My darling boy

April 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm (Uncategorized)

[Yes, I realize it’s been almost a year since I last posted. A lot has happened this year that probably should have been on this blog. Too bad. This post isn’t for you. It’s for Elliot.]

Elliot, my darling, my sweetest little one, my bug.

You are 372 days old because a week ago I didn’t take the time time sit down and write this to you. It’s amazing how many things I mean to do every day that just don’t get done.

Like laundry.

And blog posts.

And editing pictures.

But every day, I love you a little bit more. Every day I try to make you laugh. Every day I long to see you smile. And I have done every one of those things almost every single one of the last 372 days. I’ve certainly done each one every day since you’ve started smiling on purpose and laughing.

It’s hard to think back to our life with you in Albuquerque. It’s hard because you weren’t a part of it for very long, and it’s hard because my heart broke for you just about every day. Oh, my darling boy, it’s hard to put into words what it was like and how hard it was. Your poor belly just hurt you so much, and my heart hurt to hear you cry and scream. I felt so helpless and so scared. So I carried you and we walked. And walked. And walked. And bounced. And I rocked you while standing.

And I stopped eating dairy. And we put you on reflux medication. And then we put you on different medication. And then I stopped eating soy. And then I stopped eating wheat and we adjusted your meds again. And then, suddenly, you got happy. I think it was because you felt so much better.

And ever since then you have been predominantly happy. And mellow. And my heart rejoices in it. In you.

And now you’re more than a year old. And I don’t know how the last year went by so quickly. And I’m excited to see what the next year will bring.

Now, you are my baby, and I love you with every fiber of my being. A year from now, you won’t be a baby anymore, but I assure you that I will love you even more. It seems strange to say that I can’t wait to get to know you, but it’s true. I have some idea now of who you’re going to be, but I get to spend the rest of my life getting to know you better, and I can’t wait.

I love you, little bug. I am so glad that I get to be your mom. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.



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Guess Who?

April 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm (Uncategorized)

Ok, I have no doubt that they will look different later and that Elliot’s pictures when he’s 4 will not look like current pictures of Nora. However, here’s a fun game.

Which of the following are pictures of Nora, and which are pictures of Elliot?

guesswho copy

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Elliot’s Life Story

April 21, 2013 at 4:53 pm (Uncategorized)

Disclaimer: this post was written on 4/20

Elliot Andrew Byrne came into the world at 11:53 am on Tuesday*, April 16. He weighed 7lbs 5oz and was 20 3/4in long.


That was just 4 1/2 days ago. These last 4 1/2 days have been tumultuous.

We spent roughly 30 hours in the hospital after his birth – mostly standard stuff: he passed his hearing test and his CHD (Congenital Heart Defect) Screen. He got poked a lot, and so did I. He slept a lot and had a lot of visitors (special shout out to Anne for bringing us our dinner Tuesday night!) I was really sore and felt like I’d gotten hit by a really tiny truck from the inside. We read him On the Day you were Born and cried. I sang to him.

Some non-standard stuff also happened: On Wednesday he choked on his own saliva at one point and couldn’t breathe briefly. This sent me into a total panic, especially when the nurse took him at a jog off to the nursery. A couple of squeezes of the bulb syringe later, he was fine. All was well other than my mental state. One of the techs (the one who conducted the Metabolic Screen) started calling him Sasquatch because his feet are so big. On Wednesday afternoon his bilirubin levels were elevated enough we weren’t sure if he’d get to come home, but after running an additional test they decided that as long as we kept an eye on the levels, we could go. So we did.

And at least one important thing didn’t happen: Nora did not get to meet Elliot in the hospital. We didn’t know she wouldn’t be able to until after he’d been born. Apparently it is still RSV season. No kids under 14 are allowed into the Mother Baby Unit. She was disappointed, but bore it like a champ. She got to sit in the waiting room, and both Ben and myself were able to go out and see her, which was wonderful.

We  came home Wednesday evening, and Nora finally got to meet her baby brother. She adores him.


She has a hard time keeping her hands off him and wants to help with everything. Really this is amazing, and while there is also definitely some resentment that Mommy is not as available as she was mere days ago, right now she seems thrilled to have him around. We toasted his arrival Wednesday night at dinner, but I cannot for the life of me remember the toasts. I remember hers being very sweet.

Thursday morning we were back at the hospital for a bili check. Elevated, but still fine. Another appointment got scheduled for Saturday morning.

Thursday, Ben and I slept some, hung out with Elliot, and had some visitors. It was pretty uneventful.

Friday was the eventful day. Dr. Appt in the morning: 23rd percentile weight, 76th percentile height. Almost identical to Nora’s numbers. We had more visitors, and I neglected to nap (BAD IDEA!). Then Elliot threw up (we are not talking regular spit up) all of his mid-afternoon feeding. He still seemed basically fine, so we didn’t worry until he threw up his next feeding as well. A call to the on-call pediatrician sent us scrambling to get Nora to my mom’s house and get Elliot to the pediatric ER. Heel sticks, x-rays and an IV. 5 hours in an uncomfortable room. The outcome: he’s fine, and we got to come back home at midnight. No one knows why he threw up. He hasn’t done it since. Ben and I were both total wrecks by the time we got home. But all is well. We got to skip the bili check at the hospital this morning since they checked his levels last night. We’ll check them again on Monday, but I really don’t think anyone’s concerned at this point.

This kid really needs to stop scaring me so much.

Thanks to Elliot being a good baby and Ben being a good Daddy, I got to spend some quality time with just Nora today. We both needed it. Ben and I were both nervous about our first day at home as a foursome, but we had a great day. A truly stupendous one if you take into account what a rough night we had. Elliot even got to go to Target for the first time.


And now it’s time for me to go snuggle this precious bundle for a while. Let’s hope everything else follows today’s trend and not yesterday’s.

It’s amazing what immense joy and intense fear these little things can produce in the depths of the soul. Here’s to more of the former and less of the latter.

*For those of you keeping score at home, both of our kids were born on Tuesday mornings. That is all.

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From Sputnik to Elliot in 11 “Easy” Steps

April 21, 2013 at 4:50 pm (Uncategorized)

Step 1: Have a particular contraction around 8pm Monday and think “Oh right, THIS is what the real ones feel like.”

Step 2: Start timing things, realize that there’s no pattern whatsoever, so visit with friends and go to bed to get whatever sleep I could (which was not much, maybe a half dozen 15-20 minute cat naps).

Step 3: Get up around 6:30 since contractions have been a lot more regular for the last 30 minutes. Walk some (3-5 minutes apart) and rest some (5-7 minutes apart).

Step 4: Let Ben take care of Nora and transportation concerns. Sit on the couch and moan a lot. Get dressed when he tells you you’re going to the hospital.

Step 5: 8:45 am, check in at OB Triage and ask them to call your midwife clinic for you to cancel your 9am appointment. Have Ben take the last picture of me pregnant. Possibly the last time I smiled for a few hours.


Step 6: Listen to Sputnik’s heart beat through the monitor, have lots of contractions (still 5-7 min apart), find out around 10am that I am 5cm dilated and on the cusp of heading into active labor.

Step 7: Take the midwife’s advice and go for a walk and get a snack. Go into active labor while eating a grilled cheese sandwich. Have contractions 2-4 minutes apart with rapidly rising intensity and decide to go back upstairs after 45 minutes (recommendation was to walk for 1-2 hours).

Step 8: Ask to be admitted. Check progress: 6 cm dilated, -2 station shortly after 11am. Authorize Ben to answer admission questions. Yell a lot. (Ben says it could still be called moaning. It felt like yelling.) Wonder how I’m going to possibly make it through.

Step 9: Tell the OB Triage staff they’d better get me to Labor and Delivery because I need to start pushing. (I don’t know what time it was, but it can’t have been much later than 11:30am). Watch them scramble and rush me through the waiting area into L&D. Hear them call out “Has anyone paged the midwife?”

Step 10: Sit on gurney through another contraction trying not to push (which is a ridiculous thing to try to do when every nerve in my body is screaming at me to push the baby out). Transfer to delivery bed. Briefly meet the “backup” OB doc who came in.

Step 11: Hear the midwife’s voice, ask if I can start pushing. Ask her if she’s kidding me when she says to hold off a bit. Try really hard when she reminds me that it’s so that I don’t tear. Pant, push a little at a time. Pant, push hard. Hear Ben say “you just gave birth to our son.” Hear Elliot cry. No, not cry, hear Elliot scream. Take my baby boy in my arms and drink him in. Time: 11:53am.


In the words of our regular midwife, we gave the midwife on duty the “thrill of the day.” 6cm and -2 to birth in roughly 45 min? NOT NORMAL.

Some stats:

  • Labor – 6 hours (I’ve decided to count labor as starting at 6am since that’s when the contractions became regular and starting increasing in intensity.)
  • Time at Hospital before Birth – 3 hours + a little
  • Stage 3 – 4 minutes
  • Stage 4 – 4 minutes (Ben and I have no idea what the stages are but remain amused that the last two were so short.)
  • Active Labor – 1 1/2 hours
  • Birthweight – 7lbs 5oz
  • Length – 20 3/4in

It was a thrill indeed, and now he’s here with us and we are all head over heels in love.

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Getting Ready

March 26, 2013 at 9:05 pm (Uncategorized)

Tomorrow I will officially be 37 weeks pregnant. In other words, baby Sputnik will technically be full term, and if I go into labor at any point from here on out, no one will try to stop it and no one will worry about his respiratory development (unless new data come in – knock on wood).


It doesn’t seem possible that we’re this close. Of course at this point in my pregnancy with Nora we were still 5 weeks away from meeting our daughter, but we didn’t know that at the time. I don’t think we’ll let it go that long this time around. I would still like to avoid an induction, but the induction wasn’t so bad last time, and I’m not sure it’s worth pushing things that far and fighting the establishment for it.

But anyhow, we’re actually getting ready now, and in some ways we’re quite ready.

We’ve got a crib and a bassinet and a changing table. The infant carseat has been found and cleaned, and as of tomorrow morning, it will be hanging out in the back of the car, just in case. We haven’t packed a hospital bag, but I’ve made a list. I think packing it might be a good early labor task for me. We’re meeting with our doula tomorrow, and I’ve put all the newborn clothes we have into the dresser. This little boy has a name, but we’re still not sharing it, so don’t ask. We have some diapers and lots of wipes, and I even crocheted him a hat today. Nora knows that she’s going to go with Grandma when it’s time for her brother to come out but that she’ll get to come meet him at the hospital.

In other ways, we’re totally unprepared.

My nesting instincts only sort of exist. I want to do things for the baby, but I want to do things like crochet hats and sew blankets. I believe some women (and men) have nesting tendencies that lead them to do things like clean their homes. I look around me at a house that is clearly inhabited by busy parents and a precocious almost-4 year-old and know that I should clean it. But really, making this blanket was WAY more fun.

DSC_0005 DSC_0006 DSC_0008

And then there’s also the issue that we really can’t ever be psychologically prepared, but we’ll just ignore that for now, shall we?

I am excited to meet our son and bring him home and into our family.

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March 15, 2013 at 8:19 pm (Uncategorized)

I should probably pace myself, but this conversation was too good not to report.

Aunt Mimi: Nora, if I give you this big bite of avocado, could I have a bit of your mac and cheese and broccoli?

Nora: Sure.

The trade comes off beautifully. Nora gets the avocado, Mimi gets a cheesy noodle and a piece of broccoli.

Grandma: Nora, if I give you this piece of lettuce, could I have a bite of your lunch, too?

Nora: well, I don’t particularly like lettuce.

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March 15, 2013 at 1:50 pm (Uncategorized)

Has it really been almost a year since we posted?

Yes, yes it has.

Sorry about that. Don’t know whom I’m apologizing to. Don’t know if anyone actually reads this blog. But yeah, in case anyone has missed it, sorry.


It seems silly to try to recap the last 11 months, so I’m not going to try. Unless you ask.


Please don’t ask, and I promise I’ll try to be better about posting.

Small things going on now:
We turned Nora’s toddler bed back into a crib and put it in the guest room.
We put the day bed from the guest room into Nora’s room.
Now Sputnik and Nora both have places to sleep. Well, Sputnik seems to occasionally sleep right where he is at the moment, but it’s good to know we’ve got a place for him on the outside as well.
I have been analyzing my data and have some good results.
It’s officially grilling, salad, and sandal season here.
Ben’s making a new game called Bacon Wars. It’s fun.
Baby’s due in a month.
We move in approximately 4 months.
I will defend my dissertation sometime in the next 13 months (I will, I will!)

That’s about it, but yeah, I’ll try to be better.

Here’s a picture of Nora I took in January that I like:


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The Princess Project – The Little Mermaid

April 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm (Uncategorized)

The music in this movie is great. Kiss the Girl and Under the Sea have to be two of the finest songs Disney has ever put together.

I kind of want to stop writing this post there and leave the rest of it up to your imagination, but I’m not going to do that.

The synopsis: We meet Ariel and her friend Flounder when they’re exploring a sunken ship while Ariel is supposed to be starring in a concert celebrating her father, King Triton. Whoops! When she remembers, Ariel returns home and gets told off by her dad.

With hurt feelings (understandably hurt – her father is quite hard on her), Ariel swims off to pout and dream in her secret cavern full of human artifacts. Oh, and she sings the first version of her “I wish” song in there too; we will be discussing that later.

When she leaves, she sees a boat overhead and goes to check it out. Then she sees Eric, the prince, and immediately falls in love. Then she sings the second version of her “I wish” song.

There’s a hurricane, and Eric gets knocked unconscious and knocked into the water, but Ariel saves his life by dragging him back to shore. Ariel sings to him but flits back into the water and swims home just as Eric is waking up.

King Triton knows Ariel is in love but is furious when he finds out she’s in love with a human. He comes to her secret cavern, blows up all of her stuff and forbids her from having anything to do with the human world ever again. So Ariel goes to see Ursula, the sea witch, who manages to convince Ariel to trade her voice for a pair of legs. If in three days the mute Ariel can get Eric to fall in love with her, she’ll stay human forever. If not, she’ll get turned into a creepy weed in Ursula’s garden. And off Ariel goes.

She finds Eric who is bummed she’s not the girl who sang to him, but is charmed by her beauty anyhow. Ursula sees that Ariel is making progress and decides to throw a wrench in the works by turning into a beautiful woman with Ariel’s voice.

Vanessa (a.k.a. Ursula) and Eric’s wedding ship sets sail leaving Ariel heartbroken on the pier. But the plan is discovered, Ariel is alerted, and the wedding gets stalled by an assortment of sea creatures and birds. In the mayhem, the shell where Ursula is storing Ariel’s voice gets broken, and Ariel gets her voice back, but the sun sets before Eric can kiss her, she turns back into a mermaid and is dragged into the depths by Ursula.

Triton offers to take Ariel’s place in the creepy garden leaving Ursula as the ruler of the ocean. Bad things happen including a giant whirlpool, but Eric manages to stab Ursula on the broken mast of an old ship that rose up because of the whirlpool. Ursula dies and Triton is restored as king. He sees how much his daughter loves Eric and turns her into a human for good.

Eric and Ariel get married and live happily ever after.

And here we go: The Little Mermaid is the first movie in the project to be rejected and essentially banned from our house. I want to point out that I know Nora will see it at some point at a friend’s house or a party or something, but I’m hoping that will be far in the future and she’ll know enough to reject Ariel on her own.

Ariel is terrible. Let me rephrase: Ariel is almost entirely terrible.

She is irresponsible.
She is not very nice to her friends (i.e. Flounder).
She totally disregards authority.
She is incredibly selfish.
She’s a terrible decision maker.


She is also curious, and she is open minded.

At the start of the movie, I thought there was a chance my memory of Ariel was incorrect and she’d be alright anyhow. The irresponsible, selfish bits may have been forgivable because of that curiosity and openness. I do like that she is not willing to write off humans as her father wants her to. I like that when she first sings the “I wish” song it’s about her curiosity.

She wants to be a part of the human world. She wants to read books and learn how to dance and see what it would be like on land.

“When’s it my turn?
Wouldn’t I love, love to explore that world up above?
Out of the sea
Wish I could be
Part of that world”

That’s pretty cool. Certainly she beats Snow White and Sleeping Beauty on this count. However, as soon as she sees the prince, her song changes.

“What would I give
To live where you are?
What would I pay
To stay here beside you?
What would I do to see you
Smiling at me?”

Suddenly, it’s all about the prince. That’s it. Her focus changes. We do still see some of her curiosity when she’s touring the kingdom with Eric, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that all she’s hoping for is a kiss from the prince. All she wants is him, and all she can do is be pretty. AND IT WORKS! Or it would work if it weren’t for Ursula.

I like that she’s independent, but Ariel’s independence largely comes from irresponsibility, and I don’t want my daughter watching a “heroine” flaunt authority, ignore her father, and forget about her responsibilities. I just don’t.

So, when Ariel’s got some positive character traits, you may wonder why this movie is out but Sleeping Beauty is in. Sure, Ariel’s got more depth than Sleeping Beauty, and she’s got some going things going for her, but the fairies rescued Sleeping Beauty as a movie. Without those three to use as role models, Sleeping Beauty would have been out as well. Ariel’s got no support in that arena. Ursula is the only other major female character in The Little Mermaid, and while Ursula is one of the best villains ever, she doesn’t exactly provide the strong female role model I can point my daughter towards.


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The Princess Project – Beauty and the Beast

April 10, 2012 at 10:15 pm (Uncategorized)

Okay, so I know I said that the next one would be The Princess and the Frog, but things changes sometimes. Also, I am still on the prowl for a copy of Cinderella on DVD if anyone wants to loan me one.

So here we go – Beauty and the Beast

Summary: The movie opens with a recap of why Beast is a beast. Namely, he was a spoiled prince who denied shelter to an ugly old woman who actually happened to be a beautiful enchantress. When she saw that the prince had no love in his heart, she changed him into a beast until he could learn to love and be loved in return, as long as that happened before the magic rose which would bloom until his 21st year wilted and dropped all its petals.

Then we get to Belle – she’s heading into town singing about wanting more from life while the townsfolk all sing about how beautiful and odd she is. It’s established that she loves to read, is totally misunderstood, and is wanted as a wife by the handsome, yet horrible, Gaston.

Maurice (Belle’s father) rides off to a fair, gets lost in the woods, and ends up at Beast’s castle. Some of the servants take pity on him, but Beast finds them, is furious (a fairly constant state for him at the beginning), and throws Maurice in a cell in the tower.

Meanwhile, Gaston shows up at Belle’s house to propose. It doesn’t go well for Gaston, and when he’s gone, we get to see my very favorite of the Disney princess “I wish” songs (more on these in the analysis). It goes like this:

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell, and for once it might be grand to have someone understand: I want so much more than they’ve got planned.”

The horse shows back up without Maurice, and Belle goes off to find her father. They find the castle, and Belle finds her way (with a little help) up to her father’s cell. Beast shows up and Belle offers herself as prisoner in her father’s place. Beast accepts, sends Maurice on his way, and gives Belle a much nicer room to stay in and orders to join him for dinner.

Maurice runs back to town and barges into the pub during an everyone-let’s-cheer-up-Gaston song, yelling about how the beast has Belle locked up. But as everyone already thinks he’s crazy, they just chuck him out in the snow. And Gaston decides that he can get Belle to marry him if he locks her father up in the asylum and offers Maurice’s release in exchange for her hand in marriage. Like I’ve said, this guy is a real winner.

Back in the castle, Belle refuses to have dinner with Beast since she’s not one for being bullied into doing things and gets yelled at as a result. But she sneaks out later and gets to have a fantastic dinner and song – the most entertaining of the movie. After dinner she gets a “tour” of the castle, but ditches her guides and makes her way into the forbidden west wing, infuriating Beast yet again. Beast throws her out of the castle (not physically, but he does yell a lot and tell her to go.

Belle gets attacked by wolves as she runs away with the horse, and she tries to fight off the wolves but is in real trouble when Beast shows up and saves her life. He gets really hurt in the fight, and instead of just riding on home with Philipe, Belle takes Beast back to the castle to tend his wounds. She also stands up to him, which is a first for Beast. Go Belle!

Then we get the Belle and Beast falling in love montage. After a very romantic evening, Beast asks if Belle is happy and she tells him that she is but wishes she could see her father. She gets to see Maurice through a magic mirror and discovers that he is  lost in the woods, alone and very sick. Beast lets her go because he loves her, but it’s not enough to break the spell.

Belle rescues Maurice (!), and takes him home to care for him, but Gaston shows up to throw Maurice into the asylum. Belle shows Beast to the townsfolk through the magic mirror to convince them that her dad isn’t crazy, but it backfires. Gaston convinces the townspeople to lay siege to the castle and kill the beast, and they all go tromping off to do so after locking Belle and Maurice in the cellar.

The enchanted inhabitants of the castle put up a brilliant fight, and all but Gaston go crawling back home. Gaston, however, goes looking for Beast in the castle and finds him. Meanwhile Belle and Maurice escape (aided by a teacup) and arrive back at the castle in time to get Beast to care about life again and actually fight Gaston.

They fight.

Beast has Gaston by the neck, but instead of killing him just tells him to go away and never come back. But while Beast is climbing back to Belle, Gaston stabs him in the back, loses his balance and falls to his death. Good riddance. Belle helps Beast on to the balcony and watches him die. She confesses her love just before the last petal falls, and Beast is transformed into a totally healthy human whom, I can only assume, she continues to call Beast forever.  The enchantment is lifted and they live happily ever after.


Undoubtedly you can already tell that I like Belle, and I like this movie. In fact, Nora has already seen this one.

Belle is strong, and she is independent, and the closest she comes to pining away for some prince is to say “and for once it might be grand to have someone understand.” That’s it, and I think that’s awesome. It’s also not love at first sight, which is good. Belle has to look past Beast’s gruesome appearance, forgive his initial treatment of her**, and see to his soul where there’s some good.

So let’s talk about those “I wish” songs. Every Disney princess sings an “I wish” song. Usually those songs introduce us to the characters and establish their deepest desires.

This is Snow White’s:
“I’m wishing for the one I love to find me today. I’m hoping, and I’m dreaming of the nice things he’ll say.”

Here is Aurora’s:
“I wonder, I wonder, I wonder if my heart keeps singing, will my song go winging to someone who’ll find me and bring back a love song to me?”

You’ll get to read about Ariel’s in the next post.

But here’s Belle’s again, just for comparison:
“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell, and for once it might be grand to have someone understand: I want so much more than they’ve got planned.” WOOT!

Yep, Belle is in.


** A caveat: When this project first came up and was getting some commentary on facebook and here, someone (I’m sorry I don’t remember whom) commented that Belle cures an abuser. I have thought a lot about that comment, and I was honestly worried that this movie (which I remembered so fondly) would be chucked out because of it. If Beast had ever laid a hand on Belle in anger, it would have.
I know only too well that not all abuse is physical, and I am not trying to downplay verbal abuse in the least. If Beast hadn’t shown up to save Belle and she’d managed to get away anyhow, she never would have looked back and never would have gone back to that castle. At least the Belle in my head wouldn’t have. What I see is a bully, not an abuser. It may be a short step, but it’s a step. Beast doesn’t try to manipulate Belle. He’s not some two-faced character who is nice one moment to win her trust and then mean the next. In fact, until she stands up to him when cleaning his wounds, Beast isn’t nice at all. The sort of kind things he says come from his kind-hearted servants.

Yes, I can see where this comment came from, and I don’t want to dismiss it entirely, but I’m going to put it aside for now, let Nora believe that people can change for the better (which I generally believe too) and that you should always do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.


Next up: The Little Mermaid – I’ve already watched it, but it’s past my bedtime. I’ll get the post up soon.

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What happens?

March 19, 2012 at 11:34 am (Uncategorized)

Favorite quote of Nora’s from the weekend:

“When we put peas up our nose, what happens? We blow them out?”

As far as I know she’s never actually done it, but I wouldn’t put it past her, would you?

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