11 months

Right after Jackson was born I, on a daily basis, tried to not have a breakdown. It wasn’t because having a newborn is hard, although having a newborn is very hard. It wasn’t because I was venturing into my last year of my doctoral degree, which is also quite hard. It was a culmination of the two. Every day of Jackson’s life has been measured by my school progress, just as equally, every check mark in my higher nursing education for the last 20 months has been marked by Jackson’s existence. My first day of clinicals was a Tuesday, and just 2 days before, on a Sunday afternoon, I found out I was pregnant. At 38 weeks along I learned how to apply casts on my classmates, but had to miss the morning of class that day to have a fetal echo done to check on my sweet boy’s heart. On the day he was born, I was supposed to be in class, but instead I was having the most life-changing day 400 miles away. When he was a week old, I became so, so sick, and I had him there with me, in class. There are few memories of school that don’t involve Jackson at some level, and few times Jackson’s life schedule didn’t depend on mommy’s school commitments. I remember thinking, “when I graduate in August, he’ll be almost a year old, he’ll be almost walking.”  It was the warm fuzzy thought that got me through. I told myself I could do it, I would be okay. After he was born, I would repeat, “just 11 more months,” “just 8 more,” “just 3.” It was all about getting to August. Last October, November, January… well, August seemed so far away.

And then, suddenly, it wasn’t far away anymore.

In the same week Jackson turns 11 months old, I will graduate. For the first time, the measuring stick of Jackson’s life will no longer be my education. Those two things had become so intertwined. Like church and state; completely different entities, and yet, nearly impossible to separate cleanly. And, like I promised myself, my 11 month old is nearing the walking milestone, cruising everywhere and standing solo some. It is surreal.

He is amazing and funny and so very busy. He picks up on so much. He’s high-fivin’, clapping his hands, shaking his head no, being soooo-big, and waving bub-bye. He’s playing catch and throwing a ball and driving his toy truck on the carpet like it’s meant to be played with… not just chewing on it. He can get into his little rocking chair, turn around, sit down, and then get himself back out. It just amazes me.

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He’s not really ahead on his milestones, not behind, just average. His top front teeth are FINALLY cutting through – I was afraid we’d need to invest in dentures by kindergarten. He’ll attempt to eat anything we hand him and may decide the dog should eat it instead, but also still loves his nursing time with momma. He babbles about momma and dadda a lot, but also directs those titles at us appropriately at times and imitates the sounds we make. And he’s turning into a daddy’s boy just a little bit more every day – Jesse is thrilled! And I am too, because we can share in the neediness that is a nearly one year old who can crawl over to you and try to pull your pants off begging for attention.

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I am so excited for our little future, for our little family. I am excited to take my boards and pass them and move from that season of life. And, while it will also mean that our baby is a year old and no longer the tiny, cute, sleep-less, barfing bundle he was, his birthday represents so much more that 12 months of his life. It represents survival and success and strength.

11 months, so crazy…

this is a sneak peek at jackmack's first birthday photo shoot pics

this is a sneak peek at jackmack’s first birthday photo shoot pics

this is a sneak peek at jackmack's first birthday photo shoot pics

this is a sneak peek at jackmack’s first birthday photo shoot pics

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the future

 

We moved to our current location in western South Dakota in May of 2012. Since that time I made 37 round trips (800miles each time) back to the east side of the state to complete my doctorate of nursing practice and family nurse practitioner degree. I drove in 100+ degree heat without an AC. I got the AC fixed. I drove, stopping every hour for a pee break and to prevent blood clots, while pregnant. I drove, white-knuckled, in really crappy snow/ice with a baby sleeping in the back seat. I drove through hours of crying, because what else was I supposed to do? I’ve spent many many nights sleeping in a bed that wasn’t my own, and for the last year, bringing a baby along for the ride every singe time but once. I’ve breastfed all over this state.

watching my baby grow from the drivers seat

watching my baby grow from the drivers seat

I owe my friend Karen SO MUCH (I’m still planning on paying you back!), because she’s shared her home with me to stay there when I needed to be at class and because she lovingly watched my colicky baby while I was in class. And, she brought me a life-saving care package when I was in the hospital, nearly septic, after Jackson was born.

love ya Karen!

love ya Karen!

I owe Angie, Nathel, Mindy, Karen, Darcie, Kassie, Jessie and so many others for participating in countless hours of cell phone conversation while I drove.  You’re welcome Verizon… however I will be reducing my minutes package very soon. You gals are my best friends, and you’ve seen me through so much.

he had lots of screen time with mom

he had lots of screen time with mom

I owe my family, Jesse’s family, and our extra family, because they have all taken turns helping with Jackson, whether for a day, a week, or over-night while I was suffering from a migraine. They’ve all given in some capacity to help me/us get to this point… money, time, help, food… we wouldn’t have survived without them.

I owe my husband, who has seen me through these most intense years of my life. He watched me, especially since moving, be at my lowest lows and my most enlightening highs. He’s loved me through ugly, cranky, sad, tired, and stressed. He’s taken his turn taking the baby so I could finish yet another assignment. He’s checked the oil, checked the tires, filled the gas tank and sent me down the interstate with his baby boy in tow, trusting me with his world. Trusting me to come home safely every time.

I don’t know how to repay any of them adequately… except to go out and be the best NP I can (and answering all of their random health questions). I want to make them all proud.

I laughed out loud a LOT at this ad in my NP magazine. Bahahaha!

I laughed out loud a LOT at this ad in my NP magazine. Bahahaha!

I will soon be signing a contract at the local clinic that is affiliated with the hospital where I currently work. I was terribly disappointed to decline my dream job that was offered to me last month back on the east side of the state, but unfortunately there were no transfer options for Jesse, and we made a choice to stay because it truly is best for our little family at this point. And, I am simply grateful to have such wonderful options to choose from, as not everyone is so lucky. I will start in the clinic October 1st in a family practice role… I am excited and nervous. I want to be great at my job, but I know that the next couple years will be a process of learning that is even more intense than school, because the patients are real and the decisions ride on my shoulders. It is an awesome responsibility.

lookin' all professional

lookin’ all professional

I haven’t fully realized the immense change that is about to be my life, our lives. I haven’t soaked in the fact that there is no “back to school” for me, EVER AGAIN, but instead the loans will come due. I haven’t absorbed the fact that I will no longer have RN hours, but instead will be able to count on Christmas and Easter being family time. These things will become real. We’ll settle into our new routine. Our life will continue to morph into whatever God has planned. So, with a happy heart, I look to the future!

supporting the momma alma mater

supporting the momma alma mater

breastfeeding & pumping & being a working mother

My goal when Jackson was born was to breastfeed him for one year. I didn’t really know what I was asking of myself, my emotions and my body, when I set that goal. I was lucky. First of all, I had helped so, so many women start breastfeeding when I worked L&D, so I understood the basics and knew the tips and tricks for starter success. Secondly, I was anatomically set up for breastfeeding success – not too big, not too little. And lastly, I made plenty of milk.

The first three months of Jackson’s life I was tremendously busy with school, but was on maternity leave from work, and a significant amount of my pumping went into the freezer, because I was able to feed him at my lunch breaks when he was at home with the nanny. When I went back to working 12 hour shifts at the hospital and Jackson went to daycare, I had to learn a good pumping system. I’d pump right before I left for work, and twice during each shift. Some days it was easy to slip away from the activity of the hospital floor to pump, other times it took a little more planning and sometimes I just had to say things had to wait, because pumping was really important. Like most pumping mothers of today, I spent my pumping time catching up on FB, blog reading, and making phone calls home to check on my baby. I also tried to eat a snack every time I pumped, making the most of my time. I’d pump about 10 minutes, which really isn’t a significant amount of time, but it was enough time to pump more than enough for Jackson to eat. While pumping gets old quickly, it has been worth all of the headache. It really has.

Now, Jackson is 10 months old (let’s be real, almost 11 months old 😦 ) and my body is no longer over producing. I’m making just enough to send to daycare the next day. When this first started to happen, I began to panic, even though I find it nice to not be freezing milk constantly. I have a stash in the freezer, too, should I start to not keep up, but I think I’ll make it through the next 2 months. Then I get to start the process of weaning, which will probably be equally hard on both Jackson and I. Jackson still nurses 3 times in 24 hours directly from the boob during those day when I have to work – evening, mid-night, and morning, and gets 2 bottles at daycare. Once he’s a year old I’ll keep that up until I dry up, but I will not keep pumping. Will not. I’m proud of myself for providing this for Jackson for a year, even when I couldn’t always be physically present. It’s been one hell of a committment. And, it’s been worth it.

The days I stay home with Jackson and I don’t have to pump are awesome (like today!!). It’s just us, and I love it. Women who are afforded this luxury full-time are lucky, and I am jealous. I am excited to move on with my career and the next steps that are in my path… but I also wish that we could afford to have me stay home. I wish I didn’t miss those little moments and was afforded the ability to fix every problem throughout the day. However, this is the life I knew I’d have. These are the sacrifices I knew I’d have to make. And I’m really excited to be a nurse practitioner!

I have made a decision and accepted one of the positions I wrote about, and I will fill you all in soon. I am officially done with all of my graduate school commitments. ALL OF THEM. I just have to attend my hooding ceremony in August. And take boards. My life has made some of the most dramatic changes I’ve ever encountered in the last 12 months. It has been amazing, exhausting, and crazy.

I now hope to have a smidgen more time to blog, and I hope to provide an interesting and somewhat original insight into working motherhood. And make some mommies out there feel okay that their child watches Frozen at least once per day, eats Gerber graduates snacks instead of organic, and has more toys than he knows what to do with… but is SO, SO loved.

a trusting and grateful heart

I spent most of last week sitting in a hotel about 200 miles away from my baby and 600 miles away from my hubby… for a NP board review. I needed to be there, to focus, and give my self the best chance I can to pass my boards ASAP after graduation. But, besides the 2 nights I was hospitalized when Jackson was a week old and one other random night when I left the baby with Jesse while I went to class alone, this is the only time I have been away from Jackson overnight – and this is the first time he was separated from both his mommy and daddy overnight.  I think this was a big deal.

Jackson stayed partially with my brother and his wife (who also happens to be one of my best friends) and partially with my parents. These guys only live about 7 miles away from each other, but I know it was still a headache for them to haul his stuff from one place to the other. How do you pack for a 8 month old when you know you won’t be there and neither of the places he will be staying have children??? You pack everything. There was even a rubber duck in his suitcase. My Tahoe looked like a BabysRUs. I just wanted to make sure they had any thing they might need. Baby thermometer. Tylenol/Motrin. Socks. Hats. Sunscreen. Pack’n’Play. Jogger. Portable high chair. Jumper. Baby bathtub. Bottle warmer. Sound machine. Toys, toys, toys. Baby food. And plenty of frozen milk. In fact, I brough almost my whole stash – and everything they didn’t use was donated before I went back home…  which was about 800 ounces!

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“so you’re going to leave me with her, eh??”

chillin' with uncle rob

chillin’ with uncle rob

grandpa's sidekick

grandpa’s sidekick

It was a little bit amazing to sleep at night, but I still woke up in the middle of the night and checked my phone just in case my sister in law or mom had called or messaged me with a question of concern… I’m too used to waking up and checking on him! It was a weird exercise of trust.  My family is absolutely capable of providing wonderful, loving care to my son, and I just had to trust them to do whatever they deemed necessary for Jackson. And I am so grateful. So grateful to have people who love me and my little family enough to swap around their schedules to spend the week with Jackson.

thank goodness for snapchat updates!

thank goodness for snapchat updates!

i'm fairly certain this is my dad's first "selfie" - he was so proud of being able nap with Jackson.

i’m fairly certain this is my dad’s first “selfie” – he was so proud of being able nap with Jackson.

HI

Hi Mom!

I missed him like crazy, but thankfully technology provided me (and his daddy) with lots of photographic updates – proof he was just fine. I was never really worried about his safety or their capability to take care of him, but I think it’s just a momma’s nature to worry no matter what. He was in the care of some of the people I trust the most in the world… and I know they understood how much trust it took to leave him for those 3 nights. Like I mentioned, my sister-in-law and brother don’t have children (yet 🙂 ), and I think this gave them a very real look at life with a baby. A real, live, feed me, change me, entertain me baby. And when Jackson was at my parents’ home, which is a farm, he was happiest outside with the animals and hubbub. All in all a good experience for the little guy! And I cannot say THANK YOU enough to my parents, my brother and his lovely little wifey!

feeding the bottle calf with grandpa.

feeding the bottle calf with grandpa.

And, also good for me to be home with my family for a little bit. This is my last trip home before graduation in August. I cannot believe how close I am to graduating, how close I am to attaining this goal for myself and for my family. That deserves its own post at another time, when I have enough time to process it more fully. Until then, once I make it through my project defense on June 24th, it is smooth sailing until boards. So, hard-core school work for the rest of the month. Almost there… I just can’t believe that I am done with my “Jackson and Mommy” trips. They have not always been easy, but they have been some of the most memorable bonding moments with my little boy, just us. It almost makes me sad when I think about the fact that that season of our lives is almost over.

so worn out after a great week with his family!

so worn out after a great week with his family!

This is one of two coolers of frozen milk I donated to the Iowa milk bank. In total it was 6 gallons of milk. This will be used in NICUs in the midwest. I was so happy to "share the wealth" :)

This is one of two coolers of frozen milk I donated to the Iowa milk bank. In total it was 6 gallons of milk. This will be used in NICUs in the midwest. I was so happy to “share the wealth” 🙂

 

 

spring!

It’s may 1st, and while the ability for it to snow it still very much so possible, I’m calling winter over now. I’ve officially moved into my summer hours for NP school, meaning I am in my last semester. Whoofta. While I am done with actual university classes, I still have about 10 things on my check off list to do before I can be a certified, NP in SD. One thing at a time. Next on the list? Finish and defend my project on Childhood BMI Screening and pass my oral exams. No biggie (insert eye rolling sarcasm here).

our first tulip just bloomed

our first tulip just bloomed

Our Easter was wonderful, with beautiful weather, and great company. My sister-in-law came to visit, we basked in the sunlight, grilled with friends, attended sunrise service at Mt.Rushmore, and generally had a wonderful weekend. It’s the happy place I will be calling upon in the next few months as my life gets hectic.

enjoying the nice weather

enjoying the nice weather

watching daddy do yardwork

watching daddy do yardwork

Easter at Mt.Rushmore

Easter at Mt.Rushmore

strollin' on Easter

strollin’ on Easter

strollin' on Easter

strollin’ on Easter

Jackson is growing like a dandelion. Bright, cute, and almost everywhere. He hasn’t quite figured out the crawling, despite my husband’s encouragement, but I foresee it soon. On Easter he cut his second tooth (only bummer out the weekend, because he was extra clingy and grumpy on Sunday). He is my little ray of sunshine. He sleeps for 7 hours straight at night, so we still hang out once per night around 3 am. Most of the time he goes straight back to sleep, but on the unlucky occasion he cries for an hour straight before he’s back to sleep. I can’t explain why really, so Jesse and I feel helpless. We’ve tried things to help, but mostly they just encourage his awakeness, so we’ve found the best was to deal is to CIO. I wish our video monitor had a mute button for those occasions… he’s just on the other side of our wall and I can hear him just fine without the amplification of the monitor. Any suggestions to better these situations are welcome!

dang teeth

dang teeth

first pickle. he actually loved it, after the initial shock :)

first pickle. he actually loved it, after the initial shock 🙂

getting to the toys by himself.

getting to the toys by himself.

helping Gamma with the bottle calf

helping Gamma with the bottle calf

every day life <3

every day life ❤

He’ll be 8 months old next week. I have mixed feelings about this. We’re turning a corner of independence for our son. He will literally soon be able to determine his own path. I know this is the way God intended, but it makes my momma heart sad to know that every day he will crawl a little further away from needing me.

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weekends

 

It’s -11 degrees outside right now. And we got about 8 inches of snow yesterday. These are times I am grateful to be snug in our house. Recently I’ve cut down to about 1/2 time at work, so I am working less weekends as well. It’s the first time in my life that I really look forward to Saturday and Sunday, because it’s my family time. (And my catch up on schoolwork time, but oh well). I hope you are all having a wonderful (warm) weekend, whereever you are! Hugs from the McMuffin House!

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Saturday morning lounge time. Love my little family.

 

{Also, one of the sweetest persons I know, and have the privilege to call a friend, underwent an embryo transfer this morning, so please say extra prayers for her and her husband today and for the next 2 weeks. There are not 2 more deserving people to be parents! I don’t know if I’ll have the patience to get through the next 2 weeks, much less her!!}

5 months

how do you write a post about a 5 month old baby? with him sitting on your lap, reaching for your coffee, watching a half screen of DocMcStuffins for entertainment because the exercauser just wasn’t cutting it anymore. that is a snap shot of our lives, and really, i love it.

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and because my brain is REALLY full, this post is just going to be a little synopsis of the last month. mostly pictures. i have been back and forth for my 800-mile round trip 3 weeks in a row with jackson in tow every time. he has done AMAZINGLY well with all of the car seat time. i know this is probably terrible, but i figured out a way to hang my kindle from the headrest of the seat, and his gets entertainment from videos during his awake time in the car when i can’t play with him or when he’s tired of his toy selection. it works well, and is a good distraction when he’s crabby… well usually. sometimes i just have to pull off the interstate and cuddle him, which is good for his little soul and mine!

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we have a growing baby on our hands, as he’s now over doubled his birth weight. he’s rolling back-to-front and front-to-back. babbling away. eating like a piggy. he started real food, although we’re still on team “mushy stuff.” he LOVES food. loves, loves, loves it. can’t get it in his mouth fast enough. and always wants to help.

Cereal Collage

he’s a pretty social guy and is happy most of the time. we still don’t sleep great at our house, but i’m guessing that’s just a personality thing. when he’s awake he must have constant entertainment and stimulation, and i doubt his brain shuts off at night either.  he does take two solid naps every day, so at least the daycare lady gets a little break 🙂

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chattin’ with daddy

mostly we just love our little boy. i thank God everyday he is growing and healthy. i thank God every day he won’t remember mommy constantly needing to use the computer while he plays in the exersaucer next to me. and i thank God i have jesse. he is amazing, both as a husband and father.  he takes over when i need to focus, he does a big chunk of the daycare drop-off and pick-up, and has an at least an hour alone with him before and after work when i have to work at the hospital. it might not seem like a big deal, but truthfully, it’s so awesome that he just helps, no complaints.  this week i’m going to school by myself and jesse’s keeping the baby overnight. please say a prayer that both of my men get some sleep that night!

before the terrible, terrible super bowl.

before the terrible, terrible super bowl. and yes those are Christmas decorations still up on our wall. oops.

and me? (because this is my blog and i get to write about myself, too). i’m so happy to be a mommy. even in the middle of the night when i can barely open my eyes to pick up my crying baby. even at 4:45 in the morning, the time i have to get up to get ready for work and still have time to pump and pack the diaper bag. even when my kitchen table is covered in textbooks and i purposely ignore my to-do list to love-up on my baby. even when i’m stressed. even when i’m tired. i would not change our life… i would not wait a year to add our little jackson to our family.

because… i’ve learned how to type left-one-handed and bounce a baby on my hip. i’ve learned to organize the chaos. i’ve even learned that laundry can wait (most of the time), and that our true friends don’t care if my house is cluttered and a little messy. i have six months left of school and then life can settle down for a minute or two. and then?? then we’ll try to make jackson a sibling, because really, i can’t wait to be pregnant again and do this again with another little person. because it all goes so fast…

20weeks

a day for me

First of all, I really like our new daycare lady and Jackson seems to be doing just fine there. Phew!

These past 2 days Jackson went to daycare and my only mission in life was to finish writing my proposal, and I DID! YAY! Now just need to acutally propose, hopefully by the end of January or beginning of February. And after I finished, I took a nap. A NAP. I haven’t done that in ages. I caught up Jackson’s baby book. Took a shower and shaved my legs. Played fetch with the dog and pet the cat. It was awesome.

Of course, I missed my little man and was so happy to go pick him up from daycare.

Today was a nice day to reflect on where I am in life. To think about where I’ve been and where I want to be. Jackson will be 4 months old this weekend… a third of a year already! Amazing!

The next 7 months of my life are going to be a whirlwind version of grad school hell. I will probably be even more scant in my posting, but I’ll try to keep up with my blog reading and your lives and jouneys.  And I’ll  at least do a monthly update on my growing boy 🙂 if only so I can look back and remember stuff when I get a chance to update his baby book again in 4 months! (who am I kidding, it will be at least 7 months!)

tears

there have been alot of tears this weekend from me.

first of all, our daycare gal, where Jackson was due to start attending in January, emailed me Friday to let me know she’s pregnant and is no longer willing to take Jackson for daycare. CRAP. Crap because A) she’s a responsible person with whom I trusted my care of my son, and B) because January isn’t very far away. Crap, crap, crap. He’s to scrambling for plan B. (our nanny is moving in January, so we can’t even do an extension of her care).

second of all, I go back to work Tuesday.  I know it’s been 12 weeks and boo-hoo me, right?? but still, my current job is not my favorite job (it totally has nothing to do with actually being a nurse either), so i’m kind of dreading going back.

most importantly, my hubby just left for the week for work. The last time he was gone for work, i was 37ish weeks pregnant. Life has changed alot since then, and i don’t like being here without him, especially on my first week back to work. Luckily, my mom is headed out to help tomorrow, so it’s only one night “alone,” but I spent last night pretty much constantly crying because I was feeling overwhelmed – all of that crying wasn’t very fair to him. He can’t help that he has to go. For all of you gals who fly solo, either because your hubby is out of town for work, or because you’re a single mama, hats off to you. I hate this. And to add to the awesomeness, it’s been negative 10 degrees all week, not looking to warm up much, so it takes out any prospect of taking out the jogger with the baby for a little change of scenery when Jackson is bored and i’m going stir crazy.

Jesse and I had a good heart-to-heart last night. We promised to do our best for our family and for each other and just push through the next 9 months of school. Really, that’s all we can do. And when I’m done, something awesome will happen… I’ll have an 8-5 job, no nights, no weekends, none of the craziness that can accompany hospital nursing. They’ll be new challenges and new craziness, but it will be WITHOUT the background noise that graduate school makes. I’ll be done with school forever if I want to. And I’ll be able to focus on my family more. I’ll have more time for them. More time for me. IT. WILL. BE. AWESOME.

anyway, leaving you with a little holiday inspiration. loving this right now…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pQVRyPGTEc

time

you have a baby and everyone starts telling you “time flies” “don’t blink” “they grow SO fast”

those people didn’t necessarily lie.

But time in the McMuffin house is a weird vortex. School time is crawling, unless there’s an assignment due, then time slips away. And baby time is warp speed, except when Jackson hasn’t pooped in 7 days, then it becomes a drawn-out slow motion show. (seriously kid!)

He’s growing and changing every day. How can someone change so much EVERY SINGLE DAY?? Jackson gets a little more personality all the time, although the personality is reflective of his impatient mother most of the time… sorry kid (and every babysitter he will ever have). He’s 12 weeks old today and suddenly all of his 3 months clothes are too short. Did someone tell him it was time to switch to 3-6 month sizes?? How did he do that?

But can I make a confession?? I’m looking forward to 9 months from now. Time can zippity-do-dah its way to August. I know that sounds silly. Why would anyone want to fast forward through their baby’s first year?? I just want to be done with school so badly, that I’m willing to speed up a little.

Regardless, a minute is still s 60 seconds, and an hour is still sixty minutes, blah, blah, blah. So, hopefully I can savor the baby time and get through the school time, and by the time my little man is taking off to walk, I’ll be getting a diploma 🙂

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Anyway, we recently spent 5 days “back home” with family for Thanksgiving. That time flew! But it was great to show off our growing little turkey and see our beloveds!

chillin' in the moby with mommy...

chillin’ in the moby with mommy…

little turkey tuckered out.

little turkey tuckered out. can you get a contact tryptophan buzz??

there's a turkey on his butt. OMG!

there’s a turkey on his butt. OMG!

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