Chef Henry saves the day.

I’ll be honest, I’ve come online to post something several times recently and every single time I’ve had to close the laptop and walk away because I had a physical reaction as I began to type. As soon as my fingers touched the keys I’d become nauseous or light-headed. Psychosomatic, much? Yeesh. Actually, the other day, even after I walked away, it took a lot of water and deep breaths to feel even a little better. Thankfully that was the day Henry took a mega epic 4 hour nap and I had time to regroup before he woke up.

So instead of talking about my dad this time, let’s just talk about fun stuff: Henry!

My kid is super into cooking/watching me cook/pretending to cook. He barely cares about cars, he’s just now kinda getting into his toy train, but his play kitchen? ALL. DAY. LONG. I pull him out of his crib in the morning, and he goes straight for it. He really likes to make me “soup.” He doesn’t say “soup” but I call it that because he just puts a little of everything into a pot and stirs. I’ll say, “Henry, can you go make mama soup?” And he’ll run in there and throw some things in the pot and bring it to me.

(Note: If you look at our YouTube channel, that is not me or my husband subscribing to Elmo or Surprise Egg channel. Henry’s latest obsession is stealing my phone and YouTubing it up in a corner. I have no idea how he finds this stuff. I swear I’ve never helped him search for anything.)

We got a learning tower for the kitchen because I could no longer carry his 27 lbs of love on my hip as I tried to prepare dinner. Next to the play kitchen, this has been the second best purchase we’ve ever made. I let him help me cook his dinner tonight, stirring the noodles and adding the vegetables (holding his hands so he didn’t accidentally touch the burner) and he ate that meal with more gusto than I’ve ever witnessed. I kept stressing to him that he made it, what a good job he did making it, etc. I’m aiming to having the next Gordon Ramsey here, guys. I love food (obviously) so if he can start taking over cooking in a few years, then yes, I will nurture this interest.

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For Halloween, we bought him an Elmo costume. He fucking hated it. I had to add that expletive in there because 1) he really fucking hated it and 2) it was a fucking waste of money. Ahem, sorry. Can you tell I’m a little annoyed by Elmo the costume right now? So I bought a chef’s play uniform. At first, he hated it. I seriously almost canceled Halloween. I was sooooooo fed up. But then, all of a sudden, he loved it! Even the hat! I tried to take it off and he made it very clear that no, he did not want me to take off the hat! I couldn’t believe it.

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He was the cutest chef ever and OMG. Once he got the hang of trick or treating, he was in his element. I thought he’d get freaked out by the crowds and going to people’s doors. NUH UH. He was as cool as a cucumber and SO HAPPY. Holding his Elmo bucket (at least we could use that) in one hand and a death grip on his Tootsie roll pop in the other, he strutted up and down those streets like a pro. This town does Halloween right. I mean, they go all out. So some houses were super crowded at the door and I’d hang back at the street while Chris took Henry up there. I would hear “Awww, what a cute little Chef! Chef Henry!” (He had a name tag that said Chef Henry). And then I’d hear from my child, “GAGAGAGAGA!” or “CACACACA!” or “YAYAYAYAY!” He likes to mix it up. Which I think is his way of saying “Thank you” or “This is awesome, I love candy.” I can’t be sure. Anyways, it was a blast.

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His talking has improved a little since then. When we were driving today, he was pointing out of the window “tee…tee” which I’m pretty sure he meant “tree” since there were some of those all around us. And I’ve been able to understand a few other words here and there too. His signing has improved and picked up drastically. Tonight I put him to bed, but he kept breaking out in nasty sounding coughs, which usually means I need to give him some albuterol. So I brought him out here with us to hang out for a little while and do his breathing treatment. After, he ran to the kitchen and signed “more crackers, thank you.” THREE signs together. That was a first. I was so proud that he took it upon himself to high-five me. HA!! My kid is cool.

We’ve been thinking a lot about baby number 2. It’ll happen (hopefully) but not for a while still, I think. I’m still not fully recovered postpartum-wise from this guy! I want to get back 100% and then see what happens. But also, this kid has been so wonderful and joyful and EASY (how many toddlers do you know that runs to the bed while laughing like a maniac when I tell him it’s nap time?) that I just know the next one will be a challenge. And that’s fine, I like challenges, but for now, I just stare in amazement at this little dude, who is growing up way too fast. I snapped this last pic in Target the other day. I actually had a list of things to get and he was so patient. I let him hold the list and I’d ask him what we needed next and he’d pretend to look at it and tell me in his language that no one but he understands. He also didn’t want to let go of the first aid kit I bought to keep in the car. The Terrrget lady had to scan it while it was still clutched in his baby death grip.

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Things are pretty bad right now, I’m not going to lie. I cry a lot. I can’t sleep. I feel like I’m failing in many ways. But that kid up there? Well that just proves that everything will be ok. That I didn’t fail at one thing. That love is all around me. My dad lives on through us.

I’m blessed.

Three weeks.

It’s been a little over 3 weeks since my dad died and it still feels like yesterday. Maybe because there’s no funeral or memorial service until next year, so I feel sort of in limbo or something. I made tentative plans to have my own memorial service up in the Russian River Valley but I haven’t done anything toward it yet. It’s almost like I’m not really ready to say goodbye but I know I need to. Hell, I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that he is gone. That he’s ashes in an urn. It’s unreal.

I have to keep it together during the days when I’m at home with Henry. I have a kid to nurture and take care of, I can’t be falling apart. But at night, when he’s asleep and Chris is finally asleep, I break down. I have this image of my dad — I don’t even know if it’s a real memory or one I’ve created in my mind — of him standing there, greeting me. He’s in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops, his normal attire, and he’s smiling. Not a big smile, just his usual closed mouth smile. He looks younger and healthier than he did even a year before he passed, when we went to Florida to see him. And he’s just standing there. When I lose it, is when I close my eyes and imagine myself hugging him. I can feel his arm around me and I can smell him. I can smell him now as I sit and type this. I can’t describe it, but it was him.

Last week, Henry and I got sick. I got way sicker than Henry, thank god (I just don’t want another hospital stay). But I know it was from not sleeping and not taking care of myself. I know if my dad were around, he’d tell me that I need to cut the shit and sleep, eat, and get some sunshine. That it’s ok to smile and it’s ok to laugh and it’s ok to live life again. I’ll get there.

I don’t know what I would have done without my family and friends though. My brothers and my mom have been great sources of comfort, just talking to me. My husband has been very empathetic. And my friends have been INCREDIBLE. Yes, the deserve all caps. AMAZING. KIND. LOVING. AWESOME. I could go on, but I won’t. My friends and family reading this, I love you all so much. I might not have called you back or written you back yet. But I love you. And I will.

Now it’s time to try to sleep. Wish me luck.

See you later, Daddy.

My dad passed away last week. October 2, to be exact. I don’t like acknowledging that date because it’s so final. He now has this start and end date for his life, but his life was so much bigger than that. He’s always going to be a part of me. So, for me, his end date will be my end date, really.

I could write a literal novel on my father. He lived a truly full life. He was more sinner than saint, I won’t lie (because that would annoy him) but man, did he have a big heart. And he loved hard. Especially his kids and me, his little girl.

I will write more about my dad specifically on another blog I have yet to set up. Just one where I will write stories and invite those who knew him to participate. Since his passing, I’ve heard the CRAZIEST stories about him and I soak each one up. I can’t get enough. I want to know it all.

But for now, I’ll use this space to help me grieve. If that’s not your bag, I understand. I don’t want to be a downer. If you stick around and offer a little support though, well, I sure could use it.

Thursday morning, I woke up at 5:30 to use the bathroom. When I walked back into my room I made the mistake of looking at my phone. I noticed several missed calls and voicemails from “Dad’s Cell.” I knew it wasn’t my dad, he was in the ICU still, but due to be released the next day. Obviously, this was not a good call. To avoid waking Henry up (I’ve been co-sleeping again because that’s the only way I could sleep with the anxiety I’ve been feeling the past month of my dad’s hospital stay), I checked Facebook. I knew my brother would post something because he always did. “Things are stabilizing,” he wrote. “But we’re not out of the woods.” That was written like 4 minutes before I saw the message. So I laid back down and somehow, went back to sleep.

A little back story: my dad has been sick on and off since 2011. He had pneumonia and didn’t go to the doctor until it almost killed him. That really jacked up his lungs and heart. Last year, he went in for a cardio ablation that went horribly awry and he ended up in a medically induced coma and hospital bed for SEVEN WEEKS. He got a pacemaker and felt better, but lately, he just wasn’t doing well. He would call me and say, “Katy, everything hurts. Everything.” So when he ended up in ICU this time with sepsis, I was worried, but I knew he’d pull through. And after a couple weeks, his doctors were optimistic too.

But, the day before we was going to be released to a rehab clinic, his blood pressure just dropped and dropped and then went back up and stabilized…and then plummeted. And he was gone. Just like that. My brother Merritt called me and said, “he’s got minutes, Katy. Minutes.” And minutes later, he called me back and said, “it’s over.” I had to ask him what that meant because I couldn’t comprehend that my father was dead, never coming back. I still can’t.

My brothers and step mom were there, and I’m so grateful for that. An offer to fly me and Henry out there 2 weeks prior was put on the table but I didn’t want to go all the way out there when he was going to be released soon. No, I’ll wait til he’s home and then bring Henry out. My dad was crazy about Henry. My brother showed him a video I sent of Henry play cooking on his toy kitchen and my dad smiled really big. He couldn’t talk and he was miserable, but Henry made him smile.

Chris asked me if he should stay home from work to be with me and I said, oh no. Of course not. Go. I’ll be fine. I cried a lot but nothing major to freak out Henry. Just a little when my back was turned. Until I looked at my phone and thought, hey. Maybe there’s a voicemail or 2 from my dad. Should I look? I did and there was. One in July. Henry was napping and the apartment was quiet. I just froze, staring at it. 21 seconds long. I pressed play. There was his voice. “Hi baby. Just calling to see what’s going on. Call me back if you want to. I love you.” My knees buckled and I fell to the floor. I was in Henry’s room, holding the rails of his crib, sobbing and screaming “Daddy!” Yes, it was not my finest moment and certainly the first time I’ve ever had a reaction like that. Henry was still napping in my room (so grateful for a deep sleeper). I stood up after a minute and I ran to the bathroom and threw up. That was also a first. That’s when I knew that this grieving process was going to be a long, hard one and I better ask for help when I need it. So I called Chris and asked him to come home. I needed him.

He stayed home with me on Friday too. It was so nice to go in my room, put on music, look at pictures and cry. Henry was in the living room playing and laughing with his dad, so I had no worries there. I was allowed to just cry and think and talk aloud.

Night time is the hardest. I don’t want to fall asleep. I don’t want the nightmares to come. I don’t want to have to wake up the next day and face that reality again. I take a couple Tylenol PM and try hard to stay awake. I only fall asleep when my body involuntarily does it for me, but I fight til the last second.

When I wake up, it hits me again that he’s gone. I can’t just call him and ask him about his crossword puzzle or the latest book he’s read or what Stephanie Miller said on her show that day. He was a Stephanie Miller super fan, almost to a scary degree, and I loved teasing him about it. A world where I can’t talk to him is just not a world I ever imagined and it’s not one I care for too much to be honest.

But I try to think of my dad and what he’d say to me right now if he could. He’d tell me to buck up, live life, laugh, love on Henry, be happy, be successful, if not for me, then him. Honor him in that way. Cry, grieve, scream, kick, get it all out. And then get over it. That’s exactly what he’d say, probably with a expletive thrown in here or there. So that’s what I’m trying to do, and it’s hard, but I’ll get there.

For now, I have pictures and that voicemail, which I have listened to several more times, and his emails to me, and all of the wonderful memories. I was lucky. I had a dad who walked me down the aisle at my wedding, who saw me graduate college, and always supported me. Sure, I would have liked to have him around longer than his 65 short years, but we don’t always get what we want. We have to cherish what we had.

Rest in peace, Daddy. I’m always thinking about you and I love you forever.

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Updates and stuff.

Sorry for the lag in posts. I don’t get on the computer very often, and when I do it’s for fun stuff like deleting 2000 spam emails and paying bills.

I recently wrote a little column for the mother’s group newsletter that does a good job of explaining my feelings toward moving here and how I deal with transitioning. I’ll post that for your enjoyment soon.

Some updates before Henry wakes up from his 9 am nap (the result of waking us up at 5 am):

  • Henry is 19 months old and stranger danger is in full effect. He dislikes most people except me at the moment and other kids at the park. I’m hoping it passes soon so I won’t feel so guilty about maybe hiring a babysitter so Chris and I can enjoy some wine in this beautiful county of Sonoma.
  • Speaking of parks, that’s what we do most days. That stretch from nap time to bed time is looooong and I like to get him good and worn out. The only downside is since school is out, a lot of day cares and summer programs hang out at the parks too so I usually single out one or two “big kids” to watch out for Henry since he insists on climbing the jungle gym solo while other, larger, wilder children are jumping around on it. Not good for my nerves, at all. So far, it’s been alright though. 
  • I’ve made a couple friends and Henry’s had several play dates. I’ve already seen a change in how he plays and interacts with us, and I have a couple friends now, so it’s positivity all around in that regard.
  • I am very, very homesick. That will probably never change. 
  • Still homesick, but very happy we moved here if we had to move anywhere. I love the people, the scenery, the food, the atmosphere, the farmer’s markets, the proximity to San Francisco, all of it. It’s great. 
  • There is more that I can’t think of right now (got awoken at 5 am, remember?) I promise I will start writing with more substance. Someday. Here are some Henry play time pics to make up for it.

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F.U.N.

Well this week has just been a ball of fun.

Last Thursday, Henry and I met up for another play date at a park. As I was getting him out of his car seat, I noticed his nose was runny. Shit. His eye was watery too though, so I thought it could just be allergies. The next day, Friday, he was pretty normal and I didn’t notice anything amiss, except he was fussier than usual. On Saturday, we dragged him to the car dealership so we could sign off on our new SUV and I could tell he was just not feeling good AT ALL. Then came Sunday. Oh, Sunday. The poor kid was miserable. My champion sleeper who usually goes 11-13 hours a night only got about 9-10 and woke up at 5:30 screaming. I felt so bad for him the whole day as he struggled to nap, only getting 20-30 minutes here and there, where he usually takes 1.5-2 hour naps. On Monday, I noticed a bad red rash ALL OVER his body so off to the pediatrician we went. The verdict was double ear infection and roseola. After a couple day on antibiotics, he’s finally feeling better. If you can’t tell, this is the first time he’s been this sick. He’s had fevers before, but nothing like this. The kicker? Chris and I are sick too. FUN TIMES UP IN HERE.

Did I mention that Chris was in a car accident and our insurance company wanted to total it? Yeah, so hello car payments again. We needed a larger vehicle anyway, but my cheap ass wasn’t ready yet. I paid off that car in 2011 and I was so proud of myself. It was my first newish car (4 years old when I bought it) and I actually cried when I saw the photos of it all crumpled up and getting ready to be stripped for parts. I’m way too sentimental.

The cherry on the fun cake happened this morning when I finally put batteries back into our scale. I knew I gained some weight since moving here but I didn’t know how much. People. No. I shouldn’t have done that. Or maybe it’s good because that’s it — no more excuses. I’m losing this weight. I’ll write about it here to keep me motivated so get ready for that. We don’t have money for a gym membership so it means lots of walks with Henry, some floor exercises during nap time, and NO MORE ICE CREAM. We eat a lot of ice cream.

Henry is 18 months old today! I love that he’s still happy, even when sick. He’s the real reason I need to get healthier. I need to be around for as long as possible.

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Play dates, Alicia Keys, and Xannies.

I did it. I went on the play date. And it was awesome. The woman I met was super cool and we had a ton in common. We’ll be meeting up again on Monday, and I’m looking forward to it. Henry doesn’t care either way, but I’m sure he will be excited to play with some new toys.

I am officially a member of the Mother’s Club so I’m going to start flashing that card around and getting discounts on some baby music and tumble classes. Henry LOVES music. I know all toddlers do, but do all toddlers stop whatever they’re doing/playing with when a song comes on and run into the other room to listen? I don’t know. Maybe. I’m not a toddler expert. But he does and it’s really cute. When he was 6 or 7 months old, I used to play this song for him in the car on repeat because it was the only thing that soothed him. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that his favorite thing to do now is steal my iPhone and navigate his way to this video:

(Before you ask, it’s a video that came with the album download and also, this is not the exact video, but almost identical. Funnily enough, there’s another AK video on there he watches a lot too. What can I say? Cultured.)

After the opening piano segment, he rewinds. And rewinds. And rewinds. I really want to foster this love of music and piano and get him in some toddler music classes, which he did a little of back in ABQ and had fun but I think he’d get more out of it at this age.

I was messaging a friend today that I was a little worried about Henry because he’s such a calm, mellow kid who prefers to sit and read books or play on the floor as opposed to running around like a maniac, which I assumed all toddlers did. I could feel her silent judgement through the phone as a I typed and then just felt stupid. What kind of weirdo worries about that? I’m seriously considering getting on a low dose of xannies because I get anxiety over every. stupid. thing. these days.

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This face!

Time to go binge watch Orange is the New Black while Henry naps. Enjoy your weekend, y’all.

The slide.

Last week I was the uppity up. Now I’m kinda on the down slide, but I’ll claw my way back up, don’t worry.

What’s this all about? Well, let’s talk about insecurity because I am just rife with it today. The prospect of meeting local moms for play dates this week is exciting and terrifying. I’ve never really felt like this before, like people won’t like me when they meet me. But when I think of moms, I don’t think of someone like me. I think of bake sales and clothes from Ann Taylor Loft and Talbots. Soccer moms. Moms who do lots of crafts. Moms who cook out of cookbooks and make gluten-free muffins for breakfast. I could go on, but these false images of what all of these moms are like (obviously false since I’m a mom and have friends who are moms who are nothing like this) are paralyzing me. What it really boils down to is good old fashioned low self-esteem. I’m still working in losing weight (I’ll be fighting that battle for the rest of my life); my skin has never been dryer (tell me how it’s possible to move from the desert to 20 minutes away from the ocean and haver DRYER skin??);  I have no new clothes and refuse to buy anymore until I’ve lost weight because if I could lose 20 lbs, I’d have a whole new wardrobe and I’m cheap; post partum hair loss is making a second appearance (not as bad as the first time, but still sucks); and to top it all off — I’m still nervous about this whole situation away from my friends and family and life that I loved.

I’m probably not making sense. That’s ok, this is just a brain dump. I need to get out of this rut. I have a play date on Thursday and maybe even one tomorrow. Chris was in a car accident last week, so we are down one car until we get the rental. He’s fine, thankfully.

Henry is awesome though, and for that I’m beyond grateful. For real. He’s such a sweet, fun, easy going boy. No complaints in the toddler department.

So let me wallow just a little longer and then get my shit together. Not to say there won’t be more wallowing. The goal is to get the wallowing down to weekly or monthly events instead of daily or hourly.

On the up & up.

It’s amazing to me how getting thrown out of my comfort zone in every single way has actually been good for me. Who would have thought? (Almost everyone you ever hear talk about comfort zones and getting out of them).

Anyway, after a weekend of exploring this truly gorgeous, fabulous area (Sonoma County, Google it) I am feeling so much better about life here. We drove through vineyards and around curving hills where the grass flows in the breeze and cows are lazing around and sheep frolicking. We drove up the Sonoma coast and along the Russian River Valley through the Redwoods. We made plans for the future and talked and laughed and spent time with our son as a family. It’s what I needed in a big way.

sonomacoastIt was cold and I forgot his jacket. He was not thrilled.

I signed up for the mother’s group here in town today. I already have a play date for next week with a mom who has a son the same age (and nap schedule) as Henry. By the way, if you don’t have kids yet, the nap schedule always comes up in conversation when making plans unless you are one of those people with children who don’t have a nap schedule and are totally fine if no nap is had. In that case, shut it. My son runs to the bedroom door with his blanket and pacifier at nap time and giggles as I put him into bed, sooooo it’s kinda important we don’t mess that up. So I’m excited and nervous for the play date. Like I said, this stuff is out of my zone de comfort, but I know that’s what I need right now to make the changes that are needed. Like friendships and a social life, for instance.

For the most part, I’m feeling good about life here in the Bay Area and the future. It’s taking me back to my previous life in Los Angeles where despite not really enjoying living there, I felt like opportunity was abound. I have that same feeling here, but with much nicer people and a greater sense of community. Also, they celebrate something called Butter and Egg Day here SO THAT CAN ONLY BE GOOD. All caps.

So yeah. Things are looking up.

 

 

Trains and tantrums.

My social media experiment worked and also did not work. See, I didn’t tell people I was deactivating so I made some friends get all panicky (since they know I’ve been bummed lately and all). So I reactivated, but deleted all the apps from my phone. So now I’m just checking it when I can get on an actual computer, which is not a lot since Henry does not like me being on my laptop. Not unless he can punch every key, I mean. The Facebook detox worked because I barely picked up my phone today, except to text a few friends occasionally and checking work email (just to see if I had any). But before, I had my phone glued to me, checking it constantly for….nothing. Really. Nothing. So, maybe I’m making progress in kicking this addiction.

So yesterday I decided to put Henry in the car and just drive. I needed to see what else this town had to offer. I found out there is a post office, a Starbucks, and a chinese place like 2 blocks away. That is very handy. Then we drove to Trader Joes. As I got out of the car and walked toward the store, I saw a little toy store next door. The door was open and it looked so inviting, I had to take Henry in. The place is adorable and had all kinds of toys out for the kids to play with. Henry played with trains and a toy kitchen and had a blast. As a matter of fact, I had my first public toddler meltdown when it was time to leave (after an hour). He did that limp noodle move when I tried to pick him up.

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Am I the only mother who finds these things kind of humorous? I’m sure it won’t be so funny later on, but right now, I have a hard time not laughing when he pulls that stuff. However, I know it’s not cute to anyone else, so we do exit the premises with the quickness as to not disturb the peace. We never did make it into Trader Joes. Henry snapped this pic of me as I was putting him in his car seat (the phone was my only line of defense in getting him to sit still).

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I also emailed the local mother’s club for info on joining. Joining this group will take me waaaaaahaaahaaaay out of my comfort zone as I usually don’t like group settings with strangers and have bad experiences with other moms in general. HOWEVER. I need to get out this house, I need to make friends, my kid needs playmates and most importantly, having a support system is necessary and it seems that’s what this group excels at. I guess I’ll keep you posted.

**Please excuse the photos in this post. I was playing around with Afterlight to edit them and it (I) need some work.

Stepping back. Or to the side. I’m not sure.

A friend of mine posed a question on Facebook recently: When was the last time you got annoyed with anyone that wasn’t because of something they said on Facebook? I’m paraphrasing awfully. Her question was much more eloquent. But it rang true for me. I get SO ANNOYED by people I usually treasure by things they share, post, or do on Facebook. These things are starting to define these people for me, and who knows how many people think less of me from the BS I post on a daily basis (for the record, mostly Henry pics). But still! I got into a heated exchange with a girl that I have known since 2000, an ex college roommate. I love this girl and think the world of her. Then I post an article she doesn’t agree with, she kinda attacks the article, I attack her, and now a bitter taste is left in my mouth even though we hugged it out. Over what? A Facebook post? Ridiculous.

On a larger scale, I’ve had to hide the feeds of people I care about because everything EVERYTHING they post makes me roll my eyes. It isn’t their fault, it’s mine and my weird hang ups on different topics. In real life if these topics come up, we can discuss them, laugh about them, move on. On social media, it sits there and stares at you all day until more crap pushes it off your page. A cycle of never-ending stupid. I’ve lost friendships over misunderstandings on Facebook. Real, long-standing friendships. They see a picture and jump to wild conclusions and delete me and never talk to me again. Yes, this happened. So I’m taking a break. I doubt anyone will even notice, unless they read it here or wonder where their daily Henry pic has gone. And those who do notice will text me and we’ll talk and then I will re-activate it soon, and most will be none the wiser. Either way, I’m backing way off. Maybe I’ll have more time for blogging. Wouldn’t you be so lucky.