Monday, March 30, 2009

Emotionally ADD

Okay, sorry it has taken me so long to get a blog in, but I have been a little pre-occupodo!

My son, Mauldin, finally decided to arrive on Saturday, March 21st at 10:13 AM. He came out weighing 5lbs, 6 ounces and 18 ¼ inches long. My wife, Laura, started having major labor contractions on Friday, March 20th around 9:30 PM. We had eaten grilled chicken.. the weather was so nice so we decided to use our new grill my parents had bought us this past Christmas. After dinner, all was well… we had been to the OB earlier that day, around 4PM, for our weekly check

Laura’s doctor came in all smiles and asked us if we were ready to have this baby… “I certainly can try to speed things along,” he said with his back to us and popping his fingers inside a latex rubber glove. “That is, if you want me to!”

Laura’s eyes were huge and I could basically read her mind…

“What exactly do you mean?” said Laura. “We are ready, but what is speed things along entail?”

“I can strip your membranes!” said the Doctor.

At the sound of this I was totally confused and sure I was not destined to be a doctor… I mean having this baby tonight sounded great, but were we ready?

Bottom line, our Doctor, “stripped” Laura’s membranes and let us know… well more like cautioned us, that doing this “may cause labor within the next 24-48 hours.” We, of course, held strong that Mauldin was still not going to come. We had our hopes up so many times that doing this surely wouldn’t cause “true” labor.

10:00 PM – We are in bed, I thought it would be nice to watch a movie in bed on this Friday night, so I picked “Spaceballs!” We hardly got into where Princess Vespa runs from the alter when Laura insists we may need to head on to the hospital. We decide together not to inform anyone about this, as to not insue or cause anyone to panic and show up at the hospital only for it to be, yet another, false alarm.

At about 12:30AM on Saturday, March 21, the nurse comes into our triage room to ask if she was comfortable.

“You’re contractions seem to be pretty strong and really close together.” Said the Nurse. “Would you like to have your epidural?”

“Epidural?” I yelped with a surprised reaction. “But, I don’t want to pay for an epidural and then be sent home!”

“No, no Sir.” Said the nurse. “If your wife is given an epidural… she will be admitted to a room today… to have the baby.”

“Are you kiddin’?” I said in shocked amazement! “But… we… uhhhh…”

“So, this is, like, it?” said Laura

“Pretty much, yah!” replied the nurse while she was inputting information into the computer next to Laura.

Right then, I whipped out my cell phone to call our family and friends to tell them the exciting news… in between each contraction that is… Laura needed me to count her through her contractions that were now 2-3 minutes apart and all seemed to inflict equal amounts of pain.. So, that meant I had to talk quick… if the person I was calling did not answer on the second dial, at 12:45 AM, then I had to go on to the next person. Thankfully, my mom, sister, dad, mother-in-law, father-in-law and sister-in-laws were all readily available. I called my boss as well to inform her so that she knew that I would not be in on Monday. I had decided early on that I would be taking a week off of work to be with Laura and the little man, so it was very important she was aware of the current events.

Fast forward… 10:00 AM on Saturday, March 21, 2009 and we are in full-blown labor… who knew that in 13 minutes our son would literally pop-out into the world!

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 PUSH…

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 PUSH…

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 PUSH…

I have never counted to ten so many times in my life… but it was totally worth it and I have a whole new respect for my wife. Laura is one of the strongest and most determined women I know… I never left her side… I wanted to make sure I was there to experience every moment, every precious moment that I could never get back… each and every second that went by was something I could file as one of the most amazing life experiences I could ever witness.

And, at 10:13AM he was here… after all this time… after all the singing to a belly and reading to a bump… I get to see what my wife and I made all those nine months ago. The nine months that seem like a lifetime.

Fast forward to today… I am back at work, after my one week off with my new family… and I know it wasn’t enough time. I woke up and knew I would have to leave them. But, would he remember me when I got back? What if our baby’s short term memory doesn’t work yet and he totally forgets who I am.. what I smell and sound like? Will I just be another stranger who wants to hold him for a bit and then gives him back up to his mom? All during the time I was home I wanted to hold him 24/7… but I knew that was a bad idea because if we did that he would never learn to be alone and sleep alone. We have a baby now… it is just unreal to me. Honestly, during the entire stint in the hospital Friday – Sunday… I thought they were testing us.

“Oh, you didn’t hold him right today, Sir… we are going to have to take him, sorry.”

We are taking things one day at a time. One night he sleeps soundly the other he is up at all hours… the sleep deprivation set in on day two… There is also one tiny... hiccup... he is 5lbs so that means none of the newborn diapers fit him... nor will any of the newborn clothes... so we have had to stock up on packs of premie diapers. Please, I wanna take this moment to thank all of you who have bought Mauldin some new clothes... otherwise he would be hanging out in his diaper and a blanket only!

After Mauldin's debut... I cried for about 30 seconds and then the tears disappeared and never returned. What was wrong with me? Why was I being such a unfeeling, unemotional bastard? My son was just born and my emotions were on hiatus! Well, so I thought… until… he peed on me. I remember it clearly… I was sitting next to Laura, on the squeaky, hospital bed trying to burp him from his afternoon snack and I felt a warm, wet sensation in my lap. Right then, on the bed, the tears began to flow… I lowered my face so no one would see…

“How embarrassing!” I said “Here comes the ugly.”

I tend to make really ugly faces when I get emotional and cry. One thing I certainly have noticed, in my son, in the one week I was with him… he gets upset when you change his diaper and makes the ugly cry. But, will this be the only time he looks like me? During the ugly cry? Well, that is just depressing.

It all came out… it was like I had an IV of estrogen attached to me. I couldn’t stop it. Everything I had been feeling… all the happy’s, all the sad’s, all the mad’s, all the good and the bad came out. I didn’t want to be rude or mean to nurses, family or friends… I was having a emotional outbreak with ADD! What was wrong with me? I unintentinally insulted probably everyone... My thoughts were running... they wouldn't stop!

Will I be a good dad to his little guy? Why doesn’t he look more like me? Why??? All his clothes are too small! He sure does sleep a lot! Will he like me? What if I don’t make a good impression on him and he always wants mommy? I would like to learn some stuff on my own… I need help… I can do it by myself… we need help! Why is he still crying? Why doesn’t he look like me? Why are his legs so long? Will he ever fit in his high chair? Why doesn't he look more like me?

Please understand… my mind is a complex thing and it fluxuates in five million different directions. However, I am incredibly stable! One thing is for certain… We are overjoyed, thrilled and ecstatic to have this little guy in our lives now! He is the perfect addition our family. I love you Laura and Mauldin...

Mauldin, Daddy will be home soon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Life Would Suck Without You...

Today, after I picked up my six inch. turkey sub, on wheat bread, complete with Swiss cheese, mayo and just a squirt of spicy mustard, from Publix, I turned on the radio; to Sirius/XM 20 on 20. I was on my ride back into the office, in my car, when I heard Kelly Clarkson’s new song, “My Life Would Suck Without You!”

Now this isn’t the first time I have heard this catchy tune…you would have to be living under a rock not to have heard it! My apologies to my blog-fans who reside under rocks. But, I mean if you get internet access you could atleast turn it to, right? Okay, I digress…

I immediately thought, “My life will suck without my 20 on 20 playlist from Sirius Radio!”

I understand my days are limited where I can enjoy the “un-cut” versions of songs. I don’t even actually enjoy some of the stuff that is on the airwaves these days… Just the other day, to skew from the subject, just for a moment, Laura and I were skimming the channels and ran across the new season of MTV’s“The Real World” and apparently it is set in Brooklyn… I just felt so detached from that show now… I feel I cannot relate to it anymore… I felt, so, so… so, I’m going there, old. I felt old.

It is inevitable, upon the arrival of our bundle of joy, our song choices, for the car and at home, will be altered to child-friendly melodies. Sweetly sung diddlies that will enhance and put a signature smile of his gleaming face. But, then I thought, while looking in my rearview mirror and gazing upon the Graco snug-ride base, in the backseat, sans baby carrier and baby, that will today’s music really effect him that much? Will I be restricted to “safe” tunes? I know my wife is on my side with this. Can I stomach only the “safe” stuff? Also, another tangent, we were in a children’s store and they music they were playing were popular songs, but sung by a gaggle of children! It was basically making me ill to listen to it. Poor Ryan Cabrera, Tonic and John Mayer have had some of their songs converted into a tune where a chorus of children belt it out as if it is a song they would sing while in music class! I was appauled and threw up in my mouth a little…

I thought, what do I listen to on a day-to-day basis right now? What is frequently played on the airwaves? Lady Gaga, Rhianna, Britney Spears and T-pain… truly… will this genre of music poison my son’s brain and cause him to act differently? Will he be swayed to wear his little diaper down to his knees because that’s how his “homies kick it?” Has there been a study done on the effects that pop and ghetto music have on infants? Surly not! Do I want to be a case-study? No. So, what are our choices…lets see… well, the regular music we listen to now while mixing in the soothing lullabies, a little Radio Disney, here and there, the occasional, various children’s CD (Old McDonald, etc…) and classical music; as to stimulate our son, so he can be the next Wolfgang Amadeus. I know some people who swear by Christian CD’s and the like, but honestly, and let me preface I am not against the Christian music, however, it’s kinda lame. But, that’s just my humble opinion… comment how you will…

I sometimes see my nephews, niece or even children of my friends and the little one's try to dance... they shake their heads and basically get giggy with themselves! It's classic! Will Mauldin have rhythm? Will he bust a move? Only time will tell...

I would certainly like to have a well-rounded child, but I guess I will play whatever, in the car, and he will latch on to something he enjoys, right? So, either he will be wanting to sing-a-long to “How much is that doggy in the window..” or he could hum along to JT’s Summer Love. Whatever the case may be… the music I listen to will be limited… but honestly, without some mainstream music in my car… I may lose my mind!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A New Normal...

Today, it was certainly evident, to me, that my wife is getting frustrated…

Laura is ready, ready to… well, NOT be pregnant anymore. Now, don't get me wrong… this pregnancy has actually been a fairly easy one, from my point-of-view, and not too many complications; aside from the occasional pre-term labor scares and the couple of weeks on bed rest. But, she sent me a text message today that said…

"I can't wait for our baby to be here so we can just get back to a normal pace."

I guess after almost 39 weeks of sharing my body with something I would be ready to have it back too!

It struck me… Normal pace? We will never be living at a normal pace again. No matter if our son comes today or two weeks from now… we can never go back… we will have a "new" (slightly sleep deprived, yet improved) normal from the moment he is born! Please, understand, I am excited about our "new" normal, but I know we both do not take a quick change as easy as people may assume.

One thing I am confident of is… Laura is keen on getting back into shape and back into her old clothes… She complains about how nothing fits anymore… how her "cankles" ache. (Please NOTE: her idea of cankles are hardly cankles!) As we walk by the bikinis at Target or she flips through the Victoria Secret catalog… she automatically says,

"oh, one day soon my friends… just you wait! I will be with you soon!"

I know that she is raring to go and have this labor begin. Although, when it starts she may change her tune; we will just have to wait and see.

I know that my wife is one of the strongest and most positive people I know… so labor, complete with epidural, should be a walk in the park. (Notice how I can say this because I am a man and have no idea what it would feel like to have something the size of a watermelon come out of my… well okay.) I, of course, will be there supporting her the entire time… One thing I will not be doing is making sure I institute the teachings of the church of Scientology. If my woman wants to scream… let it be known… she can yell, scream and shout out anything she wants!

We are truly ready for our lives to never be the same. One day maybe Kelly Clarkson will change her mind... this is such an exciting time for us... I couldn't imagine not wanting to experience being a parent.

Not to get too psychological, but after the labor, our "new" normal will begin to unfold… the new tapestry that is weaved into our lives will be set forth into motion. The old becomes new, different… and our future will have arrived!

Mauldin will be our "new" normal…

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Couple of Mopes

Our dogs are Grumpy…

Sad or grumpy would actually be understatements. They are gloomy, cheerless, poignant, distressed, if you will…

Pick one of the aforementioned adjectives and they could both take the place of “Grumpy” from Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs!

Logan, our hyper and always energetic Beagle, seems so melancholy… and Andy, our hyper-sensitive West Highland Terrier doesn’t know what to think. Andy just follows suit with whatever Logan, the Matriarch, does. They are a couple of mopes these days. We are not exactly sure, but we think they aren’t receptive to change. Logan basically shunned us for two days when we brought Andy home for the first time. Finally, she warmed up to him and now they are inseparable!

The other day, as Laura was casually lounging on the couch; Logan woefully hopped up onto Laura’s lap and just sat there like she was a breed that is about 20lbs less than she actually is!

Her expression was that of, “can’t you see how sad I am? Haven’t you noticed? What do I have to do to show you? I mean I can’t talk, so here… this is my SOS to you… Heed my notice master. I am sad.”

She stayed perched upon Laura’s lap even while we roared with laughter. It is on a very rare occasion that we allow our pups on the furniture and this was not one of those instances.

It was so out-of-the blue that we did not know how to react! It is absolutely shocking how protective and concerned our dogs have become in the past few months. They both follow Laura around as if they are waiting for her to collapse, or even, gasp, for her water to break! I certainly would not know what they would do, besides try and lick it up, if that were to happen!

How is it dogs are so aware of what is going on during pregnancy? I mean I know we have some super-intelligent K-9’s, but seriously? Do they know what is about to happen? Do they understand what we talk about when we discuss bringin Mauldin home? What if they think Mauldin is another dog? LOL!

Well, it will certainly be interesting to observe how they react when we finally bring Mauldin home… (that is, if he ever is BORN!)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Baby Gap

It is one thing to be prepared, but a totally different thing to be Eric & Laura Skates. We are known to over-plan, over-worry, over-spend & above all, over-pack!

“As soon as you guys relax” says Janice, my mother, in a tone that echoes years of experience of a woman way beyond her years… “and are unprepared, it will happen... He wants to surprise you!”

Laura and I have been so surprised at how slow this process of, the end, seems to be! Why won’t he come? Why? We have heard it all… patience.. he will come when he comes.. blah, blah, blah…

Okay that is good and all, but hurry it up, lil’ man! We are ready to see you…

“Thanks mom,” I reply with a hint of annoyance. “But, it… I.. okay, fine...”

For some reason parents tend to be correct, no matter how much you don’t want them to be, but soon I will be one of “those” parents, so I guess I can cut my parents, and in-laws, some slack, huh?

This past weekend, my wife Laura and I went out to do some last minute shopping… you know to better prepare Mauldin for his arrival into this world. We figured one more pair of socks would do the trick.

“You know,” said Laura, “if he waits just a few more days he can be an Aries, like his daddy!” She says this with a bright-eyed smile across her face all the while sliding hangers around a for sale rack in Baby Gap.

“Can you handle that?” I replied.

“Ohh… well, I guess we’ll see!” she quickly replied.

“Well, if he comes this week, on the 17th, he will be a lucky baby!” I interjected. Tuesday, March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day… the day Laura picked in the Mauldin Baby Pool!

“Yah, and I would be right again.” Said Laura, turning around and pointing at herself with a resolute finger. “That means I would be right! Again!”

“Yes dear.” I said in a hesitant agreement. Laura and I are both competitive individuals and so one of us always is right… guess which one that is…

“He just has a few more days,” I said while holding up my hand counting on my fingers. “A few more days and he will be a Pisces!” Baby Gap has astrology onesies and it would be just our luck we buy the one we think he will be and will end up having to return it for the other…

Soon, lil’ man, soon… we keep sayin’… he has heard about how bad the economy is and doesn’t wanna come out! We got your stimulus package!!!!!!! LOL!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Baby Talk

The other day my wife, Laura, and I were sitting around in my son’s, currently vacant, nursery and were in complete awh of how it is almost finished… almost because it is missing one significant, little tiny, but most important detail! Mauldin!

“Can you believe it?” said Laura while rocking in our big, brown comfy chair. “It seems like just yesterday we were moving the twin bed out of here to make room for all of Mauldin’s things.”

“Yah,” I said while sitting in the floor Indian style, like a small child waiting for a present. “I didn’t think this nursery would ever be complete.”

“Well, it isn’t yet… yah know?” said Laura.

“I know,” I said. “but as soon as he gets here…”

“It will be totally complete.” Said Laura as she scanned the room; from the cherry finished crib to her left to the open closest, that stood open, in front of her. The closet is so full now. It has a wide range of baby clothes from 0-3 to 6-12 months. Little osh-kosh overalls, cute little polo rompers and of course the little new balance shoes that hang so innocently in the shoe hanger on the door.

“Do you think we will remember what clothes he has?” I said wide-eyed and starting to get a slight head-ache. “I mean, we have so many clothes… how can we possibly get him in all those clothes by the time he grows out of them! I seriously think we have over 200 onesies!”

I reached over to my left and pulled open the top drawer to his changing table. The drawer was a little cumbersome to open without some of the clothes spilling out.

“No, I don’t think we will.” Said Laura with a sweet coy smile. She was holding up one of the little, blue newborn shirts with a pink pig on it. The shirt read Our lil’ Ham!

“But, we certainly will try… how cute is this?” she continued with a voice that is a little more high pitched than normal and a hint of baby talk. “He is gonna be so adorable!”

“Yes,” I started. “But, lets just hope we don’t hear the… awh what a cute outfit, instead of, awh what a cute baby! That’s when you know your baby isn’t that cute.”

Laura didn’t even reply to my comment; she continued with her nesting, all the while she was still sitting in the big, brown chair. Laura was focused on folding some of the receiving blankets. She was using her pregnant belly as a way to assist her in the folding.

I sat on the floor and my mind began to wonder off into what it was going to be like, in a few weeks, after my son had arrived. Would his poop make me wanna puke? What if I give him the wrong kind of advice, as a father? More importantly, will he like Star Wars? All of a sudden, I am brought back to the present… as I hear…“would you like that?” Was my wife talking and I was not paying attention? How long had I been gone? Can I play this off without her knowing? I think of that Ellen skit where she shows you how to play off that you weren’t paying attention. I figure, oh why not try it!

I look at her, smile and shake my head as I am nodding yes… Yes! I passed it off… she had no idea! Then I thought.. holy crap Batman – I have no idea, at ALL, to what I was agreeing to. I was hoping it was just about what we would maybe be having for dinner…

I immediately follow and say “hey, you wanna go watch Smallville?” We are big Smallville fans... we have every season except for the current one, of course.

Laura is usually always up for that and this time was no different… my wife is used to my ADD tendancies, so this did not phase her at all.

So, where was I? Ooooh Shiney!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Racing the clock....

“Hey babe,”

I said while talking into my cell phone to my wife, Laura, on the other end. It is a nice phone, it is my crack-berry, as my wife so eloquently calls it. It is something I have come to find I cannot live without. It is about a three inch high black and gray blackberry that has become one of my appendages. Mainly so because I am awaiting a call that says... "IT's time! Really, it is time!"

“I just got out of class and I am on my way home…I am starving…!”

It was 7:33 PM and I knew I would be cutting it close to get home in time to watch “Survivor.” It is a new season and the third episode would be coming on. I hate missing it. Between thinking of missing “Survivor” and eating I really started to have an mild panic attack.

You may wonder... "Survivor?" Okay, I have loved this show since the first season in Borneo. I have even tried out a couple of times. Well, when I was in my early 20s, that is. I would love to be on this show... mainly because no one would suspect I would do well. One day, one day... I will have my torch and I will be "the ultimate sole Survivor!" hahaha

“What have you had to eat today?” said Laura with a tone that I hate to hear. It is like she is disappointed in me… a tone only a mother usually would use.

“I ate.” I said, with short and to-the-point resonance.

“Ate what?” Laura asked.

“I had a Venti, non-fat, w/ whip Carmel Macchiato,” I said. “and a blueberry muffin!”

“Eric,” Laura said with a sultry sigh. “That is not enough…”

“I’m on my way home.” I interjected quickly, “can you maybe fix me a Caesar salad when I get home?”

“Yes.” She replied. “But, we don’t have any mozzarella cheese, can you pick some up at Publix?”

“Yep!” I said, “anything else? I was hoping this would be all because I was fading fast. The amount of sugar in my body was at an all-time low. I could feel my heart racing, I began to sweat and could tell that my caffeine buzz had worn off and all I had left were the jitters that caffeine leaves behind. I was basically a crack addict, but only thing was that my drug was coffee.

“Yes,” she said.

My fear was alive and well; she was going to have me meander around this store looking for something that I could not possibly find… it was probably going to be something of a womanly nature… like pads or something… however… I was cut off from my thinking when she said…

“Sweet tea. The Publix sweet tea, it is right next to the deli.”

What a sweet woman. She knew, to tell me, exactly where to go because being in my current state-of-mind I would need all the assistance in finding said beverage. By this time it was already 7:46 PM,; I knew I had less than 15 minutes to get into Publix, pick up everything I needed and be home in time for the opening montage.

I make it to Publix… I decide while there I will pick me and Laura up a sub so we can eat together. I am glad I did because, come to find out, Laura hadn’t eaten since 3 PM! I was in no mood to get into an argument, so I let it slide. I knew the argument would seriously cut into both my show and the affection I may receive later...

“Okay, I am home!” I said while running in and dropping off my laptop on the near by love seat. The love seat we have is so nice. It came from Rooms-to-Go, however, it sure has held up pretty good. But, everyone keeps reminding me that our house will soon lose its luster when Mauldin arrives.

“I’m glad to see you.” Said Laura.

I could tell she was waiting for me to notice she was there. I looked at the clock, it was 7:59 PM. I had made it! I couldn’t believe I made it home and had not missed my show! I ran over and kissed my wife ever-so gently on the cheek and embraced her. It was hard to get a good hug in lately due to her pregnant belly. I can’t pull her in as close as we used to without it being in the back of my mind that we are about to squish Mauldin to death. In my mind it felt like we were in slow motion. My mind was racing a million miles a minute due to the amount of caffeine I had ingested a few hours before. I was so hungry my primal instincts began to take over. I wanted food… I wanted it now…

“Yes,” I replied. “I am so glad to be home!”

I finally got home to eat salad, my sub; see my show and love on my woman.

Moral of story… Venti coffee’s from Starbucks.. can really mess you up. Get a grande.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Lets go to the Mall!"

Today my wife, Laura, is going to meet her mom, my mother-in-law, Carol, and they are going "Mall Walking!"

She thinks this might make the labor progress a little more, because she tends to get stronger contractions while she is on her feet.

So, we'll see if walking by Victoria Secret & The Disney Store will cause Mauldin to try and make an appearance...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"We must have patience"

“Do you want a cookie?”

This is the question I asked my little niece, Annagrace, the other day…

My wife Laura and I had gone over to my sister-in-law’s house to have pizza & watch a movie (Kung-Fu Panda) we had gotten from Net Flix a few days prior. We, more times than any, always have some sort of dessert after dinner at Jenn and Paul’s house. Normally, it is some sort of sugary confection, ie. Cookies or brownies, but this evening it was Nestle toll house mini cookies.

She gleefully responded, “Yes!” She’s two and her eyes seem to light up when she hears the word cookie, or baby for that matter. But, that is a story for another day.

“Yes, what?” I say…

“Yes, peas…” she replied with splendid eagerness.

“Well, they are still cooking,” I said. “Go back and finish watching Kung-fu Panda while they finish.”

“Otay” she says.

She runs back into the den decked out in her pink and frilly apron complete with pink and crimson bakers hat.

A few minutes pass and we hear a beeping sound that alerts that the cookies are done! It also gives my sister-in-law’s crazy pooches, two Shelties named Cagney & Lacey, who love to bark at anything, the chance to yap their little heads off... I find they hate it when I wave the spatula in the air while doing my best Kung-Fu moves… It makes them go bizurk! They tend to run around in circles while yapping at the air... It is quite entertaining!

“Eric, stop agitating them!” said Laura.

“But, it’s fun!” I reply like a little kid who has found something that allows attention brought on.

Jenn, Laura’s sister, and my wife give me a stern look as to give me a silent reprimand. I proceed over to the oven to retrieve the freshly baked cookies.

“Annagrace, they are done!” I said.

“Yaaaay!” she yells. “I want one.”

“Alright, you can have one, but they have to cool-off a little first,” I said “they are still hot!”

“Otay,” she said in defeated voice. “But…I want a cookie!”

“Annagrace, we need to begin doing something that most adults practice on a daily basis…” Laura looks over at me in wonderment, confused, and probably very confused where I am going with this notion.

“We must have… patience.” I said this while invoking my inner Kung-fu Panda. I proceeded to put both my palms together as if I were going to pray and proceeded to bend my knees down to her level and repeated what I said before.

“We must have patience… Something Uncle Eric still is working on himself! Can you show me how you have patience?”

“Yes,” Annagrace replied, as she clasped her two tiny palms together and whispered the word, “patience.”

Very good,” I said. “I have much to teach you, my young Padawan.”

I was so surprised with the whole situation! You can certainly learn a lot about yourself while helping a kid making cookies! I am looking forward to having a lot of fun with Mauldin when he gets here...