Tag Archives: Adoption and Emotions

Owning Recovery

I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. As mom to Hope, my mental health has definitely wavered in ways I didn’t anticipate; I don’t mean that to sound bad, but parenting is hella hard.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and my mental health and emotional wellbeing during these years as well. I’ve been consciously working on being better and stronger and figuring myself out. At 48, I’m still working on that.

Hope will be 20 in about two months, and I don’t expect her to be where I am. I don’t expect her to be as self-reflective or as clear about life. But as we head into a year and a half at home and almost a year since the down-slide started; I find myself wanting Hope to take more ownership of her recovery.

I know she wants to get better, but there’s really not a lot of activity behind it. I know it’s got to be hard cooped up here, without school, friends, or a job. We are now past the stage of devastating depression that left me terrified; she’s improving. I’m relieved. But that’s it.

I’m still shouldering Hope’s recovery; I”m not sure if she’ll ever take the lead. At the smallest suggestion of *doing* anything, a litany of excuses come tumbling forth, sometimes before I can even complete my sentence. I hate that and really never respond well. Just this evening I had to take a deep breath, remain calm, go deep into the communication skills tool box and explain how it makes me feel when she makes excuses.

There are times when I really wonder when and how long Hope will need my intense involvement in her mental health care. I know that my feelings about it are colored by my own journey, how my intense need for achievement as a proxy for worthiness is so different than Hope’s. I know that comparing our journeys is stupid, a fools’ errand, and yet there are quiet moments where I ramble off how I took on getting myself help almost as soon as I entered college and how I’m still managing appointment schedules for a young adult who is literally doing nothing all day but surfing YouTube and TikTok.

And then I feel guilty about even remotely comparing us, and then I start the crazy thought process all over again. It’s so ridiculous.

But I do wonder…does Hope want to own her life in a way that looks…kind of normal? I don’t know if she’s healthy enough to really consider it. I don’t know if her trauma’s of the last year, that involved some really bad adult flexes, have just made her regress in ways that push off adulting for a long time. I don’t know. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t either.

I’m trying to be patient; I’m trying to follow her lead 70% of the time and push/pull her 30% of the time. Once I post this, I’ll be sending her places to apply for a job. I know that getting out and working will help her. I aspire to bickering over the car and finally deciding to buy a second car because her life will have grown to such a need. But that’s probably a long way off.

For now, I am shouldering and powering the return to the fragile health status we had before. It’s rough when you desperately want to return to a more normal version of not normal, but here we are.


Ten Things on Wednesday:4/21/21

  1. When I heard the first guilty verdict, I gasped. That was immediately followed by a sobbing exhale. I’m not sure how long I had been holding my breath or if it was just the gravity of hearing GUILTY. But…wow.
  2. I’m glad that this is the first case that Hope really paid attention to; it will hopefully give her more hope for justice than I’ve ever had. My first big trial decision I remember was for the murderers of Rodney King. He was beaten the year I graduated from high school; his police murderers were set free my first year of college. I remember it being such a painful experience.
  3. And then police in Ohio couldn’t let us have one sliver of justice in peace. Naw, they had to go and shoot a 16 year old girl who had called them for help. Seriously, LEOs in MN had one effing job during the trial–don’t effing kill anyone, so what happened? They killed someone. All LEOs from coast to coast had one job last night–don’t fucking kill anyone. And just look at them. smh
  4. I swear white supremacy is so oppressive that it has a way of making every minor advance bittersweet. When that’s your reality, it makes Black joy the very representation of personal resistance.
  5. This block editor is super weird. You ever wonder why every tech company has a way of taking some feature that is easy and intuitive and saying “how can we make this miserable and clunky?” Seriously WP, what kinda focus groups drove you to this? Those folks are weird, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t complain about tech that much.
  6. This last weekend, Hope and I were on a total vibe, in a really good place. We went to a farmers market and watched our shows, just hung out and talked. There was a moment when I was watching us banter, and I thought, HOLY ISH, Hope is like me. We have been a family for 7 years, but this was the first really super conscious revelation that she has picked up some of my mannerrisms, my use of language and phrases, and just…stuff. I figured that she might pic up a few things, but what I realized is she really has adopted a lot of my traits. I never expected that when I decided to adopt. I remember just smiling to myself as we continued to talk. It was a sweet moment for me.
  7. But apparently the complexities of adoption are akin to “bad apple” cops who can’t leave folks well enough alone. During one of out chats I learned that Hope’s memories of her childhood pre-me are fading. She said it matter of fact-like, but it was a gut punch for me. While I wish I could erase all the bad stuff, the notion that is forgetting even some of the pleasant memories…I am so sad. I hope to gently ask if there are things we can do to spark up those good memories to keep them fresh. It just made me so emotional.
  8. In other news Hope is really improving emotionally. Seriously we’re on month 9 of a fair amount of challenges; I think we might’ve hit a sweet spot pharmacologically! I hope so!
  9. We’re trying to teach Yappy to use push buttons to “talk” to us. Today might’ve been the first time he activated the “outside” button unprompted. I’m hopeful because I want to hear the words behind his side eyes.
  10. I just had my nightly piece of cake, but I was on 10 hours of zoom today> I deserve some chocolate covered peanuts.#stressandfatigueeating


Transitions

Decisions are really hard for Hope; she’s easily overwhelmed when she has options. Early in my journey with Hope, I learned that I had to narrow her choices if I was ever going to get her to make decisions. She can’t have more than 3 choices and some days that’s a stretch.

And overwhelmed Hope is miserable, and so are the folks around her who are silently screaming

MAKE A DECISION ALREADY!

She gets anxious weighing the options, reviewing and re-reviewing, then she panics and guilt trips herself because she knows everyone is waiting until she’s just paralyzed.

Recently, Hope spent an hour sifting thru burger places on UberEats; I was shocked when the delivery gal knocked and Hope grabbed her McD’s bag.

Me: McD’s? Really?

Hope: I couldn’t make a decision and I was hungry so I just ordered McDonalds.

Even with McD’s she self limits for months at a time: She will order the same, exact order for 5 months and then change to something else for a season. She does this because she makes the decision one time and sticks with it to avoid just sitting there going “um” at the drive thru window.

With Hope now approaching the age of 20; there are more decisions than ever. We recently had a family appointment with a doc to talk about meds. Doc explains everything, lays out 3 options in rank order and asks Hope to say what option does she think is best.

Blank stare.

After confirming that she understood the options, and confirming that ultimately this was her decision alone, she balked. We eventually got through it with some coaching and patience; she made a decision. But I could tell that our super mild mannered, even tempered doc was a little undone by the inability to make a decision.

Over the years I’ve become a lot more patient when she hits decision-making snags. I’ve adapted, but I haven’t really seen her skills improve or her anxiety go down. I’m hopeful that we will hit a turning point sometime soon.

I’m realizing that while Hope complained about how strict the military school was, she seemed so much more grounded there. The structure, the limited choices, that environment is one that kind of gave her the structure her spirit seems to demand. Her senior year, I asked her if she wanted to consider military service; but for her hatred of any physical activity, I could see her doing well in service. It also would’ve been kinda cool seeing how so much of her bio family were at some time in the military. Hope shot down the military idea hard and fast, proving that the ability to decide was in there, but only when it was something she really had a strong opinion about.

Right now, it almost feels like we’re going backwards. If Hope can avoid any kind of decision, she will. This year at home with minimal structure has not been good for her development. I am incapable of providing the structure she needs to thrive. Tomorrow, she resumes her job hunt. I’m hoping something turns up. An occupied Hope is a happier Hope–the decision-making isn’t much better, but at least emotionally she’s more stable.

I know she will get there; it’s really going to take time and lots of confidence building practice, though.


Realizations

Hope and I have had an interesting journey. The first year was tough–getting used to one another, trying to create a sense of normalcy, trying to get the healing started. I remember when my depression kicked in and when I started learning about secondary trauma. Hope was in yet another school–she’d already been to so many, and had difficulty making friends.

We connected with some birth family, dealt with a lingering criminal investigation back in Hope’s hometown, estrangement from my mother and oh yeah, finishing a dissertation. I think of that year often nowadays; there’s something about 2020 that reminds me of our “bonding’ time the first few weeks.

I made a cake every week.

I have baked cakes most weeks since March. It’s one of my ultimate comfort foods. As Hope doesn’t really get into cake like I do, I also do not have to share my cake. Yes, that admittedly gives me some petty pleasure. And yes, I just had my nightly piece of chocolate frosted cake.

I have struggled with depression most of my adult life. It’s managed by meds and therapy. Even though my very high intrinsic motivation is one of several triggers for my depression and anxiety, it’s also likely the thing that keeps me from tumbling over into the abyss.

My drive and inability to sit still for very long has meant that I won’t just lay in bed watching the ceiling fan for hours. There have been times when I have wanted nothing more than to do that because the sadness, emptiness and darkness had taken over. The anxiety keeps me up and functioning. It’s frankly an awful vicious cycle.

Proof? I took today off to rest, to just be. Instead I worked on finishing up setting up my new desk, checking and responding to a few emails and drafting a couple of things that need to go out tomorrow.

I did lay on the couch for a couple of hours with Yappy while playing on a coloring app, so there’s that.

Today it really, really sunk in that Hope’s depression and anxiety don’t look anything like mine. They aren’t even in the same neighborhood. They manifest so differently that it has taken me 6 years to realize this. I feel really foolish that I’ve failed to see it as clearly before. I’m also embarrassed and ashamed that there are times when I said things without realizing Hope’s emotional limitations in the moment. I am certain that there are times when my dimwittedness really harmed her and our relationship. That will weigh on my heart until I die.

I’m grateful for whatever grace she has extended me because I certainly don’t deserve it.

Tomorrow brings another parenting pivot. I never stop learning and try to incorporate the new knowledge and make changes. This pivot requires some significant changes. I expect to stumble…a lot, but Hope needs some things from me and those who love her that I really didn’t understand.


Hitting the Wall

This week, I feel like I hit the wall. I’m just over and done with everything. I feel like I could just crawl into bed and sleep indefinitely. I’m just emotionally exhausted.

Nothing about this year has been easy, but these last 4-5 months have just been brutal. Work just exploded after the murder of George Floyd, and while the intensity has died down some the expectations and work haven’t. I decided about 2 months ago to stop accepting speaking and writing engagements. That hasn’t stopped people from asking though, and I’m getting better at saying no without explanation.

My job cuts across so many other programs within my organization. During a recent meeting I swear I hear my name over and over and over on projects led by others. It was then that I realized part of why I am so effing tired. I’m spread pretty thin.

And then of course there’s home life. While we are past the crisis of the last two months, we are still very much in a tender phase. We’re stable, but fragile. I don’t feel like I’ve had much time or space to process anything because I was just trying to soldier us through it. I threw myself into finding support for Hope, figuring out what needed to happen with the rest of her college semester, dealing with health issues and just babying her, because she needed it.

Oh and can’t forget about Yappy and the day he shat all over the living room and dining room. Or the second COVID scare. Or the inability to get away from here and take a vacation. Or…Or…Or…

And Thursday evening, I feel like I just cracked. I don’t even want to watch TV. I don’t want to read. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want much of anything but to be left alone to just drift away to lala land. My brain just doesn’t wanna. I know that after I post this I will curl up on my couch and go to sleep. I already have my blanket and my pillow.

I’m not sure how to get on top of this. I’ve taken another day off next week and I’m committed to trying to block off more time to just rest. I’m realizing that I’ve got some ego issues (but I just HAVE to be a this meeting) and some issues about disappointing others that I really need to confront and wrestle with because the status quo is not sustainable.

I’m also worried about how my mini-breakdown will affect Hope, who is coming off of her own crisis. I believe it is important that she remember I’m human, but I don’t like her seeing me like this. It can be triggering for her. But I also know that I”m simply incapable of faking it right now. I’m just empty–and this is after having a weekend completely free last week when she went to visit the grands.

I know I’ll be ok, but right now I just feel blah with too much to do and a lot of responsibility that I’m not sure I can handle. Rough times…


The Summer of 2020

We all know that 2020 has been a complete shit show. As we enter the final quarter of this crazy year, I’m frankly wary. This summer has especially been hard for me and Hope.

As a parent you do what you can to help your kids learn to make good decisions. It hurts when you watch them not make the best decisions, and you just hope no one gets hurt and wait close by to help pick up the pieces.

That’s what the last couple of weeks have been, working to maintain our home as the safe space to recover and heal. I thought the crisis was over weeks ago, but it got one last breath of life and as it finally expired, it left a hot mess in its wake. It’s been hard for Hope and for me. It’s so hard watching your kiddo suffer natural consequences.

Hope will be ok with time; I believe that. But I’m guessing like everyone, 2020 has changed her. In some ways I see her having gained some wisdom, which never comes easy. She is strong, and while putting your bad decisions under a microscope is always hard, I see her replaying things in her head, turning them over in her mind, questioning her reactions to all sorts of scenarios. Of course we all do this. Sometimes it’s healthy, sometimes it’s not.

During this time, I have done double duty. I’m mom first, but my daughter also needed a good girlfriend to talk to sometimes. It’s a hard flex to go between these identities, but she needed a friend sometimes. I shared my more of my own bad decisions, and the proof that life goes on. I talked about what I needed to do for me to move on to better choices. I told her she would find her way and what worked for her. I enlisted friends and her godmom to help prop her up. Hell, at one point I actually offered my daughter an edible because I saw she needed help settling down and trying to get to sleep. She declined–Mom ABM was shocked and happy she declined.

And then I mommed. I mommed so hard. I cooked, a lot, nearly daily. I made appointments. I juggled work and parenting in ways that felt like our early days. We watched our binge show on Netflix. We talked. We cried. I got her up and pushed her to get showered and dressed daily. I talked to our medical/mental health squad, sometimes late into the night. These last few weeks have been intense, and soooo reminiscent of our early days.

It made me remember just how challenging it was learning about how to help Hope and how much I needed to learn about trauma. It made me go through my own process of revisiting some of my decisions 6 years ago, wondering if there were things I could’ve and should’ve done differently. I had a breakdown, wondering if the summer of 2020 was my fault. I begged our family therapist to tell me what I did wrong to increase Hope’s risk of being harmed.

End the end, I realized that in spite of our decisions, Hope and I are still standing. We definitely have some dings, dents, and rust spots, but we’re ok.

Hope is taking some time off from school, and after the election, we might pack up Yappy and relocate outside of the US for a few months. We could both use a change of scenery. When Hope was originally planning to be in residence at school this fall before they went remote, I looked into packing up Yappy and going away for a while. Now I’m looking at moving all of us for a few a spell. I’ve joked that depending on the election results, I might just ask for asylum.

This year has a been crazy and this summer…well, it was rough. But we’re ok.


Looking Forward

This week I received a blast email from Hope’s college president explaining the institution’s decision-making regarding coming back to campus. It was like 5 paragraphs long, and in my opinion, the major takeaway is that it’s very unlikely that Hope will be returning to in person classes in the spring semester.

I think it is the right public health decision. Her school is very small, less than 1,000 students, and while it is well resourced it simply can’t mount the surveillance protocols necessary to do routine testing and quarantines. It’s disappointing that they don’t, but most of the schools in my state, including the very large ones, do not have the ability to do it either. So, it’s definitely the right health decision.

Socially, I fret a bit about Hope’s continued development. She has always struggled with cultivating friendships, but at school she had settled in with a nice group of kids and seemed to really be developing good relationships. She was also getting more engaged in extracurricular programs. Academically, she still had some challenges, but I was delighted that she was doing well socially. I was starting see some wonderful developments, and then COVID-19 happened.

And now, our world is a lot smaller. The whole of this time home I’ve quietly fretted about what this loss of time will mean for Hope and other young people like her.

For my part, I am constantly engaging people, often to the point where I have little desire to engage after work hours. Even still, I regularly schedule happy hours and chats with family and friends so that I can get a bit of my extrovert energy boost.

Hope didn’t take to online chat fests where her school friends. Having a job helped a lot; she was able to meet folks and develop some social relationships. I had really resisted letting her work during the school year, but honestly, I feel like she needs the outlet. Overall,  I’ve seen Hope regress back to the small world she’s had for most of our time together. I worry that not being in a space where she can really practice socially will really be harmful the long run.

As a parent, honestly, I have so many worries. Our recent crisis, which frankly isn’t over we’re just in a period of stasis, taught me a lot about my own fears. It taught me that some of those fears are well founded and that others are less so. It’s also taught me that parenting this period of early adulthood has some really unique challenges. I want Hope to be independent, but what that looks like the middle of pandemic is a bit of a mystery. I want her to develop healthy relationships, but there are some specific vulnerabilities that worry me and again—what does that look like during this time? When the risks of getting sick, spreading the virus and frankly possibly killing someone, figuring out what’s allowable while still giving some space and grace seems really complicated.

Adding to all of this is that several months ago I decided that I would try my hand at dating again. It’s been a slow, cautious endeavor, and I’m not even sure it’s been the right decision. I don’t go out much; I try to focus on talking and connecting a lot. Dating was always complicated and now it just feels moreso. I’m also stuck trying to figure out if me stepping out to date is fair to Hope.

I just don’t know.

With each week, I think we all feel the isolation and limitations a bit more. I’m trying to be optimistic about what will happen over these next couple of years with me and Hope. I mean, I believe we will weather this storm, but I do wondering if/how much collateral damage this pandemic will leave us with when it’s all over. What social skills am I losing and what skills is Hope being prevented from developing? Will we feel safe traveling and having adventures again? What is going to happen next in a year that honestly feels like a colossal dumpster fire?

I just don’t know, and well, this part of my parenting journey feels a bit like a black hole. I just don’t know what’s next. I’m hopeful. I’m optimistic, but I’m also a realist and I worry about our health, safety, mental health and overall wellbeing.


The Sun is Shining

My last post was a lot. As Hope would say, a lot a lot. I learned that my description of my family crisis was really upsetting to some adoptees. I want to acknowledge that sometimes I write  things that may be triggering for some readers. I will write more about that sometime soon, but I want to acknowledge that reality. 

Today is a new day, and the crisis is over. There are just waves of relief. My daughter is safe.

These last few weeks have really been scary. There are always times when I worry about Hope; I worry about her in some form or fashion all the time. This was different. The stakes felt higher, the threat to our relationship seemed higher, and I was just scared, really, really scared for her. 

I know I feel lucky. Parenting is hard; it just is, and some days are just harder than others. And some days, for some parents turn into weeks, months and years. 

The thing I’m most grateful for is being so close to Hope.These last few weeks have been an emotional ringer for both of us. We kept talking. We spent quality time together. We ate together. We used good communication strategies. For most of the time we were really patient with each other, and when we were able to articulate why. I feel like we are even closer now. 

There are and will continue to be some reverberations from this episode. There’s some monitoring and support that needs to happen to make sure things stay safe. There will probably still be some tears (from both of us). There will be lifelong lessons to reflect on (for both of us). 

But this morning, I’m just happy that the sun is shining and that Hope is ok. 


A Sad Escalation

I am still in the emotional whirlwind. We’ve been stable the last couple of weeks, but it’s like a stable version of hell, soooo it sucks.

I’ve been angling for a breakthrough in this situation. I made a request that went unanswered.

I’ve been patient. I haven’t lost my schitt in front of Hope. I have moderated my outward emotions. I have not raised my voice. I have tried reason. I have tried science (I’m a nerd, leave me alone). I’ve leaned into every bit of every skill in my toolbox.

And nothing.

I announced to Hope on Sunday that she had 2 days to move the needle or I was taking matters into my own hands and escalating things.

Nothing happened so, I made my move today.

There is a part of me that wonders if it is the right decision, and there is a part of me that sees this escalation as the only path toward making sure I’m doing my job of looking out for Hope’s wellbeing.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about what I was like and who I saw myself as when I was Hope’s age. In some ways we are alike and others so vastly different. I realize just how much I took for granted looking back now.

I certainly engaged in my share of shenanigans in high school, but I was also a “good girl” so I showed up to college with some innocence. Despite all that Hope has been through, she also showed up with a bit of innocence.

I was an avid reader and continue to be an endlessly curious woman. I was certainly academically ready and my curiosity meant that I was always looking to understand all these new experiences. I am intrinsically motivated and I had some very specific goals to accomplish during college. I avoided just about everything that would possibly derail me—except a ridiculous boyfriend who was handsome but not at all what he appeared to be. Even that, I managed to escape with some emotional wounds that certainly shaped the way I viewed future relationships, but in the grand scheme of things, I got off lucky.

Hope and I are very, very different in this respect. She is not motivated in the same way, and trust over the last 6+ years I’ve tried to understand what motivates her. I still don’t know, and I’m not sure she does either. She is naturally curious, but I’m still not sure that she has figured out that she can channel and leverage that curiosity in ways that would directly benefit her.

I never doubted that my family was my support system and that they would be there for me. They had been engaged with me my whole life, so of course I felt secure in that.

Hope has only been with me for 6+ years, which on some days seems like an eternity and others seems like the blink of an eye. We are very attached, but I feel like there’s a part of her that is just out there. I get it. I will never, ever fill some specific holes, and I don’t try to. I can only be what I am to Hope. I love her dearly. I know she loves me, but the path to our family is a littered with loss.

That kind of loss changes you. It changes your brain development and function. It changes you emotionally. I am sure it changes you at a cellular level. And those changes…

Well, I believe that those changes have left my daughter vulnerable to all sorts of things.

She has come so far over these years, but emotionally, she’s not 19. She’s like a 15 year old dropped into college student aged stuff. And, some of it, she can handle and other stuff…it’s just clear she’s out of her depth.

There are few times I’ve been as afraid for her as I am right now. It’s consuming me. Between work, which continues to just be barely bearable because of workload, our family crisis is taking whatever is left.

So, I escalated things today to see if I can get this situation to some sort of resolution. I don’t know what that resolution is going to look like and that terrifies me. I don’t know what my relationship with Hope will look like when its all said and done. I don’t know what she will do next. I don’t know what the next revelation will be or how much it will hurt to hear whatever it will be. I just know that there will be more emotional upheaval before its all over.

And I just…I am just so very sad. So, so, so sad.


Home Cooking

I’ve been on leave from work for the last week. I had hoped to see my family, mom and dad, sister, BIL and my adorable niece and nephews. Unfortunately, given all that’s going on around Casa d’ABM, Hope and I were deemed at a greater risk than originally thought. We were lovingly disinvited. 

I miss my family terribly. Heck I just invited my sister who lives more locally if she wanted to go to this axe throwing place…I’m desperate y’all. 

In the end, it’s probably better that we had some time at home. I’ve had more time to devote to Hope and trying to get us back to some sense of stability. What I consider a crisis is still a crisis, but at the moment, things are…in a holding pattern. 

I made a request nearly a week ago that has yet to be filled. Until it is, things are a bit frozen on my end.

With Hope now not working and starting classes and me taking a week off from work, I’ve focused on cooking. 

The Muppets Cooking GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Via Giphy

During this pandemic, I’ve gone through cycles around cooking. I periodically need fresh bread, so I’ll make that every few days. I’ve been baking cakes, because well, I love cake and I tend to love them even more when I’m stressed. I’ve gone back to a few casserole dishes that are yummy. I’ve tried a few new dishes, though not many. Last week I upgraded my Instant Pot to a new 8qt Duo version with the air fryer. I wanted to make wings, and I did. 

So, since our crisis started, I’ve made wings twice, several loaves of bread, 2 cakes, a lot of homemade frosting, chicken salad, chili dog casserole, chili, and spaghetti and meatballs. The freezer is stocked with fixins for any number of dishes and I’m delighting in drawing Hope out of her room for quality time and important discussions with food. 

via Giphy

Seeing her grab a bowl of chili, closing her eyes and smiling, commenting on the flavors brings me joy. It also makes for a nice entry point for talking about the current state of things. It makes it easier for me to listen when I’m savoring a meatball that’s been slow cooking in a marinara sauce that simmered for hours. 

Yesterday I made Hope breakfast, fried eggs on a buttered toasted kaiser roll, one of her favorites. 

Today, despite having a little chili left and the leftover spaghetti, I likely will make cabbage and sausage because it’s another household favorite. 

When I don’t cook, Hope tends to skip meals and snack shamelessly. She’s also taken to ordering food since she has her own cash. I’m not much on ordering or take out; it’s just never been something I’ve done a lot of, so the frequency of her orders seem like such a waste to me. Cooking delicious meals keeps money in her pocket, gets her to the table and keeps both of us engaged. 

Food will not solve our problems, but it will continue to bring us together and that’s my main goal right now. 

Any good recipes you think we’d like, drop links below or shoot them to me via email. We don’t do seafood, so that’s one limitation. We are also serious carnivores–so while we will do some meatless meals, we get down hard with meat. 

Via Giphy

Do you use food to bring the family together? What else are folks doing? I need all the suggestions I can get. ❤


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