Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Book Review - Money Secrets of the Amish

A while ago I bought Money Secrets of the Amish, hoping that the author would have some fantastic insights about Amish life, come to a new appreciation of Plain living, and would explain how they started doing a lot of things to pare down their excess and start working with their hands more.


The author lives somewhere along 283 in Lancaster County - I could tell, because I used to live along that corridor too, and I recognized the thrift stores she mentioned hitting during her "Amish shopping experiment".

Apparently she's rather well-to-do, upper middle class. She shops new (though sometimes at outlets), and mentions Talbots and Ann Taylor Loft as favorite shops for birthday splurges. Her kids play hockey (not a cheap activity), though she mentions her car is the shabbiest looking one in the parking lot. And she was confused about how the Amish manage to pay cash for nearly everything.

Anyone who knows about the Amish will tell you a few basic principles about how they manage to afford their lifestyle and pay cash for most things, and she does hit on these here. One, they follow the dictum "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without". There's a certain amount of self-denial of desires involved in Amish living! Two, the social pressures and expectations are different for Plain people - there's a Keeping DOWN with the Stolzfuses rather than a Keeping UP with the Joneses mentality. Three, they value hard work and honor it as a virtue.

But there's something that the author didn't understand when she interviewed an Amish farmer who had just succeeded in buying a farm in Lancaster County (acreage is getting very expensive there). She cooed "So, I heard you were able to buy your own farm!" and he humbly replied "Ja, we were lucky enough to do that.". She then went off about how it seemed like a strange Amish trait to downplay all the hard work and discipline that went into saving for the farm, and called it luck instead.

It's not that they're downplaying the hard work and discipline - those are baseline traits for a good Amish person, after all - but that they're acknowledging that a run of bad luck could have set them back decades. A farmer understands that better than anybody - you can plant, cultivate, and water for months, all to have your whole crop ruined by a freak storm or infestation. A good crop is not guaranteed.

Likewise, a bad run of luck can wipe out years of hard work and savings for the "English" (non-Amish), but it usually has less to do with crops and storms, and more with layoffs, medical problems, an unexpected pregnancy, and other things beyond our control. Like when Jake was without work or income for 9 straight months - thank goodness we had savings in place, but we were down to our last $600 when he finally found work. And due to one thing and another, we still haven't rebuilt our savings to their previous level. Now, we should be completely out of debt (again) by the end of the year, but our cash reserves won't be back up for a long time. We're hoping to sell our house and move to a better school district next year, but that's going to take a huge amount of finishing old household projects before we can list.

Ideally, we would be able to get everything finished in a few months of weekend work... but sometimes things happen. Like Cathy being hospitalized again, like she was for 18 days in May, in a hospital an hour away from home. Like Jake getting a mammoth migraine the one day that he would be able to block out the time for woodworking. Like the little kids getting a stomach bug, new teeth, head lice, or anything that would cause me to lose a solid two or three days in sheer management efforts and sleep loss.

She also assumed that the Amish would make things rather than buy them, simply because homemade is better. Not always! She mentioned marshmallows as something that an Amish housewife might make up from sugar and gelatin, and moaned about her own failed homemade marshmallow experiments. Do you know what Amish women do when they want marshmallows? They pay 89 cents a bag for store bought. They save their efforts on homemade things for the stuff that makes sense - shoo-fly pie is cheap to make, expensive to buy. Marshmallows are cheap to buy, expensive and difficult to make. Save the energy for the hard stuff.

She didn't seem like she learned all that much in that regard - she did find out that it's easier to make many pies at once than one at a time. Which makes sense - make one mess to clean up, get out all the supplies once, get a rhythm going. She took herself on a thrift store expedition instead of her usual Talbots/Ann Taylor $100 birthday spree, and was delighted to find that you can get lovely, useable clothes for grownups at thrift stores.

All in all, it seemed like a book for those who are fairly well-off and who see the Amish as "quaint". Not too much in the way of heavy insight, it's more of a beginner's personal finance book. Then again, I wrote "Hard Core Poor"!

Monday, June 19, 2017


Yes! We got this beauty from Alicia Every in Seattle, who got it from someone who got it from someone who used to live in Japan, and brought it back with them. God bless her, she shipped it all the way to Harrisburg because I wanted it so much (and I paid her, so...).

As a cargo biker who has only ever ridden a trike with kids, this bike with pedal assist feels incredibly light and nimble by comparison. Even though it's about 65 pounds. The assist is a wild sensation when you're used to using a throttle powered assist - it kicks in naturally, like little angels lifting your feet along.  :D We've taken it for a few 10 mile rides, no issues other than needing to downscale the assist level so the battery would last all the way home. I could ride without it, but it's so nice to have that boost at the end of a long ride.

It has the awesome kickstand, a rear wheel lock for quick stops, a front wheel "deflopilator", the two baby seats, a saddle that I hadn't even noticed the first 5 rides or so because it was so comfy as to be invisible, power assist, and an integrated front light with a solar powered/activated rear light. It has so many built in goodies it's almost embarrassing to look at my kids second hand bikes and realize that they don't even have fenders or chain guards! The one thing it lacks while the kids are on board is storage, so Alicia threw in a pannier bag that hooks onto the back baby seat. She also threw in wonderful rain covers for the kid seats - they're made to fit right over the seat, baby and all, and keeps them out of the wind and rain. It's like putting a poncho with a vinyl window over them, but more breathable and fitted.

I love these bikes, and I wish I could import them, but I've come to a point where I've accepted that it's not for me to do right now. I have enough on my plate with 4 kids! If anyone is interested in importing used mamacharis to fix and sell, email me and I'll pass along my research and contacts.

Meanwhile, I've discovered that our local Commuter Services offers some very nice incentives to bike/walk/carpool/vanpool/bus to work. If you get stuck or have an emergency, they'll reimburse you for your ride home! (They call it a free ride home, but that sounds like they'll pay your Uber driver for you on the spot, and that's not quite it.) I requested a beginner bike commuter pack, and they sent a huge envelope of information, a bumper sticker, and a set of cheap but bright blinky lights! They went right on Catherine's bike, since she's riding to a friend's house almost daily now, and I want her to be safe in bad weather.

Friday, April 14, 2017

New ideas about EC (elimination communication), mamacharis (?) and importing (????)

Hey all!

So, baby Charlotte is a mobile little dynamo. She can't walk... yet... but she's 3 days shy of 10 months. Cruising really well on furniture, and here's a clip of her climbing the stairs!

In honor of the Ringling Bros/Barnum and Bailey Circus going out of business, we managed to score tickets to the nearest location, which was Wilkes-Barre - about a 80 minute drive from Harrisburg. I had never seen it before, though I had seen some smaller circuses with less impressive acts. This was top shelf, though my mother-in-law said that it used to be much more exciting when the elephants were still part of the show.

But the clowns were fun!

Even if Daniel was a little freaked out by them and wouldn't crack a smile.

So, I've been doing EC (elimination communication) with little Charlotte lately. Not full-bore gung-ho "we don't use diapers because I watch my baby's signals" EC, but most of the poops have been going in the potty, which is always nicer than having to wipe it off a bum and scrape it out of a diaper. And sometimes we get pees in the potty too,

One of the tricky things for ECing a baby is the fine line between easy potty access clothing and the desire for clean floors and keeping private bits private. The Chinese tend to swing to the easy access end with "split pants", but children then pee wherever, and their little bits are very visible. Here, everything is geared toward keeping the surroundings clean, but fast, easy access is not a high priority. Snap crotch shirts spring to mind immediately, and a lot of cloth diapers are very fiddly to take off and put back on unless the baby is lying down.

So, while browsing a Japanese website, I discovered these diaper covers that are recommended for preschoolers learning to use the potty. Since Charlotte is probably the same size as a Japanese preschooler, I ordered them, and I'm charmed! This is how they work -

The velcro belt wraps around the tummy, you tuck an absorbent pad or prefold in the cover, making sure it's held up in the back by the belt part, and bring the front tabs up to anchor it in place. The front pulls away easily enough and reattaches without fuss, making potty visits pretty easy.

I like them, but they're hard to find in this style in the US. I did find a few wholesale suppliers on, but I'm not sure if I would get much interest from the EC community, since they tend to also be very big on local, sustainable, fair trade, etc, and it's hard to confirm conditions via alibaba. And I am NOT going to start sewing them again. No. I may look into this a little further to see if I can find a reputable supplier, though - I think if I got a decent brand with an ethical supplier, they could sell here.

And on the idea that "if they were here, I bet they would sell" - Meet the Mamachari!


This bike is freaking EVERYWHERE in Japan. Look at the structure on those child seats, and how the front one is built into the handlebars! When those kids fall asleep on a long ride, they're not going to need anything special to keep them from flopping over - in fact, the front seat even RECLINES. BTW, both of those seats are designed to function as baskets when the kids aren't in them. What's more, all the mamacharis are designed with heavy duty kickstands, front wheel "de-flopilators" to keep the front end rigid when parked, dynamo lights, chain guards, and skirt guards. They tend to be single or three-speeds, but many of them come equipped with electric pedal assist.

And do you think you can buy them in the US? HECK NO! Not new, anyway. The entire mamachari market outside Japan is based on people who went there, bought one, moved away, and are finally selling it because their kids grew up.

But. I have found a used Japanese bicycle seller that will sell a 20' shipping container of 100 USED mamacharis - some of which would even have electric assist. Typically these shipping container bikes are sold to 3rd world countries, but since these are so unusual and interesting, I think there's a possibility that they could be refurbished and sold here at a decent profit. The trick would be raising the initial capital.

So, tell me - if you saw a bike like that on craigslist or eBay for, say, $400 plus shipping, or $600 plus shipping with pedal assist, would you consider buying it? The front child seat would be on there already, the rear seat might not come with it (but they're fairly easy to find here). Bike shipping within the continental US is usually in the ballpark of $150.

Let's hear it - what are your questions about the mamachari?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Adjusting with a new baby

Well, the new baby isn't so new anymore - she 7 months old and thisclose to crawling! But when something (or several things) changes so dramatically, it can take a little while to find your feet again.

For example, sweet little Charlotte was born in June. Having a breastfed baby along for things isn't so bad, but it does reduce available hands.

Instead of regular homeschooling this year, I switched Daniel to a public cyber charter school, because at the 6th grade level I was beginning to feel unequal to teaching all his subjects. We went with Commonwealth Cyber Academy (CCA), and they provide a laptop, curriculum, and teachers free of charge, and send an internet reimbursement check quarterly. However, there's a learning curve with any new software, and a further curve when you've been freewheeling for three years and now there's daily accountability checks. Good, but new challenges.

Catherine started the year in the local public high school, but due to the depression, self harm urges, and anxiety she's been fighting, she came to me and asked to transfer to the cyber school as well. She explained that while she loves being around friends, she really needed me to be present to monitor her behavior for now. God bless her for being mature enough to make that call! And she has been doing much better recently, for all those wondering - medications, therapy, prayer, and support are all clearly helping. I love having all the kids at home, but having them home and having to get them through their work while figuring out how to keep the house from being a pit? You guessed it - another challenge.

Daniel got his official autism diagnosis three months ago. We weren't surprised, but it's nice to have the diagnosis, because now we qualify for so much in the way of programs and help. We've enrolled him in an after-school program Tuesdays and Thursdays (they feed him dinner and provide transportation, thank goodness) to help him with processing problems and social skills.

Because Cathy is home full time but remains a social creature, we've had to step up our extra-curriculars. She participates in drama club at the high school on Tuesdays, we've added a Tuesday morning karate class with other homeschoolers, she gets academic help at a drop-in center in Midtown Harrisburg through the week, and meets with a teen social support group on Wednesday evenings.

Thanks to Gram, little Tristan (who's 4 now!) goes to preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoon. With Daniel in the after school program, Tristan in preschool, Daniel and Cathy in karate, and Cathy in her programs, Tuesdays are my day where I feel like we just spin our wheels and get nothing accomplished. Thankfully Gram often drives Tristan to and from preschool, or I'd just buy a wi-fi hotspot and a microwave for the van and we would live there on Tuesdays. Also thankfully, our therapy team for Catherine comes to us at home when we have time, which saves my patootie.
When we finish this level of therapy I think we're going to get a case management worker for one or both of the older kids - a CM can help with setting and transporting to appointments and making sure the paperwork is kept up so nothing falls through the cracks. I wish I had one of these just to keep me on track!

Naturally, Charlotte goes everywhere and does everything with us, which up till now has been pretty easy. But since she'll be mobile in the next few months, everything is going to have to be re-calibrated again. She's been so easy - arm babies just smile, eat, and need diaper changes - mobile babies and toddlers need to be entertained, exercised, and naps may not just "happen" anymore.

Jake just got a new job that pays a bit better and will guarantee daytime hours instead of moving him to a night shift! It also means he works a M-F 8 hour day schedule now, whereas before he worked Wed - Sat, 10 hour days. It's nice to have him on the guaranteed schedule, but I used to schedule my appointments on Monday because he was home, and Tuesdays were a little easier because we could divide and conquer with the kids. Now I rely on Gram for the Tuesday help more than ever!

Clearly if I would take some time and plan my week out along with meals, I would fare a lot better. But up until lately I've been in survival mode, getting through each day with the help of God, relatives, Jake, and stress-relievers like novels and red wine (I'll admit it). No, it's not ideal, but survival mode doesn't lend itself well to logic and good planning. And even the Outlander series doesn't last forever, so the stress relief has to change.

So, enter the bullet journal. I'm going to TRY to get a loose menu plan going, see what activities can be shifted to other days, and start re-baby-proofing the house. And Daniel's new bedroom should be done in a month (Cathy's is done, finally, and we moved her in right around Christmas). Reliving the crowding in the boys lives will help all of us mentally, and we'll be that much closer to getting the house ready to list so we can move to a nicer school district.

Oh, moving? That's another post. I have enough other baby steps before I worry about that.  ;)

Monday, October 3, 2016

An honest buck

So, way, way back over a year or so ago, back when Jake was still looking for work, I was hustling around for Uber fares and was looking for ways to earn money that wouldn't add too much to my stress level, I signed up for Carvertise. It's a program in which a company pays you to put their advertising on your car, and then you drive just as you usually would (you get to review the company before allowing them to put their ad on your car). After I signed up, I got an email saying they would contact me if they were doing a campaign in my area, and that was all I heard from them for a while. I figured that in our big town/small city, opportunities would be scarce.

Meanwhile, Jake got a job, we stopped driving for Uber, had Catherine's crises, and had a baby. My opportunities for adding to the family income were reduced to the occasional Fiverr gig and a few book sales. Not that that's horrible - Jake is a good provider - but sometimes it's nice to have money to save for extras for the kids, or to contribute to the savings for closing costs on a different house.

Then a week ago, I got an email that Integrity Staffing wanted to run a car campaign in my area, and they would be paying $200 for 2 months of ad time. The vinyl wrap apparently is guaranteed to come off of factory finish very clean, and it's even supposed to protect the finish from scratches.

So, I figured - why not? I've made less doing a lot more. And it's not like I'm advertising Joe's Topless Bar - it's Integrity Staffing. And I'll have a 2 month spell where I won't lose the van in the parking lot!  :)

If you have a 2005 car or newer with factory original paint, drive a good bit daily, and can handle looking a little goofy for a few months, you're a good candidate for this program.  (If you do sign up because of me, could you let me know? They offer referral bonuses.) If you're an Uber or Lyft driver, this is a great way to boost your income a bit without having to add that extra run. After all, you have to sleep sometime! No guarantees that they'll get to you quickly, but if you live in or near a big city you'll have a better shot at getting tapped for a campaign.

One suggestion - if you do this, that money would be best treated as nice little extra to put toward a goal. Don't blow it on a night out or a bunch of junk, put it toward paying down a bill or toward saving for emergencies or something special. After all, you don't want to be a rolling billboard for months on end to pay for something you'll barely remember. ;) Of course, if this money pays for a very special evening out, clothes that FIT, or a family trip, you won't hear a peep from me - it's good to treat yourself well!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mental Health

OK, I got permission to write about this from my daughter.

Remember how many posts back I mentioned that we had been dealing with some heavy stuff that I couldn't write about just yet? This is it. 
Over the last year, Catherine has been dealing with depression. Suicidal thoughts. Self harm and thoughts of self harm. We've been doing what it takes to get her well again, including inpatient hospital stays, outpatient daily therapy, and a therapy program that meets with the family 3x weekly. She's on medication. We've added nutritional supplements. She has a safety plan. We do what it takes.
The first week of September, something happened that shook us all up a bit. I'm finally at a place where I can write about it without cursing like a sailor.
She had been dealing with signs that her body had adapted to her medication dose, and was experiencing another depression slide. (Those of you who have had depression know what I mean.) I called her psychiatrist's office and begged them to move up her med check appointment, and they were able to get her in sooner, but it was still a week away. Meanwhile I added niacin, b-complex, and vitamin D to her daily regimen, after checking to make sure that there were no interactions and we wouldn't overdose on vitamins. I wanted to make sure that she didn't have to go inpatient when a simple med adjustment might do the trick - I was willing to try vitamins to boost her along. Heck, I was willing to load her down with Mt Dew and chocolate if it helped, but vitamins seemed healthier.
It helped. Noticeably so. In fact, I was starting to second-guess taking her to the psych, since she was doing so much better. But I figured it would seem odd if I had begged for an earlier appt and not taken her in, so we went.
The doctor was horrified that we were giving her niacin, b-complex, and vitamin D. She fretted that Catherine would develop liver problems, and that there would be interactions with the lexapro. I had checked, it would take a much heavier dose than she was taking before liver damage would be a problem. But fine, doctors get nervous about things like that. It's their job to be cautious.
Then she spoke with Catherine for 10 minutes, and called me in to inform me that in her opinion, Catherine needed to go into the hospital immediately. Why? She had had self harm thoughts the night before. Not suicidal thoughts, and she did not self harm. But the doctor insisted that the self harm thoughts were essentially suicidal thoughts, and she would not be safe anywhere but in the hospital. She also mentioned that she thought Lithium would be the next step in medication.
I was shocked. I explained that with her therapy team, we had successfully helped her stay safe outside the hospital during a previous crisis that was much more obvious than this. The doctor didn't want to hear it. I asked if her therapy team could be called. The doctor told me that if I did that, and they second-guessed her determination that Catherine needed to be in the hospital, she would have a serious problem with that. No direct statements were made, but I started getting nervous that this doctor would do things to make sure that I checked Catherine in, or would see to it that she was removed from the house. Maybe those fears were unfounded, but I was very much on edge. I was unable to get a hold of my husband, because he was at work - had he been there with me, I think this would have turned out differently.
I was finally bullied into agreeing to the admission. I knew the staff at this hospital, and I knew that if Catherine needed the help, they would take care of her, but they wouldn't keep her or medicate her with anything too heavy if it wasn't needed. That was Wednesday the 7th.
On Thursday, we went in to talk with the hospital doctor, nurses, etc, and brought our therapy team. Everyone seemed baffled as to why Catherine had been admitted in the first place. She was stable, in fairly good spirits, and completely lucid. The doctor there agreed that she could go home on Friday, before the requisite 72 hours had even passed. He agreed that Lithium was far too heavy, and that the current dose of Lexapro with our vitamin regimen would be fine. (Of course, if it weren't we were encouraged to come back via the ER if needed.) The therapy team helped us score an appointment with a highly recommended child psych in the next two months.
We were very lucky. There are other hospitals that are known for over-medicating patients. There are other doctors that are not as understanding as the hospital doctor. Many families do not have the therapy team in place that we do. Catherine could still be in there, over-medicated, unheard, trapped. We would be at the mercy of the system. All thanks to the abrupt decision of a doctor who didn't want to listen to the possibility that Catherine could be feeling better, and that she could be safe at home.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Welcome, Baby Charlotte! (Birth Story!)

Hi all!

I obviously haven't posted in a while, mainly because my few remaining brain cells were occupied by thinking about the impending birth, which happened on Friday!

We had a lot going on in the past two weeks, and every time I thought about going into labor everything in me said "not yet! no time!". But Daniel's birthday was on Thursday, we managed to have a small family party with cake that night, and that was the last thing I had planned for a few days. Thursday was also my official due date, and if I went too much longer my OB/midwife practice was going to start putting the pressure on to induce.

So I did something smart - I hired a doula to help during the birth. (A doula provides non-medical support to the mother during labor.) My doula is also a homebirth midwife, so she had loads of knowledge to share, but she only attended my birth in a doula capacity since she didn't have delivery privileges at my hospital. Anyway, she suggested castor oil to get labor going - she even calls it "midwives Pitocin"! And the midwife at my practice mentioned that if I wanted to use castor oil, she had heard that if you take an ounce or two and cook scrambled eggs with it, the protein in the eggs binds with the oil and limits the diarrhea effect while still stimulating contractions. Sold!

So Friday morning I cooked my eggs with one ounce of castor oil, plus some peppers and onions for good measure. And not too long after, I started feeling some painless contractions coming at about 8 - 10 minutes apart. I let my husband know, and he asked if he needed to come home yet. I told him no, nothing serious was happening yet, and he only works 30 minutes away - I figured when things got real, I'd get him to come home. I also texted the doula and let her know that something might be happening later that day, so not to make any crazy plans. Meanwhile I had roofers climbing all over our house, patching up a leak that had come up during a heavy rainstorm the previous week.

Around 1:00 I was starting to feel like it would be nice to not have to worry about the kids, since Tristan in particular kept trying to cuddle with me and when he put pressure on my belly, it made the contractions hurt more. I called my MIL, and she said she'd take the kids swimming! Then she asked the million dollar question - what time should she bring them back? Uh... I don't know! It could be THE DAY, after all, but I've had a history of false labors before - I just wasn't sure. So she said she'd just keep them, feed them dinner, and bring them home around bedtime whether we were there or not - if we were at the hospital, she'd just camp on the couch.

So once the kids were gone, I could feel the contractions take on more of a rhythm, but still they didn't really hurt. Jake kept checking with me, but I told him to just come home at the regular time (around 5). Funny, though - once he got home and the roofers were gone, suddenly the contractions started to mean business. Jake got a quick shower, and while he was in there I let the doula know that the contractions were starting to feel "real", like this was not going to peter out and leave me hanging.

After Jake got out of the shower, I got NAILED by a REAL contraction. I told him it was time to head to the hospital, which thankfully is a 10 - 15 minute drive from our house. The doula was about an hour away, so she'd join us at the hospital.

Jake parked the car, and I tried to walk to the entrance - I got about halfway and had to stop for a contraction, so a passer-by ran to grab us a wheelchair. Then as we headed in, one of the OBs who was just leaving spotted us, and said "Are you in labor? Don't go to the ER - follow me." and buzzed us into the maternity wing, telling them not to bother with triage - just to set me up in a labor room. Whew!

I was settled in, checked, (3 - 4 cm) by 7 PM and told to relax and do what I needed to do. My doula showed up after a bit and ran a bath in the jacuzzi tub, but I was being monitored and they were trying to start an IV, so I didn't get in. The IV blew out twice, so the nurses decided to call the phlebotomy team to place it - meanwhile my contractions were getting harder and harder to get through. I was standing and swaying, clutching Jake for all I was worth, when my water broke at the end of a contraction. Wow! My water had never broken like that before - it had always either broken while pushing or had to be broken to make labor progress.

After that I felt like I needed to be on my hands and knees. There was no logic that I remember, I just needed that position. The nurses wanted to put the monitors back on me, but I kept shaking my head because I'd have to lay down, so the awesome midwife in charge said "just get out the Doppler hand-held monitor". (Love those midwives.) During all this, Jake and my doula were helping, rubbing my back, holding me up, and making sure that I never felt alone.

It didn't feel much longer when I turned to the doula and told her I was going to need to push. That's when the phlebotomy team arrived! I growled "Tell them to BUG OFF." and got back to work - let me just say that a hands-and-knees delivery is MUCH easier than delivering on my back! Two very long pushes later, Charlotte was out and crying!

They passed her between my legs so I could see her, helped me roll over and rest, and got her snuggled onto my chest. Then I realized what time it was - just shy of 9 PM, meaning the really noticeable part of labor was less than 4 hours long! My shortest previous labor was 10 hours! She was 7lbs, 10 oz and 19 1/2 inches long (already 7 lbs 13 oz and 21 inches as of day 5), so the gestational diabetes didn't have a negative affect on her thanks to good sugar control. My doula told me that the last birth she attended was 36 hours, and births like mine spoiled her!

I'm feeling really great physically - I've never felt this good this soon after a birth. In fact, it's causing me some trouble, since I want to get up and do things, and then I realize later that I shouldn't be doing quite so much! The kids love Charlotte, and there's a constant rivalry about who gets to hold her. Even Tristan insists that he needs to hold "his baby", and cuddles and kisses her as much as he can.

I'm going to try to rest up during this week, since Jake has to go back to work on the 29th. After that I have to rely on Catherine and Daniel for my help, and while they're willing, I don't want to overload them.

Birth is so tiring.