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Archive for August, 2010

EYEBALLS *Updated*

Rowan’s eye appointment is in a little over an hour.

I have fed her nothing but carrots today, so I think she’ll pass with flying colors. Right? RIGHT?

Hold me, Internet.

*Edited to add*

Aaaaaaaand we’re back in the running for parents of Future Dominator of Planet Earth- Carrots and superior eyeball genes FOR THE WIN! Rowan OWNED that eye exam. She made it her {considers more appropriate way to say this…think thiink thiiiiiiink, cannot do it} BITCH. There was no hesitation and she even got the bonus round of letters the tech threw at her.

So for now we’ll leave the eyewear as a strictly fashion-forward-I-heart-Tina-Fey-accessory.

She would have been a damn cute 4-eyes. And let's face it, with our genes she most likely will be someday but hopefully she'll have a few more years as a 2-eyes.

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Eggshells

It’s hard for me to say things are going rough for my daughter. For one, most people don’t believe me. She is, for the most part, very sweet and charming around other people, strangers and extended family alike. She is smart and funny, lively and engaging. She is a high achiever, wanting to impress and please others, wanting to meet and exceed the expectations that surround her in a public setting. She is fiercely independent, but approval is still important to her.

She is a bundle of contradictions.

It’s a different story at home. A story, the specifics of which, I don’t really feel is fair game for the Internet, but one that shapes us nonetheless. It’s hard to see that charming, helpful persona stripped at the door. I can see that she has been fighting the impulses her body is sending her. I can see she has restrained and pushed back the feeling of the sand in her shoes, the hair binder on her head, the oily feel of the sunscreen on her body. She loses it at the smallest of requests. She refuses to eat. She refuses to leave the house. She doesn’t want to go out and put on the face she has grown accustomed to wearing. It’s so much work.

At home it’s safe to yell and scream and rail against herself and others. She is disciplined, yes, but she knows we love her even when she’s angry. Even when she’s sad. Even when she says she doesn’t love us. She knows we will stay when she tells us to GOAWAYGOAWAYGOAWAY. She knows we will hold her when she’s kicked all the mad feelings out of her body. When she’s ready to be held.

The older she gets, the harder it seems to be to bring her back from the edge. I feel like I’ve failed her because I kept expecting the behaviors to dissipate with age, that she would ‘get over it’ and the fact that they haven’t and she hasn’t is beyond aggravating. My patience stores have been wrung out and used up over and over. She doesn’t fit into any box that I, or any doctor can neatly diagnose, label and treat. Her desire to be a high achiever will most likely strike her from any programs that would help with the sensory issues that she so clearly has. She will pass any test you give her, with nothing but her sheer, powerful will.

Which is why we’ve put off trying to diagnose her with anything. Which interpreted another way means we’ve been putting off trying to help her. We didn’t want to be one of those parents. The ones that think just because their kid doesn’t like green vegetables that there must be something wrong with them and let’s let someone else deal with it. We kept thinking we were making too big a deal out of it. Ignore it! It will go away! And because of her personality, she has assimilated to social situations better and better over the last year and a half, but every problem that reared its head when she was 14 months old is present just as much today as it was then. Everyone says, “It’s a stage, she’ll get over it” but after 4 years of battles I am going to politely disagree. It’s more than a stage. It is who she has become, plain and simple.

After a particularly rough few days I asked Rowan if she would draw me a picture of herself when she is feeling angry. You can laugh, it’s a pretty funny drawing. It’s also ridiculously accurate. She is nothing but limbs when she is upset; pointy, flailing limbs that have engulfed the rest of her body. This is a picture of what she looks like when she’s feeling happy:

FYI: The scribbly lines are "an extra twirly skirt".

This Rowan is appearing to us rarer and rarer. We miss her. I’m so torn over sending her to Kindergarten on time. She is so excited to go, so excited to learn and make new friends. But I’m scared that after 7 hours of putting on a happy face, I won’t ever get to see happy Rowan again. I’ve contacted her Kindergarten teacher who sent me a very kind response, assuring me her classroom is not “one size fits all” and that she is more than willing to work with Rowan, and by obvious extension, us, to give her the most positive experience at school and at home. We have also made the decision to get her sensory issues evaluated. We’ve told ourselves *for years* nothing would come of it, but we owe it to her to get a definitive answer.

We want what everyone else wants for their kids: happiness. And her heart to fill up with just as much love as we can stuff in it.

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CAUTION!

(ACHTUNG!)

Randomness ahead!

*****

I got Bill the new Super Mario Bros for Wii last Father’s Day. It’s the one where multiple players can play the same board at the same time. This has not been good for our marriage, as we end up killing each other on accident more than helping the other out. Then I get mad that I was killed, even though it was (probably) an accident so I kill Bill’s mustachioed plumber on purpose. Only that really doesn’t solve anything because we are supposed to be working together to save the princess. We are not one of those couples that opperates well together when put in stressful situations. We are one of those couples that turn on each other by hurling turtle shells at one anothers’ faces.

Anyway, we’ve been stuck on playing  level 3-3 for probably 70 years now. It’s an ice world and true to life, when you walk on the ice you slip and may possibly fall down a bottomless crevice that first eats your soul and then sets you on fire while you just. keep. falling (I can only assume this is what happens after the wah-wah-wah YOU DIED music plays). After dying an inordinate amount of times, I made an executive decision to try to beat the board myself, for I was trying to save my marriage. It didn’t go as well as I had hoped and I died probably 76 more times and then you know what happened? It took pity on me! A little message box popped up and asked me if I wanted to see a demonstration of how the board should be played and then it sent Luigi in to do what I couldn’t. It felt weird at first but then I was all, Whatever Luigi, BETTER YOU THAN ME. Then it asked me if I would like to move on to the next board or try to play it myself and since I have no pride I was all, MOVE ON BITCHES!

*****

I use the Nike+ iPod application and device while running, which I really, really like. After I obtain a new personal best I get a congratulatory message from Paula Radcliffe. But…who is Paula Radcliffe and why is she congratulating me for shit when I run? What kind of motivation is that? I would much prefer this message, “Hello. This is Javier Bardem and that mile you just ran was so sexy I’m considering leaving Penelope for you.” I don’t want some chic my fingers don’t even have the energy to google, giving me a marginally interested pat on the back with her haughty British accent, because people with accents really always make me feel inferior and I think my iPod must know this. It’s completely backhanded. “I’m complimenting you but I’m British so really what I’m saying is you fucking suck. But in a way that’s so dignified you’ll never be able to decipher it.” Now I try not to obtain personal bests because I don’t want Paula judging me.

*****

This was the headline on the website for one of our local news stations:

“Craigslist killing suspect dead in Mass. suicide”

OK, really? I see that there is capitalization and a period after the “Mass.” so I know that they mean Massachusetts but COME ON. You didn’t have to abbreviate it like that, KARE 11. I know you did it on purpose so people who are maybe in a hurry or perhaps just a little slow would be all “Mass suicide? What? Where? How many people died?” Click click click. Or, “They hold mass for suicides now? I’m confused, I thought the catholic faith was decidedly not pro-suicide.” Click click click. For shame, news outlet for using mass suicide as a way to garner traffic on your stories.

*****

Bill and I share laundry responsibilities, which typically goes something like this, Step 1.) Christy sorts laundry, puts first load in and promptly forgets about it. Step 2.) Bill does everything else. The best is when my swimsuits are in because the boob pads inevitably come out of their boob pad homes when being flung around in the drier. So the little thin sort of/but-sort-of-not triangular pads need to be placed back into their slots, by means of a very small slit on the inside of the swimsuit top; this job being only slightly easier than re-stringing a pair of sweatpants that have been filled with hyperactive mexican jumping beans. That is to say, I don’t like doing it so much that I intentionally let Bill handle the load my swimsuit comes out of. Scruples? I HAVE NONE. I see him struggling with the boobie pads, trying to stuff them in and smooth them out with his giant man fingers that are not at all conducive to this task and instead of helping I pretend to be really engrossed with something so he has to figure it out on his own. WHAT?! Don’t you understand that it’s really hard and I don’t like doing it and twittle doodie fukes splarg he’s still not done but I have to look busy type type type etc type buffalo pancakes.

*****

The kids have been in a pretty big potty talk stage for, well, the whole summer. They think poopy head, pee-pee face and tootie-butt are the best words the English language has to offer. And while I appreciate this is a right of passage that every kid must go through and honestly I too think pee-pee face is pretty great, I can’t have them going around repeating these phrases once school starts. So when they start calling each other names I turn into a Very Responsible Parent that has Rules and Regulations and lay down the no potty talk and/or name calling rule, but Internet? They have found other ways to insult one another. It goes something like this:

R: {pointing to a picture on a box} I want this Littlest Petshop armadillo!

K: Dats not an armadillo.

R: Yes it is.

K: No it’s not! Not an armadillo!

R: Yes it is an armadillo!

K: No, it’s NOT an armadillo!

R: YOU’RE AN ARMADILLO!

K: NO, YOU’RE AN ARMADILLO!

R: NO, YOU’RE AN ARMADILLO!

Etc etc etc etc and onandonandonandon for infinity times pi.

I know I have to step in here but I can’t exactly pinpoint what I should be yelling at them for.  Yes, they are arguing but arguing is not really something we altogether discourage in this house as long as they are being respectful of each others’ personal space. There was no potty talk and yes, they were technically name-calling but would Armadillo as a defamatory remark really hold up in a court of law? It’s all so confusing. Usually I just get so annoyed with their repetitive persistence and steadfast conviction that the other is in fact an armadillo that I just snap and say “GAH! NO ONE IS AN ARMADILLO!” when secretly inside I am saying “You are BOTH armadillos.”

*****

Another headline:

“Mel Gibson ‘fine’ after car crash”

That sucks. I don’t even know why I read the news anymore. Nothing but depressing shit.

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Fuck. (I’m sorry for saying fuck , but FUCK.)

Every single person in my family has glasses. Every single person in Bill’s family has glasses (or has had Lasik). The ONLY person related to Rowan that doesn’t need corrective lenses is HER FATHER. Upon our nuptials I told Bill it was his absolute duty as a father to pass his superior eyeball genes on to our fetuses. I don’t care if he had to bribe certain sperm, wine and dine them, sing them 80’s ballads every night or even play Kenny G if necessary. WE NEED THEM. THEY ARE IMPERATIVE TO OUR SPAWN’S FUTURE ROLE AS DOMINATORS OF PLANET EARTH.

I watched Rowan take the eye test and noticed she missed a few or said she couldn’t make out the shapes on the lower lines, but they seemed pretty small to me so I figured it wasn’t a big deal. Then her pediatrician came in and said she may need glasses. I politely told her she must be mistaken or maybe just crazy? She didn’t understand. I had a deal with my husband and his sperm. She said she wanted Rowan to go to an optometrist to get re-tested. I assured her there was a mistake, Rowan wasn’t used to the doctor’s office and was probably distracted by having to hold a hand over one eye. After all, her preschool had vision and hearing testers come in last spring and she passed just fine.

She offered to retest her with both eyes. Good! Idea!, I encouraged. She tested her using shapes: FAIL. Then letters: FAIL. Maybe she was having an off day? NO, dramatic denial-ridden parent, make the appointment.

My last hope that Bill’s superior eyeball genes are just being lazy mothereffers is that about half the kids that originally flunk the pediatrician office test go on to pass the optometrist test just fine. I’m hoping that this is the case but after watching her squint and struggle to guess at the lines on the wall I’m not so sure.

And on a completely different topic, I would like to do a little PSA for parents of future 5 year olds: Vaccinating a 5 year old is the worst thing you will ever have to witness and participate in, in the entirety of your whole live. Fight or Flight will kick in. They will fight. Blood will be shed. Some of it will be yours. They will hold you personally responsible.

No big deal, just FYI.

PS. I’m fully aware that getting glasses isn’t the worst thing in the world (Pay attention! Vaccinating a 5 year old is!) but I did NOT enjoy them past the 3rd grade, when I intentionally flunked the sight test. And also? KERCHING KERCHING.

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I recently got this comment from Belle:

“Can you tell me (however briefly you want because I know you have important things to do like wallow in future kindergarden stuffs) how you developed your lovely photography skills? Were you ever a complete idiot like me who only knows how to use a simple ole digital camera and point and click a button? What camera do you have? How did you learn to use it? Gahhhhh.”

I thought I’d put together a super helpful post about how I got to where I am with my photography skillz (true fact: skillz spelt with a z signifies how awesome you are at something.) because I’ve gotten this question before from like, real live people and stuff.

First let me blow the shit out of a myth that snooty photog people like to tell you which is “You can use any camera as a medium for your art and take beautiful, Pulitzer and frame worthy photos.” These people are LYING TO YOU WITH THEIR LYING LIES. There are some incredibly artsy people that probably can make a beautiful photo out of a shoebox, Rolaids, duct tape and a flashlight, but chances are if you are asking this question you are not one of those people. I certainly am not one of those people. So my first step in achieving world domination through photography, is to get thee a DSLR camera. I have this one. I don’t care which one you get but it should be really big and ostentatious.

I will not lie, they are expensive. I have come across very few things that are actually worth their exorbitant price tags. This (along with BOB jogging strollers and Apple anything) is one of those things that are worth every penny I paid for it. Part of it was that when I just had a small point and shoot {even though that too cost dolla dolla bills}, I forgot about it. I would throw it in my purse for an occasion and promptly forget about its existence*. Then I would pull it out a month later and the battery would be dead and it’d be covered in cracker crumbs and lip gloss. It was very sad. My Rebel on the other hand, cannot be forgotten, mostly because it’s gigantic. How can you forget you have an anvil around your neck**? YOU CAN’T. THAT SHIT’S HEAVY.

Another reason you will use this camera more is because you will look really cool wearing it. It is not a camera, it is an accessory! Like a monocle or an ascot! People will automatically assume you are awesome when you wear it. They will let you: The Professional, and your giant ass camera cut to the beginning of the line at fancy nightclubs and you will probably be asked to dine with royalty or at least maybe some Real Housewives.*** The point here being, that you will use something more if it has the inherent ability to make you famous and when you have to carry it around your neck versus something that doesn’t make you famous and that you can stow away in the dark seedy underbelly of your purse.

(*The only time I miss my point and shoot is when I’m at the bar because big camera’s are definitely a hindrance to booty shaking and taking sneaky drunk pictures of your sisters hitting on inappropriately aged college boys.

**Does not actually weigh as much as an anvil.

***This is most likely completely untrue.)

I went with the Canon because previous to this camera, I had a phobia of camera menus. If I pressed the landscape button would I ever be able to figure out how to get it back to portrait? Will the camera blow up if I keep it in Macro mode to long? What does Macro even mean? OH GOD I SWITCHED TO VIDEO AND I CAN’T GET BACK TO PICTURE SOMEONE HELP ME! I’M MELTING… MELTING….WHAT A WORLD etc etc. I don’t know much about Nikon but Canon has a reputation for user-friendliness and I can testify that I can use the menu without crying angry tears of frustration or without feeling I need to carry out vengeance against the family members of its maker, so this is a plus.

Another pro for a DSLR is that you will feel superior to those around you with point and shoots, giving you the confidence to take better photos. You will at once obtain a feeling of great power from the camera and you will be immediately besieged with the feeling of wanting to challenge other cameras to old timey duels. You might think this is a bogus theory but I am here to assure you it is definitely not. FACT: Earlier this year at Rowan’s dance dress rehearsal I popped into the front row to take some pictures of her. I was confidant. I was a rockstar. Then this mother, who happened to be a professional photographer, sat down next to me with her gigantic Nikon that had a lens that could eat my lens for a moderately satisfying pre-breakfast snack. Now ask me how those pictures turned out, GO AHEAD, ASK.

They did not turn out. That gigantic camera ruined my mojo. I also brought the wrong lens, had it on the wrong setting and was sitting at a really weird angle. No matter. It is still clearly the other camera’s fault.

So to sum up? I do believe I need this camera to get the shots I get. I think it takes superior pictures. And by extension I am superior to all other life forms on earth, or have I not made that part clear yet?

In all seriousness though, a year ago I was a total imbecile when it came to photography. The camera helped a ton and I did learn quite a bit by just playing around with it. That said, I didn’t start taking pictures confidently until 2 things happened.

1.) I got this lens for portraits. It’s the greatest lens on planet earth and it’s ridiculously affordable when compared to other lenses. I would not even recommend getting a DSLR without this lens to go along with it. You can take a picture of a giant heaping pile of dog shit and when you print it off it will look like the majestic rolling hills of Ireland. True story.

2.) I benefit from the hard earned knowledge of others. The instruction manuals to these sorts of things might as well not even have a section written in English because it all reads like the wingdings font to me. There are people out there on this great beautiful Internet that dumb this shit down for me, thank you baby Jesus. I gained a ridiculous amount of insight on the main functions of how to step away from the automatic mode and manually use my camera (which is really what the camera gods intended) from these posts by Manic Mother: ISO, shutter speed, rule of thirds, exposure triangle, and Aperture. She has a Nikon, but her partner in the blogography tutorials demonstrates with a Canon. These tutorials made a ton of difference in understanding the giant status symbol hunk of plastic and glass that I constantly had strung around my neck. I still panic slightly when I try to take pictures in dark settings without the flash, but holy hell when they turn out it’s ridiculous how much better using the camera’s functions can be, instead of relying on the flash. I’m also really excited to follow the new section of photography tips from Heather, as she is back in school for photography at the moment and sharing what she learns.

Other than that I’m here to tell you that almost everyone who takes pretty looking pictures adjusts them in a program before posting them on the internet or printing them off. My fear of Photoshop and it’s pestilent layers is still going strong but I can do all my editing in the current version of iPhoto, which actually gives you a good number of editing options such as sharpness and saturation which I use to some degree on almost all of my photos. It’s easy to get carried away with some of the options, turning the subject of your photo into some sort of smooth skinned unblemished robot child that has every last hair on his head ultra defined, so use them sparingly until you figure out how comfortable you are skewing reality. If you happen to like smooth skinned unblemished robot children then by all means, carry on with your definition and your highlights at full tilt.

I hope this was helpful! At least know that if I can produce photos that don’t make people’s eyes bleed, anyone can do it! No really, ANYONE.  And also, that photography is actually pretty fun. I was always intimidated by it and thought you needed some sort of blessing from a good fairy at birth to be able to have a flair for it but that’s just not true at all.

PS. I did not mean to hurt any of you lovely delicate flowers out there who swear by and heart your point and shoots.

PPS. OK, that’s a lie, I totally did.

PPPS. I can say that because I was once like you.

PPPPS. That means I once sucked. But you don’t suck, I promise. In any case you probably suck less than I once sucked. Because that sentence totally makes sense.

PPPPPS. Some people (LIKE ME) should not be allowed to do post scripts, should they?

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Five, Rowan J

Five years ago, we looked like this…

And now we look like this…

Happy Five, Rowan J. This year is going to full of wonderful things...

Just try not to get eaten by the Aquatic Ninja Grizzly Bear Gang, please.

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It is so strange to think that tomorrow I will have a five year old. I will be done with 4 for a glorious 15 and a half months. To be honest, 4 was kind of an asshole. Well, maybe more like a snotpants, a total dramatic snotpants.  Rowan, you had some really tough moments this year. The worst of which made me feel that someone got it wrong and I shouldn’t have been allowed to be your mom because I can’t figure out how to handle you. But we keep going and sometimes we break through, or we simply go around and move on. And here you are, still mostly untraumatised at drawing me for a mama.

After MUCH research here is what I’m very professionally diagnosing you with: INDIVIDUALITYITIS. This means you are who you are and there is really no perfect comparison, no perfect personality type. You are spirited yes, but not in a conventional way. You are compulsive yes, but you can certainly stand a mess and you’ve been able to play games that help you work around having to line things up just so.  I now know that you will never be one of those easy, laid back, go with the flow kids. There is no magic age when you’ll just be compliant. You don’t fall into any category or under any label that you don’t try to bust your way out of, knowingly or unknowingly.

You are so damn individual, frustrating the hell out of your parents when we just crave an answer to why you behave a certain way. We want something concrete so we can better handle some of your quirks but halfway into nodding our heads on one explanation we find ourselves pausing and then slowly shaking them. After circling seven YESes we see the pattern of NOs taking shape. No, that’s not you. It is, but it isn’t. Not one more than the other. Back to square one.

This may sound negative but Rowan J, it is far from it. It is what many people strive for their whole long lives. To be only themselves, not projections or reflections of those around them. You are unflinching and outspoken, true, but you are so full of love and that makes all the difference. Oh my god! This is totally like the difference between Harry and Voldemort! So I guess what I’m saying is, use the love you have within you and surrounding you for good, like maybe trying not to claw my eyeballs out when it’s time to put sunscreen on you. See how that works?

Things that define you at this moment in time…

*Trying to involve me in existential conversations at bedtime. It invariably starts out with “But mommy I don’t want you to go…” and then somehow we are taking about what a soul is and how it lives in your body but is not actually a corporeal thing and how there are two meanings for heart, the actual physical one in your chest and the one that OK fine, we still perceive of as in our chest but it is again not really a tangible thing and then it ends with me asking “Does that make sense? Sorta?” and you responding, “Uhh…yeah?…I mean no.”

*Playing with your brother. I get that having a little brother can be a pain in the ass. They are typically seen as smaller and cuter and they are definitely able to get away with more. Sometimes you get a little more aggressive, or physical with him than I would like but most of the time? You are an amazing big sister. Recently we went to the water park and there was a little slide the two of you went down (and down and down, ad nauseum). You held hands going down then walked on your hands while kicking your legs out behind you (which PS equates to swimming to the 5 and under set) and you laughed together, genuinely enjoying each others’ company. At the end of the day you said “Mom Keaton is my best friend and he always will be.” I knew that whatever euphoric high you reached from 4 hours swimming in chlorine would not last  (it didn’t) but in that moment I could see how much you loved your brother, and it makes all the other crappier times a little easier to get through.

*Doing nothing but having fun. Don’t get me wrong, fun is actually a lot of work with 2 small children, but we’re doing it and soaking up the end of an era.  Can I sound more damning about Kindergarten? Probably. I’m actually holding back quite a bit. Sometimes I fantasize about getting an RV and taking off down the open road. Or better yet a SPACESHIP. Kindergarten will never find us in space!

Instead we’re settling for days at the beach where I sit in the water and let you paint my legs with muddy sand (no chiggers yet, KNOCK KNOCK) and I swing you by the arms so your feet scale the top of the water and we play dolphins and seahorses. We go to indoor playgrounds and outdoor playgrounds and visit Grandpa in the cemetery. We make popcorn and watch movie after movie. I read chapter books to you and work with you on sight words and sounding out familiar words in Biscuit books. We color in coloring books and play make-believe game after make-believe game where I am the Prince and you are the Princess and I “don’t even notice” you, until I get the go ahead to notice you. Then I notice you and say something about your lovely hair or dress and we start all over again. (Truthfully? I don’t really get this game. It’s really confusing about when I’m allowed to notice things but it makes you happier then anything else we play, so on it goes.)

So many things are going to change for you at 5, Rowan. I’ve never been a mom to a five year old before, so try to be as patient as you can and I will promise nothing short of all I can: to be there. And I don’t mean stalking you outside the windows of your Kindergarten classroom (or DO I?). A lot of things will change for you but I won’t. I will be your constant (I MISS LOST) in what will be a big transition year and although I may be more scared than you are about what this next year has in store, I promise to not let it show. I believe in you, kid. I really do.  

So I’ve made a slideshow of Rowan’s 365 days of 4. I’m not going to lie to you Internet, it’s long. So feel free to skip it (like you need my permission?) or just watch a few minutes. Like other slideshows I’ve done, some of the pictures have already been posted here, but many have not. The music was selected by one factor which was OMFG!REGINASPEKTOR!BBQ!!!! The girl is so obsessed with Ms. Spektor that she named all of her feline Littlest Petshops: The Regina Spektors. Yes, they are collectively Regina Spektor. Not one is more Regina Spektor than the next. Also Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which Regina Spektor did not sing but if she had Rowan’s head might have exploded with happiness and possibly rainbows.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=14177896&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Rowangirl at 4 from Christy Gunter on Vimeo. (Click the Vimeo link if you want to see the bigger version, the embedded version is very teensy weensy and sort of eyeball murdering.)

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