Archive for January, 2008

Guilt-free confession and a good word

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

I gave Reid a piece of apple pie for breakfast on Tuesday.

I had baked an apple pie on Sunday evening. By the time we’d eaten supper on Monday after gymnastics, it was 7:00 and time for Reid to go to bed. She deserved her share, I thought. I may have also thought about how I prefer to eat apple pie when it is fresh and I definitely joined her in eating pie. We had it with vanilla yogurt and also a glass of milk. I’m not entirely unaware of healthful eating, you know.

As she drank the milk, Reid asked me if she had a “milkstache”. She did have a “milkstache”, I acknowledged and filed this away as a Reid-ism that was better than the existing word. Some neologisms fill a void in the English language and this one works for me.

Skating on the Rideau Canal – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008




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View More Wordless Wednesday Participants or look at my previous Wordless Wednesday entries.

Household advice to Reid – Works for me Wednesday

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Just in case I forget to tell Reid this when she is older, I wanted to get these tips in writing:

1. If your clothes dryer isn’t drying your clothes like it should and the top of the dryer is getting hot, before you call the appliance repair shop, disconnect the vent. When you run the dryer with the vent disconnected and the dryer doesn’t get hot, the problem is with the vent and not with the dryer. This will save you the cost of the diagnosis visit. Appliance repair people don’t fix vents. It also helps if you know where the dryer vents to the outside. Even though they don’t fix vents, the repair people will ask you and you’ll feel silly if you don’t know. I did, anyway. Maybe by the time you’re grown, clothes won’t need to be put into dryers but you’ll know this quaint bit of trivia.
2. If your dryer vent is blocked, it’s not a good idea to disconnect the dryer and use it anyway. The lint might aggravate allergies and the moisture could cause the paint to peel. Of course, I’m not the one that suggested you would do this in the first place. Your dryer repair person will write that you shouldn’t use the dryer until the vent is fixed on your bill so that you can’t sue him/her later.
3. When you get your heating ducts cleaned, ask to have your dryer vent done at the same time, even if your dryer isn’t having any problems. The duct cleaning people will try and charge you for full duct cleaning as well since the set up of the equipment is pretty much the same either way.
4. If you have to assemble a basic metal bed frame, it’s best to prop the box spring against the wall and assemble the frame around it. It’s easier to get the supports that go under the box springs set to the right width – bed sizes aren’t as standard as you might imagine. Watch out that you don’t tear the under fabric with a part of the frame, though. Not that I did but I do have this friend …
5. While we’re on the topic of household advice, never call a repair person until you’ve checked to be sure that all cords are connected to the appropriate places and that the power is on. Turning something off for 60 seconds and then restarting it is another thing to try. No, really, it seems obvious but you’ll save the time / money of a service call.

Guess who was visited by a dryer repair person and bed delivery people recently ;+)

What advice would you add?

Breastfeeding Beginnings – Carnival of Breastfeeding

Monday, January 28th, 2008

This month’s Breastfeeding Carnival is about  beginnings and endings. I’ve chosen the first topic to write about but there are some good posts about the end of the breastfeeding.

My breastfeeding relationship with Reid started about two months before she was born when I first attended a La Leche League meeting. I had already read  Dr Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding but somehow that seems more like research than a relationship. I’m not the world’s most social person but I am a champion proactive worrier and so I made a point of finding a La Leche League group in my part of the city. And then I made myself go to a meeting. If you’ve not been to a La Leche League meeting, the women tend to be supportive and I was welcomed into the group. Our discussion topic for the first meeting was our favourite place to nurse. A couple of women answered “anywhere” and gave a range of examples. One woman said that she had recently nursed her toddler while sitting opposite the till where a cashier rang through her groceries. I was impressed at how they seemed to be living the “Any place. Any time.” slogan that Health Canada has put on it’s breastfeeding support posters. I wondered how long it would take for me to become that self-assured as a nursing mother. When it was my turn, I mentioned that we had a glider-rocker set up in Reid’s room that I imagined nursing in but I was nervous. I didn’t have family in the city and I couldn’t see asking my girlfriends for help, even though they’re wonderful people. One of the leaders came up to me after the guided discussion had wrapped up and said that she’d show me some nursing positions, that it was all about practice and confidence. She also said, “when you leave, you’ll have my number and the local help line.” And then she showed me how to hold a doll and gave me some phone numbers.

I also attended a presentation offered by the Lactation Consultants at the hospital where I was scheduled to deliver. While this didn’t have the feeling of community that the La Leche League meeting had offered, it armed me with “official” hospital information that I would need later:

1. There were Lactation Consultants on staff to assist.
2. The only way to come back to their (free) clinic after you and your baby are released is to see the Lactation Consultant during your stay. I decided to ask to see one, no matter what. I had no idea that the choice would be taken away from me.
3. Colostrum is all that the baby needs in the first day or two. I had read this but knowing that the hospital staff accepted it would be important.

At some point in the time leading up to Reid’s birth, I also read the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding but have to admit that I liked Newman’s book more. I read the pamphlets and photocopies on breastfeeding we got at our prenatal class. I read the breastfeeding information in the Mother of all Pregnancy Books and the Mother of All Baby Books by Ann Douglas, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff and the Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy, not to mention the Girlfriend’s Guide to the First Year by Vicki Iovine. I had read, listened and imagined and then I settled in to wait for a baby to arrive.

Reid was born after an induced labour during which if had an epidural and other interventions that I had planned to avoid. The neonatal team was on hand to check her out when she finally arrived but I was determined to breastfeed Reid as soon as I was able. Once she was put on my chest, Reid did that impossible-seeming newborn wiggle and began to breastfeed. There was some chance that Reid had an infection and so she was taken to the nursery for observation.

At first, the nursery would call when Reid cried and I would hurry across from the other side of the hospital to breastfeed her in the family lounge attached to the neonatal nursery. We had the impression of interrupting the nurses’ work when we were there and, of course, Reid had been crying for a while before I could get to her. I finally had a nurse in the maternity wing who made arrangements with the neonatal nurses to allow us to bring Reid to my room to be breastfeed. While Reid still cried for the trip in her bassinet, at least my room was more relaxing and private than the family lounge.

Within 6 hours of Reid’s birth the nurses in the nursery were telling me that Reid needed to formula as a supplement. I refused and one nurse, who we dubbed “Mean Jean”, told me that colostrum was not enough. Reid was a healthy 8.5 pound baby who might have had an infection and I had attended those La Leche League meetings and done all that reading and so was determined in my refusal. But I was scared I might be making the wrong decision. At 9:00 the next morning, less than 24 hours after Reid was born, a neonatal nurse again was pressuring me to supplement and I refused until I’d spoken with a Lactation Consultant. Angrily, the nurse called the Lactation Consultant on shift. The Lactation Consultant arrived and said that Reid was nursing just fine and newborns simply sleep a lot. We continued bringing Reid to my room to breastfeed and visit for no more than hour at a time (according to the neonatal nurses’ rules) throughout the second day of her life. I was discharged in the afternoon but Reid had to wait until her blood tests came back – she had no infection – and then for the pediatrician to do a checkup. In the middle of the afternoon, one of the nurses said that she hoped Reid didn’t suffer kidney damage as they’d been giving her medication that could cause this and she needed lots of fluids. This was the first time the extra fluid requirement had been mentioned in the context of the medication. Reid was crying just before the pediatrician was scheduled to arrive and a nice nurse counselled us to give Reid a couple of ounces of formula through a tube to settle her down so that we could get her released. We did and I felt pretty awful but believed that we just needed to get home and be with our baby full time. We left the hospital about 8 pm with a couple small cans of formula.

I suppose about this time my milk came in and Reid was having trouble establishing a latch. We struggled through our first night and ended up giving Reid more formula. At 8 am I called a local Lactation Consultant who couldn’t see me until the afternoon but she did arrange for Ken to come over immediately and get a double-electric breast pump to rent. She came to our house when she was able and coached me through a nursing session. When she was there, we managed but when she left, Reid and I struggled. I ended up pumping and trying Reid at the breast before giving Reid a bottle of breastmilk. I called my mom, who I’d asked to wait a couple weeks to come until my husband was back at work, and asked her to contact my older sister who was on vacation to ask her to stop on her way home to help me. I felt so overwhelmed.

My sister did come. She arrived, looked at me and sent me straight for a hot bath with hot cloths to help with letdown. When I was done, she sat with me on my bed, handed me Reid and said to just feed her. I did. With Karin by my side for a long weekend, Reid and I learned to be a successful nursing couple.

Alone once more, we kept breastfeeding. When Reid seemed to have developed a preference for one side, I went back to the hospital’s Lactation Consultants. They reassured me that some babies nurse only on one side but also gave me some tips on how to encourage Reid to try both sides. When I described my experiences with being encouraged to supplement so early, being told colostrum was not adequate for a newborn and the threat of kidney damage, they said that I was a perfect case of how to interfere with breastfeeding and congratulated me for my determination to breastfeed. They also pointed out that since Reid was receiving antibiotics intravenously, it would have been easy to add the additional liquid to the IV if it were required. I was glad that I’d attended the meetings and done my reading and also that I was stubborn, I guess. I’m sure that some mothers with babies who were born prematurely or with significant health issues would have many good things to say about the neonatal nurses. I have no doubt that they thought they were justified in the directions they were giving to us.

My comfort level with breastfeeding any where and at anytime was quick coming since I’d fought to breastfeed in the first place. I felt traumatized when I was being told to supplement with formula and during the day or so when I had to supplement with formula or breastmilk but triumphant when we worked out the “kinks” and establish breastfeeding.

Edited to add links to the other contributors

That’s right, there are two of them

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

At some point in the recent past but not today because my memory isn’t that bad, Reid and I were laying together and she was nursing. She asked for the “other milkie” and I quipped, “As it happens, I have another right here.” She grinned and said, “Oh, good! Yummy, yummy!” Sometimes people ask why I’m still nursing a 3 year old and, of course, the answer is “because it works for our family” but the fact that I have a child who can tell me that she appreciates it certainly helps.

Monster bunnies

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

This morning while we were having a family snuggle, and after Reid’s turn giving Ken his waking up kisses and after my turn that was restricted to “just one kiss, Mama”, Ken told me that he hadn’t slept well because he’d had bad dreams. I asked him if I’d been a monster in his dream or if Reid had been. Reid interrupted to say something about monster bunnies in a voice full of remembered fear. She then turned to Ken and told him he’d saved her and gave him a big squeeze. He told her that savings daughters was one of the things that daddies do and gave her a good hug back. I wonder if the monster bunnies dream is recurrent or if it was just a particularly disturbing one. She first mentioned a dream with monster bunnies a couple weeks ago.

As we drove home from Kindermusik, we were talking about what holidays were coming up and Easter reminded Reid of the scary bunnies and I assured her that the Easter Bunny wasn’t a monster. We may need some “hanging out in front of the pet shop” therapy to help Reid get to like bunnies again. Not that I want her to like them too much. A friend from work rescues bunnies and she says that bunnies require more work that people think and also that it’s sometimes tough to integrate them into a house with cats – like bringing another cat in – and we just don’t have time for that. Now, if you have or had bunnies, I wish you all the best and I’m sure that they’re an important part of your household.

Sweet dreams.

Happy half-birthday to Reid

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Each year at Reid’s birthday, I intend to write a letter to her, talking about what has happened in the previous year. Each birthday Reid has had has been more of a festival than a single day event and I’ve been too busy to write the letter. Or maybe I’m just a bad mother. In any case, I think I’ll mark Reid’s half-birthday this year with a letter.

The time between 2.5 and 3.5 brought many changes in you, Reid. You had just started in the preschool building last January and you seemed more like a toddler to me that a preschooler but you were undaunted by the big rooms and big kids – 4.5 year olds are much bigger than a 2.5 year old, they’re practically in “real” school. Or maybe it is just the mama’s of the 2.5 year olds who worry about the size difference. You were always proud to have “senior friends” when you were in the Junior Preschool class and I hope that you are friendly with the juniors now that you are in the Senior Preschool class – it would only be right.

Your love of swimming never wavered throughout the year. We took Parent and Tot lessons through the winter, spring and fall. You liked the classes well enough but increasingly wanted to wander a bit from the teacher and not have be holding you. This January you started a swimming class where you swim with just your teacher and the other kids. You are a brave girl who is learning much more without me so close. Your dad and I watch you and talk about how proud we are to see you mastering the new skills. We often go swimming on Sunday afternoons and have lots of fun. I love to cuddle your strong, wet body but you are increasingly independent.

We took a gymnastics class together in the summer and you were a natural at it. It was fun to watch you learn to hop with feet together on the trampoline. You would concentrate so hard to keep your feet together as your feet seemed to want to run instead. Your confidence on the balance beam was impressive. All of the walking along the curb at daycare seems to have paid off. At the first class, you learned to do a handstand. What a stong and coordinated child you are. You have inherited your coordination from you dad, thank goodness. In September, you started a course with a teacher and other kids. I wondered if you’d want me to stay with you for a bit of the first class but you walked to the teacher when you were called without looking back. Well, I suppose you probably waved because you sometimes wave at Daddy and me while we’re watching you but mostly you listen to what the coach is saying and then attempt to follow the instructions you’ve been given.

You started skating lessons this January. I accompany you onto the ice. We both wear helmets when we skate and I think I look a bit silly but it is a good idea to protect our heads. When you skate you have a look of determination on your face as you practice keeping your “airplane arms” spread wide while taking little steps. You want me to hold your hand a lot. I haven’t been able to convince you yet that you can skate without holding my hand but I won’t give up trying.

In the last year, we have read many, many books. You have started telling us when a book is for “babies” and we’ve set these books aside. You still have some favourite simple books that we read, though. Your favourite books this year have been anything about Clifford the Big Red Dog, including his puppy days. I read The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back to you for the first time this year. These books, and the other Dr Seuss and Early Reader books, have much longer stories than we were reading before. You listen and ask many questions as we read. We’ve spent lots of time reading Robert Munsch stories as well; your favourite Munsch story is Stephanie’s Ponytail. I suspect you see yourself in Stephanie. You have certainly started telling me how you would like your hair done. In the last week or so, you have begun asking for stories about yourself I when you were a baby in my tummy, a baby, a little girl or a big girl. I think that these requests will continue. You *really* like stories starring you!

Your television choices changed over the last year as well. Pocoyo had been replaced by Rolie Polie Olie and by the end of the year, you were asking for Little Bear and Berenstain Bears. Since December you have mostly been asking for Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go! You run or jump or do whatever they ask and you call out the answers to the questions. Daddy’s favourite thing to see is you running on the spot. Your body is quite wiggly when you run on the spot, as though it would really rather been running across the room. Dora and Diego ask that you shout some of the answers louder and so we talk a lot about speaking quietly when you use your “Dora” loud voice when we’re just talking together.

You have spent quite a lot of time playing with dolls and CareB, your pink Care Bear, and the stroller, playpen and highchair that you have. Most of the time, you call the two dolls you play with most “Hair Baby” and “Bald Baby”. In the fall, you started to call the one you were playing with “Daisy”. Daddy and I were a bit confused, at first, by the way that the two dollies had to share one name. At Christmas, you got a white Care Bear from Atira, Harley and RJ. You named her, “Thomas”. Sometimes, though, you call her “CareB” and say that the pink one is “Thomas” at that point.

Your favourite foods have been Madras chicken curry and pizza since you were wee little and that didn’t change over the past year but I would add spaghetti and meatballs to the list. You will usually try any food but sometimes you declare that you don’t like a food but you will like it when you are 4. I hope that you are right. I think that your least favourite food is probably sausage casserole.

We have packed up many clothes, toys and books that you have outgrown to give to other children who need them. You are a very generous girl and happily share what you no longer need with others. Sometimes you will bring me a toy and tell me that we need to give it away.  Your daycare sponsors a food drive twice a year and you are always pleased to take food in for families who need our help. I am proud of your generosity.

Reid, your daddy and I are proud of many things about you and love you to bits. Happy half-birthday.

Family Literacy Week, day 4

Friday, January 25th, 2008

I love the idea of calendars and lists and was excited to develop a list for our family based on the Kingston-based Centre for Expertise in Family Literacy in honour of  Family Literacy Week. We read a scrapbook based on things Reid has done on Monday just like my list said. Tuesday, though, was the puppet night but Reid wanted another scrapbook and we were late getting Reid to bed and so I didn’t mention the puppets again. The activity for Wednesday was making goop but we had a very slow supper and, well, no goop was made. Life interferes with my lists. I guess that is what I’m saying. And also that we’re not going to make it to the public library tonight per the list.

I *am* going to write about the library, though. Maybe that will count. The Ottawa Public Library Web presence is split in two: the libarary catalogue and the rest of the information. I spend most of my time on the catalogue site since I’m figuring out what books I have out, what fines I owe (it’s true, I do) and that sort of thing. When I was thinking of Family Literacy Week, I poked around the main site and discovered and re-encountered some good children and family literacy resources. I would encourage you to spend some time on your own library site but there are some good resources on the Ottawa Public Library site to see what you might be able to benefit from, even at a distance.

1. Every Kid a Card initiative – Encouraging children to use the library is a good thing to do in it’s own right but it’s also a bit about cash. The number of patrons affects budget decisions. Even if you’re not in Ottawa, I’d encourage you to go and get a library card for all of the people in your family. Your community will be all the better for it. If you’re a teacher in Ottawa, there is an Every Kid a Card Class Challenge running through February 28.
2. 123 Read with Me - Program to focus on infant literacy, in cooperation with the City of Ottawa, that gives new parents a cloth bag filled with information about literacy and libraries, The Incredible Directory (a parents resource list) and a certificate redeemable at any library branch for a free board book. 
3. Every Child Ready to Read intitiative, there are events and resources that focus on developing 6 pre-reading skills, including: vocabulary, narrative skills, letter knowledge, print motivation, print awareness and phonological awareness. The information is presented in easy-to-understand terms and is offered for children under 2, 2-3, 4-5.
4. Ready to Read Backpack - There are a selection of books (3 English and 3 French) chosen by librarians and grouped together in backpacks that are available near the checkout at pilot libraries. I’ve signed out a backpack a couple of times and am working on a review.
5. Newsletter and Preview, a quarterly magazine – The library offers many activities, like readings by authors, educational sessions for parents, contests and others, book clubs and much more. The newsletter and magazine help to keep track of these.
6. Podcast book reviews – Librarians do book reviews for a local radio station and they post them as podcasts.
7. Study Zone – Homework resources are always welcome.
8. Kids’ site – Split into a site for kids 5 and under that offers games that reinforce pre-reading skills and a “book club” for kids 6 and over, that allows them to publish book reviews, create online word games, publish Lost Chapters to your favourite books and create quizzes about books. Unfortunately for folks outside of Ottawa, the book club requires an Ottawa public library card to participate in a some of the activities.
9. Resources for book clubs – When I belonged to a book club, we tended to spend more time eating and talking but maybe with these resources, we would have talked more about the books.
10. Library Elf – The Ottawa Public Library catalogue works with this Internet-based tool for keeping track of what’s due, overdue and ready for pickup. You can have multiple cards associated with your email and not need to worry about your kids having books long after their turn is up. Or at least you will know what books to be looking for under the bed, the couch and elsewhere.

Does your library have something that you would like to share?

3 nights alone

Friday, January 25th, 2008

I had an email from my niece Melissa a few days ago and in it she mentioned that Roy (her husband) will be travelling for work and the fellow who usually accompanies him won’t be doing so this time. Roy, then, will have 3 nights alone and Melissa thinks he will be bored in his hotel room. I thought about it and have come to the conclusion that 3 nights alone in a hotel room might be kind of nice. I’d make pots of tea and read page after page of my book, stopping only to use the bathroom – that’s the problem with tea – and not because someone was speaking to me or needed something. I might go out for supper one night but bringing a simple meal back to the room would do otherwise. I’d have to set aside time for long, uninterrupted baths, the kind that last so long that you have to add more hot water. I don’t know that I’d turn of the television, though. It would be wasteful to invite people into my solitude. I suppose, depending on the city I was in, I would also spend time exploring. After 4 months on my own in Quebec City on a French course, I’m quite comfortable playing the solo tourist.

This may all be empty talk from a woman who hasn’t spent the night away from her child in 3.5 years but I think I’ll soon be ready to walk the talk. Ken and I will be going away for a few days in May while Reid stays with Grandma Joyce. Reid is excited at the prospect and keeps asking if it is May yet. I’m looking forward to the break and I’m sure Ken is as well. He has practice being away from Reid since he has been to Europe a couple of times for work and once to Vancouver, not to mention all of the time when I took Reid and went to stay at my mom’s. I can only hope he’ll be a bit sympathetic if/when I miss Reid while we’re away.

What would you do with 3 free evenings?

Going to daycare on the city bus

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

While we have taken city buses, trolley cars and light rapid transit trains in various cities in New York, San Diego, and Chicago, Reid and I have never taken a city bus in Ottawa. Ken had to be at a training course by 8:00 in the far west end of the city. I take a bus to work at least 4 days a week and so adding one small girl into the mix should’ve been easy. There are other parents at daycare who bring their kids by bus on a daily basis. There is even a set of twins in Reid’s class whose parents have brought them on the bus for years. I can only imagine that repetition reduces the stress.

We hustled Reid through her morning routine, which included a switch of tights after the first pair was already on Reid’s body and the requirement to get all of her outdoor gear on. Most days Reid wears only a coat, which may or may not be zipped, and boots. Many days we are late. Reid and I managed to get out the door at the target time and then walked quickly to the bus station. I have to say that I was impressed with Reid’s speed on the walk. When we were nearly to the bus station, Reid told me that she was starting to get tired but she didn’t slow her pace or ask to be carried. We took time to notice that the streetlights around us were turning off as we walked and also that the fat, round moon hadn’t remembered to go to bed. We made it to the bus stop with 5 or maybe 10 minutes to spare – my Blackberry’s clock seems to be running fast.

We waited in an enclosed shelter, that Reid dubbed an “outside-inside room”, for a while. In the midst of many questions of the type: “Where is our bus?” and “Is that our bus?” we moved outside to watch for our bus. There were many #2 buses, a #123, a #124 and even a #129 that passed us before our #127 finally arrived. The moment that I’d told Reid that we would be taking a #127, she had declared the “one-two-seven daycare bus” to be her “favourite-ist” bus.

Reid boarded the bus as confidently as if she took public transit daily. I tried to shepherd her toward a seat in the priority seating section in order to see where we were along the route but Reid continued toward the back of the bus. I plopped her in a seat opposite the rear door but she protested as she pointed up the steps to the far back of the bus. Of course, Reid needed to climb the steps herself and then up onto a seat in the very last row. I didn’t notice the standard transit notices to encourage people to move to the back but Reid knew what to do. The signs on the windows read, in order,  “Move back”, “A little further” and “Thanks”. Reid earned the thanks.

Our ride lasted only 15 minutes or so before we disembarked at the side of a 4-lane road with traffic whizzing past. We were lucky, though, and made it across the first 2 lanes and into the turning lane relatively easily. I had to carry Reid across the last couple of lanes in order for us to complete our journey. Reid was encouraging me to hurry even when doing so would have put us into the side of the cars passing us. The traffic made her nervous, I think. It made me nervous, too. As we walked up the driveway to daycare, Reid was smiling and saying that she was going to tell her daycare friends about her bus ride. It wasn’t even 8:00 am and already she’d had an adventure!

After getting Reid settled with her class, I walked down to the bus stop in front of daycare and called to check when the next bus would be passing. My heart sank when I heard the recorded voice say “The next bus will pass in 27 minutes.” It was a frigid morning and even with my windbreaker pants, winter coat and toque I knew I would be cold. I decided that I’d have time to walk to the Transitway to catch a more frequent bus and started off. The paved shoulder that I was walking on turned into a right turning lane at one point, though, and I wasn’t brave enough to continue or hardy enough to take to the snow and so I turned around and walked to the last bus stop I’d seen. I killed about 12 minutes while walking at least.

In the final analysis, I’m glad Reid and I took the bus together this morning as she had an adventure. It was also good to have a chance to Reid a couple of books while we were riding the bus. I’m also glad that we don’t have to do it often. Crossing all of those lanes of traffic worried me and having to meet someone else’s schedule would be tough. I would have to rush more during drop-off to catch the earlier downtown bus and also hurry Reid more when I picked her up for us to catch a bus back toward our house. I’ll avoid adding to our  stress levels as much as I’m able.