Saturday, April 21, 2012

Gratefulness; or, the rare gift of an attachment-parent husband

Parenting instinctually is important to me.  Really, really important to me.  And I am so blessed to be married to a guy to whom it’s also important.  Ben is constantly encouraging me to follow my instincts, even when it isn’t an issue that feels like a big deal to him as a guy. 

There’s the fact that every night, we split ways for the first part of the night.  Because Timothy starts the night in a twin bed across the hall from us (so as not to disturb Vivi who’s on our floor), and I couldn’t feel comfortable leaving him in there alone, even with a monitor- and it wasn’t making sense to move/wake him to our room.  Mentally, I knew he would be fine and we were close by….but I just couldn’t make myself feel comfortable with that.  And unlike most guys, who’d just tell their wives that obviously the baby would be fine and someone would hear it, he said “I’ll sleep in the extra bed in there, and bring him to you when he wakes up.  It’s not a problem; I can sleep anywhere.”  He assured me that I should follow my instincts, and if I wasn’t comfortable leaving him alone, then one of us should be in there.  And it works for us…I don’t worry, we all fall asleep quickly, and by midnight, if not long before, we’re all in the same room/bed together.  (And as a side note, no, it doesn’t damage our marriage.  On the nights we all start in the same bed, we all still just fall asleep.  By the time we get there….we’re tired.   You can ask Ben if you don’t believe me…but we do get lots of snuggle time after kiddos go to bed and before we do!)

Or there’s calming my concerns about our kids’ development.  Not real concerns….I’m totally confident that they’re both developing normally, and are intelligent, active kids.  I’m also confident that the way we parent them is best for them and meeting their needs.  But at a few points, when I started to wonder if Timothy, like his big sis, would be “behind” kids developmentally, I suffered from brief self-doubt.  Is it really our parenting style that causes them to be behind?  Please, I don’t want to have to deal with explaining to people that yes, Timothy, too, is over a year and still not walking.  And um, yeah, no, babywearing isn’t hurting him.  Or….?  But Ben jumps in and reminds me of what the real focus is: What’s best for our kids?  So maybe because they’re with me so much they won’t move as soon, because they don’t need to.  Does it matter? Their emotional needs are being met; they’re being grounded in our love and growing up securely; they’re developing their muscles as they enjoy partaking in my life.  The golden standard isn’t what society tells me it is.  Just because the baby who’s left down for hours a day is crawling at 5 months, doesn’t mean that’s what everyone needs to shoot for.  And if Timothy’s 8 months before it happens…who cares?  He’s developing normally, and he’s SO happy, secure, and confident.  That’s what matters….and Ben reminds me. 

Or the way he’s encouraged my breastfeeding journey.  When I’ve gotten discouraged with nursing aversion issues with Vivi, he didn’t just say, “Well, then, why don’t you just wean her if you don’t like it?”  Instead, he sought to find out what my goals were, and how he could help me reach those goals.  At one point, that was taking over nighttime parenting so I could switch to just nursing during the day.  At other points, it’s just been encouraging me to keep on…and encouraging me that it’s okay and I’m not a bad mom to struggle with the hormonal baggage of tandem nursing.  But he never told me to quit crying about it, or reminded me that I “asked for it”. 

Ben lets me parent by instinct everyday…and as he supports my gut feelings, he also goes by his.  It’s a beautiful pattern- a beautiful way to parent together.  I love being so in sync with each other on our parenting journey!  I’m so thankful to have the rare gift of a husband who’s as passionate about natural parenting as I am…a husband who’s gung-ho for meeting our kids needs and parenting naturally, rather than putting me in a “choose me or them” position.  Together, we can seek what works best for everyone, instead of the pressure being put on me to choose between instinct and marriage, for instance.  I’m pretty confident I’ll never have to say, “Well, Ben really wanted (such and such), so we’re working on that.  It’s hard, but it’s what he wanted, so….I guess it’ll all work out.” 

Thank you, Ben, for supporting your crazy, passionate wife as we parent two awesome kids with plenty of challenges!

24 comments:

  1. I'm definitely one who is in favor of being passionate about parenting and children. Indeed there is no more noble of a goal than to desire the best for one's own. You and Ben appear to be the type of people who far exceed the average parent in your dedication to your heritage. For this, I praise you. Your children will be blessed by your love for them. There are numerous advantages they will have above others.

    Although I mean what I said above, I want to give urgent caution against many of the negative aspects to what you have and continue to write about. As you have written before, you desire to have a balance, and not go to any extreme (I assume). The type of attachment parenting you write about practicing, is very extreme and unbalanced.

    With mercy there must also be truth and justice. As parents we ought to strive to show God to our children as much as possible. Whom the Lord loveth, he chaseneth. The Bible teaches the goodness and the severity of God.

    If we always give our children what they want, if we cater to their every desire, they are going to turn out to be spoiled, selfish, self-centered people. And teaching them that they cannot always get what they want, that they must give, be patient, and be told no, is foundational from a young age, for when they are older.

    I understand from what I've read from both you and Ben that you have a belief that everyone should do what their heart leads them to do. This is not Biblical. The Bible teaches whoever trusts in his own heart is a fool. We must be guided by Biblical principles from God's word, not be emotion and feelings. I fear that many of your decisions are based on the above, and pray you will seek God and consider.

    Our God is the type of God that allows suffering, even to the extend that Jesus thought his Father had forsaken him. There are many times when we as Christians feel that God has abandoned us, or we feel that he doesn't love us because he allows certain things to happen. But when we consider God's word, we understand that all things work together for good for those who love God. It goes against all reason and emotion, but we know from God's word that it is true; that sometimes God allows hard and difficult trials.

    It should not be any different when we parent our children. Sometimes parents must chasten our children because we love them. Sometimes we must deny them comfort for the sake of character development. If you do not train your children to control their passions when they are young, it will be all the more difficult as they become older.

    I understand that as a woman it is easy to be led by emotion. That is why a woman needs a strong man to lead her into truth. That is why God chose the man to lead the home, lead the Church, and lead government. Woman is to be man's helper. It strongly appears what you have is the exact opposite; Ben offering the supporting role as help meet, following you, led by emotion.

    I hope to God I am wrong about this all, and that your children will turn out the exact opposite of what I am predicting. But the evidence is stacked against what you are doing. Multitudes of godly families throughout the generations bear testimony to this.

    I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I believe that God would have you to at least consider this; in this generation, people are afraid to give hard truth to a friend. Truth is not relative, and there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Obviously you would have to agree if you were to be consistent. If you feel attachment parenting is best for your children, it is because you feel that those who don't practice it are not doing what is best for their children. Again, truth and goodness are not relative, and while I don't believe every child should be trained in the exact same way, there are definite principles we ought to follow.

    God bless Brianna and Ben Graber.

    Mr. Rosenberg

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  2. Wow, I love this post! I definitely would love to have a marriage and husband like that some day! Thanks for sharing the beauty of your parent-child and spouse relationships! :-) (reader from the rebel bs group ;) )

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    1. Thanks! :-) Yeah, he's a keeper for sure! I'm really, really blessed to have a husband I can walk hand-in-hand with through life...best friends on a journey together with our kids. Thanks for stopping by....blessings!

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    2. Definitely! It's always an encouragement to see a couple so in sync with each other and their children. :-)

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  3. Mathias,

    Your comment appears to be a direct reproof of my choices as a husband and a father, so I thought I would chime in and respond to some of your points.

    While I appreciate your concern for our spiritual journey, I am afraid that you have formed opinions about choices that we have made while not truly understanding our relationship with God and the reasons why we have made the choices we have made. We do what we do because we believe it is what God is calling us to do and because it is what we feel is right; at the same time we encourage other parents to live as the Spirit calls them to (to follow Christ, not us).

    You wrote: “With mercy there must also be truth and justice. As parents we ought to strive to show God to our children as much as possible. Whom the Lord loveth, he chaseneth. The Bible teaches the goodness and the severity of God.”

    Our desire to show Father’s love to our children is the exact reason we have made the choices we have made. We other our children grace and truth, patiently and lovingly guiding them as they grow and mature. We do not let our children get away with anything they want; we gently and lovingly chasten them away from improper behavior.

    You wrote: “If we always give our children what they want, if we cater to their every desire, they are going to turn out to be spoiled, selfish, self-centered people. And teaching them that they cannot always get what they want, that they must give, be patient, and be told no, is foundational from a young age, for when they are older.”

    We do not always give our children what they want. You are drawing a picture of our family from a stereotype that simply isn’t true.
    You wrote: “I understand from what I've read from both you and Ben that you have a belief that everyone should do what their heart leads them to do.”

    You understand incorrectly. We believe that everyone should do what the Holy Spirit is calling them to do. There is a big difference between the two.

    You wrote: “I understand that as a woman it is easy to be led by emotion. That is why a woman needs a strong man to lead her into truth. That is why God chose the man to lead the home, lead the Church, and lead government. Woman is to be man's helper. It strongly appears what you have is the exact opposite; Ben offering the supporting role as help meet, following you, led by emotion.”

    Again, you are drawing a picture of our family from a stereotype that simply isn’t true. I am not “following” my wife; we are walking through life together, together making the choices we feel are right. I encourage (support) my wife in her role as a mother; she encourages (supports) me in my role as a father.

    You wrote: “I hope to God I am wrong about this all, and that your children will turn out the exact opposite of what I am predicting.”
    Isn’t it a bit rude to predict that the children I love will be failures? I promise you that I am pouring every part of my life into being the best father I can be, the father that I believe God wants me to be. If He wants me to change my ways, I am open to His leading.

    You wrote: “If you feel attachment parenting is best for your children, it is because you feel that those who don't practice it are not doing what is best for their children.”

    We believe that attachment parenting is best for our children. It is not our role to tell other people what is best for their children – that is the Holy Spirit’s role. We share our perspective with the hope that other people might be encouraged by it, not to judge those who are different from us.

    You wrote: “Again, truth and goodness are not relative, and while I don't believe every child should be trained in the exact same way, there are definite principles we ought to follow.”

    I agree that there are principles we ought to follow. We are doing our best to follow the principles that God has established, and will continue to encourage everyone else to do so as well.

    Blessings,
    Ben

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    1. "Your comment appears to be a direct reproof of my choices as a husband and a father"

      They certainly are a reproof of your choices Ben. And your responses to what I wrote are a reproof of my choice to write what I wrote. One of the common themes in your post is that you are entirely inconsistent in your beliefs and practices. You take offense at a reproof, then in turn, offer a reproof. If you were being consistent, then you'd say something like, "It's not my place to tell you what you should and should not write". Also, by telling people "it's not your place to say what other parents should do" (paraphrase), you are actually telling people what they ought to do. It's entirely similar to people who judge others by telling them they are "judgmental". In order to tell them that they are judgmental, you have to judge them.

      "We believe that attachment parenting is best for our children. It is not our role to tell other people what is best for their children – that is the Holy Spirit’s role."

      That is hogwash. It is the role of Christians to admonish and even sometimes rebuke one another who are out of line. And it's our role to proclaim truth. I severely doubt you are consistent in this line of thought either. If you knew of a parent who was abusing or starving his children, you'd certainly step in and offer some words. I doubt that you would say, "that's the holy spirit's job". So when someone sees an unbiblical and destructive way of parenting (destructive to the spirit of the child) it is certainly their duty to offer correction. Just as you offered correction to me saying,

      "Isn’t it a bit rude to predict that the children I love will be failures?"

      I believe my prediction is 100 % as rude as the statements made by Jeremiah to the children of Israel. Open rebuke is better than secret love. Just as faith without works is dead. Just as I believe those who send their children to government schools will most certainly not have godly children, so I believe those who practice extremist attachment parenting will have children who will not turn out well. I'm not saying it will be this way in every single situation, but certainly the statistics will bear out this truth overall, just as they do with those who send their children to public schools.

      The type of Christianity you believe is more in compatible with Christian Universalism, than with the historic Christian faith, which is unfortunate (it is also very similar to the feminist agenda). It's also very similar to the humanism promoted by public schools that promotes diversity and equality, and where there is no truth, just preferences. You would likely hold God in condemnation for having sodomites put to death, or the righteous Kings who drove them out of the land. But you'd never be afraid to condemn the actions of those who would have God's laws enforced, in such as situation.

      "We do not always give our children what they want. You are drawing a picture of our family from a stereotype that simply isn’t true."

      I'm drawing it from the multiple posts your wife makes, supporting my claim. No stereotype is needed. The very fact that your wife feels so guilty constantly is proof enough that your methods are not of God.

      "We believe that everyone should do what the Holy Spirit is calling them to do."

      Well, then I guess you shouldn't have a problem that the holy spirit is calling me to write a rebuke to the parenting style you have chosen. If you don't believe that the holy spirit is leading me to write this, then perhaps you'd have to come to admit that sometimes people who think they are being led by God, really aren't being led by him at all. That is why people must offer correction.

      God bless Ben. I don't enjoy being the bad guy, but someone has to say something.

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    2. Mathias,

      I don't have any problem with your offering a rebuke. Though I must say that the spirit with which you do so comes across as very condemning. But whatever; that is up to you.

      You set up a straw man argument suggesting that one has to either go around telling everyone else how to live or let everyone else live any way they want to. There is a HUGE difference between admonishing another person and telling them exactly how they have to live. Romans 14, Galatians, and plenty of other passages in the Bible charge us to follow the Spirit rather than the opinions of someone else.

      You don't know me, my wife, or my kids, and yet you set yourself up as an expert on our family. I am happy to take advice and listen to rebuke, but I need to know that the advice I take is good.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Blessings,

      Ben

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    3. Ben, I'm sure the prophets, such as Jeremiah, came across as very condemning to Israel as well. You are the one who is setting up the strawmen (claiming that anyone who disagrees with your methods is "telling someone else how to live" and that I claim to be "an expert on your family"), and also creating the stereotypes.

      You have painted a picture that whoever does not do things the way you do it, is a macho chauvinist male who is selfish and does not care about his wife's bonding time with her children. This is a false representation. There are two extremist views: 1) That which you condemn in your posts and 2) That which you practice and preach. I believe in neither, and Christians throughout history did not either.

      One more thing: When you speak in favor of something and say "I'm so glad that I'm such and such way" you are simultaneously speaking against those who do not do it. Trying to cover it up with words like "We believe it is best for us" does not convince any thinking person. Would you be convinced if a parent spent no time with their child, showed no affection, and yelled and screamed at them, that they are led by God and that they are doing what is best for their child? Would it be okay for that parent to say, "We believe this is best for our children"?

      Of course you wouldn't (at least I hope you wouldn't). That is because this isn't a preference issue like, "I prefer chocolate ice cream more than vanilla. "

      Be consistent and don't mask your beliefs about others decisions for the sake of appearing pious and "non-judgmental". The way you speak out about how glad you are that you do it one way (rather than another) shows that you believe it is harmful for parents to practice a different method. Don't be dishonest by offering the excuse that you just believe it's right for your situation.

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    4. 'Mathias', how nice it is for you that men are more rational then women. How nice it is for you that the creator and sustainer of the universe said that you get to control the women and children you are in relationship with. It's a good thing you are commenting on this blog so that the women reading it don't get the idea that they have equal rights to men or should be equal partners with their husbands and have equal decision making power in raising their children.

      I'm glad my God isn't anything like your God, because if an abusive God were the only option I'd be morally obligated to fight against him with everything I've got. Fortunately, my God is quite different. For one thing, he created both men and women in his image (Gen 1:27), both equally capable of rational thought, discerning His will, and following His way. He even described Jesus with feminine pronouns in the Proverbs (http://creation.com/wisdom-created-or-jesus) and Himself with feminine imagery throughout the Scriptures (http://www.womensordination.org/content/view/234/) and even a feminine pronoun (http://theologicalscribbles.blogspot.com/2009/04/god-as-she.html).

      p.s. If your God told you he was the only God out there, he was lying. My God could kick your God's ass.

      (I have a blog at beccasteablog.wordpress.com but for some reason blogger isn't letting me post with it.)

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  4. I loved this post - it really is a blessing to have a husband who is involved and supportive, especially with a baby in the home. I think it's too bad that our culture can stereotype what a strong man looks like into something macho and tough. It takes a strong man to do put his children above his own desires (for sleep or intimacy, for example) for a time in order to help his wife and love and care for his children. I'm really thankful that my husband has recognized how co-sleeping helps me get sleep and is very supportive of keeping our little guy with us until he's closer to night-weaning! We can still prioritize our marriage; it just takes flexibility and spontaneity at times. ;)

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    1. Exactly, Danae! My parents did cosleeping (and still do with my VERY attached 6 year old sister :-P) all their marriage, and still ended up with 12 kids. LOL... I hate the "macho man" stereotype, and I dislike that attitude in men I meet. But I'm more attracted to a soft-hearted nerdy type anyways... LOLz :-)

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    2. Yes, lots of flexibility and spontaneity- and sometimes more rigidity and less spontaneity than I would like. :-) At any rate...you can certainly make things like sex happen. It's been a desired priority for us since our engagement, and one we've more or less been able to make happen (obviously, there are unpredictable newborn seasons, sick seasons, teething seasons, and other life stuff), to have a fairly early bedtime for kiddos so we get evening time to hang out just the two of us. *Even though* we cosleep, babywear, and in general, attachment-parent. ;-) Joanna, my parents have coslept us kids' whole lives (at my dad's preference!) and somehow my parents have still managed to have an active sex life. The 2 year old is still with them....and the 4 year old only recently moved out of the room and in with big sis.

      And I agree- I hate the guy stereotype. The way Ben views manliness and leadership as being the first to serve rather than a dictator has hugely blessed our relationship and family, not to mention others. Even though he isn't godly enough, hehe. :-)

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  5. Ben and Brianna Hugs to you both. I love your hearts.

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    1. Thanks, Sarah. Your short little reply warmed my heart. :-)

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  6. Your relationship with each other and with your children is the perfect picture of Christ's relationship with us and our relationship with our own Heavenly Father. I see such an encouraging model of how God treats us in how you treat your children. Thank you for giving us little glimpses into this dynamic, Brianna!

    It's disheartening to me to see a post dedicated to praising your husband for being such a wonderful husband and father chastised and put down by a judgmental person who thinks he has a right to put you in your place. But it's what I've come to expect from many corners of Christendom. :( Because your relationship doesn't fit his idea of "the perfect godly marriage/family" he is wrongfully and ridiculously condemning you. Thankfully, you and Ben both know how good you have you it. Don't let others' ignorance and superiority get to you. You obviously both follow God and love each other and your kids are so blessed to have you for parents.

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    1. :-) Enjoyed your comment, Darcy... And I've appreciated getting to know you a little via Ben and through reading bits of your blog.

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  7. I really enjoyed this post! A beautiful snapshot of a husband and wife working together and looking out for each other. :)

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  8. I think so much of parenting is instinct. There is no book, or anyone else, that knows your child as you do.

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    1. Agreed! Or at least, so much of parenting should be instinct....some books have done a pretty good job of persuading moms they really do have the answers!

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  10. I've been trying to figure out the best way to express my thoughts about what you have written, because it mirrors our experience as parents in many ways. As young parents, we were given much advice and even more unsolicited critique about our parenting technique as we faced considerable challenges with our firstborn. He just wasn't your average kid. A lot of people had "answers" for us. The problem was that they weren't living where we were and much of what was suggested had already been tried, to no avail.

    We had an extremely high maintenance, loud, passionate, curious, intelligent and high energy boy on our hands. Some kids make parenting look easy and I think that a lot of the parenting books are written by parents of these children. If you get an easygoing kid, you look like a parenting pro. If you get a challenging child, your best efforts can look to the outside observer like you're a bumbling idiot.

    To make a lengthy story short, my wife dropped out of everything she was involved in at church and otherwise to tend to this baby full time. I, on the other hand, continued in multiple church ministry endeavors. All good stuff, but I was allowing my wife to carry the burden of dealing with a child who required a great deal of active parental involvement. I wish the lights had gone on sooner but it took me awhile to realize that she really needed me to engage as a parent. She could not do this by herself. She gave up everything and I gave up nothing.

    Eventually I began to realize the burden she was carrying and I began divesting myself of all of these ministry endeavors. I figured that God wouldn't disqualify me from fatherhood if I couldn't do all the ministry stuff but He can and would DQ me from ministry for failing in my responsibilities to my family. My wife needed help. My wife needed encouragement. My wife needed support. She needed a strong man to come alongside her, not to lecture her about what she was doing wrong, not to "instruct" her, not to straighten out but to walk alongside her, as she walks with me - on a journey together.

    There was a certain cultural more in some Christian circles I used to frequent that said that the things I wanted to accomplish in my volunteer ministry work, the visions I had and the work I was doing, came first and that my wife should accept that and hold down the fort. I completely, totally, utterally reject that notion. It would have been selfish and stupid of me to continue as I had been. I was an idiot to wait as long as I did before coming around. I was out there having interaction with people, being recognized for good work, being validated, working hard, enjoying fellowship and doing "good stuff" while my wife was at home, alone, dying inside and in need of my presence.

    When two people have children, their priorities change. They have one primary job: parenting. Some seasons are more intense than others. Ours was intense from the get-go. I don't want to wander off the context of the original post so let me just say that Ben, you get it. You understand that parenting is not a job for absentee men who are busy sitting at the city gate while their wives carry the full burden of childrearing. I think you have a very good handle on what "love your wife" means. You seem to understand that leadership of a home is not about some chest-beating, knuckle-dragging, dictatorial football coach paradigm. Being sensitive to your wife's emotions, instincts and thoughts is a strength, not a weakness.

    When I was born, my mother hemmoraged and my father's wise counsel to her was, "It's just like a football injury... you get up and run it off!" Sometimes we fellas just need to get a clue.

    Jim K.

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    1. Thanks for sharing some of your journey, Jim! I enjoyed reading about it...

      The story about your parents made me laugh.....but I wouldn't have been if I was your mother, let me tell you. :-)

      We, too, had a very high-needs first...she's blessed us in so many ways, but I would've crashed and burned, or come pretty close, without Ben being so involved in our parenting journey. While we each have some of our "own" dreams in a sense (for instance, I run babywearing classes and an etsy shop -- he's pursuing a Master's so he can switch to a career where he can reach out to teens, something he has a heart for), we're entwined in each other's...and our biggest dreams and priorities (for both of us) are our kiddos, as you said. Doing it jointly allows us to pour into our kids a whole lot more than I could solely....and consequently, allows us to put more into our marriage, too. Win-win...except that no one's out doing something "great" and note-worthy, and Ben isn't getting praised up-and-down for being a great leader and me for being a good submissive wife, holding everything together. :-P

      It's been quite a journey, coming to see how God desires things for our family. I didn't always see things the way I do now. :-)

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  11. This is beautiful, your relationship is beautiful. :) Thank you for sharing this, it was encouraging on so many levels. :)

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    1. Thanks, Rachel! Glad you enjoyed.... Thanks for stopping by!

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