I Love Boobies bracelet. I tried to explain the purpose of the Keep A Breast Foundation campaign, but she didn’t care. She felt the bracelets and shirts alike were inappropriate.

When she saw the advertisements for the new Tyler Perry movie, For Colored Girls (2010), she expressed her nine year old disappointment that the producer didn’t simply call it For African American Girls. I’m not kidding. I tried to explain that “colored” wasn’t necessarily a derogatory word, but again she countered with “it still isn’t right”.

At the dinner table she refrains from joining in some of our more potty mouth discussions. She says “we shouldn’t talk about those things at the table”.

Just last night the topic of gays and lesbians came up because she was reading my blog page out loud. She refused to say the word “gay”. I told her it wasn’t a bad word and asked if she knew what the word meant. She did and was  compelled to add, “that’s just horrible, mommy”. All I could think was, ‘Oh no, I’m going to have to sit this girl down a lot sooner than I expected and give her a  good talking to.’

I have no clue where some of her ideas are coming from, definitely not from our house, but even at nine she’s so strong minded, I just want to make sure she knows that while it’s okay for her to be conservative, she’s still going to have to learn to respect the way other people live. Wish me luck people because it’s not the easiest thing trying to rationalize with a kid. I may walk out of that discussion with questions of my own.

He wears his sunglasses at night..and everywhere else..

My husband is driving me nuts. I can’t get him to take off his sunglasses. He wears them everywhere; in the house, in the car, in the club, in the dark, on the boat, at night, in restaurants. WTF? I’m beginning to think he thinks they give him superpowers. A brand whore at that, he’s proclaimed himself a sunglass connoisseur.

If he doesn’t cut it out by the time we’re 6o, I’m not going to sit beside him at the retirement home. He better find himself some too old groupie to do that.

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November 9, 2010 Enter your password to view comments.

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Cruise Escapades

November 5, 2010 1 comment

First impression..why are there more Filipino workers on this boat than there are Filipinos in all of Austin? I kept expecting some guest to ask me for fresh towels or to take their order. And why does this ship resemble a 1970’s casino?

Gayribbean…no, I did not make that word up. While I was booking the cruise I was so concerned with affordability I didn’t realize I had booked us on a Gayribbean Cruise. That was the official name. A few hundred gay guys…I’m from San Francisco so it actually took me two days to notice. All good, it wasn’t a bad thing.

Eye candy…I seemed to serve as the eye candy for a lot of the black men on board and in some cruel circle of a joke many of the gay men served as my eye candy.

On using the bathroom…the first time we heard a ship toilet flush

one of the girls was supposed to be taking a shower. It’s a scary sound and we had no idea what it was. I had to send in my oldest son to make sure his sister didn’t get swallowed up by the ship.

Sail and Sign card…the ship ran cashless so you had to charge everything to your room key/Sail and Sign card which was linked to your credit card. My husband was so excited in the first 3o hours he spent $156.00 on drinks for himself. I took away his Sail and Sign card the second night and told him to find another way to be that happy.

Silly things we find amusing…while watching the girls swim on the boat my husband and I watched a four year old boy, who weighed an easy 70 plus pounds, go down the five foot tall mini waterslide at least three dozen times. Each time he slid down the entire front row of sunbathers would get drenched. His oblivious mother kept egging him on once more.

Hairy man contest…this was a real event. There’s nothing like watching heavy and hairy middle aged men, to be exact; a plumber, an A/C guy, an IT manager, and a UPS driver, gyrate shirtless to Dancing Queen by ABBA.

Hip hop dance class..throw on a jumpsuit, wear a pair of Adidas shoes with the fat laces, chew gum from the right side of your mouth, say you’re from Puerto Rico and voila! You have a certified cruise hip hop dance instructer.

Meeting people when you’re drunk…my husband’s first night on the boat he met a guy named Ted. They chatted it up, ran into one another several times, and we actually spent a day in Cozumel with him. It wasn’t until the third day he finally told my husband, “My name is actually Tay, not Ted. I didn’t realize I would end up hanging out with you so much so I didn’t bother correcting you, but I figured if you wanted to keep in touch you should probably know my real name.”

Catamaran sailing..on an excursion in Mexico we were provided with free unlimited margaritas, although they were completely watered down. Caught in the moment, I let my son have his first sip of alcohol. Just as he was taking a sip we passed another boat full of nude people. There was my fourteen year old sipping a margarita and looking at several sets of breasts and then some….talk about walking him into manhood. I tried to get him to close his eyes but he was not trying to hear me one bit.

Afterthought…being on a Carnival cruise line is a lot like being at a week long party on a vessel that resembles Circus Circus with lots of drunk people. We had a ton of fun, but next time around I’m saving up for a Disney cruise. It might be more family friendly.

How can you tell when your son is going through puberty?

October 28, 2010 1 comment

He starts taking showers two to three times a day. I’m not kidding. With our older son I thought he just started caring more about his hygiene, but my husband filled me in on the real deal. Initially I was too shocked and stunned to address the issue whereas my husband seemed more proud, in that ridiculous man kind of way. Of course, he didn’t find it so funny when our water bill increased 20%. That’s when he warned our son to “cut your showers down, I mean it, and you know what I’m talking about.” I did my part and started hiding my Victoria’s Secret catalogs.

Follow my rules

October 28, 2010 1 comment

I wandered into each of the girls’ rooms this morning and found that they had posted rules for each room. Here are the ones that made me smile.

  • When you step in my room, you live by my rules.
  • If you don’t like my rules, you better get out.
  • If you don’t follow my rules, well if you know my family by now, you should know you’re going to regret it.

I think this is what happens when you are growing up in my household, you confuse rules with threats. In my defense, the other rules were reasonable (clean up after yourself, no food, etc.) Well, at least my girls have moxy.  🙂

Why does it look like that?

October 25, 2010 7 comments

There’s nothing like buying a new pair of jeans to force you to realize what a fat *ss you’ve become. You find yourself standing in front of the neatly folded piles of jeans for at least ten minutes before you even reach for a pair.

Skinny jeans, boot leg, slight flare, dark wash, acid rinse. So many choices but all you’re concerned with is what size you should be reaching for. You want to grab the 5/6 but realize that’s the size you wish you were, so you start to reach for a 7/8 but remember you haven’t been that size for a few years, so now you start looking for a 9/10 but it’s on the top shelf and you have to ask a salesperson to help you.

Now it feels like a small production because the salesperson has to use a ladder to get your jeans and you start to think, “What if I’m wrong? What if I’m actually an 11/12 now? ” You don’t want to have ask the salesperson for help twice because then you’ll be pegged as one of those women in denial about your size. So in your most nonchalant voice you say to him, “You know, while you’re up there do you mind grabbing an 11/12 for me?” while doing your best not to let on just how much it hurts you to admit that out loud.

Finally with six pairs of jeans tucked under my arm I head off to the dreaded dressing room, where I think women do more self reflection than trying on clothes. I mean, why is it that the lighting in those rooms reveal parts of your body in a way that you just never notice when you’re in front of your own bathroom mirror? You’d think a retail store would want to encourage purchases by using lighting that compliment the shapely figure of all women, not just the perfectly shaped ones. Try dimmer lights Abercrombie!

Note to self: Start an average to plus size woman’s coalition against the inventors of those terrible dressing room lights.

I’ve learned to avoid looking in the dressing room mirror until I’m completely dressed, but out of regretful curiosity that day, I peeked behind my shoulder just as I was sliding the jeans over my buttocks. What a bad idea. All I could think was, “What happened? Why does my butt look like that? It looks so…deflated? And when did it drop? It used to be so damn perky.’

By the time I left the third store empty handed I was tempted to walk into a store that sold those new jeans claiming to enhance your *ss. Of course, after all I’d already put myself through mentally I couldn’t envision walking up to the bored looking sales kid and asking him to point me in the direction of the butt lifting jeans.

*Sigh* One hour later, still no jeans, and all the kids and hubby are blast texting me. I’m having a mid life crisis and all they care about is what time we’re meeting for dinner.

A teenager’s camping checklist

My almost 19 year old son went camping with a large group of his friends this past weekend. Of course, it was only 10 minutes away up by Lake Travis but still. This was my nightly text checklist for him.

  • Did you pack enough clothes? Should Mommy bring you more clothes?
  • Keep your butt clean, did you grab toilet paper from the house? Better yet just drive home if you have to do a number two.
  • Are you drinking? Stupid question.  Don’t drink and swim. Promise me.
  • No cliff jumping at night!
  • Don’t start a forest fire. Don’t let Ethan and them start a forest fire either.
  • Don’t share your sleeping bag with anybody..no girls in your sleeping bag or I will be very mad at you. Don’t make Mommy go there and tell some girl to keep her hands to herself.
  • Who is feeding you? You come home if you’re hungry.

I love you. Be safe. Mom.

By the way, he did drive home everytime he had to do a number two.

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